среда, 2 февраля 2022 г.

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Neither Darius I nor his son Xerxes (485-465 BC), who succeeded him to the throne of the Achaemenids, could reconcile themselves to the failure that befell the Persians in the south of the Balkans. For a long time and carefully prepared a new campaign against Hellas. Finally, in 480 BC. preparations for it are over. A huge army gathered, which included military contingents from all the lands and peoples subject to the Achaemenids. In addition to the Persians, there were Medes and Parthians related to them, Bactrians and Sogdians (from Central Asia), Assyrians and Armenians, Phoenicians and Arabs, Egyptians and Ethiopians, Indians and many others. These multi-tribal hordes crossed the strait to the European coast along two giant floating bridges. But this was only possible on the second attempt: for the first time, the storm swept away the structures, and the Persian king, who personally led the campaign, became furious and ordered the executioners to whip the water surface of the Hellespont (Dardanelles) with whips for her disobedience to the great ruler. A mass of armed people flowed like an iron stream along the northern shore of the Aegean Sea throughout the spring and summer, until they entered the territory of Northern Greece. 

By that time, a coalition of Hellenic policies opposing the Persians had taken shape. The supreme leadership in it was given to Sparta, as having the most combat-ready land army. But no less important role was played in practice by Athens, which had the most significant naval forces. The initiator of the creation of a strong Athenian fleet was the most prominent politician and military leader Themistocles.

The first clash of the army of Xerxes with the Greeks took place at Thermopylae. In this place, extremely convenient for defense, where the road from Northern to Central Greece ran along a narrow passage between rocky mountain steeps and a swampy seashore, the Hellenic commanders hoped to stop the advance of countless enemy hordes. However, forces sufficient to carry out this task were not prepared in a timely manner.

True, the Spartan king Leonid I, who commanded the Greek contingents concentrated here, organized the defense of Thermopylae so skillfully that the Persians, despite their continuous attacks and huge human losses, could not overcome this unexpected and seemingly completely insignificant obstacle. Only when one traitor from among the locals, counting on a generous reward from Xerxes, pointed out to the enemies a bypass path leading through the mountains, everything was decided by the overwhelming numerical superiority of the Persian troops.

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