Siege of Mytilene, 428-427 BC

Siege of Mytilene, 428-427 BC

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Siege of Mytilene, 428-427 BC

The siege of Mytilene (428-427 BC) saw the Athenians defeat a revolt on the island of Lesbos, and is most famous for the two debates about the correct punishment for the rebels.

Before the revolt the island of Lesbos was part of the Athenian alliance, but not a member of the more formal Athenian Empire. Instead the different communities on the island had retained their independence, and instead of paying taxes to Athens like the members of the empire, they continued to provide a contingent to the fleet and the army. Despite this greater level of independence the inhabitants of Lesbos had become increasingly concerned at attitude of the Athenians towards the empire. They had wanted to revolt before the outbreak of the Great Peloponnesian War, but had received no support from Sparta and had backed down.

The revolt of 428 BC was led by Mytilene, the largest city on the island. The revolt was carefully planned. Work began on improving the fortifications of the city and on building new warships, while supplies and mercenaries were ordered from Pontus. This time the Mytilenians could rely on support from Sparta and from Boeotia, but they couldn't rely on the support of every community on the island. The people of Methymna on Lesbos, and of the nearby island of Tenedos, remained loyal to Athens, They sent messages to the city to warn the Athenians that the Mytilenians were prepared to revolt and were attempting to unite the island against them.

When this news arrived in Athens the city was suffering from the plague, and so their reaction was delayed. Eventually they decided to send forty triremes to Mytilene, in the hope that they could catch the entire population while they were outside the city celebrating the feat of the Malean Apollo. This plan was betrayed to the Mytilenians, and the Athenian fleet found itself facing a fully prepared city. After a short naval battle outside the harbour the Athenian commanders agreed to an armistice, and a Mytilenian delegation was sent to Athens. At the same time a second mission was sent to Sparta. As expected the embassy to Athens failed, and war broke out between Athens and Lesbos.

The first serious fighting came when the Mytilenians emerged from the city and attacked the Athenians camped nearby. The resulting battle ended with a Mytilenian victory, but they were unwilling to risk camping outside the city, and retreated back inside the walls. The Athenians received some reinforcements from their allies, and built two fortified camps which between them blocked the two harbours of Mytilene, but the land side of the city remained open.

Meanwhile the embassy to Sparta had been successful. The Spartans agreed to come to the aid of Mytilene, and raised a large fleet with the intention of invading Attica while the Athenians were engaged elsewhere. The Athenian managed to raise a fresh fleet of 100 warships, and faced with this unexpected resistance the Peloponnesian fleet withdrew.

The formal siege of Mytilene didn’t begin until the autumn of 428 BC. The Athenian presence outside the city wasn't enough to stop the Mytilenians from campaigning on the island. While the Athenians and Spartans were campaigning near the Isthmus of Corinth the Mytilenians attempted to capture Methymna. The attack failed, as did a counter attack made by Methymna against Antissa, but these events did convince the Athenians that it was time to enforce a proper siege.

At the start of Autumn 428 the Athenians sent 1,000 citizen hoplites, under the command of Paches, son of Epicurus, to conduct the siege. This new army was large enough to complete the blockade of Mytilene. They built a single wall around the city, with forts at key locations. With the harbour already blockaded, the siege lines were now complete.

The Mytilenian's best chance of victory now rested a Spartan fleet of forty ships commanded by Alcidas, but this fleet didn't set sail until the summer of 427 BC. Mytilenian resistance had been bolstered when the Spartan Salaethus had managed to sneak past the Athenian lines to let them know that a fleet was on the way, but this was the only effective help that they received from Sparta. The fleet spent far too long travelling around the Peloponnese and didn't reach Erythrae, on the Ionia coast (the eastern coast of the Aegean) until seven days after the fall of the city. Some members of the expedition wanted to sail to Mytilene anyway in the hope that they would catch the Athenians unprepared to resist an attack, while others wanted to establish a foothold on the Ionian coast, but Alcidas decided to return to the Peloponnese.

The Mytilenians had been forced to surrender by a lack of food. When it became clear to Salaethus that the Spartan relief fleet wasn't going to arrive in time he decided to lead the defenders in an attack on the Athenian lines. The Mytilenians were issued with heavy armour and equipment, but when they realised what Salaethus had in mind they refused to obey him or the city government, and instead demanded that all the food remaining in the city be distributed equally. The city's rulers realised that they were about to lose control of the situation, and entered into negotiations with the Athenians. Paches, the Athenian commander, agreed not to execute, imprison or enslave any of the population until the Athenian people had decided what to do. The Mytilenians were allowed to send envoys to Athens to argue their case, but in return had to agree to submit to whatever punishment the Athenians decided on.

This led to the most famous incident related to the siege. In the first debate on the fate of Mytilene the mood was angry, and the Athenians decided to execute the entire population of the city. A trireme was dispatched to Mytilene with the grim orders. On the following morning the mood had softened, and a second debate was held. Thycicdes records the two main arguments, with Cleon son of Cleaenetus representing the harsh argument and Diodotus, son of Eucrates, the more moderate view. Cleon argued for a reign of terror, in which Athens's allies would be kept in place by fear of the harsh punishment that would follow any revolt. Diodotus argued that this would be counterproductive. Any rebels would know that there was nothing to be gained from surrendering early, and would inevitably fight to the death, making it much more expensive and time consuming to crush even a minor revolt. The moderate view prevailed, and a second trireme was sent to chase the first. The ambassadors from Mytilene promised the crew of this second ship a big reward if they arrived in time. Despite started a full day behind the second ship arrived just behind the first, just after the order to massacre the inhabitants had been read, but before it had been put into effect.

The new terms were much less harsh. Around 1,000 of the leading rebels, who had already been taken to Athens, were executed. The entire island of Lesbos, apart from the lands held by Methymna, was divided into 3,000 holdings. 300 were held to be sacred to the gods, and the rest were distributed by lots to Athenians. These Athenians then charged the locals a rent. Athens also took direct control of the Mytilenian holdings on the Ionian coast.


The Mytilenean government (which was oligarchic) had considered revolting from Athens even before the Peloponnesian War broke out, but when they initially approached Sparta in the 430s BC, the Spartans would not promise to accept them into the Peloponnesian League. Without the necessary Spartan support that would have made revolt feasible, the Mytilenean's plan came to nothing. Ώ] In 428, however, the Mytilenean leaders judged that the time was ripe for revolt, and both Boeotia and Sparta participated in planning the rebellion. The primary motivation for the rebellion was the Mytilenean's desire to gain control of all of Lesbos Athens generally discouraged the creation of multi-city subunits of the empire, and would certainly not have permitted Lesbos to be unified. ΐ] Moreover, Mytilene's privileged status as an independent state, commanding its own fleet, within the Athenian empire seems to have given its leaders both confidence in their chances of success and concern that, if they did not revolt, they might in the future be reduced to the same tributary status as the majority of Athens' allies. Α] The Mytileneans, therefore, began strengthening their fortifications and sent for mercenaries and supplies from the Black Sea region. Before they had completed their preparations, however, their plans were betrayed to the Athenians by several of their enemies in the region, namely the Methymnians and Tenedians, and by a group of Mytilenean citizens who represented Athens' interests in that city (probably members of the democratic faction there). Β]


As an ancient city, lying off the east coast, Mytilene was initially confined to a small island just offshore that later was joined to Lesbos, creating a north and south harbor. The early harbors of Mytilene were linked during ancient times by a channel 700 meters long and 30 meters wide. The Roman writer Longus speaks of white stone bridges linking the two sides. The Greek word εὔριπος eúripos is a commonly-used term when referring to a strait. The strait allowed ancient warships called triremes, with three tiers of rowers or more. The boats that passed were ca. six meters wide plus oars and had depth of two meters.

The areas of the city that were densely populated connected the two bodies of land with marble bridges. They usually followed a curved line. The strait begins at the old market called Apano Skala. It was also close to Metropolis Street and ended at the Southern Harbor. One could argue that the channel transversed what is now called Ermou Street. Over time the strait began to collect silt and earth. There was also human intervention for the protection of the Castle of Mytilene. The strait eventually filled with earth. [2]

Mytilene contested successfully with Mithymna in the north of the island for the leadership of the island in the seventh century BC and became the centre of the island's prosperous eastern hinterland. [ citation needed ] Her most famous citizens were the poets Sappho and Alcaeus and the statesman Pittacus (one of the Seven Sages of Greece). The city was famed for its great output of electrum coins struck from the late sixth through mid-fourth centuries BC. [3]

The Mytilenean revolt against Athens in 428 BC was overcome by an Athenian expeditionary force. The Athenian public assembly voted to massacre all the men of the city and to sell the women and children into slavery but the next day in the Mytilenian Debate changed its mind. A fast trireme sailed the 186 nautical miles (344 km) in less than a day and brought the decision to cancel the general massacre, but a thousand citizens were executed for taking part in the rebellion.

Aristotle lived on Mytilene for two years, 337–335 BC, with his friend and successor, Theophrastus (a native of the island), after being the tutor to Alexander, son of King Philip II of Macedon. [4] [5]

The Romans, among whom was a young Julius Caesar, successfully defeated Mytilene in 81 BC at the Siege of Mytilene. [6] Although Mytilene supported the losing side in most of the great wars of the first century BC, her statesmen succeeded in convincing Rome of her support of the new ruler of the Mediterranean and the city flourished in Roman times.

In AD 56, Luke the Evangelist, Paul the Apostle and their companions stopped there briefly on the return trip of Paul's third missionary journey (Acts 20:14), having sailed from Assos (about 50 km (31 mi) away). From Mytilene they continued towards Chios (Acts 20:15).

The novel Daphnis and Chloe by Longus, is set in the country around it and opens with a description of the city.

Scholar and historian Zacharias Rhetor, also known as Zacharias of Mytilene was from Mytilene and lived from 465 to around 536. He was made Bishop of Mytilene and may have been a Chalcedonian Christian. He either died and or was deposed around 536 and 553. [7]

The city of Mytilene was also home to ninth-century Byzantine saints who were brothers, Archbishop George, Symeon Stylites, and David the Monk. The Church of St. Symeon, Mytilene venerates one of the three brothers.

Catching the eye of the Empress Zoë Porphyrogenita, Constantine IX Monomachos was exiled to Mytilene on the island of Lesbos by her second husband, Michael IV the Paphlagonian. The death of Michael IV and the overthrow of Michael V in 1042 led to Constantine being recalled from his place of exile and appointed as a judge in Greece. [8]

Lesbos and Mytilene had an established Jewish population since ancient times. In 1170, Benjamin of Tudela found ten small Jewish communities on the island. [9]

In the Middle Ages, it was part of the Byzantine Empire and was occupied for some time by the Seljuqs under Tzachas in 1085. In 1198, the Republic of Venice obtained the right to commerce from the city's port.

In the 13th century, it was captured by the Emperor of Nicaea, Theodore I Laskaris. In 1335, the Byzantines, with the help of Ottoman forces, reconquered the island, then property of the Genoese nobleman Domenico Cattaneo. In 1355, emperor John V Palaiologos gave it to the Genoese adventurer Francesco Gattilusio, who married the emperor's sister, Maria. They renovated the fortress in 1373, and it remained in Genoese hands until 1462, when it was besieged and captured by the Ottoman sultan Mehmed the Conqueror.

Mytilene along with the rest of Lesbos remained under Ottoman control until the First Balkan War in 1912, when in November it became part of the Kingdom of Greece.

Mytilene is located in the southeastern part of the island, north and east of the Bay of Gera. It has a land area of 107.46 square kilometres (41.49 sq mi) [10] and a population of 36,196 inhabitants (2001). With a population density of 336.8/km 2 it is by far the most densely populated municipal unit in Lesbos. The next largest towns in the municipal unit are Vareiá (pop. 1,254), Pámfila (1,247), Mória (1,207), and Loutrá (1,118). The Greek National Road 36 connects Mytilene with Kalloni. Farmlands surround Mytilene, the mountains cover the west and to the north. The airport is located a few kilometres south of town. Since the 2011 local government reform, the cities and towns within the municipality changed. [11]

Province Edit

The province of Mytilene (Greek: Επαρχία Μυτιλήνης ) was one of the provinces of the Lesbos Prefecture. Its territory corresponded with that of the current municipal units Mytilene, Agiasos, Evergetoulas, Gera, Loutropoli Thermis, Mantamados and Polichnitos. [12] It was abolished in 2006.

Climate Edit

Climate data for Mytilene
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 20.2
Average high °C (°F) 12.1
Daily mean °C (°F) 9.5
Average low °C (°F) 6.7
Record low °C (°F) −4.4
Average precipitation mm (inches) 129.9
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 9.0 8.1 6.5 4.8 2.7 0.8 0.4 0.4 1.3 3.3 6.8 10.0 54.1
Average relative humidity (%) 71.0 69.8 57.5 63.9 62.6 57.3 56.0 57.4 59.5 66.1 71.0 72.0 64.5
Source 1: Hellenic National Meteorological Service [13]
Source 2: NOAA [14]
Year Town population Municipality population
1981 24,991
1991 23,971 33,157
2001 27,247 36,196
2011 [1] 29,656 37,890
  • Agorá
  • Chalikas (upper and lower)
  • Chrisomallousa
  • Epano Skala
  • Kallithea
  • Kamares
  • Ladadika
  • Lagada
  • Pyrgélia
  • Lazaretto/Vounaraki

Main streets Edit

  • Ermou Street
  • Elyti Avenue
  • Kountourioti Street
  • Theofrastou Street
  • Ellis Street
  • Vernardaki
  • Vournazon
  • Eftalioti
  • Myrivili

Mytilene has a port with ferries to the nearby islands of Lemnos and Chios and Ayvalık and at times Dikili in Turkey. The port also serves the mainland cities of Piraeus, Athens and Thessaloniki. One ship, named during the 2001 IAAF games in Edmonton Aeolus Kenteris, after Kostas Kenteris, used to serve this city (his hometown) with 6-hour routes from Athens and Thessaloniki. The main port serving Mytilene on the Greek mainland is Piraeus.

The city produces ouzo. There are more than 15 commercial producers on the island.

The city exports also sardines harvested from the Bay of Kalloni, olive oil, ladotyri cheese and woodwork.

Media Edit

The town of Mytilene has a large number of neoclassical buildings, public and private houses. Some of them are the building of the Lesbos Prefecture, the old City Hall, the Experimental Lyceum and various mansions and hotels all over the town.

The Baroque church of Saint Therapon dominates at the port with its impressive style.

By 2015, the city of Mytilene had become a primary entry point for refugees and migrants who seek to pass through Greece to resettle elsewhere in Europe. In 2015, over half a million people arrived in Lesbos. [15] The number of individuals coming through Lesbos has dwindled since the signing of the EU-Turkey deal which restricted the number of refugees that could legally resettle in Europe. [16] As of July 2017 [update] , seventy to eighty refugees were still arriving in Greece daily despite the deal and "many of them on Lesbos", according to Daniel Esdras, the chief of the International Organization for Migration (IOM). [17]

    (in Greek : Κέντρο Υποδοχής και Ταυτοποίησης Μόριας), better known as Mória Refugee Camp, or just "Mória", was the biggest refugee camp in Europe. [18] It was located outside the village of Moria (Greek: Μόρια Mória). Enclosed by barbed wire and a chain-link fence, the military camp served as a European Union hotspot camp. It burned down and was permanently closed in September 2020. A new closed reception centre will be built in 2021 at Vastria near Nees Kydonies. [19]
    is a camp which has been transformed into a living space for around 700 refugees classified as vulnerable. [20] It will be replaced by a new closed reception centre at Vastria near Nees Kydonies in 2021. [21]
    or Lesbos Solidarity, once a children's holiday camp, aims to support the most vulnerable refugees who pass through Mytilene: families with children, the disabled, women who are pregnant, and the injured. The camp focuses on humanitarian aid and on providing for the various needs of refugees, including food, medical help, clothing, and psychological support. [22]

Archaeological investigations at Mytilene began in the late 19th century when Robert Koldewey (later excavator of Babylon) and a group of German colleagues spent many months on the island preparing plans of the visible remains at various ancient sites like Mytilene. Significant excavations, however, do not seem to have started until after the First World War when in the mid-1920s Evangelides uncovered much of the famous theatre (according to Plutarch it was the inspiration for Pompey's theatre in Rome in 55 BC, the first permanent stone theatre in Rome) on the hill on the western side of town. Subsequent work in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s by various members of the Archaeological Service revealed more of the theatre, including a Roman conversion to a gladiatorial arena. Salvage excavations carried out by the Archaeological Service in many areas of the city have revealed sites going back to the Early Bronze Age although most have been much later (Hellenistic and Roman). Particularly significant is a large stoa over a hundred metres long recently dug on the North Harbour of the city. It is clear from various remains in different parts of the city that Mytilene was indeed laid out on a grid plan as the Roman architect Vitruvius had written. [ citation needed ]

Archaeological excavations carried out between 1984 and 1994 in the Castle of Mytilene by the University of British Columbia and directed by Caroline and Hector Williams revealed a previously unknown sanctuary of Demeter and Kore of late classical/Hellenistic date and the burial chapel of the Gattelusi, the medieval Genoese family that ruled the northern Aegean from the mid-14th to mid-15th centuries of our era. The Demeter sanctuary included five altars for sacrifices to Demeter and Kore and later also to Cybele, the great mother goddess of Anatolia. Among the discoveries were thousands of oil lamps, terracotta figurines, loom weights and other dedications to the goddesses. Numerous animal bones, especially of piglets, also appeared. The Chapel of St. John served as the church of the castle and as a burial place for the Gattelusi family and its dependents. Although conversion to a mosque after the Ottoman capture of the city in 1462 resulted in the destruction of many graves, some remained. The great earthquake of February 1867 damaged the building beyond repair and it was demolished the Ottomans built a new mosque over the ruins to replace it later in the 19th century.

Other excavations done jointly with the 20th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities near the North Harbour of the city uncovered a multiperiod site with remains extending from a late Ottoman cemetery (including a "vampire" burial, a middle aged man with 20 cm (8 in) spikes through his neck, middle and ankles) to a substantial Roman building constructed around a colonnaded courtyard (probably a tavern/brothel in its final phase in the mid-4th century AD) to remains of Hellenistic structures and debris from different Hellenistic manufacturing processes (pottery, figurines, cloth making and dyeing, bronze and iron working) to archaic and classical levels with rich collections of Aeolic grey wares. A section of the late classical city wall runs across the site which was close to the channel that divided the mainland from the off shore island part of the city. Considerable remains of the two moles that protected the large North Harbour of the city are still visible just below or just breaking the surface of the sea it functioned as the commercial harbour of the ancient city although today it is a quiet place where a few small fishing boats are moored. [ citation needed ]

The city has two excellent archaeological museums, one by the south harbour in an old mansion and the other two hundred metres further north in a large new purpose built structure. The former contains the rich Bronze Age remains from Thermi, a site north of Mytilene dug by the British in the 1930s as well as extensive pottery and figurine displays the former coach house accommodates ancient inscriptions, architectural pieces, and coins. The latter museum is especially rich in mosaics and sculpture, including the famous late Roman mosaic floor from the "House of Menander" with scenes from plays by that Athenian 4th-century BC playwright. There are also mosaics and finds from other Roman mansions excavated by the Greek Archaeological Service under the direction of the archeologist Aglaia Archontidou-Argyri.

There are 15 primary schools in Mytilene, along with seven lyceums, and eight gymnasiums. [ citation needed ] There are six university schools with 3671 undergraduates, the largest in the University of the Aegean. Here also is the Headquarters, the Central Library and the Research Committee of Aegean University. The University of Aegean is housed in privately owned buildings, in rented buildings located in the city centre and in modern buildings on the University Hill.

Theophanes was from the town of Mytilene on the island of Lesbos and lived in the middle of the 1st century BC. [1] He played a leading role in resisting Mithridates VI of Pontus on Lesbos in the 80s BC. He met Pompey, the successful, young, Roman general who was nicknamed "the Great" (magnus), when the latter was using Mytilene as a naval base against pirates in 67 BC, and became a member of his retinue. [1]

Theophanes was one of the most intimate friends of Pompey, whom he accompanied in many of his campaigns, and who frequently followed his advice on public as well as private matters. [3]

He was one of a group of cultured Greeks who accompanied Roman imperatories on their campaigns and acted as guides to an unfamiliar world, advisers, and sometimes chroniclers or panegyrists. [1]

Pompey held Theopanes in such high esteem that he presented him with Roman citizenship in the presence of his army, after a speech he eulogising his merits. [4] Theopanes was appointed praefectus fabrum, or chief-of-staff, to Pompey. [1] Around 62 BC Theophanes took the name of Pompeius after his patron. Such was his influence with Pompey that, in the course of the same year, he obtained for his native city the privileges of a free state, although it had espoused the cause of Mithridates VI of Pontus, and had given up the Roman general, Manlius Aquillius, to Pontus. [5]

Theophanes came to Rome with Pompey after the conclusion of the wars in the east. There he adopted Lucius Cornelius Balbus, of Gades, a favourite of his patron. [6] He continued to live in Pompey's household on close terms, and we see from Cicero's letters that his society was courted by many of the Roman nobles, on account of his well-known influence with Pompey. [7] When the civil war broke out he accompanied Pompey to Greece, where Pompey appointed him commander of the Fabri, and consulted him and Lucceius on all important matters in the war, much to the indignation of the Roman nobles. [8] After the Battle of Pharsalus Theophanes fled with Pompey from Greece, and it was owing to his advice that Pompey went to Egypt, where he was killed. [9] After the death of Pompey, Theophanes took refuge in Italy. He was pardoned by Julius Caesar, and was still alive in 44 BC, as evidenced by one of Cicero's letters. [10]

Theophanes wrote the history of Pompey's campaigns. He represented the exploits of his hero in the most favourable light, and did not hesitate, as Plutarch more than hints, to invent a false tale for the purpose of injuring the reputation of an enemy of the Pompeian family. [11]

Theophanes died in Rome, some time after 44 BC. After his death the Lesbians paid divine honours to his memory. [12] Theophanes left behind him a son, Marcus Pompeius Theophanes, whom Augustine sent to Asia in the capacity of procurator, and at the time that Strabo wrote the younger Theophanes was one of the friends of Tiberius. The latter emperor, however, put his descendants to death towards the end of his reign, in AD 33, because their ancestor had been one of Pompey's friends, and had received after his death divine honours from the Lesbians. [13] The people of Mytilene commemorated Theophanes as a hero after his death and put his portrait on their bronze coins. From the likeness a marble portrait of the man has been identified as well as dozens of his images in relief on the bottom of special bowls perhaps made to celebrate his posthumous status. Excavations both in the Castle of Mytilene and elsewhere in the town have uncovered a variety of them. [1]

The Siege of Mytilene

Before the siege of Mytilene, tension had risen to the island. The island of Lesbos was a part of the Athenian alliance and were not included in the empire. Because of this alliance, the island remained independent, but had to depend on the Athenian army for protection. The people of the island were growing with anger towards the Athenian army. The plans of destroying them were brought up, but because they were independent and certainly with accessories to do so, the island backed down.

Before long, Sparta and Boeotia sent their support to Mytilene. They began working on a revolt against the Athenians. The majority of the island consented with this support. However, the community of Methymna and Tenedos stayed with Athens and would inform them of the upcoming revolt. At the time when Athens received this letter, the plague was beginning to take place and were down a few soldiers. Athens decided to send a few of their soldiers to Lesbos and Sparta to stop the revolt. Unfortunately for Athens, a war had broken out.

Around 428 BC, the siege of Mytilene began. Athens sent 1,000 soldier to begin the siege, they continued to build a single wall surrounding the city. The city of Mytilene waited for the help of Sparta as Athens waited them out. During this time, Sparta was gathering an army of forty ships to be sent to Mytilene. Too much time had passed and Mytilene was forced to surrender due to the lack of food. The city leader decided to come to equal terms with the Athenian army. Paches, the leader of the Athenian army decided that he would wait to hear back from Athens to continue. After debate in Athens on what to do with the Mytilene people, they had decided that 1,000 of the rebels were to be executed. The island of Lesbos, besides the cities that kept their loyalty to Athens were to be separated into 3,000 holdings. 300 people were to be used as a sacrifice to the gods and the others were to pay a sort of rent for living on the Ionian coast. (

Military conflicts similar to or like Mytilenean revolt

The Mytilenean Debate (also spelled "Mytilenaean Debate") in the Athenian Assembly concerned reprisals against the city-state of Mytilene, which had attempted unsuccessfully to shake off Athenian hegemony, during the Peloponnesian War. The Debate occurred in 427 B.C. Thucydides reports it in book three of his History of the Peloponnesian War, and uses the events and the speeches as a major opportunity to reflect and to offer his views on the political and ideological impact of the war on the parties involved. Wikipedia

Historical account of the Peloponnesian War (431–404 BC), which was fought between the Peloponnesian League (led by Sparta) and the Delian League (led by Athens). Written by Thucydides, an Athenian historian who also served as an Athenian general during the war. Wikipedia

Athenian military expedition to Sicily, which took place from 415–413 BC during the Peloponnesian War between the Athenian empire, or the Delian League, on one side and Sparta, Syracuse and Corinth on the other. The expedition ended in a devastating defeat for the Athenian forces, severely impacting Athens. Wikipedia

Timeline of ancient Greece from its emergence around 800 BC to its subjection to the Roman Empire in 146 BC. For earlier times, see Greek Dark Ages, Aegean civilizations and Mycenaean Greece. Wikipedia

Athenian general during the Peloponnesian War. The first prominent representative of the commercial class in Athenian politics, although he was an aristocrat himself. Wikipedia

    Diogenes Laërtius, Life of Pittacus, translated by Robert Drew Hicks (1925).
  • H. W. Burton (1877). The History of Norfolk, Virginia. Norfolk, VA: Norfolk Virginian Job Print. p. 244.
  • Charles Stewart Given (1905). A Fleece of Gold: Five Lessons from the Fable of Jason and the Golden Fleece. Cincinnati, OH: Jennings & Graham.
  • Media related to Pittacus at Wikimedia Commons
  • Quotations related to Pittacus of Mytilene at Wikiquote

The Roman Republic had been built on the principle of denying outright power to one man there were to be no more kings. Caesar’s status threatened this principle. His statue was placed among those of the former kings of Rome, he was an almost divine figure with his own cult and high priest in the shape of Mark Anthony.

The Plague of Athens: Epidemiology and Paleopathology

In 430 BC , a plague struck the city of Athens, which was then under siege by Sparta during the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC ). In the next 3 years, most of the population was infected, and perhaps as many as 75,000 to 100,000 people, 25% of the city's population, died. The Athenian general and historian Thucydides left an eye-witness account of this plague and a detailed description to allow future generations to identify the disease should it break out again. Because of the importance of Thucydides and Athens in Western history and culture, the Plague of Athens has taken a prominent position in the history of the West for the past 2500 years. Despite Thucydides' careful description, in the past 100 years, scholars and physicians have disagreed about the identification of the disease. Based on clinical symptoms, 2 diagnoses have dominated the modern literature on the Athenian plague: smallpox and typhus. New methodologies, including forensic anthropology, demography, epidemiology, and paleopathogy, including DNA analysis, have shed new light on the problem. Mathematical modeling has allowed the examination of the infection and attack rates and the determination of how long it takes a disease to spread in a city and how long it remains endemic. The highly contagious epidemic exhibited a pustular rash, high fever, and diarrhea. Originating in Ethiopia, it spread throughout the Mediterranean. It spared no segment of the population, including the statesman Pericles. The epidemic broke in early May 430 BC , with another wave in the summer of 428 BC and in the winter of 427-426 BC , and lasted 4.5 to 5 years. Thucydides portrays a virgin soil epidemic with a high attack rate and an unvarying course in persons of different ages, sexes, and nationalities.

The epidemiological analysis excludes common source diseases and most respiratory diseases. The plague can be limited to either a reservoir diseases (zoonotic or vector-borne) or one of the respiratory diseases associated with an unusual means of persistence, either environmental/fomite persistence or adaptation to indolent transmission among dispersed rural populations. The first category includes typhus, arboviral diseases, and plague, and the second category includes smallpox. Both measles and explosive streptococcal disease appear to be much less likely candidates.

In 2001, a mass grave was discovered that belonged to the plague years. Ancient microbial typhoid (Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi) DNA was extracted from 3 skeletons. Because typhoid was endemic in the Greek world, it is not the likely cause of this sudden epidemic. Mt Sinai J Med 76:456–467, 2009. © 2009 Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Watch the video: Siege of Plataea. Ancient Greece. 431-427 BC (June 2022).


  1. Hardwyn

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