How has the isolation weakened Sparta?

A rare game that, despite the imitation of Thucydideic forms, has nothing to do with Thucydides' concerns. Thucydides, the writing Athenian politician, is an exception in every respect. The depth and plasticity of the portrayal of real political and military events that he offers has not been achieved by any later ancient historian, and because of these qualities the Peloponnesian War becomes a model case of the ancient war par excellence. Some aspects of the dynamics of interstate disputes or mass psychological phenomena described by him appear so transversal that they can and have served time and again as a stimulus for one's own historical reflection, beginning with Thomas Hobbes and ending with works of the 20th century on the "Peloponnesian War »As« ancient world war »with the major conflicts they experienced themselves. This applies, for example, to the work of the literary critic Albert Thibaudet with the title “En campagne avec Thucydide”. It was written in the trenches of the "Grande Guerre" and was one of the book successes in France in the 1920s. Even today's American "neoconservative" thinkers rely on real or alleged reading of Thucydides. 3. The Peloponnesian War and the Course of Universal History But the historical significance of the Peloponnesian War is not limited to the significance of its historian Thucydides. The defeat of Athens can be seen as the great turning point in Greek history of the classical period. In terms of population and the degree of development of its political and economic culture, only the Greater Athens was able to organize the Aegean and the Greek motherland as a stable area of ​​rule. In the first phase of the Peloponnesian War, Athens had successfully asserted itself as a hegemonic power. The gradual disappearance of small states and the unification of the Aegean region under the will of a leading polis (which those affected naturally perceived as a grave injustice) was a dynamic process that began with the Persian Wars and which seemed unstoppable. The complete destruction of the Athenian naval power in the last phase of the Peloponnesian War brought this development to a standstill. Even if the Athenians were to once again become the most important polis state in the concert of the Greek powers in the fourth century, they did not succeed in the absolute restoration of the "previous rule" (Xenophon Hellenika 3: 5, 10). There was no permanent order and pacification of the Greek world, let alone a new process of unification and centralization. While on the one hand the weakened Athens could no longer really overcome the catastrophe of the Peloponnesian War, the other Greek polis states simply did not have the prerequisites for the implementation of lasting leadership. Sparta, the victor in the Peloponnesian War, was particularly unsuitable for hegemonic power. With its extremely small number of full citizens (Spartians), this state, which was praised by contemporary admirers for its stability and which a modern field of research would also like to free from the reputation of the special case, was in reality constantly on the verge of a domestic political catastrophe. The situation in Sparta around 400 is brought up vividly with a contemporary witness. When among the population groups of Lacedaemon who were excluded from political participation, from the oppressed Helots to the Periöks to the Neodamoden (Helots who were made new citizens) and Hypomeiones (old citizens who had lost their political rights), the talk was about the Spartians come, "no one could hide that he would prefer to eat them raw" (Xenophon Hellenika 3,3,6). In self-chosen isolation, the Spartans had neglected to follow cultural progress, in particular the development of a mature monetary economy, not least because they feared that under changed conditions they would not be able to channel the rivalries among the full citizens who are considered to be "equals". In fact, the "equals" were quite different in terms of their financial circumstances, but also in terms of their prestige. Once released from the coercive equality and the narrow domestic conditions, many Spartan officers, officials and even kings had nothing better to do abroad than to catch up on the aristocratic self-development they had previously been denied and to obtain the necessary funds without scruples. Because the Spartans had such great difficulties controlling their own officials abroad, military operations outside the Peloponnese were generally reluctant. Operations with fleets had to be a problem, if only because their construction, equipment and manning could hardly be carried out by the primitive, spartan national economy, which operated with unwieldy iron money. A hesitant and rarely far-reaching foreign policy therefore remained typical of Sparta. One would have preferred to leave it with the small-state conditions of the late Archaic period. At the end of the Peloponnesian War, Sparta was unwillingly forced into the channels of a more modern hegemonic power operating on land and water, but Spartan politics was exhausted in the personal striving for power of individual actors who had no basis at home or were even fought. The victory of the Spartans, that is, of the power that was deeply unsuitable for the leadership of Greece, and the destruction of the rule of Athens in the First Attic League meant in the long run that the Greeks had to leave the shaping of their fate to others. In view of the fact that the rule of the Athenians was by no means pleasant for many Graubünden residents, one might acknowledge this with a shrug. But one must bear in mind that in antiquity the Athenian democracy, with its principle of equality for full citizens, was a more humane exception despite its inadequacies. If, with the failure of Athens’s world historical opportunities, the Macedonian Mon- Peloponnesian War and Universal History 17 arks, very wealthy Roman oligarchs and finally imperial military rulers should rule and shape the Mediterranean area, the end of Athens’s rise also means that a historical development has been interrupted, which might have been happier for humanity. The fact that the defeat of Athens was largely self-inflicted and that the chances of a lasting impact on the Mediterranean world through the systematic and sometimes disturbed Athenian democracy do not change that much. Another aspect of the historical significance of the Peloponnesian War lies in its cultural-historical dimension, which is of course difficult to describe in detail. Whether the cultural bloom of Athens in the 5th century can really be related to the existential experiences of the war, whether, as the ancient historian Eduard Meyer (1855–1930) writes, "the creative power of the war" "has shown itself this time too" , stays open. Long before the war, a dynamic can be observed in Athens in the area of ​​culture that was not slowed down by the war, but perhaps not accelerated either. In the case of certain aspects of culture (in particular the reflection on politics in historiography and in political philosophy) the effects of war and the awareness of the crisis associated with war cannot be dismissed out of hand. For other areas, however, relationships are sometimes established too lightly. For example, the continuation of building activities on the Acropolis during the war (construction of the Erechtheion or the balustrade of the Nike Temple) was supposed to be seen as a sign that an insecure population was afflicted by a particular violence of religious sentiment. But since temples were also built before the Peloponnesian War, one can just as easily see in the construction measures that there were areas of public life in the last years of the Peloponnesian War in which democracy, which was not internally affected by the crisis, existed oriented towards the norms of the pre-war period and normality. But even if the cultural potency of the war should not be overestimated, the world-historical significance of the Peloponnesian War is simply secured by the fact that it offers the historical framework for a number of high cultural achievements to which antiquity has spanned its centuries ( The dominance in European intellectual history that has only recently been lost: Socrates developed his philosophy during the Peloponnesian War, in which he himself actively participated as a hoplite. During the war the great tragedians Sophocles and Euripides wrote and the Attic Comedy with Aristophanes also reached its climax, not to mention the beginnings of ancient history writing already described. Pathetic, but perhaps not entirely wrong, Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717–1768) saw the Peloponnesian War as one of the great exceptions in human history: «This war is perhaps the only one that has been waged in the world, in which art, which is very sensitive, not only suffered nothing, but excelled more than ever. " The Peloponnesian War and Universal History 19 The Causes of the Peloponnesian War 1. The "truest" reason: Sparta's fear of the Athenian rise since the Persian Wars in 432 was determined first in Sparta itself, then in a meeting of the Spartan allies that the Athenians closed 446 Had broken peace. Athens firmly refused ultimatums from the Spartans, and both sides willingly went to war (431). There is hardly an ancient war whose history is better known. In the web of causality that led to the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides worked out the hierarchies between different levels in an astute and model-forming manner, from the real cause to the accusations made to one another and the ultimate demands made immediately before the outbreak of the war. According to his account, there is no clear war guilt. It is true that Sparta was ultimately responsible for the breach of the peace treaty of 446 by taking up the appeal of the Graubünden, especially Corinth, to strike against Athens and establishing a breach of the peace treaty where the legal reasons were only very flimsy. But Sparta's fear of Athens, as Thucydides makes clear in his explanatory excursus on the rise of Athens and on the Athenian-Spartan relations, was anything but unfounded. In the Pentecontaetie, the fifty years between the Persian War and the Peloponnesian War, the sea league led by Athens was transformed into a completely new structure, the resources of which, in connection with its rapid economic and organizational development, guaranteed Athens enormous power (by Greek standards).