Warfare > Peace of Callias

Peace of Callias


The Peace of Callias, also known as the Peace of Kallias, refers to a purported peace treaty between the Achaemenid Persian Empire and the Delian League, an alliance of Greek city-states led by Athens, around 449 BCE. The treaty is named after the Athenian diplomat Callias, who is said to have negotiated it. However, the historical veracity of the Peace of Callias is subject to debate, and some scholars question its existence. Following the end of the Persian Wars, which included the famous battles of Marathon, Thermopylae, Salamis, and Plataea, there was a period of relative peace between the Greek city-states and the Persian Empire. The Delian League, formed in 478 BCE under the leadership of Athens, was established to defend against further Persian incursions into Greek territories and to liberate Greek cities under Persian control.

Key Players:

Achaemenid Persians: Led by King Artaxerxes I, the Persian Empire sought to maintain control over its western territories and prevent further Greek interference in the region.

Delian League: Led by Athens, the Delian League was an alliance of Greek city-states that sought to defend against Persian aggression and promote Athenian interests in the Aegean.

The Treaty:

According to ancient sources, including the historian Diodorus Siculus, the Peace of Callias was negotiated between the Persian Empire and the Delian League around 449 BCE.The treaty purportedly stipulated that the Persians would recognize the autonomy of the Greek city-states in Asia Minor and refrain from interfering in their affairs. In return, the Greeks, led by Athens, agreed not to engage in military campaigns against Persian territories or incite rebellion among Persian subjects. The Peace of Callias is often associated with the end of the Greco-Persian Wars and the establishment of a period of peace and stability in the Aegean region.

Debate and Historiography:

The historical authenticity of the Peace of Callias is a matter of scholarly debate, as there is limited corroborating evidence from contemporary sources. Some scholars argue that the Peace of Callias may have been a later invention or embellishment by ancient historians to provide a narrative conclusion to the Greco-Persian Wars and to highlight Athens' diplomatic achievements. Others suggest that while there may have been diplomatic negotiations between Athens and Persia, the terms and significance of the Peace of Callias may have been exaggerated or misrepresented by later historians.


Regardless of its historical authenticity, the Peace of Callias represents a significant theme in ancient Greek history, reflecting the desire for peace and stability in the aftermath of the Greco-Persian Wars. The idea of diplomatic negotiations between Greek city-states and the Persian Empire underscores the complexities of interstate relations in the ancient world and the role of diplomacy in managing conflicts and maintaining peace. In summary, the Peace of Callias is a historical concept that symbolizes the pursuit of peace between the Greek city-states and the Persian Empire after the Greco-Persian Wars. While its historical veracity remains uncertain, its legacy underscores the importance of diplomacy and negotiation in ancient international relations.


The Peace of Callias is a purported treaty established around 449 BC between the Delian League (led by Athens) and Persia, ending the Greco-Persian Wars. The peace was agreed as the first compromise treaty between Achaemenid Persia and a Greek city. The peace was negotiated by Callias, an Athenian politician. Persia had continually lost territory to the Greeks after the end of Xerxes I's invasion in 479 BC. The exact date of the treaty is debated, although it is usually placed after the Battle of the Eurymedon in 469 or 466 or the Battle of Cypriot Salamis c. 449. The Peace of Callias gave autonomy to the Ionian states in Asia Minor, prohibited the encroachment of Persian satrapies within three days march of the Aegean coast, and prohibited Persian ships from the Aegean. Athens also agreed not to interfere with Persia's possessions in Asia Minor, Cyprus, Libya or Egypt (Athens had recently lost a fleet aiding an Egyptian revolt against Persia).

Our knowledge of the Peace of Callias comes from references by the 4th century BC orators Isocrates and Demosthenes as well as the historian Diodorus. The ancient historian Theopompus deemed it a fabrication arguing that the inscription of the treaty was a fake – the lettering used hadn't come into practice until half a century after the treaty was purporting to have been agreed. It is possible that the treaty never officially existed, and if it was concluded, its importance is disputed. Thucydides did not mention it, but Herodotus says something that may reasonably be construed as supporting its existence, as does Plutarch, who thought it had either been signed after the Battle of the Eurymedon in 466 BC, or that it had never been signed at all.

In any case, there seems to have been some agreement reached ending hostilities with Persia after 450/449, which allowed Athens to deal with the new threats from the other Greek states such as Corinth and Thebes, as well as Euboea which rebelled from the Delian League shortly after this. These conflicts may have arisen when Athenian 'allies' felt there was no longer a justification for the Delian League (which had developed from the Spartan-led Hellenic League that defeated Xerxes' invasion), as Persia was apparently no longer a threat.

As Athens demanded more and more tribute and exerted more political and economic control over its allies, the League became more of a true empire, and many of Athens' 'allies' began to rebel. Although Callias was also responsible for a peace (The Thirty Years' Peace) with Sparta in 446–445 BC, the growing Athenian threat would eventually lead to the Peloponnesian War. Fighting between the Greeks and the Persians subsided after 450, but Persia continued to meddle in Greek affairs and was to become instrumental in securing a Spartan victory in the Peloponnesian War. Nonetheless, it remains a controversial topic among historians and scholars today.


Primary Sources

Diodorus Siculus 12.4.

Histories, 7.151.

Secondary Sources

De Ste. Croix, G.E.M.,The Origins of the Peloponnesian War, London 1972 (especially the Appendices).

Rhodes, P.J. The History of the Classical World 478–323 BC, 2005.

Badian, E. “The Peace of Callias.” The Journal of Hellenic Studies 50 (1987): 1–39.

Samons, Loren J. “Kimon, Kallias and Peace with Persia.” Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte 47 (1998): 129–140.

Persian Warfare

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