This is a broad timeline of events during the 5th century, commonly refered to as the "Classical Age of Greece".
Dates are all BC. References are to ancient texts which can be viewed free at the Perseus webpage (no annoying registering form or anything) of course if there is anyone out there who would like to transcribe texts to E2...
I've used the following shorthand:
- Second Persian Invasion, starts well but ends in failure.
Battle of Thermopylae (H7.206-232)
Defeat of Persians at Salamis (H8.83-8.97)
- Defeat of Persians at Plataea (H9.48-9.75)
Athens founds the Delian League as an anti-Persian alliance (T1.96-1.97)
Continuing warfare against Persia under the leadership of Athenian aristocrat Cimon (T1.98-1.112 and Plutarch Cimon)
Aeschylus' "The Persians" is produced, highlighting supposed differences between Greeks and Barbarians (Aeschylus The Persians)
- Themistocles, hero of the Persian War is ostracized and goes to Persia (T1.35-1.138 and Plutarch Themistocles)
- Naxos attempts to leave the Delian League and is forced to remain in League through the application of a siege.
Thucydides says this is the first time the original Delian League consitution was broken.
- 468/7 (approximate)
- Persians defeated at the battle of Eurymedon (T1.100) according to Thucyd the "Athenians and their Allies" captured or destroyed 200 Phoenician triremes
- Thasos revolts from Delian League. this is crushed through use of overwhelming military force (T1.100).
- An Earthquake occurs in Sparta (T.101), sparking a revolt of the Helots and some of the Perioeci who holed up in Ithome
Sparta appeals for help from the Athenians, who send a force under the control of Cimon (T1.102-1.103).
This force is turned back by the Spartans who get scared at the thought of a large Athenian force on their lands during a Helot revolt.
Sparta is forced to agree terms with the rebels, letting them leave the country.
The Athenians settle them in Naupactus.
Ephialtes and Pericles institute reforms (Plutarch Pericles 10) which shift power to the Assembly.
Cimon is ostracised (T1.39-1.146) and relations between Sparta and Athens deteriorate with the swapping of ultimatums (Plutarch Pericles 9-10)
- Pericles prominent in Athenian politics (T2.65 and Plutarch Pericles 9)
- The First Peloponnesian War.
- Athenians fighting the Persians in Egypt.
Persia manages (T1.109-1.110) to destroy a large to destroy most of the Athenian force including a large fleet
- Parthenon built in present form under the direction of Pericles (Plutarch Pericles 12-14). This is financed by the tribute of the 'allies'
- Athens looses control of Boeotia. (T1.113)
- The Thirty Year Peace T1.115
Chalcidean revolt against Athenian rule is unsuccessful (T1.114)
- 445 (approximate)
- Athenian decree requires members of the Delian League (now pretty much an empire) to use Athenian weights, measures and coins
- Samian revolt against Athens (T1.115-1.117)
- Outbreak of Second Peloponnesian War (T1.118-2.17)
- Pericles funeral oration (T2.34-2.46)
- The great plague of Athens wipes out a good sized chunk (T2.47-2.55) of the population and doesn't do much for morale.
Pericles is among the casualties.
- Mytilene revolts with the reported intent of forging a Lesbian state (T3.2-3.50).
This sparks a heated debate in which many suggest killing all the men and enslaving the women (T3.36).
This motion was passed, but the next day the Athenians decided they might have been a tad harsh, so they changed their minds.
- Leontini in Sicily sends to Athens for help against the Spartan-allied Syracuse (T3.86-3.88).
Leontini claims that Athens must send help because of Leontini's Ionian origin. Athens sends a small fleet, claiming it was aiding its Ionian cousins, but really (many would suspect) in an attempt to ensure supplies to Athens from the Western med' and/or cut off the corn supply from the western med' to Sparta.
- Peace of Nicias (T5.13-5.24).
The Athenian diplomat Nicias manages to arrange a peace between Athens and Sparta (Plutarch Nicias 9-10).
The peace does not last long as there are breaches of the treaty on both sides as well as a provocative Athens-Argos alliance.
- The Sicillian Expedition. Athens sends a vast fleet to seize control of Sicily (T6.8-6.32) on the pretext of assisting Leontini.
Nicias claims that such a campaign would be suicide, so the Assembly puts Nicias in command, much to his distress (Plutarch Nicias 12).
The campaign starts out well, but rapidly turns in favour of the Syracusians (T6.94).
Nicias sends for reinforcements and asks to be removed from command as he is bedridden with a 'stone' (T7.10-7.18).
The Athenians reply that he should be quite able to command the army from his bed. Reinforcements are sent by Athens. Sparta responds by sending a detachment to aid Syracuse. The Athenian reinforcements are decimated in a disastrous naval encounter and by a plague. After a last brave effort to capture Syracuse (T7.85).
Nicias is forced to surrender himself in order to save the lives of his men. This campaign drained a huge proportion of Athens' money and military might, turning the tide of war well against them.
- Alliance between Sparta and Persian King Darius (T8.18). The agreement pledges Darius to war with Athens Persians agree to provide money to build up the Spartan navy.
- Civil Strife in Athens between those in favour of Democracy and those who support oligarchy (T8.45-8.98).
For a brief period Athens is ruled by the Oligarchic Council of 400.
- Focus of the war turns to the Hellespont; the route through which the Black Sea grain supply comes to support Athens.
Battle of Aigospotamae.
Athenian fleet obliterated. (X2.1.20-2.1.32). This is a direct result of the Persian funding of the Spartan fleet.
Athenian surrender (X2.2.1-2.2.24).
The remaining fleet is surrendered except for 12 Triremes, the walls are torn down and an oligarchic council (the Thirty Tyrants) is put in place (Plutarch Lysander 14-16).
- The Thirty Tyrants are overthrown after excessive use of the death sentence (X2.4.1-2.4.43).
Democracy is restored (Diod 14.32-14.33).