Pearseus: Endgame, the nail-biting (if I do say so myself) conclusion to the Pearseus series, ends not with a whimper, but with a bang. With quite a lot of bangs, in fact, the greatest of which occur during the Battle of Fennel Bay. This is not-so-loosely based on the Battle of Marathon Bay; indeed, fennel is the English name for maratho, the Greek name for the herb that has given its name to Marathon Bay.
As I’ve often said in the past, Marathon Bay is a mere 15-20′ from where I live, so I grew up with the story of the 10,000 Athenians who stood up against an army of 80,000 and yet prevailed – a battle that saved democracy and is considered by many historians to be the cornerstone of Western civilization. Every now and then, my family would visit the Tumulus of the Marathon Warriors; an earth mound erected in 490 BC on the spot where the battle reached its climax. It was placed over the ash and burnt bones from the funeral pyres.
As appropriate for a battle this important, there are a number of myths surrounding it. Two of these were mention by Herodotus and have found their way in Endgame. They both concern unlikely weapons we would nowadays identify as an area denial weapon and a dazzler.
Pan and his area denial weapon
According to Herodotus, before they left the city, the Athenian generals sent off a message to Sparta. The messenger was an Athenian named Pheidippides, a professional long-distance runner (whose story inspired the modern-day Marathon run). According to the account he gave the Athenians on his return, Pheidippides met the god Pan on Mount Parthenium, above Tegea. Pan, he said, called him by name and told him to ask the Athenians why they paid him no attention, in spite of his friendliness towards them and the fact that he had often been useful to them in the past and would be so again in the future.
True to his word, Pan appeared in battle and at a crucial moment instilled the Persians with his own brand of fear, the mindless, frenzied fear that bore his name: “panic“. To honor his help, the Athenians built a shrine to Pan under the Acropolis and held an annual ceremony with a torch-race and sacrifices to court his protection.
In Endgame, the same effect is achieved through an active area denial sonic weapon. According to New World War, a variety of high powered sonic weapons (SW) exist spanning the infrasonic, ultrasonic, and audible ranges. These weapons produce both psychological and physical effects. They include infrasonic generators – highly directional devices which can cause negative emotions such as fear, anxiety, or depression, as well as biological symptoms like nausea, vomiting, organ damage, burns, or death—depending on the frequency and power level.
A plow by any other name
Plutarch mentions that the Athenians saw in the battle a man of rustic appearance and dress. Having slaughtered many of the foreigners with a plow he was seen no more after the engagement. Herodotus confirms this account, adding that Echetlaeus’s plow emitted a blinding flash that terrorized the Persians. He was accidentally responsible for an Athenian, Epizilus, going blind when he saw Echetlaeus use his plow. When the Athenians made inquiries at the oracle, the god merely ordered them to honor Echetlaeus (“he of the Plough-tail”) as a hero.
Although recently Echetlaeus’s plow has been likened to a machine gun, I’ve introduced in Endgame a hand-held laser weapon instead. These Dazzlers, as they are called, are already operational and have been used in combat since the 80s. Dazzlers can emit visible light against humans causing temporary blindness. The emitters are usually lasers, making what is termed a laser dazzler. Most of the contemporary systems are man-portable and operate in the green area of the spectrum, as this makes them less harmful to human eyes. Sadly for Epizilus, Echethlaus didn’t seem to be quite as sensitive, and poor Epizilus never did regain his eyesight.
You can find out more about the Battle of Marathon on Ancient Greek Battles.