What Was The Cause Of The Peloponnesian War Essay


Peloponnesian War is the name that was given to the conflict between Sparta and Athens. These conflicts lasted from 431 until 404 BC. This is a war brought about by disputes between Athens and Sparta on how to deal with their allies. According to Burn, (123), the Peloponnesian War was between the rivals Athens and Sparta. It was a war ignited by insignificant civil conflicts and spurred by interests from third party cities. Violent disputes erupted between them and the war began when Sparta issued ultimatums to Athens. The Spartans wanted Athens to lift its economic sanctions against theMegara city. Ultimately, Sparta finally won the war by completely destroying the Athenian fleet with the financial help from Persia. A number of reasons caused the war. First, it was because of the ultimatums issued to Athens by Sparta, the Athenians control of the Delian League and their naval alliance, and Athens alliance with Leontini and Corcyra and the contest between Corinth and Athens over Corcyra.
The main cause of the Peloponnesian War was when Spartans issued ultimatums to Athens. Sparta promised attacks if Athens did not lift its economic sanctions against the Megara city. Megara city was a Spartan’s ally that was on the West of the Athenians territory. The Athenians had forbidden the Megarians from trading in the Athenian empire harbors (Hanson, 134). This was a blow to both Megara and Sparta because; they got income from trading in the harbors. The dispute over these sanctions against Megara motivated the hostility between Sparta and Athens thus causing the Peloponnesian War. In addition, Athens attack on Spartan ally ignited the war because the Spartans were protecting their allies.
The second reason for the cause of the Peloponnesian War was the fear of Spartan’s of the growth of Athens. The Athenians control of the Delian League and the naval alliance made Athens to dominate the Mediterranean Sea causing tantrums to the Spartans. Athens took control of everything in the Delian league and this angered Spartans who decided to fight back. According to Thucydides, the Spartans feared for the growth of the power and prosperity of the Athens (201). In addition, he notes that, the causes of the war were the growth of Athens power and imperialism, which creates fear in the Spartans. According to him, it was just a symptom of paranoia by Spartans on Athenians imperialism. Thucydides notes that, the main cause of the Peloponnesian war was the growth of the power of the Athenians. Athens had become the supreme power by becoming the leader of the Delian’s League and nearly drove away the Persians. In addition, their naval power was growing day by day, this endangered the border states, and the Spartans feared that, Athenians could use their superiority in offensive weaponry and their naval forces of the Delian League to destroy them and their allies (Russett and Antholis 420). Sparta was jealous of the Athenians growing power and their ability to build a bigger fleet of ships with the help of their allies; therefore, they started the war to make them weak and to stop them from rebuilding their Long Wall fortifications, which protected the Piraeus harbor. The Spartans decided to attack in order to protect the boarders and their allies and this resulted to the Peloponnesian war between them and Athens.
Another reason that caused the Peloponnesian war is Athens making an alliance with Rhegium, Corcyra, and Leontini and this made their naval power stronger and un-destroyable. Corcyra was Corinth’s enemy and Athens making an alliance with them endangered food supply in the region of the Peloponnese city since trade was altered in the cities. (Kagan 209).This resulted to the Peloponnesian War because, Corinth encouraged the Spartans to take up their arms and fight Athens. Martin notes that, their allies for instance Aegean and Megara in the war against Spartans later backed up Spartans.
In conclusion, the Peloponnesian War lasted from 431- 404 B.C. This war broke out because of continuous conflicts between Sparta and Athens. The two rivals were vying for power and control with Sparta having a strong army and Athens, having a strong navy. Athens had taken full control of the Mediterranean Sea due to its strong naval base and Sparta had to fight in order to regain its territories. Likewise, the growth of power of Athens also caused the Peloponnesian War. Spartans were jealous for lack of military glory and their desire for more for itself made them declare ultimatums of war to the Athenians. In addition, the violent disruptions between the two were brought about by the economic sanctions Athens had imposed on the city of Megara, which was Sparta’s ally. The hostility between Athens and Sparta led to the Peloponnesian War and Sparta emerged the winner with the help of its ally, Persia.

Works Cited

Burn, Andrew Robert. The Penguin History of Greece. New York: Penguin Books, 1966.
Hanson, Victor Davis. A War Like No Other. How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War. New York: Random House, 2005.
Kagan, Donald. The Peloponnesian War. New York: Penguin Books, 2004. Print.
Martin, Thomas R. The Peloponnesian War (431 – 404 B.C.): An Overview of Classical Greek History from Mycenae to Alexander Web 23 Apr. 2014. http://www.thelatinlibrary.com/imperialism/notes/peloponnesianwar.html
Russett, Bruce M. and Antholis, William. Do Democracies Fight Each Other? Evidence from the Peloponnesian War, Journal of Peace Research 29.4(1992): 415–434.
Thucydides. The History of the Peloponnesian War. NY: Penguin Books; Revised edition, 2000. Print.