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Lecture 12

CLA230 Lecture 12 Notes

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Dimitri Nakassis

CLA230 Lecture 12 Notes Persian Wars - one of the main turning points for Greek history - first time that small, independent poleis must combine forces and work together to defeat a common enemy - identity is a fluid thing especially in the pre-modern world without nation states - in the Archaic Period – minor sense of Greek identity but much more so after the Persian Wars – as a result of the wars - idea that nothing unites better than a common threat/enemy - idea of patriotism “going through the roof” when faced with a threat – example of 9/11 Darius and Xerxes - battle of Marathon as mentioned previously - nothing really happens for about ten years - two reasons for the ten year lull – death of Darius and the revolt of Egypt - Egypt revolts in 486 B.C. - Darius dies in late 486/485 B.C. - Xerxes, son of Darius I, assumes the throne and subdues Egypt - much difficulty with large empires in the ancient world – difficult to maintain cohesiveness – control and cultural cohesiveness is important in maintaining a large empire - first order of Xerxes upon assuming command of the Persian Empire is to subdue Egypt – more important than Greece - interpretation of Herodotus – Marathon was specifically attacked to punish two poleis for their part in the Ionian revolt - the Persian Wars that follow are a much more serious expedition based on expansion of the Persian Empire – reason for these are expansion, not revenge/punishment - Mardonius – son of Darius’ sister – cousin of Xerxes Army of Xerxes - main source is Herodotus – some things cannot be believed or taken at face value - attempt to assess the number of men in the army of Xerxes - estimation of number of men in the army given by Herodotus is 5,283,220 - numbers drawn up by Herodotus: • 1,700,000 Asian infantry • 80,000 Asian horse cavalry • 20,000 camel and charioteers • 1,207 triremes • 3,000 other ships • 516,610 men in the navy • 120 Greek triremes • 24,000 men • 300,000 European infantry • total of 2,641,610 men - did not make sense because it was next to impossible to supply so many fighting men with food, supplies, shelter, etc. - despite the unbelievable numbers – it must be believed to an extent - it must be believed that the Greeks were vastly outnumbered by the Persian forces Athens - the Athenians find silver – debate on what to do with all the state-owned silver - “Aristides the Just” – wanted to distribute the money to the people – give each citizen ten drachmas - Themistocles – archon in 493/492 B.C. - Themistocles – convinces the assembly to spend the silver to build ships for a war - after beating off the Persians at Marathon, they forget about them – want to attack their neighbours - money is spent in building ships for the war against Aegina – tell much about the Athenian mindset – going back to feuding among poleis – very expansionist - territory of Athens is called Attica - traditional enemy of Athens is Aegina – other enemies commonly being Megara and Thebes Build-Up to Thermopylae - alliance against the Persians – the “Hellenic League” - idea of the “Greeks” fighting Persia – the battle did not actually include all Greek poleis – in fact, a very small number of them actually participated in driving out the Persians - ally of Athens – Plataea - Sparta and her allies – Peloponnesian League – fairly loose alliance in which cities in central and eastern Peloponnese banded together – military alliance - two-thirds of the Hellenic League consisted of Sparta and her allies – 19 of the 31 cities involved were part of the Peloponnesian League - other cities involved were Thespiae, Corinth, etc. - oaths made – the poleis would not fight each other - therefore, there was an interruption of local wars – example of the Athens vs. Aegina feud going back to 507 B.C. - Sparta provided the generals for the army and the navy – Athens did a great thing for the alliance by conceding to the Spartans regarding command – the Spartans basically had control of the armies - while Sparta may have technically had full control regarding generalship – the leaders needed the cooperation of the lower ranks in order for the army and navy to properly function – much cooperating between poleis was necessary for the Hellenic League to work - they sent scouts to Asia and envoys were sent out to different poleis for support - envoys sent to Argos, Syracuse, Corcyra, Crete - Gelon – tyrant of Syracuse - Corcyra pretends to help but actually does not - Argos becomes “neutral” and decides not to help the Hellenic League, not the Persians – bower there were rumors of surrender to Persian Empire – in fact, it is later believed that they were paid by the Persians to not give assistance to the Hellenic League, but at the same time did not actually assist the Persians other than by their lack of assistance to the Greeks - Thessaly and Thebes surrender - local squabbles were very prevalent – Thessalians vs. Phocians - Herodotus mentions that if Thessaly had become part of the alliance, then the Phocians would have surrendered to the Persians – idea that no matter what, they had to be on opposing sides, despite their beliefs - quote: “if the Thessalians had supported the Greek cause, the Phocians would, I am sure, have collaborated with the Persians” - Phocians – around Delphi – land was called Phocus - Thessaly – exposed to the Persians based on where the Hellenic League based their defense lines – therefore it made sense that they would surrender - Argos – constantly in battle with the Spartans – made sense that they would not help - at this point in time – the most important factor was not Greek identity of the defence of their land from the Persian Empire – main deciding factor was local prejudice and what “side” they were on vs. their “enemies” - local prejudice between poleis was the basis behind allying or not allying themselves with the Hellenic League – perfectly plausible for them at the time Leonidas and Thermopylae - Athenians make up more than half the fleet - neutral states similar to those surrendered in that they provide no help to the Hellenic League and the allow the Persians to pass through - land-based expedition – much longer – Persians did not just send ships across - army was sent to Thermopylae with Leonidas - around 7,000 hoplites were sent – only 300 of them were Spartiates - festival was taking place in Sparta – festival to Apollo – Carnea - religious observance was important in Sparta – it was not just a convenient excuse – reason for this being that a king was sent along as well - sent the men in the hope that it would encourage the Greeks to fight – did not want to give the Hellenic League the idea that they did not want to fight - the men sent would hold the Persian army off at a narrow point - Athens was also in the middle of a religious festival – Olympic festival – small fleet sent – Athenians felt it was an adequate force to hold off the Persians until the festivals were over - fleet – 324 triremes sent, 180 of which were Athenian – all sent to Artemision - not every Greek city sent troops to Thermopylae – Athens sent ships, not hoplites - Thebans surrender at Thermopylae at the first chance they get – had only grudgingly joined, at the insistence of Sparta - number of fighters sent from each poleis: • 300 Spartiates • 500 from Tegea • 500 from Mantinea • 1,120 from Arcadia • 400 from Corinth • 200 from Phlius • 80 from Mycenae • 700 from Thespiae • 400 from Thebes • 1000 Phocians and more Opuntian Locrians - Thermopylae – “Hot Gates” – very narrow piece of land – difficult to pass – only point to enter the southern territory of the Greek mainland – steep mountains on one side and sea on the other – bottleneck - Greek defenders – fortify the area – rebuild old fortifications to hold off the Persians Persians - not ordinary soldiers – superior in distance weapons but inferior at close quarters - phalanx formation of the Greeks – consists of heavy infantry – beats the Persian light infantry - Persians would have the advantage on an open plain because of their style of fighting - landscape of Thermopylae gives the Greeks the advantage – mountainous area and very narrow pass – phalanx could easily hold a line - wicker-work shield of the Persian foot-soldiers - quote on shielding: “instead of the ordinary shields they had shields of wicker‐work, under which hung quivers; and they had short spears and large bows and arrows of reed, and moreover daggers hanging by the right thigh…” - clearly the Persians were more skilled as archers and distance fighting than were the Greeks – however, with the landscape of Thermopylae, there would be much engagement and therefore the Greek phalanx was better suited for the terrain - Xerxes is told of the back mountain path – the only way around the Thermopylae pass – goat path known by the
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