ANCIENT WORLD HISTORY
 

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Sicily - The Tyrant and the Liberator 413 - 337 B.C.

The Carthaginians Invade Sicily - 409-404 B.C.

The fall of Athens was a great misfortune to the Greeks of the West as well as to those of the East. For nearly seventy years the terror of her name had kept both the Carthaginians and the Persians at bay; but on the overthrow of her naval supremacy these two great foreign powers again hoped to conquer parts of Hellas. On the invitation of Segesta, which was still threatened by Selinus, Carthage sent over to Sicily a vast fleet conveying an army of a hundred thousand men under King Hannibal, grandson of that Hamilcar who had met his death at Himera. This great armament laid siege to Selinus; on the ninth day it stormed the city and butchered the inhabitants (409 B.C.). From there Hannibal marched to Himera, where the siege and the massacre were repeated. Three thousand captives were led to the spot where Hamilcar had sacrificed himself, and there they were killed with horrid torture. In this way, Hannibal sought to appease the hungry appetite of his grandfather's ghost.

A fresh army of mercenaries next invaded Acragas, then the wealthiest and most luxurious city in the Greek world. Though reinforced by their neighbors, the inhabitants finally abandoned their city and settled in Leontini. Himilcon took up his winter quarters in deserted Acragas, and sent much of its wealth, including many works of art, to Carthage (405 B.C.). Soon afterwards a young officer of Syracuse, named Dionysius, made himself tyrant of his city. He compelled the people of Gela and of Camarina to abandon their cities to the invader and to retire to Syracuse. Great was the indignation of all classes against the usurper but through his mercenaries he maintained himself against every attempt to assassinate or to depose him. In 404 B.C. he concluded a treaty with the Carthaginians, in which he yielded to them the whole island except the Sicels - a native nation in the interior - and the Greeks of the eastern coast. The Carthaginians, for their part, acknowledged him as the absolute ruler of Syracuse.

 

War With Carthage - 397-392 B.C.

But Dionysius did not intend to yield Sicily forever to the enemy. For seven years he busied himself with increasing his power and with preparing for war on a grand scale. He built an immense wall around Syracuse; he organized an army of eighty thousand infantry; his engineers invented a new instrument, afterward known as the ballista, for throwing large stones against the enemy's walls. In his new fleet were more than three hundred vessels, some of them quinqueremes - huge galleys with five banks of oars, invented by his shipwrights. Though utterly unscrupulous, though he ground down the rich with taxes and violated nearly every sentiment dear to the Greek heart, yet he gained a certain degree of popularity by the military preparations which made him appear as a strong champion of Hellas against the barbarian.

He began war upon Carthage in 397 B.C., and with his vast armament nearly swept the Phoenicians from the island; but in the following year Himilcon, landing in Sicily, regained everything which Carthage had lost, and Messene in addition. Most of the Messenians escaped, but Himilcon compelled his men to burn the woodwork and to grind the stones to powder. The invaders then defeated the fleet of Dionysius and besieged the tyrant in Syracuse by land and sea. The newly built ramparts saved the city. The siege was raised and the enemy pushed back until he held but the extreme western end of the island. Dionysius secured all the rest by the treaty of 392 B.C. In the time of Dionysius many round stone tholoi (tombs) were built in stone and marble. A beautiful example is the Tholos at Delphi - a great religious center, built in 390 B.C., which you can see in the picture below:

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Conquests of Dionysius in Italy to 387 B.C.; Other Wars

Meanwhile, Dionysius was conquering the Greeks of southern Italy. In 387 B.C. his kingdom extended as far as Croton. Some of the conquered people he removed to Syracuse, others he sold into slavery. Everywhere he showed the utmost disregard for sacred places and institutions, but the Greeks were powerless to resist.

In two more wars which he carried on with Carthage, he failed to dislodge the foreigners from Sicily, but still held the larger part of the island, as well as his Italian possessions. He helped the Lacedaemonians in maintaining their supremacy over eastern Greece, and his power was recognized as the greatest in the Hellenic world.

 

Dionysius in Peace; His Character

Though engaged in wars to the end, in his later years a desire for peace grew upon him. He was a poet as well as a general. A story is told that Philoxenus, a poet at his court, was imprisoned in a stone quarry as a punishment for criticizing the tyrant's verse. When liberated soon afterward and invited to hear another recital, he endured the reading for a few moments and then cried out, "Take me back to the stone quarry!" A splendid display of horses and chariots, of athletes and actors, which Dionysius made at the Olympic games, in like manner won no applause. The orator Lysias from Athens, tried to incite the Greeks there assembled to begin war upon the tyrant by plundering his rich tents. The holiness of the festival prevented this outrage, but the reciters of his poems were hissed, and his chariots were overturned in the race. Far from winning the favor and admiration of the Greeks by his exhibit, the tyrant discovered that he was universally hated.

sicily_kingdomdionysius.jpg (52615 bytes)

In 367 B.C. Dionysius died after reigning for thirty-eight years. No tyrant could have ruled for so long without the possession of strong qualities. The private character of Dionysius was without reproach. On the other hand, he never hesitated at bloodshed, confiscation of property, or anything else which would make him safe. Many spies in his pay watched the movements of those whom he suspected at home and abroad. With all his failings, he performed a service for Greece and for Europe by protecting Hellenic civilization in Italy and Sicily.

 

Civil Strife 367-345 B.C.; Timoleon the Liberator 345-337 B.C.

A period of civil strife following the death of Dionysius was at length ended by Timoleon, a general sent out by Corinth. Timoleon was a man of remarkable ability and strength of character. Gradually he overthrew the tyrants who, since the death of Dionysius, had taken over the power in many Sicilian cities. He then gave the cities good laws and settled governments. On the Crimisus River he met the vast mercenary force of Carthage which had come to Sicily for the purpose of overwhelming him. As his small army marched up the hill, from the top the soldiers expected to get their first view of mules laden with parsley - a plant used for decorating tombs. But with the exclamation that the parsley chaplet was the reward of victory in the Isthmian games, Timoleon seized some of the plant and made a wreath for his head; the officers, then the soldiers, followed his example; and the army swept over the hill like a host of victorious athletes. Throwing his enthusiastic troops upon the Carthaginian center, which had just crossed the Crimisus, he crushed it with one mighty blow. A sudden storm beat full in the faces of the enemy, thousands were drowned in attempting to recross the swollen stream, and thousands were killed or made captive. The victory was complete (340 B.C.).

When he had liberated all Greek Sicily from Carthage and from tyranny, he joined the cities in a federation, with Syracuse as leader in war. All members of the union were guaranteed their freedom. He next turned his attention to the improvement of the country. As the long anarchy had left large tracts of land uncultivated and without owners, he invited Greeks from other countries to come and settle on the vacant farms. Thousands answered the call; a few peaceful years brought prosperity to fruitful Sicily, and Timoleon lived to see the desolate island bloom again like a garden.

After ruling for eight years, he resigned his dictatorship, and passed the remainder of his days as a private citizen of Syracuse, honored by all as their liberator. When he died, his fellow citizens established an annual festival in memory of the man "who had suppressed the tyrants, had overthrown the foreigner, had replenished the desolate cities, and had restored to the Sicilians the privilege of living under their own laws.

 

Summary of Sicilian History 413-337 B.C.

(1) After the ruin of the Athenian armament in Sicily, the Carthaginians invaded the island and destroyed Selinus, Himera, and Acragas. (2) With great difficulty Dionysius, the able tyrant of Syracuse, saved his own city from the conquest at their hands, and eventually won back from them the greater part of the island. (3) Meanwhile, he had built a powerful navy and had made Syracuse the most strongly fortified city in Europe. (4) Afterward, he extended his kingdom in Italy as far as Croton. (5) His great achievement was the protection of Europe from Carthaginian conquest. (6) After his death came a period of civil strife, in which some cities fell under tyrants, others under the dominion of Carthage. (7) From this condition they were liberated by Timoleon, who combined great ability with patriotism. (8) Thereupon came a period of extraordinary prosperity.

 

THE SUPREMACY OF SPARTA 404-371 B.C.

The Decarchies (a governing body of ten)

The overthrow of Athens, at the end of the Peloponnesian War, left Sparta as supreme in the east as Syracuse was in the west. At the summit of power stood Lysander, who had done more than any other man to bring eastern Greece under Spartan leadership. He now had an excellent opportunity to improve upon the rule of Athens; but though a man of rare talents, he lacked the genius for such a task. He could think of nothing beyond the long-established Spartan and Athenian methods of dealing with allies and subjects.

In each newly allied state, accordingly, he set up a decarchy, or board of ten oligarchs, with full control of the government. To support the decarchies, he stationed Lacedaemonian garrisons in most of the cities. The commander, termed "harmost," was usually a man of low birth, servile to Lysander and brutal toward the defenseless people over whom he kept watch. Relying on his support, the oligarchs killed or expelled their political enemies, confiscated property through sheer greed, and mistreated the women and children. While Athens ruled, a man could feel that life, property, and family were safe; but under Sparta the Greeks found themselves degraded to the condition of perioeci (subjects with no political rights).

 

The Thirty at Athens 404-403 B.C.

At Athens Lysander caused a board of Thirty to be established with absolute authority over the state. The guiding spirit of the board was Critias, a noble of the highest rank. He was cold and calculating, ambitious and unscrupulous; within his short career he developed a strange appetite for blood and plunder.

Soon after taking possession of the government, the Thirty began to kill their political opponents. For their own safety, they called in a Lacedaemonian force of seven hundred men, and lodged it in the Acropolis at the expense of the state. Supported by these troops, the Thirty proceeded with their bloody work. As they often murdered men for their property, they preferred wealthy victims. Hundreds fled into exile; but the Spartan ephors (magistrates), to uphold the Thirty, warned the fugitives away from all parts of Greece. Some of the states sheltered them in defiance of the ephors. Thebes, long the enemy of Athens, became their rallying place. Their number daily increased, because of the cruelty of the government at home.

 

Democracy Restored 403 B.C.

The crowd of exiles swelled into an army. At the head of seventy patriots, Thrasybulus crossed the border from Thebes, seized Phyle, a strong fort high up on Mount Parnes, and held it against an attack of the enemy. With his army increased to a thousand, he soon afterward seized Peiraeus. When the Thirty with their Lacedaemonian garrison and citizen supporters marched down to attack him, the patriots defeated them and killed Critias.

The patriots returned to Athens. They pardoned all for wrongdoing except the Thirty and a few other guilty officials. The Athenians now had had enough of oligarchy. Their two recent experiments in that form of constitution - the rule of the Four Hundred and of the Thirty - proved that the government of the so-called "better class" was a delusion and a lie, and that the men who claimed superior privileges on the ground of virtue, were in reality cutthroats and robbers. The great mass of people, who had little wealth or education, were far more obedient to law and exercised greater self-control in public life. Henceforth Athens was content with democracy.

 

The Expedition of Cyrus 401 B.C.

Although the Thirty fell, the Lacedaemonians upheld the decarchies in the other cities of their empire. It was a part of their policy as well to keep on good terms with Cyrus, who had done so much to give them the victory over Athens. On the death of Darius, the late king of Persia, Artaxerxes, his elder son, succeeded him to the throne, while Cyrus, the younger, still held at Sardis the command of the most desirable part of Asia Minor. Wishing to be king in place of his brother, Cyrus prepared a great force of Asiatic troops and thirteen thousand Greeks. The Lacedaemonians not only favored his enlistment of these mercenaries from Greece, but even sent him seven hundred heavy-armed troops from their own state. With this army the prince marched into the very heart of the Persian empire, and met his brother in battle at Cunaxa, near Babylon. Cyrus was killed and his Asiatic troops retired from the field; but the little Hellenic force was victorious over the immense army of the king.

 

The Return of the "Ten Thousand"

Then the Greeks, under a truce, began their retreat in a northerly direction. Their generals were entrapped and slain by the Persian commander Tissaphernes, a rival of Cyrus. Thus they were left leaderless in the midst of the enemy's country, surrounded by hostile nations, with impassable rivers and snow-covered mountains between them and home, with no guide even to tell them which way to go. While they were in despair, encouragement and good advice came from a young Athenian who had accompanied the expedition. He was Xenophon, a pupil of Socrates the philosopher. Taking courage from his words, they chose new generals, among them Xenophon. Then they set out on their northward march, harassed at every step by the enemy. From Media they entered the Carduchian Mountains, which were covered with snow and inhabited by fierce barbarians. In passing through this rough country the Greeks suffered every kind of hardship, and were constantly assailed by the natives, who rolled stones down upon them from the heights, or harassed them in the rear, or blocked their advance. Their losses were heavy, and the wonder is that any escaped alive.

Thence they entered Armenia. Their way was now easier; but it was winter, and they still suffered from the cold. The satrap (governor) of the country promised them a free passage, but proved treacherous, and the fighting continued. After a long, weary march, full of adventures and of narrow escapes, they neared the Black Sea. As the footsore troop reached a certain height overlooking the water, it raised a joyful shout, "The Sea! The Sea!" The rest of the soldiers ran quickly up to enjoy the good sight and to share in the cheering. The men embraced one another and their officers with tearful eyes. It seemed like home. They had lost about a third of their number in a journey of perhaps a thousand miles. The thrilling story of the expedition of Cyrus and of the retreat of the "Ten Thousand" is told in the Anabasis of Xenophon. The courage, harmony, and discipline of these mercenaries in the midst of such hardships and dangers prove the high political and moral character of the Greeks. To the world of that time, however, the expedition was chiefly significant as evidence of Persian weakness. The discovery that so small a force could penetrate to the very heart of the empire and return almost unscathed was the first step toward its conquest.

 

War Between Lacedaemon and Persia (beginning) 400 B.C.

The expedition of Cyrus had two important effects: (1) it brought the Persian power into contempt among the Greeks; and (2) it immediately caused war between Persia and Lacedaemon. For this state, by supporting Cyrus, had incurred the anger of the Persian king. A strong force of Peloponnesians crossed to Asia Minor, and, joining the remnant of the Ten Thousand, began war upon the Persians. In 396 B.C. Agesilaus, who had recently succeeded to one of the thrones at Sparta, came in with a few thousand additional troops and took command in person. The little lame king was gentle and courteous. Faithful in friendship, simple in life, and uncorruptible, he was an ideal Spartan. Though forty years of age at his accession, he was wholly without experience in command; but he proved himself an able king and general. With his small army he freed the Greeks of Asia Minor from the Persian yoke.

 

The Corinthian War 395-387 B.C.

The plan of Agesilaus for further conquest was rudely disturbed by trouble at home. Sparta was selfish and tyrannical; the greater allied states, like Thebes and Corinth, wanted a share in her supremacy; the lesser communities desired at least their independence. As they were all disappointed in their hopes, they began to show discontent. In 395 B.C. they provoked Lacedaemon to a war which lasted eight years. This is called the Corinthian War, because the struggle centered chiefly about Corinth and the Isthmus. Athens, Corinth, and several other states took the side of Thebes, while Persia supplied the funds.

In the second year of the war, a combined Greek and Phoenician fleet under Conon, the Athenian admiral, destroyed the fleet of Lacedaemon off Cnidus. Thus the Spartan naval supremacy fell at a single blow. Conon sailed from island to island, expelling the harmosts (commanders) and freeing all from Lacedaemonian rule. The next year he anchored his fleet in the harbors of Peiraeus, and, with the help of Persia and of the neighbors of Athens, he began to rebuild the Long Walls.

Nearer home the Lacedaemonians were scarcely more fortunate. Lysander was killed; it became necessary to recall Agesilaus. But the victories he gained on his return did little to help Sparta. One of the most important facts in the history of this was is that the well-trained light troops of Athens were now proving superior to the heavy infantry of Lacedaemon. Near Corinth they attacked a battalion of the Spartan phalanx, six hundred strong, and cut it to pieces. The Lacedaemonians never fully recovered from that blow; the military organization which had always been the foundation of their supremacy in Greece proved defective.

 

The Treaty of Antalcidas 387 B.C.

They acknowledged their failure in the war by coming to terms with Persia. The king was ready to use his money and influence for the preservation of a peace which should assure him the possession of Asia Minor; and Lacedaemon could do nothing but accept his terms. Accordingly, her ambassador, Antalcidas, and the king's legate invited all the Greek states to send deputies to Sardis for the purpose of concluding peace. When they arrived, the Persian legate showed them the king's seal on a document which he held in his hand, and read from it the following terms imposed by Persia upon the Greeks: "King Artaxerxes deems it just that the cities in Asia, with the island of Clazomenae and Cyprus, should belong to himself; the rest of the Hellenic cities, both small and great, he will leave independent, with the exception of Lemnos, Imbros, and Scyros, which three are to belong to Athens, as of yore. Should any of the parties concerned not accept this peace, I, Artaxerxes, together with those who share my views, will war against the offenders by land and sea, with ships and money." As the Greeks believed it impossible to wage war successfully with both Lacedaemon and Persia, they accepted the terms. It was well understood that Lacedaemon was to enforce the treaty for the king; and this position made her again the undisputed head of eastern Greece.

 

The Violence of Sparta

The Lacedaemonians still ruled according to the policy of Lysander - a combination of brute force and cunning. It was their aim to weaken the states from which they might expect resistance. In northern Greece they assailed the Chalcidic League, which, though newly formed, had already grown powerful. While at war with this league, they seized Cadmea - the citadel of Thebes - and occupied it with a garrison in open violation of law (383 B.C.). Even the citizens of Sparta, not to speak of the Greeks in general, were indignant with the officer who had done the violent deed; but Agesilaus excused him on the ground that the act was advantageous to Sparta, thus setting forth the principle that Greece was to be ruled for the benefit merely of the governing city. Though the Lacedaemonians punished the officer, they approved the deed by leaving the garrison at Cadmea.

 

Tyranny Arouses Resistance

The Lacedaemonians were now at the height of their power. Their city was the acknowledged leader of all eastern Greece, supported by Persia in the east and by Dionysius in the west. But their policy was soon to awaken forces which were to overthrow their supremacy forever. Resistance was first aroused in Thebes, where the oppressor's hand was heaviest. In that city was an oligarchy somewhat like the Thirty at Athens. Supported by the Lacedaemonian garrison, these oligarchs ruled by terrorism, imprisoning some opponents and banishing others. The exiles took refuge in Athens, and there they found sympathy. Among the refugees was Pelopidas, a wealthy Theban, full of patriotism and brave to recklessness - the very man his city needed to save her. Pelopidas had left behind him in Thebes an intimate friend, Epaminondas, an orator of remarkable keenness and force, and a philosopher.

The oligarchs thought Epaminondas was a harmless dreamer; but while they allowed him to remain unmolested at home, he was attracting into his school the most capable youths of Thebes, and was arousing in them the moral power which was to set his country free. The young Thebans, who delighted in physical training, learned from the philosopher that mere size of muscle was of no advantage, that they should rather aim at agility and endurance. He encouraged them to wrestle with the Lacedaemonian soldiers in the Cadmea, that when the crisis should come, they might meet them without fear.

 

The Liberation of Thebes 379 B.C.

Meanwhile Pelopidas at Athens was planning to return with the exiles to overthrow the oligarchy. Four years passed in this manner, and it was now the winter of 379 B.C. The Chalcidic League had fallen; resistance to Sparta was becoming every day more hopeless; there was need of haste. Selecting twelve of the younger men, he set out on the dangerous mission of striking a secret blow for their country. They dressed themselves like huntsmen, and, accompanied by dogs, crossed Mount Parnes toward Thebes in groups of two and three. A snow storm had just set in when at dark these men, their faces muffled in their cloaks, entered the city by various gates and met another bank of conspirators in the house of their leader. On the following night an official who was also in on the plot held a banquet, to which he invited all the magistrates except one, who was the head of the oligarchic party.

While these magistrates were carousing, some of the conspirators entered, disguised as women, and killed them. Pelopidas with two companions went to the house of the remaining magistrate, and after a hard struggle made away with him. The next morning Epaminondas introduced the leaders of the conspiracy to the assembled citizens, who elected them Boeotarchs, or chief magistrates of Boeotia. A democracy was now established, and the garrison in the Cadmea surrendered with the privilege of departing unharmed. Thebes was again free.

 

The Athenian Maritime Confederacy 377 B.C.

The Athenians, though in sympathy with their neighbor, would gladly have remained neutral, had not Lacedaemon driven them to war by a treacherous attempt to seize Peiraeus. They renewed their alliance with the maritime cities, which had deserted them for Sparta, but were now seeking their protection. The new league was to be a union of the Greeks for the defense of their liberties against Sparta. Each allied state sent a deputy to a congress at Athens. It was agreed that the leading city alone should have no representative in this body in order that the deputies might not be influenced by the presidency, or even by the presence of an Athenian. To be binding, a measure had to receive the approval of both Athens and congress. This arrangement made the leading city equal to all the others combined, but prevented her from acquiring absolute power such as she had exercised over the members of the earlier confederacy. There were still to be contributions of ships and money, but as Athens was no longer in a position to compel the allies to perform their duties, the league remained far weaker than it had in the preceding century.

 

The Peace Convention 371 B.C.

As the new alliance included Thebes and about seventy other cities, it was more than a match for Peloponnese; but the Thebans finally withdrew from the war and busied themselves with subduing the Boeotian towns. Left to carry on the struggle alone and displeased with the policy of Thebes, Athens opened negotiations with Lacedaemon. Thereupon a convention of all the Greek states met in Sparta to establish a Hellenic peace. Though the treaty of Antalcidas was renewed, the Persian king could no longer arbitrate among the Greeks - they now felt able to manage their own affairs. It is interesting to see them acting together to establish peace, and endeavoring to form one Hellenic state on the basis of local independence and equal rights. The convention resolved to accept peace on the understanding that every Greek state should be independent and that all fleets and armies should be disbanded.

Though all were ready to make peace on these terms, trouble arose in regard to ratifying the treaty. Sparta insisted on signing it in behalf of her allies, but would not grant the same privilege to Thebes. When, accordingly, Agesilaus demanded that the Boeotian towns should be permitted to sign for themselves, Epaminondas, the Theban deputy, declared that his city had as good a right to represent all Boeotia as Sparta to represent all Laconia. His boldness startled the convention. For ages the Greeks had stood in awe of Sparta, and no one had dared to question her authority within the borders of Lacedaemon. But the deputy from Thebes was winning his point with the members, when Agesilaus, in great rage, sprang to his feet and bade him say once and for all whether Boeotia should be independent. Epaminondas replied, "Yes, if you will give the same freedom to Laconia." The Spartan king then struck the name of Thebes from the list of states represented in the convention, thus excluding her from the peace.

 

The Battle of Leuctra 371 B.C.

The treaty was signed, the convention dissolved, and the deputies returned home. All eyes turned toward the impending conflict; everyone expected to see the city of Epaminondas punished, perhaps destroyed, for the boldness of her leader.

Leuctra was a small town in Boeotia southwest of Thebes. The battle fought there in 371 B.C. was in its political effects the most important in which only Greeks were engages; to the student of military affairs it is one on the most interesting in history.

As a result of studies in military science, Epaminondas introduced a sweeping revolution in warfare. The Boeotians had always made excellent soldiers, and in the Peloponnesian War they had successfully tried the experiment of massing their men in a heavy phalanx. This solid body of infantry was to be the chief element in the new military system. Epaminondas was to convert the experiences of his countrymen into the most important principle of military science - the principle of concentrating the attack upon a single point of the enemy's line. Opposite to the Peloponnesian right, made up of Lacedaemonians under one of their kings, he massed his left in a column fifty deep and led it to the attack. The enemy, drawn up uniformly twelve deep in the old-fashioned way, could not withstand the terrific shock. The Boeotian center purposely advanced more slowly than the column, and the right still more slowly, so that these divisions of the line took only the slightest part in the battle. But the Boeotian horsemen, who were well trained and high-spirited, easily put to rout the inefficient cavalry of the enemy; and the Sacred Band, Epaminondas' school of Theban youths, followed the impetuous Pelopidas in an irresistible charge on the extreme Spartan right. The king was killed, his army thoroughly beaten by a much smaller force, and the supremacy of Sparta was at an end.

 

Estimate of the Spartan Policy and Power

At the close of the Peloponnesian War, the Athenian Empire had passed under the control of Sparta, which continued to treat it as a subject. But the Spartans were less capable of governing an empire than the Athenians had been; they were less intelligent, less just and mild. They had no experience in governing an empire, no knowledge of finance, and no system of administering justice, as had the Athenians. They could only think of controlling their subjects as they did their perioeci, or in the most favored cases, their Peloponnesian allies. Naturally they were guilty of many harsh and tyrannous acts.

Notwithstanding all these facts, after Athens had proved her inability to unite Hellas, it was well for Sparta to make the attempt. A great number of liberty-loving states could not possibly be welded into a nation without the use of force and the infliction of some temporary injustice. But the Greeks were learning to cooperate in safeguarding their rights against Sparta, while adapting themselves to her supremacy. In time the system might have proved as easy and acceptable to the Greeks as it was efficient for protection. But the number of Spartans had dwindled to a few hundreds, and in military skill they were now surpassed by both Athenians and Thebans. Unable to rule by intelligence and justice, they lacked the strength, too, for keeping the city-states in obedience. The result was the end of their supremacy.

From this point of view, the battle of Leuctra, a triumph of local patriotism, was a great misfortune to Hellas. Had Sparta retained the leadership, she might have preserved the independence of the nation. After her fall no city was strong enough for the task.

 

Historical Footnote:

Brief History of Dionysius - the Elder and His Son Dionysius - the Younger

Places of Delphi (see map), Tholos Temple, and Apollo

1. Dionysius the Elder 430 – 367 B.C. was called the Tyrant of Syracuse. Born of humble origin, he entered politics as a supporter of the poorer classes. Having prompted a measure in 400 B.C. to elect truly democratic generals, he secured for himself one of these generalships. His next move was to arouse distrust of his colleagues, and he succeeded so well that he soon became a tyrant. Fundamentally his reign was characterized by a consistent policy of maintaining the obedience of the Syracusans through fear of the constant menace of the Carthaginians, who were, at that time, masters of a large part of Sicily. At the same time he kept alive the enthusiasm of his subjects by expeditions against the cities of the Italian mainland and by his not so successful efforts to repel the Carthaginians. He sided with Sparta against Athenian naval predominance. As a patron of the arts, he wrote tragedies of disputer literary merit.

2. Dionysius the Younger 368 – 344 B.C., the son of Dionysius the Elder, was also called the Tyrant of Syracuse. He ended the war with Carthage and enlisted the support of the professional army. Neither gifted nor trained for administration or warfare, his banishment of DION of SYRACUSE destroyed his only valid chance of maintaining his influence. In 357 B.C. the Syracusans welcomed Dion, who came to avenge his family for the ill treatment they had received, and Dionysius fled. The murder of Dion gave Dionysius the opportunity to reestablish himself in his native city, from whence he was finally expelled by Timoleon in 344 B.C. The remainder of his life was spent chiefly in Corinth, where he is said to have been a teacher of rhetoric. He wrote poetry and philosophy and was a patron of the arts. Dion, with Plato’s backing, had attempted to fashion him into the model philosopher king, but failed. Subsequently Dionysius expelled Plato from his court.

3. Delphi (see Map with arrow in yellow area) is shown on the map of Greece, located in the Sparta area and her allies. In that city is the Tholos Temple which was built and destroyed and then later rebuilt around 397 B.C. during the reign of Dionysius the Elder. The Temple was used in that historical time and afterwards for religious rites and ceremonies.

4. Apollo in Greek religion, one of the most important Olympian gods, concerned especially with prophecy, medicine, music and poetry, archery, and various bucolic arts, especially the care of flocks and herds. His cult was Pan-Hellenic and his prophecies bore great authority. His chief oracular shrine was at Delphi, which he was said to have seized, while still an infant, by killing its guardian, the serpent Python. This event was celebrated every eight years in the festival of the Stepteria, in which a youth impersonating Apollo set fire to a hut (called the place of Python) and then went into exile to Tempe, where he was purified of his deed. At Delphi, Apollo was primarily a god of purification. He had other notable shrines at Branchidae, Claros, Patara, and on the island of Delos, where it was said he and his twin sister, Artemis, were born to Leto and Zeus. Apollo was a highly moral god, frequently associated with the higher developments of civilization, such as law, philosophy, and the arts. As patron of music and poetry, he was often connected with the Muses and was said to be the father of Orpheus by Calliope. Apollo may have been first worshipped by primitive shepherds as a god of pastures and flocks; but it was as a god of light, Phoebus or Phoebus Apollo that he was most widely known. After the 5th century B.C. he was frequently identified with Helios, the sun-god. Apollo was the father of Aristaeus and of Asclepius. His amorous affairs, however, were not particularly successful. Daphne turned into a laurel rather than submit to him, and Marpessa refused him in favor of a mortal. In Roman religion he was worshipped in various forms, most significantly as a god of healing and of prophecy. In art he was portrayed as the perfection of youth and beauty. The most celebrated statue of him is the Apollo Belvedere, a marble statue in the Belvedere of the Vatican, Rome, a Roman copy, dating from the early empire, of a Greek original in bronze. The right forearm and the left hand were restored by a pupil of Michelangelo. The statue represents the god as a vigorous and triumphant youth, naked except for the chlamys draped over his extended left arm.

 

Part 2

> Excerpts from "A History of the Ancient World" by George Willis Botsford, PhD., copyright 1912, pgs 246-262


Compiled by Marko Marelich, Retired Mechanical Engineer
San Francisco, California USA
June 20, 2008