The Second Athenian League


Athens’ Recovery after the Peloponnesian War

By the treaty which ended the Peloponnesian War Athens lost all its overseas possessions, had its navy limited to twelve ships, and became a subordinate ally of Sparta, bound to follow Sparta’s lead in foreign policy (cf. p. 159). Accordingly it contributed to Sparta’s war against Elis c. 401 (Xen. Hell. III. ii. 25) and to Thibron’s expedition to Asia Minor in 400 (Xen. Hell. III. i. 4: sending oligarchic cavalrymen Athens was glad to be rid of). But it is not long before we find moves towards an independent policy. Arms and officers were sent to the Persian fleet being assembled under Conon’s command, and in 397 envoys were sent to the Persian King, but were caught by the Spartans and executed (Hell. Oxy. 10. i ~ Harding 11. A). In 396 Athens refused to contribute to Agesilaus’ expedition (Paus. III. 9. ii-iii). Demaenetus with the secret backing of the council and of democratic leaders set out with a trireme to join Conon: when he was discovered and reported to the Spartans, the council panicked and pretended to know nothing, but he got away {Hell. Oxy. 9 [~ Harding 11. a], 11).

In 395 Athens was drawn into the Corinthian War fairly readily (and Thrasybulus, opposed to war in 396, was ready for war now: Hell. Oxy. 9. ii, contr. Xen. Hell. III. v. 16). Xenophon’s Theban speech in Athens accepts that Athens wants to recover its empire; Sparta is unpopular in the Peloponnese and has deceived those whom it liberated from Athens; Athens could now become more powerful than ever (Xen. Hell. III. v. 8–15). Athens had started rebuilding the Piraeus walls by 395/4, before Cnidus (IG ii2 1656–7 = R&O 9); work on them and the long walls was helped by the money which Conon brought in 393 (Xen. Hell. IV. viii. 9–10, Diod. Sic. XIV. 85. ii-iii), and the mercenary force at Corinth was commanded by Athenians, first Iphicrates and, after he unsuccessfully tried to seize Corinth for Athens, Chabrias (Androtion FGrH 324 F 48 = Philoch. FGrH328 F 150 ~ Harding 22. A; Xen. Hell. IV viii. 34, Diod. Sic. XIV 92. ii). Cnidus and its aftermath, though in fact a victory of Athens’ traditional enemy, Persia, were treated as a Greek and an Athenian success (cf. p. 244), so extravagantly that Conon became the first living Athenian to be honoured with a statue in the agora (Dem. XX. Leptines 68–70); Athens also honoured Evagoras of Salamis, likewise associated with Cnidus (R&O 11), Dionysius of Syracuse, whom Conon hoped to detach from Sparta (IG ii2 18 = R&O 10 ~ Harding 20, Lys. XIX. Property of Aristophanes19–20; cf. p. 320) and others, and Conon was honoured in Erythrae (IK Erythrai und Klazomenai 6 = R&O 8 ~ Harding 12. D).

By 392 Athens had begun to rebuild its navy, and had regained the north Aegean islands of Lemnos, Imbros and Scyros, protecting the route from the Hellespont to Athens, which it had possessed for most of the fifth century (cf. Xen. Hell. TV. viii. 15, Andoc. III.Peace 12). It had also regained Delos (independent shortly after the war, /. Delos 87 = R&O 3; administered by Athenian and probably Andrian amphictyons 393/2-389/8, /. Delos 97). The first peace proposals in 392 would have deprived it of all overseas possessions once more; the second in 392/1 made an exception of the northern islands but not of Delos; Andocides’ speech on that occasion suggests that some Athenians were hankering after more (Andoc. III. Peace 15). In any case the Athenians were not yet ready to agree to a treaty which would abandon the Asiatic Greeks (cf. p. 228). Sparta returned to the Aegean in 391, and Athens’ support for Evagoras when Persia had begun to regard him as a rebel caused embarrassment on all sides; but in 390 Thrasybulus had a remarkable campaign. He was sent to support the democrats in Rhodes; but he went first to the Hellespont, where he mediated between two Thracian rulers and made both allies of Athens; he restored the democracy in Byzantium, made an alliance with Calchedon and imposed a 10 per cent tax on trade passing through the Bosporus (cf. Dem. XX. Leptines 60); he defeated a Spartan harmost on Lesbos; there are traces of his activity in various other places in the islands and on the mainland; he imposed a general 5 per cent tax, and claimed the right to exile men from the territory of Athens and its allies (IG ii2 24/28 = R&O -718 ~ Harding 25/26). He finally reached Rhodes, but early the next year he was killed on a fund-raising expedition to Aspendus, on the south coast of Asia Minor (Xen. Hell. IV. viii. 25–30, Diod. Sic. XIV. 94, 99. iv-v). By then he had been ordered back to Athens, and his colleague Ergocles was charged with embezzlement (Lys. XXVIII. Ergocles, XXIX. Philocrates).His successor Agyrrhius did little, but Iphicrates, sent to the Hellespont, defeated and killed the Spartan Anaxibius at Abydus (Xen. Hell IV. viii. 31–9).

In 387 Iphicrates and Diotimus blockaded the Spartan Nicolochus in Abydus, but Antalcidas rescued him by a trick, captured a further Athenian squadron coming from Thrace, and so regained control of the Hellespont (Xen. Hell.

V. i. 6–7, 25–8). Athenian recriminations are revealed by a decree honouring Phanocritus of Parium: the original proposal, which was presumably bland, does not survive, but an amendment makes it clear that Phanocritus had given information about the enemy ships which the generals had disbelieved (IG ii2 29 = R&O 19). The Athenians did not lose hope: inscriptions show Athens giving reassurances to Erythrae ‘about not giving up Erythrae to the barbarians’, and deciding not to send a garrison and governor to Clazomenae as long as it paid Thrasybulus’ 5 per cent tax (SEGxxvi 1282//G ii2 28 = R&O 17/18 ~ Harding 28/26). But when Antalcidas again offered a common peace treaty the Athenians and the other Greeks had to accept it: the Asiatic Greeks were surrendered to Persia; Athens’ three northern islands were the only exceptions to the autonomy rule, so it lost Delos once more; and Sparta proceeded to interpret the autonomy rule in its own interests. Athens had, nevertheless, made a very rapid and convincing recovery from its defeat in the Peloponnesian War.

The Foundation of the Second Athenian League

The abandonment of the Asiatic Greeks, to which Sparta had committed itself in 412–411, had at last taken place, and was seen as a great betrayal. In Aristophanes, as early as Peace (421), we can find the idea that while the Greeks quarrel among themselves they are exposing themselves to the possibility of an attack by Persia (Peace 105–8, 406–8, Lys. 1128–35). Gorgias in his Olympic Speech, best dated 408, and his Funeral Speech, of unknown date, had claimed that the Greeks ought to fight against the barbarians, not against one another (82 A 1. iv-v DK). Lysias’ (XXXIII)Olympic Speech is dated 388 by Diodorus (XrV. 109. iii) but more probably belongs to 384: it appears to be complaining of the situation after the King’s Peace, when some Greeks were subject to Persia and others to the tyranny of Dionysius of Syracuse, and calling on Sparta to lead the Greeks in reasserting their freedom. Isocrates in his (IV) Panegyric, c.380, contrasted the glories of the alleged fifth-century Peace of Callias (cf. pp. 53–4) with the humiliation of the Peace of Antalcidas (§§117-20) and, while nominally pleading for Athens and Sparta to be reconciled and to cooperate against Persia (§§16-17), went on to defend Athens’ fifth-century empire (§§ 100–6) and to claim that Athens should lead the Greeks against Persia once more (cf. his later summary, XV. Antid. 57–62; another condemnation of the Peace XII. Panath. 106).

But in the years after 386 the peace and Sparta’s interpretation of it were facts to be lived with. In 386/5 the Thracian Hebryzelmis was praised but not granted an alliance (IG ii2 31 = Tod 117 ~ Harding 29). In 385 Athens was afraid to help Mantinea against Sparta, though it did take in refugees afterwards (Diod. Sic. XV. 5.v,IG ii2 33. 7–8). In 382 there was talk of an alliance with Olynthus when that was threatened by Sparta (Xen. Hell. V. ii. 15), but none seems to have been made; refugees were taken in once more, from Thebes when that was occupied by Sparta (Xen. Hell. V. ii. 31, Plut. Pel. 6. iii-v). But Chios, Mytilene and Byzantium maintained their connection with Athens (Isoc. XIV Plataic 26–7), and in 384/3 Athens found a solution appropriate to the new circumstances: a defensive alliance with Chios was made, on the basis of freedom and autonomy and within the framework of the King’s Peace (IG ii2 34–5 = R&O 20 ~ Harding 31).

In 379/8 theTheban exiles set out from Athens to overthrow the pro-Spartan regime (Xen. Hell. V. iv. 2, Diod. Sic. XV 25. i, Plut. Pel. 7–12), and they received military support from Athens - apparently unofficial according to Xenophon, official according to Diodorus and others; perhaps forces were sent officially to the border and on their own initiative entered Boeotia (Xen. Hell. V. iv. 9; Diod. Sic. XV 25. iv-26, cf. Din. I. Demosthenes 38–9, Aristid. I. Panathenaic 294). When Cleombrotus took a Spartan army he had to go via Plataea since Chabrias was blocking the route through Attica (Xen. Hell. V. i. 14).When Sparta protested, Athens panicked and condemned the generals who had gone to Boeotia (Xen. Hell. V. iv. 19, cf. 22, Plut. Pel. 14. i; omitted by Diod. Sic). It was while Spartan envoys were in Athens that Sphodrias invaded Attica from Thespiae; Athens protested but the Spartans acquitted him; and Athens then came out openly in opposition to Sparta (cf. p. 249).

Xenophon reports that the Athenians put gates on the Piraeus, and proceeded to build ships and support the Boeotians enthusiastically (Hell. V. iv. 34), but he does not directly mention the Second Athenian League. Diodorus has an account (XV 28–9) which dovetails well with an important series of inscriptions. After Cleombrotus’ winter expedition (27. iii) the Boeotians united in an alliance [perhaps the first move towards the revival of the federation], and Athens sent envoys to the states under Sparta’s control, inviting them to assert their common freedom. This met with considerable success, first with Chios and Byzantium, then with Rhodes, Mytilene and others. Excited at the good will of the allies, Athens established a council (synedrion) of allies, to meet in Athens, each member having one vote, the members to be autonomous and Athens to be the leader(hegemon). Sparta tried to discourage cities from joining, and prepared for a hard war (28). After a digression on Persia’s current attempt to recover Egypt (29. i-iv), Diodorus continues with the episode of Sphodrias, whom he calls Sphodriades, and which he is probably wrong to place here rather than before the creation of the League; the Athenians voted that Sparta was in breach of the peace and decided to go to war; they admitted Thebes to the synedrion on the same terms as the other members; and they voted to give up existing cleruchies and forbade Athenians to farm land outside Attica (29. v-viii).

In the epigraphic record the first stage is the alliance of 384/3 with Chios, which was used as a model for the League. Next Byzantium is made an ally of Athens and the other allies, on the same terms as Chios (IG ii2 41 = Tod 121 ~ Harding 34). A later stage is represented by a decree for Methymna, on Lesbos, which is already an ally of Athens and now has its alliance extended to the other allies; the synedrion now exists and is involved in the oath-taking, and Methymna is to be added to an already existing list of allies(IG ii2 42 = R&O 23 ~ Harding 37; for adding to the list cf. below). A very fragmentary inscription contains an amendment to a decree concerning Thebes, and mentions men from Chios and Mytilene (IG ii2 40; trans, of a speculative reconstruction Harding 33).

We also have an inscription of spring 378/7 which embodies a prospectus for the League, setting out not its organisation (the existence of the synedrion is taken for granted) but its aim and the terms on which states are invited to join, followed by a list of members(IG ii2 43 = R&O 22 ~ Harding 35: see ill. 18 and box). The aim of the League is, ‘So that the Spartans shall allow the Greeks to be free and autonomous, and to live at peace occupying their own territory in security, [[and so that the peace and friendship sworn by the Greeks and the King may be in force and endure in accordance with the agreements]]’ (11. 9–15; for the later erasure of the bracketed clause see p. 272). An invitation is extended to Greeks and barbarians outside the King’s domain to join, subject to various promises: they are to be free and autonomous, with whatever constitution they wish, not subjected to a governor or garrison or to the payment of tribute, on the same terms as Chios, Thebes and the other allies (11. 15–25). All properly publicly or privately owned by Athenians in allied territory will be renounced; all stelai (inscribed stones) at Athens unfavourable to any allies will be demolished; from 378/7 it will be illegal for Athenians publicly or privately to own property in allied territory, and charges in connection with this are to be laid before the synedrion (11. 25–46).The alliance is to be a defensive alliance (11. 46–51). After a clause providing for the publication of the decree with a list of members (11. 63–72), the decree ends with the appointment of envoys to go to Thebes [possibly to persuade the Thebans to join as Thebans, not as Boeotians] (11. 73–7).

Aristoteles proposed:

For the good fortune of the Athenians and of the allies of the Athenians. So that the Spartans shall allow the Greeks to be free and autonomous, and to live at peace occupying their own territory in security, [[and so that the peace and the friendship sworn by the Greeks and the King may be in force and endure in accordance with the agreements]], be it decreed by the people:

If any of the Greeks or of the barbarians living in Europe or of the islanders, who are not the King’s, wishes to be an ally of the Athenians and their allies, he may be - being free and autonomous, being governed under whatever form of constitution he wishes, neither receiving a garrison nor submitting to a governor nor paying tribute, on the same terms as the Chians and the Thebans and the other allies. (IG ii2 43, 7–25: bracketed clause later erased)

III. 18 The prospectus of the Second Athenian League, inv. no. EM10397. Epigraphical Museum, Athens/ Hellenic Ministry of Culture, Archaeological Receipts Fund


The promises are promises that Athens will not treat this League as it had treated the Delian League, and they also serve to spell out what freedom and autonomy are to mean in practical terms. The model is now not just Chios but Chios and Thebes, which suggests that these specific promises may have been added at the point when Thebes joined. The promise about Athenian-owned properly is separate from the original list, and also appears at a later point in Diodorus’ account, so it should be seen as an addition to the original scheme: it applies only to states which join the League as free and autonomous allies, and therefore not to Lemnos, Imbros and Scyros (which had been recognised as Athenian possessions in the King’s Peace). It is not in fact likely that there was much Athenian-owned properly elsewhere at this date, or that there were many stelai unfavourable to potential allies: these clauses indicate that the decks will be completely cleared, not that there is much clearing to be done.

The list of members was inscribed in instalments by different hands. It begins below the original decree; below that part of the list there survives the beginning of another decree; the list continues on the left-hand side of the stele. Inscribed in the same hand as the original decree, presumably at the same time, are Chios, Mytilene, Methymna, Rhodes, Byzantium and, heading a second column, Thebes (i. 79–83, ii. 79): these were still the only members in the spring of 377. (The decree for Methymna, mentioned above, provided for Methymna to be added to an already existing list: perhaps Methymna joined after the general decree had been enacted but before it was inscribed.) The remaining batches of names will be considered below when we look at the development of the League. Diodorus claims that seventy members joined (XV. 30. ii); Aeschines claims that seventy-five were lost in the Social War of the 350’s (Aeschin. II. Embassy 70); there were fifty-three or slightly more in the inscribed list. Despite the League’s declared purpose, most of the members were states not seriously threatened by Sparta in the 370’s.

The structure of this League was different from that of the Delian League (cf. p. 20). Probably (until 454/3, when the council was abandoned) the Delian League had a council in which Athens had one vote along with each of the allies. This League had asynedrion permanently in Athens, of which Athens was almost certainly not a member, with its own presidential apparatus (a Theban president in R&O 29). For League matters, the synedrion and the Athenian council both acted as probouleutic bodies, and the Athenian assembly took the final decision, but presumably could not commit the allies to a decision they had said they would not accept. Thus Athens’ two decrees of 368 for Dionysius of Syracuse (IG ii2 103/105 + 223 = R&O 33/34 ~ Harding -752: cf. p. 272) show the council sending a recommendation directly to the assembly on an Athenian matter but asking the opinion of the synedrion ‘about the building of the temple [at Delphi] and the peace’, which must cover the question of admitting Dionysius to the League; and the synedrion must have refused to have Dionysius as a member, since the second decree makes a bilateral alliance between Dionysius and Athens. In a decree of 362/1 (IG i2 112 = R&O 41 ~ Harding 56) the synedrion took the initiative in accepting an alliance with Peloponnesian states, it passed its recommendation to the council and the council passed it to the assembly. We shall see that, at different stages in the negotiation of the Peace of Philocrates between Athens and Philip in 346, the synedrion put forward recommendations; but by then it was a weak body, and it also said it would accept whatever Athens decided (cf. pp. 277, 348). At the end of 373/2 the synedrion imposed a settlement after a civil war in Paros, and Athens required Paros to send offerings to festivals as a colony (R&O 29).

We do not hear of any trials of the kinds provided for - by the synedrion if Athenians were accused of owning property in allied territory, by Athens and the allies [perhaps in these cases the synedrion would have been invited to confirm an Athenian verdict] if anybody [apparently any Athenian] was accused of trying to overturn the arrangements for the League. The first procedure envisages a common fund of the allies, to benefit from confiscations. On the other hand, the promise not to collect tribute, repeated in decrees for some individual allies, makes it hard to believe that there were regular financial levies from the beginning; presumably the assumption was that allied states would provide and pay for their own forces. There may have been some voluntary fund-raising: in 375 there is a complaint that the Thebans were not providing money for a naval campaign which they had instigated (Xen. Hell. VI. ii. 1, cf. V. iv. 62). There were financial problems in 373 (cf. below), and it may have been at that point that the decision was taken to collect money after all, but to call the payments not phoros, ‘tribute’, but syntaxeis, ‘contributions’ ([Dem.] XLIX. Timotheus49, Theopompus FGrH 115 F 98 ~ Harding 36). Evidence for sums collected is scanty and late: totals of 45 talents in the late 350’s, 60 talents c.347 (Dem. XVIII. Crown 234, Aeschin. II. Embassy 71) and 5 talents each from Eretria and Oreus in the late 340’s (Aeschin. III. Ctesiphon 94, 100). The synedrion seems to have approved both assessments and expenditure (IG ii2 233 = R&O 72 ~ Harding 97. 27–8; IG ii2 123 = R&O 52 ~ Harding 69. 9–11). ‘The men elected by the people to exact from the islanders the money that they owe’ (IG ii2 111 = R&O 39 ~ Harding 55. 12–14) were perhaps men appointed to collect arrears of syntaxeis. It does not look as if there was ever a likelihood that the syntaxeis would become a means of Athenian oppression.

The Development of the League: To Leuctra

The second batch in the League’s list of members (ii. 80–4) comprises the cities of Euboea other than Histiaea/Oreus, and nearby Icus: these are the first additions mentioned by Diodorus (XV 30. i), and we have a decree for the admission of Chalcis, still in 378/7(IG ii2 44 = Tod 124 ~ Harding 38). In the summer of 377 Chabrias attacked Histiaea but did not capture it (cf. p. 286; force could be used against states reluctant to join), and then recruited members elsewhere in the Aegean, including Peparethus and Sciathus (Diod. Sic. XV 30. ii-v; on the stele i. 85–9, including Peparethus and Sciathus). 376 was the year in which a Spartan blockade threatened Athens’ corn supply but Chabrias with an Athenian fleet escorted the corn ships and then besieged Naxos and defeated the Spartans (Xen. Hell V iv. 60–1, Diod. Sic. XV. 34. iii-35. ii): perhaps all the remaining members on the front of the stele joined this year. His victory was the first major Athenian naval success since the Peloponnesian War, and he was honoured with a statue in the agora (Aeschin. III. Ctesiphon 243, Arist. Rh. III. 1411 B 6–7, Nep. XII. Chab. 1. iii); a surviving statue base (Hesp. xxx 1961, 74–91) records honours awarded by various bodies resulting from his campaigns of 376 and 375.

Probably the first entry on the left-hand side of the stele is 11. 131–4, level with the beginning of the list on the front, and some distance below the other entries: ‘The People of Zacynthus in Nellus’.This must be connected in some way with Timotheus’ campaign of 375, possibly the beginning rather than the end. At the top of the left-hand side (11. 97–8) the best restoration is: ‘The People of Pyrrha’, on Lesbos, known to be a member but not listed elsewhere. Next come Abdera and other places in the north-east (11. 99–105: Olynthus is included, as ‘The Chalcidians from Thrace’: cf. ill. 19). These will result from a campaign of Chabrias in 375, when he defended Abdera against a Thracian attack, installed a garrison (breaking one of the League’s promises, however virtuously), and, despite an error in Diodorus’ text, was not murdered (Diod. Sic. XV. 36. i-iv). Prompted by the Thebans, Conon’s son Timotheus campaigned in the west: of his gains Xenophon mentions Corcyra, Diodorus mentions Cephallenia, Acarnania and king Alcetas of the Molossi; he defeated the Spartans off Alyzia opposite Leucas, after which the King’s Peace was renewed, and he was recalled to Athens but restored exiles in Zacynthus on his way home (Xen. Hell. V iv. 62–6, Diod. Sic. XV 36. v-vi). Acarnania, one city of Cephallenia, and Alcetas and his son Neoptolemus appear on the stele (11. 106–10; we do not know what name has been erased in 1. Ill, but the frequent guess that it was Jason of Pherae is insecure: cf. p. 286), but not Corcyra or the other cities of Cephallenia; separate inscriptions provide for the admission of Corcyra, Acarnania and Cephallenia (IG ii2 96 = R&O 24 ~ Harding 41, dated 375/4) and record the admission of Corcyra (IG ii2 97 = Tod 127 ~ Harding 42) and arrangements with Cephallenia including reference to a garrison (Agora xvi 46).The most likely explanation is that proceedings were interrupted by the renewal of the King’s Peace and the recall of Timotheus to Athens, then further delayed by the renewed fighting in the west, and not completed until the end of that fighting in 372 (cf. below). Timotheus like Chabrias was honoured with a statue in the agora (Aeschin. III. Ctesiphon 243, Nep XIII. Timoth. 2. iii). He and Conon were honoured in other places too, and texts referring to him and the year 375/4 have been read on the base of the ‘dancing girls’ column north-east of the temple of Apollo at Delphi (cf. SEG xxxiii 440).

Ill. 19 ‘Chalcidians’: coin showing that name still in use after 379. Hirmer Verlag, Munich


Other names on the stele (11. 112–30) are from the Aegean; certainly none is later than 373 and probably none is later than 375. This batch begins with Andros: Delos was presumably made independent of Athens under the Peace of Antalcidas (cf. p. 263), but Athenian amphictyons are attested there again from 377/6, and they are joined by Andrians from 374/3 (/. Delos 98 = R&O 28). There was room on the stele for further names but, for whatever reason, although the League continued to grow (cf. Xen. Hell. VI. ii. 11–13, Diod. Sic. XV. 47. ii-iii, on Timotheus’ activity in the Aegean in 373), further names were not added to the list.

When Timotheus, on his way back to Athens, restored exiles in Zacynthus, Sparta protested. In 374 Sparta sent expeditions to Zacynthus and to Corcyra; in 373 it sent a further sixty ships under Mnasippus to Corcyra, and he ravaged the countryside and blockaded the city. Timotheus delayed in coming from Athens, because of difficulties in raising men and money in the Aegean, and it was perhaps in response to these difficulties that the levying of syntaxeis was introduced (cf. p. 268). He was deposed and put on trial (cf. [Dem.] XLIX. Timotheus 6–24, naming Callistratus and Iphicrates as prosecutors and saying that Alcetas and Jason spoke in his defence; Diodorus wrongly has him reinstated). Ctesicles went over land in winter 373/2 and enabled the Corcyraeans to defeat and kill Mnasippus; Iphicrates arrived by sea in 372, pausing in Cephallenia when he knew that Mnasippus was dead; he arrived in time to defeat a Syracusan squadron sent to support Sparta, and then hired out his sailors to work on the land in Corcyra and himself and his soldiers to fight for the Acarnanians. In 371 he collected money in Cephallenia and was preparing to attack Laconia when he was overtaken by the next peace treaty (Xen. Hell. VI. ii. 2–39, Diod. Sic. XV 45–46. iii, 47. i-vii). Before the campaign of 373/2 Diodorus has a chapter on Iphicrates’ military innovations, crediting him in particular with converting hoplites into peltasts by giving them the lightThracian shield, the pelte, lengthening their swords and spears and devising the Iphicratid boot (cf. the Wellington boot of the nineteenth century AD) (Diod. Sic. XV 44, cf. Nep. XL Iph. 1. iii-iv): apart from the boot, there is no other indication that hoplite equipment was changed in these ways, and if there is any truth behind the report it may refer to an experiment with the mercenaries whom Iphicrates had been commanding in Egypt.

Thebes was becoming an increasingly embarrassing member of the League. It provided ships forTimotheus in 373 ([Dem.] XLIX. Timotheus 14–16), and a president for the synedrion on the last day of 373/2 (R&O 29); but it destroyed Plataea, refounded after the Peace of Antalcidas, in 373/2 and put increasing pressure on Thespiae (cf. p. 285). The peace of summer 371 resulted from an approach by Athens to Sparta when Callistratus argued that Athens and Sparta ought to be on the same side, and Thebes was excluded from the treaty (cf. p. 232). That was followed by Thebes’ defeat of Sparta at Leuctra, a battle in which Athens was not involved.

The Development of the League: From Leuctra to the Social War

The Thebans announced their victory at Leuctra to their Athenian allies, but the herald was received with a stony silence (Xen. Hell. VI. iv. 19–20). The peace treaty of autumn 371 was organised by Athens: it included Sparta and excluded Thebes; it was based on ‘the decrees of the Athenians and their allies’ [i.e. freedom and autonomy were to be understood as in the League]; its territorial basis was probably echein ta heauton, that states should possess what belonged to them, which Athens was to exploit in the years that followed (cf. pp. 232–3).The aim of the League, ‘So that the Spartans shall allow the Greeks to be free and autonomous, and to live at peace occupying their own territory in security’, had been accomplished by Thebes’ defeat of Sparta - Sparta would not after this be a threat to the freedom and autonomy of the Greeks - but, as Athens did not disband the Delian League when it gave up regular warfare against Persia in the middle of the fifth century (cf. pp. 53–6), it did not now disband the Second League. However, it was increasingly to pursue policies which the League’s members could not join in supporting.

Thebes must now have ceased to be a member of the League, as did the other central Greek members, which adhered to Thebes rather than to Athens. It was now in Athens’ interests to support not Thebes but Sparta, so in 370 Athens rejected the appeal from Arcadia and its allies (Diod. Sic. XV. 62. iii; later denounced as a bad decision by Dem. XVI. Megalopolitans 12, 19), and in winter 370/69 sent Iphicrates to attack the Thebans on their homeward journey - which he did ineffectively: some Athenians were slower than others to recognise the new reality (Xen. Hell. VI. v. 49–52: cf. pp. 307–8). In 369 a firm alliance was made between Athens and Sparta, but anachronistic fear led to the decision that the command should alternate between the two every five days, not be given to Athens at sea and Sparta on land (Xen. Hell. VII. i. 1–14, Diod. Sic. XV 67. i: cf. p. 308). When the Thebans returned to the Peloponnese, Chabrias was effective in fighting against them (Diod. Sic. XV 69). We learn from an inscription that in 369/8 envoys went to Athens from Mytilene, anxious about the new policy: the leading politician Callistratus was responsible for the reply, that when Sparta broke the treaties and threatened the Greeks Athens called on the Greeks to join in resisting, but… [and frus-tratingly the rest of the text is lost] (IG ii2 107 = R&O 31 ~ Harding 53. 35 sqq.). Now that Athens and Sparta were on the same side, Athens made an alliance with Dionysius of Syracuse, but it appears that the synedrion refused to have him as a member of the League (IG ii2 103/105 + 223 = R&O 33/34 ~ Harding -752: cf. p. 267).

To add to the allies’ discomfiture, Athens began to exploit the echein ta heauton clause in the peace to attempt to recover former possessions in the north-east: Amphipolis, which it had lost to the Spartans in 424/3 and should have recovered under the Peace of Nicias in 421 but did not (cf. pp. 117–18, 120), was a matter of pride as well as economic advantage; the Chersonese, on the European side of the Hellespont, through which the corn ships sailed from the Black Sea to Athens, was an area in which Athens had been interested since the sixth century. In the hinterland was the Odrysian kingdom of Thrace, with which Athens was always anxious to maintain a good relationship: Hebryzelmis was succeeded by Cotys in 383/2; at some date he was made an Athenian citizen, and c.386 Iphicrates married his sister (Dem. XXIII. Aristocrates 118, 129).

In 368 Iphicrates was sent against Amphipolis: he at first supported one claimant to the Macedonian throne, Ptolemy, against his rival Pausanias, but later fell out with Ptolemy (Aeschin. II. Embassy 26–9, Dem. XXIII. Aristocrates 149). Thebes too became interested in Macedon through its involvement in Thessaly, and in 368, when Thebes was attacking Alexander of Pherae, Athens sent a force under Autocles to support him (Diod. Sic. XV. 71. v). So in 367, when Pelopidas gained the King’s support for peace terms advantageous to Thebes, those terms were to include the disbanding of the Athenian navy (cf. p. 234). Too many states were provoked, and Thebes did not get its treaty, but it was probably at this point that the Athenians erased the reference to the King’s Peace in the prospectus of the League (cf. p. 265: it did not occur to them to erase the hostile reference to Sparta immediately before), and Athens like Sparta gave its support to the satraps in revolt against the King. Ariobarzanes and Philiscus, the agent he sent to Greece in 369/8 (cf. p. 234), were made Athenian citizens (Dem. XXIII. Aristocrates 141, cf. 202), and in 366Timotheus was sent to support Ariobarzanes yet not break the King’s Peace. From autumn 366 to autumn 365 he besieged Samos and captured it from the Persians (Isoc. XV. Antid. Ill, Dem. XV Lib. Rhod. 9), after which Athens shocked the Greek world by not liberating Samos but turning it into an Athenian cleruchy (Diod. Sic. XVIII. 18. ix, Strabo 638. XIV. i. 18, Arist. Rh. II. 1384 B 32–5; reinforced in 362/1, schol. Aeschin. I. Timarchus 53). He was joined by the Spartan Agesilaus in relieving Ariobarzanes when he was besieged in Adramyttium or Assus (Xen. Ages. ii. 26, PolyaenusStrat. VII. 26). In 365/4 he replaced Iphicrates on the Amphipolis front (Dem. XXIII.Aristocrates 149, schol. Aeschin. II. Embassy 31), after which Iphicrates first fought for Cotys against Athens, then retired to fortresses of his own (Dem. XXIII. Aristocrates 130–2). Timotheus captured various cities including Potidaea, which by invitation became another Athenian cleruchy (Diod. Sic. XV. 81. vi, Din. I. Demosthenes 14; cleruchy 362/1IG ii2 114 = Tod 146 ~ Harding 58).

The continuation of this war need not be followed in detail: it included some successes (Timotheus captured Sestos and Crithote, in the Chersonese: Nep. XIII. Timoth. 1. iii, Isoc. XV. Antid. 108, 112) but also some failures (in 360/59, after being defeated near Amphipolis, Timotheus burned his fleet rather than let it fall into enemy hands [schol. Aeschin. II. Embassy 31, Polyaenus Strat. III. 10. viii]). Shortage of money remained a problem:Timotheus issued bronze coins, some of which have been found at Olynthus ([Arist.] Oec. II. 1350 A 23–30, cf. CAH2 pis. v-vi no. 227). Several commanders were insufficiently successful and were prosecuted; Amphipolis continued to elude Athens.

Nearer home Oropus, disputed between Athens and Boeotia (cf. p. 153), was made independent in 404 (cf. Lys. XXXI. Philon 9) but not long afterwards absorbed into Boeotia again (Diod. Sic. XIV. 17. i-iii); it was presumably made independent again under the Peace of Antalcidas; but by 373/2 it had placed itself in Athens’ hands (Isoc. XrV. Plataic 20). In 366 Themison, tyrant of Eretria, seized it, claiming to support a body of exiles. Athens recalled Chares from the Peloponnese and tried to recapture it; it was entrusted to the Thebans pending arbitration, and they were allowed to keep it (Xen. Hell. VII. iv. 1, Diod. Sic. XV 76. i, schol. Aeschin. III. Ctesiphon 85, Agatharchides FGrH 86 F 8). Chares returned to the Peloponnese and was involved in an unsuccessful attempt ‘to keep Corinth safe for the Athenian people’. As affairs in the Peloponnese became more complicated, in 366 Athens became an ally of Arcadia and in 364 it supported the Arcadians in their war against Elis (cf. pp. 255–6).

In 364 the Thebans stepped up their hostility to Athens. Epaminondas had urged them to build dockyards and a hundred triremes (it is not clear whether all of these were built); he tried to win over Rhodes, Chios and Byzantium (we have a decree in which Cnidus makes Epaminondas itsproxenos, SEG xliv 901, and one in which the Boeotians appoint a Byzantine proxenos, SEG xxxiv 355, but neither is precisely dated); in a naval campaign he drove away an Athenian fleet under Laches (Diod. Sic. XV 78. iv-79. i). Revolts in Ceos in 363/2, dealt with by Chabrias (IG ii2 111 = R&O 39 ~ Harding 55), may have been encouraged by Thebes’ challenge to Athens, but there seems to have been a local reason, in that the Ceans preferred to function as a single entity while Athens preferred to deal with the cities separately. Whatever Thebes’ naval campaign may have achieved, it was not repeated; but in 362 and 361 Alexander of Pherae inThessaly, after being subjected to Thebes, turned against his Athenian allies, attacking some of the Aegean islands and defeating an Athenian fleet under Leosthenes, and even raiding the Piraeus (Diod. Sic. XV 95. i-iii, Polyaenus Strat. VI. 2, [Dem.] L. Polycles 4). In response to that, in 361/0 the Athenians broke off their alliance with Alexander and made an alliance with the federation ofThessalians opposed to him (IG ii2 116 = R&O 44 ~ Harding 59).

In the course of the 360’s Athens had done a great deal to alarm its allies. The founder of an anti-Spartan League had become an ally of Sparta. Already in the 370’s garrisons, however justifiable, and levies of money called syntaxeis had appeared, and Paros had been treated as a colony and required to send offerings to Athenian festivals (R&O 29). Cleruchies in Samos and Potidaea, and attempts at conquest in the north, did not impinge directly on the states which were members of the League, but they were worryingly reminiscent of the fifth century, and the members must have wondered how far the League’s promises would protect them. In Ceos revolts were firmly put down, and some major lawsuits had been made transferable to Athens (IG ii2 111 = R&O 39 ~ Harding 55). Chares in 361/0 supported the oligarchs in civil strife in Corcyra, and gained Athens a bad reputation (Diod. Sic. XV. 95. iii, Aen.Tact. xi. 13–15). Athens’ alliance with Peloponnesian states in 362/1 was recommended by the synedrion (IG ii2 112 = R&O 41 ~ Harding 56. 18–19), but there is no sign that for the alliance with the Thessalians it was consulted or given the chance to swear, though the alliance included the League (IG ii2 116 = R&O 44 ~ Harding 59).

The situation in the north was transformed by two deaths. In 360/59 the Thracian Cotys was murdered, and his son Cersebleptes was challenged by two rivals, Berisades and Amadocus. We learn, mostly from Demosthenes, of a series of Athenian attempts to reach a satisfactory settlement with them. After earlier agreements, which he regarded as shameful, in winter 357/6 Chares secured ‘most excellent and just’ terms: Thrace was divided between Berisades in the west, Amadocus in the centre and Cersebleptes in the east, but for some purposes was regarded as a single entity, and some Greek cities were regarded both as dependent on the Thracian rulers and as allies owing syntaxeis to Athens (Dem. XXIII. Aristocrats 163–73, cf. IG ii2 126 = R&O 47 ~ Harding 64).

In 359 Perdiccas of Macedon was killed in a war against the Illyrians and succeeded by his brother Philip. One of the rival claimants, Argaeus, was backed by Athens. Philip tried to keep his enemies divided, and withdrew from Amphipolis, suggesting that he would allow Athens to acquire it (for references to secret talks or promises cf. p. 338). The Athenian force failed to support Argaeus, and he was defeated (Diod. Sic. XVI. 2. vi-3. vi). But in 357 Philip captured Amphipolis and retained it for himself, leaving the Athenians to claim that he had cheated them, as a result of which they declared war on him (Diod. Sic. XVI. 8. ii-iii, Isoc. V. Philip 2, Aeschin. II. Embassy 70, III. Ctesiphon 54); at the beginning of the year 356/5 they made an alliance with Philip’s barbarian neighbours (IG ii2 127 = R&O 53 ~ Harding 70). We shall look at Philip and the Athenians’ dealings with him in chapter 24; but other concerns prevented them from prosecuting the war against him for Amphipolis.

In 357 the Athenians had an important success. Since Leuctra the cities of Euboea had been allied with Thebes, not Athens, but now Athens took advantage of disagreement between pro-Theban and pro-Athenian parties to regain Euboea for Athens - within thirty days according to Aeschines (Diod. Sic. XVI. 7. ii, Aeschin. III. Ctesiphon 85). An inscription of 357/6 preserves the end of the treaty with Carystus and mentions the other cities (IG ii2 124 = R&O 48 ~ Harding 65), and ends with eight names of generals who swore to it: the first name is erased but decipherable as Chabrias; of the second there survives only the beginning, Cha[-]. Editors have usually supposed the second name to be Chares, and have been puzzled as to why Chabrias should have been erased; but we obtain an easier timetable and an explanation if we suppose that Chares was not included, because he was away making the final agreement with the Thracian rulers, and that Chabrias’ name was inscribed twice in error and therefore erased once.

But that success was followed by failure in the Social War, Athens’ war with the allies. Different texts point to different dates and durations; Diodorus narrates it in two sections, under 358/7 and 356/5, and probably his sections actually belong to the campaigning seasons of 356 and 355. He states that Rhodes, Chios, Cos and Byzantium rose against Athens (we have no other evidence that Cos was a member of the League, but it is not unlikely). In the background was Mausolus of Caria, for whom the Greek world provided the easier option for expansion after the collapse of the Satraps’ Revolt (Dem. XV. Lib. Rhod. 3; Erythrae’s honours for Mausolus, IK. Erythrai und Klazomenai 8 = R&O 56, may have been awarded at this time). An Athenian fleet under Chares blockaded Chios, but was decisively beaten at sea, and Chabrias (not a general, despite Diodorus, so the date must be 356/5) was killed (Diod. Sic. XVI. 7. iii-iv; Chabrias Nep. XII. Chab. 4. i, cf. Dem. XX. Leptines 82). In 355 the rebels took the offensive, raiding Lemnos, Imbros and other islands and besieging Samos. Athens sent Timotheus, Iphicrates and Menestheus with sixty ships to join the sixty under Chares (making the largest Athenian fleet known in the period 404–323). They headed for Byzantium and the rebels followed; at Embata, between Chios and the mainland, the others refused to fight owing to bad weather, and Chares had to withdraw or fought and was defeated. He denounced his colleagues, who were deposed and recalled for trial (cf. p. 309), and himself retired into the service of Artabazus the satrap of Dascylium, now in revolt against Persia, but was recalled when the Persians protested. There was a fear that Persia might in response support the rebels, so the war ended, with Athens accepting defeat and several east Greek members leaving the League; those to the south passed into the orbit of Mausolus (Diod. Sic. XVI. 21–22. ii, Polyaenus Strat. III. 9. xxix; loss of members Isoc. VIII. Peace 16, Dem. XV Lib. Rhod. 26; for Artabazus and Mausolus cf. pp. 362–4).

Before and during the war we find further garrisons in allied territory. It was probably in 357/6 (to fit what is known of his career) that Arcesine on Amorgus honoured Androtion, who had been governor for at least two years and had lent money without interest for purposes including the payment of a garrison (IG xn. vii 5 = R&O 51 ~ Harding 68): we do not know why Athens had subjected Arcesine to a governor and a garrison, but on my dating of the war and the inscription this will have been before the war. An Athenian decree of summer 357/6, during the war on all chronologies and arising out of the war, provides for one of the generals to take care of Andros, and for its garrison to be paid ‘out of the syntaxeis in accordance with the resolutions of the allies’ (IG ii2 123 = R&O 52 ~ Harding 69).

Defeats at sea and the secession of major allies suggest that Athens was weaker now than at any time since the Peloponnesian War. Isocrates’ pamphlet (VIII) On the Peace belongs to this context: c.380 in his (IV) Panegyric he had foreshadowed the foundation of the League (cf. pp. 263–4), but now he wrote it off as a failure.True peace was needed, not a mere breathing space (§§16-26); Athenian imperialism with its syntaxeis and synedroi had not worked (§29); Athens should stop aiming to rule at sea, which was neither just nor possible nor expedient (§§64-94, 114–15) - but if Athens did so the Greeks would admire it so much that they would concede all that it wanted (§§22-3, 136–40). Xenophon’s Ways and Means (Porot), written about the same time, likewise claims that Athens needs peace, and that a policy of peace rather than war is more likely to make friends for Athens (§v). These works reflect the current mood in Athens: since Leuctra Athenian foreign policy had lost its way, and under a new generation of politicians ambitious foreign adventures were renounced and the priority was given to financial recovery (cf. pp. 371–2, 374–5).

The Last Years of the League

After the Social War the history of the League is bound up with that of Athens’ dealings with Philip of Macedon: for the context cf. chapter 24.The Chalcidians of Olynthus seem to have left the League in the 360’s as a result of Athens’ revived ambitions in the north-east: an Athenian decree of 363/2 refers to ‘the war against the Chalcidians and against Amphipolis’ (IG ii2 110 = R&O 38. 8–9). In 357 Athens and Philip competed for their allegiance, and Philip was the winner (cf. R&O 50 ~ Harding 67), promising to capture Potidaea for them: he did that in 356, sending the Athenians home (Diod. Sic. XVI. 8. iii-v). By 352/1, however, Olynthus was encircled by Philip and worried, and it then made peace with Athens and rejoined the League (Dem. XXIII. Aristocrates 107–9, cf. IG ii2 211 = Tod 166. 1–3). After Philip had absorbed western and central Thrace, Cersebleptes in the east had come under threat; in 353/2, when Chares had captured Sestos, Cersebleptes ceded the Chersonese (except Cardia, on the isthmus) to Athens, and Athens sent cleruchs (Diod. Sic. XVI. 34. iii-iv, cf. references to Athenian archontes in Dem. XXIII. Aristocrates 159–61).

In 349/8 Philip moved against Olynthus, and there was renewed trouble in Euboea. Demosthenes, who by this time wanted to strike against Philip as near as possible to the heart of Macedon, considered Olynthus the more important, but most Athenians attached a higher priority to Euboea: in the event, Euboea passed out of the Athenian orbit and Philip captured Olynthus. Refugees from Olynthus went to Athens (IG ii2 211 = Tod 166, as normally restored) and to Lemnos (IG xn. vii 4 ~ Harding 81).

Athens still had friends, inside and outside the League: there are records of crowns dedicated in Athens by various cities between 354/3 and 345/4 (IG ii2 1437. 10–18, 1438. 15–16, 1441. 5–18, 1443. 89–122). We happen to know that Mytilene was ruled by an anti-Athenian oligarchy in the late 350’s (Dem. XIII. Organisation 8, XV. Lib. Rhod. 19) and then by a tyrant ([Dem.] XL. Boeotus. ii. 37); but in 347/6 the tyranny was overthrown, perhaps with help from Athens, and Mytilene rejoined the League (IG ii2 213 = Tod 168 ~ Harding 83).

When Athens made peace with Philip in 346, nominally to end the war over Amphipolis, the League was involved. Athens chose a representative of the allies (from Tenedos) to serve on the first embassy to Philip (Aeschin. II. Embassy 20). The synedrion wanted to wait until the results of Athens’ attempts to build up an alliance against Philip were known, but it would then accept whatever Athens decided; Athens followed Demosthenes in putting proposals to Philip’s representatives as soon as they arrived (Aeschin. II.Embassy 60–2). The synedrion then wanted a peace which any Greek state could join within three months, but Demosthenes, after establishing that Philip would not accept that, gained approval for a more limited peace.That more limited peace was between Philip and his allies and Athens and its allies ([Dem.] VII. Halonnesus 31, cf. Dem. XIX.Embassy 278). Some Athenians hoped to interpret that to cover every state with which Athens had an alliance, including Phocis and Halus, with which Philip had not been prepared to make peace. Officially, however, ‘Athens and its allies’ meant the League: Cersebleptes tried but was not allowed to join the League in time to be included in the peace, and then the synedrion swore to the peace on behalf of the allies (Aeschin. II. Embassy 82–90, III. Ctesiphon 73–4). Later, when Philip offered to renegotiate the peace, the Athenians ensured the failure of the negotiations by making demands which Philip could not accept, applying the principle of possessing what belongs to a state to Amphipolis and also to the island of Halonnesus, which Philip offered to give to them but they said he must ‘give back’, since it belonged to them by right ([Dem.] VII. Halonnesus:Amphipolis §§24-9).

At the end of the 340’s the cities of Euboea returned once more to the Athenian side. Callias of Chalcis, who hoped to form a Euboean league, fell out with Philip and turned to Athens. In 342 Philip enabled unpopular leaders to take control of Eretria and Oreus, but in 341 Athens overthrew them, and Callias was able to include these cities in his league with a special affiliation to the Athenian League, by which they paid syntaxeis only to the Euboean League (Philoch. FGrH 328 FF 159/160 ~ Harding 91/92, Charax FGrH103 F 19 ~ Harding 91, Dem. IX. Phil. Hi. 57–62, Aeschin. III. Ctesiphon 89–105 with schol. 85, 103, Diod. Sic. XVI. 74. i).That was an unusually generous arrangement, and Aeschines complains that Demosthenes deprived Athens of the syntaxeis, but the Athenians had been generous on previous occasions when they were anxious to keep cities loyal (cf. Methone in the 420’s, p. 188; Calchedon and its neighbours in 408, p. 156). Elsewhere Aenus, on the coast of Thrace, deserted Athens for Philip c.341 ([Dem.] LVffl. Theocrines 37–8); but an Athenian decree of 340/39 praises Tenedos, which has lent money to Athens and is therefore not to be subjected to any exactions or assessed by the synedrion for syntaxeis until the loan has been repaid (IG ii2 233 = R&O 72 ~ Harding 97).

In 339 Philip’s entry into the Fourth Sacred War led to an alliance between Athens and Thebes once more; but in 338 he defeated them at Chaeronea, and his victory put an end to the League (cf. Paus. I. 25. iii), with Athens and all the other mainland Greeks except Sparta enrolled in the League of Corinth under Philip’s leadership.

Isocrates’ last major work, (XII) Panathenaic, was written c.342-339, and aimed to show that it was Athens rather than Sparta that had benefited the Greeks (§§24, 96, 112). In §§53-69, 88–94, he contrasts Athens’ conduct in the Delian League favourably with Sparta’s conduct after the Peloponnesian War; he scarcely mentions the Second League, except to say that when Sparta’s supremacy was ended two or three Athenian generals copied the Spartans’ bad habits (§§100-1).


For general studies of Athenian policy in the fourth century see E. Badian, ‘The Ghost of Empire: Reflections on Athenian Foreign Policy in the Fourth Century BC‘, in Eder (ed.), Die athenische Demokratie im 4. Jahrhundert v. Chr., 79–106; P. Harding, ‘Athenian Foreign Policy in the Fourth Century’, Klio lxxvii 1995, 105–25.

For the beginning of the fourth century see R. Seager, ‘Thrasybulus, Conon and Athenian Imperialism, 396–386 bc’, JHS lxxxvii 1967, 95–115; G. L. Cawkwell, ‘The Imperialism of Thrasybulus’, CQ2 xxvi 1976, 270–7’.

On the Second Athenian League Marshall, TTie Second Athenian Confederacy, is still useful; see also Larsen, Representative Government; Cargill, The Second Athenian League (believing that after the closing of the inscribed list there were no further members and that Athens kept its promises to the members).

On the League’s foundation I follow D. G. Rice, ‘Xenophon, Diodorus and the Year 379/378 bc’, YCS xxiv 1975, 95–130 (foundation after Sphodrias’ raid), against G. L. Cawkwell, ‘The Foundation of the Second Athenian Confederacy’, CQ2 xxiii 1973, 47–60 (foundation before Sphodrias’ raid, as in Diod. Sic. XV. 28–9). For a recent attempt to settle the chronology of the later 370’s see C. M. Fauber, ‘Deconstructing 375–371 BC: Towards An Unified Chronology’, Ath.2 lxxvii 1999, 481–506. On the chronology of Androtion’s career, Athens’ recovery of Euboea and the Social War I follow G. L. Cawkwell, ‘Notes on the Social War’, C&M xxiii 1962, 34–49: among other views, earlier dates had been proposed, for Androtion’s year in the council with effects for Euboea and the Social War, by E. Schweigert, ‘Greek Inscriptions, 4. A Decree Concerning Elaious’, Hesp.viii 1939, 12–17; D. M. Lewis, ‘Notes on Attic Inscriptions, xiii. Androtion and the Temple Treasures’, BSA xlix 1954, 39–49.

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