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Assess the contribution of Miltiades to the Greek victory at Marathon

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Miltiades, one of the ten generals of Athens later the Strategos had contributed greatly towards the Greek’s victory at Marathon against the Persians. After word of the Persians arrival at Marathon the Athenian assembly met in order to discuss whether or not to fight at Marathon or remain in the city in order to protect it. Considering what had happen at Eretria, Miltiades had convinced the polemarch, Calimachus and the Athenians to march out of the city to fight the Persians at Marathon. He had approximately 10 000 Athenians and 1000 Plataeans.

The Athenians had requested aid from Sparta which they agreed, but unfortunately were not able to due to a religious festival. The Athenians marched out to Marathon and camped beyond the foothills providing a defence force against the Persians cavalry attacks. With the knowledge of the Spartans soon arrival, the Persians devised a plan to journey around the lands to attack the city of Athens directly. This had open up an opportunity for Miltiades to defeat the Persians whilst their cavalry men were absent from the beach. Therefore he had ordered for attack after the cavalry men had a boarded the ships.

With background knowledge of the Persians tactics and strategy, Miltiades was able to devise certain tactics which enable the victory of the Greeks. He ordered that the Athenian army was situated with strong wings and a weak centre marching the length of the Persian’s army; the Persians processed a strong centre but weak wings. This enables the Greeks to attack the weak Persian wings. Another tactic developed by Miltiades was that the Greeks were order to charge at the Persian army to neutralise the Persians archery; one of their main tactics. In the end the Greek won a decisive victory against the Persians; seven ships were taken and 6400 Persians troops were killed in comparison to 162 Athenians.

Overall Miltiades contribution to the Greeks victory at Marathon had played a significant role. He enabled the Greeks to fight against the Persians at Marathon as well as causing them a devastating defeat. The Athenians had also adopted military tactics and it had also proven to the world that the Persians were not invincible. This was regarded as the first step to the formation of the Athenian Empire.


P Bradley, Ancient Greece Using EvidenceV Ehrenberg, From Solon to SocratesHerodotus, The Histories

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