In the second half of VI century B.C., Persia became a powerful slave state. Having conquered Phoenicia, Palestine, Babylonia, Egypt, and all of Asia Minor, the next political task was the conquest of Greece. Part of Greece bowed before the Persian king, but some cities – mainly Athens and Sparta – did not.The two warring states before the war were very different politically, culturally and psychologically. Ellada (Greece as the Greeks called it) was a country divided into separate city-state. Each city was a state in which all “free inhabitants could affect the state decisions” and politics. (Martin) The Greeks had incredible patriotism. They passionately loved their country and were willing to fight for it till their death. Every Greek found it as an important duty to protect Ellada. They did not have to be forced into battle, they were eager to fight and save their own state. They knew that if they lose, their homeland and their people will die or become slaves. For them it was better to “die a free man than to die a slave”. (Parker) This was the pre-war attitude of the Greeks. Persia, on the other hand, was a bloodthirsty slave Empire. The Persian army consisted of people from different nationalities and backgrounds. According to Kagan et.al, these people came from the conquered territories. (Kagan, Ozment and Turner) They were talking different languages; it was hard to understand each other. Because of this, there was no spirit of cohesion, unity. People in this army were mostly indifferent to the fate of Persia; they viewed the conquest as the business of kings. To them, this war was unnecessary. Some of them didn’t really realize what they were fighting for; they were following orders of the king. All these differences played a crucial role in the outcome of the war.
Another factor which influenced the outcome of the war the condition of the armies, differences in development, combat style and tactics. The Greek army consisted of just 10 thousand men. According to Kagan et.al, in the Greek army there was no cavalry, but they had a very good infantry. Army phalanx lined up. At the head of the Greek troops were ten strategists. One of them was Miltiades – a brilliant mind. (Kagan, Ozment and Turner) The Persian army consisted of 100 thousand infantrymen and 10 thousand horsemen. The Persians had a good cavalry (which was absent in the Greek army). But the infantry, even though it was comprised of a great number of soldiers, was worse than the Greek infantry. Although the Greeks were outnumbered, they were better trained, especially the Spartans. The Greeks were disciplined on land and at sea; they had better armor and held themselves together. The Persian army lacked training and discipline and they also “lacked courage and fighting spirit”. (Kagan, Ozment and Turner) As a result, the Greeks won the most crucial battles in the war.
To conclude: The main reason for the victory of the Greeks was that the organization of their fleet and their combat training. The quality of their ships, weapons, armor and tactical skills was higher than that of the Persians. The Greeks made better choices for the position of their troops. In the battle they chose narrow spaces where they could deploy all their forces, use their flanks more effectively, and protect them from being bypassed by the enemy. A huge role in the victory of the Greeks played the political, moral and psychological factors. The Persians fought did not fight out of love to their country, but for the money, or simply because they were following orders. The Greeks fought a war for independence and were united in the pursuit of victory, so their morale was much higher than that of the Persians. A combination of all these factors caused the Greeks to achieve their great victory.
- Kagan, D., Ozment, S., Turner, F. The Western Heritage: Teaching and Learning Classroom Edition. Combined Volume, 6th Edition. New York: Pearson, 2009. Print
- Martin, T. Ancient Greece: From Prehistoric To Hellenistic Times. New Haven, Conn: Yale University Press, 2013. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 16 Apr. 2015
- Parker, V. A History Of Greece: 1300 To 30 BC. Chichester, West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 2014. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 16 Apr. 2015