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Lecture 16

CLCV 1002 Lecture Notes - Lecture 16: Strategos, Phidias, Omen


Classical Civilization
Course Code
CLCV 1002

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The Peloponnesian War
Athens was at its peak during the period of 480 to 430 BC, the period between the end of the Persian
wars and the beginning of the Peloponnesian war. Called the Pentecontaetia.
The painting called the School of Athens by Raphael represents Greek or Athenian philosophy.
Evocative of Athens further accomplishments. Evoked in the fresco, these are the days of pertinence
is Athens literature.
The Pentecontaetia:
Philosophy, in particular, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.
During the Pentecontaetia, the tragedy came about of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. Comedy
came about, Aristophanes. History was brought by Herodotus and Thucydides.
Two figures in the school of Athens, Raphael includes himself with the individuals he painted.
Scholars have tried to identify the people in the painting.
The Peloponnesian War
Athens achievements owe a debt to the great democratic leader of the city, Pericles. Before his
death in 429 was the Peloponnesian war which lasted from 431-404 BC. Athens and Sparta were
the chief opponents.
According to Thucydides, there were two historical events involving Corinth that lead to the war.
o The first event involves Potidaea. It was a member of the Athenian Empire. Corinth did not
belong to that alliance. Corinth was part of the Peloponnesian league. Both places were happy
with the traditional arrangements. Corinth retired from influencing the politics of Potidaea.
o Corcyra was a colony of Corinth and a member of the Athenian Empire. It is an island off the
west coast of Greece. Corinth wanted a say in the affairs of Corcyra and its colonies. In time,
difficulties developed between Corinth and Corcyra in how much say Corinth could have.
Athens supported Corcyra. Athens led naval assistance to Corcyra against Corinth. The two
became enemies of each other.
Thucydides in book 1 of his histories concludes that the primary cause of the war was the growth
and power of Athens and the alarm that this inspired in Sparta.
Behind all of this was the resentment of all Greek states against Athens of keeping the city-states in
the empire. Because of the different ways in which Athens and the non-allied Greeks saw the world,
the war between the two sides became inevitable. Athens and her empire along with the
Peloponnesian League would clash.
The Peloponnesian League is joined by Beocia. It involves the opposition to Athens in the war.
Athens was the unrivaled power in the Greek world in terms of her navy. Spartans power law in the
land. Pericles, therefore, came up with a plan for when the war broke out. His people should above
all remain in control of the sea so that they can be assured that the food supply coming in through
the Piraeus was safe. In times of emergency he suggested that all of Attica could come within the
walls of Athens.
o It was against his policy to engage with the Spartan enemies on land.
In 431, the war began. The invasion of the Spartans into the territory of Attica. They cut down
hundreds of olive trees. They destroyed for a generation one of the key forms of economy for the
people. As the year came to a close, the Athenians were successful, and they celebrated both the
success and their dead.
o Thucydides wrote a famous speech for the death during the war. The speech was spoken by
Pericles at the end of 431. A public funeral in honour of all those who died in war. A speech
would be given by a prominent Athenian citizen. It is an honour and a glorification of success.
It is in Book 2 Chapter 4, 8 pages.
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