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Pheidippides!

You say that Fi-DIP-uh-deez.

If you or your kids don’t know who this guy is, then I have just the book for you!

Author Susuan Reynolds says that she got the inspiration for this story after running her first marathon.  The First Marathon:  The Legend of Pheidippides tells the story of a battle between the Greeks and Persians and how we get the word and event marathon.  Pheidippides (yes I do have to keep checking to make sure I’m spelling it correctly!) was a Athenian soldier, but due to his good running skills, he was often used as a herald to deliver messages between generals.  Runners were used instead of horses because the Greek landscape was often too rocky for horses.

The Persians invaded Greece in 490 BC and they landed in the Greek city of Marathon.  Pheidippides was tasked with running to Sparta to get help from the Spartan army.  He had to run 140 miles from Athens to Sparta.  Then, after hearing that the Spartans would not come to help for a while, he had to run all the way back to Athens.  The Athenian army marched to Marathon to defend themselves against the Persians.  The Persians were caught off guard and lost the battle.

Pheidippides was asked to run from Marathon to Athens to tell the news of the battle.  The story goes that soon after he had delivered his message, he breathed his last breath.

Reynolds does a fantastic job bringing this legend to life.  Keep in mind that this story is a legend, so while based on factual events, the details are muddy.

Even if you’re not homeschooling or studying Ancient Greece, it’s a fun story to help your child understand how some of our English words have come about and maybe spark an interest in further word root study!  At the end of the book is a more detailed discussion about which parts are fact and fiction, and how the marathon distance has evolved over time.

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