Ancient Greece—Late Classical
404 to 338 B.C.
Thirty Tyrants in Athens to Battle of Chaeronea
Era Summary—Late Classical
After the defeat of Athens at the end of the Peloponnesian War, Sparta became the undisputed first power among the Greek city-states. The walls of Athens were pulled down and the Spartan generalappointed thirty men who were loyal to Sparta to run the city. The leaders were called the "thirty tyrants" and they put many of their political opponents, including to death. was a student of Socrates and witnessed these oppressions and they greatly influenced his later writings.
The rise of Thebes as a dominant power in Greece was unprecedented. Although always a large and prosperous city it had never had particularly talented military leaders until the rise ofand . Under their leadership, Thebes achieved a military predominance over most of Greece and provided a real check to Sparta’s influence. The battle of Leuctra revealed Epaminondas as a military genius of first rank, and his subsequent diplomatic victories also showed his talent as a statesman. The period of Theban influence however, did not survive the death of Epaminondas in 362 BC. Sparta was humiliated, Thebes was leaderless, and no great power arose to provide dominant leadership to Greece. The fortunes of Athens eventually improved, but it never recovered its former predominance, and it was not prepared to resist the Macedonian threat when it did arise.
Macedonia was a semi-barbaric country north of Greece that had never been considered as fully civilized by the great city-states of the Greek mainland., however, spent his youth as a hostage in Thebes under the great Epaminondas. There he had learned the best of Greek military strategies and became a great admirer of Greek culture. He ascended to the throne of Macedonia in 359 and spent the early part of his reign reforming the Macedonian military, expanding his power, and promoting Greek culture. His first military dealings with Greece involved the during which he generously defended the interests of the Oracle at Delphi against a band of marauding Phocians. Once this foothold was made, he used statesmanship and diplomacy to gain ascendency over many weaker Greek allies until Athens and Thebes, at the behest of the Athenian orator finally recognized the threat. When Philip finally met their combined forces in 338 BC at the Battle of Chaeronea, the Greeks were soundly thrashed, and Athens fell under the Macedonian Yoke. Philip was however, an admirer the Greeks and granted them many freedoms, but little power. Greek culture and philosophy continued to thrive in Athens for many years afterward, but the political autonomy on mainland Greece was gone forever.
Just as mainland Greece was losing its independence, the island of Sicily was preparing to overthrew, a tyrant whose family had reigned in Syracuse for two generations. The tyrants of Syracuse were notoriously oppressive and paranoid, although the younger Dionysus made pretensions of high culture and was a patron of the arts. He even hired the great philosopher Plato as a private tutor for several years, but that episode did not end well. Eventually, , a native of Corinth, became the great hero of the , when he overthrew the tyrant of Syracuse, fought off invaders from Carthage, and established an independent Greek republic in Syracuse that thrived for over 100 years, until it was conquered by Rome.
Retreat of the 10,000
|Historian who led Greek army out of Persia, in retreat of the Ten Thousand.|
|Plotted to kill his brother Artaxerxes, and assume the Persian throne.|
|Spartan mercenary who commanded the 'Ten Thousand' Greeks at Cunaxa. Treacherously killed by Tissaphernes.|
|Persian Satrap of Asia Minor during Peloponnesian War. Allied with Sparta.|
|King of Persia during the retreat of the Ten Thousand.|
|Leader of Sparta after the Peloponnesian War. Campaigned in Asia Minor and warred with Thebes.|
|Helped to liberate Thebes. Leader of the "Sacred Band" of Theban Warriors.|
|Greatest General of his age. Defeated the Spartans at the Battle of Leuctra, and made Thebes predominant.|
Science and Philosophy
|Writer of moral philosophy. Well known for 'Dialogues'. Student of Socrates.|
|Renowned scientist and philosopher. Cataloged all types of knowledge. Tutor to Alexander the Great.|
Tyrants in Sicily
|From humble origins, arose to become Tyrant of the city of Syracuse.|
|Story of Damon and Pythias celebrates trusted friendship and willingness to die for one another.|
|Continued tyrannical reign in Syracuse after the death of his father; student of Plato, overthrown by Dion.|
|Brother-in-law of the Tyrant Dionysius of Syracuse; helped to overthrow him.|
|Liberated the entire island of Syracuse from Tyrants and Carthaginians.|
Rise of Macedonia
|Athenian statesmen who tried to avoid war between Athens and Macedonia. Sometimes opposed Demosthenes.|
|Used statesmanship as well as military force to bring Greece under sway of Macedonia.|
|One of Greece's greatest orators. Spoke against Philip and the Macedonians.|
|404||Pro-Spartan government of the "Thirty Tyrants" oppresses popular Athenian leaders.|
|403||Thrasybulus, leader of the exiled Athenian democrats, overthrows the Thirty Tyrants.|
|Greek soldiers from the heart of Persia, recorded by .|
|401||is killed, during a rebellion against Artaxerxes at the Battle of Cunaxa.|
|399||is condemned to death for "impiety and corruption of youth.".|
|393||Long walls of Athens are rebuilt.|
|387||Disastrous "Peace of Antalcidas" treaty ends the.|
|386||comes to power as the tyrant of Syracuse.|
|385||founds his Academy in Athens.|
|382||Spartans capture citadel at Thebes, install a puppet government.|
|379||Theban rebels, led byoverthrow the pro-Spartan government.|
|destroys Spartan hegemony over Greece.|
|371||Theban generalroutes the Spartans at the Battle of Leuctra.|
|364||is killed while fighting Alexander, despot of Phera.|
|362||Death ofat the Battle of Mantinea ends Theban supremacy.|
|367||succedes to power in Syracuse, after the death of his father.|
|357||, an exiled minister, raises a fleet and overthrows of Syracuse.|
|disrupts Athens' effort to rebuild its empire.|
|begins meddling in Greek affairs, by getting involved in the .|
|338||Philip of Macedonia defeats Athens and Thebes at the Battle of Chaeronea.|
|336||is assassinated at a wedding.|
|335||Thebes is besieged and destroyed by Alexander after it rebels from Macedonia.|
|340||drives Carthage out of Sicily at Battle of Crimesus.|
Recommended Reading—Late Classical
Read chapters from "core" texts before reviewing study questions.
* Level I & II study questions are based on Core Reading Assignments.