Ancient Greek history


The war of 480-479 BC was fought by the Greeks and the Persians. This was a war of invasion by the Persians on Greek territory. The Persians had for decades tried to invade the Greeks with no success. The campaign of 480-479 BC was a revenge attack on the Greeks by the Persians under the command of the Persian emperor Darius, a campaign he did not see through at he died before the attack. Fortunately or unfortunately his son was there to carry out his fathers wishes, Xerexes lead the attack on Greece between 480-479 BC. The Persian emperor, Darius's plan to invade the Greeks was as a result of the Greeks influence over the cities of Anatolia to rebel against the Persian rule. This mortified and angered Darius that he ordered an invasion of Greece.

The invasion of 480-479 BC was a revenge attack on the Greeks; the reason was that the Persians having attempted severally to invade Greece and failed in their attempts. Emperor Darius is known to have set out his army to Athens to punish them for their revolt. Darius was a proud king, his pride in his big empire and the fact that he had a big army, made the Persians confident in their army's resources and their strength. This gave the Persian army the confidence that they would take over Athens.

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It is important to understand the reasons for the Persians insistent invasion of the Greeks and the vigilant campaign to take over Athens. When Athens encouraged these cities to rebel against Persian rule, emperor Darius set out a campaign not only to increase his empire but also to punish the rebelling cities. His first invasion and war was fought at marathon, this is the invasion of 490 BC, and this was the deciding war that lead to the invasion of 480-479 BC. It is the disposed leader Hippias who joined Darius's army in this invasion. It is clear that they set out to invade with vengeance in their hearts, their sheer numbers and massive forces gave them a clear victory over Athens. They attacked Eriteria and won and on they moved to Athens. The humiliation of the Persians and Darius in the invasion of 490BC was the deciding factor in the invasion of 480-479 BC.

Importantly what really fuelled Darius anger and drive to invade Greece in the invasion of 480-479BC was the defeat they encountered at marathon in 490BC. The Persians had a massive army and materials during this invasion, and their success was assured. Darius felt humiliated because despite their assured victory, they still lost to the Greeks. Of interest is the fact that Greeks had sort the help of the Spartans, unfortunately they could not engage in war as they were celebrating a religious feast. The Athenians went to war with the Persians manned two to one. They were simple infantry men who were against a well equipped Persian army.

Looking at the history of the invasion of Greece by Persian, it is easy to understand why the Persians were defeated at every invasion. Their confidence in their numbers and might blinded them to the fact that with out strategy they would easily loose a war to a smaller and less equipped army. The loss at marathon was a humiliation to the Persians. It was the poor decision to break up, with the larger army attacking from the sea, and a smaller force at marathon that lead to their defeat. While they set out to attack from the sea, the Greeks seized the opportunity and attacked the remaining forces. They fought and won this group, then they drove them away towards the sea, as the second Persian unit arrived by sea, they found the retreating forces with the Greeks this time ready and waiting at the banks of the sea.

Evidently strategy in war was a key factor in the victory over the Persians. It is important to remember that the period covered by these wars was the age in which these two great empires were expanding. The Persian Empire and the Greek empire were constantly in competition for cities to concur.

After the loss of 490 BC it took another 10 years before the Persians could attack in 480-479 BC, with the death of Darius it took time for his son to gather forces and attack Athens. It is this time the Greeks got ready for battle, they had time to prepare, as they were well aware of the fact that the two empires were constantly colliding over territory. During this period the Greeks put up a naval defense force at Aegean.

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The Persian invasion of 480 BC under Xerxes began, with a huge army of hundreds of thousands. Xerxes was carrying out his father's plan of taking over Greece. The conquest of Greece was seen as very important in the establishment of the empire. A boost to their morale, as it was before was their massive army. Xerxes was defeated because in as much as he had a great army, he was not prepared in the strategies of war. Xerxes was blinded by the desire to fulfill his fathers dying wishes that he forgot to prepare his army fro the battle ahead.

Xerxes ambition in concurring Athens and making the Greek empire part of the Persian Empire blinded him to the fact that the Greeks may have been preparing themselves for another attack. Xerxes failed to prepare his army for this invasion since, it was a well known fact that the Persian army was used to battle on the plains of Asia. They were not physically prepared to battle in the Greek environment. This is a decisive factor in battle as the condition of the soldiers is paramount in the winning of a battle.

Another major reason that Xerxes lost to the Greeks was that his army, in as much as it was massive in sheer numbers they lacked equipment as compared to the Greeks. The 10 year break during which the Persians did not attack, all the time the Greeks needed to train, arm and equip themselves fro war. The failure of Xerxes to realize that fact was an error on his part. It was common knowledge that the two empires were in constant conflict over their boundaries, with each trying to defend its concurred cities. Therefore Xerxes should have been amply prepared to have a complete take over of Athens. He should have strategised more in considering the fact that Athens was not a small city, it was the seat of the Greek empire, an empire that had a large territory and had concurred the east.

The Persian army apart from having adapted to the Asian plains, they were defeated because; they were not able to properly scout. A reason fro this is the fact that on their way into Greece they decided to make a stand at Thermopylae, this was a mountain pass. This was a poor decision because they were used to waging war on vast battle fields not narrow path ways. They war strategy and training was on the open ground. The other fact was that they had deployed a huge army; this army was using the mountain pass into Greece. This was a huge error because it restricted their movement in the ground. The Persian army had invested heavily in numbers and not equipment. The moment they got into this pass, and the fact that they were ill equipped gave the Greeks an advantage.

The ten year period between the invasion of 490 BC and 480 BC, apart from giving the Greeks time to prepare, it also assisted them in building a good relation with the Spartans. This is evident due to the fact that the moment the Persians attacked the Spartans were there alongside the Greeks fighting them. The naval force that the Greeks had built at Aegean helped defend Athens from the sea. The Spartans just like the Greeks were familiar with the Greek territory and landscape. It is for this reason that they were able to beat a large Persian army at the mountain pass at Thermopylae.

Xerxes on the other hand should not have waited for too long to wage war on Athens. He should have immediately followed up on his father plans of attack soon after the first defeat. It is the pride of the Persian that made him loose the invasions. They gave the Athenians time to adequately prepare themselves and fortify their cities. I believe if they had followed up a repeat attack immediately after the loss at marathon they would have defeated Athens.

The Persians pride in his army also resulted in his defeat, this pride blinded him to the fact that though they seemed superior in size to the Greeks. The Greeks on the other hand was also a formidable force. The Greeks were also a people that had waged war on communities both large and small and had conquered for themselves large areas. They were an innovative people that leant from their experiences and travels. It goes without saying that the Greeks learnt the first few times, each time the Persians invaded and lost the Greeks were left preparing themselves for the next attack. They prepared they ground troops and fortified their beaches; they even built a naval base to defend their beaches.

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The Persians overlooked the fact that the Greeks were a formidable force that was not to be reckoned with. What the Greeks lacked in numbers they made do in preparation and equipment. For the many reasons that are given for the defeat of the Persians in the invasion of 480 BC, the most convincing fact is the army's preparation in war. The Persian may have had a huge army, but the Greeks had a well armored army, after the attack at marathon they went a head and prepared themselves even creating a naval force, they even sort the assistant of the Spartans. The Persians did not have a clear war strategy, it seemed they were driven by the blind rage that emperor Darius had created and natured. They did not seem to have a clear strategy apart from attack and conquer and acquire Greece for their empire. The Greeks took advantage of this to their success; they knew when to break franks and when to attack. The Persians would have won the battle of 480 BC had they not used the mountain pass in their sheer numbers blocking them in, concentrating them in a small area, that left them venerable. If they had used a scout they would have marked out the territory to their advantage.