‘Naval Gazing’[footnoteRef:1] [1: I asked Mr. Tidey for a title and this was what I got.]
Assess the importance of the navy to both Persia and Greece in this period (2000-2500 words).
Within the period of 500-440 BC naval operations became critical to ensure the expansion of Persia and defence of Greece. Persia’s aim to control the Aegean at this time resulted in numerous naval escapades, including Mardonius’ Campaign, the passage for The Battle of Marathon, The Battle of Artemisium and the Battle of Salamis. For the Greeks their navy served as the central line of defence against Persian invaders and it is arguably through effective naval tactics that they were able to deflect Persia. In later years it was with triremes that Athens strengthened the Delian League and ultimately emerged as a power in the ancient world.
In this century Persia and Greece notably came into conflict in 499 BC through the Ionian Revolt. This was the rebellion of the Greek cities along the coast of Asia Minor against their Persian overlords. According to Herodotus this revolt was due to the ambition of the satrap of Miletus, Aristagoras,[footnoteRef:2] but other underlying causes ranged from a loss of autonomy to the shifting political attitudes of Greek poleis.[footnoteRef:3] The naval component of the Ionian Revolt came into play when Aristagoras, as stated by Herodotus, travelled to Greece requesting for them “to save from slavery [their] Ionian kinsmen.”[footnoteRef:4] Sparta rejected the idea, but Athens sent twenty triremes and Eretria dispatched five, this was allegedly “the beginning of trouble for both the Greeks and the Barbarians.” 3 The revolt spread throughout the Ionian world as many cities rejected Persian rule, climaxing in the siege of Miletus (494 BC) when the Persian fleet of six-hundred ships blockaded the city. The combined Greek navy of three-hundred-and-fifty ships assumed positions off the island of Lade, but the battle proved disastrous for the Greek fleet, with ships from various islands deserting the main force. The city was sacked and the revolt faltered due to the stronger navy of Persia. The Phoenician contingent then seized the Hellespont and Darius vowed to seek revenge on Athens and Eretria for their roles in the rebellion, proclaiming “Grant O god, that I may punish the Athenians.” 3 [2: Bradley, P. (2000). Ancient Greece: Using Evidence.] [3: Fine, J.V. (1983). The Greeks: A Critical History.] [4: Herodotus. The Histories, translated by Aubrey De Sélincourt.]
That revenge took form in the Campaign of Mardonius, 492 BC[footnoteRef:5]. It was Darius’ aim to expand his empire, recapture the lost Ionian cities and re-establish Persia’s control of the region. His son-in-law, Mardonius set sail along the northern coast of the Aegean Sea and “began his march through Europe with Eretria and Athens as his main objectives.” 3 At first the expedition was successful, with Thrace and Macedonia “added to the list of Darius’...