The Long Walls from The Greeks documentary
The Long Walls from The Greeks documentary

After the devastation wrought on their city by the Persians, the Athenians were intent on rebuilding and enlarging their city walls. Hearing of their plans, the Spartans, who had no city walls, demanded to be consulted.

Once again, Themistocles came up with a cunning plan. He traveled to Sparta, informing them that he couldn't negotiate until the rest of the Athenian delegation arrived. Meanwhile, the delegation itself was instructed to wait in Athens until the walls were high enough to protect the city. When news reached Sparta that the walls were still being built, Themistocles suggested that the Spartans should send their own envoys to see for themselves, rather than relying on rumour.

At the same time he secretly sent word back to Athens to detain the Spartan envoys until he returned. The situation had almost become a hostage crisis when the Athenian envoys finally arrived in Sparta, led by Aristides. With the walls now complete, the old rivals united and flattered their Spartan hosts with praise for their efforts against the Persians. Placated for the time being, the Spartans released them, allowing the delegation home.

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Sparta: Origins