ATHENS, March 12 -- Athens and Sparta, rival cities of antiquity, have signed a 'symbolic' peace pact that officially ends the Peloponnesian War that ravaged Greece 2,500 years ago, officials said Tuesday. 'This year marks the 25th century since the end of the Peloponessian War and this symbolic peace pact is our way of commemorating its end,' Athens municipality spokesman Vassilis Talamangas told United Press International.
The peace declaration was signed by the cities' mayors at a special ceremony in ancient Sparta, or Lakedaimonm, 166 miles (300 kilometers) south of Athens, Talamangas said. As recounted by ancient historian Thucydides, the Peloponessian War lasted 27 years (431-404 BC), splitting the ancient Greek world into two camps. 'Today we express our grief for the devastating war between the two key cities of ancient Greece and declare its end,' said the peace proclamation. Setting ancient bygones aside, Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos told reporters both cities could now 'work wonders if they fused their respective ancient ideals together'. Talamangas said there was no official documentation of a peace pact between Athens and Sparta ending the Peloponnesian War, which raged from 431-404 BC. Historians say Sparta emerged the victor of the bloody conflict after Athenians squandered their navy in a hopeless attack on Syracuse. The war and intermittent plagues devastated the physical dominance of the Athens empire and paved the way for Sparta's short-lived supremacy of the Hellenic world. Many historians suggest Athens' loss facilitated Alexander the Great's conquest of the Hellenic world in the latter half of the 4th century BC.