Greek Government in the Medieval Duchy of Athens

Exploring the establishment of the Duchy following the Fourth Crusade. Introduction The Duchy of Athens was a Latin or Frankish state in Greece that existed from 1205 to 1458 CE. It was created in the aftermath of the Fourth Crusade (1202-1204 CE) and would be ruled for the majority of its history by the Burgundian[…]

The Areopagite Constitution and the Reforms of Ephialtes in Ancient Athens

Ephialtes’ reforms are considered by Aristotle and modern scholars to mark the end of the Areopagite constitution. The Areopagite constitution is the modern name for a period in ancient Athens described by Aristotle in his Constitution of the Athenians. According to that work, the Athenian political scene was dominated, between the ostracism of Themistocles in[…]

The Draconian Constitution: The First Written Legal Code in Ancient Athens

The people of Athens commissioned Draco to devise a written law code and constitution, giving him the title of the first legislator of Athens. Introduction The Draconian constitution, or Draco’s code, was a written law code created by Draco near the end of the 7th century BC in response to the unjust interpretation and modification[…]

The Last Tyrants of Ancient Athens

Economic crisis, impoverishment, and elite conflict led Athens to be managed by individual rulers, the last tyrants of Athens. Introduction The period of the first decades of the Ist Century BC was certainly one of the most conflictive and notable moments in the history of ancient Athens. Thus, since the excellent prosperity gained as a[…]

Crisis and Corruption: Bloody Consequences in Ancient Athens

Looking past a plague at how a massive government spending plan went badly awry 2,500 years ago. Introduction The jump in federal spending in response to the crisis of the coronavirus pandemic is not a new idea. Nearly 2,500 years ago, the people of ancient Athens had a similar plan – which succeeded in meeting[…]

Pausanius’ Guide to Travel in Ancient Athens

Pausanius is best known for his ten-volume work, Description of Greece, detailing his travels through the country, city-by-city. Introduction Pausanius was a 2nd century CE writer who traveled extensively, taking notes on points of interest, and recorded his travels in `guide books’ which could be used by tourists visiting the sites described. Born in Lydia,[…]

The Long Walls of Ancient Athens

Many Ancient Greek fortifications connected a city to another site – a citadel or a port. The best known example is the Athenian wall to Piraeus. The Athenian “Long Walls” were built after Xerxes’ invasion of Greece (480-479); their construction was proposed by Themistocles, but the actual building started in 461, when Athens was at[…]

The Ancient Athenian Treasury at Delphi

The Athenian treasury was the first Panhellenic sanctuary that was dedicated by Athenians. Introduction The Athenian Treasury at Delphi was constructed by the Athenians to house dedications and votive offerings made by their city and citizens to the sanctuary of Apollo. The entire treasury including its sculptural decoration is built of Parian marble. The date[…]

Aristotle’s ‘Constitution of the Athenians’

Ancient accounts of Aristotle credit him with 170 Constitutions of various states. Introduction The Constitution of the Athenians is a work by Aristotle or one of his students. The work describes the constitution of Classical Athens, commonly called the Areopagite constitution. It was preserved on two leaves of a papyrus codex discovered at Oxyrhynchus, Egypt[…]

Ancient Athens, Pericles, and the Alcmeonids

The career of Pericles and of the extension of Athenian democracy that took shape under his direction. Introduction In 432 B.C. , just prior to the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War, the Spartans escalated their diplomatic offensive against the Athenians by reminding them that their leader Pericles was polluted by a curse, and they demanded[…]

Ancient Greece, from the Persian Wars to the Athenian Empire

The most famous series of wars in ancient Greek history broke out with a revolt against Persian control by the Greek city-states of Ionia. Introduction An Athenian blunder in international diplomacy set in motion the greatest military threat that the ancient Greeks had ever faced and put the freedom of Greece at desperate risk from[…]

The Plague of Athens and the Cult of Asclepius

Social movements often arise in times of sudden changes and social unrest, becoming a source of spiritual and political empowerment. Abstract During the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta, several waves of a plague killed an estimated one-third of the civilian Athenian population and one-fourth of its army. Thucydides account of the plague (430-426 BCE)[…]

The Plague in Ancient Athens

The city-state of Sparta, and much of the eastern Mediterranean, was also struck by the disease. Introduction The Plague of Athens was a devastating epidemic that ravaged the city-state of Athens in ancient Greece in 430 B.C.E., during the second year of the Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.E.), when an Athenian victory still seemed within reach.[…]

The Oligarchic Coup in Athens, 411 BCE

The movement toward oligarchy was led by a number of prominent and wealthy Athenians. Introduction The Athenian coup of 411 BC was the result of a revolution that took place during the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. The coup overthrew the democratic government of ancient Athens and replaced it with a short-lived oligarchy known[…]

Tyranny as the Inevitable Outcome of Democracy in Ancient Athens

Power belonged to anyone who could harness the collective will of the citizens directly by appealing to their emotions. Introduction Plato, one of the earliest thinkers and writers about democracy, predicted that letting people govern themselves would eventually lead the masses to support the rule of tyrants. When I tell my college-level philosophy students that[…]

Culture and Society in Classical Athens

Athenian prominence in the story of Classical Greece is no accident. Introduction As mentioned in the previous chapter, the prosperity and cultural achievements of Athens in the mid-fifth century B.C. have led to this period being called a Golden Age in the city-state’s history. The state of the surviving ancient evidence, which consistently comes more[…]

The Life of Alcibiades: Liar, Coward, and Traitor of Ancient Athens

During the course of the Peloponnesian War, Alcibiades changed his allegiance on several occasions. Introduction Alcibiades Cleiniou Scambonides, meaning Alcibiades, son of Cleinias, from the deme of Skambonidai; c. 450–404 B.C.E.), was a prominent Athenian statesman, orator, and general. He was the last famous member of his mother’s aristocratic family, the Alcmaeonidae, which fell from[…]

The Peloponnesian War and Its Aftermath at Athens

The losses that Athens suffered in the Peloponnesian War show the sad consequences of the repeated unwillingness to negotiate peace. Introduction Athens and Sparta had cooperated in the fight against Xerxes’ great invasion of Greece in 480–479 B.C., but by the middle of the fifth century B.C. relations between the two most powerful states of[…]

The Plague at Athens, 430-427 BCE

The epidemic killed upwards of 1/3 of the population; a population which numbered 250,000-300,000 in the 5th century BCE. Introduction In the 2nd year of the Peloponnesian War, 430 BCE, an outbreak of plague erupted in Athens. The illness would persist throughout scattered parts of Greece and the eastern Mediterranean until finally dying out in[…]

Athens and Persia: The Peace of Callias, 5th Century BCE

Even if a treaty by this name was never drawn up, it is true that there was an end to the hostilities between Athens and Persia in the mid-5th century BCE. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The Peace of Callias (aka Kallias) refers to a possible peace treaty made in the mid-5th century BCE between Athens and Persia following the Persian Wars. The[…]

The Delian League: Revenge and Hellenic Liberation

The alliance’s name derives from the island of Delos, where the League originally housed its treasury. By Christopher PlaneauxLecturer in Classical StudiesIndiana University Origins Down to the Battle of Eurymedon Introduction The modern term Delian League refers to the primarily maritime συμμᾰχία or symmachy (offensive-defensive alliance) among various Greek poleis, which emerged after the second Mede invasion of the[…]

The Peloponnesian League and Spartan Dominance

The League gave Sparta protection from uprisings within its own borders and eventually secured its dominance in the region. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The Peloponnesian League (c. 550 BCE – c. 366 BCE) was a loose confederation of Greek city-states led by Sparta. The League was the oldest and longest-lasting political association in the ancient[…]

Thucydides on Brasidas: The Most Athenian of Spartans

Thucydides placed Brasidas’s Homeric ending in a singularly admirable light. By Nathan A. JenningsNATO Planner, Afghanistan In his seminal work, The Peloponnesian War, the ancient historian Thucydides employs numerous characters from the storied conflict as devices to reveal competing aspects of human nature. Among the varied personalities exposed by the tensions of war, the Spartan commander[…]

Draco’s Law Code in Ancient Athens

The laws aided and legitimized the political power of the aristocracy and allowed them to consolidate their control of the land and poor. By Antonios Loizides Introduction Draco was an aristocrat who in 7th century BCE Athens was handed the task of composing a new body of laws. We have no particular clues concerning his[…]

From the “National” to the Political Consciousness in 6th Century BCE Athens

Constructing a “national” identity of the Athenian inhabitants during the tyrannical governance of Peisistratos and his sons. This paper addresses the construction of a “national” identity of the Athenian inhabitants during the tyrannical governance of Peisistratos and his sons (561/0-511/0 BCE)[1] mainly through a series of religious practices, such as the transfer of cults from[…]