The Plague of War: Athens, Sparta, and the Struggle for Ancient Greece (Ancient Warfare and Civilization)

October 30, 2020
The Plague of War: Athens, Sparta, and the Struggle for Ancient Greece (Ancient Warfare and Civilization)

In 431 BC, the long simmering rivalry between the city-states ofAthens and Sparta erupted into open warfare, and for more than ageneration the two were locked in a life-and-death struggle. Thewar embroiled the entire Greek world, provoking years of butcherypreviously unparalleled in ancient Greece. Whole cities wereexterminated, their men killed, their women and children enslaved.While the war is commonly believed to have ended with the captureof the Athenian navy in 405 and the subsequent starvation ofAthens, fighting in Greece would continue for several decades.Sparta's authority was challenged in the so-called Corinthian War(395-387) when Persian gold helped unite Athens with Sparta'sformer allies. The war did not truly end until, in 371, Thebes'crack infantry resoundingly defeated Sparta at Leuctra, forevershattering the myth of Spartan military supremacy. JenniferRoberts' rich narrative of this famous conflict is the firstgeneral history to tell the whole story, from the war's originsdown to Sparta's defeat at Leuctra. In her masterful account, thislong and bloody war affected every area of life in Athens,exacerbated divisions between rich and poor in Sparta, and sparkedcivil strife throughout the Greek world. Yet despite the bitingsorrows the fighting occasioned, it remains a gripping saga ofplots and counter-plots, murders and lies, thrilling sea chases anddesperate overland marches, missed opportunities and last-minutereprieves, and, as the war's first historian Thucydides had hoped,lessons for a less bellicose future. In addition, Roberts considersthe impact of the war on Greece's cultural life, including thegreat masterworks of tragedy and comedy performed at this time and,most infamously, the trial and execution of Socrates. A fast-pacednarrative of one of antiquity's most famous clashes, The Plagueof War is a must-read for history enthusiasts of all ages.