The Delian League (Athens)
The Delian League was an empire that included most of the island and coastal states around the northern and eastern shores of the Aegean Sea. As a result of this, Athens had a strong navy. Athens was also financially prepared for war, owning a large fund they had amassed from the regular tribute paid to them from their empire.
The Peloponnesial League (Sparta)
Sparta was leader of an alliance of independent states that included most of the major land powers of the Peloponnese and central Greece, as well as the sea power Corinth. The Spartans had a stronger army than Athens. The league was organized with Sparta as the leader. It was controlled by the council of allies which was composed of two bodies; the assembly of Spartians and the Congress of Allies. Each allied state had on vote, regardless of its size or power. No tribute was paid except in times of war, when one third of the military of a state could be requested. Only Sparta could call a congress of the League. Although each state had one vote, Sparta did not have to abide by any decisions the League might have come to on its own.
The first war (460 BC - c. 445 BC)
Athens took over leadership of Greece in 487BC with the Delian League.With Sparta caught up in internal problems in the Peloponnese, and the war with the helots further stretching them, Athenian democracy was continuing to move up.
The rocky relationship between the two became irreperable when Sparta asked Athens for aid against the helots. When the large Athenian army arrived, Sparta had a change of heart, and dismissed the force, fearing that the Athenians would side with the helots against them. Insulted, Athens broke off relations with Sparta, striking an alliance with A...
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...aders and a demoralized navy, Athen's naval supremacy would now be challenged.
The new Spartan general was an artful diplomat, with a strong personal relationship with the Persian prince Cyrus. Using this to its advantage, Sparta sailed to the Hellespont, the main source of Athens' grain. Forced to follow under threat of starvation, Athens were defeated in 405BC.
Facing starvation and disease, Athens surrendered in 404BC, along with its allies. Corinth and Thebes demanded that Athens be destroyed and all its citizens enslaved, hovever Sparta decided to take Athens into its own system.
For a short period of time, Athens was ruled by the 'Thirty Tyrants' and democracy was suspended but was restored by Thrasybulus 403 BC. Although the power of Athens was deminished, it made something of a recovery and continued to play an active role in Greek politics.