Ancient Greece: A Sketch of Its Art, Literature & Philosophy Viewed in Connexion with Its External History from Earliest Times to the Age of Alexander the Great

By H. B. Cotterill | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII
THE SPARTAN AND THE THEBAN SUPREMACY (404-362)

SECTIONS: XENOPHON : SICILY AND THE CARTHAGINIANS :
PLATO : SCULPTURE, ARCHITECTURE, AND PAINTING

THE story of the Persian invasions is associated with much that is great in Greek character and much that is interesting in the history of humanity, and the rise and fall of the Athenian Empire deserves study, in spite of many tedious and many revolting details, not only on account of the incomparable skill with which it is depicted by Thucydides, but also because it has many points of contact with the true history of Greece--with the history of that Greece which alone retains any importance for our age. But the period that intervened between the fall of Athens and the rise of the Macedonian power is not of this nature. It offers, indeed, some splendid examples of courage and self-devotion, which we must needs admire, however little we may sympathize with the causes that called them forth; but the endless quarrels and battles and political combinations, details of which, raked together from old authors, compose what is generally called the history of this rather dreary interval, no longer possess for us any appreciable value, except perhaps as an exercise for the memory. I shall, therefore, give only a short summary of the external events of these forty-five years, during which the baneful lust for 'supremacy' ever again reared its head, until a semi-barbaric empire arose against which ancient Hellas, drained of her life-blood by internecine strife, was powerless to stand.

-387-

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