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Posted on Jul 18, 2011 in War College

Map of the Month – Birth of Athenian Democracy, 5th Century BC

By Armchair General

Animated map of Ancient Greece, courtesy of The Map as History. Click on map to start animation.

Armchair General has partnered with The Map as History, a company that produces outstanding animated maps with accompanying narration. Each month, a link to one of their animated maps will be featured on the ACG site.

This month’s map explores the birth of Athenian Democracy in the 5th century, BC, and two battles that reinforced it.

Click on the map above to view animation.


To learn more about Ancient Greece and the battles of Marathon and Salamis, click on the titles of online articles below.

Review of John R. Hale’s Lords of the Sea: The Epic Story of the Athenian Navy and the BIrth of Democracy.

Themistocles: Master of Deception

How a Greek general used a phony "traitor" to win what may have been the greatest naval victory of all time.

Peloponnesian War: Battle of Pylos
Could Athens’ money and ships trump Sparta’s overwhelming military strength on land?

Marathon: Attack on the Run
The Persians could not believe what they were seeing. The Athenians had neither cavalry nor archers. This attack was madness. But the Athenians were coming on, and they were coming fast.


  1. As usual this kind of commentary overstates the importance of the democratic government of Athens in the conflict. Greece overall was roughly half oligarchic (the slave-holding Spartans and allies) and half democratic (Athens and allies), and many of the democratic cities were actually vassals of Athens. In fact, after expelling the Persians the Greeks would fight a devastating war among themselves in the Peloponnesian War, with the anti-democratic Spartans allying with the Persians to finally defeat the democratic Athenians. This left Greece weakened and susceptible to conquest by the decidedly anti-democratic Macedonians. Athenian democracy was ended by fellow Europeans. History is not so simple as saying “the defeat of the Persians ensured the survival of democracy” and it’s a disservice to present it as such.

    • 100 % agree


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