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The Peace of Nicias

Cleon, the most prominent and influential leader at Athens after the Athenian victory at Pylos in 425, was dispatched to northern Greece in 422 to try to stop Brasidas.1 As it happened, both he and Brasidas were killed before Amphipolis in 422 B.C.2 in a battle won by the Spartan army. Their deaths deprived each side of its most energetic military commander and opened the way to negotiations. Peace came in 421 B.C.3 when both sides agreed to resurrect the balance of forces just as it had been in 431 B.C. The agreement made in that year is known as the Peace of Nicias4 after the name of the Athenian general Nicias,5 who was instrumental in convincing the Athenian assembly to agree to a peace treaty. The Spartan agreement to the peace revealed a fracture in the coaltion of Greek states allied with Sparta against Athens and its allies because the Corinthians and the Boetians refused to join the Spartans in signing the treaty.6

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