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Battle of Hysiae

The term Battle of Hysiae refers to two battles at the ancient location of Hysiae, located to the southwest of Argos and east of Tegea. The first battle took place in 669/8 BC, another in 417 BC. Both were battles between Sparta and Argos.

First battle

The first Battle of Hysiae is described by the ancient travel-writer Pausanias (2.24.7), who writes as follows:

Here are common graves of the Argives who conquered the Lacedaemonians in battle at Hysiae. This fight took place, I discovered, when Peisistratus was archon at Athens, in the fourth year of the twenty-seventh Olympiad, in which the Athenian, Eurybotus, won the foot-race. On coming down to a lower level you reach the ruins of Hysiae, which once was a city in Argolis, and here it is that they say the Lacedaemonians suffered their reverse.
— trans W.H.S. Jones and H.A. Omerod

The chronology of Pausanias would suggest that the battle was fought in 669/8 BC. All that is known is that the Argives defeated the Lacedaemonians. Some (Andrewes) have suggested that this Argive defeat of Sparta occurred when Pheidon was king (or tyrant) of Argos, since Pheidon was famed for his military success and daring, but this remains conjectural. Some scholars (Kelly, Hall) have suggested that the first battle of Hysiae was invented by the Argives.

Second battle

The second battle took place during the Peloponnesian War. It is described by the historians Thucydides (5.83.2), who actually fought in the war, and Diodorus (12.81.1), who wrote in the 1st century BC, over two hundred years later. Thucydides says that the Spartans marched against Argos in the winter of 418-417 BC with all their allies, but failed to take the city of Argos. The Spartans did, however, capture the Argive town of Hysiae, taking all the male citizens as hostages. The hostages were subsequently killed.

References

  • A. Andrewes (1956), The Greek Tyrants
  • Jonathan M. Hall (2007), A History of the Archaic Greek World, ca. 1200-479 BCE, pp. 145-154
  • T. Kelly, "Did the Argives defeat the Spartans at Hysiai in 669 BC?" American Journal of Philology 91 (1970) 31-42. [1]
  • R. Stillwell et al. (eds.), The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites (Princeton, 1976) [2]

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