All History-Condensed Version

5th Century Greece History

500-Persian War begins in the Asia minor
  • The Persian War began with the Ionian Revolt
    • Persia was trying to broaden its empire and started with the area occupied by the Ionians
  • Greece sided with the Ionians and the rivalry between Persia and Greece began

    490-The Persians invade the Greece mainland

    • This was a war of revenge against the Greeks for "daring to stop the Persians' imperial advance"
    • Darius became the Persian leader
      • his fleet had first been sent to conquer some nearby islands and were then ordered to move on to Athens
    • Miltiades soon became the Athenian general
      • heard about the Persian plan
    • An Athenian surprise attack drove the Persians back with heavy losses

    Battle of Marathon

    • Persia struck back with large forces
    • The Greeks (Athenians and Plataeans) were outnumbered
    • Surprisingly, the Greeks defeated the Persian force and captured seven ships
      • The Greeks explained the victory as an outcome of their strong nationalism

    480-Persians under Xerxes invade Greece

    • Xerxes was Darius's son and the new king of Persia
      • invaded Greece at the Sardis of Asia Minor
      • Possessed and used 60,000 men and 1200 ships, "the largest invasion force the world had yet seen"
      • His best soldiers were called the "10,000 Immortals"
      • His foot soldiers were armed with spears, and he also possessed great archers
      • All of his empire were required to send him men to fight in the war
    • His men marched into the narrow channel which divides Asia Minor from Europe
    • The Greeks chose to defend:
      • Their land at Thermopylae
      • The sea at Artemesium
    • Both were losses for the Greeks, but bought time

    479-Battle at Salamis

    • The Greeks had recently found silver mines and under the Greek admiral Themistocles, used the new found wealth to build warships
      • By the beginning of the war they possessed 200 ships
    • At the battle at Salamis he greatly outsmarted Xerxes' fleet commanders
      • To stop army he made a wooden wall of ships at the isthmus
      • Xerxes found Athens empty and burned it to the ground
      • Themistocles sent a servant to tell Xerxes she was a traitor, and relay that:
        • There was a Greek escape at dawn and that Xerxes should send his main fleet across the Bay to catch them
      • Following this advice, the Persians entered the Bay at a bad angle and got jammed together, making it impossible to fight back well
    • The outcome was a Greek victory, with the Persian fleet almost completely destroyed

    Battle at Plataea

    • Right after the Battle at Salamis, the Spartans, lead by their king, Pausanias defeated what remained of the Persian army
    • The Persians were finally driven off Greek soil and Greek independence was gained 

    477- Aristides forms Delian League

    • Athens assumed the presidency of the Delian League
    • Greece soon became aggressive economically, politically, and militarily and quickly grew very powerful
    • The main purpose of the league was to keep the Persians away from Greek lands
    • Each country in their empire was required to give money to fulfill this goal

    451-Athens and Sparta sign 5 yr. Treaty

    • There were earlier troubles between the two:
      • In 464, during the Hevolt revolt, the Spartans had called for help but then sent the Athenians home
      • In 449, Athens allied with Spartan enemies
      • In 433, the Delian League was transferred to Athens
        • Both Athens and Sparta were part of Greece and wanted to hold the head of the Delian League
        • Because of the move, decisions of the league were now made largely by Athens
    • These sources and others relay that the treaty was probably signed to delay the inevitable conflict

    449- Persia and Athens sign peace treaty

    • This treaty ended warfare which had been existing between the two for more than 40 years

    446-Athens and Sparta sign 30 Years Peace

    • Athens acknowledged that Sparta was getting dangerously powerful
    • Panicking, they negotiated

    431-Pelopennesian war

    • This war was the climax of the rivalry between Athens and Sparta
    • The Athenian leader was Pericles
    • The Spartans had the superior army so the Athenians avoided land battles and relied instead on control of the sea
    • The Spartan strategy was to invade yearly, encouraging Athenians to rebel
    • During the first battle, a plague removed 1/4 of the Athenian population and caused Pericles' death
    • Next, the Spartan army invaded Attica, hoping to incite Athenian subjects to rebel, it was unsuccessful
    • Athens retaliated by raiding the Peloponnesian coast, to retain control of the sea, this too was unsuccessful

    421-Peace of Nicias

    • The Peace of Nicias was signed between Athens and Sparta, but failed to stop the war
      • Neither side liked what they got with the treaty so it was quickly broken


    • Athens intervened in a Sicilian civil war to help out Sicily, an ally
    • A surprise attack by the Persians caused devastating results for Athens

    404-Pelopennesian war ends

    • Sparta became a great naval power and gradually drove Athens from the sea
      • Sparta now had Persian financial aid for their fleet
      • Now they outdid Athens with both their army and navy
    • Under siege, Athens finally surrendered and agreed to the destruction of its fortifications and gave up their navy and empire
    • The Thirty Tyrants took charge in Athens
    • Sparta becomes the acknowledged leader of the Greek world

    403-Democracy is restored

    • Sparta could not govern the empire and retain its conservatism
      • tax money and tribute poured in as wealth and factionalism broke Sparta apart
    • The Thirty Tyrants are ousted and the Athenian Democracy takes its place again