|Battle of Aegospotami|
|Part of the Peloponnesian War|
A Greek trireme
|Commanders and leaders|
|170 ships||180 ships|
|Casualties and losses|
|Minimal|| 160 Ships,|
3,000 sailors executed
The Battle of Aegospotami ( // ee-gəs-POT-ə-my) was a naval confrontation that took place in 405 BC and was the last major battle of the Peloponnesian War. In the battle, a Spartan fleet under Lysander destroyed the Athenian navy. This effectively ended the war, since Athens could not import grain or communicate with its empire without control of the sea.
In 405 BC, following the severe Spartan defeat at the Battle of Arginusae, Lysander, the commander who had been responsible for the first Spartan naval successes, was reinstated in command.Since the Spartan constitution prohibited any commander from holding the office of navarch more than once, he was appointed as a vice-admiral instead, with the clear understanding that this was a mere legal fiction.
One of Lysander's advantages as a commander was his close relationship with the Persian prince Cyrus. Using this connection, he quickly raised the money to begin rebuilding the Spartan fleet.When Cyrus was recalled to Susa by his father Darius, he gave Lysander the revenues from all of his cities of Asia Minor. With the resources of this entire wealthy Persian province at his disposal, Lysander was able to quickly reconstitute his fleet.
He then set off on a series of campaigns throughout the Aegean.He seized several Athenian-held cities, and attacked numerous islands. He was unable to move north to the Hellespont, however, because of the threat from the Athenian fleet at Samos. To divert the Athenians, Lysander struck westward. Approaching quite near to Athens itself, he attacked Aegina and Salamis, and even landed in Attica. The Athenian fleet set out in pursuit, but Lysander sailed around them, reached the Hellespont, and established a base at Abydos. From there, he seized the strategically important town of Lampsacus. From here, the way was open to enter the Bosporus and close down the trade routes from which Athens received the majority of her grain. If the Athenians were to avoid starvation, Lysander had to be contained immediately.
The Athenian fleet of 180 shipscaught up with Lysander shortly after he had taken Lampsacus, and established a base at Sestos. However, perhaps because of the need to keep a close watch on Lysander, they set up camp on a beach much nearer to Lampsacus. The location was less than ideal because of the lack of a harbor and the difficulty of supplying the fleet, but proximity seems to have been the primary concern in the minds of the Athenian generals. Every day, the fleet sailed out to Lampsacus in battle formation, and waited outside the harbor; when Lysander refused to emerge, they returned home.
At this time, the exiled Athenian leader Alcibiades was living in his ship's castle near the Athenian camp. Coming down to the beach where the ships were gathered, he made several suggestions to the generals. First, he proposed relocating the fleet to the more secure base at Sestos. Second, he claimed that several Thracian kings had offered to provide him with an army. If the generals would offer him a share of the command, he claimed, he would use this army to assist the Athenians. The generals, however, declined this offer and rejected his advice. Spurned, Alcibiades returned to his home.
Two accounts of the battle of Aegospotami exist. Diodorus Siculus relates that the Athenian general in command on the fifth day at Sestos, Philocles, sailed out with thirty ships, ordering the rest to follow him.Donald Kagan has argued that the Athenian strategy, if this account is accurate, must have been to draw the Peloponnesians into an attack on the small force so that the larger force following could surprise them. In the event, the small force was immediately defeated, and the remainder of the fleet was caught unprepared on the beach.
Xenophon, in contrast, relates that the entire Athenian fleet came out as usual on the day of the battle, and Lysander remained in the harbor. When the Athenians returned to their camp, the sailors scattered to forage for food; Lysander's fleet then sailed across from Abydos and captured most of the ships on the beach, with no sea fighting at all.
Whichever account of the battle itself is accurate, the result is clear. The Athenian fleet was obliterated; only nine ships escaped, led by the general Conon. Lysander captured nearly all of the remainder, along with some three or four thousand Athenian sailors. One of the escaped ships, the messenger ship Paralus, was dispatched to inform Athens of the disaster. The rest, with Conon, sought refuge with Evagoras, a friendly ruler in Cyprus.
Some historians, ancient and modern, suspect that the battle was lost as the result of treachery, perhaps on the part of Adeimantus, who was the only Athenian commander the Spartans captured during the battle who was not put to death, and perhaps with the treasonous connivance of the oligarchical faction at Athens, who may have wanted their city defeated in order to overthrow the democracy. But this all remains speculative.
Lysander and his victorious fleet sailed back to Lampsacus. Citing a previous Athenian atrocity when the captured sailors of two ships were thrown overboard,Lysander and his allies slaughtered Philocles and 3,000 Athenian prisoners, sparing other Greek captives. Lysander's fleet then began moving slowly towards Athens, capturing cities along the way. The Athenians, with no fleet, were powerless to oppose him. Only at Samos did Lysander meet resistance; the democratic government there, fiercely loyal to Athens, refused to give in, and Lysander left a besieging force behind him.
Xenophon reports that when the news of the defeat reached Athens,
...a sound of wailing ran from Piraeus through the long walls to the city, one man passing on the news to another; and during that night no one slept, all mourning, not for the lost alone, but far more for their own selves.
Fearing the retribution that the victorious Spartans might take on them, the Athenians resolved to hold out from the siege, but their cause was hopeless. Without a fleet to import grain from the Black Sea, and with the Spartan occupation of Deceleia cutting off land transportation, the Athenians were beginning to starve, and with people literally dying of hunger in the streets,the city surrendered in March 404 BC. The walls of the city were demolished, and a pro-Spartan oligarchic government was established (the so-called Thirty Tyrants' regime). The Spartan victory at Aegospotami marked the end of 27 years of war, placing Sparta in a position of complete dominance throughout the Greek world and establishing a political order that would last for more than thirty years.
The Spartans commemorated their victory with a dedication at Delphi of statues of the trierarchs who had fought in the battle. A verse inscription explained the circumstances:
The Peloponnesian War was an ancient Greek war fought by the Delian League led by Athens against the Peloponnesian League led by Sparta. Historians have traditionally divided the war into three phases. In the first phase, the Archidamian War, Sparta launched repeated invasions of Attica, while Athens took advantage of its naval supremacy to raid the coast of the Peloponnese and attempt to suppress signs of unrest in its empire. This period of the war was concluded in 421 BC, with the signing of the Peace of Nicias. That treaty, however, was soon undermined by renewed fighting in the Peloponnese. In 415 BC, Athens dispatched a massive expeditionary force to attack Syracuse, Sicily; the attack failed disastrously, with the destruction of the entire force in 413 BC. This ushered in the final phase of the war, generally referred to either as the Decelean War, or the Ionian War. In this phase, Sparta, now receiving support from the Achaemenid Empire, supported rebellions in Athens's subject states in the Aegean Sea and Ionia, undermining Athens's empire, and, eventually, depriving the city of naval supremacy. The destruction of Athens's fleet in the Battle of Aegospotami effectively ended the war, and Athens surrendered in the following year. Corinth and Thebes demanded that Athens should be destroyed and all its citizens should be enslaved, but Sparta refused.
Lysander was a Spartan admiral who commanded the Spartan fleet in the Hellespont which defeated the Athenians at Aegospotami in 405 BC. The following year, he was able to force the Athenians to capitulate, bringing the Peloponnesian War to an end. He then played a key role in Sparta's domination of Greece for the next decade until his death at the Battle of Haliartus.
Thrasybulus was an Athenian general and democratic leader. In 411 BC, in the wake of an oligarchic coup at Athens, the pro-democracy sailors at Samos elected him as a general, making him a primary leader of the successful democratic resistance to that coup. As general, he was responsible for recalling the controversial nobleman Alcibiades from exile, and the two worked together extensively over the next several years. In 411 and 410, Thrasybulus commanded along with Alcibiades and others at several critical Athenian naval victories.
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Conon was an Athenian general at the end of the Peloponnesian War, who led the Athenian naval forces when they were defeated by a Peloponnesian fleet in the crucial Battle of Aegospotami; later he contributed significantly to the restoration of Athens' political and military power.
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The Corinthian War was an ancient Greek conflict lasting from 395 BC until 387 BC, pitting Sparta against a coalition of four allied states, Thebes, Athens, Corinth, and Argos, backed by the Achaemenid Empire. The immediate cause of the war was a local conflict in northwest Greece in which both Thebes and Sparta intervened. The deeper cause was hostility towards Sparta, provoked by that city's "expansionism in Asia Minor, central and northern Greece and even the west". The Corinthian War followed the Peloponnesian War, in which Sparta had achieved hegemony over Athens and its allies.
The Battle of Cnidus, was an operation conducted by the Achaemenid Empire against the Spartan naval fleet during the Corinthian War. A fleet under the joint command of Pharnabazus and former Athenian admiral, Conon, destroyed the Spartan fleet led by the inexperienced Peisander, ending Sparta's brief bid for naval supremacy.
The Battle of Abydos was an Athenian naval victory in the Peloponnesian War. In the battle, the Spartan fleet under Mindarus attempted to rescue a small allied fleet that had been driven ashore at Dardanus, but was attacked by the Athenian fleet, under Thrasybulus. The fighting was evenly contested for a great length of time, but towards evening the arrival of Alcibiades with Athenian reinforcements tipped the balance in favor of the Athenians, and the Peloponnesians were forced to flee back to their base at Abydos, suffering heavy losses along the way.
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Thrasyllus was an Athenian strategos (general) and statesman who rose to prominence in the later years of the Peloponnesian War. First appearing in Athenian politics in 410 BC, in the wake of the Athenian coup of 411 BC, he played a role in organizing democratic resistance in an Athenian fleet at Samos. There, he was elected strategos by the sailors and soldiers of the fleet, and held the position until he was controversially executed several years later after the Battle of Arginusae.
Mindarus was a Spartan admiral who commanded the Peloponnesian fleet in 411 and 410 BC, during the Peloponnesian War. Successful in shifting the theatre of war into the Hellespont, he then experienced a string of defeats; in the third and final of these, he was killed and the entire Peloponnesian fleet was captured or destroyed.
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Eteonicus was a Spartan commander during the Peloponesian and Corinthian Wars. He participated in many key engagements, held important commands and is mentioned multiple times by Thucydides, Xenophon and Diodorus Siculus. His appearance in the record, however, is mostly episodic, with his roles not being particularly influential.
Hegesandridas or Agesandridas, son of a "Hegesander" or "Agesander", perhaps the same who is mentioned as a member of the last Spartan embassy sent to Athens before the Peloponnesian War, was himself a Spartan general in that war. In 411 BC he was placed in command of a fleet of 42 ships destined to further a revolt in Euboea. News of their being seen off Las of Laconia came to Athens at the time when the Four Hundred were building their fort of Eëtioneia on a promontory commanding Piraeus, and the coincidence was used by Theramenes in evidence of their treasonable intentions. Further intelligence that the same fleet had sailed over from Megara to Salamis coincided again with the riot in Piraeus, and was held to be certain proof of the allegation of Theramenes.
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