Battle of Marathon

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The Battle of Marathon (Greek:Μάχη τοῡ Μαραθῶνος) was a battle near Marathon, Greece, waged in August of 490 BC. King Darius I of the Persian Empire was infuriated by the revolt of the Greek city-states in the Ionian Revolt, and brought his army to the plains of Marathon to invade Athens, which had encouraged the revolt. The Athenians were outnumbered ten to one by the Persians, so they sent an athlete named Philippides to run for help to Sparta, 150 mile away. Ironically, the Spartans—with their military-obsessed society—refused to come, not until after the completion of a religious festival. Athens proved strong enough to defeat the mighty Persians on her own and won a staggering victory on the plains of Marathon losing 192 men to losses of 6,400 (according to Greek claims) for the Persians. The Spartans arrived the next day and learned to their chagrin that they had missed the fight. The Persians, who still had a formidable army, made an attempt to sail down the coast and attack Athens directly, but the Athenian forces made it there first, and the Persian fleet sailed home rather than risk another battle.


  • Encyclopedia of Military History, Dupuy & Dupuy, 1979
  • The Seventy Great Battles in History, ed. by Jeremy Black, Thames & Hudson Ltd., 2005