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Persian Wars In 519 BC Darius I ascended the throne of the expanding empire ofPersia A group of people called the Ionians lived along the coast of AsiaMinor They were under Persian rule having been conquered by EmperorCyrus ruled 550-530 BC and at this time were unhappy about theirconditions In 499 BC Aristagoras the leader Miletus one of the city-statesorganized a revolt of all the rest of the city-states along the coast Dariusmanaged however to subdue things in a five-year campaign After thislong sought victory Darius became bent on revenge against Athens one ofthe few states outside the area that had helped the rebles He appealed toSparta to attack Athens from behind but the Spartans saw straightthrough his planned conquest of Greece and threw his envoy in a well The Persian army then landed at Marathon in 490 BC The 10000Athenian infantry were supported only by a small group of soldiers fromPlataea Sparta procrastinated because it was in the middle of a festivalbut nevertheless the Athenians defeated the Persian archers and cavalrythrough a series of ingenious maneuvers Darius died in 485 BC before his plans for another attempt reachedfruition so it was left to his son Xerxes to fulfill his fathers ambition ofconquering Greece In 480 BC Xerxes gathered men from every nation ofhis far-flung empire and launched a coordinated invasion by army andnavy the size of which the world had never seen The historian Herodotusgave five million as the number of Persian soldiers No doubt this was agross exaggeration but it was obvious Xerxes intended to give the Greeksmore than a bloody nose The Persians dug a canal near present-day Ierissos so that theirnavy could bypass the rough seas around the base of the Mt Athospeninsula where they had been caught before They also spanned theHellespont with pontoon bridges for their army to march over Some 30city-states of central and southern Greece met
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