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Siege of Mytilene, 406 BC
The siege of Mytilene (406 BC) saw the Peloponnesians attempt to capture this Athenian held city on Lesbos. The siege was ended by the Athenian naval victory at Arginusea, but the reaction to the aftermath of this battle played a part in the final Athenian defeat in the Great Peloponnesian War.
In 407 the Peloponnesian fleet had been commanded by the popular Lysander, but at the end of his year of service he was replaced by Callicratidas. Callicratidas took command of a fleet of 140 warships, much larger than the Athenian fleet of seventy ships commanded by Conon. The Peloponnesians began the campaign with a string of successes. First they captured the Athenian fortress at Delphinium, in the territory of Chios. Next he attacked Teos, before moving on to besiege the Athenian garrison of Methymne on Lesbos.
Conon had put to see in an attempt to help the defenders of Methymne, but when he discovered that the city had fallen he camped on one of the 'Hundred Isles', or Hecatonnesia, an island group to the south of the Gulf of Adramyttium, east of Lesbos. This gave the Peloponnesians a chance to cut the Athenians off from their base on Samos, further south along the coast of Asia Minor. Callicratidas attempted to take advantage of this chance, put to sea and headed for the Athenian position.
The two fleets sighted each other at daybreak. Conon decided not to risk a battle against a fleet twice as large as his own, and instead attempted to reach safety at Mytilene, an Athenian-held city on Lesbos. The Peloponnesians were right on his heals, and a battle was fought inside the harbour of Mytilene (quite a large sheltered area between the city and the main part of Lesbos). In the resulting naval battle the Athenians lost thirty ships, although most of the crews escaped to shore.
Callicratidas now settled down to conduct a siege of the city. Xenophon gives a short account of this siege, focusing on the lack of food in the city and Conon's efforts to get a message to Athens. He eventually achieved this by preparing two of his fastest ships, waiting for five days until the enemy's guard was down, and then ordering them to dash out to sea. One ship headed out into open waters but was captured, while the second ship successfully reached the Hellespont and from there Athens.
Diodorus Siculus gives a somewhat different account of events. In his version the first naval battle was deliberately brought on by Conon, although the result was the same. This was followed by a second naval battle in the harbour, and only after this did the siege begin.
When the news reached Athens a great effort was made to raise a new fleet. Both Diodorus Siculus and Xenophon say that the Athenians were able to bring together a fleet of 150 ships, some from Athens, some from Samos and some from the islands within the Empire. This fleet advanced up the coast from Samos to the Arginusae Islands, on the coast to the east of Lesbos. Callicratidas came out to intercept the Athenians, but the resulting battle of the Arginusae Islands was a clear Athenian victory. Unfortunately bad weather prevented the admirals from rescuing many survivors of the fighting. This caused a scandal in Athens, where six of the eight admirals were executed. This left Athens without any experienced commanders in the following year, and this inexperience probably played a role in the crushing Athenian defeat at Aegospotami that effectively ended the war.
It could be that an ancestor had been born by caesarean section, but might have reflected a good head of hair, grey eyes or celebrated Caesar killing an elephant. Caesar’s own use of elephant imagery suggests he favoured the last interpretation.
His journey from his native Troy to Italy is told in the Aeneid by Virgil, one of the great works of Roman literature.
The Path to Becoming King Cassander of Macedon
Cassander was born around 358 BC, and was the son of Antipater, a Macedonian general who had served under Perdiccas III and Philip II, Alexander the Great ’s predecessors. At the time of Philip’s assassination in 336 BC, Antipater had become one of the most important generals in Macedon. Along with Parmenion, another of Philip’s trusted generals, Antipater ensured that Alexander would succeed his father as King of Macedon. Two years later, Alexander began his campaign against the Achaemenids, and left for the East. Antipater was given the title strategos (general) of Europe, and left in charge of Macedon.
Whilst Alexander was away , Antipater was supposed to defend the kingdom’s northern frontier against hostile tribes, and to make sure that the Greek states remained loyal to Macedon. With regards to the latter, Antipater supported oligarchic governments, which made him unpopular. On the other hand, he was also working with the League of Corinth (known also as the Hellenic League), a confederation of Greek states that was created by Philip. Although Antipater was not with Alexander in the east, he contributed to his campaign as well. In 334/3 BC, for instance, he sent reinforcements to Gordium, where Alexander was spending the winter.
In the following summer, the Achaemenids sent a naval force to Thrace and Macedon, with the aim of bringing the war to Europe. This expedition was led by Memnon of Rhodes and Pharnabazus. This was a serious threat to Alexander’s campaign, and Antipater had to prepare for the defence of Europe. Fortunately for Antipater and Alexander, Memnon died at the Siege of Mytilene. Memnon’s death, along with Alexander’s victory at the Battle of Issus in the same year, resulted in the dispersal of the remaining Achaemenid fleet. Had Memnon not lost his life at Mytilene, and brought the fleet to Europe, the course of history might have gone in quite a different direction.
The Battle of Issus, portrayed in this mosaic currently on display in Naples, took place in 333 BC between the Persian Empire led by Darius III and the Greeks led by Alexander the Great. (Magrippa / CC BY-SA 3.0 )
His Father’s Son: Setting the Scene for Cassander’s Rise to Power
Antipater had to deal with yet another problem in 331 BC. In that year, the Spartans, under Agis III, revolted against the Macedonians. He had received large sums of money from Pharnabazus, built a large army, and formed an anti-Macedonian coalition. To counter this threat, Alexander sent large amounts of money back to Macedon to finance a war against the Spartans.
At that time, Antipater was dealing with a Thracian uprising. When the Spartans revolted, however, Antipater broke off the campaign in Thrace, and built a new army. The Macedonian army, which was twice the size of Agis’, defeated the Spartans at the Battle of Megalopolis. Plutarch, criticising Alexander’s reluctance to return to aid Antipater in the war with Agis, wrote that the king had mocked the war in Greece as “a battle of mice there in Arcadia.”
In spite of all that he had done, Antipater would soon lose favour with Alexander. This was caused by the conflict between the general and Olympias, Alexander’s mother. The latter began sending letters to her son to complain about Antipater’s misbehaviour. Initially, Alexander ignored these complaints, but eventually lost his temper. Therefore, in 324 BC, when the king returned to Babylon from India, he ordered Antipater to come to the East. Another general, Craterus, was sent with 11,500 veterans to replace him as strategos of Europe.
Antipater, however, did not obey Alexander’s summons. Instead, he sent his son, Cassander, to Babylon on a diplomatic mission. This may have been an attempt by Antipater to persuade Alexander to keep him in his position. Nevertheless, it was interpreted by the king as a confirmation of his mother’s complaints, which doomed the mission, and caused Antipater and his family to fall from grace.
The era of Alexander the Great, famed as a legendary military commander who forged one of the largest empires in history, was filled with conquest and bloodshed. During his time away conquering the world, Alexander was criticised by Plutarch (on the left) for his reluctance to return to fight the wars taking place in Greece. (Left: Public domain . Right: Public domain )
He told his captors the ransom they had demanded was not high enough and promised to crucify them when he was free, which they thought a joke. On his release he raised a fleet, captured them and did have them crucified, mercifully ordering their throats cut first.
3. Caesar and his family believed they had a divine lineage
In ancient Rome, most royalties claimed their inheritance and lineage from the gods and so Caesar along with his family too believed they had originated from the Royal House of Troy and Venus, the goddess of fertility as well as the mother of Romans. His family always claimed they had semi divinity and were to be given the status of a god. Caesar always made a claim that Venus was her ancestor and had a temple built in his name called Temple of the Deified Julius Caesar posthumously. Caesar was the first Roman citizen to have been deified.
When Pirates Kidnapped Julius Caesar He Laughed at Their Ransom Demands & Told Them To Ask for More
Long ago a 25-year-old Roman author, poet, priest, and aristocrat was kidnapped by pirates. Rather than plead for his release, however, he ordered them to increase his ransom, even though it could have meant being their captive for much longer. His name was Gaius Julius Caesar.
In the middle of the 1 st century BC, the Roman republic began to break down. Its volunteer militia had evolved into a permanent force of battle-scarred professional veterans who became a force to reckon with, allowing Rome to further increase its territory. However, they were often more loyal to their Generals than the state – Generals such as Sulla men who would often use the legions to further their own ambitions.
In the city itself, however, riots and violent political upheaval became the norm as rival gangs fought for dominance in the streets. Rome was plunging into a state of near anarchic chaos. Aristocrats like Caesar vied for power, often using corruption and intimidation to get what they wanted.
Caesar was born into this environment on July 13th 100 BC as a member of the Julia, an old clan of Roman aristocrats. Things changed for Caesar in 85 BC when his father died, making him the head of the family at 16. Civil war broke out between his uncle, Marius, and Lucius Cornelius Sulla (who twice held the rank of consul). More street battles and assassinations gripped the city until Marius won. Caesar was given the job of high priest of Jupiter and married off to Cornelia.
On January 13th 86 BC, however, Marius died and Sulla rose to power. The latter purged the government and city of anyone associated with Marius, so Caesar lost his job, his inheritance and wife’s dowry, and was ordered to divorce his wife. However, Caesar refused to let Cornelia go. His mother, Aurelia Cotta, used her family’s influence (some of whom supported Sulla) to save his life.
Caesar decided to play it safe by leaving Rome for Asia where he joined the army. In 81 BC, he participated in the Siege of Mytilene (now the Greek island of Lesbos), he was so effective that he received a Civic Crown – the second highest military award that a Roman could achieve.
Sulla finally died in 78 BC, making it safe for Caesar to return to Rome. Unable to reclaim his inheritance, he moved into a poor district and became a famous lawyer renowned for his successful prosecution of corrupt officials. This made him very popular among many lower-class Romans, despite his aristocratic heritage.
Lucius Cornelius Sulla
By 75 BC, he had moved up in the world and went off on a business trip to the island of Rhodes accompanied by several servants and friends. They never made it there. The Mediterranean Sea was full of pirates and they preyed on every ship that came their way. Pirates attached Caesar’s ship and he and his companions ended up becoming captives on an islet off Cilicia (now the southern coast of Turkey). All aboard were given two choices: pay a ransom or be sold into slavery.
Caesar chose the former, so his captors set a ransom of 20 talents of silver – about 620 kg worth, which is roughly around $600,000 dollars in today’s values. Caesar gasped in shock. Then he burst out laughing. It wasn’t because of the exorbitant price, but rather because he was offended.
The Julia family were direct descendants of Iulus, son of Aeneas, a Trojan prince. Someone with his bloodline was worth far more than the paltry sum they demanded – in his opinion. He insisted that they set his ransom at 50 talents (about 1,550 kg) of silver, instead.
The remains of Miletus, today.
Impressed, the pirates agreed and let some of his friends go to gather that amount, but Caesar wasn’t finished. He swore that as soon as he was free, he’d have them all crucified.
Given the circumstances, the pirates roared with laughter, but it wouldn’t last. Caesar refused to play the role of a cowed hostage victim. He demanded that his servants be free to continue serving him, even ordering the pirates to shut up or lower their voices whenever he slept.
He spent his days writing poetry and composing speeches, then demanded that the pirates listen carefully while he read them aloud. If they didn’t praise his work, he’d yell at them and call them illiterate savages.
His uncompromising stance and haughty demeanor worked. Instead of annoying the pirates, he ended up earning their respect. He was allowed to move about freely and sometimes joined in their games. To his captors, Caesar’s attitude was either that of a simpleton, or the result of boyish playfulness.
What’s left of Pergamon. By Carlos Delgado – CC BY-SA 3.0
Given the amount involved, it took 38 days to raise the money, after which Caesar and his men were finally allowed to leave. As soon as he reached Miletus (a long-abandoned port city south of present day Söke in Turkey) he began raising an armed fleet. With it, he returned to the islet, captured most of the pirates, and took their property as his own.
He sailed off to Pergamon (outside the modern Turkish city of Bakırçay) and chucked them all into prison. Then he went to Marcus Junius, the governor of Asia, and demanded the right to mete out the pirates’ punishment. But Junius couldn’t stop ogling all that money, so he told Caesar that he’d have to look into the matter more fully.
Yet Caesar couldn’t wait, so he returned to Pergamon, took the pirates out of prison, and ordered them all to be crucified. Some begged for mercy, reminding him of the fun times they had shared together, so Caesar’s heart melted and he decided to relent.
He had their throats slit. Then he had them crucified because he prided himself on being a man of his word. With such a character, it’s hardly surprising that he would go on become Rome’s first emperor.
VII. Pittacus of Mytilene
Pittacus was a native of Mytilene and son of Hyrradius. He became a Mytilenaean general who, with his army, was victorious in the battle against the Athenians and their commander Phrynon. In consequence of this victory, the Mytilenaeans held Pittacus in the greatest honour and presented the supreme power into his hands. After ten years of reign, he resigned his position and the city and constitution were brought into good order. Pittacus instituted a law stating that crimes committed in drunkenness should be punished twofold, that was directed predominately against the aristocrats, who were more often guilty of drunk and violent behaviour. As such, it was greatly appreciated by the common people.
The History of Ancient Greece CLNS Media Network
The History of Ancient Greece Podcast is a deep-dive into one of the most influential and fundamental civilization in world history. Hosted by philhellene Ryan Stitt, THOAG spans over two millennia. From the Bronze Age to the Archaic Period, from Classical Greece to the Hellenistic kingdoms, and finally to the Roman conquest, this podcast will tell the history of a fundamental civilization by bringing to life the fascinating stories of all the ancient sources and scholarly interpretations of the archaeological evidence. And we won't just detail their military and political history, but their society, how the Greeks lived day-to-day, as well as their culture—their art, architecture, philosophy, literature, religion, science, and all the other incredible aspects of the Greek achievement , while situating the Greeks within a multicultural Mediterranean whose peoples influenced and were influenced by one another.
In this episode, we discuss the final two years of the Peloponnesian War (405-404 BC), including the comedic play "The Frogs" by Aristophanes Lysander's elevation to Persian satrap, his rebuilding of the Peloponnesian fleet, his tactical moves in the Hellespont, and his crushing victory over the Athenians at Aegospotami the besiegement and blockade of Athens and the Athenians' surrender and the terms of the peace treaty
Show Notes: http://www.thehistoryofancientgreece.com/2021/04/107-sparta-triumphant.html
106 Frustrations and Poor Decisions (Part II)
In this episode, we discuss the years 409-406 BC of the Peloponnesian War, including the Athenians’ achieving control in the Hellespont and Bosporus, Alcibiades’ triumphant return to Athens, the ascension of Lysander and his bromance with Cyrus, the Athenian defeat at Notium and the disgrace of Alcibiades, Kallikratidas victory over Konon at Mytilene, and the subsequent Battle of Arginusae with its disastrous consequences for the Athenians.
Show Notes: http://www.thehistoryofancientgreece.com/2020/10/106-frustrations-and-poor-decisions.html
***Special Guest Episode on Classics and White Supremacy w/Curtis Dozier***
In today's special guest episode, I am joined by Dr Curtis Dozier, Assistant Professor of Greek and Roman Studies at Vassar College. He is the producer and host of The Mirror of Antiquity, a podcast featuring classical scholars discussing the intersections of their research, the contemporary world, and their own lives. More importantly to our discussion, He is also the director of Pharos: Doing Justice to the Classics, a website devoted to documenting and responding to appropriations of ancient Greece and Rome by hate groups online. We discuss some of the reasons how, as well as why, White Supremacists have taken to coopting Classical imagery to support their twisted world views.
Show Notes: http://www.thehistoryofancientgreece.com/2020/10/special-guest-episode-on-classics-and.html
***Special Guest Episode on Race, Antiquity, and Its Legacy w/Denise McCoskey***
7. Nero Claudius Drusus (38–9 BC)
The stepson of Augustus (rumored to be his real son with Livia Drusilla), Drusus took office five years earlier than the specified age. At the age of 11, he became a magistrate and fought alongside his elder brother Tiberius Claudius against the Alpine tribes, the Raeti and Vindelici.
Drusus led an expedition into Germany to establish base camps, and he was the first Roman commander to lead a campaign on the Rhine. Drusus spread his campaign as far as the Weser and Elbe rivers and subjugated the Marcomanni and Cherusci tribes a year later.
Antipater (/ænˈtɪpətər/ Greek: Ἀντίπατρος Antipatros c. 397 BC-319 BC) was a Macedonian general and a supporter of kings Philip II of Macedon and Alexander the Great. In 320 BC, he became regent of all of Alexander's Empire.
Career under Philip and Alexander
Nothing is known of his early career until 342 BC, when he was appointed by Philip to govern Macedon as his regent while the former left for three years of hard and successful campaigning against Thracian and Scythians tribes, which extended Macedonian rule as far as the Hellespont. In 342 BC, when the Athenians tried to assume control of the Euboean towns and expel the pro-Macedonian rulers, he sent Macedonian troops to stop them. In the autumn of the same year, Antipater went to Delphi, as Philip's representative in the Amphictyonic League, a religious organization to which Macedon had been admitted in 346 BC.
After the triumphal Macedonian victory at the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC, Antipater was sent as ambassador to Athens (337 BC) to negotiate a peace treaty and return the bones of the Athenians who had fallen in the battle.
He started as a great friend to both the young Alexander and the boy's mother, Olympias there were even rumours that he was Alexander's father. He aided Alexander in the struggle to secure his succession after Philip's death, in 336 BC.
He joined Parmenion in advising Alexander the Great not to set out on his Asiatic expedition until he had provided by marriage for the succession to the throne. On the king's departure in 334 BC, he was left regent in Macedonia and made "general (strategos) of Europe", positions he held until 323 BC. The European front was to prove initially quite agitated, and Antipater also had to send reinforcements to the king, as he did while the king was at Gordium in the winter of 334 BC.
The Persian fleet under Memnon of Rhodes and Pharnabazus was apparently a considerable danger for Antipater, bringing war in the Aegean sea and threatening war in Europe. Luckily for the regent, Memnon died during the siege of Mytilene on the isle of Lesbos and the remaining fleet dispersed in 333 BC, after Alexander's victory at the Battle of Issus.
More dangerous enemies were nearer home tribes in Thrace rebelled in 332 BC, led by Memnon of Thrace, the Macedonian governor of the region, followed shortly by the revolt of Agis III, king of Sparta.
The Spartans, who were not members of the League of Corinth and had not participated in Alexander's expedition, saw in the Asian campaign the long-awaited chance to take back control over the Peloponnese after the disastrous defeats at the Battle of Leuctra and Battle of Mantinea. The Persians generously funded Sparta's ambitions, making possible the formation of an army 20,000 strong. After assuming virtual control of Crete, Agis tried to build an anti-Macedonian front. While Athens remained neutral, the Achaeans, Arcadians and Elis became his allies, with the important exception of Megalopolis, the staunchly anti-Spartan capital of Arcadia. Agis started in 331 BC to besiege the city with his entire army, generating great alarm in Macedon.
So to not have two enemies simultaneously, Antipater pardoned Memnon and even let him keep his office in Thrace, while great sums of money were sent him by Alexander. This helped to create, with Thessalian help and many mercenaries, a force double that of Agis, which Antipater in person led south in 330 BC to confront the Spartans. In the spring of that year, the two armies clashed near Megalopolis. Agis fell with many of his best soldiers, but not without inflicting heavy losses on the Macedonians.
Utterly defeated, the Spartans sued for peace the latter's answer was to negotiate directly with the League of Corinth, but the Spartan emissaries preferred to treat directly with Alexander, who imposed on Sparta's allies a penalty of 120 talents and the entrance of Sparta in the league.
Alexander appears to have been quite jealous of Antipater's victory according to Plutarch, the king wrote in a letter to his viceroy: "It seems, my friends that while we have been conquering Darius here, there has been a battle of mice in Arcadia".
Antipater was disliked for supporting oligarchs and tyrants in Greece, but he also worked with the League of Corinth, built by Philip. In addition, his previously close relationship with the ambitious Olympias greatly deteriorated. Whether from jealousy or from the necessity of guarding against the evil consequences of the dissension between Olympias and Antipater, in 324 BC, Alexander ordered the latter to lead fresh troops into Asia, while Craterus, in charge of discharged veterans returning home, was appointed to take over the regency in Macedon. When Alexander suddenly died in Babylon in 323 BC however, Antipater was able to forestall the transfer of power.
The fight for succession
The new regent, Perdiccas, left Antipater in control of Greece. Antipater faced revolts in Athens, Aetolia, and Thessaly that made up the Lamian War, in which southern Greeks attempted to re-assert their independence. He defeated them at the Battle of Crannon in 322 BC, with Craterus' help, and broke up the rebellion. As part of this he imposed oligarchy upon Athens and demanded the surrender of Demosthenes, who committed suicide to escape capture. Later in the same year Antipater and Craterus were engaged in a war against the Aetolians when he received the news from Antigonus in Asia Minor that Perdiccas contemplated making himself outright ruler of the empire. Antipater and Craterus accordingly conclude peace with the Aetolians and went to war against Perdiccas, allying themselves with Ptolemy, the satrap of Egypt. Antipater crossed over to Asia in 321 BC. While still in Syria, he received information that Perdiccas had been murdered by his own soldiers. Craterus fell in battle against Eumenes (Diodorus xviii. 25-39).
Regent of the Empire
In the treaty of Triparadisus (321 BC) Antipater participated in a new division of Alexander's great kingdom. He appointed himself supreme regent of all Alexander's empire and was left in control of Greece as guardian of Alexander's son Alexander IV and his disabled brother Philip III. Having quelled a mutiny of his troops and commissioned Antigonus to continue the war against Eumenes and the other partisans of Perdiccas, Antipater returned to Macedonia, arriving there in 320 BC (Justin xiii. 6). Soon after, he was seized by an illness which terminated his active career, and died, leaving the regency to the aged Polyperchon, passing over his son Cassander, a measure which gave rise to much confusion and ill-feeling.
Antipater was one of the sons of a Macedonian nobleman called Iollas or Iolaus and his family were distant collateral relatives to the Argead dynasty. Antipater was originally from the Macedonian city of Paliura had a brother called Cassander was the paternal uncle of Cassander’s child Antigone and was the maternal great uncle of Berenice I of Egypt. Antipater had ten children from various unknown wives. His daughters were: Phila, Eurydice of Egypt and Nicaea of Macedon, while his sons were: Iollas, Cassander, Pleistarchus, Phillip, Nicanor, Alexarchus and Triparadeisus.
Antipater was a student of Aristotle and Aristotle named him as executor-in-charge of his will, when he died in 322 BC. According to Suidas, Antipater left a compilation of letters in 2 books and a history, called The Illyrian Deeds of Perdikkas (Περδίκκου πράξεις Ιλλυριακαί).