"The Greek Heroes" by Howard David Johnson

  In the faint light before the dawn of history we can already see the civilization of the Greeks. They differed vastly from the other two great civilized systems on the Nile and the two rivers of Mesopotamia. Persian King Darius was displeased with Greek settlements in Asia and attacked Greece directly in 490 B.C. A great naval force fashioned to carry horses and entire armies was long and carefully prepared to subdue all of Greece, beginning with Athens. The Athenians hoped to delay battle until elite reinforcements from Sparta should join them, but the landing of the invasion force at Marathon being reinforced by Persian sympathizers nerved them to attack first. The two pronged attack was designed to lure the Athenian army away from Athens. The Greeks advanced their phalanx (a wall of shields & spears) slowly until they came within range of the Persian archers, when they broke into a run. The arrows were ineffective at close range compared to the Greek spears. Soon they retreated, but the Greeks ran them down them from behind and killed them and war as we know it was born. After Pheidippides made his famous run from  Marathon to Athens he cried out the news; "Rejoice! we conquer!' and died from exhaustion. So Greece, united for a while by fear, gained her first victory over Persia. According to Herodotus the Persians lost 6,400 men, the Athenians only 192. 

The decisive victory gave Athenians confidence in the future of their city and their civilization. Darius received the news of this and died while planning his response.  Xerxes, his son and heir quickly dealt with Egypt and then set out to re-invade Greece.

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