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Agesilas in Egypt 361 BCE.jpg
Chabrias (left) with Spartan king Agesilaus (center), in the service of Egyptian king Nectanebo I and his regent Teos, Egypt 361 BCE.
BornAixone, Athens (now Glyfada)
Allegiance(Ancient) Athens
Battles/warsSocial War

Chabrias (Greek: Χαβρίας) was an 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.[1]

In 378 BC, when Athens entered into an alliance with Thebes against Sparta, he successfully held off the more numerous forces led by the Spartan king Agesilaus II near Thebes. With the advance of Agesilaus' forces, instead of giving the order to charge, Chabrias ordered his men to stand at ease, with their spears remaining pointing upwards instead of towards the enemy, and their shields leaning against their left knees instead of being hoisted against their shoulders.

As related by Cornelius Nepos (110-25 BC) in Book XII of his "Lives of the Excellent Commanders"<<Cornelius Nepos, Lives of the Excellent Commanders, Book XII: Chabrias, translated by John Clarke, New York, Printed for Sage & Thompson, T. & J. Ronald, and Brisban & Branham, 1806>>:

...he forbad the rest of the phalanx to quit their ground, and taught them to receive the enemy's attack, with their knee rested against their shield, and their spears held out...This was so much celebrated in Greece, that Chabrias had a fancy to have the statue made for him in that posture, which was erected for him at the public charge by the Athenians in the forum. From whence it was, that afterwards wrestlers, and other artists, in the erecting of their statues, made use of those postures in which they had gotten a victory.

Chabrias' 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. It was said that this "show of contempt" stopped the advancing Spartan forces, and shortly afterwards Agesilaus withdrew.[2]

In 376 BC 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 further action against the Spartans so that his forces could 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 376–375 BC the Triballi under the command of king Hales crossed Mount Haemus and advanced as far as Abdera, nearly destroying the city until Chabrias negotiated a peace between the Triballi and the king of Maronea, winning over the Triballi to the Athenian side.[3]

In 373 BC, Chabrias won the four-horse chariot race at the Pythian Games, and held a feast in celebration.[4]

In 366 BC, 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 BC), he joined Chares in commanding the Athenian fleet. He lost his life in an attack on the island of Chios.

See also[edit]

  • Charitimides, an Athenian admiral who fought for the Egyptians against the Achaemenids in the 5th century.


  1. ^ Xenophon (1890s), Hellenica, H. G. Dakyns
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ Irina Florov; Nicholas Florov (2001). Three-thousand-year-old hat. Golden Vine Publishers. p. 114. ISBN 978-0-9688487-0-8.
  4. ^ Pseudo-Demosthenes, Against Neaira, 59.33