The Persian Wars
A long time ago Croesus the king of Lydia took over the Greek colonies on the east
coast of Asia Minor (Turkey). Croesus was a kind and fair ruler so the Greeks did not really
mind. But around 546 BC King Croesus and his empire was overthrown by Cyrus the Great
who was Persian.
About fifty years later Asia Minor revolted against Persia. The rebellion was assisted by
Athens. The rebellion was successful. After the rebellion had stopped Darius I took complete
control over Asia Minor. Darius sent tyrants to rule over all Greek city states except Athens and
Sparta refused to accept the tyrants. After Darius took rule the Ionian city states rebelled another
time. Darius took this as a personal insult and sent troops in to destroy Athens. Athens beat the
Persians whose army was almost three times the size of the Athenian army at the famous Battle
of Marathon. The battle was fought on the Plains of Marathon outside of Athens.
Darius' successor Xerxes I brought together the largest army of ancient history. In 480
BC Xerxes led his troops to the narrow passes of Thermopylae. In this battle several thousand
soldiers led by the Spartan leader Leonidas I fought against the Spartans. A Greek traitor told
the Persians a way to get around the Greek forces and enter the pass through their flank. The
Persians did so and annihilated the Greek forces from the rear. There was nothing left between
the Persians and Athens so the Persians plundered and destroyed the abandoned city.
The next battle that took place was when the Persian fleet tried to pursue the Greek fleet
at the Battle of Salamis. The Persians did not stand a chance in that battle and lost. All the
Persian forces left in Greece were defeated a year later at the Battle of Plataea and Greece won
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