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The Corinthian War, 395–387 BC (ePub)

The Twilight of Sparta's Empire

Ancient History > Ancient Greece & the Hellenistic World Military

By Jeffrey A Smith
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
File Size: 13.5 MB (.epub)
ISBN: 9781399072205
Published: 30th January 2024


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At the end of the Peloponnesian War in 404 BC, Sparta reigned supreme in Greece. Having vanquished their rival Athens and quickly dismantled the wealthy and powerful Athenian Empire, Sparta set its sights on dominating the Mediterranean world and had begun a successful invasion of the vast Persian Empire under their legendary king Agesilaus II. But with their victory over Athens came the inheritance of governing Athens’s empire - and Sparta desperately lacked both a cogent vision of empire and the essential economic and trade infrastructure to survive in the role of hegemon. Sparta’s overextension of empire compounded with internal political conflict to antagonize the rest of Greece with heavy-fisted and uneven interventionism. Soon the unlikely confederacy of Athens, Corinth, Thebes, Argos, and Persia united against Sparta in a war that, despite a Spartan victory, had devastating ramifications for their empire.

The Corinthian War (395 - 387 BC) was a fascinating entanglement of clashing empires, complex diplomatic alliances and betrayals, and political fissures erupting after centuries of tension. Situated between the great Peloponnesian War and the Theban-Spartan War, the Corinthian War is often overlooked or understood as an aftershock of the civil war Greece had just endured. But the Corinthian War was instead a seminal conflict that reshaped the Greek world, illustrating the limits of Sparta’s newfound imperial experiment as they grappled with their own internal cultural conflicts and charted the rise - and fall - of their newfound hegemony and the future of Greece.

Review as featured in

VaeVictis Magazine, March 2024

About Jeffrey A Smith

Jeffrey A. Smith has an undergraduate degree in religion, with a focus on the ancient world, from Dartmouth College (USA) and a master’s degree in history from the University of Birmingham (UK). He has taught humanities and ancient history at The Stony Brook School, a boarding school on the North Shore of Long Island, for the past decade.

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