Persian Invasions

Essay by laurenlayHigh School, 12th gradeA-, February 2004

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King Darius, being very wroth with the Athenians for their share in the burning of Sardis, sent a great army across the Hellespont to march through Thrace against Athens, under his young kinsman Mardonius. But disaster befell these at the hands of the Thracians, and the fleet that was to aid them was shattered in a storm; so that they returned to Asia without honour. Then Darius sent envoys to demand earth and water from the Greek states; and of the islands the most gave them, and some also of the cities on the mainland; and among these were the Aeginetans, which were at feud with Athens.

But of those who would not give the earth and water were the Eretrians of Euboea. So Darius sent a great armament by sea against Eretria and Athens, led by Datis and Artaphernes, which sailed first against Eretria. The Athenians, indeed, sent aid; but when they found that the counsels of the Eretrians were divided, so that no firm stand might be made, they withdrew.

Nevertheless, the Eretrians fought valiantly behind their walls, till they were betrayed on the seventh day. But the Persians, counselled by Hippias, sailed to the bay of Marathon.

THEN the Athenians sent the strong runner Pheidippides to call upon the Spartans for aid; who promised it, yet for sacred reasons would not move until the full moon. So the Athenian host had none to aid them save the loyal Plataeans, valiant though few. Yet in the council of their generals the word of Miltiades was given for battle, whereto the rest consented. Then the Athenians and Plataeans, being drawn up in a long line, charged across the plain nigh a mile, running upon the masses of the Persians; and, breaking them upon the wings, turned and...