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The Return of Great Power RivalryDemocracy versus Autocracy from the Ancient World to the U.S. and China$
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Matthew Kroenig

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780190080242

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190080242.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 16 June 2021

Athens, Sparta, and Persia

Athens, Sparta, and Persia

(p.61) Chapter 4 Athens, Sparta, and Persia
The Return of Great Power Rivalry

Matthew Kroenig

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers the rise of Athens in the ancient world and its competitions against its rivals, Persia and Sparta. It argues that its democratic institutions were a key to its success. Athens was the world’s first democracy, and it rose to become the leader of the Greeks, with an empire that stretched from North Africa to Crimea. It was a major trading and naval power and forged a formidable alliance of Greek city-states to defeat the mighty Persian Empire. It then fought a legendary series of wars against its oligarchic rival for ascendancy in Greece, Sparta. In the end, Athens’s form of direct democracy and decision-making through tyranny of the majority was its undoing. But not before Athens reigned as a liberal leviathan for nearly a century and showcased an enduring model for how other open states could acquire international power and influence.

Keywords:   Athens, Sparta, Persia, Greco-Persian Wars, Peloponnesian Wars, Marathon, Thermopylae, Salamis, Sicilian Expedition, Xerxes

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