Spartan Strategy During The Peloponnesian War Essay

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In this guided response paper, I will attempt to answer the following questions regarding the Evolution of Spartan Strategy during the Peloponnesian War using the ends-ways-means-risk construct:
1. How much did Spartan strategy change and why? And,
2. How did Sparta adapt its strategies as the realities, risks and length of the war changed, and why?
After extensive readings of The Landmark Thucydides and discussions in seminar, I have come to the conclusion that while the Spartan’s strategic objectives (Ends) remained largely unchanged, the how (Ways) and resources (Means) that they utilized to achieve their objectives changed significantly during the prosecution of the conflict due to changes in the risk. I will use a chronological approach
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The Spartan King Archidamus, in his speech to the Spartan assembly and army, lays out how (Ways) the Spartans will have to use power to achieve their strategy. During this speech, Archidamus states that the Spartans will have to defend Sparta from Athenian naval raids, conduct a rapid invasion and the destruction of Attica, thereby drawing out the Athenian Army into decisive battle. The Means that the Spartans have available to them are the dominant Spartan hoplite infantry, the numerous allies of the Peloponnesian League, and emissaries to the Athenians. The risks posed to the Spartans are clearly articulated by Achidamus’ earlier speech to the assembly in which he clearly lays out the case that the Athenians are not only better prepared militarily, but are economically much richer due to their naval power, trade based economy and numerous allies that provide …show more content…
For the next 7 years, The Spartans fail to bring the Athenians to a culminating battle in Attica. True to his predictions, the Spartans suffer a series of setbacks and defeats, culminating with the battle of Pylos and the subsequent capture of approximately120 Spartiates. The disaster at Pylos so upsets the Spartans that they seek an armistice immediately, but, as Thucydides records, “the Athenians, however, kept grasping at more, and dismissed envoy after envoy without their having effected anything. Such was the history of Pylos.” The capture of this large amount of Spartiates, coupled with the Athenian fort on the doorsteps of Laconia, dramatically increased the existential risk to the survival of the Spartan nation. Subsequent to the Pylos defeat and the failed Peace of Nicea, Sparta and resultantly, altered their strategy of the Spartans through changes to the ways and means they would employ in the remaining years of the

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