The Spartan army, blocked from escaping by sea, marched to Boeotia, the region in which Thebes is located, and they managed to secure an alliance from Thebes. Instead, the empire was relegated to the islands throughout the Aegean. This distracted Athens from the Spartan threat and Sparta tried to invade Attica during this time. London: Macmillan, 1956. As a result, they were forced to stop their pursuit of the Spartans, a move which helped cool off the conflict between Athens and Sparta for some time. Feetham, Richard, ed. This event didn’t have much significance in the Peloponnesian War if we understand the conflict simply as a fight between Athens and Sparta. However, they failed, and it had become clear to both sides the war was going nowhere. Furthermore, the Peace of Nicias treaty stated that each side needed to impose the terms on its allies so as to prevent conflicts that could restart fighting between Athens and Sparta. While the main conflict fought between Athens and Sparta is known as The Peloponnesian War, this was not the first time these two city-states fought. The Spartans helped the Dorians secure a victory, but Athenian ships blocked the Spartans from leaving, a move which angered the Spartans greatly. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. One of the few major cities located on the Peloponnese that was not part of the Peloponnesian League, Argos had a long-standing rivalry with Sparta, but during The Interlude they had been subjected to a non-aggression pact with Sparta. This changed, ironically, after the two sides actually came together to fight as part of a pan-Greek alliance against the Persians. Athens and Sparta were both Greek city-states that…. This initial chapter lasted for ten years, and its events help show just how difficult it was for either side to gain an advantage of the other. In Athens, politicians would claim the Spartans had refused to arbitrate, which would have positioned Sparta as the aggressor and made the war more popular. In response, Athens and Sparta, along with several other powerful city-states, such as Corinth, Argos, and Arcadia, formed an alliance to fight against the invading Persians, and this joint force was eventually able to stop the Persians at the Battle of Salamis (480 BCE) and the Battle of Plataea (479 BCE). This strategy ended up backfiring slightly as a plague broke out in Athens in 430 BCE that devastated the city. This move was largely symbolic, but it showed Spartan defiance to Athens’ attempt to be the premier power in the Greek world. The attempted invasion of Sicily was a complete disaster for Athens. This attempt on Athens caused Athens and Thebes to team up against Sparta. Although they shared a common ancestry, ethnic differences, as well as economic interests, and an obsession with heroes and glory, meant that war was a common and welcomed occurrence in the ancient Greek world. They followed the Spartans into this narrow stretch of water, and then the Spartans turned around and attacked, routing the fleet and capturing thousands of soldiers. When Alcibiades learned of this, he abandoned his army and retreated into exile in Thrace until he was found and killed in 403 BCE. To take advantage of this, Sparta began sending envoys to these cities encouraging them to rebel against Athens, which many of them did. As mentioned, the Archidamian war officially broke out after the Plataea sneak attack in 431 BCE, and the city remained under siege by the Spartans. View all posts by JMcFarland. This near breakdown in cooperation took place when Samos, a powerful ally of Athens at the time, chose to revolt against the Delian League. Vol. Sparta also had the most fertile soils in the Pelopponese. Furthermore, during this battle, the Athenians managed to capture 420 Spartan soldiers, largely because the Spartans got trapped on an island just outside Pylos’ harbor. Peloponnesian Wars Analysis. Although The Peloponnesian War was technically fought between 431 and 404 BCE, the two sides did not fight constantly, and the war broke out as a result of conflicts that had been brewing for a better part of the 5th century BCE. Once this happened, Athens feared the Spartans would make a move against them, so they began reaching out to other Greek city-states to secure alliances in the event there was an outbreak of fighting. This next period of the Peloponnesian War, which took place between 421 BCE and 413 BCE, is often referred to at The Interlude. Emboldened by their role as the leader of the Delian alliance, the Athenian assembly was keen to find ways to expand its sphere of influence, and Melos, a tiny island state in the southern Aegean, was a perfect target, and it’s likely the Athenians saw its resistance from their control as stain on their reputation. However, Corinth, one of the few city-states in the Peloponnesian League that could stand up to Sparta’s power, was adamantly opposed to this move, and so the notion of war was tabled for some time. Great for trade - bad for protection. What Are the Strengths and Weaknesses of Athenian Democracy? Sparta also made a declaration that Delphi, the city that housed the famous Greek oracle, was to be independent from Phocis, one of Athens’ allies. This philosophy, which was present in Athens before the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War, was now running rampant, and it helped provide justification for the Athenian expedition into Sicily, which played an important role in restarting the conflict between Athens and Sparta and also perhaps dooming Athens to defeat. Aris & Phillips, 1993. Kagan, Donald, and Bill Wallace. Part of the reason Thucydides’ historical account of the Peloponnesian war is so significant is that it was one of the first times a historian put effort into determining both the short-and long-term causes of war. The Peloponnesian War was fought over land and sea. Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. But before going into all the details, here are the main points to remember: The Peloponnesian War was fought mainly between Athens and Sparta. Athens’ new offensive strategy was to attack Sparta at its weakest point: its dependence on helots. Although they had been enemies for years, Sparta recognized the contributions Athens had made to Greek culture and did not want to see it destroyed. They reminded everyone of how the Athenians were the principle reason the Greeks managed to stop the great Persian armies of Xerxes, a claim that is debatable at best but essentially just false. In 411 BCE, the Athenian democracy fell to a group of oligarchs known as The Four Hundred. Whenever all of the men would meet once a month they would present issues and vote on what to do to resolve these issues. Almost the entire contingency sent to invade the city was destroyed, and several of the main commanders of the Athenian military died while trying to retreat, leaving Athens in a rather weak position, one that the Spartan would be all too keen to exploit. As a result, the Peloponnesian war featured many battles where one side was forced to fight to the other side’s strengths. The First Peloponnesian war has its roots in the mid-460s BCE, a period when Athens was still fighting the Persians. Disagreements about how to proceed in the fight against Persia broke out, with Athens and Sparta having different opinions about what to do. This, plus the Spartan decision to not require soldiers to return home each year for the harvest, allowed the Spartans to keep the pressure on Athens as it ran campaigns throughout its territories.

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