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Aftereffects of the Battle of Marathon

The symbolic importance of the battle of Marathon1 in 490 B.C. far outweighed its military significance. The defeat of his punitive expedition enraged Darius2 because it insulted his prestige, not because it represented any threat to the security of his kingdom. The Athenian men who comprised the city-state's army, on the other hand, had dramatically demonstrated their commitment to preserving their freedom by refusing to capitulate to an enemy whose reputation for power and wealth had made a disastrous Athenian defeat appear certain. The unexpected victory at Marathon gave an unparalleled boost to Athenian self-confidence, and the city-state's soldiers and leaders thereafter always boasted that they had stood fast before the feared barbarians even though the Spartans had not arrived in time to help them.3

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