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Battle Of Marathon: One Of The Earliest Recorded Battles

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The battle of Marathon is one of history’s most famous military engagements. Interestingly, it’s also one of the earliest recorded battles. This battle is also considered to be a defining moment in the development of European culture.

Battle Of Marathon

Battle of Marathon happened on September 490 BCE of northeastern Attica in which the Athenians repulsed the first Persian invasion of Greece. Persian armada of 600 ships had one goal – to crush the Greek states in retaliation for their support of their Ionian cousins who had revolted against Persian rule. Persians came with a massive number of people and scared by their number of soldiers, manage to mobilize 10,000 warriors to defend their territory. The two armies met on the Plain of Marathon twenty-six miles north of Athens.

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The battlefield area was flat and surrounded by sea and hills which was perfect for Persian army, while it was horrifying for the Greek army due to the number of Persians. So, Greek generals hesitated about their next steps. However, Miltiades – one of the Greek generals, made a passionate appeal for boldness and manage to convince his fellow generals to attack the Persians.

Miltiades ordered his Greek warriors to form a line equal in length to that of the Persians. Then he ordered his Greek warriors to attack the Persian line at a dead run. At the time, it looked like a big mistake and complete madness in the eyes of their enemies.

What Happened At The Battle Of Marathon?

By ordering his soldiers to reinforce the wings, Miltiades manage to break through the lighter-clad Persian infantry. The truth is that the Athenian center broke, but it held long enough for the Athenians to rout the Persians wings. This lead to major panic among the invaders.

Greek soldiers charged the barbarians at a run making the distance between two army’s short with each run. This move lead to defeated Persian forces.

The Legend

The Battle of Marathon inspired a legend that led to the creation of the marathon race as we know it nowadays. However, the legend is not true.

The legend says that the messenger Pheidippides ran about 42.2 kilometers (26 miles) from Marathon to Athens, the capital of Greece. He was the one who had to deliver the news about the victory to Athenian leaders. He was so tired, that he died right after he told them the news. According to historians, Pheidippides did make an impressive run, but it was before the Battle of Marathon, not after. He had to run from Athens to Sparta, around 225 kilometers (140 miles) away.

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The Second Attack

The Persians invaded Greece again in 480 B.C. under Xerxes I, son of Darius. The ultimate plan of king Darius was to succeed in conquering Greece where his father had failed. Joined Greek city-states under King Leonidas of Sparta held off the Persian invasion for seven days in the Battle of Thermopylae. This battle earned them a place in history for their last stand. However, the initial victory of the Athenians at the Battle of Marathon that is most remembered today.

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