Presentation on theme: "Salamis and Plataea. Herodotus and Salamis As usual, Herodotus focuses on the moral issue -Spartan betrayal of Athens- and ignores the strategic realities."— Presentation transcript:
Salamis and Plataea
Herodotus and Salamis As usual, Herodotus focuses on the moral issue -Spartan betrayal of Athens- and ignores the strategic realities. Defending Athens in the flat countryside of Boeotia would have been an act of gallant irresponsibility, because the superior numbers of the invaders would have outmatched the brave Greek soldiers. After Thermopylae, Athens was lost, and the Athenians had been aware of this bitter truth from the moment Themistocles had proposed to evacuate the city and entrust it to the goddess Athena. The only hope for Athens and for Greece was to prevent Xerxes to keep up a large army by destroying his fleet. They had failed to do so at Artemisium; now they would do so in the straits between Salamis and the mainland. Under cover of an almost moonless night, his large navy enters the bay. The Greeks learn from this maneuver from Panaetius, a Greek who had been forced to join the Persian navy and now sees his opportunity to defect – classic theme in Herodotus of betrayal leading to defeat, especially as this individual has been forced to join the Persians, a true Greek would never join them willingly. The events are dramatised in Aeschylus’ play The Persians, which suggests Themistocles intended to lure the Persians in. Task 1: Answer this question (briefly and in bullet point form)……how does Herodotus use Salamis to support the aims of his work?
Plataea Xerxes and his fleet had returned to Persia, but Persian troops remained in Greece, under Mardonius. They stationed themselves for battle in a place suitable for their horsemen -- the plain. Under the Spartan leader Pausanias, the Greeks stationed themselves advantageously in the foothills of Mt. Cithaeron. In time, Mardonius tried to draw the Greeks out, using his cavalry. He failed, so the Persians retreated. Mardonius changed his tactic, using his cavalry to separate the Greeks from their provisions. Eventually, Pausanias took his troops down into the plains where they were still separated from the Persians, but only by a row of hills. Skirmishes broke out and the Persians poisoned the Greek water supply. Pausanias tried to move his troops to another water supply, so he sent the less experienced troops first. The result of his dividing the Greek forces was that the Persians thought the Greeks had split up on the basis of political differences. When Mardonius, now with added confidence, attacked, the various Greek groups rushed in to help each other and defeat the Persians – it is likely that at this point Mardonius was killed, believing he was victorious, only for the Spartans to regain their discipline and decide the outcome of the battle. Athens grew in power and continued to pursue the Persians, so even though the Battle at Plataea was the final, main battle of Greeks against Persians on Greek soil, it wasn't until 449 that Athens and Persia put an end to the Persian Wars. Task 2: Again, answer in bullet point form…..What key theme can you spot from the two battles that Herodotus has used?
Herodotus and Plataea According to Herodotus, Pausanias calls a meeting of commanders to dispense orders for the withdrawal, but one of his own Spartan polemarchs, Amompharetos, refuses to retreat in the face of the enemy. He raises a large boulder, like a voting pebble, and casts his ballot to hold the ridge. Again, an unlikely story—Athenians, not Spartans voted using pebbles; Spartans cast their ballots by shouting. Herodotus describes the army's retreat to Asia as a disaster of apocalyptic dimensions. Because supplies are running out, the soldiers are forced to eat grass. Themistocles sends a messenger to Xerxes that he has persuaded the Greeks not to attack the Hellespont. Xerxes believes this, and Herodotus adds that this message saved Themistocles' life when he fell in disfavor in Athens: several years after the war, the man who had saved Greece was welcomed at the Persian court – a traitorous act. Hubris etc. A story about messengers arriving at the Persian capital first to give the news of victories and a second messenger to describe the defeats strongly resembles Aeschylus’ work – this may have been the source of Herodotus’ work. Herodotus claims the King of Macedonia comes to the Greeks to tell them of the Persian movements, this could well be a mistake and perhaps he was sent by the Persians themselves. Either way, this is further evidence of the intrigue and betrayal that often results from the Persian despotism. Herodotus claims that Artabazus – leader of part of the Persian army - was a coward, as he races back in retreat from the battle. Sources suggest this is untrue and that Artabazus lead an organised and disciplined withdrawal under difficult circumstances. He presumably decided to present Artabazus in this way to ensure that his cowardliness contrasts heavily with the roles of the Greeks in the Battle. Similarly, the role of Aristides is played up, despite Pausanias being the overall commander of the army – note the references to Spartan indiscipline and concerns over their loyalty.
Key themes from the two battles 1.Athenian bravery 2.Spartan near betrayal 3.Leadership of individuals – Themistocles, Aristides, Pausanias 4.Poor leadership of Persians – Mardonius and Artabazus. 5.Betrayal – usually of the Persians by enslaved Greeks 6.Honour, Heroism and unity of the Greeks vrs panic and chaos of Persian retreat. Your task: Write as many examples of each of these themes as you can from the text we have studied surrounding the two battles.
Homework questions: 1.Read Herodotus books 6-9 that we have covered. 2.Prepare notes on the key events and themes in the following areas: - Role of individuals - Reporting of military events - Betrayal - Revenge - Hubris - Athens