Lisandro tra due modelli: Pausania l’aspirante tiranno, Brasida il generale
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In Lysander’s Life (14, 3) Plutarch mentions Lysander’s attempt to colonize Sestos by installing there his seamen, after taking the town from the Athenians and expelling its inhabitants. His attempt failed for Spartan opposition. According to Plutarch, on this occasion, for the first time Spartan government didn’t support Lysander who was compelled to abandon his plan. Lysander’s project could not invoke a sure precedent in Spartan history. As it seems, it was a new, personal initiative of ‘imperial’ politics, with the purpose of strengthening the relationship between commander and soldiers, and of making Lysander popular among his fleet’s sailors. Had Lysander any model for his colonial initiative in mind? Or was it only connected with the navarch’s powerful, innovating personality? Lysander’s historical experience can conjure up several models, such as Polycrates the tyrant, Brasidas the general, Pausanias the regent. Pausanias, in particular, seems to resemble Lysander as far as personality, ambitions, care of his public image, and way of life are concerned. Lysander’s contemporaries perceived such striking analogy, as attested in a sentence by king Agis II: according to Athenaeus (XII, 543 c), the king used to say that, with Lisander, Sparta bore ‘a second Pausanias’. It has been stressed that Thucydides’ account on Brasidas seems to be influenced by Lysander’s historical experience. In the same way, Diodorus’s account on Pausanias suggests that the image of Lysander influenced the perception of the Spartan regent in the Bibliotheca historica. Diodorus’ main source, Ephorus, seems to blame their analogous intolerance of the limits imposed on individuals by the Spartan tradition, and their refusal of the typical ‘Spartan way of life’. Thus, our sources suggest lively debate on Lysander as a ‘new Pausanias’ which involved historians as Ephorus and Theopompus. According to the fragments, the former probably underlined the similarities between Pausanias and Lysander, as in the contemporary tradition represented by king Agis; the latter denied such similarities by depicting Lysander as indifferent to money and pleasures, and not eager to imitate a foreign way of life. If such debate occurred, then, Lysander’s taking of Sestos to colonize it with his men as a private dominion did probably remind his contemporaries of the shadow of Pausanias’s dominion in Byzantium after the Second Persian War. Lysander did not likely mean to conjure up Pausanias’s alarming precedent; on the contrary, he probably meant to imitate Brasidas who had been Amphipolis’s founder unconditionally trusted by his soldiers, and who, nonetheless, still respected Spartan tradition. However, Lysander’s unconventional behaviour increasingly led to perceiving him as a ‘new Pausanias’, and spread worries about his personal initiatives and their constitutional consequences. Spartan apprehensions are proved by Agis’s sentence and in a similar remark by the Spartan Eteokles who, according to Plutarch (Lys. 19, 5), used to say that «Greece would not have suffered two Lysanders». So, ‘conventional’ Spartans as Agis and Eteokles gave expression to the apprehensions of Spartan conservative political groups about Lysander’s ‘unconventional’ initiatives.
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