The Persian Counter-Attack - 494 B.C.

After what had been some initial Ionian successes, the Persian war-machine lumbered into action. By 495 B.C. most resistance had been crushed. In 494 B.C. at sea the Ionian fleet met head on with the Persians in the Battle of Lade, resulting in the total destruction of the Ionian fleet.

The following spring the Persians fleet concluded its mopping-up operations. Chios, Lesbos, Tenedos and the Thracian Chersonese fell in turn. The cities on the eastern shore of the Dardanelles had already been recaptured, together with Byzantium and Chalcedon, which the Ionians had briefly held. All through the straits smoke curled blackly up from burning townships. Refugees fled everywhere - many of them to Siciliy and Italy. Young boys and girls were sent off to servitude as palace eunuchs and members of the Royal Harem. The Ionian Revolt was over, and the invasion of Greece had, by that fact alone, become inevitable.

Miltiades, became a refugee when the resistance collapsed. The Great King put a price on his head, and he only just escaped capture by the victoriaous Persian fleet. His son, in a following vessel, was not so lucky - at least, from the Greek viewpoint, since he was caught and treated humanely by his captors, and finally 'went Persian'.

King Darius was now in a position to apply economic presures on Athens. Now that the Ionian Revolt was over it seems that the king barred Athenian and Ionian shipping from the Black Sea, the grain-route. Ever since the failed Persian Scythian-expedition of 514/3 B.C. this had always been the main fear and now it was becoming reality. With a military invasion one could march out and meet the enemy with sword and spear. Famine was another matter. So any up-and-coming polititians who would be sure to gain a popular support was a man who somehow guaranteed Athenians their daily bread.

But where would bread by found? Clues can be found in archaeological digs around Europe. The main export for Athens was pottery, the main import was wheat. Shortly before the Persian Wars, Athenian pottery falls off to a trickle around the Persian dominated areas. Including, Egypt, Thrace, South Russia, Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean. However, around Sicily, South Italy and the Northern Adriatic there is an enormous increase of Athenian pottery, which reached it's peak around 450 to 430 B.C. Greek merchants now must of built up bigger trade-links with the West than any they had previously achieved in the East.

Now it was reaslied in Athens that economics was no more a do-as-you-please for merchants only, it rapidly acquired political importance as well. Athens life blood now depended on it.

Miltiades belonged to one of the most distingished families, the Philaids, was also a very obnoxious person, and in the eyes of the Athenians new-style democrats he would be seen as a tyrant. Even worse he owed his appointment in the Chersonese to Pisistratus and Hippias.

Even through there would be many against him, Miltiades fled towards Athens.


NEXT PAGE>>>Battle of Sepeia



'Histories' by Herodotus published by Wordsworth 1996

'The Greco-Persian Wars' by Peter Green published by University of California Press 1998




Copyright 2011 | All Rights Reserved