Peloponnesian Warby Rit Nosotro
Change Over Time essay
This essay will explore the causes, events, and final effects of the thirteen-year Peloponnesian war (431 B.C. - 404 B.C.) between Athens and her allies versus Sparta and her allies.
The main cause of the war was the radically different worldviews between Athens and Sparta. During the thirty-year truce prior to the Peloponnesian War, Athens' supremacy over the sea lead to immense wealth through trade with an increasing number of allies. Corinth, one of Sparta's allies, was a trade rival of Athens. Corinth had colonized Corcyra who, in turn, colonized Epidamus. In 435 B.C., the political factions in Epidamus were disputing so severely, that Epidamus asked for military assistance from Corcyra. As Corcyra did not respond, Epidamus asked Corinth for help, and Corinth sent some troops. Irritated by Corinth's interference, Corcyra, which had an excellent navy, attacked and defeated the Corinthian fleet. After this battle, trade dependant Corinth went to work on another fleet which prompted Corcyra to look for a city-state to ally with. It turned to Sparta's bitter enemy, Athens. The Corinthian delegates passionately protested against this but Athens accepted the proposal of a defensive alliance with Corcyra. This alliance put the Thirty-year Truce in jeopardy.
The first actual blow to the truce came in 433 B.C., when, after two years of rebuilding, the Corinthian fleet went to battle against the Corcyra fleet at Sybota. At the climax of the battle, the Corinthian fleet was on the verge of winning a great victory when Athens's galleys intervened and destroyed any chance of the destruction of the Corcyra fleet. This intervention was the first breach of the Thirty year Truce. The second breach came when the king of Macedon started to sow seeds of discontent among the Athenian allies and, to the extent, that the allies came to the verge of revolt and one of them was a city by the name of Potidea. Potidea (a Corinthian colony) was ordered by Athens to drive out the Corinthian magistrates and burn the city to the ground. This was ordered because Athens did not want any more trouble from its allies. Thus, the second blow to the truce was struck.
The first blood that was drawn in this war, surprisingly, was not in Athens or Sparta but was in Plataea. At night 300 Thebans were treacherously let into Plateae in an attempt to "free" Plataea from Athens. The Plataeans were satisfied with their freedom under Athenian rule and, when the small number of their enemies was discovered, drove out the Thebans. As soon as this was over, Plataea was besieged by a combined force of Sparta and Thebes.
In 431 B.C. when the corn was ripe, King Archidamus with a large Peloponnesian army invaded Attica, in an effort to destroy the Athenian countryside. This he did, causing the country people to flee to the city of Athens. This huge influx of citizens caused an overflow of population and this, in turn, caused a plaque that killed 80,000 Athenians. King Archidamus continued to ravage and pillage the country around Athens. Meanwhile, Athens continued to operate by the sea and attacked Methone with success. In Thrace, Potidea capitulated to Athens, the citizens were driven out, and Athens soon colonized the area. During this time, the Athenians, discouraged by the plague, deposed Pericles, their great leader. To compound the punishment Pericles was fined but in the end the Athenians reelected him, as he was judged to be the best leader. In 429 B.C., Plataea was besieged by King Archidamus and was asked to surrender. Plataea refused to since it was relying on the promises of help from Athens. Athens did not send help. So Archidamus continued to besiege it while Plataea fought fervently back and inflicted severe losses to the armies of Archidamus. Archidamus now realized he would have to blockade Plataea. He built a huge earthen wall around Plataea but this was to no avail as the citizens of Plataea were able to escape through the blockade and made an effort to run to Athens. Only the strongest made it and the Spartans captured many of the physically weaker citizens.
In 427 B.C. Athens countered with an attack on Nisea. Athens, first, built a base at Minoa and used it to enter Nisea. The Athenian army eventually took the city by a blockade and was allowed in at night by conspirators. This was a huge success as Athens had lost Nisea in the Thirty-year Truce with Sparta.
Sparta, however engineered an attack by assigning Brasidas, a Spartan general with daring and decisiveness not usually associated with generalship, to invade Thrace. He possessed oratorical ability, he was just and tolerant, and he had a popularity that made strangers like him. Brasidas was able to convince many Athenian allies to submit to him. He captured Amphipolis by attacking it unprepared and he also took Torone, one of the strongest cities in Thrace. He used a subtle plan by taking seven soldiers to kill the sentinels and let the troops into Torone.
This successful campaign in Thrace caused the Athenians to despair. Swayed by a peace party, Athens sued for peace. A truce was readily agreed to, but just as the war was about to end, a revolt broke out in Scione and they invited Brasidas in and crowned him. This caused Athens to send troops to blockade it, which started even more fighting. Eventually, at the battle of Amphipolis, in March of 422 B.C., the two Athenian generals, Cleon and Nicias (leader of the Athenian peace party) fought Brasidas. Brasidas and Cleon were killed. Brasidas's death removed the main obstacle for peace. In the end Athens was at the mercy of Sparta and this resulted in peace.
With Athens weakened, Sparta had complete supremacy over Greece, particularly after making an alliance with the Persian Empire. Sparta demanded that Athens tear down its walls and surrender all its warships except twelve which were to provide military support for Sparta's battles. However, the revolution in Greece had not finished.
Once Sparta had conquered Athens, Sparta was very tolerant by letting Athens stay as a city rather than totally tearing it down. Sparta, instead, implemented its own weak government which basically consisted of thirty tyrants administrating the city any way they pleased. The government was so bloodthirsty that after less than a year of this tyranny, Athens revolted and drove the tyrants out. After this Athenian revolution, Athens was extremely weak, so Sparta decided to let Athens have its democracy back.
As was mentioned previously, Sparta had a strong military but an inadequate government. Their generals were easily corrupted by wealth and started ruling the new empire with governments based on a military mindset. Through this, Sparta squandered the potential wealth and power that came with ruling an empire because of its lack of solid administration. The end result came when the rest of Greece revolted.
This caused the Greek economy to take a plunge as Greece fought Sparta. This continuing warfare resulted in a major decline in living conditions. This tyrannical government had so severely affected Greece, that more Athenian citizens died during the eight-month rule of the tyrannical Spartan government than in the Peloponnesians (Sparta and her allies) slew in ten years of war.
Unlike the Athenian worldview, Sparta's worldview did not value human life, freedom, and dignity. Applicable to Sparta, Jesus said, "all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword." (Matthew 26:51-52). Athens too was destroyed by violating Biblical principles. By elavating human dignity above the Creator, Athens was given over to vanity of pride that "goes before destruction" (Proverbs 16:18).
As Sparta's warrior-citizens were defending new territory, Sparta itself became populated mainly with Helots (slaves) and few Spartans. Having had enough of tyranny, Thebes and Corinth joined together and defeated the "invincible" Sparta. This surprising victory encouraged Persia to take advantage of Sparta's weakened army.
As soon as Sparta was defeated, there was a leadership vacuum in Greece that
brought on years of revolutions. These many wars caused Greece to become very
weak until the King Phillip of Macedon conquered Greece.
Sparta's victory in the Peloponnesian war marked the beginning of the end of the Athenian empire and the start of the short Spartan supremacy throughout the whole of Greece.
QuickQuiz: Works Cited:
1) Bury, J.B. A History of Greece. Random House Inc., 1913, New York.
2) Robinson, Cyril E., A History of Greece., Methuen & Co. Ltd. 1929, Great Britain
3) Hammond, N. G. L. A History of Greece to 322 B.C., Oxford University Press., 1959, Great Britain.
4) Hooker, J. T., The Ancient Spartans., Billings & Sons Ltd, 1980, Great Britain, London
5) Kagan, Donald., Problems in Ancient History Volume 1: The Ancient Near East and Greece ., 1966, Macmillan Company, New York
Additional information about <http://hyperhistory.net/apwh/essays/cot/t2w04peloponnesian.htm>
Map Graph Focus on Facts Biography
The above essay was donated to hyperhistory.net.
of inaccuracies or plagiarism.
Post a link to this essay,
a great essay
on your blog or website :
|Comparative Essays||Biographies||Doc. Based Questions||Change Over Time|