Greece and Persia 450 BCE
The Persian Wars left Athens and Sparta as the leading cities of Greece. This is the Golden Age of Athens.
The Greeks live in hundreds of small city states, situated on the margins of the ancient civilizations of the Middle East.
A huge new empire now covers most of the Middle East. This is the Persian Empire, the largest of all the empires of the ancient world.
The Greek city states of western Asia Minor fell under Persian control. They soon revolted, which led to war between the Greeks and the Persians.
Athens and Sparta, and their respective allies, fought long and bitter wars with each other. Sparta emerged as the victor.
The kingdom of Macedonia, regarded as semi-barbarous by other Greeks, now dominates the country.
Alexander the Great, one of the most successful military commanders in history, has led his army in the conquest of the huge Persian Empire.
Alexander's huge empire soon broke up, but a hybrid civilization emerged over a huge area which mingled Greek and Middle Eastern elements in a rich cultural fusion.
The Hellenistic kingdoms and Greek city-states are being squeezed from the Parthians in the east and the Romans in the west.
The Hellenistic kingdoms were swallowed up by the Roman and Parthian empires, but their civilization continued to flourish for many centuries.