- Agesilaus – Second son of King Agis II, made king in large part due to the influence Lysander exerts. They have a falling out in Asia Minor over who wields the influence.
- Callicratidas – Lysander’s temporary replacement. A Spartan’s Spartan who won’t fawn to the Persians for power and money. He dies in battle against the Athenians at the Battle of Arginusae.
- Gylippus – the same Gylippus from the Life of Nicias, though he is corrupted by the money Lysander entrusts him with.
- Cyrus – Second son of the Persian King Artaxerxes, Cyrus is sent out to deal with the Greek problems at the edge of the Empire. He befriends Lysander and funds the Spartan navy to weaken and ultimately destroy the Athenians in the Peloponnesian War.
- Pharnabazus – Satrap of Phrygia whom we first met in the Life of Alcibiades, he allies himself with the Spartans and is much more trustworthy than his rival satrap, Tissaphernes of Caria. He will later be at odds with Agesilaus when that Spartan King invades the Persian Empire.
- Alcibiades – The talented and unscrupulous Athenian general whose second exile causes his good advice to be ignored before the Spartan victory at Aegos Potami.
Ephesus – the conquered city in Asia Minor which Lysander sets back on its feet, laying the foundation, according to Plutarch, of centuries of prosperity for the city.
Aegos Potami – Small river flowing into the Hellespont near which the Athenians encamped. Lysander lures the Athenians into complacency over four days and then attacks on the fifth day, destroying all but a handful of ships from the Athenian navy.
C. 1 – Mistaken Identity and Long Hair
- The statue of Brasidas at Delphi is actually Lysander, who grew his hair and beard out.
- Other theories as to why the Spartans have long hair are all wrong; they kept long hair because Lycurgus thought it made ugly men fiercer and handsome men better looking.
C. 2 – Natural Character and Upbringing
- Descended from the Heraclidae, but raised in poverty and having a Spartan temper: loving only virtue and holding himself superior to every pleasure.
- Ambition and emulation planted in him firmly by his early Spartan training, grafted on to his naturally gifted personality.
- YET, he seemed naturally subservient (mores than a normal Spartan) when he needed to gain his own ends. He also had a tendency toward depression like Socrates, Plato, and Heracles (cf. Aristotle Prob. 30.1)
- Bore poverty well and never mastered by money, but the gold and silver he brought into Sparta ruined her, though he kept none of it for himself.
- Dionysius the tyrant sends costly robes as gifts, these gifts rejected. Later he accepts two robes in person, hoping his daughter will choose the better one.
C. 3 – Lysander in Ephesus
- After the Sicilian expedition, it seems like Athens can’t hold on for very long, but Alcibiades returns and brings back Athenian glory.
- Lysander sent out as admiral (408 BC) and when he arrives in Ephesus, he finds enough support there to overthrow the Persian overlords.
- He orders all merchants in the area to bring their trade to Ephesus and Eph experiences an economic revival that redounds to Plutarch’s own day.
C. 4 – Persian Power Swing
- Cyrus succeeds Tisaphernes as satrap of Lydia as Tiss has been trying to weaken both Athens and Sparta.
- Lycurgus complains of this treatment to Cyrus and wins the approval of Cyrus, so that Cyrus changes tack and helps JUST the Spartans.
- Just before Cyrus leaves, he asks Lysander to ask for anything he wants. Lysander requests higher pay for his sailors (4 obols, instead of 3).
- Cyrus gives him 10,000 drachmas from which he adds to his men’s pay and sows dissent and mutiny in the enemy navies.
- Still L won’t engage in a naval battle because Alc’s fleet is larger and Alc is still undefeated on land and sea.
C. 5 – Alcibiades’s fall and Lysander’s rise
- In Alc’s absense, Antiochus taunts the Spartans into a battle in which he loses.
- Lys captures 15 ships and sets up a trophy, causing the Athenians to blame Alc. and remove him from his command.
- Lysander starts planting pro-Spartan oligarchs around Ephesus and fomenting revolutions against the democracies that naturally leaned more towards Athens.
- Lysander allows all kinds of corrupt practices to those who are his allies, strengthening their ties with him.
- So that when Lysander is replaced by Callicratidas, the transition of power is rough for both parties as the latter practices more of the Doric simplicity and sincerity.
C. 6 – Callicratidas vs Lysander
- Lysander returns the money he hadn’t yet spent to Cyrus (rather than handing it over to Callicratidas), tell Cal to ask for it himself from Cyrus.
- Lysander tells Cal to stand witness to current Spartan domination over the sea. Cal offers to sail past Samos, the current Athenian naval base in the area, if the Spartans really are master of the sea.
- Lysander responds that he is no longer admiral. But now Cal can’t do much, having now money and unable to exact much from the neighboring cities.
- So, Cal goes to Cyrus and is first told Cyrus is at his wine, and Cal tries to wait for him to be done only to be mocked by the Persians.
- He was refused again when asking for an audience and left, enraged.
- Cal swears to bring the Greeks together so that they can punish the pride of the barbarians.
C. 7 – Lysander Returns
- Cal dies in battle (Arginousae, cf. Socrates and Alcibiades?) and allies request the return of Lysander.
- Cyrus seconds the request but Spartan law stands in the way, preventing the same man from serving as admiral twice. So, they sent a titular admiral with Lysander as second-in-command, but really wielding power and influence for the oligarchs in the cities of Asia Minor.
- Lysander’s leadership style contrasts sharply with Cal’s since Ly seems more driven by profit and advantage than honor and truth.
- “Where the lion’s skin will not reach, it must be patched with the fox’s”
C. 8 – Perfidious Lysander
- Miletus provided as an example of his duplicity, agreeing to a truce publicly, but fomenting a revolt privately.
- When the revolt begins, he cuts it off sharply in its early stages and reassures everyone that he can broker the peace and reassuring even the revolutionaries (of the democratic persuasion).
- All who trusted him and laid down their arms were slaughtered. He was reckless even in oaths.
- Androcleides reports that he cheats boys in dice and men in oaths, but Plutarch comments how dangerous this is to show fear of one’s enemies but hatred for the gods (god used in singular the second time… perhaps a reference to the singular god you’ve taken the oath by).
C. 9 – Lysander’s Show of Power
- Cyrus promises Lysander all the money he needs (cf. Xen. 1.5.2-3), to the point of melting down his throne if necessary.
- Cyrus leaves Lysander in charge while he goes to visit his father the King (Darius II), with the express command not to engage the Athenians. Lysander instead just attacks Salamis and Aegina (in the Saronic Gulf) as a show of force. (Xen. reports this as happening right before Lys. Besieged Athens cf. Hell. 2.2.9)
- Then he lands in Attica to greet Agis at Deceleia and show off the fleet to the Athenians, but when he hears that they are pursuing him, he heads off to the Hellespont, now unguarded.
- He attacks Lampsacus by land and sea, plundering it as the Athenians arrive at Elaeus and find safe harbor at Sestos (across the straits).
- Once the Aths had gathered supplies, they sail to Aegospotomi. One of their generals, Philocles, had recently passed a law to cut off the right thumb of prisoners of war to prevent them from wielding a spear but still keep them useful with an oar. (cf. Lys. 13.1)
C. 10 – Lysander’s Ploy at Aegospotomai
- Lysander ordered infantry and sailors drawn up ready for battle early in the morning, silently ready.
- When the Athenians approach for battle, the Spartans don’t move from their position to give battle in open water,
- so the Athenians sail back to their position around noon. Lysander does this for three straight days and the Athenians conclude that the Spartans are afraid on the fourth day.
- Alcibiades comes down from his castle on the Thracian Chersonese to chide the generals for two mistakes: first their exposed position and distance from easy access to supplies and second their distance from Sestos
- If they harbored near Sestos, they’d have more time to react to whatever Lysander was planning. One of the Athenian generals rejects him and his rebuke, reminding him that he is no longer general. (cf. Alc. 36.4-37.1; Hell. 2.1.20-26)
C. 11 – The Trap is Sprung
- On the fifth day, the Athenians sail up, carelessly ready for battle, and then return around noon to their ships. Lysander sends a ship forward with a bronze shield as the signal to engage.
- After encouraging his troops, the shield is lifted and the Spartan close quickly on the Athenian position.
- Kanon, the first AThenian general to notice, shouted orders and forced some men to board the Athenian ships (cf. Odysseus in Book 2 of the Iliad).
- The men had already scattered at this point, some to the market, some to nap in their tents, some for a walk, and some getting supper ready.
- Kanon escapes with 8 ships and flees to Cyprus (King Evagoras?), almost everyone else was cut down trying to man his ship or before he even knew what was happening.
- Lys took 3000 prisoners and the entire fleet, except for the Paralus and the ships that had escaped with Conon (sp?). He had done great work with minimal effort and ended in a single hour of war like no other before it.
- This war had 10,000 vicissitudes, had cost Greece more generals than all previous wars, yet ended by the prudence and ability of one man, which some credit to divine intervention.
C. 12 – The Meteor
- Some claimed to have seen Castor and Pollux (aka Dioscouroi) as twin stars on either side of Lysander’s ship, and others believe the meteor had foretold this disaster by falling at Aegospotomi.
- They still show the meteor in the Chersonese to this day. Anaxagoras explained it as a piece of a heavenly body shaken out of orbit and falling down to earth.
- Plutarch presents a more plausible opinion that this is a relatively common phenomenon of falling heavenly bodies but that they fall mostly in uninhabited regions of the earth or in the sea and thus aren’t noticed.
- Daimachus agrees with Anaxagoras (and thus disagree with Plutarch). In his treatise, he claims that for 75 days before the meteor fell there was a fiery body in the heavens, moving erratically, and it shot off sparks that looked just like shooting stars.
- After it made impact, when the inhabitants gathered around the meteor, they no longer saw any sign of fire or flame.
- This story at least refutes those who think these rocks are torn from mountaintops and borne along by high winds until the upper atmospheric winds die down and drop the stone.
- The fire surrounding the rock could have changed the quality of the air around it, but this kind of discussion is best for another type of writing.
C. 13 – Lysander’s Abuse of Power
- Lysander puts 3000 Athenians to death after a trial under the Spartans and their allies, and then calls Philocles to account for advising the Athenians to cut off the thumbs (Xen. Disagrees that this was the reason: cf. Hell. 2.1.31)
- The noble death of Philocles and Lysander threatens any Athenian caught outside Athens with death, so they all scurry home.
- He wanted to drive as many Athenians into the city to force starvation on them faster when he besieged them. He also left a Spartan harmost behind in each city to enforce a transition from democracies to oligarchies in all poleis.
- Sailed along slowly, ensuring that he Sparta supreme over the Greek poleis. He had a habit of handing power over to his friends and supporters and sometimes even participated personally in massacres to drive out the enemies of his friends.
- Plutarch strongly disapproves of this example and refers to a comic poet who compares Lys to an unscrupulous barmaid who allows one sip of freedom and then pours vinegar in the cup. Lysander bitter from the first, giving power to the boldest and most petulant leaders.
C. 14 – Capitulation and Treaty
- Lys meets up with the Spartan kings in Deceleia and thinks he can bring Athens down quickly. When this doesn’t happen, he returns to Asia and suppresses any remaining governments resisting him, including the Samians (Xen disagrees with the timeline here).
- He banished the Sestians and handed over the whole town to his naval captains and lower officers. This was the first step the Spartans themselves rejected.
- Some things he did were good: Giving the Aeginetans back their island (they’d been banished for 27 years from it), the Malians returned to their island (ca. 416 banished and depopulated), and the Scionaeans (ca. 421 BC). Then hearing that Athens was suffering under famine, he returned to the siege.
- The ephors tell Lys the terms of treaty: tear down long walls, stay in Attica, restore your exiles and you shall have peace.
- The ephors leave it up to Lysander as to how many ships to leave the Athenians. Theramenes argues the Athenians should accept the terms, but someone brings up Themistocles, who began the walls that had defended them for so long.
- Theramenes response (quoted): “The same walls which he put up to save the city will also be torn down for the same reason. If walls make cities prosperous, Sparta is the poorest.”
C. 15 – Walls, Navy, and Government in Ruins
- Lysander leaves the Athenians 12 ships and on the anniversary of the Battle of Salamis, Lysander begins to alter the Athenian government.
- The Athenians still resisted and were slow to tear down their walls, a proposal is floated to the allies to sell the Athenians into slavery.
- When the allies gathered at a banquet to discuss the matter, a poet recited lines from Euripides’s Electra that made them all regret every harming a city which could produce such poets.
- Lysander assembles flute-girls and tears down the wall and burns the ships amongst much merry-making and feasting of the Spartans and their allies.
- Lysander establishes 30 oligarchs, garrisons the Acropolis with Spartan soldiers. Autolycus and the Spartan harmost, Callibius, have a fight in which Autolycus bests Callibius, and the 30 later put Autolycus to death (cf. the main character of Xenophon’s Symposium).
C. 16 – Skimming Silver
- Lysander leaves for Thrace, giving all the money and prizes he had collected to Gylippus, who sneaks some silver from each bag unaware that each bag has a note specifying how much money it contains.
- Gylippus arrives back in Sparta, hiding the wealth under his roof tiles and delivering the money to the ephors. When the ephors can’t understand why the amounts differ, Gylippus’s slave tells them a riddle about many owls sleeping under Gylippus’s roof. Most coins had owls on them because of the recent Athenian supremacy (and silver mines).
C. 17 – Love of Money…
- Gylippus flees from Sparta and the wisest citizens ask the ephors to purge the city of gold and silver as they would a curse.
- The call to return to the iron money which had been dipped in vinegar, making it unable to be heated up, and it was unwieldy to carry and use.
- Etymology of obol – all the money used to be in the form of spits, six making up a drachma which was as many as the hand could hold.
- Lysander’s friends resist the measure to reject the gold and silver, the ephors decide to use it for the public good. If any private citizen found in possession of the gold, he would be put to death. Plutarch sees this as fearing the coins themselves rather than the covetousness that comes with them.
- If money is publicly honored, who would not privately want it? Public practices also more quickly infect private customs than do individual vices corrupt entire cities.
- The disease of the whole necessarily affects every part, whereas one part spreading to the whole still allows for many remedies. Thus wealth became a noble object of pursuit first for the magistrates and then immediately afterwards for private citizens.
C. 18 – Pride and Poetry
- Lysander dedicates statues of himself and his admirals along with two stars representing Castor and Pollux. These stars disappear before the Battle of Leuctra. Cyrus also sends a trireme made of gold and ivory stored in the treasury of Brasidas.
- One writer claims that Lysander stored his own wealth there, which goes against the other reports of both his poverty and his pride.
- He was the first Greek to whom other cities erected altars and prayers as to a god.
- The Samians rename their festival of Hera after Lysander. Lysander keeps a poet with him to memorialize his achievements in verse. When another poet wrote some verses about him, Lysander responded by filling his hat with silver and sending him away.
- Another poet who lost a poetic competition judged by Lysander was consoled by his friend Plato who said the ignorant are the main ones who suffer from their own ignorance.
C. 19 – Lysander’s Tyranny
- Lysander’s ambition before had been annoying, but this recent rise made him unrestrained. He rewarded his friends with absolute power over cities and the only punishment fitting for his enemies was death, not even exile.
- He swears an oath he will do not harm to the Milesian democratic supporters. As they come forward he hands them over (800 of them) for execution.
- He killed many, not just for personal reasons, but to slake the vengeance and avarice of his friends. Some said the same of Alcibiades.
- Lysander more cruel than Alcibiades, who was just insolent. Finally Pharnabazus (satrap) complains of Lysander’s behavior to the Spartan ephors and they order him home, after putting one of his friends to death for secretly harboring gold.
- Scroll allowing for secret messages: both the ephors and the general sent out on campaign have a stick of exactly the same dimensions, length and thickness.
- When they need to send a message, they wrap a thin piece of parchment around the stick, top to bottom, and write their message on that. Then, they can remove the parchment and send only the message, since the “decoder” stick is owned by the dispatched general.
- When the general receives it, he wraps it around his own stick and thus can read the otherwise garbled message.
C. 20 – Liars Lying to Liars
- Lysander asks Pharnabazus to send another note denying his original complaints.
- Pharnabazus promises to do so, but composes a fake letter which he shows to Lysander but does not send.
- Lysander carries what he thinks is the complimentary letter back to Sparta and shows it to the ephors hoping to be exonerated. The Spartans respect Pharnabazus as their most faithful ally during the war against Athens.
- The ephors show him the letter and Lysander realizes that not just Odysseus can be crafty. He then makes the excuse that he must go to Ammon (in Egypt) to fulfill a promise he’d made before his battles.
- Some say Ammon appeared to him when he was besieging a city in Thrace and that Lysander lifted the siege and was zealous to appease the god.
- Most don’t believe this story and see the trip as a pretext to distance himself from the control of the Ephors.
C. 21 – Lysander at Athens, again!
- Now the kings realize that everywhere that Sparta was in power it was really just the friends of Lysander who were in power, so they had to begin cleaning this up.
- The Athenians overthrow the Thirty, bringing Lysander rushing back, now as general bringing with him 100 talents to punish the Athenians yet again.
- The kings were afraid of Lysander’s growing power and so Pausanias arrives with an army theoretically supporting the thirty tyrants but really there to broker a peace that works.
- The Athenians revolt a little while later and then Pausanias looks bad and Lysander looks good for insisting on oligarchical control of Athens.
C. 22 – Lysander and Spartan Succession
- He could be harsh in speech, too, terrifying the Argives once by pointing to his sword and claiming whoever controls that should dispute about borders.
- Threatens to march through Boeotia with spears leveled. Even shamed his own men when they came to the walls of Corinth and a rabbit seemed more intrepid than they in getting to the wall.
- King Agis dies, leaving a brother, Agesilaus (next life!) and a son, Leotychides. Lysander supports Agesilaus as a genuine descendant of Heracles. Leo was likely a son of Alcibiades.
- Agis, on his deathbed, finally acknowledged Leo as his own son.
- An oracle also speaks against his lameness (cf. Ages. 2.2) claiming it would maim the kingdom to have a lame king.
- Lysander re-interprets the oracle to mean those who don’t know their parentage would maim the polis.
C. 23 – Jealousy Among Equals
- Lysander wants to convince Agesilaus to go to Asia Minor immediately.
- Lysander’s friend request Agesilaus’s presence to help fight the Persians.
- Once they arrive, Lysander is not treated like a dependable advisor but, because he is once again among friends, as the most influential Spartan whom everyone approaches.
- As in tragedies everyone pays most attention to the messengers and servants and ignore the king, so too in life did Agesilaus and Lysander look like his.
- Plutarch thinks Agesilaus reacts too harshly to Lysander by casting him off, rather than just putting him in second place where he belonged. He didn’t give Lysander other choices or commands, and then began to ignore those whom Lysander sent to him, undoing the influence Lysander once enjoyed.
- Lysander starts to ask his friends not to come to him for anything when he realizes Agesilaus ignores everything he suggests or sends.
- While they don’t ask him for favors, Lysander is still thronged with admirers and friends who wish to honor him, continuing to annoy Agesilaus. So Agesilaus appoints Lysander to be the “carver of meats” at his table.
- Lysander complains alone to Agesilaus of his humiliation and Agesilaus reminds him to share the power he has.
- Lysander asks for a useful post and to be sent away.
C. 24 – Constitutional Reforms?
- Lysander goes to the Hellespont and brings a defector from Persia over to the Spartan side.
- Agesilaus ignored Lysander who later sailed home having accomplished almost nothing, and so he came back fuming and with new plans.
- The descendants of Heracles now formed a large clan, even though only two families of these Heraclidae inherited the Spartan throne, the Eurypontids and the Agids.
- Lysander was a descendant of Heracles but not of the royal family and so he proposed to take the kingly rule away from those two families and share it equally amongst all the Heraclidae, electing the most capable king.
- Some say he wanted to open the monarchy up to any Spartan and make it strictly based on merit, as Heracles had earned his godlike status this way, and that he hoped to be chosen as king himself.
C. 25 – Setting the Stage
- He memorizes a speech composed for him by a Halicarnassian and even brings in deus ex machina
- By collecting oracles and responses from Apollo to overpower his fellow Spartans with superstition and religious awe.
- Lysander attempts to corrupt the three most important oracles: Dodona, Delphi, and Ammon. The Libyans renounce him to the Spartans but Lysander is acquitted of the charges.
- Lysander lays out and follows his plan like a mathematician pursuing a proof.
C. 26 – Training the Actors
- A woman in Pontus claimed to have been impregnated by Apollo and she names the son Silenus. People are mixed in their reactions, but Lysander uses this for his own purposes.
- Secret oracles lie in Delphi waiting a son of Apollo to go claim them, prove his ancestry, and bring them back to Sparta.
- Once Silenus comes of age, is tested by the priests, and handed the oracles, he must read them all in front of witnesses but particularly the one about the Spartans choosing their kings from among the best citizens.
- Just as Silenus was of age, Lysander’s plan comes to nothing because one of his actor’s backs out from cowardice, though this scheme was unknown until after Lysander’s death.
C. 27 – Lysander and Thebes
- Lysander dies before Agesilaus must return home to Greece to fight a new coalition that has formed against the Spartans (Thebes, Corinth, and Athens all united in a war from 396-387 BC).
- Lysander may have also been angry with the Thebans because they tried to claim 10% of the spoils of the campaigns in Asia and especially because the Thebans helped the Athenians overthrow the 30 Tyrants.
- Thebans in response to Lysander’s anger promise to protect all Athenians refugees or tyrant topplers.
- The Thebans gave Thrasybulous (leader of the counter-revolution against the 30) arms and money as well as a secret base of operations.
C. 28 – Spartan Army Attacks Thebes
- So, in his old age, he convinced the ephors to wage war on Thebes, leading the campaign in person. Pausanias would join him with another army later.
- Lysander comes from the North and the East, Pausanias will come up from the South. Scouts intercept a letter of communication between the two generals.
- Lysander is cut off from Pausanias because the Thebans occupy the city before Pausanias can get the message, and then they use their position to attack Lysander from the rear when he marches along the road to meet Pausanias.
- They fight near a spring sacred to Dionysius (he was bathed there as a baby) and Rhadamanthus, judge of the under-world.
- Alcmene also buried nearby, but right here they waited until Lysander approached close, then opened the gates and fell upon him.
- The Thebans push hard and many Spartans run away! Three hundred Thebans die pursuing Spartans in dangerous country trying to clear their names of any Spartan sympathizing.
C. 29 – Oracles Examined
- Pausanias finally receives word and hurries to Haliartus from Plataea and Thespiae. Pausanias wants to ask for a truce to recover Lysander’s body but the Spartan advisors reject that plan and say they should fight for the body back or fight and die with their general on the field.
- Pausanias rejects their plan and negotiates a truce.
- Lysander buried among the Panopean territory (Spartan allies) along the road leading from Delphi to Chaeronea. A Phocian recounting the battle remembers that the Spartans were attacked right after Lysander had crossed the Hoplites.
- Once the Spartans discover that the Hoplites is the name of a river running in front of the town of Haliartus, they realize a prophecy has been fulfilled.
- “Guard yourself against the roaring hoplite and the earthborn dragon stalking you from behind.” Some disagree with this interpretation.
- The citizen of Haliartus who killed Lysander had a dragon on his shield. This battle may have even been predicted during the Pelop War.
- Another rather obscure oracle…
C. 30 – Legacy
- The Spartans so annoyed about Lysander’s death that they bring Pausanias to trial for it and he has to abandon his kingship and live in Tegea for the rest of his days as a suppliant.
- It was not known how poor Lysander was until his death. The money passed through his hands without augmenting his personal wealth. So says Theopompus who can be trusted when he praises because he enjoys blaming so much more.
- When they were later examining Lysander’s records, they came across the speech he had prepared to change the process of the election of kings.
- Agesilaus wanted to show the people but the chief ephor forbade him, suggesting the speech be buried with Lysander, since it was so subtle and persuasive.
- Many honors paid to Lysander. When the suitors for his daughters discovered he was poor and dropped his daughters, they were fined. Thus runs the life of Lysander.