The Persian Wars Prequel

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The Persian Wars Prequel

The Greek city-states were small and separate. A great danger appeared. They faced a large, united enemy. This was the mighty Persian Empire. The Athenians (Athens) saw the danger from the Persian Empire. They took the lead in fighting it.

The Persian Empire had been growing for a long time. The Persians conquered the Assyrian Empire. The rulers of Persia made war on their neighbors and conquered them. The Persian King Darius, wanted to conquer still more land. By 500 B.C., he had conquered the Greek towns of Asia Minor

The Greeks in the towns of Asia Minor rose against Darius. They were rebels. They asked the other Greek city-states for help. Sparta was the leading polis (_____) at the time. Identify Sparta on the overhead map. Sparta had the strongest army in Greece. Yet the Spartans felt that they could not help. No one could beat Persia, they said. The Athenians felt differently. They loved freedom more than anything else. They sent ships and soldiers to help the Greeks of Asia Minor. Locate Ionia on the overhead map. The Ionians revolted against the Persians.

The rebels, with Athenian help, made a bold attack. They attacked one of Persia’s most important cities in Asia Minor. The city was captured. Most of it was burned. Darius was enraged and shocked. He asked who had dared to help the rebels. “The Athenians” answered his men. “God grant that I may punish the Athenians!” The Persians crushed the rebels in Asia Minor.

1. Do you think the Spartans had a good reason for not helping the rebel cities? Why or Why not?

Will vary- to not help- why risk their army to help others. To help- if the Persians take control of Athens they will want all of Greece
2. Why might the Persian Emperor Darius hate and fear the free Greeks?
King Darius is an all-powerful king- No one questions his authority. In a democracy, authority is questioned and there is no king.
3. After annihilating the Greek rebels of Ionia, Darius’ main motivation for attacking Mainland Greece was…

The Battle of Marathon: Finding the Finish

Directions: Read the following selection about the Battle of Marathon, then complete the battle data sheet and create a possible scenario or conclusion to the battle based on the information that you have compiled. There will also be a visual representation on the overhead to help you formulate a conclusion.
Darius did not forget the Athenians. In 490BC, a Persian army landed on the Greek mainland. It landed just 24 miles north of Athens. The place was a plain called Marathon. The Athenians were frightened. They sent a runner off to Sparta to ask for help. The Spartans were celebrating a religious festival. They said that they could not come until the moon was full, then their festival would be over. The Athenians had to face the Persians without help form Sparta.

The army of Athens was only half the size of the Persian army. Besides, the Persians were trained soldiers. The Athenians were not. They were citizens who farmed the land and ran the shops. They had a weak cavalry. They had no bows and arrows. Yet the Athenians had three things in their favor. First, they were free men fighting invaders. Second, they had a fine general-Miltiades. Third, they had a special Greek way of fighting. This was the phalanx.

The Persian foot soldiers did not have heavy shields and armor. The Greek foot solders did. The Persians depended on their bows and arrows. The Greeks depended on their phalanx.
Battle of Marathon- _Athens________ Army Vs. ____Persian_________ Army

GREEK ARMY (city-state-Athens)


1. Army size- 1/2 the size of the Persian army______

2. Soldier background- freemen

3. Cavalry - Strong or weak (circle one)

4. Weapons-see overhead

Shields and spears


5.List Advantages:- freemen

- fine general- Miltiades

- phalanx

- home territory

6.List Disadvantages: - small army

- weak cavalry

- no bows and arrows

1. Army size 2x the size of Greek Army

Soldier background – trained soldiers

Ordered to fight by Darius

3. Cavalry - Strong or weak (circle one)

4. Weapons-see overhead

Bows and arrows


5.List Advantages: -large army w/trained soldiers - strong cavalry -plenty of weapons - REVENGE is a motivation

6.List Disadvantages: - fighting on Greek’s land - military liner unorganized

1. Find the Finish- Use the information from your battle data sheet to formulate a possible outcome to the battle of Marathon.
___Will vary____________________________________________________

2. The Actual Outcome for the Battle of Marathon was…

- the Greeks were outnumbered by the Persian Army

- the Greeks used the phalanx to outflank the Persian Army

- Greeks rushed to the lines and broke through

- Greeks put their strongest soldiers on the right and left flank

- they destroyed the Persians on the outside of the lines and worked their way towards the middle

- the Persians retreated

- Pheidippides ran 26 miles from Marathon to Athens and shouted “Nike” or victory, and then dropped dead.

Pheidippides ran from ____Marathon_ to ___Athens_ to announce Nike or _Victory___.
Diagram of the Battle of Marathon- See overhead

Tri-mendous Triremes

Shortly after the battle of Marathon, rich silver mines were found near Athens. The Athenians spent their new wealth on triremes, or warships that had __three__ decks of rowers on each side, one above the other. Soon, Athens had the largest navy in Greece. The Athenians planned to be prepared if the Persians returned.

Why was it important for the Greeks to build a fleet of trireme ships?

So they could have control of the seas
The Battle of Thermopylae

When the Persians next attacked, Darius was dead. His son Xerxes ruled Persia. Like his father, Xerxes was determined to conquer Greece. He did not think it would be hard. The Greek city-states were small. They were not united. They had no strong, central government. They had no great army. In fact, they were usually busy fighting one another. How could they stand up to the mighty Persians?

The Greeks were well aware of these things, however. They knew that no polis was strong enough to beat Persia alone. Twenty of the largest city-states joined together. They did not make one government. All they did was to put their armies together. They agreed that Sparta would be their leader.

The Persians attacked from the north. There were about 150,000 of them. The Greeks tried to stop them at a pass near Thermopylae. Fewer than 4,000 Spartan troops were sent to hold the pass. The Spartans said they would die rather than retreat. And die they did! In the end, only one Spartan came back alive. The Persians entered Greece.

The Persians marched south from Thermopylae to Athens. They wanted revenge for the burning of their city in Asia Minor. They found Athens to be empty. The Athenians had sent their families to safety. The Athenian army was waiting aboard their triremes near Salamis. The soldiers could see Athens going up in flames. Even though the Persians burned Athens, the Athenians they did not try to stop the Persians. That was part of the plan. The Athenians had chosen to fight on sea instead of on land.

1. How did the Greek city-states plan to take on Persia’s 150,000 soldiers?

They planned to take the army on the sea.

2. What city-state was in charge of the united Greek army?

3. Why didn’t the Athenians defend Athens?
They were vastly outnumbered. They wanted to fight Persia on the sea where they were the strongest.

4. Who won the battle of Thermopylae? (Circle one) The Greeks / The Persians



Themistocles, the leader of the Greek Navy had a great plan to defeat the Persians. Look at the visual representation of the Battle of Salamis (on the board) to answer the following questions and create a conclusion to this battle and the Persian wars.

1. Describe the physical features of where this battle is taking place.

The battle is taking place on the strait of Salamis on water.

2. The Greeks wanted the Persians to enter the Strait of Salamis. How did they get them to enter this narrow strait?

They ran from Athens to their ships. The Persians wanted to finish off the Greeks, so they followed on their war ships.
3. Which navy had more ships? ___The Persians_______________________________

4. Persians used slaves to row their ships 5. The Greeks used free men to row ships.

Based on your prior knowledge, the information above, and the battle diagram on the board write about how you think this battle between the Persians and the Greeks ends.
____Answers will vary_____________________________________________________

Themistocles led the Greek navy. He had come up with a plan!

The strait between Athens and Salamis was narrow. The whole Persian fleet could not enter it at once. Themistocles said the Greeks should try to get the Persian ships to enter the strait. Then they would have to fight only a few of the Persian ships at a time. How could they get the Persians to enter the strait? By making the Persians believe the Greeks were running away! That is what the Greeks did. The Persians rowed into the strait after the Greek triremes. They found a well-trained navy waiting there.

Most of the Persians were foot soldiers. They were not used to fighting at sea. The Persian rowers were hard to control. They had to be whipped into battle. Worst of all for the Persians, they were in strange waters. The Greeks were much better off. They were good sailors. They knew the waters of Salamis. The Athenian rowers were defending their own land. They fought fiercely.

Rowing was difficult, too. Rowers had to be well trained as soldiers. They had to row in perfect rhythm. That took strong discipline. The rowers had to be able to take orders quickly. If they lost a few seconds, disaster could follow.

The Persians used slaves to row their ships. They thought the job was too dangerous for anyone else. The Athenian rowers were not slaves, however. They were free men. They were usually poor men as well. Athenian foot soldiers had to have enough money to buy armor. An Athenian rower did not need to buy anything. All he needed was a strong back and strong arms. Even a poor man could help defend Athens by rowing.

Athenian rowers were proud of their skill and courage. They knew they played an important part in defending Athens. They were poor, yet the polis needed them. They served the polis, they said. Why should they not share in governing it? Why should they not have the same rights as other Athenians? As time went on, the Athenian navy grew more important. The rowers felt more important, too. They demanded more rights. Little by little, they gained them. Athens moved closer to full democracy.

In the battle of Salamis, the Persian fleet was badly beaten. Hundreds of their ships were rammed and sunk. Xerxes watched the battle from nearby. What he saw horrified him. The mighty Persians were no match for the little Greek city-states. Xerxes felt lucky to escape with his men. Within a year he returned home. The Persian Wars were over. The Greeks had won.

Persian Wars Review Activity

Directions: On a separate piece of paper write the story of the Persian Wars in your own words. There is a word bank of the people, places, and events that you must include in your story. This will be beneficial to you in preparation for the test at the end of this unit on the Persian and Peloponnesian Wars. Highlight the word the first time it is used. See page 10 for further help.

Word Bank:

Greece – Persia – Persians – Darius – Greeks – Ionia – Nike – Marathon – revolt – Pheidippides – Xerxes- Thermopylae – Athens – triremes – Salamis – strait – burned – Spartans – Athenians -


The Peloponnesian War

The Delian League and the Athenian Empire – The Persians had been driven out of Greece, but they still ruled Ionia. Because of this, the Athenians suggested that the Greek city-states form a defensive league, or alliance to serve as a protective group. Since the league had its headquarters on the island of Delos, it was called the Delian League. Sparta was one of the few Greek city-states that did not join the League.

Once a city-state became a League member, it could not withdraw unless all the other members agreed. The League had a common navy. Its ships were usually built and crewed by Athenians, but the other city-states paid the costs.

Answer all questions in complete sentences that reflect the question in the answer.
1. What is a defensive league? A protective group or an alliance set up to protect against invaders.
The League worked well for a while. As time passed, though, Athens gained more and more power. Other city-states had to ask Athens for permission to sail or to trade. Criminal cases were brought to Athens for trial. Athenian coins replaced other Greek money. Athenian soldiers interfered in the politics of other Greek city-states. In short, the Delian League had turned into the Athenian Empire.

The main leader of Athens at the time was a general named Pericles. Pericles was known as the “first citizen” of Athens. He had a dream of Athens as the most beautiful and perfect city of the time. To help make this dream come true, he rebuilt the palaces and temples on the Acropolis. It took 11 years to build the Parthenon, the temple to the goddess Athena. Much of this building was done with money that belonged to the Delian League.

Pericles also built the Long Walls. These were two parallel, fortified walls with tile roofs. The Long Walls connected Athens with its seaport of Piraeus some five miles away. Having the Long Walls meant Athens could get supplies from the reaches of the Mediterranean Sea even in times of war.

2. Describe the role of Athens in the Delian League?

The city-states could form an alliance that would protect the Greeks from any future Persian invasions.
3. The leader of the Athenian Empire was __Pericles______________________ .

4. What did Pericles do to the Acropolis?

Pericles re-built the acropolis

5. The __Parthenon_____ was built for Athena the Greek Goddess of wisdom.

6. Why did Pericles build the Long walls?
Long walls= Athens could supply even in times of war.

7. Describe the relationship between Athens and Sparta?

They did not get along. Sparta distrusted the democracy of Athens. Sparta felt threatened by the powerful and wealthy.
The Decline of Athens

The more powerful Athens became, the more resentful other Greek city-states grew. Anti-Athenian feelings soon spread throughout Greece. When the Athenians attacked one of Sparta’s allies, a group of city-states led by Sparta declared war on Athens. The war, which was called the Peloponnesian War, lasted almost 30 years. This was a civil war where Greeks fought other Greeks.

The Spartans were nearly unbeatable in land battles. They were easily able to invade Attica, a neighboring ally of Athens. The Spartan army was very powerful. The Athenians, on the other hand, had a superior navy and a weaker army than the Spartans. They tried to avoid fighting the Spartans on land. They stayed inside their city walls and imported food by sea. This resulted in a long deadlock. Why?

The Spartans used siege warfare on the Athenians, which was a common tactic used to try to defeat the enemy city. (The army would surround the city and then destroy any crops growing outside of the city. The enemy would be starved into submission, but this could take a long time.) The Spartans burned the countryside and used siege warfare.

The Athenians still had a steady supply of food coming in through Piraeus port and the Long Walls. The Athenians invited thousands of its neighbors to seek refuge inside the city walls. Athens became over-populated. Some Athenian soldiers resorted to hiring themselves out as mercenaries. They were paid by other places to fight. One such place was Persia. The war was deadlocked. Other forces would take their toll on Athens. The war ended in 404BC when Athens surrendered to Sparta.

1. If Spartans could not overcome the Long Wall what else could they do to conquer the Athenians?

- Build a navy and destroy the Athenian supply lines. – Destroy the crops growing outside the city.

2. What are the problems of an over populated city?Famine, disease, plague & crime

Decline of the City-States

The Peloponnesian War took quite toll on the citizens of Greece. The Athenians suffered through battles, famine, and plague. Their great leader Pericles even suffered and died at the hands of this deadly disease, along with many others.

After the Peloponnesian War, most Greeks began to lose their sense of community. The war had lasted a long time and had cost a great deal of money. People became more interested in making money and having a good time. Soon, bitterness developed between the upper and lower classes within each polis.

After the civil war, Sparta ruled Greece. The Spartans were harsh rulers who angered the other Greeks. As a result, in 317 BC, a group of city-states led by Thebes overthrew Spartan rule. The rule of Thebes, however, was no better that that of Sparta. It weakened the city-states even more. The Greeks were no longer strong enough or united enough to fight off invaders.

One of those invasions came in 338BC. Philip II, of the neighboring country of Macedonia, loved Greek culture so much that he could not bear to see the Greeks destroy what they had created. He felt that the best way he could preserve Greek culture was to conquer them. As an emperor who conquered Greece, Phillip II did not reign for very long. His ambitious son followed him as ruler of this Macedonian empire.

In 336 BC, Alexander the Great became the king of Macedonia. Soon after, he and his large army of Macedonians and Greeks set out for the lands to the east and south. In a period of 11 years, Alexander conquered nearly the entire known world. Alexander the Great had accomplished so much, as an emperor, in such a short period of time.

Alexander died at the age of 32. His empire fell apart soon after his death. But Alexander’s march to the extents of his empire’s borders and back had achieved its goal. The coastal area was mapped and sea routes were opened up between east and west. After the arrival of the Greek fleet that was supposed to follow Alexander’s army, the Greeks realized that sailing between Persia and India was possible. Both regions would benefit from the future trade.

Alexander did leave a legacy of spreading Greek art, ideas, language and architecture but he did not leave an heir. After his death, his empire was divided amongst his former generals. Alexander’s great empire dissolved.

Peloponnesian Wars Review Activity

Directions: On a separate piece of paper write the story of the Peloponnesian War in your own words. There is a word bank of the people places and events that you must include in your story. This will be beneficial to you in preparation for the test at the end of this unit on the Persian and Peloponnesian Wars. Highlight the word the first time it is used. See page 10 for further help.

Word Bank: Greeks – Delian League – alliance – mercenaries – Greece –Athena – Parthenon- empire- Athens – Pericles – Mediterranean Sea – Plague – Sparta –

Long Walls – Civil War – Phillip II – Alexander – Macedonia -

Persian Wars Review Activity

  • 1st paragraph- Persian Wars Prequel (page 1 of packet)

Darius / revolt / Greece / Ionia / Persian / Greeks

  • 2nd paragraph- Battle of Marathon (pages 2 and 3)

Nike / Athens / Marathon / Pheidippides / Persian

  • 3rd paragraph- Battle at Thermopylae pass (page 4)

burned / Athens / Thermopylae / Xerxes / Sparta

  • 4th paragraph- Battle of Salamis and the conclusion of the war (page 5 and 6)

Trireme / strait / Salamis
Peloponnesian War

  • 1st paragraph Pre-war- (PAGE 7) Delian League / alliance / Athena / Pericles/ Parthenon/ empire /Athens/ Mediterranean Sea/ Long Walls

  • 2nd paragraph War- (Page 8) mercenaries – Greece– Plague – Sparta – Civil War—Athens

  • 3rd paragraph Post War- (Page 9) Phillip II – Alexander – Macedonia- empire - Greeks

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