Greece: The Threat Of The Persian Empire

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In early fifth century B.C.E, the Greeks constantly suffered from the threat of being conquered by the Persian Empire. Although Persian power vastly exceeded, the Greeks unexpectedly triumphed. Similar to the tale of David versus Goliath, the Greeks defeated the Persians due to divine support and Greek unity. The threat of the Persian Empire expansion into Greece and the imminent possibility that they would lose their freedom and become slaves to the Persians, so horrified the Greeks that they united together and risked their lives in order to preserve the one thing they all shared in common, their "Greekness".
The start of discontent between the Greeks and the Persian began in 550 B.C.E. when Cyrus the Great led a rebellion against the Median
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First, he started with diplomacy by sending envoys to Greek-city states seeking “water and earth” - which acted as tokens of submission to Persian rule. Many city-states submitted, but the two major powers, Athens and Sparta, threw the envoys down a hole in response. This created an anti-Persian alliance between Sparta and Athens ending a period of conflict between the two cities. In 490 B.C.E., Darius sent an army led by Datis the Mede and Artaphernes the Younger across the Aegean Sea to Eretria. The Persians plundered the city and took its citizens as prisoners. Flushed with victory, the Persian expedition landed on the coast of Attica near Marathon. With them, they brought Hippias, a former tyrant of Athens that was exiled by an uprising of the Athenian democracy with the help of Sparta. The Persians wanted to reinstate Hippias as tyrant of Athens much like with the Ionian city states. The Persian army outnumbered the Greek hoplite warriors two-to-one, causing the Athenians to ask out Greek-city states, including Sparta, for help. The Athenian army was commanded by ten generals. The eleventh general was called the polemarch –or commander-in-chief- who voted on what to do with the army if the other ten couldn’t come to an agreement. Despite being heavily outnumbered the Greeks military strategy helped them win the decisive battle at …show more content…
Convinced by members of his court and his brother-in-law, Xerxes started to plan revenge on the Greeks for his father’s defeat at Marathon. Since he wanted a full-scale invasion, preparations for the upcoming campaign took three years. As Xerxes prepared to march, his subjects finished bridging Hellespont. Before he could use the bridge, a great storm wrecked the bridge sending Xerxes into a rage. He ordered that the designers of the bridges be executed and that the Hellespont be given 300 lashes as punishment . Finally, a decade after the battle at Marathon, Xerxes begins to move towards Greece. As Xerxes started his journey, many Greek city-states offered up “earth and water” as tokens of submission. However, much like they did previously, Sparta and Athens refused to submit to Persian rule. In 480 B.C.E. at the battle of Thermopylae, the great Persian army faced off with Spartan forces. In the famous Spartan story, King Leonidas led 6,000 men –with 300 of Sparta’s elite hoplites – to hold the pass at Thermopylae, so that the Persian army could not advance to Athens . Despite their great numbers, the Persian army was no match for the Spartan forces on their own. At that point, however, a traitor named Ephialtes offered to show the Persian King an alternative route that would allow them to attack the Spartans from behind. The

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