Battle of Cnidus
|Battle of Cnidus|
|Part of Corinthian War|
A Greek trireme
|Commanders and leaders|
|90 triremes||85 triremes|
|Casualties and losses|
The Battle of Cnidus (Ναυμαχία της Κνίδου; 394 BC), was a joint Athenian and Persian operation against the Spartan naval fleet in the Corinthian War. A combined Athenian-Persian fleet, led by the former Greek admiral Conon, destroyed the Spartan fleet led by the inexperienced Peisander, ending Sparta's brief bid for naval supremacy.
The battle outcome was a significant boost for the anti-Spartan coalition that resisted Spartan hegemony in the course of the Corinthian War.
In 394 BC, King Agesilaus II of Sparta and his army were recalled from Ionia to the Greek mainland to help fight the Corinthian War. The Spartan fleet, under Peisander, also began a return to Greece, sailing out from its harbor at Cnidus.
The Athenian part of the joint fleet was led by Conon, and the Persian satrap Pharnabazus led a Phoenician fleet from the Chersonese to oppose the Spartans. The fleets met near Cnidus. According to Isocrates, King Evagoras of Cyprus contributed the greatest part of the forces for the sea fight off Cnidus.
Sources are vague for the events of the battle itself. It appears that the Spartan fleet encountered advance elements of the Athenian fleet and engaged them with some success. Then the main body of the Persian fleet arrived and put the Spartans to flight, forcing them to beach many of their ships. The Spartans lost their entire fleet, with heavy casualties; 50 Spartan triremes were captured by the Persians. Peisander was killed while fighting to defend his ship.
This battle ended the Spartans' attempt to establish a naval empire. Sparta never again engaged in major military efforts at sea, and within a few years Athens had reclaimed her place as the preeminent Greek sea power.
Following his victory, Conon took his fleet to Athens, where he supervised the rebuilding of the long walls, which had been destroyed at the end of the Peloponnesian War. According to Pausanias (1.1.3), Conon commemorated the victory by establishing a sanctuary of Aphrodite (the patron goddess of Cnidus and a key deity for the Phoenicians) in Piraeus.
With Sparta removed from the scene, Persia re-established its dominance over Ionia and parts of the Aegean. The Peace of Antalcidas in 387 BC officially ceded control of these areas to Persia; it would continue to hold them until the arrival of Alexander the Great half a century later.
- Xenophon, Hellenica, IV:3:10-12
- Isocrates, Euagoras 56
- Xenophon, Hellenica
- Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca Historia