History of Iran

The Persian Wars
By: Professor Livio C. Stecchini

1- Herodotos and His Critics

2- The Skythian Campaign

3- The Strategy of Dareios

4- The Battle of Marathon
5- The Size of the Persian Army

6- The Size of the Persian Fleet

7- The Battle of Salamis

8- The Battle of Plataia

4- THE BATTLE OF MARATHON

The Skythian campaign opened a series of events that caused Persia to become embroiled in a conflict with Athens.

After 520 B.C. the tyrant of Athens, Hippias, helped Miltiades, a member of a rival aristocratic clan, to establish himself as tyrant of the Thrakian Chersonnesos, the peninsula that forms the western shore of the Dardanelles. A number of Athenian settlers were planted in the general area that includes the island of Lemnos which blocks the entrance to the Dardanelles. The advance of King Dareios into Thrakia in 515 B.C., as the first move in his advance into Skythia, caused a number of the settlers to return to Athens. It could be that the political instability that followed the return to Athens of the dispossessed settlers who had left their city because they were not friendly to the tyrant, set the stage for the plot against the tyranny that succeeded only in killing Hippias' brother (514 B.C.).

The failure of the Skythian campaign caused the Greek cities of the Bosphoros to revolt against Persia. These cities were bound for economic reasons to be dependent on the goodwill of whoever dominated the area of Skythia, with the result that once the Persian king had lost they had to throw their lot with the Skythians. These cities may have been afraid of the Skythian revenge raids into Thrakia that took place in the wake of the Persian withdrawal. In 513 B.C. the Persian army did not return to Asia by crossing the Bosphoros, as it had been done in the advance, but was forced to move south and cross at the Dardanelles where it could count on the support of Miltiades. The following year the Skythians took their vengeance on Miltiades by forcing him to abandon his possession of the Chersonessos and return to Athens. The Skythians made overtures to Sparta for an alliance, and it could be that this contributed to the Spartan decision to intervene militarily in Athens in 510 B.C. in order to overthrow the tyranny. The expelled tyrant Hippias withdrew to Sigeion in the Troad, on the shore facing the former possession of Miltiades, which indicates that Hippias was an ally of Persia.

Up to the moment of his retreat from Skythia, King Dareios had been satisfied with a rather loose control of Thrakia and of the Greek cities of the Aegean Sea, because if he had succeeded in conquering Skythia, Thrakia would have been safely in his grip and the Greeks of the Aegean Sea, whose economic life depended in great part on the trade with the Black Sea, would have been at his mercy. The failure of the campaign compelled King Dareios to readjust his plans. The revolt of the Greek cities of the Bosphoros was put down, but it had given a taste to the Greeks of the possibility of revolting against Persian domination. When the King withdrew to Asia, he left in Europe the satrap Megabazos with a force of 80,000 men. Megabazos performed well his task of firmly establishing Persian power in Thrakia. He was so effective that he could force the King of Makedonia to become at least nominally a vassal of Persia.

The Paionians who lived in the area of the river Strymon, which today marks the Graeco-Turkish frontier, tried to resist but were defeated by the encircling tactics dear to the Persians. They aligned themselves along the coast in order to block a Persian advance from the direction of the Dardanelles, but the Persians moved inland through the mountains and fell upon the Paionian cities that had been left undefended. A number of Paionian tribes were deported wholesale to Asia Minor. The tyrant of Miletos, Histiaios, who had saved the bridge across the Danube for the retreating Persians, received as a gift some of the territory vacated by the Paionians; but, when he built a fortified town on the Strymon in a position that not only dominated the crossing of the river, but also an area rich in silver mines and timber for shipbuilding, the Persians concluded that this was too much power in the hands of a subject who was already master of Miletos, the richest city of Ionia. The King announced to Histiaios that he was going to make him one of his counselors and invited him to pay a visit to the capital of Susa, where he was kept as an honored guest. The actual exercise of the tyranny in Miletos was entrusted to Histiaios' nephew and son-in-law, Aristagoras.

As acting tyrant of Miletos, Aristagoras intended to serve his masters well, but was not very successful. When civil war broke out in the island of Naxos, the richest island of the Aegean Sea, and the expelled oligarchs took refuge in Miletos, Aristagoras thought that this provided a good opportunity for seizing the island. He made present to the Persians that the possession of Naxos would make possible not only to extend Persian rule to all the Kyklades islands of the central Aegean, but also provide a basis for the conquest of the island of Euboia that lies against the mainland of Greece and is separated by a narrow body of the sea from Attika (V 31). Aristagoras asked help in conquering Naxos from the Persians who sent a force of 200 triremes with a body of embarked infantry, but possibly the Persian contingent was larger than he had bargained for. A quarrel broke out between the Persian commander and Aristagoras on the question of who should be the effective commander of the expedition against Naxos, with the result that the enterprise failed (499 B.C.).

Aristagoras became convinced that as a result of this affair his days as ruler of Miletos might be counted and decided that his only chance of salvation was to stir up a general revolt of the Greek cities against Persian rule. The climate for a revolt was favorable because the Persian method of dealing with the subject Greek cities was to let them be ruled by a tyrant. At that turn of time the institution of tyranny had become unpopular among the Greks; the change had been marked by the expulsion of the tyrant Hippias from Athens (510 B.C.) followed by the establishment of a democratic constitution. Aristagoras rebelled against Persia and tried to enlist the support of the cities of Greece proper in the name of a crusade for the liberation of all the Greeks subjected to Persia. Only later, at the end of the general revolt of their Greek subjects, the Persians understood what was the political basis of this nationalistic slogan and permitted the Greek cities under their rule to have democratic constitutions.

Aristagoras visited Sparta where with the help of his map of the world he tried to explain that there was a possibility for a successful Greek attack against the very heart of the Persian Empire. But the Spartans were not impressed with this project that to them must have appeared megalomaniacal. He was better received in Athens where he was granted a small but effective force of ships and infantry. Athens had made a formal act of submission to Persia in 508 B.C. at the moment in which a democratic constitution had been established in spite of Spartan pressures; but the Athenian policy of friendship with the Persians was wrecked by their insistence that the Athenians permit the return to his city of the former tyrant Hippias (V 96). The Athenians granted Aristagoras the help of 20 triremes which probably carried a hoplite force of about 200 men (this represented about one fourth of the Athenian sea and land strength); the city of Eretria, which as an immediate neighbor of Athens had no particular love for the Athenian cause, contributed 5 triremes with infantry because earlier Miletos had given her assistance in a fight with a neighboring city of the island of Euboia. With these allies in 498 B.C. Aristagoras was able to stage a surprise raid from the coast of Asia Minor inland to the city of Sardis, the former capital of the kingdom of Lydia, which was then the capital of the most important Persian satrapy in Asia Minor. The Persian satrap with his troops was resisting in the citadel of Sardis, when the city by plan or by accident went up in flames. Thereupon Aristagoras withdrew, leaving behind the smoldering city, but the event stimulated a universal revolt of the Greek subjects of Persia all the way from the Bosphoros to the island of Cyprus.

The Athenians did not support this revolt since from their point of view the attack on Sardis had ended in disaster, the Persian cavalry having inflicted heavy losses on the Athenian raiders just when they had returned to the coast at Ephesos. The political faction led by the Pisistratids, the clan of the former tyrants, was able to convince the Athenians to adopt a policy of neutrality in the conflict between Persia and her Greek subjects. It could be that it was because of this political shift that in 496 B.C. Miltiades left Athens again to reassert his personal rule in the Chersonnesos. Meanwhile the Persians were able to stage a counterattack and to reduce again to subjection the revolted cities. The combined fleet of the Ionians which gathered up to 353 triremes proved no match for the Persian fleet of 600 triremes (VI 9). The successful Persian counter-offensive culminated in 494 B.C. with the siege of Miletos, which was blockaded by 600 Persian triremes, according to Herodotos (VI 9). The Greeks were able to align 353 triremes, but when battle to break the siege of Miletos was engaged, some of the Greek contingents lost heart and deserted, with the result that the Persians stormed the city and destroyed it; its inhabitants were sold as slaves. In their counterattack the Persians relied on the help of the Phoenicians, the mortal enemies of the Greeks, whom earlier they had carefully excluded from the operations in the Aegean and Black Sea area. In 493 B.C. the Phoenicians went after Miltiades since they could not tolerate the domination by a Greek of the most strategic point on the line of access to the Black Sea. It must have been with great glee that the Phoenicians in the name of the Persian King burned the Greek cities of Byzantion and Kalchedon that dominated the passage of the Bosphoros (VI 33). Miltiades barely escaped with his life from the hands of the Phoenicians and returned to Athens. Miltiades' eldest son was captured by the Phoenicians who brought him to the Persians, but they treated this prisoner with great honor and gave him a Persian wife (VI 41). Upon Miltiades' return to Athens his political enemies tried to get rid of his embarrassing presence by bringing him to trial as a supporter of the institution of tyranny. Several scholars agree that it was on this occasion that Miltiades concocted the distorted version reported by Herodotos of what had happened at the bridge over the Danube about twenty years earlier; his version of the events had the purpose of proving that he had been an opponent of tyranny and enemy of Persia as far back as that. The ferocious revenge taken by the Persians on the city of Miletos had caused emotional shock in Athens and embarrassed the pro-Persian party. As a result there prevailed in Athens the policy of alliance with Sparta which, however, was not popular, since it meant subservience of Athens to Sparta, given that the latter had a much larger land army. Themistokles proposed the policy of building Athens as a great naval power, by which she would be independent both of Persia and Sparta, but this policy was adopted only after the battle of Marathon.

The year 493 B.C. was used by the Persians to consolidate their position in the Greek cities of Ionia and to introduce their new policy that favored democracy over tyranny. Although the Persians had succeeded in reducing their former subjects, it became clear to them that they could not feel safe as long as some of the Greek cities were still independent. In 492 B.C. the Persians initiated a campaign to conquer Europe. A large army after having crossed the Dardanelles imposed Persian will on the territories north of the Greek mainland, Thrakia and Makedonia, including the Greek island of Thasos off the coast of Thrakia. They would have continued by advancing into northern Greece, but the project had to be abandoned when the Persian fleet that was moving along the Thrakian coast in order to support the land forces was partly wrecked when caught in a storm while turning the promontory of Mount Athos. Herodotos relates that it was said that the Persians lost 300 triremes and over 20,000 men (VI 44). After this mishap the Persians decided to experiment with completely different tactics: Instead of using the navy to support a large land army, the navy would be used as the main instrument of attack. The year 491 B.C. was spent in putting together and training a not-too-great (by Persian standards) but choice force of infantry and cavalry to be carried by the fleet and to be used in amphibious operations. The infantry was carried by the triremes which were in the usual number of 600 (VI 95), but the cavalry was carried on other triremes that had been specially adapted. Possibly the Persians anticipated what was done later by the Athenians who used their old triremes to transport the cavalry (Thuk. II 56).

The purpose of this naval force was to strike terror among the Greeks and in particular to convince the Athenians to break their alliance with Sparta and to adopt a pro-Persian policy. The prestige of the Persian empire required that those independent Greek cities, Athens and Eretria, that had participated in the raid against Sardis be meted exemplary punishment; furthermore, the Persians may have assumed that once these more pertinacious opponents had been disposed of, the remaining cities of Greece proper could be persuaded to accept Persian suzerainty. The Persians aimed at achieving their objectives with the most economical means. An opportunity for successful maneuvering seemed to have offered itself when the tyrant Hippias who had been expelled from Athens fled to the Persian court at Susa, where he asked for assistance claiming to have supporters among the opponents of the newly established democratic constitution of Athens. The Persians were hoping to succeed with the help of the Pisistratid party within Athens, and for this reason the Persian fleet carried along the exile Hippias who also was used as political and military advisor. Hippias was unquestionably popular within Athens, so much so that earlier the Spartans had tried to win Hippias to their side and had invited him to Sparta, proposing to restore him as a tyrant in Athens. (V 91, 93).

The Persian fleet assembled at Samos in the spring of 490 B.C. and as a first step moved to attack the island of Naxos. The inhabitants of this island fled to the mountains, abandoning the city of Naxos to the Persians, who put it on fire. The Persians continued subduing other islands so as to close a circle around Athens; the key island of Aigina in the Saronic Gulf in front of Athens had already been an ally of Persia for a few years. Finally the Persians landed at Karystos at the southern tip of the island of Euboia, and after a brief siege forced the people of Karystos to join the Persian side. Having acquired this foothold in Euboia, the Persian fleet, after setting up three bases on the coast of the territory of Eretria, disembarked the cavalry and infantry. The plan to move against the Greek mainland by seizing the island of Naxos and then the island of Euboia had been already considered by the Persians in the unfortunate expedition of 499 B.C. on the suggestion of Aristagoras. The people of Eretria withdrew within the city walls, but they lacked the full determination to resist; after six days of Persian siege, on the seventh day two of the leading citizens opened the gate to the enemy. The male citizens of Eretria were made prisoners and taken to the small island of Aigileia (the present Stira) which was one of the bases of the Persian fleet on the coast of Eretria and faces the bay of Marathon in Attika.

As is stated by Platous (Menexenos| 240 C; Laws 698 D), all the Greek cities were paralyzed with fear before the Persian forces. There was no naval force in Greece that could challenge the Persians at sea (at the time the Athenian navy had not more than 80 triremes) with the result that the Persians could freely move to land their cavalry and infantry where they chose. No other Greeks came to the help of Eretria except for 4000 Athenian settlers on the island of Euboia who were instructed by their mother country to help the Eretrians, and these too saved themselves before the battle was over. The technical superiority of the Persian amphibious force was such that it could strike anywhere with impunity. No Greek city would help another because nobody could tell for sure where the blow would fall next.

The cavalry added to the navy completed the principle of absolute mobility on which the strategy of this operation was founded. There are critical historians who consider that this was not true. For instance, De Sanctis and Guilio Giannelli claimed that Herodotos' mention of a Persian cavalry force carried on triremes fitted for the transport of horses (VI 94, 95, 101, 102) is preposterous, because it would have been impossible to transport horses on a long sea voyage. Giannelli, who has written a special essay on the battle of Marathon, added that the Persian triremes were 100 and not 600, so that they would not have been an overpowering threat to the Athenian navy or other Greek navies. That horses could be transported on triremes is evidenced by Thukydides (II 56, VI, 43) and later Athenian documents. Thirty horses could be loaded on a trireme by reducing the oarsmen to 60, that is, one third of the regular number. Whoever invented the trireme reckoned sexagesimally, since in principle there were three rows of 30 oarsmen each on each side, with a total of 180. The lesser fighting ship used earlier by the Greeks, the penteconter, had been conceived by decimal reckoning, since it had two rows of 25 oarsmen each on each side with a total of 100. Probably the 30 horses were placed crosswise in the triremes, one for each bench of oarsmen. It has been argued that when horses were loaded on triremes all the regular seats were removed and the 60 oarsmen sat on the stormdeck that covered the seats of the regular three rows of oarsmen. The assertion of some critical historians that horses could not have been carried by the Persians in their island-hopping operation is gratuitous when we know that in 415 B.C. the Athenians sent all the way to Syracuse in Sicily a force of 100 triremes which was fitted out for naval combat and carried 4000 hoplites and 300 horses (Thuk. VI 31, 43).

According to the account of Herodotos (VI 110), the Persians waited a few days after the fall of Eretria and then moved against Athens, confident that the Athenians would behave like the Eretrians. The Persians landed at Marathon which is a few miles across the sea from Eretrian territory and was considered the area of Attica "most suitable for the landing of cavalry" (VI 102). The landing at Marathon must have been conceived as being part of the same general operation as the landing at Eretria, because Herodotos states that when the Athenians learned of the landing at Marathon, the part of Attika nearest to Eretria, "they too came to the rescue" (VI 103). This sentence refers to the fact that when the Persians landed at Eretria, the Athenians had not answered the call of the Eretrians "to come to the rescue" (VI 100), except by so instructing the Athenian settlers who were already in the island of Euboia. Marathon is at the northern limit of Attika at a distance of 42 kilometers from Athens.

The aim of the Persian tactics has been clarified by the discovery in Athens in 1933 A.D. of a stone that contains a most important inscription. There are reasons to believe that this stone was part of the monument that listed the names of the 192 Athenians who died in the battle of Marathon; the monument had been erected on the Athenian Akropolis and was destroyed by the Persians during their occupation of Athens in 480 B.C. The inscription contains the text of an epigram of four lines honoring the heroes of Marathon. Several lines are missing, but the essential meaning of the epigram is clear; it can be paraphrased as follows: these men must have had a heart of steel to fight outside the city gates and align themselves in combat formation against an enemy that planned to burn the coastal regions; thereby they saved the city, for they compelled the Persian force to withdraw. The text of the epigram agrees with the expressions used by ancient historians, but adds the new information that the Persians planned to burn the coastal region. But, in truth, this piece of information agrees with the statement of Herodotos that the Persians, "having subdued Eretria, waited a few days and then sailed to Attika, ravaging the land a great deal and believing that they would do to the Athenians what they had done to the Eretrians" (VI 102). This is the reading indicated by the manuscripts of Herodotos, but some editors have changed it because they did not understand the Persian tactics. They have altered the verb kategazw, which in the language of Herodotos means "to ravage" a country.

The Persians hoped that the Athenians would behave like the Eretrians, that is, withdraw within the city walls. If this had taken place the Persians would have been free to ravage the countryside all along the shore, destruction that would have been particularly painful to the Athenians because it was the month of September, the month in whih grapes, olives, and fruits are gathered. The Persians planned to follow the method used later by the Spartans in the Peloponnesian War when they systematically ravaged the Attic countryside while the Athenians kept within the walls; but the Persians could have been much more effective than the Spartans because they also controlled the sea and could block all supplies. The Persians hoped that by these tactics they could force the Athenians to change their foreign policy. The return of Hippias to Athens would have been the guarantee that this city would definitely stay on the Persian side. As Fritz Schachermeyr has pointed out, the Persians did not want to destroy Athens, but on the contrary were eager to have the Athenians as allies and to use them as their chief instrument of penetration in Greece and, I would say, the Mediterranean. The Persians did not give up the hope of an alliance with Athens even after the battle of Marathon and conducted negotiations with Themistokles to this end.

The Persians had established their base at Marathon because they assumed that the Athenians would never dare to attack them that far from Athens (some 28 miles) since to move the army there would have meant to leave the city unprotected. But Miltiades convinced the Athenians to take this risk and to march to Marathon. Sources different from Herodotos report that a decree was put before the popular assembly sanctioning the policy that "it is necessary to go out," and not to stay within the walls. The decree of Miltiades agrees with the text of the mentioned epigram, the wording of which is paraphrased in a statement of Cornelius Nepos (Miltiades V) that Athenienses copias ex urbe eduxerunt locoque idoneo castra fecerunt. The Athenians set up camp at the very margin of the plain of Marathon in an area that was higher and rocky so that the Persians could not use their cavalry against them. Practically all scholars agree that the Athenians aligned themselves across the valley of Vrana, the very bottom of which is about 2000 meters from the shore of Marathon. The Persians were aligned along the shore in front of their ships that were either beached or moored on the sandy beach of the bay of Marathon. The result of the extremely daring maneuver of Miltiades was that the Persians could not move from their position; they had landed in Attika but they had found themselves pinned against the shore. Their strength was the cavalry but they could not use it against the enemy positions, and if they tried to move either north or south along the shore they would be exposed to a flank attack. If they tried to embark their forces they could be exposed to an attack while they were in disarray. The infantry could be embarked quickly, but the embarking of the horses must have been a lengthy operation.

Miltiades followed the strategy recommended by the best German generals when the Allies were planning their landing in France: one should try to stop the Allies within the first two kilometers from the shore or not try at all. According to those generals the alternative was to withdraw all the way to the Siegfried line. Between these two alternatives that were similar to those considered by the Athenians, the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht and Hitler chose a middle course, which proved unfortunate.

The surprise move of Miltiades had achieved a victory without a fight. The choice of Marathon as a landing place had proved an error for the Persians; Miltiades took advantage of this error by leading his troops to the valley which is today called Vrana where he could align his army in a position protected on one side by Mount Agrieliki and on the other side by Mount Kotroni, both steep and rocky hillocks. The problems is that of explaining why the Persians, usually so well informed in matters of geography, chose such an unfortunate location. Herodotos states that this was the area of Attika "most suitable for the landing of the cavalry" (VI 102). Most interpreters understand differently the verb enippeusai and translate "most suitable for the deployment of cavalry" and then continue by observing that Herodotos was mistaken because the place was most unsuitable, whereas there were other suitable places. It is the usual technique of interpreting the text of Herodotos so as to let him appear as absurd as possible. As it is observed, the plain of Marathon was limited to the north by a large lagoon and to the south by a smaller one and was further cut by torrents, so that the Persian army was restricted to a relatively small area. This proves that the Persians chose a location where they could easily defend themselves if they were attacked while landing the cavalry. Furthermore, the long sandy beach of Marathon would permit to pull the triremes on shore; this must have been necessary in order to discharge the horses from the triremes, which must have been a long and complex operation. The time needed to disembark and embark the horses may have been the greatest single cause of failure in the campaign of Marathon. It is significant that in the following campaign of 480 B.C. the Persians loaded their horses on "small merchant ships" (VII 97) instead of triremes.

Herodotos explains that the Persians landed at Marathon on the direction of Hippias (VI 107). Immediately following this statement Herodotos relates that Hippias had a dream followed by a coughing which he interpreted as indicating that the operation would fail; any modern psychoanalyst would also interpret this coughing as the expression of a subconscious desire for defeat. The coughing which caused Hippias to lose a tooth on the sand of the beach followed a dream of intercourse with his own mother. The Oedipal dream can be understood as significant because Marathon had been chosen by Hippias' father, Peisistratos, for a landing which opened the way for a victorious march on Athens and the establishment of tyranny (I 62). It would seem that Herodotos intends to give a psychoanalytic explanation of why Hippias, who obviously knew the terrain to perfection, made a bad choice in advising the Persians. Hippias wanted to do as well as his father, but his wish took the character of an Oedipal wish to outdo the father and possess the mother, with subsequent guilt and self-defeat.

The Persian strategy and that of Miltiades resulted in a stalemate because the Persians could not move beyond Marathon as they had planned, being unable to use the cavalry on rocky ground, while the Greeks, because of the Persian cavalry, could not attack the Persians that were encamped on the shore of the plain. The Athenians had sent a messenger to Sparta asking for help and were waiting for the arrival of the Spartan forces. The Persians were apparently waiting for dissensions to break out among the Athenians, since they had banked on Hippias' promise that some of his former subjects would rally to his side.

The stalemate had lasted through the tenth day after the Persian landing at Marathon, when on the morning of the eleventh day the Athenians went to the attack. Herodotos (VI 112) asserts that the Greeks resorted to a method of warfare never used before: instead of marching towards the enemy, they engaged in a race (dromos) for the entire distance that separated the two armies, not less than 8 stadia (probably artabic stadia of 8 to a Roman mile, or 1500 meters). The Greek line was strong on the wings and weak at the center. This distribution of the forces was to be expected since the wings had to withstand the strong Persian cavalry force; in ancient warfare the function of the cavalry was to protect the wings and to harass the enemy wings. In the absence of the cavalry, the Persian wings were unusually weak. The Persian center broke though the enemy lines, but the Greek wings closed behind the Persians. The Persians had no other recourse except to try to run back to their ships. According to the report, the Athenians killed approximately 6400 Persians at a loss of 192 of their own men, but they did not succeed in getting hold of the Persian ships before they could take off from the beach; only seven ships were captured (VI 115).

All scholars agree that Herodotos' account contains "not a few patent contradictions." Bury regrets that at the time of Marathon there was not "a contemporary historian lice Thukydides to ask searching questions and record the truth." (44)

Macan declares that the story of the Athenian advance against the Persians is "probably genuine," as long as we assume that it was a march at double speed and not a race, but "the rest is distortion, exaggeration, inconsequence, glorification." (45)

Most scholars are only somewhat less critical than Macan. A group that is more radical than Macan claims that actually it was the Persians who went to the attack; their argument is that, since Herodotos does not mention the participation of the Persian cavalry in the battle, it can be inferred that the Persians had decided to attack the Athenians on the hills.

Several other explanations for the failure of the Persian cavalry to participate in the battle have been offered. Grote suggested that the Athenians caught the Persian horsemen by surprise so that they did not have time to get on their mounts. Among the recent writers, H. G. L. Hammond claims that the cavalry was pasturing further north and did not arrive in time for the beginning of the battle. By the time it arrived, it could not be deployed because the armies were fighting at close quarters. (46)

Some scholars claim that the Persian cavalry had not yet arrived from Eretria, even though Herodotos states that the Persians had landed at Marathon a few days after the capture of Eretria and that the battle took place on the eleventh day after the landing. In order to explain why the cavalry was still at Eretria, Munro adds the further suggestion that the Persians had landed at the same time at Karystos, Eretria, and Marathon with the result that their forces were scattered in three separate actions. (47)

I have already mentioned the opinion that Herodotos is completely wrong when he states that the expeditionary forces sent to Greece included horsemen. At the opposite extreme there are the critics, such as Johannes Kromayer (48) and Hans Delbrueck, (49) who claim that Herodotos is in error when he assumes that the Persian cavalry did not participate in the battle. (50)

Among the minority of scholars who do not assume that the Persians were wanton in their military actions and that Herodotos is fanciful in his report, there prevails the opinion that the cavalry was absent from the battle because it had been embarked, since the Persians were planning to withdraw from Marathon and to land at the Phaleron, the outer harbor of Athens. (51)

The withdrawal of the Persian cavalry is mentioned in the dictionary of Suidas where he explains the meaning of the idiom xwris ippeis "without cavalry, the cavalry is off": "As Datis who had landed in Attica was retiring, the Ionians by climbing on trees signalled to the Athenians the cavalry is off." "As Miltiades learned in this way of their withdrawal, he engaged battle and won. Hence, this expression is used proverbially to refer to those who are breaking their military formation." According to this text the Ionians who were serving in the Persian fleet betrayed their Persian commander by informing their fellow Greeks; the withdrawal must have taken place at night because otherwise the Athenians encamped above Marathon would have seen by themselves what was taking place.

We may disregard the opinion of those, such as Schachermeyr, who question the account of Herodotos by claiming that the Persians never planned to land at the Phaleron after the withdrawal from Marathon (fantaisies had said Hauvette of this [52]).

An opposite position is taken by Anton E. Raubitschek who claims not only that the Persians planned to land at the Phaleron, but actually landed and were defeated there in a battle with the Athenians; (53) neither Herodotos nor any other Greek source hints at the occurrence of this repetition of the battle of Marathon.

Among the other more recent writers on the subject, A. W. Gomme was willing to accept Herodotos' account as having some value. Gomme gave an explanation of what happened at Marathon that to my mind is convincing and in agreement with the texts; but, since to assume that Herodotos said something sensible is a serious offense for modern scholarship, before presenting his views Gomme engaged in elaborate expiatory rites. He began his article thus:
Everyone knows that Herodotos' narrative of Marathon will not do. Many improvements have been suggested: some good, some bad. . . . My theme is rather this: if we reject Herodotos, are we justified at all in correcting, or adding to, his narrative, or ought we just to sit back, and say nothing, because correction is arbitrary? (54)
Gomme then proceeded to state that the Persians, knowing that the Spartan forces sent to succor Athens were two days away, had embarked the cavalry during the night and at daybreak they were in the process of embarking the infantry. The Greeks who already knew that the Persians had embarked their cavalry and, hence, were ready, saw that this was the best moment to strike. Even though Gomme concluded that "this theory explains best the obvious mistakes in Herodotus' narrative," (55) it is in reality a mere expansion of Herodotos' words.

The Persians were trapped on the shore of Marathon so that their first problem was how to pull out from there without being attacked while embarking, and their second problem was to see whether they could land in some more suitable location. The first problem could be solved by embarking at night, since the Greek hoplites did not fight at night. The cavalry was embarked during the night, but in the morning the infantry had not yet been embarked. One can assume, as did Gomme, that the Persians were inefficient and ill-organized and therefore failed to complete the embarkation on time, but all evidence indicates that the Persian military staff planned their operations with extreme care.

The Persians must have decided that it was necessary to keep the Athenian forces at Marathon as long as possible. Probably the Persians decided to provoke the Athenians to action by causing them to see that they were in the process of embarking their forces in order to attempt a dash by sea to Athens. At dawn the Athenians would have seen the Persian infantry aligned in front of the ships without cavalry. The Persians may have decided that that was a risk they had to take in order to pin down at Marathon the Athenian hoplites while the slow-moving cavalry transports sailed toward Athens. Perhaps the Persian plan was not to engage in a full-size battle with the Athenians but to engage them enough so as to make it impossible for them to be ready for battle the following day in Athens. The Persian infantry could withdraw to their ships and have a period of rest while they were transported by sea to Athens. However, it is impossible to guess exactly what was in the minds of the Persians: Herodotos is silent, since he had no sources as to the true Persian intentions.

It is, however, possible to outline the constraints within which the Persian plans had to be implemented. The triremes that transported the cavalry had only about 60 oarsmen each and moved more slowly than the triremes with the infantry which were manned by the full force of about 180 oarsmen. A regular trireme could be pushed by oars, without the help of sails, at a speed of about 6 knots for a full day; but the speed of the triremes with horses cannot have been better than the 3 or 4 knots which was the average speed of ancient merchant ships. Since there are 60 marine miles from Marathon to the Phaleron, the cavalry, having embarked after sunset at Marathon, could not disembark at the Phaleron before the early afternoon. Since it would take between 7 and 8 hours for the Athenian hoplites to move from Marathon to the Phaleron, the Persians may have calculated that they would have to keep the Athenians at Marathon until the cavalry triremes were well underway and until the wind conditions would be such as to enable the infantry triremes to reach the Phaleron in about 6 hours. Vilhelm Marstrand has calculated that under pressure a Greek trireme could do 8-9 knots; but Persian triremes may have done better, since the accounts of Xerxes' campaign describe the Persian triremes as faster than the Greek ones. The embarked infantry could be used to increase the speed by manning a set of supplementary oars. Besides the three sets of oars (about 60 oars to a set) to be used by the oarsmen of the first, second and third level, triremes carried an extra set; some investigators have argued that they were spares, but other investigators have argued, quite convincingly in my opinion, that the extra oars were to be used as a fourth level of oars to be manned in an emergency by the embarked fighters. For these reasons it can be supposed that the Persian triremes could achieve a speed of 9 knots for a few hours. If they had achieved this speed they could have turned Cape Sunion in 4 hours. It can be supposed that the Persians planned to turn Cape Sunion by an effort of the oarsmen lasting approximately from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., the period when the sea is most calm, and to reach the Phaleron with the help of the wind in two or three more hours. Even if the Athenians had arrived there at about the same time they would have been too exhausted by a long march to put up an effective resistance.

The Persians must have studied the ordinary pattern of the winds and currents with care. The regimen of the winds in the southwest side of Euboia and in the Saronic Gulf is quite different from that of the rest of Greece, because the mountainous rib of Euboia deflects the Etesian winds, blowing from the northern quadrant. As a result of this deflection these winds are particularly strong to the east side of Euboia but unimportant to the west of it. To the southwest of Euboia and in the Saronic Gulf the winds that count are the landbreeze and the seabreeze. The landbreeze usually begins to blow during the night and stops around dawn. The seabreeze (called imbat by modern Greeks) begins to blow after mid-morning and lasts up to sunset; in the area of the Saronic Gulf during the summer months it blows briskly from the south. The Persians apparently embarked their cavalry during the calm period after sunset and were planning to embark the infantry in the calm period after sunrmse. If the oarsmen by a strong effort could have taken their ships from Marathon to Cape Sunion in the early morning period of calm, the ships with the infantry could have been rapidly pushed by the seabreeze from Cape Sunion to the Phaleron. The same wind would have helped the cavalry triremes that were under way.

If the Persian plan had succeeded the Athenians would have lost all the advantage achieved by the surprise maneuver of Miltiades who trapped the Persians by encamping his troops in a safe place only 2 km from Persian positions on the shore. >From the Phaleron the Persians could have started a regular siege of Athens. It seems that at this time Athens was not defended by a regular line of city walls. Even if the Persian fleet could not have achieved the speed of 9 knots, the time factor was working against the Athenians because they could not leave Marathon as long as the Persian ships had not turned Cape Sunion, lest the Persian infantry return to Marathon and occupy the passes between Marathon and Athens, while the cavalry was recalled. This fact is recognized among others by Macan. It seems, in fact, that after the victory of Marathon the Athenians waited a number of hours before rushing back to Athens. According to Ploutarchos (On the Glory of Athens, VIII, 350 E) the army arrived in Athens only the day after the victory; possibly the army waited and had a rest and then marched through the night so as to be in position near Athens at sunrise.

Because of this circumstance, one may dare to offer a conjecture on the much-debated mystery of the light signal flashed with a shield. Herodotos (VI 121) relates that after the Persian infantry was already at sea a signal was flashed to Marathon from Mount Pentelikos, which is to the southwest of Marathon; popular rumor explained this signal as intelligence given to the Persians that the traitors within Athens were ready to act, but Herodotos discounts this rumor. It is conceivable that the signal was given by the Athenian lookouts in order to let their general know that the Persian triremes with the infantry were about to turn Cape Sunion and, hence, the Athenian hoplites could safely leave Marathon. Since after the signal was flashed the Athenian soldiers were told to rush back to save their city, the notion could easily have developed in their minds that the signals indicated that Athens was imperilled by traitors.

The Persian plans were intelligently and carefully conceived, as they usually were, but they were foiled by the genius of Miltiades who followed the military maxim pour les vaincre il faut de l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace. The Persians knew that after the withdrawal of the cavalry they were exposed to an Athenian attack, but they must have calculated that if this attack was launched they could embark their infantry and sail off before the Athenians reached the shore. At a normal pace it would take about 15 or 20 minutes for the Athenian hoplite formation to advance the interval of more than a mile that separated the opposing forces. Since the Persians were aligned in front of their ships they could have embarked in this period of time. Even after they were compelled to enter into a fight and lost it, they succeeded in embarking most of their men with the Athenians hard upon them. On each side of a trireme there ran a gangplank placed on top of the outriggers of the oars, a gangplank on which the marines took their stations during naval combat; 50 men on each side could have easily been standing on this gangplank.

It was by the unorthodox maneuver of letting the hoplite formation run towards the enemy that Miltiades foiled the Persians. The Persians were surprised by it and considered it insane (VI 112). Those who want to discredit the account of Herodotos must insist that it is not true that the Athenians raced about a mile for the enemy. This contention was advanced first by Hans Delbrueck (56) and has been frequently repeated up to the recent work of Hammond. Some writers, like Johannes Kromayer, claim that by dromos Herodotos does not mean a running, but a march at double speed; this contention is repeated in the recent essay of Schachermeyr. But whether we believe Herodotos or more charitably we give an unusual meaning to his words, the basis of the argument is Delbrueck's assertion that a Greek hoplite formation could not have run more than 120 to 150 meters (instead of the 1500 mentioned by Herodotos) "without completely exhausting their forces and falling into disorder." According to Delbrueck the Greek hoplites could not perform what Italian bersaglieri do on every parade. The argument of Delbrueck received so much support that Hauvette felt the need to quote the experience of French military authorities to the effect that trained soldiers in formation with full pack and arms can run for much more than a mile. But De Sanctis replied that the soldiers of our modern armies are healthier and better trained than those of the Greek armies. Those who follow Delbrueck imply that the Greeks, far from being athletes of the body and of the mind, were soft not only in their brains, but also in their muscles.

Herodotos indicates that it was the time factor that defeated the Persians; the battle of Marathon was a victory not so much because it inflicted a loss of about 6400 men on the Persians, but because "it lasted a long time" (VI 113). The Persians suffered heavy losses which included their best fighters, but were able to launch almost all their triremes with a major part of their infantry; the Athenians got hold only of 7 triremes by wading into the sea. Perhaps most of the 6400 Persians who died were deliberately sacrificed as rearguard, as the Persians did on other occasions. When the Persians could leave it was too late in the day; probably the seabreeze was blowing against them in their navigation to Cape Sunion. The result was that the Persians were not ready to land at the Phaleron before the following morning. The victors of Marathon were given a few hours' rest and then made to march back to Athens, so that at dawn of the following day they were ready for battle outside the city at the foot of Mount Lykabettos (VI 116) on the road that leads to the Phaleron. Here again the Athenians had chosen a ground where the Persian cavalry could not be used against them.

The Persians had no other choice but to call off the operations against Attika, and to return to Ionia, taking along as the only token of victory the male citizens of Eretria who later were sent to the capital of Susa and made to settle near it.

The Persians had several reasons for calling off their plan of attack against Athens: they could no longer hope to achieve an unimpeded landing in Attika; furthermore, the column of 2000 Spartans was expected and arrived in Athens on the evening after the battle of Marathon, the supporters of Hippias within Athens had not revealed themselves by any positive action, and the end of the military season was approaching, since the battle of Marathon was fought on September 12.

Herodotos' narrative, far from being chaotic and senseless, is built around a numerical frame of reference, as is his practice. The numerical frame of reference in this case is provided by the number of the days between the events. Boeckh, who through his studies has stressed the fundamental importance of numerical concepts in Greek thinking, in 1816 devoted an essay to this problem. From Herodotos we gather that the Persians landed at Marathon on the 7th day of the lunar month; on the same day the Athenians sent to Sparta a runner who arrived there in two days. On the 9th day the Spartans gave their reply to the Athenian call for aid, stating that their forces would leave only on the 16th, after the full moon. Herodotos (VI 106) relates that the Spartans could not leave because of a religious festival which proves to be that of Apollo Karneios celebrated from the 7th to the 15th day of the month.

Writing in 1951, Schachermeyr expressed his surprise that interpreters have not considered the "evident" fact that the Persians must have landed on the 7th day because they knew that from that day the Spartans could not come to the assistance of the Athenians. (57)

Schachermeyr was right in his surprise, but failed to notice that Herodotos states the fact. After having told the story of the Athenian messenger and of Spartan reply, he shifts the narrative to the landing at Marathon. In a single sentence he relates that the Spartans were waiting for the full moon and that the Persians landed at Marathon "having waited for a few days" (VI 106). The Persians probably hoped that the lack of Spartan support would demoralize the Athenians.

It is said that Herodotos' statement that the Athenians sent a message to Sparta only after the Persian landing is absurd. But the Persians were engaged in a new kind of warfare, what we call an amphibious operation, and up to that moment the Athenians could not have guessed what they were up against. Herodotos reports that the people of Eretria became aware of the Persian plans against them only after the enemy had landed on their island (VI 100).

But on the 7th day the Athenians sent a messenger to Sparta and decided to march out to Athens to pin down the Persians at Marathon. Perhaps the messenger had the purpose of informing the Spartans of the military situation and of the golden opportunity that offered itself. Certainly the Athenians were aware of Spartan customs, but they may have hoped that given the circumstances the Spartans would deviate from their traditional rigidity in obeying their laws. If the Athenians had withdrawn within the gates of their city and the Persians had started a siege, the Spartan help could have been effective even later; but the situation was different since it was necessary to have all possible men facing the beach at Marathon. The Athenians mobilized all possible forces offering full citizenship to the slaves who would enlist, since there was a possibility to massacre the Persian army.

It is clear why the Persians departed from the beach of Marathon not later than the 17th day, since the Spartan reinforcements were expected to arrive in Athens on the evening of the 18th day. But it is not clear why they waited up to that day. Probably they decided to wait for a full moon night, since they had to embark the cavalry at night. Once the full moon period came they kept waiting for favorable weather conditions at sea and they waited up to the 17th day when it was not possible to delay any further.

The narrative of Herodotos indicates that the Persians, far from operating with the alleged Oriental thoughtlessness, followed highly prepared staff plans and, in fact, were hampered by a certain rigidity of execution. Once the prosecution of the intended plan did not prove possible, they abandoned it entirely.

As far as Athens was concerned, the Persians had taken a chance and failed, and having failed accepted their losses without trying further moves. The Persians must have counted on such uncertain factors as a favorable wind for their navigation from Marathon to the Athenian harbor of Phaleron, but the Persian strategy was reasonably based on taking big chances because this is the correct game strategy for the party that has a large bank. In relation to the campaign that ended at Salamis ten years later, Herodotos presents king Xerxes as stating that he was willing to try a strategy in which the probabilities of winning were against him. One of the main ideas of Thukydides in his narrative of the Peloponnesian War is that in order to win in war one must have a large bank and be willing to gamble it.

Herodotos is judged an incompetent historian for not stating how many Persians fought at Marathon, although he states that about 6400 were counted as dead on the battlefield. But he who is accused of freely inventing figures, did not provide the data he did not have from reliable sources.

About one hundred years after the events Plato wrote the dialogue Menexenos which contains a parody of the speeches that were usually delivered to celebrate the glory of Athens. In this context it is stated (240 A) that King Dareios sent "fifty myriads on triremes and transports and three hundred triremes." Although Plato in his work wants to call to attention the lack of precise and orderly thinking in rhetoricians, these figures are not worthless. The figure of 300 triremes is significant, because the Persians cannot have left the triremes that were beached at Marathon exposed to a surprise attack by enemy ships. As in the case of the following campaign of King Xerxes, the Persians must have divided their 600 triremes into two halves: 300 were engaged as landing craft for the infantry, while the other 300 were the truly fighting ships that operated as a protecting screen. Probably, while 300 triremes were on the beach at Marathon, the other 300 were on guard on the opposite shore along the island of Euboia. Herodotos (VI 115) reports that when the Persian ships left Marathon after the battle, they stopped at Aigialea to pick up the Eretrian prisoners; since speed was important for the triremes that left Marathon with the infantry, this must be an imprecision. More likely it was the transport ships that, upon leaving Marathon with the triremes of the cavalry, took the prisoners on board and left Aigialea accompanied by the 300 fighting triremes as escort. In relation to the Athenian force of 100 triremes that was sent against Syracuse, Thukydides (VI 31, 43) states that, although it was all fit for naval combat, it was divided into 60 "fast triremes" and 40 triremes carrying 100 hoplites each. It follows that triremes with 100 infantry on board were not considered in the best condition for fighting; for a similar reason triremes tried to deposit on a safe point on the shore their sails and masts when combat was considered imminent.

The figure of 500,000 men is not entirely preposterous since 600 triremes require a crew of 120,000 men. Most likely the 300 triremes that were intended to be used as landing craft carried 100 infantry men each, making a total of three myriads. The other 300 triremes may have had the usual complement of about 30 marines who altogether made another myriad. If the infantry force was 30,000 men, according to the table of organization of the Persian army the cavalry should have been 5,000 horsemen, but possibly the number was reduced for an amphibious operation. A trireme could transport 30 horses, so that 170 triremes with crews of some 15,000 men would have been required to carry 5,000 horses. Possibly the relation 6:1 between infantry and cavalry was applied to the triremes. There may have been 100 triremes with 3,000 horses, since the Persian navy was organized by squadrons of 100 triremes. There were also strong contingents of archers and slingers. All these men and horses required a complex system of supplies, since on triremes every inch of space was occupied by the men and even food could not be stored except for what was sufficient for a few days. The Athenian force that went to Sicily in 415 B.C., which consisted altogether of 134 triremes, including those contributed by the allies, carried 5,100 hoplites with 700 slingers, 480 archers and 120 lightly armed soldiers, plus 300 horsemen with their horses on specially adapted triremes. This force that would have been small by Persian standards required a train of 30 heavy merchant ships plus 100 regular merchant ships, accompanied by many other heavy and regular merchant ships belonging to the professional suppliers who followed the armed forces on their own initiative (Thuk. VI 44). Hence, it is credible that almost half a million men were involved in the expedition that went to Marathon.

The figure of 300 Persian triremes at Marathon agrees with Herodotos' statement that the entire Persian navy counted 600 triremes.

Herodotos indicates only that the Persian infantry at Marathon was larger than the Athenian, but there is an epigram that seems to have been written by the poet Simonides who lived in Athens shortly after the battle of Marathon, which reads:
"The Athenians fighting for the Greeks at Marathon,
Slew nine myriads of Medes."
The great expert on Greek lyric poetry, Theodor Bergk, suggested that the word "slew" (ekteinan) be amended to "put to flight" (eklinan). Critical historians found fault with Bergk's correction of this text because it would have made it agree with Herodotos' account and made it appear sensible. But Bergk was vindicated when in 1933 there was discovered the mentioned official epigram about the battle of Marathon, which contains the verb eklinw. The success of the Athenians at Marathon was not that they were able to engage in a great land battle with the Persians and won, but, first, that they were able to stop the Persian plan to use Marathon as a base for raids on Athenian territory and, second, that they were able to force the Persians to withdraw (eklinan). By the manoeuvre of the dromos the Athenians were able to cause the Persians to suffer substantial losses and then to withdraw with such a delay that they could no longer try the landing at the Phaleron.

Scholars criticize Herodotos for not describing the battle of Marathon in the same manner in which he describes the battle of Plataia for which he lists with care the number of the participants on both sides. But here Herodotos is criticized for being a good historian. After the great land battle of Plataia in 480 B.C., which was mainly a Spartan victory even though Athenians participated in it, patriotic Athenians tried to magnify their victory at Marathon into another great land battle in order to prove that Athens had not done less than Sparta in defeating the Persians in land battles. But Herodotos did not fall for this distortion of the record. How Herodotos interpreted the event is indicated by Plutarchos in his essay On the Malignity of Herodotos (XXVII, 862 D), in which he accused Herodotos of having reduced Marathon to "a brief strike against the disembarked Barbarians." Plutarchos overstates what is Herodotos' disagreement from Athenians patriotic historians, but his interpretation of what Herodotos said is on the main correct.

The figure of the men engaged at Marathon was not preserved because at the moment of the battle this was not particularly important; it was the nature, the location, and the timing of the operations that proved decisive. The author of the epigram said to be by Simonides did not have any datum to reckon by except the figure of 300 triremes mentioned also by Plato. If there were 300 triremes on the beach at Marathon, then crews would have been 60,000 men and the landed infantry could be computed as 100 soldiers to each trireme. All these men were encamped on the shore and were forced to a hasty flight. Hence, the battle of Marathon forced 90,000 men to withdraw from the soil of Attika.

All other figures reported by ancient authors have the same origin. There was established in Athens the tradition that at Marathon the Athenians fought against a force that was tenfold their own. Hence, from the figure of 90,000 men mentioned by the epigram there was derived the notion that the Athenian hoplites that went to Marathon were 9,000. This would have been all the hoplites that Athens could align, since at the battle of Plataia ten years later the Athenian hoplites were 8,000. Hence the figure of 9,000 hoplites is not an unreasonable one. It was further reported that the Athenians were joined at Marathon by a force of 1,000 hoplites sent by the neighboring city of Plataia. Some authors catalogued the figure by taking the total of 10,000 as the number of the Athenians and adding to this figure the 1,000 Plataians. By calculating from this figure of 10,000 Athenians and assuming that the relation between the opposing forces was 1:10, Cornelius Nepos, quoting the historian Ephoros, states that the Persian fighters were 100,000. The Persian cavalry is reckoned by Cornelius Nepos as 10,000 since this would be a normal ratio of cavalry to infantry by Greek standards. It can be concluded that there were no sources of information that were neglected by Herodotos; other writers simply guessed starting from the figure of 300 triremes that is implied in Herodotos' account. The Athenians who were encamped above the plain of Marathon must have seen on the morning of the 17th day of the lunar month that three Persian squadrons of about 100 triremes each were left facing them. The distribution of the fleet into three squadrons corresponded to the distribution of the infantry into a center and two wings.

If one wants to find fault with Herodotos, the only point in which he can be said to have been inaccurate is in having failed to mention the embarcation of the Persian cavalry which is recorded in another text. But one can undestand why he was silent on this point. According to the Athenian political system each of the ten generals in rotation was supreme commander for a day; Miltiades was supreme commander on the 7th day of the month, the day on which it was decided on his proposal to meet the Persians outside the gates of Athens. He was again the supreme commander on the 17th day, when the Persians were about to leave the shore of Marathon; this gave him the chance to order the famous race for the shore. Herodotos (VI 109) states that even before that day the other generals had been convinced by Miltiades that the Athenians should attack, and that each one of them had voluntarily conceded to him the position of supreme commander. This is very plausible, since from the very beginning the generals must have agreed to attack the Persians if they tried to move from Marathon. But Herodotos adds that although Miltiades was given the right to lead the attack when he chose, he waited for the day that was his official day of supreme command (VI 110). Miltiades would not have been the great general honored for his ability by Greeks and Romans if he had reached a fatal decision on such principle.

Probably Herodotos gave credence to a story concocted by Miltiades' enemies who after the battle of Marathon brought him to trial under the charge of having conducted as if it were his personal enterprise the expedition against the island of Paros, which the Athenians attacked the year after the battle of Marathon because it had given assistance to the Persians. Without questioning them, Herodotos (VI 132, 133) repeats in full detail the absurd charges made against Miltiades on that occasion. As Herodotos (VI 132) states, "after the blow given to the Persians at Marathon, the prestige of Miltiades in Athens, which had been great, increased even more." A democratic society like Athens could not tolerate this level of personal eminence and Miltiades was slandered and brought to trial as an unpatriotic egotist. Since Herodotos accepted a version of the events by which the departure of the Persian cavalry could not have determined Miltiades' final order, he remained silent on this point. It could be also that Herodotos accepted a biased version of the events because it reduced the importance of chance, something that historians are forced by profession to try to explain away. Miltiades was given supreme command on the 7th day because the proposal to face the Persians at their landing place was his; the Persians decided to depart on the 17th day because this was the last day before the expected arrival of the Spartans, and it was by chance that on that day it was again Miltiades' turn to be the supreme commander. As Napoleon said, to be a good general it faut de la veine.


Notes:
  1. J. B. Bury, "The Battle of Marathon," Classical Review X (1896), p. 98.
  2. Herodotus, Vol. II, p. 155.
  3. H. G. L. Hammond, "The Campaign and the Battle of Marathon," in Studies in Greek History (Oxford, 1973), p. 215, 246-248. C. Hignett also says that "once the hoplites came to close quarters, this cavalry would be of no use." Xerxes' Invasion of Greece (Oxford, 1963).
  4. J. A. R. Munro in The Cambridge Ancient History, Vol. IV (1926), pp. 229ff.
  5. Drei Schlachten aus dem griech.-roem. Altertum, Abh. d. phil.-hist. Klasse d. Saechs. Akad. 34 (1921).
  6. Geschichte der Kriegerkunst I (Berlin, 1920), p. 63.
  7. Kromayer and Delbrueck have been followed by E. Meyer (Geschichte des Altertums IV.1.31f. [4th ed., Stuttgart, 1944]) and De Sanctis Rivista di Filologia 53 [1925], p. 120).
  8. E. Curtius, Griechische Geschichte (1888); J. A. R. Munro, "The Campaign of Marathon," The Journal of Hellenic Studies XIX (1899); G. B. Grundy, The Great Persian War (London, 1901); W. K. Pritchett, "Marathon," University of California Publications in Classical Archaeology IV. 2 (Berkeley, 1960); A. R. Burn, Persia and the Greeks (London, 1962).
  9. Herodote, historien des guerres mediques, p. 266.
  10. "Two Monuments Erected After the Victory of Marathon," American Journal of Archaeology 44 (1940), pp. 58f.
  11. Arnold W. Gomme, "Herodotos and Marathon," Phoenix VI (1952), p. 77, reprinted in More Essays in Greek History and Literature, edited by David A. Campbell (Oxford, 1962).
  12. Ibid. p. 83.
  13. Delbrueck, op. cit., pp. 56, 60; Cf. W. W. How and J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotus, (Oxford, 1912), Vol. II, p. 112; C. Hignett, Xerxes' Invasion of Greece (Oxford, 1963), p. 62.
  14. F. Schachermeyr, "Marathon und die persische Politik," Historische Zeitschrift 172 (1951).
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