While working my way through a plan to continue and eventually complete my review of The Histories by Herodotus I started getting stuck on all the names and dates; the places, the battles, the people, the customs; not to mention the architecture, the sculptures, the poetry, the dramas, the pottery. Yes, even the pottery made history. The Greeks were awesome!
So I did a time line – really for my own reference.
And it was kind of hard for me – you know I’m not an expert at this sort of thing: Ancient History. I just dig it. And I read Herodotus just about exclusively as pure literature. I love the language he uses and let’s face it, it’s not too politically correct by our standards so is unconstrained by contemporary morality, intellectual fads; fashions; and fetishes. He had his own! But by most standards throughout history, he has been considered even-handed; just not terribly honest.
In any case, considering the broad sweep of historic events leading up to and including the Persian Wars as told by Herodotus, here is a timeline. I took it all the way out to Alexander the Great and his conquest of the Persian Empire which is way past Herodotus’ time; but provides the grand sweep of history and the struggles for control of the Mediterranean kingdoms.
Incidentally, if you teach history, make your students create a timeline; it’s a good assignment! I learned a lot by doing this one.
Here’s a summary as it pertains to The Histories:
600-510BC – Croesus King of Lydia has pretty much conquered and controls the Ionian Greeks in Asia Minor – but rules them well and let’s face it, keeps them from bickering and feuding with each other. And he digs them. He thinks Greek stuff is cool.
But out east, the Persians and Medes are gathering steam and conquer Lydia. They had asked for support from the Ionian Greeks in overthrowing Croesus; didn’t get it, and didn’t forget nor forgive. Cyrus the Great does all kinds of great stuff, is included in the Bible, and is generally super awesome.
Egypt get conquered by Cambyses II, Cyrus’ successor, and is ruled badly by him and his administration. That’s about where we’ve left off so far in our review.
Meanwhile back home, Ionian Athens goes from being a backwater to a democratic, political, military, mercantile, and cultural powerhouse – a region on the rise.
510-449 BC – The Persian Wars concluding for sake of argument in 449 BC at the Peace of Calias – by then the Greeks were already well under way with the first Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta which I’ll cover in detail when we get into Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War, another ancient classic; quite different in tone than Herodotus.
449-404 BC – Athens starts out on top, but due to some almost inconceivably boneheaded warmongering and bad, bad governmental policy and decisions, squanders all their advantage and gets taken over by Sparta. Sounds kind of familiar…Oops! This isn’t a political blog!
404-371 BC – Sparta rules their subjects poorly and in 371 BC the invincible Spartan army is destroyed by an even more invincible Theben army at the battle of Leuctra.
371-323 BC – Thebes is top dog until Alexander of Macedon of Alexander the Great fame razes their city to the ground in 335 BC and basically kills everybody in the city or sells them as slaves.
By the time Alexander the Great dies in 323 BC he has conquered everyone in the Mediterranean, all of Persia, and up to the northwest part of India. It’s the end of the Achaemenid Empire and the end of my timeline which goes way past Herodotus, but hopefully puts The Histories in context for easy, helpful reference.
It’s still an awful lot of names and dates – don’t worry about it, we’ll cover everything in good time!
|Year BC||Persian Kings||Greek Personage||Events|
|595||Croesus King of Lydia|
|594||Reform of Solon in Athens|
|589||Pisistratus (b) ?|
|561||Pisistraus Benevolent Tyrant of Athens Takes Power|
|559||Cyrus the Great|
|546||Croesus defeated by Cyrus|
|540||Ionian Cities in Asia Minor Controlled by Persia|
|530||Cambyses II||Aristides (b)|
|527||Pisistraus hands power off to sons Hippias and Hyparchus|
|525||Aeschylus (b) Themisticles (b)||Persian Conquest of Egypt|
|522||Darius the Great||Pindar (b)|
|514||Hipparchus Murdered – Athenian Democratic Revolution|
|510||Cimon (b)||Hippias flees to Persia – Later Guiding Persian Attack at Marathon|
|507||Cleisthenes establishes democratic legal rules in Athens|
|495||Pythagoras (d) Pericles (b)|
|494||Persians supress Ionian revolt|
|486||Xerxes the Great|
|480||Euripides (b) Pheidias (b) Myron (b)||Battle of Thermopylae/Artemisium/Salamis|
|479||Battle of Plataea/Mycale – Greeks Capture Sestos|
|478||Greeks Capture Byzantium|
|477||War of the Delian League (Athens vs. Persia)|
|469||Socrates (b)||Cimon wins battle of the Eurymedon River|
|460||Hippocrates (b) Thucydides (b)||First Peloponnesian war|
|450||Alcibades (b) Cimon (d)||Apogee of Athens|
|449||Peace of Calias – War of Delian League Over|
|446||First Peloponnesian war ends|
|443||Pericles dominates Athenian politics|
|433||Parthenon completed in Athens|
|431||Second Peloponnesian War Begins|
|429||Pericles (d) Plato (b)|
|406||Sophocles (d) Euripides (d)|
|404||Artaxerses II||Alcibades (d)||Second Peloponnesian War Ends – Athens subjected to Sparta|
|371||Battle of Leuctra Sparta defeated by Thebes|
|356||Alexander the Great (b)|
|350||Mausoleum constructed at Halikarnassos|
|336||Darius III||Alexander crowned king of Macedonia|
|335||Battle of Thebes – Thebes Destroyed|
|329||Alexander the Great||End of Acheanamid Persian Dynasty|
|323||Alexander the Great (d) Aristotle (d)|
The TImeline for History students is a really good idea and I hope that many teachers implement it…thanks for taking the time to lay out this information— it really helps to sort out the pieces of this somewhat complicated piece of history!
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Yes, the ancient Greeks can be confusing compared to say, the ancient Romans. We are a lot more familiar with the drama of ancient Rome, with Shakespeare plays (Julius Cesare) to Hollywood movies (Cleopatra) and probably because of this we think we can identify with Romans better – but Romans were very culturally different from us; probably as much as the Greeks were. We just aren’t that familiar with ancient Greek history and characters. There is a lot to learn and understand by studying them though; and a lot of tremendous stories. Glad you liked the timeline idea – it was harder than I thought and I know I left out a lot of good stuff. It’s a work in progress.
c. 725 Lelantine War between Chalcis and Eretria . Many Greek cities are allied with one or the other. Dates before this time uncertain.
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Thanks for stopping by! Yes, the feuding goes way back and is still be unraveled as far as I know.