During the late 400s BC, a strew of mishaps led to decades of fighting among two very controversial groups. This mass of destruction is known as the Greek and Persian Wars. The Persian wars consist of a series of military campaigns conducted by the Persians against the Greeks, beginning in 499 BC. The wars were sparked by a revolt of the Ionian Greeks against Persian rule in 499 BC. The cities of Athens and Eretria aided the Ionian Greeks, but the revolt was crushed in 494 BC by Persian king Darius. Darius then sent a large force to punish Athens and Eretria. The Persians took Macedon and Thrace in 492, but their fleet was badly damaged by storms and they were obliged to withdraw. A second expedition occupied Eretria, but while attempting to advance upon Athens, the Persians were defeated at Marathon in 490, by an Athenian force led by the Militates.The Greeks were the first to formulate many of the Western world's fundamental concepts in politics, philosophy, science, and art. Needless to say, the Greeks were extremely intelligent people and were fond of good talk and relished debate and argument. Ancient Greece is considered the birthplace of European civilization, dating back over 5000 years. Many of the ancient ruins are over 4000 years old. The Greeks first developed many things that are part of our culture, today. They created the first democratic government, discovered many scientific principles, and created mathematics.Lay 2All in all, the Greeks would have to summon all their strength and devise a way to stop the Persians.During the first Persian invasion of Greece, Darius invaded the city of Athens with a large army, one that had conquered the Medes and the Lydians, both of whom had bested the Greeks. Darius was the man who had quelled the Ionian Revolt. Mardonius, Darius' brother-in-law, invaded Thrace in 492. Athens could see war coming and tried to gain allies, but no one dared openly to oppose Persia. Sparta was supportive, but not active. Darius finally invaded in person in 490, moving down the Greek eastern coast. One of the Greek strong points, Eretria, fell after a six day siege. The city was sacked and the entire population taken captive. This was a clear indication to the Athenians that theirs would be the same fate.Later on, the Athenians had won at Marathon, but they certainly had not destroyed the Persian army, and they knew it. Well before the battle, they had made provision for whatever might happen at Marathon. The casualties give an indication as to the nature of the victory: 6,400 Persians died at Marathon, and only 192 Athenians. The Greek dead were buried on the Plain of Marathon.Meanwhile, the Persians were preparing. Darius was unable to respond immediately to his defeat because of rebellions on the other end of his empire. While he quelling these, he was killed. His son, Xerxes, spent several years securing his own succession. But he was determined to avenge his father's defeat by the Greeks. Once ready, Xerxes undertook enormous preparations, convinced that sufficient manpower would win one day. The Greeks were, of course, disunited as always. Some city- states,Lay 3especially in the north, went over to the Persians rather than face war and destruction. For the stronger states in the south, such as Athens and Sparta, had decided not to try to meet Xerxes in the north. Athens and Sparta, plus a handful of scattered small cities, stood alone against the giant. When Xerxes finally invaded Greece in 480 BC his army consisted of 200,000 men and 700 warships. The Greeks together had 300 ships and 10,000 men, with ability to raise about 50,000.During this collision course, the common people did many things to keep themselves busy. Sophocles brought much needed entertainment with his interesting plays. Athenians went about their everyday life with men working in the fields and women tending to house work. The Persian Wars were a heroic epoch for Greece in general and for Athens and Sparta in particular. Asia Minor was restored to independence, and Athens and Sparta were the undisputed leaders of Hellas. In the longer term, victory meant Greece was now free to follow its own destiny, and free from outside influences on its culture and society.