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THE MAKING OF EUROPE / EARLY EUROPEAN HISTORY

From Hutton Webster's, Early European History (1917); edited for this on-line publication, by ELLOPOS

II. THE GREAT AGE OF THE GREEK REPUBLICS TO 362 B.C.

Em. Macron, Rediscovering the Path to Europe
Em. Macron, Rediscovering the Path to Europe


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Page 20

THE SICILIAN EXPEDITION, 4l5-4l3 B.C.

Not long after the conclusion of peace the Athenians were persuaded by a brilliant and ambitious politician, named Alcibiades, to undertake an expedition against Syracuse in Sicily. This city was a colony of Corinth, and hence was a natural ally of the Peloponnesian states. The Athenians, by conquering it, expected to establish their power in Sicily. But the siege of Syracuse ended in a complete failure. The Athenians failed to capture the city, and in a great naval battle they lost their fleet. Then they tried to retreat by land, but soon had to surrender. Many of the prisoners were sold as slaves; many were thrown by their inhuman captors into the stone quarries near Syracuse, where they perished from exposure and starvation. The Athenians, says Thucydides, "were absolutely annihilated—both army and fleet—and of the many thousands who went away only a handful ever saw their homes again." [21]

[21] Thucydides, vii, 87.

 

LAST STAGE OF THE WAR 413-404 B.C.

Athens never recovered from this terrible blow. The Spartans quickly renewed the contest, now with the highest hopes of success. The Athenians had to guard their city against the invader night and day; their slaves deserted to the enemy; and they themselves could do no farming except under the walls of the city. For supplies they had to depend entirely on their ships. For nearly ten years, however, the Athenians kept up the struggle. At length the Spartans captured an Athenian fleet near Aegospotami on the Hellespont. Soon afterwards they blockaded Piraeus and their army encamped before the walls of Athens. Bitter famine compelled the Athenians to sue for peace. The Spartans imposed harsh terms. The Athenians were obliged to destroy their Long Walls and the fortifications of Piraeus, to surrender all but twelve of their warships, and to acknowledge the supremacy of Sparta.

 

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THE MAKING OF EUROPE / EARLY EUROPEAN HISTORY: Table of Contents

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Cf. The Ancient Greece * The Ancient Rome
Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * Western Medieval Europe * Renaissance in Italy

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