If men would examine how many are killed with weapons and how many eat and drink themselves to death, there would be found more dead from the cup and the kitchen than from the thrust of a sword. — Thomas More

Lysander

d. 395 BC
Civilization: Greek — Athens
   Field of Renown:  military — General
Era:  Golden Age

Lysander was a Spartan admiral and statesman who was very influential during the final years of the Peloponnesian War and for the decade following. He was thought to be the son of a helot mother and a Spartan father. It is not known how he rose to eminence: he first appears as admiral of the Spartan navy in 407 B.C., and two years later, he led the Spartans to a decisive victory at Aegospotami, and then blockaded the harbor at Athens until their surrender a year later. By 404 B.C. he was the most powerful man in the Greek world and set about completing the task of building up a Spartan empire. He was very influential in the replacement of democratic governments throughout Greece, with oligarchies under the control of Spartan governors.

naval battle
A NAVAL BATTLE
But Lysander's boundless influence, and the honours paid him, roused the jealousy of the kings and the ephors, and, on being accused by the Persian satrap Pharnabazus, he was recalled to Sparta. Soon afterwards he was sent to Athens with an army to aid the oligarchs, but Pausanias, one of the kings, followed him and brought about a restoration of democracy. On the death of Agis II., Lysander secured the succession of Agesilaus, whom he hoped to find amenable to his influence. But in this he was disappointed. Though chosen to accompany the king to Asia as one of his thirty advisers, he was kept inactive and his influence was broken by studied affronts, and finally he was sent at his own request as envoy to the Hellespont. He soon returned to Sparta to mature plans for overthrowing the hereditary kingship and substituting an elective monarchy, but his efforts were fruitless, and his schemes were cut short by the outbreak of war with Thebes. In 395 B.C., Lysander invaded Boeotia from the west, receiving the submission of Orchomenus and sacking Lebadea, but the enemy intercepted his despatch to Pausanias, who had meanwhile entered Boeotia from the south, containing plans for a joint attack upon Haliartus. The town was at once strongly garrisoned, and when Lysander marched against it he was defeated and slain. He was buried in the territory of Panopeus, the nearest Phocian city. An able commander and an adroit diplomatist, Lysander was fired by the ambition to make Sparta supreme in Greece and himself in Sparta. To this end he shrank from no treachery or cruelty; yet, like Agesilaus, he was totally free from the characteristic Spartan vice of avarice, and died, as he had lived, a poor man.

—Adapted from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica.


Key events during the life of Lysander:


Year
Event
407 BC
Assumed command of the Spartan Navy.
405 BC
Defeated Athens fleet at the battle of Aegospotami.
404 BC
Blockaded harbor of Athens until it surrendered.
-
Established oligarchies that were subject to Sparta, throughout Greece.
401 BC
On death of Agis II, supported Agesilaus to inherit the throne.
396 BC
Followed Agesilaus to Asia Minor to free Ionian colonies.
395 BC
Invaded Boeotia in eary battle of the Persian War, died at Battle of Haliartus

Other Resources


Story Links
Book Links
Eye of Greece  in  Pictures from Greek Life and Story  by  Alfred J. Church
Three Powers  in  Tales of the Greeks: The Children's Plutarch  by  F. J. Gould
Overthrow of the Thirty Tyrants  in  The Story of the Greeks  by  H. A. Guerber
Lysander  in  Famous Men of Greece  by  John H. Haaren and A. B. Poland
Lysander  in  Our Young Folks' Plutarch  by  Rosalie Kaufman
Antiochus Disobeys Alcibiades  in  The Story of Greece  by  Mary Macgregor
How the Long Walls Went Down  in  Historical Tales: Greek  by  Charles Morris
False and Cruel  in  Stories of the Ancient Greeks  by  Charles D. Shaw
Fall of Athens  in  The Story of the Greek People  by  Eva March Tappan


Contemporary
Short Biography
Callicratidas Spartan commander during the late Peloponnesian War. Sought peace, distained alliance with Persia.
Agesilaus Leader of Sparta after the Peloponnesian War. Campaigned in Asia Minor and warred with Thebes.
Conon Leading General of Athens at the end of the Peloponnesian War.
Pharnabazus Persian Satrap of Phrygia. Allied with Sparta near end of Peloponnesian War.