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8-10-2015, 16:22

Brasidas of Sparta

Military leader

Born: Date unknown; place unknown Died: 422 b. c.e.; Amphipolis, Macedonia Also known as: Brasidas, son of Tellis Category: Military

Life Brasidas (BRAS-uh-duhs), the finest Spartan general of the Archi-damian War (431-421 b. c.e.), first gained notice in 431 b. c.e., when he saved the city of Methone from Athenian assault. In subsequent years, he advised Spartan naval commanders, always advocating aggressive action, and gallantly led an unsuccessful landing attempt on Athenian-held Pylos.

In 424 b. c.e., he rescued the city of Megara from Athenian attack, then marched into Thrace, where he won over various communities, in particular the important Athenian colony of Amphipolis. In 423 b. c.e., he secured two more cities, Mende and Scione, but could not prevent the Athenians from besieging Scione or retaking Mende and other sites. However, when the Athenian leader Cleon went against Amphipolis in 422 b. c.e., Brasidas surprised his army and routed it with heavy losses, killing Cleon but losing his own life as well. Their deaths allowed the war-weary Athenians and Spartans to end hostilities, at least for the moment.

Influence Brasidas won Sparta’s only genuine successes of the Archi-damian War. The loss of Amphipolis grieved the Athenians for generations and resulted in the exile from Athens of the historian Thucydides, keeping him out of the war and allowing him to write much of his Historia tou Peloponnesiacou polemou (431-404 b. c.e.; History of the Peloponnesian War, 1550).

Further Reading

De Souza, Philip. The Peloponnesian War, 431-404 B. C. New York: Rout-ledge, 2003.

Hanson, Victor Davis. A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War. New York: Random House, 2005. Kagan, Donald. The Peloponnesian War. New York: Viking, 2003. Powell, Anton. Athens and Sparta. New York: Routledge, 1996. Thucydides. “History of the Peloponnesian War.” In The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War, edited by Robert B. Strassler. New York: Free Press, 1996.

Scott M. Rusch

See also: Archidamian War; Cleon of Athens; Peloponnesian Wars; Thucydides.