The Spartans listened breathlessly to his tidings, and promised that they would help the Athenians; but they added, that they would not be able to start until the moon was full, for they thought that they would be beaten unless they set out at a certain time.
The Persians in the mean while were advancing rapidly, so the Athenians started out to meet them with no other help than that of their neighbors the Plataeans. The whole Greek force numbered only ten thousand men, and was under the command of the ten Athenian generals who were each entitled to the leadership for a day in turn.
Among these ten Athenian generals were three remarkable men,Miltiades, Aristides, and Themistocles. They consulted together, hoping to find a plan by which their small army could successfully oppose the Persian host, which was twelve times greater.
At last Miltiades proposed a plan which might succeed, provided there was but one chief, and all obeyed him well. Aristides, who was not only a good man, but also remarkably just and wise, at once saw the importance of such a plan, and offered to give up his day’s command, and to carry out his friend’s orders just as if he were nothing but a common soldier.
The other generals, not wishing to appear less generous than he, also gave up their command to Miltiades, who thus found himself general in chief of the Athenian and Plataean armies. So he speedily made his preparations, and drew up his small force on the plain of Marathon, between the mountains and the sea.
From: H. A. Guerber, The Story of the Greeks; edited for this online publication, by ELLOPOS BLOG