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Greece » Sterea » Attica » Athens » Athens History » The Decline (404 – 338 b.C.)
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The Decline (404 – 338 b.C.)

After Sparta had conquered Athens, Lysandros installed on power the “thirty tyrants”, a group of thirty aristocrats who established an oligarchic regime and disintegrated the Athenian democracy. The tyrants remained in power until 403 b.C., when Thrasybulos, a brave democrat with a few followers, occupied the fort of Phyle, expelled them and restored democracy. During the persecution of oligarchs that followed, Socrates, who had supported the oligarchic regime, was arrested and sentenced to death by drinking the hemlock, which took place in 399 b.C.

Even in this period, the conflicts between Athens and Sparta never ceased; in 394 b.C. the Athenian general Konon defeated the Spartan fleet off Knidos in Asia Minor. After this victory the Athenians reconstructed the demolished Makra Tehe (the “long walls”) and the forts of Piraeus. Later on, Athens allied to Thebes who led by their generals Epaminondas and Pelopidas defeated the Spartans at Lefktra in 371 b.C.; after this victory Thebes became the leading power in Greece.
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The Athenian democracy kept declining and every day life changed; even the language and the alphabet had been simplified. But the city was still an intellectual center; new schools were founded, the most important of which was the Academia of Plato and, a bit later, the Lykeion of Aristotle, who came from Stagira in Macedonia and was a student of Plato.

In this period a new power rises at the North: Macedonia. The Macedonians under the leadership of their capable king Philippus the Second occupied the rest of Macedonia, Thrace and Epirus; the conflict between them and the cities of southern Greece was inevitable. The Athenian orator Demosthenes struggles to convince Athenians to resist the Macedonians, but it is an effort in vain; the cities of the South, although allied, are defeated by Phillippus at the battle of Haeronia, in which Alexander, the young son of the king was distinguished as the leader of the cavalry of the Macedonians. Thus, entire Greece is under Macedonians who, either occupy the cities, or they force them (it is the case of Athens) to become their allies. Ever since Athens loses its independence and, although formally independent, it is always forced to follow the choices of those who have the real power.
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