The Final End of Athenian Democracy

A year after their defeat of Athens in 404 BC, the Spartans allowed the Athenians to replace the government of the Thirty Tyrants with a new democracy. The tyranny had been a terrible and bloody failure, and even the Spartans acknowledged that a moderate form of democracy would be preferable.

As a system of government, democracy quickly spread to a number of other leading city-states, despite the authoritarian grip of Sparta on the Greek world. However, Sparta's dominance was not to last. Overextended and unable to adjust to new battle techniques, in 371 BC Spartan hoplites suffered their first major defeat in 200 years at the hands of the Theban general Epaminodas. Only a decade later Sparta had been reduced to a shadow of its former self.

But Thebes' dominance of Greece would be short-lived. A new power had begun to assert its leadership over the country: Macedonia. Once a backwater, the Macedonian king Philip II had turned his country into a military powerhouse. Philip's decisive victory came in 338 BC, when he defeated a combined force from Athens and Thebes. A year later Philip formed the League of Corinth which established him as the ruler, or hegemon, of a federal Greece.

Democracy in Athens had finally come to an end. The destiny of Greece would thereafter become inseparable with the empire of Philip's son: Alexander the Great.


An Empire of the Mind
56K - ISDN - T1