This article provides short notes about the place of Mycale.
On the same day as the battle of Plataea the Greeks won another victory on the Ionian coast at Mycale, east of Samos.
The Greek fleet had been stationed at Delos on guard throughout the summer under the command of Leotichidas. Xanthippus and the Athenians joined the fleet at Delos and this raised the total number of ships to about 250, according to Diodorus.
It was the policy of the Athenians to remain inactive on the sea until a battle had been fought on land. For, they feared that a naval victory either for Greece or Persia would make the Spartans retreat from northern Greece. It was therefore as a measure of compelling the Spartans to help in the defence of northern Greece that the Athenians would not risk a naval battle until after a battle on land. But on the same day as the battle of Plataea the armament at Delos was drawn into action by a message from the Samians begging help against Persia and also promising an immediate revolt in Ionia, assuring the Greek admirals of the unseaworthy and helpless plight of the enemy’s navy.
Leotichidas accepted the proposal and concluded a treaty with them. Leotichidas sailed to the island of Samos and on his approach the Persian fleet withdrew to the cape Mycale where a large Persian army was already stationed. The Greeks landed; attacked, carried and burned the enemy’s camp. Greek victory was made easy by the desertion of the lonians who won their freedom as a result of the Greek victory, which was no less important than that at Plataea. After their defeat at Mycale the Persians retreated to Sardis.
On their return to Samos from Mycale the victorious Grecian fleet, having full confidence in their power of defending the Ionian islands admitted the Chians, Samians, Lesbians and other islanders hitherto subjects of Persia to the protection and reciprocal engagements of their alliance.
The Spartans were anxious to go home and to limit their liabilities overseas by leaving Asia to the Persians. The Athenians, however, were not willing to abandon their Ionian kinsmen and other Greeks who were now committed to their cause. The Spartan proposal to transplant the Ionian population to Greece was also not acceptable to the Athenians, for they were not willing to permit the colonies originally planted by themselves should be abandoned, thus abandoning the metropolitan dignity of Athens.
The Lacedaemonians readily acquiesced in this objection and were glad to wriggle out of a situation leaving the onerous responsibility of freeing and protecting the Asiatic Greeks to the Athenians. The first step was thus taken, which gave Athens a separate ascendancy and separate duties in duties to the Asiatic Greeks, and for introducing first, the confederacy of Delos next, Athenian maritime empire.
From Samos the Greek fleet, chiefly at the instance of the Athenians, sailed northward for the purpose of breaking down the bridge Xerxes had set up across the Hellespont. On their arrival at Abydos, they learned of the destruction of the Xerxian bridge. Leotichidas and the Spartans returned home forthwith but Xanthippus with the Athenian squadron remained to expel the Persians from the Thracian Chersonese.
This peninsula had been, in great part, an Athenian possession for more than forty years but during the Persian hatred towards Athens, particularly when Xerxes was ascendant, no Athenian citizen would find it a safe place to live in. Xanthippus was naturally eager to regain the properties of the Athenian citizens in the Chersonese.
Cimon, son of Miltiades had extensive properties there to recover. To these, there was yet another motive for attacking Chersonese namely, its importance as a corn-producing area and of a clear passage through the Hellespont for the corn-ships from the Propontis to Athens and Aegina. Xanthippus laid siege of Sestos, the strongest place in the peninsula, and the centre of the neighbouring Persian garrisons.
The Greek inhabitants of the Chersonese readily joined the Athenians in expelling the Persians who were taken by surprise. After some length of the siege, the stock of provisions in the town ran out and famine began to make itself felt. The garrison nevertheless held out till the patience of the besiegers was nearly exhausted. It was with difficulty that the Athenian leaders had to repress the clamourous desire of the Athenians to return to Athens.
However, the privations of the garrison became intolerable and Sestos was captured after which the Athenian fleet returned home with their plunder. Capture of Sestos, like the victory at Mycale, was a step further in the foundation of the Athenian empire.