At Marathon an army of Greek city states, including Sparta and Athens, met the Persian army of Darius. This was the key battle of Western civilisation for Athens were defending not only their independence but their radical new political form, democracy. Alan Lloyd details the course of Athenian democracy, its religion and culture and the uneasy alliances with other city-states, such as Sparta. Out of this historical background Lloyd brings the battle alive with a story-teller's vitality, evoking the final run of Philippides, the Athenian messenger, who brought the news of the Greek victory back to Athens, a feat now commemorated in the modern marathon.

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