Subject Area



Of all the figures who took part in the Peloponnesian War, perhaps no single person contributed so much to the outcome of the war as Archidamus II. However, if you scour the ancient primary sources, you will be hard-pressed to find a good, objective biography of this Spartan king. Plutarch mentions him only in passing in his Parallel Lives when writing of Agesilaus II, his son. In Xenophon’s Hellenica, Archidamus receives no mention at all, even though his descendants, one of whom bears the same name, feature prominently. Scholars must rely on Thucydides, therefore, to construct a rendering of Archidamus, son of Zeuxidamus. However, this presents a natural problem, for, as classicists have rightly pointed out for decades, Archidamus is not presented in a vacuum and often figures as a mouthpiece for Thucydides. In spite of this, the speeches of Archidamus that are recorded in the Peloponnesian War are significant, and must be intently studied to do him justice and bring out an accurate profile. This paper will seek to discredit the traditional portrait of Archidamus as dragged out of Thucydides by classicists and settle on a fairer, more realistic one, deduced by his appearances in the Peloponnesian War of Thucydides.


Providence College

Academic Year











Included in

History Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.