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Peloponnesian War

 Related Terms

• Athens
Persian Wars


Definition: War chiefly between Athens and Sparta, caused by growing distrust and jealousy between the two large city-states. In the aftermath of the Persian Wars, Athens reigned supreme with its fleet and its dominance of the Delian League, made up of colonies across the Aegean Sea in Asia Minor. The use of Delian League funds to build temples and other buildings in Athens created mistrust of Athens within the League and within the Greek world as a whole. And when Athens interfered in colonial revolts far to the west, Sparta and its League (the Spartan League) took action. The Spartan fleet was no match for the Athenian fleet, but the Spartan army was more than a match for the Athenian army. A plague in Athens in the middle of the war didn't help matters, either. Sparta even captured Athens itself. Sparta, however, had achieved its aim and left Athens standing. The war lasted from to 431 to 404. By that time, both sides were exhausted. It was clear that Athens had lost. However, Sparta was by this time so weak that the true strong city-state after this war was Thebes, which had been ally of Sparta.

Related Resources:
The Peloponnesian War
The Peloponnesian War was a decades-long struggle for supremacy between primarily Athens and Sparta, the two major powers of Ancient Greece. In the end, the whole of Greece got involved.

Thucydides: Famed Greek Historian
Thucydides is one of the most well-known names from ancient history, entirely because of his famous work History of the Peloponnesian War. He is considered one of the first historians, and some have termed him the father of "scientific history," based on his preference for practice of reporting facts and figures based on eyewitness accounts.

Ancient Greece
Learn more about the area as a whole.

Elsewhere on the Web:
Essays on the Peloponnesian War
These short essays cover the entire war, from causes to consequences.

Thucydides's History of the War
Read the story of the war in the words of the Greek historian who lived it.

Peloponnesian War Timeline
Match events with dates in this informative timeline.

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