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January 8, 2002

Martin Thorne ( writes:

It shouldn't have escaped anyone's attention that both the word Marathon and the SPARTAN II commandos are references to ancient Greek history.

Marathon takes its title from the battle of the plains of Marathon, between the armies of Greece under Multiades and an invading Persian force under king Darius I in 490 BC. The Greeks were victorious despite overwhelming odds, and sent the Greek soldier Phidippides to run the 26.2 miles to Athens to announce the victory, which he reportedly did before dying of exhaustion.

Ten years later in 480 BC, the Persian empire once again amassed another force for the invasion of Greece, this time commanded by Darius's heir, king Xerxes. Faced with this threat, the normally hostile Greek and Spartan armies joined forces under Spartan command. The decisive battle occurred near the village of Thermopylae, a name which appears in the Marathon story, and lasted for three days. The Spartans were superior warriors, even against the elite Persian division known as the 'Ten Thousand Immortals', but the combined Spartan/Greek forces were eventually overwhelmed by the sheer size of the Persian army (However, the Greeks where victorious against the Persian army and navy a year later, and soon became the dominant power on the Aegian)

Comparisons could be drawn between the Persian empire and the Covenant, although they would be tenuous at best. The Persian armies employed troops from nations throughout the empire, not unlike the many races that form the Covenant. The Greeks had been facing Persian attacks on their ports and cities for years, and had been largly defeated, not unlike the human empire which is being inexorably devastated by the Covenant navy . The Persians were religious, but with one of the most peaceful religions of the time (Zorastranism: its notable tenets included the forbidding of animal sacrifices and a strict injunction against attempting to convert others), so finding a parallel there would be difficult.

Given that Jason Jones has a well-known love of accounts of historical battles, the references shouldn't be surprising. I'm curious whether or not the name SPARTAN II was picked in order to draw attention to some aspect of Halo's story.

Anyway, I hope most of my history was relatively accurate.

-Martin Thorne

Both historical and Marathon connections are peppered liberally throughout Halo, and I think it fitting that just as Halo is somewhat of a "next generation" of Marathon (in gameplay, anyway-the actual link between the two stories is clouded, but grows clearer every day), the Battle of Thermopylae, discussed heavily in The Fall of Reach and hinted at in Halo, was the "next generation" of the Battle of Marathon.
   On an entirely different note, all apologies for the lack of updates yesterday; we're experiencing some pretty big technical difficulties; we can still update the site, just in a much longer, disjointed way (sort of like going from San Francisco to New York by way of Anchorage). Don't worry though-everything should be worked out soon. Until then...postulate away.

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-Ape Man