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Current time:0:00Total duration:9:41

Video transcript

- [Narrator] In the last few videos we talked about the Greco Persian wars or we could say the Persian invasion of Greece. And in the first wave, the first Persian invasion, the Athenians were able to stop them at Marathon. And then in the second Persian invasion led by Xerxes they were able to route the Persian navy at Salamis and eventually get rid of the Persians all together at Plataea in 479 BCE. So at that point the Greeks, especially the city-states, the powerful city-states of Sparta and Athens, they're fighting on the same side. But as we'll see in this video this all starts to break down and they will eventually be at war with each other and a very ugly war. You know a lot of times when we think about these things thousands of years later it might seem somewhat romantic, the stuff of stories and adventures, but these things are ugly, people are getting killed, people are getting tortured, civilians are dying, whole cities are being destroyed. Now whenever we talk about history it's very important to think about where your story is coming from and you should always have a nice dose of doubt on what were the motivations of the person who wrote it or how much can they really know about things. And when we talked about the Persian invasions of Greece, or the Greco-Persian wars, that was coming to us from someone who is often known as the father of history, I guess that's a very Greco-centric perspective, but that is Herodutus. And now we're going to start getting our accounts from someone who wrote the famous history of the Peloponnesian War and that is Thucydides. And they're so closely linked, especially because they're giving history of essentially this fifth century BCE that this is actually a double bust of the two, Herodutus and Thucydides. So once again a lot of the story that I'm about to tell, is coming via Thucydides. So as soon as the Persians are, they've been defeated, they leave. You might remember that the Athenians had to escape to Salamis, that's where you also had the naval route of the Persian navy, and so the Athenians decide hey let's move back to Athens. And in deciding to move back to Athens, right over there, they say okay well we want to build a wall around Athens in case anyone else wants to invade us. And you might say okay maybe they are somewhat concerned about the Persians, but you could also argue that they are somewhat concerned about the Spartans who are famous for having this very powerful army. And so they start the construction on what's often called the long wall and it's a way for them to have access to the sea and to protect their city in the event of a siege. Now if you take the other side, if you think about what's going on in the minds of the Spartans, they are thinking okay you know for a long time we were really the dominant military power but what we've just seen with the Greco-Persian wars is this Athenian navy is actually quite strong and in some ways, in fact in a lot of ways you can argue that they are the ones that were able to beat off the Persians at Salamis. That the navy was essential there. So Sparta's feeling a little bit threatened. And in particular they don't like the idea of this wall because here you have the city-state Athens with this very strong navy, now they're building a wall. Sparta says hey if they have a wall it's going to be very hard for us if they don't do what, you know, if they start exerting too much influence, it's going to be hard for us to take down Athens. They instead suggest hey Athens why don't you build a wall at the Isthmus of Corinth, right over here. You might notice the geography of Greece. You have this little, I guess you could call it this little strip of land that connects the mainland I guess you could say, to this peninsula, this very large peninsula which is called Peloponnese, which is where Sparta is. And you could imagine that this is a very strategic location. Anyone who wants to conquer the Peloponnese by land is going to have to go through there. The Athenians are of course no, we care about protecting ourselves and so they start to build this wall to protect themselves which the Spartans already are not so happy about. Now the other thing that the Athenians do, they continue to build up their naval power. They see hey this is a very useful thing. They start connecting with a bunch of allies around the Aegean, some on islands, some on the coast of Anatolia over here. And they meet on this island of Delos which you can't see here. It's a very small island. And they all agree to contribute their shared navies and to contribute money in order to continue to fight off the Persians wherever they are. You know these Persians did this injustice to us. Now let's go on the offensive. And they form what is called the Delian League. Now once again Sparta is not so happy about this because more and more it becomes clear that this Delian League, Athens isn't just a participant in the Delian League, Athens is starting to run the Delian League. And when people try to drop out of the Delian League over time Athens starts to exert itself. So the Delian League is really starting more and more and more into an Athenian empire. So once again Athens proved itself, its navy proved itself to be very powerful in this war. Sparta's getting insecure. Athens doesn't listen to Sparta about this wall and decides to start building it. Sparta's feeling even more insecure. Athens is starting to create this Delian League which is really an Athenian empire, even more insecure. And it kind of gets a little bit more intense in 464. So there are some accounts that Sparta around this time was already planning to invade Athens. To say hey these folks are getting too powerful, let's just put them in their place. But at around that time, in 464, you have a major earthquake in Sparta. And so it demolishes large parts of the city. And when that earthquake happens, the Spartan Helots who I guess the best way you can view them, they are slaves and I encourage you to read more about them. They were treated horribly. And in Sparta the accounts are that there were seven of these Helots, of these slaves, for every Spartan. And so the Helots start a revolt and Sparta goes to the other city-states of Greece and says help us put down this revolt that happened right after our earthquake. And so Athens agrees. They send 4,000 citizen soldiers to Sparta. The citizen soldiers are famous Hoplites to help put down the revolt. But once again Sparta is feeling insecure. They say hey why did they send these soldiers. Maybe they say they want to put down this rebellion, but we Sparta we're at kind of a fairly vulnerable state right here, what if they Athenians took the side of the Helots. Well then they might be able to take over Sparta. So they send the Athenian Hoplites back. They said you know we don't need your help. And so you can imagine the Athenians now are starting to take significant offense to how the Spartans are treating them. And then you fast forward a little bit more to 459 BCE and you have two allies of Sparta, Megara and Corinth and they're right in this very strategic location, that little land, that land connection that land bridge between the mainland and the Peloponnese and there is a dispute between these two allies of Sparta, between Corinth and Megara. And Athens decides to intervene and form an alliance with Megara. Well you can imagine you know this insecurity has been building up in Sparta for at this point over a decade and so it all comes to head and they start having skirmishes and they start essentially going to war with each other. They have these sporadic skirmishes over the next 15 years. And this period right over here from roughly 460 or 459, for the next 15 years, this is often referred to as the First Peloponnesian War because once again you have Sparta and its allies starting to get into all of these skirmishes with Athens and its allies. But this isn't the Peloponnesian War. The Peloponnesian War is going to come a little bit about 15 years later. The first Peloponnesian War that we were just talking about, that eventually ends what's called a 30 years peace, peace treaty which only lasts for 15 years. But the whole time the Athenians, their navy is growing more powerful, they keep getting in each others way and annoying each other and so the Peloponnesian War which we'll talk about in more detail will occur at the end of the fifth century BCE and it will conclude with Sparta being victorious. But in the process most of Greece is significantly hurt. And all of the city-states or the significant city-states of Greece are significantly weakened. And so that sets things up for the fourth century BCE where it leaves the city-states of Greece vulnerable to attack from the north, in particular Macedonia. And we'll see that actually several videos in the future.