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The Greco-Persian Wars

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The Greco-Persian Wars (500-449 BC, intermittently) were military conflicts between Achaemenid Persia and Greek city-states that defended their independence. The Greco-Persian wars are sometimes referred to as the Persian Wars, and the expression usually refers to the campaigns of the Persians in the Balkan Peninsula in 490 BC and in 480-479 BC.

As a result of the Greco-Persian wars, the territorial expansion of the Achaemenid Empire was stopped, and the ancient Greek civilization entered a period of prosperity and its highest cultural achievements.

Map of the Greco-Persian Wars

In historiography, the Greco-Persian wars are usually divided into two (the first — 492-490 BC, the second — 480-479 BC) or three wars (the first-492 BC, the second-490 BC, the third-480-479 (449) BC).

Main events:


During the Dark Ages, a large number of people from the ancient Greek tribes of the Ionians, Aeolians and Dorians migrated to the coast of Asia Minor. The Ionians settled on the coast of Caria and Lydia, as well as the islands of Samos and Chios, where they founded 12 cities. Miletus, Miunt, Priene, Ephesus, Colophon, Lebed, Theos, Clazomenes, Phocea, Eriphra, Samos and Chios, realizing their ethnic proximity, erected a common sanctuary of Panionii. Thus, they founded a cultural union, deciding not to allow other cities, including those inhabited by Ionians, to join it. As Herodotus points out, the alliance was weak enough that no one but Smyrna wanted to go there. During the reign of King Croesus, Ionia was conquered and became part of Lydia. Croesus gave the Greeks control of internal affairs and demanded only recognition of his sovereignty and a moderate tribute. The Ionians gained a number of advantages, and therefore easily accepted the loss of their independence.

Croesus ' reign ended with the complete conquest of his kingdom by Cyrus II the Great, the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. During the war with Croesus, the Persians sent an offer to the Ionians to abandon Lydia. It was rejected by all the cities except Miletus. After the capture of the main city of Sardis and the capture of Croesus, an embassy was sent to Cyrus from the Hellenes living on the coast of Asia Minor. The Ionians agreed to submit to the new ruler on the same terms as the previous one. The offer was rejected: Cyrus responded to the ambassadors with a parable about a fisherman who first unsuccessfully tried to lure a fish to land by playing the flute, and after catching it with a net, ordered the fish that was beating on the ground to "stop dancing", since it did not want to dance to the flute before. According to Diodorus, Cyrus, through his general Harpagus, demanded complete submission to Persia. The Ionians could not accept the conditions of the Persians and began to prepare for war. The treaty of Miletus and Persia, apparently, was supposed to grant the Miletians autonomy as part of the Persian empire, but after the accession of Darius I, the "special status" of Miletus was canceled.

Sparta, which by that time had become one of the most powerful poleis of Greece, maintained close relations with the Lydian kingdom, which resulted in the Lydian-Spartan alliance treaty concluded around 550 BC. This event occurred before the Lydian war with Persia began, and from the Spartan point of view, the treaty was not directed against any particular enemy. After the outbreak of war and the Battle of Pteria, Croesus appealed to the Spartans for military assistance. The Spartans decided to help the Lydians, but did not have time: during the preparations, news came that Sardis had fallen, and Croesus was captured.

In 545 BC, at a meeting of the Ionian Greeks in Panionia, it was decided to appeal to Sparta for military assistance. The Ionian Embassy was denied assistance. Probably, the Spartans were afraid to move against a hitherto unknown opponent who had defeated the seemingly powerful kingdom of Croesus. But they, wanting to preserve their reputation, decided to act in diplomatic ways. The Spartan ambassador stated on behalf of the Spartan authorities that the Persians should not start military operations against the poleis of Ionia and Aeolis, but Cyrus rejected this warning. After a short period of resistance, all the Hellenic cities on the west coast fell into complete submission to the Persians.

During the reign of Cambyses, the Greek cities of Cyprus, as well as Cyrene, submitted to the Persians. In the early years of Darius ' reign, the Persians captured Samos.

In 513 BC, a large Persian army led by King Darius I crossed from Asia to Europe. Moving against the Scythians, the Persians conquered Greek cities in Thrace. Most of the rulers of these cities, realizing the impossibility of resistance, voluntarily recognized their dependence on the Persians and joined the campaign against the Scythians. Left in Europe with an army of Megabases, it led to the submission of local cities that refused to submit to the Persians, operating in the Hellespont and Propontis region and along the entire northern coast of the Aegean Sea, up to Thessaly. Otanus, who succeeded Megabazus as satrap of Daskilius, continued to subdue the Greek cities on the Asian and European coasts of the Hellespont and Propontis.

Relations between Athens and Persia were complicated by the following circumstance: the Persians accepted the exiled Athenian tyrant Hippias. The Athenian leader Cleisthenes, fearing an attack by the Spartans, sent an embassy to Sardis in 508/507 BC to the Persian satrap and brother of the king Artaphernes. The purpose of the envoys was to secure a defensive alliance against the Spartans. The Persians demanded "land and water"from the Athenians. The ambassadors agreed. This symbolic act meant a formal recognition of one's submission. Although the ambassadors were "severely censured" on their return home, the Persians began to regard the Athenians as their subjects, like the Ionian Greeks. Around 500 BC, the Athenians sent a new embassy to Artaphernes. The subject of discussion was the presence of Hippias in the Persian camp, who, according to Herodotus, undertook anti-Athenian propaganda and sought to subjugate the city to himself and Darius. Artaphernes demanded that the former tyrant be returned to his homeland. This condition the Athenians could not accept, and the demand to return Hippias helped to increase anti-Persian sentiment in Athens.

During the reign of Aristagoras, there was a revolt on the nearby Greek island of Naxos. Demos expelled a number of wealthy citizens who went to Miletus to ask for help. They promised to cover the costs of the war. Aristagoras pursued personal goals and assumed that by returning the exiles to their homeland, he could become the ruler of a rich and advantageously located island. The cunning Greek went to Sardis to visit the Persian satrap and brother of Darius Artaphernes and persuaded him to provide an army. The Persians equipped 200 warships. Megabat was installed by the Persian commander. Preparations for the military expedition to Naxos were conducted in secret. It was officially announced that the fleet was going to sail in the opposite direction from Naxos to the Hellespont. However, there was a quarrel between two military leaders — Megabates and Aristagoras. Aristagoras pointed out that he was nominally in charge of the campaign and that the Persians should obey him implicitly. According to Herodotus, Megabates, enraged, sent a messenger to Naxos with a warning about the impending attack on the island. The islanders had already prepared for a siege. As a result, after spending a lot of money, after a 4-month siege, the Persians were forced to return home.

Aristagoras found himself in a quandary. First, he did not fulfill his promise to the king's brother Artaphernes, second, he had to pay large sums for the maintenance of the army, and third, a quarrel with the king's relative Megabates could cost him power over Miletus and his life. All these fears inspired Aristagoras with the idea of raising an uprising against the Persians. He was prompted to open actions by a letter from Histiaeus, who was at the court of the king.

At the military council of the followers of Aristagoras, it was decided to start an uprising. The revolt quickly spread not only to the cities of Ionia, but also to Aeolia, Caria, Lycia, and even Cyprus. Everywhere, tyranny was overthrown and a democratic form of government was established. In winter, Aristagoras went to the European part of Hellas to attract allies. In Sparta, King Cleomenes I refused to help him, and the Athenians sent 20 ships to help the rebels. The Eretrians also equipped 5 ships to help the rebels.

In the spring of 498 BC, the Athenians and Eretrians joined the rebels. They joined up with their main force near the city of Ephesus. Aristagoras relinquished command of the troops, handing over control to his brother Charopinus and a certain Hermophantus. At this time, Persian troops were marching to Miletus to destroy the very center of the uprising. The insurgents, instead of going to the aid of Miletus, went to the capital of the satrapy of Lydia and one of the most important cities of the empire, Sardam. Artaphernes, the king's viceroy and brother, was stunned to find himself in an unprotected city. The Persian garrison retreated to the fortification. One of the Greek soldiers set fire to one of the houses. Soon, the fire engulfed the entire city. Along with residential buildings, the temple of the local goddess Cybele also burned down. Local residents did not like this course of events, and they took up arms. The Greeks were forced to retreat to the coast.

Upon learning of the incident, the Persian satraps from the surrounding territories sent their troops to Sardis. The rebels were no longer in the dilapidated city. Following them, the king's army overtook the retreating forces near Ephesus. In the ensuing battle, the Greeks were defeated and forced to retreat. The Athenians, despite Aristagoras ' admonitions, went home.

The capture and burning of Sardis had serious consequences. Hearing of the seemingly brilliant success of the uprising, many cities in Asia Minor and Cyprus joined it. The Lydians perceived the burning of the temple of Cybele as a desecration of the shrine. In the imperial capital of Susa, the devastation of Sardis made a strong impression. The Persians began to act more quickly and energetically, while without this event they would have considered the insurrection more insignificant. Upon learning of what had happened, Darius, according to Herodotus, was imbued with the goal of taking revenge on the Athenians.

Under Artaphernes ' energetic leadership, Sardis became the center of military preparations. Since there was a danger of connecting the Scythians with the rebellious Ionians, an army led by Darius ' son-in-law Davris was sent to the north-west of Asia Minor in the area of the Propontis (Sea of Marmara). Davris ' actions were successful. He very quickly (according to Herodotus, it took him one day to conquer each of the cities) managed to capture Dardania, Abydos, Perkota, Lampsacus and Pes. Having conquered the Hellespont region, Davris went to conquer the rebellious Caria.

In Caria, the Persians managed to win two victories-near the place where the Marsyas River joins the Meander, and near the sanctuary of Labrainda.. However, the Persians could not take advantage of their successes. After learning of their movements, the Carians managed to set up a trap on the way to the city of Pedas, in which the entire enemy army was destroyed, including the commander-in-chief Davris. The death of an entire army forced the Persians to stop the offensive. The next two years (496 and 495 BC) were relatively peaceful. Neither side conducted any active offensive actions.

By 494 BC, the Persians were preparing for a large-scale offensive. Their goal was to conquer the center of the Miletus revolt. They gathered a large army and navy by ancient standards. Their troops included residents of a number of conquered peoples, in particular, Phoenicians, Cypriots, Cilicians and Egyptians. Datis was given overall command.

The rebels, seeing the preparation of the Persians, gathered for a council in Panioni. It was decided not to send a general land force against the Persians, leaving the defense of Miletus to the Miletians themselves. At the same time, the Greek cities agreed to equip an allied fleet to defend the city from the sea. Upon arriving at Miletus, the Persian commanders decided that first of all they needed to defeat the fleet, since otherwise the siege of the city would be ineffective. They succeeded in creating discord among the Greeks. In the naval battle of Lada, due to treachery, the Hellenes were defeated. This defeat determined the fate of Miletus.

After the siege, the city was taken by storm, the men were killed, and the women and children were enslaved.

During Davris ' offensive on the Hellespont and Caria in 497 BC, the armies of Artaphernes and Otanes attacked Ionia and neighboring Aeolid. The Persians managed to capture two cities-Clazomenes and Cima. However, after Davris ' defeat, offensive operations stopped. During the Persian offensive, Aristagoras fled Miletus to the colony of his father-in-law Histiaeus, which was given to him by Darius. He was soon killed in the siege of a Thracian city.

After the fall of Miletus, the revolt was lost. After wintering, the Persians successively captured all the cities that were out of their control. According to Herodotus, they treated the rebels extremely cruelly, organizing raids on people, turning young boys into eunuchs for harems, and sending pretty girls into slavery. Residents of some cities have left their homes. Miltiades was also among those fleeing from the wrath of the Persians, who managed to win a brilliant victory at Marathon a few years later.

Mardonius Campaign

The failure of the Asia Minor uprising, caused by a lack of solidarity among Greek cities, greatly encouraged Darius. In 492 BC, Darius ' son-in-law Mardonius marched with a huge army and a strong fleet to Greece through Thrace and Macedonia. After conquering the island of Thassos, his fleet sailed along the coast to the west, but was defeated by a terrible storm at Cape Athos: about 300 ships and 20,000 people died. The land army of Mardonius was attacked by the Thracian tribe of Brigae and suffered enormous losses. Mardonius contented himself with the conquest of Macedonia; The attack on Hellas was postponed, but Darius was preparing for a new campaign. In 491 BC, ambassadors of the Persian king were sent to Hellas demanding water and land as a sign of submission. These symbols of submission were given not only to most of the islands, including Aegina, but also to many cities, such as Thebes. In Athens and Sparta, the ambassadors were killed. The acquiescence of the islands and many communities on the mainland is due not only to the power of Persia, but also to the struggle between aristocrats and democrats: tyrants and aristocrats were ready to submit to the Persians, if only not to give the democratic party the upper hand. The national independence of the Greeks was in great danger, which could only be eliminated by the creation of a major alliance. A sense of national unity was awakened in the Greeks. The Athenians turned to Sparta with a demand to punish the cities that had changed, thereby recognizing its primacy over Greece.

Datis and Artaphernes hike

Darius removed Mardonius from command and appointed his nephew Artaphernes in his place, giving him the experienced commander of the Medes Datis. The main objectives of the military expedition were to conquer or subdue Athens and Eretria on the island of Euboea, which also provided aid to the rebels, as well as the Cyclades Islands and Naxos. According to Herodotus, Darius ordered Datis and Artaphernes to " enslave the inhabitants of Athens and Eretria and bring them before his royal eyes." Hippias, the former tyrant of Athens, was also with the expedition.

During the expedition, the Persian army conquered Naxos and landed on the island of Euboea in the middle of the summer of 490 BC. When this happened, the people of Eretria decided not to leave the city and try to withstand the siege. The Persian army did not limit itself to a siege, but tried to take the city by storm. Herodotus wrote that the fight was fierce, and both sides suffered heavy losses. Nevertheless, after six days of fighting, two Eretrian nobles, Euphorbus and Philagrus, opened the gates to the enemy. The Persians entered the city, sacked it, and burned temples and shrines in retaliation for the burning of Sardis. The captured citizens were enslaved. From Euboea, the Persians crossed the narrow Strait of Eurypus to Attica and encamped at Marathon. The Marathon plain was convenient for the actions of a strong Persian cavalry.

The imminent danger caused confusion in Athens. Among the Athenians, there were both supporters of the resistance and its opponents. Miltiades was able to organize the mobilization of all forces for armed resistance, leading psephism through the national assembly. The Miltiad psephism provided for the conscription of all able-bodied male citizens into the ranks of the polis militia, as well as the release of a certain number of slaves to replenish the army. Despite all our efforts, we managed to collect about 9 thousand hoplites. A messenger was sent to Sparta with a request for help, but the Spartans hesitated, citing religious precepts. The inhabitants of the Boeotian city of Plataea sent their entire militia of one thousand men to help the Athenians.

The Athenian-Plataean troops marched to Marathon. It was not profitable to wait for Persian troops in the city: the walls were not too strong, and there might be traitors in the city itself. The Athenians were encamped at Marathon, not far from the Persians. The nominal commander was the archon-polemarch Callimachus, and under him were ten strategists who alternately commanded the army, including Miltiades. Of them, he was the most talented, the most experienced, and the most energetic. There were disputes among strategists about further actions against the Persians. Miltiades called for an immediate general battle. Others argued for a wait-and-see approach, fearing the superiority of the Persian forces. The strategists were divided: five were in favor of the battle, including Miltiades and Aristides, and five were against it. Miltiades convinced Callimachus of the need for an immediate battle. Then all the strategists followed Aristides in ceding their days of command to Miltiades. Miltiades devised a battle plan and put it into practice.

The Athenian army took up a position on the Pentelikon ridge, which is difficult to attack, and thus blocked the road from Marathon to Athens. The Persians, who were outnumbered, did not attack the Greeks or try to outflank them. Datis decided to put the warriors back on the ships and land the army at Falera, near Athens. After most of the Persian cavalry and some of the Persian infantry were put on ships, Miltiades decided to attack the Persians. Given the two-fold superiority of the Persian forces, Miltiades, in order to avoid encirclement, strongly stretched the Athenian phalanx along the front, strengthening the flanks at the expense of the center and concentrating the main forces on them, and then using a sudden rapid attack, used the advantage of the closed formation of the Greek Hoplites over the scattered formation of the lightly armed Persians, supported by cavalry and archers.

Map of the Battle of Marathon

On September 12, 490 BC, the Athenians and Plataeans surprised the Persians by attacking them. The close formation of the Greek Hoplites had an advantage over the scattered formation of the lightly armed Persians, supported by cavalry and archers, so the Greeks initially pressed the Persians. The Persian horsemen, overwhelmed by the onslaught of the Greeks, were never able to take a significant part in the battle. The center of the Greek army retreated somewhat under the pressure of the superior Persian forces, but this was provided for by Miltiades. He ordered the flanks to turn around and attack the rear of the Persians who had broken through in the center. This led to the encirclement and extermination of a significant part of the enemy forces. The surviving Persians retreated to their ships and immediately put to sea.

After leaving Marathon, the Persian ships moved around Attica to try to capture Athens: after all, the city remained defenseless while the entire police militia was on the battlefield, 42 kilometers away. However, Miltiades immediately, without a break after the battle, made a forced march with the entire army (leaving only a small detachment led by Aristides to protect the prisoners and loot) in full armor to Athens and arrived there before the Persian fleet. Seeing that the city was well guarded, the demoralized Persians, having achieved nothing, went back. The punitive expedition of the Persians ended in failure.

The Athenians and Plataeans under the command of Miltiades won a brilliant victory. 192 Greeks and 6,400 Persians were killed in the battle. The victory raised the morale of the Athenians and later remained in their memory as a symbol of the greatness of Athens.

Xerxes ' Campaign

In the spring of 480 BC, a Persian army crossed the Hellespont Strait (present-day Hellespont). Dardanelles) from Asia to Europe. Xerxes personally led a new invasion of Hellas. The ruler of the Achaemenid Empire managed to gather huge forces for this purpose. Herodotus gives a fantastic figure: in the land army of Xerxes there were more than 5 million people. Most modern scientists are skeptical about this message. Some historians believe that Xerxes had no more than a few tens of thousands of soldiers at his disposal. But most likely, the truth is somewhere in the middle. It is more likely that the Persian army numbered several hundred thousand people. In any case, this contingent was much larger than what the Hellenes could put up.

Xerxes ' army was accompanied by a fleet of about 1,200 different ships. Moreover, the huge Persian fleet included not only Phoenician ships, but also ships of the Greek poleis of Asia Minor and nearby islands subject to the Achaemenids. By ordering his Greek subjects to provide military forces to participate in the campaign, the Persian ruler sought to test their loyalty to the Achaemenids.

After leading the warriors across the Hellespont via a specially constructed pontoon bridge, Xerxes then set off along the route Mardonius had previously taken, along the northern coast of the Aegean Sea. The fleet, accompanying the army, moved close to the shore. To avoid shipwreck while bypassing Cape Athos, the Persians dug a channel through the two-kilometer isthmus, along which the ships passed. The armies of Xerxes overran Thrace, Macedonia, and Greek Thessaly. The majority of Thessalian cities voluntarily surrendered to the Persians.

The time has come for the Greek poleis – members of the Hellenic Union-to immediately take up defensive positions. The original plan was to contain the onslaught of the Persians in the Tempe Gorge (in northern Thessaly). However, this plan had to be abandoned because of the pro-Persian position of the Thessalians. The Thermopylae Pass, which was a natural border between Northern and Central Greece, was chosen as a new location for the defensive line. Although the Spartans, in whose hands was the overall command of military operations, from the very beginning were inclined to hold the defense on the Isthmus Isthmus, closing the entrance to the Peloponnese. But in this case, Athens remained defenseless. Only at the insistence of the Athenians did Sparta agree to send a small allied force led by King Leonidas to Thermopylae. The squad consisted of about 7,000 people, including 300 spartiates, who made up its elite part. At the same time, the Greek fleet came out to meet the Persians, taking up positions near Thermopylae, at the northern tip of the island of Euboea.

The Persians took Athens, burned and destroyed the defenseless city, killed hundreds of old people who did not want to leave their native walls. Soon the Persian fleet also approached Athens. But there was a trap waiting for Xerxes: Themistocles managed to force a naval battle on the Persians in the strait between Salamis and Attica. At the end of September 480 BC, the famous Battle of Salamis took place, which became the culmination of all the Greco-Persian wars. Of the total number of the Greek fleet (380 ships under the command of the Spartan navarch Eurybiades), almost half was the Athenian squadron (180 ships), which was headed by Themistocles. Fearing defeat due to the numerical superiority of the enemy, Eurybiades initially wanted to avoid the battle and withdraw to the Isthmus, but Themistocles made every effort to ensure that the battle took place.

In the narrow strait, the Persian fleet was unable to use its advantage. Numerous bulky, unwieldy Persian ships, having lost control, huddled together. The more mobile and maneuverable Greek triremes crowded the enemy ships, boarded them and sank them with ramming blows. Persian sailors who tried to get out on land and escape were killed by Greek soldiers commanded by Aristides. The battle ended with a complete and unconditional victory for the Greeks, and the main contribution to this victory was undoubtedly made by the ships of the Athenian fleet.

After the defeat at Salamis, Xerxes was forced to return home with the remnants of his fleet. However, for the Athenians who returned to the ashes of their native city, the danger was not over yet: in Greece there was a fairly strong (several tens of thousands of people) land Persian army led by an experienced military commander Mardonius. Having made Boeotia their base, this army moved around Hellas, sowing destruction everywhere. The Persians even managed to retake Athens for a time, and later Mardonius intended to invade the Peloponnese. In 479 BC. The Greek poleis, members of the Hellenic Union, managed to gather a combined army comparable in size to the Persian one. The battle with the Persians took place in the south of Boeotia, near the town of Plataea, and was difficult for both sides. At the Battle of Plataea, the Greek phalanx under the Spartan general Pausanias again demonstrated its superiority, inflicting a final defeat on the Persian forces. Mardonius was killed, and the remnants of his army fled from Greece.

In parallel with the conduct of the land military campaign in the Balkan Peninsula, the forces of the Hellenic Union did not stop military operations at sea. The combined Greek fleet, commanded by the Spartan king Leotichides and the Athenian strategist Xanthippus, approached the coast of Asia Minor, where the Persians were preparing reserve forces in the area of Cape Mikale, capable of making a new invasion of Hellas if necessary. In the battle of Mycale, which took place simultaneously on land and at sea, these reserve forces of the Persians were destroyed. By the way, this battle took place on the same day as the Battle of Plataea, which was hardly a coincidence; most likely, the Greeks had a coordinated plan of action in all directions.

The battles of Plataea and Mycale ended the most important stage of the Greco-Persian wars. The victories won by the Greeks at this stage led to a radical change in the course of military operations. The strategic initiative passed to the Greeks. The Achaemenid claim to power over Greece was over.

Further fighting

One of the main generals of Xerxes, Mardonius, appealed to the king to leave him a part of the land army for further war. After some hesitation, Xerxes agreed. Mardonius and his army halted for winter quarters in Thessaly and Boeotia, and the Athenians were able to return to the sacked city. In the winter, the Greek allies gathered again in Corinth to celebrate the victory and discuss further military operations.

Athens found itself in a difficult position due to the imminent danger from the Persian army of Mardonius, while the Spartans were in the Peloponnese and building defensive structures on the Isthmus. Mardonius entered into negotiations with the Athenians and offered them a separate peace. During the discussion in the National Assembly, Aristides insisted on refusing the Persians. Then Mardonius occupied Athens, and the Athenians again had to evacuate to Salamis. At Aristides ' suggestion, an embassy was sent to Sparta (Cimon, Xanthippus, and Myronides) demanding help. The threat was expressed that if they refused, "the Athenians themselves will find a means of salvation." As a result, the army led by the regent of the infant son of the deceased king Leonidas Plistarch Pausanias went on a campaign.

An Athenian militia of 8,000 men was sent to Boeotia under the command of Aristides. Plutarch claimed that Aristides was a strategist-avtokrator (a strategist with unlimited powers for the duration of combat operations). The Battle of Plataea ended in a crushing defeat for the Persians.

According to legend, on the same day, the day of the Battle of Plataea, the Allied fleet defeated the demoralized remnants of the Persian fleet at the Battle of Mycale. This marked the end of the Persian invasion and the beginning of the next phase of the Greco-Persian wars, the Greek counteroffensive. After Mikale, the Greek cities of Asia Minor revolted again, and the Persians were unable to return them to their own power. The allied fleet then sailed to Chersonesos, occupied by the Persians, and besieged and captured the city of Sis. The following year, 478 BC, the Allies sent forces to capture the city of Byzantium (modern Istanbul). The siege ended successfully, but the harsh behavior of the Spartan general Pausanias towards the allies led to the discontent of many allies and caused the recall of Pausanias.

After the siege of Byzantium, Sparta began to seek a way out of the war. The Spartans believed that after the liberation of mainland Greece and the Greek cities of Asia Minor, the goal of the war was achieved. There was also an opinion that it was impossible to ensure the independence of the Asian Greeks. The Hellenic Union of Greek city-states, which fought against the forces of Xerxes, was dominated by Sparta and the Peloponnesian Union. After the withdrawal of Sparta from the war, the leadership of the Greek forces passed to the Athenians. The congress met on the sacred island of Delos to form a new alliance to continue the fight against the Persians. This union, which included many of the Aegean islands, was officially called the "First Athenian Union", better known in historiography as the Delian Union. According to Thucydides, the official purpose of the alliance was "to avenge the Barbarian for the calamities he had caused by ravaging the Persian land." Over the next decade, the forces of the Delian Alliance drove the remaining Persian garrisons out of Thrace, as well as expanding the territories controlled by the Delian Alliance.

After the defeat of the Persian forces in Europe, the Athenians began to expand the alliance in Asia Minor. The islands of Samos, Chios and Lesbos probably became members of the Hellenic Alliance after the Battle of Mikale and were presumably among the first members of the Delian Alliance. However, it is not clear when exactly the other cities of Ionia or other Greek cities of Asia Minor joined the union. Thucydides attests to the presence of Ionians in Byzantium in 478 BC, so it is possible that some of the Ionian cities joined the union in early 478 BC. The Athenian politician Aristides, according to one version, died in Pontus (c.468 BC), where he sailed on public business. Since Aristide was responsible for ensuring that each member of the union paid a fee, this trip may be related to the expansion of the union in Asia Minor.

In 477 BC, Cimon conducts his first successful military operation. The siege of the city of Aion at the mouth of the Strymon River ended with the besieged Persians setting the city on fire and dying in the flames. The capture of the city allowed the Greeks to begin colonizing the attractive Strymon region.

In 476 BC, Cimon conducted another successful military campaign. After seizing Skyros, an island in the northwestern Aegean Sea, he drove out the pirates who had settled there, who hindered the normal development of maritime trade. According to legend, the mythological hero and former king of Athens Theseus was killed on the island. After a diligent search, Cimon announced that he had found the remains of Theseus. Regardless of whether the bones brought to Athens belonged to Theseus himself, or not, this episode added to Cimon's popularity among the people.

In 471 BC, he expelled the Spartan regent Pausanias from Byzantium. The former winner of the Battle of Plataea is out of control. He arbitrarily captured this strategically important city and ruled it as a tyrant. This situation did not suit anyone, including the Spartans. The captured city became part of the Delian Alliance, further strengthening the Athenian power. A legend is connected with the capture of Byzantium, according to which Cimon, during the division of the spoils, ordered the captive Persians to be put on one side, and their gold jewelry to be put on the other. After that, he suggested that the allies choose any of the parts, so that the other would go to the Athenians. At the time, everyone thought that Kimon had made a mockery of himself with this division. The allies took away the jewels, and the Athenians got the naked bodies of people who were not used to physical labor. Soon, friends and relatives of the prisoners began to buy them out. This allowed Kimon to raise very large funds.

Shortly after Themistocles ' exile, Cimon won one of the most high-profile victories of the Greco-Persian wars at the Battle of Eurymedon. He managed to win a "triple" victory in two sea and one land battles over superior enemy forces in one day.

The Athenians learned that a large Persian naval and land force was gathering at the mouth of the Eurymedon River (in southwestern Asia Minor) to invade Hellas. At the head of a fleet of 200 ships, Cimon arrived at the location of the Persians and took them by surprise. Most of the Persians were on the beach. In this regard, the Greeks managed to defeat the enemy fleet and capture 200 triremes. The Persians were slow in this situation, as they were waiting for the replenishment of 80 ships of the Phoenicians, who were on the way to the battle site. The Greeks, having landed on the shore, imposed a battle on the enemy and defeated the land army. The battle didn't end there. By order of the commander-in-chief, the Greeks again boarded ships and defeated the Phoenician fleet approaching Eurymedon.

The crushing defeat at Eurymedon forced the Persian king to negotiate. An Athenian embassy headed by Cimon's son-in-law, Callius, went to Susa. The details of the concluded peace treaty (the de facto armistice, which is called Cimon's peace) are unknown, but its terms were clearly beneficial for the Athenians.

The time interval between the Battle of Eurymedon (469 or 466 BC) and the Egyptian expedition of the Athenians (459-454 BC), which was at least 10 years, was characterized by the absence of military operations between the Persians and the Greeks. Just at this time, a military conflict broke out between the Spartans and the Athenians (former allies in the anti — Persian coalition) - the lesser Peloponnesian War.

In 450 BC — 449 BC, Cimon again marched against the Persians, but in the same year he died, leaving behind the memory of the last great leader in the Greco-Persian wars. Despite the double glorious victory of the Greeks at Salamis, Athens had to abandon offensive actions against Persia, since they had difficult tasks within the state and the fatal enmity with Sparta had already begun for Athens.


Persia lost its possessions in the Aegean Sea, on the coast of the Hellespont and Bosphorus, and recognized the political independence of the poleis of Asia Minor.

The Greco-Persian wars were of great importance to Greece. They accelerated the development of Greek culture, instilled in the Greeks an awareness of their greatness. In their success, the Greeks saw the victory of freedom over slavery. The people's independence and public freedom associated with the developing democracy were saved. Since the advantage was on the side of Athenian democracy, after the Greco-Persian wars, almost all Greek states were covered by the democratic movement. Athens became a great maritime power and became the center of Greece, culturally, politically, intellectually and economically.

Related topics

Ancient Greece, Athens, Delos Maritime Union, Alexander the Great, Alexander the Great's military campaigns