In his speech “Against Eratosthenes” Lysias depicts the historical conditions and political affairs of a democracy trying to survive in 5th century BC Athens through the interplay of the characters

In his speech “Against Eratosthenes” Lysias depicts the historical conditions and political affairs of a democracy trying to survive in 5th century BC Athens through the interplay of the characters. This is true to a great extent as Shuckburgh has pointed out “the subjects with which Lysias has to deal were closely connected either with historical events or with the everyday life of his time.” (E. S. Shuckburgh) To understand Shuckburgh’s quotation we need to appreciate the civil strife, turmoil and political expediency which formed the background to Lysias’ speech.
The Peloponnesian war presented several challenges to Athens’ democracy. According to Thucydides “The growth of the power of Athens, and the alarm which this inspired in Lacedaemon, made war inevitable.” (Thucydides I.1.23) Thus Athens’ growing empire and their creation of the Delian league was seen as a major threat to Sparta and ultimately caused the Peloponnesian war 431-404BC. Finally, Athens defeat by Sparta led to many severe consequences. According to Xenophon, the Spartans demanded ”that the Athenians take down their Long Walls and the fortifications of the Piraeus (which were insisted by Lysander); that they hand over all of their ships except twelve; that they allow their exiles to return to Athens; that they have the same friends and enemies as the Spartans; and that they be willing to follow the Spartans as their leaders on land or sea.”