Home » Galleries » Ancient Greece

The War To End All Greek-Persian Wars

The Battle of Plataea stopped the third Persian invasion, saved Europe from being overrun by the Persians, and decisively ended all the major Greek-Persian wars.

Why did it begin?

Ten years after Darius 1 of Persia lost to the Greeks at the Battle of Marathon, Xerxes 1 led a new, vast army into the Greek peninsula to crush the Greek city-states and right the wrong of Darius' failure, and then he would take Europe and realize his vision of "one world, ruled by one master."

The battle took place in 479 BC and pitted 40,000 Greeks against 120,000 Persians, a Greek to Persian ratio of 1:3. “Good odds for any Greek,” one observer has noted.

After their resounding victory, which brought out an amazing array of battle tactics by both sides the Greeks marveled at the wealth of the Persian army and wondered why they wanted to conquer what was then a relatively poor peninsula.

Of course, they were unable to unsterstand at that time the ultimate goal of the Persian leaders: Europe.

The Greeks’ superior fighting ability in this battle prompted the defeated Persians to later recruit Greek mercenaries for their plunders elsewhere.

One man, who stood out for his fighting spirit, was Aristodemus. Other soldiers said he "courted death" with his fearless actions and by leaving the Greek lines and "acting like a madman." For this reason -- lacking dignity in battle -- Aristodemus was not given any special honours.

After the battle was done, the Greeks melted down the Persians' weapons to create a bronze column, called the 'Serpent Column', offering it to the Oracle of Delphi.

Engraved into the column are lists of all the Greek city-states that took part in the battle.

I will donate this artwork to the Onassis Foundation in New York, USA.

Battle of Plataea     Serpent Column
L: Greek (yellow) defeating Persian. R: The Serpent Column