Thucydides' Theater

Thucydides' PurposeEdit

[I.1] Thucydides the Athenian wrote the history of the war fought between Athens and Sparta, beginning the account at the very outbreak of the war, in the belief that it was going to be a great war and more worth writing about than any of those which had taken place in the past. My belief was based on the fact that the two sides were at the very height of their power and preparedness, and I saw, too, that the rest of the Hellenic world was committed to one side or the other; even those who were not immediately engaged were deliberating on the courses which they were to take later. This was the greatest disturbance in the history of the Hellenes, affecting also a large part of the non-Hellenic world, and indeed, I might almost say, the whole of mankind. For though I have found it impossible, because of its remoteness in time, to acquire a really precise knowledge of the distant past or even of the history preceding our own period, yet, after looking back into it as far as I can, all the evidence leads me to conclude that these perils were not great periods either in warfare or in anything else.

How the War BeganEdit

Epidamnus, a colony of Corcyra, was pressed by its own exiled former leaders. When Corcyra refused aid to Epidamnus, instead supporting the exiled party, the Epidamnians consulted an oracle which instructed them to submit instead to Corinth, a city of Peloponnesus and the original founder of both cities. Corcyra and Corinth went to war. Both cities sent envoys to Athens to request aid.

Thucydides on the true cause of the war:Edit

War began when the Athenians and the Peloponnesians broke the Thirty Years Truce which had been made after the capture of Euboea. As to the reasons why they broke the truce, I propose first to give an account of the causes of complaint which they had against each other and of the specific instances where their interests clashed: this is in order that there should be no doubt in anyone's mind about what led to this great war falling upon the Hellenes. But the real reasoning for the war is, in my opinion, most likely to be disguised by such an argument. What made war inevitable was the growth of Athenian power and the fear which this caused in Sparta.Thuc 1.23.

433 BCE: The Corcyrean Debate.Edit

In which the Corcyreans, fearing imminent attack by Corinth, plead to ally with Athens, and Athens accepts.Thuc 1.31-43

432 BCE: The Siege of Potidaea and the Corynthian DebateEdit

Potidaea, a colony of Corinth and tributary of Athens, revolted against Athenian rule. Athens put down the revolt and Corinth supported it. Many cities sent envoys to Sparta (Lacedaemon) to denounce Athens. Thucyides omits most of the ensuing debates, and zeroes in on Corinth speaks last, and the Athenian response, reminding Sparta of their contributions against the Persians. Nevertheless the Spartans declared war and the Thirty Years' Truce was broken.