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Cornelius Nepos


Loeb Classical Library, Harvard Univ. Press, Cambridge, 1929, index, trans, John C. Rolfe, published with Lucius Annaeus Florus, Epitome of Roman history. The Loeb edition has Latin and English on facing pages. Both authors were Romans.


Link to Nepos bio at Wikipedia{short description of image} A Google search returns many articles on Nepos.
There is now a new translation by Quintus Curtius with illustrations and more extensive comments and easier to read type. Here is the link to this translation edition of book {short description of image} click on books and then on lives-of-the-great-commanders. This is available at Amazon.


Reviewer comment:
Leadership - This book is about leadership, what it takes to be a great leader as a military commander. For example a poet may be considered 'great' if his poetry finds enjoyment from the public. A great military commander may be recognized if he is successful in battle and war against the society's enemies, hopefully, at least cost and greatest return. But personal attributes of the leader enable this success. There are of course other conditions that should be favorable, non-personal such as the institutional organization and material resources available. But, as Nepos declares, it is personal qualities that make the successful leader. In his descriptions we can recognize that some of these that he finds significant, even critical, in the capabilities of an ancient military commander, especially a Greek one, may not be so critical today. But overall those he stresses are the same today. The result 'we might call it the payoff' is victory in battle but Nepos only briefly identifies some of the more famous of these. His focus throughout is strength of character, personality, and ability to energize the leader's followers to reach exceptional levels of valor. Interesting as well are some descriptions of the results rendered by ancient society's institutions that Nepos identifies in passing while contrasting the subject leader's qualities and his final treatment by his society - the contrast between Athens and Sparta is striking.


This work is much like Plutarch, that is, biographies of the selected individuals, but much shorter. And these are not focused on or arranged by comparisons between mainly Greek and Roman individuals but were published in separate books. It is interesting that Nepos did not include Pericles among the generals, although he was one, but perhaps Nepos considered him in his lost other book along with other great politicians. But there are a few non-Greek foreign generals, of whom Datames, Hamilcar and Hannibal are included. But the author did publish a companion book of biographies of Roman generals - without making explicit comparisons between the two. He also published a book on great Kings. In the chapter on kings here he explains why although many were also generals, such as Alexander, he has not included them in this book. The remaining biographies of Cato and Atticus are included in this edition as well. As biographies they focus on the personality and accomplishments of the subjects, but they do include references to some of their military activities, especially significant battles. In keeping with contemporary thinking each biography included information about the family of the subject. The theme actually is leadership - personal leadership - a quality as much desired and evidenced off the battlefield as on. Nepos devotes most of his attention to the subjects's personal qualities or lack of them. The sketches do supplement information from other authors. There is much of interest in Nepos' assessments as they reveal basic aspects of Athenian (and Spartan) political life. For instance, the Athenian extreme fear of recurrent tyranny caused them to almost automatically attack any of their own leaders whom they felt was becoming politically too popular and dangerous - hence the recurrent ostracism and exile of some of the best leaders and others were fined, imprisons and even executed.

The translator - editor, John C Rolfe, notes that Nepos made many mistakes and he cites some of these in footnotes.
In the following biographical accounts Nepos selected I will include also some material from Diana Bowder's excellent Who Was Who in the Greek World to supplement Nepos' descriptions, for instance for the modern dating of events. And I provide a link to a Wikipedia article, if any.


The traslator of the new edition agrees with me about the focus of Nepos' subject, but instead of terming it Leadership, he titles his comments on specific aspects of leadership: Character, Fortune, Human Nature, Open-mindness and Poitial Liberty. And he provides someexcellent quotations from the various chapters. I highly recommend this new edition.


The translator provides a concise "The Life and World of Cornelius Nepos". But not much is known of Nepos himself, and much less of his known prolific literary output remains except in extracts or mentions by other writers. He was born in Cisalpine Gaul (that is far northern Italy) and apparently lived from about 99 to 24 BC. He lived mostly in Rome and was well acquainted with many other writers, historians and poets. He corresponded with Cicero. He probably was not active in political affairs. Among his many publications were sets of two companion books - one about Romans and one about foreigners particularly Greeks. Each set was about a different category of individuals such as generals, historians, politicians, poets or philosophers. Of the two about generals, only the text of the Greek (and three other foreign) generals remains complete, plus in this edition two of the individual Roman writers are included. He is considered the first author of individual biographies, in this he preceded Plutarch but was far inferior to him. Nepos, himself, insists that he is not an historian but a biographer.


Nepos excuses himself for writing what some will consider 'trivial and unworthy' because he will include personal facts about these great men. He ascribes the attitude of such critics as being because they judge by their own attitudes and do not understand the different beliefs of other nations. They think 'no conduct proper which does not conform to their own habits'.
"If these men can be made to understand that not all peoples look upon the same acts as honorable or base, but that they judge them all in the light of the usage of their forefathers, they will not be surprised that I, in giving an account of the merits of the Greeks, have borne in mind the usage of that nation."
He continues with appropriate specific examples. The Greeks accepted or approved of actions that the Romans consider disgraceful, while other nations including the Greeks look upon actions the Romans approve as shameful.

This comment is one of many of his own about general human nature that remain relevant today. Some of these have been extracted and published as being worthy on their own.

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Miltiades (c 555 - 489 BC)
Athenian general , son of Cimon Coalemos, of the ancient (claiming descent from Ajax) wealthy aristocratic Philaid clan. He was a rival of Peisasratus and was elected archon in 524/3. His half-brother was one Cimon and his son another. His uncle, Miltiades the Elder, went to the Chersonesus {short description of image}peninsula in 555 with a large Athenian colonist group and set himself up as tyrant. He died in 520 Then the tyrant, Hippias, sent Miltiades the Younger to the Chersonesus (modern day Gallipoli Peninsula) to maintain Athenian control of the sea route of grain from the Crimea and Ukraine region that was essential to Athenian food supply. He also established an Athenian colony on Lemnos. He married Hegesipyle, daughter of Thracian king Olorus. In 513 he participated in Persian king Darius' campaign against the Scythians. Some, including Nepos, claimed he advocated destroying the Persian float bridges over the Danube to ensure the Persian defeat but modern scholars discount this. However he opposed the Persians during and after the Ionian cities revolted in 499. He fled to Athens in 493 but was prosecuted (but then acquitted) for having failed to be the tyrant at Chersonesus. He remained in fear of the Persians for his action during the Ionian revolt. In 490 he was one of the ten elected Athenian generals and the leader who advocated and successfully employed the Athenian force at Marathon. {short description of image}This victory is probably the most known battle in Greek history and Miltiades is known along with that by every student of miliary history, but not his other military activities. In 489 he commanded the Athenian fleet against Paros where he was wounded during the defeat. For this he was tried again and fined 50 talents, but then died in prison. His son, also Cimon, led the Greeks against the Persians.

Nepos confuses the two Miltiades over which first established the Athenian colony in the Chersonesus. He writes about Miltiades: "Miltiades, the Athenian, son of Cimon, because of the antiquity of his family, the fame of his ancestors, and his own unassuming nature, was the most distinguished man of his day." He continues with the story about the establishment of a colony on the Chersonesus and Miltiades' conquest of Lemnos and the Cyclades. (The latter were conquered by Conon.) He also mistakes Miltiades' relations with Persian king Darius during the Persian abortive invasion of Scythia. He repeats the idea that Miltiades advocated destroying the bridge over the Danube but was over ruled by Histiaeus, but this is not so. Nepos then writes that it was because of fear then that Darius would learn of his advocacy that he fled to Athens. But this also is not true, he fled only in 493 after he had supported the Ionian Revolt, {short description of image}for which is incurred Darius' wrath. But Nepos is wrong also about the date of the Athenian assistance to the Ionian burning of Sardis in 499. He exaggerates the size of the Persian army at Marathon, but then so did Herodotus and probably any other of Nepos' sources. He digresses to compare Greek and Roman habits in rewarding a victorious commander. Then he describes Miltiades' campaign to Paros. Upon his return, as Nepos describes it, Miltiades was tried for treason, fined and put in prison. But Nepos continues with his own assessment. He writes that Miltiades was a victim of Athenian fear that he would be another tyrant as he had been in Chersonesus and had been Peisistratos, {short description of image}Hippias {short description of image}and Hipparchicus up to 510 in Athens.

Read the Wikipedia article to clear up the confusions.

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Themistocles (ca 524 - 459 BC ??)
He was an Athenian military and political leader and was archon in 493/2 BC. He was a member of the wealthy Lycomidcian clan and his father was Neocles. In 483 the Athenians discovered the rich deposit of silver at Laureun in southern Attica. He is most famous for advocacy of using this wealth for building of the Athenian naval fleet (which required his arguments in opposition to considerable arguments from his enemies for other uses) and use of that fleet against the Persian invasion of 480 BC culminating in the Greek victory at Salamis {short description of image}(which again required arguments with other Greeks, plus deception of the Persian king). He later began the use of the fleet to create the Delian league {short description of image}of Greek Ionian and other communities against Persia. He was one of the ten strategos at Marathon in 490. He was involved in the creation of a new constitution in 487 in which, among other innovations, was the introduction of ostracism {short description of image}and the use of casting by lots for election of an archon. Some historians today link these development to the effort to reduce the political conflict between powerful clans, but question if Themistocles was the main author. He also led the Athenian troops at Tempe in Thessaly and the navy at Artemisium {short description of image}during the Persian invasion. After the Persian retreat he urged not only the reconstruction of the Athenian city walls but also extension of walls to the port at Piraeus. {short description of image}In this episode in 479 he personally went to Sparta to deceive and delay Spartan efforts to prevent that construction. He was ostracized in 471 as a result of his political conflict with the pro-Spartan - anti-Persian Cimon. He moved to Argos {short description of image} where he was accused of attempting to organize an anti-Spartan alliance and was then sentenced to death by Athenians. He fled first to Corcyra, {short description of image}then to Macedonia and then to Asia Minor, where he died in ca 462 BC.

Nepos overlooks his problems in Athens and considers him great. He writes: "Themistocles, son of Neocles, the Athenian. This man's faults in early youth gave place to such great merits that no one is ranked above him and few are thought to be his equals." He describes Themistocles' youth and family life. He began public life early and involved himself in all manner of public business. He writes that Themistocles first used the wealth from the Laureun mines to build a fleet for was against Corcya. In this he may be confusing Corcya and Aegina. He describes the Persian invasion in 480 in detail giving Themistocles the credit for the policy of abandoning Athens and fighting the Persians at Salamis.

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Aristides (Aristides) (ca. 550 - 468?)
He was an Athenian political - military leader - archon in 489/8 BC. He was a member of the wealthy property class supporting Solon {short description of image}and related to the ancient Kerykes clan. He was one of the ten strategos at Marathon in 490 who let Miltiades take command on the day of battle rather than himself. He was ostracized in 482 but returned to participate in the battle at Salamis in 480 where he was given command of the defense of Psyttaleia Island. He was a strategos at Plataea{short description of image} and {short description of image}in 479. He commanded Athenian ships in the Aegean under the commander in chief, the Spartan, Pausanias. {short description of image}After Pausanias was recalled and Sparta withdrew from the alliance, Aristides was responsible for organizing the Delian League in which he assessed the duties to be paid by each member (either ships or money).
Nepos has a short entry for Aristides. "Aristides the Athenian, son of Lysimachus, was of about the same age as Themistocles, and consequently disputed with him the first rank in the state; for they were rivals. In fact, the history of these two men makes clear the extent to which eloquence has the advantage of integrity. For although Aristides so excelled in honesty that he is the only one within the memory of man -- at least, so far as we have heard -- who was given the title of "the Just" yet his influence was undermined by Themistocles and he was exiled for ten years by that well-known process known as the shard-vote." (ostracism was the process in which the name of the man to be exiled was written on a piece of pottery of which many have been found in Athens.) But when Xerxes invaded in 480 Aristides was recalled. He participated in the battle of Salamis and was the Athenian general at Plataea. He was the Athenian contingent commander under Pausanias the Spartan commander of the allied fleet in the Aegean when Pausanias' arrogance caused the fleet to hate him and the Spartan government to recall him. Thus Aristides took command and raised the level of the Athenian leadership. Nepos continues by describing Aristides' role in creating the Delian League

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Pausanias (ca 510 -d 467/8 BC)
He was son of Cleombrotus, {short description of image}and member of the Spartan royal Agiads family. He was regent for his young cousin, Pleistarchus, son of Spartan King Leonidas {short description of image}who died while defending Greece from the Persian invasion at Thermopylae {short description of image}in 480 BC. As the Spartan commander he led the combined Greek army at Plataea in 479. He again led the Greek naval fleet against the Persians and captured Byzantium in 478. But his overbearing, domineering methods resulted in objection from the other Greeks and forced his recall to Sparta and replacement by Dorieus. He returned to Byzantium and ruled until he was expelled by the Athenians commanded by Cimon (475 - 470). He was again tried and exiled, took refuge in a sacred temple, then was starved to death. His pro-Spartan bias helped enable the Athenians to supplant the Spartans as leaders of the Greek war against Persia and to create the Delian Alliance.

Nepos continues in sequence with the Spartan rival, Pausanias. "Pausanias the Lacedaemonian was a great man, but untrustworthy in all the relations of his life; for while he possessed conspicuous merits, yet he was overloaded with defects. His most famous exploit was the battle of Plataea; for it was under his command that Mardonius, {short description of image}the Mede by birth. satrap and son-in-law of the king, among the first of all the Persians in deeds or arms and wise counsel, with an army of two hundred thousand foot-soldiers that he himself had selected man by man, and twenty thousand horsemen, was routed by a comparatively small force of Greeks; and in that battle the leader himself fell. Puffed up by this victory, Pausanias began to engage in numerous intrigues and form ambitious designs."
Nepos mentions the affair of the golden tripod. Turning back to military affairs, he writes: "After that battle Pausanias again commanded the allied Greeks being sent with a fleet to Cyprus and the Hellespont to dislodge the garrisons of the barbarians from those regions. Having enjoyed equal good fortune in that expedition he began to act still more arrogantly and to entertain still loftier ambitions." Nepos continues with the full story of Pausanias' trials at Sparta and final fate.
Nepos reveals an interesting bit on Greek military secrecy. 'the staff'; the use of secret messages. The writer and receiver each had a staff of identical diameter - the writer wrapped a leather strip in a spiral around his staff, wrote on it his message and sent it. The reader having an identical staff then reversed by wrapping the leather in a spiral that enabled him to read the message.

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Cimon (Kimon) (ca. 510 - 450 BC)
He was a son of Miltiades and a member of the powerful Philaids family in Attica. He is considered the founder of the Athenian empire in the Aegean as he took command of the combined Greek naval forces after the Spartans left for home. He commanded the campaigns to Cyprus, Eion{short description of image} and Byzantium in 475. He prevented Macedonian control of Thrace. He established the Athenian colony on Scyros{short description of image} in 476. He likely also commanded the Athenian expedition to Naxos {short description of image}in 470. He expelled the remaining Persian garrison in Chersonesus and conducted the two-year siege of Thasos.{short description of image} He again commanded the Athenian - Delian alliance that decisively defeated the Persians both on land and sea at the Eurymedon River {short description of image}469-466 (on the coast in modern Turkey). In 462 he persuaded the Athenian government to give him command of an Athenian force sent to assist Sparta (after the earthquake of 464) {short description of image}to suppress the Messenian revolt. But the Spartans sent the Athenians home which greatly reduced his political status. He was ostracized in 461. But was returned in 454 when he negotiated a 5-year peace treaty with the Spartans. In 450 he again commanded an expedition against the Persians on Cyprus where he died in the siege of Citium.

Nepos describes the rather 'sordid' manner by which he was freed from prison after his father, Miltiades' debt which fell to the son to pay was extinguishing. "Cimon, the Athenian, son of Miltiades, in his early youth suffered great trouble; for since his father had been unable to pay the fine imposed upon him by the people, and therefore he died in the state prison, the son also was kept in confinement; and the laws of Athens did not allow him to be set at liberty unless he paid the amount of his father's fine."
(The part about Miltiades' fine is true but Cimon's political problem was that his mother, was not a Greek citizen.)
He continues: "Cimon quickly rose to the first rank in the state; for he had a fair amount of eloquence, extreme generosity, and wide knowledge both of civil law and the military art, since from boyhood he had accompanied his father on his campaigns." Nepos reports that Cimon's first military command was to defeat a large Thracian force at the Strymon River and found a new city, Amphipolis {short description of image}with 10,000 colonists. His second command was at Mycale where he defeated the Cypriote and Phoenician fleet.

(But this is incorrect. His victory was at Eurymedon in Pamphylia in 468 while Mycale was won by Leotychides and Xanthipus in 479.) Nepos continues with several other reports of campaigns - He believes Cimon restored a rebellious Scyros and 'broke the power of the Thasians ... by his mere arrival" But the Thasians actually resisted from 467 to 465.

However, Nepos again focuses on the treatment of a successful leader. "Having become through these exploits the most distinguished man of his city, ( in 462) he incurred the same distrust as his father and the other leading men of Athens, and by the shard-vote, which they call ostracism, he was banished for a term of ten years." But in 457, when the Lacedaemonians declared war again, Cimon was hastily recalled. He achieved a peace treaty in 451. He was then dispatched to command at Cyprus with 200 ships. He conquered much of the Island before dying at Citium. Nepos in summary extols Cimon's generosity in opening his many estates to the public and his distribution of money and food to the poor.
(Aristotle mentions the same action but claims it was a ploy to gain public appeal over his rival, Pericles.)

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Lysander (d. 395 BC)
He was a very successful Spartan admiral (navarch) who generated jealousy and antagonism from his peers. He was not a member of either of the Spartan royal families but was appointed to high commands. He defeated the Athenian - Alcibiades {short description of image}- at Cyzicus {short description of image}in 410 BC. He then gained Persian support of Cyrus and defeated the Athenians again at Notium. The Spartans replaced him with Callicratidas but the this new Spartan commander was unsuccessful when visiting Cyrus in retaining Persian support. The Athenians commanded by Conon defeated and killed him at Arginusae. {short description of image}Spartan law prevented Lysander from being appointed Navarch again so he was made second in command to Aracus but with the understanding that he was in charge. Lysander and Aracus then speed back to the Hellespont to establish a blockade against the Athenian grain trade. The Athenian admirals then blundered. They beached their ships and let their crews forage on the Asian, south, shore while Lysander watched carefully from the north side. Seeing the Athenian disarray he surprised them, destroyed their fleet, then with the two Spartan kings leading their armies against the Athenian land walls Lysander captured many Athenian colonies in the Aegean and blockaded them from the sea. Athens was forced to surrender. In 396 Lysander went on expedition into Asia with Spartan king Agesilaus. He returned in 395 to command the Spartan army in the Corinthian War {short description of image}in Boeotia but was killed in battle at Haliartus. {short description of image}

Nepos again finds a questionable great man. "Lysander the Lacedaemonian left a great reputation, gained rather by good fortune than by merit. He writes that Lysander's victory at Aegospotami was not due to his military skill but to the lack of discipline of the Athenians (Which it was). Nepos considers that Lysander was always reckless and given to intrigue. After his victory he asserted his right to control ALL the Greek cities. He expelled any pro-Athenian leaders in each and installed a 10 man government, actually of his own friends. Nepos continues: "When the decemviral authority had thus been established in all the cities, everything was done in accordance with Lysander's will. of his cruelty and treachery it is enough to cite a single instance by way of illustration".
His example is the treatment of the Thasians. He describes this entire episode, then further intrigues with the priests at the Delphic oracle and with the Persian satrap, Pharnabazus, and finally at Orchomenos where he was killed at Haliartus.

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Alcibiades (d. 404 BC)
He is described in modern biographies as an Athenian political leader, but Nepos is correct in including him in his list of generals. He was an extremely controversial individual both to his contemporaries and to modern historians. He was a wealthy aristocrat member of a prominent family. After his father, Clleinias, died at Coronae in 446 he was raised by an uncle, Pericles. {short description of image}He was an hereditary proxenos of Sparta and was elected one of the strategos in 420. In 418 he proposed and made the Athenian alliance with Elis, Mantinea and Argos which was defeated by the Spartan king Agis II {short description of image}at the battle of Mantinea. {short description of image}That discredited him politically in Athens resulting in his not being reelected. In 417 Hyperbolus attempted to have him ostracized. But he was then reelected to lead the Athenian campaign against Melos. In 416 he urged an Athenian campaign to support Segesta {short description of image}against Selinus in Sicily. He was then appointed as one commander of the expedition along with Nicias and Lamachus. He was recalled for trial for participation in the "hermocopid' scandal. But he escaped en route at Thurii and changed sides to support Sparta. There is urged the Spartans to send the seasoned general Gylippus {short description of image}to aid Sparta and the Spartans themselves to occupy Decelea {short description of image}in Attica. After the Athenian disaster at Syracuse in 413 he accompanied the Spartan naval campaign to Ionia. There he had direct dealings with the Persian satrap Tissaphernes.{short description of image} In 411 he sought his own return to power in Athens by participating in the oligarchic coup. When that idea failed he reversed again and appealed to the democratic faction on Samos. He was again elected strategos and commanded the fleet that destroyed the Spartan fleet at Cyzicus {short description of image}in 410. In 408 he returned to Athens. In 407 the Spartan admiral Lysander with help from the Persian satrap, Cyrus the Younger, regained Spartan naval control in the Aegean. The Athenian squadron was defeated at Notium, for which Alcibiades was blamed even though he was not there. (The Athenian assembly had a habit of blaming their admirals for any loss or even miscalculation). Alcibiades then escaped trial by moving to his estate in Thrace. He crossed over the Hellespont to warn the Athenian admirals at Aegesotami but they would not listen. After the Athenian total defeat in 404 he fled further Athenian prosecution by fleeing to Asia where he was killed by Pharnabazus{short description of image} II in Phrygia.{short description of image}

Nepos devotes one of his longest chapters to Alcibiades. He is somewhat ambivalent about this notorious gentleman.
"Alcibiades, the Athenian, son of Clinias. In this man Nature seems to have tried to see what she could accomplish; for it is agreed by all who have written his biography that he was never excelled either in faults or in virtues. Born in the most famous of cities of a very noble family, he was by far the handsomest man of his time. He was skilled in every accomplishment and of abundant ability (for he was a great commander both on land and sea); in eloquence he was numbered among the best orators, since his delivery and his style were so admirable that no one could resist him. He was rich; energetic too, when occasion demanded, and capable of endurance; generous, magnificent not only in public, but in private, life; he was agreeable, gracious, able to adapt himself with the greatest tact to circumstances; but yet, so soon as he relaxed his efforts and there was nothing that called for mental exertion, his extravagance, his indifference, his licentiousness and his lack of self-control were so evident, that all men marvelled that one man could have so varied and contradictory a character."
Nepos continues with a full description of Alcibiades' life from his being raised in Pericles' home and that his teacher was Socrates. His father-in-law was Hipponicus, the richest man of all Greek speaking lands. There is much more even though Nepos claims he is leaving out more sordid activities. Nepos turns to Alcibiades's urging of the Athenian campaign against Syracuse for which Alcibiades was appointed one of the generals along with Nicias {short description of image}and Lamachus.{short description of image} But on the eve of sailing the scandal of the throw down of the Hermes pillars throughout the city caused great public apprehension. It was obvious that it was accomplished by an organized group and Alcibiades was suspected. His enemies waited until they were sure he had reached Sicily, but then charged him with profanation of sacred rites. He was ordered to return. But when the returning ship reached Thurii in Italy he skipped out, going to Elis and then to Thebes. There he learned he had been tried and sentenced to death. So he proceeded to Lacedaemon. From there he claimed he was waging war, not against his country but against his personal enemies who were the ones waging war against Athens. His advice to the Lacedaemonians was to seek the aid of the Persian king, and to fortify a base in Attica at Decelea from which they could conduct continuous raids. He also assisted them in detaching the Aegean (Ionian) towns from Athens. While taking advantage of his ideas, the Lacedaemonians did not trust or like him. They expected that someday he would change sides again so considered how to assassinate him. He realized this so moved to Lydia and Caria to the Persian satrap, Tissaphernes. There he intrigued, but unsuccessfully, with Pisander who had an army on Samos. Failing that Alcibiades obtained power from Thrasybulus {short description of image}to become the commander on Samos. Thrasybulus and Theramenes managed to convince the Athenians to restore Alcibiades to favor. The Lacedaemonians then lost 5 battles on land and 3 at sea and sued for peace. The three generals recovered Ionia and the Hellespont, Byzantium, and other mainland cities. After such successes the Athenians welcomed Alcibiades at Piraeus while mostly ignoring Thrasybulus and Theramenes. In the Assembly the populous gave him all honors and cried at their own prior mistake.
(another example of the continual fickleness of the Greeks).
Soon enough he lead a fleet to Cyme, which he besieged unsuccessfully. Of course the Athenians reversed their opinions immediately. "having been less successful at Cyme than was hoped, he again fell into disfavor; for the people thought that there was nothing that he could not accomplish. Consequently, they attributed all reverses to his fault, declaring that he had shown either negligence or treachery." And they presumed the latter.

Nepos offers his own opinion: "Therefore I am convinced that nothing was more to his disadvantage than the excessive confidence in his ability and valour; for his countrymen feared him no less than they loved him thinking that he might be carried away by good fortune and great power, and wish to become tyrant." Once again the "people deprived him of his office and appointed another in his place." That was Conon. At once Alcibiades fled to Thrace, fortified for himself several cities and then conducted raiding warfare into Thrace to obtain booty. Learning that the Athenians were now on the Asiatic side of the Hellespont with Philocles {short description of image}in command and the Spartans were the few miles away on the European side under Lysander, he went to warn the Athenians and urge them to fight a naval battle. Philocles refused to agree because he thought that if he agreed Alcibiades would gain command and also the honor of the victory but if the battle was unsuccessful he would receive the blame. The result was the well known total victory in both the battle and the war. Alcibiades, at this moved deep into Thrace to be safe. The Thracians stole his money so he fled to Phanabazus from whom he received a fortress at Grynium in Phrygia.
Nepos recounts the ensuing intrigues and treachery which resulted in his house being set on fire and him dying by assassins. Nepos concludes with a recount of Alcibiades' reputation as given by Thucydides, Theopompus and Timaeus..

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Thrasybulus (d. 389 BC)
He was a wealthy Athenian democratic politician. In 411 he was at Samos where he led the sailors to take an oath to support the democratic constitution against the coup of the Thirty Tyrants in Athens. The fleet then voted him strategos. He recalled Alcibiades in 407 and won the naval victories at Cynossema {short description of image}and Abydos.{short description of image} In 406 he assisted Alcibiades winning at Cyzicus. He was not reelected as strategos so then served as a triarch at the battle of Arginusae. He moved to Thebes to continue democratic resistance to the Thirty oligarchy in Athens. After the Athenians surrendered in 404 he returned and helped oust the Thirty and restore democratic government. He supported Thebes in the Corinthian War against Sparta of 395-387. When Conon restored Athenian naval power, Thrasybulus commanded an expedition in 390-89 to retake Thasos, Samothrace, the Chersonesus, Byzantium and Chalcedon. He was killed during an expedition near Aspendus.

Nepos writes: "Thrasybulus, the Athenian, son of Lycus. If merit were to be estimated absolutely, without reference to fortune, I rather think that I should rank this man first of all. This much is certain; I put no one above him in sense of honor, in steadfastness, in greatness of soul and in love of country. For while many have wished, and a few have been able, to free their country from a single tyrant, it was his good fortune to restore his native land from slavery to freedom when it was under the heel of thirty tyrants. but somehow or other, while no one surpassed him in the virtues that I have named, many men have outstripped him in renown." "in the Peloponnesian war he often won victories without the aid of Alcibiades, the latter never without his help; but Alcibiades by some innate gift gained the credit for everything". ,

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Conon (Konon) (d. 392 BC)
He was a member of a famous family, one grand father was archon in 462 BC. He was elected strategos 414/13 in command of the Athenian fleet stationed at Naupactus.{short description of image} After Alcibiades was deposed he became commander of the Athenian allied fleet in the Aegean. In 406 we was blockaded by the Spartan fleet at Mytilene{short description of image} until the Spartan fleet was destroyed at Arginusae.{short description of image} Being unable to participate in that battle he was spared the execution of six other Athenian admirals who failed to rescue all the Athenian sailors who were drowned after the great Athenian victory. In 405 he was with the Athenian fleet beached at Aegospotami in the Hellespont, but not in command, when Lysander, the Spartan admiral attacked by surprise and destroyed the Athenian fleet, but he escaped. When Lysander besieged Athens, Conon fled to king Evagoras on Cyprus. In 400 after the Greek mercenaries were fielded by Cyrus, Conon assisted the Persians against Sparta. In 397 Persian king Artaxerxes II{short description of image} appointed him to command the Persian fleet sent to support the satrap Pharnabazus. Conon captured Rhodes and later destroyed a Spartan fleet at Cnidus {short description of image}in 394. This ended the Spartan control of the Aegean which they had obtained after Athens surrendered in 404. He used the Persian fleet to attack Laconia (Spartan territory) and capture Cythera{short description of image} Island. Pharnabazus returned to Asia leaving Conon to sail the fleet to Athens. There in 393 he rebuilt the Long Walls and continued on to settle Athenian colonists on Lemnos, Imbros and Scyros. At this the Spartans sued for peace. Pharnabazus' rival, the satrap at Lydia, Tiribazus, held a peace conference at which he arrested Conon, but the latter escaped to Cyprus were he died.

Nepos made a number of mistakes about dates, but as with his other biographies he focuses mostly on Conon's personality and character. He writes: "Conon the Athenian began his public career at the time of the Peloponnesian war, and in that war he rendered important service; for he commanded the land forces with the rank of general, and as admiral of the fleet he did great deeds in the sea,. In recognition of this an unusual honour was conferred upon him; he was given sole charge of all the islands, and while holding that commission he took Pherae, a colony of the Lacdaemonians. He was also commander in chief at the close of the Peloponnesian war, when the Athenian forces were defeated by Lysander at Aegospotami; but he was absent at the time, and in consequence the affair was badly managed; for he was skilled in military science and a careful commander."
(Actually he did not have that commission and he captured Pherae while in service of the Persian king, but the Persians, at Conon's recommendation were fighting the Spartans, so he was aiding Athens as well. He was at Aegospotami but not a commander.)

Nepos continues to describe what Conon did after Aegospotami when Lysander forced Athens' surrender and destroyed its walls. "So he went to Pharnabazus, a satrap of Ionia and Lydia, who was also son-in-law of the king and his near relative, with whom he succeeded in winning great influence by hard toil an many dangers. For the Lacedaemonians, after vanquishing the Athenians, (they surrendered in 404) did not remain true to the alliance which they had concluded with Artaxerxes, but sent Agesilaus to Asia to make war, being especially influenced by Tissaphernes, one of Artaxerxes' intimate friends, who, however, had betrayed his king's friendship and come to an understanding with the Lacedaemonians. Against him Pharnabazus was nominally commander-in-chief, but in reality Conon headed the army and everything was done as he directed. He proved a serious obstacle to that great general Agesilaus and often thwarted him by his strategy; in fact, it was evident that if it had not been for Conon, Agesilaus would have deprived the king of all Asia as far as the Taurus.

(Nepos' here might be exaggerating a bit about Conon's role, but he is describing the situation well.) The example here is not sufficiently, if at all, described in our text books at two levels. Pharnabazus and Tissaphernes were two Persian governors, each of a part of Asia Minor {modern Turkey} and bitter rivals. They used the conflicts among the Greeks for their own purposes. Their actions, like those of the other Persian and the Greek leaders, was self-aggrandizement. The Persian kings, this time Artaxerxes' policy against the Greeks was 'divide and conquer' and 'balance of power'. They continually switched financial and military support back and forth between Sparta and Athens, desiring that neither have power to interfere in Persian territory (Ionia and Thrace). So Nepos is not the only one to lose track of all the rapid changes of sides.)

Nepos continues: "Even after the Spartan was summoned home by his countrymen, because the Boeotians and Athenians had declared war upon the Lacedaemonians, Conon none the less continued his relations with the king's prefects and rendered them all great assistance. King Agesilaus was recalled due to the Corinthian War beginning in 395. He used the same overland route as had Xerxes in 480 and reached Boeotia in 30 days. He then defeated the alliance at Coronea{short description of image} in August 394. {See Agesilaus}

Nepos comments that, although now (390's) Tissaphernes was revolting, Artaxerxes was remembering that in 401 Tissaphernes had assisted him in defeating his brother, Cyrus's, attempt to overthrow him at Cunaxa.{short description of image} Pharnabazus sent Conon directly to Artaxerxes to denounce Tissaphernes. Nepos describes at length what occurred. Conon convinced the king and authorized Conon to wage war now against Sparta. He assembled a large fleet of Cypriots, Phoenicians and others. Nepos stresses that Conon's role now greatly frightened the Spartans. They reacted by sending Pisander with their fleet but Conon defeated them at Cnidus {short description of image}in 394. This eliminated the Spartan power throughout the Aegean. Conon then in 393 returned to Athens and rebuilt the city and Piraeus walls.

Nepos then describes yet again a typical result. "But Conon had the same experience as the rest of mankind, and showed less wisdom in good fortune than in adversity. For after his decisive victory over the fleet of the Peloponnesians, thinking that he had avenged his country's wrongs, he entertained ambitions beyond his powers. These, however, were both patriotic and commendable, since he desired to increase the strength of his native land at the expense of that of the great king. For since the famous naval battle that he had fought of Cnidus had given him high standing, not only with the barbarians, but with all the Greek states as well, he began to plot the restoration of Ionia and Aeolia to the Athenians." But the Persians weren't fooled, Conon was invited to Sardis by pretext, and thrown into prison. He managed to escape to Cyprus where he died.

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Dion (d. 354 BC)
He is known as 'the liberator of Syracuse' because of the overthrow of the tyrant Dionysius II. {short description of image}Nepos gives him rather more space than other historians might assign. His only military exploit was the combat around Syracuse.

Nepos writes: "Dion, son of Hipparinus, of Syracuse, sprung from a noble family, was connected with the tyranny of both the Dionysii; for the elder Dionysius married Aristomache, Dion's sister; by her he had two sons, Hipparinus and Nisaeus, and the same number of daughters, Sophrosyne and Arete. Of these daughters he gave the former in marriage to Dionysius, the son to whom he left his throne, and the latter, Arete, to Dion."
Nepos continues by describing Dion's personal qualities, character and accomplishments. Among these was his relationship with Plato when the latter visited Syracuse. Another was that he was sent as a diplomat to Carthage. But upon the death of the elder Dionysius, his son, the second Dionysius became hostile to Dion. He sent Dion to Corinth, married Arete to another and sequestered Dion's son. In Corinth Dion met the former commander of the Syracusian cavalry, Heraclides, now also in exile. The two plotted rebellion without much success. But Dion then took dangerous action by taking only two ships in a campaign to overthrow Dionysius II. Nepos describes the complex series of events which culminated in Dion's deposing Dionysius.

Again, Nepos has to revert to disaster. He writes: "This success, so great and so unexpected, was followed by a sudden change, since Fortune, with her usual fickleness, proceeded to bring down the man whom she had shortly before exalted." Let's skip the sordid details in this case as - you, the reader, can consult Nepos. Suffice it to say that Dion became a tyrant the equal of his two predecessors and was assassinated.

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Iphicrates (flourish 390- 355 BC)
An Athenian strategos (general) who served Athens and also as a mercenary commander for others. He soundly defeated a Spartan phalanx near Corinth in 390. He won further victories near the Hellespont. After 387/6 he served Cotys of Thrace and was sent by Athens to fight Persians in Egypt. Upon returning he replaced Timothesus in 373/2 in preparation to invade the Peloponnesus but was called off by the Peace of 372/1. Reversing roles, in 370/69 he was commanding in the Peloponnesus in support of Sparta. In the 360's he returned north as Athenian strategos at Amphipolis and then served the Thracians. He was sent as a senior advisor along with Timothesus to Chares for the campaign in eastern Aegean. The advisors held off due to a storm while Chares attacked and suffered a great loss in the battle of Embata {short description of image}in 356 against local rebels. For that he was prosecuted but acquitted but Timothesus was fined. (See chapter on Timothesus, below)

Nepos has much more to say about Iphicrates as a great military commander and innovator in developing both new armament and tactics. Nepos claims he never lost a battle due to his own failures. "Iphicrates, the Athenian, gained renown by his great deeds, but still more by his knowledge of the art of war; for not only was he a leader comparable with the greatest of his own time, but not even among the men of earlier days was there anyone who surpassed him." .

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Chabrias (flourished 390 - 356 BC)
He was an Athenian general between 390 and 356 - by Athens during 390-387; 379-369; 362; 356. And he was employed by others - Egypt in the 380's and 360. He served in the Second Athenian Confederacy, {short description of image}wining a battle off Naxos in 376. During 377 and 375 he aided in the Athenian Confederacy's expansion of power. His successful military career brought him considerable wealth. He died in battle against rebels at Chios in 356.

Nepos provides a more detailed account of Chabrias' life and exploits. "Chabrias, the Athenian. This man also was rated as one of the greatest of commanders and did many deeds worthy of record. But especially brilliant among these was his device in the battle (in 378) which he fought near Thebes, when he came to the aid of the Boeotians. On that occasion, though the consummate leader Agesilasus (of the Spartans) felt sure of victory, since he had already put to flight the throngs of mercenaries, Chabrias checked him forbade the phalanx, which was left unsupported to abandon its position and instructed the soldiers to receive the enemy's onset with buckler (shield) on knee and lance advanced.. On seeing these novel tactics, Agesilaus did not dare to attack, but although his forces had already begun the charge, he sounded the recall. This maneuver became so famous all over Greece that, when a statue was publicly erected to Chabrias in the agora of Athens, he chose to be represented in that position." "Now Chabrias carried on many wars in Europe as general of the Athenians; in Egypt he made war on his own responsibility." Nepos mentions more of these campaigns and battles. Among them was is participation in the Social War{short description of image} of 356. The Athenians were attacking Chios. Chabrias was there but not in command. He rushed his own trireme into the port ahead of the others, was surrounded his ship rammed and sinking and instead of abandoning it by swimming continued to fight in hand to hand battle until killed.

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Timotheus (mid 4th century BC)
He was a son of Conon and was an Athenian general. He took part in his father's activities in 394/93 and was an adult in 392. His military career began in 370's. In 375 he collected allies and defeated the Spartans at Alyzeia in north-west Greece. He was honored at Athens. The Spartans signed the Common Peace of 375/4. But in 373 his failure to protect Corcyra from renewed Spartan attack resulted in his disgrace. He moved to Persia to become a mercenary. In 366 - 362 he returned to Athens and established colonies on Samos, Sestos, Crithote, then with allies fought in Thrace and Macedon but failed to capture Amphipolis. He refrained from entering battle in 356, against the enemy fleet at Embata, {short description of image} located between the Island of Chios and the mainland was fined 100 talents and fled to Chalcis, where he died. Nepos, see below, has the wrong location for this battle.

Nepos again writes: "Timotheus, the Athenian, son of Conon. This man increased by his many accomplishments the glory which he had inherited from his father; for he was eloquent, energetic and industrious; he was skilled in the art of war and equally so in statesmanship. Many were his illustrious deeds, but the following are the most celebrated; his arms were victorious over the Olynthians and the Byzantines; he took Samos (in 365), and although in a former war (444 - 439) the Athenians had spent twelve hundred talents in the siege of that town, he restored it to the people without any expense to the state. He waged war against Cotus and gained booty to the value of twelve hundred talents, which he paid into the public treasury. He freed Cyzicus{short description of image} from a blockade. With Agesilaus he went to the aid of Ariobarzanes, and while the Laconian accepted a cash payment for his services, Timotheus preferred that his fellow-citizens should have additional territory and cities, rather than that he should receive a recompense of which he could bear a part home with him." "Again, put in command of the fleet, he sailed around the Peloponnesus in 375 and pillaged the land of the Laconians, put their fleet to flight, and brought Corcyra under the sway of Athens; he also joined to Athens as allies the Epirotes, Athamanes, Chaones, and all the peoples bordering on that part of the sea." Then, in 374 the Spartans made peace and acknowledged Athenian supremacy at sea. The Athenians erected a statue in his honor as they had for his father, Conon.
But his public life did not end then, even though his regular military career was over. There was another war in which Athens faced danger. Samos revolted, the Hellespont was again lost and Philip of Macedon was plotting. The Athenians commissioned Chares {short description of image}to command a fleet, but he was considered inexperienced so the government tasked Menestheur, son of Iphicrates and son-in-law of Timothesus to go as general. And he was also to take the experienced but old Iphicrates and Timothesus along as advisors. They sailed toward Samos while Chares, already en route also moved toward Samos. As the fleets neared Samos a storm arose. The two old generals anchored their fleet, but Chares did not agree with their advice and aggressively continued. When Chares reached Samos, he asked Timothesus and Iphicrates to join. But Chares lost a battle and many of his ships. He reported to Athens that his failure to take Samos was due to his not being supported. As usual, the Athenians, as Nepos writes: "being impulsive, distrustful and therefore changeable, hostile and envious summoned them all back home. They were cited to appear in court and accused of treason. Timotheus was found guilty and his fine was fixed at one hundred talents." He fled to Chalcis in 355 where he soon died.
Diodorus has a different concept of the battle at Embata.
Nepos deplores his treatment and concludes with more examples of his greatness.
"The era of Athenian generals came to an end with Iphicrates, Chabrias and Timotheus, and after the death of those eminent men no general in that city was worthy of notice."

I now pass to the bravest and ablest man of all the barbarians, with the exception of the two Carthaginians Hamilcar and Hannibal.

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Datames (d. 362 BC)
He was a mercenary member of the Persian palace guard. His successes resulted in his being appointed a satrap to govern Cappadocia. He had further military successes in Paphlagonia and Cataonia but palace enemies caused him to rebel in the 360's.
Nepos writes: "Datames, son of Camisares, a Carian by nationality, born of a Scythian mother, began his career as one of the corps of soldiers who guarded the palace of Artaxerxes ." "Datames, while serving as a soldier, first showed his quality in the war which the king waged against the Cadusii, (380) in which, although many thousands of the king's troops were slain, his services were of great value. The consequence was, that since Camisares had failed in the course of that war, Datames became governor of his father's province. He later showed himself equally valiant when Autophrodates, at the king's command, was making war upon the peoples that had revolted. For when the enemy had already entered the Persian camp, it was owing to Datames that they were routed and the rest of the king's army was saved."
Nepos continues with a relatively lengthy description of Datames' successes in battle, including clever strategies. He writes: "Never have I read anywhere of a cleverer stratagem of any commander, or one which was more speedily executed." He recounts several others. Finally, Nepos explains, Datames was killed by Mithridates who had gained his friendship but was all along plotting assassination.

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Epaminondas (d 362 BC)
He was a famous Theban politician and general. He is included in general military histories for his unusual tactical deployment at Leuctra but little else of his career. He opposed a pro-Spartan coup in 382 and fled and returned in 379/8 to assist with the liberation. He was Theban ambassador to Sparta in 372 and then the elected Boeotarch winning the battle of Leuctra in 371. He is famous in military history for his development of new tactics in this battle. The Spartan defeat was a stunning event revealing that they were not invincible. He subsequently led four invasions of the Peloponnesus. In 364 he sought to make Thebes also a naval power. He died from wounds in the battle of Mantinea{short description of image} in 362.

Nepos begins his biographical sketch: "Epaminondas, the Theban, son of Polymnis. Before writing about this man, think I ought to warn my readers not to judge the customs of other nations by their own, and not to consider conduct which in their opinion is undignified as so regarded by other peoples."
In this he repeats his comment in the introduction. He is warning his Roman readers that they will consider standard Greek social customs to be despicable. But his advice is applicable today - don't judge the activities of ancient and medieval societies according to modern standards of conduct or belief.

Nepos continues: "Since, then, I wish to portray the life and habits of Epaminondas, it seems to me that I ought to omit nothing which contributes to that end. Therefore I shall speak first of his family, then of the subjects which he studied and his teachers, next of his character, his natural qualities, and anything else that is worthy of record. Finally, I shall give an account of his exploits, which many writers consider more important than mental excellence." Actually he only mentions the victories at Leuctra and Mantinea with no description of the battles or Epaminondas' contributions.

Since this has been Nepos' general approach for all his previous biographies and assessments of his subjects, I wonder why he felt it necessary to stress this so clearly in this later chapter. Possibly it was because, as I noted above, in historical accounts Epaminondas is almost exclusively discussed in because of his victory at Leuctra which is considered a tactical masterpiece and revolutionary development. Nepos' biography does much to expand our knowledge of this famous general by including the subject's youth, family, and education, including his athletic physical regime.

Nepos continues: "To the bodily strength that he thus acquired there were added still greater mental gifts; for he was temperate, prudent, serious, and skilful in taking advantage of opportunities; practiced in war, of great personal courage and of high spirit; such a lover of the truth that he never lied even in jest. Furthermore, he was self-controlled, kindly, and forbearing to a surprising degree in putting up with wrongs, not only from the people, but even from his friends; he was most particular in keeping secrets, and a quality which is sometimes no less valuable than eloquence, and he was a good listener; for he thought that to be the easiest way of acquiring information.". Nepos continues with this admiration of Epaminondas' remarkable high character and qualities. He turned down a bribe offered by Persian king Artaxerxes. He was the best speaker in Thebes. Nepos points out, that as usual Epaminondas' rivals and enemies in Thebes brought his trial when he returned from successful campaign in Peloponnesus. He acquitted himself successfully. Then he was again commander at the battle of Mantinea in 362 where he fought personally and was struck down by a thrown spear. Nepos concludes his panegyric by noting that prior to Epaminondas and subsequent to his death Thebes was always dominated by others. "This fact shows that one man was worth more than the entire body of citizens."

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Pelopidas (d. 364 BC) He was a Theban general who led a counter-revolution in 379/8. He was elected Boeotarch after Thebes was liberated from Spartan control. He led the Theban Sacred Band {short description of image}in battle at Tegyra {short description of image}in 375 and at Leuctra in 371. . But after than he was supplanted by Epaminondas as Theban commander. In 370 he he helped free Messene to gain independence. But the two combined forces in 370/69. While Epaminondas concentrated in the Peloponnesus, Pelopidas focused on northern Greece and fought the Macedonians and Thessaly. He died at the battle of Cynoscephalae{short description of image} in 364 fighting against Alexander of Pherae {short description of image}.

Nepos devotes only a relatively brief chapter to Pelopidas. "Pelopidas, the Theban is better known to historians than to the general public. I am in doubt how to give an account of his merits; for I fear that if I undertake to tell of his deeds, i shall seem to be writing a history rather than a biography; but if I merely touch upon the high points, I am afraid that to those unfamiliar with Grecian literature it will not be perfectly clear how great a man he was." "When Phoebidas, the Lacedaemonian, was leading his army to Olynthus and went by way of Thebes, (in 382) he took possession of the citadel of the town, called the Cadmea, at the instigation of a few Thebans, who, in order the more easily to resist the party of their opponents, espoused the cause of the Lacedaemonians; but he did this on his own initiative and not by order of his government. Due to this the Spartan government deprived him of his command and condemned him to pay a fine, but they did not return the Cadmea to the Thebans. After defeating the Athenians in the Peloponnesian War the Spartans considered that the Thebans were their chief remaining rivals. To counter this the Spartans gave the highest public offices to their supporters while either exiling or killing the leading men of the opposition of whom Pelopidas was sent into exile. Many of the exiles took refuge in Athens while preparing to retake Thebes. They planned on attacking by surprise in 379.
Nepos's assessment is: "Great things have often been accomplished with not so very great forces, but surely never did so humble a beginning result in the overthrow of so mighty a power." He writes that the dozen exiles with about 100 supporters succeeded by making war, not on their fellow citizens, but on the Spartans. But first they caught the Theban officials at a banquet and killed them all. After that they called the people to arms and drove the Lacedaemonians from the citadel. As Epaminondas remained durig this in his home and took no part the victory belongs to Pelopidas. Then, at Leuctra Pelopidas commanded the Sacred Band and at the subsequent attack on Sparta he commanded one wing. In 367 he went to Persia to seek aid. He urged the Thebans to war against Alexander of Pherae and the other tyrants of Thessaly to free the people there. In battle he was killed although his army was victorious.

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Agesilaus (d. 361/0)
He was the Eurypontid king of Sparta ca. 400 - 360, but also a successful general leading mercenary forces in Asia Minor from 396. But the Spartan government recalled him in 395 for the Corinthian War (395 - 387/6). {short description of image}There he won an indecisive victory at Coronea{short description of image} in 394 and then fought in Corinthia, Argos and north-west Greece. He invaded Boeotia twice after 379. He was strongly opposed to Thebes but lost the battle of Leuctra to Epaminondas in 371. In the 360's he sought wealth by serving as a mercenary in Asia supporting Artobarzanes.He died in 361/0 while preparing to return from Cyrene in North Aftica. Xenophon knew him well and wrote his biography Agesilaus.

Nepos begins by noting: "Agesilaus the Lacedaemonian was praised, not only by all other historians, nut in particular by Xenophon, the disciple of Socrates, whose intimate friend he was. He began by having a dispute (in 399) about the throne with Leotychides, his brother's son; for it was the custom of the Lacedaemonians, handed down from their forefathers, always to have two kings (whose power, however, was rather minimal than real) from the families of Procles and Eurysthenes, who were descendants of Hercules and the first kings of Sparta." Once upon the throne, Agesilaus persuaded the Lacedaemonians to send an army to Asia to attack the king (Artaxerxes Mnemon) in 396. He rapidly reached Asia and surprised the Persian satraps. Tissaphernes asked for and received a 3 month truce during which he violated the terms by preparing for war. Agesilaus kept to the terms and there by claimed the favor of the gods. Tissaphernes massed his troops to defend Caria but Agesilaus moved against Phrygia which he plundered and from which took much booty to winter quarters in Ephesus. There he made weapons and trained his troops. In 395 he marched out after declaring that his objective was Sardis. This made Tissaphernes believe he was aiming again at Caria. By the time the Persians reached Sardis Agesilaus had already stormed the town and others to again gather booty. During these operations Agesilaus avoided terrain favorable to the Persian cavalry and conducted operations in locations favorable to his infantry. He was preparing to campaign directly against the Persian king when the Spartan ephors recalled him to defend against the Athenians and Boeotians in the Corinthian War. His patriotism demanded that he abandon the lucrative expedition into Persia and instead force march home. He followed the route used by Xerxes and reached Boeotia in 30 days whereas it had taken a year for Xerxes to accomplish that. The Athenians and Boeotians attempted to block him at Coronea in 394 but he soundly defeated them. At that battle he displayed his religious piety by insisting that enemy survivors who took refuge in a temple be left alone. He repeated the same policy frequently in Asia as well. The war continued around Corinth where Agesilaus continued victorious. But his response was to lament that if the Greeks had refrained from killing each other they could have conquered Persia. He refrained from allied urging that he attack Corinth commenting that "for, if we set about destroying those who have stood side by side with us against the barbarians, we ourselves shall triumph over one another, while they quietly look on. That done, they will crush us without difficulty, whenever they wish" "in the meantime that famous disaster at Leuctra befell the Lacedaemonians. (371). Not wishing to embark on that campaign, although he was urged by many to go, as if he divined the outcome he refused to do so. Again, when Epaminondas was attacking Sparta and the city was without walls, he showed himself so able a commander, that it was evident to all that if it had not been for him Sparta would at that time have ceased to exist. In fact, in that critical situation it was his quickness of wit that saved all the citizens."
Nepos continues with a description of Agesilaus' continued efforts to support Sparta after Leuctra. He received large sums of money and devoted it all to Sparta. "At the age of eighty, he had gone to the help of Tachos in Egypt (361). He had taken his place at meat with his men on the shore, without any shelter and having for a couch straw spread on the ground and covered with nothing but a skin; and there too all his companions reclined beside him in plain and well-worked clothing. Their appearance, far from suggesting that there was a king among them, would indicate that they were men of no great wealth. The king's emissaries arrived with gifts. On his way back from Egypt after having received from King Nectenebis two hundred and twenty talents to give as a gift to his country, on arriving at a place called the port of Menelaus, situated between Cyrene and Egypt, he fell ill and died"..

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Eumenes of Cardia (to be distinguished from two Eumenes kings of Pergamum) (c.362-316)
He was a secretary for the Macedonian king Philip II. Alexander the great placed him in charge of the official records during the campaign in Asia, then he was a diplomat in India and then commander of the fleet on the Euphrates. In 324 he became commander of the army cavalry units. He was not a Macedonian among Alexander's 'successors' but a palace official. He opposed the division of the empire to those generals and supported Perdiccas against them. But in 323 he was given Cappadocia and Paphlagonia. He defeated Craterus {short description of image}in 321. After Perdiccas died in 320 the 'successor' generals outlawed him, then Antigonus besieged him for a year at Nora in the Taurus mountains. Eumenes escaped and continued the war in support of Polyperchon. {short description of image}In 316 Antigonus defeated him at Gabiene. He was captured and killed.

Nepos, nevertheless, lists Eumenes among his most famous foreign (that is non-Roman) generals. He describes several of Eumenes' skilful operational and tactical military measures, but his account is mostly about the personal and political infighting among Alexander's successors. He rates Eumenes highly first of all as a loyal defender of Alexander's rightful heir, then for his example in not claiming power, (he cites as example that it was not until Eumenes was dead that the generals, Antigonus, Ptolemy, Seleucus, Lysimachus and Cassander dared declare themselves 'king'. Finally that Eumenes was betrayed by the Macedonian soldiers who had assumed the power of making kings, just as Roman soldiers were doing in Nepos' time.

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Phocion (402/1 - 319/8 BC)
He was an Athenian politician, attendee of Plato's Academy and skilled orator. He was elected strategos 45 times between 371 and 318. He was anti-Macedonian but recognized power, so advocated acceptance of Macedonian authority. After 322 he dominated Athenian politics. With changes in Macedonian leadership, he was executed in 318. He is another of the politicians whom Nepos considers a hero. And he was indeed a popular heroic figure in Greek thought during the 300 years before Nepos included him. The lesson for us is that his treatment is another example of the bitter and unrelenting political conflicts inside Athenian society.

Nepos writes: "Phocion, the Athenian, although he often commanded armies and held the highest offices, yet was much better known for the integrity of his life than for his work as a soldier." His surname was 'The Good". He refused a bribe offered by King Phillip II. But he was accused of agreeing with Demades to give Athens over to Antipater and had recommended the exile of his own benefactor, Demosthenes, whom he had defended previously. His chief fault was that when word came that Nicanor{short description of image} was about to attack Athens' port at Piraeus, Phocion claimed there was no danger or need to prepare. When Nicanor in fact did seize Piraeus, Phocion was blamed,. As always Athens was divided into a popular, democratic faction and the aristocratic oligarchical party. Both parties were supported each by a different Macedonian leader. Polyperchon supported the democrats and Cassander supported the aristocrats. When Polyperchon drove Cassander from Macedonia, the Athenian democrats exiled or decreed death to the aristocrats including Phocion and Demetrius. Phocion went to plead his cast with Polyperchon but was sent back for trial in Athens. where he was condemned without trial and executed for treason.

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Timoleon (d. 338 BC)
He was a Corinthian leader. Called the liberator of Syracuse. First he drove his brother, Timophanes, from Corinth in 365. His next appearance was in 345 going from Corinth to assist Syracuse against Dionysius II, his rival, Hicetas, and Carthaginian support. During following years he brought new settlers from Greece, rebuilt many public buildings, reformed the city constitution, and defeated Carthaginian attack at Crimisus river in 341 or 339. In 338 he was blind but continued as a private person to offer advice.
Nepos provides more detail and considers him a hero. "Without doubt this man has shown himself great in the estimation of all. For he alone had the good fortune, which I am inclined to think fell to the lot of no one else, to free the land of his birth from a tyrant's oppression, to rescue the Syracusians, whom he had been sent to help, from long continued slavery, and by his mere arrival to restore all icily to its former condition, after it had for many tears been embarrassed by wars and subjection to barbarians."


On Kings
Nepos states why he has not included many great generals in this book. It is because they were also kings and may be found in his book on kings. He mentions a few of them such as Alexander and his successors who assumed the title of king.

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A brief description of this Carthaginian.

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A somewhat lengthier account of the Great Carthaginian that includes his activities after he escaped to Asia Minor. This chapter has been published separately in English, probably due to the greater interest by students in Hannibal than the various Greek generals.


A very useful modern reference in which some of Nepos' errors are corrected is Diane Bowder ed. Who Was Who in the Greek World, Cornel Univ. Press,


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