Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

A Smaller History of Greece by William Smith

Part 3 out of 5

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.6 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

which blockaded Mytilene both by sea and land, The Peloponnesians
promised their assistance; but from various causes their fleet
was unable to reach the place. Meanwhile the provisions of the
town were exhausted, and it was therefore resolved, as a last
desperate expedient, to make a sally, and endeavour to raise the
blockade. With this view even the men of the lower classes were
armed with the full armour of the hoplites. But this step
produced a very different result from what had been expected or
intended. The great mass of the Mytileneans regarded their own
oligarchical government with suspicion and now threatened that,
unless their demands were complied with, they would surrender the
city to the Athenians. In this desperate emergency the
Mytilenean government perceived that their only chance of safety
lay in anticipating the people in this step. They accordingly
opened a negotiation with Paches, the Athenian commander, and a
capitulation was agreed upon by which the city was to be
surrendered and the fate of its inhabitants to be decided by the
Athenian Assembly.

At Athens the disposal of the prisoners caused great debate. It
was on this occasion that the leather-seller Cleon first comes
prominently forward in Athenian affairs. If we may trust the
picture drawn by the comic poet Aristophanes, Cleon was a perfect
model of a low-born demagogue; a noisy brawler, insolent in his
gestures, corrupt and venal in his principles. Much allowance
must no doubt be made for comic licence and exaggeration in this
portrait, but even a caricature must have some grounds of truth
for its basis. It was this man who took the lead in the debate
respecting the disposal of the Mytileneans, and made the savage
and horrible proposal to put to death the whole male population
of Mytilene of military age, and to sell the women and children
into slavery. This motion he succeeded in carrying and a trireme
was immediately despatched to Mytilene, conveying orders to
Paches to carry the bloody decree into execution. This barbarous
decree made no discrimination between the innocent and the
guilty; and on the morrow so general a feeling prevailed of the
horrible injustice that had been committed, that the magistrates
acceded to the prayer of the Mytilenean envoys and called a fresh
assembly. Notwithstanding the violent opposition of Creon, the
majority of the assembly reversed their former decree and
resolved that the Mytileneans already in custody should be put
upon their trial, but that the remainder of the population should
be spared. A second trireme was immediately despatched to
Mytilene, with orders to Paches to arrest the execution. The
utmost diligence was needful. The former trireme had a start of
four-and-twenty hours, and nothing but exertions almost
superhuman would enable the second to reach Mytilene early enough
to avert the tragical catastrophe, The oarsmen were allowed by
turns only short intervals of rest, and took their food,
consisting of barley-meal steeped in wine and oil, as they sat at
the oar. Happily the weather proved favourable; and the crew,
who had been promised large rewards in case they arrived in time,
exerted themselves to deliver the reprieve, whilst the crew of
the preceding vessel had conveyed the order for execution with
slowness and reluctance. Yet even so the countermand came only
just in time. The mandate was already in the hands of Paches,
who was taking measures for its execution. The fortifications of
Mytilene were razed, and her fleet delivered up to the Athenians.

The fate of the Plataeans and Mytileneans affords a fearful
illustration of the manners of the age; but these horrors soon
found a parallel in Corcyra. A fearful struggle took place in
this island between the aristocratical and democratical parties.
The people at length obtained the mastery, and the vengeance
which they took on their opponents was fearful. The most sacred
sanctuaries afforded no protection; the nearest ties of blood and
kindred were sacrificed to civil hatred. In one case a father
slew even his own son. These scenes of horror lasted for seven
days, during which death in every conceivable form was busily at

The seventh year of the war (B.C. 425) was marked by an important
event. An Athenian fleet was detained by bad weather at Pylus in
Messenia, on the modern bay of Navarino. Demosthenes, an active
Athenian officer, who was on board the fleet, thought it an
eligible spot on which to establish some of the Messenians from
Naupactus, since it was a strong position, from which they might
annoy the Lacedaemonians, and excite revolt among their Helot
kinsmen. As the bad weather continued for some time, the
soldiers on board amused themselves, under the directions of
Demosthenes, in constructing a sort of rude fortification. The
nature of the ground was favourable for the work, and in five or
six days a wall was throws up sufficient for the purposes of
defence. Demosthenes undertook to garrison the place; and five
ships and 200 hoplites were left behind with him.

This insult to the Lacedaemonian territory caused great alarm and
indignation at Sparta. The Peloponnesian fleet was ordered to
Pylus; and the Lacedaemonian commander, on arriving with the
fleet, immediately occupied the small uninhabited and densely
wooded island of Sphacteria, which, with the exception of two
narrow channels on the north and south, almost blocked up the
entrance of the bay. Between the island and the mainland was a
spacious basin, in which the fleet took up its station. The
Lacedaemonians lost no time in attacking the fortress; but
notwithstanding their repeated attempts they were unable to
effect a landing.

Whilst they were preparing for another assault, they were
surprised by the appearance of the Athenian fleet. They had
strangely neglected to secure the entrances into the bay: and,
when the Athenian ships came sailing through both the undefended
channels, many of their triremes were still moored, and part of
their crews ashore. The battle which ensued was desperate. Both
sides fought with extraordinary valour; but victory at length
declared for the Athenians. Five Peloponnesian ships were
captured; the rest were saved only by running them ashore, where
they were protected by the Lacedaemonian army.

The Athenians, thus masters of the sea, were enabled to blockade
the island of Sphacteria, in which the flower of the
Lacedaemonian army was shut up, many of them native Spartans of
the highest families. In so grave an emergency messengers were
sent to Sparta for advice. The Ephors themselves immediately
repaired to the spot; and so desponding was their view of the
matter, that they saw no issue from it but a peace. They
therefore proposed and obtained an armistice for the purpose of
opening negotiations at Athens. But the Athenians, at the
instigation of Cleon, insisted upon the most extravagant demands,
and hostilities were accordingly resumed. They were not however
attended with any decisive result. The blockade of Sphacteria
began to grow tedious and harassing. The force upon it
continually received supplies of provisions either from swimmers,
who towed skins filled with linseed and poppy-seed mixed with
honey, or from Helots, who, induced by the promise of large
rewards, eluded the blockading squadron during dark and stormy
nights, and landed cargoes on the back of the island. The
summer, moreover, was fast wearing away, and the storms of winter
might probably necessitate the raising of the blockade
altogether. Under these circumstances, Demosthenes began to
contemplate a descent upon the island; with which view he sent a
message to Athens to explain the unfavourable state of the
blockade, and to request further assistance.

These tidings were very distasteful to the Athenians, who had
looked upon Sphacteria as their certain prey. They began to
regret having let slip the favourable opportunity for making a
peace, and to vent their displeasure upon Cleon, the director of
their conduct on that occasion. But Cleon put on a face of
brass. He abused the Strategi. His political opponent, Nicias,
was then one of those officers, a man of quiet disposition and
moderate abilities, but thoroughly honest and incorruptible. Him
Cleon now singled out for his vituperation, and, pointing at him
with his finger, exclaimed--"It would be easy enough to take the
island if our generals were MEN. If I were General, I would do
it at once!" This burst of the tanner made the assembly laugh.
He was saluted with cries of "Why don't you go, then?" and
Nicias, thinking probably to catch his opponent in his own trap,
seconded the voice of the assembly by offering to place at his
disposal whatever force he might deem necessary for the
enterprise. Cleon at first endeavoured to avoid the dangerous
honour thus thrust upon him. But the more he drew back the
louder were the assembly in calling upon him to accept the
office; and as Nicias seriously repeated his proposition, he
adopted with a good grace what there was no longer any
possibility of evading, and asserted that he would take
Sphacteria within twenty days, and either kill all the
Lacedaemonians upon it, or bring them prisoners to Athens.

Never did general set out upon an enterprise under circumstances
more singular; but, what was still more extraordinary, fortune
enabled him to make his promise good. In fact, as we have seen,
Demosthenes had already resolved on attacking the island; and
when Cleon arrived at Pylus he found everything prepared for the
assault. Accident favoured the enterprise. A fire kindled by
some Athenian sailors, who had landed for the purpose of cooking
their dinner, caught and destroyed the woods with which the
island was overgrown, and thus deprived the Lacedaemonians of one
of their principal defences. Nevertheless such was the awe
inspired by the reputation of the Spartan army that Demosthenes
considered it necessary to land about 10,000 soldiers of
different descriptions, although the Lacedaemonian force
consisted of only about 420 men. But this small force for a long
while kept their assailants at bay; till some Messenians,
stealing round by the sea-shore, over crags and cliffs which the
Lacedaemonians had deemed impracticable, suddenly appeared on the
high ground which overhung their rear. They now began to give
way, and would soon have been all slain; but Cleon and
Demosthenes, being anxious to carry them prisoners to Athens,
sent a herald to summon them to surrender. The latter, in token
of compliance, dropped their shields, and waved their hands above
their heads. They requested, however, permission to communicate
with their countrymen on the mainland; who, after two or three
communications, sent them a final message--"to take counsel for
themselves, but to do nothing disgraceful." The survivors then
surrendered. They were 292 in number, 120 of whom were native
Spartans belonging to the first families. By this surrender the
prestige of the Spartan arms was in a great degree destroyed.
The Spartans were not, indeed, deemed invincible; but their
previous feats, especially at Thermopylae, had inspired the
notion that they would rather die than yield; an opinion which
could now no longer be entertained.

Cleon had thus performed his promise. On the day after the
victory he and Demosthenes started with the prisoners for Athens,
where they arrived within 20 days from the time of Cleon's
departure. Altogether, this affair was one of the most
favourable for the Athenians that had occurred during the war.
The prisoners would serve not only for a guarantee against future
invasions, which might be averted by threatening to put them to
death, but also as a means for extorting advantageous conditions
whenever a peace should be concluded. Nay, the victory itself
was of considerable importance, since it enabled the Athenians to
place Pylus in a better posture of defence, and, by garrisoning
it with Messenians from Naupactus, to create a stronghold whence
Laconia might be overrun and ravaged at pleasure. The
Lacedaemonians themselves were so sensible of these things, that
they sent repeated messages to Athens to propose a peace, but
which the Athenians altogether disregarded.

The eighth year of the war (B.C. 424) opened with brilliant
prospects for the Athenians. Elate with their continued good
fortune, they aimed at nothing less than the recovery of all the
possessions which they had held before the Thirty Years' Truce.
for this purpose they planned an expedition against Boeotia. But
their good fortune had now reached its culminatiug point. They
were defeated by the Boeotians with great loss at the battle of
Delium, which was the greatest and most decisive engagement
fought during the first period of the war an interesting feature
of the battle is that both Socrates and his pupil Alcibiades were
engaged in it, the former among the hoplites, the latter in the
cavalry. Socrates distinguished himself by his bravery, and was
one of those who, instead of throwing down their arms, kept
together in a compact body, and repulsed the attacks of the
pursuing horse. His retreat was also protected by Alcibiades.

This disastrous battle was speedily followed by the overthrow of
the Athenian empire in Thrace. At the request of Perdiccas, King
of Macedonia, and of the Chalcidian towns, who had sued for help
against the Athenians, Brasidas was sent by the Lacedaemonian
government into Macedonia, at the head of a small body of troops.
On his arrival in Macedonia he proclaimed that he was come to
deliver the Grecian cities from the tyrannous yoke of Athens.
His bravery, his kind and conciliating demeanour, his probity,
moderation, and good faith, soon gained him the respect and love
of the allies of Athens in that quarter. Acanthus and Stagirus
hastened to open their gates to him; and early in the ensuing
winter, by means of forced marches, he suddenly and unexpectedly
appeared before the important Athenian colony of Amphipolis on
the Strymon. In that town the Athenian party sent a message for
assistance to Thucydides, the historian, who was then general in
those parts. Thucydides hastened with seven ships from Thasos,
and succeeded in securing Eion at the mouth of the Strymon; but
Amphipolis, which lay a little higher up the river, allured by
the favourable terms offered, had already surrendered to
Brasidas. For his want of vigilance on this occasion, Thucydides
was, on the motion of Cleon, sentenced to banishment, and spent
the following twenty years of his life in exile. Torone, Scione,
and other towns also revolted from Athens.

In the following year (B.C. 422) Cleon was sent to Macedonia to
recover the Athenian dependencies, and especially Amphipolis. He
encamped on a rising ground on the eastern side of the town.
Having deserted the peaceful art of dressing hides for the more
hazardous trade of war, in which he was almost totally
inexperienced, and having now no Demosthenes to direct his
movements, Cleon was thrown completely off his guard by a very
ordinary stratagem on the part of Brasidas, who contrived to give
the town quite a deserted and peaceful appearance. Cleon
suffered his troops to fall into disorder, till he was suddenly
surprised by the astounding news that Brasidas was preparing for
a sally. Cleon at once resolved to retreat. But his skill was
equal to his valour. He conducted his retreat in the most
disorderly manner. His left wing had already filed off and his
centre with straggling ranks was in the act of following, when
Brasidas ordered the gates of the town to be flung open, and,
rushing out at the head of only 150 chosen soldiers, charged the
retreating columns in flank. They were immediately routed; but
Brasidas received a mortal wound and was carried off the field.
Though his men were forming on the hill, Cleon fled as fast as he
could on the approach of the enemy, but was pursued and slain by
a Thracian peltast. In spite, however, of the disgraceful flight
of their general, the right wing maintained their ground for a
considerable time, till some cavalry and peltasts issuing from
Amphipolis attacked them in flank and rear, and compelled them to
fly. On assembling again at Eion it was found that half the
Athenian hoplites had been slain. Brasidas was carried into
Amphipolis, and lived long enough to receive the tidings of his
victory. He was interred within the walls with great military
pomp in the centre of what thenceforth became the chief agora; he
was proclaimed oecist, or founder of the town; and was worshipped
as a hero with annual games and sacrifices.

By the death of Brasidas and Cleon the two chief obstacles to a
peace were removed; for the former loved war for the sake of its
glory, the latter for the handle which it afforded for agitation
and for attacking his political opponents. The Athenian Nicias,
and the Spartan king Pleistoanax, zealously forwarded the
negotiations, and in the spring of the year B.C. 421 a peace for
50 years, commonly called the PEACE OF NICIAS, was concluded on
the basis of a mutual restitution of prisoners and places
captured during the war.



Several of the allies of Sparta were dissatisfied with the peace
which she had concluded; and soon afterwards some of them
determined to revive the ancient pretensions of Argos, and to
make her the head of a new confederacy, which should include all
Greece, with the exception of Sparta and Athens. The movement
was begun by the Corinthians, and the league was soon joined by
the Eleans, the Mantineans, and the Chalcidians.

Between Sparta and Athens themselves matters were far from being
on a satisfactory footing. Sparta confessed her inability to
compel the Boeotians and Corinthians to accede to the peace, or
even to restore the town of Amphipolis. Athens consequently
refused to evacuate Pylus, though she removed the Helots and
Messenians from it. In the negotiations which ensued respecting
the surrender of Pylus, Alcibiades took a prominent part. This
extraordinary man had already obtained immense influence at
Athens. Young, rich, handsome, profligate, and clever,
Alcibiades was the very model of an Athenian man of fashion. In
lineage he was a striking contrast to the plebeian orators of the
day. He traced his paternal descent from Ajax, whilst on his
mother's side he claimed relationship with the Alcmaeonidae and
consequently with Pericles. On the death of his father Clinias
Pericles had become his guardian. From early youth the conduct
of Alcibiades was marked by violence, recklessness, and vanity.
He delighted in astonishing the more sober portion of the
citizens by his capricious and extravagant feats. He was utterly
destitute of morality, whether public or private. But his vices
were partly redeemed by some brilliant qualities. He possessed
both boldness of design and vigour of action; and, though
scarcely more than thirty at the time of which we are now
speaking, he had already on several occasions distinguished
himself by his bravery. His more serious studies were made
subservient to the purposes of his ambition, for which some skill
as an orator was necessary. In order to attain it he frequented
the schools of the sophists, and exercised himself in the
dialectics of Prodicus, Protagoras, and above all of Socrates.

Such was the man who now opposed the application of the
Lacedaemonian ambassadors. Their reception had been so
favourable, that Alcibiades alarmed at the prospect of their
success, resorted to a trick in order to defeat it. He called
upon the Lacedaemonian envoys, one of whom happened to be his
personal friend; and he advised them not to tell the Assembly
that they were furnished with full powers, as in that case the
people would bully them into extravagant concessions, but rather
to say that they were merely come to discuss and report. He
promised, if they did so, to speak in their favour, and induce
the Assembly to grant the restitution of Pylus, to which he
himself had hitherto been the chief obstacle. Accordingly on the
next day, when the ambassadors were introduced into the Assembly,
Alcibiades, assuming his blandest tone and most winning smile,
asked them on what footing they came and what were their powers.
In reply to these questions, the ambassadors, who only a day or
two before had told Nicias and the Senate that they were come as
plenipotentiaries, now publicly declared, in the face of the
Assembly, that they were not authorized to conclude, but only to
negotiate and discuss. At this announcement, those who had heard
their previous declaration could scarcely believe their ears. A
universal burst of indignation broke forth at this exhibition of
Spartan duplicity; whilst, to wind up the scene, Alcibiades,
affecting to be more surprised than any, distinguished himself by
being the loudest and bitterest in his invectives against the
perfidy of the Lacedaemonians.

Shortly afterwards Alcibiades procured the completion of a treaty
of alliance for 100 years with Argos, Elis, and Mantinea (B.C.
420). Thus were the Grecian states involved in a complicity of
separate and often apparently opposite alliances. It was evident
that allies so heterogeneous could not long hold together;
nevertheless, nominally at least, peace was at first observed.

In the July which followed the treaty with Argos, the Olympic
games, which recurred every fourth year, were to be celebrated.
The Athenians had been shut out by the war from the two previous
celebrations; and curiosity was excited throughout Greece to see
what figure Athens would make at this great Pan-Hellenic
festival. War, it was surmised, must have exhausted her
resources, and would thus prevent her from appearing with
becoming splendour. But from this reproach she was rescued by
the wealth and vanity, if not by the patriotism, of Alcibiades.
By his care, the Athenian deputies exhibited the richest display
of golden ewers, censers, and other plate to be used in the
public sacrifice and procession; whilst for the games he entered
in his own name no fewer than the unheard-of number of seven
four-horsed chariots, of which one gained the first, and another
the second prize. Alcibiades was consequently twice crowned with
the olive, and twice proclaimed victor by the herald.

The growing ambition and success of Alcibiades prompted him to
carry his schemes against Sparta into the very heart of
Peloponnesus, without, however, openly violating the peace.

The Lacedaemonians now found it necessary to act with more
vigour; and accordingly in B.C. 418 they assembled a very large
army, under the command of the Spartan king, Agis. A decisive
battle was fought near Mantinea, in which Agis gained a brilliant
victory over the Argives and their allies. This battle and that
of Delium were the two most important engagements that had yet
been fought in the Peloponnesian war. Although the Athenians had
fought on the side of the Argives at Mantinea, the peace between
Sparta and Athens continued to be nominally observed.

In B.C. 416 the Athenians attacked and conquered Melos, which
island and Thera were the only islands in the AEgean not subject
to the Athenian supremacy. The Melians having rejected all the
Athenian overtures for a voluntary submission, their capital was
blockaded by sea and land, and after a siege of some months
surrendered. On the proposal, as it appears, of Alcibiades, all
the adult males were put to death, the women and children sold
into slavery, and the island colonized afresh by 500 Athenians.
This horrible proceeding was the more indefensible, as the
Athenians, having attacked the Melians in full peace, could not
pretend that they were justified by the custom of war in slaying
the prisoners. It was the crowning act of insolence and cruelty
displayed during their empire, which from this period began
rapidly to decline.

The event destined to produce that catastrophe--the intervention
of the Athenians in the affairs of Sicily--was already in
progress. A quarrel had broken out between Egesta and Selinus,
both which cities were seated near the western extremity of
Sicily; and Selinus, having obtained the aid of Syracuse, was
pressing very hard upon the Egestaeans. The latter appealed to
the interests of the Athenians rather than to their sympathies.
They represented how great a blow it would be to Athens if the
Dorians became predominant in Sicily, and joined the
Peloponnesian confederacy; and they undertook, if the Athenians
would send an armament to their assistance, to provide the
necessary funds for the prosecution of the war. Their most
powerful advocate was Alcibiades, whose ambitious views are said
to have extended even to the conquest of Carthage. The quieter
and more prudent Nicias and his party threw their weight into the
opposite scale. But the Athenian assembly, dazzled by the idea
of so splendid an enterprise, decided on despatching a large
fleet under Nicias, Alcibiades, and Lamachus, with the design of
assisting Egesta, and of establishing the influence of Athens
throughout Sicily, by whatever means might be found practicable.

For the next three months the preparations for the undertaking
were pressed on with the greatest ardour. Young and old, rich
and poor, all vied with one another to obtain a share in the
expedition. Five years of comparative peace had accumulated a
fresh supply both of men and money; and the merchants of Athens
embarked in the enterprise as in a trading expedition. It was
only a few of the wisest heads that escaped the general fever of
excitement, The expedition was on the point of sailing, when a
sudden and mysterious event converted all these exulting feelings
into gloomy foreboding.

At every door in Athens, at the corners of streets, in the market
place, before temples, gymnasia, and other public places, stood
Hermae, or statues of the god Hermes, consisting of a bust of
that deity surmounting a quadrangular pillar of marble about the
height of the human figure. When the Athenians rose one morning
towards the end of May, 415 B.C., it was found that all these
figures had been mutilated during the night, and reduced by
unknown hands to a shapeless mass. The act inspired political,
as well as religious, alarm. It seemed to indicate a widespread
conspiracy, for so sudden and general a mutilation must have been
the work of many hands. The sacrilege might only be a
preliminary attempt of some powerful citizen to seize the
despotisn, and suspicion pointed its finger at Alcibiades.
Active measures were taken and large rewards offered for the
discovery of the perpetrators. A public board was appointed to
examine witnesses, which did not, indeed, succeed in eliciting
any facts bearing on the actual subject of inquiry, but which
obtained evidence respecting similar acts of impiety committed at
previous times in drunken frolics. In these Alcibiades himself
was implicated; and though the fleet was on the very eve of
departure, a citizen rose in the assembly and accused Alcibiades
of having profaned the Eleusinian mysteries by giving a
representation of them in a private house, producing in evidence
the testimony of a slave. Alcibiades denied the accusation, and
implored the people to have it investigated at once. His
enemies, however, had sufficient influence to get the inquiry
postponed till his return; thus keeping the charge hanging over
his head, and gaining time to poison the public mind against him.

The Athenian fleet, consisting of 100 triremes, and having on
board 1500 chosen Athenian hoplites, as well as auxiliaries, at
length set sail, and proceeded to Corcyra, where it was joined by
the other allies in the month of July, 415 B.C. Upon arriving at
Rhegium the generals received the discouraging news that Egesta
was unable to contribute more than thirty talents. A council of
war was now held; and it was finally resolved to gain as many
allies as they could among the Greek cities in Sicily, and,
having thus ascertained what assistance they could rely upon, to
attack Syracuse and Selinus.

Naxos joined the Athenians, and shortly afterwards they obtained
possession by surprise of the important city of Catana, which was
now made the head-quarters of the armament. Here an unwelcome
message greeted Alcibiades. after his departure from Athens,
Thessalus, the son of Cimon, preferred an indictment against him
in consequence of his profanation of the Eleusinian mysteries.
The Salaminian, or state, trireme was despatched to Sicily,
carrying the decree of the assembly for Alcibiades to come home
and take his trial. The commander of the Salaminia was, however,
instructed not to seize his person, but to allow him to sail in
his own trireme. Alcibiades availed himself of this privilege to
effect his escape. When the ships arrived at Thurii in Italy, he
absconded, and contrived to elude the search that was made after
him, Nevertheless, though absent, he was arraigned at Athens, and
condemned to death; his property was confiscated; and the
Eumolpidae, who presided ever the celebration of the Eleusinian
mysteries, pronounced upon him the curses of the gods. On
hearing of his sentence Alcibiades is said to have exclaimed, "I
will show them that I am still alive."

Three months had now been frittered away in Sicily, during which
the Athenians had done little or nothing, if we except the
acquisition of Naxos and Catana. Nicias now resolved to make an
attempt upon Syracuse. By a false message that the Catanaeans
were ready to assist in expelling the Athenians, he induced the
Syracusans to proceed thither in great force, and he availed
himself of their absence to sail with his whole fleet into the
Great Harbour of Syracuse, where he landed near the mouth of the
Anapus. The Syracusans, when they found that they had been
deceived at Catana, marched back and offered Nicias battle in his
new position. The latter accepted it, and gained the victory;
after which he retired to Catana, and subsequently to Naxos into
winter quarters.

The Syracusans employed the winter in preparations for defence.
They also despatched envoys to Corinth and Sparta to solicit
assistance, in the latter of which towns they found an unexpected
advocate. Alcibiades, having crossed from Thurii to Cyllene in
Peloponnesus, received a special invitation to proceed to Sparta.
Here he revealed all the plans of Athens, and exhorted the
Lacedaemonians to frustrate them. For this purpose he advised
them to send an army into Sicily, under the command of a Spartan
general, and, by way of causing a diversion, to establish a
fortified post at Decelea in the Attic territory. The Spartans
fell in with these views, and resolved to send a force to the
assistance of Syracuse in the spring, under the command of

Nicias, having received reinforcements from Athens, recommenced
hostilities as soon as the season allowed of it, and resolved on
besieging Syracuse. That town consisted of two parts--the inner
and the outer city. The former of these--the original settlement
was comprised in the island of Ortygia; the latter afterwards
known by the name of Achradina, covered the high ground of the
peninsula north of Ortygia, and was completely separate from the
inner city. The island of Ortygia, to which the modern city is
now confined, is of an oblong shape, about two miles in
circumference, lying between the Great Harbour on the west, and
the Little Harbour on the east, and separated from the mainland
by a narrow channel. The Great Harbour is a splendid bay, about
five miles in circumference, and the Little Harbour was spacious
enough to receive a large fleet of ships of war. The outer city
was surrounded on the north and east by the sea and by sea-walls
which rendered an assault on that side almost impracticable. On
the land side it was defended by a wall, and partly also by the
nature of the ground, which in some part was very steep. West
and north-west of the wall of the outer city stood two
unfortified suburbs, which were at a later time included within
the walls of Syracuse under the names of Tyche and Neapolis.
Between these two suburbs the ground rose in a gentle acclivity
to the summit of the ranges of hills called Epipolae.

It was from the high ground of Epipolae that Syracuse was most
exposed to attack. Nicias landed at Leon, a place upon the bay
of Thapsus, at the distance of only six or seven stadia from
Epipolae, took possession of Epipolae, and erected on the summit
a fort called Labdalum. Then coming farther down the hill
towards Syracuse, he built another fort of a circular form and of
considerable size at a place called Syke. From the latter point
he commenced his line of circumvallation, one wall extending
southwards from Syke to the Great Harbour, and the other wall
running northwards to the outer sea. The Athenians succeeded in
completing the circumvallation towards the south, but in one of
their many engagements with the Syracusans they lost the gallant
Lamachus. At the same time, the Athenian fleet entered the Great
Harbour, where it was henceforth permanently established. The
northern wall was never completed, and through the passage thus
left open the besieged continued to obtain provisions. Nicias,
who, by the death of Lamachus, had become sole commander, seemed
now on the point of succeeding. The Syracusans were so sensible
of their inferiority in the field that they no longer ventured to
show themselves outside the walls. They began to contemplate
surrender, and even sent messages to Nicias to treat of the
terms. This caused the Athenian commander to indulge in a false
confidence of success, and consequent apathy; and the army having
lost the active and energetic Lamachus, operations were no longer
carried on with the requisite activity.

It was in this state of affairs that the Spartan commander,
Gylippus, passed over into Italy with a little squadron of four
ships, with the view merely of preserving the Greek cities in
that country, supposing that Syracuse, and, with her, the other
Greek cities in Sicily, were irretrievably lost. At Tarentum he
learned to his great surprise and satisfaction that the Athenian
wall of circumvallation at Syracuse had not yet been completed on
the northern side. He now sailed through the straits of Messana,
which were left completely unguarded, and arrived safely at
Himera on the north coast of Sicily. Here he announced himself
as the forerunner of larger succours, and began to levy an army
which the magic of the Spartan name soon enabled him to effect;
and in a few days he was in a condition to march towards Syracuse
with about 3000 men. The Syracusans now dismissed all thoughts
of surrender, and went out boldly to meet Gylippus, who marched
into Syracuse over the heights of Epipolae, which the supineness
of Nicias had left unguarded. Upon arriving in the city,
Gylippus sent a message to the Athenians allowing them a five
days' truce to collect their effects and evacuate the island.
Nicias returned no answer to this insulting proposal; but the
operations of Gylippus soon showed that the tide of affairs was
really turned. His first exploit was to capture the Athenian
fort at Labdalum, which made him master of Epipolae. He next
commenced constructing a counter-wall to intersect the Athenian
lines on the northern side. This turn of affairs induced those
Sicilian cities which had hitherto hesitated to embrace the side
of Syracuse. Gylippus was also reinforced by the arrival of
thirty triremes from Corinth, Leucas, and Ambracia. Nicias now
felt that the attempt to blockade Syracuse with his present force
was hopeless. He therefore resolved to occupy the headland of
Plemmyrium, the southernmost point of the entrance to the Great
Harbour, which would be a convenient station for watching the
enemy, as well as for facilitating the introduction of supplies.
Here he accordingly erected three forts and formed a naval
station. Some slight affairs occurred in which the balance of
advantage was in favour of the Syracusans. By their change of
station the Athenians were now a besieged rather than a besieging
force. Their triremes were becoming leaky, and their soldiers
and sailors were constantly deserting. Nicias himself had fallen
into a bad state of health; and in this discouraging posture of
affairs he wrote to Athens requesting to he recalled, and
insisting strongly on the necessity of sending reinforcements.

The Athenians refused to recall Nicias, but they determined on
sending a large reinforcement to Sicily, under the joint command
of Demosthenes and Eurymedon. The news of these fresh and
extensive preparations incited the Lacedaemonians to more
vigorous action. The peace, if such it can be called, was now
openly broken; and in the spring of 413 B.C. the Lacedaemonians,
under King Agis, invaded Attica itself, and, following the advice
of Alcibiades, established themselves permanently at Decelia, a
place situated on the ridge of Mount Parnes about 14 miles north
of Athens, and commanding the Athenian plain. The city was thus
placed in a state of siege. Scarcity began to be felt within the
walls; the revenues were falling off, whilst on the other hand
expenses were increasing.

Meanwhile in Sicily the Syracusans had gained such confidence
that they even ventured on a naval engagement with the Athenians.
In the first battle the Athenians were victorious, but the second
battle, which lasted two days, ended in their defeat. They were
now obliged to haul up their ships in the innermost part of the
Great Harbour, under the lines of their fortified camp. A still
more serious disaster than the loss of the battle was the loss of
their naval reputation. It was evident that the Athenians had
ceased to be invincible on the sea; and the Syracusans no longer
despaired of overcoming them on their own element.

Such was the state of affairs when, to the astonishment of the
Syracusans, a fresh Athenian fleet of 75 triremes, under
Demosthenes and Eurymedon, entered the Great Harbour with all the
pomp and circumstance of war. It had on board a force of 5000
hoplites, of whom about a quarter were Athenians, and a great
number of light-armed troops. The active and enterprising
character of Demosthenes led him to adopt more vigorous measures
than those which had been hitherto pursued. He saw at once that
whilst Epipolae remained in the possession of the Syracusans
there was no hope of taking their city, and he therefore directed
all his efforts to the recapture of that position. But his
attempts were unavailing. He was defeated not only in an open
assault upon the Syracusan wall, but in a nocturnal attempt to
carry it by surprise. These reverses were aggravated by the
breaking out of sickness among the troops. Demosthenes now
proposed to return home and assist in expelling the
Lacedaemonians from Attica, instead of pursuing an enterprise
which seemed to be hopeless. But Nicias, who feared to return to
Athens with the stigma of failure, refused to give his consent to
this step. Demosthenes then urged Nicias at least to sail
immediately out of the Great Harbour, and take up their position
either at Thapsus or Catana, where they could obtain abundant
supplies of provisions, and would have an open sea for the
manoeuvres of their fleet. But even to this proposal Nicias
would not consent; and the army and navy remained in their former
position. Soon afterwards, however, Gylippus received such large
reinforcements, that Nicias found it necessary to adopt the
advice of his colleague. Preparations were secretly made for
their departure, the enemy appear to have had no suspicion of
their intention and they were on the point of quitting their ill-
fated quarters on the following morning, when on the very night
before (27 Aug. 413 B.C.) an eclipse of the moon took place. The
soothsayers who were consulted said that the army must wait
thrice nine days, a full circle of the moon, before it could quit
its present position; and the devout and superstitious Nicias
forthwith resolved to abide by this decision.

Meanwhile the intention of the Athenians became known to the
Syracusans, who determined to strike a blow before their enemy
escaped. They accordingly attacked the Athenian station both by
sea and land. On land the attack of Gylippus was repulsed; but
at sea the Athenian fleet was completely defeated, and Eurymedon,
who commanded the right division, was slain The spirits of the
Symcusans rose with their victories; and though they would
formerly have been content with the mere retreat of the
Athenians, they now resolved on effecting their utter
destruction. With this view they blocked up the entrance of the
Great Harbour with a line of vessels moored across it. All hope
seemed now to be cut off from the Athenians, unless they could
succeed in forcing this line and thus effecting their escape.
The Athenian fleet still numbered 110 triremes, which Nicias
furnished with grappling-irons, in order to bring the enemy to
close quarters, and then caused a large proportion of his land-
force to embark.

Never perhaps was a battle fought under circumstances of such
intense interest, or witnessed by so many spectators vitally
concerned in the result. The basin of the Great Harbour, about 5
miles in circumference, in which nearly 200 ships, each with
crews of more than 200 men, were about to engage, was lined with
spectators. The Syracusan fleet was the first to leave the
shore. A considerable portion was detached to guard the barrier
at the mouth of the harbour. Hither the first and most impetuous
attack of the Athenians was directed, who sought to break through
the narrow opening which had been left for the passage of
merchant vessels. Their onset was repulsed, and the battle then
became general. The shouts of the combatants, and the crash of
the iron heads of the vessels as they were driven together,
resounded over the water, and were answered on shore by the
cheers or wailings of the spectators as their friends were
victorious or vanquished. For a long time the battle was
maintained with heroic courage and dubious result. At length, as
the Athenian vessels began to yield and make back towards the
shore, a universal shriek of horror and despair arose from the
Athenian army, whilst shouts of joy and victory were raised from
the pursuing vessels, and were echoed back from the Syracusans on
land. As the Athenian vessels neared the shore their crews
leaped out, and made for the camp, whilst the boldest of the land
army rushed forward to protect the ships from being seized by the
enemy. The Athenians succeeded in saving only 60 ships, or about
half their fleet. The Syracusan fleet, however, had been reduced
to 50 ships; and on the same afternoon, Nicias and Demosthenes,
as a last hope of escape, exhorted their men to make another
attempt to break the enemy's line, and force their way out of the
harbour. But the courage of the crews was so completely damped
that they positively refused to re-embark.

The Athenian army still numbered 40,000 men; and as all chance of
escape by sea was now hopeless, it was resolved to retreat by
land to some friendly city, and there defend themselves against
the attacks of the Syracusans. As the soldiers turned to quit
that fatal encampment, the sense of their own woes was for a
moment suspended by the sight of their unburied comrades, who
seemed to reproach them with the neglect of a sacred duty; but
still more by the wailings and entreaties of the wounded, who
clung around their knees, and implored not to be abandoned to
certain destruction. Amid this scene of universal woe and
dejection, a fresh and unwonted spirit of energy and heroism
seemed to be infused into Nicias. Though suffering under an
incurable complaint, he was everywhere seen marshalling his
troops and encouraging them by his exhortations. The march was
directed towards the territory of the Sicels in the interior of
the island. The army was formed into a hollow square with the
baggage in the middle; Nicias leading the van, and Demosthenes
bringing up the rear. The road ascended by a sort of ravine over
a steep hill called the Acraean cliff on which the Syracusans had
fortified themselves. After spending two days in vain attempts
to force this position, Nicias and Demosthenes resolved during
the night to strike off to the left towards the sea. But they
were overtaken, surrounded by superior forces, and compelled to
surrender at discretion. Out of the 40,000 who started from the
camp only 10,000 at the utmost were left at the end of the sixth
day's march, the rest had either deserted or been slain. The
prisoners were sent to work in the stone-quarries of Achradina
and Epipolae. Here they were crowded together without any
shelter, and with scarcely provisions enough to sustain life.
The numerous bodies of those who died were left to putrify where
they had fallen, till at length the place became such an
intolerable centre of stench and infection that, at the end of
seventy days, the Syracusans, for their own comfort and safety,
were obliged to remove the survivors, who were sold as slaves.
Nicias and Demosthenes were condemned to death in spite of all
the efforts of Gylippus and Hermocrates to save them.

Such was the end of two of the largest and best appointed
armaments that had ever gone forth from Athens. Nicias, as we
have seen, was from the first opposed to the expedition in which
they were employed, as pregnant with the most dangerous
consequences to Athens; and, though it must be admitted that in
this respect his views were sound, it cannot at the same time be
concealed that his own want of energy, and his incompetence as a
general, were the chief causes of the failure of the undertaking.
His mistakes involved the fall of Demosthenes, an officer of far
greater resolution and ability than himself, and who, had his
counsels been followed, would in all probability have conducted
the enterprise to a safe termination, though there was no longer
room to hope for success.



The destruction of the Sicilian armament was a fatal blow to the
power of Athens. It is astonishing that she was able to protract
the war so long with diminished strength and resources. Her
situation inspired her enemies with new vigour; states hitherto
neutral declared against her; her subject-allies prepared to
throw off the yoke; even the Persian satraps and the court of
Susa bestirred themselves against her. The first blow to her
empire was struck by the wealthy and populous island of Chios.
This again was the work of Alcibiades, the implacable enemy of
his native land, at whose advice a Lacedaemonian fleet was sent
to the assistance of the Chians. Their example was followed by
all the other Athenian allies in Asia, with the exception of
Samos, in which the democratical party gained the upper hand. In
the midst of this general defection the Athenians did not give
way to despair. Pericles had set apart a reserve of 1000 talents
to meet the contingency of an actual invasion. This still
remained untouched, and now by an unanimous vote the penalty of
death, which forbad its appropriation to any other purpose, was
abolished, and the fund applied in fitting out a fleet against
Chios. Samos became the head-quarters of the fleet, and the base
of their operations during the remainder of the war.

After a time the tide of success began to turn in favour of the
Athenians. They recovered Lesbos and Clazomenae, defeated the
Chians, and laid waste their territory. They also gained a
victory over the Peloponnesians at Miletus; while the
Peloponnesian fleet had lost the assistance of Tissaphernes, the
Persian satrap, through the intrigues of Alcibiades. In the
course of a few months Alcibiades had completely forfeited the
confidence of the Lacedaemonians. The Spartan king Agis, whose
wife he had seduced, was his personal enemy; and after the defeat
of the Peloponnesians at Miletus, Agis denounced him as a
traitor, and persuaded the new Ephors to send out instructions to
put him to death. Of this, however, he was informed time enough
to make his escape to Tissaphernes at Magnesia. Here he
ingratiated himself into the confidence of the satrap, and
persuaded him that it was not for the interest of Persia that
either of the Grecian parties should be successful, but rather
that they should wear each other out in their mutual struggles,
when Persia would in the end succeed in expelling both. This
advice was adopted by the satrap; and in order to carry it into
execution, steps were taken to secure the inactivity of the
Peloponnesian armament, which, if vigorously employed, was
powerful enough to put a speedy end to the war. In order to
secure his return to Athens, Alcibiades now endeavoured to
persuade Tissaphernes that it was more for the Persian interest
to conclude a league with Athens than with Sparta; but the only
part of his advice which the satrap seems to have sincerely
adopted was that of playing off one party against the other.
About this, however, Alcibiades did not at all concern himself.
It was enough for his views, which had merely the selfish aim of
his own restoration to Athens, if he could make it appear that he
possessed sufficient influence with Tissaphernes to procure his
assistance for the Athenians. He therefore began to communicate
with the Athenian generals at Samos, and held out the hope of a
Persian alliance as the price of his restoration to his country.
But as he both hated and feared the Athenian democracy, he
coupled his offer with the condition that a revolution should be
effected at Athens, and an oligarchy established. The Athenian
generals greedily caught at the proposal; and though the great
mass of the soldiery were violently opposed to it, they were
silenced, if not satisfied, when told that Athens could be saved
only by means of Persia. The oligarchical conspirators formed
themselves into a confederacy, and Pisander was sent to Athens to
lay the proposal before the Athenian assembly. It met, as it
might be supposed, with the most determined opposition. The
single but unanswerable reply of Pisander was, the necessities of
the republic; and at length a reluctant vote for a change of
constitution was extorted from the people. Pisander and ten
others were despatched to treat with Alcibiades and Tissaphernes.

Upon their arrival in Ionia they informed Alcibiades that
measures had been taken for establishing an oligarchical form of
government at Athens, and required him to fulfil his part of the
engagement by procuring the aid and alliance of Persia. But
Alcibiades knew that he had undertaken what he could not perform,
and he now resolved to escape from the dilemma by one of his
habitual artifices. He received the Athenian deputation in the
presence of Tissaphernes himself, and made such extravagant
demands on behalf of the satrap that Pisander and his colleagues
indignantly broke off the conference.

Notwithstanding the conduct of Alcibiades the oligarchical
conspirators proceeded with the revolution at Athens, in which
they had gone too far to recede. Pisander, with five of the
envoys, returned to Athens to complete the work they had begun.

Pisander proposed in the assembly, and carried a resolution, that
a committee of ten should be appointed to prepare a new
constitution, which was to be submitted to the approbation of the
people. But when the day appointed for that purpose arrived, the
assembly was not convened in the Pnyx, but in the temple of
Poseidon at Colonus, a village upwards of a mile from Athens.
Here the conspirators could plant their own partisans, and were
less liable to be overawed by superior numbers. Pisander
obtained the assent of the meeting to the following revolutionary
changes:--1. The abolition of all the existing magistracies; 2.
The cessation of all payments for the discharge of civil
functions; 3. The appointment of a committee of five persons,
who were to name ninety-five more; each of the hundred thus
constituted to choose three persons; the body of Four Hundred
thus formed to be an irresponsible government, holding its
sittings in the senate house. The four hundred were to convene a
select body of five thousand citizens whenever they thought
proper. Nobody knew who these five thousand were, but they
answered two purposes, namely, to give an air of greater
popularity to the government, as well as to overawe the people by
an exaggerated notion of its strength.

Thus perished the Athenian democracy, after an existence of
nearly a century since its establishment by Clisthenes The
revolution was begun from despair of the foreign relations of
Athens, and from the hope of assistance from Persia; but it was
carried out through the machinations of the conspirators after
that delusion had ceased.

At Samos the Athenian army refused to recognise the new
government. At the instance of Thrasybulus and Thrasyllus a
meeting was called in which the soldiers pledged themselves to
maintain the democracy, to continue the war against Peloponnesus,
and to put down the usurpers at Athens. The soldiers, laying
aside for a while their military character, constituted
themselves into an assembly of the people, deposed several of
their officers, and appointed others whom they could better
trust. Thrasybulus proposed the recall of Alcibiades,
notwithstanding his connection with the oligarchical conspiracy,
because it was believed that he was now able and willing to aid
the democratic cause with the gold and forces of Persia. After
considerable opposition the proposal was agreed to; Alcibiades
was brought to Samos and introduced to the assembly, where by his
magnificent promises, and extravagant boasts respecting his
influence with Tissaphernes, he once more succeeded in deceiving
the Athenians. The accomplished traitor was elected one of the
generals, and, in pursuance of his artful policy, began to pass
backwards and forwards between Samos and Magnesia, with the view
of inspiring both the satrap and the Athenians with a reciprocal
idea of his influence with either, and of instilling distrust of
Tissaphernes into the minds of the Peloponnesians.

At the first news of the re-establishment of democracy at Samos,
distrust and discord had broken out among the Four Hundred.
Antiphon and Phrynichus, at the head of the extreme section of
the oligarchical party, were for admitting a Lacedaemonian
garrison. But others, discontented with their share of power,
began to affect more popular sentiments, among whom were
Theramenes and Aristocrates. Meantime Euboea, supported by the
Lacedaemonians and Boeotians, revolted from Athens. The loss of
this island seemed a death-blow. The Lacedaemonians might now
easily blockade the ports of Athens and starve her into
surrender; whilst the partisans of the Four Hundred would
doubtless co-operate with the enemy. But from this fate they
were saved by the characteristic slowness of the Lacedaemonians,
who confined themselves to securing the conquest of Euboea. Thus
left unmolested, the Athenians convened an assembly in the Pnyx.
Votes were passed for deposing the Four Hundred, and placing the
government in the hands of the 5000, of whom every citizen who
could furnish a panoply might be a member. In short, the old
constitution was restored, except that the franchise was
restricted to 5000 citizens, and payment for the discharge of
civil functions abolished. In subsequent assemblies, the
Archons, the Senate, and other institutions were revived; and a
vote was passed to recall Alcibiades and some of his friends.
The number of the 5000 was never exactly observed, and was soon
enlarged into universal citizenship. Thus the Four Hundred were
overthrown after a reign of four months, B.C. 411.

While these things were going on at Athens, the war was
prosecuted with vigour on the coast of Asia Minor. Mindarus, who
now commanded the Peloponnesian fleet, disgusted at length by the
often-broken promises of Tissaphernes, and the scanty and
irregular pay which he furnished, set sail from Miletus and
proceeded to the Hellespont, with the intention of assisting the
satrap Pharnabazus, and of effecting, if possible, the revolt of
the Athenian dependencies in that quarter. Hither he was pursued
by the Athenian fleet under Thrasyllus. In a few days an
engagement ensued (in August, 411 B.C.), in the famous straits
between Sestos and Abydos, in which the Athenians, though with a
smaller force, gained the victory and erected a trophy on the
promontory of Cynossema, near the tomb and chapel of the Trojan
queen Hecuba. The Athenians followed up their victory by the
reduction of Cyzicus, which had revolted from them. A month or
two afterwards another obstinate engagement took place between
the Peloponnesian and Athenian fleets ness Abydos, which lasted a
whole day, and was at length decided in favour of the Athenians
by the arrival of Alcibiades with his squadron of eighteen ships
from Samos.

Shortly after the battle Tissaphernes arrived at the Hellespont
with the view of conciliating the offended Peloponnesians. He
was not only jealous of the assistance which the latter were now
rendering to Pharnabarzus, but it is also evident that his
temporizing policy had displeased the Persian court. This
appears from his conduct on the present occasion, as well as from
the subsequent appointment of Cyrus to the supreme command on the
Asiatic coast as we shall presently have to relate. When
Alcibiades, who imagined that Tissaphernes was still favourable
to the Athenian cause waited on him with the customary presents,
he was arrested by order of the satrap, and sent in custody to
Sardis. At the end of a month, however, he contrived to escape
to Clazomenae, and again joined the Athenian fleet early in the
spring of 410 B.C. Mindaras, with the assistance of Pharnabazas
on the land side, was now engaged in the siege of Cyzicus, which
the Athenian admirals determined to relieve. Here a battle
ensued, in which Mindarus was slain, the Lacedaemonians and
Persians routed, and almost the whole Peloponnesian fleet
captured. The severity of this blow was pictured in the laconic
epistle in which Hippocrates, the second in command, [Called
Epistoteus or "Secretary" in the Lacedaemonian fleet. The
commander of the fleet had the title of NAVARCHUS.] announced it
to the Ephors: "Our good luck is gone; Mindarus is slain; the
men are starving; we know not what to do."

The results of this victory were most important. Perinthus and
Selymbria, as well as Cyzicus, were recovered; and the Athenians,
once more masters of the Propontis, fortified the town of
Chrysopolis, over against Byzantium, at the entrance of the
Bosporus; re-established their toll of ten per cent, on all
vessels passing from the Euxine; and left a squadron to guard the
strait and collect the dues. So great was the discouragement of
the Lacedaemonians at the loss of their fleet that the Ephor
Endius proceeded to Athens to treat for peace on the basis of
both parties standing just as they were. The Athenian assembly
was at this time led by the demagogue Cleophon, a lamp-maker,
known to us by the later comedies of Aristophanes. Cleophon
appears to have been a man of considerable ability; but the late
victories had inspired him with too sanguine hopes and he advised
the Athenians to reject the terms proposed by Endius. Athens
thus throw away the golden opportunity of recruiting her
shattered forces of which she stood so much in need; and to this
unfortunate advice must be ascribed the calamities which
subsequently overtook her.

The possession of the Bosporus reopened to the Athenians the
trade of the Euxine. From his lofty fortress at Decelea the
Spartan king Agris could descry the corn-ships from the Euxine
sailing into the Harbour of the Piraeus, and felt how fruitless
it was to occupy the fields of Attica whilst such abundant
supplies of provisions were continually finding their way to the

In B.C. 408 the important towns of Chalcedon, Selymbria, and
Byzantium fell into the hands of the Athenians, thus leaving them
undisputed masters of the Propontis.

These great achievements of Alcibiades naturally paved the way
for his return to Athens. In the spring of 407 B.C. he proceeded
with the fleet to Samos, and from thence sailed to Piraeus. His
reception was far more favourable than he had ventured to
anticipate. The whole population of Athens flocked down to
Piraeus to welcome him, and escorted him to the city. He seemed
to be in the present juncture the only man capable of restoring
the grandeur and the empire of Athens: he was accordingly named
general with unlimited powers, and a force of 100 triremes, 1500
hoplites, and 150 cavalry placed at his disposal. Before his
departure he took an opportunity to atone for the impiety of
which he had been suspected. Although his armament was in
perfect readiness, he delayed its sailing till after the
celebration of the Eleusinian mysteries at the beginning of
September. For seven years the customary procession across the
Thriasian plain had been suspended, owing to the occupation of
Decelea by the enemy, which compelled the sacred troop to proceed
by sea. Alcibiades now escorted them on their progress and
return with his forces, and thus succeeded in reconciling himself
with the offended goddesses and with their holy priests, the

Meanwhile a great change had been going on in the state of
affairs in the East. We have already seen that the Great King
was displeased with the vacillating policy of Tissaphernes, and
had determined to adopt more energetic measures against the
Athenians. During the absence of Alcibiades, Cyrus, the younger
son of Darius, a prince of a bold and enterprising spirit, and
animated with a lively hatred of Athens, had arrived at the coast
for the purpose of carrying out the altered policy of the Persian
court; and with that view he had been invested with the satrapies
of Lydia, the Greater Phrygia, and Cappadocia. The arrival of
Cyrus opens the last phase of the Peloponnesian war. Another
event, in the highest degree unfavourable to the Athenian cause,
was the accession of Lysander, as NAVARCHUS, to the command of
the Peloponnesian fleet. Lysander was the third of the
remarkable men whom Sparta produced during the war. In ability,
energy, and success he may be compared with Brasidas and
Gylippus, though immeasurably inferior to the former in every
moral quality. He was born of poor parents, and was by descent
one of those Lacedaemonians who could never enjoy the full rights
of Spartan citizenship. His ambition was boundless, and he was
wholly unscrupulous about the means which he employed to gratify
it. In pursuit of his objects he hesitated at neither deceit,
nor perjury, nor cruelty, and he is reported to have laid it down
as one of his maxims in life to avail himself of the fox's skin
where the lion's failed.

Lysander had taken up his station at Ephesus, with the
Lacedaemonian fleet of 70 triremes; and when Cyrus arrived at
Sardis, in the spring of 407 B.C., he hastened to pay his court
to the young prince, and was received with every mark of favour.
A vigrorous line of action was resolved on. Cyrus at once
offered 500 talents, and affirmed that, if more were needed, he
was prepared even to coin into money the very throne of gold and
silver on which he sat. In a banquet which ensued Cyrus drank to
the health of Lysander, and desired him to name any wish which he
could gratify. Lysander immediately requested an addition of an
obolus to the daily pay of the seamen. Cyrus was surprised at so
disinterested a demand, and from that day conceived a high degree
of respect and confidence for the Spartan commander. Lysander on
his return to Ephesus employed himself in refitting his fleet,
and in organising clubs in the Spartan interest in the cities of

Alcibiades set sail from Athens in September. Being ill provided
with funds for carrying on the war, he was driven to make
predatory excursions for the purpose of raising money. During
his absence he intrusted the bulk of the fleet at Samos to his
pilot, Antiochus, with strict injunctions not to venture on an
action. Notwithstanding these orders, however, Antiochus sailed
out and brought the Peloponnesian fleet to an engagement off
Notium, in which the Athenians were defeated with the loss of 15
ships, and Antiochus himself was slain. Among the Athenian
armament itself great dissatisfaction was growing up against
Alcibiades. Though at the head of a splendid force, he had in
three months time accomplished literally nothing. His
debaucheries and dissolute conduct on shore were charged against
him, as well as his selecting for confidential posts not the men
best fitted for them, but those who, like Antiochus were the boon
companions and the chosen associates of his revels. These
accusations forwarded to Athens, and fomented by his secret
enemies, soon produced an entire revulsion in the public feeling
towards Alcibiades. The Athenians voted that he should be
dismissed from his command, and they appointed in his place ten
new generals, with Conon at their head.

The year of Lysander's command expired about the same time as the
appointment of Conon to the Athenian fleet. Through the
intrigues of Lysander, his successor Callicratidas was received
with dissatisfaction both by the Lacedaemonian seamen and by
Cyrus. Loud complaints were raised of the impolicy of an annual
change of commanders. Lysander threw all sorts of difficulties
into the way of his successor, to whom he handed over an empty
chest, having first repaid to Cyrus all the money in his
possession under the pretence that it was a private loan. The
straightforward conduct of Callicratidas, however, who summoned
the Lacedaemonian commanders, and after a dignified remonstrance,
plainly put the question whether he should return home or remain,
silenced all opposition. But he was sorely embarrassed for
funds. Cyrus treated him with haughtiness; and when he waited on
that prince at Sardis, he was dismissed not only without money,
but even without an audience. Callicratidas, however, had too
much energy to be daunted by such obstacles. Sailing with his
fleet from Ephesus to Miletus, he laid before the assembly of
that city, in a spirited address, all the ill they had suffered
at the hands of the Persians, and exhorted them to bestir
themselves and dispense with the Persian alliance. He succeeded
in persuading the Milesians to make him a large grant of money,
whilst the leading men even came forward with private
subscriptions. By means of this assistance he was enabled to add
50 triremes to the 90 delivered to him by Lysander; and the
Chians further provided him with ten days' pay for the seamen.

The fleet of Callicratidas was now double that of Conon. The
latter was compelled to run before the superior force of
Callicratidas. Both fleets entered the harbour of Mytilene at
the same time, where a battle ensued in which Conon lost 30
ships, but he saved the remaining 40 by hauling them ashore under
the walls of the town. Callicratidas then blockaded Mytilene
both by sea and land; but Conon contrived to despatch a trireme
to Athens with the news of his desperate position.

As soon as the Athenians received intelligence of the blockade of
Mytilene; vast efforts were made for its relief; and we learn
with surprise that in thirty days a fleet of 110 triremes was
equipped and despatched from Piraeus. The armament assembled at
Samos, where it was reinforced by scattered Athenian ships, and
by contingents from the allies, to the extent of 40 vessels. The
whole fleet of 150 sail then proceeded to the small islands of
Arginusae, near the coast of Asia, and facing Malea, the south-
eastern cape of Lesbos. Callicratidas, who went out to meet
them, took up his station at the latter point, leaving a squadron
of 50 ships to maintain the blockade of Mytilene. He had thus
only 120 ships to oppose to the 150 of the Athenians, and his
pilot advised him to retire before the superior force of the
enemy. But Callicratidas replied that he would not disgrace
himself by flight, and that if he should perish Sparta would not
feel his loss. The battle was long and obstinate. All order was
speedily lost, and the ships fought singly with one another, In
one of these contests, Callicratidas, who stood on the prow of
his vessel ready to board the enemy, was thrown overboard by the
shock of the vessels as they met, and perished. At length
victory began to declare for the Athenians. The Lacedaemonians,
after losing 77 vessels, retreated with the remainder to Chios
and Phocaea. The loss of the Athenians was 25 vessels.

The battle of Arginusae led to a deplorable event, which has for
ever sullied the pages of Athenian history. At least a dozen
Athenian vessels were left floating about in a disabled condition
after the battle; but, owing to a violent storm that ensued, no
attempt was made to rescue the survivors, or to collect the
bodies of the dead for burial. Eight of the ten generals were
summoned home to answer for this conduct; Conon, by his situation
at Mytilene, was of course exculpated, and Archestratus had died.
Six of the generals obeyed the summons, and were denounced in the
Assembly by Theramenes, formerly one of the Four Hundred, for
neglect of duty. The generals replied that they had commissioned
Theramenes himself and Thrasybulus, each of whom commanded a
trireme in the engagement, to undertake the duty, and had
assigned 48 ships to them for that purpose. This, however, was
denied by Theramenes. There are discrepancies in the evidence,
and we have no materials for deciding positively which statement
was true; but probability inclines to the side of the generals.
Public feeling, however, ran very strongly against them, and was
increased by an incident which occurred during their trial.
After a day's debate the question was adjourned; and in the
interval the festival of the APATURIA was celebrated, in which,
according to annual custom, the citizens met together according
to their families and phratries. Those who had perished at
Arginusae were naturally missed on such an occasion; and the
usually cheerful character of the festival was deformed and
rendered melancholy by the relatives of the deceased appearing in
black clothes and with shaven heads. The passions of the people
were violently roused. At the next meeting of the Assembly,
Callixenus, a senator, proposed that the people should at once
proceed to pass its verdict on the generals, though they had been
only partially heard in their defence; and, moreover, that they
should all be included in one sentence, though it was contrary to
a rule of Attic law, known as the psephisma of Canonus, to indict
citizens otherwise than individually. The Prytanes, or senators
of the presiding tribe, at first refused to put the question to
the Assembly in this illegal way; but their opposition was at
length overawed by clamour and violence. There was, however, one
honourable exception. The philosopher Socrates, who was one of
the Prytanes, refused to withdraw his protest. But his
opposition was disregarded, and the proposal of Callixenus was
carried, The generals were condemned, delivered over to the
Eleven for execution, and compelled to drink the fatal hemlock.
Among them was Pericles, the son of the celebrated statesman.

In the following year (B.C. 405), through the influence of Cyrus
and the other allies of Sparta, Lysander again obtained the
command of the Peloponnesian fleet, though nominally under Aracus
as admiral; since it was contrary to Spartan usage that the same
man should be twice NAVARCHUS. His return to power was marked by
more vigorous measures. He sailed to the Hellespont, and laid
siege to Lampsacus. The Athenian fleet arrived too late to save
the town, but they proceeded up the strait and took post at
AEgospotami, or the "Goat's River;" a place which had nothing to
recommend it, except its vicinity to Lampsacus, from which it was
separated by a channel somewhat less than two miles broad. It
was a mere desolate beach, without houses or inhabitants, so that
all the supplies had to be fetched from Sestos, or from the
surrounding country, and the seamen were compelled to leave their
ships in order to obtain their meals. Under these circumstances
the Athenians were very desirous of bringing Lysander to an
engagement. But the Spartan commander, who was in a strong
position, and abundantly furnished with provisions, was in no
hurry to run any risks. In vain did the Athenians sail over
several days in succession to offer him battle; they always found
his ships ready manned, and drawn up in too strong a position to
warrant an attack; nor could they by all their manoeuvres succeed
in enticing him out to combat. This cowardice, as they deemed
it, on the part of the Lacedaemonians, begat a corresponding
negligence on theirs; discipline was neglected and the men
allowed to straggle almost at will. It was in vain that
Alcibiades, who since his dismissal resided in a fortress in that
neighbourhood, remonstrated with the Athenian generals on the
exposed nature of the station they had chosen, and advised them
to proceed to Sestos. His counsels were received with taunts and
insults. At length, on the fifth day, Lysander, having watched
an opportunity when the Athenian seamen had gone on shore and
were dispersed over the country, rowed swiftly across the strait
with all his ships. He found the Athenian fleet, with the
exception of 10 or 12 vessels, totally unprepared, and he
captured nearly the whole of it, without having occasion to
strike a single blow. Of the 180 ships which composed the fleet,
only the trireme of Conon himself, the Paralus, and 8 or 10 other
vessels succeeded in escaping. Conon was afraid to return to
Athens after so signal a disaster, and took refuge with Evagoras,
prince of Salamis in Cyprus.

By this momentous victory (September, B.C. 405) the Peloponnesian
war was virtually brought to an end. Lysander, secure of an easy
triumph, was in no haste to gather it by force. The command of
the Euxine enabled him to control the supplies of Athens; and
sooner or later, a few weeks of famine must decide her fall. He
now sailed forth to take possession of the Athenian towns, which
fell one after another into his power as soon as he appeared
before them. About November he arrived at AEgina, with an
overwhelming fleet of 150 triremes, and proceeded to devastate
Salamis and blockade Piraeus. At the same time the whole
Peloponnesian army was marched into Attica and encamped in the
precincts of the Academus, at the very gates of Athens. Famine
soon began to be felt within the walls, and at the end of three
months it became so dreadful, that the Athenians saw themselves
compelled to submit to the terms of the conqueror. These terms
were: That the long walls and the fortifications of Piraeus
should be demolished; that the Athenians should give up all their
foreign possessions, and confine themselves to their own
territory; that they should surrender all their ships of war;
that they should readmit all their exiles; and that they should
become allies of Sparta.

It was about the middle or end of March, B.C. 404, that Lysander
sailed into Piraeus, and took formal possession of Athens; the
war, in singular conformity with the prophecies current at the
beginning of it, having lasted for a period of thrice nine, or 27
years. The insolence of the victors added another blow to the
feelings of the conquered. The work of destruction, at which
Lysander presided, was converted into a sort of festival. Female
flute-players and wreathed dancers inaugurated the demolition of
the strong and proud bulwarks of Athens; and as the massive walls
fell piece by piece exclamations arose from the ranks of the
Peloponnesians that freedom had at length begun to dawn upon



The fall of Athens brought back a host of exiles, all of them the
enemies of her democratical constitution. Of these these most
distinguished was Critias, a man of wealth and family, the uncle
of Plato, and once the intimate friend of Socrates, distinguished
both for his literary and political talents, but of unmeasured
ambition and unscrupulous conscience. Critias and his companions
soon found a party with which they could co-operate; and
supported by Lysander they proposed in the assembly that a
committee of thirty should be named to draw up laws for the
future government of the city, and to undertake its temporary
administration. Among the most prominent of the thirty names
were those of Critias and Theramenes. The proposal was of course
carried. Lysander himself addressed the Assembly, and
contemptuously told them that they had better take thought for
their personal safety, which now lay at his mercy, than for their
political constitution. The committee thus appointed soon
obtained the title of the Thirty Tyrants, the name by which they
have become known in all subsequent time. After naming an
entirely new Senate, and appointing fresh magistrates, they
proceeded to exterminate their most obnoxious opponents. But
Critias, and the more violent party among them, still called for
more blood; and with the view of obtaining it, procured a Spartan
garrison, under the harmost Callibius, to be installed in the
Acropolis. Besides this force, they had an organized band of
assassins at their disposal. Blood now flowed on all sides.
Many of the leading men of Athens fell, others took to flight.

Thus the reign of terror was completely established. In the
bosom of the Thirty, however, there was a party, headed by
Theramenes, who disapproved of these proceedings. But his
moderation cost him his life. One day as he entered the Senate-
house, Critias rose and denounced him as a public enemy, and
ordered him to be carried off to instant death. Upon hearing
these words Theramenes sprang for refuge to the altar in the
Senate-house; but he was dragged away by Satyrus, the cruel and
unscrupulous head of the "Eleven," a body of officers who carried
into execution the penal sentence of the law. Being conveyed to
prison, he was compelled to drink the fatal hemlock. The
constancy of his end might have adorned a better life after
swallowing the draught, he jerked on the floor a drop which
remained in the cup, according to the custom of the game called
COTTABOS, exclaiming, "This to the health of the GENTLE Critias!"

Alcibiades had been included by the Thirty in the list of exiles;
but the fate which now overtook him seems to have sprung from the
fears of the Lacedaemonians, or perhaps from the personal hatred
of Agis. After the battle of AEgospotami, Pharnabazus permitted
the Athenian exile to live in Phrygia, and assigned him a revenue
for his maintenance. But a despatch came out from Sparta, to
Lysander, directing that Alcibiades should be put to death.
Lysander communicated the order to Pharnabazus, who arranged for
carrying it into execution. The house of Alcibiades was
surrounded with a band of assassins, and set on fire. He rushed
out with drawn sword upon his assailants, who shrank from the
attack, but who slew him from a distance with their javelins and
arrows. Timandra, a female with whom he lived, performed towards
his body the last offices of duty and affection. Thus perished
miserably, in the vigour of his age, one of the most remarkable,
but not one of the greatest, characters in Grecian history. With
qualities which, properly applied, might have rendered him the
greatest benefactor of Athens, he contrived to attain the
infamous distinction of being that citizen who had inflicted upon
her the most signal amount of damage.

Meantime an altered state of feeling was springing up in Greece.
Athens had ceased to be an object of fear or jealousy, and those
feelings began now to be directed towards Sparta. Lysander had
risen to a height of unparalleled power. He was in a manner
idolized. Poets showered their praises on him, and even altars
were raised in his honour by the Asiatic Greeks. In the name of
Sparta he exercised almost uncontrolled authority in the cities
he had reduced, including Athens itself. But it was soon
discovered that, instead of the freedom promised by the Spartans,
only another empire had been established, whilst Lysander was
even meditating to extort from the subject cities a yearly
tribute of one thousand talents. And all these oppressions were
rendered still more intolerable by the overweening pride and
harshness of Lysander's demeanour.

Even in Sparta itself the conduct of Lysander was beginning to
inspire disgust and jealousy. Pausanias, son of Plistoanax, who
was now king with Agis, as well as the new Ephors appointed in
September, B.C. 404, disapproved of his proceedings. The Thebans
and Corinthians themselves were beginning to sympathise with
Athens, and to regard the Thirty as mere instruments for
supporting the Spartan dominion; whilst Sparta in her turn looked
upon them as the tools of Lysander's ambition. Many of the
Athenian exiles had found refuge in Boeotia: and one of them
Thrasybulus, with the aid of Ismenias and other Theban citizens,
starting from Thebes at the head of a small band of exiles,
seized the fortress of Phyle in the passes of Mount Parnes and on
the direct road to Athens. The Thirty marched out to attack
Thrasybulus, at the head of the Lacedaemonian garrison and a
strong Athenian force. But their attack was repulsed with
considerable loss.

Shortly afterwards Thrasybulus marched from Phyle to Piraeus
which was now an open town, and seized upon it without
opposition. When the whole force of the Thirty, including the
Lacedaemonians, marched on the following day to attack him, he
retired to the hill of Munychia, the citadel of Piraeus, the only
approach to which was by a steep ascent. Here he drew up his
hoplites in files of ten deep, posting behind them his slingers
and dartmen. He exhorted his men to stand patiently till the
enemy came within reach of the missiles. At the first discharge
the assailing column seemed to waver; and Thrasybulus, taking
advantage of their confusion, charged down the hill, and
completely routed them, killing seventy, among whom was Critias
himself. The loss of their leader had thrown the majority into
the hands of the party formerly led by Theramenes, who resolved
to depose the Thirty and constitute a new oligarchy of Ten. Some
of the Thirty were re-elected into this body; but the more
violent colleagues of Critias were deposed and retired for safety
to Eleusis. The new government of the Ten sent to Sparta to
solicit further aid; and a similar application was made at the
same time from the section of the Thirty at Eleusis. Their
request was complied with; and Lysander once more entered Athens
at the head of a Lacedaemonian force. Fortunately, however, the
jealousy of the Lacedaemonians towards Lysander led them at this
critical juncture to supersede him in the command. King
Pausanias was appointed to conduct an army into Attica, and when
he encamped in the Academus he was joined by Lysander and his
forces. It was known at Athens that the views of Pausanias were
unfavourable to the proceedings of Lysander; and the presence of
the Spartan king elicited a vehement reaction against the
oligarchy, which fear had hitherto suppressed. All parties sent
envoys to Sparta. The Ephors and the Lacedaemonian Assembly
referred the question to a committee of fifteen, of whom
Pausanias was one. The decision of this board was: That the
exiles in Piraeus should be readmitted to Athens, and that there
should be an amnesty for all that had passed, except as regarded
the Thirty and the Ten.

When these terms were settled and sworn to, the Peloponnesians
quitted Attica; and Thrasybulus and the exiles, marching in
solemn procession from Piraeus to Athens, ascended to the
Acropolis and offered up a solemn sacrifice and thanksgiving. An
assembly of the people was then held, and after Thrasybulus had
addressed an animated reproof to the oligarchical party, the
democracy was unanimously restored. This important counter-
revolution took place in the spring of 403 B.C. The archons, the
senate of 500, the public assembly, and the dicasteries seem to
have been reconstituted in the same form as before the capture of
the city.

Thus was terminated, after a sway of eight months, the despotism
of the Thirty. The year which contained their rule was not named
after the archon, but was termed "the year of anarchy." The
first archon drawn after their fall was Euclides, who gave his
name to a year ever afterwards memorable among the Athenians.

For the next few years the only memorable event in the history of
Athens is the death of Socrates. This celebrated philosopher was
born in the year 468 B.C., in the immediate neighbourhood of
Athens. His father, Sophroniscus, was a sculptor, and Socrates
was brought up to, and for some time practised, the same
profession. He was married to Xanthippe, by whom he had three
sons; but her bad temper has rendered her name proverbial for a
conjugal scold. His physical constitution was healthy, robust,
and wonderfully enduring. Indifferent alike to heat and cold the
same scanty and homely clothing sufficed him both in summer and
winter; and even in the campaign of Potidaea, amidst the snows of
a Thracian winter, he went barefooted. But though thus gifted
with strength of body and of mind, he was far from being endowed
with personal beauty. His thick lips, flat nose, and prominent
eyes, gave him the appearance of a Silenus, or satyr. He served
with credit as an hoplite at Potidaea (B.C. 432), Delium (B.C.
424), and Amphipolis (B.C. 422); but it was not till late in
life, in the year 406 B.C., that he filled any political office.
He was one of the Prytanes when, after the battle of Arginusae,
Callixenus submitted his proposition respecting the six generals
to the public Assembly, and his refusal on that occasion to put
an unconstitutional question to the vote has been already
recorded. He had a strong persuasion that he was intrusted with
a divine mission, and he believed himself to be attended by a
daemon, or genius, whose admonitions he frequently heard, not,
however, in the way of excitement, but of restraint. He never
WROTE anything, but he made oral instruction the great business
of his life. Early in the morning he frequented the public
walks, the gymnasia, and the schools; whence he adjourned to the
market-place at its most crowded hours, and thus spent the whole
day in conversing with young and old, rich and poor,--with all in
short who felt any desire for his instructions.

That a reformer and destroyer, like Socrates, of ancient
prejudices and fallacies which passed current under the name of
wisdom should have raised up a host of enemies is only what might
be expected; but in his case this feeling was increased by the
manner in which he fulfilled his mission. The oracle of Delphi,
in response to a question put by his friend Chaerephon, had
affirmed that no man was wiser than Socrates. No one was more
perplexed at this declaration than Socrates himself, since he was
conscious of possessing no wisdom at all. However, he determined
to test the accuracy of the priestess, for, though he had little
wisdom, others might have still less. He therefore selected an
eminent politician who enjoyed a high reputation for wisdom, and
soon elicited by his scrutinising method of cross-examination,
that this statesman's reputed wisdom was no wisdom at all. But
of this he could not convince the subject of his examination;
whence Socrates concluded that he was wiser than this politician,
inasmuch as he was conscious of his own ignorance, and therefore
exempt from the error of believing himself wise when in reality
he was not so. The same experiment was tried with the same
result on various classes of men; on poets, mechanics, and
especially on the rhetors and sophists, the chief of all the
pretenders to wisdom.

The first indication of the unpopularity which he had incurred is
the attack made upon him by Aristophanes in the 'Clouds' in the
year 423 B.C. That attack, however, seems to have evaporated
with the laugh, and for many years Socrates continued his
teaching without molestation. It was not till B.C. 399 that the
indictment was preferred against him which cost him his life. In
that year, Meletus, a leather-seller, seconded by Anytus, a poet,
and Lycon, a rhetor, accused him of impiety in not worshipping
the gods of the city, and in introducing new deities, and also of
being a corrupter of youth. With respect to the latter charge,
his former intimacy with Alcibiades and Critias may have, weighed
against him. Socrates made no preparations for his defence, and
seems, indeed, not to have desired an acquittal. But although he
addressed the dicasts in a bold uncompromising tone, he was
condemned only by a small majority of five or six in a court
composed of between five and six hundred dicasts. After the
verdict was pronounced, he was entitled, according to the
practice of the Athenian courts, to make some counter-proposition
in place of the penalty of death, which the accusers had
demanded, and if he had done so with any show of submission it is
probable that the sentence would have been mitigated. But his
tone after the verdict was higher than before. Instead of a
fine, he asserted that he ought to be maintained in the Prytaneum
at the public expense, as a public benefactor. This seems to
have enraged the dicasts and he was condemned to death.

It happened that the vessel which proceeded to Delos on the
annual deputation to the festival had sailed the day before his
condemnation; and during its absence it was unlawful to put any
one to death. Socrates was thus kept in prison during thirty
days, till the return of the vessel. He spent the interval in
philosophical conversations with his friends. Crito, one of
these, arranged a scheme for his escape by bribing the gaoler;
but Socrates, as might be expected from the tone of his defence,
resolutely refused to save his life by a breach of the law. His
last discourse, on the day of his death, turned on the
immortality of the soul. With a firm and cheerful countenance he
drank the cup of hemlock amidst his sorrowing and weeping
friends. His last words were addressed to Crito:--"Crito, we owe
a cock to AEsculapius; discharge the debt, and by no means omit

Thus perished the greatest and most original of the Grecian
philosophers, whose uninspired wisdom made the nearest approach
to the divine morality of the Gospel. His teaching forms an
epoch in the history of philosophy. From his school sprang
Plato, the founder of the Academic philosophy; Euclides, the
founder of the Megaric school; Aristippus, the founder of the
Cyrenaic school; and many other philosophers of eminence.


THOUSAND, B.C. 401-400.

The assistance which Cyrus had rendered to the Lacedaemonians in
the Peloponnesian war led to a remarkable episode in Grecian
history. This was the celebrated expedition of Cyrus against his
brother Artaxerxes, in which the superiority of Grecian to
Asiatic soldiers was so strikingly shown.

The death of Darius Nothus, king of Persia, took place B.C. 404,
shortly before the battle of AEgospotami. Cyrus, who was present
at his father's death, was charged by Tissaphernes with plotting
against his elder brother Artaxerxes, who succeeded to the
throne. The accusation was believed by Artaxerxes, who seized
his brother, and would have put him to death, but for the
intercession of their mother, Parysatis, who persuaded him not
only to spare Cyrus but to confirm him in his former government.
Cyrus returned to Sardis burning with revenge, and fully resolved
to make an effort to dethrone his brother.

From his intercourse with the Greeks Cyrus had become aware of
their superiority to the Asiatics, and of their usefulness in
such an enterprise as he now contemplated. The peace which
followed the capture of Athens seemed favourable to his projects.
Many Greeks, bred up in the practice of war during the long
struggle between that city and Sparta, were now deprived of their
employment, whilst many more had been driven into exile by the
establishment of the Spartan oligarchies in the various conquered
cities. Under the pretence of a private war with the satrap,
Tissaphernes, Cyrus enlisted large numbers of them in his
service. The Greek in whom he placed most confidence was
Clearchus, a Lacedaemonian, and formerly harmost of Byzantium,
who had been condemned to death by the Spartan authorities for
disobedience to their orders.

It was not, however, till the beginning of the year B.C. 401 that
the enterprise of Cyrus was ripe for execution. The Greek levies
were then withdrawn from the various towns in which they were
distributed, and concentrated in Sardis, to the number of about
8000; and in March or April of this year Cyrus marched from
Sardis with them, and with an army of 100,000 Asiatics. The
object of the expedition was proclaimed to be an attack upon the
mountain-freebooters of Pisidia; its real destination was a
secret to every one except Cyrus himself and Clearchus. Among
the Greek soldiers was Xenophon, an Athenian knight, to whom we
owe a narrative of the expedition. He went as a volunteer, at
the invitation of his friend Proxenus, a Boeotian, and one of the
generals of Cyrus.

The march of Cyrus was directed through Lydia and Phrygia. after
passing Colossae he arrived at Colaenae, where he was joined by
more Greek troops, the number of whom now amounted to 11,000
hoplites and 2000 peltasts. The line of march, which had been
hitherto straight upon Pisidia, was now directed northwards.
Cyrus passed in succession the Phrygian towns of Peltae, Ceramon
Agora, the Plain of Cayster, Thymbrium, Tyriaeum, and Iconium,
the last city in Phrygia. Thence he proceeded through Lycaonia
to Dana, and across Mount Taurus into Cilicia.

On arriving at Tarsus, a city on the coast of Cilicia, the Greeks
plainly saw that they had been deceived, and that the expedition
was designed against the Persian king. Seized with alarm at the
prospect of so long a march, they sent a deputation to Cyrus to
ask him what his real intentions were. Cyrus replied that his
design was to march against his enemy, Abrocomas, satrap of
Syria, who was encamped on the banks of the Euphrates. The
Greeks, though they still suspected a delusion, contented
themselves with this answer in the face of their present
difficulties, especially as Cyrus promised to raise their pay
from one Daric to one Daric and a half a month. The whole army
then marched forwards to Issus, the last town in Cilicia, seated
on the gulf of the same name. Here they met the fleet, which
brought them a reinforcement of 1100 Greek soldiers, thus raising
the Grecian force to about 14,000 men.

Abrocomas, who commanded for the Great King in Syria and
Phoenicia, alarmed at the rapid progress of Cyrus, fled before
him with all his army, reported as 300,000 strong; abandoning the
impregnable pass situated one day's march from Issus, and known
as the Gates of Cilicia and Syria. Marching in safety through
this pass, the army next reached Myriandrus, a seaport of
Phoenicia. From this place Cyrus struck off into the interior,
over Mount Amanus. Twelve days' march brought him to Thapsacus
on the Euphrates, where for the first time he formally notified
to the army that he was marching to Babylon against his brother
Artaxerxes, The water happened to be very low, scarcely reaching
to the breast; and Abrocomas made no attempt to dispute the
passage. The army now entered upon the desert, where the Greeks
were struck with the novel sights which met their view, and at
once amused and exhausted themselves in the chase of the wild ass
and the antelope, or in the vain pursuit of the scudding ostrich.
After several days of toilsome march the army at length reached
Pylae, the entrance into the cultivated plains of Babylonia,
where they halted a few days to refresh themselves.

Soon after leaving that place symptoms became perceptible of a
vast hostile force moving in their front. The exaggerated
reports of deserters stated it at 1,200,000 men; its real
strength was about 900,000. In a characteristic address Cyrus
exhorted the Greeks to take no heed of the multitude of their
enemies; they would find in them, he affirmed nothing but numbers
and noise, and, if they could bring themselves to despise these,
they would soon find of what worthless stuff the natives were
composed. The army then marched cautiously forwards, in order of
battle, along the left bank of the Euphrates. They soon came
upon a huge trench, 30 feet broad and 18 deep, which Artaxerxes
had caused to be dug across the plain for a length of about 42
English miles, reaching from the Euphrates to the wall of Media.
Between it and the river was left only a narrow passage about 20
feet broad; yet Cyrus and his army found with surprise that this
pass was left entirely undefended. This circumstance inspired
them with a contempt of the enemy, and induced them to proceed in
careless array; but on the next day but one after passing the
trench, on arriving at a place called Cunaxa, they were surprised
with the intelligence that Artaxerxes was approaching with all
his forces. Cyrus immediately drew up his army in order of
battle. The Greeks were posted on the right, whilst Cyrus
himself, surrounded by a picked body-guard of 600 Persian
cuirassiers, took up his station in the centre. When the enemy
were about half a mile distant, the Greeks engaged them with the
usual war-shout. The Persians did not await their onset, but
turned and fled. Tissaphernes and his cavalry alone offered any
resistance; the remainder of the Persian left was routed without
a blow. As Cyrus was contemplating the easy victory of the
Greeks, his followers surrounded him, and already saluted him
with the title of king. But the centre and right of Artaxerxes
still remained unbroken; and that monarch, unaware of the defeat
of his left wing, ordered the right to wheel and encompass the
army of Cyrus. No sooner did Cyrus perceive this movement than
with his body-guard he impetuously charged the enemy's centre,
where Artaxerxes himself stood, surrounded with 6000 horse. The
latter were routed and dispersed, and were followed so eagerly by
the guards of Cyrus, that he was left almost alone with the
select few called his "Table Companions." In this situation he
caught sight of his brother Artaxerxes, whose person was revealed
by the flight of his troops, when, maddened at once by rage and
ambition, he shouted out, "I see the man!" and rushed at him
with his handful of companions. Hurling his javelin at his
brother, he wounded him in the breast, but was himself speedily
overborne by superior numbers and slain on the spot.

Meanwhile Clearchus had pursued the flying enemy upwards of three
miles; but hearing that the king's troops were victorious on the
left and centre, he retraced his steps, again routing the
Persians who endeavoured to intercept him. When the Greeks
regained their camp they found that it had been completely
plundered, and were consequently obliged to go supperless to
rest. It was not till the following day that they learned the
death of Cyrus; tidings which converted their triumph into sorrow
and dismay. They were desirous that Ariaeus who now commanded
the army of Cyrus, should lay claim to the Persian crown, and
offered to support his pretensions; but Ariaeus answered that the
Persian grandees would not tolerate such a claim; that he
intended immediately to retreat; and that, if the Greeks wished
to accompany him, they must join him during the following night.
This was accordingly done; when oaths of reciprocal fidelity were
interchanged between the Grecian generals and Ariaeus, and
sanctified by a solemn sacrifice.

On the following day a message arrived from the Persian King,
with a proposal to treat for peace on equal terms. Clearchus
affected to treat the offer with great indifference, and made it
an opportunity for procuring provisions. "Tell your king," said
he to the envoys, "that we must first fight; for we have had no
breakfast, nor will any man presume to talk to the Greeks about a
truce without first providing for them a breakfast." This was
agreed to, and guides were sent to conduct the Greeks to some
villages where they might obtain food. Here they received a
visit from Tissaphernes, who pretended much friendship towards
them, and said that ha had come from the Great King to inquire
the reason of their expedition. Clearchus replied--what was
indeed true of the greater part of the army--that they had not
come hither with any design to attack the king, but had been
enticed forwards by Cyrus under false pretences; that their only
desire at present was to return home; but that, if any obstacle
was offered, they were prepared to repel hostilities. In a day
or two Tissaphernes returned and with some parade stated that he
had with great difficulty obtained permission to SAVE the Greek
army; that he was ready to conduct them in person into Greece;
and to supply them with provisions, for which, however, they were
to pay. An agreement was accordingly entered into to this
effect; and after many days delay they commenced the homeward
march. After marching three days they passed through the wall of
Media, which was 100 feet high and 20 feet broad. Two days more
brought them to the Tigris, which they crossed on the following
morning by a bridge of boats. They then marched northward,
arriving in four days at the river Physcus and a large city
called Opis. Six days' further march through a deserted part of
Media brought them to some villages belonging to queen Parysatis,
which, out of enmity to her as the patron of Cyrus, Tissaphernes
abandoned to be plundered by the Greeks. From thence they
proceeded in five days to the river Zabatus, or Greater Zab,
having previously crossed the Lesser Zab, which Xenophon neglects
to mention. In the first of these five days they saw on the
opposite side of the Tigris a large city called Caenae, the
inhabitants of which brought over provisions to them. At the
Greater Zab they halted three days. Mistrust, and even slight
hostilities, had been already manifested between the Greeks and
Persians, but they now became so serious that Clearchus demanded
an interview with Tissaphernes. The latter protested the
greatest fidelity and friendship towards the Greeks, and promised
to deliver to the Greek generals, on the following day, the
calumniators who had set the two armies at variance. But when
Clearchus, with four other generals, accompanied by some lochages
or captains, and 200 soldiers, entered the Persian camp,
according to appointment; the captains and soldiers were
immediately cut down; whilst the five generals were seized, put
into irons, and sent to the Persian court. After a short
imprisonment, four of them were beheaded; the fifth, Menon, who
pretended that he had betrayed his colleagues into the hands of
Tissaphernes, was at first spared; but after a year's detention
was put to death with tortures.

Apprehension and dismay reigned among the Greeks. Their
situation was, indeed, appalling. They were considerably more
than a thousand miles from home, in a hostile and unknown
country, hemmed in on all sides by impassable rivers and
mountains, without generals, without guides, without provisions.
Xenophon was the first to rouse the captains to the necessity for
taking immediate precautions. Though young, he possessed as an
Athenian citizen some claim to distinction; and his animated
address showed him fitted for command. He was saluted general on
the spot; and in a subsequent assembly was, with four others,
formally elected to that office.

The Greeks, having first destroyed their superfluous baggage,
crossed the Greater Zab, and pursued their march on the other
bank. They passed by the ruined cities of Larissa and Mespila on
the Tigris, in the neighbourhood of the ancient Nineveh. The
march from Mespila to the mountainous country of the Carduchi
occupied several days in which the Greeks suffered much from the
attacks of the enemy.

Their future route was now a matter of serious perplexity. On
their left lay the Tigris, so deep that they could not fathom it
with their spears; while in their front rose the steep and lofty
mountains of the Carduchi, which came so near the river as hardly
to leave a passage for its waters. As all other roads seemed
barred, they formed the resolution of striking into these
mountains, on the farther side of which lay Armenia, where both
the Tigris and the Euphrates might be forded near their sources.
After a difficult and dangerous march of seven days, during which
their sufferings were far greater than any they had experienced
from the Persians the army at length emerged into Armenia. It
was now the month of December, and Armenia was cold and exposed,
being a table-land raised high above the level of the sea.
Whilst halting near some well-supplied villages, the Greeks were
overtaken by two deep falls of snow, which almost buried them in
their open bivouacs. Hence a five days' march brought them to
the eastern branch of the Euphrates. Crossing the river, they
proceeded on the other side of it over plains covered with a deep
snow, and in the face of a biting north wind. Here many of the
slaves and beasts of burthen, and even a few of the soldiers,
fell victims to the cold. Some had their feet frost-bitten; some
were blinded by the snow; whilst others, exhausted with cold and
hunger, sunk down and died. On the eighth day they proceeded on
their way, ascending the banks of the Phasis, not the celebrated
river of that name, but probably the one usually called Araxes.

From thence they fought their way through the country of the
Taochi and Chalybes. They next reached the country of the
Scythini, in whose territory they found abundance in a large and
populous city called Gymnias. The chief of this place having
engaged to conduct them within sight of the Euxine, they
proceeded for five days under his guidance; when, after ascending
a mountain, the sea suddenly burst on the view of the vanguard.
The men proclaimed their joy by loud shouts of "The sea! the
sea!" The rest of the army hurried to the summit, and gave vent
to their joy and exultation in tears and mutual embraces. A few
days' march through the country of the Macrones and Colchians at
length brought them to the objects for which they had so often
pined, and which many at one time had never hoped to see again
--a Grecian city and the sea. By the inhabitants of Trapezus or
Trebizond, on the Euxine, where they had now arrived, they were
hospitably received, and, being cantoned in some Colchian
villages near the town, refreshed themselves after the hardships
they had undergone by a repose of thirty days.

The most difficult part of the return of the Ten Thousand was now
accomplished, and it is unnecessary to trace the remainder of
their route. After many adventures they succeeded in reaching
Byzantium, and they subsequently engaged to serve the
Lacedaemonians in a war which Sparta had just declared against
the satraps Tissaphernes and Pharnabazus.

In the spring of B.C. 399, Thimbron, the Lacedaemonian commander,
arrived at Pergamus, and the remainder of the Ten Thousand Greeks
became incorporated with his army. Xenophon now returned to
Athens, where he must have arrived shortly after the execution of
his master Socrates. Disgusted probably by that event, he
rejoined his old comrades in Asia, and subsequently returned to
Greece along with Agesilaus.



After the fall of Athens, Sparta stood without a rival in Greece.
In the various cities which had belonged to the Athenian empire
Lysander established an oligarchical Council of Ten, called a
DECARCHY or Decemvirate, subject to the control of a Spartan
HARMOST or governor. The Decarchies, however, remained only a
short time in power, since the Spartan government regarded them
with jealousy as the partisans of Lysander; but harmosts
continued to be placed in every state subject to their empire.
The government of the harmosts was corrupt and oppressive; no
justice could be obtained against them by an appeal to the
Spartan authorities at home; and the Grecian cities soon had
cause to regret the milder and more equitable sway of Athens.

On the death of Agis in B.C. 398, his half-brother Agesilaus was
appointed King, to the exclusion of Leotychides, the son of Agis.
This was mainly effected by the powerful influence of Lysander,
who erroneously considered Agesilaus to be of a yielding and
manageable disposition and hoped by a skilful use of those
qualities to extend his own influence, and under the name of
another to be in reality king himself.

Agesilaus was now forty years of age, and esteemed a model of
those virtues more peculiarly deemed Spartan. He was obedient to
the constituted authorities, emulous to excel, courageous,
energetic, capable of bearing all sorts of hardship and fatigue,
simple and frugal in his mode of life. To these severer
qualities he added the popular attractions of an agreeable
countenance and pleasing address. His personal defects at first
stood in the way of his promotion. He was not only low in
stature, but also lame of one leg; and there was an ancient
oracle which warned the Spartans to beware of "a lame reign."
The ingenuity of Lysander, assisted probably by the popular
qualities of Agesilaus, contrived to overcome this objection by
interpreting a lame reign to mean not any bodily defect in the
king, but the reign of one who was not a genuine descendant of
Hercules. Once possessed of power, Agesilaus supplied any defect
in his title by the prudence and policy of his conduct; and, by
the marked deference which he paid both to the Ephors and the
senators, he succeeded in gaining for himself more real power
than had been enjoyed by any of his predecessors.

The affairs of Asia Minor soon began to draw the attention of
Agesilaus to that quarter. The assistance lent to Cyrus by the
Spartans was no secret at the Persian court; and Tissaphernes,
who had been rewarded for his fidelity with the satrapy of Cyrus
in addition to his own, no sooner returned to his government than
he attacked the Ionian cities, then under the protection of
Sparta. A considerable Lacedaemonian force under Thimbron was
despatched to their assistance, and which, as related in the
preceding chapter, was joined by the remnant of the Greeks who
had served under Cyrus. Thimbron, however, proved so inefficient
a commander, that he was superseded at the end of 399 or
beginning of 398 B.C., and Dercyllidas appointed in his place.
But though at first successful against Pharnabazus in AEolis,
Dercyllidas was subsequently surprised in Caria in such an
unfavourable position that he would have suffered severely but
for the timidity of Tissaphernes, who was afraid to venture upon
an action. Under these circumstances an armistice was agreed to
for the purpose of treating for a peace (397 B.C.).

Pharnabazus availed himself of this armistice to make active
preparations for a renewal of the war. He obtained large
reinforcements of Persian troops, and began to organize a fleet
in Phoenicia and Cilicia. This was intrusted to the Athenian
admiral Conon, of whom we now first hear again after a lapse of
seven years since his defeat at AEgospotami. After that
disastrous battle Conon fled with nine triremes to Cyprus, where
he was now living under the protection of Evagoras, prince of

It was the news of these extensive preparations that induced
Agesilaus, on the suggestion of Lysander, to volunteer his
services against the Persians. He proposed to take with him only
30 full Spartan citizens, or peers, to act as a sort of council,
together with 2000 Neodamodes, or enfranchised Helots, and 6000
hoplites of the allies. Lysander intended to be the leader of
the 30 Spartans, and expected through them to be the virtual
commander of the expedition of which Agesilaus was nominally the

Since the time of Agamemnon no Grecian king had led an army into
Asia; and Agesilaus studiously availed himself of the prestige of
that precedent in order to attract recruits to his standard. The
Spartan kings claimed to inherit the sceptre of Agamemnon; and to
render the parallel more complete, Agesilaus proceeded with a
division of his fleet to Aulis, intending there to imitate the
memorable sacrifice of the Homeric hero. But as he had neglected
to ask the permission of the Thebans, and conducted the sacrifice
and solemnities by means of his own prophets and ministers, and
in a manner at variance with the usual rites of the temple, the
Thebans were offended, and expelled him by armed force:--an
insult which he never forgave.

It was in 396 B.C. that Agesilaus arrived at Ephesus and took the
command in Asia. He demanded of the Persians the complete
independence of the Greek cities in Asia; and in order that there
might be time to communicate with the Persian court, the
armistice was renewed for three months. During this interval of
repose, Lysander, by his arrogance and pretensions, offended both
Agesilaus and the Thirty Spartans. Agesilaus, determined to
uphold his dignity, subjected Lysander to so many humiliations
that he was at last fain to request his dismissal from Ephesus,
and was accordingly sent to the Hellespont, where he did good
service to the Spartan interests.

Meanwhile Tissaphernes, having received large reinforcements,
sent a message to Agesilaus before the armistice had expired,
ordering him to quit Asia. Agesilaus immediately made
preparations as if he would attack Tissaphernes in Caria; but
having thus put the enemy on a false scent, he suddenly turned
northwards into Phrygia, the satrapy of Pharnabazus, and marched
without opposition to the neighbourhood of Dascylium, the
residence of the satrap himself. Here, however, he was repulsed
by the Persian cavalry. He now proceeded into winter quarters at
Ephesus, where be employed himself in organizing a body of
cavalry to compete with the Persians. During the winter the army
was brought into excellent condition; and Agesilaus gave out
early in the spring of 395 B.C. that he should march direct upon
Sardis. Tissaphernes suspecting another feint, now dispersed his
cavalry in the plain of the Maeander. But this time Agesilaus
marched as he had announced, and in three days arrived unopposed
on the banks of the Pactolus, before the Persian cavalry could be

Book of the day: