In 479 BCE, ancient city-state rivals, the Spartans and Athenians, joined in alliance against Persia, 50 years before the infamous Peloponnesian War. Together, they took the Oath of Plataea, revealing deep-seated anxieties about how the defeat would be remembered in history… and to whom the credit would fall. Paul Cartledge takes a comprehensive look at the events leading up to and consequences following the defeat of the Persians at the Battle of Plataea in After Thermopylae.
The Aegean Greek World in the Classical Period.
From Cartledge, Ancient Greece (2009)
The Persian Empire. From Bang and Scheidel, The Oxford Handbook of the State in the Ancient Near East and Mediterraena (2013).
A non-veristic idealized image of the ‘Father of History’, Herodotus, whose Histories (‘Researches’) is the ultimate basis of any subsequent account of the Graeco-Persian Wars. Gianni Dagli Orti / The Art Archive at Art Resource, NY.
The Great King of Persia (Darius I) enthroned at his palace of Persepolis, Iran, c. 515 BCE. © The Trustees of the British Museum.
Attic Red-Figure Jug
An Athenian lady with her oriental servant surmounts the moulded head of a bearded Persian warrior; Attic red-figure jug c. 410-400, from Nola, Italy. © The Trustees of the British Museum.
The ‘Immortals’, as the Greeks knew a Persian King’s elite guard on campaign, depicted on glazed bricks from the Palace of Susa, Iran. Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY.
Small bronze figurine, 6th-century BCE, depicting a Spartan commander, possibly a king, wearing his characteristic (red) cloak. Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art/Art Resource, NY.
Bronze helmet of the Corinthian
Bronze helmet of the ‘Corinthian’ (all-over) type, of the period of the Battle of Plataea. © The Trustees of the British Museum.
Serpent Column monument to Apollo
The official monument dedicated by the victorious Greeks to Apollo at Delphi (subsequently removed to Constantinople/Istanbul, where its partial remains subsist in the old Hippodrome) took the form of a triple-coiled, triple-headed snake, whence ‘Serpent Column’; above the snakes’ heads originally was perched a golden cauldron. Vanni/Art Resource, NY.
Temple of Athena victory over Persians
The Athenians’ Temple of Athena Nike (Victory), c. 415/405 BCE, bore a relief frieze depicting a heroic victory of Athenians over Persians. © The Trustees of the British Museum.