Middle-aged Socrates (c. 469-399) wandered the streets of
Athenians continued to enjoy a century of the finest drama through the works of Euripides (480-406). According to tradition, the 45-year-old Aeschylus fought at the Battle of Salamis, the 16-year-old Sophocles sang in the youth choir celebrating the victory, and Euripides was born on the day of the battle. He wrote over 90 plays of which 19 survive. He first competed in the Dionysia in 455 and first won in 441. His play, Children of Hercules, first performed in 430, glorified war.
In 430 a plague struck overcrowded
Hippocrates (c. 460-c. 370), fondly known as the father of medicine, lived in
Strangely enough, Athenians, during this particularly painful period of their history, got to enjoy outstanding comedies. Aristophanes (ca 446-ca 386), the father of comedy, wrote 40 plays. The 11 which survive include The Acharnians (425), a criticism of the war with
During this first period of the war,
The greatest victory of
In 430 Euripides had glorified war in his tragedy The Children of Hercules. Now, in 415, he highlighted its horrors in his play The Trojan Women.
In response to the arrival of the Athenian force in
Thucydides (ca 460-411?) survived the plague that killed thousands of other Athenians in 430. An Athenian general, the Assembly exiled him when he failed to arrive in time to keep the city of
Aristophanes continued to treat his fellow Athenians to comedies both biting and insightful. Again he mocked those supporting war with
In 411 Athenian men sympathetic with
Alcibiades, while helping the Spartans to defeat Athenians in
In 406, however, the brilliant and bold Lysander, leader of the Spartan navy, achieved a stunning victory over the Athenian fleet under the overall command of Alcibiades. Enemies in
Later in 406, however, the Athenians were able to defeat a Spartan fleet under less capable leadership. At first Athenians rejoiced at this good news. Later they raged against the Athenian commanders when they learned that they had failed to rescue hundreds of Athenian sailors from the sea before a storm drowned them. On trial for criminal stupidity, the Assembly wanted to vote on having them judged and sentenced collectively. Socrates, by chance the presiding officer that day, refused to allow the vote because collective judgment violated the Athenian constitution. The next day a different presiding officer allowed the vote and the Assembly had the commanders executed. In reality, those leaders had been capable ones and their loss proved fatal to the city that put them to death.
Strangely enough, at just this moment the Spartans asked Athenians for peace. The Assembly made another tragic mistake by refusing their request.
In 405 Lysander, back in charge of the Spartan navy, used his fleet to stop the shipment of grain to
Without its fleet, Athenians couldn’t feed themselves. Starving Athenians surrendered to the Spartans in March 404. The Spartans installed thirty men known as tyrants to govern
Thrasybulus, an Athenian general exiled to
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