Why was the Peloponnesian War Fought and how was the Athenian Government Organized? How much Citizen Involvement was There?

After the Persian Wars, another war broke out in Ancient Greece, the Peloponnesian War. This war was between Athens, their allies, and Sparta, and their allies; but why was this war fought? Athens, probably the most well known and famous of the Ancient Greek city states, but how was its government organized? How much citizen involvement was there in the government? 

The Peloponnesian War

After the Persian War, the Greek city-states formed the Delian League(named after the Island of Delos, where the treasury and the temple of Apollo resided), which was a solution in preventing a future attack by the Persians. The main reason for this league was to have a defensive alliance of Greek city states, under the lead and direction of Athens. Part of the league, was that each city-state had to supply ships or certain sums of money for the military.

Over the years the threat of a Persian attack was becoming more and more unlikely, which meant that the military was not really needed, some of the city-states began to wonder where their money was going. Turns out Athens was using the money all along, in a beautification project to improve their city, which had been destroyed and damaged during the Persian War. They also had moved the treasury from Delos to Athens!

This of course did not please some of the city states especially the Spartan city-states. Because of this some of these Spartan city-states withdrew from the Delian league. Athens demanded that these city-states return back to league, stating that you could not back out of it. This angered Sparta further; so in 431 BC, Sparta invaded Athens, which in turn begins the Peloponnesian War.

The Athenian Government

The Athenian government was made up of: The Assembly(made up of all citizens), Council of five-hundred(who decide what matters will be brought up at the assembly; they are elected at random), Law Courts(made up of six-thousand citizens who are chosen every year; out of these people, judges and juries were chosen), and Magistrates(which consisted of various government officials, who were elected or chosen at random). There were around one-thousand government offices to be filled each year in Athens.

But how much citizen involvement was there? Well if you noticed, Athens had The Assembly which consisted of every citizen, and the Law courts consisting of six-thousand citizens, there was a decent amount of citizen involvement in government. Every citizen could be involved in the government as long as they were not a slave, a local resident but not a citizen, or a woman.

Conclusion 

In conclusion the Peloponnesian War’s main cause was when Athens spent the money from the other city-states for the military on themselves; and demanded that the Spartan city-states return to the league, even though they were technically in the wrong, which in turn angered these city states, thus causing the war. There is probably more to it, this is only a small explanation. The Athenian government had much citizen involvement, almost anyone could participate in political matters in Athens.


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