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The Persian wars - opinion in Iran?

Apollon

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I would like to know how Iranians today think about this?

Why did Persia at the time think it can invade Greece and make it part of the persian empire? How did persia think this would work with a culture so fundamental different to Persia. Was the persian empire always overstretched at this time? When you follow the timeline, Marathon, Thermopylae, Salamis, Plataea...the persians got defeated again and again.First under their king Darius, later his son Xerxes, an endless line of defeats and the result was basicly that Persia left Greece alone. It laid teh foundation for Alexander the Great who destroyed the persian empire and made it part of the hellenic world.

In Greece we always learn our side but never Irans side. So i would like to know your opinion about this era.
 

QWECXZ

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I would like to know how Iranians today think about this?

Why did Persia at the time think it can invade Greece and make it part of the persian empire? How did persia think this would work with a culture so fundamental different to Persia. Was the persian empire always overstretched at this time? When you follow the timeline, Marathon, Thermopylae, Salamis, Plataea...the persians got defeated again and again.First under their king Darius, later his son Xerxes, an endless line of defeats and the result was basicly that Persia left Greece alone. It laid teh foundation for Alexander the Great who destroyed the persian empire and made it part of the hellenic world.

In Greece we always learn our side but never Irans side. So i would like to know your opinion about this era.
In Greece, apparently they always teach you your dreams of what you wish had happened. Greco-Persian wars ended in a peace treaty, called the Peace of Callias. Alexander the Great was not Greek. He was Macedonian. The Macedonians fought alongside the Persians in the Greco-Persian wars until they gained their independence from Persia. They were not Greeks and the thing that you think Alexander's invasion of Persia is a Greek achievement is far from the truth.

You were usually defeated. In comparison, the Persian withdrawal from your territory can be compared to the US withdrawal of Afghanistan. A much superior army left territories that it constantly meddled in their affairs because of the resistance by their citizens. And even after Alexander the Great, Persia defeated empires that Greece was part of, like the Roman Empire. See the capture of the Roman Emperor Valerian by Shapur I, for example. It's by far the most humiliating defeat of the Romans in their entire history. Your emperor was literally captured as a slave.
 

Apollon

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In Greece, apparently they always teach you your dreams of what you wish had happened. Greco-Persian wars ended in a peace treaty, called the Peace of Callias. Alexander the Great was not Greek. He was Macedonian. The Macedonians fought alongside the Persians in the Greco-Persian wars until they gained their independence from Persia. They were not Greeks and the thing that you think Alexander's invasion of Persia is a Greek achievement is far from the truth.

You were usually defeated. In comparison, the Persian withdrawal from your territory can be compared to the US withdrawal of Afghanistan. A much superior army left territories that it constantly meddled in their affairs because of the resistance by their citizens. And even after Alexander the Great, Persia defeated empires that Greece was part of, like the Roman Empire. See the capture of the Roman Emperor Valerian by Shapur I, for example. It's by far the most humiliating defeat of the Romans in their entire history. Your emperor was literally captured as a slave.

Thats not quite true, Macedonia was a greek kingdom like Sparta, Corinth ect. Alexander was Hegemon of the Hellenic league.


Persia lost all battles on the Greek mainland and all sea battles.

And dont forget that Alexander captured Darius III entire family at the battle of Issus.
 

QWECXZ

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Thats not quite true, Macedonia was a greek kingdom like Sparta, Corinth ect. Alexander was Hegemon of the Hellenic league.


Persia lost all battles on the Greek mainland and all sea battles.

And dont forget that Alexander captured Darius III entire family at the battle of Issus.

I wouldn't go as far as saying that Macedonia was a Greek kingdom. This is the composition of the Achaemenid army according to Wikipedia and the cited sources:

The empire's great armies were, like the empire itself, very diverse, having:[g] Persians,[166] Macedonians,[82] European Thracians, Paeonians, Medes, Achaean Greeks, Cissians, Hyrcanians,[167] Assyrians, Chaldeans,[168] Bactrians, Sacae,[169] Arians, Parthians, Caucasian Albanians,[170] Chorasmians, Sogdians, Gandarians, Dadicae,[171] Caspians, Sarangae, Pactyes,[172] Utians, Mycians, Phoenicians, Judeans, Egyptians,[173] Cyprians,[174] Cilicians, Pamphylians, Lycians, Dorians of Asia, Carians, Ionians, Aegean islanders, Aeolians, Greeks from Pontus, Paricanians,[175] Arabians, Ethiopians of Africa,[176] Ethiopians of Baluchistan,[177] Libyans,[178] Paphlagonians, Ligyes, Matieni, Mariandyni, Cappadocians,[179] Phrygians, Armenians,[180] Lydians, Mysians,[181] Asian Thracians,[182] Lasonii, Milyae,[183] Moschi, Tibareni, Macrones, Mossynoeci,[184] Mares, Colchians, Alarodians, Saspirians,[185] Red Sea islanders,[186] Sagartians,[187] Indians,[188] Eordi, Bottiaei, Chalcidians, Brygians, Pierians, Perrhaebi, Enienes, Dolopes, and Magnesians.[citation needed]

1633078411593.png

Macedonians used to be one of the main components of the Achaemenid empire times and times again. Also, see the Greco-Persian wars page on Wikipedia.

Belligerents
Greek city-states:
Other Greek states and Leagues:
15px-Standard_of_Cyrus_the_Great_%28White%29.svg.png
Achaemenid Empire of Persia
Allied subordinate states:

Unfortunately, I have learned from some of my online Greek friends that you guys (and also Westerners) think that history starts when your victories start and ends when your victories end. How do you think the Persians invaded all those territories in the first place if we hadn't defeated you? And the capture of Valerian by Shapur I is after the capture of Darius III by Alexander the Great. So, if you think that everything ended in your favor, you are ignoring a lot of details.
 
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TNT

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Greeks might exaggerate their victories but they did beat persians. But the worst defeat of persians were at the hands of arabs. They didn't have a chance infront of giants like Khalid ib walid RA and Saad bin abi waqas RA.
 

Foinikas

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I wouldn't go as far as saying that Macedonia was a Greek kingdom.
Macedonia was a greek kingdom. Many Greek city-States or regions were allied or under Persian control. Like the Ionian Satrapies for example.
Greeks might exaggerate their victories but they did beat persians. But the worst defeat of persians were at the hands of arabs. They didn't have a chance infront of giants like Khalid ib walid RA and Saad bin abi waqas RA.
You jumped like 900 years later.
Unfortunately, I have learned from some of my online Greek friends that you guys (and also Westerners) think that history starts when your victories start and ends when your victories end.
That's not true at all. Greeks have a lot of respect and no hatred for the Persians. We feel proud about the achievements of our ancestors but we don't have any hatred towards the Persians,who were a very sophisticated and developed civilization. Besides,our wars stopped in the early medieval times,when the Arabs attacked us.
Just like with the Italians of WWII,we brag about our victory against a stronger enemy,but still love them and respect their civilization.

@Homajon might want to add something on this thread maybe.
 
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Apollon

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I wouldn't go as far as saying that Macedonia was a Greek kingdom. This is the composition of the Achaemenid army according to Wikipedia and the cited sources:

The empire's great armies were, like the empire itself, very diverse, having:[g] Persians,[166] Macedonians,[82] European Thracians, Paeonians, Medes, Achaean Greeks, Cissians, Hyrcanians,[167] Assyrians, Chaldeans,[168] Bactrians, Sacae,[169] Arians, Parthians, Caucasian Albanians,[170] Chorasmians, Sogdians, Gandarians, Dadicae,[171] Caspians, Sarangae, Pactyes,[172] Utians, Mycians, Phoenicians, Judeans, Egyptians,[173] Cyprians,[174] Cilicians, Pamphylians, Lycians, Dorians of Asia, Carians, Ionians, Aegean islanders, Aeolians, Greeks from Pontus, Paricanians,[175] Arabians, Ethiopians of Africa,[176] Ethiopians of Baluchistan,[177] Libyans,[178] Paphlagonians, Ligyes, Matieni, Mariandyni, Cappadocians,[179] Phrygians, Armenians,[180] Lydians, Mysians,[181] Asian Thracians,[182] Lasonii, Milyae,[183] Moschi, Tibareni, Macrones, Mossynoeci,[184] Mares, Colchians, Alarodians, Saspirians,[185] Red Sea islanders,[186] Sagartians,[187] Indians,[188] Eordi, Bottiaei, Chalcidians, Brygians, Pierians, Perrhaebi, Enienes, Dolopes, and Magnesians.[citation needed]


Macedonians used to be one of the main components of the Achaemenid empire times and times again. Also, see the Greco-Persian wars page on Wikipedia.

Belligerents
Greek city-states:
Other Greek states and Leagues:
15px-Standard_of_Cyrus_the_Great_%28White%29.svg.png
Achaemenid Empire of Persia
Allied subordinate states:

Unfortunately, I have learned from some of my online Greek friends that you guys (and also Westerners) think that history starts when your victories start and ends when your victories end. How do you think the Persians invaded all those territories in the first place if we hadn't defeated you? And the capture of Valerian by Shapur I is after the capture of Darius III by Alexander the Great. So, if you think that everything ended in your favor, you are ignoring a lot of details.

Dear friend, im greek, not italian. The capture of valerian matters for me as much as the death of Darius III for a egyptian.

That said, you compared the end of the persian wars with the americans leaving afghanistan. But how is that possible, since the persian fleet got destroyed at Salamis and all persian land forces destroyed at Plataea, there was nothing left to leave Greece. That defeat was complete. Also Alexanders war against Persia later on was started by his father as punishment against the persians for burning the Acropolis.

Why you think this happened? Was the persian empire overstretched at this point?
 

Surenas

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You're wrong to claim with certainty that the Persians wanted to add 'Greece' - which as a concept didn't even exist at the time - to their own empire. You're are also wrong to imply that the Persians were entirely unsuccessful in their campaign against the Greek City States.

I've saved some comments on exactly this subject by ancient historian Dr. Roel Konijnendijk and some others:

When we're talking about the Persian Wars, we should always bear in mind that we're pretty much restricted to a single source. The only narrative account of the Marathon campaign and of Xerxes' invasion is Herodotos' *Histories*. This was written some two generations after the events; it is informed by the conventions of epic poetry; it also appears to have various agendas to push. We should be very critical of its claims, and bear in mind that we're reading the Greek perspective on the policy of an empire that was larger, wealthier and more powerful than the Greeks could properly understand.

This is particularly relevant when it comes to the Persians' motivations and methods in fighting wars. There's an excellent chapter in Van Wees' volume *War and Violence in Ancient Greece* (2000) in which J.E. Lendon points out that Herodotos seems to be judging the Persians entirely by Greek standards of interstate relations, and their focus on perceptions of honour and righteous retribution, apparently unaware that very different concepts were in play for a state so culturally different and so much larger than any Greek polity.

With all that said, let's consider the Marathon campaign.

After the final surpression of the Ionian Revolt in 494 BC, the Persians returned to business as usual, which meant a resumption of their expansion into the Aegean. In 492 BC, Mardonios led an expedition into Thrace, conquering Thasos and Macedon, before his army was destroyed by Thracians and his fleet was lost in a storm off Athos. In 490 BC, Datis sailed into the Aegean, conquered Naxos (which had been the aim of the aborted expedition that triggered the Ionian Revolt in 499 BC), and continued westward, seizing the whole of the Cyclades, invading Euboia, reducing Eretria by siege and razing it to the ground. He then landed at Marathon, but the sailing season was nearing its end, and after losing a single pitched battle and being pre-empted in an attempted landing at Athens he quickly withdrew his force to Asia.

The Greeks regarded this expedition as punitive, thinking the target was always Athens, and that the Athenian victory at Marathon infuriated Darius beyond belief. We have little reason to believe this was really the case. The campaign was, overall, a great success; almost the entire Aegean had become subject to Persia. Since the landing in Attika happened so late in the season, it is not certain that the Persians ever intended to capture and pacify the region, which would have been the first Persian stronghold on the Greek mainland. We don't really have any idea how many troops were landed, so we can't tell what they would have thought themselves capable of. Possibly they were looking only to scout or raid the area. Possibly they were hoping Athens and the rest of Greece would simply yield, as the Macedonians had done when Mardonios arrived in their lands.

However this may be, the point is that Marathon was unlikely to be regarded as a major setback. The failed hit-and-run invasion simply offered no plausible comparison for a full-scale fleet and army campaign against mainland Greece. In any case, its result was contrary to all previous experience. In the past, Persian armies had *always* defeated Greek forces. They won four separate field battles against Greek or partly Greek armies during the Ionian Revolt. Herodotos makes a point of mentioning how incredible it was that the Athenians even dared to stand their ground:

These are the first Greeks whom we know of to use running against the enemy. They are also the first to endure looking at Persian dress and men wearing it, for up until then just hearing the name of the Medes caused the Greeks to panic.

-- Hdt. 6.112.3

The Persians would not have thought that their methods were at fault after a single defeat in a battle they barely committed to. Rather, it would have seemed to them that where a small invasion force had failed, a full royal army would easily succeed.

---------

To properly answer this question, we have to actually ask ourselves what failures the Achaemenids actually experienced, as well as any general difficulties. The reason for that is that when treating Darius' and Xerxes' campaigns as failures they are often not examined in depth as to exactly what failed within them, what objectives were not met. I would argue that least initially, Xerxes fulfilled a number of his initial objectives. However, I would still call both expeditions failures, and through exploring that I think we can give a basis for an answer to your question.

The initial expedition began with occupations of Greek islands, along with a renewed presence in Thrace and Macedon. This was done without great difficulty. Darius also opened negotiations, given the strength of his position, but both Athens and Sparta killed his ambassadors. This then altered the original idea- initially a number of Greek cities were being punished for interference in the Ionian revolt, but after Athens and Sparta did such things their punishment was sealed. The full attack on Greece successfully attacked Naxos, pacified Delos, attacked Karystos on Euboea and made them capitulate, besieged and took Eretria on Euboea due to treachery, then landed at Marathon. There they were defeated; the disaster was not total, but it represented a halt to this expedition against the Greeks.

Now, it's worth pointing out that the Persians army had done a lot of what it sought to do- subjugating Greeks and enacting vengeance on states that had aided rebels during the Ionian War. Herodotus' numbers for the expeditionary force are never given, but his given numbers of triremes (600) would presume a force of perhaps 26,000 men at most which is a fairly reasonable figure. We tend to discard other ancient estimates of 200,000 men as ridiculous. Herodotus' own estimation of Persian casualties was around 6,000 men, which would be around a quarter of the army's strength or less. Modern estimates trend towards 4,000-5,000, which is a lower proportion still. In other words, the Persians did not actually lose many men. However, it is worth pointing out that 20-26,000 men is not an enormous army for the Persians- this has the makings of a reasonably well equipped and semi-professional expeditionary force, not the full royal army. It was no doubt expected to succeed in perhaps grander fashion, but we are not dealing with the full might of Persia concentrated against Athens. Athens and Plataea together put forth around 11,000 men onto the field by themselves, and you can plainly see that this force was always unlikely to conquer the whole of Greece by itself.

But this was still an embarassing setback. Perhaps Darius had indeed assumed that the expedition would achieve a much more comprehensive solution to his issue. Darius did not get the chance to try another attempt, dying within 4 years of the battle. Thus we pass to his son Xerxes' expedition.

The march across the Hellespont was totally unopposed, and supplies had been laid out for the expedition well in advance. For that initial 480 BC campaign season therefore, Xerxes was probably able to field anywhere between 150,000-200,000 men, and this *is* a flying-the-flag royal army. Whether we believe Herodotus that the King of Macedon warned the defending Greeks of them being overrun or not, Thessaly was abandoned by the Greeks defending against Persia and thus Thessaly submitted. Many cities, in fact, submitted to the Persians rather than fight them. However, Thermopylae caused the Persians a delay of several days- given how slow a march is with an army of that size, this was certainly not a desirable outcome for them. The Greeks, as it happens, could not afford to sacrifice an army of c.5,000 hoplites even in this cause; even after the pass bypassing the Greeks had been discovered, Thermopylae was actually fortified at both ends and could conceivably have held out a long time delaying Xerxes even further. But the Greeks would have certainly been lost there one way or another. So the Greek strategy of taking the Persians head on was extremely risky and had to be very carefully judged. The Persians, in this campaign, were also fighting Greek fleets- the Athenians and Corinthians both now had large navies, and by the standards of the day the Greek fleet actually put to sea was quite sizeable. Whilst Thermopylae was ongoing, the Greek fleet eventually fought the Persians at Artemisium, and whilst they gained no clear victory Herodotus does assert that they inflicted pretty much equal casualties on the Persian fleet. Nonetheless, the Persian occupation of Greek continued- Boeotia submitted, and those cities that did not were destroyed. Attica was next- Athens was razed to the ground, and now only Sparta of the two ambassador-killing cities remained standing. But it's not long afterwards that the battle of Salamis occured at sea, and the Persians lost. Again, this is not a total disaster- this is not the loss of the entire fleet.

However, this did represent a significant loss of sea power and a much lesser ability to protect the pontoon bridge that had enabled the crossing into Europe. It's also at this point that Xerxes and his army has to return. Now, the victory at Salamis is often cited as why, and I'm sure it certainly contributed. But even with the supplies being set out in advance, the Persian royal army could not remain in Greece indefinitely. The king most certainly couldn't- Greece was a frontier, not a capital, and even though the Empire could be governed in his absence he was still its epicentre. In addition, the army that Xerxes brought probably included a large number of additional levies who would need to be returned to the Empire. Not that they'd couch it in such terms, but the removal of so many from the Empire would have had a really massive impact on its economy, not to mention the continued expense of feeding, clothing, and partially arming the army. But even after this, most of Greece was pacified and/or submitted. Mardonius, remaining with a smaller occupation force, might well have been reasonably confident. The task was nearly complete. But he did not have the naval supremacy to allow a landing beyond the Isthmus wall that had been build to protect the Peloponnese, and the Greek allies were still mostly intact (by the skin of their teeth). His army was then defeated at Plataea by the largest force of hoplites yet assembled by a Greek army, some 40,000 hoplites of various origins, and the remaining Persian fleet was defeated at Mycale. The expeditionary force was removed, and Xerxes was (fairly justifiably) not seemingly in a mood to spend such effort on another ruinously expensive expedition to what was to him the frontier.

My main issue here has been to establish that actually on both occasions the Persians came close to achieving their objectives in the scope of the resources available on both occasions. However, you have to remember that to the Persians the Greek world was the frontier. It was thousands of miles away from Persia or any of the Persian capitals. It was also nowhere near as rich, developed, or strategically important as most of the Empire's active possessions. This was not Egypt where multiple expeditions could be raised to recapture it when it revolted. It is pretty much exactly the equivalent of the Romans constantly attacking the deeps of Germania- whilst expeditions occurred, they were certainly not constant. In addition, the Greeks facing Xerxes' expedition in particular made some wise choices- they preserved the core alliance rather than breaking up, they persevered despite in some cases exile from their own cities, their methods of warfare were still mostly unfamiliar to the Persians and well suited to their own home turf, they realised that naval power was deeply important to the conflict. They also avoided catastrophic defeats, along with open-battle confrontations with the full Royal army- their pitched battle at Plataea was against Mardonius' satrapal army, against which they could presume more reasonable parity.

I do not really think the Achaemenids performed poorly. I would however say that their resources were stretched purely attempting to operate in Greece- none of the carefully constructed administrative and logistical network of the Empire existed there, Greece was really not very rich in that era by comparison to the Empire or fertile for that matter, and the primary intention of the expeditions were to pacify a troubled frontier of the Achaemenid Empire. Their impetus for acting in Greece was the Greek interference in the Ionian revolt, and internal affair- you are not going to leave powers attempting to affect your own state's internal workings unmolested. Greece was never going to be the equivalent of Media, Babylonia, and Lydia- settled regions with much to offer the Empire, and importantly MUCH closer to the Empire's capitals.

I don't think that Greece was ever, in this period, a match for Persia. If they had really considered it worth their time, the Persians could have just simply sent invasion after invasion. It's important to remember that only one Persian expedition came over the sea, and it almost succeeded. I don't think the successful resistance of a Greek coalition (it was never *the* Greeks as many capitulated or sided with them, and indeed Herodotus says that the Persian army at Plataea had Greek allies) was inevitable. But I also don't think the Persians were ever prepared to send army after army for a frontier land of rocky shores, poor soil, mountainous terrain, and very little riches. The primary purpose had always been to a) pacify Greece and b) to enact punitive measures on the specific states that had been assisting the Ionian rebels in their revolt.
 

QWECXZ

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Macedonia was a greek kingdom. Many Greek city-States or regions were allied or under Persian control. Like the Ionian Satrapies for example.

You jumped like 900 years later.

That's not true at all. Greeks have a lot of respect and no hatred for the Persians. We feel proud about the achievements of our ancestors but we don't have any hatred towards the Persians,who were a very sophisticated and developed civilization. Besides,our wars stopped in the early medieval times,when the Arabs attacked us.
Just like with the Italians of WWII,we brag about our victory against a stronger enemy,but still love them and respect their civilization.

@Homajon might want to add something on this thread maybe.
I'm sorry if I gave you the impression that I think Greeks dislike Iran. I have never assumed that Greeks hate Persians. If anything, Greeks are one of the friendliest European countries towards us and Iranians think very highly of the Greeks as well. You may not believe it, but many Iranians felt for the Greeks when the country was going through an economic crisis. Iran and Greece have always had friendly ties in modern history. But I find it unfair that they think that history starts when your victories over us start and it ends with the conquest of Persia by Alexander the Great. I always think it's very selective and does not represent the truth at all.

Dear friend, im greek, not italian. The capture of valerian matters for me as much as the death of Darius III for a egyptian.

That said, you compared the end of the persian wars with the americans leaving afghanistan. But how is that possible, since the persian fleet got destroyed at Salamis and all persian land forces destroyed at Plataea, there was nothing left to leave Greece. That defeat was complete. Also Alexanders war against Persia later on was started by his father as punishment against the persians for burning the Acropolis.

Why you think this happened? Was the persian empire overstretched at this point?
Yes, but the notion of statehood has changed a million times throughout history. If it weren't for the establishment of the UN after the World War II, borders would continue to change much faster these days. Hypothetically, maybe a fascist Italian government would've invaded today's Greece. As a side note, do you know that Greece is called Yunan in Persian because of Ionia which falls in today's Turkey and is considered part of Anatolia? My point is that the notion of being Greek is not something fixed with a clear cut definition throughout history, as is the notion of being Iranian/Persian. At the time that we defeated the Roman empire, Greece was part of the Roman empire and the Roman empire was considered a continuation of the Hellenic world.

Well, it is historically true that as far as the Greco-Persian wars go, the Persians were aggressors and the Greeks were in the defending position. The Persians enjoyed a superior army that invaded parts of the Hellenic world for decades, over half a century. Obviously, decades of living together means that the Persian and the Greek culture were very close to each other than what you have assumed in your initial question. The Greeks eventually liberated those invaded areas and we reached a truce. Alexander the Great was born a century after the end of our wars anyway. Here's another example. The Spaniards and the Portuguese invaded parts of southern Iran in the 16th century and we liberated those regions. Which one do you think had a superior army? The Spaniards and the Portuguese that traveled thousands of miles to our shores and attempted to invade our southern borders in failure or the Iranians that fended them off?

As for why we eventually failed, civilizations and empires do not last forever. I don't know why, but they say that prosperity raises soft men. The Achaemenid empire had already reached its peak of glory and prosperity and after that we were declining. Just like the US that reached its peak after the World War II and is declining slowly now. Just like the Spaniards and the Portuguese that used to be capable of projecting power around the world but today they are hardly a regional power, let alone a global power. We went through the same phenomenon.
 

Foinikas

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But I find it unfair that they think that history starts when your victories over us start and it ends with the conquest of Persia by Alexander the Great. I always think it's very selective and does not represent the truth at all.
No,no that is a misconception. I don't know if someone told you that online or something. At school,I remember our history books starting from the Bronze era or something. The Dorians,the Minoan and Mycenaic civilizations,Athens,Sparta and then we go to the Persian Wars etc.
I don't know what kids are being taught now @Apollon could tell us,but back when I was at school,there was a lot of other stuff before the Persian Wars and Alexander's campaign.
 

Apollon

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I'm sorry if I gave you the impression that I think Greeks dislike Iran. I have never assumed that Greeks hate Persians. If anything, Greeks are one of the friendliest European countries towards us and Iranians think very highly of the Greeks as well. You may not believe it, but many Iranians felt for the Greeks when the country was going through an economic crisis. Iran and Greece have always had friendly ties in modern history. But I find it unfair that they think that history starts when your victories over us start and it ends with the conquest of Persia by Alexander the Great. I always think it's very selective and does not represent the truth at all.


Yes, but the notion of statehood has changed a million times throughout history. If it weren't for the establishment of the UN after the World War II, borders would continue to change much faster these days. Hypothetically, maybe a fascist Italian government would've invaded today's Greece. As a side note, do you know that Greece is called Yunan in Persian because of Ionia which falls in today's Turkey and is considered part of Anatolia? My point is that the notion of being Greek is not something fixed with a clear cut definition throughout history, as is the notion of being Iranian/Persian. At the time that we defeated the Roman empire, Greece was part of the Roman empire and the Roman empire was considered a continuation of the Hellenic world.

Well, it is historically true that as far as the Greco-Persian wars go, the Persians were aggressors and the Greeks were in the defending position. The Persians enjoyed a superior army that invaded parts of the Hellenic world for decades, over half a century. Obviously, decades of living together means that the Persian and the Greek culture were very close to each other than what you have assumed in your initial question. The Greeks eventually liberated those invaded areas and we reached a truce. Alexander the Great was born a century after the end of our wars anyway. Here's another example. The Spaniards and the Portuguese invaded parts of southern Iran in the 16th century and we liberated those regions. Which one do you think had a superior army? The Spaniards and the Portuguese that traveled thousands of miles to our shores and attempted to invade our southern borders in failure or the Iranians that fended them off?

As for why we eventually failed, civilizations and empires do not last forever. I don't know why, but they say that prosperity raises soft men. The Achaemenid empire had already reached its peak of glory and prosperity and after that we were declining. Just like the US that reached its peak after the World War II and is declining slowly now. Just like the Spaniards and the Portuguese that used to be capable of projecting power around the world but today they are hardly a regional power, let alone a global power. We went through the same phenomenon.

We learn all of history in school. It does not begin with the persian wars. It starts in prehistoric times. And i might add, our teachers dont portray persia as barbarians. My history teacher said it was a great civilisation like ours but fundamental different.
 

Surenas

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By the way, as stated in your opening post, Thermopylae was not a Persian defeat. On the contrary, it was a resounding victory. The Persians completely annihilated the Greek force at that site and even managed to kill the Spartan King (Leonidas).

As told by Dr. Konijnendijk:


2499 years ago, approximately #OTD, the pass at Thermopylai in Central Greece became the site of one of the most famous land battles in history. You've probably heard a bunch of tall tales about it. @reeshistory and I are here to tell it a little differently.

It was a heroic struggle and a moral victory for the Greeks: 300 Spartans gave their lives for the Greek cause, killing innumerable enemies and teaching the arrogant Persians to fear the indomitable hoplite phalanx. Right?

RIGHT???

Wrong.

"300 Spartans"? Nope. There were 1000 Spartans. Probably 300 of them were full Spartan citizens, the rest perioikoi (freeborn non-citizens). There were also an unknown number of helots (possibly thousands).

Still, the allied army was TINY. Less than 10% of their available strength. Why? Spartans claimed they had been told they were going to die. It was a sacrifice. But in that case, why send so many? And why ask allies to send the same share?

More likely answer: this was all they were willing to send. Spartans hadn't marched this far north in 40 years. They weren't keen. Their allies put them up to it. Their commander was king Leonidas, aged 60, and with no victories to his name.

Leonidas came to the pass, saw Xerxes' army, and thought, "yeah, all right, I might need a few more." He put out the call - but now the Karneia and the Olympic truce were in the way. No one would come from the Peloponnese for weeks. His army of 6-7000 would have to do.

Meanwhile, nothing says the Spartans used phalanx formations at this time. No ranks and files, no tight manoeuvres. No red cloaks or lambdas on their shields. Not yet! They were just rich dudes and their enslaved servants, all mixed together.

And the Persians? A world-conquering infantry elite, the only professional soldiers at Thermopylai. Armed to the teeth, armoured in scale cuirasses. Many of their allies had even heavier gear. What chance did the Spartans have? So they built a wall. (not this one.)

The Persians attacked this wall for a few days, skirmishing with the sallying Greeks. Stalling. They were waiting for the fleet to win the battle at sea (on which more later). They were waiting to clear the goat path that would turn the pass.

We're told a Greek traitor told them about the path. Really? The Persians knew how passes worked. They had plenty of local guides. They had the Thessalians, who had turned the pass before. They could ask anyone: "Hey, is there like a path around this thing?"

Night of the second day, the Immortals clear the path around this thing. Leonidas had sent 1000 Phokians to guard it, but they fold straight away. Terror? Treason? We'll never know.

The Persians make it down in the morning. Leonidas has lost. He decides to stay and fight. Herodotos leaves no doubt: it's not a rearguard action, not a sacrifice. He's a Spartan. He's just following orders. He can't think what else to do.

The Persians surround the Spartans, Thebans and Thespiaians and finish them off. It's a great victory. 4000 Greeks are dead; only 1000 Persians. That's what witnesses told Herodotos. He refused to believe them, and claimed Xerxes hid the rest of his dead.

Xerxes is triumphant. He has won his first land battle. His men dislodged a Greek army from the strongest position in their land and killed a Spartan king. His propaganda machine has a field day. The morale of his men soars. (Probably.)

The Greeks? Not so triumphant. Parts of Phokis and Boiotia are brutally sacked. Thousands of innocents are klled or enslaved. The allies mutter about Sparta's failure and defeat. The Athenians threaten to pack up and sail to Italy. The alliance is breaking.

Sparta stays quiet in the Peloponnese. To keep their hegemony, they have only one card to play. They say noble Leonidas and his 300 Spartans gave their lives for the Greek cause.

The rest is history.
 

Apollon

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By the way, as stated in your opening post, Thermopylae was not a Persian defeat. On the contrary, it was a resounding victory. The Persians completely annihilated the Greek force at that site and even managed to kill the Spartan King (Leonidas).

As told by Dr. Konijnendijk:


2499 years ago, approximately #OTD, the pass at Thermopylai in Central Greece became the site of one of the most famous land battles in history. You've probably heard a bunch of tall tales about it. @reeshistory and I are here to tell it a little differently.

It was a heroic struggle and a moral victory for the Greeks: 300 Spartans gave their lives for the Greek cause, killing innumerable enemies and teaching the arrogant Persians to fear the indomitable hoplite phalanx. Right?

RIGHT???

Wrong.

"300 Spartans"? Nope. There were 1000 Spartans. Probably 300 of them were full Spartan citizens, the rest perioikoi (freeborn non-citizens). There were also an unknown number of helots (possibly thousands).

Still, the allied army was TINY. Less than 10% of their available strength. Why? Spartans claimed they had been told they were going to die. It was a sacrifice. But in that case, why send so many? And why ask allies to send the same share?

More likely answer: this was all they were willing to send. Spartans hadn't marched this far north in 40 years. They weren't keen. Their allies put them up to it. Their commander was king Leonidas, aged 60, and with no victories to his name.

Leonidas came to the pass, saw Xerxes' army, and thought, "yeah, all right, I might need a few more." He put out the call - but now the Karneia and the Olympic truce were in the way. No one would come from the Peloponnese for weeks. His army of 6-7000 would have to do.

Meanwhile, nothing says the Spartans used phalanx formations at this time. No ranks and files, no tight manoeuvres. No red cloaks or lambdas on their shields. Not yet! They were just rich dudes and their enslaved servants, all mixed together.

And the Persians? A world-conquering infantry elite, the only professional soldiers at Thermopylai. Armed to the teeth, armoured in scale cuirasses. Many of their allies had even heavier gear. What chance did the Spartans have? So they built a wall. (not this one.)

The Persians attacked this wall for a few days, skirmishing with the sallying Greeks. Stalling. They were waiting for the fleet to win the battle at sea (on which more later). They were waiting to clear the goat path that would turn the pass.

We're told a Greek traitor told them about the path. Really? The Persians knew how passes worked. They had plenty of local guides. They had the Thessalians, who had turned the pass before. They could ask anyone: "Hey, is there like a path around this thing?"

Night of the second day, the Immortals clear the path around this thing. Leonidas had sent 1000 Phokians to guard it, but they fold straight away. Terror? Treason? We'll never know.

The Persians make it down in the morning. Leonidas has lost. He decides to stay and fight. Herodotos leaves no doubt: it's not a rearguard action, not a sacrifice. He's a Spartan. He's just following orders. He can't think what else to do.

The Persians surround the Spartans, Thebans and Thespiaians and finish them off. It's a great victory. 4000 Greeks are dead; only 1000 Persians. That's what witnesses told Herodotos. He refused to believe them, and claimed Xerxes hid the rest of his dead.

Xerxes is triumphant. He has won his first land battle. His men dislodged a Greek army from the strongest position in their land and killed a Spartan king. His propaganda machine has a field day. The morale of his men soars. (Probably.)

The Greeks? Not so triumphant. Parts of Phokis and Boiotia are brutally sacked. Thousands of innocents are klled or enslaved. The allies mutter about Sparta's failure and defeat. The Athenians threaten to pack up and sail to Italy. The alliance is breaking.

Sparta stays quiet in the Peloponnese. To keep their hegemony, they have only one card to play. They say noble Leonidas and his 300 Spartans gave their lives for the Greek cause.

The rest is history.

The rest is Salamis and Plataea, which was the complete destruction of all persian land and sea forces.
 
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Greeks might exaggerate their victories but they did beat persians. But the worst defeat of persians were at the hands of arabs. They didn't have a chance infront of giants like Khalid ib walid RA and Saad bin abi waqas RA.
Persians and Greeks were fighting to dominate each other.Here came Arabs and dominated both Greeks and persians .What a cool chapter of history!
 

Surenas

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In addition, your claim that the Persians henceforth left the Greeks alone due to the failures in their previous campaigns is incorrect as well.

The Persians were very much involved in Greek affairs, and played a decisive role in the Peloponnese Wars. Some Greeks at the time even accused the Spartans (ironically Persia's former adversary) of acting as a Persian proxy. A brilliant geopolitical play by the Persians that continued Persian rule over the Greeks.

Dr. Konijnendijk:

It is very difficult for us to judge Achaemenid Persian foreign policy and its motivations, because these things are almost exclusively described to us by Greeks. Even though some Greeks had access to the Persian court as agents, doctors or diplomats, and might even try to influence the Great King's decisions, they couldn't help frame Persian decisions in their own Greek-centred understanding of the world. As a result, it's hard for us to really know what the Persians aimed to achieve, and what means they had available to do so.

What did the Persians want? As a baseline throughout the Classical period, the Persians wanted a stable western frontier to their empire. This western frontier had at least 3 notorious trouble spots: Egypt, Cyprus, and the Greek states on the coast of Asia Minor. For most of the period of 480-334 BC, at least one of these regions was in revolt or under outside rule. Sometimes they were all causing trouble at the same time. This put a huge strain on Persian military resources and often forced them to prioritise ruthlessly and choose policies that would not seem optimal in better circumstances. In particular, they seem to have decided fairly early on in this period that the focus of their own military activity should be Egypt and Cyprus, meaning that control of the distant west had to be handled on a shoestring budget.

But, as John Hyland has recently argued in his excellent book *Persian Interventions* (2018), Persian activity in the Mediterranean was not just defensive. On several occasions they clearly went much further than they needed to in their support of Greek states, showing that they would not restrict themselves to the bare minimum that was required to maintain the status quo. Persian support for Sparta in the Peloponnesian War and for Athens in the Corinthian War went much further than simply balancing foreign powers against each other to allow Persia to keep control of the Greeks of Asia Minor.

Instead, these campaigns should be seen as active attempts to assert the Great King's ancient claim to world empire. Ideologically, the Persians claimed the right to rule the world, as ordained by the great god Ahuramazda. Their holy mission was to bring order and justice to all peoples. Within this ideology the existence of any autonomous state outside Persian control was unthinkable; it was a lie against divine truth itself. In practice, of course, there were hard limits to Persian power. But it was always justified for Persian kings to seek to assert themselves beyond those limits, and to seek power over peoples beyond the borders of the empire.

This is a long preamble to the actual answer, but it is relevant background when we come to the real question: was the apparently chaotic policy of playing off one Greek power against another an effective way to reach these goals?

It is crucial to understand that the Persians were not simply giving weapons (trireme warships) to random Greek states with a note saying "Have fun!" The changing relations between Persia, Sparta and Athens reflect the changing power dynamics and policies of those states as well as the situation in which the Persians found themselves at the time. Each of their decisions to back one Greek power against another makes sense in its specific context. But there is also an overall thread of Persian attempts to assert control over the Aegean, and in this, I argue, the Persians were largely successful.

First, after the defeat of Xerxes in 480 BC, the Athenians (with their own self-funded fleet) managed to strip away most of western Asia Minor from Persian control. The Athenians also campaigned extensively in Cyprus and Egypt. This was the first time the Persians had suffered a durable loss of control since the rise of their empire. They responded effectively, repeatedly reclaiming control over Cyprus and Egypt and probing Athenian control over the Greeks in Asia, but in the end they seem to have settled for stability over reconquest. The treaty they allegedly made with Athens in 449/8 BC has often been interpreted as a concession of permanent losses (ceding control over the entire coast of Asia Minor) but it is probably better understood from the Persian perspective as the incorporation of a "free" Athenian Empire as co-guarantor of peace in the West. In this state it was often unclear to which side specific states on the coast belonged, and some were apparently paying tribute to both. Persia was fine with this.

But the balance was upset when the Athenians lost half their fleet in Sicily in 413 BC and most of their subject allies revolted. Suddenly a gaggle of independent actors sprang up, fleets were sailing up and down the coast, lands were ravaged and cities sacked. In its search for new allies, the Athenians backed a rebel satrap in Asia Minor. The Persians had to step in to restore order. It is at this point that they decided to back the Spartans, build a fleet for them (which they lost), build another fleet for them (which they also lost), then build another fleet for them which they used to dissolve the Athenian Empire. This was not about establishing "balance" so much as it was about picking and cultivating a state across the Aegean that seemed more capable of securing what the Persians wanted, and earning its fealty in return.

The problem was that Sparta did not behave as intended. They backed a pretender rather than the rightful king, and they waged war on the Persians to secure the "freedom" of the Greeks of Asia (really, the better to rule them and levy tribute from them). For several years (399-395 BC) the Spartan Empire waged a desultory war on land against the Persians in Asia Minor. Artaxerxes II decided it was time for the Persians to get personally involved to restore order. The fleet he sent to confront the Spartan fleet (built by the Persians, but now rebellious) was their own, even if it was partly manned by Athenians and had an Athenian general named Konon as its second-in-command. This new fleet defeated the Spartans at Knidos in 394 BC, crushing all Spartan hopes of retaining an empire overseas, while an alliance of Greeks on the mainland kept Sparta busy there. But the Persians did not simply leave it there and reclaim control of Asia Minor. They actually crossed the Aegean, raided the Peloponnese, and helped Athens rebuild its walls. Again, they were offering real support for their ally beyond what they needed to secure their own aims.

Unfortunately, once again, things did not go as intended. When the Persian satrap Tiribazos suspected the Athenians of abusing Persian support for their own ends, he imprisoned Konon and secretly began to negotiate with Sparta. The Athenians were outraged, lost faith in their great protector, and began to look after their own interests in earnest. This involved two of the things that had previously made the Persians nervous: levying tribute from the Greeks of Asia and the islands, and seeking allies among local rulers who pursued policies independent of Persia. It was when Athens backed the rebellion of Evagoras of Salamis (on Cyprus) that Artaxerxes decided his former policy of using them as his agents had to be abandoned. They were now causing more trouble than they were worth. But since he now had to deal with a revolt on Cyprus on top of an already existing revolt in Egypt, it was impossible for him to commit Persia's own military might to settle the matter.

By now, though, the power of the Persians to tip the scales with money alone was abundantly clear, and the mere threat of it was enough to force the Athenians and the other Greeks in line. The Persians offered money to the Spartans to build a new fleet which would threaten Athens' lifeline - the grain trade through the Hellespont. Fighting this fleet would have been ruinously expensive for Athens, which was already financially on the ropes for having to wage its war without Persian aid. So this fleet decided the Corinthian War (395-386 BC) with a treaty that was effectively dictated by the Great King. He got to resume levying tribute on the Greek states of Asia Minor, and the rest of the Greeks had to reckon with the very real threat of Persian support for their enemies if they ever stirred up trouble again.

The method to this madness is hopefully clear. The Persians were prevented either by military defeats or preoccupation elsewhere from conquering the Greeks outright. But they were fine with this as long as they could maintain a network of client states that secured the stability of their borders. Every single instance of them supporting a Greek state with ships and money was a response to a momentary failure of that system, and an attempt to replace one leading client with another. For the duration of this strategy, it was mostly effective, because it maintained and even expanded Persian control in the region while preserving Persian manpower for campaigns elsewhere.

But the end of the Corinthian War shows that Artaxerxes was fed up with the unreliability of Greeks as agents of the peace he desired. Every time he backed one, it would go off the rails and attempt to establish an empire of its own, which caused instability. The King's Peace was a response to these repeated disappointments and an attempt to break the cycle. It declared that no Greek state could henceforth rule over another, and all must be free and autonomous. This prevented any Greek state from forming an empire that could destabilise the Aegean, as first the Athenians and then the Spartans had done. It proved extremely effective: the Greeks were permanently divided by this ideologically acceptable form of subjection to the will of the Great King, and Persia ruled over the Greeks in Asia until the rise of Macedon proved a destabilising factor of a whole new kind.
 

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