Peloponnesian War (431–404 bc) Conflict in ancient Greece between Athens and Sparta. The underlying cause was Sparta's fear of Athenian hegemony. Athenian hostility towards Corinth, Sparta's chief ally, provoked the Spartan declaration of war. Having a stronger army, Sparta regularly invaded Attica, while Athens, under Pericles, avoided land battles and relied on its navy. The early stages were inconclusive. The Peace of Nicias (420 bc) proved temporary. In 415 bc, Athens launched a disastrous attack on Syracuse, which encouraged Sparta to renew the war. With Persian help, Sparta built up a navy which, under Lysander, defeated Athens in 405 bc. Besieged and blockaded, Athens surrendered.
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