The 5th century BC started the first day of 500 BC and ended the last day of 401 BC.
This century saw the establishment of Pataliputra as a capital of Magadha Empire. This city would later become the ruling capital of different Indian Kingdoms for about a thousand years. This period saw the rise of two great philosophical schools of the East, Jainism and Buddhism. This period saw Mahavira and Buddha spreading their respective teachings in Northern Plains of India. This essentially changed the socio-cultural and political dynamics of the region of South Asia. Buddhism would later go on to become one of the major world religions.
This period also saw the work of Yaska, who created Nirukta, that would lay the foundation stone for Sanskrit grammar and is one of the oldest works on grammar known to mankind.
This century is also traditionally recognized as the classical period of the Greeks, which would continue all the way through the 4th century until the time of Alexander the Great. The life of Socrates represented a major milestone in Greek philosophy though his teachings only survive through the work of his students, most notably Plato and Xenophon. The tragedians Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, as well as the comedian Aristophanes all date from this era and many of their works are still considered classics of the western theatrical canon.
The Persian Wars, fought between a coalition of Greek cities and the vast AchaemenidPersian Empire was a pivotal moment in Greek politics. After having successfully prevented the annexation of Greece by the Persians, Sparta, the dominant power in the coalition, had no intention of further offensive action and considered the war over. Meanwhile, Athens counter-attacked, liberating Greek subjects of the Persian Empire up and down the Ionian coast and mobilizing a new coalition the Delian League. Tensions between Athens, and its growing imperialistic ambitions as leader of the Delian League, and the traditionally dominant Sparta led to a protracted stalemate in the Peloponnesian war.
- 499 BC: Aristagoras, acting on behalf of the Persian Empire, leads a failed attack on the rebellious island of Naxos.
- 499 BC: Aristagoras instigates the Ionian Revolt, beginning the Persian Wars between Greece and Persia.
- 499 BC: Sardis sacked by Athenian and Ionian troops.
- 498 BC: Leontini subjugated by Hippocrates of Gela.
- 498 BC: Alexander I succeeds his father Amyntas I as king of Macedon.
- 496 BC: Battle of Lake Regillus: A legendary early Roman victory, won over either the Etruscans or the Latins.
- 496 BC: Sophocles is born.
- 495 BC: Temple to Mercury on the Circus Maximus in Rome is built.
- 494 BC: The Battle of Lade, where Persians take back Ionia.
- 494 BC: Two tribunes of the plebs and two plebeian aediles are elected for the first time in Rome: the office of the tribunate is established.
- 494 BC: The year Rome changed from an Aristocratic Republic to a Liberalized Republic.
- 493 BC: Piraeus, the port town of Athens, is founded.
- 493 BC: Coriolanus captures the Volscian town of Corioli for Rome.
- 492 BC: First expedition of King Darius I of Persia against Greece, under the leadership of his son-in-law Mardonius. This marks the start of the campaign that culminated in the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC.
- 491 BC: Leotychidas succeeds his cousin Demaratus as king of Sparta.
- 491 BC: Gelo becomes Tyrant of Gela.
- 490 BC: The Battle of Marathon, where Darius I of Persia is defeated by the Athenians and Plataeans under Miltiades
- 490 BC: Phidippides runs 40 kilometers from Marathon to Athens to announce the news of the Greek victory; origin of the marathon long-distance race.
- 489 BC: Cities of Rhodes unite and start construction of the new city of Rhodes.
- 488 BC: Leonidas I succeeds his brother Cleomenes I as king of Sparta after Cleomenes is judged insane.
- 487 BC: Egypt revolts against the Persians.
- 487 BC: Aegina and Athens go to war.
- 487 BC: Athenian Archonship becomes elective by lot, an important milestone in the move towards radical Athenian democracy.
- 486 BC: First part of the Grand Canal of China is built.
- 486 BC: Xerxes I succeeds Darius I as Great King of Persia.
- 486 BC: Egypt revolts against Persian rule.
- 486 BC: First Buddhist Council at Rejgaha, under the patronage of King Ajatasattu. Oral tradition established for the first time.
- October, 485 BC: Xerxes I succeeds Darius I as King of Persia.
- 484 BC: Athenian playwright Aeschylus wins a poetry prize.
- 484 BC: Xerxes I abolishes the Kingdom of Babel and removes the golden statue of Bel (Marduk, Merodach).
- 484 BC: Persians regain control of Egypt.
- 483 BC: Gautama Buddha died.
- 483 BC: Xerxes I of Persia starts planning his expedition against Greece
- 481 BC: The Isthmus of Corinth ends a war between Athens and Aegina.
- 480 BC: King Xerxes I of Persia sets out to conquer Greece.
- 480 BC: Cimon and his friends burn horse-bridles as an offering to Athena and join the marines
- 480 BC: Pleistarchus succeeds his father Leonidas I as king of Sparta.
- August, 480 BC: Battle of Artemisium—The Persian fleet fights an inconclusive battle with the Greek allied fleet.
- August 11, 480 BC: The Battle of Thermopylae, a costly victory by Persians over the Greeks.
- September 23, 480 BC: Battle of Salamis between Greece and Persia, leading to a Greek victory.
- 480 BC: Battle of Himera—The Carthaginians under Hamilcar are defeated by the Greeks of Sicily, led by Gelon of Syracuse.
- 480 BC: Roman troops march against the Veientines.
- 469 BC: Philosopher Socrates is born in Attica, Athens, Greece.
- 468 BC: Sophocles, Greekplaywright, defeats Aeschylus for the Athenian Prize.
- 468 BC: Antium captured by Roman forces.
- 468 BC: King Zhending of Zhou becomes King of the Zhou Dynasty of China.
- 466 BC: Delian League defeats Persia at the Battle of Eurymedon.
- 466 BC: The Greekcolony of Taras, in Magna Graecia, is defeated by Iapyges, a native population of ancient Apulia; Tarentinemonarchy falls, with the installation of a democracy and the expulsion of the Pythagoreans.
- 465 BC: King Xerxes I of the Persian Empire is murdered by Artabanus the Hyrcanian. He is succeeded by Artaxerxes I, possibly with Artabanus acting as Regent.
- 465 BC: Thasos revolts from the Delian League.
- 464 BC: An earthquake in ancient Sparta, Greece leads to a Helot uprising and strained relations with Athens, one of the factors that lead to the Peloponnesian War.
- 464 BC: Regent King Artabanus of Persia is killed by his charge Artaxerxes I.
- 464 BC: Third Messenian war.
- 462 BC: The revolt of Thasos against the Delian League comes to an end with their surrender.
- 461 BC: AthenianpoliticianCimon is ostracized.
- 460 BC: Egypt revolts against Persia, starting a six-year war. An Athenian force sent to attack Cyprus is diverted to support this revolt.
- 460 BC: Cincinnatus becomes consul of the Roman Republic.
- 460 BC: Physician Hippocrates is born in Kos, Greece.
- 459 BC: Pleistoanax succeeds his father Pleistarchus as king of Sparta.
- 459 BC: Destruction of the Sicilian town of Morgantina by Douketios, leader of the Sikels, according to Diodoros Siculus.
- 459 BC: Ezra leads the second body of Jews from Babylon to Jerusalem.
- 458 BC: GreekplaywrightAeschylus completes the Oresteia, a trilogy that tells the story of a family blood feud. The plays will have a great influence on future writers.
- 458 BC: Cincinnatus is named dictator of the Roman Republic in order to defend it against Aequi. Sixteen days later, after defeating the invaders at the Battle of Mount Algidus, he resigns and returns to his farm.
- 457 BC: AthenianstatesmanPericles' greatest reform, allowing common people to serve in any state office, inaugurates Golden Age of Ancient Athens.
- 457 BC: Battle of Tanagra—The Spartans defeat the Athenians, near Thebes.
- 457 BC: Battle of Oenophyta—The Athenians defeat the Thebans and take control of Boeotia.
- 457 BC: Decree of Artaxerxes I to re-establish the city government of Jerusalem. See Ezra 7, Daniel 9 and Nehemiah 1 in Old Testament.
- 455 BC: A thirty years' truce concluded between Athens and Lacedaemon.
- 455 BC: Euripides presents his first known tragedy, Peliades, in the Athenianfestival of Dionysia.
- 454 BC: Athens loses a fleet and possibly as many as 50 000 men in a failed attempt to aid an Egyptian revolt against Persia.
- 454 BC: The treasury of the Delian League is moved from Delos to Athens.
- 454 BC: Hostilities between Segesta and Selinunte, two Greek cities on Sicily.
- 453 BC: Taiyuan, a city in China, gets flooded.
- 451 BC: Athens makes peace with Sparta and wages a war against Persia.
- 451 BC: The decemviri come to power in the Roman Republic. They enact the twelve tables, the foundation of Roman Law.
- 450 BC: Battle of Salamis: Athenians under Cimon defeat the Persian fleet.
- 450 BC: Perdiccas II succeeds Alexander I as king of Macedonia (approximate date).
- 450 BC to 325 BC: Olmecs leave La Venta, and it becomes depopulated by 325 BC.
- 439 BC: Cincinnatus again becomes dictator of the Roman Republic; during his term he defeats the Volsci.
- 439 BC: According to legend, Gaius Servilius Ahala saves Rome from Spurius Maelius.
- 438 BC: Ictinus and Callicrates finish construction of the Parthenon, located on Athens' Acropolis.
- 435 BC: The Statue of Zeus at Olympia by Phidias, one of the seven wonders of the world, is completed.
- 434 BC: Conflict occurs between the Greek island of Kerkyra and its mother-city Corinth.
- 434 BC: Anaxagoras tries to square the circle with straightedge and compass.
- 433 BC: Battle of Sybota between Corcyra and Corinth.
- 433 BC (or later): Burial of Marquis Yi of Zeng in China.
- 432 BC: Athens adopts a 19-year cycle of synchronizing solar and lunar calendars.
- 432 BC: Athens defeats Corinth in the battle of Potidaea.
- 432 BC: The Greekcolony of Heraclea is founded by Tarentum and Thurii.
- 431 BC: The Peloponnesian War begins between Sparta and Athens and their allies.
- 431 BC: Defeat of the Aequians by the Romans under the dictatorA. Postumius Tubertus.
- 431 BC: The Greekphysician and philosopherEmpedocles articulates the notion that the human body has four humors: blood, bile, black bile, and phlegm, a belief that dominates medical thinking for centuries.
- 430 BC: Athens suffers a major pestilence, believed to be caused by epidemic typhus.
- c. 430 BC: First performance of Sophocles's Oedipus Rex.
- 419 BC: The Peace of Nicias is broken when Sparta defeats Argos.
- 418 BC: The Spartans win a major victory over the Athenians in the Battle of Mantinea, the biggest land battle of the Peloponnesian War.
- 416 BC: The Athenians capture the island of Melos and treat the inhabitants with great cruelty.
- 416 BC: The Athenians adheres a plea of help from Sicily and starts planning an invasion of the island.
- 415 BC: The sacred Hermae busts in Athens are mutilated just before the expedition to Sicily is sent away. One of the culprits, Andocides, is captured and is forced to turn informer. He names the other mutilators, among them Alcibiades, who are sentenced to death in their absence.
- 415 BC: Alcibiades defects from Athens to Sparta after having learned about his death sentence.
- 414 BC: The Athenians try to make a breakthrough in their siege of Syracuse but are defeated by the Spartans.
- 413 BC: Demosthenes suggests the Athenians leave Syracuse in order to return to Athens, where help is needed. However, Nicias refuses and they are again defeated in battle by the Spartans. Both Demosthenes and Nicias are killed.
- 413 BC: Caria allies itself with Sparta.
- 412 BC: The Persian Empire starts preparing an invasion of Ionia and signs a treaty with Sparta about it.
- 411 BC: The democracy in Athens is overthrown and replaced by the oligarchic Council of Four Hundred. This council is itself soon defeated and order is almost restored, when the Five Thousand start ruling. Early next year, they are also overthrown and the old democracy is restored.
- 410 BC: Athens regains control over its vital grain route from the Black Sea by defeating Sparta in the Battle of Cyzicus.
- 409 BC: Athens recaptures Byzantium, thereby putting an end to its revolt against Athens and taking control of the whole Bosporus.
- 409 BC: The city of Rhodes is founded.
- 409 BC: The Carthaginians invade Sicily.
- 408 BC: The Persian king, Darius II, decides to aid Sparta in the war and makes his son Cyrus a satrap. However, Cyrus starts collecting an army to benefit his own interests, rather than his father's.
- 408 BC: Alcibiades returns to Athens in triumph after an absence of seven years.
- 407 BC: The Athenian fleet is routed by the Spartan one in the Battle of Notium, which gives Alcibiades' opponents a reason to strip him of command. He never returns to Athens again.
- 406 BC: Athens defeats Sparta in the Battle of Arginusae and the blockade of Conon is lifted.
- 406 BC: Sparta sues for peace, but Athens rejects this.
- 406 BC: The Carthaginians once again invade Sicily and return to Carthage with spoils of war, but also with the plague.
- 405 BC: The Spartan king Pausanias lays siege to Athens, which makes the city start starving.
- 405 BC: Dionysius the Elder rises to power in Syracuse. He signs a peace with Carthage and starts consolidating and expanding his influence.
- April 25, 404 BC: Athens surrenders to Sparta, ending the Peloponnesian War. Sparta introduces an oligarchic system, the Thirty Tyrants, in Athens.
- 404 BC: Egypt rebels against Persian rule.
- 403 BC: Some exiled Athenians return to fight the Thirty Tyrants and restore democracy in Athens. They are, however, narrowly defeated by the Spartans in the Battle of Piraeus. After this, the Spartan king Pausanias allows democracy to be restored in Athens.
- 403 BC: Thrasybulus restores the Athenian democracy and grants an almost general amnesty.
- 403 BC: The Athenians adopt the Ionian alphabet.
- 401 BC: Cyrus the Younger rebels against the Persian king Artaxerxes II but is, however, eventually slain in battle.
- 400 BC: After Cyrus has been killed, his Greek mercenaries make their way back to Greece, where Sparta is so impressed with their feats in and march through Persia that they declare war on the Persians.
- 400 BC: The Carthaginians occupy Malta.
- 400 BC: The Egyptians successfully revolt against Persian rule.
- 400 BC: London has its origins as far back as this time.
- 400 BC: Jōmon period ends in Ancient Japan.
- Agesilaus II, King of Sparta
- Alcibiades, Atheniangeneral and politician
- Alexander I, King of Macedonia
- Aristides, Athenianstatesman
- Artabanus of Persia, Regent King for Artaxerxes I
- Artaxerxes II, King of Persia
- Aspasia of Miletus, Mistress of Pericles of Athens
- Brasidas, Spartan general
- Marcus Furius Camillus, Roman statesman
- Cimon, Athenian statesman
- Cleon, Athenian statesman
- Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, Roman statesman
- Gaius Marcius Coriolanus, Roman general
- Darius II, King of Persia
- Dionysius, tyrant of Syracuse
- Ephialtes, betrayer of Greece at the Battle of Thermopylae
- Fan Li, Chinese advisor
- King Fuchai of Wu, King of the state of Wu
- King Goujian of Yue, King of Yue
- King Kao of Zhou, King of the Zhou Dynasty of China
- Leonidas I, King of Sparta
- Lu Ban, Chinese engineer and inventor
- Lysander, Spartan general and admiral
- Mardonius, Persian general
- Marquess Wen of Wei, Chinese ruler of the state of Wei
- Miltiades, Athenian general
- Pausanias, Spartan general
- Pericles, Athenian politician
- Pleistarchus, King of Sparta
- King Porus, King of Paurava, fought against Alexander at the Battle of Hydaspes
- Themistocles, Athenian statesman and general
- King Weilie of Zhou, King of the Zhou Dynasty
- Wu Zixu, Chinese general and politician
- Verginia, Legendary victim of the decemviri
- Xerxes I, King of Persia
- Xi Shi, Chinese beauty
- King Zhending of Zhou, King of the Zhou Dynasty of China
- Agatharchus, Greek painter
- Callicrates, Greek architect
- Douris, Greek red-figure vase painter and potter
- Euphronios, Greek vase painter and potter
- Hippodamus of Miletus, Greek architect
- Ictinus, Greek architect
- Paeonius, Greek sculptor
- Parrhasius, Greek painter
- Phidias, Greek sculptor, painter and architect
- Polygnotus, Greek painter
- Polykleitos, Greek sculptor
- Kresilas, Greek sculptor
- Kritios, Greek sculptor
- Mnesikles, Greek architect
- Myron of Eleutherae, Greek sculptor
- Zeuxis, Greek painter
- Aeschylus, Greek playwright
- Aristophanes, Greek playwright
- Bacchylides, Greek lyric poet.
- Cratinus Greek comic poet and playwright
- Critias, Greek author
- Diagoras of Melos, Greek poet and sophist
- Euripides, Greek playwright
- Isocrates, Greek orator
- Philoxenus of Cythera, Greek dithyrambicpoet
- Pindar, Greek poet
- Simonides of Ceos, Greek lyric poet
- Sophocles, Greek playwright
Science and philosophy
- Anaxagoras, Greekphilosopher
- Democritus, Greek philosopher
- Gautama Buddha, Indian philosopher and fouder of Buddhism
- Gorgias, Greek sophist, philosopher and rhetorician
- Empedocles, Greek philosopher
- Eudoxus of Cnidus, Greek mathematician
- Heraclitus, Greek philosopher
- Herodotus, Greek historian
- Hippias of Elis, Greek sophist
- Hippocrates, Greek physician
- Mozi, Chinese philosopher
- Panini, Hindugrammarian
- Parmenides of Elea, Greek philosopher
- Protagoras, Greek philosopher
- Prodicus, Greek philosopher
- Socrates, Greek philosopher
- Thucydides, Greek historian
- Zengzi, student of Confucius, wrote Great Learning
- Zeno of Elea, Greek philosopher
Inventions, discoveries, introductions
See: List of sovereign states in the 5th century BC.
Decades and years
What does A.D. mean? Timeline showing BC and AD dates
A.D. stands for Anno Domini, which is Latin for “year of our Lord,” and it means the number of years since the birth of Jesus Christ. That was a little more than 2000 years ago, so the date 500 A.D. means a little more than 1500 years ago.
Some people use C.E. instead. That stands for Common Era, and people use it in order to avoid Christian references. Quatr.us feels that since this is a Christian dating system, we don’t want to try to hide that. There are other dating systems in the world that non-Christians use, and Common Era makes it sound like everyone should use the Christian system.
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Of course nobody used the birth of Jesus as a way to count years back when Jesus was alive, in the Roman Empire. The Romans mostly counted by emperors: “in the fifth year of the Emperor Augustus,” or “in the second year of the Emperor Tiberius.” Sometimes the Romans counted by Olympiads – how many years it had been since the first Olympic Games in 776 BC. Or they counted from the (mythical) date of the foundation of the city of Rome, in 753 BC. Many Romans were afraid the world would end in the year 1000 (1000 years since the founding of the city of Rome, which we call 247 AD), and the first big Roman persecution of Christians grew out of that fear.
As people converted to Christianity, though, they wanted to count their years by Christian events and not Greek festivals or Roman emperors. Not long after the fall of Rome, in 525 AD, a few Christian priests and bishops began to count from the birth of Jesus. But most people in Europe didn’t start to use this Christian calendar until about 800 AD, in the time of Charlemagne.
In the 1800s, Christian history researchers taking a closer look at the Bible realized that they had the year of Jesus’ birth wrong. Because King Herod died in 4 BC, the birth of Jesus had to be about four to six years earlier than everyone had thought. But it was too hard to change the system now, so we still count from the Year 1 (there is no Year 0), even though Jesus (if he really existed) was already walking and talking by then.
As Europeans gradually conquered more and more of the world after 1500 AD, they brought their calendar with them. So people began to use the Christian calendar in Africa and India around 1500 AD, in North and South America a few years later, and in China and Japan only around 1900 AD, about a hundred years ago.