Battle of the Eurymedon, c. 466 BCE

Battle of the Eurymedon, c. 466 BCE


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The Battle of the Eurymedon (c. 466 BCE, also given as the Battle of the Eurymedon River) was a military engagement between the Greeks of the Delian League and the forces of the Achaemenid Empire toward the end of the reign of Xerxes I (r. 486-465 BCE). The battle took place at the mouth of the Eurymedon River in Asia Minor (modern-day Koprucay River in Antalya Province, Turkey) and was both a naval and land engagement. The Greek forces were led by Cimon of Athens (l. c. 510 - c. 450 BCE) to a complete victory over the Persians.

The second Persian invasion of Greece had been repelled in 479 BCE and, in the aftermath, the Ionian Greek city-states of Asia Minor had asserted their autonomy, resisting Persian rule. Cimon sailed to the region to encourage further resistance, and the Persians responded by gathering a fleet, which would work in concert with their land forces to defeat Cimon and subdue these cities which could then be used to launch a third invasion of Greece.

Cimon's victory at the Eurymedon ended any hope of such an action and demoralized the Persian monarch and military. Xerxes I's son and successor, Artaxerxes I (r. 465-424 BCE) would resort to less obvious methods of striking at the Greek city-states, notably by fueling the tensions between Athens and Sparta which would lead to the Peloponnesian Wars (460-446 and 431-404 BCE) and, eventually, Athens' defeat by the Spartans.

Date & Sources

Although the battle is frequently given as c. 466 BCE, it is also dated to 469 BCE or 468 BCE. Scholars are divided on when exactly it happened because the history of this entire period, known as the Pentecontaetia (“period of the fifty years”) is poorly attested in the primary sources. The Pentecontaetia is often incorrectly understood as “fifty years of peace” when it was not. Many battles were fought between the Greek city-states during this time even though it was, overall, a period of growth and development – especially for Athens and Sparta.

The date of c. 466 BCE seems to make the most sense in light of other events – whose dates are known – which fit with this chronology.

The period is better understood as the time between the defeat of the second Persian invasion of Greece in 479 BCE and the outbreak of the Second Peloponnesian War in 431 BCE. The historians of the time, such as Thucydides, often do not provide careful chronology or developmental details in their narratives, seeming to assume an audience would already have this information.

The primary sources for the battle are Thucydides (l. 460 - c. 400 BCE), Diodorus Siculus (l. 90 - c. 30 BCE), and Plutarch (l. 45 - c. 125 CE), with Thucydides and Plutarch considered the most reliable (Thucydides because he was writing close to the event and Plutarch because of the sources available to him). Even so, as noted, neither were careful with the chronology of the period and so any of the above dates for the battle could be correct. The date of c. 466 BCE, however, seems to make the most sense in light of other events – whose dates are known – which fit with this chronology.

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Background

The Achaemenid Persian Empire was founded by Cyrus II (the Great, r. 550-530 BCE) c. 550 BCE and by the time of the king Darius I (the Great, r. 522-486 BCE) controlled territories from the border with India to the east across to Asia Minor in the west, up through Mesopotamia, and down through Egypt. A number of Greek city-states had been founded along the coast of Asia Minor prior to Cyrus II's conquest and were now under Persian control.

In 499 BCE, these city-states rebelled against Persian rule and were supported by Athens and Eretria. The revolt took five years to put down and, afterwards, Darius I began preparations to punish Athens and Eretria for their interference and also expand his empire by taking Greece. He launched his invasion in 490 BCE and sacked Eretria but was defeated at the Battle of Marathon that same year by the Athenians and withdrew. His son, Xerxes I, then launched the second invasion to avenge his father's defeat in 480 BCE and punish Athens but was also defeated. Xerxes I did manage to burn Athens but did not defeat the Athenians nor subjugate them as both he and his father had hoped to do.

In response to Persian aggression, the Athenians formed the Delian League in 478 BCE. This was an alliance of Greek city-states who banded together to help liberate Greeks from Persian rule and defend against any future invasions. The league took its name from the island of Delos – considered a sacred space not aligned with any of the members – where the league's treasury was kept and all agreed to be led by Athens, the city-state considered most effective in repelling the two invasions of the Persian Wars.

Athens had created the largest navy in Greece and, under the direction of the statesman Pericles (l. 495-429 BCE), had rebuilt the city, including the acropolis with its Parthenon. Athens clearly thought of itself as the leader of the Greeks whose city should embody its high status through grand building projects as well as new walls to surround it. These activities were not appreciated by the Spartans, who were already tired of Athenian arrogance, and the greater Athens grew, so did the tensions between the two city-states.

With their powerful navy, Athens and the Delian League were able to easily eliminate piracy from the surrounding area and also provide aid and support to the Greek cities along the coast of Asia Minor. The league's ships also regularly transported troops to various Persian-held territories to liberate them while, at the same time, filling their treasury with the riches either taken from these places or given as gifts. These actions primarily benefited Athens which further alarmed Sparta. Although the league was primarily overseen by Pericles, the operations were carried out by the general Cimon.

Persian Response

Prior to their defeat in 480 BCE, the Persians would have mounted some kind of military response to the Delian League's activities, but Xerxes I had been completely demoralized by the event. Historians have often noted that, to the Greeks, the victories at Marathon, Salamis, and Platea were epic in their importance while, to the Persians, they were seen as minor setbacks in reaching an ultimately achievable goal. While there may be some truth to this overall, it certainly does not apply to Xerxes I whose character, and reign, disintegrated after his defeat. He spent more time in his harem at Persepolis than attending to matters of state and otherwise was only interested in completing his building projects. Whatever Athens was doing, it seemed, could not possibly matter to Xerxes I but, if he heard of its resurgence – as he probably did – it most likely added to his depression.

He roused himself when Cimon began operations directly targeting the city-states of Asia Minor. Cimon took 200 ships across the sea and landed at Caria sometime in 467-466 BCE from whence he sought to aid those cities which had declared their autonomy and joined the Delian League and force others, still loyal to Persia, to rebel and free themselves. A number of these city-states had no desire to leave the Persian Empire, however, recognizing they enjoyed a level of civil rights, prosperity, and security that no Greek mainland city-state could offer.

Xerxes I, alerted to Cimon's action, finally returned to himself and ordered preparations for a large force to deal with the Greek aggression. He placed the general Ariomandes in charge of the overall operation with Pherendates in charge of the land troops and Xerxes I's son Tithraustes in charge of the fleet of over 200 vessels. This army gathered near the Eurymedon with the plan for the land forces to march up the coast, subduing rebel states, supported by the fleet which would neutralize Cimon. Once the city-states were firmly under Persian control again, and Cimon defeated, Asia Minor would have served well in launching a third invasion of Greece.

The Battle

The Persian forces had gathered and were waiting for 80 ships from the Phoenicians to join them when Cimon received word of their location. He instantly broke off his engagements to meet them. The Persian fleet, not wanting to begin battle before the Phoenician ships arrived, moved into the mouth of the Eurymedon River thinking Cimon would not follow them.

Cimon, however, moved to attack and Ariomandes, understanding his ships would do better with more room to maneuver, came back out from the river to give battle in open water. He meanwhile ordered his land troops away from the shore to protect the camp and supplies. Cimon attacked and broke the Persian line. Ariomandes ordered a retreat back into the river where he grounded the ships on the bank and the crews joined with the land forces in forming a defensive position.

The Greek fleet followed, and Cimon ordered his ships to also be grounded, disembarking his crews. He then sent his heavily armored hoplites to break the Persian lines. The Persians held at first but then broke and Cimon sent in his reserves, which scattered the Persian forces. The Greeks pursued them inland where they captured their camp with all their supplies, and the Persian commanders were left with no choice but surrender.

This is the version of the battle given by Thucydides and Plutarch. Diodorus Siculus gives a different account with more colorful detail:

And when Cimon learned that the Persian fleet was lying off Cyprus, sailing against the barbarians he engaged them in battle, pitting two hundred and fifty ships against three hundred and forty. A sharp struggle took place and both fleets fought brilliantly, but in the end the Athenians were victorious, having destroyed many of the enemy ships and captured more than one hundred together with their crews. The rest of the ships escaped to Cyprus, where their crews left them and took to the land, and the ships, being bare of defenders, fell into the hands of the enemy.

Thereupon Cimon, not satisfied with a victory of such magnitude, set sail at once with his entire fleet against the Persian land army, which was then encamped on the bank of the Eurymedon River. And wishing to overcome the barbarians by a stratagem, he manned the captured Persian ships with his own best men, giving them tiaras for their heads and clothing them in the Persian fashion generally.

The barbarians, so soon as the fleet approached them, were deceived by the Persian ships and garb and supposed the triremes to be their own. Consequently, they received the Athenians as if they were friends. And Cimon, night having fallen, disembarked his soldiers, and being received by the Persians as a friend, he fell upon their encampment. A great tumult arose among the Persians, and the soldiers of Cimon cut down all who came in their way, and seizing in his tent Pheredates, one of the two generals of the barbarians and a nephew of the king, they slew him; and as for the rest of the Persians, some they cut down and others they wounded, and all of them, because of the unexpectedness of the attack, they forced to take flight.

In a word, such consternation as well as bewilderment prevailed among the Persians that most of them did not even know who it was that was attacking them. For they had no idea that the Greeks had come against them in force, being persuaded that they had no land army at all; and they assumed that it was the Pisidians, who dwelt in neighboring territory and were hostile to them, who had come to attack them.

Consequently, thinking that the attack of the enemy was coming from the mainland, they fled to their ships in the belief they were in friendly hands. And since it was a dark night without a moon, their bewilderment was increased all the more and not a man was able to discern the true state of affairs. Consequently, after a great slaughter had occurred on account of the disorder among the barbarians, Cimon, who had previously given orders to the soldiers to come running to the torch which would be raised, had the signal raised beside the ships, being anxious lest, if the soldiers should scatter and turn to plundering, some miscarriage of his plans might occur.

And when the soldiers had all been gathered at the torch and had stopped plundering, for the time being they set up a trophy and then sailed back to Cyprus, having won two glorious victories, the one on land and the other on the sea; for not to this day has history recorded the occurrence of so unusual and so important actions on the same day by a host that fought both afloat and on land. (XI.60.6-7, 61.1-7)

Diodorus cites no source for this account of the battle, and it appears nowhere else except in later works citing his own. The tone and details of Diodorus' version have been noted as typical of cultural and nationalistic myths and so his account is usually disregarded. Since historians recognize the poor attestation of this period, however, it is possible that Diodorus was working from a source unavailable to the others and his account may actually have some elements of truth to it.

Conclusion

All three narratives make clear that the battle was a complete victory for Cimon; the Persian forces were unable to regroup or counterattack at any time afterwards. What, exactly, did happen after the battle is unclear. Cimon had won a stunning victory but there is no record of him pressing his advantage nor any regarding what happened to the defeated Persian army.

Athens was engaged in the First Peloponnesian War with Corinth at the time so it is understandable the Athenians would not want to divide their forces or spend any more time than necessary in Asia Minor, but they had already done so with Cimon's initial expedition and would do so again 460-454 BCE in lending military support to an Egyptian revolt against Persian rule.

Perhaps the simplest reason for Cimon not pursuing his advantage is that he had no need to. He had come to Asia Minor to help the Ionian Greeks and was now free to liberate whatever cities he wanted to up the coast of Asia Minor from Caria onwards without having to worry about any Persian opposition. Scholar A. T. Olmstead sums up the result of the Persian defeat:

Eurymedon was decisive…Europe had been lost to the [Persian] empire; and now large numbers of the Asiatic Greeks, together with many Carians and Lycians, were enrolled in the rapidly expanding Delian League. (268)

There would be no third invasion of Greece and Xerxes I was assassinated the following year; not, as legend claims, for anything having to do with Eurymedon but by his court officer and bodyguard Artabanus who wanted to establish his own dynasty. Artabanus was quickly executed by Artaxerxes I who, having learned that Persian warfare with the Greeks did not end well, opted for a different course of action.

He wooed the Spartans and Athenians with vast sums of gold, promising help to Athens while secretly funding a Spartan military build-up. Tensions between the two city-states erupted in the First Peloponnesian War (460-446 BCE), which was fought primarily between Athens and Corinth (an ally of Sparta) to a draw. In the Second Peloponnesian War (431-404 BCE)), however, Athens and Sparta confronted each other directly, with Sparta aided and funded by the Persians. When the war was over, Athens was in ruins, and even though he did not live to see it, Artaxerxes I had finally accomplished what neither his father nor his grandfather had been able to.


BATTLE OF THE EURYMEDON


Opponents: Delian League versus Achaemenid Empire
Commanders and leaders:
Delian - Cimon
Persians - Tithraustes, Pherendatis †
Strength:
Delians - 200 ships
Persians -200𤭎 ships
Casualties and losses:
Delians - Unknown
Persians - 200 ships captured and destroyed


Sources and chronology:
Thucydides, whose history provides many of the details of this period Unfortunately, the military history of Greece between the end of the second Persian invasion of Greece and the Peloponnesian War (431-404) is poorly attested by surviving ancient sources. This period, sometimes referred to as the pentekontaetia by ancient scholars, was a period of relative peace and prosperity within Greece. The richest source for the period, and also the most contemporary with it, is Thucydides's History of the Peloponnesian War, which is generally considered by modern historians to be a reliable primary account.
Thucydides only mentions this period in a digression on the growth of Athenian power in the run up to the Peloponnesian War, and the account is brief, probably selective and lacks any dates. Nevertheless, Thucydides's account can be, and is used by historians to draw up a skeleton chronology for the period, on to which details from archaeological records and other writers can be superimposed. Much extra detail for the period is provided by Plutarch, in his biographies of Aristides and especially Cimon. Plutarch was writing some 600 years after the events in question, and is therefore very much a secondary source, but he often explicitly names his sources, which allows some degree of verification of his statements. In his biographies, he explicitly draws on many ancient histories that have not survived, and thus often preserves details of the period that Thucydides's brief account omits. The final major extant source for the period is the universal history (Bibliotheca historica) of the 1st century Sicilian, Diodorus Siculus. Much of Diodorus's writing concerning this period seems to be derived from the much earlier Greek historian Ephorus, who also wrote a universal history. However, from what little we know of Ephorus, historians are generally disparaging towards his history. Diodorus, who has often been dismissed by modern historians, is therefore not a particularly good source for this period. Indeed, one of his translators, Oldfather, says of Diodorus's account of the Eurymedon campaign that ". the three preceding chapters reveal Diodorus in the worst light. ". There is also a reasonable body of archaeological evidence for the period, of which inscriptions detailing probable tribute lists of the Delian League are particularly important.
Chronology:
Thucydides provides a succinct list of the main events occurring between the end of the second Persian invasion and the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War, but almost no chronological information. Various attempts have been made to reassemble the chronology, but there is no definitive answer. The assumption central to these attempts is that Thucydides is describing the events in the appropriate chronological order. The one firmly accepted date is 465 for the beginning of the Siege of Thasos. This is based on an ancient scholiast's annotation of a copy of Aeschines's works. The scholiast notes that the Athenians met disaster at the 'Nine-Ways' in the archonship of Lysitheus (known to be 465/464. Thucydides mentions this attack on the 'Nine-Ways' in connection with the beginning of the Siege of Thasos, and since Thucydides says that the siege ended in its third year, the Siege of Thasos therefore dates to c.465𤮿. The Battle of Eurymedon has been dated to 469 by Plutarch's anecdote about the Archon Apsephion (469/468) choosing Cimon and his fellow generals as judges in a competition. The implication is that Cimon had recently achieved a great victory, and the most likely candidate is Eurymedon. However, since the Battle of Eurymedon seems to have occurred after the Athenian siege of Naxos (but before the Siege of Thasos), the date of Eurymedon is clearly constrained by the date of Naxos. Whilst some accept a date of 469 or earlier for this Naxos, another school of thought places it as late as 467.
Since the Battle of Eurymedon seems to have occurred before Thasos, the alternative date for this battle would therefore be 466 BC.[19] Modern historians are split, some supporting 469 as the most likely date, and others opting for 466.

Background:
Main articles: Greco-Persian Wars, Delian League, and Wars of the Delian League
The Greco-Persian Wars had their roots in the conquest of the Greek cities of Asia Minor, and in particular Ionia, by the Persian Empire of Cyrus the Great shortly after 550. The Persians found the Ionians difficult to rule, eventually settling for sponsoring a tyrant in each Ionian city. While Greek states had in the past often been ruled by tyrants, this was a form of government on the decline. By 500, Ionia appears to have been ripe for rebellion against these Persian place-men. The simmering tension finally broke into open revolt due to the actions of the tyrant of Miletus, Aristagoras. Attempting to save himself after a disastrous Persian-sponsored expedition in 499, Aristagoras chose to declare Miletus a democracy. This triggered similar revolutions across Ionia, and indeed Doris and Aeolis, beginning the Ionian Revolt. The Greek states of Athens and Eretria allowed themselves to be drawn into this conflict by Aristagoras, and during their only campaigning season (498) they contributed to the capture and burning of the Persian regional capital of Sardis. After this, the Ionian Revolt carried on (without further outside aid) for a further 5 years, until it was finally completely crushed by the Persians. However, in a decision of great historic significance, the Persian king Darius the Great decided that, despite successfully subduing the revolt, there remained the unfinished business of exacting punishment on Athens and Eretria for supporting the revolt.
The Ionian Revolt had severely threatened the stability of Darius's empire, and the states of mainland Greece would continue to threaten that stability unless dealt with. Darius thus began to contemplate the complete conquest of Greece, beginning with the destruction of Athens and Eretria. In the next two decades there would be two Persian invasions of Greece, including some of the most famous battles in history. During the first invasion, Thrace, Macedon and the Aegean islands were added to the Persian Empire, and Eretria was duly destroyed. However, the invasion ended in 490 with the decisive Athenian victory at the Battle of Marathon. Between the two invasions, Darius died, and responsibility for the war passed to his son Xerxes I. Xerxes then led the second invasion personally in 480, taking an enormous (although oft-exaggerated) army and navy to Greece. Those Greeks who chose to resist (the 'Allies') were defeated in the twin battles of Thermopylae and Artemisium on land and at sea respectively. All of Greece except the Peloponnesus thus fell into Persian hands, but then seeking to finally destroy the Allied navy, the Persians suffered a decisive defeat at the Battle of Salamis. The following year, 479, the Allies assembled the largest Greek army yet seen and defeated the Persian invasion force at the Battle of Plataea, ending the invasion and the threat to Greece. According to tradition, on the same day as Plataea, the Allied fleet defeated the demoralised remnants of the Persian fleet in the Battle of Mycale. This action marks the end of the Persian invasion, and the beginning of the next phase in the Greco-Persian wars, the Greek counterattack.[38] After Mycale, the Greek cities of Asia Minor again revolted, with the Persians now powerless to stop them. The Allied fleet then sailed to the Chersonesos, still held by the Persians, and besieged and captured the town of Sestos. The following year, 478, the Allies sent a force to capture the city of Byzantium (modern day Istanbul). The siege was successful, but the behaviour of the Spartan general Pausanias alienated many of the Allies, and resulted in Pausanias's recall. The siege of Byzantium was the last action of the Hellenic alliance that defeated the Persian invasion.

After Byzantium, Sparta was eager to end her involvement in the war. The Spartans were of the view that, with the liberation of mainland Greece, and the Greek cities of Asia Minor, the war's purpose had already been reached. There was also perhaps a feeling that securing long-term security for the Asian Greeks would prove impossible. The loose alliance of city states that fought against Xerxes's invasion was dominated by Sparta and the Peloponnesian league. With the Spartan withdrawal, the leadership of the Greeks now explicitly passed to the Athenians. A congress was called on the holy island of Delos to institute a new alliance to continue the fight against the Persians. This alliance, now including many of the Aegean islands, was formally constituted as the 'First Athenian Alliance', commonly known as the Delian League. According to Thucydides, the official aim of the League was to "avenge the wrongs they suffered by ravaging the territory of the king." Forces of the Delian League spent much of the next decade expelling the remaining Persian garrisons from Thrace, and expanding the Aegean territory controlled by the League.

Prelude:
Once the Persian forces in Europe had largely been neutralised, the Athenians seem to have gone about starting to extend the League in Asia Minor. The islands of Samos, Chios and Lesbos seem to have become members of the original Hellenic alliance after Mycale, and presumably were also therefore original members of the Delian League. However, it is unclear exactly when the other Ionian cities, or indeed the other Greek cities of Asia Minor, joined the league, though they certainly did at some point. Thucydides attests the presence of Ionians at Byzantium in 478, so it is possible that at least some of the Ionian cities joined the league in early 478. The Athenian politician Aristides was said to have died in Pontus (c. 468) whilst on public business. Given that Aristides was responsible for organising the financial contributions of each League member, this trip may have been connected with expansion of the League into Asia Minor. Cimon's Eurymedon campaign itself seems to have begun in response to the assembly of a large Persian fleet and army at Aspendos, near the mouth of the Eurymedon River. It is usually argued that the Persians were the would-be aggressors, and that Cimon's campaign was launched to deal with this new threat. Cawkwell suggests that the Persian build-up was the first concerted attempt to counter the activity of the Greeks since the failure of the second invasion. It is possible that internal strife within the Persian empire had contributed to the length of time it took to launch this campaign. Cawkwell outlines the Persian strategic problems:

"Persia was a land power which used its naval forces in close conjunction with its armies, not free ranging in enemy waters. In any case, secure naval bases were necessary. In the Ionian Revolt with land forces already operating in Ionia and elsewhere along the Aegean seaboard, it was easy for a Royal army and navy to deal with the revolt, but in view of the general revolt of the [Ionian] cities in 479 BC and the subsequent successes of the Greek navies the only way for Persia must have seemed to be to move along the coast restoring order in city after city, with fleet and army moving together."

The nature of naval warfare in the Ancient world, dependent as it was on large teams of rowers, meant that ships would have to make landfall every few days to resupply with food and water. This severely limited the range of an Ancient fleet, and essentially meant that navies could only operate in the vicinity of secure naval bases. Cawkwell therefore suggests that the Persian forces gathered at Aspendos were aiming to move along the southern coast of Asia Minor, capturing each city, until eventually the Persian navy could begin operating in Ionia again. Alexander the Great would employ this strategy in reverse in winter of 333. Lacking a navy with which to take on the Persians, Alexander settled instead for denying the Persian navy suitable bases, by capturing the ports of southern Asia Minor. Plutarch says that upon hearing that the Persian forces were gathering at Aspendos, Cimon sailed from Cnidus (in Caria) with 200 triremes. It is highly likely that Cimon had assembled this force because the Athenians had had some warning of a forthcoming Persian campaign to re-subjugate the Asiatic Greeks. Certainly, no other league business would have required such a great force. Cimon may have been waiting in Caria because he expected the Persians to march straight into Ionia, along the Royal road from Sardis. According to Plutarch, Cimon sailed with these 200 triremes to the Greek city of Phaselis (in Lycia) but was refused admittance. He therefore began ravaging the lands of Phaselis, but with the mediation of the Chian contingent of his fleet, the people of Phaselis agreed to join the league. They were to contribute troops to the expedition, and to pay the Athenians ten talents. The fact that Cimon pre-emptively sailed to and captured Phaselis suggests that he anticipated a Persian campaign to capture the coastal cities (as outlined above). The presence of both army and navy at Aspendos may have persuaded him that there was to be no immediate assault on Ionia. By capturing Phaselis, the furthest east Greek city in Asia Minor (and just to the west of the Eurymedon), he effectively blocked the Persian campaign before it had begun, denying them the first naval base they needed to control. Taking further initiative, Cimon then moved to directly attack the Persian fleet at Aspendos.

Opposing forces:
According to Plutarch, the League fleet consisted of 200 triremes. These were of the sleek Athenian aphract (deckless) design, originally developed by Themistocles primarily for ramming actions, although they had been modified by Cimon to improve their suitability for boarding actions. The standard complement of a trireme was 200 men, including 14 marines. In the second Persian invasion of Greece, each Persian ship had carried thirty extra marines, and this was probably very true in the first invasion when the whole invasion force was apparently carried in triremes. Furthermore, the Chian ships at the Battle of Lade also carried 40 marines each. This suggests that a trireme could probably carry a maximum of 40㫅 soldiers—triremes seem to have been easily destabilised by extra weight. There were therefore probably around 5,000 hoplite marines with the League fleet. Persian Several different estimates for the size of the Persian fleet are given. Thucydides says that there was a fleet of 200 Phoenician ships, and is generally considered the most reliable source.
Plutarch gives numbers of 350 from Ephorus and 600 from Phanodemus. Furthermore, Plutarch says that the Persian fleet was awaiting 80 Phoenician ships sailing from Cyprus. Although Thucydides's account is generally to be favoured, there may an element of truth in Plutarch's assertion that the Persians were awaiting further reinforcements this would explain why Cimon was able to launch a pre-emptive assault on them. There are no estimates in the ancient sources for the size of the Persian land army. However, the number of Persian marines accompanying the fleet was presumably in the same range as the number of Greek marines (c. 5,000), since the Persian ships carried the same complement of troops. Plutarch quotes Ephorus as saying that Tithraustes was commander of the royal fleet, and Pherendatis of the infantry, but says that Callisthenes named Ariomandes as overall commander.

Battle:
Thucydides gives only the barest of details for this battle the most reliable detailed account is given by Plutarch. According to Plutarch, the Persian fleet was anchored off the mouth of the Eurymedon, awaiting the arrival of 80 Phoenician ships from Cyprus. Cimon, sailing from Phaselis, made to attack the Persians before the reinforcements arrived, whereupon the Persian fleet, eager to avoid fighting, retreated into the river itself. However, when Cimon continued to bear down on the Persians, they accepted battle. Regardless of their numbers, the Persian battle line was quickly breached, and the Persian ships then turned about, and made for the river bank. Grounding their ships, the crews sought sanctuary with the army waiting nearby. Some ships may have been captured or destroyed during the naval battle, but it seems likely that most were able to land. The Persian army now began to move towards the Greek fleet, which had presumably also grounded itself in order to capture the Persian ships. Despite the weariness of his troops after this first battle, Cimon, seeing "that his men were exalted by the impetus and pride of their victory, and eager to come to close quarters with the Barbarians", landed the marines and proceeded to attack the Persian army. Initially the Persian line held the Athenian assault, but eventually, as at the Battle of Mycale, the heavily armoured hoplites proved superior, and routed the Persian army. Fleeing back to their camp, the Persians were then captured, along with their camp, by the victorious Greeks. Thucydides says that 200 Phoenician ships were captured and destroyed. It is highly unlikely that this occurred during the apparently brief naval battle, so these were probably grounded ships captured after the battle and destroyed with fire, as has been the case at Mycale.
Plutarch says that 200 ships were captured, in addition to those that were destroyed or fled. It is possible that 'destroyed' in this context means sunk during the battle, since the Greeks would almost certainly have destroyed the ships that they captured as well (as Thucydides indeed implies). Since Thucydides only explicitly gives the number of ships destroyed, it is possible to reconcile Plutarch's and Thucydides's numbers, but it is not clear that this is the best approach. There are no estimates in the ancient sources for casualties amongst the troops of either side. Plutarch says that, following his double victory, "though like a powerful athlete he had brought down two contests in one day. Cimon still went on competing with his own victories." Cimon supposedly sailed with the Greek fleet as quickly as possible to intercept the fleet of 80 Phoenician ships the Persians had expected. Taking them by surprise, he captured or destroyed the entire fleet. However, Thucydides does not mention this subsidiary action, and some have cast doubt on whether it actually happened.

Aftermath:
Main article: Wars of the Delian League:
According to Plutarch, one tradition had it that the Persian king (who at the time would still have been Xerxes) agreed a humiliating peace treaty in the aftermath of the Eurymedon. However, as Plutarch admits, other authors denied that such a peace was made at this time, and the more logical date for any peace treaty would have been after the Cyprus campaign of 450. The alternative suggested by Plutarch is that the Persian king acted as if he had made a humiliating peace with the Greeks, because he was so fearful of engaging in battle with them again. It is generally considered unlikely by modern historians that a peace treaty was made in the aftermath of Eurymedon. The Eurymedon was a highly significant victory for the Delian League, which probably ended once and for all the threat of another Persian invasion of Greece. It also seems to have prevented any Persian attempt to reconquer the Asiatic Greeks until at least 451. The accession of further cities of Asia Minor to the Delian league, particularly from Caria, probably followed Cimon's campaign there. Despite Cimon's massive victory, something of a stalemate developed between Persia and the League. The Greeks do not appear to have pressed their advantage home in a meaningful way. If the later date of 466 for the Eurymedon campaign is accepted, this might be because the revolt in Thasos meant that resources were diverted away from Asia Minor to prevent the Thasians seceding from the League. Conversely, as Plutarch suggests, the Persians adopted a very defensive strategy in the Aegean for the next decade and a half. The Persian fleet was effectively absent from the Aegean until 451, and Greek ships were able to ply the coasts of Asia Minor with impunity.
The next major Delian League campaign against the Persians would only occur in 460 BC, when the Athenians decided to support a revolt in the Egyptian satrapy of the Persian empire. This campaign would last 6 years, before eventually ending in disaster for the Greeks.


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The military history of Greece between the end of the second Persian invasion of Greece and the Peloponnesian War (479–431 BC) is poorly attested by surviving ancient sources. This period, sometimes referred to as the pentekontaetia by ancient scholars, was a period of relative peace and prosperity within Greece. [2] [3] The richest source for the period, and also the most contemporary with it, is Thucydides's History of the Peloponnesian War, which is generally considered by modern historians to be a reliable primary account. [4] [5] [6] Thucydides only mentions this period in a digression on the growth of Athenian power in the run up to the Peloponnesian War, and the account is brief, probably selective and lacks any dates. [7] [8] Nevertheless, Thucydides's account can be, and is used by historians to draw up a skeleton chronology for the period, on to which details from archaeological records and other writers can be superimposed. [7]

Much extra detail for the period is provided by Plutarch, in his biographies of Aristides and especially Cimon. Plutarch was writing some 600 years after the events in question, and is therefore very much a secondary source, but he often explicitly names his sources, which allows some degree of verification of his statements. [9] In his biographies, he explicitly draws on many ancient histories which have not survived, and thus often preserves details of the period which are omitted in Thucydides's brief account. The final major extant source for the period is the universal history (Bibliotheca historica) of the 1st century BC Sicilian, Diodorus Siculus. Much of Diodorus's writing concerning this period seems to be derived from the much earlier Greek historian Ephorus, who also wrote a universal history. [10] However, from what little is known of Ephorus, historians are generally disparaging towards his history for this period he seems to have simply recycled Thucydides's research, but used it to draw completely different conclusions. [6] Diodorus, who has often been dismissed by modern historians anyway, [11] is therefore not a particularly good source for this period. [12] Indeed, one of his translators, Oldfather, says of Diodorus's account of the Eurymedon campaign that ". the three preceding chapters reveal Diodorus in the worst light. ". [13] There is also a reasonable body of archaeological evidence for the period, of which inscriptions detailing probable tribute lists of the Delian League are particularly important. [4] [14]

Chronology Edit

Thucydides provides a succinct list of the main events occurring between the end of the second Persian invasion and the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War, but almost no chronological information. [15] Various attempts have been made to reassemble the chronology, but there is no definitive answer. The assumption central to these attempts is that Thucydides is describing the events in the appropriate chronological order. [16] The one firmly accepted date is 465 BC for the beginning of the siege of Thasos. This is based on an anonymous ancient scholiast's annotations to one of the existing manuscripts of Aeschines's works. The scholiast notes that the Athenians met disaster at 'Nine-Ways' in the archonship of Lysitheus (known to be 465/464 BC). [7] Thucydides mentions this attack on the 'Nine-Ways' in connection with the beginning of the siege of Thasos, and since Thucydides says that the siege ended in its third year, the siege of Thasos therefore dates to c. 465–463 BC. [17]

Similarly, the anonymous scholiast provides a probable date for the siege of Eion. This annotation places the fall of Eion in the archonship of Phaidon (known to be 476/475 BC). [18] The siege may therefore have been between either 477–476 BC or 476–475 BC both have found favour. The Battle of Eurymedon may be dated to 469 BC by Plutarch's anecdote about the Archon Apsephion (469/468 BC) choosing Cimon and his fellow generals as judges in a competition. [19] The implication is that Cimon had recently achieved a great victory, and the most likely candidate is Eurymedon. [17] However, since the Battle of Eurymedon seems to have occurred after the Athenian siege of Naxos (but before the siege of Thasos), the date of Eurymedon is clearly constrained by the date of Naxos. Whilst some accept a date of 469 or earlier for this Naxos, [20] [21] another school of thought places it as late as 467 BC. [22] Since the Battle of Eurymedon seems to have occurred before Thasos, the alternative date for this battle would therefore be 466 BC. [22]

The dating of Naxos is intimately connected with two other events in the Greek world which occurred at the same time. Thucydides claims that Pausanias, having been stripped of his command after the siege of Byzantium, returned to Byzantium as a private citizen soon after and took command of the city until he was expelled by the Athenians. He then crossed the Bosporus and settled in Colonae in the Troad, until he was accused of collaborating with the Persians and was recalled by the Spartans for trial (after which he starved himself to death). Thucydides again provides no chronology of these events. [23] Shortly afterwards, the Spartans accused the Athenian statesman Themistocles, then in exile in Argos, of complicity in Pausanias's treason. As a result, Themistocles fled from Argos, eventually to Asia Minor. Thucydides states that on his journey, Themistocles inadvertently ended up at Naxos, at that time being besieged by Athenians. [24] The three events, Pausanias's treason, Themistocles's flight and the siege of Naxos therefore occurred in close temporal sequence. These events certainly happened after 474 BC (the earliest possible date for Themistocles's ostracism), and have generally been placed in around 470/469 BC. [25] However, there are several incongruities in the story of Themistocles if this date is accepted. A much later date for Pausanias's expulsion from Byzantium has been proposed, and if accepted, this pushes these three events into c. 467 BC, which resolves the problems regarding Themistocles, and also probably explains some incidental details mentioned in Plutarch's biography of Cimon. [22] However, this modified timeline is not universally accepted by historians.

The Egyptian and Cyprian campaigns are somewhat easier to date. Thucydides says that the Egyptian campaign lasted six years and that three years later, the Athenians and Spartans signed a five-year truce. This treaty is known to date to 451 BC, so the Egyptian campaign dates from c. 460–454 BC. [26] The Cyprian campaign, which directly followed the truce, thus dates to 451–450 BC. [27]

The Greco-Persian Wars had their roots in the conquest of the Greek cities of Asia Minor, and in particular Ionia, by the Persian Empire of Cyrus the Great shortly after 550 BC. The Persians found the Ionians difficult to rule, eventually settling for sponsoring a tyrant in each Ionian city. [28] While Greek states had in the past often been ruled by tyrants, this was a form of government on the decline. [29] By 500 BC, Ionia appears to have been ripe for rebellion against these Persian place-men. The simmering tension finally broke into open revolt due to the actions of the tyrant of Miletus, Aristagoras. Attempting to save himself after a disastrous Persian-sponsored expedition in 499 BC, Aristagoras chose to declare Miletus a democracy. [30] This triggered similar revolutions across Ionia, and indeed Doris and Aeolis, beginning the Ionian Revolt. [31]

The Greek states of Athens and Eretria allowed themselves to be drawn into this conflict by Aristagoras, and during their only campaigning season (498 BC) they contributed to the capture and burning of the Persian regional capital of Sardis. [32] After this, the Ionian Revolt carried on (without further outside aid) for a further 5 years, until it was finally completely crushed by the Persians. However, in a decision of great historic significance, the Persian king Darius the Great decided that, despite successfully subduing the revolt, there remained the unfinished business of exacting punishment on Athens and Eretria for supporting the revolt. [33] The Ionian Revolt had severely threatened the stability of Darius's empire, and the states of mainland Greece would continue to threaten that stability unless dealt with. Darius thus began to contemplate the complete conquest of Greece, beginning with the destruction of Athens and Eretria. [33]

In the next two decades, there would be two Persian invasions of Greece, including some of the most famous battles in history. During the first invasion, Thrace, Macedon and the Aegean islands were added to the Persian Empire, and Eretria was duly destroyed. [34] However, the invasion ended in 490 BC with the decisive Athenian victory at the Battle of Marathon. [35] Between the two invasions, Darius died, and responsibility for the war passed to his son Xerxes I. [36] Xerxes then led the second invasion personally in 480 BC, taking an enormous (although oft-exaggerated) army and navy to Greece. [37] Those Greeks who chose to resist (the 'Allies') were defeated in the twin battles of Thermopylae and Artemisium on land and at sea respectively. [38] All of Greece except the Peloponnesus thus fell into Persian hands, but then seeking to finally destroy the Allied navy, the Persians suffered a decisive defeat at the Battle of Salamis. [39] The following year, 479 BC, the Allies assembled the largest Greek army yet seen and defeated the Persian invasion force at the Battle of Plataea, ending the invasion and the threat to Greece. [40]

According to tradition, on the same day as Plataea, the Allied fleet defeated the demoralised remnants of the Persian fleet in the Battle of Mycale. [41] This action marks the end of the Persian invasion, and the beginning of the next phase in the Greco-Persian wars, the Greek counter-attack. [42] After Mycale, the Greek cities of Asia Minor again revolted, with the Persians now powerless to stop them. [43] The Allied fleet then sailed to the Chersonesos, still held by the Persians, and besieged and captured the town of Sestos. [44] The following year, 478 BC, the Allies sent a force to capture the city of Byzantium (modern day Istanbul). The siege was successful, but the behaviour of the Spartan general Pausanias alienated many of the Allies, and resulted in Pausanias's recall. [45] The siege of Byzantium was the last action of the Hellenic alliance which had defeated the Persian invasion.

After Byzantium, Sparta was eager to end her involvement in the war. [45] The Spartans were of the view that, with the liberation of mainland Greece, and the Greek cities of Asia Minor, the war's purpose had already been reached. There was also perhaps a feeling that obtaining long-term security for the Asian Greeks would prove impossible. [46] In the aftermath of Mycale, the Spartan king Leotychides had proposed transplanting all the Greeks from Asia Minor to Europe as the only method of permanently freeing them from Persian dominion. Xanthippus, the Athenian commander at Mycale, had furiously rejected this the Ionian cities were originally Athenian colonies, and the Athenians, if no one else, would protect the Ionians. [46] This marked the point at which the leadership of the Hellenic alliance effectively passed to the Athenians with the Spartan withdrawal after Byzantium, the leadership of the Athenians became explicit. [45] [46]

The loose alliance of city states which had fought against Xerxes's invasion had been dominated by Sparta and the Peloponnesian league. With the withdrawal of these states, a congress was called on the holy island of Delos to institute a new alliance to continue the fight against the Persians. This alliance, now including many of the Aegean islands, was formally constituted as the 'First Athenian Alliance', commonly known as the Delian League. According to Thucydides, the official aim of the League was to "avenge the wrongs they suffered by ravaging the territory of the king." [47] In reality, this goal was divided into three main efforts - to prepare against any future invasion, to seek revenge against Persia, and to organize a means of dividing spoils of war. The members were given a choice of either offering armed forces or paying a tax to the joint treasury most states chose the tax. [48] League members swore to have the same friends and enemies, and dropped ingots of iron into the sea to symbolize the permanence of their alliance. The ingots of iron were cast into the ocean because the oath the league members swore stipulated that their allegiance would not end, or be otherwise broken, until the iron floated to the surface. In other words, that they had made a pact perceived to be eternal. The Athenian politician Aristides would spend the rest of his life occupied in the affairs of the alliance, dying (according to Plutarch) a few years later in Pontus, whilst determining what the tax of new members was to be. [49]

Military expansion of the League Edit

Thucydides provides just one example of the use of force to extend membership of the League, but since his account seems to be selective, there were presumably more certainly, Plutarch provides details of one such instance. [17] Karystos, which had collaborated with the Persians during the second Persian invasion, was attacked by the League at some point in the 470s BC, and eventually agreed to become a member. [50] Plutarch mentions the fate of Phaselis, which Cimon compelled to join the league during his Eurymedon campaign. [51]

Internal rebellions Edit

Naxos attempted to leave the League c. 470/467 BC but was attacked by the Athenians and forced to remain a member. [50] A similar fate awaited the Thasians after they tried to leave the League in 465 BC. [52] Thucydides does not provide more examples, but from archaeological sources it is possible to deduce that there were further rebellions in the following years. [53] Thucydides leaves us under no illusions that the behaviour of the Athenians in crushing such rebellions led firstly to the hegemony of Athens over the league, and eventually to the transition from the Delian League to the Athenian Empire. [48] [54]

Conflicts in Greece Edit

During the period 479–461, the mainland Greek states were at least outwardly at peace with each other, even if divided into pro-Spartan and pro-Athenian factions. The Hellenic alliance still existed in name, and since Athens and Sparta were still allied, Greece achieved a modicum of stability. [3] However, over this period, Sparta became increasingly suspicious and fearful of the growing power of Athens. [3] It was this fear, according to Thucydides, which made the second, larger (and more famous) Peloponnesian War inevitable. [55]

Athens sent troops in 462 BC to aid Sparta with the Messenian Revolt (c. 465–461 BC), under the terms of the old Hellenic alliance. [56] The Spartans however, in the fear that Athens might interfere in the political situation between the Spartans and their helots, sent the Athenians home. [56] This event directly led to the ostracism of Cimon (who had been leading the troops), the ascendancy of the radical democrats (led by Ephialtes and Pericles) over the previously dominant aristocratic faction (led by Cimon) in Athens, and the First Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta (and their respective allies). [57]

This conflict was really the Athenians' own struggle, and need not have involved the Delian allies. After all, the League members had signed up to fight against the Persians, not fellow Greeks. [58] Nevertheless, it does seem that at least at the Battle of Tanagra, a contingent of Ionians fought with the Athenians. [58] The conflicts in Greece during these years are, however, not directly relevant to the history of the Delian League.

It can be seen, however, that the First Peloponnesian War may have hastened the transition of the Delian League from an Athenian-dominated alliance to an Athenian-ruled empire. During the early years of the war, Athens and her non-Delian allies scored a series of victories. [59] However, the collapse of the simultaneous Delian League expedition in Egypt in 454 BC caused panic in Athens, and resulted in decreased military activity until 451 BC, when a five-year truce was concluded with Sparta. [60] During the panic, the treasury of the League was moved from Delos to the perceived safety of Athens in 454 BC. Although Athens had in practice had a hegemonic position over the rest of the league since the rebellion of Naxos (470/467 BC) was put down, [48] the process by which the Delian league gradually transformed into the Athenian Empire accelerated after 461 BC. [61] The transfer of the treasury to Athens is sometimes used as an arbitrary demarcation between the Delian League and the Athenian Empire. An alternative 'end-point' for the Delian League is the final end of hostilities with the Persians in 450 BC, after which, despite the fact that the stated aims of the League were fulfilled, the Athenians refused to allow member states to leave the alliance. [62] [63]

Thrace Edit

Siege of Eion Edit

According to Thucydides, the League's opening campaign was against the city of Eion, at the mouth of the Strymon river. [50] Since Thucydides does not provide a detailed chronology for his history of the league, the year in which this campaign took place is uncertain. The siege seems to have lasted from autumn of one year into the summer of the next, with historians supporting either 477–476 BC [54] or 476–475 BC. [8] Eion seems to have been one of the Persian garrisons left in Thrace during and after the second Persian invasion, along with Doriskos. [64] The campaign against Eion should probably be seen as part of a general campaign aimed at removing the Persian presence from Thrace. [17] Even though he does not directly cover this period, Herodotus alludes to several failed attempts, presumably Athenian, to dislodge the Persian governor of Doriskos, Mascames. [64] Eion may have been worthy of particular mention by Thucydides because of its strategic importance abundant supplies of timber were available in the region, and there were nearby silver mines. [17] Furthermore, it was near the site of the future Athenian colony of Amphipolis, which was the site of several future disasters for the Athenians. [15]

The force which attacked Eion was under the command of Cimon. Plutarch says that Cimon first defeated the Persians in battle, whereupon they retreated to the city, and were besieged there. [65] Cimon then expelled all Thracian collaborators from the region in order to starve the Persians into submission. [65] Herodotus indicates that the Persian commander, Boges, was offered terms upon which he might be allowed to evacuate the city and return to Asia. However, not wanting to be thought a coward by Xerxes, he resisted to the last. [64] When the food in Eion ran out, Boges threw his treasure into the Strymon, killed his entire household and then immolated them, and himself, on a giant pyre. [64] The Athenians thus captured the city and enslaved the remaining population. [50]

After the fall of Eion, other coastal cities of the area surrendered to the Delian League, with the notable exception of Doriscus, which was "never taken". [66] The Achaemenids probably recalled the Governor of Doriscus Mascames with his garrison around 465 BC, and finally abandoned this last Achaemenid stronghold in Europe. [67]

Skyros Edit

Following the action at Eion, and possibly in the same campaign, the Athenians, still under Cimon, attacked the island of Skyros. This was not an anti-Persian action, but a pragmatic assault on a native population that had lapsed into piracy. [19] [21] As a result of this action, the Athenians "liberated the Aegean", and they sent colonists to the island to prevent the island returning to piracy. [21]

Chersonesos Edit

Cimon returned a decade later to complete the expulsion of Persian forces from Europe. This action seems to have occurred concurrently with the siege of Thasos, and so is generally dated to 465 BC. [17] Evidently, even at this point, some Persian forces were holding (or had re-taken) some part of the Chersonesos with the help of native Thracians. [68] Cimon sailed to the Chersonesos with just 4 triremes, but managed to capture the 13 ships of the Persians, and then proceeded to drive them out of the peninsula. [68] Cimon then turned the Chersonesos (of which his father, Miltiades the Younger, had been tyrant before the Greco-Persian Wars began) over to the Athenians for colonisation. [68]

Asia Minor Edit

Once the Persian forces in Europe had largely been neutralised, the Athenians seem to have gone about starting to extend the League in Asia Minor. [51] [69] The islands of Samos, Chios and Lesbos seem to have become members of the original Hellenic alliance after Mycale, and presumably were also therefore original members of the Delian League. [70] However, it is unclear exactly when the other Ionian cities, or indeed the other Greek cities of Asia Minor, joined the league, though they certainly did at some point. [71]

Cimon's Eurymedon campaign itself seems to have begun in response to the assembly of a large Persian fleet and army at Aspendos, near the mouth of the Eurymedon River. [51] [69] It is usually argued that the Persians were the would-be aggressors, and that Cimon's campaign was launched in order to deal with this new threat. [16] [51] [69] [72] Cawkwell suggests that the Persian build-up was the first concerted attempt to counter the activity of the Greeks since the failure of the second invasion. [73] It is possible that internal strife with the Persian empire had contributed to the length of time it took to launch this campaign. [73] Cawkwell suggests that the Persian forces gathered at Aspendos were aiming to move along the southern coast of Asia Minor, capturing each city, until eventually the Persian navy could begin operating in Ionia again. [69]

Plutarch says that upon hearing that the Persian forces were gathering at Aspendos, Cimon sailed from Cnidus (in Caria) with 200 triremes. It is highly likely that Cimon had assembled this force because the Athenians had had some warning of a forthcoming Persian campaign to re-subjugate the Asiatic Greeks. [69] According to Plutarch, Cimon sailed with these 200 triremes to the Greek city of Phaselis (in Lycia) but was refused admittance. He therefore began ravaging the lands of Phaselis, but with the mediation of the Chian contingent of his fleet, the people of Phaselis agreed to join the league. They were to contribute troops to the expedition, and to pay the Athenians ten talents. [51] By capturing Phaselis, the furthest east Greek city in Asia Minor (and just to the west of the Eurymedon), he effectively blocked the Persian campaign before it had begun, denying them the first naval base they needed to control. [69] Taking further initiative, Cimon then moved to directly attack the Persian fleet at Aspendos. [51]

Battle of the Eurymedon Edit

Thucydides gives only the barest of details for this battle the most reliable detailed account is given by Plutarch. [13] According to Plutarch, the Persian fleet was anchored off the mouth of the Eurymedon, awaiting the arrival of 80 Phoenician ships from Cyprus. [51] Several different estimates for the size of the Persian fleet are given. Thucydides says that there was a fleet of 200 Phoenician ships, and is generally considered the most reliable source. [76] Plutarch gives numbers of 350 from Ephorus and 600 from Phanodemus.

Cimon, sailing from Phaselis, made to attack the Persians before the reinforcements arrived, whereupon the Persian fleet, eager to avoid fighting, retreated into the river itself. However, when Cimon continued to bear down on the Persians, they accepted battle. Regardless of their numbers, the Persian battle line was quickly breached, and the Persian ships then turned about, and made for the river bank. Grounding their ships, the crews sought sanctuary with the army waiting nearby. [51] Despite the weariness of his troops after this first battle, Cimon landed the marines and proceeded to attack the Persian army. Initially the Persian line held the Athenian assault, but eventually, as at Battle of Mycale, the heavily armoured hoplites proved superior, and routed the Persian army. [77] Thucydides says that 200 Phoenician ships were captured and destroyed. [52] It is highly unlikely that this occurred during the apparently brief naval battle, so these were probably grounded ships captured after the battle and destroyed with fire, as has been the case at Mycale. [76] According to Plutarch, Cimon then sailed with the Greek fleet as quickly as possible, to intercept the fleet of 80 Phoenician ships which the Persians had been expecting. Taking them by surprise, he captured or destroyed the entire fleet. [77] However, Thucydides does not mention this subsidiary action, and some have cast doubt on whether it actually happened. [76]

According to Plutarch, one tradition had it that the Persian king (who at the time would still have been Xerxes) had agreed a humiliating peace treaty in the aftermath of the Eurymedon (see below). [77] However, as Plutarch admits, other authors denied that such a peace was made at this time, and the more logical date for any peace treaty would have been after the Cyprus campaign. [78] The alternative suggested by Plutarch is that the Persian king acted as if he had made a humiliating peace with the Greeks, because he was so fearful of engaging in battle with them again. [77] It is generally considered unlikely by modern historians that a peace treaty was made in the aftermath of Eurymedon. [79] The Eurymedon was a highly significant victory for the Delian League, which probably ended once and for all the threat of another Persian invasion of Greece. [80] It also seems to have prevented any Persian attempt to reconquer the Asiatic Greeks until at least 451 BC. [81] The accession of further cities of Asia Minor to the Delian league, particularly from Caria, probably followed Cimon's campaign there. [82] The Greeks do not appear to have pressed their advantage home in a meaningful way. [83] If the later date of 466 BC for the Eurymedon campaign is accepted, this might be because the revolt in Thasos meant that resources were diverted away from Asia Minor to prevent the Thasians seceding from the League. [83] The Persian fleet was effectively absent from the Aegean until 451 BC, and Greek ships were able to ply the coasts of Asia Minor with impunity. [77] [84]

Egypt Edit

The Egyptian campaign, as discussed above, is generally thought to have begun in 460 BC. Even this date is subject to some debate however, since at this time Athens was already at war with Sparta in the First Peloponnesian War. It has been questioned whether Athens would really commit to an Egyptian campaign under these circumstances, and therefore suggested that this campaign began before the war with Sparta, in 462 BC. [85] However, this date is generally rejected, and it seems that the Egyptian campaign was, on the part of Athens, simply a piece of political opportunism. [86]

The Egyptian satrapy of the Persian Empire was particularly prone to revolts, one of which had occurred as recently as 486 BC. [87] [88] In 461 or 460 BC, a new rebellion began under the command of Inaros, a Libyan king living on the border of Egypt. This rebellion quickly swept the country, which was soon largely in the hands of Inaros. [89] Inaros now appealed to the Delian League for assistance in their fight against the Persians.

There was a League fleet of 200 ships under Admiral Charitimides already campaigning in Cyprus at this time, which the Athenians then diverted Egypt to support the revolt. [89] Indeed, it is possible that the fleet had been dispatched to Cyprus in the first place because, with Persian attention focused on the Egyptian revolt, it seemed a favourable time to campaign in Cyprus. [86] This would go some way towards explaining the apparently reckless decision of the Athenians to fight wars on two fronts. [86] [90] Thucydides seems to imply that the whole fleet was diverted to Egypt, although it has also been suggested that such a large fleet was unnecessary, and some portion of it remained of the coast of Asia Minor during this period. [86] Ctesias suggests that the Athenians sent 40 ships, whereas Diodorus says 200, in apparent agreement with Thucydides. [91] [92] Fine suggests a number of reasons that the Athenians may have been willing to engage themselves in Egypt, despite the ongoing war elsewhere the opportunity to weaken Persia, the desire for a naval base in Egypt, the access to the Nile's huge grain supply, and from the viewpoint of the Ionian allies, the chance to restore profitable trading links with Egypt. [86]

At any rate, the Athenians arrived in Egypt, and sailed up the Nile to join up with Inaros's forces. Charitimides led his fleet against the Achaemenids in the Nile river, and defeated a fleet consisting of 50 Phoenician ships. [93] [94] It was the last great naval encounter between the Greeks and the Achaemenids. [94] [95] Of the 50 Phoenician ships, he managed to destroy 30 ships, and capture the remaining 20 that faced him in that battle. [95]

The Persian king Artaxerxes I had in the meantime assembled a relief force to crush the revolt, under his uncle Achaemenes. Diodorus and Ctesias give numbers for this force of 300,000 and 400,000 respectively, but these numbers are presumably over-inflated. [91] [92]

Battle of Papremis (460 BC) Edit

According to Diodorus, the only detailed source for this campaign, the Persian relief force had pitched camp near the Nile. [92] Although Herodotus does not cover this period in his history, he mentions as an aside that he "saw too the skulls of those Persians at Papremis who were killed with Darius' son Achaemenes by Inaros the Libyan". [96] This provides some confirmation that this battle was factual, and provides a name for it, which Diodorus does not. Papremis (or Papremis) seems to have been a city on the Nile delta, and a cult centre for the Egyptian equivalent of Ares/Mars. [97] Diodorus tells us that once the Athenians had arrived, they and the Egyptians accepted battle from the Persians. At first the Persians' superior numbers gave them the advantage, but eventually the Athenians broke through the Persian line, whereupon the Persian army routed and fled. Some portion of the Persian army found refuge in the citadel of Memphis (called the 'White Castle'), however, and could not be dislodged. [92] Thucydides's rather compressed version of these events is: "and making themselves masters of the river and two-thirds of Memphis, addressed themselves to the attack of the remaining third, which is called White Castle". [89]

Siege of Memphis (459–455 BCE) Edit

The Athenians and Egyptians thus settled down to besiege the White Castle. The siege evidently did not progress well, and probably lasted for at least four years, since Thucydides says that their whole expedition lasted 6 years, [98] and of this time the final 18 months was occupied with the Siege of Prosoptis. [99]

According to Thucydides, at first Artaxerxes sent Megabazus to try and bribe the Spartans into invading Attica, to draw off the Athenian forces from Egypt. When this failed, he instead assembled a large army under (confusingly) Megabyzus, and dispatched it to Egypt. [99] Diodorus has more or less the same story, with more detail after the attempt at bribery failed, Artaxerxes put Megabyzus and Artabazus in charge of 300,000 men, with instructions to quell the revolt. They went first from Persia to Cilicia and gathered a fleet of 300 triremes from the Cilicians, Phoenicians and Cypriots, and spent a year training their men. Then they finally headed to Egypt. [100] Modern estimates, however, place the number of Persian troops at the considerably lower figure of 25,000 men given that it would have been highly impractical to deprive the already strained satrapies of any more man power than that. [101] Thucydides does not mention Artabazus, who is reported by Herodotus to have taken part in the Second Persian invasion of Greece Diodorus may be mistaken about his presence in this campaign. [102] It is clearly possible that the Persian forces did spend some prolonged time in training, since it took four years for them to respond to the Egyptian victory at Papremis. Although neither author gives many details, it is clear that when Megabyzus finally arrived in Egypt, he was able to quickly lift the siege of Memphis, defeating the Egyptians in battle, and driving the Athenians from Memphis. [99] [103]

Siege of Prosopitis (455 BCE) Edit

The Athenians now fell back to the island of Prosopitis in the Nile delta, where their ships were moored. [99] [103] There, Megabyzus laid siege to them for 18 months, until finally he was able to drain the river from around the island by digging canals, thus "joining the island to the mainland". [99] In Thucydides's account the Persians then crossed over to the former island, and captured it. [99] Only a few of the Athenian force, marching through Libya to Cyrene survived to return to Athens. [98] In Diodorus's version, however, the draining of the river prompted the Egyptians (whom Thucydides does not mention) to defect and surrender to the Persians. The Persians, not wanting to sustain heavy casualties in attacking the Athenians, instead allowed them to depart freely to Cyrene, whence they returned to Athens. [103] Since the defeat of the Egyptian expedition caused a genuine panic in Athens, including the relocation of the Delian treasury to Athens, Thucydides's version is probably more likely to be correct. [80]

Battle of Mendesium Edit

As a final disastrous coda to the expedition, Thucydides mentions the fate of a squadron of fifty triremes sent to relieve the siege of Prosopitis. Unaware that the Athenians had finally succumbed, the fleet put in at the Mendesian mouth of the Nile, where it was promptly attacked from the land, and from the sea by the Phoenician navy. Most of the ships were destroyed, with only a handful managing to escape and return to Athens. [98] Total Athenian casualties of the expedition totaled some 50,000 men and 250 ships. [104] [105]

Cyprus Edit

In 478 BC the Allies had, according to Thucydides, sailed to Cyprus and "subdued most of the island". [106] Exactly what Thucydides means by this is unclear. Sealey suggests that this was essentially a raid to gather as much booty as possible from the Persian garrisons on Cyprus. [107] There is no indication that the Allies made any attempt to actually take possession of the island, and shortly after they sailed to Byzantium. [106] Certainly, the fact that the Delian League repeatedly campaigned in Cyprus suggests that the island was not garrisoned by the Allies in 478 BC, or that the garrisons were quickly expelled.

The next time Cyprus is mentioned is in relation to c. 460 BC, when a League fleet was campaigning there, before being instructed to head to Egypt to support Inaros's rebellion, with the fateful consequences discussed above. [99] The Egyptian disaster would eventually lead the Athenians to sign a five-year truce with Sparta in 451 BC. [60] Thereby freed from fighting in Greece, the League was again able to dispatch a fleet to campaign in Cyprus in 451 BC, under the recently recalled Cimon. [27]

Siege of Kition Edit

Cimon sailed for Cyprus with a fleet of 200 ships provided by the Athenians and their allies. However, 60 of these ships were sent to Egypt at the request of Amyrtaeus, the so-called "King of the Marshes" (who still remained independent of, and opposed to Persian rule). [27] The rest of the force besieged Kition in Cyprus, but during the siege, Cimon died either of sickness or a wound. [108] The Athenians lacked provisions, and apparently under the death-bed instructions of Cimon, the Athenians retreated towards Salamis-in-Cyprus. [27] [108]

Battles of Salamis-in-Cyprus Edit

Cimon's death was kept a secret from the Athenian army. [108] 30 days after leaving Kition, the Athenians and their allies were attacked by a Persian force composed of Cilicians, Phoenicians, and Cyprians, whilst sailing off Salamis-in-Cyprus. Under the 'command' of the deceased Cimon, they defeated this force at sea, and also in a land battle. [27] Having thus successfully extricated themselves, the Athenians sailed back to Greece, joined by the detachment which had been sent to Egypt. [27]

These battles formed the end of the Greco-Persian Wars.

After the Battles of Salamis-in-Cyprus, Thucydides makes no further mention of conflict with the Persians, simply saying that the Greeks returned home. [27] Diodorus, on the other hand, claims that in the aftermath of Salamis, a full-blown peace treaty (the "Peace of Callias") was agreed with the Persians. [109] Diodorus was probably following the history of Ephorus at this point, who in turn was presumably influenced by his teacher Isocrates — from whom we have the earliest reference to the supposed peace, in 380 BC. [10] Even during the 4th century BC the idea of the treaty was controversial, and two authors from that period, Callisthenes and Theopompus appear to reject its existence. [110]

It is possible that the Athenians had attempted to negotiate with the Persians previously. Plutarch suggests that in the aftermath of the victory at the Eurymedon, Artaxerxes had agreed a peace treaty with the Greeks, even naming Callias as the Athenian ambassador involved. However, as Plutarch admits, Callisthenes denied that such a peace was made at this point (c. 466 BC). [77] Herodotus also mentions, in passing, an Athenian embassy headed by Callias, which was sent to Susa to negotiate with Artaxerxes. [111] This embassy included some Argive representatives and can probably be therefore dated to c. 461 BC (after forging of the alliance between Athens and Argos). [10] This embassy may have been an attempt to reach some kind of peace agreement, and it has even been suggested that the failure of these hypothetical negotiations led to the Athenian decision to support the Egyptian revolt. [112] The ancient sources therefore disagree as to whether there was an official peace or not, and if there was, when it was agreed.

Opinion amongst modern historians is also split for instance, Fine accepts the concept of the Peace of Callias, [10] whereas Sealey effectively rejects it. [113] Holland accepts that some kind of accommodation was made between Athens and Persia, but no actual treaty. [114] Fine argues that Callisthenes's denial that a treaty was made after the Eurymedon does not preclude a peace being made at another point. Further, he suggests that Theopompus was actually referring to a treaty that had allegedly been negotiated with Persia in 423 BC. [10] If these views are correct, it would remove one major obstacle to the acceptance of the treaty's existence. A further argument for the existence of the treaty is the sudden withdrawal of the Athenians from Cyprus in 450 BC, which makes most sense in the light of some kind of peace agreement. [78] On the other hand, if there was indeed some kind of accommodation, Thucydides's failure to mention it is odd. In his digression on the pentekontaetia his aim is to explain the growth of Athenian power, and such a treaty, and the fact that the Delian allies were not released from their obligations after it, would have marked a major step in the Athenian ascendancy. [63] Conversely, it has been suggested that certain passages elsewhere in Thucydides's history are best interpreted as referring to a peace agreement. [10] There is thus no clear consensus amongst modern historians as to the treaty's existence.

The ancient sources which give details of the treaty are reasonably consistent in their description of the terms: [10] [109] [110]

  • All Greek cities of Asia were to 'live by their own laws' or 'be autonomous' (depending on translation).
  • Persian satraps (and presumably their armies) were not to travel west of the Halys (Isocrates) or closer than a day's journey on horseback to the Aegean Sea (Callisthenes) or closer than three days' journey on foot to the Aegean Sea (Ephorus and Diodorus).
  • No Persian warship was to sail west of Phaselis (on the southern coast of Asia Minor), nor west of the Cyanaean rocks (probably at the eastern end of the Bosporus, on the north coast).
  • If the terms were observed by the king and his generals, then the Athenians were not to send troops to lands ruled by Persia.

As already noted, towards the end of the conflict with Persia, the process by which the Delian League became the Athenian Empire reached its conclusion. [62] The allies of Athens were not released from their obligations to provide either money or ships, despite the cessation of hostilities. [63] In Greece, the First Peloponnesian War between the power-blocs of Athens and Sparta, which had continued on and off since 460 BC, finally ended in 445 BC, with the agreement of a thirty-year truce. [115] However, the growing enmity between Sparta and Athens would lead, just 14 years later, to the outbreak of the Second Peloponnesian War. [116] This disastrous conflict, which dragged on for 27 years, would eventually result in the utter destruction of Athenian power, the dismemberment of the Athenian empire, and the establishment of a Spartan hegemony over Greece. [117] However, not just Athens suffered. The conflict would significantly weaken the whole of Greece. [118]

Repeatedly defeated in battle by the Greeks, and plagued by internal rebellions which hindered their ability to fight the Greeks, after 450 BC Artaxerxes and his successors adopted a policy of divide-and-rule. [118] Avoiding fighting the Greeks themselves, the Persians instead attempted to set Athens against Sparta, regularly bribing politicians to achieve their aims. In this way, they ensured that the Greeks remained distracted by internal conflicts, and were unable to turn their attentions to Persia. [118] There was no open conflict between the Greeks and Persia until 396 BC, when the Spartan king Agesilaus briefly invaded Asia Minor as Plutarch points out, the Greeks were far too busy overseeing the destruction of their own power to fight against the "barbarians". [108]

If the wars of the Delian League shifted the balance of power between Greece and Persia in favour of the Greeks, then the subsequent half-century of internecine conflict in Greece did much to restore the balance of power to Persia. In 387 BC, Sparta, confronted by an alliance of Corinth, Thebes and Athens during the Corinthian War, sought the aid of Persia to shore up her position. Under the so-called "King's Peace" which brought the war to an end, Artaxerxes II demanded and received the return of the cities of Asia Minor from the Spartans, in return for which the Persians threatened to make war on any Greek state which did not make peace. [119] This humiliating treaty, which undid all the Greek gains of the previous century, sacrificed the Greeks of Asia Minor so that the Spartans could maintain their hegemony over Greece. [120] It is in the aftermath of this treaty that Greek orators began to refer to the Peace of Callias (whether fictional or not), as a counterpoint to the shame of the King's Peace, and a glorious example of the "good old days" when the Greeks of the Aegean had been freed from Persian rule by the Delian League. [10]


Background

The Greco-Persian Wars had their roots in the conquest of the Greek cities of Asia Minor, and in particular Ionia, by the Persian Empire of Cyrus the Great shortly after 550 BC. The Persians found the Ionians difficult to rule, eventually settling for sponsoring a tyrant in each Ionian city. [24] While Greek states had in the past often been ruled by tyrants, this was a form of government on the decline. [25] By 500 BC, Ionia appears to have been ripe for rebellion against these Persian place-men. The simmering tension finally broke into open revolt due to the actions of the tyrant of Miletus, Aristagoras. Attempting to save himself after a disastrous Persian-sponsored expedition in 499 BC, Aristagoras chose to declare Miletus a democracy. [26] This triggered similar revolutions across Ionia, and indeed Doris and Aeolis, beginning the Ionian Revolt. [27]

The Greek states of Athens and Eretria allowed themselves to be drawn into this conflict by Aristagoras, and during their only campaigning season (498 BC) they contributed to the capture and burning of the Persian regional capital of Sardis. [28] After this, the Ionian Revolt carried on (without further outside aid) for a further 5 years, until it was finally completely crushed by the Persians. However, in a decision of great historic significance, the Persian king Darius the Great decided that, despite successfully subduing the revolt, there remained the unfinished business of exacting punishment on Athens and Eretria for supporting the revolt. [29] The Ionian Revolt had severely threatened the stability of Darius's empire, and the states of mainland Greece would continue to threaten that stability unless dealt with. Darius thus began to contemplate the complete conquest of Greece, beginning with the destruction of Athens and Eretria. [29]

In the next two decades there would be two Persian invasions of Greece, including some of the most famous battles in history. During the first invasion, Thrace, Macedon and the Aegean islands were added to the Persian Empire, and Eretria was duly destroyed. [30] However, the invasion ended in 490 BC with the decisive Athenian victory at the Battle of Marathon. [31] Between the two invasions, Darius died, and responsibility for the war passed to his son Xerxes I. [32] Xerxes then led the second invasion personally in 480 BC, taking an enormous (although oft-exaggerated) army and navy to Greece. [33] Those Greeks who chose to resist (the 'Allies') were defeated in the twin battles of Thermopylae and Artemisium on land and at sea respectively. [34] All of Greece except the Peloponnesus thus fell into Persian hands, but then seeking to finally destroy the Allied navy, the Persians suffered a decisive defeat at the Battle of Salamis. [35] The following year, 479 BC, the Allies assembled the largest Greek army yet seen and defeated the Persian invasion force at the Battle of Plataea, ending the invasion and the threat to Greece. [36]

According to tradition, on the same day as Plataea, the Allied fleet defeated the demoralised remnants of the Persian fleet in the Battle of Mycale. [37] This action marks the end of the Persian invasion, and the beginning of the next phase in the Greco-Persian wars, the Greek counterattack. [38] After Mycale, the Greek cities of Asia Minor again revolted, with the Persians now powerless to stop them. [39] The Allied fleet then sailed to the Chersonesos, still held by the Persians, and besieged and captured the town of Sestos. [40] The following year, 478 BC, the Allies sent a force to capture the city of Byzantium (modern day Istanbul). The siege was successful, but the behaviour of the Spartan general Pausanias alienated many of the Allies, and resulted in Pausanias's recall. [41] The siege of Byzantium was the last action of the Hellenic alliance that defeated the Persian invasion.

After Byzantium, Sparta was eager to end her involvement in the war. [41] The Spartans were of the view that, with the liberation of mainland Greece, and the Greek cities of Asia Minor, the war's purpose had already been reached. There was also perhaps a feeling that securing long-term security for the Asian Greeks would prove impossible. [42] The loose alliance of city states that fought against Xerxes's invasion was dominated by Sparta and the Peloponnesian league. With the Spartan withdrawal, the leadership of the Greeks now explicitly passed to the Athenians. [41] [42] A congress was called on the holy island of Delos to institute a new alliance to continue the fight against the Persians. This alliance, now including many of the Aegean islands, was formally constituted as the 'First Athenian Alliance', commonly known as the Delian League. According to Thucydides, the official aim of the League was to "avenge the wrongs they suffered by ravaging the territory of the king." [43] Forces of the Delian League spent much of the next decade expelling the remaining Persian garrisons from Thrace, and expanding the Aegean territory controlled by the League. [42]


Prelude

Once the Persian forces in Europe had largely been neutralised, the Athenians seem to have gone about starting to extend the League in Asia Minor. [44] [45] The islands of Samos, Chios and Lesbos seem to have become members of the original Hellenic alliance after Mycale, and presumably were also therefore original members of the Delian League. [46] However, it is unclear exactly when the other Ionian cities, or indeed the other Greek cities of Asia Minor, joined the league, though they certainly did at some point. [47] Thucydides attests the presence of Ionians at Byzantium in 478 BC, so it is possible that at least some of the Ionian cities joined the league in early 478 BC. [48] The Athenian politician Aristides was said to have died in Pontus (c. 468 BC) whilst on public business. Given that Aristides was responsible for organising the financial contributions of each League member, this trip may have been connected with expansion of the League into Asia Minor. [49]


Cimon's Eurymedon campaign itself seems to have begun in response to the assembly of a large Persian fleet and army at Aspendos, near the mouth of the Eurymedon River. [44] [45] It is usually argued that the Persians were the would-be aggressors, and that Cimon's campaign was launched to deal with this new threat. [14] [44] [45] [50] Cawkwell suggests that the Persian build-up was the first concerted attempt to counter the activity of the Greeks since the failure of the second invasion. [21] It is possible that internal strife within the Persian empire had contributed to the length of time it took to launch this campaign. [21] Cawkwell outlines the Persian strategic problems:

"Persia was a land power which used its naval forces in close conjunction with its armies, not free ranging in enemy waters. In any case, secure naval bases were necessary. In the Ionian Revolt with land forces already operating in Ionia and elsewhere along the Aegean seaboard, it was easy for a Royal army and navy to deal with the revolt, but in view of the general revolt of the [Ionian] cities in 479 BC and the subsequent successes of the Greek navies the only way for Persia must have seemed to be to move along the coast restoring order in city after city, with fleet and army moving together." [51]

The nature of naval warfare in the Ancient world, dependent as it was on large teams of rowers, meant that ships would have to make landfall every few days to resupply with food and water. [52] This severely limited the range of an Ancient fleet, and essentially meant that navies could only operate in the vicinity of secure naval bases. [53] Cawkwell therefore suggests that the Persian forces gathered at Aspendos were aiming to move along the southern coast of Asia Minor, capturing each city, until eventually the Persian navy could begin operating in Ionia again. [45] Alexander the Great would employ this strategy in reverse in winter of 333 BC. Lacking a navy with which to take on the Persians, Alexander settled instead for denying the Persian navy suitable bases, by capturing the ports of southern Asia Minor. [45]

Plutarch says that upon hearing that the Persian forces were gathering at Aspendos, Cimon sailed from Cnidus (in Caria) with 200 triremes. It is highly likely that Cimon had assembled this force because the Athenians had had some warning of a forthcoming Persian campaign to re-subjugate the Asiatic Greeks. Certainly, no other league business would have required such a great force. [45] Cimon may have been waiting in Caria because he expected the Persians to march straight into Ionia, along the Royal road from Sardis. [45] According to Plutarch, Cimon sailed with these 200 triremes to the Greek city of Phaselis (in Lycia) but was refused admittance. He therefore began ravaging the lands of Phaselis, but with the mediation of the Chian contingent of his fleet, the people of Phaselis agreed to join the league. They were to contribute troops to the expedition, and to pay the Athenians ten talents. [44] The fact that Cimon pre-emptively sailed to and captured Phaselis suggests that he anticipated a Persian campaign to capture the coastal cities (as outlined above). [45] The presence of both army and navy at Aspendos may have persuaded him that there was to be no immediate assault on Ionia. By capturing Phaselis, the furthest east Greek city in Asia Minor (and just to the west of the Eurymedon), he effectively blocked the Persian campaign before it had begun, denying them the first naval base they needed to control. [45] Taking further initiative, Cimon then moved to directly attack the Persian fleet at Aspendos. [44]


The Success of The Delian League

During the Persian wars, after the battle of Salamis victory, Ionian cities, including Athens, came together with a common goal, mutual protection, a military alliance against any enemy, including Perisian aggression. Their confederation was called the Delian League. They wanted to have the same friends as well as enemies 01 .

With their mighty naval power, Athenians held the leading position even though the power was decentralized equally by allowing one vote per member.

While Athens provided naval protection, those who couldn’t offer military support had to pay a monetary tax. This monetary tax helped Athens to expand its navy and improve its economy.

Athens continued to maintain and improve its massive navy, and league members could find protection for less than it would cost to preserve autonomous forces 02 .

For about ten years, the Delian league was unbeaten on defending themselves from Persian invaders and pirates. The league famously defeated a Persian army at the Battle of Eurymedon in 466 BCE. 01

But were they successful in keeping the peace among themselves?

The contributions in the form of monetary tax imposed by Athenians in return for military protection helped build an Athenian empire. Eventually, when Athenians moved the league’s treasury stored at the Delos island to their city, the financial and military power centralized to one polis making Athens stronger. However, not every member was content with this power shift. Some members wanted to leave the league. But Athens objected to that and destroyed their forts, making them vulnerable to an attack. 02

The Delian League broke up when Sparta captured Athens in 404. Athens lost her colonies and most of her navy and then submitted to the reign of the Thirty Tyrants. 01


Military conflicts similar to or like Battle of the Eurymedon

The Wars of the Delian League (477&ndash449 BC) were a series of campaigns fought between the Delian League of Athens and her allies (and later subjects), and the Achaemenid Empire of Persia. These conflicts represent a continuation of the Greco-Persian Wars, after the Ionian Revolt and the first and second Persian invasions of Greece. Wikipedia

The Greco-Persian Wars (also often called the Persian Wars) were a series of conflicts between the Achaemenid Empire and Greek city-states that started in 499 BC and lasted until 449 BC. The collision between the fractious political world of the Greeks and the enormous empire of the Persians began when Cyrus the Great conquered the Greek-inhabited region of Ionia in 547 BC. Struggling to control the independent-minded cities of Ionia, the Persians appointed tyrants to rule each of them. This would prove to be the source of much trouble for the Greeks and Persians alike. Wikipedia

Association of Greek city-states, with the number of members numbering between 150 and 330 under the leadership of Athens, whose purpose was to continue fighting the Persian Empire after the Greek victory in the Battle of Plataea at the end of the Second Persian invasion of Greece. The League's modern name derives from its official meeting place, the island of Delos, where congresses were held in the temple and where the treasury stood until, in a symbolic gesture, Pericles moved it to Athens in 454 BC. Wikipedia

Naval battle fought between an alliance of Greek city-states under Themistocles, and the Persian Empire under King Xerxes in 480 BC. It resulted in a decisive victory for the outnumbered Greeks. Fought in the straits between the mainland and Salamis, an island in the Saronic Gulf near Athens, and marked the high point of the second Persian invasion of Greece. Wikipedia

The second Persian invasion of Greece (480–479 BC) occurred during the Greco-Persian Wars, as King Xerxes I of Persia sought to conquer all of Greece. Direct, if delayed, response to the defeat of the first Persian invasion of Greece at the Battle of Marathon, which ended Darius I's attempts to subjugate Greece. Wikipedia

Fought between an alliance of Greek city-states, led by King Leonidas I of Sparta, and the Achaemenid Empire of Xerxes I. Fought over the course of three days, during the second Persian invasion of Greece. Wikipedia

Series of naval engagements over three days during the second Persian invasion of Greece. Fought between an alliance of Greek city-states, including Sparta, Athens, Corinth and others, and the Persian Empire of Xerxes I. Wikipedia

Ancient Iranian empire based in Western Asia founded by Cyrus the Great. Larger than any previous empire in history, spanning 5.5 e6sqkm. Wikipedia

The final land battle during the second Persian invasion of Greece. Fought between an alliance of the Greek city-states , and the Persian Empire of Xerxes I (allied with Boeotians, Thessalians, and Macedonians). Wikipedia

The Battle of Marathon took place in 490 BC during the first Persian invasion of Greece. Fought between the citizens of Athens, aided by Plataea, and a Persian force commanded by Datis and Artaphernes. Wikipedia

Prominent and influential Greek statesman, orator and general of Athens during its golden age, specifically the time between the Persian and the Peloponnesian Wars. Descended, through his mother, from the powerful and historically-influential Alcmaeonid family. Wikipedia

Ordered by the Persian king Darius the Great primarily in order to punish the city-states of Athens and Eretria. These cities had supported the cities of Ionia during their revolt against Persian rule, thus incurring the wrath of Darius. Wikipedia

Fought between Sparta as the leaders of the Peloponnesian League and Sparta's other allies, most notably Thebes, and the Delian League led by Athens with support from Argos. This war consisted of a series of conflicts and minor wars, such as the Second Sacred War. Wikipedia

One of the two major battles (the other being the Battle of Plataea) that ended the second Persian invasion of Greece during the Greco-Persian Wars. It took place on or about August 27, 479 BC on the slopes of Mount Mycale, on the coast of Ionia, opposite the island of Samos. Wikipedia

List of known wars, conflicts, battles/sieges, missions and operations involving ancient Greek city states and kingdoms, Magna Graecia, other Greek colonies , Greek Kingdoms of Hellenistic period, Indo-Greek Kingdom, Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, Byzantine Empire/ Byzantine Greeks, Byzantine Greek successor states of the Byzantine Empire, Kingdom of Greece and Greece between 3000 BC and the present day. === Helladic (Early Helladic (EH) and Middle Helladic (MH)), Cycladic and Minoan Period === Wikipedia


BCE 480-327

480 BCE Start of the second Persian war: Xerxes leads a huge combined land and invasion against Greece. At the Battle of Thermopylae, the Persian advance is delayed by the Spartans under King Leonidas I.

The Greek and Persian fleets battle inconclusively for two consecative days off Cape Artemisium. The Persians march south to capture Athens.

In the Bay of Salamis, Themistocles with an armada of 483 Greek ships with "Greek fire" ships ram into the larger Persian vessels, setting them on fire and winning the battle.


479 BCE Xerxes returns to Sardis leaving Mardonius in change of the army.

Mardonius conquers central Greece but is unsuccessful in gaining an alliance with Athens. He is killed and his army defeated at the Battle of Plataea.

The Greeks defeat the Persians again at Mycale, destroying the last of the Persian fleet.

A Greek fleet under Pausanias captures Cyprus, then sails to the Hellespont to seize Byzantium.

478 BCE The Delian League is founded to drive the Persians from previously Greek holdings in Asia Minor. A Greek fleet under the command of the Spartan General Pausanias, the winner of Platæa, takes Cyprus, then Byzantium.

475 BCE The city of Eion falls. Its Persian garrison were besieged since the previous year by the Athenians led by Cimon.

466 BCE Battle of Eurymedon. The Persians are defeated by Cimon of Athen in a naval battle off the Eurymedon River in Asia Minor.


465 BCE Artaxerxes becomes king of Persia after his father, Xerxes, is assassinated.

Themistocles accused of 'Medising' is given asylum in Persia.


460 BCE Athens supports a rebellion that captures Memphis, the capital of Egypt. The Persian garrison however holds out for 4 years until an army arrives from Persia. The Athenians withdraw to an island in the Nile and held out for two years.


Pericles becomes head of the Athenian State. Pericles preferred to make peace with Persians and oppose Spartans.

454 BCE Artaxerxes I reconquered Egypt.

450 BCE Cimon leads 200 ships against Persians in Egypt and Cyprus. Cimon dies in battle, no further large scale battles between Delian League and Persians.

448 BCE The Greco-Persian War came to end with the "Peace of Callias".

431 BCE War begins between Sparta and Athens.

424 BCE Death of Artaxerxes. Palace intrigues lead to the successive assassinations of two of his sons, Xerxes II and Sogdianos.

Eventually a third of his sons takes hold under the name of Darius II.

407 BCE Cyrus, younger son of Darius II, King of Persia, is named Satrap of Asia Minor in replacement of Tissaphernes. Cyrus is instructed to support Sparta and helps finance Lysander's fleet, eventually contributing to the victory of Sparta.

404 BCE Death of Darius II, king of Persia. He is succeeded by his son Artaxerxes II.

Sparta conclusively defeats Athens, and takes control of the Athenian State.

401 BCE Cyrus is killed by his elder brother Artaxerxes II at the Battle of Cunaxa near Babylon. Last mention of gerhon or spara shielded infantry in Persian army.

399 BCE Sparta sends forces to Ionia to protect them from Persians.

395 BCE Start of Corinthian War. Persians stir up Athens, Argos, Corinth & Thebes to revolt against Sparta.

394 BCE Persian fleet defeats the Spartan fleet off Cnidus and begin to overthrow Greeks from the Aegean.

390 BCE Rome is captured and burned by the Gauls under the leadership of the chieftain Brennius.

385 BCE Pelopidas leads an uprising in Thebes against the Spartans, supportedby Athens.


382 BCE Sparta invades Thebes.

371 BCE The Thebans,led by Epaminondas,conclusively defeat the Spartans, ending their domination of the Aegean altogether.

369 BCE Athens becomes an ally of Sparta against Thebes.

362 BCE The Theban general Epaminondas is killed at Battle of Mantinea.

359 BCE Phillip II is crowned king of Macedonia.


356 BCE Alexander III (the Great) is born in Macedonia, to Phillip II and Olympias.

359 BCE Death of Artaxerxes II, king of Persia at more than 90. After more palace struggle and assassinations, one of his sons, succeeds him under the name Artaxerxes III.

343 BCE Artaxerxes III reconquers Egypt


338 BCE Death of Artaxerxes III, poisoned by the eunuch Bagoas. He is succeeded by his son Oarses.

Phillip II of Macedonia decisively beats a comnbined force of Athenians and Thebens at the Battle of Chaironeia.


336 BCE Phillip II is assassinated. His son Alexander assumes the throne.

Death of Oarses, poisoned, like his father, by the eunuch Bagoas. He is succeeded by his cousin, a great-grandson of Darius II,who becomes king under the name Darius III.

334 BCE Alexander crosses into Asia at Gallipoli and defeats a Persian army at the river Granikos.

333 BCE Darius III of Persia is beaten decisively by Alexander at the Battle of Issus.

332 BCE Alexander besieges and then captures both. He goes on to conquer Babylon.


The Peloponnesian War, 431 - 404 BCE

Prelude and causes:
Formation of the Athenian-led Delian League in 477, initially as defense against further Persian invasions but soon as a tool for Athens to build an Aegean empire. Athens lays claim to the treasury of the League. Alienation between the Delian League and the Spartan-led Peloponnesian League, especially after the Delian League victory over Persia at the naval Battle of Eurymedon, which confirms Athenian control of much of the Aegean. Sparta faces a reduction of its population after an earthquake (466) and the Third Messenian War (464-455). Athens breaks off the anti-Persian alliance with Sparta, and concludes peace with Persia (Peace of Kallias, 448). Direct causes for the Peloponnesian War are the Megaran Decree (an Athenian economic embargo of Spartan-allied Megara), an Athenian alliance with Korkyra (an enemy of Peloponnesian League member Korinthos) and the Athenian siege of Poteidaia (a colony of Korinthos). At a conference, Korinthos summons the Peloponnesian League to take action against Athens.

431
Spartan king Archidamos invades Attike, laying waste to the countryside. In response, Athenian leader Perikles withdraws the rural population within Athenian walls and begins a policy of naval warfare against the Peloponnesos

430
Spartan forces again ravage the Athenian heartland, hoping to lure the Athenians into open battle but Perikles refuses, instead leading a naval expedition to plunder the coasts of the Peloponnesos again – A plague breaks out in Athens, killing some 30,000 people

429
The Athenians destroy Kydonia on Krete – Perikles dies of the ongoing plague in Athens and is succeeded by Kleon – Athenian defeat at the Battle of Spartalos

428
Mytilene on Lesbos revolts against Athens, but is crushed

427
Plataiai is destroyed by the Spartans and Thebans

425
Athenian forces capture and fortify Pylos on the Peloponnesos, giving them a foothold in the Spartan heartland – A Spartan army lands on the nearby island of Sphakteria but is trapped and forced to surrender – Sparta sues for peace after the humiliation at Sphakteria but Kleon persuades the Athenians to refuse

424
Failed Athenian attempt to capture Megara – A Spartan army marches through Thessalia to Chalkidike, obtaining the alliance of several cities (Stageira, Amphipolis, Torone, etc.) – Spartan capture of Amphipolis is a major Athenian setback – Athens captures and fortifies the strategically important island of Kythera, south of the Peloponnesos

422
Kleon resolves to retake Amphipolis but his army is routed and he is killed in the Battle of Amphipolis

421
Peace of Nikias: Sparta and Athens and most of their respective allies agree to a 50-year truce

420
Alkibiades is elected strategos in Athens

418
The Battle of Mantineia sees a major Spartan victory over Argos and its allies Mantineia and Athens, which has broken the Peace of Nikias at the bidding of Alkibiades – Alkibiades conceives the idea to send an expedition against Spartan-allied Syrakousai on Sikelia

416
Athens conquers the neutral island of Melos, killing all men capable of bearing arms and enslaving the women and children – On Sikelia, Athenian-allied Segesta calls for help against Selinous, an ally of Syrakousai – Athens prepares to send an expedition to Sikelia

415
The Athenian fleet under Alkibiades sets sail for Syrakousai – Alkibiades is accused of profanity and sentenced to death, causing his defection to Sparta – Athenian forces land on Sikelia – Alkibiades advises Sparta to send troops to Sikelia and to fortify Dekeleia in Attike

414
The Athenians move against Syrakousai

413
At the Battle of Syrakousai, the Athenian forces are killed or captured by Syrakousai and its Spartan reinforcements, constituting an immense loss of material and human lives for Athens

412
Persia sees a chance to reassert control of the Ionian cities of the Delian League – Sparta and Persia agree to a treaty: Sparta gives Persia a free hand in the Ionian cities while Persia pays for a Spartan fleet – Alkibiades helps to start anti-Athenian revolts in Ionia but antagonises the Spartan king Agis II and is forced to flee to the Persians – The Athenians vote in favour of rebuilding their fleet

411
Athenian democracy is temporarily overthrown by an oligarchic coup

410
Athenian naval victory at Kyzikos gives Athens once again control of the sea routes to and from the Black Sea which are vital for the grain supplies

409
Alkibiades captures Byzantion for Athens and gains control of the Bosporos

408
The Persians decide to continue their support for Sparta against Athens – Alkibiades enters Athens and holds a religious procession – Alkibiades is made supreme commander of Athenian forces and sets out for Samos

407
The Athenian fleet is routed by Spartan admiral Lysander at the Battle of Notion off Efesos – Alkibiades is stripped of his command

406
Athens replaces Alkibiades with a board of generals – Athens scores a victory at the Battle of Arginousai – Sparta again asks for peace, but Athens refuses – Persia demands that Lysander sail to the Hellespont

405
After the victory at Arginousai, the Athenian fleet sails to the Hellespont to face the Spartan fleet of Lysander, who destroys the Athenians at the Battle of Aigospotamoi – Lysander sails to Peiraieus and blockades the port while a Spartan army besieges Athens

404
Athens surrenders to Sparta – Athens loses all of its overseas possessions, the fortifications of the Long Walls are torn down, Athenian democracy is banned and Sparta installs the so-called Thirty Tyrants to rule Athens – Sparta wins the Peloponnesian War over Athens but the laughing third is the Persian Empire


EURYMEDON - 466 BC

Historical Background
The Greek victories at Plataea and Mycale in 479BC did not bring an end to Greco-Persian hostilities. The Greeks continued the war into Asia Minor, first under the leadership of Sparta, and when they withdrew from the fighting, Athens. The Athenians formed the Delian league consisting of those Greeks most threatened by the Persians.
In 466BC the Persians were gathering a fleet at the mouth of the Eurymedon river on the southern shore of Asia Minor, where they awaited reinforcement from a Cypriot fleet. Cimon, the Athenian commander of the Delian league forces, sailed his fleet to the Eurymedon in the hope of defeating the Persians before the Cypriots arrived. The Greeks won the subsequent naval battle and drove the battered Persian survivors ashore where they sought protection from an army commanded by Pherendates. Cimon did not want the Persians to recover from their defeat and so, even though his men were exhausted, he immediately landed his troops and marched along the shore to engage the Persians.
F. E. Ray estimates the Persian army consisted of 6,000 spearmen and archers, 3,000 Cabelee peltasts, 600 cavalry, and surviving marines from the fleet. The estimate for the Greeks is 6,000 hoplites, 2,000 marines, 800 archers, and light troops from the ship crews. The battle was a fierce struggle, but the more heavily armed hoplites prevailed before the Persian cavalry could turn the Greek flank, and the Persians were routed with heavy losses. This victory ended the Persian threat to Ionia and the Greek Islands, but saw the conversion of the Delian league into the Athenian Empire.
(Based on the book "Land Battles in 5th Century B.C. Greece" by Fred Eugene Ray.)
The stage is set. The battle lines are drawn and you are in command. Can you change history?



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