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This article is about the conflict between Athens and its allies between 357 and 355 BC
For the conflict between Rome and her allies between 91 and 88 BC, see Social War (91–88 BC)
Social War
Date 357–355 BC
Location Aegean Sea, Asia Minor
Result Confederate allies independent; Athens provoked by Persia
Athens and its Second Athenian Empire Chios

The Social War, also known as the War of the Allies, was fought from 357 BC to 355 BC between Athens with its Second Athenian Empire and between the allies of Chios, Rhodes, and Cos as well as the independent Byzantium.



Provoked by Athens' increasingly dominating stance over its Second Athenian Empire, Chios, Rhodes, and Cos overthrew their democratic governments and broke away from the league, assisted by Byzantium. The Athenian generals Chares and Chabrias were given command of the Athenian fleet.


During midsummer of 357 BC Chabrias's fleet was defeated and he was killed in the attack on the island of Chios. Chares was given complete command of the Athenian fleet and withdrew to the Hellespont for operations against Byzantium. The generals Timotheus, Iphicrates and his son Menestheus were sent to help him during an oncoming naval battle between the sighted enemy fleet on the Hellespont. Timotheus and Iphicrates refused to engage due to a blowing gale but Chares did engage and lost many of his ships. Timotheus and Iphicrates were accused by Chares and put on trial, however only Timotheus was condemned to pay a fine, and escaped.

In 356 BC, the revolting allies ravaged the Athenian-loyal islands of Lemnos and Imbros but were only able to lay siege to Samos because it was defended by cleruchs. Chares commanded the Athenian fleet at the Battle of Embata lost decisively.

Philip II's interference

King Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, used the war as an opportunity to further the interests of his Macedonian kingdom in the Aegean region. In 357 BC, Philip captured Amphipolis, a depot for the gold and silver mines from Mount Pangaion and the approach to it, as well as for timber, securing Macedon's economic and political future. He secretly offered Amphipolis to the Athenians in exchange for the valuable port Pydna but when they complied, both Pydna and Potidaea were conquered over the winter and occupied; Amphipolis wasn't surrendered anyway. He also took the city of Crenides from the Odrysae and renamed it Philippi.

The leading city of the Chalkidian League, Olynthus, had been allied with Philip until she became fearful of his increasing power. Despite many attempts by Philip to keep the alliance intact, which included presenting the city of Potidaea to her, Olynthus forged an alliance with Athens. In 349 BC Philip besieged and razed the city to the ground, and then subjugated the other cities of the Confederacy.

Persian interference and the end of the war

Chares was in need of money for his war effort but frowned upon asking it from home so, partly compelled by his mercenaries, he entered the service of the revolted Persian satrap Atrabazus. The Athenians originally approved this collaboration but then ordered it to be dropped due to the Persian king Artaxerxes III Ochus's complaint and their fear of Persian support for the revolting confederates.

Furthermore, as a result of increasing Athenian operations near the Persian empire, in 356 BC Persia asked Athens to leave Asia Minor, warning war. In 355 BC Athens, not in any shape for another war, complied and withdrew recognizing the independence of the confederate allies. Chares' war party was replaced by a peaceful one under Eubulus. The financial surplus racked for the war was put in a fund to be used for public entertainment.

Further reading

  • Cawkwell, G. L. (1981). "Notes on the Failure of the Second Athenian Confederacy". Journal of Hellenic Studies 101: 40–55. doi:10.2307/629842.  
  • Dreher, Martin (1995) (in German). Hegemon und Symmachoi. Untersuchungen zum Zweiten Attischen Seebund. Berlin: de Gruyter. pp. 287–292. ISBN 3110144441.  
  • Peake, Scott (1997). "A Note on the Dating of the Social War". Greece & Rome 44: 161–164. doi:10.2307/643057.  
  • Ruzicka, Stephen (1998). "Epaminondas and the Genesis of the Social War". Classical Philology 93: 60–69. doi:10.1086/449375.  
  • Sealey, Raphael (1955). "Athens after the Social War". Journal of Hellenic Studies 75: 74–81. doi:10.2307/629172.  


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