Chabrias (Greek: Χαβρίας) was a celebrated Athenian general of the 4th century BC. In 388 BC he defeated the Spartans and Aeginetans under Gorgopas at Aegina and commanded the fleet sent to assist Evagoras, king of Cyprus, against the Persians.
In 378, when Athens entered into an alliance with Thebes against Sparta, he successfully faced off the more numerous forces of Agesilaus II near Thebes. At the advance of Agesilaus' forces, instead of giving the order to charge, Chabrias famously ordered his men at ease—with the spear remaining pointing upwards instead of towards the enemy, and the shield leaning against the left knee instead of being hoisted against the shoulder. The command was followed immediately and without question by the mercenaries under his command, to be copied by their counterparts beside them, the elite Sacred Band of Thebes under the command of Gorgidas. This "show of contempt" stopped the advancing Spartan forces, and shortly afterwards Agesilaus withdrew.
In 376 he gained a decisive victory over the Spartan fleet off Naxos, but, when he might have destroyed the Spartan fleet, remembering the fate of the generals at Arginusae, he delayed to pick up the bodies of his dead. Later, when the Athenians changed sides and joined the Spartans, he repulsed Epaminondas before the walls of Corinth.
In 366, he and Callistratus were accused of treachery in advising the surrender of Oropus to the Thebans. He was acquitted, and soon after he accepted a command under Teos, king of Egypt, who was defending his country against Persian reconquest. But on the outbreak of the Social War (357), he joined Chares in the command of the Athenian fleet. He lost his life in an attack on the island of Chios.
- Mark H. Munn (1993). The Defense of Attica: The Dema Wall and the Boiotian War of 378-375 B.C.. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0520076853.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
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