Before dawn on Sept. 12, 490 b.c., 10,000 mostly Athenian hoplites formed for an assault on the Persian force assembled before them on the Marathon Plain, nearly 25 miles from Athens. At the sound of a single trumpet, the advance began. Eight men deep on the flanks and four deep in the center, the phalanx of bristling spear points and blazing shields began its slow, inexorable march toward the enemy.
Picking up the pace, first to a fast walk and then to a trot, the Athenian hoplites closed on their enemy at what must have appeared to the waiting Persians a dazzling pace. At 600 yards’ distance the mass of men began to scream their fierce and nerve-shattering battle cry: Alleeee!
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