The Athenian Victory in the Battle of Marathon

The Athenian Victory in the Battle of Marathon

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The Athenian victory in the Battle of Marathon, illustrated by Plutarch in the Life of Themistocles, shows similarity to modern themes on underdogs, like that in the movie Forrest Gump and the book “The Help”. In this paper, I will argue that these ideas are similar because of the common theme represented in many movies, TV shows, and books. Humans tend to root for the underdogs even if they don’t believe the underdogs will succeed.
The Battle of Marathon was fought by the Athenians and the Persians. At the time, the Persian were one of the biggest empires of the known world, and because of this the Athenians were not expecting a victory. The Athenians had fewer men than the Persians, and they had almost no help from surrounding city-states. This battle proved to the Athenians that they were as equally great as the Persians, and that the Persians could be beaten (Hanson).
The Athenians were essentially the ‘underdogs’ and that is a common theme used in many books, TV, sports, and movies. The underdogs are the least likely people to ever be victorious, and yet the Athenians were. A common example is the movie Forrest Gump. Forrest Gump is a child who is a slower learner than most and has to wear braces on his legs. Nobody would expect a child with multiple handicaps to achieve and overcome the things he did, but he was able to in the end. The same goes for the Athenians, nobody expected them to be able to defeat a nation who had conquered so many other nations before, and yet they were able to.
Another representation of the underdog theme is evident in the book “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett. Many of the characters in this book are underdogs, not just the black house maids. The character Skeeter Phelan is a white women in the 1970s who struggles to find a job because of her gender. Aibileen Clack is an African American maid who takes care of other people’s children, and is seen as a disease because of her skin color. Minny Jackson is abused by her husband. By the end of the book, each character has over come what may have seemed like impossible situations.
Another example of an underdog achieving victory is the Revolutionary War. It may not seem very modern to us now, but it’s still relevant to us today.

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Just like the Athenians, the colonies were going to war against a great nation who had previously conquered many different places. The Athenians weren’t fighting for independence from Persia, like the colonies were fighting Great Britain for, but they were fighting to ensure their freedom. During the Revolutionary War, nobody expected the colonies to beat a nation like Great Britain, but they did (“American Revolution”). The Athenians were in the same position. Persia was a great nation during this time, and it was a surprise that Athens was able to defeat them, but they did. Making them underdogs who achieved success.
This theme is not just limited to fictitious characters and stories, but many real life situations. The American Dream, where a person who has nothing can go to having everything, is something that is coveted by many people (Pelczar). Many sports teams and athletes are also seen as underdogs.
These true and fiction underdogs are characters that many people root for and wish success for. I believe its human nature to hope for the best for someone who may seem like they have nothing. That is why the Athenians are considered the underdogs. They had less soldiers, equipment, and experience than the Persians, and yet they were able to achieve victory. I also believe this helped in the development of the Athenian Empire.

Works Cited

Hanson, Victor. "Battle of Marathon." A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 16 Nov.
Pelczar, Evelyn. "The American Dream Has Always Been About The Underdog." Elite Daily. N.p.,
n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2013.
"American Revolution." A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2013.

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