Remember all those towns the
ancient Greeks built in early times? Some were still
flourishing. The Greek towns located along the Turkish coast had
fallen under Persian rule. The Greek colonists were unhappy about it.
Athens sent supplies to help them out. Those supplies included
weapons. Persia would have noticed the Greeks sooner or later,
but this activity most definitely caught their eye.
The Persian army had no doubt that
the Greeks would be easy to conquer. The Greeks were outnumbered - what chance would they have? The Persians laughed at
the thought of the battle ahead.
What the Persians forgot, or
perhaps they just did not know, was that the Greeks were incredible
warriors. Athens had a highly capable navy, with ships that were tiny
and easy to maneuver. The Spartan army was terrifying.
The Persians came three times, and fought three huge battles -
Marathon, Thermopylae, and Salamis. Each time the Persians
were convinced they could easily conquer the Greeks. Each time,
the Greeks drove them away.
Xerxes, the Persian King, was
furious at the result of the first two battles with the now hated
Greeks. For the third major battle, the Battle of Salamis, he sent
an incredible number of Persian ships to wage war on Greece. He
didn't want just to win. He wanted Greece to be totally destroyed.
Xerxes (nicknamed "Xerx the
Jerk" by some of our students) was so confident of success
that he had his slaves carry a golden throne from Persia, and set
it up on a hillside overlooking the Greek harbor, so he could be
comfortable while he watched the Greeks die.