History of the Peloponnesian War Questions and Answers
by Thucydides

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What were the cultures, national interest, strengths and weaknesses of Athens and Sparta at the outbreak of the war?

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Greece had recently emerged victorious from the Persian Wars (499-449 B.C.). Perceiving themselves as the leaders of Hellas and superior to their neighbors, the Athenians worked to gain influence over the other city-states and dipped into the common treasury to build up their own city. Athens dealt with the opposition to its power by occupying several city-states in the 470s and 460s, leaving Sparta and Corinth as the only obstacles to Athenian supremacy. After a period of tensions, the Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.) finally broke out. The war resulted in Athenian defeat and what essentially amounted to the downfall of Greece.

Following the initial battles of the war, Athenian statesman Pericles delivered his famous funeral oration, which was recorded by the historians Thucydides (460-395 B.C.). See the link below. The speech reflects the Athenians' view of themselves as an open, educated, democratic,...

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