Circa 479 - 323 B.C.
The end of the Persian Wars marked the beginning of the Classical period.
In this period Athens reached its greatest political and cultural heights:
the full development of the democratic system of government under the Athenian
statesman Pericles; the building of the Parthenon on the Acropolis; the creation
of the tragedies of Sophocles, Aeschylus and Euripides; and the founding of
the philosophical schools of Socrates and Plato.
In the late 5th century, the Peloponnesian Wars between Athens and Sparta
caused turmoil throughout the Greek world. After the surrender of the Athenians,
democracy was restored. Meanwhile, in Sicily and Italy a conflict was being
played out between the Carthaginians and the Greeks of the region. By the
end of the 5th century the Carthaginians and their main adversary, the Syracusans,
arrived at a truce.
During the 4th century Athens, Sparta and Thebes vied for political dominance
of Greece. Peace was finally established when Sparta, backed by Persia, won
control. In the second half of the 4th century, a divided Greece and the decline
of the polis gave rise to the powerful Macedonian state under Philip II and
his son, Alexander the Great. After bringing all of the eastern world to the
continent of India under his control, Alexander died in Babylon at the age
of 32 (323 BC). By the time of his death Hellenism had reached much of the
known world and the Classical period was over.
||Attic Red Figure Kylix ca. 460 BC
By the Painter of Bologna 417
This drinking vessel bears a scene of a young Athenian saluting a head
of Hermes on a pillar. Hermes´ kerykeion, or herald´s staff,
appears on the shaft of the herm and a dedicatory wreath adorns the arm
H. 8.6; Dia. 22.0 cm. Photo by Maria Daniels for the Perseus Project (66k)
© Copyright 2002