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THE MAKING OF EUROPE / EARLY EUROPEAN HISTORY

From Hutton Webster's, Early European History (1917); edited for this on-line publication, by ELLOPOS

II. THE GREAT AGE OF THE GREEK REPUBLICS TO 362 B.C.

The Authentic Greek New Testament
The Authentic Greek New Testament


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Page 18

THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR, 431-404 B.C.

INEVITABLENESS OF THE WAR

The brilliant Age of Pericles had not come to an end before the two chief powers in the Hellenic world became involved in a deadly war. It would seem that Athens and Sparta, the one supreme upon the sea, the other at the head of the Peloponnesus, might have avoided a struggle which was sure to be long and costly. But Greek cities were always ready to fight one another. When Athens and Sparta found themselves rivals for the leadership of Greece, it was easy for the smouldering fires of distrust and jealousy to flame forth into open conflict. "And at that time," says Thucydides, the Athenian historian who described the struggle, "the youth of Sparta and the youth of Athens were numerous; they had never seen war, and were therefore very willing to take up arms." [19]

[19] Thucydides, ii, 8.

 

ORIGIN OF THE WAR

The conflict was brought on by Corinth, one of the leading members of the Peloponnesian League and, next to Athens, the most important commercial power in Greece. She had already seen her once-profitable trade in the Aegean monopolized by Athens. That energetic city was now reaching out for Corinthian commerce in Italian and Sicilian waters. When the Athenians went so far as to interfere in a quarrel between Corinth and her colony of Corcyra, even allying themselves with the latter city, the Corinthians felt justly resentful and appealed to Sparta for aid. The Spartans listened to their appeal and, with the apparent approval of the Delphic oracle which assured them "that they would conquer if they fought with all their might," [20] declared war.

[20] Thucydides, i, 118.

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THE MAKING OF EUROPE / EARLY EUROPEAN HISTORY: Table of Contents

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Cf. The Ancient Greece * The Ancient Rome
Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * Western Medieval Europe * Renaissance in Italy

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