Ancient history


Last updated:2022-07-25

During the Archaic period, Sparta emerged as the first of the Greek cities. At the beginning of the 5th century BC. BC, Sparta appears as the champion of Greece against the Persians during the Persian Wars. It gradually becomes the rival of Athens, delivering against it the long Peloponnesian War (-431 to -404). The victory gives him the hegemony of -404 and, taking advantage of Persian support, the "Peace of the King" of -387 makes Sparta the arbiter of the Greek world. In -376, Athens sinks its military fleet, putting an end to its naval hegemony. In -371, Athenians and Lacedaemonians mutually recognize their confederations, while they denounce the Boeotian Confederation. The Spartans, strong in their aura of invincibility, march on Thebes. But the hegemonic Sparta is defeated, and the battle of Leuctra of -371 amputates 400 of its 2000 homoioi. Sparta never fully recovered from this defeat.

From then on, Sparta fell back on the Peloponnese but the relentlessness of Thebes ruined its domination over the helots. Messène is liberated to counterbalance it. The battle of Mantinea of ​​-362 makes it possible to rectify the situation by breaking the Theban hegemony, but it remains without a future. The irruption of Macedonia in the political game of the Greek cities relegates it to the same rank as the others and it no longer manages to impose itself and is dominated by Philip II of Macedonia.

In the third century BC. J.-C., the difficulties due to its socio-political system and the decline of its population of homoioi leads to certain reforms, then it allies with Rome against the Aetolian league. However, it must also fight against the Achaean league and ends up like the other cities by being absorbed by Rome.

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