Make your own free website on Tripod.com
Home Dramatis Personae Causes Battles Results Timeline Image Index Bibliography
The Causes
There were several causes for the Peloponnesian War. The main reason was that Athens had become something of an empire, making the Delian League into its fist. Athens was conquering its neighbors and expanding ruthlessly, and anyone who would not join the leage was destroyed. This made enemies of many city-states, including Sparta and Corinth. Megara: Piers seen from the Fountain House Athens practically became an empire after it took all the money of the Delian League and placed it in the Temple of Athena to "safegaurd" it. Corinth was the greatest naval power in Greece, second only to Athens. It began portraying Athens as a threat to Greek liberty, which was easily believed by the rest of Greece. The last straw came after Sparta demanded that Athens release economic sanctions on one of their allies, Megara, and that the Athenians cease their military block of Potidaea, a city that has been very stratigecally placed in the northern parts of Greece. The city of Potidaea was settled by Corinth, an ally of Sparta. Corinth threatened Sparta by saying that it would leave the Peloponnesian League and join another unless Sparta intervened on its behalf. When the Athenians, persuaded by Pericles, refused, the Spartans began mobliizing its armies. Pericles was portrayed as saying, "If we do go to war, harbor no thought that you went to war over a trivial affair. For you this trifling matter is the assurance and the proof of your determination. If you yield to their demands, they will immediately confront you with some larger demand, since they will think that you only gave way on the first point out of fear. But if you stand firm, you will show them that they have to deal with you as equals ... When our equals, without agreeing to arbitration of the matter under dispute, make claims on us as neighbors and state those claims as commands, Ruins of Ancient Corinth it would be no better than slavery to give in to them, no matter how large or how small the claim may be." There were minor skirmishes between the powers, but nothing large. The war only officially began after Thebes attacked Plataea, a city with a special relationship with Athens. The Athenians would not stand for this, and they declared war on Thebes. Sparta, the ally of Thebes, rushed to defend it. The war was on.