After defeating the numerically larger forces of the despotic Persian Empire in 480 bce, democratic Athens assumed a preeminent position among the city-states of Greece. But other Greek city-states grew wary of Athens’ power and angry at its arrogance. Led by Athens’s chief rival, Sparta, they waged war—the Peloponnesian War—against Athens. In his famous “Funeral Oration” (430 bce), Pericles (c. 495–429 bce) commemorates the sacrifice of the Athenians who died in battle in the first years of the war and celebrates the ideals of Athenian democracy.