Ancient City Of Byzantium Essay

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The ancient city of Byzantium was founded by Greek colonists from Megara around 657 BCE. According to the historian Tacitus, it was built on the European side of the Strait of Bosporus on the order of the “god of Delphi” who said to build “opposite the land of the blind”. This was in reference to the inhabitants of Chalcedon who had built their city on the eastern shore of the Strait; the west side was considered far more fertile and better suited for agriculture. Although the city accepted the alphabet, calendar and cults of Megara, much of the city’s founding still remains unknown. The region would remain important to the Greeks as well as the Romans. While it lay in a highly fertile area, the city was far more important due to its strategic…show more content…
The Athenians wanted to control Byzantium because they needed to import grain through the Strait from the Black Sea, and the Spartans wanted the city to stop the grain flow to Athens. Its prosperous economy benefited Athens, and because of this the city had been made part of the Delian League; however, the high tributes the city had to pay to Athens --- and the fact that Athens was losing the war --- forced them to switch sides to Sparta in 411 BCE. The Spartan general Clearchus easily seized the city. This switch allowed Sparta to stop vital grain shipments through the Strait to Athens. When the Athenian leader Alcibiades outwitted the Spartans in battle in 408 BC, Clearchus abandoned the city, and the area again became Athenian. Later, however, Sparta regained control when Lysander defeated the Athenians in 405 BCE. This final defeat cut off the Athenian food supply, forcing them to surrender to Sparta in 404 BCE, thereby ending the Peloponnesian War. The following year Byzantium faced a threat from the Thracians to the west and sought help of Sparta who took control of the city. Around 390 BCE the city changed hands again when the Athenian general Thrasybulus ended Spartan
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