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Cultural Responses to the Persian WarsAntiquity to the Third Millennium$
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Emma Bridges, Edith Hall, and P. J. Rhodes

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199279678

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199279678.001.0001

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‘Shrines of the Mighty’: Rediscovering the Battlefields of the Persian Wars

‘Shrines of the Mighty’: Rediscovering the Battlefields of the Persian Wars

(p.231) 11 ‘Shrines of the Mighty’: Rediscovering the Battlefields of the Persian Wars
Cultural Responses to the Persian Wars

Ian Macgregor Morris

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the role played in the Enlightenment by the battlefields of the Persian Wars, shifting the focus of the argument to Thermopylae and Marathon, and the canonization of their status as the places where Liberty was born. The chapter explores the attitudes of visitors to Greece and the Persian War battle sites — especially the scene of the heroic last stand of Leonidas at Thermopylae — from the earlier part of the 17th century until the 18th century. Particular attention is paid to the British expedition in 1751, and the frustrations of scholarly travellers at the failure of the landscape they encountered to match precisely the topography described by Herodotus and Strabo. But the recorded emotional responses of the visitors on their pilgrimages to what they saw as the sacrificial shrine of western liberty ultimately transcended all their empirical anxieties.

Keywords:   Enlightenment, Persian Wars, Thermopylae, Marathon

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