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  • Print publication year: 1992
  • Online publication date: March 2008

9 - The Archidamian War


Open warfare between Athens and the Peloponnesian League began in 431. Thucydides oscillates between two beginnings of the war, the Theban attack on Plataea in the spring and the Spartan invasion of Attica eighty days later. Archidamus analysis of the strengths of the Athenian position is hardly different from that of Pericles. During the Archidamian War there were five invasions, only hampered by Athenian cavalry who kept the light-armed away from the city itself. The longest invasion, in 430, lasted forty days, the shortest, in 425, lasted fifteen days. The invasions of 430 and 427 were said to be particularly damaging. National characters and institutions played their part in the way in which war policies were formed. The name of Plataea meant much for Spartan sentiment, and Archidamus made some attempt at a settlement on the basis of a Plataean return to neutrality.
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