The Best Defense

Blogging Thucydides (V and last): Who won the Peloponnesian War, Athens or Sparta? The correct answer is C: Neither

The conventional wisdom is that Sparta won, because Athens ultimately surrendered and faced total destruction.

But as Robert Strassler points out in his epilogue to the Landmark edition, which I read this time, the big winner was not a belligerent. Rather, victory belonged to an observer, Persia, which stood on the sidelines and encouraged the fight, and then moved in to collect its winnings. I think too often we don't consider that as an outcome in wars.    

Interesting -- Athens going broke, Iran/Persia ascendant . . .

Chris Hondros/Getty Images

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