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Who Really Won the Battle of Marathon? (Hardback)

A Bold Re-appraisal of One of History’s Most Famous Battles

Ancient History Colour Books Military

By Fotis Karyanos, Constantinos Lagos, Translated by John Carr
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 370
Illustrations: 41
ISBN: 9781526758064
Published: 27th January 2020

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The Battle of Marathon in 490 BC, where an Athenian-led Greek force defeated a Persian invasion, is one of the most decisive battles in Antiquity and has been studied for centuries. It is famed as a triumph of the Greek hoplite heavy infantry phalanx against massively superior Persian numbers. But this exciting re-assessment of the evidence, including new archaeological findings, overturns many long-held assumptions. In particular the authors argue that the Greek numerical inferiority was less marked than previously thought, largely because the hoplites were accompanied by many light infantrymen who are given unprecedented credit for their role in the fighting. The contribution of these poorer citizens, it is argued, led to the immediate strengthening of democracy in Athens.

The authors also tackle the much-debated mystery of the whereabouts of the Persian cavalry, generally thought to have been absent on the day of battle. Their bold answer is that it was not only present but played a central role in the fighting. However, the Greeks managed to defeat the Persian cavalry by their ingenious use of the terrain. Karyanos and Lagos also claim to have located the site of the Greek camp. This thoroughly researched and compelling re-assessment is an exciting new take on this justly famous event.

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The authors have researched their subject well and present their arguments well, backing them up with facts, quotes and figures. Marathon has always been an emotive subject among the Ancient History fraternity. I feel the majority of questions have been answered, especially that concerning the "lost cavalry". With researchers of this calibre, it becomes a joy to read their theories on how ancient histories were conducted and dispells many of the myths ventured by the ill-informed.

An excellent book containing 8 chapters, 5 appendices, photos and maps, a bibliography and over 100 pages of notes. Every credit to the authors for their persistence and research. I recommend this book to anyone interested in Ancient Greek history.

Marks out of five: A very well deserved 5

Read the full review here

Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

Highly recommend this book. Some of us met Fotis Karyanos in our 2015 re-enactment at Marathon. Their reconstruction of the battle includes new material resulting from research: the site of the Greek camp, the location of the battle, the tactics used by the Greeks, the mystery of the ‘absent’ cavalry, the use of newly freed slaves and the lower classes and the relative numbers of combatants on either side. They provide arguments that question long-held assumptions and provides some compelling evidence for their theories.

Hoplite Association

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

If you enjoy military history, then this book is for you! Dive into facts, theories and so much more! The author, Constantinos Lagos brings a new perspective to the many different theories that have been thrown around for centuries.

The Persians were a force to be reckoned with, masters of war and defense, But the Greek force managed to route and defeat the Persian military. The back and forth among historians has often led to heated debates, and many different thoughts as to how the Greek military could unseat such a heavy favorite of the ancient world.

Lagos dives deep into history, bringing the backgrounds to the forefront, and giving a fresh perspective of this age old battle. For military historians, this is a must read book! It is one that is going to have you scribbling notes, and running to the library looking for documentation and more information. One of the best books of the year! His findings might just surprise you...

NetGalley, Rebecca Hill

The evidence is so well laid out the reader may come to their own opinion as to what was the decisive element. This book, "Who Really Won the Battle of Marathon", is not quite so simple as pointing a figuring to the singular important factor. It is a well developed clear rendition of what is the state of research on this pivotal event. They literally get down to the mud, the conditions, the conflicting accounts, and just about everything that could possibly shed light on the event. As such it is a good read if just to admire the research and sleuthing of the authors Karyanos and Lagos. They do a very good job. I highly recommend this.

NetGalley, Willy Marz

Featured 'ON THE SHELF' by Neil Smith

Wargames Illustrated, September 2019

Bold and controversial reinterpretation of one of the most the most famous and decisive battles of the ancient world.

Bookseller Buyers Guide

About Fotis Karyanos

Fotis Karyanos holds degrees in History and Archaeology from Athens University and an MBA from Alba Graduate Business School. He is certificated by the Hellenic Capital Market Commission (HCMC) and is active at Hellenic Foundation for Research and Innovation (H.F.R.I), a new institution through which a profound reforming effort is being attempted in the field of Research and Innovation in Greece. Ancient history and archaeology, however, remain his consuming passion.


About Constantinos Lagos

Constantinos Lagos holds a BA in History from Athens University and an MA and PhD in Ancient History from Durhan University in the UK. He teaches History in the Hellenic Air Force Academy and the Hellenic Open University. He is the author of a study of the battle of Fort Rupel (6-10 April 1941) and of a biography of Constantine Perrikos, an aviator who fought in the Greek wartime resistance.


About John Carr

Throughout that career he has been steeped in Greek affairs, ancient and modern, which gave him the incentive to reinvent himself as a military historian specializing in southern Europe.

Since his teens he has also involved himself in music, and recently recorded a CD of self-composed instrumental rock, his main spare-time interest apart from writing.

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