« PrécédentContinuer »
power in the mother city. The Epidamnians now resorted to Corinth, which undertook their defense with great energy. Corcyra, alarmed in turn, applied to Athens for assistance. Opinions were divided in the assembly, but that of Pericles prevailed, who urged that war could not in any case be long delayed, and that it was more prudent to make it in alliance with Corcyra, whose fleet was, next to that of Athens, the most powerful in Greece, than to be driven at last to fight at a disadvantage.
Considering, however, that Corinth, as an ally of Sparta, was included in the thirty years' truce, it was resolved to make only a defensive alliance with Corcyra; i. e., to render assistance in case its territories should be invaded, but not to take part in any aggressive action. A naval battle soon occurred off the coast of Epirus, in which the Corinthians were the victors, and prepared to effect a landing in Corcyra. Ten Athenian vessels were present, under the command of Lacedæmonius, son of Cimon, and they were now, by the letter of their agreement, free to engage. But suddenly, after the signal of battle had been given, the Corinthians drew back and stood away for the coast of Epirus. Twenty Athenian ships had appeared in the distance, which they imagined to be the vanguard of a large fleet. Though this was a mistake, it had the effect of preventing further hostilities, and the Corinthians returned home with their prisoners.
159. Incensed at the interference of Athens, the Corinthians sought revenge by uniting with Prince Perdic'cas of Macedonia, to
B. C. 432. stir up revolts among the Athenian tributaries in the Chalcidic peninsulas. A battle ensued at Olynthus, in which the Athenians were victorious over the Corinthian general, and blockaded him in Potidæa, where he had taken refuge.
A congress of the Peloponnesian states was held at Sparta, and complaints from many quarters were uttered against Athens. The Æginetans deplored the loss of their independence; the Megarians, the crippling of their trade; the Corinthians, that they were orershadowed by the towering ambition of their powerful neighbor. At the same time, the Corinthians contrasted the restless activity of Athens with the selfish inertness of Sparta, and threatened that if the latter still delayed to do her duty by the League, they would seek a more efficient ally.
The envoys having departed, Sparta decided to undertake the war. Before proceeding to actual hostilities, it was thought best to send messengers to Athens, demanding, among other things, that she should “expel the accursed” from her presence – referring to Pericles, whose race they chose to consider as still tainted with sacrilege. But Pericles replied that the Spartans themselves had heavy accounts to settle on the score of sacrilege, not only for starving Pausanias in the sanctuary of Athena, but for dragging away and murdering the Helots who had taken refuge, during the late revolt, in the temple of Posidon. The other demands were rejected,
B. C. 131.
though with more hesitation. They concerned the independence of Megara and Ægina, and, generally, the abdication by Athens of her position as head of the League. The Athenians declared that they would refrain from commencing hostilities, and would make just satisfaction for any infringement on their part of the thirty years' truce; but that they were ready to meet force with force. 160. WAR JN BEoriA. While both parties hesitated to begin the war,
the Thebans precipitated matters by a treacherous attack
upon the city of Platæa. This city, instead of joining the Baotian League, had been in friendly alliance with Athens, and was hence regarded with great jealousy by the Thebans. A small oligarchical party in Platæa favored the Thebans, and it was Naucli’des, the head of this party, who, at dead of night, admitted three hundred of them into the town. The Platæans were roused from sleep to find their enemies encamped in their market place; but though scattered and betrayed, they did not yield. They secretly communicated with each other by breaking through the walls of their houses; and having thus formed a plan for defense, fell upon the enemy a little before daybreak.
The Thebans were exhausted by marching all night in the rain; they were entangled in the narrow, crooked streets of the town; and even women and children fought against them by hurling tiles from the roofs. The reinforcement which they expected was delayed, and before it arrived the three hundred were either slain or captured. The Thebans without the walls now seized whatever persons and property they could lay their hands on, as security for the release of the prisoners. The Platæans sent a herald to declare that the captives would be immediately put to death, unless the ravages should cease; but that, if the Thebans would retire, they should be given up. The marauders withdrew, but the Platæans, instead of keeping their word, gathered their movable property into the town, and then put all their prisoners to death. Fleet-footed messengers had already been sent to Athens with the news. They returned with orders to the Platæans to do nothing of importance without the advice of the Athenians. It was too late, however, to save the lives of the prisoners or the honor of their captors.
In the First Peloponnesian War (B. C. 460- 157), Athens was allied with Megara; Sparta and Ægina, with Corinth. At the same time, the Athenians aided a revolt of Egypt against Persia, and built long walls to connect their city with its ports. Sparta, interfering in a war between Phocis and Doris, defeated the Athenians at Tanagra; but the latter gained a more decisive victory at Enophyta, which brought Phocis, Locris, and all Boeotia, except Thebes, into their alliance. Ægina was conquered and made tributary to Athens. Ithome surrendered to Sparta; the Helots were re-enslaved and the Messenians exiled. In a new war, occasioned by the interference of Sparta at Delphi, the Atheuians, under Tolmides, gained some advantages, but were disastrously defeated at Coronæa, with great loss of intluence in central Greece. Assailed at once by rebellions in Eubea and Megaris, and by a Spartan invasion, Pericles defeated the latter by bribes and the former by arms. The peace which followed was concluded on terms unfavorable to Athens. Being called to aid a popular revolution in Samos, the Athenians captured its chief city and re-established their own influence. Epidamnus, iu war with her mother city, was aided by Corinth; while Athens, taking the part of Corcyra, defeated the Corinthians at Olynthus, and besieged them two years in Potidæa. A more general war was hastened by the mutual treachery of the Thebans and Plateaus.
THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR.
B. C. 431-404.
B. C. 431.
161. All Greece now prepared for war a war of twenty-seven years,
which was to be marked by more calamities and horrors
than Hellas had ever yet endured. On the side of Sparta fought all Peloponnesus, except Argos and Achaia, together with Megara, Bæotia, Phocis, Opuntian Locris, Ambracia, Leucadia, and Anactoria. Athens had for allies, on the mainland, Thessaly and Acarnania, with the cities of Naupactus and Platæa. There were also her tributaries on the coast of Thrace and Asia Minor, and on the Cyclades, beside her island allies, Chios, Lesbos, Corcyra, Zacynthus, and, later, Cephallenia.
162. Archidamus, king of Sparta, having collected his allies at the isthmus, marched into the Attic territory about the middle of June. The inhabitants quitted their fields, and with all the property they could remove, took refuge within Athens and the Piræus. Every corner and recess of the city walls became a dwelling. In the market-place, the public squares, and the precincts of the temples, temporary habitations arose, and the poorer sort found shelter in tents, huts, and even casks, placed against the Long Walls. Among this crowded population, violent debates arose concerning the conduct of the war. Great indignation was felt against Pericles for the inaction of the army, while Archidamus was ravaging the fields almost under their eyes.
But the leader had resolved to carry the war out of Attica. For this purpose a combined fleet of Athenians and Corcyræans sailed around the Peloponnesus, disembarking troops at various points to ravage the country. Two Corinthian settlements in Acarnania were captured, and the island of Cephallenia transferred its allegiance from Sparta to Athens. The Ægi. netans were expelled, and their island occupied by Athenian settlers. Archidamus, after five or six weeks, marched out of Attica and disbanded his army. The Athenians then put their forces in motion to punish the Megarians, whom they considered as revolted subjects. They laid waste the whole territory to the gates of the capital, and the devastations were renewed every year while the war continued.
163. The next spring, with a new Spartan invasion, brought a still
greater calamity to the Athenians. The plague, originating
in Ethiopia, had traveled along the Asiatic coasts of the Mediterranean until it reached their city, where the crowded condition of the people made it spread with frightful rapidity. A terror seized the populace, some of whom believed that their enemies had poisoned the wells, while a greater number ascribed the pestilence to the wrath of Apollo, who was the especial protector of the Dorian race.
164. In their passion of despair the Athenians turned against Pericles, whose cautious policy they considered as the cause of their misfortunes. Though still refusing battle, which, with the reduced numbers and exhausted spirit of the army, would have been almost certain defeat, he actively pushed his operations against the Peloponnesus. To relieve the crowded city of its mischievous elements, he fitted out a fleet and led it in person to ravage the enemy's coasts. On his return he found the oppo. sition stronger than ever, and an embassy had even been sent to Sparta to sue for peace. The suit had been contemptuously rejected, and the rage of the Athenians was only increased. Pericles persuaded them to persevere in the war, but his eloquence was unavailing to silence the fury of his personal enemies. By the influence of Cleon, his chief opponent, he was even accused of embezzling the public funds, and was fined to a large
B. C. 129.
165. But the life and adversities of the great statesman were alike near
their end. The plague had robbed him of his nearest rela
tives. A lingering ferer, following an attack of the pestilence, terminated his life. As he lay, seemingly unconscious, the friends surrounding his death-bed were rehearsing his great deeds, when the dying man interrupted them, saying, “ All that you are praising was either the result of good fortune, or, in any case, common to me with many other leaders. What I chiefly pride myself upon is, that no Athenian has ever mourned on my account.” 166. The second Lacedæmonian foray was more destructive than the
first, for the ravages extended over all Attica, even to the
silver mines of Laurium. The fleet of the Peloponnesians destroyed the fisheries and commerce of Athens, and devastated the island of Zacynthus. During the following winter Potidæa surrendered, after a blockade of two years, and was occupied by a thousand Athenian colonists. The third campaign of the Spartans was directed against Platæa. On
the approach of Archidamus, the Platæans sent a solemn re
monstrance, reminding him of the oath which Pausanias had sworn on the evening of their great battle, making Platæa forerer sacred from invasion. The king replied that the Platæans, too, were bound by
B. C. 430.
B. C. 129.
B. C. 429-127.
oath to labor for the independence of every Grecian state. He reminded them of their heinous crime in the slaughter of the Theban prisoners, but promised that, if they would abandon the cause of Athens and remain neutral during the war, their privileges should be respected. The Plataans refused to forsake their ancient ally, and the siege of their city began.
167. The garrison which thus defied the whole Peloponnesian army, consisted of only 480 men, but they made up in energy what they lacked in numbers. Archidamus began by shutting up every outlet of the town with a palisade of wood, then erected against this a mound of earth and stone, forming an inclined plane, up which his troops could march. The Platæans undermined the mound, which fell in, and thus defeated seventy days' work of the whole besieging army. They also built a new wall within the old one, so that, if this were taken, the Spartans would still be no nearer the possession of the city.
Seeing that the will of the Platæans could only be subdued by famine, the allies now turned the siege into a blockade. They surrounded the city with a double wall, and roofed the intervening space, so as to afford shelter to the soldiers on duty. The Platæans thus endured a complete separation from the outer world for two years. Provisions began to fail; and, in the second year, nearly half the garrison made their escape, by climbing over the barracks and fortifications of their besiegers in the rain and darkness of a December night. The Platæans, though thus reduced in numbers, came at length to absolute starvation. A herald now appeared from the Spartan commander, requiring their submission, but promising that only the guilty should be punished. They yielded. When brought before the five Spartan judges, every man was found guilty and led to execution. The town and territory of Platæa were made over to the Thebans, who destroyed all private dwellings, and with the materials erected a huge barrack, to afford shelter to visitors, and dwellings to the serfs who cultivated the land. The city of Platæa was blotted out from the map of Greece.
1168. The Athenians, with their ally Sitalces, a Thracian chief, were warring in the north with little success. Sitalces, with an irregular but powerful host of 150,000 Thracians, invaded Macedonia with the intention of dethroning Perdiccas. The Macedonians, unable to meet him in the open field, withdrew into their fortresses, and Sitalces, who had no means for conducting sieges, retired after thirty days. Phormio, an Athenian captain, gained two victories, meanwhile, in the Corinthian Gulf, over a vastly superior number of Spartans. In the first engagement he had but twenty ships, to the Spartan forty-seven; in the second, without reinforcements, he met a fresh Spartan fleet of seventyseren sail.
B. C. 429.