After the Great Peloponnesian War (431-404BC), the Athenian empire eventually fell into the hands of the unforgiving enemy- Sparta. Throughout the history of Sparta amongst the Greeks, it was always thought that their greatest moment would picture them as emancipators, previously dubbed ‘Liberators of Hellas’ by allied states. However, the Treaty of Miletus with Persia saw Sparta willing to sell out all of the coastal allies to save themselves and take the empire into their own hands, proving them to be equally or more so tyrannical than Athenian predecessors.
I personally love reading about little specific battles within Ancient Greek history rather than the whole overall picture, and today I chose to write about one which took place on a hill in the Piraeus- the Battle of Munychia.
Let’s set the scene. A board of 30 oligarchs have taken over the city of Athens, voted in by the people’s assembly on the Pynx. This is incredibly ironic since the demos used their democratic right to wipe out democracy all together. The board of 30 go slightly wild and start cleaning up the state, exiling any prominent democrats and ordering 3000 supporters to slay anyone who has been known to support democracy.
One of the 3000 was Socrates (the philosopher who you’ve probably quoted at least once in your lifetime) but he refused to kill anyone and was later executed for his general disobedience and unloyal attitude.
So everyone is getting pretty annoyed by this tyrannical oligarchic government and all the people who could potentially say anything about it have been exiled. This is where it starts to get interesting. 1000 of these exiles, led by a democratic activist named Thrasybulus, meet and occupy Munychia Hill in the Piraeus.
The Thirty Tyrants are unhappy with this and believe it to be a threat to the oligarchy (which it certainly did prove to be). So what happens next?
Well, the tyrants and their Spartan forces move in on the hill and by some great miracle are defeated by the democratic exiles. The leader of the thirty tyrants, Critias, is killed, and they are forced to flee to Eleusis.What is also interesting is how unloyal and untrustworthy Spartan leadership was. Lysander was a Spartan general, overseeing affairs in Athens. Pausanias, the Spartan King, became bored of Lysander, marched into Athens and restored the democracy, despite being pro-Oligarchy! Mind blowing.
Anyway, I hope this was an interesting read. Let me know if you want to hear more about the ancient world, I love talking about it.