By William Shepherd
Plataea was once one of many largest and most crucial land battles of pre-20th century heritage. with reference to 100,000 hoplite and light-armed Greeks took on a fair higher barbarian military that incorporated elite Asian cavalry and infantry from as far-off as India, with hundreds of thousands of Greek hoplites and cavalry additionally scuffling with at the Persian facet. At issues within the numerous days of conflict, the Persians with their extra fluid, missile strategies got here just about breaking the Greek line of defense and removing their offers. yet, in a deadly misjudgement while he approximately had the conflict received, their common Mardonius dedicated the cream of his infantry to close-quarters wrestle with the Spartans and their Peloponnesian allies. He died and his males have been ultimately overwhelmed by way of heavier weaponry and enhanced self-discipline. in the meantime, 250 miles to the east, the Greek army inflicted an both decisive defeat at the Persians, neutralising Xerxes' seapower within the Aegean. The tiny minority of Greek urban states that truly took up palms opposed to the invading forces of the mightiest empire but noticeable within the historic international had halted its western enlargement and pushed it back.
The reconstruction of the conflict of Plataea will draw on fresh persuasive educational interpretations of the textual resources and visible facts (mainly from near-contemporary vase work) for the early 5th-century approach to hoplite fighting.
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Extra info for Plataea 479 BC: The most glorious victory ever seen (Campaign, Volume 239)
They pause while Mardonius sends a cavalry force to Megara to attack the Greek advance guard. It has not yet arrived so the cavalry rejoins them and they continue into Boeotia. The Persians take up position on the north bank of the Asopus and build a fort. The Greeks assemble at Eleusis and then take the shorter route across Cithaeron into Boeotia. The Greeks arrive and take up position facing them from the northern foothills of Cithaeron. PELOPONNESE Corinth Wall Gulf of Corinth s 3 Megara 2 Eleutherae 5 Hysiae Fort Saronic Gulf Cithaeron Plataea Asopu B O E O T I A Thebes Oinoe Erythrae Skolos Aegina Salamis Eleusis 4 Thriasian Plain Tanagra a Piraeus P r n Acharnes Phaleron Athens 1 e s 0 0 A T T I C A Marathon EUBOEA 10km 10 miles Routes taken by Greek army Routes taken by Persian army Pentelicon Deceleia Hyme ttu s N Attica and Boeotia ABOVE View a little west of south from the area of the Persian fort.
30 Alongside physical fitness and the straightforward code of behaviour, the heavy shield and spear were the only other constants throughout the four-century hoplite era. Up to about halfway through the 5th century BC a hoplite’s weapons were his personal possessions, not state-issued; they were his qualification for the role, as was the level of personal wealth they represented. Shields, body armour, helmets and swords, if inherited, were part of a man’s wealth. Otherwise he needed to be able to pay the equivalent of many weeks of a craftsman’s wage to acquire his kit.
Increasingly hard pressed, the Megarians sent a message to the Greek generals calling for urgent support and threatening to retreat. Herodotus writes that Pausanias called for volunteers to relieve the Megarians and that only the Athenians were willing to do this. They sent ‘300 picked men’ (logades) with their unit of a few hundred archers. The 300 seem to have been an elite group of hoplites at their physical peak and more highly trained than the rest of the Athenian army. Other states, most notably Sparta with its ‘knights’ and Thebes with its ‘sacred band’, are known to have fielded similar units.