However, the Athenians saw that if they were to take more power, the members of the league would not be strong enough to resist. Therefore, that was exactly what they did; they took more and more power until what was the Delian League became the Athenian Empire (Kagan 8). As they grew even more powerful and wealthy, their neighbors of Sparta and the Peloponnesian League, Sparta's alliance, could not help but notice (Kagan 13). In 431 BCE, lighted b... ... middle of paper ... ...a trail of destruction in its wake, this war changed the entire course of Ancient Greek history. Even though there has been countless wars in Greek history, the Peloponnesian War was definitely the one with the most consequences.
Historical Overview Of The Peloponnesian War (431 - 404 BC) Introduction The Peloponnesian War is widely known as the second war between the Athenian and Spartan coalitions. In Thucydides'narratives on the war, he described that the war took place during a period when the Greek world was divided into two great alignments each led by either Athens or Sparta, with both sides at the height of their powers. Two Diametric Powerful Greek City-States At the start of the war, Athens wielded great political and economic power in the Greek world. Athens was perceived to be the "unifying force" in the Greek territories against the Persian invasions. After the Greco-Persian wars ended, Athens led the Delian League (See Figure 2) and protected its members with its powerful naval fleet the largest fleet then.
The Peloponnesian war involved Greece’s two most prominent city-states, Athens and Sparta, between 431-404 BC. Both Athens and Sparta held numerous alliances, causing essentially the entire ancient Greek world to be engulfed in war. The Peloponnesian war was perhaps one of the most momentous wars of its time and is meticulously documented in the historian Thucydides contemporary account History. Thucydides stated that the most prominent cause of the war was Sparta’s unease at the rapidly growing power and capital of Athens. Other events caused friction between the city-states, notably Athens intervening in a dispute between Spartans ally, Corinth, and her colony Corcyra over the city of Epidaurus.
There has been, and continues to be great debate amongst historians surrounding the precise causes of the Great Peloponnesian War. The classical source of Thucydides provides great first hand insight into the causes of the war, as well as both Kagan and St. Croix, modern historians. Various long term factors including the Growth of Athenian Power, the 30 Year Peace Treaty and the selfish attitudes of city states all gave weight to the eventuality of war. Other short term events took place such as the civil war at Epidamnus, The Battle of Sybota, the Potidaean Revolt and the Megarian Decree, causing triggers to ignite this great war. For many years in the Greek world, prior to the outbreak of war, the growth of Athenian power had been increasing.
One of the most powerful empires of the day, the Persian Empire threatened the Greeks in 499 BC. The Persian Empire ruled by Darius, at that time stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indus River Valley. Greatly outnumbering the Greeks, the Persians should have easily conquered them. The Greeks were able to defeat the Persians because they united for a sole purpose. This unification provided the strength they needed to win decisive military and naval sea battles.
The Peloponnesian War pitted the Athenians against the Spartans. The Peloponnesians’ were an alliance of city-states controlled by Sparta. These two powerful city-states became locked in a struggle for dominance of the eastern Mediterranean area. The roots of the conflict and in particular this expedition is highly complex. As Thucydides says in his history of the war, the underlying cause was Spartan fear of Athens' expansive power.
However, once this common enemy was defeated, Sparta and Athens began to become great rivals vying for control of Greece. This resulted in the First and Second Peloponnesian Wars, which saw the rise and fall of the Athenian Empire. Sparta eventually rose to be the victor with the assistance of their former enemy Persia, but the era city-states would not live on for very much longer. The Peloponnesian Wars should be studied, because it details the rise and fall of one of the greatest city-states in Greek history.
On one hand the Athenian’s unique style of government allowed a larger inclusion of people into the Polis through state pay for service. This inclusiveness gave the people of Athens a patriotic fervor that simply was not present on the same scale in other Greek Poleis. On the other hand, the main weakness of the Athenian Assembly was its unpredictability. The Demos was easily convinced into brash decisions by demagogues that cost the Delian League dearly in the long run. This unpredictability led to the League’s campaign into Egypt, where League forces sustained massive loses.
The roots of the peloponessian war can be traced back to many specific instances but on the most part three main elements caused its rise; Sparta’s anger at Athenian aid to Spartan enemies, Spartan fear of Athenian power, and the hostility and mistrust caused by the radical differences between the two societies. The peloponnesian war was inevitable.
This war would negatively affect Greece's world power, and it would pave the way for an invasion by Macedonia later in history. The Peloponnesian War would become a major part in the history of Classical Greece, and it would forever change the lives of the Greek people. The animosity between the great city-states of Athens and Sparta was not always present. In fact, the two powers were practically allies during the early 5th century B.C. During the Persian Wars, which started in 490 B.C., Athens and Sparta resisted invasion by Persia.