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GREECE-THE ATHENIAN ASCENDENCY.

in European Greece, for they saw in this fact the possible-even the

probable-deliverance of themselves from the thralldom of Persia. The

leadership of Athens was therefore gladly recognized by all the Ionians,

and the sentiment spread until the islands of Rhodes, Cos, Lesbos, and

Tenydos, together with the Greek towns on the Chalcidician peninsula,

joined in the league, by which was formed, under the patronage of Athens

and through the influence of Aristides, the Confederacy of Delos. It was

agreed that hereafter, in the interests of Greece, deputies from all the

states represented in the league should annually assemble at the temple

of Apollo and Artemis, in the island of Delos, to discuss questions

pertaining to the welfare of the confederation and the honor of the Greek

name.

As soon as the league was formed the command of the allied fleet was

transferred from Aristides to Cimon. He immediately set out on an

expedition against the town of Eion, on the river Strymon. This place was

delivered from Persian rule, and in B. C. 470, the island of Scyros was

reduced by the fleet and colonized with Athenians. This rapid growth of

the power of Athens was hailed by most of the states of Greece as a

reward fairly earned by her heroic conduct in the Persian wars. But to

Sparta this splendid rise of her rival from the ashes of despair was gall

and wormwood. She looked with a lack-luster and jealous eye on the doings

of the Confederacy of Delos and the extension of Athenian reputation. Nor

were the agencies by which Athens at home, among the extinct cinders of

her recent overthrow, had again become so suddenly the pride of Central

Greece, more pleasing to the narrow-minded Lacedaemonians who were more

stung with the arrows of jealousy than by the darts of the enemy. For

this sudden development of reviving energy was traceable most of all to

the superhuman energies of two Athenian statesmen, Themistocles and

Aristides. To the latter, as already said, was due the formation of the

Confederacy of Delos, and to the former the growth and extension of the

maritime power of the state.

Meanwhile, the city so recently consumed by Persian wrath was rapidly

rebuilding. The homeless fugitives came back from Troezen, AEgina, and

Salamis. The streets were widened and extended. Ambition rose with the

occasion. Beauty was consulted; and also safety. For it was determined

to surround Athens with walls and fortifications against which the waves

of barbarism would hereafter beat in vain. These measures, so natural and

necessary, greatly excited the jealousy of the AEginetans, and knowing

the disposition of Sparta, they sent to her an ambassador earnestly

advising the Lacedaemonians to interfere and prevent the completion of

the works by which Athens would be rendered independent alike of foreign

and domestic animosity. The Spartans would gladly have undertaken this

work, but the crafty Themistocles outwitted them in negotiation until

what time the fortifications were so well advanced as no longer to

require concealment or apology. Themistocles, thus freed from interstate

difficulties, devoted himself assiduously to the increase of the navy and

development of Athenian commerce. The harbor of Piraeus was improved and

surrounded with an impregnable wall sixty feet in height. Every exposed

part of the peninsula was rendered defensible, and Athens felt secure

behind her ramparts.

In this period of rapid recovery political rancor in a great measure

subsided. The Mistocles and Aristides made common cause in

rehabilitating the state. The latter had so far modified his opinions as

to accept the democratic tendencies of his countrymen as natural and

right. He himself brought forward and secured the passage of a law by

which all restrictions were removed from the Thetes, or Fourth Estate,

and themselves made eligible to the highest offices in the gift of the

state.

Thus at last the Archonship and also membership in the court of Areopagus

were opened to the humblest citizen of the commonwealth. Under the

impulse of these progressive measures every enterprise of the Athenians

sprang forward with unwonted rapidity and success. The only drawback upon

the prosperity of the city and state was