Athens or Sparta
A History of the Peloponnesian War
In 404 BC, the once glorious sea power of Athens surrenders to the Spartans. The city walls are demolished, the fleet, save a handful of ships, must be given up. A war is over that lasted nearly thirty years and brought death or slavery to thousands. What were the motivations behind the greatest military showdown that the ancient world had witnessed? How could proud Athens fail so totally? What were the consequences of its defeat?
Wolfgang Will retells the fascinating story of the Peloponnesian War. His book gives a memorable account of Athenian hubris, where the spread of democracy was touted on the one hand and partners in their alliance subjected to tyrannical rule on the other. With reference to ancient historian Thucydides’ representation of events in the Melian dialogue, Will shows up the cynicism of Athenian calculation. At the same time, the book emphasises that Athen’s opponents – the Spartans and their Peloponnesian alliance – were no champions of freedom either, as becomes apparent once they establish their hegemony in the eastern Mediterranean. An exciting story, a shrewd analysis and a must read for all who have an interest in the world of antiquity.
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