- Relative Strengths:
- It was a struggle between a democracy (Athens) and a more conservative form of government (Sparta). The better leaders were in Sparta. The moral support of the free Greek world was with Sparta.
- Athens had a small army, but a very good navy. Sparta had a strong army, but a weak navy. Athens could raid the coasts of Sparta, but did not dare meet the navy. Sparta could not engage the Athenian army because of the sea strength of Athens.
- First Phase: (431-421)
- The war was fought carefully by both sides. This phase came to an end with a negotiated peace. Between the two phases, Athens carried out a disastrous amphibious attack on Syracuse (415-413).
- Second Phase: (413-404)
- Athenians revolted because of the Syracuse losses. Sparta saw this as a good time to reopen the war. It was resumed in the Aegean Sea. To finance a navy, Sparta made a deal with Persia by turning over Greek lands in Asia Minor for money. After losing the first naval encounter, Sparta destroyed the Athenian fleet in the Hellespont. As a result of a siege of several months on the city, Athens surrendered.
(This page was updated in December 2012.)