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Origins Of The Pelopponesian War Essay

1690 words - 7 pages

The Peloponnesian war involved Greece’s two most prominent city-states, Athens and Sparta, between 431-404 BC. Both Athens and Sparta held numerous alliances, causing essentially the entire ancient Greek world to be engulfed in war. There were many events that sparked the feud between the Athenians and the Peloponnesian league and made war inevitable. The Peloponnesian war was perhaps one of the most momentous wars of its time and was primarily caused by both Sparta and Athens interfering in events between their respective allies. A notable occasion was Athens intervening in a dispute between Spartans ally, Corinth, and her colony Corcyra over the city of Epidaurus. The revolt of Potidaea against Athens and the Peloponnesian Leagues interference in the event caused an undeniable tension across the Greek world. It was perhaps Athens hostile decrees against Sparta’s ally Megara that made war inevitable.
The empire of Corcyra was an ally of neither the Peloponnesians nor the Athenians but its vastly growing naval power evoked a strong concern in both of the empires. Corcyra was a neutral colony of Spartan’s ally Corinth but Athens, being determined to grasp the city’s rapidly expanding fleet, intervened when problems with Epidamnus arose. Corcyra had instilled its own colony at Epidamnus, it was there a civil war erupted between monarchs and oligarchs. The democrats of the state turned to Corcyra for aid but were refused, leading them to seek help from Corinth. Corinth agreed to assist Epidaurus and but found their fleet was insufficient and were defeated at the hands of Corcyra. This incident sparked a tension between Corinth and Corcyra. When searching for an ally Corcyra knew Sparta was not suitable due to its relationship with Corinth, so an alliance was formed between Corcyra and Athens . Athens was hesitant about an alliance with Corcyra as it was enemies of perhaps the most powerful naval state in the Peloponnesian league. Corcyra, desperate for its support, sent Ambassadors to Athens in attempts to assure an alliance. These envois mostly emphasised three main reasons why having Corcyra as an ally was invaluable. They firstly argued that an alliance would create an obligation for Corcyra to always assist Athens throughout the impending war. Secondly that an alliance would assure that Corcyra would remain independent and be able to stop any Peloponnesian ships whilst aiding those from Athens on the route to Sicily . Thirdly they argued the naval power Corcyra would provide Athens would be indispensable, evident in Thucydides’ Histories as he documents a Corcyreans plea “….Thirdly yourself excepted, we are the greatest naval power in Hellas.” Thucydides was perhaps one of the most prominent statesmen and generals of Athens and is a highly regarded source for the Peloponnesian war. After being convinced by the threat that if they did not help Corcyra that Corinth and therefore the Peloponnesian league would absorb its fleet, Athens became...

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