The Cause of the Persian Wars (B-)

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The Persian Wars were fought between the years 490 and 479 B.C. Many individuals have their own opinions on how the war began and who to blame. It has been hypothesised that Aristagoras’ self-interest and failed ventures are what sparked the inevitable conflict between the Persians and Greeks. This essay will explain why the Persians despised Aristagoras, outline why the revolt began, who was involved and how they became involved, then, finally, provide an evaluation of the Ionian Revolt.

Histiaeus had been set up as tyrant of Miletus by the Persians. Miletus prospered as a trading centre because of its important maritime location and its propinquity to the famous sanctuary of Apollo at Didyma. In 511 BC, Histiaeus had been appointed to serve Darius I at Susa as his trusted royal advisor, leaving his position to his son-in-law, Aristagoras.

Aristagoras’ first major act as tyrant (and failure) occurred when upper-class citizens had been exiled by Naxos during a revolt where they arrived at Miletus in hopes of finding protection. When the Naxians pleaded Aristagoras for support in 502 BC, he instantly began to contemplate the advantages of helping them. Aristagoras agreed in the hope that he would become ruler of Naxos. Because of his lack of troops, he informed the Naxians that he would visit the Persian satrap of Lydia and request further aid. The Naxians empowered Aristagoras to do their business with Artaphernes to the best of his ability and supplied him with money. According to Herodotus, Aristagoras arrived in Sardis and began to woo Artaphernes with the introductory statement, “Make war upon this land and reinstate the exiles, for if thou wilt do this, first of all, I have very rich gifts in store for thee and secondly, thou will bring under the power of the king not only Naxos but other islands which depend on it...” Artaphernes’ counsel was all in good points as the plan may advantage the king. A vast Persian army, their confederates and a...
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