Battle of Marathon
In September of 490 B.C., King Darius of Persia sent an army to take over Athens. The force led by generals Datis and Artaphernes landed their ships on beaches near the plain of Marathon. Here they unexpectedly encountered 9000 Athenian troops. Even more unexpected, this smaller Athenian army launched a full frontal assault on the much larger Persian force. The Athenians were able to drive the Persians into a full retreat, and they captured seven Persian ships before they were able to depart. The Persians lost 6,400 men, while the Athenians only suffered 192 deaths. The Athenians were buried on the Marathon Plain, in a mound which is still visible today. An Athenian named Pheidippides ran all the way back to Athens (22.75 miles) to tell of the great victory. Pheidippides died as he gave his message of the victory. The running race known as a marathon was named in his memory.