Battle of Plataea

Dafato Team | May 30, 2022

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The Battle of Plataea was the decisive land battle of the Second Persian War. It was fought in August 479 BC near the city of Plataea in Boeotia between an alliance of Greek city-states, including Sparta, Athens, Corinth and Megara, and the Persian empire of Xerxes I.

The previous year Persian troops, led by the Great King himself, had collected victories, sometimes paid dearly, in the battles of Thermopylae and Artemisium and had conquered Thessaly, Boeotia, Euboea, and Attica. However, at the Battle of Salamis, the Greek fleet had won a crushing victory over the Persians, preventing them from conquering the Peloponnese. Xerxes then withdrew with most of his army, leaving his general Mardonius to winter in Greece to finally defeat the Greeks the following year.

In the summer of 479 B.C. the Greeks gathered a huge army of 100,000 men and marched out of the Peloponnese. The Persians, who could count on an army two to three times that of the Greeks, retreated into Boeotia and set up a fortified camp near the city of Plataea. The Greeks avoided giving battle in the vast terrain around the Persian camp, which was favorable to the enemy cavalry, and a stalemate that lasted eleven days ensued. During an attempted retreat by the Greeks, since they had been prevented from accessing supplies, the Allied ranks fragmented, leading Mardonius to think that his enemies were on the run. The Persians thus pursued the Greeks, but the Greeks, particularly the Spartans, Tegeans, and Athenians, stopped and attacked battle, turning the enemy light troops to flight and killing Mardonius.

Much of the Persian army was trapped in the camp and massacred. The destruction of this army and the remains of the Persian fleet, presumably on the same day near Mycale, ended the war. After Plataea and Mycale would begin a new phase of the Persian wars, the Greek redemption. Although the victory at Plataea was brilliant, both in antiquity and nowadays it is not given the same importance as the battles of Marathon and Thermopylae.

The only primary source for the Ionian revolt is the Greek historian Herodotus. This one, also called by the epithet "Father of History," was born in 484 B.C. in Halicarnassus, a city at that time under Persian rule. Between 440 and 430 B.C. he wrote the Histories (in ancient Greek: Ἰστορίαι), researching in these writings the origins of the Persian wars, events belonging to a past not very distant from that time having ended finally in 450 B.C. Herodotus' approach to historical narrative was entirely new, so much so that he is credited with the authorship of modern historiography. Many historians recognize the importance of his work: Tom Holland goes so far as to say that "for the first time a historian sought to trace the origins of a conflict so close that it was not shrouded in fabulous circumstances, the whims and wishes of some god, the necessity of a people's destiny, bringing explanations that he could verify for himself."

Beginning with Thucydides, some subsequent ancient historians, while following his lead, criticized his work. However, Thucydides himself began his own work from where Herodotus had ended his, namely at the siege of Sextus: it can be inferred that he presumably considered the version of events given by Herodotus accurate enough not to need rewriting or correction. Plutarch criticized Herodotus in his work On the Malignity of Herodotus, where he describes him as close to the positions of the Persians (in ancient Greek: φιλοβάρβαρος, "friend of the barbarians") and not philhellenic enough, which, however, might even prove the impartiality of Herodotus and his work. Until the Renaissance a negative view of Herodotus was handed down, who nevertheless remained a widely read author. Beginning in the 19th century, however, the historian was rehabilitated thanks to the discovery of some archaeological finds that confirmed his version of events. Today it is believed that Herodotus with the writing of his Histories did a remarkable job, although some of the specific details, particularly troop numbers and dates, should be viewed with skepticism. Nevertheless, there are still many historians who consider Herodotus' account characterized not only by an anti-Persian connotation but also by the addition of dramatic details inserted in order to enrich the narrative.

The Sicelian historian Diodorus, who wrote his Bibliotheca historica in the first century B.C., also provides an account of the Persian wars, derived mainly from the work of the earlier Greek historian Ephorus; his version is fairly consistent with that of Herodotus. The Persian wars are also described by Ctesia of Cnidus, a Greek physician in the Persian court whose writing Persica has been preserved thanks to an epitome by Photius, and by many authors who lived in later centuries, such as Plutarch and Cornelius Nepos. There are also numerous scattered mentions in the various plays of fifth-century B.C.E. Athens, for example in those of the tragedian Aeschylus.Some archaeological discoveries, such as the serpentine column, support the version of events given by Herodotus.

The Greek πόλεις (poleis) of Athens and Eretria had supported, between 499 B.C. and 494 B.C., the unsuccessful Ionian revolt against the Persian empire of Darius I: the empire was still relatively young and vulnerable to revolt by the peoples it subjugated. Moreover, Darius was a usurper and spent much time putting down revolts against his rule. The Ionian revolt threatened the integrity of his empire, and he vowed to punish all the peoples involved in it, particularly those who were not already part of the empire. Darius, with the First Persian War, also saw an opportunity to expand his empire into the fragmented world of ancient Greece. After an initial expedition led by Mardonius in 492 B.C.E., in which Thrace was reconquered and Macedonia became a vassal kingdom of Persia, Dati and Artafernes, in 490 B.C.E., arrived in Greece with a large army, destroying Eretria and threatening Athens; the Athenians, however, managed to repel the threat of the invaders with the Battle of Marathon.

Darius then began again to assemble a huge new army with which to completely subdue Greece, but he died before the invasion began. The throne of Persia passed to his son Xerxes I, who, having completed the preparations, including the construction of two pontoon bridges across the Hellespont, sent ambassadors to Greece in 481 B.C. to ask for "land and water" as a symbol of their submission; not, however, to Athens and Sparta, which, on the occasion of Darius' previous expedition, had killed the Persian ambassadors sent to them to equally ask for submission. An alliance was formed around these two polis, formalized by a congress held in Corinth in the late autumn of 481 B.C.: the formation of this league was a great achievement for the Greek world, traditionally made up of cities in constant struggle with each other.

The Allies initially attempted to block by land and sea the enemy troops heading toward southern Greece. Thus, in August 480 B.C.E., a small Allied army led by the Spartan king Leonidas tried to hold back the Persians near the pass of Thermopylae while the Athenian fleet fought with the invaders near Cape Artemisius. During the Battle of Thermopylae, the outnumbered Greek troops held off the Persians for three days before being overwhelmed thanks to Ephialtes' revelation of a mountain path that allowed the invaders to outflank the Allied positions. Much of the Greek army retreated, leaving only the rear guard, consisting of 300 Spartiates and a few other allies, which was annihilated. The simultaneous battle of Cape Artemisius, consisting of a series of naval engagements, was in a stalemate; on news of the loss of Thermopylae the fleet also withdrew, Artemisius being a difficult point to hold.

After Thermopylae the Persian army occupied and sacked the cities of Boeotia that had not surrendered, Plataea and Thespias, after which it took possession of Athens, which had already been evacuated. The allied army, meanwhile, prepared to defend the Isthmus of Corinth. Xerxes wished to achieve an overwhelming victory over the Greeks to complete the conquest of Greece before winter; the Allies, on the other hand, sought to defeat the Persian fleet to ensure the safety of the Peloponnese. The naval battle of Salamis, in which a brilliant Athenian victory was witnessed, marked a turning point in the conflict: Xerxes retreated to Asia with the bulk of his army, fearing that the Greeks would sail to the Hellespont and destroy the pontoon bridges, thus trapping his army in Europe. The Great King left Mardonius in Greece with part of the troops to complete the conquest of Greece the following year. Mardonius evacuated Attica and wintered in Thessaly; the Athenians reoccupied their destroyed city.

During the winter some tension arose among the Allies: the Athenians, in particular, who were not protected by the isthmus but whose fleet had been crucial to the security of the Peloponnese, fought for an army to be sent north the following year. Since the Allies did not give in to Athens' demands, the Athenian fleet in the spring did not join those of the other Greek states. The Allied ships, under the command of the Spartan king Leotychidas, stealthily sailed from Delos, while the remnants of the Persian fleet, in turn, sneaked out of Samos, unwilling to attack battle. Similarly, Mardonius remained in Thessaly, knowing that an attack on the isthmus was futile, while the Allies refused to send an army out of the Peloponnese.

Mardonius tried to break the stalemate by attempting to endear himself to the Athenians and their fleet through the mediation of Alexander I of Macedon, who offered them peace, self-government, and territorial expansion. The Athenians also wanted a Spartan delegation to hear the offer, so they rejected it.

After this refusal the Persians marched south again. Athens was once again evacuated and abandoned to the enemy. Mardonius repeated his offer of peace to the Athenian refugees at Salamis. Athens, along with Megara and Plataea, sent emissaries to Sparta asking for help and threatening to accept Persian terms if this did not come. According to Herodotus, the Spartans, who were celebrating the feast of Hyacinthus at the time, postponed the decision until they were persuaded by a guest, Chileus of Tegea, who emphasized the danger to all Greece if the Athenians surrendered.

When Mardonius learned of the arrival of the Spartan troops he completed the destruction of Athens, knocking down everything that was left standing. He then retreated toward Thebes, hoping to draw the Greek army into territory suitable for Persian cavalry. Mardonius built a fortified camp on the north bank of the River Asopus in Boeotia, extending from Eritre, past Isie, to the environs of Plataea.

The Athenians sent to aid the Allied army 8,000 Hoplites led by Aristides along with 600 Plataeans. The Allies then marched toward Boeotia through the passes of Mount Cytheron, arriving near Plataea in a commanding position over the Persian camp. Under the leadership of commander Pausanias, the Greeks deployed in front of the enemy lines but remained in an elevated area. Well aware that he had little chance of successfully attacking the Greek positions, Mardonius tried to sow discord among the Allies and draw them to the plain. Plutarch relates that a plot hatched by some prominent Athenians, who were planning to betray the Allies, was uncovered; although this information is not entirely verifiable, it is significant in pointing to Mardonius' attempts to break the concord among the Greeks.

Mardonius also initiated lightning-fast cavalry attacks against enemies, attempting to draw them, driven by pursuit, toward the plain. While achieving some initial success this strategy failed when the Persian cavalry commander Masistius was killed; after his death the cavalry retreated.

The Hellenes, invigorated by this small victory, moved forward, remaining always on the heights, until they held a new position closer to the Persians and more suitable for an encampment, being more accessible to water. The Spartans and Tegeans placed themselves on a ridge to the right of the formation, the Athenians on a knoll to the left, and the other contingents in the middle, on slightly lower ground. In response Mardonius led his men ready to fight all the way to the Asopus; however, neither the Persians nor the Greeks attacked battle. Herodotus claims that they did not because both sides had received bad omens during ritual sacrifices. The armies thus remained encamped in their positions for eight days, during which time the new Greek troops arrived.

Mardonius tried to break the stalemate by sending his cavalry to attack the passes of Mount Cytheron; this operation led to the capture of a convoy of supplies destined for the Greeks. Two more days passed, during which the Allied supply columns continued to be threatened. Mardonius then began to prevent the new troops from reaching the Greeks. The Persian general then launched another cavalry attack on the Greek lines, which succeeded in preventing the enemies from reaching the Gargafiana spring, their only source of water since they could not use the Asopus because of the Persian archers constantly deployed in its defense. This shortage of food and water made the Greek position untenable, so that the Allies decided to retreat in front of Plataea, from where they could defend the passes and have access to running water. To prevent Persian cavalry from attacking them during the retreat they decided that they would move that same night.

The retreat, however, did not go as planned. The Allied troops in the center of the deployment lost their position and arrived in front of Plataea in a confused manner. The Athenians, Tegeans, and Spartans, who were in the rear guard, had not yet moved from the field at dawn. A Spartan division was therefore left on the ridge to guard the rear of the deployment, while the Spartans and Tegeans retreated over the mountain; Pausanias also ordered the Athenians to begin their retreat and, if possible, to unite with the Spartans. The Athenians, however, at first retreated directly toward Plataea, causing further fragmentation of the allied troops while in the Persian camp the lookouts became aware of the retreat.

Greek forces

According to Herodotus, the Spartans sent 45,000 men: 5,000 Spartiates, fully citizens, 5,000 other Hoplites, from the ranks of the Periecians, and 35,000 Iloths (seven from each Spartiate). This, probably, was the largest Spartan army ever assembled. The Greek troops also consisted of oplites contingents from the other allied polis, as shown in the table below. Diodorus Siculus claims that the Hellenic soldiers numbered nearly a hundred thousand.

According to Herodotus there were 69,500 lightly armed soldiers (including 35,000 Iliotes and 34,500 men from the rest of Greece), about one for each Hoplite. Within the 34 500 were non-Spartan soldiers along with 800 Athenian archers, mentioned by Herodotus later in the unfolding of the battle. The same historian also adds 1 800 lightly armed Thespians, so that the total troops amounted to 110 000 men.

The number of hoplites is commonly accepted and believed to be plausible: suffice it to say that the Athenians alone had fielded 10,000 at the Battle of Marathon. Some historians also believe the number of light troops to be true and use it as a census of the population of Greece at the time, claiming that Athens, for example, deployed a fleet of 180 triremes at Salamis ruled by about 36 000 oarsmen and fighters (200 people per ship). However, the number of light troops is often rejected as exaggerated, especially the ratio of seven hilotes per single Spartiata. Lazenby, for example, believes in the number of hoplites and the relationship whereby each one corresponded to one lightly armed soldier, but he considers the number of seven hilots per Spartiata to be false. It is assumed that each Spartiata was accompanied by one armed ilota, and that the remaining six were employed for other purposes, such as transporting food for the army. Both Lazenby and Holland believe that the light troops, whatever their numbers, did not play a major role in the clash.

The fact that, at the time of the battle, the Allies needed troops for the fleet, which amounted to at least 110 triremes totaling 22,000 men, complicates matters. Since the Battle of Mycale was fought almost simultaneously with the Battle of Plataea, therefore, at least 22 000 men could not fight in the latter, which makes it unlikely that 110 000 soldiers were assembled at Plataea, as Herodotus claims.

The Greek troops were, as agreed at the Allied congress, under the command of Sparta, represented by Pausanias, at that time regent to Leonidas' young son Plistarchus, his cousin. Diodorus states that the Athenian contingent was under the command of Aristides; it is therefore likely that the other contingents also had their leaders. Herodotus recounts several times that the Greeks held war councils at the beginning of the battle, which shows that decisions were made together and that Pausanias had no right to command over the other generals. This factor contributed during the battle to a breakdown of the various contingents: for example, in the time immediately before the battle, Pausanias failed to order the Athenians to join his troops, causing the Greeks to fight separately.

Persian forces

According to Herodotus, the Persians numbered about 300,000, composed of Persian, Middle, Bactrian, Indian, and Sacian troops; these were accompanied by troops from the city-states and Greek regions that had rallied to their side, among which were Thebes, Locris, Malia, Thessaly, Phocis (only in part), and Macedonia. Herodotus admits that no one took the trouble to count these last, but he estimates them at around 50,000.

Ctesia, who wrote a history of Persia based on Persian archives, claims that there were 120 000 Persians and 7 000 Greeks, but his account is very confusing: for example, he places this battle before the battle of Salamis and states that only 300 Spartans, 1 000 Periecians and 6 000 from the other cities were in Plataea, perhaps confusing this battle with the battle of Thermopylae.

Diodorus Siculus, in his Bibliotheca historica, claims that the number of Persian troops was about 500,000.

The figure of 300 000 has been questioned, along with many of the numbers provided by Herodotus, by many historians; modern scholars estimate the total troops for the Second Persian War at around 250 000. According to this figure, the 300 000 Persians present at Plataea would obviously be an error. To roughly calculate the size of the Persian army, attempts were made to take into account how many men could be contained in the Persian camp, arriving at figures between 70 000 and 120 000 soldiers. Lazenby, considering the later Roman camps, calculates the number of troops at 70 000, including 10 000 cavalry. Connolly, again starting from the width of the camp, gives a number of 120 000 soldiers: most estimates for Persian forces generally fall within this range. Delbrück, for example, based on the distance the Persians traveled in one day before the attack on Athens, concluded that 75 000 men was the upper limit for the size of the Persian army, including support personnel and other unarmed personnel.

The hasty march toward Plataea may be reminiscent of the Hoplites' rush at the Battle of Marathon; in both, moreover, there had been a prolonged stalemate in which neither side ventured to attack the other. The reasons for this stalemate were primarily tactical and similar to those at Marathon; the Greek hoplites did not want to risk being overwhelmed by Persian cavalry, and the lightly armed Persian infantry could not hope for a favorable assault on well-defended positions.

According to Herodotus both sides hoped for a decisive battle that would turn the situation in their favor. However, Lazenby argues that Mardonius' actions before and during the Plataea battle were not characteristic of an aggressive strategy: he considers Persian moves during the early stages of the clash to be attempts to defeat the Allies not in battle, but in retreat (as later occurred). Mardonius may have realized that he did not have much to gain in battle, while he could have waited for the Greek alliance to destroy itself; besides, he had applied this strategy throughout the winter.

Regarding whether Mardonius was willing to accept battle on his own terms, as Herodotus relates, there are some doubts. Regardless of the precise reasons, the initial strategic situation allowed both sides to stall, since both Greeks and Persians were abundantly supplied with food. Given these conditions, tactical considerations counterbalanced the strategic need to take military action.

When Mardonius' attacks cut off supplies to the Allies, the latter reformulated their strategy. Rather than deciding to attack, however, they chose to retreat and protect communication routes with the rest of Greece. Although this action of the Greeks was for defensive purposes it was the one that, with the chaos caused by the retreat, caused the breakdown of the stalemate. Mardonius interpreted the movement of the enemies as a flight, thinking that he had already won the battle, and tried to pursue the Greeks: not expecting a counterattack by the latter, he did not mind a tactical plan, as he only wanted to take advantage of the situation without regard to the battlefield. On the contrary, the Greeks had unwittingly drawn Mardonius into higher ground and, although outnumbered, had a certain advantage over the Persians.

When the Persians discovered that the Greeks had abandoned their positions and believed they were in retreat, Mardonius decided to immediately pursue the enemies with his elite infantry. While he was intent on doing this the rest of the Persian army spontaneously began to march forward. The Spartans and Tegeans had now reached the temple of Demeter, while the rearguard commanded by Amonfareto began to retreat from the ridge to join the other troops, driven by the Persian cavalry. Pausanias sent a messenger to the Athenians asking them to join the Spartans, on whom the Persian cavalry was looming; the Athenians, however, were fighting the Theban phalanx and were unable to lend aid to Pausanias. The Spartans and the Tegeans were then attacked by the Persian cavalry, while the enemy infantry led the way, planted their shields on the ground, and began thundering arrows at the Greeks as the cavalry retreated.

According to Herodotus Pausanias refused to advance because he had not obtained good omens in the goat sacrifices he had performed. At this point, since the Greek soldiers were beginning to fall under the barrage of enemy arrows, the Tegeans hurled themselves against the Persian lines. With one last sacrifice and prayer to heaven in front of the temple of Hera Pausanias received favorable omens and gave orders to the Spartans to advance, after making a charge against the enemy lines.

The Persian infantry, numerically superior to the Greek infantry, was framed in the mighty sparabara formation, a much lighter array, however, than the Greek phalanx. The Persians defended themselves with a large wicker shield and fought with short spears; in contrast, the hoplites were covered in bronze armor, with a bronze shield and a long spear. As was the case at Marathon, the difference in armaments was a key factor in the outcome of the battle. The fighting was fierce and went on for a long time, but the Spartans and the Tegeans continued tenaciously to repel the Persians. The latter tried to break the spears of the Greeks with their hands, but the Hellenes, at that point, drew their swords. Mardonius watched the battle riding a white horse, surrounded by a bodyguard of 1,000 men: as long as he remained alive, the Persians remained on their positions.

However, the Spartans surrounded him, and a soldier named Arimnestus, seeing him riding his horse, picked up a large stone from the ground and hurled it at him; Mardonius was struck on the head and died. After the death of their general, the Persians fled; Mardonius' bodyguard resisted but was annihilated. Herodotus states that the Asians panicked because they saw themselves unarmored and vulnerable. Quickly the Persians' rout became general and chaos filled their camp. However, Artabazo, who had previously directed the siege of Olynthus and Potidea, having disagreed with Mardonius about the need to attack the Greeks, had not employed all his troops in the attack; when he saw the plight of the Persian soldiers, he led all his men (40,000 according to Herodotus) away from the battlefield, on the Thessaly road, hoping to make it back to the Hellespont.

On the other side of the battlefield the Athenians, after a long struggle, had defeated the Thebans. The other Greeks belonging to the Persian side, according to Herodotus, fought sluggishly by choice. The Thebans retreated in a different direction from that taken by the Persians, allowing them to flee without further losses. The Allies, reinforced by contingents that had not taken part in the beginning of the battle, assaulted the Persian camp: initially the defenders effectively repulsed the Greeks, but eventually had to give way. The Persians, herded inside the camp, were then massacred; only 3,000 of them were left alive.

According to Herodotus only 43,000 Persians survived the battle, so, based on his account, 257,000 died. The Greek historian states that the Greeks, on the other hand, lost only 159 men. He also claims that only Spartans, Tegeans and Athenians died, since they were the only ones who fought. Plutarch, who had occasion to consult other sources, estimates 1 360 Greek dead, while Diodorus Siculus (who in turn refers to Ephorus of Cumae) states that Allied casualties were over 10 000.

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Herodotus tells anecdotes about the behavior of some Greeks during the battle.

Plutarch, moreover, relates a further anecdote about a fellow named Euchidas, a Platæan emerodrome, who traveled more than 1,000 stadia in a single day to bring the sacred fire of Delphi to the Greeks and accomplished his mission, died shortly afterwards, crushed to the ground. The episode, very similar to that of Pheidippides at Marathon, is not recorded by Herodotus.

According to Herodotus, the battle of Mycale occurred simultaneously with the battle of Plataea. The Greek fleet commanded by the Spartan king Leotychidas had headed to Samos to challenge the remnants of the Persian fleet. The Persians, whose ships were in a poor state, decided not to risk fighting and to pull the boats ashore on the beach at the foot of the Mycale promontory in Ionia: there was an army of 60,000 men stationed by Xerxes there, and the sailors joined it, building a palisade around the camp to protect the ships. However, Leotychidas decided to attack the camp with sailors from the allied fleet. Seeing the small size of the enemy troops, the Persians left the camp, but the Greek hoplites killed many of those. The ships were left in the hands of the Greeks, who burned them, blocking the maritime power of the Persian empire and marking the beginning of the rise of the Greek fleet.

With the victories at Plataea and Mycalea the Second Persian War ended. It also diminished the danger of a new invasion, although the Greeks thought that Xerxes would later try again to conquer Greece, although his interest in that land had diminished.

The remnants of the Persian army, under the command of Artabazo, tried to retreat to Asia Minor. They passed through Thessaly, Macedonia and Thrace by the shortest route, then reached Byzantium after losing many men to Thracian attacks, fatigue and starvation. After the victory at Mycale, the Allied fleet sailed for the Hellespont to destroy the pontoon bridges, but when they arrived there they saw that this had already been done. The Peloponnesians then returned home, while the Athenians remained to attack Chersonese, still in Persian possession. The Persians present in the region and their allies retreated to Sextus, the most important city in the area, which the Athenians laid siege to; after a long time the city fell marking the beginning of a new phase in the Persian wars, the Greek counteroffensive. Herodotus ends his account with the siege of Sextus. Over the next 30 years the Greeks, especially the Athenians and the Delio-Attic League, expelled the Persians from Macedonia, Thrace, the Aegean islands, and Ionia. The peace with Persia, called the Peace of Callia, was signed in 449 B.C. and ended half a century of warfare.

Plataea and Mycale had great importance in antiquity and went down in history as the concluding battles of the Second Persian War, putting the Greeks in a strong position against the Persians. They prevented Persia from conquering Europe, although they had to lose large numbers of men. The Battle of Marathon showed that the Persians were not invincible, and the Battle of Salamis saved Greece from defeat, but it was only with Plataea and Mycale that the Persian threat was finally thwarted. However, neither of these two battles is as well known as the battles of Thermopylae, Salamis, and Marathon: it is not clear why this is so, but the discrimination may stem from the different circumstances under which the battle was fought. The fame of Thermopylae certainly lies in the heroism of the Greeks in the face of overwhelming numbers, and the terrible strategic situations of Marathon and Salamis, in which they were not expected to win, may underlie the importance of these two battles. In contrast, the battles of Plataea and Mycale were both fought under conditions favorable to the Greeks, with many chances of victory: the Hellenes, in fact, sought these conditions on purpose.

From a military point of view Plataea and Mycaleus again emphasized the superiority of the oplitic system over the Persian light infantry, as had also been demonstrated years earlier at Marathon. The Persian empire learned its lesson and, after the Persian Wars, began to enlist Greek mercenaries in its army. It was an expedition composed of these mercenaries, the so-called feat of the Ten Thousand narrated by Xenophon, that once again demonstrated how vulnerable the Persian army was even within its own territory; Alexander the Great relied on this demonstration to conquer Persia much later.

With the Persian weapons captured in the melted enemy camp a bronze column in the shape of intertwined serpents (the so-called serpentine column) was erected at Delphi. It commemorated all the Greek city-states that had participated in the battle, which were listed on the column: from the study of these inscriptions Herodotus' account was verified. The remains of the column can still be seen in the Hippodrome of Constantinople, where it was moved by Constantine at the founding of the city.


  1. Battle of Plataea
  2. Battaglia di Platea