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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

039 - The Greek Counterattack

In this episode, we discuss the tensions between the Spartan-Athenian alliance during the winter of 480/79 BC over how to deal with the lingering Persian threat; Mardonios' strategy of turning the Athenians and Spartans against each other; the eventual makeup (sort of) of Athens and Sparta; the combined Greek counterattack against the Persians in spring 479 BC, culminating in the twin victories at Plataea (Boeotia) and Mykale (Ionia), which effectively ended the first phase of the Greco-Persian Wars; and the Athenians' first attempt on the Thracian Chersonese, which would come to define their foreign policy in the rest of the century

Spring 479 BC - The Greek fleet assembles at Aegina under the Spartan king, Leotychides, and sails to Delos to keep watch on the Persian fleet at Samos; Mardonios once again occupies Attica, so the Athenians withdraw to Salamis; Mardonios' peace offer of an allegiance is refused twice by the Athenians, though the Athenians threaten to come to terms unless Sparta sends an army against the Persians
Summer 479 BC - When the Spartan regent Pausanias assembles a large Peloponnesian army at the Isthmus of Corinth, Mardonius retires to Thebes in Boeotia; in the ensuing Battle of Plataea, Mardonius is killed and the Persian army is annihilated in flight, except for the troops under Artabazus which escape through Thessaly and Thrace to Asia Minor; the Theban leaders who "medized" are executed and thank-offerings are dedicated at Delphi for victory over Persia including serpent column listing 31 cities faithful to “the Hellenes”; at the same time, the Greek fleet under command of Leotychides at Delos heeds envoys from Samos and sails to Asia Minor to liberate Ionia; when the Greeks land at Mycale, many Ionians and Aeolians turn on the Persians and join with them; after the Greeks slaughter the Persians and burn their ships, the Athenians enroll in the Hellenic League the Samians, Chians, Lesbians, and other islanders who campaigned with them
Winter 479/8 BC - The Greek fleet at Samos sails to the Hellespont to destroy Xerxes’ bridge but find it no longer in place; Leotychides leaves with Peloponnesian contingents, while Xanthippos and the Athenians make an attempt on the Thracian Chersonese; they lay siege to Sestos on the European side of the Hellespont (which was held by a strong force of Persians), capture the fortress, and then sail home

Supplementary Resources (Videos, Photos, Other Podcasts)

Video/Battle of Plataea (History Den)

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