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Spartan Approval of Athenian Leadership

By 477 B.C., the Athenian aristocrat Aristides1 (c. 525-465 B.C.) had successfully persuaded the other Greeks to request Athenian leadership2 of the continuing naval alliance against the Persians. The leaders at Sparta were happy to cede their position3 at the head of the alliance because, in the words of the Athenian historian Thucydides (c. 460-400 B.C.), “they were afraid any other commanders they sent abroad would be corrupted, as Pausanias had been, and they were glad to be relieved of the burden of fighting the Persians.... Besides, at the time they still thought of the Athenians as friendly allies.”4 It could be added that Sparta's ongoing need to keep its army at home most of the time to guard against helot revolts5 also made prolonged overseas operations difficult to maintain.

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