Two new titles every week when you join Gateway to the Classics
DARIUS DEMANDS EARTH AND WATER
 THE Ionian revolt was ended, but Darius had yet to punish the
Athenians for burning the city of Sardis. Eight years had
now passed since she had been destroyed, yet his anger
against the Greeks was as fierce as ever.
Daily during all these years a slave had said to him as he
sat at dinner, "Sire, remember the Athenians." And now, at
length, his vengeance was at hand.
Mardonius, one of the king's generals, was ordered to invade
Greece and to bring back with him to Susa the Athenians who
had dared to destroy Sardis.
So Mardonius crossed the Hellespont, and began to march
through Thrace and Macedonia. His fleet, with part of his
army, was to meet him later, beyond the perilous promontory
of Mount Athos.
The country through which Mardonius marched was wild, and
inhabited by rough and savage tribes. These tribes attacked
the Persian troops so fiercely that more than half of them
were slain. Meanwhile the fleet had encountered a terrible
storm, and three hundred ships were dashed to pieces upon
the rocks near Mount Athos, while twenty thousand were
When Mardonius heard of this terrible disaster he knew that
his troops would not now be strong enough to invade Greece.
So he went back to Persia.
But Darius was as determined as ever to punish the
Athenians. He spent two years in preparations, and then,
 before he set out for Greece, he sent heralds to the
different states, demanding from each earth and water. To
give earth to the great king was to acknowledge him as ruler
of their land, to give water was to own that he was monarch
of the sea.
Many of the states were afraid to refuse, and sent the earth
and water which Darius demanded, but among these was neither
Athens nor Sparta.
So indignant were these two cities that a barbarian, as they
called Darius, should send such a demand to the free States
of Greece, that they treated his heralds with scant
courtesy. The Athenians flung the messenger who came to
their city into a deep pit, while he who went to Sparta was
tossed into a well and told that there he would find the
earth and water that his king desired.
In the spring of 490 B.C. Darius sent the army and fleet
that he had assembled, across the Ægean Sea to the island
of Euboea. Here there was a city named Eretria, whose
inhabitants had shared in the destruction of Sardis. The
Persians plundered the city and took its chief citizens
prisoners, loading them with chains.
Flushed with victory, the army then crossed over to Attica
and landed near the plain of Marathon. There where
"The mountains look on Marathon,
And Marathon looks on the sea,"
a great battle was fought between the Greeks and the
Hippias, the tyrant who had fled from Athens many years
before, had been living under the protection of Darius and
was now with the Persian army. It is said that it was he
who had advised the enemy to land at Marathon.
The army of Darius was much larger than that of the
Athenians, for it was one hundred thousand strong, while the
Greeks numbered only about ten thousand trained soldiers.
 The Greeks were commanded by ten generals. If they did not
agree how to attack the enemy or how to defend themselves,
they consulted one of the archons called the polemarch, or
commander-in-chief. The polemarch at this time was
Callimachus. But the glory of the victory of Marathon
belongs not to Callimachus but to the general Miltiades.
It was Miltiades who had urged the Greeks to break up the
bridge of boats at the Danube and to leave Darius to his
fate, and he had ever rebelled against the lordship of the
Persian king. He had done all he could to encourage the
Ionian revolt, and when it was crushed he fled to Athens, to
which city he belonged.
When the Persians landed at Marathon the ten Greek generals
met together to decide how best they might defend their
country. Five of them, among whom Miltiades was the most
urgent, wished to march at once to Marathon to attack the
enemy. But the other five were more timid, and said that it
would be better to wait until they were joined by the other
Greek States before they risked a battle.
Then Miltiades rose in the council of war to beg Callimachus
to give his vote for war without delay. So sure was he of
success that his eagerness decided the polemarch to give his
vote as Miltiades wished. Thus it was settled that the army
should march to Marathon without delay.
At this time an army was usually drawn up for battle in
three divisions—the right wing, the left wing, and the
On the field of Marathon, Miltiades made his wings as deep
as possible, but as his army was small, this left his centre
less strong than that of the enemy.