(431–404 BC) War fought between Athens and Sparta, the leading city-states of ancient Greece, along with their allies, which included nearly every other Greek city-state. Its principal cause was a fear of Athenian imperialism. The Athenian alliance relied on its strong navy, the Spartan alliance on its strong army. The war fell into two periods, separated by a six-year truce. Fighting broke out in 431, with Pericles commanding the Athenians. In the first 10 years, Archidamus led the Spartans to defeats. Plague struck Athens in 429, killing Pericles and much of the army. In 428 Cleon almost convinced Athens to massacre the rebellious citizens of Mytilene on Lesbos, but Athens rescinded the order. In 421 both states agreed to accept the Peace of Nicias. This lasted six years, until Athens launched its disastrous Sicilian expedition. By 413 Athens's forces were demolished. In 411 an oligarchy briefly took power. When democratic leaders were restored by the navy later that year, they refused Spartan peace offers, and the war continued until 405, when the Athenian navy was destroyed at the Battle of Aegospotami with Persian help. Under blockade, Athens surrendered in 404. Its empire was dismantled, and the Spartans installed the Thirty Tyrants.
Learn more about Peloponnesian War with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Military coalition of Greek city-states led by Sparta, formed in the 6th century BC. League decisions about war, peace, or alliance were determined by congresses summoned by the Spartans. The league was a major force in Greek affairs, forming the core of resistance to the Persian invasions in 490 and 480 and fighting Athens in the Peloponnesian War. Its power declined after its defeat at Leuctra in 371, and the league disbanded in 366/365.
Learn more about Peloponnesian League with a free trial on Britannica.com.
Lessons of the Peloponnesian War: Although the Current "War on Terror" and the Peloponnesian War in Ancient Greece Are Separated by over 2,400 Years, Their Similarities Are Striking, Instructive, and Cautionary
Jan 09, 2006; Delay not, fellow-allies, but convinced of the necessity of the crisis, and the wisdom of this counsel, vote for the war,...
A Peloponnesian odyssey: Eager student of travel soaks up historic Greece On my Peloponnesian journey, I paid homage to Apollo at Corinth, to Zeus at Olympia, and to Greek dramatists at Epidaurus ...
Dec 03, 2006; Returning to Greece after an absence of many years, I decided to rent a car to give me the freedom to move about the countryside....