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The Peloponessian War 431 – 404 B.C. “ If one looks at the facts themselves, one will see that this was the greatest war of all.” Thucydides.

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Presentation on theme: "The Peloponessian War 431 – 404 B.C. “ If one looks at the facts themselves, one will see that this was the greatest war of all.” Thucydides."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Peloponessian War 431 – 404 B.C. “ If one looks at the facts themselves, one will see that this was the greatest war of all.” Thucydides

2 The Peloponnesian War 431 – 404 B.C. The Archdamian War (431 – 421 B.C.) Peace of Nicias Sicilian Expedition 415 B.C. The Sicilian War The Ionian/ Decelean War (413 – 404 B.C.) Oligarchic Coup of Athens (411 B.C.) Defeat of Athens & End of Delian League (404 B.C.)


4 Contents Historical Background Thirty Years’ Peace * Greek World 431 B.C. * Spartan Society * Athenian Society Clash of Cultures? * Pericles * Declaration of War Battle of Sybota* The Potidaean Affair Cleon Alcibiades The Great Plague Death of Pericles The Archdamian War (431 – 421 B.C.) Peace of Nicias Sicilian Expedition 415 B.C. The Sicilian War The Ionian/ Decelean War (413 – 404 B.C.) Oligarchic Coup of Athens (411 B.C.) Defeat of Athens & End of Delian League (404 B.C.)

5 Historical Background Both Athens and Sparta had grown as empires throughout the latter part of the 6 th Century B.C. and early 5 th Century B.C. The First Peloponnesian War had broken out in 460 B.C. as a result of

6 Empires & Alliances Athens: Delian League Sparta: Peloponnesian League Phlius Orneae Megara Elis Mantinea Thebes Corinth

7 Thirty Years’ Peace Signed between Athens & Sparta in 445 B.C. which brought the First Peloponnesian War to an end. Lasted only 13 years. Arbitration was codified as a necessary precursor to any conflict between the two. Recognised both empires (alliances) as legitimate Allowed neutral city-states & regions to join either alliance, but none could switch alliances Neither alliance could interfere with other’s allies Athens had to give up a few territories, including Megarian ports

8 The Greek World 431 B.C.

9 Athens & Port of Piraeus


11 Clash of Cultures or Hellenistic Power Struggle? Athens Leader of the Delian League Democratic * Semi-Liberal Cosmopolitan Cultured & Artistic Maritime Empire Diverse Trade Links Sparta Leader of the Peloponnesian League Oligarchic Ultra-Conservative, Militaristic Society Insular & Isolationist Superstitious & Patriarchal Land Power Homogenistic

12 Spartan Society An Oligarchic, Demi-Monarchic Complexity King Spartans Helots Perioikoi Traders & manufacturers “like someone sitting in wait for disasters to strike the Spartans” Aristotle They would gladly eat the Spartans raw” Xenophon “most institutions among the Spartans have always been established with regard to security against the Helots” Thucydides Gerousia: Council of 28

13 Sparta ‘Mixed constitution’; containing monarchic, oligarchic & democratic elements

14 Sparta’s Allies: The Peloponnesian League

15 Athenian Society: A Democratic-

16 The Delian League Founded in early 5 th Century B.C. to resist the Persian threat. Other city states joined. Treasury initially located in Delos Members gave money (not ships) to combine their efforts in resisting Persian threat Treasury moved to Athens in 454 B.C. Monies were used to strengthen the military (naval) power of Athens and also used to aid the construction of the Parthenon

17 Pericles’ Building Programme Pericles initiated an ambitious building programme in 455 B.C.

18 Pericles 495 – 429 B.C. “Freedom is the sure possession of those alone who have the courage to defend it” “We do not imitate, but are a model to others” “Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you” “Future ages will wonder at us, as the present age wonders at us now.”

19 Pericles Became leader of Athens in 461 B.C. establishing a popular vote in the Athenian Assembly which ultimately resulted in the exile of the Athenian leader, Cimon. A patron of the arts Hostile to Sparta Led the ambitious building programme of Athens – resulting in the timeless architectures of the Parthenon and the Acropolis Ambitious, democratic and a great orator Founded many of the democratic institutions of Athens Led the mission to recapture Delphi from the Spartans in 448 B.C. and the invasion of Samos ‘Age of Pericles’ = 460 – 429 B.C.

20 Corcyra & Corinth: Emissaries in Athens Corcyra “A victim to the injustice of others” “your welcome of us under these circumstances will be a proof of goodwill which will ever keep alive the gratitude you will lay up in our hearts.” “yourselves excepted, we are the greatest naval power in Hellas” “a power that comes in quest of assistance being in a position to give to the people whose alliance she solicits as much safety and honour as she will receive” Corinth “Corinth is at least in treaty with you; with Corcyra you were never even in truce.” “Why, if you make it your policy to receive and assist all offenders, you will find that just as many of your dependencies will come over to us, and the principle that you establish will press less heavily on us than on yourselves” “When you were in want of ships of war for the war against the Aeginetans, before the Persian invasion, Corinth supplied you with twenty vessels.”

21 Corinth v. Corcyra: Battle of Sybota 433 B.C. Athens receives emissaries from both Corinth & Corcyra over dispute Corcyra appeals for Athenian help BUT Corinth warns Athens of any involvement in internal Corinthian affairs Athens decides to help Corcyra, albeit in a defensive posture, sending ten ships to aid her defence. Just as the Corinthians were about to defeat Corcyra, a further 20 Athenian triremes arrived to bolster their defense. When questioned by Corinthians, Athenians steadfastly declare their willingness to defend Corcyra. Both Corinth & Sparta interpret this as a breach of the Thirty Years’ Peace treaty.

22 Battle of Sybota 433 B.C. Significance: 1)Known as the ‘first grievance’ between the Athenians & Spartans 2)Athenian response to Corinthian delegation at the Battle of Sybota: "Neither are we beginning war, Peloponnesians, nor are we breaking the treaty; but these Corcyraeans are our allies, and we are come to help them. So if you want to sail anywhere else, we place no obstacle in your way; but if you are going to sail against Corcyra, or any of her possessions, we shall do our best to stop you." 3)Both sides claimed victory in this battle.

23 Pericles’ Funeral Oration

24 In this funeral oration for the Athenian soldiers, Pericles makes his famous speech concerning the virtues of Athens, it’s citizens and their way of life. Pericles describes Athens as a “model to others” rather than an imitator. Pericles places Athens’ strength in its citizens, their character being a reflection of the society they inhabit. Pericles also makes subtle references to Sparta and the regressive nature of their military strength. Pericles extols the courage of the dead Athenians, imploring others to take their place to secure Athens’ destiny as the greatest, and most forward- thinking state in the Hellenic world.

25 Thucydides: Percilean Ideology

26 The City of Epidamnus

27 Spartan Declaration of War


29 The Potidaean Revolt 432 B.C. Colony of Corinth but a tributary ally of Athens.*

30 Three Phases of War The Archdamian War 431 – 421 B.C. The Sicilian War The Ionian/ Declean War

31 The Archdamian War 431 – 421 B.C. 431 – Outbreak of Plague in Athens 429 - Siege at Plataea Death of Pericles 428 – Revolt of Mytilene 427 – Debate of Mytilene 426 - 422 – Battle of Amphipolis 421 – Peace of Nicias

32 Siege at Plataea 429 B.C. 300 Thebans were smuggled into the town of Plataea, with the intent to kill and overthrow the democratic leaders. Instead, they attempted to persuade the citizens to change their alliances The citizenry, realising how small the invading force was, attacked them, killing most of them and trapping the rest in a building

33 Siege at Plataea 429 B.C. Archidamus beseiged the twon of Plataea, which only consisted of 800 citizens and 85 Athenians The Plataeans resisted courageously & Archidamus resorted to starving the city out Eventually, about half of the population escaped, but the other half eventually surrendered These were brought before a Spartan court, where they were asked simply "Whether, during the present war, they had rendered any assistance to the Lacedaemonians and their allies?" These 200 citizens & 25 Athenians were then executed. This is seen as one of the overt causes of the Peloponnesian War

34 Thucydides Account: Plataea "the treaty had now been broken by an overt act after the affair at Plataea" "Athens and Lacedaemon now resolved to send embassies to the King and to such other of the barbarian powers as either party could look to for assistance."

35 The Great Plague

36 Effects of the Plague: Pericles' Strategic Flaw Pericles' strategy had depended on the Athenian Navy protecting their supply ships to the Port of Pireus This strategy proved to be their undoing; as the surrounding population of Attica retreated behind the walls of Athens, the over-crowding would contribute to the disease The supply ships apparently brought the plague with them and the whole city of Athens, walled in, became a hot-bed of disease As the disease spread, Thucydides writes of the physical, social and moral decay that beset the city. In his account, we see Thucydides depart from his usual scientific, dispassioned accounts.

37 Thucydides: Effects of the Plague Physical: “discharges of bile of every kind named by physicians ensued, accompanied by very great distress...internally it burned so that the patient could not bear to have on him clothing or linen even of the very lightest description; or who plunged into the rain-tanks in their agonies of unquenchable thirst..... for it settled in the privy parts, the fingers and the toes, and many escaped with the loss of these, some too with that of their eyes”

38 Thucydides: Effects of the Plague Social: “the bodies of dying men lay one upon another, and half-dead creatures reeled about the streets and gathered round all the fountains in their longing for water.... sacred places also in which they had quartered themselves were full of corpses of persons that had died there...... for as the disaster passed all bounds, men, not knowing what was to become of them, became utterly careless of everything, whether sacred or profane.... they threw their own dead body upon the stranger's pyre and ignited it; sometimes they tossed the corpse which they were carrying on the top of another that was burning, and so went off....”

39 Thucydides: Effects of the Plague Moral: “Men now coolly ventured on what they had formerly done in a corner, and not just as they pleased, seeing the rapid transitions produced by persons in prosperity suddenly dying and those who before had nothing succeeding to their property..... they resolved to spend quickly and enjoy themselves, regarding their lives and riches as alike things of a day..... it was settled that present enjoyment, and all that contributed to it, was both honourable and useful..... Fear of gods or law of man there was none to restrain them..... As for the first, they judged it to be just the same whether they worshipped them or not, as they saw all alike perishing; and for the last, no one expected to live to be brought to trial for his offences, but each felt that a far severer sentence had been already passed upon them all and hung ever over their heads, and before this fell it was only reasonable to enjoy life a little.”


41 Death of Pericles 429 B.C.

42 Revolt of Mytilene 428 B.C.

43 Why Mytilene Revolted Mytilenians saw an opportunity (plague in Athens, death of Pericles and continuing war) of removing themselves from the Athenian Delian League and of establishing their rule over the whole island of Lesbos. Mytilene hoped to unify the entire Island of Lesbos under its control Methymna, however, was a loyal ally of Athens Peloponnesian caution as always, had delayed the offer of Mytilenean revolt before the war Tenedians & Mytilenians informed Athens of impending insurrection against Athenian control

44 Revolt of Mytilene Athens, upon realising that rumours of Mytilene were true, dispatched forty ships to Lesbos. They were to demand the turnover of Mytilean ships and the tearing down of their walls. If not, all-out war was to be waged. Mytileans were informed of the coming of the Athenians and began barricading themselves inside their town After an initial skirmish with the Athenian fleet, the Mytilenians sued for peace. The offer was accepted and a Mytilenian ambassador was dispatched to Athens to plead their innocence and in hope of regaining their ships detained at Athens. However, in case of failure, the Mytilenians also sent an ambassador to Lacedaemon to plead for assistance. This duplicity would have profound implications for the citizenry of Mytilene.

45 Battle of Lesbos Mytilenian ambassador to Athens returns empty-handed; battle recommences Athenians & their allies formed a naval blockade of the island An Anthenian sortie meanwhile ravaged lands along the coast of the Peloponnese The Mytilenian Ambassador was instructed by the Spartans to come to Olympia, so that the Peloponnese Alliance could hear his request. The Mytilenian rationale in this speech is......

46 Mytileanian Request "Justice and honesty will be the first topics of our speech, especially as we are asking for alliance; long as the Athenians led us fairly we followed them loyally; but when we saw them relax their hostility to the Mede, to try to compass the subjection of the allies, then our apprehensions began......but the same system also enabled them to lead the stronger states against the weaker first, and so to leave the former to the last, stripped of their natural allies, and less capable of resistance... We accepted each other against our inclination; fear made them court us in war, and us them in peace... Our revolt, however, has taken place prematurely and without preparation- a fact which makes it all the more incumbent on you to receive us into alliance and to send us speedy relief, in order to show that you support your friends, and at the same time do harm to your enemies.

47 Athens Invades Peloponnese invade Attica (after request of Mytilenians) Athens ravages Spartan coast Mytilenians attack Methymna (ally of Athens) Athens reponds with an invasion force; first by a naval blockade of the town, reinforced by 1,000 infantrymen under Paches, blockading Mytilene with a wall either side; by land and by sea. Salaethus was sent to inform the Mytilenians of forthcoming help from the Peloponnesians. (40 ships) Eventually, the Mytilenians realise that no help is forthcoming from the Peloponnesians, demand that the city authorities sue for peace with the Athenians. Salaethus' attempt to lead the citizenry in arms against the Athenians leads to this general consensus of peace-seeking.

48 Settlement in Lesbos Paches, the Athenian commander, now took control of Mytilene & seized Antissa. Paches sent Salaethus and over a thousand Mytilenians to Athens to await judegement Paches then settled in Mytilene with the remainder of his forces, dispatching most of them back to Athens with the prisoners

49 Debate of Mytilene (427 B.C.)

50 Debate in Athens: Mytilene Salaethus was immediately put to death, nothwithstanding his offer of removing the Peloponnesians from Plataea Great resentment & anger was felt at the Mytilenian revolt The Peloponnesian fleet, spotted on its way to relieve the Mytilenian insurrection against Athens, now became evidence of a long- planned treachery of Mytilene against Athens. Many felt that severe punishment should be brought against Mytilene: 1) Kill the entire male population of Mytilene, not just the guilty prisoners brought to Athens 2) enslave all the females and children of Mytilene A message was dispatched to Paches, at Mytilene, to carry out these orders.

51 Cleon: Warmonger & Demagogue? Cleon, a former opponent of Pericles in the Athenian Assembly and now one of its most powerful statesmen, advocated a total reprisal against the Mytilenian population as an example to the rest of the Delian League. Cleon had proposed the removal of Pericles in 430 BC for 'maladministration of Athenian finances' Described by Thucydides as a warmonger and demagogue: Thucydides was exiled due to a decree by Cleon for 'military incapacity' Cleon has become infamous in history for his proposal to genocidally-cleanse Mytilene both in reprisal and for the sake of setting an example to all of Athens' rivals Image Opposite: Bluster, from AristophanesKnights

52 Mytilenian Debate: Cleon "I have often before now been convinced that a democracy is incapable of empire” “never reflect that the mistakes into which you may be led by listening to their appeals” “bring you no thanks for your weakness from your allies; entirely forgetting that your empire is a despotism and your subjects disaffected conspirators, whose obedience is ensured not by your suicidal concessions, but by the superiority given you by your own strength and not their loyalty” “ ordinary men usually manage public affairs better than their more gifted fellows. The latter are always wanting to appear wiser than the laws, and to overrule every proposition brought forward, thinking that they cannot show their wit in more important matters” “where vengeance follows most closely upon the wrong, it best equals it and most amply requites it” “this is not revolt- revolt implies oppression; it is deliberate and wanton aggression; an attempt to ruin us by siding with our bitterest enemies; a worse offence than a war undertaken on their own account in the acquisition of power”

53 Mytilenian Debate: Diodotus




57 Peace of Nicias 421 B.C.

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