68: The Powder Keg

The Powder Keg

The analogy of a powder keg in historical events it often used to describe a volatile situation that is waiting to explode into something larger. The most famous example of this is the events leading up to the breakout of World War 1. A seemingly remote region in the Balkans would see an act of violence take place that would end up embroiling all the empires within Europe in the most destructive war to that time.

A similar powder keg situation would develop in the ancient Greek world just before the breakout of the Peloponnesian War. This would be in a region north of Greece on the Albanian coast line far away from the interests of both Sparta and Athens. What would unfold here would be known as the affaire of Epidamnus, a colony both Corinth and Corcyra would lay claim to and enter into conflict over.

Both Corinth and Corcyra would engage in battle over the developments around Epidamnus, Corinth suffering a defeat at sea. This would not deter them and they would divert more resources towards bringing a renewed offensive against Corcyra. This would see Corcyra, not a part of any alliance, now look for assistance in this growing threat.

Corcyra would look towards Athens for this help and would send a delegation to try and secure this assistance. Corinth would also have an envoy in Athens having learnt of Corcyra’s intentions and both would now present their cases to the Athenians to decide upon. Athens would debate what was presented to them in two separate assemblies before arriving at the fateful decision to assist Corcyra. This decision along with the consequences and developments that would follow would see the situation become more volatile than ever.

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