The Peloponnesian War
Over time, Athens gradually became richer and more powerful than all the other city-states. As its influence grew, the leaders of Athens began to demand loyalty from the other city-states. This loyalty was further strengthened when an alliance was formed to fight the Persians, who were invading Greece. After the Persians were defeated, the troops raised for the war were used by Athens to control the other city-states.
Shortly after, an Athenian general by the name of Pericles insisted that all criminal trials be held in Athens. He also attempted to force the other city-states to adopt and use Athens money.
Led by Sparta, the other city-states rebelled against the growing strength of Athens. The war that followed is known as the Peloponnesian War. This war lasted from 431 B.C. until 404 B.C., and had devastating effects on Greece.
At first it appeared that Athens would win. Their powerful navy dominated the Mediterranean Sea. However, Sparta’s hatred of Athens was deep. The Spartans made a deal with Persia, their former enemy. They traded the Persians land for money. Sparta then used this gold to build a navy of their own.
For decades, the war tore the city-states of Greece apart. Finally, in 404 B.C., Sparta was able to conquer the city of Athens and demand its surrender. Though Sparta had won, no one could claim victory. The war had resulted in the deaths of many of their citizens. Orchards, vineyards and fields had been destroyed. The treasuries of the city-states had been destroyed, and faith in democracy had been reduced. As a result of the Peloponnesian War, Greece became weaker and poorer.
Within a few decades, when attacked by the Macedonians, they would be completely unable to defend themselves, and their civilization would collapse.