Fifth-century Athens

Fifth-century Athens is the Greek city-state of Athens in the time from 480 to 404 BC. Formerly known as the Golden Age of Athens, the later part being the Age of Pericles, it was buoyed by political hegemony, economic growth and cultural flourishing. The period began in 478 BC, after the defeat of the Persian invasion, when an Athenian-led coalition of city-states, known as the Delian League, confronted the Persians to keep the liberated Asian Greek cities free.

After peace was made with Persia in the mid-5th century BC, what started as an alliance of independent city-states became an Athenian empire after Athens abandoned the pretense of parity among its allies and relocated the Delian League treasury from Delos to Athens, where it funded the building of the Athenian Acropolis, put half its population on the public payroll, and maintained its position as the dominant naval power in the Greek world.

With the empire's funds, military dominance and its political fortunes guided by statesman and orator Pericles, Athens produced some of the most influential and enduring cultural artifacts of the Western tradition. The playwrights Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides all lived and worked in 5th-century BC Athens, as did the historians Herodotus and Thucydides, the physician Hippocrates and the philosophers Plato and Socrates. Athens's patron goddess was Athena, from whom it derived the name.


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