A lively, accessible history of Athens's rise to greatness, from one of the foremost classical historians. The definitive account of Athens in the age of Pericles, Christian Meier's gripping study begins with the Greek triumph over Persia at the Battle of Salamis, one of the most significant military victories in history. Meier shows how that victory decisively established Athens' military dominance in the Mediterranean & made possible its rise to preeminence in almost every field of human endeavor—commerce, science, philosophy, art, architecture & literature. Within 75 years, Athens had become the most original & innovative civilization the ancient world ever produced. With elegant narrative style, Meier traces the birth of democracy & the flourishing of Greek culture in the 5th century BCE, as well as Athens' slow decline & defeat in the Peloponnesian War. The great figures—from politicians & generals like Themistocles & Alcibiades to the philosophers Socrates & Plato—emerge as flesh-&-blood human beings, firmly rooted in their times & places. This is history in the tradition of Simon Schama & Barbara Tuchman—learned, accessible & beautifully written.