In this lecture, Professor Kagan examines Pericles as a general. First, he describes Pericles' strategy of war and then he evaluates this strategy. According to Professor Kagan, Pericles' strategy was characterized by being both defensive and rational. It was defensive, because the Athenians did not engage the Spartans in a traditional hoplite battle, and it was rational, because Pericles assumed that the Spartans would cease fighting when they realized that the Athenians did not have to fight a land battle, since they had a walled city and a navy. On its surface, this strategy seems reasonable, but Professor Kagan points out that there were two flaws. First, the Athenians did not have an offensive plan: that is, a plan to deter the Spartans from quitting the war. Second, Pericles failed to realize that war is not always rational.
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