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 VI
THE RISE OF THE ATHENIAN EMPIRE (478-439)

SECTIONS: ARCHITECTURE AND SCULPTURE: AESCHYLUS, HERODOTUS, PHILOSOPHERS OF THE PERIOD

THE capture of Sestos is, as we have seen, the last event recorded by Herodotus in his history of the Persian invasions; but Persia continued to hold important posts in Thrace,1 and, although after Mycale the Ionian and Aeolian cities regained autonomy, the barbarian was still at their gates; nor was it unlikely that Xerxes would attempt to revenge himself on Greece itself. The need for combined action was therefore strongly felt. Hitherto Sparta had been regarded as leader. Although the victories of Marathon and Salamis had been due mainly to Athens, and although her ships formed the bulk of the Greek fleet, the allies had hitherto refused to submit to Athenian leadership, and the supreme command both on land and on the sea had been held by Spartans--by Eurybiadas at Salamis, by Pausanias at Plataea, and by Leotychidas at Mycale. How the command of the allied fleet was acquired by Athens, and how she made herself the head of a great anti-Persian confederacy, and how out of this leadership (ἡγεμονία) in less than twenty years she developed an empire (ἀρχὴ) which extended its victories even to Cyprus and Egyptian Memphis, has been recounted by many writers; and although this period lies between those described in detail by Herodotus and by Thucydides, enough is told by both, especially by Thucydides,2 to render possible a fairly satisfactory reconstruction.

____________________
1
Doriscus was evidently still Persian when Herodotus wrote vii. 106-107.
2
Thuc. i. 89sq. and the speech of the Athenians in i. 74. Other sources are inscriptions, Plutarch, and Nepos.

-283-

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