Sparta and Athens | Owlcation
Athens and Sparta, both powerful Greek city-states, had fought as allies in the Greco-Persian Wars between and B.C. In the wake of. The two rivals of ancient Greece that made the most noise and gave us the most traditions were Athens and Sparta. They were close together on a map, yet far. The answer to this question depends upon the time period. In the Persian Wars, in the first third of the fifth century BCE, Athens and Sparta were begruding allies .
Many of the citizens of Attica abandoned their farms and moved inside the Long Wallswhich connected Athens to its port of Piraeus. The Spartans also occupied Attica for periods of only three weeks at a time; in the tradition of earlier hoplite warfare the soldiers were expected to go home to participate in the harvest.
Moreover, Spartan slaves, known as helots, needed to be kept under control, and could not be left unsupervised for long periods of time. The longest Spartan invasion, in BC, lasted just forty days. The Athenian strategy was initially guided by the strategosor general, Pericleswho advised the Athenians to avoid open battle with the far more numerous and better trained Spartan hoplites, relying instead on the fleet.
The Athenian fleet, the most dominant in Greece, went on the offensive, winning a victory at Naupactus. In BC an outbreak of a plague hit Athens. The plague ravaged the densely packed city, and in the long run, was a significant cause of its final defeat. The plague wiped out over 30, citizens, sailors and soldiers, including Pericles and his sons.
Roughly one-third to two-thirds of the Athenian population died. Athenian manpower was correspondingly drastically reduced and even foreign mercenaries refused to hire themselves out to a city riddled with plague.
The fear of plague was so widespread that the Spartan invasion of Attica was abandoned, their troops being unwilling to risk contact with the diseased enemy.
After the death of Pericles, the Athenians turned somewhat against his conservative, defensive strategy and to the more aggressive strategy of bringing the war to Sparta and its allies. Rising to particular importance in Athenian democracy at this time was Cleona leader of the hawkish elements of the Athenian democracy.
Led militarily by a clever new general Demosthenes not to be confused with the later Athenian orator Demosthenesthe Athenians managed some successes as they continued their naval raids on the Peloponnese. Athens stretched their military activities into Boeotia and Aetoliaquelled the Mytilenean revolt and began fortifying posts around the Peloponnese. One of these posts was near Pylos on a tiny island called Sphacteriawhere the course of the first war turned in Athens's favour.
The post off Pylos struck Sparta where it was weakest: The helots made the Spartan system possible, but now the post off Pylos began attracting helot runaways.
In addition, the fear of a general revolt of helots emboldened by the nearby Athenian presence drove the Spartans to action. Demosthenes, however, outmanoeuvred the Spartans in the Battle of Pylos in BC and trapped a group of Spartan soldiers on Sphacteria as he waited for them to surrender.
Weeks later, though, Demosthenes proved unable to finish off the Spartans. After boasting that he could put an end to the affair in the Assembly, the inexperienced Cleon won a great victory at the Battle of Sphacteria.
The Athenians captured Spartan hoplites. The hostages gave the Athenians a bargaining chip. After these battles, the Spartan general Brasidas raised an army of allies and helots and marched the length of Greece to the Athenian colony of Amphipolis in Thrace, which controlled several nearby silver mines; their product supplied much of the Athenian war fund. Thucydides was dispatched with a force which arrived too late to stop Brasidas capturing Amphipolis; Thucydides was exiled for this, and, as a result, had the conversations with both sides of the war which inspired him to record its history.
The Spartans and Athenians agreed to exchange the hostages for the towns captured by Brasidas, and signed a truce. Peace of Nicias Main article: Peace of Nicias With the death of Cleon and Brasidaszealous war hawks for both nations, the Peace of Nicias was able to last for some six years. However, it was a time of constant skirmishing in and around the Peloponnese.
While the Spartans refrained from action themselves, some of their allies began to talk of revolt. They were supported in this by Argosa powerful state within the Peloponnese that had remained independent of Lacedaemon.
With the support of the Athenians, the Argives succeeded in forging a coalition of democratic states within the Peloponnese, including the powerful states of Mantinea and Elis. Early Spartan attempts to break up the coalition failed, and the leadership of the Spartan king Agis was called into question.
Emboldened, the Argives and their allies, with the support of a small Athenian force under Alcibiadesmoved to seize the city of Tegeanear Sparta. The Battle of Mantinea was the largest land battle fought within Greece during the Peloponnesian War.
The Lacedaemonians, with their neighbors the Tegeans, faced the combined armies of Argos, Athens, Mantinea, and Arcadia. In the battle, the allied coalition scored early successes, but failed to capitalize on them, which allowed the Spartan elite forces to defeat the forces opposite them. The result was a complete victory for the Spartans, which rescued their city from the brink of strategic defeat.
The democratic alliance was broken up, and most of its members were reincorporated into the Peloponnesian League. With its victory at Mantinea, Sparta pulled itself back from the brink of utter defeat, and re-established its hegemony throughout the Peloponnese. Sicilian Expedition Main article: Sicilian Expedition Sicily and the Peloponnesian War In the 17th year of the war, word came to Athens that one of their distant allies in Sicily was under attack from Syracuse.
- Rivalry of Sparta and Athens in Ancient Greece
- Sparta and Athens
- Peloponnesian War
The people of Syracuse were ethnically Dorian as were the Spartanswhile the Athenians, and their ally in Sicilia, were Ionian. The Athenians felt obliged to assist their ally. The Athenians did not act solely from altruism: Syracuse, the principal city of Sicily, was not much smaller than Athens, and conquering all of Sicily would have brought Athens an immense amount of resources.Athens and Sparta
In the final stages of the preparations for departure, the hermai religious statues of Athens were mutilated by unknown persons, and Alcibiades was charged with religious crimes. Alcibiades demanded that he be put on trial at once, so that he might defend himself before the expedition. The Athenians however allowed Alcibiades to go on the expedition without being tried many believed in order to better plot against him.
After arriving in Sicily, Alcibiades was recalled to Athens for trial. Fearing that he would be unjustly condemned, Alcibiades defected to Sparta and Nicias was placed in charge of the mission.
After his defection, Alcibiades claimed to the Spartans that the Athenians planned to use Sicily as a springboard for the conquest of all of Italy and Carthageand to use the resources and soldiers from these new conquests to conquer the Peloponnese. The Athenian force consisted of over ships and some 5, infantry and light-armored troops.
Cavalry was limited to about 30 horses, which proved to be no match for the large and highly trained Syracusan cavalry.
Upon landing in Sicily, several cities immediately joined the Athenian cause. Instead of attacking at once, Nicias procrastinated and the campaigning season of BC ended with Syracuse scarcely damaged. With winter approaching, the Athenians were then forced to withdraw into their quarters, and they spent the winter gathering allies and preparing to destroy Syracuse. The delay allowed the Syracusans to send for help from Sparta, who sent their general Gylippus to Sicily with reinforcements.
Upon arriving, he raised up a force from several Sicilian cities, and went to the relief of Syracuse. He took command of the Syracusan troops, and in a series of battles defeated the Athenian forces, and prevented them from invading the city. Nicias then sent word to Athens asking for reinforcements. Demosthenes was chosen and led another fleet to Sicily, joining his forces with those of Nicias.
More battles ensued and again, the Syracusans and their allies defeated the Athenians. Demosthenes argued for a retreat to Athens, but Nicias at first refused.
After additional setbacks, Nicias seemed to agree to a retreat until a bad omen, in the form of a lunar eclipsedelayed any withdrawal. The delay was costly and forced the Athenians into a major sea battle in the Great Harbor of Syracuse.
The Athenians were thoroughly defeated. Nicias and Demosthenes marched their remaining forces inland in search of friendly allies. The Syracusan cavalry rode them down mercilessly, eventually killing or enslaving all who were left of the mighty Athenian fleet.
The Second War The Lacedaemonians were not content with simply sending aid to Sicily; they also resolved to take the war to the Athenians. On the advice of Alcibiades, they fortified Deceleanear Athens, and prevented the Athenians from making use of their land year round. The fortification of Decelea prevented the shipment of supplies overland to Athens, and forced all supplies to be brought in by sea at increased expense.
Perhaps worst of all, the nearby silver mines were totally disrupted, with as many as 20, Athenian slaves freed by the Spartan hoplites at Decelea. With the treasury and emergency reserve fund of 1, talents dwindling away, the Athenians were forced to demand even more tribute from her subject allies, further increasing tensions and the threat of further rebellion within the Empire. The Corinthians, the Spartans, and others in the Peloponnesian League sent more reinforcements to Syracuse, in the hopes of driving off the Athenians; but instead of withdrawing, the Athenians sent another hundred ships and another 5, troops to Sicily.
Under Gylippus, the Syracusans and their allies were able to decisively defeat the Athenians on land; and Gylippus encouraged the Syracusans to build a navy, which was able to defeat the Athenian fleet when they attempted to withdraw. The Athenian army, attempting to withdraw overland to other, more friendly Sicilian cities, was divided and defeated; the entire Athenian fleet was destroyed, and virtually the entire Athenian army was sold off into slavery. However, according to Thucydides the real cause of the war was Sparta's fear of the growing power of Athens.
Archidamian war[ edit ] Sparta entered with the proclaimed goal of the "liberation of the Greeks" — an aim that required a total defeat of Athens. Their method was to invade Attica in the hope of provoking Athens to give battle. Athens, meanwhile, planned a defensive war. The Athenians would remain in their city, behind their impenetrable walls, and use their naval superiority to harass the Spartan coastline. The arguments advanced in the assembly were that it would be a profitable possession and an enhancement of the empire.
They invested a large portion of the state resources in a military expedition, but recalled one of its commanders, Alcibiadeson a trumped-up charge of impiety some religious statues had been mutilated for which he faced the death penalty. Escaping in his ship he deserted to Sparta. Having defaulted on the inquiry he was convicted in absentia and sentenced to death.
At first Sparta hesitated to resume military operations. The success of Sparta and the eventual capture of Athens in BC were aided partly by that advice. He induced Sparta to send Gylippus to conduct the defence of Syracuseto fortify Decelea in northern Attica, and to adopt a vigorous policy of aiding Athenian allies to revolt.
The next year they marched north, fortified Deceleiacut down all the olive groves, which produced Athens' major cash crop, and denied them the use of the countryside. Athens was now totally dependent on its fleet, then materially superior to the Spartan navy.
Collecting a significant force from Sicily and Spartan hoplites serving overseas he took command of the defense. The initial Athenian force under Nicias had sailed boldly into the Great Harbor of Syracuse to set up camp at the foot of the city, which was on a headland. Gylippus collected an international army of pro-Spartan elements from many parts of the eastern Mediterranean on the platform of liberation of Greece from the tyranny of Athens.
Ultimately the Athenian force was not large enough to conduct an effective siege. They attempted to wall in the city but were prevented by a counter-wall.
A second army under Demosthenes arrived. Finally the Athenian commanders staked everything on a single assault against a weak point on the headland, Epipolae, but were thrown back with great losses.
They were about to depart for Athens when an eclipse of the full moon moved the soothsayers to insist they remain for another nine days, just the time needed for the Syracusians to prepare a fleet to block the mouth of the harbor.
Attempting to break out of the harbor they were defeated in a naval battle. The admiral, Eurymedonwas killed. Losing confidence in their ability to win, they abandoned the remaining ships and the wounded and attempted to march out by land. The route was blocked at every crossing by Syracusians, who anticipated this move.
5a. Rise of City-States: Athens and Sparta
The Athenian army marched under a rain of missiles. When Nicias inadvertently marched ahead of Demosthenes the Syracusians surrounded the latter and forced a surrender, to which that of Nicias was soon added. Both leaders were executed, despite the protests of Gylippus, who wanted to take them back to Sparta.
Several thousand prisoners were penned up in the quarries without the necessities of life or the removal of the dead. After several months the remaining Athenians were ransomed. The failure of the expedition in was a material loss the Athenians could hardly bear, but the war continued for another ten years.
Intervention of the Persians[ edit ] Spartan shortcomings at sea were by this time manifest to them, especially under the tuteledge of Alcibiades. The lack of funds which could have proved fatal to Spartan naval warfare, was remedied by the intervention of Persia, which supplied large subsidies. In the agents of Tissaphernesthe Great King's governor of such parts of the coast of Asia Minor as he could control, approached Sparta with a deal. The Great King would supply funds for the Spartan fleet if the Spartans would guarantee to the king his ancestral lands; to wit, the coast of Asia Minor with the Ionian cities it was not really Persian ancestral land.
An agreement was reached. A Spartan fleet and negotiator was sent to Asia Minor. The negotiator was Alcibiades, now persona non grata in Sparta because of his new mistress, the wife of King Agis, then away commanding the garrison at Deceleia. After befriending Tissaphernes Alcibiades was secretly offered an honorable return to Athens if he would influence the latter on their behalf. He was a double agent, The Spartans received little money or expert advice.
Athens and Sparta: Similar Yet Different
He sent his brother, Cyrus the youngerto relieve Tissaphernes of his command of Lydia. Tissaphernes was pushed aside to the governorship of Caria. Exposed, Alcibiades departed for Athens in In his place Sparta sent an agent of similar capabilities, a friend of King Agis, Lysanderwho as "a diplomat and organizer Upgrade of the Spartan fleet proceeded rapidly.
In Alcibiades returned as the commander of an Athenian squadron with the intent of destroying the new Spartan fleet, but it was too late. He was defeated by Lysander at the Battle of Notium. The suspicious Athenian government repudiated its arrangement with Alcibiades.
He went into exile a second time, to take up residence in a remote villa in the Aegean, now a man without a country. Lysander's term as navarch then came to an end.
He was replaced by Callicratidas but Cyrus now stinted his payments for the Spartan fleet. The funds allocated by the Great King had been used up.
On Callicratides' defeat and death at the Battle of Arginusae the Spartans offered peace on generous terms. The Delian League would be left in place. Athens would still be allowed to collect tribute for its defense.
The war party at Athens, however, mistrusted Sparta. One of its leaders, Cleophonaddressed the assembly wearing his armor, drunk. He demanded the Spartans withdraw from all cites they then held as a precondition of peace. The assembly rejected the Spartan offer. It undertook a new offensive against Spartan allies in the Aegean. Together they formulated an appeal to Sparta that Lysander be sent out for a second term.
Both Spartan political norms and the Spartan constitution should have prevented his second term, but in the wake of the new Spartan defeat a circumvention was found. Lysander would be the secretary of a nominal navarch, Aracuswith the rank of vice-admiral. Lysander was again entrusted with all the resources needed to maintain and operate the Spartan fleet.
Cyrus supplied the funds from his own resources. The Great King now recalled Cyrus to answer for the execution of certain members of the royal family.
History of Sparta - Wikipedia
Cyrus appointed Lysander governor in his place, giving him the right to collect taxes. Lysander then sailed at his leisure for Athens to impose a blockade. If he encountered a state of the Delian League on his way he gave the Athenian garrison the option of withdrawing to Athens; if they refused, their treatment was harsh.
He replaced democracies with pro-Spartan decarchies under a Spartan harmost. The terms of surrender[ edit ] After the Battle of Aegospotami the Spartan navy sailed where it pleased unopposed. A fleet of ships entered the Saronic Gulf to impose a blockade on Piraeus. Athens was cut off. In the winter of the Athenians sent a delegation to King Agis at Deceleia proposing to become a Spartan ally if only they would be allowed to keep the walls intact.
He sent them on to Sparta. The delegation was turned back on the road by the ephors. After hearing the terms they suggested the Athenians return with better ones.
The Athenians appointed Theramenes to discuss the matter with Lysanderbut the latter had made himself unavailable. Theramenes found him, probably on Samos. After a wait of three months he returned to Athens saying that Lysander had delayed him and that he was to negotiate with Sparta directly.
A board of nine delegates was appointed to go with Thermenes to Sparta. This time the delegation was allowed to pass. The disposition of Athens was then debated in the Spartan assembly, which apparently had the power of debate, of veto and of counterproposition.
Moreover, the people in assembly were the final power. Corinth and Thebes proposed that Athens be leveled and the land be turned into a pasture for sheep. Agis, supported by Lysander, also recommended the destruction of the city. The assembly refused, stating that they would not destroy a city that had served Greece so well in the past, alluding to Athens' contribution to the defeat of the Persians.
Instead the Athenians were offered terms of unconditional surrender: The Athenians could keep their own land. The returning delegates found the population of Athens starving to death. The surrender was accepted in assembly in April,27 years after the start of the war, with little opposition.
History of Sparta
A few weeks later Lysander arrived with a Spartan garrison. They began to tear down the walls to the tune of pipes played by young female pipers. Lysander reported to the ephors that "Athens is taken. It is doubtful that the Spartans could have predicted that it would be Thebes that would someday pose a serious threat, later defeating the Spartans at the Battle of Leuctra. Lysander's political opponents may have defended Athens not out of gratitude, but out of fear of making Lysander too powerful.
Thirty Tyrants In the spring of BC, the terms of surrender required the Athenians to tear down the long walls between the city and the port of Piraeus.