Sphodrias (Greek: Σφοδρίας) (4th century BC) was a Spartan general during the period of Greek history known as the Spartan hegemony. In 379 BC, he was in command of a garrison in the Spartan-occupied city of Thespiae in Boeotia. Aiming to increase Spartan power in the region, he attempted to march by night to seize the Piraeus, the port of Athens. He miscalculated the length of the march, however, and when the sun rose he and his army were caught out in the middle of the Thyrian plain, still some miles from the Piraeus. He retreated back to Boeotia.
The Athenians, furious at Sphodrias' action, seized several Spartan emissaries who were in Athens at the time, and released them only when the Spartans promised that Sphodrias would be executed. Sphodrias' son Kleonymos, however, got Archidamus, the son of the Spartan king Agesilaus to intervene. Agesilaus then used his influence to secure Sphodrias' unexpected acquittal. Agesilaus justified himself by saying "it is a hard thing to put to death one who as a young man has consistently acted well and honorably, for Sparta has need of such soldiers" (Xen. Hellenica).
This infuriated the Athenians even further, and they formed an alliance with Thebes, a bitter enemy of Sparta at that time. Together with Phoebidas, who had seized Thebes several years earlier, Sphodrias came to be seen as representative of an aggressive Spartan foreign policy that alienated other states throughout Greece.
Sphodrias died at the battle of Leuctra in 371 BC.
- Fine, John V.A. The Ancient Greeks: A critical history (Harvard University Press, 1983) ISBN 0-674-03314-0
- Hodkinson, Stephen. Property and Wealth in Classical Sparta (The Classical Press of Wales, 2000) ISBN 0-7156-3040-7
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