The Peloponnesian War 413–404


Thucydides, VIII

Despite the great blow of their failure in Sicily, the Athenians resolved to fight on. They built more ships and made other preparations, and took economy measures including the abandonment of the fort opposite Cythera (VIII. 1,4). Nevertheless, their new weakness significantly changed the situation. Sparta was now more hopeful of defeating Athens and becoming the undisputed leader of Greece (VIII. 2); and called on its allies to join in building a hundred ships, including twenty-five each from Sparta and Boeotia and (fewer than we might expect) fifteen from Corinth (VIII. 3. ii). Whatever we think of the popularity of the Delian League with its member states (cf. pp. 189–95), Athens will now have looked much less able to compel loyalty than in the past. Various members of the League made contact with the Spartans: first the Euboeans and then the Lesbians with Agis at Decelea, who decided Lesbos was the more important; then the oligarchic leaders of Chios, and Erythrae, with the authorities in Sparta (VIII. 5. i–iv).

Ill. 14 A coin of the satrap Tissaphernes. Hirmer Verlag, Munich


Approaches to Sparta were also made by Tissaphernes (cf. ill. 14) and Pharnabazus, the Persian satraps of Sardis and Dascylium: they were under pressure from Darius to collect tribute from the Asiatic Greeks, andTissaphernes was given a superior position in the region (VIII. 5. iv–6. i). According to Andocides, after making the treaty with the King with which his uncle Epilycus was involved (cf. pp. 119–20), the Athenians foolishly broke it and supported the rebel Amorges (III. Peace 29). Amorges was a bastard son of Pissuthnes, a satrap of Sardis who had revolted perhaps at the end of the 420’s and had been replaced by Tissaphernes (Ctesias FGrH 688 F 15 § 53 [52]); he himself was in revolt with Athenian support inThuc.VIII (cf. 28. ii, 54. iii), andTissaphernes had orders to take him dead or alive. When his revolt began is not certain; an Athenian general was present at Ephesus in spring 414 (M&L 77 = IG i3 370. 78–9), and it is possible that an Athenian called Melesandrus was involved with Amorges in 414/3 (IG i3 371. 3, TAM i 44.a. 45, 55). Though some have doubted it, it does seem credible that the Athenians had decided for some reason to back Amorges and this provoked the Persians into supporting Sparta.

The Spartans were torn between a Hellespont strategy (which was ultimately to win the war for them) and an Aegean strategy (for which they would have the support of Chios’ navy). They were inclined to the Aegean by Alcibiades (who had friends in Miletus: VIII. 17. ii) and his Spartan family friend (cf. p. 133) Endius, currently ephor -Alcibiades perhaps exercised more influence on Spartan policy now than earlier - and a meeting in Corinth in spring 412 adopted Chios-Lesbos-the Hellespont as an order of priority. While the Isthmian games were celebrated, in mid-summer, the Athenians discovered what was intended. When the Peloponnesians set out from Cenchreae, Corinth’s port on the Saronic Gulf, with just twenty-one ships, an Athenian squadron chased them back to land, but Alcibiades, after he had put pressure on Endius, went at last with the Spartan Chalcideus and five ships to Chios. Other cities joined in revolt against Athens; Athens used its emergency reserve of 1,000 talents (cf. p. 98), and replied by blockading the Peloponnese and sending ships to Samos, which was to be Athens’ main base in the Aegean until the end of the war (VIII. 6. ii–17. iii). If the Athenians had imposed a democracy on Samos in 439 (cf. p. 73), they must later have tolerated a return to oligarchy; but a democratic rising in 412 had their approval (VIII. 21, cf. IG i3 96).

At this point Thucydides quotes the first of three treaties between the Spartans and the Persians: it is made with ‘the King and Tissaphernes’ and claims that ‘whatever land and cities the King possesses and the King’s fathers possessed shall belong to the King’; the war is to be prosecuted jointly (VIII. 17. iv–18). Revolt against Athens continued to spread. Both sides reinforced their Aegean fleets, and Hermocrates brought Sparta twenty ships from Syracuse and two from Selinus (a few more from the west were to follow). Astyochus as navarch (Sparta’s principal naval commander) was reluctant to take risks against the Athenians; the Athenians were fairly successful at striking back, particularly in the islands (but they never recovered Chios, though it was divided between anti-Athenian and pro-Athenian factions). After the Athenians had won a battle off Miletus and the Peloponnesians had gained reinforcements, the Athenian general Phrynichus refused to risk another battle against slightly superior numbers: Thucydides praises his caution, but some other Athenians thought and some modern scholars have agreed that a little more boldness would have been worthwhile. His withdrawal enabled the Spartans to capture Iasus, in Caria, and hand over it and Amorges to Tissaphernes (VIII. 19–28).

In winter 412/1 campaigning continued, Tissaphernes reduced his rate of pay for the Peloponnesian fleet (VIII. 29–36. i), and we are given a second treaty between the Spartans and the Persians: this states not what the King is to possess but that neither Sparta nor the King shall attack or levy tribute from what the other possesses; the King is to pay for forces in his territory at his invitation, which could provide an excuse for withholding payment (VIII. 36. ii–37). On Chios the Athenians were building a fort, and, when the city asked Astyochus for help and he refused, Pedaritus, the Spartan commander there, complained to Sparta. A squadron of ships from Sparta brought Lichas (winner of the chariot race at Olympia and an influential man) and ten other inspectors/ advisers to Astyochus, with permission to go north to the Hellespont and to replace Astyochus with their own commander Antisthenes. Astyochus was retained in office, but Lichas objected to the extent of the Persian claims - as far as central Greece - which, though probably not intended, would be allowed by the wording of the two treaties. The Spartans won over Rhodes, but the Athenians, though too late to prevent that, were becoming more confident than Phrynichus had been earlier, while the Spartans were afraid to face them in a straightforward naval battle; and Pedaritus was killed in fighting against the Athenian fort on Chios (VIII. 38–45, 55, cf. 60. ii–iii).

By now Alcibiades had fallen out with the Spartans. In Sparta, he had allegedly formed a liaison with the wife of the absent Agis (cf. p. 240); his influence was presumably reduced when Endius’ year as ephor ended in autumn 412; and it is alleged that Astyochus was sent orders to kill him. At some point he moved from Miletus to Tissaphernes’ court at Sardis, urging Tissaphernes to limit his support for Sparta and suggesting that a balance or even an Athenian victory would be better for him than a Spartan victory (cf. Sparta’s inland ambitions in the 390’s: pp. 242–4). The two lovers of intrigue doubtless enjoyed manoeuvring around each other. Wanting to return to Athens, Alcibiades made contact with leading men in the fleet at Samos, suggesting that if Athens overthrew its democracy and recalled him he could obtain Persian support for Athens. We shall follow the oligarchic movement at pp. 168–75. Alcibiades was distrusted by Phrynichus, who, not realising how far he had already lost the confidence of the Spartans, tried to betray him to them. The Athenians negotiated through Alcibiades with Tissaphernes, but gave up when confronted with a demand not only for mainland Asia Minor but also for the offshore islands and a Persian presence in the Aegean (45–56). It seems unlikely that Tissaphernes, under orders from the King, seriously considered changing sides; we cannot be sure what Alcibiades believed; but the Athenians were to continue to hope that Persia could be won over until 407 (cf. p. 156).

That round of negotiations had broken down in time for a new treaty to be made between Sparta and the Persians in spring 411. This has a more elaborate preamble, so may have been ratified at a higher level, than its predecessors, and it involves a larger number of Persians, including Pharnabazus. In response to Lichas it limits the King’s claims to mainland Asia Minor, but makes it clear that there they are total (in the mention of’territory’ but not ‘cities’ the Spartans may have seen a loophole, but the Persians surely did not); if Tissaphernes continues to pay for the Peloponnesian fleet after the arrival of the Persians’ fleet, that payment is to be treated as a loan (VIII. 57–8).

The war started to move northwards. The Spartan Dercylidas went to the Hellespont by land from Miletus, and Abydus and Lampsacus went over to him. The Athenian Strombichides went by sea from Chios, was able to recover Lampsacus but not Abydus, and established a fort opposite Abydus at Sestos (VIII. 61–2). Neither side was eager to fight unless it could be sure of winning. Among the Peloponnesians there were increasing complaints about Astyochus and about Tissaphernes, while Pharnabazus was eager to attract them into his area. Clearchus took forty Peloponnesian ships and won over Byzantium; the Athenians sent ships to Sestos (VIII. 78–80). When the Milesians captured a fort established in their territory by Tissaphernes, they were rebuked by Lichas, who said that they ‘must submit to moderate slavery and cultivate Tissaphernes until they got a good settlement of the war’: that raises doubts about his commitment to the third treaty. Mindarus arrived as Spartan navarch to succeed Astyochus: Astyochus, Hermocrates and an envoy of Tissaphernes all went with their various complaints to Sparta. Tissaphernes himself set off for Aspendus, on the south coast of Asia Minor, allegedly in order to bring 147 Phoenician ships, but he never brought them (it is possible that they were needed against a revolt in Egypt and were no longer available to him). Meanwhile Alcibiades had joined the (once more democratic) Athenian fleet at Samos, where he had been made general. He prevented the fleet from abandoning the Aegean to sail back and restore the democracy at Athens; he followed Tissaphernes as far as Phaselis, and claimed the credit for the ships’ not coming to support the Peloponnesians (VIII. 81–8, 99, 108. i–ii).

In the autumn Mindarus accepted Pharnabazus’ invitation and went north with his full force, managing to reach Abydus (which was to be Sparta’s main base in the region) while the Athenians under Thrasybulus and Thrasyllus were preoccupied with recovering Eresus on Lesbos. After they had followed him, a major battle was at last fought, off Cynossema, with seventy-six Athenian ships against eighty-six Peloponnesian: the Athenians’ centre was driven to the shore, but the Peloponnesians relaxed too soon and the Athenians’ wings closed in and defeated them. This victory did a good deal to restore Athenian morale (VIII. 99–107).

In Greece, early in 411 the Boeotians with help from Eretria had captured the border territory of Oropus from Athens (VIII. 60. i–ii). The oligarchic regime of the Four Hundred tried to make peace with Sparta, but was not prepared to concede all that Sparta demanded - and in any case the democrats at Samos would not have accepted an agreement made by the oligarchs in Athens (VIII. 70. ii–71, 86. ix, 90, 92. iv, Ath. Pol. 32. iii). In the autumn a Peloponnesian fleet bound for Euboea caused panic in Athens and was pursued into the Euripus; the Peloponnesians won a battle, and all Euboea except Oreus in the north went over to them: Euboea was economically important to the Athenians, and this was a disaster for them. However, the Peloponnesians then failed to sail back and attack Athens, which was in disarray as the Four Hundred were deposed (VIII. 91–6).

Thucydides’ text ends with the expulsion of Persian garrisons from Antandrus and Cnidus, and the return of an anxious Tissaphernes from Aspendus to Ephesus (VIII. 108. iii–109).

After Thucydides: Sources

Thucydides’ text breaks off in the autumn of 411, and all that we have must be all that was ever made public, since a number of fourth-century historians started their works at that point.

One of those works is the Hellenica (411–362) of Xenophon, an Athenian who spent much of his life, in the first half of the fourth century, in exile as a dependant of the Spartans. He was not a historian of the calibre of Thucydides. In the earlier part of his work, covering the end of the Peloponnesian War, where he marks a new year pseudo-Thucydidean indications of time have been added by an interpolator (e.g. I. i. 37–ii. 1); but in this narrative we have one new year too few between 411 and the end of the war: no attempt to identify the ‘empty year’ has solved all the problems, but in this book I have assumed that the empty year is 410/09, after the battle of Cyzicus, so that the return of Thrasyllus to the Aegean (I. ii. 1) belongs to 409, not 410.

Our other continuous narrative for this period is that of Diodorus Siculus (415/4–405/4 in book XIII). As for the rest of the fifth century and the first half of the fourth, his principal source was Ephorus (and he has forced into an annalistic framework material which was not organised annalistically by Ephorus: cf. p. 15); papyrus fragments have made it clear that for the late fifth century and the early fourth Ephorus used another continuation of Thucydides, which has become known as the Hellenica Oxyrhynchia from Oxyrhynchus in Egypt, where the first fragment was found (chs. 1–3 Chambers deal with 409, 4–8 with 409–406,1 9–25 with the mid 390’s). The fragments point to a detailed and fairly sober narrative, following Thucydides’ organisation by summers and winters and numbered years (NB 12. i; in 5. v a résumé of earlier events on Chios refers toThucydides).Theopompus of Chios (FGrH 115) wrote Hellenica in continuation of Thucydides (411–394: Diod. Sic. XIII. 42. v), but what we know of him does not match the style of these fragments. Cratippus of Athens (FGrH 64) is alleged to have edited Thucydides’ text (Dion. Hal.Thuc. 16): if the fragments are to be attributed to a writer whose name is known, he is the least unlikely candidate, but we know so little about him that, if he was the author, we are not much wiser. Whereas to 411 Ephorus had based his account on Thucydides, from 411 this account and Xenophon’s are independent of each other: neither is to be preferred invariably and automatically; but, even where we have only Diodorus’ version of the alternative, there are several places where that seems preferable to Xenophon’s account. One fault presumably to be blamed on Diodorus himself is a confusion of names: in book XIII he never uses the name Tissaphernes but calls both satraps Pharnabazus; similarly, in XIII. 64–97 he uses the nameThrasybulus for both Thrasybulus and Thrasyllus, and in XIII. 69. v he mentions Thrasybulus where he apparently should have mentioned Conon.

Plutarch, as always, used a variety of sources. Two of his lives cover the end of the war, Alcibiades and Lysander.

After Thucydides: The End of the War

After Cynossema Mindarus summoned the Peloponnesian force from Euboea, but that was wrecked off Mount Athos with few survivors. He was joined by Dorieus, who had been guarding against a pro-Athenian revolution in Rhodes; and the Athenians were joined by Alcibiades. The Peloponnesians won a first battle (unless this is a careless reference to the battle in the Euripus: Xen. Hell. I. i. 1); Alcibiades arrived in time to help the Athenians to victory in a second (Xen. Hell. I. i. 2–7, Diod. Sic. XIII. 41. i–ii, 45–47. ii, Plut.Ale. 27. i–ii).

In winter 411/0 the Athenians dispersed. Thrasyllus went to Athens to fetch reinforcements; Alcibiades went in state to visit Tissaphernes, was imprisoned but managed to escape (Xen. Hell. I. i. 8–10, Plut. Ale. 27. vi, 28. i). In spring 410 he rejoined Thrasybulus in the Hellespont, and from Athens there came not Thrasyllus but Theramenes, one of the leading figures of the intermediate regime currently in power (cf. pp. 173–4). Thrasyllus, it seems, was more of a committed democrat than the others, and did not cooperate easily with them. Mindarus and Pharnabazus captured Cyzicus. The battle of Cyzicus is one of the episodes for which Diodorus has what seems to be the better account: Athens had eighty-six ships to the Peloponnesians’ sixty (Xen.); the Athenians landed their soldiers at a distance and divided their fleet; Alcibiades with part of the fleet enticed Mindarus away from the harbour, and then the others came up and cut him off; Mindarus fled to Pharnabazus on the mainland, his ships were destroyed or captured, and on land he was defeated and killed. The Athenians took control of the Propontis, and set up a toll post at Chrysopolis, opposite Byzantium (Diod. Sic. XIII. 47. iii–viii, 49–51, 64. ii; Xen. Hell. I. i. 11–22, Plut. Ale. 28. ii–ix). Xenophon and Plutarch quote the message sent to Sparta, in eleven words of Greek: ‘Ships gone; Mindarus dead; men starving; don’t know what to do’ (Xen. Hell. I. i. 23, Plut. Ale. 28. x). In breach of its treaty with Persia, Sparta sent envoys including Endius to Athens to offer peace, on the basis of the status quo except that forts (i.e. Pylos and Decelea) were to be returned; but in Athens, once more democratic, the demagogue Cleophon had the offer rejected (Diod. Sic. XIII. 52–3, Philoch. FGrH 328 F 139). It is understandable that the Athenians did not think this a good enough offer, but at this point it might have been to their advantage to accept it.

In the west, the democrats in Corcyra, helped by the Athenian Conon from Naupactus, got the upper hand in another bout of civil disturbance (Diod. Sic. XIII. 48). Elsewhere Athens was less successful: in 410 or 409, when Sparta attacked Pylos by land and sea Athens sent Anytus to defend it, but he was turned back by storms, and his acquittal when he was put on trial became notorious as an instance of bribery (Diod. Sic. XIII. 64. v–vii, cf. Xen. Hell. I. ii. 18, Ath. Pol. 27. v). In 409 Megara recaptured Nisaea, after which the Athenians won a hoplite battle but did not recover the site(Hell. Oxy. 4, Diod. Sic. XIII. 65. i–ii).

In the Hellespont Pharnabazus supported the defeated Spartans and enabled them to build new ships (Xen. Hell. I. i. 24–6). Athens’ forces dispersed; they were short of hoplites and cavalry, and achieved little (Xen. Hell. I. i. 35–6, Diod. Sic. XIII. 64. i). When Thrasyllus left Athens, in 409, he went not to the Hellespont but to Samos and Ionia: his campaign started well but in an attack on Ephesus he was defeated by Tissaphernes and the Peloponnesians’ Sicilian contingent (Xen. Hell. I. ii. 1–13, Hell. Oxy. 1–3, Diod. Sic. XIII. 64. i). In the autumn he joined the other Athenians at Sestos, but at first there was tension between his contingent and the others; in the winter they fortified Lampsacus and made raids on Pharnabazus’ territory (Xen. Hell. I. ii. 13–17, Diod. Sic. XIII. 64. iv, Plut. Ale. 29. iii–v). In 408 the Athenians concentrated on the Bosporus, and made generous settlements with the cities as they were recovered: first Calchedon came to terms with Theramenes; after Alcibiades had collected allies from Thrace and the Chersonese he captured Selymbria; late in the year Byzantium was betrayed to the Athenians when the Spartan governor Clearchus became unpopular for giving food only to his garrison (Xen. Hell. I. iii, Hell. Oxy. 6, Diod. Sic. XIII. 66–7, Plut. Ale. 29. vi–31. viii; treaty with Selymbria M&L 87 = IG i3 118 ~ Fornara 162). Athens now controlled the whole Bosporus-Hellespont region, and must have seemed to be in a strong position. A fragment of Androtion tells us of another Spartan peace offer, again involving Endius, which resulted in a return of prisoners but no more (FGrH 324 F 44 -Fornara 157).

Both sides at this point made further approaches to Persia. After the fall of Calchedon Pharnabazus agreed to escort Athenian and other envoys to the King, and they spent the winter at Gordium in Phrygia. But in spring 407 they met a Spartan delegation, returning with the news that the King had granted all that they wanted, and had appointed his younger son Cyrus (aged 16: Plut. Artax. 2. iv) as karanos to take charge of the campaign (Xen. Hell. I. iii. 8–14, iv. 1–7). It has been argued that what the King granted included a ‘Treaty of Boeotius’, conceding that the Asiatic Greeks were to pay tribute to Persia but otherwise to be autonomous (cf. the terms discussed in the 390’s, p. 227, and the terms offered to some north-eastern cities in the Peace of Nicias, p. 120). After the war Sparta did not immediately hand over the Asiatic Greeks to Persia; Tissaphernes when he returned to Sardis demanded them; they appealed to Sparta for support against him and Sparta responded. It is easier to believe that this new treaty existed and Tissaphernes was regarding it as obsolete after Sparta’s support for Cyrus’ revolt than that an ungrateful Sparta was wilfully breaking the treaty of spring 411. The Athenians still did not despair of Persian help: in 407 they approached Cyrus through Tissaphernes, without success (Xen. Hell. I. v. 8–9); and we have a frustrating decree for Evagoras of Salamis, in Cyprus, which cannot be dated, in which the Athenians appear to regard the Persian King as an ally (IG i3 113: 411–407?). By now Spartan navarchs were appointed for a year, beginning in the spring. Lysander (from a distinguished family which had fallen on hard times, and, like Gylippus, brought up as a mothax: Plut. Lys. 2, Ael. V.H. XII. 43) was appointed for 407/6 and established a good relationship with Cyrus, and they refitted the Spartan fleet at Ephesus (Xen. Hell. I. v. 1–10, Diod. Sic. XIII. 70, Plut. Lys. 3–4).

In 407 Thrasybulus, who since Cyzicus had been active off the Thracian coast with a detachment from Athens’ fleet, recovered Thasos and other cities (Xen. Hell. I. iv. 9, Diod. Sic. XIII. 72. i–ii); Neapolis on the mainland opposite Thasos had remained loyal and Athens was duly grateful (M&L 89 = IG i3 101 ~ Fornara 156). The main fleet returned to Athens under Thrasyllus. Alcibiades, still an exile after the scandals of 415 (he had been accepted by the fleet but not yet by the democratic regime in Athens: cf. pp. 169–75), was cautious; but the Athenians welcomed him back and cleared him of the old charges. On his proposal they ratified treaties he had made in the field (M&L 87–8 = IG i3 118–19 ~ Fornara 162–3), and they made him supreme commander, the only occasion when one Athenian general was superior to his colleagues. He raised fresh forces, and in the autumn, after winning a battle on Andros but not recovering the city, proceeded eventually to Samos (Xen. Hell. I. iv. 8–23, Diod. Sic. XIII. 68–9, Plut. Ale. 32–35. iv).

He later moved to Notium, on the mainland north of Lysander’s position at Ephesus; and early in 406 he left the fleet (going to different destinations according to different sources, but possibly to Phocaea, which Thrasybulus was besieging), entrusting it not to another general but to Antiochus, a helmsman who was a friend of his, with orders not to risk a battle before he returned. But Antiochus did risk a battle. It appears that he and Lysander were each trying a version of the tactics which had worked at Cyzicus, and Lysander was the more successful. Leaving the main fleet in reserve, Antiochus took ten ships and with two of these tried to tempt a small squadron of Lysander’s ships; but Lysander sank Antiochus’ ship and killed him; the other Athenians panicked; and when Lysander brought out his whole fleet the main Athenian fleet was unprepared and was defeated. Alcibiades on his return offered a second battle, which Lysander refused; he then withdrew the Athenian fleet to Samos (Hell. Oxy. 8, Diod. Sic. XIII. 71; Xen. Hell. I. v. 11–15, Plut. Ale. 35. v–viii, Lys. 5. i–ii). Without waiting to be prosecuted, he withdrew to Thrace. The Athenian generals elected for 406/5 did not include him but did include Conon and Thrasyllus, and Conon went from Andros to Samos to take over the Athenian fleet (Xen. Hell. I. v. 16–20, Diod. Sic. XIII. 74, Plut. Ale. 36. i–v, Lys. 5. iii–iv). About this time Athens appears to have made an alliance with Carthage, now fighting against Athens’ enemies in Sicily (M&L 92 = IG i3 123 ~ Fornara 165); but it had no practical effect.

Lysander was succeeded by Callicratidas (allegedly another mothax: Ael. V.H. XII. 43) as Spartan navarch for 406/5, and this led to considerable friction. Lysander returned the unspent balance of Cyrus’ money, and his friends did not cooperate with Callicratidas; Callicratidas was unhappy at fighting with Persian help against fellow Greeks, disliked paying court to Cyrus, and moved from Ephesus to Miletus, less convenient for communication with Sardis (Xen. Hell. I. vi. 1–11, Plut. Lys. 5. v–6. viii, cf. Diod. Sic. XIII. 76. ii). He then went north to Lesbos and captured Methymna, releasing his non-slave captives other than the Athenians. Conon arrived too late to save Methymna, and Callicratidas trapped and blockaded him in the harbour of Mytilene (Xen. Hell. I. vi. 12–23, Diod. Sic. XIII. 76. iii–79. vii). The Athenians made a special effort to send out another fleet: gold dedications were melted down for coinage (Ar. Ran. 718–26 with schol. 720 = Fornara 164. B), slaves were liberated to row (Xen. Hell. I. vi. 24, Ar. Ran. 693–4 with schol. 694 = Hellanicus FGrH 323a F 25 ~ Fornara 144. A; IG i3 1032, a list of ships’ crews including therapontes, 1. 227, may belong here), and all eight available generals went with the ships via Samos to Lesbos. At the beginning of the Athenian year 406/5 more than 150 ships confronted Callicratidas. He left fifty ships blockading Conon and with 120 attacked the Athenians near the Arginusae Islands, off the mainland opposite Lesbos. The Peloponnesians were more experienced than the newly recruited Athenians, and were now prepared to try skilled manoeuvres; but the Athenians were overwhelmingly victorious, losing twenty-five ships to more than seventy Peloponnesian, and Callicratidas was killed. The weather was bad, and the Athenians were unable either to pick up survivors and their dead (for the consequences of that cf. p. 177: six generals including Thrasyllus were executed and two escaped into exile) or to go to relieve Conon, but the blockading squadron withdrew to Chios (Xen. Hell. I. vi. 24–38, II. i. 1–5, Diod. Sic. XIII. 97–100. vi). Ath. Pol. 34. i has another Spartan peace offer now, but this appears to be the post-Cyzicus offer misplaced.

Sparta’s allies and Cyrus asked for Lysander to be appointed as navarch again for 405/4. That was not allowed, so Aracus was made figurehead navarch with Lysander as his secretary. He returned to Ephesus, and revived the Spartan fleet with more Persian money, while Cyrus departed to his father’s deathbed and a succession dispute (cf. p. 240) (Xen. Hell. II. i. 6–14, Diod. Sic. XIII. 100. vii–viii, 104. iii–iv, Plut. Lys. 7. ii–9. ii). He moved to Miletus, apparently unchallenged by the Athenians at Samos, supported an oligarchic revolution (Diod. Sic. XIII. 104. v–vi, Plut. Lys. 8, 19. iii), and continued south to Caria and Rhodes; Diodorus and Plutarch have him crossing the Aegean to Aegina and Attica, and meeting Agis; finally, in the autumn he went to the Hellespont, pursued by the Athenians, and captured Lampsacus (Xen. Hell. II. i. 15–19, Diod. Sic. XIII. 104. vii–105. i, Plut. Lys. 9. iii–iv).

The Athenians went first to Sestos; then, short of supplies and hoping for a quick battle, to the open beach of Aegospotami opposite Lampsacus; but Lysander did not give them their quick battle. Alcibiades came to the Athenians - to offer his help and that of theThracians and/or to urge a move to the greater safety of Sestos (both may be true but the first is the more important) - but the Athenians were not prepared to trust him again (Xen. Hell. II. i. 20–6, Sestos; Diod. Sic. XIII. 105. ii–iv, help; Plut. Ale. 36. vi–37. iii,Lys. 9. v–11. i, both). In the more probable account of the battle Philocles, one of the Athenian generals and commanding on the day in question, put out with thirty ships to tempt Lysander, while holding the remainder in reserve; but Lysander was ready for him and put out with his whole fleet; and the rest of the Athenians were not ready. Lysander destroyed or captured nearly all the Athenian ships (though some more escaped than the nine or ten, from a total of 180, of our main sources), and all the Athenian prisoners, perhaps 3,000–4,000, were killed. Conon, who got away with a few ships, went to Evagoras of Salamis (Diod. Sic. XIII. 106. i–vii; a different account Xen. Hell. II. i. 27–32, Plut. Ale. 37. iv–v, Lys. 11. ii–13; for Conon cf. pp. 227, 242–4).

Lysander recaptured Byzantium and Calchedon, closing the route from the Black Sea, and proceeded slowly through the Aegean to Athens (only Samos did not surrender: he returned to capture it in 404; for Athens’ gratitude see M&L 94 = IG i3 127 ~ Fornara 166 + R&O 2, complete dossierIG ii2 1), sending back to swell the starving crowds all the Athenians whom he captured. Pausanias, the other Spartan king, brought an army from the Peloponnese to join Agis in blockading Athens by land, and Lysander’s fleet completed the blockade (Xen. Hell. II. ii. 1–9, iii. 6–9, Diod. Sic. XIII. 106. vii–107. iii, Plut. Lys. 13. iii–14. iv). Cleophon refused to surrender, but the Athenians’ resources were exhausted, and it is hard to see what they could have done; he was removed on a trumped-up charge (cf. p. 178), andTheramenes spent three months talking to Lysander. Eventually, in spring 404, Theramenes headed an Athenian delegation to Sparta: some of Sparta’s allies would have liked Athens to be totally destroyed, but that did not suit Sparta; the terms agreed were that Athens should demolish the long walls and the Piraeus walls, lose all but twelve ships and all its overseas possessions, take back its exiles (mostly oligarchs from 411–410), and become a subordinate ally of Sparta (Andoc. III.Peace 11–12 [see box], Xen. Hell. II. ii. 10–23, Diod. Sic. XIII. 107. iv–v, cf. XIV. 3. ii, vi, Plut. Lys. 14. iv–x). ‘They proceeded to tear down the walls to the accompaniment of pipe-girls with great enthusiasm, thinking that day was the beginning of freedom for Greece’ (Xen. Hell. II. ii. 23).

Peace and a treaty differ greatly one from the other: for peace is made on a basis of equality by those who reach an agreement with one another about their differences, but a treaty is imposed by the stronger on the weaker when one party has gained victory in war, as the Spartans gained victory over us in the war and prescribed to us that we should demolish our walls and hand over our ships and take back our exiles. On that occasion there was a treaty imposed under compulsion by prescription, but now [in 392/1] you are deliberating about peace. Consider on the basis of the actual texts, what was written for us on the stele and the terms on which it is possible to make peace now. There it was written that the walls were to be demolished, but in these terms it is possible to build them; there that we were to possess twelve ships, but now as many as we wish; then Lemnos, Imbros and Scyros were to belong to those who occupied them, but now they are ours; now there is no obligation to take back exiles, but then there was an obligation, which led to the overthrow of the democracy. (Andocides, III. On the Peace, 11–12)

Lysander received extravagant honours: the ‘navarchs dedication’ at Delphi, placed at the beginning of the Sacred Way, immediately before the Athenian monument for Marathon, was a large group of statues in the foreground of which was Lysander crowned by Poseidon (M&L 95, Paus. X. 9. vii–xi, cf. Plut. Lys. 18. i); in Samos games named after him and other honours make him one of the first Greeks seriously to challenge the boundary between men and gods (Duris FGrH 76 FF 26, 71, IG xn. vi 334). Agis replied to Lysander with a dedication in which he claimed to be king of land and sea (Plut. De Tranq.Anim. 467 E–F). Gylippus, who defeated the Athenians in Sicily, makes a less glorious appearance: he was entrusted by Lysander with taking captured money back to Sparta, and was found to have helped himself to some of it (Diod. Sic. XIII. 106. viii–x, Plut. Lys.16–17. i).

Athens Defeated

Sparta had set out in 431 to break the Athenian empire and liberate the Greeks, and in 404 the Athenian empire was broken. The Archidamian War, from 431 to 421, had confirmed the superiority of the Athenians at sea and their invulnerability as long as they maintained that superiority; the attempt to destabilise Sparta from Pylos and Cythera had achieved little, but the Peace of Nicias, with its return to the prewar situation, would have looked a sufficient success for Athens if it had been fully implemented. It was not fully implemented. In the years which followed, Athens’ resources and ambitions recovered; but the new alliance which faced Sparta on land in the Peloponnese was defeated at Mantinea in 418, and Athens squandered its resources in the misguided attempt to conquer Sicily in 415–413. Athens’ raiding Spartan territory in 414 was followed by Sparta’s establishing a fort at Decelea in 413; and when Athens backed the rebel Amorges, Sparta in 412–411 agreed to abandon the Asiatic Greeks in exchange for Persian support.

Both sides were hampered by internal disagreements: in Sparta between those who were happy to pay Persia’s price and those who were not, in Athens between oligarchs and democrats. After 413 Athens’ ability to continue building more ships and finding men to row them was greater than might have been expected (cf. Thuc. II. 65. xii), and from late 411 to early 407 it must still have seemed possible that Athens would win the war; but with Cyrus’ more whole-hearted support Sparta could keep going until Athens was exhausted -and it was that exhaustion rather than the political disagreements blamed by Thucydides which finally lost Athens the war.

The Athenian empire was indeed broken; and shortly after the war we find Sparta paying dues to a Delian sanctuary freed from Athenian control (7. Delos 87 = R&O 3). However, the war did not solve the problems of power within Greece. The members of the Delian League found themselves not liberated or (in the case of mainland Asia Minor) handed back to Persia but taken over by Sparta; and, as Thucydides has the Athenians predict in 432 (I. 76. i, 77. vi), the Spartans soon became no less unpopular than the Athenians. They became unpopular with their allies in mainland Greece too, who saw their wishes ignored in the final settlement and derived little benefit from being on the winning side in the war. Within ten years of the end of the war, several of them made an anti-Spartan alliance in which Athens joined; in 386, after fitfully fighting for the Asiatic Greeks against Persia, Sparta finally abandoned them to Persia; in 378 Athens founded a new league to resist Spartan imperialism.

In Athens the combined effects of plague and war had reduced the population to about half its prewar level. The democracy had lost the war, and with the navy limited to twelve ships the lower-class oarsmen were not in the immediate future going to be important; but the oligarchy set up with Spartan support in 404 was to prove so unpleasant that the restored democracy of 403 proved exceptionally stable, and in other respects recovery seems to have been faster than we might have expected. Victory in the war brought unprecedented quantities of foreign wealth into Sparta (though wealth had not previously been as totally absent as the Spartans later liked to imagine). More seriously, at least since the earthquake of c.464 (cf. pp. 31–2) Sparta’s citizen population had been declining, and casualties in the war will have assisted the decline; there was a growing division within the citizen body between the very rich families and the others, and it is not clear how far the decline is due to an absolute shortage of men of citizen ancestry and how far it reflects the downgrading of men unable to pay their mess dues. In any case, an increasingly ambitious Sparta was based on a decreasing number of citizens; and when Sparta’s hoplite army was defeated by Thebes at Leuctra in 371 the bubble burst.

The rest of Greece was therefore to lose the stability which the polarisation around Sparta and Athens had maintained for much of the fifth century. Argos, Sparta’s traditional rival in the Peloponnese, and Corinth, the leading member after Sparta of the Peloponnesian League, both suffered from internal divisions and were unable to step into the gap. Instead the centre of gravity moved northwards. Thebes as the strongest city in Boeotia tried to become the dominant power on the Greek mainland; Jason of Pherae inThessaly, in the 370’s, and Philip of Macedon, in the middle of the fourth century, developed ambitions, finally fulfilled by Philip, to control Greece. It suited Persia to continue as Tissaphernes had begun, to maintain a balance among the Greeks; and when the Greek states were at peace Greek mercenaries were available to fight in the western provinces of the Persian empire. The abandonment of the Asiatic Greeks in 386 was seen as a great betrayal; fourth-century Greeks claimed that Greece had been great when it was united against Persia at the beginning of the fifth century, and Philip of Macedon planned and his son Alexander undertook a war against Persia for which Greek enmity provided a convenient excuse.


See in general Cawkwell, Thucydides and the Peloponnesian War, Kagan, The Fall of the Athenian Empire; Lazenby, The Peloponnesian War.

On Sparta’s treaties with Persia see Lewis, Sparta and Persia, chs. 4–5; and, on one particular problem, Lewis, ‘The Phoenician Fleet in 411’, Hist, vii 1958, 392–7 = his Selected Papers in Greek and Near Eastern History, 362–8, D. Lateiner, ‘Thucydides and the Phoenician Fleet (Thuc. VIII. 87)’, TAPA cvi 1976, 267–90. On Tissaphernes see H. D. Westlake, ‘Tissaphernes in Thucydides’, CQ2 xxxv 1985, 43–54 = his Studies in Thucydides and Greek History, 166–80. Among those who have rejected Lewis’s Treaty of Boeotius is C. J. Tuplin, ‘The Treaty of Boiotios’, Achaemenid History ii 1984 [publ. 1987], 133–53.

For the suggestion that Athens’ support for Amorges was not a cause (as in Andoc. III. Peace 29) but a result of Persia’s support for Sparta see H. D. Westlake, ‘Athens and Amorges’, Phoen. xxxi 1977, 319–29 = his Studies in Thucydides and Greek History, 103–12. The effect of political divisions on Athenian generals and strategies is discussed by A. Andrewes, ‘The Generals in the Hellespont, 411–407’, JHS lxxiii 1953, 2–9.

For a series of studies of episodes of which Xenophon and Diodorus give markedly different accounts see R. J. Littman, ‘The Strategy of the Battle of Cyzicus’, TAPA xcix 1968, 265–72; C. Ehrhardt, ‘Xenophon and Diodorus on Aegospotami’, Phoen. xxiv 1970, 225–8; A. Andrewes, ‘Notion and Kyzikos: The Sources Compared’, JHS cii 1982, 15–25. For the problem of Xenophon’s missing year see A. Andrewes, CAH2 v. 503–5.

On the population of Athens Hansen, Three Studies in Athenian Demography, ch. 3, and Rhodes, Thucydides: History, II, 2111, independently arrived at a total of c. 60,000 adult male citizens before the Peloponnesian War (higher than earlier estimates); and I agree with Hansen, Demography and Democracy, that there were c.30,000 adult male citizens in the fourth century (rather than c. 20,000).

1 NB Chambers modifies Bartoletti’s arrangement of the Florence fragments, so that chs. 3, 4, 5 Bartoletti become chs. 7, 8, 6 Chambers.

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