War, Peace, and Alliance in Demosthenes Athens

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Peter Hunt | Classics | University of Colorado Boulder

Demosthenes: Statesman and Patriot. The Brothels of Ancient Pompeii. The World of Medieval Dogdom. The second type is possible when all parties are involved, understand the political and military realities, see their vital interests respected, and are willing to negotiate on minor points e. The Peace of Nicias did not belong to these categories.

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Sparta had gone to war to put an end to Athenian supremacy but the Delian League was still alive; moreover, at Sphacteria it had become clear that Sparta was not invincible. However, although Athens had won the war, it had not destroyed Sparta, which was still a powerful state.

War, Peace, and Alliance in Demosthenes' Athens

Moreover, not all parties that had been involved agreed to the treaty. For example, Sparta's ally Thebes refused to agree, and the inhabitants of Amphipolis, who were supposed to return to the Athenian alliance, were not willing to do so. Sparta made promises that it could not keep.

Moreover, it betrayed its allies Corinth and Megara , because it accepted the Athenian occupation of territories that belonged to these cities. Almost immediately after the treaty had been signed, it collapsed. Corinth embarked upon an ambitious diplomatic offensive that was directed against Sparta; Thebes simply refused to sign; Sparta was unable to give back Amphipolis, and Athens did not return Pylos. As a result of these tensions, the Athenians accepted Alcibiades ' advice to join the coalition of the democratic states Argos , Mantinea, and Elis.

Athens now had allies on the Peloponnese, and it may have looked as if the Spartan alliance, the Peloponnesian League, was about to collapse.

Now, Athens was faced with a difficult choice: would it help its ally Sparta, or would it help its democratic allies? It choose the second option and was willing to take up arms against Sparta in the battle of Mantinea. That Agis won the fight was important -it restored Spartan influence on the Peloponnese and discredited democracy- but the deeper significance of the battle was that the Peace of Nicias had come to an end, three years after it had been signed.

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Below, you can read the text of the treaty, which has been included in Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War. The translation is by Rex Warner. At Delphi the consecrated ground and the temple of Apollo and the Delphians themselves shall be governed by their own laws, taxed by their own state, and judged by their own judges, both the people and the territory, according to the custom of the place.

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Moreover, it betrayed its allies Corinth and Megara , because it accepted the Athenian occupation of territories that belonged to these cities. Between and BC, Philip tried to strengthen the peace, by converting it into a 'common peace', that all Greek states which chose to could join. The commotion spread through the whole city. The principal Spartan strategy was to annually attack Athenian lands, starting in BCE, creating as much destruction as possible such as burning farms, chopping down olive trees and vineyards. It may have been a Spartan strategy to entice the Athenians out from behind their fortifications into open battle, a temptation that Athens, and particularly Pericles, always resisted.

If any dispute should arise between them, they are to deal with it by law and by oath, as may be agreed between them. In the case of all cities given back by the Spartans to the Athenians, the inhabitants shall have the right to go where they please taking their property with them.

24. Twilight of the Polis (cont.) and Conclusion