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The Battle of Marathon

 
   
 
The Persians knew a lot about Athens and the best way to attack Athens from the exiled Athenian tyrant Hippias, who was living at the court of Darius now. Hippias was angry that the Athenians had thrown him out, and he was hoping to get back into power in Athens with Persian help.
By the fall of 490 BC the Persians were ready. The Persian ships, carrying the cavalry, sailed over to Greece, looting islands on the way. Their first stop was to take Eretria, on the island of Euboea (you-BEE-ah). When the Persians got to Eretria, the people all went inside their walls and shut the big city gates. Usually at this time people were pretty safe once they were inside their walls. The Persians didn’t have any weapons that could break down strong stone walls. But some of the Eretrians were afraid of the Persians anyway, and one of them opened a back door for the Persians in the middle of the night, and so the Persian army got in and took over Eretria through this treachery.
Now that the Persians had a good base at Eretria, they sailed over to Attica (the territory of Athens). Hippias advised them to land at Marathon, 25 miles from Athens. This is where Hippias’ father Pisistratus had landed in 546 BC — Hippias may have hoped that the people who lived near Marathon would help him get back into power. But in any case it was one of the few places in Attica where there was pasture for the Persian horses in the fall.
During the battle of Marathon, as the Persians attacked, Pheidippides ran the distance from Marathon to Athens, to ask for help. Eventually, as the Persians were defeated, Pheidippides become a legend by running again from Marathon to Athens to announce the victory over the enemies and collapsing dead from the fatigue of the race. This is the narration of the battle as written by Greek author Herodotus in the mid-fifth century BC.

 
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