Lysander was the greatest Spartan
general of the second Peloponnesian War
Although his family was supposedly descended from Heracles, they were quite poor and Lysander became a mothax, a Spartan whose education was sponsored by the state. Although he was poor he made powerful friends becoming the lover of Agesilaus, the son of King Archidamus.
He was appointed Admiral-in-Chief in 407B.C. during the Ionian War. He was assigned to the coast of Asia Minor where he became good friends with Cyrus the Younger. He used this friendship to acquire the funds Sparta had been seeking since the start of the Peloponnesian War. In the autumn of 407B.C. he won a victory against Alcibiades' subordinate at Notium that led to Alcibiades' dismissal. He was recalled in 406B.C. because the position of Admiral-in-Chief was only tenable for one year.
The man sent out to replace Lysander was Callicratidas. Unfortunately Callicratidas was from the opposing faction in Sparta and he was dubious of getting help from Persia. Lysander had set about to make Callicratidas' life difficult, he had returned any unused money to Cyrus, and his men were whispering about Callicratidas' inferiority compared to Lysander. Later in 406B.C. Athens won a great victory at Arginusae, killing Callicratidas and sinking around 70 ships.
Cyrus and the cities supporting Sparta put pressure on Sparta to reinstate Lysander. Sparta responded by making
Aracus the Admiral-in-Chief, with Lysander as his Vice-Admiral, but Lysander was clearly the one in command.
When he resumed command in 405 B.C. Lysander received a large amount of money from Cyrus, who had been recalled to his father's side. With the money Lysander moved his base of operations to the Hellespont to block the Athenian grain supply. At the battle of Aegospotami he engaged the Athenian fleet and destroyed it, leaving Athens with only 12 triremes in their navy. He then ended the war by sending all the Athenian prisoners home, he blockaded Athens, leaving it with a large population and almost no food. When Athens had surrendered the Spartans installed the thirty tyrants and destroyed the city walls to the sound of flutes, however Lysander refused to destroy the city because it had done great things for Greece.
Lysander's achievements were honoured with dedications and monuments, indeed on Samos he was worshipped as a god.
Although his influence waned after the war he carried enough weight to get Agesilaus made king and persuaded Sparta to support Cyrus' coup in 401B.C.. He also succeeded in getting Agesilaus the command against Persia in 396B.C.. He had hoped to use Agesilaus to reinforce the weakened decarchies he had set up in the Peloponnesian War, however Agesilaus was jealous and failed him although he did give him a powerful command in the Hellespont after Lysander persuaded Spithridates to defect from Persia.
In 395B.C. he was heavily involved in the start of war with Thebes. From Phocis he invaded Boeotia, but was killed at Haliartus before he could meet up with King Pausanias. After his death there were accusations that he had plans to implement an elective kingship in Sparta( I'll give you one guess as to who he had in mind for the first elected king). However it has been suggested that this was a ploy to discredit him posthumously.
Lysander was without doubt a superb general although sources are marred because almost all are hostile towards his imperial style.