Corinth-Corcyra War, 435-431 BC

Corinth-Corcyra War, 435-431 BC

Corinth-Corcyra War, 435-431 BC

The Corinth-Corcyra War of 435-431 BC began as a dispute between Corinth and her colony Corcyra, but the Athenians were soon dragged into the conflict, and it contributed to the outbreak of the Great Peloponnesian War.

The Corinth-Corcyra War was partly the result of the long-standing hostility between Corinth and Corcyra. Corcyra (modern Corfu) had originally be founded as a colony of Corinth, but for some time the younger city had refused to pay her parent city the usual honours, something that was greatly resented in Corinth.

The relationship between the two cities had not always been so hostile. When Corcyra decided to create a colony of her own at Epidamnus, Corinth had been invited to provide the official 'founder' of the city (Phalius, son of Eratocleides, from the then ruling family of the Heraclids). Corinth also provided some of the original colonists.

The city of Epidamnus was founded on the Illyrian coast, in the territory of the Taulantians (modern Albania). The city had prospered for some time, but in the years before the outbreak of the war had been threatened by both internal conflict and by the Taulantians. Things came to a head when the Democratic faction within the city expelled the Aristocrats. The exiled aristocrats joined with the Taulantians and launched a series of piratical attacks on the city.

Both factions from Epidamnus sought help from their mother city of Corcyra, and the exiled aristocrats were clearly the more successful. The ambassadors from the democrats were refused an official audience, while the exiled aristocrats, who were able to point to the tombs of their ancestors in Corcyra, would soon have the active support of the mother city.

When it became clear to the Democrats that they could not expect any help from Corcyra they decided to consult the Oracle at Delphi to find out if they should ask for help from their founder's city of Corinth. The Oracle replied that they should hand their city over to the Corinthians. Unsurprisingly the Corinthians accepted this offer, and prepared to mount an expedition to the city. A force of colonists from Corinth, Ambracia and Leucas soon reached Epidamnus.

When this news reached the Corcyraeans they responded by sending a fleet to besiege Epidamnus, operating alongside the exiles and the Illyrians. News of the siege reached Corinth, where work began on raising a relief force. This consisted of a military contingent, including thirty ships and 3,000 hoplites from Corinth, and a group of new colonists. A number of Corinth's allies also provided ships, and eventually a force of 75 ships carrying 2,000 hoplites was sent to try and lift the siege of Epidamnus.

While this relief fleet was being put together the Corcyraeans sent a diplomatic mission to Corinth, where they demanded that the new colonists withdraw from Epidamnus, and offered to take the issue to arbitration, with neutral cities from the Peloponnese to serve as the arbitrators. The Corinthians responded by demanding that the siege of Epidamnus be lifted before any negotiations could begin. The Corcyraeans suggested that either both sides should withdraw their troops (and the Corinthians their colonists) or both sides should stay in place while the issue went to arbitration. The Corinthians turned down both of these offers, and the fleet sailed.

As the Corinthians sailed north, the Corcyraeans sent a fleet of eighty ships south. The two fleets met somewhere between the mouth of the Ambracian Gulf (the site of the battle of Actium) and Cape Leucimme (or Leukimme) at the southern end of Corcyra. The resulting battle ended in a victory for Corcyra, after which the surviving Corinthians sailed home. On the same day Epidamnus surrendered.

The first phase of the war thus ended with a clear victory for Corcyra, but the Corinthians were not ready to end the fighting. For most of year after the battle of Leucimme the Corcyraeans were in the ascendency, raiding Corinthian allies from the sea, but all the time the Corinthians were building new ships and preparing to strike back. In the summer of 434 BC the Corinthians occupied a series of fortified positions around Actium, while the Corcyraeans positioned themselves around Leucimme. The two fleets and armies then faced each other across the gulf between Corfu and the mainland for the rest of the summer, only returning to their homes at the start of the winter of 434-433 BC.

Up until this point Corcyra had managed to remain neutral in the affairs of mainland Greece, not joining the Athenian or Spartan led leagues, but as the scale of the Corinthian war effort became obvious they decided to try and join the Athenian League. Corinth also sent representatives to Athens, and the two sides got to put their case to an assembly. Thucydides records speeches from both sides, and although the wording is largely his own, the general arguments are probably the ones used at the time. The Corcyraeans admitted that they hadn't been allies of Athens in the past, but that this was a mistake, and they now needed help to preserve their freedom against a powerful threat. They claimed to be the second most powerful naval force in Hellas, and potentially a powerful ally in any future struggle against Sparta. The terms of the Thirty Year Peace that had ended the First Peloponnesian War expressly allowed any neutral state to join either league. Corcyra was an important staging post on the sea routes to Italy and Sicily, major sources of grain for Athens. Finally the Corcyraeans raised the prospect of Corinth taking possession of their powerful fleet, leaving Athens to face the combined fleets of Corinth, Corcyra and the Peloponnese.

The Corinthians responded by attacking Corcyraean neutrality, describing it as a cover for the wrong-doings of their sailors; accusing them of being a disloyal colony, that they were the aggressors in the war over Epidamnus, and that if Athens did allow Corcyra into their league then war between Corinth and Athens would surely follow. The Corinthians also pointed out that they had recently defended Athens' right to punish her allies when the Spartans had been close to declaring war over the Athenian treatment of Samos.

The Athenians need two assemblies to come to a conclusion, but after the second one they decided to side with the Corcyraeans. This would not be a full alliance, in which each side was bound to come to the aid of the other in any war, but a defensive one, in which Athens was only committed to intervene if Corcyra was attacked. Given than Corinth was clearly preparing for just such an attack, this alliance was just what the Corcyraeans needed. A squadron of ten Athenian ships was sent to Corcyra, with orders to avoid battle unless the Corinthians were attempting to land on Corcyraean territory.

The two fleets were soon facing each other close to the southern tip of Corfu, with the Corinthian fleet anchored in a harbour at Chimerium, on the mainland just to the south of Corfu, while the Corcyraean fleet (and their ten Athenian allies) were a little further north, in the Sybota islands (close to the mainland, opposite the southern tip of Corfu). The Corinthian fleet set sail on the night before the battle, only to find the Corcyraeans already at sea. In the resulting battle of Sybota each side's left wing defeated the other's right, but the Corinthian victory was the more significant. They destroyed 70 ships, the Corcyraeans only 30. After a pause in the fighting the Corinthians were about to return to the fray when twenty fresh Athenian ships were sighted. Fearing that they were the advance guard of a larger fleet the Corinthians withdrew. On the following day they sent envoys to the Athenians, who stated that they would only fight if the Corinthians attempted to attack Corcyra. This allowed the Corinthians to sail home, although only after erecting a victory trophy on the mainland close to Sybota. The Corcyraens also erected a trophy, and perhaps had the better claim to victory, having successfully defended their island against attack by a larger fleet.

After the battle of Sybota the Corinth-Corcyra war lost its intensity, before two years later becoming part of the wider Great Peloponnesian War, in which Corcyra fought on the side of Athens and Corinth on the side of Sparta.


Peloponnesian War

The Peloponnesian War (431–404 BC) [2] was an ancient Greek war fought by the Delian League led by Athens against the Peloponnesian League led by Sparta. Historians have traditionally divided the war into three phases. In the first phase, the Archidamian War, Sparta launched repeated invasions of Attica, while Athens took advantage of its naval supremacy to raid the coast of the Peloponnese and attempt to suppress signs of unrest in its empire. This period of the war was concluded in 421 BC, with the signing of the Peace of Nicias. That treaty, however, was soon undermined by renewed fighting in the Peloponnese. In 415 BC, Athens dispatched a massive expeditionary force to attack Syracuse, Sicily the attack failed disastrously, with the destruction of the entire force in 413 BC. This ushered in the final phase of the war, generally referred to either as the Decelean War, or the Ionian War. In this phase, Sparta, now receiving support from the Achaemenid Empire, supported rebellions in Athens's subject states in the Aegean Sea and Ionia, undermining Athens's empire, and, eventually, depriving the city of naval supremacy. The destruction of Athens's fleet in the Battle of Aegospotami effectively ended the war, and Athens surrendered in the following year. Corinth and Thebes demanded that Athens should be destroyed and all its citizens should be enslaved, but Sparta refused.

Although the term "Peloponnesian War" was never used by Thucydides, one of the conflict's most important historians, the fact that the term is all but universally used today is a reflection of the Athens-centric sympathies of modern historians. As prominent historian J. B. Bury remarks, the Peloponnesians would have considered it the "Attic War". [3]

The Peloponnesian War reshaped the ancient Greek world. On the level of international relations, Athens, the strongest city-state in Greece prior to the war's beginning, was reduced to a state of near-complete subjection, while Sparta became established as the leading power of Greece. The economic costs of the war were felt all across Greece poverty became widespread in the Peloponnese, while Athens was completely devastated, and never regained its pre-war prosperity. [4] [5] The war also wrought subtler changes to Greek society the conflict between democratic Athens and oligarchic Sparta, each of which supported friendly political factions within other states, made war a common occurrence in the Greek world.

Ancient Greek warfare, meanwhile, originally a limited and formalized form of conflict, was transformed into an all-out struggle between city-states, complete with atrocities on a large scale. Shattering religious and cultural taboos, devastating vast swathes of countryside, and destroying whole cities, the Peloponnesian War marked the dramatic end to the fifth century BC and the golden age of Greece. [6]

The Peloponnesian War was soon followed by the Corinthian War (394–386 BC), which, although it ended inconclusively, helped Athens regain some of its former greatness.


Contents

Prehistory and founding myths Edit

Neolithic pottery suggests that the site of Corinth was occupied from at least as early as 6500 BC, and continually occupied into the Early Bronze Age, [2] when, it has been suggested, the settlement acted as a centre of trade. [3] However, there is a dramatic drop in ceramic remains during the Early Helladic II phase and only sparse ceramic remains in the EHIII and MH phases thus, it appears that the area was very sparsely inhabited in the period immediately before the Mycenaean period. There was a settlement on the coast near Lechaion which traded across the Corinthian Gulf the site of Corinth itself was likely not heavily occupied again until around 900 BC, when it is believed that the Dorians settled there. [4]

According to Corinthian myth as reported by Pausanias, the city was founded by Corinthos, a descendant of the god Zeus. [5] However, other myths suggest that it was founded by the goddess Ephyra, a daughter of the Titan Oceanus, thus the ancient name of the city (also Ephyra).

Some ancient names for the place are derived from a pre-Greek "Pelasgian" language, such as Korinthos. It seems likely that Corinth was also the site of a Bronze Age Mycenaean palace-city, like Mycenae, Tiryns, or Pylos. According to myth, Sisyphus was the founder of a race of ancient kings at Corinth. It was also in Corinth that Jason, the leader of the Argonauts, abandoned Medea. [6] During the Trojan War, as portrayed in the Iliad, the Corinthians participated under the leadership of Agamemnon.

In a Corinthian myth recounted to Pausanias in the 2nd century AD, [7] Briareus, one of the Hecatonchires, was the arbitrator in a dispute between Poseidon and Helios, between the sea and the sun. His verdict was that the Isthmus of Corinth belonged to Poseidon and the acropolis of Corinth (Acrocorinth) belonged to Helios. Thus, Greeks of the Classical age accounted for the archaic cult of the sun-titan in the highest part of the site. [ citation needed ]

The Upper Peirene spring is located within the walls of the acropolis. "The spring, which is behind the temple, they say was the gift of Asopus to Sisyphus. The latter knew, so runs the legend, that Zeus had ravished Aegina, the daughter of Asopus, but refused to give information to the seeker before he had a spring given him on the Acrocorinthus." (Pausanias, 2.5.1). [8] According to legend, the winged horse Pegasus drank at the spring, [9] and was captured and tamed by the Corinthian hero Bellerophon.

Corinth under the Bacchiadae Edit

Corinth had been a backwater in 8th-century Greece. [10] The Bacchiadae (Ancient Greek: Βακχιάδαι Bakkhiadai) were a tightly-knit Doric clan and the ruling kinship group of archaic Corinth in the 8th and 7th centuries BC, a period of expanding Corinthian cultural power. In 747 BC (a traditional date), an aristocratic ousted the Bacchiadai Prytaneis and reinstituted the kingship, about the time the Kingdom of Lydia (the endonymic Basileia Sfard) was at its greatest, coinciding with the ascent of Basileus Meles, King of Lydia. The Bacchiadae, numbering perhaps a couple of hundred adult males, took power from the last king Telestes (from the House of Sisyphos) in Corinth). [11] The Bacchiads dispensed with kingship and ruled as a group, governing the city by annually electing a prytanis (who held the kingly position [12] for his brief term), [13] probably a council (though none is specifically documented in the scant literary materials), and a polemarchos to head the army.

During Bacchiad rule from 747 to 650 BC, Corinth became a unified state. Large scale public buildings and monuments were constructed at this time. In 733 BC, Corinth established colonies at Corcyra and Syracuse. By 730 BC, Corinth emerged as a highly advanced Greek city with at least 5,000 people. [14]

Aristotle tells the story of Philolaus of Corinth, a Bacchiad who was a lawgiver at Thebes. He became the lover of Diocles, the winner of the Olympic games. They both lived for the rest of their lives in Thebes. Their tombs were built near one another and Philolaus' tomb points toward the Corinthian country, while Diocles' faces away. [15]

In 657 BC, polemarch Cypselus obtained an oracle from Delphi which he interpreted to mean that he should rule the city. [16] He seized power and exiled the Bacchiadae. [17]

Corinth under the tyrants Edit

Cypselus or Kypselos (Greek: Κύψελος ) was the first tyrant of Corinth in the 7th century BC. From 658–628 BC, he removed the Bacchiad aristocracy from power and ruled for three decades. He built temples to Apollo and Poseidon in 650 BC.

Aristotle reports that "Cypselus of Corinth had made a vow that if he became master of the city, he would offer to Zeus the entire property of the Corinthians. Accordingly, he commanded them to make a return of their possessions." [18]

The city sent forth colonists to found new settlements in the 7th century BC, under the rule of Cypselus (r. 657–627 BC) and his son Periander (r. 627–587 BC). Those settlements were Epidamnus (modern day Durrës, Albania), Syracuse, Ambracia, Corcyra (modern day town of Corfu), and Anactorium. Periander also founded Apollonia in Illyria (modern day Fier, Albania) and Potidaea (in Chalcidice). Corinth was also one of the nine Greek sponsor-cities to found the colony of Naukratis in Ancient Egypt, founded to accommodate the increasing trade volume between the Greek world and pharaonic Egypt during the reign of Pharaoh Psammetichus I of the 26th Dynasty.

Greek city-states tended to overthrow their traditional hereditary priest-kings, with increased wealth and more complicated trade relations and social structures. Corinth led the way as the richest archaic polis. [19] The tyrants usually seized power at the head of some popular support, like the signori of late medieval and Renaissance Italy. Often the tyrants calmed the populace by upholding existing laws and customs and strict conservatism in cult practices. A cult of personality naturally substituted for the divine right of the former legitimate royal house, as it did in Renaissance Italy.

Cypselus was the son of Eëtion and a disfigured woman named Labda. He was a member of the Bacchiad kin and usurped the power in archaic matriarchal right of his mother.

According to Herodotus, the Bacchiadae heard two prophecies from the Delphic oracle that the son of Eëtion would overthrow their dynasty, and they planned to kill the baby once he was born. However, the newborn smiled at each of the men sent to kill him, and none of them could bear to strike the blow.

Labda then hid the baby in a chest, [20] and the men could not find him once they had composed themselves and returned to kill him. (Compare the infancy of Perseus.) The ivory chest of Cypselus was richly worked and adorned with gold. It was a votive offering at Olympia, where Pausanias gave it a minute description in his 2nd century AD travel guide. [21]

Cypselus grew up and fulfilled the prophecy. Corinth had been involved in wars with Argos and Corcyra, and the Corinthians were unhappy with their rulers. Cypselus was polemarch at the time (around 657 BC), the archon in charge of the military, and he used his influence with the soldiers to expel the king. He also expelled his other enemies, but allowed them to set up colonies in northwestern Greece. He also increased trade with the colonies in Italy and Sicily. He was a popular ruler and, unlike many later tyrants, he did not need a bodyguard and died a natural death.

He ruled for thirty years and was succeeded as tyrant by his son Periander in 627 BC. [22] The treasury that Cypselus built at Delphi was apparently still standing in the time of Herodotus, and the chest of Cypselus was seen by Pausanias at Olympia in the 2nd century AD. Periander brought Corcyra to order in 600 BC.

Periander was considered one of the Seven Wise Men of Greece. [23] During his reign, the first Corinthian coins were struck. He was the first to attempt to cut across the Isthmus to create a seaway between the Corinthian and the Saronic Gulfs. He abandoned the venture due to the extreme technical difficulties that he met, but he created the Diolkos instead (a stone-built overland ramp). The era of the Cypselids was Corinth's golden age, and ended with Periander's nephew Psammetichus, named after the hellenophile Egyptian Pharaoh Psammetichus I (see above).

Periander killed his wife Melissa. His son Lycophron found out and shunned him, and Periander exiled the son to Corcyra. [24] Periander later wanted Lycophron to replace him as ruler of Corinth, and convinced him to come home to Corinth on the condition that Periander go to Corcyra. The Corcyreans heard about this and killed Lycophron to keep away Periander. [25] [26]

Archaic Corinth after the tyrants Edit

581 BC: Periander's nephew and successor was assassinated, ending the tyranny.

581 BC: the Isthmian Games were established by leading families.

570 BC: the inhabitants started to use silver coins called 'colts' or 'foals'.

550 BC: Construction of the Temple of Apollo at Corinth (early third quarter of the 6th century BC). [27]

550 BC: Corinth allied with Sparta.

525 BC: Corinth formed a conciliatory alliance with Sparta against Argos.

519 BC: Corinth mediated between Athens and Thebes.

Around 500 BC: Athenians and Corinthians entreated Spartans not to harm Athens by restoring the tyrant. [28]

Just before the classical period, according to Thucydides, the Corinthians developed the trireme which became the standard warship of the Mediterranean until the late Roman period. Corinth fought the first naval battle on record against the Hellenic city of Corcyra. [29] The Corinthians were also known for their wealth due to their strategic location on the isthmus, through which all land traffic had to pass en route to the Peloponnese, including messengers and traders. [30]

Classical Corinth Edit

In classical times, Corinth rivaled Athens and Thebes in wealth, based on the Isthmian traffic and trade. Until the mid-6th century, Corinth was a major exporter of black-figure pottery to city-states around the Greek world, later losing their market to Athenian artisans.

In classical times and earlier, Corinth had a temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, employing some thousand hetairas (temple prostitutes) (see also Temple prostitution in Corinth). The city was renowned for these temple prostitutes, who served the wealthy merchants and the powerful officials who frequented the city. Lais, the most famous hetaira, was said to charge tremendous fees for her extraordinary favours. Referring to the city's exorbitant luxuries, Horace is quoted as saying: "non licet omnibus adire Corinthum" ("Not everyone is able to go to Corinth"). [31]

Corinth was also the host of the Isthmian Games. During this era, Corinthians developed the Corinthian order, the third main style of classical architecture after the Doric and the Ionic. The Corinthian order was the most complicated of the three, showing the city's wealth and the luxurious lifestyle, while the Doric order evoked the rigorous simplicity of the Spartans, and the Ionic was a harmonious balance between these two following the cosmopolitan philosophy of Ionians like the Athenians.

The city had two main ports: to the west on the Corinthian Gulf lay Lechaion, which connected the city to its western colonies (Greek: apoikiai) and Magna Graecia, while to the east on the Saronic Gulf the port of Kenchreai served the ships coming from Athens, Ionia, Cyprus and the Levant. Both ports had docks for the city's large navy.

In 491 BC, Corinth mediated between Syracuse and Gela in Sicily.

During the years 481–480 BC, the Conference at the Isthmus of Corinth (following conferences at Sparta) established the Hellenic League, which allied under the Spartans to fight the war against Persia. The city was a major participant in the Persian Wars, sending 400 soldiers to defend Thermopylae [32] and supplying forty warships for the Battle of Salamis under Adeimantos and 5,000 hoplites with their characteristic Corinthian helmets [ citation needed ] ) in the following Battle of Plataea. The Greeks obtained the surrender of Theban collaborators with the Persians. Pausanias took them to Corinth where they were put to death. [33]

Following the Battle of Thermopylae and the subsequent Battle of Artemisium, which resulted in the captures of Euboea, Boeotia, and Attica, [34] the Greco-Persian Wars were at a point where now most of mainland Greece to the north of the Isthmus of Corinth had been overrun. [35]

Herodotus, who was believed to dislike the Corinthians, mentions that they were considered the second best fighters after the Athenians. [36]

In 458 BC, Corinth was defeated by Athens at Megara.

Peloponnesian War Edit

In 435 BC, Corinth and its colony Corcyra went to war over Epidamnus. [37] In 433 BC, Athens allied with Corcyra against Corinth. [38] The Corinthian war against the Corcyrans was the largest naval battle between Greek city states until that time. [39] In 431 BC, one of the factors leading to the Peloponnesian War was the dispute between Corinth and Athens over Corcyra, which probably stemmed from the traditional trade rivalry between the two cities.

Three Syracusan generals went to Corinth seeking allies against Athenian invasion. [40] The Corinthians "voted at once to aid [the Syracusans] heart and soul". They also sent a group to Lacedaemon to rouse Spartan assistance. After a convincing speech from the Athenian renegade Alcibiades, the Spartans agreed to send troops to aid the Sicilians. [41]

In 404 BC, Sparta refused to destroy Athens, angering the Corinthians. Corinth joined Argos, Boeotia, and Athens against Sparta in the Corinthian War. [ citation needed ] [ clarification needed ]

Demosthenes later used this history in a plea for magnanimous statecraft, noting that the Athenians of yesteryear had had good reason to hate the Corinthians and Thebans for their conduct during the Peloponnesian War, [42] yet they bore no malice whatever. [43]

Corinthian War Edit

In 395 BC, after the end of the Peloponnesian War, Corinth and Thebes, dissatisfied with the hegemony of their Spartan allies, moved to support Athens against Sparta in the Corinthian War. [44] [45]

As an example of facing danger with knowledge, Aristotle used the example of the Argives who were forced to confront the Spartans in the battle at the Long Walls of Corinth in 392 BC. [46]

379–323 BC Edit

In 379 BC, Corinth, switching back to the Peloponnesian League, joined Sparta in an attempt to defeat Thebes and eventually take over Athens. [ citation needed ] [ clarification needed ]

In 366 BC, the Athenian Assembly ordered Chares to occupy the Athenian ally and install a democratic government. This failed when Corinth, Phlius and Epidaurus allied with Boeotia.

Demosthenes recounts how Athens had fought the Spartans in a great battle near Corinth. The city decided not to harbor the defeated Athenian troops, but instead sent heralds to the Spartans. But the Corinthian heralds opened their gates to the defeated Athenians and saved them. Demosthenes notes that they “chose along with you, who had been engaged in battle, to suffer whatever might betide, rather than without you to enjoy a safety that involved no danger.” [47]

These conflicts further weakened the city-states of the Peloponnese and set the stage for the conquests of Philip II of Macedon.

Demosthenes warned that Philip's military force exceeded that of Athens and thus they must develop a tactical advantage. He noted the importance of a citizen army as opposed to a mercenary force, citing the mercenaries of Corinth who fought alongside citizens and defeated the Spartans. [48]

In 338 BC, after having defeated Athens and its allies, Philip II created the League of Corinth to unite Greece (included Corinth and Macedonia) in the war against Persia. Philip was named hegemon of the League.

In the spring of 337 BC, the Second congress of Corinth established the Common Peace.

Hellenistic period Edit

By 332 BC, Alexander the Great was in control of Greece, as hegemon.

During the Hellenistic period, Corinth, like many other Greece cities, never quite had autonomy. Under the successors of Alexander the Great, Greece was contested ground, and Corinth was occasionally the battleground for contests between the Antigonids, based in Macedonia, and other Hellenistic powers. In 308 BC, the city was captured from the Antigonids by Ptolemy I, who claimed to come as a liberator of Greece from the Antigonids. However, the city was recaptured by Demetrius in 304 BC. [49]

Corinth remained under Antigonid control for half a century. After 280 BC, it was ruled by the faithful governor Craterus but, in 253/2 BC, his son Alexander of Corinth, moved by Ptolemaic subsidies, resolved to challenge the Macedonian supremacy and seek independence as a tyrant. He was probably poisoned in 247 BC after his death, the Macedonian king Antigonus II Gonatas retook the city in the winter of 245/44 BC.

The Macedonian rule was short-lived. In 243 BC, Aratus of Sicyon, using a surprise attack, captured the fortress of Acrocorinth and convinced the citizenship to join the Achaean League.

Thanks to an alliance agreement with Aratus, the Macedonians recovered Corinth once again in 224 BC but, after the Roman intervention in 197 BC, the city was permanently brought into the Achaean League. Under the leadership of Philopoemen, the Achaeans went on to take control of the entire Peloponnesus and made Corinth the capital of their confederation. [50]

Roman era Edit

Under the Romans, Corinth was rebuilt as a major city in Southern Greece or Achaia. It had a large [52] mixed population of Romans, Greeks, and Jews. The city was an important locus for activities of the imperial cult, and both Temple E [53] and the Julian Basilica [54] have been suggested as locations of imperial cult activity.

Biblical Corinth Edit

Corinth is mentioned many times in the New Testament, largely in connection with Paul the Apostle's mission there, testifying to the success of Caesar's refounding of the city. Traditionally, the Church of Corinth is believed to have been founded by Paul, making it an Apostolic See.

The apostle Paul first visited the city in AD 49 or 50, when Gallio, the brother of Seneca, was proconsul of Achaia. [55] Paul resided here for eighteen months (see Acts 18:11). Here he first became acquainted with Priscilla and Aquila with whom he later traveled. They worked here together as tentmakers (from which is derived the modern Christian concept of tentmaking), and regularly attended the synagogue. In AD 51/52, Gallio presided over the trial of the Apostle Paul in Corinth. This event provides a secure date for the book of the Acts of the Apostles within the Bible. Silas and Timothy rejoined Paul here, having last seen him in Berea (Acts 18:5). Acts 18:6 suggests that Jewish refusal to accept his preaching here led Paul to resolve no longer to speak in the synagogues where he travelled: 'From now on I will go to the Gentiles'. [56] However, on his arrival in Ephesus (Acts 18:19), the narrative records that Paul went to the synagogue to preach.

Paul wrote at least two epistles to the Christian church, the First Epistle to the Corinthians (written from Ephesus) and the Second Epistle to the Corinthians (written from Macedonia). The first Epistle occasionally reflects the conflict between the thriving Christian church and the surrounding community.

Some scholars believe that Paul visited Corinth for an intermediate "painful visit" (see 2 Corinthians 2:1) between the first and second epistles. After writing the second epistle, he stayed in Corinth for about three months [Acts 20:3] in the late winter, and there wrote his Epistle to the Romans. [57]

Based on clues within the Corinthian epistles themselves, some scholars have concluded that Paul wrote possibly as many as four epistles to the church at Corinth. [58] Only two are contained within the Christian canon (First and Second Epistles to the Corinthians) the other two letters are lost. (The lost letters would probably represent the very first letter that Paul wrote to the Corinthians and the third one, and so the First and Second Letters of the canon would be the second and the fourth if four were written.) Many scholars think that the third one (known as the "letter of the tears" see 2 Cor 2:4) is included inside the canonical Second Epistle to the Corinthians (it would be chapters 10–13). This letter is not to be confused with the so-called "Third Epistle to the Corinthians", which is a pseudepigraphical letter written many years after the death of Paul.

There are speculations from Bruce Winter that the Jewish access to their own food in Corinth was disallowed after Paul's departure. By this theory, Paul had instructed Christian Gentiles to maintain Jewish access to food according to their dietary laws. This speculation is contested by Rudolph who argues that there is no evidence to support this theory. He instead argues that Paul had desired the Gentile Christians to remain assimilated within their Gentile communities and not adopt Jewish dietary procedures. [59]

Byzantine era Edit

The city was largely destroyed in the earthquakes of AD 365 and AD 375, followed by Alaric's invasion in 396. The city was rebuilt after these disasters on a monumental scale, but covered a much smaller area than previously. Four churches were located in the city proper, another on the citadel of the Acrocorinth, and a monumental basilica at the port of Lechaion. [60]

During the reign of Emperor Justinian I (527–565), a large stone wall was erected from the Saronic to the Corinthian gulfs, protecting the city and the Peloponnese peninsula from the barbarian invasions from the north. The stone wall was about six miles (10 km) long and was named Hexamilion ("six-miles").

Corinth declined from the 6th century on, and may even have fallen to barbarian invaders in the early 7th century. The main settlement moved from the lower city to the Acrocorinth. Despite its becoming the capital of the theme of Hellas and, after c. 800, of the theme of the Peloponnese, it was not until the 9th century that the city began to recover, reaching its apogee in the 11th and 12th centuries, when it was the site of a flourishing silk industry. [60]

In November 856, an earthquake in Corinth killed an estimated 45,000. [61]

The wealth of the city attracted the attention of the Italo-Normans under Roger of Sicily, who plundered it in 1147, carrying off many captives, most notably silk weavers. The city never fully recovered from the Norman sack. [60]

Principality of Achaea Edit

Following the sack of Constantinople by the Fourth Crusade, a group of Crusaders under the French knights William of Champlitte and Geoffrey of Villehardouin carried out the conquest of the Peloponnese. The Corinthians resisted the Frankish conquest from their stronghold in Acrocorinth, under the command of Leo Sgouros, from 1205 until 1210. In 1208 Leo Sgouros killed himself by riding off the top of Acrocorinth, but resistance continued for two more years. Finally, in 1210 the fortress fell to the Crusaders, and Corinth became a full part of the Principality of Achaea, governed by the Villehardouins from their capital in Andravida in Elis. Corinth was the last significant town of Achaea on its northern borders with another crusader state, the Duchy of Athens. The Ottomans captured the city in 1395. The Byzantines of the Despotate of the Morea recaptured it in 1403, and the Despot Theodore II Palaiologos, restored the Hexamilion wall across the Isthmus of Corinth in 1415.

Ottoman rule Edit

In 1458, five years after the final Fall of Constantinople, the Turks of the Ottoman Empire conquered the city and its mighty castle. The Ottomans renamed it Gördes and made it a sanjak (district) centre within the Rumelia Eyalet. The Venetians captured the city in 1687 during the Morean War, and it remained under Venetian control until the Ottomans retook the city in 1715. Corinth was the capital of the Mora Eyalet in 1715–1731 and then again a sanjak capital until 1821.

Independence Edit

During the Greek War of Independence, 1821–1830 the city was contested by the Ottoman forces. The city was officially liberated in 1832 after the Treaty of London. In 1833, the site was considered among the candidates for the new capital city of the recently founded Kingdom of Greece, due to its historical significance and strategic position. Nafplio was chosen initially, then Athens.

In 1858, the village surrounding the ruins of Ancient Corinth was destroyed by an earthquake, leading to the establishment of New Corinth 3 km (1.9 mi) NE of the ancient city.

Acrocorinth, the acropolis Edit

Acrocorinthis, the acropolis of ancient Corinth, is a monolithic rock that was continuously occupied from archaic times to the early 19th century. The city's archaic acropolis, already an easily defensible position due to its geomorphology, was further heavily fortified during the Byzantine Empire as it became the seat of the strategos of the Thema of Hellas. Later it was a fortress of the Franks after the Fourth Crusade, the Venetians and the Ottoman Turks. With its secure water supply, Acrocorinth's fortress was used as the last line of defense in southern Greece because it commanded the isthmus of Corinth, repelling foes from entry into the Peloponnesian peninsula. Three circuit walls formed the man-made defense of the hill. The highest peak on the site was home to a temple to Aphrodite which was Christianized as a church, and then became a mosque. The American School began excavations on it in 1929. Currently, Acrocorinth is one of the most important medieval castle sites of Greece.

Two ports: Lechaeum and Cenchreae Edit

Corinth had two harbours: Lechaeum on the Corinthian Gulf and Cenchreae on the Saronic Gulf. Lechaeum was the principal port, connected to the city with a set of long walls of about 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) length, and was the main trading station for Italy and Sicily, where there were many Corinthian colonies, while Cenchreae served the commerce with the Eastern Mediterranean. Ships could be transported between the two harbours by means of the diolkos constructed by the tyrant Periander.


Corinth-Corcyra War, 435-431 BC - History

The Peloponnesian War (431-404 BCE)

The Peloponnesian War was a civil war in Greece between the Delian League and the Peloponnesian League.

Causes of the Peloponnesian War

The Peloponnesian War was primarily caused by growing hostility between the Delian and Peloponnesian Leagues. This hostility was caused by the growing Athenian Empire as a major power in the Aegean Sea. Sparta, seeing Athens prosperity, soon grew worried that Athens might try to incorporate the Peloponnesus into its empire.

The First Peloponnesian War: The Peloponnesian War was preceded by another war, commonly known as the "First Peloponnesian War". This war was caused primarily when during a conflict between the city-states of Corinth (a city-state which predominantly occupied most of the isthmus) and Megara (a city-state which lied in the northern part of the isthmus), Athens sided with Megara, hoping that if Megara won, that Athens would be able to claim some of the isthmus that had previously remained entirely under the influence of the Peloponnesian League. This ensued a small war between city-states of the Delian League and the Peloponnesian League, who immediately came to the aid of their allies during the conflict.

The Thirty Years Peace (446 BCE): The First Peloponnesian War was ended with a peace treaty signed by Athens and Sparta which identified Athens and Sparta as head of their respective alliances and formerly established the Athenian empire from the Delian League. Supposedly, the treaty was to last thirty years, however the treaty was broken after the start of the "Great Peloponnesian War in 431 BCE.

The Great Peloponnesian War (sometimes referred to as just the Peloponnesian War): The Great Peloponnesian War occurred just 15 years after the signing of the Thirty Year Peace Treaty (effectively turning what was supposed to be Thirty Years of peace into fifteen years of tension)

The Samian War (440-439 BCE): In the year 440 BCE a member of the Delian League, the city-state of Samos (an Ionian island city-state) started a conflict between itself and Miletus. When Athens ordered to Samos to stop, they refused. As a result, Athens launched a military assault against Samos, and replaced its government with a military garrison. However, the Samian leaders returned with Persian support. This ensued a naval battle between Athens and Samos, and the war ended when Samos surrendered after a nine month blockade of the city by the Athenian navy. This was a step toward the Peloponnesian War since when Samos appealed to the Peloponnesian League and it was Corinth that kept them out (because Corinth was trying to earn the support of Athens)

The Corinth-Corcyra War (435-431 BCE): Corinth was a city-state that occupied most of the isthmus. Corinth originally set up Corcyra as a colony, but when Corcyra began to refuse to pay tribute and respect to Corinth, Corinth attacked Corcyra to force them to pay respect. Up until that time Corcyra had stayed out of any League, however after it became clear that Corinth was going to attack the city, they appealed to Athens for help. Event though Corinth did remind Athens that they kept the Peloponnesian League out of the Samian War, Athens still accepted Corcyra into the League. This caused Corinth to ask the Peloponnesian League to declare war against the Delian League, and of course the already threatened Spartans agreed, thus causing the Great Peloponnesian War in 431 BCE.

Athens in the Peloponnesian War

Athens posed a considerable threat to Sparta in the war due to their extreme wealth and superior naval power at the time.

Athens Navy: The Athenian navy was by far the most superior navy in the ancient world at the time. In fact, it could be compared to the Spanish armada of the 16th century. The superior navy of Athens originated during the Archaic age. Athens has always been a major sea port because of its proximity to the sea. The Athens navy actually started as a fleet of trading ships who traveled through the Mediterranean trading between various regions and city-states. Soon after the start of the Greco-Persian War, Athens converted their merchant ships into large warships. In fact, these large oar powered ships ( trireme ) helped Athenian ships become independent of the winds that usually drove the ships of the time. Furthermore, as Athens incorporated more and more city-states into the Delian league, they gained their navies as well. At the peak of the Athenian Empire, Athens had a fleet of 400 ships that were manned by over 80,000 rowers.

The effect of the Athenian navy of the democracy of Athens: The row powered trireme helped to further the cause of democracy in Athens since these rowed ships needed people to row the oars. This gave the people a considerable amount of power because if you had no rowers, you had no navy.

Athenian wealth in the Peloponnesian War: Athens had another advantage in the Peloponnesian war, the funds of the Delian League. The Peloponnesian League had a major flaw, Sparta did not collect money as a tribute, but instead collected soldiers. Though eventually it was Sparta's soldiers that won the war, Athens's wealth helped it to increase its navy and pay for its sailors.

Athenian weaknesses in the Peloponnesian War: Though the Athenians had a superior navy and immense wealth, Athens also had several weaknesses and disadvantages.

The Location of the City-states: The city-states of the Peloponnesian League were virtually immune to the Athenian navy since many of the city-states were located inland, miles away from the coast. Because of it, the Athenian navy couldn't attack the inland cities of the Peloponnesian League (except Corinth who was near the sea), the navy was rendered virtually useless.

The Spartan army: Though Sparta didn’t have the wealth of the Delian League, they did have the army of the Peloponnesian League. Like mentioned above, Sparta did not collect money tribute, but instead collected tribute in the form of soldiers. Sparta then trained the soldiers in its united Peloponnesian Army and used it to invade Athens via the isthmus and lay siege to Athens.

The values of democracy: This last disadvantage could be debated, but the main reason for the surrender of Athens started when Athens opened its gates to the surrounding farmland and area. In doing so, it allowed the surrounding people to take refuge in the walls of the city. This caused the population of Athens to increase, making the city more crowded. This ensued a plague in the city, killing most of its inhabitants, including its leader, Pericles.


The final part of the Peloponnesian war

Alcibiades in the 411. BC left Sparta and began to persuade the Persians that for Persia was not useful to Sparta strengthened. Alcibiades promised to help the Athenians if they changed the state constitution. Athens oligarchs have abolished the democratic constitution and established its own in which executive power was held by an assembly of 400 wealthy citizens. The Council of 400 ruled in Athens only for 4 months. Athens Democrats in the navy at island of Samos were against this council. They formed the Assembly of 5000, amnested Alcibiades, and made him for the commander of the navy. From the Council of 400, one group separated led by Theramenes who joined Democrats, and the war broke out, in which they defeated Democrats, a Council of 400 had been destroyed. The people voted a new constitution in which the holder of power became the Assembly (Council) of 5000.

In the autumn of 411. B.C war spread to the Hellespont. The Athenians there successfully destroyed most of the Spartans navy and gained the upper hand. Sparta offered peace to Athens, that was rejected. Council of 5000 was also short-lived. Enthusiasted with military success, Athenian democrats took power of the Council 5000 and restored the old order of the age of Pericles.

During the 410 th and 409 B.C the Athenians in Greece were on the defensive, while on the sea battles they won. The Spartans then set Lysander as the commander of the navy, who began to defeat the Athenians at the coast of Asia Minor. The last time the Athenians smiled luck, was late summer 406 B.C when they defeated the Spartan navy. Sparta, that lost a second navy, again offered peace that the Athenians had refused. After the battle, the Athenians lost 8 strategists because they tried to save shipwrecked from the storm and thus lost the strategists at key moments.

End of the war

The Spartans had already in the 405 BC a new navy purchased with Persian money. Lysander the same year attacked and defeated the Athenian navy on the Hellespont, that made the Athenians finally lost the war. Loss of navy had disabled the delivery of grain in Piraeus in April 404 BC and Athens capitulated. Athenians were forced to pull down all strongholds of Piraeus and walls between Piraeus and Athens, submited other ships, to give up all the property outside of Attica, and to receive the city exiled oligarchs and became a member of the Peloponnesian League.

When Lysander approached Piraeus, Athens National Assembly gave temporary executive powers to the thirty, until a new constitution was built. This thirty were independently governed. They named a council of 500 aristocrats and gave it huge judicial powers. They admitted full citizenship only to a privileged group of 3000 citizens. Dictatorship of thirty lasted only a few months. In the 403 BC the Athenians had established its old democratic order.


Greece

The Corinth-Corcyra War was partly the result of the long-standing hostility between Corinth and Corcyra. Corcyra (modern Corfu) had originally be founded as a colony of Corinth, but for some time the younger city had refused to pay her parent city the usual honours, something that was greatly resented in Corinth.

The relationship between the two cities had not always been so hostile. When Corcyra decided to create a colony of her own at Epidamnus, Corinth had been invited to provide the official 'founder' of the city (Phalius, son of Eratocleides, from the then ruling family of the Heraclids). Corinth also provided some of the original colonists.

The city of Epidamnus was founded on the Illyrian coast, in the territory of the Taulantians (modern Albania). The city had prospered for some time, but in the years before the outbreak of the war had been threatened by both internal conflict and by the Taulantians. Things came to a head when the Democratic faction within the city expelled the Aristocrats. The exiled aristocrats joined with the Taulantians and launched a series of piratical attacks on the city.

Both factions from Epidamnus sought help from their mother city of Corcyra, and the exiled aristocrats were clearly the more successful. The ambassadors from the democrats were refused an official audience, while the exiled aristocrats, who were able to point to the tombs of their ancestors in Corcyra, would soon have the active support of the mother city.

When it became clear to the Democrats that they could not expect any help from Corcyra they decided to consult the Oracle at Delphi to find out if they should ask for help from their founder's city of Corinth. The Oracle replied that they should hand their city over to the Corinthians. Unsurprisingly the Corinthians accepted this offer, and prepared to mount an expedition to the city. A force of colonists from Corinth, Ambracia and Leucas soon reached Epidamnus.

When this news reached the Corcyraeans they responded by sending a fleet to besiege Epidamnus, operating alongside the exiles and the Illyrians. News of the siege reached Corinth, where work began on raising a relief force. This consisted of a military contingent, including thirty ships and 3,000 hoplites from Corinth, and a group of new colonists. A number of Corinth's allies also provided ships, and eventually a force of 75 ships carrying 2,000 hoplites was sent to try and lift the siege of Epidamnus.

While this relief fleet was being put together the Corcyraeans sent a diplomatic mission to Corinth, where they demanded that the new colonists withdraw from Epidamnus, and offered to take the issue to arbitration, with neutral cities from the Peloponnese to serve as the arbitrators. The Corinthians responded by demanding that the siege of Epidamnus be lifted before any negotiations could begin. The Corcyraeans suggested that either both sides should withdraw their troops (and the Corinthians their colonists) or both sides should stay in place while the issue went to arbitration. The Corinthians turned down both of these offers, and the fleet sailed.

As the Corinthians sailed north, the Corcyraeans sent a fleet of eighty ships south. The two fleets met somewhere between the mouth of the Ambracian Gulf (the site of the battle of Actium) and Cape Leucimme (or Leukimme) at the southern end of Corcyra. The resulting battle ended in a victory for Corcyra, after which the surviving Corinthians sailed home. On the same day Epidamnus surrendered.

The first phase of the war thus ended with a clear victory for Corcyra, but the Corinthians were not ready to end the fighting. For most of year after the battle of Leucimme the Corcyraeans were in the ascendency, raiding Corinthian allies from the sea, but all the time the Corinthians were building new ships and preparing to strike back. In the summer of 434 BC the Corinthians occupied a series of fortified positions around Actium, while the Corcyraeans positioned themselves around Leucimme. The two fleets and armies then faced each other across the gulf between Corfu and the mainland for the rest of the summer, only returning to their homes at the start of the winter of 434-433 BC.

Up until this point Corcyra had managed to remain neutral in the affairs of mainland Greece, not joining the Athenian or Spartan led leagues, but as the scale of the Corinthian war effort became obvious they decided to try and join the Athenian League. Corinth also sent representatives to Athens, and the two sides got to put their case to an assembly. Thucydides records speeches from both sides, and although the wording is largely his own, the general arguments are probably the ones used at the time. The Corcyraeans admitted that they hadn't been allies of Athens in the past, but that this was a mistake, and they now needed help to preserve their freedom against a powerful threat. They claimed to be the second most powerful naval force in Hellas, and potentially a powerful ally in any future struggle against Sparta. The terms of the Thirty Year Peace that had ended the First Peloponnesian War expressly allowed any neutral state to join either league. Corcyra was an important staging post on the sea routes to Italy and Sicily, major sources of grain for Athens. Finally the Corcyraeans raised the prospect of Corinth taking possession of their powerful fleet, leaving Athens to face the combined fleets of Corinth, Corcyra and the Peloponnese.

The Corinthians responded by attacking Corcyraean neutrality, describing it as a cover for the wrong-doings of their sailors accusing them of being a disloyal colony, that they were the aggressors in the war over Epidamnus, and that if Athens did allow Corcyra into their league then war between Corinth and Athens would surely follow. The Corinthians also pointed out that they had recently defended Athens' right to punish her allies when the Spartans had been close to declaring war over the Athenian treatment of Samos.

The Athenians need two assemblies to come to a conclusion, but after the second one they decided to side with the Corcyraeans. This would not be a full alliance, in which each side was bound to come to the aid of the other in any war, but a defensive one, in which Athens was only committed to intervene if Corcyra was attacked. Given than Corinth was clearly preparing for just such an attack, this alliance was just what the Corcyraeans needed. A squadron of ten Athenian ships was sent to Corcyra, with orders to avoid battle unless the Corinthians were attempting to land on Corcyraean territory.

The two fleets were soon facing each other close to the southern tip of Corfu, with the Corinthian fleet anchored in a harbour at Chimerium, on the mainland just to the south of Corfu, while the Corcyraean fleet (and their ten Athenian allies) were a little further north, in the Sybota islands (close to the mainland, opposite the southern tip of Corfu). The Corinthian fleet set sail on the night before the battle, only to find the Corcyraeans already at sea. In the resulting battle of Sybota each side's left wing defeated the other's right, but the Corinthian victory was the more significant. They destroyed 70 ships, the Corcyraeans only 30. After a pause in the fighting the Corinthians were about to return to the fray when twenty fresh Athenian ships were sighted. Fearing that they were the advance guard of a larger fleet the Corinthians withdrew. On the following day they sent envoys to the Athenians, who stated that they would only fight if the Corinthians attempted to attack Corcyra. This allowed the Corinthians to sail home, although only after erecting a victory trophy on the mainland close to Sybota. The Corcyraens also erected a trophy, and perhaps had the better claim to victory, having successfully defended their island against attack by a larger fleet.


Battle of Sybota

The Battle of Sybota (Ancient Greek: Σύβοτα ) took place in 433 BCE between Corcyra (modern Corfu) and Corinth, and was, according to Thucydides, the largest naval battle between Greek city states until that time [ citation needed ] . It was one of the immediate catalysts for the Peloponnesian War.

Corinth had been in dispute with Corcyra, an old Corinthian colony which no longer wanted to remain under Corinthian influence. Corcyra, which had the second largest navy in Greece at the time, allied itself with Athens, an enemy of Corinth (as Corinth was allied with Sparta). Athens sent ten ships to Corcyra to reinforce the Corcyraean fleet, with instructions not to fight the Corinthian fleet unless they attempted to land on the island. Corinth, meanwhile, assembled a fleet of ships under the command of Xenoclides and prepared to sail to Corcyra.

Corcyra gathered a fleet under Miciades, Aisimides and Eurybatus, who made the Sybota islands their base of operations. The Athenian commanders, Lacedaimonius (the son of Cimon), Diotimus, and Proteas, sailed with them. Corcyra had 110 ships, plus the additional 10 provided by Athens, while Corinth had 150 ships. When the Corinthian ships arrived, the Corcyraeans formed their line of battle, with the Athenians on the right and their own ships making up the rest of the line in three squadrons. The Corinthian ships were lined up with the Megarians and Ambraciots on the right, the Corinthians on the left, and the remainder of their allies in the centre. Both sides fought with hoplites on their ships, along with archers and javelin-throwers, in a manner Thucydides calls "old-fashioned." Instead of ramming and sinking the other ships, both sides attempted to board their opponents' ships and fight what was essentially a land battle at sea. The Athenian ships, although they were part of the line, did not at first join the battle, as the Corinthians had not attempted to land.

The Corcyraean ships on the left routed the Corinthian right wing, chasing them all the way back to their camp on the coast, which they then burned. The Corinthian left wing, however, was more successful, and the Athenians were forced to come to the aid of their allies. Despite the Athenian intervention, the Corinthians were victorious, and sailed through the wreckage of defeated ships often killing survivors rather than taking prisoners (including, although they did not know it, some of their own allies who had been defeated on the right-wing). They did not kill everyone, however, and captured a number of prisoners.

The Corcyraeans and Athenians headed back to Corcyra to defend the island, but when the Corinthians arrived, they almost immediately retreated, as 20 more Athenian ships under the command of Glaucon were on their way. The next day, the new Athenian ships threatened a second battle if the Corinthians attempted to land on Corcyra. The Corinthians retreated completely rather than risk another battle. Both the Corinthians and Corcyraeans claimed victory, the Corinthians having won the first battle, and the Corcyraeans having avoided a Corinthian occupation of their island.

Soon after this battle, the Athenians and Corinthians fought again at the Battle of Potidaea, leading to a formal declaration of war from Sparta.


Corinth

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Corinth, Greek Kórinthos, an ancient and a modern city of the Peloponnese, in south-central Greece. The remains of the ancient city lie about 50 miles (80 km) west of Athens, at the eastern end of the Gulf of Corinth, on a terrace some 300 feet (90 metres) above sea level. The ancient city grew up at the base of the citadel of the Acrocorinthus—a Gibraltar-like eminence rising 1,886 feet (575 metres) above sea level. The Acrocorinthus lies about 1.5 miles (2.5 km) south of the Isthmus of Corinth, which connects the Peloponnese with central Greece and which also separates the Saronic and Corinthian gulfs from each other. The citadel of the Acrocorinthus rises precipitously above the old city and commands the land route into the Peloponnese, a circumstance that gave Corinth great strategic and commercial importance in ancient times.

The site was occupied from before 3000 bce , but its history is obscure until the early 8th century bce , when the city-state of Corinth began to develop as a commercial centre. Corinth’s political influence was increased through territorial expansion in the vicinity, and by the late 8th century it had secured control of the isthmus. The Corinthians established colonies at Corcyra and Syracuse, which would later assure them a dominant position in trade with the western Mediterranean.

During the 8th and 7th centuries Corinth was ruled by the Bacchiad family of nobles, but they were eventually overthrown by Cypselus, who, followed by his son Periander, ruled the city as tyrants from about 657 to 550. These tyrants founded further colonies, but the chief source of Corinth’s wealth remained its possession of the isthmus, which controlled not only the land traffic between Attica and the Peloponnese but also the traffic between the Aegean and Ionian seas by way of the Corinthian and Saronic gulfs. Periander facilitated the transit of ships and cargoes, which were hauled overland from gulf to gulf, by building a stone roadway between them, thus sparing seafarers the arduous voyage around the southern tip of the Peloponnese. By this time Corinth had harbours on both gulfs that flanked it, Lechaeum on the Gulf of Corinth and Cenchreae on the Saronic Gulf. Under the tyrants, Corinth’s colonial expansion was extended along the Adriatic and into Macedonia.

The tyranny of the Cypselids was followed in about 550 bce by an oligarchical government that embarked on a major building program for the city. In the second half of the 6th century, however, Corinth was outstripped by Athens in both seamanship and commerce, and it was often the bitter commercial rivalry between Corinth and Athens that was to generate crises in Greek politics over the next 200 years. After the Greco-Persian Wars (c. 546–c. 448 bce ), Corinth joined Sparta against Athens during the Peloponnesian War (431–404 bce ), but, though that conflict brought about the military defeat of Athens, it did little to revive the power of Corinth, which joined with some of its former allies to defeat Sparta in the Corinthian War (395–387 bce ).

Corinth was subsequently involved in most of the political conflicts of Greece, but chiefly as a pawn in the struggles of more powerful city-states because of the strategic value of its citadel. Corinth’s independence finally ended in 338 bce when Philip of Macedon garrisoned the Acrocorinthus and made the city the centre of the League of Corinth. The city remained the puppet of Macedonia and subsequently of the Achaean League until the latter involved it in a fatal conflict with Rome, and in 146 bce Corinth was destroyed by the Roman general Lucius Mummius.

In 44 bce Julius Caesar reestablished Corinth as a Roman colony. The new Corinth flourished and became the administrative capital of the Roman province of Achaea. The city is known to readers of the New Testament for the letters addressed to its Christian community by the apostle Paul. It enjoyed some prosperity under Byzantine rule but declined in the later European Middle Ages. After the Turkish conquest in 1458, it was reduced to a country town.

The remains of the ancient city of Corinth lie just north of the Acrocorinthus, with which it was joined by a circuit wall about 6 miles (10 km) in circumference. The city was connected with its principal port, Lechaeum, by two parallel walls and a paved highway that led to the propylaea, the entrance to the agora (the city’s main marketplace). Most of the substantial remains in the agora are works from the Roman period, but it acquired its present extent much earlier, in the 4th century bce , with the construction of an enormous stoa (portico), 525 feet (160 metres) in length, that enclosed its southern side. Immediately behind the south stoa began the road leading to the city’s other port of Cenchreae, on the Saronic Gulf. On a small rise northwest of the agora stand seven Doric columns, which are the remains of the Temple of Apollo (c. 550 bce ). The remains of other temples, villas, a theatre, shops, public baths, pottery factories, a gymnasium, a large triumphal arch, and other buildings dot the site, which since 1896 has been extensively excavated.

Modern Corinth, three miles northeast of the site of ancient Corinth, was founded in 1858 after an earthquake leveled the latter. It is primarily a hub of communications between northern and southern Greece and is the primary point of export for local fruit, raisins, and tobacco. It is also the chief town of the dímos (municipality) of Corinth in the Peloponnese (Modern Greek: Pelopónnisos) periféreia (region), as well as the seat of an archbishop. Pop. (2001) 30,434 (2011) 30,176.

This article was most recently revised and updated by Jeff Wallenfeldt, Manager, Geography and History.


Peloponnesian War - 431-404 BC

The Peloponnesian War was prolonged to an immense length, and, long as it was, it was short without parallel for the misfortunes that it brought upon Hellas. Never had so many cities been taken and laid desolate, here by the barbarians, here by the parties contending (the old inhabitants being sometimes removed to make room for others) never was there so much banishing and blood-shedding, now on the field of battle, now in the strife of faction. Old stories of occurrences handed down by tradition, but scantily confirmed by experience, suddenly ceased to be incredible there were earthquakes of unparalleled extent and violence eclipses of the sun occurred with a frequency unrecorded in previous history there were great droughts in sundry places and consequent famines, and that most calamitous and awfully fatal visitation, the plague. All this came upon them with the war.

By the brilliant part which the Athenians under Themistocles had played against the Persians, the influence of Athens had greatly increased throughout Greece and this was further strengthened by the fact that the war against Persia, which still continued, was chiefly conducted by sea, where Athens was much more powerful than Sparta. From this date then begins the period of the leadership or hegemony of Athens in Greece, which continued to the close of the Peloponnesian war, 404 BC. Athens now exerted her influence to form a confederacy including the Greek islands and maritime towns as well as Athens herself, the object of which was to provide for the continuance of the war by the payment into a common treasury at Delos of a fixed sum of money, and by furnishing ships for the same purpose. In this confederacy Athens of course had the lead, and gradually was able to render tributary many of the islands and smaller maritime states.

In 469 BC the victories won by the Athenians over the Persians was crowned by the double victory' of Cimon, the son of Miltiades, over the fleet and army of the Persians on the river Eurymcdon, in the south of Asia Minor and this victorywas followed by the Peace of Cimon, which secured the freedom and independence of all Greek towns and islands. Shortly after followed the brilliant administration of Pericles, during which Athens reached the height of her political grandeur, while at the same time she flourished in trade, in arts, in science and in literature.

The position of Athens, however, soon raised up a number of enemies. Sparta regarded her prosperity with jealousy and the arrogance of Athens had produced a pretty general feeling of indignation and hatred. Two hostile confederacies were formed in Greece. At the head of one of these confederacies was the city of Athens, which was joined by all the Ionian states of Greece, and more or less supported by the democratic party in every state. At the head of the other confederacy stood Sparta, which was similarly joined by all the Dorian states, and supported by the aristocratic party everywhere.

At last in 431 war was declared by Sparta on the complaint of Corinth that Athens had furnished assistance to the island of Corcyra in its war against the mother city and on that of Megara, that the Megarean ships and merchandise were excluded from all the ports and markets of Attica.

In the first part of the Peloponnesian War the Spartans had considerable successes, while a great calamity befell the Athenians, who had collected all the inhabitants of the country districts of Attica within the walls of the city and in consequence a pestilence broke out which carried off thousands of the inhabitants, and among them Pericles himself. From this blow, however, the city soon recovered, and in 425 the early successes of the Spartans in Attica were compensated by the capture of Pylos in Messenia by the Athenian general Demosthenes, who at the same time succeeded in shutting up 400 Spartans in the small island of Sphacteria, opposite Pylos, where they were ultimately starved to surrender. The person to whom the surrender was made was the demagogue ?eon, who, in consequence of his military successes, obtained the command of an army which was sent to operate against the Spartan general Brasidas in Thrace. But in 422 he was defeated by Brasidas before the town of Amphipolis, and himself slain, after which the opposite party in Athens got the upper hand, and concluded the peace with Sparta known as the Peace of Nicias (421 BC).

The effect of this peace was to divide the Spartans and the Corinthians, who had hitherto been allies. The latter united themselves with Argos, Elis and some of the Arcadian towns to wrest from Sparta the hegemony of the Peloponnesus. In this design they were supported by Alcibiades, a nephew of Pericles, a man of handsome figure and great personal accomplishments. The war which was now waged between Sparta and Corinth with her allies resulted, however, in favor of the former, whose arms were victorious at the battle of Mantinea in 418.

Soon after this the Athenians resumed hostilities, fitting out in 415 BC a magnificent army and fleet, under the command of Alcibiades, Nicias and Lamachus, for the reduction of the Dorian city of Syracuse in Sicily. This undertaking, which renewed the race hatred between Sparta and Athens, was a complete failure. Alcibiades was accused in his absence of several offenses against religion and the constitution, and deprived of his command. Thirsting for revenge, he betook himself to Sparta, and exhorted the city to renew the war with Athens. By his advice one Spartan army was despatched 'o Attica, where it took up such a position as prevented the Athenians from obtaining supPlies from Eubcea, while another was sent under 'jylippus to assist their kindred in Sicily. These steps were ruinous to Athens. Lamachus fell ln the siege of Syracuse, and the Athenian fleet was totally destroyed. The reinforcements sent out under Nicias and Demosthenes were defeated (413 BC) by the combined Spartan and Syracusan armies. All the Athenians who escaped death were made captives and compelled to work as slaves in the quarries of Sicily, although it may be mentioned as an interesting fact that many of these captives obtained their liberty by being able to recite fragments of Euripides.

After this disaster many of the allies of Athens joined the Spartans, who now pressed on the war with greater energy. The Athenians recalled Alcibiades, who returned in 407, and was received by his fellow-citizens with enthusiasm as their expected deliverer. A few months later he was again an exile, having been deprived of the command because one of his subordinates had lost a naval battle fought off Ephesus in his absence. During the rest of the war the Athenians had only one success, the naval victory won off the islands of Arginusse over the Spartan Callicratidas in 406. In the following year (405) the Spartans made themselves masters of the whole of the Athenian fleet except nine vessels, while the majority of the crews were on shore at ^Egospotamos on the Hellespont. The Spartans now easily subdued the islands and states that still maintained their allegiance to the Athenians, and laid seige to Athens itself. In 404 B.C. the war was terminated by the Athenians' surrender. Sparta immediately imposed upon Athens an aristocratic form of government, placing the supreme power in the hands of the Thirty Tyrants. Only a year later, however, (403), Thrasybulus was able to overthrow this hated rule and reestablished the democracy.

The fall of Athens resulted in Sparta's leadership or hegemony in Greece, which lasted till the battle of Leuctra, 371 BC. The Spartans now abused their power and speedily roused the hatred and jealousy of the other states. The Greek states which had up to this time been, and still continued to be, leaders, had now lost almost entirely their manliness and independent spirit, and no longer maintained the hereditary war against Persia, but each sought the aid of that power for its own purpose. The Spartans did indeed send an expedition into Asia Minor, but it came to nothing and the states of Greece, the Spartans included, at last, in 387, agreed to the disgraceful Peace of Antalcidas, by which the whole of the west coast of Asia Minor was ceded to the Persians, and the Greek colonies there thus deprived of the independence that had been secured to them by the Peace of Cimon.

An act of violence committed by a Spartan general in Thebes in 380 in the end led to the complete downfall of that city. The aristocratic party in Thebes, when the Spartan army happened to be in the neighborhood, prevailed upon the general to give his assistance in overthrowing their opponents and establishing an aristocratic government. A number of the less prominent members of the defeated party, among them Pelopidas, made their escape to Athens, where they got the support and assistance of the democratic party there. They soon returned in disguise to their own city, surprised and murdered the leaders of the aristocratic party, expelled the Spartan garrison, and again set up a democratic government. These circumstances give a good idea of the fury of party strife which was then general in the Greek cities. The immediate result of this counter-revolution.

Thucydides, an Athenian, wrote the history of the war between the Peloponnesians and the Athenians, beginning at the moment that it broke out, and believing that it would be a great war and more worthy of relation than any that had preceded it. This belief was not without its grounds.


What Caused The Peloponnesian War

The Peloponnesian War lasted from roughly from 431 BC to 404 BC. The two major players in the war were Athens and Sparta. Athens was a democratic state with a strong naval-based military. Sparta was on the other hand an oligarchical state with a disciplined land army. After the Persian Wars, Athens became more powerful, and the fear of Athenian dominance would spark the Peloponnesian Wars. However this thirst for power along with poor leadership would be the downfall of Athens.
Sparta was the dominant force in the Hellenic world for a long time. With Athenian power growing quickly, Sparta felt threatened. Sparta had a militaristic form of government, which was its form of government for over four hundred years. It allowed them to develop.

Epidamnus was a small colony with ties to both Corcyra and Corinth. Corcyra felt that Corinth was interfering by providing aid. They looked to Athens for support, but Athens could only interfere if Corinth directly attacked. Corinth argued that Athens took offensive action and thus broke the truce. This would set off a domino effect sending the city-states into a major war.
Another cause that led to war was when Athens attempted to strengthen control on their ally Potidaea. This didn’t help with the fear of Athenian power. The Athenians ordered Potidaea to take down their walls and hand over hostages, and their reasoning behind is was the fear of revolt in other areas that would hurt Athens both politically and economically. Because of this Potidaea allied itself with Corinth and Sparta, refusing to pay tribute to Athens. Here we begin to see Athens overreaching for.

Their aims had increase over the years of war. Athens cloaked its reasons for expansion on the ideas of protecting itself but quickly turned to be seen as a desire for conquest and imperial domination. For example the Sicilian expedition was masked as an expedition to put down the Syracusans who were looking to destroy the power of Athens but in reality it was an expedition of conquest. Athens was more then eager to capture the resources of Sicily and they didn’t know much of the people who lived there. The leader of Athens, Nicias argued that conquering Sicily would be difficult and even more difficult to control if conquered. The Athenian people however want the benefits of victory and without a strong leader such as Pericles the benefits of victory clouded their judgment. The expedition turned out to be a grave mistake and Athens had miserably.


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