The “Great Earthquake” in Sparta and All-Greel Solidarity

Karpyuk Sergey G.

The article deals with the problems of dating and interpretation of ‘the great earthquake’ in Sparta in the mid-460s BC. The author rejects early dating (469/8), based on a misinterpretation of Thucydides’ and Diodorus’ notes. The earthquake of 465/464 caused great damage to Sparta. A connection between ‘the great earthquake’ and the Spartan oliganthropia is obvious, but its level was discussed by P. Cartledge, Th.J. Figueira, G.L. Cawkwell, N.M. Kennell, and some other scholars. The question is still open for discussion. After the earthquake of 465/464 in Sparta a campaign of relief to one polis began in some other city-states. The reason was the indisputable authority which Sparta had after Xerxes’ invasion of Greece. But Athens, Aegina, Plataea and other states rendered military assistance, not humanitarian aid. With their assistance Sparta could overcome the Helots’ uprising, and the polis of Sparta could survive as a social organism. Indeed, the case of ‘the great earthquake’ was an example of the citizens’ solidarity against the Helots’ uprising. The fi rst case of international ‘humanitarian’ relief after a natural catastrophe was the situation after the Rhodes earthquake at the end of the 3rd century BC.

Keywords: earthquake, Sparta, Athens, helots, Thucydides, chronology, polis, solidarity.
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