Ancient World Now:Marathon

Click here for direct link to audio podcast Episode #41.

Click here for previous episodes.

The sad death of Sammy Wanjiru, the Kenyan Olympic marathon champion and gold medalist casts its shadow over today’s podcast. May he rest in peace…

I remember I first heard the story of Marathon when I was in high school. It thrilled me to the core to know that the Greek underdogs had beaten back the Persian aggressors. But more thrilling to me was the story of Pheidippides, the messenger, who ran so faithfully to bring news of the victory to the people of Athens that he collapsed and died of exhaustion on the spot!

Later, I read different versions of the story. In reality, he ran 140 miles in one day from Athens to Sparta to beg assistance. The Spartans, being a cantankerous bunch, kept the Athenians waiting and arrived a day late & a dollar short! They missed the battle and never forgave themselves!

The victory at Marathon was a pivotal moment in history, galvanizing resolve in the fledgling democracies, and filling Greek spirits with the kind of triumph that makes nothing seem impossible. This spirit flourished and brought to fruition in later years the finest aspects of Western Civilization to which we lay claim. After Marathon, Persian King Darius began preparations for a second attack, but trouble in Egypt postponed his plans. He died 4 years after the Battle at Marathon, and it was another 6 years before his son Xerxes would carry out his father’s plans by returning for another try. This ten year respite gave the Greeks time to regroup. And thanks to a brilliant general by the name of Themistocles, those years were spent preparing for the next Persian invasion. But that, my friends, is another story…. Enjoy!

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner