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Siege of Epidamnus, 435 BC
The siege of Epidamnus (435 BC) saw the Corcyraeans capture their own former colony, overcoming a garrison partly provided by their own mother city of Corinth (Corinth-Corcyra War, 435-431 BC).
Epidamnus, on the Albanian coast, was a Greek colony founded by Corcyra (modern Corfu). Corcyra was herself a colony of Corinth, and so in keeping with tradition a Corinthian, Phalius, son of Eratocleides, from the then ruling family of the Heraclids, had been selected as the official founder of the city, and the original colonists included a number of Corinthians amongst the Corcyraeans. As with most Ancient Greek cities Epidamnus was the scene of constant strife between the Aristocratic and Democratic factions within the city, and it was also often threatened by the surrounding Illyrians.
In the period just before the siege the Democrats had come to power and had exiled many of the Aristocrats. The exiles had allied themselves with the Illyrians, and began a series of raids on the city. They also attempted to enlist the help of Corcyra, playing on their family connections to the city. The Democrats of Epidamnus also attempted to enlist help from the Corcyra, but with less success, failing to even win an audience.
Their next step was to ask for help from Corinth (after consulting the Oracle of Delphi). The Oracle told them to hand control of their city over to Corinth, an offer than the Corinthians happily accepted. A first group of new colonists from Corinth, Ambracia and Leucas reached Epidamnus safely, marching via Apollonia to avoid the Corcyraean fleet.
The Corcyraeans reacted angrily to the arrival of the new colonists. A fleet of twenty five ships (with fifteen ships following behind) was sent to Epidamnus, where they demanded that the new colonists should be ejected and the exiles allowed back into the city. When the Epidamnians rejected these demands the Corcyraeans joined with the local Illyrians and the aristocrat exiles and began to besiege the city.
When news of the siege reached Corinth a relief force was raised, eventually reaching a strength of 75 ships carrying 2,000 hoplites (and probably a large number of more lightly armed missile troops, recorded as being present at the battle of Sybota two years later). This relief expedition was defeated at the naval battle of Leucimme (435 BC), fought in the seas between the southern part of Corfu and the gulf of Actium.
Even if the Corinthians had been victorious at Leucimme, it would have been too late. The defenders of Epidamnus were already desperate, and on the very same day as the naval battle the city surrendered (given the distance between Leucimme and Epidamnus the two events have to be unrelated). Under the terms of the surrender all Corinthian citizens were held as hostages, while all other foreign troops and settlers were to be sold into slavery.
The two victories on the same day put the Corcyraeans in strong position, which they exploited over the next year, but when it became clear that Corinth intended to continue the fight the previously neutral Corcyraeans decided to attempt to join the Athenian League in order to gain allies in the next stage of the war. This fateful step eventually saw the war between Corinth and Corcyra escalate into the Great Peloponnesian War and drag in most of Greece.
Plague of Athens
The Plague of Athens (Ancient Greek: Λοιμὸς τῶν Ἀθηνῶν , Loimos tôn Athênôn) was an epidemic that devastated the city-state of Athens in ancient Greece during the second year (430 BC) of the Peloponnesian War when an Athenian victory still seemed within reach. The plague killed an estimated 75,000 to 100,000 people, around one quarter of the population, and is believed to have entered Athens through Piraeus, the city's port and sole source of food and supplies.  Much of the eastern Mediterranean also saw an outbreak of the disease, albeit with less impact. 
The plague had serious effects on Athens' society, resulting in a lack of adherence to laws and religious belief in response laws became stricter, resulting in the punishment of non-citizens claiming to be Athenian. Among the victims of the plague was Pericles, the leader of Athens.  The plague returned twice more, in 429 BC and in the winter of 427/426 BC. Some 30 pathogens have been suggested as having caused the plague. 
The Plague of Athens 430-427 BC – First Recorded Epidemic
Once again, the Greeks did it first but this time, it was not something to brag about, pandemics and epidemics have plagued society throughout history but the earliest recorded outbreak, the plague of Athens ( Λοιμός τῶν Ἀθηνῶν -Loimos tôn Athênôn), hit ancient Greece in 430 BC during the second year of the Peloponnesian War.
The plague returned twice more to Athens, once in, in 429 BC and again in the winter of 427/426 BC, before finally dying out in 426 BC.
Lysander outside the walls of Athens. 19th century lithograph.
A pandemic (πᾶν – pan all and δῆμος – demos – people), is a disease that has spread across a large region, continents, or even worldwide, while an an epidemic (ἐπί – epi – upon or above and δῆμος – demos people), is a disease which does not cross international borders.
A disease or condition is not a pandemic merely because it is widespread or kills many people it must also be infectious, cancer causes many deaths but is not considered a pandemic because it’s not infectious or contagious.
Pieter Bruegel’s The Triumph of Death (c. 1562) reflects the social upheaval and terror that followed the plague that devastated medieval Europe.
As with most epidemics, the plague of Athens, thought to have originated in Africa, south of Ethiopia and then swept through Egypt and Libya, across the Mediterranean, into Persia, and entered Greece through port of ancient Athens, Piraeus, was totally unexpected and resulted in one of the largest recorded loss of life in ancient Greece, killing around 75,000 to 100,000 people, about a third of the population and by most accounts, was the most lethal episode of illness in Classical Greece history.
Much of the Eastern Mediterranean was also affected by the plague, but Athens bore the brunt of it.
We are provided with rather gory details surrounding the plague of Athens, by Thucydides (460- 400 BC), an Athenian historian and general, who at the time happened to be writing his ‘History of the Peloponnesian War’, the fifth century war between Sparta and Athens (431–404 BC), and who was unlucky enough to fall prey to the illness but fortunate enough to survive.
Thucydides’s Account of the Plague of Athens
Early Roman Empire portrait of Thucydides found on a mosaic floor at Seleuceia (Turkey), Antalya Museum. Photo by Carole Radatto
Two years into the Peloponnese war between Sparta and Athens, Thucydides, took a break in writing his ‘History of the Peloponnesian War’, to write a description of the plague, known in Greek as πανούκλa – panoukla, or, a more polite version of the word, πανώλη-panoli.
Thucydides, The Peloponnese Wars. Title page to a translation by Thomas Hobbes.
Being mostly land-based powers, Sparta and her allies had rounded up large armies, who, under the orders of Pericles, Greek statesman and general of Athens, retreated inside the city walls of Athens, not a wise move as it turned out as the mass exodus into an already overflowing city, caused overpopulation and food shortage.
Owing to the close quarters, and poor hygiene, Athens became a breeding ground for disease. (Pericles, his wife and sons eventually died from the Athens plague).
Marble bust of Pericles with a Corinthian helmet, Roman copy of a Greek original, Museo Chiaramonti, Vatican Museums
Thucydides tells us, symptoms of the illness, which came to be known as the Plague of Athens, began in the head and worked their way through the rest of the body.
‘Violent heats in the head redness and inflammation of the eyes throat and tongue quickly suffused with blood breath became unnatural and fetid sneezing and hoarseness violent cough’ vomiting retching violent convulsions the body externally not so hot to the touch, nor yet pale a livid color inkling to red breaking out in pustules and ulcers.’
He goes on to tell us, temperatures were so high, sufferers could not bear the touch of clothing against their skin and found the sole relief was to immerse themselves in cold water.
Other vile symptoms were a raging thirst, which, no matter how much liquid was drunk, could not be quenched, sleep was nearly impossible and many died seven to nine days after the onset of the symptoms.
Inspired by Black Death, The Dance of Death is an allegory on the universality of death and a common painting motif in late medieval period.
Many survivors suffered from disfigurement of their genitals and extremities plus a loss of sight and memory, those who did survive the plague though, had developed immunity and so were able to tend to those who later fell victim to the disease.
Ancient Greece had never experienced anything like it, doctors, knowing nothing of the disease, which was spreading like wildfire, were helpless and usually the first to succumb to the illness, through their constant close contact with the victims of this catastrophe.
The dead were left to rot, or piled, one on top of the other, into mass graves, or burned on funeral pyres, the sight of which, caused the Spartans to flee from their posts and Athens.
The Backlash of the Plague of Athens
People began ignoring the state laws, to them, it seemed they were already sentenced to death, some, as they did not expect to live long enough to enjoy whatever wealth they had amassed, started throwing their money around as if there were no tomorrow, the poorer citizens were more optimistic, and dreamed of living long enough to become wealthy by inheriting the property of their relatives.
Plague of Thebes.Plague of Thebes by C.F Jalabeat
Many, who did remain in Athens, turned out to be metics (a foreign resident of Athens, who did not have citizen’s rights in their Greek city-state of residence) and who had either forged their papers or bribed officials to conceal their original status, metics who were rounded up, often became slaves.
This resulted in tougher laws, applying to who could become an Athenian citizen, which, in turn, resulted, not only in the reduction of potential soldiers but also in poor treatment and loss of rights for metics in Athens.
Athens, never recovered from the catastrophic plague, morale, among both civilians and soldiers, was at an all time low, political power was weakened and to top it all, Athens fell from its position as an ancient Greek super power, when she was defeated by Sparta.
A religious Rift
The plague of Athens struck haphazardly, seemingly with complete disregard for the gods or a person’s religious leanings, leaving the people feeling abandoned and doubting their faith.
The temples of ancient Greece, once places of refuge, were now places of despair, brimming with the dead and dying, people began to give up on the gods, in whom they had once placed their hope, surely, they told themselves, if gods existed, they would have not have let this affliction destroy their country and their lives.
Acropolis of Athens at the time of Pericles ca. 450 BC
Suspicions began to form in the minds of the ancient Athenians, were this not evidence that the gods were rooting for the Spartans, and were against the Athenians?
Even the oracle at Delphi, had prophesied that Apollo, patron deity of the sanctuary there and god of disease and medicine, would fight on the side of the Spartans and if that was not bad enough, an earlier prediction warned a Spartan war was at hand, which would bring with it pestilence.
Modern day evidence of the plague of Athens
The first real evidence supporting the writings of Thucydides, about the plague of Athens, did not come to light until 1994, when a mass grave, together with hundreds of tombs, dated at around 430-426 BC were discovered a little way outside Athens’ ancient Kerameikos cemetery.
The archaeological site of Kerameikos, Athens
Excavators found that the grave did not have the usual monumental character, offerings left there were cheap, and the bodies had been placed very quickly into the grave, suggesting the whole thing had been managed in a state of panic, owing to a plague maybe?
Α reconstructed appearance of Myrtis, an 11-year-old girl who died during the plague of Athens and whose skeleton was found in the Kerameikos mass grave, National Archaeological Museum of Athens
Α reconstructed appearance of Myrtis, an 11-year-old girl who died during the plague of Athens and whose skeleton was found in the Kerameikos mass grave, National Archaeological Museum of Athens.
What caused the plague of Athens?
The Plague at Athens’ by Nicolas Poussin depicting the infamous plague which struck ancient Athens in 430-427 BCE. (Gallery of Sir Frederick Cook, Richmond, UK)
In addition to the overcrowding of ancient Athens, a shortage of food and water, a probable increase in fleas, rats, and refuse, causing extremely unhygienic conditions, could have aided maybe more than one epidemic, initially, historians and scientists, had thought the disease which caused the Plague of Athens, to be an outbreak of the bubonic plague.
Now, after more careful consideration of the symptoms described by Thucydides, they are coming up with alternative explanations, such as typhus, smallpox, measles, and toxic shock syndrome.
On comparing similarities with recent outbreaks in Africa, as well as taking into account that the Athens plague originated there, Ebola or a related viral hemorrhagic fever has been considered.
Since the first known endemic, the plague of Athens, in 430 BC, many more pandemics and endemics have wiped out large numbers of the human population worldwide.
Below are ten of the most significant pandemics to have struck human kind, including coronavirus, a pandemic in the making.
1. Plague of Justinian (541 – 750 AD)
Justinian I (483 – 565 AD) ruled the Byzantine (aka Eastern Roman) Empire, and reconquered much of the Western Roman Empire before losing it again.
An outbreak of the bubonic plague during the reign of Justinian I, the emperor of the Byzantine Empire, in the 6th century, is thought to have killed between 30 million and 50 million people, maybe, at that time, half of the world’s population, the Roman Empire was never united again, and the Dark Ages began.
2. Black Death (1347 – 1351)
Image from the Toggenburg Bible (1411) of plague victims suffering from boils. Wikimedia Commons
Between 1347 and 1351, bubonic plague spread throughout Europe, killing about 25 million people, European population levels took over 200 years to return to their level from
before 1347. It killed more people in Asia, especially China, where it is thought to have originated.
3. Smallpox (15th – 17th centuries)
Europeans introduced new diseases when they arrived in the continents of the Americas in 1492, one of these was smallpox, a contagious disease that kills around 30% of those infected and claimed the lives of around 20 million people, about 90% of the population of America.
The pandemic helped Europeans colonize and develop the newly deserted areas, altering American history forever.
4. Cholera (1817 – 1823)
The first cholera pandemic broke out in Jessore, India, and spread to neighboring areas, it was the first of seven cholera pandemics that have killed millions of people
John Snow a British physician, discovered how to prevent it spreading, and in 1854 prevented an outbreak by isolating its source to a particular water pump in London’s Soho neighborhood.
5. Spanish Flu, or H1N1 (1918 – 1919)
people in England wear different looking masks to prevent Spanish Flu Circa 1932
Spanish Flu, also known as the 1918 influenza pandemic, was an outbreak of a H1N1 virus that infected around 500 million people, a third of the world’s population, in the early 21st century.
At the time of the outbreak, World War I was coming to an end and public health authorities had no official protocols in place for dealing with viral pandemics, which contributed to its large impact.
6. Hong Kong Flu, or H3N2 (1968 – 1970)
Fifty years after the Spanish Flu, another influenza virus, H3N2, hit the world, with the number of global fatalities reaching around one million people, about 100,000 of who were in the United States.
The 1968 pandemic was the third outbreak of influenza to occur in the 20th century, the other two being the Spanish Flu in 1918 and the Asian flu pandemic of 1957.
It’s thought that the virus responsible for the Asian flu evolved and reemerged 10 years later as “Hong Kong flu,” resulting in the H3N2 pandemic.
7. HIV/AIDS (1981 – present)
The first cases of HIV/AIDS were reported in 1981 but still continue to infect and kill people today, since 1981, 75 million people have had the HIV virus and approximately 32 million have died as a result.
As a sexually transmitted disease, for, which, as yet, there is no cure, HIV/AIDS is an epidemic which continues to strike millions of people every year, despite the lack of a cure for AIDS, antiretroviral therapy medications can control HIV and slow its progress, allowing infected people to live long lives.
8. SARS (2002 – 2003)
SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, is an illness caused by one of the 7 corona viruses that can infect humans, in 2003, an outbreak that originated China became a global pandemic as it rapidly spread to twenty six countries, infecting over 8,000 people and killing 774 of them.
The consequences of the 2003 SARS pandemic were limited due to an intense public health response by global authorities, including quarantining affected areas and isolating infected individuals.
Scientists studying the new 2019 coronavirus have found that its genetic makeup is 86.9% identical to the SARS virus officials are now comparing the two, to see if governments can successfully duplicate the containment procedures from 2003.
9. Swine Flu, or H1N1 (2009 – 2010
A new form of the influenza virus emerged in 2009, infecting approximately 60.8 million people in the US global deaths were in the range of 151,700 to 575,400.
Named “swine flu” as it appeared to pass from pigs to humans, H1N1 differed from typical influenza outbreaks in that 80% of the virus-related deaths occurred in people younger than 65, usually, 70% to 90% of deaths from influenza outbreaks occur in those older than 65.
H1N1 showed how quickly a viral pandemic can spread in the 21st century, indicating that additional preparations would be needed for the global community to respond faster in the future.
Swine flu exposed the vulnerability of many countries with advanced healthcare systems to a fast-moving, flu-like outbreak.
10. Ebola (2014 – 2016)
The Ebola virus is named after the river close to the initial outbreak and compared to modern pandemics, is limited in its range but still deadly.
It began in a small village in Guinea in 2014 and spread to neighboring countries in West Africa, killing 11,325 of the 28,600 infected people, with most cases occurring in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
Corona virus or COVID-19 (2019 – present)
A computer illustration of coronavirus particles.
The outbreak of coronavirus, which causes a disease known as COVID-19, has revealed vulnerabilities in the global community’s response to outbreaks of viruses.
As of March 5, 2020, worldwide cases had grown to over 97,000, with more than 3,300 deaths, the majority of cases are in China, although it has spread to at least 86 other countries.
Estimates indicate that Corona virus will spread throughout the world and could eventually infect 40% – 70% of the global population
A study by The Australian National University estimates the corona virus will cause millions of deaths and will register a hit to global GDP of $2.4 trillion.
Even the smallest of flu outbreaks are cause for concern, but full blown pandemics are the stuff nightmares are made of, be sensible, be responsible, wash your hands frequently, stay away from crowded places.
Above all, don’t start stockpiling on hand wash, food and loo rolls, don’t be selfish, think of others, you know the golden rule, right? ‘Do unto others as you would have others do unto you’.
Stay calm, catch up on your Netflix series, and read all those books you have been meaning to get around to (and if you’re anything like me, have a YouTube “True Crime’ bonanza!).
Siege of Epidamnus, 435 BC - History
This page is part of the "tools" section of a site, Plato and his dialogues, dedicated to developing a new interpretation of Plato's dialogues. The "tools" section provides historical and geographical context (chronology, maps, entries on characters and locations) for Socrates, Plato and their time. By clicking on the minimap at the beginning of the entry, you can go to a full size map in which the city or location appears. For more information on the structure of entries and links available from them, read the notice at the beginning of the index of persons and locations.
City of Illyria, on the northwestern coast of Greece facing Italy (area 10).
Epidamnus was a colony of Corcyra (itself a colony of Corinth) founded around 625 B. C. with the help of a leader ( oikistes , or chief settler) from the mother city of Corinth named Phalius. Over time, the city became opulent, but then, internal conflicts followed by a disatrous war against local Illyrian populations ruined the city. And this is how, according to Thucydides ( Histories , I,24, sq), Epidamnus became around 435 the cause of a conflict between Corcyra and Corinth in which Athens was dragged and which preluded to the Peloponnesian war. A democratic regime took over in Epidamnus but was submitted to razzias waged by the exiled aristocracy allied with local Illyrians. Unable to find support from Corcyra, the democrats of Epidamnus called upon Corinth, which, worried about the growing power, naval capabilities and lack of consideration for the motherland of its colony, was all too happy to help. Corinth sent a rescue mission and a new contingent of settlers to Epidamnus, but Corcyra besieged Epidamnus, won a land and sea battle near the city and took it. This episode started a war between Corinth and Corcyra, and the later, seeking alliances, signed a treaty with Athens. This is how, two years later, Athens found herself involved in a naval battle against Corinth, which was one more step toward a general war.
First published January 4, 1998 - Last updated December 2, 1998 © 1998 Bernard SUZANNE (click on name to send your comments via e-mail) Quotations from theses pages are authorized provided they mention the author's name and source of quotation (including date of last update). Copies of these pages must not alter the text and must leave this copyright mention visible in full.
Siege of Epidamnus, 435 BC - History
Translated by Richard Crawley
The State of Greece from the earliest Times to the Commencement of the Peloponnesian War
Thucydides, an Athenian, wrote the history of the war between the Peloponnesians and the Athenians, beginning at the moment that it broke out, and believing that it would be a great war and more worthy of relation than any that had preceded it. This belief was not without its grounds. The preparations of both the combatants were in every department in the last state of perfection and he could see the rest of the Hellenic race taking sides in the quarrel those who delayed doing so at once having it in contemplation. Indeed this was the greatest movement yet known in history, not only of the Hellenes, but of a large part of the barbarian world- I had almost said of mankind. For though the events of remote antiquity, and even those that more immediately preceded the war, could not from lapse of time be clearly ascertained, yet the evidences which an inquiry carried as far back as was practicable leads me to trust, all point to the conclusion that there was nothing on a great scale, either in war or in other matters.
For instance, it is evident that the country now called Hellas had in ancient times no settled population on the contrary, migrations were of frequent occurrence, the several tribes readily abandoning their homes under the pressure of superior numbers. Without commerce, without freedom of communication either by land or sea, cultivating no more of their territory than the exigencies of life required, destitute of capital, never planting their land (for they could not tell when an invader might not come and take it all away, and when he did come they had no walls to stop him), thinking that the necessities of daily sustenance could be supplied at one place as well as another, they cared little for shifting their habitation, and consequently neither built large cities nor attained to any other form of greatness. The richest soils were always most subject to this change of masters such as the district now called Thessaly, Boeotia, most of the Peloponnese, Arcadia excepted, and the most fertile parts of the rest of Hellas. The goodness of the land favoured the aggrandizement of particular individuals, and thus created faction which proved a fertile source of ruin. It also invited invasion. Accordingly Attica, from the poverty of its soil enjoying from a very remote period freedom from faction, never changed its inhabitants. And here is no inconsiderable exemplification of my assertion that the migrations were the cause of there being no correspondent growth in other parts. The most powerful victims of war or faction from the rest of Hellas took refuge with the Athenians as a safe retreat and at an early period, becoming naturalized, swelled the already large population of the city to such a height that Attica became at last too small to hold them, and they had to send out colonies to Ionia.
There is also another circumstance that contributes not a little to my conviction of the weakness of ancient times. Before the Trojan war there is no indication of any common action in Hellas, nor indeed of the universal prevalence of the name on the contrary, before the time of Hellen, son of Deucalion, no such appellation existed, but the country went by the names of the different tribes, in particular of the Pelasgian. It was not till Hellen and his sons grew strong in Phthiotis, and were invited as allies into the other cities, that one by one they gradually acquired from the connection the name of Hellenes though a long time elapsed before that name could fasten itself upon all. The best proof of this is furnished by Homer. Born long after the Trojan War, he nowhere calls all of them by that name, nor indeed any of them except the followers of Achilles from Phthiotis, who were the original Hellenes: in his poems they are called Danaans, Argives, and Achaeans. He does not even use the term barbarian, probably because the Hellenes had not yet been marked off from the rest of the world by one distinctive appellation. It appears therefore that the several Hellenic communities, comprising not only those who first acquired the name, city by city, as they came to understand each other, but also those who assumed it afterwards as the name of the whole people, were before the Trojan war prevented by their want of strength and the absence of mutual intercourse from displaying any collective action.
Indeed, they could not unite for this expedition till they had gained increased familiarity with the sea. And the first person known to us by tradition as having established a navy is Minos. He made himself master of what is now called the Hellenic sea, and ruled over the Cyclades, into most of which he sent the first colonies, expelling the Carians and appointing his own sons governors and thus did his best to put down piracy in those waters, a necessary step to secure the revenues for his own use.
For in early times the Hellenes and the barbarians of the coast and islands, as communication by sea became more common, were tempted to turn pirates, under the conduct of their most powerful men the motives being to serve their own cupidity and to support the needy. They would fall upon a town unprotected by walls, and consisting of a mere collection of villages, and would plunder it indeed, this came to be the main source of their livelihood, no disgrace being yet attached to such an achievement, but even some glory. An illustration of this is furnished by the honour with which some of the inhabitants of the continent still regard a successful marauder, and by the question we find the old poets everywhere representing the people as asking of voyagers- "Are they pirates?"- as if those who are asked the question would have no idea of disclaiming the imputation, or their interrogators of reproaching them for it. The same rapine prevailed also by land.
And even at the present day many of Hellas still follow the old fashion, the Ozolian Locrians for instance, the Aetolians, the Acarnanians, and that region of the continent and the custom of carrying arms is still kept up among these continentals, from the old piratical habits. The whole of Hellas used once to carry arms, their habitations being unprotected and their communication with each other unsafe indeed, to wear arms was as much a part of everyday life with them as with the barbarians. And the fact that the people in these parts of Hellas are still living in the old way points to a time when the same mode of life was once equally common to all. The Athenians were the first to lay aside their weapons, and to adopt an easier and more luxurious mode of life indeed, it is only lately that their rich old men left off the luxury of wearing undergarments of linen, and fastening a knot of their hair with a tie of golden grasshoppers, a fashion which spread to their Ionian kindred and long prevailed among the old men there. On the contrary, a modest style of dressing, more in conformity with modern ideas, was first adopted by the Lacedaemonians, the rich doing their best to assimilate their way of life to that of the common people. They also set the example of contending naked, publicly stripping and anointing themselves with oil in their gymnastic exercises. Formerly, even in the Olympic contests, the athletes who contended wore belts across their middles and it is but a few years since that the practice ceased. To this day among some of the barbarians, especially in Asia, when prizes for boxing and wrestling are offered, belts are worn by the combatants. And there are many other points in which a likeness might be shown between the life of the Hellenic world of old and the barbarian of to-day.
With respect to their towns, later on, at an era of increased facilities of navigation and a greater supply of capital, we find the shores becoming the site of walled towns, and the isthmuses being occupied for the purposes of commerce and defence against a neighbour. But the old towns, on account of the great prevalence of piracy, were built away from the sea, whether on the islands or the continent, and still remain in their old sites. For the pirates used to plunder one another, and indeed all coast populations, whether seafaring or not.
The islanders, too, were great pirates. These islanders were Carians and Phoenicians, by whom most of the islands were colonized, as was proved by the following fact. During the purification of Delos by Athens in this war all the graves in the island were taken up, and it was found that above half their inmates were Carians: they were identified by the fashion of the arms buried with them, and by the method of interment, which was the same as the Carians still follow. But as soon as Minos had formed his navy, communication by sea became easier, as he colonized most of the islands, and thus expelled the malefactors. The coast population now began to apply themselves more closely to the acquisition of wealth, and their life became more settled some even began to build themselves walls on the strength of their newly acquired riches. For the love of gain would reconcile the weaker to the dominion of the stronger, and the possession of capital enabled the more powerful to reduce the smaller towns to subjection. And it was at a somewhat later stage of this development that they went on the expedition against Troy.
What enabled Agamemnon to raise the armament was more, in my opinion, his superiority in strength, than the oaths of Tyndareus, which bound the suitors to follow him. Indeed, the account given by those Peloponnesians who have been the recipients of the most credible tradition is this. First of all Pelops, arriving among a needy population from Asia with vast wealth, acquired such power that, stranger though he was, the country was called after him and this power fortune saw fit materially to increase in the hands of his descendants. Eurystheus had been killed in Attica by the Heraclids. Atreus was his mother's brother and to the hands of his relation, who had left his father on account of the death of Chrysippus, Eurystheus, when he set out on his expedition, had committed Mycenae and the government. As time went on and Eurystheus did not return, Atreus complied with the wishes of the Mycenaeans, who were influenced by fear of the Heraclids- besides, his power seemed considerable, and he had not neglected to court the favour of the populace- and assumed the sceptre of Mycenae and the rest of the dominions of Eurystheus. And so the power of the descendants of Pelops came to be greater than that of the descendants of Perseus. To all this Agamemnon succeeded. He had also a navy far stronger than his contemporaries, so that, in my opinion, fear was quite as strong an element as love in the formation of the confederate expedition. The strength of his navy is shown by the fact that his own was the largest contingent, and that of the Arcadians was furnished by him this at least is what Homer says, if his testimony is deemed sufficient. Besides, in his account of the transmission of the sceptre, he calls him "Of many an isle, and of all Argos king." Now Agamemnon's was a continental power and he could not have been master of any except the adjacent islands (and these would not be many), but through the possession of a fleet.
And from this expedition we may infer the character of earlier enterprises. Now Mycenae may have been a small place, and many of the towns of that age may appear comparatively insignificant, but no exact observer would therefore feel justified in rejecting the estimate given by the poets and by tradition of the magnitude of the armament. For I suppose if Lacedaemon were to become desolate, and the temples and the foundations of the public buildings were left, that as time went on there would be a strong disposition with posterity to refuse to accept her fame as a true exponent of her power. And yet they occupy two-fifths of Peloponnese and lead the whole, not to speak of their numerous allies without. Still, as the city is neither built in a compact form nor adorned with magnificent temples and public edifices, but composed of villages after the old fashion of Hellas, there would be an impression of inadequacy. Whereas, if Athens were to suffer the same misfortune, I suppose that any inference from the appearance presented to the eye would make her power to have been twice as great as it is. We have therefore no right to be sceptical, nor to content ourselves with an inspection of a town to the exclusion of a consideration of its power but we may safely conclude that the armament in question surpassed all before it, as it fell short of modern efforts if we can here also accept the testimony of Homer's poems, in which, without allowing for the exaggeration which a poet would feel himself licensed to employ, we can see that it was far from equalling ours. He has represented it as consisting of twelve hundred vessels the Boeotian complement of each ship being a hundred and twenty men, that of the ships of Philoctetes fifty. By this, I conceive, he meant to convey the maximum and the minimum complement: at any rate, he does not specify the amount of any others in his catalogue of the ships. That they were all rowers as well as warriors we see from his account of the ships of Philoctetes, in which all the men at the oar are bowmen. Now it is improbable that many supernumeraries sailed, if we except the kings and high officers especially as they had to cross the open sea with munitions of war, in ships, moreover, that had no decks, but were equipped in the old piratical fashion. So that if we strike the average of the largest and smallest ships, the number of those who sailed will appear inconsiderable, representing, as they did, the whole force of Hellas. And this was due not so much to scarcity of men as of money. Difficulty of subsistence made the invaders reduce the numbers of the army to a point at which it might live on the country during the prosecution of the war. Even after the victory they obtained on their arrival- and a victory there must have been, or the fortifications of the naval camp could never have been built- there is no indication of their whole force having been employed on the contrary, they seem to have turned to cultivation of the Chersonese and to piracy from want of supplies. This was what really enabled the Trojans to keep the field for ten years against them the dispersion of the enemy making them always a match for the detachment left behind. If they had brought plenty of supplies with them, and had persevered in the war without scattering for piracy and agriculture, they would have easily defeated the Trojans in the field, since they could hold their own against them with the division on service. In short, if they had stuck to the siege, the capture of Troy would have cost them less time and less trouble. But as want of money proved the weakness of earlier expeditions, so from the same cause even the one in question, more famous than its predecessors, may be pronounced on the evidence of what it effected to have been inferior to its renown and to the current opinion about it formed under the tuition of the poets.
Even after the Trojan War, Hellas was still engaged in removing and settling, and thus could not attain to the quiet which must precede growth. The late return of the Hellenes from Ilium caused many revolutions, and factions ensued almost everywhere and it was the citizens thus driven into exile who founded the cities. Sixty years after the capture of Ilium, the modern Boeotians were driven out of Arne by the Thessalians, and settled in the present Boeotia, the former Cadmeis though there was a division of them there before, some of whom joined the expedition to Ilium. Twenty years later, the Dorians and the Heraclids became masters of Peloponnese so that much had to be done and many years had to elapse before Hellas could attain to a durable tranquillity undisturbed by removals, and could begin to send out colonies, as Athens did to Ionia and most of the islands, and the Peloponnesians to most of Italy and Sicily and some places in the rest of Hellas. All these places were founded subsequently to the war with Troy.
But as the power of Hellas grew, and the acquisition of wealth became more an object, the revenues of the states increasing, tyrannies were by their means established almost everywhere- the old form of government being hereditary monarchy with definite prerogatives- and Hellas began to fit out fleets and apply herself more closely to the sea. It is said that the Corinthians were the first to approach the modern style of naval architecture, and that Corinth was the first place in Hellas where galleys were built and we have Ameinocles, a Corinthian shipwright, making four ships for the Samians. Dating from the end of this war, it is nearly three hundred years ago that Ameinocles went to Samos. Again, the earliest sea-fight in history was between the Corinthians and Corcyraeans this was about two hundred and sixty years ago, dating from the same time. Planted on an isthmus, Corinth had from time out of mind been a commercial emporium as formerly almost all communication between the Hellenes within and without Peloponnese was carried on overland, and the Corinthian territory was the highway through which it travelled. She had consequently great money resources, as is shown by the epithet "wealthy" bestowed by the old poets on the place, and this enabled her, when traffic by sea became more common, to procure her navy and put down piracy and as she could offer a mart for both branches of the trade, she acquired for herself all the power which a large revenue affords. Subsequently the Ionians attained to great naval strength in the reign of Cyrus, the first king of the Persians, and of his son Cambyses, and while they were at war with the former commanded for a while the Ionian sea. Polycrates also, the tyrant of Samos, had a powerful navy in the reign of Cambyses, with which he reduced many of the islands, and among them Rhenea, which he consecrated to the Delian Apollo. About this time also the Phocaeans, while they were founding Marseilles, defeated the Carthaginians in a sea-fight. These were the most powerful navies. And even these, although so many generations had elapsed since the Trojan war, seem to have been principally composed of the old fifty-oars and long-boats, and to have counted few galleys among their ranks. Indeed it was only shortly the Persian war, and the death of Darius the successor of Cambyses, that the Sicilian tyrants and the Corcyraeans acquired any large number of galleys. For after these there were no navies of any account in Hellas till the expedition of Xerxes Aegina, Athens, and others may have possessed a few vessels, but they were principally fifty-oars. It was quite at the end of this period that the war with Aegina and the prospect of the barbarian invasion enabled Themistocles to persuade the Athenians to build the fleet with which they fought at Salamis and even these vessels had not complete decks.
The navies, then, of the Hellenes during the period we have traversed were what I have described. All their insignificance did not prevent their being an element of the greatest power to those who cultivated them, alike in revenue and in dominion. They were the means by which the islands were reached and reduced, those of the smallest area falling the easiest prey. Wars by land there were none, none at least by which power was acquired we have the usual border contests, but of distant expeditions with conquest for object we hear nothing among the Hellenes. There was no union of subject cities round a great state, no spontaneous combination of equals for confederate expeditions what fighting there was consisted merely of local warfare between rival neighbours. The nearest approach to a coalition took place in the old war between Chalcis and Eretria this was a quarrel in which the rest of the Hellenic name did to some extent take sides.
Various, too, were the obstacles which the national growth encountered in various localities. The power of the Ionians was advancing with rapid strides, when it came into collision with Persia, under King Cyrus, who, after having dethroned Croesus and overrun everything between the Halys and the sea, stopped not till he had reduced the cities of the coast the islands being only left to be subdued by Darius and the Phoenician navy.
Again, wherever there were tyrants, their habit of providing simply for themselves, of looking solely to their personal comfort and family aggrandizement, made safety the great aim of their policy, and prevented anything great proceeding from them though they would each have their affairs with their immediate neighbours. All this is only true of the mother country, for in Sicily they attained to very great power. Thus for a long time everywhere in Hellas do we find causes which make the states alike incapable of combination for great and national ends, or of any vigorous action of their own.
But at last a time came when the tyrants of Athens and the far older tyrannies of the rest of Hellas were, with the exception of those in Sicily, once and for all put down by Lacedaemon for this city, though after the settlement of the Dorians, its present inhabitants, it suffered from factions for an unparalleled length of time, still at a very early period obtained good laws, and enjoyed a freedom from tyrants which was unbroken it has possessed the same form of government for more than four hundred years, reckoning to the end of the late war, and has thus been in a position to arrange the affairs of the other states. Not many years after the deposition of the tyrants, the battle of Marathon was fought between the Medes and the Athenians. Ten years afterwards, the barbarian returned with the armada for the subjugation of Hellas. In the face of this great danger, the command of the confederate Hellenes was assumed by the Lacedaemonians in virtue of their superior power and the Athenians, having made up their minds to abandon their city, broke up their homes, threw themselves into their ships, and became a naval people. This coalition, after repulsing the barbarian, soon afterwards split into two sections, which included the Hellenes who had revolted from the King, as well as those who had aided him in the war. At the end of the one stood Athens, at the head of the other Lacedaemon, one the first naval, the other the first military power in Hellas. For a short time the league held together, till the Lacedaemonians and Athenians quarrelled and made war upon each other with their allies, a duel into which all the Hellenes sooner or later were drawn, though some might at first remain neutral. So that the whole period from the Median war to this, with some peaceful intervals, was spent by each power in war, either with its rival, or with its own revolted allies, and consequently afforded them constant practice in military matters, and that experience which is learnt in the school of danger.
The policy of Lacedaemon was not to exact tribute from her allies, but merely to secure their subservience to her interests by establishing oligarchies among them Athens, on the contrary, had by degrees deprived hers of their ships, and imposed instead contributions in money on all except Chios and Lesbos. Both found their resources for this war separately to exceed the sum of their strength when the alliance flourished intact.
Having now given the result of my inquiries into early times, I grant that there will be a difficulty in believing every particular detail. The way that most men deal with traditions, even traditions of their own country, is to receive them all alike as they are delivered, without applying any critical test whatever. The general Athenian public fancy that Hipparchus was tyrant when he fell by the hands of Harmodius and Aristogiton, not knowing that Hippias, the eldest of the sons of Pisistratus, was really supreme, and that Hipparchus and Thessalus were his brothers and that Harmodius and Aristogiton suspecting, on the very day, nay at the very moment fixed on for the deed, that information had been conveyed to Hippias by their accomplices, concluded that he had been warned, and did not attack him, yet, not liking to be apprehended and risk their lives for nothing, fell upon Hipparchus near the temple of the daughters of Leos, and slew him as he was arranging the Panathenaic procession.
There are many other unfounded ideas current among the rest of the Hellenes, even on matters of contemporary history, which have not been obscured by time. For instance, there is the notion that the Lacedaemonian kings have two votes each, the fact being that they have only one and that there is a company of Pitane, there being simply no such thing. So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand. On the whole, however, the conclusions I have drawn from the proofs quoted may, I believe, safely be relied on. Assuredly they will not be disturbed either by the lays of a poet displaying the exaggeration of his craft, or by the compositions of the chroniclers that are attractive at truth's expense the subjects they treat of being out of the reach of evidence, and time having robbed most of them of historical value by enthroning them in the region of legend. Turning from these, we can rest satisfied with having proceeded upon the clearest data, and having arrived at conclusions as exact as can be expected in matters of such antiquity. To come to this war: despite the known disposition of the actors in a struggle to overrate its importance, and when it is over to return to their admiration of earlier events, yet an examination of the facts will show that it was much greater than the wars which preceded it.
With reference to the speeches in this history, some were delivered before the war began, others while it was going on some I heard myself, others I got from various quarters it was in all cases difficult to carry them word for word in one's memory, so my habit has been to make the speakers say what was in my opinion demanded of them by the various occasions, of course adhering as closely as possible to the general sense of what they really said. And with reference to the narrative of events, far from permitting myself to derive it from the first source that came to hand, I did not even trust my own impressions, but it rests partly on what I saw myself, partly on what others saw for me, the accuracy of the report being always tried by the most severe and detailed tests possible. My conclusions have cost me some labour from the want of coincidence between accounts of the same occurrences by different eye-witnesses, arising sometimes from imperfect memory, sometimes from undue partiality for one side or the other. The absence of romance in my history will, I fear, detract somewhat from its interest but if it be judged useful by those inquirers who desire an exact knowledge of the past as an aid to the interpretation of the future, which in the course of human things must resemble if it does not reflect it, I shall be content. In fine, I have written my work, not as an essay which is to win the applause of the moment, but as a possession for all time.
The Median War, the greatest achievement of past times, yet found a speedy decision in two actions by sea and two by land. The Peloponnesian War was prolonged to an immense length, and, long as it was, it was short without parallel for the misfortunes that it brought upon Hellas. Never had so many cities been taken and laid desolate, here by the barbarians, here by the parties contending (the old inhabitants being sometimes removed to make room for others) never was there so much banishing and blood-shedding, now on the field of battle, now in the strife of faction. Old stories of occurrences handed down by tradition, but scantily confirmed by experience, suddenly ceased to be incredible there were earthquakes of unparalleled extent and violence eclipses of the sun occurred with a frequency unrecorded in previous history there were great droughts in sundry places and consequent famines, and that most calamitous and awfully fatal visitation, the plague. All this came upon them with the late war, which was begun by the Athenians and Peloponnesians by the dissolution of the thirty years' truce made after the conquest of Euboea. To the question why they broke the treaty, I answer by placing first an account of their grounds of complaint and points of difference, that no one may ever have to ask the immediate cause which plunged the Hellenes into a war of such magnitude. The real cause I consider to be the one which was formally most kept out of sight. The growth of the power of Athens, and the alarm which this inspired in Lacedaemon, made war inevitable. Still it is well to give the grounds alleged by either side which led to the dissolution of the treaty and the breaking out of the war.
Causes of the War - The Affair of Epidamnus - The Affair of Potidaea
The city of Epidamnus stands on the right of the entrance of the Ionic Gulf. Its vicinity is inhabited by the Taulantians, an Illyrian people. The place is a colony from Corcyra, founded by Phalius, son of Eratocleides, of the family of the Heraclids, who had according to ancient usage been summoned for the purpose from Corinth, the mother country. The colonists were joined by some Corinthians, and others of the Dorian race. Now, as time went on, the city of Epidamnus became great and populous but falling a prey to factions arising, it is said, from a war with her neighbours the barbarians, she became much enfeebled, and lost a considerable amount of her power. The last act before the war was the expulsion of the nobles by the people. The exiled party joined the barbarians, and proceeded to plunder those in the city by sea and land and the Epidamnians, finding themselves hard pressed, sent ambassadors to Corcyra beseeching their mother country not to allow them to perish, but to make up matters between them and the exiles, and to rid them of the war with the barbarians. The ambassadors seated themselves in the temple of Hera as suppliants, and made the above requests to the Corcyraeans. But the Corcyraeans refused to accept their supplication, and they were dismissed without having effected anything.
When the Epidamnians found that no help could be expected from Corcyra, they were in a strait what to do next. So they sent to Delphi and inquired of the God whether they should deliver their city to the Corinthians and endeavour to obtain some assistance from their founders. The answer he gave them was to deliver the city and place themselves under Corinthian protection. So the Epidamnians went to Corinth and delivered over the colony in obedience to the commands of the oracle. They showed that their founder came from Corinth, and revealed the answer of the god and they begged them not to allow them to perish, but to assist them. This the Corinthians consented to do. Believing the colony to belong as much to themselves as to the Corcyraeans, they felt it to be a kind of duty to undertake their protection. Besides, they hated the Corcyraeans for their contempt of the mother country. Instead of meeting with the usual honours accorded to the parent city by every other colony at public assemblies, such as precedence at sacrifices, Corinth found herself treated with contempt by a power which in point of wealth could stand comparison with any even of the richest communities in Hellas, which possessed great military strength, and which sometimes could not repress a pride in the high naval position of an, island whose nautical renown dated from the days of its old inhabitants, the Phaeacians. This was one reason of the care that they lavished on their fleet, which became very efficient indeed they began the war with a force of a hundred and twenty galleys.
All these grievances made Corinth eager to send the promised aid to Epidamnus. Advertisement was made for volunteer settlers, and a force of Ambraciots, Leucadians, and Corinthians was dispatched. They marched by land to Apollonia, a Corinthian colony, the route by sea being avoided from fear of Corcyraean interruption. When the Corcyraeans heard of the arrival of the settlers and troops in Epidamnus, and the surrender of the colony to Corinth, they took fire. Instantly putting to sea with five-and-twenty ships, which were quickly followed by others, they insolently commanded the Epidamnians to receive back the banished nobles- (it must be premised that the Epidamnian exiles had come to Corcyra and, pointing to the sepulchres of their ancestors, had appealed to their kindred to restore them)- and to dismiss the Corinthian garrison and settlers. But to all this the Epidamnians turned a deaf ear. Upon this the Corcyraeans commenced operations against them with a fleet of forty sail. They took with them the exiles, with a view to their restoration, and also secured the services of the Illyrians. Sitting down before the city, they issued a proclamation to the effect that any of the natives that chose, and the foreigners, might depart unharmed, with the alternative of being treated as enemies. On their refusal the Corcyraeans proceeded to besiege the city, which stands on an isthmus and the Corinthians, receiving intelligence of the investment of Epidamnus, got together an armament and proclaimed a colony to Epidamnus, perfect political equality being guaranteed to all who chose to go. Any who were not prepared to sail at once might, by paying down the sum of fifty Corinthian drachmae, have a share in the colony without leaving Corinth. Great numbers took advantage of this proclamation, some being ready to start directly, others paying the requisite forfeit. In case of their passage being disputed by the Corcyraeans, several cities were asked to lend them a convoy. Megara prepared to accompany them with eight ships, Pale in Cephallonia with four Epidaurus furnished five, Hermione one, Troezen two, Leucas ten, and Ambracia eight. The Thebans and Phliasians were asked for money, the Eleans for hulls as well while Corinth herself furnished thirty ships and three thousand heavy infantry.
When the Corcyraeans heard of their preparations they came to Corinth with envoys from Lacedaemon and Sicyon, whom they persuaded to accompany them, and bade her recall the garrison and settlers, as she had nothing to do with Epidamnus. If, however, she had any claims to make, they were willing to submit the matter to the arbitration of such of the cities in Peloponnese as should be chosen by mutual agreement, and that the colony should remain with the city to whom the arbitrators might assign it. They were also willing to refer the matter to the oracle at Delphi. If, in defiance of their protestations, war was appealed to, they should be themselves compelled by this violence to seek friends in quarters where they had no desire to seek them, and to make even old ties give way to the necessity of assistance. The answer they got from Corinth was that, if they would withdraw their fleet and the barbarians from Epidamnus, negotiation might be possible but, while the town was still being besieged, going before arbitrators was out of the question. The Corcyraeans retorted that if Corinth would withdraw her troops from Epidamnus they would withdraw theirs, or they were ready to let both parties remain in statu quo, an armistice being concluded till judgment could be given.
Turning a deaf ear to all these proposals, when their ships were manned and their allies had come in, the Corinthians sent a herald before them to declare war and, getting under way with seventy-five ships and two thousand heavy infantry, sailed for Epidamnus to give battle to the Corcyraeans. The fleet was under the command of Aristeus, son of Pellichas, Callicrates, son of Callias, and Timanor, son of Timanthes the troops under that of Archetimus, son of Eurytimus, and Isarchidas, son of Isarchus. When they had reached Actium in the territory of Anactorium, at the mouth of the mouth of the Gulf of Ambracia, where the temple of Apollo stands, the Corcyraeans sent on a herald in a light boat to warn them not to sail against them. Meanwhile they proceeded to man their ships, all of which had been equipped for action, the old vessels being undergirded to make them seaworthy. On the return of the herald without any peaceful answer from the Corinthians, their ships being now manned, they put out to sea to meet the enemy with a fleet of eighty sail (forty were engaged in the siege of Epidamnus), formed line, and went into action, and gained a decisive victory, and destroyed fifteen of the Corinthian vessels. The same day had seen Epidamnus compelled by its besiegers to capitulate the conditions being that the foreigners should be sold, and the Corinthians kept as prisoners of war, till their fate should be otherwise decided.
After the engagement the Corcyraeans set up a trophy on Leukimme, a headland of Corcyra, and slew all their captives except the Corinthians, whom they kept as prisoners of war. Defeated at sea, the Corinthians and their allies repaired home, and left the Corcyraeans masters of all the sea about those parts. Sailing to Leucas, a Corinthian colony, they ravaged their territory, and burnt Cyllene, the harbour of the Eleans, because they had furnished ships and money to Corinth. For almost the whole of the period that followed the battle they remained masters of the sea, and the allies of Corinth were harassed by Corcyraean cruisers. At last Corinth, roused by the sufferings of her allies, sent out ships and troops in the fall of the summer, who formed an encampment at Actium and about Chimerium, in Thesprotis, for the protection of Leucas and the rest of the friendly cities. The Corcyraeans on their part formed a similar station on Leukimme. Neither party made any movement, but they remained confronting each other till the end of the summer, and winter was at hand before either of them returned home.
Corinth, exasperated by the war with the Corcyraeans, spent the whole of the year after the engagement and that succeeding it in building ships, and in straining every nerve to form an efficient fleet rowers being drawn from Peloponnese and the rest of Hellas by the inducement of large bounties. The Corcyraeans, alarmed at the news of their preparations, being without a single ally in Hellas (for they had not enrolled themselves either in the Athenian or in the Lacedaemonian confederacy), decided to repair to Athens in order to enter into alliance and to endeavour to procure support from her. Corinth also, hearing of their intentions, sent an embassy to Athens to prevent the Corcyraean navy being joined by the Athenian, and her prospect of ordering the war according to her wishes being thus impeded. An assembly was convoked, and the rival advocates appeared: the Corcyraeans spoke as follows:
"Athenians! when a people that have not rendered any important service or support to their neighbours in times past, for which they might claim to be repaid, appear before them as we now appear before you to solicit their assistance, they may fairly be required to satisfy certain preliminary conditions. They should show, first, that it is expedient or at least safe to grant their request next, that they will retain a lasting sense of the kindness. But if they cannot clearly establish any of these points, they must not be annoyed if they meet with a rebuff. Now the Corcyraeans believe that with their petition for assistance they can also give you a satisfactory answer on these points, and they have therefore dispatched us hither. It has so happened that our policy as regards you with respect to this request, turns out to be inconsistent, and as regards our interests, to be at the present crisis inexpedient. We say inconsistent, because a power which has never in the whole of her past history been willing to ally herself with any of her neighbours, is now found asking them to ally themselves with her. And we say inexpedient, because in our present war with Corinth it has left us in a position of entire isolation, and what once seemed the wise precaution of refusing to involve ourselves in alliances with other powers, lest we should also involve ourselves in risks of their choosing, has now proved to be folly and weakness. It is true that in the late naval engagement we drove back the Corinthians from our shores single-handed. But they have now got together a still larger armament from Peloponnese and the rest of Hellas and we, seeing our utter inability to cope with them without foreign aid, and the magnitude of the danger which subjection to them implies, find it necessary to ask help from you and from every other power. And we hope to be excused if we forswear our old principle of complete political isolation, a principle which was not adopted with any sinister intention, but was rather the consequence of an error in judgment.
"Now there are many reasons why in the event of your compliance you will congratulate yourselves on this request having been made to you. First, because your assistance will be rendered to a power which, herself inoffensive, is a victim to the injustice of others. Secondly, because all that we most value is at stake in the present contest, and 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. Thirdly, yourselves excepted, we are the greatest naval power in Hellas. Moreover, can you conceive a stroke of good fortune more rare in itself, or more disheartening to your enemies, than that the power whose adhesion you would have valued above much material and moral strength should present herself self-invited, should deliver herself into your hands without danger and without expense, and should lastly put you in the way of gaining a high character in the eyes of the world, the gratitude of those whom you shall assist, and a great accession of strength for yourselves? You may search all history without finding many instances of a people gaining all these advantages at once, or many instances of 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. But it will be urged that it is only in the case of a war that we shall be found useful. To this we answer that if any of you imagine that that war is far off, he is grievously mistaken, and is blind to the fact that Lacedaemon regards you with jealousy and desires war, and that Corinth is powerful there- the same, remember, that is your enemy, and is even now trying to subdue us as a preliminary to attacking you. And this she does to prevent our becoming united by a common enmity, and her having us both on her hands, and also to ensure getting the start of you in one of two ways, either by crippling our power or by making its strength her own. Now it is our policy to be beforehand with her- that is, for Corcyra to make an offer of alliance and for you to accept it in fact, we ought to form plans against her instead of waiting to defeat the plans she forms against us.
"If she asserts that for you to receive a colony of hers into alliance is not right, let her know that every colony that is well treated honours its parent state, but becomes estranged from it by injustice. For colonists are not sent forth on the understanding that they are to be the slaves of those that remain behind, but that they are to be their equals. And that Corinth was injuring us is clear. Invited to refer the dispute about Epidamnus to arbitration, they chose to prosecute their complaints war rather than by a fair trial. And let their conduct towards us who are their kindred be a warning to you not to be misled by their deceit, nor to yield to their direct requests concessions to adversaries only end in self-reproach, and the more strictly they are avoided the greater will be the chance of security.
"If it be urged that your reception of us will be a breach of the treaty existing between you and Lacedaemon, the answer is that we are a neutral state, and that one of the express provisions of that treaty is that it shall be competent for any Hellenic state that is neutral to join whichever side it pleases. And it is intolerable for Corinth to be allowed to obtain men for her navy not only from her allies, but also from the rest of Hellas, no small number being furnished by your own subjects while we are to be excluded both from the alliance left open to us by treaty, and from any assistance that we might get from other quarters, and you are to be accused of political immorality if you comply with our request. On the other hand, we shall have much greater cause to complain of you, if you do not comply with it if we, who are in peril and are no enemies of yours, meet with a repulse at your hands, while Corinth, who is the aggressor and your enemy, not only meets with no hindrance from you, but is even allowed to draw material for war from your dependencies. This ought not to be, but you should either forbid her enlisting men in your dominions, or you should lend us too what help you may think advisable.
"But your real policy is to afford us avowed countenance and support. The advantages of this course, as we premised in the beginning of our speech, are many. We mention one that is perhaps the chief. Could there be a clearer guarantee of our good faith than is offered by the fact that the power which is at enmity with you is also at enmity with us, and that that power is fully able to punish defection? And there is a wide difference between declining the alliance of an inland and of a maritime power. For your first endeavour should be to prevent, if possible, the existence of any naval power except your own failing this, to secure the friendship of the strongest that does exist. And if any of you believe that what we urge is expedient, but fear to act upon this belief, lest it should lead to a breach of the treaty, you must remember that on the one hand, whatever your fears, your strength will be formidable to your antagonists on the other, whatever the confidence you derive from refusing to receive us, your weakness will have no terrors for a strong enemy. You must also remember that your decision is for Athens no less than Corcyra, and that you are not making the best provision for her interests, if at a time when you are anxiously scanning the horizon that you may be in readiness for the breaking out of the war which is all but upon you, you hesitate to attach to your side a place whose adhesion or estrangement is alike pregnant with the most vital consequences. For it lies conveniently for the coast- navigation in the direction of Italy and Sicily, being able to bar the passage of naval reinforcements from thence to Peloponnese, and from Peloponnese thither and it is in other respects a most desirable station. To sum up as shortly as possible, embracing both general and particular considerations, let this show you the folly of sacrificing us. Remember that there are but three considerable naval powers in Hellas- Athens, Corcyra, and Corinth- and that if you allow two of these three to become one, and Corinth to secure us for herself, you will have to hold the sea against the united fleets of Corcyra and Peloponnese. But if you receive us, you will have our ships to reinforce you in the struggle."
Such were the words of the Corcyraeans. After they had finished, the Corinthians spoke as follows:
"These Corcyraeans in the speech we have just heard do not confine themselves to the question of their reception into your alliance. They also talk of our being guilty of injustice, and their being the victims of an unjustifiable war. It becomes necessary for us to touch upon both these points before we proceed to the rest of what we have to say, that you may have a more correct idea of the grounds of our claim, and have good cause to reject their petition. According to them, their old policy of refusing all offers of alliance was a policy of moderation. It was in fact adopted for bad ends, not for good indeed their conduct is such as to make them by no means desirous of having allies present to witness it, or of having the shame of asking their concurrence. Besides, their geographical situation makes them independent of others, and consequently the decision in cases where they injure any lies not with judges appointed by mutual agreement, but with themselves, because, while they seldom make voyages to their neighbours, they are constantly being visited by foreign vessels which are compelled to put in to Corcyra. In short, the object that they propose to themselves, in their specious policy of complete isolation, is not to avoid sharing in the crimes of others, but to secure monopoly of crime to themselves- the licence of outrage wherever they can compel, of fraud wherever they can elude, and the enjoyment of their gains without shame. And yet if they were the honest men they pretend to be, the less hold that others had upon them, the stronger would be the light in which they might have put their honesty by giving and taking what was just.
"But such has not been their conduct either towards others or towards us. The attitude of our colony towards us has always been one of estrangement and is now one of hostility for, say they: 'We were not sent out to be ill-treated.' We rejoin that we did not found the colony to be insulted by them, but to be their head and to be regarded with a proper respect. At any rate our other colonies honour us, and we are much beloved by our colonists and clearly, if the majority are satisfied with us, these can have no good reason for a dissatisfaction in which they stand alone, and we are not acting improperly in making war against them, nor are we making war against them without having received signal provocation. Besides, if we were in the wrong, it would be honourable in them to give way to our wishes, and disgraceful for us to trample on their moderation but in the pride and licence of wealth they have sinned again and again against us, and never more deeply than when Epidamnus, our dependency, which they took no steps to claim in its distress upon our coming to relieve it, was by them seized, and is now held by force of arms.
"As to their allegation that they wished the question to be first submitted to arbitration, it is obvious that a challenge coming from the party who is safe in a commanding position cannot gain the credit due only to him who, before appealing to arms, in deeds as well as words, places himself on a level with his adversary. In their case, it was not before they laid siege to the place, but after they at length understood that we should not tamely suffer it, that they thought of the specious word arbitration. And not satisfied with their own misconduct there, they appear here now requiring you to join with them not in alliance but in crime, and to receive them in spite of their being at enmity with us. But it was when they stood firmest that they should have made overtures to you, and not at a time when we have been wronged and they are in peril nor yet at a time when you will be admitting to a share in your protection those who never admitted you to a share in their power, and will be incurring an equal amount of blame from us with those in whose offences you had no hand. No, they should have shared their power with you before they asked you to share your fortunes with them.
"So then the reality of the grievances we come to complain of, and the violence and rapacity of our opponents, have both been proved. But that you cannot equitably receive them, this you have still to learn. It may be true that one of the provisions of the treaty is that it shall be competent for any state, whose name was not down on the list, to join whichever side it pleases. But this agreement is not meant for those whose object in joining is the injury of other powers, but for those whose need of support does not arise from the fact of defection, and whose adhesion will not bring to the power that is mad enough to receive them war instead of peace which will be the case with you, if you refuse to listen to us. For you cannot become their auxiliary and remain our friend if you join in their attack, you must share the punishment which the defenders inflict on them. And yet you have the best possible right to be neutral, or, failing this, you should on the contrary join us against them. Corinth is at least in treaty with you with Corcyra you were never even in truce. But do not lay down the principle that defection is to be patronized. Did we on the defection of the Samians record our vote against you, when the rest of the Peloponnesian powers were equally divided on the question whether they should assist them? No, we told them to their face that every power has a right to punish its own allies. 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.
"This then is what Hellenic law entitles us to demand as a right. But we have also advice to offer and claims on your gratitude, which, since there is no danger of our injuring you, as we are not enemies, and since our friendship does not amount to very frequent intercourse, we say ought to be liquidated at the present juncture. 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. That good turn, and the line we took on the Samian question, when we were the cause of the Peloponnesians refusing to assist them, enabled you to conquer Aegina and to punish Samos. And we acted thus at crises when, if ever, men are wont in their efforts against their enemies to forget everything for the sake of victory, regarding him who assists them then as a friend, even if thus far he has been a foe, and him who opposes them then as a foe, even if he has thus far been a friend indeed they allow their real interests to suffer from their absorbing preoccupation in the struggle.
"Weigh well these considerations, and let your youth learn what they are from their elders, and let them determine to do unto us as we have done unto you. And let them not acknowledge the justice of what we say, but dispute its wisdom in the contingency of war. Not only is the straightest path generally speaking the wisest but the coming of the war, which the Corcyraeans have used as a bugbear to persuade you to do wrong, is still uncertain, and it is not worth while to be carried away by it into gaining the instant and declared enmity of Corinth. It were, rather, wise to try and counteract the unfavourable impression which your conduct to Megara has created. For kindness opportunely shown has a greater power of removing old grievances than the facts of the case may warrant. And do not be seduced by the prospect of a great naval alliance. Abstinence from all injustice to other first-rate powers is a greater tower of strength than anything that can be gained by the sacrifice of permanent tranquillity for an apparent temporary advantage. It is now our turn to benefit by the principle that we laid down at Lacedaemon, that every power has a right to punish her own allies. We now claim to receive the same from you, and protest against your rewarding us for benefiting you by our vote by injuring us by yours. On the contrary, return us like for like, remembering that this is that very crisis in which he who lends aid is most a friend, and he who opposes is most a foe. And for these Corcyraeans- neither receive them into alliance in our despite, nor be their abettors in crime. So do, and you will act as we have a right to expect of you, and at the same time best consult your own interests."
Such were the words of the Corinthians.
When the Athenians had heard both out, two assemblies were held. In the first there was a manifest disposition to listen to the representations of Corinth in the second, public feeling had changed and an alliance with Corcyra was decided on, with certain reservations. It was to be a defensive, not an offensive alliance. It did not involve a breach of the treaty with Peloponnese: Athens could not be required to join Corcyra in any attack upon Corinth. But each of the contracting parties had a right to the other's assistance against invasion, whether of his own territory or that of an ally. For it began now to be felt that the coming of the Peloponnesian war was only a question of time, and no one was willing to see a naval power of such magnitude as Corcyra sacrificed to Corinth though if they could let them weaken each other by mutual conflict, it would be no bad preparation for the struggle which Athens might one day have to wage with Corinth and the other naval powers. At the same time the island seemed to lie conveniently on the coasting passage to Italy and Sicily. With these views, Athens received Corcyra into alliance and, on the departure of the Corinthians not long afterwards, sent ten ships to their assistance. They were commanded by Lacedaemonius, the son of Cimon, Diotimus, the son of Strombichus, and Proteas, the son of Epicles. Their instructions were to avoid collision with the Corinthian fleet except under certain circumstances. If it sailed to Corcyra and threatened a landing on her coast, or in any of her possessions, they were to do their utmost to prevent it. These instructions were prompted by an anxiety to avoid a breach of the treaty.
Meanwhile the Corinthians completed their preparations, and sailed for Corcyra with a hundred and fifty ships. Of these Elis furnished ten, Megara twelve, Leucas ten, Ambracia twenty-seven, Anactorium one, and Corinth herself ninety. Each of these contingents had its own admiral, the Corinthian being under the command of Xenoclides, son of Euthycles, with four colleagues. Sailing from Leucas, they made land at the part of the continent opposite Corcyra. They anchored in the harbour of Chimerium, in the territory of Thesprotis, above which, at some distance from the sea, lies the city of Ephyre, in the Elean district. By this city the Acherusian lake pours its waters into the sea. It gets its name from the river Acheron, which flows through Thesprotis and falls into the lake. There also the river Thyamis flows, forming the boundary between Thesprotis and Kestrine and between these rivers rises the point of Chimerium. In this part of the continent the Corinthians now came to anchor, and formed an encampment. When the Corcyraeans saw them coming, they manned a hundred and ten ships, commanded by Meikiades, Aisimides, and Eurybatus, and stationed themselves at one of the Sybota isles the ten Athenian ships being present. On Point Leukimme they posted their land forces, and a thousand heavy infantry who had come from Zacynthus to their assistance. Nor were the Corinthians on the mainland without their allies. The barbarians flocked in large numbers to their assistance, the inhabitants of this part of the continent being old allies of theirs.
When the Corinthian preparations were completed, they took three days' provisions and put out from Chimerium by night, ready for action. Sailing with the dawn, they sighted the Corcyraean fleet out at sea and coming towards them. When they perceived each other, both sides formed in order of battle. On the Corcyraean right wing lay the Athenian ships, the rest of the line being occupied by their own vessels formed in three squadrons, each of which was commanded by one of the three admirals. Such was the Corcyraean formation. The Corinthian was as follows: on the right wing lay the Megarian and Ambraciot ships, in the centre the rest of the allies in order. But the left was composed of the best sailers in the Corinthian navy, to encounter the Athenians and the right wing of the Corcyraeans. As soon as the signals were raised on either side, they joined battle. Both sides had a large number of heavy infantry on their decks, and a large number of archers and darters, the old imperfect armament still prevailing. The sea-fight was an obstinate one, though not remarkable for its science indeed it was more like a battle by land. Whenever they charged each other, the multitude and crush of the vessels made it by no means easy to get loose besides, their hopes of victory lay principally in the heavy infantry on the decks, who stood and fought in order, the ships remaining stationary. The manoeuvre of breaking the line was not tried in short, strength and pluck had more share in the fight than science. Everywhere tumult reigned, the battle being one scene of confusion meanwhile the Athenian ships, by coming up to the Corcyraeans whenever they were pressed, served to alarm the enemy, though their commanders could not join in the battle from fear of their instructions. The right wing of the Corinthians suffered most. The Corcyraeans routed it, and chased them in disorder to the continent with twenty ships, sailed up to their camp, and burnt the tents which they found empty, and plundered the stuff. So in this quarter the Corinthians and their allies were defeated, and the Corcyraeans were victorious. But where the Corinthians themselves were, on the left, they gained a decided success the scanty forces of the Corcyraeans being further weakened by the want of the twenty ships absent on the pursuit. Seeing the Corcyraeans hard pressed, the Athenians began at length to assist them more unequivocally. At first, it is true, they refrained from charging any ships but when the rout was becoming patent, and the Corinthians were pressing on, the time at last came when every one set to, and all distinction was laid aside, and it came to this point, that the Corinthians and Athenians raised their hands against each other.
After the rout, the Corinthians, instead of employing themselves in lashing fast and hauling after them the hulls of the vessels which they had disabled, turned their attention to the men, whom they butchered as they sailed through, not caring so much to make prisoners. Some even of their own friends were slain by them, by mistake, in their ignorance of the defeat of the right wing For the number of the ships on both sides, and the distance to which they covered the sea, made it difficult, after they had once joined, to distinguish between the conquering and the conquered this battle proving far greater than any before it, any at least between Hellenes, for the number of vessels engaged. After the Corinthians had chased the Corcyraeans to the land, they turned to the wrecks and their dead, most of whom they succeeded in getting hold of and conveying to Sybota, the rendezvous of the land forces furnished by their barbarian allies. Sybota, it must be known, is a desert harbour of Thesprotis. This task over, they mustered anew, and sailed against the Corcyraeans, who on their part advanced to meet them with all their ships that were fit for service and remaining to them, accompanied by the Athenian vessels, fearing that they might attempt a landing in their territory. It was by this time getting late, and the paean had been sung for the attack, when the Corinthians suddenly began to back water. They had observed twenty Athenian ships sailing up, which had been sent out afterwards to reinforce the ten vessels by the Athenians, who feared, as it turned out justly, the defeat of the Corcyraeans and the inability of their handful of ships to protect them. These ships were thus seen by the Corinthians first. They suspected that they were from Athens, and that those which they saw were not all, but that there were more behind they accordingly began to retire. The Corcyraeans meanwhile had not sighted them, as they were advancing from a point which they could not so well see, and were wondering why the Corinthians were backing water, when some caught sight of them, and cried out that there were ships in sight ahead. Upon this they also retired for it was now getting dark, and the retreat of the Corinthians had suspended hostilities. Thus they parted from each other, and the battle ceased with night. The Corcyraeans were in their camp at Leukimme, when these twenty ships from Athens, under the command of Glaucon, the son of Leagrus, and Andocides, son of Leogoras, bore on through the corpses and the wrecks, and sailed up to the camp, not long after they were sighted. It was now night, and the Corcyraeans feared that they might be hostile vessels but they soon knew them, and the ships came to anchor.
The next day the thirty Athenian vessels put out to sea, accompanied by all the Corcyraean ships that were seaworthy, and sailed to the harbour at Sybota, where the Corinthians lay, to see if they would engage. The Corinthians put out from the land and formed a line in the open sea, but beyond this made no further movement, having no intention of assuming the offensive. For they saw reinforcements arrived fresh from Athens, and themselves confronted by numerous difficulties, such as the necessity of guarding the prisoners whom they had on board and the want of all means of refitting their ships in a desert place. What they were thinking more about was how their voyage home was to be effected they feared that the Athenians might consider that the treaty was dissolved by the collision which had occurred, and forbid their departure.
Accordingly they resolved to put some men on board a boat, and send them without a herald's wand to the Athenians, as an experiment. Having done so, they spoke as follows: "You do wrong, Athenians, to begin war and break the treaty. Engaged in chastising our enemies, we find you placing yourselves in our path in arms against us. Now if your intentions are to prevent us sailing to Corcyra, or anywhere else that we may wish, and if you are for breaking the treaty, first take us that are here and treat us as enemies." Such was what they said, and all the Corcyraean armament that were within hearing immediately called out to take them and kill them. But the Athenians answered as follows: "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."
Receiving this answer from the Athenians, the Corinthians commenced preparations for their voyage home, and set up a trophy in Sybota, on the continent while the Corcyraeans took up the wrecks and dead that had been carried out to them by the current, and by a wind which rose in the night and scattered them in all directions, and set up their trophy in Sybota, on the island, as victors. The reasons each side had for claiming the victory were these. The Corinthians had been victorious in the sea-fight until night and having thus been enabled to carry off most wrecks and dead, they were in possession of no fewer than a thousand prisoners of war, and had sunk close upon seventy vessels. The Corcyraeans had destroyed about thirty ships, and after the arrival of the Athenians had taken up the wrecks and dead on their side they had besides seen the Corinthians retire before them, backing water on sight of the Athenian vessels, and upon the arrival of the Athenians refuse to sail out against them from Sybota. Thus both sides claimed the victory.
The Corinthians on the voyage home took Anactorium, which stands at the mouth of the Ambracian gulf. The place was taken by treachery, being common ground to the Corcyraeans and Corinthians. After establishing Corinthian settlers there, they retired home. Eight hundred of the Corcyraeans were slaves these they sold two hundred and fifty they retained in captivity, and treated with great attention, in the hope that they might bring over their country to Corinth on their return most of them being, as it happened, men of very high position in Corcyra. In this way Corcyra maintained her political existence in the war with Corinth, and the Athenian vessels left the island. This was the first cause of the war that Corinth had against the Athenians, viz., that they had fought against them with the Corcyraeans in time of treaty.
Almost immediately after this, fresh differences arose between the Athenians and Peloponnesians, and contributed their share to the war. Corinth was forming schemes for retaliation, and Athens suspected her hostility. The Potidaeans, who inhabit the isthmus of Pallene, being a Corinthian colony, but tributary allies of Athens, were ordered to raze the wall looking towards Pallene, to give hostages, to dismiss the Corinthian magistrates, and in future not to receive the persons sent from Corinth annually to succeed them. It was feared that they might be persuaded by Perdiccas and the Corinthians to revolt, and might draw the rest of the allies in the direction of Thrace to revolt with them. These precautions against the Potidaeans were taken by the Athenians immediately after the battle at Corcyra. Not only was Corinth at length openly hostile, but Perdiccas, son of Alexander, king of the Macedonians, had from an old friend and ally been made an enemy. He had been made an enemy by the Athenians entering into alliance with his brother Philip and Derdas, who were in league against him. In his alarm he had sent to Lacedaemon to try and involve the Athenians in a war with the Peloponnesians, and was endeavouring to win over Corinth in order to bring about the revolt of Potidaea. He also made overtures to the Chalcidians in the direction of Thrace, and to the Bottiaeans, to persuade them to join in the revolt for he thought that if these places on the border could be made his allies, it would be easier to carry on the war with their co-operation. Alive to all this, and wishing to anticipate the revolt of the cities, the Athenians acted as follows. They were just then sending off thirty ships and a thousand heavy infantry for his country under the command of Archestratus, son of Lycomedes, with four colleagues. They instructed the captains to take hostages of the Potidaeans, to raze the wall, and to be on their guard against the revolt of the neighbouring cities.
Meanwhile the Potidaeans sent envoys to Athens on the chance of persuading them to take no new steps in their matters they also went to Lacedaemon with the Corinthians to secure support in case of need. Failing after prolonged negotiation to obtain anything satisfactory from the Athenians being unable, for all they could say, to prevent the vessels that were destined for Macedonia from also sailing against them and receiving from the Lacedaemonian government a promise to invade Attica, if the Athenians should attack Potidaea, the Potidaeans, thus favoured by the moment, at last entered into league with the Chalcidians and Bottiaeans, and revolted. And Perdiccas induced the Chalcidians to abandon and demolish their towns on the seaboard and, settling inland at Olynthus, to make that one city a strong place: meanwhile to those who followed his advice he gave a part of his territory in Mygdonia round Lake Bolbe as a place of abode while the war against the Athenians should last. They accordingly demolished their towns, removed inland and prepared for war. The thirty ships of the Athenians, arriving before the Thracian places, found Potidaea and the rest in revolt. Their commanders, considering it to be quite impossible with their present force to carry on war with Perdiccas and with the confederate towns as well turned to Macedonia, their original destination, and, having established themselves there, carried on war in co-operation with Philip, and the brothers of Derdas, who had invaded the country from the interior.
Meanwhile the Corinthians, with Potidaea in revolt and the Athenian ships on the coast of Macedonia, alarmed for the safety of the place and thinking its danger theirs, sent volunteers from Corinth, and mercenaries from the rest of Peloponnese, to the number of sixteen hundred heavy infantry in all, and four hundred light troops. Aristeus, son of Adimantus, who was always a steady friend to the Potidaeans, took command of the expedition, and it was principally for love of him that most of the men from Corinth volunteered. They arrived in Thrace forty days after the revolt of Potidaea.
The Athenians also immediately received the news of the revolt of the cities. On being informed that Aristeus and his reinforcements were on their way, they sent two thousand heavy infantry of their own citizens and forty ships against the places in revolt, under the command of Callias, son of Calliades, and four colleagues. They arrived in Macedonia first, and found the force of a thousand men that had been first sent out, just become masters of Therme and besieging Pydna. Accordingly they also joined in the investment, and besieged Pydna for a while. Subsequently they came to terms and concluded a forced alliance with Perdiccas, hastened by the calls of Potidaea and by the arrival of Aristeus at that place. They withdrew from Macedonia, going to Beroea and thence to Strepsa, and, after a futile attempt on the latter place, they pursued by land their march to Potidaea with three thousand heavy infantry of their own citizens, besides a number of their allies, and six hundred Macedonian horsemen, the followers of Philip and Pausanias. With these sailed seventy ships along the coast. Advancing by short marches, on the third day they arrived at Gigonus, where they encamped.
Meanwhile the Potidaeans and the Peloponnesians with Aristeus were encamped on the side looking towards Olynthus on the isthmus, in expectation of the Athenians, and had established their market outside the city. The allies had chosen Aristeus general of all the infantry while the command of the cavalry was given to Perdiccas, who had at once left the alliance of the Athenians and gone back to that of the Potidaeans, having deputed Iolaus as his general: The plan of Aristeus was to keep his own force on the isthmus, and await the attack of the Athenians leaving the Chalcidians and the allies outside the isthmus, and the two hundred cavalry from Perdiccas in Olynthus to act upon the Athenian rear, on the occasion of their advancing against him and thus to place the enemy between two fires. While Callias the Athenian general and his colleagues dispatched the Macedonian horse and a few of the allies to Olynthus, to prevent any movement being made from that quarter, the Athenians themselves broke up their camp and marched against P
The Age of Anarchy
The Age of Anarchy is generally considered to have started in 440 BC, although some conflicts of the age began before that time.
The Egyptian Revolt
The Egyptian Revolt began in 440 BC when a Libyan seized control of Cyrene and invaded Egypt. He proclaimed himself Pharaoh and began the 28th Dynasty of Egypt. He would be successful at keeping the border at the Suez Peninsula. The Persians would not respond until 428 BC. In that year, the Libyan was killed and a native Egyptian took over Lower Egypt and proclaimed the 29th Dynasty. Also, the Nubian King took over Upper Egypt before an unsuccessful uprising killed him. The Pharaoh of the 29th Dynasty was killed at the Battle of Suez in 427 BC. The next Pharaoh of the 29th Dynasty fought valiantly but was slain at the Battle of the Lower Nile in 426 BC. The Libyan was defeated and killed at the Battle of Cyrene a year later. In 424 BC, the Pharaoh of the 30th Dynasty died of natural causes and his son assumed the throne. He would become Djor I and lose Upper Egypt in 423 BC. With that, the Rebellion ended. Djor I continued reigning in Nubia and his son Djor II would succeed him there in 406 BC.
The Bactrian Rebellion
The Bactrian Rebellion began in 435 BC when the Bactrian Satrap declared independence and invaded Sogdia. The invasion was initially successful until Persian troops arrived in 433 BC. The Battle of Sogdia was a Persian victory and the Satrap surrendered in 432 BC.
The Invasion of Cappadocia
In 434 BC, the Lydian king, Croesus III, invaded Cappadocia in the hopes of conquering the rest of Anatolia. The Persians did not arrive until 430 BC. In 429 BC, the Lydians won the Battle of Cappadocia and seized control of the rest of Anatolia.
The Attican War
After a brief period of peace among the Greek city-states, war broke out between the Attican League and Sparta in 439 BC. Sparta would form the Greek Alliance to oppose Athens. The war is a stalemate until 432 BC when a brief truce is agreed. This truce is broken the following year by Athens. Athens is winning at first. It defeats Thebes and Argos and forces them to join the Attican League. In 425 BC, Athens invades Syracuse and loses most of its fleet there by 424 BC. The Greek Alliance emerges victorious in 422 BC.
The Aegean War
The Aegean War began in 421 BC. It was a direct result of the Attican War. Sparta attempted to make all the Attican League states join the Greek Alliance. The Aegean states were opposed to this and, as it become clear that Sparta was simply using the Alliance as a means of projecting its own power, Thebes, Argos, Syracuse, and Corinth joined the new Aegean Hegemony. The first battle would be a Spartan victory at Corinth in 419 BC. The next battle was a resounding Aegean victory at Delos in 418 BC. In 417 BC, there was a stalemate at Dodona and an Aegean victory at Delphi. The Aegeans retook Athens in 416 BC and began preparing an assault on Sparta . This occurred in 414 BC. This was successful and ended the war with the dissolution of the Greek Alliance and its members joining the Hegemony.
The Theban War
The Theban War began when Thebes invaded Athens in 410 BC after leaving the Hegemony. The Battle of Athens was a Theban victory. In 409 BC and 408 BC, assaults on Corinth, Argos, and Sparta all failed. The Thebans launched a surprise attack on Delos in 406 BC and took it. Naxos, Corinth, and Sparta were all taken in 405 BC. The Hegemony surrendered to Thebes in 404 BC and the Theban Empire controlled the Peloponnese, Attica, Boetia, and the Aegean.
The Warring States Period
The Warring States Period was a period of Chinese history where many states fought for control of China. It lasted from 480 BC - 415 BC. The period would see the creation of four Chinese religions, two of which,Mohism and Confucianism, exist today. Mohism would eventually become the 2nd largest religion in the world. The states of Jin and Qi faced off against Qin and Chu from 480 BC-470 BC. The result would be inconclusive. Chu betrayed and conquered Qin in 465 BC. Jin was split into Han, Zhao, and Wei in 453 BC. Chu had annexed Shu, Ba and Yue by 444 BC. Zhao seized control of Wei in 437 BC. Han had annexed Wei and Qi by 426 BC. Han had also annexed Wey, Song, Tong, and Xue by 423 BC. Zhao annexed Zhongshan in 422 BC. Chu annexed Ouyue, Yangyue, and Minyue in 420 BC. Zhao conquered Han in 419 BC. Chu annexed Cangwu while Yique and Linhu were annexed by Zhao in 417 BC. Zhao attacked Chu in 414 BC. The war would end in a Zhao victory in 409 BC. The Zhao seized the Zhou lands in 408 BC and proclaimed the Jin dynasty. The new dynasty conquered Qiang in 404 BC.
The Roman-Etruscan Wars
The Roman State overthrew their kings and established a republic in 509 BC. The Roman king failed at a counterattack that was attempted from 508-498 BC. The old King then allied with the king of another Etruscan city-state and attacked again. This came close to victory in 486 BC but was defeated in 483 BC. Rome would then attack many of the other Etruscan city-states. They would gain a strip of Etruscan territory centered on Veii by the end of the century.
Second Illyrian War
After his defeat a decade earlier in 229 BC, Demetrius of Pharos waited for an opportunity to return Illyrian piracy to the Adriatic. By 219 BC, Roman conflict with the Celts of Cisalpine Gaul, and the beginning of the 2nd Punic War against Hannibal and Carthage, encouraged Demetrius to do just that. He constructed a fleet of 90 vessels and sailed south of Lissus, violating his earlier treaty and setting off war with Rome.
The Illyrian fleet first harassed Pylos, and though initially unsuccessful, he eventually took 50 enemy ships. With this addition, he moved quickly to the Cyclades, plundering as he went.
Despite Roman occupation in other theatres, they responded hastily by sending Lucius Aemilius and a fleet across the Adriatic.
With little difficulty, the still powerful Roman navy captured Dimale, an Illyrian stronghold, and continued towards Demetrius' home base of Pharos. With diversionary tactics in the harbor, Aemilius lured the Illyrians out of their encampment while landing the main force behind Pharos. A short battle was decided in favor of the Romans, but Demetrius escaped to his allies in Macedonia.
While Rome managed to clear the Adriatic of Illyrian pirates once more, and strengthen its hold on the coastal region of Illyricum, little else could be accomplished. With Hannibal and Carthage looming as a spectre, the conquest of Illyria would not be completed until 168 BC. Even still, it would take another 40 years to organize as a province and another century again (9AD) before the whole of the Illyrian and Dalmatian tribes were under Roman control.
Battle of Crete: How Cretans Took On the Largest Axis Airborne Operation of WWII
The Battle of Crete will remain forever in military history as the scene of the largest German airborne operation of World War II. In Greek history, it also serves as another chapter showing the bravery and the ultimate triumph of the Hellenic spirit.
Crete was targeted by the Germans because of the British airfields on the island, which were more than capable of striking the vital Ploesti oil fields in Romania. Hitler’s forces needed all the oil they could get for their impending assault on Russia.
Securing Crete would be tantamount to driving the British out of the eastern Mediterranean it would also be the first step towards German control of Cyprus and the Suez Canal
The battle, which started on May 20 and ended on June 1, 1941, was dubbed “The Graveyard of the Fallshirmjager” (the German parachutists known as ” Sky Hunters”). Nearly 4,000 German troops were killed and 1,500 wounded in the first three days of the assault.
It was notably also the first time the Germans had encountered stiff partisan activity, with women and even children bravely taking part in the battle.
Early on the morning of May 20, waves of Stuka bombers and low-flying fighter planes bombed and strafed the Maleme, Chania, and Souda Bay areas. Later, a total 570 carrier aircraft dropped 8,100 parachutists at Maleme, Chania, Rethymno, and Iraklion.
The attack was undertaken in two waves, one in the morning and another in the afternoon, so they had enough time in between for the aircraft to return from Crete, refuel and return back again to the island. The sky filled with thousands of parachutes as the church bells began to ring ominously across the island.
The stunned Cretans began to run towards the drop zones, shouting “Stop the Germans!”, carrying anything they could find, including outdated rifles, pitchforks, and old pistols. Many of the German parachutists never made it out of their harnesses.
The Allied troops on Crete — British, ANZAC and Greek Battalions which had been evacuated from mainland Greece — under British Commander Major General Freyberg had been aware of the impending assault through Enigma Machine intercepts. The German parachutists were dropped into areas which were heavily defended, with nearly three times the amount of men they were expecting to face.
In Maleme, the Germans jumped into enemy fire from infantry weapons positioned in the hills south of the airfield. Many of the paratroopers were killed during their descent or shortly after landing. Most of the men were unable to recover their armaments boxes and had to rely on the pistol, knife and the four hand grenades they carried on their persons.
Casualties were very heavy. The commander of the 7th Airborne Division, General Lieutenant Wilhelm Suessmann, was killed during the approach flight, while General Major Eugen Meindl, who was in command of the Maleme group, was seriously wounded shortly after landing. Both the Maleme and Chania groups were left without their commanders.
The parachutists suffered even more casualties than at Maleme and failed to capture the airfields, towns, or ports they which had been their targets. Some even landed at the wrong points because the troop carriers had difficulty orienting themselves. After they touched down, many of the parachutists found themselves in an almost hopeless situation, struggling for survival.
After the first day, no field was available for the airborne landing of the 5th Mountain Division, which had been scheduled for the next day. Chania was still in enemy hands and the isolated troops landed at the four drop points had so far been unable to establish contact among themselves.
However, despite the strong resistance, the fury and strength of the onslaught surprised the defenders. Despite heavy opposition and fire from the British antiaircraft guns set up near the airfield, the German attackers captured the northern and north-western edge of the airfield and advanced up the northern slope of Hill 107.
The Chania group, which was to capture the village of Souda and the town of Chania and eliminate the British command staff located in that area, landed on rocky ground and suffered many jump casualties. The isolated German elements made little headway against the well-entrenched Allied forces.
As the battle wore on and casualty reports began coming in to General Airborne Commander Kurt Student’s HQ at the Hotel “Grande Bretagne” in Athens, it seemed that the battle was lost. But luck was on the German side. British commander Freyberg had to withdraw some troops from positions around Hill 107, overlooking the Airfield at Maleme.
This stroke of luck gave the Germans the upper hand and enabled them to begin the desperately-needed air landing of the Gebirgsjager troops on the airfield. Little by little, the entire 5th Mountain Division was flown in. Even more important to the attack, forces were now equipped with the artillery pieces, antitank guns, and supplies of all types, which had been missing during the initial stage of the invasion and which were now being airlifted into Maleme.
The allies pulled back in the face of a constant flow of fresh troops, and began their retreat. On May 29, motorized reconnaissance elements, advancing through enemy-held territory, established contact with the German forces in the Rethymno area and reached Iraklion the next day. After repeated encounters with enemy rear guards, the German forces reached the south coast of the island on June 1st. The desperate struggle for Crete was thereby ended.
Despite the long delay in issuance of evacuation orders, the British Navy was able to safely embark approximately 14,800 men onto ships and return them to Egypt. The Navy conducted the evacuation during four nights, suffering losses from German aircraft attacks. Subjected to severe losses and constant harassment by German planes, a total of five thousand British and Allied soldiers ended up being left behind.
The retreat of the Allied forces was defended by the 8th Greek Regiment in and around the village of Alikianos. It was composed of young Cretan recruits, gendarmes, and cadets. They were poorly equipped and only 850 strong but they made up for the lack of equipment in spirit. Along with the Tenth New Zealand Infantry Brigade, they decisively repulsed the German “Engineer Battalion.” During the next few days they held out against repeated attacks by the 85th and 100th Mountain Regiments. For seven days, they held Alikianos and protected the Allied line of retreat. The 8th Greek Regiment is credited with making the evacuation of Western Crete possible.
The Germans had never encountered the extent of civilian resistance that they encountered on Crete. And retribution was swift. The German High Command wanted to break the spirit of the populace — and do it quickly. In retaliation for the losses they had incurred, the Nazis spread punishment, terror and death upon the innocent civilians of the island.
More than 2,000 Cretans were summarily executed during the first month alone and 25,000 more were to die later. Despite these atrocities, the brave people of Crete put up a courageous guerilla resistance, aided by a few British officers of the Special Operations Executive as well as Allied troops who remained on the island. The resistance fighters were known as the “Andartes” (“The Rebels”).
According to several historians, Cretan resistance played an important role in the development of WWII. By the end of the three-and-a-half years of occupation, Hitler had sent a total of 100,000 troops to the island to subdue 5,000 Cretan Andartes. These German troops could have been deployed somewhere else instead of being tied down on Crete.
More German troops were lost during the Battle of Crete than in France, Yugoslavia and Poland — combined. Most importantly, as a result of the fighting on Crete, Hitler’s master plan to invade Russia before the coming of winter had to be postponed, which resulted in the deaths of many German troops who were not properly prepared to survive the harsh Russian winter.
Siege of Epidamnus, 435 BC - History
Map of the Persian Empire (550-486 B.C.)
Map of the Achaemenid Empire of Persia (PDF for Print) (Freely Distributed)
This map reveals the expansion of the Persian Empire from Cyrus the Great to Darius I, 550-486 BC. The Persian Achaemenid Empire was actually the last great empire of the ancient Near East. Its boundaries extended from the Aegean Sea in the west to the Indus River in the east, such a large empire was created in just a little over 10 years by Cyrus II the Great.
Cyrus the Great (559-530 BC)
Cyrus II, also known as Cyrus the Great was the founder of the Persian Empire. He was of the Achaemenid family and the vast Achaemenid Empire of the Persians reached from the Aegean Sea in the West all the way to Sagdiana in the East. It encompassed the former kingdom whom it had conquered, the Babylonian Empire.
Cyrus came to the throne about 559 BC when Persia was under the rule of the Medes, a kingdom to the north of Persia. The Median Empire extended from the middle of Turkey (Anatolia) in the West, to the area of Afghanistan in the East. In 550 BC Cyrus the Persian refused to submit to the Medes, and the King of Media immediately attacked Persia. Cyrus was victorious in battle at Pasargadae and moved on to capture the Median capital at Ecbatana. Cyrus brought into submission the whole former Median and Babylonian empires by 539 BC, and was finally killed in a battle against the pointed hats Scythian nomadic warriors in Central Asia.
Cyrus was a diplomatic ruler and this contributed greatly to his success. In contrast to the Babylonians and Assyrians Cyrus was merciful to his defeated enemies, and respected their customs and religions. He even allowed the conquered Jews in Babylon to return to their homeland and to rebuild the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem.
The Bible mentions in the book of Ezra that King Cyrus issued a decree from the Persian Palace at Achmetha (Ecbatana) to free the Jews, and allow them to return to Israel to rebuild their Temple in Jerusalem:
Ezra 6:2-3 "And there was found at Achmetha, in the palace that [is] in the province of the Medes, a roll, and therein [was] a record thus written: In the first year of Cyrus the king [the same] Cyrus the king made a decree [concerning] the house of God at Jerusalem, Let the house be builded, the place where they offered sacrifices, and let the foundations thereof be strongly laid."
The tomb of Cyrus epitaph reads "Oh man whoever you are, I am Cyrus who founded the empire of the Persians and was the king of Asia. Do not grudge me this monument."
Cambyses II (530-522 BC)
Later in 525 BC the son of Cyrus whose name was Cambyses came southward with the mighty Persian army and conquered Egypt in 529 BC, and he laid siege to several Egyptian cities including Memphis. His army marched all the way to the Mediterranean Sea and Libya surrendered to him. Though Egypt was conquered it relatively easily, maintaining Persian rule was not so easy. In fact the historian Herodotus records great disasters in the Persians attempts to subdue Nubia.
Note: It is interesting that the Elephantine Papyri documents written in Aramaic were discovered at Yeb (Elephantine) reveal that Cambyses found an armed Jewish colony at that location.
Cambyses suppressed any revolts in Egypt with brutality, but in 522 BC he learned about a revolt at Gaumata in his homeland and on his return he had an accident. According to Herodotus he cut himself with his own sword, got blood poisoning and died near Hamath in Syria. He had no sons to inherit the throne.
In 521 BC Darius I expanded the Persian Empire even further and conquered territories all the way to the Indus Valley, then he turned west all the way to Macedonia. Darius reorganized the empire into 20 provinces (satrapies) with heavy taxes. He also upgraded the 1600 mile Royal Road which ran from Susa, the capital of the Persian Empire, all the way to Sardis at the Aegean Sea. He had a massive relief carved on a cliff at Bisitun, along with a huge inscription commemorating his victories over his enemies. The inscription was written in the Persian, Elamite, and Akkadian languages. Part of this inscription was discovered at Elephantine. Darius I made Persepolis his capital city. When he conquered India he made it a satrapy of Hindush. In 513 BC he moved his armies across Thrace and Macedonia who immediately surrendered to him. The Ionian king Miletus revolted against him and Darius powerfully defeated him because of the burning of the provincial center at Sardis. Later in 490 BC the Persians were severely defeated by the Athenians at the battle of Marathon.
The History of Persia in Smith's Bible Dictionary
--The history of Persia begins with the revolt from the Medes and the accession of Cyrus the Great, B.C. 558. Cyrus defeated Croesus, and added the Lydian empire to his dominions. This conquest was followed closely by the submission of the Greek settlements on the Asiatic coast, and by the reduction of Caria and Lycia The empire was soon afterward extended greatly toward the northeast and east. In B.C. 539 or 538, Babylon was attacked, and after a stout defence fell into the hands of Cyrus. This victory first brought the Persians into contact with the Jews. The conquerors found in Babylon an oppressed race--like themselves, abhorrers of idols, and professors of a religion in which to a great extent they could sympathize. This race Cyrus determined to restore to their own country: which he did by the remarkable edict recorded in the first chapter of Ezra. Ezr 1:2-4 He was slain in an expedition against the Massagetae or the Derbices, after a reign of twenty-nine years. Under his son and successor, Cambyses, the conquest of Egypt took place, B.C. 525. This prince appears to be the Ahasuerus of Ezr 4:6 Gomates, Cambyses' successor, reversed the policy of Cyrus with respect to the Jews, and forbade by an edict the further building of the temple. Ezr 4:17-22 He reigned but seven months, and was succeeded by Darius. Appealed to, in his second year, by the Jews, who wished to resume the construction of their temple, Darius not only granted them this privilege, but assisted the work by grants from his own revenues, whereby the Jews were able to complete the temple as early as his sixth year. Ezr 6:1-15 Darius was succeeded by Xerxes, probably the Ahasuerus of Esther. Artaxerxes, the son of Xerxes, reigned for forty years after his death and is beyond doubt the king of that name who stood in such a friendly relation toward Ezra, Ezr 7:11-28 and Nehemiah. Ne 2:1-9 etc. He is the last of the Persian kings who had any special connection with the Jews, and the last but one mentioned in Scripture. His successors were Xerxes II., Sogdianus Darius Nothus, Artaxerxes Mnemon, Artaxerxes Ochus, and Darius Codomannus, who is probably the "Darius the Persian" of Nehemiah Ne 12:22 These monarchs reigned from B.C. 424 to B.C. 330. The collapse of the empire under the attack of Alexander the Great took place B.C. 330.
The Bible Mentions a lot Concerning "Persia"
Ezra 4:7 - And in the days of Artaxerxes wrote Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their companions, unto Artaxerxes king of Persia and the writing of the letter [was] written in the Syrian tongue, and interpreted in the Syrian tongue.
Ezra 4:3 - But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God but we ourselves together will build unto the LORD God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us.
Ezra 9:9 - For we [were] bondmen yet our God hath not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair the desolations thereof, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem.
Ezra 6:14 - And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished [it], according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia.
2 Chronicles 36:23 - Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which [is] in Judah. Who [is there] among you of all his people? The LORD his God [be] with him, and let him go up.
Daniel 10:1 - In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar and the thing [was] true, but the time appointed [was] long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision.
Ezra 1:2 - Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which [is] in Judah.
Esther 1:3 - In the third year of his reign, he made a feast unto all his princes and his servants the power of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces, [being] before him:
Ezra 3:7 - They gave money also unto the masons, and to the carpenters and meat, and drink, and oil, unto them of Zidon, and to them of Tyre, to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea of Joppa, according to the grant that they had of Cyrus king of Persia.
Ezra 4:24 - Then ceased the work of the house of God which [is] at Jerusalem. So it ceased unto the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia.
Daniel 10:20 - Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come.
Esther 10:2 - And all the acts of his power and of his might, and the declaration of the greatness of Mordecai, whereunto the king advanced him, [are] they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia?
Daniel 11:2 - And now will I shew thee the truth. Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia and the fourth shall be far richer than [they] all: and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia.
Esther 1:14 - And the next unto him [was] Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, [and] Memucan, the seven princes of Persia and Media, which saw the king's face, [and] which sat the first in the kingdom)
Esther 1:18 - [Likewise] shall the ladies of Persia and Media say this day unto all the king's princes, which have heard of the deed of the queen. Thus [shall there arise] too much contempt and wrath.
Ezra 1:8 - Even those did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and numbered them unto Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah.
2 Chronicles 36:20 - And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia:
Ezra 7:1 - Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah,
Ezekiel 27:10 - They of Persia and of Lud and of Phut were in thine army, thy men of war: they hanged the shield and helmet in thee they set forth thy comeliness.
Daniel 8:20 - The ram which thou sawest having [two] horns [are] the kings of Media and Persia.
Ezekiel 38:5 - Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them all of them with shield and helmet:
Ezra 1:1 - Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and [put it] also in writing, saying,
2 Chronicles 36:22 - Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD [spoken] by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and [put it] also in writing, saying,
Ezra 4:5 - And hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.
Daniel 10:13 - But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me and I remained there with the kings of Persia.
The Delian League, Part 3: From the Thirty Years Peace to the Start of the Ten Years War (445/4–431/0 BCE)
The third phase of the Delian League begins with the Thirty Years Peace between Athens and Sparta and ends with the start of the Ten Years War (445/4 – 431/0 BCE). The First Peloponnesian War, which effectively ended after the Battle of Coronea, and the Second Sacred War forced both the Spartans and Athenians to realize a new dualism existed in Hellenic affairs the Hellenes now had one hegemon on the mainland under Sparta and one in the Aegean under Athens.
By the early 450's BCE, the Delian League had secured for Athens an almost inexhaustible grain supply, enormous wealth, unprecedented control of the Aegean as well as dominance in central Greece, and thus the Athenians possessed almost absolute security from invasion. By 445/4 BCE, however, the Delian League suffered a devastating defeat in Egypt, the loss of Megara to the Peloponnesian League, and several Boeotian poleis had successfully rebelled.
The Delian League agreed to surrender Nisaea, Pagae, Troezen, and Achaea (but retained Naupactus), and both sides drew up a final list of allies (who could not then change allegiances). The remaining independent poleis, which included Argos, could then ally with whomever they wished. Scholars debate whether or not the treaty also stipulated free trade amongst the Greeks. Athens now retarded any grand expansionist schemes it may have had for the Delian League and focused instead on securing it within terms of this Peace.
REORGANIZATION OF THE DELIAN LEAGUE
The Athenians spent the next few years reorganizing and consolidating control of the Delian League. They made an extraordinary assessment in 443/2 BCE and divided the poleis into five administrative districts: Ionia, Hellespont, Thrace (or Chalcidice), Caria, and the Islands. Athens also continued to establish important colonies (e.g., Colophon, Erythae, Hestiaia, and, most notably, the Panhellenic Thurii in Italy).
By 440 BCE, membership increased (or was restored) to 172 poleis. The growing number of Athenian garrisons and cleruchies throughout the Aegean, alongside the diminished role of League synods, further drove Athens to institute varying changes in relation to its allies of the League. The original founders of the Delian League did not contemplate the possibility their chosen hegemon would ever interfere in local judicial proceedings of the member poleis. They all took their individual autonomies for granted.
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Nevertheless, when the Athenians passed decrees, which necessarily affected allied poleis, they made provisions for settling offenses by Athenian jurists in Athenian law-courts. Athens also instructed allies to permit various appeals to those same courts and to impose penalties as Athenians imposed such penalties. Moreover, as stated, Athenian citizens abroad remained protected by Athenian laws.
The Athenians seemed intent on settling disputes within the League quickly and fairly by relying on the "rule of law" rather than naked force. The effect of these alterations, however, appeared far different to members of the League. The changes meant the removal of important litigation from local courts and magistrates, it diminished their independent authority, and it had Athens settle these matters ([Xen.] Ath. Pol. 1.16-18). Several allies thought they had now become subject to the tyranny of Athenian jurists.
THE SAMIAN WAR
War erupted between Samos and Miletus over the polis Priene (440 BCE) – the Samian War – and the clash presented a unique problem for the Delian League. Samos had remained independent, paid no tribute, and stood as one of the very few poleis which still had a formidable navy. Miletus, on the other hand, had revolted not once but twice from the League, and the Athenians had subsequently deprived it of a navy.
The Athenians understood they might act wrongly if they acquired Samos but decided it far more dangerous to let the polis remain free. Athens reacted swiftly and decisively. They dispatched 40 triremes, seized 100 Samian hostages, and promptly replaced the polis' oligarchy with a democracy. Athens fined Samos 8 talents, installed a garrison, but then the Athenians departed as quickly as they had arrived. The League's action, however, did not cow the Samians it infuriated them.
The Samian oligarchic leaders immediately requested assistance from Lydia, and, with the help of Persian mercenaries, overran the Athenian garrison, and declared themselves "enemies of the Athenians." The Samians also made an appeal to Sparta. They now intended to contest "supremacy of the sea" and seize it from Athens (Thuc. 8.76.4 Plur. Vit. Per. 25.3, 28.3).
The near simultaneous rebellions of Byzantium as well as numerous poleis in the Carian, Thraceward, and Chalcidice Districts revealed the seriousness of the unrest – even Mytilene intended to join the revolts and awaited word from Sparta. Some of these poleis received support from Macedon. Sparta summoned the Peloponnesian League and a divisive debate ensued. The Corinthians argued strongly against intervention, advocating that each alliance should remain "free to punish its own allies" (Thuc. 1.40.4-6, 41.1-3). The Spartans remained silent.
The Athenian response again proved decisive and swift. With reinforcements from Lesbos and Chios, the Athenians besieged Samos. After nine months, they crushed the revolt. Samos would pull down its walls and pay reparations of 1,300 talents (in 26 installments). On the other hand, Samians did not surrender their navy or pay tribute, nor did the Athenians compel the island to accept a colony or cleruchies. Byzantium, who had, in any case, showed only moderate resistance, surrendered shortly thereafter, and the Athenians permitted them to rejoin the League with minimal punishment.
EPIPHORA & LOSS OF THE CARIA DISTRICT
The Tribute Lists for 440/39 BCE show another change in procedure. For the first time, the treasury purposely lists some poleis twice: first with their normal assessments and then a second entry with an ἐπιφορά or epiphora (lit. a 'bringing upon' or 'repetition'): a small additional charge the nature of which is not yet clear.
The term had many uses, but for the League, it appears the Hellentamiai imposed penalties or recorded additional deposits. The treasurers, for instance, seem to have charged interest due on late payments (3 minai per talent per month) or imposed a simple fine. The entry may also indicate, however, a voluntary additional payment for some specific service rendered. Most of these second payments occurred in the Ionia and Hellespont Districts.
The suppression of Samos did not prove a total success by 438 BCE, about 40 of the more remote and inland poleis from the Caria District permanently disappear from the Tribute Lists. Caria had always proven difficult to control and tribute rolls often fluctuated. The combined assessment amounted to not more than 15 talents. Any force sent to collect arrears would have cost more than the lost tribute. Like Cyprus, Caria possessed little strategic value. The Athenians subsequently merged the remaining poleis into the Ionia District.
Even though the League relaxed its hold on its southeast periphery, the unrest at Byzantium exposed deeper problems in the Hellespont region. The Mediterranean possessed four great granaries, and the littoral of the Euxine Sea (i.e., imports from the Ukraine region) had become the most critical to Athens and its large population. Unfettered shipping remained paramount.
PERICLES & THE BLACK SEA
The following summer, to counter the unrest, Pericles, son of Xanthippus, launched his now famous Expedition to the Black Sea (437 BCE). The Athenian goal was simple: impress upon the more remote League members, as well as nearby barbarians, the value and importance of Athenian friendship. Athens put to sea an audaciously large and well-equipped fleet. Pericles "displayed the greatness of Athenian power, their confidence and boldness in sailing where they wished, having made themselves complete masters of the sea" (Plut. Vit. Per. 20.1-2).
During this time, Athens also established sizeable colonies at Amisus, Nymphaeum, Brea, and finally, and most importantly, Amphipolis (on the Strymon river near Macedon). Amphipolis would serve as an impregnable fortress to prevent rebellion and guard the Hellespont while also securing timber and precious metals from the area.
THE EPIDAMNIAN INCIDENT (CORCYRAN CONFLICT)
A relatively minor event, which began in Epidamnus, would soon engulf Corcyra and Corinth (and several of its colonies) and eventually lead the two hegemons Sparta and Athens into open conflict and ultimately result in the great Peloponnesian War (435 - 432 BCE).
Epidamnus, a colony of Corcyra (itself a colony of Corinth), became embroiled in a civil war, which involved some local barbarians. They asked their mother polis to assist. Epidamnus rested on the eastern coast of the Adriatic, more than a hundred miles to the north of Corcyra and thus existed far beyond either the Peloponnesian or Delian Leagues' interests. Corcyra refused to assist. Epidamnus, after consulting Delphi, subsequently appealed to the Corinthians. They responded vigorously with assistance from Ambracia and Leucas (Thuc. 1.26.2-3), but Corcyra, who had a long-standing quarrel with Corinth, would not tolerate such interference. The Corcyrans moved to intervene but soon realized that they had underestimated Corinthian resolve.
Corinth received additional assistance from Megara, Cephallenia, Epidaurus, Hermione, Troezen, Thebes, Phlius, and Elis. Many of these poleis were also members of the Peloponnesian League, and thus this Epidamnian Incident had captured the attention of Sparta. Corcyrans historically avoided alliances and saw Corinth commanded considerably more resources. To avoid war or the loss of Epidamnus, they asked for arbitration from the Peloponnese or Delphi, or failing that, threatened to seek assistance elsewhere. The Corinthians ignored the veiled threat and refused, but they too underestimated Corcyra's own resolve.
A modest Corinthian force of 75 ships sailed to Actium but confronted 80 defending vessels. Corcyra proved victorious, destroying 15 Corinthian triremes. The defeat only hardened Corinthian determination, however, who set about immediately to construct a larger fleet. Corcyra had no choice and sought assistance from mighty Athens.
THE BATTLE OF SYBOTA
The Athenians agreed to an ἐπιμαχία (defensive alliance) and dispatched ten triremes in support of Corcyra. This time, Corinth approached Corcyra leading 155 ships. They brought contingents from their colonies Leacus, Ambracia, and Anactorium, as well as their allies Megara and Elis. On the other hand, Epidaurus, Hermione, Troezen, Cephallenia, Thebes, and Phlius saw the conflict now involved the Athenians and elected to remain neutral. The Corcyrans possessed 110 ships to defend (plus ten Athenian vessels acting as a type of reserve).
The Corinthians gathered at Cheimerium, while the Corcyrans established a base on the island of Sybota. The resulting battle proved clumsy, but the Corinthians eventually routed the Corcyran fleet when 20 additional Athenian triremes suddenly appeared on the horizon. The Corinthians, fearing an even larger Delian League force would arrive, withdrew and viewed the interference as an open breach of their own treaty with Athens. The Athenians retorted that they had only supported their new ally and wished no war with Corinth (433 BCE).
Both sides declared victory, but the Corinthians then proceeded to seize Anactorium. Their quarrel with Corcyra had not ended, and they now had cause and made preparations for war against the Athenians. At the same time, representatives from Leontini and Rhegion arrived in Athens from Italy, and the Athenians accepted them into the alliance. The Ionian poleis of Sicily became fearful that Dorian Syracuse (also originally a colony of Corinth) might use Athenian preoccupation in any upcoming war to swallow them and thus joined the Delian League.
THE FINANCIAL DECREE OF CALLIAS
The Assessment of 434/3 BCE displays two new conditions: poleis that initiated tribute themselves, and poleis that accepted assessment by special arrangement. The volatile and constantly changing conditions in Thrace and Macedon make definitive conclusions difficult, but, in general, it seems some poleis in the region recognized the benefits of Athenian protection and voluntarily requested to pay a tribute to the Delian League.
The Athenians also passed two decrees on the proposals of Callias, son of Calliades. The measures concentrated various treasuries in the Opisthodomos. Once the League paid its debts, the treasurers would use surpluses on the dockyards and walls, but all sums exceeding 10,000 drachma needed a special vote of the Ekklesia. The Financial Decrees of Callias have provoked continuous controversy amongst scholars, but they appear to show Athenians had grown convinced another major war had become unavoidable and imminent. Whether or not such a conflict would stay focused against Corinth or come to involve Sparta, the Athenians readied the resources of the entire League for that war.
THE REVOLT OF POTEIDAIA & THE MEGARA DECREE
While assisting Corcyra at Sybota, the Athenians also decided to become involved in Macedon, ostensibly to protect League interests in the area, but more likely to remove the fickle and untrustworthy King Perdiccas II and thus the constant threat of unrest from Thracian tribes in the region. Assessments in this area of the League (Pallene and Bottice) had risen since 438/7 BCE (presumably because of Thracian and Macedonian encroachments). Perdiccas then sent embassies to Sparta.
Perdiccas had long demonstrated a willingness to side against Athens when an opportunity presented itself. Athens dispatched 30 triremes with 1,000 hoplites to support both Perdiccas' brother and nephew in a civil war that had developed there. About the same time, the Athenians issued what has become known as the Megara Decree (more than one decree actually existed, and the precise dates of their passages remain unknown). Athens essentially forbade the Megarans access to the Athenian agora and all harbors under Athenian rule.
The Decrees' exact meanings remain debated, but, by suddenly closing the harbors of the entire Delian League, Athens demonstrated its power to disrupt the flow of trade when provoked. The Athenian Ekklesia further issued an ultimatum to Poteidaia, a tribute paying Delian League member in the Chalcidice District since 445/4 BCE but also a Corinthian colony: the Poteidaians must dismiss their Corinthian magistrates. The Poteidaians flatly refused and appealed to Sparta for assistance (433/2 BCE). The Ephors promptly promised to invade Attica.
Poteidaia's overt resistance resulted in several rebellions in the Chalcidice area. Corinth, moreover, dispatched a force of 2,000 volunteers to aid their colony. The Corinthian action compelled Athens to dispatch an additional 40 triremes and 2,000 hoplites to suppress the now serious rebellions from the Delian League occurring about Thrace. Unlike the revolts in Caria, Athens could not simply ignore this unrest. The insurrections here represented a more significant loss of about 40 talents out of a total collection of 350.
THE PELOPONNESIAN LEAGUE CONGRESS
The developments in Sybota and Poteidaia prompted Corinth to gather allies and go to Sparta. The Athenians sent ambassadors to appeal. Historically, the Spartans proved not swift "to enter upon wars unless compelled to do so" (Thuc. 1.118.2). By 432 BCE, however, Corinth and Megara, as well as Aegina and Macedon, all desired war against Athens. The Corinthians and Athenians made their cases. King Archidamus of Sparta cautiously argued against: "Complaints on the part of poleis or individuals can be resolved, but when a whole alliance begins a war whose outcome no one can foresee, for the sake of individual interests, it is most difficult to emerge with honor" (Thuc. 1.82.6). The Ephors called for a vote: the Athenians had violated the Thirty Year's Peace.
King Archidamus' warning proved prophetic. The war would not exist simply between Athens and Sparta but between the Peloponnesian and Delian Leagues. It would prove a war for all of the Hellenes like no other, not between individual poleis for small and precise reasons but rather between two great alliances over a multitude of competing and disparate interests.
The Spartan Assembly nonetheless declared the Treaty broken. This required King Archidamus to summon the Peloponnesian League to hear the growing list of complaints against Athens, and Sparta's allies quickly voted for war. The majority of them simply had faith in the supremacy of the Peloponnesian army and predicted quick victory. King Archidamus further advised that they should first prepare for the next couple of years, and he convinced the allies to send three separate embassies to the Athenians. Although the Peloponnesian League did not make an appeal to arbitration (as required by the Thirty Years Peace), negotiations between King Archidamus and the Athenian Ekklesia continued for months.
Thebes ultimately forced Sparta's hand. Expecting Athens to invade Megara and secure the Attic southern border, the Thebans attacked Plataea to hold the northern border – an open violation of the Thirty Years Peace and the first clear act of war. Although the attack ultimately failed, King Archidamus gathered the Peloponnesian forces in the Isthmus of Corinth. He made one final bid for concessions. When the Athenians refused, he finally (and reluctantly), led the Peloponnesian army into Attica launching a war, he predicted, that they would leave to their sons. History proved Archidamus correct.
THE TWO GREAT LEAGUES ON THE EVE OF WAR
The two great alliances of Ancient Greece finally stumbled into a massive clash of arms, which resulted from a cascading chain of events. A relatively insignificant civil war that had begun in the remote and strategically unimportant Corcyran colony of Epidamnus became the catalyst. That civil war soon brought a series of competing alliances amongst various poleis into open conflict.
Corinth feared any resulting Athenian-Corcyran alliance overwhelmed the still formidable Corinthian navy, while the trade embargo of Megara, the critical polis between Corinth and Athens that resided in the middle of the main route between Attica and the Peloponnese, markedly discouraged pro-Spartan allegiances. The Spartans thus came to fear what the Confederacy of Delos represented: the unprecedented success of Ionian culture, symbolized by a radical democracy, an immense fleet, majestic buildings, grand festivals, flowering populations, spreading colonies, and a still growing alliance that might take hold within and eventually overwhelm the Peloponnese.
By the start of the Peloponnesian War, the Delian League had come to operate with naked aggression and repression. On the one hand, Persia had all but disappeared as a threat. On the other hand, many poleis protested that Athenian rule had severely restricted the liberty of the Delian League's members. Athens had also engaged in administrative and judicial interference, repeatedly demanded compulsory military service, exacted monetary payments, openly confiscated land, and attempted to impose uniform standards.
The Delian League now engaged in a form of open, hard imperialism. It not only unilaterally entered into alliances which affected all member poleis, not only interfered with the internal mechanisms of member poleis but had also transferred jurisdiction of the allied poleis to Athens and thus treated them all as honorary colonists.