The Battle of Marathon

The Battle of Marathon

The Battle of Marathon took place in 490BC between the people of Athens Greece and the people of Persia. The battle is one of the earliest recorded battles and is one of the most recognised for tactical deployment and military guile. Here we take a look at this famous battle and its outcome.

The Battle

Marathon Map

The Persians decided to invade Greek soil because of the Greek support for the Ionians who were protesting about their Persian conquerers. The Greeks were severely outnumbered in this battle but it did not worry the Hoplites in the slightest as they were ready to defend their land at any cost. The Greek and Persian armies met on the battlefield of Marathon that was located aprroximately twenty six miles from Athens. The Persians were happy with their choice of venue as it was a flat field that was perfect for their troops and cavalry although the outcome was very unexpected.

The Generals

Miltiades

One of the best known Greek generals of this battle was Miltiades. He called for his soldiers to be brave and attack the enemy with confidence and bravery. The other generals were less enthusiaistic with Miltiades's tactics but none the less agreed to cooperate. The plan was to form a long line of men that mirrored the Persian men and then to attack running straight at the line confronting them.

The Persians thought this strategy insane believing they would easily defeat the Hoplites as a consequence. The Greek central line did in fact collapse but both flanks remained in tact, while both ends came together surrounding the enemy in the centre and destroying them in a battle that was one of huge slaughter. It is believed that some six to seven thousand Persians perished while the Greeks only lost one hundred and ninety two men. It was indeed a great victory for Miltiades.

The Persians who survived the slaughter ran for their ships and set sail for Athens with the intention of taking it over but the Greeks were on to the enemy and made their way back to Athens beating the Persians to it. The Persians set sail once again in retreat and returned to their native Asia.

The Marathon Race

Pheidippides

Running the Marathon is an ambition of many athletes and it is one of the big events of all Olympic Games. Why is this race called the Marathon? The answer goes back to the Battle of Marathon fought between the Greeks and the Persians. The Greeks as we said won a resounding victory at Marathon and wanted all to know of it as soon as possible. Pheidippides was a Greek messenger who ran the 26.2 miles from Marathon to Athens to inform the city of their great victory. It is said that on announcing the result of the battle Pheidippides collapsed and died. Today our athletes train for months to gain stamina and strength to run this gruelling race and as a result thankfully most do not collapse at the end of the run. 

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