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THE DEFEAT OF THE ATHENIANS AT SYRACUSE, B.C. 413.
B.C. 490 to 487. All Asia is filled with the preparations made by King Darius for a new expedition against Greece. Themistocles persuades the Athenians to leave off dividing the proceeds of their silver mines among themselves, and to employ the money in strengthening their navy.
487. Egypt revolts from the Persians, and delays the expedition against Greece.
485. Darius dies, and Xerxes his son becomes King of Persia in his stead.
484 The Persians recover Egypt.
480 Xerxes invades Greece. Indecisive actions between the Persian and Greek fleets at Artemisium. Destruction of the three hundred Spartans at Thermopyae. The Athenians abandon Attica and go on shipboard. Great naval victory of the Greeks at Salamis. Xerxes returns to Asia, leaving a chosen army under Mardonius, to carry on the war against the Greeks.
478. Mardonius and his army destroyed by the Greeks at Plataea The Greeks land in Asia Minor, and defeat a Persian force at Mycale. In this and the following years the Persians lose all their conquests in Europe, and many on the coast of Asia.
477. Many of the Greek maritime states take Athens as their leader, instead of Sparta.
466. Victories of Cimon over the Persians at the Eurymedon.
464. Revolt of the Helots against Sparta. Third Messenian war.
460. Egypt again revolts against Persia. The Athenians send a powerful armament to aid the Egyptians, which, after gaining some successes, is destroyed, and Egypt submits. This war lasted six years.
457. Wars in Greece between the Athenian and several Peloponnesian states. Immense exertions of Athens at this time. "There is an original inscription still preserved in the Louvre, which attests the energies of Athens at this crisis, when Athens, like England in modern wars, at once sought conquests abroad, and repelled enemies at home. At the period we now advert to (B.C. 457), an Athenian armament of two hundred galleys was engaged in a bold though unsuccessful expedition against Egypt. The Athenian crews had landed, had won a battle; they had then re- embarked and sailed up the Nile, and were busily besieging the Persian garrison in Memphis. As the complement of a trireme galley was at least two hundred men, we cannot estimate the forces then employed by Athens against Egypt at less than forty thousand men. At the same time she kept squadrons on the coasts of Phoenicia and Cyprus, and yet maintained a home-fleet that enabled her to defeat her Peloponnesian enemies at Cecryphalae and AEgina, capturing in the last engagement seventy galleys. This last fact may give us some idea of the strength of the Athenian home-fleet that gained the victory; and by adopting the same ratio of multiplying whatever number of galleys we suppose to have been employed, by two hundred, so as to gain the aggregate number of the crews, we may form some estimate of the forces which this little, Greek state then kept on foot. Between sixty and seventy thousand men must have served in her fleets during that year. Her tenacity of purpose was equal to her boldness of enterprise. Sooner than yield or withdraw from any of their expeditions the Athenians at this very time, when Corinth sent an army to attack their garrison at Megara, did not recall a single crew or a single soldier from AEgina or from abroad; but the lads and old men, who had been left to guard the city, fought and won a battle against these new assailants. The inscription which we have referred to is graven on a votive tablet to the memory of the dead, erected in that year by the Erecthean tribe, one of the ten into which the Athenians were divided. It shows, as Thirlwall has remarked, "that the Athenians were conscious of the greatness of their own effort;" and in it this little civic community of the ancient world still "records to us with emphatic simplicity, that 'its slain fell in Cyprus, in Egypt, in Phoenicia, at Haliae, in AEgina, and in Megara, IN THE SAME YEAR.'" [Paeans of the Athenian Navy.]
455. A thirty years' truce concluded between Athens and Lacedaemon.
440. The Samians endeavour to throw off the supremacy of Athens. Samos completely reduced to subjection. Pericles is now sole director of the Athenian councils.
431. Commencement of the great Peloponnesian war, in which Sparta, at the head of nearly all the Peloponnesian states, and aided by the Boeotians and some of the other Greeks beyond the Isthmus, endeavours to reduce the power of Athens, and to restore independence to the Greek maritime states who were the subject allies of Athens. At the commencement of the war the Peloponnesian armies repeatedly invade and ravage Attica, but Athens herself is impregnable, and her fleets secure her the dominion of the sea.
430. Athens visited by a pestilence, which sweeps off large numbers of her population.
426. The Athenians gain great advantages over the Spartans at Sphacteria, and by occupying Cythera; but they suffer a severe defeat in Boeotia, and the Spartan general Brasidas, leads an expedition to the Thracian coasts, and conquers many of the most valuable Athenian possessions in those regions.
421. Nominal truce for thirty years between Athens and Sparta, but hostilities continue on the Thracian coast and in other quarters.
415. The Athenians send an expedition to conquer Sicily.
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