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The Persians had a highly trained army called the Ten Thousand Immortals. They were called Immortals because as soon as one soldier died in combat, another immediately replaced him.

  • From 499 to 479 BCE the Persian Empire was the enemy of Athens and Sparta.
  • At the time, Persia was the largest empire in the world, stretching from Asia Minor to India, and the Caspian Sea to Egypt and Arabia.
  • The Persian Empire began in the modern day country of Iran
  • They built their empire by conquering neighboring civilizations.
  • The Persians had the best archers in the world.
    • An archer is a person who shoots with a bow and arrow. These archers made Persia difficult to defeat.
    • The Persians conquered Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt. They also conquered areas of India, Europe and Mesopotamia
Darius the Great

  • One of the greatest Persian Kings, King Darius, divided the empire into 20 parts.
  • Each part was known as a Satrap.
    • Satraps made it easier to collect taxes.
    • Each satrap had its own government leaders.
    • When an area was conquered, they were allowed to keep their own customs and religion.
  • In 546 BCE the Persians conquered the Greek settlement of Ionia. It is located in Asia Minor.
  • The Persians:
    • Took over the Ionian’s harbor and farmland
  • Forced the Ionians to pay tribute.
    • A tribute is a payment made from one weaker group to another stronger group.
    • Forced the Ionians to become soldiers in the Persian army
  • Ionians knew they needed help defeating the Persians.
  • They asked other Greek city-states for help
  • Athens sent a fleet of ships to help but didn't stay long
  • The Ionians had to fight alone and were defeated by the Persians in 493 BCE
  • The Persians punished the Ionians for rebelling by destroying their city names Miletus. They also sold some people into slavery
Click here to watch a short video on the Ionian Revolt

The Battle of Marathon

  • Darius asked for tribute from the Greek city states, they said no
  • Threw his Messengers into pits and wells
  • 490 BCE- Darius sent soldiers across the Aegean Sea to Greece
    • Infantry- foot soldiers
    • Cavalry- soldiers on horseback
  • They set up on the plain of Marathon
  • Athens sent a runner named Pheidippides to Sparta
    • Pheidippides ran for two days
  • Sparta was celebrating a religious festival
    • Spartans wouldn't leave immediately
  • Athens and allies went against the Persians alone
  • The Greeks won with a surprise tactic
    • They lined up their men and advanced the soldiers in the middle and attacked from the sides as well
  • Athens were able to get back to Greece and defend it from the Persians
Click here to watch a video clip

  • King Xerxes, son of Darius, attacked Greece again.
  • He put together a large army (Immortals)
  • He needed to cross Hellespont, a narrow waterway between Europe and Asia
  • His army made two bridges with boats, wooden planks and ropes.
  • They attacked a number of Greek city-states
  • The Spartans and the Athenians joined together to fight
    • The Athenians fought on water
    • The Spartans fought on land
  • The Spartans biggest fight took place at Thermopylae
  • There position forced the Persians to travel through a narrow mountain pass.
  • Leonidas was the Spartan commander. The Spartan army had 6,000 - 7,000 soldiers
  • A traitors showed the Persians a passage through the mountains
  • Leonidas commanded his troops to escape
  • 300 soldiers stayed to fight, all 300 were killed but their bravery is an important Greek legend.
Click here for a video clip about the battle of Thermopylae

The Battle of Salamis

  • After Thermopylae the citizens of Athens fled to nearby islands
  • A small army stayed in Athens as defense
  • Xerxes defeated Athens and burned it
  • Themistocles, a navy leader from Athens, wanted to defeat the Persians on boats in a narrow channels between the mainland and islands
  • This would make it hard to move ships around
  • Themistocles lied and told Xerxes he and his troops wanted to join the Persians
  • Xerxes entered the channel near the island of Salamis and the Greek boats pretended to retreat
  • The Greeks surrounded the Persians and used wooden rams to destroy 300 Persian ships.
Click here to watch a video clip about the Battle of Salamis

The Battle of Plataea

  • Xerxes and some soldiers fled to Hellespont but left the rest of his army in Greece
  • He ordered his soldiers to attack again in the spring
  • The Greek city-states joined together and created an army of of 80,000 Greeks.
  • In 479 BCE they defeated the Persian army outside a town called Plataea.
  • The Persian army stopped attacking Greece.
  • This defeat stopped the Persian army from taking over all of Europe.
  • Thousands of Greeks died in the Greco-Persian Wars
  • Athens was destroyed, but would rebuild.
Click here to watch a video clip about the Battle of Plataea