HIS2102 Lecture 10: Athens - march 14th 2016

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15 Mar 2016

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Athens, Persia and Sparta
March 14th 2016
Naxos was the first allied or delian league member to lose their independence.
Two things to acknowledge: although formal talks between Sparta and Athens
ceased in 432. The Peloponnesian war didn’t start immediately. Even when they
stopped sending embassy to each other, neither officially declared war to each
other. Until fighting actually start, the 30 years of peace was still in place. Neither
side didn’t want to be the one to break the peace. They were waiting for a pretext
or a trigger in order to not be blamed.
Second thing is that the Peloponnesian war is separated in different wars and
sometimes there’s a interim peace.
The Spartans knew that a war with Athens isn’t going to be easy, they were
confident that they can force the Athenians into submission within a few years. At
this point, Greek warfare was largely hoplite driven. Spartans stated goal headed
into the war was to liberate the Greek world, this goal garnered considerable
moral support for the Spartans heading to the war. The Spartan strategy consisted
of a blunt force offensive. They were regularly going to invade Attica. The logic
behind this, was that either the Athenians were going to defend Attica and engage
the Spartans which would be to the Athenians disadvantage or the Athenians were
going to hide behind their walls while the Spartans are going to destroy their
crops and starve them. This was a traditional approach to warfare. But the
soundness of this strategy even renounce those who were fond to go to war.
The Corinthians also proposed a strategy. They figured that Athens wouldn’t be
able to hold the war for long if they didn’t have the fund to pay for troops and
supplies, and these funds to pay for these troops and supplies were coming from
the tributes of Athens. The Corinthians proposed that while also devastating
Attica, the Peloponnesian league could enter the Aegean and encourage Athens
allies to revolt in order to deprive them from their income. But this had
complications, it would be a challenge for Sparta to recruit the sailors necessary to
man a large fleet, and the Spartans didn’t like the idea to send troops far away but
more to the point in order to construct a fleet powerful enough to contend enough
vs the Athenian navy and to pay for their crews, Sparta would need considerable
funding. The only people financially capable to fund Sparta for their navy were
the Persians, so they start talking with the Persians. However the more they
negotiate with the Persians the more they realized that the cost of this fleet would
have cost partial Persian dominion in Greece. The Spartans let it go.
In terms of stategy, Sparta will find pros and cons with their traditional brute force
land strategy and the more adventurous strategy of hitting the high seas, but they
would employ a mixture of both.
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