The first section of this volume examines the Persian empire, the regions it comprised, and its expansion under Cyrus, Darius, and Xerxes. In Greece, Sparta attained maturity as the leader of a military coalition and Athens passed through a period of enlightened tyranny to a moderate democracy of dynamic energy and intelligence. Given the contrast between Greek idealism and Persian absolutism a clash between the two empires was inevitable. Important chapters deal with the revolt of Ionian Greeks against the Persians, and the two Persian invasions of Greece including epic battles at Marathon, Tthermopylae, and Salamis. The book's third part turns to the Western Mediterranean: Italy becomes a significant factor in the area's historical development and is explored in terms of its peoples and languages from the Bronze to the Iron Ages.
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