Compare And Contrast Peloponnesian War And Athens

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Twice at the end of the 5th century in Athens the demos voted their democracy out of existence and replaced it with an oligarchy. This happened in 411 BC and 404/3 BC near and at the end of the Peloponnesian war. There are some similarities in both of these events but also some major differences we will see. The reasons of why these events took place, who the organisers were and how they were orchestrated need to be looked at if we are going to be able to answer the overall question of why the Athenians took these actions to replace democracy. For the two coups there were distinctively different backgrounds involved. For the earlier one in 411 Athens was having a hard time in prosecuting the Peloponnesian War having just lost a major amount…show more content…
The coup of 411 was organised twice. Initially the prominent Athenians had put their faith into Alcibiades’ ability to court the Persians for their support and in doing so they had sent their envoys back to Athens to prepare the city and the assembly for this course of action. By organising the political clubs within the city and some skilful speaking at the assembly this plan of action was approved and an emissary sent with Alcibiades to the court of Tissaphernes the Persian satrap. When Alcibiades and the emissaries met with Tissaphernes it became abundantly clear that Alcibiades had grossly overstated his ability to court the Persians and that an alliance between the Athenians and the Persians was now not going to happen. The plan of the prominent Athenians had however already been put into motion and as the emissaries were finding out that they were not going to get the Persian gold they had been promising, the political clubs in Athens were organising for a vote to abolish the democracy. Thucydides does mention some terror tactics being used such as the murder of political opponents but he does not put too much stress on the subject. With the prominent Athenians now aware that the original proposal to establish an oligarchy and pursue the war with Persian gold is not going to happen they change their plans and instead establish an oligarchy of the four hundred backed up by an assembly of the five thousand and promising to pursue the war with their own private fortunes. Using the power of the organised political clubs and most probably intimidation the motion was passed and Athens then became an oligarchy. In 404/3 the Athenians also voted to abandon the democracy but instead of the vote being influenced by political clubs and intimidation by various Athenians it was
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