A nation that draws too broad a difference between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools. — Thucydides


~ 494 BC
Civilization: Greek — Persia
   Field of Renown:  statesman — Minister
Era:  Persian War

Aristagoras was the central figure of the Ionian revolt, which continued for about five years between 499 and 494 B.C., and was a precursor to the Persian Wars in Greece. He was the leader of Miletus, an important city on the coast of Asia Minor, and had held this position since it was vacated by his father-in-law Histiaeus, a trusted minster of Darius. There were two immediate causes of the rebellion. First, Aristagoras had undertaken an expedition to recover the island of Naxos for the Persian satrap, Artaphernes. The expedition went badly, and the position of Aristagoras was in peril. Second, Histiaeus was unhappy at the court of Darius in Susa, and desired to return to Miletus. He sent a message to Aristagoras encouraging a revolt, so that he himself, could be sent to put it down. Aristagoras heartily complied, and by 499 B.C., the city of Miletus was in open revolt. The rebellion quickly spread to many Greek cities in Asia Minor that were unhappy under the Persian Yoke.

Encouraged by this activity, Aristagoras went to mainland Greece to seek aid. He talked first to Cleomenes I of Sparta, who refused to send aid. He later went to Athens and acquired twenty ships. With these ships, and many others from the rebelling colonies, Aristagoras lead an attack on Sardis, the capital of the Satrap Artaphernes. The city was burned to the ground, thoroughly enraging the Persian Monarch. The Persian forces were eventually rallied, and won back city after city. Miletus, the last hold-out, fell in 494 B.C. Aristagoras fled to Thrace, and tried to establish a colony there, but was killed in a local engagement.

Key events during the life of Aristagoras:

511 BC
(approx.) Histiaeus leaves his position as tyrant of Miletus to his son-in-law, Aristagoras.
502 BC
Naxos revolts against Persia, and asks Aristagoras for help. Invasion ends in disaster.
499 BC
Histiaeus sends a message to Aristagoras encouraging a rebellion.
499 BC
Aristagoras initiates a rebellion of the city of Miletus against Persian rule.
498 BC
Aristagoras seeks allies on mainland Greece. Cleomenes I of Sparta refuses aid. Athens offers help.
497 BC
With Athens's help, the rebels capture and burn Sardis, the capital of Lydia.
  Miltiades, tyrant of Chersonese, flees to Athens.
494 BC
Ionian revolt is put down. Miletus is sacked by the Persians.
  Aristagoras flees to Thrace, but is killed by the Thracians.

Short Biography
Histiaeus Very close advisor to Darius, rescued him from disaster in Scythia, later rebelled. Father in law of Aristagoras.
Megabates Admiral who quarreled with Aristagoras regarding the taking of Naxos.
Miltiades Athenian General who led Greece to great victory at the Battle of Marathon.
Hippias Exiled son of Pisistratus; helped lead Persian forces against Athens at Marathon.
Cleomenes I King of Sparta before Persian Wars, removed tyrants from Athens, defeated Argos.
Artaphernes Brother of Darius, Satrap of Lydia during Ionian Rebellion. Lead Persian forces at Marathon.
Mardonius Brother-in-law of Xerxes and commander-in-chief of Xerxes's Army.