Peloponnesian War Timeline I (First Peloponnesian War)
440 Samos revolts and attempts to secede from the Delian League; the Spartans call a council of their allies to discuss going to war again with Athens, but the prevailing vote is not to do so. Athens crushes the Samian revolt.
433 The Athenians provide some back-up support for Corcyra in its fight against Corinth, in the hopes of reducing Corinthian ability to build its navy. The Corcyrans are defeated at the Battle of Sybota, but the Athenian ships, instructed not to enter the battle unless the Corinthians attempt to land, prevent the Corinthians from pressing their advantage.
The Athenians demand that Potidaea, a member of the Delian League but a colony of Corinth, to tear down its walls and cut off ties to Corinth; the Macedonians have been fomenting anti-Athenian rebellion in the area. Sparta and Corinth assist Potidaea. Athens blockades Potiadea.
Plato tells us, Symposium 219e-221b, that Socrates fought at Potidaea and also saved Alcibiades's life during the battle.
432 A council in Sparta determines that Athens has broken the Thirty Years' Peace; the beginning of the Second Peloponnesian War (often just called the Peloponnesian War). The first phase of the Peloponnesian War is often known as the Archidamian War.
431 Sparta begins the first of its summer invasions of Attica. Pericles's Funeral Oration.
430 Athens is struck by plague, which kills thirty thousand, including Pericles and his sons. The Athenians begin to shift away from Pericles's conservative, defensive approach to strategy.
426 The Athenians invade Aetolia, but are severely defeated. The general in charge, Demosthenes, refuses to return to Athens for fear of his life. However, when Ambracia, a Spartan ally, invades Acarnania, the Acarnanians ask Demosthenes for help; he defeats the Spartan army.
425 Demosthenes is ordered to aid with putting down a revolt in Sicily, but due to a storm puts down at Pylops on the Peloponnesian peninsula. He fortifies it, giving the Athenians a base very close to Sparta. The Spartan fleet attempts to dislodge them, but is defeated, and Spartan forces are stranded on nearby Sphacteria. While the Spartan forces captured are not large, many are from the upper tiers of Spartan society, and the Spartans negotiate an immediate armistice and try to negotiate a more extended cessation of hostilities. The Athenians make no concessions and the Spartans are forced to break off negotiations. The Battle of Sphacteria follows and the Spartan force on Sphacteria, surrounded, outnumbered, and in the end outmaneuvered, surrenders. It is a triumph for Athens, in three ways. (1) Athens has forced even Spartans, who never surrender, to surrender, and have taken high-level hostages. (2) Athens gets a respite from Spartan invasion by issuing an ultimatum: if Sparta invades Attica again, the hostages will die. (3) Athens keeps Pylos and the garrison there will repeatedly launch raids into areas under Spartan control. Athens takes heart, and will act far more aggressively and imperially the next several years.
424 The Athenians begin an invasion of Boeotia. Due to a failure of the Athenian generals to coordinate, this will lead to defeat at the Battle of Delium. The Athenians retreat to Delium itself, but the Boeotians construct a war engine that makes them able to set Delium on fire. The Athenians flee. When the second Athenian army finally manages to show up, they are defeated at Sicyon. The Boeotian victory is usually credited to their general Pagondas, whose innovative tactics are some of the most brilliant in the war. The Battle of Delium is one of the three engagements in which we know Socrates fought; Plato at Symposium 220d-221c and Laches 181b seems to indicate that his service in this particular engagement was widely recognized as extraordinary and heroic.
Thucydides is sent to be the Athenian general in Thasos. The Spartans under Brasidas besiege the nearby Athenian colony and ally, Amphipolis, which sends to Thucydides for help; however, when he arrives he finds that the colony has already surrendered and is in Spartan control. Because of his failure to protect Amphipolis, Thucydides will be recalled and exiled for twenty years, during which he travels among the allies of Sparta; this will be the foundation for his History of the Peloponnesian War.
As a result of the fall of Amphipolis, Athens and Sparta sign a one-year armistice.
422 The end of the armistice leads to the Battle of Amphipolis, one of the three campaigns at which we know Socrates fought. Due to bad organization on the field, the battle is a disaster for the Athenians. However, the battle also leads to the deaths of the most hawkish general on each side, Brasidas for the Spartans and Cleon for the Athenians.
421 The Peace of Nicias puts an end to the first phase of the Pelopponesian War as Athens and Sparta make peace. However, Spartan and Athenian allies continue to skirmish, and some Spartan allies, emboldened by apparent Spartan weakness, begin to consider revolting. Sparta's traditional enemy, the Athenian ally Argos, will begin building an anti-Spartan alliance.
Peloponnesian War Timeline III (Decelean War)