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War fought between Greek and Persian states (492-449 BC), over a period of almost half a century.During the two invasions Persia led against mainland Greece between 490 and 479, fighting was particularly intense.The Persian empire was at the height of its power, yet the Greeks survived seemingly impossible odds and were even able to liberate Greek cities on the outskirts of Persia itself.In the aftermath of the collapse of the Persian empire, the Greeks were able to preserve Greek culture and political structures.

Establishment and expansion of the Achaemenian Empire (559–500 bce)

Cyrus II founded the Achaemenian dynasty in 559 bce, and he spent the rest of his life expanding his empire, which extended from the Indus Valley to the Aegean Sea.As a result of the Persian defeat of Croesus of Lydia in 546, the small Greek states on the Asian coast were reduced piecemeal, while Sparta, the strongest state on the Greek mainland, lodged diplomatic protests.


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During his reign, Darius was responsible for consolidating and expanding the Persian Empire. .During the Conquest, conquered peoples paid tribute to the king and served him.As long as they obeyed their duties, they were generously treated - permitted to practice their own religion and govern their own affairs - but disobedience was harshly punished by massacre or deportation. .The Greek states of Asia Minor, Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Egypt all contributed to the navy.Persia's monarch possessed absolute authority in peace and war, but his absolute power was tempered only by the custom of consulting his Persian officials.


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The year 514 saw Darius preparing to conquer Europe.A Samian engineer was instructed to construct a pontoon bridge across the Bosporus after he made a reconnaissance by sea of Greece and Scythia.Persian marines constructed a pontoon bridge over the Danube that allowed the imperial army to cross eastern Thrace.Persians, probably in 513, advanced to what is now Ukraine.Scythians fled until Darius outran his lines of supply, then harassed his forces when he failed to return.Darius was dismayed with the news that the Scythians had cut the bridge over the Danube, but the Greek commanders in the Persian navy stayed loyal to Darius despite being asked by the Scythians to do so. However, some Greek states on the Bosporus and the Hellespont revolted at the news of his displeasure.The actions Darius took convinced him that a strong bridgehead was required in Europe.In addition to punishing the Greek rebels, his generals established a satrapy in southern Thrace which cut off the Scythians from their Spartan allies, and he also received the handover of Macedonia.By 500, the Persian navy had already reduced Lemnos and Imbros (Gökçeada), and it was preparing to attack Naxos, the strongest island in the Cyclades.This expedition was likely intended to pave the way for an invasion of Greece.