On the advice of Hippias, Datis landed the Persian forces at Marathon. His fleet of 200 triremes
and 400 transports was manned by 40,000 seamen. 20,000 infantry and 5,000 cavalry embarked on the
land and made camp about a half mile from the shoreline. The Greek army, commanded by Miltiades,
numbered 9,000 Athenian hoplites and 1,000 Plataean hoplites. They took up a position in the
valley of Vrana with their flanks positioned on hills.
For as many as eight days the two armies sat about a mile apart with no activity. Each day of
delay increased the likelihood of the Spartan reinforcements arrival. However, Miltiades still
proposed to attack the Persian forces. Perhaps because the faction favoring Hippias in Athens
was growing in power.
Who initiated the battle is not known. Miltiades knew he would have to gamble if his forces were
to triumph. The Persian front was too long for the hoplites to form up in their usual eight deep
formation. The Greek flanks were strengthened and anchored on streams with the Plataeans on the
left and Callimachus commanded on the right. The center of the Athenian line was thinned out,
and Miltiades knew it probably could not hold out against the powerful Persian center.
The Persian formed up quickly as the Greek lines took shape. Keeping with tradition, the
best Persian troops were placed in the center. The flanks were made up of tribal levies and
Ionian Greek conscripts.
The Persians load up part of their fleet with infantry and cavalry and send them by sea to
Athens. The remaining Persian infantry advances towards the Greek lines to prevent them from
returning to Athens. The advance was slow as the two armies were a mile apart. Once the Greeks
were within bow shot of the Persian archers they rushed up to minimize the arrow fire they would take.
The two lines met, though the Greek line was bowed due to advancing over rough terrain. The
weak Greek center is pushed back and the Persians pursue. The Greek flanks overpower the Persian
The Greek flanks refrain from pursuing the Persian flanks and turn inwards on the Persian center.
The Persian center has no room to maneuver and is crushed.
Some of the Persians manage to flee and board their ships. Others are ran down and killed in the
marshes. The Greeks rush to the Persian anchorage and capture seven Persian ships. Persian
casualties amount to 6,400, many due to drowning while attempting to escape. The Greek casualties
are only 192.