After the fall of the Thirty tyrants and the restoration of democracy by Thrasybulus (404/3 B.C.) Athens saw a period of social and political stability until the mid-fourth century B.C when Macedonian power started to assert itself over mainland and southern Greece. According to some scholars, this stability owed itself to the fact that Athenian citizens had been living for a long period under a democratic regime. Nevertheless, it was not uncommon for the democrats and moderate oligarchs to resurrect old animosities on the slightest pretext. It was in this atmosphere of constant realignments and endless crises of values that the trial and death of Socrates took place.

At the same time, the economy recovered, commercial activity in Piraeus was boosted, and the city’s fleet reconstructed. This rather rapid recovery in the economic and military sectors created the appropriate conditions for Athens to lead another alliance, known as the Second Athenian Confederacy. Within this league, Athens was to undertake several military operations and proved politically very active, partly encouraged by the failure of Sparta either to free the Greek world or to replace the former Athenian League with another that could bring about a change in balance in Greek affairs.

During this period, Macedonia, an emerging political, military and economic power, in its effort to assert itself, clashed with Athens and the rest of the Greek powers and eventually prevailed. The most important sources for the relationship between Athens and Macedonia are the speeches of Demosthenes and his main political opponent, the orator Aeschines.

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