Peace of Nicias
With the death of Cleon and Brasidas, zealous war hawks for both nations, the Peace of Nicias was able to last for some six years. However, it was a time of constant skirmishing in and around the Peloponnese. While the Spartans refrained from action themselves, some of their allies began to talk of revolt. They were supported in this by Argos, a powerful state within the Peloponnese that had remained independent of Lacedaemon. With the support of the Athenians, the Argives succeeded in forging a coalition of democratic states within the Peloponnese, including the powerful states of Mantinea and Elis. Early Spartan attempts to break up the coalition failed, and the leadership of the Spartan king Agis was called into question. Emboldened, the Argives and their allies, with the support of a small Athenian force under Alcibiades, moved to seize the city of Tegea, near Sparta.
The Battle of Mantinea was the largest land battle fought within Greece during the Peloponnesian War. The Lacedaemonians, with their neighbors the Tegeans, faced the combined armies of Argos, Athens, Mantinea, and Arcadia. In the battle, the allied coalition scored early successes, but failed to capitalize on them, which allowed the Spartan elite forces to defeat the forces opposite them. The result was a complete victory for the Spartans, which rescued their city from the brink of strategic defeat. The democratic alliance was broken up, and most of its members were reincorporated into the Peloponnesian League. With its victory at Mantinea, Sparta pulled itself back from the brink of utter defeat, and re-established its hegemony throughout the Peloponnese.
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The Peace of Nicias was a peace treaty signed between the Greek city-states of Athens and Sparta in the March 421 BC, ending the first half of the Peloponnesian War.
In 425 BC, the Spartans had lost the battles of Pylos and Sphacteria, a severe defeat resulting in the Athenians holding 292 prisoners. At least 120 were Spartiates. They had recovered by 424 BC, when the Spartan general Brasidas captured Amphipolis. That same year, the Athenians suffered a major defeat in Boeotia at the Battle of Delium, and in 422 BC they were defeated again at the Battle of Amphipolis in their attempt to take back that city. Both Brasidas, the leading Spartan general, and Cleon, the leading politician in Athens were killed at Amphipolis. Both sides were exhausted and ready for peace.
The negotiations were begun by Pleistoanax, King of Sparta, and the Athenian general Nicias. Both decided to return everything that they had conquered during the war, except for Nisaea, which would remain in Athenian hands, and Plataea, which remained under the control of Thebes. Most notably, Amphipolis would be returned to Athens, and the Athenians would release the prisoners taken at Sphacteria. Temples throughout Greece would be open to worshippers from all cities, and the oracle at Delphi would regain its autonomy. Athens could continue to collect tribute from the states from which it had done so since the time of Aristides, but Athens could not force them to become allies. Athens also agreed to come to Sparta's aid if the Helots revolted. All of Sparta's allies agreed to sign the peace, except for the Boeotians, Corinth, Elis, and Megara.
Seventeen representatives from each side swore an oath to uphold the treaty, which was meant to last for fifty years. These representatives were, for Sparta, the kings Pleistoanax and Agis II, Pleistolas, Damagetus, Chionis, Metagenes, Acanthus, Daithus, Ischagoras, Philocharidas, Zeuxidas, Antiphus, Tellis, Alcindas, Empedias, Menas, and Laphilus. The Athenian representatives were Lampon, Isthmonicus, Nicias, Laches, Euthydemus, Procles, Pythodorus, Hagnon, Myrtilus, Thrasycles, Theagenes, Aristocrates, Iolcius, Timocrates, Leon, Lamachus, and Demosthenes. However, neither side was satisfied, and the treaty was later broken and rendered useless.
... easily obtainable objective, backed a massive expedition, even though the diplomat Nicias instead recommended the reinforcement of existing gains ... the expedition he had initiated in the hands of a reluctant Nicias ...