In Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War, the author describes and analyzes the conflict which occurred between the city-states of Athens and Sparta (and their respective allies) from 431-404 BCE. More importantly, Thucydides provides the reader with justification for the Spartan victory that resulted from this conflict. The main reason for the Spartan victory, according to Thucydides, is shown in the ultimate viability of each polis' leader's strategies and projections before the conflict. Prior to any fighting, Pericles of Athens and Archidamus of Sparta (with the aid of Spartan allies) devised net assessments that both believed would provide strategies leading to victory and peace for their respective states. In essence, these net assessments can be broken down into three elements: first, an understanding of the nature of the war; second, the identification of the strengths and weaknesses of the enemy to identify a comparative advantage; and finally, the devising of a strategy to achieve victory. As Thucydides argues, the Spartans did a superior job of net assessment in all three of these elements prior to the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War.
Sparta's King Archidamus took the realisti