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History of Sparta

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April Kincaid
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« on: March 11, 2009, 05:24:11 am »

The Legend

Tradition relates that Sparta was founded by its first king Lacedaemon, son of Zeus and Taygete, who named the city after his wife, the daughter of Eurotas. However, the nearby archaeological sites of Amyclae and Therapne (Therapnae) before circa 1000 BCE appear to be more important than Sparta; the former is a Minoan ruin a few miles to the south of Sparta, the latter likely the Achaean capital of Laconia and the seat of Menelaus, called the king of Sparta in the annals of the Trojan War, who was Agamemnon's younger brother according to Greek mythology and literature.

 
LycurgusSome eighty years after the Trojan War, according to the traditional chronology, the Dorian migration from the north took place and eventually led to the rise of classical Sparta - famous as a martial power, foe of the Persian Empire, and eventual conqueror of Athens. A band of Dorians united with a body of Aetolians to cross the Corinthian Gulf and invade the Peloponnese from the northwest.

The Aetolians settled in Elis, and the Dorians pushed up to the headwaters of the Alpheus where they divided into two forces, one of which under Cresphontes invaded and later subdued Messenia, while the other, led by Aristodemus or, according to another version, by his twin sons Eurysthenes and Procles, made its way down the Eurotas valley and gained Sparta, which became the Dorian capital of Laconia. [1]

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« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2009, 05:25:56 am »



Lycurgus

Prehistoric period

Archeology is however difficult to reconcile with the legend. Sparta itself only begins to show signs of settlement around 1000 BCE, some 200 years after the collapse of Mycenaean civilization [2]. Of the four villages that made up the Spartan Polis, Forrest suggests that the two closest to the Acropolis were the originals and the two more far flung of later foundation. The dual kingship may originate in the fusion of the first two villages.[3] One of the effects of the of Mycenaean collapse had been a sharp drop in population. Following that however there was a significant recovery and this growth in population is likely to have been more marked in Sparta, situated as it was in the most fertile part of the plain.[4]

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« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2009, 05:29:45 am »

The Reforms of Lycurgus

It is it at this point in the history of Sparta, to be precise the reign of King Charillos[5], that most ancient sources place the life of Lycurgus. Indeed, the Spartans ascribed their subsequent success to Lycurgus who instituted his reforms at a time when Sparta was weakened by internal dissent and lacked the stability of a united and well-organized community[6]. His legislation established the Gerousia, the Spartan Senate, and he is also credited with establishing the Spartan system of training, the agoge. There are reasons to doubt whether he ever really existed as his name derives from the word for wolf which was associated with Apollo - hence Lycurgus could be simply the personification of the god [7]

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« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2009, 05:30:57 am »

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« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2009, 05:31:35 am »

The expansion of Sparta

Sparta shared the plain with Amyklai which lay to South and was one of the few places to survive from Mycean times and hence was likely to be her most formidable neighbor. Hence the tradition that Sparta, under her kings Archelaos and Charillos moved instead north to secure the upper Eurotas valley is plausible.[8] Pharis and Geronthrae were then taken and, though the traditions are a little contradictory, also Amyclae which probably fell around 750 BCE. It is probable that inhabitants of Geronthrae were driven out while the inhabitants of Amyclae were simply subjugated to Sparta.[9] This gave Sparta control of the central Laconian plain and the eastern plateau which lies between the Eurotas and Mount Parnon. Alcmenes, by the subjugation of Helos, brought the lower Eurotas plain under Spartan rule. About this time, probably the Argives, whose territory included the whole east coast of the Peloponnese and the island of Cythera (Herodotus 1.82), were driven back, and the whole of Laconia was thus incorporated in the Spartan state.

It was not long before a further extension took place. Under Alcmenes and Theopompus a war broke out between the Spartans and the Messenians, their neighbors on the west, which, after a struggle lasting for twenty years, ended in the subjection of the Messenians, who were forced to pay half the produce of the soil as tribute to their Spartan overlords. The Second Messenian War resulted from the attempt to throw off the Spartan yoke by the Messenian hero Aristomenes; but Spartan tenacity broke down the resistance of the insurgents, and Messenia was made Spartan territory, just as Laconia had been, its inhabitants being reduced to the status of helots, apart from those who, as perioeci, inhabited the towns on the seacoast and a few settlements inland.

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« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2009, 05:32:32 am »

This extension of Sparta's territory was viewed with apprehension by her neighbors in the Peloponnese. Arcadia and Argos had vigorously aided the Messenians in their two struggles, and help was also sent by the Sicyonians, Pisatans and Triphyhans: only the Corinthians appear to have supported the Spartans, doubtless on account of their jealousy of their powerful neighbors, the Argives. At the close of the second Messenian War (no later than 631 BCE), no power could hope to cope with that of Sparta save Arcadia and Argos.

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« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2009, 05:33:42 am »



Territory of Sparta
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« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2009, 05:34:18 am »

The 6th century BCE

Early in the 6th century the Spartan kings Leon and Agasicles made a vigorous attack on Tegea, the most powerful of the Arcadian cities, but it was not until the reign of Anaxandridas and Ariston, about the middle of the century, that the attack was successful and Tegea was forced to acknowledge Spartan overlordship, though retaining its independence. The final struggle for Peloponnesian supremacy was with Argos, which had at an early period been the most powerful state of the peninsula and, even though its territory had been curtailed, was a serious rival of Sparta.

But Argos was now no longer at the height of its power: its league had begun to break up early in the century, and it could not in the impending struggle count on the assistance of its old allies, Arcadia and Messenia, since the latter had been robbed of its independence and the former had acknowledged Spartan supremacy. A victory won about 546 BCE, when the Lydian Empire fell before Cyrus of Persia, made the Spartans masters of the Cynuria, the borderland between Laconia and Argolis, for which there had been an age-long struggle.

The final blow was struck by King Cleomenes I, who reduced, for many years to come the power of the city of Argos and left Sparta without a rival in the Peloponnese. In fact, by the middle of the 6th century, and increasingly down to the period of the Persian Wars, Sparta had come to be acknowledged as the leading state of Hellas and the champion of Hellenism. Croesus of Lydia had formed an alliance with her. Scythian envoys sought her aid to stem the invasion of Darius; to her the Greeks of Asia Minor appealed to withstand the Persian advance and to aid the Ionian Revolt; Plataea asked for her protection; Megara acknowledged her supremacy; and at the time of the Persian invasion under Xerxes no state questioned her right to lead the Greek forces on land and sea. In the opinion of the 1911 Britannica, Sparta soon showed herself "wholly unworthy" of such a role. In support the 1911 Britannica article cited her narrow Peloponnesian outlook - sh was not a colonizing state, though the inhabitants of Tarentum (Greek Taras; modern Taranto in southern Italy), and of Lyttus, in Crete, claimed her as their mother-city. Further though she had the reputation of hating tyrants and putting them down where possible, it was only to put in place oligarchies rather than democracies.[10]

At the end of the century Sparta made her first intervention north of the Isthmus when it got involved in Athenian politics by overthrowing Hippias in 510 BCE. Dissension in Athens followed with conflict between Kleisthenes and Isagoras. King Cleomenes turned up in Attica with a small body of troops to back the more conservative Isagoras. Initially he succeeded but then the Athenians got fed up with this treatment and Cleomenes found himself holed up on the Acropolis. But that was not the end for an expedition of the whole Peloponesian League. The expedition was to be led Kleomenes along with his co-King Demaratos. The specific aims of the expedition were kept secret. The secrecy proved disastrous and dissension broke out the more the real aims became clearer. First the Corinthians departed. Then a row broke out between Cleomenes and Demaratos with Demaratos too deciding to go home. As a result of this fiasco the Spartans decided that in future not to send out an army with both Kings at its head. It also seems to have changed the nature of the Peloponesian League. From that time major decisions were discussed. Sparta was still clearly in charge but she now had to carry her allies with her when she wanted something to happen.[11]

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« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2009, 05:35:19 am »

The 5th century BCE

Spartas's role in the Persian Wars was mixed. After hearing Pheidippides' plea to help Athens face the Persians at Marathon in 490 BCE, Sparta decided to honor its laws and wait until the moon was full to send an army. As a result, Sparta's army arrived at Marathon after the battle had been won by the Athenians.

In the second campaign, conducted ten years later by Xerxes in person, Sparta again faced the same dilemma . The Persians inconveniently chose to attack during the Olympic truce with the Spartans felt they must honour. Other Greek states lacked such foibles making a major effort to assemble a fleet - how could not Sparta contribute on land when others were doing so much on sea?[12] The solution was to provide the small force under Leonidas to defend Thermopylae. However there are indications that Sparta's religious scruples were merely a cover. From this interpretation, Sparta believed that the defence of Thermopylae was hopeless and wished to make a stand at the Isthmus but she had to go thru the motions for otherwise Athens might go over to Persia. The loss of Athens's fleet would simply be too great a loss to the Greek resistance to be risked.[13] The alternative view is that, on the evidence of the actual fighting, the pass was supremely defensable and that the Spartans might reasonably have expected that the forces sent would be adequate.[14] From then on Sparta took a more active share and assumed the command of the combined Greek forces by sea and land. The decisive victory of Salamis did not change Sparta's essential dilemma. Ideally she would wish to fight at the Isthmus where she would avoid the risk of her infantry being caught in the open by the Persian cavalry. However, when in 479 BCE, the remaining Persian forces under Mardonius devastated Attica, Athenian pressure forced Sparta to lead an advance.[15] The outcome was a standoff where both the Persians and the Greeks attempted to fight on favorable terrain which was resolved when the Persians attacked during a botched Greek withdrawal. In the resulting Battle of Plataea the Greeks under the generalship of the Spartan Pausanias routed the lightly-armed Persian infantry, killing Mardonius. [16] In the same year a united Greek fleet under the Spartan King, Leotychidas, won the victory of Mycale However, when this victory led to a revolt of the Ionian Greeks it was Sparta that rejected their admission to the Hellenic alliance. Sparta proposed that they should abandon their homes in Anatolia and settle in the cities that had supported the Persians.[17] It was Athens who by offering these cities alliance sowed the seeds of her maritime league.[18] In 478 BCE the Greek fleet led by Pausanias, the victor of Plataea, mounted moves on Cyprus and Byzantium. However his arrogant behavior forced his recall. Pausanias had so alienated the Ionians that they refused to accept the successor, Dorcis, that Sparta sent to replace him. Instead those newly liberated from Persia turned to Athens.[19] The sources give quite divergent impressions about Spartan reactions to Athens' growing power and this may reflect the divergence of opinion within Sparta[20]. According to this view on Spartan faction was quite content to allow Athens to carry the risk of continuing the war with Persia while an opposing faction deeply resented Athens' challenge to her Greek supremacy[21].

Sparta's attention was at this time fully occupied by troubles nearer home — such as the revolt of Tegea (circa 473-471 BCE), rendered all the more formidable by the participation of Argos.[22] The most serious, however was the crisis caused by the earthquake which in 464 BCE devastated Sparta in which many lost their lives. In immediate aftermath the helots saw an opportunity to rebel. There then followed the siege of Ithome which the rebels had fortified.[23] The pro Spartan Cimion was successful in getting Athens to send help but this backfired.[24] The Athenian hoplites that made up the bulk of the force were from the well to do section of Athenian society. Nonetheless, they were shocked to discover that the rebels were Greeks like themselves and Sparta began to fear that Athens might make common cause with the rebels.[25] The Spartans sent the Athenians home, giving as the official reason that as the initial assault on Ithone had failed and what was now requited was a blockade they told the Athenians that for this task they were no longer needed. Back in Athens, this snub resulted in Athens breaking off her alliance with Sparta and allying with here enemy Argos. [26] Further friction was caused by the consummation of the Attic democracy under Ephialtes and Pericles[27].

Paul Cartledge hazards that the revolt of hellots and perioeci led the Spartans to reorganize their army and integrate the perioeci into the citizen hoplite regiments. Certainly a system where citizens and non citizens fought together in the same regiments was unusual for Greece.[28] Hans van Wees is however unconvinced by the "manpower shortage" explanation of the Spartans' use of non citizen hoplites. He agrees that the integration of perioeci and citizens occurred sometime between the Persian and the Peloponesian Wars but doesn't regard that as a significant stage. The Spartans had been using non-citizens as hoplites well before that and the proportion didn't change. He doubts that the Spartans ever subscribed to the citizen only hoplite force ideal so beloved by writers such as Aristotle.[29]

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« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2009, 05:36:38 am »



Leonidas I monument at Thermopylae
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« Reply #10 on: March 11, 2009, 05:37:19 am »

When the First Peloponnesian War broke out, Sparta was still pinned down suppressing the hellot revolt.[30] Hence Sparta's involvement was somewhat desultory.[31] It amounted to little more than isolated expeditions the most notable of which involved helping to inflict a defeat on the Athenians at the Battle of Tanagra in 457 BCE in Boeotia. However they then went home gaving the Athenians an opportunity to defeat the Boeotians at the battle of Oenophyta and so overuning Boeotia[32]. When the hellot revolt was finally ended, Sparta needed a breather and sought and gained a five years' truce, with Athens - with Argos, however she sought a thirty year peace to ensure that she could strike Athens unencumbered. Hence, Sparta was fully able to explit the situation when Megara, Boeotia and Euboea revolted, sending an army into Attica. The war ended with Athens deprived of her mainland possessions but having been permitted to regain Euboea. Tho both of Sparta's Kings were exiled for permitting Athens to regain Euboea, Sparta agreed to a Thirty Year Peace.[33]

Within six years, however, Sparta was proposing to her allies to go to war with Athens in support of Samos that had rebelled. On that occasion Corinth successfully opposed opposed Sparta and it was voted down.[34]. When the Peloponnesian War, finally broke out in 431 BCE the chief public complaints against Athens was that she had allied with Korkyra (which was at war with Corinth) and Athens treatment of Potidea. However according to Thucydides the real cause of the war was Sparta's fear of Athens growing power.[35]

Sparta entered the with the proclaimed aim of the "liberation the Greeks" - an aim that required a total defeat of Athens. Her method was invade Attica in the hope of provoking Athens to give battle. Unfortunately Athens refused to be provoked.[36] When in 425 BCE a body of Spartans was captured by the Athenians at Pylos she was ready, and even anxious, to terminate the war on any reasonable conditions. That the terms of the Peace of Nicias, which in 421 BCE concluded the first phase of the war, were rather in favour of Sparta than of Athens was due almost entirely to the energy and insight of an individual Spartan, Brasidas, and the disastrous attempt of Athens to regain its lost land empire. The final success of Sparta and the capture of Athens in 405 BCE were brought about partly by the treachery of Alcibiades, who induced the state to send Gylippus to conduct the defence of Syracuse, to fortify Decelea in northern Attica, and to adopt a vigorous policy of aiding Athenian allies to revolt. The lack of funds which would have proved fatal to Spartan naval warfare was remedied by the intervention of Persia, which supplied large subsidies. However Spartan generals showed themselves to be inexperienced at naval warfare (to be expected) but also incompetent and/or brutal[37] . The one commander who stood out was Lysander. Though as a general he was merely average he was an exceptional diplomat and organiser.[38] Crucially he had the confidence of Prince Cyrus. When Cyrus requested Lysander be sent out for a second term both Spartan politics and the Spartan constitution should have ruled this out but in the wake of their defeat at the Battle of Arginusae a way round this was found.[39] Cyrus had such complete confidence in Lysander that Lysander was provided with all the resources he needed to rebuild the Spartan fleet. [40] Then in 404 BCE Lysander virtually destroyed the Athenian fleet at the Battle of Aegospotami. Lysander now proceeded from city to city imposing 10 men oligarchies and a massacre of democrats ensued[41].

With Athens starved into surrender she might have expected the same fate as Plataea and indeed Corinth and Thebes did indeed call for the destruction of Athens. Sparta refused alluding to Athens' contribution to the defeat of the Persians. Some modern historians have, however seen a less disinterested reason - the need for a counterweight to Thebes[42] - but Anton Powell sees here an excess of hindsight. The Spartans could not of known, as we do, that it would be Thebes that would break her at the Battle of Leuctra. Powell suspects that Sparta was more disunited than she appeared in public. He argues that it is highly likely that Lysander would also have desired Athens destruction. Lysander's opponents would on the other hand have feared the power of a Lysander enriched by the plundering of Athens and defended Athens from destruction not for love of the city but out of fear of Lysander.[43]

The terms Sparta offered Athens were not however oversoft, involving, as they did, the destruction of the long walls and that of Piraeus. On top of that Lysander soon found a pretext, in the spring of 404 BCE, to impose the clique of 30 oligarchs that have come to be known, with reason, as the Thirty Tyrants.[44]

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« Reply #11 on: March 11, 2009, 05:38:14 am »



Sparta with the Taygetos mountains in the background
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« Reply #12 on: March 11, 2009, 05:39:37 am »

The 4th century BCE - Spartan Supremacy

The fall of Athens left Sparta once again supreme in the Greek world. Though the details of how Sparta ruled Athens former subjects is uncertain, it was certainly as dictatorial and exploitative as had been the rule of Athens and probably more so. In general Spartan hegemony was exercised selfishly with little regard for the sensibilities either of her allies or her new subjects.[45] The disquiet of her allies can be seen in the defiance of Boeotia, Elis and Corinth in offering refuge to those who opposed to the rule of the thirty in Athens.[46] When these exiles successfuly defeated the thirty, Sparta's first response was to send Lysander with a band of mercenaries who clearly intended simply to place the thirty back in power.[47] Very quickly, however, Sparta sent King Pausanias with a levy of the Peloponesian League who on the one hand accepted the restoration of democracy but on the other hand split off Eleusis, whence the oligachs had fled, from the Athenian Polis.[48] Though this deal served Sparta's interests in ending the alliance of Boeotia and Corinth with the democrats of Athens (Boeotia soon grabed Oropus from Athens), Pausanias was brought to trial, presumably for being soft on Athens, and escaped conviction by the skin of his teeth.[49]

Sparta's close relationship with Prince Cyrus continued when she gave covert support to his attempt on the Persian throne. After Cyrus was killed at the Battle of Cunaxa, Sparta briefly attempted to be conciliatory towards Artaxerxes, the Persian King. In late 401 BCE, however, Sparta decided to answer an appeal of several Ionian cities and sent an expedition to Anatolia.[50] Though the war was fought under the banner of Greek liberty, the Spatan defeat at the Battle of Cnidus in 394 BCE was widely welcomed by the Greek cities of the region. Though the Persian rule meant to the cities of the mainland of Asia the payment of tribute this seems to be considered the lesser evil to Spartan rule.[51]

At the end of 396 BCE Persia had sent a Rhodian agent with gifts to opponents of Sparta on the mailand of Greace. However, these inducemnts served mainly as encouragement to those who who were already resentful of Sparta. In the event, it was Sparta who made the first aggressive move using, as a pretext, Boeotia's support for her ally Lokris against Sparta's ally Phokis. An army under Lysander an Pausanias was despatched. As Pausanias was somewhat lukewarm to the whole enterprise, Lysander went on ahead. Having detached Orchemonos from the Boeotian League and then got himself killed at the Battle of Haliartus. When Pausanias arrived rather than avenge the defeat he simply sought a truce to bury the bodies. For this Pausanias was procecuted, this time successfully and went into exile.[52]

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« Reply #13 on: March 11, 2009, 05:40:51 am »



4th Century Hoplite
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« Reply #14 on: March 11, 2009, 05:41:17 am »

Though at Coronea Agesilaus had slightly the better of the Boeotians and at Corinth the Spartans maintained their position, yet they felt it necessary to rid themselves of Persian hostility and if possible use the Persian power to strengthen their own position at home: they therefore concluded with Artaxerxes II the humiliating Peace of Antalcidas (387 BCE), by which they surrendered to the Great King the Greek cities of the Asia Minor coast and of Cyprus, and stipulated for the autonomy of all other Greek cities. Finally, Sparta and Persia were given the right to make war on those who did not respect the terms of the treaty.[53] It was to be a very one sided inpretation of autonomy that Sparta enforced. The Boetian League was broken up on the one hand while the Spartan dominated Peloponesian League was somehow excepted. Further, Sparta did not consider autonomy included the right of a city to choose democracy over Sparta's preferred form of government oligachy.[54] In the 383 BCE an appeal from two cities of the Chalkidice and of the King of Macedon gave Sparta a pretext to break up the Chalkidian League headed by Olynthus). After several years of fighting Olynthus was defeated and the cities of the Chalkidice were enrolled into the Peloponesian League. The real beneficiary of this conflict was Macedon, though Paul Cartledge considers it to be indulging in hindsight to blame Sparta for thus enabling the rise of Philip II.[55]

In 382 BCE Phoebidas, while leading an Spartan army north against Olynthus made a detour to Thebes and seized the he Kadmeia, the citadel of Thebes. The leader of the anti-Spartan faction was executed after a show trial, and a narrow clique of pro Spartan partisans was placed in power in Thebes and other Boeotian cities. It was a flagerent breach of the Peace of Antalcidas.[56] It was the seizure of the Kadmeia that led to Theban rebellion and the resulting war. Sparta started the war with the strategic initiative, however Sparta failed to achieve its aims.[57] Early on, a botched attack on Piraeus by the Spartan commander Sphodrias undermined Sparta's position by driving Athens into the arms of Thebes.[58]. Sparta then met defeat at sea (the Battle of Naxos) and on land (the Battle of Tegyra) and failed to prevent the reestablishment of the Boeotian League and creation of the second Athenian League.[59]

In 371 BCE a fresh peace congress was summoned at Sparta to ratify the Peace of Callias. Again the Thebans refused to renounce their Boeotian hegemony, and the Spartan's sent a force under King Cleombrotus in an attempt to enforce Theban acceptance. When the Thebans gave battle at Leuctra it was more out of brave despair than hope.[60] However it was Sparta that was defeated and this, along the death of King Cleombrotus dealt a crushing blow to Spartan military prestige.[61] The result of the battle was to transfer supremacy from Sparta to Thebes.

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