Battle of Corinth

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The Battle of Corinth was part of the Corinthian War , which began around 392 BC. A Spartan intervention in a domestic political dispute in Corinth resulted in a strategically meaningless victory of the Spartans over units of the Athenians , Argives , Corinthians and Boeotians .

Starting position

In the course of the Corinthian War , a large faction had formed in Corinth as the polis whose territory and people had to suffer most from the campaigns and, under the leadership of aristocrats, articulated that after the alliance change of 395 it would be better to rejoin the Spartans should. The opinion leaders of this faction were murdered in a brutal act of violence, and the city leaned heavily on Argos. Due to the rigorous approach to the action and in the time afterwards, many Corinthians faced the danger of the state's ruin. Argos strove to integrate the city into its state. Opponents of this perspective turned to the Spartan commander in Sikyon , who secured this front city with a regiment ( mora ). The liaison officers stated that they could open the long walls between Corinth and the port of Lechaion . The commandant Praxitas accepted the suggestion. With his regiment, armed forces from Sicyon and exiles from Corinth, he went to the wall that was opened for them at night. The hurriedly called allies should join as soon as possible.

The troops pulled through the opening and initially took up position facing the city, reinforced by a palisade and ditch. Leaning against the eastern wall were the Corinthians, to the right of them the Sicyonians and on the right wing the regiment of the Spartan civil army. They apparently fortified the distance to the western wall like a field. On the second day, the opponents arrived, who also positioned themselves in the space between the walls: Peltasten leaning against the wall under the Athenian Iphikrates , then the intervention force hurried from Argos and finally the Corinthians from the city on the left wing. Finally, in the rear of the Spartan army, there was still a Boeotic garrison of the port area. It is hardly possible to determine the size of the army. The Spartan regiment could have comprised around 600 to 800 men, the exiled Corinthians were, according to Xenophon, around 150. The number of Sicyonians is not known. In any case, the opponents of the Spartans were in great majority.

Course of the battle

The Argives apparently marched first on their counterpart, the Sicyonians, and quickly put them to flight. They tore down the fortifications and pursued the enemy towards the coast. The Sicyonians suffered great losses. Even the Spartan cavalry could not prevent this; on the contrary, they themselves had to mourn deaths, so the dismounted cavalry leader also fell.

In the meantime the exiled Corinthians had put their opponents, the Peltasts of Iphicrates, to flight and followed them to under the city walls of Corinth. After gaps in the tradition text of the Xenophon, we see the Spartans pursuing the Argives, which probably means that they had knocked the Corinthians out of the field. The Argives turned away from the annihilation of the Sicyonians and tried to run away from the encirclement by the Spartans. They were caught in the uncovered flank and now, pressed against the wall, sought their salvation in their flight to Corinth. But when the exiled Corinthians got in their way, an utter panic apparently broke out. The Spartans and exiled Corinthians locked their opponents in and killed very many in a confined space. A large part of the Boeotian garrison of the port were among the dead. The men must have joined the Argives in the fighting on the coast or tried to free them over the walls. There are no figures on the losses on either side, but Xenophon reports on mountains of dead Argives on the wall.

When the carnage was over, the allies of the Spartans arrived. Praxitas had the walls torn down, occupied Lechaion and two places east of Corinth, and fortified and occupied a Corinthian place in the border area with Sicyon. Then he dismissed the troops of the allies.

Consequences of the battle

With this ad hoc procession, the Lacedaemonians removed the uncomfortable interruption of their freedom of movement by the Corinthian walls, and occupied the port of Lechaion, which is important for Corinth, and other places around the city. However, the victory was not decisive. Corinth had not been conquered and therefore remained on the side of the enemy. On the contrary, he soon became active again in the form of the Peltasts of Iphikrates, who had probably been able to save themselves from the battle. The Athenians soon closed the breach in the wall again. The Spartan garrison of Lechaion did not stop them. The downfall of the occupation force of Lechaion some time later showed that Sparta was not in a position to change the situation permanently in its favor.