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

25 [LV]

FROM THE PEACE OF NIKIAS TO THE OLYMPIC FESTIVAL OF OLYMPIAD 90

My last chapter terminated with the peace called the Peace of Nikias, concluded in March, 421 B.C. - between Athens and the Spartan confederacy, for fifty years.

Earnestly bent as Sparta herself was upon the peace - and ratified as it had been by the vote of a majority among her confederates - still there was a powerful minority who not only refused their assent, but strenuously protested against its conditions. The Corinthians were discontented because they did not receive back Sollium and Anaktorium; the Megarians, because they did not regain Nisæa; the Bœotians, because Panaktum was to be restored to Athens: the Eleians also, on some other ground which we do not distinctly know. All of them moreover took common offence at the article which provided that Athens and Sparta might by mutual consent, and without consulting the allies, amend the treaty in any way that they thought proper. Though the peace was sworn, therefore, the most powerful members of the Spartan confederacy remained all recusant.

So strong was the interest of the Spartans themselves, however, that having obtained the favourable vote of the majority, they resolved to carry the peace through, even at the risk of breaking up the confederacy. Besides the earnest desire of recovering their captives from the Athenians, they were farther alarmed by the fact that their truce for thirty years concluded with Argos was just now expiring. They had indeed made application to Argos for renewing it, through Lichas the Spartan proxenus of that city. But the Argeians had refused, except upon the inadmissible condition that the border territory of Kynuria should be ceded to them: there was reason to fear therefore that this new and powerful force might be thrown into the scale of Athens, if war were allowed to continue.

Accordingly, no sooner had the peace been sworn, than the Spartans proceeded to execute its provisions. Lots being drawn to determine whether Sparta or Athens should be the first to make the cessions required, the Athenians drew the favourable lot - an advantage so very great, under the circumstances, that Theophrastus affirmed Nikias to have gained the point by bribery. There

-649-

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