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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

041 - The End of an Era

In this episode, we discuss the 460s BC; the battle of the Eurymedon River (Asia Minor), which sees Cimon winning a dual land and naval victory over the Persians; Sparta's clashes with the anti-Spartan coalition of Argos, Tegea, Elis, and Mantinea; the assassination of Xerxes and eventual ascension to the Persian throne of his son, Artaxerxes; Themistocles' medism trial and his defection to the court of Artaxerxes; the revolt of Thasos from the Delian League; the debilitating earthquake in the Peloponnese and the resulting Helot revolt; the political downfall and ostracism of Cimon, which leads to the severing of the Athenian-Spartan alliance; and the democratic reforms, assassination of Ephialtes, and ascendency of Pericles

469 BC - Cimon carries the war against Persia into Asia Minor and wins dual land and naval victory at Eurymedon River in Pamphylia, as his land and sea forces capture the Persian camp and destroy or capture the entire Persian fleet; many new allies of Athens are now recruited, such as the trading city of Phaselis on the Lycian-Pamphylian border
468 BC - Death of Aristides; Sparta faces trouble near home, chiefly from Arcadia with the support of Argos; the Spartans win two narrow victories at the battles of Tegea and Dipaea
466 BC - Themistocles tried for Medism in absentia and condemned
465 BC - Xerxes of Persia, together with his eldest son, is murdered by one of his ministers, Artabanus, and the general, Megabyzus, is thought to have been one of the conspirators in the assassination; Artabanus gains control of the empire for several months, but he is later betrayed by Megabyzus and is killed by Xerxes' youngest son, Artaxerxes (r. 465-427 BC); Thasos, which controlled some markets and a gold mine in Thrace, revolted due to trade conflicts with Athens, so they were besieged by Cimon and the fleet of the Delian League; during the siege, the Athenians make their first attempt to establish a colony on the Strymon for mines and timber, by sending out 10,000 settlers, both Athenians and allies, to occupy Ennea Hodoi ("Nine Ways", later re-founded as Amphipolis)
Winter 465/4 BCThe Thasians, hard-pressed by the ongoing Athenian siege, appeal to Sparta as hegemon of Hellenic League, to assist them by invading Attica; Sparta, unknown to Athens, agrees to invade Attica the following spring; Athenian forces at Ennea Hodoi are defeated by Thracians at Drabescus; beginning of the democratic custom of burying together, without distinction of family or rank, all who had died in war for Athens; start of ritual for public funerals and funeral orations (logoi epitaphioi)
464 BCThemistocles, who is in exile, approaches Artaxerxes seeking Persian help in regaining power in Athens; Artaxerxes is unwilling to help him, but instead gives him the satrapy of Magnesia; Sparta's planned invasion of Attica is called off after they suffer the effects of a severe earthquake which is then followed first by large-scale Helot in Eurotas valley and then Messenian Helots revolt along with a few communities of the perioikoi; Archidamos organizes the defense of Sparta and the rebels retreat to and fortify Mount Ithome
463 BC - After a two year siege and without hope of assistance, Thasos surrenders under terms: as a result, Thasos sees the destruction of its walls, surrender of ships, payment of indemnity, forced annual tribute, abandonment of its markets and mines in Thrace; first mention of Athens confiscating the ships of an ally; not long after his return from Thasos, Ephialtes and Pericles attempt to get Cimon ostracized for allegedly accepting bribes from King Alexander of Macedon not to conquer part of his territory; though Cimon is acquitted his influence on the Athenian people begins to wane
462 BCAfter three years of trying to conquer the mountain stronghold of Mt Ithome in Messenia, where a large force of rebel helots have taken refugeSparta finally appeals to Athens for aid because of the Athenians’ supposed expertise in siege warfare; a famous debate takes place in Athens, in which Ephialtes, the democratic leader, recommends no help be sent and letting haughty Sparta be trampled underfoot, while Cimon, in accord with his policy of cooperation with Sparta, successfully urges the assembly “not to suffer Hellas to be crippled nor their city to be robbed of its yoke-fellow”; Cimon's argument prevails and he undertakes an expedition to help Sparta but after their initial attempt to storm Mt Ithome fails, the Spartans begin to fear the daring and ‘revolutionary spirit’ of the Athenians and their possible subversive influence on the helots; retaining their other allies, the Spartans send the Athenians home, an insult that causes the collapse of Cimon's popularity
Winter 462/1 BC - Cimon is ostracized after Ithome disgrace; the breach between Athens and Sparta was now irreconcilable and leads to the formal dissolution of the Hellenic League; instead, Athens makes alliance with Sparta’s most bitter rival, Argos; Ephialtes and Pericles make effort to increase democratic elements in the Athenian government; they pass laws that strip the Areopagus of all authority except jurisdiction in homicide cases and matters of a religious nature; these powers are transferred to the people, i.e. the Council of 500, the Assembly, and the popular law courts; office of judge is now a paid position and is recruited by lot from a list to which every citizen can have his name added; the Areopagus (filled with ex archons and is a center of conservatism) essentially ceases to be an effective political force
461 BC - Ephialtes assassinated; Pericles, Alcmaeonidai on his mother’s side, now rises as preeminent democratic Athenian politician

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

040 - War Hawks and Peace Doves

In this episode, we discuss the aftermath of the Persian Wars and how the Athenians and Spartans both come to terms with the new state of affairs; the formation of the Delian League under Athens to carry on the war effort against Persia at sea; the political factions in Athens (Themistocles / Xanthippos vs Cimon / Aristides) and Sparta (Leotychidas / Pausanias vs Pleistarchos) and their struggle to dictate Athenian-Spartan foreign policy in the 470s BC

Winter 479/8 BC - The Athenians begin to rebuild and refortify after the Persian destruction of the city; Sparta, alarmed by the growth of Athenian power and daring, send envoys to urge the Athenians not to rebuild their walls, but Themistocles rejects the idea and tricks the envoys; the Athenians rebuild walls using old statues as ‘fill’, while Themistocles is on diplomatic mission to Sparta; upon his return, Themistocles also persuades the Athenians to complete fortifications at Piraeus, which effectively attach it to the city of Athens; while Cimon promotes cooperation with Sparta, Themistocles is hostile and attempts to rouse anti-Spartan feelings; Themistocles also secretly proposes to destroy the beached ships of the other allied navies at Pagasae in order to ensure complete Athenian naval dominance but was overruled
478 BCCyprus (an important Persian naval base) and Byzantium (vital for the Black Sea trade route) are recaptured by the Hellenic League fleet under Pausanias; Athens, under Aristides and Cimon, dissatisfied with Spartan leadership of Pausanias; while Pausanias is occupying Byzantium, his arrogance and his adoption of Persian clothing and manners offends the allies and raises suspicions of disloyalty; after being recalled to Sparta for his behavior at Byzantium, Pausanias is tried and acquitted on charges of Medism but he is not restored to his command so he returns to Byzantium as private citizen; the Hellenic League fleet at Byzantium rejects the Spartan Dorkis as Pausanias’ replacement; Sparta thereafter abandons struggle against Persia, Athens receives hegemony with the approval of the allies
Winter 478/7 BC Formation of the Delian League with Athens as hegemon to carry on war against Persia and to seek vengeance and compensation for injuries received; members include cities in Aegean islands, on the coast of Thrace, in Hellespontine (and Bosporus) region, and on the coast of Asia Minor; standard offensive and defensive alliance; assembly of delegates meets at Delos, each with an equal vote; Athens has supreme command in war, chief executive duties and presides at league meetings; some members contribute ships, other cash payment to league funds; Aristides assessed first tribute (phoros) of league members at 460 talents; Athenian magistrates named Hellenotamai (treasurers of the Hellenes) appointed to take charge of league funds, with treasury at Temple of Apollo at Delos; each member bound to Delian League alone; Peloponnesian League, Hellenic League, and Delian League separate and distinct entities
477 BC - Cimon begins to increase his power at the expense of Themistocles; As strategosCimon takes Eion on the Strymon River from Persians with Delian League fleet
476 BCLeotychides leads a fleet and army to reoccupy Thessaly and to punish the pro-Persian Aleuadae, but he fails; when he returns to Sparta, he is charged with accepting a bribe during operations in Thessaly, so he flees to the temple of Athena Alea in Tegea for sanctuary and is sentenced to exile in absentia; his grandson Archidamos II ascends the Spartan throne in his place (r. 476-427 BC)
476/5 BC - Cimon takes Skyros (non-Persian territory), Dolopian pirates are enslaved, and the island is settled with a cleruchy; at Skyros, Cimon discovers the ‘bones of Theseus’ and brings them back to Athens in response to a Delphic oracle
475 BC - Themistocles serves as choregos for Phrynichos’ Phoinissai (Phoenician Women); the death of Xanthippos (father of Pericles); Spartan debate reveals division of opinion on foreign policy, as Hetoemaridas opposes the imperial ambitions of those Spartans who desire to regain naval hegemony in a war against Athens
473 BCPausanias is recalled to Sparta because he is suspected of plotting to seize power either by conspiring with the Persians or by instigating a helot uprising; he takes refuge in the Temple of Athena of the Brazen House to escape arrest; his asylum is respected but the Spartans wall in the sanctuary and starve Pausanias to death; Sparta then tries to implicate Themistocles in Pausanias' alleged treasonous crimes; when he is charged with Medism, he flees to Argos, where he introduces democracy to Sparta's hated rivals; from there, he travels throughout the Peloponnesus to stir up anti-Spartan sentiment
473/2 BC - Cimon campaigns against Karystos, a Greek city of Euboea which had medized, and forces them to join the Delian League
472 BCAeschylus composed Persai (The Persians), with Pericles as choregos; Themistocles acquitted on charge of Medism in absentia 
Winter 472/1 BCThemistocles loses the confidence of the Athenian people, partly due to his arrogance and partly due to Spartan influence, so he is formally ostracized
471 BCThe Mantineans and Eleans, possibly persuaded by Themistocles, establish democratically-controlled cities by uniting various scattered towns through synoecism; both foundations upset Spartans for whom it is easier to dominate scattered towns than centralized cities; Sparta, backed by Cimon, demands that the Athenians punish Themistocles, who flees the Peloponnese to Corcyra and becomes a suppliant of Admetus, king of the Molossians; he subsequently travels to Macedon and then catches a ship to Asia Minor
470 BCThe island of Naxos revolts from the Delian League but is blockaded by Athens and forced to surrender; first example of succession and suppression of a league member; became subject to Athens, contrary to league ‘charter’, which guaranteed autonomy to its members; this action is considered high-handed and resented by the other Greek city states; with tribute the Athenians were increasing their navy, while other states, seeking to avoid the hazards, hardships and expenses of military service, began to provide cash payment instead of ships to league; process of changing from payment in ships to payment in cash, happened both voluntarily and under compulsion from Athens

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

039 - The Greek Counterattack

In this episode, we discuss the tensions between the Spartan-Athenian alliance during the winter of 480/79 BC over how to deal with the lingering Persian threat; Mardonios' strategy of turning the Athenians and Spartans against each other; the eventual makeup (sort of) of Athens and Sparta; the combined Greek counterattack against the Persians in spring 479 BC, culminating in the twin victories at Plataea (Boeotia) and Mykale (Ionia), which effectively ended the first phase of the Greco-Persian Wars; and the Athenians' first attempt on the Thracian Chersonese, which would come to define their foreign policy in the rest of the century

Spring 479 BC - The Greek fleet assembles at Aegina under the Spartan king, Leotychides, and sails to Delos to keep watch on the Persian fleet at Samos; Mardonios once again occupies Attica, so the Athenians withdraw to Salamis; Mardonios' peace offer of an allegiance is refused twice by the Athenians, though the Athenians threaten to come to terms unless Sparta sends an army against the Persians
Summer 479 BC - When the Spartan regent Pausanias assembles a large Peloponnesian army at the Isthmus of Corinth, Mardonius retires to Thebes in Boeotia; in the ensuing Battle of Plataea, Mardonius is killed and the Persian army is annihilated in flight, except for the troops under Artabazus which escape through Thessaly and Thrace to Asia Minor; the Theban leaders who "medized" are executed and thank-offerings are dedicated at Delphi for victory over Persia including serpent column listing 31 cities faithful to “the Hellenes”; at the same time, the Greek fleet under command of Leotychides at Delos heeds envoys from Samos and sails to Asia Minor to liberate Ionia; when the Greeks land at Mycale, many Ionians and Aeolians turn on the Persians and join with them; after the Greeks slaughter the Persians and burn their ships, the Athenians enroll in the Hellenic League the Samians, Chians, Lesbians, and other islanders who campaigned with them
Winter 479/8 BC - The Greek fleet at Samos sails to the Hellespont to destroy Xerxes’ bridge but find it no longer in place; Leotychides leaves with Peloponnesian contingents, while Xanthippos and the Athenians make an attempt on the Thracian Chersonese; they lay siege to Sestos on the European side of the Hellespont (which was held by a strong force of Persians), capture the fortress, and then sail home