The Delian League

The Delian League formed in 478 BC when the Persian wars ended and continued until 404 BC when the Peloponnesian war ended.

The League was formed by 200 city-states of Greece. It was formed, as the Greeks were worried that Persia would attack them again.

Greece also wanted to free the Ionians from Persia.

The Delian League was similar to a bank of today. All city-states paid money into a savings account.

Money saved in the account was to be used for funding wars in the future.

This was after the Greeks realized they had spent a lot of money on building ships and weapons during the Persian wars.

The Delian League Was Formed in Athens

The Delian League was formed in Athens and they would hold meetings on Delos Island in the Aegean Sea.

Money was held in a treasury (a bank), on the island and each of the city-states had a say in what happened.

This would later change when the headquarters moved to Athens and they took total control.

Athens charged a fee to the members of the league for holding and guarding the money collected.

Those in charge in Athens did the accounting and reported to the other city-states.

While the fee they charged was very small, the money quickly grew and Athens became a rich city.

Pericles was a leader in Athens and he used the money collected from the fee to build the “Parthenon” along with other things.

Sparta was not happy about it as they thought it was not fair that such a large amount of money was kept in Athens.

They thought the money should be shared around but Athens refused.

This was the start of unease among the Delian League. Slowly the league turned into an Athenian Empire.

The Delian League Began to Crumble

The city-states of the Delian League were not allowed to fight each other.

The people of Athens threw city-states out of the league for going to war against each other.

Naxos was the first to leave the league when they stopped paying into it.

Athens said they were enemies and attacked them. Then they forced Naxos to remain a member of the league.

One of the best things to come from the Delian League was Peace of Callias” signing, ending the Persian wars for good in 449 BC.

Once the treaty was signed the Delian League could have ended, but it did not.

The Second Athens Confederacy Revived the Delian League

The Delian League was given a fresh start with the Second Athenian Confederacy 378-7 BC.

They had an enemy, Sparta; the league was protection against Sparta.

Things did not work out as planned by Athens as Sparta captured Athens in 404 BC and this saw the end of the Delian League.

Whether Athens had always meant to become an empire through the Delian League is not clear.

Some believe the idea came about as the money from fees mounted up and Athens began to prosper.

Facts about The Delian League

  • It is thought that Athens took control of the Delian League due to Athens having nautical power.
  • The Delian League was set up with three things in mind, further invasion, to take revenge on Persia, and division of the spoils of war.
  • The tax charged by Athens was 460 talents per year.
  • During the Delian League Athens became stronger while other city-states become poorer.
  • The Delian League was converted into an Athenian Empire by Pericles.
  • The main cities of the Delian League were Athens, Chios, Lesbos, and Chios.
  • The first action carried out under the league was capturing Eion.
  • When Athens took over the Delian League, they forced cities to join the league.

Questions and Answers

Question 1 – When was the Delian League formed?

Answer – 478 BC

Question 2 – Where was the first treasury located that held the money of the Delian League?

Answer – Delos Island

Question 3 – What was the first city-state to try to leave the Delian League?

Answer – Naxos

Question 4 – When did the Delian League end?

Answer – 404 BC


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