What was the Peloponnesian War?

The Peloponnesian War was an armed conflict fought between the Greek city-states of Athens and Sparta, during the years of 431 BC to 404 BC. The war ended with a Spartan victory, ending the golden age of Ancient Greece.

Before the War

After the end of the Persian War, Athens and Sparta had agreed upon a 30 year peace treaty. This was because they did not wish to fight each other as they were trying to recover from the Persian War. During this 30 year period of peace, Athens became powerful and wealthy. The Athenian empire grew under their leader, Pericles.

The Spartans began to grow jealous of their great counterparts, after seeing all the power and wealth that they had gained. Eventually the Spartans’ jealousy turned into distrust, which started the first Pelopennesian War in 431 BC, when Sparta and Athens were on the opposing sides in a conflict of the Greek city of Corinth.

The First War

The first war lasted for 10 years. During this time period, the Spartans were superior on land and the Athenians were superior on sea. The Athenians built long walls which ran from the city all the way to the Athenian seaport, Piraeus. These walls enabled the Athenians to stay inside Athens and to still have access to trade and supplies from their ships.

During the first war the Spartans could never breach the walls of Athens, however many Athenians inside Athens died due to plague, including the great leader of Athens, Pericles. In 421 BC, after 10 years of war, Athens and Sparta agreed to a treaty, which was called the Peace of Nicias, named after the general of the Athenian army.

The Second War

Despite the signing of a treaty, the Spartans were still eager to conquer Athens. The Spartans began to gather allies (as well as the Persians,who helped them to build their fleet of warships). During 410 and 406 BC, the Athenians were able to win many battles against the Spartans. In 405 BC, the Spartans finally defeated the Athenian fleet in battle, under the leadership of the Spartan general Lysander. After the defeat of the Athenian fleet, the people of Athens began to starve and there was no Athenian army to take on the Spartans on land. In 404 BC the city of Athens surrendered to the Spartans

Aftermath

After the Athenian surrender, the city-states of Corinth and Thebes wanted the city of Athens to be burned down and the people to be enslaved. However, Sparta disagreed. The Spartans only tore down the city’s walls.

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