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(431–404 BC) War fought between Athens and Sparta, the leading city-states of ancient Greece, along with their allies, which included nearly every other Greek city-state. Its principal cause was a fear of Athenian imperialism. The Athenian alliance relied on its strong navy, the Spartan alliance on its strong army. The war fell into two periods, separated by a six-year truce. Fighting broke out in 431, with Pericles commanding the Athenians. In the first 10 years, Archidamus led the Spartans to defeats. Plague struck Athens in 429, killing Pericles and much of the army. In 428 Cleon almost convinced Athens to massacre the rebellious citizens of Mytilene on Lesbos, but Athens rescinded the order. In 421 both states agreed to accept the Peace of Nicias. This lasted six years, until Athens launched its disastrous Sicilian expedition. By 413 Athens's forces were demolished. In 411 an oligarchy briefly took power. When democratic leaders were restored by the navy later that year, they refused Spartan peace offers, and the war continued until 405, when the Athenian navy was destroyed at the Battle of Aegospotami with Persian help. Under blockade, Athens surrendered in 404. Its empire was dismantled, and the Spartans installed the Thirty Tyrants.
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