What are the major battles in the Peloponnesian War?
ancientteacher | Certified Educator
This 40+ year conflict between Athens and its allies and the Peloponnesian League is complicated and identifying the key battles depends on the nuances of importance different historians might want to give the various battles to support their preferred understanding of the war. In teaching about this war, I would tend to focus on the actions of key individuals like Cleon and Alcibiades. Among the battles I give priority to are: the attack on Attica by the forces lead by Archidamus; Plataea; Pylos; Amphipolis c 422; the Sicilian Expedition, the naval battle of Arginusae and the events at Aegospotami (since they lead to the Athenians suing for peace). In each case, my emphasis would be on the actions of key individuals and the consequences of these for soldiers and civilians involved. This is a very difficult war to study as it is easy to get lost in the minute details of possibly minor conflicts. It is important to remember the general sweep of events (the "narrative") and I would highlight two components of this – the war is an example of how a dominant state (Athens) can lose all its recent gains and power and of the ebb and flow of power and success during a war.