ATHENIAN AND SPARTAN STRATEGY IN THE ARCHIDAMIAN WAR, 431–421
There are three possible outcomes in war: victory, defeat or stalemate, but even a stalemate can be construed as a moral victory or defeat, depending upon the war aims of the combatants. Pericles realized that the Athenians had little chance of winning a decisive war in the conventional manner, i.e. an invasion of the Peloponnese and the destruction of Sparta, since the Athenian army would be destroyed by the superior forces of the Peloponnesian League:
The Peloponnesians and their allies have the power to stand up to all the Greeks in a single battle.