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The Peloponnesian War Research Papers

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The Peloponnesian War term papers show the Peloponnesian War Era as a sad chapter in the glory that was the golden age of Greece.  In some respects, the Peloponnesian War can be seen as inevitable: the two mighty city-states of ancient Greece, Athens and Sparta, had been rivals for centuries.  The Peloponnesian WarSometimes they were allied, but often the military alliance was led by Sparta, such as during the wars with Persia.

  • Popular history prefers to paint Athens as the center of light, the home of Plato, and the pinnacle of Greek civilization, with its democracy and plays and histories and philosophy. 
  • Sparta is painted as some sort of barbaric, crazed military dictatorship, where everyone was trained as a warrior and lived a life that has come to be called “Spartan.”

In 416 BC, Athens decided to bring the tiny island of Melos under their control.  They were technically neutral, but given some money to Sparta previously.  An Athenian expedition to Melos attempted to bring the island under Attican control.  The Melians applied to Sparta for help, but it was not forthcoming.  As a result, the Athens killed all of the men of Melos and sold the women and children into slavery.

The Athenians then invaded Sicily.  According to Pomeroy, “the fleet the Athenians dispatched for Sicily was entirely out of proportion to the size or importance of its intended objective”.  Thucydides reports that the Athenians were so thirsty for blood that they voted that the generals should have full power, and created “the most costly and splendid Hellenic force that had ever been sent out by a single city up to that time”. Of course the Sicilian campaign was a disaster.  This provided Sparta with the opportunity to bring Athens to its knees (which took another eight years).  Euripides captured the long fall of Athens in his play Andromache, as she laments, “I will tell to heaven the lengthy tale of lamentation, mourning, and weeping, that has ever been my hard lot.”  Euripides tells a tale of the destruction of empires (disguising the action in the aftermath of the Trojan War) to show how the current war was destroying Athens.

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