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Classical Greece
The Athenian Empire
The Peloponnesian War
Philip of Macedon & Alexander the
The Delian League
• Defeated Persia in 479 BCE & claimed small parts of the coast of
Asia Minor
• Athens proposed an alliance to ward off any future Persian attack –
Sparta opposed
• Aristides organizes the Delian League to defend Greece
– Each state sign a treaty and contribute to maintaining a fleet in the
– Athens provided all officials and commanders
– Treasury and meetings held on island of Delos – Delian League
– Membership soon became manditory
– Lead by Kimon, the league defeats the Persians in 467 BCE and Pericles
leads the liberation of Cyprus shortly after
– A defeat to the Persians in 450 BCE prompts Pericles to move the
treasury to Athens – beginning of the Athenian Empire
Delian League
Pericles & Democracy
• Pericles was the greatest leader of ancient Greece
• Democracy under Pericles
– Every citizen could speak & vote on every piece of
legislation in the Assembly
– Every citizen had an equal chance to hold public office
– Law cases determined by majority vote of citizen
– Introduced pay for serving on the Council of 500,
juries and in various civic offices – allowed even the
poorest to serve
Pericles (495-429 BCE)
“We judge the man who
takes not part in public affairs
a useless, not just a quiet,
“Freedom is the sure
possession of those alone
who have the courage to
defend it.”
“Everyone is equal before the
Athens vs. Sparta
• Sea power
• Governed by radical
• Wealthy trading nation and
• Very progressive in culture,
art & architecture
• Continued to expand its
empire and wealth
• Land power
• Very conservative, oligarchic
• Virtually all wealth
produced by slaves (helots)
• Produced little significant
literature, art or philosophy
• Sought alliances to protect
itself, not expand its
Ancient Sparta
Athens today
The Peloponnesian War: Rivalry
Between Sparta & Athens
• 464 BCE an earthquake destroyed much of Sparta
• This event triggered a massive revolt of the helots
(Spartan slaves from neighbouring Messenia)
• By 462 revolt was so serious Sparta called on the
Athenians, as well as other allies for help
• Kimon (Athenian general) convinced Athens to send
4000 soldiers, but when they arrived they were sent
• Sparta feared the Athenians would support the slaves
• Kimon is later ostracised
The Peloponnesian War: Part 1
• Athens and Sparta had signed a 30 year peace
treaty in 445 BCE
• Athenian Alliance: Delian League
• Spartan Alliance: Peloponnesian League
• Athens excluded Corinth and Megara,
members of the Peloponnesian League, from
trade in the Aegean – triggered Peloponnesian
The Peloponnesian War: Part 2
• Pericles takes measures to defend Athens –
builds 2 long walls from the port of Piraeus so
that food & supplies could be brought into
• Athens was rich and well prepared
• Plague struck in 430 BCE – devastated Athens
& took Pericles
• War lasted 27 years!
The Peloponnesian War: Part 3
• Athens foolishly tries to conquer Syracuse – a
very costly failure
• In 408 Sparta turns to Persia for aid –Persia
supplies Sparta with ships
• In 405 Athens is finally defeated
• 30 tyrants are placed in charge of Athens – reign
of terror for 8 months
• 403 Athens is retaken by exiles favouring
democracy and recovers, but will never be a great
power again
Philip The Great
• After Peloponnesian War, Sparta
tries to dominate Greek citystates - unsuccessful
• Philip of Macedon – king of
Macedonia – held hostage in
Thebes – learned new battle
tactics of Greeks
• Returns to Macedonia and
creates a professional army,
defeating the Greeks in 338 BCE
– unites all Greek states under
single leader
• Philip is assassinated before he
could launch invasion of Persia.
Leadership passes to his son
Alexander the Great
• 20 years old when he assumes
• Tutored by Aristotle for a while
• Had a genius for identifying the
weakness of his enemy
• 334 sets out to conquer Persia
with only 35,000 soldiers
• Conquers the entire Near East
(to India) and much of the
• Dreamed of conquering the
entire world, but died of illness
just before his 33rd birthday
Significance of Alexander: The
Hellenistic Age
• The death of Alexander marks end of the Classical Age
(480-323 BCE) & the beginning of the Hellenistic Age
(323-31 BCE)
• Greek teachers, soldiers, craftsmen, artists, writers
etc… pour into the newly conquered areas
• Greek culture is very attractive, especially to the
educated, and significantly influenced every society it
• Greek language became the language of the educated
class and Greek culture, literature and philosophy
would be hugely influential in much of the Near East
for the next several hundred years
The End
• After Alexander’s death his empire is divided
amongst his generals
– Seleucus takes Asia – establsihes Seleucid dynasty
– Ptolemy takes Egypt and Libya
– Antigonus takes Europe
• Rome would conquer Greece in 146 BCE
• Greek city states would continue to govern
their internal affairs – often democratically