Persia and the Greeks: The Defence of the West, C. 546- 478 B.C

Persia and the Greeks: The Defence of the West, C. 546- 478 B.C

Persia and the Greeks: The Defence of the West, C. 546- 478 B.C

Persia and the Greeks: The Defence of the West, C. 546- 478 B.C

Excerpt

I N this volume the writer concludes a program of work undertaken many years ago, attempting to produce a readable account of the early age of Greece, from the age of the Trojan War (in Minoans, Philistines and Greeks, 1930) and the late prehistoric (in The World of Hesiod, 1936; both long out of print, and the former largely out of date), through The Lyric Age of Greece (1960), to the eve of the rise of the Athenian Empire. The rise of Greek civilisation was described in the last-named book; in the present work we begin with that of the Persians, one of the great imperial peoples of history, who deserve more sympathetic treatment than, from our inevitably and rightly phil-Hellenic point of view, they have sometimes received. The Persian Wars themselves, too, embrace much more than the great culminating episode of Xerxes' invasion, which Thucydides dismissed as 'settled by two battles at sea and two on land'. He would have been more just if he had compared that, not to the whole length of the Peloponnesian War, but to the one episode of the Sicilian expedition. The Persian wars too, together with the simultaneous struggle against Persia's allies, the Phoenicians, were a prolonged though intermittent series of campaigns, ranging in time from Cyrus' conquest of Ionia in 546 to Kimon's last campaign in Cyprus in 450, and in space extending throughout the whole length of the Mediterranean. To trace the course and connections of these campaigns, together with the rise, just in time to be the decisive factor, of the democracy of Athens and of its sea-power, is a task the more worth attempting for the fact that it has not been the subject of a full-length study since that of Grundy, published in 1899.

The author is greatly indebted to the Director and Faculty of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton for electing him to membership for 1961-2, and thus enabling him to complete the work under ideal conditions, and to the University of Glasgow for granting him leave of absence; also to A. Alföldi, B. D. Meritt, M. H. Jameson . . .

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