Persian-Spartan War (400-387 BC)

Persian-Spartan War (400-387 BC)

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Persian-Spartan War (400-387 BC)

The Persian-Spartan War (400-387 BC) saw the Spartans break with their former supporters in Persia and attempt to replace the Athenians as the defenders of the Greeks of Asia Minor. They were soon distracted by the Corinthian War in Greece, and at the end of the war sacrificed their original allies in order to maintain their position of power at home.

Towards the end of the Great Peloponnesian War the Spartans had greatly benefited from the support of Cyrus the Younger, a younger son of the Persian emperor Darius II. In 404 BC Darius died, and was succeeded by his older son, who ruled as Artaxerxes II. Cyrus was accused of treachery at the very start of his brother's reign, but was pardoned and returned to his posts in Asia Minor. He then found himself in dispute with the satrap Tissaphernes, who had the Emperor's support. The Greek cities of Asia Minor preferred Cyrus, and supported him in his struggle against Tissaphernes. However Cyrus had his eyes on the throne, and began to raise an army with which he intended to overthrow his brother. This army included a significant Greek contingent, although the Greeks might not have known what Cyrus had planned when they signed up. Cyrus penetrated into the heart of the Persian Empire, but was defeated and killed at Cunaxa (400 BC). His Greek troops were victorious on their part of the battlefield, and later reached safety after the famous 'March of the 10,000'.

In the aftermath of this revolt Tissaphernes was given Cyrus's old posts and the task of punishing Artaxerxes's enemies. He besieged but failed to capture Cyme, and in response the Greeks of Asia Minor called for Spartan help. The Spartans had provided some support for Cyrus, and so probably felt that they were already compromised. They may also have been concerned by the damage done to their reputation by their alliance with the Persians, and so they agreed to intervene.

In the winter of 400-399 the Spartans sent an army to Asia Minor under the command of Thibron. He was given 1,000 emancipated helots, 4,000 Peloponnesian allied troops and 300 Athenian cavalry (although Sparta's Corinthian and Theban allies refused to take part). Thibron was joined by 2,000 local troops, and then managed to recruit the survivors of the '10,000', looking for a role after the end of their journey.

Encouraged by his new recruits, Thibron moved to Pergamum, and won over a number of nearby cities. Thibron then besieged Egyptian Larissa (399 BC), but was ordered to abandon the siege and move into Caria. He moved slowly to Ephesus, where he was removed from command for being too slow and replaced by Dercylides (398 BC).

The new commander had previously served as a harmost under Lysander, and had some experience of Persian politics. He managed to arrange a truce with Tissaphernes, and instead moved the war in the territories ruled by Pharnabazus, satrap of Hellespontine Phrygia.

Dercylides moved north into Aeolis, the northernmost Greek area in Asia Minor. At the time this area was ruled by Meidias, the son-in-law and murderer of the previous ruler Mania. The Spartans took advantage of the chaos in the area to establish their control. At the end of the year Dercylides established a truce with Pharnabazus, and moved to Bithynian Thrace on the eastern side of the Bosporus for the winter.

At the start of the campaigning season of 397 the Spartans moved west to the Hellespont. A group of Spartan commissioners arrived and ordered him to cross the Hellespont and build a wall to defend the Chersonese, so he arranged another truce with Pharnabazus. After completing the walls the Spartans returned to Aeolis and besieged Atarneus, where a group of exiles from Chios held out for eight months.

Soon after the siege ended Dercylides was ordered to move south to protect the Greek cities ruled by Tissaphernes. He advanced into Caria, a move that nearly triggered a major battle. Tissaphernes summoned Pharnabazus to help, and between them they had around 30,000 men. The Spartans followed the Persians inland, and the two armies came face to face near a large burial mound. The two sides lined up ready for battle, but neither side was entirely confident. The Spartans were steady, but their allies were wavering. On the Persian side Pharnabazus wanted to fight, but Tissaphernes had seen the 10,000 fight and was worried about the possible outcome of a battle.

The two sides eventually agreed to peace talks, although neither side really made any concessions. The Persians demanded that the Greek army disband and the Spartans take the first boat home. The Spartans demanded that the Greek cities should be given independence. A longer truce was then agreed, and the proposals sent back to their respective home governments.

At the same time Pharnabazus made a personal visit to Artaxerxes II at Susa, to press the case for continuing the war. He was able to convince the Emperor to fund the construction of a new fleet. The fleet would be commanded by the Athenian admiral Conon, who had been in exile at Salamis on Cyprus since the end of the Great Peloponnesian War.

The peace talks failed to take into account Artaxerxes's hostility to the Spartans, which would prolong the war more than once. On this occasion Pharnabazus was also in favour of continuing the war, and convinced Artaxerxes to let him build a fleet in Cyprus and Phoenicia. The new fleet would be commanded by the Athenian admiral Conon, who had escaped from the disaster at Aegospotami and taken refuge at the court of King Evagoras of Salamis on Cyprus.

News of this new fleet reached Sparta in the late summer or early autumn of 397. Lysander is said to have convinced King Agesilaus to offer to take command in Asia if he was given 30 full Spartiates, two thousand neodamodeis (enfranchised helots fighting for Sparta) and six thousand allies. His offer was accepted, but raising the allied troops demonstrated some of the tensions that would soon lead to the Corinthian War in Greece. Thebes and Corinth had refused to provide troops for the earlier Spartan expeditions, and they didn't change their attitude now. In addition the Athenians, who had taken part in earlier expeditions, now refused to supply troops. Agesilaus then went to Aulis to Boeotia, where Agamemnon was said to have sacrificed before the invasion of Troy, but the Thebans intervened and prevented the king from conducting his own ceremonies.

According to Xenophon Agesilaus arranged a truce with the satrap Tissaphernes, who promised to try and negotiate a peace that would give the Greek cities autonomy. Instead Tissaphernes asked for reinforcements, and then sent his own ultimatum to Agesilaus, demanding that the Spartans leave Asia. Agesilaus responded by ordering the Greeks of Asia to send reinforcements to Ephesus, and preparing markets on the road to Caria, part of Tissaphernes's satrapy. Tissaphernes responded by moving his infantry into the Carian hills and his cavalry further forward to hit the Spartans in the Maeander valley. Agesilaus then changed direction and moved north to raid Phrygia, in the neighbouring satrapy of Pharnabazus. Xenophon doesn't tell us what Tissaphernes did while this raid was going on. We do know that Conon and the fleet helped Rhodes revolt against Spartan rule, and captured a grain convoy coming from Egypt. The Spartan fleet adopted Cnidus in the south-west of Caria as its main base, while Conon moved to Caunus in Caria and Rhodes, a little further to the east.

In the spring of 395 Agesilaus concentrated his army at Ephesus, and trained its various units. He then tricked Tissaphernes once again. This time he ordered markets to be prepared on the road north from Ephesus to Sardis. Tissaphernes assumed that this was a trick, and placed his army in Caria. Agesilaus then moved north, just as he had announced, and pillaged the plains of Sardis. Tissaphernes rushed north, and a battle took place (battle of Sardis, 395 BC). We have two rather different accounts of this battle, but in both cases the Spartans were victorious. Artaxerxes sent his vizier Tithraustes to execute Tissaphernes and take over his provinces. Tithraustes also came with an offer of autonomy for the Greeks of Asia in return for the payment of a tribute. Agesilaus agreed to a six month truce with Tithraustes while the Spartan government considered the offer, and promised to only fight in Pharnabazus's provinces.

Agesilaus then moved west to the coast, where he learnt he'd been given command of a sizable fleet. He chose his brother-in-law Peisander as commander of the fleet, and then continued north. He campaigned in Mysia, on the southern shores of the Propontis, and with the help of Spithridates (a Persian nobleman who had defected from Pharabazus) was able to convince the local tribes to join him. They then advanced further east to Gordium in Phrygia and the borders of Paphlagonia, where the local ruler was also won over. Agesilaus then went into winter quarters at Dascylium, from where his men raided Pharabazus's province. Over the winter of 395/4 his position was somewhat weakened, ironically as a result of a military success. Spithridates discovered the location of Pharabazus's camp, his court in exile. Agesilaus sent Herippidas, with a combined Greek and Asian force to attack the camp, and captured its rich contents. In these circumstances the Spartans normally sold all of the loot to merchants. Herippidas tried to extend this to their Asian allies, instantly alienating them. Spithridates and the Paphlagonains changed sides once again, and joined Ariaeus, the new ruler at Sardis.

In the spring of 394 Agesilaus gathered a large army on the plain of Thebe, to the south-east of Mount Ida in the Troad (on the Asian side of the Hellespont). He announced a plan to advance east, and try and conquer as many areas as possible, but this seems an unlikely plan given his failure to take any cities in the previous winter. This plan was probably part of yet another attempt to bluff the Persians.

Events back in Greece meant that Agesilaus was never able to implement his plan, whatever it was. A border conflict in central Greece had developed into a major conflict (Corinthian War, 395-386 BC), and in the first major battle of the war Lysander had been killed (Battle of Haliartus). King Pausanias of Sparta was put on trial and forced into exile in the aftermath of this campaign, and the Spartans decided to recall Agesilaus.

Agesilaus left his brother-in-law Peisander in charge and Asia Minor and returned home at the head of around 15,000 men, including many of the men that had accompanied him to Asia Minor, some of the survivors of the 10,000, and a contingent from the Greeks of Asia. Peisander was said to have little or no experience of naval warfare, and within a few months of taking command he suffered a crushing defeat at Cnidus (394 BC). The Persians deployed with their Greek ships in the front line and the Phoenicians in the second. Things got worse for the badly outnumbered Spartans when their allies deserted them, but Peisander fought on. He was eventually killed fighting on his beached ship.

With their fleet gone, the Spartan position in Asia Minor collapsed. Conon and Pharnabazus captured or won over Cos, Erythrae, Chios, Mytilene and the major Spartan base at Ephesus. The only cities known to have held out for the Spartans were Sestos and Abydos, where a force led by the harmost Dercylidas, supported by a number of the harmosts expelled from other cites held out.

In 392 the Spartans sent the diplomat Antalcidas to Sardis to try and negotiate with the satrap Tiribazus. Their argument was that Conon and his fleet represented a greater threat to the Persians than the Spartans did. They proposed that they would abandon their support for the Greek of Asia. In return the Persians would recognise the autonomy of the Greek cities and islands. Tiribazus was won over, but the other Greek powers were opposed to the plan, as it would have stripped them of many of their possessions. Tiribazus was won over, and arrested Conon, but Artaxerxes was still hostile to the Spartans and ordered the war to go on.

In 391 the Spartans sent a new army under the command of Thibron, the failed commander at the start of the war. He performed even worse this time. After taking Ephesus he advanced into the Maeander valley, but was killed in an ambush organised by the Persian satrap Struthas.

Later in 391 the Spartans sent a fleet, commanded by the navarch Ecdicus, to support the exiled oligarchic faction on Rhodes. He was only given eight ships, and when he reached Asia Minor realised that he wasn't strong enough to intervene. Instead he moved to Cnidus, where he stayed quiet over the winter.

In 390 Teleutias, half brother of Agesilaus, was sent from the Corinthian Gulf to take command at Cnidus. By the time he arrived he had a much larger fleet, and he captured a squadron of ten Athenian ships going to help Evagoras of Salamis in his revolt against the Persians.

In 387 the Spartans sent a fresh embassy to Sardis in an attempt to end the war. The increasing conflict between Athens and Persia made their job much easier, and this time Antalcides was able to arrange a peace deal. Artaxerxes put his backing behind a deal in which the Spartans agreed to abandon the Greeks of Asia Minor, but at the same time to guarantee the autonomy of the Greek cities and islands. On his return from the Persian court Antalcides managed to break Athenian control of the Hellespont, greatly reducing their willingness to keep fighting. As a result the end of the Persian-Spartan War also resulted in the end of the Corinthian War (395-386 BC), and the King's Peace or Peace of Antalcidas briefly established the Persians and Spartans as the arbiters of Greece.


Persian-Spartan War (400-387 BC) - History

After the Ionian revolt ended, Darius decided to expand his empire's territories. In 493 BC the Persians defeated the remains of the Ionian revolt. This was a very good chance for Darius to extend his empire and he did so by acquiring the islands of East Aegean and the Propontis. After the revolt Darius selected his son-in-law Mardonius for resettlement of the cities destroyed in the revolt. This change was shockingly civil compared to the known cruel Persian rulers. Democracy was introduced, tax system was more liberal, and prisoners were released and sent back to hometowns. Darius civil attitude was a calculatory move to pressurize the Greek states to surrender, which did so. But Athens and Sparta were exceptions.
In 492 BC Mardonius tried to control as many Hellenic cities as he could. While the army was sent to capture Hellespont, he along with his navy took over Ionia.
From there he joined his army in Hellespont, capturing Thrace and Macedon on his way. While Thrace surrendered without revolting, Macedon was reduced from an ally to a city-state. He then moved to Thassos but luck would have it, he faced a powerful storm where nearly 20,000 men of his army were killed.
Datis and Artaphernes gathered force to teach Attica and Eretria a lesson for supporting Ionia.
Traveling from Cilicia to Rhodes, they moved upto Samos and then to Naxos. The residents there surrendered themselves to Eretria. Eretria was captured and looted and then surrendered the city back.

The allied Greek land forces, which Herodotus states numbered no more than 4,200 men, had chosen Thermopylae to block the advance of the much larger Persian army. Although this gap between the Trachinian Cliffs and the Malian Gulf was only "wide enough for a single carriage", [3] it could be bypassed by a trail that led over the mountains south of Thermopylae and joined the main road behind the Greek position. Herodotus notes that this trail was well known to the locals, who had used it in the past for raiding the neighboring Phocians. [4]

The Persians used the trail to outflank the defenders. The Spartan king, Leonidas, sent away most of the Greeks, but he himself remained behind with a rear guard composed of his men, the Thespian contingent and a Theban detachment.

Ephialtes expected to be rewarded by the Persians, but this came to nothing when they were defeated at the Battle of Salamis. He then fled to Thessaly the Amphictyons at Pylae had offered a reward for his death. According to Herodotus, he was killed for an apparently unrelated reason by Athenades (Greek: Ἀθηνάδης ) of Trachis, around 470 BC, but the Spartans rewarded Athenades all the same. [5]

Herodotus notes that two other men were accused of betraying this trail to the Persians: Onetas, a native of Carystus and son of Phanagoras and Corydallus, a native of Anticyra. Nevertheless, he argues Ephialtes was the one who revealed this trail because "the deputies of the Greeks, the Pylagorae, who must have had the best means for ascertaining the truth, did not offer the reward on the heads of Onetas and Corydallus, but for that of Ephialtes." [6]

In the 1962 film The 300 Spartans, Ephialtes was portrayed by Kieron Moore and is depicted as a loner who worked on a goat farm near Thermopylae. He betrays the Spartans to the Persians out of greed for riches, and, it is implied, unrequited love for a Spartan girl named Ellas.

Frank Miller's 1998 comic book miniseries 300, the 2006 film adaptation of the same name, and the 2014 sequel, portray Ephialtes (played by Andrew Tiernan) as a severely deformed Spartan exile whose parents fled Sparta to protect him from the infanticide he would have surely suffered as a disfigured infant. Although he is brave and his spear thrust more than adequate, he can not raise his arm so he can be part of the phalanx (a vital part of the Spartan battle formation). Leonidas asks him to support his brethren by bringing the wounded water and clearing the dead from the battleground. In anger, Ephialtes swears to prove his parents and him wrong and betrays them to Xerxes by revealing the hidden path in return. When only a handful of Spartans are left when the Persians descend, Ephialtes (in Persian uniform) is with them. Leonidas wishes him to live forever, which is an insult to a Spartan since he will not have died with honor in battle.

After the betrayal of Ephialtes, the name "Ephialtes" received a lasting stigma it came to mean "nightmare" in the Greek language and to symbolize the archetypal traitor in Greek culture. [7]

Within the vast surviving body of ancient Greek texts, the philosopher-warrior can find a wealth of knowledge on the art of war and self-initiation through philosophy. Since the Greeks are not known to have written manuals or how-to books, but intentionally veiled their secrets and truths across multiple texts, I have carefully selected three that when put together meaningfully contribute towards both the warrior and the philosophical path. In approaching this vast topic, I categorized the material not in a chronological, but in a dramatic order. This order also follows the Platonic thought of the three parts of the human soul (appetite, spirit and reason), with the aim to cultivate the corresponding virtues (temperance, courage, and wisdom) and for the mutual harmony between soul and body.

The first text that I suggest, Xenophon’s Constitution of the Spartans, draws from the history of the ancient Spartans, a legendary empire and masters of warfare. This is followed by Plutarch’s Life of Alexander, a biography of Alexander the Great that provides important insight on how to cultivate the spirited part of the soul. Alexander represents an ideal archetype of the warrior-philosopher-king who has mastered the ability to control his drive and emotions at the highest possible level. Finally, the third text, Heraclitus’ Fragments, inspires an inward journey towards self-knowledge and wisdom. It is my hope that the suggestions below will offer the inspiration and sources needed for further study and contemplation of the matter at hand.

Lacedaimonion Politeia(Constitution of the Spartans)by Xenophon

It occurred to me one day that Sparta, though among the most thinly populated of states, was evidently the most powerful and most celebrated city in Greece and I fell to wondering how this could have happened. But when I considered the institutions of the Spartans, I wondered no longer. Lycurgus, who gave them the laws that they obey, and to which they owe their prosperity, I do regard with wonder and I think that he reached the utmost limit of wisdom. For it was not by imitating other states, but by devising a system utterly different from that of most others, that he made his country pre-eminently prosperous.[1]

This powerful description of the Spartans is how the ancient Greek historian, philosopher, and soldier Xenophon (430—354 BCE) opens his Politeia. For those not familiar, politeia can be defined as the “condition and rights of a citizen” or simply citizenship. Xenophon was in the rare position of being a pupil of the philosopher Socrates and a contemporary of Plato. He was also an Athenian who fought for the side of Sparta during the Persian-Spartan war (400-387 BCE) next to the general Agesilaus[2]. His Lacedaimonion Politeia provides valuable historical accounts on the institutions of ancient Sparta and delivers an intimate view of the life and disciplines of its citizens and their infamous military elite. Xenophon openly shows his admiration for Sparta and summarizes the various elements that made the city and its citizens so successful. Through his text, the reader will be initiated into the way of life of the Spartans, learning from their multifaceted discipline while exploring several values at once, and how they relate to the philosopher-warrior’s path. The value of learning obedience at a young age, the importance of friendship, and the significance of attaining enormous physical dexterity are just some of the topics explored. Xenophon also accentuates the importance of a virtuous life, especially in regards to the virtue of courage in battle. All these qualities are at the heart of the Spartan’s life, intrinsically connected to their history as an empire, and in simple terms, the stuff of legend.

Life of Alexander by Plutarch

Plutarch’s Life of Alexander belongs to his Parallel Lives biography series. A Greek biographer from Chaeronea (a city 50 miles east of Delphi), Plutarch (46 –120 ACE) was a renowned Platonist and also held the position of priest at Delphi for nearly the last thirty years of his life. He also had access to a vast collection of rare texts, making his writings an invaluable source of information. Life of Alexander paints an intimate portrait of Alexander the Great, highlighting his strengths and limitations. While Alexander is known as one of the greatest military minds of all time, he was also a skilled healer, a pupil of the philosopher Aristotle, as well as an initiate of the Orphic mysteries and those of the Great Gods of Samothrace (Cabeiric mysteries). These elements make Alexander one of the best examples of a true warrior-philosopher, worthy of admiration and serious examination. In his biography, Plutarch gives great emphasis to Alexander’s education and training as a young boy, and to what extent that education influenced the enormous drive and desires that shaped his behavior later in life. Two of the most important elements of Alexander’s character that Plutarch accentuates are his many virtues as a leader and soldier in battle, matched only by his unusual degree of self-control. Plutarch describes how Alexander demonstrated enormous wisdom, respect, and restraint in his treatment of Darius’ family who became his captives after the Battle of Gaugamela (331 BCE):

For he gave them leave to bury whom they pleased of the Persians, and to make use for this purpose of what garments and furniture they thought fit out of the booty. He diminished nothing of their equipage, or of the attentions and respect formerly paid them, and allowed larger pensions for their maintenance than they had before. But the noblest and most royal part of their usage was, that he treated these illustrious prisoners according to their virtue and character, not suffering them to hear, or receive, or so much as to apprehend anything that was unbecoming.[3]

Even though Alexander could be a formidable enemy and a ferocious warrior, he always carried his education with him, and through his character demonstrated his undying admiration for virtue.

Fragments by Heraclitus

A central aspect in the life of anyone who wants to progress and master a martial art, a musical instrument, or any other worthy craft, is to take control of the mind and use it as a well-driven chariot for meaningful living and expression through that craft. The importance of the above idea is also stressed by the philosopher Plato in Book IV of the Republic: “And ought not the rational principle, which is wise, and has the care of the whole soul, to rule, and the passionate or spirited principle to be the subject and ally?”[4] Some of the most powerful and creative ideas that can assist the seeker in achieving this great task can be found in the collected Fragments of the philosopher Heraclitus. Heraclitus (540 – 480 BCE) was a Greek philosopher from Ephesus (Asia Minor) who “propounded a distinctive theory which he expressed in oracular language. He is best known for his doctrines that things are constantly changing (universal flux), that opposites coincide (unity of opposites), and that fire is the basic material of the world.”[5] Fire, in the philosophy of Heraclitus, besides being a natural element, is also equated with Logos, the medium that unites the soul with the mind. In addition, another important and original idea in his system is his view of war as a creative necessity. For Heraclitus, War was a creative cosmic force presiding as a king on a throne ruling the whole cosmos. At the same time, war meant struggle, philosophically and literary: “War is the father of all and king of all, who manifested some as gods and some as men, who made some slaves and some freemen.”[6]

Even though it can be difficult to decipher Heraclitus due to his oracular language, it is that kind of struggle to understand his ideas that will create the conditions in the mind of the philosopher-warrior to do the necessary inner work, ruled and guided by reason.

Through the study of these texts, one can find many valuable elements to enhance one’s craft. Some of the benefits of seeking knowledge and wisdom through history and philosophy are the catharsis of the soul through inner dialectics, a higher ability for problem solving through reason, and the building of a virtuous character. In conclusion, I hope to have shared a meaningful way to approach these ancient texts that carry within them the seeds of wisdom and inspiration for furthering the path of the philosopher-warrior in a systematic way.

Browning, Eve A. “Xenophon.” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2018. <

Dryden, John, Trans. “Alexander by Plutarch.” The Internet Classics Archive, Daniel C. Stevenson, <

Graham, Daniel W. “Heraclitus.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Feb 8, 2017.

Graham, Daniel W. “Heraclitus.” Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Web. 10 Mar. 2018. <

Jowett, Benjamin, Trans. “The Republic by Plato.” The Internet Classics Archive, Daniel C. Stevenson, <>. Accessed 11 Mar. 2018.

“Xenophon, Constitution of the Lacedaimonians.” Translated by E.C. Marchant and G.W. Bowerstock, Xenophon, Constitution of the Lacedaimonians, chapter 1, Perseus, < &nbsp xt%3DConst.+Lac.%3Achapter%3D1>.

Tony Crisos is a guitarist, educator, philosopher, and esoteric arts practitioner, born in Greece and now living in the USA.

Spartan History Before Ancient Sparta

The story of Sparta typically begins in the 8th or 9th century B.C with the founding of the city of Sparta and the emergence of a unified Greek language. However, people had been living in the area where Sparta would be founded starting in the Neolithic Era, which dates back some 6,000 years.

It is believed civilization came to the Peloponnese with the Mycenaean, a Greek culture that rose to dominance alongside the Egyptians and the Hittites during the 2nd millennium BCE.

A Death mask, known as the Mask of Agamemnon, Mycenae, 16th century B.C, one of the most famous artifacts of Mycenaean Greece.

National Archaeological Museum [CC BY 2.0 (]

Based on the extravagant buildings and palaces they built, the Mycenaeans are believed to have been a very prosperous culture, and they laid the foundation for a common Greek identity which would serve as a basis for the ancient history of Greece.

For example, the Odyssey and the Iliad, which were written in the 8th century BCE, were based on wars and conflicts fought during Mycenaean times, specifically the Trojan War, and they played an important role in creating a common culture amongst the divided Greeks, even though their historical accuracy has been called into question and they have been deemed pieces of literature, not historical accounts.

However, by the 12th century BCE, civilization across all of Europe and Asia was descending into collapse. A combination of climatic factors, political turmoil, and foreign invaders from tribes referred to as Sea People, brought life to a halt for some 300 years.

There are few historical records from this time, and archaeological evidence also indicates a significant slowdown, leading this period to be referred to as the Late Bronze Age Collapse.

However, shortly after the beginning of the final millennium BCE, civilization once again began to flourish, and the city of Sparta was to play a pivotal role in the ancient history of the region and the world.

The Dorian Invasion

In ancient times, the Greeks were divided into four subgroups: Dorian, Ionian, Achaean, and Aeolian. All spoke Greek, but each had its own dialect, which was the primary means of distinguishing each one.

They shared many cultural and linguistic norms, but tensions between the groups were typically high, and alliances were often formed on the basis of ethnicity.

During Mycenaean times, the Achaeans were the most likely the dominant group. Whether or not they existed alongside other ethnic groups, or if these other groups remained outside Mycenaean influence, is unclear, but we do know that after the fall of the Mycenaeans and the Late Bronze Age Collapse, the Dorians, became the most dominant ethnicity on the Peloponnese. The city of Sparta was founded by Dorians, and they worked to construct a myth that credited this demographic change with an orchestrated invasion of the Peloponnese by Dorians from the north of Greece, the region where it is believed the Doric dialect first developed.

However, most historians doubt whether this is the case. Some theories suggest the Dorians were nomadic pastoralists who gradually made their way south as the land changed and resource needs shifted, whereas others believe the Dorians had always existed in the Peloponnese but were oppressed by the ruling Achaeans. In this theory, the Dorians rose to prominence taking advantage of turmoil amongst the Achaean-led Mycenaeans. But again, there is not enough evidence to fully prove or disprove this theory, yet no one can deny that Dorian influence in the region greatly intensified during the early centuries of the last millennium BCE, and these Dorian roots would help set the stage for the founding of the city of Sparta and the development of a highly-militaristic culture that would eventually become a major player in the ancient world.

The Founding of Sparta

We do not have an exact date for the founding of the city state of Sparta, but most historians place it sometime around 950-900 BCE. It was founded by the Dorian tribes living in the region, but interestingly, Sparta came into existence not as a new city but rather as an agreement between four villages in the Eurotas Valley, Limnai, Kynosoura, Meso, and Pitana, to merge into one entity and combine forces. Later on, the village of Amyclae, which was located a bit further away, became part of Sparta.

This decision gave birth to the city state of Sparta, and it laid the foundation for one of the world’s greatest civilizations. It also is one of the main reasons why Sparta was forever governed by two kings, something that made it rather unique at the time.

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Leonidas was the third son of Anaxandridas II of Sparta. He belonged to the Agiad Dynasty. The Agiad Dynasty claimed to be decedents of Heracles. Thus, Leonidas is considered a decedent of Heracles. He was the half-brother of the late King Cleomenes I of Sparta. Leonidas was crowned King after the death of his half-brother. Cleomenes' died of a suspected suicide. Leonidas was made king because Cleomenes had died without a son or another, closer male relative to serve as a suitable heir and reign as his successor. There was also another tie between Leonidas and his half-brother Cleomenes: Leonidas was also married to Cleomenes' only child, the wise Gorgo, Queen of Sparta.

Sparta received a request from the confederated Greek forces to help in defending and protecting Greece against the Persians, who were powerful and invading. Sparta, led by Leonidas, visited the Delphic oracle who prophesized that either Sparta would be destroyed by the invading Persian army, or the king of Sparta would lose his life. The Delphic Oracle is said to have made the following prophecy:

For you, inhabitants of wide-wayed Sparta,
Either your great and glorious city must be wasted by Persian men,
Or if not that, then the bound of Lacedaemon must mourn a dead king, from Heracles' line.
The might of bulls or lions will not restrain him with opposing strength for he has the might of Zeus.
I declare that he will not be restrained until he utterly tears apart one of these.

Faced with a decision, Leonidas chose the second option. He was not willing to let the city of Sparta be wasted by the Persian forces. Thus, Leonidas led his army of 300 Spartans and soldiers from other city-states to face Xerxes in Thermopylae in August of 480 BC. It is estimated that the troops under Leonidas’ command numbered about 14,000, while the Persian forces consisted of hundreds of thousands. Leonidas and his troops fended off the Persian attacks for seven days straight, including three days of intense battle, while killing off large numbers of enemy troops. The Greeks even held off the Persian’s elite Special Forces known as ‘The Immortals.’ Two of Xerxes brothers were killed by Leonidas’ forces in battle.

Eventually, a local resident betrayed the Greeks and exposed a back route of attack to the Persians. Leonidas was aware that his force was going to be flanked and taken over, and thus dismissed the vast majority of the Greek army rather than suffer more high casualties. Leonidas himself, however, remained behind and defended Sparta with his 300 Spartan soldiers and some other remaining Thespians and Thebans. Leonidas was killed in the resulting battle.

Effects Of The Persian Wars On Sparta And Athens

Athens was one of the only Greek cities among that had importance. It could not compare with Sparta in power, prestige, or even in art. The only success that belonged to Athens was its Navel. This would all change after the Persian Wars.

Persia was the greatest empire that the ancient world had yet seen. It had grown into a stronger empire through the reigns of Cyrus, Cambyses, and Darius. Just before Darius's death the Ionian cities revolted, causing the beginning of the Persian Wars.

The Athenians praised the gods, mainly Zeus and Athena, for the winnings in the war. Winning gave Athens confidence even though the war caused Athens to be left in ruins. The Athenians went on to produce their amazing civilization. One of the most important results of the wars was that Athens was established as the dominant Greek naval power. This gave Athens the opportunity to create a widespread empire. Athenians rebuilt the Acropolis and used all the Persians weapons to make a bronze statue in honor of Athena. They also became very successful in literature and art. Because of all the success Athens was having after the wars, Sparta became jealous. Sparta's envoy led to the Peloponnesian War There is not a whole lot to say about the Spartans. After the wars they had difficulties and did not accomplish too much. The Spartans were not doing so well. They had a major decline in their economy and lost most of what they had in the wars. Once Sparta had dominated and now Athens did, and this made the Spartans envious and furious. In their furry they attacked Athens in attempt to regain power. This war is known as the Peloponnesian War. It lasted 27 years and then Athens was eventually defeated in 404 BC.

Greco-Persian war (480-479)

It is a second Persian invasion of Greece occurred during the Greco-Persian Wars. It was occurred during the Greco-Persian Wars, as King Xerxes I, Great King of Persia sought to conquer all of Greece.

The invasion began in spring 480 BC, when the Persian army crossed the Hellespont with an army and navy of tremendous size, and marched through Thrace and Macedon to Thessaly, whose cities submitted to Xerxes.

The Persian advance was blocked at the pass of Thermopylae by small Allied force under King Leonidas I of Sparta simultaneously, the Persian fleet was blocked by and Allied fleet at the straits of Artemisium.

The Spartans was overcome at the Battle of Thermopylae and the successful Persian push allowed their capture of Athens. The Persians burned Athens twice as well as several other Greek cities. The strategy of the Greek coalition paid off when they enticed the Persian fleet into battle at Salamis and crippled it badly enough to forestall further action at that time.

When the Persian navy was soundly defeated, Xerxes and the bulk of the Persian forces returned to the empire, leaving a portion in Greece.

Persian strategy as this point aimed at weakening the Greek coalition by offering peace terms to the Athenians. The Athenian refusal led ultimately to a confrontation at Plataea in 479 BC, in which the Persian commander was killed and the Persian routed.

After Greco-Persian Wars, Athens quickly became a military power, especially at sea. As a result of the Battle of Salamis Athens emerged with more prestige and the dominant naval power in Greece and the Aegean.
Greco-Persian war (480-479)

Ephialtes and Anopaia

Spartan historian Kennell says no one expected the battle to be as short as it was. After the Carnea festival, more Spartan soldiers were to arrive and help defend Thermopylae against the Persians.

Unfortunately for Leonidas, after a couple of days, a medizing traitor named Ephialtes led the Persians around the pass running behind the Greek army, thereby squashing the remote chance of Greek victory. The name of Ephialtes' path is Anopaea (or Anopaia). Its exact location is debated. Leonidas sent away most of the amassed troops.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Battle of Baphaeon

Between 1260 and 1320, the Turcomans, mobilized by their ghazi tribal chiefs, and in tandem with the Seljuk waged jihad against Byzantine forces.

Their leader was Osman Ghazi (Osman I), who held the frontier land in western Asia Minor that was farthest north and closest to the Byzantines. Osman had become master of an area stretching from Eskishehir to the plains of Iznik and Brusa and had organized a fairly powerful principality.

When Osman I besieged around 1301, the Byzantines sent an army to raise the siege. The emep0ror depstahced against Osman a force of 2,000 men under the command of the Hetaereiarch Muzalon charged with the task relieving Iznik.

This army was defeated by Osman I in the summer of 1301 at Baphaeon, on the southeastern shores of the Sea of Marmara.

The local population was panic-stricken and started to leave, seeking shelter in the castle of Nicomedia.

This victory over the Byzantine imperial army made Osman prominent among other frontier lords the prospect of new conquest, booty and land attracted a wave of Turcoman warriors to be Ottoman principality.

Many other nomadic Turkish soldiers came to Konya, Osman’s capitol. They became known as beys, commanders of complements of fighters who were loyal to them, just as they in turn, were loyal to Osman.

In Ottoman tradition this victory is known as the victory won near Yalakova over the forces of the emperor during the siege do Iznik.
Battle of Baphaeon

Watch the video: Thermopylae Spartan Battle Music (May 2022).