THE AGE OF PERICLES
AS soon as Cimon had been banished, Pericles became
sole leader of the Athenians; and as he governed them
during a long and prosperous time, this period is
generally known as the Age of Pericles.
The Spartans who had so rudely sent away their Athenian
allies manfully resolved to help themselves, and set
about it so vigorously that they soon brought the
Helots back to order, and rebuilt their city. When they
had settled themselves comfortably, however, they
remembered the lukewarm help which had been given them,
and determined to punish the Athenians.
The Persian general was just then planning a new
invasion of Greece, so the Athenians found themselves
 threatened with a twofold danger. In their distress
they recalled Cimon, who was an excellent general, and
implored him to take command of their forces.
Cimon fully justified their confidence, and not only
won several victories over the Spartans, but compelled
them at last to agree to a truce of five years. This
matter settled, he next attacked the Persians, whom he
soon defeated by land and by sea.
He then forced Artaxerxes, the Persian king, to swear a
solemn oath that he would never again wage war against
the Athenians, and forbade the Persian vessels ever to
enter the Ægean sea.
These triumphs won, Cimon died
from the wounds he had received during the war. His
death, however, was kept secret for a whole month, so
that the people would have time to get used to a new
leader, and not be afraid to fight without their former
While Cimon was thus successfully battling with the
enemy abroad, Pericles had managed affairs at home. He
urged the Athenians to finish their walls; and by his
advice they built also the Long Walls, which joined the
city to the Piræus, a seaport five miles away.
Pericles also increased the Athenian navy, so that, by
 the time the five-years' truce was over, he had a fine
fleet to use in fighting against the Spartans.
As every victory won by the Athenians had only
made Sparta more jealous, the war was renewed, and
carried on with great fury on both sides. The Spartans
gained the first victories; but, owing to their better
navy, the Athenians soon won over all the neighboring
cities, and got the upper hand of their foes.
They were about to end the war by a last victory at
Coronea, when fortune suddenly deserted them, and
they were so sorely beaten that they were very glad to
agree to a truce and return home.
By the treaty then signed, the Athenians bound
themselves to keep the peace during a term of thirty
 In exchange, the Spartans allowed them to retain the
cities which they had conquered, and the leadership of
one of the confederacies formed by the Greek states,
reserving the head of the other for themselves.
During these thirty years of peace, Pericles was very
busy, and his efforts were directed for the most part
toward the improvement of Athens. By his advice a
magnificent temple, the Parthenon, was built on top
of the Acropolis, in honor of Athene.
This temple, one of the wonders of the world, was
decorated with beautiful carvings by Phidias, and all
the rich Athenians went to see them as soon as they
were finished. This sculptor also made a magnificent
gold and ivory statue of the goddess to stand in the
midst of the Parthenon. But in spite of all his talent,
Phidias had many enemies. After a while they wrongfully
accused him of stealing part of the gold intrusted
to him. Phidias vainly tried to defend himself;
but they would not listen to him, and put him in
prison, where he died.
Between the temple of Athene and the city there was a
series of steps and beautiful porticoes, decorated with
paintings and sculptures, which have never been
Many other beautiful buildings were erected under the
rule of Pericles; and the beauty and art loving
Athenians could soon boast that their city was the
finest in the world. Artists from all parts of the
country thronged thither in search of work, and all
were well received by Pericles.