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Persian Interventions

The Achaemenid Empire, Athens, and Sparta, 450−386 BCE

John O. Hyland

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Persia’s relations with Greek city-states provide a fascinating case study in ancient imperialism.

Thirty years after Xerxes invaded Greece, the Achaemenid Persian Empire ended its long war with Athens. For the next four decades, the Persians tolerated Athenian control of their former tributaries, the Ionian Greek cities of western Anatolia. But during the Peloponnesian War, Persia reclaimed Ionia and funded a Spartan fleet to overthrow Athenian power. It took eight long years for Persia to triumph, and Sparta then turned on its benefactors, prompting Persia to transfer aid to Athens in the...

Persia’s relations with Greek city-states provide a fascinating case study in ancient imperialism.

Thirty years after Xerxes invaded Greece, the Achaemenid Persian Empire ended its long war with Athens. For the next four decades, the Persians tolerated Athenian control of their former tributaries, the Ionian Greek cities of western Anatolia. But during the Peloponnesian War, Persia reclaimed Ionia and funded a Spartan fleet to overthrow Athenian power. It took eight long years for Persia to triumph, and Sparta then turned on its benefactors, prompting Persia to transfer aid to Athens in the Corinthian War. The peace of 386 reiterated imperial control of Ionia and compelled both Sparta and Athens to endorse a Persian promise of autonomy for Greeks outside Asia.

In Persian Interventions, John O. Hyland challenges earlier studies that assume Persia played Athens against Sparta in a defensive balancing act. He argues instead for a new interpretation of Persian imperialism, one involving long-term efforts to extend diplomatic and economic patronage over Greek clients beyond the northwestern frontier. Achaemenid kings, he asserts, were less interested in Ionia for its own sake than in the accumulation of influence over Athens, Sparta, or both, which allowed them to advertise Persia’s claim to universal power while limiting the necessity of direct military commitment. The slow pace of intervention resulted from logistical constraints and occasional diplomatic blunders, rather than long-term plans to balance and undermine dangerous allies.

Persian Interventions examines this critical period in unprecedented depth, providing valuable new insights for the study of Achaemenid Persia and classical Greece. Its conclusions will interest not only specialists in both fields but also students of ancient and modern comparative historical imperialism.

Reviews

Reviews

In his original and significant contribution to this new historiography of the Persian Empire, Hyland (history, Christopher Newport Univ.) thoroughly analyzes Persian activities in the Aegean from the conclusion of the Peace of Kallias in 449 BCE to the imposition of the King’s Peace in 387 BCE... This important work belongs in the libraries of all universities offering courses in ancient history.

Questioning the traditional assumption that Persia was acting defensively in this period, playing Athens and Sparta off against each other to defuse their joint threat, Hyland reframes the story around Persia as the single world power of the era, with the Greek city states as minor satellites who posed no particular threat, but could be useful in fortifying the Great King's ideological claims to universal empire beyond the sea and the pacification of his borderlands.

This is a well-written and carefully researched alternative interpretation of a key period of Mediterranean history... it will also provide an illuminating case study for historians and political scientists on how a large and powerful empire sought to manage relations with the troublesome states on its margins.

Persian Interventions presents a multitude of new, persuasive interpretations of Persian and Greek interactions in the fifth and early fourth centuries that will have a transformative impact on our understanding of this period. A wonderful book, well-conceived and brilliantly executed.

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Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
272
ISBN
9781421423708
Illustration Description
4 maps
Table of Contents

List of Tables and Maps
Acknowledgments
Translations, Spelling, and Units of Measure
1. Achaemenid Persia and the Greeks across the Sea
The Traditional Model
The Image of Persian World Supremacy
A New

List of Tables and Maps
Acknowledgments
Translations, Spelling, and Units of Measure
1. Achaemenid Persia and the Greeks across the Sea
The Traditional Model
The Image of Persian World Supremacy
A New Approach
2. Artaxerxes I and the Athenian Peace
The Peace of Kallias
The Costs of Peace
The Savings of Peace
The Profits of Peace
The Ideology of Peace
Adherence to Peace
3. The Peloponnesian War and the Road to Intervention
Artaxerxes I and the Peloponnesian War
Darius II and Athens
Sicily, Tribute, and Darius’s Intervention
Agents of Intervention
Negotiating Intervention
4. Tissaphernes’s War and the Treaty of 411
The Ionian War and Athenian Resilience
Victory over Amorges
Revising the Terms of Alliance
Quarrel with Sparta and Contacts with Athens
The Treaty of 411
5. The King’s Navy and the Failure of Satrapal Intervention
Darius’s Ships and Tissaphernes’s Wages
The Ionian Garrison Expulsions
The Royal Fleet’s Recall
The Satraps at the Hellespont
Pharnabazos’s Timbers
6. Cyrus the Younger and Spartan Victory
The Satraps on the Defensive
Darius and the Embassy of Boiotios
Cyrus Takes Command
Cyrus and Spartan Disaster
Cyrus and Lysander’s Road to Victory
Persia’s Victory
7. Artaxerxes II and War with Sparta
Cyrus and the Second Loss of Ionia
Tissaphernes and Spartan Invasion
Naval Escalation and Tissaphernes’s Downfall
Tithraustes’s Truce and Pharnabazos’s Defense of the North
Artaxerxes’s Fleet and Victory at Knidos
8. Persia, the Corinthian War, and the King’s Peace
Timokrates’s Mission to Greece
Pharnabazos’s Revenge
Konon and Persian Aid to Athens
Tiribazos’s Folly and the Peace Talks of 392
Strouthas and the Failure of Outreach to Athens
The King’s Peace
Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Author Bio
John O. Hyland
Featured Contributor

John O. Hyland

John O. Hyland is an associate professor of history at Christopher Newport University.