Power And Politics: Athens' Fall From Grace

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Athens’ governmental shift in 501BC was unprecedented and innovative, being the first notable implementation of democracy in an ancient world inundated in monarchy. This form of government, founded by Cleisthenes, has been instrumental in Western Civilization, especially since the modern age. Democracy gave Athens life, providing not only a well functioning governing system, but also enabling the city-state to grow and survive multiple Persian invasions. However, at the dawn of the Athenian empire, and the rise of Pericles, democracy began to die, and Greeks lost their love of freedom when they sought power and glory through their military conquests. The Athenians spurning of democracy can be seen through their lust for power and glory, their mistreatment of other states, and their lack elected leadership.
After the Persian war, Athens formed the Delian league in association with several other cities which resided in and by the Aegean Sea. The primary purpose of the league, as recorded by the historian Thucydides was to “avenge the wrongs they suffered by ravaging the territory of the king” . The cities in the Delian league met at the Island of Delos and were in treaty to protect against another Persian invasion. However, soon Persia ceased to be a threat, especially when the Peace of Callias was inacted, and the Greco-Persian wars came to an official end. The League however, did not disband, and instead continued until the end of the Peloponnesian war.
Even though the Delian League began as a pact between city-states, it slowly progressed towards a union of countries under the power and influence of Athens. Athens controlled not only the resources, but also the navy of the Delian League, giving them the opportunity to usurp their authority over the other city-states within the league. As the Athenian economy and military became intertwined with the Delian League, the unofficial Athenian Empire was born. In the second half of the fifth century BC, Athens became, as historian Chris Butler states, an “imperial democracy” by holding hegemony over its empire.
Because of their excessive rule over the Delian League, several cities attempted to end their affiliation with the League. However, all the revolutions were quickly suppressed by Athens. The most notable of these include the island of Thasos, which revolted when they saw their interests threatened by the...

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