Brasidas
hoplite Brasidas, son of Tellis, was a Spartiate—a full citizen of Sparta and a member of its highest military caste. Plato, towards the end of the Symposium, has Alcibiades compare Brasidas to Achilles, and it has been argued that Thucydides' presentation of Brasidas bears comparison with a Homeric aristeia—a celebration of the epic hero's valor. Brasidas was, to be sure, one of the Peloponnesian War's few outstanding military heroes and, like Achilles, he died an untimely death.

He appears first in the narrative in the opening year of the war (431), when by a rapid and energetic dash through enemy lines he saves the coastal town of Methone from capitulation to an Athenian raiding party (2.25.2; see next page). In the year after Methone (431/0), Brasidas was Eponymous Ephor, and in 425 he was a trierarch at the Battle of Pylos where, although he "distinguished himself" (fanerw&tatoj) in the fighting, he ultimately fainted from his wounds and lost his shield (4.12.1; see above, "Section 7. First Actions at Pylos and Sphakteria"). In 424, however, Brasidas' quick thinking once again saves the day and prevents Megara from falling into Athenian hands (see below).

Brasidas was evidently alienated from what Thucydides calls oi( prw~toi a)/ndrej of Sparta, whom Thucydides charges with envy (fqo/noj) of one of their most talented generals. Even so, his actions at Methone won him the distinction of a decree passed in his honor (2.25.2), and Thucydides praises him as "a man who was perceived as energetic [drasth&rioj] for all purposes and who when he went out was of the greatest value [plei/stou a)/cioj] to the Spartans" (4.81.1). He is, above all, the hero of the Amphipolis campaign—honored, after he falls, with a hero's burial by the Amphipolitans, and thereafter celebrated, through games and annual offerings, as the city's true founder (5.11.1). At Sparta, his cenotaph was just outside the agora, adjacent to the tombs of the Spartan kings Leonidas and Pausanias.

Above right: Bronze statuette of a hoplite from Dodona.
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