Lesson 3: What effect did the Peloponnesian War have on the Athenian Empire?


Lesson Objectives:

  • Students will be able to describe the effects of continuous warfare on ancient Greek civilization
  • Students will be able to describe how Athens flourished under the rule of Pericles

Key Terms to Know

Directions: Look up each term in your textbook (pages 144-146) and define each in your Social Studies Notebook.


Sparta did not join the Delian League and did not become part of the Athenian Empire. As the Athenian Empire grew rich and powerful, other city-states began to distrust them. Sparta led the fight against Athens. Athens and Sparta went to war in 431 BC. The war lasted 25 years.

Peloponnesian War

  • During the first years of the war moved slowly
  • Athens moved its people inside the city walls
  • Athenian army was wealthy and well protected behind their walls
  • Spartans did not have an navy so Athenians were free to sail around and get supplies
  • The overcrowding inside the city walls led to the spread of a deadly disease- 1/3 of the population was killed, including Pericles
  • Sparta made a deal with the Persian Empire to raise money to build a navy- they gave up territory in Asia Minor
  • In 405 BC the Spartan navy destroyed the Athenian fleet
  • Athens surrendered the following year
  • Sparta broke up the Athenian Empire

Click the link below to learn about the Peloponnesian War

Peloponnesian War

After the War:

  • All Greek city-states were weakened by the war
  • Many casualties
  • Farms were destroyed
  • The war made it difficult for the Greeks to trust each other and made future unification nearly impossible

Sparta tried their hand at ruling all of Greece but more rebellions resulted in more wars. War weakened the Greek city-states and made them vulnerable to attack from foreign invaders.

Ask Yourself

  • Why would Spartans try to rule all of Greece after defeating yet another empire?
  • Why do you think it was so difficult for Spartans and Athenians to get along?
  • What would have to change in order for the Spartans and Athenians get along?


  • Look back at the previous lessons at the wars fought by the Greeks
  • Compare and contrast the Persian Wars and the Peloponnesian War
  • Look at the strategies used
  • Look at the strengths and weaknesses
  • Look at the causes
  • Create a Venn Diagram to present your findings

Click the link below to go to the Review Activities page

Review Activities

'Click below to go back to the homepage

It's All Greek To Me!