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  • Print publication year: 1985
  • Online publication date: March 2008


Before Cyrus marched against Croesus, he had made overtures to the Asian Greeks, of whom the Ionians were the most important. the tragic incompatibility and failure of understanding between Persia, the highest manifestation of oriental imperialism, and the still developing bourgeois culture of the Greek cities. Cyrus' son Cambyses, continuing his father's agenda, in 525 assailed Egypt, and as a prelude to this, a great matter, for which his courtiers praised him, he 'won the sea'. Mardonios pressed on to where his fresh army and fleet awaited him, at the crossing into Europe. Greek objectives were now to deny forward positions to the enemy, should Xerxes try again; to reopen trade-routes, and, in Homeric style, revenge. Even during the great wars, but much more as the dust of conflict settled, Greeks and Persians were getting to know each other as human beings. A new epoch opened after Athens lost an army and fleet before Syracuse in Sicily.
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  • Edited by I. Gershevitch
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