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date: 07 February 2023

Delian Leaguelocked

Delian Leaguelocked

  • Russell Meiggs
  •  and Simon Hornblower


Modern name for the alliance formed 478/7 bce against the Persians (also known as the ‘Athenian empire’). In 478 the Greeks, led by the Spartan *Pausanias (1), campaigned in *Cyprus and secured *Byzantium; but Pausanias abused his power and was recalled to Sparta. At the request of the allies, who pleaded Pausanias' behaviour and ‘*Ionian kinship’ (Thuc. 1. 95. 1), Athens accepted leadership. The Peloponnesians acquiesced (some evidence suggests reluctance), and a new alliance was formed with its headquarters on the sacred island of *Delos—a traditional Ionian festival centre but one which had appeal for Dorian islanders also. Athens provided the commander of the allied forces and settled which cities were to provide ships and which money; the treasurers also, ten *hellēnotamiae, were Athenians, and the Athenian *Aristides (1) made the first assessment. But at the outset policy was determined at meetings on Delos at which every member, including Athens, had just one equal vote. The nucleus of the alliance was formed by the Ionian cities of the west coast of *Asia Minor, the *Hellespont, and the *Propontis, and most of the Aegean islands.


  • Greek History and Historiography

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