Lysander in Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities
A Spartan, who rose to eminence towards the end of the Peloponnesian War, and was placed in command of the Lacedaemonian troops, on the coast of Asia Minor, B.C. 407. Having about him little of the old Spartan severity, and being ready to sacrifice that personal and national pride and inflexibility, which were the peculiar characteristics of the Spartan institutions, to personal or national interests, he gained in an unusual degree the regard and confidence of his Persian allies. This he used to the best advantage, by seizing a favourable moment to obtain from the younger Cyrus, the Persian viceroy in Asia Minor, in place of any personal advantage, the addition of an obolus daily (somewhat more than two cents of our money) to every seaman in the Peloponnesian fleet. During his year's command he defeated the Athenian fleet commanded by Antiochus, as lieutenant of Alcibiades, at Notium. In September, B.C. 406, he was superseded by Callicratidas, who was defeated and slain in the memorable battle of Arginusae. The allies then petitioned that Lysander might be reappointed. It was contrary to Spartan law to intrust a fleet twice to the same person; but this difficulty was evaded by nominating another individual as commander-in-chief and sending Lysander as lieutenant with the command in Asia. He soon justified the preference by gaining the decisive victory of Aegospotami, in the Hellespont, where 170 Athenian ships were taken. This, in effect, finished the war. Receiving, as he went, the submission of her allies, Lysander proceeded leisurely to Athens, and blockaded her ports, while the Spartan kings marched into Attica and invested the city, which, unassaulted, was reduced by the sure process of famine. The capitulation being settled, B.C. 404, Lysander had the proud satisfaction of entering as victor the Piraeus or harbour of Athens, which had been unviolated by the presence of an enemy since the Persian invasion. His services and reputation gained for him corresponding weight at Sparta; and, on occasion of the contested succession, his influence was powerful in raising Agesilaüs to the throne. He accompanied that eminent statesman and soldier during his first campaign in Asia, where his popularity and renown threw his superior into the shade and an estrangement resulted, in which Lysander conducted himself with temper and wisdom. About B.C. 396 he returned to Sparta. In the following year, on occasion of a quarrel with Thebes, he was sent into Phocis to collect contingents from the northern allies, a task for which his name and popularity rendered him peculiarly fit. Having done this, and being on his way to join the Lacedaemonian army, he was surprised and slain by the Thebans at Haliartus in Boeotia. The force which he had collected was dispersed, and the war at once came to an end, with no credit to the Lacedaemonians, B.C. 395.
It is said that, urged by ambitious hopes, he meditated a scheme for abolishing the hereditary right of the descendants of Heracles, and rendering the Spartan throne elective, and that he had tampered largely with different oracles to promote his scheme. Xenophon, however, a contemporary historian, makes no mention of this rumour. The subject has been discussed by Thirlwall, in an appendix to the fourth volume of his History of Greece. This writer thinks that Lysander actually formed such a project; and that the same motive which induced the Spartan government to hush up the affair would certainly have led Xenophon carefully to avoid all allusion to it. There is a life of Lysander by Plutarch, and another by Nepos.