The battle of Notium in 407 was a minor
Athenian naval defeat, but in its aftermath Alcibiades went into exile
for a second time, removing one of the best Athenian commanders of the Great
Peloponnesian War. In 407 Lysander arrived in Asia
Minor to take command. He had a fleet of ninety ships, which he decided to base
at Ephesus. Alcibiades took the Athenian fleet to the same place, but when
Lysander refused to come out and fight, Alcibiades took his fleet to nearby
Notium. Alcibiades soon left the fleet to visit other Athenian forces in the
area, leaving his pilot Antiochus in command of the
fleet, with clear orders not to attack Lysander. Antiochus ignored these
orders, and decided to try and win a victory over part of the Spartan fleet.
Our two main sources disagree on the early stages of the resulting battle. In
Diodorus Siculus Antiochus took ten ships to Ephesus to challenge Lysander.
Lysander led all of his ships out to sea, sank Antiochus's ship, and then
pursued the other nine ships back towards Notium.
In Xenophon Antiochus took two ships into the harbour of Ephesus and sailed
past the prows of Lysander's fleet. At first Lysander only responded with a few
of his own ships, but when more Athenian ships appeared he brought his entire
fleet out. From this point on both accounts are similar. Lysander's fully
formed fleet headed towards the Athenian base at Notium. The Athenians rushed
to get to sea and entered combat in small detachments. As a result they
suffered a significant defeat, losing either 15 or 22 ships, although most of
the crews managed to swim to shore.
Lysander erected a trophy on Cape Notium to celebrate his victory, and then
returned to Ephesus. The Athenians retreated to Samos, where they were soon
joined by Alcibiades. He took his entire fleet to Ephesus to offer battle, but
Lysander refused to fight without an advantage and the Athenians were forced to
retreat to Samos. When news of this defeat reached Athens the people turned
against Alcibiades. He decided not to risk returning to the city to face a
possible trial, and instead retired to a fortress in Thrace. He would appear on
the fringes of the Athenian army before the final battle of the war at
Aegospotami, but his time in command was over.