Through the ashes of various brutal conflicts in ancient Persia and Mesopotamia, a spectacular commander, Cyrus the Great, created the largest empire the world had ever known in 550 BC. The Achaemenid Empire, also known as the First Persian Empire, expanded its territory from Persia to Mesopotamia, the Levant, Egypt, the Caucasus, and Asia Minor. 

The empire grew to take much of the known world and came into conflict with the most powerful adversary, the Greek city-states. In multiple wars that would determine the fate of the ancient world, we look at the Persian perspective of the Greco-Persian Wars.


The Achaemenid Empire was vast; Persians were not the only ethnic group within the empire. Ethnic groups included Afghans, Turkic ethnic groups, Indians, Assyrians, Armenians, Jews, Egyptians, Lydians, Phoenicians, and Greeks within Asia Minor. 

Ambitious conquests of Asia Minor came with high casualties; the Persians wanted to keep the peace in a region rife with warfare since the Late Bronze Age Collapse. After the collapse, Mycenaeans, who would be later known as modern-day Greeks, settled on the Ionian coastlines of Asia Minor. 

The Ionians would conflict with the Lydians for several hundred years before the Achaemenid conquests. When the Persians expanded, they had promised protection to vassals in return for tribune, also known as the Ionian Greeks, who were OK with Persian rule until they received heavier taxes under Darius. The Ionians had called for aid from the Greek city-states, which Athens and Eretria answered. 

Together during the Ionian Revolt, their forces sacked Sardis, the ancient capital of the Lydians, but also a critical Persian satrapy (province). Cyprus also suffered in the conflict, as the Ionians inspired the Greeks of the isle. As the Mediterranean Sea was a prosperous trade route that the Greeks dominated, the Persians now had a pretext for war, not just for expansion but also for seeing the Greek city-states as a threat to the western frontiers of the Achaemenid Empire.

Battle of Mycale via Pinterest

 Greco-Persian Wars

The Achaemenids’ strategy was to punish Athens and Eretria for their roles in the uprising in Asia Minor. The ruling Persians also wanted to influence the remaining Greek city-states to their side and annex Greece with minimal casualties if possible.