(Demosthenes the General)d. 413 BC
|MAP OF PYLOS AND SPHACTERIA|
Demosthenes the General was one of the most important military commanders of the Peloponnesian War. During the
first few years of the war he fought several battles near the gulf of Corinth, including the
invasion of Aetolia and the battle of Olpae. In 425 B.C.his fleet, which was on its way to Sicily,
landed on Pylos, an Island off the Peloponnesian mainland. Sparta's fleet landed on nearby Sphacteria,
and prepared to take the Athenian stronghold, but was repulsed. Meanwhile another fleet from Athens
came and destroyed the Spartan fleet, leaving over 400 Spartans stranded on Sphacteria. Demosthenes,
assisted by Cleon, was sent to capture them. The campaign was a success, the Spartans uncharacteristically surrendered, and
were all sent to Athens to be hostages.
Demosthenes was in favor of Peace with Sparta, and helped negotiate the Peace of Nicias in 421. Unfortunately
the peace did not last, and within a year, he was responsible for evacuating the Athenian army after their loss
at Mantinea. Finally, in 414 B.C. he was sent with a large auxiliary force to Syracuse, to help Nicias take the city.
The city was defended by a Spartan General, Gylippus, and had been strongly reinforced. Demosthenes decided on
an immediate attack, but was defeated. At that point, he recommended a retreat, but Nicias refused, possibly
because he feared returning to Athens after a defeat. They Syracusans blocked their exit to the harbor,
forcing the fleet to attempt to flee by land. They were pursued, and the entire army was captured. Gylippus
tried to spare Demonsthenes' life, but he was killed by the Syracusans.
Key events during the life of Demosthenes the General:
||Led a failed invasion into Aetolia. Later, defeated Spartans at the Battle of Olpae.
||At the Battle of Pylos-Sphacteria, captured Spartan hostages.
||Attempted to capture Megara but was repulsed by Brasidas.
||Signed the "Peace of Nicias", ending the first part of the Peloponnesian War.
||Evacuated Athenians from Epidaurus after they were defeated at the Battle of Mantinea.
||Sent to assist Nicias at Syracuse, but their fleet was defeated, and Demosthenes was captured and killed.
||War mongering politician, opposed Sparta's peace proposals.
||Eloquent Spartan general, turned tide of Peloponnesian War in Sparta's favor. Died at Amphipolis.
||After death of Pericles, emerged as leader of peace party. Led disastrous Sicilian Expedition.
||Lead the resistance in Syracuse that defeated Athenian forces during Peloponnesian War.