Battle of Tanagra (457 BC)

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The Battle of Tanagra was a major clash between Athens and Sparta in the First Peloponnesian War (457 BC – 445 BC) and took place at the beginning of this war in 457 BC. Instead of. Sparta won.


Tensions increased between Athens and Sparta after the historic victories over the Persians, which were still fought together. On the one hand, Sparta was suspicious of Athens' efforts to build a huge fortress with the construction of the Long Walls between Athens and Piraeus. In addition, the increasing democratization of Athens under Ephialtes was a thorn in the side of Sparta . In addition, alliances were formed instead of the earlier Panhellenic fighting community, so that the question of hegemony in the Greek state system arose. Athens initiated the Attic League , in which it increasingly dominated. At the same time it fell into rivalry to a number of city-states ( Aegina , Corinth , Epidaurus , Doris ), which then sought support from Sparta. When Thebes , the capital of Boeotia , also joined Sparta in order to obtain help against Phocis from him , Athens saw itself threatened from the west as from the north. The war broke out.

Course of the battle

The main source of the connections, the course and the consequences of the battle is the later Athenian strategist Thucydides (The Peloponnesian War, Book I, 107/108). Nicodemes of Sparta first marched with 11,500 hoplites from Sparta and their allies towards Thebes, whereupon Athens blocked this force's way back to the Peloponnese. The Spartans decided to face the Athenians in Boeotia, who marched towards them with 14,000 men under the command of Myronides. The battle then broke out near Tanagra , east of Thebes, at the foot of the Parnes Mountains, which separates Attica from Boeotia. During this period the Thessalian horsemen, initially allied with Athens, apparently defected to the other side. The Spartans could win the fight, even if they lost many hoplites , but at least the way back to Sparta was now open again.


So while the Spartans were returning home, the Athenians took the opportunity to reorganize themselves so that two months later they could win the Battle of Oinophyta against Thebes and thus gain control over central Greece.