[2] Athens rebuilds her walls and seizes the Empire (Thuc.1.89-99)

[89] The circumstances that gave rise to the advance of Athenian power were as follows. [2] After the Persians had returned from Europe, defeated by sea and land by the Hellenes, and after those of them who had fled with their ships to Mycale had been destroyed, Leotychides, King of the Lacedaemonians, the commander of the Hellenes at Mycale, departed home with the allies from Peloponnese. But the Athenians and the allies from Ionia and Hellespont, who had now revolted from the king, remained and laid siege to Sestos, which was still held by the Persians. They spent the winter there and finally took possession of Sestos when the barbarians withdrew; and after this they sailed away from Hellespont to their respective cities. [3] Meanwhile the Athenian people, after the departure of the barbarian from their country, at once proceeded to carry over their children and wives, and such property as they had left, from the [Salamis and other places of refuge], and prepared to rebuild their city and their walls. For only isolated portions of the circumference had been left standing, and most of the houses were in ruins; though a few remained, in which the Persian grandees had taken up their quarters.

[90] Realizing what they were up to, the Lacedaemonians sent an embassy to Athens, urging that neither Athens nor any other city should be defended by a wall. In urging this policy they spoke principally at the instigation of their allies, who were alarmed at the strength of Athens' newly acquired navy, and the valor that she had displayed in the war with the Persians. [2] They begged her not only to abstain from building walls for herself, but also to join them in throwing down the surviving walls of cities outside the Peloponnesus. The real meaning of their advice, the suspicion that it contained against the Athenians, was not proclaimed; they put forward the concern that the barbarians, if they should invade again, should not have any fortified place ... for a base of operations; and they claimed that Peloponnese would suffice for all the Greeks as a base both for retreat and offense. [3] After the Lacedaemonians had thus spoken, they were, on the advice of Themistocles, immediately dismissed by the Athenians, with the answer that ambassadors should be sent to Sparta to discuss the question. Themistocles told the Athenians to send him off with all speed to Lacedaemon, but not to despatch his colleagues as soon as they had selected them, but to wait until they had raised their wall to the height from which defence was possible. Meanwhile the whole population in the city was to labor at the wall, the Athenians, their wives and their children, sparing no edifice, private or public, which might be of any use to the work, but throwing all down. [4] After giving these instructions, and adding that he would be responsible for all other matters there, he departed. [5] Arrived at Lacedaemon he did not seek an audience with the authorities, but tried to gain time and made excuses. When any of the government asked him why he did not appear in the assembly, he would say that he was waiting for his colleagues, who had been detained in Athens by some engagement; however, that he expected their speedy arrival, and wondered that they were not yet there.

[91] At first the Lacedaemonians trusted the words of Themistocles, through their friendship for him; but when others arrived, all distinctly declaring that the work was going on and already attaining some elevation, they did not know how to disbelieve it. [2]Aware of this, he told them that rumors are deceptive, and should not be trusted; they should send some reputable persons from Sparta to inspect, whose report might be trusted. [3] They despatched them accordingly. Concerning these Themistocles secretly sent word to the Athenians to detain them as far as possible without putting them under open constraint, and not to let them go until they had themselves returned. For his colleagues had now joined him, Abronichus, son of Lysicles, and Aristides, son of Lysimachus, with the news that the wall was sufficiently advanced; and he feared that when the Lacedaemonians heard the facts, they might refuse to let them go. [4] So the Athenians detained the envoys according to his message, and Themistocles had an audience with the Lacedaemonians, and at last openly told them that Athens was now fortified sufficiently to protect its inhabitants; that any embassy which the Lacedaemonians or their allies might wish to send to them, should proceed on the assumption that the people they were dealing with had enough sense to know what was good for them and for others. [5] That when the Athenians thought fit to abandon their city and to embark in their ships, they took that fateful chance without asking the Spartans' permission. And, what is more, wherever they had negotiated with the Lacedaemonians, they shown that their powers of reasoning inferior to none. [6] They now thought it fit that their city should have a wall, and that this would be more for the advantage of both the citizens of Athens and the Hellenic confederacy; [7] for without equal military strength it was impossible to contribute equal or fair counsel to the common interest. ...

[92] The Lacedaemonians did not show any open signs of anger against the Athenians at what they heard. Their embassy, they suggested, had not aimed to obstruct, but to guide the counsels of Athenian government: besides, Spartan feeling was at that time very friendly towards Athens on account of the patriotism which she had displayed in the struggle with the Mede. Still the defeat of their wishes could not but cause them secret annoyance. The envoys of each state departed home without complaint. [93] In this way the Athenians walled their city in a hurry. [2] To this day the building shows signs of the haste of its execution; the foundations are laid of stones of all kinds, and in some places rough rock, not shaped or fitted, but put into the wall as quickly as they could; and many columns, too, from tombs and sculptured stones were put in with the rest. For the bounds of the city were extended at every point of the circumference; and so they laid hands on everything without exception in their haste. [3] Themistocles also persuaded them to finish the walls of Piraeus, which had been begun before, in his year of office as archon; being influenced alike by the fineness of a locality that has three natural harbors, and by the great start which the Athenians would gain in the acquisition of power by becoming a naval people. [4] For he first ventured to tell them to stick to the sea and forthwith began to lay the foundations of the empire. [5] It was by his advice, too, that they built the walls of that thickness which can still be seen round Piraeus, the stones being brought up by two wagons meeting each other. Between the walls thus formed there was neither rubble nor mortar, but great stones hewn square and fitted together, cramped to each other on the outside with iron and lead. About half the height that he intended was finished. [6] His idea was by their size and thickness to keep off the attacks of an enemy; he thought that they might be adequately defended by a small garrison of invalids, and the rest be freed for service in the fleet. [7] For the fleet claimed most of his attention. He saw, I think, that the approach by sea was easier for the king's army than that by land: he also thought Piraeus more valuable than the upper city; indeed, he was always advising the Athenians, if a day should come when they were hard pressed by land, to go down into Piraeus, and defy the world with their fleet. [8] Thus, therefore, the Athenians completed their wall, and commenced their other buildings immediately after the retreat of the Mede.

[94] Meanwhile Pausanias, son of Cleombrotus, was sent out from Lacedaemon as commander-in-chief of the Hellenes, with twenty ships from Peloponnese. With him sailed the Athenians with thirty ships, and a number of the other allies. [2] They made an expedition against Cyprus and subdued most of the island, and afterwards against Byzantium, which was in the hands of the Medes, and compelled it to surrender. This event took place while the Spartans were still supreme.

[95] But the violence of Pausanias had already begun to be disagreeable to the Hellenes, particularly to the Ionians and the newly liberated populations. These resorted to the Athenians and requested them as their kinsmen to become their leaders, and to stop any attempt at violence on the part of Pausanias. [2] The Athenians accepted their overtures, and determined to put down any attempt of the kind and to settle everything else as their interests might seem to demand. [3] In the meantime the Lacedaemonians recalled Pausanias for an investigation of the reports which had reached them. Manifold and grave accusations had been brought against him by Hellenes arriving in Sparta; and, to all appearance, there had been in him more of the mimicry of a despot than of the attitude of a general. [4] As it happened, his recall came just at the time when the hatred which he had inspired had induced the allies to desert him, the soldiers from Peloponnese excepted, and to range themselves by the side of the Athenians. [5] On his arrival at Lacedaemon, he was censured for his private acts of oppression, but was acquitted on the heaviest counts and pronounced not guilty; it must be known that the charge of Medism formed one of the principal, and to all appearance one of the best-founded articles against him. [6] The Lacedaemonians did not, however, restore him to his command, but sent out Dorkis and certain others with a small force; who found the allies no longer inclined to concede to them the supremacy. [7] Perceiving this they departed, and the Lacedaemonians did not send out any to succeed them. They feared for those who went out a deterioration similar to that observable in Pausanias; besides, they desired to be rid of the Persian war, and were satisfied of the competency of the Athenians for the position, and of their friendship at the time towards themselves.

[96] The Athenians having thus succeeded to the supremacy by the voluntary act of the allies through their hatred of Pausanias, fixed which cities were to contribute money against the barbarian and which were to contribute ships; their professed purpose was to retaliate against the Great King by plundering his territory. [2] This was the time that the office of 'Treasurers for Hellas' (hellenotamiai) was first instituted by the Athenians. These officers received the 'tribute,' as the money contributed was called. The tribute was first fixed at four hundred and sixty talents. The common treasury was at Delos, and the congresses were held in the temple.

[97] Their supremacy commenced with independent allies who acted on the resolutions of a common congress. It was marked by the following undertakings in war and in administration during the interval between the Median and the present war, against the barbarian, against their own rebel allies, and against the Peloponnesian powers which would come in contact with them on various occasions. [2] My excuse for relating these events, and for venturing on this digression, is that this passage of history has been omitted by all my predecessors, who have confined themselves either to Hellenic history before the Median war, or to the Median war itself. Hellanicus, it is true, did touch on these events in his Athenian history; but he is somewhat concise and not accurate in his dates. Besides, the history of these events contains an explanation of the growth of the Athenian empire.

[98] First the Athenians besieged and captured Eion on the Strymon from the Medes, and made slaves of the inhabitants, being under the command of Cimon, son of Miltiades. [2] Next they enslaved Scyros the island in the Aegean, containing a Dolopian population, and colonized it themselves. [3] This was followed by a war against Carystus, in which the rest of Euboea remained neutral, and which was ended by surrender on conditions. [4] After this Naxos left the confederacy, and a war ensued, and she had to return after a siege; this was the first instance of the engagement being broken by the subjugation of an allied city, a precedent which was followed by that of the rest in the order which circumstances prescribed.

[99] The chief reason for cities to defect from the alliance was that they got behind in their payments (of money or ships), and [when they defaulted] the Athenians were very severe in retribution; they made themselves hated by applying the screw of necessity to men who were not used to and in fact not disposed to any prolonged hardship. [2] In some other respects the Athenians were not the old popular rulers they had been at first; and if they had more than their fair share of service, it was correspondingly easy for them to reduce any that tried to leave the confederacy. [3] For this the allies had themselves to blame; the wish to get off service making most of them arrange to pay their share of the expense in money instead of in ships, and so to avoid having to leave their homes. Thus while Athens was increasing her navy with the funds which they contributed, those who rebelled always found themselves without resources or experience for war.

Thucydides then reports several notable events in the period after the revolt of Naxos (470/69). The Spartans face a revolt among helots and perioeci gathered at Ithome (464); the Athenians send troops under Cimon to aid them, but the Spartans turn the Athenians away out of suspicion. The Athenians' expansionist policy is most clearly revealed by their involvement in the revolt of Egypt against the Persians (459-455); Athens sent naval forces totaling around 200 ships to occupy much of the delta. But the last of these contingents was captured when the Persians drove them out of Memphis onto an island in the Nile. After besieging them for a year and a half, they drained the canal and marched over on foot. Meanwhile Athens undertakes military operations in central Greece, occupying most of Boeotia (except Thebes) by 457; Sparta and her allies were drawn into the conflict. This so-called 'the First Peloponnesian War' concluded with a five-year truce in 451. By the end of the truce, Athens is again active on the mainland, only to be blindsided by revolt on Euboea, the large island just to the northeast of Attica which had become crucial to Athenian supply and logistics. Pericles was forced to concentrate on retrieving Euboea and so in 446/5 concluded the notorious 'Thirty Years Peace' (that only lasted 14). Thereafter Athens faced continued insurrection among the allies,notably the island of Samos (440). Trace these events on Map of the Pentacontetia