200 euro - The Persian Wars
Series: Greece - Gold euro coins
The rapid expansion of the Persian Empire inevitably brought it into collision with the Greek world in the 5th century BC. After subduing the Greek cities of Ionia and then crushing their revolt, the Persians set out to punish Athens for having assisted the Ionian cities. Thus, in 490 BC, king Darius sent an expeditionary force under Datis and Artaphernes against Athens. The Athenians, however, under the command of Miltiades, emerged victorious from the Battle of Marathon. Ten years later, king Xerxes, determined to conquer Greece, led a far vaster army and navy against the Greeks. Although the Persians prevailed in the Battle of Thermopylae, they suffered a crushing defeat at Salamis, largely due to the brilliant generalship of Themistocles. Two further Greek victories in 479 BC, in the Battles of Plataea (on land) and Mykale (at sea), sealed the expulsion of the Persians from Greece. The defeat of the Persian invasion saved the Greek world from enslavement and enabled classical civilisation to flourish.