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The Ultimate Result Of The Formation Of The Delian League Was Paper

Words: 2185, Paragraphs: 16, Pages: 8

Paper type: Essay , Subject: Ancient Greece

This essay sample on The Ultimate Result Of The Formation Of The Delian League Was provides all necessary basic info on this matter, including the most common “for and against” arguments. Below are the introduction, body and conclusion parts of this essay.

According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica1 federalism is a mode of political organisation that unites independent states within a larger political framework while still allowing each state to maintain its own political integrity. While the distribution of power between states and the federal authority will vary from system to system, all federal systems preserve the ability of state governments to decide matters of local importance without interference from the federal superstructure. Federalism is a way of achieving unity without force.

After Athens was defeated by Sparta in 404BC, Sparta and its allies gathered together to decide the fate of Athens. Corinth and Thebes urged for the complete destruction of the city and for all Athenians to be sold into slavery. Athens’ enemies wanted to make sure that Athens did not return as a major power in Greece. However, Sparta decided that because of Athens’ past service to Greece and the Greek city states in the Persian Wars, to be lenient and ordered that the Athenian city walls and walls protecting the Piraeus were to be destroyed and for Athens to lose all its foreign possessions2. They also ordered that the Athenian navy was to be reduced to just twelve triremes and Athens had to become an ally to Sparta and pledge to follow Spartan leadership. From all of this two new concepts were to arise in fourth century Greece. Firstly, the concept of a common peace was to arise, which was the peace between all Greek States and secondly the concept of federalism, which was the formation of various leagues and alliances for mutual protection.

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After the surrender of Athens, Sparta became the undisputed major power among the Greek city states. Stripped of her empire and navy, Athens looked to the establishment of leagues to ensure its survival and hopes of becoming a major power again, as well as to ensure the common peace. But it wasn’t going to be easy for Athens because it had become a city under the political control of its more powerful neighbour Sparta and a period of Spartan Hegemony was to follow. According to Thomas. R. Martin, Ancient Greece, in Athens the Spartan general, Lysander, who defeated the city, pulled down the democratic government and established an oligarchy, this caused many members of the democratic factions to flee the city and raise armies in Corinth and Thebes.

In the period of Spartan Hegemony we see Sparta trying to establish an empire of her own. Shortly after the defeat of Athens, Sparta entered into an alliance with Cyrus, who claimed the Persian throne against his brother, Artaxerxes the second, who had also claimed the throne. Under the leadership of Sparta, Cyrus managed to make it all the way to the centre of Mesopotamia and the capital itself. But Cyrus was killed leaving the Spartans trapped in hostile territory with no means of escape; her only escape route was to make defensive alliances with the Greek city states of Asia Minor which it did3. In these defensive alliances we see Sparta trying to ensure the common peace and we also to a small extent see the unification of some of the Greek states. Even though the alliances were defensive and for Sparta’s benefit, a hint of federalism does exist here.

The period of Spartan Hegemony was followed by the Corinthian War from 395 to 386BC. Federalism is seen here in the alliance of Corinth, Argos, Thebes and Athens against Sparta. Angered by Sparta’s tyrannical overlordship in Greece after the Peloponnesian war and the defeat of Athens, several Greek states took advantage of Sparta’s involvement in the war with Persia to challenge Spartan supremacy4. With Persian aid from Artaxerxes the second, Athens was able to build a fleet, refortify her port, and eventually recover the islands of Lemnos, Scyros and Imbros. Unable to fight a war on all fronts, Sparta soon withdrew her forces from Asia Minor and Sparta began negotiations with Persia to bring about peace and to halt the Persian support of the rebellious Greek city states.

Sparta with the help of a Spartan agent in Persia, Antalcidas, persuaded Artaxerxes to agree to the so called King’s Peace, or Peace of Antalcidas, but the terms were those of the Persian King and not that of Sparta’s5. Persia proposed that Cyprus and the Greek city states in Asia Minor were to be returned to Persia, while the Athenians were forced to give up their conquests except Lemnos, Imbros and Scryos. The Persians also proposed that the Greek city states except those in Asia Minor were to be independent thus eliminating combinations such as the Theban dominated Boeotian league, which had also fought against Sparta. Sparta accepted the terms of the treaty but interpreted its terms of peace as an excuse to justify interference in the Greek city states. Sparta could use the terms of the treaty as an excuse to dismantle enemies whose organisation could be seen as a violation of peace in Greece6.

The King’s peace also gave Sparta space to expand its actions and in 383BC Sparta attacked Olynthus. However, on passing by Thebes the Spartan army was invited into the city by a group of pro-Spartan citizens. The Spartan commander, Phoebidas took advantage of the situation and proceeded to seize the citadel of Thebes. This action was to create a violent hatred to Sparta in the Greek world. In turn the Athenians were to ally themselves with the Thebans and the establishment of the Athenian Naval Confederacy in 378BC occurs7. Like Athens’ alliance during the Corinthian war this was also an act of federalism.

The establishment of the Athenian naval confederacy may have been due to the fear of Spartan revenge after the Athenian support for Thebes and the part it played in the liberation of Thebes’ citadel, but it is probably more likely that Athens simply used the anti-Spartan attitude in the hope to gain a foothold on which to restore her once formidable empire. With the establishment of the Athenian naval confederacy Athens was careful to guarantee that the alliance would not turn into a second Delian league that was completely dominated by Athens.

In the naval confederacy combined military actions of Athens and its allies could only be approved by the Athenian people’s court after the majority of a federal diet, of which Athens was no member, was in favour. Another difference between the Delian league and the new Athenian naval confederacy was that Athens did not have permission to establish cleruchies, or loose soldiers on the territory of its allies. Athens could also not demand tributes, the necessary contributions were completely voluntary. These measures made the Athenian naval confederacy from the beginning not suited as an instrument for new Athenian imperialism8. For many of the Greek states there was no rush to join the Athenian naval confederacy, only when the confederacy showed its effectiveness by defeating Sparta at sea during the battle of Naxos in 376BC did the alliance quickly gain members9.

At first most cities were happy with their membership of the confederacy, but soon Athens showed its real intentions. Athens also broke one of her promises by installing a garrison on the island of Cephalleia. The justification of the alliance, at first a democratic freedom fight against Sparta the oppressor, seemed to have lost its justification. Thebes also had become power hungry and it reclaimed its leadership over Boetia by reviving the Boetian league10.

Thebes ambitions did not stop there and a war followed ending in 371BC with a Spartan defeat at Leuctra. Up until then the Spartan army was seen as almost invincible. The Theban victory was due to the tactical genius of Epaminodas. He realised that the problem or weakness of the Spartan phalanx was that it had always tended to curl to the right, as the hoplites instinctively moved to the right to gain more protection from the shield of the hoplite beside them. So Epaminodas introduced the “sloping phalanx”11 which was deeper at the left wing. The result was a classic encirclement of the enemy once the stronger left wing had defeated the weaker right wing of the enemy. After the battle of Leuctra a period of Theban Hegemony was to come. It is also important to note that the Athenian naval confederacy was still intact after the Spartan defeat.

One of the Theban Hegemony’s most permanent legacies according to V. Ehrenberg, The Greek State, was the export of the federal principle and that the establishment of the Arcadian league is concrete evidence of the way Thebes in her expansion in the Aegean, capitalized on Athenian unpopularity by stealing Athens’ allies and institutions12. Although Theban Hegemony was to follow, Athens still made a bid for diplomatic leadership to fill the vacuum left by Sparta’s fall. It was not so much an attempt to incorporate Sparta’s allies into the naval confederacy by Athens but to inherit the hegemony of the Peloponnese, which Thebes already had. Thebes found it convenient, as we see in the establishment of the Arcadian league, to encourage federalism13. The Thebans encouraged the federation of Arcadia in the hope that the Arcadian league would form a suitable diplomatic and strategic implement. In spite of Spartan wishes, in the latter Thebes was successful, although the league did prove to be rather too independent in spirit for Thebes’ liking. As federalism was a way of achieving unity without force Thebes saw herself as the leader of a united Hellas, as most probably Sparta and Athens did.

The establishment of Theban military supremacy was a source of fear to both Athens and Sparta, and so it seemed the logical move for the two states to combine in their opposition to Thebes14. By 369BC the Athenians and Spartans were in the field as allies, not dividing up their respective spheres by land and sea but each holding supreme command in turn. However, Sparta’s last hope to restore its power ended with the great battle of Mantinea in 362BC. Thebes had once again managed to defeat the Spartan phalanx, but this time it had cost them the death of their most influential leader, Epaminodas15. It seems evident that none of the three great states could gain leadership again let alone leadership of a united Hellas, Sparta was completely broken and defeated, Athens had problems and discontent within her confederacy and Thebes was in general hated and had lost her most influential leader.

According to Sir Franck Adcock and D.J. Mosley, Diplomacy in Ancient Greece, what also became clear was that the principal collection of independent cities had to be replaced by other forms of government. It seemed that the history of Greece was to repeat itself, everyone attacking each other in a bid to become the most powerful city. The result was that several times confederations were formed by cities who felt threatened, as we have seen to a certain extent. In the early 350’s BC Thebes was completely losing her power and an argument with her neighbouring city, Phocis, resulted in a Sacred War, in which Thebes was hit hard. Phocis seized the Delphi temple treasures, hired mercenaries and fought for its existence. The war was only ended by the intervention of Philip of Macedon in 346 BC16. Soon the disintegration of the Boetian league increased and Theban Hegemony was completely over. The Athenians also gave over their league and Greece had once again become a nation of independent non-allied states. In less than two decades, those city states would disappear forever as political units, to be replaced by a kingdom under Macedonian rule and Philip II. Philip’s establishment of the Corinthian League was to be the building of the bridge that led to the federal state17.

We can conclude that fourth century Greece is a period littered with alliances. There is a great deal of federalism in the fourth century BC and its importance is that it is a kind of alternative to an extent to imperialism, it is a way of achieving peace without force. Leagues and alliances were all attempts to ensure a common peace with one of a possible three candidates wanting to be at the helm of it all to an extent. But neither Sparta, Thebes or Athens was to lead Greece as a federal state and achieve unity as Macedon and Rome later did. The leagues were an offensive as well as a defensive alliance, as seen in the Athenian naval confederacy. In answer to the question I believe that federalism did play an important role in the fourth century and it paved a way for a common peace under Macedonian rule with Philip and later with Alexander the Great, who expressed unity at its highest level by incorporating Persians in administrative roles in his vast empire which stretched from Greece to India.

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This academic paper is composed by Samuel. He studies Biological Sciences at Ohio State University. All the content of this work reflects his personal knowledge about The Ultimate Result Of The Formation Of The Delian League Was and can be used only as a source for writing a similar paper.

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