Thucydides, son of Melesias ( // ; Greek : Θουκυδίδης) was a prominent politician of ancient Athens and the leader for a number of years of the powerful conservative faction. While it is likely he is related to the later historian and general Thucydides, son of Olorus, the details are uncertain; maternal grandfather and grandson fits the available evidence.
Thucydides was born in the deme of Alopeke (Ἀλωπεκή) of Athens. The exact year of his birth is unknown, but his family was noble and he was a relative of Cimon, the charismatic general and leader of the conservative party. After Cimon's death, he succeeded him in the leadership of the conservatives and decided to exert a vehement opposition against Pericles, who was leading Athens at the time.
Thucydides represented the thorough-going conservative party at Athens; their views are most clearly represented by "the Old Oligarch" in his Constitution of the Athenians , which has come down to us among the works of Xenophon.Donald Kagan suggests that Thucydides' ultimate goal, which he could not state openly as doing so would alienate the pro-democratic majority, was to roll back the constitutional changes made by Ephialtes, reinstating the more aristocratic and conservative government that had prevailed in Cimon's day.
Thucydides' political strength reached its peak in the wake of the First Peloponnesian War and the reorganization of the Athenian empire in the early 440s BC. Thucydides developed a new and effective political tactic by having his supporters sit together in the assembly, increasing their apparent strength and giving them a united voice.Kagan asserts that this tactic helped Thucydides mount a concerted opposition to Pericles which brought to light ideological differences among Pericles' supporters.
In 444 BC, the conservative and the democratic parties confronted each other in a fierce battle. Though some modern scholars doubtthe details of Plutarch's account, according to Plutarch, Thucydides, the new leader of the conservatives, accused Pericles, the leader of the democrats, of profligacy, criticizing the way Pericles spent the money for his ambitious building plan. Thucydides managed to incite the passions of the Athenian Assembly in his favor, but when Pericles took the floor, the atmosphere immediately changed. Pericles proposed to pay for all the construction from his own purse, under the term that all these monuments would belong to him and not to Athens. The public applauded his stance and Thucydides suffered an unexpected defeat from the charismatic orator. As a result of his failure in confronting Pericles, Thucydides was ostracized for ten years, in 442 BC, and Pericles once again stood unchallenged in the Athenian political arena. Plutarch relates that, when Thucydides was asked by Sparta's king, Archidamus II, if he or Pericles was a better fighter, Thucydides answered without any hesitation that Pericles was a better fighter, because, even when he is defeated, he achieves to convince the audience that he won.
After being ostracized, Thucydides is said to have traveled to Sybaris, a city of Magna Graecia on the Gulf of Taranto in Italy, or Aegina, but this is unconfirmed.
Thucydides is mentioned in The Wasps by Aristophanes,as an example of a defendant who is silenced by the overwhelming power of his accuser's (Pericles') arguments.
While in Athens, Thucydides is also said to have accused Pericles' personal friend, Anaxagoras, of atheism and sympathy for the Persians.
The Delian League, founded in 478 BC, was an association of Greek city-states, with the number of members numbering between 150 and 330 under the leadership of Athens, whose purpose was to continue fighting the Persian Empire after the Greek victory in the Battle of Plataea at the end of the Second Persian invasion of Greece.
The Peloponnesian War was an ancient Greek war fought between the Delian League, which was led by Athens, and the Peloponnesian League, which was led by Sparta. Historians have traditionally divided the war into three phases. In the first phase, the Archidamian War, Sparta launched repeated invasions of Attica, while Athens took advantage of its naval supremacy to raid the coast of the Peloponnese and attempted to suppress signs of unrest in its empire. This period of the war was concluded in 421 BC, with the signing of the Peace of Nicias. That treaty, however, was soon undermined by renewed fighting in the Peloponnese. In 415 BC, Athens dispatched a massive expeditionary force to attack Syracuse, Sicily; the attack failed disastrously, with the destruction of the entire force in 413 BC. This ushered in the final phase of the war, generally referred to either as the Decelean War, or the Ionian War. In this phase, Sparta, now receiving support from the Achaemenid Empire, supported rebellions in Athens's subject states in the Aegean Sea and Ionia, undermining Athens's empire, and, eventually, depriving the city of naval supremacy. The destruction of Athens's fleet in the Battle of Aegospotami effectively ended the war, and Athens surrendered in the following year. Corinth and Thebes demanded that Athens should be destroyed and all its citizens should be enslaved, but Sparta refused.
Thucydides was an Athenian historian and general. His History of the Peloponnesian War recounts the fifth-century BC war between Sparta and Athens until the year 411 BC.
Pericles was a Greek politician and general during the Golden Age of Athens. He was prominent and influential in Athenian politics, particularly between the Greco-Persian Wars and the Peloponnesian War, and was acclaimed by Thucydides, a contemporary historian, as "the first citizen of Athens". Pericles turned the Delian League into an Athenian empire and led his countrymen during the first two years of the Peloponnesian War. The period during which he led Athens, roughly from 461 to 429 BC, is sometimes known as the "Age of Pericles", but the period thus denoted can include times as early as the Persian Wars or as late as the following century.
Thrasybulus was an Athenian general and democratic leader. In 411 BC, in the wake of an oligarchic coup at Athens, the pro-democracy sailors at Samos elected him as a general, making him a primary leader of the ultimately successful democratic resistance to the coup. As general, he was responsible for recalling the controversial nobleman Alcibiades from exile, and the two worked together extensively over the next several years. In 411 and 410, Thrasybulus was in command along with Alcibiades and others at several critical Athenian naval victories.
Alcibiades 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 prominence after the Peloponnesian War. He played a major role in the second half of that conflict as a strategic advisor, military commander, and politician.
Nicias was an Athenian politician and general during the period of the Peloponnesian War. Nicias was a member of the Athenian aristocracy and had inherited a large fortune from his father, which was invested in the silver mines around Attica's Mt. Laurium. Following the death of Pericles in 429 BC, he became the principal rival of Cleon and the democrats in the struggle for the political leadership of the Athenian state. He was a moderate in his political views and opposed the aggressive imperialism of the democrats. His principal aim was to conclude a peace with Sparta as soon as it could be obtained on terms favourable to Athens.
Cleon was an Athenian general during the Peloponnesian War. He was the first prominent representative of the commercial class in Athenian politics, although he was an aristocrat himself. He strongly advocated for an offensive war strategy and is remembered for being ruthless in carrying out his policies. He is often depicted in a negative way, predominantly by Thucydides and the comedic playwright Aristophanes, who both represent him as an unscrupulous, warmongering demagogue.
Phormio, the son of Asopius, was an Athenian general and admiral before and during the Peloponnesian War. A talented naval commander, Phormio commanded at several famous Athenian victories in 428 BC, and was honoured after his death with a statue on the acropolis and a state funeral. He is considered one of Athens' many great admirals, alongside Themistocles and Cimon.
Pleistoanax, also spelled Plistoanax, was Agiad king of Sparta from 458 to 409 BC. He was the leader of the peace party in Sparta at a time of violent confrontations against Athens for the hegemony over Greece.
Lacedaemonius was an Athenian general of the Philaid clan. He served Athens, notably in the naval Battle of Sybota against the Corinthians in 433 BC.
Cimon or Kimon was an Athenian statesman and general in mid-5th century BC Greece. He was the son of Miltiades, the victor of the Battle of Marathon. Cimon played a key role in creating the powerful Athenian maritime empire following the failure of the Persian invasion of Greece by Xerxes I in 480–479 BC. Cimon became a celebrated military hero and was elected to the rank of strategos after fighting in the Battle of Salamis.
The Samian War was an Ancient Greek military conflict between Athens and Samos. The war was initiated by Athens's intervention in a dispute between Samos and Miletus. When the Samians refused to break off their attacks on Miletus as ordered, the Athenians easily drove out the oligarchic government of Samos and installed a garrison in the city, but the oligarchs soon returned, with Persian support.
Ephialtes was an ancient Athenian politician and an early leader of the democratic movement there. In the late 460s BC, he oversaw reforms that diminished the power of the Areopagus, a traditional bastion of conservatism, and which are considered by many modern historians to mark the beginning of the radical democracy for which Athens would become famous. These powers included the scrutiny and control of office holders, and the judicial functions in state trials. He introduced pay for public officeholders, reduced the property qualifications for holding a public office, and created a new definition of citizenship. Ephialtes, however, would not live to participate in this new form of government for long. In 461 BC, he was assassinated, probably at the instigation of resentful oligarchs, and the political leadership of Athens passed to his deputy, Pericles.
The First Peloponnesian War was fought between Sparta as the leaders of the Peloponnesian League and Sparta's other allies, most notably Thebes, and the Delian League led by Athens with support from Argos. This war consisted of a series of conflicts and minor wars, such as the Second Sacred War. There were several causes for the war including the building of the Athenian long walls, Megara's defection and the envy and concern felt by Sparta at the growth of the Athenian Empire.
The Areopagite constitution is the modern name for a period in ancient Athens described by Aristotle in his Constitution of the Athenians. According to that work, the Athenian political scene was dominated, between the ostracism of Themistocles in the late 470s BC and the reforms of Ephialtes in 462 BC, by the Areopagus, a traditional court composed of former archons. Modern scholars have debated the existence of this phenomenon, with some concluding that Aristotle and his contemporaries invented it to explain Ephialtes' need to limit the Areopagus' powers, and arguing that the lack of concrete measures establishing the Areopagus' dominance shows that the Areopagite constitution is "palpably unhistorical". Other scholars, such as Donald Kagan, have countered that no concrete measures were necessary, as the Areopagus' dominance was established not through actual changes in the laws but through the prestige of its leading members. Aristotle specifically cites the Areopagites' distribution of money to the public as the citizen body prepared to abandon Athens in the face of the advancing Persian army.
Plato was an ancient Greek philosopher, the second of the trio of ancient Greeks including Socrates and Aristotle said to have laid the philosophical foundations of Western culture.
The Battle of the Eurymedon was a double battle, taking place both on water and land, between the Delian League of Athens and her Allies, and the Persian Empire of Xerxes I. It took place in either 469 or 466 BCE, in the vicinity of the mouth of the Eurymedon River in Pamphylia, Asia Minor. It forms part of the Wars of the Delian League, itself part of the larger Greco-Persian Wars.
The Wars of the Delian League were a series of campaigns fought between the Delian League of Athens and her allies, and the Achaemenid Empire of Persia. These conflicts represent a continuation of the Greco-Persian Wars, after the Ionian Revolt and the first and second Persian invasions of Greece.
The Affair of Epidamnus, also known as the Epidamnian Affair, is cited by the Ancient Greek historian Thucydides as one of the major immediate causes for the Peloponnesian War. The conflict began as a minor coup by a democratic faction of the city-state of Epidamnus, but eventually escalated into a major conflict between the cities of Athens and Corcyra on one side and the city of Corinth on the other. The culminating Battle of Sybota subsequently led to the Potidaean Affair and the Megarian Decree, both also major contributors to the final outbreak of hostilities between Athens and Sparta, beginning the Peloponnesian War.