The Peloponnesian Wars Athens v Sparta - A War for Greece

The Dellian League

The Dellian league - Established in 478 BCE to oppose the Persian Empire. Athens led the league and eventually dominated it into submission. Its treasury was housed in the island of Delos. Athens used the leagues finances and militaries for its own purposes. The league would average out at 150 member states and any given time but had high points of 330 member states. The Athenian Dominance of the league created a de facto empire, the Athenian Empire

The Athenian Empie

The Athenian Empire - Established by asserting control over the Dellian League and any/all Greek states not allied to Sparta. Greatly empowered by moving the league's treasury from Delos to Athens. The assertion of control over previously independent allies created much hate and resentment towards Athens. The empire started the Athenian Golden Age of greater cultural advance and the construction of temples and wonders such as the Parthenon.

Pericles- Athenian statesman and general, he led the Athens and turned the Dellian league into the Athenian Empire. He favored democracy and is known as Athen's "First Citizen". He led the city into a cultural golden age and began the construction of the acropolis and buildings such as the Parthenon. He died of the plague along with 25% of the Athenian population while under siege by the Spartans in the early years of the Peloponnesian War.

The Peloponnesian League

The Peloponnesian league was led by the city-state Sparta and included most of the city-states of the Peloponnesian Peninsula. It was a league in direct confrontation/rivalry to Athen's Dellian League. The league was simply a defensive pact between all the member states and Sparta, not with each other. So member states could war against each other if they chose to. Unlike the Dellian League, member states di not have to pay tribute to Sparta, but only in times of war, along with a 3rd of the military of each state. In the Peloponnesian Wars, it was the Peloponnesian League that eventually won against Athens.

The Athenian Invasion of Sicily to attack Syracuse and gain its resources proved to be utterly disastrous and the turning point of the Peloponnesian Wars. The Athenians took advantage of a war between Syracuse and a distant Athenian ally to assert itself in Sicily. The Athenians sent 50,000 troops and 200 ships. The Syracusans led by a Spartan general sent by Sparta along with troops was able to destroy the Athenian navy, trap and starve the Athenian troops, and eventually annihilate them. This event destroyed Athenian Military power and its image towards its allies who began to desert to the Peloponnesian League.

The Persian Empire played a large role in deciding the outcome of the Peloponnesian Wars. They decided to massively fund the Spartan War effort. The Spartans used the money given to them by Persia to buy mercenaries, build a fleet that eventually defeated the Athenian Navy, and to incite many revolts among the Dellian League members against Athens, diverting its military resources away from the capital.

Near the end of the war, the Spartan Navy strategically blockaded the Hellespont, the source of Athens grain. Faced with starvation, the Athenian navy was forced into a decisive battle and was annihilated. Almost the entirety of the Athenian navy was wiped out. Athens was then sieged and left without food and without the navy, forced to surrender due to starvation.

Greek Trireme (naval ship)

With the surrender of Athens and it's allies, the city was forced to rear down it's walls, scuttle its navy, and relinquish control of its territory outside the city. The loss for Athens turned it into a insignificant power that was dominated by others for some time. Athens would never garner its past glory though it would rise and remain a relevant power in Greek politics until its conquest by Philip II of Macedon.

Due to the devastation of the Peloponnesian Wars, the Greek city-states were left in poverty and famine, left in war and power vacuums, and left exhausted militarily and economically. This allowed Phillip II of Macedon to invade and conquer all of Greece except Sparta. Phillip's successor and soon Alexander the Great would take Greek culture as far as the Hindus River and his death would leave Greek empires standing in the place of Macedon and Persia, yet Greece itself remained weakened and eventually fell to the Romans.

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