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Bust of Parmenides

Bust of Parmenides


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Parmenides' Fallacy: Query

I should admit, first off, to having been one of those who had wanted to see the weapons' inspections continue, for I thought that we ought to be more sure of the existence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq before invading back in 2003. Nevertheless, based on Saddam Hussein's behavior, which seemed to be that of a man with something to hide, I actually believed that Iraq had a WMD program and expected chemical or biological weapons to be found, and I was thus surprised when no such weapons were located after the invasion.

But that's an issue for a different post. My sole reason for today's blog entry is to pose a simple question:

I've looked around a bit on the internet but haven't found a source identifying the origin of either "Parmenides' Fallacy" or "Parmenidean Fallacy."


Ancient History

In the year 449BC the Athenians and the Spartans had an uneasy peace with each other, having brokered a temporary truce in the previous years under the auspices of Cimon. Now however, Cimon was dead, and it was unclear that the truce he had made would last.

The Athenians took this opportunity to send the wealthy nobleman Callias (also known as Callias II to differentiate him from others of the same name in Athens) to Persia to negotiate a peace between the Athenians and the Great King, Artaxerxes I. In the aftermath of Xerxes' failed invasion, the Athenians and their Greek allies had inflicted numerous defeats on the Persians and they had wrested Ionia and the western coast of Asia Minor from the Persian Empire. But they had been unable to seriously damage the Persians, whose inland empire was vast and the Athenians had suffered defeats in Cyprus and Egypt. The last engagement, in Cyprus, had seen the death of Cimon, the tactical defeat of the Persians and the strategic defeat of the Athenians. There was no longer any advantage for either state to continue fighting.

Head of woman, from Melos
It is said that a peace treaty was made, generally referred to in literature as the Peace of Callias. The terms of the peace were said to be that the Athenians would cease to support the enemies of Persia, particularly in Egypt and Cyprus. In return the Persians would acknowledge the liberation of the Ionian cities and would not allow them to be interfered with. The Persian navy would also be bound not to sail into the Aegean Sea.

This would appear to be a triumph of diplomacy and is sometimes seen as the end of the Persian Wars. However, all may not be all as it seems. Most references to the Peace of Callias are from a century later, when orators compared it to a much less favourable peace that had been imposed. There was supposedly a monument to the treaty, but it had been written using the wrong script, suggesting that perhaps it was forged later? It is honestly hard to tell. Thucydides makes no mention of it and he is one of the better historians of this era. But, regardless of whether the Peace of Callias actually existed or not, or if the terms were exactly the ones mentioned, it does seem as if the Persians and Athenians stopped fighting each other for a while.

Stele from around 447BC stipulating
tribute payments for the
Delian League/Athenian Empire
Another argument for the existence of a peace treaty is that the other states of the Delian League became restless. The Delian League had been formed to fight the Persians. But with the possibility of a lasting peace with Persia, the need for the League's existence was now uncertain. The Athenians still required high payments of tribute in either ships or money. Most allies now paid in money and the treasury of the League was held at Athens, rather than on the island of Delos as had previously been the case. Here, the Athenians were beginning to contemplate using these funds for purposes other than protecting the League.

For all the genius of the Greeks, it seems bizarre that they never were able to cooperate unless in times of desperation. They spent so much blood and treasure on fighting each other that it seems strange that they never thought of combining into a more unified group. There is an inkling that something of this might have been tried this year. Athens, Sparta and Persia were all at peace and Pericles proposed a Congress that could use the treasury of the Delian League and other funds in Greece to rebuild all the temples that had been destroyed in the Persian invasions, as a symbol that the long war was truly over. This was not a call for political unity, but it was asking the Greeks to act in a unified way on something other than just the Panhellenic Games.

Bust of Pericles in the Altes Museum
Berlin
The Spartans rejected it. It seemed too like an Athenian trick. The ostensible aim was to spend a lot of money rebuilding temples that had been destroyed, and a lot of Athenian temples had been destroyed. The proposer was Pericles, who was a man who had favoured war with Sparta before. The Spartans believed this was some cheap way for the Athenians to further their influence over the rest of the Greek world, and to be fair to the Spartans, it probably was. But I would like to imagine that for a brief moment, there was a chance of something greater, some vision that offered hope, before it faded and the Greek cities continued along the path that they had always followed.

In the wake of the failure of the proposed Congress, Pericles raised more money from the Delian League to rebuild some of the temples in Greece, primarily in Athens. Sparta had a different reaction however. They wanted to reassert their own authority on Pan-Hellenic matters and marched against Phocis.

When the Athenians had defeated Thebes in the Battle of Oenophyta eight years earlier, they had also made Delphi reliant on nearby Phocis, rather than the defunct Amphictyonic League, led by Sparta. The Spartans marched northwards and made Delphi independent of the Phocians. It is hard to imagine that this act was viewed kindly in Athens. In fact, with this act the truce can be said to have been broken. This act marked the beginning of a short and unremarkable conflict known as the Second Sacred War.

This year in Athens saw Herakleides win the competition for tragedy at the Great Dionysia Festival. With the new funds allocated for temple building, work began on the Temple of Hephaestus, on the north-western corner of the Agora, as well as the Temple of Athena Nike on the Acropolis hill itself, just to the right of the entrance area. The temple of Nike was probably planned by the architect Callicrates.

Coinage of Perdiccas II of Macedonia
In the year 448, King Alcetas II of Macedon was murdered, after a short and rather undistinguished reign. The Macedonian kingdom was breaking up and the nephew of the king, named Archelaus, murdered the king. The king's brother Perdiccas succeeded to the throne as Perdiccas II and tried to re-establish the strength of the kingdom. However, other members of the royal family, such as Perdiccas' brother Philip, tried to place themselves on the throne and civil war ensued.

In central Greece, the Athenians marched to Delphi and placed the sanctuary of Delphi back under the control of Phocis. This marked the end of the short and unremarkable conflict known as the Second Sacred War. While the dispute over Phocis and Delphi was fairly trivial in itself, it marked the resumption of the First Peloponnesian War, with Athens and Sparta once again at war.

Perhaps because of this resumption of hostilities, construction began on another Long Wall in Athens, known as the Middle Wall. The first two Long Walls had covered all the ground in the triangle between Athens, Phalerum and Piraeus. The Middle Wall created a narrow, but protected, road between Piraeus and Athens, in case the naval power of Athens failed and the Phalerum was taken or the eastern Long Wall was breached by siege.

Reverse of Athenian Tetradrachm
The Olympic Games were held that year. Lacharidas won the boy's stadion. Polynikos of Thespiai won the boy's wrestling. Ariston won the boy's boxing. Krison of Himera won the prestigious stadion race, while Eucleides of Rhodes won the double pipe (diaulos race). Lyceinos won the race in full armour, the hoplitodromos, while Cheimon of Argos won the wrestling competition. Keton of Locroi won the pentathlon, while Arcesilaus of Sparta owned the team of horses that won the tethrippon chariot race.

Yet nothing surpassed the triumph of the family of Diagoras of Rhodes at this Olympic Games. Diagoras was a supposed descendent of the Messenian hero Aristomenes and if true, lived up well to the fame of his forebears. He had been victorious as a boxer in all four of the Panhellenic Games: The Olympic, Pythian, Isthmian and Nemean Games. These wins included two Olympic victories, celebrated with a victory ode by no lesser poet than the poet Pindar. He had also sired mighty sons.

In this year his son Damagetos of Rhodes won the pancration for the second time at the Olympics. Meanwhile another of his sons, Acusilaus of Rhodes, won the boxing competition as his father had done. The two Olympic victors celebrated by carrying their aging father on their shoulders around the race track, while the spectators cheered and saluted their good fortune, skill and glory.

Modern statue in Rhodes, showing
Diagoras being carried on the shoulders of
his sons
The story goes that Diagoras came to Olympia in the company of his sons Acusilaus and Damagetus. The youths … proceeded to carry him through the crowd, while the Greeks pelted him with flowers and congratulated him on his sons. The family of Diagoras was originally, through the female line, Messenian, as he was descended from the daughter of Aristomenes.
Pausanias, Description of Greece, 6.7.3, written circa AD150

It is said that a spectator called out to Diagoras that he might as well die at that moment, as this was the height of human happiness. It is also said, probably as a later addendum to the legend, that Diagoras died at that moment the happiest man in the world. This is probably a later tale, but it is certain that Diagoras' family were legendary. A third son, Dorieus, would go on to win glory in the Olympics, and it is said that his daughter was so obsessed with sports that she trained her son (Diagoras' grandson) and made her way in disguise into the arena to watch his victory. It's hard to know how much of this is true, but it is worth remembering the tales, even if they are merely legends.

Diagoras' tomb was created in Rhodes and was later mistakenly reverenced by the locals as the tomb of a saint. The local football team and their stadium, as well as the airport of Rhodes are also named after him.

Tomb of a youth in Boeotia
In 447 Pericles led an expedition to the Chersonese to expel the non-Greek inhabitants of the area and plant Athenian colonies. Pericles was correct in identifying the Straits of the Hellespont as vital to Athenian interests. Athens was growing as a city and had long been unable to feed itself. It instead paid (or required as tribute) for grain to be shipped from the lands surrounding the Black Sea to feed the population.

While Pericles was away with much of the Athenian fleet, an oligarchic revolt against Athenian rule broke out in Thebes. Thebes was the traditional leader of Boeotia and a traditional enemy of Athens. However Thebes had been defeated by Athens ten years previously and their ruling oligarchs expelled. The Athenians favoured the democratic faction in Thebes and strengthened it. However the alliance with the traditional rivals must have eroded the popularity of the democratic faction in Thebes. The exiles returned and ousted the democratic faction.

The Athenians led a small force of Athenians and allies, under the command of Tolmides, to bring Thebes back into line. Either they underestimated the threat, or they had overextended their reach in their expedition to the Hellespont. After an initial Athenian success, the Thebans counterattacked and heavily defeated the Athenians at the Battle of Coronea.

In the aftermath of this defeat, the remainder of the Athenian army was effectively trapped in hostile territory. In order the extricate themselves, the Athenians had to make a humiliating peace and Boeotia and Thebes left the Delian League. As Boeotia lay across the land routes to Locris and Phocis, it became clear that Athens would no longer be able to hold these areas and shortly thereafter these regions also left.

Decree authorising construction of the Parthenon
Not much is known exactly about tactics or the politics of this conflict, but it was a crucial one in Greek history. The Athenians had attempted to control both land and sea and had controlled the land of central Greece as far north as the borders of Macedonia. Now they had lost the vast majority of their land empire, with their northern border being the mountains to the immediate north of Attica and with Megara being the only contiguous land area they controlled.

In Athens itself, the Middle Long Walls were completed, giving a measure of security to the port of Piraeus and providing reassurance to the Athenians that even if the land was lost, the sea was still their undisputed empire.

The Athenians passed the Coinage Decree, proposed by an Athenian named Clearchus, which stipulated that the Athenian weights and measures, and most specifically, coinage, should be used throughout the Athenian Empire. This was quite sensible in certain ways, but cannot have endeared the allies to the Athenians.

In this year work began on the most famous of all Greek temples, the Parthenon. The architects in charge of its design were Callicrates and Ictinus.

Around this time, Achaeus of Eretria wrote his first play. He was a writer of tragedies and was said to have had great competence. However he only won one competition and none of his plays survive antiquity.

Modern painting of Antigone and her unburied
brother Polyneices
Wonders are many and none is more wonderful than man himself.
Sophocles, Antigone, written circa 447BC

Also around this time, although the year is slightly uncertain, Sophocles wrote the play Antigone. This is the eponymous story of one of the daughters of the doomed Oedipus, King of Thebes. Her brothers have quarrelled over the throne of Thebes and one attacked Thebes to kill his brother, while the other defended Thebes (to kill his brother). Both brothers fought with each other and died from their wounds. The new king, Creon, the brother of Oedipus' mother/wife, vows that the corpse of the son of Oedipus who attacked the city should be left to rot. Antigone, his sister, refuses to leave her brother unburied, regardless of what he has done, or the demands of the state. She honours her family and the gods above the duties of the political authorities.

The play follows the struggle between the two strong-willed tragic figures, both driven by what they believe is the right way to act. It has been seen as the great work of civil disobedience, of the conflict between religion and the state, between public and private morality and a host of different interpretations.

We have only a little time to please the living. But all eternity to love the dead.
Sophocles, Antigone, written circa 447BC

Coin of Sybaris before their expulsion in 446BC
In the year 446, in Italy, the exiles of Sybaris were expelled once again from their city. They had returned to their city under the leadership of a Thessalian and possibly with an alliance with the Greek city of Poseidonia. However the nearby city of Croton was too powerful once again and the Sybarites were once more expelled and banished from the region.

In Sicily Ducetius, the Sicel rebel leader, returned from Corinth and founded a new city at Caleacte on the northern coast of Sicily. It is probable that he did so with some level of permission from Syracuse, as the Syracusans did not venture to attack him, as they would doubtless otherwise have done.

The return of Ducetius was opposed by the Greek city of Acragas, and they sent a force towards the Himera River to attack the Syracusans, who were believed to have been behind Ducetius' return. The Syracusans won a victory there and Acragas was forced to make peace shortly thereafter.

On mainland Greece the Achaeans, in the northern Peloponnese, revolted against the Athenians. The Theban victory of the previous year had proved that far from being invincible, that the Athenian Empire was extremely vulnerable to attack by land. To add insult to injury, the island of Euboea revolted against the Athenians. Euboea was a large island and very close to Attica. If it was to revolt successfully, Athenian control of the Aegean would be threatened. Pericles took an army to bring Euboea back into the empire by force.

Athenian Tetradrachm
While the Athenians were engaged in Euboea, the people of Megara decided to revolt against the Athenians. The Corinthians, Epidaurians and Sicyonians joined in the attack on the Athenian garrison and the garrison were all killed.

The Athenians perhaps did not realise the seriousness of their danger and did not immediately recall their army from Euboea. Meanwhile the Spartans displayed their strength and marched in force from the Peloponnese under the leadership of King Pleistonax.

The Athenians had sent military forces to retake Megara. These were unable to retake the city though and had to retreat to avoid the oncoming Spartans. A later tombstone in Athens is dedicated to a man named Pythion of Megara, who is said to have saved the lives of three tribes of Athens. It may be that Pythion was a Megarian who was friendly to Athens and who guided the Athenian troops homewards once the Spartan army approached. As the Spartans were advancing in force, Pythion probably led them through a circuitous and unexpected route into Boeotia.

Pleistonax passed Megara, which had previously been a bastion keeping the Spartans in the Peloponnese, and advanced as far as Eleusis. There was nothing to stop the Spartans from advancing as far as the walls of Athens, but Pericles hurriedly abandoned the sieges in Euboea to return to Athens with the full Athenian army.

Bust of Pericles
The Spartans had made their presence felt and Pericles seems to have sent emissaries to Pleistonax and his close advisor Cleandridas. It is not clear exactly what was said, or what terms were offered. But Pleistonax led the Spartan army away. In a purely coincidental fact, the Athenian treasury for that year had 10 talents unaccounted for, which Pericles had simply marked as "Important state business".

It seems likely that Pericles had bribed Pleistonax to retreat. But this was perhaps an oversimplification. The Athenians knew that they were in trouble certainly. But Pericles and Pleistonax both knew that the Spartans could not have taken the city of Athens. The walls of Athens were far too strong for the Spartans to besiege. So, a withdrawal actually was the best outcome for both sides, even though Pleistonax (or his advisor Cleandridas) probably did take the small bribe.

Freed from the immediate threat of Spartan invasion of Attica, Pericles took the Athenian army back to Euboea and conquered it, forcing it back into the Athenian Empire. The town of Histaiea was the only one that was not settled with a negotiated surrender possibly because these townspeople had massacred the crew of an Athenian trireme. They were expelled from their lands and an Athenian colony planted there.

Also in this year, the Athenians disarmed the city of Miletus, perhaps suspecting it of disloyalty to the Delian League/Athenian Empire. As they were now disarmed, they would have to contribute money instead of ships to the fleet.

Female statue from Theseion
This year the comic poet Callias won the prize for Comedy in the Great Dionysia festival in Athens. It is not known, by me at least, for which play he won. The works of Callias are not well known, but some fragments of one of his plays survive, as well as the titles of some of his other works. The work of his that is known is called the Letter Tragedy, where there were 24 chorus members, each representing one of the 24 letters of the Greek alphabet.

In the year 445, after around fifteen years of intermittent warfare, Athens and Sparta made peace. Callias II, the wealthy nobleman who had perhaps negotiated the peace with the Persians (or perhaps had not) was sent to Sparta to deal with the Spartans and create a peace. More accurately, what had been agreed upon was a thirty year truce, but this was a much stronger agreement than the previous five year truce negotiated by Cimon.

Athens was to give up all the bases that she had occupied around the Peloponnese. Aegina was to remain tributary but was to have autonomy. Megara was to re-join the Peloponnesian League of Sparta and her allies. Both cities would recognise the alliances that were in place already and would not try and tempt cities to join them. So, Athens, for example, would not try and tempt Corinth or other cities to forsake the Spartans and join the Athenians while Sparta would likewise refrain with Athenian allied cities.

The Athenian attempt to become dominant in mainland Greece was ended, but the two cities of Athens and Sparta were unquestionably the two strongest states in Greece and roughly comparable in military might. However, their methods of military force differed. Athens was very strong at sea, while Sparta was very strong on the land. But for now, they were at peace.

White-ground lekythos painted
by the Phiale Painter
There were probably some in Sparta who were unhappy with the treaty, as Spartan fortunes in war had been improving after the quelling of the helot revolt in the previous decade. The Agiad king of Sparta, Pleistonax, was banished, along with his advisor Cleandridas. Cleandridas was later sentenced to death in absentia for his taking of bribes from Pericles and the Athenians. Cleandridas never returned, but his son would later serve with distinction in the Spartan army. Pleistonax went into exile.

Meanwhile, in Italy, the expelled Sybarites took advantage of the newfound peace between Sparta and Athens to request their aid. They begged for colonists to be sent to Sybaris, to re-found Sybaris with representatives of the two strongest states in Greece. Surely the people of Croton would not dare to anger both Athens and Sparta simultaneously? The Athenians and Spartans were pleased with the proposal and sent out settlers to re found the city.

Preparations began for the new colonists, but probably not many were sent out originally. The colonists arrived in Sybaris and began to rebuild the city, but then moved slightly away from the city, to found a new city nearby. This new city was named Thurii (or Thurium) and was probably made in response to an oracle. The city was a combination of the numerous settlers and the few remnants of the original Sybarites.

In the arts, the Phiale Painter flourished around this time. He was an Attic red-figure vase painter. He was probably a student of the Achilles Painter.

In the year 444 the leadership of Pericles was challenged in Athens. Pericles held the elected position of strategos, meaning general, which allowed him certain privileges, but his real leadership of Athens lay in his ability to speak and persuade the Assembly. Pericles was an aristocrat, but had continued the reforms of the murdered Ephialtes, who had favoured a more radical democracy than had existed under Cimon or Themistocles.

He was opposed by Thucydides, son of Melesias, who led an aristocratic party against Pericles. He was probably related to the more famous Thucydides son of Olorus, who later wrote a history of the Peloponnesian War, but it is not clear exactly how the two were related. Both had Thracian connections and Thucydides, son of Melesias, was a relative of Cimon. After Cimon's death he had taken up the mantle as leader of the conservative opposition. His followers were less than those of Pericles, but he magnified their effect in the Assembly by having them sit and stand together, thus making their voices seem perhaps greater than they would have been otherwise.

Temple of Hephaestus in Athens
Thucydides began to take Pericles to account for his expenditure of money. Firstly there was the matter of the ten missing talents that had clearly been used for a bribe to get the Spartans to leave when Pleistonax had invaded Attica. However this was so obviously done for the benefit of the state that the auditors seemed quite content to accept this irregularity.

There was however the more serious matter of the huge sums being spent on the building of new temples. Pericles had used the treasury of the Delian League to finance this. Not only was this money that had been taken from their allies and subjects, but it was such an outlay that the state would struggle to pay such expenses.

Thucydides took Pericles to task for this extravagance. He was a good speaker and the building works, so obviously visible from Pnyx Hill, were visible to everyone. The public feeling rose high against Pericles. However, Pericles was a bold and accomplished orator and when the rage of the people had reached its zenith, he took to the speaking platform.

Earthquake shaken column of the
Temple of Hephaestus in Athens
He made no apology for the scale and expense of his building program and told his listeners how these adornments would make Athens the finest city in the world. He then told the people that if they were concerned about cost, that he, Pericles, would personally pay for each and every monument that he was building, but that to shame the populace, he would inscribe his own name upon the buildings, as the people were clearly unworthy of such splendour. The people of Athens were amused and amazed by this and they voted to continue with the building work. Pericles was once more back in the favour of the people and Thucydides son of Melesias was held in poor regard.

When the orators, who sided with Thucydides and his party, were at one time crying out, as their custom was, against Pericles, as one who squandered away the public money, and made havoc of the state revenues, he rose in the open assembly and put the question to the people, whether they thought that he had laid out much and they saying, "Too much, a great deal." "Then," said he, "since it is so, let the cost not go to your account, but to mine and let the inscription upon the buildings stand in my name." When they heard him say thus, whether it were out of a surprise to see the greatness of his spirit, or out of emulation of the glory of the works, they cried aloud, bidding him to spend on, and lay out what he thought fit from the public purse, and to spare no cost, till all were finished.
Plutarch, Life of Pericles, written circa AD100

Around this time, the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens was mostly completed. However, only the basic structure had been put in place. The friezes and ornamentation were not yet finished, as the primary building effort was now put into the work on the Parthenon and other temples on the Acropolis. The temple of Hephaestus was built of Pentelic marble and even in an unfinished state, would have looked quite wonderful from the nearby Agora.

Interior of the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens
The Olympic Games were held this year. Krison of Himera won the stadion race. Tausosthenes of Aegina won the wrestling competition. Alkainetos of Lepreon won the boxing competition. Iccus of Taras (or Taranto) won the pentathlon. Charmides of Elis won the boy's boxing, while Arcesilaus of Sparta owned the team of horses that won the tethrippon chariot race once again.

Iccus of Taranto was famed in antiquity as being one of the greatest gymnasts of his age. He followed Pythagorean precepts in preparing for his athletic contests. He would eat abstemiously and abstain from sex while in training. He is sometimes held to be the first proponent of special athletic diets. This is probably overstating the case, but it shows that the Greeks were beginning to treat sport in an almost scientific fashion, in a way that modern Olympians would find familiar. The methods of training, diet and overall preparation were different, but the attention to detail and care given would have had similarities.

Around the year 443 the new city of Thurii was beginning to flourish. This was very near to the vanquished city of Sybaris and its people were composed of the defeated Sybarites and new colonists from Athens, Sparta and many other parts of Greece. It looked as if the fortunes of the people of Sybaris were finally about to change for the better after decades of defeats inflicted by their neighbouring city, Croton, Sybaris would rise once more.

However, it was not to be. The Sybarites had seen themselves as the core of the new city and are said to have given themselves certain privileges, such as restricting certain voting rights to themselves alone, giving the tracts of land closest to the city to themselves and allowing their wives to sacrifice first to the gods. The new colonists resented this and a few years after the new city of Thurii was founded, the colonists rose up in revolution.

Later bust of Pindar
The exact year is uncertain, but it was probably between 443 and 440, that the colonists, who were intended to protect the Sybarites, took over the city for themselves. Those few Sybarites who were not killed in this new disaster were exiled.

They did not go far, but instead founded a new city, known as Sybaris on the Traeis. The exact location of this city is unknown, but it was quite a small city, probably more akin to a town. It was located somewhere along the Trionto River in present day Calabria in Italy.

It is around this time that Pindar, perhaps the greatest of the Greek lyric poets, died. He was originally from Thebes, but had travelled in his lifetime throughout much of the Greek world, including Thessaly, Aegina and Syracuse, attending the Panhellenic Games and writing odes in the honour of the victors. In certain cases the athletes would commission these themselves, while in other cases the home city of the athlete would pay for an ode to be composed in the honour of their victor. Some of the victors were rulers of cities in their own right, such as the tyrant Hiero I of Syracuse, and thus could afford to have their glories remembered. It is through the works of Pindar that we can begin to see the importance of sport to the ancient Greeks, who commissioned poetry to explicitly compare their sporting heroes to the demigods and heroes of old.

For words live longer down the years than deeds.
Pindar, Nemean Ode 4, written circa 465BC

Ostraca cast against Pericles. Thucydides son of Melesias
was ostracised instead, but some votes were clearly cast
against Pericles
It is perhaps in this year that Thucydides, son of Melesias, was ostracised by the Athenians after his failure to discredit Pericles in the previous year. Thucydides left the city for a ten year banishment and Pericles was once more unchallenged in the political favour of the Athenians.

In the year 442 the playwright Sophocles was elected as a treasurer of the Athenians. He had probably been given this position because he was beloved playwright. There was more scope than ever for playwrights, as the lesser known annual festival of the Lenaia was moved to the Theatre of Dionysus around this time and plays were performed at it. It seems that in this year comedy was added to the Lenaia.

In the year 441 a dispute seems to have arisen between the cities of Miletus and Samos about which would control the nearby region of Priene. All of the cities were in close proximity to each other and both Samos and Miletus were famed in the Greek world. However, Miletus had been disarmed by the Athenians five years previously. The Samians by contrast had not only kept their navy, but were one of the very few cities in the Athenian Empire to still maintain their own navy, which they did with pride. Thus when the two cities eventually came to blows, the Samians had much more success than the Milesians.

Later bust of Euripides
In this year Euripides is said to have won the tragedy competition at the Great Dionysia, but the play with which he won has not survived. He was the youngest of the three great tragedians of antiquity. Aeschylus had been revered by the Athenians and had served his country in war. Sophocles was a well-known public figure in addition to being a great dramatist. Euripides however had a reputation for being a bit weird and was satirised by comic writers as being a brooding misanthrope. More of his works survive than any of the other playwrights of antiquity however.

It is possibly around this time that Sophocles wrote his tragedy, Ajax. This was a character study into a hero whose pride leads him to madness and then tragic suicide. The fate of the body of the hero is then debated by his family and by those that Ajax had planned to murder, eventually culminating in respect being allowed even to foes in death.

In the year 440BC in Cyrene in North Africa, the people had finally had enough of the tyrannical rule of their king Arcesilaus IV. He had exiled many of the nobles and had kept himself in power by hiring mercenaries. He and his son fled the city to go to what is now the Benghazi region in Libya. Here he was caught and killed and his corpse desecrated. His son was beheaded and his head cast into the sea. The land of Cyrene was subsequently made into a republic, while remaining under Persian rule.

Coin of Acragas from this period
In Sicily, the Sicel leader Ducetius, who had been defeated by Syracuse, exiled to Corinth and later returned to found a new colony at Caleacte, died. While he may not have directly controlled the Sicels any longer, it seems that his death was the signal for the city of Acragas to attack the Sicels. The city of Palice, founded by Ducetius, had been a place for slaves to flee to, and it seems that perhaps this was once more seen as a threat by the people of Acragas. Palice was attacked and destroyed and the Sicel communities were scattered, leaderless and decentralised once more. The colony of Caleacte also seems to have failed and only became prosperous in later centuries. Thus passed Ducetius, the failed freedom fighter of a forgotten people.

In the Aegean, the dispute between Miletus and Samos had come to blows and the Samians were victorious. The Milesians appealed to Athens. The Milesians had previously been disarmed by the Athenians, but they were still, like the Samians, part of the Athenian Empire. The Athenians were perhaps motivated by a number of factors, perhaps fearing Samian overreach, or perhaps fearing that if they did not defend those they disarmed that they would seem weak. Perhaps they disliked the oligarchic Samian government and preferred the democratic Milesian government.

Whatever the reason, the Athenians told the Samians to give up the disputed territories and to accept Athenian judgement on the matter. Some Athenians suspected that this favourable judgement was given because Pericles was in love with the hetaira (courtesan) Aspasia, who was originally from Miletus.

Later bust supposedly of Aspasia
The Samians refused to accept these terms and so the Athenians, acting swiftly and before the Samians were aware, sent a force of forty ships to Samos. This fleet changed the government of Samos to a democracy, took 100 hostages and placed them on the island of Lemnos, and left an Athenian garrison on Samos.

This had been an easy win for Athens, but this was only because the Samians had been caught off guard. Some of the exiled oligarchs went inland into Asia Minor, where they appealed to Pissuthnes, who was a Persian satrap in Sardis. Pissuthnes gave them 700 mercenaries and the exiles made the short crossing to Samos in the night, where they began a revolution. The Athenian garrison was captured and handed over to the Persians. The Samian hostages were then rescued from Lemnos and word sent out to other states in the Aegean to rise up against the Athenians.

The Samian War had now begun. The strategic city of Byzantium had also risen up against the Athenians, which threatened the grain supply of Athens from the Black Sea regions. Pericles immediately set out against Samos with a large fleet. The Samians, who had a significant fleet of their own, sent out their ships, but the Athenians defeated them near the island of Tragia. The Athenians then received reinforcements, landed on the island of Samos and then began to make siege works to try and take the city. While no Greek army at this period showed any great skill in siege-craft, the Athenians were probably the most skilled in this art.

Temple of Hephaestus in Athens seen from the Agora
At this time, Pericles, who was leading the attack on Samos, heard that there was a Persian fleet approaching from Caria to assist the Samians. He hurriedly took 60 ships and moved south to fend off this threat. The Persian fleet never materialised, however the Samians took advantage of the reduced Athenian forces to sally forth and inflict a defeat on the besiegers. It is recorded that the leader of this attack was Melissus of Samos, the Eleatic philosopher who did not believe in vacuums. The attack was so successful that for a little time, the Samians were once again master of the seas around their island.

Once it was clear that the Persian fleet was not coming to defend Samos, Pericles returned to Samos with the 60 Athenian ships. The blockade around Samos was re-established and the city was placed under siege in earnest once more.

But in the meantime the Samians made a sudden sally, and fell on the camp, which they found unfortified. Destroying the look-out vessels, and engaging and defeating such as were being launched to meet them, they remained masters of their own seas for fourteen days, and carried in and carried out what they pleased. But on the arrival of Pericles, they were once more shut up.
Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, Book I, written circa 400BC

Later bust of Sophocles
Around this time, the city of Mytilene, an important city on the island of Lesbos, was considering joining the revolt. The Samians had appealed to Sparta and her allies for aid against the Athenians and the Peloponnesian League was gathered in Sparta to decide whether or not to go to war against Athens once more. The League was nearly evenly split, but in an interesting turn of events, the Corinthians argued against intervention, thus saving Athens from the danger of fighting the Spartans and quelling a major revolt simultaneously.

Around this time the Temple of Poseidon at Sunium was completed by the Athenians. This temple reared dramatically above the cape. The designer may have been the same architect who designed the Temple of Hephaestus near the Agora in Athens. It is only partly preserved, with some of the outer columns standing yet. The cape had an entire captured Persian trireme dedicated to Poseidon, great god of the sea, as a memorial to Athenian naval might.

It was around this time that Phidias created his statue Athena Lemnia, which was hailed by later Greeks as the greatest of his works. Like nearly all works of Greek statuary from this period, it has not survived, but some glimpse of it can be seen from the Roman copies.

Around this time, the physician Euryphon of Cnidus flourished. He wrote some books on medicine, of which nothing now survives. There were two competing schools of Greek medicine, at Cnidus and Cos. It seems that Euryphon may have been aware of the difference between arteries and veins. Another doctor who flourished around this time was Pausanias of Sicily. Little is known about Pausanias of Sicily save that he was the eromenos of Empedocles.

Eromenos was a term denoting a "male beloved" in Greek. However, this had some differences between homosexuality as it is currently understood. This had some fairly crucial differences from our culture's experience of homosexuality. The eromenos was generally younger, in certain cases much younger, than the other man. We would probably be quite uncomfortable with the arrangement, as the Athenians and at least some other Greek states, seem to have viewed consent as the important thing rather than age. At least some of these relationships would be viewed as child abuse now. Probably all of these relationships would be viewed as problematic, as the older man would have comparatively more power and status within society and this asymmetry of power would lend itself to manipulation and abuse (much like a teacher seducing a student).

Theatre of Dionysus in Athes
There certainly were some homosexual relationships that we would be more familiar with, where two men of roughly comparable ages were lovers, but these seem to have been regarded as somewhat unusual in Athens.

The point is not to morally castigate the ancient Greeks. They certainly engaged in many practices that we would consider immoral. The ubiquity of slavery as a means of production and torture as a means of interrogation are but two examples of how ancient morality differed from our own. It is fair to point out that they engaged in this behaviour, but condemning them doesn't revert the harm that was done. The only reason to morally criticise the past is to learn from it ourselves.

But I do think it is worth remembering that the cultural expressions of sexuality in the ancient world were quite different from the cultural expressions of sexuality in our own times. The subject is quite a complex one and many of the terms of discussion do not easily translate from one period to another. This is the barest introduction to the study of ancient sexuality, but it is worth studying.

Fragment of the writing of Empedocles
found in Egypt
Empedocles was from Acragas, in southern Sicily and, like many ancient philosophers, was quite an influential man in his own city. He was known as an orator and later legends credit him with seemingly miraculous powers, which he seems to have partly fostered himself. He wrote at least one, perhaps two, poems on philosophical matters, parts of which survive in fragments and quotations of other works. Like many ancient philosophers he was said to have travelled, but these accounts are much later and hard to verify. His thought was a mixture of many other schools and philosophies, but there is much that is original. Like many other Greek thinkers at the time, he would have been troubled by the opinions of Parmenides and the Eleatics, who held that change was impossible.

Rather than prioritising any one of the four classical elements (for example Thales had believed that all things came from water), Empedocles believed that the four elements exist in the same proportions from eternity. Empedocles may have been the first to propose that each of these "elements" were fundamental. The apparent change in the world was caused by two powers in the world, known as Love and Strife. These were used with different meanings than in normal Greek and might perhaps be better known as Combination and Dissolution. The changes in the world were caused by the forces of Love and Strife in flux.

Empedocles, like all the Greek intellectuals, had interests that spanned the full horizon of thought. He believed that light emanates from our eyes to allow us to see (the opposite of what is in fact the case). Like the Pythagoreans, he was a vegetarian and believed in the transmigration of souls. He believed that the world had at one point been spontaneously populated by all possible forms of creatures, but that only certain ones were able to survive and which eventually gave us the creatures we see today. Like Parmenides and the Eleatics, he believed that the cosmos was a sphere but that within the sphere, the elements were operated on by the forces of Love and Strife. The sphere as a whole seems to have been considered by Empedocles as in some way divine.

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Decorative element from Parthenon
And I shall tell thee another thing. There is no substance of any of all the things that perish, nor any cessation for them (the four elements) of baneful death. They are only a mingling and interchange of what has been mingled. Substance is but a name given to these things by men.
Empedocles, On Nature, written circa 440BC

Parmenides and the Eleatics, Melissus and Zeno, who had believed that motion was impossible had to a certain extent laid down a challenge to the thinkers of the Greek world. To prove that motion was impossible, Melissus of Samos, who around this time was battling the Athenians in the Samian War, had argued against the existence of the vacuum. It is around this time that a thinker named Leucippus, possibly from Abdera but more likely Miletus, became convinced in the positive existence of the vacuum.

In an irony of history, if Leucippus was from Miletus and an influential member of society, he may have been a leader of Miletus at the outbreak of the Samian War. Melissus of Samos was almost certainly a leader of the Samians and thus the initial squabbles between Miletus and Samos may have been driven by beliefs about the existence of the vacuum, as well as territorial struggles over Priene. This is just humorous speculation of course.

A modern painting of Leucippus
Leucippus is a poorly understood figure. It is entirely possible that Leucippus did not in fact exist, but enough has been written about him that we can at least talk about the legend of Leucippus. It is said that Leucippus posited that vacuum itself existed. If vacuum existed within the world, then substances could not be infinitely divisible. There would have to be a minimum size of the smallest part of the smallest objects that could not be further divided. This was referred to as an atom, from the Greek word for "indivisible".

We of course use the word atom today to describe a certain class of particles. These particles are different from what Leucippus would have envisioned, as (famously) these particles can indeed be divided. We must be careful not to confuse our modern physics with the philosophical ideas of Leucippus and his followers. But the conception of tiny indivisible particles being the fundamental building blocks of all matter, bouncing off each other in the vacuum of the void has proved a very fruitful philosophical conception of matter and continues to inform our perceptions on reality.

It is probable that Leucippus (or if not Leucippus, then his pupil Democritus) invented atomic theory in the west, however there were similar ideas among some of the thinkers in India. It is quite difficult to date these theories however, so it is difficult to gauge who has the priority in invention. Neither Greek nor Indian proponents of atomism had any way of testing their ideas experimentally, so these ideas remained pure philosophical ideas until quite recently.

Leucippus is said to have founded a school at Abdera, on the coast of Thrace, around this time. It is also said that the city of Metapontum, in southern Italy, was founded by Leucippus, but this was probably (almost certainly) a different Leucippus altogether. This is all that we can say about the (possible) father of Atomism.

Dying Niobid Statue
Another Greek thinker who flourished at this time, and who was very likely a contemporary of Leucippus, was Protagoras of Abdera. He is believed to have been the first sophist. Sophist is now almost a term of insult today, with the related word "sophistry" being a synonym for obscure, technical and misleading argumentation. But in the latter half of the 5th century BC it generally just meant wise person.

Protagoras would travel from city to city offering to teach wisdom to any who would learn. He charged a fee for this of course, but other philosophers had done similarly. What set Protagoras apart from mystics like Pherecydes, proto-physicists like Leucippus, or mystic mathematicians such as Pythagoras, was that he did not seem to have set doctrines, but would rather teach his student how to think and how to debate skilfully. In a world where many states were democracies or oligarchies, the ability to speak well in the assembly or council was greatly prized and people flocked to learn from Protagoras. In a time before the rules of logic had been formulated, a lot of debating skills were little better than verbal tricks and many people began to intensely dislike the sophists.

Protagoras spent a lot of time teaching in Athens, where he seems to have had a friendship with Pericles. The sophist and the statesman are said to have had a debate on a case where an athlete had accidentally killed a spectator with a javelin, as to where the responsibility lay. Did the fault lie with the thrower of the javelin, those responsible for the games, or even with the javelin itself? What conclusion they came to is unknown. However, any skilful debater must be able to argue both sides of a question. When this skill was taught, many believed that the sophists were enabling injustice to prevail over justice, as long as the unjust cause hired a speaker trained by sophists.

Funerary stele in Athens
Protagoras is said to have proclaimed that "Man is the measure of all things", which is perhaps the first example of philosophical relativism (at least in western culture). It is unclear if Protagoras actually believed this, if it was attributed to him by his enemies, or if it was merely a clever statement that he argued for in a sample debate. Relativism holds that most or all states of being are relative to the perceiver. Thus what one perceives as hot, will be perceived by another observer as cold. Neither are wrong, but neither are right without qualification.

Protagoras is also said to have been unsure of the existence of the gods, certainly as they were described in Greek myths. Again, it is unclear if Protagoras actually believed this, or if later writers believed that he had believed it.

It is said that Protagoras taught Euathlus to speak on the basis he would repay him from the winnings of this first lawsuit. Euathlus refused to take on any cases. Protagoras did what every good teacher should do and took him to court. He reasoned that he couldn't lose his fee because "… if I win the case, I should get the fee because I have won it If you win the case, I should get the fee because you have won it!" This is the same tale that is told of the Syracusan orators Corax and Tisias, so we shouldn't take this story too seriously. This is most of what we can say about Protagoras of Abdera with any certainty.

Of all things the measure is Man, of the things that are, that they are, and of the things that are not, that they are not.
Sayings attributed to Protagoras, circa 440BC

Another philosopher or thinker who lived around this time may have been Diotima of Mantineia. She is only mentioned in one later work of Plato's. This work of Plato's did however have other historical personages in it, leading some to believe that Diotima was perhaps also a real person. According to Plato, she was a seer-like figure who had once had some conversations with Socrates about love. Also according to Plato, around this time Diotima had been consulted by the Athenians about the correct sacrifices to make, which were said to be able to ward off plague for some years. It is not clear if she existed, but it is possible and so mention is made of her here.

The Lune of Hippocrates (the shaded area is equal to the
triangle ABC
It was clearly an intellectually fruitful time, with Hippocrates of Chios being the first to write a textbook of geometry, known as the Elements. He attempted without success to square the circle, which is now known to be impossible using the geometric methods available. However, as part of a partial solution Hippocrates was able to discover what is known as the Lune of Hippocrates. Sadly the transcendental value of pi will forever frustrate some attempts to the end of time.

Hippocrates of Chios clearly had a taste for doomed endeavours and also spent some time working on the problem of Doubling the Cube, which again is now known to be impossible (using only the geometers tools of compass and straightedge: it can of course be done to a given value of precision using inductive methods). Finally he spent time puzzling over the nature of celestial phenomena such as the Milky Way, which he understood to be an optical illusion. Like Empedocles he seems to have considered vison to be a type of ray extending from the eye, rather than the eye receiving light, which seems to have led him astray.

Around this time Theodorus of Byzantium flourished. He was a teacher of public speaking and was sometimes accounted as a sophist and sometimes spoken of as one of the pioneers of rhetoric. Of course the distinction is a little bit of an academic one, as certain other sophists were certainly teachers of rhetoric. Nothing survives of his work save generally approving references in later classical writings.

Around this time the comic poet Pigres of Halicarnassus flourished. He was the son, or possibly the brother, of Artemisia of Halicarnassus, who had fought against the Greeks at the Battle of Salamis during the invasion of Xerxes. He was famed for his skill at adapting the works of Homer. It is said that to display his skill he added a pentameter line underneath every line of the Iliad (which is written in hexameters), maintaining the sense of the poem while nearly doubling its length.

He was also famed in antiquity for writing a poem called Margites, about an eponymous character who was famously stupid. Margites became a byword for stupidity among the Greeks, however this work was also attributed (incorrectly) to Homer. It is not clear if Pigres actually wrote it, but it is clear that Homer didn't. Another work that was sometimes attributed to Pigres and sometimes attributed to Homer was Batrachomyomachia, which was a type of Homeric satire. Very little of any of his works have survived and only in quotation by later authors.

Phiale Painter
Also active at this time was Hippodamus of Miletus. He was a city planner who had assisted in rationalising the plan of his own city, before planning the rebuilt city of Rhodes and then creating the city plan for the Athenian port of Piraeus. There had been instances of city planning before in other civilisations, but Greek cities had previously been quite haphazardly laid out. Hippodamus envisioned neat grids of houses laid out with squares and plazas so that the streets should meet at right angles. The grid plan of the Piraeus was so admired that the central square was named the Hippodameia in his honour.

Hippodamus also wrote books on the composition of the ideal state, which he envisioned as comprising about 10,000 citizens, who would compete for rewards as to who could benefit the city the most. He wrote a number of books on mathematics, city planning and political theory.

It is said that Hippodamus was sent by the Athenians to Thurii to assist in planning the city there. However I am unsure of this. Most of the other individuals that we have mentioned are associated with the foundation of Thurii Herodotus, Empedocles, Protagoras, etc. Some of these may have gone to Thurii, others may not.

The Olympic Games were held this year. Gnathon of Dipaia won the boy's boxing. Krison of Himera won the stadion race. Theompompos of Heraia won the wrestling competition while Polycles of Sparta owned the horses that won the tethrippon chariot race.

Modern statue of Herodotus at the Parliament
building in Vienna
It was around this time that Herodotus' Histories came to be written in something resembling the form in which we have it today. It is likely that some parts of the Histories had been written perhaps ten years earlier and some sections show signs of revision up to perhaps a decade later. But the majority of it must have been written around this time. Herodotus had spent some time travelling in the eastern Mediterranean, although it is not clear if he actually visited Egypt and Babylonia. I believe that he did indeed visit Egypt, but I am sceptical if he ever made it to Babylonia.

This was the first work of history to come down to us in a nearly intact form. It is the basis of the vast majority of history in the 6th and early 5th centuries BC. Without the Histories of Herodotus our knowledge of the world would be greatly diminished. He created a trend of historical writing that was lasted in a nearly unbroken chain to this day. While there is a separate birth of history in China, with the Grand Historian Sima Qian, Herodotus is unquestionably earlier. While in many cases Herodotus may have misunderstood his sources, it seems likely that he was a truthful narrator insofar as he could be. He was however influenced by his sources, and the time that he spent in Athens gives his work a decidedly pro-Athenian bias. However, it is almost impossible to not be influenced by sources.

Temple of Poseidon at Sounion
It is said that Herodotus, when his work was nearing completion, went to the Olympic Games to read his Histories aloud to the gathered Greeks at the festival. Some accounts say that the reading was a great success and that he read the entire work from start to finish (almost impossible unless it was much shorter then than it is now). Another account recounts that Herodotus refused to begin reading his work until some clouds covered the sun, allowing him to read in the shade. By the time some clouds did eventually oblige Herodotus, the gathered Greeks had dispersed, leaving Herodotus to read his life's work aloud to an empty plaza. Thus "Herodotus and his shade" became a proverb describing those who miss their greatest opportunity by waiting.

This is the display of the inquiry of Herodotus of Halicarnassus, so that things done by man not be forgotten in time, and that great and marvellous deeds, some displayed by the Greeks, some by the non-Greeks, not lose their glory, including among others what was the cause of their waging war on each other.
Opening Prologue of Herodotus's Histories, written circa 440BC

And thus the period draws to a close, with the weakening of Athens, the end of the Athenian Land Empire, the end of the First Peloponnesian War and the beginning of the First Peloponnesian War. There were revolutions in Cyrene and new kings in Macedonia and Odrysian Thrace. There was athletic triumph with the achievements of Diagoras of Rhodes and his sons. Pericles had been challenged for the leadership of Athens and had retained his influence. A new spate of temple building had begun in Athens. The tragic playwrights were reaching new heights of achievement with the works of Sophocles and Euripides. Doctors, city planners, mathematicians, poets and dieticians all left their mark on history. The period saw the rise of the sophists and orators, as well as the birth of relativism, the postulation of the four classical elements and the birth of atomic theory as well, with the works of Protagoras, Empedocles and Leucippus (and possibly Leucippus' pupil Democritus). While this is one of the lesser studied period in Greek history, it is not uneventful.


The Parmenides - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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presentations for free. Or use it to find and download high-quality how-to PowerPoint ppt presentations with illustrated or animated slides that will teach you how to do something new, also for free. Or use it to upload your own PowerPoint slides so you can share them with your teachers, class, students, bosses, employees, customers, potential investors or the world. Or use it to create really cool photo slideshows - with 2D and 3D transitions, animation, and your choice of music - that you can share with your Facebook friends or Google+ circles. That's all free as well!


Prodicus of Ceos (465 BC – c. 395 BC)

Prodicus of Ceos (465 BC – c. 395 BC) is said to be the teacher of Socrates in at least one lecture, as mentioned by some sources. He has done some good work on ethics and linguistics. He was pretty strict about the word usage.

We don’t have any information regarding his ontological views on reality. But he was certainly a skeptic:

“Prodicus, like some of his fellow Sophists, interpreted religion through the framework of naturalism. The gods he regarded as personifications of the sun, moon, rivers, fountains, and whatever else contributes to the comfort of our life, and he was sometimes charged with atheism. “His theory was that primitive man was so impressed with the gifts nature provided him for the furtherance of his life that he believed them to be the discovery of gods or themselves to embody the Godhead. This theory was not only remarkable for its rationalism but for its discernment of a close connection between religion and agriculture.”


Monistic theory of Being

From the premise of the essential coalescence of language and reality follows Parmenides’ theory of Being, which comprises the heart of his philosophy. The only true reality is eōn—pure, eternal, immutable, and indestructible Being, without any other qualification. Its characterizations can be only negative, expressions of exclusions, with no pretense of attributing some special quality to the reality of which one speaks.

In fragment 8, verse 5, Parmenides says that the absolute Being “neither was nor will be, because it is in its wholeness now, and only now.” Thus, its presence lasts untouched by any variation in time for no one can find a genesis for it, either from another being (for it is itself already the totality of Being) or from a Not-Being (for this does not exist at all).

Obviously, this Parmenidean conception of the eternal presence of the Being conflicts with Melissus’s idea of the perpetual continuation of the Being in the past, in the present, and in the future. Thus, if Eleaticism had been founded by Melissus, no one could have really understood its actual doctrine. One could suspect in it only an aspiration to have things capable of being really enduring. But even then the theory would hardly be understandable, because what one wants is not stable things in general one wants good things to be firm and stable and bad things to be ephemeral. The perpetual continuity of existence as espoused by Melissus was despised by Parmenides just because “will be” and “has been” are not the same as “is.” Only “is” is the word of the reality—just because it is the right name for the right thinking of the right Being.

Among the consequences of this Eleatic conception is the rejection of every change (birth, movement, growth, death), as a change pertains only to the second-rate reality, which is known and expressed through the second “way of research.” Thus, the true and noncontradictory reality is extraneous to all of those happenings, great or small, that make the constant stuff of all history.

Secondly, the real Being has no difference, no lack, no variety whatsoever in itself. Melissus is here the true pupil of Parmenides, who said that the eōn is so closely connected in itself that “all Being is neighbour of all Being.” Melissus developed this theory by the negation of every form of kenon (“void”): the Being is an absolute plenum just because every lack in its plentifulness would amount to a presence of some Not-Being.


Bust of Parmenides - History

※ 이 포스트는 저의 철학 공부의 이해를 돕기 위한 목적으로 시작된 포스트입니다.

< Existance and eternality >

정말 오랜만에 철학 카테고리에 글을 추가하는 것 같습니다. 철학은 한 번 잡으면 상당히 길게 잡아야 하기 때문에 엄두를 못 내겠다니깐요 ㅋㅋ 그래도 재밌게 한 번 적어 볼게요

오늘은 소크라테스 이전의 철학자들의 이야기를 한 번 해 보려고 합니다. 생각보다 소크라테스 이전의 철학자들이 많고, 이들은 소크라테스 문하생 학파들로 대표되는 '휴머니즘' 에 앞서 자연적인 현상들과 이 세상의 근원들을 고민하였던 철학자들이라고 말할 수 있습니다. 탈레스부터 나온 밀레토스 학파, 피타고라스 학파(넹ㅋㅋ 피타고라스도 사실 뛰어난 수학자이긴 했지만 수가 만물의 근원이라고 믿었던 철학자입니다), 헤라클레이토스, 제논, 파르메니데스 등등이 대표적이라고 말할 수 있습니다. 오늘의 주제인 존재와 불변은 헤라클레이토스라는 철학자와 파르메니데스라는 철학자의 의견 대립이라고도 말할 수 있습니다. 이 두 철학자는 고대 철학사에서도 빼놓을 수 없는 철학자라고 할 수 있지요. 상대적으로 잘 알려진 플라톤이나 아리스토텔레스나 이런 사람들보다 훨씬 먼저 선구자적인 생각을 한 사람들이랍니다.

 Today, I wanna talk about some philosophers who lived before Socrates. There are more philosophers who lived before Socrates than might be thought, and they are former philosophers who tried to find out the reason of natural situations and the root of our world. For example, Thales, Pitagoras(Yes, he was also a philosopher who believed the number is the source of everything, even he was very good at math), Herakleitos, Zenon, and Parmenides. Today's topic is existence and eternality, and it can be also interpreted as the contrast of Herakleitos and Parmenides. Of course they lived in different times, but these two philosophers are one of the most important philospher in philosophy history. Even thought they are not famous as much as Plato or Aristotele, they are more fomer philosophers who played a leading role in that time.

1. 헤라클레이토스 - 만물은 변한다.

헤라클레이토스는 상대적으로 잘 알려져있지 않기로서니와, 워낙 고대 사람이라서 인물상을 구하는 것이 쉽지는 않습니다. 그래서 이렇게 쪼끄만 사진을 올리니 이해해 주시길 바래요

ㅋㅋ 그럼에도 불구하고 헤라클레이토스의 사상은 놀라우리만큼(당시의 기록이 남아있는 것 치고는) 나름 체계적이어서 헤라클레이토스만으로도 포스팅 하나는 거뜬히 할 정도입니다. 하지만 여기서는 존재와 불변에 대한 얘기만을 하니깐 필요에 따라서 조금씩 추려서 얘기해 보도록 하겠습니다.

먼저 헤라클레이토스라는 사람은 당연히 기원전에 살았던 인물입니다. 사진에서도 보듯이 약간 사납게 생겼는데요, 이 사람은 어떤 것을 말할 때 약간 신탁 투로 말하는 것을 즐겼다고 합니다. 가령 누군가가 "이 세상을 잘 사는 법이 무엇입니까?" 라고 하면 헤라클레이토스는 "너 자신을 먼저 알라" 라는 식으로 말했다는 것이죠. 진짜 짜증나는 스타일의 사람이었던 것 같습니다. 그래서 그 때 사람들도 그렇게 좋아하지는 않았답니다. 이 시대에도 이런 일이 있다니 참 놀랍네요 ㅋㅋ

헤라클레이토스가 한 말 중에 가장 유명한 말은 "같은 강물에 발을 두 번 담글 수는 없다" 라는 말입니다. 맞는 말이죠. 이미 강물은 계속 흘러가는 것이기 때문에, 우리가 발을 뺐다가 다시 담근다고 이전과 똑같은 "물" 에 발을 담글 수는 없는 법이기 때문입니다. 헤라클레이토스의 기본 사상은 "대립자" 에서 출발하기 때문에, 변화 역시 그에게는 당연한 것이었습니다. 한 개념은 반대 개념이 있기 때문에 그 개념도 존재가 가능한 것이기 때문에, 반대에서 반대로 가는 것을 헤라클레이토스는 "변화" 라고 생각한 것이죠. 따라서 그는 우리가 사는 세상은 항상 변화하며, 만물의 존재는 변화하는 것이라고 생각을 했습니다. 여기서 더 들어가면 감각, 로고스 이런 개념도 설명해야 하니깐 이쯤 해 둘게요 ㅋㅋㅋ (마이 어려워짐 ㅠㅠ)

하나만 더 보고 갈까요? 헤라클레이토스는 모든 것이 변한다고 생각했는데, 그럼 갓난아이부터 노인으로 변함에도 불구하고 나를 나라고 부를 수 있는 것일까요?? 이러한 상당히 난해한 문제가 앞을 가로막게 됩니다. 이에 대해서 헤라클레이토스는 "정체성" 의 개념을 가지고 오게 됩니다. 육체는 변하게 되지만, 나를 나라고 부를 수 있는 어떤 "같음" 이 있기에 그 일이 가능한데, 그 "같음" 이 바로 나의 "정체성" 이라는 것입니다. 이러한 정체성은 시간이 지나도 변하지 않기 때문에 나를 설명해 줄 수 있게 됩니다. 고대부터 이러한 생각을 했기에, 서양에서는 DNA 와 같은 어떤 절대적인 물질로 생명체를 설명하려고 하는 경향이 짙게 된 것입니다. 이러한 것은 당시의 윤회 사상이나 뭐 그런 것들이 섞여서 나올 수 있었던 것인데, 우리가 알아두어야 할 것은 어찌 되었간에 헤라클레이토스의 생각은 당시로서는 엄청난 반향 을 일으킨 것이라는 사실입니다.

Herakeitos is, relatively, not famous, and he is a really ancient person so I couldn't find better image than above. So, just understand me. :-) Even though, his thought is really a systemized one, so I can make one post just by his thought. However, in this post, I'm trying to explain about existence and eternality, so I will pick up his ideas particularly for this.

First of all, Herakleitos is absolutly lived in B.C. times. As we can see at the picture above, he looks like afraid, and he enjoyed to talk like oracle style. So many people didn't like him at that time too. Ohh. surprise ^^

The most famous saying from him is, "We can't put our foot in same river water twice." Right. Because, the water of one river is flowing thing, so even we put our foot in again in same river, that is not the same river's water . His basic idea was from "conflict", so he can take the notion of "Change" very easily. One notion can exist by counterpart one, so for his "Change" is go to other side from one side. Finally, He thought our world is always changeable, and all existences are cangeable things too.

Let's see one more thing. He thought everyting is changable thing, then can we call I am I even though the fact that infants will be an old man? This convoluted problem inturrupts us. About this, Herakleitos said that even our body is changed, we can call us as "us" because we have our own identity.We have some "same thing" despite of time. And that is, that same thing's name is an identity. Westerns thought like this from ancient times, so they tend to find our something absolute which can explain us, like DNA. But, what we all have to know is, his idea was such a sensation in his times.

2. 파르메니데스 - 존재는 불변이다.

그에 비해서 파르메니데스는 "존재는 불변이다" 라고 주장했던 철학자입니다. 파르메니데스가 중요한 이유는, 그의 주장은 분명히 그의 시대에서도 상식적으로 말이 안 되는 생각이었음에도 불구하고 논리적으로 완벽한 논증을 거쳤기 때문에 반박할 수가 없었다는 점입니다. 사실 현대 과학을 아는 우리가 보면 이 사람은 완전히 미친 사람으로 보입니다. 그가 했던 말 중에 감각에 관한 말이 있는데, "여러분을 홀리게 하는 눈과 파리처럼 앵앵거리는 귀를 믿지 말라" 고 하였습니다. 그는 감각을 완전히 배제하고 순수 사유로만 세상을 구성한 사람이거든요. 후에 소크라테스, 플라톤, 아리스토텔레스를 포함해서 토마스 아퀴나스 등의 중세 시대, 심지어 칸트 이전까지도 철학의 존재에 관한 일부 역사는 이 파르메니데스의 생각에 논리적으로 반박하기 위한 투쟁이었다고 말해도 과장이 아니랍니다.

그가 변화에 대해서 생각한 것은 "있는 것은 있고 없는 것은 없다" 라는 생각이 기본었습니다. 우리가 듣고 보고 만지는 것도 존재하는 것이지만, 정신, 사랑, 마음 같은 것들은 듣고 보고 만지는 것이 아니지만 분명히 존재하는 것입니다. 그러므로 존재한다는 것은 모든 특정한 것을 넘어서는 개념이므로 감각 불가능한 것도 존재를 한다고 생각할 수가 있는데, 파르메니데스에게 감각에 의한 변화라는 것은 믿을 수 없는 것이요, 증명할 수 없는 "없는 것" 이었으므로 "존재는 불변하는 것이다" 라는 생각이 완성된 것입니다.(요 부분들은 어려운 부분입니다

ㅋㅋ 이해해기 어려울 수도 있습니다 ㅋㅋㅠㅠ 젠장 너무 어려워.. 파르메니데스는 좀 더 공부가 필요한 인물..ㅠㅠ 이 사람 이해하려면 논리적 사고와 논리학을 조금 공부해야 되염.. ㅠㅠ)

그에게 있어서 변화라는 것은 소멸에서 생성, 생성에서 소멸의 과정의 반복일 뿐 그 사이에는 어떤 것도 없는 것이었습니다. 왜?? 그 사이의 과정을 논리적으로 우리가 증명을 할 수 없기 때문입니다.

※ 여기서 중요한 점!! 당연히 지금 21세기의 현대 과학을 적용하면 아주아주 당연히 설명 할 수 있습니다!! 이 사람한테 빠져가지고 지금도 그렇지 않구나

하면 안 되는 거죠. 이 사람들이 사는 시대는 기원전 4

500 년 시대니까 과학이라는 건 생각도 하면 안 되는 시기잖아요? 나름의 생각으로 체계를 세운 것이 이렇다는 거지 현대 생물학, 의학 적용하면 절대 안 됩니다 ㅋㅋ 이 때로 돌아가서 생각하는 자세가 필요해요!!ㅋㅋ

그는 존재는 "하나" 이며 "공"과 같다 고 하여 질적 구분을 무시하고 빈 공간을 인정하지 않는 단계에까지 이르렀습니다. 그러니까 여러 개가 되는 것은 "질적으로 구분이 가능할 때" 일 뿐이라는 것입니다. 여기서 영어에서 말하는 Unit의 개념이 나오는데, 예를 들면 나 자체는 하나라고 할 수 있지만 내 머리, 내 팔, 내 다리는 어차피 나에게 포함되는 것이므로 하나라고 할 수 없다는 말입니다.

그럼 물방울들의 경우는 어떨까요? 두 물방울이 합쳐져서 한 물방울이 되는 현상을 파르메니데스는 기가 막히게 설명하였습니다. 공간이 생긴다면 두 개인데, 하나의 물방울이 되는 현상은 존재가 존재에 연이어 있는 현상일 뿐이라는 것입니다.(기가 막힌다 진짜 ㅋㅋ 말 진짜 잘해 ㅋㅋ) 앞서 헤라클레이토스는 세상을 "대립자" 로 보는 경향이 짙었는데, 그에 반해 파르메니데스는 세상을 "존재자" 로만 보는 경향이 있는 한계가 있긴 합니다.

Contrary to him, Parmenides was a philosopher who suggested "Exsistence is unchangible one, Eternerity." The reason why he is important is, his suggestion is out of our think, however even though that, his idea is quite logical so it made impossible refute his idea. Actually, maybe he might be seen as a crazy person with current science and knoweldges. Among his sayings, "Do not believe your eye and your ear." After him, not only Socrates, Plato, Aristotele, but also Aquinas and even Kant, in some respective, actually our philosophy's history was critics to Parmenides in logically.

What he thought about change is, "Is or Is not". This is his basic idea, and we bacame aware of the fact that all starts at here. For him, the change is just a phenomenon which move from exist to existinction or existinction to exist. This is because we cannot prove the process of change in logically.

※ Focus!! of course we can understand with these time's science and knowledges. The most important thing when we study ancient philosophy is, we have to think in their time's perspective. In that time, there were no science or knoweledges like these times. There were no electricity in that time. So, please understand it.

Parmenides said "Existence is just one and it looks like a balll." By say like this, he ignored distinguish by quality and do not agree to space. So, he thought that one thing should be distinguished only by quality. However, our head and arm, leg is our part, not one thing. So, he ignored the distinguish by quuality.

Then how about waterdrops? Two waterdrops can be one waterdrop when they meet. He said that, two things mean they have a space, but this phenomenon is not like this. So to speak, being one waterdrop is just one thing with another thing.(There are no space between them, so it can be one) 

  헤라클레이토스는 상당히 실제적인 관점에서 생각을 했고, 파르메니데스는 논리적인 관점에서 생각을 했습니다. 이들은 대부분은 상반되는 관점에서 존재와 불변이라는 개념을 보았지만, 어떻든 감각을 그렇게까지 믿지 않았다는 점과, 서양 사람들의 특징인 어떤 '불변하는 것' 에서부터 존재라는 것을 설명하려고 했다는 시도는 같습니다. 어떤 것이 맞다 이런 것은 별로 무의미한 것 같습니다. 사람들이 살아가는 방식과 생각이 모두 다르듯, 이러한 철학도 꼭 어떤 답이 정해져 있는 것은 아니라고 생각하기 때문입니다. 하지만 헤라클레이토스의 관점에서는 좀 더 역동적으로 해석을 할 수 있고, 파르메니데스의 관점에서는 좀 더 칼같이 따지고 들 수 있는 장점들이 있지요. 반면에 이 둘은 위에서 언급했던 단점들도 가지고 있는 것이 사실입니다. 어떤 것이 존재하는 것이고 어떤 것이 불변하는 것인지는, 다양한 해석이 가능하겠지요? 오늘 포스팅은.. 여기서 마치겠습니다 이것도 이틀 걸려서 만든 거라서.. ㅋㅋ 어려븜. ㅠㅠ ㅋㅋㅋㅋ 다음 철학 포스팅에서는 사진도 더 많이 쓰고 할게요


Anaxagoras

Anaxagoras, who was born in Clazomenae, Asia Minor, around 500 B.C., spent most of his life in Athens, where he made a place for philosophy and associated with Euripides (writer of tragedies) and Pericles (Athenian statesman). In 430, Anaxagoras was brought to trial for impiety in Athens because his philosophy denied the divinity of all other gods but his principle, the mind.


Ancient History

In the year 429 Athens was still recovering from the recent plague of the year before. Meanwhile Sparta and her allies having ravaged the territory of Attica for two years and finding that it had no apparent effect on the Athenians, were perhaps looking for a change in tactics.

The land army of Archidamus marched up towards Attica, but instead of attacking Attica, they continued northwards into Boeotia where they besieged the city of Plataea. This was a bitter siege for all concerned, as Plataea had been the site of the great land victory of the Greeks over the Persians during the Persian Wars, in which Sparta had been the leader of the Greek cities and in which the Plataeans had behaved so courageously. Despite this shared history, after some negotiation, the Plataeans were nevertheless besieged.

Siege warfare was not well-understood in Greece at this time and neither the Spartans nor their Theban allies were expert in it. The Spartans did attempt some form of a siege ramp, but the Plataean garrison successfully countermined it. The Spartans then tried to kindle a large fire next to the walls and hoped that the sparks would ignite the city. It might have worked, but the wind was against them. As Plataea was only held by a garrison force anyway, even this might not have had much effect even if it had been successful. After the failure of the ramp and the fire, the Spartans made a wall around the city and attempted to starve out the small garrison.

Ruins in Sparta
The Athenians had sent a force by sea to attack Chalcis on the northern coast of the Aegean. This was a relatively large force by the standards of Athenian expeditions and had 2000 hoplites and 200 cavalry. They had some initial success against the cities of Chalcis, Spartolus and Olynthus, but were actually defeated by the lighter cavalry of the Chalcidians, who were able to throw javelins at the heavy infantry with impunity. The Athenians were defeated and forced to retreat to Potidaea. The casualties were heavy, as their retreating hoplites had been mauled by the cavalry.

Greek warfare was changing during this period. Previously the hoplites had been seen as almost invincible in warfare. In certain circumstances this was true. Thermopylae, Plataea, Mycale, Eurymedon and a host of other battles had proved that in a head-on collision, heavily armed hoplites would mangle lighter infantry in front of them. But what would happen if, while the heavy forces were engaged, the hoplites were attacked by lighter troops who could shower the heavy infantry with javelins and arrows? What about on flat plains where cavalry could circle around behind the phalanx and charge them in the rear?

Modern reconstruction of a trireme
The period of the Peloponnesian War saw many states beginning to use lighter-armed troops to support their hoplites and to harass the enemy. Cavalry, never a Greek strongpoint, would become more important. Archers, particularly from Crete, and slingers, particularly from Rhodes, were given greater prominence. The Athenian defeat near Chalcis was to be a sign of things to come.

Around this time, although the dates are somewhat unclear, Tharrhypas became king of the Molossians, a Greek tribe in Epirus on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. He may have been king previously, but was still a minor at this time. Admetus had been king of this tribe about fifty years earlier but there was probably an intervening king who is not known. The tribe would go on to be of significance in Greek history in later centuries.

To the west of Greece, just to the north of the Corinthian Gulf lay the lands of the Acarnanians, who were in alliance with the Athenians and the Messenians who had been settled by the Athenians at Naupactus. The Ambraciots, inland neighbours of the Acarnanians, were threatening an invasion of Acarnania with Spartan assistance. The Athenian navy was primarily engaged in the expedition to Chalcis and operations elsewhere and the Athenians had only a small force guarding Naupactus. The Spartans and their allies were meanwhile preparing a naval force to strike at Naupactus, so the Athenian garrison could give no assistance to the Acarnanians.

Athenian tetradrachm
The Ambraciots invaded, with some small Spartan assistance, but the Acarnanians beat them back by routing some of their non-Greek allies. The invaders then were harassed in their camp by the Acarnanians slinging a hail of stones down upon them, forcing the invaders to continually don their armour if they didn't want to be killed by sling stones. The Spartans and their allies retreated, finding the invasion tougher than anticipated. This was once more a demonstration of the usefulness of lighter troops against hoplite troops.

Meanwhile the Spartans and their allies had been sending naval reinforcements past the Athenian base at Naupactus. The Athenians had only 20 ships there, under the command of Phormio, while the Peloponnesians had 47 ships and some transport ships. The Spartans had not really understood that commanding at sea required different skills to commanding on land, and didn't realise how dangerous the Athenians really were at sea.

Phormio ambushed the Spartans as they sailed through the Gulf of Corinth. The Spartans, not wanting to leave anything to chance, took up a defensive position, putting their ships in a circular formation, with the rams of the triremes outwards and their transport ships in the centre. The Athenians must have rejoiced to see such foolishness and moved to the attack. Phormio ordered his triremes to circle the Spartan fleet at speed, like a pack of wolves racing around a flock of sheep. Where they spotted a weakness in the line they would lunge inwards, forcing the Spartans to tighten the circle until the ships were nearly touching.

Phormio knew the winds of the gulf and knew that the wind would change at a certain hour, which would foul the lines and oars of the Spartan ships and leave them in confusion. As the winds changed, the Athenians attacked, routing the Peloponnesians and capturing twelve ships. This was a victory known as the Battle of Rhium.

Vase by Aison Painter
Phormio knew that he was outnumbered by the Peloponnesian fleets based at Cyllene and Corinth and that if Naupactus was to be held, the Athenians would have to send reinforcements. 20 additional ships were sent out, but went on a detour to attack Cydonia in Crete.

Meanwhile the regathered Peloponnesian fleet moved against Phormio once more, this time threatening Naupactus itself. Phormio had perhaps 20 ships available to him, as he probably had insufficient crews to man the captured ships from the previous battle. The Peloponnesians, under the command of Cnemus and Brasidas had 77 ships. The Spartans and their allies were concerned about facing the Athenians, whom they now feared on the seas.

After some time the Spartans decided to attack and force the Athenians to defend their port in the narrow waters where they could not use their superior manoeuvrability. Phormio was outnumbered nearly 4:1 and his troops fought as well as they could, but were beaten back, losing 9 ships. It looked as if the Athenians were completely defeated when an Athenian trireme did a daring about turn using an anchored merchant ship to cover its flanks, and rammed one of the pursuing Spartan triremes. The Athenians then turned to the attack and the Spartan navy, which was broken its order in the pursuit, was routed. The Athenians recaptured 8 of their own triremes and captured another 6 of the Peloponnesians. It was a stunning victory and definite proof that the Athenians could dominate the seas even when grossly outnumbered. Naupactus was saved for Athens.

Athenian dominance at sea was not entirely unquestioned however. The defeated Spartan commander Brasidas, who had already made a name for himself with his daring, decided to attack the unguarded Piraeus. The Corinthians and others made an attack, but did not dare to sail to the Piraeus, instead attacking Salamis. The Athenians were alerted to the danger by fire signals and launched a counterattack the next day, forcing the Peloponnesians to retreat at speed. After this near miss, the Athenians resolved to defend the Piraeus much more thoroughly.

Coin of Perdiccas II, king of Macedon
Meanwhile to the north, Sitalces, King of the Odrysian Thracians, made a large expedition with all his forces against Perdiccas II of Macedonia, who had left the Athenian alliance and joined the Spartans. The Thracian invasion was to assist the Athenians in their wars in Chalcis, as well as overthrowing Perdiccas. However, the expected Athenian support never came and the Thracians were even worse at siege warfare than the Greeks. The result of the great expedition of Sitalces was that his army ran short on provisions, after which he made a peace treaty with Perdiccas, and then went home.

Later that year Phormio made some expeditions to Acarnania to strengthen the Athenian allies there, before returning to Naupactus. It might be wondered why the Athenians were not more active this year. Why was the Piraeus left unguarded? Why were so few reinforcements sent out to Phormio? Why was the expedition of Sitalces not properly supported by the Athenian fleet?

I suspect that the reason was lack of manpower and lack of leadership. The plague had returned once more to Athens. Presumably less people died of it in this year than in the year previous and presumably the Athenians were somewhat inured to its horrors, but it must still have been a terrible blow and thousands, probably tens of thousands, must have died.

The legitimate sons of Pericles, Paralus and Xanthippus, died, as did the sister of Pericles. It is said that the Athenian people voted to allow Pericles's son by his mistress Aspasia, named Pericles the Younger, to become an Athenian citizen. This was an honour for the grieving father, but also a slight rebuke. Had Pericles not changed the laws of citizenship in previous years, his son would have been a citizen anyway. Nevertheless the people of Athens were kind to the first citizen.

Replica of a model of a trireme
It was probably during the autumn of this year that Pericles, the great statesman of democratic Athens who had led the Athenian state for the previous decades, died. With his death the relative harmony in Athenian politics came to an end and the state became split between rival factions, led by Cleon and Nicias.

Around this time Stesimbrotus of Thasos flourished. He was a logographer and sophist who wrote some historical and poetic writings, as well as propaganda pamphlets. His work was later used by other historians such as Plutarch, but it is not clear that any of his works themselves survive.

In the year 428 the Spartans and their allies marched into Attica and devastated the farmland once more. They had also kept a force besieging Plataea throughout the year. The Spartans were more willing to attack Attica again as the plague outbreak in Athens seemed to have ended at this time.

The city of Mytilene then revolted against Athens. They had been planning a revolt for some time, but had wanted to first unify the whole island of Lesbos. The Mytileneans had ancestral connections with Thebes and were apparently now in secret alliance with Thebes. They had begun to lay in great stores of grain and supplies and to hire mercenaries and other preparations for war. The other Lesbian cities informed the Athenians that a revolt was imminent.

Detail from the temple of
Athena Nike
The Athenians debated this in the Assembly and it was decided to send a force to take control of Mytilene during a religious festival, when the people would be outside the city at Malea and the Athenians could then negotiate from a position of strength. The Athenians sent out 40 ships to restrain Mytilene if necessary. But as the Assembly was ending, a sympathiser of Mytilene had already made haste away from the city and onto a ship to inform the rebels of the Athenian plan. This was one great disadvantage of the Athenian Assembly it was very difficult to keep intentions secret.

Finding their revolt detected the rebels were not caught outside the wall. When the 40 ships arrived the people of Mytilene first tried to break past the Athenian fleet, who quickly quashed the attempt. They then made an armistice with the Athenians and sent an embassy to Athens to plead their case, while also sending emissaries to Sparta to slip past the Athenian blockade. After the Mytilenean embassy to Athens had failed to achieve its purpose, the Athenians besieged the city in earnest. This was no easy task, as the city of Mytilene was a strong one, and one of the few remaining members of the Athenian Empire who had their own navy. A Spartan mission eluded the Athenian blockade and entered the city, asking the besieged city to send a mission to Olympia, where the Peloponnesian League would meet around the time of the Olympic Games.

The Olympic Games were held this year. Symmachos of Sicilian Messene won the stadion race. Alexandros of Sparta owned the horses that won the tethrippon chariot race. Dorieus of Rhodes won the pancration competition. He was the son of the famous boxer Diagoras of Rhodes and this was his second Olympic victory.

After the Olympic Games the Peloponnesian League met nearby. The representatives of Mytilene made their case, pleading for aid to the states of the Peloponnesian League. It was decided that the members of the League would send a large army to attack the Athenians once again, as well as moving their entire navy to the Aegean side of the Isthmus and to threaten to attack Athens by land and sea. The emissaries of Mytilene had said that Athens was weakened by the plague and the revolt and could not resist a combined attack. The words of this debate made their way to the Athenians.

Kylix painted by Aison Painter, showing Theseus slaying
the Minotaur
The Peloponnesian League were at the edge of their military capability themselves. They had already mounted a military expedition against Attica that summer and were engaged in the siege of Plataea. They were not anxious for more operations.

The Athenians, aware of their own weakness and the impending attack, made an emergency appeal to the people, and enrolled nearly every remaining eligible male in the city in order to bring together a fleet of 100 triremes that would attack the Peloponnesian coast, while the siege of Mytilene continued, and the contingent of 30 ships that had been attacking the Peloponnese elsewhere continued to attack, even venturing near to Sparta itself. Thucydides mentions that even after the plague, the Athenians had 250 ships at sea on campaign at this time. This sign of Athenian strength dissuaded the Spartans from mounting another direct attack on Athens. They continued mustering a relief fleet however.

The people of Mytilene attempted to break the siege and managed to break out. They broke the siege on the landward side and came close to holding the whole island of Lesbos. Athens sent a relief force to their army, commanded by Paches and with 1000 hoplites, who beat back the people of Mytilene and built a wall around their city. Later that year, during the winter when sailing was dangerous, a Spartan managed to make it through the Athenian blockade and told the city of Mytilene that a Spartan relief force was on its way.

Athenian tetradrachm
The financial demands of the war were so great that the Athenians had to levy a tax on their own people, which was very unusual in the Greek world, as most revenues were from customs duties and state assets such as mines. They also asked for additional tribute from their allies, which provoked much resistance among their subject cities. One of their generals was in fact killed in Caria while attempting to collect the tribute.

The Plataeans and the Athenians garrisoned at Plataea tried to break the Spartan siege that winter, waiting until the dark of the moon and then launching a daring sortie at night during wind and rain. They were attempting to break out and escape to Athens. As soon as the besiegers were aware of the sortie they sent fire signals to Thebes to request more troops, but the Plataeans also made fire signals from the walls, garbling the communications. The escapees crossed the wall and made off into the night, fleeing towards the city of Thebes to confuse their pursuers, before doubling round and making their way to Athens by a circuitous route. Thucydides reports that 212 made it out, around half the garrison.

Around this time the Spartans obeyed a command of the Oracle of Delphi and took back the Agiad king Pleistonax, who had been exiled at the end of the First Peloponnesian War. The Pythia had ordered that the king was to be taken back as king, but there were many who believed that the Pythia of Apollo had been bribed and that her command came not from Apollo, but from Pleistonax himself. Pleistonax thus became king again, but remained unpopular and every time something went wrong, Pleistonax was blamed.

Death of Hippolytus, Lawrence Alma-Tadema, AD1860
In this year Euripides won the tragedy prize at the Great Dionysia festival in Athens. One of the plays he put forward this year was the tragedy Hippolytus. This is a play where Hippolytus, a devoted follower of the virgin goddess Artemis, has lived a chaste lifestyle, which would have been seen as strange in Greece. Aphrodite, goddess of love, is angered that Hippolytus has spurned her gifts and designs to punish him. To punish him, Aphrodite makes his step mother Phaedra fall in love with him. Hippolytus spurns her too, but Phaedra complains to Theseus, his father, that Hippolytus has tried to rape her. Theseus calls down the curse of his father Poseidon upon his innocent son and Poseidon sends a sea monster to crush Hippolytus as he rides his chariot along the beach. The deception is finally uncovered and Theseus is upbraided by Artemis for killing his innocent son.

I have always found this tragedy to be an exploration of the difficulty of having a polytheistic worldview, where justified devotion to one god might lead to justified enmity from another god. Hippolytus is excessive in his devotion to Artemis, but she does not discourage such worship either. Athenian society was a devout and conservative one, but also one that questioned the old stories and tried to probe the morality of the behaviour of the gods. The play Hippolytus is part of this probing tradition into the philosophy of polytheism.

It is said that Anaxagoras died around this time in his native Lampsacus. He had been exiled from Athens for his political connections to Pericles and his speculations that the sun was not a god, but rather a blazing rock at least as big as the Peloponnese. The dates of his death are not clear however.

In the year 427 the Spartans, under the command of a general named Cleomenes (King Archidamus was possibly quite sick at this time), invaded Attica once more and devastated the farmlands and the countryside. The Athenian cavalry, such as it was, attempted to harass the Spartans, and disrupt their raiding, but this was merely an annoyance to the Spartans, who continued to burn and pillage as they would. Attica must have become quite desolate, as the land had been raided for years on end.

Funeral stele from Rhodes
Meanwhile a Spartan-led fleet of 42 ships, commanded by a general named Alcidas, sailed towards Mytilene to try and break the Athenian siege there. The Spartans sailed very slowly and cautiously, perhaps fearing the consequences of a naval defeat here and remembering their defeat at Naupactus.

The Spartans were so slow with their fleet that the leader of the revolt, Salaethus, a Spartan who seems to have been commanding the revolt, decided to try and defeat the Athenians in a surprise sally. With the food supplies running low, this was their last hope. The people were issued with hoplite armour in preparation for this attack, but instead they turned against Salaethus, refused to attack, demanded food and threatened to make a peace with the Athenians. Salaethus seems to have escaped the city and the oligarchs realised that the rebellion was over. They surrendered the city to the Athenian general Paches, on the condition that there would be no immediate reprisals, but that the fate of the city would rest with the Athenian assembly.

Meanwhile the Spartan fleet under Alcidas had arrived in the region, only to find that Mytilene had surrendered. They sailed to Ephesus after having massacred some of their prisoners taken from the Athenian allies along the way. Rather than taking any action, Alcidas swiftly retreated back across the Aegean to the relative safety of the Peloponnese. Once Paches heard that the Spartans had dared to sail into Ionian waters he gave chase with his fleet, but was unable to catch Alcidas. Alcidas was criticised for cowardice, but a retreat was probably the right option here. Paches continued operations in the region, attacking and taking Pyrrha, Eresus and Colophon. After this he dispatched the ringleaders of the rebellion to Athens, including the captured Salaethus and awaited instructions as to the fate of the conquered city.

The Athenians seem to have executed Salaethus straightaway in their anger. They now had to decide what was to be done with the people of Mytilene, who had betrayed them and forced them to fight a costly and difficult war. The anger ran high and it was decided that the full adult male population was to be killed and the women and children sold into slavery. This was a harsh decision the obliteration of a people. We would see this as genocide now. A ship was dispatched to Paches to inform him of the decision.

Modern reconstruction of a trireme
The next day the Athenians began to feel that this was too harsh. Punishment was certainly required, but utter destruction was not. The Assembly was called to debate the motion once more. Thucydides records the second debate, known in literature as the Mytilenean Debate. Cleon, a demagogue hated by Thucydides, led the side of the prosecution, arguing for the harsh penalty. Cleon was noted for his hawk-like stance on war related matters. The case for a lesser penalty was argued by an otherwise unknown person named Diodotus. It is hard to know how faithful Thucydides' account is. I would suggest that the speech of Cleon at least is much nastier than what was actually said. Cleon seems to have been an unpleasant character, but unpleasant characters do not necessarily say unpleasant things. It is usually more dangerous when they do not.

Punish them as they deserve, and teach your other allies by a striking example that the penalty of rebellion is death. Let them once understand this and you will not have so often to neglect your enemies while you are fighting with your own confederates.
Cleon's speech in favour of the execution or enslavement of every person in Mytilene, Thucydides, Peloponnesian War, Book 3, written circa 400BC

Eventually the Athenians decided in favour of mercy and dispatched another ship to carry the new instructions to Paches. The crew of this second ship were urged to push themselves to the utmost and to make haste, to make sure they arrived before the ship that had sailed the day previously. By a great effort they nearly managed to make up the time. Thucydides records that they made it to Lesbos while Paches was reading the execution order and telling his soldiers to bring out the captives for execution. There were still heavy penalties and around 1000 oligarchs were executed, but it was not a general massacre.

The Athenians under the command of Nicias attacked an island near Megara and captured it, partly to use a base to prevent the Spartans using the port of Megara at all. This being done the Piraeus was much safer than it would otherwise be, as there was less chance of raiders slipping past unobserved.

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Vase by Dinos Painter
Also in that summer, the Plataeans were forced to surrender. There were only around 225 left in the garrison, but even so they had been starved out. The Spartans offered the defenders what appeared to be fair surrender terms, saying that none would be put to death without trial. This was accepted, but the end result of the trial was that practically the entire garrison was executed and the women who had served as cooks and such like were taken as slaves. The Thebans settled the city with their own people, but about a year later they destroyed the entire city and placed a large temple precinct on the site (meaning it would be a sacrilege to resettle the city). Plataea would later be resettled in a fashion however.

It seems that around this time that King Archidamus II of Sparta died. He was succeeded by Agis II as the Eurypontid king of Sparta.

Meanwhile, Corcyra, one of the states which had helped provoke the war and which had been entirely useless to Athens, proceeded to be even more useless by having an outbreak of civil war. The oligarchs accused Peithias, who was the leader of the democratic faction, of treason. He in turn won his case and brought a retaliatory measure against his enemies. They faced ruin and stabbed Peithias to death. The city then exploded into civil war.

The Athenians were elsewhere engaged and the Spartan fleet under Alcidas united with another naval force led by Brasidas. The Spartans sailed to Corcyra, trying to exploit the weakness of the war-stricken city. They attacked with 53 ships. The Corcyraeans went against them with 60 ships, which attacked in a piecemeal and haphazard fashion. The Athenians meanwhile, who only had 12 ships in the region, proceeded to join battle in an orderly fashion.

The Spartans had divided their fleet half to face the Athenians and half to face the Corcyraeans. Despite being outnumbered, the Spartans routed the disorganised Corcyraeans. Meanwhile, despite being outnumbered the Athenians began to toy with their Spartan opponents and threatened to destroy them with their circular sailing manoeuvre. This scared the Spartans so much that they sent their entire fleet against the Athenians, 53 ships against 12. Such was the skill of the Athenians that they extricated themselves, retreating coolly in good order, sailing backwards with the prows facing the enemy ready to change direction and ram at a moment's notice. This bought time for the Corcyraeans to retreat. The skill of the Athenian navy must have been a wonder to behold.

Modern reconstruction of trireme
The Spartans retreated, fearful of being caught in these waters lest the Corcyraeans finish their civil war and remember how to fight sea battles again. The Corcyraean populace murdered many of the oligarchic party and settled scores in the most brutal fashion. Some oligarchic exiles escaped and carried on the war from a nearby mountain.

Thucydides records this as the first of the civil wars between the commoners and aristocracy that were to occur in nearly every Greek state during the war, as each party saw the chance to appeal to either Athens or Sparta (or both) for aid in destroying their rivals.

To put an end to this, there was neither promise to be depended upon, nor oath that could command respect but all parties dwelling rather in their calculation upon the hopelessness of a permanent state of things, were more intent upon self-defence than capable of confidence. In this contest the blunter wits were most successful.
Thucydides, Peloponnesian War, Book 3, written circa 400BC

While this chaos was raging in Corcyra, war had broken out in Sicily between Syracuse and Leontini. Syracuse was one of the most powerful cities in the Greek world and Leontini was outmatched and lacking allies. As an Ionian city, they appealed to the Athenians for aid, sending Gorgias, who was a sophist famed for his rhetorical ability, to Athens to plead for an alliance. Athens sent 20 ships to Sicily under the command of Laches (no relation to Paches) and Charoeades, with Charoeades in overall command. The city of Rhegium was also allied to Leontini and provided another 30 ships. They attacked some islands off Sicily, but did not do much else that year.

That winter, the plague returned to Athens, with much loss of life. It is hard to know how Athens managed to maintain fleets in so many different areas while taking such casualties at home. Perhaps it was safer to send the fleets abroad for long periods of time, as it would reduce overcrowding and squalor in the city. But the plague had now killed far more than had been killed by the war, while barely affecting the Spartans at all. This drain on Athenian manpower and morale must have sapped Athenian strength from within. Finally, it seems that there were numerous earthquakes in Greece at this time, most particularly around Athens, Euboea and Boeotia.

Modern production of Oedipus the King
In this year Philocles won the Tragedy competition at the Great Dionysia Festival. Philocles was related by blood and marriage to great Athenians of previous generations, such as Aeschylus and war heroes such as Cynaegirus and Ameinias, who had fought at Marathon and Salamis. Almost nothing of his works survive, but later sources do list the names of his plays. He must have been a playwright of some note, because his plays this year won the prize over the plays of Sophocles, which included Oedipus the King.

Oedipus the King, which in Greek was written as Oedipus Tyrannus (not Oedipus Basileus, which might have made more sense), is also known today under the anachronistic title Oedipus Rex, which uses the Latin word for king. It is possibly the greatest of the tragedies that have come down to us.

The play begins with Oedipus as king of Thebes, which is suffering from a terrible plague. To end the plague, Oedipus is determined to discover the crime that has led to this punishment from the gods. The blind oracle Tiresias prophesies that it is a punishment for the murder of the previous king Laius. Once the murderer is found, the city will be free from plague. Oedipus decides to solve the mystery, before quarrelling with Tiresias. Through a series of dramatic revelations it becomes clear that Oedipus was not only the murderer of the previous king, but also unknowingly his son. To compound this crime, he had unwittingly married the dead king's wife, his own mother, and fathered children with his mother. His wife and mother hangs herself in anguish at this discovery, while Oedipus, heartbroken at what his investigations have revealed, stabs out his own eyes. The tragic king appears to the audience at the end as a pitiful ruin, awaiting exile and wandering as a fugitive upon the earth.

Modern production of Oedipus the King
This is a true Greek tragedy in every sense of the word. The hero is a brilliant man, yet a heroic flaw within his own character, in this case his own sense of daring and adventure, and his insatiable desire for knowledge, destroy him. There is also the inscrutable role of the gods. This play is an exploration of the role of free will and fate, and to what extent even the gods or oracles control these.

The social implications of a play that opens with a plague, set in Athens, which was between the outbreaks of plague, may have made it unpopular with the listeners. There would doubtless have been a part of society that believed the plague was a curse from the gods against Athens. There was also a section of society that believed it was a purely physical phenomenon. The play gives a clearly divine origin to plague, while also implying that this was a curse brought on by ritual pollution. I suspect this was one of the reasons the contemporary Athenians did not give Sophocles the prize that year. Later critical opinion has been kinder to the play.

Citizens of my beloved Thebes! See now your great Oedipus! That famous man who knew the answers of great riddles. That man whose good fortune every man in Thebes envied! See now in what monstrous storm of misfortune he has fallen.
Sophocles, Oedipus Rex, written 427BC

Oedipus and the Sphinx, Francois Xavier Fabre,
circa AD1807
In this year a comic playwright named Aristophanes won the 2nd prize in the Comedy competition with his play Banqueters. The play has not survived however.

This is as good a time as any to mention the sophist Gorgias, as it was this year that he had led an embassy to Athens to ask their aid for his home city Leontini. He was a sophist, a person with a reputation for wisdom who taught students on a variety of subjects, but most particularly on public speaking. He wrote widely and was associated with the Sicilian school of rhetoric, later bringing many of the techniques of that school to mainland Greece. He leaves us with some writings, but not many. He is mentioned in later Greek writers, but most particularly in the writings of Plato, who even names a dialogue after him.

He was a man who seems to have been quite a pleasant conversationalist and to have lived a happy life. He avoided hard living and lived to a great age, in full possession of his faculties. He acquired great wealth and was well-liked by his contemporaries in the Greek world. He often spoke at the Panhellenic festivals, such as the Olympic or Pythian Games. He was quick-witted and famed for being able to speak extemporaneously on any subject. Much of what he actually said was probably generalisations or rhetorical tricks, but these were amusing to his audience and himself. He would occasionally propose a paradox or controversial statement and defend it publicly.

Later bust of Sophocles
One of these defences was known as On the Non-Existent, where Gorgias publicly proclaimed that nothing exists that even if it did, nothing could be known about it and that even if it could be known, this knowledge could never be shared or understood. This is a fairly obvious contradiction, and pretty clearly false. But this only makes the act of defending a hopeless position all the more admirable from a rhetorical perspective. Only a great speaker could make an obvious falsehood even remotely plausible.

In a world before the rules of logic were formulated, it might not even have been easy to spot the flaws in the argument. It was probably a demonstration piece of his rhetorical powers, but may also have been a veiled critique of Parmenides and the Eleatics.

This type of argument made many Athenians uneasy however, as it could be exploited in the Assembly or the law courts. It could make the Worse defeat the Better. It could persecute the innocent and allow the guilty to go free. Teaching people to speak well without teaching them to be good might become dangerous.

"On the Non-Existent" does not survive, but several other demonstration pieces to survive, notably Encomium of Helen, Defence of Palamedes and Epitaphios. The first two are broadly composed as defence arguments to clear two characters from the Homeric epics of any wrongdoing. The last was a sample funeral speech. Considering that the Athenians regularly had to defend themselves in court and that Pericles' Funeral Oration is among the most famous of speeches from the classical age, it is clear that Gorgias was demonstrating to potential pupils that he could teach them the ability to create these speeches.

Vase by Shuvalov Painter
Gorgias, along with other sophists such as Protagoras, later became known as the opponents of Socrates and the philosophers. The word "sophistry" has become an insulting term in the parlance of our times. But to the Athenians and other Greeks of this time the word had not yet become anathema and Gorgias probably saw himself as a wise man in the same tradition as Empedocles or Solon rather than someone who was an opponent of philosophy.

That Persuasion, when added to speech, can also make any impression it wishes on the soul
Gorgias, Fragments including Defence of Palamedes, written perhaps circa 427BC

Another sophist who we know was active in Attica at this time was Thrasymachus of Chalcedon. He was also concerned with rhetoric and would teach students to speak. Some fragments of his works are available to us, but he is primarily known as a character in Plato's Republic, where he gives a furious defence of the idea that justice is nothing more than the advantage of the stronger and that might makes right. There are indications that some people in Athens actually believed this. But it is also a position Plato strongly disagrees with, so Plato must be taken as a hostile witness to this and to sophistry in general. It is most uncertain that Thrasymachus, or anyone else, seriously believed this.

In the year 426 the Spartans invaded Attica once more under the command of the new Eurypontid king Agis II. However Thucydides records that they turned back because of earthquakes that occurred. These must have been viewed as a sign that the gods were angry and that no expedition should be risked, in case the anger was directed at the Spartans. Some towns were even hit by tidal waves. The occurrence of the tidal waves and the earthquakes was noted by Thucydides in his history, where he also seems to be the first writer to make the connection between earthquakes and tidal waves.

Vase by Pisticci Painter showing
Greek athletes
The cause, in my opinion, of this phenomenon must be sought in the earthquake. At the point where its shock has been the most violent, the sea is driven back and, suddenly recoiling with redoubled force, causes the inundation. Without an earthquake I do not see how such an accident could happen.
Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, Book 3, written circa 400BC

The Athenians sent 60 ships with 2000 hoplites to attack the island of Melos, the only Spartan colony in the Aegean. Nicias was in command of this expedition and he ravaged the island of Melos but failed to bring them to terms. He then took his ships back towards Attica, using his troops to land and harry the Boeotians. Nicias joined with the main Athenian land army and brought the Thebans and Tanagrans to battle at Tanagra. This had been the site of a narrow Athenian defeat in previous decades, but this time Nicias inflicted a defeat on the Boeotians, as well as raiding and destroying their crops.

The Spartans thought to strengthen their position in Greece by founding a new colony near the pass at Thermopylae, named Heraclea in Trachis. This would be close to Euboea, which was an Athenian-held island, and could also block one of the land routes into Thessaly. However, the Thessalians were so annoyed at its foundation that they continually harassed the new city, so that it played no real part in this war or any others, although its strategic position meant that every ruler passing through that region took care to attack it.

The Spartan retreat and the remission of the plague seem to have given the Athenians some respite from their ills. They could harvest their crops once more and, despite any damages from the earthquakes, could begin to rebuild their damaged houses in the countryside. Considering that they had exhausted many of their resources and had done no real damage to the Spartans, many Athenians must have felt that a more aggressive policy was needed. Among these were the general Demosthenes and the demagogue Cleon.

Demosthenes was sent with 30 ships to harass the Peloponnesian coast. His mission also included attacking the island of Leucas (modern Lefkada), on the route to Corcyra. He was aided in this by the Acarnanians who lived nearby on the mainland. However, the Messenians who lived at Naupactus suggested that the Aetolians who lived inland to the north of Naupactus could be easily conquered. Demosthenes was intrigued by this, as it might open up a route to attack Boeotia from the north.

The attack on Aetolia was a signal failure, with the Aetolians using lightly armed troops to surround the heavily armoured Athenians and pelt them with missiles. The Athenians held out for some time but were eventually forced to retreat, losing 120 of their best troops while accomplishing nothing. Demosthenes was so afraid of returning to Athens after this failure that he stayed at Naupactus.

The Athenian setback gave the Spartans an idea that they could attack and destroy the Acarnanians and more importantly, the city of Naupactus, by attacking it from the landward side. They sent a force of 3000 allied hoplites under the command of Eurylochus, which marched northwards and into the territory of the Locrians. Here they took hostages and then marched against Naupactus itself. Demosthenes, who realised that the town was not properly defended, persuaded the Acarnanians to help defend the town. Despite the fact the Acarnanians were displeased with the Athenians, they nevertheless came to their aid and the Spartans retreated.

Athenian Temple on the sacred
island of Delos
Later that year the Athenians purified Delos once more. In the previous century Peisistratus had removed all graves on Delos visible from the temples. In response to an oracular pronouncement from Delphi, the Athenians removed all graves from the island and banned anyone from dying or being born there (forcing them to go to the island just beside it if the inhabitants wanted to do either of these things). It is not clear what question the Athenians had asked the Oracle, but it was probably to do with trying to rid themselves of the pollution causing the plague. Upon doing this, the Athenians instituted the Delian Games as a festival for the Ionians.

Around this time, the Peloponnesians under Eurylochus were invited by the Ambraciots to join with them in attacking the Acarnanians. Alarmed at this coming invasion, the Acarnanians beseeched Demosthenes to leave Naupactus and help them in their defence. Demosthenes moved his army and navy there and prepared for battle. The Peloponnesians and Ambraciots outnumbered the Athenians and Acarnanians, so Demosthenes laid an ambush with some Acarnanian troops who knew the land well.

Eurylochus extended his line and began to envelop the Athenians and their allies when the ambush was sprung. The Acarnanians threw the opposing line into turmoil and Eurylochus was slain in the confusion. With his death the Peloponnesian line collapsed and the broken soldiers fled as best as they could to the nearby city of Olpae, where they had to ask for terms of peace to try and escape from the Acarnanians and Athenians. Demosthenes allowed the Mantineans and other Peloponnesians to escape, but killed any Ambraciots who tried to leave.

Vase by Pisticci Painter
Demosthenes followed up his victory by ambushing an Ambraciot relief force that was on its way. By putting the Messenians in front of the army (who could speak a dialect similar to the Ambraciot speech) Demosthenes surprised the Ambraciots reinforcements at night and hunted them down. Ambracia had lost over a thousand hoplites in two days of fighting. Thucydides notes that this was the heaviest proportional losses that any city had endured in the war in such a short space of time. Afterwards the Acarnanians offered peace to the Ambraciots, fearing that their neighbours would be destroyed utterly and fearing who would replace them.

Demosthenes had won a great victory at the Battle of Olpae and defeated the Peloponnesians on land, although the army of Eurylochus had not been a Spartan army, but rather an army of Spartan allies. The campaign in Acarnania had not been pivotal, as the region was somewhat peripheral to the war. But Demosthenes now felt himself back in favour and no longer hid in Naupactus.

Meanwhile the Athenians in Sicily made an attack on Himera, on the northern shore of Sicily. Laches had been sole commander of this force, as his co-general had died. Other generals were sent out and Athens promised to send more ships to the western theatre of war, to try and finish the Sicilian campaign as soon as possible.

During this year, the comic playwright Aristophanes wrote a play called "Babylonians". The play has not survived, but it must have been relatively controversial, as the hawkish Athenian politician Cleon took the playwright to court to accuse him of slandering the city. It may not have slandered the city, but it had certainly excoriated Cleon. I wish that this play had survived so that we could see what type of play could trigger the 5th-century BC version of McCarthyism.

Modern eruption at Mount Etna
In the spring of 425 a great eruption of Mount Etna poured forth great rivers of flame upon the land of Catana in Sicily. This was seen as quite a large eruption by the standards of Etna.

The Spartans invaded Attica under the command of King Agis II of Sparta. Here the Spartans did their usual tactic of ravaging the lands, but it is probable that the Athenians were no longer in great fear of what damage the Spartans could do, as these invasions had happened so many times before. The Spartans also sent 60 ships to attack Corcyra, which was now once again locked in civil war (or had never fully ceased to be at war for the previous two years).

The Athenians countered these moves by sending out ships to assist in Sicily and to aid Corcyra against the Spartans. The Athenian ships passing by the Peloponnese on their way towards Sicily and Corcyra were met by the Athenian general Demosthenes. He requested the ships to stop and help him fortify a headland at Pylos. The other generals, eager to begin their own missions, had no interest in doing this, remarking that if Demosthenes wanted to waste money fortifying deserted headlands there were plenty of rocky wastelands all around the Peloponnese. But a storm forced them to shelter near Pylos.

Demosthenes had made a bold choice to fortify Pylos. It had a harbour nearby and could thus be supplied by sea. It was also close to Messenia and was thus perfect to do what the Spartans feared most: stirring up a helot revolt. The other generals finally saw the brilliance of the move and the Athenians began to fortify the headland.

Vase by Dinos Painter
The move was a serious one, and after some initial disbelief and scepticism, the Spartans recalled their army from Attica after only invading for fifteen days. This alone was enough to justify Demosthenes' strategic choice. The 60 Peloponnesian ships attacking Corcyra were also recalled, so that Pylos could be attacked from both land and sea. The other generals had departed after the place was nearly fortified, leaving Demosthenes to achieve his goals with his own troops, depleted after the campaigns in Acarnania the previous year.

The troubles in Corcyra came to an end in a vicious massacre of the oligarchic party. The Athenians, who had sailed north from Pylos, leaving Demosthenes to fight there, had aided and abetted the massacre in a way that must have terrified the many oligarchic regimes around the Greek world.

With the 60 Peloponnesian ships arriving from Corcyra the Spartans now held naval superiority. The bay at Pylos has a long narrow island called Sphacteria blocking the front of it, leaving only two narrow inlets on either side of the island to enter the harbour. The Spartans knew that Athenian naval reinforcements were inevitable so they planned to block the inlets of the harbour with their own ships and to land heavy infantry on the island to stop the Athenians from landing there and carrying out any tricks.

Having carried out these precautions the Spartans attacked the headland of Pylos from land and sea. Brasidas, a distinguished Spartan commander, urged the Spartan allies to ram their ships aground in the efforts to make a landing. This might have worked, but Brasidas himself was knocked unconscious and the landings failed. Some of the ships were very likely damaged in this attack.

The northern part of the island of Sphacteria seen from Pylos
The Spartans were right to fear Athenian reinforcements, as soon a navy of around 50 ships arrived from nearby Zacynthus. Realising quickly that the Spartans had not blocked the inlets of the harbour as they should have, the Athenians, although technically outnumbered, pushed past the island of Sphacteria and began to sink and capture the Peloponnesian ships in the harbour. The Spartans realised how badly things had gone wrong for them and tried to defend their ships from the land. The Athenians now had control of the seas once more and now the Spartan hoplites on Sphacteria were cut off from hope of rescue.

The people who had been trapped on Sphacteria seem to have been very senior indeed. The Spartan government immediately came out to Pylos and realised the scope of the disaster. They asked for a truce and armistice, so that they could ask the Athenians for peace, with the caveat that the men on Sphacteria would not try to escape during this armistice, while the Athenians would see them fed. In surety for this allowance, the Athenians would send a Spartan delegation to Athens on one of their triremes, while the Spartans would hand over their remaining triremes to the Athenians for the duration of the truce.

The Spartans seem to have been truly desperate. Those on the island were dear to the Spartans. It is hard to see how important this was to them from a military point of view. A few hundred Spartans were trapped there surely, but all cities in the war had lost more men than this, and for less cause. The loss of a few hundred men would barely dent Spartan power.

Why were they so obsessed with getting back these troops? There is no fully satisfactory answer for why these people were seen as so important. It is probable that a high percentage of these were Spartiates, the full Spartan class of soldiers and the core of the Spartan state. It is possible that at this point Spartiate numbers were beginning to dwindle, so that the men trapped on Sphacteria may have actually comprised perhaps up to a tenth of the state, but this would imply that the Spartiate numbers had fallen to a third or a quarter of what they had been in the earlier part of the century. Whatever the reason, they were important enough that Sparta offered to end the war entirely if these men could be returned.

Unfinished Doric temple in Segesta
The Spartans sent their emissaries to the Assembly in Athens, offering to end the war immediately and on favourable terms. Cleon, a popular demagogue in the Assembly, argued against this, demanding that Sparta make real concessions, some of which would involve abandoning their allies. The Spartans, knowing that all the discussions of the Assembly were in public, could not negotiate such terms even in principle. They asked for a private discussion and Cleon refused. Thus the Spartan plea for peace was rejected by the confident Athenian assembly, who by now must have been delighted with this new Spartan humility. For the first time in the war, the Athenians were clearly winning.

When the envoys returned to Pylos to say that there would be no peace, the battle continued. The Athenians alleged that the Spartans had broken the truce and refused to give back the ships. They laid siege to the island of Sphacteria, hoping to starve out the defenders and make them prisoners. The Spartans countered by offering freedom to any helot who brought food to the island. This was done by swimming out or by risking the blockade at night. Enough food was brought in to keep the Spartans alive. The Athenians now risked serious problems if they carried on the siege into the winter months, as their blockading vessels would be at risk to storms, and without a blockade the Spartans could simply escape.

The Athenians debated in the Assembly what was to be done, as the siege dragged on. Cleon demanded that the generals attack. In this case, the elected general was Cleon's rival Nicias. Cleon taunted Nicias with cowardice and indecision. Nicias offered to resign his office and let Cleon command an attack if he really wanted to. Cleon realised that Nicias was being serious and tried to backtrack, but the Assembly enjoyed seeing the turnaround and forced Cleon to make good on his boasts. Once he realised there was no way out, Cleon doubled down on his boasting and promised to bring back the Spartans dead or alive.

Plan showing the Athenian attack on
Sphacteria
A fire had since broken out of Sphacteria, robbing the Spartans of any cover from missiles, and covering much of the island with ash. The Athenians, under the command of Demosthenes and Cleon, landed a large force of troops, both heavy and light, on the south of the island under the cover of darkness. When the Spartans realised the Athenians had landed in force, they tried to storm out and beat the Athenians back to their ships. But there were too few of them to make a proper phalanx and their heavy armour slowed them down so that they could not catch the lighter troops, while clouds of ash raised by the marching troops confused and disoriented them. They were hit with volleys of javelins and arrows. They retreated to a fortified area, but were then surrounded and outflanked by some Messenian troops. Trapped and baking in the heat, without food or water, the Spartans were prepared to die, when the Athenians offered to negotiate.

The Athenians were already masters of the approaches when Cleon and Demosthenes perceiving that, if the enemy gave way a single step further, they would be destroyed by their soldiery, put a stop to the battle and held their men back wishing to take the Lacedaemonians alive to Athens, and hoping that their stubbornness might relax on hearing the offer of terms, and that they might surrender and yield to the present overwhelming danger. Proclamation was accordingly made, to know if they would surrender themselves and their arms to the Athenians to be dealt at their discretion.
Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, Book 4, written circa 400BC

The Spartans were allowed to send a messenger to the mainland, asking if they could surrender. The message came back to do what they needed to do, as long as it was not dishonourable. The Spartans then surrendered.

A Spartan shield captured at Pylos and preserved as a
trophy in Athens
This was a fantastic coup for the Athenians and for Cleon in particular. The Greek world was shocked that the Spartans had not fought to the death and it shattered the legend of Spartan invincibility. The Athenians now had high-status prisoners. Any future invasion of Attica would be answered with the execution of these prisoners. This had saved the farmlands of Attica from their yearly ravaging.

The Athenians now also had a valuable base at Pylos that was ideal for raiding Spartan lands and to which the helots could escape to, meaning that the Spartan agricultural system would be gradually denuded of the forced labour that made it work. With these knives at their throat, the Spartans began to send envoys to Athens asking them for peace. But now that they were winning, the Athenians were in no mood to negotiate.

The Athenians shortly afterwards made an attack against Corinth, winning a small victory, before sailing southwards to Methana, walling off another isthmus and giving themselves a base on the eastern side of the Peloponnese. They also used their base at Naupactus to harry the Corinthians on the far side of Greece. Later that winter, fearing revolution in Chios, they asked the Chians to tear down their walls, which the Chians eventually complied with.

In their desperation it seems that the Spartans were beginning to negotiate with Artaxerxes, King of Persia. The Athenians captured a Persian envoy en route to Sparta and took him to Athens, where his cuneiform dispatches were translated, before the envoy was returned safely to the Ionian coast. Athens was rightly wary of beginning another war with the Great King in the midst of their current war. Apparently the Spartan envoys sent to Persia all contradicted each other and the King had requested genuine envoys who could truly speak for Sparta. It is an illuminating episode however, as it shows that there were people in Athens who could read cuneiform (probably in Akkadian).

Ruined sanctuary of Menelaus and Helen in Sparta
Around this time Euripides wrote the play Andromache. This play has survived and describes the hard life of Andromache, widow of the slain Hector of the shining helmet, as she is a slave in the household of the Spartan king Menelaus. The play would have resonated with the Athenians during the war, as many of them must have known relatives who had been captured or sold into slavery during wartime, while many of the audience would also have captive slaves themselves from the war. As hatred towards the Spartans had grown, Euripides portrays Menelaus as a vicious tyrant in the play.

While the dating of Andromache is uncertain, it is certain that the comic playwright Aristophanes won the first prize at the Lenaia Festival with his play Acharnians. This was a comic portrayal of one citizen's frustration with the war. It has the hero form his own private peace with the Spartans while laughing at the follies and stupidity of the various frauds and conmen who seem to do so well in the Assembly. He is opposed by a chorus of Acharnians, tough old farmers from the Attic district of Acharnia, famed for its fighters and targeted especially by the invading Spartans.

Unfinished Doric temple in Segesta
The hero blames the entire war on the abduction of Aspasia's prostitutes, sets up his own private market where he sells a visiting Boeotian a commodity rare in Boeotia a genuine Athenian sycophant. It ends with the hawkish general Lamachus returning bruised and beaten from the wars, while the hero returns happy from a drinking party with a girl on each arm. It is the first Comic play to survive from the ancient world and, while humour does not always translate across cultures, it is quite funny in places. It also shows that, despite the sway that Cleon had in the Assembly, that there must have been many in Athens who longed for peace.

I remember now! This was a real delectation, this one! It gave my soul something to be really chirpy about. That was when our leader, Cleon had to vomit back the five talents shows the fingers on his hand again –count them – five talents, to the Treasury! Five talents –that's … let's see, six thousand drachmas to a talent… that makes… Oooooh, a lot! Hahaha! He had ripped off our allies by promising them that he could persuade our council to lower their taxes, so they gave him a neat little bribe of all these drachmas. But the Knights sniffed out the job and so they made him cough it all up again. Hahaha! What a beautiful job the Knights did on him! I love them for that! Men and deed, worthy of Greece!
Aristophanes, Acharnians, written 425BC

In art, Aison, the Dinos Painter, the Pisticci Painter and the Shuvalov Painter all flourished around this time. These were all Attic red-figure painters, who had workshops near the Kerameikos area of Athens and who produced high quality work. The Dinos Painter seems to have been influenced by a type of painting that would become more prominent in the next century, in that he used white paint to accentuate many details. This is sometimes referred to as the Rich Style. Some of the other painters eschewed this style however and continued with the previous style, using only red and black in their compositions.

Bust of Pericles, Roman copy
after an original by Kresilas
The sculptor Kresilas was active around this time. He created a number of famous sculptures, the most memorable of which is the famed bust of Pericles wearing a Corinthian helm. This has survived to us through Roman copies. It seems that he also was the sculptor who created the original Athena of Velletri type statue, which also survives as a Roman copy.

It had previously been thought that the Athena of Velletri was by the sculptor Alcamenes, who also flourished around this time. He had previously assisted Phidias with the decoration of the Parthenon, but was not a great sculptor in his own right. Some few Roman copies of his works are known, but his most famous works appear to be lost, or at least have not yet been identified.

Around this time Statue B of the Riace bronzes was made. This was recovered from the sea near Calabria, possibly from an ancient shipwreck. It is not clear who the statues are meant to represent, or who created them. However they were a fortunate find, as very few Greek bronzes have survived from the classical period.

It was around this time that Diogenes of Apollonia flourished. He was a philosopher who was active in Athens around this time. Like his contemporary Archelaus and his far-predecessor, Anaximenes, he believed that Air was the primary substance and at the root of all being. He was interested in physical processes, like Anaxagoras who had been active in Athens during previous decades. A few fragments of his works survive and he is quoted with some respect in the later works of Aristotle. He may perhaps have associated with a poor Athenian, known as Socrates, who was active in the debates in the city. He wrote about meteorites and blood vessels, among other things.

Statue B, Riace Bronzes
An anonymous political thinker from Athens was active around this time period. He is referred to as the Old Oligarch and he wrote a work on the constitution of Athens from the perspective of one of its opponents. It was preserved among the works of the later writer Xenophon, but it is universally acknowledged that Xenophon is not the writer of this piece. It is a reminder that many members of the educated classes were not enthusiastic about democracy in Athens.

It is also around this time that the historian Herodotus, the first to leave us a history book worthy of name, seems to have died. Despite the fact that in many ways Herodotus invented history, how, where, or when he died is not recorded. We all owe him a great debt however.

In the year 424 the Spartans did not invade Attica, as they feared the execution of the hostages from Sphacteria. Instead the Athenians, full of boldness and having taken bases for themselves to the north, east and west of the Peloponnese now took one to the south. Nicias led an army to take Cythera, an island lying to the south of the Peloponnese and dominating the approaches to Gythion, which was the port of Sparta, such as it was. The expedition was successful. The Athenians now began to harass the Spartan coasts from every angle, with the Spartans struggling to defend themselves.

In Sicily the Greek cities had been at war with each other, with Leontini having called in the Athenians to help defend against the more powerful Syracuse. Eventually though, the Sicilian Greeks began to be concerned with the ambition of Athens, particularly as it now seemed that they would soon be victorious against the Spartans. There was a council called at Gela with all states of Sicily invited to attend. Here it was decided among the cities that they would have a general peace and that the Athenians would be asked to leave, for fear of what they would do in the future.

Thus the Sicilian theatre of the Peloponnesian War came to an end for the time being. The Athenians felt that the general, Laches, had been too easy on the Sicilians and he was put on trial, accused of retreating after being bribed. The Syracusan speaker who put forward the proposal of the peace was Hermocrates, a prominent Syracusan who seems to have favoured an oligarchy.

Later Roman copy of the Athena Velletri
The Athenians do seem to have concluded a treaty of sorts with the western city of Segesta, which was continually in fear of being overrun by the nearby city of Selinus. It is around this time that the city of Segesta began work on a very magnificent temple in the Doric style. The temple was probably never finished, but the exterior was left untouched and remains mostly intact to this day.

The Athenians now seem to have wanted to make their position even more secure, by the conquest and fortification of Megara. This would have allowed them to make a very favourable peace. They could have released the hostages of Sphacteria for decent terms, while holding the fortified Isthmus as they had done in the previous war, preventing the Spartans from leaving the Peloponnese and protecting Attica.

However, here fortune seems to have turned against the Athenians. They may have overestimated their own skill and cleverness. The fortification of Pylos by Demosthenes was an excellent idea. However, the isolation and subsequent capture of the Spartans on the island had been mostly a matter of Spartan mistakes and blind chance rather than any cunning strategy of the Athenians.

The Athenians attacked Megara and were close to capturing it entirely. But before they could solidify their position, the Spartans counterattacked under Brasidas, who was leading a force northwards to take the Athenian colonies on the Thracian shore. Brasidas must have wanted to draw the Athenian navies away from the Peloponnese and he was in the right place at the right time to save the crucial city of Megara.

Statue B, Riace bronzes
The Athenians were undeterred, as they had now planned an even larger operation. Boeotia was dominated by Thebes, which was hostile to Athens and run by an oligarchy. As this time, most of the Greek world was now facing internal civic strife between what can be referred to as oligarchic and democratic parties. Thebes was no exception and the leaders of the democratic faction in Boeotia asked for Athenian aid in attacking Thebes.

A complicated plan was hatched by the confident Athenian generals. Demosthenes would attack Boeotia from the western coast, bringing troops from Naupactus. Hippocrates would lead an Athenian force to attack overland from the south to attack on the exact same day. Meanwhile there would be a general uprising of the democratic faction. It was not a bad plan and it would have knocked Thebes out of the war, perhaps even making it an ally of Athens.

As usually occurs with complicated plans that involve coordinated movements hundreds of miles apart with no communications, it went badly wrong. Demosthenes, for unknown reasons, but possibly because his plans were betrayed to the Thebans, moved too soon against the Boeotian coast. The democratic faction, now carefully watched, made no uprising. The Thebans and other Boeotian cities sent troops to repel Demosthenes. A few days later, having heard that Demosthenes had landed, Hippocrates marched north with a very hastily gathered army. Here he fortified the temple of Delium.

Roman copy of the bust of
Athena Velletri
Under the leadership of Pagondas, the Thebans marched out against the Athenians. The Theban phalanx was organised in an unusual fashion, with a line 25 men deep rather than the more customary 8 men deep. This is one of the first examples that we hear of tactical considerations in hoplite battles (Marathon might count as another, depending on how deliberate one believes Miltiades' tactics were). Whatever the outcome of this tactic of Pagondas, it clearly worked and the Athenians were routed.

To compound the danger for the Athenians, Pagondas had held a reserve of cavalry (never much use against a compact phalanx) to exploit the flight. They hunted down the Athenians, who had mostly thrown away their shields and were fleeing headlong. This greatly increased the Athenian casualties and turned the defeat into a disaster. Pagondas thus seems to have been one of the first generals recorded to have used a strategic reserve.

It is said that the Athenian philosopher Socrates was at this battle, but that he managed to survive the rout by coolly strutting away in full armour and without throwing away his shield. By making himself look quite in control of the situation, no Theban seems to have been interested in attacking him. He was accompanied in his retreat by Laches, an Athenian general who had previously been serving in Sicily, and Alcibiades, a young Athenian nobleman on horseback who helped cover their retreat.

The Athenians had suffered a tremendous defeat, easily their heaviest defeat of the war thus far. However, they still held their hastily fortified position at the temple of Delium itself. After receiving reinforcements from Corinth, the Thebans under Pagondas attacked the wooden section of the Athenian fortifications. They had constructed what appears to be something akin to a flamethrower which they used to ignite the wall and kill or rout the Athenian garrison. I find it astonishing that the first flamethrower seems to predate the first catapult. However, as fortifications were very seldom made of wood, this had limited uses.

Modern reconstruction of the Boeotian flamethrower
They sawed in two and scooped out a great beam from end to end, and fitting it nicely together again like a pipe, hung by chains a cauldron at one extremity, with which communicated an iron tube projecting from the beam, which was itself in great part plated with iron. This they brought up from a distance upon carts to the part of the wall principally composed of vines and timber, and when it was near, inserted huge bellows into their end of the beam and blew with them. The blast passing closely confined into the cauldron, which was filled with lighted coals, sulphur and pitch, made a great blaze, and set fire to the wall
Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War, Book 4, written circa 400BC

Around this time Sitalces, King of the Odrysian Kingdom in Thrace, died in battle against the Triballi. He was succeeded by his nephew, Seuthes I, who had previously brokered a truce between Perdiccas of Macedon and Sitalces.

Brasidas, who had been gathering an army to attack the Athenian subject cities on the northern shore of the Aegean, continued his march up through central Greece and Thessaly and with a surprise attack, to the shock of everyone, managed to seize the Athenian colony of Amphipolis. This was a major Athenian city in the region and its loss would prove problematic for the Athenians. Brasidas then used it as his base and took over other smaller cities in the region.

Acropolis Hill viewed from Areopagus, the Temple of
Athena Nike is on the bastion in the right of the picture
Thucydides, an Athenian general who is best known to us as a writer of the history of the Peloponnesian War, was stationed nearby with a fleet. Hearing that Amphipolis was threatened, he sailed to its relief, but Brasidas had already offered the city of Amphipolis moderate terms of surrender, which they had accepted. Thucydides was able to secure Eion for Athens, but this was seen as not good enough and Thucydides would later be exiled by the Athenians for dereliction of duty. He would use his time in exile to brood against the Athenian democracy under Cleon's leadership and to focus on writing his history.

Brasidas consolidated his position near Thrace by either subduing Athenian-held towns, or by encouraging them to revolt. The Athenian Empire now began to seem weak in that entire area and the Athenians were worried that they would soon face an empire-wide rebellion. In the early months of the year the Athenians might have reasonably expected to defeat Sparta by winter. Now, with their failure at Megara, at Delium and with the loss of their northern cities, the strategic balance of power seemed equal once more.

In this year the comic playwright Aristophanes wrote the play Knights. It is a satire making fun of the Athenian politician Cleon, who was in favour of the war and who presented himself as the champion of the poorer classes. Aristophanes pokes fun at this and depicts him as a miserable character vying for the affection of Demos (the people) with a sausage-seller who is even more shameless than he is. It is a wonderful thing to picture Cleon in the audience watching himself be so mocked on stage. Cleon was popular, but the mocking of Cleon was even more popular, with Aristophanes' play winning the first prize at the Lenaia competition.

Later Roman statue of Euripides
Also around this time, although the dates are less clear, Euripides wrote the play Hecuba. This is a dark work, set in the aftermath of the Trojan War, where captured Hecuba, the wife of slain Priam and formerly Queen of Troy, yearns for justice against those who have wronged her. She eventually gets some measure of revenge, but it does not satisfy her, nor win her freedom, nor save her from her prophesied end.

The Olympic Games were held this year. Symmachos of Sicilian Messene won the stadion. Hellanikos of Lepreon won the boy's boxing. Klemoachos of Magnesia won the boxing. The great pancratiast Dorieus of Rhodes won his third successive victory at the Olympics this year. He was the son of Diagoras of Rhodes, a famed boxer, and Dorieus' brothers had also been Olympic champions. Leon of Sparta owned the horses who won the tethrippon chariot race.

In the year 423 the Athenians and the Spartans agreed on a year's truce. This is known as the Truce of Laches, who was one of the proposers of the truce from the Athenian side. While the negotiations were ongoing however, the town of Scione revolted from the Athenians and Brasidas accepted its joining of the Spartan side in the war. Brasidas, who behaved quite moderately towards the Athenian cities, was held in high repute by both sides in the war. The Spartans appreciated his nearly single-handedly reversing the military situation and the Athenians respected him as an honourable foe.

As Scione had technically revolted after the truce was in effect, but before Brasidas was aware of it, both sides argued that they should keep it. Cleon passed a decree that would see the town of Scione destroyed and the population massacred. Another town, Mende, also revolted. Brasidas had made an alliance with Perdiccas II of Macedon and had left the coast to assist Perdiccas against his enemies. This allowed the Athenian general Nicias to retake Mende and to attack, but not yet take, Scione. As the Athenians and Spartans were still fighting on the northern Aegean coast, Brasidas now seems to have been ignoring the truce altogether, as he later made an unsuccessful attempt to take Potidaea by surprise.

During this time of truce, Tegea and Mantinea, two cities in the Peloponnese who were both under the influence of Sparta, fought a small war between themselves. The Tegeans were victorious. The Athenians used this time to expel the population of the island of Delos, arguing that it was required by an oracle. These refugees were taken in by one of the Persian satraps of Asia Minor and given land in which to settle.

Later Roman bust of Aristophanes
In this year, the comic playwright Cratinus won the prize of Comedy at the Great Dionysia festival with the play The Wicker Flask, which does not survive to the present day. We do know that Aristophanes put on a play called The Clouds, which does survive. This was a lampooning of the new philosophical and sophistic ways of thinking that were becoming popular in Athens, particularly among the young people.

Aristophanes shows an old man, named Strepsiades who is weary that his son is becoming far too clever and no longer has any respect. Eventually he goes down to the "Thinkery" to learn all the rubbish of these new ways for himself so that he can beat his son at his own game. Here he meets the chief meddler with the youth, Socrates the Athenian, who is presented as a clownish, head-in-the-clouds, intellectual. Ultimately the new knowledge does not help curb the impudence of his son, so Strepsiades ends the play by trying to burn down the "Thinkery".

The play is useful to us in that it gives us another view of Socrates. Aristophanes' portrayal is quite hostile, but it is a useful contemporary source for the life of Socrates and may give us some information about him. It must be used with caution of course. The version of the play that we currently have is from a later staging of the play, perhaps six years later.

Caryatids in the Acropolis Museum Athens
It seems that Socrates took the joke in good humour and it seems that Aristophanes and Socrates were acquaintances and perhaps friends at this time and in later years. Socrates may have been chosen for the target simply because he had a famously ugly face, which resembled the grotesque masks worn by the comic actors.

However I think it more likely that Socrates had done something silly in that year that is unknown to modern audiences. Aristophanes' play had come third in the competition, but another comic playwright named Ameipsias had written a play named Connus that had received second prize. This was also a play lampooning Socrates. That two comic playwrights should simultaneously choose a private individual for ridicule suggests that Socrates had become particularly notorious in Athens in the previous year.

Around this time, with Athens still smarting from the defeat by the Thebans at Delium, Euripides wrote the play known as The Suppliants, or Suppliant Women. This play is set after the war between Eteocles and Polyneices at the seven gates of Thebes. Here the dead Argive heroes who had attacked the city are left unburied by the order of Creon, the new ruler of Thebes. To allow the dead to be buried, Theseus, the hero of Athens, leads an army to Thebes and brings back the bodies of the dead. The play is a patriotic one, with heroic Athenians and impious Thebans. It also hints at the developing friendship that seems to have been growing between the Athenians and the neutral city of Argos, which was a democracy and had been an ally of Athens in the past.

Ruins of the foundation of the Temple of Hera in Argos
In this year Chrysis, who held the role of priestess of Hera in Argos, placed a lamp near some garlands and fell asleep. The garlands caught flame and the temple of Hera at Argos burned to the ground. Chrysis fled the city and sought refuge elsewhere in the Peloponnese, as burning down the chief temple of the city was generally not viewed kindly in the Greek world, even if it was accidental.

In the year 422 the truce between Athens and Sparta expired. Cleon was clearly angry with the damage that Brasidas had done to the Athenians with the capture of Amphipolis and the capture of a number of other smaller towns. He gathered a force of about 2000 hoplites and sailed north. Here he recaptured Torone. Cleon enslaved the women and children and took the men as hostages to be held by the Athenians.

Cleon then marched against Amphipolis itself. His army was somewhat larger than Brasidas', who retreated back to the city walls rather than risking an unequal battle far from home. Cleon made the mistake of marching too close to the walls for no real reason. He suspected that Brasidas was planning a sally forth and ordered a withdrawal. Because the withdrawal took place hurriedly and near to the walls, Brasidas did sally forth with the Spartan troops (most of them helots that the Spartan state wanted far away from Sparta) and the people of Amphipolis. A hard-fought battle ensued, but the Athenians never recovered from their original disorder in the withdrawal and the Athenians were defeated in what is known as the Battle of Amphipolis.

Temple of Athena Nike in Athens
The battle was significant because it saw the death of both Cleon and Brasidas. Both of these men had been very keen for war and had pushed for the continuation of the war in the face of a growing desire for peace on both sides. With both "hawks" dead, the partisans of peace could prevail. Emissaries were sent between the states and negotiations opened up.

In this year a comic playwright named Cantharus won the prize for comedy at the Great Dionysia. Aristophanes put forward his play The Wasps this year. It marks a return to form in that it mercilessly mocks Cleon (presumably it was put on before his death that year) and makes fun of the older Athenian jurymen who vote for Cleon. It tells of a son, named Bdelycleon, trying to save his father, Philocleon, from his obsession with the courts. As part of this treatment, the son has covered the house with nets to stop his father from running off to do jury duty, and instead sets up a mock trial where he can try the cases of his household, such as the case of the dog that stole the cheese and other such important trials.

In the year 421 the absence of war settled gradually over the Greek world. The truce still held in Sicily in the west, while in mainland Greece, Athens and Sparta were tired of war and were negotiating. The main architects of the peace were Pleistonax on the Spartan side and Nicias on the Athenian side. Pleistonax was the Agiad king, but was quite unpopular in Sparta, as it was thought that he had bribed the Oracle of Delphi to command the Spartans to recall him from banishment. Nicias was a talented, but cautious, general of the Athenians. He was from an aristocratic background and was known to admire Sparta. He was probably the Spartan proxenus (like a consul or ambassador) in Athens.

Architectural detail from the Temple of Athena Nike
The two sides agreed on a peace that came to be known as the Peace of Nicias, which ended the Archidamian War. Everything would go back to how it was before the war. The Spartans would hand back the territory they had captured, with the exception of Plataea, which was "surrendered voluntarily" and would be held by the Thebans. Particularly important to the Athenians was the return of Amphipolis. The Athenians would evacuate Pylos and the other fortresses on the coast of the Peloponnese, as well as handing back the prisoners taken at Sphacteria.

The peace treaty was a relatively sensible one, but was doomed from the start. Elis, Corinth, Megara and Thebes all refused to ratify the Spartan treaty, meaning that all the most important members of the Peloponnesian League were angry at the Spartans. Even worse, the Spartans were unwilling to hand over Amphipolis against the will of the Amphipolitans, who rightly feared what would happen to them. Thus, Sparta merely evacuated here, but did not hand it over.

History then nearly took a very different turn. Both Sparta and Athens were worn out from the struggle. Any neutral state, such as Argos, or perhaps Syracuse, might be disproportionately powerful in the Greek world at this time. The Peloponnesian League was in real danger of breaking up, with the primary allies of the Spartans refusing to ratify the treaty and threatening alliances with Argos. The main clause feared by the Spartan allies was a clause of the treaty that said that the Athenians and the Spartans could change the terms of the treaty by their common consent, but without necessarily consulting their allies.

Erechtheion Temple on the Acropolis
Seeing the risk of a new war developing, the Spartans applied for a peace treaty with Athens and received it. This must have been the work of Nicias, who generally proposed pro-Spartan policies and might be said to follow a similar policy to Cimon in the previous generation. A new League might threaten either Athens or Sparta, but if they combined their forces, they might form the foundation of a true Greek confederation. Perhaps the two states were too different to ever be permanent allies, but I do think this alliance between the two states was not doomed from the beginning, and that history could have taken a different direction. But it was not to be.

Meanwhile the Corinthian delegates, seeing that Athens and Sparta were in a treaty, went to Argos to conclude a treaty with Argos. The Mantineans and Eleans came over to this new alliance next. The Argives and Corinthians tried unsuccessfully to bring Thebes into their new alliance, but the Thebans in Boeotia had their own ideas and did not yet want this alliance.

The Athenians finished the siege of Scione, which had not surrendered as part of the Peace of Nicias. Cleon had passed a decree in the Assembly before his death that ordered that the adult males should be massacred and the women and children sold into slavery. This terrible fate before the people of Scione, which was viewed almost as a war crime by the Greeks. The Athenians then settled the exiled Plataeans there. Thus amid the tensions between all the parties, the year came to an end, but the uneasy peace still held.

Replicas of the caryatids on the Porch of the Maidens
Around this time the Erechtheion temple on the Acropolis was begun in Athens. It is dedicated to both Poseidon and Athena. It was built near the area where a sacred snake was fed cakes by the priests and which was believed to have been the guardian of the city, as well as being near the tomb of the legendary king Erechtheus, for whom it is named. It is on the northern slope of the Acropolis and gives beautiful views over the city. An eternal flame designed by Callimachus with an asbestos wick stood near the temple.

Its most famous feature is the Porch of the Maidens, where Caryatids, statues of women acting as pillars, gaze out across the Acropolis. One of these was removed to Britain in the early 19th century AD by the controversial Lord Elgin, who also damaged another caryatid terribly. The remainder were damaged by acid rain in Athens, but are currently in the new Acropolis Museum at the southern foot of the Acropolis and are well-preserved from future harm.

In this year, Eupolis of Athens won the prize for comedy at the Great Dionysia in Athens with his play Flatterers. This play has not survived to the present day. We do know that it was laughing at the wealthy nobleman Callias III, an extravagant nobleman who was probably the richest man in Athens, but who had a propensity for throwing away all his money on sophists, women and other luxuries. However, Aristophanes' play Peace, which won second prize, has survived.

In this play, an exasperated Athenian named Trygaeus flies up to heaven on the back of a dung-beetle to find out what has happened to Peace. He finds that she has been imprisoned in a big cave and that War now has charge of heaven although War is a little perplexed what to do with Cleon and Brasidas gone. Trygaeus frees Peace from her cave and brings her down to the world, filling her in on the latest gossip, including the death of another Comic poet named Cratinus, who apparently died of anger while drunk. Trygaeus eventually marries Harvest, who was also imprisoned with Peace and her companion Festival.

Modern reconstruction of a
gastraphetes
While the exact date cannot be given exactly, it seems that around this time the gastraphetes was invented. This literally means "belly-bow" and was a type of semi-mechanical crossbow that was braced on the ground, held in place with the leg and stomach, and cranked to increase the torsion. It is not clear what its purpose was in war, but it was probably used primarily in sieges, being a much more powerful bow than the usual Greek bow. It was the ancestor of later siege weapons, which would shortly come into use, as the Greeks became more interested in the conduct of sieges.

In the year 420 the peace still held, but there were serious tensions between all the parties and a major lack of trust. There was much back and both sides felt that neither the treaty nor the alliance were being fully honoured. But the peace still held as of yet. The Thebans held the key to peace in Greece. They had neither made peace with Athens, joined Argos, nor given up their anger with Sparta. But whichever group they joined would have very strong land forces indeed. It seemed that after much deliberation, that the Thebans were inclined to stay aligned with Sparta.

This scared the Argives, who had previously believed that Thebes would join their alliance. If Corinth and the other sides deserted as well, then Argos might face the rebuilt Peloponnesian League alone and without allies. The Spartans and Argives were concerned that the thirty-year truce that they had previously signed was about to expire. The Spartans, in concluding their peace with the Thebans, had in fact broken the terms of the peace with Athens, as well as the many fortresses and cities that had yet to be handed over, and the Athenian popular opinion suspected that the Spartans were planning to break the treaty.

The Spartans, seeing that they were running the risk of losing Athenian trust, sent a delegation to Athens to answer the questions of the Athenians and to reassure them of good faith. In particular, they were to try and prevent the Athenians from making an alliance with the Argives. Once they arrived, they were met by Nicias, the architect of the peace and a senior figure in Athenian politics, who was also known as a friend of Sparta.

Later Roman bust of Alcibiades
Before addressing the Assembly, the Spartans were met by Alcibiades, a prominent young nobleman, who had fought in several battles despite his youth. He was very wealthy and well-connected to the Athenian aristocracy, being related to the Alcmaeonids. He was also believed to be very handsome, and he used his popularity to influence the taste of the people. It is said that Athenians boys used to learn flute-playing until Alcibiades decided that it made his face look ugly while playing. After this the Athenians stopped learning flute-playing in their education. This is probably a later story, but it shows the influence that Alcibiades was believed to have had. He was frequently in the company of Socrates and the many sophists who flocked to Athens. In short, he was young, handsome, intelligent, wealthy, educated and ambitious.

Alcibiades counselled the Spartans to be guided by him and to pretend that they were not sent with full powers. Alcibiades had spoken against the Spartans in the Assembly previously, and he promised that he would turn the people towards the Spartans, as long as they said that they had not come with full powers. The Spartans trusted the young nobleman.

The Spartans were asked in the Assembly whether they had come with full powers, and they answered that they had not, as they had been advised by Alcibiades. They were then roundly denounced in the Assembly, by none other than Alcibiades who had betrayed them. Nicias pleaded with the people to be allowed to send an embassy to Sparta to make sure that they maintained the treaty, handed over Amphipolis, which was not as yet handed over, and to ask the Spartans to break their alliance with Thebes.

Caryatid in British Museum
Nicias' embassy was sent, but as with Alcibiades in Athens, the war-party in Sparta was now influential once more and Xenares the ephor blocked all Nicias' proposals. Nicias returned in disgrace to Athens and Alcibiades now became the most popular man in the state. Alcibiades was risking restarting the war simply so he could gain prestige. The Athenians and the Argives now signed an alliance and Alcibiades was now elected as one of the generals in Athens.

The Corinthians were now in a state of displeasure with the Argives and did not join the new alliance, but Athens now had an alliance with multiple Peloponnesian states, including Argos, Elis and Mantinea. Corinth now became more aligned with Sparta, as the balance of power had now shifted in Athens' favour and the political game had become two-power rather than a three-power affair.

The Spartans and the Eleans had a land dispute over a subject city of Elis. The Argives and Epidaurians went to war, with the Athenians aiding the Argives. Spartan armies prowled around on the edges of Argos. Athenians and Spartans were in large armies on opposing sides in various wars, and yet still the strange peace, with enemies locked in overlapping meshes of contradictory alliances, held.

Near Thermopylae, the newly founded Spartan city of Heraclea in Trachis was attacked by the nearby Thessalians and their allies. The city did not fall, but they suffered very heavy casualties. The Thebans were so concerned with the weakness of the city, and the fear that the Athenians would take it by force, that they took over the city and expelled the Spartan governors, which did not endear them to the Spartans. But the Theban alliance was too valuable to the Spartans to risk an open breach with them, so the Spartans held their peace and the peace held.

Around this time Heraclea Pontica, a Greek city on the southern coast of the Black Sea founded Chersonesos Taurica around this time. This colony was on the northern coast of the Black Sea, in the Crimean Peninsula. The city was founded in a good location with an excellent harbour. The city is today known as Sevastopol.

Coin of Elis from around this time period
The Olympic Games were held this year. Hyperbios of Syracuse won the stadion race, Aristeus of Argos won the dolichos race. Theantos of Lepreon won the boy's boxing competition, while Amertas of Elis won the boy's wrestling. Androsthenes of Mainalos won the pancration. Xenombrotus of Cos owned the horse that won the horse race. Boeotia owned the horses that won the tethrippon chariot race, except that they didn't.

The Spartans had been squabbling with the Eleans, who oversaw the Olympic Games. The Eleans then barred the Spartans from the games. Lichas of Sparta submitted his team of horses for the chariot race, but had the team race in the name of Boeotia, paying homage to the strength of the Theban/Spartan alliance. When his team won, Lichas burst onto the field to crown the victors, thus letting everyone know that these were his horses and that the glory was Sparta's. The Olympic officials beat up Lichas and threw him out of the Olympic grounds.

It is possible that this year saw the comic poet Eupolis win the comedy prize with the play Autolycus, but the dates are unclear. The play has not survived.

Friezes from the Temple of Athena Nike
Apollodorus Skiagraphos, a master of ancient Greek painting, may have flourished around this time. The dates are unclear, with some indications that he flourished perhaps six decades earlier. But those who are said to be his later contemporaries, pupils, rivals and imitators are in the late 5th century and early 4th, so for this reason I have chosen to mention him here. None of his paintings survive, but he invented a shading technique that was widely copied and became a staple of Greek painting from that time onwards.

The Temple of Athena Nike in Athens was completed around this time. It was built on a high bastion to the southern side of the Propylaea. It was destroyed in later years, but has been reconstructed today. Many of the friezes have been preserved in museums in Greece and around the world. It is quite a small temple, but a beautiful one. It was dedicated to Athena Goddess of Victory, and contained scenes of victories over the Persians at Marathon and Plataea. The cult statue here had no wings (Nike/Victory usually had wings) and this was seen as a good omen, in that wingless Victory could not fly away from Athens.

Around this time Ion of Chios, the poet, dramatist and philosopher, died. Oenopides of Chios, the mathematician and astronomer, also seems to have died in this time period, as did the famous sophist Protagoras, who had held that "man is the measure of all things".

The philosopher Hippo is said to have flourished around this time. He believed fire and water to be the primordial elements of the universe but nothing of his work survives and Aristotle in particular was not impressed with his thinking. He was accused of atheism apparently, but it is unclear why.

Later Roman bust of Herodotus
Hippias of Elis also flourished around this time. He was a sophist who taught rhetoric and oratory in Athens, and charged higher fees than the other sophists, which was a point of pride for him. He believed that he was able to speak off-the-cuff on any subject that was proposed to him and occasionally performed feats of speech at the Panhellenic festivals such as the Olympic Games. He claimed some level of expertise in every subject known to man. However, if this sounds like a vain and shallow person, we should remember that much of our knowledge of Hippias comes from Plato, who disliked Hippias and everything he stood for, so we must take this negative picture with a grain of salt.

Finally, Antiochus of Syracuse wrote a history of Sicily around this time. This history would be of use to Thucydides in the later writing of his history. Antiochus' work does not survive to us, but it was praised in antiquity for its care and attention. Clearly the work of Herodotus was becoming influential all over the Greek world and people were beginning to take up the mantle of the Father of History and to continue the story, as we may hope people always do.

And thus the period draws to a close. The first phase of the Great Peloponnesian War had come and gone, with the plagues, sieges, massacres, triumphs and defeats that it entailed. Athens and Sparta were now locked in an uneasy peace and their multiple levels of alliances and un-kept treaties prevented any trust from building up on either side. In all cities, there seem to have been tensions between the oligarchies and the common people, and in most cities there appear to have been tensions between those who favoured peace and those who desired war. Even with the violence of the war, involving most states in the Greek world, culture still flourished, but the rise of the sophists were seen by some as a threat to the polis and to society as a whole. I will continue the story in the next blog.


Reflections on Plato’s Academy Conference

The conference on Plato’s Academy, which took place this past week at the University of Athens, organized chiefly by Paul Kalligas (Athens), Chloe Balla (Crete), and Vassilis Karasmanis (Athens), was, in this writer’s opinion, an unqualified success. Overall, the papers and discussion forced the many excellent scholars who participated to obtain greater precision in several areas of interest, of which I will discuss four [[1]].

Plato in the Shadow of Aristotle? The New Plato Bust in the Acropolis Museum

First of all, there were heated debates concerning the interpretation and influence of Plato’s philosophy among his successors in the 4th and 3rd Centuries BCE. This was an important theme in various papers, especially those of John Glucker (Tel Aviv), who cast doubt on the possibility that interpretive models associated with the so-called ‘Tubingen School’ could be justified by evidence from antiquity, and of Katharina Luchner (Munich), who supplied a very careful stylistic analysis which showed how the Seventh and Thirteenth Letters represented diverse appropriations of Plato’s philosophy through rhetorical and doctrinal presentation. In this vein, too, the stylometrical and historical analyses of the works of contested authorship by Harold Tarrant (Newcastle, Australia) were a welcome addition, forcing us to think more about not just the importance of later Platonist dialogue-writers such as Philip of Opus, but also the role that these figures played in the institutions that helped to shape the reception of Plato’s philosophy. Individual figures associated with the Early Academy were also featured: István Bodnár (Budapest) presented a good case for the differentiation between two camps in the Early Academy with regard to the formulation and use of the mathematical sciences (astronomy and harmonic theory) Henry Mendell (CSU-Los Angeles) expanded our understanding of the actual observations of celestial objects by the astronomers from Cyzicus (including Eudoxus), highlighting their role in providing empirical evidence for Aristotle’s use, while at the same time casting doubt on Eudoxus’ importance within the Academy and John Dillon (Dublin) aimed to elucidate the applied ethics of Polemon, which differentiated him from his senior colleague, Xenocrates, whose dialectical approaches to the precepts of Pythagoras and Triptolemus I discussed in my own contribution. A brilliant and, in many ways, charmingly paradigmatic teacher-student debate exploded between Vassilis Karasmanis (Athens) and Michalis Sialaros (London), who took opposing sides on the issue of whether Euclid could be considered a product of Plato’s Academy, with the issue left in the balance at the end (although I probably lean against Euclid’s Platonic inheritance, but not necessarily for the reasons Sialaros pointed out).

A second ‘hot topic’ of the conference was the articulation of Platonic doctrines and schools in the late Hellenistic and Roman Republican periods. Oliver Primavesi’s (Munich) intrepid analysis of the manuscript tradition of Alexander of Aphrodisias revealed a new testimonium for Eudorus of Alexandria’s metaphysics, which focused on the relationship between the material principle and the Forms. David Sedley (Cambridge) argued compellingly that Carneades’ atheistic sorites arguments presented not an attack on the Stoics, but rather an example of a particular mode of Academic disputation on various topics. Several hetairoi of Sedley focused especially on the history of the Academy in the 2nd and 1st Centuries BCE. Myrto Hatzimichali (Cambridge) presented a careful analysis of Philodemus’ approach to writing about the scholarchs of the Academy, focusing on both historiographical and philosophical elements. Mauro Bonazzi (Milano) and Georgia Tsouni (Bern) obtained mostly divergent conclusions (to my eye) of the philosophical and doctrinal underpinnings of Antiochus of Ascalon, extending some of the conclusions they reached in their earlier contributions to The Philosophy of Antiochus (ed. Sedley, Cambridge 2012) by thinking more about the sociology and competitive philosophical milieu of Antiochus’ ‘Old Academy’. The dilemma of Antiochus’ Platonism remains difficult to solve, if stimulating to contemplate.

There was a palpable sense of symbiosis between Hatzimichali’s paper and that of Matthias Haake (Münster), who provided a most compact discussion of the political and social history of the Academy in Athens (with appeal especially to inscriptional evidence) from the mid-4th Century BCE until its ‘end’ (or one of its many ‘ends?’ – as Bonazzi’s paper encouraged us to contemplate) with Sulla’s arrival in Athens in 86 BCE. It is my hope that they will use one another’s discoveries to nuance their own contributions, if the papers go on to be published. And Paul Cartledge (Cambridge) provided a thoughtful, if finally aporetic, discussion of the social and political influence of the ‘members’ (scare-quotes in original) of the Academy in the political culture of the Greek world, topped of with a comparative analysis between the Academy and the RAND Corporation. Cartledge’s paper was a fit dedication to the late Trevor Saunders, who did so much to encourage us to think about Plato’s Laws beyond Plato.

They told us the one on the left was Plato, but I rather think it’s Plocrates (h/t to Christopher Rowe)

Finally, two papers in particular encouraged us to think about possible allusions to academic practices embedded in the dialogues of Plato. Thomas Szlezák (Tübingen) sought to extract evidence for unwritten doctrines from within Plato’s dialogues, and there was a vigorous debate concerning the authority and status of the enigmatic statements concerning what cannot be said at the present moment by Plato’s speakers and the ever-effervescent Alexander Nehamas (Princeton) showed that the way in which Plato works out the consequences of Zeno’s claim in the Parmenides that ‘all is not many’ through dialectical exercises in the second half of the work, which might point to actual practice in logic.

We were able to visit the new Acropolis Museum, where we saw new copies of busts of Plato and Aristotle – as well as the homunculi versions of Plato and Socrates you see above – and had a short tour of the park known as the Academy, where the photo associated with my gravatar to the left was snapped (extemporaneous photo by Henry Mendell of me lecturing in Plato’s Academy, actually at the 4 th Century Peristyle building that I fantasize was the location of Plato’s Academy ).

I admit to having fought back a tear or two while standing there, and the generous dogs who occupied the park didn’t mind at all.

[[1]] Unfortunately, I had to leave early in the morning on Sunday and sadly missed what I’m sure were terrific papers on the archaeology and material culture of the Academy by Manolis Panayotopoulos Tania Chatziefthymiou (Athens), Effie Lygkouri-Tolia (Athens), Ada Caruso (Rome), Voula Bardani (Athens), Daniela Marchiandi (Torino), Angelos Matthaiou (Athens), Ismini Trianti (Ioannina), and Stephen Miller (UC-Berkeley).


Watch the video: Σκέψεις πάνω στην φράση του Ηρακλείτου εἷς ἐμοὶ μύριοι, ἐὰν ἄριστος ἦι Δήμητρα Λιάτσα (June 2022).


Comments:

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  2. Tygoll

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