1. Travel
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

Marathon Mysteries

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


The Bottom Line

A fun read and a valuable resource for history-minded visitors and avid runners traveling to Greece.


  • Full-color illustrations, many of them of rare images including ancient Persian sources.
  • A handy timeline of Greek-Persian conflicts puts it all in perspective.


  • For the sun-fun-sand visitors to Greece, it's probably too deep a read.


  • The book is nicely designed and printed on quality glossy paper.
  • The author has an engaging style and is clearly passionate about his subject.
  • It's of particular interest to marathon runners, who will find Anastasi's interpretation of the original run particularly inspiring.

Guide Review - Marathon Mysteries

Marathon runners around the world look back to the fateful day in Ancient Greece when a single runner, Pheidippides or Phidipides, completed an incredible dash to carry news of an unexpected Greek victory over the Persians. It's from the Battle of Marathon that we got the concept of a "Marathon Race", only the ancient model was of a single runner.

Author Paul Anastasi thinks that image is wrong - and that the ancient "Marathon" was much closer to the reality of today's massive races comprising thousands of individuals.

That's the "Marathon Mystery" which is probably of most interest to the general public, but Anastasi goes much further in re-examining the Battle of Marathon and related events. He also shares rare photos of pertinent sites which are off-limits to tourists. In all, Anastasi addresses "The Eleven Mysteries", touching on where the remains of the massacred Persians now lie, how the date of the battle was calculated,

Anastasi doesn't think much of the famed Spartans - it's clear he waves the Athenian banner, disparaging their delay going to the aid of the Athenians because of, as he says, "the purportedly important festival of Apollo Karneia" and supposed the Spartan desire to wait for a full moon. But fans of recent portrayals of King Leonidas and the Battle of Thermopylae in films such as "The 300" will still find plenty of new details about the Persian enemy to fill out the story.

Anastasi ends with a rallying cry to commemorate the many key events in ancient Greek history which are seeing 2500th anniversaries this decade - the Marathon itself, which just celebrated its 2500th, Thermopylae, and the upcoming anniversary of the Naval Battle of Salamis. For a traveler to Greece who is a history buff, there may be no better time to go, and Anastasi's book makes a fascinating and provocative companion to the sites.

Marathon Mysteries

ISBN: 9789609442008
Published: 2009
Format: 6"x9" Trade Paperback
317 pgs
Illustrations: B&W and Color Illustrations and Maps
Copies can be found at P. Kyriakides bookstores, the HQs of which are at 62 Mitropoleos Street in Athens. For international ordering information, contact Mrs. Grillia at g.grillia@pkbooks.gr.

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.