Athens is an important city of Greece. Unlike Sparta, its population were mainly inhabited by farmers, poets and sculptors. After the Battle of Marathon, Themistocles gained political influence there. During the arrival of the Persians, there was a debate in the forum and Themistocles argued about uniting Greece.
After the massacre of the 300 Spartans under King Leonidas I and the Battle of Artemisium, Xerxes reached Athens and burned it to the ground. Artemisia argued with him about Themistocles. Ephialtes arrived informing of the Greek fleet gathering at Salamis. Before leaving, Artemisia states that razing Athens simply destroyed the only thing of value in Greece