Thucydides – History of the Peloponnesian War, Book 1, Chapter 4 – From the End of the Persian to the Beginning of the Peloponnesian War – The Progress from Supremacy to Empire

  1. Athens’s power grew like this… After the Persians went home, defeat at sea & on land, the Spartan king & commander, Leotychides, & his men went home. But Athens & its allies from Ionia & the Hellespont went to Sestos, which was still held by the Persians. They took it over & then went home. The Athenian women & children were brought home & the Athenians began building the city & walls, most of which was in ruins.
  2. The Spartans sent an envoy saying they didn’t want Athens to have a wall. Many allies didn’t like the idea of Athenian strength. The Spartans wanted all Greek walls torn down. They had suspicions about Athens but they also didn’t want a walled city to be available to the Persians, like Thebes had been earlier, if they came back. The Athenians ignored the request, saying they’d send envoys to Sparta to discuss it. Themistocles was sent while the entire population was used to build a wall. Themistocles played for time by not seeking an audience but kept saying he was waiting for his colleagues to arrive.
  3. The Spartans took Themistocles at his word out of respect for him. But when the other Athenians showed up confirming the walls were being built, they couldn’t not believe it. Still, Themistocles said these were just rumors & they should send their own people to see for themselves. The Spartans did so & the Athenians found ways of detaining them until the wall was officially built & they could drop the whole act. Themistocles told them they would consider Greek affairs & Athenian affairs separately. Now, they thought they should have a wall & that was that.
  4. The Spartans didn’t show open signs of anger. They were still friendly but were secretly annoyed by this move.
  5. The Athenians walled their city hastily. The foundation was made up of any rubble they could find in the order that it was brought to the site. Themistocles also convinced the city to build a wall around Piraeus, the city’s harbor. These walls were to be incredibly thick because Piraeus was more important than the city itself, especially since it was a naval power.
  6. Pausanias, Sparta’s commander, was sent out with 20 ships, along with Athenian & allied ships to Cyprus to subdue it & then went up to Byzantium.
  7. The Greeks, particularly the Ionians, began to get tired of the violence that Pausanias was inflicting on these targets. They asked Athens to be leader instead of Pausanias & the Spartans, & they were all too happy to accept. Pausanias was accused of being despotic, & the allies refused to fight under him. He was put on trial in Sparta but he was acquitted. However, he was not to command Spartan forces again. His role was given to Dorkis but the allies still preferred to fight under Athenian command.
  8. Athenian supremacy was due to the voluntary act of the allies because of their hatred for Pausanias. They gave Athens money to fight barbarians with their fleet, mostly to retaliate against Persia’s invasion. Athens established a Greek treasury – a bank in which they put tributes given by allies at 460 talents from each city – to be placed at Delos.
  9. The supremacy started by independent allies acting together, in acts of war & administration against barbarians & against rebels – as well as Peloponnesian powers trying to interfere.
  10. The Athenians besieged & captured Eion from the Medes & enslaved the inhabitants. They enslaved Scyros & colonized it themselves. They made war against Carystus while the rest of Euboea remained neutral. Naxos tried to leave the confederacy, was besieged & then was brought back in.
  11. When cities tried to revolt, it was mostly out of having to pay money & furnishing vessels to the Athenian fleet. The Athenians took to task those who revolted by putting the leaders to hard labor. The sheen of Athenian leadership was starting to wear off. It was becoming very easy for them to reduce any revolters. These allies only had themselves to blame. Because they paid money instead of serving militarily, they gave lots of money to Athens, allowing it to build up its fleet to be able to crush them if they revolted.
  12. The Athenians chased out the remnants of the Persian army. They destroyed most of the Phoenician fleet of 200 ships. Thasos revolted & Athens sailed there, defeated their navy & sent 10000 settlers & other allied settler to “the 9 ways”, later to be named Amphipolis. They had got it from Edonians but couldn’t advance into Thrace.
  13. The Thasians asked the Spartans to help them by invading Attica. They said they would but an earthquake & a revolt from the Helots bogged them down to the point where they couldn’t comply with the request. The Helots were originally Messenians & enslaved after a war with Sparta. The Thasians came to terms with Athens, destroying their walls & giving up their fleet, & giving up a tribute to the alliance.
  14. The Spartans had difficulty with the rebels & enlisted the aid of their allies, especially Athens. The Athenians had a skill that the Spartans didn’t have – laying sieges. The Spartans began to suspect that the Athenians were besieging Ithome to institute political changes, i.e. Democratic government, & told them to run along. This caused offense to the Athenians, who quickly quit the alliance & joined another with Sparta’s enemy, Argos.
  15. The rebels eventually surrendered to Sparta. They were forced to leave the Peloponnese & were never allowed to return. These rebels took refuge in Athens. The Athenians also took Megara into the alliance, really angering the Corinthians.
  16. At this time, Inora, the Libyan king, cause a revolt in Egypt from Persian king, Artaxerxes & took over the region, asking the Athenians for help. They abandoned the trip to Athens to go to Egypt with their 200 ships down the Nile, controlling it & most of Memphis. The remaining portion of the city was still held by Persians & Egyptians loyal to them.
  17. Athenians were also engaged in a battle with Corinthians & Epidaurians which the Corinthians won. Then the Athenians fought the Peloponnesian fleet off Cecruphalia, which Athens won. Athens defeated laid siege to Egina & the Peloponnesians could only supply 300 infantry. The Corinthians marched down to the Megarid, thinking that Athens was too preoccupied in Egypt to stop them. But a force of Athenian old men & young boys marched down. The battle was initially without issue, both sides claiming a victory. But while setting up a trophy/victory monument, the Corinthians were overrun by the old men & little boys.
  18. Those retreating after the defeat got lost on the road & ended up on private property surrounded by deep trenches. The Athenians encircled the Corinthians & beat on them some more. The rest of the Corinthian army went home.
  19. The Athenians were building their walls from the city to Piraeus & down to Phalerum. Meanwhile, the Phocians were making moves on Dorian cities of Boeum, Kitinium & Erineum. They had taken one when the Spartans sent out 1500 of their own & 10000 allies to restore the cities. The Peloponnesians’ route home by sea was exposed to the Athenian fleet, so they stayed in Boetia while deciding how to get home safely. Someone in Athens who’d been looking to overthrow the democracy & dismantle the walls encouraged them to stick around but in the end, having been augmented to 14000 by the Thessalian cavalry.
  20. There was a battle fought in Tanagra, Boetia. The Spartans won the victory. After going into the Megarid & cutting down all the fruit trees, the Spartans went home across the Isthmus. 62 days later, Athens went into Boetia, took over, dismantled Tanagra’s walls & took 100 rich men as hostages. At this time, the Eginetans surrendered to the Athenians, tore down their walls, paid tribute & gave up their fleet. The Athenians sailed around the Peloponnese burnt the Spartan arsenal, took Chalcis & defeated the Sicyonians.
  21. The Athenians were masters of Egypt but the Persian king sent Megabazus to Sparta to bribe them to invade Attica to cause a distraction. It wasn’t going to work & so the king replaced Megabazus with another Megabazus. This one took a massive army down to Egypt & kicked the Greeks out of Memphis & held them on the island of Prosopitis, besieged for a year & a half. He drained the water from the canals & the Athenian ships were left high & dry.
  22. The Egypt expedition came to an end after 6 years. Most of the area came back under Persian rule, except the area controlled by Amyrtaeus, king of the marshlands. Inaros, Libyan king, was caught & crucified. The Athenians sent 50 ships down without knowing the turn of events that had occurred. Most of these were destroyed & the remainder were used to evacuate Athenians from Egypt.
  23. Thessalian king, Orestes, had been exiled & went to Athens to get them to restore him. The Athenians marched with allies to Thessaly. They could get the countryside but were threatened by the Thessalian cavalry. They had to escape by sea on ships & went to Sicyon & defeated them. They then laid siege to Oeniadae but failed & sent home.
  24. 3 years later, a truce was set up between the Peloponnesians & Athenians to last 5 years. Once this war ended, Athens was freed up to send 200 ships to Cyprus. 60 of those were detached to Egypt but had to leave due to their commander, Cimon’s death. They went to Salamis in Cyprus where they fought the Phoenicians, Cyprians & Cilicians on land & sea, where they won on both sides. The Spartans took over the Temple of Delphi & put it in the hands of the Delphians. The Athenians took it back over & put it in the hands of the Phocians.
  25. Later, places in Boetia were in the hands of Boetian exiles & the Athenians marched in & put the area under the command of Tomides. They enslaved people of Chaeronea & left a garrison. On their way home, they were attacked & beaten by the Boetian exiles. The Athenians completely withdrew from Boetia & the exiles returned to their independent power.
  26. Afterwards, Euboea revolted from Athens. As soon as Pericles went over, he got news that Megara had also revolted. Before this Megarian revolt, there was an influx of Corinthians, Sicyonians & Epidaurians into the city, perhaps inspiring the revolt. So, Pericles, brought his army back. The Peloponnesians marched into Attica, ravaging the country & then they went home. The Athenians went back to Euboea & put down the revolt. Histiaeans had to leave their homes.
  27. After returning from Euboea, the Athenians made a truce with the Spartans for 30 years. They also gave up their posts they had in the Peloponnese. In the 6th year of the truce, war broke out between Samos & Miletus. While losing the war, Miletus came to Athens asking for help. The Athenians went off to Samos with 40 ships to set up a democracy. They took hostages & stuck them on Lemnos & set up a garrison on Samos, & went home. Some Samians had fled before the Athenians’ arrival & made an alliance with the satrap of Sardis, who gave him 700 mercenaries to take Samos back & recapture the hostages in Lemnos. They then planned to attack Miletus.
  28. The Athenians heard of all this & took 60 ships to Samos. 16 of them went to Caria to watch for the Phoenician fleet. They also went to Chios & Lesbos to get some reinforcements. But 44 ships under Pericles fought off the island of Tragia. The Athenians defeated the Samians. The reinforcements held the city, while Pericles chased the Phoenicians fleet in Caunus & Caria.
  29. The Samians caught the island unguarded & destroyed look-out ships. They held the area for 14 days. But once Pericles came back, that ended. More reinforcements came in. After a short fight, Samos was reduced, after a 9 month siege. The walls were taken down, hostages handed over & ships were confiscated. They also paid for the expenses of the war. The Byzantines were also brought back into the fold.

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