In life, Lysander was a Spartan general of the Peloponnesian War who sank the Athenian navy and lay siege to the city-state itself. Athens surrendered after a deadly plague ripped through the population, leading to the victory of Sparta and earning his Embrace at the fangs of the "goddess" Artemis Orthia.
When the Pyrrhic War brought Romans into direct conﬂict with the Greek cities of southern Italy, the Italian Ventrue came into contact with Greek Ventrue who had settled the area, including recent arrivals Artemis and Lysander, who had fled west in the 4th century BCE. Lysander had established himself in the Greek city of Tarrentum which eventually fell to the Roman army led by Camilla.
Lysander and Camilla became fast friends and debated their ideas for years. The Greek taught his Italian clanmate about Ventrue history and the way he and his sire had led their unlives in Greece, a way that was completely opposite to how his sire had educated him as Artemis posed as a goddess while Collat ruled from the shadows. With Lysander at his side, Camilla returned to Rome and confronted Collat with his vision: a vision of Ventrue not only following the Romans as their empire expanded, but guiding, even directing their legions.
What happened next remains a mystery. Camilla and Lysander claimed that Collat saw the wisdom in Camilla's plan and decided to step down. Ventrue scholars assume that the two younger vampires simply destroyed their elder and covered up the evidence. Either way, Collat disappears from the clan's history at this point, and Camilla steps to the forefront with Lysander as his closest ally.
Lysander traveled throughout Italy and the Mediterranean, acting as Rome's eyes and sometimes strong hand in Kindred matters. Of course, Lysander had his own goals. His eyes looked constantly eastward to his homeland, which even then was ruled by the upstart Macedonian descendants of Alexander the Great. First, however, the Roman Ventrue faced a greater problem: Carthage. He saw great danger to Rome in that African city. It was Lysander who saw the looming threat of the Brujah.
The Greek Lysander, who had unknowingly fought the Brujah during the Peloponnesian War, had inherited his sire's hatred of the clan. In his travels on behalf of Rome, Lysander had heard many tales of Brujah walking openly among the kine of Carthage, ruling over them like gods, demanding blood-tithes and sacrifices. Lysander himself journeyed to the city to discover the truth of these rumors, and he was shocked to find them all too true. This behavior had apparently been going on for centuries, and brutal broods of Assamites and Brujah had the Carthaginian population well cowed. By the time of Lysander’s reconnaissance, some even planned to expand their infernal practices to Spain and threaten Gaul. Italy would not be far behind.
Lysander returned to Camilla to report what he had found. He no doubt embellished the tales, tainted as his perception was by his own dislike for the Brujah because of their Athenian connection. Camilla, though, was slow to act. He did not feel comfortable engaging the enemy on their own ground, and he was not so sure Carthage was truly an enemy. He had grown complacent in his position, fattened by bloody excess. Lysander urged his prince to take action again and again, but Camilla refused until the weight of Malkavian and Toreador counsel convinced him otherwise in a roundabout way.
In 265 BCE, Artemis Orthia and the Toreador Antediluvian concocted a plan to engage Rome in a war with Carthage. They summoned Lysander to the city of Syracuse ruled by the Malkavian Prince Alchias and persuaded him to go back Rome and once again plead his case to Camilla while Alchias urged the governors of Syracuse to commit soldiers to the imminent battle. The result was the First Punic War, a battle that would decide the fate of both Sicily and Corsica as well as set the tone for Brujah-Ventrue relations for centuries to come. They fought for years in an evenly matched stalemate of a war but eventually Rome proved victorious, annexing both disputed islands.
Despite the ostensible victory, Carthage remained a power to be reckoned with, and several cults of Brujah, Assamites, and Baal-revering Cainite heretics still lingered there. Alchias, Lysander, and the now fully awake Artemis all put pressure on Camilla to continue the war, but their request was denied for 20 years, when the Second Punic War began. Lysander in particular was always pushing for a "Final Solution" the conﬂict, by eradicating the entire Cainite population of the city. Camilla eventually agreed to ally with the other clans and eradicate the Assamite-Brujah menace in Carthage for all time.
When the siege came, the Roman invaders won the night, albeit at a terrible cost. Artemis Orthia herself had led the first foray into the city, and was destroyed by Brujah berserkers. Lysander emerged from the battle scarred but otherwise intact, having taken the final Brujah head himself. On his orders, the Roman armies razed the city to the ground, killing thousands and enslaving the rest. They salted the earth so that nothing would ever grow there again — and so that no torpid Cainite could rise. The war with Carthage was over.
It is said that Lysander himself helped guide Hardestadt the Elder in his enterprise to create the Camarilla, although no one can confirm reports of sightings of the ancient warrior then or since. Hardestadt must have had him and Camilla in mind, though, since the Ventrue hierarchy he proposed showed more than a few signs of classical inspiration.
For the historical figure, see Lysander.