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Ancient Greece

Persian Wars



History >> Ancient Greece

The Persian Wars were a series of wars fought between the Persians and the Greeks from 492 BC to 449 BC.

Who were the Persians?

The Persian Empire was the largest and most powerful empire in the world at the time of the Persian Wars. They controlled land that stretched from Egypt all the way to India.


Map of the Persian Empire by Unknown
Click map to see larger version

Who were the Greeks?

The Greeks were made up of a number of city-states such as Sparta and Athens. Typically these city-states fought each other, but they united to fight against the Persians.

Ionians

The Ionians were Greeks that lived along the coast of Turkey. They were conquered by the Persians. When the Ionians decided to revolt they asked Athens and other Greek cities for help. The other Greek cities sent ships and weapons, but were quickly defeated. The Persians didn't like this and decided to conquer the rest of the Greek cities in order to keep them under control.

First Invasion of Greece

Darius I, King of Persia, decided he wanted to conquer the Greeks in 490 BC. He gathered a vast army of soldiers that outnumbered any army the Greeks could muster. They boarded the Persian fleet and headed to Greece.

Battle of Marathon

The Persian fleet landed at the Bay of Marathon, about 25 miles from the city of Athens. The Persians had a lot more soldiers, but they underestimated the fighting capability of the Greeks. The army of Athens routed the Persian army killing around 6,000 Persians and only losing 192 Greeks.

After the battle, the Athenian army ran the 25 miles back to Athens in order to prevent the Persians from attacking the city. This is the origin of the Marathon running race.

Second Invasion of Greece

Ten years later, in 480 BC, the son of Darius I, King Xerxes, decided to get his revenge on the Greeks. He amassed a huge army of over 200,000 soldiers and 1,000 warships.

Battle of Thermopylae

The Greeks put together a small force, led by the Spartan King Leonidas I and 300 Spartans. They decided to meet the Persians at a narrow pass in the mountains called Thermopylae. The Greeks held off the Persians killing thousands, until the Persians found a way around the mountains and got behind the Greeks. King Leonidas told most of his troops to flee, but stayed behind with a small force including his 300 Spartans in order to allow the rest of the Greek army to escape. The Spartans fought to the death, killing as many Persians as they could.

Battle of Salamis

The Persian army continued to march on Greece. When they arrived at the city of Athens, they found it deserted. The people of Athens had fled. The Athenian fleet, however, was waiting off the coast by the island of Salamis.

The much larger Persian fleet attacked the small Athenian ships. They were sure of victory. However, the Athenian ships, called triremes, were fast and maneuverable. They rammed into the sides of the large Persian ships and sunk them. They soundly defeated the Persians causing Xerxes to retreat back to Persia.

Battle of Salamis Map
Map of the Battle of Salamis
from the US Military Academy
Click map to see larger version

Interesting Facts about the Persian Wars
Activities

For more about Ancient Greece:

Overview
Timeline of Ancient Greece
Geography
The City of Athens
Sparta
Minoans and Mycenaeans
Greek City-states
Peloponnesian War
Persian Wars
Decline and Fall
Legacy of Ancient Greece
Glossary and Terms

Arts and Culture
Ancient Greek Art
Drama and Theater
Architecture
Olympic Games
Government of Ancient Greece
Greek Alphabet

Daily Life
Daily Lives of the Ancient Greeks
Typical Greek Town
Food
Clothing
Women in Greece
Science and Technology
Soldiers and War
Slaves

People
Alexander the Great
Archimedes
Aristotle
Pericles
Plato
Socrates
25 Famous Greek People
Greek Philosophers

Greek Mythology
Greek Gods and Mythology
Hercules
Achilles
Monsters of Greek Mythology
The Titans
The Iliad
The Odyssey

The Olympian Gods
Zeus
Hera
Poseidon
Apollo
Artemis
Hermes
Athena
Ares
Aphrodite
Hephaestus
Demeter
Hestia
Dionysus
Hades

Works Cited

History >> Ancient Greece






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