1 – The Trojan War (c. 1194-1184 BC)
The Trojan War was a legendary conflict between the city of Troy and the Greeks, as described in Homer’s epic poem, the Iliad. The cause of the war was the abduction of Helen, the wife of Menelaus, by Prince Paris of Troy. The Greeks, led by Agamemnon, sailed to Troy and besieged the city for ten years. The war ended with the famous Trojan Horse trick, in which the Greeks pretended to abandon the siege by leaving a giant wooden horse outside the city walls. The Trojans brought the horse inside the city, unaware that Greek soldiers were hiding inside. The Greeks emerged from the horse and opened the city gates, allowing their army to enter and conquer Troy.
2 – The Greco-Persian Wars (492-449 BC)
The Greco-Persian Wars were a series of conflicts between the Greek city-states and the Persian Empire. The wars began with the Ionian Revolt in 492 BC, when Greek cities in Asia Minor rebelled against Persian rule. The Persians responded by invading Greece, but were defeated at the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC. A second invasion was launched in 480 BC, led by King Xerxes. The Persians sacked Athens but were defeated at the Battle of Salamis and the Battle of Plataea in 479 BC. The wars marked a turning point in Western history, as the Greeks successfully defended their freedom and democracy against the world’s largest empire.
3 – The Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC)
The Peloponnesian War was a conflict between Athens and Sparta, the two leading Greek city-states. The war was fought over disputes about trade, politics, and military power. Athens had a strong navy and controlled a large empire, while Sparta had a powerful army and allied with other Greek city-states. The war lasted for 27 years and was marked by brutal sieges, naval battles, and political intrigue. Athens was ultimately defeated and forced to surrender, ending its golden age of democracy and culture.
4 – The Punic Wars (264-146 BC)
The Punic Wars were a series of three wars fought between Rome and Carthage, a powerful city-state in North Africa. The wars began in 264 BC, when Rome and Carthage fought over control of Sicily. The Second Punic War (218-201 BC) was the most famous, as it was led by the Carthaginian general Hannibal, who famously crossed the Alps with his army and won several major victories against Rome. However, Rome eventually prevailed and conquered Carthage, marking the end of its power in the Mediterranean.
5 – The Macedonian Wars (214-148 BC)
The Macedonian Wars were a series of conflicts between Rome and the kingdom of Macedon, which controlled much of Greece and the Balkans. The wars began in 214 BC, when Rome invaded Macedon to stop its expansion. The wars were marked by several famous battles, including the Battle of Cynoscephalae in 197 BC, in which Rome defeated Macedon and established its dominance over Greece. The wars marked the end of the Hellenistic period and the beginning of Roman dominance in the Mediterranean.