Persian Wars - Battle of Plataea

Spartans at Plataea
Spartans at Plataea.

Definition: Spartans, Tegeans, and Athenians fought the Persian army that remained in Greece, at the final battle on Greek soil of the Persian Wars, the Battle of Plataea, in 479 B.C.

Xerxes and his fleet had returned to Persia, but Persian troops remained in Greece, under Mardonius. They stationed themselves for battle in a place suitable for their horsemen -- the plain. Under the Spartan leader Pausanias, the Greeks stationed themselves advantageously in the foothills of Mt. Cithaeron.

In time, Mardonius tried to draw the Greeks out, using his cavalry. He failed, so the Persians retreated. Mardonius changed his tactic, using his cavalry to separate the Greeks from their provisions.

Eventually, Pausanias took his troops down into the plains where they were still separated from the Persians, but only by a row of hills. The Greeks managed to cut off some of the Persian supplies, too. Skirmishes broke out and the Persians poisoned the Greek water supply. Pausanias tried to move his troops to another water supply, so he sent the less experienced troops first. The result of his dividing the Greek forces was that the Persians thought the Greeks had split up on the basis of political differences. When Mardonius, now with added confidence, attacked, the various Greek groups rushed in to help each other and defeat the Persians.

Athens grew in power and continued to pursue the Persians, so even though the Battle at Plataea was the final, main battle of Greeks against Persians on Greek soil, it wasn't until 449 that Athens and Persia put an end to the Persian Wars.

, by Peter Green

The Battle of Salamis : The Naval Encounter That Saved Greece -- and Western Civilization, by Barry Strauss

Simonides - On the Lacedaemonian Dead at Plataea (Battle of Plataea)