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A Manual of Ancient History by A. H. L. Heeren

The Messenians become tributary to the Spartans


Unimportant wars with Tegea and Argos; and disputes with Messene, 783-745.

First Messenian war, 742-722, terminated by the capture of the frontier fortress Ithome, after the voluntary death of the Messenian king, Aristodemus.--The Messenians become tributary to the Spartans, and are obliged to give up one half of the revenues of their lands.--Occurrences during this war: 1. Institution, according to some authorities, of the college of Ephori as vicegerents of the kings in their absence, and arbitrators in the quarrels which might arise between the kings and the senate. 2. The power of the people so far limited as to restrain the popular assemblies from making alterations in the resolutions proposed to them by the senate or the kings, and confining them merely to a vote of approval or rejection. 3. Insurrection of the Parthenii and Helots becomes the motive for sending out colonies; a measure to which Sparta had more than once resorted for the purpose of maintaining domestic tranquillity.

Second Messenian war, 682-668, waged by the Messenians under the command of their hero Aristomenes, by the Spartans under that of Tyrtaeus, who fanned the flame of war until the contest was terminated by the capture of the strong town Ira. The Messenian territory is divided among the conquerors, and the conquered inhabitants become, like the helots, agricultural slaves.

justify;">11. Although the territory of the Spartans was greatly increased by these Messenian wars, the nation seems to have been a long time before it recovered from the struggle, and to have raised itself by slow steps to the first rank among the Dorian states, extending its boundaries at the expense of the Argives and Arcadians.

Wars with Tegea for the most part unsuccessful; and with Argos, for the possession of Thyrea and the island of Cythera; by the accession of which the Spartan territory received an important augmentation, about 550.

12. These wars within Peloponnesus were not of such a nature as to give rise to any remarkable changes in the Spartan constitution, and for a long time the nation refused to take any share in foreign affairs. But no sooner did king Cleomenes, who in the end procured the deposition of his colleague, Demaratus, interfere in the affairs of the Athenians, than the seeds of strife were sown between these two republics. The Persian war next ensued, in which Sparta was obliged to bear a part, although Cleomenes had refused to participate in the insurrection of Aristagoras: that struggle, together with the idea of supremacy in Greece which now took its rise, introduced a series of political relations before unknown.

13. The history of Athens during this period is rendered important rather by domestic revolutions, which gradually tended to convert the state into a republic, than by external aggrandizement. The situation and peculiarities of Attica, which rendered it less exposed than other parts of Greece to the attacks and forays of wandering hordes, favoured the gradual and tranquil growth of national prosperity; the traces of which are incontestable, though it would be difficult for the most profound research to point out the whole course of its progress so perspicuously as the historian might wish.


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