Read this article to learn about the comparative strength and weakness of the parties on the eve of the Ionian Revolt.
Our information about the comparative strength and weakness of the revolted Ionian Greeks and the Persians is meagre.
From the occasional and indirect references an estimate of the respective strength and weakness may however be made.
Of the two antagonists in the Ionian revolt, ‘the Greeks were unready and ill-organised while the Persians possessed most formidable army the world had yet seen.’ This army was often in action and allowed seldom to rest, added efficiency to the number, due to practice. Such was the strength of the Persian army that Herodotus remarked that it was driven by a demon.
Further, on the northern, eastern and southern sides the Persian empire had expanded to the farthest profitable limits. On the western side although conquest was not much profitable due to the deficiency of the material wealth of the Greek lands, yet these were within easy reach of the Persians.
One point that added to the already invincible strength of the Persian King was the assistance and encouragement that he received from numerous Greek renegades who aspired after staging a comeback in Greece wherefrom they had either been expelled or fled, along with the Persian train.
There was no question of the revolted Greeks’ engaging the Persians on land. They put their trust on their navy. Here the Ionian Greeks were better off than the Persians. After all, a maritime people with a powerful navy relied on it naturally, as the surest shield against attack. But the navy was also their strongest weapon of offence. Historian Hecataeus warned the leaders of the revolt of the danger of the course they had decided upon and in case it was followed at all, they must obtain command of the sea at all costs, and should finance pose any problem the treasury of Apollo at Branchidae to be impounded for the upkeep of the fleet.
Aught we understand from Hecataeus’ warning was that the Greeks were’ not financially sufficient and might have to depend on the treasury of Apollo. Further, since the end of the sixth century B.C. the Asiatic Greeks were passing through an economic crisis.
Thus whether considered from the strength of the Greek hoplites (armed men) or from the point of view of organisation, readiness or financial sufficiency the revolted Greeks were definitely worse off than the Persians.
In the muster of the Greek fleet at island of Lade opposite Miletus, the Greek combined ships numbered 353 with 80 from Miletus, 12 from Priene, 70 from Lesbos, 60 from Samos, 17 from Teos, 100 from Chios, 3 from Myus, 8 from Erythrae, as against 600 Persian ships.
But the greatest source of the Greek weakness was the lack of unity of command. The Ionian Greeks under pressure of the situation revived the old Confederacy of the Ionian cities and issued a uniform coinage which facilitated commercial intercourse as also provided money for the federal forces. But no steps were taken to establish any unity of command and the different contingents sent by different cities served under their respective generals. This divided command worked the weakness of the revolted Greeks.
Further, the wisdom of extending the area of revolt was not recognized at the first stage, although later Aristagoras went out on Greek mainland for canvassing support. Had the support of the Greeks of the mainland been enlisted, the Greeks might have measured their swords favourably against the Persians and halted them and brought them to a standstill thereby removing the necessity of the Greeks to fight the Persians on their own soil.