The Peloponnesian War

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For over 30 years, two of the world's greatest military forces of their time battled over supremacy of Greece. The elite navy of Athens and the powerful armies of Sparta and her allies dueled in an epic battle to determine the direction in which Greece was heading. Through the stories of Thuycides, we have the world's first eye witness account of a war from a great historian who lived through it. From this account we can analyze the war which can be interpreted as the first battle against imperialism. Through my analysis of this war, I plan to determine how Greece benefited as a whole.

In the wake of the Persian attempt to conquer the Greek city-states and valuable coastline, Athens emerged as the powerhouse in defending Greece. Along with the help of her allies, Athens successfully stopped Persia from conquering Greece, but the Persian armies still lingered around the north. The Athenian forces took strides to rally all the city-states to completely rid Greece of Persian threat, but the cities were torn between continuing the fight and letting the problem lay to rest. In 477, Athens formed the Delian League whose goal was push Persia out for good. The second most powerful city-state, Sparta, did not see Persia as a threat and refused to join the League. The allies of Sparta followed their friend and the country became torn into two halves.

As time passed, Athens grew stronger and the League became a machine for expansion of Athenian imperialism. Athens demanded high taxes and tributaries from the other member of the League. They started to bully their allies into doing what was good for Athens and not for the League. In 470, after the League thought their job was done and Persia was out of Greece, the city-st...

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... of Alexander the Great and maybe even the Roman Empire. On the other hand, there is the argument that Greece was never meant to be unified. What made Ancient Greece so special was the institution of the city-state system. The right for each city to govern itself. For each state to be able to enjoy their own personal freedom the way they wanted to. Ancient Greece might have been better off in the long run as a unified country, but I think it is safe to say that they did fine divided.


Eleazer, Louis. Thucydides and the World War. New York: Russell and Russell, 1967.

Kagen, Donald. The Peloponnesian War. New York: Viking, 2003.

Thucydides. The Peloponnesian War. Translated by Ricahrd Crawley. New York: Modern Library, 1982.

The Peloponnesian War. (November 23, 2005).
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