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					The Peloponnesian War Identify the causes of the Peloponnesian War. Discuss the impact the war had on both Athenian and Spartan society. The Peloponnesian War had impacted on both the societies of Sparta and Athens. Within the war there were many causes and they will be discussed and identified further on. The Peloponnesian War according to historians such as Thucydides was a civil war between Athenians and Spartans. The Peloponnesian war was an ancient civil war which occurred within the lands of Greece. The war occurred between 431 - 404 B.C. between Athens and Sparta. These two major cities of Greece were competitive with each other in fighting for the title of being the most powerful, important, wealthier and most successful city. These two ancient cities were Athens and Sparta. Athens is known for a highly educated society with male members of their city-state was given the same rights as some of the wealthiest politicians. Athens the city of dreams and freedom. On the other hand the more military based society Sparta, one of the greatest ever war capital in the world with the continuous wars and mass army’s of men. Sparta’s military capability has been credited for many victories that helped protect the other city-states. However, Sparta did not focus on much else except on the military status of their society. As a result, they were poorer, and less technically advanced than the other city-states of Greece. Sparta and Athens, the two most powerful cities of Hellas1, did not have much in common. The Athenians attempted to develop their artistic and brain capabilities, while Sparta remained isolated from the rest of Greece, without art or literature, without beautiful buildings, without any development of their social and political traditions. Sparta lived on as a lifeless military city, though its military capabilities were far more advanced than Athens but they were still admired by many other Greeks. Pericles was the leader of Athens during the Peloponnesian War and at the time he had encouraged the Athenians to fight the Spartans by navy because Athens had a powerful navy. Sparta was stronger with their land units but however they had built a power navy of their own and because they defeated the Athenians in a sea battle Pericles was forced out of power. This had caused many controversial issues between the rival cities and had resulted into more hatred between them. Sparta was a military state meaning that their men’s only trade and occupation was to join the military force as this was a tradition for male Spartans. Where as Athens was a city which had a democracy society, with all their citizens could have the freedom to choose whether or not to be in the army. At the time of the Peloponnesian war Sparta was ruled by two kings where as Athens was ruled by a council. These two major cities had belonged to the same country but yet still had their various techniques and ways in how they control their society. Athens was a city that was rich with farms especially with their corn crops, where as Spartans relied on slavery. So the main reason why

1

Hellas was an ancient Greek term for Greece.

they were a military state was in order to stop a helot rebellion2.Athens tended to be a more cultural state and their town’s people were very open to others. Where as Spartans tended to isolate themselves from everyone and just focus on their military forces. Within the city of Sparta they did not have any walls or light because they believed that their soldiers should be trained to fight in night and that they did not need a wall to protect their city. Throughout all the types of weapons that were created the Spartan army did not use the bow and arrow as a weapon because to them it was considered as a weapon for cowards as it killed from a distance. The war had started in March 431 B.C., when Thebes3 made a surprise attack on Plataea4. The Peloponnesian War can be divided into three different stages; the first part of the war is called the ‘Archidamian War’ which occurred between 431-421 B.C. The second stage of the War was the period of ineffective peace which occurred between 421- 415 B.C. The last stage was the final period of the Peloponnesian War which had taken place between the time periods of 415-404 B.C.

There are many causes that were involved that had triggered the Peloponnesian War. Around 700 B.C. both Athens and Sparta where ruled by powerful kings. These kings slowly lost power to local merchants and noblemen. The lower classes were not given any rights or authority as in the years of the empires peak. This was a source of anger and a possible cause of the revolt. There are many causes that were involved that had supposibly started the Peloponnesian War. The original cause of the war was Sparta’s fear of Athens growth. Sparta had feared that the city of Athens would eventually grow into a state of power and wealth which will exceed the limits and capabilities much further than what Sparta will ever reach. But as off course it was just a typical stereotype which was told in order to gain cooperation and explanation from the town’s people of Sparta. War had begun when the Athenians and Peloponnesians broke the thirty years Truce which had been made after the capture of Euboea5. As to the reason why they had broken the truce was basically that Sparta had feared that the Athenian growth of power would grow into a force which will destroy the city-state of Sparta. The Peloponnesian War had lasted for a long time, but throughout its course brought with it unfamiliar suffering for Greece. Never before had so many cities been captured and then devastated, whether by foreign armies or by Greek Powers themselves. The Peloponnesian War had caused so many loss of life in which Ancient Greece had never experienced. The most important constructions within Greece were the two parallel walls from Athens to Piraeus that turned the harbour and the city into one huge fortress. This could have been a possible cause that may have started the War as Sparta did desire the Athenian harbours of Piraeus and Munichia, but they were no threat to Sparta itself as they were mainly used for the trade.

2 3

A slave attack on them A city of ancient Greece 4 An ancient city of central Greece southwest of Thebes. 5 A Greek island

In 462 B.C. the area surrounding Sparta was struck by a major earthquake, as a result the Spartan society was an even bigger disaster. Sparta was too weak and was forced to ask Athens for help. Athens had agreed to help Sparta as it’s a city-state of Greece but placed aggressive policies and laws towards Sparta. Eventually this had all changed when Cimon6 became an important politician in Athens. The Athenians were hesitating to make the decision in whether to rescue and restore the Spartan city which was their rival for so many years and they would rather let Sparta’s pride be trampled underfoot. Cimon, on the other hand, put Sparta’s interest before his own country’s aggrandisement and persuaded the Athenians to send a large force of hoplites to her aid. When a nation is in war with another rival nation you would expect that the impact that it will have on both societies would be a negative view from both sides, but to have a war within its own country and against your own people would have an even more extreme impact on the country. The Peloponnesian war had a depressing impact on the Athenianian socitie as they had gave up and let Sparta to take over, but on the other hand had a positive impact on the community of Sparta. The War had impacted on both societies as many lives were lost and also resources such as crops, buildings, and also the empires of both Athens and Sparta had been brought down. The city of Athens was brought down by the Spartans through their victory on the Peloponnesian War as Athens’ corn crops had all been damaged and as Athens had relied on their farming resources they had a collapse in their society and was no longer an economic power. Sparta was brought down straight after their victory over Athens when they had been invaded by Thebians. Thebians were located to the north of Greece. Sparta had lost the battle with Thebians and was invaded because they were left unprepared and weakened by their previous war with Athens (The Peloponnesian War). The result was that Thebians became the new power followed b the Macedonians. In conclusion I would like to sum up what I have written and answer the essay question. The question was Identify the causes of the Peloponnesian War. Discuss the impact the war had on both Athenian and Spartan society. Well basically the main cause was that Sparta had engaged in war with Athens over the fear that Athens rapid growth will exceed much further than what Sparta will ever reach. The impact the war had on Athens was that the loss of there farms and economic power. The impact it had on Sparta was that their force was extremely weakened and therefore gave Thebians a chance to invade and take charge over Sparta. Throughout the research of the range of sources I found that the internet sites weren’t very reliable as most of them were from a site were it’s text can be edited and may have been posted by common people and that has the uses of bias and what I had also I encountered was that some of the information was not valid and therefore wasn’t helpful. Where as in other sources they weren’t biased because it tells the recount from both parties of the event of Athens and Sparta.

By: Chris Manassa

6

The son of Miltiades


				
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