A number of different arguments can be developed as

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A number of different arguments can be developed as to who was the aggressor. Thucydides believed that the Pelponnesians were the aggressors, claiming that Athens had observed the letter of the law of the Thirty Years’ Peace. It can be argued that Athens knew that war with Sparta was inevitable and that she therefore intervened in a number of situations but without the aim of provoking a war. Even modern authorities come to very different conclusions:
Chester G. Starr, A History of the Ancient World , Oxford and New York 1991 [ first published in 1965 ], 341: “If we carefully assess Athenian policy 433-431, it may appear that Pericles deliberately brought matters to a head; for he banned Megarian traders from Aegean markets, aided the Corinthian colony of Corcyra in its controversy with Corinth, and forbade the subject state of Potidaea to draw its annual magistrates from Corinth , as had been the custom.” G. E. M. de Sainte-Croix, The Origins of the Peloponnesian War , Oxford 1972, 67: “[W]e can see that Corinth was being quite extraordinarily aggressive towards Corcyra and must bear virtually the whole of the responsibility for the consequences which ensued.” Thucydides also struggled with these incidents as a historian, but not about who was guilty. He struggled with the question whether these three incidents were the direct cause of the outbreak of the war or whether there was a deeper-seated reason. Here is what he has to say: To the question why they broke the treaty, I answer by placing first an account of their grounds of complaint and points of difference, that no one may ever have to ask the immediate cause which plunged the Hellenes [Greeks] into a war of such magnitude. The real cause I consider to be the one which was formally most kept out of sight: the growth of the power of Athens, and the alarm which this inspired in Lacedaemon [=Sparta], made war inevitable. Still it is well to give the grounds alleged by either side which led to the dissolution of the treaty and the breaking out of the war [Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War 1.23; this is followed by a detailed analysis of the incidents of Epidamnus, Megara, Potidea.]. Simon Hornblower, A Commentary on Thucydides, volume I: Books 1- III , Oxford 1991, 65: The explicit formulation of a distinction between profound and superficial causes is arguably Thucydides’ greatest single contribution to later history-writing. Strategies of Sparta and Athens : The initial strategies of the two Greek superpowers were fairly straightforward. Since Sparta could only rely on her hoplite soldiers, she invaded Attica, the polis of Athens, every year as soon as the weather conditions allowed them to do so (as a rule no fighting took place in winter). They would invade in the early spring and return to Sparta in the fall. The first time this happened Athens brought everyone who lived in the countryside within the city walls and allowed the Spartans to destroy their crops and lands. With her fleet,
safely protected in Piraeus by the long walls, she brought in food and other supplies from other parts of Greece.

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