A History of Greece: From the Time of Solon to 403 B.C

By George Grote; J. M. Mitchell et al. | Go to book overview

18 [XLVIII]

FROM THE BLOCKADE OF POITIDÆA DOWN TO THE END OF THE FIRST YEAR OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR

EVEN before the recent hostilities at Korkyra and Potidæa, it had been evident to reflecting Greeks that prolonged observance of the Thirty years' truce was becoming uncertain, and that the mingled hatred, fear, and admiration, which Athens inspired throughout Greece would prompt the Spartan confederacy to seize any favourable opening for breaking down the Athenian power. Accordingly not only the Samians when they revolted had applied to the confederacy for aid, but also the Lesbians had endeavoured to open negotiations with Sparta for a similar purpose, though the authorities to whom alone the proposition could have been communicated, since it long remained secret and was never executed, had given them no encouragement. 1

The affairs of Athens had been administered, under the ascendency of Periklês, without any view to extension of empire or encroachment upon others, though with constant reference to the probabilities of war, and with anxiety to keep the city in a condition to meet it.

The only known incident, wherein Athens had been brought into collision with a member of the Spartan confederacy prior to the Korkyræan dispute, was, her decree passed in regard to Megara - prohibiting the Megarians, on pain of death, from all trade or intercourse as well with Athens as with all ports within the Athenian empire. This prohibition was grounded on the alleged fact, that the Megarians had harboured runaway slaves from Athens, and had appropriated and cultivated portions of land upon her border - partly land, the property of the goddesses of Eleusis, partly a strip of territory disputed between the two states, and therefore left by mutual understanding in common pasture without any permanent enclosure. 2 In reference to this latter point, the Athenian herald Anthemokritus had been sent to Megara to remonstrate, but had been so rudely dealt with, that his death shortly afterwards was

1 Thukyd., iii. 2-13. This proposition of the Lesbians at Sparta must have been made before the collision between Athens and Corinth at Korkyra.

2 Thukyd., i. 139; Plutarch, Periklês, c. 30; Schol. ad Aristophan., Pac., 609.

-457-

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