COMMERCIAL JEALOUSY CAUSES A WAR

The fears roused by the peaceful penetration of Athenian commerce resulted in the Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.). The Corinthians, Athens' chief business rivals, became jealous of her amazing activity. Their description of the Athenians was, " They are born to have no rest themselves, and to let no one else have any." Another reason for the war was the autocratic Athenian control over the politics and legal affairs of her allies, who did not consider generous financial treatment and free trade to be any compensation for the loss of freedom. Dissatisfied states appealed to Sparta for help, and Sparta ultimately gave it. Athens could have ended the war speedily and on favourable terms had not the evil genius of Cleon, the leather tanner, a typical leader of the new type, incited her to expect impossible gains. It was not until Athens had dissipated her energies by a disastrous attack on Sicily (415 B.C.) that Sparta, with the help, be it added, of Persian gold, was at last victorious in 404 B.C. The end of the war brought no peace, for the Spartan was more oppressive than the Athenian had been. The Greeks of Asia Minor were betrayed and again became subjects of Persia (387 B.C.), and oligarchies, supported by Spartan governors, were established in the conquered cities of Greece. There followed a short-lived Theban leadership (371-362 B.C.) under the brilliant statesmanship of Epaminondas. The states then continued their futile bicker-ings until 338 B.C., when Philip, King of Macedon, ended Greek freedom on the battlefield of Chasronea, and united the city-states, with the exception of Sparta, into a league under his control. The Greeks had no creed to which all had to subscribe, no powerful priesthood or established Church, no sacred book which all had to believe. There were priests, but a man could approach the gods himself. Besides the local gods dwelling in rivers and springs and woods, and attended by nymphs and fauns and satyrs, there were greater gods worshipped throughout the land. Chief of the great gods was Zeus, who lived on top of Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece. He wielded the thunderbolt, and protected the poor and helpless. Of the other gods, the most prominent were Apollo, God of Music and Art and Prophecy, and Athena, Goddess of Wisdom and Serene Courage. These gods were represented as human beings of surpassing beauty, and, on the whole, superior morality. The gods in Homer, though their own actions were often disgraceful, did set up conscience and public opinion as guides to conduct, while Zeus in the dramatists upholds justice and righteousness.