September 490 BC
by Major General Dimitris Gedeon, HEAR
Note: The term "Greek" and "Greece" are generally used when quoting other sources. In my own text I use, when appropriate, the terms "Hellas" for Greece and "Hellenes" for Greeks.
The period of Greek history between 492 - 479 BC is marked by «The Persian Wars». This was a period of contest between the city-states of Greece and the powerful Persian Empire. The Persian Wars had their roots in the expansion policy of the Persians. It was impossible for them to expand their empire eastwards (towards India) or beyond Egypt (because of the Libyan Desert) or towards the inhospitable land of the Scythes (northwards); therefore, their only choice was to advance westwards, towards the European Continent. Greece formed the main barrier the Persians had to overcome in order to achieve their objective, with Athens being their most decisive opponent in Greece.
The Persians were in need only of a pretext and Athens provided it in 500 BC when the Greek city-states of Ionia in Asia Minor, being part of the Persian Empire, revolted against the Persian rule. Athens sent twenty ships to their assistance while the small city of Eretrtia of Euboea island contributed with five ships. Initially, their efforts met with success and the insurgents managed to burn down Sardis, the capital of the Persian satrapy of Ionia, but they were soon defeated by the Persians. The news of some unknown city-states of mainland Greece providing their assistance to the insurgents made the Persian King, Darius, wonder “what kind of a city Athens was”! When he was briefed on those insolent Athenians, he became so angry that he fired an arrow skywards and vowed to punish them. His anger was such that every night, he had a servant repeat to him "Lord, do not forget the Athenians!"