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The Decline of Sparta

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Western University
History 2173
Barbara Murison

Oct, 25, 2012 The Decline of Sparta and the Ascendancy of Thebes Spartan Dominance – 404-371 BC: -After the defeat of Athens, Sparta and Thebes began competing for the city states (Athens later joins in) -The balance of power shifts a lot during this time and the same is for political alliances and war was a fact of life -Persia remained part of the equation and they were still interested in Greece and working from the sidelines -To the north a new power was growing that would over take the Greek cities and eventually end the period of city states and this was Macedonia -We know they did win the 2 ndPeloponnesian war and they were in a good position for a while but there were weaknesses in their mode of fighting and at Sphacteria this is demonstrated -In 425 the Athenians were occupying Pylos the area around this city and the Spartans lost a naval battle to them -The Spartans advance with their hoplites but they can’t make ground against the Athenians who had lighter armed forces not carrying heavy shields and the Spartans were being harassed by sling shots and other light weapons and their commander was killed so they went to an abandoned fort and another group surprised them at their rear -The Spartans were surrounded and exhausted and they surrendered and 292 of them were taken prisoner and this was shocking for the rest of Greece but still the Spartans won the war -Its power was questioned by other Greek states like Athens, Thebes, and Corinth and these groups made a coalition which led to a league who were worried about Spartan power Corinthian War – 395-386 BC: -The Persian Empire paid the rebelling city states to fight against Sparta and their interest was clear -The Spartans had grown out of the idea that they would never leave the Peloponnese and Persia wanted to force a retreat of Sparta out of one of their cities King Agesilaus of Sparta: -Was a great military leader who was more imperialistic in his interests and his troops seized the Persian city of Sardis and they seemed like they would control Asia Minor The King’s Peace – 386: -Didn’t really settle things but it did finish the war which was good because Sparta was fighting on two fronts (against city states and Persia) and this helped Sparta to have a few more years of domination in Greece but Thebes and Athens resented this and this led to another conflict Start of the Boeotian War – 378: Battle of Leuctra – 371: -Seemed to show that the Spartans could really be beaten if their opponents didn’t face them with a regular phalanx and the Thebans deepened one wing of their phalanx and this was hugely effective against them -Sparta was toiling a bit after this and their professional army was dwindling because of the lack of citizen males -Some would say their diplomacy was flawed and many states in the Peloponnesian league started to defect -From this defeat to 360 is the time when Thebes was dominating Greece but not without opposition from Athens Battle of 2ndMantinea – 362: -By this time no really clear victor had emerged among the warring city states but this battle is thought of as a Theban victory even though the states can’t resolve their conflicts and they are all exhausted -Epaminondas of Thebes was a great general who was killed at this battle and this was a great loss Changes in Greek Warfare: -There is a growth of professionalism in the forces (Spartans had always been professional) -This was foster
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