The Persian Factor

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The Persian Factor Powered By Docstoc
					The Persian Factor

    Medes and Persians burst on
   the world scene to confront the
Rise of the Medes
 In 700 the Assyrian Empire was at its
 The Assyrians controlled both Babylonia
 and northern Persia, or Media.
 Deioces led the Medes in a successful
 rebellion against their Assyrian overlords
 and is made king.
 His successor Phraortes conquers the area
 south of Media known as Persia.
The Rise of Babylon
  Babylonia revolted against their Assyrian
  overlords, joining forces with Medes in doing so.
  The combined forces of the Babylonians under
  Nabopolassar and Medes defeated the Assyrian
  army and Ninevah fell in 612.
  The Assyrian Empire was divided between Media
  and Babylonia.
  Nebuchadnezzar succeeds to the Babylonian
  throne and brings that Empire to its greatest
  height, 604-562.
  Babylon now thought to be the greatest city in the
  world—its Hanging Gardens one of the world’s
  seven wonders.
Meanwhile…in Ionia
 The greatest polis of Ionia in western Asia
 Minor was Miletus.
 There lived a Greek named Thales who
 had studied astronomy in Egypt.
 He was the first European to successfully
 predict an eclipse to occur during May of
 We know him as the first Greek
 philosopher who was also the first scientist:
 he believed water was the common
 substance that explained the variety and
 unity of natural phenomena.
The Medes and Lydia
 Medes now controlled eastern Asia Minor
 to the banks of the Halys River—the border
 with Lydia.
 To conquer Lydia was the Median objective
 and they went to war for six years.
 But…in the midst of battle on May 28, 585,
 the eclipse occurred! Warriors of both
 armies were stunned.
 Both sides laid down their arms and
 concluded a peace. The Lydian king
 Alyattes gave his daughter in marriage to
 the Median king Astyages.
Croesus, 560-546
 Freed from Median threat, Lydia now turned to
 conquest of the Greek cities of Ionia and Aeolia.
 Alyattes’ son Croesus was able to subdue all the
 poleis except Miletus, which had signed a peace
 treaty with his father.
 Croesus adopted Greek religion, language, dress,
 and culture. He consulted Delphi.
 He built the world famous Temple of Artemis at
 His incredible wealth became proverbial. He
 introduced coins of pure gold and silver.
Fall of the Medes and Lydia
  Croesus brother-in-law Astyages was ousted from
  the throne by the Persian Cyrus the Great.
  Croesus consulted Delphi about a pre-emptive
  attack. The oracle said, “if you cross the Halys
  you will destroy a mighty empire.”
  Cyrus turned him back and captured Sardis in
  546. Croesus foolish attack had destroyed a
  mighty empire—his own.
  The fall of Lydia removed an important buffer
  between Greek mainland and the eastern empires.
  The Persians inherited Greek lands in western
  Asia Minor—and would look longingly to the Greek
A Story About Croesus
According to Herodotus, Cyrus built a great pyre and
placed Croesus along with 14 Lydian youths on the top.
While awaiting burning, Croesus recalled a conversation
with the Athenian Solon about happiness.
He had been offended that Solon thought only poorer men
truly happy, but now he recognized Solon’s wisdom.
He cried aloud, moaning the name of Solon. The fire was
lit when Cyrus heard what Croesus had been crying about
and ordered him spared—too late.
Apollo heard Croesus’ prayer and sent a rain shower out
of a clear sky to quench the flames.
Croesus was carried into exile in Media. This story
became as popular to the Greeks as “The Three Bears” is
to us!
Handwriting on the Wall
 The Persians conquered Babylon in 538 and killed
 the king Belshazzar. “Mene Mene Tekel Peres—
 Weighed in the balances and found wanting, your
 kingdom will be handed over to the Medes and
 Darius succeeded Cambyses, Cyrus’ son and
 turned his attention to Greece, beginning with the
 campaign against Scythia and the conquest of
 Darius ruled from 522-486 B.C. after he killed a
 usurper to the throne who claimed to be
 Cambyses’ brother.
The Persian Machinery of Rule
 Darius centralized the Persian government at
 Darius divided the empire into satrapies. Satraps
 ruled them as a governor does a province. The
 title is from old Farsi for “protector.”
 Satraps were appointed by the king and were
 assessed an annual tribute.
 Persian king was viewed much like a demigod
 whose orders to labor or perform military service
 were unquestioned by his subjects.
 This was a hard pill for Greeks, who were used to
 more independence than Persian subjects.
Ionian Rebellion
 Greeks were Persian subjects in western Asia
 Minor, or Ionia.
 Ionia and Lydia were two satrapies ruled by a
 single satrap at Sardis.
 Persians at first were content to allow tyrants to
 rule in Ionia, one of them was Aristagoras, tyrant
 of Miletus.
 With the king’s blessing, Aristagoras attempted to
 annex the island of Naxos, but he was betrayed by
 the admiral of the Persian navy in the Aegean.
 Disillusioned with the Persians, Aristagoras led a
 failed revolt in 499 that overthrew tyrants in Ionia
 and enlisted the aid of Athens and Eretria.
Revenge of the Persians
 In the Ionian rebellion, Athenians and Eretrians not
 only helped the rebels…they accidentally burned
 down Sardis, capital of the satrapy.
 The mainland Greeks left the city and marched to
 Ephesus. There they were met by a Persian force
 that defeated them.
 After the battle at Ephesus the mainland Greeks
 went home, but they were now on Darius’ radar.
 When told that the Athenians burned Sardis,
 Darius remarked, “Athenians? Who are they?”
 In 494, Miletus was defeated by the Persian navy.
 Aristagoras got away; Miletus’ men were carried
 off to the mouth of the Tigris; wives and kids
Athens braces for the Persians
 The defeat of Miletus depressed the Athenians.
 Athenians elected Themistocles archon and he
 adopted a policy of building defenses and fortifying
 In 492 the Persians conquered Thrace,
 Macedonia, and Thasos.
 In 490 the Persian navy landed a force in Greece,
 first burning Eretria and carrying off her people to
 central Asia.
 The Persians then sailed to the plains of Marathon
 in order to make a run at Athens.
The Battle of Marathon

                 August 490
              How different the
          world would be today
           if the Athenians had
             suffered the same
          fate as the Eretrians!
Preparing for the battle
 Marathon was a Peisistradid fortress about 26
 miles northwest of Athens near the Aegean coast.
 Athens decided to meet the Persians rather than
 wait for them to come to Athens.
 They sent a runner, Philippides, to Sparta who ran
 the 140 miles in one day to ask for help. The
 Spartans would come as soon as possible, at the
 new moon.
 About 1000 Plataeans did come to Athens’ aid.
 The Athenians may have had 9000 of their own to
 face a Persian force of more than 20,000.
The Battlefield
The Battle
 Callimachus was the elected strategos who was advised by
 the brilliant Miltiades.
 The Athenians were in perfect position to engage the
 The Persians attempted to slip by on a southern route to
 The Athenians attacked their flank from the west, thin in the
 middle and strong on the sides (let me demonstrate…)
 According to Herodotus (who is probably right) the Greeks
 lost 192, the Persians 6400.
 The surviving Persians escaped to the fleet which tried to
 make a run at Piraeus.
 The Athenian army left a regiment to clean up and quick
 marched back to Athens and stared down the Persians.
Athenian Soul Searching
 The Spartans arrived during the clean-up.
 The Persians were not done by a long shot.
 How best to fight the Persians in the future?
 Themistocles wanted to use a windfall silver strike
 from Laurium to build a navy, but Aristides
 opposed him.
 Aristides was “ostracized” and the navy built in
A Persian Comeback?
 Persians soon began to prepare for another
 invasion try.
 Darius died in 485 and was succeeded by Xerxes.
 After putting down rebellion in Egypt, he began to
 prepare to invade Greece.
 He built a canal in Chalcedon around Mt. Athos—
 strange to us, but necessary for his army and
 In 484 Xerxes began to rebuild the navy.
The Hellenic League
 481 Thirty-one poleis met at Corinth to discuss the
 Persian problem.
 Athens, Aegina, and the Peloponnesian League
 cities formed an alliance.
 Sparta was given military command with the
 Athenian navy under their direction.
 The League decided to make a stand in central
 Greece at Thermopylae.
 Attica’s populace was evacuated to Salamis.
The Battle of Thermopylae

                 July 480
          Go tell the Spartans,
          stranger passing by,
           That here, obeying
          their commands, we
A Place to Stand
 The Peloponnesians were most concerned with a
 defense of the Corinthian isthmus, but contributed
 soldiers to a defense of Attica.
 To protect eastern Greece the most feasible place
 of defense was Thermopylae (hot springs), a pass
 between the Malian Gulf and the Callidromus
 mountains in central Greece.
 Its only weakness was a mountainous bypass
 south of the pass that had to be secured.
 Spartan King Leonidas led the Greek army, which
 numbered about 7000 from a number of areas,
 including 300 Spartans.
The Battle Begins
 The Greek fleet hovered nearby as did the
 Persian fleet, but the Persians lost
 hundreds of ships in two storms and this
 emboldened the natives, mostly Athenian.
 Leonidas dispatched 1000 Phocians to
 guard the mountain bypass.
 Xerxes arrived with his army, but waited
 four days, expecting a Greek retreat, then
 attacked on the fifth and sixth days.
 The Greeks’ spearmen were superior to
 the Persian archers and beat them back.
Betrayal and Tragedy
 Xerxes decides to try the mountain bypass and a
 Malian Greek named Epialtes shows the way
 around the native armies to the “Immortals,”
 Xerxes’ personal guard.
 Phocians flee higher seeing Persian strength and
 stragglers report news to Leonidas.
 Leonidas dismisses all but 1400 of his forces to
 take up a new position. 300 Spartans guard the
 west end of the pass, 1100 Thebans and
 Thespians guard the east end.
 Leonidas charges oncoming Persians with his
 soldiers and is killed. A battle of Homeric
 proportions results to protect his body. All the
 Spartans are slain, Greek total losses in the
The Battle of Salamis

             September 480
           A heavy blow to the
           naval power of the
The Battle Begins
 When the Greek fleet heard of the fall of
 Thermopylae, they retreated to the shores of
 People of Attica had been removed to the island of
 Persians marched into Athens and burned the
 Persian fleet thought they had the Greeks bottled
 up in a sound called the Bay of Eleusis between
 Attica and the island of Salamis.
 Persian fleet decided to go through to the bay by
 way of an entrance bisected by an island into two
 narrow straits on morning of September 20.
The Battle Ends
 The Greeks divided the Persian fleet and
 drove their unwieldy ships into the shore. It
 was a disaster for the Persians under the
 view of Xerxes, enthroned on the Attican
 shore watching.
 The awful strategy of the Persian navy may
 actually have been invited by
 Themistocles, to force his Greeks to fight
 and not be tempted to withdraw to Corinth.
 Persian fleet retreats to the Hellespont.
 Xerxes leaves with 60,000 troops for
 Hellespont rendezvous.
Platea: Spring 479
 The last battle with the Persians in Europe took
 place near Platea, a city in extreme southeastern
 A Greek force of Spartans, Athenians, and
 Tegeans opposed a huge force of Persians and
 their Theban allies.
 Persian forces misperceived a weakness in the
 Spartan forces and attacked. The Spartans saw
 positive omens and attacked fiercely and crushed
 the Persians against a hillside.
 The battle was over before any Athenians could
 get involved. Persians fled to the Hellespont, the
 Greeks besieged Thebes.
Mycale, Spring 479
 The Greek fleet was positioned at the island of
 A message came from Greeks of the island of
 Samos, asking for liberation from the Persians.
 The Greek fleet under Xanthippus sailed to
 Samos, then pursued the retreating Persian navy
 to Cape Mycale where an army of Ionians and
 some Persians was camped.
 The Greeks blocked the Persians, then destroyed
 the land base when Ionian troops deserted the
 Persians. Ionia was free!

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