Aristogoras of Miletus

Delian League, Aristagoras, Battle of Marathon

In 499 BCE, Aristagoras made a mistake that greatly changed history and led to western ideas being spread throughout the world, a major turning point in shaping the culture of future generations. It resulted in many wars and conquests but ultimately this mistake is why today delegates to the United Nations wear suits and ties instead of turbans.

Aristagoras was the Persian governor of Miletus on the edge of the Persian Empire. The nearby island of Naxos rebelled against the Persian Empire and Aristagoras seized the opportunity to take it back and get a promotion to a better position from the Persian emperor Darius I. At the very least, even if it did not lead to advancement, he could add Naxos to his growing state and get money from the taxes on its citizens.

Since Naxos was an island, Aristagoras needed a navy to conquer it so he got the help of Artaphernes, the governor of Lydia and Darius’ brother, to supply his navy to take Naxos in exchange for some of the plunder. In addition, Artaphernes provided Aristagoras with his skilled and clever naval admiral, Megabates. Unfortunately, Aristagoras publically insulted Megabates leading him to warn the people of Naxos of the impending invasion. The invasion failed because the people of Naxos were prepared and Aristagoras was defeated. The problem was that Aristagoras promised Artaphernes a portion of his booty and since he had none, Artaphernes would take revenge. At the very least Aristagoras would be exiled, but most likely Artaphernes would kill him, easily within his power since he was the brother of the king and had connections.

To save his skin, Aristagoras started a revolt against Persia and got some of his neighbors to help him, such as Athens and Ephesus. His army marched to Sardis, the capital of Lydia, and burnt it to the ground while Artaphernes hid in the citadel. Darius I saw what happened and quickly defeated all of the rebels except for the Athenians who escaped by ship....
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