The Military of Greece consists of the Hellenic Army, the Hellenic Navy (HN) and the Hellenic Air Force (HAF), with the Ministry of National Defence being the government authority. Greece has around 177,600 active soldiers as well as around 2,000,000 reservists due to the compulsory conscription in Greece.
The military history of Greece stretches back more than 2,500 years. Between 499 BC to 449 BC, the Greek city-states defeated the Persians in the Persian Wars. Towards the end of the century the two major powers, Athens and Sparta, clashed in the Peloponnesian War, which ended in Spartan victory. Around seventy years later, most of Greece was occupied by the Macedonians under the command of King Philip II of Macedon. His son, Alexander the Great, led a Greek army in the conquest of the Persian Empire, reaching as far as India. On Alexander's death, his empire split into many small successor kingdoms, the last of which, Ptolemaic Egypt, became a Roman province in 30 BC after the death of Cleopatra.
The Greeks stayed under Roman control for around 400 years until the division of the Roman Empire, after which they became part of the East Roman or Byzantine Empire, in which Greeks and Greek culture played a dominant role. After the Fourth Crusade took the imperial capital of Constantinople in 1204, Byzantium was fatally weakened, and its lands divided between western ("Latin") principalities and Greek Byzantine successor states. Eventually, most of these were conquered by the emerging Ottoman Empire, which in 1453 took Constantinople. The Greeks lived under Ottoman Turkish rule for around 400 years, until the revolt of 1821. The ensuing Greek War of Independence lasted until 1829, and in 1832 the Kingdom of Greece was founded.
Since then Greece has fought in many wars, among them the Greco-Turkish War of 1897, the First Balkan War, the Second Balkan War, World War I, the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922, World War II, the Korean War and more recently the War in Afghanistan. Template:/box-footer
The Battle of Marathon (490 BC) was the culmination of King Darius I of Persia's first major attempt to conquer the remainder of the Greeks and incorporate it into the Persian Empire, to secure the weakest portion of his Western border. Most of what is known of this battle comes from Herodotus.
Darius first sent Mardonius, in 492 BC, via a land route to Europe to strengthen Persia's hold of Thrace and Macedon, which had been weakened by the Ionian Revolt. Although successful, most of this force perished in a storm off Mount Athos, and the remainder was forced to return to Asia, losing men along the way. In 490 BC, Datis and Artaphernes were sent in a maritime operation to subjugate the Cyclades islands in the central Aegean and punish Eretria and Athens for their assistance in the Ionian revolt. Eretria was besieged and fell; then the fleet landed in Marathon bay. There they were defeated by a small force of Athenian and Plataean hoplites, despite their numerical advantage. The long run of the messenger who conveyed news of the victory to Athens became the inspiration for the marathon race, which was first staged at the 1896 Olympic Games. (Read more...)
A drawing of an Agrianian peltast. Agrianian peltasts serviced in Alexander the Great's army. Illustration by Johnny Shumate.
Thrasybulus (Ancient Greek: Θρασύβουλος, brave-willed, Eng. /θræsɪ'bju:ləs/; d. 388 BC) was an Athenian general and democratic leader. In 411 BC, in the wake of an oligarchic coup at Athens, the pro-democracy sailors at Samos elected him as a general, making him a primary leader of the successful democratic resistance to that coup. As general, he was responsible for recalling the controversial nobleman Alcibiades from exile, and the two worked together extensively over the next several years. In 411 and 410, Thrasybulus commanded along with Alcibiades and others at several critical Athenian naval victories.
After Athens' defeat in the Peloponnesian War, Thrasybulus led the democratic resistance to the new oligarchic government, known as the Thirty Tyrants, that the victorious Spartans imposed on Athens. In 404 BC, he commanded a small force of exiles that invaded Attica and, in successive battles, defeated first a Spartan garrison and then the forces of the oligarchics. In the wake of these victories, democracy was re-established at Athens. As a leader of this revived democracy in the 4th century BC, Thrasybulus advocated a policy of resistance to Sparta and sought to restore Athens' imperial power. He was killed in 388 BC while leading an Athenian naval force during the Corinthian War. (Read more...)
- "The Russian people will always be grateful to the Greeks for delaying the German army long enough for winter to set in, thereby giving us the precious time we needed to prepare. We will never forget."
Joseph Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union speaking about the Greeks delaying the German army long enough for them to still be short of their objective when winter set in, much like Napoleon.