The Persian Wars
In the 5th century BC the vast Persian Empire attempted to conquer Greece. If the Persians had succeeded, they would have set up local tyrants, called satraps, to rule Greece and would have crushed the first stirrings of democracy in Europe. The survival of Greek culture and political ideals depended on the ability of the small, disunited Greek city-states to band together and defend themselves against Persia's overwhelming strength. The struggle, known in Western history as the Persian Wars, or Greco-Persian Wars, lasted 20 years--from 499 to 479 BC.