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.
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.
Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, with its recorded history spanning over 3,400 years and its earliest human presence starting somewhere between the 11th and 7th millennium BC.
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. Thucydides has been dubbed the father of "scientific history" by those who accept his claims to have applied strict standards of impartiality and evidence-gathering and analysis of cause and effect, without reference to intervention by the deities, as outlined in his introduction to his work.
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.
In Ancient Greece, a deme or demos was a suburb of Athens or a subdivision of Attica, the region of Greece surrounding Athens. Demes as simple subdivisions of land in the countryside seem to have existed in the 6th century BC and earlier, but did not acquire particular significance until the reforms of Cleisthenes in 508 BC. In those reforms, enrollment in the citizen-lists of a deme became the requirement for citizenship; prior to that time, citizenship had been based on membership in a phratry, or family group. At this same time, demes were established in the city of Athens itself, where they had not previously existed; in all, at the end of Cleisthenes' reforms, Attica was divided into 139 demes to which one should add Berenikidai, established in 224/223 BC, Apollonieis and Antinoeis (126/127). The establishment of demes as the fundamental units of the state weakened the gene, or aristocratic family groups, that had dominated the phratries.
The city of Athens during the classical period of Ancient Greece was the major urban center of the notable polis (city-state) of the same name, located in Attica, Greece, leading the Delian League in the Peloponnesian War against Sparta and the Peloponnesian League. Athenian democracy was established in 508 BC under Cleisthenes following the tyranny of Isagoras. This system remained remarkably stable, and with a few brief interruptions remained in place for 180 years, until 322 BC. The peak of Athenian hegemony was achieved in the 440s to 430s BC, known as the Age of Pericles.
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 elevated to the rank of admiral after fighting in the Battle of Salamis.
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.
The "Constitution of the Athenians", also known as "On the Athenian State", is a short treatise on the government and society of classical Athens. It was preserved amongst the minor works of Xenophon, though the scholarly consensus is that he did not write it. Its date and authorship have been the subject of much dispute.
Xenophon of Athens was an ancient Greek philosopher, historian, soldier, mercenary, and student of Socrates. As a soldier, Xenophon became commander of the Ten Thousand at about 30, with noted military historian Theodore Ayrault Dodge saying of him, “the centuries since have devised nothing to surpass the genius of this warrior.” He established the precedent for many logistical operations and was among the first to use flanking maneuvers, feints and attacks in depth. He was among the greatest commanders of antiquity. As a historian, Xenophon is known for recording the history of his time, the late-5th and early-4th centuries BC, in such works as the Hellenica, which covered the final seven years and the aftermath of the Peloponnesian War, thus representing a thematic continuation of Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War.
Donald Kagan is an American historian and classicist at Yale University specializing in ancient Greece, notable for his four-volume history of the Peloponnesian War. He formerly taught in the Department of History at Cornell University. At present, Kagan is considered among the foremost American scholars of Greek history.
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.
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.
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.
Plutarch, later named, upon becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus, was a Greek biographer and essayist, known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia. He is classified as a Middle Platonist. Plutarch's surviving works were written in Greek, but intended for both Greek and Roman readers.
The ecclesia or ekklesia was the principal assembly of the democracy of ancient Athens. It was the popular assembly, open to all male citizens as soon as they qualified for citizenship. In 594 BC, Solon allowed all Athenian citizens to participate, regardless of class, even the thetes. The assembly was responsible for declaring war, military strategy and electing the strategoi and other officials. It was responsible for nominating and electing magistrates, thus indirectly electing the members of the Areopagus. It had the final say on legislation and the right to call magistrates to account after their year of office. A typical meeting of the Assembly probably contained around 6000 people, out of a total citizen population of 30,000–60,000. It would have been difficult, however, for non-wealthy people outside the urban center of Athens to attend until payments for attendance were introduced in the 390s. It originally met once every month, but later met three or four times per month. The agenda for the ekklesia was established by the Boule, the popular council. Votes were taken by a show of hands, counting of stones and voting using broken pottery.
Ostracism was a procedure under the Athenian democracy in which any citizen could be expelled from the city-state of Athens for ten years. While some instances clearly expressed popular anger at the citizen, ostracism was often used preemptively. It was used as a way of neutralizing someone thought to be a threat to the state or potential tyrant. It has been called an "honourable exile" by scholar P. J. Rhodes. The word "ostracism" continues to be used for various cases of social shunning.
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.
Sybaris was an important city of Magna Graecia. It was situated on the Gulf of Taranto, in Southern Italy, between two rivers, the Crathis (Crati) and the Sybaris (Coscile).
Magna Graecia was the name given by the Romans to the coastal areas of Southern Italy in the present-day regions of Campania, Apulia, Basilicata, Calabria and Sicily that were extensively populated by Greek settlers; particularly the Achaean settlements of Croton, and Sybaris, and to the north, the settlements of Cumae and Neapolis. The settlers who began arriving in the 8th century BC brought with them their Hellenic civilization, which was to leave a lasting imprint on Italy, such as in the culture of ancient Rome. Most notably the Roman poet Ovid referred to the south of Italy as Magna Graecia in his poem Fasti.
The Gulf of Taranto is a gulf of the Ionian Sea, in Southern Italy.
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 League's modern name derives from its official meeting place, the island of Delos, where congresses were held in the temple and where the treasury stood until, in a symbolic gesture, Pericles moved it to Athens in 454 BC.
The Peloponnesian War was an ancient Greek war fought by the Delian League led by Athens against the Peloponnesian League 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 attempt 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.
Pericles was a prominent and influential Greek statesman, orator and general (strategos) of Athens during its golden age – specifically the time between the Persian and Peloponnesian wars. He was descended, through his mother, from the powerful and historically influential Alcmaeonid family, the same family from which had issued Cleisthenes, the man credited by Herodotus with introducing Greece's first democracy. Pericles had such a profound influence on Athenian society that Thucydides, a contemporary historian, acclaimed him 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", though the period thus denoted can include times as early as the Persian Wars, or as late as the next century.
This article concerns the period 449 BC – 440 BC.
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 successful democratic resistance to that 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 commanded along with Alcibiades and others at several critical Athenian naval victories.
Alcibiades, son of Cleinias, from the deme of Scambonidae, 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.
Kleon 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. His contemporaries, the historian Thucydides and the comedic playwright Aristophanes, both represent him as an unscrupulous, warmongering demagogue, but both of them had strong motives to present Cleon unfavorably.
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.
Idomeneus of Lampsacus was a friend and disciple of Epicurus.
Although long walls were built at several locations in ancient Greece, notably Corinth and Megara, the term Long Walls generally refers to the walls that connected Athens to its ports at Piraeus and Phalerum. Built in several phases, they provided a secure connection to the sea even during times of siege. The walls were about 6 km in length, initially constructed in the mid 5th century BC, destroyed by the Spartans in 403 BC after Athens' defeat in the Peloponnesian War, and rebuilt again with Persian support during the Corinthian War in 395-391 BC. The Long Walls were a key element of Athenian military strategy, since they provided the city with a constant link to the sea and thwarted sieges conducted by land alone.
Lamachus was an Athenian general in the Peloponnesian War. He commanded as early as 435 BCE, and was prominent by the mid 420s. Aristophanes caricatured him in The Acharnians and subsequently honoured his memory in The Frogs. He was one of the three generals placed in command of the Sicilian Expedition.
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 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 BC, 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.