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Change in the control of greece after persian wars

Their wars would determine the viability of a new direction in Western culture, for even as Greece stood poised to embark on an unprecedented voyage of the mind, Persia threatened to prevent the Hellenes from ever achieving their destiny.

Persia represented the old ways — a world of magi and god-kings, where priests stood guard over knowledge and emperors treated even their highest subjects as slaves.

  1. He now sent forward his first wave of troops — Medes and Cissians — with orders to take the Greeks alive.
  2. Xerxes well recalled the fate of the messengers his father had sent to Athens and Sparta. Yet the Spartan elite believed passionately in their freedom, and their sense of duty, imbued at an early age, guaranteed that no Spartan commander would ever have to resort to whips to drive his soldiers into battle.
  3. If any Greek understood the danger of his assignment, it was almost certainly the Spartan commander, Leonidas.

The Greeks had cast off their own god-kings and were just beginning to test a limited concept of political freedom, to innovate in art, literature and religion, to develop new ways of thinking, unfettered by priestly tradition. And yet, despite those fundamental differences, the most memorable battle between Greeks and Persians would hinge on less ideological and more universal factors: The long path to battle at Thermopylae began in what is now Iran, heart of the once vast Persian empire.

Nowadays, ancient ruins attest to its long-vanished greatness, but to the Greeks of the early 5th century bc, the Persian empire was young, aggressive and dangerous. Persian expansion had begun in the mid-6th century, when its first shah, or great king, Cyrus, had led a revolt against the dominant Medes.

  • From its linguistic style it is clear that this text was translated from an Aramaic original and can thus be regarded as an indirect testimony of a memorandum of the Achaemenid administration cf;
  • The Phocians themselves were charged with the difficult task of defending a route with no natural defenses.

By 545 bc, Cyrus had extended Persian hegemony to the coast of Asia Minor. The Greeks of Asia Minor were blessed during their period of subjugation only insofar as the Persian kings generally remained remote figures of power. Stories abounded of executions and tortures ordered on the whims of angry monarchs.

It was inevitable, then, that there would be tension between the Greek and Persian ways of life, and in 499 bc several Greek cities in Asia Minor revolted against the Persian King Darius. Darius had seized power in 521, when he and six other men crushed a conspiracy of priests on a day that became celebrated on the Persian calendar as Magophonia — The Killing of the Magi.

A vengeful man, Darius had ordered that the severed heads of the magi be paraded through the streets on pikes. According to the Greek historian Herodotus, Darius was especially furious to learn that a distant city called Athens had dared to assist his rebellious subjects in Asia Minor. Grant, O God, he said, shooting an arrow into the air, that I may punish the Athenians.

He even commanded one of his servants to interrupt him during every dinner three times to remind him of his goal with the admonition, Master, remember the Athenians. The first Persian War ended badly for Darius, however, when his troops were defeated by a smaller Athenian army at Marathon in 490 bc.

Greece was saved — but only for a while. He waffled over whether the long-delayed punishment of Athens merited such a far-flung campaign. At last a phantom allegedly appeared in his dreams, urging him to invade Greece — this being interpreted by his magi as a portent for world conquest. Xerxes spent more than four years gathering soldiers and stockpiling supplies from every corner of his empire.

Persian Influence on Greek Culture

The resulting host amounted to a colossal cosmopolitan army of armies. In it were Persians, Medes and Hyrcanians, all wearing felt caps, tunics, mail and trousers, and armed with short spears, light wicker shields and deadly, powerful composite bows. Assyrians joined them, protected by bronze helmets and shields, and bearing spears, daggers and iron-studded wooden clubs.

Bactrians, Parthians and Chorasmians added short bows and spears. The Scythian Sacae, in their tall pointed hats, bristled with bows, daggers and battle-axes. Cotton-wearing Indian auxiliaries were armed with bows that shot iron-tipped arrows. The list, even in abbreviated form, reads like a catalog of lost peoples.

Encyclopædia Iranica

Together, they formed an army that the Greek historian Herodotus estimated at 1. When he added ship-borne fighters and European allies to the total, he came to a sum of 2. Carriages full of women and servants accompanied the Persians on the march.

One Persian unit was particularly esteemed: Watching his own army pass in review, Xerxes himself is said to have wept as he reflected on the brevity of human life. It was an unlikely moment of insight for a king who had once ordered one of his own soldiers split in two. The Persians maintained a splendid marching order. At the front was more than half the army, succeeded by a gap to keep those ordinary troops from being in contact with the king. The king was then followed by 1,000 noble Persian spearmen with their spears pointed upward, another 1,000 picked cavalry, 10,000 infantry, many with gold or silver ornaments on their spears, and finally 10,000 more horsemen before another gap that separated those fine troops from the ordinary soldiers who brought up the rear.

It is entirely possible that Xerxes did not anticipate having to fight any significant battles in Greece. The magnitude of his force was so great that he must have anticipated only demanding surrender in order to receive it. Like his father before him, he sent messengers ahead demanding the traditional tokens of submission — earth and water. Many Greek towns relented in the face of certain destruction. To the Persian king, they conceded, belonged the land and the sea.

Two cities were spared the indignity of the Persian ultimatum. Xerxes well recalled the fate of the messengers his father had sent to Athens and Sparta. The Athenians had thrown them into a pit.

In Sparta the Persian diplomats were shown the place to find the earth and water they sought — by being pushed down a well. At one point he asked a Spartan exile if anyone in Greece would dare resist his force.

The exile, for whom there was no love lost for the city that had expelled him, admitted that no length of odds could possibly convince the Spartans to submit. The Spartans, he said, feared only the law, and their law forbade them to retreat in battle. It commanded them to stand firm always and to conquer or die.

  • However, as Oswyn Murray p;
  • The war had spelt out the weaknesses in the structure and organization of the Persian Empire;
  • Persia represented the old ways — a world of magi and god-kings, where priests stood guard over knowledge and emperors treated even their highest subjects as slaves;
  • But first, we will have a quick look the most important events during the period under consideration;
  • Constructed from nearly 700 galleys and triremes lashed together, the bridge was a marvel of makeshift military engineering.

Knowing that they could not hope to defeat the Persians as individual cities, the Greeks convened a conference in order to coordinate a Panhellenic defense. It was there that the Spartans, change in the control of greece after persian wars own city was unique in that it had no walls relying instead upon the bravery of its citizens for defenseadvocated the construction of a wall across the Isthmus of Corinth, thereby protecting only the southernmost part of Greece.

The cities north of Corinth, however, knowing that Xerxes could swing around the Aegean and strike Greece from the north, sought an earlier defense. The congress adopted their strategy. The Greeks elected to draw the line at Thermopylae. To the Greek strategists in 481 bc, Thermopylae represented their best chance to stop or at least delay the Persian army long enough to allow their combined fleets to draw the Persian navy into a decisive sea battle. A narrow mountain pass, Thermopylae was a bottleneck through which the Persian army somehow had to proceed.

Forced to fight there, the Persians would be unable to take advantage of their massive preponderance in numbers; instead, they would have to face the Greeks in close-quarter, hand-to-hand combat. Two armies now prepared to converge on the tiny mountain pass. For Xerxes no force, not even nature, would be allowed to resist his progress.

When a violent storm tore up the first bridge his engineers had built across the Hellespont, the great king ordered his engineers put to death, and he had his men whip and curse the waters for defying him. New engineers then bridged the Hellespont again. Constructed from nearly 700 galleys and triremes lashed together, the bridge was a marvel of makeshift military engineering.

Flax and papyrus cables held the boats in line, and sides were constructed to keep animals from seeing the water and panicking during their crossing. The Persian army advanced inexorably into Greece. The Greek force that now raced to Thermopylae was ridiculously small for the challenge that awaited it: The countrymen they left behind seem to have put little faith in this army. The Athenians voted to evacuate their city.

Their men of military age embarked on ships, while women and children were sent to the safer territory of the Peloponnesus. Only treasurers and priestesses remained behind, charged with guarding the property of the gods on the Acropolis.

  • Greek soldiers perhaps drew some confidence from their heavy armor and their long spears, which could outreach the Persian swords;
  • The Spartans ate at a common table, they distributed land equally in an almost communistic fashion and they were forbidden to engage in what were deemed the superfluous arts;
  • Sparda with the capital of Sardis and the Phrygian satrapy OPers;
  • Aristagoras laid down his office, called upon the Ion-ians to overthrow their Persian-backed tyrants, and even gained some military support from small Athenian and Eretrian squadrons.

If any Greek understood the danger of his assignment, it was almost certainly the Spartan commander, Leonidas. One of two Spartan kings — Sparta had no kingship in any real sense — Leonidas traced his ancestry back to the demigod Heracles.

Greece i. Greco-Persian Political Relations

He had handpicked the 300 warriors under his command; all were middle-aged men with children to leave behind as heirs. He had selected men to die, and done so apparently without the philosophic reluctance of Xerxes. Leonidas and the Spartans had been trained to do their duty, and, having received an oracle that Sparta must either lose a king or see the city destroyed, Leonidas was convinced that his final duty was death.

On the way to Thermopylae, Leonidas sent his widely admired Spartans ahead of the other troops to inspire them with confidence. They arrived to find the pass unoccupied.

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It was only 50 feet wide and far narrower at some points. There were hot springs there — these gave the pass its name — an altar to Heracles and the remains of an old wall with gates that had fallen into ruin. The Greeks now rushed to rebuild it. What he saw astonished him — the Spartans, many of them naked and exercising, the rest calmly combing their hair.

It was common practice for the Spartans to fix their hair when they were about to risk their lives, but neither the scout nor his king could comprehend such apparent vanity.

The Greeks, too, began to receive intelligence on the size of the Persian force. Sometime before the battle, the Spartan Dieneces was told that when the Persian archers let loose a volley, their arrows would hide the sun. To Dieneces that was just as well. For if the Persians hide the sun, he said, we shall fight in the shade. Despite the imperturbable courage of Dieneces and the other Spartans, the Greeks were shaken when the Persian host finally neared their position.

  1. They would do so, however, without the Thebans, who as Leonidas had expected surrendered to the Persians before the final assault began.
  2. Presumably it was soon after the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War, that Sparta made the first attempts to start negotiations with the Persians.
  3. But Leonidas was denied even a proper burial. Experienced Spartan warriors would come out from behind the walls, do fierce battle with the Persians, then feign retreat in order to draw the Persians into a trap.
  4. The invading army had been bloodied — badly, if Herodotus is to be believed — and it must have had some effect on Persian morale.
  5. When a violent storm tore up the first bridge his engineers had built across the Hellespont, the great king ordered his engineers put to death, and he had his men whip and curse the waters for defying him.

The Spartan would do his duty. The Greeks would stay put and try to hold off the Persians until reinforcements could arrive. The Persian army encamped on the flat grounds of the town of Trachis, only a short distance from Thermopylae.

There, Xerxes stopped his troops for four days, waiting upon the inevitable flight of the overawed Greeks. By the fifth day, August 17, 480 bc, the great king could no longer control his temper. The impudent Greeks were, like the storm at the Hellespont, defying his will. He now sent forward his first wave of troops — Medes and Cissians — with orders to take the Greeks alive. The Medes and Cissians were repulsed with heavy casualties.

Determined to punish the resisters, Xerxes sent in his Immortals. The crack Persian troops advanced confidently, envisioning an easy victory, but they had no more success than the Medes. What Xerxes had not anticipated was that the Greeks held the tactical advantage at Thermopylae. Persian boys, it was said, were taught only three things: