Were the Persian Wars a victory for Greek civilization and democracy, or were they the beginning of the end for the Greek ideal of freedom?

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Taking a grand view of history, the Greco-Persian Wars was most definitely not the end of the Greek ideal of freedom. However, if we look at what happened to the Greek city-states in the aftermath, there was a loss of immediate freedom in many parts of the peninsula. The Persian wars harken back to Cyrus the Great, who conquered the Ionian provinces of Greece—who, when he took the Ionian lands, was challenged by the Spartans, though it never progressed beyond threats.

In the time of Darius I, the Athenians attempted to help the Ionian Greeks revolt against the Achaemenid Empire. Their attempted revolution was not well planned, and Athens was singled out by Darius for retribution. The Persian wars included the battle of Marathon, in the first invasion, and other battles like Thermopylae and Plataea, in the second invasion. Overall, the Greeks resoundingly defeated the Persian invasion—securing their territory and protecting themselves from further Persian incursions.

The Athenians and...

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