• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Discuss the causes and origins of the Peloponnesian War.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Discuss the causes and origins of the Peloponnesian War. The Peloponnesian War was a long and brutal affair involving Sparta and its allies and the Athenian empire. The war was fought over supremacy in Greece but was also a struggle of opposing political systems and outlooks. There was division, within city states themselves, particularly Athens, over whether to go to war and then how to fight it. Sparta was eventually the victor of the conflict but at a terrible price to Greece. The Peloponnesian War began in 431BC and ended in 404BC. The Peloponnesian War is broken up into three phases. Phase one (431BC-421BC) is known as The Archidamian War which ended in a stalemate. Phase two (421BC-415BC) erupted from a 6 year truce which was broken by military skirmishes. Phase three (415BC-404BC) is known as the Sicilian expedition and Decelean War. This phase resulted in the intervention of Persia and the end of the Athenian empire. However, the true beginning of the war can be argued. There had been a 10 year conflict from 457BC to 447BC between Athens and Sparta. This period has been given title of The First Peloponnesian War. ...read more.

Middle

In response, Athens made demands that Potidaea pull down its city walls and refuse any more Corinthian magistrates. Potidaea would not accept these conditions and Athens besieged the city which lasted until 430BC. The Athenian Empire also levied economic sanctions against Megara, an ally of Sparta. These sanctions are known as the Megarian decree. The Athenians had forbidden the Megarians from trading in all the harbours of the Athenian empire, a severe blow for Megara, which derived much income from trade. The Athenians had imposed the sanctions in retaliation for alleged Megarian encroachment on sacred land along the border between the territory of Megara and Athens. Evidence suggests that The Megarian Decree of 432BC was probably a strategy to bring Megara and its colonies into an Athenian alliance. The Megarian decree was largely ignored by Thucydides, but modern economic historians have noted that forbidding Megara to trade with the prosperous Athenian empire would have been disastrous for the Megarans so Megara would have had to consider an Athenian alliance as an option. The outbreak of the war came when the Spartans issued ultimatums to Athens. The Spartan ultimatums promised attack unless Athens lifted its economic sanctions against the city-state of Megara, stopped its military blockage of Potidaea and that Pericles (leader of Athens) ...read more.

Conclusion

Pericles saw that war was inevitable and decided for war while he was still available to direct it. This view is a strong argument as there is evidence to support this. Athens had recovered from war (457BC to 447BC) and was ready to meet hostilities if necessary so it was possible for Athens to go to war and Pericles was still able to lead Athens. Greece probably would not be able to remain divided between Athens and Sparta, a democracy and an oligarchy (a political system governed by a few people) respectively. The breaking point, like Pericles suggests, was bound to come sooner or later. It is also suggested that the war was generated by conflicts between different races and cultures, Ionians versus Dorians, and commercial and economic rivalry between Athens and particularly Corinth. It is argued that these are merely rivalries and not really causes of the war. In conclusion, there are many views of the origins of the Peloponnesian War from different sources. There is probably more than one cause for the war but it is generally accepted by historians that the main cause for the war was the fear of the growth of the Athenian empire which was recorded by Thucydides, who is our most reliable source of the events of that period in time. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Classics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Classics essays

  1. Free essay

    What picture do the sources present of life for women in ancient Athens?

    There is not an extensive amount of evidence for this festival, as only women were really allowed to attend, and it was rare that they wrote anything down during this time, but the festival itself was also parodied by the poet and playwright Aristophanes, in his Themsophoriazusae.

  2. In your opinion, where did the real power lie within the Spartan Constitution?

    the time, to produce rational arguments which inform, add to, or alter the perceptions or beliefs of others. The most prudent type of power which to focus upon in relation to this essay is most likely to be Positional Power since it is based on the position within an organisation rather than the influence of the individual itself.

  1. The Parthenon was part of an ambitious building campaign that began around 450 b.c. ...

    They then had to painstakingly remake a new piece exactly identical to the old one and then bond it to the original. As the architects uncovered more of the techniques used by the ancient Athenians they became more and more efficient at reconstructing the building.

  2. Was Julius Caesar an effective leader?

    He certainly the support of the ordinary Roman people, Caesar knew how to make his fellow citizens feel good about themselves15; he created a propaganda machine with his book The Conquest of Gaul, retelling his achievements and those of his soldiers.

  1. Descartess Overall Argument for Mind-Body Distinctness in the Meditations

    Descartes then clarifies the kind of thing represented by his idea of God, a being that is absolutely unlimited, infinite, perfectly benevolent, and his creator. Subsequently, due to this definition of God, Descartes concludes that he could not have invented God, based on the fact that he could not have gotten the idea, because God's degree of reality (i.e.

  2. Assess the respective contributions of Athens and Sparta and other Greeks to Greek victory ...

    The Spartans also contributed greatly to the Greek defence of their homeland. Were it not for the actions of the Spartan King, Leonidas and his 300 Spartans; and the other Greeks that stayed behind to fight at the Battle of Thermopylae, the Greeks that were sent home may not have

  1. Overview of Ancient Greece

    Many cities were ruled by kings or rich families. Others were ruled by a small group of people called an oligarchy. At the end of the 6th century BC, Athens developed a system in which many of its citizens helped to make the rules and decisions.

  2. Greek History - the status of the Helots in Sparta

    discipline would be bad news against an already agitated group of suppressed people. To combat this fear, Sparta allowed annual legal massacres to keep helot numbers down; strict regimented military discipline was instilled amongst the Spartan citizenry, creating a warrior class amongst the men.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work