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Lecture 15

CLA230 Lecture 15 Notes

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Michael J.Dewar

CLA230 Lecture 15 Notes Pericles - mid-5 century B.C. Athens – often called the Age of Pericles - historians talk about Pericles most often but ultimately he is not the only power - Thucydides – mentions that Pericles was so influential that he got the assembly to do what he wanted - quote: “in name demokratia but actually the leadership of the first man” - strategos – elected office of general – if good/popular, can be re-elected - can be strategos over and over again – no limit - Pericles is not the only strategos – one of ten strategi - re-elected many times – held office 16 times from 445-430 B.C. - Plutarch wrote Life of Pericles - quote: Pericles and friends as “the new Peisistratids” - therefore – virtual tyrants The Peloponnesian War - takes place 431-404 B.C. - cause - addressed by Thucydides - why they broke the treaty - quote: “To the question why they broke the [30 years peace of 446 BC], I answer by placing first an account of their grounds of complaint and points of difference… The real cause, however, I consider to be the one which was formally most kept out of sight. The growth of the power of Athens, and the alarm which this inspired in Sparta, made war inevitable.” - proximate vs. underlying cause - proximate causes as “little fires” – “straw that broke the camel’s back”, so to speak - Thucydides does not consider the proximate causes as historically accurate – more underlying - proximate causes • Corcyra • Epidamnus • Megara - underlying causes • Spartan fear of Athenian power - Corcyra – Corinthian colony - Epidamnus – colony of Corcyra - Potidaea – Corinthian colony - Megara – neighbour and traditional enemy of Athens – ally of Sparta – Corinth also a Spartan ally - Athens vs. Sparta – more through proxies – Athens in contact with Megara, Corinth – allies of Sparta Epidamnus - civil strife – 435 B.C. - issues with exiles – asks mother city for help - Corcyra refuses to help - go to Delphi – Pythia tells them to ask Corinth for help - Corinth agrees to help - Corcyra tells Corinth not to help – Corcyra and Corinth drawn into conflict over the issue - conflict culminates in a naval battle - large navy on both sides - three naval powers at the time – Corinth, Corcyra, and Athens - Corcyra defeats Corinth in the naval battle Corcyra – The Athenian Vote - Corcyra approaches Athens for an alliance in 433 B.C. - Athens must make a decision – does not want t o provoke Sparta – but since Corcyra is such a great naval power – lots of ships - Corcyra had about 70 ships - Corcyra is also a strategic position between Greece, Italy, and Sicily - Athens cannot afford to lose its naval edge – therefore it allies with Corcyra - alliance as defensive, not offensive - Athenian vote – to help defend each other – mentioned by Thucydides - quote: “It was to be a defensive, not an offensive, alliance. It did not involve a breach of the treaty with the Peloponnesus… it began now to be felt that the coming of the Peloponnesian war was only a question of time, and no one was willing to see a naval power of Corcyra’s magnitude sacrifice to Corinth… at the same time the island seemed to lie conveniently on the coastal passage to Italy and Sicily.” - Battle of Sybota – 433 B.C. – naval battle - Athens and Corcyra vs. Corinth - 120 ships between Athens and Corcyra – Corinth had 150 ships - Athens in direct conflict with the Corinthians – claim to be helping to defend an ally – Corinth as aggressors - Athens vs. Corinth despite 30 years of peace – Athenians win Potidaea - takes place 433 B.C - Corinthian colony but Athenian ally - according to Thucydides – Athens worried that Potidaea will revolt - decide to proactively tell Potidaea to destroy their fortifications, give hostages, and remove Corinthian officials - rise in revolt – Potidaea refuses to agree - revolt in reaction to the harsh demands - Sparta promises to invade Attica if Athens attacks Potidaea – more proactive role with allies than before - Sparta does not always follow on promises however - Athens as quick to act - Sparta as slow, methodical, conservative - Athens besieges Potidaea in 432 B.C. Megarian Decree - Thucydides barely mentions this event - Athens accuses Megara of farming Athenian land – much of which is sacred - Eleusis – sanctuary of Demeter, Persephone – properties belong to the goddesses – work and amount of taxes paid to the goddesses - accused of illegally farming the land – as well as harbouring runaway Athenian slaves - Athenian herald is killed – Anthemocritus - heralds – not supposed to be killed – have to be protected - in response – Megara is banned from Athenian ports as wells as those of Athenian allies - the Megarian decree shows up a lot in other sources – for some reason Thucydides downplays it Congress of Spartan Allies - meeting of Sparta and her allies – 432 B.C. - Corinth complaints about Corcyra and Potidaea - Megara – complaint about the “Megarian decree” - Spartan assembly votes to declare war on Athens - lengthy debate before the decision is made – Thucydides preserves the speeches - Spartan assembly votes by acclimation – but in this case the ephor cannot determine which group is the loudest – therefore the assembly must divide into two sides – breaks anonymity of the vote - after the congress – Sparta does not immediately invade Attica - request of Sparta in 432/1 B.C. - likely asks Athens to disband their empire or dissolve the forced alliance – to make the alliance voluntary again - quote: “Sparta wishes the peace to continue, and there is no reason why it should not, if you would let the Hellenes be independent.” - assumption of the request must be made – likely to disband the empire - refusal of Athens to cooperate as “the last straw” - Pericles convinces the assembly to reject the Spartan ultimatum - Sparta invades Attica the following summer – 431 B.C. - however – much fighting had been going on before the war officially started Causes of the War - other sources are more emphatic about the importance of the Megarian decree - Thucydides barely mentions the Megarian decree - Plutarch – Greek from Boeotia in the Roman period – using earlier sources - according to Plutarch – Pericles could have avoided the war by rescinding the Megarian decree - Andocides – Athenian orator – around 400 B.C. – at the end of the Peloponnesian War - quote by Andocides: ““we went to war again on account of Megara, and allowed Attica to be laid waste” - evidence in comedy – plays in the 420s B.C. – during the Peloponnesian War - Aristophanes – in his play Acharnians – written 425 B.C. - Quote: “But now some young drunkards go to Megara and carry off the courtesan Simaetha; the Megarians, hurt to the quick, run off in turn with two harlots of the house of Aspasia; and so for three women Greece is set ablaze. Then Pericles, aflame with ire on his Olympian height, let loose the lightning, caused the thunder to roll, upset Greece and passed an edict, which ran like the song, that the Megarians be banished both from our land and from our markets and from the sea and from the continent. Meanwhile the Megarians, who were beginning to die of hunger, begged the Lacedaemonians to bring about the abolition of the decree, of which those harlots were the cause; several times we refused their demand; and from that time there was horrible clatter of arms everywhere.” - Aspasia – mistress of Pericles - Pericles is compared to Zeus in his anger - for the joke to have any meaning – there would have to been some truth the politics - also mention in Aristophanes’ Peace – written in 421 B.C. - god Hermes speaks – mentions the Megarian decree - quote: “Listen to me, my poor farming friends, and you will have what became of Peace.It all started… because Pericles… threw a little firebrand into the City marked “MegarianDecree” and in a moment it was a ablaze, with him fanning the flames, and the smoke was in the eyes of every Greek, at home or abroad… and there was nobody could bring the blaze under control and Peace just vanished.” - Megarian decree seen as the cause of the war – Pericles at fault - perhaps popular belief is that the Megarian decree is the cause – but Thucydides thinks that it is not actually true – reason for the downplaying – perhaps believes it to be a pretext Archidamian War - next ten years – subset for the Peloponnesian War - Spartan king – Archidamus - Sparta invades Attica yearly and destroys farmland – takes place every year in 431-425 B.C. – except for the years 429 B.C. and 426 B.C. - Athens does not fight – withdraw behind fortifications - in turn – Athens raids Megara every year – using naval assault - Periclean strategy – not designed to bring victory – safe - Athens has more money – do the safe thing and therefore do more damage with raids – Megara will starve because they do not have money to import food - strategy would have worked – however, a plague hits Athens - plague – perhaps typhoid – still no modern infrastructure in Athens – cramped quarters, especially with the people being brought within the fortifications - detailed description of the plague is recorded by Thucydides - plague – over the course of four years - Pericles dies in 429 B.C. - over 4,400 hoplites die – one-third of the hoplites - likely many more poor died – hoplites were middle class - one main problem is the death of Pericles – things then spiral out of control Mytilene - city of Mytilene – 428-427 B.C. - rises in revolt in the summer of 428 B.C. - Athens immediately sends 40 ships to end the revolt - Sparta and her allies vote to assist Mytilene - Athens sends 1,000 hoplites in the fall of 428 B.C. - Sparta sends a single ship in the winter of 428/7 B.C. – slow acting of Sparta and allies - blockade on land and sea – Mytilene surrenders because it has no food - surrender occurs in 427 B.C. - Sparta’s fleet of 40 ships is sent too late – arrives in the summer of 427 B.C. – after Mytilene has already surrendered - initial decision of Athens – to kill all men and enslave the women of Mytilene - contributed ships instead of money – Myteline did not pay tribute - extreme response was a proposal by Cleon - Cleon – father was a tanner - Cleon was good at causin
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