The Archidamian War

The Archidamian War

Copyright Date: 1974
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 400
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Archidamian War
    Book Description:

    This book, the second volume in Donald Kagan's tetralogy about the Peloponnesian War, is a provocative and tightly argued history of the first ten years of the war. Taking a chronological approach that allows him to present at each stage the choices that were open to both sides in the conflict, Kagan focuses on political, economic, diplomatic, and military developments. He evaluates the strategies used by both sides and reconsiders the roles played by several key individuals.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6723-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-8)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 9-12)
  3. Abbreviations and Short Titles
    (pp. 13-16)
  4. 1. Plans and Resources
    (pp. 17-42)

    In the spring of 431 a band of more than three hundred Thebans, under cover of darkness, launched a surprise attack on the neighboring city of Plataea. Because Thebes was an ally of Spatta and the Plataeans were allied to Athens, this action was an open breach of the Thirty Years’ Peace of 445. So began the great Peloponnesian War, which lasted, with several interruptions, for twenty-seven years. Since ancient times the first ten years of the great war, concluded by the Peace of Nicias in 421, have been regarded as a unit and called, after the name of the...

  5. 2. The First Year of the War
    (pp. 43-69)

    In August of 432 the allies of Sparta voted to go to war against Athens, yet as the winter of 432/1 came to an end the Spartan alliance had taken no action. In fact, the Spartans in some of the intervening time had sent embassies to Athens to offer several plans for keeping the peace.¹ The Spartans, divided about the wisdom of fighting Athens, secure from attack by land, and having devised a strategy that bade them wait until the Athenian crops were full grown, were in no hurry to begin hostilities. Far different was the attitude of the Thebans....

  6. 3. The Plague and Its Consequences
    (pp. 70-100)

    In the seventh prytany in February or March of the Attic year 431/30 Pericles was re-elected to the generalship and with him his associates, Hagnon, Phormio, Xenophon, and Cleopompus.¹ The election was further evidence of his success in calming the Athenians and convincing them of the wisdom of his strategy. With steadfastness and reasonable luck they might expect to carry the war to the Peloponnesians somewhat more vigorously and to withstand their ravages with patience. Toward the beginning of May, about a month earlier than the previous year’s invasion, Archidamus again led two-thirds of the Peloponnesian hoplites into Attica to...

  7. 4. The Third Year of the War: Phormio
    (pp. 101-123)

    Early in the spring of 429, Pericles was once again chosen as general of the Athenians.¹ Thucydides explains the reversal of opinion as follows : “Not much later, as the mob loves to do, they elected him general again and turned everything over to him, for their individual feelings were less keen over their private misfortunes whereas for the needs of the state as a whole they judged him to be the ablest.” ² The explanation tells more about Thucydides’ view of the Athenian democracy than it does of the reasons for the change of opinion. No doubt the passage...

  8. 5. The Revolt at Lesbos
    (pp. 124-146)

    The death of Pericles left a vacuum in Athenian political life. No towering figure stood ready and able to exercise the enormous influence he had held. “Those who followed him,” said Thucydides, “were more equal with one another” and so not able to provide the unified, consistent leadership necessary in a war. Pericles has often been criticized for failing to provide a successor of equal stature, as by Beloch: “The personal regime, as it does everywhere, in Athens, too, allowed only mediocrities to arise. Pericles’ tools were intellectual zeroes who had no capacity for independent initiative.” ¹ That judgment depends...

  9. 6. Sicily and Corcyra
    (pp. 147-186)

    The winter of 428/7 provided the Spartans with time to lay careful plans to keep their promises to the people of Mytilene and to raise the Athenian siege of the island. The members of their alliance joined in the annual invasion of Attica, which they hoped would prevent the Athenians from sending a fleet to Lesbos. Archidamus must have been on his deathbed, for he did not lead the invasion as in the past nor did his son Agis. Instead Cleomenes, brother of the exiled King Pleistoanax, took the command in place of Pausanias, the son of Pleistoanax, presumably still...

  10. 7. Demosthenes
    (pp. 187-217)

    The commiunent of the Athenians to a more active policy is fully demonstrated by the campaigns they undertook in the spring and summer of 426. In Sicily, the Aegean, Boeotia, and northwestern Greece they moved aggressively to try to gain the upper hand in the deadlocked war. Scholars have usually assumed that the elections to the strategia in the spring of 426 were related to the new spirit of offensive warfare and brought to power men who were hostile to the former leaders and prepared to overthrow the former policy. We are told that “the shift in public opinion expressed...

  11. 8. Pylos and Sphacteria
    (pp. 218-259)

    As the campaigning season of 425 approached the Athenians continued to seek opportunities, as their means permitted, to damage the enemy and change the course of the war. The elections held in the spring of that year produced a board of generals representing a mixture of opinion similar to that held by the incumbent board. Sophocles, Eurymedon, and Pythodorus, all destined for the Sicilian campaign, were re-elected. The moderates elected Nicias and Nicostratus after a year’s hiatus, and also probably Autocles. The radicals, however, elected Demosthenes and possibly Lamachus. We cannot guess the affiliations of Aristides, who was also elected...

  12. 9. Megara and Delium
    (pp. 260-304)

    Cleon’s great success at Sphacteria led to his election as general in the spring of 424,¹ which with the re-election of Demosthenes and Lamachus has led some scholars to think that the elections were a victory for the “democratic war party.” ² This view is strengthened by the belief that Hippocrates, the nephew of Pericles, also elected in 424, was a member of the same faction. But Nicias, too, was re-elected, and with him his associates Nicostratus and Autocles. In addition we know of two other generals for 424/3, Eucles and Thucydides the historian. We know nothing of the political...

  13. 10. The Coming of Peace
    (pp. 305-349)

    In early spring 423, the Spartans and the Athenians agreed to a one-year truce in the hope and expectation of using the time to negotiate a more lasting peace.¹ It was about the same time as the election of the generals for 423/2, and though we can be sure of only two names on the list, Nicias and Nicostratus, we may believe that the friends of peace were well represented.² The truce shows evidence of considerable negotiation, and discussion must have occurred over a period of time to produce the final document. The initiative probably came, as usual since 425,...

  14. Conclusions
    (pp. 350-362)

    The end of the Archidamian War disappointed both sides, which is not surprising in light of the inadequate and ill-conceived strategy with which each entered the war. Thucydides implies and many have believed that the Spartans’ flaw was their lack of daring.¹ In the face of the growth of Athenian empire and power, “the Spartans, perceiving what was happening, did little to prevent it and remained quiet for most of the time, for even before this they were not quick to go to war unless they were compelled.” ² He also says that “the Spartans were the most convenient people...

  15. Appendix A: Pericles and Athenian Income
    (pp. 363-364)
  16. Appendix B: Pericles’ Last Speech
    (pp. 365-368)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 369-376)
  18. General Index
    (pp. 377-385)
  19. Index of Modern Authors
    (pp. 386-387)
  20. Index of Ancient Authors and Inscriptions
    (pp. 388-393)