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Greco-Persian Wars

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The Greco-Persian Wars
Greek-Persian duel.jpg
Greek hoplite and Persian warrior depicted fighting, on an ancient kylix, 5th century BC
Date 502–449 BCi[›]
Location Mainland Greece, Thrace, Aegean Islands, Asia Minor, Cyprus and Egypt
Result Greek victory[1]
Macedon, Thrace and Ionia gain independence from Persia
Greek city states including Athens and Sparta Achaemenid Empire of Persia
Macedon (initial phase)
Commanders and leaders
Leonidas I
Artaphernes (son of Artaphernes)
Xerxes I

The Greco-Persian wars were a series of wars fought between Ancient Greece and Persia's Achaemenid Empire in the 5th century BC. The struggle lasted 50 years, from 499–449. Fifty years before the war started, Cyrus the Great had conquered the Greek colonies on the western coast of Asia Minor, an area the Greeks called Ionia. The Persians put a tyrant in charge of each city or polis.

The Ionian cities revolted under a former tyrant, Aristagoras. He got support from Athens and Eretria, and together they burnt the Persian regional capital city, Sardis. The Persian king, now Darius the Great, vowed revenge.

List of main events

  1. Ionian revolt 499–493 BC
  2. First invasion of Greece 492–490
    1. Battle of Marathon 490
  3. Second invasion of Greece 480–479
    1. Battle of Thermopylae 480
    2. Battle of Salamis 480
  4. Greek counter-attack 479–478
  5. Wars of the Delian League 477–449

Much of what is known of these wars comes from Herodotus.

Later wars

Although 449 BC saw the end of the wars started by the Ionian revolt, the two civilisations continued for more than a hundred years. The wars between Athens and Sparta allowed Persia to take back all she had lost in the Greco-Persian wars, until finally Alexander the Great put an end to the Achaemenid Empire. This is a brief summary of these later conflicts:

  1. First Peloponnesian War (Sparta vs Athens): 460–445 BC
  2. Second Peloponnesian War: 431–404
    1. Persians join Sparta in return for Ionia.
  3. Persian king Artaxerxes II demands return of Ionian cities.
    1. Humiliating peace treaty follows.
  4. Alexander the Great enters Asia and defeats the Persian king Darius III, ending his empire. 330 BC


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