Peloponnesian War

The Peloponnesian War was a war that was fought in Ancient Greece.

This was a war between Athens and Sparta.

Peloponnesian War


Why Go to War?

The reason behind the Peloponnesian War was the idea of democracy.

Athens wanted to have freedom and be able to vote for who they wanted to be their leader.

They believed that the economy was important and wanted trade.

Sparta had different ideas.

The Spartans were a strong group of people and they raised their men, even from the age of 6, to be warriors.

Sparta wanted to pick their leader and even though they believed in trade, they did not trust Athens.

Sparta believed in oligarchy which is a form of government where a small group of people were in charge.


The word Peloponnesian comes from one of the areas in Greece called Peloponnese.

This was a place where many of the Greek city-states were found.  Some of them were Corinth and Sparta.


The Athenians were very powerful in the sea and they had many ship fleets.

The Spartans were very powerful on land and they knew how to fight and to win wars.

Persian War

After the Persian War ended, both Athens and Sparta agreed to a peace treaty.

They didn’t want to fight each other because the war had taken many of their men and brought a big loss to them.

The cost of war was very expensive, and they needed time to build up their armies.

Since they wanted peace, they decided to sign a Thirty-Year Peace treaty where they would not fight each other for thirty years.


During this time, after the Delian League formed, Athens began to become very wealthy.

They charged people to take care of the money and even though they only charged 1/60th of the money, this was a lot of money and gave them wealth and power.

Pericles was a good leader for Athens, and he helped to grow the city-state and they became very strong.

Sparta did not trust Athens and they were angry that the money was all in the Athenian rule.

They believed that other city-states should be in charge of money as well, but Athens said no.


Even though they agreed to no war for Thirty Years, a conflict with Corinth happened and Sparta decided to go to war with Athens.

Peloponnesian War

The first war was the Peloponnesian War and it lasted for 10 years.

Sparta was able to control the land and Athens was able to control he sea.

Athens built long walls that went from the sea all the way to Piraeus.

This allowed them to stay in the city but still be able to get to their ships and to trade.

Sparta believed in keeping things right and never tried to go into the walls of Athens, but that did not stop the Athenians from losing people.

During this time, there was a bad plague and many of the people inside of Athens died, including Pericles.

Peace of Nicias

After the 10 years of waring ended, Sparta and Athens decided to try peace again and signed the Peace of Nicias treaty.

This treaty was named after the Athenian army general.


Around 415 BC, Athens decided that they would join in a war with one of the allies that lived on the Island of Sicily.  They went and attacked Syracuse.

Athens lost this battle and Sparta had to retaliate and this caused the Second Peloponnesian War.

Second War

The Spartans decided it was time to defeat Athens once and for all.

They even got some of the Persians to give them money so they could make bigger ships and have a chance to fight the Athenians on the sea.

Athens, even though they lost a lot of men and ships, since they had all of that money, they were able to recover and won many battles between the years 410 BC and 406 BC.


During 405 BC, Sparta begin to win even the sea battles.

Their leader, Lysander, was able to take over the Athenian fleets and with the ships defeated, the people that lived in Athens begin to starve to death.

The Athenians did not have a land army that was strong enough to beat the Spartans.  In 404 BC, they decided that they would give in to Sparta and Sparta became victorious over Athens.

Since the battle was over, the people of Corinth wanted Sparta to make the Athenians slaves and to destroy the city.

Sparta disagreed and all they did was to make Athens to tear down their walls.

Facts About the Peloponnesian War:

  • The first Peloponnesian battle is sometimes called the Battle of the Archidamian War because it was named this after the Sparta leader, Archidamus II.
  • The walls around Athens were over 4 miles long.
  • Sparta won the war and stopped democracy.
  • The Greek soldiers were called Hoplites and they would fight by putting their swords together and forming a wall that was hard to break through.
  • Sparta was later defeated by Thebes.
  • Sparta made a new government called Thirty Tyrants that lasted for about a year.


What Did You Learn?

  1. What was the Peloponnesian War?  The Peloponnesian War was a serious of battles and wars that was fought between Sparta and Athens.
  2. Why was Sparta against Athens? Sparta disagreed with democracy and believed that a group should be in rule.  They also did not trust Athens.
  3. Why was Athens able to fight and defend themselves so well? Athens had an amazing army on the sea.  They had many large ships and could defeat many enemies.
  4. Why was Sparta able to fight so well? The Spartan army was made up of warriors that fought since they were 6 years old.  They had a great land army.
  5. Who won the last Peloponnesian War? The winner of the last battle was Sparta and they took away the democracy of Athens.