Ancient sources indicate that Leonidas started the battle with a few thousand troops including Spartans at its core. He faced a Persian force many times its size. After spying on the Spartan-led force, and waiting to see if they would surrender, Xerxes ordered an attack. The "Medes rushed forward and charged the Greeks, but fell in vast numbers: others, however, took the places of the slain, and would not be beaten off, though they suffered terrible losses. In this way it became clear to all, and especially to the king, that though he had plenty of combatants, he had but very few warriors.
The struggle, however, continued during the whole day," wrote Herodotus. Translation by George Rawlinson. After this beaten force withdrew, Xerxes sent an elite unit called the "Immortals" after the Spartan-led force but they too failed. Herodotus noted the battle tactics the Spartans employed.
Eventually, a Greek man showed Xerxes a pass that allowed part of the Persian force to outmaneuver the Greeks and attack them on both flanks. Leonidas was doomed. Many of the troops who were with Leonidas withdrew possibly because the Spartan king ordered them to. According to Herodotus, the Thespians decided to stay with the Spartans by their own free will. Leonidas then made his fateful stand and "fell fighting bravely, together with many other famous Spartans," Herodotus writes. Ultimately, the Persians killed almost all of the Spartan troops.
The helots the Spartans brought with them were also killed. The Persian army proceeded south, sacking Athens and threatening to break into the Peloponnese. A Greek naval victory at the Battle of Salamis halted this approach, the Persian king Xerxes going home and leaving an army behind that would later be destroyed. The Greeks led by the now dead Leonidas had prevailed. When the threat from the Persians receded, the Greeks resumed their inter-city rivalries. Two of the most powerful city states were Athens and Sparta, and tensions between the two escalated in the decades after their victory over Persia.
The situation was serious enough that Sparta called on allied cities for aid in putting it down. When the Athenians arrived, however, the Spartans refused their help. This was taken as an insult in Athens and bolstered anti-Spartan views. The Battle of Tanagra, fought in B. At times, Athens appeared to have the advantage, such as the battle of Sphacteria in B.
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It was the opinion that no force or famine could make the Lacedaemonians give up their arms, but that they would fight on as they could, and die with them in their hands," wrote Thucydides B. Translation by J. Dent via Perseus Digital Library. There were also periods when Athens was in trouble, such as in B. There has been speculation that the plague was actually an ancient form of the Ebola virus. Ultimately, the conflict between Sparta and Athens resolved itself on the sea. While the Athenians had the naval advantage throughout much of the war, the situation changed when a man named Lysander was named commander of Sparta's navy.
He sought out Persian financial support to help the Spartans build up their fleet. He convinced a Persian prince named Cyrus to provide him with money.
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The prince "had brought with him, he said, five hundred talents; if this amount should prove insufficient, he would use his own money, which his father had given him; and if this too should prove inadequate, he would go so far as to break up the throne whereon he sat, which was of silver and gold," wrote Xenophon B.
With Persian financial support, Lysander built up his navy and trained his sailors. In B. He managed to catch them by surprise, winning a decisive victory and cutting off Athens' supply of grain from the Crimea. Athens was now forced to make peace on Sparta's terms. They had to tear down their walls, confine their activities to Attica and as Lysander latter ordered submit to rule by a man body later called the "thirty tyrants. The "Peloponnesians with great enthusiasm began to tear down the walls [of Athens] to the music of flute-girls, thinking that that day was the beginning of freedom for Greece," wrote Xenophon.
A series of events and missteps led Sparta from being the pre-eminent force in the Aegean to becoming a second rate power.
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Shortly after their victory, the Spartans turned against their Persian backers and launched an inconclusive campaign into Turkey. Then in the following decades, the Spartans were forced to campaign on several fronts. The "lower bricks became soaked and failed to support those above them, the wall began first to crack and then to give way," wrote Xenophon.
The city was forced to surrender against this unorthodox onslaught. More challenges affected Spartan hegemony. Ultimately, however Sparta's downfall came, not from Athens, but from a city named Thebes. Spurred on by Spartan king Agesilaus II, relations between the two cities had become increasingly hostile and in B.
Resorting to Alcibiades: Thucydides' Portrayal in the History of the Peloponnesian War
Although an ally of Sparta during the long Peloponnesian War, Thebes had become the lodestar of resistance when victorious Sparta became an angry tyrant in her turn," writes Lendon. He notes that after a peace was agreed to with Athens in B. At Leuctra, "for reasons unclear the Spartans posted their cavalry in front of their phalanx. The Lacedaemonian cavalry was poor because good Spartan warriors still insisted on serving as hoplites [infantrymen]," he writes.
It is also long on military chronology and short on culture and revealing political context. Still one is struck by how Athenian leaders were held accountable for results, facing exile, fines, replacement, even execution. We are three plus years A single volume history by the author of a multi-volume account of this epic conflict, The Peloponnesian War reads a little like a cliff notes version.
We are three plus years into the disaster that is Iraq and no one has been held accountable—not for bad strategy, bad intelligence, bad cooperation on planning and execution on that planning. Rumsfeld, Rice, Wolfowitz, Cheney, their aides and allies in the inside fighting between departments and factions, all live to whine and finger point and continue their mis-conceived actions.
Kagan manages a serviceable one volume history but not an exciting and engrossing one. It remains an imperial morality tale, overreaching and hubris will get you every time. Mar 25, Justin Tapp rated it it was amazing Shelves: war , international , history. Xenophon's work takes place shortly after the Peloponnesian War B.
Thucydides Analysis Essay | chortcenttenmo.tk
One can see generals like Demosthenes and Lysander as influencing how Xenophon would have led, as well as learn what was expected of Athenian commanders both on the battlefield and in the realm of politics. Donald Kagan is apparently the world's foremost expert on this event, and his works on it seem unassailable.
Kagan's goal is to bring his academic research into a format more relevant to the modern reader who is familiar with modern wars and politics. While some reviews on Amazon have criticized this work as being "dry" or "too detailed," I disagree; it was a long and historically consequential war involving various people groups and cultures and is more than just "Athenians" vs. The modern reader myself may tend to forget that in this period there was no united "Greece," the Aegean was all loose affiliations of independent and democratic city states that fell under the influence of larger city states.
Spartans and Athenians had differing cultures and political structures and did not get along.
One is struck by the parallels between this war and 20th century wars. What looks like a quick-and-easy war turns into a costly quagmire.
Democratic institutions get subverted in the name of defending the country, and much blood and treasure is robbed from future generations. During the war, people do things so far outside cultural norms and accepted morality that it cracks the very foundations of their civilizations. The question of how to have "peace with honor" for both sides in a potential stalemate becomes the issue.
Bold speeches lead to disastrous actions, and popular sentiment changes with news of each battle's result. Borders get redrawn setting the stage for future conflicts. Greece early on was moving from a true democracy to a "republic of the first citizen," where a general or other man of consequence had actual power and sway beyond statutes.
By the end of the war, many of its cultural institutions were badly undermined and it was no longer an empire. In the first phase of the war, the "Archidamian War," Athens was influenced by Pericles to adopt a defensive strategy-- to resist until the Spartans see they cannot be beaten.
Extract of sample "Consequences of the Peloponnesian War"
To rely heavily on its naval advantage while Sparta relies on its superior infantry. After Pericles death, the Athenians begin having some success on offense and adopt a more aggressive strategy. Good tactics and luck swing the war into Athens' favor, but they overreach at a point where they could have achieved very favorable terms with Sparta and expanded their empire.
Instead, the Spartans achieve some victories and sue for a more favorable peace. In the interim, both Sparta and Athens wage a sort of proxy war by supporting opposite sides of other regional conflicts. Athens and their allies experience major defeats, which is foreboding for the next chapter of the conflict. When Athenian allies are attacked by Spartan-backed Syracusans in Sicily, Alcibiades convinces the Athenian assembly to mount a massive expedition to crush Syracuse and incorporate Sicily into the empire.
After this meets with disastrous defeat, Alcibiades is convicted of treason and flees to Sparta-- effectively turning traitor and convincing the Spartans to follow his advice in attacking Athens! Athens ends up doubling down on its Sicilian campaign, resulting in almost the complete destruction of its navy, infantry, and the loss of city states as the balance of power shifts in Sparta's favor.
Nicias opposes the Sicilian expedition but gets appointed as a general, and ends up the last remaining general on the expedition after Alcibiades is arrested and others are killed. Generals who experienced bad results in the battlefield, even if there were a good excuse, were routinely disgraced, tried, executed, or banished.