The Persian Wars 546 B.C the Persian armies led by Cyrus II conquered the Greek city- states of Ionia in Asia minor.
"I am Cyrus, who founded the empire of the Persians. Grudge me not therefore, this little earth that covers my body." (Inscription on the tomb)
499 B.C. the Ionians revolted against the Persians, but Darius I of Persia defeats them and decides to punish them for revolting.
Marathon Darius’s first try fails due to storms. In 490 B.C. sent fleet directly across the Ægean to Marathon (25 mi. North of Athens). Wait for the Athenians but seeing they are outnumbered 2 to 1, Athens does nothing.
Marathon Athenian foot soldiers are ordered to charge down a hill and attack Persians in the shallow water waiting to board ships. Persians are taken by surprise and defeated losing 6,400 men to only 192 Greek casualties. The Persians withdraw from Greece.
7,000 Greeks led by King Leonidas of Sparta stood firm against the Persians for three days. A Greek traitor showed the enemy a trail where they could attack from behind.
Realizing he would be surrounded, Leonidas sent off most of his troops while he and 300 Spartans fought to the death to buy Themistocles time to carry out his plan.
Themistocles drew the Persian fleet into the strait of Salamis, a narrow body of water between Athens and Salamis, causing the heavy Persian ships to crowd together and be easy targets for the lighter Greek ships.
Daily Life Public buildings were lavish Homes were simple with two main rooms –dining room for entertaining –wool room for spinning for the women Courtyards contained an alter for worship, wash basin, a well, and livestock.
Slaves Mostly were foreigners or prisoners of war Did most of the heavy work such as mining and craft production. Worked as teachers and servants in the home.
Men worked in the morning attended the Assembly or the Gymnasium in the Afternoon
Upper-class Athenian men enjoyed the symposium as a form of recreation. A symposium was a drinking session followed by a banquet. Wives were excluded.
Women Most women spent time at home cooking and making wool cloth. Poor women worked in the open air markets as food sellers and cloth weaver.
Despite restrictions, many Athenian women were able to participate in public life and were able to read and write. Public opinion allowed the greatest freedom in the metic class.
The most famous metic woman was Aspasia who was known for her intelligence and personal charm.
After the Persian Wars, Athens persuaded city-states excluding Sparta to ally against any future attack.
This alliance became known as the Delian League because the treasury was kept on the sacred island of Delos.
Athens began to dominate under Pericles’ rule. Part of the treasury was used to build the Parthenon. Criminal cases were only tried in Athens. Other city-states had to adopt Athenian coinage system. Athens’s trade and political influence grew, transforming Athens into an Empire.
As a result, Sparta and other rival city-states formed their own alliance against Athens.
Conflict (431 - 404) At the beginning of the war, Athens had the superior navy, while Sparta had no navy.
Sparta made a deal with Persia to return Ionia in exchange for gold to build its own fleet.
In 430 B.C. a disastrous plague, probably typhus, weakened Athens losing around 1/3 of its population including Pericles in 429 B.C.
Some Athenians wanted peace while others urged to keep fighting. War continued deadlocked for many years.
Sparta destroyed the Athenean fleet and laid siege to Athens, bringing their surrender in 404 B.C.
Effects of the War There was a decline in population. Land was destroyed. Unemployment was so widespread that many men became mercenaries, or hired soldiers, in the Persian Army. Greece lost their ability to govern themselves.