Aristagoras played an incredibly significant role in the Ionian revolt. Through his original participation in the Persian’s attempt to conquer Naxos and the differing perspectives from both ancient and modern historians about his involvement in the Revolt, he was a key participant in its commencement and the events that followed.
Control of the Ionian Greeks was originally given to tyrants such as Histiaeus, who was the tyrant of Miletus. Despite Histiaeus’ revered position, King Darius I believed him to be too greedy and he was deported back to Susa, where he was kept under palace detention which led to Aristagoras, who was the son in law of Histiaeus to be given the position as the new tyrant of Miletus; the first of many actions that led to his extensive involvement in the Ionian Revolt.
Aristagoras was approached by aristocratic oligarchs to aid in the putting down of an uprising in Naxos, as it was suffering from significant internal strife. Aristagoras realised that if he could achieve this he would have obtained a major stepping stone into the Mediterranean for the Persian Empire and would then in turn be greatly rewarded. In an effort to attain what would be his ultimate accomplishment he sought help from the Persian Artaphernes, but despite this the following attacks on Naxos were disastrous as the Naxians were forewarned about the coming invasion.
Realising the extent of his failure, Aristagoras feared the anger of the Persians and switched his allegiance from the Persian Empire to the Ionian Greeks. He first approached Sparta in an attempt to gain their commitment to the revolt but was immediately rejected. After this he managed to gain the aid of Athens, who sent twenty ships full of men and Eretria, who sent five.  
Athenian, Eretrian and Ionian forces marched on Sardis and set fire to the temples and even though this was not their intention, the town was subsequently burnt to the ground and destroyed. This quickly came to the attention of King...