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Flashcards in Timespan 4 Deck (6)
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Plague of Athens (430-428 and 426)

  • Pericles advised the Athenians not to try to expand their empire while they were at war
  • His war aims were for them to ‘win through’ - had a defensive strategy however, this failed due to the plague
  • Soon after the 2nd invasion in 430, the plague hit Athens
  • Effects were worsened by the cramming of people in Athens due to the evacuation of the Attican citizens from the countryside (due to Peloponnesian invasions)
  • Heat of the summer combined with a lack or water, shelter and sanitation caused the disease(s) to spread rapidly
  • Before beginning his narrative, Thucydides states that the plague did more damage than any other single factor
  • Pericles died of the plague

Revolt of Mytilene (428)

  • Mytilene on the island of Lesbos revolted - were received by the Peloponnesian League
  • Mytilene was an important ally - one of the only 2 remaining ship-providing allies (Chios being the other)
  • Athenians were incensed by the revolt and decided to vote for a motion of Cleon - that the entire population of Mytilene should be put to death
  • On the day after the vote, there was a change of heart and a second debate, where the decision was rescinded
  • Speeches as recorded by Thuc. are indicative of differing opinions at Athens towards their allies

Cleonymos Decree (426) and Thoudippos Decree (425)

  • Both treaties insisted on the tightening up of tribute collections and placed penalties on officials who failed in their duties to exact the tribute
  • Thoudippos Decree - tribute from allies was increased across the board
  • Total rising from the 460 talents levied by Aristeides and 600 talents at the start of the war to 1460 talents
    To continue the war, it seems that the Athenian allies had to pay more

Pylos and Sphacteria (425)

  • Athenian general, Demosthenes, fortified a position on the promontory of Pylos in the SW coast of the Pelponnnese
  • Tactic of building a fort on enemy territory is known as epiteichismos
  • Demonsthenes was hoping to incide fresh revolts among the helots living there - most of the helot population were living in Messenia
  • The Spartans immediately withdrew from their annual invasion of Attica once they knew of this, after shortest stay of 15 days - helot revolt was Sparta’s main concern, reason behind their occasional reluctance to leave the Pelponnese or deal with foreign affairs
  • Demosthenes pursued a more aggressive offensive strategy than the defensive strategy proposed by Pericles
  • Spartans occupied the island of Sphacteria, hoping to control the entrance to the harbour below the promontory - Athenians would have nowhere safe to shelter
  • The Athenians secured the harbour and isolated the Spartan hoplites on the island of Sphacteria
  • Spartans arranged an armistice before sending an embassy to Athens to call for peace
  • Cleon encouraged the assembly to ask for better terms - evidently popular with the people
  • He called for a return of those places that Athens had given up as part of the terms of the 30 Year Peace - Nisaea, Pegae, Troezen and Achaea
  • Spartans could not accommodate such demands and returned empty-handed
  • Later in 425 - Athens realised that they would not be able to continue the blockade through the winter
  • Regretted that they had not taken the peace offer
  • Led to disagreement between Cleon and general Nicias
  • Nicias offered to relinquish his command if Cleon thought that he could do a better job
  • Cleon claimed that he would take the island within 20 days - appeared arrogant as he had no military experience
  • Spartans fell back under sheer weight of numbers
  • Cleon and Demonsthenes offered to cease the attack if the Spartans surrendered
  • Spartans surrendered - caused ‘much more surprise among the Hellenes than anything else that had happened in the war’
  • Reputation for never surrendering and fighting to the death, gained at Thermopylae in 480, collapsed
  • lost military superiority
  • Athenians brought the Spartan prisoners to Athens and threatened to kill them if there was another invasion in Attica - using them as leverage, making the prisoners human-shields
  • Brought about a change to Spartan strategy
  • Cleon’s power at Athens was increased as a direct result

Brasidas in Thrace (424)

  • ‘great reputation’, ‘shown himself to be so valuable in his country’
  • Athens had many allies in the Thrace-ward region - rich in both minerals and timber
  • Timber - vital for Athenian ship-building
  • Aristophanes - Athenian allies were ‘ripe for revolt’
  • Brasidas first approached the city of Acanthus
  • Different factions within the city were unsure as to whether to receive him with open arms - however, spoke words of liberating/freeing the Greeks - they were persuaded
  • At the same time, the Athenian generals Demosthenes and Hippocrates tried to turn several Boeotian cities - in an attempt to re-establish their land empire
  • Captured Amphipolis - Thucydides followed him, he reached there first
  • Knew that inhabitants were mostly allies and not native athenians
  • Thuc. - the ‘excellent reputation which he won for himself on all sides he left behind a rooted conviction that the rest were also like him’
  • allies viewed Spartans as respectful and courteous as Brasidas, more likely to revolt from Athenian rule - Thuc

Peace of Nicias (421)

  • With Cleon and Brasidas dead - peace made sense
  • Athens - suffered defeats at Delium and Amphipolis - confidence damaged and many questioned the current war strategy of expeditionary warfare in contrast to Pericles’ original defensive strategy.
  • Also must have feared that the allies would revolt
  • Sparta - wanted to regain men captured at Sphacteria, lost their military reputation, Athens had established fortified positions at Pylos and Cythera (epiteichismos) and helots were deserting
  • Sparta needed peace with Athens - 30 year truce with Argos was due to end
  • Were worried that Peloponnesian allies would defect to Argos
    Negotiations with Athens were led by King Pleistoanax - only recently been restored to Sparta
  • Plutarch - ‘people were ready to believe, in fact, Nicias was the man responsible for the peace as Pericles had been for the war’

Cities that Sparta had to give back: 2 categories

1) Athenians could treat as they saw fit those that had firmly resisted Athenian authority - Amphipolis, Scione (this meant death in accordance with Cleon’s edict) and Torone
2) Most of the other cities were allowed to hold onto their newly-found independence as long as they continued to pay the original tribute set by Aristeides in 478, rather than the increased tribute recorded on the Thoudippos Decree of 425 - worked with Spartans as they had persuaded the allies to rebel in the name of freedom

  • A key weakness of the Peace of Nicias was the fact that it was related very much to Athens and Sparta and was less focused on relations between Athens and the Peloponnesian League.
  • Many of Sparta’s powerful allies, such as the Boeotians,Corinthians, Eleans and Megarians, were not happy with the treaty and did not accept the terms - treaty doomed from the start