The Idea of Marathon

Nevin, Sonya. 2022. The Idea of Marathon: Battle and Culture. London: Bloomsbury.

The Battle of Marathon changed the course of history in ancient Greece. To many, the impossible seemed to have been achieved – the mighty Persian Empire halted in its advance. What happened that day, why was the battle fought, and how did people make sense of it? This bold new history of the battle examines how the conflict unfolded and the ideas attached to it in antiquity and beyond. Many thought the battle offered lessons in how people should behave, with heroism to be emulated and faults to be avoided. While the battle itself was fought in one day, the battle for the idea of Marathon has lasted ever since. After immersing you in the battle, this work will help you to explore how the ancient Athenians used the battle in their relations between themselves and others, and how the battle continued to be used to express ideas about gods, empire, and morality in the age of Alexander and his successors, at Rome and in Greece under the Roman Empire, and in the ages after antiquity, even in our own era, in which Marathon plays a remarkable role in sport, film, and children’s literature with each retelling a re-imagining of the battle and its meaning. A clash of weapons, gods, and principles, this is Marathon as you’ve never seen it before!

Table of Contents

  1. Athenians at a Turning Point
  2. The Greek World
  3. Persia
  4. Revolt in Ionia
  5. The Plain of Marathon
  6. The Fight
  7. Surviving Marathon
  8. Events after Marathon
  9. Memories of Marathon in Fifth-Century Art and Literature
  10. Marathon beyond the Fifth-Century
  11. Marathon under Rome
  12. Marathon after Antiquity