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Ancient Greece: The Persian War

Imagine 800 BC in ancient Greek days. At the time, the city-states of Greece were occupied by too many people, causing many without any means of earning a living. This caused the ancient Greek to travel about the Mediterranean Sea in search of new locations to call home and set up additional city-states. They looked towards the east, as well as the west. In this article, you will learn what happened as a result and how the Persian War came to be.

One of the places that the Greeks settled on for the development of new city-states was situated along the eastern side of the Aegean Sea. At this time, the Greeks that occupied land in the Aegean Sea did not agree with Persian rule. To make matters worse, Persian dictators were attempting to tax the city-states. Because of this, a war broke out.

In 490 BC, the first invasion of what would become the ‘Persian War’ took place. At the time, the Persians were ruled by King Darius I. It was his decision to conquer all of Greece. In the beginning of the feud, the Persians were able to best every one they came in contact with. At one point, Darius I sent his advisors to Greece to give them a chance to comply to his rule. However, Sparta and Athens were not interested and refused his commands. As a result, they killed the Persian messengers.

Darius I was furious when he learned of what happened to his advisors. He commanded his army to battle the Greeks at Marathon, which was a beach located 26 miles east of Athens. During this battle, the Persians were defeated. The Athenian warriors sent a runner to Athens to alert them to the good news. This system of running would later receive the title of a ‘Marathon’ in commemoration of the battle location. After their loss at Marathon, the Persians were forced to return to their city because they had grown low on supplies.

By 480 BC, the Greeks and Persians fought once again in a second invasion that saw Xerxes as the Persian king in charge. He had control of a much larger army and ordered them to attack the Greeks at Thermopylae , a town located just north of Athens. Under the guidance of Leonidas I, he commanded 300 Spartans in this battle , fighting until the last Greek perished.

After their win, the Persians traveled to Athens, but before they could kill the inhabitants , they were already gone. News of the Persian army coming their way had reached the city in time. Athens was sacked and then burned as a result.

The Persian War also took place at sea. The Greek navy was able to take down the Persians in a sea battle that shed a great deal of blood. Less than 400 Greek ships bested 1,200 Persian vessels. The Athenian general Themistocles was victorious and sent Xerxes home after the defeat. In his absence, he still had a large army deployed in Greece. The Athenians and Spartans fought the Persian army and together, they achieved another victory. All in all, the Persian Wars stretched out for 20 years and the Persians would never fight with the Greeks again.