The recovery of Athens - World History

The recovery of Athens - World History
Posted on 29-12-2022

The recovery of Athens ( 400 ) Athens manages to recover from the defeat against Sparta.

During the 4th century, the Celtic Gaëls arrived in present-day Ireland. They reduced and assimilated the indigenous population and divided into a hundred small kingdoms. Soon the most important chiefs forced the others to recognize their authority, and in turn they elected a "supreme king", although this political hierarchy was very weak.

Thucydides died in 400 . At that time his History of the Peloponnesian War was about the year 411, and he left it there. Now Greece was recovering from that war. King Archelaus of Macedonia must have thought that Greece must be exhausted, so he went from the diplomatic policy that he had maintained in the previous period to invading Thrace. He occupied the city of Larissa, but Sparta proved to be in control of Greece and in 399 the king was assassinated. Macedonia went through a period of confusion.

Athens continued its "purification" process to strengthen democracy, threatened by Spartan influence. The democrats made a particularly unfortunate decision: to impeach Socrates. It does not seem plausible that the accusation was founded. On the contrary, Socrates had shown disobedience against the Thirty and had denounced the bad government of Critias. In fact, the charges were moral, a sure sign that they were immoral. He was accused of impiety and "corrupting the youth."

Perhaps it was decisive that among the disciples of the sage there had been Alcibiades and Critias himself, but it seems reasonable to suppose that deep down there was the animosity that Socrates caused in an influential part of the citizenry with his impertinent questions, his irony and his ease. to leave others without answers. It is also likely that he would have had no difficulty in getting acquitted if he had not chosen to defend himself as clumsily as he did.

At first he had no difficulty refuting the charges. Regarding impiety, he could easily prove that he had never breached his cult obligations towards the gods. Undoubtedly Socrates did not believe in them, but that did not matter to anyone. Regarding the charge of corrupting the young, he challenged anyone who could deny that he had always tried to inculcate piety, temperance, and prudence in his disciples, but then he launched into the proudest apology for himself, proclaiming himself elected. by the gods to reveal the truth.

Athenian law required that both the prosecution and the defense request a specific decision from the court, so the judges could only choose between granting one of the parties what they asked for. Socrates not only asked for acquittal, but also to be proclaimed a public benefactor and housed in the Pritaneo, a kind of temple where the city feted its heroes. Since this option was far-fetched, the court accepted the prosecution's request, which was the death penalty. However, the voting was close (780 votes against 720).

Socrates's disciples managed to reason with the teacher and requested that the court meet again. The defense went on to request the payment of a fine as a penalty (which his disciples promised to collect, since Socrates had no money). However it was too late. When the votes were recounted the number of supporters of the death penalty had increased by 80.

The most prestigious disciple of Socrates was a thirty-year-old named Aristocles, although he is better known by the nickname of Plato. Socrates did not leave any writing, so what we know of his doctrine is due to the testimony of those who knew him, and Plato is the most important source. He has narrated the execution to us: he died ingesting hemlock. Given the grief of his followers, his words were:

Why do you despair? Didn't you know that since the day I was born Nature has condemned me to die? It is better to do it on time, with a healthy body, to avoid decay.

Certainly, Socrates was already 70 years old. It is not unreasonable to think that he sought his sentence because he felt that he had little life left and thus he had the opportunity to immortalize his work. Whatever it was, that's how it happened. The city was not slow to react. One of those who had brought the accusation against Socrates was stoned to death, and the others were forced to leave Athens. For his part, Plato decided to leave too and went into exile in Megara, shortly after he went to Cyrene and then to Egypt, where he studied mathematics and theology.

Another famous disciple of Socrates was Antisthenes, who developed his teacher's ideas about the need to renounce all dependency as the only possible way to achieve happiness. This included giving up possessions so as not to be enslaved by fear of losing them, but it also warned against relying on the opinion of others.

A radically different philosophy was developed by Aristippus. He was born in Cyrene, but lived in Athens and was also a disciple of Socrates. He taught that the only good is pleasure, and that the best meaning that a man could give to his life was to seek it. Obviously, to coherently defend such a position it was necessary to have certain skills. It seems that Aristippus had a great personality and a refined appearance that inspired sympathy among men and attracted women. He spent other people's money lavishly, so he had many friends.

That same year King Agis II of Sparta died. He left two children. The eldest was also called Agis, but he was suspected that his real father was Alcibiades. The youngest son was Agesilaus, who presented himself as the legitimate heir to the throne. At that time Lisandro, separated from politics by force years ago, saw the opportunity to recover his former power. Agesilaus was short, lame, and weak in appearance. He thought he would be an easy king to govern and supported him until he became Agesilaus II. However, he was wrong in his calculations. The new king was very clear about what he wanted to do and Lisandro could not get any advantage.

In 398 Dionysius of Syracuse had already organized his city to impose itself on the rest of Sicily. He had an army of 80,000 infantry and 3,000 cavalry. He advanced to the west and reduced the Carthaginians to a small redoubt on the island of Motya. The Carthaginians were confident that they could withstand a siege, well supplied by their fleet. However, Dionysus presented the world with a new war device: the catapult.With their help, he managed to drive away the Carthaginian ships while building a boardwalk to bring them closer to their fortifications. Finally the city surrendered and was razed to the ground. Its inhabitants were sold as slaves. Carthage only had a piece of coastline left in the north, around Panormo, (present-day Palermo). It seemed impossible that he could resist, but winter had come, and Dionysius withdrew to Syracuse until the following year. Carthage reacted. Himilcon led an expedition that landed at Panormo, fanned out across the western part of the island, and founded a fortified city called Lilybaeus on the coast, some seven kilometers south of devastated Motya.

In 396, after ten years of siege, Rome managed to take the Etruscan city of Veii. The city was destroyed and its territory annexed to Rome. For the first time, Rome directly ruled territory beyond the city limits. According to tradition, the siege of Veii was directed by Marco Furio Camilo. Contrary to what one might think, this did not imply an enmity between Rome and Etruria, but some Etruscan city-states, such as Cerverteri and Clusium, approved the Roman attitude. This means that Rome knew how to take advantage of internal dissensions among the Etruscans.

King Agesilaus II of Sparta decided to undertake a great undertaking. The satrap Tissaphernes had returned to Asia Minor and attacked the Greek cities in retaliation for helping Cyrus the Younger. For his part, the Athenian general Conon, defeated at Aegospotami, had managed to ally with the Persians, who provided him with a fleet of 300 ships with which he launched himself to pursue the Spartans. However, the adventure of Xenophon and his men had revealed the fragility of the apparently powerful Persian Empire. A disoriented Greek army had been able to move freely and with impunity through their territory. Xenophon decided to put his odyssey on paper. He called it the "Expedition of the Ten Thousand"and, although his account does not have the objectivity of Thucydides, the truth is that it is one of the most important documents that we preserve about the time. The fact is that Agesilao II had lost all the fear that Persia had aroused on the Greeks of previous generations, so he decided to lead an expedition against Persia.

Apparently, the king saw his project as an emulation of the legendary expedition led by Agamemnon against the city of Troy. Like Agamemnon, before leaving he decided to make a sacrifice in the Boeotian city of Aulis, but Thebes was not willing to consent. She had been an ally of Sparta in the Peloponnesian War and had ultimately failed to achieve her goal, which was to destroy Athens, due to Sparta's opposition. Agesilaus II was expelled. Nevertheless he set out, taking with him many of the "ten thousand", including Xenophon himself. in 395He defeated Tissaphernes, who was executed by the Persians shortly after because of this defeat. That year Plato returned to Athens, but soon decided to leave again to study Pythagorean philosophy in Taranto.

The Carthaginian general Himilco had managed to advance to besiege Syracuse itself. Dionisio did not accept direct combat and prepared to resist a siege. Apparently the tyrant was an expert at sieges and surprise attacks, but he never relied on head-to-head combat.

The Persian king Artaxerxes II decided to use the same policy against the Greeks as his father, not very honorable, but effective: finance the enemies of Sparta. He was already doing it with Conon and now he was busy raising Thebes and Corinth against his former ally. Pausanias led an expedition against Thebes. He attacked from the south while Lysander attacked from the north. However, Lysander was killed in a skirmish and Pausanias had to withdraw. Fearing trial, he abdicated and went into exile to Tegea. He was replaced by his he son Of him Agesipolis I.

Athens allied with Thebes, and Argos and Corinth soon joined. In 394 Sparta ordered Agesilaus II to return, as he would be much more useful in Sparta than in Asia. He reluctantly accepted. Along the way, bad news reached him: Conon had destroyed the Spartan fleet off Knidos, one of the Doric cities on the coast of Asia Minor. Thus ended the brief period in which Sparta had a fleet. When he arrived in Boeotia, he had to fight against the anti-Spartan coalition troops. He managed to win, but by a small margin, so he hurried down to Sparta. The satrap Pharnabazo recaptured the Spartan garrisons in Asia Minor, Conon returned to Athens and in 393the "long walls" were rebuilt. In 392 Corinth and Argos were united to form a single city-state. Sparta's situation was increasingly delicate.

Dionysius of Syracuse managed to launch a surprise attack by land and sea on the Carthaginians who were besieging his city, greatly weakened by a plague epidemic. Himilcón's troops ended up encircled around Lilibeo, while Syracuse dominated the rest of Sicily.

In 390 Rome went through the most critical period in its history. Until then, the Etruscans had served as a screen against Gallic incursions, but now that Etruria was a shadow of its past, a Gallic tribe came to the city, conquered it, and subjected it to tribute. His boss was called Brenno.The Romans of later centuries wove numerous legends to soften this page of their history. The official version says that the Gauls besieged the Romans in the Capitol, but, unable to achieve a definitive victory, they decided to withdraw if Rome paid them a tribute in gold. The Gauls began to weigh the gold that the Romans were collecting, when a Roman general observed that an object whose weight he knew was valued less. The Gallic weights were fake. The general protested, and then Brenno exclaimed the famous phrase: Vae uictis! (Woe to the vanquished!), and threw his sword at the scale plate where the weights were, to make it even more disproportionate. Then, the outraged Romans rebelled against the Gauls led by Camillus, who encouraged them with the no less famous and no less fictitious phrase "Rome buys her freedom with iron, not with gold." The Gauls had to leave the city empty-handed.

Although the Gauls undoubtedly left victorious, with their tribute and with the threat of a forthcoming visit, it does seem certain that Marco Furio Camilo played a prominent role in this crisis. The legend around him is broader. He tells that some time ago he had been accused of irregularities in the distribution of the booty obtained after the capture of Veii and that, offended, he had gone into voluntary exile a year earlier (although he returned as soon as he heard that Rome was in trouble). After the withdrawal of the Gauls, the Romans considered the possibility of leaving Rome and settling in Veii, which Camillus strongly opposed, for which he was called "the new Romulus" or second founder of Rome.

It seems that the Gallic invasion destroyed most of the Roman documents, so that the previous history is only known to us through the works of later historians, very lax. However, our knowledge of Roman history after 390 is much more reliable and documented.

In Corinth lived an Athenian general named Iphicrates, who had formed a small group of soldiers with characteristics very different from those of the traditional hoplite. They were called peltasts, from the light shield they carried, called a pelta.All the armament of the peltasts was light. In head-to-head combat, they would be helpless against the hoplites, but Iphicrates had trained them to harness their agility, to hit and run quickly and strike again. The first confrontation between peltasts and hoplites occurred when some 600 Spartans passed near Corinth. It was all a success. The bewildered Spartans were utterly defeated. Greece understood that if the Spartans could not be defeated by brute force, they could be defeated by superior strategy.

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