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Source Exercise 1: The Athenian Empire: 3


A major part of Thucydides' explanation rests with the way in which Athens increased its power by turning the system of alliances known by modern scholars as the Delian League into the Athenian empire. In this extract he shows how the Athenians exploit their allies' hatred of Pausanias (a Spartan general suspected of collaborating with the Persians), and how they used the war to gain power over their allies as well as defeat the Persians. It is a clever way of exploiting the situation. Thucydides is showing this, as well as the military strength of the alliance, brought together so cleverly by the Athenians. 

Now read source 2 carefully and try to answer the questions which follow using only the internal evidence of the source.

Source 2

INSPECTOR. Where are the proxenoi?

INSPECTOR. I have been chosen by lot and come here as Inspector to Cloudcuckooland.

PEISETAIROS. Inspector? Who sent you here?

INSPECTOR. A measly document drawn up by Teleas.

PEISETAIROS. What? How about your taking your pay then for not making trouble and clearing off?

INSPECTOR. Yes, please! I need to stay at home and go to the Assembly. I have some business I'm transacting with Pharnakes.

PEISETAIROS. Take it and go. Here's your pay (beating him)

INSPECTOR. What was that?

PEISETAIROS. An assembly about Pharnakes.

INSPECTOR. Witness everybody! I'm being beaten, I, an Inspector.

PEISETAIROS. Shoo! Take your voting urns. Isn't it dreadful - they are already sending Inspectors to the city before we have even sacrificed to the gods!

DECREE-SELLER (reading). If a citizen of Cloudcuckooland wrongs an Athenian...

PEISETAIROS. What, another horrible little scroll?

DECREE-SELLER. I am a decree-seller and I have come here to you to sell you new laws.


DECREE-SELLER. [1040] The people of Cloudcuckooland are to use these measures and weights and decrees just like the Olophyxians.

PEISETAIROS. You'll soon be using what the Ototuxians [i.e. those who cry out 'Ototoi' because beaten] use.

DECREE-SELLER. What's wrong with you?

PEISETAIROS. Won't you take those laws away? I'll show you some nasty laws right now. [Hits him.]

DECREE-SELLER. I indict Peisetairos for gross violence, case to be held in the month Mounykhion.

PEISETAIROS [turning away from Decree-seller and seeing Inspector]. Is this really you? Are you still hanging about here?

INSPECTOR [reading]. [1050] If anyone drives out the officials and does not accept them in accordance with thestele...

PEISETAIROS. What an unlucky man I am, you are still hanging about!

INSPECTOR. I will bring about your destruction and indict you for 10,000 drachmas.

PEISETAIROS [aiming a kick?]. I'll do for your two voting urns...

DECREE-SELLER. [1055] Do you remember when you defecated over the stele one evening?

PEISETAIROS. Yuck! Arrest him someone!



Try to work out an answer, however tentative, to each of the following:

  • From what sort of work might this passage have been extracted?
  • What sort of person might have written it?
  • Who and what might it have been written for?
  • What attitudes does it reveal?


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