Nepos, Life of Iphicrates

Cornelius Nepos: Life of Iphicrates, Lives of Eminent Commanders, Translated by the Rev. John Selby Watson, MA (1886). A work in the public domain edited and placed on line by Roger Pearse at This text has 9 tagged references to 7 ancient places.
CTS URN: urn:cts:latinLit:phi0588.abo011; Wikidata ID: Q87769143;     [Open Latin text in new tab]

§ 1  Iphicrates of Athens has become renowned, not so much for the greatness of his exploits, as for his knowledge of military tactics; for he was such a leader, that he was not only comparable to the first commanders of his own time, but no one even of the older generals could be set above him. He was much engaged in the field; he often had. the command of armies; he never miscarried in an undertaking by his own fault; he was always eminent for invention, and such was his excellence in it, that he not only introduced much that was new into the military art, but made many improvements in what existed before. He altered the arms of the infantry; for whereas, before he became a commander, they used very large shields, short spears, and small swords, he, on the contrary, introduced the pelta instead of the parma (from which the infantry were afterwards called peltastae), that they might be more active in movements and encounters; he doubled the length of the spear, and made the swords also longer. He likewise changed the character of their cuirasses, and gave them linen ones instead of those of chain-mail and brass; a change by which he rendered the soldiers more active; for, diminishing the weight, he provided what would equally protect the body, and be light.

Event Date: -350 LA

§ 2  He made war upon the Thracians, and restored Seuthes, the ally of the Athenians, to his throne. At Corinth he commanded the army with so much strictness, that no troops in Greece were ever better disciplined, or more obedient to the orders of their leader; and he brought them to such a habit, that when the signal for battle was given them by their general, they would stand so regularly drawn up, without any trouble on the part of the commander, that they seemed to have been severally posted by the most skilful captain. With this army he cut off a mora of the Lacedaemonians; an exploit which was highly celebrated through all Greece. In this war, too, he defeated all their forces a second time, by which success he obtained great glory.
Artaxerxes, when he had resolved to make war upon the king of Egypt, asked the Athenians to allow Iphicrates to be his general, that he might place him at the head of his army of mercenaries, the number of whom was twelve thousand. This force he so instructed in all military discipline, that as certain Roman soldiers were formerly called Fabians, so the Iphicrateans were in the highest repute among the Greeks.
Going afterwards to the relief of the Lacedaemonians, he checked the efforts of Epaminondas; for, had not he been drawing near, the Thebans would not have retreated from Sparta until they had taken and destroyed it by fire.

Event Date: -350 LA

§ 3  He was a man of large mind and large body, and of an appearance indicating the commander so that by his very look he inspired every one with admiration of him. But in action he was too remiss, and too impatient of continued exertion, as Theopompus has recorded. Yet he was a good citizen, and a person of very honourable feelings, as he showed, not only in other transactions, but also in protecting the children of Amyntas the Macedonian; for Eurydice, the mother of Perdiccas and Philip, fled with these two boys, after the death of Amyntas, to Iphicrates, and was secure under his power. He lived to a good old age, with the feelings of his countrymen well affected towards him.
He was once brought to trial for his life, at the time of the Social war, together with Timotheus, and was acquitted.
He left a son named Menestheus, whom he had by a Thracian woman, the daughter of King Cotys. When this son was asked whether he had more regard for his father or his mother, he replied, For his mother. As this answer appeared strange to all who heard it, he added, I do so with justice; for my father, as far as was in his power, made me a Thracian, but my mother, as far as she could, made me an Athenian.

Event Date: -350 LA
Event Date: -40

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