The Heroism, Divine Support, and Greek Unity Displayed in the Persian Wars

The Heroism, Divine Support, and Greek Unity Displayed in the Persian Wars

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In early fifth century BC Greece, the Greeks consistently suffered from the threat of being conquered by the Persian Empire. Between the years 500-479 BC, the Greeks and the Persians fought two wars. Although the Persian power vastly surpassed the Greeks, the Greeks unexpectedly triumphed. In this Goliath versus David scenario, the Greeks as the underdog, defeated the Persians due to their heroic action, divine support, and Greek unity. The threat of the Persian Empire's expansion into Greece and the imminent possibility that they would lose their freedom and become subservient to the Persians, so horrified the Greeks that they united together and risked their lives in order to preserve the one thing they all shared in common, their "Greekness".

The Persian War stemmed from the Ionian Revolt which began in 499 BC. The Ionians became a part of the Persian Empire in 546 BC, but after many years desired to break away from this forced bond. Therefore, the Ionians sought help from the mainland Greeks. The Athenians and Eretrians responded by sending ships, but eventually became more involved. "What began as a relatively minor involvement in the revolt became more serious when the Athenian and Eretrian forces aided in a surprise attack on Sardis, during which the city was set afire" (Demand 1996, 184). Although the Ionian revolt was ultimately unsuccessful, it sparked the anger of Darius, the King of Persia, that the Athenians dared to interfere with his vast empire. Herodotus writes he was so angry that he "ordered one of his servants to say to him three times every day before dinner, 'Sire, remember the Athenians" (Hdt. 5.105.2). Whether Darius really said this is questionable, but it is clear that either to exact venge...


... middle of paper ...


...reeks won a war of unbeatable odds because they had both everything to lose and everything to gain - their very survival.




Works Cited

Crane, G., ed. The Perseus Project. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/text?lookup=trm=ov&vers=english&browse=1

Demand, Nancy. A History of Ancient Greece, Indiana University. McGraw-Hill, Janson by Ruttle, Shaw & Wetherill, Inc., 1996, pp. 185-196.

Dillon, Mathew, and Garland, Lynda. Ancient Greece: Social and Historical Documents from Archaic Times to the Death of Socrates. Routledge International Thompson Publishing Company, 1994, pp. 179-215

Lefkowitz, Mary. "You Are There- A novel set in ancient Greece revisits a key battle between Sparta and Persia". The New York Times Book Review, Nov. 1, 1998

Pressfield, Steven. Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermpoylae. New York: Doubleday

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