The Peloponnesian War, 431404 B.C.E - Essay Example

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It was the origin of the battles in struggle for dominance in Greece and occurred from 431 to 404 BC. It was a war in ancient Greek which pitted the Athens’ empire and the Peloponnesian side led by…
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The Peloponnesian War, 431404 B.C.E
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THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR, 431–404 B.C.E Peloponnesian war was the conflict that resulted to the collapse of Polis. It was the origin of the battles in struggle for dominance in Greece and occurred from 431 to 404 BC. It was a war in ancient Greek which pitted the Athens’ empire and the Peloponnesian side led by Sparta. Athens wanted to assume full control of trade with the southern side of Italy and Sicily. They retaliated and eventually Corinth helped Potidaea in revolted against Athens. This led to them turning to Sparta who was their ally for help. Athens and Sparta formed two major and one of the strongest powers in Greece and thus had a very large empire under their control.1
Athens feared for war with Corinth and Sparta and hence it tightened its Potidaea colony by ordering then to bring down their city walls. Against Athens wish, Potidaea rebelled and refused to obey the Athens. Corinthians on the other hand feared the long term growth and strength of the Athens power and were anxious to contain it. They resulted to sending help to Potidaea eventually violating a 30 year old truce of never to help groups considered enemies to the Athens.2
Sparta’s decision to go into war came after they noted a rise in Athenian power and feared that if left to be too strong they might destroy Sparta. Corinth played a role by creating a false allegation on Athens that they were breaking the 30 years truce they had signed. Consequently, Sparta found every reason of war with Athens but missed their main worry of rise in Athenian power.
The Peloponnesian war was divided into phases by historians. First, was the Archidamian war; a phase that included the Sparta invading the Attica. Athens on the other side, due to their naval supremacy raided the coast of Peloponnese which resulted to unrest in its empire. The first phase was marked with signing of the treaty known as Peace of Nicias though the treaty never stayed in place for long.3 Athens undermined it and renewed the fighting in Peloponnese and went ahead to use extreme force against Syracuse though it failed immediately. Decelean was the final phase of war and at this level Sparta got support from Persia and hence supported Athens’ rebellions leading to the undermining of the Athens Empire resulting to extinction of Athens supremacy. The end result saw Athens bow down in the year to follow.4
Peloponnesian war had its effects to the fighters and Greece in general. The war resulted to the reshaping of the ancient Greek. In terms of international relationship, Athens which was up to then the strongest city before the war began, was reduced to a just normal state. Consequently, it never regained the prosperity that it had before war. On the other hand, Sparta became the leading and established power of Greece. Additionally, they acquired much of land before they were overthrown by Thebes and its allies.
The war also had economic effects which were felt allover Greece. There was widespread of poverty in Peloponnese as Athens lost its empire leading to loss of revenue that supported its army. After the war, weakened Greek communities were left exposed.5 The defeat of Athens was accelerated by Persia intervention and thus led to more exposure of Greek cities. This gave Philip II of Macedonia the chance to expand his dominance and determination to destroy the Persian Empire.
Bagnall, Nigel. The Peloponnesian war: Athens Sparta and struggle for Greece. New York: St. Martins Press, 2006.
Hanson, Victor D. A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War. New York, NY: Random House Publishing Group, 2005. Read More
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