Essays in History, Politics and Culture Copyright R. James Ferguson © 2005

FOURTH CENTURY GREECE - DEMOCRACY, CONFEDERATIONS & TEMPORARY PEACES

 

Background Briefing Topics:

- Key dates for the Fourth Century

- The Tyranny of the Thirty and Their Overthrow

- Rebuilding of Athenian Power- Peaces and Confederacies: Experiments in Beyond-the-Polis Politics

- An Assessment of the Early Fourth Century

 

1. Key dates for the Fourth Century

The following table will provide an overview of the events of the early fourth century. If Athens had been defeated by 404 B.C., she would re-emerge as a medium-sized power in the fourth century, while Sparta and her alliance would in turn go through decline, crisis and erosion. In turn, the leagues and confederacies build by Athens and Thebes would be overshadowed by the growing power of Macedonia.

Table 1: Key Dates for the Fourth Century (based on Based on Rex Warner's translations of Xenophon; Kelly 1974; Lintott 1982)

Date Events

405 Sea Battle of Aegospotami: Athenian fleet defeated by Spartans

404 Athenians surrender to Sparta: Establishment of the Thirty Tyrants

403/2 Fall of the Thirty of Athens

399 Trial and Death of Socrates

398 Unsuccessful conspiracy of Spartan Inferiors led by Cinadon

395/4 Sparta victorious against Corinth and her allies (Argos, Boeotia, Athens) at Battle of Coroneia)

394 Athenian forces under Conon defeat elements of Spartan fleet

387/6 Peace of Antalcidas (King's Peace) forces autonomy on all Greek city-states, under Sparta (& Persian) enforcement

382 Spartan commander seizes Theban acropolis: a narrow, pro-Spartan oligarchy imposed

380 Isocrates' Panegyric demanding a unified Greek attack on Persia

378 Theban counter-revolution ejects Spartan garrison (supported by Athens)

377 Formation of the 'Second Athenian Confederacy'

371 Antalcidas negotiates for another general peace, but this is rejected by Thebes unless she signs for whole of Boeotia

371 Thebes and allies defeat Sparta at Battle of Leuctra

370 Thebes and allies invade Peloponnese and re-establish Messene

369 Thebans return to Peloponnese and help establish city of Megapolis as capital of Arcadian League

364 Thebes builds a fleet and attacks Athens (Naxos and Chios secede)

363-2 Chios and Naxos forced back into the Athenian Confederacy

359 Philip of Macedon's accession

357-55 'Social War' to force Athenian allies back into Second Athenian Confederation

355 End of 'Second Athenian Confederacy'

338 Battle of Chaeronea: Philip of Macedonia defeats a Greek army (including Theban & Athenian forces)

338/7 League of Corinth established Philip as leader and arbiter of Greek city-states

336 Assassination of Philip of Macedon

 

2. The Tyranny of the Thirty and Their Overthrow

The treaty terms for the surrender of Athens in 404 B.C. seemed relatively mild - the surrender of most of her fleet and destruction of parts of her walls, and Athenian foreign policy dictated by Sparta. The reality was a little harsher. When the Spartan naval commander Lysander took control of Athens he appointed a commission of thirty, theoretically to draw up an ancestral constitution of Athens by which the city should be ruled. In reality, these Thirty, including oligarchic leaders such as Theramenes, Critias, Aristoteles and Charikles (Lintott 1982, p161) ruled the city with Spartan interests and demands in mind. The Thirty, however, soon became engaged in securing their own security and wealth. First they sent to Sparta for the support of a military garrison, led by the harmost (Spartan military governor) Callibios. With this support they began a reign of terror against their enemies. As expressed by Andrew Lintott: -

With this protection the Thirty proceeded to arrest and execute men of substance not members of the regime, because they were possible leaders of the resistance, because of personal feuds and in order to obtain money <confiscations of the executed men's estates>. Among the victims were Autlykos, Nikeratos son of Nikias, a certain Antiphon who was rich enough to provide two triremes during the war and another rich man, Leon of Salamis. When the arrests began to provoke concerted protests, they selected a body of 3,000 as theoretical partners in the regime and stripped the rest of the citizens of their arms. (1982, p162)

Thereafter the actions of the Thirty became ever harsher, with up to a thousand people executed (Kelly 1974, p147). At last a split occurred between Theramenes and Critias. The later used a recent law which allowed anyone not on the register of this 3,000 to be killed without trial by the Thirty. He then had Theramenes struck off the list, and immediately executed. The Thirty now tried to drive those not on the list out of Athens and Piraeus, which they wished to hold as strategic centres. Fugitives fled to Megara and Thebes. This later centre harboured a certain Thrasybulus, who returned across the border with 70 determined men and occupied Phyle near the borders of Attica, setting up an active resistance to the Thirty. When this group was augmented until he had some 1,000 men, he took control of Piraeus, defeating the troops of The Thirty. Eventually this group was defeated the Spartan garrison and the oligarchs, and the Thirty were deposed by the 3,000 they had themselves enrolled but denied effective power.

King Pausanias of Sparta then led an expedition into Attica, but after some skirmishing accepted a peace treaty with the democrats. Those who were afraid for their safety in the restored democracy were allowed to retire to the safety of Eleusis (but were later treacherously killed).

One interesting aspect of this counter-revolution is that some non-citizen metics had joined in, including many of humble status and some slaves. These had been promised some political rights but these were not confirmed until two years later, being given either citizenship or isoteleia, that is the same public duties as other citizens (Lintott 1982, p167). It is hard to know what this really meant: it may have focused on the right to bear arms in the army and act as rowers in the fleet, both of which would have secured them some income and also the ability to assert their rights within the state.

The Thirty, as a political interlude, show the failure of Spartan policy in regard to post-war treatment of previous enemies - garrisons and harmosts were not an effective security measure in the long run. Furthermore, neither Corinth nor Thebes had helped the Spartans, whose power they now wished to limit.

It was due to association with such oligarchic leaders, especially Critias, and the ambiguous Alcibiades, that Socrates came to be charged with 'perverting the youth' - i.e. promoting ideas against the traditional values of the Athenian democracy. Charmides son of Glaucon, Plato's uncle had also supported the Thirty. Yet we know that Socrates had refused to help the Thirty in the arrest of Leon, a refusal fraught with personal danger. The charges were made as part of a series of political trials designed to weaken the elite oligarchic group whose power had grown too great in Athens (Lintott 1982, pp168-173). These trials reflect an immediate swing by the demos against aristocratic elements in the state (Sinclair 1988, p43), but by the later fourth century these political trials seem to have largely abated.

3. Rebuilding of Athenian Power

Athens was able to rebuild some of its power, especially from the 380's onwards. First, however, it needed to stabilize the state and reduce the likelihood of civil war. After the political trials of the 390's and a cautious foreign policy during the decade, this seems to have been done by realizing that the interests of the both the elite and the demos needed to be catered for if Athens was to survive.

From this time a new oath was taken by the 6,000 jurors, empanelled every year and then selected by lot. This oath included a clause against tyranny and oligarchy, against anti-democratic actions, but was followed up 'by one abjuring obedience to any proposal for the abolition of debt or the redistribution of land' (Lintott 1982, p178). This clause, in fact, embodies a commitment to a moderate democracy where neither the rich nor the poor are threatened by the excessive legislative power of the Assembly.

Athens, however, soon began to assert her independence from Sparta: she supported the Corinthian alliance against Sparta in 395-4 B.C. Likewise, she began rebuilding her fleet and rebuild her walls. During this period democracy was re-introduced at Byzantium in the Hellespont and Athens once again had an ally who could help control the grain route to the Black Sea, a long standing aspect of Athenian policy (Garnsey 1985).

Around this time also many Spartan 'allies' seceded from their forced incorporation in the Spartan alliance system; these included Cos, Teos, Chios, Ephesus and Mytilene. Generally, Sparta's grip on the Aegean was weakening at the same time as her land power was under challenge. This culminated in 377 B.C. with a second Athenian Confederacy, this time with a more moderate constitution and policies (autonomy was guaranteed in the new Confederacy). We have a stone inscription of part of this confederacy agreement, which guarantees that no cleruchies will be set up, nor will Athenians buy land in the lands of their allies. Many cities from Euboea joined, though by 370 there were disputes between Athens and Boeotia over who should have the most influence on the island. Circa 376-5 Athens, after showing naval superiority in the Aegean, found herself at the head of a Confederacy of some seventy states, including the island of Delos (Kelly 1974, p159).

Ceos seems to have been added to the Athenian League in 363-2, but this did involve the restoration of a democratic faction, indicating the dangerous return to old methods of political control. Nonetheless, the Second Athenian Confederacy seems to have worked quite well for some years. However, through 357-355 the defection of leading states such as Chios, Cos, Rhodes, Byzantium, Mytilene, Corcyra, led to a war in which Athens tried to bring them back under control (Lintott 1982, p224, p235). Many of these states managed to gain their independence, which Athens was forced to recognize. This so-called 'Social War' led to the end of Athenian prestige, and helped open the way for a growing Macedonian strength in the north.

4. Peace Treaties and Confederacies: Experiments in Beyond-the-Polis Politics

The General Peace treaties imposed during the fourth century (e.g. in 386 and 371 B.C., see Hammond 2000) were an interesting attempt to reduce inter-state conflict, and could have promoted pan-Hellenic prosperity, if they weren't so obviously the domination of Hellenic affairs by Sparta with Persian help. The aim was to prevent new associations and Leagues, e.g. like those of Thebes and Athens, or the rebirth of organizations such as the Ionian league, from interfering with the status quo. The problem was that the current 'state of affairs' certainly benefited both Sparta and Persia.

The most important of these documents will give you some idea of how mainland Greece had become too weak to avoid Persian interference. The so-called Peace of Antalcidas (named after the Spartan officer who helped negotiate it in 387/6 B.C.) included the following clauses: -

King Artaxerxes considers it right that the cities in Asia should be his, and of the islands Clazomenae and Cyprus, but the other Greek cities both small and large he allows to be autonomous, except for Lemnos, Imbros and Skyros. These as of old should belong to the Athenians. Whichever side does not accept this peace, I will make war on them together with those who agree to it, by land and sea, with ships and money. (Xenophon, Hellenica, V, 30-31)

Such arrangements greatly reduced the popularity of Sparta, and were, in the long run counter-productive. It was no surprise that both Thebes and Athens tried to overturn such arrangements. This was done through the birth of several Leagues and Confederacies. We have already mentioned the Second Athenian Confederacy. The Boeotian and Arcadian federations were two other alliances that upset the balance of power in the Greek world.

Boeotia Federation

This League, usually led by Thebes with as a formal Hegemon with strong political and military powers of leadership (see Hammond 2000), had been one of the main threats to Athens in the late fifth century, and now in the fourth was a threat to the hegemony of Sparta.

The cities of Boeotia had a federal constitution in which individual cities had oligarchic councils and also sent members to a representative federal council, based on 11 constituencies, four of them from Thebes and its adjacent region (Hammond 2000). Each constituency provided and funded 60 federal councillors and one general. This League, then, was a representative federation of mild oligarchies (Lintott 1982, pp227-8, following the Oxyrhynus Papyrus called the Hellenica).

The Persian and Spartan Peace agreements were largely directed against this federation, since autonomy and autarchy for each city-state would enforce the break-up of bodies which impinged on the sovereignty of the individual city-state. The Spartan backed a coupe at Thebes in 382 B.C. also served much the same purpose, as did her control of some of the smaller cities in Boeotia.

In 371 Thebes refused to accept another peace arbitrated by Persian unless she could sign for all of Boeotia, thereby breaking the autonomy clause specified in the earlier treaty and threatening Spartan power (see Hammond 2000, pp83-88). It was this combined Boeotian military power, and Theban use of cavalry and a new heavy hoplite phalanx, which eventually broke Spartan power, defeating her at the Battle of Leuctra in 371. In the next two years Spartan territory was invaded, freeing parts of Messenia, the traditional power base of the Spartans. Megapolis was also established as the capital of the Arcadian League, helping assure its independence. Of course, the Spartans had a severe social problem with the growing number of 'Inferiors' Spartan citizens without land, and this problem had become acute as early as 398 B.C. when Cinadon lead an unsuccessful revolt by the 'Inferiors'. When Sparta was at last invaded, her true weakness was revealed - as late as the end of the Peloponnesian War she had come to rely on mercenaries, as well as allied and armed helots acting as auxiliary troops.

With some ups and downs, this Boeotian federation remained intact down till the total destruction of Thebes by Alexander the Great, who attacked the city after it had revolted from Macedonian control in 355 B.C. We should not imagine however, that Thebes was necessarily loved by her smaller neighbours. As noted in Arrian's account of the military campaigns of Alexander the Great: -

In what followed it was not so much the Macedonians as the Phocians, Plataeans, and men from other Boeotian towns who, in the lust of battle, indiscriminately slaughtered the Thebans, who no longer put up any organized resistance. They burst into houses and killed the occupants; others they cut down as they attempted to show fight; others, again, even as they clung to temple altars, sparing neither women nor children. (Arrian I.8, p59)

Nonetheless, the Boeotian League had been until this time one of the most enduring of the attempts to build up and maintain a political entity which operated beyond the confines of the city-state.

Arcadian League

This is an interesting institution as it united several small cities in the western Peloponnese into a military force strong enough to resist Spartan control. It included Mantinea and Tegea, as well as the new city of Megalopolis. Set up largely by the anti-Spartan democratic factions in Mantinea and Tegea, the league pursued a moderately pro-democratic foreign policy. The citizens of 'The Arcadians' had an assembly of 10,000 citizens, which may have corresponded to the cavalry and hoplite classes out of a total population of some 30,000 men (see Hammond 2000, p91). This gave them a strong defensive capacity, though not enough to radically reshape the politics of mainlnd Greece. The impetus of this League began to weaken after disputes with Elis in 365-4, and with debates over the proper funding of the army. Towards the end of the century the League still existed in a greatly weakened form (Lintott 1982, p233). This institution, however, did indicate how relatively weak states could organize themselves into regional bodies capable, for at time at least, of resisting major powers such as Sparta.

Several other federations had temporary success during the period: the Chalcidic League to the north unified cities on the peninsula against threats from the interior, for a time was an ally of Athens (from 375 B.C.), but was eventually undermined first by Spartan interference (circa 379), and then by Macedonian intrigues. Likewise, the Euboean league could not avoid control by either Thebes or Athens.

5. An Assessment of the Early Fourth Century

The Peloponnesian War had engaged most of the Greek cities in prolonged naval and land wars which had damaged land, impoverished the cities, and killed many of their citizens. The exact level of this destruction is a complex problem which is still under debate (see Strauss 1986), but on modern parallels any major war of this sort would take at least decades for a complete recovery, though Athens managed a partial revival of some elements of her agriculture, trade and naval power after about a decade (French 1991).

In Athens, between 404 and 386 B.C., there seems to have been an overall decline in wealth, and some increased social tension between the rich and poorer sections of the social spectrum (Strauss 1986, p403). Most importantly, Athens could no longer rely on a major injection of funds from her naval league. Even the short lived Second Confederacy could not return the city to its previous level of wealth, since tribute was no longer forcibly levied, and in a renewed conflict with Sparta over Corcyra in the fourth century, neither side could really afford the costs of equipping the required fleets. Athens could no longer afford such a large scale war, though we must remember that the Assembly now thought funding for the poor, through the 'Theoric Fund', as important as keeping the war chest supplied (Fench 991).

Perhaps most importantly, Athens may have lost up to 60 per cent of her mature manpower for the period 431-390 B.C. due to the war, to internal revolution, to plague and some emigration to colonies. Certainly, there was a sharp decline immediately after the war, and this may have in part forced a greater reliance on mercenary forces generally in the Greek world (e.g. at Corinth, 393-391 B.C., Justin, Epitoma, 6.5.2, translated in Harding 1985, pp35-36). The use of mercenary soldiers must itself have added a considerable financial burden to the cost of the operations. This would have helped reduce some of the poverty felt by these groups, but in the long run also caused a decline in citizen armies, which had been the traditional basis of the power and independence of the Greek polis. It precisely though the weakening of citizen hoplite levies and naval units that Athens would lack the strength to seriously hamper the ambitions of Philip II of Macedonia. Ironically, it was the power of recently organized tribal levies in Macedonia which would overthrow Greek military power, then later on mobilise Greek soldiers for the early campaigns against Persia.

On the other hand, the long term effects of the Peloponnesian War must not be over-emphasized; Athens continued to try and limit the power of both Sparta and Thebes as hegemons during the 4th century. We know that the ephebate for the training of young citizen soldiers probably continued to operate down into the second half of the fourth century (as noted in a fourth century stele from Acharnai, see also Pollux, Onomastikon, 8.105-6, Stobaeus, Florilegium, 43.48, translated in Harding 1985, pp133-135), providing young soldier who could act as garrison troops and thereafter as a military reserve (French 1991).

Likewise, the military levies which Philip placed on the Greek cities after the 'League of Corinth' in 338-337 show that considerable manpower was available by this time, though the figures suggested in Justin of 200,000 infantry and 15,000 are likely to be exaggerated (Justin, Epitoma 9.5.1-6, as translated in Harding 1985, p99, Diodorus 16.89.13).

Sparta, too, had paid a high cost in the war. Losses of Spartiates had greatly weakened her military strength, and she was unable to maintain as tight a control over her Peloponnesian allies as before. Likewise, her defeat by Thebes was due both to her own diminished strength as well as new military tactics employed against her. Although her own later social 'revolutions' were probably based on resource-inequalities which were perhaps already underway by the late fifth century, it seems likely that the continued strain on her limited military resources also helped exacerbate these problems.

Sparta, as we have seen, had to rely on Persian gold, and later was willing to be the caretaker of general peaces declared by the Persian King. Neither policy made them popular with the rest of the Greeks, and destroyed the claim made towards the end of the Peloponnesian War that they were the liberators of Hellas. Partly for this reason, though the states of the defunct Delian League had for a time became her allies, Sparta was unable to maintain a beneficial leadership of Greek affairs. In other words, the only true hegemon of the Greek world lost the chance they had to resettle Greek affairs and lay the basis for a true peace. To use a cliched phrase, it seems that Sparta won the Peloponnesian War, but lost the following periods of partial 'peace'.

This brings us to the next major aspect of the Fourth Century. During this period the Greek states, unable to maintain internal stability and with none of the key players able to clearly dominate the rest, were in a position to be strongly influenced, then actually dominated by major territorial powers. Firstly Persia, on the basis of her wealth and alliance with Sparta, had dictated Greek affairs for about 30 years from 405 B.C. Thebes and then Athens were unprepared to endure such a state of affairs, and in this Greek sentiment was generally on their side. But the Theban domination of Greek affairs was also short-lived, and she lacked the resources to become a true Pan-Hellenic leader. Her techniques in developing new army formations, using heavy phalanx formations of spearmen, alongside a new emphasis on cavalry and skirmishing lightly-armed troops would be taken up and adapted with new vigour by the Macedonians. Philip of Macedon, after a brilliant program of diplomacy and political strategy, defeated the alliance of Greek cities at Chaeronea in 338 B.C. This success can only be viewed as partly due to residual Greek weakness - it was as much due to the political, economic and military strength of Macedonia.

Some writers see in this period from 404-332 B.C. a failure of the polis (city-state) as a political system and a demoralization of its citizens, particularly within the context of a competitive inter-city environment. Several trends have been taken to support this view. First, the attempt to set up Confederations which broadened the political framework from a single city and environs, to larger territorial entities suggested that the limits of the traditional city-state now needed to be superceded. These confederations, whether apparently co-operative (e.g. Arcadia), or based around the power of a central member (e.g. Theban dominance of the Boeotian League), were an attempt to build up a strong power base which could not be readily destroyed by either diplomacy for warfare. Likewise, the exchange of political citizenship between cities hoped to build stronger and more secure cities, e.g. Athens gave Athenian citizenship rights to Samos without any loss of their autonomy in 405 B.C., while Corinth and Argos tried to effect a political union, a move Sparta intervened to stop.

The problem, here, however, is whether there is a clear distinction between these later confederacies and earlier alliance systems such as the first Athenian League and the Lacedaemonian League. The Second Athenian Confederacy, this time directed against Sparta and Persia, did have a much more benevolent face than the first Empire. Athens could no longer take land within the territory of her allies, and the tribute was now a voluntary contribution, but many states still suspected Athens of pursuing a 'neo-imperial' agenda (See French 1991, p36). Moreover, towards the end of its history the second Athenian Confederacy also began to use force against its members, indicating that power once held is hard to give up.

Indeed, these confederacies do not show the failure of the polis so much in the internal sense, as the inability to create a peaceful and stable inter-city environment. In this later period, particularly, it was difficult to balance the needs of local autonomy with the demand for a Common Peace (see Ryder 1965 for this concept). It many ways, a major external enemy had been the only way of creating 'peace' between most of the cities, and then only for a short time, and usually with a minority siding with the 'enemy'. Persia had been a useful enemy for this purpose, and the orator Isocrates would have been happy for her to be so again as a focus for pan-Hellenic ideals. Likewise, the threat of Macedonia did create a powerful body of allies, including Thebes and Athens, but these moves came much too late to reverse the new balance of power Philip had build up in northern Greece.

Economic impoverishment has been mobilised as a second major background factor in the uneven outcomes of Greek political confederations in the fourth century, creating a lapse in which Macedonia and Persian could re-establish themselves as regional powers (see Lewis 1977). As noted above, Athens and Sparta suffered economic hardships immediately following the Peloponnesian war. Was this hardship only short-term and reactive, or did the war stretch the resources of Greece cities above their upper possible limits? There is some evidence of a general economic decline during the period down to the 380's. Particularly, many Greek citizens were willing to hire themselves out as mercenaries (Xenophon Hellenica, IV.4, p162; this is the reality facing the 10,000 Greece soldiers who went to fight for the Persians in Xenophon's Anabasis; see further Fox 2004), suggesting a collapse in local revenues, while emigration to the few possible outlets continued.

The economic indicator here is not the absolute population numbers, but the ratio of population to economic resources. Though it may be difficult to really destroy farming land, vines or olive trees in the long term (French 1991), it is quite possible to kill off slaves, skilled workers (including those involved in Athens' silver mines, see French 1991), force the shifting of trade routes away from war-torn areas, damage ports, navies, and to deplete cash resources which had come to play a very important part of the war economies during the late fifth century. This can even be seen in the political life of Athens: duty on the bench of warships now had to be replaced with a greater emphasis on paid jury service, and the theoric fund established in order to keep large numbers of the thete class at a basic survival level. It seems that the economies of the mainland cities for which we have evidence, though recovering, were in the long run adversely affected by the shift to another round wartime economy which could not be sustained, either in terms of naval resources or heavy infantry (see French 1991). In the case of Athens, her partial revival was enough to rebuild a dominant alliance: -

It was the need for money to sustain policies of defence and warmaking which imposed the heaviest burden. Less than fifteen years after the end of the Peloponnesian War Athens was already engaged on an ambitious programme of naval rearmament to enable her to challenge once more for the command of the Aegean Sea; and for most of the fourth century she continued to play the part of a leading naval power, even when it became clear that from her internal resources she could sustain such a role only with great difficulty. In 378 B.C. she took the first steps towards founding a new naval alliance after the style of the old Delian League; after twenty years of struggle the attempt was finally abandoned. The effort was beyond her capacity. Among the terms of the new alliance had been a provision that no tribute would be levied on the allies; the costs of the naval programme and all the expenses of war were to be defrayed from Athenian internal revenue. (French 1991, p34).

Perhaps the new reality for this period was the overshadowing of city-states by tribal, dynastic or territorial powers. It must be remembered that these powers embraced extended territories and had large pools of economic and military resources unified under one king. Once that king managed to bring his territory under control, and eliminated possible rivals, rather large resources were at his disposal. This was true of Macedonia and to some degree Epirus, and remained true of Persia. This, once again, might be viewed as an inherent criticism of city-states as a political and military institution. However, as noted above, it is primarily the inability to stabilize Greek values within an interstate political system which led to the inability of the Greek states to defeat Macedonia. No stable pan-Hellenic movement could structure a political or military cohesion that could compete in the medium to long term with these regional power. The city-states had relied too much upon changing treaty arrangements between cities, which would often be changed for reasons of internal political failure or stasis. The Leagues of the Fourth Century were the one possibility for off-setting Persian or Macedonian power - large Leagues such as those of Boeotia, the Athenian League (if it had remained intact), or the territorial army which the Arcadians were able to field, might have deterred Macedonian control if they had remained unified. That they did not, largely due to continued internal competitions between these leagues, spelt the end of Greek autonomy. First the Macedonians, and then the Romans (with brief interludes), were to be their masters.

The suggesting inherent political, religious and moral decline of the Greek city-states of the fourth century are largely overstated: Athens had recovered to form a mild but relatively stable democracy, she had managed to build a somewhat more humane naval league, and she was eventually to fight for her freedom against Macedonia. Likewise, in art, literature and philosophy we do see a change from the heights of achievement in the period 460-360 B.C. However, the fourth century really had an enormous amount to digest with these new developments and it should not surprise us that existing paradigms continued operating for some centuries before being exhausted and then seriously challenged. If Athenian theatre and poetry seems to decline before emerging in new Hellenistic forms, then on the other hand her philosophy and rhetorical practitioners remained strong in the 4th century.

Sparta, certainly, was largely a spent force: her social and political organization had limits to how far it could be extended and sustained, partly due to limits on economic resources and the number of full Spartiates that could be supported (see Hodkinson 1983). Once she came to rely on mercenaries, upon arming helots, and upon externally derived financial and naval resources, her leadership was at an end. Thebes, however, did revive under great military leaders such as Epaminondas and Pelopidas (see Hammond 2000, p93), while Syracuse emerged as major power in the central Mediterranean.

Overall, Hellenic cities were far from spent in the fourth century, and they tried new political and social solutions to their problems, emerging as social and economic foci in the Hellenistic period. Achievements in the fourth century, politically, social and culturally, were real and lasted through the Hellenistic and Roman periods down into a shared Western heritage.

 

6. Bibliography and Further Reading

Ancient

ARISTOTLE (trans. H.Rackham) Politics, Cambridge MA, Harvard Uni. Press, 1977

ARRIAN The Campaigns of Alexander, trans. Aubrey de Selincourt, Harmondsworth, 1971

DIODORUS SICULUS Histories, trans. C.Oldfather, Cambridge MA, Harvard University Press, 1962

ELLIS, J.R. & MILNS, R.D. The Spectre of Philip: Demosthenes' First Philippic, Olynthiacs and Speech On the Peace: A Study in Historical Evidence, Sydney, Sydney University Press, 1970

HARDING, Phillip (ed.) From the End of the Peloponnesian War to the Battle of Ipsus, Cambridge, CUP, 1985 (Collection of sources in translation)

LONDON ASSOCIATION OF CLASSICAL TEACHERS "The Change from League to Empire", in The Athenian Empire: Sources Translated, London, Lactor, 1972, pp33-52

PLUTARCH (trans. R.Talbert) Plutarch on Sparta, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1988

SAUNDERS, A.N.W. (ed.) Greek Political Oratory, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1970

XENOPHON (trans. R.Warner) A History of My Times (Hellenica), Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1966

XENOPHON, (trans. R.Warner) The Persian Expedition, Harmondsworth, Penguin.

Modern

CAWKWELL, G.L. "Notes on the Failure of the Second Athenian Confederacy", JHS, 101, 1981, pp40-55

FITZHARDINGE, L.F. The Spartans, London, Thames and Hudson, 1980

FOX, Robin Lane (ed.) The Long March: Xenophon and the Ten Thousand, New haven, Yale University Press, 2004

FRENCH, A. "Economic Conditions in Fourth-Century Athens", Greece & Rome, 38 no. 1, April 1991, pp24-40

FUKS, Alexander The Ancestral Constitution, London, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1953

GARNSEY, P. "Grain for Athens", in Cartledge, P. & Harvey, F. (eds.) Crux: Essay in Greek History Presented to G.E.M. de Ste. Croix on his 75th Birthday, London, Duckworth, 1985

GOMME, A.W. The Population of Athens in the Fifth and Fourth Centuries B.C., Oxford, Basil Blackwell, 1933

HAMMOND, N.G.L. "Political Developments in Boeotia", The Classical Quarterly, 50 no. 1, 2000, pp80-93

HODKINSON, Stephen "Social Order and the Conflict of Values in Classical Sparta", Chiron, 13, 1983, pp239-81

KELLY, Maurice View From Olympus: A History of Ancient Greece, Melbourne, Cheshire, 1974

LEWIS, D.M. Sparta and Persia, Leiden, E.J. Brill, 1977

LINTOTT, Andrew Violence, Civil Strife and Revolution in the Classical City, London, Croom Helm, 1982

NUSSBAUM, G.B. The Ten Thousand: A Study in Social Organization and Action in Xenophon's Anabasis, Leiden, Brill, 1967

ONIANS, John Art and Though in the Hellenistic World: The Greek world View 350-50 BC, London, Thames & Hudson, 1979

POWELL, A. Athens and Sparta: Constructing Greek Political and Social History from 478 B.C., London, Routledge, 1988

POWELL, A. Classical Sparta: Techniques Behind Her Success Norman, University of Oklahoma, 1988

RHODES, P.J. "Athenian Democracy after 404 BC", Classical Journal, 74, 1979-80

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Essays in History, Politics and Culture Copyright R. James Ferguson © 2005