Monday, September 5, 2011

Greece Prepares for Re-Enactment of the Battle of Marathon

From Fox News:
While the U.S. is having lots of Civil War reenactments lately, it's not the only country where avid hobbyists like to refight old battles.

This year Greece is marking the 2500th anniversary of the Battle of Marathon, an epic clash between the Greeks and Persians that saved Europe from invasion and allowed Greek culture to thrive.

To commemorate the battle, there will be a reenactment on the actual battlefield.

The battle was a desperate attempt to stop the Persian Empire, the major superpower of the day, from invading Greece in 490 BC.

The Greek city-states of Athens and Palataea blocked the passes leading out from the Persian beachhead on the Plain of Marathon. Even though the Greeks were outnumbered two-to-one, they attacked and routed the Persians, ending the invasion.

There's a legend that an Athenian named Pheidippides ran from the battlefield to Athens to announce the victory and died from exhaustion right after he gave the good news.

The distance from Marathon to Athens is, of course, about 26 miles. This actually never happened, but it makes a good story.

From September 9 to 11, hundreds of reenactors from around the world will converge on the battlefield for a day of sham fighting and historical demonstrations.

The Greek side will include many Greeks, while the Persian ranks will have many Iranians. Dozens of other countries will contribute people as well.

Events will be centered on a reconstruction of the Greek military camp and there will be archery demonstrations, ancient music and dancing, and much more.

At least 200 warriors will duke it out on the original battlefield, but there won't be any blood spilled. The Greeks will have dull spears and the Persians will be firing rubber-tipped arrows.

4 comments:

Northy said...

I always thought the origins of the modern marathon distance were set from the 1908 Olympics and then ratified as official in 1928.

Also, are they -sure- the legendary run never took place? ;)

Daddy Grognard said...

THIS! IS! AWESOME!

Matt Finch said...

Northy,
I think the modern marathon distance (26.2 miles) was set earlier than that, because I know that it was lengthened from 26 miles to 26.2 in order to allow the finish line at a London olympics to end where Queen Victoria was, so she could see the finish. That would have had to have been earlier than 1908. I don't know when the 26 mile distance was established earlier on.

I don't think the legend of Phiddipedes (sp?) has been disproved; runners like that were definitely used in Ancient Greece, although they usually ran in relays rather than having one person doing the entire distance. I don't think there's any particular reason not to credit the story, although it's certainly got a suspiciously dramatic ending. It's definitely possible that the news would have arrived by runner.

Stuart said...

You'd think they'd send a dude on a horse rather than run it. A bit faster and you can always change horses.