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From Hutton Webster's, Early European History (1917); edited for this on-line publication, by ELLOPOS
II. THE GREAT AGE OF THE GREEK REPUBLICS TO 362 B.C.
» Contents of this ChapterPage 4
BATTLE OF MARATHON, 490 B.C.
The situation of the Athenians seemed desperate. They had scarcely ten thousand men with whom to face an army far larger and hitherto invincible. The Spartans promised support, but delayed sending troops at the critical moment. Better, perhaps, than a Spartan army was the genius of Miltiades, one of the Athenian generals. Relying on Greek discipline and Greek valor to win the day, he decided to take the offensive. His heavy armed soldiers made a smashing charge on the Persians and drove them in confusion to their ships. Datis and Artaphernes then sailed back to Asia with their errand of vengeance unfulfilled.
POLICIES OF ARISTIDES AND THEMISTOCLES
After the battle of Marathon the Athenians began to make preparations to resist another Persian invasion. One of their leaders, the eminent Aristides, thought that they should increase their army and meet the enemy on land. His rival, Themistocles, urged a different policy. He would sacrifice the army to the navy and make Athens the strongest sea power in Greece. The safety of Athens, he argued, lay in her ships. In order to settle the question the opposing statesmen were put to the test of ostracism. The vote went against Aristides, who was obliged to withdraw into exile. Themistocles, now master of the situation, persuaded the citizens to use the revenues from some silver mines in Attica for the upbuilding of a fleet. When the Persians came, the Athenians were able to oppose them with nearly two hundred triremes --the largest navy in Greece.
Cf. The Ancient Greece * The Ancient Rome
Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * Western Medieval Europe * Renaissance in Italy