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Corinth Warns Athens

Respect Your Existing Treaty with Us


This hill in Athens is where the speaker from Corinth addressed 6,000 Athenian voters. The clearing is called the Pnyx (nix), and the speaker’s platform, cut into the wall, is the bema (see below). The tower on the hilltop is the Philopappos Monument. The Acropolis is half a mile east (left) of the Pnyx.
Photo: The American School of Classical Studies at Athens, Agora Excavations.


Learning that Corcyra meant to seek an alliance with Athens, Corinth sent representatives to present their side. Corinth offered three main arguments — and a threat:

  1. Corcyra was a rogue city, notorious for cheating travelers and merchants.
  2. An alliance with Corcyra would violate the spirit, if not the letter, of Athens’ pre-existing treaty with Corinth and Sparta.
  3. In the past, Corinth gave principled support to Athens. Athens ought to return the favor.

Corinth_Intro2The threat by the Corinthians was: if you make an alliance with Corcyra, you risk war with us. Corinth was a great city, just 50 miles from Athens. With support from Sparta and the Peloponnesian League, Corinth was an enemy to be reckoned with. Read the Corinth speech, and see if it changes your view of Corcyra, Corinth, and Athens.

Corinth Speech:

Corinth Questions:

Closeup of the bema. Photo: Larry Tweed

Closeup of the bema. Photo: Larry Tweed

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