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Great Battles of the Classical Greek World [Owen Rees] on A Naval History of the Peloponnesian War: Ships, Men and Money in the War.
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This battle allegedly happened on the same day at the Battle of Mycale and marked the end the invasion started by the Persians. In the summer of BC, an unparalleled Greek force of 7, men, led by King Leonidas of Sparta, blocked the outnumbered Persian army at the pass. The Greeks held off the Persians for 7 days with 3 vicious battles, often epitomized as famous last-stand battles in history.

13. Battle of Thermopylae (480 BC)

Leonidas blocked the road with his force for 2 days; this road being the one and only way for the Persian army to pass. After the continuous two-day battle, Greek resident Ephiatles revealed the secret pass, where the Persian army could enter. Leonidas with his Spartans, and several other Thespians and Thebans died of a glorious death at the pass. Top 10 Ancient Chinese Inventions. This battle was remembered for years because of the high death toll. The battle ended the Gallic Empire and reunified it with the Roman Empire after 13 years of separation. The Battle of Kadesh is the oldest ever recorded military battle in history in which the details of formations and tactics are known.

Ramses, along with his bodyguard, arrived from the north to join the Amun division and to set up a fortified camp to await the Ra division, who were marching from the North. After learning the location, Ramses summoned the remainder of the army and planned to attack the Ra division.

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When Muwatali saw an approaching army, he sent his chariot force south of Kadesh to attack the approaching Ra division army. Siege of Syracuse is a part of the second Punic war that took place in BC. Sicily was fragmentally divided into two rulers. After the death of Hiero, his young grandson Hieronymus succeeded him.

He started negotiating with Hannibal, which did not turn out well for him. Hieronymus was assassinated and Syracuse was declared a democratic republic primarily dominated by Carthaginian. The assassination of Hieronymus led to a conflict between pro-Carthaginian and pro-Roman factions. The two brothers, Hippocrates and Epicydes, of mixed Syracusan and Carthaginian descent, took control of the city with a hope to make a Sicily Carthaginian stronghold.

In order to deal with the situation, the Romans sent Marcus Claudius Marcellus to Sicily, who took control of the Leontini and took all the Carthaginians prisoner — beating and beheaded them. The two brothers escaped from the Leontini and spread the story to the Romans. The Romans slaughtered all the inhabitants of the city.

Marcellus encircled Syracuse and commenced the military operation in BC. The Battle of Metaurus was one of the most important battles of the second Punic war. Hannibal was waiting for reinforcements and seized equipment from his brother Hasdruda. The reinforcements and equipment were pivotal for victorious battle against Rome. Claudius, who fought Hannibal in Grumentum, km south of the Metaurus river, reached Metaurus to accompany Marcus Livus. The vicious and undetected forces trapped Hasdrubal in Metaurus.

The two great armies met near Gaugamela the present day city of Mosul in Iraq. Despite being heavily outnumbered by Persian soldiers, the tactics of the Greeks outmaneuvered their enemy in the narrow streets. A small Greek force blocked the Thermopylaes pass.

5 Dramatic Greek Wars Battles That Changed History Forever

Athenians engaged with the Persian force in the nearby straits of Artemisium, resulting the Battle of Thermopylae. King Xerxes, releasing his forthcoming defeat, moved with his few armies back to Persia. Persian General Mardonius took charge of the battle with a huge force. Often taken as first ever recorded naval battle, the Battle of Salamis ended up with a Greek victory. Crassus, one of the wealthiest men in Rome, assembled his forces and decided to invade Parthia without the official consent of the Roman Senate. The destructive clash between the two empires took place near Carrhae.

Surena decisively won the battle, slaughtering and capturing most of the Roman Soldiers. Crassus was killed in the battle, which led to the end of the Roman Republic and the rise of Roman Empire. Liu Bang later proclaimed himself the Emperor of China and founded the Han Dynasty, whereas Xiang Yu committed suicide after the battle. Yu sent most of his army to the capital to save his wife, and the divided force turned out to be an advantage to the Han. When Xiang Yu saw his army crumbling by a large margin, he had no choice but to kill himself with a sword. Top 10 epidemic diseases that were common in ancient world.

All of these ancient battles created big political and geographical change. Huge numbers of people were killed, and yet the battles continued. Some wars were the result of a conflict that could have been resolved with various other methods. Tha Battle of Salamis in BC 3 had nothing to do with the Roman Republic and Parthian Empire neither yet existed and the titles saying so must be an editing mistake because the description has it right: Why did u forget the great indian battle of mahabharata between kauravas and pandavas where lives died?

As the massive Persian army moved south through Greece, the allies sent a small holding force c. The allied navy extended this blockade at sea, blocking the nearby straits of Artemisium , to prevent the huge Persian navy landing troops in Leonidas's rear. Famously, Leonidas's men held the much larger Persian army at the pass where their numbers were less of an advantage for three days, the hoplites again proving their superiority. Only when a Persian force managed to outflank them by means of a mountain track was the allied army overcome; but by then Leonidas had dismissed the majority of the troops, remaining with a rearguard of Spartans and perhaps other troops , in the process making one of history's great last stands.

The Greek navy, despite their lack of experience, also proved their worth holding back the Persian fleet whilst the army still held the pass. Thermopylae provided the Greeks with time to arrange their defences, and they dug in across the Isthmus of Corinth , an impregnable position; although an evacuated Athens was thereby sacrificed to the advancing Persians. In order to outflank the isthmus, Xerxes needed to use this fleet, and in turn therefore needed to defeat the Greek fleet; similarly, the Greeks needed to neutralise the Persian fleet to ensure their safety.

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To this end, the Greeks were able to lure the Persian fleet into the straits of Salamis ; and, in a battleground where Persian numbers again counted for nothing, they won a decisive victory , justifying Themistocles' decision to build the Athenian fleet. Demoralised, Xerxes returned to Asia Minor with much of his army, leaving his general Mardonius to campaign in Greece the following year BC.

However, a united Greek army of c. Almost simultaneously, the allied fleet defeated the remnants of the Persian navy at Mycale , thus destroying the Persian hold on the islands of the Aegean. The remainder of the wars saw the Greeks take the fight to the Persians. The Athenian dominated Delian League of cities and islands extirpated Persian garrisons from Macedon and Thrace , before eventually freeing the Ionian cities from Persian rule.

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At one point, the Greeks even attempted an invasion of Cyprus and Egypt which proved disastrous , demonstrating a major legacy of the Persian Wars: After the war, ambitions of many Greek states dramatically increased. Tensions resulting from this, and the rise of Athens and Sparta as pre-eminent powers during the war led directly to the Peloponnesian War , which saw further development of the nature of warfare, strategy and tactics.

The increased manpower and financial resources increased the scale, and allowed the diversification of warfare. Set-piece battles during this war proved indecisive and instead there was increased reliance on naval warfare, and strategies of attrition such as blockades and sieges. These changes greatly increased the number of casualties and the disruption of Greek society.

Whatever the proximal causes of the war, it was in essence a conflict between Athens and Sparta for supremacy in Greece. The war or wars, since it is often divided into three periods was for much of the time a stalemate, punctuated with occasional bouts of activity. Tactically the Peloponnesian war represents something of a stagnation; the strategic elements were most important as the two sides tried to break the deadlock, something of a novelty in Greek warfare. Building on the experience of the Persian Wars, the diversification from core hoplite warfare, permitted by increased resources, continued.

There was increased emphasis on navies, sieges, mercenaries and economic warfare. Far from the previously limited and formalized form of conflict, the Peloponnesian War transformed into an all-out struggle between city-states, complete with atrocities on a large scale; shattering religious and cultural taboos, devastating vast swathes of countryside and destroying whole cities. From the start, the mismatch in the opposing forces was clear. The Delian League hereafter 'Athenians' were primarily a naval power, whereas the Peloponnesian League hereafter 'Spartans' consisted of primarily land-based powers.

The Athenians thus avoided battle on land, since they could not possibly win, and instead dominated the sea, blockading the Peloponnesus whilst maintaining their own trade. Conversely, the Spartans repeatedly invaded Attica , but only for a few weeks at a time; they remained wedded to the idea of hoplite-as-citizen. Although both sides suffered setbacks and victories, the first phase essentially ended in stalemate, as neither league had the power to neutralise the other. The second phase, an Athenian expedition to attack Syracuse in Sicily achieved no tangible result other than a large loss of Athenian ships and men.

In the third phase of the war however the use of more sophisticated stratagems eventually allowed the Spartans to force Athens to surrender. Firstly, the Spartans permanently garrisoned a part of Attica, removing from Athenian control the silver mine which funded the war effort.

Forced to squeeze even more money from her allies, the Athenian league thus became heavily strained. After the loss of Athenian ships and men in the Sicilian expedition, Sparta was able to foment rebellion amongst the Athenian league, which therefore massively reduced the ability of the Athenians to continue the war. Athens in fact partially recovered from this setback between BC, but a further act of economic war finally forced her defeat.

Having developed a navy that was capable of taking on the much-weakened Athenian navy, the Spartan general Lysander seized the Hellespont , the source of Athens' grain. The remaining Athenian fleet was thereby forced to confront the Spartans, and were decisively defeated.

Athens had little choice but to surrender; and was stripped of her city walls, overseas possessions and navy. In the aftermath, the Spartans were able to establish themselves as the dominant force in Greece for three decades. Although tactically there was little innovation in the Peloponessian War, there does appear to have been an increase in the use of light infantry, such as peltasts javelin throwers and archers.

Many of these would have been mercenary troops, hired from outlying regions of Greece. For instance, the Agrianes from Thrace were well-renowned peltasts, whilst Crete was famous for its archers. Since there were no decisive land-battles in the Peloponnesian War, the presence or absence of these troops was unlikely to have affected the course of the war. Nevertheless, it was an important innovation, one which was developed much further in later conflicts. Sileraioi were also a group of ancient mercenaries most likely employed by the tyrant Dionysius I of Syracuse. Following the eventual defeat of the Athenians in BC, and the disbandment of the Athenian-dominated Delian League , Ancient Greece fell under the hegemony of Sparta.

The peace treaty which ended the Peloponnesian War left Sparta as the de facto ruler of Greece hegemon. Although the Spartans did not attempt to rule all of Greece directly, they prevented alliances of other Greek cities, and forced the city-states to accept governments deemed suitable by Sparta.

List of wars involving Greece

However, from the very beginning, it was clear that the Spartan hegemony was shaky; the Athenians, despite their crushing defeat, restored their democracy but just one year later, ejecting the Sparta-approved oligarchy. The Spartans did not feel strong enough to impose their will on a shattered Athens. Undoubtedly part of the reason for the weakness of the hegemony was a decline in the Spartan population.

This was the first major challenge Sparta faced. The early encounters, at Nemea and Coronea were typical engagements of hoplite phalanxes, resulting in Spartan victories. However, the Spartans suffered a large setback when their fleet was wiped out by a Persian Fleet at the Battle of Cnidus , undermining the Spartan presence in Ionia. The war petered out after BC, with a stalemate punctuated with minor engagements. One of these is particularly notable however; at the Battle of Lechaeum , an Athenian force composed mostly of light troops e.

The Athenian general Iphicrates had his troops make repeated hit and run attacks on the Spartans, who, having neither peltasts nor cavalry, could not respond effectively. The defeat of a hoplite army in this way demonstrates the changes in both troops and tactic which had occurred in Greek Warfare. The war ended when the Persians, worried by the allies' successes, switched to supporting the Spartans, in return for the cities of Ionia and Spartan non-interference in Asia Minor. This brought the rebels to terms, and restored the Spartan hegemony on a more stable footing. The peace treaty which ended the war, effectively restored the status quo ante bellum , although Athens was permitted to retain some of the territory it had regained during the war.

The Spartan hegemony would last another 16 years The second major challenge Sparta faced was fatal to its hegemony, and even to its position as a first-rate power in Greece. As the Thebans attempted to expand their influence over Boeotia , they inevitably incurred the ire of Sparta. After they refused to disband their army, an army of approximately 10, Spartans and Pelopennesians marched north to challenge the Thebans.

The battle is famous for the tactical innovations of the Theban general Epaminondas. Defying convention, he strengthened the left flank of the phalanx to an unheard of depth of 50 ranks, at the expense of the centre and the right. The centre and right were staggered backwards from the left an 'echelon' formation , so that the phalanx advanced obliquely. The Theban left wing was thus able to crush the elite Spartan forces on the allied right, whilst the Theban centre and left avoided engagement; after the defeat of the Spartans and the death of the Spartan king, the rest of the allied army routed.

This is one of the first known examples of both the tactic of local concentration of force, and the tactic of 'refusing a flank'. Following this victory, the Thebans first secured their power-base in Boeotia, before marching on Sparta. As the Thebans were joined by many erstwhile Spartan allies, the Spartans were powerless to resist this invasion. The Thebans marched into Messenia , and freed it from Sparta; this was a fatal blow to Sparta, since Messenia had provided most of the helots which supported the Spartan warrior society.

These events permanently reduced Spartan power and prestige, and replaced the Spartan hegemony with a Theban one. The Theban hegemony would be short-lived however. Opposition to it throughout the period BC caused numerous clashes. In an attempt to bolster the Thebans' position, Epaminondas again marched on the Pelopennese in BC. At the Battle of Mantinea, the largest battle ever fought between the Greek city-states occurred; most states were represented on one side or the other. Epaminondas deployed tactics similar to those at Leuctra, and again the Thebans, positioned on the left, routed the Spartans, and thereby won the battle.

However, such were the losses of Theban manpower, including Epaminondas himself, that Thebes was thereafter unable to sustain its hegemony. Conversely, another defeat and loss of prestige meant that Sparta was unable to regain its primary position in Greece. Ultimately, Mantinea, and the preceding decade, severely weakened many Greek states, and left them divided and without the leadership of a dominant power. Although by the end of the Theban hegemony the cities of southern Greece were severely weakened, they might have risen again had it not been for the ascent to power of the Macedonian kingdom in the northern Greece.

Unlike the fiercely independent and small city-states, Macedon was a tribal kingdom, ruled by an autocratic king, and importantly, covering a larger area. Once firmly unified, and then expanded, by Phillip II , Macedon possessed the resources that enabled it to dominate the weakened and divided states in southern Greece. Finally Phillip sought to establish his own hegemony over the southern Greek city-states, and after defeating the combined forces of Athens and Thebes, the two most powerful states, at the Battle of Chaeronea in BC, succeeded.

Now unable to resist him, Phillip compelled most of the city states of southern Greece including Athens, Thebes, Corinth and Argos; but not Sparta to join the Corinthian League , and therefore become allied to him. This established a lasting Macedonian hegemony over Greece, and allowed Phillip the resources and security to launch a war against the Persian Empire. After his assassination, this war was prosecuted by his son Alexander the Great , and resulted in the takeover of the whole Achaemenid Empire by the Macedonians. A united Macedonian empire did not long survive Alexander's death, and soon split into the Hellenistic kingdoms of the Diadochi Alexander's generals.

However, these kingdoms were still enormous states, and continued to fight in the same manner as Phillip and Alexander's armies had. The rise of Macedon and her successors thus sounded the death knell for the distinctive way of war found in Ancient Greece; and instead contributed to the 'superpower' warfare which would dominate the ancient world between and BC.

One major reason for Phillip's success in conquering Greece was the break with Hellenic military traditions that he made. With more resources available, he was able to assemble a more diverse army, including strong cavalry components. Much more lightly armored, the Macedonian phalanx was not so much a shield-wall as a spear-wall. The Macedonian phalanx was a supreme defensive formation, but was not intended to be decisive offensively; instead, it was used to pin down the enemy infantry, whilst more mobile forces such as cavalry outflanked them.

This ' combined arms ' approach was furthered by the extensive use of skirmishers , such as peltasts. Tactically, Phillip absorbed the lessons of centuries of warfare in Greece. He echoed the tactics of Epaminondas at Chaeronea, by not engaging his right wing against the Thebans until his left wing had routed the Athenians; thus in course outnumbering and outflanking the Thebans, and securing victory.

Alexander's fame is in no small part due to his success as a battlefield tactician; the unorthodox gambits he used at the battles of Issus and Gaugamela were unlike anything seen in Ancient Greece before. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article includes a list of references , but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations.

February Learn how and when to remove this template message. Account of warfare in Ancient Greece. Spartan hegemony and Theban hegemony. The Western Way of War. University of California Press. Warfare in Ancient Greece: Retrieved 20 March City states Politics Military.

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