The root cause of the Persian wars was the expansion of Persian empire into Ionia and annexation of Ionian Greek cities into the empire. That led to some discontent, and finally into the Ionian Revolt, the Burning of Sardis etc. At this point, clearly at least some of the Ionian cities resented the Persian rule.

Then, in the (second) Persian war, we know that the Persian army, and especially navy contained Ionian forces. Artemesia of Halicarnassus was one of the prominent naval commanders and consultant of Xerxes. He reportedly praised her for bravery. Also, he is said to have praised the bravery of Ionian navies over the Phoenicians during the battle of Salamis. Here, it seems that Ionian cities were pretty much loyal to Persia.

Then, at the end of second Persian wars, in the Battle of Mycale, Greeks appealed to the loyalty of Ionians, and as a result, they were stripped off their weapons by Persians because of suspicion. At this point (at least by my preliminary research), it's not clear what Ionians felt about Persians, but clearly, Persians didn't trust Ionians as much as they did at the battle of Salamis.

Afterwards, Ionians joined Athens in the Delian League whose primary stated objective was to liberate Ionian cities and take revenge on Persia.

It seems to me that the attitude of Ionians towards Persia changed a couple of times during this time. Was this genuine, or were they simply too helpless to do anything during the Persian rule?

Also, why did Persians (or more specifically, Xerxes) trust Ionians during the second invasion, even though they had revolted and shown resentment in recent past? Similarly, how did mainland Greeks view towards the changing attitudes of Ionians towards Persians? Here, I guess it's relevant that at the eve of the formation of the Delian League, when it was proposed that the Ionians should migrate to some safer place, it was opposed by he Athenians and instead, it was decided that they would help them defend their homeland.

  • 1
    how do you measure the opinion of one people towards another? And even if you were able to do that, how do you do it "exactly"? What does that mean?
    – MCW
    Nov 8, 2016 at 11:45
  • @MarkC.Wallace For the first question: do we have any sources that document opinions of leaders of various cities on this matter. For the second one: I don't mean anything specific by exactly.
    – taninamdar
    Nov 8, 2016 at 12:50
  • The opinions of leadership can be (frequently are) very different from the opinions of the people.
    – MCW
    Nov 8, 2016 at 13:13
  • @MarkC.Wallace I understand. However I think it's irrational to ask for opinions of ordinary people for that era, which is why I ask about the opinions of the leadership. But, if the opinions of ordinary people is also available, then even better.
    – taninamdar
    Nov 8, 2016 at 13:21

1 Answer 1


This probably could occupy a whole essay; pretty sure the only primary reference we have for the opinion of Ionian Greeks (i.e., Greeks literally from Ionia) is Herodotus. If you mean more broadly to include Athenians (who for many purposes are also considered "Ionian"), Athenian mercenaries (such as Xenophon) in the period after the Peloponnesian War had no problem with serving under a Persian.

Obviously, most Ionian leadership prior to the Persian War was anti-Persia (see eg, the Ionian Revolt: "The Persians found the Ionians difficult to rule."), which was a contributing factor to revolting against Persian rule. But, "medizing" was simultaneously something that most Greeks looked down upon but also seemed to have happened frequently enough to have its own term, so under the right circumstances different Ionians aligned themselves with Persia (it's been long enough since I read Herodotus, I can't remember if there are specific examples).

Furthermore, the attitude of all Greeks towards Persia seems to be opportunistic and changed over time. As an example, Sparta was vigorously anti-Persia during the Persian Wars, but 75 years later had no qualms about siding with Persia in the Peloponnesian Wars. As another example, Athenians saw no problems with serving in mercenaries for Persia after their ancestors had fought Persia a century prior.

  • Note: I don't include Athenians in the Ionians. If there's any confusion, I specifically mean the city states that spent some time under Persian rule (which is also tricky given that there was some degree of autonomy, but hopefully clear enough).
    – taninamdar
    Nov 18, 2016 at 20:28

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