ABSTRACT

The ostensible protagonists in the Peloponnesian War were Sparta and Athens, Athens as represented by Pericles. Pericles had personal grounds for thrusting the war on Sparta, seems to have been the vulgar belief, which Thucydides desired, to refute. Besides Thucydides' own opinion, which they reserve for the present, three main views is distinguished. These are: the war was promoted by Pericles from personal motives; that it was a racial war, Ionian against Dorian; that it was a conflict of political ideals, Democracy against Oligarchy. 'The inevitable struggle between these rival powers widened into a conflict of race between Ionians and Dorians, and party warfare between democracy and oligarchy'. The struggle between democracy and oligarchy, where it existed, was in the main not a warfare between nations and cities, but an internal duel between two parties in one city. Each wanted to rule in its own way; each was prepared at any moment to invoke the aid of the national enemy.