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Megara


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City between Athens and Corinth. It had only difficult access through mountains to the Corinthian Gulf, at Aegosthena and Pagae; its best territory, the plain near the city, was close to Nisaea, the Saronic Gulf port. Two important routes led through Megarian territory from Peloponnese to central Greece: the Saronic Gulf coast road to Eleusis, and the western route to Boeotia. Megara suffered throughout her history from her more powerful neighbours but an independent Megara founded colonies after the mid‐8th cent. bc, in Sicily at Megara Hyblaea but esp. in the east, on the Bosporus (1) (Chalcedon, Byzantium) and the Black (Euxine) Sea. The tyrant Theagenes (after 650?) assisted his son‐in‐law Cylon in an unsuccessful attempt on the tyranny at Athens; we know little more except that he ‘slaughtered the flocks of the rich’. Salamis was disputed with Athens until Pisistratus established Athenian control. Megara joined the Spartan alliance (see peloponnesian league) towards 500 and fought in the Persian Wars, but Corinthian aggression c.460 caused her to join the Athenians, who helped to erect the first known Long Walls, between the city and Nisaea; the First Peloponnesian War soon followed. Another change in Megarian allegiance enabled Sparta to invade Attica in 446, and the Thirty Years Peace was agreed, under which Athens agreed to give up Pagae and Nisaea. Athens' Megarian Decree restricted Megarian access to the Athenian Agora and harbours in the Athenian empire; it was a response to Megarian cultivation of sacred land on the border. Spartan diplomacy (and popular opinion) made it a significant factor in the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War; but Thucydides (2) was right to judge that other issues were more important. Megara suffered two destructive invasions each year until 424. In that year democrats, having recently exiled oligarchic opponents, attempted to betray the city; Nisaea was taken, but Brasidas saved Megara itself, and an extreme oligarchy was established. Megara rejected the terms of the Peace of Nicias, since they did not include the return of Nisaea; it was not recovered until 410/9.

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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