The marathon running event was instituted in commemoration of the run of a Greek soldier after the Battle of Marathon, fought between the Athenian and the Persian armies.
Marathon, marathon running, Darius, Darius I, battle, battlefield, hoplites, hoplite, Greeks, Persians, Hellas, military campaign, military history, war, Miltiades, Herodotus, fleet, cavalry, phalanx, warfare, army, antiquity, history
Stage 1 (August?, September? 490 B.C.)
On the field of Marathon, twenty thousandPersian soldiers fought against ten thousandAthenians and a thousandPlataean warriors. The Greek army was made up solely of heavily armed hoplite infantry. The main strength of the Persian army was its mounted and infantry archers, but because of their equipment, they were not sufficiently effective in close combat. (In the end, the cavalry did not participate in the battle.) At the beginning of the battle, the hoplites pushed forward to prevent the Persians (especially the cavalry) from disembarking and deploying their armies there.
Stage 2 (August?, September? 490 B.C.)
According to the most widely accepted description of the battle, the Greek strategosMiltiades devised a tactic that defeated the Persians. The center line of his army, which was much thinner than usual, was pushed back by the middle line of the Persians, which had been arranged into the most effective formation. The Persians could not split the Greek army in two, and instead were engulfed by its powerful wings. The Persian left and right wings fled back towards their ships.
Stage 3 (August?, September? 490 B.C.)
The seeming success of the Persians turned into a trap, as the Greek lines closed and encircled the middle of the Persian line. Most of the Persian soldiers were trapped within the ring. In close combat, the hoplites demonstrated the superiority of their tactics, method of fighting and equipment, so most of the Persians lost their lives. As fighting back seemed to be hopeless, the soldiers who managed to flee ran for their ship.
Stage 4 (August?, September? 490 B.C.)
A part of the Greek army chased the fleeing Persians, attempting to set their ships on fire (according to sources they managed to capture two of them). The Persians sailed round Sunium in the hope of reaching the undefended city of Athens. But the Hoplites marched away to the defense of their city with all possible speed. According to the legend, a messenger was sent forward to bring the news of the victory (and the approach of the Persians). The messenger managed to arrive in Athens before the Persians (this being the first marathon run).