Athenian democracy and Peloponnesian war.

Why was the Peloponnesian War fought? What was its long-term significance?  Greece was divided into independent city-states, these city states were independent from one another.  The two most significant city-states were Athens and Sparta.  After the Persian wars, that resulted in the weakening of Greece, Athens unified with other city-states and formed the Delian league to protect Greece from any further Persian attacks.  Athens, having a strong navy, supplied ships, while the other city-states contributed money.  However, after time had passed, there appeared to be no threat on Greece, and it appeared that this money was being used in the beautification of Athens.  When confronted, Athens argued that it was only fair as the Persians had destroyed their city, that they should take contributions to rebuild it.  It later appeared that Athens would not allow any of the city-states to leave the Delian league.

Thucydides, the great Greek historian said the following “The growth of the power of Athens and the alarm that inspired in Sparta, made war inevitable.”  Sparta and her allies formed the Peloponnesian league, and in 431 B.C., they invade Athens.  Athenians turn to their strength; naval confrontation.  However in 430 B.C., plague breaks out and kills a majority of the Athenian population.  There is a truce from 421-415 B.C., war starts again with Athens’ expedition so Sicily, however, they were unsuccessful.  Sparta had taken up arms again, Athens routed but the Peloponnesian war continued.  Finally, in 404 B.C., Sparta is victorious.  The Delian league is dissolved and Athens has to submit herself to Sparta.

How was Athenian government organized? How much citizen involvement in government was there?  Athenian government had four groups of authority.  The first, the assembly.  the assembly consisted of all Athenian citizens.  To be an Athenian citizen, one must come from two Athenian parents, and it is presumed that they must be male.  The second group of authority was the council of 500, this council consisted of 500 citizens chosen at random.  The council of 500 decided what matters should be presented to the assembly.  The third group was the  law court, the law court consisted of of 600 citizens chosen annually, this was the group from which the jurors were drawn, there were no professional lawyers, just 501 jurors.  Lastly, the Magistrates, about 1,000 citizens elected to fill political offices, these offices were available to most Athenian citizens.

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