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Diary of Xerxes' campaign


Corinthian helmet. British Museum, London (Britain). Photo Marco Prins.
Corinthian helmet (BritishMuseum)
It is possible to reconstruct the chronology of the Greek campaign of the Persian king Xerxes, which took place in the summer of 480 BCE, from the seventh, eighth and ninth book of The Histories by the Greek researcher Herodotus of Halicarnassus. That his narrative was, from a chronological point of view, consistent, was already known at the beginning of the twentieth century, but the problem remains how to fit the events described by Herodotus into our own calendar.

Several attempts have been made. The reconstruction below is based on an article by Kenneth Sacks, "Herodotus and the Dating of the Battle of Thermopylae", which has been published in the Classical Quarterly ns. 26 (1976) pages 232-248. The topography of the advance of the Persian army is higly conjectural.

For a different view, see C. Hignett, Xerxes' Invasion of Greece (1963 Oxford), pages 379-385 and 448-457.

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Persian navy

Greek navy

 

Persian army

Greek army

Reaches Therma
 
August 1-14
Reaches Therma
 
Xerxes to Tempe
To Artemisium
August 14-29
Road building
To Thermopylae
At Therma
Inactive
August 30
Leaves Therma; through Macedonia
Inactive
At Therma
Inactive
August 31
Through Macedonia  
Inactive
At Therma
Inactive
September 1
Into Pieria
Inactive
At Therma
Inactive
September 2
Through Pieria
Inactive
At Therma
Inactive
September 3
Through Pieria
Inactive
At Therma
Inactive
September 4
Through Tempe
Inactive
At Therma
Inactive
September 5
Into Thessaly (Larissa)
Inactive
At Therma
Inactive
September 6
Through Thessaly
Inactive
At Therma
Inactive
September 7
Through Thessaly
Inactive
At Therma; ten ships to Skiathos
Three ships lost at Skiathos
 September 8
Into Achaea
Inactive
At Therma
Hides in Euripus
September 9
Through Achaea (along Halos)
Inactive
Leaves Therma, reaches Kasthanaia
In hiding
September 10; Carneia festival in Sparta
Through Achaea, into Malis
Inactive
Along Magnesia
In hiding
September 11; Carneia festival in Sparta
Through Malis
Inactive
Storm at Cape Squid
In hiding
 September 12; Carneia festival in Sparta
Reaches Thermopylae
Inactive
Storm at Cape Squid
To Artemisium
September 13; Carneia festival in Sparta
Inactive
Inactive
Storm at Cape Squid
Inactive
September 14; Carneia festival in Sparta
Inactive
Inactive
Reaches Aphetae
Seizes 15 Persian ships
September 15; Olympic games; Carneia festival
Inactive
Inactive
200 ships detached
Inactive
September 16; Olympic games; Carneia festival
Inactive
Inactive
Attacked by Greeks
Seizes 30 Persian ships
September 17; Olympic games; Carneia festival
First day of fighting
First day of fighting
200 ships lost off Euboea
 Receives reinforcements
 Full moon (before dawn)
   
Attacked by Greeks
Destroys Cilician ships
September 18; Olympic games; Carneia festival
Second day of fighting
Second day of fighting
 
 
 
Circumvention
 
Attacks Greeks
Attacked by Persians
September 19
Victory at Thermopylae
Defeat at Thermopylae
 
Leaves Artemisium
     
To Oreus
Past Chalkis
September 20
Burial of the dead
-
To Thermopylae & back
Reaches Salamis
September 21
Meeting at Thermopylae
To Skiron's Road
At Oreus
Inactive
September 22
Leaves Thermopylae
Destroys Skiron's road
At Oreus
Inactive
September 23
Though Phocis
Works on Isthmus wall
At Oreus
Inactive
September 24
Though Boeotia
Works on Isthmus wall
At Oreus
Inactive
September 25
Though Boeotia
Works on Isthmus wall
Leaves Oreus
Inactive
September 26
Though Boeotia
Works on Isthmus wall
Passes Chalkis
First meeting of admirals
September 27
Reaches Athens
Works on Isthmus wall
 
Second meeting
     
Reaches Phalerum
Inactive
September 28
Takes acropolis
Works on Isthmus wall
 
Themistocles' strategem
     
Defeated at Salamis
Defeats Persians
September 29
Occupies coast at Eleusis
Works on Isthmus wall
Building mole
Inactive
September 30
Ravages Megara
Works on Isthmus wall
Building mole
Inactive
October 1
Threatens Isthmus
Works on Isthmus wall
Building mole
Inactive
October 2; partial solar eclipse in the afternoon
Threatens Isthmus
Cleombrotus sacrifices
Building mole
Inactive
October 3
Withdraws to Attica
Inactive
Meeting at Phalerum
Inactive
October 4
Meeting at Phalerum
Inactive
Leaves Phalerum
       
To Hellespont
Pursues Persians
October 5
Leaves Attica
Disbanded
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