Battle of Lechaion

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Battle of Lechaion was a skirmish between Spartan and Athenian troops during the Corinthian War around 390 BC. It was imposed on the Spartans and cannot be considered a field battle. Only a small, spartan contingent was involved. A part of the Spartan occupation force of the Corinthian port city of Lechaion was wiped out by a force of Athenian lightly armed men in long-range combat.


Since 395 BC Sparta fought against a large coalition of Greek states for hegemony in the Greek motherland. Around 390 BC After the battle between the walls of Corinth , after the battle between the walls of Corinth, the small town of Lechaion on the Gulf of Corinth was occupied , while Corinth itself remained in the hands of the enemy. Sparta deployed an occupation because the place was considered strategically important. This occupation force included a large number of Spartians . Perhaps this decision was made easier by the fact that one felt safe close to home and that the troops could be exchanged in quick succession.

The troops accompanied the full citizens of Amyclai through the hostile country so that they could have the opportunity to take part in the festival of Hyacinthia at home . The rest of the hoplites turned back at the border with the allied territory, while the unit's cavalry accompanied the Amyclaians a little further.


On the way from Sikyon to Lechaion the remains of the troops were covered maximum 600 men strong, and by any other units, in Athens Sold standing peltasts under Iphicrates attacked. The lightly armed men attacked the uncovered sides of the Spartans with long-range weapons. Against possible attacks by the Spartans, the Peltasts were covered by Athenian hoplites under the general Kallias.

Because of the prudent management of the Peltasts, the Spartans had high losses through the use of long-range weapons, especially among the younger generation, who were sent out according to newer Spartan tactics to drive away the Peltasts while running. However, even with the help of the returned cavalry, they did not succeed . They could not follow the Peltasts very far, as they withdrew into the protection of the Athenian hoplites. When the Spartans tried to attack them, the Peltasts again showered them so heavily with their projectiles that the Lacedaemonians had to shut themselves up.

During these skirmishes, the unit slowly moved towards Lechaion. At some distance from the place the troops were split up or order simply collapsed. In any case, some of the men fled to Lechaion on small boats and some with the cavalry.


The Spartans lost around 250 people. Iphikrates was able to capture several Spartan fortifications in the area in the aftermath of the battle. Overall, the battle was not of a decisive nature. But it showed that the Spartans had learned nothing from the lesson on Sphakteria . The loss of full citizens should not have been high, since the Amyclaians, roughly a fifth of the Spartians, were not present and the mix of full citizens and other Lacedaemonians was meanwhile strongly towards their side. Furthermore, it can be assumed that the unit was quite thinned out, since a full citizen could not gain honor with occupation service. Nonetheless, the defeat weakened the already fragile Spartan hegemony in Greece.



  • John F. Lazenby: The Spartan Army . Aris & Phillips, Warminster 1985.