From Unity to Civil War: The Fifth-Century Greek Tragedy

From Unity to Civil War: The Fifth-Century Greek Tragedy

(1.094 words)



Begins with historic victory of Greeks over Persians. These victories are celebrated as making Western history possible. The century that follows really shakes the historical imagination of classic Greece. Drama, politics, philosophy and architecture flourished.

However, not long after, at the end of the 4th century, the Greeks begin moving toward Civil War (Peloponnesian War). Athens was in many ways responsible for the defeat of the Persians, but ultimately it falls victim to it’s own hubris and the belief of so much arête (excellence), that they lost the Peloponnesian War to the Spartans.

Thucydides wrote one of the greatest historical books of all time about Athens. He not only told what happened, but also asked how it happened. He wrote a narrative of the Peloponnesian War.


How did the Greeks move from unity and triumph to Civil War so quickly?

The story begins around the beginning of the 5th century just after Cleisthenes finishes democratic reforms. In 499 BC, the Ionians revolt against the Persians.  Athens intervenes with their Navy, the revolt is crushed, and the Persians are furious with the Greeks. Ten years later, an army of 20,000 is dispatched by Darius to Attica and Marathon to defeat the Athenian army and lay siege to Athens. The Greeks marched out

1trial seal21