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.
resources. Realistic hopes of defeating Athens, even after the Sicilian disaster, depended on the possibility of obtaining support from the only source rich enough to produce success, the treasury of the Persian Empire. To gain Persian support, however, the Spartans would have to come to terms with the Great King, and that promised to be no easy task. They took great pride in their reputation as leaders of the Greek resistance to Persia, which dated from the sixth century. 75 In fact, they had
could ambush it. Instead, rain and fog confused and scat tered his fleet as it approached the island. In fact, he had stumbled on the Athenian fleet of Charminus. The Athenians were entirely unaware that Astyochus had ever left Miletus. The only Spartan ships they expected were the twenty-seven of Antisthenes. Although caught by surprise and without their full numbers, the Athenians characteristi cally attacked.8 3 Advancing against what turned out to be the left wing of Astyochus' fleet, they
as we have seen, was the hostility of Alcibiades and the threat it posed to his own safety . Apparently, Phrynichus had not yet learned o f Alcibiades' flight from the Peloponnesian camp and assumed that Astyochus could easily lay hands on the Athenian exile. 72 The stratagem, therefore, would have been doomed from the first if Astyochus had merely done the obvious and ignored the letter about which he could do nothing. Instead, he took the initiative and went to Magnesia to see Tissaphernes and
of the empire to try to establish oligarchies in each place. JJ The conspirators clearly believed that this policy was the way to save the empire and carry on the war. Peisander and his group were successful in setting up oligarchies in the imperial cities through which they passed. They were even able to collect some hoplites along the way to help them with their work · in Athens. J4 But the only instance of such a constitutional change described in some detail by Thucydides did not work out
Athens, were the majority; they had the greater resources , and they alone could retain control of the empire and the tribute that flowed from it; the city had revolted from them, not they from the city. With a strong base at Samos they could hold off the enemy and force the oligarchs to restore democracy to Athens. Even if these hopes were too optimistic, they could always find a safe place to settle elsewhere, as long as they retained their great fleet. These and similar assertions encouraged