Professor Donald Kagan: In the year 401 the
prince of Persia, Cyrus, who was a younger son
and had recently succeeded the King of Persia,
Artaxerxes, his older brother, was in power.
Cyrus had always been ambitious for achieving the job of Shah in
Persia and his mother had worked on his behalf,
but it hadn't paid off. He was not prepared to accept
the verdict and so he set out in the year 401 to launch a scheme
that would bring him to the throne of Persia,
and his scheme was to hire a good sized army of Greek
mercenaries and to trick them into becoming the army that
would defeat the army of his brother Artaxerxes,
and make him king. As it turned out,
one of the men who joined up on that expedition was an Athenian
cavalryman by the name of Xenophon,
and he left an account of that experience in a work that is
called in Greek, the Anabasis,
which means "the march back." But it's the story of how
this body of roughly 10,000 Greek hoplite mercenaries,
marched into the heart of the Persian Empire,
defeated the army of the great king--but in the process Prince
Cyrus himself was killed and since the whole point of the
expedition was to make him king there wasn't any point any
longer. The great question--I've told
you about this earlier in the semester, what should these
10,000 Greeks do? They end up,
after their generals are put to death by treachery,
to elect new generals and to fight their way out of the
empire back to the Black Sea, which was the easiest way for
them to get home, and then to do whatever it was
they would do.
It was a very important event because--and I think
Xenophon's account of it was very,
very important because it planted in the minds of many
Greeks a new notion that the vast,
powerful, wealthy empire of the Persians was remarkably
vulnerable, and that it was possible,
and many thought highly desirable, for the Greeks to
turn the tables on the Persians, to invade Persia,
and to take from it, to subdue it,
and to take from it the vast wealth that the Persians had,
and we shall see down through the years of the fourth century
different speakers will come out and speak or write urging that
the Greeks do exactly this. Isocrates, the Athenian teacher
of rhetoric, was the foremost figure who kept seeking somebody
who would undertake this chore. One of the reasons that he
gave for it more than once was that Greece was suffering,
and, of course, had been for some time,
from poverty produced by war and most particularly by civil
wars between democrats and oligarchs that became more and
more common in the fourth century,
and his solution was if you need money, steal it.
So, take it from the Persians and that would put an end to the
troubles. Well, of course,
none of the Greek city states was capable of establishing
leadership in Greece during the period we're studying now,
so that it could carry out Isocrates' wishes.
So, he turned to a man that the rest of the Greeks regarded as,
or many of the Greeks regarded as a barbarian,
the King of Macedon Philip, and urged him to take on that
course, and apparently whether it was Isocrates or simply the
idea itself, Philip himself did intend to do
exactly that, to conquer the Persian Empire,
but he was killed before he could do it and the job was left
to his quite young son, Alexander, who in fact
accomplished it; but we're looking down the road.
Let's go back to 401 and there we see this expedition of
10,000 Greeks accomplishing what I mentioned to you.
That there could be 10,000 Greek hoplites available for
such a purpose I think is a consequence of the Peloponnesian
War. It shows us how much that war
had helped to uproot people and to impoverish many of them,
so that the idea of becoming a mercenary soldier for a Persian
prince was attractive enough to take them away from home,
something that would have been less likely in the prosperous
years before the Peloponnesian War.
Well, of course, that aside, that is a kind of a
side show, it doesn't very much affect what is happening to the
Greek cities on the coast of Asia Minor who remain the issue
as to what will happen. You remember,
these were under Athenian control during the Peloponnesian
War, and when the war was over they
were taken over in many cases by Lysander.
What was to happen to them ultimately still had to be
decided, because the King of Persia claimed that territory
still for his own. The Spartans had really agreed
to that in the treaties they made with the great king during
the Peloponnesian War, but now Lysander didn't see any
reason for carrying out those promises and so there was at the
very least conflict. Of course, what the cities
would have liked best of all was to achieve autonomy for
themselves and they claimed that and regarded the rule either by
Persian or by Spartan as improper and something to be
resisted. Well, Tissaphernes the
satrap of the region of Lydia and to the west,
the ones that included the Greek cities,
attacked those cities, which he claimed for the great
king but which cities were holding out.
Those cities in turn, because the great menace to
them for the moment was Persian, turned to Sparta the great
victorious power, and asked the Spartans to help.
In the year 400 and 399 the Spartans sent an army under a
general by the name of Thibron, who recruited about 6,000 of
those 10,000 men who had marched into the Persian Empire and who
still sought service as mercenaries rather than go home
to poverty, plus about 5,000 or so
Peloponnesians. All of the overseas activities
of the Spartans in these years include practically no Spartans.
They are just too short of troops to be risking them in
overseas ventures. So, they use their
Peloponnesian allies, they sometimes use mercenaries,
and they also use some of these folks I told you about the last
time who were neither this nor that.
The ones that they used on these campaigns are the ones
that we are calling neodamodes,
people who had been helots, but who were liberated and
permitted to fight for the Spartans,
and the notion of sending neodamodes overseas to
fight was very attractive to the Spartans,
because it got them out of Laconia, for one thing,
and provided them with soldiers as well.
So, that kind of army is the one that Thibron is now using to
fight against the Persians, who just a few years ago had
been the allies of the Spartans for control of the Greek cities
of Asia Minor. Now, meanwhile we have to
turn our attention to the sea, and especially to the island of
Cyprus. It's a Persian possession,
but on that island there are some cities that have a degree
of autonomy. One of them has as its king a
man called Evagoras, and he is very ambitious for
himself and for the Cypriotes, and so he is eager to fight
against the Spartans, presumably on behalf of the
great king, although his motives are not
made clear by our sources. Reasonable guess is that he may
have hoped by achieving something great for the great
king he might receive back thanks from the great king in
whatever form you can imagine. It might be allowing him to
rule over Cyprus, it might mean to give him
wealth, who knows, but also on the
island of Cyprus where he had taken refuge was the Athenian
Admiral Conon, who had been one of the
admirals at the final defeat at Aegospotomi.
He had escaped from that battle and had not gone home to
Athens; he felt that the air there
would not be healthy for somebody who lost the entire
fleet at Aegospotomi and so he went to Evagoras,
who it took good care of Conon and he was a great sailor.
One of the very most distinguished admirals in Greek
history, and he too now continued his feeling that
Sparta was the enemy. So, he joined Evagoras in
urging the great king to build a navy, which would then defeat
the Spartan navy, which would by itself rid Asia
of the menace of Sparta and be a great thing for the Persians.
Conon, I suspect, had some other hopes out of
this activity, which in fact will come to
fruition and I'll tell you about them in due course.
Well, the Spartans have their fleet out there and the king
agrees and he starts building a fleet of his own,
which will ultimately be a very large one indeed--some 300
ships, and the king puts Conon in charge of that fleet,
which is smart in a way because Conon is a great admiral.
Maybe not so smart if you look at what Conon is really up to.
In the face of these activities, the Spartans decided
to raise the ante and they sent an expedition into Asia Minor.
Thibron had not done very well and after about a year the
Spartans replaced him with another general by the name of
Dercyllidas, who does better,
but there's no decisive victory out there.
The war is dragging on and so they choose to send the new King
Agesilaus, who is the son of Aegis,
whose characteristics are among other things,
that he was born lame; he probably would not have been
allowed to live had he not come from the royal family,
but he did and he grew to be an ambitious, aggressive Spartan
King, who I suspect--I mean, a cheap psychology when you
have a handicap like that in a society which values physical
valor and strength, and military success so highly
as the Spartans did, you're twice as aggressive,
and twice as ambitious as an ordinary Spartan.
In any case, that was the way Agesilaus
turned out to be. Another interesting thing about
Agesilaus is that he had been the tent mate of Lysander and
it's hard to believe that Lysander could ever have
achieved the eminence that he did,
the command that was given to him, had he not been a friend of
the young man that people looked to as the next king,
or possibly the next king. But as yet, Agesilaus,
being a much younger man than Lysander, he seemed to be
deferential and everything was okay and so he was very keen on
doing what the Spartans did, which was to send Agesilaus out
with a new expedition to win the war against the Persians out
there. Agesilaus, it is plain,
had extremely lofty plans for himself and for this expedition.
The way the expedition worked, Agesilaus chose to leave with
his fleet from the town of Aulis, which is located in
Boeotia. Does anybody recognize the name
and think why Agesilaus should have wanted to leave from Aulis?
Tell us about it.Student:
[inaudible]Professor Donald Kagan: That's right.
Agamemnon took off for the Trojan War at Aulis,
and you remember how the legend goes.
The winds were against the Greeks, they wouldn't let the
ships get away, and they asked a holy man to
tell them what the gods were up to and the gods said,
well you can't go until you sacrifice your daughter,
your little daughter Iphigenia to the god for that purpose.
So Agamemnon did and the winds relented, and Agamemnon would
pay the price when he got back from Troy.
But it is precisely that the Greek fleet against the
barbarian, against the non-Greeks,
the most important ones in all of their legends,
namely the Trojans, it was at all Aulis that they
left and Agesilaus wanted to bring that to the mind.
He was the new Agamemnon and he was not leading a Spartan fleet
against the Persians, he was the spokesman for the
Greeks. He was the leader of the Greeks
revenging that original offense, whatever that might be.
He was trying to make the case for a panhellenic motive for
what was absolutely a strictly Spartan one and raising himself
to a legendary level practically.
Well, that turned out to be a mistake, because the Thebans
happened at that moment to be, as far as we can tell,
led by a faction that was very hostile to the Spartans.
So, as Agesilaus' people were setting up the altars for
sacrifices before they took off, along the road came a Theban
army, knocked over all of the altars, and asked them who the
hell invited him into Boeotia in the first place,
to get the hell out of there, grossly insulting Agesilaus and
forcing him to skulk out of Aulis,
not in the grand way that he had imagined.
This turned out to be very significant.
Agesilaus took it personally. He didn't like that,
and I suppose--well, never mind I was about to make
a bad joke, let it go. It had an enormous impact
on him because for the rest of his life Agesilaus will be
hostile to Thebes, and when he could he would
promote a policy of attacking Thebes, of trying to defeat it,
to subject it to Sparta, and a whole piece of Spartan
foreign policy, which was to be very costly and
damaging to Sparta was the result of Agesilaus' attempt at
vendetta against the Thebans.
Well, he goes to Asia and begins to encounter the
Persians. He does pretty well,
as always, Greek hoplites if they can get the Persians to
fight them in a nice flat field will beat them,
and he did that on several occasions, but he was never able
to bring a large force of Persians to battle,
so that he could really destroy a good chunk of Persian power in
the region so that the victories were not decisive.
They could not win the war, he could win the battles,
but you couldn't win the war, at least he didn't.
Meanwhile, things turned around against
the Spartans from the side that you might expect,
that is to say, from the sea.
Conon, with the Persian fleet, sailed against the very
important Island of Rhodes and captured it and brought it back
to--took it away from the Spartans in any case.
Where the Spartans went, you will remember,
they establish oligarchic governments,
and in this case the victorious Athenian admiral removed the
oligarchic government and in its place there rose up a democracy.
I'm sure the great king didn't care what kind of regime it was
for the moment, he just wanted to get rid of
the Spartans, which he did.
But it was, of course, on the Greek scene,
it was a great defeat for the Spartans and it was a challenge
to the Spartans. It was obvious that Conon,
at least, and who knew what might happen on the part of
other Greeks, were going to resist Spartan
power and Spartan aggressiveness,
and that if he wanted to come back,
then he would have to have a navy.
The Spartans set out to increase their navy to meet this
challenge and just to look ahead a few years,
as I think we need to at this moment, it was that Spartan
fleet that Conon defeated thoroughly and decisively a few
years later in 394 at the Battle of Cnidus,
which really puts an end for considerable time the whole idea
of Sparta fighting at sea entirely.
It really means that that approach--remember we were
talking last time about the three different possibilities
that the Spartans had to choose among,
and they chose for a while this thoroughly aggressive one
overseas, that's out now. If you had been defeated at
sea, you don't have a navy that can challenge your opponents,
you can't do it. As a matter of fact it will not
be very much longer when events in Greece compel them to
withdraw their army under Agesilaus and bring him back
home and no Spartan army ever goes back to Asia again.
We're looking ahead but the action that caused that was the
victory at Cnidus.
Now, of course, with the Spartans being
defeated in that part of the world, the Greek cities that
have been under Spartan rule now typically rebel against the
Spartan rule, and we must imagine that for a
few years there are really quite confused conditions in Asiatic
Greece. Some places may have continued
to be under Spartan rule, some may have continued to be
under Persian rule, no doubt about it,
some of them became autonomous. We just don't know what the
numbers were and there could have been mixtures of things
going on too. I make that point because when,
later on, a final settlement is produced there,
it is imposed upon a condition of confusion rather than simply
overthrowing a single thing that was characteristic across the
board. Still, many of those towns as I
say did return to Persian rule as well.
That's the situation which leads us to the next great event
in Hellenic history across the board.
The Corinthian War, as it is called,
which breaks out in 395 and runs down to 387-386,
so called because the bulk of the fighting on land was around
the city of Corinth. But it was a war that engaged
all of the major cities of Greece right around its core and
its center. I think a fair way to see it is
the cause of that war was, in its most fundamental sense,
Sparta's tyrannical behavior towards the other Greek cities
which produces a variety of reactions.
Let me remind you of some and tell you about some others that
we haven't talked about. Remember there were these
grievances that lingered from the end of the Peloponnesian War
when Spartan allies like Corinth and Thebes had been very
dissatisfied with the way the booty had been shared that came
from the defeat of the Athenians,
and you remember those two cities were aggrieved also
because the Spartans ignored their wishes as to what should
happen to Athens and went their own way there too.
I think I mentioned as well that in all contacts with
non-Spartans in this period, the Spartans seemed to be very
arrogant, very hard to get along with, and they certainly inspire
considerable unhappiness and discontent.
Those things you know about. Now in 402, the Spartans
launched a war against the polis of Elis located up
in the northwestern corner of the Peloponnesus.
Olympia is included in that area, just to help you fix it in
your mind. Now, the Spartans called upon
their allies to join them in this expedition,
as is their right, according to the traditional
rules of the game in the Peloponnesian League.
Thebes and Corinth refuse to send their contingents.
That is practically an act of rebellion against the Spartans.
It's a violation of their treaty agreements and it shows
you how much irritation there existed between them.
The whole campaign seemed to these states very annoying
because why were the Spartans attacking Elis,
partly because they had a continuing debate,
a conflict with them about a border town,
the old stuff. But also I think as an act
of revenge, because the Elians had been disloyal during the
Peloponnesian War, during the Peace of Nicias
after 421, Aulis was one of the four democracies that joined up
in this new separate league that ended up fighting against the
Spartans for a period of time. At the great Battle of
Mantinea, in which the very existence of Sparta was at
issue, Elis was on the side of the enemies of Sparta.
So, that was why the Spartans suddenly decided to attack them
and the allies didn't think that was right, the ones who were
discontented in any case. So, that's in the
background, and all these other irritations that I have
mentioned, but it wasn't enough because
even if you were as mad as you could be at the Spartans and
determined to try to undo their effort at hegemony over the
Greeks, there was no easy way to think
of fighting them successfully. All of these states that were
discontented Thebes, Corinth, and as we will quickly
see, Athens as well, were isolated from each other.
They didn't belong to any common activity and they all
were not strong enough, individually,
to take on the Spartans. Moreover, there was the problem
if you wanted to fight these people, it would require money,
and all of them were short of funds for that purpose.
So the critical element necessary to create a coalition
that could undertake a war against Sparta--that decision
was made by the Persians. The King of Persia
presumably, although it very much looks like the new
satrap in that region--there were two
satraps in the western part of the Persian Empire
remember; the one whose capital is at
Sardis in Lydia, and the one whose capital,
or whose territory is along the Hellespont and the straits in
our old friend Pharnabazus from the Peloponnesian War,
and a new sIatrap in Sardis, both want this to happen and so
they find a Rhodian Greek and give him a batch of money and
send him to the Greek cities seeking out those factional
leaders who were known to be hostile to Sparta and offering
to give them some of the money that he was carrying,
which was not in itself a vast amount and certainly not enough
to fight in any war, but was obviously a sign of
good faith saying the King of Persia and his satraps in
this region are against the Spartans and would like for you
to put an end to the things you don't like that are happening in
the Greek world and he will support you with his money.
That, I think, turned out to be an absolutely
critical act. He went to a town I have
not mentioned that belongs in the company of the anti-Spartan
people at this point, of course is Argos,
the traditional enemy of Sparta running back at least into the
eighth century and perhaps further than that,
who seem to find themselves in a war with the Spartans at least
once a century and it looks like this is the time in the fourth
century for them. Argos is a democracy too,
and as you know that is a relevant fact.
Corinth is not a democracy, but they are so angry they want
to play too and they join up. Thebes, again,
it's hard to tell what the government is.
It looks throughout this entire period as oligarchy and
democracy may well have been very close to one another,
so that at any time one faction or the other may have the upper
hand. And, of course,
Athens, which is a democracy again.
Now, the Athenians have been very, very reluctant to do
anything to annoy the Spartans for very good reasons.
They have no navy, they have no walls,
and they have no money so to buck the Spartans would be an
act almost of suicide, because all the Spartans needed
to do was coming marching into Attica and they have no defense.
Up to now therefore they've been very, very careful not to
annoy. In fact in 402 when the Thebans
and Corinthians refused to go to Elis with the Spartans,
the Athenians sent their force, as they were required to do by
their treaty with the Spartans. But the new situation changed
things in Athens just as it did, perhaps even more than it did
in other cities. Now the great king--the
Persians were not the enemy, the Persians were going to
support the war, if they were ready to launch it
against the Spartans. There was no war yet I should
point out when this money is being handed out.
This is an effort to stir up that kind of activity.
Of course, the enemies of the policy refer to these transfers
of money as bribes and there's nothing in Greek practice or
Greek tradition to reject the idea that some of these Persian
coins ended up in the pockets of the men that they were given to,
but I don't think we really should think of them as bribes.
Most of the money was used for the purpose for which it was
intended, to help these leaders stir up support for a war
against Sparta. It was something they believed
in anyway, it was a source of their ability to carry out their
wishes. But as I say,
the Greeks didn't think there was anything wrong with picking
up a few bucks along the way. Now, a war breaks out on the
frontier between Phocis and Locris, two towns in central
Greece, both of which are quite close
to Boeotia, the land ruled by the Thebes.
The Spartans, and I think this was
probably--well, I'm pretty confident that it
was what--motivated by the Spartan unhappiness about
Thebes, the Spartans assist Phocis
against Locris, knowing that Thebes is allied
to Locris, and that this would be,
they believed and hoped, a pretext for war.
This was their chance to get even with the Thebans for all
the things that the Thebans had done that irritated them since
the war. So, Sparta invaded Boeotia;
their strategy to win this war was that they would invade
Boeotia from two sides. One army coming from central
Greece, from the region of Phocis and Locris,
where they were assisting the Phocians,
and another army being sent up from the Peloponnesus itself;
they do finally meet in 395 at a town in western Boeotia called
Haliartus where there is a battle,
and where by the way, Lysander is killed in the
fighting and removed from the scene.
But even before that happened, as it was clear that
the Spartans meant to fight the Thebans,
the Thebans went to Athens and asked the Athenians for help and
of course they had a case that was very attractive.
First of all, they certainly reminded the
Athenians of the roll Thebes had played in liberating Athens by
giving a home to Thrasybulus and his free Athenians when they
were in the position of defeating the Thirty Tyrants and
driving them out. I have a feeling they didn't
remind the Athenians about that little congress they had after
the war in which they suggested that they destroy all the
Athenians and take away their land and turn the whole place
into a great big cattle farm. I think they probably didn't
remember to mention that. But they had that reason,
but more important than that, was what they were saying,
you have a chance now to escape from your bondage to the
Spartans, where the Athenians certainly were and to
re-establish yourself as an autonomous polis along
with us and all the others who want to take away power from the
Spartans, which they are abusing so
terribly. Now, the remarkable thing
to me is that Xenophon, who very likely was there,
reports that the Athenian assembly voted unanimously in
favor. Well, it's worth pointing out,
of course, that the number one advocate of doing that,
of joining the rebellion against Sparta,
was Thrasybulus the great hero of the time that certainly made
a big difference. Thrasybulus had been one of the
cautious leaders before who had been against getting the
Spartans mad, because he knew Athens was
incompetent to fight them now, but with the Persian support
and with the prospect of forming a coalition against Sparta,
the strategic situation had changed and Thrasybulus now came
out a hundred percent for the war.
But unanimous vote in favor of the war, I can't imagine the
Athenian assembly giving unanimous vote in favor of
getting a drink of water. It's just so incredible to me.
So, how do I explain it? Well, I got to make it up.
I think if there was an overwhelming sentiment in favor
obviously the attractions were great but there were reasons to
fear. If you lose the price could be
very, very high. But I think what happened was
that the emotion was so strong at the moment that once it was
evident that there was a large majority in favor of the motion,
nobody wanted to be seen as being against it.
It would had the look of cowardice, of a lack of
patriotism, and people in these circumstances,
it has been my experience, hate to seem not to be going
along when everybody is enthusiastically going in a
particular direction. So that's how I interpret
Xenophon's remarkable testimony, but whatever the truth of it,
what is clear is the great enthusiasm, overwhelming
majority, they are prepared to fight for their true autonomy in
the war to come.
So, the coalition is finally formed.
Athens, Thebes, Corinth, Argos,
those are the main states on the mainland and they'll do most
of the fighting, but it's worth pointing out
that there are other places that join too.
Euboea, the island to the east of Attica, not surprising;
they're so thoroughly influenced by the Athenians.
That's not a great surprise but it's interesting that many a
town up in the north of the Aegean,
on the Chalcidice also joined in this anti-Spartan coalition,
and likewise, the region in the west on the
Ionian Sea of Acarnania also join, which I think suggests
that there was quite a lot of anti-Spartan sentiment in the
Greek world at this time, which very often comes about if
any state seems to be too strong, too powerful,
too much of a threat to what everybody else wants,
people tend to cut it down. Political scientists tend
to formulize this into the notion of--if you join up with
the most powerful state that's called bandwagoning,
what do they call it if you're against the--balancing,
that's the word. Sorry, I am weak in my
political science technology. Balancing is what's supposed to
happen; the truth of the matter is that
you never can tell which way states will go in these
situations and there you are. But in this case I'm simply
making the point that there was a lot of hostility to Sparta out
there and some people you wouldn't think of joined in
this, but it's the big four that
really matter and they do most of the fighting in the war.
Well, there's no point in going through the war in great detail;
just a few highlights, I think, need to be mentioned.
The largest highlight of all being how in the world are you
supposed to win this war, what is the strategy on each
side? It's remarkable how similar
they are. The Spartans want to gain
control of the isthmus of Corinth, it's Corinth and Megara
especially, so that they can get out into
central Greece and defeat their opponents individually in
Boeotia for the Thebans and Attica for the Athenians and
Corinth, of course, right there in the
isthmus. The other folks,
the big four, want to push into the
Peloponnesus where they can raise up rebellion of the helots
and the perioikoi and defeat the Spartans right there
and strip away their allies in the Peloponnesus.
So, each side basically has to gain control of the isthmus and
then move forward to carry out the conclusion of the war in
their favor, and the bottom line is neither
side is able to do it. The bulk of the fighting
throughout the years of that war surround the city of Corinth,
walls are put up by the Corinthians meant to keep the
Spartans out, they do so for a great chunk of
time, Spartans can take part of the
walls but they can't manage to take everything and to punch
through, and so for all these years
that's what happens. There are some big battles
that are fought. There's one in 394,
soon after the beginning of the war at Nemea,
which is located to the south of Corinth.
It's a very big tough standard hoplite battle,
both sides having strong armies, both sides fighting well
and determinedly. The Spartans technically
winning--it's one of those victories where you know who won
because they put up the trophy and they were able to collect
their dead, and the other guys had to ask
permission to collect their debt.
But it was another one of these victories that did not have
strategic consequences, neither side had been able to
destroy the other, neither side could now advance
into the region that they had to get to in order to make a
difference, so that I think is the major
story of that war. There's another event in there
that has interesting consequences for future Greek
warfare that deserves mentioning.
At a certain point in that war the Athenians,
under an extraordinary general by the name of Iphicrates,
had put together a force of light-armed troops,
not hoplites, people without hoplite armor
and shields who threw missiles at the other side,
probably mainly slingers, but they also would have been
spear throwers, throwers not thrusters,
and bowmen, and these guys could never confront the phalanx
in the normal way and they would normally not even be able to do
much harm in an extraordinary way,
but what was new was that Iphicrates had trained them as a
professional force, so that they could move swiftly
and together as a body in such a way as to be as effective as it
was possible for light-armed troops to be against a phalanx.
It happened that Iphicrates was able to maneuver a whole
division of Spartan soldiers in such a way that they got stuck
in a dead end, in a cal du sac,
and were absolutely victimized by Iphicrates light-armed forces
and about 600 men making up this division of the Spartan army
called a mora, were wiped out and the Greek
world was astonished by this, because no such thing had ever
happened before, and it led to the increased use
of well trained, light-armed infantry who play a
larger role. They never replace the
phalanx as the major form of land warfare but things become
more complicated in the fourth century as they have already
begun to be in the Peloponnesian War,
as you have different branches that are able to perform more
usefully than they were typically expected to do in the
Perhaps as big an event as any that occurred in that war was
the event I mentioned earlier. Conon, using the Persian fleet,
defeating the Spartan fleet at the Battle of Cnidus in 394.
But what does he do? Conon takes his victorious
fleet, sails back to Athens, the Athenians have already
begun the process of rebuilding their walls,
but now with the help of Conon's men and the money that
he carries and gives to them, they are building those walls
at a much faster clip and before the war is over the Athenians
will once again be a walled city,
with a walled port, and with long walls connecting
them. In other words,
the basis for having an independent naval policy will be
in place thanks to Conon's victory.
On top of which, he takes the Persian fleet and
goes to the Athenians and says, this is now your fleet and
suddenly the Athenians have again probably the biggest fleet
in the Greek world, just like that.
Similarly, or rather as a consequence of all this,
because for a while at least they are able to dominate the
Aegean Sea with these forces and with Conon around they regain
those famous islands that are so crucial to them,
the stepping stones to the Hellespont: Lemnos,
Imbros, Skyros--become Athenian owned again.
They also gain control of the scared Island of Apollo at
Delos. They also make an alliance with
the important Island of Chios and suddenly you have what are
the bare beginnings of the reconstruction of the old
Athenian naval alliance; you might want to call it an
empire. Let me make it very clear that
even when they become far more powerful in years to come,
they are never able to recreate the old Athenian Empire.
They never reach the point which was so decisive for their
power where it is truly an empire where almost every state
in the league is contributing money,
which allows the Athenians to not only build but to sustain in
peace time and war time the biggest navy and the best navy
around. They never get there.
They do become very important as a naval power
again, they are going to be a very significant state again,
but even though they are turning in that other direction
they never get there. But I think we need to remember
that probably there's a very good chunk of the Athenians,
who regard those days as the good old days and as the natural
state of things, and is the place to which they
ought to be going towards that empire.
Certainly a lot of their behavior in the Corinthian war
and afterwards suggests that that was a widespread opinion.
There was, undoubtedly, also hostility to that opinion
as people look back on the experience of what happened last
time, look at the consequences. There were important
socioeconomic political significance of pursuing such a
policy; it meant democracy,
it meant a naval democracy, it meant the most extreme
democracy, and a lot of people's memories,
especially those of the rich were of the mistakes and defeats
that that democracy had brought about.
When you read Plato, particularly about the Athenian
democracy, or even Aristotle, I think you have to remember
that these people were very, very critical of what the
Athenian democracy had done in the fifth century,
blamed the democracy for that defeat, and then that was tied
up with their political views in general that democracy was a
very bad wicked thing, and that should help you
understand this very strong bias against democratic government on
the part of such people.
Another special event in the course of the Corinthian War,
which would have some consequence for Greek life later
on, during that war there was a
union between the cities of Corinth and Argos.
It was brought about by a special emergency situation
created by the war in which all the fighting was around Corinth
in which there was terrible destruction of Corinthian
property, in which poverty came to be a
problem with Corinth in a way that it had never been.
There was a topsy-turvy situation.
It had been throughout the whole fifth century back into
the sixth century--an oligarchic government,
a broad oligarchic government, one that was widely thought to
be a good government, and that so far as we know was
never touched until sometime here in the Corinthian War when
these extreme conditions produced what looks like a
democratic faction, which seized power,
which murdered the leaders of the opposition in a brutal way.
By the way, on a holy day, it was a memorable and horrible
event. So, it was after that event had
taken place that you see this union between Argos,
which is a democracy, and this democratic government
in Corinth, which is under siege for the reasons that I have
suggested, and what they do is they
arrange for a new situation where citizens of one state will
be citizens of the other as well.
So, theoretically, if you lived in Corinth and you
wanted to go to Argos to sit in on the Argive Assembly you could
do it and vice versa. This is something absolutely
new. The idea of anything but a
polis being by itself or being on top of other
poleis, but the notion of their being a
sharing of a regime interpoleis sharing of
governmental responsibilities is really new,
and it becomes more usual in the course of the next century
and the century after that. This one hardly lasts at all;
it's just a few years as a consequence of the war,
and it's undone at the end of the war.
But it's an indication of what people might be thinking about
and we shall see that in the course of this century there
will grow up federations--that's something different,
but still it's the same thing in a way.
A federation is a political union that allows for the
maintenance of local powers on the part of the original
members, but also takes some powers for
a central body, which is made up of more than
one. We Americans of course have
some idea about that, but there was the Arcadian
League that came into being, and the Achaean League that
came into being, and the Aetolian League which
came into being, and as a matter of fact our
founding fathers read very carefully about these
experiments in federal government as they were writing
the American Constitution, we have hard evidence about
that. The best evidence for those
confederations does not occur in our period, it occurs later,
typically in the third and the second centuries B.C.,
and the accounts of them are in the works of Polybius,
if you're ever interested. So, Polybius was a very
important figure for the American founding fathers who
wrote the Constitution. But the first seed of this kind
of interstate cooperation on a basis that was not merely
alliance, but was co-citizenship is in
the case of Corinth and Argos in the course of this war.
Well, as the war dragged on, it became clearer and
clearer that neither side had any way of prevailing.
But another thing that happened that was to play a very
important part in how the war came to an end was that the
Athenian control of the sea was rapidly making Athens stronger
and stronger, and more like that scary thing
which Athens had been to its neighbors and its opponents in
the fifth century B.C., such that the Persians,
who after all, had started the war by virtue
of encouraging the anti-Spartan factions to get together and had
been supporting it to some degree during the war in
general, began to feel that maybe Athens
was becoming more frightening from the Persian point of view
than Sparta was. After all, Sparta was out of
the navy business now and they were not likely to be able to
get back into it, and if you don't have a navy
you really can't threaten Persia very much, at least until
Alexander came along and figured out a way to do it.
So, all of that gives the Spartans, who really want to get
out of this war, because it isn't going
anywhere, the hope that they can bring
about a peace and so the Spartans try to make peace with
the aid of Persia. There's a Spartan political
figure by the name of Antalcidas who emerges on this scene,
and we shall see in his life, the few times we hear about him
he's always engaged in attempting to contain Sparta's
ambitions, to certainly exclude the
possibility of overseas commitments and I would argue,
I think most scholars would agree, even not to be engaged
outside of the Peloponnesus very far.
He seems to represent a traditionalist point of view,
which obviously comes to the fore as this war,
which the Spartans have started really as part of Agesilaus'
aggressive policy, isn't working.
The Spartans are having to constantly fight,
they are suffering casualties, their allies are becoming more
and more restive, and look what's happened,
suddenly Sparta which was absolutely in charge of
everything is practically on the defensive.
So, for all these reasons there's opposition to the bold
policy and Antalcidas represents that.
He gets the Spartan assembly or the Spartan gerousia in
efforts to support a mission to the King of Persia in which he
tries to negotiate a peace. It doesn't work in large
part, because the enemies, that is Athens and Thebes
particularly, and perhaps the others--sorry
Corinth and Argos also, and I'll tell you why in a
moment, are not ready to do what is
necessary from the Spartan point of view.
What the Spartans really want is to break up this coalition
and all anti-Spartan coalitions. That's really the bottom line
for Sparta. There's no sense making peace,
if you leave these people in tact.
What's to stop the whole thing from happening again in the
future? That's the bottom line and they
are unable to persuade the Greeks to make the concessions
that are necessary. So, the war continues and
nothing really changes except things get worse.
This time Antalcidas again negotiates a peace and he really
negotiates it with the great King of Persia.
The King of Persia has changed his mind about where the
great threat comes from. Thrasybulus in the 390s,
in the latter part of the 390s, engages in a series of naval
campaigns all around the Aegean Sea in which he recovers one
city after another that used to be under Athenian rule and once
again puts it under Athenian rule.
He even once again starts collecting money from them.
He did something also that the Athenians had done late in the
Peloponnesian War; he establishes a customs house
in the Hellespont in the Bosporus and every ship that
goes through pays a tax to the Athenians.
So, there's a real feeling in Persia obviously that the
Athenians are coming back to rebuild their empire,
and we better stop them and the Spartans are safer from our
point of view having been chasing by events,
and so I think that's probably the single most important reason
why the great king comes out and backs,
and as we shall see, insists on a peace in Greece
which meets Sparta's needs and the needs are that all these
international organizations should be broken up.
Obviously, the league of four states that
have conducted the war must stop, but on top of that,
the union between Argos and Corinth must be broken up;
that's especially critical to the Spartans.
That's right next door. Argos would be strengthened by
its association with Corinth and if it were allowed to continue,
it would be a problem in the future.
So, it had to be broken up. Thebes, of course,
was a great problem for the Spartans and they insisted that
before peace was to come, the Thebans had to give up
their control of Boeotia. They had used the war as an
opportunity to reconstruct the old Boeotian League,
which left Thebes at the head and in control of the bulk of
Boeotia that was to be broken up in order to reduce Theban power.
Originally, the Spartans had wanted the
Athenians to give up the things that they had acquired in the
course of the war but they couldn't do that.
Athens was still too strong in the one field that they couldn't
be challenged in easily -- their control of the sea and so a
compromise had to be made if a peace was to be made.
Athens would not join unless it was allowed to keep Lemnos,
Skyros, Imbros. So, that was permitted.
So the peace came and the critical part--Xenophon reports
the exact language of a message that King Artaxerxes sent to the
Greeks that was in effect the instrument that made the peace.
Here's what it said, "King Artaxerxes thinks it just
that the cities in Asia, and the islands of Klazomenai
and Cyprus shall belong to him. Further, that all the other
Greek cities, small and great,
shall be autonomous." Listen to that word,
that's critical. This peace is associated with
the principle of autonomy, there shall be no breach of
autonomy except, says the king,
"Lemnos, Imbros and Skyros which shall belong to Athens as
in the past. If any refuse to accept this
peace, I shall make war on them, along with those who are of the
same purpose, both by land and sea and with
both ships and money." Ancient writers and modern
writers have disagreed as to what is the name of this peace,
some of them speak of the Peace of Antalcidas,
more of them I think speak, and I think they're right in
this decision, as the King's Peace.
This is not the product of a negotiation and the king is
very careful even though it really is,
but he's very careful to make it clear that that's not the way
he sees it. This is a command leveled by
the king at the Greek states saying, this is how you will be,
I say so, and if you don't like it I will beat the hell out of
you. That's the message that comes.
But, of course, the reason he can say that,
with as much confidence as he does, is that his partner in the
peace is Sparta. This is a peace that will
benefit Persia and benefit Sparta at the expense of
everybody else. The Spartans take it as a
license to run Greece in the way that they see fit.
Notice nobody says that the Spartans have to break up the
Peloponnesian League, that doesn't count as any kind
of a violation of autonomy and so that's the nature of the
peace, whether among the results are
that the Asiatic Greeks are abandoned by the Greek states
once and for all, and of course that means Sparta
mainly, until finally Alexander will impose his rule when he
conquers the Persian Empire. The Boeotian League is
dissolved, Argos and Corinth are split, and Athens loses all that
has been gained except for those three islands that are
mentioned. Sparta regains,
and in a certain sense, gets greater control of the
mainland Greek situation. It is the hegemon of
Greece now as a kind of a partner of the great king,
and the great king leaves Greece essentially to the
Spartans without any interference.
How did he do that? In the same way that they did
it to win the Peloponnesian War. An enemy of the Spartans would
say because they were Medizers, they had done the work of the
Persians; they had collaborated with the
Persians against the Greeks. That's now how the Spartans saw
it of course; they would have something
like--I guess there's a crack in Plutarch somewhere,
it says, we have not Medized; it's the Persians who have
Spartanized, but that's a very kind way of looking at it.
It is without question, if you look back on it,
we're talking just about 100 years after the Persian war and
it's a reversal of the Persian Wars.
The Greeks won the Persian Wars and the proof of it was
they chased the great king out of Europe,
eager to stay alive and completely unable to do anything
about what the Greeks were to do with the coastal regions of the
Persian Empire. Now the King of Persia is
telling the Greeks what they must do.
It was widely seen as a cause for great shame and by those
people who were not friendly to Sparta a great cause of anger
against the Spartans, who were responsible for this
condition of things. But the Spartans didn't care
much, because they were now in a position to exercise the power
that the dominant force in Sparta,
who is Agesilaus and his supporters, wanted to do.
So, in 385 we see the Spartans attacking the city of Mantinea.
Once again, the story is very much like the story of Aulis in
402. This time Mantinea had been
again, one of those states in the Peloponnesus that had joined
in a quadruple alliance against Sparta in 421,
the great battle that so much threatened Spartan existence in
418 had been fought on the territory of Mantinea.
It had a democratic history and democratic tendencies.
So, with no pretext really at all, the Spartans invaded
their territory, besieged the city,
managed finally to defeat Mantinea by diverting the waters
of a river that ran through Mantinea to the point where it
undermined the walls and they had to surrender.
Xenophon learns an important lesson about warfare from this
event and he concludes his account of this by saying,
well, that shows you that you should not build your city
around the river. So, if any of you are planning,
keep that in mind.
Then soon afterwards, the Spartans turn on another
city in the Peloponnesus, the city of Phlyus,
which is to the southwest of Corinth, not a very big city but
not a small tiny one either, and what it turns out here is
that the thing that the Phylasians have done that the
Spartans don't like is that they have been a democracy for part
of the time. King Agesilaus basically
removes the government after fighting a war and besieging the
city. It was not an easy task,
it was expensive and time consuming, but they do gain a
victory and Agesilaus puts in a new government made up not just
of oligarchs, which of course they were,
but they were the personal friends of Agesilaus.
If you look at it, historically it resembles the
stuff that Lysander was doing at the end of the Peloponnesian War
and afterwards in placing these decarchies of his friends
in the cities, so that they would not be only
pro-Spartan but pro-Lysander, and here Agesilaus did the same
thing in Phylus and it's not the only place that he did.
Then enormity followed enormity as the Spartan power was
unchecked in this period of time.
Up in the north the city of Olynthus, in the Chalcidic
peninsula was gaining control of that peninsula,
basically establishing itself as the hegemonal power over
cities in that region. In 383, a couple of cities up
in that region came to Sparta complaining of what the
Olynthians were doing and urging the Spartans to defend them and
to undo these things, using as the basis for their
appeal the King's Peace. This was a violation of their
autonomy; the Spartans were to be the
upholders of Greek autonomy according to the King's Peace,
and so they ought to send a force up.
The Spartans did so and in the course of that war which
lasted from 382 to 379, they defeated Olynthos,
dissolved the confederacy, and destroyed again any notion
of a league other than the Spartan League.
There was an event that was connected with that movement up
towards the northeast, up to the Chalcidice,
which was the most famous, I think--there's a small
competition for a couple of events,
but one of the most famous anyway in this period
illustrating the arrogance and power of the Spartan hegemony,
a Spartan force was sent off ostensibly to reinforce their
Spartan army up there in the Chalcidice.
It was led by a general named Phoebidas.
As he was moving north on a route that would not have been
the normal route to take, a route that took him right
past the city of Thebes, he camped out at night and on
his way there he was contacted by an important official in the
government of Thebes, an oligarch, a friend of Sparta.
The next day the Spartan army seized the Acropolis of Thebes,
which is called the Cadmea.
They did so on a sacred day, a holiday was being celebrated,
everybody was in the same shape people are on a holiday.
Nobody was ready, they took the city;
the enemies of the dominant party that had invited the
Spartans in were put to death, if they could not flee
successfully. The Spartans left a
garrison on the Cadmea and took control of the city and
had their stooges run the city thereafter.
Now, this had not been determined by the Spartan
assembly, this was not the consequence of a policy decision
that the Spartan officials or people had made.
When Phoebidas came back to Sparta he was put on trial and
there was great anger against him and there was great anger
against Sparta of course throughout the Greek world.
There was no real case for him, but surprisingly enough,
even though he was not a member of Agesilaus' faction.
Agesilaus got up at the trial and simply said,
you guys are all talking about the wrong thing.
There's only one question that should be asked about the
behavior of Phoebidas. Was what he did good or bad for
Sparta? Well, it was obviously good.
Why in the world do you want to punish him?
He was not punished with any severity;
a mild fine or at least a fine was imposed.
We don't know if he ever paid it.
In any case, the critical thing was what
would Sparta do about the action itself?
The fact that it had a garrison up there on the Cadmea.
If they thought it had been the wrong thing to do,
if it had been the idea that Phoebidas and what didn't
represent Spartan policy, then they should have withdrawn
the garrison. The garrison stayed,
so that Sparta now--this was something that rang all around
the Greek world. This was the worst thing
anybody could remember in peace time with no allegation of
cause, they had simply seized another
city, an ancient city, a great city,
and they refused to back off.
Finally there's one other example of this same kind of
behavior. The government in Thebes was
tyrannical, imposed upon an unwilling people;
some of the people who had fled did a reverse of what happened
in the time of the Thirty Tyrants in Athens.
They fled to Athens, and, of course,
the Athenians gave them support, and protected them and
then in 379 a small number of these exiles launched a clever
plot that allowed them to sneak into Thebes and to make their
way to the Cadmea and to kill the oligarchic leaders of
the city in the dark when nobody could really do anything about
it, and to drive away a number of
the Spartans and to free the city.
Thebes became free, it became democratic too,
because these people now belonged to a democratic faction
and more and more, if you're a democrat,
you're anti-Spartan, if you're an oligarch,
you're a pro-Spartan, and so all of this is the
beginning of what we will get to next time, which is the
flowering of Theban power. It's going to happen as they
get stronger and stronger, but the event I wanted to
mention as the twin of the Phoebidas thing is that in 379,
a Spartan harmost of the one of the garrisons in Boeotia
by the name of Sphodrias took a force by night,
marched into Attica, ostensibly his plan was to
reach the Piraeus and then that would allow them to take control
of Athens, because they could cut them off
from their port at the sea. He didn't get it quite right.
By the time morning broke and they were visible he was still
miles and miles, and miles away from the Piraeus
and so all he could do was to do some harm to the Athenian
territory and then to go home. Well, when he got home again he
hadn't gotten any vote from the Spartan assembly or from the
gerousia or from the ephors to do anything,
another thing that he had apparently done on his own.
So, there was another trial and this time the only thing he had
going for him apparently--well, he still had Agesilaus' general
approach, but he was the lover of the son of Agesilaus,
and so Agesilaus who ostensibly was hostile to what had happened
was made to speak in his defense and this time his argument was
simply, Sparta has too few men of
quality to be able to execute any for whatever reason
whatsoever and so we shouldn't do anything to Sphodrias.
So, they didn't. That was yet another signal and
it had fantastic consequences. In Athens they had been
holding some Spartan ambassadors when the Sphodrias' raid had
taken place and they were holding them in effect as
hostages, but the Spartans said,
look we had nothing to do with it, this was--Sphodrias did it
all on his own, and he'll certainly be
condemned when he gets back to Sparta.
So, the Athenians said okay, you can go home,
and then he wasn't and so the Athenians now were determined
that they would have to fight Sparta.
In the process, they set about organizing an
alliance, a general alliance, meant against Sparta,
which they were able to do in considerable part,
because of all of the irritation that had been felt
all around Greece by these terrible actions of the
Spartans, and as I think I'll tell you
next time, they put together what we call the Second Athenian
Confederation, and they made an alliance with
the newly liberated Thebes. Thebes, which is going to get
stronger and stronger, and stronger and so we have now
a threat once again to the Spartan hegemony which will be
very serious, but of a different kind from
the one we had before. I'll tell you about it next