Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Conon (c. 450 b.c.–390 b.c.)

Athenian naval commander who ended Spartan naval hegemony after the Peloponnesian War and enabled Athens to return to the sea. Born into a prominent Athenian family about the middle of the fifth century b.c., Conon is first mentioned in command of a force at Naupactus in 413 b.c. Elected general several times in the closing years of the Peloponnesian War, he lost 30 triremes in 406 b.c. in an encounter with Callicratidas, the Spartan nauarch (admiral), near Lesbos, and was trapped in the harbor of Mytilene until the Athenian victory at Arginusae. In 405 b.c. he was the sole general to escape from the destruction of the Athenian fleet at Aegospotami, but fearing to return to Athens, he took refuge with Evagoras, the pro-Athenian king of Salamis in Cyprus.

From 397 b.c. he was admiral of the Persian naval forces under the command of the satrap Pharnabazus, based at Caunus and Rhodes. In the summer of 394 b.c. he defeated the Peloponnesian fleet near Cnidus, ending Spartan naval supremacy in the Aegean. In the aftermath, he and Pharnabazus removed Spartan governors and pro-Spartan regimes from many Greek cities of Asia Minor and the Aegean Islands. In 393 b.c. he visited Athens, bringing funds for rebuilding the fortifications of the Piraeus and the Long Walls between the Peiraeus and Athens. About 392 b.c. the Spartans brought him in disrepute to Tiribazus, satrap at Sardis, who arrested him, but he escaped and died some time later of natural causes on Cyprus. His son Timotheus also had a distinguished military career.

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