General peace

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The Greek goddess Eirene , personification of peace, holds Plutus , the god of wealth, in her arms. (After a statue of Kephisodot ; Athens , around 370 BC)

The idea of general peace , the koinḕ eirḗnē ( Greek κοινὴ εἰρήνη ), was one of the formative political thoughts in Greece in the 4th century BC , alongside that of panhellenism . The term describes, on the one hand, the concept of a desired, permanent state of peace between the Greek poleis and , on the other hand, a certain type of peace treaty that fulfilled all three basic conditions of this concept: First, a general peace had to address all Greek city-states , and second, it had to address them Recognize in principle autonomy and equality under international law , regardless of their actual power , and thirdly, it had to be set up without a time limit.

His advocates saw in him an opportunity to end the permanent state of war that shook the Greek world for more than a century from the beginning of the Peloponnesian War . From the King's Peace 387/386 BC Until the founding of the Corinthian League in 338 BC. BC influenced the idea of koinḕ eirḗnē all peace agreements between the Greek poleis. In the end, however, it turned out that only a strong hegemonic power could enforce a comprehensive peace in the long run . Revived in modern times , the main principles of koinḕ eirḗnē have formed the basis for peace organizations such as the League of Nations and the UN since the 20th century .

The essence of general peace

The idea of ​​general peace developed out of older ideas that prevailed in the political situation of the 5th century BC. In Greece were gradually transformed. But it owes its temporary implementation less to the insight into the necessity of a lasting peace order than to the fact that it seemed to serve the interests of several successive hegemonic powers. The history of the koinḕ eirḗnē is therefore not only part of the history of ideas , but even more of the diplomatic history of Greece in the decades between the Peloponnesian War and the appearance of King Philip II of Macedonia and Alexander the Great .

The origin of the term

Spartan hoplite

The Greek word "Eirene", which originally only meant the "state of peace", was learned at the beginning of the 4th century BC. An extension of content to “peace treaty”. This was the result of a general change in attitudes towards war and peace. In the 5th century BC BC wars between the Greek Poleis ended with treaties called “spondai” (σπονδαί), “synthekai” (συνθήκαι) or “dialysis polemou” (διάλυσις πολέμου). All of these terms basically only referred to armistices or temporary interruptions to the war. After the never-ending armed forces since the middle of the century, the realization gradually gained acceptance that the normal case should not be a state of war, but a state of peace. This is reflected in the increased importance of the word "Eirene" as well as in its application to peace treaties.

The concept of general peace first appeared in 391 BC. In connection with the failed negotiations between Athens and Sparta to end the Corinthian War . In a speech, the Athenian politician Andokides advised his fellow citizens to accept a peace called "koinḕ eirḗnē" . Possibly the term had already passed into the general vocabulary before; But this has only been certain since this speech. The first treaty to which the terms “eiréne” and “koinḕ eirḗnē” were actually applied was that of Persia and Sparta in 387/386 BC. Forced peace of the king. In an official document, the phrase “koinḕ eirḗnē” appears for the first time in the peace treaty after the battle of Mantineia in 362 BC. Chr.

Overall, the term koinḕ eirḗnē is sparsely documented at the time. Authors like Isocrates , Demosthenes and Xenophon nowhere explicitly use it. But they name its characteristics precisely for those peace agreements that the historian Diodorus in the 1st century BC. . Chr regularly as Eirene Koine referred. The fact, in turn, that Diodorus chose to depict the time from 386 to 361 BC. Chr. Closely based on the contemporary author Ephorus , suggests that the term was common at that time.

Content characteristics

From the speech of Andokides and the provisions of the King's Peace, two features can be deduced that are new for peace treaties of that time. On the one hand, all Greek cities - with a few exceptions - should be autonomous, and on the other hand, the respective draft treaty is addressed to all cities. It is no longer aimed at a bilateral agreement between formerly hostile poles or city alliances, but rather at a multilateral treaty which, if possible, all parties not involved in the conflict should also join.

The third, not explicitly mentioned feature, is the lack of a time limit. In the 5th century, a fixed period of validity was quite common in peace treaties. The Thirty Years' Peace , the 446/445 BC Was closed between Athens and Sparta, this already reveals in the name. Also the Nicias Peace of 421 BC. Chr. Was set to 50 years, with contracts with a validity period of 100 years in fact contained an eternity clause. This goes back in part to the fact already mentioned that at that time peace was only viewed as an interruption of the normal state of war. In addition, there was the idea that peace was not concluded between the city-states as such, but between their populations, and that the longest possible contract term could only be the lifetime of a generation who spoke only for themselves. A koinḕ eirḗnē , on the other hand, was designed in principle for permanent validity. The fact that this was not specifically mentioned in the relevant contracts is explained by the internal logic of the autonomy clause, because independence that is limited in time would not be.

The multilaterality

The bilateral peace treaties of the 5th century between Athens and Sparta mentioned above largely disregarded the interests of their own as well as the opposing allies. These may not even have been consulted. Also the treaty of 404 BC. BC, which ended the Peloponnesian War, was, albeit a de facto dictation on the part of Sparta, formally a treaty between the latter and Athens. It contained no provisions on the allies of Athens from the Attic League and was even concluded against the will of the allies of Sparta. The treaty corresponded completely to the circumstances and ideas of the 5th century, in which there were only two decisive hegemonic powers in Greece, to which all other Poleis had to submit.

Bust of Pericles

Even then, the idea of ​​a Panhellenic unification at the multilateral level was no longer new. To ward off the Persian threat was 481 BC. A general peace was decided, but it was limited in time. In 450 BC BC Pericles wanted to convene a general peace conference in Athens. However, this did not come about due to the refusal of the Spartans, who feared an Athenian supremacy. Apart from a few multilateral treaties between some Greek cities in Sicily and Ionia , the cult association of the Amphictyony of Delphi was the only multilateral alliance of ancient Hellas of duration and importance. The amphi-fiction oath forbade destroying member cities during war or burying their waters. For their part, oath-breaking cities were threatened with destruction. A forerunner of koinḕ eirḗnē can possibly be seen in amphi-fiction peace .

That it has been since 387 BC Chr. Came to peace agreements on the basis of a koinḕ eirḗnē , has a simple reason: The respective hegemonic power was no longer faced with one, but several equally strong cities or alliances. One could only agree with them jointly or not at all. The autonomy clause was again the first prerequisite for the general acceptance of such a multilateral agreement.

The autonomy clause

The Greeks differentiated between “eleutheria” (ἐλευθερία), the inner freedom of a polis - z. B. from the rule of a tyrant - and the "autonomia" (αὐτονομία), the external freedom of a city. With “autonomia” the right and the ability of the citizens of a polis were meant to only have to obey their own law or “nomos” (νόμος), but not that of another state. Ever since the polis established itself as a characteristic form of government in ancient Greece, the unwritten law that each of them - no matter how insignificant - should be autonomous has applied to their relationships with one another. The only exceptions were the smaller cities of Attica and Laconia , which had been owned by the Athenians and the Spartans since ancient times. It should have been in the 4th century BC. Lead to severe tensions when Thebes tried to establish a similar dominance over the cities of Boeotia .

With the beginning of the Persian Wars, however, in the 5th century BC The willingness to unite in so-called symmachies , combat alliances under the leadership of a hegemonic power. However, this was done on a voluntary basis, so that the principle of autonomy was theoretically not affected. When the Persian threat subsided, however, it became apparent that Athens was anxious to transform the Delisch-Attic League, which it dominated, into a maritime empire ruled by Athens. In doing so, the Athenians violated principles that had always been a hallmark of autonomy: the freedom to live according to their own constitution as well as the freedom from garrisons , clergy , foreign jurisdiction and tributes . The demand of "phoroi" (φόροι), ie of taxes for war purposes, the transfer of the federal treasury from Delos to Athens and the enforced introduction of democratic constitutions based on the Athenian model among some allies brought them against their supremacy.

Spartan politicians, whose Peloponnesian League was relatively loosely organized, discovered in the middle of the 5th century the demand for autonomy as a diplomatic weapon to weaken the League. They made the complaints of the Athenian Graubünden their own: During and after the Peloponnesian War, Sparta acted as the guardian of the independence of all Greek cities. The autonomy clause became an integral part of every koinḕ eirḗnē not only because smaller poles saw their independence secured by it, but above all because the larger powers could make them an instrument of their interest politics.

The development of the koinḕ eirḗnē in the 4th century

Whether or not a peace treaty can count as koinḗ eirḗnē is controversial in some treaties. In the following, the term is taken as broadly as possible in order to make the development of the idea of ​​universal peace clear. The sole criteria are the autonomy clause and the possibility of membership for all Greek poleis, regardless of whether they actually made use of this possibility.

Failed peace treaty in 391 BC Chr.

In the course of the Corinthian War, Sparta submitted in 392/391 BC A first offer of peace to the Persian satrap of Lydia , Tiribazos . Sparta was under pressure to withdraw from its hopeless war in Asia Minor without losing face and at the same time to maintain its supremacy in Greece. To do this, firstly, Persia had to be granted rule over the Ionian Greek cities and, secondly, its ties to the Greek opponents of Sparta, especially Athens, had to be severed. At the same time, the Persian great king had to be convinced that a Greek power could not form again in the Aegean region that could challenge his claims to the Ionian cities.

The appropriate suggestion for solving all these problems was that Sparta and Persia should enforce the autonomy of all Greek cities, with the exception of those in Asia Minor. Sparta could thus have demonstrated the safeguarding of a generally recognized principle as a result of the war. At the same time, the world of the Greek poleis would have been split up into powerless individual states, which would have secured both Spartan hegemony and satisfied the Persian need for security. The Greek city-states naturally rejected the proposal immediately. But even the Persian great king Artaxerxes II was not inclined to accept it. He replaced Tiribazos and replaced him with the new satrap Struthas , who continued to lean towards the alliance with Athens.

A few months later, the Spartans then tried to come to terms with their Greek opponents at a conference in their city. Again they proposed the principle of autonomy as the basis of an agreement, this time with concessions to Athens and Thebes. The Athenians should have the islands of Lemnos , Imbros and Skyros , the Thebans should only recognize the independence of Orchomenos .

During these negotiations, the formulation of a general - or communal - peace for all Greeks was used for the first time. This is how the Athenian Andokides uses them in his speech, in which he advised his compatriots in vain to accept the Spartan proposals:

"Also consider this, O Athenians, that at the present moment you are preparing a communal peace for all Hellenes, protecting their freedoms and ensuring common participation of all in everything."

- Andokides, On peace with the Lacedaemonians .

Andokides made a distinction between treaties and real peace. He appealed to panhellenic sentiments by idealizing the project of general peace. However, he does not mention that the Ionian cities, for whose freedom Athens had accepted the conflict with Persia 100 years earlier, are said to be excluded from the treaty. So the Athenians finally rejected the treaty - also because they believed they were in a strong position in league with Struthas.

The King's Peace


The successes of the Attic fleet in 390 BC B.C. caused a rethink at the Persian court, which feared that Athens would have too much power. Struthas was replaced two years later by his predecessor Tiribazos, who in 387/386 BC. BC together with the Spartan ambassador Antalkidas enforced the royal peace. The agreement, also known as the “Peace of Antalkidas”, essentially contained the Spartan proposals of 392/91. Its main components were the accession of all Greek cities and the guarantee of their freedom and independence. Only the Ionian cities, Cyprus and Klazomenai , which remained under Persian rule, as well as the three aforementioned Athenian islands were excluded from this . Athens had to surrender all other profits; The treaty also made the dissolution of all alliances inevitable. According to Xenophon, whose work Hellenika is the most important source for this time, the decisive passage was :

“Great King Artaxerxes considers it fair that the cities of Asia Minor should belong to him, and of the islands of Klazomenai and Cyprus. The other Greek cities, however, large and small, are said to be autonomous, with the exception of Lemnos, Imbros and Skyros, which, as in ancient times, are said to belong to the Athenians. But whoever does not accept this peace, I will wage war against him together with those who want the same, on land and at sea, with ships and with money (...) "

- Xenophon

Most researchers see the peace of the king as the first example of a koinḕ eirḗnē . Hermann Bengtson viewed the General Peace as a partial effect of the treaty, which was initially only a decree of the great king, from which his name is derived. This decree was invoked by all Greek cities in Sparta - albeit under the threat of violence by the great king in the event of refusal. This and the exceptions mentioned show that a general peace was not fully realized. This should never be the case later, either. The extent to which the autonomy and participation of all poleis was guaranteed always depended on the interests of those powers that initiated and guaranteed a koinḕ eirḗnē .

Artaxerxes did not intend with the king's peace to give Greece a permanent peace order, but to split it politically and weaken it. In addition to the desire for peace, Sparta also tried to secure its own hegemony. The Spartan interpretation of autonomy required the dissolution of all symmetries, but not that of the own Peloponnesian League. Because this was not organized uniformly and centrally, but consisted of a system of bilateral agreements that Sparta had concluded with each of its members. From a Spartan point of view, however, such contracts between individual cities did not fall under the prohibition of alliances under a hegemonic power, although the Peloponnesian League was de facto exactly that.

Sparta thus remained the strongest military power in Greece. Under the pretext of wanting to protect the principle of autonomy, the city exercised a predominance over the next few years, which grossly disregarded the autonomy of others - such as the Chalcidian League or the city of Mantineia .

The General Peace of 375 BC Chr.

In 382 BC The Spartans occupied - in the midst of peace - the Kadmeia , the castle of Thebes, whose growing power was a thorn in their side. This procedure cost them the rest of their credibility as defenders of autonomy and brought them to war with Thebes and their allied Athens. In the course of this it came in the spring of 377 BC. BC for the establishment of the Second Attic Sea Confederation . This alliance represented a violation of the clauses of the royal peace. But it became possible because a large part of the Aegean islands and the coastal cities now saw in Athens - thanks to its help for Thebes - the better advocate of the principle of autonomy. The alliance agreement was expressly concluded

“... to the good luck of the Athenians and the allies of the Athenians, so that the Spartans let the Greeks live freely and independently in peace in the safe possession of their entire territory and thus valid and forever remain the common peace that the Greeks and the Have sworn great king according to the treaties (...) "

- Certificate of the Second Attic League

The Athenians had accordingly used the situation cleverly for propaganda purposes and expressly justified the restoration of the League by wanting to keep the royal peace. Less than thirty years of Spartan hegemony had been enough to turn views on symmachia into their opposite: if the first League was still seen as a threat to autonomy, the second should even serve to defend it. In order to prevent Athens from regaining supremacy, the new alliance was organized according to the principles of general peace. This is an indication that these principles were generally accepted at the time.

When the war in 375 BC B.C. stagnated, the readiness for a peace agreement grew in Athens and Sparta. The Spartans could no longer hope for a victory, and the Athenians had achieved all their goals: the freedom of Thebes from Spartan hegemony and the recognition of their league were now considered compatible with the provisions of the royal peace. Diodorus reports that an embassy of the great king proposed a renewal of the royal peace, since Persia needed rest in Greece in order to be able to recruit mercenaries for a war in Egypt . The Greek cities accepted the suggestion, so that another koinḕ eirḗnē came about.

This time the General Peace was extended by one point: As already provided for in the provisions of the second Attic League, all foreign garrisons were to be withdrawn from the cities. This was directed primarily against Sparta, which was present in some southern Boeotian cities such as Thespiai - albeit at their own request for protection against Thebes. The Thebans were the main beneficiaries of the General Peace of 375. Sparta had started the war for the same reason that Athens was now ready to end it: to prevent a further increase in Theban power. The withdrawal of the Spartan troops under the pretext of the principle of autonomy ultimately led to Thebes being given a free hand in Boeotia. But the Athenians were also clearly among the winners: Their success was due to the recognition of the new League. Neither Sparta nor Persia could take action against him, as it would certainly have done ten years earlier.

Despite the Persian legation, the General Peace of 375 can be described as the first to go back essentially to purely Greek initiatives and in which all parties were about equally strong and thus on equal terms. For the first time, a peace settlement seemed to be possible without the pressure of a hegemonic power.

The negotiations before and after Leuktra

In Athens, even before the treaty of 375 BC, Two opposing political groups formed: One sought a compromise with Sparta, the other a continuation of the alliance with Thebes. However, the anti-Spartan forces overestimated Athens' position after the peace agreement and supported a democratic overthrow on the island of Kerkyra (now Corfu ), an island allied with Sparta . So Sparta, which could not be satisfied with the results of the previous conflicts, had a reason for war again after a year and a half. In addition, the situation has been complicated by the fact that Thebes 374 / 373 v. BC Plataiai destroyed the old ties to Athens and since 380 BC Chr. Also maintained to Sparta. The Spartans then sent troops to Phocis to threaten Thebes and to make up for the failures of recent years. So saw it in 371 BC. Chr. Again after a war of all against all out.

In Athens, however, the moderate politicians prevailed, who saw neutrality as the most advantageous solution for their city and suggested the renewed conclusion of a koinḕ eirḗnē . To take the side of Thebes would have meant decisively strengthening his position of power. Supporting Sparta, on the other hand, would have frightened Graubünden's own people, who saw in him a threat to their autonomy rights. There were also other concerns: if Sparta had rejected the alliance offered, Athens would have been forced to wage two wars at the same time. So the Athenians decided to ignore the events around Plataiai and invite the Thebans to a peace conference in Sparta. Sparta was all the more ready for peace now that its actions in Phocis had been unsuccessful. A threat to Thebes had thus become impossible; on the other hand, the Spartans of Thebes did not yet see themselves threatened.

The General Peace, which was now negotiated on the proposal of Athens, brought decisive innovations. The Athenian interpretation of autonomy continued to prevail, and Sparta undertook, according to Xenophon, to withdraw all of its harmosts (garrison commanders) from foreign poleis. That was a grave concession, because after 375 only the cities on the Peloponnese - Sparta's very own sphere of influence - came into question. Even more important for the further development of the peace idea, however, were regulations that provided for the demobilization of troops and fleets on all sides and that allowed the contracting parties to provide each other with help in the event of an attack. The latter clause, which, however, contained no obligation to assist, came about at the instigation of Athens. It wanted to keep the possibility open at all times to keep the balance between the two other power blocs.

Viewed in isolation, this peace treaty could be called a masterpiece of Athenian diplomacy. However, since it never took effect, one can only speculate whether it would have established a lasting peace. After all, the contracting parties had taken into account the insight that in order to secure the peace one had to provide the necessary means of power against a possible peace-breaker. In the peace of the king this was still the threat of the great king. In a federation of free states, it had to be a joint declaration of intent to jointly counter an attack on a contracting party.

In the planned conclusion of the treaty, however, there was a serious rift between Thebes and Sparta. Theben's ambassadors had initially sworn the agreement in the name of their own city and had it placed under the contract. The next day, however, they demanded that the name of Thebes be replaced by that of the Boeotian League , as they felt they were entitled to act on its behalf. The Spartans categorically rejected this, since in their opinion the Boeotian cities should be autonomous. The break led to war and only twenty days later to the Battle of Leuktra , which ended with the first defeat of Sparta in open battle and finally changed the balance of power in Greece to his disadvantage.

Greece at the time of the hegemony of Thebes, 371–362 BC Chr.

After the battle, the armed conflicts initially subsided. Thebes did not take any further military action against Sparta for the time being, and Sparta only sent troops to the Isthmus of Corinth in order, in the worst case, to repel a Theban attack on the Peloponnese. In this situation, Athens again took the initiative and invited to a peace congress, at which the peace of the king was again invoked and a new treaty was to be negotiated. The intention was to prevent Thebes from developing further. As an innovation in this peace treaty, the possibility of assisting an attacked contract partner against a peacemaker has been converted into an obligation. This was a logical progression of the previous, failed koinḕ eirḗnē and from then on found its way into every further general peace agreement. Some researchers see the second contract of 371 as the foundation of a symmachy due to the assistance obligation.

The Spartans immediately joined the new agreement in their own interest. Meanwhile , their neighbors, the Eleians , were already trying to take advantage of Sparta's weakness and refused to recognize the autonomy of some of the border towns they had in 399 BC. . BC had ceded to Spartan pressure there, but acquired again after Leuctra. More serious was that Thebes stayed away from the treaty, since a general peace could only be a hindrance to his ambitions in his newly won position of power. Bengtson saw in this koinḕ eirḗnē nothing more than an Athenian “gesture against Thebes of no practical value”.

If the idea of ​​general peace ever had a chance of being realized on the basis of general equality of the poleis, it was the short period between 375 BC. And the battle of Leuctra. Only then were there three Hellenic great powers of roughly equal strength, so that the strongest could always be curbed by a possible alliance between the other two. Before and after, however, there was always a clearly dominant hegemonic power - first Sparta, then Thebes - which either rejected a koinḕ eirḗnē or used it for its own purposes. Sooner or later, both of these led to armed conflicts again and again. With the failure of the agreements of 371 BC The idea of ​​general peace as a means of practical politics lost a lot of its persuasiveness.

Failed peace treaties in 368 and 366 BC Chr.

In the year after Leuktra, Thebes significantly expanded its hegemony. Through a campaign in the Peloponnese, it achieved the independence of Messenia , which had been ruled by Sparta for centuries, and supported the formation of the Arcadian League . Another war against an alliance of Sparta, Athens and Syracuse , however, was fruitless. Then all Greek cities were found in 369/368 BC. At the suggestion of Ariobarzanes , the Persian satrap of Phrygia , ready for a peace conference in Delphi . However, this failed because of Sparta's strict refusal to recognize the independence of Messenia and the support it received from Athens and the Persian ambassador, Philiskos, on this issue. Since Ariobazarnes sparked an uprising against the great king a little later, it is still not clear whether he acted on his behalf or pursued his own interests in the negotiations.

When Dionysius II of Syracuse stopped helping the Spartans in the course of the further disputes , they in turn turned to Persia for mediation. So it happened in 367/366 BC. BC to the so-called “competition creep” of the Hellenic ambassadors at the court of the great king by the archaeologist Karl Julius Beloch , which the Theban Pelopidas ultimately won . Persia now recognized Thebes as a power of order in Greece in the same way as Sparta did 20 years earlier in the peace of the king. Messenia was to be independent from Sparta and Amphipolis from Athens in future , and the Eleians were to be granted the disputed border areas around Triphylia . Likewise, all troops and the Athenian fleet were to be dismantled.

This proposal for a general peace was also rejected by Sparta and Athens. In addition, Thebes did not succeed in persuading the remaining poleis to accept it individually. These two attempts at a koinḕ eirḗnē under Theban auspices basically represented a regression of the peace idea to the state of 387 BC. BC: Persia tried to exert influence by means of an internal Greek hegemonic power and to force a general peace. The fact that both draft treaties, unlike the King's Peace, were rejected was due, on the one hand, to the fact that the great king's threat to use force against a peace-breaker had lost a lot of credibility because of the uprising of Ariobarzanes and other satraps. The most important reason, however, must have been the experiences that Greece's cities had made with Sparta after the peace of the king.

The koinḕ eirḗnē of 362

Due to the growing pressure of Thebes on Athens - for example through the conquest of Oropos in 366 BC. BC - his policy also became more aggressive again, especially since no real help from his allies was available. However, none of the Greek powers was able to fully assert themselves in the following years. The conflict that arose from the split in the Arcadian League also ultimately remained undecided. It peaked in 362 BC. In the battle of Mantineia between Thebes and his allies on the one hand and Sparta, Athens and their allies on the other. After the battle in which Epameinondas , the outstanding general of Thebes , fell, all those involved considered themselves victorious and again concluded a general peace.

For the first time, the treaty came about neither at the instigation of one or more of the leading powers nor under Persian pressure. Some researchers saw a positive element in this and in the refusal of the Greek cities to support the satrap rebellion of Asia Minor against the great king. Then the Greeks had come to terms with themselves and managed to make peace on their own. The real reason for this new koinḕ eirḗnē can only be seen in the complete military and material exhaustion of all involved. Intervening in Asia Minor was out of the question in their situation anyway.

The widespread tiredness of war and the desire to make peace as quickly as possible are indicated above all by the contractual arrangements that allowed every city to keep what it had at the time of the peace agreement. Territorial problems were not solved in this way, but they were no longer an obstacle to an agreement. The Arcadian League remained split into a north and a south half, and Messenia remained independent. Since half of the Spartans' property was in this area, they did not join this koinḕ eirḗnē either. On the other hand, they were no longer able to continue the war.

The ancient historian Hermann Bengtson saw an epoch boundary in the year 362, because at that time the failure of the Greek poleis manifested itself. None of them was in a position to politically reorganize Greece through the formation of hegemony. Rather, they would have worn out in the struggle of all against all. Even together they were not capable of such a reorganization, since ultimately neither the Panhellenic idea nor the idea of ​​general peace would have led to a constructive policy.

The koinḕ eirḗnē as the basis of the Corinthian covenant


According to Mantineia, internal Greek politics ran along the old tracks. When the conflict with the rising Macedonian superpower became increasingly apparent in the 50s of the 4th century, the idea of ​​universal peace also revived. First Macedonia made the proposal to replace the peace of Philocrates , who had ended the Third Holy War , with a koinḕ eirḗnē . Because of Macedonia's persistently aggressive policy against Athens, however, the advocates of a decidedly anti-Macedonian course under Demosthenes prevailed over the next few years. They rejected the proposal and instead advocated war against King Philip of Macedon. In fact, the Athenians brought 340 / 339 v. Chr. A great bunch together Greek states. However, its army was in 338 BC. Defeated by Philip's troops in the Battle of Chaironeia .

The Macedonians then only proceeded extremely hard against Thebes, while they wanted to make use of the power of Athens and the other poleis through an alliance. The Corinthian League initiated by Philip was formally based on a koinḕ eirḗnē . The federal treaty contained the express prohibition of violently interfering with the constitutions of other cities - an essential clarification of the autonomy clause - as well as, for the first time, general bans on feuds and piracy as well as a guarantee of free navigation. The union, which in turn only Sparta did not join, formed a synhedrion : a council that entered into a symmachy with Philip as a person. The Macedonian king thus became the hegemon of the league.

Theoretically, the Greek cities were thus guaranteed freedom and autonomy. In practice, however, the general ban on feuding was perceived as a severe restriction on independence. In addition, the Macedonians were given the right to relocate crews to Thebes, Acrocorinth and Chalkis - ostensibly to maintain general security.

The Corinthian Covenant was the final rejection of a koinḕ eirḗnē on the basis of complete equality and linked the idea of ​​peace with the guarantee of a strong hegemonic power. Symmachie and koinḕ eirḗnē were mutually dependent in the alliance agreement. The Panhellenic idea of ​​a unification of Greece and a "campaign of revenge" against the Persians, as propagated by Alexander the Great a few years later, was only made possible by this General Peace.

Opportunities and failure of the peace idea

With “Autonomy and Freedom” the Greek Poleis had found a formula for a comprehensive peace settlement that was acceptable to all sides at the beginning of the 4th century. Without it after 387 BC. A peace agreement is no longer possible, even if the agreements usually only lasted a few years. But the principles of general peace also found their way into alliance treaties such as the founding acts of the 2nd Attic League and the Corinthian League. A great opportunity for realizing a true koinḕ eirḗnē lay in the fact that the idea of ​​peace turned out to be flexible enough for further developments.

Researchers like Bengtson are of the opinion that the Poleis did not have enough time until the establishment of Macedonian hegemony to perfect the koinḕ eirḗnē as an instrument of peace policy and a fundamental reorganization of the Greek world. The best chances for a lasting peace solution on an equal basis were already wasted with the failure of the koinḕ eirḗnē of 371. Nine years later, after the Battle of Mantineia, a general peace treaty was seen as an emergency solution. It was revived by Philip of Macedonia only because it used his power interests, just as it had previously done for the interests of Persia, Sparta, Athens and Thebes.

There is also much to suggest that the failure of the koinḕ eirḗnē was rooted in its nature, especially in the extensive interpretation of the autonomy requirement. The mutual control of power between states was in the 4th century BC. BC only possible in rudiments. At such a time, a way of thinking that perceived even the limitations of warfare as a curtailment of one's own autonomy and freedom almost inevitably failed to establish a lasting peace order.

The statesmen of the Poleis knew that goodwill alone could not guarantee koinḕ eir .nē . Depending on the political constellation, they therefore developed contractual mechanisms that were intended to deter peacemakers. They slowly felt their way to the realization that a general peace on an equal basis would only be possible if all those involved were prepared to rush to military aid to an attacked member of the alliance if necessary. This in turn presupposed an approximate equilibrium between the Greek poleis, which was only achieved in the short period between 375 BC. And the battle of Leuctra was really given. Before and after, a general peace only had a chance if a strong guaranteeing power was ready to enforce it with threats of violence if necessary.

After all: In the discussion about the koinḕ eirḗnē , the Greeks of the 4th century BC developed principles that were only redeveloped in Europe from the 17th century AD and became the basis for lasting peace agreements and organizations. The Peace of Westphalia is considered to be the first European peace order of the modern age, which was based on the principle of equality of sovereign states and the principle of non-interference in their internal affairs, i.e. on the nature of autonomy. Immanuel Kant went one step further in his work On Eternal Peace from 1795. In it he not only advocates the principle of non-interference, but also calls for a “League of Nations”. In order to end the lawless state of nature between the states, the latter should establish a federal relationship between them, as the koinḕ eirḗnē had foreseen after the battle of Leuktra. In the 20th century, the founders of the League of Nations and the United Nations invoked Kant's ideas . The world of today has just as little found a definitive answer to the question of permanent peacekeeping, the containment of power through the law, as has the world of the Greek poleis 2,400 years ago.



  • Andokides : About peace with the Lacedaemonians. Translated and explained by Albert Gerhard Becker. Quedlinburg, Leipzig 1832
  • Andokides: Orationes , ed. by Fr. Blass, C. Fuhr. Teubner, Stuttgart 1965.
  • Diodorus Siculus : Library of History. The Loeb Classical Library ´Bd. VI. Books 14–15.19, Vol. VII. Books 15.20–16.65, Vol. VIII. Books 16.66–17. London 1952–1963.
  • Pseudo-Demosthenes : About the contract with Alexander. In: History in Sources. Vol. 1. Alter Orient, Hellas, Rome. Edited by Wolfgang Lautemann and Manfred Schlenke. Munich 1978.
  • Document of the 2nd Attic League, Athens 377. In: Greek inscriptions as evidence of private and public life. Greek-German , ed. v. Gerhard Pfohl, Heimeran, Tübingen 1980. ISBN 3-7765-2032-9 .
  • Xenophon : Hellenika. Greek-German. Edited by Gisela Strasburger. Artemis, Munich 1970, 1988. ISBN 3-7608-1639-8 .

Secondary literature

  • Ernst Baltrusch : Symmachie and Spondai. Studies on Greek international law of the archaic and classical periods (8th-5th centuries BC) Studies on ancient literature and history, vol. 43, ed. by Winfried Bühler et al., Walter de Gruyter, New York, Berlin 1994.
  • Karl Julius Beloch : Greek History. Vol. 3. Except for Aristotle and the conquest of Asia. T. 1. Berlin-Leipzig 1922.
  • Hermann Bengtson : Greek History. From the beginnings to the Roman Empire. Handbook of Classical Studies. Vol. 3, 4. Munich 1977, 1996. ISBN 3-406-06660-7 .
  • Hermann Bengtson (ed.): The state contracts of antiquity. Vol. 2. The treaties of the Greco-Roman world from 700 to 338 BC Chr. Munich / Berlin 1962
  • GL Cawkwell: The Common Peace of 366/5 BC In: The Classical Quarterly 55, NS 11.1., 1961, pp. 80-86. ISSN  1471-6844
  • Max Dieckhoff : Two peace speeches. In: Smaller Attic speakers. Ed. by Anargyros Anastassiou and Dieter Irmer . Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1977, pp. 379-391. ISBN 3-534-03843-6 .
  • Victor Ehrenberg : The State of the Greeks , 2nd edition, Artemis, Zurich 1965.
  • Franz Hampl : The Greek state treaties of the 4th century before the birth of Christ. Prize publications of the Princely Jablonowskische Gesellschaft zu Leipzig. Vol. 54. Leipzig 1938, Rome 1966 (repr.).
  • Martin Jehne : Koine Eirene. Investigations into the pacification and stabilization efforts in the Greek polis world of the 4th century BC Chr. Hermes single font. Vol. 63. Stuttgart 1994. ISBN 3-515-06199-1 .
  • Immanuel Kant : To Eternal Peace. A philosophical draft , ed. v. Theodor Valentiner, Philipp Reclam Jun., Stuttgart 1983.
  • Jakob Aal Ottesen Larsen : Greek Federal States. Their Institutions and History. Oxford University Press, London 1968.
  • Jakob Aal Ottesen Larsen: Review by TTB Ryder, Koine Eirene. In: Gnomon 38, 1966, pp. 256-260. ISSN  0017-1417
  • Thomas Pistorius: Striving for Hegemony and Securing Autonomy in Greek Contract Policy of the Classical and Hellenistic Period. European university publications. Row 3. History and its auxiliary sciences. Vol. 272. Frankfurt am Main 1985. ISBN 3-8204-8494-9 .
  • Timothy TB Ryder: Koine Eirene. General Peace and Local Independence in Ancient Greece. Oxford University Press, London 1965.
  • Christian Schmidt: The Thirty Years War , C. H. Beck Verlag, Munich 1995.
  • Fritz Taeger : The Peace of 362/1. A contribution to the history of the Panhellenic movement in the 4th century. Tuebingen Contributions to Classical Studies , Vol. 11. Stuttgart 1930.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Diekhoff, Friedensreden , pp. 379–391
  2. Ryder, Koine Eirene, p. 15
  3. Cf. Diodor, XV, 5,1 and XV, 38,1-2
  4. ^ Andokides, Orationes , III, 17
  5. Ryder, Koine Eirene , pp. 11-13
  6. ^ Andokides, s. O.
  7. Xenophon, Hellenika V, 1.31
  8. Jehne, Koine Eirene , p. 39 ff.
  9. ^ Jehne, Koine Eirene , p. 179
  10. Baltrusch: Symmachie , p. 23 f.
  11. Ryder, Koine eirene , pp. 3–6 and Ehrenberg, Staat , p. 132.
  12. Ehrenberg, Staat , p. 114.
  13. Ryder, Koine eirene , p. 6.
  14. ^ Pistorius: Hegemoniestreben, p. 157.
  15. Quoted from Andokides, Frieden , p. 217.
  16. Hellenika , 5,1,31.
  17. Bengtson: Greek History. P. 271.
  18. Hellenika , 5,1,31
  19. On the problem of the definition of autonomy see Pistorius, Hegemoniestreben ; Pp. 165-167
  20. Quoted from Pfohl (Ed.), Inscriptions , No. 103, p. 107
  21. Diodorus, XV, 38.1
  22. Xenophon, Hellenika , VI, 18-19
  23. Xenophon, Hellenika , VI, 5: 2-3
  24. ^ So Ernst Mayer in the review of Hampl, Staatsvertvertrag , in: Zeitschrift für Rechtsgeschichte , Romance Department 59 (1938), pp. 598–606
  25. Xenophon, Hellenika , VI, 5.3
  26. ^ Bengtson, History , p. 279
  27. Xenophon, Hellenika 7, 1, 27
  28. See Ryder, Koine Eirene , p. 80
  29. Beloch, Geschichte , Volume 3, Part 1, p. 85; see also Cawkwell, Common Peace , p. 85
  30. Diodorus, XV, 89: 1-2
  31. ^ So Taeger, Friede , pp. 1–4
  32. Bengtson, Geschichte , pp. 385 f.
  33. For content and contemporary criticism, see Pseudo-Demosthenes, Orationes , 17 (About the contract with Alexander)
  34. On the general relationship between symmetry and koinḕ eirḗnē see Ehrenberg, Staat , pp. 146 and 322 f.
  35. For the terms αὐτονομία and ἐλευθερία see Pistorius, Hegemeonietreben , p. 169
  36. ^ Bengtson, History , p. 255
  37. ^ Schmidt, war ; P. 119.
  38. Kant, Frieden , p. 19 and 30 ff.
This article was added to the list of excellent articles on May 23, 2005 in this version .