- Slides: 12
The end of the Persian Wars did not completely end the Persian threat in Greece. Persian ships still sailed in the Aegean Sea, and their armies were still in Asia Minor. In addition, Persia still had some friends in the Greek islands. The Delian League After the Battle of Plataea, Athens focused on pushing out all of the Persians from the Aegean Sea. Sparta was not interesting in doing this and focused on rebuilding their city-state. Without support from Sparta, Athens took leadership on the task of removing the Persians. In 477 BCE, Athens created a new alliance (partnership), the Delian League. As a part of this new alliance, Athens created a treasury, a type of bank where they would collect and protect money to use for the alliance. Other members of the alliance helped Athens by giving them soldiers, ships, and money. Sparta did not join the Delian League, but remained in the Peloponnesian League. The Delian League was successful in removing the remaining Persians from Greece and the Aegean Sea.
In 470 BCE, the city-state of Naxos asked to be removed from the League, but Athens refused because they need the protection that Naxos could give their ships. Naxos disagreed and a short war was fought between the two city-states. The Athenian Empire This short war showed other city-states in the alliance that being a part of it was not a choice. Athens began to demand more money, which began giving them more control over the city-states in the League. Athens began to spread its power and control throughout the Greek peninsula. This was done by creating treaties (agreements). These actions made Athens an enemy of Sparta and Corinth, who did not like the fact that Athens was getting so much power. Over time, Athens began using the money they got from the other city-states for selfish reasons, like building new buildings and statues in Athens. This started to make the other city-states angry.
Pericles in Athens After the Persian Wars, Pericles, an Athenian leader, helped rebuild the city. This included creating a stronger democracy, building new buildings, and improving foreign relations. He basically made Athens the most powerful, beautiful, and richest city in all of Greece. In 449 BCE, Pericles made a peace agreement with Persia, which lasted for 40 years. After this, he moved the Delian League’s treasury to Athens so that he could use the money for the city. This money was used to build things such as the Parthenon (temple for Athena).
The rise of Athens was disliked by the other city-states, especially Sparta and Corinth. These city-states were scared that Athens would expand on land threaten the Peloponnesian League. In the 440 s, Athens began conquering land, which led to a war with Sparta. This war weakened both city-states and ended with a treaty (agreement) that was supposed to create peace for 30 years. The terms of the treaty said that Athens had to give up their land empire, and Sparta would accept that Athens was more powerful at sea (navy). This divided Greece between Athens and Sparta. The Drift Towards War Sparta was still worried about Athens, because now they would have an even stronger navy than before. Corinth and Sparta started trying to convince the other city-states that Athens was a threat to their way of life. Red: Peloponnesian League Yellow: Delian League
Outbreak of War Despite the treaty, Corinth and Athens began to fight using soldiers from their colonies and allies (friends). They refused to use their own soldiers to fight, mostly because Athens still feared Sparta’s armies, just as much as Sparta feared Athens’ navy. Finally, Athens and Corinth used their navies to attack each other, with the purpose of protecting their colonies. This conflicts cost both city-states a lot of money and resources. Soon after, more city-states began attacking each other. Plataea, which had previously helped Athens in war, was attacked by Thebes, which sparked war with Athens. Sparta came to Thebes’ defense, along with Corinth.
The people surrounding Athens were told to leave their homes and villages to find protection behind the city walls of Athens. The Spartan army quickly invaded, destroying the countryside. Unfortunately for Sparta, they weren’t able to break through the city walls of Athens. Luckily for Athens, they were receiving supplies from a hidden passage, which helped them take care of all the people staying within their walls. Pericles’ Strategy While this was going on, the Athenian navy was attacking cities and people along the coastline. This was bad for Sparta and Corinth, because the Athenian ships were destroying ships bringing food and supplies to the Spartan and Corinthian armies. The wealthy people of Athens didn’t like seeing their large, beautiful homes destroyed, but they all agreed that Pericles’ idea of moving everyone into the city was good. However, Pericles’ plan wasn’t all good. His idea helped protect Athens, but it didn’t help them attack Sparta. Their ships could not fight on land where the entire Spartan army stood. What is worse is that Pericles’ plan did not account for the thousands of people inside the city. After two years, illness began to spread, killing many people, including Pericles.
The Archidamian War A split between the people in Athens grew after the death of Pericles. There were the wealthy men (oligarchs) who wanted to reach peace with Sparta and the democrats who wanted all out war to defeat the Spartans. The democrats would eventually win against the wealthy oligarchs. They were led by Cleon, who gathered an army and attacked the Spartans at Pylos. They almost won, but were stopped by the Spartan defense. After two years and lots of money, Cleon and his army had to accept defeat. This time period in the war was called the Archidamian War.
The Peace of Nicias The war was taking it toll on the people and the wealth of the Greek city-states. When Cleon died, the chance for peace was made possible. An agreement was reached with Sparta, but it did not end the war. This agreement set out to be a 30 year period of peace, but it would only last 7 years. What this agreement did was allow the Athenians to go back to their villages and escape the difficult life they lived within the city walls.
The Later War Years The fighting continued on after the agreement with trips to Sicily to take land power. Towards the end of the war, Athens began to fall apart. The oligarchs (wealthy men) who had taken power after the death of Cleon, were unable to end the war. Sparta was now demanding complete surrender from Athens. In Athens, the oligarchs were taken down by the democrats, who once again had power. Under this new leadership, Athens was able to win some battles, but these wins did not bring an end to the war.
405 BCE marked the end of the war. The Athenian navy was fighting against the Corinthian and Spartan navies. The Athenians had been surprised by enemy ships and were almost completely destroyed. By this time, Athens no longer had enough money to build new ships and train new soldiers. In 404 BCE, the Spartans invaded Athens, and after a short time, Athens finally surrendered. Final Defeat The terms of peace were harsh. Sparta made Athens take down all of their protective walls, and their navy was reduced to 12 ships. Athens was also forced to become an ally to Sparta, which meant they were no longer fully independent. Sparta, which disliked the form of government that Athens had, decided to exile the oligarchs (wealthy men) and create a committee to govern Athens. This committee acted as tyrants, who were eventually replaced by a weaker form of democracy.
The Peloponnesian War was an absolute disaster for Athens lost all of its land power, that they were never fully able to get back. They remained somewhat wealthy, but lost all political influence. Results of War Sparta had won the war, but didn’t know what to do next. Sparta did not know how to rule over Greece with its newly gained power, and never created the empire it wanted to create. The war greatly hurt all of Greece. This would end their golden age and be the cause of lost wealth. They would never be able to unite as one power, mostly because they wanted to remain as independent city-states. Athens remained a threat to the world, while Sparta helped keep Greece independent, which would last another 250 years.