Greco-Persian War

The Greco-Persian war was a series of conflicts between the Greek city-states and the Persian Empire from 492BC until 449BC. The conflict pitted the two major powers of the time against each other, where historians claim the whole foundation of Western culture was under threat and has shaped the western world to where it is today.

Lead Up To The conflict

The main event that triggered this conflict was the Ionian revolt in 499BC. In the revolt Greek city-states along the Western coast of Anatolia, which had earlier been captured by the Persians, rose up against the Persian rule. During the revolt Athens and Eretria, both Greek city-states, sent a small fleet to help out rebels which greatly angered the King of Persia Darius. The revolt was ultimately a failure and peace was made with the revolting states. However, Darius did not forget the aid Athens and Eretria provided and set out for revenge the following year.

Battle of Marathon

In 490BC Darius launched a campaign against Greece, which had great initial success as Eritrea was besieged, captured and destroyed by the Persian forces. The next target for Persia was Athens with whom they fought at Marathon. The Athenians, with a force of around 11,000, defeated the Persians who had a force of around 26,000. This brave victory gave Athens great morale; despite being vastly outnumbered, they did not succumb to the might of the Persian army. This battle is cited as a pivotal point in European history as Greek civilization was threatened by complete extinction and subjugation to Persia.

Later Persian Campaigns

After the first failure the Persians launched another campaign against Greece. The city-states of Athens and Sparta led the Greek resistance allied with 70 other Greek city-states. This campaign featured the famous battle of Thermopylae where around 7,00 Greek soldiers showed valiant resistance to an estimated 80,000 strong Persian force, but finally succumbed after three days of heavy fighting. Then the Persians were able to destroy an evacuated Athens, however the Persians suffered a severe loss at the battle of Salamis and the following year the Greeks went on the offensive and defeated the Persian army at the battle of Plateae in 479BC, making the Persians retreat back and end the invasion.

The Greek Offensive

The Greek city-states formed the ‘Delian league’ an association of a number of Greek city-states headed by Athens. The league achieved one of its main goals when it drove out the Persian garrisons in the Ionian city-states on the Anatolian coast and brought those city-states into the league and out of Persian rule. Further success was mixed with the league trading many victories with the Persians. The conflict finally ended with the Peace of Callias in 449BC and put an end to the fighting.

The Greco-Persian war was a big conflict host to many of the greatest and bravest battles in the history of warfare. The Greeks were outnumbered on numerous occasions but were able to fight back, seemingly against impossible odds, against the Persian war machine. The events greatly helped to shape the era of prosperity to follow called the Golden age of Greece.