The Plague of Athens and the Cult of Asclepius

Social movements often arise in times of sudden changes and social unrest, becoming a source of spiritual and political empowerment. Abstract During the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta, several waves of a plague killed an estimated one-third of the civilian Athenian population and one-fourth of its army. Thucydides account of the plague (430-426 BCE)[…]

The Plague in Ancient Athens

The city-state of Sparta, and much of the eastern Mediterranean, was also struck by the disease. Introduction The Plague of Athens was a devastating epidemic that ravaged the city-state of Athens in ancient Greece in 430 B.C.E., during the second year of the Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.E.), when an Athenian victory still seemed within reach.[…]

The Oligarchic Coup in Athens, 411 BCE

The movement toward oligarchy was led by a number of prominent and wealthy Athenians. Introduction The Athenian coup of 411 BC was the result of a revolution that took place during the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. The coup overthrew the democratic government of ancient Athens and replaced it with a short-lived oligarchy known[…]

Tyranny as the Inevitable Outcome of Democracy in Ancient Athens

Power belonged to anyone who could harness the collective will of the citizens directly by appealing to their emotions. Introduction Plato, one of the earliest thinkers and writers about democracy, predicted that letting people govern themselves would eventually lead the masses to support the rule of tyrants. When I tell my college-level philosophy students that[…]

Culture and Society in Classical Athens

Athenian prominence in the story of Classical Greece is no accident. Introduction As mentioned in the previous chapter, the prosperity and cultural achievements of Athens in the mid-fifth century B.C. have led to this period being called a Golden Age in the city-state’s history. The state of the surviving ancient evidence, which consistently comes more[…]

The Life of Alcibiades: Liar, Coward, and Traitor of Ancient Athens

During the course of the Peloponnesian War, Alcibiades changed his allegiance on several occasions. Introduction Alcibiades Cleiniou Scambonides, meaning Alcibiades, son of Cleinias, from the deme of Skambonidai; c. 450–404 B.C.E.), was a prominent Athenian statesman, orator, and general. He was the last famous member of his mother’s aristocratic family, the Alcmaeonidae, which fell from[…]

The Peloponnesian War and Its Aftermath at Athens

The losses that Athens suffered in the Peloponnesian War show the sad consequences of the repeated unwillingness to negotiate peace. Introduction Athens and Sparta had cooperated in the fight against Xerxes’ great invasion of Greece in 480–479 B.C., but by the middle of the fifth century B.C. relations between the two most powerful states of[…]

The Plague at Athens, 430-427 BCE

The epidemic killed upwards of 1/3 of the population; a population which numbered 250,000-300,000 in the 5th century BCE. Introduction In the 2nd year of the Peloponnesian War, 430 BCE, an outbreak of plague erupted in Athens. The illness would persist throughout scattered parts of Greece and the eastern Mediterranean until finally dying out in[…]

Athens and Persia: The Peace of Callias, 5th Century BCE

Even if a treaty by this name was never drawn up, it is true that there was an end to the hostilities between Athens and Persia in the mid-5th century BCE. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The Peace of Callias (aka Kallias) refers to a possible peace treaty made in the mid-5th century BCE between Athens and Persia following the Persian Wars. The[…]

The Delian League: Revenge and Hellenic Liberation

The alliance’s name derives from the island of Delos, where the League originally housed its treasury. By Christopher PlaneauxLecturer in Classical StudiesIndiana University Origins Down to the Battle of Eurymedon Introduction The modern term Delian League refers to the primarily maritime συμμᾰχία or symmachy (offensive-defensive alliance) among various Greek poleis, which emerged after the second Mede invasion of the[…]

The Peloponnesian League and Spartan Dominance

The League gave Sparta protection from uprisings within its own borders and eventually secured its dominance in the region. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction The Peloponnesian League (c. 550 BCE – c. 366 BCE) was a loose confederation of Greek city-states led by Sparta. The League was the oldest and longest-lasting political association in the ancient[…]

Thucydides on Brasidas: The Most Athenian of Spartans

Thucydides placed Brasidas’s Homeric ending in a singularly admirable light. By Nathan A. JenningsNATO Planner, Afghanistan In his seminal work, The Peloponnesian War, the ancient historian Thucydides employs numerous characters from the storied conflict as devices to reveal competing aspects of human nature. Among the varied personalities exposed by the tensions of war, the Spartan commander[…]

Draco’s Law Code in Ancient Athens

The laws aided and legitimized the political power of the aristocracy and allowed them to consolidate their control of the land and poor. By Antonios Loizides Introduction Draco was an aristocrat who in 7th century BCE Athens was handed the task of composing a new body of laws. We have no particular clues concerning his[…]

From the “National” to the Political Consciousness in 6th Century BCE Athens

Constructing a “national” identity of the Athenian inhabitants during the tyrannical governance of Peisistratos and his sons. This paper addresses the construction of a “national” identity of the Athenian inhabitants during the tyrannical governance of Peisistratos and his sons (561/0-511/0 BCE)[1] mainly through a series of religious practices, such as the transfer of cults from[…]