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The Corinthian War: The Early Years

In 395 BC, the initial fighting of the war consisted on early events between the Thebans and other cultures. According to Xenophon, the Thebans took out their frustrations of not being bold enough to challenge Sparta by choosing to ‘pick on someone else.’ So they stirred a war by involving an ally of Sparta.

They first encouraged their allies (the Locrians) to collect taxes from a territory that belonged to both the Locris and the Phocis (who were allies of Sparta). The Phocians reacted by invading Locris and ransacking the land. The Locrians asked Thebes for help, and gladly invaded the Phocian territory. The Phocians asked Sparta to lend a hand in the matter, which Sparta was quite interested in doing. Eager to teach the Thebans a lesson, Sparta sent the order to react. Sending Theban representatives to Athens, they asked for support. When put to a vote, the Athenians agreed to help the Thebans. As a result, an alliance that had continuously existed between Athens and the Boeotian confederacy was broken.

Sparta came up with a plan. They would build two armies , one led by Lysander and the other guided by Pausanias. They decided to meet up at and attack Haliartus , a Boeotian city. Arriving first, Lysander was successful in swaying the city of Orchomenus to break free from the Boeotian confederacy. Next, Lysander went forward on making his way to Haliartus. With troops in hand, he hoped that the extra Orchomenians would give him an advantage. Unfortunately, he lost his life in the Battle of Haliartus. His downfall: bringing his soldiers too close to the walls of the city.

In the end, there was no clear winner. While the Spartans lost early, they managed to best a group of Thebans who marched towards the Spartans. One day later, Pausanias finally arrived and was able to take back the bodies of the dead Spartans after a truce was made. He returned to Sparta and was met with leaders quite unhappy with his efforts. He was put on trial for not being by Lysander’s side when his assistance was greatly needed. Before he could be convicted, Pausanias fled to Tegea.

394 BC , War Breaks Out on Land and Sea

After a fleeting battle between the Thebans and Phocians took place, the Thebans enjoyed a victory. The allies then assembled a sizeable army at Corinth. To meet this collection of soldiers, Sparta sent out an equally large number of warriors. The dry bed of Nemea River served as the location for the forces to collide, which was incidentally Corinthian land. The Spartans took this victory. They fought the kind of battle that saw triumphant progress from the right flank of each army.

The Spartans defeated the Athenians. However, the Thebans, Argives, and Corinthians bested the other Peloponnesians waging a war against them. The defeat on the side of the allies was short-lived. The Spartans attacked and took the lives of many Argives, Corinthians, and Thebans as they made their way back from their recent win. Sparta and their allies lost about 1,100 lives, while the coalition army licked their wounds with 2,800 less men in their forces.