Sometimes small incidents, rather than glorious exploits, give us the best evidence of character. So, as portrait painters are more exact in doing the face, I must give particular attention to the marks of the souls of men. — Plutarch

Brasidas

d. 422 BC
Civilization: Greek — Sparta
   Field of Renown:  military — General
Era:  Golden Age

Brasidas was one of the most important Spartan generals in first decade of the Peloponnesian War. He won his first laurels by the relief of Methone, which was besieged by the Athenians (431 B.C.). Later (425) he distinguished himself in the assault on the Athenian position at Pylos, during which he was severely wounded. It was the following year, however, that he began a campaign of conquest in Thrace that brought Sparta some of its greatest successes in the war, and put them in a strong position during the negotiations of the Peace of Nicias in 421.

Brasidas
HE BECAME A TARGET FOR EVERY ARROW.
In 424 B.C. year, while Brasidas mustered a force at Corinth for a campaign in Thrace, he frustrated an Athenian attack on Megara, and immediately afterwards marched through Thessaly at the head of 700 helots and 1000 Peloponnesian mercenaries to join the Macedonian king Perdiccas. His good nature and excellent statesmanship helped him win many of the towns in the region to the Spartan cause. The most important of these was Amphipolis, which had previously been an ally of Athens. When Athens found out the Spartans were approaching Amphipolis they sent Thucydides with a fleet to intervene, but he did not arrive in time to save the city. It was for this offense that Thucydides, who later wrote the famous history of the Peloponnesian War, was exiled from Athens.

In the spring of 423 B.C. a truce was concluded between Athens and Sparta, but its effectiveness was at once imperilled by Brasidas's refusal to give up Scione. The town had revolted two days after the truce began and Brasidas shortly afterward occupied Mende. An Athenian fleet under Nicias and Nicostratus recovered Mende and blockaded Scione, which fell two years later (421 B.C.). In April 422 Cleon, leader of the war party in Athens was despatched to Thrace, where he prepared for an attack on Amphipolis. But a carelessly conducted reconnaissance gave Brasidas the opportunity for a vigorous and successful sally. The Athenian army was routed with a loss of 600 men and Cleon was slain. On the Spartan side only seven men are said to have fallen, but amongst them was Brasidas. He was buried at Amphipolis with impressive pomp, and for the future was regarded as the founder of the city and honoured with yearly games and sacrifices.

Brasidas united the personal courage characteristic of Spartans with those virtues in which the typical Spartan was most signally lacking. He was quick in forming his plans and carried them out without delay or hesitation, and with an oratorical power rare amongst the Lacedaemonians he combined a conciliatory manner which everywhere won friends for himself and for Sparta.

—Uses Excerpts from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica.


Key events during the life of Brasidas:


Year
Event
431 BC
Relieved the city of Methone from a surprise attack by Athens.
425 BC
Leads an assault on the Athenians at Pylos.
424 BC
Campaign in Thessaly and Thrace culminates in capture of Amphipolis.
423 BC
Torpedoed 'Peace' proposal between Athens and Sparta by refusing to give up the town of Scione.
421 BC
Died at the Battle of Amphipolis.

Other Resources


Story Links
Book Links
Peace Maker in  Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition  by  Alfred J. Church
Brasidas Loses His Shield  in  The Story of Greece  by  Mary Macgregor
Brasidas the Spartan  in  The Story of Greece  by  Mary Macgregor
Amphipolus Surrenders to Brasidas  in  The Story of Greece  by  Mary Macgregor
Struggle Between Athens and Sparta  in  The Story of the Greek People  by  Eva March Tappan


Image Links


He became a target for every arrow.
 in The Story of Greece


Contemporary
Short Biography
Thucydides Historian of Peloponnesian War. An Athenian general sent into exile after he failed a mission.
Archidamus Spartan King during the early years of Peloponnesian War. Sought peace with Athens, but was forced into the war.
Cleon War mongering politician, opposed Sparta's peace proposals.