When one images a Greek city-state, one pictures a beautiful city with a good leader to overview it, to offer it ship in battle, and most importantly, to offer its human being hope. This Greek city-state was Athens, and also this great leader to be Pericles. Born in Athens in 495 B.C.E., Pericles was a prominent and influential statesman, orator, and also general of the very powerful Athens.1 Pericles to be a strong believer in the arts, literature, and also philosophy. He to be responsible for the full advancement of the Athenian democracy the shaped Athens’ politics and culture.2 although Athens was enjoying a golden e while led through Pericles, this soon involved an end and also thus started the loss of Athens.

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Map the the Peloponnesian War alliances in 431 B.C. Including Athens and Sparta | Courtesy the a U.S. Military Cartographer

That fall started in 431 B.C.E. When the 27 year lengthy Peloponnesian war began. This long and also bloody war was between the 2 most dominant Greek city-states, Athens and also Sparta, along with each side’s allies. The war started when conflicts developed after the Greco-Persian Wars. Both Athens and also Sparta longed because that dominance, and in may of 431 B.C.E., war damaged out in between them. Pericles knew Athens’ toughness was in your navy, so his strategy to be to prevent Sparta top top land, since he knew the on land, Athens would be no match for Sparta. What he failed come realize, however, is the crowding the populace of Athens behind its long Walls would certainly be deadly if disease ever damaged out in Athens if Sparta had actually it besieged.

Pericles’ Funeral Oration | Courtesy the AthenianVoice

In an attempt to please his people and praise those who had actually fallen in the war, Pericles provided a funeral oration in which the spoke extremely of those that had given their resides for the democracy. In his speech, the tried to restore the peoples’ trust and also remind lock of the many victories they had had that were led through him. Pericles’ praised the Athenian people and spoke of just how proud he to be of them and also how far they had acquired thus far. He provided Athens the title of gift a design for the other surrounding Greek city-states because Athens showed its dominance. He likewise went on to to compare Athens to Sparta. Sparta focused only on their solid and strict military whereas Athens concentrated on that is city and also the helping of each other as one in times of need, which only makes them stronger due to the fact that they space “just as brave” together Pericles states.3

After cruising about Peloponnese as Pericles had actually ordered, he come in Attica whereby the plague began to appear amongst the Athenians. Sickness spread fast and there to be nothing the Athenians might do to stop it. Physicians came to be infected and died much much faster than various other people due to the fact that they to be exposed come the sick much more often. Not plenty of survived this plague, yet Thucydides, a general and also historian of Athens, live after having actually contracted the plague and also lived to tell the story of the Peloponnesian War. His history of this battle is contained in The history of the Peloponnesian War. In this book, he writes that the chronological order of the war and the downfall of Athens because of the plague. Thucydides writes that while the Peloponnesians attacked Attica, the Athenians left and also fled to your ships. Plenty of Athenian world were dice in battle and from the plague. The Peloponnesians feared the condition and watched together burials went on, but remained around forty work in Attica ravaging v the town.4

The Athenian Plague, 17th Century | Courtesy the Michael Sweerts

After the 2nd invasion the Athens through the Peloponnesians, the Athenians started putting an ext blame ~ above Pericles because that declaring and leading a battle that brought great suffering to the civilization of Athens. They began blaming Pericles because that the death of one-quarter of its population. After about two years, the an excellent general and leader that Athens was no much longer wanted and was not selected to continue being their basic the complying with year.5 What nobody knew, however, and also what is quiet a dispute to this day, is what the plague really was. Nobody knows what condition or illness were responsible for this plague. There have actually been recurring studies to discover what diseases can have maybe been the reason of the many deaths. Although some results have actually been discovered, over there is no clear answer come the ongoing question: what to be the infamous fatality that killed a third of the populace of Athenians? The most common and most questioned diseases amongst scholars because that the most reasonable explanations because that the pester include: bubonic plague, influenza, typhoid fever, smallpox, epidemic typhus, and also measles.6 any of these diseases could be the reason of the plague, but there is not sufficient microbiologic evidence to decide which disease or illness specifically were the reason of the Athenian plague. This absence of proof is the factor for the consistent disagreement between scholars.

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The plague, along with the war fought throughout the war, killed a an excellent portion of the human being of Athens, and also as the Athenians became weaker and also weaker, lock received also worse news. Pericles contracted the plague, and unlike Thucydides, he did not recover and also in fact passed away in 429 B.C.E. Leave Athens without a general, and also to fend because that themselves. After his death, the government of Athens ended up being unstable and also was no able to obtain organized in bespeak to continue fighting the war. V the consistent invasions, human being still dice from the plague, and the death of Pericles, the Athenians continued fighting until a decade and a half later, castle surrendered. By the moment the Peloponnesian War finished in 404 B.C.E., Athens had fallen leaving greek weak and fractured. The fall of Athens collection off chain reaction because that the fall of Sparta, climate eventually, the finish of timeless Greece.