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Iphicrates (d. c. 353 BC) was an Athenian general, son of a shoemaker, flourished in the earlier half of the 4th century BC.

He owes his fame as to the improvements which he made in the accoutrements of the peltasts or light-armed mercenaries (so called from their round shield) as to his military successes.

Increased the length of their javelins and swords, substituting linen elets for their heavy coats-of-mail, and introducing the use kind of light leggings, called after him iphicratides, he eased greatly the rapidity of their movements. He also paid special attention to discipline, drill and maneuvres. With his peltasts, Iphicrates dealt the Spartans a heavy blow in 392 BC-390 BC by almost annihilating a mora (battalion of about 600 men) of their famous hoplites.

Following up success, he took city after city for the Athenians; but in equence of a quarrel with the Argives he was transferred from Corinth to the Hellespont, where he was equally successful. After the peace of Antalcidas (387 BC) he assisted Seuthes, king of Thracian Odrysae, to recover his kingdom, and fought against Cotys, with whom, however, he subsequently concluded an alliance. About 378 BC, he was sent with a force of mercenaries to assist the Persians to reconquer Egypt; but a dispute with Pharnabazus led to the failure of the expedition. On his return to Athens he commanded an expedition in 373 BC for the relief of Corcyra, which was besieged by the Lacedaemonians.

On the peace of 371 BC, Iphicrates returned to Thrace, and somewhat tarnished his fame by siding with his father-in-law Cotys in a war against Athens for the possession of the entire Chersonese. The Athenians, however, soon pardoned him and gave him a joint command in the Social War. He and two of his colleagues were impeached by Chares, the fourth commander, because they had refused to give battle during a violent storm.

Iphicrates was acquitted but sentenced to pay a heavy fine. He afterwards remained at Athens (according to some he retired to Thrace) till his death (about 353 BC).

This article incorporates text from the public domain 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica.

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