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Callicratidas was a Spartan naval commander in the Peloponnesian War. In 406 BC, he was sent to the Aegean to take command of the Spartan fleet from Lysander, the first navarch.

Callicratidas's tenure as navarch was short, and he encountered a number of difficulties. Chief among these were the intrigues of his predecessor, who had apparently returned the money from which the fleet was supposed to be paid for to its source, the Persian prince Cyrus. Callicratidas needed money from Cyrus to pay his men, but, as a traditionalist Spartan, he was loath to request it from a Persian. His halfhearted attempts to secure funding from Cyrus fell through, and he was forced to find an alternate source of funds, which the city of Miletus eventually provided.

After winning an initial victory against the Athenian admiral Conon, Callicratidas came up against a sizable Athenian force sent out to relieve Conon. He met this force at the battle of Arginusae in 406 BC. His force was soundly defeated, and Callicratidas himself was killed. After his death, Lysander returned from Sparta to again take up the post of navarch.

Callicratidas is remembered as a Spartan of the old school. He disdained the policy of alliance with Persia that had come into favor under Lysander, and he stated that if the choice were his, he would seek peace with Athens. The increasing role of money in Spartan politics and diplomacy offended his traditionalist, antimaterialist sensibilities. Although unsuccessful in his command, he won the respect of many Spartans and allies, and was well regarded after his death.


  • Plutarch, Parallel Lives
  • Kagan, Donald. The Peloponnesian War (Penguin Books, 2003). ISBN 0670032115
  • Fine, John V.A. The Ancient Greeks: A critical history (Harvard University Press, 1983) ISBN 0674033140

An excerpt from Plutarch's life of Lysander, which deals with Callicratidas's time as navarch

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