Saturday, July 21, 2012

Essay on Persian invasion of 490 B.C.

Essay on Persian invasion of 490 B.C.

The Persian Empire developed quickly both in its sizes and military conquerors and reached the apogee and best position in the world approximately at the beginning of 500 B.C., when it managed to conquer the Greek city-states. In such a situation, I would say that the Persian Empire was one of the major powers in the ancient world at that epoch. However, Greeks didn’t put up with their new status of a conquered state and during the period from 499 to 494 B.C., a lot of rebels took place against Persian kings, but the Greek army was too week to make the results of rebels successful and every time they were beaten by Persians (Hornblower 150). After unsuccessful results of all rebels, King Darius I of Persia decided to send a big Army to the capital of Greece, Athens, in order to punish people who didn’t want to put up with their conquerors. The historical facts tell us that Greek army consisted of much less soldiers than the Persian, but, nevertheless, it defeated them at the Battle of Marathon in 490 B.C (Hornblower 168). This is why we can presuppose that Greeks probably had more advanced weapon and military strategy and tactics compared to Persians.
The first and one of the main plans of King Darius was to conquer the state of Eretria, the main purpose of which was to frighten Athenians by the strength and number (it numbered 25,000 people of infantry and 1,000 people of cavalry) of Persian Army (Hornblower 181).

At that time, Greek Army numbered approximately 10 thousand soldiers (Hornblower 195). The Athenian army, numbering 9,000-10,000, was commanded by a very experienced in battles and rather famous in Greece Callimachus and entered the road leading to the northern part of Athens that proves our presupposition that Greeks had strategic and tactical advantages in the war. After some time it became known that the main part of Persian Army was located very close to the Bay of Marathon, and after getting this information Callimachus sent Greek Army to the valley of Avlona and encamped at the shrine of Heracles where approximately 1,000 of Plataeans joined him there (Hornblower 219). Later when both Armies were ready for the battle, nobody wanted to start the attack first. During 8 days two armies didn’t show any actions staying peacefully. Only on the ninth day Eretria was conquered by Persians and they were ready for attacking Greeks at any time. However, we could estimate that it was rather a temporary defeat in the battle while the war had not been totally lost yet. On September 21 Greek Army went out to start battle with Persians.

As long as Greeks knew that the basis of Persian Army were archers, they worked out a plan, which proved their superiority in strategic thinking, tactics and weapon. According to this plan, it was necessary to advance Persians in formation until they reached the limit of the archer’s effectiveness, the “beaten zone,” or roughly 200 yards. After that, followed the advance in double time to close ranks quickly and bring the Greeks heavy infantry into play (Hornblower 226).

Speaking about the advantage of Greek Army, I should remind about its well armed forces with heavy and very effective at that time weapons - pikes, in comparison with Persian soldiers who were armed only with swords and spears that on top of that were rather short and small in size. But at the same time Persians had advantage dew to their bows that most of them were armed with (Hornblower 241). However, I believe that this advantage would vanish as soon as Greek army approached Persians forces and the close battle began.

As the Greeks advanced, their wings drew ahead of the center, which was under heavy fire from the archers. As they closed some Persians broke through the resulting gaps and drove the center back in rout. The Greek retreated in the center, besides pulling the Persians in. The inadvertent result was a double envelopment, and the battle ended when the whole Persian army, crowded into confusion, was forced to run away in panic and many were seized by the Greeks. Herodotus works give us information that almost over six thousand Persians were killed in comparison to only 192 Greek soldiers (Hornblower 257).

To cut a long story short, it should be pointed out that The Battle of Marathon was the greatest Victory of Greek Army over the Persians. We call it greatest because every time before Greek Army was beaten by Persian and didn’t have any chances for victory and after the Battle of Marathon this regularity was broken.

We get this information from the works of Greek historian Herodotus, who probably was born the same year this Battle of Marathon took place and also Athenian soldier under the named Pheidippides who ran from Athens to Sparta in order to ask for their help (Hornblower 315). Nowadays this fact is started to be a legend of all times so famous that even the International Olympic Committee estimates the distance that Pheidippides overcame while running from the place of battle to the capital of Greece – Athens as 34.5 km (Hornblower 317). But till our time unfortunately no historical proofs were left whether this fact really took place or not, but this legend became the basis for the modern marathon athletics event. The race is run over a distance of 42.195 km (26.2 miles) (Hornblower 318).

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