Stasis at Corcyra
The French Revolution, the American Civil War, the constant civil conflicts in certain parts of Africa in recent history and even today; these are all historical clashes of countrymen. They all also contain stories of immense atrocities. The violence, bloodshed, and ruthlessness that were seen throughout these events were appalling. They were made perhaps even more so by the fact that theses horrors were inflicted upon one another by countrymen, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers. The civil war or stasis at Corcyra during the Peloponnesian War was no different. This paper will detail the events surrounding the conflict and attempt to give scope to it as a mirror into the rest of the conflict.
The initial trouble at Corcyra was the same as that of the entire war. It was a clash of ideologies. The city was split into two factions: the Democrats and the Oligarchs. The city already had a pact of peace with the Athenians but were also friendly with the Peloponnesians. The trouble started when prisoners were returned by the Peloponnesians with the mission of splitting the city from Athens (Thucydides, Book III.71). Soon afterwards ships arrived from both Athens and Corinth bearing delegations for discussions of treaties. The city took up the matter before its Assembly and voted to remain allies with Athens but to keep up their good, peaceful ties with the Peloponnesians. This was not good enough for some, however. The spies were still bent on depriving Athens of another ally and turning the city over to the oligarchs. They went about this in a manner that caused trouble: they resorted to mudslinging. They accused Peithias , the leader of the democrats, of selling the city into Athenian slavery. Their accusations were soon batted down and Peithias struck back. He brought up five of his richest opponents on charges that broke them monetarily. They became suppliants in the temples in the hopes that their fines might lessened. However, Peithias was a member of the Council and persuaded his peers to exact the full penalty. When the five heard that their fates had been decided thusly and also that Peithias planned to make a full military alliance with Athens they acted quickly on their own behalf. They gathered the members of their own oligarchic party and marched straight into the council and murdered Peithias and about sixty other democrats (III.71). However, a few democrats escaped and made it to the Athenian ship which sailed to Athens straightaway.
The oligarchs then immediately called an assembly and rationalized what they had done. They proposed that the city basically cut itself off from both sides of the greater conflict. They proposed that delegations from either side only be accepted if they came with just one ship, any more and they would all be treated as enemies. The motion was then promptly forced through the assembly and in fear...