One of the most important wars in the Ancient World was the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BCE). This was a long drawn out war between Athens and Sparta and their respective allies. It convulsed Greece and changed the course of the Classical world. The war ended the Golden Age of Athenian Culture and arguably weakened the Greek world forever. The origins of such a conflict are complex and these will be evaluated in this work. It will be argued in this piece that the ultimate origins of the war lay in Sparta’s fear of the growing might of the Athenian Empire.
In the aftermath of the Persian Wars, the two powers could not come to an agreement on their respective spheres of influence and this led to friction and eventually outright war. Athens and its ambitions also led to increasing instability and this is exemplified in the Megarian Decree. The profoundly different societies of Athens and Sparta was also a significant factor in the war’s outbreak, which also had an ideological aspect.
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