Messenian Wars


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Messenian Wars

 

three wars between Messenia and Sparta (ancient Greece).

As a result of the first Messenian War (second half of the eighth century B.C.), the Spartans succeeded in seizing the eastern region and southern coast of Messenia, and the conquered were obliged to give the Spartans one-half of their harvest. A revolt of the Messenians against Spartan domination, led by Aristomenes, is called the Second Messenian War (second half of the seventh century B.C.). In that war Sparta, which was militarily stronger, seized all of Messenia. Some of the conquered resettled in Sicily, and the remaining Messenians were turned into disenfranchised Helots. The largest rebellion of the Messenian Helots in antiquity is traditionally called the Third Messenian War (464 to 458 or 455 B.C.). The rebels took up a position on inaccessible Mount Ithome and stubbornly held out for ten years, despite the military aid that was given to Sparta by many of the Greek city-states. The Spartans were compelled to allow the rebels to leave Messenia unhindered. The Messenians then settled in the city of Naupactus (Navpaktos) in central Greece.

REFERENCE

Berger, A. Sotsiarnye dvizheniia v Drevnei Sparte. Moscow, 1936.
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14) "Story" is the operative word, since the exact course of the Messenian Wars of Spartan conquest, and, indeed, their very historicity, remain a clouded issue, with all specific points hotly debated.
Archaic settlements are described by McDonald and Hope Simpson as being "rather small," an expected result of the loss of freedom following the Second Messenian War, (41) but the characterization is not entirely borne out by the data they themselves present for estimates of site size.