The Delian League and the Rise of the Athenian Empire


Aftermath of the Persian War

Building of the Long Walls

·      Spartan concerns over Athenian strength

·      Themistocles the trickster

Vengeance on the Persians

·      Pausanias leads Greeks to victory against Persians at Cyprus and Byzantium

Shift of Leadership from Sparta to Athens

·      Pausanias antagonizes Greek allies

·      Pausanias recalled to Sparta for corruption, replaced by Dorcis

·      Athenians Aristides and Cimon win favor with Greek allies


Athens and the Delian League

Formation of Delian League 478/7

Aims of the Delian League – compensation and liberation from Persia

Structure of the Delian League

·      bicameral vs. unicameral

·      hellenotamiae – treasurers of the league in Athens

·      phoros assessment – Aristides the Just

Athenians “hawks” and “doves”

·      against Sparta or against Persia

·      Themistocles vs. Cimon

Delian League Campaigns

·      Eion in Thrace

·      against the pirates in Scyros – Cimon and the bones of Theseus

·      Carystus in Euboea

·      Naxos – subduing recalcitrant members – 471

·      Eurymedon – Cimon leads victory against Persians – 469

·      Thasos – disputes in Thrace – 463


Expansion of the Athenian Empire

Spartan Crisis – earthquake and revolt – 464

Fall of Cimon – rise of the new “hawks” Ephialtes and Pericles

Athenian Land Empire

·      Megarian alliance – 460

·      war vs. Aegina, Corinth, and Boeotia – 459-7 

·      Egyptian disaster 459-454

·      Failure of Athenian Land Empire

Peace Treaties – Peace of Callias 451/0 and Thirty Years Peace 446/5


Pericles and Athenian control of the Delian League

·      Decree of Clearchus

·      Decree of Kleinias

·      Colophon and Chalcis Decrees



Spartan Politics and the Delian League

Spartan “hawks” vs. “doves”  - against Athens or against Persia

Spartans in Boeotia and Thessaly

Argos and Peloponnesian opposition

Sacred War and Spartans in Central Greece

Battle of Coronea 447 and Invasion of Attica 446 – Thirty Years Peace


Spartan Leaders 

King Leonidas - younger brother of Cleomenes, died at Thermopylae

Pausanias - Regent for King Pleistarchos, son of Leonidas

- recalled from command, accused of conspiring with Persians and Helots, starved to death in temple sanctuary in 466

King Leotychides - deposed Demaratus, victor at Mycale, exiled for bribery in 476

Archidamos - Leotychides' grandson and heir


Athenian Leaders

Themistokles - victor of Salamis,

anti-Spartan democrat, ostracized in 472, flees to Argos then Persia,

Aristides the Just - Athenian commander at Plataia, organizes Delian league

Cimon, son of Miltiades - military commander for Delian League,

pro-Spartan, ostracized in 461

Ephialtes - anti-Spartan democrat, attacks privileges of Areopagos, assassinated in 458

Pericles - democrat, converts Delian League funds to rebuilding of Athens

Thucydides - Pericles' rival politician, uncle of the historian, ostracized in 443


Ephialtes’ reforms

Reform of Areopagus – 462

Dokimasia of Officials

Meetings of the Ecclesia

Pericles vs. Thucydides – further reforms


Periclean Cultural Projects

Colonies and Cleruchies

Building - the Parthenon and the Propylaia

Religious Festivals  - Ionian cults, PanAthenaia, Dramatic Festivals


Drama at Athens

Greek drama performed at city festivals

·      Lenaia in Gamelion (January-February)

·       - lesser festival connected with the pressing of grapes

·       - comedies and some tragedies produced

·      Greater or City Dionysia in Elaphebolion (March-April)

Forms of Greek Drama

·      dithyramb competition (choral odes for fifty member choruses)

·      comedies - competition of 5 plays on one day of the festival

·      tragedies - each poet submitted a tetralogy of three tragedies and a satyr play (farce)

history of tragedy

·      534 BCE  - Thespis said to have staged the first tragedy - single actor and chorus

·      Aristotle claims Aeschylus was the first to add a second actor and curtail the importance of the chorus. 

·      Sophocles added a third actor and scenery


Sophocles  (496 - 406) 

Won an unprecedented 24 tragic victories (cp. Aeschylus 13, Euripides 5)

First victory was in 468

Only 7 of his vast number of plays (perhaps as many as 123) have survived:

Philoctetes (409)

Electra (430-420?)

Women of Trachis and Ajax (450-440?),

The Theban Plays:

Antigone (before 441 BCE)

Oedipus Tyrannus (426 BCE??)

Oedipus at Colonus (401 BCE - staged posthumously by his grandson Sophocles the Younger)




For Next Week:


Buckley ch 16 – 19

Thucydides Books II-V

Euripides Trojan Women

Aristophanes Clouds 886-1104

Gorgias – Defense of Helen; Critias

Plutarch – Pericles


What causes do our sources claim started the Peloponnesian war?  What do the differences between the sources reveal about the sources reliability and usefulness?


What were the goals of the "hawk" and "dove" factions in Athens and in Sparta?  How well did the different groups succeed in achieving their aims?


In Pericles' funeral oration,  Thucydides has Pericles present an ideal picture of democratic Athens.  What are the ideal qualities he expounds?  What are the key words with which he expresses them? How does Athens live up to these ideals after the funeral oration? Watch for Thucydides' use of these key words in other situations.


Thucydides' description of the plague (2.47-55) following the idealism of funeral oration creates an especially dramatic effect that can hardly have been accidental.  What other devices does Thucydides use to enhance the drama of the situation? What elements seem to reflect contemporary medical theory?


The dialogue form in which the Melian debate (5.84-116) is presented itself serves to call attention to the significance of the passage.  Consider the values expressed in each side's arguments and compare these values wth those expressed in the Funeral Oration and the Mytilenean debate.  How do these ideas compare with the debate in Euripides' Trojan Women (730ff.)?


How do the arguments regarding Helen in Gorgias and Euripides' Trojan Women (914ff) compare with one another?  What common themes do they share with the debate in Aristophanes' Clouds and the fragment of Critias?  What do all these debates reflect of  the cultural shifts in Athens at the time?




Battles of Artemisium, Thermopylae, and Salamis


Greeks defeat Persians at Plataia and Mycale


Formation of the Delian League; Greek victories in Cyprus


Cimon leads League in conquests of Eion and Skyros; Spartan King Leotychides exiled for accepting bribes in Thessaly


Naxos revolts from Delian League and is suppressed


Greeks under Cimon defeat Persians at Eurymedon


death of Pausanias in Sparta


Thasos revolts from League, asks help from Sparta


Earthquake and Helot Revolt in Sparta; Athenian assistance repelled


Ephialtes murdered; Cimon ostracized


Megara leaves Peloponnesian League, allies with Athens


Athens leads League to help revolt in Egypt


Battles of Tanagra and Oinophyta - Athenians take Boeotia


Athenian archonship lottery opened to zeugitae


Persians defeat Greek forces in Egypt;


Athens shifts Delian League treasury to Athens


Athenian/League expedition to Cyprus - death of Cimon


Peace of Kallias (?)


Parthenon and other building projects in Athens


Battle of Coronea, end of Athenian power in Boeotia; Thirty Years Peace between Athens and Sparta and allies


Thucydides ostracized; Foundation of Thurii in Italy; Herodotus and Lysias are colonists, Protagoras drafts laws


Sophocles' Antigone performed


Revolt of Samos


Beginning of the Peloponnesian War


Pericles' Funeral Oration


Aristophanes' Clouds performed


Diodorus Siculus 11.50.1-8

[1] When Dromocleides was archon in Athens, the Romans elected as consuls Marcus Fabius and Gnaeus Manlius. In this year the Lacedaemonians, now that for no good reason they had lost the command of the sea, were resentful; consequently they were incensed at the Greeks who had fallen away from them and continued to threaten them with the appropriate punishment. [2] And when a meeting of the Gerousia was convened, they considered making war upon the Athenians for the sake of regaining the command of the sea. [3] Likewise, when the general Assembly was convened, the younger men and the majority of the others were eager to recover the leadership, believing that, if they could secure it, they would enjoy great wealth, Sparta in general would be made greater and more powerful, and the estates of its private citizens would receive a great increase of prosperity. [4] They kept calling to mind also the ancient oracle in which the god commanded them to beware lest their leadership should be a "lame" one, and the oracle, they insisted, meant nothing other than the present; for "lame" indeed their rule would be if, having two leaderships, they should lose one of them.

 [5] Since practically all the citizens had been eager for this course of action and the Gerousia was in session to consider these matters, no one entertained the hope that any man would have the temerity to suggest any other course. [6] But a member of the Gerousia, Hetoemaridas by name, who was a direct descendant of Heracles and enjoyed favour among the citizens by reason of his character, undertook to advise that they leave the Athenians with their leadership, since it was not to Sparta's interest, he declared, to lay claim to the sea. He was able to bring pertinent arguments in support of his surprising proposal, so that, against the expectation of all, he won over both the Gerousia and the people. [7] And in the end the Lacedaemonians decided that the opinion of Hetoemaridas was to their advantage and abandoned their zest for the war against the Athenians. [8] As for the Athenians, at first they expected to have a great war with the Lacedaemonians for the command of the sea, and for this reason were building additional triremes, raising a large sum of money, and dealing honourably with their allies; but when they learned of the decision of the Lacedaemonians, they were relieved of their fear of war and set about increasing the power of their city.