After the Spartans were attacked by the Messenians, they were alarmed at how weak they were and decided to become a military state. This means that they would devote their lives, family, and children to making Sparta strong and to have a military. Instead of having a balance of military training and the arts like Athens, Sparta and its people devoted themselves to specialize in military skills and become a strong and powerful military state.
Athens was going through power struggles between the rich and poor, and decided to have a reform. This reform came at a good time for the city-state, and decided to introduce a democracy. A democracy is rule by the people. This allowed for the Athenian people to agree on more things and on different issues, and led to them continuing to be a successful city state.
This war was between the Greeks and the Persian Empire. At first, only the wealthy could fight in the war because the common people could not afford the bronze weapons. Eventually they were changed to iron, which was cheaper and stronger, and the commoners were able to fight and help contribute in the war.
After Athens won the battle, their city stood defenseless to an attack. It needed to be warned that in case of an attack on the city, not to give it up without a fight. Army leaders chose a young runner named Pheidippides to run back to Athens to deliver the news. He ran 26.2 miles to Athens from Marathon to warn the Athenians, and died shortly after due to exhaustion. Due to Pheidippides run, the city of Athens was prepared for a Persian attack, and the Persians retreated upon seeing this. Today, we get the "Marathon," the 26.2 mile run, after the run that Pheidippides ran to help warn the Athenians about a Persian attack.
This battle began in Ionia on the coast of Anatolia. The Greeks had been settled there, but the Persian conquered this area. The Ionian Greeks then revolted and Athens went to help. They sent soldiers and ships to help the Ionian Greeks in the battle. A Persian fleet carrying 25,000 men sailed across the Agean Sea to a place called Marathon to battle the Greeks. The Athenians were badly outnumbered, with only 10,000 men, but were arranged in neat phalanxes. Even though they were outnumbered, through their great strategy and phalanxes, the Greeks were able to defeat the Persians, and only have fewer than 200 casualties, as opposed to the Persians, who had more than 6,000 casualties.
Darius the Great's son and successor, Xerxes, tried to seek revenge on Athens ten years after Persia's crushing defeat. He assembled an enormous invasion force to crush Athens, and Greece was greatly divided at the time. When Xerxes and his army went to invade, 7,000 Greeks and 300 Spartans blocked the entrance to a narrow mountain pass at Thermopylae. The Persian leader thought that he would easily be able to push through the Greek soldiers, but instead faced much difficulty and the Greeks held them off for days. Eventually, the Greeks moved the war to the sea, where they were very skilled. From there, they were able to be victorious over the Persians once again.
After the end of the Persian Wars, Athens enters a time referred to as the Golden Age. The Athenians experience growth in both intellectual and artistic learning, and advanced in things such as drama, sculpture, poetry, philosophy, architecture, and science. This was a time of growth and advancement in Athens, and the things that came out of this time still continue to inspire people today.
After the Persian Wars, Greek city-states formed the Delian League, an alliance named after Delos, the island in the Aegean Sea where it had its headquarters. The members of the league pressed the war against Persia several years after the war ended. They did this to dive the Persians from the surrounding Greek territories, to end the treat of future attacks. Durning the 470s, Athens became the leader of the Delian League.
After the war, the Athenians lost confidence in a democratic government because it led them into war in a way, and began to question their values. The Greeks had special thinkers called philosophers, who introduced and questioned the Greeks values. Three of the most well know philosophers are Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. These philosophers helped the Greeks reform their ideals and gain new values to become more successful.
Under the ruling of Pericles, a skillful politician, inspiring speaker, and respected general, the government of Athens was strengthened. A direct democracy was introduced during this time, which is a form of government in which the citizens rule directly and not through representatives. This kind of government helped the people make decisions that would work best for them and the government, and to be treated fairly and equally.
Athens grew in wealth and power, and also in hostility. Sparta and Athens had been fighting, but war was officially declared by Sparta in 431 B.C. Athens had a stronger navy, as opposed to Sparta, which had a stronger army, and tried to avoid land battles with them. A strategy of Pericles was to try to attack Sparta and its allies from the sea if the opportunity presented itself. But eventually, the Spartans marched into Athenian territory and burned all their food supply. The Athenians were fine though, until a plague broke out in the city and killed an estimated 1/3 of the population. The Athenian military was greatly weakened by this, and in 421 B.C., a truce was signed by both Athens and Sparta, ending the war.
In following his diseased father's plan, Alexander led 35,000 soldiers into Anatolia to fight the Persians. An army of 40,000 Persians came to defend it, and they met at the Granicus River. Alexander led the attack, and defeated the Persians in the war.