Chapter

Introduction

Stephen V. Tracy

in Pericles

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780520256033
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520943629 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520256033.003.0001
Introduction

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The fifth century began with the Persian Wars when the Persians attacked Greece and Athens, first in 490 under Darius and then in 480/79 under his son Xerxes. It ended with the protracted war between the former allies that we refer to as the Peloponnesian War (431–404 B.C.), a war that the Spartans eventually won, ironically, with the aid of the Persians. In the interim between these wars, two interlocking phenomena made Athens a cultural and political power that would influence the rest of Western history: the creation of the Athenian empire and the development of the so-called golden age of Athens under Pericles. Following the defeat of Persia, the Greek city-states formed a defensive alliance, the Delian League. In the late 430s, Sparta and Athens came into direct conflict with one another. Two defeats at sea and political turmoil at home paved the way for Athens' final capitulation, which was secured by the Spartans' blockade of the Piraeus. The blockade ended the naval empire of Athens both symbolically and actually.

Keywords: Athens; Sparta; Pericles; fifth century; Persia; Delian League; Piraeus; Persian Wars; Peloponnesian War; history

Chapter.  5218 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Greek and Roman Archaeology

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