Maharashtra State BoardHSC Arts 11th
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The Conflict Between the Iranian (Achaemenid) Empire and Greece

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The Conflict Between the Iranian (Achaemenid) Empire and Greece:

The rising of the Ionian Greeks against the Achaemenid rule is supposed to be significant. Cyrus II conquered Lydia, a Greek state to the north of the Mediterranean Sea, around the mid of the 6th century B.C.E. As a result, the Ionian Greek city-states under the Lydian rule, inevitably became part of the Achaemenid empire. The Greeks in Ionia had migrated to Anatolia, that is, the Asian part of Turkey. It is also known as ‘Asia Minor Ionian Greeks were one of the four major tribes that the Greeks considered themselves to be divided into during the ancient period; the other three being the Dorians, Aeolians, and Achaeans.

By 550 BCE, the Median Empire, which had existed for barely a hundred years, was suddenly torn apart by a Persian rebellion. As Lydia's king, Croesus had a large amount of wealth which to draw from, and he used it to go on the offensive against the Persian king Cyrus the Great. In the end, Croesus was thrust back west and Cyrus burned the Lydian capital Sardis, taking control of Lydia in 546 BCE.

The remaining kingdom of Ionia and several cities of Lydia still refused to fall under Persian domination, and prepared defenses to fight them and sending for aid from Sparta. The Ionian Greeks had received help from the states of ‘Athens’ and ‘Eretria’ in Greece. Hence, Daryush I attacked Athens. At this time the battle between Daryush I and Athens was fought on the grounds of Marathon near Athens. Therefore, it is known as the ‘Battle of Marathon’.

Daryush I was defeated in this battle Since no aid was promised except for a warning to Cyrus from their emissary, eventually, their stance was abandoned and they submitted. This made the Ionian Greeks move from Lydia to Anatolia. Anatolia is the Asian Part of turkey, also known as ‘Asia Minor’.

Xerexes, the successor of Daryush I, tried once again to invade Greece. However, he was also defeated. Thereafter the conflict between the Achaemenids and the Greeks continued over a prolonged time. Ultimately, Athens and the confederacy of other Greek city-states declared a war for independence against the Achaemenid rule in Greece. Neither of the two had a conclusive victory. In 449 B.C.E. a treaty was signed between the Greek confederacy and the Achaemenids.  As the effect of this prolonged conflict, the Achaemenid rule grew weak. This was bound to reflect in the political and financial spheres. An impact of this conflict was to manifest in the way of the invasion of Persia by Alexander III, the king of Macedonia, who was later regarded as the ‘Conqueror of the World’.

Arrian was a Greek historian of the 1st century C.E. He wrote a book called ‘Anabasis of Alexander’. He has referred to the correspondence between Daryush III, the last Achaemenid emperor, and Alexander. Daryush had written to Alexander about the release of his mother, wife, and children. Alexander responded by reminding Daryush of the sorrow inflicted on the Greeks by the earlier invasions of the Achaemenid emperors.

Alexander wrote that he had arrived in Russia by crossing the ocean, with the intention of punishing the aggressive Persians. Next, he accused Daryush of provocating the Greeks against him and he reminded Daryush that he was a defeated king. So Daryush was further snubbed that he should not behave as an equal to Alexander.

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