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By Donald Kagan

Why did the Peace of Nicias fail to reconcile Athens and Sparta? within the 3rd quantity of his landmark four-volume historical past of the Peloponnesian struggle, Donald Kagan examines the years among the signing of the peace treaty and the destruction of the Athenian day trip to Sicily in 413 B.C. The significant determine within the narrative is the Athenian flesh presser and basic Nicias, whose regulations formed the treaty and whose army innovations performed a huge function within the assault opposed to Sicily.

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A PEACE 31 I f the attractiveness of the Spartan all iance was once a mistake, it continues to be to invite what else Athens may have performed. at the as­ sumption that Spartan hostility and jealousy have been absolute to in keeping with­ sist and that lasting. peace used to be most unlikely with out a significant switch within the stability of strength, a unprecedented, might be targeted chance appeared to manifest itself. The Athenians may possibly inspire a brand new coalition led by way of Argos and joined through the opposite democratic states of the Peloponnesus, El is and Mantinea. they can subscribe to this new alliance themselves, ship a military into the Peloponnesus, and strength a conflict i n which the percentages might now not be energy­ totally opposed to them . they can enhance these odds by way of distract­ ing the Spartans with helot raids l au nched from Pylos and raids on coastal cities from the ocean. A victory in any such conflict may most likely placed an finish to the Peioponnesian League and to Spartan strength, because the Theban victory at Leuctra did fifty years later. A defeat, even though disagreeable, wouldn't be a catastrophe. any such coverage quickly appealed to a couple Athenians, yet now not in forty two 1 . War-weariness was once nonetheless the domi nant feeling and N icias nonetheless the good determine in A thenian politics. Cleon m ight have selected such an competitive coverage, as he had in four 2 five , and he could have had the persuasive skill and stature to problem N icias. yet Cleon was once useless, and he had no successor of equivalent skill . 35 If an competitive coverage was once very unlikely in forty two 1 , couldn't the Athenians have made a greater cut price? at the very least they can have insisted at the recovery of Amphipolis prior to making the al­ liance and returning the Spartan prisoners . three 6 it truly is, even if, unli kely that the Spartans could ship a military to Thrace suffi­ cient to catch Amph ipolis, inspite of Athenian help. they'd now not performed so throughout the Arch idamian struggle and could without doubt 35Hyperbolus is handled in previous Comedy because the successor of Cleon. See Aris­ toph. Peace 679ff. and Frogs five 70. He seems to have antagonistic the Peace of Nicias (Peace nine I Sff. ) and usually to have supported an competitive coverage. See Gilbert, Beitrage, 209-2 1 five . the traditional w riters deal with him with a disdain they by no means exhibit Cleon and recommend that he used to be by no means so potent. Thucydides, for example, calls him a /-l0X(}T/(Jov liv(}(Jw1'COV, and says he was once ostracized Ouz 1'CovT/(Jiav "ai alaxvv1Jv r:ij� ]l6A. EW� . . . ( S. 7 three . three ). Alcibiades, whose relations had shut ties with the Spartans and had as soon as been their proxenoi in Athens, had just recently been currying want with the Spartans and had now not but became opposed to the peace (5. forty three . 2 ; 6. S9. 2). 36Such is the recommendation of Grote, V I I , S. 32 THE UNRA VEUNG OF THE PEACE no longer achieve this now , whilst the Peloponnesus used to be i n tunnoil. to provide an alliance i n alternate for the Spartans' turning in Am­ phipolis may purely emphasize Sparta's failure to hold out her commitments, anger the Athenians , and hasten a breach . I f neither an competitive coverage nor more durable bargaining have been beautiful offerings, there remained another choice: the Athe­ nians may perhaps refuse the alliance w ithout breaking the Peace of N icias and make allowance occasions to take their path.

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