Monday, August 02, 2010

Sparta, Macedon and Achaea: The politics and Battle of Sellasia

As the penultimate decade of the third century BC began Sparta, that ancient bastion of eunomia, found itself racked by stasis. More than two centuries of land and wealth concentrating into the hands of a few had reduced the once feared homoioi to mere hundreds. The rest were a disenfranchised rabble awaiting any chance to alter the current state of affairs. Once proud Sparta was, militarily and politically, an irrelevancy on the larger stage.

To Sparta’s north the Achaean League had pursued a strong anti-Macedonian policy for more than twenty years. By 229 the League had removed all Macedonian control from the Peleponnese and its members included not only Corinth but also Megalopolis and Argos. Under Aratus of Sicyon and with the financial backing of Ptolemy III Acahea, in an alliance of utter convenience with Aetolia, was at war with Macedonia. In the early spring of 229, Demetrius II of Macedon died facing an invasion by the Dardanians. Having already lost important tracts of Thessaly to Aetolia, Macedonian control throughout Greece was now, for intents and purposes, dead letter.

Within five years, though, Aetolia will have “ceded” several allied Peloponnesian cities to Sparta. What remained of the Achaean League, with Aratus’ assent, ceded the citadel of Acrocorith as payment for Macedonian aid. Such a turnaround in fortune – tyche – is due, in no small part, to the competing ambitions of the states and their leading men: Aratus of Sicyon, Antigonus Doson and last, but most importantly, Cleomenes III of Sparta. Those ambitions would meet, in decisive combat, at Sellasia on the Laconian frontier in summer 222.

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Anonymous Harry Heidelberg said...

The left killed that bear in Berlin called Knut

6/8/10 4:23 AM  

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