In order to dominate the trade routes with southern Italy and Sicily, Athens backed Corcyra in a dispute with Corinth. Corinth enlisted Sparta’s help against Athens, and supported a Thessalian city-state revolt against Athens (432 BCE). Athens’ leader, Pericles, isolated Corinth by refusing to trade with Megara, a Spartan ally. Tensions erupted into the Peloponnesian War (431–404 BCE), after the Athenian navy raided the Peloponnesian coastline. Pericles soon died in an epidemic that decimated much of Athens. Weakened, but still strong, Athens engaged in a ten-year war, brutally suppressing revolts throughout its empire. After the Athenian ally, Plataea, was taken by Thebes, and the Athenian commander, Cleon, was killed at Amphipolis, there was a temporary truce (421 BCE). Fresh hostilities soon broke out. These included the Athenian massacre of the Melians (Melos) and a failed Athenian expedition against Sicily. Athens fell to the Spartan general, Lysander, after a long siege in 405–404 BCE.
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