The Peloponnesian War: The Great War of the Ancient Greek World

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It is one of the most studied wars in history. The Peloponnesian War ravaged Greece for over 30 years during the 5th century B.C., and had a permanent effect on the Greek world. Athens and Sparta, two major city-states, fought each other relentlessly for control of the Mediterranean. The once great empire of Athens would ultimately be defeated, and its counterpart Sparta would be weakened severely as well. 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. Greek-speaking cities which belonged to the Persian Empire along the western coast of modern-day Turkey were in revolt, and the Athenians were aiding these revolts. As a result, the Persian king Darius the Great launched an invasion on Greece itself. This invasion culminated at the Battle of Marathon, which occurred that same year. Although outnumbered, Athens would defeat the Persian army at this battle. Persia withdrew, and would not invade Greece again for a decade. Until Xerxes, the next Persian king, would come in to power.
Xerxes came into power at around 486 B.C., and intended to continue Persia's revenge against the Greek people. "This time they were determined to use overwhelming force so in 481 B.C., Xerxes gathered together an army of several hundred thousand infantry and a navy of ...

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Eventually, Athenian-Spartan relations would reach the breaking point. A conflict known by many as the First Peloponnesian War started in 460 B.C, and lasted until 446 B.C. This was a relatively mild struggle that occurred between the city states of Athens and Corinth for the most part. Occasionally Sparta would get involved in the fighting with Athens, but 446 B.C. a peace agreement had been signed. Commonly known as the “Thirty Year’s Peace”. However, this peace would not last for thirty years. During the period after this war Athens began to build up its power at home. A large construction project by the Athenians built what is called the “Long Walls”. These walls protected and linked Athens to its port at Peiraieus, and it allowed the Athenians to withstand any siege. This would be the key to Athenian strategy when the Spartans would attack them years later.
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