A New History of the Peloponnesian War

A New History of the Peloponnesian War

Copyright Date: 1987
Edition: CMB - Combined volume
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 1700
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    A New History of the Peloponnesian War
    Book Description:

    A New History of the Peloponnesian War is an ebook-only omnibus edition that includes all four volumes of Donald Kagan's acclaimed account of the war between Athens and Sparta (431-404 B.C.): The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War, The Archidamian War, The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition, and The Fall of the Athenian Empire. Reviewing the four-volume set in The New Yorker, George Steiner wrote, "The temptation to acclaim Kagan's four volumes as the foremost work of history produced in North America in the twentieth century is vivid. . . . Here is an achievement that not only honors the criteria of dispassion and of unstinting scruple which mark the best of modern historicism but honors its readers."

    All four volumes are also sold separately as both print books and ebooks.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6729-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. None)
  2. The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War

    • Front Matter to "The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War"
      (pp. i-vi)
    • Preface
      (pp. vii-xii)
    • Table of Contents
      (pp. xiii-xiv)
    • Abbreviations and Short Titles
      (pp. xv-xviii)
    • Introduction
      (pp. 1-6)

      Thucydides began to write a history of the war between the Athenians and the Peloponnesians because he expected that it would be “great and most worthy of the telling.” ¹ He was not disappointed, for in duration, extent, fierceness, and significance it surpassed all previous Greek wars. It was the “greatest upheaval that had come to the Greeks, to some portion of the barbarians, one might even say to the greater part of mankind.” ² From our viewpoint it was something even more; it was the crucible in which the life of the polis was tested.

      Even by ancient standards,...

    • Part One The Alliance System and the Division of the Greek World

      • 1. The Spartan Alliance
        (pp. 9-30)

        The Peloponnesian War was not fought by individual Greek states but by two great coalitions, the Peloponnesian League and the Athenian Empire. In some important ways the two were similar, each providing an example of what has been called an “Alliance Under a Hegemon.” ¹ Each was “an alliance of a leading state with a number of others, not limited in time or by any specific aim, implying a leading position of the one state in war, and soon also in politics, loosely organized at first, but clearly an attempt at a unit transcending the single state.” ² But in...

      • 2. The Origins of the Athenian Empire
        (pp. 31-48)

        The Athenian Empire resulted from Sparta’s unwillingness or inability to extend her power, influence, and responsibility to the Aegean and its borders after the Greek victories at Plataea and Mycale in 479. Those victories had not ended the war against Persia, for the Persians could come again. Even if this were ruled out, the agreements made by the Greeks at the congress of 481 called for continued joint activities against the Persian Empire. That congress created a confederation of Greek states that greatly influenced the formation of the Delian League, which became the Athenian Empire, and we must examine its...

      • 3. Sparta after the Persian War
        (pp. 49-56)

        The Spartan decision to abandon the leadership of the Aegean campaign against Persia had not been taken lightly. An unfortunate combination of circumstances had brought it about, and we may be sure that it left many Spartans dissatisfied. The Persian War had brought Sparta power, influence, and respect unprecedented among the Greek states, but it had also produced a formidable rival to its unique position of leadership. It had offered tempting opportunities for an extension of Spartan influence and power as well as a chance to gain great wealth, but it also brought the prospect of heavy military responsibilities far...

      • 4. Athens after the Persian War
        (pp. 57-74)

        In Athens there had been no opposition to participation in the Delian League and to continued war against Persia. Themistocles, his political opponents Aristides and Xanthippus, and the rising young politician Cimon all played a leading role in the foundation and early growth of an active policy in the Aegean. If Themistocles was the father of the naval policy, it was Aristides who won over the allegiance of the allies and presided over the formation of the league and the assessment of the tribute, Xanthippus who took command of the first campaigns in the Hellespont, and Cimon who vigorously led...

    • Part Two The First Peloponnesian War

      • 5. The War in Greece
        (pp. 77-97)

        Within two years of Cimon’s exile the Athenians were allied with a state that had rebelled from the Spartan alliance and was engaged in combat with several Peloponnesian states. The First Peloponnesian War was on. After the Spartan rejection of Cimon’s troops it could scarcely have been avoided. It is interesting to apply Thucydides’ judgment of the “truest cause” of the later war to the outbreak of this one. “I think that the truest cause but the one least spoken of was that the Athenians had grown powerful, which presented an object of fear to the Spartans and forced them...

      • 6. The Crisis in the Aegean
        (pp. 98-119)

        The disastrous defeat of the Egyptian expedition seriously challenged Athens’ hegemony in the Aegean. The Athenian response took them a long way towards converting their hegemony into frank and open domination. Thucydides is tantalizingly silent on the details of the transition from the Delian League to the Athenian Empire, but we are able to fill in some of the gaps by using the evidence of ancient inscriptions. With their aid we can piece together the steps in the evolution of the Athenian Empire and flesh out the bare statements of the ancient authors.

        In the early 450’s, Athens was fighting...

      • 7. The End of the War
        (pp. 120-130)

        For the time being at least, the imperial part of Pericles’ policy was going well. The other half, relations with Sparta, was not equally successful. In 449, soon after their rejection of Pericles’ invitation to the Panhellenic Congress, the Spartans embarked upon the so-called Sacred War, in which they took control of the temple of Apollo at Delphi away from the Phocians and turned it over to the Delphians.¹ The Phocians were allies of Athens by virtue of a treaty concluded in 454/3. It is likely that they had gained control of the sanctuary because of this alliance and the...

    • Part Three The Years of Peace

      • 8. Athenian Politics: The Victory of Pericles
        (pp. 133-153)

        One of the great dangers to peace in a world divided into mutually suspicious powers is political instability within each state. We have seen how internal political conflicts in both Athens and Sparta contributed to the outbreak of the First Peloponnesian War. If a renewal of that war was to be avoided, each side must pursue a steady policy of restraint and mutual reassurance, and such steadiness is very difficult to achieve under any constitution. It was the good fortune of Athens, however, that within a few years after the conclusion of peace, she attained a degree of political stability...

      • 9. Athens and the West: The Foundation of Thurii
        (pp. 154-169)

        Although the Athenian Empire lay to the north and east, Athens was not altogether uninterested in the west. As we have seen,¹ there were rumors that Themistocles had ambitions of western expansion, and it is not too much to believe that at the height of their success the more sanguine Athenians may have cast covetous eyes on the wheat fields, harbors, and precious metals of the Greek cities of Sicily and southern Italy. In the year 458/7, at any rate, when the victorious Athenians had not yet been sobered by the Egyptian disaster, they concluded a treaty with Egesta in...

      • 10. The Samian Rebellion
        (pp. 170-178)

        Late in the summer of 440 a war broke out between Samos and Miletus over the control of the town of Priene.¹ The quarrel presented a difficult imperial problem to the Athenians. Samos was a completely autonomous state, paying no tribute, one of only three states that possessed a navy, and that a very powerful one. Her constitution was oligarchic. Miletus, on the other hand, had revolted in the 450’s and been subdued. It paid tribute and had been deprived of a navy. A few years earlier, in 446/5, a second rebellion resulted in the establishment by Athens of a...

      • 11. The Consolidation of the Empire
        (pp. 179-192)

        The rebellions of Samos and Byzantium demonstrated that the imperial reorganization of 443/2 had not been completely successful. They had been accompanied by troubles in Thrace and defections in Caria. During 440/39, the years of the rebellion and siege, several Carian towns had already disappeared from the tribute lists. Caria had always been a difficult region to control because of its remoteness and because many of the towns were inland and practically within the Persian Empire. The revenue from these Carian towns was not great, and the cost of coercing them was hardly justified. At the same time, Caria had...

      • 12. Athenian Politics on the Eve of the War
        (pp. 193-202)

        The frankness, even bluntness, with which Pericles addressed the Athenians in the months before the war broke out and in the period of the war before his death bears testimony to the special position he had in their regard. This position he held because they respected and admired him for his political, military, and aesthetic achievements, for his long experience, and for his remarkable incorruptibility. Most important, the political situation in Athens gave him a very secure base of power.

        When the crisis at Corcyra erupted, Pericles stood without a rival. The opposition on the right had been leaderless for...

    • Part Four The Final Crisis

      • 13. Epidamnus
        (pp. 205-221)

        It is not uncommon for great wars to arise from incidents in remote places. The Second Punic War broke out as a result of a quarrel over the unimportant Spanish town of Saguntum. The Great War of 1914 was the consequence of an assassination in the Bosnian city of Sarajevo. But Saguntum was located near the frontier between Carthaginian territory and an area under Roman protection. Bosnia was in a region which had long been the subject of dispute between Russia and Austria, and it is common to speak of the Balkans as a cockpit where several wars had taken...

      • 14. Corcyra
        (pp. 222-250)

        The Corinthians had sent their troops to Epidamnus overland by way of Apollonia because they expected trouble from Corcyra, and their expectations were justified. The Corcyreans were prepared to stand aside and let the Epidamnians destroy one another, but they could not allow the Corinthians to establish themselves in a colony belonging to Corcyra. When they learned that garrisons and new settlers had arrived and that the Epidamnians had given the colony over to Corinth, they were annoyed. Their angry response showed their customary arrogance and their failure to appreciate the seriousness of the Corinthian undertaking.

        As we have seen,...

      • 15. Megara
        (pp. 251-272)

        After the news of Sybota and the Corinthian seizure of Anactorium reached Athens, the chances of conflict were greatly increased, and the Athenians were compelled to take steps in case war should come. The policy of Pericles was to make Athens ready for war with Corinth but to avoid any step that might involve Sparta or make Athens guilty of a technical breach of the peace.

        Perhaps Athens’ most vital resource in a war was money, so Pericles took steps to see that the Athenian treasury would be full if and when war came. We have the stone containing the...

      • 16. Potidaea
        (pp. 273-285)

        Certainly the most clear-cut instance of Athenian preparation for a war with Corinth after the Battle of Sybota was the ultimatum the Athenians delivered to Potidaea. The Potidaeans, who lived on the isthmus connecting the peninsula of Pallene with the Chalcidice bordering on Thrace and Macedonia, were in the anomalous position of being tribute-paying allies of Athens, but at the same time loyal colonists of Corinth who received annual magistrates from the mother city. In the winter of 433/2, perhaps in January, the Athenians ordered them to pull down the city walls on the side of Pallene, to give hostages,...

      • 17. Sparta
        (pp. 286-316)

        The Athenian siege of Potidaea further angered the Corinthians and intensified their haste to bring Sparta into a war against the Athenians. Corinthian citizens were in the besieged city, and at any moment it might surrender, exposing the loyal colony of Corinth to Athenian vengeance. The Corinthians hurried to their Peloponnesian allies, urging them to go to Sparta. Among those who sent delegates were the Aeginetans, who did so secretly out of fear of Athens. They immediately joined the Corinthians in persuading the others who had come that Athens had broken the treaty.¹ It is worth emphasizing that even at...

      • 18. Athens
        (pp. 317-342)

        Between August of 432 and the Theban attack on Plataea that began the war in March of 431, the Spartans sent no less than three embassies to Athens claiming to offer means of avoiding the war. Such offers would in any case be very suspect, coming as they did from a state and an alliance that had already agreed on a war against Athens. That suspicion is not diminished for us by the way in which Thucydides reports the purpose of the missions: the Spartans sent them “so that they might have the best possible pretext for war if the...

    • Part Five Conclusions

      • 19. The Causes of the War
        (pp. 345-356)

        It was Thucydides who invented the distinction between the underlying, remote causes of war and the immediate causes. In his history of the Peloponnesian War he considered the immediate causes, which in fact went back almost five years before the actual commencement of hostilities, to be far less important than the more remote cause that arose from the growth of the Athenian Empire almost fifty years before the start of the war. Thucydides’ view that the war was the inevitable consequence of the growth of that empire, its insatiable demand for expansion, and the fear it must inspire in the...

      • 20. Thucydides and the Inevitability of the War
        (pp. 357-374)

        Our investigations have led us to conclusions that differ from those of Thucydides and the majority of modern scholars. That is a sobering thought, for perhaps it is only arrogance and a peculiar perversity that have led to such conclusions. A glance at the history of the question, however, may acquit us of these charges, for over the years Thucydides’ account of the causes of the war has been found unsatisfactory even by those who accept his explanation.

        One of the keenest analyses of the problem was made by Eduard Meyer,¹ who finally decided that Thucydides was correct. But his...

    • Appendixes

      • A. The Willingness of the Members of the Delian League to Accept Athenian Leadership
        (pp. 377-378)
      • B. The Historicity of Diodorus’ Account of the Spartan Assembly in 475
        (pp. 378-379)
      • C. Chronology of Events between ca. 470–453
        (pp. 379-380)
      • D. Reconstruction of the Athenian Tribute Lists
        (pp. 380-381)
      • E. The Papyrus Decree
        (pp. 382-382)
      • F. The Foundation of Thurii
        (pp. 382-384)
      • G. Athenian Actions in the West between the Wars
        (pp. 384-386)
      • H. Athenian Treatment of Byzantium
        (pp. 386-387)
      • I. The Date of Pericles’ Pontic Expedition
        (pp. 387-389)
      • J. The Site and Date of Brea
        (pp. 389-390)
      • K. The Date of the Battle of Poteadia
        (pp. 391-392)
    • Bibliography
      (pp. 393-404)
    • General Index
      (pp. 405-412)
    • Index of Ancient Authors and Inscriptions
      (pp. 413-417)
    • Index of Modern Authors
      (pp. 418-423)
  3. The Archidamian War

    • Front Matter to "The Archidamian War"
      (pp. 1-6)
    • Preface
      (pp. 7-8)
      Donald Kagan
    • Table of Contents
      (pp. 9-12)
    • Abbreviations and Short Titles
      (pp. 13-16)
    • 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...

    • 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....

    • 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...

    • 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 of time...

    • 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...

    • 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...

    • 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...

    • 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...

    • 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...

    • 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,...

    • 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...

    • Appendix A: Pericles and Athenian Income
      (pp. 363-364)
    • Appendix B: Pericles’ Last Speech
      (pp. 365-368)
    • Bibliography
      (pp. 369-376)
    • General Index
      (pp. 377-385)
    • Index of Modern Authors
      (pp. 386-387)
    • Index of Ancient Authors aud Inscriptions
      (pp. 388-393)
  4. The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition

    • Front Matter to "The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition"
      (pp. 1-6)
    • Preface
      (pp. 7-8)
      Donald Kagan
    • Table of Contents
      (pp. 9-12)
    • Abbreviations and Short Titles
      (pp. 13-16)
    • Part One. The Unraveling of the Peace

      • [Part One. Introduction]
        (pp. 17-18)

        In March of 421, after ten years of devastating, disruptive, and burdensome war, the Athenians and the Spartans made peace on behalf of themselves and those of their allies for whom they could speak. Weariness, the desire for peace, the desire of the Athenians to restore their financial resources, the Spartans’ wish to recover their men taken prisoner at Sphacteria in 425 and to restore order and security to the Peloponnesus, the removal by death in battle of the leading advocate of war in each city—all helped to produce a treaty that most Greeks hoped would bring a true...

      • 1. A Troubled Peace
        (pp. 19-32)

        No amount of relief and rejoicing by the Spartan and Athenian signers of the Peace of Nicias could conceal its deficiencies. The very ratification of the peace revealed its tenuous and unsatisfactory character, for the Boeotians, Eleans, and Megarians rejected the treaty and refused to swear the oaths. ¹ Nor did Sparta’s recently acquired allies in Amphipolis and the rest of the Thraceward region accept the peace, which required them once again to submit to the unwelcome rule of Athens. ² The Spartans and Athenians drew lots to see who should take the first step in carrying out the treaty,...

      • 2. The Separate League
        (pp. 33-59)

        After the Spartan-Athenian alliance was concluded, the ambassadors from the Peloponnesian states that the Spartans had been unable to persuade to join in the Peace of Nicias left for home. The Corinthians were an exception. They went instead to Argos, where they held conversations with some of the Argive magistrates. ¹ The Corinthians argued that the alliance between Athens and Sparta could have no good purpose, that it must be aimed at the “enslavement of the Peloponnesus,” and that the Argives must take the lead in a new alliance to save the Peloponnesians from such a fate. ² Corinth seemed...

      • 3. The Alliance of Athens and Argos
        (pp. 60-77)

        While waiting for the Argive negotiators, the Spartans sent envoys to take charge of Panactum and the Athenian prisoners in Boeotian hands so that they could restore both to the Athenians. They found that the Boeotians had destroyed the fort, but they received the prisoners and proceeded to Athens to make the best case they could for the restoration of Pylos. They handed over the prisoners and argued that Panactum was properly restored, even though demolished, for it could no longer harbor hostile forces. ¹ This bit of sophistry did not impress the Athenians. They insisted that Panactum should have...

      • 4. The Challenge of the Separate League
        (pp. 78-106)

        Athenian goals in making an alliance with the Peloponnesian democracies were far from clear. Different Athenians, in fact, may have supported the compact for different reasons. Some may have seen it as chiefly defensive, as a check to prevent any Spartan activity outside the Peloponnesus. Others may have hoped that by committing only small numbers of Athenian men and ships they might support a movement that would destroy the Peloponnesian League at little or no risk to Athens. Bolder Athenians may have hoped to bring on a single battle in favorable circumstances that would destroy Sparta’s power. Thucydides does not...

      • 5. The Battle of Mantinea
        (pp. 107-137)

        Late in August of 418 Sparta learned of the threat to Tegea. ¹ The Spartans responded with unprecedented swiftness,² sending word to their remaining Arcadian allies to assemble and meet them at Tegea. At the same time they sent messengers to their northern allies in Corinth, Boeotia, Phocis, and Locris to come to Mantinea as quickly as possible. The Arcadians could be counted on, but the northerners were a less reliable element. The most obvious difficulty was that since the fall of Orchomenus the obvious and easily passable routes from the north to Mantinea lay in hostile hands. The northern...

      • 6. After Mantinea: Politics and Policy at Sparta and Athens
        (pp. 138-156)

        In the summer of 417, probably in August, the Argive democrats broke out in rebellion against the ruling oligarchs. ¹ Preparations for the revolt had been going on for some time, for the rule of the Argive oligarchs seems to have been hard to bear. As Grote pointed out, “an oligarchy erected by force upon the ruins of a democracy was rarely of long duration.”² Once the lower classes of any Greek state became accustomed to the democratic way of life, they could not peacefully accept the restoration of oligarchic rule. The oligarchs, for their part, after long exclusion from...

    • Part Two. The Sicilian Expedition

      • [Part Two. Introduction]
        (pp. 157-158)

        Early in June of 415 a large and magnificent Athenian force sailed out of the Piraeus bound for Sicily. ¹ Some two years later this and a second, reinforcing armament were wiped out; almost all the men were killed, and a great fleet was lost. Athens was never able fully to replace the losses, material and human, or to recover the prestige and confidence that she had enjoyed before the disaster. Thucydides names this defeat alone among “the many blunders” the Athenians committed after the death of Pericles which helped bring on Athens’ final defeat, giving it special significance in...

      • 7. The Decision to Attack Sicily
        (pp. 159-191)

        The great Athenian expedition against Sicily, like so many pivotal actions in the history of warfare, came about in response to an unforeseen opportunity. In the winter of 416/15 ambassadors representing the Sicilian city of Segesta (also Egesta) and a faction of Leontines asked the Athenians to help them in a war against the neighboring city of Selinus and its protector, Syracuse. ¹ Segesta seems to have become an Athenian ally in the mid-fifth century;² Leontini may have joined with Athens at about the same time, but certainly made a treaty of alliance with her in 433/32. ³ The Athenians,...

      • 8. Sacrilege and Departure
        (pp. 192-209)

        Preparations for the Athenian expedition to Sicily went forward with enthusiasm. Allied contingents were summoned, and at Athens there was money in the treasury and a fresh crop of soldiers who had grown to manhood in time of peace. ¹ But not everyone looked forward to the expedition with hopeful anticipation, and in the two months or so between the decision to sail and the departure for S icily several kinds of opposition appeared. ² Plutarch tells us that “the priests” were opposed to the expedition without saying what priests he means or how many they were. In any case,...

      • 9. Athenian Strategy and the Summer Campaign of 415
        (pp. 210-227)

        During these upheavals in Athens the great armada was bound for Sicily. The Athenian contingent joined the allies at Corcyra, and the commanders mustered their forces for a final review. The navy consisted of 134 ships, 100 from Attica and the others from Chios and other allied states. Sixty of the Athenian ships were fighting triremes, the remaining 40 being troop carriers. ¹ The main land force was the corps of 5,100 hoplites. There were 1,500 Athenians from the regular list, and 700 thetes serving as marines. The Argives sent 500 hoplites and there were 250 mercenaries, some of them...

      • 10. The First Attack on Syracuse
        (pp. 228-259)

        The only strategy left to the Athenians was that of Lamachus, but though its author was present, the real leader of the army was Nicias. Thucydides makes clear how much the delay in putting Lamachus’ plan into operation had already cost the Athenians. The longer they delayed the attack on Syracuse, the more Syracusan courage revived. News that the Athenians had sailed away from Syracuse to the western end of the island and then failed to conquer it roused the Syracusans to contempt, and the excited mob demanded that their generals lead them in an attack against the Athenians at...

      • 11. The Siege of Syracuse
        (pp. 260-287)

        By the spring of 414 the time had come for the Athenians to attack Syracuse. During the w inter the generals had sent to Athens to ask for cavalry and money, and the Athenians quickly voted what was requested. ¹ The battle at the Anapus proved the superiority of the Athenian phalanx over the inexperienced and iII-organized Syracusan hoplites. The arrival of cavalry would allow the Athenians to invest the city on the land side, and their fleet could close it off by sea. There was little reason to expect any help for Syracuse from the Peloponnesus, and if assistance...

      • 12. Athens on the Defensive
        (pp. 288-307)

        News of the Athenians’ decision to reinforce their army and navy in Sicily reached Sparta late in the winter, perhaps in February of 413. Thucydides tells us that the Spartans were already preparing for the invasion of Attica that would formally renew the war. In addition to the usual preparations, they sent round to their allies to gather tools and iron for clamps with which they meant to build a permanent fort in Attica. The Corinthians, the Syracusans, and Alcibiades had been urging this course on them for some time, and Thucydides tells us that after Alcibiades’ speech the previous...

      • 13. Defeat on Land and Sea
        (pp. 308-328)

        Even as the Syracusans rejoiced in their victory and planned to exploit it further, the Athenian reinforcements under Demosthenes and Eurymedon arrived. After the fall of Plemmyrium, at about the time of the ambush of the Sicilian reinforcements by the Sicels, Demosthenes and Eurymedon had sailed from Corcyra to Italy. In lapygia they enlisted 150 javelin throwers, and at Metapontum 300 more, as well as 2 triremes. From there they moved on to Thurii, where the anti-Athenian faction had recently been driven out, making it easy to recruit 700 hoplites and 300 javelin throwers who might be expected to fight...

      • 14. Retreat and Destruction
        (pp. 329-353)

        Just as the Syracusan naval victory in the Great Harbor turned Athenian thoughts from victory to escape, so it led the Syracusans to think no longer of saving their city but of destroying the Athenian force. They believed that a total defeat of the Athenians in Sicily would end the war in the rest of Greece, bringing down the Athenian Empire and giving freedom to the Greeks. They thought that they would receive the credit for these achievements, gain honor and fame, and achieve the status of a hegemonal power, along with Sparta and Corinth. ¹ Determined to cut off...

    • Conclusions
      (pp. 354-372)

      The Peace of Nicias was a failure in its own terms. It had promised peace for fifty years but was formally broken in the eighth year of its existence; in fact it had already become little more than a formality by the summer of 420, when Athens joined the Argive League. It failed in the modest aim of bringing an end to the Peloponnesian War and in the more ambitious one of establishing the basis for a new relationship of peaceful tolerance, if not friendship, between Athens and Sparta. This failure is not surprising, for from the start the peace...

    • Bibliography
      (pp. 373-378)
    • General Index
      (pp. 379-386)
    • Index of Modern Authors
      (pp. 387-388)
    • Index of Ancient Authors and Inscriptions
      (pp. 389-394)
    • Back Matter
      (pp. 395-395)
  5. The Fall of the Athenian Empire

    • Front Matter to "The Fall of the Athenian Empire"
      (pp. i-vi)
    • Preface
      (pp. vii-xii)
      Donald Kagan
    • Table of Contents
      (pp. xiii-xiv)
    • Maps
      (pp. xv-xvi)
    • Abbreviations and Short Titles
      (pp. xvii-xx)
    • 1. After the Sicilian Disaster
      (pp. 1-23)

      The Athenian attack on Sicily, launched with such great expectations, ended in total failure. Nicias surrendered the pitiful remnants of his army to the Syracusans in mid-September of 413, so news of the defeat could not have reached Athens much before the end of the month. ¹ An ancient story says that the first report came from a foreigner who arrived at a barber shop in the Piraeus. Assuming that the Athenians had already heard of the disaster, he began talking about the details. The barber ran to Athens with the news, but no one would believe him. He was...

    • 2. The War in the Aegean
      (pp. 24-50)

      The last phase of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides tells us, started with both sides making preparations for it as if it were just beginning. ¹ Once again the initiative lay with Sparta while Athens stayed on the defensive, guarded her treasury, and watched over her allies. This time, however, there was no offensive element, not even a measured and limited one. After Sicily, the Athens of the probouloi had to be even more cautious than Pericles had been.

      Sparta, on the other hand, needed to be more aggressive and inventive, and under the leadership of Agis the Spartans were ready...

    • 3. Athens Responds
      (pp. 51-68)

      News of the Chian rebellion moved the Athenians to quick action, for they recognized the greatness of the danger threatening them: “the remaining allies would not want to remain quiet when the greatest state was in rebellion.”¹ In this emergency they took the serious step of turning to the reserve fund that they had put aside at the beginning of the war. One thousand talents had been placed on the Acropolis, not to be used unless an enemy fleet was attacking by sea, and the death penalty threatened any man proposing to use the fund for any other purpose. ²...

    • 4. Sparta’s Riposte
      (pp. 69-105)

      The withdrawal of Athens’ fleet from Miletus presented the Spartans and their allies with the chance to revive the rebellion in the Athenian Empire that had been almost extinguished and to extend it to new regions that were as yet untroubled. It might seem that they should have moved swiftly, using their temporary numerical advantage at sea to rescue Chios, which was the first state to rebel, an important source of support to the rebellion of others, and a key base for spreading the naval war to the vital area of the Hellespont, but a formidable set of problems prevented...

    • 5. The Revolutionary Movement
      (pp. 106-130)

      In 411 the Athenians entered the hundredth year since the expulsion of tyranny and the establishment of their freedom. For almost that entire period, since the reforms of Cleisthenes in 508/7, they had enjoyed a democratic constitution, moderate at first and more complete since the changes introduced by Ephialtes and Pericles toward the middle of the century. The passage of time and the growth of Athenian power and prosperity under the democracy had dampened almost all interest in trying to destroy it and replace it with oligarchy, the most common form of government among the Greeks. From time to time...

    • 6. The Coup
      (pp. 131-157)

      While Phrynichus, Astyochus, and Alcibiades were exchanging betrayals in Samos and Magnesia, the Athenian antidemocratic movement went forward. The ambassadors from the movement at Samos, led by Peisander, arrived in Athens late in December and probably stayed there during the period in which the correspondence passed between Samos and Magnesia and for some time afterwards. ¹ It is important to remember that the members of the embassy knew nothing of the events that raised new suspicions about Alcibiades and alienated the movement from him. Peisander and his colleagues would make their argument keeping Alcibiades and his promises at the center....

    • 7. The Four Hundred in Power
      (pp. 158-186)

      The coup was a complete success. The councillors took their money and left without trouble. The other citizens remained quiet and made no move to interfere. The Four Hundred appointed their presiding officers by lot, as in the old democratic council. They seem to have allowed the archon and the treasurers elected by the democracy to remain in office.¹ Every effort was made to preserve a sense of continuity, normality, and legality. No doubt this was meant to calm the people, to make the transition smoother, and to reduce the chance of violent resistance, but also it must have reflected...

    • 8. The Establishment of the Five Thousand
      (pp. 187-210)

      Alcibiades’ message did not reach Athens in its original form. The ambassadors returning from Samos must have reported first to the oligarchic leaders who sent them, and those leaders must have edited their report, for their account differed significantly from what Alcibiades had said. ¹ They told of his urging the men in Athens to hold out in the war and to make no concessions to the Spartans and of his hopes of reconciliation and victory, but they said nothing about his friendliness to the idea of the Five Thousand, his hostility to the rule of the Four Hundred, and...

    • 9. The War in the Hellespont
      (pp. 211-246)

      The moderate regime had moved to defend its position in Athens from betrayal by oligarchic extremists and from suspicions that its leaders were too closely associated with them. Before long, however, it faced a new external challenge to Athens’ control of the Hellespont, its grain supply, and the very survival of the city. In August of 411, a small but effective Peloponnesian fleet had made its way to Byzantium and caused a rebellion there and in some neighboring towns. ¹ The Spartans were unable to exploit the opportunity fully because of quarrels within the Peloponnesian forces and the hopes some...

    • 10. The Restoration
      (pp. 247-273)

      The great victory at Cyzicus took place in March or April of 410, and the news of it filled the Athenians with elation. ¹ The entire population came together in solemn assembly to offer sacrifices in gratitude to the gods.² The news of the Spartan disaster had the opposite effect on its population. In spite of unprecedented efforts at sea, reliable and consistent support from Pharnabazus, and an enemy distracted by lack of funds, they had experienced nothing but defeat since the scene of battle had shifted to the Hellespont. They had lost an astonishing number of ships, between 135...

    • 11. The Return of Alcibiades
      (pp. 274-292)

      The battle of Cyzicus took place in April or May of 410. In the next month or two, the generals in the Straits exploited their victory, chiefly by establishing a customs-house at Chrysopolis (see Map 9). ¹ For about eighteen months thereafter they appear to have done little of note. With the Spartans swept from the sea, future tasks of importance would require more hoplites than they had and cavalry to protect them against the able horsemen of Pharnabazus. ² They could, therefore, do little until reinforcements arrived. The Spartans used the lull in action as best they could. Over...

    • 12. Cyrus, Lysander, and the Fall of Alcibiades
      (pp. 293-324)

      The great procession to Eleusis took place in September, but Alcibiades had been in Athens since June without undertaking any serious military action. The delay was understandable; his ships needed attention and repair, and even more, their crews needed rest and recreation after years at sea. Alcibiades himself needed time to restore his political base before moving on, but the time had come to fulfill the high hopes the Athenians had for him. Not long after the triumphant return from Eleusis, the assembly had voted to place a force of 1,500 hoplites, 150 cavalrymen, and 100 triremes under his command....

    • 13. The Battle of Arginusae
      (pp. 325-353)

      The new board of generals elected in March of 406 excluded both Thrasybulus and Theramenes as well as any other close associates of Alcibiades. Its members were Conon, Diomedon, Leon, Pericles, Erasinides, Aristocrates, Archestratus, Protomachus, Thrasyllus, and Aristogenes. ¹ It has been common to analyze these elections in regard to the competition between political factions. The generals are said to belong to “the moderate democracy.”² In other words, they belong to “that democratic middle party that once saw its leader in Nicias and was as far removed from oligarchic aspirations as from the demagogy of the gutter.”³ These descriptions, however,...

    • 14. The Trial of the Generals
      (pp. 354-375)

      The victory at Arginusae ought to have brought relief, joy, and unity to the Athenians. Instead, it became the source of acrimony, division, and a public outrage that may have been the most shameful in Athenian history. Soon after their great triumph, six of the generals who commanded at Arginusae were condemned and executed by the Athenian people for whom they had fought so successfully; the other two escaped only because they had rejected the summons ordering them to return to Athens for scrutiny, going into voluntary exile instead. The charge against them was failing to rescue survivors of the...

    • 15. The Fall of Athens
      (pp. 376-412)

      The Athenian victory at Arginusae did not annihilate the Spartan fleet, but the more than ninety ships that survived it and gathered at Chios were in a bad way. All of the money supplied by Cyrus was gone, and none had arrived from home. The soldiers and sailors were reduced to working as hired laborers on the island as long as summer provided them with work and food. When the cold weather came, however, they found themselves without food, clothing, or shoes. Some of them became so desperate that they planned a mutiny and an attack on the main city...

    • 16. Conclusions
      (pp. 413-426)

      The irony of Xenophon’s words would have been evident to many who observed Athens’ surrender. Many Greek cities in Asia Minor were back in the hands of the Persians, soon to become pawns in the conflict for power between Tissaphernes and Cyrus. ¹ Others were already under Lysander’s domination. Not long after the Athenian surrender, the Spartan government established a naval empire in the Aegean, imposing narrow oligarchies, Spartan garrisons and governors, and tribute on the former subjects of the Athenian Empire. ² So ended Sparta’s crusade to bring freedom and autonomy to the Greeks.

      There were other ironies as...

    • Bibliography
      (pp. 427-432)
    • General Index
      (pp. 433-444)
    • Index of Ancient Authors and Inscriptions
      (pp. 445-452)
    • Index of Modern Authors
      (pp. 453-455)