Book Review: The Battle of Marathon in Scholarship: Research, Theories and Controversies Since 1850

Archives

by Dennis L. Fink

Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2014. Pp. xii, 496. Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. $45.00 paper. ISBN: 0786479736

Thinking About Marathon

What more could possibly be said about the momentous Battle of Marathon in 490 BC? Well, Dennis L. Fink, a veteran student of the battle, manages to do so. He gives us a different perspective on it, not a history, but rather a historiography, a discussion of how scholars, and to some extent the public, have viewed, analyzed, and explained the battle since the mid-1800s, and about some of the controversies that have erupted, at times over remarkably fine points. 

Fink opens with a discussion of the varying opinions as to the reliability of the ancient sources, and in particular Herodotus, noting the arguments over his reliability, and the changing perspectives on his work, which is today viewed as more trustworthy than it was a 165 years ago. 

Fink then examines varying perspectives on the military institutions and practice of the Greeks and Persians, and on the historical background, including the institution of the Democracy in Athens, the rise and expansion of the Persian Empire, the Ionian Revolt, and the slide toward a general war in 492-490 BC. He devotes considerable attention to the battle itself, of course, and then discusses the ways in which Marathon shaped later events. 

Fink provides extensive footnotes and a very detailed bibliography, and builds his analysis using not only the ancients and their modern interpreters, but also by drawing on geography, archaeology, and practical experimentation by scholars, soldiers, and reenactors. 

Although marred by a lack of maps, this is an excellent work about one of the defining events in the rise of the West.

 

Note: The Battle of Marathon in Scholarship is also available as an eBook ISBN 978-0-4766-1534-9

---///---

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   


Buy it at Amazon.com




X

ad
0
30

Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 30 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close