1. The Peloponnesian War was actually a series of conflicts loosely ranging from 434 to 404 BCE, with two major groups fighting for control of ancient Greece.
Contemporary Greece was a hot, bubbling cauldron of nascent civilization.
2. Athens was a placid but deeply intellectual democracy where an assembly of male citizens could vote on civil procedures.
It was also the naval capital of the ancient world.
3. Sparta, however, had the world’s toughest army. Its male citizens were groomed for the military from birth and did little but train and fight.
4. Trouble started when Athens aligned itself with Corcyra, a Corinthian colony that was controlled by Sparta.
Sparta accused Athens of aggressive imperialism. Aggressive imperialism!
5. Then in the spring of 431, a Spartan ally, Thebes, attacked an Athenian ally, Plataea. The war was ON.
insert years of battles and blood and guts and people dying over control of Greek colonies on Sicily
6. Next, things got a little complicated.
7. The war raged on. Pericles, the Athenian commander, was ultimately thrown off by one fatal blunder…
After he decided to bring the Spartan armies inside the fortified walls of Athens, rather than fight at Sparta, a plague broke out and weakened his own troops.
8. Even with a limping Athens, there was more fighting back and forth. The Spartans attacked Athenian bases and Lesbos, and Athens hammered back at Syracuse and Mytilene.
Yet, Athens was proving to be a weak match for Sparta’s impeccably trained and brutal army.
9. Eventually, after getting its ass kicked so much, Athens barely recognized itself.
It had suffered a tremendous loss of naval power, internal mutiny, the withdrawal of key allied support and a Persian intervention on behalf of the Spartans.
10. Sparta also installed a blockade of Athens’ supply lines in 405, cutting it off from vital food and equipment.
This was not good, like finding out you’re suddenly at a ski lodge in 1986.
11. Athens, pretty much literally starved from the blockade, panicked and capitulated.
12. Sparta, the victors, then installed a brutal oligarchy over Athens, which proved unpopular.
13. Years later, Thebes, Athens, Corinth, and Argos united to overthrow Sparta in the Corinthian War of 395 BCE.
No one really won that one, because Persia forced a treaty called the Peace of Antalcidas in 387, ending the war.
14. But given Greece’s history, there was of course… a sequel to all the warfare.
Thebes ruled for awhile, then Macedonia took charge of a bunch of the city-states, and then Rome, replacing the leading role a la Adam Scott replacing John Cusack in Hot Tub Time Machine 2, annexed most of Greece.