5 Important Battles Of The Ancient Greek Wars

Ancient Greece was one of the greatest civilizations in history, dominating the Mediterranean region and the world for decades. In many ways, modern life is still heavily influenced by the Ancient Greeks. It was one of the world’s first democratic societies and paved the way for the structure of modern-day democratic governments. Additionally, it has inspired the world in other fields such as, but not limited to architecture, literature, and philosophy. Despite their positive impact on the world, Ancient Greece was also a kingdom which was heavily blighted by wars and conflicts. Read on to find out more about the five of the most important battles of the Ancient Greek Wars which altered the course of history.

The Battle of Marathon, 490 BC

This battle took place during Persia’s first invasion of Greece and was fought between the combined forces of Athens and Plataea against the Persian army commanded by King Darius. Despite being heavily outnumbered, the Greeks managed to emerge victorious after just five days. The Battle of Marathon was a significant one because it demonstrated that the Persians, whose military prowess was feared by many, could be defeated.

The Battle of Salamis, 480 BC

Another war that took place between the Greeks and the Persians was led by Darius’s son, Xerxes this time round. The battle was fought in the narrow strait which separated Piraeus from Salamis Island; the geographical location was unfavorable to the Persians as they found it hard to maneuver their ships. The Greeks capitalized on this, sinking, or capturing most of the Persian ships. This battle eventually led to the demise of Persia, and historians have contended that the Greeks’ victory was instrumental in the growth of Athenian democracy, which forms the foundation of many 21st Century democratic governments.

The Battle of Thermopylae, 480 BC

This battle was fought under the guidance of the Spartan King Leonidas, and its significance lies in the fact that it cemented the legendary status of the Spartan army in Greek history.

Knowing that they were heavily outnumbered by the Persians, Leonidas sent his troops to block the Persians’ only access route to the battlefield. However, the Greeks were betrayed two days later when a local resident informed the Persians about a secret passageway that led behind the Greek lines. Leonidas then quickly led his troops to confront the oncoming Persian army, and many died as a result. Despite Persia’s victory in this battle, the heroic exploits of the Spartan army have cemented their place in history. 

The Battle of Aegospotami, 405 BC

This battle was the last significant battle in the Peloponnesian War. The Spartan navy, led by the admiral Lysander, who is also the first Greek to whom the Greek city-states erected altars and made sacrifices to him as to a god, wiped out almost the entire Athenian navy. Only nine ships managed to escape. Nevertheless, the Athenians remained steadfastly loyal and refused to surrender, but were eventually forced to by the threat of starvation.

The Battle of Chaeronea, 338 BC

The significance of this battle lies in the fact that it resulted in the Greek empire’s subsequent rule under the Macedon King, Alexander the Great. Fought in 338 BC between the allied city-states of Ancient Greece and the forces of Macedon’s Philip II, the battle remained in a stalemate for months until Philip’s forces advanced into Thebes and Athens, defeating the Greek city-states. The whole of Greece then came under Macedonian rule for centuries.

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