By Donald Kagan
A New background of the Peloponnesian War is an ebook-only omnibus version that incorporates all 4 volumes of Donald Kagan's acclaimed account of the conflict among Athens and Sparta (431–404 B.C.): The Outbreak of the Peloponnesian battle, The Archidamian struggle, The Peace of Nicias and the Sicilian excursion, and the autumn of the Athenian Empire.
Reviewing the four-volume set within the New Yorker, George Steiner wrote, "The temptation to acclaim Kagan's 4 volumes because the most excellent paintings of background produced in North the United States within the 20th century is vibrant. . . . this is an fulfillment that not just honors the standards of dispassion and of unstinting scruple which mark the easiest of contemporary historicism yet honors its readers."
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Additional resources for A New History of the Peloponnesian War
16 At the other end of the spectrum stands Jacob Larsen, who believes that some time about 505 the equivalent of a constitutional convention of the allies of Sparta met to found the Peloponnesian LeagueY The purpose of that convention, he says, was to adopt two Huxley, Early Sparta, 75; H. T. Wade-Gery, CAH, III, 568-569. 19. 16 Kahrstedt, op. , I, 81-82. 17 Larsen's views may be found in a series of articles published in CP: XXVII (1932), 136-150; XXVIII (1933), 256-276; XXIX (1934), 1-19, 14 151.
Since each treaty was sealed by oaths, each state had what amounted to a perpetual alliance with Sparta. The distinction between offensive and defensive wars seems not to have existed, for even though we have many instances of Sparta or its allies refusing to fulfill a military commitment, the argument that an allegedly defensive war is really offensive never is offered as an excuse. This ambiguity was probably only one of many. The wording by which the allied state promised to have the same friends and enemies as Sparta might seem to indicate subservience on their part.
4. 2. 38 20 THE SPARTAN ALLIANCE against the powerful and distant Chalcidic League,41 they called their allies together. They did so again in 376, immediately after a Spartan army was disbanded in discouragement after being prevented from entering Theban territory. 42 The significant fact that arises from this brief survey is that on every occasion it was political or military reality, not constitutional regulations, which were decisive. In other matters as well practical considerations ruled. The only formal regulation to which even lip service was paid was the one which demanded help for an ally who asked it, and there was no shortage of excuses for ignoring even that one.