Prepare Ye the Way
500 - 400 BC, the Middle East
Persia seemed destined to expand its control even farther. When the cities of European Greece supported an abortive uprising by their sister cities on the Ionian coast of Anatolia, Persia resolved to crush them. Although Greece held Darius at the Battle of Marathon, Xerxes swept down through Macedon and Thessaly. The new Greek civilization seemed doomed.
But Sparta had spent years perfecting a military machine of hoplites (citizen) soldiers and Athens further developed its navy. By 479 these cities had checked the Persian advance into Europe.
Sparta was content to continue in its old ways, but Athens took advantage of its new-found power to free the Ionian cities from Persia once again and bind the coastal areas in a new Athenian empire. Inevitably its sphere of influence conflicted with Sparta's, and intermittent warfare broke out between them to the relief of Persia, which felt much safer when Greek fought Greek.
Except for Egyptian rebellion, the Persian Empire was one of relative peace and order. A new Arab state of Nabataea arose in the south existing in prosperity beside its giant neighbor.
To the west Rome freed itself of Etruscan overlords early in the century and began to develop its republic.