As Athens prospered, intense economic and ideological rivalry developed with Athens' ally during the Persian Wars, Sparta. In 431 BC the Peloponnesian War broke out between them resulting in 27 years of debilitating conflict,
Involving most of the Greek world. Yet literature and art continued to flourish in spite of the incessant fighting,
and during this time Athens built two of the most beautiful temples on the Acropolis, the Erechtheion and the temple to Athena Nike.
Finally, Sparta, with naval help from former foe Persia, blockaded what was then the Hellespont (now the Dardanel), thus cutting off Athens from its crucial supply ofI grain. Starvation and heavy naval losses proved too much for Athens and the Spartans claimed total victory. Sparta attempted to govern the city

through a council of 30 men, known as the Thirty Tyrants, who spent most of their time persecuting opponents and confiscating property. In less than a year they were driven from the city, and Sparta, embroiled in other conflicts, let Athens to re-establish its maritime alliances without resistance. But Athens was never to regain her earlier military or political influence. A new star rose in the north, that of Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great. He advanced the far-sighted scheme of a federation of Greek states, which Athens resisted. Some Athenians even urged the Assembly to declare war on the Macedonian King. (The fiery Philippics, speeches on the subject by master orator Demosthenes, rate among the finest of their kind.) Following defeat at the battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC, the Athenians accepted an

alliance with other states and even sent Philip a gold crown as a token of submission. Culturally and intellectually Athens still remained unsurpassed through the 4th century BC. Aristotle, one of the world's greatest philosophers, held forth at his own school of the Lyceum, Menander wrote comic plays, Praxiteles sculpted scores of superb statues, including that of Hermes, one of the greatest Greek sculptures, now in the museum at Olympia. This age, in fact, had an even more lasting influence than that exerted by Athens during its great "Classical" 5th century. Rome and Byzantium looked to it for inspiration, as Europe did in the Medieval and Renaissance periods.

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