2002 scribd


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2002 scribd

  1. 1. CLASSICAL STUDIES: THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR PGS 224-253- In Sparta and Athens , it was the common soldiers meeting in assembly as voters who took the decision to go to war- citizens were not voting to send a group of unfamiliar youths to fight; they were voting to go themselves, along with their sons and brothers, to do the killing and dying- they signed on for: stabbing, spearing, trampling, or ramming other ships and sinking them- they may annihilate other cities, killing the men and enslaving the women and children; or they may be annihilated themselves- death by drowning was frightening to Greeks, because souls of men who had not been buried were unable to find a resting place in Hades and would wander forever- when war broke out between Athens and Sparta, few Greeks foresaw that it would be different from any war they had ever experienced- the 27 year conflict enhanced many of the worst features of Greek society- competitiveness, jingoism, lack of compassion, and gross disregard for human life- the comic dramatist Aristophanes continued to produce plays of irresistible wit through three decades of fighting and for a generation afterwards- the Peloponnesian War would alter the world the Greeks knew in many respects- assumptions about the citizen-fighter and women’s role in the polis would break down conventional morality and piety would face many challenges- the war supplied the impetus for many of the social, political, and intellectual changes The Archidamian War (431-421 BC)- the decade of fighting that stretched from 431 to 421 seemed like a discrete entity in itself, and in fact this war has been given its own name after the Spartan king and commander- we owe the concept of a single Peloponnesian War extending from 431 to 404 to Thucydides The Periclean Strategy and the Plague- Pericles devised an ingenious strategy for winning a war he conceived as essentially defensive- harassing peloponnesian territory with their navy, the Athenians declined to participate in hoplite battle with the Spartans- at Pericles’ instigation, the Athenian farmers abandoned their land, taking with them what few household goods could be loaded into wagons, and huddled with the city dwellers inside the Long Walls that link Athens to Piraeus
  2. 2. - these walls made Athens in essence an island- the Spartans foresaw one of two consequences: either the Athenians would seek peace or they would overrule Pericles and come out to fight a losing battle- the Athenians abandoned their homes and the familiar temples nearby, and when the farmers arrived in Athens only few were able to find shelter with friends or relatives- the Athenians held a public funeral for those who had been killed, and Pericles was chosen to offer the eulogy- Athens and the way of life it represents- a way of life that is defined as the antithesis of everything Sparta- the next year brought a ghastly plague that attacked the population of Athens- speculation has ranged from smallpox and measles to the Ebola virus, anthrax, and toxic shock syndrome- scientists managed to isolate bacterial DNA that suggests that the disease was an earlier form of modern typhoid fever- probably about a third of the populace died- Thucydides reports the oral bleeding, the bad breath, the painful vomiting, the burning skin, the insomnia, the memory loss, and the fatal diarrhea, and goes on to describe the way in which people reacted to the disease- demoralized by the plague and frustrated by being forbidden to march out and offer battle, some Athenians tried to open negotiations for peace with the Spartans, ignoring Pericles’ cautions against this and in fact voting to depose him from the strategia Cleon and Diodotus: The Revolt of Mytilene (428-427 BC)- one of the most popular of the new politicians was Cleon a brash and outspoken tannery owner who cultivated a flamboyantly anti-aristocratic persona- Cleon has come before the tribunal history at a desperate disadvantage- the 420’s saw a change in the character of Athenian government- until the war Athenians had felt most comfortable with political power in the hands of men from old, wealthy families- men like Cimon and Pericles- this soon ceased to be true- richer men still had advantage in politics, but many had died in the plague, allowing men whose fathers had made money in business to compete with those whose families had been living off their landholdings for generations- literally a “leader of the people” the word demagogos came to signal a calculating politician who manipulated voters for his own ends rather than letting himself be guided by patriotism and principle- a dramatic debate that took place in 427- the year before, several cities on the island of Lesbos had revolted from the Athenian empire under the leadership of the largest of them, Mytilene- promised Spartan aid never materialized- when the Mytileneans surrendered, the Athenians initially voted to put all the men to death, and to sell the women and children into slavery
  3. 3. - [Cleon] advocates a policy of harsh consistency- bad laws that stay the same, he insisted, are better than good ones that change- Diodotus said that deterrence was not as effective as commonly believed- there was no merit in killing people even when they had surrendered for to do so removed any incentive for surrender in future rebellions- the Athenians executed the ringleaders of the revolt- these amounted to more than a thousand men, a significant proportion of the adult male population in a state the size of Mytilene The War Continues- the tendency to keep land in the family constricted social mobility in Greece, limiting opportunities for improving one’s lot in life- the war raging throughout Greece intensified the long-standing tensions b/w the aristocrats- the ordinary citizens struggling to make a living could expect help from Sparta and the latter from Athens- the result was stasis (civil strife) more frequent and ferocious than before- the democratic party of Corcyra gained the upper hand and as allies of the demos the Athenians under their admiral made no move to curtail the butchery- war, Thucydides concluded, is a violent teacher- fearing that Sphacteria might fall into the Athenian hands, the Spartans recalled the army that as ravaging Attica and positioned 420 hoplites on the island- on the advice of Cleon, the Athenians turned the Spartan ambassadors away- when Cleon made disparaging remarks about the failure of Athens’ generals to capture them, he took for his particular target the respected strategos Nicias- Nicias had impressed many Athenians by the vast sums he spent on religious festivals, and his base support lay within Athens’ richer and more conservative voters- the sort of men who despised Cleon- Nicias suggested that Cleon himself be given a special commission to go to Pylos and get hold of the stranded hoplites- Cleon worked well with Demosthenes, and to the astonishment of Greeks of all social classes, the Spartan soldiers surrendered rather than fight to the death- the Athenians resolved to keep fighting rather than to make peace- the presence of Spartan hostages at Athens put an end to the annual invasions of Attica- the war did not end for in 424 the Spartans discovered Brasidas, what they had previously lacked- a charismatic general- Brasidas by his campaigns up north in Chalcidice very nearly won the war for Sparta, just as Demostenes and Cleon had nearly won the war for Athens at Pylos
  4. 4. Brasidas and Chalcidice (424-422 BC)- when some Chalcidic towns requested Spartan aid and were joined in their appeal by Athens’ on-again off-again ally Perdiccas of Macedonia- the Spartans propmptly dispatched Brasidas; he persuaded the towns of Acanthus, Stagirus, and Argilus to revolt from Athens- the greatest prize lay ahead however- gaining possession of Amphipolis would require a little more effort, but this cherished Athenian stronghold was Brasidas’ principal target and in fact brought it over to the Spartan side in less than 24 hours- the Athenians banished one of their generals who had been offshore at Thasos when the catastrophe occurred; the historian Thucydides- the following spring (423) the Athenians and the Spartans signed a years’ armistice- when the armistice expired in 422 Cleon met Brasidas in battle at Amphipolis- Greek generals fought in the front lines, and in the fighting both Cleon and Brasidas were killed The Peace of Nicias (421 BC)- Athens and Sparta had both had enough- agriculture in Attica had been horribly disrupted and with it the trade b/w city and countryside that was the foundation of polis life- the Athenians were unsettled by the patent unrest throughout their sphere of influence in the north- Sparta was nervous about continuing its war with Athens when the Spartan-Argive truce of 30 years was on the verge of expiring- the Spartans were extremely eager to recover the survivors- both sides were disturbed by the degree to which they had been compelled to hire mercenaries to keep the war going- the highly problematic agreement known as the Peace of Nicias was essentially a victory for Athens- the terms of the peace were to be observed for fifty years- the treaty contained the expression “the Athenians and their allies”- Sparta was to return Amphipolis, and Athens would abandon Pylos and the island of Cythera and release all prisoners of war- the Athenian war goal had been met: Spartans had failed to destroy the empire- the Athenians had done much to weaken the Peloponnesian League- after a grueling war of 10 years Sparta had suffered loss of life and prestige- it was about to lose its allies as well, and disaffection among them placed the new peace in serious jeopardy- Corinth refused to sign the peace
  5. 5. - Megara would not sign an agreement that allowed the Athenians to retain its port to Nisaea, as the Spartans should have foreseen- the Boeotians, furious at the order to relinquish the border fortress of Panactum to the Athenians- in retaliation, the Athenians held on to Pylos- the chance for a productive alliance between the two most powerful states in Greece was lost The Rise of Comedy:- comic drama supplies considerable evidence for the Athenians’ feelings- it was only during the Peloponnesian War that the genre we know as Old Comedy erupted on the Athenian stage- Comic dramas were produced twice a year in Athens, both times in competitions among several dramatists at festivals of the god Dionysus- only complete plays that survive were written by comic genius Aristophanes- he didn’t take his plots from mythology; his story lines were firmly grounded in the culture and politics of his day- he dreamt of an earlier day when role models were provided by the “men of Marathon” rather than by sophists- his plays also manifested a tender love of the countryside, a nostalgia for a simpler time, and sober commitment to peace- his values must have been congenial to the community; the decision whether to grant a chorus for training lay with the city’s magistrates, and of course prizes were awarded by citizen judges The Peace of Aristophanes Alcibiades- flashy Athenian aristocrat; to him, a life without glory was barely worth the name- in 421, with an end to the war in sight, Aristophanes wrote his Peace- by the time it was presented, the treaty was close to becoming a reality Between Peace and War- the peace so anticipated by Aristophanes was not long-lasting- events were to prove that the thousands who had died in the Archidamian War had given their lives for nothing
  6. 6. Alcibiades, Renegade Aristocrat- he was raised in the home of his relative Pericles- handsome, witty, athletic, charming, and sensuous, he was eagerly courted by lovers of both sexes, and his rakish personality and flamboyant lifestyle were notorious- never did like rules- passions included his teacher Socrates, the breeding and racing of horses, and competition in all its forms- his wife Hipparete belonged to one of the most wealthy and prominent families in Athens- Sparta managed to defeat the new grouping in battle, scoring a decisive victory in Mantinea in 418BC, also succeeding in mending fences with the disaffected allies Boeotia and Corinth, this in effect restoring the Peloponnesian League- without a written constitution or bill of rights, only a highly subjective judgement could determine what new laws were and were not in harmony with the old The Destruction of Melos (416 BC)- the years that followed were marked by conflict in Athens and chaos in the Peloponnesus- the Athenians dispatched ships to the little island of Melos which was allied with neither Athens or Sparta, and ordered it to join the Delian League- hope of Spartan assistance moved the Melians to turn Athens down- Spartan aid did not materialize, and as punishment, the Athenians decided to kill all the Melian men and sell all the women and children into slavery-all of them- to treat an enemy the way the Athenians treated the Melians was not unheard of in Greece- but the Melians had not been enemies of Athens, and what the Athenians did to them tarnished their reputation into the next century and beyond The Invasion of Sicily (415-413 BC)- in the winter of 416-415 temptation had appeared to the Athenian assembly in the form of ambassadors from the Sicilian city of Egesta, and old ally now at odds with its neighbor Selinus
  7. 7. - Athenian involvement in Sicily could therefore mean renewed war with the Peloponnesian League- could also lead to great wealth and an expanded sphere of influence- Alcibiades would be sent west with a large force, but he would be accompanied by two other strategoi- Lamachus and Nicias whose presence they hoped woud serve as a check on Alcibiades’ rashness- those who were against the invasion held their tongues for fear of being thought unpatriotic- the Egestans turned out not to have the resources they had claimed- envoys dispatched to Egesta had been duped into believing the city was rich when it was really poor- Lamachus died fighting- Alcibiades was recalled to stand trial, and managed to jump ship and defect to Sparta- he warned the Spartans that the Athenians were planning to conquer Sicily and Italy, attack Carthage, and then go after the Peloponnesus- the Athenians had lost tens of thousands of men and accomplished nothing The War in the Aegean and the Oligarchic Coup at Athens (413-411 BC)- the Greek world was as stunned by the Athenian’s defeat at Syracuse as it had been their victory at Marathon- Athens’ fighting force was vastly smaller than it had been in 431- for Athenian subjects, suddenly revolt became not merely an option but a powerful temptation- now the Spartans could ravage Attica all year, keeping Athens in a perpetual state of siege- it took Sparta 8 years to bring Athens to its knees- the history of these 8 years was crowded with shifting alliances, plots, and murder and lies- a new creature appeared, the “moderate”- a politician whose motives for keeping one foot in each camp were often impossible to determine- sincere patriotism became increasingly difficult to distinguish from unprincipled time- serving- in 413 Athens seemed to be finished- by 410 Spartans sued for peace- Athens won a stunning victory in 406 only to lose the war by 404 Civil Strife in Athens- for nearly a century after the clash b/w Cleisthenes and Isagoras, Athens had been free from the danger of civil war
  8. 8. - in the years that followed the Athenian defeat in Sicily, Persian policy toward Greece was determined not primarily by the king, Darius II, but by the coastal satraps- Pharnabazuz in the north and Tissaphernes in the south- its an index of how deeply the long war had shaken the Athenians that in 411 the assembly voted itself out of existence and placed safety of the state in the hands of a new Council of Four Hundred Experiments in Oligarchy- Solon was believed by many people to have created a council of four hundred- what was really at issue was the disenfranchisement of the lowest class in the Solonic census, the thetes- the notion of “hoplite democracy” had been Cimon’s ideal, and he was not alone- Athenians of antidemocratic tendencies began to make use of a new watchword, “the ancestral constitution” that is, a democracy limited to landowners, which they insisted was more traditionally Athenian- the belief that Athens’ foreign affairs could do better under oligarchic guidance suffered serious setbacks when the peace with Sparta failed to materialze- after a victory at Cynossema, the Athenians scored a still more striking one at Cyzicus where the Spartans lost their admiral-in-chief, Mindarus The Last Years of War (407-404 BC)- in 407 the union of two powerful men dramatically altered the situation in the Aegean- an enthusiastic friendship sprang up b/w Cyrus and Lysander, a chief admiral of the Sparta navy- ultimately their alliance spelled doom for Athens- that same year Alcibiades decided it might be safe to finally return home- within a matter of months the Athenians lost 22 ships to Lysander at naval engagement off Notium- Alcibiades’ career at Athens was finished- it is likely that he was actually deposed before his term was out- he never saw Athens again- that spring the Athenians offered freedom to slaves who would join the navy that was about to set out for the area of Lebos The Final Battle- again the Spartans offered peace on the basis of the status quo- again, the Athenians declined
  9. 9. - in the summer of 405BC Lysander established a base in the city of Lampsacus in the Hellespont- the Athenians’ carelessness gave rise to rumors of treachery- the Spartan victory at Aegospotami had cut off Athens from its principal course of grain- to make sure there would be no slip-ups Lysander also decreed death as a penalty for anyone caught bringing grain to Athens- Athens was spared- early in the spring the Athenians agreed to a treaty- Athens would not only become Sparta’s ally, but also would agree to take down the Long Walls and the fortifications of Piraeus would surrender all but a dozen ships- exiles would also be recalled