Battle of Marathon – First Persian War – Ancient Greece

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The plain of Marathon

Battle of Marathon: The plain of Marathon

The First Persian War

The Persians were attacking Greece! They landed at Marathon in the fall of 490 BC. When the Athenians heard that the Persians had landed, the citizens (the free men) met in their assembly to decide what to do.

Should Athens fight or surrender?

A lot of Athenians were very frightened of the Persians, and some thought they should just surrender before the Persians killed them all. Other Athenians thought they should give up having a democracy and just go back to an oligarchy that would be able to run the war better. The democracy was new, and nobody had ever tried to run a war with a democratic government. Who even knew if it was possible? But when they voted, the Athenian men decided to keep their democracy, and to fight back against the Persians.

Greek soldiers marching

Greek soldiers marching

The Athenians march to battle at Marathon

So the Athenians got together their army and marched out to meet the Persians. They would have been safe behind the big stone walls of their city, but they chose to march out to battle anyway. Maybe the Athenians were afraid someone would open the door for the Persians the way it had happened in Eretria. Or maybe they had a lot of faith in their well-trained and well-armed hoplite army, which was much better than the old-style Persian army.

Pheidippides and the Battle of Marathon

Bibliography and further reading about the Battle of Marathon:

Pheidippides and the Battle of Marathon
On to the Second Persian War
Ancient Greece home

By |2017-12-22T09:46:02+00:00July 7th, 2017|Greeks, History|11 Comments
Cite this page: Carr, K.E. Battle of Marathon – First Persian War – Ancient Greece. Study Guides, July 7, 2017. Web. December 12, 2018.

About the Author:

Dr. Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.


  1. feifwe September 18, 2018 at 1:05 pm - Reply

    not helping

    • Karen Carr September 19, 2018 at 8:11 am

      Sorry to hear it! What did you want to find out? We’d be happy to answer your question here.

  2. Paulina April 11, 2018 at 10:24 pm - Reply

    Thanks this was very useful for my storyboard project for History!!!!

    • Karen Carr April 11, 2018 at 11:33 pm

      Wonderful! I’m delighted to hear it, Paulina. Good luck with your storyboard project!

  3. Aaron February 26, 2018 at 10:15 am - Reply

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    • Karen Carr February 26, 2018 at 12:09 pm

      Delighted to hear it! Good luck with your assignment, Aaron!

  4. jacob February 22, 2018 at 6:02 am - Reply


  5. isaac February 15, 2018 at 7:06 am - Reply

    this is great and very helpful for my project.

    • Karen Carr February 15, 2018 at 8:12 am

      So happy to hear it, Isaac! Good luck with your project!

  6. jj November 14, 2017 at 9:01 am - Reply

    So useful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

    • Karen Carr November 20, 2017 at 3:55 pm

      Thank you! Glad we could help!

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