The Hellenic league had now been victorious in two major engagements of 479 BC, at Plataea on the Greek mainland and Mycale in Persian territory. This would effectively see the end of the Persian invasion, and the Greeks victorious. Though, this was not immediately apparent and measures would be taken in the years to come to make sure they would not return.
With the Greek victory, a responsibility to honour the gods that had assisted them needed to be attended to. One did not want to risk offending a god who had helped their city, or disaster could be just around the corner. The various polies would construct monuments and sanctuaries over the years after the victory to show their gratitude. At Delphi, a collective monument would be constructed that listed all of the Greek cities who had been the defenders of Greece.
Back on the ground in Greece after Plataea, mopping up operations continued as Pausanias camped with the army on the Boeotian plains outside of Thebes. His focus now shifted to having the city answer for their crime of Medizing. Operations would also continue off the coast of Anatolia, with the fleet now making for the Hellespont and clearing Persian garrisons on this vital trade route.
With the campaign season of 479 coming to a close the Greeks contingents would now make for the safe ports of their various city states and Islands. But this would not be the end of operations in the Aegean. This could be seen as the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. The decisions and events that would follow, would have ramifications for generations to come.Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/castingthroughancientgreece)
Victory in Greece
“at Plataea, when the Persians were routed by the Lacedaemonians, they fled in disorder to their camp and the wooden wall they had built in Theban territory. What really amazes me is that, though they were fighting beside the grove of Demeter, not one of the Persians was seen entering the precinct or dying there; for the majority of the Persians who fell that day died on the un-consecrated ground immediately surrounding the sanctuary. I assume, if it is necessary to assume anything about matters of the divine, that the goddess herself refused to admit them because they had set fire to her inner hall at Eleusis”.
Hello, Im Mark Selleck and welcome back to Casting Through Ancient Greece, episode 32, Victory in Greece.
We are now at a point where we have almost finished with the events of the first and second invasions of the Greek and Persians wars. Although to us the victories at Plataea and Mycale would seem to have ended the war, to the Greeks this was not so evident. Their actions in the Aegean and relations with each other, which we will see as we continue, would often be in response to the threat they saw the Persians still posing towards Greece. No formal peace was agreed to; the Persians would most certainly have not admitted to being defeated. As we will also see, these responses would have massive ramifications for relations and events within the Greek world, eventually ushering in one of the most violent periods in ancient Greece history to that point.
To the Greeks, they would have recognised the feat they had achieved at Plataea where they had finally defeated Xerxes land forces decisively. This would see the Persian army who had twice captured Athens and many other Greek city states, burning them to the ground, being put to flight. They had remained on Greek lands for almost 2 years undefeated. Granted their counterpart, the Persian fleet had suffered a disaster at Salamis which would weaken the army’s position, but they still remained a formidable force.
The Persian retreat would have been seen as the liberation of Greek lands from a foreign power and the greatest threat Hellas had faced in living memory and perhaps since the collapse of the Bronze Age. Although the Greeks saw their victory at Plataea as a monumental feat, described as the “Greatest Victory” by Herodotus, the Persians, on the other hand had not suffered a defeat on the same magnitude. Although still a defeat, the Persian Empire would remain intact and still as powerful as ever. In fact, it would be reasonable that Xerxes could portray the campaign as a victory to his subjects. He had defeated the Spartans and other Greeks at the pass of Thermopylae, killing a Spartan king in the process. He had captured Athens and burnt it to the ground, taking revenge for the destruction at Sardis. Also, he could claim to have added many more cities to his ledger who were to provide tribute to the empire. The military defeats did not need to be mentioned, it was the bigger picture that mattered. The campaign could be presented this way this subjects, though his commanders and advisors who were on campaign would know the true story. Persia would still go on to exert its influence into Greek affaires for decades to come. Persian gold would enter the treasuries of many Greek city states where it helping assist the Greeks fight one another.
If Plataea saw the clearing of the Persian forces from Hellas, Mycale would see the Greeks taking the war to the Persians. Mycale had been fought within the lands of the Empire on the coast of Anatolia, the victory here seeing the beginnings of a second Ionian revolt and the throwing off of the Persian yoke from many of the Aegean Islands. With the defeat of the second Persian invasion the Greeks now had to turn to important matters to help defend themselves from another invasion. Paying honour to the Gods who assisted in their victory over the Persians would be of the upmost importance to ensure they would keep favour with them. There was also the matter of the many Greek cities that had sided with Xerxes or medized, how would the victorious defenders of Hellas treat these traitors to their homelands. Lastly, the Greeks had come together under the Hellenic league in an attempt to defend Greece with some sort of unity, but as we have seen, the league threatened to collapse on more than one occasion. Attempts would now be taken to setup a league on a larger scale to prevent another incursion by the Persians and attempt to create a larger and stronger united Greeks alliance. As we will see as the series continues, this last measure would have extreme ramifications for all of Hellas.
Dedications to the Gods:
The influence the Greeks saw the gods having in their wars was taken extremely seriously, In Homers epic poem, the Iliad, we can see how they saw the tides of war and the fate of all involved tied up in the whims of these divine beings. Even by the stage of the Greek and Persians wars, centuries later, we have seen how the Greeks had viewed the divine intervening throughout the Persian invasions. Before the battle of Marathon in 490 BC, Pheidippides would encounter the god Pan on his run to Sparta. Pan would go on to insight panic amongst the ranks of the Persians at the Bay of Marathon once the battle took place. Before the Second Persian invasion many Greek city states would send delegations to the Oracle at Delphi to obtain prophesies from Apollo in how they should meet this threat. Athens received doom and gloom, until finally receiving something with some wriggle room. While Sparta received something of an ultimatum, their city only spared if one of their kings was killed. Though many other cities had also consulted Delphi for advice on the various courses of action they should take.
The gods in control of the winds would also assist in the defence of Greece, before the first invasion the Persian fleet was wrecked just off of Mount Athos. Then during the second Invasion Boreas the north wind would destroy a number of Persian ships before Artemisium. Once Athens had fallen to Xerxes and the Acropolis raised, Athena the patron goddess of the polis had shown she had not yet abandoned the city, with her gift to the city, the olive tree, sprouting a new chute the next day. These, plus many more examples show how the Greeks saw the gods assisting in the battles and their fortunes during the war. They would also be consulting the gods before making any decision to march or engage the enemy wanting a favourable omen before proceeding. Now that fortune had favoured the Greeks, it was now time to ensure that the proper respects were shown to the gods who had helped secured a Greek victory or risk angering them and some calamity that could follow. For anyone who has read Homers epic poems and are familiar with Greek mythology, you would understand how very fickle the gods can be.
As we have seen the Greeks after their victories would devote one tenth of any spoils of war that they would gather to show their appreciation to the gods. The offerings were usually taken to a shrine of a particular god who they had seen as being instrumental in their victory. Shrines would also be erected by cities so that gods that had not been a usually benefactor of a city could now be payed the proper respect. We see this happening with Athens and their reinvigoration of the worship of Pan after he had help them so much at Marathon. They would build a shrine to Pan under the Acropolis and annual offerings would be made to him for the divine panic he had spread amongst the Persians.
The Serpent Column:
Individual polies would usually make their own offerings to the shrines of gods they had seen as being instrumental in their victories. After Plataea the Greeks would make a number of offerings from the tressure that had gathered after the battle on behalf of all the victorious city sates who dared stand against Xerxes. A 15-foot-high bronze statue of Zeus would be made that was devoted to the gods at Olympia. While, sent to the Corinthian isthmus was a bronze statue 9 and half feet tall of Poseidon. Though, one more offering would be constructed from the melted down Persian weapons. This would be sent to the most holy site in all of Greece and devoted to perhaps the one god that the Greeks had seen as most responsible for their victory over the Persians. What was made was what is now called the Serpent Column; it was a bronze column in the form of three intertwined snakes, which stood about 26 feet high. The Serpent column can still be seen today, though it is on display in Istanbul, as in 324 AD, the Roman Emperor Constantine had it relocated to Constantinople in the Hippodrome. Today the top part of the 3 snake’s heads are missing, but it had remained intact up until the end of the 17th century AD.
On the column was recorded the names of all of the city states that had defended Greece, with Sparta, Athens and Corinth being listed as the top 3 polies. This, perhaps making us think twice about all of the slanderous reports of the Corinthians found throughout Herodotus account. But as we will see as the series continues, events preceding the Greek and Persian wars would see motivations to present various members of the Hellenic league in a bad light. A new era would emerge with new challenges and political realties that would see past events being revised to match these newer realties.
Memorials in art:
Not only did the Greeks pay resect to the gods for their victories over the Persians, but they had also paid respect to the Greeks that had fallen in the defence of Hellas. As we have moved through the Greek and Persian wars we saw how the Greeks had set up memorials to honour their dead. At Marathon, mounds with the fallen soldiers interned were constructed on the battlefield. At Thermopylae, an epitaph was placed on the site of the last stand to remained all those who read it the sacrifice made that day. These are just a couple of examples we have covered, but not all memorials were physical. We also have an artistic memorial to the men that had fought which survives to this day. A play named the Persians, written 7 years after the defeat of the invasion by a man named Aeschylus would glorify the Greeks victory at Salamis and memorialise those who fought their that day.
Aeschylus was a play write and it is thought he had written up to 90 plays during his life but only 7 survive intact to this day. He is also considered the “father of tragedy” as his works are the earliest examples of this new genre. The topics of most tragedies are concerned with events in mythical times, but the Persians is a rare example of contemporary events being the focus. Aeschylus had also been apart of the Greek and Persians wars, fighting at Marathon where his brother was killed and where at Salamis he had served aboard a trireme. He would then a year later also be in the Athenian lines at Plataea. Though, he would choose to use the battle of Salamis as the subject of his play the Persians. Probably not surprising since he was an Athenian and this was designed for an Athenian audience. Salamis had been considered by the Athenians as the most important battle of the Persian wars and the ones who had been most influential in obtaining victory there.
The play itself is told from the perspective of Atossa, Xerxes mother, who receives news back from Greece through messengers reporting on the war there. This is where the main narrative of events in Greece takes place. But we also get an explanation to why Xerxes failed when Atossa visits her dead husband’s, Darius’ tomb. Darius’ ghosts invokes that notion of hubris all to familiar to the Greeks. The play would win first place in Athens when it was first performed at the Dionysia, presumably to a very enthusiastic audience. The play, itself is not a literal history of the battle and it is quite clearly written with an Athenian audience in mind. I guess a helpful way to think about Aeschylus’ work is to think about today how history is told in the movies. The basic elements of the historical makeup are there but a healthy dose of drama and creative licence is also taken to appeal to the target audience.
Realities on the ground:
As we can see the victory at Plataea had marked a point that saw the defeat of the Persian invasion of Greece. Though, this was recognised in hindsight, with the memorials and dedications following in the coming years after the battle. At the time it wasn’t clear if the Persians would mount yet another invasion. The actions taken by the Greeks after the battle of Plataea and Mycale would show that operations continued to ensure the Persians were defeated and eventually this would change to an active policy of preventing any more Persian invasions. But first, the victories had not seen the Greeks pack up and head back home, they would continue mopping up operations in the aftermath of Plataea and Mycale.
We saw a couple of episodes ago with the victory at Plataea the Greek army remained in the plains around Plataea. Pausanias had arranged the gathering up of all of the tressure that could found in the Persian camp and on the fallen soldiers. There was also the matter of the burial of the Greek dead which would take place. These activities around the Boeotian plains would go on for some 10 days, before other matters would need to be dealt with. Looking across the plains, the city of Thebes would have been visible to Pausanias in the distance. They had been one of the largest city States in Greek lands to have cooperated with the Persians and had taken an active role in fighting against those cities that had defended Greek lands. It probably wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to suggest that in the aftermath of Plataea when one mentioned the term Medizer, Thebes would have been first thought of.
We need to keep in mind that Thebes was governed by an Oligarchy, with the rich noblemen in control of politics. Though it appears that factions had existed and there was an element within Thebes that was against cooperation with the Persians. We saw at the battle of Thermopylae, a contingent of 400 Thebans fought in the pass against the Persians. Herodotus has these men as being held as hostages and forced to fight, where they are then presented as surrendering to the Persians at the first opportunity. But there are also hints that these men were apart of the faction that opposed submission to Persia as suggested by Diodorus. The version in Herodotus’ histories may well be influenced by later political developments between Athens and Thebes.
With the Persians having withdrawn from Greek lands, the Thebans were on their own and Pausanias now 11 days after the victory at Plataea saw that it was time for them to answer for their actions.
The siege of Thebes:
In the Greek camp, Pausianias had held a conference where it had now been decided that a demand be put forward for the surrender of the leaders of Thebes who had been the driving force behind the pro Persian policy. If they refused then the city would be attacked and the city would be besieged to force them being handed over. The army would have been assembled and marched onto Thebes before the messengers demanding the leaders surrender went in. They would not have wanted to risk the ring leaders being able to escape without answering for their crimes. With the army now preventing any attempt of escape from Thebes the demands were sent in, though initially they were rejected. Pausanias’ army now established themselves for a general siege of the city and would now begin to ravage the country side around Thebes, where their farming lands would have laid. We are also told that assaults on the city walls were conducted, though presumably these were not successful as we don’t hear of the city falling. These activities would continue for some 20 days we are told until one of the leaders, Timagenides, proposed they surrender themselves. Herodotus has him presenting to the Thebans;
“The Greeks are determianed not to raise the siege until either the town is taken or you hand us over. Very well, then; Boeotia must not suffer any longer just because of us. If what they really want is money, and the surrender of our persons is only a pretext, then let us give them money out of the public funds - for it was with public approval that we joined the Persians; if on the contrary, it is we whom they want, we will give ourselves up to answer their charges”.
Though one must wonder how accurate this was, the line about public approval raises eye brows since the people had very little say on policy in an oligarchy. Perhaps the nobles were now looking to bribe Pausanias so as to avoid having to answer any charges. Though, with Thebes being the embodiment of the medizer, money wasn’t going to make this problem go away. Even if Pausanias was more interested in the money he could not accept the bribes without preventing his own downfall. Though, one must wonder if some money did make it into the pockets of the right person, as we do hear of another of the Theban leaders, Attaginus was able to escape. With Pausanias accepting nothing short of the Theban leader’s surrender they were now forced to accept. With the city under siege and their source of food destroyed or under Pausanias’ control, they may well have faced a very angry populace and the very real prospected of being lynched in the city. Surrender now seemed like their best option, perhaps while they waited for a trial they expected to take place, individual bribes would see them slip away from having to answer any charges.
Unfortunately for the leaders who handed themselves over no trial would take place, the emotions of their traitorous behaviour towards Hellas was still too raw. Pausanias would dismiss the majority of the leagues army, though one would imagine a small portion might have remained in Boeotia. The Thebans pro Persian ring leaders were now transported back to the Isthmus to the polis of Corinth where on their arrival Pausanias would see to it that they were executed for their crimes.
The council on Samos:
The Greek fleet that had defeated the Persians at Mycale would also remain on operations after their victory. The treasure had been collected and the Persian ships had been destroyed in a massive bonfire, most likely visible to the Ionians in Miletus. With this all taken care of, Leotychides now ordered that the Greeks sail back to Samos, the closest friendly port that could support their fleet. From here the commanders could convene on matters in the wake of their victory over the Persian fleet and how to proceed from here.
The first order of business had to do with the Ionians along the Anatolian coast line and who had been incorporated into the Persian Empire. The Persian grip on their cities had been severally weakened but for how long. Twenty years earlier they had gained what seemed to be their freedom but only after a few short years their revolt was crushed and many cities had suffered badly for their involvement. The Spartans and other Peloponnesians put forward a proposal that the Ionians be resettled back in Greek land on the other side of the Aegean. They added to this that they be resettled in the regions of those who had assisted the Persians during the invasion. This would allow the Persians to take back control of the Anatolian coast without further bloodshed. Their reasoning being that it was almost impossible to protect the Ionians from the Persian enacting vengeance once again for another revolt. They could then ensure the Ionians safety in lands they had firm control over. To guarantee the Ionians freedoms in Ionia would surly take up a large amount of resources, plus a commitment in men and ships that would see a great deal of their military strength deployed abroad on a continued basis. To the Spartans, this was not a desirable prospect, their army victorious at Plataea would soon be returning home along with the unprecedented force of helots that had accompanied it. Their resources were better spent in securing Sparta’s security against threats much closer to home. Also, the defence of the Ionians and their lands had very little economic advantage for the Spartans and other Peloponnesians. If anyone would benefit from the Ionians remaining in their lands it was the Athenians and they would argue against the proposal put forward.
The Athenians bitterly disagreed with this path forward in regards to the Ionians and reproached the Peloponnesians for interfering in matters regarding “Athenian colonists”. As you may remember, tradition had it that many of the Ionian cities had been founded by expeditions sent by the Athenians. While the Ionians and Athenians had much closer cultural and ethnic ties than that of the Doric Spartans. Many of the Medising Greek city states had been north of the Peloponnese, therefore much closer to Attic territory. Resettling the Ionians throughout these lands would completely change the regional dynamics. This potentially seeing the Athenians trade network with much more competition, as the Ionians were also built on a trading tradition. The Athenians also did not want to see the Anatolian coast and areas around the Hellespont depopulated of Ionian Greeks, as they had economic interests here. Their trade across the Aegean was one factor, but probably more important was their access to grain that had to travel through the Hellespont from the Black Sea. With the Persians firmly in control, the Athenians would be at the mercy of how the they would manage trade through the area. For Athens they had been steadily growing and had to secure grain from else where as their lands could not produce the amount and quality needed. For Athens to prosper this trade route would become more important than ever. Fortunately for the Athenians their vigorous opposition would see the Spartans and other Peloponnesians drop this policy regarding the Ionians in the end.
Also, while at Samos a number of other allies would be added to the leagues members. These were mainly the Islands in the Aegean close to the Anatolian coast who had assisted in the Greek cause in one form or another during the Persian invasion. Representatives from Lesbos, Chios, Samos and others had collected in the Samnian port where they would swear an oath to the common Greek cause. This would effectively see a belt of islands close to Ionian lands, and Athenian interests, being able to provide closer support and act as a first line of defence against any future Persian designs on Greek lands. Having this league with allies stretching this far from the mainland would also see the Greeks being in a position to respond to Persian aggression much earlier and not having to wait for them to arrive on their shores before acting. In the short term it would allow the Greek fleet to continue operating against the Persians all along the Anatolian coast with a greater degree of security, with friendly ports nearby.
It also appears that at this council on Samos, the Greek commanders had come to the decision to now sail for the bridges at the Hellespont. If you remember, the Athenians were adamant about undertaking this action after the battle of Salamis a year earlier. Themistocles had to convince his countrymen to dispense with this idea for the time being for the good of the league. With the Persian fleet no longer a threat and the Persian army back across the Hellespont in the Persian Empire, this was now a viable option for the other contingents. Remembering here, when first proposed the Spartans were very wary of cutting off the Persian army’s retreat, which would have seen them trapped in Greek lands. So, it was now decided that the fleet would set sail for the Hellespont with the intension of the destruction of the bridges there.
Greeks at the Hellespont:
The Greek fleet now headed north up between the Anatolian coast line and the Greeks islands off of the coast. Unfavourable winds seem to have caught the fleet at one stage in their voyage and they were forced to anchor at Lekton on the Anatolian coast, just north of the island of Lesbos. Once conditions were right and the fleet had all reassembled, they set off once again. The last leg of the voyage was much shorter with the Greeks making for Abydos, just inside the Hellespont.
As the Greek fleet sailed into the Hellespont and neared Abydos, they would have noticed that there were no great bridges stretching across the expanse joining Asia to Europe. What these bridges were meant to look like would have been in the imagination of each man as they all would have heard rumours and reports but they would have not seen them for themselves. One wonders if Leotychides and Xanthippos were unsure if they had received reliable information when they could not be seen. Were they even in the right spot where the bridges were constructed, or had they been built further along? Once in at Abydos it was confirmed that the bridges had once stretched from here but had been dismantled. Though, it also seems likely they would have learnt or at least heard rumours the bridges were no longer in place when they were at anchor in Lekton. Lekton was on the coast and would have most likely seen much of shipping that would have travelled the trade route that went through the Hellespont.
With the bridges no longer in place Leotychides saw this being the end of operations for the campaign in the Aegean. With the campaigning season drawing to a close he saw no reason to remain at sea, especially since the weather for sailing would only deteriorate from now. Perhaps the winds that forced them to Anchor at Lekton were the beginning signs that the best of the favourable weather for campaigning was now behind them. Plus, the Spartans had always been wary of conducting campaigns far from their home territory and the last time they had ventured this far from Sparta was nearly 50 years ago in their expedition against Samos, which did not end well for them. Now at this stage there was nothing in the Aegean worth keeping them and their Peloponnesian allies at sea, well for now anyway, as their absence would have consequences in regards to their leadership role within the league. With that they all sailed back across the Aegean to their home territories on the Peloponnese.
The Siege of Sestos:
The Athenians on the other hand had great economic reasons to remain in the area. As I have pointed out a large part of the wheat Athens required to feed it ever increasing population came from regions around the black sea. The trade route that linked the two ran right through the Hellespont, where currently the Persians could interrupt this flow of trade. The Athenians had their minds on securing this network and their food security. So, as the Spartans and other Peloponnesians sailed for home the Athenians began plans for reducing Persian control in the area. It appears the main garrisons were on the other shore of the Hellespont, on what is known as the Chersonese, or the European side.
Xanthippos now focused his planning on taking his Athenians across the Hellespont and focusing their efforts on taking the city of Sestos. Sestos was the main administrative centre of the region and saw the main Persian garrison being stationed there. Sestos was also the place where once Xerxes bridges had been dismantled the great lengths of cables constructed of flax and papyrus were taken to be stored. These, if the Athenians could get their hands on them would make for great trophies of the campaign. It also appears that once word had got out about the Athenians presence in the area the surrounding garrisons in the region made their way to Sestos since it had the most formidable defensive works. Though, no other preparations seemed to have been taken at Sestos, the intentions of Xanthippos does not seem to have travelled outside of the Athenian camp. Herodotus tells us that Artayktes was “a terrible man”, supposedly having deceived Xerxes during the campaign to further his own wealth and had committed acts of pollution in shrines in the region. One feels Herodotus pointing this out helps lead into a justified sense of the fate that would await Artayktes, which we will get to.
Xanthippos lead the Greek fleet over the Hellespont and made for Sestos where the Persian forces had been assembling. Apart from this extra influx of men into the city, Artayktes appears to have been caught off guard with him not having made any other preparations for the defence of Sestos. As the Greeks arrived on shore, the Persian garrison fell back within the defensive walls and now readied themselves as best they could to withstand a siege. Even with the poor planning by Artayktes the Athenians would be denied access to Sestos well into Autumn, with the men suffering great hardship. Moral also appears to have suffered a great deal among the ranks as they had expected a quick operation before being able to return back to Athens. The situation wasn’t to the extent where mutiny would threaten the operation. The Athenian generals were able to refuse the demands of abandoning the siege, telling the men they would remain until either the city fall or Athens had recalled them. Though, the Persian defenders were in more dire straits. The major issue of being caught unprepared for a siege would have seen the defenders not having collected enough food and fresh water to support the garrison for a prolonged period. To further add stress to the situation the city was also supporting a larger population than intended with smaller garrisons converging on Sestos. Herodotus tells us that they were soon reduced to “… boiling and eating the leather straps of their beds”.
With the situation as bad as it was in Sestos it would seem the garrison were on the verge of mutiny as Artayktes and his entourage now planned to slip out of the city, leaving it to its fate. They had found a point at the rear of the city where the Athenian lines were the weakest and escaped under the cover of darkness. Once the day had dawned and the garrison had become aware of what happened all motivation for resistance disappeared with Artayktes and his loyalists. The Athenians were informed of what had taken place over the night and the gates of Sestos were opened to them.
Part of the Athenian force now entered Sestos to take control of the city, while the great part of the force went in pursuit of the fugitives. The Persians who had escaped broke off into two groups, the first all being killed by the Thracians as they headed north out of the Chersonese. The other, headed by Artayktes, had left Sestos later than the first and were eventually overtaken by the Athenians in pursuit on the coast near Aegospotami. A short fight developed as the Persians attempted to defend themselves, but many of the Persians were killed, the survivors captured and taken back to Sestos. Artayktes attempted to bribe Xanthippos for his and his son’s freedom, as he was very concerned at his fate, due to his behaviour towards the local Chersonese and their shrines. Xanthippos refused Artayktes offer and now took him south of Sestos where the local population would crucify him but not before having him witness the death of his son by stoning.
The campaigning season was now drawing to a close; the Athenians had cleared the Chersonese of the Persian garrisons, helping see Athenian trade being able to flow more freely through the Hellespont for the time being. Xanthippos, seeing the Athenians moral tested during the operations in the Hellespont decided it was now a good time take the fleet back to Athens. They may not have had the satisfaction of destroying Xerxes bridges across the Hellespont but they would return to Greece with a trophy for their efforts, the giant papyrus and flax cables that had held the bridges together. On their return the Athenians would dedicate these to their temples, giving thanks to the gods who had been so instrumental in their victories during the defence of Greece.
Though, with the victory over the Persians on Greek soil and the successes across the Aegean, the story dose not end with a happily ever after. Events would continue in and around the Aegean as a result of the Persian invasions. The campaign in Anatolia and the Hellespont, had marked a transition in the Greek in Persian wars. Hellas had now been defended and the Greeks had taken the war to the Persians themselves.
It has become clear over the episodes that the wars against the Persians were a defining moment in the minds of the Greeks. It would come to define a generation and would shape Greek affaires and history for time to come. The victory was seen as a monumental event and was celebrated and remembered as such. But, how did the Greek victory effect the Persians and what was the impact of the defeat that they suffered. This balance of victory and defeat would not be a zero sum game. Next episode we will turn to looking at the possible motivations the Persians had during the invasions and why they acted as they did. We will also look at what their defeat meant to the Empire and how they may have viewed the outcome. Finally, we will then turn to reasons that may explain the Persians defeats in the various battles and the war overall.
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I hope you can join me next time for episode 33, Persia in defeat
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