Should the first Persian invasion of Greece be considered a Persian success?

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,735
Republika Srpska
Alright, so I was reading the book From Cyrus to Alexander and in it the author makes a claim that the goal of Darius' invasion of Greece was not the conquest of Greece, but rather a probing into Greece in order to find out whether or not the Greeks would be unified to fight the Persians, whether there are any pro-Persian elements in Athens. And Persia succeeded in this. They probed into Greece and confirmed their suspicions that not all of Greece would rise against Persians. It is also said that the battle of Marathon, while a defeat, was not really devastating and that it was Athenian propaganda that transformed Marathon into this great battle. We should also keep in mind that Darius was able to subjugate Macedon and establish dominance in the Aegean by conquering the islands there. The Persians also exacted some revenge for the events of the Ionian Revolt by sacking Eretria.

So, given all this, should we consider this first invasion a Persian success or at least should we stop considering it a Greek victory?
 
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Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
4,996
Australia
Making a claim and proving it are two different things. What evidence does the author present to support this "probing" theory?
 

Maki

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,735
Republika Srpska
He uses several arguments:

1. the Achaemenids themselves didn't consider Marathon a big defeat unlike their later setbacks at Salamis and Plataea. They achieved their goals in the Aegean and were quite clearly the dominant power there.
2. Darius ordered Datis and Artaphernes to "reduce Athens and Eretria to slavery and to bring slaves before the king". So, if anything, Darius only wanted to punish those cities that were involved in the Ionian Revolt and, as I said, they successfully crushed Eretria.
3. they didn't really press Athens. The Persians were aware that there were certain pro-Persian elements in the city and had even received a signal from them, yet after Marathon Datis sailed to Phalerum, saw that the Athenians were there guarding their city and turned back. He didn't even attempt to coordinate with the pro-Persian elements in the city and he didn't even attempt a landing. Herodotus tells us that the Persian fleet didn't leave immediately but stayed off Phalerum for some time and then turned back. Even after Marathon, the Persians still had the numbers.
 

aggienation

Ad Honorem
Jul 2016
9,813
USA
How was Marathon a success? Their defeat triggered a gigantic and super expensive war of total conquest, that also failed.

Failing doesnt mean winning, even if you squint your eyes a lot.
 
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tomar

Ad Honoris
Jan 2011
14,034
Some stats would be welcome as to Greece's population at the time and its relative "GDP" to understand why this territory would be of interest to the persians... being as it was on the fringes of the empire and not on the way to anyplace important.... It would be likewise interesting to know what else the persians were doing at the time... The force sent to Marathon was not that big, so I suspect Greece was not that important in the eyes of the persians (perhaps the equivalent of modern day Afghanistan to the US)... On the other hand the force was big enough so that it would not qualify as a "probe"... of which I would guess the persians had no need, since they had enough greek speaking subjects that they could send to any greek city to do a bit of "probing" or spying
 
Mar 2019
52
Belgium
Some stats would be welcome as to Greece's population at the time and its relative "GDP" to understand why this territory would be of interest to the persians... being as it was on the fringes of the empire and not on the way to anyplace important.... It would be likewise interesting to know what else the persians were doing at the time... The force sent to Marathon was not that big, so I suspect Greece was not that important in the eyes of the persians (perhaps the equivalent of modern day Afghanistan to the US)... On the other hand the force was big enough so that it would not qualify as a "probe"... of which I would guess the persians had no need, since they had enough greek speaking subjects that they could send to any greek city to do a bit of "probing" or spying

Maybe, but this view quickly changed with the second Persian war where at least 350 k Persian soldiers were involved (it's many for the time). The defeat of salamis had been a very great shock for the Achemenid empire and show the superiority of Greek hoplite over the Persian footman. After the Persian wars, the Persian kings will use a lot greek mercenaries