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Nicias Timeline

Nicias Timeline


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  • 425 BCE

    Pylos campaign, under Cleon and Demosthenes' command Athens defeats Sparta at Pylos.

  • 421 BCE

    Peace of Nicias, a truce between the Delian and Peloponnesian Leagues.

  • 416 BCE

    War breaks out again between rival Sicilian city-states Segesta and Selinus.

  • 415 BCE - 413 BCE

    Athenian expedition to attack Syracuse.

  • 413 BCE

    The Athenian expedition in Sicily ends in disastrous defeat and the Athenian generals Nicias and Demosthenes are executed.


Event #1271: Lunar eclipse caused Nicias to delay abandoning the siege of Syracuse leading to destruction of Athenian forces

The Athenian generals, on the other hand, seeing that the enemy had been reinforced by a fresh army, while their own situation was not only not improving, but on the contrary was daily growing worse in all respects, and especially through the distress caused by the sickness among the troops, repented that they had not moved away before. And since even Nicias no longer opposed as earnestly as before, but only urged that the matter be not openly put to a vote, they sent out word as secretly as possible to all the officers for a departure by sea from the camp, and that they should be ready whenever the signal should be given. But after all was ready and when they were about to make their departure, the moon, which happened then to be at the full, was eclipsed. 1 And most of the Athenians, taking the incident to heart, urged the generals to wait. Nicias also, who was somewhat too much given to divination and the like, refused even to discuss further the question of their removal until they should have waited thrice nine days, as the soothsayers prescribed. Such, then was why the Athenians delayed and stayed on.

  1. August 27, 413 BC [OF] ↩

Text #8644

The Athenians, now that their affairs had taken a turn for the worse and a wave of pestilence had struck the camp because the region round about it was marshy, counselled together how they should deal with the situation.[…]

Consequently, since the multitude was in an uproar and all the others were eager to take to the ships, Nicias found himself compelled to yield on the matter of their returning home. When the generals were agreed, the soldiers began gathering together their equipment, loading the triremes, and raising the yard-arms and the generals issued orders to the multitude that at the signal not a man in the camp should be late, for he who lagged would be left behind. But when they were about to sail on the following day, on the night of the day before, the moon was eclipsed.24 Consequently Nicias, who was not only by nature a superstitiously devout man but also cautious because of the epidemic in the camp, summoned the soothsayers. And when they declared that the departure must be postponed for the customary three days, Demosthenes and the others were also compelled, out of respect for the deity, to accede.

Text #1633

But just as everything was prepared for this and none of the enemy were on the watch, since they did not expect the move at all, there came an eclipse of the moon by night. This was a great terror to Nicias and all those who were ignorant or superstitious enough to quake at such a sight. The obscuration of the sun towards the end of the month was already understood, even by the common folk, as caused somehow or other by the moon but what it was that the moon encountered, and how, being at the full, she should on a sudden lose her light and emit all sorts of colours, this was no easy thing to comprehend. Men thought it uncanny, — a sign sent from God in advance of divers great calamities.

The first man to put in writing the clearest and boldest of all doctrines about the changing phases of the moon was Anaxagoras. But he was no ancient authority, nor was his doctrine in high repute. It was still under seal of secrecy, and made its way slowly among a few only, who received it with a certain caution rather than with implicit confidence. 3 Men could not abide the natural philosophers and “visionaries,” as they were then called, for that they reduced the divine agency down to irrational causes, blind forces, and necessary incidents. Even Protagoras had to go into exile, Anaxagoras was with difficulty rescued from imprisonment by Pericles, and Socrates, though he had nothing whatever to do with such matters, nevertheless lost his life because of philosophy.

It was not until later times that the radiant repute of Plato, because of the life the man led, and because he subjected the compulsions of the physical world to divine and more sovereign principles, took away the obloquy of such doctrines as these, and gave their science free course among all men. At any rate, his friend Dion, although the moon suffered an eclipse at the time (9 August 357 BC) when he was about to set out from Zacynthus on his voyage against Dionysius, was in no wise disturbed, but put to sea, landed at Syracuse, and drove out the tyrant.

However, it was the lot of Nicias at this time to be without even a soothsayer who was expert. The one who had been his associate, and who used to set him free from most of his superstition, Stilbides, had died a short time before. For indeed the sign from Heaven, as Philochorus observed, was not an obnoxious one to fugitives, but rather very propitious concealment is just what deeds of fear need, whereas light is an enemy to them. And besides, men were wont to be on their guard against portents of sun and moon for three days only, as Autocleides has remarked in his “Exegetics” but Nicias persuaded the Athenians to wait for another full period of the moon, as if, forsooth, he did not see that the planet was restored to purity and splendour just as soon as she had passed beyond the region which was darkened and obscured by the earth.

Text #8647

But geometry soars still higher to the consideration of the system of the universe: for by its calculations it demonstrates the fixed and ordained courses of the stars, and thereby we acquire the knowledge that all things are ruled by order and destiny, a consideration which may at times be of value to an orator. When Pericles dispelled the panic caused at Athens by the eclipse of the sun by explaining the causes of the phenomenon, or Sulpicius Galluse discoursed on the eclipse of the moon to the army of Lucius Paulus to prevent the soldiers being seized with terror at what they regarded as a portent sent by heaven, did not they discharge the function of an orator? If Nicias had known this when he commanded in Sicily, he would not have shared the terror of his men nor lost the finest army that Athens ever placed in the field.

Text #1632

O mighty heroes, of loftier than mortal estate, who have discovered the law of those great divinities and released the miserable mind of man from fear, mortality dreading as it did in eclipses of the stars crimes or death of some sort (those sublime singers, the bards Stesichorus and Pindar, clearly felt this fear owing to an eclipse of the sun), or in the dying of the moon inferring that she was poisoned and consequently coming to her aid with a noisy clattering of cymbals (this alarm caused the Athenian general Nicias, in his ignorance of the cause, to be afraid to lead his fleet out of harbour, so destroying the Athenians resources: all hail to your genius, ye that interpret the heavens and grasp the facts of nature, discoverers of a theory whereby you have vanquished gods and men.

Text #9109

The Sicilian Expedition was an Athenian military expedition to Sicily, which took place during the period from 415 BC to 413 BC (during the Peloponnesian War). The expedition was hampered from the outset by uncertainty in its purpose and command structure—political maneuvering in Athens swelled a lightweight force of twenty ships into a massive armada, and the expedition’s primary proponent, Alcibiades, was recalled from command to stand trial before the fleet even reached Sicily—but still achieved early successes. Syracuse, the most powerful state on Sicily, responded exceptionally slowly to the Athenian threat and, as a result, was almost completely invested before the arrival of a Spartan general, Gylippus, galvanized its inhabitants into action. From that point forward, however, as the Athenians ceded the initiative to their newly energized opponents, the tide of the conflict shifted. A massive reinforcing armada from Athens briefly gave the Athenians the upper hand once more, but a disastrous failed assault on a strategic high point and several crippling naval defeats damaged the besiegers’ fighting capacity and morale, and the Athenians were eventually forced to attempt a desperate overland escape from the city they had hoped to conquer. That last measure, too, failed, and nearly the entire expedition surrendered or was destroyed in the Sicilian interior.

The impact of the defeat was immense. Two hundred ships and thousands of soldiers, an appreciable portion of the city’s total manpower, were lost in a single stroke. Athens’s enemies on the mainland and in Persia were encouraged to take action, and rebellions broke out in the Aegean. The defeat proved to be the turning point in the Peloponnesian War, though Athens struggled on for another decade. Thucydides observed that contemporary Greeks were shocked not that Athens eventually fell after the defeat, but rather that it fought on for as long as it did, so devastating were the losses suffered. […]

On September 13, the Athenians left camp leaving their wounded behind and their dead unburied. The survivors, including all the non-combatants, numbered 40,000, and some of the wounded crawled after them as far as they could go. As they marched they defeated a small Syracusan force guarding the river Anapus, but other Syracusan cavalry and light troops continually harassed them. Near the Erineus river, Demosthenes and Nicias became separated, and Demosthenes was attacked by the Syracusans and forced to surrender his 6,000 troops. The rest of the Syracusans followed Nicias to the Assinarus river, where Nicias’s troops became disorganized in the rush to find drinking water. Many Athenians were trampled to death and others were killed while fighting with fellow Athenians. On the other side of the river a Syracusan force was waiting, and the Athenians were almost completely massacred, by far the worst defeat of the entire expedition in terms of lives lost. Nicias personally surrendered to Gylippus, hoping the Spartan would remember his role in the peace treaty of 421. The few who escaped found refuge in Catana.

The prisoners, now numbering only 7,000, were held in the stone quarries near Syracuse, as there was no other room for them. Demosthenes and Nicias were executed, against the orders of Gylippus. The rest spent ten weeks in horrible conditions in their makeshift prison, until all but the Athenians, Italians, and Sicilians were sold as slaves. The remaining Athenians were left to die slowly of disease and starvation in the quarry. In the end some of the very last survivors managed to escape and eventually trickled to Athens, bringing first-hand news of the disaster. […]

In Athens, the citizens did not, at first, believe the defeat. Plutarch, in his Life of Nicias, recounts how the news reached the city:

It is said that the Athenians would not believe their loss, in a great degree because of the person who first brought them news of it. For a certain stranger, it seems, coming to Piraeus, and there sitting in a barber’s shop, began to talk of what had happened, as if the Athenians already knew all that had passed which the barber hearing, before he acquainted anybody else, ran as fast as he could up into the city, addressed himself to the Archons, and presently spread it about in the public Place. On which, there being everywhere, as may be imagined, terror and consternation, the Archons summoned a general assembly, and there brought in the man and questioned him how he came to know. And he, giving no satisfactory account, was taken for a spreader of false intelligence and a disturber of the city, and was, therefore, fastened to the wheel and racked a long time, till other messengers arrived that related the whole disaster particularly. So hardly was Nicias believed to have suffered the calamity which he had often predicted.

When the magnitude of the disaster became evident, there was a general panic. Attica seemed free for the taking, as the Spartans were so close by in Decelea.

The defeat caused a great shift in policy for many other states, as well. States which had until now been neutral joined with Sparta, assuming that Athens’s defeat was imminent. Many of Athens’s allies in the Delian League also revolted, and although the city immediately began to rebuild its fleet, there was little they could do about the revolts for the time being. The expedition and consequent disaster left Athens reeling. Some 10,000 hoplites had perished and, though this was a blow, the real concern was the loss of the huge fleet dispatched to Sicily. Triremes could be replaced, but the 30,000 experienced oarsmen lost in Sicily were irreplaceable and Athens had to rely on ill-trained slaves to form the backbone of her new fleet.

In 411 BC, the Athenian democracy was overthrown in favour of an oligarchy, and Persia joined the war on the Spartan side. Although things looked grim for Athens, they were able to recover for a few years. The oligarchy was soon overthrown, and Athens won the Battle of Cynossema however, the defeat of the Sicilian expedition was essentially the beginning of the end for Athens. In 404 BC they were defeated and occupied by Sparta.

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The Sicilian Expedition: Alcibiades and Nicias in Thucydides’s Peloponnesian War (Books VI-VII)

Thucydides claims the Peloponnesian War is the greatest event or movement in human history, and the most important part of this great war takes place in Books VI-VII: The ill-fated Sicilian Expedition.

The Sicilian Expedition represents the turning point in the war. Thucydides begins to explain the expedition by offering a history of the origins of Sicily and its people. He continues by discussing the current zeitgeist in Athens. A rising and powerful love of Athens or a fervent patriotism arises among the Athenians. The old, middle-aged, and young citizens all see an easy occupation of Sicily that will yield great riches and power (i.e. the old and young, rich and poor are all united in support of the expedition as is necessary for an empire), while the skeptics are forced into silence for fear of being unpatriotic.

Thucydides offers two contrasting views on the Sicilian proposition: Nicias, the sober-minded Athenian general (or strategos) who is fervently opposed to interventionism. Nicias was the voice for moderation in Athens. Nicias had negotiated the aptly-named Peace of Nicias previously in 421 BC which paused the ongoing conflict between Athens and Sparta until the Athenian Sicilian Expedition 421 BC.

In contrast to Nicias’s moderation, Thucydides also shows us Alcibiades, the demagogic follower of Socrates and bombastic son of the old Athenian aristocracy, who successfully takes up the mantel of Pericles. Alcibiades rouses the passions of the Athenian public by claiming an either/or situation with regard to Sicily. The choice is between conquering or being conquered, though the idea that Athens is facing imminent conquest is absurd. Alcibiades is a proponent of aggressive expansionism and, in the end, he wins the day and leads the expedition to Sicily. Consider the way Thucydides describes the general mood of the Athenians regarding the invasion of Sicily:

“Everyone fell in love with the enterprise. The older men thought that they would either subdue the places against which they were to sail, or at all events, with so large a force, meet with no disaster those in the prime of life felt a longing for foreign sights and spectacles, and had no doubt that they should come safe home again while the idea of the common people and the soldiery was to earn wages at the moment, and make conquests that would supply a never-ending fund to pay for the future. With this enthusiasm of the majority, the few that did not like it feared to appear unpatriotic by holding up their hands against it, and so kept quiet” (6.24).

According to Thucydides, there is a kind of erotic love for conquest that grips the people of Athens, and the ‘tyranny of the majority’ as Madison would have called it, takes hold. However, this eroticism takes different forms depending upon age and station: the older men thought their army was so powerful it could not possibly be defeated, those in the prime of their lives were longing for adventure (new things, ‘foreign sights and spectacles’), and the common people and soldiery were hungry for riches and security. In war, each group sees their own deprivation as an opportunity: strength, adventure, and riches, respectively.

At any rate, as happens with the superstitions of crowds, on the eve of the Sicilian Expedition all the stone statues of Hermes, the “Hermae,” are mutilated throughout the city of Athens. And rumors surface about drunken parties in private homes where the Mysteries of profaned (for reference see Socrates in Plato’s Symposium). Immediately, Alcibiades is blamed and it bears a foreboding sign for the expedition, while the enemies of Alcibiades hope to elevate the rule of the People, rather than leaders like Pericles and Alcibiades. These leaders win the moment and Alcibiades is brought to trial but he flees in exile to Sparta -his allegiances now in question, Alcibiades defects to the enemy. Meanwhile, the Sicilian Expedition ends in disaster as the Athenian invasion fails to claim ground, and all the retreating Athenians are slaughtered in Syracuse.

Later, Thucydides makes note of the foremost cause of ruin for the Athenian army:

“Indeed the first and foremost cause of the ruin of the Athenian army was the capture of Plemmyrium [a harbor port near Syracuse where the Athenians retreated], even the entrance of the harbor being now no longer safe for carrying in provisions, as the Syracusan vessels were stationed there to prevent it, and nothing could be brought in without fighting besides the general impression of dismay and discouragement produced upon the army” (7.24).

In response, Athens votes to send a massive force of reinforcements led by the general Demosthenes, not be confused with the great Athenian orator and speechwriter, but the Athenian armies become separated, decimated, enslaved, starved, and both Demosthenes and Nicias are executed. A few Athenian prisoners escape to deliver the dismal news back home in Athens.

Timeline of Events in the Peloponnesian War:

6th-5th Centuries BC: The Peloponnesian League is created and led by Sparta over the surrounding Peloponnesus: Corinth, Elis, Tegea, and others. Also the Delian League was created under the leadership of Athens.

435 BC: The city of Epidamnus, a colony of Corcyra located right at the entrance to the Ionic Gulf, undergoes an internal revolt and requests help from Corcyra which is denied so they request help from soft rival to Corcyra, Corinth. It causes a proxy war between Corinth and Corcyra, with Corcyra winning back its colony. In response Corinth begins building up a vast navy.

433 BC: Both Corinth and Corcyra call upon Athens, a fellow member of the Delian League, for aid. After both making their cases, Athens votes with an eye toward war with the Peloponnesus by siding with Corcyra. However, when both sides do battle, Corinth wins the day so they send reinforcements and the escalation calls upon the Peloponnesian League to break the standing peace treaty.

432 BC: Athens fortifies its new ally Corcyra against Corinthian forces at Potidaea, as well. The Siege of Potidaea brings an end to Sparta’s inaction, with many denouncing Athens. Athens sent a fleet to Potidaea after Sparta and allies encouraged a revolt on the island in response to Athenian support for Corcyra against Corinth. Sparta declares Athens to be the aggressor and declares war on Athens.

The powerful orator Pericles rises in Athens who is vehemently opposed to any conciliation with Sparta, in contrast to Archidamus King of Sparta, who urges caution, tact, and discipline. Sparta peddles a rumor that Athens is cursed by the goddess (thus subtly implicating Pericles as accursed). Athens, under Pericles, rejects offers to allow the Hellenes to remain free.

431 BC: War begins. Thebes attacks and defeats Plataea, with Athenian help for Plataea arriving too late. Sparta invades Attica. Athens sends a fleet to attack the Pelopponesus and draw troops off their country farms. Pericles delivers his famous “Funeral Oration Speech” in Winter 431 BC.

430 BC: Again Sparta invades Athens and shortly thereafter a great plague falls upon the land “a pestilence of such extent and mortality was nowhere remembered.” It began perhaps in Egypt or Ethiopia and infected Athens through the Piraeus. A rumor spreads that Sparta poisons the water of Athens. The plague brings lawlessness and mass death.

Pericles “The First Citizen” of Athens delivers a more tempered speech in Summer defending himself and wishing the Athenians had heeded all of his advice and not capitulated in any way to Sparta.

Athens conquers Potidaea. Sparta attacks Plataea.

428 BC: Sparta invades Athens again, Lesbos revolts from Athens. Mytilene turns to Sparta for help but Athens votes to spare Mytilene against the advice of Cleon a zealot and war hawk.

425 BC: The Athenians outmaneuver the Spartans at Pylos under the generalship of Demosthenes (not be confused with the great Athenian orator).

422 BC: War hawks Cleon (Athens) and Brasidas (Sparta) battle to the death at the Athenian colony of Amphipolis.

421 BC: After the deaths of Cleon and Brasidas, the moderate Athenian leader Nicias is able to negotiate a peace – the Peace of Nicias which lasted six years.

415 BC: The ill-fated Sicilian Expedition is undertaken initially by Alcibiades who takes up the expansionist agenda from Pericles and Cleon, but the expedition ends in 413 BC in spectacular failure. Both leaders Nicias and Demosthenes are executed in the surrender at Syracuse.

413 BC: In order to escape punishment in Athens, Alcibiades defects to Sparta and advises them on how to attack Athens. From here, Athens was beset by revolts, both internal and external by allies, as well as a troubling alliance between Persia and Sparta.

407 BC: Alcibiades returns to Athens only to be exiled once again over questions of his loyalty.

404 BC: Athens finally surrenders to Spartan general Lysander who defeated the Athenian navy and claimed the Dardanelles, a chief source of Athenian grain. Amidst death and starvation Athens surrenders. Sparta welcomes Athens into its network of allies but destroys Athens’s wall, navy, and riches.

For this reading I used the impeccable Landmark edition by businessman-turned classical scholar Robert B. Strassler.


Contents

The Mesolithic period in Greece started after Upper Paleolithic and it is part of Middle Stone Age in Greece before Neolithic emerging. Mesolithic sites in Greece were limited and the majority are located near the coast. Franchthi cave and Theopetra are among the most important Mesolithic sites in Greece and South Eastern Europe [1]

Neolithic to Bronze Age (7000–1100 BC) Edit

The Neolithic Revolution reached Europe beginning in 7000–6500 BC when agriculturalists from the Near East entered the Greek peninsula from Anatolia by island-hopping through the Aegean Sea. The earliest Neolithic sites with developed agricultural economies in Europe dated 8500–9000 BPE are found in Greece. [3] The first Greek-speaking tribes, speaking the predecessor of the Mycenaean language, arrived in the Greek mainland sometime in the Neolithic period or the Early Bronze Age (c. 3200 BC). [4] [5]

Cycladic and Minoan civilization Edit

The Cycladic culture is a significant Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age culture, is best known for its schematic flat female idols carved out of the islands' pure white marble centuries before the great Middle Bronze Age ("Minoan") culture arose in Crete, to the south. The Minoan civilization in Crete lasted from about c. 3000 BC (Early Minoan) to c. 1400 BC, [6] and the Helladic culture on the Greek mainland from c. 3200 – c. 3100 to c. 2000 – c. 1900 .

Little specific information is known about the Minoans (even the name Minoans is a modern appellation, derived from Minos, the legendary king of Crete), including their written system, which was recorded on the undeciphered Linear A script [6] and Cretan hieroglyphs. They were primarily a mercantile people engaged in extensive overseas trade throughout the Mediterranean region. [6]

Minoan civilization was affected by a number of natural cataclysms such as the volcanic eruption at Thera (c. 1628–1627 BC) and earthquakes (c. 1600 BC). [6] In 1425 BC, the Minoan palaces (except Knossos) were devastated by fire, which allowed the Mycenaean Greeks, influenced by the Minoans' culture, to expand into Crete. [6] The Minoan civilization which preceded the Mycenaean civilization on Crete was revealed to the modern world by Sir Arthur Evans in 1900, when he purchased and then began excavating a site at Knossos. [7]

Pre Mycenean Helladic period

Following the end of the Neolithic ages, the last Stone Age period, the early and middle Helladic period was established in the Greek mainland. Firstly, the slow transition from the Final Neolithic period took place with the Eutresis culture. The agricultural communities of that period needed entire centuries in order to replace their stone tools with metal tools. Following the materialistic developments, more powerful micro-states and the base of the future Late Helladic Mycenaean civilization were developed. The Early Bronze Age settlements saw further development during Helladic III or Tiryns culture and the Middle Helladic period before the Mycenean period.

Mycenaean civilization Edit

Mycenaean civilization originated and evolved from the society and culture of the Early and Middle Helladic periods in mainland Greece. [8] It emerged in c. 1600 BC, when Helladic culture in mainland Greece was transformed under influences from Minoan Crete and lasted until the collapse of the Mycenaean palaces in c. 1100 BC. Mycenaean Greece is the Late Helladic Bronze Age civilization of Ancient Greece and it is the historical setting of the epics of Homer and most of Greek mythology and religion. The Mycenaean period takes its name from the archaeological site Mycenae in the northeastern Argolid, in the Peloponnesos of southern Greece. Athens, Pylos, Thebes, and Tiryns are also important Mycenaean sites.

Mycenaean civilization was dominated by a warrior aristocracy. Around 1400 BC, the Mycenaeans extended their control to Crete, the center of the Minoan civilization, and adopted a form of the Minoan script called Linear A to write their early form of Greek. The Mycenaean-era script is called Linear B, which was deciphered in 1952 by Michael Ventris. The Mycenaeans buried their nobles in beehive tombs (tholoi), large circular burial chambers with a high-vaulted roof and straight entry passage lined with stone. They often buried daggers or some other form of military equipment with the deceased. The nobility was often buried with gold masks, tiaras, armor, and jeweled weapons. Mycenaeans were buried in a sitting position, and some of the nobility underwent mummification.

Around 1100–1050 BC, the Mycenaean civilization collapsed. Numerous cities were sacked and the region entered what historians see as a "dark age". During this period, Greece experienced a decline in population and literacy. The Greeks themselves have traditionally blamed this decline on an invasion by another wave of Greek people, the Dorians, although there is scant archaeological evidence for this view.

Ancient Greece refers to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Dark Ages to the end of antiquity (c. AD 600). In common usage, it refers to all Greek history before the Roman Empire, but historians use the term more precisely. Some writers include the periods of the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations, while others argue that these civilizations were so different from later Greek cultures that they should be classed separately. Traditionally, the Ancient Greek period was taken to begin with the date of the first Olympic Games in 776 BC, but most historians now extend the term back to about 1000 BC.

The traditional date for the end of the Classical Greek period is the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC. The period that follows is classed as Hellenistic. Not everyone treats the Classical Greek and Hellenic periods as distinct however, and some writers treat the Ancient Greek civilization as a continuum running until the advent of Christianity in the 3rd century AD.

Ancient Greece is considered by most historians to be the foundational culture of Western civilization. Greek culture was a powerful influence in the Roman Empire, which carried a version of it to many parts of Europe. Ancient Greek civilization has been immensely influential on the language, politics, educational systems, philosophy, art, and architecture of the modern world, particularly during the Renaissance in Western Europe and again during various neo-classical revivals in 18th and 19th-century Europe and the Americas.

Iron Age (1100–800 BC) Edit

The Greek Dark Ages (c. 1100 – c. 800 BC) refers to the period of Greek history from the presumed Dorian invasion and end of the Mycenaean civilization in the 11th century BC to the rise of the first Greek city-states in the 9th century BC and the epics of Homer and earliest writings in the Greek alphabet in the 8th century BC.

The collapse of the Mycenaean civilization coincided with the fall of several other large empires in the near east, most notably the Hittite and the Egyptian. The cause may be attributed to an invasion of the Sea People wielding iron weapons. When the Dorians came down into Greece they also were equipped with superior iron weapons, easily dispersing the already weakened Mycenaeans. The period that follows these events is collectively known as the Greek Dark Ages.

Kings ruled throughout this period until eventually they were replaced with an aristocracy, then still later, in some areas, an aristocracy within an aristocracy—an elite of the elite. Warfare shifted from a focus on the cavalry to a great emphasis on infantry. Due to its cheapness of production and local availability, iron replaced bronze as the metal of choice in the manufacturing of tools and weapons. Slowly equality grew among the different sects of people, leading to the dethronement of the various Kings and the rise of the family.

At the end of this period of stagnation, the Greek civilization was engulfed in a renaissance that spread the Greek world as far as the Black Sea and Spain. The writing was relearned from the Phoenicians, eventually spreading north into Italy and the Gauls.

Archaic Greece Edit

In the 8th century BC, Greece began to emerge from the Dark Ages which followed the fall of the Mycenaean civilization. Literacy had been lost and Mycenaean script forgotten, but the Greeks adopted the Phoenician alphabet, modifying it to create the Greek alphabet. From about the 9th century BC, written records begin to appear. [9] Greece was divided into many small self-governing communities, a pattern largely dictated by Greek geography, where every island, valley, and plain is cut off from its neighbors by the sea or mountain ranges. [10]

The Archaic period can be understood as the Orientalizing period, when Greece was at the fringe, but not under the sway, of the budding Neo-Assyrian Empire. Greece adopted significant amounts of cultural elements from the Orient, in art as well as in religion and mythology. Archaeologically, Archaic Greece is marked by Geometric pottery.

Classical Greece Edit

The basic unit of politics in Ancient Greece was the polis, sometimes translated as city-state. "Politics" literally means "the things of the polis" where each city-state was independent, at least in theory. Some city-states might be subordinate to others (a colony traditionally deferred to its mother city), some might have had governments wholly dependent upon others (the Thirty Tyrants in Athens was imposed by Sparta following the Peloponnesian War), but the titularly supreme power in each city was located within that city. This meant that when Greece went to war (e.g., against the Persian Empire), it took the form of an alliance going to war. It also gave ample opportunity for wars within Greece between different cities.

Persian Wars Edit

Two major wars shaped the Classical Greek world. The Persian Wars (499–449 BC) are recounted in Herodotus's Histories. By the late 6th century BC, the Achaemenid Persian Empire ruled over all Greek city-states in Ionia (the western coast of modern-day Turkey) and had made territorial gains in the Balkans and Eastern Europe proper as well. The Greek cities of Ionia, led by Miletus, revolted against the Persian Empire, and were supported by some mainland cities, including Athens and Eretria. After the uprising had been quelled, Darius I launched the First Persian invasion of Greece to exact revenge on the Athenians. In 492 BC, Persian general Mardonius led an army (supported by a fleet) across the Hellespont, re-subjugating Thrace and adding Macedonia as a fully-subjugated client kingdom. [11] However, before he could reach Greece proper, his fleet was destroyed in a storm near Mount Athos. In 490 BC, Darius sent another fleet directly across the Aegean (rather than following the land route as Mardonius had done) to subdue Athens. After destroying the city of Eretria, the fleet landed and faced the Athenian army at Marathon, which ended in a decisive Athenian victory. Darius's successor, Xerxes I, launched the Second Persian invasion of Greece in 480 BC. Despite Greek defeat at Thermopylae, after which the Persians briefly overran northern and central Greece, [12] the Greek city-states once again managed to comprehensively defeat the invaders with naval victory at Salamis and victory on land at Plataea.

To prosecute the war and then to defend Greece from further Persian attack, Athens founded the Delian League in 477 BC. Initially, each city in the League would contribute ships and soldiers to a common army, but in time Athens allowed (and then compelled) the smaller cities to contribute funds so that it could supply their quota of ships. Secession from the League could be punished. Following military reversals against the Persians, the treasury was moved from Delos to Athens, further strengthening the latter's control over the League. The Delian League was eventually referred to pejoratively as the Athenian Empire.

In 458 BC, while the Persian Wars were still ongoing, war broke out between the Delian League and the Peloponnesian League, comprising Sparta and its allies. After some inconclusive fighting, the two sides signed a peace in 447 BC. That peace was stipulated to last thirty years: instead, it held only until 431 BC, with the onset of the Peloponnesian War. Our main sources concerning this war are Thucydides's History of the Peloponnesian War and Xenophon's Hellenica.

Peloponnesian War Edit

The war began over a dispute between Corcyra and Epidamnus. Corinth intervened on the Epidamnian side. Fearful lest Corinth capture the Corcyran navy (second only to the Athenian in size), Athens intervened. It prevented Corinth from landing on Corcyra at the Battle of Sybota, laid siege to Potidaea, and forbade all commerce with Corinth's closely situated ally, Megara (the Megarian decree).

There was disagreement among the Greeks as to which party violated the treaty between the Delian and Peloponnesian Leagues, as Athens was technically defending a new ally. The Corinthians turned to Sparta for aid. Fearing the growing might of Athens, and witnessing Athens' willingness to use it against the Megarians (the embargo would have ruined them), Sparta declared the treaty to have been violated and the Peloponnesian War began in earnest.

The first stage of the war (known as the Archidamian War for the Spartan king, Archidamus II) lasted until 421 BC with the signing of the Peace of Nicias. The Athenian general Pericles recommended that his city fight a defensive war, avoiding battle against the superior land forces led by Sparta, and importing everything needful by maintaining its powerful navy. Athens would simply outlast Sparta, whose citizens feared to be out of their city for long lest the helots revolt.

This strategy required that Athens endure regular sieges, and in 430 BC it was visited with an awful plague that killed about a quarter of its people, including Pericles. With Pericles gone, less conservative elements gained power in the city and Athens went on the offensive. It captured 300–400 Spartan hoplites at the Battle of Pylos. This represented a significant fraction of the Spartan fighting force which the latter decided it could not afford to lose. Meanwhile, Athens had suffered humiliating defeats at Delium and Amphipolis. The Peace of Nicias concluded with Sparta recovering its hostages and Athens recovering the city of Amphipolis.

Those who signed the Peace of Nicias in 421 BC swore to uphold it for fifty years. The second stage of the Peloponnesian War began in 415 BC when Athens embarked on the Sicilian Expedition to support an ally (Segesta) attacked by Syracuse and to conquer Sicily. Initially, Sparta was reluctant, but Alcibiades, the Athenian general who had argued for the Sicilian Expedition, defected to the Spartan cause upon being accused of grossly impious acts and convinced them that they could not allow Athens to subjugate Syracuse. The campaign ended in disaster for the Athenians.

Athens' Ionian possessions rebelled with the support of Sparta, as advised by Alcibiades. In 411 BC, an oligarchical revolt in Athens held out the chance for peace, but the Athenian navy, which remained committed to the democracy, refused to accept the change and continued fighting in Athens' name. The navy recalled Alcibiades (who had been forced to abandon the Spartan cause after reputedly seducing the wife of Agis II, a Spartan king) and made him its head. The oligarchy in Athens collapsed and Alcibiades reconquered what had been lost.

In 407 BC, Alcibiades was replaced following a minor naval defeat at the Battle of Notium. The Spartan general Lysander, having fortified his city's naval power, won victory after victory. Following the Battle of Arginusae, which Athens won but was prevented by bad weather from rescuing some of its sailors, Athens executed or exiled eight of its top naval commanders. Lysander followed with a crushing blow at the Battle of Aegospotami in 405 BC which almost destroyed the Athenian fleet. Athens surrendered one year later, ending the Peloponnesian War.

The war had left devastation in its wake. Discontent with the Spartan hegemony that followed (including the fact that it ceded Ionia and Cyprus to the Persian Empire at the conclusion of the Corinthian War (395–387 BC) see Treaty of Antalcidas) induced the Thebans to attack. Their general, Epaminondas, crushed Sparta at the Battle of Leuctra in 371 BC, inaugurating a period of Theban dominance in Greece. In 346 BC, unable to prevail in its ten-year war with Phocis, Thebes called upon Philip II of Macedon for aid. Macedon quickly forced the city-states into being united by the League of Corinth which led to the conquering of the Persian Empire and the Hellenistic Age had begun.

Hellenistic Greece Edit

The Hellenistic period of Greek history begins with the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and ends with the annexation of the Greek peninsula and islands by Rome in 146 BC. Although the establishment of Roman rule did not break the continuity of Hellenistic society and culture, which remained essentially unchanged until the advent of Christianity, it did mark the end of Greek political independence.

During the Hellenistic period, the importance of "Greece proper" (that is, the territory of modern Greece) within the Greek-speaking world declined sharply. The great centres of Hellenistic culture were Alexandria and Antioch, capitals of Ptolemaic Egypt and Seleucid Syria. (See Hellenistic civilization for the history of Greek culture outside Greece in this period.)

Athens and her allies revolted against Macedon upon hearing that Alexander had died, but were defeated within a year in the Lamian War. Meanwhile, a struggle for power broke out among Alexander's generals, which resulted in the break-up of his empire and the establishment of a number of new kingdoms (see the Wars of the Diadochi). Ptolemy was left with Egypt, Seleucus with the Levant, Mesopotamia, and points east. Control of Greece, Thrace, and Anatolia was contested, but by 298 BC the Antigonid dynasty had supplanted the Antipatrid.

Macedonian control of the city-states was intermittent, with a number of revolts. Athens, Rhodes, Pergamum and other Greek states retained substantial independence and joined the Aetolian League as a means of defending it and restoring democracy in their states, whereas they saw Macedon as a tyrannical kingdom because of the fact they had not adopted democracy. The Achaean League, while nominally subject to the Ptolemies was in effect independent, and controlled most of southern Greece. Sparta also remained independent, but generally refused to join any league.

In 267 BC, Ptolemy II persuaded the Greek cities to revolt against Macedon, in what became the Chremonidean War, after the Athenian leader Chremonides. The cities were defeated and Athens lost her independence and her democratic institutions. This marked the end of Athens as a political actor, although it remained the largest, wealthiest and most cultivated city in Greece. In 225 BC, Macedon defeated the Egyptian fleet at Cos and brought the Aegean islands, except Rhodes, under its rule as well.

Sparta remained hostile to the Achaeans, and in 227 BC invaded Achaea and seized control of the League. The remaining Achaeans preferred distant Macedon to nearby Sparta and allied with the former. In 222 BC, the Macedonian army defeated the Spartans and annexed their city—the first time Sparta had ever been occupied by a different state.

Philip V of Macedon was the last Greek ruler with both the talent and the opportunity to unite Greece and preserve its independence against the ever-increasing power of Rome. Under his auspices, the Peace of Naupactus (217 BC) brought conflict between Macedon and the Greek leagues to an end, and at this time he controlled all of Greece except Athens, Rhodes, and Pergamum.

In 215 BC, however, Philip formed an alliance with Rome's enemy Carthage. Rome promptly lured the Achaean cities away from their nominal loyalty to Philip, and formed alliances with Rhodes and Pergamum, now the strongest power in Asia Minor. The First Macedonian War broke out in 212 BC and ended inconclusively in 205 BC, but Macedon was now marked as an enemy of Rome.

In 202 BC, Rome defeated Carthage and was free to turn her attention eastwards. In 198 BC, the Second Macedonian War broke out because Rome saw Macedon as a potential ally of the Seleucid Empire, the greatest power in the east. Philip's allies in Greece deserted him and in 197 BC he was decisively defeated at the Battle of Cynoscephalae by the Roman proconsul Titus Quinctius Flaminius.

Luckily for the Greeks, Flaminius was a moderate man and an admirer of Greek culture. Philip had to surrender his fleet and become a Roman ally, but was otherwise spared. At the Isthmian Games in 196 BC, Flaminius declared all the Greek cities free, although Roman garrisons were placed at Corinth and Chalcis. But the freedom promised by Rome was an illusion. All the cities except Rhodes were enrolled in a new League which Rome ultimately controlled, and aristocratic constitutions were favored and actively promoted.

Militarily, Greece itself declined to the point that the Romans conquered the land (168 BC onwards), though Greek culture would in turn conquer Roman life. Although the period of Roman rule in Greece is conventionally dated as starting from the sacking of Corinth by the Roman Lucius Mummius in 146 BC, Macedonia had already come under Roman control with the defeat of its king, Perseus, by the Roman Aemilius Paullus at Pydna in 168 BC.

The Romans divided the region into four smaller republics, and in 146 BC Macedonia officially became a province, with its capital at Thessalonica. The rest of the Greek city-states gradually and eventually paid homage to Rome ending their de jure autonomy as well. The Romans left local administration to the Greeks without making any attempt to abolish traditional political patterns. The agora in Athens continued to be the center of civic and political life.

Caracalla's decree in AD 212, the Constitutio Antoniniana, extended citizenship outside Italy to all free adult men in the entire Roman Empire, effectively raising provincial populations to equal status with the city of Rome itself. The importance of this decree is historical, not political. It set the basis for integration where the economic and judicial mechanisms of the state could be applied throughout the Mediterranean as was once done from Latium into all Italy. In practice of course, integration did not take place uniformly. Societies already integrated with Rome, such as Greece, were favored by this decree, in comparison with those far away, too poor, or just too alien such as Britain, Palestine, or Egypt.

Caracalla's decree did not set in motion the processes that led to the transfer of power from Italy and the West to Greece and the East, but rather accelerated them, setting the foundations for the millennium-long rise of Greece, in the form of the Eastern Roman Empire, as a major power in Europe and the Mediterranean in the Middle Ages.

Byzantine rule (324–AD 1204) Edit

The division of the empire into East and West and the subsequent collapse of the Western Roman Empire were developments that constantly accentuated the position of the Greeks in the empire and eventually allowed them to become identified with it altogether. The leading role of Constantinople began when Constantine the Great turned Byzantium into the new capital of the Roman Empire, from then on to be known as Constantinople, placing the city at the center of Hellenism, a beacon for the Greeks that lasted to the modern era.

The figures of Constantine the Great and Justinian dominated during 324–610. Assimilating the Roman tradition, the emperors sought to offer the basis for later developments and for the formation of the Byzantine Empire. Efforts to secure the borders of the Empire and to restore the Roman territories marked the early centuries. At the same time, the definitive formation and establishment of the Orthodox doctrine, but also a series of conflicts resulting from heresies that developed within the boundaries of the empire, marked the early period of Byzantine history.

In the first period of the middle Byzantine era (610–867), the empire was attacked both by old enemies (Persians, Lombards, Avars and Slavs) as well as by new ones, appearing for the first time in history (Arabs, Bulgars). The main characteristic of this period was that the enemy attacks were not localized to the border areas of the state but they were extended deep beyond, even threatening the capital itself.

The attacks of the Slavs lost their periodical and temporary character and became permanent settlements that transformed into new states, initially hostile to Constantinople until their christianization. Those states were referred to by the Byzantines as Sclavinias.

Changes were also observed in the internal structure of the empire which was dictated by both external and internal conditions. The predominance of the small free farmers, the expansion of the military estates, and the development of the system of themes, brought to completion developments that had started in the previous period. Changes were noted also in the sector of administration: the administration and society had become immiscibly Greek, while the restoration of Orthodoxy after the iconoclast movement, allowed the successful resumption of missionary action among neighboring peoples and their placement within the sphere of Byzantine cultural influence. During this period the state was geographically reduced and economically damaged since it lost wealth-producing regions however, it obtained greater lingual, dogmatic and cultural homogeneity.

From the late 8th century, the Empire began to recover from the devastating impact of successive invasions, and the reconquest of the Greek peninsula began. Greeks from Sicily and Asia Minor were brought in as settlers. The Slavs were either driven out to Asia Minor or assimilated and the Sclavinias were eliminated. By the middle of the 9th century, Greece was Byzantine again, and the cities began to recover due to improved security and the restoration of effective central control.

Economic prosperity Edit

When the Byzantine Empire was rescued from a period of crisis by the resolute leadership of the three Komnenoi emperors Alexios, John and Manuel in the 12th century, Greece prospered. Recent research has revealed that this period was a time of significant growth in the rural economy, with rising population levels and extensive tracts of new agricultural land being brought into production. The widespread construction of new rural churches is a strong indication that prosperity was being generated even in remote areas.

A steady increase in population led to a higher population density, and there is good evidence that the demographic increase was accompanied by the revival of towns. According to Alan Harvey's Economic Expansion in the Byzantine Empire 900–1200, towns expanded significantly in the twelfth century. Archaeological evidence shows an increase in the size of urban settlements, together with a ‘notable upsurge’ in new towns. Archaeological evidence tells us that many of the medieval towns, including Athens, Thessaloniki, Thebes and Corinth, experienced a period of rapid and sustained growth, starting in the 11th century and continuing until the end of the 12th century.

The growth of the towns attracted the Venetians, and this interest in trade appears to have further increased economic prosperity in Greece. Certainly, the Venetians and others were active traders in the ports of the Holy Land, and they made a living out of shipping goods between the Crusader Kingdoms of Outremer and the West while also trading extensively with Byzantium and Egypt.

Artistic revival Edit

A kind of "Renaissance" of the Byzantine art began in the 10th century. Many of the most important Byzantine churches in and around Athens, for example, were built during these two centuries, and this reflects the growth of urbanization in Greece during this period. There was also a revival in mosaic art with artists showing great interest in depicting natural landscapes with wild animals and scenes from the hunt. Mosaics became more realistic and vivid, with an increased emphasis on depicting three-dimensional forms. With its love of luxury and passion for color, the art of this age delighted in the production of masterpieces that spread the fame of Byzantium throughout the Christian world.

Beautiful silks from the workshops of Constantinople also portrayed in dazzling color animals—lions, elephants, eagles, and griffins—confronting each other, or representing Emperors gorgeously arrayed on horseback or engaged in the chase. The eyes of many patrons were attracted and the economy of Greece grew. In the provinces, regional schools of architecture began producing many distinctive styles that drew on a range of cultural influences. All this suggests that there was an increased demand for art, with more people having access to the necessary wealth to commission and pay for such work.

Yet the marvelous expansion of Byzantine art during this period, one of the most remarkable facts in the history of the empire, did not stop there. From the 10th to the 12th century, Byzantium was the main source of inspiration for the West. By their style, arrangement, and iconography the mosaics of St. Mark's at Venice and of the cathedral at Torcello clearly show their Byzantine origin. Similarly, those of the Palatine Chapel, the Martorana at Palermo, and the cathedral of Cefalu, together with the vast decoration of the cathedral at Monreale, prove the influence of Byzantium on the Norman Court of Sicily in the 12th century.

Hispano-Moorish art was unquestionably derived from the Byzantine. Romanesque art owes much to the East, from which it borrowed not only its decorative forms but the plan of some of its buildings, as is proved, for instance, by the domed churches of south-western France. Princes of Kiev, Venetian doges, abbots of Monte Cassino, merchants of Amalfi, and the Norman kings of Sicily all looked to Byzantium for artists or works of art. Such was the influence of Byzantine art in the 12th century, that Russia, Venice, southern Italy, and Sicily all virtually became provincial centers dedicated to its production.

The Fourth Crusade (1204) Edit

The year 1204 marks the beginning of the Late Byzantine period when Constantinople and a number of Byzantine territories were conquered by the Latins during the Fourth Crusade. During this period, a number of Byzantine Greek successor states emerged such as the Empire of Nicaea, the Despotate of Epirus and the Empire of Trebizond, such as a number of Frankish/Latin Catholic states (Principality of Achaea, Duchy of Athens, Duchy of the Archipelago, Kingdom of Thessalonica etc.) In Latin-occupied territories, elements of feudality entered medieval Greek life.

From partial Byzantine restoration to 1453 Edit

The Latin Empire, however, lasted only 57 years, when in 1261 Constantinople was reclaimed by the Byzantine Greeks and the Byzantine Empire was restored. However, in mainland Greece and islands various Latin possessions continued to exist. From 1261 onwards, Byzantium underwent a gradual weakening of its internal structures and the reduction of its territories from Ottoman invasions culminating in the Fall of Constantinople on May 29, 1453. The Ottoman conquest of Constantinople resulted in the official end of both the Eastern Roman Empire and the Byzantine period of Greek history.

The Greeks held out in the Peloponnese until 1460, and the Venetians and Genoese clung to some of the islands, but by the early 16th century all of mainland Greece and most of the Aegean islands were in Ottoman hands, excluding several port cities still held by the Venetians (Nafplio, Monemvasia, Parga and Methone the most important of them). The Cyclades islands, in the middle of the Aegean, were officially annexed by the Ottomans in 1579, although they were under vassal status since the 1530s. Cyprus fell in 1571, and the Venetians retained Crete until 1669. The Ionian Islands were never ruled by the Ottomans, with the exception of Kefalonia (from 1479 to 1481 and from 1485 to 1500), and remained under the rule of the Republic of Venice. It was in the Ionian Islands where modern Greek statehood was born, with the creation of the Republic of the Seven Islands in 1800.

Ottoman Greece was a multiethnic society. However, the modern Western notion of multiculturalism, although at first glance appears to correspond to the system of millets, is considered to be incompatible with the Ottoman system. [13] The Greeks with the one hand were given some privileges and freedom with the other they were exposed to a tyranny deriving from the malpractices of its administrative personnel over which the central government had only remote and incomplete control. [14] When the Ottomans arrived, two Greek migrations occurred. The first migration entailed the Greek intelligentsia migrating to Western Europe and influencing the advent of the Renaissance. The second migration entailed Greeks leaving the plains of the Greek peninsula and resettling in the mountains. [15] The millet system contributed to the ethnic cohesion of Orthodox Greeks by segregating the various peoples within the Ottoman Empire based on religion. The Greeks living in the plains during Ottoman rule were either Christians who dealt with the burdens of foreign rule or crypto-Christians (Greek Muslims who were secret practitioners of the Greek Orthodox faith). Some Greeks became crypto-Christians to avoid heavy taxes and at the same time express their identity by maintaining their ties to the Greek Orthodox Church. However, Greeks who converted to Islam and were not crypto-Christians were deemed "Turks" (Muslims) in the eyes of Orthodox Greeks, even if they didn't adopt the Turkish language.

The Ottomans ruled most of Greece until the early 19th century. The first self-governed, since the Middle Ages, Hellenic state was established during the French Revolutionary Wars, in 1800, 21 years before the outbreak of the Greek revolution in mainland Greece. It was the Septinsular Republic with Corfu as capital.

In the early months of 1821, the Greeks declared their independence, but did not achieve it until 1829. The Great Powers first shared the same view concerning the necessity of preserving the status quo of the Ottoman Empire, but soon changed their stance. Scores of non-Greeks philhellenes volunteered to fight for the cause, including Lord Byron.

On October 20, 1827, a combined British, French and Russian naval force destroyed the Ottoman and Egyptian armada. The Russian minister of foreign affairs, Ioannis Kapodistrias, himself a Greek, returned home as President of the new Republic and with his diplomatic handling, managed to secure the Greek independence and the military dominination in Central Greece. The first capital of the independent Greece was temporarily Aigina (1828–1829) and later officially Nafplion (1828–1834). After his assassination, the European powers turned Greece into a monarchy the first King, Otto, came from Bavaria and the second, George I, from Denmark. In 1834, King Otto transferred the capital to Athens.

During the 19th and early 20th centuries, Greece sought to enlarge its boundaries to include the ethnic Greek population of the Ottoman Empire. Greece played a peripheral role in the Crimean War. When Russia attacked the Ottoman Empire in 1853, Greek leaders saw an opportunity to expand North and South into Ottoman areas that had a Christian majority. However, Greece did not coordinate its plans with Russia, did not declare war, and received no outside military or financial support. The French and British seized its major port and effectively neutralized the Greek army. Greek efforts to cause insurrections failed as they were easily crushed by Ottoman forces. Greece was not invited to the peace conference and made no gains out of the war. The frustrated Greek leadership blamed the King for failing to take advantage of the situation his popularity plunged and he was later forced to abdicate. The Ionian Islands were given by Britain upon the arrival of the new King George I in 1863 and Thessaly was ceded by the Ottomans in 1880.

Modernization Edit

In the late 19th century, modernization transformed the social structure of Greece. The population grew rapidly, putting heavy pressure on the system of small farms with low productivity. Overall, population density more than doubled from 41 persons per square mile in 1829 to 114 in 1912 (16 to 44 per km 2 ). One response was emigration to the United States, with a quarter million people leaving between 1906 and 1914. Entrepreneurs found numerous business opportunities in the retail and restaurant sectors of American cities some sent money back to their families, others returned with hundreds of dollars, enough to purchase a farm or a small business in the old village. The urban population tripled from 8% in 1853 to 24% in 1907. Athens grew from a village of 6000 people in 1834, when it became the capital, to 63,000 in 1879, 111,000 in 1896, and 167,000 in 1907. [16]

In Athens and other cities, men arriving from rural areas set up workshops and stores, creating a middle class. They joined with bankers, professional men, university students, and military officers, to demand reform and modernization of the political and economic system. Athens became the center of the merchant marine, which quadrupled from 250,000 tons in 1875 to more than 1,000,000 tons in 1915. As the cities modernized, businessmen adopted the latest styles of Western European architecture. [17]

Balkan Wars Edit

The participation of Greece in the Balkan Wars of 1912–1913 is one of the most important episodes in modern Greek history, as it allowed the Greek state to almost double its size and achieve most of its present territorial size. As a result of the Balkan Wars of 1912–1913, most of Epirus, Macedonia, Crete and the northern Aegean islands were incorporated into the Kingdom of Greece.


Contents

Alcibiades was born in Athens. His father was Cleinias, [3] who had distinguished himself in the Persian War both as a fighter himself and by personally subsidizing the cost of a trireme. The family of Cleinias had old connections with the Spartan aristocracy through a relationship of xenia, and the name "Alcibiades" was of Spartan origin. [4] [5] Alcibiades' mother was Deinomache, the daughter of Megacles, head of the powerful Alcmaeonid family, and could trace her family back to Eurysaces and the Telamonian Ajax. [6] Alcibiades thereby, through his mother, belonged to the powerful and controversial family of the Alcmaeonidae the renowned Pericles and his brother Ariphron were Deinomache's cousins, as her father and their mother were siblings. [7] His maternal grandfather, also named Alcibiades, was a friend of Cleisthenes, the famous constitutional reformer of the late 6th century BC. [8] After the death of Cleinias at the Battle of Coronea (447 BC), Pericles and Ariphron became his guardians. [9]

According to Plutarch, Alcibiades had several famous teachers, including Socrates, and was well trained in the art of rhetoric. [b] He was noted, however, for his unruly behavior, which was mentioned by ancient Greek and Latin writers on several occasions. [c] It was believed that Socrates took Alcibiades as a student because he believed he could change Alcibiades from his vain ways. Xenophon attempted to clear Socrates's name at trial by relaying information that Alcibiades was always corrupt and that Socrates merely failed in attempting to teach him morality. [17]

Alcibiades took part in the Battle of Potidaea in 432 BC, where Socrates was said to have saved his life [18] and again at the Battle of Delium in 424 BC. [d] Alcibiades had a particularly close relationship with Socrates, whom he admired and respected. [21] [22] Plutarch and Plato [23] describe Alcibiades as Socrates's beloved, the former stating that Alcibiades "feared and reverenced Socrates alone, and despised the rest of his lovers". [24]

Alcibiades was married to Hipparete, the daughter of Hipponicus, a wealthy Athenian. His bride brought with her a large dowry, which significantly increased Alcibiades' already substantial family fortune. [4] According to Plutarch, Hipparete loved her husband, but she attempted to divorce him because he consorted with courtesans but prevented her from appearing at court. He seized her in court and carried her home again through the crowded Agora. [25] : 185 She lived with him until her death, which came soon after, and gave birth to two children, a son named Alcibiades the Younger and a daughter. [14] Alcibiades was famed throughout his life for his physical attractiveness, of which he was inordinately vain. [4]

Rise to prominence Edit

Alcibiades first rose to prominence when he began advocating aggressive Athenian action after the signing of the Peace of Nicias. That treaty, an uneasy truce between Sparta and Athens signed midway through the Peloponnesian War, came at the end of seven years of fighting during which neither side had gained a decisive advantage. Historians Arnold W. Gomme and Raphael Sealey believe, and Thucydides reports, [26] that Alcibiades was offended that the Spartans had negotiated that treaty through Nicias and Laches, overlooking him on account of his youth. [27] [28]

Disputes over the interpretation of the treaty led the Spartans to dispatch ambassadors to Athens with full powers to arrange all unsettled matters. The Athenians initially received these ambassadors well, but Alcibiades met with them in secret before they were to speak to the ecclesia (the Athenian Assembly) and told them that the Assembly was haughty and had great ambitions. [29] He urged them to renounce their diplomatic authority to represent Sparta, and instead allow him to assist them through his influence in Athenian politics. [30] The representatives agreed and, impressed with Alcibiades, they alienated themselves from Nicias, who genuinely wanted to reach an agreement with the Spartans. [29] The next day, during the Assembly, Alcibiades asked them what powers Sparta had granted them to negotiate and they replied, as agreed, that they had not come with full and independent powers. This was in direct contradiction to what they had said the day before, and Alcibiades seized on this opportunity to denounce their character, cast suspicion on their aims, and destroy their credibility. This ploy increased Alcibiades's standing while embarrassing Nicias, and Alcibiades was subsequently appointed General. He took advantage of his increasing power to orchestrate the creation of an alliance between Argos, Mantinea, Elis, and other states in the Peloponnese, threatening Sparta's dominance in the region. According to Gomme, "it was a grandiose scheme for an Athenian general at the head of a mainly Peloponnesian army to march through the Peloponnese cocking a snook at Sparta when her reputation was at its lowest". [31] This alliance, however, would ultimately be defeated at the Battle of Mantinea. [32]

Somewhere in the years 416–415 BC, a complex struggle took place between Hyperbolos on one side and Nicias and Alcibiades on the other. Hyperbolos tried to bring about the ostracism of one of this pair, but Nicias and Alcibiades combined their influence to induce the people to expel Hyperbolos instead. [33] This incident reveals that Nicias and Alcibiades each commanded a personal following, whose votes were determined by the wishes of the leaders. [28]

Alcibiades was not one of the Generals involved in the capture of Melos in 416–415 BC, but Plutarch describes him as a supporter of the decree by which the grown men of Melos were killed and the women and children enslaved. [34] An oration urging Alcibiades' ostracism, "Against Alcibiades" (historically attributed to the orator Andocides but not in fact by him), alleges that Alcibiades had a child by one of these enslaved women. [35]

Sicilian Expedition Edit

In 415 BC, delegates from the Sicilian city of Segesta (Greek: Egesta ) arrived at Athens to plead for the support of the Athenians in their war against Selinus. During the debates on the undertaking, Nicias was vehemently opposed to Athenian intervention, explaining that the campaign would be very costly and attacking the character and motives of Alcibiades, who had emerged as a major supporter of the expedition. [37] On the other hand, Alcibiades argued that a campaign in this new theatre would bring riches to the city and expand the empire, just as the Persian Wars had. In his speech Alcibiades predicted (over-optimistically, in the opinion of most historians) that the Athenians would be able to recruit allies in the region and impose their rule on Syracuse, the most powerful city of Sicily. [38] In spite of Alcibiades's enthusiastic advocacy for the plan, it was Nicias, not he, who turned a modest undertaking into a massive campaign and made the conquest of Sicily seem possible and safe. [39] It was at his suggestion that the size of the fleet was significantly increased from 60 ships [40] to "140 galleys, 5,100 men at arms, and about 1300 archers, slingers, and light armed men". [41] Philosopher Leo Strauss underscores that the Sicilian expedition surpassed everything undertaken by Pericles. Almost certainly Nicias's intention was to shock the assembly with his high estimate of the forces required, but, instead of dissuading his fellow citizens, his analysis made them all the more eager. [42] Against his wishes Nicias was appointed General along with Alcibiades and Lamachus, all three of whom were given full powers to do whatever was in the best interests of Athens while in Sicily. [43]

One night during preparations for the expedition, the hermai, heads of the god Hermes on a plinth with a phallus, were mutilated throughout Athens. This was a religious scandal, resulted in a charge of asebeia (impiety) against Alcibiades, and was seen as a bad omen for the mission. Plutarch explains that Androcles, a political leader, used false witnesses who accused Alcibiades and his friends of mutilating the statues, and of profaning the Eleusinian Mysteries. Later his opponents, chief among them being Androcles and Thessalus, Cimon's son, enlisted orators to argue that Alcibiades should set sail as planned and stand trial on his return from the campaign. Alcibiades was suspicious of their intentions, and asked to be allowed to stand trial immediately, under penalty of death, in order to clear his name. [36] This request was denied, and the fleet set sail soon after, with the charges unresolved. [44]

"Men do not rest content with parrying the attacks of a superior, but often strike the first blow to prevent the attack being made. And we cannot fix the exact point at which our empire shall stop we have reached a position in which we must not be content with retaining but must scheme to extend it, for, if we cease to rule others, we are in danger of being ruled ourselves. Nor can you look at inaction from the same point of view as others, unless you are prepared to change your habits and make them like theirs."
Alcibiades' Oration before the Sicilian expedition, as recorded by Thucydides (VI, 18) Thucydides disclaims verbal accuracy [e]

As Alcibiades had suspected, his absence emboldened his enemies, and they began to accuse him of other sacrilegious actions and comments and even alleged that these actions were connected with a plot against the democracy. [46] According to Thucydides, the Athenians were always in fear and took everything suspiciously. [47] When the fleet arrived in Catania, it found the state trireme Salaminia waiting to bring Alcibiades and the others indicted for mutilating the hermai or profaning the Eleusinian Mysteries back to Athens to stand trial. [47] Alcibiades told the heralds that he would follow them back to Athens in his ship, but in Thurii he escaped with his crew in Athens he was convicted in absentia and condemned to death. His property was confiscated and a reward of one talent was promised to whoever succeeded in killing any who had fled. [48] Meanwhile, the Athenian force in Sicily, after a few early victories, moved against Messina, where the Generals expected their secret allies within the city to betray it to them. Alcibiades, however, foreseeing that he would be outlawed, gave information to the friends of the Syracusans in Messina, who succeeded in preventing the admission of the Athenians. [49] With the death of Lamachus in battle some time later, command of the Sicilian Expedition fell into the hands of Nicias, admired by Thucydides (however a modern scholar has judged him to be an inadequate military leader [1] ).

Defection to Sparta Edit

After his disappearance at Thurii, Alcibiades quickly contacted the Spartans, "promising to render them aid and service greater than all the harm he had previously done them as an enemy" if they would offer him sanctuary. [50] The Spartans granted this request and received him among them. Because of this defection, the Athenians condemned him to death in absentia and confiscated his property. [51] [52] In the debate at Sparta over whether to send a force to relieve Syracuse, Alcibiades spoke and instilled fear of Athenian ambition into the Spartan ephors by informing them that the Athenians hoped to conquer Sicily, Italy, and even Carthage. [53] Yale historian Donald Kagan believes that Alcibiades knowingly exaggerated the plans of the Athenians to convince the Spartans of the benefit they stood to gain from his help. Kagan asserts that Alcibiades had not yet acquired his "legendary" reputation, and the Spartans saw him as "a defeated and hunted man" whose policies "produced strategic failures" and brought "no decisive result". If accurate, this assessment underscores one of Alcibiades's greatest talents, his highly persuasive oratory. [54] After making the threat seem imminent, Alcibiades advised the Spartans to send troops and most importantly, a Spartan commander to discipline and aid the Syracusans. [53]

"Our party was that of the whole people, our creed being to do our part in preserving the form of government under which the city enjoyed the utmost greatness and freedom, and which we had found existing. As for democracy, the men of sense among us knew what it was, and I perhaps as well as any, as I have the more cause to complain of it but there is nothing new to be said of a patent absurdity—meanwhile we did not think it safe to alter it under the pressure of your hostility."
Alcibiades' Speech to the Spartans, as recorded by Thucydides (VI, 89) Thucydides disclaims verbal accuracy

Alcibiades served as a military adviser to Sparta and helped the Spartans secure several crucial successes. He advised them to build a permanent fort at Decelea, just over ten miles (16 km) from Athens and within sight of the city. [55] By doing this, the Spartans cut the Athenians off entirely from their homes and crops and the silver mines of Sunium. [54] This was part of Alcibiades's plan to renew the war with Athens in Attica. The move was devastating to Athens and forced the citizens to live within the long walls of the city year round, making them entirely dependent on their seaborne trade for food. Seeing Athens thus beleaguered on a second front, members of the Delian League began to contemplate revolt. In the wake of Athens's disastrous defeat in Sicily, Alcibiades sailed to Ionia with a Spartan fleet and succeeded in persuading several critical cities to revolt. [56] [57]

In spite of these valuable contributions to the Spartan cause, Alcibiades fell out of favor with the Spartan government at around this time, ruled by Agis II. [58] Leotychides, the son born by Agis's wife Timaea, Queen of Sparta, shortly after this, was believed by many to be Alcibiades's son. [59] [60] An alternate account asserts that Alcibiades took advantage of King Agis' absence with the Spartan Army in Attica and seduced his wife, Timonassa. [25] : 207

Alcibiades's influence was further reduced after the retirement of Endius, the ephor who was on good terms with him. [61] It is alleged that Astyochus, a Spartan Admiral, was sent orders to kill him, but Alcibiades received warning of this order and defected to the Persian satrap Tissaphernes, who had been supporting the Peloponnesian forces financially in 412 BC. [62]

Defection to Achaemenid Empire in Asia Minor Edit

On his arrival in the local Persian court, Alcibiades won the trust of the powerful satrap and made several policy suggestions which were well received. According to Thucydides, Alcibiades immediately began to do all he could with Tissaphernes to injure the Peloponnesian cause. At his urging, the satrap reduced the payments he was making to the Peloponnesian fleet and began delivering them irregularly. [62] Alcibiades next advised Tissaphernes to bribe the Generals of the cities to gain valuable intelligence on their activities. Lastly, and most importantly, he told the satrap to be in no hurry to bring the Persian fleet into the conflict, as the longer the war dragged out the more exhausted the combatants would become. This would allow the Persians to more easily conquer the region in the aftermath of the fighting. Alcibiades tried to convince the satrap that it was in Persia's interest to wear both Athens and Sparta out at first, "and after docking the Athenian power as much as he could, forthwith to rid the country of the Peloponnesians". [63]

Although Alcibiades's advice benefited the Persians, it was merely a means to an end Thucydides tells us that his real motive was to use his alleged influence with the Persians to effect his restoration to Athens. [64] Alcibiades was one of several Greek aristocrats who took refuge in the Achaemenid Empire following reversals at home, other famous ones being Themistocles, Demaratos or Gongylos. [65] According to Thucydides (Thuc.8.47), Alcibiades also advised the Achaemenid king (Darius II), and therefore he may also have traveled to Susa or Babylonia to encounter him. [65] [64]

Negotiations with the Athenian oligarchs Edit

Alcibiades seemed to assume that the "radical democracy" would never agree to his recall to Athens. [66] Therefore, he exchanged messages with the Athenian leaders at Samos and suggested that if they could install an oligarchy friendly to him he would return to Athens and bring with him Persian money and possibly the Persian fleet of 147 triremes. [67] Alcibiades set about winning over the most influential military officers, and achieved his goal by offering them a threefold plan: the Athenian constitution was to be changed, the recall of Alcibiades was to be voted, and Alcibiades was to win over Tissaphernes and the King of Persia to the Athenian side. Most of the officers in the Athenian fleet accepted the plan and welcomed the prospect of a narrower constitution, which would allow them a greater share in determining policy. According to Thucydides, only one of the Athenian Generals at Samos, Phrynichus, opposed the plan and argued that Alcibiades cared no more for the proposed oligarchy than for the traditional democracy. [68] The involvement in the plot of another General, Thrasybulus, remains unclear. [f]

These officers of the Athenian fleet formed a group of conspirators, but were met with opposition from the majority of the soldiers and sailors these were eventually calmed down "by the advantageous prospect of the pay from the king". [71] The members of the group assembled and prepared to send Pisander, one of their number, on an embassy to Athens to treat for the restoration of Alcibiades and the abolition of democracy in the city, and thus to make Tissaphernes the friend of the Athenians. [72]

Phrynichus, fearing that Alcibiades if restored would avenge himself upon him for his opposition, sent a secret letter to the Spartan Admiral, Astyochus, to tell him that Alcibiades was ruining their cause by making Tissaphernes the friend of the Athenians, and containing an express revelation of the rest of the intrigue. Astyochus went up to Alcibiades and Tissaphernes at Magnesia and communicated to them Phrynichus's letter. Alcibiades responded in kind, sending to the authorities at Samos a letter against Phrynichus, stating what he had done, and requiring that he should be put to death. [73] Phrynichus in desperation wrote again to Astyochus, offering him a chance to destroy the Athenian fleet at Samos. This also Astyochus revealed to Alcibiades who informed the officers at Samos that they had been betrayed by Phrynichus. Alcibiades however gained no credit, because Phrynichus had anticipated Alcibiades's letter and, before the accusations could arrive, told the army that he had received information of an enemy plan to attack the camp and that they should fortify Samos as quickly as possible. [74]

Despite these events, Pisander and the other envoys of the conspirators arrived at Athens and made a speech before the people. Pisander won the argument, putting Alcibiades and his promises at the center. The Ecclesia deposed Phrynichus and elected Pisander and ten other envoys to negotiate with Tissaphernes and Alcibiades. [75]

At this point, Alcibiades's scheme encountered a great obstacle. Tissaphernes would not make an agreement on any terms, wanting to follow his policy of neutrality. [76] As Kagan points out, Tissaphernes was a prudent leader and had recognized the advantages of wearing each side out without direct Persian involvement. [77] Alcibiades realized this and, by presenting the Athenians with stiffer and stiffer demands on Tissaphernes's behalf, attempted to convince them that he had persuaded Tissaphernes to support them, but that they had not conceded enough to him. Although the envoys were angered at the audacity of the Persian demands, they nevertheless departed with the impression that Alcibiades could have brought about an agreement among the powers if he had chosen to do so. [78] This fiasco at the court of Tissaphernes, however, put an end to the negotiations between the conspirators and Alcibiades. [76] The group was convinced that Alcibiades could not deliver his side of the bargain without demanding exorbitantly high concessions of them and they accordingly abandoned their plans to restore him to Athens. [78]

Reinstatement as an Athenian General Edit

In spite of the failure of the negotiations, the conspirators succeeded in overthrowing the democracy and imposing the oligarchic government of the Four Hundred, among the leaders of which were Phrynichus and Pisander. At Samos, however, a similar coup instigated by the conspirators did not go forward so smoothly. Samian democrats learned of the conspiracy and notified four prominent Athenians: the generals Leon and Diomedon, the trierarch Thrasybulus, and Thrasyllus, at that time a hoplite in the ranks. With the support of these men and the Athenian soldiers in general, the Samian democrats were able to defeat the 300 Samian oligarchs who attempted to seize power there. [79] Further, the Athenian troops at Samos formed themselves into a political assembly, deposed their generals, and elected new ones, including Thrasybulus and Thrasyllus. The army, stating that they had not revolted from the city but that the city had revolted from them, resolved to stand by the democracy while continuing to prosecute the war against Sparta. [80]

After a time, Thrasybulus persuaded the assembled troops to vote Alcibiades's recall, a policy that he had supported since before the coup. Then he sailed to retrieve Alcibiades and returned with him to Samos. The aim of this policy was to win away Persian support from the Spartans, as it was still believed that Alcibiades had great influence with Tissaphernes. [81] Plutarch claims that the army sent for Alcibiades so as to use his help in putting down the tyrants in Athens. [82] Kagan argues that this reinstatement was a disappointment to Alcibiades, who had hoped for a glorious return to Athens itself but found himself only restored to the rebellious fleet, where the immunity from prosecution he had been granted "protected him for the time being but not from a reckoning in the future" furthermore, the recall, which Alcibiades had hoped to bring about through his own prestige and perceived influence, was achieved through the patronage of Thrasybulus. [83]

At his first speech to the assembled troops, Alcibiades complained bitterly about the circumstances of his exile, but the largest part of the speech consisted of boasting about his influence with Tissaphernes. The primary motives of his speech were to make the oligarchs at Athens afraid of him and to increase his credit with the army at Samos. Upon hearing his speech the troops immediately elected him General alongside Thrasybulus and the others. In fact, he roused them so much that they proposed to sail at once for Piraeus and attack the oligarchs in Athens. [84] It was primarily Alcibiades, along with Thrasybulus, who calmed the people and showed them the folly of this proposal, which would have sparked civil war and led to the immediate defeat of Athens. [82] Shortly after Alcibiades's reinstatement as an Athenian general, the government of the Four Hundred was overthrown and replaced by a broader oligarchy, which would eventually give way to democracy. [85]

Presently Alcibiades sailed to Tissaphernes with a detachment of ships. According to Plutarch, the supposed purpose of this mission was to stop the Persian fleet from coming to the aid of the Peloponnesians. [82] Thucydides is in agreement with Plutarch that the Persian fleet was at Aspendus and that Alcibiades told the troops he would bring the fleet to their side or prevent it from coming at all, but Thucydides further speculates that the real reason was to flaunt his new position to Tissaphernes and try to gain some real influence over him. [84] According to the historian, Alcibiades had long known that Tissaphernes never meant to bring the fleet at all. [86]

Battles of Abydos and Cyzicus Edit

Alcibiades was recalled by the "intermediate regime" of The Five Thousand, the government which succeeded the Four Hundred in 411, but it is most likely that he waited until 407 BC to actually return to the city. [87] Plutarch tells us that, although his recall had already been passed on motion of Critias, a political ally of his, Alcibiades was resolved to come back with glory. [88] While this was certainly his goal, it was again a means to an end, that end being to avoid prosecution upon his return to Athens.

The next significant part he would play in the war would occur at the Battle of Abydos. Alcibiades had remained behind at Samos with a small force while Thrasybulus and Thrasyllus led the greater part of the fleet to the Hellespont. During this period, Alcibiades succeeded in raising money from Caria and the neighboring area, with which he was able to pay the rowers and gain their favor. [89] After the Athenian victory at Cynossema, both fleets summoned all their ships from around the Aegean to join them for what might be a decisive next engagement. While Alcibiades was still en route, the two fleets clashed at Abydos, where the Peloponnesians had set up their main naval base. The battle was evenly matched, and raged for a long time, but the balance tipped towards the Athenians when Alcibiades sailed into the Hellespont with eighteen triremes. [88] [90] The Persian satrap Pharnabazus, who had replaced Tissaphernes as the sponsor of the Peloponnesian fleet, moved his land army to the shore to defend the ships and sailors who had beached their ships. Only the support of the Persian land army and the coming of night saved the Peloponnesian fleet from complete destruction. [91]

Shortly after the battle, Tissaphernes had arrived in the Hellespont and Alcibiades left the fleet at Sestos to meet him, bringing gifts and hoping once again to try to win over the Persian governor. Evidently Alcibiades had gravely misjudged his standing with the satrap, and he was arrested on arrival. [88] Within a month he would escape and resume command. [92] It was now obvious, however, that he had no influence with the Persians from now on his authority would depend on what he actually could accomplish rather than on what he promised to do. [93]

After an interlude of several months in which the Peloponnesians constructed new ships and the Athenians besieged cities and raised money throughout the Aegean, the next major sea battle took place the spring of 410 BC at Cyzicus. Alcibiades had been forced to flee from Sestos to Cardia to protect his small fleet from the rebuilt Peloponnesian navy, but as soon as the Athenian fleet was reunited there its commanders led it to Cyzicus, where the Athenians had intelligence indicating that Pharnabazus and Mindarus, the Peloponnesian fleet commander, were together plotting their next move. Concealed by storm and darkness, the combined Athenian force reached the vicinity without being spotted by the Peloponnesians. [92] Here the Athenians devised a plot to draw the enemy into battle. According to Diodorus Siculus, Alcibiades advanced with a small squadron in order to draw the Spartans out to battle, and, after he successfully deceived Mindarus with this ploy, the squadrons of Thrasybulus and Theramenes came to join him, cutting off the Spartans' retreat. [g] [96]

The Spartan fleet suffered losses in the flight and reached the shore with the Athenians in close pursuit. Alcibiades's troops, leading the Athenian pursuit, landed and attempted to pull the Spartan ships back out to sea. The Peloponnesians fought to prevent their ships from being towed away, and Pharnabazus's troops came up to support them. [97] Thrasybulus landed his own force to temporarily relieve pressure on Alcibiades, and meanwhile ordered Theramenes to join up with Athenian land forces nearby and bring them to reinforce the sailors and marines on the beach. The Spartans and Persians, overwhelmed by the arrival of multiple forces from several directions, were defeated and driven off, and the Athenians captured all the Spartan ships which were not destroyed. [98] [99] A letter dispatched to Sparta by Hippocrates, vice-admiral under Mindarus, was intercepted and taken to Athens it ran as follows: "The ships are lost. Mindarus is dead. The men are starving. We know not what to do". [97] A short time later Sparta petitioned for peace, but their appeals were ultimately rejected by the Athenians. [100]

Further military successes Edit

After their victory, Alcibiades and Thrasybulus began the siege of Chalcedon in 409 BC with about 190 ships. [101] Although unable to attain a decisive victory or induce the city to surrender, Alcibiades was able to win a small tactical land battle outside of the city gates and Theramenes concluded an agreement with the Chalcedonians. [102] Afterwards they concluded a temporary alliance with Pharnabazus which secured some much needed immediate cash for the army, but despite this Alcibiades was still forced to depart in search for more booty to pay the soldiers and oarsmen of the fleet.

In pursuit of these funds he traveled to the Thracian Chersonese and attacked Selymbria. He plotted with a pro-Athenian party within the city and offered the Selymbrians reasonable terms and imposed strict discipline to see that they were observed. He did their city no injury whatsoever, but merely took a sum of money from it, set a garrison in it and left. [103] Epigraphical evidence indicates the Selymbrians surrendered hostages until the treaty was ratified in Athens. [2] His performance is judged as skillful by historians, since it saved time, resources, and lives and still fully achieved his goal. [2] [104]

From here Alcibiades joined in the siege of Byzantium along with Theramenes and Thrasyllus. A portion of the citizens of the city, demoralized and hungry, decided to surrender the city to Alcibiades for similar terms as the Selymbrians had received. On the designated night the defenders left their posts, and the Athenians attacked the Peloponnesian garrison in the city and their boats in the harbor. The portion of the citizenry that remained loyal to the Peloponnesians fought so savagely that Alcibiades issued a statement in the midst of the fighting which guaranteed their safety and this persuaded the remaining citizens to turn against the Peloponnesian garrison, which was nearly totally destroyed. [102]

Return to Athens Edit

It was in the aftermath of these successes that Alcibiades resolved to finally return to Athens in the spring of 407 BC. Even in the wake of his recent victories, Alcibiades was exceedingly careful in his return, mindful of the changes in government, the charges still technically hanging over him, and the great injury he had done to Athens. Thus Alcibiades, instead of going straight home, first went to Samos to pick up 20 ships and proceeded with them to the Ceramic Gulf where he collected 100 talents. He finally sailed to Gytheion to make inquiries, partly about the reported preparations of the Spartans there, and partly about the feelings in Athens about his return. [106] His inquiries assured him that the city was kindly disposed towards him and that his closest friends urged him to return. [107]

Therefore, he finally sailed into Piraeus where the crowd had gathered, desiring to see the famous Alcibiades. [108] He entered the harbor full of fear until he saw his cousin and others of his friends and acquaintance, who invited him to land. Upon arriving on shore he was greeted with a hero's welcome. [109] Nevertheless, some saw an evil omen in the fact that he had returned to Athens on the very day when the ceremony of the Plynteria (the feast where the old statue of Athena would get cleansed) was being celebrated. [110] This was regarded as the unluckiest day of the year to undertake anything of importance. His enemies took note of this and kept it in mind for a future occasion. [111]

All the criminal proceedings against him were canceled and the charges of blasphemy were officially withdrawn. Alcibiades was able to assert his piety and to raise Athenian morale by leading the solemn procession to Eleusis (for the celebration of the Eleusinian Mysteries) by land for the first time since the Spartans had occupied Decelea. [112] The procession had been replaced by a journey by sea, but this year Alcibiades used a detachment of soldiers to escort the traditional procession. [113] His property was restored and the ecclesia elected him supreme commander of land and sea (strategos autokrator). [114]

Defeat at Notium Edit

In 406 BC Alcibiades set out from Athens with 1,500 hoplites and a hundred ships. He failed to take Andros and then he went on to Samos. Later he moved to Notium, closer to the enemy at Ephesus. [115] In the meanwhile Tissaphernes had been replaced by Cyrus the Younger (son of Darius II of Persia) who decided to financially support the Peloponnesians. This new revenue started to attract Athenian deserters to the Spartan navy. Additionally the Spartans had replaced Mindarus with Lysander, a very capable admiral. These factors caused the rapid growth of the Peloponnesian fleet at the expense of the Athenian. In search of funds and needing to force another decisive battle, Alcibiades left Notium and sailed to help Thrasybulus in the siege of Phocaea. [116] Alcibiades was aware the Spartan fleet was nearby, so he left nearly eighty ships to watch them under the command of his personal helmsman Antiochus, who was given express orders not to attack. Antiochus disobeyed this single order and endeavored to draw Lysander into a fight by imitating the tactics used at Cyzicus. The situation at Notium, however, was radically different from that at Cyzicus the Athenians possessed no element of surprise, and Lysander had been well informed about their fleet by deserters. [117] Antiochus's ship was sunk, and he was killed by a sudden Spartan attack the remaining ships of the decoy force were then chased headlong back toward Notium, where the main Athenian force was caught unprepared by the sudden arrival of the whole Spartan fleet. In the ensuing fighting, Lysander gained an entire victory. Alcibiades soon returned and desperately tried to undo the defeat at Notium by scoring another victory, but Lysander could not be compelled to attack the fleet again. [118]

Responsibility for the defeat ultimately fell on Alcibiades, and his enemies used the opportunity to attack him and have him removed from command, although some modern scholars believe that Alcibiades was unfairly blamed for Antiochus's mistake. [119] Diodorus reports that, in addition to his mistake at Notium, Alcibiades was discharged on account of false accusations brought against him by his enemies. [98] According to Anthony Andrewes, professor of ancient history, the extravagant hopes that his successes of the previous summer had created were a decisive element in his downfall. [115] Consequently, Alcibiades condemned himself to exile. [98] Never again returning to Athens, he sailed north to the castles in the Thracian Chersonese, which he had secured during his time in the Hellespont. The implications of the defeat were severe for Athens. Although the defeat had been minor, it occasioned the removal of not only Alcibiades but also his allies like Thrasybulus, Theramenes and Critias. [114] These were likely the most capable commanders Athens had at the time, and their removal would help lead to the Athenian surrender only two years later, after their complete defeat at Aegospotami. [120]

Death Edit

With one exception, Alcibiades's role in the war ended with his command. Prior to the Battle of Aegospotami, in the last attested fact of his career, [121] Alcibiades recognized that the Athenians were anchored in a tactically disadvantageous spot and advised them to move to Sestus where they could benefit from a harbor and a city. [122] Diodorus, however, does not mention this advice, arguing instead that Alcibiades offered the Generals Thracian aid in exchange for a share in the command. [h] In any case, the Generals of the Athenians, "considering that in case of defeat the blame would attach to them and that in case of success all men would attribute it to Alcibiades", asked him to leave and not come near the camp ever again. [122] [125] Days later the fleet would be annihilated by Lysander.

After the Battle of Aegospotami, Alcibiades crossed the Hellespont and took refuge in Hellespontine Phrygia, with the object of securing the aid of the Achaemenid King Artaxerxes against Sparta. [127] Alcibiades was one of several Greek aristocrats who took refuge in the Achaemenid Empire following reversals at home, other famous ones being Themistocles, Hippias, Demaratos and Gongylos. [65] In general, those were generously welcomed by the Achaemenid kings, and received land grants to support them, and ruled in various cities of Asia Minor. [65]

Much about Alcibiades's death is now uncertain, as there are conflicting accounts. According to the oldest of these, the Spartans and specifically Lysander were responsible. [128] Though many of his details cannot be independently corroborated, Plutarch's version is this: Lysander sent an envoy to Pharnabazus who then dispatched his brother to Phrygia where Alcibiades was living with his mistress, Timandra. [i]

In 404 BC, as he was about to set out for the Persian court, his residence was surrounded and set on fire. Seeing no chance of escape he rushed out on his assassins, dagger in hand, and was killed by a shower of arrows. [129] According to Aristotle, the site of Alcibiades's death was Elaphus, a mountain in Phrygia. [132]

Political career Edit

In ancient Greece, Alcibiades was a polarizing figure. According to Thucydides, Alcibiades, being "exceedingly ambitious", proposed the expedition in Sicily in order "to gain in wealth and reputation by means of his successes". Alcibiades is not held responsible by Thucydides for the destruction of Athens, since "his habits gave offence to every one, and caused the Athenians to commit affairs to other hands, and thus before long to ruin the city". [133] Plutarch regards him as "the least scrupulous and most entirely careless of human beings". [134] On the other hand, Diodorus argues that he was "in spirit brilliant and intent upon great enterprises". [135] Sharon Press of Brown University points out that Xenophon emphasizes Alcibiades's service to the state, rather than the harm he was charged with causing it. [136] [137] Demosthenes defends Alcibiades's achievements, saying that he had taken arms in the cause of democracy, displaying his patriotism, not by gifts of money or by speeches, but by personal service. [138] For Demosthenes and other orators, Alcibiades epitomized the figure of the great man during the glorious days of the Athenian democracy and became a rhetorical symbol. [139] One of Isocrates' speeches, delivered by Alcibiades the Younger, argues that the statesman deserved the Athenians' gratitude for the service he had given them. [140] Lysias, on the other hand, argued in one of his orations that the Athenians should regard Alcibiades as an enemy because of the general tenor of his life, as "he repays with injury the open assistance of any of his friends". [141] [142] In the Constitution of the Athenians, Aristotle does not include Alcibiades in the list of the best Athenian politicians, but in Posterior Analytics he argues that traits of a proud man like Alcibiades are "equanimity amid the vicissitudes of life and impatience of dishonor". [143] [144] Alcibiades excited in his contemporaries a fear for the safety of the political order. [145] Therefore, Andocides said of him that "instead of holding that he ought himself to conform with the laws of the state, he expects you to conform with his own way of life". [146] Central to the depiction of the Athenian statesman is Cornelius Nepos' famous phrase that Alcibiades "surpassed all the Athenians in grandeur and magnificence of living". [147]

Even today, Alcibiades divides scholars. For Malcolm F. McGregor, former head of the Department of Classics in the University of British Columbia, Alcibiades was rather a shrewd gambler than a mere opportunist. [148] Evangelos P. Fotiadis, a prominent Greek philologist, asserts that Alcibiades was "a first class diplomat" and had "huge skills". Nevertheless, his spiritual powers were not counterbalanced with his magnificent mind and he had the hard luck to lead a people susceptible to demagoguery. [8] K. Paparrigopoulos, a major modern Greek historian, underlines his "spiritual virtues" and compares him with Themistocles, but he then asserts that all these gifts created a "traitor, an audacious and impious man". [149] Walter Ellis believes that his actions were outrageous, but they were performed with panache. [150] For his part, David Gribble argues that Alcibiades's actions against his city were misunderstood and believes that "the tension which led to Alcibiades's split with the city was between purely personal and civic values". [151] Russell Meiggs, a British ancient historian, asserts that the Athenian statesman was absolutely unscrupulous despite his great charm and brilliant abilities. According to Meiggs his actions were dictated by selfish motives and his feud with Cleon and his successors undermined Athens. The same scholar underscores the fact that "his example of restless and undisciplined ambition strengthened the charge brought against Socrates". [58] Even more critically, Athanasios G. Platias and Constantinos Koliopoulos, professors of strategic studies and international politics, state that Alcibiades's own arguments "should be sufficient to do away with the notion that Alcibiades was a great statesman, as some people still believe". [152] Writing from a different perspective, psychologist Anna C. Salter cites Alcibiades as exhibiting "all the classic features of psychopathy." [153] A similar assessment is made by Hervey Cleckley at the end of chapter 5 in his The Mask of Sanity. [154]

Military achievements Edit

Despite his critical comments, Thucydides admits in a short digression that "publicly his conduct of the war was as good as could be desired". [133] Diodorus and Demosthenes regard him as a great general. [135] [138] According to Fotiadis, Alcibiades was an invincible general and, wherever he went, victory followed him had he led the army in Sicily, the Athenians would have avoided disaster and, had his countrymen followed his advice at Aegospotami, Lysander would have lost and Athens would have ruled Greece. [8] On the other hand, Paparrigopoulos believes that the Sicilian Expedition, prompted by Alcibiades, was a strategic mistake. [155] In agreement with Paparrigopoulos, Platias and Koliopoulos underscore the fact that the Sicilian expedition was a strategic blunder of the first magnitude, resulting from a "frivolous attitude and an unbelievable underestimation of the enemy". [38] For his part, Angelos Vlachos, a Greek Academician, underlines the constant interest of Athens for Sicily from the beginning of the war. [j] According to Vlachos, the expedition had nothing of the extravagant or adventurous and constituted a rational strategic decision based on traditional Athenian aspirations. [158] Vlachos asserts that Alcibiades had already conceived a broader plan: the conquest of the whole West. [159] He intended to conquer Carthage and Libya, then to attack Italy and, after winning these, to seize Italy and Peloponnesus. [157] The initial decision of the ecclesia provided however for a reasonable military force, which later became unreasonably large and costly because of Nicias's demands. [159] Kagan criticizes Alcibiades for failing to recognize that the large size of the Athenian expedition undermined the diplomatic scheme on which his strategy rested. [160]

Kagan believes that while Alcibiades was a commander of considerable ability, he was no military genius, and his confidence and ambitions went far beyond his skills. He thus was capable of important errors and serious miscalculations. Kagan argues that at Notium, Alcibiades committed a serious error in leaving the fleet in the hands of an inexperienced officer, and that most of the credit for the brilliant victory at Cyzicus must be assigned to Thrasybulus. [160] In this judgement, Kagan agrees with Cornelius Nepos, who said that the Athenians' extravagant opinion of Alcibiades's abilities and valor was his chief misfortune. [161]

Press argues that "though Alcibiades can be considered a good General on the basis of his performance in the Hellespont, he would not be considered so on the basis of his performance in Sicily", but "the strengths of Alcibiades's performance as a General outweigh his faults". [136]

Skill in oratory Edit

Plutarch asserts that "Alcibiades was a most able speaker in addition to his other gifts", while Theophrastus argues that Alcibiades was the most capable of discovering and understanding what was required in a given case. Nevertheless, he would often stumble in the midst of his speech, but then he would resume and proceed with all the caution in the world. [162] Even the lisp he had, which was noticed by Aristophanes, made his talk persuasive and full of charm. [163] [164] Eupolis says that he was "prince of talkers, but in speaking most incapable" [33] which is to say, more eloquent in his private discourses than when orating before the ecclesia. For his part, Demosthenes underscores the fact that Alcibiades was regarded as "the ablest speaker of the day". [138] Paparrigopoulos does not accept Demosthenes's opinion, but acknowledges that the Athenian statesman could sufficiently support his case. [149] Kagan acknowledges his rhetorical power, whilst Thomas Habinek, professor of Classics at the University of Southern California, believes that the orator Alcibiades seemed to be whatever his audience needed on any given occasion. [165] [166] According to Habinek, in the field of oratory, the people responded to Alcibiades's affection with affection of their own. Therefore, the orator was "the institution of the city talking to—and loving—itself". [166] According to Aristophanes, Athens "yearns for him, and hates him too, but wants him back". [167]

Alcibiades has not been spared by ancient comedy and stories attest to an epic confrontation between Alcibiades and Eupolis resembling that between Aristophanes and Cleon. [139] He also appears as a character in several Socratic dialogues (Symposium, Protagoras, Alcibiades I and II, as well as the eponymous dialogues by Aeschines Socraticus and Antisthenes). Purportedly based on his own personal experience, Antisthenes described Alcibiades's extraordinary physical strength, courage, and beauty, saying, "If Achilles did not look like this, he was not really handsome." [168] In his trial, Socrates must rebut the attempt to hold him guilty for the crimes of his former students, including Alcibiades. [169] Hence, he declares in Apology: "I have never been anyone's teacher". [170]

Alcibiades has been depicted regularly in art, both in Medieval and Renaissance works, and in several significant works of modern literature as well. [171] He has been the main character in historical novels of authors like Anna Bowman Dodd, Gertrude Atherton, Rosemary Sutcliff, Daniel Chavarria, Steven Pressfield and Peter Green. [172]


Battle of Sphacteria (425 BC)

The battle of Sphacteria (425 BC) was the second part of a two-part battle which ended with the surrender of a force of Spartan hoplites (Great Peloponnesian War). The chain of events that led to this almost unprecedented disaster began when an Athenian force under the command of Demosthenes landed on the rocky headland of Pylos, in the south-west of the Peloponnese and fortified their position. The Peloponnesian army under King Agis abandoned their short invasion of Attica and returned to the Peloponnese, while the forces already at Sparta moved west to deal with the new threat.

For a brief period Demosthenes was in serious trouble. The Spartans summoned their fleet to Pylos, and he found himself besieged by land and sea. The Athenian position was on a headland at one end of the Bay of Pylos. The island of Sphacteria ran across the mouth of the bay, and was occupied by the Spartans. The Spartan fleet moved into the bay, trapping the Athenians and prevented any supplies from reaching them. In the resulting battle of Pylos the Athenians managed to hold off a two-pronged Spartan assault, but they were really saved by the arrival of an Athenian fleet. This fleet inflicted a heavy defeat on the Spartan fleet inside the bay, in the process lifting the blockade of Pylos.

The tables were now turned on the Spartans. A force of 420 Spartan hoplites, under the command of Epitades son of Molobrus was trapped on Sphacteria. The Spartans responded by sending senior members of their government to Pylos to examine situation. When it became clear that they couldn't hope to get supplies onto the island or rescue the hoplites they asked the Athenians for an armistice. The biggest weakness in the Spartan system was the shortage of full citizens, and they could hardly afford to lose 420 full Spartans. This was reflected in the terms they agreed with the Athenians. Every warship that had taken part in the earlier fighting and every warship in Laconia was to be handed over to the Athenians for the duration of the armistice. The Spartans were to stop all attacks on Pylos, while the Athenians stopped attacking Sphacteria, and allowed a fixed amount of food onto the island. The armistice would stay in place while Spartan representatives went to Athens to offer peace terms.

The peace negotiations and their aftermath do not reflect well on the Athenians. They demanded the return of lands lost at the end of the First Peloponnesian War, and when the negotiations broke down refused to honour the terms of the armistice and kept the Spartan warships. The armistice lasted twenty days.

After the failure of the negotiations the fighting resumed. The Spartans continued their attacks on the Athenians on Pylos, while the Athenians maintained the naval blockade of Sphacteria. Both sides were effectively under siege, but at first it was the Spartans who put the most effort into getting supplies to their troops. Volunteers were asked to try and get supplies onto the island, with a cash reward for free men and freedom as the reward for helots. Any boats used in the operation were valued beforehand, so it didn&rsquot matter if they were lost. Some men waited for the right weather and effectively rammed the island at full speed, damaging their boats but winning the reward. Others swam in under water, towing supplies protected by skins.

As the siege dragged on the Athenian people became concerned that the Spartans would escape. The politician Cleon, who had played a major role in convincing the people to reject the Spartan peace offer, became increasingly unpopular. In an attempt to restore his popularity he tried to blame the general, Nicias son of Niceratus, for the failures, claiming that a true leader would have easily captured the island by now. This badly backfired, for the Athenian people began to ask why Cleon wasn't leading the army if it was that simple. Nicias added to his problems by giving him permission to take any troops that he required and take command of the siege. Eventually Cleon was backed into a corner, and had no choice other than to go to Sphacteria. He now raised the stakes once again by announcing that he would take the island in twenty days, without using any fresh Athenian troops.

Cleon timed his arrival at Sphacteria perfectly. Demosthenes had been unwilling to risk a landing on the island because it was covered in thick woodland, with no paths, and he believed that this would give the Spartans too big an advantage. Just before Cleon arrived one of the Spartans accidently set the woods on fire, and most of the trees burnt down. The fire also revealed a number of landing points, and that there were more Spartans on the island than previously believed, making them an ever bigger prize.

The two Athenian generals began by sending a herald to the island to ask the Spartans to surrender on generous terms. When this offer was rejected, they waited for a day and then launched a surprise attack on the island. The Spartans were divided into three camps. The main camp, under their commander Epitades, was in the centre of the island. This was both the most level and best provided with water. A guard of thirty hoplites was at the end of the island the Athenians chose to attack (probably the southern end), and another small detachment was posted at the opposite end, facing the headland of Pylos. This was the rockiest end of the island, and was topped with an old fort that the Spartans hoped to use as a final refuge. This attack came on the seventy-second day after the naval battle that had trapped the Spartans.

The Athenians caught the Spartans out by loading their 800 hoplites onto the ships while it was still dark. The ships then put out to sea as if they were about to mount their normal daily patrols, but instead landed on the island. The first Spartan post was overwhelmed. This allowed Demosthenes to bring over the rest of his army - 800 archers, at least 800 peltasts, the Allied contingents and the crews of the seventy Athenian warships. This army was then divided into groups of around 200, and these groups were posted on high ground all around the main Spartan position. The Greeks are often accused of being unimaginative in warfare, relying entirely on simple clashes between hoplites, but here we see Demosthenes using a different tactic. The Spartans would find themselves in a trap. If they attempted to attack any part of the Athenian line they would be exposed to attack from the rear, while the lightly armed Athenian troops would be able to retreat from the heavily armoured Spartan hoplites.

When Epitades realised that the Athenians had landed on the island he formed up his men and moved to attack the Athenian hoplites, expected the standard clash between two lines of similar troops. Instead the Spartans found themselves being harried from both flanks by the bowmen, peltasts and stone throwers. The Athenian hoplites refused to come forward and fight, so the Spartans were denied their main target. They were sometimes able to close up with the light troops, but not to crush them. Eventually they were forced to retreat back up the island to the fort. The Athenians followed, and launched a series of frontal assaults on the fort, but this time the advantages were with the Spartans, and these attacks failed to push the Spartans out of their final defensive lines before the fort itself.

The stalemate was broken by the commander of the Messinian contingent. He asked Cleon and Demosthenes to give him some archers and light troops. He then picked his way around the rocky coastline of the island, until he was in position on some high ground behind the fort. When these troops appeared behind them the Spartans abandoned their outer lines and pulled back.

At this point Cleon and Demosthenes called a halt to the fighting, and once again sent a herald to offer surrender terms. By now the Spartans had lost Epitades, who had been killed, while their second in command, Hippagretas was badly wounded and believed falsely to be dead. This left the third in command, Styphon son of Pharax, in charge. According to Thucydides most of the Spartans lowered their shields and made it clear that they wanted to surrender when they first heard the heralds, so Styphon had no choice other than to enter into surrender negotiations. After consulting with the Spartans on the mainland, who have him no useful advice ('make your own decision about yourselves, so long as you do nothing dishonourable'), Styphon decided to surrender.

The Athenians had captured a very valuable prize. Of the 440 hoplites who had been trapped on the island, 292 were captured and taken to Athens. Of these 120 were full Spartans, a sizable proportion of a very small group. The surrender of the Spartans caused shockwaves across the Greek world. Spartans were not expected to surrender, but to fight to the death, regardless of the odds against them. The surrender also caused great despondency in Sparta, and triggered a series of peace offers. The prisoners were still a major factor four years later, when the Peace of Nicias (421 BC) did actually end the war for a short period. One of the clauses of the peace treaty saw the Athenians return all Spartans in prison in Athens or in any Athenian dominion.

Pylos and Sphacteria 425 BC, William Shepherd . Looks at one of the most significant Athenian victories of the Great Peloponnesian War, most notable for the unexpected surrender of a large number of full Spartiates. Covers the overall campaign, the Spartan attack on the Athenian camp on Pylos, the naval battle that isolated a force of Spartans on the island of Sphacteria and the amphibious assault that forced them to surrender. All supported by excellent photos of the local area, which really help set the scene [read full review]

Athenian Hoplite vs Spartan Hoplite, Peloponnesian War 431-404 BC, Murray Dahm. Looks at three clashes that involved Spartan and Athenian hoplites during the Great Peloponnesian War, including an unusual battle on an island at Sphacteria, a surprise attack by a daring Spartan commander at Amphipolis and a standard hoplite battle at Mantinea, three of the relatively few direct clashes between Spartan and Athenian land forces. Good accounts of these three battles, combined with a clear understanding of the failings on both sides. (Read Full Review)

Writing About Alcibiades

The life of Alcibiades was discussed by many ancient writers: Plutarch (45–120 CE) addressed his life in "Parallel Lives" in comparison with Coriolanus. Aristophanes (

448–386 BCE) made him a constant figure of ridicule under his own name and in subtle references in almost all of his surviving comedies.

Probably the best known is that of Plato (428/427 to 347 BCE), who featured Alcibiades in a dialogue with Socrates. When Socrates was accused of corrupting young men, Alcibiades was an example. Although not mentioned by name in "The Apology," Alcibiades does appear in "The Clouds," Aristophanes' satire of Socrates and his school.

The dialogue has been labeled a fake since the early 19th century when the German philosopher and biblical scholar Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768–1834) described it as "a few beautiful and genuinely Platonic passages floating sparsely scattered in a mass of inferior material." Later scholars such as British classicist Nicholas Denyer have defended the dialogue's authenticity, but the debate does continue in some circles.


33. It’s Under Control!

Three days after the Chernobyl accident in 1986, the Soviet government admitted that 32 people had died, but later criticized the Western reaction, saying that it was unnecessary and the radiation was under control. The Communist party officials secretly evacuated their families, while ordering everybody else to stay. The exact number of deaths is still unknown.

Pixabay

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mesopotamia and Agriculture

It is interesting to contemplate the following progression:

Irrigation → high production farming → cities.

This is the story of Mesopotamia, the first substantial farming culture on earth. Its agricultural productivity supported the population density required for urbanism.

Before the settlements at Sumer, irrigation was developed in the steppe areas of Mesopotamia between the rivers and the Zagros Mountains. But there were limitations to productivity, including the supply of water and the characteristics of the soil. Men, in their crude knowledge of farming, had to rely on natural processes which were unpredictable.

In Sumer, however, there were no limitations. The alluvial plain was rich and fertile, water from the rivers plentiful, and the soil was easy to work because it was free of stone. The Tigris River is 1,100 miles long, flowing from the Armenian Plateau to the Persian Gulf. With four major tributaries, it is subject to significant flooding each year. At Kut, for example, the river rises from four feet to twenty-six feet.

To grow barley, one needed 40-50 days of moist soil, which naturally presented itself when the river began to recede. The Mesopotamians used a scratch plow (Ard) to create furrows in the soil for planting. It was a crude implement, incapable of turning the soil, but turning the soil was unnecessary since the land renewed its nutrients with each seasonal flood.

To harness the river’s power irrigation canals were constructed to hold water and control distribution, further extending the growing season.

Large crop production density supported a high population density which set the stage for development of urban areas. These were not large cities, but they were the first cities, numbering 15-20,000 people. Sumeria created a new dynamic of human interaction, including social stratification, labor differentiation, and sophisticated political systems.


Contents

Rise to power ( 9493 – 9553 ) [ edit ]

Hippias, son of Peisistratus, had ruled Athens jointly with his brother, Hipparchus, from the death of Peisistratus in about 9474 . Following the assassination of Hipparchus in about 9487 , Hippias took on sole rule, and in response to the loss of his brother, became a worse leader who was increasingly disliked. Hippias exiled 700 of the Athenian noble families, amongst them Cleisthenes' family, the Alchmaeonids. Upon their exile, they went to Delphi, and Herodotus Δ] says they bribed the Pythia always to tell visiting Spartans that they should invade Attica and overthrow Hippias. That supposedly worked after a number of times, and Cleomenes led a Spartan force to overthrow Hippias, which succeeded, and instated an oligarchy. Cleisthenes disliked the Spartan rule, along with many other Athenians, and so made his own bid for power. The result was democracy in Athens, but considering Cleisthenes' motivation for using the people to gain power, as without their support, he would have been defeated,and so Athenian democracy may be tinted by the fact its creation served greatly the man who created it. The reforms of Cleisthenes replaced the traditional four Ionic "tribes" (phyle) with ten new ones, named after legendary heroes of Greece and having no class basis, which acted as electorates. Each tribe was in turn divided into three trittyes (one from the coast one from the city and one from the inland divisions), while each trittys had one or more demes, depending on their population, which became the basis of local government. The tribes each selected fifty members by lot for the Boule, the council that governed Athens on a day-to-day basis. The public opinion of voters could be influenced by the political satires written by the comic poets and performed in the city theaters. Ε] The Assembly or Ecclesia was open to all full citizens and was both a legislature and a supreme court, except in murder cases and religious matters, which became the only remaining functions of the Areopagus. Most offices were filled by lot, although the ten strategoi (generals) were elected.

The silver mines of Laurion contributed significantly to the development of Athens in the 96th century, when the Athenians learned to prospect, treat, and refine the ore and used the proceeds to build a massive fleet, at the instigation of Themistocles. Ζ]

In 9502 , Athens sent troops to aid the Ionian Greeks of Asia Minor, who were rebelling against the Persian Empire (see Ionian Revolt). That provoked two Persian invasions of Greece, both of which were repelled under the leadership of the soldier-statesmen Miltiades and Themistocles (see Persian Wars). In 9511 the Athenians, led by Miltiades, prevented the first invasion of the Persians, guided by king Darius I, at the Battle of Marathon. In 9521 the Persians returned under a new ruler, Xerxes I. The Hellenic League led by the Spartan King Leonidas led 7,000 men to hold the narrow passageway of Thermopylae against the 100,000–250,000 army of Xerxes, during which Leonidas and 300 other Spartan elites were killed. Simultaneously the Athenians led an indecisive naval battle off Artemisium. However, that delaying action was not enough to discourage the Persian advance, which soon marched through Boeotia, setting up Thebes as their base of operations, and entered southern Greece. That forced the Athenians to evacuate Athens, which was taken by the Persians, and seek the protection of their fleet. Subsequently, the Athenians and their allies, led by Themistocles, defeated the Persian navy at sea in the Battle of Salamis. Xerxes had built himself a throne on the coast in order to see the Greeks defeated. Instead, the Persians were routed. Sparta's hegemony was passing to Athens, and it was Athens that took the war to Asia Minor. The victories enabled it to bring most of the Aegean and many other parts of Greece together in the Delian League, an Athenian-dominated alliance.

Athenian hegemony ( 9553 – 9571 ) [ edit ]

Pericles – an Athenian general, politician and orator – distinguished himself above the other personalities of the era, men who excelled in politics, philosophy, architecture, sculpture, history and literature. He fostered arts and literature and gave to Athens a splendor which would never return throughout its history. He executed a large number of public works projects and improved the life of the citizens. Hence, he gave his name to the Athenian Golden Age. Silver mined in Laurium in southeastern Attica contributed greatly to the prosperity of this "Golden" Age of Athens.

During the time of the ascendancy of Ephialtes as leader of the democratic faction, Pericles was his deputy. When Ephialtes was assassinated by personal enemies, Pericles stepped in and was elected general, or strategos, in 9556 a post he held continuously until his death in 9572 , always by election of the Athenian Assembly. The Parthenon, a lavishly decorated temple to the goddess Athena, was constructed under the administration of Pericles. Η]

Peloponnesian War ( 9570 – 9597 ) [ edit ]

Resentment by other cities at the hegemony of Athens led to the Peloponnesian War in 9570 , which pitted Athens and her increasingly rebellious sea empire against a coalition of land-based states led by Sparta. The conflict marked the end of Athenian command of the sea. The war between Athens and the city-state Sparta ended with an Athenian defeat after Sparta started its own navy.

Athenian democracy was briefly overthrown by the coup of 9590, brought about because of its poor handling of the war, but it was quickly restored. The war ended with the complete defeat of Athens in 9597 . Since the defeat was largely blamed on democratic politicians such as Cleon and Cleophon, there was a brief reaction against democracy, aided by the Spartan army (the rule of the Thirty Tyrants). In 9598 , democracy was restored by Thrasybulus and an amnesty declared.

Corinthian War and the Second Athenian League ( 9606 – 9646 ) [ edit ]

Sparta's former allies soon turned against her due to her imperialist policies, and Athens's former enemies, Thebes and Corinth, became her allies. Argos, Thebes and Corinth, allied with Athens, fought against Sparta in the decisive Corinthian War of 9606 – 9614 . Opposition to Sparta enabled Athens to establish a Second Athenian League. Finally Thebes defeated Sparta in 9630 in the Battle of Leuctra. However, other Greek cities, including Athens, turned against Thebes, and its dominance was brought to an end at the Battle of Mantinea (9639) with the death of its leader, the military genius Epaminondas.

Athens under Macedon ( 9646 – 9679 ) [ edit ]

By mid century, however, the northern Greek kingdom of Macedon was becoming dominant in Athenian affairs. In 9663 the armies of Philip II defeated Athens at the Battle of Chaeronea, effectively limiting Athenian independence. During the winter of 9663 / 9664 Macedonia, Athens and other Greek states became part of the League of Corinth. Further, the conquests of his son, Alexander the Great, widened Greek horizons and made the traditional Greek city state obsolete. Antipater dissolved the Athenian government and established a plutocratic system in 9679 (see Lamian War and Demetrius Phalereus). Athens remained a wealthy city with a brilliant cultural life, but ceased to be an independent power.


Classical Greece - 5th Century BC - The Peloponnesian War

In 431 BC war broke out between Athens and Sparta and its allies. The war was not really a struggle between two city-states as it was a struggle between two coalitions, or leagues of city-states. These two leagues were the Delian League in which Athens was the leading member, and the Peloponnesian League, which was led by Sparta.

The Delian League grew out of the necessity of presenting a unified front of all Greek city-states against Persian aggression. In 481 BC, Greek city-states, including Sparta, met in the first of a series of "congresses" that strove to unify all the Greek city-states against the danger of another Persian invasion. This coalition of city-states formed in 481 BC became known as the "Hellenic League" and included Sparta. As noted above, the expected Persian invasion of Greece under King Xerxes occurred in September 481 BC when the Athenian navy defeated the Persian navy. The Persian land forces were delayed in 480 BC, by a much smaller force of 300 Spartans, 400 Thebans and 700 men from Boeotian Thespiae at the Battle of Thermopylae. The Persians finally left Greece in 479 BC following their defeat at Plataea.

The Battle of Plataea in 479 BC was the final battle of Xerxes' invasion of Greece. After the Battle of Plataea, the Persians never again tried to invade Greece. With the disappearance of this external threat, cracks appeared in the united front of the Hellenic League. In 477 BC, Athens became the recognised leader of a coalition of city-states that did not include Sparta. This coalition met and formalized their relationship at the holy city of Delos. Thus, the League took the name "Delian League." The official purpose of this new League was to liberate Greek cities still under Persian control. However, it became increasingly apparent that the Delian League was really a front for Athenian imperialism throughout the Aegean.

A competing coalition of Greek city-states centered around Sparta arose and became more important as the external Persian threat subsided. This coalition became known as the Peloponnesian League. However, unlike the Hellenic League and the Delian League, the Spartan League was not a response to any external threat — Persian or otherwise. The Spartan League was unabashedly an instrument of Spartan policy aimed at the security of Lacedaemon (the prefecture on the Peloponnese Peninsula in which Sparta was located) and Spartan dominance over the Peloponnese Peninsula. Sometimes the Spartan League is called the "Peloponnesian League." This term is ambiguous on two scores. The "Peloponnesian League" was not really a "league" at all. Nor was it really "Peloponnesian." There was no equality at all between the members as might be implied by the term "league." Furthermore, most of its members were not from the Peloponnese, but rather were located outside the Peloponnese Peninsula. Indeed, the terms "Spartan League" or "Peloponnesian League" are actually modern terms. Contemporaries actually used the term the "Lacedaemonians and their Allies" to describe the so-called league.

The Spartan League had its origins in Sparta's conflict with another city on the Peloponnese Peninsula--Argos. In the 7th century BC, Argos dominated the Peloponnese Peninsula. Even in the period of time after 600 BC, the Argives attempted to control the northeastern part of the Peloponnese Peninsula. The rise of Sparta in the 6th century, naturally, brought Sparta in conflict with Argos. However, with the conquest of the Peloponnesian city-state of Tegea in 550 BC and the defeat of the Argives 546 BC, the Spartan's control began to reach well beyond the borders of Lacedaemon.

As these two coalitions grew, their separate interests kept coming into conflict. Under the influence of King Archidamus II (who ruled Sparta from 476 BC through 427 BC), Sparta, in the late summer or early autumn of 446 BC, concluded the Thirty Years Peace with Athens. This treaty took effect the next winter in 445 BC Under the terms of this treaty, Greece was formally divided into two large power zones. Sparta and Athens agreed to stay within their own power zone and not to interfere in the other's power zone. Despite the Thirty Years Peace, it was clear that eventual war was inevitable. As noted above, at all times during its history down to 221 BC, Sparta was a "diarchy" with two kings ruling the city-state concurrently. One line of hereditary kings were from the Eurypontid Dynasty while the other king was from the Agiad Dynansty. With the conclusion of the Thirty Years Peace treaty Archidamus II, the Eurypontid King at the time, felt he had successfully prevented Sparta from entering into a war with its neighbors. However, the strong war party in Sparta soon won out and in 431 BC Archidamus was forced into going to war with the Delian League. However, in 427 BC, Archidamus II died and his son, Agis II succeeded to the Eurypontid throne of Sparta.

The immediate causes of the Peloponnesian War vary from account to account. However three causes are fairly consistent among the ancient historians, namely Thucydides and Plutarch. Prior to the war, Corinth and one of its colonies, Corcyra (modern-day Corfu), got into a dispute, in 435 BC, over the new Corcyran colony of Epidamnus. War broke out between Corinth and Corcyra. Sparta refused to become involved in the conflict and urged an arbitrated settlement of the struggle. In 433 BC, Corcyra, sought the assistance of Athens in the war on Corinth. Corinth was known to be a traditional enemy of Athens. However, to further encourage Athens to enter the conflict, Corcyra pointed out, to Athens, how useful a friendly relationship with Corcyra would be, given the strategic locations of Corcyra itself and the colony of Epidamnus on the east shore of the Adriatic Sea. Furthermore, Corcyra promised that Athens would have the use of their (Corcyra's) navy, which was the third largest navy in Greece. This was too good of an offer for Athens to refuse. Accordingly, Athens signed a defensive alliance with Corcyra.

The next year, in 432 BC, Corinth and Athens argued over control of Potidaea (near modern-day Nea Potidaia), eventually leading to an Athenian siege of Potidaea. In 434-433 BC Athens issued the "Megarian Decrees", a series of economic decrees that placed economic sanctions on the Megarian people. Athens was accused by the Peloponnesian allies of violating the Thirty Years Peace through all of the aforementioned actions, and, accordingly, Sparta formally declared war on Athens.

Many historians consider these to be merely the immediate causes of the war. They would argue that the underlying cause was the growing resentment on the part of Sparta and its allies at the dominance of Athens over Greek affairs. The war lasted 27 years, partly because Athens (a naval power) and Sparta (a land-based military power) found it difficult to come to grips with each other.

Sparta's initial strategy was to invade Attica, but the Athenians were able to retreat behind their walls. An outbreak of plague in the city during the siege caused heavy losses, including that of Pericles. At the same time the Athenian fleet landed troops in the Peloponnese, winning battles at Naupactus (429 BC) and Pylos (425 BC). But these tactics could bring neither side a decisive victory. After several years of inconclusive campaigning, the moderate Athenian leader Nicias concluded the Peace of Nicias (421 BC).

In 418 BC, however, hostility between Sparta and the Athenian ally Argos led to a resumption of hostilities. Alcibiades was one of the most influential voices in persuading the Athenians to ally with Argos against the Spartans. At the Mantinea Sparta defeated the combined armies of Athens and her allies. Accordingly, Argos and the rest of the Peloponnesus was brought back under the control of Sparta. The return of peace allowed Athens to be diverted from meddling in the affairs of the Peloponnesus and to concentrate on building up the empire and putting their finances in order. Soon trade recovered and tribute began, once again, rolling into Athens. A strong "peace party" arose, which promoted avoidance of war and continued concentration on the economic growth of the Athenian Empire. Concentration on the Athenian Empire, however, brought Athens into conflict with another Greek state.

Ever since the formation of the Delian League in 477 BC, the island of Melos had refused to join. By refusing to join the League, however, Melos reaped the benefits of the League without bearing any of the burdens. In 425 BC, an Athenian army under Cleon attacked Melos to force the island to join the Delian League. However, Melos fought off the attack and was able to maintain its neutrality. Further conflict was inevitable and in the spring of 416 BC the mood of the people in Athens was inclined toward military adventure. The island of Melos provided an outlet for this energy and frustration for the military party. Furthermore there appeared to be no real opposition to this military expedition from the peace party. Enforcement of the economic obligations of the Delian League upon rebellious city-states and island was a means by which continuing trade and properity of Athens could be assured. Melos was alone among all the Cycladic Islands located in the southwest Aegean Sea had resisted joining the Delian League. This continued rebellion provided a bad example to the rest of the members of the Delian League.

The debate between Athens and Melos over the issue of joining the Delian League is presented by Thucydides in his Melian Dialogue. The debate did not in the end resolve any of the differences between Melos and Athens and Melos was invaded in 416 BC, and soon occupied by Athens. This success on the part of Athens whetted the appetite of the people of Athens for further expansion of the Athenian Empire. Accordingly, the people of Athens were ready for military action and tended to support the military party, led by Alcibiades.

Thus, in 415 BC, Alcibiades found support within the Athenian Assembly for his position when he urged that Athens launch a major expedition against Syracuse, a Peloponnesian ally in Sicily. Segesta, a town in Sicily, had requested Athenian assistance in their war with the another Sicilian town — the town of Selinus. Although Nicias was a skeptic about the Sicilian Expedition, he was appointed along with Alcibiades to lead the expedition.

However, unlike the expedition against Melos, the citizens of Athens were deeply divided over the Alcibiades' proposal for an expedition to far off Sicily. The peace party was desperate to foil Alcibiades. Thus, in June 415 BC, on the very eve of the departure of the Athenian fleet for Sicily, a band of vandals in Athens defaced the many statues of the god Hermes, that were scattered throughout the city of Athens. This action was blamed on Alcibiades and was seen as a bad omen for the coming campaign. In all likelihood, the coordinated action against the statues of Hermes was the action of the peace party. Having lost the debate on the issue, the peace party was desperate to weaken Alcibiades' hold on the people of Athens. Successfully blaming Alcibiades for the action of the vandals would have weakened Alcibiades and the war party in Athens. Furthermore, it is unlikely that Alcibiades would have deliberately defaced the statues of Hermes on the very eve of his departure with the fleet. Such defacement could only have been interpreted as a bad omen for the expedition that he had long advocated.

Even before the fleet reached Sicily, word arrived to the fleet that Alcibiades was to be arrested and charged with sacrilege of the statues of Hermes. Due to these accusations against him, Alcibiades fled to Sparta before the expedition actually landed in Sicily. When the fleet landed in Sicily and the battle was joined, the expedition was a complete disaster. The entire expeditionary force was lost and Nicias was captured and executed. This was one of the most crushing defeats in the history of Athens.

Meanwhile, Alcibiades betrayed Athens and became a chief advisor to the Spartans and began to counsel them on the best way to defeat his native land. Alcibiades persuaded the Spartans to begin building a real navy for the first time — large enough to challenge the Athenian superiority at sea. Additionally, Alcibiades persuaded the Spartans to ally themselves with their traditional foes — the Persians. As noted below, Alcibiades soon found himself in controversy in Sparta when he was accused of having seduced Timaea, the wife of Agis II, the Eurypontid king of Sparta. Accordingly, Alcibiades was required to flee from Sparta and seek the protection of the Persian Court.

Sparta had now built a fleet (with the financial help of the Persians) to challenge Athenian naval supremacy, and had found a new military leader in Lysander, who attacked Abydos and seized the strategic initiative by occupying the Hellespont, the source of Athens' grain imports. Threatened with starvation, Athens sent its last remaining fleet to confront Lysander, who decisively defeated them at Aegospotami (405 BC). The loss of her fleet threatened Athens with bankruptcy. In 404 BC Athens sued for peace, and Sparta dictated a predictably stern settlement: Athens lost her city walls, her fleet, and all of her overseas possessions. Lysander abolished the democracy and appointed in its place an oligarchy called the "Thirty Tyrants" to govern Athens.

Meanwhile, in Sparta, Timaea gave birth to a child. The child was given the name Leotychidas, son of Agis II, after the great grandfather of Agis II — King Leotychidas of Sparta. However, because of her alleged dalliance with Alcibiades, it was widely rumoured that the young Leotychidas was actually fathered by Alcibiades. Indeed, Agis II, himself, refused to acknowledge Leotychidas as his son until he relented in front of witnesses, on his death bed in 400 BC.

Upon the death of Agis II, Leotychidas attempted to claim the Eurypontid throne for himself. However, there was an outcry against this attempted succession. The outcry was led by the victorious navarch (admiral) Lysander, who was at the height of his influence in Sparta. Lysander argued that Leotychidas was a bastard and could not inherit the Eurypontid throne. Accordingly, Lysander backed the hereditory claim of Agesilaus, son of Agis by another wife, other than Timaea. Based on the support of Lysander, Agesilaus became the Eurypontid king as Agesilaus II, expelled Leotychidas from the country, and took over all of Agis' estates and property.

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