The Battle of Marathon
Episode #1 of the course “Battles of All Time”
Date: 490 BC
The Battle of Marathon is one of the earliest recorded battles in history. It was a pivotal moment in the development of European culture because the new Greek city gained confidence in their abilities to defend themselves after winning this battle. The battle itself took place in 490 B.C. near Athens; the Persian fleet brought in 20,000 troops to virtually destroy the Greeks for their support of the Ionian people, who had revolted against the rule of Persia.
The Greeks defended against the attack with roughly 10,000 men, and the troops met on the Plain of Marathon. Unfortunately for the Greeks, the layout was ideal for the Persian cavalry, so the Greek generals were hesitant to begin the attack. However, one of the generals, Miltiades, convinced his fellow generals to attack the Persian forces. He created a long line of his men and ordered them to attack the Persians while keeping their formation. He made sure that this line was equally as long as the line that the Persians were using in their formation.
Although the plan seemed like complete foolishness, it was very effective. Perhaps the reason that it was so effective was that the Persians did not think it would work, so they only saw “crazy” Greeks foolishly running toward them. Regardless, roughly 6,400 Persians were killed, while there were only 192 Greek causalities.
The Persians who escaped to their boats attempted to attack Athens—it was supposed to be undefended—but the troops from the Plains of Marathon made it back in time to defend the city. Their success in this battle gave the Grecians hope that their newly-formed city and their people would be able to last for years to come.
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