Battle of Amphipolis

Greek History & Archaeology

In the winter of 424 BC, the Spartan commander Brasidas drew near the city and appealed to the residents who were troubled under the Athenian rule.As a result of this, he was able to capture the colony without any bloodshed.

Philippi Photo Credit: Leonora (Ellie) Enking

The Athenians received the bad news and sent Thucydides to the rescue but it was rather late. Brasidas had already gathered allied forces from nearby locations. The loss of Amphipolis played a pivotal role in Athens holding Thucydides responsible and exiling him.

But despite Sparta’s victory, the lack of permanent reinforcements resulted in Brasidas entering a truce with Athens in order to keep the ground he had gained.

The Lion of Amphipolis Photo Credit: Derek Winterburn

And although there were voices calling for a peaceful solution from both sides, the Athenian statesmen and general Kleon wanted to keep fighting. And when he was elected as one of Athen’s strategists, the fight for Amphipolis resumed.

He made sure new reinforcements from Thrace and Macedonia arrive alongside the Athenian soldiers but emerged as a hesitant general thought out the fight, sending contradictory signals to his men regarding the timing of the attack or retreat.

Lion of Amphipolis Photo Credit: Andy Montgomery

Brasidas has a much more specific plan but couldn’t match Athens’ numerical superiority. He had positioned his men in an area so as to have full view of the opponent’s moves and planned to move forward in two different stages. However, before his plan could be set into motion, the Athenian’s retreated back to Eion Port.

After a two year on and off struggle, Sparta finally captured Amphipolis but during the battle, both Brasidas and Kleon were killed.

The remains of the ancient bridge over the River Strymon near Amphipolis Photo Credit: Claire Cox

As far as Thucydides is concerned, his discharge brought up a different course for his life and for humanity as he was then fully devoted in recording events.

In the aftermath of the Amphipolis battle, hostility between Sparta and Athens was decreased. And the death of both Brasidas and Kleon spurred efforts to bring peace, a treaty for which was brought by Nicias. It called for fifty years of reconciliation but was broken within a decade.

Cover Photo Credit: Carole Raddato

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