For most of the 50 years after the Persian wars, Athens enjoyed its ‘golden age’. In 461 BCE, the statesman and orator, Pericles, already an important figure in Athens, emerged as leader of Athens’ democratic party. He was also elected ‘leading general’ after establishing Athenian colonies on the Black Sea coast and Thrace in 445 BCE. Pericles used money from the Athenian League, funded by Greek states to pay towards Athenian military protection against the Persians, to build the Acropolis and Parthenon. These funds, no longer needed against the Persians, ended up being extorted from the League states, which were furious, particularly as Athens was becoming increasingly aggressive in its demands for payment. Resistance against payment was met with military action. In 431 BCE Sparta, in an act of anger over Athens’ increasingly tyrannical demands, supported League members by invading Athenian Corinth.
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