The oracle at Delphi

The oracle at Delphi told the Spartans that Apollo would be on their side in a war against Athens. Photo: Wikipedia

Corinth Wants a Declaration of War

Sparta’s King  Says, “Not So Fast”

For Corinth, the issue of Athenian interference did not end with Corcyra. There was friction also about Megara, a Corinthian ally that was banned from Athenian-controlled markets. Finally, a battle between Athenian and Corinthian forces over the city of Plataea brought tensions to a crisis.Archi_Intro2

At a meeting of the Peloponnesian League, Corinth called on Sparta to take action against the growing power and arrogance of Athens. Sparta was known for its military prowess, said the speaker for Corinth, but Sparta was also too conservative and cautious. Whereas the Athenians were innovators, always enterprising, pushing their advantages to the limit, the Spartans were homebodies, preferring a quiet life, more interested in preserving traditions than embracing new possibilities.

No doubt the Corinthian speech stung the Spartans’ pride. However, before taking a vote on a declaration of war, King Archidamus II sent the allies away so the Spartans could consult among themselves. Although Archidamus was a strong believer in military tradition, he was also a king, responsible for the survival and well-being of a state. He urged the citizens of Sparta to remember that there was more to winning a war than courage and skill. See if you agree with his “go slow” strategy.

Archidamus Speech:

Archidamus Questions:

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