The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition (A New History of the Peloponnesian War)
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Why did the Peace of Nicias fail to reconcile Athens and Sparta? In the third volume of his landmark four-volume history of the Peloponnesian War, Donald Kagan examines the years between the signing of the peace treaty and the destruction of the Athenian expedition to Sicily in 413 B.C. The principal figure in the narrative is the Athenian politician and general Nicias, whose policies shaped the treaty and whose military strategies played a major role in the attack against Sicily.
were not in communication with each other. 68HCT I V , 4 1 . 695 . 3 7 . 5 . 54 THE UNRAVELING OF THE PEACE to renew the war. The Spartan and Boeotian magistrates might be convinced that Argos could be brought over to Sparta and that Sparta would then turn against Athens, but the Corinthians had reason to doubt it. They had always counted on fear, not security, to move the Spartans to fight . 70 A powerful A rgive alliance i ndependent of Sparta might goad the Spartans to ac tion , but Argos
su rrendered on condition that they should be received i nto the alliance of their besiegers. The loss of Orchomenus was a serious blow to Sparta, for it compli cated communication between Sparta and her northern allies. Argos and Mantinea already h indered access from the north to both Laconia in the east and Elis in the west. The conquest of Orchomenus closed still another route (see Map s a). The capitulation of Orchomenus infuriated the Spartans, who only then undertook to punish Agis. They
escape so easily ? Perhaps they at first underestimated the danger; possi bly they were still reluctant to comm it themselves until they had a clearer idea of Athens' intention s . 5 But they did eventually break off their festival , thus acknowledging the danger. Then, having sent an army, they did not use it. Such vacillation must have stemmed from a division of opinion within Sparta. Until the democratic rebellion at Argos most Spartans must have been pleased to have an alliance with the
oligarchic exiles would per suade the Spartans to restore them by force. The A rgive ambas sadors presented their case to the Spartans and their assembled allies, and the A rgive oligarchs argued against them . The debate was long, but at last the Spartans decided in favor of the oligarchs and voted to march against A rgos . Still, for some time, "there were delays and postponements . " 7 Thucydides' terse ac count of this assembly is reminiscent of the fuller accounts he gives of the
but no match for Alcibiades as a public orator. H is father was named Erasistratus, as were his son and nephew . 33 Since an Erasistratus, probably the son or nephew, appears on the l ist of the Th i rty Tyrants of 404 , 34 it is general ly thought that Phaeax was sympathetic to oligarchy. 35 The ancient tradi tion about his role in the ostracism is confused. Modern scholars have speculated about it, some a rgu i ng that Phaeax was a tool of Alcibiades, others claiming that he was used by N