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Classics & Ancient History   >   The Peloponnesian War, 431-404 BC


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The Peloponnesian War, 431-404 BC

In this course, Professor Paul Cartledge (University of Cambridge) gives a detailed account of the Peloponnesian War, 431-404 BC. We begin by clarifying some of the terminology used to discuss the war, including the question of what we should actually call it, before turning in the second module to the question of why the conventional dates for the war (431-404 BC) may be open to question. After that, we think about some of the sources available to the modern historian researching the Peloponnesian War, both literary (e.g. Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War, Plutarch's Lives) and otherwise (e.g. epigraphic and archaeological evidence), before turning in the fourth module to the causes of the Peloponnesian War, including both the longer-term causes and shorter-term triggers for war.

In the following three modules, we look at the course of the war itself. First, we trace the events of the Archidamian War and the Peace of Nicias (431-15 BC). After that, we look at the Sicilian Expedition (415-13 BC). And then we explore the final phase of the war, known as the Decelean War or the Ionian War, ending with the Athenians' defeat (413-404 BC).

In the eighth module, we consider some of the shorter- and longer-term consequences of the Peloponnesian War, including the complicated set of events in the fourth century BC and the ultimate ascendency of Macedon in the later part of the century, which changed the complexion of the Greek world completely. Finally, in a short ninth module, we offer some suggestions for further reading.


In this module, we clarify some of the terminology used to discuss the Peloponnesian War, focusing in particular on how we should actually refer to the conflict. Would referring to it as the Atheno-Peloponnesian War perhaps be more appropriate?

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Cartledge, P. (2019, January 15). The Peloponnesian War, 431-404 BC - Terminology [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Cartledge, P. "The Peloponnesian War, 431-404 BC – Terminology." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Jan 2019,


Prof. Paul Cartledge

Prof. Paul Cartledge

University of Cambridge