The Battle of Marathon

Credits: Greg London

I cannot speak of my crime.
But I can tell you of my punishment.
In 498 BC, the Greek city-state of Ionia rebelled against its Persian Tyrants. Athens and Eretria sent ships to help Ionia in the fight. The Ionians marched on the city of Sardes, home of the regional Persian governor, and burned the city. Athens sent its tyrant, Hippias, into exile, and turned towards democracy. But in 494 BC, the Persians defeated the Ionians at sea, ending their rebellion.
King Darius I ruled the Persian Empire at this time. With the Ionians defeated, Darius was left infuriated with Athens and Eretria for their part in the rebellion. The Athenian tyrant, Hippias, went to Persia and met with King Darius. Hippias offered his help in conquering Athens in exchange for his return to power.
Darius sent envoys throughout Greece with a demand that each city pay a tribute to the Persian Empire. Many cities paid the tribute out of fear. Athens and Sparta replied by throwing the envoys to their deaths. This further infuriated Darius and gave him another reason to attack.
In 492 BC, Darius sent his fleet against the Greeks, but they were wiped out by a storm near Mount Athos. In 490 BC, Darius sent a fleet of six hundred triremes under the command of two generals: his nephew, Artiphernes, and a Mede named Datis. The Persian fleet attacked the city of Eretria first. The people of Eretria defended themselves from behind the city walls for nearly a week. But then the city was betrayed when two of Eretria’s chiefs let the Persians into the city.
The Persians sacked Eretria. Those not massacred were taken as slaves. Word of the Persian attack spread, and several Greek Generals met in Athens. They sent a professional runner named Phidippides to Sparta to request help. Phidippides covered the distance from Athens to Sparta, 150 miles, in two days.
At the same time, Hippias led the Persians to the island of Aegileia, where they dropped off their newly acquired Eretrian slaves. Hippias then brought the Persian fleet to the eastern shore near Marathon, an eight hour march from Athens.
While the Athenians waited for Sparta’s reply, the Greek Generals plotted their strategy. Rather than suffer the same fate as Eretria, the Generals decided to fight the Persians before they reached the city of Athens. Hoping to catch the Persians by surprise, the Athenian army marched to the plains of Marathon, twenty-two miles away.
The Athenians took their position on the high ground of a mountain range overlooking the plains of Marathon. They made camp above fifty-thousand Persians.
The Persian Army contained Infantry and Cavalry. They were lightly armored, wearing a tunic with metal plates, no helmet, and carrying a wicker and leather shield designed to stop arrows. Persians carried short spears, but their most fearsome weapon was the composite bow. The Persian King had once told the Greeks that his army’s arrows were so many that they could blot out the sun. To this, the Greeks replied, “Good, then we can fight in the shade.”
Upon seeing the Athenians, the Persians deployed their troops in standard line formation. They put their best troops, ten-thousand Persian Immortals, in the center and their poorer troops, conscripts and foreign fighters, on the wings. The cavalry took the flanks. They formed a line that was over half a mile wide and thirty men deep. Not wanting to attack the Athenians who held the high ground, the Persians made camp and waited.
The Greek Army was an army of Hoplite Infantry, named after their heavy shield, the hoplon. The Greek infantry wore heavy armor, a solid bronze chestplate and smaller plated armor covering the rest of their body. Their hoplon was made of wood and bronze. Their primary weapons were the long spear and short sword, and they would often deploy their troops in a phalanx formation with eight lines of men.
The Athenian Army reflected the Democratic notions of their city. The army was divided into tribes numbering one thousand men, and each tribe appointed a General. All ten Generals voted on all operations. The city of Athens appointed a man named Callimachus as Polemarch, or eleventh general, to prevent a tie from occurring during a vote. The Generals even took turns on a daily basis as to who commanded the whole army.
The Generals first voted to wait. The Persians would not want to attack as long as the Athenians held the high ground. And the Athenians were waiting for the Spartans to send help. While the Athenians waited, one thousand Plataeans arrived from the northwest to fight the Persians. This encouraged the Athenians. But then Phidippides returned with news that Sparta would not send help for another five days plus a number of days to march to Marathon.
The two armies faced one another in a stalemate. After eight days, the Athenians watched as thousands of Persians boarded their ships while others reinforced their positions. The Athenians were afraid that the Persians planned on leaving a force to contain them while the remainder of the Persian army sailed around the southern peninsula to attack Athens on the western shore.
The Athenian Generals were now evenly divided between fighting at Marathon and pulling back to Athens. General Miltiades thought the longer they waited, the worse their chances of success. Miltiades went to the Polemarch, Callimachus, to sway his vote. Miltiades gave Callimachus a rousing speech and convinced the Polemarch that they must fight the Persians without delay. When the vote was tallied, Miltiades’s ordered the army into battle.
Miltiades knew something of the way the Persians fought. He deliberately arranged the Greek army with a weakened centerline, four lines of Hoplites, and strong flanks, eight lines of Hoplites. Callimachus commanded the right wing. The Plataeans formed the left wing. Between them, the ten tribes lined up in order. In all, the Greek formation was well over half a mile wide.
On command, the Athenian Army marched in formation towards the Persians. The Persians were somewhat surprised by this, thinking the Athenians mad for giving up the high ground and engaging an army four times its size. The Persians readied themselves to fight. When the Athenian line was 200 yards distant, the Persians let loose a torrent of arrows to rain down on the Greeks.
At that moment, the Athenians charged the Persians at a run, and the arrows missed their targets. The Athenians closed with the Persians, in formation, on the double. The Greek’s charge caught the Persians by complete surprise, and the Persians prepared for hand to hand combat.
The two armies clashed and fought fiercely.
The Athenian flanks held their position, but their weaker middle was pushed back. The Persians drove through the center, only to be surrounded and completely enveloped by the Athenians. This was Miltiades’s plan; the Athenians engaged the Persians in close combat from all sides. The heavy arms and armor of the Athenian Army shattered the short spears and wicker shields of the Persians.
Their dead numbered in the thousands before the Persians managed to break out of the Athenian trap.
They retreated to the shore to reboard their ships. The Athenian’s chased them into the sea as the fighting became more chaotic.
Callimachus, the general and Polemarch, was killed here.
Stesilaus, one of the Tribe Generals, was killed here.
And, I can tell you of my fate as well.
I fought alongside an Athenian named Epizelus, son of Cyphagoras. Our ranks had broken, and the combat dissolved into wild melee. The Persians fought hard to board their ships. We pursued, but we managed to capture only seven ships out of their entire fleet.
Epizelus and I made our way near the shore. We reached the middle of the fighting, and two Medes charged us. We clashed furiously, and one of the Medes grazed my arm before I ran my spear into his chest.
Words that were not mine echoed through my head.
“That no man shall die by your hand.”
I looked at my arm and could see that my scratch had become a mortal wound. Epizelus was getting the better of the second Mede, when I saw the Giant coming towards us.
This Mede towered over the battlefield. His beard draped the entire length of his shield. He hefted his sword in the air and looked intent on splitting Epizelus down the middle.
I took one look at my wound, knew that I had broken my probation, and understood that I would pay for it with my life. I looked at the Mede and remembered my voice. I bellowed at him.
“May your eyes be blind to him!!! Take me!!!”
Epizelus finished his opponent and spun around to see this Mede, who stretched into the sky, walking towards him.
The Giant brushed past him and dropped his blade on my collarbone, collapsing my chest and shattering my spine. The Giant continued onward as if he did not see Epizelus.
I collapsed to the ground, dying as I fell.
Epizelus cried out that he could not see. Blindness had stricken him as it had stricken the Mede, only in different form.
As the life poured out of me, memories flashed before my eyes in an instant. My mind was numb with shock as I lay there dying.
I had been here at least three times before.
The remainder of the Persian Army scrambled aboard their ships, pulling away from shore. They picked up their prisoners on the island of Aegileia and sailed for Athens. They would attempt to reach Athens before the Greeks could return over land.
The Athenians had won this battle, but they could still yet lose the war. The entire Athenian Army moved with all possible speed to return home.
Phidippides ran ahead and covered the distance in three hours of porno gratis. When he arrived, he gave the news that the Persians had been defeated and that they were sailing around Attica to land at Athens. He then collapsed from exhaustion and soon died. The people manned the walls and made it appear that an army defended Athens. When the Persian ships arrived, they saw what appeared to be a well-defended city, and they hesitated.
Soon thereafter, the Athenian Army finished its own run from Marathon to Athens. When the Greek army came into view, the Persians decided they had suffered enough and sailed home.
In the end, 6400 Persians and 192 Athenians perished.
The city-state of Athens was saved, as was the fledgling democracy that it nurtured. The shape of the world changed because men took a stand, against all odds, for freedom.
Eons later, men and women would run twenty-some miles for a cash prize and call it a “Marathon.”
But the true prize is much more precious than Gold.
The prize is nothing short of freedom itself.

Credits: Greg London

Business leaders in the city have stepped forward to rescue the Pride festival.

Debts totalling more than £180,000 owed to more than 20 companies and charities have plunged the future of the major event into doubt.

Now Michael Deol and Robert Webb, the owners of Club Revenge in Old Steine, and James Ledward, editor of GScene magazine and Paul Kemp of Aeon Events, have formed a community interest company in a bid to run Pride in Brighton and Hove for 2012.

They have vowed that all profits will be ploughed back into LGBT charitable causes. According to plans submitted to Brighton and Hove City Council, Stagfleet Ltd, the owner of Club Revenge, will underwrite the whole event. The directors also own 10 venues across the city, including The Dorset, Hove Kitchen, Zafferelli’s and the Sackville Hotel site.

Mr Deol said that £1 of the price of every ticket sold will be ring-fenced and donated directly to the Rainbow Fund to distribute through its grants porno en fusionporno.com programme to local LGBT/HIV organisations and charities that provide front line services to the LGBT community in Brighton and Hove.

He said: “We are delighted to have brought together what we think is a superb group of people to run and organise this year’s Pride in Brighton and Hove. “We have been negotiating on the future of the event with Brighton and Hove City Council and look forward to its decision.”

A spokesman for Brighton and Hove City Council said that the Stagfleet bid is one of two under consideration. He would not disclose the identity of the second bidder.

He said: “A decision will be made by Councillor Geoffey Bowden, cabinet member for culture recreation and tourism, on March 6.”

The Argus understands that according to the group’s plans the route of the march and the venue for the party in Preston Park will remain unchanged at the event planned for September 1.

Former vice chair of Pride (South East) Nick Beck said that lessons would be learned from previous failures.

He said: “There is no reason the event last year should not have made a profit.

“I am confident that with prudent money management the festival can be a commercial success and will raise money for LGBT causes.

“The business acumen of Mr Deol and Mr Webb is well-proven.”

A major festival has unveiled new plans.

The organiser of Pride in Brighton has launched an information hot- line. Trevor Edwards, director of Pride Brighton and Hove, said information about this year’s festival is available around the clock on 01273 257225.

Wilde Ones International has been appointed as production company for the event in Preston Park on September 1. Tickets will go on sale in April.

Brighton and Hove City Council has given the go-ahead to the com- munity interest company formed by Michael Deol and Robert Webb, the owners of Club Revenge in Old Steine, and James Ledward,
editor of GScene magazine, to organise the event this year.

Mr Edwards said that £1 of theprice of every ticket sold will be ring- fenced and donated directly to the Rainbow Fund to distribute through its grants programme to local LGBT/HIV organisations and chari- ties that provide frontline services to the LGBT community in Brighton and Hove.

He said the organisers want to involve more community groups than ever before.

Dean Parker, boss at Wilde Ones in London said: “We are looking forward to working with Pride and Brighton and Hove City Council this year and will be making a full announcement soon.”

Social web for the long-term

Now that the biggest waves of Buzz hype are hopefully behind us, it’s a good time concentrate what Google Buzz actually is and what it isn’t. I have followed Buzz with great interest and I’ve previously talked about Jaiku, feeds and discussions on the web on general here. I even pushed Plaxo at one point, but they are pretty much dead in the water right now. I was couple of years off and a technology wrong with my prediction of sort-of real-time web in 2008.

buzzwelcome-croppedIn a way I view Google Buzz as a reference platform, like Google Wave Preview, instead of a finished product. Of course, because Buzz is right there in Gmail’s interface, it’s Buzz deserves to get all the critical comments about its launch it got. It could be argued that without exposing it to the larger public at start, it would have been impossible to get all those great ideas to make it better. One interesting thing to note is that most requested features for Buzz are UI-related. However, I’m more interested in what makes Buzz work behind the scenes, because if Google can get the critical mass behind this, things are going to be great.

It was again a sad example of the sorry state of technology blogging when Buzz first hit the web. In that little world that’s so enamored with Twitter, Facebook and status updates, it never occurred to anyone that Google was aiming much higher. One of the worst offenders was the serial-troll Lyons. He was followed with lots of others who came up with as lame puns in their headlines without actually figuring out what they were looking at. Instead we got petty lists of “fails” in Buzz. Yeah, on jovencitas the surface that these Techmeme all-stars barely skim, Buzz might resemble Twitter, but the differences are pretty obvious from the start.

The attention spans are so incredibly short that that they have completely forgotten that even in this age of agile Web 2.0 iterative processes, things take time. This was probably best illustrated by this post, where the author totally oblivious to the lineage of Buzz claimed that

As always, time will tell whether this is a game-changer or just another Jaiku, the Twitter competitor that Google bought but never found a way to leverage.

In their defense, even Ars Technica got it wrong.

The only reason I can come up with why people associated Buzz instantly with Twitter was the simple user interface. Much more interesting comparisons would have been with Friendfeed (which kind of tried to do this in simple way), Yahoo Updates (which kind of tried to do this in a difficult way) or it’s genetical ancestor Jaiku (which kind of did this LBS twitter thing in a pretty nice package a good three years ago).

While I agree that Buzz is a rather odd combination of product/platform/project, I do find it exciting that Google has the resources to just try things. We are so early to this social web thing that if someone pretends that they know what exactly works, they’ll be proven wrong in a fortnight. Sure, I do agree that Google might be forgetting that what people want are applications and not technology (a mistake Nokia keeps on repeating, and one reason why they are so incredibly lost in the technology woods. Or like Yahoo, which just pumps out nice web tech with no apparent apps or revenue streams). Google has the money to experiment and the mindset to test things on a large scale. That takes balls. That’s what the whole world wide web was about in the first place, experimentation. You have to be pretty clueless if you take anything on the internet right now as granted.

Seriously, take a long view here. Even on the internet, you need some time to lay out the groundwork even when you’re working in the application layer. If you think about the 2,5 year timeline between Jaiku’s acquisition and Buzz, there were little hints along the way in many of Google’s products. To be able to have something like Buzz, Google had to first come up with a friend/follow system and a location system. You know like following other people on Google Reader and Google Latitude? The ADD-riddled tech bloggers were pretty hyped about Google Latitude and how it was going to kill Brightkite, Foursquare and other LBS services, but somehow Google Buzz failed to generate a single comparison to these services?

But all this is just technology. What about the revolution that I hope Google can pull with Buzz? What’s the beauty in Google Buzz? You only need to check Google’s API page for Google Buzz and you’ll soon realize that all the stuff behind what makes Google Buzz work are open standards, which enable pretty ground-breaking integrations that could just solve the mess discussion on the internet is right now.

As a sidenote, when tech bloggers complain how they can’t add this and that twitter stream to their Google Buzz timeline or how the tweets are not in real-time and all that, they would only need to look at that API and realize that because Google looking at the whole thing at much higher level, it’s actually the publisher who needs to find a way to enable a thing awkwardly called PubSubHubbub, and in that instant all the content is pretty much real-time. Of course, I have no idea if it is at all feasible to use PubSubHubbub in the scale of Twitter, but the point is that Google is not planning to have custom pipelines to Buzz, but to play with common, open protocols and APIs. Another point is that once your content works with Buzz, it works with any aggregator/social app that has decided to have that same common, open infrastructure.

So, instead of trying to centralize every user, every piece of content to their site, like Facebook and Twitter, Google has had the guts to try and harness all the discussion on the web to their service. It’s going to be a happy day when this post right here and all the discussion and the comment this might generate are all happily syndicated in Buzz.

The open nature of Buzz is not all news to some creatures on the web. On Twitter and Facebook you can follow and be followed by inanimate products and abstract brands and they can have pages and whatnot, but right now, to be able to take part in Buzz you need to have a Google Account and that means that you have to be a natural, real person and you shouldn’t have more than one account. This is pretty bad news to all the “SEOs” and other “internet marketing experts”. It is also excellent news and pretty amazing on this forcing-marketing-down-your-throat in this “social” happy place we call the web 2.0. Simply, that means real people and real feeds that try to integrate the real discussion on the web. All those @’s and #’s? What about real discussion with real threading and real topics? What about a renaissance of long-form personal publishing? (If you didn’t follow any of the previous links, please read this. I’m totally with DeWitt Clinton here).

The trick to make all this work and where Friendfeed and Plaxo failed is critical mass. I’m pretty sure that the guys at Facebook are really looking at Friendfeed again and rethinking what parts they should chop off it instead, because if Google can truly pull this off and make this pipe-dream of semantic and social aggregation nirvana that plumbs everything out of what it can get it social graph on work, Facebook has no other option than to open up and that’s pretty much the end game for them right there.

The technical challenge is really complex and it’s going to take some time until all the pieces are in place. Google has put their thing out in the open and it is now the publishers’ turn to do some back-end changes so that this discussion utopia can get its legs. I’m not expecting the social web to turn on its head in a day, but this is some serious stuff for the long term. The reason why I think Google can pull this off is that Google just needs to show ads on the web to make this worthwhile, Facebook et al. need to monetize every inch of their userbase. Google can, and it is in their advantage, to utilize open systems and not lock people in. And, hey, maybe things don’t pan out. Google has the cash to try something else.