THE BATTLE OF MARATHON
In 490 B.C., a Persian fleet of 600 ships crossed the Aegean to land an army north of Athens on the plain of Marathon. The Persian army is estimated at 20,000. They were not led by the Persian king, Darius, in person, but by subordinant generals. The Athenians met them with 10,000 of their own troops and a few of their allies. The Spartans did not fight because of religious scruples about the phase of the moon. Miltiades led the Athenian army in a charge straight at the Persians. The Persians drove back the weak Athenian center, but the strong Athenian left and right wings turned the Persian flanks. The Athenians surrounded and destroyed the Persian army. Aeschylus fought in this battle and was so proud of that fact that he memorialized it on his epitaph. 6,400 Persians and only 192 Athenians died. The result was a victory for Athens to conclude the First Persian War. This battle was probably viewed as no more than a skirmish by the Persians who had succeeded in conquering all of the Aegean islands and Macedonia in this War. At the conclusion of the war the Ionian Greek cities were still under Persian control but Athens had given heart to the Greek people in their struggle against the Persian empire.