1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Iphicrates

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IPHICRATES, Athenian general, son of a shoemaker, flourished in the earlier half of the 4th century B.C. He owes his fame as much to the improvements which he made in the accoutrements of the peltasts or light-armed mercenaries (so called from their small round shield, πέλτη) as to his military successes. Increasing the length of their javelins and swords, substituting linen corselets for their heavy coats-of-mail, and introducing the use of a kind of light leggings, called after him “iphicratides,” he increased greatly the rapidity of their movements (Diod. Sic. xv. 44). He also paid special attention to discipline, drill and manœuvres. With his peltasts Iphicrates seriously injured the allies of the Lacedaemonians in the Corinthian War, and in 392 (or 390) dealt the Spartans a heavy blow by almost annihilating a mora (battalion of about 600 men) of their famous hoplites (Diod. Sic. xiv. 91; Plutarch, Agesilaus, 22). Following up his success, he took city after city for the Athenians; but in consequence 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) he assisted Seuthes, king of the Thracian Odrysae, to recover his kingdom, and fought against Cotys, with whom, however, he subsequently concluded an alliance. About 378 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 (Diod. Sic. xv. 29–43). On his return to Athens he commanded an expedition in 373 for the relief of Corcyra, which was besieged by the Lacedaemonians (Xenophon, Hellenica, vi. 2). On the peace of 371, 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).

There is a short sketch of his life by Cornelius Nepos; see also C. Rehdantz, Vitae Iphicratis, Chabriae et Timothei (1854); Bauer, Griech. Kriegsaltert. in Müller’s Handbuch, 4, § 49; and histories of Greece, e.g. Holm, Eng. trans., vol. iii.