Peloponnesian League

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Related to Peloponnesian League: Delian League, Archidamian War

Peloponnesian League:

see SpartaSparta
, city of ancient Greece, capital of Laconia, on the Eurotas (Evrótas) River in the Peloponnesus. Spartan Society

Sparta's government was headed by two hereditary kings furnished by two families; they were titular leaders in battle and in religion.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Peloponnesian League


an alliance of the ancient Greek city-states of the Peloponnesus, with the exception of Argos and part of Achaea.

Established and headed by Sparta, the Peloponnesian League existed from the second half of the sixth century B.C. until the mid-fourth century B.C. It took form gradually as a result of a series of agreements between Sparta and the other city-states. Sparta strove for hegemony in the Hellenic world and hoped that its allies’ would assist in suppressing the uprisings of the Helots; the other city-states sought military support from Sparta.

The Peloponnesian League consistently supported oligarchic factions in the ancient Greek city-states. After Sparta’s victory in the Peloponnesian War (431–404 B.C.), it became a pan-Hellenic organization that installed oligarchic governments everywhere. The Peloponnesian League broke up after Sparta’s defeat in the war against Thebes (362 B.C.). An attempt to restore it in the 330’s failed.


Martin, V. La Vie internationale dans la Grèce des cités Paris, 1940.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
If Athenian strategy was to destroy the Peloponnesian League, the best strategy for Sparta was to defend the league by keeping its promises to its allies, before it lost them, even if that meant going to war before Sparta was fully prepared.
Not only had the Athenians used the letter of the arbitration clause in the Thirty Year Peace to undermine the spirit of the treaty and to expand to Corcyra and potentially far beyond in the west, where no one in the Peloponnesian League had ever intended they should go.
From this point of view, he meant to win by not losing, holding out behind the walls of Athens, maintaining control of the sea, avoiding direct battle with Peloponnesian ground forces of equal or greater strength, keeping the Peloponnesians off balance and lifting morale at home with raids on the Peloponnesus, and avoiding new wars of conquest while still at war with Sparta and the Peloponnesian League. (19)
If Corinth left the Peloponnesian League, Athenian power relative to the Peloponnesian League (Pericles's primary adversary) would grow diplomatically, not merely through the alliance with Corcyra but also by dividing Sparta from Corinth, its chief and wealthiest ally and the only one with a significant navy, and, not least important, by reducing its access to northern Greece.
All Athens had to do to break up the Peloponnesian League and escape from its containment was outlast Spartan will to wage war, though it might shorten the length of time it could take Sparta to sue for peace with a judicious mix of defensive and offensive operations.
Pericles's first speech is cautious; his second proud, defiant, and hubristic; his last over the top in a manner that explains why his ward Alcibiades, despite his recklessness, was Pericles's natural heir, the one who best understood that Pericles along with many others had been thinking about Italy and Sicily from the beginning, just not ready to go west until he had broken up the Peloponnesian League.
It would follow naturally on such actions that the new order was sealed with an exchange of oaths, guaranteeing support, and it may be posited that the sixth-century form of the Peloponnesian League was essentially a series of defensive alliances
But if the origin of the Peloponnesian League was no more than a set of defensive alliances between friends, how could Herodotus, it will be asked, have described such amiable relations as subjection?(43) Indeed it has been held that the original condition of the member states was a one-sided obligation 'to follow wherever the Lacedaemonians lead', though the reason why states should put themselves in such a condition is unstated.(44) So Herodotus' view here needs explanation.
The nature of the Peloponnesian League is well illuminated by what Xenophon has to say about the settlement of Mantinea in 385 (Hell.
In the full-blown Peloponnesian League, in the case of military action within the League, as already remarked, there was no debate.(50) Without further ado Sparta called up the members of the League and proceeded to do what was necessary.
But when the Peloponnesian League we meet in Thucydides was organised, a League based no longer on mere defensive alliances, and so requiring a method of deciding whom to attack and when to make peace, this solitary occasion provided the precedent.
When then was the full Peloponnesian League organised?