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The Greeks strive for great advances in the higher virtues of civilization. Art, philosophy, drama, and mathematics are ripe to flourish.

In the history of Ancient Greece there is a period of one hundred and fifty years that is known as the “classical period.” From the Battle of Salamis to the death of Alexander (480–323 BCE), this era saw the victory of the Greek city-states over the Persian Empire in the Aegean Sea, accompanied by an unprecedented flurry of creativity in the arts and sciences.

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This long century represents the high point in a political, social, and economic system centered around the concepts of city and citizenship. While these two terms would not have meant the same thing to all Greek communities, they represented a common point of reference. The classical period coincided with the preeminence of Athens, which, bolstered by innovative political institutions, established political hegemony around the Aegean Sea. In political and military terms, the period is characterized by the creation of various leagues. These alliances between cities, initially designed for protection against Persian invasions (490–479 BCE) would later lead to heightened political tension once victory had been achieved. They became the principal instruments of the Peloponnesian War (431–404 BCE), in which Sparta and Athens fought for supremacy in the Greek world. The strength of Greek culture is embodied during all of the classical period by the ceaseless curiosity and questioning of its schools of philosophy. From the coasts of Asia Minor to Sicily, their reasoning resulted in the emergence of many new ideas in mathematics, geometry, physics, astronomy, and medicine. Similarly inspired, Greek artists and artisans developed new styles and modes of representation and distinguished themselves in the fields of architecture, sculpture, ceramic arts, and the writing of tragedies.

Did you know?

The city of Athens used most of the Delian League’s war chest to build the Parthenon in the fifth century BCE. The crowning monument of the Acropolis was transformed into a church in the 10th century and a mosque in the 15th century. Used to store gunpowder during the Morean War, it was destroyed in an explosion in 1687 after being hit by Venetian mortar fire.