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Les expéditions athéniennes en Sicile, ou la difficulté pour une marine de garder sa supériorité

from HISTORICAL CASE STUDIES: The Mediterranean world

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 April 2017

Daniel Battesti
Affiliation:
University of Franche-Comté, France
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Summary

RÉSUMÉ.Cette contribution analyse les causes et conséquences de l'échec de la célèbre expédition de Sicile de 415–413 av. J.-C., où Athènes envoya une grande armada combattre Syracuse, au beau milieu du violent conflit qui l'opposait à Sparte et connu sous le nom de guerre du Péloponnèse (431–404 av. J.-C.). En s'appuyant sur les écrits de l'ancien historien athénien Thucydide, les auteurs expliquent comment les similarités en termes de structures politiques et de ressources militaires existantes entre Athènes et Syracuse ont empêché le succès habituel des tactiques athéniennes pour prendre le contrôle d'autres cités-États grecques, à savoir un changement de régime populaire ou un déploiement de force écrasante. La victoire avant tout maritime de Syracuse marqua un tournant décisif dans le cours de la guerre, qui se termina d'ailleurs par la prise de la dernière flotte athénienne en 405 av. J.-C. Ceci constitue un des meilleurs exemples de l'Antiquité sur l'impact profond de l'utilisation de la mer dans L'histoire de certains états.

ABSTRACT.This contribution analyses the reasons for and the consequences of the failure of the famous Sicilian expedition of 415–413 BC, a great armada launched by the Classical Athenians against Syracuse in the midst of the bitter conflict against the Spartans known as the Peloponnesian War (431–404 BC). Following the ancient Athenian historian Thucydides, the authors conclude that the similarity between Athens and Syracuse in terms of political structures and military resources nullified the Athenians’ usual tactics of bringing other Greek city-states under their control through either a popular regime change, or the deployment of overwhelming force. Because the Syracusans’ victory was primarily a naval one, it marked a decisive turning point in the course of the war, which effectively ended with the capture of the last Athenian fleet in 405 BC. This is one of the best examples from Antiquity of the use of the sea profoundly affecting the history of particular states.

INTRODUCTION

Au cours de la guerre du Péloponnèse, les Athéniens envoient à deux reprises un corps expéditionnaire en Sicile sous prétexte d'assister un allié dans un conflit local, mais avec l'espoir de conquérir un nouveau territoire qui, au début de la guerre du Péloponnèse, semble pourtant périphérique.

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Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2017

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