Friday, July 10, 2009

Sparta Prevails!...Or Does It?

Hello everyone. It is time for a short analysis on the book that I have just completed, The Peloponnesian War, by Donald Kagan. Once again agreeing with Stephanie, I was more interested in reading Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford. For one, the list of Greek names throughout the book kept on expanding, as many generals died and others took their place. As more were introduced, it was a hassle keeping track of the names and especially hard to pronounce them!

As Stephanie has mentioned, this book was written with the help of Thucydides, a great Greek historian who lived during the Peloponnesian War. His quotes are located everywhere in the book which shows exactly how much knowledge he has provided us about the war.
The introduction provides us a little information about Thucydides as well as the overall impact of the Peloponnesian War. To the "fifth-century (B.C.) Greeks" the war was "perceived as a world war, causing enormous destruction of life and property,...and dividing the Greek states internally and destabilizing their relationship to one another."

As the chapters begin, the differences between Sparta and Athens were discussed, such as having a democratic (Athenians) or oligarchic (Spartans) rule in the territories. In addition, though the Spartans were known having "the best army in the Greek world", the Athenians had a navy that was said to be "by far the biggest and best Greek fleet ever known". Many battles were fought and victories went back and forth between the two powers. Eventually, a plague hit Athens, sending devastation to many people. Blockades and the lack of money made the situation even worse for the Athenians, but they kept pushing for victory. Peace treaties were made between them but they were later broken, and when Athens finally began gaining back strength, Sparta looked to Persia for help. Finally, after about 27 years of constant fighting, the battle came to an end. The Spartans had won the war, concluding with the Battle of Aegospotami.

However, how long did the Spartan victory last? During the conclusion, Kagan mentions that though the Spartans "dominated the Greek world", within one year the Athenians won back their full democracy. In addition, "within a decade they had recovered their fleet, walls, and independence, and Athens became a central member of a coalition of states dedicated to preventing Sparta from interfering in the affairs of the rest of Greece." Interesting enough, in less than thirty years after the war, the Thebans won against Sparta during a battle, forever destroying Sparta's power in the Greek world...

The next book I plan to read is On War, by Carl Von Clausewitz. I believe that Stephanie and Yohanna are also reading this book. I cannot wait to see what they have to say about the book while I read it myself. Bye for now!

1 comment:

  1. Jessica,

    We’re all learning so much about a part of history that most of us have overlooked. I don’t know how I’ve gotten by without knowing more about the Peloponnesian War.

    The details of the war are unimportant to anyone other than historians and archeologists (and maybe a few Spartans and Athenians) but the lessons learned from the war and its aftermath are of great value (or should be).

    Fighting for 30 years over something not much more than pride? What a waste of lives, resources and even your country. Of course, we’re fighting wars like that all over the globe and sometimes for even less.

    One thing that concerns me, Jessica, is something you mentioned and that I’ve read in other blogs on this subject: the Peloponnesian war was not fought in the fifth century. This was the fifth century BC a thousand years earlier. A minor point but still important.