So, for a time, Hellenia and the Hellenian cities of coastal
Being freed from Persian control, however, did not mean that these cities remained free from external control. The people of
Athenian rulers did use the money, means (primarily ships), and men of the League to attack Persian soldiers left behind in Hellenia at Eios (476) and to block a westward advance of a Persian army in
But Athenian rulers also used their power within the Delian League to transform the alliance into an Athenian empire. First they used ships of the League to force new cities to join it and to attack member cities that wanted to leave it. Later they used the annual fees for membership in the League to beautify
Let us remember, however, that life even in democratic
At the same time, Athenian rulers decided to fight the Persians in Egypt. In 460 a Libyan ruler had taken control of the Egyptian province of the
Shaken by this defeat, Athenian rulers sought and got a five-year truce with their Spartan counterparts. Freed from fighting in southern Hellenia, Athenians sent 140 ships to capture a city controlled by the Persians on the large
That was the last major battle between Hellenians and Persians until Alexander (“the Great”) led Hellenian soldiers against the Persians in 334. For now (449), Persian rulers publicly agreed to respect the freedom of Hellenian cities in Hellenia and on the western coast of
Meanwhile, hostilities resumed between Spartans and Athenians. Then in 445, with neither Spartan nor Athenian rulers able to take control of Hellenia, both agreed to stop attacking one another for 30 years (so they thought).
The most important project undertaken at this time turned out to be the building of the Parthenon. Architects Ictinos and Callicrates designed it. Phidias supervised its construction and
the creation of the sculptures that would adorn it. Building began in 447 and concluded in 438 with the sculptures finished in 431. Surprisingly, the result was the finest Doric temple ever built and an enduring symbol of Western Civilization.
Herodotus (ca 484-425). Born in
His Histories is the oldest Hellenian prose writing to survive. Tradition refers to Herodotus as the father of history because he was the first to methodically conduct inquiries into the past, include in his research the stories of various ethnic groups, test all of them for accuracy, and integrate them into a meaningful narrative. The theme of his book: the conflict between the freedom of Hellenia and the slavery of Incognita and the momentous victory of the former over the latter. So, ironically, the Athenian Assembly denied citizenship to the one author who did more than anyone else to inform future generations of the Athenian victories over the Persians at Marathon,
Phidias (ca 480-430). In addition to supervising the construction and adornment of the Parthenon (447-431), Phidias oversaw the building of the Propylaea—the monumental gateway into the Acropolis—during that same period of time. Previously (456) the Assembly had paid Phidias to create a large bronze statue of Athena. She stood 25 feet (7.5 m) tall on a base 5 feet (1.5 m) high and dominated the skyline of the city for centuries. In 447 the Assembly paid Phidias to sculpt a second statue of Athena, using gold and ivory, for placement inside the Parthenon. Phidias also completed a colossal statue of a Jupiter sitting on a throne (42 feet or 13 m tall), also using gold and ivory, which was placed in the temple dedicated to Jupiter at the sanctuary of
Phidias, one of the greatest sculptors in Olympian history, enjoyed a close friendship with Pericles. Pericles, however, had enemies. To get at him, his enemies attacked Phidias. They accused him of impiety for carving, they claimed, images of himself and Pericles on the shield of his statue of Athena. In 430 they succeeded in having him jailed on this charge. A brief time later he died there.
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