Episodes: 72 - 83

72: Outbreak of the Peloponnesian War

Sparta had now agreed that Athens were in breach of the 30 years peace that had been established nearly 15 years ago. Even though there was an appetite for war within the majority, they would still need to put the matter to a vote within the Peloponnesian league. A congress at Sparta would be held with all the allies were many spoke in favour of war with Athens. The resulting decision from the congress would see that war was the option most saw as the best path forward. However, it would be some time before any hostilities would develop. Sparta in the meantime would send a number of ultimatums to Athens, though all being rejected. Finally, an action would take place that would be the beginning of the war, however this would take place in Boeotia between allies of both Athens and Sparta.

73: Causes for War

The outbreak of the Peloponnesian War is now upon us. In the series we have followed developments from the Greek victory over the Persians in 479 BC where Athenian and Spartan interests would depart. This would see both these powerful city states develop centres of power around their own interests, seeing many smaller Greek polies following one or the other. Its in these roughly 50 years after the Persian War that interactions, situations and developments would end up seeing the Peloponnesian War develop. In this coming episode we head back to explore these to try and understand what lead to the War breaking out. We will look to how Thucydides frames the causes, before we then turn to the concepts around the remote and immediate cause. We will see a very complicated history develop where perhaps trying to look for a single cause risks oversimplifying the path to war.

74: Attica Invaded

We now turn to the first year of the Peloponnesian War, with this first phase of the war known as the Archidamian War, named after the Spartan king Archidamus, who had tried to prevent war breaking out. He would lead the Spartans and their Peloponnesian allies into Attica where they would raise the Attic countryside in hopes of drawing the Athenian army from out behind the walls of Athens. The army would not take the bait, but Athens would engage in naval operations around the Peloponnese and other areas to sure up their position. We cover these events plus much more in the coming episode around the first year of the War.

75: Pericles' Funeral Oration

The end of the first campaigning season of the Peloponnesian War was now coming to a close. Sparta had gone on the offensive, while Athens employed its defensive strategy which would see that a result in this first year would not be reached. Back in Athens, traditionally during times of war, a funeral procession would be held to honour those who had fallen. To accompany the procession a speech would follow, this time delivered by Pericles. His funeral oration would mark the close of the first year of the war and would serve to inspire the Athenians and help them keep their resolve as the war would continue. The speech given by Pericles would also prove to be a lasting legacy with it influencing and shaping political speeches into our times.

76: The Plague of Athens

In the second year of the Peloponnesian War, Sparta and Athens continued their struggle. Archidamus led a determined Attica invasion, while Athens targeted a larger Peloponnesian objective with its potent fleet. Amidst this, an unforeseen catastrophe emerged: the plague.

Originating in the Mediterranean, the plague infiltrated Athens through trade routes. The war-swollen population and unsanitary conditions facilitated its spread, causing unprecedented suffering. Lives were lost, families torn apart, and Athenian resilience tested.

This second year embodied more than warfare; it was a collision of the will of cities and nature's fury. The plague disrupted convention, reminding Athenians of vulnerability. Amidst ongoing conflict, Athens grappled with an implacable force, transcending martial clashes – an enduring testament to human choices and capricious fate.

77: Athens Carries On

In this episode, we transport you back to the heart of ancient Athens, a city gripped by a devastating plague. We find ourselves still in the second year of the Peloponnesian War. However, our journey takes a different turn as we venture north to the Chalcidice, where Athens has dispatched additional forces to lay siege to Potidaea. Along the way, we'll explore the intricate web of diplomacy in Thrace and Macedon. Returning to Athens as the year draws to a close, we'll witness Pericles navigating a perilous situation amidst the city's suffering. And finally, we will look at the actions by both sides that would close out the campaigning season of the second year of the war.

78: Potidaea, Plataea & Tragedy

Embark on a captivating exploration of ancient Greece through the turbulent life of Pericles, a political giant who shaped Athens for four decades. Follow the gripping narrative of Athens' struggles during the siege of Potidaea, with Pericles facing unexpected challenges, negotiations, and accusations. Witness the grim realities inside the city walls, including cannibalism during the Peloponnesian War. The focus shifts to Plataea, where Spartan king Archidamus spearheads a strategic campaign, leading to a prolonged blockade. Explore Pericles' political legacy amid challenges like the devastating plague, his temporary removal from power, and his poignant moment seeking an exception to a citizenship law. The narrative concludes with Pericles succumbing to the plague, marking the end of an era in ancient Greek politics. Join us in this enthralling journey through untold stories and enduring legacies that shaped classical Greece.

79: Victories of Phormio

In the third year of the war, Athens launches a strategic operation in the Chalcidice to secure Potidaea, facing early challenges against effective light troop. Simultaneously, persuaded by minor allies, Sparta's campaign at the Corinthian Gulf's mouth, sailing past Naupactus, falters due to ill-discipline, divided forces, and defender tactics. Athenian general Phormio initially prevails against numerical odds, but subsequent engagements leave the Athenians outnumbered. In dire straits, Phormio's naval skills reverse losses, routing the Peloponnesians. Spartan attempts to assault Athens' Piraeus are thwarted by bad weather and commander hesitancy, denying them the yearned-for victory. This episode unfolds the intricate twists of ancient naval warfare in the Peloponnesian War's dramatic narrative.

80: Fate of Mytilene

Strap in as we navigate through the strategic negotiations and invasion preparations with the Island of Lesbos rebelling against the Athenian Empire. We'll also analyse the Mytileneans desperate efforts to garner support from the Peloponnesian League. Watch as events on Lesbos unfold with the Athenians establishing a camp, and the Mytileneans strive to unite the island under their leadership. Lastly, brace yourselves as we explore the chilling decision of the Athenians in the wake of the failed Mytilenean revolt - a decision that echoes through the annals of history as an epoch-defining moment in the landscape of the Peloponnesian War.

81: The Terror of War

Uncover the chilling drama of ancient conflict as we journey through the shadows of the Peloponnesian War—revealing the political chaos of Corcyra, and the tragedy of Plataea. This episode uncovers the tales of rebellion, siege, and the sobering reality of political strife, all through the compelling lens of Thucydides' historical narratives. Be prepared to witness the darker side of human nature, where the lust for power leads to a breakdown in social order and a wave of indiscriminate violence that shook the very foundations of Ancient Greece.

82: Sicily Revisited

Embark on a journey through Sicily's rich history, where democracy's birth intertwines with tyrants' whispers. Explore power, betrayal, and the quest for dominion. From Syracuse's liberation to Hieron's tyranny, witness Sicilian intrigue's heart. Delve into Hieron's maneuvers, political bloodshed, and tyrants' legacies. Discover Simonides' counsel, contrasting despots' downfall with Syracuse's democratic revival. Witness revolts, power shifts, and Ducetius' ambitions shaping Sicilian politics. Join our exploration of ancient strategies and timeless power struggles, decoding Sicily's history. Prepare for the Sicilian expedition a decade later.

83: Athens Sails West

Embark on a captivating journey through ancient Sicilian politics, witnessing Syracuse's rise amidst Athenian ambition. Explore the Athenian fleet's strategic maneuvers, led by Laches and Charoeades, as they vie for dominance and Sicilian allegiance. Delve into the complexities of war and diplomacy in a narrative rich with historical insight and vivid storytelling. Join us as we unravel the audacious Athenian expedition, revealing the triumphs, tribulations, and enduring legacies of this pivotal moment in history.