Portal:Military of Greece

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Coat of arms of Greece military variant.svg

The Military of Greece consists of the Hellenic Army, the Hellenic Navy (HN) and the Hellenic Air Force (HAF), with the Ministry of National Defence being the government authority. Greece has around 177,600 active soldiers as well as around 2,000,000 reservists due to the compulsory conscription in Greece.

The military history of Greece stretches back more than 2,500 years. Between 499 BC to 449 BC, the Greek city-states defeated the Persians in the Persian Wars. Towards the end of the century the two major powers, Athens and Sparta, clashed in the Peloponnesian War, which ended in Spartan victory. Around seventy years later, most of Greece was occupied by the Macedonians under the command of King Philip II of Macedon. His son, Alexander the Great, led a Greek army in the conquest of the Persian Empire, reaching as far as India. On Alexander's death, his empire split into many small successor kingdoms, the last of which, Ptolemaic Egypt, became a Roman province in 30 BC after the death of Cleopatra.

The Greeks stayed under Roman control for around 400 years until the division of the Roman Empire, after which they became part of the East Roman or Byzantine Empire, in which Greeks and Greek culture played a dominant role. After the Fourth Crusade took the imperial capital of Constantinople in 1204, Byzantium was fatally weakened, and its lands divided between western ("Latin") principalities and Greek Byzantine successor states. Eventually, most of these were conquered by the emerging Ottoman Empire, which in 1453 took Constantinople. The Greeks lived under Ottoman Turkish rule for around 400 years, until the revolt of 1821. The ensuing Greek War of Independence lasted until 1829, and in 1832 the Kingdom of Greece was founded.

Since then Greece has fought in many wars, among them the Greco-Turkish War of 1897, the First Balkan War, the Second Balkan War, World War I, the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922, World War II, the Korean War and more recently the War in Afghanistan.

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Map Greco-Persian Wars-en.svg

The Greco-Persian Wars or Persian Wars or Medic Wars were a series of conflicts between several Greek city-states and the Persian Empire that started about 500 BC and lasted until 448 BC. The expression "Persian Wars" usually refers to either or both of the two Persian invasions of the Greek mainland in 490 BC and in 480-479 BC; in both cases, the allied Greeks successfully defeated the invasions. Notably not all Greeks fought against the Persians, some were neutral and others were allied with Persia.

What is known today of this conflict is derived primarily from Greek sources (mainly Herodotus), and to a lesser extent some Roman writings. The Persians enter Greek history after they conquered the Lydians and thus the Greek city-states of Ionia that were previously under the Lydians. When in 499 BC an attempt to help restore the aristocrats in Naxos failed, the Ionians rebelled against the Persians. Token aid was sent from the Greek mainland which did not change the final outcome of Persian victory. Mardonius campaigned in 492 BC in Thrace to consolidate Persian power but was stopped by a storm. An amphibious force under Datis and Artaphernes razed Eretria but was defeated in Marathon a few days later by general Miltiades of Athens. Ten years later, in 480 BC, after massive preparation king Xerxes led a huge force to subjugate Greece. A small force under King Leonidas of Sparta caused disproportionate casualties at the Battle of Thermopylae but was defeated on the third day. Athens was sacked and razed by the orders of Xerxes but the Persian fleet was defeated in the battle of Salamis. Xerxes left Mardonius with part of the original force to finish the job and fled to Asia Minor. The next year Mardonius was defeated and killed in the battle of Plataea and the Persian fleet remnant in the battle of Mycale. The Greek fleet sailed to the Hellespont where the Athenians and the newly rebelled Ionians besieged Sestus. (Read more...)

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Greek troops in Smyrna following its occupation by Greece in 1919.

Photo credit: Photograph for Cumhuriyet, source unknown.

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Thrasybulus (Ancient Greek: Θρασύβουλος, brave-willed, Eng. /θræsɪ'bju:ləs/; d. 388 BC) was an Athenian general and democratic leader. In 411 BC, in the wake of an oligarchic coup at Athens, the pro-democracy sailors at Samos elected him as a general, making him a primary leader of the successful democratic resistance to that coup. As general, he was responsible for recalling the controversial nobleman Alcibiades from exile, and the two worked together extensively over the next several years. In 411 and 410, Thrasybulus commanded along with Alcibiades and others at several critical Athenian naval victories.

After Athens' defeat in the Peloponnesian War, Thrasybulus led the democratic resistance to the new oligarchic government, known as the Thirty Tyrants, that the victorious Spartans imposed on Athens. In 404 BC, he commanded a small force of exiles that invaded Attica and, in successive battles, defeated first a Spartan garrison and then the forces of the oligarchics. In the wake of these victories, democracy was re-established at Athens. As a leader of this revived democracy in the 4th century BC, Thrasybulus advocated a policy of resistance to Sparta and sought to restore Athens' imperial power. He was killed in 388 BC while leading an Athenian naval force during the Corinthian War. (Read more...)

Selected quotes

  • Greek: Μολών Λαβέ
  • English: Come and get them.

These famous words where said by King Leonidas I of Sparta at the Battle of Thermopylae when asked by a herald of King Xerxes I of Persia for Leonidas and the Spartans to give up their arms.


Events People
Archaic Greece
Persian Wars
Sicilian Wars and Conflicts of Magna Grecia
First Peloponnesian War
Peloponnesian War
Corinthian War
4th century BC Greek conflicts
Wars of Alexander the Great
Hellenistic Greece
Pyrrhic War
Byzantine Greece
Ottoman Greece
Greek War of Independence
Balkan Wars
Greco-Turkish Conflicts

World War I and aftermath
World War II and aftermath

Athens and the Delian League




Later leaders

Byzantine leaders

Greek War of Independence

Modern Greece

Units and formations Weapons and technology


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