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date: 23 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Thucydides’ History is one of the most important sources on the Peloponnesian League, the alliance that facilitated Sparta’s development into a leading power in the Greek world. As he traces the course of the Archidamian War to the aftermath of the Peace of Nicias through the first five books of his History, Thucydides illuminates the roots of Sparta’s dominance over its allies and the deleterious effect of the Peloponnesian War on Sparta’s hegemonic status. The first half of this chapter examines Thucydides’ treatment of Spartan military strategy during the Archidamian War and his suggestion that Spartan military inadaptability seriously destabilized the League. The second half of the chapter analyzes Thucydides’ account of increasing allied disaffection down to the battle of Mantinea in 418 bce and reveals his belief that Sparta’s control of the Peloponnesian League rested primarily on its ability to outperform other Greek poleis on the battlefield.

Keywords: Archidamian War, Battle of Mantinea, Peace of Nicias, Peloponnesian League, Sparta

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