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Conon

Conon

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Conon (bef. 444 BC – aft. 394 BC) was an Athenian
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...

 general at the end 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...

, who presided over the crucial Athenian naval defeat at Battle of Aegospotami
Battle of Aegospotami
The naval Battle of Aegospotami took place in 405 BC and was the last major battle of the Peloponnesian War. In the battle, a Spartan fleet under Lysander completely destroyed the Athenian navy...

; later he contributed significantly to the restoration of the political and military power.

Defeat at Aegospotami


Conon had been sent out following the recall of Alcibiades
Alcibiades
Alcibiades, son of Clinias, 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...

 in 406 BC, and pursued the Peloponnesian fleet under Lysander
Lysander
Lysander was a Spartan general who commanded the Spartan fleet in the Hellespont which defeated the Athenians at Aegospotami in 405 BC...

 to the Hellespont. There it took a strong defensive position at Lampsacus
Lampsacus
Lampsacus was an ancient Greek city strategically located on the eastern side of the Hellespont in the northern Troad. An inhabitant of Lampsacus was called a Lampsacene. The name has been transmitted in the nearby modern town of Lapseki.-Ancient history:...

 and the Athenians, as they could not lure them out, retreated to Aegospotami
Aegospotami
Aegospotami or Aegospotamos is a small river issuing into the Hellespont, northeast of Sestos. At its mouth was the scene of the decisive battle in 405 B.C...

. Alcibiades came to warn them of the danger of their position, as they were at an open beach without harbors, and advised them to move to Sestos
Sestos
200px|200px|thumb|The Ancient Map of Gallipoli PeninsulaSestos was an ancient Greek town of the Thracian Chersonese, the modern Gallipoli peninsula in European Turkey. Situated on the Hellespont opposite Abydos, it was the home of Hero in the legend of Hero and Leander, where according to legend...

 about two miles distant where they were retrieving supplies from, but was ignored and perhaps ridiculed.

On the fifth day of the stand-off, Lysander sent ahead scouts, who signalled the main army once the Athenian crews had disembarked to take their meals. Thus almost the entire navy was caught unprepared and captured without resistance, and all the men taken were put to death. It was generally believed that some kind of treachery was involved, but Conon himself was never implicated. His ship was one of nine which escaped the disaster, boldly rushing to Lampsacus where the Spartans had left their sails (as was typical before a naval battle) and so preventing any effective means of pursuit. The Paralus
Paralus (ship)
The Paralus was an Athenian sacred ship and a messenger trireme of the Athenian navy during the late 5th century BC. Its crew were known for their vehement pro-democracy views...

 returned to Athens, while Conon with the other eight ships fled to Evagoras
Evagoras
Evagoras was the king of Salamis in Cyprus. The son of Nicocles, a previous king of Salamis, he claimed descent from Teucer, the son of Telamon and half-brother of Ajax, and his family had long been rulers of Salamis, although during his childhood Salamis came under Phoenician control, which...

 of Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

, fearing the judgment of the Athenian commons.

Aftermath and later career


As a result of this victory, 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...

 defeated the Athenians and so attempted to carve out her own empire in the Aegean. Her relationship with Persia
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

 deteriorated, and she began raiding the satrapies of Pharnabazus and Tissaphernes
Tissaphernes
Tissaphernes was a Persian soldier and statesman, grandson of Hydarnes.In 413 BC he was satrap of Lydia and Caria, and commander in chief of the Persian army in Asia Minor...

 in modern Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

. By 397 BC, Pharnabazus had persuaded the emperor Artaxerxes
Artaxerxes II of Persia
Artaxerxes II Mnemon was king of Persia from 404 BC until his death. He was a son of Darius II of Persia and Parysatis.-Reign:...

 to prosecute the war by sea, and raised a fleet of 300 Phoenician and Cypriot ships. In sheer numbers they would be overwhelming, but they needed an experienced commander, and so they found Conon at Cyprus, who was only too happy for a chance to take revenge upon the Peloponnesians.

First Conon moved up to Caria
Caria
Caria was a region of western Anatolia extending along the coast from mid-Ionia south to Lycia and east to Phrygia. The Ionian and Dorian Greeks colonized the west of it and joined the Carian population in forming Greek-dominated states there...

 with a small portion of the fleet, where he was for a time blockaded but then rescued by Pharnabazus and Tissaphernes. He then proceeded to Rhodes
Rhodes
Rhodes is an island in Greece, located in the eastern Aegean Sea. It is the largest of the Dodecanese islands in terms of both land area and population, with a population of 117,007, and also the island group's historical capital. Administratively the island forms a separate municipality within...

, where the pro-Spartan oligarchy was replaced by a democracy, and managed to capture food supplies being sent up from Egypt. At this the Spartans decided to send out their navy, but made the mistake of entrusting it to Peisander
Peisander (general)
Peisander was a Spartan general during the Corinthian War. In 395 BC, he was placed in command of the Spartan fleet in the Aegean by his half-brother, the king Agesilaus II. Peisander was a relatively inexperienced general, and in the first action his fleet saw, at the Battle of Cnidus, the...

, who had no experience. The battle
Battle of Cnidus
The Battle of Cnidus , was a joint Athenian and Persian operation against the Spartan naval fleet in the Corinthian War. A combined Athenian-Persian fleet, led by the former Greek admiral Conon, destroyed the Spartan fleet led by the inexperienced Peisander, ending Sparta's brief bid for naval...

 took place at Cnidus in 394 BC, and was an easy and overwhelming Persian success. The Aegean cities expelled the Spartan garrisons and accepted Persian rule.

After this Conon felt it safe to return to Athens. Pharnabazus allowed him to retain part of the fleet, and supplied money for the fortification of the Piraeus
Piraeus
Piraeus is a city in the region of Attica, Greece. Piraeus is located within the Athens Urban Area, 12 km southwest from its city center , and lies along the east coast of the Saronic Gulf....

 and the reconstruction of the long walls
Long Walls
The Long Walls , in Ancient Greece, were walls built from a city to its port, providing a secure connection to the sea even during times of siege. Although long walls were built at several locations in Greece—Corinth and Megara being two of the best known examples—the phrase "long...

 joining it to the city. So some of the main results of the Peloponnesian War had been undone - Athens regained her position as a major power in Greece, and though she had still lost her empire, Sparta had been prevented from taking it over.

The next year the Spartans had opened negotiations with the Persians, and in order to secure their position in Greece offered to abandon all the cities in Asia to them. The Athenians sent delegates to announce this as unacceptable, which Tiribazus
Tiribazus
Tiribazus or Teribazus, a Persian general and Persian satrap of Western Armenia and later Lydia in western Anatolia.He was highly regarded by the Persian King Artaxerxes II, and when he was present, so Xenophon tells us, no one else had the honour of helping the sovereign to mount his horse.At the...

 understood to mean that they still hoped to recover their empire, and outraged by this about-face threw them in prison, Conon among them. When Tiribazus was replaced by Struthas
Struthas
Struthas was a Persian satrap for a brief period during the Corinthian War. In 392 BC, he was dispatched by Artaxerxes II to take command of the satrapy of Sardis, replacing Tiribazus, and to pursue an anti-Spartan policy...

, a bitter enemy of the Spartan king, Conon was allowed to escape, and died soon afterwards at Cyprus. His son Timotheus
Timotheus (general)
Timotheus was a Greek statesman and general who sought to revive Athenian imperial ambitions by making Athens dominant in a second Athenian Empire. He was the son of the Athenian general, Conon...

later became another prominent general.

Further reading

  • Duane A. March, "Konon and the Great King's Fleet," Historia (Franz Steiner Verlag) vol. 46, no. 3 (1997), 257-269.