The Peloponnesian Wars: Lessons Learned

Tidjani Salah – Sudanese writer and researcher 

 The Greek historian “Thucydides” in his book (History of the Peloponnesian Wars) considers that the human soul in times of war is an evil soul that does not hesitate about ugly actions, does not observe any values of justice and humanity, nor restrain its emotions.

 In his study of the causes of the war between Athens and Sparta, “Thucydides” believes that relations between states are originally conflict relations, and in light of the lack of equality in power between states, the interest requires countries to adapt to the external reality to ensure the preservation of power and the survival of the state, or face destruction and extinction such as the extinction Empires and states throughout history.

 The Peloponnesian War was fought between two great coalitions of powers: the Peloponnesian League under the leadership of Sparta, and the League of Delos (relative to the island of Delos that was chosen to be the treasury of the Athenian financial alliance) led by Athens, and Sparta had expanded greatly during the sixth century BC, until it took control of The Peloponnese Peninsula due to its strict military regime, and both Athena and Sparta were allies during the wars fought by the Greeks against the Persians. Sparta was always a “great power” in the countries of Greece, but Athens did not become so until after the Persian war, when the Greek states bordering the Sea turned to them. Aegean (the Aegean Sea is one of the branches of the Mediterranean and is located between the Greek Peninsula and Anatolia) until it leads them in the ongoing conflict with Persia, after Sparta withdrew its forces from the Aegean Sea, and this led to the encouragement of the majority of the Greek states or forcing them to join the One of the two allies, such as the city of Thassos, which was subjugated by force of arms when it wanted to separate from the Athenian alliance.

 As soon as the immediate danger of the Persian invasion was avoided, the states bordering the Aegean Sea formed the League of Delos to continue the struggle against the Persians, and Athena took control of this league with great effectiveness, to the point that historians began to refer to her in her later years as the Athenian Empire! This in itself (being more like an empire or empire in fact) led over time to an increase in the sense of hatred, jealousy, and even rivalry with the Peloponnesian League, and if added to all this Athena’s immense wealth and great economic growth, the flourishing of the sciences of logic, philosophy and mathematics, and Athena’s welcoming of the tide Democrat, for that was matched by the Spartan alliance with a life marked by roughness, austerity and poverty, accompanied by illiteracy among the population, for that in itself was a factor in increasing the antagonism and tension between them.

 The crisis occurred in the year 432 BC when she sought Chrysra, which entered into conflict with Corinth, which considered her mother city, except that the latter’s intervention in the internal affairs of Chrysra triggered the conflict between them. At that time, she sought help from Athena, while Corinth sought refuge in Sparta.

 Corinth was an ally of Sparta, and the Athenians were fully aware that their assistance to Cressera would lead to a direct war with Sparta and its allies, but it was difficult for them to resist the petitions from Chrysra. Sparta was a land force, and so was the case of all its allies except for Corinth, which had a third The largest fleet in the country of Greece, as for Athens, it was a fully naval power as it depended on its trade, wealth and ability to control the League of Delos and the Aegean Sea, and Chrysra had the second largest fleet in Greece, and for these considerations, the delegates of Cherira were able to convince the Athenians that the war between Athens and Sparta It is inevitable, and that Athena could not allow the fall of the Chrysra fleet into the hands of an ally of Sparta.

 The reasons for the outbreak of the war between Athens and Sparta were due to the shift in the balance of power. At a time when Athena was an ascending and increasing power, the Spartans ’fears increased accordingly, which made them launch a preemptive war against Athens.

 In this, “Hume” believes that international politics in the ancient Greek era was governed by an understanding of the balance of power. He says: The policy of preserving the balance was so clear that it was impossible for the ancients to have overlooked it with regard to other peculiarities, many signs indicating depth of thinking. And forethought.

 The “Thucydides” believed that the main cause of the war was represented in the growing power of Athena, and the subsequent fears of Sparta. It is believed that the concept of power and imperial expansion of the Athenians is due to their own motives and interest motives, and according to the Athenian concept, the powerful are driven by force to rule over others and that the weak are left only to acquiesce and surrender.

 Whatever the reasons for the outbreak of war in those ancient times, the growth and growth of the power of the state or the empire and the subsequent entry of allies and new actors to it and under its banner, this in itself may reduce the state’s ability to impose its sovereignty over the whole system. A mistake committed by one of the adjacent alliances, which may have a dire consequence for the state or the empire, and may bring about the complete collapse of the system as the Athenian empire collapsed due to its greatness and prestige, and this is the lesson learned and perhaps many other lessons referred to by “Thucydides”, which may be very similar to some crises. And wars in our time.


SAKHRI Mohamed

I hold a bachelor's degree in political science and international relations as well as a Master's degree in international security studies, alongside a passion for web development. During my studies, I gained a strong understanding of key political concepts, theories in international relations, security and strategic studies, as well as the tools and research methods used in these fields.

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