Announcing the Victory

At the end of the battle of Marathon an Athenian messenger ran the twenty-six miles from the plain of Marathon to the city of Athens to report the victory and warn the people in the city to guard against a naval attack by the Persian fleet, which was sailing around the peninsula of Attica1 (the territory of Athens as a city-state) to see if the city could be taken by an approach from the coast to its west. When the Persians ended up sailing home without taking Athens2, the Athenians rejoiced in disbelief. The Persians, whom they had feared as invincible, had retreated. For decades afterwards, the greatest honor an Athenian man could claim was to say he had been a “Marathon fighter3.” The run of the messenger who reported the victory is commemorated in today's marathon races, whose name and distance are derived from this run in 490 B.C.

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