450 BC


Known World about B. C. 450.—About this period the decadence of the great Persian Empire had already begun. Greece was becoming a strong power, and had flourishing colonies all round the Mediterranean and Black Seas, at Syracuse in Sicily, on the southern shores of Italy, at Massilia (the present Marseilles), on the coast of Spain, at Cyrene in North Africa, at Cypress, at Byzantium (Constantinople), and at many points between these.

Carthage had already risen from its condition of a colony to that of a great independent state, which held practically all the north African coast. The Carthaginians had come in contact with the Greeks in Sicily, and in their first trial of strength the Carthaginian army under Hamilcar had been defeated. Rome had been founded for perhaps three hundred years. Already the Romans had taken the lead in Latium, and the Republic was in constant warfare with its neighbors on all sides—the southern Etruscans, the Volscians, and the Æqui.

Thus the great events of this period were clustered round the Mediterranean shores. As yet the unknown peoples of the west and north beyond these were vaguely called the Hyperboreans by the Greeks, “the dwellers behind the north wind;” and eastward, beyond Persia and the Indies, Herodotus could only mark “unknown deserts” on his map.