On September 12, 490 BC, the Battle of Marathon was fought on the plain of Marathon.
The battle between the Athenians and the Persians is one of history’s most famous military events and one of the earliest recorded battles.
Greece’s victory over the Persian invaders gave people confidence in their ability to defend themselves and belief in their continued existence.
In September of 490 BC a Persian armada of 600 ships – a large invasion force of approximately 20,000 infantry and cavalry on Greek territory just north of Athens. Their goal was to crush the Greek states in revenge for their support of their Ionian cousins who had revolted against Persian rule.
Undaunted by the numerical superiority of the invaders, Athens mobilized 10,000 warriors to defend their territory. The two armies met on the Plain of Marathon twenty-six miles north of Athens. The flat battlefield surrounded by hills and sea was ideal for the Persian cavalry.
An Athenian general prepared a war plan, which was never used before. The Athenians blocked the two exits from the plain of Marathon. Then, for reasons that are not clear, the Athenians decided to attack the Persians.
Despite the numerical advantage of the Persians, the Greek warriors proved very effective against the more lightly armed Persian infantry.
They routed the Persian wings before turning in on the center of the Persian line.
The next morning, a battle began at the Battlefield of Marathon. The plan worked well, and confused the Persian Army. Then, the Athenians saw the Persian soldiers were breaking their ranks and nothing could get them back to order.
They were in panic.
The Persian army was easily defeated and one Athenian soldier, who also happened to be a runner, went and told the citizens of Athens of the victory. The distance from the Battlefield of Marathon to Athens, which can be confirmed today if you ever go to Greece, is 26.3 miles. The run to the city was historic in its own little way.
This is why the Battle of Marathon is often seen as a key moment in European history. The battle became a historical inspiration.