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By K. Greenfield
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In theory, what would prevent a Persian amphibious landing in the Peloponnese behind an isthmus wall (as the turncoat Demaratus had, in fact, advised Xerxes to do)? Fighting in more open seas off the Peloponnese only gave more advantages to the far larger enemy ﬂeet. And why would the Athenians sacriﬁce any hope of recovering their city in order to ﬁght on behalf of Peloponnesians who clearly all along cared only for their own defense? Ceding more land was no strategy for a defense of Greece. More immediately, what would the assembled Greeks do about thousands of hungry refugees on Salamis, whose safety depended entirely on the Greek ships in the harbors of the island?
In a small plain along the Asopos River on the lower slopes of Mt. Kithairon, the Greeks crushed the Persians, killed Mardonius, and watched the survivors scatter to the north. Themistocles apparently did not take part in the landbattle, but was still at sea pursuing enemy vessels along the coast of Asia Minor – or, more likely, had suffered some sort of falling out with the Greek high command tired of his constant boasting. After the storm and losses at Artemisium and the subsequent naval defeat at Salamis, Xerxes may have lost over 900 triremes.
2) Evacuating Athens. But even the new ﬂeet was not enough to offer Athens a chance of victory. Had Themistocles not convinced the Athenians in September 480 BC to evacuate the Attic countryside, the Persians would have wiped out their hoplite army in a glorious Thermopylae-like last stand in Attica, as the ﬂeet retreated south or westward. Nor earlier did he try to rally the Greek allies to march northward to stop the Persians on the Boeotian plains. Themistocles had fought at Marathon, and co-commanded the failed defense at Tempe in summer 480.
American Strategy in WWII - A Reconsideration by K. Greenfield