d. 489 BC

Mardonius was the son of Gobryas, one of the seven conspirators who had put Darius on the throne. He was also married to one of the daughters of Darius. He was an ambitious General, hungry for glory, and he was the primary influence on Xerxes, pressuring him to resume the war with Greece. Mardonius had been put in charge of Darius's first invasion of Greece in 492 B.C., but his fleet was destroyed off the coast of Mount Athos, and he had to return before ever reaching the Greek mainland. Two years later, Darius outfitted another fleet to invade Greece, but instead of Mardonius, the second campaign, which ended after the defeat at Marathon, was lead by Artaphernes and Datis. After the death of Darius, Xerxes himself was undecided regarding the advisability of another campaign in Greece, but Mardonius convinced him to resume the war. It is thought that Mardonius hoped to be Governor, or Satrap, of the Persian Province of Greece.

Mardonius was present at both the battles of Thermopylae and Salamis, and it was on his advise that Xerxes returned to Persia, leaving him in Greece with an army of 300,000 men. Instead of seeking to give battle to the Greek armies, which were now concentrated in the Peloponnese, Mardonius tried to operate as governor of the conquered portion of Greece. He set up his headquarters at Thebes, and consolidated relations with all Greek towns who had surrendered to Persia. He offered Athens favorable terms if they would return to their city and recognize him as their sovereign, an offer which Athens of course, heartily refused. Mardonius, in fact, made no move toward attempting to conquer the Peloponnese, and it finally dawned on the Spartans, that if they were going to drive the invaders from Greek territory, they would have to leave their highly fortified peninsula, and meet him in Boeotia, where the Persian's made camp. Neither side was anxious for battle, and for many weeks the armies camped near each other without engaging. Finally, on a field near Plataea the issue was settled. The Persian army was annihilated, Mardonius was killed, and the Greek city states were free once more.

Key events during the life of mardonius:

494 BC
Mardonius assists in bringing Ionian Rebellion under control.
492 BC
First expedition to Greece under Mardonius fails due to loss of fleet at Mount Athos.
490 BC
Second expedition to Greece, under Datis and Artaphernes, results in loss at Marathon.
486 BC
Insurrection in Egypt broke out.
485 BC
Death of Darius. Xerxes assumes the throne.
484 BC
Xerxes sends Mardonius to put down rebellion in Egypt.
483 BC
Under pressure from Mardonius, Xerxes decides to resume war against Greece.
  Elaborate preparations for an overwhelming army are made.
480 BC
Xerxes army crosses Hellespont, Battles of Thermopylae and Salamis.
480 BC
Xerxes returns to Persia, leaves Greece in the hands of Mardonius.
479 BC
Mardonius is killed at the Battle of Plataea.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Invasion of Greece  in  Darius the Great  by  Jacob Abbott
Egypt and Greece  in  Xerxes  by  Jacob Abbott
Bow against Spear  in  Pictures from Greek Life and Story  by  Alfred J. Church
Battles on Plain and Shore  in  Helmet and Spear  by  Alfred J. Church
Of the First War Against Greece  in  The Story of the Persian War  by  Alfred J. Church
Of the Flight of Xerxes  in  The Story of the Persian War  by  Alfred J. Church
Battles of Salamis and Plataea  in  The Story of the Greeks  by  H. A. Guerber
Darius Demands Earth and Water  in  The Story of Greece  by  Mary Macgregor
Battle of Plataea  in  The Story of Greece  by  Mary Macgregor
Plataea's Famous Day  in  Historical Tales: Greek  by  Charles Morris
Great Persian Invasion (cont.)  in  The Story of the Greek People  by  Eva March Tappan

Image Links

A fighting Persian
 in The Story of the Greeks

Short Biography
Darius the Great With six conspirators seized the throne of Persia, primarily through craft rather than force.
Xerxes Raised an enormous army for Persian invasion of Greece. Defeated at Battle of Salamis.
Artabanus Brother of Darius. Close advisor to Darius and Xerxes.
Artemisia Queen of Halicarnassas and Cos. One of Xerxes most trusted advisors and Generals.
Demaratus Exiled King of Sparta, advisor to Xerxes during his invasion of Greece.
Masistius Leader of the Persian Cavalry. Killed in early fighitng near Plataea.
Pausanias Spartan General who led Greece against Mardonius at the Battle of Plataea.
Themistocles Athenian hero of the Battle of Salamis. He masterminded Athenian naval supremacy.
Leonidas Spartan King whose whole army died defending the pass of Thermopylae.