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The Greco-Persian Wars

The Greco-Persian Wars

Peter Green
Copyright Date: 1996
Edition: 1
Pages: 356
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt14btg30
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  • Book Info
    The Greco-Persian Wars
    Book Description:

    This is a reissue, with a new introduction and an update to the bibliography, of the original edition, published in 1970 as The Year of Salamisin England and asXerxes at Salamisin the U.S.The long and bitter struggle between the great Persian Empire and the fledgling Greek states reached its high point with the extraordinary Greek victory at Salamis in 480 B.C. The astonishing sea battle banished forever the specter of Persian invasion and occupation. Peter Green brilliantly retells this historic moment, evoking the whole dramatic sweep of events that the Persian offensive set in motion. The massive Greek victory, despite the Greeks' inferior numbers, opened the way for the historic evolution of the Greek states in a climate of creativity, independence, and democracy, one that provided a model and an inspiration for centuries to come.Green's accounts of both Persian and Greek strategies are clear and persuasive; equally convincing are his everyday details regarding the lives of soldiers, statesmen, and ordinary citizens. He has first-hand knowledge of the land and sea he describes, as well as full command of original sources and modern scholarship. With a new foreword,The Greco-Persian Wars is a book that lovers of fine historical writing will greet with pleasure.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-91706-4
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Maps
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xi-xii)
  6. INTRODUCTION TO THE 1996 REPRINT
    (pp. xiii-xxiv)
    PETER GREEN

    Of all the books I have written, this one is most closely and pleasurably linked in my mind with the physical and emotional experience of long-term residence in Greece. My biography of Alexander began in Macedonia but then took off for the East; my Sappho novelThe Laughter of Aphroditenever really moved beyond the magical ambience of Lesbos. But the history of the Persian Wars will for ever be associated in my mind with exploration, mostly on foot, of Athens, Phaleron, Piraeus, Aigina, Salamis, Marathon, Thermopylae, Plataea, Delphi, Cithaeron, Corinth, the Tempe gorge, the hill-track over Kallidrómos, the Isthmus...

  7. PREFACE AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xxv-xxx)
    PETER GREEN
  8. PART ONE DARIUS AND THE WEST
    (pp. 3-40)

    The great conflict between Greece and Persia – or, to be more accurate, between a handful of states in mainland Greece and the whole might of the Persian empire at its zenith – must always remain one of the most inspiring episodes in European history. As Aeschylus and Herodotus clearly saw (despite the obfuscations of national pride and propaganda) this had been an ideological struggle, the first of its kind known to us. On one side, the towering, autocratic figure of the Great King; on the other, the voluntary and imperfect discipline of proudly independent citizens. In Herodotus’s account, Xerxes’...

  9. PART TWO THE LEGACY OF MARATHON
    (pp. 43-72)

    Miltiades was the popular hero of the hour. All Athens rang with praise for his courage, foresight and generalship. On the other hand, Marathon seemed to affect Themistocles in the most peculiar way. He began to avoid company. He was no longer seen at nightly drinking-parties. He suffered from insomnia, ‘kept to himself and seemed completely wrapped up in his own thoughts’. When friends asked him what was the matter, he said ‘he could not sleep for thinking of Miltiades’ triumph’. Now Themistocles had as much driving ambition as the next man; but his remark hints at something more than...

  10. ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. None)
  11. PART THREE WAITING FOR THE BARBARIAN
    (pp. 75-106)

    By March 480 both the ship-canal through the Athos peninsula and the double bridge of boats across the Dardanelles were complete. Both were pilloried, with derision, by ancient writers as prime examples of Xerxes’ megalomania; both have been enthusiastically defended by modern military historians, who know very well what the Persian High Command was about. (Ask any transport officer, faced with a wide river, whether he would prefer one bridge, however primitive, or a fleet of boats, however numerous, when it comes to shifting troops – let alone camels, mules and artillery – up to the front in a hurry.)...

  12. ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. None)
  13. PART FOUR THE CORNER-STONE OF FREEDOM
    (pp. 109-150)

    The allied Greek fleet, with a total strength of 271 front-line vessels (as against the Persians’ 650 +), sailed for Artemisium late in July. By far the largest single contingent was that provided by Athens. In addition to a round hundred of Themistocles’ new triremes, the Athenians had equipped some forty-seven ‘graveyard refits’ as emergency support. Twenty of the latter were crewed by volunteers from Chalcis, and most of the rest by Plataeans: at a full complement of 200 men to a trireme [see above, p. 101], Athens was literally scraping the bottom of the barrel. (It is no coincidence...

  14. PART FIVE THE WOODEN WALL
    (pp. 153-198)

    When the news of Leonidas’s defeat and death reached Artemisium, Themistocles – who in the emergency seems to have taken over commandde jureas well asde facto– summoned his staff-officers to a conference on the beach. By now night had fallen. They assembled quickly, faces haggard in the lurid glow of the corpse-fires, while all around the local islanders – quick to scent disaster – were driving their cattle down to the water’s edge, ready for evacuation. On the main issue no argument was possible: the fleet had to pull out at once, under cover of darkness....

  15. ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. None)
  16. PART SIX THE DOORS OF THE PELOPONNESE
    (pp. 201-236)

    Xerxes and the Persian High Command realised the full extent of their defeat much sooner than the Greeks did: it may be that the wind which blew away so many wrecked vessels led Themistocles to underestimate his opponents’ losses. He was also, one suspects, taken in by the Great King’s calculatedly misleading activities on the morning after the battle. A great show of reorganisation went on among the Persian squadrons, as though for another naval engagement, while a large working-party was observed swarming over the still unfinished mole. It is sometimes assumed that these operations were genuine in intent; that...

  17. ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. None)
  18. PART SEVEN THE LAST ENEMY
    (pp. 239-288)

    While Mardonius was setting up his command headquarters on the Asopus, Pausanias, with exemplary Spartanpietas, was taking the sacrificial omens at the Isthmus. They proved favourable (what, one wonders, would have happened had they not?) and those Peloponnesian contingents so far assembled at once set out for their rendezvous at Eleusis, leaving late arrivals to follow on as and when they could. (Units were still streaming in when the Greeks took up their position on the northern slopes of Cithaeron; the contingents from Elis and Mantinea arrived when the battle was actually over, like Blücher after Waterloo.) If Pausanias’s...

  19. NOTES
    (pp. 289-302)
  20. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 303-314)
  21. SUPPLEMENTARY BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 315-330)
  22. INDEX
    (pp. 331-344)
  23. Back Matter
    (pp. 345-346)