When Egypt becomes the possession of Persian Darius I in 525 BC, the son-in-law of Cyrus the Great will cause a change in the way the Athenians and Spartans view politics and protecting their land. Darius I (later called Darius the Great) was the third Zoroastrian emperor to rule over the land. In this article, you will learn about the change in power that took place in Athens and conflicts involving the Persians.
The Persian Empire is believed to have been at its strongest when Darius was in power. The collapse of the empire is usually attributed to his death, which also marked the coronation of his son, Xerxes, who took his place.
508 BC: Around 515 BC, Hippias became the sole ruler of Athens, but in 508 BC, the tyrant was forced to leave the city. Before the end of his rule, Hippias gained entryway into Darius’ court at Susa by arranging the marriage between his daughter, Archedike, to Aiantides (son of Hippoklos), who was the tyrant of Lampsakos. A free, democratic Athens without Hippias spelled trouble for the Spartans, who later believed that it would affect Spartan power if their rival city did not have the heavy hand of a tyrant to keep them in line. They made a move to recall Hippias and help him regain his tyranny.
However, during this time, Hippias had fled to Persia and the Persians threatened to attack Athens if they did not restore power to Hippias. Ignoring the threats, the Athenians decided that it was more important to fight for democracy in their city. These events would play an important role in the Ionian Revolt (lasting between 499 BC and 493 BC) centered on opposing Persian rule by tyranny.
507 BC: The increasing strength of democracy in Athens took place when Greek reformer, Cleisthenes, became the new ruler of the city. Cleisthenes belonged to noble Athenian bloodlines. In history, he is given credit for reforming the constitution of ancient Athens and increasing the foundation of democracy. Sometimes, he is referred to as the “father of Athenian democracy.”
490 BC: Darius was a powerful ruler, but he was not indestructible. In 490 BC, the Athenians were victorious in defeating the great ruler at Marathon. The milestone was made possible with the help of Themistocles and Miltiades. Making a name for himself during the early years of Athenian democracy, Themistocles represented the politician with a more forward-thinking approach to government. It was he who pushed for the Athenians to create a stronger naval presence, which would play an important role in defeating Persian forces. At his suggestion, the Athenians built a fleet comprised of 200 triremes.
As for Miltiades the Younger, he established himself as the tyrant of the Greek colonies around 516 BC, taking land by force from his rivals and keeping the people as prisoners. Joining the Ionian Revolt in 499 BC against Persian rule, he made nice with Athens. He was responsible for capturing islands that he eventually allowed Athens to take over. When the revolt collapsed, Miltiades fled to Athens to avoid any repercussion from the Persians. He would later lead an Athenian expedition in 489 BC, which consisted of 70 ships, against the Greek-inhabited islands that supported Persia. In the end, the expedition was a failure.