Discuss and analyse the causes of the 5th Century conflicts between Greece and Persia.

Essay by LeeMills December 2009

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This essay will discuss and evaluate the causes of the 5th Century BC conflictsbetween Greece and Persia.

The conflicts between Greece and Persia in the 5th Century BC were called theGreco-Persian Wars. These were the attempted invasions of Greece by the PersianEmpire starting at Marathon (490) and followed by Thermopylae (480), Salamis(480), Plataea (479) and Mycale (479).

The Ionian Revolt is considered the prelude to the Greco-Persian Wars and markedthe first major conflict between the Greeks and the Persian Empire. Ionia, accordingto Greek legend, was founded by Greek colonists from the western side of the AegeanSea. This settlement is connected to the history of Attica, a subdivision of Greece. In546 BC the Persian Empire annexed Ionia which is on the western coast of AsiaMinor bringing it under Persian rule. This area would increase and secure the westernborders of the Persian empire, give them a foothold in the Aegean Sea and allow forfurther expeditions and expansion into Europe.

In 499 BC, with the Ionians unhappywith Persian rule, revolted. After nearly fifty years of tyrannical Persian rule, andwith the recent establishment of democracy in Athens, they demanded a similararrangement. A very important figure in the Ionian Revolt was a Persian tyrant calledAristagoras. Aristagoras was the holding tyrant of Miletus, near the coast of AsiaMinor in the late 6th Century BC and early 5th Century BC. His entry in to the IonianRevolt began when a group of rich men who had been expelled from the island ofNaxos asked Aristagoras for help in restoring them to their former positions(1).

Aristagoras agreed to help them and asked for a fleet off the satrap of Sardis,Artaphernes (who was also the brother of the Persian King Darius). Aristagoras wasgranted the fleet and attacked Naxos. However, Naxos was forewarned of the attackand was able to...