Thucydides an Athenian blue blood and veteran of the Peloponnesian War documented the war from the beginning of the struggle in 431 BC to its decision in 404 BC. His on the scene coverage was the first of its sort and has been used by historiographers and political theoreticians for the last 20 four hundred old ages. Thucydides certification of Athenian political and military actions prior to the war has been the footing of realist ‘s theory in the universe of international dealingss. From an international dealingss perspective his analysis of war forthrightly points the finger at Athens and its pursuit for power in the Delian League and the part. Athens laterality in the Delian League allowed it to change over the confederation into an Athenian Empire that threatened the full part and shifted the balance of power in the part. As Athens power grew it took on an imperialistic and militaristic policy that non merely threatened its confederation but impersonal provinces as good. The alteration in Athenian attitudes toward impersonal provinces can be seen in its response to Melos seniors concerns over Athens efforts to take over their province, “ the strong do what they will and the weak suffer what they must. ”[ 1 ]Sparta, the premiere military power in Greece felt its influence weakening as Athens power began to crawl into Spartan domains of authorization. Athens power spread throughout Spartan domain of influence with confederations with metropolis provinces such as Corcyra. Sparta viewed the rise of these confederations and the Athenian Navy as a direct menace to their and Alliess ‘ resources and nutrient supply. The ace power position of Sparta was giving manner to the imperialistic moves of the Athenian metropolis province.
For much of the period prior to the Peloponnesian War Sparta was the premiere military force in Greece. Sparta ‘s society was a 400 twelvemonth old stratified, militaristic system that bread work forces for war. Sparta ‘s armed forces was the enviousness of the Grecian universe and its hoplite ground forces the theoretical account of efficiency. Sparta ‘s work forces were allowed to pass all their clip preparation for war due to Sparta ‘s big serf slave population. The serf ‘s tended to all agricultural and manual labour demands for the province which allowed the work forces of Sparta to concentrate of military tactics. The primary map of the Sparta ground forces was to support the metropolis and its settlements from any outside menace or in the event of a serf rebellion. Due to the highly big serf population, Sparta ‘s ground forces was on a changeless province of preparedness to counter any serf insurgence. This war like outlook spread Sparta ‘s repute to all corners of Greece leting it to prehend the position of ace power.
With Athens outgrowth as the other ace power after the Iranian wars it provided a balance of power in Greece and allowed the formation of opposing political systems and confederations. Sparta lead the Peloponnesian League, a group of oligary metropolis provinces that benefited from Sparta ‘s huge land ground forces for protection. Athens led the Delian League, a group of democratic metropolis provinces that came together to support the part against farther Iranian aggression. Athens assumed bid of all military affairs, dictated and allotted the distribution of conference parts. Athinais with the resources of the Delian League began to lean the balance of power and endanger Sparta ‘s place as a ace power. Ultimately, Athens laterality threatened commercialism and trade throughout the part doing the Spartan lead Peloponnesian League to take military action against Athens and the Delian League.
Harmonizing to Thucydides the cause of the war was the “ fright of the growing of the power of Athens. ”[ 2 ]At the decision of the Iranian Wars Athens had become the unchallenged leader in Greece, the School of Hellas, and for 30 old ages was to bask the faboulus Golden Age. Under Pericles leading Athens grew in austereity going the fitting place for unexcelled rational and artistic accomplishments. To enure Greece ‘s prosperity and support against a possible Perisian invasion, a alliance of metropolis provinces formed the Delian League. Due to Athens standing as a naval power after the Persian War it assumed the primary leading function. The primary intent of the Delian conference was to make and fund a standing naval forces to support against future Iranian foraies into Delian held district. Initially as a manner to fund the conference, members provided Athens an one-year testimonial of money or ships. Athinais appointed fiscal officers to pull off the conferences exchequer on the Island of Delos, the conferences central offices. In an attempt to consolidate Athens power Pericles relocated the tresury from Delos to Athens. This event moved the focal point from supporting league members involvements to bettering Athens position as a regional power and raised Athens as Greece ‘s cultural centre. Athens at this point was maintaining one sixtieth of all grosss to profit its ain wealth and undertakings. Under Pericles leading Athens used conference financess to construct memorials such as the Parthenon on the Acropolis and betterments to Athens infastructure. “ It is a singular fact that the thirty-plus memorials, temples, and edifices that we associate with Athens of the Golden Age were built in approximately eight old ages, while Pericles dominated Athenian political relations. ”[ 3 ]Additionally, league members lost control of their ships to Athens as Athens assumed control of all naval operations increasing its importance and power in the conference. Athens control of league resources allowed it to thrive and heighten its influence across the part. The control of these reources was really of import to Athens as a whole due to the country around the metropolis non being suited for bring forthing a abundant supply of harvests. Athinais survivied because its naval forces controlled the seas and the settlements that produced the grain and other nutrient stallss for the metropolis. This rise of influence came at the disbursal of league members as they witnessed their autonomies and wealth lessening. The consolidation of Athenian power among league menbers had transformed the Delian conference into the Athenian Empire.
The confederation that was formed out of democratic ideals of prosperity and protection of league members began to rupture apart. Athenian addition in power, to about tyrant degrees caused league members began to oppugn its overall intent due to the decreased menace from Persia. With a reduced menace from Persia some conference members wished to restrict tributary payments to Athens or go forth the confederation all together. Naxos was the first metropolis province to revolt but was “ forced back to commitment ”[ 4 ]but they would would non be the last. Megara was one of the members of the conference that wished to divide from Athens imperium and allign itself with Corinth in the Peloponessian League. In a interruption with Athens, Megara had supplied ships to Corinth during the conflict of Sybota in 433 and along with Corcyra assitance Athens soundly defeated the Corinthian Navy. In revenge for providing naval aid to Corinth, Athens, at Pericles insistance imposed a trade trade stoppage against the City Megara in the signifier of the Megarian Decree.
The Megarian Decree prevented Megara Merchants from merchandising with Athenian markets. Pericles may hold used the issue of Megara dwellers cultivating land that was consecrated to Demeter and the violent death of a Athenian trumpeter to set forth the edict.[ 5 ]The abrasiveness of the edict seems more in line with Athens choler with Megara ‘s Military support for Corinth during the conflict of Sybota. As a consequence of the trade trade stoppage Megara appealed to Sparta for aid. Sparta ‘s King Archidamus was loath to supply adjutant to Megara due to the possibility of traveling to war with Athens. Some in Sparta wanted to utilize the Megara Decree to travel to war with Athens to control its turning power. Thucydides writes of Sparta ‘s turning concern with Athens power, “ The Spartans voted that war should be declared non so much because they were influenced by the addresss of their Alliess as because they were afraid of the farther growing of Athenian power. ”[ 6 ]Sparta and its Alliess in the Peloponnesian League believed that Athens actions were another effort to heighten Athens power in the part and that a line needed to be drawn if Peloponnesian League was to keep a power place in the part. In effort to avoid war Sparta dispatched embassadors to Athinais to give a last minute ultimatum. Diodorus of Sicily paperss Sparta ‘s diplomatic event, “ And the Spartans dispatched embassadors, telling the Athenians to revoke the action against the Megarians and threatening, if they did non submit, to pay war upon them together with the forces of their Alliess. ”[ 7 ]This attack goes straight against the Athens/Sparta understanding to settle dissensions by arbitration. The ultimatum besides fuels the fires of war within the Athenian assembly and its maestro politician Pericles.
The Athenian assembly gathered in 432 BC to hear in the Spartan ultimatum to retreat the Megara Decree or face war with the Peloponnesian League. At the caput of the Athenian authorities was Pericles a celebrated general ( strategoi ) and statesman. Under Pericles leading Athens transformed the Delian conference into a tool for Athenian imperialism. Pericles known for his great oratory accomplishments used the minute to present his celebrated address foregrounding Athens glorification during the ritual burial of the dead. His address incited the assembly by “ stating that for them to submit to the demands of the Spartans, contrary to their ain involvements, would be the first measure toward bondage[ 8 ]. Pericles reminded the assembly “ for the Athens that I have celebrated is merely what the gallantry of these and their like have made her, work forces whose celebrity, unlike that of most Hellenes, will be found to be merely commensurate with their comeuppances. ”[ 9 ]Pericles lectured the assembly that Sparta had no right to order Athens policies and how it used the resources of its confederation. He besides reminded the assembly that it was Sparta that was interrupting established philosophy on differences and that this action symbolized Sparta ‘s discourtesy towards Athens place of power in the part. With the assistance of Pericles talking accomplishments and assembly ‘s assurance in its military and diplomatic abilities followed Pericles lead and rejected the Sparta embassadors.
Sparta and the Peloponnesian League followed the Athenian rejection with a declaration of war. Conflict between Athens and Spartan led Peloponnesian League was nil new and had been brewing for some clip. Athinais and members of the Peloponnesian League had fought a series of pitched conflicts prior to this event with Athens emerging the master each clip. During the conflict of Sybota Islands, Sparta witnessed their Megarans and Corinthians Alliess suffer important lickings. As leader of the Peloponnesian League, Sparta felt increased force per unit area from league members to move militarily to counter Athens power. Sparta had grown weary of Athens military build-up and diplomatic activities in the country and had looked for grounds to counter her imperialistic actions. Athens edifice of the Long Walls in 479 BC had stirred great sum of bitterness in Athens to the point of traveling to war over its building. Sparta detested the edifice of the Long Walls and looked at this edifice as a major escalation of military activities in the country. The edifice of the walls connected Athinais with its port in Piraeus and virtually made Athens an island state within Greece itself. The building of the great walls was tantamount to today ‘s US missile defence system. As with the missile defence system, the great walls had both a defensive and violative capableness and caused Sparta to see its building as merely an violative arm system. The ground Sparta viewed this as an violative arm system is the port in Piraeus handled all of Athens grain cargos coming from Hellespont and the Black Sea Regions. The walls that connected Athens and Piraeus ensured Athens supply of grain and its endurance every bit long as Athens controlled the sea. Additionally, the strategic value of the Long Walls rendered Sparta ‘s land ground forces useless, extinguishing its lone military violative capableness. Since Sparta lacked a naval forces that could dispute Athens, the Long Walls were an extra arm system that tilted the balance of power in Athens favour. Sparta in an attempt to continue its ace power position and influence in the part was left with small resort so to prosecute war against Athens.
Athinais aggressive development of the Delian League into an Athenian Empire proved to be that accelerator to war. The imperialistic policies and actions of the Athenian City province caused Sparta to oppugn its ain security