The Greco-Persian Wars start with the revolt in Anatolia. Athens and Eritrea give military support to these Ionian Greek rebels. The Ionian have enough success that they take and burn the regional capital of Sardis. The burning of this regional capital enrages the Persian King, Darius. He swears he will have revenge. He puts down the revolt. Then he sets out to punish Athens and Eritrea.
The first Persian invasion of Europe sees a Persian general capture Thrace and Macedonia. Then things turn bad. The Persians must withdraw to their barracks.
Darius regroups and tries again. This time the army is carried to Europe on ships across the Aegean Sea. The Persians land in northern Greece They attack Eritrea and burn the city. Next they head south toward Athens.
The Athenians call for help from the other Greek poleis. There is not time. The Athenian army marches out alone. They meet the Persians at the Plain of Marathon. There, they do battle.
It is a long, hard-fought battle. The Athenian army stays intact. The Persians cannot push the Athenians back. The Persians cannot break the Athenian battle line. Instead it is the Athenians who break the Persian battle line. The Persian army is defeated. It withdraws
A very unhappy King Darius dies. His son, Xerxes, promises to finish off the Greeks. Xerxes personally leads the second great invasion of Europe. It is a grand campaign with a massive army. All of Persian military might will be thrown at little, pesky Greece
Xerxes takes the Persians into Europe. He enters Greece and starts south. A band of Spartans rushes north to slow the advance of the Persian army. They hold back the entire Persian army in the tiny tight pass at Thermopylae. However they are betrayed. The Persians get behind the Spartans. The Greek Armies retreat. The Spartans refuse to to retreat or to surrender. They continue fighting to the last man.
The Persian advance and defeat a unified Greek army. The Persian victory allows them to go Athens unopposed. The Athenians evacuate the city. When the Persian arrive they sack and burn Athens.
Xerxes on his throne in Athens as he watches his Persian fleet be destroyed by the Greeks just outside Athens' Harbor in the Battle of Salamis.
The Unified Greek Navy defeats the Persian Navy
The Athenians and unified Greeks are not done. The Persian navy tries to smash the Greek unified navy at the Battle of Salamis. It doesn't work. The Greeks destroy the Persian navy.
Then, the unified Greek army attacks and defeats the Persian army. Xerxes has failed just as his father did. He withdraws from Greece, but stays in Thrace. Persians in Thrace are a threat to Greek grain supplies. At this moment in time, the Spartan generals anger the rest of the Greeks. The Spartans go home quoting the wars.
The Athenians take command. They form the Dalian League. It continues fighting the Persians for another 20 years. Finally, the wars fade away. When all out war with Persia returns, it will be the Greeks invading Anatolia under Alexander the Great.