Warfare > Second Persian Invasion of Greece

Second Persian Invasion of Greece


The Second Persian Invasion of Greece, also known as the Greco-Persian Wars, occurred in 480-479 BCE and was a pivotal conflict between the Persian Empire and an alliance of Greek city-states. The First Persian Invasion of Greece in 490 BCE, culminating in the Battle of Marathon, saw the Persian Empire under King Darius I attempting to punish Athens for its support of the Ionian Revolt. The Second Invasion was prompted by Persian desire for revenge and expansion under King Xerxes I, Darius's successor.

Key Players:

Persian Empire: Led by King Xerxes I, the Persian Empire boasted a massive army and navy, seeking to conquer and subjugate the Greek city-states.

Greek Alliance: Led by Athens and Sparta, a coalition of Greek city-states united to resist Persian aggression and defend their freedom.

Major Events:

Xerxes's Preparations: Xerxes spent years assembling a vast army and fleet, including soldiers and ships from all corners of the empire, to launch the invasion of Greece.

Thermopylae and Artemisium: In 480 BCE, Persian forces under Xerxes invaded Greece. At the Battle of Thermopylae, a small force led by King Leonidas of Sparta held off the Persian army for several days. Simultaneously, Greek and Persian fleets clashed at the Battle of Artemisium.

Battle of Salamis: Following the fall of Thermopylae, the Greek fleet, led by Themistocles, lured the Persian navy into the narrow straits of Salamis. In the ensuing battle, the Greeks achieved a decisive victory, crippling the Persian naval power.

Battle of Plataea: In 479 BCE, the Greek forces, led by Spartan general Pausanias, decisively defeated the Persians at the Battle of Plataea on land, while the Greek fleet defeated the remnants of the Persian navy at the Battle of Mycale on the same day.


The Second Persian Invasion of Greece ended in failure for the Persians, as their massive army and navy were defeated by the smaller but highly motivated Greek forces. The Greek victory at Plataea marked the end of the Persian threat to Greece and ensured the preservation of Greek independence and culture.


The Greco-Persian Wars are regarded as a defining moment in Western history, symbolizing the triumph of Greek democracy, freedom, and military prowess over Persian despotism and tyranny. The battles of Thermopylae, Salamis, and Plataea have become legendary, celebrated in literature, art, and popular culture as examples of courage, sacrifice, and defiance. In summary, the Second Persian Invasion of Greece was a pivotal conflict that shaped the course of Western civilization, culminating in Greek victory and the preservation of Greek freedom and autonomy.

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