Peloponnesian War

================================================== This was a disastrous twenty-seven year war (431-404 B.C.E.) between the rival Greek city-states of Athens and Sparta. Growing economic rivalry as well as political difference (Sparta was a military dictatorship and Athens a democracy) provided the backdrop to the conflict. Although Athens enjoyed some military successes in the war (particularly through its navy which was far superior to that of Sparta) the war turned out increasingly badly with capitulation determined years before hostilities actually ceased. This war was Athens' "Vietnam". The defeatism which followed facilitated Socrates' trial, as those in power sought scapegoats for the city's failure. By one line of thinking Athens' movement away from orthodox religious beliefs had angered the gods whose punishment was military defeat. Thus, the charge of impiety was a particularly serious one!