Warfare > Battle of Cnidus

Battle of Cnidus


The Battle of Cnidus, which took place in 394 BCE, was a significant naval engagement between the fleets of the Achaemenid Empire and an alliance of Greek city-states led by Athens and Sparta. This battle occurred during the Corinthian War, a conflict that involved various Greek city-states and their allies against the Achaemenid Empire and its allies. Here's an overview of the Battle of Cnidus:

The Corinthian War (395–387 BCE) erupted as a result of power struggles among the Greek city-states and their rival alliances, including the Peloponnesian League led by Sparta and the Corinthian League led by Athens. During this time, the Achaemenid Empire, under King Artaxerxes II, supported Sparta and its allies financially and militarily as part of its strategy to maintain influence in the Greek world and weaken Athens.

Key Players:

Achaemenid Fleet: The Persian navy, led by Pharnabazus, a Persian satrap, and Conon, an Athenian admiral, consisted of a formidable fleet of triremes and other warships.

Greek Alliance Fleet: The Greek fleet was comprised primarily of Athenian ships, along with vessels from other Greek city-states allied with Athens, such as Argos and Corinth.

Course of the Battle:

The Battle of Cnidus took place off the coast of Cnidus, a city located in southwestern Anatolia (modern-day Turkey). The Persian fleet, commanded by Pharnabazus and Conon, engaged the Greek fleet led by the Spartan admiral Pisander. Conon, who had previously been in exile but had returned to Athens with a fleet provided by the Achaemenid Empire, played a crucial role in organizing and leading the Greek forces. In the ensuing naval battle, the Athenian ships, which were better manned and more experienced, outmaneuvered and overwhelmed the Spartan-led fleet. The Persian navy scored a decisive victory, sinking or capturing many of the Spartan ships and effectively ending Spartan naval dominance in the region.


The Battle of Cnidus marked a turning point in the Corinthian War, shifting the balance of power in favor of the Athenian-led alliance and weakening Spartan influence in the Aegean Sea. Following their victory, the Athenians, with Persian support, were able to regain control over several strategic islands and coastal territories, further consolidating their naval strength. The defeat at Cnidus prompted Sparta to seek peace negotiations, ultimately leading to the conclusion of the Corinthian War with the King's Peace in 387 BCE.


The Battle of Cnidus demonstrated the effectiveness of the Athenian navy, particularly when supported by Persian resources, in challenging Spartan hegemony in the Aegean Sea. The victory at Cnidus contributed to a period of relative stability and Athenian maritime supremacy in the eastern Mediterranean, albeit with continued Persian influence in Greek affairs. In summary, the Battle of Cnidus was a significant naval engagement that resulted in a decisive victory for the Achaemenid-supported Greek fleet, marking a turning point in the Corinthian War and reshaping the balance of power in the Aegean region.

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