Diodorus Siculus

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  • Wrote in the 1st Century (not a contemporary source)
  • Was Greek, but not Spartan (would have relied on other sources/accounts/stereotypes)
  • Historian whose main work is his 'Historical Library' (15 out of the 40 books survive)
  • Aimed to write a conscise history of the known world
  • Books 7 - 17 describe the events between the Trojan War and the death of Alexander the Great.


  • Sparta has lost control of the sea to Anthens
  • A Gerousia meeting is called to decide whether the Spartans should go to war with Athens to reclaim leadership of the sea.
  • The majority of the Spartans want war (particularly the young men) as they believe that leadership will bring them greater wealth and power.
  • They also believe that an oracle telling them to beware of a ''lame'' rule, refers to the loss of one of the two leaderships.
  • Hetoemaridas (a member of the Gerousia) argues against war, saying that it will be of no benefit - he is the only one recorded as doing so.
  • He is respected due to his link to Herakles and his good character, and the Spartans
  • aboandon their ''zest for war''
  • The Athenians (fearing war) were building additional triremes, raising money and strengthening their relations with allies.
  • The Athenians are relieved not to have to go to war and continue building power.


  • What is meant by losing leadership of the sea? Why is it important to the Spartans?
  • When the sources says that Athens continued to build power, was this before Sparta declared war on them for being too powerful?


  • The Spartans needed land and relied on it for much of their wealth/power - they were ambitious.
  • They were threatened by Athens,
  • They appear to be hungry for war - their appears to be not hesitation in this source to go to war - it is also loosely implies that the oracle was an excuse for war and not a genuine interpretation (although this is not said explicitely - historian (tries not to be subjective).
  • The Gerousia made important decisions - although other sources claim that the kings had the sole decision of war - however, as the kings made up two of the thirty Gerousia members, it is likey that they were involved.
  • However, Hetoemaridas contradicts the other Gerousia members (including the kings), which other sources tell us is not permitted.
  • The benefits of going to war would only benefit the citizens (Spartiates) and not the Helots of Perioikoi - even though later on in the sources Diodorus makes it clear that they made up a large proportion of Sparta's fighting force.
  • The Athenians feared the Spartans despite their size and potential vulnerability - this suggests that it is their military might which is feared. There is no mention of Sparta consulting allies, wheras Athens immediately looks for other sources of power.
  • Although Sparta realistically does not have the wealth, power or resources to fight Athens, it is perhaps their…


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