Sparta and the Peloponnesian War


The Greek victories against the Persians at Salamis and Plataea changed the geopolitical outlook for the small but powerful cities of Sparta and Athens. Preoccupied with ruling over a large section of the Peloponnese, Sparta stood aside reluctantly while the Athenians founded the Delian League and continued the war at sea against the Persians. As the Persian threat gradually dissipated, Athens and Sparta became enemies and fought one another in the Peloponnesian War.


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Paul A. Rahe is the Charles O. Lee and Louise K. Lee Professor in the Western Heritage at Hillsdale College. He earned his B.A. in history and Ph.D. in ancient Greek history at Yale University, and he read Litterae Humaniores at Oxford University. He is the author of several books, including Republics Ancient and Modern: Classical Republicanism and the American Revolution, Against Throne and Altar: Machiavelli and Political Theory under the English Republic, and Soft Despotism, Democracy’s Drift: Montesquieu, Rousseau, Tocqueville, and the Modern Prospect. He is co-editor of Montesquieu’s Science of Politics: Essays on the Spirit of Laws and editor of Machiavelli’s Liberal Republican Legacy. In November 2015, Yale University Press released his new book, The Grand Strategy of Classical Sparta: The Persian Challenge, and in the fall of 2016 Yale will publish The Spartan Regime.