The Golden Age of Athens
The Delian Leauge
The Golden age of Athens
Intro: Athens is one of the best known cities of the ancient world. With a rich culture and a legendary legacy it is one of the best known cities of the ancient world. The Athenians endured famine, plague, wars, and the destruction of their city but the Athenians bounced back and thrived. The city was rebuilt, and it wasn't only a city state this time, with a new age approaching and Athens with a new batch of brilliant thinkers, leaders, planners, and architects the city would go through its golden age which would bring Athens to the heights of empire.
Military: With a still fresh memory of the Persian Wars in their mind the Athenians quickly began preparing for a possible Persian invasion. The Athenians along with about a dozen other city states founded the Delian League. The Delian League was a group of city states who pooled ships and money to create a national Greek defense force. Athens with the help of their leader, Pericles dominated the Delian league. Since Athens was clearly the leader of the Delian league they began to take control of it. The Athenians began to treat other city states more like subjects than partners and began dominating the league going so far a forcing other members of the league to use Athenian coins. Also the Athenians began to withdraw money from the leagues treasury and put it in to their own will such as the construction of many public buildings including the Parthenon which alone was equivalent to $3 billion in credit today. As a result, Athens gained powerful allies and many forced subjects. When some city states realized that there wasn't going to be a third Persian invasion they tried to withdraw from the league but the Athenians kept a tight hold on the members and forced them to continue to donate money, although by now it was more like tribute. When the city of Miletus withdrew the Athenians sent a force to ravage the city leaving it in ruins setting an example for the other city states of the leauge.
Socrates- Socrates was one of the most famous philosophers in ancient Greece. He left no writings behind as his student Plato recorded his thinking. Socrates would often question men who thought they were wise and make them look ignorant and stupid. Socrates also invented the Socratic method of teaching which we still use today. Later in his life the Athenians stopped trusting open debate and later had Socrates put on death penalty for questioning the gods. Socrates drank a poisonous cup of hemlock in 399 B. C. ending his life.
Plato- Plato was another famous philosopher and was even a student of Socrates. Plato published many works of philosophy; his most famous is arguably the Republic. In the book Republic Plato described how he thought a civilization should work like. There were three social classes. At the top were wise kings who ruled the people with wisdom, next were soldiers who defended the land and at the bottom there was the common people who produced goods. One thing that sets Plato apart from other people in Athens at the time was that he believed that men and women were equals and should receive the same opportunities in life.
Mathematics & Science
Pythagoras- Pythagoras was a famous mathematician best known for developing the theory about right triangles a^2+b^2=c^2. The theory states that the hypotenuses squared will be equivalent to the other 2 sides which produce a right angle squared.
Euclid- Euclid was a famous Greek mathematician. He was one of the first if not the first person to investigate geometry. He published his works in a book called Elements.
Archimedes- Archimedes may very well be the most famous scientist of the ancient world. He was the first person to explain the lever and pulley. He developed many theories about physics such as discovering that an object displaces its own volume of water. Along with being a scientist Archimedes was also a mathematician who developed theories about solid geometry and also accurately calculated the value of pi. On top of all that Archimedes was also an inventor who developed many things including levers which he changed into catapults which he used to help the king of Syracuse to fight the Romans.
Herodotus- Herodotus is a well known Greek historian. He is known as the "father of history" and was one of the first historians. Herodotus traveled to many different lands recording information such as in Egypt and Persia. Herodotus also wrote about the Persian Wars. He copied much of his information in a work called The Histories.
Thucydides- Thucydides was a general in the Athenian navy. He recorded a history of the Peloponnesian War. The work includes detailed recordings of speeches made during the war, the major events, battles and the plague that swept across Athens.
Xenophon- Xenophon was a soldier who served in the Persian Wars. He recorded many works about tactics, politics, breeding horses, and the history of Greece.
Which of the following would you have most liked to do?
Architecture: During the golden age of Athens the Athenians began investing money in public buildings. With colossal amounts of money and brilliant architects the Athenians were able to create some of the most famous and well known architectural feats of all time. One feat of engineering still widely known today is the Parthenon. Costing over $3 billion in money today it was one of the biggest construction projects of the ancient world. The Parthenon was a scaled up version of other Greek temples and had a huge gold and ivory statue of Athena inside of it. It is still a very popular tourist attraction today. The Athenians also built many other public buildings but not quite on the scale of the Parthenon there were many stoas which were buildings used to protect the Athenians from the sun and rain often built around an Agora. There were also altars used for worship built in front of temples, treasuries where citizens made offerings to the gods and monuments used to represent a victory of some sort whether it be war or an athletic event. The Athenians also had many innovations in pillars which we still use in many public buildings today such as churches and banks. There were many different types of pillars including Ionic, Doric, Aeolic and Corinthian. Today the Ionic is the most common type of pillar used very commonly. Corinthian pillars are also used sometimes in mansions and large private homes.
Theater: The Athenians had excellent entertainment during the golden age. They didn't have computers, televisions or iPods like we do today but they had theater and actors. The actors wore masks and performed in a Greek theater which was a semicircle, sort of like half a football stadium. In the theater the people sat in different sections based on their social class. In the front there were high government officials and judges and commoners sat from the middle to back of the theater. There were 3 different kinds of plays: comedies, tragedies, and satyr plays. Tragedies often had strong themes where the main character often went through a main plot such as defying the gods or battling for power. Comedies often had a lighter atmosphere where political jokes, comments, and clowning around were often. Satyr plays often had the theme of teasing the tragic theme. In the play the actors dressed as satyrs a mythical creature.
Conclusion: So what was the result of the golden age of Athens? Athens prospered and humanity advanced but what about the rest of Greece? The forced subjects of the Delian league and more importantly Sparta? Would Athens with her rich culture and innovations ally themselves with the Spartans military might to create a superpower of the ancient world? No, Sparta filled with jealousy, ambition, and suspicion of the Athenians prosperity would ultimately declare war on Athens leading to a bloody and brutal fight to the death which would lead to the end of Ancient Greece.