51: Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

September 480 BCE marked the high point for the Persian army in Greece. Athens was the smoldering fire at the heart of the Persian army’s camp. The Greek army had retreated all the way to Corinth and their fleet was in limbo with the Athenian refugees on Salamis. After some deliberation, Xerxes sent his navy to clear out the Greek ships only for the land and sea themselves to turn against the Great King.
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Episode 49: Breaking Through

Late in the summer of 480 BCE, the Persian invasion force under King Xerxes came to blows with the Greek Allies for the first time. The famous twin battles at Thermopylae and Artemisium played out surrounded by a series of smaller sacks and skirmishes. After three days of fighting, the Greek attempt to block the Persians in narrow passes failed and the Persian army pushed south, conquering Phocis, Boeotia, and ultimately: Attica and Athens. By the end of September 480, Xerxes nominally controlled all of Greece north of the Peloponnese.
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Episode 48: What is your profession?

Promotional image from 300 featuring Gerard Butler’s Leonidas moments before he is killed by the Persians.

Before launching into the actual warfare between the Persian Empire and Greek city states, it’s worth examining how the Greeks prepared for war. Athens prepared by building a navy, everyone prepared by planning to deploy their armies, and we’ll explore the whole history of the famous “300” Spartans.
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Episode 47: Preparing The Way

From 484-481 BCE, Xerxes directed his subjects to prepare for war in Greece. This didn’t just mean assembling soldiers and ships, but also preparing the infrastructure of the western empire to receive one of the largest armies ever assembled. 200,000 soldiers from across the Persian empire converged on the Hellespont in the spring of 480 and began the march to Hellas.
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Episode 38: The Last Battle

Nearly a decade after Aristagoras first went into revolt, and longer since the Athenians had reneged on their offerings of earth and water, the Persian Army came to take Darius’ revenge on Athens. For the first time, a Persian army landed on the Greek mainland. They made their camp on an unremarkable open plain that would soon be seared into Greek history forever: Marathon.
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Episode 37: Greece Awakens

A map of all the major Persian offensives against Greeks. Mardonius’ Thraco-Macedonian campaign is marked in green. The Greek campaign of Artaphernes and Datis is marked in brown. Via Wikimedia Commons

Even once the Ionian cities themselves were defeated, the consequences of their Revolt were ongoing. In 492 BCE, a new general, Mardonius, took to the field to settle matters in the Balkans. Two years later, the Persians turned their sites on Athens and Eretria in retribution for the aid they sent to the Ionians. In 490, Artaphernes and Datis launched the first Persian invasion of mainland Greece.
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Episode 36: Return of the Tyrannoi

A modern reconstruction of a Greek trireme, the standard war ship of the ancient Mediterranean via Wikimedia Commons

Even with Miletus defeated, the other rebel cities in shambles, Cyprus under control, and their armies victorious, the Persians had not heard the last of Ionian resistance. While the Greek rebels were fighting against the Persian Empire, the deposed tyrant Histiaeus was making plans to try and carve out a new niche for himself in Persian territory.
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Episode 35: The Empire Strikes Back

The modern ruins of Miletus via Wikimedia Commons

It is a dark time for the Ionian Revolt. Although Sardis has been destroyed, Persian troops have driven the Rebel forces from Aeolis and pursued them across Anatolia.

Facing the renewed Persian Fleet, a group of Greek cities led by Dionysius of Phocaea has established a new plan on the nearby island of Lade.

The Persian satrap Artaphernes, ready to end this rebellion, has dispatched the army and the navy to retake Miletus….
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Episode 33: Revenge of the Persians

The Military Campaigns of the Ionian Revolt by Eric Gaba under  GNU Free Documentation License Episode 31-Current

After the shocking attack on Sardis, many more Greek cities joined the Ionian Revolt, despite Persian victory at Ephesus. In 497 BCE, three land campaigns were launched by three Persian generals: Daurises, Hymaies, and Otanes. After a series of lightning victories in early 497, the campaigns began set in to prolonged fighting. Two of the Persian generals were dead by 496, but the Ionians were still losing. Fresh revolts in the Troad and Caria were dealt serious defeats, and Aristagoras of Miletus, once the ringleader of the Ionians, fled into exile.
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Episode 32: Begun, the Greek Wars Have

Bust of Solon the Athenian Lawmaker. Copy from a Greek original (c. 110 BC) from the Farnese Collection via Wikimedia Commons  Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

To prepare ourselves for their role in the coming wars between Persian the Greek city states, I’m explaining the history and politics of Archaic Athens, from their first adoption of oligarchy rather than monarchy, down through the adoption of democracy, the Peisistratid tyrants, and the final restoration of democracy by Cleisthenes. At the end of that long process, the Athenians and their Eretrian allies joined forces with the Ionian Greek cities of Anatolia in their revolt against the Persian Empire. In 498 BCE, the Greek army set out from Ephesus in a lightning raid to attack, and ultimately destroy, the Lydian capital at Sardis.
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Ancient Persia: A Concise History of the Achaemenid Empire by Matt Waters

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