How did the city-state of Athens defeat the invaders from Persia, the first world empire, on the plain of Marathon in 490 BCE? Clever scholars skeptical of our earliest surviving source, Herodotus, have produced one ingenious theory after another. In this stimulating new book, bound to provoke controversy, Peter Krentz argues that Herodotus was right after all.
Beginning his analysis with the Athenians’ first formal contact with the Persians in 507 BCE, Krentz weaves together ancient evidence with travelers’ descriptions, archaeological discoveries, geological surveys, and the experiences of modern reenactors and soldiers to tell his story.
Krentz argues that before Marathon the Athenian army fought in a much less organized way than the standard view of the hoplite phalanx suggests: as an irregularly armed mob rather than a disciplined formation of identically equipped infantry. At Marathon the Athenians equipped all their fighters, including archers and horsemen, as hoplites for the first time. Because their equipment weighed only half as much as is usually thought, the Athenians and their Plataean allies could charge almost a mile at a run, as Herodotus says they did. Krentz improves on this account in Herodotus by showing why the Athenians wanted to do such a risky thing.
|Publisher:||Yale University Press|
|Series:||Yale Library of Military History|
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)|
Table of Contents
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
While I don't agree with some of Krenz's conclusions, I think the work is important in its detail.
A very readable book. It has precision for the scholar and clear explanations for the military historians and novice alike. Krentz's strength and focus is on a rethinking of the battle itself. He makes a persuasive case for the famous run by the Greek infantry as told by Herodotus, which many historians have simply discounted. He rethinks details of the armor materials and weight, as well as the plain where the battle took place, to arrive at some very fresh conclusions about a clash between the Greeks and Persians 2500 years ago.