The Spartan army and its allies, under King Archidamos, invaded Attica with the intention of drawing the Athenian army into a forced infantry battle, the usual method of deciding conflicts in ancient Greece. Battles were generally concluded in a day, with both victor and vanquished quickly established, and with the citizens of both sides returning to their homes, and farms with little delay. But Athens knew full well what the outcome of such a battle would be, and failed to venture out from behind her walls where it could ensure its safety.

Meanwhile, Brasidas had been sent to the southwestern Peloponnesian peninsula as commander of a Spartan unit. This was expected to be uneventful, but it delivered Sparta's first land victory over Athenian troops. An Athenian naval contingent had been sent to Methone to attack and capture this coastal town. Brasidas, in the vicinity with his Spartan troops, raced to the town, and with valor and courage, punched through the Athenian lines. He and his forces inflicted many casualties, before finally reaching the walled town itself. Thucydides praises the Spartan general on this action, but it is only later, in Xenophon's prose "Hellenica", that we learn that Brasidas is elected to the post of ephor (local magistrate) the following year, which was a reward for this outstanding action.

Years pass by with Brasidas unexplainably acting as advisor to a succession of inferior Spartan commanders. He rallies demoralized and beaten trireme crews after defeats they have suffered under these commanders.

Later, he forms strategic battle plans, such as a daring raid on the Piraios Harbor, by placing warships across the Isthmus of Corinth to the Saronic Gulf. The placement of Brasidas in a non leadership role was a poor choice by the Spartans and it must have been hard for him to sit on the sidelines and let far less capable commanders lead.

 

©2008 John Williamson - HIS335 - Ancient Greek Warfare     Site Design by
:mediabyjohn.com