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Highlights of Ancient Greek History: 421 BCE to 146 BCE

Athens had dominated the seas during battles and wars for so long, it was bound to falter at some point. By the end of the Peloponnesian War, Athens learned that too much of a good thing can prove detrimental. In this article, you will learn about the downfall of Athens, as well as the contributions of Plato to the ancient Greek world.

In 415 BC, Athens sent out a large number of forces to attack Syracuse in Sicily. The attack was not a success and failed miserably. The entire force was destroyed. The final phase of the war is often called the Decelean War or the Ionian War. During this time, Sparta, which was now receiving support form Persia, caused rebellions to occur in subject states associated with Athens. States in the Aegean Sea and Ionia were undermining the empire of Athens. Eventually, the naval influence that Athens once enjoyed was no longer a factor in the war. The fleet suffered destruction at Aegospotami. This marked the conclusion of the war. The following year, Athens surrendered.

427 BCE: Plato is born.

Plato is best known as one of the most distinguished students associated with Socrates. As an author of philosophical dialogues, he was also acknowledged as a mathematician and the founder of the Academy in Athens. This would become the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. The foundations for Western philosophy and science were laid down by Plato, his mentor Socrates, and his own student , Aristotle. Plato would later become revered for his dialogues that he wrote, which have been used (to the day) to teach a variety of subjects, including logic, rhetoric, mathematics, and of course, philosophy.

399 BCE: Socrates is condemned to death for impiety and “corrupting” the youth.

What we know about the trial and demise of Socrates has been told by Xenophon, who describes the great philosopher as delivering a defiant defense on purpose. It was his opinion that Socrates believed that he would have been better off dead. Some say that Socrates truly believed that his time to die had really come.

Both Xenophon and Plato agree that Socrates had chances to escape. It was known that his followers were successful in bribing the prison guards. However, the philosopher chose to stay and meet his fate. Possible reasons for accepting his death was that he believed fleeing from his sentence would be an indication that he feared death and believed that no true philosopher would do such a thing. He believed that if he fled Athens, his teaching would still cause displeasure in those he met.

146 BCE: The Greek city-states become part of the Roman Empire.