Then you turn to Thucydides and learn that sovereign and independent city-states are forever at war with each other, habitually treacherous in their alliances, always undermining and subverting each other, and riddled with traitors eager to open the gates to the enemy. The Athenians are a bunch of imperialist warmongers, trampling on the liberties of weaker city-states, and treating anyone who defies them with appalling cruelty and brutality. The mighty Spartan war machine is vastly overrated, constantly weakened by domestic security problems, and exists mostly to hold down the helots, who it treats with appalling cruelty and brutality.
And then you turn back to Herodotus and realize that you can see all the same things there as well.
|The Athenian Empire|
It is right that I should describe the Peloponnesian War because it ultimately (at least temporarily) brought down Athenian democracy. However, I will go into more detail than necessary because I am still struggling to understand the war myself. By way of advice, I would recommend that anyone wanting to read Thucydides have a map handy. He makes no sense unless you can actually see those places he is talking about. A shorter outline of the war is also useful. These following posts are my attempt to present maps and outlines in an attempt to make the war comprehensible -- first and foremost to myself.