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The Great Events by Famous Historians, Vol. 2 by Various

Part 2 out of 9

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There were also some whose recovery was attended with a total loss of
memory, so that they no more knew themselves or recognized their
friends. No treatment or remedy appearing, except in accidental cases,
to produce any beneficial effect, the physicians or surgeons whose aid
was invoked became completely at fault. While trying their accustomed
means without avail, they soon ended by catching the malady themselves
and perishing. The charms and incantations, to which the unhappy patient
resorted, were not likely to be more efficacious. While some asserted
that the Peloponnesians had poisoned the cisterns of water, others
referred the visitation to the wrath of the gods, and especially to
Apollo, known by hearers of the _Iliad_ as author of pestilence in the
Greek host before Troy. It was remembered that this Delphian god had
promised the Lacedaemonians, in reply to their application immediately
before the war, that he would assist them whether invoked or uninvoked;
and the disorder now raging was ascribed to the intervention of their
irresistible ally; while the elderly men further called to mind an
oracular verse sung in the time of their youth: "The Dorian war will
come, and pestilence along with it." Under the distress which suggested,
and was reciprocally aggravated by these gloomy ideas, prophets were
consulted, and supplications with solemn procession were held at the
temples, to appease the divine wrath.

When it was found that neither the priest nor the physician could retard
the spread or mitigate the intensity of the disorder, the Athenians
abandoned themselves to despair, and the space within the walls became a
scene of desolating misery. Every man attacked with the malady at once
lost his courage--a state of depression itself among the worst features
of the case, which made him lie down and die, without any attempt to
seek for preservatives. And although at first friends and relatives lent
their aid to tend the sick with the usual family sympathies, yet so
terrible was the number of these attendants who perished, "like sheep,"
from such contact, that at length no man would thus expose himself;
while the most generous spirits, who persisted longest in the discharge
of their duty, were carried off in the greatest numbers. The patient was
thus left to die alone and unheeded. Sometimes all the inmates of a
house were swept away one after the other, no man being willing to go
near it: desertion on the one hand, attendance on the other, both tended
to aggravate the calamity. There remained only those who, having had the
disorder and recovered, were willing to tend the sufferers.

These men formed the single exception to the all-pervading misery of the
time--for the disorder seldom attacked anyone twice, and when it did the
second attack was never fatal. Elate with their own escape, they deemed
themselves out of the reach of all disease, and were full of
compassionate kindness for others whose sufferings were just beginning.
It was from them too that the principal attention to the bodies of
deceased victims proceeded: for such was the state of dismay and sorrow
that even the nearest relatives neglected the sepulchral duties, sacred
beyond all others in the eyes of a Greek. Nor is there any circumstance
which conveys to us so vivid an idea of the prevalent agony and despair
as when we read, in the words of an eyewitness, that the deaths took
place among this close-packed crowd without the smallest decencies of
attention--that the dead and the dying lay piled one upon another not
merely in the public roads, but even in the temples, in spite of the
understood defilement of the sacred building--that half-dead sufferers
were seen lying round all the springs, from insupportable thirst--that
the numerous corpses thus unburied and exposed were in such a condition
that the dogs which meddled with them died in consequence, while no
vultures or other birds of the like habits ever came near.

Those bodies which escaped entire neglect were burnt or buried without
the customary mourning, and with unseemly carelessness. In some cases
the bearers of a body, passing by a funeral pile on which another body
was burning, would put their own there to be burnt also; or perhaps, if
the pile was prepared ready for a body not yet arrived, would deposit
their own upon it, set fire to the pile, and then depart. Such indecent
confusion would have been intolerable to the feelings of the Athenians
in any ordinary times.

To all these scenes of physical suffering, death, and reckless despair
was superadded another evil, which affected those who were fortunate
enough to escape the rest. The bonds both of law and morality became
relaxed, amid such total uncertainty of every man both for his own life
and that of others. Men cared not to abstain from wrong, under
circumstances in which punishment was not likely to overtake them, nor
to put a check upon their passions, and endure privations, in obedience
even to their strongest conviction, when the chance was so small of
their living to reap reward or enjoy any future esteem. An interval,
short and sweet, before their doom was realized--before they became
plunged in the widespread misery which they witnessed around, and which
affected indiscriminately the virtuous and the profligate--was all that
they looked to enjoy; embracing with avidity the immediate pleasures of
sense, as well as such positive gains, however ill-gotten, as could be
made the means of procuring them, and throwing aside all thought both of
honor and of long-sighted advantage. Life and property being alike
ephemeral, there was no hope left but to snatch a moment of enjoyment,
before the outstretched hand of destiny should fall upon its victims.

The picture of society under the pressure of a murderous epidemic, with
its train of physical torments, wretchedness, and demoralization, has
been drawn by more than one eminent author, but by none with more
impressive fidelity and conciseness than by Thucydides, who had no
predecessor, nor anything but the reality, to copy from. We may remark
that amid all the melancholy accompaniments of the time there are no
human sacrifices, such as those offered up at Carthage during pestilence
to appease the anger of the gods--there are no cruel persecutions
against imaginary authors of the disease, such as those against the
Untori (anointers of doors) in the plague of Milan in 1630.

Three years altogether did this calamity desolate Athens: continuously,
during the entire second and third years of the war--after which
followed a period of marked abatement for a year and a half; but it then
revived again, and lasted for another year, with the same fury as at
first. The public loss, over and above the private misery, which this
unexpected enemy inflicted upon Athens, was incalculable. Out of twelve
hundred horsemen, all among the rich men of the state, three hundred
died of the epidemic; besides forty-four hundred _hoplites_ out of the
roll formally kept, and a number of the poorer population so great as to
defy computation. No efforts of the Peloponnesians could have done so
much to ruin Athens, or to bring the war to a termination such as they
desired: and the distemper told the more in their favor, as it never
spread at all into Peloponnesus, though it passed from Athens to some of
the more populous islands. The Lacedaemonian army was withdrawn from
Attica somewhat earlier than it would otherwise have been, for fear of
taking the contagion.

But it was while the Lacedaemonians were yet in Attica, and during the
first freshness of the terrible malady, that Pericles equipped and
conducted from Piraeus an armament of one hundred triremes and four
thousand hoplites to attack the coasts of Peloponnesus; three hundred
horsemen were also carried in some horse-transports, prepared for the
occasion out of old triremes. To diminish the crowd accumulated in the
city was doubtless of beneficial tendency, and perhaps those who went
aboard might consider it as a chance of escape to quit an infected home.
But unhappily they carried the infection along with them, which
desolated the fleet not less than the city, and crippled all its
efforts. Reenforced by fifty ships of war from Chios and Lesbos, the
Athenians first landed near Epidaurus in Peloponnesus, ravaging the
territory and making an unavailing attempt upon the city; next they made
like incursions on the most southerly portions of the Argolic
peninsula--Troezen, Halieis, and Hermione--and lastly attacked and
captured Prasiae, on the eastern coast of Laconia. On returning to
Athens, the same armament was immediately conducted under Agnon and
Cleopompus, to press the siege of Potidaea, the blockade of which still
continued without any visible progress. On arriving there an attack was
made on the walls by battering engines and by the other aggressive
methods then practised; but nothing whatever was achieved. In fact, the
armament became incompetent for all serious effort, from the aggravated
character which the distemper here assumed, communicated by the soldiers
fresh from Athens even to those who had before been free from it at
Potidaea. So frightful was the mortality that out of the four thousand
hoplites under Agnon no fewer than one thousand and fifty died in the
short space of forty days. The armament was brought back in this
distressed condition to Athens, while the reduction of Potidaea was left
as before, to the slow course of blockade.

On returning from the expedition against Peloponnesus, Pericles found
his countrymen almost distracted with their manifold sufferings. Over
and above the raging epidemic they had just gone over Attica and
ascertained the devastations committed by the invaders throughout all
the territory--except the Marathonian Tetrapolis and Deceleia, districts
spared, as we are told, through indulgence founded on an ancient
legendary sympathy--during their long stay of forty days. The rich had
found their comfortable mansions and farms, the poor their modest
cottages, in the various _demes_, torn down and ruined. Death, sickness,
loss of property, and despair of the future now rendered the Athenians
angry and intractable to the last degree. They vented their feelings
against Pericles as the cause not merely of the war, but also of all
that they were now enduring. Either with or without his consent, they
sent envoys to Sparta to open negotiations for peace, but the Spartans
turned a deaf ear to the proposition. This new disappointment rendered
them still more furious against Pericles, whose long-standing political
enemies now doubtless found strong sympathy in their denunciations of
his character and policy. That unshaken and majestic firmness, which
ranked first among his many eminent qualities, was never more
imperiously required and never more effectively manifested.

In his capacity of _strategus_, or general, Pericles convoked a formal
assembly of the people, for the purpose of vindicating himself publicly
against the prevailing sentiment, and recommending perseverance in his
line of policy. The speeches made by his opponents, assuredly very
bitter, are not given by Thucydides; but that of Pericles himself is set
down at considerable length, and a memorable discourse it is. It
strikingly brings into relief both the character of the man and the
impress of actual circumstances--an impregnable mind conscious not only
of right purposes, but of just and reasonable anticipations, and bearing
up with manliness, or even defiance, against the natural difficulty of
the case, heightened by an extreme of incalculable misfortune. He had
foreseen, while advising the war originally, the probable impatience of
his countrymen under its first hardships, but he could not foresee the
epidemic by which that impatience had been exasperated into madness: and
he now addressed them not merely with unabated adherence to his own
deliberate convictions, but also in a tone of reproachful remonstrance
against their unmerited change of sentiment toward him--seeking at the
same time to combat that uncontrolled despair which for the moment
overlaid both their pride and their patriotism. Far from humbling
himself before the present sentiment, it is at this time that he sets
forth his titles to their esteem in the most direct and unqualified
manner, and claims the continuance of that which they had so long
accorded, as something belonging to him by acquired right.

His main object, through this discourse, is to fill the minds of his
audience with patriotic sympathy for the weal of the entire city, so as
to counterbalance the absorbing sense of private woe. If the collective
city flourishes, he argues, private misfortunes may at least be borne;
but no amount of private prosperity will avail if the collective city
falls--a proposition literally true in ancient times and under the
circumstances of ancient warfare, though less true at present.
"Distracted by domestic calamity, ye are now angry both with me who
advised you to go to war, and with yourselves who followed the advice.
Ye listened to me, considering me superior to others in judgment, in
speech, in patriotism, and in incorruptible probity--nor ought I now to
be treated as culpable for giving such advice, when in point of fact the
war was unavoidable and there would have been still greater danger in
shrinking from it. I am the same man, still unchanged--but ye in your
misfortunes cannot stand to the convictions which ye adopted when yet
unhurt. Extreme and unforeseen, indeed, are the sorrows which have
fallen upon you: yet inhabiting as ye do a great city, and brought up in
dispositions suitable to it, ye must also resolve to bear up against the
utmost pressure of adversity, and never to surrender your dignity. I
have often explained to you that ye have no reason to doubt of eventual
success in the war, but I will now remind you, more emphatically than
before, and even with a degree of ostentation suitable as a stimulus to
your present unnatural depression, that your naval force makes you
masters not only of your allies, but of the entire sea--one-half of the
visible field for action and employment. Compared with so vast a power
as this, the temporary use of your houses and territory is a mere
trifle, an ornamental accessory not worth considering: and this too, if
ye preserve your freedom, ye will quickly recover. It was your fathers
who first gained this empire, without any of the advantages which ye now
enjoy; ye must not disgrace yourselves by losing what they acquired.

"Delighting as ye all do in the honor and empire enjoyed by the city, ye
must not shrink from the toils whereby alone that honor is sustained:
moreover, ye now fight, not merely for freedom instead of slavery, but
for empire against loss of empire, with all the perils arising out of
imperial unpopularity. It is not safe for you now to abdicate, even if
ye chose to do so; for ye hold your empire like a despotism--unjust
perhaps in the original acquisition, but ruinous to part with when once
acquired. Be not angry with me, whose advice ye followed in going to
war, because the enemy have done such damage as might be expected from
them: still less on account of this unforeseen distemper: I know that
this makes me an object of your special present hatred, though very
unjustly, unless ye will consent to give me credit also for any
unexpected good-luck which may occur. Our city derives its particular
glory from unshaken bearing up against misfortune: her power, her name,
her empire of Greeks over Greeks, are such as have never before been
seen; and if we choose to be great, we must take the consequence of that
temporary envy and hatred which is the necessary price of permanent
renown. Behave ye now in a manner worthy of that glory: display that
courage which is essential to protect you against disgrace at present,
as well as to guarantee your honor for the future. Send no further
embassy to Sparta, and bear your misfortunes without showing symptoms of

The irresistible reason, as well as the proud and resolute bearing of
this discourse, set forth with an eloquence which it was not possible
for Thucydides to reproduce--together with the age and character of
Pericles--carried the assent of the assembled people, who when in the
Pnyx, and engaged according to habit on public matters, would for a
moment forget their private sufferings in considerations of the safety
and grandeur of Athens. Possibly, indeed, those sufferings, though still
continuing, might become somewhat alleviated when the invaders quitted
Attica, and when it was no longer indispensable for all the population
to confine itself within the walls. Accordingly, the assembly resolved
that no further propositions should be made for peace, and that the war
should be prosecuted with vigor.

But though the public resolution thus adopted showed the ancient habit
of deference to the authority of Pericles, the sentiments of individuals
taken separately were still those of anger against him as the author of
that system which had brought them into so much distress. His political
opponents--Cleon, Simmias, or Lacratidas, perhaps all three in
conjunction--took care to provide an opportunity for this prevalent
irritation to manifest itself in act, by bringing an accusation against
him before the _dicastery_. The accusation is said to have been
preferred on the ground of pecuniary malversation, and ended by his
being sentenced to pay a considerable fine, the amount of which is
differently reported--fifteen, fifty, or eighty talents, by different
authors. The accusing party thus appeared to have carried their point,
and to have disgraced, as well as excluded from reelection, the veteran
statesman. The event, however, disappointed their expectations. The
imposition of the fine not only satiated all the irritation of the
people against him, but even occasioned a serious reaction in his favor,
and brought back as strongly as ever the ancient sentiment of esteem and
admiration. It was quickly found that those who had succeeded Pericles
as generals neither possessed nor deserved in an equal degree the public
confidence. He was accordingly soon reelected, with as much power and
influence as he had ever in his life enjoyed.

But that life, long, honorable, and useful, had already been prolonged
considerably beyond the sixtieth year, and there were but too many
circumstances, besides the recent fine, which tended to hasten as well
as to embitter its close. At the very moment when Pericles was preaching
to his countrymen, in a tone almost reproachful, the necessity of manful
and unabated devotion to the common country in the midst of private
suffering, he was himself among the greatest of sufferers, and most
hardly pressed to set the example of observing his own precepts. The
epidemic carried off not merely his two sons--the only two legitimate,
Xanthippus and Paralus--but also his sister, several other relatives,
and his best and most useful political friends. Amid this train of
domestic calamities, and in the funeral obsequies of so many of his
dearest friends, he remained master of his grief, and maintained his
habitual self-command, until the last misfortune--the death of his
favorite son Paralus, which left his house without any legitimate
representative to maintain the family and the hereditary sacred rites.
On this final blow, though he strove to command himself as before, yet
at the obsequies of the young man, when it became his duty to place a
wreath on the dead body, his grief became uncontrollable, and he burst
out, for the first time in his life, into profuse tears and sobbing.

In the midst of these several personal trials he received the
intimation, through Alcibiades and some other friends, of the restored
confidence of the people toward him, and of his reelection to the office
of strategus. But it was not without difficulty that he was persuaded to
present himself again at the public assembly and resume the direction of
affairs. The regret of the people was formally expressed to him for the
recent sentence--perhaps, indeed, the fine may have been repaid to him,
or some evasion of it permitted, saving the forms of law--in the present
temper of the city; which was further displayed toward him by the grant
of a remarkable exemption from a law of his own original proposition.

He had himself, some years before, been the author of that law whereby
the citizenship of Athens was restricted to persons born both of
Athenian fathers and Athenian mothers, under which restriction several
thousand persons, illegitimate on the mother's side, are said to have
been deprived of the citizenship, on occasion of a public distribution
of corn. Invidious as it appeared to grant, to Pericles singly, an
exemption from a law which had been strictly enforced against so many
others, the people were now moved not less by compassion than by anxiety
to redress their own previous severity. Without a legitimate heir, the
house of Pericles, one branch of the great Alcmaeonid gens by his
mother's side, would be left deserted, and the continuity of the family
sacred rites would be broken--a misfortune painfully felt by every
Athenian family, as calculated to wrong all the deceased members, and
provoke their posthumous displeasure toward the city. Accordingly,
permission was granted to Pericles to legitimize, and to inscribe in his
own gens and phratry, his natural son by Aspasia, who bore his own name.

It was thus that Pericles was reinstated in his post of strategus as
well as in his ascendency over the public counsels--seemingly about
August or September, B.C. 430. He lived about one year longer, and seems
to have maintained his influence as long as his health permitted. Yet we
hear nothing of him after this moment, and he fell a victim, not to the
violent symptoms of the epidemic, but to a slow and wearing fever, which
undermined his strength as well as his capacity. To a friend who came to
ask after him when in this disease, Pericles replied by showing a charm
or amulet which his female relations had hung about his neck--a proof
how low he was reduced, and how completely he had become a passive
subject in the hands of others.

And according to another anecdote which we read--yet more interesting
and equally illustrative of his character--it was during his last
moments, when he was lying apparently unconscious and insensible, that
the friends around his bed were passing in review the acts of his life,
and the nine trophies which he had erected at different times for so
many victories. He heard what they said, though they fancied that he was
past hearing, and interrupted them by remarking: "What you praise in my
life belongs partly to good fortune--and is, at best, common to me with
many other generals. But the peculiarity of which I am most proud, you
have not noticed--no Athenian has ever put on mourning through any
action of mine."


B.C. 413


(That great writer of the history of the Romans, Thomas Arnold, says of
the defeat of the Athenian fleet at Syracuse: "The Romans knew not, and
could not know, how deeply the greatness of their own posterity, and the
fate of the whole western world, were involved in the destruction of the
fleet of Athens in the harbor of Syracuse. Had that great expedition
proved victorious, the energies of Greece during the next eventful
century would have found their field in the West no less than in the
East; Greece, and not Rome; might have conquered Carthage; Greek instead
of Latin might have been at this day the principal element of the
language of Spain, of France, and of Italy; and the laws of Athens,
rather than of Rome, might be the foundation of the law of the civilized

The foregoing, the author's own selection, really sums up all that need
be said as to the importance of the great event so finely treated by

Few cities have undergone more memorable sieges during ancient and
mediaeval times than has the city of Syracuse. Athenian, Carthaginian,
Roman, Vandal, Byzantine, Saracen, and Norman have in turns beleaguered
her walls; and the resistance which she successfully opposed to some of
her early assailants was of the deepest importance, not only to the
fortunes of the generations then in being, but to all the subsequent
current of human events. To adopt the eloquent expressions of Arnold
respecting the check which she gave to the Carthaginian arms, "Syracuse
was a breakwater which God's providence raised up to protect the yet
immature strength of Rome." And her triumphant repulse of the great
Athenian expedition against her was of even more widespread and enduring
importance. It forms a decisive epoch in the strife for universal
empire, in which all the great states of antiquity successively engaged
and failed.

The present city of Syracuse is a place of little or no military
strength, as the fire of artillery from the neighboring heights would
almost completely command it. But in ancient warfare its position, and
the care bestowed on its walls, rendered it formidably strong against
the means of offence which were then employed by besieging armies.

The ancient city, in its most prosperous times, was chiefly built on the
knob of land which projects into the sea on the eastern coast of Sicily,
between two bays; one of which, to the north, was called the Bay of
Thapsus, while the southern one formed the great harbor of the city of
Syracuse itself. A small island, or peninsula (for such it soon was
rendered), lies at the southeastern extremity of this knob of land,
stretching almost entirely across the mouth of the great harbor, and
rendering it nearly land-locked. This island comprised the original
settlement of the first Greek colonists from Corinth, who founded
Syracuse two thousand five hundred years ago; and the modern city has
shrunk again into these primary limits. But, in the fifth century before
our era, the growing wealth and population of the Syracusans had led
them to occupy and include within their city walls portion after portion
of the mainland lying next to the little isle, so that at the time of
the Athenian expedition the seaward part of the land between the two
bays already spoken of was built over, and fortified from bay to bay,
and constituted the larger part of Syracuse.

The landward wall, therefore, of this district of the city traversed
this knob of land, which continues to slope upward from the sea, and
which, to the west of the old fortifications, that is, toward the
interior of Sicily, rises rapidly for a mile or two, but diminishes in
width, and finally terminates in a long narrow ridge, between which and
Mount Hybla a succession of chasms and uneven low ground extends. On
each flank of this ridge the descent is steep and precipitous from its
summits to the strips of level land that lie immediately below it, both
to the southwest and northwest.

The usual mode of assailing fortified towns in the time of the
Peloponnesian war was to build a double wall round them sufficiently
strong to check any sally of the garrison from within or any attack of a
relieving force from without. The interval within the two walls of the
circumvallation was roofed over, and formed barracks, in which the
besiegers posted themselves, and awaited the effects of want or
treachery among the besieged in producing a surrender; and in every
Greek city of those days, as in every Italian republic of the Middle
Ages, the rage of domestic sedition between aristocrats and democrats
ran high. Rancorous refugees swarmed in the camp of every invading
enemy; and every blockaded city was sure to contain within its walls a
body of intriguing malcontents, who were eager to purchase a party
triumph at the expense of a national disaster. Famine and faction were
the allies on whom besiegers relied. The generals of that time trusted
to the operation of these sure confederates as soon as they could
establish a complete blockade. They rarely ventured on the attempt to
storm any fortified post, for the military engines of antiquity were
feeble in breaching masonry before the improvements which the first
Dionysius effected in the mechanics of destruction; and the lives of
spearmen the boldest and most high-trained would, of course, have been
idly spent in charges against unshattered walls.

A city built close to the sea, like Syracuse, was impregnable save by
the combined operations of a superior hostile fleet and a superior
hostile army; and Syracuse, from her size, her population, and her
military and naval resources, not unnaturally thought herself secure
from finding in another Greek city a foe capable of sending a sufficient
armament to menace her with capture and subjection. But in the spring of
B.C. 414 the Athenian navy was mistress of her harbor and the adjacent
seas; an Athenian army had defeated her troops, and cooped them within
the town; and from bay to bay a blockading wall was being rapidly
carried across the strips of level ground and the high ridge outside the
city (then termed Epipolae), which, if completed, would have cut the
Syracusans off from all succor from the interior of Sicily, and have
left them at the mercy of the Athenian generals. The besiegers' works
were, indeed, unfinished; but every day the unfortified interval in
their lines grew narrower, and with it diminished all apparent hope of
safety for the beleaguered town.

Athens was now staking the flower of her forces, and the accumulated
fruits of seventy years of glory, on one bold throw for the dominion of
the western world. As Napoleon from Mount Coeur de Lion pointed to St.
Jean d'Acre, and told his staff that the capture of that town would
decide his destiny and would change the face of the world, so the
Athenian officers, from the heights of Epipolae, must have looked on
Syracuse, and felt that with its fall all the known powers of the earth
would fall beneath them. They must have felt also that Athens, if
repulsed there, must pause forever from her career of conquest, and sink
from an imperial republic into a ruined and subservient community.

At Marathon, the first in date of the great battles of the world, we
beheld Athens struggling for self-preservation against the invading
armies of the East. At Syracuse she appears as the ambitious and
oppressive invader of others. In her, as in other republics of old and
of modern times, the same energy that had inspired the most heroic
efforts in defence of the national independence soon learned to employ
itself in daring and unscrupulous schemes of self-aggrandizement at the
expense of neighboring nations. In the interval between the Persian and
the Peloponnesian wars she had rapidly grown into a conquering and
dominant state, the chief of a thousand tributary cities, and the
mistress of the largest and best-manned navy that the Mediterranean had
yet beheld. The occupations of her territory by Xerxes and Mardonius, in
the second Persian war, had forced her whole population to become
marines; and the glorious results of that struggle confirmed them in
their zeal for their country's service at sea.

The voluntary suffrage of the Greek cities of the coasts and islands of
the Aegean first placed Athens at the head of the confederation formed
for the further prosecution of the war against Persia. But this titular
ascendency was soon converted by her into practical and arbitrary
dominion. She protected them from piracy and the Persian power, which
soon fell into decrepitude and decay, but she exacted in return implicit
obedience to herself. She claimed and enforced a prerogative of taxing
them at her discretion, and proudly refused to be accountable for her
mode of expending their supplies. Remonstrance against her assessments
was treated as factious disloyalty, and refusal to pay was promptly
punished as revolt. Permitting and encouraging her subject allies to
furnish all their contingents in money, instead of part consisting of
ships and men, the sovereign republic gained the double object of
training her own citizens by constant and well-paid service in her
fleets, and of seeing her confederates lose their skill and discipline
by inaction, and become more and more passive and powerless under her
yoke. Their towns were generally dismantled, while the imperial city
herself was fortified with the greatest care and sumptuousness; the
accumulated revenues from her tributaries serving to strengthen and
adorn to the utmost her havens, her docks, her arsenals, her theatres,
and her shrines, and to array her in that plenitude of architectural
magnificence the ruins of which still attest the intellectual grandeur
of the age and people which produced a Pericles to plan and a Phidias to

All republics that acquire supremacy over other nations rule them
selfishly and oppressively. There is no exception to this in either
ancient or modern times. Carthage, Rome, Venice, Genoa, Florence, Pisa,
Holland, and republican France, all tyrannized over every province and
subject state where they gained authority. But none of them openly
avowed their system of doing so upon principle with the candor which the
Athenian republicans displayed when any remonstrance was made against
the severe exactions which they imposed upon their vassal allies. They
avowed that their empire was a tyranny, and frankly stated that they
solely trusted to force and terror to uphold it. They appealed to what
they called "the eternal law of nature, that the weak should be coerced
by the strong." Sometimes they stated, and not without some truth, that
the unjust hatred of Sparta against themselves forced them to be unjust
to others in self-defence. To be safe, they must be powerful; and to be
powerful, they must plunder and coerce their neighbors. They never
dreamed of communicating any franchise, or share in office, to their
dependants, but jealously monopolized every post of command and all
political and judicial power; exposing themselves to every risk with
unflinching gallantry; embarking readily in every ambitious scheme; and
never suffering difficulty or disaster to shake their tenacity of
purpose: in the hope of acquiring unbounded empire for their country,
and the means of maintaining each of the thirty thousand citizens who
made up the sovereign republic, in exclusive devotion to military
occupations, and to those brilliant sciences and arts in which Athens
already had reached the meridian of intellectual splendor.

Her great political dramatist speaks of the Athenian empire as
comprehending a thousand states. The language of the stage must not be
taken too literally; but the number of the dependencies of Athens, at
the time when the Peloponnesian confederacy attacked her, was
undoubtedly very great. With a few trifling exceptions, all the islands
of the Aegean, and all the Greek cities which in that age fringed the
coasts of Asia Minor, the Hellespont, and Thrace, paid tribute to
Athens, and implicitly obeyed her orders. The Aegean Sea was an Attic
lake. Westward of Greece, her influence, though strong, was not equally
predominant. She had colonies and allies among the wealthy and populous
Greek settlements in Sicily and South Italy, but she had no organized
system of confederates in those regions; and her galleys brought her no
tribute from the Western seas. The extension of her empire over Sicily
was the favorite project of her ambitious orators and generals. While
her great statesman, Pericles, lived, his commanding genius kept his
countrymen under control, and forbade them to risk the fortunes of
Athens in distant enterprises, while they had unsubdued and powerful
enemies at their own doors. He taught Athens this maxim; but he also
taught her to know and to use her own strength; and when Pericles had
departed, the bold spirit which he had fostered overleaped the salutary
limits which he had prescribed.

When her bitter enemies, the Corinthians, succeeded, B.C. 431, in
inducing Sparta to attack her, and a confederacy was formed of
five-sixths of the continental Greeks, all animated by anxious jealousy
and bitter hatred of Athens; when armies far superior in numbers and
equipment to those which had marched against the Persians were poured
into the Athenian territory, and laid it waste to the city walls, the
general opinion was that Athens would be reduced, in two or three years
at the furthest, to submit to the requisitions of her invaders. But her
strong fortifications, by which she was girt and linked to her principal
haven, gave her, in those ages, almost all the advantages of an insular
position. Pericles had made her trust to her empire of the seas. Every
Athenian in those days was a practised seaman. A state, indeed, whose
members, of an age fit for service, at no time exceeded thirty thousand,
could only have acquired such a naval dominion as Athens once held by
devoting and zealously training all its sons to service in its fleets.
In order to man the numerous galleys which she sent out, she necessarily
employed large numbers of hired mariners and slaves at the oar; but the
staple of her crews was Athenian, and all posts of command were held by
native citizens. It was by reminding them of this, of their long
practice in seamanship, and the certain superiority which their
discipline gave them over the enemy's marine, that their great minister
mainly encouraged them to resist the combined power of Lacedaemon and
her allies. He taught them that Athens might thus reap the fruit of her
zealous devotion to maritime affairs ever since the invasion of the
Medes; "she had not, indeed, perfected herself; but the reward of her
superior training was the rule of the sea--a mighty dominion, for it
gave her the rule of much fair land beyond its waves, safe from the idle
ravages with which the Lacedaemonians might harass Attica, but never
could subdue Athens."

Athens accepted the war with which her enemies threatened her rather
than descend from her pride of place; and though the awful visitation of
the plague came upon her, and swept away more of her citizens than the
Dorian spear laid low, she held her own gallantly against her enemies.
If the Peloponnesian armies in irresistible strength wasted every spring
her corn-lands, her vineyards, and her olive groves with fire and sword,
she retaliated on their coasts with her fleets; which, if resisted, were
only resisted to display the preeminent skill and bravery of her seamen.
Some of her subject allies revolted, but the revolts were in general
sternly and promptly quelled. The genius of one enemy had indeed
inflicted blows on her power in Thrace which she was unable to remedy;
but he fell in battle in the tenth year of the war, and with the loss of
Brasidas the Lacedaemonians seemed to have lost all energy and judgment.
Both sides at length grew weary of the war, and in 421 a truce for fifty
years was concluded, which, though ill kept, and though many of the
confederates of Sparta refused to recognize it, and hostilities still
continued in many parts of Greece, protected the Athenian territory from
the ravages of enemies, and enabled Athens to accumulate large sums out
of the proceeds of her annual revenues. So also, as a few years passed
by, the havoc which the pestilence and the sword had made in her
population was repaired; and in 415 Athens was full of bold and restless
spirits, who longed for some field of distant enterprise wherein they
might signalize themselves and aggrandize the state, and who looked on
the alarm of Spartan hostility as a mere old-woman's tale. When Sparta
had wasted their territory she had done her worst; and the fact of its
always being in her power to do so seemed a strong reason for seeking to
increase the transmarine dominion of Athens.

The West was now the quarter toward which the thoughts of every aspiring
Athenian were directed. From the very beginning of the war Athens had
kept up an interest in Sicily, and her squadron had, from time to time,
appeared on its coasts and taken part in the dissensions in which the
Sicilian Greeks were universally engaged one against the other. There
were plausible grounds for a direct quarrel, and an open attack by the
Athenians upon Syracuse.

With the capture of Syracuse, all Sicily, it was hoped, would be
secured. Carthage and Italy were next to be attacked. With large levies
of Iberian mercenaries she then meant to overwhelm her Peloponnesian
enemies. The Persian monarchy lay in hopeless imbecility, inviting Greek
invasion; nor did the known world contain the power that seemed capable
of checking the growing might of Athens, if Syracuse once should be

The national historian of Rome has left us an episode of his great work,
a disquisition on the probable effects that would have followed if
Alexander the Great had invaded Italy. Posterity has generally regarded
that disquisition as proving Livy's patriotism more strongly than his
impartiality or acuteness. Yet, right or wrong, the speculations of the
Roman writer were directed to the consideration of a very remote
possibility. To whatever age Alexander's life might have been prolonged,
the East would have furnished full occupation for his martial ambition,
as well as for those schemes of commercial grandeur and imperial
amalgamation of nations in which the truly great qualities of his mind
loved to display themselves. With his death the dismemberment of his
empire among his generals was certain, even as the dismemberment of
Napoleon's empire among his marshals would certainly have ensued if he
had been cut off in the zenith of his power. Rome, also, was far weaker
when the Athenians were in Sicily than she was a century afterward in
Alexander's time. There can be little doubt but that Rome would have
been blotted out from the independent powers of the West, had she been
attacked at the end of the fifth century B.C. by an Athenian army,
largely aided by Spanish mercenaries, and flushed with triumphs over
Sicily and Africa, instead of the collision between her and Greece
having been deferred until the latter had sunk into decrepitude, and the
Roman Mars had grown into full vigor.

The armament which the Athenians equipped against Syracuse was in every
way worthy of the state which formed such projects of universal empire,
and it has been truly termed "the noblest that ever yet had been sent
forth by a free and civilized commonwealth." The fleet consisted of one
hundred and thirty-four war-galleys, with a multitude of storeships. A
powerful force of the best heavy-armed infantry that Athens and her
allies could furnish was sent on board it, together with a smaller
number of slingers and bowmen. The quality of the forces was even more
remarkable than the number. The zeal of individuals vied with that of
the republic in giving every galley the best possible crew and every
troop the most perfect accoutrements. And with private as well as public
wealth eagerly lavished on all that could give splendor as well as
efficiency to the expedition, the fated fleet began its voyage for the
Sicilian shores in the summer of 415.

The Syracusans themselves, at the time of the Peloponnesian war, were a
bold and turbulent democracy, tyrannizing over the weaker Greek cities
in Sicily, and trying to gain in that island the same arbitrary
supremacy which Athens maintained along the eastern coast of the
Mediterranean. In numbers and in spirit they were fully equal to the
Athenians, but far inferior to them in military and naval discipline.
When the probability of an Athenian invasion was first publicly
discussed at Syracuse, and efforts were made by some of the wiser
citizens to improve the state of the national defences and prepare for
the impending danger, the rumors of coming war and the proposal for
preparation were received by the mass of the Syracusans with scornful
incredulity. The speech of one of their popular orators is preserved to
us in Thucydides.

The Syracusan orator told his countrymen to dismiss with scorn the
visionary terrors which a set of designing men among themselves strove
to excite, in order to get power and influence thrown into their own
hands. He told them that Athens knew her own interest too well to think
of wantonly provoking their hostility: "Even if the enemies were to
come," said he, "so distant from their resources, and opposed to such a
power as ours, their destruction would be easy and inevitable. Their
ships will have enough to do to get to our island at all, and to carry
such stores of all sorts as will be needed. They cannot therefore carry,
besides, an army large enough to cope with such a population as ours.
They will have no fortified place from which to commence their
operations, but must rest them on no better base than a set of wretched
tents, and such means as the necessities of the moment will allow them.
But, in truth, I do not believe that they would even be able to effect a
disembarkation. Let us, therefore, set at naught these reports as
altogether of home manufacture; and be sure that if any enemy does come,
the state will know how to defend itself in a manner worthy of the
national honor."

Such assertions pleased the Syracusan assembly; but the invaders of
Syracuse came, made good their landing in Sicily; and if they had
promptly attacked the city itself, instead of wasting nearly a year in
desultory operations in other parts of Sicily, the Syracusans must have
paid the penalty of their self-sufficient carelessness in submission to
the Athenian yoke. But, of the three generals who led the Athenian
expedition, two only were men of ability, and one was most weak and
incompetent. Fortunately for Syracuse, Alcibiades, the most skilful of
the three, was soon deposed from his command by a factious and fanatic
vote of his fellow-countrymen, and the other competent one, Lamachus,
fell early in a skirmish; while, more fortunately still for her, the
feeble and vacillating Nicias remained unrecalled and unhurt, to assume
the undivided leadership of the Athenian army and fleet, and to mar, by
alternate over-caution and over-carelessness, every chance of success
which the early part of the operations offered. Still, even under him,
the Athenians nearly won the town. They defeated the raw levies of the
Syracusans, cooped them within the walls, and, as before mentioned,
almost effected a continuous fortification from bay to bay over
Epipolae, the completion of which would certainly have been followed by
a capitulation.

Alcibiades--the most complete example of genius without principle that
history produces; the Bolingbroke of antiquity, but with high military
talents superadded to diplomatic and oratorical powers--on being
summoned home from his command in Sicily to take his trial before the
Athenian tribunal, had escaped to Sparta, and had exerted himself there
with all the selfish rancor of a renegade to renew the war with Athens
and to send instant assistance to Syracuse.

When we read his words in the pages of Thucydides--who was himself an
exile from Athens at this period, and may probably have been at Sparta,
and heard Alcibiades speak--we are at a loss whether most to admire or
abhor his subtle counsels. After an artful exordium, in which he tried
to disarm the suspicions which he felt must be entertained of him, and
to point out to the Spartans how completely his interests and theirs
were identified, through hatred of the Athenian democracy, he thus

"Hear me, at any rate, on the matters which require your grave
attention, and which I, from the personal knowledge that I have of them,
can and ought to bring before you. We Athenians sailed to Sicily with
the design of subduing, first the Greek cities there, and next those in
Italy. Then we intended to make an attempt on the dominions of Carthage,
and on Carthage itself.[24] If all these projects succeeded--nor did we
limit ourselves to them in these quarters--we intended to increase our
fleet with the inexhaustible supplies of ship timber which Italy
affords, to put in requisition the whole military force of the conquered
Greek states, and also to hire large armies of the barbarians, of the
Iberians,[25] and others in those regions, who are allowed to make the
best possible soldiers. _Then_, when we had done all this, we intended
to assail Peloponnesus with our collected force. Our fleets would
blockade you by sea and desolate your coasts, our armies would be landed
at different points and assail your cities. Some of these we expected to
storm,[26] and others we meant to take by surrounding them with
fortified lines. We thought that it would thus be an easy matter
thoroughly to war you down; and then we should become the masters of the
whole Greek race. As for expense, we reckoned that each conquered state
would give us supplies of money and provisions sufficient to pay for its
own conquest, and furnish the means for the conquest of its neighbors."

[Footnote 24: Arnold, in his notes on this passage, well reminds the
reader that Agathocles, with a Greek force far inferior to that of the
Athenians at this period, did, some years afterward, very nearly conquer

[Footnote 25: It will be remembered that Spanish infantry were the
staple of the Carthaginian armies. Doubtless Alcibiades and other
leading Athenians had made themselves acquainted with the Carthaginian
system of carrying on war, and meant to adopt it. With the marvellous
powers which Alcibiades possessed of ingratiating himself with men of
every class and every nation, and his high military genius, he would
have been as formidable a chief of an army of _condottieri_ as Hannibal
afterward was.]

[Footnote 26: Alcibiades here alluded to Sparta itself, which was
unfortified. His Spartan hearers must have glanced round them at these
words with mixed alarm and indignation.]

"Such are the designs of the present Athenian expedition to Sicily, and
you have heard them from the lips of the man who, of all men living, is
most accurately acquainted with them. The other Athenian generals, who
remain with the expedition, will endeavor to carry out these plans. And
be sure that without your speedy interference they will all be
accomplished. The Sicilian Greeks are deficient in military training;
but still, if they could at once be brought to combine in an organized
resistance to Athens, they might even now be saved. But as for the
Syracusans resisting Athens by themselves, they have already, with the
whole strength of their population, fought a battle and been beaten;
they cannot face the Athenians at sea; and it is quite impossible for
them to hold out against the force of their invaders. And if this city
falls into the hands of the Athenians, all Sicily is theirs, and
presently Italy also; and the danger, which I warned you of from that
quarter, will soon fall upon yourselves. You must, therefore, in Sicily,
fight for the safety of Peloponnesus. Send some galleys thither
instantly. Put men on board who can work their own way over, and who, as
soon as they land, can do duty as regular troops. But, above all, let
one of yourselves, let a man of Sparta, go over to take the chief
command, to bring into order and effective discipline the forces that
are in Syracuse, and urge those who at present hang back to come forward
and aid the Syracusans. The presence of a Spartan general at this crisis
will do more to save the city than a whole army."

The renegade then proceeded to urge on them the necessity of encouraging
their friends in Sicily, by showing that they themselves were in earnest
in hostility to Athens. He exhorted them not only to march their armies
into Attica again, but to take up a permanent fortified position in the
country; and he gave them in detail information of all that the
Athenians most dreaded, and how his country might receive the most
distressing and enduring injury at their hands.

The Spartans resolved to act on his advice, and appointed Gylippus to
the Sicilian command. Gylippus was a man who, to the national bravery
and military skill of a Spartan united political sagacity that was
worthy of his great fellow-countryman Brasidas; but his merits were
debased by mean and sordid vices; and his is one of the cases in which
history has been austerely just, and where little or no fame has been
accorded to the successful but venal soldier. But for the purpose for
which he was required in Sicily, an abler man could not have been found
in Lacedaemon. His country gave him neither men nor money, but she gave
him her authority; and the influence of her name and of his own talents
was speedily seen in the zeal with which the Corinthians and other
Peloponnesian Greeks began to equip a squadron to act under him for the
rescue of Sicily. As soon as four galleys were ready, he hurried over
with them to the southern coast of Italy, and there, though he received
such evil tidings of the state of Syracuse that he abandoned all hope of
saving that city, he determined to remain on the coast, and do what he
could in preserving the Italian cities from the Athenians.

So nearly, indeed, had Nicias completed his beleaguering lines, and so
utterly desperate had the state of Syracuse seemingly become, that an
assembly of the Syracusans was actually convened, and they were
discussing the terms on which they should offer to capitulate, when a
galley was seen dashing into the great harbor, and making her way toward
the town with all the speed which her rowers could supply. From her
shunning the part of the harbor where the Athenian fleet lay, and making
straight for the Syracusan side, it was clear that she was a friend; the
enemy's cruisers, careless through confidence of success, made no
attempt to cut her off; she touched the beach, and a Corinthian captain,
springing on shore from her, was eagerly conducted to the assembly of
the Syracusan people just in time to prevent the fatal vote being put
for a surrender.

Providentially for Syracuse, Gongylus, the commander of the galley, had
been prevented by an Athenian squadron from following Gylippus to South
Italy, and he had been obliged to push direct for Syracuse from Greece.

The sight of actual succor, and the promise of more, revived the
drooping spirits of the Syracusans. They felt that they were not left
desolate to perish, and the tidings that a Spartan was coming to command
them confirmed their resolution to continue their resistance. Gylippus
was already near the city. He had learned at Locri that the first report
which had reached him of the state of Syracuse was exaggerated, and that
there was unfinished space in the besiegers' lines through which it was
barely possible to introduce reenforcements into the town. Crossing the
Straits of Messina, which the culpable negligence of Nicias had left
unguarded, Gylippus landed on the northern coast of Sicily, and there
began to collect from the Greek cities an army, of which the regular
troops that he brought from Peloponnesus formed the nucleus. Such was
the influence of the name of Sparta, and such were his own abilities and
activity, that he succeeded in raising a force of about two thousand
fully armed infantry, with a larger number of irregular troops. Nicias,
as if infatuated, made no attempt to counteract his operation, nor, when
Gylippus marched his little army toward Syracuse, did the Athenian
commander endeavor to check him. The Syracusans marched out to meet him;
and while the Athenians were solely intent on completing their
fortifications on the southern side toward the harbor, Gylippus turned
their position by occupying the high ground in the extreme rear of
Epipolae. He then marched through the unfortified interval of Nicias'
lines into the besieged town, and joining his troops with the Syracusan
forces, after some engagements with varying success, gained the mastery
over Nicias, drove the Athenians from Epipolae, and hemmed them into a
disadvantageous position in the low grounds near the great harbor.

The attention of all Greece was now fixed on Syracuse, and every enemy
of Athens felt the importance of the opportunity now offered of checking
her ambition, and, perhaps, of striking a deadly blow at her power.
Larger reinforcements from Corinth, Thebes, and other cities now reached
the Syracusans, while the baffled and dispirited Athenian general
earnestly besought his countrymen to recall him, and represented the
further prosecution of the siege as hopeless.

But Athens had made it a maxim never to let difficulty or disaster drive
her back from any enterprise once undertaken, so long as she possessed
the means of making any effort, however desperate, for its
accomplishment. With indomitable pertinacity, she now decreed, instead
of recalling her first armament from before Syracuse, to send out a
second, though her enemies near home had now renewed open warfare
against her, and by occupying a permanent fortification in her territory
had severely distressed her population, and were pressing her with
almost all the hardships of an actual siege. She still was mistress of
the sea, and she sent forth another fleet of seventy galleys, and
another army, which seemed to drain almost the last reserves of her
military population, to try if Syracuse could not yet be won, and the
honor of the Athenian arms be preserved from the stigma of a retreat.
Hers was, indeed, a spirit that might be broken, but never would bend.
At the head of this second expedition she wisely placed her best
general, Demosthenes, one of the most distinguished officers that the
long Peloponnesian war had produced, and who, if he had originally held
the Sicilian command, would soon have brought Syracuse to submission.

The fame of Demosthenes the general has been dimmed by the superior
lustre of his great countryman, Demosthenes the orator. When the name of
Demosthenes is mentioned, it is the latter alone that is thought of. The
soldier has found no biographer. Yet out of the long list of great men
whom the Athenian republic produced, there are few that deserve to stand
higher than this brave, though finally unsuccessful leader of her fleets
and armies in the first half of the Peloponnesian war. In his first
campaign in Aetolia he had shown some of the rashness of youth, and had
received a lesson of caution by which he profited throughout the rest of
his career, but without losing any of his natural energy in enterprise
or in execution. He had performed the distinguished service of rescuing
Naupactus from a powerful hostile armament in the seventh year of the
war; he had then, at the request of the Acarnanian republics, taken on
himself the office of commander-in-chief of all their forces, and at
their head he had gained some important advantages over the enemies of
Athens in Western Greece. His most celebrated exploits had been the
occupation of Pylos on the Messenian coast, the successful defence of
that place against the fleet and armies of Lacedaemon, and the
subsequent capture of the Spartan forces on the isle of Sphacteria,
which was the severest blow dealt to Sparta throughout the war, and
which had mainly caused her to humble herself to make the truce with

Demosthenes was as honorably unknown in the war of party politics at
Athens as he was eminent in the war against the foreign enemy. We read
of no intrigues of his on either the aristocratic or democratic side. He
was neither in the interest of Nicias nor of Cleon. His private
character was free from any of the stains which polluted that of
Alcibiades. On all these points the silence of the comic dramatist is
decisive evidence in his favor. He had also the moral courage, not
always combined with physical, of seeking to do his duty to his country,
irrespective of any odium that he himself might incur, and unhampered by
any petty jealousy of those who were associated with him in command.
There are few men named in ancient history of whom posterity would
gladly know more or whom we sympathize with more deeply in the
calamities that befell them than Demosthenes, the son of Alcisthenes,
who, in the spring of the year 413, left Piraeus at the head of the
second Athenian expedition against Sicily.

His arrival was critically timed; for Gylippus had encouraged the
Syracusans to attack the Athenians under Nicias by sea as well as by
land, and by one able stratagem of Ariston, one of the admirals of the
Corinthian auxiliary squadron, the Syracusans and their confederates had
inflicted on the fleet of Nicias the first defeat that the Athenian navy
had ever sustained from a numerically inferior enemy. Gylippus was
preparing to follow up his advantage by fresh attacks on the Athenians
on both elements, when the arrival of Demosthenes completely changed the
aspect of affairs and restored the superiority to the invaders. With
seventy-three war-galleys in the highest state of efficiency, and
brilliantly equipped, with a force of five thousand picked men of the
regular infantry of Athens and her allies, and a still larger number of
bowmen, javelin-men, and slingers on board, Demosthenes rowed round the
great harbor with loud cheers and martial music, as if in defiance of
the Syracusans and their confederates. His arrival had indeed changed
their newly born hopes into the deepest consternation.

The resources of Athens seemed inexhaustible, and resistance to her
hopeless. They had been told that she was reduced to the last
extremities, and that her territory was occupied by an enemy; and yet
here they saw her sending forth, as if in prodigality of power, a second
armament, to make foreign conquests, not inferior to that with which
Nicias had first landed on the Sicilian shores.

With the intuitive decision of a great commander, Demosthenes at once
saw that the possession of Epipolae was the key to the possession of
Syracuse, and he resolved to make a prompt and vigorous attempt to
recover that position while his force was unimpaired and the
consternation which its arrival had produced among the besieged remained
unabated. The Syracusans and their allies had run out an outwork along
Epipolae from the city walls, intersecting the fortified lines of
circumvallation which Nicias had commenced, but from which he had been
driven by Gylippus. Could Demosthenes succeed in storming this outwork,
and in reestablishing the Athenian troops on the high ground, he might
fairly hope to be able to resume the circumvallation of the city and
become the conqueror of Syracuse; for when once the besiegers' lines
were completed, the number of the troops with which Gylippus had
garrisoned the place would only tend to exhaust the stores of provisions
and accelerate its downfall.

An easily repelled attack was first made on the outwork in the daytime,
probably more with the view of blinding the besieged to the nature of
the main operations than with any expectation of succeeding in an open
assault, with every disadvantage of the ground to contend against. But,
when the darkness had set in, Demosthenes formed his men in columns,
each soldier taking with him five days' provisions, and the engineers
and workmen of the camp following the troops with their tools and all
portable implements of fortification, so as at once to secure any
advantage of ground that the army might gain. Thus equipped and
prepared, he led his men along by the foot of the southern flank of
Epipolae, in a direction toward the interior of the island, till he came
immediately below the narrow ridge that forms the extremity of the high
ground looking westward. He then wheeled his vanguard to the right, sent
them rapidly up the paths that wind along the face of the cliff, and
succeeded in completely surprising the Syracusan outposts, and in
placing his troops fairly on the extreme summit of the all-important
Epipolae. Thence the Athenians marched eagerly down the slope toward the
town, routing some Syracusan detachments that were quartered in their
way, and vigorously assailing the unprotected side of the outwork.

All at first favored them. The outwork was abandoned by its garrison,
and the Athenian engineers began to dismantle it. In vain Gylippus
brought up fresh troops to check the assault; the Athenians broke and
drove them back, and continued to press hotly forward, in the full
confidence of victory. But, amid the general consternation of the
Syracusans and their confederates, one body of infantry stood firm. This
was a brigade of their Boeotian allies, which was posted low down the
slope of Epipolae, outside the city walls. Coolly and steadily the
Boeotian infantry formed their line, and, undismayed by the current of
flight around them, advanced against the advancing Athenians. This was
the crisis of the battle. But the Athenian van was disorganized by its
own previous successes; and, yielding to the unexpected charge thus made
on it by troops in perfect order, and of the most obstinate courage, it
was driven back in confusion upon the other divisions of the army that
still continued to press forward. When once the tide was thus turned,
the Syracusans passed rapidly from the extreme of panic to the extreme
of vengeful daring, and with all their forces they now fiercely assailed
the embarrassed and receding Athenians. In vain did the officers of the
latter strive to reform their line. Amid the din and the shouting of the
fight, and the confusion inseparable upon a night engagement, especially
one where many thousand combatants were pent and whirled together in a
narrow and uneven area, the necessary manoeuvres were impracticable; and
though many companies still fought on desperately, wherever the
moonlight showed them the semblance of a foe, they fought without
concert or subordination; and not infrequently, amid the deadly chaos,
Athenian troops assailed each other. Keeping their ranks close, the
Syracusans and their allies pressed on against the disorganized masses
of the besiegers, and at length drove them, with heavy slaughter, over
the cliffs, which an hour or two before they had scaled full of hope and
apparently certain of success.

This defeat was decisive of the event of the siege. The Athenians
afterward struggled only to protect themselves from the vengeance which
the Syracusans sought to wreak in the complete destruction of their
invaders. Never, however, was vengeance more complete and terrible. A
series of sea-fights followed, in which the Athenian galleys were
utterly destroyed or captured. The mariners and soldiers who escaped
death in disastrous engagements, and a vain attempt to force a retreat
into the interior of the island, became prisoners of war. Nicias and
Demosthenes were put to death in cold blood, and their men either
perished miserably in the Syracusan dungeons or were sold into slavery
to the very persons whom, in their pride of power, they had crossed the
seas to enslave.

All danger from Athens to the independent nations of the West was now
forever at an end. She, indeed, continued to struggle against her
combined enemies and revolted allies with unparalleled gallantry, and
many more years of varying warfare passed away before she surrendered to
their arms. But no success in subsequent contests could ever have
restored her to the preeminence in enterprise, resources, and maritime
skill which she had acquired before her fatal reverses in Sicily. Nor
among the rival Greek republics, whom her own rashness aided to crush
her, was there any capable of reorganizing her empire, or resuming her
schemes of conquest. The dominion of Western Europe was left for Rome
and Carthage to dispute two centuries later, in conflicts still more
terrible, and with even higher displays of military daring and genius
than Athens had witnessed either in her rise, her meridian, or her fall.


B.C. 401-399


(The expedition of the Greeks, generally known as the "Retreat of the
Ten Thousand," was conducted by Xenophon, a Greek historian, essayist,
and military commander. Xenophon was a pupil of Socrates, of whom he
left a famous memoir. In B.C. 401 he accepted the invitation of his
friend Proxenus of Boeotia, a general of Greek mercenaries, to take
service under Cyrus the Younger, brother of Artaxerxes Mnemon, king of

Cyrus had considered himself as deeply wronged by his elder brother, who
had thrown him into prison on the death of their father, Darius.
Escaping from prison, he formed a design to wrest the throne from
Artaxerxes. For this purpose he engaged the forces of Proxenus, and to
this army Xenophon attached himself. The rendezvous was Sardis, from
which the army marched east under the pretext of chastising the
revolting mountaineers of Pisidia. Instead of attacking the Pisidians,
the followers of Cyrus proceeded east through Asia and Babylonia till
they met the forces of Artaxerxes at Cunaxa. A furious battle took
place, and the rout of the king's army had begun when Cyrus, elated with
the victory that seemed just within his grasp, challenged his brother to
single combat. In the duel that ensued Cyrus was slain. Proxenus had
already fallen, and the virtual command of the Greek army soon devolved
upon Xenophon, who thereupon began the famous retreat.

A vivid account of battles, and of hardships endured from the cold, in
the struggle through mountain snows, through almost impassable forests,
and across bridgeless rivers, is given in Xenophon's _Anabasis_, the
celebrated work, in seven books, which forms the classical narrative of
the campaign and the retreat. Soon after the death of Cyrus, in
September, B.C. 401, the seizure and murder of the leading Greek
generals by the treacherous Persian satrap, Tissaphernes, placed the
Greek army in great peril. Xenophon, who now took practical command,
counselled and exhorted the surviving leaders, and on the next day the
Greeks formed in a hollow square, the baggage in the centre, and began
their retreat, which led them along the Tigris to the territory of the
Carduchi [Kurds], through Armenia, and across Georgia, the enemy often
harassing them.

At the point where the climax of the story, which is presented here, may
be said to begin, the Greeks have entered Armenia, passed the sources of
the Tigris, and reached the Teleboas. Having made a treaty with
Tiribazus, governor of the province, and discovered his insincerity, and
that he was ready to attack them in their passage over the mountains,
they resolved upon a quick resumption of their march.

When, in the fifth month of the retreat the Greeks at last from a
hilltop beheld the Euxine, they sent up a cry, "The sea! the sea!" which
has echoed through succeeding ages as one of the great historic
jubilations of humanity. At the end of the retreat their numbers were
reduced to about six thousand, and from the starting-point at Cunaxa to
the middle of the southern coast of the Black Sea they had travelled as
much as two thousand miles. From Ephesus to Cunaxa and thence to the
Black Sea region they had marched in fifteen months [February, B.C. 401,
to June, 400], and nine months more passed before they joined the
Spartan army in Asia Minor, and their task was fully accomplished. Their
great performance is regarded as having prepared the way for Alexander's
triumphant advances in the East. The young conqueror, on the eve of the
battle of Issus, declared that he owed inspiration to the feat of the
Ten Thousand.)

It was thought necessary to march away as fast as possible, before the
enemy's force should be reassembled, and get possession of the pass.

Collecting their baggage at once, therefore, they set forward through a
deep snow, taking with them several guides, and, having the same day
passed the height on which Tiribazus had intended to attack them, they
encamped. Hence they proceeded three days' journey through a desert
tract of country, a distance of fifteen _parasangs_, to the river
Euphrates, and passed it without being wet higher than the middle. The
sources of the river were said not to be far off. From hence they
advanced three days' march, through much snow and a level plain, a
distance of fifteen parasangs; the third day's march was extremely
troublesome, as the north wind blew full in their faces, completely
parching up everything and benumbing the men. One of the augurs, in
consequence, advised that they should sacrifice to the wind, and a
sacrifice was accordingly offered, when the vehemence of the wind
appeared to everyone manifestly to abate. The depth of the snow was a
fathom, so that many of the baggage cattle and slaves perished, with
about thirty of the soldiers.

They continued to burn fires through the whole night, for there was
plenty of wood at the place of encampment. But those who came up late
could get no wood; those, therefore, who had arrived before and had
kindled fires would not admit the late comers to the fire unless they
gave them a share of the corn or other provisions that they had brought.
Thus they shared with each other what they respectively had. In the
places where the fires were made, as the snow melted, there were formed
large pits that reached down to the ground, and here there was
accordingly opportunity to measure the depth of the snow.

From hence they marched through snow the whole of the following day, and
many of the men contracted the _bulimia_.[28] Xenophon, who commanded in
the rear, finding in his way such of the men as had fallen down with it,
knew not what disease it was. But as one of these acquainted with it
told him that they were evidently affected with bulimia, and that they
would get up if they had something to eat, he went round among the
baggage and wherever he saw anything eatable he gave it out, and sent
such as were able to run to distribute it among those diseased, who, as
soon as they had eaten, rose up and continued their march. As they
proceeded, Chirisophus came, just as it grew dark, to a village, and
found, at a spring in front of the rampart, some women and girls
belonging to the place fetching water. The women asked them who they
were, and the interpreter answered, in the Persian language, that they
were people going from the king to the satrap. They replied that he was
not there, but about a parasang off.

[Footnote 28: Spelman quotes a description of the bulimia from Galen, in
which it is said to be "a disease in which the patient frequently craves
for food, loses the use of his limbs, falls down, turns pale, feels his
extremities become cold, his stomach oppressed, and his pulse feeble."
Here, however, it seems to mean little more than a faintness from long

However, as it was late, they went with the water-carriers within the
rampart, to the head man of the village, and here Chirisophus and as
many of the troops as could come up encamped; but of the rest, such as
were unable to get to the end of the journey spent the night on the way
without food or fire, and some of the soldiers lost their lives on that
occasion. Some of the enemy too, who had collected themselves into a
body, pursued our rear, and seized any of the baggage-cattle that were
unable to proceed, fighting with one another for the possession of them.
Such of the soldiers also as had lost their sight from the effects of
the snow, or had their toes mortified by the cold, were left behind. It
was found to be a relief to the eyes against the snow, if the soldiers
kept something black before them on the march, and to the feet, if they
kept constantly in motion, and allowed themselves no rest, and if they
took off their shoes in the night. But as to such as slept with their
shoes on, the straps worked into their feet, and the soles were frozen
about them, for when their old shoes had failed them, shoes of raw hides
had been made by the men themselves from the newly skinned oxen.

From such unavoidable sufferings some of the soldiers were left behind,
who, seeing a piece of ground of a black appearance, from the snow
having disappeared there, conjectured that it must have melted, and it
had in fact melted in the spot from the effect of a fountain, which was
sending up vapor in a wooded hollow close at hand. Turning aside
thither, they sat down and refused to proceed farther. Xenophon, who was
with the rear-guard, as soon as he heard this tried to prevail on them
by every art and means not to be left behind, telling them, at the same
time, that the enemy were collected and pursuing them in great numbers.
At last he grew angry, and they told him to kill them, as they were
quite unable to go forward. He then thought it the best course to strike
a terror, if possible, into the enemy that were behind, lest they should
fall upon the exhausted soldiers. It was now dark, and the enemy were
advancing with a great noise, quarrelling about the booty that they had
taken, when such of the rear-guard as were not disabled started up and
rushed toward them, while the tired men, shouting as loud as they could,
clashed their spears against their shields. The enemy, struck with
alarm, threw themselves among the snow into the hollow, and no one of
them afterward made himself heard from any quarter.

Xenophon and those with him, telling the sick men that a party should
come to their relief next day, proceeded on their march, but before they
had gone four _stadia_ they found other soldiers resting by the way in
the snow, and covered up with it, no guard being stationed over them.
They roused them up, but they said that the head of the army was not
moving forward. Xenophon, going past them and sending on some of the
ablest of the _peltasts_, ordered them to ascertain what it was that
hindered their progress. They brought word that the whole army was in
that manner taking rest. Xenophon and his men, therefore, stationing
such a guard as they could, took up their quarters there without fire or
supper. When it was near day, he sent the youngest of his men to the
sick, telling them to rouse them and oblige them to proceed. At this
juncture Chirisophus sent some of his people from the village to see how
the rear were faring. The young men were rejoiced to see them, and gave
them the sick to conduct to the camp, while they themselves went
forward, and, before they had gone twenty stadia, found themselves at
the village in which Chirisophus was quartered. When they came together,
it was thought safe enough to lodge the troops up and down in the
village. Chirisophus accordingly remained where he was, and the other
officers, appropriating by lot the several villages that they had in
sight, went to their respective quarters with their men.

Here Polycrates, an Athenian captain, requested leave of absence, and
taking with him the most active of his men, and hastening to the village
to which Xenophon had been allotted, surprised all the villagers and
their head man in their houses, together with seventeen colts that were
bred as a tribute for the king, and the head man's daughter, who had
been but nine days married; her husband was gone out to hunt hares, and
was not found in any of the villages. Their houses were underground, the
entrance like the mouth of a well, but spacious below; there were
passages dug into them for the cattle, but the people descended by
ladders. In the houses were goats, sheep, cows, and fowls, with their
young; all the cattle were kept on fodder within the walls.[29] There
were also wheat, barley, leguminous vegetables, and barley wine[30] in
large bowls; the grains of barley floated in it even with the brim of
the vessels, and reeds also lay in it, some larger and some smaller,
without joints; and these, when any one was thirsty, he was to take in
his mouth and suck.[31] The liquor was very strong, unless one mixed
water with it, and a very pleasant drink to those accustomed to it.

[Footnote 29: This description of a village on the Armenian uplands
applies itself to many that I visited in the present day. The descent by
wells is now rare, but is still to be met with; but in exposed and
elevated situations the houses are uniformly semi-subterraneous and
entered by as small an aperture as possible, to prevent the cold getting
in. Whatever the kind of cottage used, cows, sheep, goats, and fowls
participate with the family in the warmth and protection thereof.]

[Footnote 30: Something like our ale.]

[Footnote 31: The reeds were used, says Krueger, that none of the grains
of barley might be taken into the mouth.]

Xenophon made the chief man of his village sup with him, and told him to
be of good courage, assuring him that he should not be deprived of his
children, and that they would not go away without filling his house with
provisions in return for what they took, if he would but prove himself
the author of some service to the army till they should reach another
tribe. This he promised, and, to show his good-will, pointed out where
some wine[32] was buried. This night, therefore, the soldiers rested in
their several quarters in the midst of great abundance, setting a guard
over the chief, and keeping his children at the same time under their
eye. The following day Xenophon took the head man and went with him to
Chirisophus, and wherever he passed by a village he turned aside to
visit those who were quartered in it, and found them in all parts
feasting and enjoying themselves; nor would they anywhere let them go
till they had set refreshments before them; and they placed everywhere
upon the same table lamb, kid, pork, veal, and fowl, with plenty of
bread, both of wheat and barley. Whenever any person, to pay a
compliment, wished to drink to another, he took him to the large bowl,
where he had to stoop down and drink, sucking like an ox. The chief they
allowed to take whatever he pleased, but he accepted nothing from them;
where he found any of his relatives, however, he took them with him.

[Footnote 32: Xenophon seems to mean _grape_ wine, rather than to refer
to the barley wine just before mentioned, of which the taste does not
appear to have been much liked by the Greeks. Wine from grapes was not
made, it is probable, in these parts, on account of the cold, but Strabo
speaks of the fruit wine of Armenia Minor as not inferior to any of the
Greek wines.--_Schneider_.]

When they came to Chirisophus, they found his men also feasting in their
quarters, crowned with wreaths made of hay, and Armenian boys, in their
barbarian dress, waiting upon them, to whom they made signs what they
were to do as if they had been deaf and dumb. When Chirisophus and
Xenophon had saluted one another, they both asked the chief man, through
the interpreter who spoke the Persian language, what country it was. He
replied that it was Armenia. They then asked him for whom the horses
were bred, and he said that they were a tribute for the king, and added
that the neighboring country was that of Chalybes, and told them in what
direction the road lay. Xenophon then went away, conducting the chief
back to his family, giving him the horse that he had taken, which was
rather old, to fatten and offer in sacrifice (for he had heard that it
had been consecrated to the sun), being afraid, indeed, that it might
die, as it had been injured by the journey. He then took some of the
young horses, and gave one of them to each of the other generals and
captains. The horses in this country were smaller than those of Persia,
but far more spirited. The chief instructed the men to tie little bags
round the feet of the horses and other cattle when they drove them
through the snow, for without such bags they sunk up to their bellies.

When the eighth day was come, Xenophon committed the guide to
Chirisophus. He left the chief[33] all the members of his family, except
his son, a youth just coming to mature age; him he gave in charge to
Episthenes of Amphipolis, in order that if the father should conduct
them properly he might return home with him. At the same time they
carried to his house as many provisions as they could, and then broke up
their camp and resumed their march. The chief conducted them through the
snow, walking at liberty. When he came to the end of the third day's
march, Chirisophus was angry at him for not guiding them to some
villages. He said that there was none in that part of the country.
Chirisophus then struck him, but did not confine him, and in consequence
he ran off in the night, leaving his son behind him. This affair, the
ill-treatment and neglect of the guide, was the only cause of dissension
between Chirisophus and Xenophon during the march. Episthenes conceived
an affection for the youth, and, taking him home, found him extremely
attached to him.

[Footnote 33: This is rather oddly expressed, for the guide and the
chief were the same person.]

After this occurrence they proceeded seven days' journey, five parasangs
each day, till they came to the river Phasis, the breadth of which is a
_plethrum_. Hence they advanced two days' journey, ten parasangs, when,
on the pass that led over the mountains into the plain, the Chalybes,
Taochi, and Phasians were drawn up to oppose their progress.
Chirisophus, seeing these enemies in possession of the height, came to a
halt, at the distance of about thirty stadia, that he might not approach
them while leading the army in a column. He accordingly ordered the
other officers to bring up their companies, that the whole force might
be formed in line.

When the rear-guard was come up, he called together the generals and
captains and spoke to them as follows: "The enemy, as you see, is in
possession of the pass over the mountains, and it is proper for us to
consider how we may encounter them to the best advantage. It is my
opinion, therefore, that we should direct the troops to get their dinner
and that we ourselves should hold a council, in the mean time, whether
it is advisable to cross the mountain to-day or to-morrow."

"It seems best to me," exclaimed Cleanor, "to march at once, as soon as
we have dined and resumed our arms, against the enemy; for if we waste
the present day in inaction the enemy, who are now looking down upon us,
will grow bolder, and it is likely that, as their confidence is
increased, others will join them in greater numbers."

After him Xenophon said: "I am of opinion that if it be necessary to
fight, we ought to make our arrangements so as to fight with the
greatest advantage; but that if we propose to pass the mountains as
easily as possible, we ought to consider how we may incur the fewest
wounds and lose the fewest men. The range of hills, as far as we see,
extends more than sixty stadia in length; but the people nowhere seem to
be watching us except along the line of road; and it is, therefore,
better, I think, to endeavor to try to seize unobserved some part of the
unguarded range, and to get possession of it, if we can, beforehand,
than to attack a strong post and men prepared to resist us, for it is
far less difficult to march up a steep ascent without fighting than
along a level road with enemies on each side; and in the night, if men
are not obliged to fight, they can see better what is before them than
by day if engaged with enemies; while a rough road is easier to the feet
to those who are marching without molestation than a smooth one to those
who are pelted on the head with missiles. Nor do I think it at all
impracticable for us to steal a way for ourselves, as we can march by
night, so as not to be seen, and can keep at such a distance from the
enemy as to allow no possibility of being heard. We seem likely, too, in
my opinion, if we make a pretended attack on this point, to find the
rest of the range still less guarded, for the enemy will so much the
more probably stay where they are. But why should I speak doubtfully
about stealing? For I hear that you Lacedaemonians, O Chirisophus, such
of you at least as are of the better class, practise stealing from your
boyhood, and it is not a disgrace, but an honor, to steal whatever the
law does not forbid; while, in order that you may steal with the utmost
dexterity, and strive to escape discovery, it is appointed by law that,
if you are caught stealing, you are scourged. It is now high time for
you, therefore, to give proof of your education, and to take care that
we may not receive many stripes."

"But I hear that you Athenians also," rejoined Chirisophus, "are very
clever at stealing the public money, though great danger threatens him
that steals it; and that your best men steal it most, if indeed your
best men are thought worthy to be your magistrates; so that it is time
for you likewise to give proof of your education."

"I am then ready," exclaimed Xenophon, "to march with the rear-guard, as
soon as we have supped, to take possession of the hills. I have guides
too, for our light-armed men captured some of the marauders following
us, by lying in ambush, and from them I learn that the mountains are not
impassable, but are grazed over by goats and oxen, so that if we once
gain possession of any part of the range, there will be tracks also for
our baggage cattle. I expect also that the enemy will no longer keep
their ground, when they see us upon a level with them on the heights,
for they will not now come down to be upon a level with us." Chirisophus
then said: "But why should you go, and leave the charge of the rear?
Rather send others, unless some volunteers present themselves." Upon
this Aristonymus of Methydria came forward with his heavy-armed men, and
Aristeas of Chios and Nichomachus of Oeta with their light-armed; and
they made an arrangement that as soon as they should reach the top they
should light a number of fires. Having settled these points, they went
to dinner; and after dinner Chirisophus led forward the whole army ten
stadia toward the enemy, that he might appear to be fully resolved to
march against them on that quarter.

When they had taken their supper, and night came on, those appointed for
the service went forward and got possession of the hills; the other
troops rested where they were. The enemy, when they saw the heights
occupied, kept watch and burned a number of fires all night. As soon as
it was day, Chirisophus, after having offered sacrifice, marched forward
along the road; while those who had gained the heights advanced by the
ridge. Most of the enemy, meanwhile, stayed at the pass, but a part went
to meet the troops coming along the heights. But before the main bodies
came together, those on the ridge closed with one another, and the
Greeks had the advantage, and put the enemy to flight. At the same time
the Grecian peltasts ran up from the plain to attack the enemy drawn up
to receive them, and Chirisophus followed at a quick pace with the
heavy-armed men. The enemy at the pass, however, when they saw those
above defeated, took to flight. Not many of them were killed, but a
great number of shields were taken, which the Greeks, by hacking them
with their swords, rendered useless. As soon as they had gained the
ascent, and had sacrificed and erected a trophy, they went down into the
plain before them, and arrived at a number of villages stored with
abundance of excellent provisions.

From hence they marched five days' journey, thirty parasangs, to the
country of the Taochi, where provisions began to fail them; for the
Taochi inhabited strong fastnesses, in which they had laid up all their
supplies. Having at length, however, arrived at one place which had no
city or houses attached to it, but in which men and women and a great
number of cattle were assembled, Chirisophus, as soon as he came before
it, made it the object of an attack; and when the first division that
assailed it began to be tired, another succeeded, and then another, for
it was not possible for them to surround it in a body, as there was a
river about it. When Xenophon came up with his rear-guard, peltasts, and
heavy-armed men, Chirisophus exclaimed: "You come seasonably, for we
must take this place, as there are no provisions for the army unless we
take it."

They then deliberated together, and Xenophon asking what hindered them
from taking the place, Chirisophus replied: "The only approach to it is
the one which you see; but when any of our men attempt to pass along it,
the enemy roll down stones over yonder impending rock, and whoever is
struck is treated as you behold;" and he pointed, at the same moment, to
some of the men who had had their legs and ribs broken. "But if they
expend all their stones," rejoined Xenophon, "is there anything else to
prevent us from advancing? For we see, in front of us, only a few men,
and but two or three of them armed. The space, too, through which we
have to pass under exposure to the stones is, as you see, only about a
hundred and fifty feet in length; and of this about a hundred feet is
covered with large pine trees in groups, against which, if the men place
themselves, what would they suffer either from the flying stones or the
rolling ones? The remaining part of the space is not above fifty feet,
over which, when the stones cease, we must pass at a running pace."

"But," said Chirisophus, "the instant we offer to go to the part covered
with trees, the stones fly in great numbers."

"That," cried Xenophon, "would be the very thing we want, for thus they
will exhaust their stones the sooner. Let us then advance, if we can, to
the point whence we shall have but a short way to run, and from which we
may, if we please, easily retreat."

Chirisophus and Xenophon, with Callimachus of Parrhasia, one of the
captains, who had that day the lead of all the other captains of the
rear-guard, then went forward, all the rest of the captains remaining
out of danger. Next, about seventy of the men advanced under the trees,
not in a body, but one by one, each sheltering himself as he could.
Agasias of Stymphalus, and Aristonymus of Methydria, who were also
captains of the rear-guard, with some others were at the same time
standing behind, without the trees, for it was not safe for more than
one company to stand under them. Callimachus then adopted the following
stratagem: he ran forward two or three paces from the tree under which
he was sheltered, and when the stones began to be hurled, hastily drew
back; and at each of his sallies more than ten cartloads of stones were

Agasias, observing what Callimachus was doing, and that the eyes of the
whole army were upon him, and fearing that he himself might not be the
first to enter the place, began to advance alone--neither calling to
Aristonymus who was next him, nor to Eurylochus of Lusia, both of whom
were his intimate friends, nor to any other person--and passed by all
the rest. Callimachus, seeing him rushing by, caught hold of the rim of
his shield, and at that moment Aristonymus of Methydria ran past them
both, and after him Eurylochus of Lusia, for all these sought
distinction for valor, and were rivals to one another; and thus, in
mutual emulation, they got possession of the place, for when they had
once rushed in, not a stone was hurled from above. But a dreadful
spectacle was then to be seen; for the women, flinging their children
over the precipice, threw themselves after them; and the men followed
their example. AEneas of Stymphalus, a captain, seeing one of them, who
had on a rich garment, running to throw himself over, caught hold of it
with intent to stop him. But the man dragged him forward, and they both
went rolling down the rocks together, and were killed. Thus very few
prisoners were taken, but a great number of oxen, asses, and sheep.

Hence they advanced, seven days' journey, a distance of fifty parasangs,
through the country of the Chalybes. These were the most warlike people
of all that they passed through, and came to close combat with them.
They had linen cuirasses, reaching down to the groin, and, instead of
skirts, thick cords twisted. They had also greaves and helmets, and at
their girdles a short falchion, as large as a Spartan crooked dagger,
with which they cut the throats of all whom they could master, and then,
cutting off their heads, carried them away with them. They sang and
danced when the enemy were likely to see them. They carried also a spear
of about fifteen cubits in length, having one spike.[34] They stayed in
their villages till the Greeks had passed by, when they pursued and
perpetually harassed them. They had their dwellings in strong places, in
which they had also laid up their provisions, so that the Greeks could
get nothing from that country, but lived upon the cattle which they had
taken from the Taochi.

[Footnote 34: Having one iron point at the upper end, and no point at
the lower for fixing the spear in the ground.]

The Greeks next arrived at the river Harpasus, the breadth of which was
four _plethra_. Hence they proceeded through the territory of the
Scythini, four days' journey, making twenty parasangs, over a level
tract, until they came to some villages, in which they halted three days
and collected provisions. From this place they advanced four days'
journey, twenty parasangs, to a large, rich and populous city, called
Gymnias, from which the governor of the country sent the Greeks a guide
to conduct them through a region at war with his own people. The guide,
when he came, said that he would take them in five days to a place
whence they should see the sea; if not, he would consent to be put to
death. When, as he proceeded, he entered the country of their enemies,
he exhorted them to burn and lay waste the lands; whence it was evident
that he had come for this very purpose, and not from any good-will to
the Greeks.

On the fifth day they came to the mountain; and the name of it was
Theches. When the men who were in the front had mounted the height, and
looked down upon the sea, a great shout proceeded from them; and
Xenophon and the rearguard, on hearing it, thought that some new enemies
were assailing the front, for in the rear, too, the people from the
country that they had burned were following them, and the rear-guard, by
placing an ambuscade, had killed some, and taken others prisoners, and
had captured about twenty shields made of raw ox-hides with the hair on.
But as the noise still increased, and drew nearer, and as those who came
up from time to time kept running at full speed to join those who were
continually shouting, the cries becoming louder as the men became more
numerous, it appeared to Xenophon that it must be something of very
great moment. Mounting his horse, therefore, and taking with him Lycius
and the cavalry, he hastened forward to give aid, when presently they
heard the soldiers shouting, "The sea, the sea!" and cheering on one
another. They then all began to run, the rear-guard as well as the rest,
and the baggage-cattle and horses were put to their speed; and when they
had all arrived at the top, the men embraced one another and their
generals and captains, with tears in their eyes. Suddenly, whoever it
was that suggested it, the soldiers brought stones, and raised a large
mound, on which they laid a number of raw ox-hides, staves, and shields
taken from the enemy. The shields the guide himself hacked in pieces,
and exhorted the rest to do the same. Soon after, the Greeks sent away
the guide, giving him presents from the common stock: a horse, a silver
cup, a Persian robe, and ten _darics_; but he showed most desire for the
rings on their fingers, and obtained many of them from the soldiers.
Having then pointed out to them a village where they might take up their
quarters, and the road by which they were to proceed to the Macrones,
when the evening came on he departed, pursuing his way during the night.

Hence the Greeks advanced three days' journey, a distance of ten
parasangs, through the country of the Macrones. On the first day they
came to a river which divides the territories of the Macrones from those
of the Scythini. On their right they had an eminence extremely difficult
of access, and on their left another river, into which the boundary
river, which they had to cross, empties itself. This stream was thickly
edged with trees, not indeed large, but growing closely together. These
the Greeks, as soon as they came to the spot, cut down,[35] being in
haste to get out of the country as soon as possible. The Macrones,
however, equipped with wicker shields, and spears, and hair tunics, were
drawn up on the opposite side of the crossing-place; they were animating
one another and throwing stones into the river.[36] They did not hit our
men or cause them any inconvenience.

[Footnote 35: The Greeks cut down the trees in order to throw them into
the stream, and form a kind of bridge on which they might cross.]

[Footnote 36: They threw stones into the river that they might stand on
them and approach nearer to the Greeks, so as to use their weapons with
more effect.]

At this juncture one of the peltasts came up to Xenophon, saying that he
had been a slave at Athens, and adding that he knew the language of
these men. "I think, indeed," said he, "that this is my country, and, if
there is nothing to prevent, I should wish to speak to the people."

"There is nothing to prevent," replied Xenophon; "so speak to them, and
first ascertain what people they are." When he asked them, they said
that they were the Macrones. "Inquire, then," said Xenophon, "why they
are drawn up to oppose us and wish to be our enemies." They replied,
"Because you come against our country." The generals then told him to
acquaint them that we were not come with any wish to do them injury, but
that we were returning to Greece after having been engaged in war with
the king, and that we were desirous to reach the sea. They asked if the
Greeks would give pledges to this effect; and the Greeks replied that
they were willing both to give and receive them. The Macrones
accordingly presented the Greeks with a barbarian lance, and the Greeks
gave them a Grecian one; for they said that such were their usual
pledges. Both parties called the gods to witness.

After these mutual assurances, the Macrones immediately assisted them in
cutting away the trees and made a passage for them as if to bring them
over, mingling freely among the Greeks; they also gave such facilities
as they could for buying provisions, and conducted them through their
country for three days, until they brought them to the confines of the
Colchians. Here was a range of hills, high, but accessible, and upon
them the Colchians were drawn up in array. The Greeks, at first, drew up
against them in a line, with the intention of marching up the hill in
this disposition; but afterward the generals thought proper to assemble
and deliberate how they might engage with the best effect.

Xenophon then said it appeared to him that they ought to relinquish the
arrangement in line, and to dispose the troops in columns; "for a line,"
pursued he, "will be broken at once, as we shall find the hills in some
parts impassable, though in others easy of access; and this disruption
will immediately produce despondency in the men, when, after being
ranged in a regular line, they find it dispersed. Again, if we advance
drawn up very many deep, the enemy will stretch beyond us on both sides,
and will employ the parts that outreach us in any way they may think
proper; and if we advance only a few deep, it would not be at all
surprising if our line be broken through by showers of missiles and men
falling upon us in large bodies. If this happen in any part, it will be
ill for the whole extent of the line. I think, then, that having formed
our companies in columns, we should keep them so far apart from each
other as that the last companies on each side may be beyond the enemy's
wings. Thus our extreme companies will both outflank the line of the
enemy, and, as we march in file, the bravest of our men will close with
the enemy first, and wherever the ascent is easiest, there each division
will direct its course. Nor will it be easy for the enemy to penetrate
into the intervening spaces when there are companies on each side, nor
will it be easy to break through a column as it advances; while, if any
one of the companies be hard pressed, the neighboring one will support
it; and if but one of the companies can by any path attain the summit,
the enemy will no longer stand their ground."

This plan was approved, and they threw the companies into columns.
Xenophon, riding along from the right wing to the left, said: "Soldiers,
the enemy whom you see before you is now the only obstacle to hinder us
from being where we have long been eager to be. These, if we can, we
must eat up alive."

When the men were all in their places, and they had formed the companies
into columns, there were about eighty companies of heavy-armed men, and
each company consisted of about eighty men. The peltasts and archers
they divided into three bodies, each about six hundred men, one of which
they placed beyond the left wing, another beyond the right, and the
third in the centre. The generals then desired the soldiers to make
their vows to the gods; and having made them, and sung the paean, they
moved forward. Chirisophus and Xenophon, and the peltasts that they had
with them, who were beyond the enemy's flanks, pushed on; and the enemy,
observing their motions, and hurrying forward to receive them, was drawn
off, some to the right and others to the left, and left a great void in
the centre of the line; when the peltasts in the Arcadian division, whom
Aeschines the Acarnanian commanded, seeing the Colchians separate, ran
forward in all haste, thinking that they were taking to flight; and
these were the first that reached the summit. The Arcadian heavy-armed
troop, of which Clearnor the Orchomenian was captain, followed them. But
the enemy, when once the Greeks began to run, no longer stood its
ground, but went off in flight, some one way and some another.

Having passed the summit, the Greeks encamped in a number of villages
containing abundance of provisions. As to other things here, there was
nothing at which they were surprised; but the number of bee-hives was
extraordinary, and all the soldiers that ate of the combs lost their
senses, vomited, and were affected with purging, and not any of them was
able to stand upright; such as had eaten a little were like men greatly
intoxicated, and such as had eaten much were like madmen, and some like
persons at the point of death. They lay upon the ground, in consequence,
in great numbers, as if there had been a defeat; and there was general
dejection. The next day no one of them was found dead; and they
recovered their senses about the same hour that they had lost them on
the preceding day; and on the third and fourth days they got up as if
after having taken physic.[37]

[Footnote 37: That there was honey in these parts, with intoxicating
qualities, was well known to antiquity. Pliny mentions two sorts of it,
one produced at Heraclea in Pontus, and the other among the Sanni or
Macrones. The peculiarities of the honey arose from the herbs to which
the bees resorted; the first came from the flower of a plant called
_oegolethron_, or goatsbane; the other from a species of rhododendron.
Tournefort, when he was in that country, saw honey of this description.
Ainsworth found that the intoxicating honey had a bitter taste. This
honey is also mentioned by Dioscorides.]

From hence they proceeded two days' march, seven parasangs, and arrived
at Trebizond, a Greek city, of large population, on the Euxine Sea; a
colony of Sinope, but lying in the territory of the Colchians. Here they
stayed about thirty days, encamping in the villages of the Colchians,
whence they made excursions and plundered the country of Colchis. The
people of Trebizond provided a market for the Greeks in the camp, and
entertained them in the city; and made them presents of oxen,
barley-meal, and wine. They negotiated with them also on behalf of the
neighboring Colchians, those especially who dwelt in the plain, and from
them too were brought presents of oxen.

Soon after, they prepared to perform the sacrifice which they had vowed.
Oxen enough had been brought them to offer to Jupiter the Preserver, and
to Hercules, for their safe conduct, and whatever they had vowed to the
other gods. They also celebrated gymnastic games upon the hill where
they were encamped, and chose Dracontius, a Spartan--who had become an
exile from his country when quite a boy, for having involuntarily killed
a child by striking him with a dagger--to prepare the course and preside
at the contests. When the sacrifice was ended, they gave the hides[38]
to Dracontius, and desired him to conduct them to the place where he had
made the course. Dracontius, pointing to the place where they were
standing, said, "This hill is an excellent place for running, in
whatever direction the men may wish."

[Footnote 38: Lion and Kuehner have a notion that these skins were to be
given as prizes to the victors, referring to Herodotus, who says that
the Egyptians, in certain games which they celebrate in honor of
Perseus, offer as prizes cattle, cloaks, and hides. Krueger doubts
whether they were intended for prizes, or were given as a present to

"But how will they be able," said they, "to wrestle on ground so rough
and bushy?"

"He that falls," said he, "will suffer the more." Boys, most of them
from among the prisoners, contended in the short course, and in the long
course above sixty Cretans ran; while others were matched in wrestling,
boxing, and the _pancratium_. It was a fine sight; for many entered the
lists, and as their friends were spectators, there was great emulation.
Horses also ran; and they had to gallop down the steep, and, turning
round in the sea, to come up again to the altar. In the descent, many
rolled down; but in the ascent, against the exceedingly steep ground,
the horses could scarcely get up at a walking pace. There was
consequently great shouting and laughter and cheering from the people.


B.C. 399


(The death of Socrates was brought about under the restored democracy by
three of his enemies--Lycon, Meletus, and Anytus, the last a man of high
rank and reputation in the state. Socrates was accused by them of
despising the ancient gods of the state, introducing new divinities and
corrupting the youth of Athens. He was charged with having taught his
followers, young men of the first Athenian families, to despise the
established government, to be turbulent and seditious, and his accusors
pointed to Alcibiades and Critias, notorious for their lawlessness, as
examples of the fruits of his teaching.

It is quite certain that Socrates disliked the Athenian government and
considered democracy as tyrannical as despotism. But there was no law at
Athens by which he could be put to death for his words and actions, and
the vague charge could never have been made unless the whole trial of
the philosopher had been a party movement, headed by men like Lycon and
Anytus, whose support of the unjust measure made the condemnation of
Socrates a foregone conclusion. Xenophon, the pupil and admirer of the
philosopher, expresses in his _Memorabilia of Socrates_ his surprise
that the Athenians should have condemned to death a man of such exalted
character and transparent innocence. But the influence of the teacher
with his pupils, most of them sons of the wealthiest citizens, might
well have been dreaded by those in office and engaged in the conduct of
public business. By them, the common politicians of the day, Socrates,
with his keen and witty criticism of political corruption and
demagogism, must have been considered a formidable adversary.

Accordingly, by the decision of the Athenian court, the philosopher was
sentenced to death by drinking a cup of hemlock. Although it was usual
for criminals to be executed the day following their condemnation, he
enjoyed a respite of thirty days, during which time his friends had
access to his prison cell. It was the time when the ceremonial galley
was crowned and sent on her pilgrimage to the holy Isle of Delos, and no
criminal could be executed until her return. Socrates exhibited heroic
constancy and cheerfulness during this interval, and repudiated the
offers of his friends to aid in his escape, though they had chartered a
ship to carry him to Thessaly. With calm composure he reasoned on the
immortality of the soul, and cheered his visitors with words of hope.

The literary portraits of Socrates furnished by himself, and the
writings of Plato, are among the most precious monuments of antiquity,
and the life and death of such a man form a memorable era in the moral
and intellectual history of mankind.

Plato, in his _Phaedo, or the Immortality of the Soul_, gives the
following dialogue between Echecrates and Phaedo--two friends and
disciples of the late philosopher--evidently with no other purpose in
view than to lend to the account of the great teacher's last hours, and
the last words his followers were to hear from his lips, the additional
force and dramatic value of a personal narrative in the mouth of a
loving pupil and an actual eyewitness of his death.)

Echecrates. Were you personally present, Phaedo, with Socrates on that
day when he drank the poison in prison? or did you hear an account of it
from someone else?

_Phaed._ I was there myself, Echecrates.

_Ech._ What then did he say before his death? and how did he die? for I
should be glad to hear; for scarcely any citizen of Phlius[39] ever
visits Athens now, nor has any stranger for a long time come from
thence, who was able to give us a clear account of the particulars,
except that he died from drinking poison; but he was unable to tell us
anything more.

[Footnote 39: Phlius, to which Echecrates belonged, was a town of
Sicyonia in Peloponnesus.]

_Phaed._ And did you not hear about the trial how it went off?

_Ech._ Yes; some one told me this; and I wondered, that as it took place
so long ago, he appears to have died long afterward. What was the reason
of this, Phaedo?

_Phaed._ An accidental circumstance happened in his favor, Echecrates:
for the poop of the ship which the Athenians send to Delos, chanced to
be crowned on the day before the trial.

_Ech._ But what is this ship?

_Phaed._ It is the ship, as the Athenians say, in which Theseus formerly
conveyed the fourteen boys and girls to Crete and saved both them and
himself. They, therefore, made a vow to Apollo on that occasion, as it
is said, that if they were saved they would every year despatch a solemn
embassy to Delos; which, from that time to the present, they send yearly
to the god. When they begin the preparations for this solemn embassy,
they have a law that the city shall be purified during this period, and
that no public execution shall take place until the ship has reached
Delos, and returned to Athens: and this occasionally takes a long time,
when the winds happen to impede their passage. The commencement of the
embassy is when the priest of Apollo has crowned the poop of the ship.
And this was done, as I said, on the day before the trial: on this
account Socrates had a long interval in prison between the trial and his

_Ech._ And what, Phaedo, were the circumstances of his death? what was
said and done? and who of his friends were with him? or would not the
magistrates allow them to be present, but did he die destitute of

_Phaed._ By no means; but some, indeed several, were present.

_Ech._ Take the trouble, then, to relate to me all the particulars as
clearly as you can, unless you have any pressing business.

_Phaed._ I am at leisure, and will endeavor to give you a full account:
for to call Socrates to mind, whether speaking myself or listening to
some one else, is always most delightful to me.

_Ech._ And indeed, Phaedo, you have others to listen to you who are of
the same mind. However, endeavor to relate everything as accurately as
you can.

_Phaed._ I was indeed wonderfully affected by being present, for I was
not impressed with a feeling of pity, like one present at the death of a
friend; for the man appeared to me to be happy, Echecrates, both from
his manner and discourse, so fearlessly and nobly did he meet his death:
so much so that it occurred to me that in going to Hades he was not
going without a divine destiny, but that when he arrived there he would
be happy, if anyone ever was. For this reason I was entirely
uninfluenced by any feeling of pity, as would seem likely to be the case
with one present on so mournful an occasion; nor was I affected by
pleasure from being engaged in philosophical discussions, as was our
custom; for our conversation was of that kind. But an altogether
unaccountable feeling possessed me, a kind of unusual mixture compounded
of pleasure and pain together, when I considered that he was immediately
about to die. And all of us who were present were affected in much the
same manner, at one time laughing, at another weeping one of us
especially, Apollodorus, for you know the man and his manner.

_Ech._ How should I not?

_Phaed._ He, then, was entirely overcome by these emotions; and I too was
troubled, as well as the others.

_Ech._ But who were present, Phaedo?

_Phaed._ Of his fellow-countrymen, this Apollodorus was present, and
Critobulus, and his father Crito, moreover Hermogenes, Epigenes,
AEschines, and Antisthenes; Ctesippus the Paeanian, Menexenus, and some
other of his countrymen were also there: Plato I think was sick.

_Ech._ Were any strangers present?

_Phaed._ Yes: Simmias the Theban, Cebes, and Phaedondes: and from Megara,
Euclides and Terpsion.

_Ech._ But what! were not Aristippus and Cleombrotus present?

_Phaed._ No: for they were said to be at AEgina.

_Ech._ Was anyone else there?

_Phaed._ I think that these were nearly all who were present.

_Ech._ Well, now, what do you say was the subject of conversation?

_Phaed._ I will endeavor to relate the whole to you from the beginning.
On the preceding days I and the others were constantly in the habit of
visiting Socrates, meeting early in the morning at the court-house where
the trial took place, for it was near the prison. Here then we waited
every day till the prison was opened, conversing with each other; for it
was not opened very early, but, as soon as it was opened we went in to
Socrates, and usually spent the day with him. On that occasion, however,
we met earlier than usual; for on the preceding day, when we left the
prison in the evening, we heard that the ship had arrived from Delos. We
therefore urged each other to come as early as possible to the
accustomed place; accordingly we came, and the porter, who used to admit
us, coming out, told us to wait, and not enter until he called us.
"For," he said, "the Eleven are now freeing Socrates from his bonds, and
announcing to him that he must die to-day." But in no long time he
returned, and bade us enter.

When we entered, we found Socrates just freed from his bonds, and
Xantippe (you know her), holding his little boy and sitting by him. As
soon as Xantippe saw us, she wept aloud and said such things as women
usually do on such occasions, as, "Socrates, your friends will now
converse with you for the last time, and you with them." But Socrates,
looking toward Crito, said, "Crito, let some one take her home." Upon
which some of Crito's attendants led her away, wailing and beating

But Socrates, sitting up in bed, drew up his leg and rubbed it with his
hand, and as he rubbed it said: "What an unaccountable thing, my
friends, that seems to be which men call pleasure; and how wonderfully
is it related toward that which appears to be its contrary, pain; in
that they will not both be present to a man at the same time, yet, if
anyone pursues and attains the one, he is almost always compelled to
receive the other, as if they were both united together from one head.

"And it seems to me," he said, "that if AEsop had observed this he would
have made a fable from it, how the Deity, wishing to reconcile these
warring principles, when he could not do so, united their heads
together, and from hence whomsoever the one visits the other attends
immediately after; as appears to be the case with me, since I suffered
pain in my leg before from the chain, but now pleasure seems to have

Hereupon Cebes, interrupting him, said: "By Jupiter, Socrates, you have
done well in reminding me. With respect to the poems which you made, by
putting into metre those Fables of AEsop and the hymn to Apollo, several
other persons asked me, and especially Evenus recently, with what design
you made them after you came here, whereas before, you had never made
any. If, therefore, you care at all that I should be able to answer
Evenus when he asks me again--for I am sure he will do so--tell me what
I must say to him."

"Tell him the truth then, Cebes," he replied, "that I did not make them
from a wish to compete with him, or his poems, for I knew that this
would be no easy matter; but that I might discover the meaning of
certain dreams, and discharge my conscience, if this should happen to be
the music which they have often ordered me to apply myself to. For they
were to the following purport: often in my past life the same dream
visited me, appearing at different times in different forms, yet always
saying the same thing. 'Socrates,' it said, 'apply yourself to and
practise music.' And I formerly supposed that it exhorted and encouraged
me to continue the pursuit I was engaged in, as those who cheer on
racers, so that the dream encouraged me to continue the pursuit I was
engaged in, namely, to apply myself to music, since philosophy is the
highest music, and I was devoted to it. But now since my trial took
place, and the festival of the god retarded my death, it appeared to me
that, if by chance the dream so frequently enjoined me to apply myself
to popular music, I ought not to disobey it but do so, for that it would
be safer for me not to depart hence before I had discharged my
conscience by making some poems in obedience to the dream. Thus, then, I
first of all composed a hymn to the god whose festival was present, and
after the god, considering that a poet, if he means to be a poet, ought
to make fables and not discourses, and knowing that I was not skilled in
making fables, I therefore put into verse those fables of AEsop, which
were at hand, and were known to me, and which first occurred to me.

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