Classical Greece

The Classical era is the time roughly from the Ionian revolts in the year 500 B.C.E. to the campaigns of Alexander the Great in the late fourth century B.C.E. It is the peak of the Greek Polis, the independent city-state based on the Attic example. However, even during this time there are still tyrants and kings, for example in Sparta. Our modern impression of the Classical era is largely shaped by the dominance of Athens, which over a long time represented the mightiest military power in Ancient Greece, fueled by the military victories in the Persian wars. Besides Athens, there were other important centers, such as Thebes, Corinth, Delphi, Sparta, or colonies like Syracuse and Ephesos.

The Persian wars gave rise to two major alliances, the Delian League, headed by Athens, and the Peloponnesian League, headed by Sparta, who struggled for influence over Greece. Despite attempts to divide the territories peacefully, the dispute escalated into the Peloponnesian war in the last third of the fifth century B.C.E. The war should take almost thirty years, at its end Sparta had won the dominance over Greece from Athens. However, both cities were immensely weakened by the conflict, so that other cities were able to now grow their influence and power. The fourth century B.C.E. saw Thebes rise to power, only to be eclipsed by the emerging kingdom of Macedonia. Philip II of Macedonia established the firm dominance of Macedonia over the rest of Greece with his victory at the battle of Chaironeia in 338 B.C.E.

Ionic revolt; the greek Polis under influence of the Persian Archamenids fight agains the Tyranis of the local governors. The cities are among others supported by Athens.

Persian victory over the revolt at Ephesos

Victory at sea at Lade, conquest of Milet and its destruction

Attacks on Naxos and Euböa by sea and destruction of Eretria

Battle of Marathon. An army of Athenians and Plataians lead by Strategos Miltiades and Polemarch Kallimachos defeats the Persians, while the Spartans cannot reach the battlefield in time.

Failed attic campaign lead by Militiades, who is then put in jail. His son Kimon pays of his father's debt, but Militiades dies from his wound suffered at Paros.

Democracy in Athens is strengthened by introducing a lottery for the election of the archon and letting the citizens decide on exile in the Ostracism.

Death of Dareios I.

Fleet-building program of Themistokles

Founding of the Hellenic league at Corinth

Persian advance through Thrace and Macedonia to Greece with the fleet advancing along the coast at the same time.

Battle of Thermophylae under the Spartan king Leonidas, a draw in the naval battle of Kap Artemision, directly followed by the Greek naval victory at Salamis. Athens is nonetheless destroyed by the Persian army.

Battle of Himera, the Greeks in Sicily defeat Carthage.

Battle of Plataiai and naval battle of Mykale destroy the Persian army and its fleet.

Age of Pentekontaetie

Naval battle of Kyme destroys the Etruscan fleet.

Delic-Attic naval league is founded

Naxos revolts agains the naval league

Thasos revolts against the naval league, who turns to Sparta for help. Spartas help is made impossible by the Messenic revolt.

Messenic Revolt

The Spartans send the Athenian contingent back home prematurely leading to the exile of Kinom and an enforcement of anti-Spartan policy in Athens.

Dissolving of the Istmic league

The first Peleponesian war ends with a stronger Athens in a truce. The truce is negotiated by Kimon, who returned from exile and is set to last five years.

Thessaly secedes and can't be defeated by Athens.

An Attic fleet of 200 ships and their crew is destroyed by the Persians in the delta of the Nile.

Attic campaigns in Cyprus and Egypt, which are stopped after the death of Kimon 449.

Peace of Kallia between Athens and Persia, Perikles rises to power in Athens.

30-year truce between Athens and Sparta

2nd Peloponnesian War

Archidamic War, every year, Spartan hoplites under King Archidamos would enter Attic territory and lay siege to Athens, while Athens would conduct quick naval raids on the Peleponnes.

A plague coming from Egypt erupts in Athens, Perikles dies.

The expedition to Sicily by Athens consumes a majority of the resources of the Polis

Attic expedition to central Greece consumes further resources.

Emprisonment of Spartan hoplites, Sparta is ready for negotiations. The politician Kleon prevents the peace.

Battle of Amphipolis, Kleon and the Spartan Brasidias fall in Battle which opens the way for negotiations.

Peace of Nikias is set for 50 years. Various alliances are formed.

Athens sends the largest fleet ever assembled by a Polis against Sicily. The campaign is halted by politic accusations against the general Alkibiades and ends 413 with the destruction of the expedition. Alkebiades flees to Sparta and becomes a consultant.

Fighting between Athens and Sparta re-emerges, Sparta is supported by Persia

A coup brings an Oligarchy to power in Athens

Athens surrenders to Sparta after a number of defeats and loses all political connections

Revolt in Athens agains the 30 Spartan tyrants.

Spartan Campaign against the Persians. Athens, Corinthm Boiotia, and Argos refuse to provide troops or ships.

The above mentioned cities form the Corinthian Alliance against Sparta with financial aid from Persia.

Defeat of the alliance at Nemeabach and Koroneia, naval victory at Knidos.

Peace negotiations fail, because Sparta demands assurance of the independence of every Polis in return for giving up cities in Asia Minor.

New Attic expansion efforts are crushed by an Alliance of Sparta, Persia and Syracuse and Athens surrenders again causing all other members of the alliance to agree to the king's peace or peace of Antalkidas. Afterwards, the Greek cities in Asia Minor once again belong to Persia, as well as Cyprus, while Athens gets the islands Lemnos, Imbros and Skyros and the remaining cities become independent.

A Spartan detachment arrives in Thebes to decide their political course

The Chalkidic league of cities is disbanded by Sparta.

Athens supports Thebes in their coup against the Spartans

Foundation of the second Attic naval League. In its founding documents, the king's peace is constituted, but the Spartan supremacy is attacked.

Thebes defeats Sparta in the battle of Leuktra and take over autonomous Spartan lands.

Sparta, Athens and their Allies join forces against Thebes.

Battle of Mantineia, where all important Poleis are present. However, the result of the battle leads to more confusion, because no one can claim a victory.

Philip II becomes ruler of Macedonia and begins the expansion of his empire.

The cities Byzantion, Chios, Rhodos and Kos secede from the Attic League, who fail to defeat them decisively.

In the "third holy war", Philip II gets involved in Greek affairs as he defeats the Phocians at the side of Thebes, after they had successfully stood their ground against Thebes and Thessaly. Macedonia is granted the Phocian votes in Delphi.

Demosthenes and Hypereides form a coalition of Poleis against Macedonian expansion. Philip promptly attacks the league by laying siege to Byzantion.

The battle of Chaironeia sees the destruction of the mainly Attic and Theban forces.

Almost all Poleis are forced into the League of Corinth and Macedonian military is stationed at all important locations in Greece.

Philipp II. is assasinated.