Nicias

Nicias (/ˈnɪʃiəs/; Νικίας Nikias; c. 470–413 BC), 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.

He was regularly elected to serve as strategos (general) for Athens during the Peloponnesian War. He led several expeditions which achieved little. Nevertheless, he was largely responsible for the successful negotiations which led to the Peace of Nicias in 421 BC.

Following the Peace, he objected to the ambitious plans of Alcibiades for advancing Athens' interests.[1] Despite this, Nicias was appointed to participate in the Athenian invasion of Sicily. The Athenian siege of Syracuse was nearly successful until the arrival of the Spartan general Gylippus, who turned the situation around so that the Athenians were themselves under siege. Nicias led his forces in a desperate attempt to escape by land. However, they were cut off and he and his Athenian army were overwhelmed and defeated. His army was almost wiped out, and though Nicias reminded Gylippus of all the times he had spared him, he was nevertheless killed.[2]

Nicias, p 105 (World's Famous Orations Vol 1)
Nicias
NiciasMilitaryCampaignsinGreece
Nicias' expeditions, before the Sicilian campaign.

Early life

Nicias inherited from his father, Niceratus, a considerable fortune, which was invested mainly in the silver mines of Laurium. It is said that Nicias had over 1000 slaves working in the mines. Plutarch states that Nicias was also exceedingly generous with his wealth, using his money for charitable activities in Athens and funding many religious festivals.[1]

Nicias' political rise

Nicias' rise to prominence occurred while Pericles was at the head of the Athenian government. After Pericles' death in 429 BC, Nicias became an important Athenian politician with the aristocratic (conservative) party looking to him as their leader. As such, Nicias became the rival of Cleon's popular or democratic party.[1]

Nicias lacked the eloquence or charm to win popularity among Athenians, according to the later historian Plutarch.[1] Instead, Nicias gained popularity through the use of his wealth. He funded and organized choruses for Athenian dramas, sporting events, public exhibitions, and new or restored statues and temples.[1]

Plutarch specifically refers to an example of Nicias' generosity—his funding of the festival of Delos. Nicias funded the building of a bridge of boats between Delos and the Rhenean islands. The ships were decorated with garlands, gilding, and rich tapestry. Then a richly dressed chorus walked across the boats. Nicias then provided a 10,000 drachma fund to the Delians so they would continue this event into the future, praying on his behalf. Such instructions were engraved onto a pillar.[1]

Military activities

Nicias was Strategos in both 427 BC and 425 BC. During these years, Nicias was a very cautious general. He avoided engaging in any important military enterprise during his time as commander. According to Plutarch this was to his benefit, as Nicias was able to avoid the worst of Athens' misfortunes, both military and political.[1]

Plutarch states that "Nicias declined all difficult and lengthy enterprises; if he took a command, he was for doing what was safe." Plutarch also noted that on the battlefield, Nicias was recognized as a fair combatant, fighting as courageously as any other soldier.[1]

Peace of Nicias

After fighting for a decade in the Peloponnesian War, both Athens and Sparta were exhausted.

The Athenian general, Laches, with the support of Nicias, successfully moved in the Athenian Assembly in 423 BC for an armistice with Sparta to check the progress of Sparta's most effective general, Brasidas. However, the "Truce of Laches" had little impact on Brasidas and collapsed within a year. Brasidas proceeded to take Scione and Mende in the hope of reaching Athens and freeing Spartan prisoners. Athens sent reinforcements under Nicias, who recaptured Mende.

Cleon then effectively ended the truce between Athens and Sparta after he resolved to rescue the town of Amphipolis in Macedonia. However, through skilful generalship by Brasidas, the Spartans routed the Athenians at the Battle of Amphipolis. Both Brasidas and Cleon were killed in the battle, thereby removing the key members of the pro-war factions on both sides.

After the two generals who opposed peace, the Athenian Cleon and the Spartan Brasidas, were slain in battle, Nicias decided to seek peace between all the warring states. Nicias, and Pleistoanax, King of Sparta, negotiated in 421 BC the Peace of Nicias between Athens and Sparta, which brought a temporary end to the Peloponnesian War.

The essence of the Peace of Nicias was a return to the pre-war situation: most wartime gains were to be returned. Most notably, Amphipolis would be returned to Athens, and the Athenians would release the prisoners taken at Sphacteria. Temples throughout Greece would be open to worshippers from all cities, and the oracle at Delphi would regain its autonomy. Athens could continue to collect tribute from the states as it had done so since the time of Aristides, but Athens could not force them to become allies. Athens also agreed to come to Sparta's aid if the Helots revolted. All of Sparta's allies agreed to sign the peace, except for the Boeotians, Corinth, Elis, and Megara.

Nicias and Alcibiades

While the Peace was being negotiated, Alcibiades became more influential in Athens. Alcibiades opposed the Peace and argued strongly for Athens to continue its war against Sparta and its allies. His first move was convincing Argos to form an alliance.[1]

Alcibiades first rose to prominence when he began advocating aggressive Athenian action after the signing of the Peace of Nicias. Historians Arnold W. Gomme and Raphael Sealey believe, and Thucydides reports,[3] that Alcibiades was offended that the Spartans had negotiated that treaty through Nicias and Laches, overlooking him on account of his youth.[4][5]

Disputes over the interpretation of the treaty led the Spartans to dispatch ambassadors to Athens with full powers to arrange all unsettled matters. The Athenians initially received these ambassadors well, but Alcibiades met with them in secret before they were to speak to the ecclesia (the Athenian Assembly) and told them that the Assembly was haughty and had great ambitions.[6] He urged them to renounce their diplomatic authority to represent Sparta, and instead allow him to assist them through his influence in Athenian politics.[7] The representatives agreed and, impressed with Alcibiades, they distanced themselves from Nicias, despite him being sincere in wanting to reach an agreement with the Spartans.[6] The next day, during the Assembly, Alcibiades asked them what powers Sparta had granted them to negotiate and they replied, as agreed, that they had not come with full and independent powers. This was in direct contradiction to what they had said the day before, and Alcibiades seized on this opportunity to denounce their character, cast suspicion on their aims, and destroy their credibility. This ploy increased Alcibiades' standing while embarrassing Nicias, and Alcibiades was subsequently appointed General. He took advantage of his increasing power to orchestrate the creation of an alliance between Argos, Mantinea, Elis, and other states in the Peloponnese, threatening Sparta's dominance in the region. This alliance, however, was ultimately defeated in 418 BC at the Battle of Mantinea.[8]

Nicias and Hyperbolos

During the years 416 BC and 415 BC, a complex struggle took place between Hyperbolos on one side and Nicias and Alcibiades on the other. Hyperbolos tried to bring about the ostracism of one of this pair, but Nicias and Alcibiades combined their influence to induce the people to expel Hyperbolos instead.[9] This incident reveals that Nicias and Alcibiades each commanded a personal following, whose votes were determined by the wishes of the leaders.[5]

Plutarch was of the view that the Athenians were so angered by this cynical manoeuvring that the ostracism was never to be used again.[10]

The Sicilian Expedition

In 415 BC, delegates from the Sicilian city of Segesta (Greek: Egesta) arrived in Athens to plead for the support of the Athenians in their war against Selinus. During the subsequent debates, Nicias vehemently opposed an Athenian intervention, explaining that the campaign would be very costly. He attacked the character and motives of Alcibiades, who was a strong supporter of the expedition. Alcibiades argued that a Sicilian campaign would bring riches to the city and expand the empire, just as the Persian Wars had.[11]

In spite of Alcibiades' enthusiastic advocacy for the plan, it was Nicias, not he, who turned a modest undertaking into a massive campaign and made the conquest of Sicily seem possible and safe.[12] It was at Nicias’ suggestion that the size of the fleet was significantly increased from 60 ships to "140 galleys, 5,100 men at arms, and about 1300 archers, slingers, and light armed men".[13] It would seem that Nicias' intention was to shock the assembly with his high estimate of the forces required, but, instead of dissuading his fellow citizens, his analysis made them all the more eager.[14]

Against his wishes Nicias was appointed General along with Alcibiades and Lamachus, all three of whom were given full powers to do whatever was in the best interests of Athens while in Sicily.[15]

One night during preparations for the expedition, the hermai, heads of the god Hermes on a plinth with a phallus, were mutilated throughout Athens. This was a religious scandal and was seen as a bad omen for the mission. Plutarch explains that Androcles, a political leader, used false witnesses who accused Alcibiades and his friends of mutilating the statues, and of profaning the Eleusinian Mysteries. Later his opponents, chief among them being Androcles and Thessalus, Cimon's son, enlisted orators to argue that Alcibiades should set sail as planned and stand trial on his return from the campaign. Alcibiades was suspicious of their intentions, and asked to be allowed to stand trial immediately, under penalty of death, in order to clear his name.[16] This request was denied, and in 415 BC the fleet set sail, with the charges unresolved.[17]

Arriving to Catana, Sicily, the three commanders had differing plans for attacking Syracuse. While there, an Athenian ship arrived to inform Alcibiades that he was under arrest, not only for the destruction of the hermai, but also for supposedly profaning the Eleusinian Mysteries. Alcibiades agreed to return in his ship, but when the ship stopped in southern Italy at Thurii, he escaped and sailed to the Peloponnese, where he eventually sought refuge in Sparta. He soon began offering advice to the Spartans on how the situation in Syracuse could be made to benefit them at Athens' expense. In Athens a death sentence was passed in absentia, his guilt seemingly proven.[1]

Led by Nicias the Athenian forces landed at Dascon near Syracuse but with little result. Hermocrates led the Syracusan defence. Meanwhile, Alcibiades persuaded the Spartans to send Gylippus to assist Syracuse. As a result, a Spartan fleet soon arrived to reinforce their allies in Syracuse and a stalemate ensued.

Athens responded to appeals from Nicias by sending out in 414 BC 73 vessels and 5,000 soldiers to Sicily under the command of Athenian generals, Demosthenes and Eurymedon, to assist Nicias and his forces with the siege of Syracuse.

The Athenian army moved to capture Syracuse while the larger fleet of Athenian ships blocked the approach to the city from the sea. After some initial success, the Athenian troops became disorganised in the chaotic night operation and were thoroughly routed by Gylippus. The Athenian commanders Lamachus and Eurymedon were killed. Nicias, although ill, was left in sole charge of the siege of Syracuse.[1]

Following this defeat in battle, Demosthenes suggested that the Athenians immediately give up the siege of Syracuse and return to Athens, where they were needed to defend against an Alcibiades’ inspired Spartan invasion of Attica. Nicias refused. According to Plutarch, Nicias explained that he preferred to be killed by the enemy, rather than being killed by the Athenians, who would condemn him if they were defeated.[1]

Death

However, during 413 BC, the Syracusans and Spartans under Hermocrates were able to trap the Athenians in the harbour and the Athenians sustained heavy losses in the second Battle of Syracuse. Demosthenes was ambushed by the Syracusans and was forced to surrender. Nicias was soon captured as well, and both were executed despite Gylippus’ orders to the contrary. Most of the surviving Athenian soldiers were kept in the stone quarries near Syracuse (as there was no other room for them) where they died slowly of disease and starvation. Few survivors returned to Athens.

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Plutarch, The Lives, "Nicias"
  2. ^ Thucydides
  3. ^ Thucydides, "The History of the Peloponnesian Wars", 5.43.
  4. ^ A.W. Gomme, A Historical Commentary on Thucydides, 339.
  5. ^ a b R. Sealey, A History of the Greek City States, 353.
  6. ^ a b Plutarch, Alcibiades, 14.
  7. ^ Thucydides, V, 45.
  8. ^ Plutarch, Alcibiades, 15.
  9. ^ Plutarch, Alcibiades, 13.
  10. ^ Plutarch, The Lives, "Aristides"
  11. ^ Platias-Koliopoulos, Thucydides on Strategy, 237–46.
  12. ^ Kagan, The Peloponnesian War, 322
  13. ^ Plutarch, Alcibiades, 20.
  14. ^ L. Strauss, The City and Man, 104.
  15. ^ Thucydides, 6.26.
  16. ^ Plutarch, Alcibiades, 19.
  17. ^ Thucydides, 6.29.

References

  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Nicias (statesman)". Encyclopædia Britannica. 19 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 658.
  • Besides Thucydides see Plutarch's Nicias and Diod. xii. 83; also the general authorities on the history of Greece.
  • Nicias appears as a character in Plato's dialogue Laches, in which Socrates and others discuss the nature of courage without reaching any firm conclusions.
  • Nicias' silver mines are described by Xenophon, in both "On Revenues" and "The memorable thoughts of Socrates".

External links

410s BC

This decade witnessed the continuing decline of the Achaemenid Empire, fierce warfare amongst the Greek city-states during the Peloponnesian War, the ongoing Warring States period in Zhou dynasty China, and the closing years of the Olmec civilization (lasting from c. 1200–400 BC) in modern-day Mexico.

== Events ==

=== 419 BC ===

==== By place ====

====== Greece ======

Despite the Peace of Nicias still being in effect, Sparta's King Agis II gathers a strong army at Philus and descends upon Argos by marching at night from the north. His allied Boeotian forces fail him, but he is able to conclude a treaty with Argos.

==== By topic ====

====== Drama ======

Euripides' play Andromache is performed.

Sophocles' play Electra is performed. The play takes its theme from The Libation Bearers by Aeschylus.

=== 418 BC ===

==== By place ====

====== Greece ======

King Agis II of Sparta escapes having his house razed and being fined 100,000 drachmae for his failure to press his advantage by promising more successful outcomes in the future.

The Battle of Mantinea is the largest land battle of the Peloponnesian War (with as many as 10,000 troops on each side). Sparta under King Agis II has a major victory over Argos (and its allies Athens, Ellis and Mantinea), which has broken its treaty with Sparta's King Agis II at the insistence of Alcibiades. Agis II's major victory makes amends with the Spartans for his earlier truce with Argos. The commander of the Athenian forces, Laches, is killed in the battle.

Impressed with the Spartan victory, the inhabitants of Argos change their government from democracy to oligarchy and end their support for Athens in favour of an alliance with Sparta. Many of Argos' allies do the same. Athens becomes increasingly isolated.

Alcibiades urges the Athenians to conquer Syracuse, subdue Sicily and Carthage and thus gain added forces that will enable them to finish the war against Sparta. His bold offensive plan wins the support of the Athenians.

=== 417 BC ===

==== By place ====

====== Greece ======

Following the loss by Athens and its allies in the Battle of Mantinea, a political "tug of war" takes place in Athens. Alcibiades joins forces with Nicias against Hyperbolus, the successor of the demagogue politician Cleon as champion of the common people. Hyperbolus tries to bring about the ostracism of either Nicias or Alcibiades, but the two men combine their influence and induce the Athenian people to expel Hyperbolus instead.

=== 416 BC ===

==== By place ====

====== Greece ======

With the encouragement of Alcibiades, the Athenians take the island of Melos (which has remained neutral during the Peloponnesian War). Its inhabitants are treated with great cruelty by the Athenians, with all the men capable of bearing arms being killed, while the women and children are made slaves.

In Sicily, the Ionian city of Segesta asks for Athenian help from the Dorian city of Selinus (which is supported by the powerful Sicilian city of Syracuse). The people of Syracuse are ethnically Dorian (as are the Spartans), while the Athenians, and their allies in Sicily, are Ionian. The Athenians feel obliged to assist their ally and therefore prepare an armada to attack Sicily.

==== By topic ====

====== Drama ======

The tragedian Agathon wins first prize at the Lenaia.

=== 415 BC ===

==== By place ====

====== Greece ======

Athenian orator and politician, Andocides is imprisoned on suspicion of having taken part in the mutilation of the sacred busts called "Hermae" shortly before the departure of Athens' military expedition to Sicily. These mutilations cause a general panic, and Andocides is induced to turn informer. Andocides' testimony is accepted, and those whom he implicates, including Alcibiades, are condemned to death. Andocides is sent into exile.

The Athenian expedition to Sicily sets sail under Nicias, Lamachus and Alcibiades. After his departure with the armada, Alcibiades is accused of profanity and is recalled to Athens to stand trial.

After learning that he has been condemned to death in absentia, Alcibiades defects to Sparta and Nicias is placed in charge of the Sicilian expedition. The Athenian forces land at Dascon near Syracuse but with little result. Hermocrates heads the Syracusan defence.

Alcibiades openly joins with the Spartans and persuades them to send Gylippus to assist Syracuse and to fortify Decelea in Attica. He also encourages Ionia to revolt against Athens. As a result, a Spartan fleet soon arrives to reinforce their allies in Syracuse and a stalemate ensues.

==== By topic ====

====== Drama ======

Euripides' play The Trojan Women is performed shortly after the massacre by Athenians of the male population of Melos.

=== 414 BC ===

==== By place ====

====== Greece ======

Athens responds to appeals from its general, Nicias, by sending out 73 vessels to Sicily under the command of Demosthenes to assist Nicias and his forces with the siege of Syracuse.

The Athenian army moves to capture Syracuse while the larger fleet of Athenian ships blocks the approach to the city from the sea. After some initial success, the Athenian troops become disorganised in the chaotic night operation and are thoroughly routed by Gylippus, the Spartan commander. The Athenian commander Lamachus is killed. Nicias, although ill, is left in sole charge of the siege of Syracuse.

==== By topic ====

====== Drama ======

Aristophanes' play The Birds is performed.

=== 413 BC ===

==== By place ====

====== Greece ======

After suffering a defeat in which the Athenian commander Lamachus is killed, Demosthenes suggests that they immediately give up the siege of Syracuse and return to Athens, where they are needed to defend against a Spartan invasion of Attica. Nicias refuses, but the Syracusans and Spartans under Hermocrates are able to trap the Athenians in the harbour and the Athenians sustain heavy losses in the Battle of Syracuse. Demosthenes is ambushed by the Syracusans and is forced to surrender. Nicias is soon captured as well, and both are executed, with most of the surviving Athenian soldiers sent to work in the Sicilian quarries.

Tissaphernes, the Persian satrap of Lydia and Caria, forms an alliance with Sparta. The Spartans, with strategic advice from Alcibiades and limited assistance from the Persians under Pharnabazus, advance almost to the gates of Athens. King Agis II leads the Spartan force that occupies Decelea in Attica.

Archelaus I becomes King of Macedonia following the death of his father, King Perdiccas II. Archelaus seizes the throne after murdering his uncle, his cousin, and his half brother, the legitimate heir.

==== By topic ====

====== Drama ======

Euripides' play Electra is performed.

=== 412 BC ===

==== By place ====

====== Persian Empire ======

The Persians under Darius II see their opportunity to play off one Greek city-state against another and to recover control of the Greek cities of Asia Minor, which have been under Athenian control since 449 BC. The satraps of Asia Minor, Tissaphernes and Pharnabazus, are ordered to collect overdue tribute.

The Spartans sign a treaty of mutual help with the Persian satrap of Lower Asia, Tissaphernes. By the treaty of Miletus, Persia is given complete freedom in western Asia Minor in return for agreeing to pay for seamen to man the Peloponnesian fleet.

====== Greece ======

Alcibiades helps stir up revolts amongst Athens' allies in Ionia, on the west coast of Asia Minor. However, Alcibiades loses the confidence of the Spartans and antagonises their king Agis II. As a result, he flees to the court of the Persian satrap Tissaphernes. Alcibiades advises Tissaphernes to withdraw his support from Sparta while conspiring with the oligarchic party in Athens, as Sparta's allied cities break away in a series of revolts.

The Athenians vote to use their last reserves to build a new fleet.

Clazomenae revolts against Athens. After a brief resistance, however, it again acknowledges the Athenian supremacy.

=== 411 BC ===

==== By place ====

====== Greece ======

June 9 – The democracy of Athens is overthrown by the oligarchic extremists, Antiphon, Theramenes, Peisander and Phrynichus in an effort by the oligarchists to exert more control over the conduct of the war with Sparta and its allies. A "Council of Four Hundred" is set up. The total defeat of the Athenian expedition to Sicily and the consequent revolts of many of the subject-allies has weakened Athenian finances severely; the acknowledged purpose of the revolutionary movement is to revise the constitution to better run Athens' finances. However, its rule is high-handed and the Council of Four Hundred is only able to maintain itself for four months.

When a mutiny breaks out amongst the troops who are fortifying Piraeus (the harbour for Athens), the Council sends Theramenes to quell it. Instead, he puts himself at the head of the mutineers. After Phrynichus, the leader of the extremists, is assassinated, an ensuing meeting of the Athenian Assembly deposes the Council and restores the traditional constitution, but restricts some of the privileges of citizenship to a body called the Five Thousand. The Assembly resumes its old form in being a committee of all citizens.

The Athenian navy under Thrasybulus recalls Alcibiades from Sardis. Alcibiades' election is confirmed by the Athenians at the request of Theramenes. A Spartan fleet in the Hellespont at Cynossema is then defeated by an Athenian fleet commanded by Thrasybulus and Alcibiades.

Antiphon defends himself in a speech Thucydides describes as the greatest ever made by a man on trial for his life. Nevertheless, Antiphon is unable to persuade his accusers and he is executed for treason.

==== By topic ====

====== Literature ======

Euripides' play Iphigenia in Tauris is performed.

Aristophanes' plays Lysistrata and Women Celebrating the Thesmophoria are performed.

=== 410 BC ===

==== By place ====

====== Greece ======

Commanding 20 ships, the Athenian generals Theramenes and Thrasybulus collaborate with Alcibiades and the main Athenian fleet in inflicting a major defeat on the Spartan navy commanded by Mindarus and its supporting Persian land army near Cyzicus on the shore of the Propontis (Sea of Marmara). As a result of its victory in the Battle of Cyzicus, Athens regains control over the vital grain route from the Black Sea.

Alcibiades installs a garrison at Chrysopolis under Theramenes to exact a tithe from all shipping that comes from the Black Sea. This revenue enables the Athenians to put an end to the regime of the Five Thousand and restore their traditional institutions in full. Democracy is restored in Athens. The new demagogue Cleophon dismisses peace overtures made by Sparta.

An Oligarchic revolt in Corcyra is unsuccessful.

====== Cyprus ======

Evagoras re-establishes his family's claim as kings of Salamis which has been under Phoenician control for a number of years.

==== By subject ====

====== Art ======

A relief decoration from the parapet (now destroyed), Nike (Victory) adjusting her sandal is constructed in the Temple of Athena Nike on the Acropolis in Athens and is ready in 407 BC. It is now preserved at the Acropolis Museum in Athens.

The grave stele of Hegeso is made and is finished about -ten years later (approximate date). It is now preserved at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens.

420s BC

This article concerns the period 429 BC – 420 BC.

== Events ==

=== 429 BC ===

==== By place ====

====== Greece ======

The Athenians under Xenophon march into Thrace to attack Chalcis. They destroy crops outside Spartolus and begin negotiating with pro-Athenian factions in Chalcis, but the anti-Athenian factions ask for help from Olynthus. An army from Chalcis, Spartolus, and Olynthus meet the Athenians in battle, but their hoplites are defeated. Reinforcements soon arrive from Olynthus, and they launch a second attack on the Athenians. The Athenians are routed, with all of their generals and 430 other men killed.

The Athenian admiral Phormio has two naval victories, the Naupactus and the Battle of Chalcis at the mouth of the Corinthian Gulf. In the first battle, his 20 ships defeat 47 Corinthian ships commanded by Machaon, Isocrates, and Agatharchidas that were advancing to reinforce the Spartan general, Cnemus' campaign in Acarnania. In the second battle, Phormio routs Cnemus' 77-vessel fleet.

The Athenians, in alliance with Polichne, destroy the Cretan city of Kydonia.

The Macedonian king, Perdiccas II, once again betrays the Athenians and sends 1000 troops to support a Spartan assault on Acarnania but they arrive too late to help. In response to this, King Sitalkes of Thrace invades Macedonia with a vast army that includes independent Thracian tribes (such as the Dii) and Paionian tribes (Agrianes and Laeaeans). His progress is slowed when the promised support from Athens fails to materialise. So Perdiccas once again uses diplomacy to ensure the survival of Macedonia. He promises the hand of his sister in marriage to the nephew of Sitalkes, who then persuades Sitalkes to leave Macedonia.

The plague in Athens that is killing thousands of the city's inhabitants, claims Pericles. Cleon, who has headed the opposition to Pericles' rule, succeeds to power in Athens following Pericles' death.

=== 428 BC ===

==== By place ====

====== Greece ======

The chief city of Lesbos, Mytilene, revolts against Athenian rule. The Spartan admiral, Alcidas, leads 40 Peloponnesian alliance ships with the aim of assisting the inhabitants of Mytilene. However, the rebellion by Mytilene is crushed before his forces can arrive.

Despite encouragement from the Ionian leaders to engage the Athenians, Alcidas declines. Rather, Alcidas leads his fleet to Cyllene where the Spartans resolve to strengthen the fleet and send it to Corcyra where a revolution has broken out. Spartan leaders, Brasidas and Alcidas, then defeat a fleet of Corcyran ships. However, they retire when word reaches them that 60 Athenian ships from Leucas under the command of Eurymedon have been dispatched to intercept them.

====== Italy ======

The Greek colony of Cumae in Italy falls to the Samnites, who begin to take control of the Campanian plain.

==== By topic ====

====== Literature ======

Euripides' play Hippolytus is performed in the Dionysia competition, the famous Athenian dramatic festival. The play is awarded first prize.

Sophocles writes Oedipus Rex.

=== 427 BC ===

==== By place ====

====== Greece ======

Sparta's King Archidamus II is succeeded by his son Agis II.

Following the surrender of Mytilene to Athens, the Athenian leader Cleon insists that the city be destroyed. In response to the pleadings of a number of Athenian citizens, Cleon's decree to destroy the population of Mytilene is reversed with only the ringleaders of the Mytilenean revolt being executed.

Plataea surrenders to the Spartans and Thebans after its garrison comes close to death from starvation. Over 200 prisoners are put to death and Plataea is destroyed.

The civil war in Corcyra, in which the Athenians and the Spartans have interfered ineffectually, results in a victory of the democrats (who support an alliance with Athens) over the oligarchs.

In an effort to blockade Sparta from access to Sicilian corn, Athens responds to a plea for help from a delegation from the city of Leontini led by Gorgias, the sophist and rhetorician. Leontini is being threatened by Syracuse which is allied to Sparta. However, the Athenian mission led by the Athenian general Laches is unable to offer much help. Laches is later prosecuted by Cleon for his unsuccessful mission to support Athenian interests in Sicily.

====== Roman Republic ======

The Quaestorship is opened to the Plebs.

=== 426 BC ===

==== By place ====

====== Greece ======

The Athenian leader Cleon and Athenian general Demosthenes revitalise the city's military and naval forces despite opposition from Nicias, a rich merchant and soldier, and his supporters.

Demosthenes unsuccessfully besieges the Corinthian colony of Leukas. As a result, he does not return to Athens, fearing for his life. However when, later in the year, Ambracia invades Acarnania, and the Acarnanians seek help from Demosthenes, who is patrolling the Ionian Sea coast with twenty Athenian ships, he reaches the Athenian naval base in the Gulf of Corinth at Naupactus and secures it just in time to defend it against a large Spartan army from Delphi under Eurylochus which has come to assist the Ambraciots. Demosthenes defeats the Spartan army and Eurylochus is killed during the Battle of Olpae. The Acarnanians and Ambraciots then sign a peace treaty.

An Athenian army under Nicias, Hipponicus and Eurymedon defeats a combined Tanagran and Theban army in the Battle of Tanagra.

=== 425 BC ===

==== By place ====

====== Persian Empire ======

Artaxerxes I, Achaemenid king of Persia, is succeeded by his son Xerxes II.

====== Greece ======

Demosthenes captures and fortifies the port of Pylos in the Peloponnesus, giving Athens a strong base close to Sparta. Meanwhile, a Spartan army, commanded by Brasidas, lands on the nearby island of Sphacteria, but is repulsed by the Athenians. An Athenian fleet summoned by Demosthenes bottles up the Spartan navy in Navarino Bay.

Cleon joins Demosthenes in the invasion by Athenian troops of Sphacteria. The resulting Battle of Pylos results in an Athenian victory leading to the surrender of many of the Spartan troops. Pylos remains in Athenian hands, and is used as a base for raids into Spartan territory and as a refuge for fleeing Spartan helots.

Following the failure of peace negotiations between Athens and Sparta, a number of Spartans stranded on the island of Sphacteria after the Battle of Pylos are attacked by an Athenian force under Cleon and Demosthenes. The resulting Battle of Sphacteria leads to a further victory by the Athenians over the Spartans. The Spartans sue for peace, but the Athenian leader Cleon persuades Athens to refuse.

====== China ======

Zhou wei lie wang becomes King of the Zhou Dynasty of China.

==== By topic ====

====== Architecture ======

Callicrates starts to build the Temple of Athena Nike on the Acropolis in Athens (approximate date). Between -410 and 407 BC the temple is surrounded by a parapet.

====== Art ======

What some historians call the Rich style begins in Greece.

====== Literature ======

Euripides' play Hecuba is performed.

Aristophanes' play The Acharnians is performed. Produced by Callistratus, it wins Aristophanes a first prize at the Lenaea.

=== 424 BC ===

==== By place ====

====== Persian empire ======

Xerxes II rules as King of Persia for only about 45 days until he is killed. He is reportedly murdered, while drunk, by Pharnacyas and Menostanes on the orders of Secydianus (or Sogdianus), the son of one of Artaxerxes I's concubines, Alogyne of Babylon.

====== Greece ======

At the Congress of Gela, the statesman Hermocrates of Syracuse persuades the cities of Sicily to agree to make peace and urges the exclusion of foreign powers. As a result, the three-year war between his city and Sicily's pro-Athenian towns ends and the Athenian forces, which had been sent to Sicily to support Greek settlements, are forced to withdraw.

Demosthenes and Hippocrates attempt to capture Megara, but they are defeated by the Spartans under their general Brasidas. Demosthenes then marches to Naupactus to assist in a democratic revolution, and to gather troops for an invasion of Boeotia. However, Demosthenes and Hippocrates are unable to coordinate their attacks and Hippocrates is defeated at the Battle of Delium by Pagondas of Thebes. During the battle, Socrates is said to have saved the life of Alcibiades. Demosthenes attacks Sicyon and is defeated as well.

After he frustrates the Athenian attack on Megara, Brasidas marches through Boeotia and Thessaly to Chalcidice at the head of 700 helots and 1000 Peloponnesian mercenaries to join the Macedonian king Perdiccas II. Refusing to be made a tool for the furtherance of Perdiccas' ambitions, Brasidas wins over the important cities of Acanthus, Stagirus, Amphipolis and Torone as well as a number of minor towns. An attack on Eion is foiled by the arrival of Thucydides at the head of an Athenian squadron.

Brasidas' capture of the city of Amphipolis is a major reverse for Athens, for which the Athenian general (and future historian) Thucydides is held responsible and banished. This gives Thucydides the opportunity for undistracted study for his History and for travel and wider contacts, especially on the Peloponnesian side (Sparta and its allies).

Nicias captures the Peloponnesian island of Cythera, from which to harry the Spartans.

==== By topic ====

====== Architecture ======

The temple to Athena Nike (also known as the Wingless Victory) on the Athenian Acropolis is completed. It has been designed by the Athenian architect Callicrates.

=== 423 BC ===

==== By place ====

====== Persian empire ======

Ochus, satrap of Hyrcania and son of Artaxerxes I and a Babylonian concubine, seizes the Persian throne from his half brother Secydianus (or Sogdianus), whom he has executed. The new king rules as Darius II.

====== Greece ======

The Athenian general, Laches, successfully moves in the Athenian Assembly for an armistice with Sparta to check the progress of Sparta's most effective general, Brasidas. However, the "Truce of Laches" has little impact on Brasidas and collapses within a year.

Brasidas ignores the proposed year-long truce and proceeds to take Scione and Mende in the hope of reaching Athens and freeing Spartan prisoners. Athens sends reinforcements under Nicias who retakes Mende.

==== By topic ====

====== Drama ======

Aristophanes' play The Clouds is performed as is Sophocles' play Maidens of Trachi and The Putine (The Bottle), by Cratinus.

=== 422 BC ===

==== By place ====

====== Greece ======

Athenian leader, Cleon, ends the truce between Athens and Sparta after he resolves to rescue the town of Amphipolis in Macedonia. However, through skillful generalship by Brasidas, the Spartans rout the Athenians in the Battle of Amphipolis. Both Brasidas and Cleon are killed in the battle, thereby removing the key members of the pro-war factions on both sides.

Alcibiades takes over the leadership of the pro-war party in Athens.

==== By topic ====

====== Drama ======

Aristophanes' play The Wasps is performed.

=== 421 BC ===

==== By place ====

====== Greece ======

Nicias, the leader of the aristocratic and peace party in Athens and Pleistoanax, King of Sparta, negotiate the Peace of Nicias between Athens and Sparta, which brings a temporary end to the Peloponnesian War. The essence of the Peace of Nicias is a return to the prewar situation: most wartime gains are to be returned. Seventeen representatives from each side swear an oath to uphold the treaty, which is meant to last for thirty years or one generation (meaning they are not responsible for the next generation's decision). All of Sparta's allies agree to sign the peace, except for the Boeotians, Corinth, Elis, and Megara.

Alcibiades engineers an anti-Spartan alliance between Athens and the democracies of Argos, Mantinea and Elis.

====== Italy ======

The city of Cumae, the most northerly of the Greek colonies in Italy, falls to the Samnites.

==== By topic ====

====== Art ======

The construction of the Porch of the Maidens (the Caryatid Porch) commences at the Erechtheion which is part of the Acropolis in Athens.

====== Drama ======

Aristophanes' play The Peace is performed.

=== 420 BC ===

==== By place ====

====== Greece ======

The young and popular Alcibiades is elected "Strategos" (one of a board of ten generals) and begins to dominate Athenian life and politics. A Quadruple Alliance of Athens, Argos, Mantineia and Elis, which has been organised by Alcibiades (in opposition to Nicias) confronts a Spartan-Boeotian alliance.

==== By topic ====

====== Drama ======

Euripides' play The Suppliant Women is performed.

Alcibiades

Alcibiades, son of Cleinias (c. 450–404 BC), 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.

During the course of the Peloponnesian War, Alcibiades changed his political allegiance several times. In his native Athens in the early 410s BC, he advocated an aggressive foreign policy and was a prominent proponent of the Sicilian Expedition, but he fled to Sparta after his political enemies brought charges of sacrilege against him. In Sparta, he served as a strategic adviser, proposing or supervising several major campaigns against Athens. In Sparta too, however, Alcibiades soon made powerful enemies and felt forced to defect to Persia. There he served as an adviser to the satrap Tissaphernes until his Athenian political allies brought about his recall. He then served as an Athenian general (Strategos) for several years, but his enemies eventually succeeded in exiling him a second time.

Scholars have argued that had the Sicilian expedition been under Alcibiades's command instead of that of Nicias, the expedition might not have met its eventual disastrous fate. In the years when he served Sparta, Alcibiades played a significant role in Athens's undoing; the capture of Decelea and the revolts of several critical Athenian subjects occurred either at his suggestion or under his supervision. Once restored to his native city, however, he played a crucial role in a string of Athenian victories that eventually brought Sparta to seek a peace with Athens. He favored unconventional tactics, frequently winning cities over by treachery or negotiation rather than by siege. Alcibiades's military and political talents frequently proved valuable to whichever state currently held his allegiance, but his propensity for making powerful enemies ensured that he never remained in one place for long; and by the end of the war that he had helped to rekindle in the early 410s, his days of political relevance were a bygone memory.

Aricia nicias

Aricia nicias, the silvery argus, is a butterfly of the family Lycaenidae. It is found in the Alps, Pyrenees and from Scandinavia ranging to Siberia and the north of Mongolia.

The wingspan is 25–28 mm. The butterfly flies from May to August depending on the location.

The larvae feed on Geranium species.

Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell

Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell, also known as Deathstalker III: The Warriors from Hell, is a 1988 sword and sorcery fantasy film. It is the third film in the Deathstalker tetralogy.

Demosthenes (general)

Demosthenes (Greek: Δημοσθένης, died 413 BC), son of Alcisthenes, was an Athenian general during the Peloponnesian War.

Euriphellus

Euriphellus is a monotypic Neotropical butterfly genus in the family Hesperiidae (Eudaminae). The genus was separated from Dyscophellus by George Traut Austin in 2008. The single species in the genus is Euriphellus euribates.

The wingspan is 28–30 mm. The forewings are tawny brown, with three large yellow-orange discal partially translucent macules and two to three translucent subapical macules of the same colour. The hindwings have a small area of shiny scales. Adults are crepuscular.

Falcondance

Falcondance is the third book in The Kiesha'ra Series by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes.

Falcondance is narrated by Nicias Silvermead, a nineteen-year-old peregrine falcon raised in Wyvern's Court. Danica and Zane's dream of creating Wyvern's Court has come true. Atwater-Rhodes now moves the narration from the first generation, which ended the avian-serpiente violence, to the second generation, which will have to end the hatred between the two peoples.

Frank N. Mitchell

Frank Nicias Mitchell (August 18, 1921 – November 26, 1950) was an American combat Marine and first lieutenant who served in World War II and the Korean War. He posthumously received the United States' highest military decoration for valor, the Medal of Honor, for his actions on November 26, 1950, during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir.

Laches (dialogue)

The Laches (; Greek: Λάχης) is a Socratic dialogue written by Plato. Participants in the discourse present competing definitions of the concept of courage.

Nicias (Indo-Greek king)

Nicias (Greek: Νικίας) was an Indo-Greek king who ruled in the Paropamisade. Most of his relatively few coins have been found in northern Pakistan, indicating that he ruled a smaller principate around the lower Kabul valley.

He was possibly a relative of Menander I.

Nicias (genus)

Nicias is a genus of beetles in the family Cerambycidae, containing the following species:

Nicias alurnoides (Thomson, 1857)

Nicias andrarius (Galileo, 1987)

Nicias buquetii Thomson, 1857

Nicias crenatocerus (Galileo, 1987)

Nicias dichotomus (Galileo, 1987)

Nicias elegans (Waterhouse, 1880)

Nicias lobicollis (Bates, 1875)

Nicias magnificus (Galileo, 1987)

Nicias pallidus (Galileo, 1987)

Nicias of Nicaea

Nicias (Greek: Νικίας) of Nicaea, was a biographer and historian of ancient Greek philosophers. Nothing is known about his life, he may have lived in the 1st century BC or AD. He is repeatedly referred to by Athenaeus. His principal work seems to have been a Successions (Greek: Διαδοχαί), a history of the various schools of philosophy. Athenaeus also mentions a work On the Philosophers (Greek: Περὶ τῶν Φιλοσοφῶν), A third work, a History of Arcadia (Greek: Ἀρκαδικά) is also referred to, but whether it is by this Nicias is unclear.

Peace of Nicias

The Peace of Nicias, also known as the Fifty-Year Peace, was a peace treaty signed between the Greek city-states of Athens and Sparta in March 421 BC, ending the first half of the Peloponnesian War.In 425 BC, the Spartans had lost the battles of Pylos and Sphacteria, a severe defeat resulting in the Athenians' holding 292 prisoners. At least 120 were Spartiates. They had recovered by 424 BC, when the Spartan general Brasidas captured Amphipolis. In the same year, the Athenians suffered a major defeat in Boeotia at the Battle of Delium, and in 422 BC they were defeated again at the Battle of Amphipolis in their attempt to take back that city. Both Brasidas, the leading Spartan general, and Cleon, the leading politician in Athens, were killed at Amphipolis. By this time both sides were exhausted and ready for peace.

The negotiations were begun by Pleistoanax, King of Sparta, and the Athenian general Nicias. Both decided to return everything that they had conquered during the war, except for Nisaea, which would remain in Athenian hands, and Plataea, which remained under the control of Thebes. Most notably, Amphipolis would be returned to Athens, and the Athenians would release the prisoners taken at Sphacteria. Temples throughout Greece would be open to worshippers from all cities, and the oracle at Delphi would regain its autonomy. Athens could continue to collect tribute from the states from which it had received it since the time of Aristides, but Athens could not force them to become allies. Athens also agreed to come to Sparta's aid if the Helots revolted. All of Sparta's allies agreed to sign the peace, except for the Boeotians, Corinth, Elis, and Megara.

Seventeen representatives from each side swore an oath to uphold the treaty, which was meant to last for fifty years. These representatives were, for Sparta, the kings Pleistoanax and Agis II, Pleistolas, Damagetus, Chionis, Metagenes, Acanthus, Daithus, Ischagoras, Philocharidas, Zeuxidas, Antiphus, Tellis, Alcindas, Empedias, Menas, and Laphilus. The Athenian representatives were Lampon, Isthmonicus, Nicias, Laches, Euthydemus, Procles, Pythodorus, Hagnon, Myrtilus, Thrasycles, Theagenes, Aristocrates, Iolcius, Timocrates, Leon, Lamachus, and Demosthenes. However, Athens's chief goal, the restoration of Amphipolis, was denied when Clearidas obtained from the Spartans a clause in the treaty negating the transfer. Thus the treaty was broken from the start and, after several more failures, was formally abandoned in 414 BC.

Peloponnesian War

The Peloponnesian War (431–404 BC) 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.

The term "Peloponnesian War" was never used by Thucydides, by far its major historian: that the term is all but universally used today is a reflection of the Athens-centric sympathies of modern historians. As prominent historian J. B. Bury remarks, the Peloponnesians would have considered it the "Attic War".The Peloponnesian War reshaped the ancient Greek world. On the level of international relations, Athens, the strongest city-state in Greece prior to the war's beginning, was reduced to a state of near-complete subjection, while Sparta became established as the leading power of Greece. The economic costs of the war were felt all across Greece; poverty became widespread in the Peloponnese, while Athens found itself completely devastated, and never regained its pre-war prosperity. The war also wrought subtler changes to Greek society; the conflict between democratic Athens and oligarchic Sparta, each of which supported friendly political factions within other states, made civil war a common occurrence in the Greek world.

Ancient Greek warfare, meanwhile, originally a limited and formalized form of conflict, was transformed into an all-out struggle between city-states, complete with atrocities on a large scale. Shattering religious and cultural taboos, devastating vast swathes of countryside, and destroying whole cities, the Peloponnesian War marked the dramatic end to the fifth century BC and the golden age of Greece.The Peloponnesian War was soon followed by the Corinthian War (394-386 BC), which, although it ended inconclusively, helped Athens regain a little of its former greatness.

Polydamas of Skotoussa

Polydamas of Skotoussa (Greek: Πολυδάμας (gen.: -ντος) ὁ Σκοτουσσαῖος), son of Nicias, was a Thessalian pankratiast, and victor in the 93rd Olympiad (408 BC).

His size was said to be immense and the most marvellous stories are related of his strength (for example, how, without any weapons, he killed a huge lion on Mount Olympus, or how he stopped a chariot at full gallop). His reputation led Darius II of Persia to invite him to his court, where he performed similar feats.

In the end, Polydamas' strength could not prevent his demise. One summer, he and his friends were relaxing in a cave when the roof began to crumble down upon them. Believing his immense strength could prevent the cave-in, he held his hands up to the roof, trying to support it as the rocks crashed down around him. This gave enough time for his friends to flee the cave and reached safety, but Polydamas never got out and died.

Sicilian Expedition

The Sicilian Expedition was an Athenian military expedition to Sicily, which took place 415–413 BC during the Peloponnesian War between the Athenian empire on one side and Sparta, Syracuse and Corinth on the other. The expedition ended in a devastating defeat of the Athenian forces.

The expedition was hampered from the outset by uncertainty in its purpose and command structure—political maneuvering in Athens swelled a lightweight force of twenty ships into a massive armada, and the expedition's primary proponent, Alcibiades, was recalled from command to stand trial before the fleet even reached Sicily. Still, the Athenians achieved early successes. Syracuse, the most powerful state in Sicily, responded exceptionally slowly to the Athenian threat and, as a result, was almost completely invested before the arrival of back up in the form of Spartan general, Gylippus, who galvanized its inhabitants into action. From that point forward, however, as the Athenians ceded the initiative to their newly energized opponents, the tide of the conflict shifted. A massive reinforcing armada from Athens briefly gave the Athenians the upper hand once more, but a disastrous failed assault on a strategic high point and several crippling naval defeats damaged the Athenian soldiers' ability to continue fighting and also their morale. The Athenians attempted a last-ditch evacuation from Syracuse. The evacuation failed, and nearly the entire expedition were captured or were destroyed in Sicily.

The effects of the defeat were immense. Two hundred ships and thousands of soldiers, an appreciable portion of Athens' total manpower, were lost in a single stroke. The city's enemies on the mainland and in Persia were encouraged to take action, and rebellions broke out in the Aegean. Some historians consider the defeat to have been the turning point in the war, though Athens continued to fight for another decade. Thucydides observed that contemporary Greeks were shocked not that Athens eventually fell after the defeat, but rather that it fought on for as long as it did, so devastating were the losses suffered. Athens managed to recover remarkably well from the expedition materially, with the principle issue being the loss of manpower rather than the loss of ships.

Thaïs (opera)

Thaïs (French pronunciation: ​[ta.is]) is an opera, a comédie lyrique in three acts and seven tableaux, by Jules Massenet to a French libretto by Louis Gallet, based on the novel Thaïs by Anatole France. It was first performed at the Opéra Garnier in Paris on 16 March 1894, starring the American soprano Sibyl Sanderson, for whom Massenet had written the title role. The original production was directed by Alexandre Lapissida, with costumes designed by Charles Bianchini and sets by Marcel Jambon (act 1, scene 1; act 3) and Eugène Carpezat (act 1, scene 2; act 2). The opera was later revised by the composer and was premiered at the same opera house on 13 April 1898.

The work was first performed in Italy at the Teatro Lirico Internazionale in Milan on 17 October 1903 with Lina Cavalieri in the title role and Francesco Maria Bonini as Athanaël. In 1907, the role served as Mary Garden's American debut in New York in the U.S. premiere performance.

Thaïs takes place in Egypt under the rule of the Roman Empire, where a Cenobite monk, Athanaël, attempts to convert Thaïs, an Alexandrian courtesan and devotee of Venus, to Christianity, but discovers too late that his obsession with her is rooted in lust; while the courtesan's true purity of heart is revealed, so is the religious man's baser nature. The work is often described as bearing a sort of religious eroticism, and has had many controversial productions. Its famous Méditation, the entr'acte for violin and orchestra played between the scenes of act 2, is an oft-performed concert music piece; it has been arranged for many different instruments.

The role of Thaïs, similar to another Massenet heroine also written for Sibyl Sanderson, Esclarmonde, is notoriously difficult to sing and is reserved for only the most gifted of performers. Modern interpreters have included Carol Neblett, Anna Moffo, Beverly Sills, Leontyne Price, Renée Fleming, and Elizabeth Futral. Géori Boué was the first to record the opera, in 1952.

Theophilos (king)

Theophilos (Greek: Θεόφιλος) was a minor Indo-Greek king who ruled for a short time in the Paropamisadae. He was possibly a relative of Zoilos I and is only known from coins. It is possible that some of Theophilos' coins in fact belong to another ruler, in Greek Bactria, during approximately the same period.

The works of Plutarch
Works
Lives
Translators and editors

Languages

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.