The King's Peace (387 BC) was a peace treaty guaranteed by the Persian King Artaxerxes II that ended the Corinthian War in
ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a northeastern Mediterranean civilization, existing from the Greek Dark Ages The term Greek Dark Ages refers to the period of Greek history from the end of the Mycenaean palatial civiliz ...
. The treaty is also known as the Peace of Antalcidas, after Antalcidas, the Spartan diplomat who traveled to
Susa Susa ( ; Middle elx, 𒀸𒋗𒊺𒂗, translit=Šušen; Middle and Neo- elx, 𒋢𒋢𒌦, translit=Šušun; Neo- Elamite and Achaemenid The Achaemenid Empire or Achaemenian Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, , ), also called the First P ...
to negotiate the terms of the treaty with the king of Achaemenid Persia. The treaty was more commonly known in antiquity, however, as the King's Peace, a name that reflects the depth of Persian influence in the treaty, as Persian gold had driven the preceding war. The treaty was a form of Common Peace, similar to the Thirty Years' Peace which ended the First Peloponnesian War.

The end of the war

By 387 BC, the central front of the Corinthian War had shifted from the Greek mainland to the Aegean, where an
Athenian Athens ( ; el, Αθήνα, Athína ; grc, Ἀθῆναι, Athênai (pl.) ) is both the capital and largest city of Greece. With a population close to four million, it is also the seventh largest city in the European Union. Athens dominates ...
fleet under Thrasybulus had successfully placed a number of cities across the Aegean under Athenian control, and was acting in collaboration with Evagoras, the king of
Cyprus Cyprus ; tr, Kıbrıs (), officially the Republic of Cyprus,, , lit: Republic of Cyprus is an island country located south of the Anatolian Peninsula in the eastern Mediterranean Sea The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to th ...
. Since Evagoras was an enemy of Persia, and many of the Athenian gains threatened Persian interests, these developments prompted Artaxerxes to switch his support from Athens and her allies to Sparta. Antalcidas, the commander of a Spartan fleet, was summoned to
Susa Susa ( ; Middle elx, 𒀸𒋗𒊺𒂗, translit=Šušen; Middle and Neo- elx, 𒋢𒋢𒌦, translit=Šušun; Neo- Elamite and Achaemenid The Achaemenid Empire or Achaemenian Empire (; peo, 𐎧𐏁𐏂, , ), also called the First P ...
, along with the satrap, Tiribazus. There, the Spartans and Persians worked out the form of an agreement to end the war. To bring the Athenians to the negotiating table, Antalcidas then moved his fleet of 90 ships to the Hellespont, where he could threaten the trade routes along which the Athenians imported grain from the
Black Sea The Black Sea is a marginal mediterranean sea of the Atlantic Ocean lying between Europe and Asia, east of the Balkans, south of the East European Plain, west of the Caucasus, and north of Anatolia. It is bounded by Bulgaria, Geor ...
region. The Athenians, mindful of their disastrous defeat in 404 BC, when the Spartans had gained control of the Hellespont, agreed to negotiate, and Thebes,
Corinth Corinth ( ; el, Κόρινθος, Kórinthos, ) is the successor to an ancient city, and is a former municipality A municipality is usually a single administrative division having corporate status and powers of self-government or juris ...
, and Argos, unwilling to fight on without Athens, were also forced to negotiate. In a peace conference at Sparta, all the belligerents agreed to the terms laid down by Artaxerxes.

Terms of the peace

The most notable feature of the King's Peace is the Persian influence it reflects. The Persian decree that established the terms of the peace, as recorded by Xenophon, clearly shows this: Ionia and Cyprus were abandoned to the Persians, and the Athenians were compelled to cede their newly-won territories in the Aegean. Equally significantly, the insistence on autonomy put an end to a novel political experiment that had grown out of the war, the union of Argos and Corinth. In what the Greeks called ''
sympoliteia A ''sympoliteia'' ( gr, συμπολιτεία, , joint citizenship), anglicized as sympolity, was a type of treaty for political organization in ancient Greece. By the time of the Hellenistic period, it occurred in two forms. In mainland Greece ...
'', the two cities had politically merged, granting all citizens joint citizenship. They were forced to separate, and the Thebans were required to disband their Boeotian league. Only Sparta's Peloponnesian League and helots were overlooked, as the Spartans, who were responsible for administering the peace, had no wish to see the principle of independence applied there.


The single greatest effect of the Peace was the return of firm Persian control over Ionia and parts of the Aegean. Driven back from the Aegean shores by the
Delian League The Delian League, founded in 478 BC, was an association of Greek city-states, numbering between 150 and 330, under the leadership of Athens Athens ( ; el, Αθήνα, Athína ; grc, Ἀθῆναι, Athênai (pl.) ) is both the capital c ...
during the 5th century, the Persians had been recovering their position since the later part of the Peloponnesian War, and were now strong enough to dictate terms to Greece. They would maintain this position of strength until the time of
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc, Ἀλέξανδρος, Alexandros; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king of the ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek la ...
. As Mikhail Gasparov states in his book ''Greece for Entertainment'' ('' Занимательная Греция''), "Artaxerxes had succeeded where Xerxes had failed; the Persian King was giving orders in Greece like it was his, and without bringing in a single soldier at that." In short, the treaty placed Greece under Persian suzerainty. A second effect of this "most disgraceful event in Greek history", as Will Durant characterized it, was the establishment of Sparta in a formalized position at the top of a Greek political system enforced by the Great King. Using their mandate to protect and enforce the peace, the Spartans proceeded to launch a number of campaigns against '' poleis'' that they perceived as political threats. Near at hand, they forced the city of Mantinea in Arcadia, to disband into its constituent villages.Simon Hornblower, in John Boardman, Jasper Griffin and Oswyn Murray, ''Greece and the Hellenistic World'' (Oxford)141. The largest intervention was a campaign in 382 BC to break up the federalist Chalcidian League in northeastern Greece, as violating the autonomy principle of the Great King's decree. On the way there, in 383 the Spartan commander Phoebidas, invited by a pro-Spartan faction, seized the Theban Kadmeia (the Theban acropolis) and left a Laconophile oligarchy supported by a Spartan garrison; even the pro-Spartan Xenophon could only attribute the act to madness. The principle of autonomy proved to be a flexible tool in the hand of a hegemonic power. The King's Peace was not successful in bringing peace to Greece. Pelopidas and companions liberated Thebes in 379 by assassinating the Laconizing tyrants. After the campaign against Olynthus in 382, general fighting resumed with the revived Athenian naval confederacy and continued, with intermittent attempts to restore the peace, for much of the next two decades. The idea of a Common Peace proved to be enduring, however, and numerous attempts would be made to establish one, with little more success than the original. By granting powers to Sparta that were sure to infuriate other states when used, the treaties sowed the seeds of their own demise, and a state of near-constant warfare continued to be the norm in Greece.

See also

* List of treaties



*Fine, John V.A. ''The Ancient Greeks: A Critical History'' (Harvard University Press, 1983) * {{Authority control 387 BC Wars involving ancient Greece Antalcidas Antalcidas Corinthian War 4th-century BC treaties Artaxerxes II