5th century BC
The 5th century BC started the first day of
500 BCand ended the last day of 401 BC.
This century saw the beginning of a period of philosophical brilliance among Western civilizations, particularly the
Greekswhich would continue all the way through the 4th centuryuntil the time of Alexander the Great. Ancient Greek philosophydeveloped during the 5th century BC, setting the foundation for Western ideology. In Athensand elsewhere in the Mediterraneanworld, the 5th century marked a high point in the development of political institutions, art, architecture, and literature.
The century was also notable for the
Persian Wars, fought between the Greek cities, and the vast Persian Empire. Determined to punish Athensfor supporting a revolt by conquered Greek cities in Asia Minor, King Darius Isent several armies against them, only to have his plans first thwarted by a storm and later by a defeat at the Battle of Marathon. His son Xerxes attempted to finish the job 10 years later, and succeeded in capturing Athensand burning it to the ground, only to be defeated later on land at Plataea. In the latter part of the century the Greeks became locked in a bitter war among themselves, with the major cities Athensand Spartacompeting for absolute domination.
*Demotic becomes the dominant script of ancient Egypt
499 BC— Aristagoras, acting on behalf of the Persian Empire, leads a failed attack on the rebellious island of Naxos.
* 499 BC —
Aristagorasinstigates the Ionic Revolt, beginning the Persian Warsbetween Greeceand Persia.
* 499 BC —
Sardisdestroyed by Athenianand Ionian troops.
498 BC— Leontini subjugated by Hippocrates of Gela.
* 498 BC — Alexander I succeeds his father Amyntas I as king of
497 BC— Potidaeais struck by a tsunami.
496 BC— Battle of Lake Regillus: A legendary early Roman victory, won over either the Etruscans or the Latins.
* 496 BC — King Goujian of Yue defeats and banishes King Fuchai of Wu, gaining a temporary hegemony in ancient
Chinaduring the Spring and Autumn Period.
495 BC— Templeto Mercury on the Circus Maximusin Romeis built.
494 BC— The Battle of Lade, where Persianstake back Ionia.
* 494 BC — Two tribunes of the plebs and two plebeian aediles are elected for the first time in Rome: the office of the
* 494 BC — The year
Romechanged from an Aristocratic Republicto a Liberalized Republic.
* 493 BC —
Piraeus, the port town of Athens, is founded.
* 493 BC —
Coriolanuscaptures the Volscian town of Coriolifor Rome.
492 BC— First expedition of King Darius I of Persiaagainst Greece, under the leadership of his son-in-law Mardonius. This marks the start of the campaign that culminated in the Battle of Marathonin 490 BC.
491 BC— Leotychidas IIsucceeds his cousin Demaratusas king of Sparta.
* 491 BC —
Gelobecomes Tyrantof Gela.
September 12, 490 BC— The Battle of Marathon, where Darius Iof Persiais defeated by the Atheniansand Plataeansunder Miltiades.
* 490 BC — Phidippides runs 40 kilometers from Marathon to
Athensto announce the news of the Greek victory; origin of the marathon long-distance race.
489 BCCities of Rhodesunite and start construction of the new city of Rhodes.
488 BC— Leonidas Isucceeds his brother Cleomenes Ias king of Spartaafter Cleomenes is judged insane.
487 BC— Egyptrevolts against the Persians.
* 487 BC —
Aeginaand Athensgo to war.
* 487 BC —
Athenian Archonshipbecomes elective by lot, an important milestone in the move towards radical Athenian democracy.
486 BC— First part of the Grand Canal of Chinais built.
* 486 BC —
Xerxes Isucceeds Darius Ias Great King of Persia.
* 486 BC —
Egyptrevolts against Persian rule.
* 486 BC —
First Buddhist Councilat Rejgaha, under the patronage of King Ajatasattu. Oral tradition established for the first time.
485 BC— Xerxes Isucceeds Darius I as King of Persia.
484 BC— Athenian playwright Aeschyluswins a poetry prize.
* 484 BC —
Xerxes Iabolishes the Kingdom of Babeland removes the golden statue of Bel ( Marduk, Merodach).
* 484 BC — Persians regain control of
483 BC— Xerxes Iof Persia starts planning his expedition against Greece.
481 BC— The Congress at the Isthmus of Corinthends a war between Athensand Aegina.
480 BC— King Xerxes Iof Persia sets out to conquer Greece.
* 480 BC —
Cimonand his friends burn horse-bridles as an offering to Athenaand join the marines.
* 480 BC —
Pleistarchussucceeds his father Leonidas Ias king of Sparta.
* August, 480 BC —
Battle of Artemisium— The Persian fleet fights an inconclusive battle with the Greek allied fleet.
August 11, 480 BC — The Battle of Thermopylae, a costly victory by Persians over the Greeks.
September 23, 480 BC — Battle of Salamisbetween Greeceand Persia, leading to a Greek victory.
* 480 BC — Battle of Himera — The Carthaginians under
Hamilcarare defeated by the Greeksof Sicily, led by Gelon of Syracuse.
* 480 BC — Roman troops march against the Veientines.
479 BC— The Battle of Plataea, the Greeks defeat the Persians, ending the Persian Wars.
* 479 BC —
Battle of Mycale.
478 BC— Establishment of the Temple of Confuciusat (modern-day) Qufu.
477 BC— The Delian Leagueis inaugurated.
476 BC— Archidamus IIsucceeds his grandfather Leotychides, who is banished to Tegea, as king of Sparta.
475 BC— King Xuan of Zhou becomes King of the Zhou Dynasty.
474 BC— Battle of Cumae— The Syracusans under Hiero Idefeat the Etruscansand end Etruscan expansion in southern Italy.
* 474 BC — Greek
poet Pindarmoves to Thebes.
473 BC— The Chinese State of Wu is annexed by the State of Yue.
472 BC— Carystusin Euboeais forced to join the Delian League. (approximate date)
* 472 BC — The
tragedy" The Persians" is produced by Aeschylus.
471 BC— Athenian politician Themistoclesis ostracized.
470 BC— The philosopher Socratesis born.
468 BC— Sophocles, Greek playwright, defeats Aeschylusfor the Athenian Prize.
* 468 BC —
Antiumcaptured by Roman forces.
468 BC— King Zhending of Zhoubecomes King of the Zhou Dynastyof China.
466 BC— Delian Leaguedefeats Persiaat the Battle of Eurymedon.
* 466 BC — The Greek
colonyof Taras, in Magna Graecia, is defeated by " Iapyges", a native population of ancient Apulia; Tarentine monarchyfalls, with the installation of a democracyand the expulsion of the Pythagoreans.
465 BC— King Xerxes Iof the Persian Empireis murdered by Artabanus the Hyrcanian. He is succeeded by Artaxerxes I, possibly with Artabanus acting as Regent.
* 465 BC —
Thasosrevolts from the Delian League.
464 BC— An earthquakein ancient Sparta, Greece leads to a Helot uprising and strained relations with Athens, one of the factors that lead to the Peloponnesian War.
* 464 BC —
RegentKing Artabanus of Persiais killed by his charge Artaxerxes I.
* 464 BC —
Third Messenian war.
462 BC— The revolt of Thasosagainst the Delian Leaguecomes to an end with their surrender.
461 BC— Athenian politician Cimonis ostracized.
460 BC— Egyptrevolts against Persia, starting a six year war. An Athenian force sent to attack Cyprusis diverted to support this revolt.
* 460 BC —
Cincinnatusbecomes consulof the Roman Republic.
459 BC— Pleistoanaxsucceeds his father Pleistarchusas king of Sparta.
*459 BC — Destruction of the Sicilian town of
Morgantinaby Douketios, leader of the Sikels, according to Diodoros Siculus.
*459 BC —
Ezraleads the second body of Jewsfrom Babylonto Jerusalem.
458 BC— Greek playwright Aeschyluscompletes the Oresteia, a trilogythat tells the story of a family blood feud. The plays will have a great influence on future writers.
*458 BC —
Cincinnatusis named dictator of the Roman Republicin order to defend it against Aequi. Sixteen days later, after defeating the invaders at the Battle of Mons Algidus, he resigns and returns to his farm.
457 BC— Athenian statesman Pericles' greatest reform, allowing common people to serve in any state office, inaugurates Golden Ageof Ancient Athens.
*457 BC — Battle of Tanagra — The
Spartans defeat the Athenians, near Thebes.
*457 BC —
Battle of Oenophyta— The Athenians defeat the Thebans and take control of Boeotia.
*457 BC — Decree of
Artaxerxes Ito re-establish the city government of Jerusalem. See Ezra 7, Daniel 9 and Nehemiah 1 in Old Testament.
455 BC— A thirty years' truceconcluded between Athensand Lacedaemon.
*455 BC —
Euripidespresents his first known tragedy, " Peliades", in the Athenian festivalof Dionysia.
454 BC— Athensloses a fleet and possibly as many as 50 000 men in a failed attempt to aid an Egyptian revolt against Persia.
*454 BC — The
treasuryof the Delian Leagueis moved from Delosto Athens.
*454 BC — Hostilities between
Segestaand Selinunte, two Greek cities on Sicily.
453 BC— Taiyuan, a city in China, gets flooded.
451 BC— Athensmakes peace with Spartaand wages a war against Persia.
*451 BC — The
decemviricome to power in the Roman Republic. They enact the twelve tables, the foundation of Roman Law.
450 BC— Battle of Salamis: Atheniansunder Cimondefeat the Persian fleet.
*450 BC — Perdiccas II succeeds Alexander I as king of
Macedonia (approximate date).
449 BC— The Peace of Calliasbetween the Delian Leagueand Persia ends the Persian Wars.
* 449 BC — Construction begins on the
Temple of Hephaestusin Athens.
* 449 BC — The
Twelve Tablesare promulgated to the people of Rome— the first public laws of the Roman Republic.
* 449 BC — Romans revolt against the
decemvirate. The decemvirsresign and the tribunateis re-established.
* 449 BC —
Herodotuscompletes his "History", which records the events concerning the Persian War.
448 BC— Phidiasfinishes a 9 meter high statue of Athenaon the Acropolis.
447 BC— Athensbegins construction of the Parthenon, at the initiative of Pericles.
* 447 BC — Battle of Coronea — The Athenians are driven out of
* 447 BC —
Achaeus of Eretria, a Greek playwright, shows his first play.
445 BC— Periclesdeclares Thirty Years Peacebetween Athensand Sparta.
* 445 BC —
Artaxerxes Igives Nehemiahpermission to rebuild Jerusalem.
* 445 BC — The
Lacus Curtiusis created by a lightning strike in Rome. It is consecrated by Gaius, Mettiusor Marcus Curtius.
443 BC— The Roman Republiccreates the office of censor, initially exclusive to patricians.
* 443 BC — Foundation of the Greek
colonyof Thuriiin Italy. Its colonists include Herodotusand Lysias.
442 BC— Sophocleswrites "Antigone".
441 BC— King Ai of Zhoubecomes King of the Zhou Dynastyof Chinabut dies before the year's end.
440 BC— Faminein Rome.
* 440 BC —
King Kao of Zhoubecomes King of the Zhou Dynastyof China.
* 440 BC —
Merondetermines the two points of the solstice.
* 440 BC —
Democritusproposes the existence of indivisible particles, which he calls atoms.
439 BC— Cincinnatusagain becomes dictator of the Roman Republic; during his term he defeats the Volsci.
* 439 BC — According to
legend, Gaius Servilius Ahalasaves Rome from Spurius Maelius.
438 BC— Ictinusand Callicratesfinish construction of the Parthenon, located on Athens' Acropolis.
435 BC— The Statue of Zeus at Olympiaby Phidias, one of the seven wonders of the world, is completed.
434 BC— Conflict occurs between the Greek island of Kerkyraand its mother-city Corinth.
* 434 BC —
Anaxagorastries to square the circlewith straightedgeand compass.
433 BC— Battle of Sybotabetween Corcyraand Corinth.
* 433 BC (or later) — Burial of Marquis Yi of Zeng in
432 BC— Athensadopts a 19-year cycle of synchronizing solar and lunar calendars.
* 432 BC —
Athensdefeats Corinthin the battle of Potidaea.
* 432 BC — The Greek
colonyof Heraclea is founded by Tarentum and Thurii.
431 BC— The Peloponnesian Warbegins between Spartaand Athensand their allies.
* 431 BC — Defeat of the
Aequiansby the Romans under the dictator A. Postumius Tubertus.
* 431 BC — The Greek
physicianand philosopher Empedoclesarticulates the notion that the human body has four humors: blood, bile, black bile, and phlegm, a belief that dominates medical thinking for centuries.
430 BC— Athenssuffers a major pestilence, believed to be caused by epidemic typhus.
430 BC— First performance of Sophocles's " Oedipus the King".
429 BC— Battle of Chalcis— Chalcidiansand their allies defeat Athens.
* 429 BC — Battle of Naupactus —
Phormiodefeats the Peloponnesianfleet.
* 429 BC — An outbreak of plague kills over one-third of the population of
* 429 BC — King
Sitalkesof Thraceinvades Macedonia.
428 BC— Mytilenerebels against Athensbut is crushed.
* 428 BC —
Spartaattempts to crush a rebellion on Corcyra, but cancels the effort when the Athenians try to intercept them.
* 428 BC — The Greek colony of
Cumaein Italyfalls to the Samnites.
427 BC— The leaders of the Mytilenian revolt are executed.
* 427 BC —
Plateasurrenders to the Spartans, who execute over 200 prisoners and destroy the city.
* 427 BC — The Athenians intervene in
Sicilyto blockade Sparta from the island.
426 BC— Demosthenesunsuccessfully besieges the Corinthian colony of Leukas.
* 426 BC — When
Ambraciainvades Acarnania, they seek help from the Spartans and Athenians respectively. The Athenians then defeat the Spartans in the Battle of Olpae.
425 BC— Demosthenes captures the port of Pylosin the Peloponnesus.
* 425 BC — The Athenians invade
Sphacteriaand defeat the Spartans in the Battle of Pylos.
424 BC— Sicilywithdraws from the war and expels every foreign power. Thus, Athensis forced to withdraw from the island.
* 424 BC — The Athenians try to capture
Megara, but are defeated by the Spartans.
* 424 BC — The Spartan general
Brasidascaptures Amphipolis, which is a setback for Athens. Thucydidesis held responsible for the Athenian failure and is ostracised. This gives him time to start writing his history book.
423 BC— The Athenians propose a cease-fire, which the Spartan general Brasidas ignores.
422 BC— The Spartans defeat the Athenians in the Battle of Amphipolis, where the Athenian Cleonand the Spartan Brasidasare both killed.
421 BC— The Peace of Niciasputs a temporary end to the hostilities between Athensand Sparta.
420 BC— Alicibiadesis elected strategosof Athens and begins dominating Athenian politics.
419 BC— The Peace of Niciasis broken when Sparta defeats Argos.
418 BC— The Spartans win a major victory over the Athenians in the Battle of Mantinea, the biggest land battle of the Peloponnesian War.
416 BC— The Athenians capture the island of Melosand treat the inhabitants with great cruelty.
* 416 BC — The Athenians adheres a plea of help from
Sicilyand starts planning an invasion of the island.
415 BC— The sacred Hermae busts in Athens are mutilated just before the expedition to Sicily is sent away. One of the culprits, Andocides, is captured and is forced to turn informer. He names the other mutilators, among them Alcibiades, who are sentenced to death in their absence.
* 415 BC — Alcibiades defects from Athens to Sparta after having learned about his death sentence.
414 BC— The Athenians try to make a breakthrough in their siege of Syracuse but are defeated by the Spartans.
413 BC— Demosthenes suggests the Athenians leave Syracuse in order to return to Athens, where help is needed. However, Niciasrefuses and they are again defeated in battle by the Spartans. Both Demosthenes and Nicias are killed.
* 413 BC —
Cariaallies itself with Sparta.
412 BC— The Persian Empirestarts preparing an invasion of Ioniaand signs a treaty with Spartaabout it.
411 BC— The democracy in Athens is overthrown and replaced by the oligarchic Council of Four Hundred. This council is itself soon defeated and order is almost restored, when the Five Thousand start ruling. Early next year, they are also overthrown and the old democracy is restored.
410 BC— Athens regains control over its vital grain route from the Black Seaby defeating Sparta in the Battle of Cyzicus.
409 BC— Athens recaptures Byzantium, thereby putting and end to its revolt against Athens and taking control of the whole Bosporus.
* 409 BC — The city of
* 409 BC — The Carthaginians invade
408 BC— The Persian king, Darius II, decides to aid Sparta in the war and makes his son Cyrus a satrap. However, Cyrus starts collecting an army to benefit his own interests, rather than his father's.
* 408 BC —
Alcibiadesreturns to Athens in triumph after an absence of seven years.
407 BC— The Athenian fleet is routed by the Spartan one in the Battle of Notium, which gives Alcibiades' opponents a reason to strip him of command. He never returns to Athens again.
406 BC— Athens defeats Sparta in the Battle of Arginusaeand the blockade of Cononis lifted.
* 406 BC — Sparta sues for peace, but Athens rejects this.
* 406 BC — The Carthaginians once again invade Sicily and return to Carthage with spoils of war, but also with the plague.
405 BC— The Spartan king Pausanias lays siege to Athens, which makes the city start starving.
* 405 BC —
Dionysius the Elderrises to power in Syracuse. He signs a peace with Carthage and starts consolidating and expanding his influence.
April 25 404 BC— Athens surrenders to Sparta, ending the Peloponnesian War. Sparta introduces an oligarchic system, the Thirty Tyrants, in Athens.
* 404 BC — Egypt rebels against Persian rule.
403 BC— Some exiled Athenians return to fight the Thirty Tyrants and restore democracy in Athens. The are, however, narrowly defeated by the Spartans in the Battle of Piraeus. After this, the Spartan king Pausaniasallows democracy to be restored in Athens.
* 403 BC —
Thrasybulusrestores the Athenian democracy and grants an almost general amnesty.
* 403 BC — The Athenians adopt the Ionian alphabet.
401 BC— Cyrus the Youngerrebels against the Persian king Artaxerxes IIbut is, however, eventually slain in battle.
400 BC— After Cyrus has been killed, his Greek mercenaries make their way back to Greece, where Sparta is so impressed with their feats in and march through Persia that they declare war on the Persians.
* 400 BC — The Carthaginians occupy
* 400 BC — The Egyptians successfully revolts against Persian rule.
* ca. 400 BC —
Londonhas its origins as far back as this time.
498 BC— death of Amyntas I, king of Macedonia
Pythagorasof Samos, Greek mathematician, discoverer of the Pythagorean theorem(582– 496 BC)
491 BC— death of Hippocrates, Tyrantof Gela
Gautama Buddha, founding figure of Buddhism(c. 563– 483 BC)
Confucius, founding figure of Confucianism(551– August 27, 479 BC)
Mahaviraof Vaishali, the 24th Tirthankaraof Jainism(possibly 599 BC– 527 BC)
Aeschylusof Athens, playwright(525– 456 BC)
*Darius I, King of Persia (reigned 521–
Hindu Indian grammarian, ( 520 BC– 460 BC)
Sophoclesof Athens, playwright(496– 406 BC)
*496 BC — death of
Sun Tzu, military philosopherand authorof The Art of War(most likely a colloquial date)
Periclesof Athens, politician(c. 495– 429 BC)
Zeno of Elea, Greek philosopher( 495 BC–c. 430 BC)
Phidias, Greek sculptor( 490 BC–c. 430 BC)
Empedocles, Greek philosopher, ( 490 BC–c. 430 BC)
489 BC— Birth of Eudoxus of Cnidus, early mathematicianand adherent of Pythagoras Dion, student of Platoand tyrantof Syracuse
488 BC— Death of Miltiades, Athenian general
Herodotusof Halicarnassus, historian(c. 485 BC)
Euripidesof Athens, playwright(c. 480– 406 BC)
479 BC— death of Mardonius, Persian commanderat Plataea
*479 BC — death of
Ephialtes, betrayerof Greeceat the Battle of Thermopylae
476 BC— death of King Jing of Zhou / Ji Gai, King of the Zhou Dynastyof China
475 BC— death of Heraclitusof Ephesus, Greek philosopher
Socratesof Athens, philosopher (470– 399 BC)
470 BC— birth of Mozi, Chinese philosopher(d. c. 391 BC)
469 BC— birth of Aspasiaof Miletus, mistress of Periclesof Athens(d. c. 406 BC)
469 BC— King Yuan of Zhou, king of the Zhou Dynastyof China
*469 BC — death of
Leotychides, king of Sparta
*469 BC — death of
Simonides of Ceos, Greek lyric poet
468 BC— death of Aristides, Athenian statesman
465 BCdeath of Xerxes I, king of Persia (murder)
464 BC— death of Artabanus of Persia, RegentKing for Artaxerxes I
461 BC— Ephialtes, leader of the radical democrats, assassinated.
Thucydides, Greek historian, ( 460 BC– 395 BC)
Hippocratesof Cos, Greek physician, ( 460 BC– 377 BC)
Democritusof Abdera, Greek philosopher, ( 460 BC– 370 BC)
459 BC— death of Pleistarchus, King of Sparta
451 BC— death of Verginia, legendary victim of the decemviri
450 BC— birth of Alcibiades, Athenian generaland politician
*c. 450 BC — death of
Cimon, major politicalfigure in Athensand the son of Miltiades
*c. 450 BC — death of Alexander I, king of
449 BC— death of Appius Claudius, former decemvir(suicide)
*449 BC — death of
Spurius Oppius, former decemvir(suicide)
Aristophanesof Athens, playwright(a. 446– 385 BC).
446 BC— birth of Marcus Furius Camillus, Roman soldierand statesman(traditional date)
443 BC— death of Pindar, Greek poet
442 BC— death of King Zhending of Zhou, king of the Zhou Dynastyof China
437 BC— death of Volumnius, Etruscan ruler, in Veii
436 BC— birth of Isocrates, Athenian orator
*c. 436 BC — birth of
Artaxerxes II, king of Persia
435 BC— birth of Philoxenusof Cythera, Greek dithyrambic poet(d. 380 BC).
tyrantof Syracuse (c. 432 BC– 367 BC).
430 BC— death of Empedocles, Greek philosopher
*c. 430 BC — death of
Phidias, Greek sculptor
*c. 430 BC — death of
Zeno of Elea, Greek philosopher
*Darius II, king of Persia (reigned 423–
Ezraand Nehemiahactive in Judea
Tollund Man, Human sacrificevictim on the Jutland Peninsulain Denmark, possibly the earliest known evidence for worship of Odin
Zengzi, 505 BC– 436 BC, student of Confucius, wrote Great Learning
Zuo Qiuming, ?-? Chinese historian and author of the " Zuo Zhuan".
Inventions, discoveries, introductions
Cast ironis first used in the Chinese Kingdom of Wuwith the innovation of the blast furnace, and soon becomes widespread for agricultural tools and weapons during the Warring States.
Trebuchet catapultis first used by followers of the Chinese philosopher Mozi.
*The Greeks invent the
*The Greeks start to use shear-leg cranes for construction and loading of ships.
*The Greeks invent linear perspective.
*The Greeks develop an indirect lost wax process for casting
hydraulicengineer Ximen Bao(西門豹) oversees an enormous canalsystem for agricultural irrigation, while employed by Marquis Wen of Wei(文侯) ( 445 BC– 396 BC).
*The Chinese philosopher Li Kui writes the "Book of Law" (Fajing, 法经) in
407 BC, the basis for the law codes of the following Qin Dynastyand partially that of the Han Dynasty.
Decades and years
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