Peloponnesian War: dbq and Essay

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Peloponnesian War: DBQ and Essay

Historical Context: After the Persian War, Athens became the most powerful city-state in Greece. Many other city-states, including Sparta, felt threatened by Athens’ rise to power. Eventually, Sparta declared war on Athens. In this Peloponnesian War, Athens was devastated.

Task: Write an essay examining the causes and impact of the Peloponnesian War

Part 1: Short Answer. Study each document carefully. Answer the questions that follow.

Document 1: The Peloponnesian War 431 BCE- 404 BCE ----A Summary


Military Strategies


Anger at Athenian grab for power and prestige

Fear of Athens’ status as a powerful naval empire

Anger at Athenian attempts to colonize lands of other city-states

Athens and allies: Avoid land battles and rely on sea power.

Sparta and allies: Focus on land battles; cut off Athenian food supply by laying waste to countryside.

Sparta victorious, becomes leading Greek city-state.

Athens loses its empire, power, wealth, and prestige

How did Sparta intend to win the war? _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Document 2: Reaction to the Athenian defeat

They were beaten at all points and altogether; all that they suffered was great; they were destroyed, as the saying is, with a total destruction, their fleet, their army, everything was destroyed, and few out of many returned home. Such were the events in Sicily. . . .

When the news was brought to Athens, for a long while they disbelieved even the most respectable of the soldiers who had themselves escaped from the scene of action and clearly reported the matter, a destruction so complete not being thought credible . . . Already distressed at all points and in all quarters, after what had now happened, they were seized by a fear and consternation quite without example . . . [T[hey began to despair of salvation.

---Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War

This passage deals with the Athenian defeat at Syracuse. How did Athenians react to this loss?___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Document 3: The Cost of the Peloponnesian War

The economic consequences of the war were grave. Commerce by land and sea was disrupted . . . Agriculture suffered in most of Greece . . . A good deal of territory was [ruined], and livestock and farming implements destroyed as well as growing vines and olive trees . . .

In Athens, as many as fifty thousand people had probably died of the plague . . . War casualties seem to have included at least five thousand . . . soldiers and twelve thousand sailors . . . Probably the number of adult male citizens in 403 was half what it had been in 431.

---Sarah B. Pomeroy and others, A Brief History of Ancient Greece

What was the human cost of the Peloponnesian War to Athens? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Part 2: Essay. Write an essay examining the causes and impact of the Peloponnesian War Use information from the documents, your short answers, and your textbook.

Support your ideas with quotations or details from the documents. Add other supporting facts or details from your textbook.

1st phase: write an outline

2nd phase: write a rough draft

3rd phase: write final draft

Peloponnesian War


  1. Statement introducing topic of the essay.

Next sentences will explain to the reader what will be included in your essay. These sentences can be combined.

    1. Causes of the war

    2. How Athens lost the war

    3. How Athens reacted to losing the war

    4. Human and material losses that occurred because of the war

    5. Final statement that gives your opinion of the war (thesis statement)

BODY PARAGRAPH #1: This paragraph is about the causes of the war and how Athens lost. Include details from DBQ and your textbook.

BODY PARAGRAPH #2: This paragraph is about how Athenian reacted to their defeat and what the war’s human and material costs were. Include details from DBQ and your textbook.

CONCLUDING PARAGRAPH: Restate the subject of the essay in a different way. Restate your thesis statement. Briefly tell the reader how you provided evidence. End essay with a short catchy sentence that will leave the reader thinking about the topic.

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