Xerxes and his army landed on the Greek shores of Thermopylae sometime in the summer of 480 BC. The Persian army numbered somewhere around 100,000 to 150,000 soldiers from across the Persian Empire, most of which were slaves forced to join after they had been conquered (Robinson). Their plan was to march into the heart of Greece through the Thermopylae pass, the only path through the mountains. It was here that King Leonidas thought he had the best chance to stop the Persian advance into Greece. The pass was a narrow path between the mountains, which the massive Persian force would be funneled into and have to face the Greeks one-on-one. The Greek army consisted of 300 Spartans and about 5,000 to 6,000 soldiers from across Greece. Leonidas planned to use his soldiers’ better fighting skills to defeat, or at least hold off, Xerxes’ forces until the remainder of the Greek Army could arrive.
In 646 BC the Persian armies, led by Cyrus, conquered the Greek city-state of Ionia, in Asia Minor. Despite the mildness of Persian rule, the Ionians did not like their conquerors. The Persians seemed barbaric to the cultured Ionians. The main objection to Persian rule, however, was that Ionians had been accustomed to self-government. The Persian king Darius I, who ruled over the conquered land of Ionia, was an all-powerful ruler. The Ionians never accepted the monarchy, and in 499 BC, they revolted against the Persians. Athens and another mainland polis, Eritrea, sent warships to help the Ionians, but Darius 1 of Persia soon defeated the Ionians. Darius then decided to punish the mainland Greeks for aiding the rebels revolt. Darius was so obsessed with punishing the Greeks that he employed a slave, whose sole responsibility was to say to him three times a day, at every meal, “Remember the Athenians”.
The Battle of Thermopylae began in 480 BC and was a product of the Greeks attempt help defend the Ionians from the Persians. This irritated the Persian Emperor, Xerxes, because he thought of Greece as a small kingdom that had no place revolting against the Persian Empire. The Athenians sympathized with the Ionians because the Persians had also tried to invade Greece on multiple occasions. The Athenians provided feeble help to the Ionians and in retaliation the Persians struck at athens (23B). Xerxes was known to be irrational with his temper, and may have thought of his invasion as retaliation for the fact that his father, Darius the Great, was defeated at the Battle of Marathon against the Greeks. His temper was so great that at Hellas Point he had the water whipped because it would not obey him (E49). One of several Greek war leaders in the Battle of Thermopylae was Leonidas, the second born son of King Anaxandridas. It was not until his half brother was killed under controversial circumstances that Leonidas rose to power (G72). Apart from misconceptions spread by the popular film “300,” the three hundred Spartans did not go into battle alone, and were accompanied by over eight hundred allies. Nevertheless, the Persians still outnumbered the Greeks ten to one, which is why it is incredible that the Greeks were able to hold them for three days before eventually losing that specific battle. Despite losing the battle in terms of soldiers and defending greece, the battle of thermopylae was somewhat successful in that it was a demonstration of the courage of greek soldiers, impressive battle tactics,
In history, the events that lead to the Battle of Thermopylae was that Darius began building a whole new army that he wanted to return with against the Persians. The Persian invasions just ended with the Athens at the Battle of Marathon. The Spartans were not the only ones going into battle. Many alliances were formed in order to defeat the Persians including the Thespians, Thebans, soldiers from Mycenae and other Greek states. The battle lasted over three days and for the first two days the Greeks were able to fight off the Persians. “Their longer thrusting spears and their heavy shields and body armor gave them a distinct advantage over the Persians, who were equipped with shorter javelin-type spears, wicker shields, and armor made only of woven linen”(2). The Spartans had great war tactic and
In 480 BC the Persian Empire was once again trying to invade ancient Greece. Under the reign of King Xerxes, an invincible army of a recorded 2 million was marching downwards to enslave all Greeks. An elite force of three hundred Spartans tackled the suicide mission of stalling the Persian wave of doom.
The Rise of Ancient Greece and Ancient Persia Empires Greece and Persia are two of the four great empires that rose to the top rapidly. Both empires have well organized political systems that greatly influenced the way later governments were structured in the United States and Europe. Greece and Persia empire’s structures weighed greatly on their development and growth, but the diverse topographies of Greece and Persia also made a vast impact. These features affected the cultures and even how the political government changed overtime. Geographical Factors of Ancient Greece and Persia
Another interesting battle was the battle of Cyropolis. The battle of Cyropolis was fought in the year 229 B.C. Alexander’s goal was to capture the city of Sogdiana for the Macedonians. The Sogdians had prepared for Alexander’s army by building large, fortified walls a...
Alexander and his armies conquered the Persian Empire, which stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to India and formed much of what was then considered the civilized world. Through his conquests, Alexander helped spread Greek ideas, customs and laws throughout Asia and Egypt and adopted a uniform currency system to promote trade and commerce. He established cities like Alexandria everywhere he went to help maintain rule and reduce corruption, as well as to promote learning and to encourage commerce and trade throughout the world. He established Greek as the uniform language and brought different cultures together through marriages of his own and others just like his. He brought the world together to promote his idea of the brotherhood of mankind and had plans to reorganize his government and explore the seas around his empire. Alexander the Great accomplished all of this in just 33 years. After his death, the cities of his empire were split between his leading generals who mostly fought amongst themselves for control of the empire.
Xerxes was a man of power. The Great King of Persia, his empire encompassed the majority of the known world. On his invasion of Greece in the spring of 480BCE, he reportedly commanded a horde of over two million men. Even the Greek oracle at Delphi encouraged prudence in face of such an overwhelming force (7.140). Thus the question arises of why such an army failed to compel Greece into submission. I will explore this with focus on the key battles and the important factors, most notably the timing of the attack, the quality of his expeditionary force and Xerxes’ personal faults.
Greek city-states were in modest settlements independent from one another, yet they did have a few opportunities to participate in political life. In contrast, the Persian Empire was immensely expansive and was governed by an absolute monarch. Despite these distinctive differences in political life by means of social status, I find it interesting that both Persia and the Greek city-states were similar to one another in terms of size.