The Peloponnesian War | Athens vs Sparta –

The Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC) It was a military conflict in Ancient Greece that pitted the Delian League (led by Athens) against the Peloponnesian League (led by Sparta). The war unfolded in three areas. Hellas, Magna Graecia and the coast of Asia Minor and in three phases, the Archidamic War, the Sicilian War and that of Decelia or Ionia. The Peloponnesian War brought about great changes in the map of Ancient Greece, international level athens was reduced to a state of submission, while Sparta rose as the greatest power in Greece. Economically, the war was felt throughout Greece plunging it into a state of poverty that spread throughout the Peloponnese. Athens found herself completely devastated and could never regain her former prosperity and splendor.

The Peloponnesian War | Origin and Causes

The direct cause was the confrontation between the Athenians and the Corinthians over the island of Corcyra (present-day Corfu). But deep down the real cause was the clash between the growing power of Athens and the old Spartan hegemony. The Peloponnesian War is the best known event in the history of Athens.

This long conflict that lasted a generation, approximately 30 years, took place in three scenarios Hellas, Magna Graecia and the coast of Asia Minor and in three phases, the Archidamic War, the Sicilian War and that of Decelia or Ionia.

  • Athens justified the existence of the Delos Confederation, as a dissuasive form against the Persian neighbor despite having already passed the Asian danger.
  • Sparta did not seem to be directly harmed by the rise of Athens or the Delian League, but some of its allied cities were.
  • The excessive supply of the allied cities, especially the athenian trade, force to put obstacles to the trade of Corinth and Megara. The only way that Athens had was the direct or indirect blockade of these competing cities so close to her.

The Peloponnesian War | Situation of Sparta and Athens

The Spartan government had reason to fear war with Athens, since internal rebellions could very easily be unleashed. If they gave weapons to the helots and periecosthese would be considered equal to their dominators something clearly impossible since they were considered the lowest social class, They were public slaves.
Sparta was not interested in an offensive waralthough this was not the case in some states of the Peloponnese. Maroonmember of the Peloponnesian League, differed from Sparta in almost every way but it had what it lacked, a good fleet and money. In addition, it occupied a very favorable strategic situation, It was the link between Northern Greece and the Peloponnese, it commanded three major trade routes, two by sea and one by land, and its commercial and military fleet was the most powerful in Greece until the Persian Wars.

Corinth was the heart of the world at this time, it was the luxury and splendor of their way of lifewonderful artisans who exported their products in a booming and flourishing trade, but Corinth was above all rival of Athens in the sea and the reason for that rivalry it was Sicily. The Corinthians wanted the traffic monopoly in the Ionian Sea, leaving only the Athenians the Aegean Sea and the Black Sea.

The Peloponnesian War | Chronology

The Peloponnesian War is understood as the warlike conflicts that took place in the Greek world between the years 431-404 BC, which are divided in order to better understand such a long period, in various phases after the preliminaries of the year 432 BC:

  • Archidamus War: 431-421 BC period that ends with the Peace of Nicias, restoring the status quo.
  • Sicilian war or expedition to Sicily: 415-413 BC
  • War of Decelia or Ionia: 413-404 BC, it ends with the siege and capitulation of Athens and the rule of the Four Hundred.

The Peloponnesian War – Chronology | Archidamus War

The phases of the call Archidamic War they were two:

  • During the rule of Pericles (April, 431-September 429 BC)
  • The plague and the successors of Pericles (Spring: 429-421). It ended with the Peace of Nicias (421 BC).


The war was triggered unexpectedly to the drunkswho apparently did not belong to either side, but they were on the side of the Spartans and above all, of the Corinthians.

  • Beodos (Thebes): In favor of Spartans and Corinthians and enemies of Athens. They attacked the city of Plataea (April 431 BC) allied with Athens.
  • The Athenians sent reinforcements to Plataea. Pericles He was appointed Strategist Autocrator (general in chief), He evacuated all the population that was not necessary from Athens, before a possible Spartan offensive, his supply was assured and an allied army was prepared.
  • By sea, Athens He sent his fleet to the coasts of Elis, Acarnania and Messenia and the Argolis and achieving the victory of Sphacteria, in front of Pylos. This first period of the war was positive for Athens.
  • Ended the plague of Athenscaused above all by the overcrowding of the refugees who had had to leave in Attica and filled the city. Pericles died in this epidemic. and also reached other places of Greecelike Potidaea and despite Phormio’s successes at Patras and Naupactus, Athens lost part of its military power.


Athenian defeats at Delion: Peace of Nicias. After Pericles died, they formed two opposing groups represented by Nicias, representative of the Aristoi, excessively conservative and Cleon, a rich tanner, in favor of keeping the war waiting for the final victory.

The uprising of the cities of the island of Lesbos (428 BC), provoked by the oligarchs of Mytilene, followed by the other cities of the island except Methymna, who notified Athens, who blocked the island and finally reduced it (427 BC).

After the civil war in Corcyra (427 BC) the occupation of Pylos, with notable triumphs of Nicias in Cythera and Tirea. However, in Cinuria, the Athenian army was defeated at Delionsuffering significant losses. Athens found at this time a tough opponent in the Spartan Brasidas, who took Acanthus, Stagira, Amphipolis, Before whose walls died Brasidas himself and Cleon, who had come to the aid of the city, in the summer of 422 BC After these events, the moderates prevailed and the Peace of Nicias (421 BC) was signed, ending a decade of fighting.

The Peloponnesian War – Chronology | The Sicilian Expedition

After the Congress of Cela, peace was agreed in Sicilybut there was great agitation among its cities for fear of the primacy achieved by Syracuse.

The direction of the expedition was entrusted to three Strategists with extraordinary powers, Alcibiades, Nicias and Lamachusmaking a great human and economic effort to provide the fleet with the Athenian contingent and with the reinforcements of the allies with whom they would join in Corcyra, but it happened some events described as sacrileges that moved the Athenians, the mutilation of the Hermes and the parodies of the Mysteries of Eleusis, attributed to Alcibiades and his friends.

The differences in the strategic plan to be followed between the three generals, together with the order to Alcibiades to return to Athens, accused of sacrilege for the mutilation of the Hermes, hindered and delayed allied military maneuvers and caused the flight of Alcibiades, who took refuge in Sparta, under the protection of King Agis.

In the year 414 BC, the Athenians took the plateau of the Epipolas and much of the bay of Syracuse, blocking the entrance to its Grand Harbor.

The Spartans, advised by Alcibiades, sent the Strategist Gilipo to help Syracuse, freeing it from the blockade. The arrival of the Corinthian aid alarmed the Athenian Strategists, who asked for reinforcements from Athens, triggering the war again. On the advice of Alcibiades, Agis of Sparta began the invasion of Attica, taking Decelia, which they fortified, thus cutting off Attica by land and leading to the second part of the Decelia War.

The situation in Athens It then became very conflictive because they had to maintain two fronts, one in their own territory and the other in Sicily. The Athenian army was overtaken and annihilated, his Strategists, Nicias and Demosthenes, executed, his fleet destroyed and his warriors killed. The few survivors ended their days as slaves in the Syracusan quarries.

The Peloponnesian War – Chronology | The Ionian War

Sparta assumed the leadership lost by the Athenians, and he made a pact with Persia, who financed his enterprises and incited the Ionian cities to rebellion. The main Persian characters of this stage were Darius II (424-405 BC) and the satraps Tissaphernes and Famabazus. In politics Greek Alcibiades reappeared.

popular discontent against the politicians of the radical democracy and the suspicion of the comfortable classes led to a political crisis that would end with the repeal of the democratic system. Thesesituation of instability was aggravated by the uprising of the fleet established in Samoswho did not accept this transformation of the political regime, dismissing the oligarchs and Choosing Strategus to Alcibiades. The phases of the Ionian War are as follows:

  • The Fight at the Hellespont: Athenian victories. Petition for peace by Sparta.
  • The Athenian defeat of Notion, (Ephesus). Alcibiades’ fleet led by his lieutenant Antiochus was defeated at the naval battle of Notion (or Ephesus).
  • The Athenian victory of the Arginusae (406 BC) The last Athenian naval victoryin the Arginusas Islands, off the island of Lesbos, on the coast of Asia Minor, where Trásilo with other Athenian strategists defeated the Spartan squad led by Callicrátes.

The Peloponnesian War | surrender of athens

yesattacked by sea and land, at the beginning of the year 404. Athens capitulated, ending twenty-seven years of a terrible war that confronted the entire Greek world. Theramcnes was sent before the Congress of the Peloponnesian Confederation, where the Corinthians and Thebans were the most hostile, calling for the destruction of Athens, although the Spartans preferred a defeated and unarmed Athens integrated into the Peloponnesian Confederation, perhaps, more than out of respect for their rival, because they feared the rise of Corinth.
The Athenian Assembly accepted these conditions, signing peace in April 404 BC., after which the Spartan Lisando entered Athens, imposing military and political absolutism.

The Peloponnesian War | Consequences of the Athenian defeat

This conflict was the most serious of those that confronted the Greeks, the barbarians and even most of humanity. The immediate consequences were that Athens would disappear as a naval potential and political leader of the democratic ideals of the Greek world, her participation being reduced as one more member of the Peloponnesian League.

However, the social, economic and cultural consequences of the Peloponnesian War were not only suffered by the Athenians, but by all Greeks….