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Lecture 6

Lecture 6 - The Peloponnesian War

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Adriana Brook

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CLA160 Lecture 6JULY15/2011
The Peloponnesian War (431-404 BCE)
What made war inevitable was the growth of Athenian power and the fear which this
caused Sparta. - Thucydides
Causes of the War
Epidamnos was owned by Corcyra, who is allied with Corinth, who is then allied
with Sparta
In Epidamnos, there was a civil war and they needed the assistance of Corcyra to
throw out the oligarchic factions
Corcyra refused to help the Epidamnians and so, they asked the Corinthians
for help, which they agreed
Corinth sent a huge fleet to Epidamnos, only to arrive there with Corcyra
already there
Because they beat Corinth into helping the Epidamnians, the Corcyrians
became worried and asked Athens for help instead of Sparta, since Sparta was
allied with Corinth
Athens debated amongst itself whether to help Corcyra and break the Thirty
Year Treaty between Athens and Sparta
Athens finally agreed to help Corcyra against Corinth but only sent 10 ships
out of 250, which only stayed on the borders of the battle and later interfered
when it was clear the Corcyrians were going to be killed
The Battle was known as the Battle of Sybota (433 BCE)
Athens disliked what Corinth did and took it out on its alliances
Potidaia, Corinths ally but was part of the Delian League
Because of Potidaias participation in the league, Athens asked them to remove
their walls and their Corinthian magistrates
Control for supplies
Laid waste to Potidaia to remove all Corinthian relations
Decrees Against Megara (432 BCE)
Athens used Megara to get back at Corinth
Forbid Megara to trade with ports that was part of the league
Crippled its economy, and their living
Corinth forced Sparta to interfere
Sparta was very reasonable and diplomatic, but Athens wasnt
The Archidamian War (431-421 BCE)
Spartas hoplites laid waste to Attica every year
Athens at a disadvantaged if they try to attack the Spartans head on
Pericles plan was to stay behind the Athenian long walls and outlast the
The Athenians didnt like his plan and he began to gain a bad reputation
among the people
His plan ultimately backfired when a plague erupted due to overpopulation
within the narrow spaces behind the Athenian wall, and hygiene issue
The plague killed 1/3 of the Athenian population
429 BCE: Pericles died because of the plague
Athens no longer led by a wise, moderate leader like Pericles, now, its headed by a
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CLA160 Lecture 6JULY15/2011
Demagogues were more focused on current popularity rather than the future of
Athens made bad decisions during their years led by a demagogue
Demagogues feeds into mob mentality
Both Aristophanes and Thucydides were biased against Cleon
Mytilene Debate (428 BCE)
Mytilene wants to leave the Delian League
Cleon convinced the Athenian assembly to enslave the women and kill the men in
Athens sent ships to Mytilene but the Athenians later felt remorse, both in the ships
sent to perform the deed as well as in the assembly
Athens sent another ship to retract the order to kill the people of Myltilene and
enslaved its women
Both ships arrived at the same time, and the regret that the Athenians felt
prevented the destruction of Mytilene
In later occasions however, Athens would kill the men and enslave the women. It
would seem that Athens was turning to be tyrannical
At this point, the battle between Sparta and Athens was at a standstill, stagnant. Sparta
would continue to attack Attica to no avail, since Athens remains behind their walls
Demosthenes: Pylos and Sphacteria (425 BCE)
Athenian general Demosthenes found Pylos which they planned to use to raid
Sparta and encourage helot revolts.
Spartans raced back to the Peloponnesus and had 420 Spartans land on
Sphacteria, hoping to barricade the channels at either end of the island so
that Athenian ships could not sail into the bay.
The result: Spartan fleet destroyed by Athens and the 420 Spartans were
trapped in Sphacteria - they asked for truce, which the Athenians refused
because of Cleon, an Athenian demagogue.
Athens now had hostages, and a seeming advantage over the Spartans; no truce,
they want complete victory
Battle of Delium (424 BCE)
Cleon urged Athens to expand into Boeotia
Set up a garrison at Delium and the Thebans quickly kicked out the Athenians
Conflict over Amphipolis (424-422 BCE)
Sparta wants their hoplites back and went to Amphipolis, an Athenian ally
To protect their ally, Athens went to Amphipolis and fighting ensued between the
invading Spartans and the defenders, Athens
Both sides saw the death of their leaders: Cleon from Sparta, and Brasidas from
Decided to make a treaty
Peace of Nicias (421 BCE)
Named after Nicias
Give up all territories both sides had taken since the beginning of the war
Athens must return all hoplite hostages
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