The war between the domains of Sparta and Athens are well known. After a 30 year piece following the initial Peloponnesian War, Athens, an Empire at the height of its culture, size and moral, allied with Corcyra, an important land for Sparta. This “act of aggression” eventually triggered the war, where the two greatest empires of Ancient Greece collided in many episodes of brutal combat.
Athens owned most of the costal expanses around the Aegean Sea, and almost all the island colonies as well.
This made the Athenians very good sailors and sea warriors. They had the dominant naval force with the biggest fleet in all of Greece.
One of the reasons Athens grew to such a size and became rich so quickly was because as they conquered lands, they forced the natives to pay tributes to them. They also did this with their alliances. A steady flow of money was received through this method. Although Athens had many allies, they are considered more of an Empire than Sparta.
On the other hand, Sparta was more of a group of powerful alliances than an Empire like its enemy. Ruling more of the mainland areas and expanses further North, they had the stronger land forces and demonstrated their ability to devastate countrysides and surround the Athenians.
Although Sparta was a strong warrior city, they were naturally intimidated by the superior Athenian landholdings and control of the oceans.
“Full army mobilisation began in 431 on both sides. Athens used its naval control to abuse Spartan ports and keep a constant supply chain from the coast to its capital city”
As the massing Spartan forces gathered around Athens, ships continued to relentlessly carry supplies into the city – one which had huge walls to keep the enemy out.
“Any efforts to come to an agreement or negotiate peace failed miserably”
Due to food from Athen’s many colonies being unclean and infected, the great population of the city fell ill with plague, which massively decreased the army’s moral. Nevertheless, the Spartans didn’t gain any important victories and several times they tried to encourage Athenian people into revolt – half in vain.
However, in 427, Sparta did gain the crucial city of Plateae.
A couple years later, Sparta started attempting to surrender. A period of peace spanning six years commenced in 421, and has been named, “The Peace of Nicias”. Unfortunately, the conflict resumed and the peace ended in 435BC.
This is a branch article. As I learn more on this topic, I will continue writing about what happened following the Peace of Nicias. I hope you enjoyed reading this, and if you want to stay updated for when I add more to this article, click here!