Importance of the Peloponnesian War
• The Peloponnesian War paved the way for the Macedonian takeover of Greece and Alexander the Great's empire.
Thucydides on the Causes of the Peloponnesian War
“I think that the truest explanation (prophasis), but the one that was least made public, was the growth of Athens’ power and the fear that this caused among the Spartans made war inevitable”
“But the grounds of complaint (aitiai), which where openly stated by each side and led them to break the peace and go to war were as follows.” 1.23
I.1.23 History of the Peloponnesian War
1. Spartan jealousy and desire for more for itself,
2. Spartan unhappiness at no longer having all the military glory, 3. Athenian bullying of its allies and neutral cities, and 4. Conflict between competing political ideologies.
Donald Kagan 2003 “The Peloponnesian War” explanation
Athens and the Delian League
The Athenian empire started with the Delian League, which had been formed to allow Athens to take the lead in war against Persia, and wound up providing Athens with access to what was supposed to be a communal treasury. Athens used it to build up its navy and therefore its importance and power.
Earlier, Sparta had been the military leader of the Greek world. Sparta had a set of loose alliances by means of individual treaties that extended to the Peloponnese, excepting Argos and Achaea. The Spartan alliances are referred to as the Peloponnesian League.
Sparta Insults Athens
When Athens decided to invade Thasos, Sparta would have come to the aid of the north Aegean island, had Sparta not suffered a timely natural disaster. Athens, still bound by alliances of the Persian War years, tried to help the Spartans, but was rudely asked to leave. Kagan says that this open quarrel in 465 was the first between Sparta and Athens. Athens broke off the alliance with Sparta and allied, instead, with Sparta's enemy, Argos.
Athens and Corinth
When Megara turned to Sparta for help in its boundary dispute with Corinth, Sparta, allied with both poleis, declined. Megara suggested that it break the alliance with Sparta and join up with Athens. Athens could use a friendly Megara on its border since it provided gulf access, so it agreed, although doing so set up lasting enmity with Corinth. This was in 459. About 15 years later, Megara joined back up again with Sparta.
Thirty Years' Peace
In 446/5 Athens, a sea power, and Sparta, a land power, signed a peace treaty. The Greek world was now formally divided in two, with 2 "hegemons". By treaty, members of one side could not switch and join the other, although neutral powers could take sides.
“The first time in history, an attempt was made to keep the peace by requiring both sides to submit grievances to binding arbitration.” – Kagan
The thirty years peace was agreed to on the following terms: 1. Athens had to give up control of Nisea, Pagae, Troezen and Achae (thu) 2. There would be a list of allies of each side, and each side should keep what it possessed at the time of the treaty with the exception of those mentioned in clause 1. If any ally were to revolt and be received by the other side’s alliance, then the alliance which received the revolting ally would be deemed to have broken the treaty (thu) 3. Any state not listed was deemed to be a ‘neutral’ and therefore was free to join either alliance, if it wished (thu) 4. Neither side was allowed to make an armed attack on the other, if the latter wished to go into arbitration (thu) 5. Argos, although unlisted, was exempt from clause 3. No military alliance was to exist between Argos and Athens, although diplomatic relations were allowed. 6. There may have been a clause guaranteeing the autonomy of the Aegina within the Athenian Empire (thu)
“There was every hope that the dual hegemony, now places on a legal footing, would ensure...