Of East and West

athenian hoplite

September 12 490 B.C. is the historically accepted date for the Battle of Marathon, where 11,000 Greek hoplites faced off against an invading Persian army of some 25,000 soldiers that landed on the beach north of Athens. The first home-soil conflict of what would become known as the Persian Wars remains a symbolic tale of a small force facing off and defeating an overwhelming enemy, but is often hijacked by a form of revisionist history.

Modern western states enjoy comparing their martial prowess to that of the Greeks, especially in recent times where they have been in open conflict with certain Middle Eastern groups. Doing so displays an ignorance of the context of the Greco/Persian conflict, that of a small scrambling of city-states against a vastly superior imperial power.

Perhaps the only real comparison between the ancient conflict and our contemporary one is the tendency for our media and political leaders to collectively demonise numerous cultural groups due to the actions of a minority within them.

Marathon stands as a turning point in history, not simply because the underdog won but that the smaller force was composed of citizens who individually voted and stood up for freedom in the face of adversity, not because a higher politically body chose war for financial gain or political subterfuge. Something to think about when our own elected representatives on the world stage enjoy puffing their chests and speaking of war to make us look away from their unscrupulous contempt for those ‘neath their heel.


About Loukash

Artist & Illustrator.
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