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Brasidas

Brasidas

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Brasidas (died 422 BC) was a Sparta
Sparta
Sparta or Lacedaemon, was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece, situated on the banks of the River Eurotas in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. It emerged as a political entity around the 10th century BC, when the invading Dorians subjugated the local, non-Dorian population. From c...

n officer during the first decade of the Peloponnesian War
Peloponnesian War
The Peloponnesian War, 431 to 404 BC, was an ancient Greek war fought by Athens and its empire against the Peloponnesian League led by Sparta. Historians have traditionally divided the war into three phases...

.

He was the son of Tellis and Argileonis, and won his first laurels by the relief of Methone
Methone
Methone can refer to:* Methone , one of the seven Alkyonides, daughters of the giant Alkyoneus in Greek mythology*Methone , a small moon of Saturn, discovered in 2004*Methoni, Messenia, a town in the prefecture of Messenia, Greece...

, which was besieged by the Athenians
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 (431 BC). During the following year he seems to have been eponym
Eponym
An eponym is the name of a person or thing, whether real or fictitious, after which a particular place, tribe, era, discovery, or other item is named or thought to be named...

ous ephor
Ephor
An ephor was the leader of ancient Sparta and shared power with the Spartan king...

 (Xen.
Xenophon
Xenophon , son of Gryllus, of the deme Erchia of Athens, also known as Xenophon of Athens, was a Greek historian, soldier, mercenary, philosopher and a contemporary and admirer of Socrates...

 Hell. ii. 3, 10), and in 429 he was sent out as one of the three commissioners (o'bu/3ovXoi) to advise the admiral Cnemus. As trierarch he distinguished himself in the assault on the Athenian position at the Battle of Pylos
Battle of Pylos
The naval Battle of Pylos took place in 425 BC during the Peloponnesian War at the peninsula of Pylos, on the Bay of Navarino in Messenia, and was an Athenian victory over Sparta...

, during which he was severely wounded (Thuc.
Thucydides
Thucydides was a Greek historian and author from Alimos. His History of the Peloponnesian War recounts the 5th century BC war between Sparta and Athens to the year 411 BC...

 iv. II. 12).

In the next year, while Brasidas mustered a force at Corinth
Corinth
Corinth is a city and former municipality in Corinthia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Corinth, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit...

 for a campaign in Thrace
Thrace
Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. As a geographical concept, Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east...

, he frustrated an Athenian attack on Megara
Megara
Megara is an ancient city in Attica, Greece. It lies in the northern section of the Isthmus of Corinth opposite the island of Salamis, which belonged to Megara in archaic times, before being taken by Athens. Megara was one of the four districts of Attica, embodied in the four mythic sons of King...

 (Thuc. iv. 70-73), and immediately afterwards marched through Thessaly
Thessaly
Thessaly is a traditional geographical region and an administrative region of Greece, comprising most of the ancient region of the same name. Before the Greek Dark Ages, Thessaly was known as Aeolia, and appears thus in Homer's Odyssey....

 at the head of 700 helots
Helots
The helots: / Heílôtes) were an unfree population group that formed the main population of Laconia and the whole of Messenia . Their exact status was already disputed in antiquity: according to Critias, they were "especially slaves" whereas to Pollux, they occupied a status "between free men and...

 and 1000 Peloponnesian mercenaries to join the Macedon
Macedon
Macedonia or Macedon was an ancient kingdom, centered in the northeastern part of the Greek peninsula, bordered by Epirus to the west, Paeonia to the north, the region of Thrace to the east and Thessaly to the south....

ian king Perdiccas
Perdiccas II of Macedon
Perdiccas II was a king of Macedonia from about 454 BC to about 413 BC. He was the son of Alexander I and had two brothers.-Background:After the death of Alexander in 452, Macedon began to fall apart. Macedonian tribes became almost completely autonomous, and were only loosely allied to the king...

. Refusing to be made a fool for the furtherance of Perdiccas's ambitions, Brasidas set about the accomplishment of his main object, and, partly by the rapidity and boldness of his movements, partly by his personal charm and the moderation of his demands, succeeded during the course of the winter in winning over the important cities of Acanthus
Acanthus (Greece)
Ierissos Modern Greek: or Acanthus was an ancient Greek city on the Athos peninsula. It was located on the north-east side of Akti, on the most eastern peninsula of Chalcidice...

, Stagirus, Amphipolis
Amphipolis
Amphipolis was an ancient Greek city in the region once inhabited by the Edoni people in the present-day region of Central Macedonia. It was built on a raised plateau overlooking the east bank of the river Strymon where it emerged from Lake Cercinitis, about 3 m. from the Aegean Sea. Founded in...

 and Toroni
Toroni
Toroni is an ancient Greek city and a former municipality in the southwest edge of Sithonia peninsula in Chalkidiki, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Sithonia, of which it is a municipal unit.-History:...

 as well as a number of minor towns. An attack on Eion was foiled by the arrival of Thucydides
Thucydides
Thucydides was a Greek historian and author from Alimos. His History of the Peloponnesian War recounts the 5th century BC war between Sparta and Athens to the year 411 BC...

, the historian, at the head of an Athenian squadron. In the spring of 423 a truce was concluded between Athens and Sparta, but its operation was at once imperiled by the city of Scione
Nea Skioni
Nea Skioni is a tourist-oriented village located in the peninsulas of Cassandreia and Halkidiki in Greece. The population in 2001 was 889 for the village and 910 for the municipal district, the elevation is 10 m. Nea Skioni is located around 110 km SE of Thessaloniki...

, which it transpired had come over to Brasidas two days after the truce began, which led to the Athenian requiring it to be returned to them. Brasidas refused to return Scione; and also accepted the revolt of Mende shortly afterwards.

An Athenian fleet under Nicias
Nicias
Nicias or Nikias was an Athenian politician and general during the period of the Peloponnesian War. Nicias was a member of the Athenian aristocracy because he had inherited a large fortune from his father, which was invested into the silver mines around Attica's Mt. Laurium...

 and Nicostratus
Nicostratus
Nicostratus may refer to:* Against Nicostratus, an oration by Demosthenes* On the Estate of Nicostratus, an oration by Isaeusin fiction and mythology:* Nicostrato the painter, a character in Boccaccio's Decameron...

 recovered Mende and blockaded Scione, which fell two years later (421 BC). Meanwhile Brasidas joined Perdiccas in a campaign against Arrhabaeus, king of the Lyncesti, who was severely defeated. On the approach of a body of Illyria
Illyria
In classical antiquity, Illyria was a region in the western part of the Balkan Peninsula inhabited by the Illyrians....

ns, who, though summoned by Perdiccas, unexpectedly declared for Arrhabaeus, the Macedonians fled, and Brasidas's force was rescued from a critical position only by his coolness and ability. This brought to a head the quarrel between Brasidas and Perdiccas, who promptly concluded a treaty with Athens, of which some fragments have survived (I.G. i. 42).

In April 422 the truce with Sparta expired, and in the same summer Cleon
Cleon
Cleon was an Athenian statesman and a Strategos during the Peloponnesian War. He was the first prominent representative of the commercial class in Athenian politics, although he was an aristocrat himself...

 was dispatched to Thrace, where he stormed Toroni
Toroni
Toroni is an ancient Greek city and a former municipality in the southwest edge of Sithonia peninsula in Chalkidiki, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Sithonia, of which it is a municipal unit.-History:...

 and Galepsus
Galepsus
Galepsus was an ancient Greek city on the peninsula of Sithonia, the central peninsula of the Chalcidice, in Thrace. It was probably located on a hill about 8 km to the north of Torone and about 17 km from Amphipolis. It belonged to Delian League. It was founded as a colony of Thasos...

 and prepared for an attack on Amphipolis. When Cleon brought part of his army forward to probe the defenses, Brasidas recognized an opportunity to defeat his superior force in detail
Defeat in detail
Defeat in detail is a military phrase referring to the tactic of bringing a large portion of one's own force to bear on small enemy units in sequence, rather than engaging the bulk of the enemy force all at once...

. Brasidas' plan for his final victory was typical of his campaigns in Thrace. It was a boldly aggressive surprise attack aimed to throw the enemy into confusion and it made the best possible use of both his small force of Spartan hoplites and his allies who made up the bulk of his army, in this case mostly Edonians from the city of Myrcinus.
Brasidas personally led the Spartans in a sudden charge from Amphipolis, routing the left wing of the Athenian army. His allies sallied from the northeastern gate and attacked from the north, breaking the enemy's right wing. Edonian and Chalcidian cavalry and light infantry pursued the fleeing Athenians, killing 600 men, including Cleon. On the Spartan side only seven fatalities are reported, but one of them was Brasidas, who was mortally wounded at the head of his troops. He was buried at Amphipolis with impressive pomp, and for the future was regarded as the founder (oikistes
Oikistes
When a Greek polis chose to settle a new colony , an individual - the oikistes - was chosen as leader and invested with the power of selecting a settling place, directing the initial labors of the colonists and guiding the fledgling colony through its hard early years....

) of the city and honored with yearly games and sacrifices (see Battle of Amphipolis
Battle of Amphipolis
The Battle of Amphipolis was fought in 422 BC during the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. It was the culmination of events that began in 424 BC with the capture of Amphipolis by the Spartans.-Capture of Amphipolis, 424–423 BC:...

; Thuc. iv. 78-v. II). At Sparta a cenotaph
Cenotaph
A cenotaph is an "empty tomb" or a monument erected in honour of a person or group of people whose remains are elsewhere. It can also be the initial tomb for a person who has since been interred elsewhere. The word derives from the Greek κενοτάφιον = kenotaphion...

 was erected in his memory near the tombs of Pausanias
Pausanias (general)
Pausanias was a Spartan general of the 5th century BC. He was the son of Cleombrotus and nephew of Leonidas I, serving as regent after the latter's death, since Leonidas' son Pleistarchus was still under-age. Pausanias was also the father of Pleistoanax, who later became king, and Cleomenes...

 and Leonidas, and yearly speeches were made and games celebrated in their honor, in which only Spartiates could compete..
Ch. Koukouli-Chrysanthaki in her three decade research at Amphipolis offers evidence of the recovery and identification of Brasidas' burial at the ancient Amphipolis' agora .

Thucydides' characterization of Brasidas suggests that Brasidas united in himself the stereotypical Spartan courage with those virtues in which regular Spartans were most signally lacking. Brasidas was apparently quick in forming his plans and carried them out without delay or hesitation. Furthermore, the rhetoric in speech of Brasidas to the Acanthians is of noticeably higher quality than the other Spartan speeches recorded by Thucydides (Thuc. iv. 84-89).

See in particular Thucydides; what Diodorus
Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus was a Greek historian who flourished between 60 and 30 BC. According to Diodorus' own work, he was born at Agyrium in Sicily . With one exception, antiquity affords no further information about Diodorus' life and doings beyond what is to be found in his own work, Bibliotheca...

 xii. adds is mainly oratorical elaboration or pure invention. A fuller account will be found in the histories of Greece (e.g. those of George Grote
George Grote
George Grote was an English classical historian, best known in the field for a major work, the voluminous History of Greece, still read.-Early life:He was born at Clay Hill near Beckenham in Kent...

, Karl Julius Beloch
Karl Julius Beloch
Karl Julius Beloch was a German classical and economic historian.In 1870 he moved to Italy for health reasons, where he subsequently studied in Palermo and Rome. In 1875 he received his doctorate from the University of Heidelberg...

, Georg Busolt, Meyer) and in G. Schimmelpfeng, De Brasidae Spartani rebus gestis atque ingenio (Marburg, 1857).

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