Chapter

Foreign Policy II: The Peloponnesian War

Loren J. Samons II

in What's Wrong with Democracy?

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2004 | ISBN: 9780520236608
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520940901 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520236608.003.0006
Foreign Policy II: The Peloponnesian War

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The Peloponnesian War resulted in the loss of the Athenian empire and the loss of its revenues, and the democracy largely fell back on its own wealthy citizens and silver from the Laurium mines to fund its operations. The war also had devastating effects on Athenian literature and drama. Thucydides' history set the aesthetic standards for historiography until the nineteenth century. Given the anger of the Spartans' most important allies, their continued reluctance to attack Athens demonstrates the conservative nature of Sparta's foreign policy. The causes of the Peloponnesian War are elaborated upon. The outbreak of the Peloponnesian War in 432/I demonstrates the dangers of a persuasive, nationalistic, charismatic, and idealistic leader as much as the dangers of democratic government. The Peloponnesian War devastated Athens and brought forces into play that seriously undermined the system of independent poleis dominating the classical Greek world.

Keywords: Peloponnesian War; Athenian empire; democracy; Thucydides; Sparta; foreign policy; democratic government

Chapter.  10214 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Greek and Roman Archaeology

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