This is the epic story of the Great Persian War of 481-479 BC, the major land and sea Persian invasion of Greece under Xerxes. Starting from the Persian decision to avenge the outrage caused to imperial prestige by the battle of Marathon, this book details the policy, diplomacy and religion as they intermingle with matters of strategy and tactics. It includes detailed coverage of the legendary Battle of Thermopylae, immortalized in literature and film as the ultimate defiant last stand. There is similarly in-depth coverage, in terms of events, tactics, methods and intentions, afforded to the relatively unknown sea battles off Cape Artemisium, only recently dramatized for the Big Screen; a naval engagement that primed the Battle of Salamis. Special attention has been paid to the events following these two battles, leading to the bloody conquest of Athens and the implementation of vengeance by the Persian Empire, which for a brief time stood triumphant, victorious and awesome as never before, but also sowed the seeds of eventual defeat.