The Persians never fully destroyed Athens because, in truth, theynever entered or even captured the city of Athens. If your askingwhy Persia never destroyed Greece- they did try. The battles ofthermopylae, marathon, and plataea were just a few examples. Theywere crushed when the Greeks banded and united together for thefirst time in their history under the Spartan Banner.

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A realistic view:

The Persians did capture Athens in autumn 480 BCE. They returnedafter wintering in northern Greece and reoccupied it in spring 479BCE.

This was a return visit – Athens had defeated and repelled aPersian punitive expedition ten years earlier at Marathon in 490BCE, so there was a debt still to be paid off: the Athenians hadbeen involved in supporting a Greek revolt in Asia Minor in 498BCE, and in the process burnt the Persian provincial capital ofSardis, including the temples and statues of their gods.

During the Persian advance 18 years after their Sardis raid and 10years after the Marathon success, the Athenians evacuated Athensand joined the other Greek cities to fight off the invasion, asthey could not defend the city. The Persians took the city, lootedit and destroyed the gods in payback for the destroyed Sardis gods.They did not destroy the city as it was their aim toincorporate the Greek mainland cities into their empire, not todestroy them, so they did not engage in unnecessarydestruction. They also used the houses as accommodationfor their army in both 480 BCE and on their return in 479 BCE.

Interestingly, the broken Athenian statues were rediscovered byarchaeologists in 1923 CE in a ravine beside the Acropolis. Whenthe Athenians returned after the Persians withdrew, they didn’tknow what to do with the broken gods, so they stashed them in theravine to wait for instructions from the gods. In time, they wereforgotton and covered with debris and lay there for over twothousand years. Their discovery also shattered the idea that Greekstatues were pristine marble. They were covered in gaudy paint -the Greeks lived in a riot of colour – their statues and buildingswere painted reds and blues. Our buildings today with Greek-stylestone facades and columns which people imagine are the same as theGreeks used are very dull compared to the originators’ tastes. Andthe Romans copied the colours too.

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