The Peloponnesian War

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31 Jan 2013

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Oct, 10, 2012
The Peloponnesian War
-In 480-479 BC the Greeks had fought off the Persians and the resulting fear of the Persians resulted in
Panhellenism which was the union of the city states
-The states did not band together and form a nation and as the fear receded so did the strength of the union and
thus Panhellenism failed
The Rivalry of Athens and Sparta:
-The best example of a rivalry between city states is Athens and Sparta and this culminated in the Peloponnesian
war from 431-414 BC
-In the years between the wars Sparta grew jealous of Athens recovery and the fact that they had formed the
Confederacy of Delos (Delian League)
-Athens was the leader of the league by 440 BC and in the end it was like they were ruling the other city states and
thus they gained huge control over the Aegean
-Sparta was suspicious since the end of the Persian war and they tried to get Athens not to build defence walls
because they saw it as threatening but instead Athens did that and strengthened their ports
-Thucydides gave background on the Peloponnesian war and he says Athenian power started the war and he said
they were encroaching on Sparta’s allies
-Corinth was a Spartan ally and Athens encouraged their colonies to rebel against the mother country
-Athens too had ideas of westward expansion and they were getting annoyed with the Peloponnesian League
The Nature of Spartan Society:
-For most of the Classical Period they were the most feared city state in Greece and no one dared oppose them
-Their whole society was run by the state and the soldiers were fed by state farms that were worked by helots
-At seven they were taken from their mothers and trained until the age of 19 and bravery was the greatest virtue
-In the 9th-8th century BC they had conquered most of their neighbours and had made them into helots but this
was a problem because they outnumbered the Spartans and there was fear of revolt
-Occasionally the Spartans armed the helots and use them in war but they could not trust them so this was rare
-Some other areas were freer but were still under Spartan rule and they had to come and fight when they were
called (Corinth was like this)
-Sparta consulted with its allies a lot and this was very different than Athens and how they ran the Delian League
-The Spartans had money problems because they did not have the mines like in Athens so they couldn’t do as
much expansion and they also did not accept tribute in tax form and instead took it in man power so there was a
need for outside funding
-The Spartans said they were liberating Greece from Athens’ control and they tried to persuade neutral city states
to their side
-They knew their strength was their hoplite army so they went overland to do battle and they staged invasions but
they did want to starve them out until they had to come face to face in hoplite warfare
1st Peloponnesian War - 460-446 BC:
-The Spartans led yearly attacks on Athens to destroy crops, etc
-Themistocles and Perecles were the Greek leaders at this time and they wanted to get the herds and all people
inside the city walls
-The walls also safe guarded the sea born supplies like corn which were necessary for their survival and the navy
-Over crowding behind the city walls led to a plague and there were many deaths and their leader Perecles died
Athens and Naval Warfare:
-Athens had strong economic and imperial ideals and after the Persian wars the Delian League maintained their
fleet and supported restoration work
-Triremes were the most common ships and they were very narrow with a bronze ram and it was rowed by
hundreds of men
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