Battle of Sepeia

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Battle of Sepeia
Date 494 BC
Location Sepeia, Tiryns
Result Spartan victory
Sparta Argos
Commanders and leaders
Cleomenes I
Casualties and losses

At the Battle of Sepeia (Ancient Greek: Σήπεια) (c. 494 BC[1]), the Spartan forces of Cleomenes I defeated the Argives, fully establishing Spartan dominance in the Peloponnese.[2]

The closest thing to a contemporaneous source for the description of the battle is, as for many events in this time period, the Histories of Herodotus (written approximately fifty years later, c. 440 BC).[3] According to Herodotus, the Spartan army tricked the Argives into believing that the Spartans were going to their evening meal, and when the Argives did the same, the Spartans picked up their weaponry and attacked them, gaining an overwhelming victory. The battle is a controversial one in terms of the Spartan legend for, according to Herodotus, Spartan king Cleomenes massacred the remaining Argives most by burning them alive[4] in the sacred grove of Argos to which they had fled for refuge.[3]


  1. ^ There is some uncertainty about the date: see Democracy Beyond Athens: Popular Government in the Greek Classical Age by Eric W. Robinson, pp. 7-9
  2. ^ Britannica. In 494 he inflicted a severe defeat on Argos at Sepeia near Tiryns 
  3. ^ a b Herodotus, The Histories, bk 6, 75-81, translated by G. C. Macaulay, available online at
  4. ^ Oxford Reference. In 494 Cleomenes defeated Argos at Sepeia near Tiryns and unscrupulously exploited his victory by burning several thousand Argive survivors to death