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The Giant of Marathon


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La battaglia di Maratona (English version: The Giant of Marathon) is a 1959 Italy sword and sandal film, loosely based on the Battle of Marathon. It was directed by Jacques Tourneur and Mario Bava (Bava had to step in to complete the film). It starred Steve Reeves as Pheidippides (Phillipides in the film).


This classical peplum tells a fictitious story set in 490 BC, the time of the Medic Wars during which Persian armies sweep the Ancient world. Having brought home to Athens the Olympic victor's laurel crown, Philippides joins as commander of the Sacred Guard, which is expected to defend the city-state's liberty, a year after the expulsion of the tyrant Hippias.
Athenian supporters of Hippias conspire, hoping to side Philippides by marriage to Theocrites' expensive servant Charis, and thus neutralize the guard. She fails to seduce him, as his heart is already taken by a young girl before the learns her name is Andromeda, daughter of Creuso.
Everything personal is likely to be put on hold when the news breaks that the vast army of Darius, the Persian King of Kings, is marching on Greece, hoping that its internal division will make its conquest a walk-over. Theocrites instructs Miltiades to hold back the sacred guard to defend the temple of Pallas after a likely defeat, and proposes instead to negotiate terms with Darius, but is told an alliance with Sparta could save the Hellenic nation.
Philippides makes the journey and survives a fiendish attempt on his life by conspirators; he returns with Sparta's engagement during the Persian attack in far greater numbers on Militiades valiant troops. Charis, left for dead after overhearing Darius's orders, reaches the camp to tell that the Persian fleet, now commanded by the traitor Theocrites, is heading for the Piraeus to take Athens. Miltiades sends Philippides ahead to hold out with the sacred guard until his hopefully victorious troops arrive, and after his perilous journey back they do a great job, proving that superior athletes can do better than traditional naval ramming tactics.


  • Steve Reeves as Phillipides (Phidippides)
  • Mylène Demongeot as Andromeda, Creuso's daughter
  • Sergio Fantoni as Theocritus
  • Daniela Rocca as Charis
  • Philippe Hersent as Callimachus (polemarch)
  • Alberto Lupo as Miltiades
  • Daniele Vargas as Darius I, King of Persia
  • Miranda Campa as Andromeda's handmaid
  • Gianni Loti as Teucro
  • Anita Todesco as Andromeda's friend
  • Ivo Garrani as Creuso
  • Sergio Ciani as Euros
  • Franco Fantasia
  • Carlo Lombardi (actor)
  • Ignazio Balsamo
  • Gian Paolo Rosmino
  • Walter Grant


During the last ten days before the premiere director Mario Bava encountered the challenge to have to reshoot exterior scenes because he discovered in the original material extras smoking cigarettes.

Box Office

The movie was very successful at the box office: according to MGM records the film earned $1,335,000 in the US and Canada and $1.4 million elsewhere resulting in a profit of $429,000.< name="Mannix"/>
  • See also

  • List of films based on military books (pre-1775)

  • Category:1959 films
    Category:Italian films
    Category:French films
    Category:Classical war films
    Category:English-language films
    Category:Films directed by Jacques Tourneur
    Category:Adventure drama films
    Category:Peplum films
    Category:Films set in classical antiquity
    Category:Titanus films

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