The city of Athens during the classical period of Ancient Greece (508-322 BC) was a notable polis (city-state) of Attica, Greece, leading the Delian League in the Peloponnesian War against Sparta and the Peloponnesian League. Athenian democracy was established in 508 BC under Cleisthenes following the tyranny of Hippias. This system remained remarkably stable, and with a few brief interruptions remained in place for 180 years, until 322 BC (aftermath of Lamian War). The peak of Athenian hegemony was achieved in the 440s to 430s BC, known as the Age of Pericles.
In the classical period, Athens was a center for the arts, learning and philosophy, home of Plato's Akademia and Aristotle's Lyceum, Athens was also the birthplace of Socrates, Pericles, Sophokles, and its many other prominent philosophers, writers and politicians of the ancient world. It is widely referred to as the cradle of Western Civilization, and the birthplace of democracy, largely due to the impact of its cultural and political achievements during the 5th and 4th centuries BC on the rest of the then known European continent.
Athens and most of Greece fell to the Roman Republic (later the Roman Empire) in 146 BC. During the early Middle Ages, the city experienced a decline, then recovered under the later Byzantine Empire and was relatively prosperous during the period of the Crusades (12th and 13th centuries), benefiting from Italian trade. Following a period of sharp decline under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, Athens was chosen in 1832 as the capital of the independent and self-governing Greek state.
Athens took the lead in Yauna resistance to Persian aggression, until it was decisively defeated in 480 BC. Persian Emperor Khsrish I the Conqueror ordered the city razed and left forever uninhabited as a warning. Centuries later, Mithredath, a eunuch servant of Khsrish IV, a descendant of the Conqueror, visited the ruined ghost town in search of any information on the Athenian king the Conqueror defeated, including his name.
While the days of Athens as an independent city-state were a thing of the distant past, the city held a long-standing place of honor in the society of the Agrippan Romealternate as a major center of learning. Doctors trained in Athens were considered the best and were highly sought after throughout the Empire and even in neighboring Lietuva. However, crosstimers such as Jeremy Solters and his sister Amanda did not share this esteem, feeling that Agrippan Athens' standard of medical knowledge were very far behind those of the Home timeline's medicine.
Liz Mendoza thought it ridiculous that people would fight and die for tiny "countries" like The Valley and Westside, until she remembered that similar nation-states had fought similar wars in the common history shared by the home timeline and the Valley-Westside alternate. Athens was one of the nations that entered her thoughts.
However, when Alkibiades returned to Athens, he seized the seat of government, disbanded the democratic institutions of Athens, and took absolute power for himself, murdering all of his opposition. With the subjugated Sparta as an ally, Athens turned to its long-standing enemy, Persia.
Athens welcomed back Peisistratos as its tyranos after he claimed patronage of Athena herself. In truth, Peisistratos had paid a statuesque woman named Phye to ride in his chariot and play the part of Athena. The people believed it, and Peisistratos regained his position.