Marathon is a plain in Greece located in Attica, about 24 miles northeast of Athens. It is also the location of ancient and modern towns of the same name. It is famous for the 490 BCE battle in which a Greek army of mostly Athenians and probably led by Miltiades defeated Persian forces under Datis and Artaphernes. It is estimated that the Persian army was twice as large as the Athenian. Legend is that news of the victory was brought to Athens by the runner Pheidippides, and the achievement is commemorated by the modern marathon race, officially measured as 26 miles, 385 yards.
Works Consulted: Hornblower, Simon and Anthony Spawforth, eds., The Oxford Classical Dictionary, 3rd ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003; Siepmann, Katherine, ed., Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia, 3rd ed., New York: Harper & Row, 1987; Webster's New Geographical Dictionary, Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1988.