Archidamus Questions


Keep your answers brief for easy reference.

  1. If the Spartans have the advantage on land, why should they care if the Athenians have a stronger navy?
  2. Archidamus never mentions the destruction of Sparta as a possible consequence of war. What is the outcome he does fear?
  3. Why is Sparta in a stronger position if it does NOT burn the crop lands that feed Athens?
  4. After Corinth criticized Sparta for being too “slow and careful,” Archidamus extolled those qualities as virtues. How does “slow and careful” relate to being brave in battle? How does it relate to being wise in counsel?
  5. What are the pitfalls of thinking you are smarter than the other side, according to Archidamus?

PnC_headerIn any controversy, both sides are likely to make one or two good points. It is your job as a voter to decide whether these points are decisive or secondary.

  1. Two top issues in Archidamus’ speech are honor and money. Typically we think of these as opposites, but they both play a role in the Spartan king’s thinking. Which is more important to Archidamus, honor or money? In two or three sentences, explain how the two work together. Use quotations to support your answer.
  2. Although he believes in honor, Archidamus recommends a strategy of delay and deception. Is this a case of “all’s fair when it comes to war”? In the last paragraph, Archidamus seems to draw a line at breaking the law. As best you can, find clues that suggest how Archidamus sees the issue of  honor versus deception.
  3. In his remarks on education, Archidamus speaks strongly against elitism — the belief that certain people are smarter and better than others.  However, he also refers to a perceived difference between Greeks and “barbarians.” Search for other clues to Archidamus’ views on the idea that “all men are created equal,” and summarize your findings in a paragraph.

RnW_headerLook for answers to questions raised in your reading.

  1. After World War II, the concept of the unwinnable war became more and more of a challenge. Conflicts in the Korean Peninsula, Vietnam, Afghanistan (1980s), Iraq-Iran (1980s), and Democratic Republic of Congo (First and Second Congo Wars) raged for years without a clear victory. What are the factors that can make a war unwinnable? Research two or three examples (from the list or any others). Describe why neither side was able to end the conflict with a decisive battle (500 to 750 words). How are such wars resolved?
  2. Archidamus makes the case for practical education and against over-education — what he calls being “too clever for your own good.” Write a speech for the opposite view, demonstrating the benefits of “useless” education (500 words). Be sure to include a section that shows: 1) you understand Archidamus’ argument and 2) there are supportable reasons to embrace a different view.
  3. Sparta had the reputation for being the greatest military power in Greece, yet it was the Athenians who defeated the Persians at Marathon (490 BC) and took the lead in the victory at Salamis (480 BC). To understand the evolving balance of power in ancient Greece, research the rise of Athens as a naval power and head of an empire in the 5th century BC.  (Thucydides gives the Athenian perspective in History of the Peloponnesian War I.73-74.) Summarize your findings in a 500-word paper.

What Happened Next

The voice vote on whether to declare war against Athens was too close to call, so the presiding officer held another vote with the ayes and nays literally standing up and walking to separate sides to show their position. On the second vote, the Spartan assembly affirmed that Athens had violated the peace agreement and Sparta should declare war.

Ever slow and careful, the Spartans did not immediately send an army into Attica. Instead there was a second congress of the Peloponnesian allies, in which they were asked to confirm their support for a war. Almost a year after this vote by the cities, Archidamus led an army into Attica, laying waste to Athenian crop lands in 431 BC. The Peloponnesian War ended 27 years later, in 404 BC.

Next up, Pericles:

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