CLA160 Lecture 10 Notes
Topics: The Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.)
1. Athens and Sparta after the Persian Wars
2. Alcibiades (450-404 B.C.)
3. The Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.)
Prelude to War (432 B.C.)
Stage 1: The “Archidamian War” (431-421 B.C.)
Stage 2: The “Peace of Nicias” (421-416 B.C.)
Stage 3: The “Sicilian Expedition” (415-413 B.C.)
Stage 4: Athenian Recovery (412-406 B.C.)
Stage 5: Final Decline and Defeat of Athens (406-404 B.C.)
4. The Consequences of War
5. The Causes of War
Athens and Sparta after the Persian Wars
- Sparta – dominant army – protectionist foreign policy – alliances
- Athens – dominant navy – expansionist foreign policy – Delian league – allies
provide tribute to Athens – named “Delian” because of where it kept its
- Athens became wealthy and powerful – clearly has designed on extending its
- mid-5 century B.C. – peace treaty created in 445 B.C. – lasted until 431 B.C.
- conflict between Sparta and Athens
- historian Thucydides – firsthand historian – excellent source despite bias –
“almost too good” in a way – very detailed
- Alcibiades – none is written himself – known through Thucydides
- lived in 450-404 B.C.
- descended from two prominent families
- mother’s side – cousin of Pericles – who became his guardian
- political view of Pericles was that of a moderate democrat, and a supporter of
Athenian imperial expansion, anti-Sparta
- Alcibiades mirrored the political views of Pericles
- considered to be extraordinarily beautiful
- thought to embody the Greek ideals of male beauty
- had a lisp
- prodigious sexual activity
- considered to be a “party animal”
- swashbuckler of sorts – a cross between “Robin Hood, JFK, and James Bond”
- devoted to philosopher Socrates who may or may not have been his lover
Prelude to War
- around 432 B.C.
- antagonization of Sparta and allies by Athens
- adds two of Corinth’s most powerful colonies to its kingdom
- series of harsh demands made by Athens – revolt of colonies and looked to
Corinth and Sparta for support
- interference with colonies of Corinth, an ally of Sparta
- young Alcibiades on Potidaean campaign in 432 B.C. - siege of Potidaea by Athens – starve them out – lasts until 430 B.C.
Stage 1: Archidamian War
- named after the king of Sparta
- around 431-421 B.C.
- very little direct engagement
- strategy adopted by Pericles – entire population of Attica to retreat behind
- plague broke out in Athens in 430 B.C. – killed many, including Pericles
- death of Pericles, 429 B.C.
- high death rate meant a shortage of people in Athens – fighting forces
- establishment of Athenian base at Pylos on the Peloponnese in 425 B.C.
- after gains and losses on both sides – 421 B.C. – “Peace of Nicias”
- Nicias – political conservative opposed to aggressive expansion of Athens and
in favour of peace with Sparta
- return of land and prisoners of war – proposed for ten years
- peace treaty ultimately failed – Alcibiades opposed Nicias and disrupted the
- Alcibiades played a “dirty trick” on Spartan ambassadors to generate further
- also orchestrated a pact with three major cities in the Peloponnese and et an
allied army in – direct and provocative affront to Sparta
Stage 2: Peace of Nicias
- around 421-416 B.C.
- “peace” was tenuous
- Alcibiades becomes a major political voice in Athens and calls for renewed
war with Sparta
- Alcibiades leads his first campaign as general in 419 B.C.
- Alcibiades and Olympic games
- annex of the island of Melos
Stage 3: Sicilian Expedition
- around 415-413 B.C.
- Alcibiades argues in favour of Sicily
- many Greek colonies in Sicily – join with Athenian allies on Syracuse
- pre-emptive move to prevent it from joining Sparta
- proposal of Alcibiades won out – Athens sent Alcibiades and Nicias on
- before setting sail – sacrilege in Athens
- sacrilege – mutilation of the herms – castrated and mutilated the faces of
- Alcibiades was charges with the sacrilege and was charged with other
- plot by enemies to ruin Alcibiades – accusation of impiety
- charged with religious crimes and it was decided that he would not be tried
until the end of the expedition
- however, a ship from Athens came to escort him back – Alcibiades manages
to slip away and is charges in absentia - defect to Sparta by Alcibiades – tells the Spartans to assist those at Syracuse
to resist Athens – effective – disaster in Sicily
- Spartans establish base at Decelea in Attica – defectors from Athens went to
this Spartan outpost/fort in Athenian territory
- according to Thucydides – disaster has to do with the treachery of Alcibiades
- Alcibiades fathers a child with the wife of a Spartan king
- Alcibiades must leave Sparta – results in a change in fortune for Athens
Stage 4: Athenian Recovery
- around 412-406 B.C.
- facing execution in both Sparta and Athens – Alcibiades must decide where to
- defects to Persians – takes refuge with Persian general
- redeems himself by helping from the Athenian view – attempted to pick up
the pieces with Athens – assist the Athenians with Persia – told them on two
conditions – oligarchical rule and to take back his conviction
- oligarchy of 400 replaces the democracy in Athens in 411 B.C., then the
5,000 replaces it, then democracy returns in 410 B.C.
- city is divided – unstable government
- Alcibiades regains position as Athenian general and between 411-408 B.C.,
he won a string of impressive victories – destroyed much of the Spartan navy
and returned conquered land
- Alcibiades is finally able to return to Athens as a conquering hero in 407 B.C.
– led a reinstitution of religious procession
- religious procession – powerful symbol for Alcibiades because of his previous
conviction on the basis of a religious sacrilege
- seen as a religious and military leader