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We ran. None of the Hellenes had ever before gone into battle that way, not even the Spartans, who of all the Hellenes are the most feared in war, since they alone spend their entire lives training for war, neither working their fields nor in trades, since they have their helots to work the land, and their subject neighbors, the Perioiki, to do the latter. No one will doubt their courage nor their skill--certainly not the Medes and the Persians, against whom they fought to the last man at Thermopylae, three hundred against countless thousands. But even the Spartans settle for advancing into battle at a walk, hard enough work for men in a hoplite's heavy bronze armor, and encumbered with spear and shield.

But at Marathon, we ran. It had already been a long, hard day's march from Athens over the hills to Marathon, and another day for my neighbors and me, since I live in Eleusis. We were tired and aching from march, and I admit to sleeping restlessly the night before the battle, as any man does on the night before facing death. But with the dawn we were awake, and drawing up in our order, ten thousand of us, all Athenians save for a thousand brave men who came down from Plateia in Boeotia, who alone of the other Hellenes were there to join us in saving Hellas from the barbarians.

The sun was bright on the sea as the triremes of the Medes and Persians advanced toward the shore--not nearly as many, to be sure, as they have this time, but they were more than enough. We were drawn up some hundreds of paces back from the shore, awaiting them. How many thousands of men came ashore from the ships I do not know, but there were many more of them than there were of us, archers and spearmen in glittering scale-armor. We let them come ashore, for we wanted to fight them then and there, and not let them embark in their triremes again, perhaps to sail directly against Athens itself.

Standing in ranks, we took a meal of br...

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Story. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 02:09, December 02, 2020, from