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Tuesday, 8 June 2010

A brief history of Athens

Attica at the beginning of the historical period was a self supporting agricultural region. It's capital was a small town inhabited by artisans and craftsmen. The town was called Athens.

In the Homeric age Attica, like other Greek cities, was a monarchy. Over the period the king became just a titular power and the control passed to aristocracy. The aristocrats oppressed both the artisans and the countrymen. A compromise in the direction of the democracy was affected by Solon early in the sixth century, and much of his work survived through a subsequent period of tyranny under Peisistratus and his sons. When the tyranny became week the aristocrats, as an opponent of tyranny, advocated democracy. Democratic process gave power back to aristocracy.

The greatness of Athens begins at the time of the two Persian wars (490 B.C and 480-79 B.C). Before this Ionia and Magna Graecia, which comprised of cities of South Italy and Sicily, were center of learning which produced great men.

The victory of Athens against the Persian king Darius at Marathon (490 B.C) and combined Greek fleet against his son Xerexes (480 B.C) under the Athenian leadership gave Athens great Prestige.

The Persian occupied Ionia and a part of mainland Asia Minor rebelled after the Persian were driven out of mainland Greece by the combined Greek force. Athens became the leader against the war against Persia. The other cities gave Athens the monetary help and Athens provided them with soldiers and ships. Gradually Athens acquired naval supremacy over the other empire and gradually transformed the empire into Athenian empire.

Athens became rich and prosperous under the leadership of Pericles, who governed by the free choice of people. The age of Pericles was the glorious time in the Greek history. Literature and Philosophy made a great Leap.

Pericles rebuilt the temple on Acropolis which was destroyed by Xerxes. He also built the Parthenon at the end of this period. Athens was most beautiful and splendid city of Hellenic world. In Philosophy, Athens contributes only two great names, Socrates and Plato. Plato belonged to later period but Socrates passed his youth and early manhood under Pericles. Pericles ruled for 30 years until his fall in 430 BC.

Until the fall of Pericles, democratic process gave power to the aristocracy. But towards the end of his life the leaders of Athenian democracy began to demand a larger share of Political power. At the same time, his imperialist policy caused increasing friction with Sparta, leading to Peloponnesian war (431 – 404 B.C) in which Athens was completely destroyed.

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