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To make the below make a bit of sense, here's a few random facts about the Battle of Marathon. (If one can be said to have a favourite battle this might be mine, though I am also very fond of Salamis and Teutoburg Forest.)

1. The Spartans didn't turn up for Marathon. They said they were busy celebrating the Carneia. They did show up after the battle and say that the Athenians hadn't done a bad job, which I am sure was very useful and much appreciated. Later on they and the Thebans did burn Plataea to the ground and turn the place into a giant inn.

2. Aeschylus' brother died at Marathon when he grabbed a Persian ship and had his arm chopped off for his troubles. This may or may not be the reason why Aeschylus went on to write long tragedies that make you cry when you read them in Greek. And that's not because they're so sad.

3. Miltiades, the Athenian general, did actually have tactics for this battle. This is surprising because usually everyone argues that only the Spartans had the training to manage anything more than running at people and hoping for the best.

4. According to Herodotus the Persians suffered 6,400 losses, while the Athenians and the Plataeans suffered...192. That's a 30:1 ratio. Take that, Spartans!

And here's some pictures of Miltiades' helmet from Olympia and the tumulus of the Athenians at the site of the Battle. According to legend you can hear horses neigh and the clash of armour at night there.

Sadly, they won't let you take pictures in the museum of Marathon, so I don't have a shot of the pillar they put up at the site or the grave goods recovered from the burial of the Greek dead.

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lesbiassparrow

August 2011

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