the cause of the persian wars b

The Persian Wars were fought between the years 490 and 479 B. C. Many individuals have their own opinions on how the war began and who to blame. It has been hypothesised that Aristagoras’ self-interest and failed ventures are what sparked the inevitable conflict between the Persians and Greeks. This essay will explain why the Persians despised Aristagoras, outline why the revolt began, who was involved and how they became involved, then, finally, provide an evaluation of the Ionian Revolt.

Histiaeus had been set up as tyrant of Miletus by the Persians. Miletus prospered as a trading centre because of its important maritime location and its propinquity to the famous sanctuary of Apollo at Didyma. In 511 BC, Histiaeus had been appointed to serve Darius I at Susa as his trusted royal advisor, leaving his position to his son-in-law, Aristagoras. Aristagoras’ first major act as tyrant (and failure) occurred when upper-class citizens had been exiled by Naxos during a revolt where they arrived at Miletus in hopes of finding protection.

When the Naxians pleaded Aristagoras for support in 502 BC, he instantly began to contemplate the advantages of helping them. Aristagoras agreed in the hope that he would become ruler of Naxos. Because of his lack of troops, he informed the Naxians that he would visit the Persian satrap of Lydia and request further aid. The Naxians empowered Aristagoras to do their business with Artaphernes to the best of his ability and supplied him with money.

According to Herodotus, Aristagoras arrived in Sardis and began to woo Artaphernes with the introductory statement, “Make war upon this land and reinstate the exiles, for if thou wilt do this, first of all, I have very rich gifts in store for thee and secondly, thou will bring under the power of the king not only Naxos but other islands which depend on it… ” Artaphernes’ counsel was all in good points as the plan may advantage the king. A vast Persian army, their confederates and a promised fleet of two hundred triremes were sent forward. Artaphernes named Megabates to the command creating tension between Megabates and Aristagoras.

He then quarrelled with Megabates for entreating his Myndian friend (Scylax) shamefully. He took it upon himself to release the man and sail away to warn Naxos to save himself. Up until the point of Aristagoras’ arrival, the lower-classed citizens of Naxos had had no warning of the attack against them. Thus when the fleet arrived, Naxos was in a mode of defence, prepared for the four month siege ahead. When the Persians ran out of supplies and funds, they withdrew to the mainland having completely failed in their quest. The failure of obtaining a Persian victory on Naxos was what caused Aristagoras’ political position to be at risk.

Aristagoras began to contemplate revolt. Histiaeus (still held by Darius I) tattooed, on the shaved head of a slave, a message telling Aristagoras to revolt. It is said that Histiaeus sent this message because he wanted to see Miletus again and hoped that Darius would send him to deal with the revolt. In a desperate attempt to save himself from the fury of Persia, he discussed the proposal of revolt with a council of his most trusted friends and supporters who were citizens of Miletus. All were in favour of raising a rebellion in Miletus in 499 BC except the historian, Hecataeus. Nevertheless, revolt was the final decision from the council.

Deposing the despots in other Ionian states gained him support after he sent men to Myus to capture the Persian fleet commanders. Aristagoras ordered every state to create a board of generals to rule, thus beginning the Ionian Revolt. He then sailed to Lacedaemon in search of a powerful ally. In 498 BC, Aristagoras attended an interview with Spartan king, Cleomones I, to encourage him to permit his warriors to assist during the revolt. According to Herodotus, Aristagoras addressed the Spartan king with words such as, “O Spartans, beyond the rest of the Greeks, inasmuch the pre-eminence over all Greece appertains to you.

We beseech you, therefore, by the common gods of the Grecians, deliver the Ionians, who are your own kinsmen, from slavery. Truly the task is not difficult; for the barbarians are an unwarlike people; and you are the best and bravest warriors in the whole world. ” These few opening sentences show that Aristagoras is praising the Spartans for their dominant reputation of strength. Aristagoras continues with: – “Their mode of fighting is the following: they use bows and arrows and a short spear; they wear trousers in the field, and cover their heads with turbans.

So easy are they to vanquish! Know too that the dwellers in these parts have more good things than all the rest of the world put together — gold, and silver, and brass, and embroidered garments, beasts of burthen, and bond-servants — all which, if you only wish it, you may soon have for your own. ” A few more techniques can be seen in this part of the speech. Aristagoras begins by making a mockery of the opposition and once again claims that they’re only too easy to vanquish for thy Spartan warrior.

He then introduces wealth and riches that would come of this war. He progresses to the stage of noting what each nation has to offer making sure to leave out anything that might sway the kings mind from choosing to side with him, “The nations border on one another, in the order which I will now explain. Next to these Ionians these Lydians dwell; their soil is fertile, and few people are so rich in silver. Next to them, come these Phrygians, who have more flocks and herds than any race that I know, and more plentiful harvests.

On them border the Cappadocians, whom we Greeks know by the name of Syrians: they are neighbours to the Cilicians, who extend all the way to this sea, where Cyprus (the island which you see here) lies. The Cilicians pay the king a yearly tribute of five hundred talents. Next to them come the Armenians, who live here — they too have numerous flocks and herds. After them come the Matieni, inhabiting this country; then Cissia, this province, where you see the river Choaspes marked, and likewise the town Susa upon its banks, where the Great King holds his court, and where the treasuries are in which his wealth is stored.

Once masters of this city, you may be bold to vie with Jove himself for riches. In the wars which ye wage with your rivals of Messenia, with them of Argos likewise and of Arcadia, about paltry boundaries and strips of land not so remarkably good, ye contend with those who have no gold, nor silver even, which often give men heart to fight and die. Must ye wage such wars, and when ye might so easily be lords of Asia, will ye decide otherwise? “

All the effort that Aristagoras put into the interview is declined by Cleomenes when he asks, “How many days’ journey was it from the sea of the Ionians to the king’s residence? ” Aristagoras trips in his speech and plainly said that it was a journey of three months. Cleomenes knew that Sparta was already concerned with possible attacks from the Argives and prevented Aristagoras from saying anything and spoke the following: – “Milesian stranger, quit Sparta before sunset. This is no good proposal that thou makest to the Lacedaemonians, to conduct them a distance of three months’ journey from the sea. ”

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