Thrasyllus ( // ; Greek : Θράσυλλος; died 406 BC) 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.
Thrasyllus was only a hoplite (heavy infantryman) in the ranks in 410 BC, when Athenian oligarchic revolutionaries conspired with their counterparts at Samos in a coup at both locations, but was one of four Athenians (the others were Thrasybulus, Leon, and Diomedon) who the Samian democrats trusted for protection from the plot.These leaders were able to thwart the coup at Samos, but the coup at Athens was successful, leaving the democratically controlled fleet in opposition to its oligarchically controlled mother city. In the turmoil following these events, the generals at Samos were deposed by the soldiers and sailors of the fleet, and Thrasybulus and Thrasyllus were among those elected to replace them.
Thrasyllus continued to hold the position of strategos for several years, over a number of campaigns. Later in 410 BC, he led an Athenian fleet to attack rebellious cities on Lesbos. However, in doing so, he allowed Spartan Admiral Mindarus to slip past him into the Hellespont with the Spartan fleet in what historian Donald Kagan considers to be an error in strategic judgement.Thrasyllus pursued Mindarus with his fleet, and combined with other Athenian detachments at Sestos. From there, the Athenians (with Thrasybulus now in overall command) sailed into the Hellespont and defeated Mindarus's fleet at Cynossema, putting an end to the immediate crisis. Thrasyllus commanded a wing of the fleet in this battle and the later Athenian victory at Abydos, but then left on other detachments; after his departure Thrasybulus, Theramenes, and Alcibiades destroyed Mindarus and his fleet at Cyzicus.
Later in 410 BC, Thrasyllus returned home to Athens to raise more troops for further campaigning in the Aegean and elsewhere. While he was there, the Spartan king Agis led his army toward the walls of Athens, seeking to frighten the city into capitulating. Thrasyllus marched out with an Athenian army, which, although it did not challenge the Spartans away from the protection of its own walls, did succeed in picking off a number of stragglers when the Spartans withdrew.
The next summer, Thrasyllus sailed out from Athens with a sizable force to campaign in Ionia. There, he quickly captured Colophon and raided the Ionian countryside, but was defeated outside Ephesus by a combined Ephesian, Persian, and Syracusan force, and withdrew his troops first to Notium and then later to Lampsacus, where they joined the larger Athenian force operating in the Hellespont.Kagan has again criticized Thrasyllus' capabilities as a general in this campaign, arguing that Thrasyllus wasted time plundering when more decisive action could have led to the speedy capture of Ephesus, a major strategic prize.
At Lampsacus, Thrasyllus' troops, coming straight from an embarrassing defeat, were at first rejected by the troops who had served at Cynossema and Abydos, who forced them to camp apart. The tension between the groups was eventually dissolved after the Athenians launched an attack on Abydos, in which Thrasyllus commanded thirty ships; the Athenians defeated a Persian army in battle, but could not take the city.The newly united Athenian army did, however, succeed in retaking Chalcedon, Byzantium, and other cities in the Hellespont in the summer of 408 BC; Thrasyllus commanded detachments in several operations during this period. He then returned, along with most of the fleet and its commanders, to Athens, where Alcibiades, fresh from these victories, made his triumphal return to the city that had exiled him.
Thrasyllus did not hold a generalship in 407-6 BC,but was swept back into office in the following year, when Alcibiades and his political associates fell from power after the Athenian defeat at Notium. Thrasyllus remained home during the early part of his generalship, while Conon, another general, went out to Samos to take command of the fleet. He experienced some initial success in raiding enemy-held territory, but the tremendous financial support that the Spartans were receiving from the Persian prince Cyrus enabled them to expand their fleet until the Athenians were heavily outnumbered. Forced to sally forth from Samos with only 70 triremes to match the Spartans' 170, Conon was defeated in battle and bottled up in Mytilene, barely managing to send a trireme to Athens with the news of his predicament.
When news of this crisis reached Athens, the city found itself facing a desperate situation. To challenge the superior Peloponnesian fleet, the Athenians had only 40 ready triremes, and most of the experienced crews were at sea with Conon. To rebuild their fleet, the Athenians were forced to melt down golden religious statues from the acropolis, and the 110 ships the city possessed after this construction were crewed by a mix of less-experienced rowers, farmers, wealthy cavalrymen, and emancipated slaves. All eight generals who remained at Athens, Thrasyllus among them, sailed out with this scratch fleet; none is known to have served as supreme commander.The Athenian fleet, bolstered by 55 ships from allied cities, met a Spartan fleet of 120 ships under Callicratidas at the Arginusae islands, just south of Lesbos. In the resulting battle, the Athenians divided their fleet into 8 autonomous divisions, with Thrasyllus commanding the forward right wing; by limiting the opportunities for the Spartan crews to exercise their superior seamanship, the Athenians were able to wear their enemies down, and the day ended in a decisive Athenian victory. The remnants of the Peloponnesian fleet fled southward, leaving some 70 ships behind, and the blockading force at Mytilene, upon hearing of the result, also fled.
In the wake of this remarkable victory, the eight generals met and decided that all of their number, with the larger part of the fleet, would sail against the blockading force at Mytilene, while the trierarchs Thrasybulus and Theramenes remained with 47 ships to rescue the survivors of disabled Athenian ships.Shortly after the main force had departed, however, a severe storm blew up, and the detachment assigned to rescue duty was unable to carry out its responsibility. The result, for the sailors clinging to disabled and sinking ships, was a disaster; a great number of Athenians—estimates as to the precise figure have ranged from near 1,000 to as many as 5,000—drowned.
Soon after the news of this public tragedy reached Athens, a massive controversy erupted over the apportionment of blame for the botched rescue. The public was furious that the dead from the battle had not been recovered for burial (in the religious atmosphere of ancient Greece, this failing may have been almost as serious as abandoning the survivors in the eyes of the Athenian populace);the generals suspected that Thrasybulus and Theramenes, who had already returned to Athens, might have been responsible for stirring up the assembly against them, and so Thrasyllus and his colleagues wrote letters to the people denouncing the two trierarchs as responsible for the failed rescue. The trierarchs were called before the assembly to account for their actions, but they defended themselves capably, and the generals were deposed from their offices and recalled to Athens. Two fled, but Thrasyllus and five others returned to the city. Their defense initially met with a sympathetic response, but the festival of the Apaturia, on which families were supposed to meet for celebrations, provided an opportunity for their political enemies to remind the populace of the loss it had suffered. In a vicious and emotional meeting of the assembly the next day, the assembly, following the lead of the aggressive Callixeinus, tried the generals en masse and condemned them all to die. Although the Athenians soon came to regret their rash decision, it was too late for Thrasyllus and his comrades; all six were dead before the assembly had a chance to reconsider.
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.
This article concerns the period 409 BC – 400 BC.
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 ultimately successful democratic resistance to the 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 was in command along with Alcibiades and others at several critical Athenian naval victories.
Alcibiades, son of Cleinias /ˌælsəˈbaɪədiz/ Ancient Greek: Ἀλκιβιάδης, romanized:Alkibiádēs, [alkibiádɛːs];, from the deme of Scambonidae, was a prominent Athenian statesman, orator, and general. He was the last famous member of his mother's aristocratic family, the Alcmaeonidae, which fell from prominence after the Peloponnesian War. He played a major role in the second half of that conflict as a strategic advisor, military commander, and politician.
Theramenes was an Athenian statesman, prominent in the final decade of the Peloponnesian War. He was particularly active during the two periods of oligarchic government at Athens, as well as in the trial of the generals who had commanded at Arginusae in 406 BC. A moderate oligarch, he often found himself caught between the democrats on the one hand and the extremist oligarchs on the other. Successful in replacing a narrow oligarchy with a broader one in 411 BC, he failed to achieve the same end in 404 BC, and was executed by the extremists whose policies he had opposed.
The Battle of Aegospotami 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.
Pharnabazus II was a Persian soldier and statesman, and Satrap of Hellespontine Phrygia. He was the son of Pharnaces II of Phrygia and grandson of Pharnabazus I, and great-grandson of Artabazus I. He and his male ancestors, forming the Pharnacid dynasty, had governed the satrapy of Hellespontine Phrygia from its headquarters at Dascylium since 478 BC. He married Apama, daughter of Artaxerxes II of Persia, and their son Artabazus was likewise a satrap of Phrygia. His grand-daughter Barsine married Alexander the Great.
The naval Battle of Cyzicus took place in 410 BC during the Peloponnesian War. In the battle, an Athenian fleet commanded by Alcibiades, Thrasybulus, and Theramenes routed and completely destroyed a Spartan fleet commanded by Mindarus. The victory allowed Athens to recover control over a number of cities in the Hellespont over the next year. In the wake of their defeat, the Spartans made a peace offer, which the Athenians rejected.
The naval Battle of Cynossema took place in 411 BC during the Second Peloponnesian War. In the battle, an Athenian fleet commanded by Thrasybulus and Thrasyllus, although initially thrown on the defensive by a numerically superior Spartan fleet, won a narrow victory. This victory had an impact out of proportion to its tactical significance, coming when Athens' traditional democratic government had been replaced by an oligarchy and an Athenian defeat could have ended the war. The newly confident Athenian fleet proceeded to win two more victories in the Hellespont in quick succession, the second being the dramatic rout at Cyzicus, which ended the immediate Spartan threat to Athens' Black Sea lifeline.
The naval Battle of Arginusae took place in 406 BC during the Peloponnesian War near the city of Canae in the Arginusae islands, east of the island of Lesbos. In the battle, an Athenian fleet commanded by eight strategoi defeated a Spartan fleet under Callicratidas. The battle was precipitated by a Spartan victory which led to the Athenian fleet under Conon being blockaded at Mytilene; to relieve Conon, the Athenians assembled a scratch force composed largely of newly constructed ships manned by inexperienced crews. This inexperienced fleet was thus tactically inferior to the Spartans, but its commanders were able to circumvent this problem by employing new and unorthodox tactics, which allowed the Athenians to secure a dramatic and unexpected victory. Slaves and metics who participated in the battle were granted Athenian citizenship.
The Battle of Notium in 406 BC, was a Spartan naval victory in the Peloponnesian War. Prior to the battle, the Athenian commander, Alcibiades, left his helmsman, Antiochus, in command of the Athenian fleet, which was blockading the Spartan fleet in Ephesus. In violation of his orders, Antiochus attempted to draw the Spartans into battle by tempting them with a small decoy force. His strategy backfired, and the Spartans under Lysander scored a small but symbolically significant victory over the Athenian fleet. This victory resulted in the downfall of Alcibiades, and established Lysander as a commander who could defeat the Athenians at sea.
The Corinthian War was an ancient Greek conflict lasting from 395 BC until 387 BC, pitting Sparta against a coalition of 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 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 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.
The Battle of Mytilene was a battle fought in 406 BC between Athens and Sparta. The Spartans were victorious.
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.
The Athenian coup of 411 BC was the result of a revolution that took place during the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. The coup overthrew the democratic government of ancient Athens and replaced it with a short-lived oligarchy known as the Four Hundred.
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.
Strombichides was an Athenian admiral and politician who lived during the late 5th century BC.
Astyochus or Astyochos was a Spartan navarch who served as commander of the collective Spartan naval forces along the coast of Asia Minor from 412–411 BC. He is regarded by many contemporaries and modern scholars as a key reason for Sparta's early failures in the Ionian War. His expeditions consisting of involvements in Lesbos, Chios, Erythrae and Clazomenae all proved unsuccessful. He also refused requests for help from Chios, causing the Spartan administration to become increasingly dissatisfied with his leadership. Thucydides portrays Astyochus as timid and inept, and also depicts him often in conflict with his peers in Ionia. Toward the end of his role of commander, he exhibited great reluctance to attack the Athenians and also failed to properly pay his troops, leading to riots and violence, and eventually, his removal as commander in 412 BC, to be replaced by the Spartan Mindarus.