Marathon, a town of Greece, near the E. coast of Attica, about 18 m. N. E. of Athens, near which the Persians under Datis and Ar-taphernes were defeated, in 490 B. C. (Sept. 28 or 29, according to somewhat uncertain computations), by the Greeks under Miltiades. The Persians, having crossed the Aegean and taken Eretria in Eubcea, passed over to Attica, landing on the plain of Marathon; their numbers were about 110,000. To oppose them was an Athenian force of 10,000 heavy-armed infantry and a small body of light-armed troops and attendants. According to Athenian law, there were ten generals, each of whom in turn was entitled to command for a day; but the other generals waived their authority in favor of Miltiades, who thus became sole commander. Having received a reenforcement of 1,000 heavy-armed Platasans, Miltiades resolved to sally from his strong position on the heights and attack the Persians, who were crowded in the plain. So little was an attack anticipated that it was really a surprise. The Greeks advanced in three bodies, a centre and two wings, with a considerable interval between.
Both attacks by the wings were successful, and the enemy was driven to the right and left; but in the centre the heavy masses of the Persians repelled the Athenians, who were forced back for a considerable space. Miltiades then recalled his victorious wings, which fell upon the flanks of the Persian centre; this was speedily broken, and the whole army fled in rout to their ships, which were drawn up on the beach. The Persian loss was 6,400, that of the Greeks only 192. A tumulus, still standing near the modern village of Vrana, which probably occupies the site of the ancient Marathon, marks the burial place of the Greeks who fell in this action. The battle of Marathon is justly considered one of the most important in history, not so much on account of the numbers engaged or the losses incurred, as for its historical results. Had the Athenians been defeated, there was no power capable of resisting the Persian invasion, and Greece must have become a Persian satrapy.
Marathon, a N. county of Wisconsin, bordering on Michigan, and drained by the Wisconsin river and its branches; area, 6,048 sq. m.; pop. in 1870, 5,885. It has a diversified surface, extensive pine forests, and numerous small lakes. The chief productions in 1870 were 35,327 bushels of wheat, 76,482 of oats, 22,164 of potatoes, 8,385 of peas and beans, and 2,843 tons of hay. There were 273 horses, 1,331 milch cows, 2,754 other cattle, 1,482 sheep, and 1,215 swine. Capital, Wausau.