Year 396 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Tribunate of Saccus, Capitolinus, Esquilinus, Augurinus, Capitolinus and Priscus (or, less frequently, year 358 Ab urbe condita). The denomination 396 BC for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Dominicalendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.
The Carthaginians are forced to abandon their siege of Syracuse (begun in 398 BC), but destroy Messina. Dionysius' first war with Carthage ends with a notable victory for Dionysius, who confines his enemy's power to an area of northwest Sicily. On his return home, the Carthaginian general, Himilco, commits suicide.
Agesilaus II, the King of Sparta, campaigns successfully in Asia Minor against the PersiansatrapsPharnabazus and Tissaphernes and inflicts a major defeat on Tissaphernes at Sardis. Agesilaus agrees to a three months' truce with the Persians under Tissaphernes, the satrap of Lydia and Caria. Negotiations conducted during that time prove fruitless, and on its termination, Agesilaus raids Phrygia, where he easily captures an immense amount of booty, since Tissaphernes has concentrated his troops in Caria.
Marcus Furius Camillus is made dictator by the Romans. Camillus finally destroys the Etruscan city of Veii in southern Etruria as the town falls to Roman forces after what is said to be a 10 year siege. The capture of Veii and its surrounding territories marks the first major expansion of Rome which doubles its territory after this victory.
Kyniska becomes the first woman to win an event at the Olympic Games when the horse-drawn chariot she sponsors crosses the finish line first, even though the prohibition on women competing forces her to hire a man to drive it.