Marathon (Demotic Greek: Μαραθώνας, Marathónas; Attic/Katharevousa: Μαραθών, Marathṓn) is a town in Greece and the site of the Battle of Marathon in 490 BCE, in which the heavily outnumbered Athenian army defeated the Persians.
Legend has it that Pheidippides, a Greek herald at the battle, was sent running from Marathon to Athens to announce the victory, which is how the marathon running race was conceived in modern times.
Today it is part of East Attica regional unit, in the outskirts of Athens and a popular resort town and center of agriculture.
The name “Marathon” (Μαραθών) comes from the herb fennel, called marathon (μάραθον) or marathos (μάραθος) in Ancient Greek,so Marathon literally means “a place full of fennel”. It is believed that the town was originally named so because of an abundance of fennel plants in the area.
In ancient times, Marathon (Ancient Greek: Μαραθών) occupied a small plain in the northeast of ancient Attica, which contained four places, Marathon, Probalinthus, Tricorythus, and Oenoe, which originally formed the Tetrapolis, one of the 12 districts into which Attica was divided before the time of Theseus.
Here Xuthus, who married the daughter of Erechtheus, is said to have reigned; and here the Heracleidae took refuge when driven out of Peloponnesus, and defeated Eurystheus. The Marathonii claimed to be the first people in Greece who paid divine honours to Heracles, who possessed a sanctuary in the plain.
Marathon is also celebrated in the legends of Theseus, who conquered the ferocious bull, which used to devastate the plain.
Marathon is mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey in a way that implies that it was then a place of importance.
In mythology, its name was derived from an eponymous hero Marathon, who is described by Pausanias as a son of Epopeus, king of Sicyon, who fled into Attica in consequence of the cruelty of his father
Plutarch calls him an Arcadian, who accompanied the Dioscuri in their expedition into Attica, and voluntarily devoted himself to death before the battle.