Peloponnesian & Punic Wars

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LEGION OF CHRIST COLLEGE OF HUMANITIES

The Power Struggle:
Peloponnesian & Punic Wars

Professor: Mr. Robert Murphy
Student: Thomas More Kim LC
Student Number: US547
Course: H 311 World History
1st Semester Paper
Cheshire, December 16th, 2013

I. BEFORE THE WAR

A. Antecedent to the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC)

During 490-479 BC, the Delian League, with Athens as their leader, fought a desperate war against the world’s strongest power at the time, the Persian Empire. With the Battle of Plataea in 479 BC, in which the Athenian navy played a crucial role, the League checked the Persian invasion into the Greek mainland. After the war, Athens expanded its authority over the Delian League city states and turned the League into its empire, reducing them to its subjects. Athens imposed the use of Athenian coins, weights and measure on the other city states and used military strength to enforce its demands and to cruelly suppress the rebellions of the city states. The common treasury of the Delian League was moved from the island of Delos to Athens, which gave Athens tremendous amount of wealth from other cities. Spartans and their allies, seeing Athens' influence over many cities began to be suspicious of Athens and her ambitions. They tried to find the way to diminish its power, and were ready even to go to war with Athens.

B. Antecedent to the Punic War

Rome and Carthage were allies in sixth century BC when they came together to defeat the Etruscans. With this alliance, they agreed upon Carthaginian control of the Mediterranean Sea (with the stipulation that Rome would stay out of the affairs concerning the Mediterranean). The Carthaginians expected the Romans to keep themselves busy with the conquest of Italy. Under such condition; Carthage would have no problem controlling the Mediterranean. They were mistaken. By the year 264 BC, Rome had conquered Italy and was hungry for more territories. The first and the closest territory that they sought after were the islands of Sicily and Corsica just off the coast of Italy which were under Carthaginian influence. The Romans took the risk and decided to conquer them.

II. THE CAUSES OF THE WARS

A. The Causes of the Peloponnesian War

Sparta and her allies had already engaged Athens and her allies in minor battles on a few occasions after the withdrawal of the Persians. In the Year 445 BC, the Thirty Years’ Treaty was established between the Athenian empire and the Spartan allies which ended the skirmishes between the two sides. With the rapid growth of Athens’ imperial rule over her empire, Sparta and her allied cities began to fear Athens and developed a hostile attitude towards it. Sparta insisted that Athens stop her imperial rule. Athens refused.

In 433 BC, Athens allied with Corcyra, an important colony of Corinth. Sparta and her allies accused Athens of violating the treaty and threatened war. Athens, under the leadership of Pericles,1 did not heed to the warnings and the threats of Sparta. The hostility grew rapidly to the point of explosion, when finally in the spring of 431 BC, the Athenians’ arrogance led to an open war when Thebes, a Spartan ally, attacked Plataea, a city of the Athenian Empire.

B. The Causes of the Punic War

The friendship between Rome and Carthage lasted until the year 264 BC, when Mesanna and Syracuse, two major cities in the island of Sicily, fought against each other. Carthaginians intervened on behalf of the Mesannians. The Romans also quickly jumped into the affair. The Carthaginians saw this as a violation of the agreement and accused Rome of breaking the terms. The Romans did not back down on their decision and invaded Sicily. This was the beginning of the Three Punic Wars.

III. DURING THE WARS

A. Peloponnesian War

The war spanned 27 years, during which there was only a period of six years of insecure peace, which divided the war into two...
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