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The Timeline of Ancient Greece

Early Greek History

  • 545 BC: The Greek city-states in Asia Minor fall under Persian dominion
  • 511/510 BC: The last Athenian tyrant Hippias is expelled with the help of Sparta; Athens becomes a democracy
  • 507 BC: Alliance between Athens and Sparta; inner-political conflicts between Cleisthenes and Isagoras

The Ionian Revolt (500/499 – 494 BC)

  • The city-states Athens and Eretria support a rebellion of Ionian city-states against the Persians
  • The Ionian Revolt ends in 494 BC with a Persian victory; Athens & Eretria are now a target for Persian retaliation

The Greco-Persian Wars (490 – 479 BC)

  • 492 BC: Macedonia and Thrace fall under Persian control
  • 490 BC: Persian attack on the city-states of Athens & Eretria under the Persian king Darius I
  • The Battle of Marathon ends the Persian advance on Athens
  • The Persian generals are Datis & Dalophernes
  • The Athenian strategos (= general) Miltiades is the hero of Marathon and becomes the main political figure in the following years
  • 10 Years of peace / Interbellum until 480 BC
  • 483 BC: Athens starts to massively increase its navy on the recommendation of Themistocles
  • Themistocles the leading the politician in Athens
  •  480 BC: Persian Invasion of Greece under the Persian King Xerxes
  • 31 city-states form the Hellenic League to fight the Persian invasion; most of the more than 1,000 Greek city-states stay neutral or join the Persian side
  • 19. August 480 BC: Battle of Thermopylae and the simultaneous naval battle of Artemisium
  • 29. September 480 BC: Battle of Salamis: the Greek navy under Spartan supreme command defeats the Persian navy through the plan of the Athenian Themistocles
  • Xanthippos and Aristeides replace Themistocles as strategos
  • Summer of 479 BC: The Battle of Plataea ends the Persian invasion (mostly won by the Spartan phalanx under the supreme command of the Spartan Pausanias)
  • Summer of 479 BC: The Battle of Mycale
  • 479/478 BC: The End of the Greco-Persian Wars

The Pentecontaitia (479 – 431 BC)

  • 478 BC: The Delian League is founded
  • membership in the Delian League is forever, members can not leave
  • Athens uses the League as a tool to extend its own influence
  • 478 BC (or alternatively 462 BC): End of the Hellenic League
  • 478 – 461 BC: Cimon as the leading politician in Athens
  • Cimon guides Athens from one success to the next and turns Athens into a global power
  • In the late 460s BC: The atmosphere in Athens turns Anti-Spartan;
  • Pericles establishes himself as the leader of the Anti-Spartan party in Athens
  • The Athenian forces are stretched thin in mainland Greece
  • 471 BC: Themistocles is exiled in the Anti-Spartan climate because he is suspected to be a friend of Sparta. He and moves to Argos and later to the Persian Empire where he is welcomed and offered a position as governor
  • 460 – 446 BC: The First Peloponnesian War
  • The First Peloponnesian War is fought over concern and envy of Sparta at the growth of the Athenian Empire
  • 455 BC: Athens has reached the peak of its power and controls central Greece from the Thermopylae to the Gulf of Corinth; the Delian League has also expanded into the Aegean Sea
  • But: Athens is threatened by Sparta on the one side and the Persian Empire on the other side; Athens can not win a war on two fronts
  • The First Peloponnesian War ends with two peace treaties, but the rivalry between Sparta and Athens lives on
  • 449 BC: Peace of Callias
  • The Peace of Callias as a peace treaty between the Delian League under Athenian dominance and the Persian Empire that legally ended the Greco-Persian Wars
  • 446 BC: A 30 year long Peace treaty between Athens and Sparta as negotiated
  • 450s – 429 BC: Pericles is the main political leader in Athens
  • He prepares Athens for the inevitable war with Sparta
  • Pericles wants to wage the inevitable war against Sparta from a position of strength

The Peloponnesian War (431 – 404 BC)

  • Spring of 431 BC: The Peloponnesian War begins
  •  The Archidamian War (431 – 421 BC)
  • Each year (except for 429 and 426 BC) the army of the Peloponnesian League marches into Attica and ravages the Athenian settlement lands
  • 429 BC: The Plague hits Athens, Pericles dies
  • 429 BC: Nicias becomes the main inner-political rival to the Athenian warhawk Cleon
  • The two war hawks Brasidas (Sparta) and Cleon (Athens) are the formative figures of the Archidamian War; both fall in 422 BC at the Battle of Amphipolis
  • 427 – 424 BC: The first Athenian Sicilian Expedition
  • 425 BC: Athens drastically raised the tributes of the members of the Delian League
  • 425 BC: Demosthenes is able to establish an Athenian presence on the Peloponnese and captures 120 Spartiates (the myth that Spartiates don`t surrender ends)
  • 424 BC: The Treaty of Callias (the peace between Athens and the Persians) is renewed422 BC
  • The simultaneous death of Brasidas and Cleon in the Battle of Amphipolis removes the main barriers to peace between Sparta and Athens
  • The Peace of Nicias (421 – 414 BC)
  • Athens: Alcibiades rises as the main inner-political rival of Nicias
  • 417 BC: Both Alcibiades and Nicias are elected as strategoi (generals)
  • 415 – 413 BC: The Second Athenian Sicilian Expedition
  • 134 triremes (22,000 men) are sent to Sicily under the command of the rivaling generals Nicias, Alcibiades, and Lamachos
  • Alcibiades flees to Sparta
  • 413 BC: The Sicilian Expedition ends in total disaster; Athens will never again recover from this setback
  • The Decelean War (414 – 404 BC) (Also called the Ionian War)
  • 413 BC: Sparta once again marches into Attica and occupies the fortified village of Decelea (only 12 miles / 20 km away from Athens)
  • the occupation of Decelea gives Sparta a constant military base right outside of Athens
  • The Decelean War is shaped by naval battles in the Aegean sea
  • 413 BC: Sparta and the Persian Empire team up against Athens; Sparta receives financial aid for its navy
  • May/June of 411 BC: The Democratic government of Athens is overthrown by an oligarchical revolution
  • The Four Hundred (a group of Oligarchs) rules until September of 411 BC
  • Spring of 410 BC: The democratic government of Athens is restored
  • 405 BC: The Spartan fleet under the command of Lysander destroys the Athenian fleet in the Aegodpotami
  • Sparta is now able to cut off Athens both on land and on sea
  • 404 BC: Athens is completely surrounded by the Spartan navy and the Spartan army and capitulates after 8 months of siege
  • Sparta puts a new oligarch government, the Thirty Tyrants, in place
  • Spring of 403 BC: The rule of the Thirty Tyrants ends in Athens and is replaced by a panel of 10 men

October of 403 BC: Democracy is restored in Athens

  • general amnesty for all crimes committed during the Civil War, only the members of the Thirty Tyrants and the panel of the ten are excluded from the general amnesty

I hope you enjoyed this overlook of the timeline of ancient Greece. You can find many more articles on ancient Greece, as well as the Greco-Persian Wars, and the Peloponnesian War on this website. So I would be happy to see you again in one of the other articles on the fascinating history of ancient Greece.

Take care of yourself because you deserve it. You really do.

Until next time

Yours truly

Luke Reitzer


Thucydides: The Peloponnesian War.*

Wolfgang Will: Athen oder Sparta. Eine Geschichte des Peloponnesischen Kriegs.*

Karl-Wilhelm Welweit: Sparta. Aufstieg und Niedergang einer antiken Großmacht (Stuttgart 2004).*   

Jenifer Neils: The Cambridge companion to ancient Athens.*

Plutarch: On Sparta.*  

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