Athens and Sparta: Similar Yet Different
"Asses the relationship between Athens and Sparta between BC – BC" The relationship between Athens and Sparta during the period in question was. The Peloponnesian War (– BC) was an ancient Greek war fought by the Delian League On the level of international relations, Athens, the strongest city- state in Greece prior to the war's beginning, was Friction between Athens and the Peloponnesian states, including Sparta, began early in the Pentecontaetia;. But given the otherwise good relations between Athens and Sparta, Sparta was not sufﬁciently sensitized to Athenian insults for war to result. Soon after the affair .
Athens proceeded to bring under its control all of Greece except for Sparta and its allies, ushering in a period which is known to history as the Athenian Empire.
Rivalry of Sparta and Athens in Ancient Greece
By the middle of the century, the Persians had been driven from the Aegean and forced to cede control of a vast range of territories to Athens.
At the same time, Athens greatly increased its own power; a number of its formerly independent allies were reduced, over the course of the century, to the status of tribute-paying subject states of the Delian League.
This tribute was used to support a powerful fleet and, after the middle of the century, to fund massive public works programs in Athens, causing resentment. The Spartans summoned forces from all of their allies, including Athens, to help them suppress the revolt.
Athens sent out a sizable contingent 4, hoplitesbut upon its arrival, this force was dismissed by the Spartans, while those of all the other allies were permitted to remain.
According to Thucydides, the Spartans acted in this way out of fear that the Athenians would switch sides and support the helots; the offended Athenians repudiated their alliance with Sparta. A fifteen-year conflict, commonly known as the First Peloponnesian Warensued, in which Athens fought intermittently against Sparta, Corinth, Aeginaand a number of other states. For a time during this conflict, Athens controlled not only Megara but also Boeotia ; at its end, however, in the face of a massive Spartan invasion of Attica, the Athenians ceded the lands they had won on the Greek mainland, and Athens and Sparta recognized each other's right to control their respective alliance systems.
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The rebels quickly secured the support of a Persian satrapand Athens found itself facing the prospect of revolts throughout the empire. The Spartans, whose intervention would have been the trigger for a massive war to determine the fate of the empire, called a congress of their allies to discuss the possibility of war with Athens. Sparta's powerful ally Corinth was notably opposed to intervention, and the congress voted against war with Athens.
The Athenians crushed the revolt, and peace was maintained. After suffering a defeat at the hands of their colony of Korkyraa sea power that was not allied to either Sparta or Athens, Corinth began to build an allied naval force. Alarmed, Corcyra sought an alliance with Athens, which after debate and input from both Corcyra and Corinth, decided to swear a defensive alliance with Corcyra.
At the Battle of Sybotaa small contingent of Athenian ships played a critical role in preventing a Corinthian fleet from capturing Corcyra.
In order to uphold the Thirty Years' Peace, however, the Athenians were instructed not to intervene in the battle unless it was clear that Corinth was going to press onward to invade Corcyra. However, the Athenian warships participated in the battle nevertheless, and the arrival of additional Athenian triremes was enough to dissuade the Corinthians from exploiting their victory, thus sparing much of the routed Korkyrean and Athenian fleet. During the subsequent Battle of Potidaeathe Corinthians unofficially aided Potidaea by sneaking contingents of men into the besieged city to help defend it.
This was a direct violation of the Thirty Years' Peace, which had among other things stipulated that the Delian League and the Peloponnesian League would respect each other's autonomy and internal affairs. It was alleged that the Megarians had desecrated the Hiera Orgas. These sanctions, known as the Megarian decreewere largely ignored by Thucydidesbut some modern economic historians have noted that forbidding Megara to trade with the prosperous Athenian empire would have been disastrous for the Megarans, and have accordingly considered the decree to be a contributing factor in bringing about the war.
This debate was attended by members of the league and an uninvited delegation from Athens, which also asked to speak, and became the scene of a debate between the Athenians and the Corinthians. Thucydides reports that the Corinthians condemned Sparta's inactivity up to that point, warning the Spartans that if they continued to remain passive while the Athenians were energetically active, they would soon find themselves outflanked and without allies.
The Athenian Empire, although based in the peninsula of Attica, spread out across the islands of the Aegean Sea; Athens drew its immense wealth from tribute paid from these islands.
Sparta and Athens
Athens maintained its empire through naval power. Thus, the two powers were relatively unable to fight decisive battles. While this invasion deprived Athenians of the productive land around their city, Athens itself was able to maintain access to the sea, and did not suffer much. 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.
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. 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.
Young boys were trained to be warriors; young girls were trained to be mothers of warriors. Athenian life was a creative wonderland. As an Athenian, you could get a good education and could pursue any of several kinds of arts or sciences. You could serve in the army or navy, but you didn't have to. This applied only to boys, however: Girls were restricted to other pursuits, not war or business or education. For many years, Spartan armies provided much of the defense of the Greek lands.
The Spartan heroism at the Battle of Thermopylaeduring the Persian Warsinspired all of Greece to fight back with all their might against the invading Persians. Athenian and Spartan fought side by side in the Battle of Plataeawhich ended Persian invasions of Greece.
One way that Athens and Sparta really differed was in their idea of getting along with the rest of the Greeks.
Rivalry of Sparta and Athens in Ancient Greece
Sparta seemed content to keep to itself and provide army and assistance when necessary. Athens, on the other hand, wanted to control more and more of the land around them. This eventually led to war between all the Greeks.
This was the Peloponnesian War.