5th century BC

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The 5th century BC started the first day of 500 BC and ended the last day of 401 BC.



This century saw the beginning of a period of philosophical brilliance among Western civilizations, particularly the Greeks which would continue all the way through the 4th century until the time of Alexander the Great. Ancient Greek philosophy developed during the 5th century BC, setting the foundation for Western ideology. In Athens and elsewhere in the Mediterranean world, the 5th century marked a high point in the development of political institutions, art, architecture, and literature.

The century was also notable for the Persian Wars, fought between the Greek cities, and the vast Persian Empire. Determined to punish Athens for supporting a revolt by conquered Greek cities in Asia Minor, King Darius I sent several armies against them, only to have his plans first thwarted by a storm and later by a defeat at the Battle of Marathon. His son Xerxes attempted to finish the job 10 years later, and succeeded in capturing Athens and burning it to the ground, only to be defeated later on land at Plataea. In the latter part of the century the Greeks became locked in a bitter war among themselves, with the major cities Athens and Sparta competing for absolute domination. The Spartans were victorious in this battle.


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