The 5 Most Important Battles Of The Ancient Greek Wars

Published June 10, 2017
Updated February 1, 2024

From Thermopylae to Marathon, discover the most important battles of the ancient Greek wars, which helped set the course of European history for centuries.

Greek Wars Mosaic

Wikimedia Commons

The Ancient Greeks formed alliances like no civilization before them.
This massive assembly of city-states led to the existence of massive armies that were mopersre coordinated and powerful than anything the world had ever seen.

Here are five of the ancient Greek battles that forever altered the course of human culture and progress:

Greek Wars: The Battle of Marathon, 490 BC

Battle Marathon

The Battle of Marathon, which took place during the first Persian invasion of Greece, was fought between the combined forces of Athens and Plataea against King Darius’ Persian army.

Darius attempted to invade Greece after the Athenians had sent aid to Ionia to help with their revolt against the Persians.

After effectively shutting down the revolt, the angry king turned his attention to Greece, first capturing Eretria, then sailing into Marathon for vengeance.

Though heavily outnumbered, the Greek forces managed to defeat the lightly armed Persian army after only five days.

Battle Marathon Ships

Darius spent the rest of his life rebuilding his army for another invasion — but the second chance at success wouldn’t come until after his death when his son, Xerxes, led troops in.

The Battle of Marathon was significant because it proved to the world that the Persians could be defeated.

More interestingly (though less significantly), it led to the creation of marathon running, which was inspired by an inaccurate story about a Greek messenger running to Athens from Marathon with news of victory. The sport was subsequently introduced in the 1896 Athens Olympics.

Battle Marathon Arrows

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John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.