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Ἰφικράτης), the famous Athenian general, was the son of a shoemaker, whose name seems to have been Timotheus. He first brought himself into notice by gallantly boarding a ship of the enemy (perhaps at the battle of Cnidus, B. C. 394) and bringing off the captain to his own trireme. It was from this exploit, if we may believe Justin, that the Athenians gave him the command of the forces which they sent to the aid of the Boeotians after the battle of Coroneia, when he was only 25 years old. (Arist. Rhet. 1.7.32, 9.31, 2.23.8; Plut. Apoph. p. 41. ed. Tauchn. Just. 6.5; Oros. 3.1; see Rehdantz, Vit. Iphic. Chabr. Timoth. 1.7. Berol. 1845.) In B. C. 393 we find him general of a force of mercenaries in the Athenian service at Corinth; and in this capacity he took part in the battle of Lechaeum, wherein the Lacedaemonian commander, Praxitas, having been admitted within the long walls of Corinth, defeated the Corinthian, Boeotian, Argive, and Athenian troops. (Dem. Phil. i. p. 46; Schol. ad Arist. Plut. 173; Diod. 14.86. 91; Polyaen. 1.9; Plat. Menex. p. 245; Xen. Hell. 4.4. §§ 6-12; Andoc. de Pace, p. 25; Harpocr. and Suid. s. v. Ξενικόν.) The system now adopted by the belligerent parties of mutual annoyance, by inroads on each other's territories, seems to have directed the attention of Iphicrates to an important improvement in military tactics -- the formation of a body of targeteers (πελτασταί) possessing, to a certain extent, the advantages of heavy and light-armed forces. This he effected by substituting a small target for the heavy shield, adopting a longer s word and spear, and replacing the old coat of mail by a linen corslet, while he also made his soldiers wear light shoes called afterwards, from his name, Ἰφικρατίδες. Having thus increased the efficiency of "the hands of the army," to use his own metaphor (Plut. Pel. 2), he invaded with these troops the territory of Phlius, and slew so many of the Phliaisians, that they were obliged to call in the aid of a Lacedaemonian garrison, which ever before they had carefully avoided; and he ravaged, too, the lands of Arcadia with impunity, as the Arcadian heavy-armed forces were afraid to face the targeteers. (Xen. Hell. 4.4. §§ 14-17; Diod. xiv 91, 15.44; Polyaen. 3.9; Corn. Nep. Iph. 1 ; Suid. s. v. Ἰφικρατίδες; Strab. viii. p.389.) In the spring of 392 Iphicrates with his peltasts formed part of the garrison of the fortress Peiraeum, in the Corinthian territory, whence he was summoned to the defence of Corinth, against which Agesilaus had made a feint of marching. But the real object of the Spartan king was Peiraeum, and, when it was weakened by the withdrawal of Iphicrates, he advanced and took it. Meanwhile Iphicrates reached Corinth; and here it was that, sallying forth with his targeteers, he defeated and nearly destroyed the Lacedaemonian Mora, which was on its way back to Lechaeum, after having escorted for some distance homewards the Amyclaeans of the army of Agesilaus, returning to Laconia for the celebration of the Hyacinthian festival. This exploit of Iphicrates became very celebrated throughout Greece, and had more importance assigned to it than we should be inclined at first to imagine possible, as is clear from the grief it caused in the camp of Agesilaus, from the caution with which he marched home through the Peloponnesus, and from the suspension of the Theban negotiations for terms with Sparta. Thirlwall supposes that it may have also prevented the peace between Lacedaemon and Athens, which ANDOCIDES with others had been commissioned to conclude. Iphicrates, encouraged by his success, recovered Sidus and Crommyon, which Praxitas had taken, as well as Oenöe, where Agesilaus had placed a garrison. Soon after he retired, or was dismissed, from the command, in consequence, it seems, of the jealousy of the Argives; for he had shown a desire to reduce the Corinthian territory under the power of Athens, and had put to death some Corinthians of the Argive party. He was succeeded by CHABRIAS. (Xen. Hell. 4.5, 8.34; Diod. 14.91, 92; Plut. Ages. 22; Dem. Phil. i. p. 46; c. Aristoc. p. 686; Paus. 3.10; Nep. Iph. 2; Andoc. de Pace.) In B. C. 389 he was sent to the Hellespont to counteract the operations of ANAXIBIUS, who was defeated by him and slain in the following year. In spite of his victory, however, Iphicrates was not able to prevail against ANTALCIDAS. (Xen. hell. 4.8. §§ 34, &c.; Polyaen. 3.9.)

On the peace of 387 Iphicrates did not return to Athens; but we do not know whether he acted on a command of the state or on his own judgment in aiding Seuthes, king of the Odrysae, to recover his kingdom, from which he had been expelled, possibly by Cotys (see Rehdantz, 2.4; Senec. Exc. Cont. 6.5.). Be that as it will, we find him not long after in alliance with the latter prince, who gave him his daughter in marriage, and perhaps enabled him to build the town of Δρῦς in Thrace (Dem. c. Arist. p. 663; Anaxand. apud Athen. iv. p. 131; Nep. Iph. 2, 3; Isaeus, de Haer. Menecl. § 7; Polyaen. 3.9; Suid. and Harpocr. s. v. Δρῦς.) When the Athenians, in B. C. 377, recalled Chabrias from the service of Acoris, king of Egypt, on the remonstrance of Pharnabazus, they also sent Iphicrates with 20,000 Greek mercenaries to aid the satrap in reducing Egypt to obedience. Several years, however, wasted by the Persians in preparation, elapsed before the allied troops set forth from Acè (Acre). They met with some success at first, till a dispute arose between Iphicrates and Pharnabazus, the former of whom was anxious to attack Memphis, while the over-cautious satrap would not consent, and (much time having been lost) when the season of the Nile's inundation came on, he drew off his army. Iphicrates, remembering the fate of CONON, and fearing for his personal safety, fled to Athens, and was denounced to the Athenians by Pharnabazus as having caused the failure of the expedition. The people promised to punish him as he deserved; but the next year (B. C. 373) they appointed him to command against Mnasippus in Corcyra, in conjunction with CALLISTRATUS and Chabrias, with the former of whom he also joined in prosecuting TIMOTHEUS, the superseded general. In getting ready the fleet necessary for this service, Iphicrates exhibited great and probably not over-scrupulous activity; and the Athenians allowed him (perhaps through the influence of Callistratus) to make use of all the ships round the coast, even the Paralus and Salaminia, on a promise from him that he would send back a great number in return for them. The state of affairs in the West left him no time to lose, and his crews were in a very imperfect state of training; but he remedied this by making the whole voyage an exercise of naval tactics. On his way he landed in Cephallenia (where he received fill assurance of the death of Mnasippus), and having brought over the island to the Athenians, he sailed on to Corcyra. Defeating here the force which Dionysius I. of Syracuse had sent to the aid of the Lacedaemonians, he carried on the war with vigour till the peace of 371 put an end to operations and recalled him to Athens. (Xen. Hell. 6.2, 3; Diod. 15.29, 41-43, 47, 16.57; Nep. Iph. 2; Dem. c. Tim. pp. 1187, 1188.) In B. C. 369, when the Peloponnesus was invaded by Epaminondas, Iphicrates was appointed to the command of the forces voted by Athens for the aid of Sparta; but he did not effect, perhaps he did not wish to effect, any thing against the Thebans, who made their way back in safety through an unguarded pass of the Isthmus. (See Vol. II. p. 22b; Rehdantz, 4.6.) About B. C. 367, he was sent against Amphipolis, apparently, however, to observe rather than to act, so small was the force committed to him. At this period it was that he listened to the entreaties of EURYDICE, the widow of Amyntas II. (who had adopted Iphicrates as his son), and drove out from Macedonia the pretender Pausanias. But, notwithstanding this favour, Ptolemy of Alorus, the regent of Macedon, and the reputed paramour of Eurydice, supported Amphipolis against Iphicrates, who, with the aid of the adventurer CHARIDEMUS, continued the war for three years, at the end of which time the Amphipolitans agreed to surrender, and gave hostages for the fulfilment of their promise; immediately after which Iphicrates was superseded by Timotheus. (Aesch. de Fals. Ieg. pp. 31, 32; Nep. Iph. 3; Dem. c. Arist. p. 669; Suid. s. v. Κάρανος.)

The connection of Iphicrates with Cotys may perhaps have led to the decree which deprived him of the command in those parts; and, if any alarm was felt by the Athenians on this score, the result proved that it was not unfounded, for we find him soon after aiding his father-in-law in his war with Athens for the possession of the Tbracian Chersonesus. This seems, indeed, to have been the ground of the γραφὴ ξενίας which Timothens pledged himself in the strongest way to bring against him, though he afterwards abandoned it, and even gave his daughter in marriage to Menestheus, the son of Iphicrates by the daughter of Cotys. Rehdantz (6.7) supposes the word ξενίας to be used with reference to the threatened prosecution in a wide sense and with pretty nearly the meaning of προδοσίας; but it may have been adopted to imply that Iphicrates had made himself in fact an alien, and had no longer any claim to the privileges of Athenian citizenship. Iphicrates, however, would not go so far as to assist Cotys in taking the towns which were actually in the possession of the Athenians; and feeling that his refusal made his residence in his father-in-law's dominions no longer safe, while, from his previous conduct, a return to Athens would be equally dangerous, he withdrew to Antissa first, and thence to the city (Δρῦς) which he had himself built. (Dem. c. Tim. p. 1204, c. Arist. pp. 663, 664, 673, &c.; Nep. Iph. 3.) After the death of Chabrias, Iphicrates, Timotheus, and Menestheus were joined with Chares as commanders in the Social War, and were prosecuted by their unscrupulous colleague, either because they had refused to risk an engagement (for which he was anxious) in a storm, or because he wished to screen himself from the consequences of his own rashness in actually engaging [CHARES]. The prosecution was conducted by Aristophon, the Azenian. Iphicrates and his son were brought to trial first, and appear to have endeavored to shift the danger from Timotheus by taking all the responsibility on themselves. According to the author of the lives of the Ten Orators (Lys. ad fin.), the speech in which Iphicrates defended himself was written for him by Lysias but the soldierlike boldness of the oration, as described by Dionysius (de Lys. p. 480), and exemplified in the extract given by Aristotle (Aristot. Rh. 2.23.7), seems to show that the accused was probably himself the author of it. He does not seem, however, to have trusted entirely either to his eloquence or to the justice of his cause, for we hear that he introduced into the court a body of partisans armed with daggers, and that he himself took care that the judges should see his sword during the trial. He and Menestheus were acquitted: Timotheus was arraigned afterwards, probably in the following year (B. C. 354), and condemned to a heavy fine. From the period of his trial Iphicrates seems to have lived quietly at Athens. The exact date of his death is not known, but Demosthenes (c. Meid. p. 534) speaks of him as no longer alive at that time (B. C. 348). (Diod. 16.21; Nep. Iph. 3, Tim. 3; Deinarch. c. Philoel. p. 110; Polyaen. 3.9; Arist. Rhet. 3.10.7 ; Quint. 5.10.12; Senec. Exc. Cat. 6.5; Isocr. περὶ Ἀντιδ. § 137; Rehdantz, 7.7.)

Iphicrates has been commended for his combined prudence and energy as a general. The worst words, he said, that a commander could utter were, " I should not have expected it,"-οὐκ ἂν προσεδόκησα. (Plut. Apoph. Iph. 2; Dem. Prooem. p. 1457; Polyaen. 3.9.) Like Chabrias and Chares, he was fond of residing abroad (Theopomp. apud Athen. xii. p. 532b), and we have seen that he did not allow considerations of patriotism to stand in the way of his advancement by a foreign service and alliance. Yet we do not find the Athenians depriving him of the almost unprecedented honours with which they had loaded him, and of which one Harmodius (a descendant, it seems, of the murderer of Hipparchus) had endeavoured to strip him by a prosecution. We do not know at what period this case was tried; but it was probably in B. C. 371, after the return of Iphicrates from the Ionian Sea. (Dem. c. Arist. p. 663-665; Plut. Apoph. Iph. 5; Arist. Rhet. 2.23. §§ 6, 8; Pseudo-Plut. Vit. X. Orat. Lys. ad fin.; Rehdantz, 6.2.) If the Athenians had a strong sense of his value, he appears on his part to have presumed upon it not a little. He had also, however, in all probability, a strong party in Athens (for his friendly connection with Lysias see above), and the circumstances of the times would always throw considerable power into the hands of a leader of mercenary troops.


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  • Cross-references from this page (16):
    • Aristotle, Rhetoric, 2.23.7
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 14.91
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 14.92
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 15.29
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 15.43
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 15.47
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 15.41
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 16.21
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 16.57
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 3.10
    • Xenophon, Hellenica, 4.4
    • Xenophon, Hellenica, 6.2
    • Xenophon, Hellenica, 4.5
    • Xenophon, Hellenica, 6.3
    • Plutarch, Pelopidas, 2
    • Plutarch, Agesilaus, 22
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