II. Ancient and Classical Periods, 3500 B.C.E.–500 C.E. > D. Classical Greece and the Hellenistic World > 4. The Classical Age, 510–323 B.C.E. > c. The Rise of the Athenian Empire
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  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
 
 
c. The Rise of the Athenian Empire
487
 
REFORM OF THE ATHENIAN CONSTITUTION. A series of reforms made the constitution more democratic. The nine archons were now chosen by lot from some 500 candidates elected by the demes. Subsequently ten preliminary candidates were elected from each tribe. Later these preliminary candidates were also chosen by lot. The military functions of the polemarch were taken over by the ten elected generals (strategoi), who were now assigned to command expeditionary armies. A general-in-chief (strategos autocrator) was sometimes promoted over the others. The anti-Persian party regained power with a noble faction led by Aristides and a common wing by Themistocles.  1
 
487
 
The first known ostracism was conducted, that of Hipparchus, a relative of the tyrant, who was suspected of being pro-Persian. At a special assembly, citizens cast potsherds or ostraca with an individual's name written on it as ballots. If 6,000 ballots were submitted against a particular man, he was obliged to leave Athens for a period of ten years, although he retained his property and remained a citizen.  2
 
486
 
Xerxes succeeded to the Persian throne and demanded earth and water (i.e., submission) from the Greek states, most of which refused. The Alcmaeonid leader Megacles was ostracized.  3
 
483
 
A rich new vein of silver was discovered at the state mines at Mt. Laurium. Themistocles convinced the assembly to use the money to build a fleet of 200 triremes, a type of warship. Aristides was ostracized for his opposition to this measure.  4
 
481
 
The Greek states, led by Sparta and Athens, set up the Hellenic League to resist the coming Persian invasion. Themistocles was elected strategos autocrator at Athens and became its most powerful political figure.  5
 
480
 
Third Persian Expedition. The Persian king Xerxes personally led an expedition which marched into Greece through Thrace and Macedonia. Herodotus says the Persian army had 5 million men (including camp followers): modern estimates range from 100,000–500,000. The Persian fleet included from 600–1200 ships. A Greek army of 7,000 hoplites occupied the pass at Thermopylae, and a fleet of 270 ships stationed itself at the nearby Gulf of Artemisium. Unable to take the pass by direct assault, the Persians took a side path and turned the Greek position. Most of the Greeks withdrew, but King Leonidas with 300 Spartans and 700 Thespians refused to retreat, and at the BATTLE OF THERMOPYLAE they were surrounded and annihilated. The Persian navy suffered heavy damage from storms, losing half their ships, but they still outnumbered the Greeks. The Battle of Artemisium was indecisive, but the Greeks withdrew after Thermopylae was taken. The Boeotians, Phocians, and Locrians went over to the Persians (medized). The Greek army retreated to the Peloponnese and built a wall across the Isthmus of Corinth. The fleet moved to the Saronic Gulf between Athens and Salamis. Unable to defend their city, the Athenians fled and the Persians occupied Attica and destroyed Athens. In THE BATTLE OF SALAMIS, the Persians attacked the Greek fleet in the narrow strait, losing their advantage of numbers, and were decisively defeated. Xerxes, probably fearful for his supply lines, returned to Asia Minor with a third of his army, leaving another third with Artabazus in Thrace, and the rest in Boeotia under Mardonius.  6
 
480
 
In Sicily, Terillus, the tyrant of Himera, appealed to Carthage for help against Theron of Acragas and Gelon of Syracuse. Hamilcar led a Carthaginian army onto the island, but it was decisively defeated by Theron and Gelon at the Battle of Himera.  7
 
479
 
The Persians under Mardonius again invaded Attica. The Greek forces, led by the Spartan king Pausanias, defeated the Persians at the BATTLE OF PLATAEA. Mardonius was killed and his camp plundered. The Greeks took Thebes by siege, abolished the oligarchy, and instituted a democracy.  8
 
479
 
The Battle of Mycale. King Leotychides II of Sparta led a small Greek fleet to guard the Cyclades against Persia. The Samians and Chians convinced him to attack the Persians, who had drawn their ships up on the beach at Mycale near Samos. In the ensuing battle the Persian fleet was destroyed.  9
 
479–478
 
The Siege of Sestos. The Ionian cities in Asia Minor and several of the island cities (Samos, Lesbos, and Chios) revolted from the Persians. The allied Greek fleet laid siege to Sestos, a Persian stronghold in the Thracian Chersonese. The Spartans returned home in the fall, but the Athenians and Ionians succeeded in reducing Sestos during the winter.  10
 
478
 
Pausanias, leading the allied Greek fleet, reduced Cyprus and Byzantium. Suspected of treasonous negotiations with the Persians, the Spartan ephors recalled him. He was tried for treason, but acquitted, and sent back to Byzantium.  11
 
 
 
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

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