Brief History and Aftermath
The year is 490 BC and the Persian King, Darius I, knows no restraints in his conquest for vengeance against his enemies from the Ionian Revolt. In 492 and 491 Darius built his army and commanded that vessels be constructed to transport his army in order to overtake the Greeks (Doenges 2). A force of 9,000 Athenians and 1,000 Plataeans held their position against 600 triremes and an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 Persian infantry in Marathon, Greece. (Hammond 32).
After approximately 5 days of waiting the Athenian infantry still held its advantageous position. The Persian force desiring to remove the Athenian force from its defensive position at last gave up. Datis, the Persian commander, consented to the fight in fear that the Spartans may show up. On September 11, 490 BC the battle ensued as the Persian and Athenian forces mingled to test their fate. Datis moved his forces opposite from the Athenian infantry with their backs to the sea that they had entered days before. Sixteen-hundred yards away, the Athenians marched until they were at approximately 200 meters from the first Persian line – just out of range from the Persian archers (Hammond 29).
“Elelue! Eleleu!” The Athenians ran the last 200 meters colliding into the Persian force (Wikipedia.org).
The Persians pushed through the strategic weak point in the Athenian infantry’s line. The Persians found that the Athenians had overtaken them on the wings and were now folding in on them (Doenges 13).
In fear, the Persian army retreated into the unfamiliar marshes toward the sea in which they entered, clinging to the boats which brought them. Many were slaughtered perhaps most losing their lives in the retreat. Seven ships were captured. At the end of the battle 6,400 Persians had been slain compared to the 192 Athenians who won a noble victory. This image is the burial mound for the 192 Athenian soldiers who lost their lives at the battle of marathon (Johnson).
After pushing the Persians back to sea, they sailed around Sounion. It is assumed, in hopes that they might invade and conquer Athens. As the Athenians observed the route which the Persians took towards Athens, they tiresomely marched toward Athens to meet the opposing fleet. Because of the timely return to Athens by the Athenians, the Persians sailed back toward Asia (Doenges 15).
The Spartan force arrived a day later and witnessed the calamity distributed to the Persians acknowledging that the Athenians “had won a great victory” (Wikipedia.org).
Although the Athenians leaned their foes the Persians we not invincible, fear still ensued in the hearts of the Athenians that the Persians would shortly come back. For a decade later the people and politics were aroused by the ongoing threat that Darius would seek yet another vengeance against them. Themistocles rose to the challenge revitalizing and enlarging the Athenian Military (Doenges 17).
Johnson, Ryan. “Hill where the Athenians were buried after the Battle of Marathon.” 3 April 2007. 29 January 2012 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hill_where_the_Athenians_were_buried_after_the_Battle_of_Marathon.jpg>.