chapter  20
16 Pages

ATHENS AND THE WEST, 458–413

The first recorded alliance was with non-Greek Segesta (or Egesta) in the west of Sicily. The evidence for this comes from an inscription (ML 37), and can be dated either to 458/7 if ‘[Habr]on’ or 454/3 if ‘[Arist]on’ is restored as the name of the archon at the time of the treaty. Whichever date is correct, Athens’ full-scale involvement in the First Peloponnesian War would have made the possibility of serious military support to a small, distant state most unlikely – in 458/7 the Athenians were fighting in Egypt and Greece, and were about to acquire a ‘Land Empire’ in central Greece; in 454/3 the defeat in Egypt had led to a curtailment of expansionist policies (see Chapter 15). At some time in the 440s, possibly after 445, alliances were also made with Leontini, a close neighbour of Syracuse, and Rhegium in southern Italy. The evidence for these comes from inscriptions which record the renewal of these alliances in 433/2 (ML 63 and 64). Such alliances would usually be of at least ten years’ duration, and a date soon after 445 is a distinct possibility as Syracuse’s defeat of Acragas in that year had established its position as the strongest state in the west. Fear of Syracuse’s territorial ambitions would explain Leontini’s and Rhegium’s approach to Athens for protection. However, the Athenians’ defeat in the First Peloponnesian War (462/1-446/5) and the loss of their

‘Land Empire’ would be sufficient reasons to avoid any military commitments, and a diplomatic alliance was the most likely outcome at this time.