The Fall of the Athenian Empire (A New History of the Peloponnesian War)
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In the fourth and final volume of his magisterial history of the Peloponnesian War, Donald Kagan examines the period from the destruction of Athens' Sicilian expedition in September of 413 B.C. to the Athenian surrender to Sparta in the spring of 404 B.C. Through his study of this last decade of the war, Kagan evaluates the performance of the Athenian democracy as it faced its most serious challenge. At the same time, Kagan assesses Thucydides' interpretation of the reasons for Athens’ defeat and the destruction of the Athenian Empire.
the Aegean was still too strong to challenge in peacetime. Nor should we forget that the coast of Asia Minor was a very small part of the concerns of the Great King, who had troubles and responsibilities all over a vast empire. The perspective in Susa or Persepolis was very different from that in Athens, Sparta, or even Sardis and Dascylium, where Persia's west ernmost satraps had their palaces. The outbreak of a major war in Greece in 43 I , however, presented the Persians with another occasion
assaull on Ihe major aspects of this interpretation (Historio VIII [ 1 959], 6 1 -79) is met successfully by Andrewes (His torio X [ 1g6 I ], 3, n. 6) and Meiggs-Lewis (GHI, 202-203). There have been several suggestions for differem dates ranging from 42 2/2 1 to a little before 4 1 5 . Lewis has evaluated them and has also made good use of evidence from the Persian Empire, including a new tablet from Babylon. He concludes: "I do not think that the current dating of the treaty is obviously
what really occurred was not the inevitable outcome of superhuman forces but the result of decisions by human beings and suggesting that both the decisions and their outcomes could well have 6 1 . 1 1 . 2 . To avoid prejudicing the question, I have not used my own translation but that of C. F. Smith in the Loeb edition, which is reliable and attempts to stay closer to the text than most. The Greek in the emphasized portion reads: pg.8£wo; av I.LC:lXn KpaToUV'TEo; EtAOV. '2.65. I 3: 1TO:VU av
temper their language to suit those moderates. At some time after their arrival , the ambassadors addressed the Athenian assembly. Z The heart of their presentation was that only with Persian help could Athens be saved and prevail over the Pelo ponnesians, and this could be achieved only by the return of Alcibiades and an alteration of the constitution. IfThucydides' language is precise, it is worth noting that the terms used to describe the change in mode 'For a good discussion of the
assumption is not necessary. After all, Dieitrephes had THE FOUR HUNDRED IN POWER 1 63 the extreme wing, and Theramenes and probably Thymochares were moderates. This proportion on the board of generals seems to be an accurate representation of the distribution of power within the ruling group. The extremists held the upper hand, but they must make some concessions to the others. The treatment of potential dissidents and enemies within Athens may have reflected the same division and com