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At the beginning of the 5th century BC. a formidable external danger hung over Greece. By this time, the Persian state of the Achaemenids was experiencing a period of prosperity (see the article "Ancient Iran"). Its ever expanding political and military expansion directly affected the Greek world. First, the Hellenic policies of the western coast of Asia Minor and the nearby islands were conquered by the Persians. And soon the Persian fleet and ground forces made the first attempt to carry out the occupation of the south of the Balkans.

In 493 BC troops under the command of Mapdonius, son-in-law of King Darius I (521-485 BC), invaded the lands of the Thracian tribes that inhabited the coastal regions of the Northern Aegean, and along the way captured some of the Greek colonial cities located there. The rulers of neighboring Macedonia were also forced to recognize the power of the Persians over themselves.

The reason for the direct invasion of mainland Greece was the help that Athens and Eretria (on the island of Euboea, which lies not far from Attica) had previously provided to the Hellenes of Asia Minor, who rebelled against the despotic power of the Achaemenids. The leading policies of Hellas responded to the ultimatum demand of Darius I to obey him with a decisive refusal. After that, the Persian expeditionary force landed on Euboea and devastated it.


Then he crossed to Attica and on the Marathon plain fought with the Athenian militia, which was much inferior in number to him, to whose aid only detachments from the Boeotian city of Platea managed to come. The outstanding commander Miltiades, who led the Athenian army, correctly assessing the difficult combat situation, overturned the flanks of the enemy formation with a swift blow, after which the main Persian forces, which at first were successful in the center, were utterly defeated. The remnants of the enemy troops fled to the ships in a panic.

With the joyful news of the victory won, a messenger was immediately sent to Athens. The warrior ran more than 42 km without a break and, having informed his fellow citizens about what had happened, fell dead. The Athenian army also hastened to their native city. And, as it turned out, not in vain. The Persian fleet tried to take the Athenians by surprise and attack the city, almost devoid of defenders, but was too late and met the same victorious militia under the command of Miltiades at the proposed landing site, after which he went back to Asia.

For several centuries, the definition of "mysterious Etruscans" has not left the pages of scientific works. The most surprising thing is that, unlike other peoples of the Ancient World, the Etruscans never plunged into the darkness of oblivion. Great Rome took a lot from their culture and passed on its legacy to European civilization. After Rome subjugated the Etruscan cities, the educated and noble representatives of their ancient families continued to play a prominent role. The first Roman kings came from Etruria. A friend of Emperor Octavian Augustus, the patron of poets Gaius Cylnius Maecenas, whose name became a household name, was a descendant of the Etruscan royal family from the city of Arretius. The poets Publius Virgil Maron, Avl of Persia Flaccus, Sextus Propertius came from the Etruscan cities. The closest friend of the famous Roman orator, politician and philosopher Cicero, Aulus Caecina belonged to the most ancient Etruscan family that ruled in the city of Volaterra. The crypt of this family discovered by archaeologists has been used for many centuries. The last in the family was Bishop Tsetsina, who died in 1765.

The works of Greek and Roman writers brought to us numerous information about the powerful Etruscans, their religion, cities surrounded by powerful walls, about rivalry with the Greeks for dominance in the Western Mediterranean. We learn a lot directly from the Etruscans themselves - more precisely, from their heritage that has come down to us. Time did not spare their cities and temples built of unbaked bricks. But the necropolises have survived - the "cities of the dead", satellites of all Etruscan cities. The crypts, repeating the layouts of the residential houses of the nobility, decorated with frescoes and filled with precious utensils, tell about the life of the Etruscans, their ideas about the world and the gods, their art and the level of development of the craft, and extensive trade relations with the peoples of the Mediterranean. In a word, historians have extensive material at their disposal for studying various aspects of the life of ancient Etruria. Then why did the Etruscans remain "mysterious" for centuries? But the fact is that scientists do not know the most important thing: who they are, when and how they appeared in Italy, what language they spoke. Ancient writers argued about the origin of the Etruscans. The Greek historian Herodotus claimed that the Etruscans, or Tyrrhenians, as they were called in antiquity, sailed by sea from Asia Minor Lydia. The writer Dionysius of Halicarnassus, objecting to him, argued that the Etruscans were one of the local Italian peoples. In the work of the Roman historian Titus Livy there is an indication, though very vague, of the northern origin of the Etruscans. The dispute, begun in antiquity, is continued by modern researchers.

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