The Project Gutenberg eBook of History of Greece, Volume 07 (of 12)

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Title: History of Greece, Volume 07 (of 12)

Author: George Grote

Release date: February 11, 2016 [eBook #51181]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Adrian Mastronardi, Ramon Pajares Box and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net
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*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK HISTORY OF GREECE, VOLUME 07 (OF 12) ***

Transcriber's note

Table of Contents

Book cover

HISTORY OF GREECE.

BY
GEORGE GROTE, Esq.

VOL. VII.

REPRINTED FROM THE LONDON EDITION

NEW YORK:
HARPER & BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS
329 AND 331 PEARL STREET.


[p. iii]

CONTENTS.
VOL. VII.


PART II.

CONTINUATION OF HISTORICAL GREECE.


CHAPTER LV.

FROM THE PEACE OF NIKIAS TO THE OLYMPIC FESTIVAL OF OLYMPIAD 90.

Negotiations for peace during the winter after the battle of Amphipolis. — Peace called the Peace of Nikias — concluded in March 421 B.C. Conditions of peace. — Peace accepted at Sparta by the majority of members of the Peloponnesian alliance. — The most powerful members of the alliance refuse to accept the truce — Bœotians, Megarians, Corinthians, and Eleians. — Position and feelings of the Lacedæmonians — their great anxiety for peace — their uncertain relations with Argos. — Steps taken by the Lacedæmonians to execute the peace — Amphipolis is not restored to Athens — the great allies of Sparta do not accept the peace. — Separate alliance for mutual defence concluded between Sparta and Athens. — Terms of the alliance. — Athens restores the Spartan captives. — Mismanagement of the political interests of Athens by Nikias and the peace party. — By the terms of the alliance Athens renounced all the advantages of her position in reference to the Lacedæmonians — she gained none of those concessions upon which she calculated, while they gained materially. — Discontent and remonstrances of the Athenians against Sparta in consequence of the non-performance of the conditions — they repent of having given up the captives — excuses of Sparta. — New combinations in Peloponnesus — suspicion entertained of concert between Sparta and Athens — Argos stands prominently forward — state of Argos — aristocratical regiment of one thousand formed in that city. — The Corinthians prevail upon Argos to stand forward as head of a new Peloponnesian alliance. — Congress of recusant Peloponnesian allies at Corinth — the Mantineians join Argos — state of Arcadia — rivalship of Tegea and Mantineia. — Remonstrances of Lacedæmonian envoys at the congress at Corinth — redefence of the Corinthians — pretence of religious[p. iv] scruple. — The Bœotians and Megarians refuse to break with Sparta, or to ally themselves with Argos — the Corinthians hesitate in actually joining Argos. — The Eleians become allies of Argos — their reasons for doing so — relations with Lepreum — the Corinthians now join Argos also. — Refusal of Tegea to separate from Sparta. — The Corinthians are disheartened — their application through the Bœotians to Athens. — The Lacedæmonians emancipate the Arcadian subjects of Mantineia — they plant the Brasidean Helots at Lepreum. — Treatment of the Spartan captives after their liberation from Athens and return to Sparta — they are disfranchised for a time and in a qualified manner. — The Athenians recapture Skiônê — put to death all the adult males. — Political relations in Peloponnesus — change of ephors at Sparta — the new ephors are hostile to Athens. — Congress at Sparta — Athenian, Bœotian, and Corinthian deputies, present — long debates, but no settlement attained of any one of the disputed points — intrigues of the anti-Athenian ephors — Kleobulus and Xenarês. — These ephors try to bring about underhand an alliance between Sparta and Argos, through the Bœotians — the project fails. — The Lacedæmonians conclude a special alliance with the Bœotians, thereby violating their alliance with Athens — the Bœotians raze Panaktum to the ground. — Application from the Argeians to Sparta to renew the expiring treaty. Project of renewed treaty agreed upon. Curious stipulation about combat by champions, to keep the question open about the title to Thyrea. — Lacedæmonian envoys go first to Bœotia, next to Athens — they find Panaktum demolished — they ask for the cession of Pylos from Athens. — The envoys are badly received at Athens — angry feeling against the Lacedæmonians. — Alkibiadês stands forward as a party-leader. His education and character. — Great energy and capacity of Alkibiadês in public affairs — his reckless expenditure — lawless demeanor — unprincipled character, inspiring suspicion and alarm — military service. — Alkibiadês — Sokratês — the Sophists. — Conflicting sentiments entertained towards Alkibiadês — his great energy and capacity. Admiration, fear, hatred, and jealousy, which he inspires. — Alkibiadês tries to renew the ancient but interrupted connection of his ancestors with Lacedæmon, as proxeni. — The Spartans reject his advances — he turns against them — alters his politics, and becomes their enemy at Athens. — He tries to bring Athens into alliance with Argos. — He induces the Argeians to send envoys to Athens — the Argeians eagerly embrace this opening, and drop their negotiations with Sparta. — Embassy of the Lacedæmonians to Athens, to press the Athenians not to throw up the alliance. The envoys are favorably received. — Trick by which Alkibiadês cheats and disgraces the envoys, and baffles the Lacedæmonian project. Indignation of the Athenians against Sparta. — Nikias prevails with the assembly to send himself and others as envoys to Sparta, in order to clear up the embarrassment. — Failure of the embassy of Nikias at Sparta — Athens concludes the alliance with Argos, Elis, and Mantineia. — Conditions of this convention and alliance. — Complicated relations among the Grecian states as to treaty and alliance. — Olympic festival of the 90th Olympiad, July 420 B.C., its memorable character. — First appearance of Athens at the Olympic festival since the beginning of the war. Immense display of Alkibiadês in the chariot-race. — The Eleians exclude the Spartan sacred legation from this Olympic festival, in consequence of alleged violation of the Olympic truce. — Alarm felt at the festival lest the Spartans should come in arms. — Depressed estimation of Sparta throughout Greece — Herakleia.

1-61

[p. v]CHAPTER LVI.

FROM THE FESTIVAL OF OLYMPIAD 90, DOWN TO THE BATTLE OF MANTINEIA.

New policy of Athens, attempted by Alkibiadês. — Expedition of Alkibiadês into the interior of Peloponnesus. — Attack upon Epidaurus by Argos and Athens. — Movements of the Spartans and Argeians. — The sacred month Karneius — trick played by the Argeians with their calendar — Congress at Mantineia for peace — the discussions prove abortive. — Athenian lordship of the sea — the alliance between Athens and Sparta continues in name, but is indirectly violated by both. — Invasion of Argos by Agis and the Lacedæmonians, Bœotians, and Corinthians. — Approach of the invaders to Argos by different lines of march. — Superior forces and advantageous position of the invaders — danger of Argos — Agis takes upon him to grant an armistice to the Argeians, and withdraws the army — dissatisfaction of the allies. — Severe censure against Agis on his return to Sparta. — Tardy arrival of Alkibiadês, Lachês, etc., with the Athenian contingent at Argos — expedition of Athenians, Eleians, Mantineians, and Argeians, against the Arcadian town of Orchomenus. — Plans against Tegea — the Eleians return home. — Danger of Tegea — Agis and the Lacedæmonians march to its relief. — Manœuvres of Agis to bring on a battle on fair ground. — Forward march and new position of the Argeians. — The Lacedæmonians are surprised: their sudden and ready formation into battle order. — Gradation of command and responsibility peculiar to the Lacedæmonian army. — Lacedæmonian line: privileged post of the Skiritæ on the left. — Uncertain numbers of both armies. — Preliminary harangues to the soldiers. — Battle of Mantineia. — Movement ordered by Agis, on the instant before the battle; his order disobeyed. His left wing is defeated. — Complete ultimate victory of the Lacedæmonians. — Great effects of the victory in reëstablishing the reputation of Sparta. — Operations of Argeians, Eleians, etc., near Epidaurus. — Political change at Argos, arising out of the battle of Mantineia. — Oligarchical conspiracy of the Thousand-regiment at Argos, in concert with the Lacedæmonians. — Treaty of peace between Sparta and Argos. — Treaty of alliance between Sparta and Argos — dissolution of the alliance of Argos with Athens, Mantineia, and Elis. — Submission of Mantineia to Sparta. — Oligarchical revolution effected at Argos by the Thousand, in concert with the Lacedæmonians. — Oligarchy in Sikyôn and the towns in Achaia. — Violences of the Thousand at Argos: counter-revolution in that town: restoration of the democracy. — Proceedings of the restored Argeian Demos: tardiness of Sparta. — Alkibiadês at Argos: measures for the protection of the democracy. — Nominal peace, but precarious relations, between Athens and Sparta. — Relations of Athens with Perdikkas of Macedonia. — Negligence of Athens about Amphipolis: improvidence of Nikias and the peace-party: adventurous speculations of Alkibiadês. — Projected contention of ostracism between Nikias and Alkibiadês. Proposition supported by Hyperbolus. — Gradual desuetude of the ostracism, as the democracy became assured. — Siege of Mêlos by the Athenians. — Dialogue set forth by Thucydidês, between the Athenian envoys and the Executive Council of Mêlos. — Language represented by Thucydidês as having been held by the Athenian envoys[p. vi] — with the replies of the Melians. — Refusal of the Melians to submit. — Siege and capture of Mêlos. — Remarks upon the event. — View taken by Thucydidês of this incident. — Place which it occupies in the general historical conception of Thucydidês.

61-118

CHAPTER LVII.

SICILIAN AFFAIRS AFTER THE EXTINCTION OF THE GELONIAN DYNASTY.

Expulsion of the Gelonian dynasty from Syracuse, and of other despots from the other Sicilian towns. — Large changes of resident inhabitants — effects of this fact. — Relative power and condition of the Sicilian cities. Political dissensions at Syracuse. Ostracism tried and abandoned. — Power and foreign exploits of Syracuse. — Sikels in the interior of Sicily — the Sikel prince Duketius — he founds the new Sikel town of Palikê. — Exploits of Duketius — he is defeated and becomes the prisoner of the Syracusans, who spare him, and send him to Corinth. — Duketius breaks his parole and returns to Sicily. — Conquests of Syracuse in the interior of Sicily — death of Duketius. — Prosperity and power of Agrigentum. — Intellectual movement in Sicily — Empedoklês — Tisias — Korax — Gorgias. — Sicilian cities — their condition and proceedings at the first breaking out of the Peloponnesian war, 431 B.C. — Relations of Sicily to Athens and Sparta — altered by the quarrel between Corinth and Korkyra and the intervention of Athens. — Expectations entertained by Sparta of aid from the Sicilian Dorians, at the beginning of the Peloponnesian war. Expectations not realized. — The Dorian cities in Sicily attack the Ionian cities in Sicily. — The Ionic cities in Sicily solicit aid from Athens — first Athenian expedition to Sicily under Lachês. — Second expedition under Pythodôrus. — Indecisive operations near Messênê and Rhegium. — Defeat of the Messenians by the Naxians and Sikels, near Naxos. — Eurymedon and Sophoklês, with a larger Athenian fleet, arrive in Sicily. — Congress of the Sicilian cities at Gela. Speech of Hermokratês. — General peace made between the Sicilian cities. Eurymedon accedes to the peace, and withdraws the Athenian fleet. — Displeasure of the Athenians against Eurymedon and his colleagues. — Intestine dissension in Leontini — expulsion of the Leontine Demos, by the aid of Syracuse. — Application of the Leontine Demos for help to Athens. The Athenians send Phæax to make observations. — Leontini depopulated — the Demos expelled — Leontine exiles at Athens. — War between Selinus and Egesta — the latter applies to Athens for aid. — Promises of the Egestæans: motives offered to Athens for intervention in Sicily. — Alkibiadês warmly espouses their cause, and advises intervention. — Inspecting commissioners despatched by the Athenians to Egesta — frauds practised by the Egestæans to delude them. — Return of the commissioners to Athens — impression produced by their report. Resolution taken to send an expedition to Sicily. — Embarrassment of Nikias as opposer of the expedition. — Speech of Nikias at the second assembly held by the Athenians. — Reply of Alkibiadês. — The assembly favorable to the views of Alkibiadês — adheres to the resolution of sailing to Sicily. — Second speech of Nikias — exaggerating the difficulties and dangers of the expedition, and demanding a force on the largest scale. — Effect of this speech — increased eagerness of the assembly for the expe[p. vii]dition — order and unanimity in reference to the plan. — Excitement in the city among all classes — great increase in the scale on which the expedition was planned. — Large preparations made for the expedition. — Review of these preliminary proceedings to the Sicilian expedition. — Advice and influence of Nikias. — Advice and influence of Alkibiadês. — Athens believed herself entitled to be mistress of the islands as well as of the sea.

118-162

CHAPTER LVIII.

FROM THE RESOLUTION OF THE ATHENIANS TO ATTACK SYRACUSE, DOWN TO THE FIRST WINTER AFTER THEIR ARRIVAL IN SICILY.

Preparations for the expedition against Sicily — general enthusiasm and sanguine hopes at Athens. — Abundance in the Athenian treasury — display of wealth as well as of force in the armament. — Mutilation of the Hermæ at Athens. Numbers and sanctity of the Hermæ. — Violent excitement and religious alarm produced by the act at Athens. — The authors of the act unknown — but it was certainly done by design and conspiracy. — Various parties suspected — great probability beforehand that it would induce the Athenians to abandon or postpone the expedition. — The political enemies of Alkibiadês take advantage of the reigning excitement to try and ruin him. — Anxiety of the Athenians to detect and punish the conspirators — rewards offered for information. — Informations given in — commissioners of inquiry appointed. — First accusation of Alkibiadês, of having profaned and divulged the Eleusinian mysteries. — Violent speeches in the assembly against Alkibiadês unfavorably received. — He denies the charge and demands immediate trial — his demand is eluded by his enemies. — Departure of the armament from Peiræus — splendor and exciting character of the spectacle. — Solemnities of parting, on shipboard and on the water’s edge. — Full muster of the armament at Korkyra. — Progress to Rhegium — cold reception by the Italian cities. — Feeling at Syracuse as to the approaching armament — disposition to undervalue its magnitude, and even to question its intended coming. — Strenuous exhortations of Hermokratês, to be prepared. — Temper and parties in the Syracusan assembly. — Reply of Athenagoras, the popular orator. — Interposition of the stratêgi to moderate the violence of the debate. — Relative position of Athenagoras and other parties at Syracuse. — Pacific dispositions of Athenagoras. — His general denunciations against the oligarchical youth were well founded. — Active preparations at Syracuse on the approach of the Athenian armament. — Discouragement of the Athenians at Rhegium on learning the truth respecting the poverty of Egesta. — The Athenian generals discuss their plan of action — opinion of Nikias. — Opinion of Alkibiadês. — Opinion of Lamachus. — Superior discernment of Lamachus — plan of Alkibiadês preferred. — Alkibiadês at Messênê — Naxos joins the Athenians. Empty display of the armament. — Alkibiadês at Katana — the Athenians masters of Katana — they establish their station there. Refusal of Kamarina. — Alkibiadês is summoned home to take his trial. — Feelings and proceedings at Athens since the departure of the armament. — Number of citizens imprisoned on suspicion — increased agony of the public mind. — Peisander and Chariklês the commissioners of inquiry. — Information of[p. viii] Diokleidês. — More prisoners arrested — increased terror in the city — Andokidês among the persons imprisoned. — Andokidês is solicited by his fellow-prisoners to stand forward and give information — he complies. — Andokidês designates the authors of the mutilation of the Hermæ — consequence of his revelations. — Questionable authority of Andokidês, as to what he himself really stated in information. — Belief of the Athenians in his information — its tranquillizing effects. — Anxiety and alarm revived, respecting the persons concerned in the profanation of the Eleusinian mysteries. — Revival of the accusation against Alkibiadês. — Indictment presented by Thessalus, son of Kimon, against Alkibiadês. — Resolution to send for Alkibiadês home from Sicily to be tried. — Alkibiadês quits the army, as if to come home: makes his escape at Thurii, and retires to Peloponnesus. — Conduct of the Athenian public in reference to Alkibiadês — how far blamable. Conduct of his enemies. — Mischief to Athens from the banishment of Alkibiadês. Languid operations of the Sicilian armament under Nikias. — Increase of confidence and preparations at Syracuse, arising from the delays of Nikias. — Manœuvre of Nikias from Katana — he lands his forces in the Great Harbor of Syracuse. — Return of the Syracusan army from Katana to the Great Harbor — preparations for fighting Nikias. — Feelings of the ancient soldier. — Harangue of Nikias. — Battle near the Olympieion — victory of the Athenians. — Unabated confidence of the Syracusans — they garrison the Olympieion — Nikias reembarks his army, and returns to Katana. — He determines to take up his winter quarters at Katana, and sends to Athens for reinforcements of horse. — His failure at Messênê, through the betrayal by Alkibiadês. — Salutary lesson to the Syracusans, arising out of the recent defeat — mischiefs to the Athenians from the delay of Nikias. — Confidence of the Athenians at home in Nikias — their good temper — they send to him the reinforcements demanded. — Determined feeling at Syracuse — improved measures of defence — recommendations of Hermokratês. — Enlargement of the fortifications of Syracuse. Improvement of their situation. Increase of the difficulties of Nikias. — Hermokratês and Euphêmus — counter-envoys at Kamarina. — Speech of Euphêmus. — The Kamarinæans maintain practical neutrality. — Winter proceedings of Nikias from his quarters at Katana. — Syracusan envoys sent to solicit aid from Corinth and Sparta. — Alkibiadês at Sparta — his intense hostility to Athens. — Speech of Alkibiadês in the Lacedæmonian assembly. — Great effect of his speech on the Peloponnesians. — Misrepresentations contained in the speech. — Resolutions of the Spartans. — The Lacedæmonians send Gylippus to Syracuse.

163-243

CHAPTER LIX.

FROM THE COMMENCEMENT OF THE SIEGE OF SYRACUSE BY NIKIAS, DOWN TO THE SECOND ATHENIAN EXPEDITION UNDER DEMOSTHENES, AND THE RESUMPTION OF THE GENERAL WAR.

Movements of Nikias in the early spring. — Local condition and fortifications of Syracuse, at the time when Nikias arrived. — Inner and Outer City. — Localities without the wall of the outer city — Epipolæ. — Possibilities of the siege when Nikias first arrived in Sicily — increase of difficulties through his delay. — Increased importance of the upper ground[p. ix] of Epipolæ. Intention of the Syracusans to occupy the summit of Epipolæ. — The summit is surprised by the Athenians. — The success of this surprise was essential to the effective future prosecution of the siege. — First operations of the siege. — Central work of the Athenians on Epipolæ, called The Circle. — First counter-wall of the Syracusans. — Its direction, south of the Athenian circle — its completion. — It is stormed, taken, and destroyed by the Athenians. — Nikias occupies the southern cliff — and prosecutes his line of blockade south of the Circle. — Second counter-work of the Syracusans — reaching across the marsh, south of Epipolæ, to the river Anapus. — This counter-work attacked and taken by Lamachus — general battle — death of Lamachus. — Danger of the Athenian circle and of Nikias — victory of the Athenians. — Entrance of the Athenian fleet into the Great Harbor. — The southern portion of the wall of blockade, across the marsh to the Great Harbor, is prosecuted and nearly finished. — The Syracusans offer no farther obstruction — despondency at Syracuse — increasing closeness of the siege. — Order of the besieging operations successively undertaken by the Athenians. — Triumphant prospects of the Athenians. Disposition among the Sikels and Italian Greeks to favor them. — Conduct of Nikias — his correspondents in the interior of Syracuse. — Confidence of Nikias — comparative languor of his operations. — Approach of Gylippus — he despairs of relieving Syracuse. — Progress of Gylippus, in spite of discouraging reports. — Approach of Gylippus is made known to Nikias. Facility of preventing his farther advance — Nikias despises him, and leaves him to come unobstructed. He lands at Himera in Sicily. — Blindness of Nikias — egregious mistake of letting in Gylippus. — Gylippus levies an army and marches across Sicily from Himera to Syracuse. — The Corinthian Goggylus reaches Syracuse before Gylippus — just in time to hinder the town from capitulating. — Gylippus with his new-levied force enters Syracuse unopposed. — Unaccountable inaction of Nikias. — Vigorous and aggressive measures of Gylippus, immediately on arriving. — Gylippus surprises and captures the Athenian fort of Labdalum. — He begins the construction of a third counter-wall, on the north side of the Athenian circle. — Nikias fortifies Cape Plemmyrium. — Inconveniences of Plemmyrium as a maritime station — mischief which ensues to the Athenian naval strength. — Operations of Gylippus in the field — his defeat. — His decisive victory — the Athenians are shut up within their lines. The Syracusan counter-wall is carried on so far as to cut the Athenian line of blockade. — Farther defences provided by Gylippus, joining the higher part of Epipolæ with the city wall. — Confidence of Gylippus and the Syracusans — aggressive plans against the Athenians, even on the sea. — Discouragement of Nikias and the Athenians. — Nikias sends home a despatch to Athens, soliciting reinforcements. — Despatch of Nikias to the Athenian people. — Resolution of the Athenians to send Demosthenês with a second armament. — Remarks upon the despatch of Nikias. — Former despatches of Nikias. — Effect of his despatch upon the Athenians. — Treatment of Nikias by the Athenians. — Capital mistake committed by the Athenians. — Hostilities from Sparta certain and impending. — Resolution of Sparta to invade Attica forthwith, and to send farther reinforcements to Sicily.

243-286

[p. x]CHAPTER LX.

FROM THE RESUMPTION OF DIRECT HOSTILITIES BETWEEN ATHENS AND SPARTA, DOWN TO THE DESTRUCTION OF THE ATHENIAN ARMAMENT IN SICILY.

Active warlike preparations throughout Greece during the winter of 414-413 B.C. — Invasion of Attica by Agis and the Peloponnesian force — fortification of Dekeleia. — Second expedition from Athens against Syracuse, under Demosthenês. — Operations of Gylippus at Syracuse. He determines to attack the Athenians at sea. — Naval combat in the harbor of Syracuse — the Athenians victorious. — Gylippus surprises and takes Plemmyrium. — Important consequences of the capture. — Increased spirits and confidence of the Syracusans, even for sea-fight. — Efforts of the Syracusans to procure farther reinforcements from the Sicilian towns. — Conflicts between the Athenians and Syracusans in the Great Harbor. — Defeat of a Sicilian reinforcement marching to aid Syracuse — Renewed attack by Gylippus on the Athenians. — Disadvantages of the Athenian fleet in the harbor. Their naval tactics impossible in the narrow space. — Improvements in Syracusan ships suited to the narrow space. — The Syracusans threaten attack upon the Athenian naval station. — Additional preparations of Nikias — battle renewed. — Complete defeat of the Athenians. — Danger of the Athenian armament — arrival of Demosthenês with the second armament. — Voyage of Demosthenês from Korkyra. — Imposing effect of his entry into the Great Harbor. — Revived courage of the Athenians. Judicious and decisive resolutions of Demosthenês. — Position and plans of Demosthenês. — Nocturnal march of Demosthenês to surprise Epipolæ, and turn the Syracusan line of defence. — Partial success at first — complete and ruinous defeat finally. — Disorder of the Athenians — great loss in the flight. — Elate spirits, and renewed aggressive plans, of the Syracusans. — Deliberation and different opinions of the Athenian generals. — Demosthenês insists on departing from Sicily — Nikias opposes him. — Demosthenês insists at least on removing out of the Great Harbor. — Nikias refuses to consent to such removal. — The armament remains in the Great Harbor, neither acting nor retiring. — Infatuation of Nikias. — Increase of force and confidence in Syracuse. — Nikias at length consents to retreat. Orders for retreat privately circulated. — Eclipse of the moon — Athenian retreat postponed. — Eclipses considered as signs — differently interpreted — opinion of Philochorus. — Renewed attacks of the Syracusans — defeat of the Athenian fleet in the Great Harbor. — Partial success ashore against Gylippus. — The Syracusans determine to block up the mouth of the harbor, and destroy or capture the whole Athenian armament. — Large views of the Syracusans against the power of Athens — new hazards now opened to endanger that power. — Vast numbers, and miscellaneous origin, of the combatants now engaged in fighting for or against Syracuse. — The Syracusans block up the mouth of the harbor. — The Athenians resolve to force their way out — preparations made by the generals. — Exhortations of Nikias on putting the crews aboard. — Agony of Nikias — his efforts to encourage the officers. — Bold and animated language of Gylippus to the Syracusan fleet. — Syracusan arrangements.[p. xi] Condition of the Great Harbor — sympathizing population surrounding it. — Attempt of the Athenian fleet to break out — battle in the Great Harbor. — Long-continued and desperate struggle — intense emotion — total defeat of the Athenians. — Military operations of ancient times — strong emotions which accompanied them. — Causes of the defeat of the Athenians. — Feelings of the victors and vanquished after the battle. — Resolution of Demosthenês and Nikias to make a second attempt — the armament are too much discouraged to obey. — The Athenians determine to retreat by land — they postpone their retreat, under false communications from Syracuse. — The Syracusans block up the roads, to intercept their retreat. — Retreat of the Athenians — miserable condition of the army. — Wretchedness arising from abandoning the sick and wounded. — Attempt of the generals to maintain some order — energy of Nikias. — Exhortations of Nikias to the suffering army. — Commencement of the retreat — harassed and impeded by the Syracusans. — Continued conflict — no progress made by the retreating army. — Violent storm — effect produced on both parties — change of feeling in the last two years. — Night march of the Athenians, in an altered direction, towards the southern sea. — Separation of the two divisions under Nikias and Demosthenês. The first division under Nikias gets across the river Erineus. — The rear division under Demosthenês is pursued, overtaken, and forced to surrender. — Gylippus overtakes and attacks the division of Nikias. — Nikias gets to the river Asinarus — intolerable thirst and suffering of the soldiers — he and his division become prisoners. — Total numbers captured. — Hard treatment and sufferings of the Athenian prisoners at Syracuse. — Treatment of Nikias and Demosthenês — difference of opinion among the conquerors. — Influence of the Corinthians — efforts of Gylippus — both the generals are slain. — Disgrace of Nikias after his death, at Athens — continued respect for the memory of Demosthenês. — Opinion of Thucydidês about Nikias. — How far that opinion is just. — Opinion of the Athenians about Nikias — their steady over-confidence and over-esteem for him, arising from his respectable and religious character. — Over-confidence in Nikias was the greatest personal mistake which the Athenian public ever committed.

287-352

CHAPTER LXI.

FROM THE DESTRUCTION OF THE ATHENIAN ARMAMENT IN SICILY, DOWN TO THE OLIGARCHICAL CONSPIRACY OF THE FOUR HUNDRED AT ATHENS.

Consequences of the ruin of the Athenian armament in Sicily. — Occupation of Dekeleia by the Lacedæmonians — its ruinous effects upon Athens. — Athens becomes a military post — heavy duty in arms imposed upon the citizens. — Financial pressure. — Athens dismisses her Thracian mercenaries — massacre at Mykalêssus. — The Thracians driven back with slaughter by the Thebans. — Athenian station at Naupaktus — decline of the naval superiority of Athens. — Naval battle near Naupaktus — indecisive result. — Last news of the Athenians from Syracuse — ruin of the army there not officially made known to them. — Reluctance of the Athenians to believe the full truth. — Terror and affliction at Athens. — Energetic resolutions adopted by the Athenians — Board of Probûli. — Prodigious[p. xii] effect of the catastrophe upon all Greeks — enemies and allies of Athens as well as neutrals — and even on the Persians. — Motions of king Agis. — The Eubœans apply to Agis for aid in revolting from Athens — the Lesbians also apply, and are preferred. — The Chians, with the same view, make application to Sparta. — Envoys from Tissaphernês and Pharnabazus come to Sparta at the same time. — Alkibiadês at Sparta — his recommendations determine the Lacedæmonians to send aid to Chios. — Synod of the Peloponnesian allies at Corinth — measures resolved. — Isthmian festival — scruples of the Corinthians — delay about Chios — suspicions of Athens. — Peloponnesian fleet from Corinth to Chios — it is defeated by the Athenians. — Small squadron starts from Sparta under Chalkideus and Alkibiadês, to go to Chios. — Energetic advice of Alkibiadês — his great usefulness to Sparta. — Arrival of Alkibiadês at Chios — revolt of the island from Athens. — General population of Chios was disinclined to revolt from Athens. — Dismay occasioned at Athens by the revolt of Chios — the Athenians set free and appropriate their reserved fund. — Athenian force despatched to Chios under Strombichidês. — Activity of the Chians in promoting revolt among the other Athenian allies — Alkibiadês determines Milêtus to revolt. — First alliance between the Peloponnesians and Tissaphernês, concluded by Chalkideus at Milêtus. — Dishonorable and disadvantageous conditions of the treaty. — Energetic efforts of Athens — democratical revolution at Samos. — Peloponnesian fleet at Kenchreæ — Astyochus is sent as Spartan admiral to Ionia. — Expedition of the Chians against Lesbos. — Ill success of the Chians — Lesbos is maintained by the Athenians. — Harassing operations of the Athenians against Chios. — Hardships suffered by the Chians — prosperity of the island up to this time. — Fresh forces from Athens — victory of the Athenians near Milêtus. — Fresh Peloponnesian forces arrive — the Athenians retire, pursuant to the strong recommendation of Phrynichus. — Capture of Iasus by the Peloponnesians — rich plunder — Amorgês made prisoner. — Tissaphernês begins to furnish pay to the Peloponnesian fleet. He reduces the rate of pay for the future. — Powerful Athenian fleet at Samos — unexpected renovation of the navy of Athens. — Astyochus at Chios and on the opposite coast. — Pedaritus, Lacedæmonian governor at Chios — disagreement between him and Astyochus. — Astyochus abandons Chios and returns to Milêtus — accident whereby he escaped the Athenian fleet. — The Athenians establish a fortified post in Chios, to ravage the island. — Dorieus arrives on the Asiatic coast with a squadron from Thurii, to join Astyochus — maritime contests near Knidus. — Second Peloponnesian treaty with Tissaphernês, concluded by Astyochus and Theramenês. — Comparison of the second treaty with the first. — Arrival of a fresh Peloponnesian squadron under Antisthenês at Kaunus — Lichas comes out as Spartan commissioner. — Astyochus goes with the fleet from Milêtus to join the newly-arrived squadron — he defeats the Athenian squadron under Charmînus. — Peloponnesian fleet at Knidus — double dealing of Tissaphernês — breach between him and Lichas. — Peloponnesian fleet masters Rhodes, and establishes itself in that island. — Long inaction of the fleet at Rhodes — paralyzing intrigues of Tissaphernês — corruption of the Lacedæmonian officers.

353-402


[p. 1]

HISTORY OF GREECE.


PART II.
CONTINUATION OF HISTORICAL GREECE.


CHAPTER LV.
FROM THE PEACE OF NIKIAS TO THE OLYMPIC FESTIVAL OF OLYMPIAD NINETY.

My last chapter and last volume terminated with the peace called the Peace of Nikias, concluded in March 421 B.C., between Athens and the Spartan confederacy, for fifty years.

This peace—negotiated during the autumn and winter succeeding the defeat of the Athenians at Amphipolis, wherein both Kleon and Brasidas were slain—resulted partly from the extraordinary anxiety of the Spartans to recover their captives who had been taken at Sphakteria, partly from the discouragement of the Athenians, leading them to listen to the peace-party who acted with Nikias. The general principle adopted for the peace was, the restitution by both parties of what had been acquired by war, yet excluding such places as had been surrendered by capitulation: according to which reserve the Athenians, while prevented from recovering Platæa, continued to hold Nisæa, the harbor of Megara. The Lacedæmonians engaged to restore Amphipolis to Athens, and to relinquish their connection with the revolted allies of Athens in Thrace; that is, Argilus, Stageirus, Akanthus, Skôlus, Olynthus, and Spartôlus. These six cities, however, were not to be enrolled as allies of Athens unless they chose voluntarily to become so, but only to pay reg[p. 2]ularly to Athens the tribute originally assessed by Aristeidês, as a sort of recompense for the protection of the Ægean sea against private war or piracy. Any inhabitant of Amphipolis or the other cities, who chose to leave them, was at liberty to do so, and to carry away his property. Farther, the Lacedæmonians covenanted to restore Panaktum to Athens, together with all the Athenian prisoners in their possession. As to Skiônê, Torônê, and Sermylus, the Athenians were declared free to take their own measures. On their part, they engaged to release all captives in their hands, either of Sparta or her allies; to restore Pylus, Kythêra, Methônê, Pteleon, and Atalantê; and to liberate all the Peloponnesian or Brasidean soldiers now under blockade in Skiônê.

Provision was also made, by special articles, that all Greeks should have free access to the sacred Pan-Hellenic festivals, either by land or sea; and that the autonomy of the Delphian temple should be guaranteed.

The contracting parties swore to abstain in future from all injury to each other, and to settle by amicable decision any dispute which might arise.[1]

Lastly, it was provided that if any matter should afterwards occur as having been forgotten, the Athenians and Lacedæmonians might by mutual consent amend the treaty as they thought fit. So prepared, the oaths were interchanged between seventeen principal Athenians and as many principal Lacedæmonians.

Earnestly bent as Sparta herself was upon the peace, and ratified as it had been by the vote of a majority among her confederates, still, there was a powerful minority who not only refused their assent but strenuously protested against its conditions. The Corinthians were discontented because they did not receive back Sollium and Anaktorium; the Megarians, because they did not regain Nisæa; the Bœotians, because Panaktum was to be restored to Athens: the Eleians also on some other ground which we do not distinctly know. All of them, moreover, took common offence at the article which provided that Athens and Sparta might, by mutual consent, and without consulting the allies, amend the treaty in any way that they thought proper.[2][p. 3] Though the peace was sworn, therefore, the most powerful members of the Spartan confederacy remained all recusant.

So strong was the interest of the Spartans themselves, however, that having obtained the favorable vote of the majority, they resolved to carry the peace through, even at the risk of breaking up the confederacy. Besides the earnest desire of recovering their captives from the Athenians, they were farther alarmed by the fact that their truce for thirty years concluded with Argos was just now expiring. They had indeed made application to Argos for renewing it, through Lichas the Spartan proxenus of that city. But the Argeians had refused, except upon the inadmissible condition that the border territory of Kynuria should be ceded to them: there was reason to fear therefore that this new and powerful force might be thrown into the scale of Athens, if war were allowed to continue.[3]

Accordingly, no sooner had the peace been sworn than the Spartans proceeded to execute its provisions. Lots being drawn to determine whether Sparta or Athens should be the first to make the cessions required, the Athenians drew the favorable lot: an advantage so very great, under the circumstances, that Theophrastus affirmed Nikias to have gained the point by bribery. There is no ground for believing such alleged bribery; the rather, as we shall presently find Nikias gratuitously throwing away most of the benefit which the lucky lot conferred.[4]

The Spartans began their compliance by forthwith releasing all the Athenian prisoners in their hands, and despatching Ischagoras with two other envoys to Amphipolis and the Thracian towns. These envoys were directed to proclaim the peace as well as to enforce its observance upon the Thracian towns, and especially to command Klearidas, the Spartan commander in Amphipolis, that he should surrender the town to the Athenians. But on arriving in Thrace, these envoys met with nothing but unanimous opposition: and so energetic were the remonstrances of the Chalkidians, both in Amphipolis and out of it, that even Klearidas refused obedience to his own government, pretending that he was not strong enough to surrender the place against the[p. 4] resistance of the Chalkidians. Thus completely baffled, the envoys returned to Sparta, whither Klearidas thought it prudent to accompany them, partly to explain his own conduct, partly in hopes of being able to procure some modification of the terms. But he found this impossible, and he was sent back to Amphipolis with peremptory orders to surrender the place to the Athenians, if it could possibly be done; if that should prove beyond his force, then to come away, and bring home every Peloponnesian soldier in the garrison. Perhaps the surrender was really impracticable to a force no greater than that which Klearidas commanded, since the reluctance of the population was doubtless obstinate. At any rate, he represented it to be impracticable: the troops accordingly came home, but the Athenians still remained excluded from Amphipolis, and all the stipulations of the peace respecting the Thracian towns remained unperformed. Nor was this all. The envoys from the recusant minority (Corinthians and others), after having gone home for instructions, had now come back to Sparta with increased repugnance and protest against the injustice of the peace, so that all the efforts of the Spartans to bring them to compliance were fruitless.[5]

The latter were now in serious embarrassment. Not having executed their portion of the treaty, they could not demand that Athens should execute hers: and they were threatened with the double misfortune of forfeiting the confidence of their allies without acquiring any one of the advantages of the treaty. In this dilemma they determined to enter into closer relations, and separate relations, with Athens, at all hazard of offending their allies. Of the enmity of Argos, if unaided by Athens, they had little apprehension; while the moment was now favorable for alliance with Athens, from the decided pacific tendencies reigning on both sides, as well as from the known philo-Laconian sentiment of the leaders Nikias and Lachês. The Athenian envoys had remained at Sparta ever since the swearing of the peace, awaiting the fulfilment of the conditions; Nikias or Lachês, one or both, being very probably among them. When they saw that Sparta was unable to fulfil her bond, so that the treaty seemed likely to be cancelled, they would doubtless encourage, and per[p. 5]haps may even have suggested, the idea of a separate alliance between Sparta and Athens, as the only expedient for covering the deficiency; promising that under that alliance the Spartan captives should be restored. Accordingly, a treaty was concluded between the two, for fifty years; not merely of peace, but of defensive alliance. Each party pledged itself to assist in repelling any invaders of the territory of the other, to treat them as enemies, and not to conclude peace with them without the consent of the other. This was the single provision of the alliance, with one addition, however, of no mean importance, for the security of Lacedæmon. The Athenians engaged to lend their best and most energetic aid in putting down any rising of the Helots which might occur in Laconia. Such a provision indicates powerfully the uneasiness felt by the Lacedæmonians respecting their serf-population: but at the present moment it was of peculiar value to them, since it bound the Athenians to restrain, if not to withdraw, the Messenian garrison of Pylos, planted there by themselves for the express purpose of provoking the Helots to revolt.

An alliance with stipulations so few and simple took no long time to discuss. It was concluded very speedily after the return of the envoys from Amphipolis, probably not more than a month or two after the former peace. It was sworn to by the same individuals on both sides; with similar declaration that the oath should be annually renewed, and also with similar proviso that Sparta and Athens might by mutual consent either enlarge or contract the terms, without violating the oath.[6] Moreover, the treaty was directed to be inscribed on two columns: one to be set up in the temple of Apollo at Amyklæ, the other in the temple of Athênê, in the acropolis of Athens.

The most important result of this new alliance was something[p. 6] not specified in its provisions, but understood, we may be well assured, between the Spartan ephors and Nikias at the time when it was concluded. All the Spartan captives at Athens were forthwith restored.[7]

Nothing can demonstrate more powerfully the pacific and acquiescent feeling now reigning at Athens, as well as the strong philo-Laconian inclinations of her leading men (at this moment Alkibiadês was competing with Nikias for the favor of Sparta, as will be stated presently), than the terms of this alliance, which bound Athens to assist in keeping down the Helots, and the still more important after-proceeding, of restoring the Spartan captives. Athens thus parted irrevocably with her best card, and promised to renounce her second best, without obtaining the smallest equivalent beyond what was contained in the oath of Sparta to become her ally. For the last three years and a half, ever since the capture of Sphakteria, the possession of these captives had placed her in a position of decided advantage in regard to her chief enemy; advantage, however, which had to a certain extent been countervailed by subsequent losses. This state of things was fairly enough represented by the treaty of peace deliberately discussed during the winter, and sworn to at the commencement of spring, whereby a string of concessions, reciprocal and balancing, had been imposed on both parties. Moreover, Athens had been lucky enough in drawing lots to find herself enabled to wait for the actual fulfilment of such concessions by the Spartans, before she consummated her own. Now the Spartans had not as yet realized any one of their promised concessions: nay, more; in trying to do so, they had displayed such a want either of power or of will, as made it plain, that nothing short of the most stringent necessity would convert their promises into realities. Yet, under these marked indications, Nikias persuades his countrymen to conclude a second treaty which practically annuls the first, and which insures to the Spartans gratuitously all the main benefits of the first, with little or none of the correlative sacrifices. The alliance of Sparta could hardly be said to count as a consideration: for that alliance was at this moment, under the uncertain relations with Argos,[p. 7] not less valuable to Sparta herself than to Athens. There can be little doubt that, if the game of Athens had now been played with prudence, she might have recovered Amphipolis in exchange for the captives: for the inability of Klearidas to make over the place, even if we grant it to have been a real fact and not merely simulated, might have been removed by decisive coöperation on the part of Sparta with an Athenian armament sent to occupy the place. In fact, that which Athens was now induced to grant was precisely the original proposition transmitted to her by the Lacedæmonians four years before, when the hoplites were first inclosed in Sphakteria, but before the actual capture. They then tendered no equivalent, but merely said, through their envoys, “Give us the men in the island, and accept in exchange peace, together with our alliance.”[8] At that moment there were some plausible reasons in favor of granting the proposition: but even then, the case of Kleon against it was also plausible and powerful, when he contended that Athens was entitled to make a better bargain. But now, there were no reasons in its favor, and a strong concurrence of reasons against it. Alliance with the Spartans was of no great value to Athens: peace was of material importance to her; but peace had been already sworn to on both sides, after deliberate discussion, and required now only to be carried into execution. That equal reciprocity of concession, which presented the best chance of permanent result, had been agreed on; and fortune had procured for her the privilege of receiving the purchase-money before she handed over the goods. Why renounce so advantageous a position, accepting in exchange a hollow and barren alliance, under the obligation of handing over her most precious merchandise upon credit, and upon credit as delusive in promise as it afterwards proved unproductive in reality? The alliance, in fact, prevented the peace from being fulfilled: it became, as Thucydidês himself[9] admits, no peace, but a simple suspension of direct hostilities.

Thucydidês states on more than one occasion, and it was the[p. 8] sentiment of Nikias himself, that at the moment of concluding the peace which bears his name, the position of Sparta was one of disadvantage and dishonor in reference to Athens;[10] alluding chiefly to the captives in the hands of the latter; for as to other matters, the defeats of Delium and Amphipolis, with the serious losses in Thrace, would more than countervail the acquisitions of Nisæa, Pylus, Kythêra, and Methônê. Yet so inconsiderate and short-sighted were the philo-Laconian leanings of Nikias and the men who now commanded confidence at Athens, that they threw away this advantage, suffered Athens to be cheated of all those hopes which they had themselves held out as the inducement for peace, and nevertheless yielded gratuitously to Sparta all the main points which she desired. Most certainly there was never any public recommendation of Kleon, as far as our information goes, so ruinously impolitic as this alliance with Sparta and surrender of the captives, wherein both Nikias and Alkibiadês concurred. Probably the Spartan ephors amused Nikias, and he amused the Athenian assembly, with fallacious assurances of certain obedience in Thrace, under alleged peremptory orders given to Klearidas. And now that the vehement leather-dresser, with his criminative eloquence, had passed away, replaced only by an inferior successor, the lamp-maker[11] Hyperbolus, and leaving the Athenian public under the undisputed guidance of citizens eminent for birth and station, descended from gods and heroes, there remained no one to expose effectively the futility of such assurances, or to enforce the lesson of simple and obvious prudence: “Wait, as you are entitled to wait, until the Spartans have performed the onerous part of their bargain, before you perform the onerous part of yours. Or, if you choose to relax in regard to some of the concessions which they have sworn to make, at any rate stick to the capital point of all, and lay before them the peremptory alternative—Amphipolis in exchange for the captives.”

[p. 9]

The Athenians were not long in finding out how completely they had forfeited the advantage of their position, and their chief means of enforcement, by giving up the captives; which imparted a freedom of action to Sparta such as she had never enjoyed since the first blockade of Sphakteria. Yet it seems that under the present ephors Sparta was not guilty of any deliberate or positive act which could be called a breach of faith. She gave orders to Klearidas to surrender Amphipolis if he could; if not, to evacuate it, and bring the Peloponnesian troops home. Of course, the place was not surrendered to the Athenians, but evacuated; and she then considered that she had discharged her duty to Athens, as far as Amphipolis was concerned, though she had sworn to restore it, and her oath remained unperformed.[12] The other Thracian towns were equally deaf to her persuasions, and equally obstinate in their hostility to Athens. So also were the Bœotians, Corinthians, Megarians, and Eleians: but the Bœotians, while refusing to become parties to the truce along with Sparta, concluded for themselves a separate convention or armistice with Athens, terminable at ten days’ notice on either side.[13]

In this state of things, though ostensible relations of peace and free reciprocity of intercourse between Athens and Peloponnesus were established, the discontent of the Athenians, and the remonstrances of their envoys at Sparta, soon became serious. The Lacedæmonians had sworn for themselves and their allies, yet the most powerful among these allies, and those whose enmity was most important to Athens, continued still recusant. Neither Panaktum, nor the Athenian prisoners in Bœotia, were yet restored to Athens; nor had the Thracian cities yet submitted to the peace. In reply to the remonstrances of the Athenian envoys, the Lacedæmonians affirmed that they had already surrendered all the Athenian prisoners in their own hands, and had withdrawn their troops from Thrace, which was, they said, all the intervention in their power, since they were not masters of Amphipolis, nor capable of constraining the Thracian cities against their will. As to the Bœotians and Corinthians, the Lacedæmonians went so[p. 10] far as to profess readiness to take arms along with Athens,[14] for the purpose of constraining them to accept the peace, and even spoke about naming a day, after which these recusant states should be proclaimed as joint enemies, both by Sparta and Athens. But their propositions were always confined to vague words, nor would they consent to bind themselves by any written or peremptory instrument. Nevertheless, so great was their confidence either in the sufficiency of these assurances, or in the facility of Nikias, that they ventured to require from Athens the surrender of Pylus, or at least the withdrawal of the Messenian garrison with the Helot deserters from that place, leaving in it none but native Athenian soldiers, until farther progress should be made in the peace. But the feeling of the Athenians was now seriously altered, and they received this demand with marked coldness. None of the stipulations of the treaty in their favor had yet been performed, none even seemed in course of being performed: so that they now began to suspect Sparta of dishonesty and deceit, and deeply regretted their inconsiderate surrender of the captives.[15] Their remonstrances at Sparta, often repeated during the course of the summer, produced no positive effect: nevertheless, they suffered themselves to be persuaded to remove the Messenians and Helots from Pylus to Kephallenia, replacing them by an Athenian garrison.[16]

The Athenians had doubtless good reason to complain of Sparta. But the persons of whom they had still better reason to complain, were Nikias and their own philo-Laconian leaders; who had first accepted from Sparta promises doubtful as to execution, and next—though favored by the lot in regard to priority of cession, and thus acquiring proof that Sparta either would not or could not perform her promises—renounced all these advantages, and[p. 11] procured for Sparta almost gratuitously the only boon for which she seriously cared. The many critics on Grecian history, who think no term too harsh for the demagogue Kleon, ought in fairness to contrast his political counsel with that of his rivals, and see which of the two betokens greater forethought in the management of the foreign relations of Athens. Amphipolis had been once lost by the improvident watch of Thucydidês and Euklês: it was now again lost by the improvident concessions of Nikias.

So much was the Peloponnesian alliance unhinged by the number of states which had refused the peace, and so greatly was the ascendency of Sparta for the time impaired, that new combinations were now springing up in the peninsula. It has already been mentioned that the truce between Argos and Sparta was just now expiring: Argos therefore was free, with her old pretensions to the headship of Peloponnesus, backed by an undiminished fulness of wealth, power, and population. Having taken no direct part in the late exhausting war, she had even earned money by lending occasional aid on both sides;[17] while her military force was just now farther strengthened by a step of very considerable importance. She had recently set apart a body of a thousand select hoplites, composed of young men of wealth and station, to receive constant military training at the public expense, and to be enrolled as a separate regiment by themselves, apart from the other citizens.[18] To a democratical government like Argos, such[p. 12] an institution was internally dangerous, and pregnant with mischief, which will be hereafter described. But at the present moment, the democratical leaders of Argos seem to have thought only of the foreign relations of their city, now that her truce with Sparta was expiring, and that the disorganized state of the Spartan confederacy opened new chances to her ambition of regaining something like headship in Peloponnesus.

The discontent of the recusant Peloponnesian allies was now inducing them to turn their attention towards Argos as a new chief. They had mistrusted Sparta, even before the peace, well knowing that she had separate interests from the confederacy, arising from desire to get back her captives: in the terms of peace, it seemed as if Sparta and Athens alone were regarded, the interests of the remaining allies, especially those in Thrace, being put out of sight. Moreover, that article in the treaty of peace whereby it was provided that Athens and Sparta might by mutual consent add or strike out any article that they chose, without consulting the allies, excited general alarm, as if Sparta were meditating some treason in conjunction with Athens against the confederacy.[19] And the alarm, once roused, was still farther aggravated by the separate treaty of alliance between Sparta and Athens, which followed so closely afterwards, as well as by the restoration of the Spartan captives.

Such general displeasure among the Peloponnesian states at the unexpected combination of Athenians and Lacedæmonians, strengthened in the case of each particular state by private interests of its own, first manifested itself openly through the Corinthians. On retiring from the conferences at Sparta,—where the recent alliance between the Athenians and Spartans had just been made known, and where the latter had vainly endeavored to prevail upon their allies to accept the peace,—the Corinthians went straight to Argos to communicate what had passed, and to solicit interference. They suggested to the leading men in that[p. 13] city, that it was now the duty of Argos to step forward as saviour of Peloponnesus, which the Lacedæmonians were openly betraying to the common enemy, and to invite for that purpose, into alliance for reciprocal defence, every autonomous Hellenic state which would bind itself to give and receive amicable satisfaction in all points of difference. They affirmed that many cities, from hatred of Sparta, would gladly comply with such invitation; especially if a board of commissioners in small number were named, with full powers to admit all suitable applicants; so that, in case of rejection, there might at least be no exposure before the public assembly in the Argeian democracy. This suggestion—privately made by the Corinthians, who returned home immediately afterwards—was eagerly adopted both by leaders and people at Argos, as promising to realize their long-cherished pretensions to headship. Twelve commissioners were accordingly appointed, with power to admit any new allies whom they might think eligible, except Athens and Sparta. With either of those two cities, no treaty was allowed without the formal sanction of the public assembly.[20]

Meanwhile, the Corinthians, though they had been the first to set the Argeians in motion, nevertheless thought it right, before enrolling themselves publicly in the new alliance, to invite a congress of Peloponnesian malcontents to Corinth. It was the Mantineians who made the first application to Argos under the notice just issued. And here we are admitted to a partial view of the relations among the secondary and interior states of Peloponnesus. Mantineia and Tegea, being conterminous as well as the two most considerable states in Arcadia, were in perpetual rivalry, which had shown itself only a year and a half before in a bloody but indecisive battle.[21] Tegea, situated on the frontiers of Laconia, and oligarchically governed, was tenaciously attached to Sparta: while for that very reason, as well as from the democratical character of her government, Mantineia was less so, though she was still enrolled in and acted as a member of the Peloponnesian confederacy. She had recently conquered for herself[22] a little empire in her own neighborhood, composed of[p. 14] village districts in Arcadia, reckoned as her subject allies, and comrades in her ranks at the last battle with Tegea. This conquest had been made even during the continuance of the war with Athens; a period when the lesser states of Peloponnesus generally, and even subject-states as against their own imperial states, were under the guarantee of the confederacy, to which they were required to render their unpaid service against the common enemy; so that she was apprehensive of Lacedæmonian interference at the request and for the emancipation of these subjects, who lay, moreover, near to the borders of Laconia. Such interference would probably have been invoked earlier; only that Sparta had been under pressing embarrassments—and farther, had assembled no general muster of the confederacy against Athens—ever since the disaster in Sphakteria. But now she had her hands free, together with a good pretext as well as motive for interference.

To maintain the autonomy of all the little states, and prevent any of them from being mediatized or grouped into aggregations under the ascendency of the greater, had been the general policy of Sparta; especially since her own influence as general leader was increased by insuring to every lesser state a substantive vote at the meetings of the confederacy.[23] Moreover, the rivalry of Tegea would probably operate here as an auxiliary motive against Mantineia. Under such apprehensions, the Mantineians hastened to court the alliance and protection of Argos, with whom they enjoyed the additional sympathy of a common democracy. Such revolt from Sparta[24] (for so it was considered) excited great sensation throughout Peloponnesus, together with considerable disposition, amidst the discontent then prevalent, to follow the example.

[p. 15]

In particular, it contributed much to enhance the importance of the congress at Corinth; whither the Lacedæmonians thought it necessary to send special envoys to counteract the intrigues going on against them. Their envoy addressed to the Corinthians strenuous remonstrance, and even reproach, for the leading part which they had taken in stirring up dissension among the old confederates, and organizing a new confederacy under the presidency of Argos. “They (the Corinthians) were thus aggravating the original guilt and perjury which they had committed by setting at nought the formal vote of a majority of the confederacy, and refusing to accept the peace,—for it was the sworn and fundamental maxim of the confederacy, that the decision of the majority should be binding on all, except in such cases as involved some offence to gods or heroes.” Encouraged by the presence of many sympathizing deputies, Bœotian, Megarian, Chalkidian from Thrace,[25] etc., the Corinthians replied with firmness. But they did not think it good policy to proclaim their real ground for rejecting the peace, namely, that it had not procured for themselves the restoration of Sollium and Anaktorium: since, first, this was a question in which their allies present had no interest; next, it did not furnish any valid excuse for their resistance to the vote of the majority. Accordingly, they took their stand upon a pretence at once generous and religious; upon that reserve for religious scruples, which the Lacedæmonian envoy had himself admitted, and which of course was to be construed by each member with reference to his own pious feeling. “It was a religious impediment (the Corinthians contended) which prevented us from acceding to the peace with Athens, notwithstanding the vote of the majority; for we had previously exchanged oaths, ourselves apart from the confederacy, with the Chalkidians of Thrace at the time when they revolted from Athens: and we should have infringed those separate oaths, had we accepted a treaty of peace in which these Chalkidians were abandoned. As for alliance with Argos, we consider ourselves free to adopt any[p. 16] resolution which we may deem suitable, after consultation with our friends here present.” With this unsatisfactory answer the Lacedæmonian envoys were compelled to return home. Yet some Argeian envoys, who were also present in the assembly for the purpose of urging the Corinthians to realize forthwith the hopes of alliance which they had held out to Argos, were still unable on their side to obtain a decided affirmative, being requested to come again at the next conference.[26]

Though the Corinthians had themselves originated the idea of the new Argeian confederacy and compromised Argos in an open proclamation, yet they now hesitated about the execution of their own scheme. They were restrained in part doubtless by the bitterness of Lacedæmonian reproof; for the open consummation of this revolt, apart from its grave political consequences, shocked a train of very old feelings; but still more by the discovery that their friends, who agreed with them in rejecting the peace, decidedly refused all open revolt from Sparta and all alliance with Argos. In this category were the Bœotians and Megarians. Both of these states—left to their own impression and judgment by the Lacedæmonians, who did not address to them any distinct appeal as they had done to the Corinthians—spontaneously turned away from Argos, not less from aversion towards the Argeian democracy than from sympathy with the oligarchy at Sparta:[27] they were linked together by[p. 17] communion of interest, not merely as being both neighbors and intense enemies of Attica, but as each having a body of democratical exiles who might perhaps find encouragement at Argos. Discouraged by the resistance of these two important allies, the Corinthians hung back from visiting Argos, until they were pushed forward by a new accidental impulse, the application of the Eleians; who, eagerly embracing the new project, sent envoys first to conclude alliance with the Corinthians, and next to go on and enroll Elis as an ally of Argos. This incident so[p. 18] confirmed the Corinthians in their previous scheme, that they speedily went to Argos, along with the Chalkidians of Thrace, to join the new confederacy.

The conduct of Elis, like that of Mantineia, in thus revolting from Sparta, had been dictated by private grounds of quarrel, arising out of relations with their dependent ally Lepreum. The Lepreates had become dependent on Elis some time before the beginning of the Peloponnesian war, in consideration of aid lent by the Eleians to extricate them from a dangerous war against some Arcadian enemies. To purchase such aid, they had engaged to cede to the Eleians half their territory; but had been left in residence and occupation of it, under the stipulation of paying one talent yearly as tribute to the Olympian Zeus; in other words, to the Eleians as his stewards. When the Peloponnesian war began,[28] and the Lacedæmonians began to call for the unpaid service of the Peloponnesian cities generally, small as well as great, against Athens, the Lepreates were, by the standing agreement of the confederacy, exempted for the time from continuing to pay their tribute to Elis. Such exemption ceased with the war; at the close of which Elis became entitled, under the same agreement, to resume the suspended tribute. She accordingly required that the payment should then be recommenced: but the Lepreates refused, and when she proceeded to apply force, threw themselves on the protection of Sparta, by whose decision the Eleians themselves at first agreed to abide, having the general agreement of the confederacy decidedly in their favor. But it presently appeared that Sparta was more disposed to carry out her general system of favoring the autonomy of the lesser states, than to enforce the positive agreement of the confederacy. Accordingly the Eleians, accusing her of unjust bias, renounced her authority as arbitrator, and sent a military force to occupy Lepreum. Nevertheless, the Spartans persisted in their adjudication, pronounced Lepreum to be autonomous, and sent a body of their own hoplites to defend it against[p. 19] the Eleians. The latter loudly protested against this proceeding, and pronounced the Lacedæmonians as having robbed them of one of their dependencies, contrary to that agreement which had been adopted by the general confederacy when the war began,—to the effect that each imperial city should receive back at the end of the war all the dependencies which it possessed at the beginning, on condition of waiving its title to tribute and military service from them so long as the war lasted. After fruitless remonstrances with Sparta, the Eleians eagerly embraced the opportunity now offered of revolting from her, and of joining the new league with Corinth and Argos.[29]

That new league, including Argos, Corinth, Elis, and Mantineia, had now acquired such strength and confidence, that the Argeians and Corinthians proceeded on a joint embassy to Tegea to obtain the junction of that city, seemingly the most[p. 20] powerful in Peloponnesus next to Sparta and Argos. What grounds they had for expecting success we are not told. The mere fact of Mantineia having joined Argos, seemed likely to deter Tegea, as the rival Arcadian power, from doing the same: and so it proved, for the Tegeans decidedly refused the proposal, not without strenuous protestations that they would stand by Sparta in everything. The Corinthians were greatly disheartened by this repulse, which they had by no means expected, having been so far misled by general expressions of discontent against Sparta as to believe that they could transfer nearly the whole body of confederates to Argos. But they now began to despair of all farther extension of Argeian headship, and even to regard their own position as insecure on the side of Athens; with whom they were not at peace, while by joining Argos they had forfeited their claim upon Sparta and all her confederacy, including Bœotia and Megara. In this embarrassment they betook themselves to the Bœotians, whom they again entreated to join them in the Argeian alliance: a request already once refused, and not likely to be now granted, but intended to usher in a different request preferred at the same time. The Bœotians were entreated to accompany the Corinthians to Athens, and obtain for them from the Athenians an armistice terminable at ten days’ notice, such as that which they had contracted for themselves. In case of refusal, they were farther entreated to throw up their own agreement, and to conclude no other without the concurrence of the Corinthians. So far the Bœotians complied, as to go to Athens with the Corinthians, and back their application for an armistice, which the Athenians declined to grant, saying that the Corinthians were already included in the general peace, if they were allies of Sparta. On receiving this answer the Corinthians entreated the Bœotians, putting it as a matter of obligation, to renounce their own armistice, and make common cause as to all future compact. But this request was steadily refused. The Bœotians maintained their ten days’ armistice; and the Corinthians were obliged to acquiesce in their existing condition of peace de facto, though not guaranteed by any pledge of Athens.[30]

[p. 21]

Meanwhile the Lacedæmonians were not unmindful of the affront which they had sustained by the revolt of Mantineia and Elis. At the request of a party among the Parrhasii, the Arcadian subjects of Mantineia, they marched under king Pleistoanax into that territory, and compelled the Mantineians to evacuate the fort which they had erected within it; which the latter were unable to defend, though they received a body of Argeian troops to guard their city, and were thus enabled to march their whole force to the threatened spot. Besides liberating the Arcadian subjects of Mantineia, the Lacedæmonians also planted an additional body of Helots and Neodamodes at Lepreum, as a defence and means of observation on the frontiers of Elis.[31] These were the Brasidean soldiers, whom Klearidas had now brought back from Thrace. The Helots among them had been manumitted as a reward, and allowed to reside where they chose. But as they had imbibed lessons of bravery under their distinguished commander, their presence would undoubtedly be dangerous among the serfs of Laconia: hence the disposition of the Lacedæmonians to plant them out. We may recollect that not very long before, they had caused two thousand of the most soldierly Helots to be secretly assassinated, without any ground of suspicion against these victims personally, but simply from fear of the whole body and of course greater fear of the bravest.[32]

[p. 22]

It was not only against danger from the returning Brasidean Helots that the Lacedæmonians had to guard, but also against danger—real or supposed—from their own Spartan captives, liberated by Athens at the conclusion of the recent alliance. Though the surrender of Sphakteria had been untarnished by any dishonor, nevertheless these men could hardly fail to be looked upon as degraded, in the eyes of Spartan pride; or at least they might fancy that they were so looked upon, and thus become discontented. Some of them were already in the exercise of various functions, when the ephors contracted suspicions of their designs, and condemned them all to temporary disqualification for any official post, placing the whole of their property under trust-management, and interdicting them, like minors, from every act either of purchase or sale.[33] This species of disfranchisement lasted for a considerable time; but the sufferers were at length relieved from it, the danger being supposed to be over. The nature of the interdict confirms, what we know directly from Thucydidês, that many of these captives were among the first and wealthiest families in the state, and the ephors may have apprehended that they would employ their wealth in acquiring partisans and organizing revolt among the Helots. We have no facts to enable us to appreciate the situation; but the ungenerous spirit of the regulation, as applied to brave warriors recently come home from a long imprisonment—justly pointed out by modern historians—would not weigh much with the ephors under any symptoms of public danger.

Of the proceedings of the Athenians during this summer we hear nothing, except that the town of Skiônê at length surrendered to them after a long-continued blockade, and that they put to death the male population of military age, selling the women and children into slavery. The odium of having proposed this cruel resolution two years and a half before, belongs to Kleon; that of executing it, nearly a year after his death, to the leaders who succeeded him, and to his countrymen generally. The reader will, however, now be sufficiently accustomed to the Greek laws of war not to be surprised at such treatment against[p. 23] subjects revolted and reconquered. Skiônê and its territory was made over to the Platæan refugees. The native population of Delos, also, who had been removed from that sacred spot during the preceding year, under the impression that they were too impure for the discharge of the sacerdotal functions, were now restored to their island. The subsequent defeat of Amphipolis had created a belief at Athens that this removal had offended the gods; under which impression, confirmed by the Delphian oracle, the Athenians now showed their repentance by restoring the Delian exiles.[34] They farther lost the towns of Thyssus on the peninsula of Athos, and Mekyberna on the Sithonian gulf, which were captured by the Chalkidians of Thrace.[35]

Meanwhile the political relations throughout the powerful Grecian states remained all provisional and undetermined. The alliance still subsisted between Sparta and Athens, yet with continual complaints on the part of the latter that the prior treaty remained unfulfilled. The members of the Spartan confederacy were discontented; some had seceded, and others seemed likely to do the same; while Argos, ambitious to supplant Sparta, was trying to put herself at the head of a new confederacy, though as yet with very partial success. Hitherto, however, the authorities of Sparta—king Pleistoanax as well as the ephors of the year—had been sincerely desirous to maintain the Athenian alliance, so far as it could be done without sacrifice, and without the real employment of force against recusants, of which they had merely talked in order to amuse the Athenians. Moreover, the prodigious advantage which they had gained by recovering the prisoners, doubtless making them very popular at home, would attach them the more firmly to their own measure. But at the close of the summer—seemingly about the end of September or beginning of October, B.C. 421—the year of these ephors expired, and new ephors were nominated for the ensuing year. Under the existing state of things this was an important revolution: for out of the five new ephors, two—Kleobûlus and Xenarês—were decidedly hostile to peace with Athens, and[p. 24] the remaining three apparently indifferent.[36] And we may here remark, that this fluctuation and instability of public policy, which is often denounced as if it were the peculiar attribute of a democracy, occurs quite as much under the constitutional monarchy of Sparta, the least popular government in Greece, both in principle and detail.

The new ephors convened a special congress at Sparta for the settlement of the pending differences, at which among the rest Athenian, Bœotian, and Corinthian envoys were all present. But, after prolonged debates, no approach was made to agreement; so that the congress was on the point of breaking up, when Kleobûlus and Xenarês, together with many of their partisans,[37] originated, in concert with the Bœotian and Corinthian deputies, a series of private underhand manœuvres for the dissolution of the Athenian alliance. This was to be effected by bringing about a separate alliance between Argos and Sparta, which the Spartans sincerely desired, and would grasp at in preference, so these ephors affirmed, even if it cost them the breach of their new tie with Athens. The Bœotians were urged, first to become allies of Argos themselves, and then to bring Argos into alliance with Sparta. But it was farther essential that they should give up Panaktum to Sparta, so that it might be tendered to the Athenians in exchange for Pylos; for Sparta could not easily go to war with them while they remained masters of the latter.[38]

Such were the plans which Kleobûlus and Xenarês laid with the Corinthian and Bœotian deputies, and which the latter went home prepared to execute. Chance seemed to favor the purpose at once: for on their road home, they were accosted by two Argeians, senators in their own city, who expressed an earnest anxiety to bring about alliance between the Bœotians and Argos. The Bœotian deputies, warmly encouraging this idea, urged the Argeians to send envoys to Thebes as solicitors of the alliance; and communicated to the bœotarchs, on their arrival at home, both the plans laid by the Spartan ephors and the wishes of these[p. 25] Argeians. The bœotarchs also entered heartily into the entire scheme; receiving the Argeian envoys with marked favor, and promising, as soon as they should have obtained the requisite sanction, to send envoys of their own and ask for alliance with Argos.

That sanction was to be obtained from “the Four Senates of the Bœotians;” bodies, of the constitution of which nothing is known. But they were usually found so passive and acquiescent that the bœotarchs, reckoning upon their assent as a matter of course, even without any full exposition of reasons, laid all their plans accordingly.[39] They proposed to these four Senates a resolution in general terms, empowering themselves in the name of the Bœotian federation to exchange oaths of alliance with any Grecian city which might be willing to contract on terms mutually beneficial: their particular object being, as they stated, to form alliance with the Corinthians, Megarians, and Chalkidians of Thrace, for mutual defence, and for war as well as peace with others only by common consent. To this specific object they anticipated no resistance on the part of the Senates, inasmuch as their connection with Corinth had always been intimate, while the position of the four parties named was the same, all being recusants of the recent peace. But the resolution was advisedly couched in the most comprehensive terms, in order that it might authorize them to proceed farther afterwards, and conclude alliance on the part of the Bœotians and Megarians with Argos; that ulterior purpose being however for the present kept back, because alliance with Argos was a novelty which might surprise and alarm the Senates. The manœuvre, skilfully contrived for entrapping these bodies into an approval of measures which they never contemplated, illustrates the manner in which an oligarchical executive could elude the checks devised to control its proceedings. But the bœotarchs, to their astonishment, found themselves defeated at the outset: for the Senates would not even hear of alliance with Corinth, so much did they fear to offend Sparta by any special connection with a city which had[p. 26] revolted from her. Nor did the bœotarchs think it safe to divulge their communications with Kleobûlus and Xenarês, or to acquaint the Senates that the whole plan originated with a powerful party in Sparta herself. Accordingly, under this formal refusal on the part of the Senates, no farther proceedings could be taken. The Corinthian and Chalkidian envoys left Thebes, while the promise of sending Bœotian envoys to Argos remained unexecuted.[40]

But the anti-Athenian ephors at Sparta, though baffled in their schemes for arriving at the Argeian alliance through the agency of the Bœotians, did not the less persist in their views upon Panaktum. That place—a frontier fortress in the mountainous range between Attica and Bœotia, apparently on the Bœotian side of Phylê, and on or near the direct road from Athens to Thebes which led through Phylê[41]—had been an Athenian possession, until six months before the peace, when it had been treacherously betrayed to the Bœotians.[42] A special provision of the treaty between Athens and Sparta, prescribed that it should be restored to Athens; and Lacedæmonian envoys were now sent on an express mission to Bœotia, to request from the Bœotians the delivery of Panaktum as well as of their Athenian captives, in order that by tendering these to Athens she might be induced to surrender Pylos. The Bœotians refused compliance with this request, except on condition that Sparta should enter into special alliance with them as she had done with the Athenians. Now the Spartans stood pledged by their covenant with the latter, either by its terms or by its recognized import, not to enter into any new alliance without their consent. But they were eagerly bent upon getting possession of Panaktum; while the prospect of breach with Athens, far from being a deterring motive, was exactly that which Kleobûlus and Xenarês desired. Under these feelings, the Lacedæmonians consented to and swore the special alliance with Bœotia. But the Bœotians, instead of handing over Panaktum for surrender, as they had promised, immediately razed the fortress to the ground; under pretence of some ancient[p. 27] oaths which had been exchanged between their ancestors and the Athenians, to the effect that the district round it should always remain without resident inhabitants, as a neutral strip of borderland, and under common pasture.

These negotiations, after having been in progress throughout the winter, ended in the accomplishment of the alliance and the destruction of Panaktum at the beginning of spring or about the middle of March. And while the Lacedæmonian ephors thus seemed to be carrying their point on the side of Bœotia, they were agreeably surprised by an unexpected encouragement to their views from another quarter. An embassy arrived at Sparta from Argos, to solicit renewal of the peace just expiring. The Argeians found that they made no progress in the enlargement of their newly-formed confederacy, while their recent disappointment with the Bœotians made them despair of realizing their ambitious projects of Peloponnesian headship. But when they learned that the Lacedæmonians had concluded a separate alliance with the Bœotians, and that Panaktum had been razed, their disappointment was converted into positive alarm for the future. Naturally inferring that this new alliance would not have been concluded except in concert with Athens, they interpreted the whole proceeding as indicating that Sparta had prevailed upon the Bœotians to accept the peace with Athens, the destruction of Panaktum being conceived as a compromise to obviate disputes respecting possession. Under such a persuasion,—noway unreasonable in itself, when the two contracting governments, both oligarchical and both secret, furnished no collateral evidence to explain their real intent,—the Argeians saw themselves excluded from alliance not merely with Bœotia, Sparta, and Tegea, but also with Athens; which latter city they had hitherto regarded as a sure resort in case of hostility with Sparta. Without a moment’s delay, they despatched Eustrophus and Æson, two Argeians much esteemed at Sparta, and perhaps proxeni of that city, to press for a renewal of their expiring truce with the Spartans, and to obtain the best terms they could.

To the Lacedæmonian ephors this application was eminently acceptable, the very event which they had been manœuvring underhand to bring about: and negotiations were opened, in which the Argeian envoys at first proposed that the disputed[p. 28] possession of Thyrea should be referred to arbitration. But they found their demand met by a peremptory negative, the Lacedæmonians refusing to enter upon such a discussion, and insisting upon simple renewal of the peace now at an end. At last the Argeian envoys, eagerly bent upon keeping the question respecting Thyrea open, in some way or other, prevailed upon the Lacedæmonians to assent to the following singular agreement. Peace was concluded between Athens and Sparta for fifty years; but if at any moment within that interval, excluding either periods of epidemic or periods of war, it should suit the views of either party to provoke a combat by chosen champions of equal number for the purpose of determining the right to Thyrea, there was to be full liberty of doing so; the combat to take place within the territory of Thyrea itself, and the victors to be interdicted from pursuing the vanquished beyond the undisputed border of either territory. It will be recollected, that about one hundred and twenty years before this date, there had been a combat of this sort by three hundred champions on each side, in which, after desperate valor on both sides, the victory as well as the disputed right still remained undetermined. The proposition made by the Argeians was a revival of this old practice of judicial combat: nevertheless, such was the alteration which the Greek mind had undergone during the interval, that it now appeared a perfect absurdity, even in the eyes of the Lacedæmonians, the most old-fashioned people in Greece.[43] Yet since they hazarded nothing, practically, by so vague a concession, and were supremely anxious to make their relations smooth with Argos, in contemplation of a breach with Athens, they at last agreed to the condition, drew up the treaty, and placed it in the hands of the envoys to carry back to Argos. Formal acceptance and ratification, by the Argeian public assembly, was necessary to give it validity: should this be granted, the envoys were invited to return to Sparta at[p. 29] the festival of the Hyakinthia, and there go through the solemnity of the oaths.

Amidst such strange crossing of purposes and interests, the Spartan ephors seemed now to have carried all their points; friendship with Argos, breach with Athens, and yet the means—through the possession of Panaktum—of procuring from Athens the cession of Pylos. But they were not yet on firm ground. For when their deputies, Andromedês and two colleagues, arrived in Bœotia for the purpose of going on to Athens and prosecuting the negotiation about Panaktum, at the time when Eustrophus and Æson were carrying on their negotiation at Sparta, they discovered for the first time that the Bœotians, instead of performing their promise to hand over Panaktum, had razed it to the ground. This was a serious blow to their chance of success at Athens: nevertheless, Andromedês proceeded thither, taking with him all the Athenian captives in Bœotia. These he restored at Athens, at the same time announcing the demolition of Panaktum as a fact: Panaktum as well as the prisoners was thus restored, he pretended; for the Athenians would not now find a single enemy in the place: and he claimed the cession of Pylos in exchange.[44]

But he soon found that the final term of Athenian compliance had been reached. It was probably on this occasion that the separate alliance concluded between Sparta and the Bœotians first became discovered at Athens; since not only were the proceedings of these oligarchical governments habitually secret, but there was a peculiar motive for keeping this alliance concealed until the discussion about Panaktum and Pylos had been brought to a close. Both this alliance, and the demolition of Panaktum, excited among the Athenians the strongest marks of disgust and anger; aggravated probably rather than softened by the quibble of Andromedês, that demolition of the fort, being tantamount to restitution, and precluding any farther tenancy by the enemy, was a substantial satisfaction of the treaty; and aggravated still farther by the recollection of all the other unperformed items in the treaty. A whole year had now elapsed, amidst frequent notes and protocols, to employ a modern phrase; yet not one of[p. 30] the conditions favorable to Athens had yet been executed, except the restitution of her captives, seemingly not many in number; while she on her side had made to Sparta the capital cession on which almost everything hinged. A long train of accumulated indignation, brought to a head by this mission of Andromedês, discharged itself in the harshest dismissal and rebuke of himself and his colleagues.[45]

Even Nikias, Lachês, and the other leading men, to whose improvident facility and misjudgment the embarrassment of the moment was owing, were probably not much behind the general public in exclamation against Spartan perfidy, if it were only to divert attention from their own mistake. But there was one of them—Alkibiadês son of Kleinias—who took this opportunity of putting himself at the head of the vehement anti-Laconian sentiment which now agitated the ekklesia, and giving to it a substantive aim.

The present is the first occasion on which we hear of this remarkable man as taking a prominent part in public life. He was now about thirty-one or thirty-two years old, which in Greece was considered an early age for a man to exercise important command. But such was the splendor, wealth, and antiquity of his family, of Æakid lineage through the heroes Eurysakês and Ajax, and such the effect of that lineage upon the democratical public of Athens,[46] that he stepped speedily and easily into a conspicuous station. Belonging also through his mother Deinomachê to the gens of the Alkmæonidæ, he was related to Periklês, who became his guardian when he was left an orphan at about five years old, along with his younger brother Kleinias. It was at that time that their father Kleinias was slain at the battle of Koroneia, having already served with honor in a trireme of his[p. 31] own at the sea-fight of Artemisium against the Persians. A Spartan nurse named Amykla was provided for the young Alkibiadês, and a slave named Zopyrus chosen by his distinguished guardian to watch over him; but even his boyhood was utterly ungovernable, and Athens was full of his freaks and enormities, to the unavailing regret of Periklês and his brother Ariphron.[47] His violent passions, love of enjoyment, ambition of preëminence, and insolence towards others,[48] were manifested at an early age, and never deserted him throughout his life. His finished beauty of person both as boy, youth, and mature man, caused him to be much run after by women,[49] and even by women of generally reserved habits. Moreover, even before the age when such temptations were usually presented, the beauty of his earlier youth, while going through the ordinary gymnastic training, procured for him assiduous caresses, compliments, and solicitations of every sort, from the leading Athenians who frequented the public palæstræ. These men not only endured his petulance, but were even flattered when he would condescend to bestow it upon them. Amidst such universal admiration and indulgence, amidst corrupting influences exercised from so many quarters and from so early an age, combined with great wealth and the highest position, it was not likely that either self-restraint or regard for the welfare of others would ever acquire development in the mind of Alkibiadês. The anecdotes which fill his biography reveal the utter absence of both these constituent elements of morality; and though, in regard to the particular stories, allowance must doubtless be made for scandal and exaggeration, yet the general type[p. 32] of character stands plainly marked and sufficiently established in all.

A dissolute life, and an immoderate love of pleasure in all its forms, is what we might naturally expect from a young man so circumstanced; and it appears that with him these tastes were indulged with an offensive publicity which destroyed the comfort of his wife Hipparetê, daughter of Hipponikus who was slain at the battle of Delium. She had brought him a large dowry of ten talents: when she sought a divorce, as the law of Athens permitted, Alkibiadês violently interposed to prevent her from obtaining the benefit of the law, and brought her back by force to his house even from the presence of the magistrate. It is this violence of selfish passion, and reckless disregard of social obligation towards every one, which forms the peculiar characteristic of Alkibiadês. He strikes the schoolmaster whose house he happens to find unprovided with a copy of Homer; he strikes Taureas,[50] a rival chorêgus, in the public theatre, while the representation is going on; he strikes Hipponikus, who afterwards became his father-in-law, out of a wager of mere wantonness, afterwards appeasing him by an ample apology; he protects the Thasian poet Hêgêmon, against whom an indictment had been formally lodged before the archon, by effacing it with his own hand from the published list in the public edifice, called Metrôon; defying both magistrate and accuser to press the cause on for trial.[51] Nor does it appear that any injured person ever dared to bring Alkibiadês to trial before the dikastery, though we read with amazement the tissue of lawlessness[52] which marked his private life;[p. 33] a combination of insolence and ostentation with occasional mean deceit when it suited his purpose. But amidst the perfect legal, judicial, and constitutional equality, which reigned among the citizens of Athens, there still remained great social inequalities between one man and another, handed down from the times preceding the democracy: inequalities which the democratical institutions limited in their practical mischiefs, but never either effaced or discredited, and which were recognized as modifying elements in the current, unconscious vein of sentiment and criticism, by those whom they injured as well as by those whom they favored. In the speech which Thucydidês[53] ascribes to Alkibiadês before the[p. 34] Athenian public assembly, we find the insolence of wealth and high social position not only admitted as a fact, but vindicated as a just morality; and the history of his life, as well as many other facts in Athenian society, show that if not approved, it was at least tolerated in practice to a serious extent, in spite of the restraints of the democracy.

Amidst such unprincipled exorbitances of behavior, Alkibiadês stood distinguished for personal bravery. He served as a hoplite in the army under Phormion at the siege of Potidæa in 432 B.C. Though then hardly twenty years of age, he was among the most forward soldiers in the battle, received a severe wound, and was in great danger; owing his life only to the exertions of Sokratês, who served in the ranks along with him. Eight years afterwards, Alkibiadês also served with credit in the cavalry at the battle of Delium, and had the opportunity of requiting his obligation to Sokratês, by protecting him against the Bœotian pursuers. As a rich young man, also, choregy and trierarchy became incumbent upon him; expensive duties, which, as we might expect, he discharged not merely with sufficiency, but with ostentation. In fact, expenditure of this sort, though compulsory up to a certain point upon all rich men, was so fully repaid, to all those who had the least ambition, in the shape of popularity and influence, that most of them spontaneously went beyond the requisite minimum for the purpose of showing themselves off. The first appearance of Alkibiadês in public life is said to have been as a donor, for some special purpose, in the ekklesia, when various citizens were handing in their contributions: and the loud applause which his subscription provoked was at that time so novel and exciting to him, that he suffered a tame quail which he carried in his bosom to escape. This incident excited mirth and sympathy among the citizens present: the bird was caught and restored to him by Antiochus, who from that time forward acquired his favor, and in after days became his pilot and confidential lieutenant.[54]

To a young man like Alkibiadês, thirsting for power and pre[p. 35]ëminence, a certain measure of rhetorical facility and persuasive power was indispensable. With a view to this acquisition, he frequented the society of various sophistical and rhetorical teachers,[55] Prodikus, Protagoras, and others; but most of all that of Sokratês. His intimacy with Sokratês has become celebrated on many grounds, and is commemorated both by Plato and Xenophon, though unfortunately with less instruction than we could desire. We may readily believe Xenophon, when he tells us that Alkibiadês—like the oligarchical Kritias, of whom we shall have much to say hereafter—was attracted to Sokratês by his unrivalled skill of dialectical conversation, his suggestive influence over the minds of his hearers, in eliciting new thoughts and combinations, his mastery of apposite and homely illustrations, his power of seeing far beforehand the end of a long cross-examination, his ironical affectation of ignorance, whereby the humiliation of opponents was rendered only the more complete, when they were convicted of inconsistency and contradiction out of their own answers. The exhibitions of such ingenuity were in themselves highly interesting, and stimulating to the mental activity of listeners, while the faculty itself was one of peculiar value to those who proposed to take the lead in public debate; with which view both these ambitious young men tried to catch the knack from Sokratês,[56] and to copy his formidable string of[p. 36] interrogations. Both of them doubtless involuntarily respected the poor, self-sufficing, honest, temperate, and brave citizen, in whom this eminent talent resided; especially Alkibiadês, who not only owed his life to the generous valor of Sokratês at Potidæa, but had also learned in that service to admire the iron physical frame of the philosopher in his armor, enduring hunger, cold, and hardship.[57] But we are not to suppose that either of them came to Sokratês with the purpose of hearing and obeying his precepts on matters of duty, or receiving from him a new plan of life. They came partly to gratify an intellectual appetite, partly to acquire a stock of words and ideas, with facility of argumentative handling, suitable for their after-purpose as public speakers. Subjects moral, political, and intellectual, served as the theme sometimes of discourse, sometimes of discussion, in the society of all these sophists, Prodikus and Protagoras not less than Sokratês; for in the Athenian sense of the word, Sokratês was a sophist as well as the others: and to the rich youths of Athens, like Alkibiadês and Kritias, such society was highly useful.[58] It imparted a nobler aim to their ambition, including[p. 37] mental accomplishments as well as political success: it enlarged the range of their understandings, and opened to them as ample a vein of literature and criticism as the age afforded: it accustomed them to canvass human conduct, with the causes and obstructions of human well-being, both public and private: it even suggested to them indirectly lessons of duty and prudence, from which their social position tended to estrange them, and which they would hardly have submitted to hear except from the lips of one whom they intellectually admired. In learning to talk, they were forced to learn more or less to think, and familiarized with the difference between truth and error: nor would an eloquent lecturer fail to enlist their feelings in the great topics of morals and politics. Their thirst for mental stimulus and rhetorical accomplishments had thus, as far as it went, a moralizing effect, though this was rarely their purpose in the pursuit.[59]

[p. 38]

Alkibiadês, full of impulse and ambition of every kind, enjoyed the conversation of all the eminent talkers and lecturers to[p. 39] be found in Athens, that of Sokratês most of all and most frequently. The philosopher became greatly attached to him, and doubtless lost no opportunity of inculcating on him salutary lessons, as far as could be done, without disgusting the pride of a haughty and spoiled youth who was looking forward to the celebrity of public life. But unhappily his lessons never produced any serious effect, and ultimately became even distasteful to the pupil. The whole life of Alkibiadês attests how faintly the sentiment of obligation, public or private, ever got footing in his mind; how much the ends which he pursued were dictated by overbearing vanity and love of aggrandizement. In the later part of life, Sokratês was marked out to public hatred by his enemies, as having been the teacher of Alkibiadês and Kritias. And if we could be so unjust as to judge of the morality of the teacher by that of these two pupils, we should certainly rank him among the worst of the Athenian sophists.

At the age of thirty-one or thirty-two, the earliest at which it was permitted to look forward to an ascendent position in public life, Alkibiadês came forward with a reputation stained by private enormities, and with a number of enemies created by his insolent demeanor. But this did not hinder him from stepping into that position to which his rank, connections, and club-partisans, afforded him introduction; nor was he slow in displaying his extraordinary energy, decision, and capacity of command. From the beginning to the end of his eventful political life, he showed a combination of boldness in design, resource in contrivance, and vigor in execution, not surpassed by any one of his contemporary Greeks: and what distinguished him from all was his extraordinary flexibility of character[60] and consummate[p. 40] power of adapting himself to new habits, new necessities, and new persons, whenever circumstances required. Like Themistoklês, whom he resembled as well in ability and vigor as in want of public principle and in recklessness about means, Alkibiadês was essentially a man of action. Eloquence was in him a secondary quality, subordinate to action; and though he possessed enough of it for his purposes, his speeches were distinguished only for pertinence of matter, often imperfectly expressed, at least according to the high standard of Athens.[61] But his career affords a memorable example of splendid qualities, both for action and command, ruined and turned into instruments of mischief by the utter want of morality, public and private. A strong tide of individual hatred was thus roused against him, as well from middling citizens whom he had insulted, as from rich men whom his ruinous ostentation outshone. For his exorbitant voluntary expenditure in the public festivals, transcending the[p. 41] largest measure of private fortune, satisfied discerning men that he would reimburse himself by plundering the public, and even, if opportunity offered, by overthrowing[62] the constitution to make himself master of the persons and properties of his fellow-citizens. He never inspired confidence or esteem in any one; and sooner or later, among a public like that of Athens, so much accumulated odium and suspicion was sure to bring a public man to ruin, in spite of the strongest admiration for his capacity. He was always the object of very conflicting sentiments: “The Athenians desired him, hated him, but still wished to have him,” was said in the latter years of his life by a contemporary poet; while we find also another pithy precept delivered in regard to him: “You ought not to keep a lion’s whelp in your city at all; but, if you choose to keep him, you must submit yourself to his behavior.”[63] Athens had to feel the force of his energy, as an exile and enemy, but the great harm which he did to her was in his capacity of adviser; awakening in his countrymen the same thirst for showy, rapacious, uncertain, perilous aggrandizement which dictated his own personal actions.

Mentioning Alkibiadês now for the first time, I have somewhat anticipated on future chapters, in order to present a general idea of his character, hereafter to be illustrated. But at the moment which we have now reached (March, 420 B.C.) the lion’s whelp was yet young, and had neither acquired his entire strength nor disclosed his full-grown claws.

He began to put himself forward as a party leader, seemingly not long before the Peace of Nikias. The political traditions hereditary in his family, as in that of his relation Periklês, were democratical: his grandfather Alkibiadês had been vehement in his opposition to the Peisistratids, and had even afterwards publicly renounced an established connection of hospitality with the[p. 42] Lacedæmonian government, from strong antipathy to them on political grounds. But Alkibiadês himself, in commencing political life, departed from this family tradition, and presented himself as a partisan of oligarchical and philo-Laconian sentiment, doubtless far more consonant to his natural temper than the democratical. He thus started in the same general party with Nikias and Thessalus son of Kimôn, who afterwards became his bitter opponents; and it was in part probably to put himself on a par with them, that he took the marked step of trying to revive the ancient family tie of hospitality with Sparta, which his grandfather had broken off.[64]

To promote this object, he displayed peculiar solicitude for the good treatment of the Spartan captives, during their detention at Athens. Many of them being of high family at Sparta, he naturally calculated upon their gratitude, as well as upon the favorable sympathies of their countrymen, whenever they should be restored. He advocated both the peace and the alliance with Sparta, and the restoration of her captives; and indeed not only advocated these measures, but tendered his services, and was eager to be employed, as the agent of Sparta for carrying them through at Athens. From these selfish hopes in regard to Sparta, and especially from the expectation of acquiring, through the agency of the restored captives, the title of Proxenus of Sparta, Alkibiadês thus became a partisan of the blind and gratuitous philo-Laconian concessions of Nikias. But the captives on their return were either unable, or unwilling, to carry the point which he wished; while the authorities at Sparta rejected all his advances, not without a contemptuous sneer at the idea of confiding important political interests to the care of a youth chiefly known for ostentation, profligacy, and insolence. That the Spartans should thus judge, is noway astonishing, considering their extreme reverence both for old age and for strict discipline. They naturally preferred Nikias and Lachês, whose prudence would commend, if it did not originally suggest, their mistrust of the new claimant. Nor had Alkibiadês yet shown the mighty move[p. 43]ment of which he was capable. But this contemptuous refusal of the Spartans stung him so to the quick, that, making an entire revolution in his political course,[65] he immediately threw himself into anti-Laconian politics with an energy and ability which he was not before known to possess.

The moment was favorable, since the recent death of Kleon, for a new political leader to espouse this side; and was rendered still more favorable by the conduct of the Lacedæmonians. Month after month passed, remonstrance after remonstrance was addressed, yet not one of the restitutions prescribed by the treaty in favor of Athens had yet been accomplished. Alkibiadês had therefore ample pretext for altering his tone respecting the Spartans, and for denouncing them as deceivers who had broken their solemn oaths, abusing the generous confidence of Athens. Under his present antipathies, his attention naturally turned to Argos, in which city he possessed some powerful friends and family guests. The condition of that city, now free by the expiration of the peace with Sparta, opened a possibility of connection with Athens, and this policy was strongly recommended by Alkibiadês, who insisted that Sparta was playing false with the Athenians, merely in order to keep their hands tied until she had attacked and put down Argos separately. This particular argument had less force when it was seen that Argos acquired new and powerful allies, Mantineia, Elis, and Corinth; but on the other hand, such acquisitions rendered Argos positively more valuable as an ally to the Athenians.

It was not so much, however, the inclination towards Argos, but the growing wrath against Sparta, which furthered the philo-Argeian plans of Alkibiadês; and when the Lacedæmonian envoy Andromedês arrived at Athens from Bœotia, tendering to the Athenians the mere ruins of Panaktum in exchange for Pylos; when it farther became known that the Spartans had[p. 44] already concluded a special alliance with the Bœotians without consulting Athens, the unmeasured expression of displeasure in the Athenian ekklesia showed Alkibiadês that the time was now come for bringing on a substantive decision. While he lent his own voice to strengthen this discontent against Sparta, he at the same time despatched a private intimation to his correspondents at Argos, exhorting them, under assurances of success and promise of his own strenuous aid, to send without delay an embassy to Athens in conjunction with the Mantineians and Eleians, requesting to be admitted as Athenian allies. The Argeians received this intimation at the very moment when their citizens Eustrophus and Æson were negotiating at Sparta for the renewal of the peace, having been sent thither under great uneasiness lest Argos should be left without allies to contend single-handed against the Lacedæmonians. But no sooner was the unexpected chance held out to them of alliance with Athens, a former friend, a democracy like their own, an imperial state at sea, but not interfering with their own primacy in Peloponnesus,—than they became careless of Eustrophus and Æson, and despatched forthwith to Athens the embassy advised. It was a joint embassy, Argeian, Eleian, and Mantineian:[66] the alliance between these three cities had already been rendered more intimate by a second treaty concluded since that treaty to which Corinth was a party; but Corinth had refused all concern in the second.[67]

But the Spartans had been already alarmed by the harsh repulse of their envoy Andromedês, and probably warned by reports from Nikias and their other Athenian friends of the crisis impending respecting alliance between Athens and Argos. Accordingly they sent off without a moment’s delay three citizens extremely popular at Athens,[68] Philocharidas, Leon, and Endius; with full powers to settle all matters of difference. The envoys were instructed to deprecate all alliance of Athens with Argos, to explain that the alliance of Sparta with Bœotia had been concluded without any purpose or possibility of evil to Athens, and at the same time to renew the demand that Pylos should be re[p. 45]stored to them in exchange for the demolished Panaktum. Such was still the confidence of the Lacedæmonians in the strength of assent at Athens, that they did not yet despair of obtaining an affirmative, even to this very unequal proposition: and when the three envoys, under the introduction and advice of Nikias, had their first interview with the Athenian senate, preparatory to an audience before the public assembly, the impression which they made, on stating that they came with full powers of settlement, was highly favorable. It was indeed so favorable, that Alkibiadês became alarmed lest, if they made the same statement in the public assembly, holding out the prospect of some trifling concessions, the philo-Laconian party might determine public feeling to accept a compromise, and thus preclude all idea of alliance with Argos.

To obviate such a defeat of his plans, he resorted to a singular manœuvre. One of the Lacedæmonian envoys, Endius, was his private guest, by an ancient and particular intimacy subsisting between their two families.[69] This probably assisted in procuring[p. 46] for him a secret interview with the envoys, and enabled him to address them with greater effect, on the day before the meeting of the public assembly, and without the knowledge of Nikias. He accosted them in the tone of a friend of Sparta, anxious that their proposition should succeed; but he intimated that they would find the public assembly turbulent and angry, very different from the tranquil demeanor of the senate: so that if they proclaimed themselves to have come with full powers of settlement, the people would burst out with fury, to act upon their fears and bully them into extravagant concessions. He therefore strongly urged them to declare that they had come, not with any full powers of settlement, but merely to explain, discuss, and report: the people would then find that they could gain nothing by intimidation, explanations would be heard, and disputed points be discussed with temper, and he (Alkibiadês) would speak emphatically in their favor. He would advise, and felt confident that he could persuade, the Athenians to restore Pylos, a step which his opposition had hitherto been the chief means of preventing. He gave them his solemn pledge—confirmed by an oath, according to Plutarch—that he would adopt this conduct, if they would act upon his counsel.[70] The envoys were much struck with the apparent sagacity of these suggestions,[71] and still more delighted to find that the man from whom they anticipated the most formidable opposition was prepared to speak in their favor. His language obtained with them, probably, the more ready admission and confidence, inasmuch as he had volunteered his services to become the political agent of Sparta only a few months before; and he appeared now to be simply resuming that policy. They were sure of the support of[p. 47] Nikias and his party, under all circumstances; if, by complying with the recommendation of Alkibiadês, they could gain his strenuous advocacy and influence also, they fancied that their cause was sure of success. Accordingly, they agreed to act upon his suggestion, not only without consulting but without even warning Nikias, which was exactly what Alkibiadês desired, and had probably required them to promise.

Next day, the public assembly met, and the envoys were introduced; upon which Alkibiadês himself, in a tone of peculiar mildness, put the question to them, upon what footing they came?[72] what powers they brought with them? They immediately declared that they had brought no full powers for treating and settlement, but only came to explain and discuss. Nothing could exceed the astonishment with which this declaration was heard. The senators present, to whom these envoys a day or two before had publicly declared the distinct contrary,—the assembled people, who, made aware of this previous affirmation, had come prepared to hear the ultimatum of Sparta from their lips,—lastly, most of all, Nikias himself,—their confidential agent and probably their host at Athens,—who had doubtless announced them as plenipotentiaries, and concerted with them the management of their cases before the assembly,—all were alike astounded, and none knew what to make of the words just heard. But the indignation of the people equalled their astonishment: there was a unanimous burst of wrath against the standing faithlessness and duplicity of Lacedæmonians; never saying the same thing two days together. To crown the whole, Alkibiadês himself affected to share all the surprise of the multitude, and was even the loudest of them all in invectives against the envoys; denouncing Lacedæmonian perfidy and evil designs in language far more bitter than he had ever employed before. Nor was this all:[73] he took advantage of[p. 48] the vehement acclamation which welcomed these invectives to propose that the Argeian envoys should be called in and the alliance with Argos concluded forthwith. And this would certainly have been done, if a remarkable phenomenon—an earthquake—had not occurred to prevent it; causing the assembly to be adjourned to the next day, pursuant to a religious scruple then recognized as paramount.

This remarkable anecdote comes in all its main circumstances from Thucydidês. It illustrates forcibly that unprincipled character which will be found to attach to Alkibiadês through life, and presents indeed an unblushing combination of impudence and fraud, which we cannot better describe than by saying that it is exactly in the vein of Fielding’s Jonathan Wild. In depicting Kleon and Hyperbolus, historians vie with each other in strong language to mark the impudence which is said to have been their peculiar characteristic. Now we have no particular facts before us to measure the amount of truth in this, though as a general charge it is sufficiently credible. But we may affirm, with full assurance, that none of the much-decried demagogues of Athens—not one of those sellers of leather, lamps, sheep, ropes, pollard, and other commodities, upon whom Aristophanês heaps so many excellent jokes—ever surpassed, if they ever equalled, the impudence of this descendant of Æakus and Zeus in his manner of overreaching and disgracing the Lacedæmonian envoys. These latter, it must be added, display a carelessness of public faith and consistency, a facility in publicly unsaying what they have just before publicly said, and a treachery towards their own confidential agent, which is truly surprising, and goes far to justify the general charge of habitual duplicity so often alleged against the Lacedæmonian character.[74]

The disgraced envoys would doubtless quit Athens immediately: but this opportune earthquake gave Nikias a few hours to recover from his unexpected overthrow. In the assembly of the next day, he still contended that the friendship of Sparta was preferable to that of Argos, and insisted on the prudence of postponing all consummation of engagement with the latter until the real intentions of Sparta, now so contradictory and inexplic[p. 49]able, should be made clear. He contended that the position of Athens, in regard to the peace and alliance, was that of superior honor and advantage; the position of Sparta, one of comparative disgrace: Athens had thus a greater interest than Sparta in maintaining what had been concluded. But he at the same time admitted that a distinct and peremptory explanation must be exacted from Sparta as to her intentions, and he requested the people to send himself with some other colleagues to demand it. The Lacedæmonians should be apprised that Argeian envoys were already present in Athens with propositions, and that the Athenians might already have concluded this alliance, if they could have permitted themselves to do wrong to the existing alliance with Sparta. But the Lacedæmonians, if their intentions were honorable, must show it forthwith: 1. By restoring Panaktum, not demolished, but standing. 2. By restoring Amphipolis also. 3. By renouncing their special alliance with the Bœotians, unless the Bœotians on their side chose to become parties to the peace with Athens.[75]

The Athenian assembly, acquiescing in the recommendation of Nikias, invested him with the commission which he required: a remarkable proof, after the overpowering defeat of the preceding day, how strong was the hold which he still retained upon them, and how sincere their desire to keep on the best terms with Sparta. This was a last chance granted to Nikias and his policy; a perfectly fair chance, since all that was asked of Sparta was just; but it forced him to bring matters to a decisive issue with her, and shut out all farther evasion. His mission to Sparta failed altogether: the influence of Kleobûlus and Xenarês, the anti-Athenian ephors, was found predominant, so that not one of his demands was complied with. And even when he formally announced that unless Sparta renounced her special alliance with the Bœotians or compelled the Bœotians to accept the peace with Athens, the Athenians would immediately contract alliance with Argos, the menace produced no effect. He could only obtain, and that too as a personal favor to himself, that the oaths as they stood should be formally renewed; an empty concession, which covered but faintly the humiliation of his retreat to Athens.[p. 50] The Athenian assembly listened to his report with strong indignation against the Lacedæmonians, and with marked displeasure even against himself, as the great author and voucher of this unperformed treaty; while Alkibiadês was permitted to introduce the envoys—already at hand in the city—from Argos, Mantineia, and Elis, with whom a pact was at once concluded.[76]

The words of this, which Thucydidês gives us doubtless from the record on the public column, comprise two engagements; one for peace, another for alliance.

The Athenians, Argeians, Mantineians, and Eleians, have concluded a treaty of peace by sea and by land, without fraud or mischief, each for themselves and for the allies over whom each exercise empire.[77] [The express terms in which these states announce themselves as imperial states and their allies as dependencies, deserve notice. No such words appear in the treaty between Athens and Lacedæmon. I have already mentioned that the main ground of discontent on the part of Mantineia and Elis towards Sparta, was connected with their imperial power.]

Neither of them shall bear arms against the other for purposes of damage.

The Athenians, Argeians, Mantineians, and Eleians, shall be allies with each other for one hundred years. If any enemy shall invade Attica, the three contracting cities shall lend the most vigorous aid in their power at the invitation of Athens. Should the forces of the invading city damage Attica and then retire, the three will proclaim that city their enemy and attack it: neither of the four shall in that case suspend the war, without consent of the others.

Reciprocal obligations imposed upon Athens, in case Argos, Mantineia, or Elis, shall be attacked.

Neither of the four contracting powers shall grant passage to troops through their own territory, or the territory of allies over whom they may at the time be exercising command, either by land or sea, unless upon joint resolution.[78]

[p. 51]

In case auxiliary troops shall be required and sent under this treaty, the city sending shall furnish their maintenance for the space of thirty days, from the day of their entrance upon the territory of the city requiring. Should their services be needed for a longer period, the city requiring shall furnish their maintenance, at the rate of three Æginæan oboli for each hoplite, light-armed or archer, and of one Æginæan drachma or six oboli for each horseman, per day. The city requiring shall possess the command, so long as the service required shall be in her territory. But if any expedition shall be undertaken by joint resolution, then the command shall be shared equally between all.

Such were the substantive conditions of the new alliance. Provision was then made for the oaths,—by whom? where? when? in what words? how often? they were to be taken. Athens was to swear on behalf of herself and her allies; but Argos, Elis, and Mantineia, with their respective allies, were to swear by separate cities. The oaths were to be renewed every four years; by Athens, within thirty days before each Olympic festival, at Argos, Elis, and Mantineia; by these three cities, at Athens, ten days before each festival of the greater Panathenæa. “The words of the treaty of peace and alliance, and the oaths sworn, shall be engraven on stone columns, and put up in the temples of each of the four cities; and also upon a brazen column, to be put up by joint cost at Olympia, for the festival now approaching.”

“The four cities may, by joint consent, make any change they please in the provisions of this treaty, without violating their oaths.”[79]

The conclusion of this new treaty introduced a greater degree of complication into the grouping and association of the Grecian cities than had ever before been known. The ancient Spartan confederacy, and the Athenian empire still subsisted. A peace[p. 52] had been concluded between them, ratified by the formal vote of the majority of the confederates, yet not accepted by several of the minority. Not merely peace, but also special alliance had been concluded between Athens and Sparta; and a special alliance between Sparta and Bœotia. Corinth, member of the Spartan confederacy, was also member of a defensive alliance with Argos, Mantineia, and Elis; which three states had concluded a more intimate alliance, first with each other (without Corinth), and now recently with Athens. Yet both Athens and Sparta still retained the alliance[80] concluded between themselves, without formal rupture on either side, though Athens still complained that the treaty had not been fulfilled. No relations whatever subsisted between Argos and Sparta. Between Athens and Bœotia there was an armistice terminable at ten days’ notice. Lastly, Corinth could not be prevailed upon, in spite of repeated solicitation from the Argeians, to join the new alliance of Athens with Argos: so that no relations subsisted between Corinth and Athens; while the Corinthians began, though faintly, to resume their former tendencies towards Sparta.[81]

The alliance between Athens and Argos, of which particulars have just been given, was concluded not long before the Olympic festival of the 90th Olympiad, or 420 B.C.: the festival being about the beginning of July, the treaty might be in May.[82] That festival was memorable, on more than one ground. It was the first which had been celebrated since the conclusion of the peace, the leading clause of which had been expressly introduced to guarantee to all Greeks free access to the great Pan-Hellenic temples, with liberty of sacrificing, consulting the oracle, and witnessing the matches. For the last eleven years, including two Olympic festivals, Athens herself, and apparently all the numerous allies of Athens, had been excluded from sending their solemn legation, or theôry, and from attending as spectators, at the Olympic games.[83] Now that such exclusion was removed,[p. 53] and that the Eleian heralds (who came to announce the approaching games and proclaim the truce connected with them) again trod the soil of Attica,—the Athenian visit was felt both by themselves and by others as a novelty. Some curiosity was entertained to see what figure the theôry of Athens would make as to show and splendor. Nor were there wanting spiteful rumors, that Athens had been so much impoverished by the war, as to be prevented from appearing with appropriate magnificence at the altar and in the presence of Olympic Zeus.

Alkibiadês took pride in silencing these surmises, as well as in glorifying his own name and person, by a display more imposing than had ever been previously beheld. He had already distinguished himself in the local festivals and liturgies of Athens by an ostentation surpassing Athenian rivals: but he now felt himself standing forward as the champion and leader of Athens before Greece. He had discredited his political rival Nikias, given a new direction to the politics of Athens by the Argeian alliance, and was about to commence a series of intra-Peloponnesian operations against the Lacedæmonians. On all these grounds he determined that his first appearance on the plain of Olympia should impose upon all beholders. The Athenian theôry, of which he was a member, was set out with first-rate splendor, and with the amplest show of golden ewers, censers, etc., for the public sacrifice and procession.[84] But when the chariot-races came on, Alkibiadês himself appeared as competitor at his own cost,—not merely with one well-equipped chariot and four, which the richest Greeks had hitherto counted as an extra[p. 54]ordinary personal glory, but with the prodigious number of seven distinct chariots, each with a team of four horses. And so superior was their quality, that one of his chariots gained a first prize, and another a second prize, so that Alkibiadês was twice crowned with sprigs of the sacred olive-tree, and twice proclaimed by the herald. Another of his seven chariots also came in fourth: but no crown or proclamation, it seems, was awarded to any after the second in order. We must recollect that he had competitors from all parts of Greece to contend against, not merely private men, but even despots and governments. Nor was this all. The tent which the Athenian theôrs provided for their countrymen, visitors to the games, was handsomely adorned; but a separate tent, which Alkibiadês himself provided for a public banquet to celebrate his triumph, together with the banquet itself, was set forth on a scale still more stately and expensive. The rich allies of Athens—Ephesus, Chios, and Lesbos—are said to have lent him their aid in enhancing this display. It is highly probable that they would be glad to cultivate his favor, as he had now become one of the first men in Athens, and was in an ascendent course. But we must farther recollect that they, as well as Athens, had been excluded from the Olympic festival, so that their own feelings on first returning might well prompt them to take a genuine interest in this imposing reappearance of the Ionic race at the common sanctuary of Hellas.

Five years afterwards, on an important discussion which will be hereafter described, Alkibiadês maintained publicly before the Athenian assembly that his unparalleled Olympic display had produced an effect upon the Grecian mind highly beneficial to Athens;[85][p. 55] dissipating the suspicions entertained that she was ruined by the war, and establishing beyond dispute her vast wealth and power.[p. 56] He was doubtless right to a considerable extent; though not sufficient to repel the charge from himself, which it was his pur[p. 57]pose to do, both of overweening personal vanity, and of that reckless expenditure which he would be compelled to try and overtake by peculation or violence at the public cost. All the unfavorable impressions suggested to prudent Athenians by his previous life, were aggravated by this stupendous display; much more, of course, the jealousy and hatred of personal competitors. And this feeling was not the less real, though as a political man he was now in the full tide of public favor.

If the festival of the 90th Olympiad was peculiarly distinguished by the reappearance of Athenians and those connected with them, it was marked by a farther novelty yet more striking, the exclusion of the Lacedæmonians. This exclusion was the consequence of the new political interests of the Eleians, combined with their increased consciousness of force arising out of the recent alliance with Argos, Athens, and Mantineia. It has already been mentioned that since the peace with Athens, the Lacedæmonians, acting as arbitrators in the case of Lepreum, which the Eleians claimed as their dependency, had declared it to be autonomous, and had sent a body of troops to defend it. Probably the Eleians had recently renewed their attacks upon the district, since the junction with their new allies; for the Lacedæmonians had detached thither a fresh body of one thousand hoplites immediately prior to the Olympic festival. Out of the mission of this fresh detachment the sentence of exclusion arose. The Eleians were privileged administrators of the festival, regulating the details of the ceremony itself, and formally[p. 58] proclaiming by heralds the commencement of the Olympic truce during which all violation of the Eleian territory by an armed force was a sin against the majesty of Zeus. On the present occasion they affirmed that the Lacedæmonians had sent the one thousand hoplites into Lepreum, and had captured a fort called Phyrkus, both Eleian possessions, after the proclamation of the truce. They accordingly imposed upon Sparta the fine prescribed by the “Olympian law,” of two minæ for each man, two thousand minæ in all; a part to Zeus Olympius, a part to the Eleians themselves. During the interval between the proclamation of the truce and the commencement of the festival, the Lacedæmonians sent to remonstrate against this fine, which they alleged to have been unjustly imposed, inasmuch as the heralds had not yet proclaimed the truce at Sparta when the hoplites reached Lepreum. The Eleians replied that the truce had already at that time been proclaimed among themselves (for they always proclaimed it first at home, before their heralds crossed the borders), so that they were interdicted from all military operations; of which the Lacedæmonian hoplites had taken advantage to commit their last aggressions. To which the Lacedæmonians rejoined, that the behavior of the Eleians themselves contradicted their own allegation, for they had sent the Eleian heralds to Sparta to proclaim the truce after they knew of the sending of the hoplites, thus showing that they did not consider the truce to have been already violated. The Lacedæmonians added, that after the herald reached Sparta, they had taken no farther military measures. How the truth stood in this disputed question, we have no means of deciding. But the Eleians rejected the explanation, though offering, if the Lacedæmonians would restore to them Lepreum, to forego such part of the fine as would accrue to themselves, and to pay out of their own treasury on behalf of the Lacedæmonians the portion which belonged to the god. This new proposition being alike refused, was again modified by the Eleians. They intimated that they would be satisfied if the Lacedæmonians, instead of paying the fine at once, would publicly on the altar at Olympia, in presence of the assembled Greeks, take an oath to pay it at a future date. But the Lacedæmonians would not listen to the proposition either of payment or of promise. Accordingly the Eleians, as judges under the[p. 59] Olympic law, interdicted them from the temple of Olympic Zeus, from the privilege of sacrificing there, and from attendance and competition at the games; that is, from attendance in the form of the sacred legation called theôry, occupying a formal and recognized place at the solemnity.[86]

As all the other Grecian states—with the single exception of Lepreum—were present by their theôries[87] as well as by individual spectators, so the Spartan theôry “shone by its absence” in a manner painfully and insultingly conspicuous. So extreme, indeed, was the affront put upon the Lacedæmonians, connected as they were with Olympia by a tie ancient, peculiar, and never yet broken; so pointed the evidence of that comparative degradation into which they had fallen, through the peace with Athens coming at the back of the Sphakterian disaster,[88] that they were supposed likely to set the exclusion at defiance; and to escort their theôrs into the temple at Olympia for sacrifice, under the protection of an armed force. The Eleians even thought it necessary to put their younger hoplites under arms, and to summon to their aid one thousand hoplites from Mantineia as well as the same number from Argos, for the purpose of repelling this probable attack: while a detachment of Athenian cavalry were stationed at Argos during the festival, to lend assistance in case of need. The alarm prevalent among the spectators of the festival was most serious, and became considerably aggravated by an incident which occurred after the chariot racing. Lichas,[89] a Lacedæmonian of great wealth and consequence, had a chariot running in the lists, which he was obliged to enter, not in his own name, but in the name of the Bœotian federation. The sentence of exclusion hindered him from taking any ostensible part, but it did not hinder him from being present as a spectator; and when he saw his chariot proclaimed victorious under the title of Bœotian, his impatience to make himself known became uncontrol[p. 60]lable. He stepped into the midst of the lists, and placed a chaplet on the head of the charioteer, thus advertising himself as the master. This was a flagrant indecorum and known violation of the order of the festival: accordingly, the official attendants with their staffs interfered at once in performance of their duty, chastising and driving him back to his place with blows.[90] Hence arose an increased apprehension of armed Lacedæmonian interference. None such took place, however: the Lacedæmonians, for the first and last time in their history, offered their Olympic sacrifice at home, and the festival passed off without any interruption.[91] The boldness of the Eleians in putting this affront upon the most powerful state in Greece is so astonishing, that we can hardly be mistaken in supposing their proceeding to have been suggested by Alkibiadês and encouraged by the armed aid from the allies. He was at this moment not less ostentatious in humiliating Sparta than in showing off Athens.

Of the depressed influence and estimation of Sparta, a farther proof was soon afforded by the fate of her colony, the Trachinian Herakleia, established near Thermopylæ, in the third year of the war. That colony—though at first comprising a numerous body of settlers, in consequence of the general trust in Lacedæmonian power, and though always under the government of a Lacedæmonian harmost—had never prospered. It had[p. 61] been persecuted from the beginning by the neighboring tribes, and administered with harshness as well as peculation by its governors. The establishment of the town had been regarded from the beginning by the neighbors, especially the Thessalians, as an invasion of their territory; and their hostilities, always vexatious, had, in the winter succeeding the Olympic festival just described, been carried to a greater point of violence than ever. They had defeated the Herakleots in a ruinous battle, and slain Xenarês the Lacedæmonian governor. But though the place was so reduced as to be unable to maintain itself without foreign aid, Sparta was too much embarrassed by Peloponnesian enemies and waverers to be able to succor it; and the Bœotians, observing her inability, became apprehensive that the interference of Athens would be invoked. Accordingly they thought it prudent to occupy Herakleia with a body of Bœotian troops, dismissing the Lacedæmonian governor Hegesippidas for alleged misconduct. Nor could the Lacedæmonians prevent this proceeding, though it occasioned them to make indignant remonstrance.[92]


CHAPTER LVI.
FROM THE FESTIVAL OF OLYMPIAD NINETY DOWN TO THE BATTLE OF MANTINEIA.

Shortly after the remarkable events of the Olympic festival described in my last chapter, the Argeians and their allies sent a fresh embassy to invite the Corinthians to join them. They thought it a promising opportunity, after the affront just put upon Sparta, to prevail upon the Corinthians to desert her: but Spartan envoys were present also, and though the discussions were much protracted, no new resolution was adopted. An[p. 62] earthquake—possibly an earthquake not real, but simulated for convenience—abruptly terminated the congress. The Corinthians—though seemingly distrusting Argos, now that she was united with Athens, and leaning rather towards Sparta—were unwilling to pronounce themselves in favor of one so as to make an enemy of the other.[93]

In spite of this first failure, the new alliance of Athens and Argos manifested its fruits vigorously in the ensuing spring. Under the inspirations of Alkibiadês, Athens was about to attempt the new experiment of seeking to obtain intra-Peloponnesian followers and influence. At the beginning of the war, she had been maritime, defensive, and simply conservative, under the guidance of Periklês. After the events of Sphakteria, she made use of that great advantage to aim at the recovery of Megara and Bœotia, which she had before been compelled to abandon by the thirty years’ truce, at the recommendation of Kleon. In this attempt she employed the eighth year of the war, but with signal ill-success; while Brasidas during that period broke open the gates of her maritime empire, and robbed her of many important dependencies. The grand object of Athens then became, to recover these lost dependencies, especially Amphipolis: Nikias and his partisans sought to effect such recovery by making peace, while Kleon and his supporters insisted that it could never be achieved except by military efforts. The expedition under Kleon against Amphipolis had failed, the peace concluded by Nikias had failed also: Athens had surrendered her capital advantage, without regaining Amphipolis; and if she wished to regain it, there was no alternative except to repeat the attempt which had failed under Kleon. And this perhaps she might have done, as we shall find her projecting to do in the course of about four years forward, if it had not been, first, that the Athenian mind was now probably sick and disheartened about Amphipolis, in consequence of the prodigious disgrace so recently undergone there; next, that Alkibiadês, the new chief adviser or prime minister of Athens—if we may be allowed to use an inaccurate expression, which yet suggests the reality of the case—was prompted by his personal impulses to turn the stream of Athe[p. 63]nian ardor into a different channel. Full of antipathy to Sparta, he regarded the interior of Peloponnesus as her most vulnerable point, especially in the present disjointed relations of its component cities. Moreover, his personal thirst for glory was better gratified amidst the centre of Grecian life than by undertaking an expedition into a distant and barbarous region: lastly, he probably recollected with discomfort the hardships and extreme cold, insupportable to all except the iron frame of Sokrates, which he had himself endured at the blockade of Potidæa twelve years before,[94] and which any armament destined to conquer Amphipolis would have to go through again. It was under these impressions that he now began to press his intra-Peloponnesian operations against Lacedæmon, with the view of organizing a counter-alliance under Argos sufficient to keep her in check, and at any rate to nullify her power of carrying invasion beyond the Isthmus. All this was to be done without ostensibly breaking the peace and alliance between Athens and Lacedæmon, which stood in conspicuous letters on pillars erected in both cities.

Coming to Argos at the head of a few Athenian hoplites and bowmen, and reinforced by Peloponnesian allies, Alkibiadês exhibited the spectacle of an Athenian general traversing the interior of the peninsula, and imposing his own arrangements in various quarters, a spectacle at that moment new and striking.[95] He first turned his attention to the Achæan towns in the northwest, where he persuaded the inhabitants of Patræ to ally themselves with Athens, and even to undertake the labor of connecting their town with the sea by means of long walls, so as to place themselves within the protection of Athens from seaward. He farther projected the erection of a fort and the formation of a naval station at the extreme point of Cape Rhium, just at the narrow entrance of the Corinthian gulf; whereby the Athenians, who already possessed the opposite shore by means of Naupaktus, would have become masters of the commerce of the gulf.[p. 64] But the Corinthians and Sikyonians, to whom this would have been a serious mischief, despatched forces enough to prevent the consummation of the scheme, and probably also to hinder the erection of the walls at Patræ.[96] Yet the march of Alkibiadês doubtless strengthened the anti-Laconian interest throughout the Achæan coast.

He then returned to take part with the Argeians in a war against Epidaurus. To acquire possession of this city would much facilitate the communication between Athens and Argos, since it was not only immediately opposite to the island of Ægina now occupied by the Athenians, but also opened to the latter an access by land, dispensing with the labor of circumnavigating Cape Skyllæum, the southeastern point of the Argeian and Epidaurian peninsula, whenever they sent forces to Argos. Moreover, the territory of Epidaurus bordered to the north on that of Corinth, so that the possession of it would be an additional guarantee for the neutrality of the Corinthians. Accordingly it was resolved to attack Epidaurus, for which a pretext was easily found. As presiding and administering state of the temple of Apollo Pythäeus (situated within the walls of Argos), the Argeians enjoyed a sort of religious supremacy over Epidaurus and other neighboring cities, seemingly the remnant of that extensive supremacy, political as well as religious, which in early times had been theirs.[97] The Epidaurians owed to this temple certain sacrifices and other ceremonial obligations, one of which, arising out of some circumstance which we cannot understand, was now due and unperformed: at least so the Argeians alleged. Such default imposed upon them the duty of getting together a military force to attack the Epidaurians and enforce the obligation.

Their invading march, however, was for a time suspended by the news that king Agis with the full force of Lacedæmon and her allies had advanced as far as Leuktra, one of the border towns of Laconia on the northwest, towards Mount Lykæum and the Arcadian Parrhasii. What this movement meant was known only to Agis himself, who did not even explain the purpose to[p. 65] his own soldiers or officers, or allies.[98] But the sacrifice constantly offered before passing the border was found so unfavorable, that he abandoned his march for the present and returned home. The month Karneius, a period of truce as well as religious festival among the Dorian states, being now at hand, he directed the allies to hold themselves prepared for an out-march as soon as that month had expired.

On being informed that Agis had dismissed his troops, the Argeians prepared to execute their invasion of Epidaurus. The day on which they set out was already the twenty-sixth of the month preceding the Karneian month, so that there remained only three days before the commencement of that latter month with its holy truce, binding upon the religious feelings of the Dorian states generally, to which Argos, Sparta, and Epidaurus all belonged. But the Argeians made use of that very peculiarity of the season, which was accounted likely to keep them at home, to facilitate their scheme, by playing a trick with the calendar, and proclaiming one of those arbitrary interferences with the reckoning of time which the Greeks occasionally employed to correct the ever-recurring confusion of their lunar system. Having begun their march on the twenty-sixth of the month before Karneius, the Argeians called each succeeding day still the twenty-sixth, thus disallowing the lapse of time, and pretending that the Karneian month had not yet commenced. This proceeding was farther facilitated by the circumstance, that their allies of Athens, Elis, and Mantineia, not being Dorians, were under no obligation to observe the Karneian truce. Accordingly, the army marched from Argos into the territory of Epidaurus, and spent seemingly a fortnight or three weeks in laying it waste; all this time being really, according to the reckoning of the other Dorian states, part of the Karneian truce, which the Argeians, adopting their own arbitrary computation of time, professed not to be violating. The Epidaurians, unable to meet them single-handed in the field,[p. 66] invoked the aid of their allies: who, however, had already been summoned by Sparta for the succeeding month, and did not choose, any more than the Spartans, to move during the Karneian month itself. Some allies, however, perhaps the Corinthians, came as far as the Epidaurian border, but did not feel themselves strong enough to lend aid by entering the territory alone.[99]

[p. 67]

Meanwhile the Athenians had convoked another congress of deputies at Mantineia, for the purpose of discussing propositions[p. 68] of peace: perhaps this may have been a point carried by Nikias at Athens, in spite of Alkibiadês. What other deputies attended[p. 69] we are not told; but Euphamidas, coming as envoy from Corinth, animadverted even at the opening of the debates upon the inconsistency of assembling a peace congress while war was actually raging in the Epidaurian territory. So much were the Athenian deputies struck with this observation, that they departed, persuaded the Argeians to retire from Epidaurus, and then came back to resume negotiations. Still, however, the pretensions of both parties were found irreconcilable, and the congress broke up; upon which the Argeians again returned to renew their devastation in Epidaurus, while the Lacedæmonians, immediately on the expiration of the Karneian month, marched out again, as far as their border town of Karyæ, but were again arrested and forced to return by unfavorable border-sacrifices. Intimation of their out-march, however, was transmitted to Athens; upon which Alkibiadês, at the head of one thousand Athenian hoplites, was sent to join the Argeians. But before he arrived, the Lacedæmonian army had been already disbanded; so that his services were no longer required, and the Argeians carried their ravages over one-third of the territory of Epidaurus before they at length evacuated it.[100]

[p. 70]

The Epidaurians were reinforced about the end of September by a detachment of three hundred Lacedæmonian hoplites under Agesippidas, sent by sea without the knowledge of the Athenians. Of this, the Argeians preferred loud complaints at Athens; and they had good reason to condemn the negligence of the Athenians as allies, for not having kept better naval watch at their neighboring station of Ægina, and for having allowed this enemy to enter the harbor of Epidaurus. But they took another ground of complaint, somewhat remarkable. In the alliance between Athens, Argos, Elis, and Mantineia, it had been stipulated that neither of the four should suffer the passage of troops through its territory, without the joint consent of all. Now the sea was accounted a part of the territory of Athens: so that the Athenians had violated this article of the treaty by permitting the Lacedæmonians to send troops by sea to Epidaurus. And the Argeians now required Athens, in compensation for this wrong, to carry back the Messenians and Helots from Kephallenia to Pylos, and allow them to ravage Laconia. The Athenians, under the persuasion of Alkibiadês, complied with their requisition; inscribing, at the foot of the pillar on which their alliance with Sparta stood recorded, that the Lacedæmonians had not observed their oaths. Nevertheless, they still abstained from formally throwing up their treaty with Lacedæmon, or breaking it in any other way.[101] The relations between Athens and Sparta thus remained in name, peace and alliance, so far as concerns direct operations against each other’s territory; in reality, hostile action as well as hostile manœuvring, against each other, as allies respectively of third parties.

The Argeians, after having prolonged their incursions on the Epidaurian territory throughout all the autumn, made in the winter an unavailing attempt to take the town itself by storm. Though there was no considerable action, but merely a succession of desultory attacks, in some of which the Epidaurians even[p. 71] had the advantage, yet they still suffered serious hardship, and pressed their case forcibly on the sympathy of Sparta. Thus importuned, and mortified as well as alarmed by the increasing defection or coldness which they now experienced throughout Peloponnesus, the Lacedæmonians determined during the course of the ensuing summer to put forth their strength vigorously, and win back their lost ground.[102]

Towards the month of June (B.C. 418) they marched with their full force, freemen as well as Helots, under king Agis, against Argos. The Tegeans and other Arcadian allies joined them on the march, while their other allies near the Isthmus,—Bœotians, Megarians, Corinthians, Sikyonians, Phliasians, etc., were directed to assemble at Phlius. The number of these latter allies were very considerable, for we hear of five thousand Bœotian hoplites, and two thousand Corinthian: the Bœotians had with them also five thousand light-armed, five hundred horsemen, and five hundred foot-soldiers, who ran alongside of the horsemen. The numbers of the rest, or of Spartans themselves, we do not know; nor probably did Thucydidês himself know: for we find him remarking elsewhere the impenetrable concealment of the Lacedæmonians on all public affairs, in reference to the numbers at the subsequent battle of Mantineia. Such muster of the Lacedæmonian alliance was no secret to the Argeians, who marching first to Mantineia, and there taking up the force of that city as well as three thousand Eleian hoplites who came to join them, met the Lacedæmonians in their march at Methydrium in Arcadia. The two armies being posted on opposite hills, the Argeians had resolved to attack Agis the next day, so as to prevent him from joining his allies at Phlius. But he eluded this separate encounter by decamping in the night, reached Phlius, and operated his junction in safety. We do not hear that there was in the Lacedæmonian army any commander of lochus, who, copying the unreasonable punctilio of Amompharetus before the battle of Platæa, refused to obey the order of retreat before the enemy, to the imminent risk of the whole army. And the fact, that no similar incident occurred now, may be held to prove that[p. 72] the Lacedæmonians had acquired greater familiarity with the exigencies of actual warfare.

As soon as the Lacedæmonian retreat was known in the morning, the Argeians left their position also, and marched with their allies, first to Argos itself; next, to Nemea, on the ordinary road from Corinth and Phlius to Argos, by which they imagined that the invaders would approach. But Agis acted differently. Distributing his force into three divisions, he himself with the Lacedæmonians and Arcadians, taking a short, but very rugged and difficult road, crossed the ridge of the mountains and descended straight into the plain near Argos. The Corinthians, Pellenians, and Phliasians, were directed to follow another mountain road, which entered the same plain upon a different point; while the Bœotians, Corinthians, and Sikyonians, followed the longer, more even, and more ordinary route, by Nemea. This route, though apparently frequented and convenient, led for a considerable distance along a narrow ravine, called the Trêtus, bounded on each side by mountains. The united army under Agis was much superior in number to the Argeians: but if all had marched in one line by the frequented route through the narrow Trêtus, their superiority of number would have been of little use, whilst the Argeians would have had a position highly favorable to their defence. By dividing his force, and taking the mountain road with his own division, Agis got into the plain of Argos in the rear of the Argeian position at Nemea. He anticipated that when the Argeians saw him devastating their properties near the city, they would forthwith quit the advantageous ground near Nemea, to come and attack him in the plain: the Bœotian division would thus find the road by Nemea and the Trêtus open, and would be able to march without resistance into the plain of Argos, where their numerous cavalry would act with effect against the Argeians engaged in attacking Agis. This triple march was executed. Agis with his division, and the Corinthians with theirs, got across the mountains into the Argeian plain during the night; while the Argeians,[103] hearing at daybreak that he was near their[p. 73] city, ravaging Saminthus and other places, left their position at Nemea to come down to the plain and attack him. In their march they had a partial skirmish with the Corinthian division, which had reached a high ground immediately above the Argeian plain, and which lay nearly in the road. But this affair was indecisive, and they soon found themselves in the plain near to Agis and the Lacedæmonians, who lay between them and their city.

On both sides, the armies were marshalled, and order taken for battle. But the situation of the Argeians was in reality little less than desperate: for while they had Agis and his division in their front, the Corinthian detachment was near enough to take them in flank, and the Bœotians marching along the undefended road through the Trêtus would attack them in the rear. The Bœotian cavalry too would act with full effect upon them in the plain, since neither Argos, Elis, nor Mantineia, seemed to have possessed any horsemen; a description of force which ought to have been sent from Athens, though from some cause which does not appear, the Athenian contingent had not yet arrived. Nevertheless, in spite of this very critical position, both the Argeians and their allies were elate with confidence and impatient for battle; thinking only of the division of Agis immediately in their front, which appeared to be inclosed between them and their city, and taking no heed to the other formidable enemies in their flank and rear. But the Argeian generals were better aware than their soldiers of the real danger; and just as the two armies were about to charge, Alkiphron, proxenus of the Lacedæmonians at Argos, accompanied Thrasyllus, one of the five generals of the Argeians, to a separate parley with Agis, without the least consultation or privity on the part of their own army. They exhorted Agis not to force on a battle, assuring him that the Argeians were ready both to give and receive equitable satisfaction, in all matters of complaint which the Lacedæmonians might urge against them, and to conclude a just peace for the future. Agis, at once acquiescing in the proposal, granted them a truce of four months to accomplish what they had promised. He on his part also took this step without consulting either his army or his allies, simply addressing a few words of confidential talk to[p. 74] one of the official Spartans near him. Immediately, he gave the order for retreat, and the army, instead of being led to battle, was conducted out of the Argeian territory, through the Nemean road whereby the Bœotians had just been entering. But it required all the habitual discipline of Lacedæmonian soldiers to make them obey this order of the Spartan king, alike unexpected and unwelcome.[104] For the army were fully sensible both of the prodigious advantages of their position, and of the overwhelming strength of the invading force, so that all the three divisions were loud in their denunciations of Agis, and penetrated with shame at the thoughts of so disgraceful a retreat. And when they all saw themselves in one united body at Nemea, previous to breaking up and going home,—so as to have before their eyes their own full numbers and the complete equipment of one of the finest Hellenic armies which had ever been assembled,—the Argeian body of allies, before whom they were now retiring, appeared contemptible in the comparison, and they separated with yet warmer and more universal indignation against the king who had betrayed their cause.

On returning home, Agis incurred not less blame from the Spartan authorities than from his own army, for having thrown away so admirable an opportunity of subduing Argos. This was assuredly no more than he deserved: but we read with no small astonishment that the Argeians and their allies on returning were even more exasperated against Thrasyllus,[105] whom they accused of having traitorously thrown away a certain victory. They had indeed good ground, in the received practice, to censure him for having concluded a truce without taking the sense of the people. It was their custom on returning from a march, to hold a public court-martial before entering the city, at a place called the Charadrus, or winter torrent near the walls, for the purpose of adjudicating on offences and faults committed in the army. Such was their wrath on this occasion against Thrasyllus, that they would scarcely be prevailed upon even to put him upon his trial, but began to stone him. He was forced to seek personal[p. 75] safety at the altar; upon which the soldiers tried him, and he was condemned to have his property confiscated.[106]

Very shortly afterwards the expected Athenian contingent arrived, which probably ought to have come earlier: one thousand hoplites, with three hundred horsemen, under Lachês and Nikostratus. Alkibiadês came as ambassador, probably serving as a soldier also among the horsemen. The Argeians, notwithstanding their displeasure against Thrasyllus, nevertheless felt themselves pledged to observe the truce which he had concluded, and their magistrates accordingly desired the newly-arrived Athenians to depart. Nor was Alkibiadês even permitted to approach and address the public assembly, until the Mantineian and Eleian allies insisted that thus much at least should not be refused. An assembly was therefore convened, in which these allies took part, along with the Argeians. Alkibiadês contended strenuously that the recent truce with the Lacedæmonians was null and void; since it had been contracted without the privity of all the allies, distinctly at variance with the terms of the alliance. He therefore called upon them to resume military operations forthwith, in conjunction with the reinforcement now seasonably arrived. His speech so persuaded the assembly, that the Mantineians and Eleians consented at once to join him in an expedition against the Arcadian town of Orchomenus; the Argeians, also, though at first reluctant, very speedily followed them thither. Orchomenus was a place important to acquire, not merely because its territory joined that of Mantineia on the northward, but because the Lacedæmonians had deposited therein the hostages which they had taken from Arcadian townships and villages as guarantee for fidelity. Its walls were however in bad condition, and its inhabitants, after a short resistance, capitulated. They agreed to become allies of Mantineia, to furnish hostages for faithful adhesion to such alliance, and to deliver up the hostages deposited with them by Sparta.[107]

Encouraged by first success, the allies debated what they should next undertake; the Eleians contending strenuously for a march against Lepreum, while the Mantineians were anxious to attack their enemy and neighbor Tegea. The Argeians and Athenians[p. 76] preferred the latter, incomparably the more important enterprise of the two: but such was the disgust of the Eleians at the rejection of their proposition, that they abandoned the army altogether, and went home. Notwithstanding their desertion, however, the remaining allies continued together at Mantineia, organizing their attack upon Tegea, in which city they had a strong favorable party, who had actually laid their plans, and were on the point of proclaiming the revolt of the city from Sparta,[108] when the philo-Laconian Tegeans just saved themselves by despatching the most urgent message to Sparta, and receiving the most rapid succor. The Lacedæmonians, filled with indignation at the news of the surrender of Orchomenus, vented anew all their displeasure against Agis, whom they now threatened with the severe punishment of demolishing his house and fining him in the sum of one hundred thousand drachmæ, or about twenty-seven and two-thirds Attic talents. He urgently entreated that an opportunity might be afforded to him of redeeming by some brave deed the ill name which he had incurred: if he failed in doing so, then they might inflict on him what penalty they chose. The penalty was accordingly withdrawn: but a restriction, new to the Spartan constitution, was now placed upon the authority of the king. It had been before a part of his prerogative to lead out the army single-handed and on his own authority; but a council of ten was now named, without whose concurrence he was interdicted from exercising such power.[109]

To the great good fortune of Agis, a pressing message now arrived announcing the imminent revolt of Tegea, the most important ally of Sparta, and close upon her border. Such was the alarm occasioned by this news that the whole military population instantly started off to relieve the place, Agis at their head, the most rapid movement ever known to have been made by Lacedæmonian soldiers.[110] When they arrived at Orestheium in Arcadia, in their way, perhaps hearing that the danger was[p. 77] somewhat less pressing, they sent back to Sparta one-sixth part of the forces, for home defence, the oldest as well as the youngest men. The remainder marched forward to Tegea, where they were speedily joined by their Arcadian allies. They farther sent messages to the Corinthians and Bœotians, as well as to the Phocians and Lokrians, invoking the immediate presence of these contingents in the territory of Mantineia. The arrival of such reinforcements, however, even with all possible zeal on the part of the cities contributing, could not be looked for without some lapse of time; the rather, as it appears, that they could not get into the territory of Mantineia except by passing through that of Argos,[111] which could not be safely attempted until they had all formed a junction. Accordingly Agis, impatient to redeem his reputation, marched at once with the Lacedæmonians and the Arcadian allies present, into the territory of Mantineia, and took up a position near the Herakleion, or temple of Hêraklês,[112] from whence he began to ravage the neighboring lands. The Argeians and their allies presently came forth from Mantineia, planted themselves near him, but on very rugged and impracticable ground, and thus offered him battle. Nothing daunted by the difficulties of the position, he marshalled his army and led it up to attack them. His rashness on the present occasion might have produced as much mischief as his inconsiderate concession to Thrasyllus near Argos, had not an ancient Spartan called out to him that he was now merely proceeding “to heal mischief by mischief.” So forcibly was Agis impressed either with this timely admonition, or by the closer view of the position which he had undertaken to assault, that he suddenly halted the army and gave orders for retreat, though actually within distance no greater than the cast of a javelin from the enemy.[113]

[p. 78]

His march was now intended to draw the Argeians away from the difficult ground which they occupied. On the frontier between Mantineia and Tegea—both situated on a lofty but inclosed plain, drained only by katabothra, or natural subterranean channels in the mountains—was situated a head of water, the regular efflux of which seems to have been kept up by joint operations of both cities for their mutual benefit. Thither Agis now conducted his army, for the purpose of turning the water towards the side of Mantineia, where it would occasion serious damage; calculating that the Mantineians and their allies would certainly descend from their position to hinder it. No stratagem however was necessary to induce the latter to adopt this resolution. For so soon as they saw the Lacedæmonians, after advancing to the foot of the hill, first suddenly halt, next retreat, and lastly disappear, their surprise was very great: and this surprise was soon converted into contemptuous confidence and impatience to pursue the flying enemy. The generals not sharing such confidence, hesitated at first to quit their secure position: upon which the troops became clamorous, and loudly denounced them for treason in letting the Lacedæmonians quietly escape a second time, as they had before done near Argos. These generals would probably not be the same with those who had incurred, a short time before, so much undeserved censure for their convention with Agis: but the murmurs on the present occasion, hardly less unreasonable, drove them, not without considerable shame and confusion, to give orders for advance. They abandoned the hill, marched down into the plain so as to approach the Lacedæmonians, and employed the next day in arranging themselves in good battle order, so as to be ready to fight at a moment’s notice.

Meanwhile it appears that Agis had found himself disappointed in his operations upon the water. He had either not done so much damage, or not spread so much terror, as he had expected: and he accordingly desisted, putting himself again in march to resume his position at the Herakleion, and supposing that his enemies still retained their position on the hill. But in the course of this march he came suddenly upon the Argeian and allied army where he was not in the least prepared to see them: they were not only in the plain, but already drawn up in perfect[p. 79] order of battle. The Mantineians occupied the right wing, the post of honor, because the ground was in their territory: next to them stood their dependent Arcadian allies: then the chosen Thousand-regiment of Argos, citizens of wealth and family, trained in arms at the cost of the state: alongside of them, the remaining Argeian hoplites, with their dependent allies of Kleônæ and Orneæ: last of all, on the left wing, stood the Athenians, their hoplites as well as their horsemen.

It was with the greatest surprise that Agis and his army beheld this unexpected apparition. To any other Greeks than Lacedæmonians, the sudden presentation of a formidable enemy would have occasioned a feeling of dismay from which they would have found it difficult to recover; and even the Lacedæmonians, on this occasion, underwent a momentary shock unparalleled in their previous experience.[114] But they now felt the full advantage of their rigorous training and habit of military obedience, as well as of that subordination of officers which was peculiar to themselves in Greece. In other Grecian armies orders were proclaimed to the troops in a loud voice by a herald, who received them personally from the general: each taxis, or company, indeed, had its own taxiarch, but the latter did not receive his orders separately from the general, and seems to have had no personal responsibility for the execution of them by his soldiers. Subordinate and responsible military authority was not recognized. Among the Lacedæmonians, on the contrary, there was a regular gradation of military and responsible authority, “commanders of commanders,” each of whom had his special duty in insuring the execution of orders.[115] Every order emanated from the Spartan king when he was present, and was given to the polemarchs (each commanding a mora, the largest military divis[p. 80]ion), who intimated it to the lochagi, or colonels, of the respective lochi. These again gave command to each pentekontêr, or captain of a pentekosty; lastly, he to the enômotarch, who commanded the lowest subdivision, called an enômoty. The soldier thus received no immediate orders except from the enômotarch, who was in the first instance responsible for his enômoty; but the pentekontêr and the lochage were responsible also each for his larger division; the pentekosty including four enômoties, and the lochus four pentekosties, at least so the numbers stood on this occasion. All the various military manœuvres were familiar to the Lacedæmonians from their unremitting drill, so that their armies enjoyed the advantage of readier obedience along with more systematic command. Accordingly, though thus taken by surprise, and called on now for the first time in their lives, to form in the presence of an enemy, they only manifested the greater promptitude[116] and anxious haste in obeying the orders of Agis, transmitted through the regular series of officers. The battle array was attained with regularity as well as with speed.

The extreme left of the Lacedæmonian line belonged by ancient privilege to the Skiritæ; mountaineers of the border district of Laconia, skirting the Arcadian Parrhasii, seemingly east of the Eurotas, near its earliest and highest course. These men, originally Arcadians, now constituted a variety of Laconian Periœki, with peculiar duties as well as peculiar privileges. Numbered among the bravest and most active men in Peloponnesus, they generally formed the vanguard in an advancing march; and the Spartans stand accused of having exposed them to danger as well as toil with unbecoming recklessness.[117] Next to the Skiritæ, who were six hundred in number, stood the enfranchised Helots, recently returned from serving with Brasidas in Thrace, and the Neodamôdes, both probably summoned home from Lepreum, where we were told before that they had been planted. After them, in the centre of the entire line, came the Lacedæmonian lochi, seven in number, with the Arcadian de[p. 81]pendent allies, Heræan and Mænalian, near them. Lastly, in the right wing, stood the Tegeans, with a small division of Lacedæmonians occupying the extreme right, as the post of honor. On each flank there were some Lacedæmonian horsemen.[118]

Thucydidês, with a frankness which enhances the value of his testimony wherever he gives it positively, informs us that he cannot pretend to set down the number of either army. It is evident that this silence is not for want of having inquired; but none of the answers which he received appeared to him trustworthy: the extreme secrecy of Lacedæmonian politics admitted of no certainty about their numbers, while the empty numerical boasts of other Greeks were not less misleading. In the absence of assured information about aggregate number, the historian gives us some general information accessible to every inquirer, and some facts visible to a spectator. From his language it is conjectured, with some probability, by Dr. Thirlwall and others, that he was himself present at the battle, though in what capacity we cannot determine, as he was an exile from his country. First, he states that the Lacedæmonian army appeared more numerous than that of the enemy. Next he tells us, that independent of the Skiritæ on the left, who were six hundred in number, the remaining Lacedæmonian front, to the extremity of their right wing, consisted of four hundred and forty-eight men, each enômoty having four men in front. In respect to depth, the different enômoties were not all equal; but for the most part, the files were eight deep. There were seven lochi in all (apart from the Skiritæ); each lochus comprised four pentekosties, each pentekosty contained four enômoties.[119] Multiplying four hundred and[p. 82] forty-four by eight, and adding the six hundred Skiritæ, this would make a total of four thousand one hundred and eighty-four hoplites, besides a few horsemen on each flank. Respecting light-armed, nothing is said. I have no confidence in such an estimate—but the total is smaller than we should have expected, considering that the Lacedæmonians had marched out from Sparta with their entire force on a pressing emergency, and that they had only sent home one-sixth of their total, their oldest and youngest soldiers.

It does not appear that the generals on the Argeian side made any attempt to charge while the Lacedæmonian battle-array was yet incomplete. It was necessary for them, according to Grecian practice, to wind up the courage of their troops by some words of exhortation and encouragement: and before these were finished, the Lacedæmonians may probably have attained their order. The Mantineian officers reminded their countrymen that the coming battle would decide whether Mantineia should continue to be a free and imperial city, with Arcadian dependencies of her own, as she now was, or should again be degraded into a dependency of Lacedæmon. The Argeian leaders dwelt upon[p. 83] the opportunity which Argos now had of recovering her lost ascendency in Peloponnesus, and of revenging herself upon her worst enemy and neighbor. The Athenian troops were exhorted to show themselves worthy of the many brave allies with whom they were now associated, as well as to protect their own territory and empire by vanquishing their enemy in Peloponnesus.

It illustrates forcibly the peculiarity of Lacedæmonian character, that to them no similar words of encouragement were addressed either by Agis or any of the officers. “They knew (says the historian[120]) that long practice beforehand in the business of war, was a better preservative than fine speeches on the spur of the moment.” As among professional soldiers, bravery was assumed as a thing of course, without any special exhortation: but mutual suggestions were heard among them with a view to get their order of battle and position perfect, which at first it probably was not, from the sudden and hurried manner in which they had been constrained to form. Moreover, various war-songs, perhaps those of Tyrtæus, were chanted in the ranks. At length the word was given to attack: the numerous pipers in attendance—an hereditary caste at Sparta—began to play, while the slow, solemn, and equable march of the troops adjusted itself to the time given by these instruments without any break or wavering in the line. A striking contrast to this deliberate pace was presented by the enemy: who having no pipers or other musical instruments, rushed forward to the charge with a step vehement and even furious,[121] fresh from the exhortations just addressed to them.

It was the natural tendency of all Grecian armies, when coming into conflict, to march not exactly straight forward, but somewhat[p. 84] aslant towards the right. The soldiers on the extreme right of both armies set the example of such inclination, in order to avoid exposing their own unshielded side; while for the same reason every man along the line took care to keep close to the shield of his right-hand neighbor. We see from hence that, with equal numbers, the right was not merely the post of honor, but also of comparative safety. So it proved on the present occasion, even the Lacedæmonian discipline being noway exempt from this cause of disturbance. Though the Lacedæmonian front, from their superior numbers, was more extended than that of the enemy, still their right files did not think themselves safe without slanting still farther to the right, and thus outflanked very greatly the Athenians on the opposite left wing; while on the opposite side the Mantineians who formed the right wing, from the same disposition to keep the left shoulder forward, outflanked, though not in so great a degree, the Skiritæ and Brasideians on the Lacedæmonian left. King Agis, whose post was with the lochi in the centre, saw plainly that when the armies closed, his left would be certainly taken in flank and perhaps even in the rear. Accordingly, he thought it necessary to alter his dispositions even at this critical moment, which he relied upon being able to accomplish through the exact discipline, practised evolutions, and slow march, of his soldiers.

The natural mode of meeting the impending danger would have been to bring round a division from the extreme right, where it could well be spared, to the extreme left against the advancing Mantineians. But the ancient privilege of the Skiritæ, who always fought by themselves on the extreme left, forbade such an order.[122] Accordingly, Agis gave signal to the Brasideians and Skiritæ to make a flank movement on the left so as to get on equal front with the Mantineians; while in order to fill[p. 85] up the vacancy thus created in his line, he sent orders to the two polemarchs Aristoklês and Hipponoidas, who had their lochi on the extreme right of the line, to move to the rear and take post on the right of the Brasideians, so as again to close up the line. But these two polemarchs, who had the safest and most victorious place in the line, chose to keep it, disobeying his express orders: so that Agis, when he saw that they did not move, was forced to send a second order countermanding the flank movement of the Skiritæ, and directing them to fall in upon the centre, back into their former place. But it had now become too late to execute this second command before the hostile armies closed: and the Skiritæ and Brasideians were thus assailed while in disorder and cut off from their own centre. The Mantineians, finding them in this condition, defeated and drove them back; while the chosen Thousand of Argos, breaking in by the vacant space between the Brasideians and the Lacedæmonian centre, took them on the right flank and completed their discomfiture. They were routed and pursued even to the Lacedæmonian baggage-wagons in the rear; some of the elder troops who guarded the wagons being slain, and the whole Lacedæmonian left wing altogether dispersed.

But the victorious Mantineians and their comrades, thinking only of what was immediately before them, wasted thus a precious time when their aid was urgently needed elsewhere. Matters passed very differently on the Lacedæmonian centre and right; where Agis, with his body-guard of three hundred chosen youths called Hippeis, and with the Spartan lochi, found himself in front conflict with the centre and left of the enemy;—with the Argeians, their elderly troops and the so-called Five Lochi, with the Kleonæans and Orneates, dependent allies of Argos, and with the Athenians. Over all these troops they were completely victorious, after a short resistance, indeed, on some points with no resistance at all. So formidable was the aspect and name of the Lacedæmonians, that the opposing troops gave way without crossing spears; and even with a panic so headlong, that they trod down each other in anxiety to escape.[123] While thus[p. 86] defeated in front, they were taken in flank by the Tegeans and Lacedæmonians on the right of Agis’s army, and the Athenians[p. 87] here incurred serious hazard of being all cut to pieces, had they not been effectively aided by their own cavalry close at hand.[p. 88] Moreover Agis, having decidedly beaten and driven them back was less anxious to pursue them than to return to the rescue of his own defeated left wing; so that even the Athenians, who were exposed both in flank and front, were enabled to effect their retreat in safety. The Mantineians and the Argeian Thousand, though victorious on their part of the line, yet seeing the remainder of their army in disorderly flight, had little disposition to renew the combat against Agis and the conquering Lacedæmonians. They sought only to effect their retreat, which however could not be done without severe loss, especially on the part of the Mantineians; and which Agis might have prevented altogether, had not the Lacedæmonian system, enforced on this occasion by the counsels of an ancient Spartan named Pharax, enjoyed abstinence from prolonged pursuit against a defeated enemy.[124]

There fell in this battle seven hundred men of the Argeians, Kleonæans, and Orneates; two hundred Athenians, together with both the generals Lachês and Nikostratus; and two hundred Mantineians. The loss of the Lacedæmonians, though never certainly known, from the habitual secrecy of their public proceedings, was estimated at about three hundred men. They stripped the enemy’s dead, spreading out to view the arms thus acquired, and selecting some for a trophy; then picked up their own dead and carried them away for burial at Tegea, granting the customary burial-truce to the defeated enemy. Pleistoanax, the other Spartan king, had advanced as far as Tegea with a reinforcement composed of the elder and younger citizens; but on hearing of the victory, he returned back home.[125]

Such was the important battle of Mantineia, fought in the month of June 418 B.C. Its effect throughout Greece was prodigious. The numbers engaged on both sides were very considerable for a Grecian army of that day, though seemingly not so large as at the battle of Delium five years before: the number and grandeur of the states whose troops were engaged was, however, greater than at Delium. But what gave peculiar value to the battle was, that it wiped off at once the preëxisting stain upon[p. 89] the honor of Sparta. The disaster in Sphakteria, disappointing all previous expectation, had drawn upon her the imputation of something like cowardice; and there were other proceedings which, with far better reason, caused her to be stigmatized as stupid and backward. But the victory of Mantineia silenced all such disparaging criticism, and replaced Sparta in her old position of military preëminence before the eyes of Greece. It worked so much the more powerfully because it was entirely the fruit of Lacedæmonian courage, with little aid from that peculiar skill and tactics, which was generally seen concomitant, but had in the present case been found comparatively wanting. The manœuvre of Agis, in itself not ill-conceived, for the purpose of extending his left wing, had failed through the disobedience of the two refractory polemarchs: but in such a case the shame of failure falls more or less upon all parties concerned; nor could either general or soldiers be considered to have displayed at Mantineia any of that professional aptitude which caused the Lacedæmonians to be styled “artists in warlike affairs.” So much the more conspicuously did Lacedæmonian courage stand out to view. After the left wing had been broken, and when the Argeian Thousand had penetrated into the vacant space between the left and centre, so that they might have taken the centre in flank, and ought to have done so, had they been well advised, the troops in the centre, instead of being daunted as most Grecian soldiers would have been, had marched forward against the enemies in their front, and gained a complete victory. The consequences of the battle were thus immense in reëstablishing the reputation of the Lacedæmonians, and in exalting them again to their ancient dignity of chiefs of Peloponnesus.[126]

We are not surprised to hear that the two polemarchs, Aristoklês and Hipponoidas, whose disobedience had wellnigh caused the ruin of the army, were tried and condemned to banishment as cowards, on their return to Sparta.[127]

Looking at the battle from the point of view of the other side,[p. 90] we may remark, that the defeat was greatly occasioned by the selfish caprice of the Eleians in withdrawing their three thousand men immediately before the battle, because the other allies, instead of marching against Lepreum, preferred to attempt the far more important town of Tegea: an additional illustration of the remark of Periklês at the beginning of the war, that numerous and equal allies could never be kept in harmonious coöperation.[128] Shortly after the defeat, the three thousand Eleians came back to the aid of Mantineia,—probably regretting their previous untoward departure,—together with a reinforcement of one thousand Athenians. Moreover, the Karneian month began, a season which the Lacedæmonians kept rigidly holy; even despatching messengers to countermand their extra-Peloponnesian allies, whom they had invoked prior to the late battle,[129] and remaining themselves within their own territory, so that the field was for the moment left clear for the operations of a defeated enemy. Accordingly, the Epidaurians, though they had made an inroad into the territory of Argos during the absence of the Argeian main force at the time of the late battle, and had gained a partial success, now found their own territory overrun by the united Eleians, Mantineians, and Athenians, who were bold enough even to commence a wall of circumvallation round the town of Epidaurus itself. The entire work was distributed between them to be accomplished; but the superior activity and perseverance of the Athenians was here displayed in a conspicuous manner. For while the portion of work committed to them—the fortification of the cape on which the Heræum or temple of Hêrê was situated—was indefatigably prosecuted and speedily brought to completion, their allies, both Eleians and Mantineians, abandoned the tasks respectively allotted to them in impatience and disgust. The idea of circumvallation being for this reason relinquished, a joint garrison was left in the new fort at Cape Heræum, after which the allies evacuated the Epidaurian territory.[130]

So far, the Lacedæmonians appeared to have derived little positive benefit from their late victory: but the fruits of it were soon manifested in the very centre of their enemy’s force, at Argos. A material change had taken place since the battle in[p. 91] the political tendencies of that city. There had been within it always an opposition party, philo-Laconian and anti-democratical: and the effect of the defeat of Mantineia had been to strengthen this party as much as it depressed their opponents. The democratical leaders, who, in conjunction with Athens and Alkibiades, had aspired to maintain an ascendency in Peloponnesus hostile and equal, if not superior to Sparta, now found their calculations overthrown and exchanged for the discouraging necessities of self-defence against a victorious enemy. And while these leaders thus lost general influence by so complete a defeat of their foreign policy, the ordinary democratical soldiers of Argos brought back with them from the field of Mantineia, nothing but humiliation and terror of the Lacedæmonian arms. But the chosen Argeian Thousand-regiment returned with very different feelings. Victorious over the left wing of their enemies, they had not been seriously obstructed in their retreat even by the Lacedæmonian centre. They had thus reaped positive glory,[131] and doubtless felt contempt for their beaten fellow-citizens. Now it has been already mentioned that these Thousand were men of rich families, and the best military age, set apart by the Argeian democracy to receive permanent training at the public expense, just at a time when the ambitious views of Argos first began to dawn, after the Peace of Nikias. So long as Argos was likely to become or continue the imperial state of Peloponnesus, these Thousand wealthy men would probably find their dignity sufficiently consulted in upholding her as such, and would thus acquiesce in the democratical government. But when the defeat of Mantineia reduced Argos to her own limits, and threw her upon the defensive, there was nothing to counterbalance their natural oligarchical sentiments, so that they became decided opponents of the democratical government in its distress. The oligarchical[p. 92] party in Argos, thus encouraged and reinforced, entered into a conspiracy with the Lacedæmonians to bring the city into alliance with Sparta as well as to overthrow the democracy.[132]

As the first step towards the execution of this scheme, the Lacedæmonians, about the end of September, marched out their full forces as far as Tegea, thus threatening invasion, and inspiring terror at Argos. From Tegea they sent forward as envoy Lichas, proxenus of the Argeians at Sparta, with two alternative propositions: one for peace, which he was instructed to tender and prevail upon the Argeians to accept, if he could; another, in case they refused, of a menacing character. It was the scheme of the oligarchical faction first to bring the city into alliance with Lacedæmon and dissolve the connection with Athens, before they attempted any innovation in the government. The arrival of Lichas was the signal for them to manifest themselves by strenuously pressing the acceptance of his pacific proposition. But they had to contend against a strong resistance; since Alkibiadês, still in Argos, employed his utmost energy to defeat their views. Nothing but the presence of the Lacedæmonian army at Tegea, and the general despondency of the people, at length enabled them to carry their point, and to procure acceptance of the proposed treaty; which being already adopted by the ekklesia at Sparta, was sent ready prepared to Argos, and there sanctioned without alteration. The conditions were substantially as follows:—

“The Argeians shall restore the boys whom they have received as hostages from Orchomenus, and the men-hostages from the Mænalii. They shall restore to the Lacedæmonians the men now in Mantineia, whom the Lacedæmonians had placed as hostages for safe custody in Orchomenus, and whom the Argeians and Mantineians have carried away from that place. They shall evacuate Epidaurus, and raze the fort recently erected near it. The Athenians, unless they also forthwith evacuate Epidaurus, shall be proclaimed as enemies to Lacedæmon as well as to Argos, and to the allies of both. The Lacedæmonians shall restore all the hostages whom they now have in keeping, from whatever place they may have been taken. Respecting the[p. 93] sacrifice alleged to be due to Apollo by the Epidaurians, the Argeians will consent to tender to them an oath, which if they swear, they shall clear themselves.[133] Every city in Peloponnesus, small or great, shall be autonomous and at liberty to maintain its own ancient constitution. If any extra-Peloponnesian city shall come against Peloponnesus with mischievous projects, Lacedæmon and Argos will take joint counsel against it, in the manner most equitable for the interest of the Peloponnesians generally. The extra-Peloponnesian allies of Sparta shall be in the same position with reference to this treaty as the allies of Lacedæmon and Argos in Peloponnesus, and shall hold their own in the same manner. The Argeians shall show this treaty to their allies, who shall be admitted to subscribe to it, if they think fit. But if the allies desire anything different, the Argeians shall send them home about their business.”[134]

[p. 94]

Such was the agreement sent ready prepared by the Lacedæmonians to Argos, and there literally accepted. It presented a reciprocity little more than nominal, imposing one obligation of no importance upon Sparta; though it answered the purpose of the latter by substantially dissolving the alliance of Argos with its three confederates.

But this treaty was meant by the oligarchical party in Argos only as preface to a series of ulterior measures. As soon as it was concluded, the menacing army of Sparta was withdrawn from Tegea, and was exchanged for free and peaceful intercommunication between the Lacedæmonians and Argeians. Probably Alkibiadês at the same time retired, while the renewed visits and hospitalities of Lacedæmonians at Argos strengthened the interest of their party more than ever. They were soon powerful enough to persuade the Argeian assembly formally to renounce the alliance with Athens, Elis, and Mantineia, and to conclude a special alliance with Sparta, on the following terms:—

“There shall be peace and alliance for fifty years between the Lacedæmonians and the Argeians—upon equal terms—each giving amicable satisfaction, according to its established constitution, to all complaints preferred by the other. On the same condition, also, the other Peloponnesian cities shall partake in this peace and alliance, holding their own territory, laws, and separate constitution. All extra-Peloponnesian allies of Sparta shall be put upon the same footing as the Lacedæmonians themselves. The allies of Argos shall also be put upon the same footing as Argos herself, holding their own territory undisturbed. Should occasion arise for common military operations on any point, the Lacedæmonians and Argeians shall take counsel together, determining in the most equitable manner they can for the interest of their allies. If any one of the cities hereunto belonging, either in or out of Peloponnesus, shall have disputes either about boundaries or other topics, she shall be held bound to enter upon[p. 95] amicable adjustment.[135] If any allied city shall quarrel with another allied city, the matter shall be referred to some third city satisfactory to both. Each city shall render justice to her own citizens according to her own ancient constitution.”

It will be observed that in this treaty of alliance, the disputed question of headship is compromised or evaded. Lacedæmon and Argos are both put upon an equal footing, in respect to taking joint counsel for the general body of allies: they two alone are to decide, without consulting the other allies, though binding themselves to have regard to the interests of the latter. The policy of Lacedæmon also pervades the treaty, that of insuring autonomy to all the lesser states of Peloponnesus, and thus breaking up the empire of Elis, Mantineia, or any other larger state which might have dependencies.[136] And accordingly the Mantineians, finding themselves abandoned by Argos, were constrained to make their submission to Sparta, enrolling themselves again as her allies, renouncing all command over their[p. 96] Arcadian subjects, and delivering up the hostages of these latter, according to the stipulation in the treaty between Lacedæmon and Argos.[137] The Lacedæmonians do not seem to have meddled farther with Elis. Being already possessed of Lepreum,—through the Brasideian settlers planted there,—they perhaps did not wish again to provoke the Eleians, from fear of being excluded a second time from the Olympic festival.

Meanwhile the conclusion of the alliance with Lacedæmon—about November or December, 418 B.C.—had still farther depressed the popular leaders at Argos. The oligarchical faction, and the chosen regiment of the Thousand, all men of wealth and family, as well as bound together by their common military training, now saw their way clearly to the dissolution of the democracy by force, and to the accomplishment of a revolution. Instigated by such ambitious views, and flattered by the idea of admitted headship jointly with Sparta, they espoused the new policy of the city with extreme vehemence, and began immediately to multiply occasions of collision with Athens. Joint Lacedæmonian and Argeian envoys were despatched to Thrace and Macedonia. With the Chalkidians of Thrace, the revolted subjects of Athens, the old alliance was renewed and even new engagements concluded; while Perdikkas of Macedonia was urged to renounce his covenants with Athens, and join the new confederacy. In that quarter the influence of Argos was considerable; for the Macedonian princes prized very highly their ancient descent from Argos, which constituted them brethren of the Hellenic family. Accordingly, Perdikkas consented to the demand and concluded the new treaty; insisting, however, with his habitual duplicity, that the step should for the moment be kept secret from Athens.[138] In farther pursuance of the new tone of hostility to that city, joint envoys were also sent thither, to require that the Athenians should quit Peloponnesus, and especially that they should evacuate the fort recently erected near Epidaurus. It seems to have been held jointly by Argeians, Mantineians, Eleians, and Athenians; and as the latter were only a minority of the whole, the Athenians in the city judged[p. 97] it prudent to send Dêmosthenês to bring them away. That general not only effected the retreat, but also contrived a stratagem, which gave to it the air almost of an advantage. On his first arrival in the fort, he proclaimed a gymnastic match outside of the gates for the amusement of the whole garrison, contriving to keep back the Athenians within until all the rest had marched out: then hastily shutting the gates, he remained master of the place.[139] Having no intention, however, of keeping it, he made it over presently to the Epidaurians themselves, with whom he renewed the truce to which they had been parties jointly with the Lacedæmonians five years before, two years before the Peace of Nikias.[140]

The mode of proceeding here resorted to by Athens, in respect to the surrender of the fort, seems to have been dictated by a desire to manifest her displeasure against the Argeians. This was exactly what the Argeian leaders and oligarchical party, on their side, most desired; the breach with Athens had become irreparable, and their plans were now matured for violently subverting their own democracy. They concerted with Sparta a joint military expedition, of one thousand hoplites from each city,—the first joint expedition under the new alliance,—against Sikyôn, for the purpose of introducing more thorough-paced oligarchy into the already oligarchical Sikyônian government. It is possible that there may have been some democratical opposition gradually acquiring strength at Sikyôn: but that city seems to have been, as far as we know, always oligarchical in policy, and passively faithful to Sparta. Probably, therefore, the joint enterprise against Sikyôn was nothing more than a pretext to[p. 98] cover the introduction of one thousand Lacedæmonian hoplites into Argos, whither the joint detachment immediately returned, after the business at Sikyôn had been accomplished. Thus reinforced, the oligarchical leaders and the chosen Thousand at Argos put down by force the democratical constitution in that city, slew the democratical leaders, and established themselves in complete possession of the government.[141]

This revolution, accomplished about February, B.C. 417, the result of the victory of Mantineia and the consummation of a train of policy laid by Sparta, raised her ascendency in Peloponnesus to a higher and more undisputed point than it had ever before attained. The towns in Achaia were as yet not sufficiently oligarchical for her purpose, perhaps since the march of Alkibiadês thither, two years before; accordingly, she now remodelled their governments in conformity with her own views. The new rulers of Argos were subservient to her, not merely from oligarchical sympathy, but from need of her aid to keep down internal rising against themselves: so that there was neither enemy, nor even neutral, to counter-work her or to favor Athens, throughout the whole peninsula.

But the Spartan ascendency at Argos was not destined to last. Though there were many cities in Greece, in which oligarchies long maintained themselves unshaken, through adherence to a traditional routine and by being usually in the hands of men accustomed to govern, yet an oligarchy erected by force upon the ruins of a democracy was rarely of long duration. The angry discontent of the people, put down by temporary intimidation, usually revived, and threatened the security of the rulers enough to render them suspicious and probably cruel. Nor was such cruelty their only fault: they found their emancipation from democratical restraints too tempting to be able to control either their lust or their rapacity. With the population of Argos, comparatively coarse and brutal in all ranks, and more like Korkyra than like[p. 99] Athens, such abuse was pretty sure to be speedy as well as flagrant. Especially the chosen regiment of the Thousand—men in the vigor of their age, and proud of their military prowess as well as of their wealthier station—construed the new oligarchical government which they had helped to erect as a period of individual license to themselves. The behavior and fate of their chief, Bryas, illustrates the general demeanor of the troop. After many other outrages against persons of poorer condition, he one day met in the streets a wedding procession, in which the person of the bride captivated his fancy. He caused her to be violently torn from her company, carried her to his house, and possessed himself of her by force. But in the middle of the night, this high-spirited woman revenged herself for the outrage by putting out the eyes of the ravisher while he was fast asleep:[142] a terrible revenge, which the pointed clasp-pins of the feminine attire sometimes enabled women[143] to take upon those who wronged them. Having contrived to make her escape, she found concealment among her friends, as well as protection among the people generally against the indignant efforts of the chosen Thousand to avenge their leader.

From incidents such as this, and from the multitude of petty insults which so flagitious an outrage implies as coexistent, we are not surprised to learn that the Demos of Argos soon recovered their lost courage, and resolved upon an effort to put down their oligarchical oppressors. They waited for the moment when the festival called the Gymnopædiæ was in course of being solemnized at Sparta,—a festival at which the choric performances of men and boys were so interwoven with Spartan religion as well as bodily training, that the Lacedæmonians would make no military movement until they were finished. At this critical moment, the Argeian Demos rose in insurrection, and after a sharp contest gained a victory over the oligarchy, some of whom were slain, while others only saved themselves by flight. Even at the first instant of danger, pressing messages had been sent to Sparta for aid. But the Lacedæmonians at first peremptorily[p. 100] refused to move during the period of their festival: nor was it until messenger after messenger had arrived to set forth the pressing necessity of their friends, that they reluctantly put aside their festival to march towards Argos. They were too late: the precious moment had already passed by. They were met at Tegea by an intimation that their friends were overthrown, and Argos in possession of the victorious people. Nevertheless, various exiles who had escaped still promised them success, urgently entreating them to proceed, but the Lacedæmonians refused to comply, returned to Sparta, and resumed their intermitted festival.[144]

Thus was the oligarchy of Argos overthrown, after a continuance of about four months,[145] from February to June, 417 B.C., and the chosen Thousand-regiment either dissolved or destroyed. The movement excited great sympathy in several Peloponnesian cities,[146] who were becoming jealous of the exorbitant preponderance of Sparta. Nevertheless, the Argeian Demos, though victorious within the city, felt so much distrust of being able to maintain themselves, that they sent envoys to Sparta to plead their cause and to entreat favorable treatment: a proceeding which proves the insurrection to have been spontaneous, not fomented by Athens. But the envoys of the expelled oligarchs were there to confront them, and the Lacedæmonians, after a lengthened discussion, adjudging the Demos to have been guilty of wrong, proclaimed the resolution of sending forces to put them down. Still, the habitual tardiness of Lacedæmonian habits prevented any immediate or separate movement. Their allies were to be summoned, none being very zealous in the cause, and least of all at this moment, when the period of harvest was at hand; so that about three months intervened before any actual force was brought together.

[p. 101]

This important interval was turned to account by the Argeian Demos, who, being plainly warned that they were to look on Sparta only as an enemy, immediately renewed their alliance with Athens. Regarding her as their main refuge, they commenced the building of long walls to connect their city with the sea, in order that the road might always be open for supplies and reinforcement from Athens, in case they should be confined to their walls by a superior Spartan force. The whole Argeian population—men and women, free and slave—set about the work with the utmost ardor: while Alkibiadês brought assistance from Athens,[147] especially skilled masons and carpenters, of whom they stood in much need. The step may probably have been suggested by himself, as it was the same which, two years before, he had urged upon the inhabitants of Patræ. But the construction of walls adequate for defence, along the line of four miles and a half between Argos and the sea,[148] required a long time. Moreover, the oligarchical party within the town, as well as the exiles without,—a party defeated but not annihilated,—strenuously urged the Lacedæmonians to put an end to the work, and even promised them a counter-revolutionary movement in the town as soon as they drew near to assist; the same intrigue which had been entered into by the oligarchical party at Athens forty years before, when the walls down to Peiræus were in course of erection.[149] Accordingly about the end of September, 417 B.C., king Agis conducted an army of Lacedæmonians and allies against Argos, drove the population within the city, and destroyed so much of the long walls as had been already raised. But the oligarchical party within were not able to realize their engagements of rising in arms, so that he was obliged to retire after merely ravaging the territory and taking the town of Hysiæ, where he put to death all the freemen who fell into his hands. After his departure, the Argeians retaliated these ravages upon the neighboring territory of Phlius, where the exiles from Argos chiefly resided.[150]

[p. 102]

The close neighborhood of such exiles, together with the declared countenance of Sparta, and the continued schemes of the oligarchical party within the walls, kept the Argeian democracy in perpetual uneasiness and alarm throughout the winter, in spite of their recent victory and the suppression of the dangerous regiment of a Thousand. To relieve them in part from embarrassment, Alkibiadês was despatched thither early in the spring with an Athenian armament and twenty triremes. His friends and guests appear to have been now in the ascendency, as leaders of the democratical government; and in concert with them, he selected three hundred marked oligarchical persons, whom he carried away and deposited in various Athenian islands, as hostages for the quiescence of the party, B.C. 416. Another ravaging march was also undertaken by the Argeians into the territory of Phlius, wherein, however, they sustained nothing but loss. And again, about the end of September, the Lacedæmonians gave the word for a second expedition against Argos. But having marched as far as the borders, they found the sacrifices—always offered previous to leaving their own territory—so unfavorable, that they returned back and disbanded their forces. The Argeian oligarchical party, in spite of the hostages recently taken from them, had been on the watch for this Lacedæmonian force, and had projected a rising; or at least were suspected of doing so, to such a degree that some of them were seized and imprisoned by the government, while others made their escape.[151] Later in the same winter, however, the Lacedæmonians became more fortunate with their border sacrifices, entered the Argeian territory in conjunction with their allies (except the Corinthians, who refused to take part), and established the Argeian oligarchi[p. 103]cal exiles at Orneæ: from which town these latter were again speedily expelled, after the retirement of the Lacedæmonian army, by the Argeian democracy with the aid of an Athenian reinforcement.[152]

To maintain the renewed democratical government of Argos, against enemies both internal and external, was an important policy to Athens, as affording the basis, which might afterwards be extended, of an anti-Laconian party in Peloponnesus. But at the present time the Argeian alliance was a drain and an exhaustion rather than a source of strength to Athens: very different from the splendid hopes which it had presented prior to the battle of Mantineia, hopes of supplanting Sparta in her ascendency within the Isthmus. It is remarkable, that in spite of the complete alienation of feeling between Athens and Sparta,—and continued reciprocal hostilities, in an indirect manner, so long as each was acting as ally of some third party,—nevertheless, neither the one nor the other would formally renounce the sworn alliance, nor obliterate the record inscribed on its stone column. Both parties shrank from proclaiming the real truth, though each half year brought them a step nearer to it in fact. Thus during the course of the present summer (416 B.C.) the Athenian and Messenian garrison at Pylos became more active than ever in their incursions on Laconia, and brought home large booty; upon which the Lacedæmonians, though still not renouncing the alliance, publicly proclaimed their willingness to grant what we may call letters of marque, to any one, for privateering against Athenian commerce. The Corinthians also, on private grounds of quarrel, commenced hostilities against the Athenians.[153] Yet still Sparta and her allies remained in a state of formal peace with Athens: the Athenians resisted all the repeated solicitations of the Argeians to induce them to make a landing on any part of Laconia and commit devastation.[154] Nor was the license of free[p. 104] intercourse for individuals as yet suspended. We cannot doubt that the Athenians were invited to the Olympic festival of 416 B.C. (the 91st Olympiad), and sent thither their solemn legation along with those of Sparta and other Dorian Greeks.

Now that they had again become allies of Argos, the Athenians probably found out, more fully than they had before known, the intrigue carried on by the former Argeian government with the Macedonian Perdikkas. The effects of these intrigues, however, had made themselves felt even earlier in the conduct of that prince, who, having as an ally of Athens engaged to coöperate with an Athenian expedition projected under Nikias for the spring or summer of 417 B.C. against the Chalkidians of Thrace and Amphipolis, now withdrew his concurrence, receded from the alliance of Athens, and frustrated the whole scheme of expedition. The Athenians accordingly placed the ports of Macedonia under naval blockade, proclaiming Perdikkas an enemy.[155]

Nearly five years had elapsed since the defeat of Kleon, without any fresh attempt to recover Amphipolis: the project just alluded to appears to have been the first. The proceedings of the Athenians with regard to this important town afford ample proof of that want of wisdom on the part of their leading men Nikias and Alkibiades, and of erroneous tendencies on the part of the body of the citizens, which we shall gradually find conducting their empire to ruin. Among all their possessions out of Attica, there was none so valuable as Amphipolis: the centre of a great commercial and mining region, situated on a large river and lake which the Athenian navy could readily command, and claimed by them with reasonable justice, since it was their original colony, planted by their wisest statesman, Periklês. It had been lost only through unpardonable negligence on the part of their generals; and when lost, we should have expected to see the chief energies of Athens directed to the recovery of it; the more so, as, if once recovered, it admitted of being made sure and retained as a future possession. Kleon is the only leading man who at once proclaims to his countrymen the important truth that it never can be recovered except by force. He strenuously[p. 105] urges his countrymen to make the requisite military effort, and prevails upon them in part to do so, but the attempt disgracefully fails; partly through his own incompetence as commander, whether his undertaking of that duty was a matter of choice or of constraint, partly through the strong opposition and antipathy against him from so large a portion of his fellow-citizens, which rendered the military force not hearty in the enterprise. Next, Nikias, Lachês, and Alkibiadês, all concur in making peace and alliance with the Lacedæmonians, with express promise and purpose to procure the restoration of Amphipolis. But after a series of diplomatic proceedings, which display as much silly credulity in Nikias as selfish deceit in Alkibiadês, the result becomes evident, as Kleon had insisted, that peace will not restore to them Amphipolis, and that it can only be regained by force. The fatal defect of Nikias is now conspicuously seen: his inertness of character and incapacity of decided or energetic effort. When he discovered that he had been out-manœuvred by the Lacedæmonian diplomacy, and had fatally misadvised his countrymen into making important cessions on the faith of equivalents to come, we might have expected to find him spurred on by indignant repentance for this mistake, and putting forth his own strongest efforts, as well as those of his country, in order to recover those portions of her empire which the peace had promised, but did not restore. Instead of which he exhibits no effective movement, while Alkibiadês begins to display the defects of his political character, yet more dangerous than those of Nikias, the passion for showy, precarious, boundless, and even perilous novelties. It is only in the year 417 B.C., after the defeat of Mantineia had put an end to the political speculations of Alkibiadês in the interior of Peloponnesus, that Nikias projects an expedition against Amphipolis; and even then it is projected only contingent upon the aid of Perdikkas, a prince of notorious perfidy. It was not by any half-exertions of force that the place could be regained, as the defeat of Kleon had sufficiently proved. We obtain from these proceedings a fair measure of the foreign politics of Athens at this time, during what is called the Peace of Nikias, preparing us for that melancholy catastrophe which will be developed in the coming chapters, where she is brought[p. 106] near to ruin by the defects of Nikias and Alkibiadês combined for, by singular misfortune, she does not reap the benefit of the good qualities of either.

It was in one of the three years between 420-416 B.C., though we do not know in which, that the vote of ostracism took place, arising out of the contention between Nikias and Alkibiadês.[156] The political antipathy between the two having reached a point of great violence, it was proposed that a vote of ostracism should be taken, and this proposition—probably made by the partisans of Nikias, since Alkibiadês was the person most likely to be reputed dangerous—was adopted by the people. Hyperbolus the lamp-maker, son of Cheremês, a speaker of considerable influence in the public assembly, strenuously supported it, hating Nikias not less than Alkibiadês. Hyperbolus is named by Aristophanês as having succeeded Kleon in the mastership of the rostrum in the Pnyx:[157] if this were true, his supposed demagogic preëminence would commence about September 422 B.C., the period of the death of Kleon. Long before that time, however, he had been among the chief butts of the comic authors, who ascribe to him the same baseness, dishonesty, impudence, and malignity in accusation, as that which they fasten upon Kleon, though in language which seems to imply an inferior idea of his power. And it may be doubted whether Hyperbolus ever succeeded to the same influence as had been enjoyed by Kleon, when we observe that Thucydidês does not name him in any of the important debates which took place at and after the Peace of Nikias. Thucydidês only mentions him once, in 411 B.C., while[p. 107] he was in banishment under sentence of ostracism, and resident at Samos. He terms him, “one Hyperbolus, a low busy-body, who had been ostracized, not from fear of dangerous excess of dignity and power, but through his wickedness and his being felt as a disgrace to the city.”[158] This sentence of Thucydidês is really the only evidence against Hyperbolus: for it is not less unjust in his case than in that of Kleon to cite the jests and libels of comedy as if they were so much authentic fact and trustworthy criticism. It was at Samos that Hyperbolus was slain by the oligarchical conspirators who were aiming to overthrow the democracy at Athens. We have no particular facts respecting him to enable us to test the general character given by Thucydidês.

At the time when the resolution was adopted at Athens, to take a vote of ostracism suggested by the political dissension between Nikias and Alkibiadês, about twenty-four years had elapsed since a similar vote had been resorted to; the last example having been that of Periklês and Thucydidês son of Melêsius, the latter of whom was ostracized about 442 B.C. The democratical constitution had become sufficiently confirmed to lessen materially the necessity for ostracism as a safeguard against individual usurpers: moreover, there was now full confidence in the numerous dikasteries as competent to deal with the greatest of such criminals, thus abating the necessity as conceived in men’s minds, not less than the real necessity, for such precautionary intervention. Under such a state of things, altered reality as well as altered feeling, we are not surprised to find that the vote of ostracism now invoked, though we do not know the circumstances which immediately preceded it, ended in an abuse, or rather in a sort of parody, of the ancient preventive. At a moment of extreme heat of party dispute, the friends of Alkibiadês probably accepted the challenge of Nikias and concurred in supporting a vote of ostracism; each hoping to get rid of the opponent. The vote was accordingly decreed, but before it actually took place,[p. 108] the partisans of both changed their views, and preferred to let the political dissension proceed without closing it by separating the combatants. But the ostracizing vote, having been formally pronounced, could not now be prevented from taking place: it was always, however, perfectly general in its form, admitting of any citizen being selected for temporary banishment. Accordingly, the two opposing parties, each doubtless including various clubs, or hetæries, and according to some accounts the friends of Phæax also, united to turn the vote against some one else: and they fixed upon a man whom all of them jointly disliked, Hyperbolus.[159] By thus concurring, they obtained a sufficient number of votes against him to pass the sentence, and he was sent into temporary banishment. But such a result was in no one’s contemplation when the vote was decreed to take place, and Plutarch even represents the people as clapping their hands at it as a good joke. It was presently recognized by every one, seemingly even by the enemies of Hyperbolus, as a gross abuse of the ostracism. And the language of Thucydidês himself distinctly implies this; for if we even grant that Hyperbolus fully deserved the censure which that historian bestows, no one could treat his presence as dangerous to the commonwealth; nor was the ostracism introduced to meet low dishonesty or wickedness. It was, even before, passing out of the political morality of Athens; and this sentence consummated its extinction, so that we never hear of it as employed afterwards. It had been extremely valuable in earlier days, as a security to the growing democracy against individual usurpation of power, and against dangerous exaggeration of rivalry between individual leaders: but the democracy was now strong enough to dispense with such exceptional protection. Yet if Alkibiadês had returned as victor from Syracuse, it is highly probable that the Athenians would have had no other means than the precautionary antidote of ostracism to save themselves from him as despot.

It was in the beginning of summer (416 B.C.) that the Athenians undertook the siege and conquest of the Dorian island of[p. 109] Mêlos, one of the Cyclades, and the only one, except Thêra, which was not already included in their empire. Mêlos and Thêra were both ancient colonies of Lacedæmon, with whom they had strong sympathies of lineage. They had never joined the confederacy of Delos, nor been in any way connected with Athens; but at the same time, neither had they ever taken part in the recent war against her, nor given her any ground of complaint,[160] until she landed and attacked them in the sixth year of the recent war. She now renewed her attempt, sending against the island a considerable force under Kleomêdês and Tisias: thirty Athenian triremes, with six Chian and two Lesbian, twelve hundred Athenian hoplites, and fifteen hundred hoplites from the allies, with three hundred bowmen and twenty horse-bowmen. These officers, after disembarking their forces, and taking position, sent envoys into the city summoning the government to surrender, and to become a subject-ally of Athens.

It was a practice, frequent, if not universal, in Greece, even in governments not professedly democratical—to discuss propositions for peace or war before the assembly of the people. But on the present occasion the Melian leaders departed from this practice, and admitted the envoys only to a private conversation with their executive council. Of this conversation Thucydidês professes to give a detailed and elaborate account, at surprising length, considering his general brevity. He sets down thirteen distinct observations, with as many replies, interchanged between the Athenian envoys and the Melians; no one of them separately long, and some very short; but the dialogue carried on is dramatic, and very impressive. There is, indeed, every reason for concluding that what we here read in Thucydidês is in far larger proportion his own and in smaller proportion authentic report, than any of the other speeches which he professes to set down. For this was not a public harangue, in respect to which he might have had the opportunity of consulting the recollection of many different persons: it was a private conversation, wherein three or four Athenians, and perhaps ten or a dozen Melians, may have taken part. Now as all the Melian population were slain imme[p. 110]diately after the capture of the town, there remained only the Athenian envoys through whose report Thucydidês could possibly have heard what really passed. That he did hear either from or through them the general character of what passed, I make no doubt: but there is no ground for believing that he received from them anything like the consecutive stream of debate, which, together with part of the illustrative reasoning, we must refer to his dramatic genius and arrangement.

The Athenian begins by restricting the subject of discussion to the mutual interests of both parties in the peculiar circumstances in which they now stand, in spite of the disposition of the Melians to enlarge the range of topics, by introducing considerations of justice and appealing to the sentiment of impartial critics. He will not multiply words to demonstrate the just origin of the Athenian empire, erected on the expulsion of the Persians, or to set forth injury suffered, as pretext for the present expedition. Nor will he listen to any plea on the part of the Melians, that they, though colonists of Sparta, have never fought alongside of her or done Athens wrong. He presses upon them to aim at what is attainable under existing circumstances, since they know as well as he that justice in the reasoning of mankind is settled according to equal compulsion on both sides; the strong doing what their power allows, and the weak submitting to it.[161] To[p. 111] this the Melians reply, that—omitting all appeal to justice, and speaking only of what was expedient—they hold it to be even expedient for Athens not to break down the common moral sanction of mankind, but to permit that equity and justice shall still remain as a refuge for men in trouble, with some indulgence even towards those who may be unable to make out a case of full and strict right. Most of all was this the interest of Athens herself, inasmuch as her ruin, if it ever occurred, would be awful both as punishment to herself and as lesson to others.—“We are not afraid of that (rejoined the Athenian) even if our empire should be overthrown. It is not imperial cities like Sparta who deal harshly with the conquered. Moreover, our present contest is not undertaken against Sparta; it is a contest to determine whether subjects shall by their own attack prevail over their rulers. This is a risk for us to judge of: in the mean time, let us remind you that we come here for the advantage of our own empire, and that we are now speaking with a view to your safety; wishing to get you under our empire without trouble to ourselves, and to preserve you for the mutual benefit of both of us.”—“Cannot you leave us alone, and let us be your friends instead of enemies, but neither allies of you nor of Sparta?” said the Melians.—“No (is the reply); your friendship does us more harm than your enmity: your friendship is a proof of our weakness, in the eyes of our subject-allies; your enmity will give a demonstration of our power.”—“But do your subjects really take such[p. 112] a measure of equity, as to put us, who have no sort of connection with you, on the same footing with themselves, most of whom are your own colonists, while many of them have even revolted from you and been reconquered?”—“They do: for they think that both one and the other have fair ground for claiming independence, and that if you are left independent, this arises only from your power and from our fear to attack you. So that your submission will not only enlarge our empire, but strengthen our security throughout the whole; especially as you are islanders, and feeble islanders too, while we are lords of the sea.”—“But surely that very circumstance is in other ways a protection to you, as evincing your moderation: for if you attack us, you will at once alarm all neutrals, and convert them into enemies.”—“We are in little fear of continental cities, who are out of our reach and not likely to take part against us, but only of islanders; either yet unincorporated in our empire, like you, or already in our empire and discontented with the constraint which it imposes. It is such islanders who by their ill-judged obstinacy are likely, with their eyes open, to bring both us and themselves into peril.”—“We know well (said the Melians, after some other observations had been interchanged) how terrible it is to contend against your superior power, and your good fortune; nevertheless, we trust that in point of fortune we shall receive fair treatment from the gods, since we stand upon grounds of right against injustice; and as to our inferior power, we trust that the deficiency will be made up by our ally Sparta, whose kindred race will compel her from very shame to aid us.”—“We too (replied the Athenians) think that we shall not be worse off than others in regard to the divine favor. For we neither advance any claim, nor do any act, overpassing that which men believe in regard to the gods, and wish in regard to themselves. What we believe about the gods is the same as that which we see to be the practice of men: the impulse of nature inclines them of necessity to rule over what is inferior in force to themselves. This is the principle on which we now proceed,—not having been the first either to lay it down or to follow it, but finding it established and likely to continue for ever,—and knowing well too that you or others in our position would do as much. As for your expectations from the Lacedæmonians, founded on the disgrace of their[p. 113] remaining deaf to your call, we congratulate you indeed on your innocent simplicity, but we at the same time deprecate such foolishness. For the Lacedæmonians are indeed most studious of excellence in regard to themselves and their own national customs. But looking at their behavior towards others, we affirm roundly, and can prove by many examples of their history, that they are of all men the most conspicuous in construing what is pleasing as if it were honorable, and what is expedient as if it were just. Now that is not the state of mind which you require, to square with your desperate calculations of safety.”

After various other observations interchanged in a similar tenor, the Athenian envoys, strenuously urging upon the Melians to reconsider the matter more cautiously among themselves, withdrew, and after a certain interval were recalled by the Melian council to hear the following words: “We hold to the same opinion, as at first, men of Athens: we shall not surrender the independence of a city which has already stood for seven hundred years; we shall yet make an effort to save ourselves, relying on that favorable fortune which the gods have hitherto vouchsafed to us, as well as upon aid from men, and especially from the Lacedæmonians. We request that we may be considered as your friends, but as hostile to neither party, and that you will leave the island after concluding such a truce as may be mutually acceptable.”—“Well (said the Athenian envoys), you alone seem to consider future contingencies as clearer than the facts before your eyes, and to look at an uncertain distance, through your own wishes, as if it were present reality. You have staked your all upon the Lacedæmonians, upon fortune, and upon fond hopes; and, with your all, you will come to ruin.”

The siege was forthwith commenced. A wall of circumvallation, distributed in portions among the different allies of Athens, was constructed round the town; which was left under full blockade, both by sea and land, while the rest of the armament retired home. The town remained blocked up for several months. During the course of that time, the besieged made two successful sallies, which afforded them some temporary relief, and forced the Athenians to send an additional detachment, under Philokratês. At length the provisions within were exhausted;[p. 114] plots for betrayal commenced among the Melians themselves, so that they were constrained to surrender at discretion. The Athenians resolved to put to death all the men of military age and to sell the women and children as slaves. Who the proposer of this barbarous resolution was, Thucydidês does not say; but Plutarch and others inform us that Alkibiadês[162] was strenuous in supporting it. Five hundred Athenian settlers were subsequently sent thither, to form a new community: apparently not as kleruchs, or out-citizens of Athens, but as new Melians.[163]

Taking the proceedings of the Athenians towards Mêlos from the beginning to the end, they form one of the grossest and most inexcusable pieces of cruelty combined with injustice which Grecian history presents to us. In appreciating the cruelty of such wholesale executions, we ought to recollect that the laws of war placed the prisoner altogether at the disposal of his conqueror, and that an Athenian garrison, if captured by the Corinthians in Naupaktus, Nisæa, or elsewhere, would assuredly have undergone the same fate, unless in so far as they might be kept for exchange. But the treatment of the Melians goes beyond all rigor of the laws of war; for they had never been at war with Athens, nor had they done anything to incur her enmity. Moreover, the acquisition of the island was of no material value to Athens; not sufficient to pay the expenses of the armament employed in its capture. And while the gain was thus in every sense slender, the shock to Grecian feeling by the whole proceeding seems to have occasioned serious mischief to Athens. Far from tending to strengthen her entire empire, by sweeping in this small insular population, who had hitherto been neutral and harmless, it raised nothing but odium against her, and was treasured up in after times as among the first of her misdeeds.

To gratify her pride of empire by a new conquest—easy to[p. 115] effect, though of small value—was doubtless her chief motive; probably also strengthened by pique against Sparta, between whom and herself a thoroughly hostile feeling subsisted, and by a desire to humiliate Sparta through the Melians. This passion for new acquisition, superseding the more reasonable hopes of recovering the lost portions of her empire, will be seen in the coming chapters breaking out with still more fatal predominance.

Both these two points, it will be observed, are prominently marked in the dialogue set forth by Thucydidês. I have already stated that this dialogue can hardly represent what actually passed, except as to a few general points, which the historian has followed out into deductions and illustrations,[164] thus dramatizing the given situation in a powerful and characteristic manner. The language put into the mouth of the Athenian envoys is that of pirates and robbers, as Dionysius of Halikarnassus[165] long ago remarked; intimating his suspicion that Thucydidês had so set out the case for the purpose of discrediting the country which had sent him into exile. Whatever may be thought of this suspicion, we may at least affirm that the arguments which he here ascribes to Athens are not in harmony even with the defects of the Athenian character. Athenian speakers are more open to the charge of equivocal wording, multiplication of false pretences, softening down the bad points of their case, putting an amiable name upon vicious acts, employing what is properly called sophistry, where their purpose needs it.[166] Now the language of the envoy at Mêlos, which has been sometimes cited as illustrating the immorality of the class or profession—falsely called a school—named Sophists at Athens, is above all things remarkable for a sort of audacious frankness; a disdain not merely of sophistry, in the modern sense of the word, but even[p. 116] of such plausible excuse as might have been offered. It has been strangely argued, as if “The good old plan, that they should take who have the power, and they should keep who can,” had been first discovered and openly promulgated by Athenian sophists; whereas the true purpose and value of sophists, even in the modern and worst sense of the word—putting aside the perversion of applying that sense to the persons called sophists at Athens—is, to furnish plausible matter of deceptive justification, so that the strong man may be enabled to act upon this “good old plan” as much as he pleases, but without avowing it, and while professing fair dealing or just retaliation for some imaginary wrong. The wolf in Æsop’s fable (of the Wolf and the Lamb) speaks like a sophist; the Athenian envoy at Mêlos speaks in a manner totally unlike a sophist, either in the Athenian sense or in the modern sense of the word; we may add, unlike an Athenian at all, as Dionysius has observed.

As a matter of fact and practice, it is true that stronger states, in Greece and in the contemporary world, did habitually tend, as they have tended throughout the course of history down to the present day, to enlarge their power at the expense of the weaker. Every territory in Greece, except Attica and Arcadia, had been seized by conquerors who dispossessed or enslaved the prior inhabitants. We find Brasidas reminding his soldiers of the good sword of their forefathers, which had established dominion over men far more numerous than themselves, as matter of pride and glory:[167] and when we come to the times of Philip and Alexander of Macedon, we shall see the lust of conquest reaching a pitch never witnessed among free Greeks. Of right thus founded on simple superiority of force, there were abundant examples to be quoted, as parallels to the Athenian conquest of Mêlos: but that which is unparalleled is the mode adopted by the Athenian envoy of justifying it, or rather of setting aside all justification, looking at the actual state of civilization in Greece. A barbarous invader casts his sword into the scale in lieu of argument: a civilized conqueror is bound by received international morality to furnish some justification,—a good plea, if he can,—a false[p. 117] plea, or sham plea, if he has no better. But the Athenian envoy neither copies the contemptuous silence of the barbarian nor the smooth lying of the civilized invader. Though coming from the most cultivated city in Greece, where the vices prevalent were those of refinement and not of barbarism, he disdains the conventional arts of civilized diplomacy more than would have been done by an envoy even of Argos or Korkyra. He even disdains to mention, what might have been said with perfect truth as a matter of fact, whatever may be thought of its sufficiency as a justification, that the Melians had enjoyed for the last fifty years the security of the Ægean waters at the cost of Athens and her allies, without any payment of their own.

So at least he is made to do in the Thucydidean dramatic fragment,—Μήλου Ἅλωσις (The Capture of Melos),—if we may parody the title of the lost tragedy of Phrynichus “The Capture of Miletus.” And I think a comprehensive view of the history of Thucydidês will suggest to us the explanation of this drama, with its powerful and tragical effect. The capture of Mêlos comes immediately before the great Athenian expedition against Syracuse, which was resolved upon three or four months afterwards, and despatched during the course of the following summer. That expedition was the gigantic effort of Athens, which ended in the most ruinous catastrophe known to ancient history. From such a blow it was impossible for Athens to recover. Though thus crippled, indeed, she struggled against its effects with surprising energy; but her fortune went on, in the main, declining,—yet with occasional moments of apparent restoration,—until her complete prostration and subjugation by Lysander. Now Thucydidês, just before he gets upon the plane of this descending progress, makes a halt, to illustrate the sentiment of Athenian power in its most exaggerated, insolent, and cruel manifestation, by this dramatic fragment of the envoys at Mêlos. It will be recollected that Herodotus, when about to describe the forward march of Xerxês into Greece, destined to terminate in such fatal humiliation, impresses his readers with an elaborate idea of the monarch’s insolence and superhuman pride, by various conversations between him and the courtiers about him, as well as by other anecdotes, combined with the overwhelming specifications of the muster at Doriskus. Such moral[p. 118] contrasts and juxtapositions, especially that of ruinous reverse following upon overweening good fortune, were highly interesting to the Greek mind. And Thucydidês—having before him an act of great injustice and cruelty on the part of Athens, committed exactly at this point of time—has availed himself of the form of dialogue, for once in his history, to bring out the sentiments of a disdainful and confident conqueror in dramatic antithesis. They are, however, his own sentiments, conceived as suitable to the situation; not those of the Athenian envoy,—still less, those of the Athenian public,—least of all, those of that much-calumniated class of men, the Athenian sophists.


CHAPTER LVII.
SICILIAN AFFAIRS AFTER THE EXTINCTION OF THE GELONIAN DYNASTY.

In the preceding chapters, I have brought down the general history of the Peloponnesian war to the time immediately preceding the memorable Athenian expedition against Syracuse, which changed the whole face of the war. At this period, and for some time to come, the history of the Peloponnesian Greeks becomes intimately blended with that of the Sicilian Greeks. But hitherto the connection between the two has been merely occasional, and of little reciprocal effect: so that I have thought it for the convenience of the reader to keep the two streams entirely separate, omitting the proceedings of Athens in Sicily during the first ten years of the war. I now proceed to fill up this blank: to recount as much as can be made out of Sicilian events during the interval between 461-416 B.C., and to assign the successive steps whereby the Athenians entangled themselves in ambitious projects against Syracuse, until they at length came to stake the larger portion of their force upon that fatal hazard.

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The extinction of the Gelonian dynasty at Syracuse,[168] followed by the expulsion or retirement of all the other despots throughout the island, left the various Grecian cities to reorganize themselves in free and self-constituted governments. Unfortunately, our memorials respecting this revolution are miserably scanty; but there is enough to indicate that it was something much more than a change from single-headed to popular government. It included, farther, transfers on the largest scale both of inhabitants and of property. The preceding despots had sent many old citizens into exile, transplanted others from one part of Sicily to another, and provided settlements for numerous emigrants and mercenaries devoted to their interest. Of these proceedings much was reversed, when the dynasties were overthrown, so that the personal and proprietary revolution was more complicated and perplexing than the political. After a period of severe commotion, an accommodation was concluded, whereby the adherents of the expelled dynasty were planted partly in the territory of Messêne, partly in the reëstablished city of Kamarina in the eastern portion of the southern coast, bordering on Syracuse.[169]

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But though peace was thus reëstablished, these large mutations of inhabitants first begun by the despots,—and the incoherent mixture of races, religious institutions, dialects, etc., which was brought about unavoidably during the process,—left throughout Sicily a feeling of local instability, very different from the long traditional tenures in Peloponnesus and Attica, and numbered by foreign enemies among the elements of its weakness.[170] The wonder indeed rather is, that such real and powerful causes of disorder were soon so efficaciously controlled by the popular governments, that the half century now approaching was decidedly the most prosperous and undisturbed period in the history of the island.

The southern coast of Sicily was occupied, beginning from the westward by Selinus, Agrigentum, Gela, and Kamarina. Then came Syracuse, possessing the southeastern cape, and the southern portion of the eastern coast: next, on the eastern coast, Leontini, Katana, and Naxos: Messênê, on the strait adjoining Italy. The centre of the island, and even much of the northern coast, was occupied by the non-Hellenic Sikels and Sikans: on this coast, Himera was the only Grecian city. Between Himera and Cape Lilybæum, the western corner of the island was occupied[p. 121] by the non-Hellenic cities of Egesta and Eryx, and by the Carthaginian seaports, of which Panormus (Palermo) was the principal.

Of these various Grecian cities, all independent, Syracuse was the first in power, Agrigentum the second. The causes above noticed, disturbing the first commencement of popular governments in all of them, were most powerfully operative at Syracuse. We do not know the particulars of the democratical constitution which was there established, but its stability was threatened by more than one ambitious pretender, eager to seize the sceptre of Gelo and Hiero. The most prominent among these pretenders was Tyndarion, who employed a considerable fortune in distributing largesses and procuring partisans among the poor. His political designs were at length so openly manifested, that he was brought to trial, condemned, and put to death; yet not without an abortive insurrection of his partisans to rescue him. After several leading citizens had tried, and failed in a similar manner, the people thought it expedient to pass a law similar to the Athenian ostracism, authorizing the infliction of temporary preventive banishment.[171] Under this law several powerful citizens were actually and speedily banished; and such was the abuse of the new engine, by the political parties in the city, that men of conspicuous position are said to have become afraid of meddling with public affairs. Thus put in practice, the institution is said to have given rise to new political contentions not less violent than those which it checked, insomuch that the Syracusans found themselves obliged to repeal the law not long after its introduction. We should have been glad to learn some particulars concerning this political experiment, beyond the meagre abstract given by Diodorus, and especially to know the precautionary securities by which the application of the ostracizing sentence was restrained at Syracuse. Perhaps no care was taken to copy the checks and formalities provided by Kleisthenês at Athens. Yet under all circumstances, the institution, though tutelary, if reserved for its proper emergencies, was eminently[p. 122] open to abuse, so that we have no reason to wonder that abuse occurred, especially at a period of great violence and discord. The wonder rather is, that it was so little abused at Athens.

Although the ostracism, or petalism, at Syracuse was speedily discontinued, it may probably have left a salutary impression behind, as far as we can judge from the fact that new pretenders to despotism are not hereafter mentioned. The republic increases in wealth, and manifests an energetic action in foreign affairs. The Syracusan admiral Phaӱllus was despatched with a powerful fleet to repress the piracies of the Tyrrhenian maritime towns, and after ravaging the island of Elba, returned home, under the suspicion of having been bought off by bribes from the enemy; on which accusation he was tried and banished, a second fleet of sixty triremes under Apellês being sent to the same regions. The new admiral not only plundered many parts of the Tyrrhenian coast, but also carried his ravages into the island of Corsica, at that time a Tyrrhenian possession, and reduced the island of Elba completely. His return was signalized by a large number of captives and a rich booty.[172]

Meanwhile the great antecedent revolutions, among the Grecian cities in Sicily had raised a new spirit among the Sikels of the interior, and inspired the Sikel prince Duketius, a man of spirit and ability, with large ideas of aggrandizement. Many exiled Greeks having probably sought service with him, it was either by their suggestion, or from having himself caught the spirit of Hellenic improvement, that he commenced the plan of bringing the petty Sikel communities into something like city life and collective coöperation. Having acquired glory by the capture of the Grecian town of Morgantina, he induced all the Sikel communities, with the exception of Hybla, to enter into a sort of federative compact. Next, in order to obtain a central point for the new organization, he transferred his own little town from the hill-top, called Menæ, down to a convenient spot of the neighboring plain, near to the sacred precinct of the gods called Paliki.[173] As the veneration paid to these gods, determined in[p. 123] part by the striking volcanic manifestations in the neighborhood, rendered this plain a suitable point of attraction for Sikels generally, Duketius was enabled to establish a considerable new city of Palikê, with walls of large circumference, and an ample range of adjacent land which he distributed among a numerous Sikel population, probably with some Greeks intermingled.

The powerful position which Duketius had thus acquired is attested by the aggressive character of his measures, intended gradually to recover a portion at least of that ground which the Greeks had appropriated at the expense of the indigenous population. The Sikel town of Ennesia had been seized by the Hieronian Greeks expelled from Ætna, and had received from them the name of Ætna:[174] Duketius now found means to reconquer it, after ensnaring by stratagem the leading magistrate. He was next bold enough to invade the territory of the Agrigentines, and to besiege one of their country garrisons called Motyum. We are impressed with a high idea of his power, when we learn that the Agrigentines, while marching to relieve the place, thought it necessary to invoke aid from the Syracusans, who sent to them a force under Bolkon. Over this united force Duketius gained a victory, in consequence of the treason or cowardice of Bolkon, as the Syracusans believed, insomuch that they condemned him to death. In the succeeding year, however, the good fortune of the Sikel prince changed. The united army of these two powerful cities raised the blockade of Motyum, completely defeated him in the field, and dispersed all his forces. Finding himself deserted by his comrades and even on the point of being betrayed, he took the desperate resolution of casting himself upon the mercy of the Syracusans. He rode off by night to the gates of Syracuse, entered the city unknown, and sat down as a suppliant on the altar in the agora, surrendering himself together with all his territory. A spectacle thus unexpected brought together a crowd of Syracuse citizens, exciting[p. 124] in them the strongest emotions: and when the magistrates convened the assembly for the purpose of deciding his fate, the voice of mercy was found paramount, in spite of the contrary recommendations of some of the political leaders. The most respected among the elder citizens—earnestly recommending mild treatment towards a foe thus fallen and suppliant, coupled with scrupulous regard not to bring upon the city the avenging hand of Nemesis—found their appeal to the generous sentiment of the people welcomed by one unanimous cry of “Save the suppliant.”[175] Duketius, withdrawn from the altar, was sent off to Corinth, under his engagement to live there quietly for the future; the Syracusans providing for his comfortable maintenance.

Amidst the cruelty habitual in ancient warfare, this remarkable incident excites mingled surprise and admiration. Doubtless the lenient impulse of the people mainly arose from their seeing Duketius actually before them in suppliant posture at their altar, instead of being called upon to determine his fate in his absence,—just as the Athenian people were in like manner moved by the actual sight of the captive Dorieus, and induced to spare his life, on an occasion which will be hereafter recounted.[176] If in some instances the assembled people, obeying the usual vehemence of multitudinous sentiment, carried severities to excess,—so, in other cases, as well as in this, the appeal to their humane impulses will be found to have triumphed over prudential regard for future security. Such was the fruit which the Syracusans reaped for sparing Duketius, who, after residing a year or two at Corinth, violated his parole. Pretending to have received an order from the oracle, he assembled a number of colonists, whom he conducted into Sicily to found a city at Kalê Aktê on the northern coast belonging to the Sikels. We cannot doubt that when the Syracusans found in what manner their lenity was requited, the speakers who had recommended severe treatment would take great credit on the score of superior foresight.[177]

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But the return of this energetic enemy was not the only mischief which the Syracusans suffered. Their resolution to spare Duketius had been adopted without the concurrence of the Agrigentines, who had helped to conquer him; and the latter, when they saw him again in the island, and again formidable, were so indignant that they declared war against Syracuse. A standing jealousy prevailed between these two great cities, the first and second powers in Sicily. War actually broke out between them, wherein other Greek cities took part. After lasting some time, with various acts of hostility, and especially a serious defeat of the Agrigentines at the river Himera, these latter solicited and obtained peace.[178] The discord between the two cities, however, had left leisure to Duketius to found the city of Kalê Aktê, and to make some progress in reëstablishing his ascendency over the Sikels, in which operation he was overtaken by death. He probably left no successor to carry on his plans, so that the Syracusans, pressing their attacks vigorously, reduced many of the Sikel townships in the island, regaining his former conquest, Morgantinê, and subduing even the strong position and town called Trinakia,[179] after a brave and desperate resistance on the part of the inhabitants.

[p. 126]

By this large accession both of subjects and of tribute, combined with her recent victory over Agrigentum, Syracuse was elevated to the height of power, and began to indulge schemes for extending her ascendency throughout the island: with which view her horsemen were doubled in number, and one hundred new triremes were constructed.[180] Whether any, or what, steps were taken to realize her designs our historian does not tell us. But the position of Sicily remains the same at the beginning of the Peloponnesian war: Syracuse, the first city as to power, indulging in ambitious dreams, if not in ambitious aggressions; Agrigentum, a jealous second, and almost a rival; the remaining Grecian states maintaining their independence, yet not without mistrust and apprehension.

Though the particular phenomena of this period, however, have not come to our knowledge, we see enough to prove that it was one of great prosperity for Sicily. The wealth, commerce, and public monuments of Agrigentum, especially appear to have even surpassed those of the Syracusans. Her trade with Carthage and the African coast was both extensive and profitable; for at this time neither the vine nor the olive were much cultivated in Libya, and the Carthaginians derived their wine and oil from the southern territory of Sicily,[181] particularly that of Agrigentum. The temples of the city, among which that of Olympic Zeus stood foremost, were on the grandest scale of magnificence, surpassing everything of the kind in Sicily. The population of the city, free as well as slave, was very great: the number of rich men keeping chariots and competing for the prize at the Olympic games was renowned, not less than the accumulation of[p. 127] works of art, statues and pictures,[182] with manifold insignia of ornament and luxury. All this is particularly brought to our notice because of the frightful catastrophe which desolated Agrigentum in 406 B.C. from the hands of the Carthaginians. It was in the interval which we are now describing that this prosperity was accumulated; doubtless not in Agrigentum alone, but more or less throughout all the Grecian cities of the island.

Nor was it only in material prosperity that they were distinguished. At this time, the intellectual movement in some of the Italian and Sicilian towns was very considerable. The inconsiderable town of Elea in the gulf of Poseidonia nourished two of the greatest speculative philosophers in Greece, Parmenidês and Zeno. Empedoklês of Agrigentum was hardly less eminent in the same department, yet combining with it a political and practical efficiency. The popular character of the Sicilian governments stimulated the cultivation of rhetorical studies, wherein not only Empedoklês and Pôlus at Agrigentum, but Tisias and Korax at Syracuse, and still more, Gorgias at Leontini, acquired great reputation.[183] The constitution established at Agrigentum after the dispossession of the Theronian dynasty was at first not thoroughly democratical, the principal authority residing in a large Senate of One Thousand members. We are told even that an ambitious club of citizens were aiming at the reëstablishment of a despotism, when Empedoklês, availing himself of wealth and high position, took the lead in a popular opposition; so as not only to defeat this intrigue, but also to put down the Senate of One Thousand, and render the government completely democratical. His influence over the people was enhanced by the vein of mysticism, and pretence to miraculous or divine endowments, which accompanied his philosophical speculations, in a manner[p. 128] similar to Pythagoras.[184] The same combination of rhetoric with physical speculation appears also in Gorgias of Leontini, whose celebrity as a teacher throughout Greece was both greater and earlier than that of any one else. It was a similar demand for popular speaking in the assembly and the judicatures which gave encouragement to the rhetorical teachers Tisias and Korax at Syracuse.

In this state of material prosperity, popular politics, and intellectual activity, the Sicilian towns were found at the breaking out of the great struggle between Athens and the Peloponnesian confederacy in 431 B.C. In that struggle the Italian and Sicilian Greeks had no direct concern, nor anything to fear from the ambition of Athens; who, though she had founded Thurii in 443 B.C., appears to have never aimed at any political ascendency even over that town, much less anywhere else on the coast. But the Sicilian Greeks, though forming a system apart in their own island, from which it suited the dominant policy of Syracuse to exclude all foreign interference,[185] were yet connected, by sympathy, and on one side even by alliances, with the two main streams of Hellenic politics. Among the allies of Sparta were numbered all or most of the Dorian cities of Sicily,—Syracuse, Kamarina, Gela, Agrigentum, Selinus, perhaps Himera and Messênê,—together with Lokri and Tarentum in Italy: among the allies of Athens, perhaps the Chalkidic or Ionic Rhegium in Italy.[186] Whether the Ionic cities in Sicily—Naxos, Katana, and Leontini—were at this time united with Athens by any special treaty, is very doubtful. But if we examine the state of politics prior[p. 129] to the breaking out of the war, it will be found that the connection of the Sicilian cities on both sides with Central Greece was rather one of sympathy and tendency than of pronounced obligation and action. The Dorian Sicilians, though doubtless sharing the antipathy of the Peloponnesian Dorians to Athens, had never been called upon for any coöperation with Sparta; nor had the Ionic Sicilians yet learned to look to Athens for protection against their powerful neighbor Syracuse.

It was the memorable quarrel between Corinth and Korkyra, and the intervention of Athens in that quarrel (B.C. 433-432), which brought the Sicilian parties one step nearer to coöperation in the Peloponnesian quarrel, in two different ways; first, by exciting the most violent anti-Athenian war spirit in Corinth, with whom the Sicilian Dorians held their chief commerce and sympathy,—next, by providing a basis for the action of Athenian maritime force in Italy and Sicily, which would have been impracticable without an established footing in Korkyra. But Plutarch—whom most historians have followed—is mistaken, and is contradicted by Thucydidês, when he ascribes to the Athenians at this time ambitious projects in Sicily of the nature of those which they came to conceive seven or eight years afterwards. At the outbreak, and for some years before the outbreak, of the war, the policy of Athens was purely conservative, and that of her enemies aggressive, as I have shown in a former chapter. At that moment, Sparta and Corinth anticipated large assistance from the Sicilian Dorians, in ships of war, in money, and in provisions; while the value of Korkyra as an ally of Athens consisted in affording facilities for obstructing such reinforcements, far more than from any anticipated conquests.[187]

[p. 130]

In the spring of 431 B.C., the Spartans, then organizing their first invasion of Attica, and full of hope that Athens would be crushed in one or two campaigns, contemplated the building of a vast fleet of five hundred ships of war among the confederacy. A considerable portion of this charge was imposed upon the Italian and Sicilian Dorians, and a contribution in money besides; with instructions to refrain from any immediate declaration against Athens until their fleet should be ready.[188] Of such expected succor, indeed, little was ever realized in any way; in ships, nothing at all. But the expectations and orders of Sparta, show[p. 131] that here as elsewhere she was then on the offensive, and Athens only on the defensive. Probably the Corinthians had encouraged the expectation of ample reinforcements from Syracuse and the neighboring towns, a hope which must have contributed largely to the confidence with which they began the struggle. What were the causes which prevented it from being realized, we are not distinctly told; and we find Hermokratês the Syracusan reproaching his countrymen fifteen years afterwards, immediately before the great Athenian expedition against Syracuse, with their antecedent apathy.[189] But it is easy to see, that as the Sicilian Greeks had no direct interest in the contest,—neither wrongs to avenge, nor dangers to apprehend, from Athens,—nor any habit of obeying requisitions from Sparta, so they might naturally content themselves with expressions of sympathy and promises of aid in case of need, without taxing themselves to the enormous extent which it pleased Sparta to impose, for purposes both aggressive and purely Peloponnesian. Perhaps the leading men in Syracuse, from attachment to Corinth, may have sought to act upon the order. But no similar motive would be found operative either at Agrigentum or at Gela or Selinus.

Though the order was not executed, however, there can be little doubt that it was publicly announced and threatened, thus becoming known to the Ionic cities in Sicily as well as to Athens; and that it weighed materially in determining the latter afterwards to assist those cities, when they sent to invoke her aid. Instead of despatching their forces to Peloponnesus, where they had nothing to gain, the Sicilian Dorians preferred attacking the Ionic cities in their own island, whose territory they might have reasonable hopes of conquering and appropriating,—Naxos, Katana, and Leontini. These cities doubtless sympathized with Athens in her struggle against Sparta; yet, far from being strong enough to assist her or to threaten their Dorian neighbors, they were unable to defend themselves without Athenian aid. They were assisted by the Dorian city of Kamarina, which was afraid of her powerful border city Syracuse, and by Rhegium in Italy; while Lokri in Italy, the bitter enemy of Rhegium, sided with Syracuse against them. In the fifth summer of the war, finding[p. 132] themselves blockaded by sea and confined to their walls, they sent to Athens, both to entreat succor, as allies[190] and Ionians, and to represent that, if Syracuse succeeded in crushing them, she and the other Dorians in Sicily would forthwith send over the positive aid which the Peloponnesians had so long been invoking. The eminent rhetor Gorgias of Leontini, whose peculiar style of speaking is said to have been new to the Athenian assembly, and to have produced a powerful effect, was at the head of this embassy. It is certain that this rhetor procured for himself numerous pupils and large gains, not merely in Athens but in many other towns of Central Greece,[191] though it is exaggeration to ascribe to his pleading the success of the present application.

Now the Athenians had a real interest as well in protecting these Ionic Sicilians from being conquered by the Dorians in the island, as in obstructing the transport of Sicilian corn to Peloponnesus: and they sent twenty triremes under Lachês and Charœadês, with instructions, while accomplishing these objects, to ascertain the possibility of going beyond the defensive, and making conquests. Taking station at Rhegium, Lachês did something towards rescuing the Ionic cities in part from their maritime blockade, and even undertook an abortive expedition against the Lipari isles, which were in alliance with Syracuse.[192] Throughout the ensuing year, he pressed the war in the neighborhood of Rhegium and Messênê, his colleague Charœadês being slain. Attacking Mylæ in the Messenian territory, he was fortunate enough to gain so decisive an advantage over the troops of Messênê, that that city itself capitulated to him, gave hostages, and enrolled itself as ally of Athens and the Ionic cities.[193] He also[p. 133] contracted an alliance with the non-Hellenic city of Egesta, in the northwest portion of Sicily, and he invaded the territory of Lokri, capturing one of the country forts on the river Halex:[194] after which, in a second debarkation, he defeated a Lokrian detachment under Proxenus. But he was unsuccessful in an expedition into the interior of Sicily against Inêssus. This was a native Sikel township, held in coercion by a Syracusan garrison in the acropolis; which the Athenians vainly attempted to storm, being repulsed with loss.[195] Lachês concluded his operations in the autumn by an ineffective incursion on the territory of Himera and on the Lipari isles. On returning to Rhegium at the beginning of the ensuing year (B.C. 425), he found Pythodôrus already arrived from Athens to supersede him.[196]

That officer had come as the forerunner of a more considerable expedition, intended to arrive in the spring, under Eurymedon and Sophoklês, who were to command in conjunction with himself. The Ionic cities in Sicily, finding the squadron under Lachês insufficient to render them a match for their enemies at sea, had been emboldened to send a second embassy to Athens, with request for farther reinforcements, at the same time making increased efforts to enlarge their own naval force. It happened that at this moment the Athenians had no special employment elsewhere for their fleet, which they desired to keep in constant practice. They accordingly resolved to send to Sicily forty additional triremes, in full hopes of bringing the contest to a speedy close.[197]

Early in the ensuing spring, Eurymedon and Sophoklês started from Athens for Sicily in command of this squadron, with instructions to afford relief at Korkyra in their way, and with Demosthenês on board to act on the coast of Peloponnesus. It was this fleet which, in conjunction with the land-forces under the command of Kleon, making a descent almost by accident on the Laconian coast at Pylos, achieved for Athens the most signal success of the whole war, the capture of the Lacedæmonian hoplites in Sphakteria.[198] But the fleet was so long occupied, first in[p. 134] the blockade of that island, next in operations at Korkyra, that it did not reach Sicily until about the month of September.[199]

Such delay, eminently advantageous for Athens generally, was fatal to her hopes of success in Sicily during the whole summer. For Pythodôrus, acting only with the fleet previously commanded by Lachês at Rhegium, was not merely defeated in a descent upon Lokri, but experienced a more irreparable loss by the revolt of Messênê, which had surrendered to Lachês a few months before; and which, together with Rhegium, had given to the Athenians the command of the strait. Apprized of the coming Athenian fleet, the Syracusans were anxious to deprive them of this important base of operations against the island; and a fleet of twenty sail—half Syracusan, half Lokrian—was enabled by the concurrence of a party in Messênê to seize the town. It would appear that the Athenian fleet was then at Rhegium, but that town was at the same time threatened by the entrance of the entire land-force of Lokri, together with a body of Rhegine exiles: these latter were even not without hopes of obtaining admission by means of a favorable party in the town. Though such hopes were disappointed, yet the diversion prevented all succor from Rhegium to Messênê. The latter town now served as a harbor for the fleet hostile to Athens,[200] which was speedily reinforced to more than thirty sail, and began maritime operations forthwith, in hopes of crushing the Athenians and capturing Rhegium, before Eurymedon should arrive. But the Athenians, though they had only sixteen triremes together with eight others from Rhegium, gained a decided victory, in an action brought on accidentally for the possession of a merchantman sailing through the strait. They put the enemy’s ships to flight, and drove them to seek refuge, some under protection of the Syracusan land-force at Cape Pelôrus near Messênê, others under the Lokrian force near Rhegium, each as they best could, with the loss of one trireme.[201] This de[p. 135]feat so broke up the scheme of Lokrian operations against the latter place, that their land-force retired from the Rhegine territory, while the whole defeated squadron was reunited on the opposite coast under Cape Pelôrus. Here the ships were moored close on shore under the protection of the land-force, when the Athenians and Rhegines came up to attack them; but without success, and even with the loss of one trireme, which the men on shore contrived to seize and detain by a grappling-iron; her crew escaping by swimming to the vessels of their comrades. Having repulsed the enemy, the Syracusans got aboard, and rowed close along-shore, partly aided by tow-ropes, to the harbor of Messênê, in which transit they were again attacked, but the Athenians were a second time beaten off with the loss of another ship. Their superior seamanship was of no avail in this along-shore fighting.[202]

The Athenian fleet was now suddenly withdrawn in order to prevent an intended movement in Kamarina, where a philo-Syracusan party under Archias threatened revolt: and the Messenian forces, thus left free, invaded the territory of their neighbor, the Chalkidic city of Naxos, sending their fleet round to the mouth of the Akesinês near that city. They were ravaging the lands, and were preparing to storm the town, when a considerable body of the indigenous Sikels were seen descending the neighboring hills to succor the Naxians: upon which the latter, elate with the sight, and mistaking the new comers for their Grecian brethren from Leontini, rushed out of the gates and made a vigorous sally at a moment when their enemies were unprepared. The Messenians were completely defeated, with the loss of no less than one thousand men, and with a still greater loss sustained in[p. 136] their retreat home from the pursuit of the Sikels. Their fleet went back also to Messênê, from whence such of the ships as were not Messenian returned home. So much was the city weakened by its recent defeat, that a Lokrian garrison was sent for its protection under Demomelês, while the Leontines and Naxians, together with the Athenian squadron on returning from Kamarina, attacked it by land and sea in this moment of distress. A well-timed sally of the Messenians and Lokrians, however, dispersed the Leontine land-force; but the Athenian force, landing from their ships, attacked the assailants while in the disorder of pursuit, and drove them back within the walls. The scheme against Messênê, however, had now become impracticable, so that the Athenians crossed the strait to Rhegium.[203]

Thus indecisive was the result of operations in Sicily, during the first half of the seventh year of the Peloponnesian war: nor does it appear that the Athenians undertook anything considerable during the autumnal half, though the full fleet under Eurymedon had then joined Pythodôrus.[204] Yet while the presence of so large an Athenian fleet at Rhegium would produce considerable effect upon the Syracusan mind, the triumphant promise of Athenian affairs, and the astonishing humiliation of Sparta during the months immediately following the capture of Sphakteria, probably struck much deeper. In the spring of the eighth year of the war, Athens was not only in possession of the Spartan prisoners, but also of Pylos and Kythêra, so that a rising among the Helots appeared noway improbable. She was in the full swing of hope, while her discouraged enemies were all thrown on the defensive. Hence the Sicilian Dorians, intimidated by a state of affairs so different from that in which they had begun the war three years before, were now eager to bring about a pacification in their island.[205] The Dorian city of Kamarina, which had hitherto acted along with the Ionic or Chalkidic cities, was the first to make a separate accommodation with its neighboring city of Gela; at which latter place deputies were invited to attend from[p. 137] all the cities in the island, with a view to the conclusion of peace.[206]

This congress met in the spring of 424 B.C., when Syracuse, the most powerful city in Sicily, took the lead in urging the common interest which all had in the conclusion of peace. The Syracusan Hermokratês, chief adviser of this policy in his native city, now appeared to vindicate and enforce it in the congress. He was a well-born, brave, and able man, clear-sighted in regard to the foreign interests of his country; but at the same time of pronounced oligarchical sentiments, mistrusted by the people, seemingly with good reason, in regard to their internal constitution. The speech which Thucydidês places in his mouth, on the present occasion, sets forth emphatically the necessity of keeping Sicily at all cost free from foreign intervention, and of settling at home all differences which might arise between the various Sicilian cities. Hermokratês impressed upon his hearers that the aggressive schemes of Athens, now the greatest power in Greece, were directed against all Sicily, and threatened all cities alike, Ionians not less than Dorians. If they enfeebled one another by internal quarrels, and then invited the Athenians as arbitrators, the result would be ruin and slavery to all. The Athenians were but too ready to encroach everywhere, even without invitation: they had now come, with a zeal outrunning all obligation, under pretence of aiding the Chalkidic cities who had never aided them, but in the real hope of achieving conquest for themselves. The Chalkidic cities must not rely upon their Ionic kindred for security against evil designs on the part of Athens: as Sicilians, they had a paramount interest in upholding the independence of the island. If possible, they ought to maintain undisturbed peace; but if that were impossible, it was essential at least to confine the war to Sicily, apart from any foreign intruders. Complaints should be exchanged, and injuries redressed, by all, in a spirit of mutual forbearance; of which Syracuse—the first city in the island, and best able to sustain the brunt of war—was prepared to set the example, without that foolish over-valuation of favorable chances so ruinous even to first-rate powers, and with full sense of the uncertainty of the[p. 138] future. Let them all feel that they were neighbors, inhabitants of the same island, and called by the common name of Sikeliots; and let them all with one accord repel the intrusion of aliens in their affairs, whether as open assailants or as treacherous mediators.[207]

This harangue from Hermokratês, and the earnest dispositions of Syracuse for peace, found general sympathy among the Sicilian cities, Ionic as well as Doric. All of them doubtless suffered by the war, and the Ionic cities, who had solicited the intervention of the Athenians as protectors against Syracuse, conceived from the evident uneasiness of the latter a fair assurance of her pacific demeanor for the future. Accordingly, the peace was accepted by all the belligerent parties, each retaining what they possessed, except that the Syracusans agreed to cede Morgantinê to Kamarina, on receipt of a fixed sum of money.[208][p. 139] The Ionic cities stipulated that Athens should be included in the pacification; a condition agreed to by all, except the Epizephyrian Lokrians.[209] They then acquainted Eurymedon and his colleagues with the terms; inviting them to accede to the pacification in the name of Athens, and then to withdraw their fleet from Sicily. Nor had these generals any choice but to close with the proposition. Athens thus was placed on terms of peace with all the Sicilian cities, with liberty of access reciprocally to any single ship of war, but no armed force to cross the sea between Sicily and Peloponnesus. Eurymedon then sailed with his fleet home.[210]

On reaching Athens, however, he and his colleagues were received by the people with much displeasure. He himself was fined, and his colleagues Sophoklês and Pythodôrus banished, on the charge of having been bribed to quit Sicily, at a time when the fleet—so the Athenians believed—was strong enough to have made important conquests. Why the three colleagues were differently treated we are not informed.[211] This sentence was harsh and unmerited; for it does not seem that Eurymedon had it in his power to prevent the Ionic cities from concluding peace, while it is certain that without them he could have achieved nothing serious. All that seems unexplained in his conduct, as recounted by Thucydidês, is, that his arrival at Rhegium with the entire fleet in September, 425 B.C., does not seem to have been attended with any increased vigor or success, in the prosecution of the war. But the Athenians—besides an undue depreciation of the Sicilian cities, which we shall find fatally misleading them hereafter—were at this moment at the maximum of extravagant hopes, counting upon new triumphs everywhere, impatient of disappointment, and careless of proportion between the means intrusted to, and the objects expected from, their commanders. Such unmeasured confidence was painfully corrected in the course of a few months, by the battle of Delium[p. 140] and the losses in Thrace. But at the present moment, it was probably not less astonishing than grievous to the three generals, who had all left Athens prior to the success in Sphakteria.

The Ionic cities in Sicily were soon made to feel that they had been premature in sending away the Athenians. Dispute between Leontini and Syracuse, the same cause which had occasioned the invocation of Athens three years before, broke out afresh soon after the pacification of Gela. The democratical government of Leontini came to the resolution of strengthening their city by the enrolment of many new citizens; and a redivision of the territorial property of the state was projected in order to provide lots of land for these new-comers. But the aristocracy of the town upon whom the necessity would thus be imposed of parting with a portion of their lands, forestalled the project, seemingly before it was even formally decided, by entering into a treasonable correspondence with Syracuse, bringing in a Syracusan army, and expelling the Demos.[212] While these exiles found shelter as[p. 141] they could in other cities, the rich Leontines deserted and dismantled their own city, transferred their residence to Syracuse,[p. 142] and were enrolled as Syracusan citizens. To them the operation was exceedingly profitable, since they became masters of the properties of the exiled Demos in addition to their own. Presently, however, some of them, dissatisfied with their residence in Syracuse, returned to the abandoned city, and fitted up a portion of it called Phokeis, together with a neighboring strong post called Brikinnies. Here, after being joined by a considerable number of the exiled Demos, they contrived to hold out for some time against the efforts of the Syracusans to expel them from their fortifications.

The new enrolment of citizens, projected by the Leontine democracy, seems to date during the year succeeding the pacification of Gela, and was probably intended to place the city in a more defensible position in case of renewed attacks from Syracuse, thus compensating for the departure of the Athenian auxiliaries. The Leontine Demos, in exile and suffering, doubtless bitterly repenting that they had concurred in dismissing these auxiliaries, sent envoys to Athens with complaints, and renewed prayers for help.[213]

But Athens was then too much pressed to attend to their call; her defeat at Delium and her losses in Thrace had been followed by the truce for one year; and even during that truce, she had been called upon for strenuous efforts in Thrace to check the progress of Brasidas. After the expiration of that truce, she sent Phæax and two colleagues to Sicily (B.C. 422) with the modest force of two triremes. He was directed to try and organize an anti-Syracusan party in the island, for the purpose of reëstablishing the Leontine Demos. In passing along the coast of Italy, he concluded amicable relations with some of the Grecian cities,[p. 143] especially with Lokri, which had hitherto stood aloof from Athens; and his first addresses in Sicily appeared to promise success. His representations of danger from Syracusan ambition were well received both at Kamarina and Agrigentum. For on the one hand, that universal terror of Athens, which had dictated the pacification of Gela, had now disappeared; while on the other hand, the proceeding of Syracuse in regard to Leontini was well calculated to excite alarm. We see by that proceeding that sympathy between democracies in different towns was not universal: the Syracusan democracy had joined with the Leontine aristocracy to expel the Demos, just as the despot Gelon had combined with the aristocracy of Megara and Eubœa, sixty years before, and had sold the Demos of those towns into slavery. The birthplace of the famous rhetor Gorgias was struck out of the list of inhabited cities; its temples were deserted; and its territory had become a part of Syracuse. All these were circumstances so powerfully affecting Grecian imagination, that the Kamarinæans, neighbors of Syracuse on the other side, might well fear lest the like unjust conquest, expulsion, and absorption, should soon overtake them. Agrigentum, though without any similar fear, was disposed from policy, and jealousy of Syracuse, to second the views of Phæax. But when the latter proceeded to Gela, in order to procure the adhesion of that city in addition to the other two, he found himself met by so resolute an opposition that his whole scheme was frustrated, nor did he think it advisable even to open his case at Selinus or Himera. In returning, he crossed the interior of the island through the territory of the Sikels to Katana, passing in his way by Brikinnies, where the Leontine Demos were still maintaining a precarious existence. Having encouraged them to hold out by assurances of aid, he proceeded on his homeward voyage. In the strait of Messina, he struck upon some vessels conveying a body of expelled Lokrians from Messênê to Lokri. The Lokrians had got possession of Messênê after the pacification of Gela, by means of an internal sedition; but after holding it some time, they were now driven out by a second revolution. Phæax, being under agreement with Lokri, passed by these vessels without any act of hostility.[214]

[p. 144]

The Leontine exiles at Brikinnies, however, received no benefit from his assurances, and appear soon afterwards to have been completely expelled. Nevertheless, Athens was noway disposed, for a considerable time, to operations in Sicily. A few months after the visit of Phæax to that island, came the Peace of Nikias: the consequences of that peace occupied her whole attention in Peloponnesus, while the ambition of Alkibiadês carried her on for three years in intra-Peloponnesian projects and coöperation with Argos against Sparta. It was only in the year 417 B.C., when these projects had proved abortive, that she had leisure to turn her attention elsewhere. During that year, Nikias had contemplated an expedition against Amphipolis in conjunction with Perdikkas, whose desertion frustrated the scheme. The year 416 B.C. was that in which Mêlos was besieged and taken.

Meanwhile the Syracusans had cleared and appropriated all the territory of Leontini, which city now existed only in the talk and hopes of its exiles. Of these latter a portion seem to have continued at Athens, pressing their entreaties for aid, which began to obtain some attention about the year 417 B.C., when another incident happened to strengthen their chance of success. A quarrel broke out between the neighboring cities of Selinus (Hellenic) and Egesta (non-Hellenic) in the western corner of Sicily; partly about a piece of land on the river which divided the two territories, partly about some alleged wrong in cases of internuptial connection. The Selinuntines, not satisfied with their own strength, obtained assistance from the Syracusans their allies, and thus reduced Egesta to considerable straits by land as well as by sea.[215] Now the Egestæans had allied themselves with Lachês ten years before, during the first expedition sent by the Athenians to Sicily; upon the strength of which alliance they sent to Athens, to solicit her intervention for their defence, after having in vain applied both to Agrigentum and to Carthage. It may seem singular that Carthage did not at this time readily[p. 145] embrace the pretext for interference, considering that, ten years afterwards, she interfered with such destructive effect against Selinus. At this time, however, the fear of Athens and her formidable navy appears to have been felt even at Carthage,[216] thus protecting the Sicilian Greeks against the most dangerous of their neighbors.

The Egestæan envoys reached Athens in the spring of 416 B.C., at a time when the Athenians had no immediate project to occupy their thoughts, except the enterprise against Mêlos, which could not be either long or doubtful. Though urgent in setting forth the necessities of their position, they at the same time did not appear, like the Leontines, as mere helpless suppliants, addressing themselves to Athenian compassion. They rested their appeal chiefly on grounds of policy. The Syracusans, having already extinguished one ally of Athens (Leontini), were now hard pressing upon a second (Egesta), and would thus successively subdue them all: as soon as this was completed, there would be nothing left in Sicily except an omnipotent Dorian combination, allied to Peloponnesus both by race and descent, and sure to lend effective aid in putting down Athens herself. It was therefore essential for Athens to forestall this coming danger by interfering forthwith to uphold her remaining allies against the encroachments of Syracuse. If she would send a naval expedition adequate to the rescue of Egesta, the Egestæans themselves engaged to provide ample funds for the prosecution of the war.[217]

Such representations from the envoys, and fears of Syracusan aggrandizement as a source of strength to Peloponnesus, worked along with the prayers of the Leontines in rekindling the appetite of Athens for extending her power in Sicily. The impression made upon the Athenian public, favorable from the first, was wound up to a still higher pitch by renewed discussion. The envoys were repeatedly heard in the public assembly,[218] together[p. 146] with those citizens who supported their propositions. At the head of these was Alkibiadês, who aspired to the command of the intended expedition, tempting alike to his love of glory, of adventure, and of personal gain. But it is plain from these renewed discussions that at first the disposition of the people was by no means decided, much less unanimous, and that a considerable party sustained Nikias in a prudential opposition. Even at last, the resolution adopted was not one of positive consent, but a mean term such as perhaps Nikias himself could not resist. Special envoys were despatched to Egesta, partly to ascertain the means of the town to fulfil its assurance of defraying the costs of war, partly to make investigations on the spot and report upon the general state of affairs.

Perhaps the commissioners despatched were men themselves friendly to the enterprise; nor is it impossible that some of them may have been individually bribed by the Egestæans; at least such a supposition is not forbidden by the average state of Athenian public morality. But the most honest or even suspicious men could hardly be prepared for the deep-laid stratagems put in practice to delude them, on their arrival at Egesta. They were conducted to the rich temple of Aphroditê on Mount Eryx, where the plate and donatives were exhibited before them; abundant in number, and striking to the eye, yet composed mostly of silver-gilt vessels, which, though falsely passed off as solid gold, were in reality of little pecuniary value. Moreover, the Egestæan citizens were profuse in their hospitalities and entertainments both to the commissioners and to the crews of the triremes.[219] They collected together all the gold and silver vessels, dishes, and goblets, of Egesta, which they farther enlarged by borrowing additional ornaments of the same kind from the neighboring cities, Hellenic as well as Carthaginian. At each successive[p. 147] entertainment, every Egestæan host exhibited all this large stock of plate as his own property, the same stock being transferred from house to house for the occasion. A false appearance was thus created, of the large number of wealthy men in Egesta; and the Athenian seamen, while their hearts were won by the caresses, saw with amazement this prodigious display of gold and silver, and were thoroughly duped by the fraud.[220] To complete the illusion, by resting it on a basis of reality and prompt payment, sixty talents of uncoined silver were at once produced as ready for the operations of war. With this sum in hand, the Athenian commissioners, after finishing their examination, and the Egestæan envoys also, returned to Athens, which they reached in the spring of 415 B.C.,[221] about three months after the capture of Mêlos.

The Athenian assembly being presently convened to hear their report, the deluded commissioners drew a magnificent picture of the wealth, public and private, which they had actually seen and touched at Egesta, and presented the sixty talents—one month’s pay for a fleet of sixty triremes—as a small instalment out of the vast stock remaining behind. While they thus officially certified the capacity of the Egestæans to perform their promise of defraying the cost of the war, the seamen of their trireme, addressing the assembly in their character of citizens,—beyond all suspicion of being bribed,—overflowing with sympathy for the town in which they had just been so cordially welcomed, and full of wonder at the display of wealth which they had witnessed, would probably contribute still more effectually to kindle the sympathies of their countrymen. Accordingly, when the Eges[p. 148]tæan envoys again renewed their petitions and representations, confidently appealing to the scrutiny which they had undergone,—when the distress of the suppliant Leontines was again depicted,—the Athenian assembly no longer delayed coming to a final decision. They determined to send forthwith sixty triremes to Sicily, under three generals with full powers,—Nikias, Alkibiadês, and Lamachus; for the purpose, first, of relieving Egesta; next, as soon as that primary object should have been accomplished, of reëstablishing the city of Leontini; lastly, of furthering the views of Athens in Sicily, by any other means which they might find practicable.[222] Such resolution being passed, a fresh assembly was appointed for the fifth day following, to settle the details.

We cannot doubt that this assembly, in which the reports from Egesta were first delivered, was one of unqualified triumph to Alkibiadês and those who had from the first advocated the expedition, as well as of embarrassment and humiliation to Nikias, who had opposed it. He was probably more astonished than any one else at the statements of the commissioners and seamen, because he did not believe in the point which they went to establish. Yet he could not venture to contradict eye-witnesses speaking in evident good faith, and as the assembly went heartily along with them, he labored under great difficulty in repeating his objections to a scheme now so much strengthened in public favor. Accordingly, his speech was probably hesitating and ineffective; the more so, as his opponents, far from wishing to make good any personal triumph against himself, were forward in proposing his name first on the list of generals, in spite of his own declared repugnance.[223] But when the assembly broke up, he be[p. 149]came fearfully impressed with the perilous resolution which it had adopted, and at the same time conscious that he had not done justice to his own case against it. He therefore resolved to avail himself of the next assembly, four days afterwards, for the purpose of reopening the debate, and again denouncing the intended expedition. Properly speaking, the Athenians might have declined to hear him on this subject; indeed, the question which he raised could not be put without illegality: the principle of the measure had been already determined, and it remained only to arrange the details, for which special purpose the coming assembly had been appointed. But he was heard, and with perfect patience; and his harangue, a valuable sample, both of the man and of the time, is set forth at length by Thucydidês. I give here the chief points of it, not confining myself to the exact expressions.

“Though we are met to-day, Athenians, to settle the particulars of the expedition already pronounced against Sicily, yet I think we ought to take farther counsel whether it be well to send that expedition at all; nor ought we thus hastily to plunge, at the instance of aliens, into a dangerous war noway belonging to us. To myself personally, indeed, your resolution has offered an honorable appointment, and for my own bodily danger I care as little as any man: yet no considerations of personal dignity have ever before prevented me, nor shall now prevent me, from giving you my honest opinion, however it may clash with your habitual judgments. I tell you, then, that in your desire to go to Sicily, you leave many enemies here behind you, and that you will bring upon yourselves new enemies from thence to help them. Perhaps you fancy that your truce with Sparta is an adequate protection. In name, indeed (though only in name, thanks to the intrigues of parties both here and there), that truce may stand, so long as your power remains unimpaired; but on your first serious reverses, the enemy will eagerly take the opportunity of assailing you. Some of your most powerful enemies have never even accepted the truce; and if you divide your force as you now propose, they will probably set upon you at once along with the Sicilians, whom they would have been too happy to procure as coöperating allies at the beginning of the war. Recollect that your Chalkidian subjects in Thrace are still in revolt,[p. 150] and have never yet been conquered: other continental subjects, too, are not much to be trusted; and you are going to redress injuries offered to Egesta, before you have yet thought of redressing your own. Now your conquests in Thrace, if you make any, can be maintained; but Sicily is so distant, and the people so powerful, that you will never be able to maintain permanent ascendency; and it is absurd to undertake an expedition wherein conquest cannot be permanent, while failure will be destructive. The Egestæans alarm you by the prospect of Syracusan aggrandizement. But to me it seems that the Sicilian Greeks, even if they become subjects of Syracuse, will be less dangerous to you than they are at present: for as matters stand now, they might possibly send aid to Peloponnesus, from desire on the part of each to gain the favor of Lacedæmon, but imperial Syracuse would have no motive to endanger her own empire for the purpose of putting down yours. You are now full of confidence, because you have come out of the war better than you at first feared. But do not trust the Spartans: they, the most sensitive of all men to the reputation of superiority, are lying in wait to play you a trick in order to repair their own dishonor: their oligarchical machinations against you demand all your vigilance, and leave you no leisure to think of these foreigners at Egesta. Having just recovered ourselves somewhat from the pressure of disease and war, we ought to reserve this newly-acquired strength for our own purposes, instead of wasting it upon the treacherous assurances of desperate exiles from Sicily.”

Nikias then continued, doubtless turning towards Alkibiadês: “If any man, delighted to be named to the command, though still too young for it, exhorts you to this expedition in his own selfish interests, looking to admiration for his ostentation in chariot-racing, and to profit from his command, as a means of making good his extravagances, do not let such a man gain celebrity for himself at the hazard of the entire city. Be persuaded that such persons are alike unprincipled in regard to the public property and wasteful as to their own, and that this matter is too serious for the rash counsels of youth. I tremble when I see before me this band sitting, by previous concert, close to their leader in the assembly; and I in my turn exhort the elderly men, who are near them, not to be shamed out of their opposition by[p. 151] the fear of being called cowards. Let them leave to these men the ruinous appetite for what is not within reach, in the conviction that few plans ever succeed from passionate desire; many, from deliberate foresight. Let them vote against the expedition; maintaining undisturbed our present relations with the Sicilian cities, and desiring the Egestæans to close the war against Selinus, as they have begun it, without the aid of Athens.[224] Nor be[p. 152] thou afraid, prytanis (Mr. President), to submit this momentous question again to the decision of the assembly, seeing that breach of the law, in the presence of so many witnesses, cannot expose thee to impeachment, while thou wilt afford opportunity for the correction of a perilous misjudgment.”

Such were the principal points in the speech of Nikias on this memorable occasion. It was heard with attention, and probably made some impression, since it completely reopened the entire debate, in spite of the formal illegality. Immediately after he sat down, while his words were yet fresh in the ears of the audience, Alkibiadês rose to reply. The speech just made, bringing the expedition again into question, endangered his dearest hopes both of fame and of pecuniary acquisition; for his dreams went farther than those of any man in Athens; not merely to the conquest of all Sicily, but also to that of Carthage and the Carthaginian empire. Opposed to Nikias, both in personal character and in political tendencies, he had pushed his rivalry to such a degree of bitterness that at one moment a vote of ostracism had been on the point of deciding between them. That vote had indeed been turned aside by joint consent, and discharged upon Hyperbolus; yet the hostile feeling still continued on both sides, and Nikias had just manifested it by a parliamentary attack of the most galling character; all the more galling because it was strictly accurate and well deserved. Provoked as well as alarmed, Alkibiadês started up forthwith, his impatience breaking loose from the formalities of an exordium.

“Athenians, I both have better title than others to the post of commander,—for the taunts of Nikias force me to begin here,—and I count myself fully worthy of it. Those very matters with which he reproaches me are sources not merely of glory to my ancestors and myself, but of positive advantage to my country. For the Greeks, on witnessing my splendid theôry at Olympia, were induced to rate the power of Athens even above the reality, having before regarded it as broken down by the war; when I sent into the lists seven chariots, being more than any private individual had ever sent before, winning the first prize, coming[p. 153] in also second and fourth, and performing all the accessories in a manner suitable to an Olympic victory. Custom attaches honor to such exploits, but the power of the performers is at the same time brought home to the feelings of spectators. My exhibitions at Athens, too, choregic and others, are naturally viewed with jealousy by my rivals here; but in the eyes of strangers they are evidences of power. Such so-called folly is by no means useless, when a man at his own cost serves the city as well as himself. Nor is it unjust, when a man has an exalted opinion of himself, that he should not conduct himself towards others as if he were their equal; for the man in misfortune finds no one to bear a share of it. Just as, when we are in distress, we find no one to speak to us, in like manner let a man lay his account to bear the insolence of the prosperous, or else let him give equal dealing to the low, and then claim to receive it from the high. I know well that such exalted personages, and all who have in any way attained eminence, have been during their lifetime unpopular, chiefly in society with their equals, and to a certain extent with others also; while after their decease, they have left such a reputation as to make people claim kindred with them falsely, and to induce their country to boast of them, not as though they were aliens or wrongdoers, but as her own citizens and as men who did her honor. It is this glory which I desire, and in pursuit of which I incur such reproaches for my private conduct. Yet look at my public conduct, and see whether it will not bear comparison with that of any other citizen. I brought together the most powerful states in Peloponnesus without any serious cost or hazard to you, and made the Lacedæmonians peril their all at Mantineia on the fortune of one day: a peril so great, that, though victorious, they have not even yet regained their steady belief in their own strength.”

“Thus did my youth, and my so-called monstrous folly, find suitable words to address the Peloponnesian powers, and earnestness to give them confidence and obtain their coöperation. Be not now, therefore, afraid of this youth of mine: but so long an I possess it in full vigor, and so long as Nikias retains his reputation for good fortune, turn us each to account in our own way.”[225]

[p. 154]

Having thus vindicated himself personally, Alkibiadês went on to deprecate any change of the public resolution already taken. The Sicilian cities, he said, were not so formidable as was represented. Their population was numerous, indeed, but fluctuating, turbulent, often on the move, and without local attachment. No man there considered himself as a permanent resident, nor cared to defend the city in which he dwelt; nor were there arms or organization for such a purpose. The native Sikels, detesting Syracuse, would willingly lend their aid to her assailants. As to the Peloponnesians, powerful as they were, they were not more desperate enemies now than they had been in former days:[226] they might invade Attica by land whether the Athenians sailed to Sicily or not; but they could do no mischief by sea, for Athens would still have in reserve a navy sufficient to restrain them. What valid ground was there, therefore, to evade performing obligations which Athens had sworn to her Sicilian allies? To be sure, they could bring no help to Attica in return; but Athens did not want them on her own side of the water; she wanted them in Sicily, to prevent her Sicilian enemies from coming over to attack her. She had originally acquired her empire by a readiness to interfere wherever she was invited; nor would she have made any progress, if she had been backward or prudish in scrutinizing such invitations. She could not now set limits to the extent of her imperial sway; she was under a necessity not merely to retain her present subjects, but to lay snares for new subjects, on pain of falling into dependence herself if she ceased to be imperial. Let her then persist in the resolution adopted, and strike terror into the Peloponnesians by undertaking this great expedition. She would probably conquer all Sicily; at least she would humble Syracuse: in case even of failure, she could always bring back her troops, from her unquestionable superiority at sea. The stationary and inactive policy recommended by Nikias[p. 155] was not less at variance with the temper, than with the position, of Athens, and would be ruinous to her if pursued. Her military organization would decline, and her energies would be wasted in internal rub and conflict, instead of that steady activity and acquisition which had become engrafted upon her laws and habits, which could not be now renounced, even if bad in itself, without speedy destruction.[227]

Such was substantially the reply of Alkibiadês to Nikias. The debate was now completely reopened, so that several speakers addressed the assembly on both sides; more, however, decidedly in favor of the expedition than against it. The alarmed Egestæans and Leontines renewed their supplications, appealing to the plighted faith of the city: probably also those Athenians who had visited Egesta, again stood forward to protest against what they would call the ungenerous doubts and insinuations of Nikias. By all these appeals, after considerable debate, the assembly was so powerfully moved, that their determination to send the fleet became more intense than ever; and Nikias, perceiving that farther direct opposition was useless, altered his tactics. He now attempted a manœuvre, designed indirectly to disgust his countrymen with the plan, by enlarging upon its dangers and difficulties, and insisting upon a prodigious force as indispensable to surmount them. Nor was he without hopes that they might be sufficiently disheartened by such prospective hardships, to throw up the scheme altogether. At any rate, if they persisted, he himself as commander would thus be enabled to execute it with completeness and confidence.

Accepting the expedition, therefore, as the pronounced fiat of the people, he reminded them that the cities which they were about to attack, especially Syracuse and Selinus, were powerful, populous, free: well prepared in every way with hoplites, horsemen, light-armed troops, ships of war, plenty of horses to mount their cavalry, and abundant corn at home. At best, Athens could hope for no other allies in Sicily except Naxus and Katana, from their kindred with the Leontines. It was no mere fleet, therefore, which could cope with enemies like these on their own soil. The fleet indeed must be prodigiously great, for the purpose[p. 156] not merely of maritime combat, but of keeping open communication at sea, and insuring the importation of subsistence. But there must besides be a large force of hoplites, bowmen, and slingers, a large stock of provisions in transports, and, above all an abundant amount of money: for the funds promised by the Egestæans would be found mere empty delusion. The army must be not simply a match for the enemy’s regular hoplites and powerful cavalry, but also independent of foreign aid from the first day of their landing.[228] If not, in case of the least reverse, they would find everywhere nothing but active enemies, without a single friend. “I know (he concluded) that there are many dangers against which we must take precaution, and many more in which we must trust to good fortune, serious as it is for mere men to do so. But I choose to leave as little as possible in the power of fortune, and to have in hand all means of reasonable security at the time when I leave Athens. Looking merely to the interests of the commonwealth, this is the most assured course; while to us who are to form the armament, it is indispensable for preservation. If any man thinks differently, I resign to him the command.”[229]

The effect of this second speech of Nikias on the assembly, coming as it did after a long and contentious debate, was much greater than that which had been produced by his first. But it was an effect totally opposite to that which he himself had anticipated and intended. Far from being discouraged or alienated from the expedition by those impediments which he had studiously magnified, the people only attached themselves to it with yet greater obstinacy. The difficulties which stood in the way of Sicilian conquest served but to endear it to them the more, calling forth increased ardor and eagerness for personal exertion in the cause. The people not only accepted, without hesitation or deduction, the estimate which Nikias had laid before them of[p. 157] risk and cost, but warmly extolled his frankness not less than his sagacity, as the only means of making success certain. They were ready to grant without reserve everything which he asked, with an enthusiasm and unanimity such as was rarely seen to reign in an Athenian assembly. In fact, the second speech of Nikias had brought the two dissentient veins of the assembly into a confluence and harmony, all the more welcome because unexpected. While his partisans seconded it as the best way of neutralizing the popular madness, his opponents—Alkibiadês, the Egestæans, and the Leontines—caught at it with acclamation, as realizing more than they had hoped for, and more than they could ever have ventured to propose. If Alkibiadês had demanded an armament on so vast a scale, the people would have turned a deaf ear. But such was their respect for Nikias—on the united grounds of prudence, good fortune, piety, and favor with the gods—that his opposition to their favorite scheme had really made them uneasy; and when he made the same demand, they were delighted to purchase his concurrence by adopting all such conditions as he imposed.[230]

It was thus that Nikias, quite contrary to his own purpose, not only imparted to the enterprise a gigantic magnitude which its projectors had never contemplated, but threw into it the whole soul of Athens, and roused a burst of ardor beyond all former example. Every man present, old as well as young, rich and poor, of all classes and professions, was eager to put down his name for personal service. Some were tempted by the love of gain, others by the curiosity of seeing so distant a region, others again by the pride and supposed safety of enlisting in so irresistible an armament. So overpowering was the popular voice in calling for the execution of the scheme, that the small minority who retained their objections were afraid to hold up their hands, for fear of incurring the suspicion of want of patriotism. When the excitement had somewhat subsided, an orator named Demostratus, coming forward as spokesman of this sentiment, urged Nikias to declare at once, without farther evasion, what force he required from the people. Disappointed as Nikias was, yet being left without any alternative, he sadly responded to the appeal; saying, that he would take farther counsel with[p. 158] his colleagues, but that speaking on his first impression, he thought the triremes required must be not less than one hundred, nor the hoplites less than five thousand, Athenians and allies together. There must farther be a proportional equipment of other forces and accompaniments, especially Kretan bowmen and slingers. Enormous as this requisition was, the vote of the people not only sanctioned it without delay, but even went beyond it. They conferred upon the generals full power to fix both the numbers of the armament and every other matter relating to the expedition, just as they might think best for the interest of Athens.

Pursuant to this momentous resolution, the enrolment and preparation of the forces was immediately begun. Messages were sent to summon sufficient triremes from the nautical allies, as well as to invite hoplites from Argos and Mantineia, and to hire bowmen and slingers elsewhere. For three months, the generals were busily engaged in this proceeding, while the city was in a state of alertness and bustle, fatally interrupted, however, by an incident which I shall recount in the next chapter.

Considering the prodigious consequences which turned on the expedition of Athens against Sicily, it is worth while to bestow a few reflections on the preliminary proceedings of the Athenian people. Those who are accustomed to impute all the misfortunes of Athens to the hurry, passion, and ignorance of democracy, will not find the charge borne out by the facts which we have been just considering. The supplications of Egestæans and Leontines, forwarded to Athens about the spring or summer of 416 B.C., undergo careful and repeated discussion in the public assembly. They at first meet with considerable opposition, but the repeated debates gradually kindle both the sympathies and the ambition of the people. Still, however, no decisive step is taken without more ample and correct information from the spot, and special commissioners are sent to Egesta for the purpose. These men bring back a decisive report, triumphantly certifying all that the Egestæans had promised: nor can we at all wonder that the people never suspected the deep-laid fraud whereby their commissioners had been duped.

Upon the result of that mission to Egesta, the two parties for and against the projected expedition had evidently joined issue; and when the commissioners returned, bearing testimony so de[p. 159]cisive in favor of the former, the party thus strengthened thought itself warranted in calling for a decision immediately, after all the previous debates. Nevertheless, the measure still had to surmount the renewed and hearty opposition of Nikias, before it became finally ratified. It was this long and frequent debate, with opposition often repeated but always outreasoned, which working gradually deeper and deeper conviction in the minds of the people, brought them all into hearty unanimity to support it, and made them cling to it with that tenacity which the coming chapters will demonstrate. In so far as the expedition was an error, it certainly was not error arising either from hurry, or want of discussion, or want of inquiry. Never in Grecian history was any measure more carefully weighed beforehand, or more deliberately and unanimously resolved.

The position of Nikias in reference to the measure is remarkable. As a dissuasive and warning counsellor, he took a right view of it; but in that capacity he could not carry the people along with him. Yet such was their steady esteem for him personally, and their reluctance to proceed in the enterprise without him, that they eagerly embraced any conditions which he thought proper to impose. And the conditions which he named had the effect of exaggerating the enterprise into such gigantic magnitude as no one in Athens had ever contemplated; thus casting into it so prodigious a proportion of the blood of Athens, that its discomfiture would be equivalent to the ruin of the commonwealth. This was the first mischief occasioned by Nikias, when, after being forced to relinquish his direct opposition, he resorted to the indirect manœuvre of demanding more than he thought the people would be willing to grant. It will be found only the first among a sad series of other mistakes, fatal to his country as well as to himself.

Giving to Nikias, however, for the present, full credit for the wisdom of his dissuasive counsel and his skepticism about the reports from Egesta, we cannot but notice the opposite quality in Alkibiadês. His speech is not merely full of overweening insolence, as a manifestation of individual character, but of rash and ruinous instigations in regard to the foreign policy of his country. The arguments whereby he enforces the expedition against Syracuse are indeed more mischievous in their tendency than the ex[p. 160]pedition itself, for the failure of which Alkibiades is not to be held responsible. It might have succeeded in its special object, had it been properly conducted; but even if it had succeeded, the remark of Nikias is not the less just, that Athens was aiming at an unmeasured breadth of empire, which it would be altogether impossible for her to preserve. When we recollect the true political wisdom with which Periklês had advised his countrymen to maintain strenuously their existing empire, but by no means to grasp at any new acquisitions while they had powerful enemies in Peloponnesus, we shall appreciate by contrast the feverish system of never-ending aggression inculcated by Alkibiadês, and the destructive principles which he lays down, that Athens must forever be engaged in new conquests, on pain of forfeiting her existing empire and tearing herself to pieces by internal discord. Even granting the necessity for Athens to employ her military and naval force, as Nikias had truly observed, Amphipolis and the revolted subjects in Thrace were still unsubdued; and the first employment of Athenian force ought to be directed against them, instead of being wasted in distant hazards and treacherous novelties, creating for Athens a position in which she could never permanently maintain herself. The parallel which Alkibiadês draws, between the enterprising spirit whereby the Athenian empire had been first acquired, and the undefined speculations which he was himself recommending, is altogether fallacious. The Athenian empire took its rise from Athenian enterprise, working in concert with a serious alarm and necessity on the part of all the Grecian cities in or round the Ægean sea. Athens rendered an essential service by keeping off the Persians, and preserving that sea in a better condition than it had ever been in before: her empire had begun by being a voluntary confederacy, and had only passed by degrees into constraint; while the local situation of all her subjects was sufficiently near to be within the reach of her controlling navy. Her new career of aggression in Sicily, was in all these respects different. Nor is it less surprising to find Alkibiadês asserting that the multiplication of subjects in that distant island, employing a large portion of the Athenian naval force to watch them, would impart new stability to the preëxisting Athenian empire; to read the terms in which he makes light of enemies both in Peloponnesus and in[p. 161] Sicily, the Sicilian war being a new enterprise hardly less in magnitude and hazard than the Peloponnesian,[231] and to notice the credit which he claims to himself for his operations in Peloponnesus and the battle of Mantineia,[232] although it had ended in complete failure; restoring the ascendency of Sparta to the maximum at which it had stood before the events of Sphakteria! There is in fact no speech in Thucydidês so replete with rash misguiding, and fallacious counsels, as this harangue of Alkibiadês.

As a man of action, Alkibiadês was always brave, vigorous, and full of resource; as a politician and adviser, he was especially mischievous to his country, because he addressed himself exactly to their weak point, and exaggerated their sanguine and enterprising temper into a temerity which overlooked all permanent calculation. The Athenians had now contracted the belief that they, as lords of the sea, were entitled to dominion and receipt of tribute from all islands; a belief which they had not only acted upon, but openly professed, in their attack upon Mêlos during the preceding autumn. As Sicily was an island, it seemed to fall naturally under this category of subjects; nor ought we to wonder, amidst the inaccurate geographical data current in that day, that they were ignorant how much larger Sicily was[233] than the largest island in the Ægean. Yet they seem to have been aware that it was a prodigious conquest to struggle for; as we may judge from the fact, that the object was one kept back rather than openly avowed, and that they acceded to all the immense preparations demanded by Nikias.[234] Moreover, we shall see presently, that even the armament which was despatched had conceived nothing beyond vague and hesitating ideas of something great to be achieved in Sicily. But if the Athenian public[p. 162] were rash and ignorant, in contemplating the conquest of Sicily, much more extravagant were the views of Alkibiadês, who looked even beyond Sicily to the conquest of Carthage and her empire. Nor was it merely ambition which he desired to gratify; he was not less eager for the immense private gains which would be consequent upon success, in order to supply those deficiencies which his profligate expenditure had occasioned.[235]

When we recollect how loudly the charges have been preferred against Kleon, of presumption, of rash policy, and of selfish motive, in reference to Sphakteria, to the prosecution of the war generally, and to Amphipolis; and when we compare these proceedings with the conduct of Alkibiadês as here described, we shall see how much more forcibly such charges attach to the latter than the former. It will be seen before this volume is finished, that the vices of Alkibiadês, and the defects of Nikias, were the cause of far greater ruin to Athens than either Kleon or Hyperbolus, even if we regard the two latter with the eyes of their worst enemies.


[p. 163]

CHAPTER LVIII.
FROM THE RESOLUTION OF THE ATHENIANS TO ATTACK SYRACUSE, DOWN TO THE FIRST WINTER AFTER THEIR ARRIVAL IN SICILY.

For the two or three months immediately succeeding the final resolution taken by the Athenians to invade Sicily, described in the last chapter, the whole city was elate and bustling with preparation. I have already mentioned that this resolution, though long opposed by Nikias with a considerable minority, had at last been adopted—chiefly through the unforeseen working of that which he intended as a counter-manœuvre—with a degree of enthusiasm and unanimity, and upon an enlarged scale, which surpassed all the anticipations of its promoters. The prophets, circulators of oracles, and other accredited religious advisers, announced generally the favorable dispositions of the gods, and promised a triumphant result.[236] All classes in the city, rich and poor,—cultivators, traders, and seamen, old and young, all embraced the project with ardor; as requiring a great effort, yet promising unparalleled results, both of public aggrandizement and individual gain. Each man was anxious to put down his own name for personal service; so that the three generals, Nikias, Alkibiadês, and Lamachus, when they proceeded to make their selection of hoplites, instead of being forced to employ constraint and incur ill-will, as happened when an expedition was unpopular, had only to choose the fittest among a throng of eager volunteers. Every man provided himself with his best arms and with bodily accoutrements, useful as well as ostentatious, for a long voyage and for the exigencies of a varied land-and-sea-service. Among the trierarchs, or rich citizens, who undertook each in his turn the duty of commanding a ship of war, the competition was yet stronger. Each of them accounted it an honor to be named, and vied with his comrades to exhibit his ship in the most finished state of equipment. The state, indeed,[p. 164] furnished both the trireme with its essential tackle and oars, and the regular pay for the crew; but the trierarch, even in ordinary cases, usually incurred various expenses besides, to make the equipment complete and to keep the crew together. Such additional outlay, neither exacted nor defined by law, but only by custom and general opinion, was different in every individual case, according to temper and circumstances. But on the present occasion, zeal and forwardness were universal: each trierarch tried to procure for his own ship the best crew, by offers of additional reward to all, but especially to the thranitæ or rowers on the highest of the three tiers:[237] and it seems that the seamen were not appointed specially to one ship, but were at liberty to accept these offers, and to serve in any ship they preferred. Each trierarch spent more than had ever been known before in pay, outfit, provision, and even external decoration of his vessel. Besides the best crews which Athens herself could furnish, picked seamen were also required from subject-allies, and were bid for in the same way by the trierarchs.[238]

Such efforts were much facilitated by the fact, that five years had now elapsed since the Peace of Nikias, without any considerable warlike operations. While the treasury had become replenished with fresh accumulations,[239] and the triremes increased[p. 165] in number, the military population, reinforced by additional numbers of youth, had forgotten both the hardships of the war and the pressure of epidemic disease. Hence the fleet now got together, while it surpassed in number all previous armaments of Athens, except a single one in the second year of the previous war under Periklês, was incomparably superior even to that, and still more superior to all the rest, in the other ingredients of force, material as well as moral; in picked men, universal ardor, ships as well as arms in the best condition, and accessories of every kind in abundance. Such was the confidence of success, that many Athenians went prepared for trade as well as for combat; so that the private stock thus added to the public outfit, and to the sums placed in the hands of the generals, constituted an unparalleled aggregate of wealth. Much of this was visible to the eye, contributing to heighten that general excitement of Athenian imagination which pervaded the whole city while the preparations were going forward: a mingled feeling of private sympathy and patriotism,—a dash of uneasiness from reflection on the distant and unknown region wherein the fleet was to act,—yet an elate confidence in Athenian force, such as had never before been entertained.[240] We hear of Sokratês the philosopher,[p. 166] and Meton the astronomer, as forming exceptions to this universal tone of sanguine anticipation: the familiar genius which constantly waited upon the philosopher is supposed to have forewarned him of the result. Nor is it impossible that he may have been averse to the expedition, though the fact is less fully certified than we could wish. Amidst a general predominance of the various favorable religious signs and prophecies, there were also some unfavorable. Usually, on all public matters of risk or gravity, there were prophets who gave assurances in opposite ways: those which turned out right were treasured up: the rest were at once forgotten, or never long remembered.[241]

After between two and three months of active preparations, the expedition was almost ready to start, when an event happened which fatally poisoned the prevalent cheerfulness of the city. This was the mutilation of the Hermæ, one of the most extraordinary events in all Grecian history.

These Hermæ, or half-statues of the god Hermês, were blocks of marble about the height of the human figure. The upper part was cut into a head, face, neck, and bust; the lower part was left as a quadrangular pillar, broad at the base, without arms, body, or legs, but with the significant mark of the male sex in front. They were distributed in great numbers throughout Athens, and always in the most conspicuous situations; standing beside the outer doors of private houses as well as of temples, near the most frequented porticos, at the intersection of cross ways, in the public agora. They were thus present to the eye of every Athenian in all his acts of intercommunion, either for business or pleasure, with his fellow-citizens. The religious feelings of the Greeks considered the god to be planted or domiciliated where his statue stood,[242] so that the companionship,[p. 167] sympathy, and guardianship of Hermês became associated with most of the manifestations of conjunct life at Athens,—political, social, commercial, or gymnastic. Moreover, the quadrangular fashion of these statues, employed occasionally for other gods besides Hermês, was a most ancient relic handed down from the primitive rudeness of Pelasgian workmanship and was popular in Arcadia as well as peculiarly frequent in Athens.[243]

About the end of May, 415 B.C., in the course of one and the same night, all these Hermæ, one of the most peculiar marks of the city, were mutilated by unknown hands. Their characteristic features were knocked off or levelled, so that nothing was left except a mass of stone with no resemblance to humanity or deity. All were thus dealt with in the same way, save and except very few: nay, Andokidês affirms, and I incline to believe him, that there was but one which escaped unharmed.[244]

It is of course impossible for any one to sympathize fully with the feelings of a religion not his own: indeed, the sentiment with[p. 168] which, in the case of persons of different creeds, each regards the strong emotions growing out of causes peculiar to the other, is usually one of surprise that such trifles and absurdities can occasion any serious distress or excitement.[245] But if we take that reasonable pains, which is incumbent on those who study the history of Greece, to realize in our minds the religious and political associations of the Athenians,[246] noted in ancient times for their superior piety, as well as for their accuracy and magnificence about the visible monuments embodying that feeling,—we shall in part comprehend the intensity of mingled dismay, terror, and wrath, which beset the public mind on the morning after this nocturnal sacrilege, alike unforeseen and unparalleled. Amidst all the ruin and impoverishment which had been inflicted by the Persian invasion of Attica, there was nothing which was so profoundly felt or so long remembered as the deliberate burning of the statues and temples of the gods.[247] If we could imagine[p. 169] the excitement of a Spanish or Italian town, on finding that all the images of the Virgin had been defaced during the same night, we should have a parallel, though a very inadequate parallel, to what was now felt at Athens, where religious associations and persons were far more intimately allied with all civil acts and with all the proceedings of every-day life; where, too, the god and his efficiency were more forcibly localized, as well as identified with the presence and keeping of the statue. To the Athenians, when they went forth on the following morning, each man seeing the divine guardian at his doorway dishonored and defaced, and each man gradually coming to know that the devastation was general, it would seem that the town had become as it were godless; that the streets, the market-place, the porticos, were robbed of their divine protectors; and what was worse still, that these protectors, having been grossly insulted, carried away with them alienated sentiments, wrathful and vindictive instead of tutelary and sympathizing. It was on the protection of the gods, that all their political constitution as well as the blessings of civil life depended; insomuch that the curses of the gods were habitually invoked as sanction and punishment for grave offences, political as well as others:[248] an extension and generalization of the feeling still attached to the judicial oath. This was, in the minds of the people of Athens, a sincere and literal conviction, not simply a form of speech to be pronounced in prayers and public harangues, without being ever construed as a reality in calculating consequences and determining practical measures.[p. 170] Accordingly, they drew from the mutilation of the Hermæ the inference, not less natural than terrifying, that heavy public misfortune was impending over the city, and that the political constitution to which they were attached was in imminent danger of being subverted.[249]

Such was the mysterious incident which broke in upon the eager and bustling movement of Athens, a few days before the Sicilian expedition was in condition for starting. In reference to that expedition it was taken to heart as a most depressing omen.[250] It would doubtless have been so determined, had it been a mere undesigned accident happening to any venerated religious object, just as we are told that similar misgivings were occasioned by the occurrence, about this same time, of the melancholy festival of the Adonia, wherein the women loudly bewailed the untimely death of Adonis.[251] The mutilation of the Hermæ, however, was something much more ominous than the worst accident. It proclaimed itself as the deliberate act of organized conspirators, not inconsiderable in number, whose names and final purpose were[p. 171] indeed unknown, but who had begun by committing sacrilege of a character flagrant and unheard of. For intentional mutilation of a public and sacred statue, where the material afforded no temptation to plunder, is a case to which we know no parallel: much more mutilation by wholesale, spread by one band and in one night throughout an entire city. Though neither the parties concerned, nor their purposes, were ever more than partially made out, the concert and conspiracy itself is unquestionable.

It seems probable, as far as we can form an opinion, that the conspirators had two objects, perhaps some of them one and some the other: to ruin Alkibiadês, to frustrate or delay the expedition. How they pursued the former purpose, will be presently seen: towards the latter, nothing was ostensibly done, but the position of Teukrus, and other metics implicated, renders it more likely that they were influenced by sympathies with Corinth and Megara,[252] prompting them to intercept an expedition which was supposed to promise great triumphs to Athens, rather than corrupted by the violent antipathies of intestine politics. Indeed, the two objects were intimately connected with each other; for the prosecution of the enterprise, while full of prospective conquest to Athens, was yet more pregnant with future power and wealth to Alkibiadês himself. Such chances would disappear if the expedition could be prevented; nor was it at all impossible that the Athenians, under the intense impression of religious terror consequent on the mutilation of the Hermæ, might throw up the scheme altogether. Especially Nikias, exquisitely sensitive in his own[p. 172] religious conscience, and never hearty in his wish for going, a fact perfectly known to the enemy,[253] would hasten to consult his prophets, and might reasonably be expected to renew his opposition on the fresh ground offered to him, or at least to claim delay until the offended gods should have been appeased. We may judge how much such a proceeding was in the line of his character, and of the Athenian character, when we find him, two years afterwards, with the full concurrence of his soldiers, actually sacrificing the last opportunity of safe retreat for the half-ruined Athenian army in Sicily, and refusing even to allow the proposition to be debated, in consequence of an eclipse of the moon; and when we reflect that Spartans and other Greeks frequently renounced public designs if an earthquake happened before the execution.[254]

But though the chance of setting aside the expedition altogether might reasonably enter into the plans of the conspirators, as a likely consequence of the intense shock inflicted on the religious mind of Athens, and especially of Nikias, this calculation was not realized. Probably matters had already proceeded too far even for Nikias to recede. Notice had been sent round to all the allies; forces were already on their way to the rendezvous at Korkyra; the Argeian and Mantineian allies were arriving at Peiræus to embark. So much the more eagerly did the conspirators proceed in the other part of their plan, to work that exaggerated religious terror, which they had themselves artificially brought about, for the ruin of Alkibiadês.

Few men in Athens either had or deserved to have a greater number of enemies, political as well as private, than Alkibiades; many of them being among the highest citizens, whom he offended by his insolence, and whose liturgies and other customary exhibitions he outshone by his reckless expenditure. His importance had been already so much increased, and threatened to be so much more increased, by the Sicilian enterprise, that they no longer observed any measures in compassing his ruin. That which the mutilators of the Hermæ seem to have deliberately planned, his other enemies were ready to turn to profit.

[p. 173]

Amidst the mournful dismay spread by the discovery of so unparalleled a sacrilege, it appeared to the Athenian people,—as it would have appeared to the ephors at Sparta, or to the rulers in every oligarchical city of Greece,—that it was their paramount and imperative duty to detect and punish the authors. So long as these latter were walking about unknown and unpunished, the temples were defiled by their presence, and the whole city was accounted under the displeasure of the gods, who would inflict upon it heavy public misfortunes.[255] Under this displeasure every citizen felt himself comprehended, so that the sense of public security as well as of private comfort were alike unappeased, until the offenders should be discovered and atonement made by punishing or expelling them. Large rewards were accordingly proclaimed to any person who could give information, and even impunity to any accomplice whose confession might lay open the plot. Nor did the matter stop here. Once under this painful shock of religious and political terror, the Athenians became eager talkers and listeners on the subject of other recent acts of impiety. Every one was impatient to tell all that he knew, and more than he knew, about such incidents; while to exercise any strict criticism upon the truth of such reports, would argue weakness of faith and want of religious zeal, rendering the critic himself a suspected man, “metuunt dubitasse videri.” To[p. 174] rake out and rigorously visit all such offenders, and thus to display an earnest zeal for the honor of the gods, was accounted one auxiliary means of obtaining absolution from them for the recent outrage. Hence an additional public vote was passed, promising rewards and inviting information from all witnesses,—citizens, metics, or even slaves,—respecting any previous acts of impiety which might have come within their cognizance,[256] but at the same time providing that informers who gave false depositions should be punished capitally.[257]

The Senate of Five Hundred were invested with full powers of action; while Diognêtus, Peisander, Chariklês, and others, were named commissioners for receiving and prosecuting inquiries, and public assemblies were held nearly every day to receive reports.[258] The first informations received, however, did not relate to the grave and recent mutilation of the Hermæ, but to analogous incidents of older date; to certain defacements of other statues, accomplished in drunken frolic; and above all, to ludicrous ceremonies celebrated in various houses,[259] by parties of revellers[p. 175] caricaturing and divulging the Eleusinian mysteries. It was under this latter head that the first impeachment was preferred against Alkibiadês.

So fully were the preparations of the armament now complete, that the trireme of Lamachus—who was doubtless more diligent about the military details than either of his two colleagues—was already moored in the outer harbor, and the last public assembly was held for the departing officers,[260] who probably laid before their countrymen an imposing account of the force assembled, when Pythonikus rose to impeach Alkibiadês. “Athenians,” said he, “you are going to despatch this great force and incur all this hazard, at a moment when I am pre[p. 176]pared to show you that your general Alkibiadês is one of the profaners of the holy mysteries, in a private house. Pass a vote of impunity, and I will produce to you forthwith a slave of one here present, who, though himself not initiated in the mysteries, shall repeat to you what they are. Deal with me in any way you choose, if my statement prove untrue.” While Alkibiadês strenuously denied the allegation, the prytanes—senators presiding over the assembly, according to the order determined by lot for that year among the ten tribes—at once made proclamation for all uninitiated citizens to depart from the assembly, and went to fetch the slave—Andromachus by name—whom Pythonikus had indicated. On being introduced, Andromachus deposed before the assembly that he had been with his master in the house of Polytion, when Alkibiadês, Nikiadês, and Melêtus, went through the sham celebration of the mysteries; many other persons being present, and especially three other slaves besides himself. We must presume that he verified this affirmation by describing what the mysteries were which he had seen, the test which Pythonikus had offered.[261]

Such was the first direct attack made upon Alkibiadês by his enemies. Pythonikus, the demagogue Androklês, and other speakers, having put in evidence this irreverent proceeding,—probably in substance true,—enlarged upon it with the strongest invective, imputed to him many other acts of the like character, and even denounced him as cognizant of the recent mutilation of the Hermæ. All had been done, they said, with a view to accomplish his purpose of subverting the democracy, when bereft of its divine protectors; a purpose manifested by the constant tenor of his lawless, overbearing, antipopular demeanor. Infamous as this calumny was, so far as regarded the mutilation of the Hermæ,—for whatever else Alkibiadês may have done, of that act he was unquestionably innocent, being the very person who had most to lose by it, and whom it ultimately ruined,—they calculated upon the reigning excitement to get it accredited, and probably to procure his deposition from the command, preparatory to public trial. But in spite of all the disquietude arising from the recent sacrilege, their expectations were de[p. 177]feated. The strenuous denial of Alkibiadês, aided by his very peculiar position as commander of the armament, as well as by the reflection that the recent outrage tended rather to spoil his favorite projects in Sicily, found general credence. The citizens enrolled to serve, manifested strong disposition to stand by him; the allies from Argos and Mantineia were known to have embraced the service chiefly at his instigation; the people generally had become familiar with him as the intended conqueror in Sicily, and were loth to be balked of this project. From all these circumstances, his enemies, finding little disposition to welcome the accusations which they preferred, were compelled to postpone them until a more suitable time.[262]

But Alkibiadês saw full well the danger of having such charges hanging over his head, and the peculiar advantage which he derived from his accidental position at the moment. He implored the people to investigate the charges at once; proclaiming his anxiety to stand trial and even to suffer death, if found guilty,—accepting the command only in case he should be acquitted,—and insisting above all things on the mischief to the city, of sending him on such an expedition with the charge undecided, as well as on the hardship to himself, of being aspersed by calumny during his absence, without power of defence. Such appeals, just and reasonable in themselves, and urged with all the vehemence of a man who felt that the question was one of life or death to his future prospects, were very near prevailing. His enemies could only defeat them by the trick of putting up fresh speakers, less notorious for hostility to Alkibiadês. These men affected a tone of candor, deprecated the delay which would be occasioned in the departure of the expedition, if he were put upon his trial forthwith, and proposed deferring the trial until a certain number of days after his return.[263] Such was the determi[p. 178]nation ultimately adopted; the supporters of Alkibiadês probably not fully appreciating its consequences, and conceiving that the speedy departure of the expedition was advisable even for his interest, as well as agreeable to their own feelings. And thus his enemies, though baffled in their first attempt to bring on his immediate ruin, carried a postponement which insured to them leisure for thoroughly poisoning the public mind against him, and choosing their own time for his trial. They took care to keep back all farther accusation until he and the armament had departed.[264]

[p. 179]

The spectacle of its departure was indeed so imposing, and the moment so full of anxious interest, that it banished even the recollection of the recent sacrilege. The entire armament was not mustered at Athens; for it had been judged expedient to order most of the allied contingents to rendezvous at once at Korkyra. But the Athenian force alone was astounding to behold. There were one hundred triremes, sixty of which were in full trim for rapid nautical movement, while the remaining forty were employed as transports for the soldiers. There were fifteen hundred select citizen hoplites, chosen from the general muster-roll, and seven hundred Thêtes, or citizens too poor to be included in the muster-roll, who served as hoplites on shipboard,—epibatæ, or marines,—each with a panoply furnished by the state. To these must be added, five hundred Argeian and two hundred and fifty Mantineian hoplites, paid by Athens and transported on board Athenian ships.[265] The number of horsemen was so small, that all were conveyed in a single horse transport. But the condition, the equipment, the pomp both of wealth and force, visible in the armament, was still more impressive than the number. At daybreak on the day appointed, when all the ships were ready in Peiræus, for departure, the military force was marched down in a body from the city and embarked. They were accompanied by nearly the whole population, metics and foreigners as well as citizens, so that the appearance was that of a collective emigration, like the flight to Salamis sixty-five years before. While the crowd of foreigners, brought thither by curiosity, were amazed by the grandeur of the spectacle, the citizens accompanying were moved by deeper and more stirring anxieties. Their sons, brothers, relatives, and friends, were just starting on the longest and largest enterprise which Athens had ever undertaken; against an island extensive as well as powerful, known to none of them accurately, and into a sea of undefined possibilities; glory and profit on the one side, but hazards of unassignable magnitude on the other. At this final parting, ideas of doubt and danger became far more painfully present than they had been in any of the preliminary[p. 180] discussions; and in spite of all the reassuring effect of the unrivalled armament before them, the relatives now separating at the water’s edge could not banish the dark presentiment that they were bidding each other farewell for the last time.

The moment immediately succeeding this farewell—when all the soldiers were already on board, and the keleustês was on the point of beginning his chant to put the rowers in motion—was peculiarly solemn and touching. Silence having been enjoined and obtained by sound of trumpet, both the crews in every ship and the spectators on shore followed the voice of the herald in praying to the gods for success, and in singing the pæan. On every deck were seen bowls of wine prepared, out of which the officers and the epibatæ made libations, with goblets of silver and gold. At length the final signal was given, and the whole fleet quitted Peiræus in single file, displaying the exuberance of their yet untried force by a race of speed as far as Ægina.[266] Never in Grecian history was an invocation more unanimous, emphatic, and imposing, addressed to the gods; never was the refusing nod of Zeus more stern or peremptory. All these details, given by Thucydidês, of the triumphant promise which now issued from Peiræus, derive a painful interest from their contrast with the sad issue which will hereafter be unfolded.

The fleet made straight for Korkyra, where the contingents of the maritime allies, with the ships for burden and provisions, were found assembled. The armament thus complete was passed in review, and found to comprise one hundred and thirty-four triremes with two Rhodian pentekonters; five thousand one hundred hoplites; four hundred and eighty bowmen, eighty of them Kretan; seven hundred Rhodian slingers; and one hundred and twenty Megarian exiles serving as light troops. Of vessels of burden, in attendance with provisions, muniments of war, bakers, masons, and carpenters, etc., the number was not less than five hundred; besides which, there was a considerable number of private trading-ships, following it voluntarily for purposes of profit.[267] Three fast-sailing triremes were despatched in advance to ascertain which of the cities in Italy and Sicily would welcome the arrival of the armament; and especially to give notice at Egesta,[p. 181] that the succor solicited was now on its way, requiring at the same time that the money promised by the Egestæans should be produced. Having then distributed by lot the armament into three divisions, one under each of the generals, Nikias, Alkibiadês, and Lamachus, they crossed the Ionic gulf from Korkyra to the Iapygian promontory.

In their progress southward along the coast of Italy to Rhegium, they met with a very cold reception from the various Grecian cities. None would receive them within their walls or even sell them provisions without. The utmost which they would grant was, the liberty of taking moorings and of watering; and even thus much was denied to them both at Tarentum and at the Epizephyrian Lokri. At Rhegium, immediately on the Sicilian strait, though the town-gate was still kept shut, they were so far more hospitably treated, that a market of provisions was furnished to them, and they were allowed to encamp in the sacred precinct of Artemis, not far from the walls. They here hauled their ships ashore and took repose until the return of the three scout-ships from Egesta; while the generals entered into negotiation with the magistrates and people of Rhegium, endeavoring to induce them to aid the armament in reëstablishing the dispossessed Leontines, who were of common Chalkidian origin with themselves. But the answer returned was discouraging. The Rhegines would promise nothing more than neutrality, and coöperation in any course of policy which it might suit the other Italian Greeks to adopt. Probably they, as well as the other Italian Greeks, were astonished and intimidated by the magnitude of the newly-arrived force, and desired to leave themselves open latitude of conduct for the future, not without mistrust of Athens and her affected forwardness for the restoration of the Leontines. To the Athenian generals, however, such a negative from Rhegium was an unwelcome disappointment; for that city had been the ally of Athens in the last war, and they had calculated on the operation of Chalkidic sympathies.[268]

It was not until after the muster of the Athenians at Korkyra, about July 415 B.C., that the Syracusans became thoroughly convinced both of their approach, and of the extent of their designs[p. 182] against Sicily. Intimation had indeed reached Syracuse, from several quarters, of the resolution taken by the Athenians in the preceding March to assist Egesta and Leontini, and of the preparations going on in consequence. There was, however, a prevailing indisposition to credit such tidings. Nothing in the state of Sicily held out any encouragement to Athenian ambition: the Leontines could give no aid, the Egestæans very little, and that little at the opposite corner of the island; while the Syracusans considered themselves fully able to cope with any force which Athens was likely to send. Some derided the intelligence as mere idle rumor; others anticipated, at most, nothing more serious than the expedition sent from Athens ten years before.[269] No one could imagine the new eagerness and obstinacy with which she had just thrown herself into the scheme of Sicilian conquest, nor the formidable armament presently about to start. Nevertheless, the Syracusan generals thought it their duty to make preparations, and strengthen the military condition of the state.[270]

Hermokratês, however, whose information was more complete, judged these preparations insufficient, and took advantage of a public assembly—held seemingly about the time that the Athenians were starting from Peiræus—to impress such conviction on his countrymen, as well as to correct their incredulity. He pledged his own credit that the reports which had been circulated were not merely true, but even less than the full truth; that the Athenians were actually on their way, with an armament on the largest scale, and vast designs of conquering all Sicily. While he strenuously urged that the city should be put in immediate[p. 183] condition for repelling a most formidable invasion, he deprecated all alarm as to the result, and held out the firmest assurances of ultimate triumph. The very magnitude of the approaching force would intimidate the Sicilian cities and drive them into hearty defensive coöperation with Syracuse. Rarely indeed did any large or distant expedition ever succeed in its object, as might be seen from the failure of the Persians against Greece, by which failure Athens herself had so largely profited. Preparations, however, both effective and immediate, were indispensable; not merely at home, but by means of foreign missions, to the Sicilian and Italian Greeks, to the Sikels, and to the Carthaginians, who had for some time been suspicious of the unmeasured aggressive designs of Athens, and whose immense wealth would now be especially serviceable, and to Lacedæmon and Corinth, for the purpose of soliciting aid in Sicily, as well as renewed invasion of Attica. So confident did he (Hermokratês) feel of their powers of defence, if properly organized, that he would even advise the Syracusans with their Sicilian[271] allies to put to sea at once, with all their naval force and two months’ provisions, and to sail forthwith to the friendly harbor of Tarentum, from whence they would be able to meet the Athenian fleet and prevent it even from crossing the Ionic gulf from Korkyra. They would thus show that they were not only determined on defence, but even forward in coming to blows: the only way of taking down the presumption of the Athenians, who now speculated upon Syracusan lukewarmness, because they had rendered no aid to Sparta when she solicited it at the beginning of the war. The Syracusans would probably be able to[p. 184] deter or obstruct the advance of the expedition until winter approached: in which case Nikias, the ablest of the three generals, who was understood to have undertaken the scheme against his own consent, would probably avail himself of the pretext to return.[272]

Though these opinions of Hermokratês were espoused farther by various other citizens in the assembly, the greater number of speakers held an opposite language, and placed little faith in his warnings. We have already noticed Hermokratês nine years before as envoy of Syracuse and chief adviser at the congress of Gela,—then, as now, watchful to bar the door against Athenian interference in Sicily,—then, as now, belonging to the oligarchical party, and of sentiments hostile to the existing democratical constitution; but brave as well as intelligent in foreign affairs. A warm and even angry debate arose upon his present speech.[273] Though there was nothing, in the words of Hermokratês himself, disparaging either to the democracy or to the existing magistrates, yet it would seem that his partisans who spoke after him must have taken up a more criminative tone, and must have exaggerated that which he characterized as the “habitual quiescence” of the Syracusans, into contemptible remissness and disorganization under those administrators and generals, characterized as worthless, whom the democracy preferred. Amidst the speakers, who, in replying to Hermokratês and the others, indignantly repelled such insinuations and retorted upon their authors, a citizen named Athenagoras was the most distinguished. He was at this time the leading democratical politician, and the most popular orator, in Syracuse.[274]

[p. 185]

“Every one[275] (said he), except only cowards and bad citizens, must wish that the Athenians would be fools enough to come here and put themselves into our power. The tales which you have just heard are nothing better than fabrications, got up to alarm you; and I wonder at the folly of these alarmists in fancying that their machinations are not seen through.[276] You will be too wise to take measure of the future from their reports: you will rather judge from what able men, such as the Athenians, are likely to do. Be assured that they will never leave behind them the Peloponnesians in menacing attitude, to come hither and court a fresh war not less formidable: indeed, I think they account themselves lucky that we, with our powerful cities, have never come across to attack them. And if they should come, as it is pretended, they will find Sicily a more formidable foe than Peloponnesus: nay, our own city alone will be a match for twice the force which they can bring across. The Athenians, knowing all this well enough, will mind their own business, in spite of all the fictions which men on this side of the water conjure up, and which they have already tried often before, sometimes even worse than on the present occasion, in order to terrify you, and get themselves nominated to the chief posts.[277] One of these days, I fear they may even succeed, from our want of precautions before[p. 186]hand. Such intrigues leave but short moments of tranquillity to our city; they condemn it to an intestine discord worse than foreign war, and have sometimes betrayed it even to despots and usurpers. However, if you will listen to me, I will try and prevent anything of this sort at present; by simple persuasion to you, by chastisement to these conspirators, and by watchful denunciation of the oligarchical party generally. Let me ask, indeed, what is it that you younger nobles covet? To get into command at your early age? The law forbids you, because you are yet incompetent. Or, do you wish not to be under equal laws with the many? But how can you pretend that citizens of the same city should not have the same rights? Some one will tell me[278] that democracy is neither intelligent nor just, and that the[p. 187] rich are the persons best fitted to command. But I affirm, first, that the people are the sum total, and the oligarchy merely a fraction; next, that rich men are the best trustees of the aggregate wealth existing in the community,—intelligent men, the best counsellors,—and the multitude, the best qualified for hearing and deciding after such advice. In a democracy, these functions, one and all, find their proper place. But oligarchy, though imposing on the multitude a full participation in all hazards, is not content even with an exorbitant share in the public advantages, but grasps and monopolizes the whole for itself.[279] This is just what you young and powerful men are aiming at, though you will never be able to keep it permanently in a city such as Syracuse. Be taught by me, or at least alter your views, and devote yourselves to the public advantage of our common city. Desist from practising, by reports such as these, upon the belief of men who know you too well to be duped. If even there be any truth in what you say, and if the Athenians do come, our city will repel them in a manner worthy of her reputation. She will not take you at your word, and choose you commanders, in order to put the yoke upon her own neck. She will look for herself, construe your communications for what they really mean, and, instead of suffering you to talk her out of her free government, will take effective precautions for maintaining it against you.”

Immediately after this vehement speech from Athenagoras, one of the stratêgi who presided in the assembly interposed; permitting no one else to speak, and abruptly closing the assembly, with these few words: “We generals deprecate this interchange of personal vituperation, and trust that the hearers present will not suffer themselves to be biased by it. Let us rather take care, in reference to the reports just communicated,[p. 188] that we be one and all in a condition to repel the invader. And even should the necessity not arise, there is no harm in strengthening our public force with horses, arms, and the other muniments of war. We generals shall take upon ourselves the care and supervision of these matters, as well as of the missions to neighboring cities, for procuring information and for other objects. We have, indeed, already busied ourselves for the purpose, and we shall keep you informed of what we learn.”

The language of Athenagoras, indicating much virulence of party feeling, lets us somewhat into the real working of politics among the Syracusan democracy. Athenagoras at Syracuse was like Kleon at Athens, the popular orator of the city. But he was by no means the most influential person, nor had he the principal direction of public affairs. Executive and magisterial functions belonged chiefly to Hermokratês and his partisans, the opponents of Athenagoras. Hermokratês has already appeared as taking the lead at the congress of Gela nine years before, and will be seen throughout the coming period almost constantly in the same position; while the political rank of Athenagoras is more analogous to that which we should call a leader of opposition, a function of course suspended under pressing danger, so that we hear of him no more. At Athens as at Syracuse, the men who got to real power and handled the force and treasures of the state, were chiefly of the rich families, often of oligarchical sentiments, acquiescing in the democracy as an uncomfortable necessity, and continually open to be solicited by friends or kinsmen to conspire against it. Their proceedings were doubtless always liable to the scrutiny, and their persons to the animadversion, of the public assembly: hence arose the influence of the demagogue, such as Athenagoras and Kleon, the bad side of whose character is so constantly kept before the readers of Grecian history. By whatever disparaging epithets such character may be surrounded, it is in reality the distinguishing feature of a free government under all its forms, whether constitutional monarchy or democracy. By the side of the real political actors, who hold principal office and wield personal powers, there are always abundant censors and critics,—some better, others worse, in respect of honesty, candor, wisdom, or rhetoric,—the most distinguished of whom acquires considerable importance, though[p. 189] holding a function essentially inferior to that of the authorized magistrate or general.

We observe here, that Athenagoras, far from being inclined to push the city into war, is averse to it, even beyond reasonable limit; and denounces it as the interested policy of the oligarchical party. This may show how little it was any constant interest or policy on the part of the persons called demagogues, to involve their city in unnecessary wars: a charge which has been frequently advanced against them, because it so happens that Kleon, in the first half of the Peloponnesian war, discountenanced the propositions of peace between Athens and Sparta. We see by the harangue of Athenagoras that the oligarchical party were the usual promoters of war: a fact which we should naturally expect, seeing that the rich and great, in most communities, have accounted the pursuit of military glory more conformable to their dignity than any other career. At Syracuse, the ascendency of Hermokratês was much increased by the invasion of the Athenians, while Athenagoras does not again appear. The latter was egregiously mistaken in his anticipations respecting the conduct of Athens, though right in his judgment respecting her true political interest. But it is very unsafe to assume that nations will always pursue their true political interest, where present temptations of ambition or vanity intervene. Positive information was in this instance a surer guide than speculations à priori founded upon the probable policy of Athens. But that the imputations advanced by Athenagoras against the oligarchical youth, of promoting military organization with a view to their own separate interest, were not visionary, may be seen by the analogous case of Argos, two or three years before. The democracy of Argos, contemplating a more warlike and aggressive policy, had been persuaded to organize and train the select regiment of one thousand hoplites, chosen from the oligarchical youth: within three years, this regiment subverted the democratical constitution.[280] Now the persons, respecting whose designs Athenagoras expresses so much apprehension, were exactly the class at Syracuse corresponding to the select thousand at Argos.

[p. 190]

The political views, proclaimed in this remarkable speech, are deserving of attention, though we cannot fully understand it without having before us those speeches to which it replies. Not only is democratical constitution forcibly contrasted with oligarchy, but the separate places which it assigns to wealth, intelligence, and multitude, are laid down with a distinctness not unworthy of Aristotle.

Even before the debate here adverted to, the Syracusan generals had evidently acted upon views more nearly approaching to those of Hermokratês than to those of Athenagoras. Already alive to the danger, they were apprized by their scouts when the Athenian armament was passing from Korkyra to Rhegium, and pushed their preparations with the utmost activity, distributing garrisons and sending envoys among their Sikel dependencies, while the force within the city was mustered and placed under all the conditions of war.[281] The halt of the Athenians at Rhegium afforded increased leisure for such equipment. That halt was prolonged for more than one reason. In the first place, Nikias and his colleagues wished to negotiate with the Rhegines, as well as to haul ashore and clean their ships: next, they awaited the return of the three scout-ships from Egesta: lastly, they had as yet formed no plan of action in Sicily.

The ships from Egesta returned with disheartening news. Instead of the abundant wealth which had been held forth as existing in that town, and upon which the resolutions of the Athenians as to Sicilian operations had been mainly grounded, it turned out that no more than thirty talents in all could be produced. What was yet worse, the elaborate fraud, whereby the Egestæans had duped the commissioners on their first visit, was now exposed; and these commissioners, on returning to Rhegium from their second visit, were condemned to the mortification of proclaiming their own credulity, visited by severe taunts and reproaches from the army. Disappointed in the source from whence they had calculated on obtaining money,—for it appears that both Alkibiadês and Lamachus had sincerely relied on the pecuniary resources of Egesta, though Nikias was always mistrustful,—the generals now discussed their plan of action.

[p. 191]

Nikias—availing himself of the fraudulent conduct on the part of the Egestæan allies, now become palpable—wished to circumscribe his range of operations within the rigorous letter of the vote which the Athenian assembly had passed. He proposed to sail at once against Selinus; then, formally to require the Egestæans to provide the means of maintaining the armament, or, at least, of maintaining those sixty triremes which they themselves had solicited. Since this requisition would not be realized, he would only tarry long enough to obtain from the Selinuntines some tolerable terms of accommodation with Egesta, and then return home; exhibiting, as they sailed along, to all the maritime cities, this great display of Athenian naval force. And while he would be ready to profit by any opportunity which accident might present for serving the Leontines or establishing new alliances, he strongly deprecated any prolonged stay in the island for speculative enterprises, all at the cost of Athens.[282]

Against this scheme Alkibiadês protested, as narrow, timid, and disgraceful to the prodigious force with which they had been intrusted. He proposed to begin by opening negotiations with all the other Sicilian Greeks,—especially Messênê, convenient both as harbor for their fleet and as base of their military operations,—to prevail upon them to coöperate against Syracuse and Selinus. With the same view, he recommended establishing relations with the Sikels of the interior, in order to detach such of them as were subjects of Syracuse, as well as to insure supplies of provisions. As soon as it had been thus ascertained what extent of foreign aid might be looked for, he would open direct attack forthwith against Syracuse and Selinus; unless, indeed, the former should consent to reëstablish Leontini, and the latter to come to terms with Egesta.[283]

Lamachus, delivering his opinion last, dissented from both his colleagues. He advised, that they should proceed at once, without any delay, to attack Syracuse, and fight their battle under its walls. The Syracusans, he urged, were now in terror and only half-prepared for defence. Many of their citizens, and much[p. 192] property, would be found still lingering throughout the neighboring lands, not yet removed within the walls, and might thus be seized for the subsistence of their army;[284] while the deserted town and harbor of Megara, very near to Syracuse both by land and by sea, might be occupied by the fleet as a naval station. The imposing and intimidating effect of the armament, not less than its real efficiency, was now at the maximum, immediately after its arrival. If advantage were taken of this first impression to strike an instant blow at their principal enemy, the Syracusans would be found destitute of the courage, not less than of the means, to resist: but the longer such attack was delayed, the more this first impression of dismay would be effaced, giving place to a reactionary sentiment of indifference and even contempt, when the much-dreaded armament was seen to accomplish little or nothing. As for the other Sicilian cities, nothing would contribute so much to determine their immediate adhesion, as successful operations against Syracuse.[285]

But Lamachus found no favor with either of the other two, and being thus compelled to choose between the plans of Alkibiadês and Nikias, gave his support to that of the former, which was the mean term of the three. There can be no doubt—as far as it is becoming to pronounce respecting that which never reached execution—that the plan of Lamachus was far the best and most judicious; at first sight, indeed, the most daring, but intrinsically the safest, easiest, and speediest, that could be suggested. For undoubtedly the siege and capture of Syracuse, was the one enterprise indispensable towards the promotion of Athenian views in Sicily. The sooner that was commenced, the more easily it would be accomplished: and its difficulties were in many ways aggravated, in no way abated, by those preliminary precautions upon which Alkibiadês insisted. Anything like delay tended fearfully to impair the efficiency, real as well as reputed, of an ancient aggressive armament, and to animate as well as to strengthen those who stood on the defensive, a point on which we shall find painful evidence presently. The advice of Lamachus, alike soldier-like and far-sighted, would probably[p. 193] have been approved and executed either by Brasidas or by Demosthenês; while the dilatory policy still advocated by Alkibiadês, even after the suggestion of Lamachus had been started, tends to show that if he was superior in military energy to one of his colleagues, he was not less inferior to the other. Indeed, when we find him talking of besieging Syracuse, unless the Syracusans would consent to the reëstablishment of Leontini, it seems probable that he had not yet made up his mind peremptorily to besiege the city at all; a fact completely at variance with those unbounded hopes of conquest which he is reported as having conceived even at Athens. It is possible that he may have thought it impolitic to contradict too abruptly the tendencies of Nikias, who, anxious as he was chiefly to find some pretext for carrying back his troops unharmed, might account the proposition of Lamachus too desperate even to be discussed. Unfortunately, the latter, though the ablest soldier of the three, was a poor man, of no political position, and little influence among the hoplites. Had he possessed, along with his own straightforward military energy, the wealth and family ascendency of either of his colleagues, the achievements as well as the fate of this splendid armament would have been entirely altered, and the Athenians would have entered Syracuse not as prisoners but as conquerors.

Alkibiadês, as soon as his plan had become adopted by means of the approval of Lamachus, sailed across the strait in his own trireme from Rhegium to Messênê. Though admitted personally into the city, and allowed to address the public assembly, he could not induce them to conclude any alliance, or to admit the armament to anything beyond a market of provisions without the walls. He accordingly returned back to Rhegium, from whence he and one of his colleagues immediately departed with sixty triremes for Naxos. The Naxians cordially received the armament, which then steered southward along the coast of Sicily to Katana. In the latter place the leading men and the general sentiment were at this time favorable to Syracuse, so that the Athenians, finding admittance refused, were compelled to sail farther southward and take their night-station at the mouth of the river Terias. On the ensuing day they made sail with their ships in single column immediately in front of Syracuse itself,[p. 194] while an advanced squadron of ten triremes were even despatched into the Great Harbor, south of the town, for the purpose of surveying on this side the city with its docks and fortifications, and for the farther purpose of proclaiming from shipboard by the voice of the herald: “The Leontines now in Syracuse are hereby invited to come forth without apprehension and join their friends and benefactors, the Athenians.” After this empty display, they returned back to Katana.[286]

We may remark that this proceeding was completely at variance with the judicious recommendation of Lamachus. It tended to familiarize the Syracusans with the sight of the armament piece-meal, without any instant action, and thus to abate in their minds the terror-striking impression of its first arrival.

At Katana, Alkibiadês personally was admitted into the town, and allowed to open his case before the public assembly, as he had been at Messênê. Accident alone enabled him to carry his point, for the general opinion was averse to his propositions. While most of the citizens were in the assembly listening to his discourse, some Athenian soldiers without, observing a postern-gate carelessly guarded, broke it open and showed themselves in the market-place. The town was thus in the power of the Athenians, so that the leading men who were friends of Syracuse thought themselves lucky to escape in safety, while the general assembly came to a resolution accepting the alliance proposed by Alkibiadês.[287] The whole Athenian armament was now conducted from Rhegium to Katana, which was established as head-quarters. Intimation was farther received from a party at Kamarina, that the city might be induced to join them, if the armament showed itself: accordingly, the whole armament proceeded thither, and took moorings off the shore, while a herald was sent up to the city. But the Kamarinæans declined to admit the army, and declared that they would abide by the existing treaty; which bound them to receive at any time one single ship, but no more, unless they themselves should ask for it. The Athenians were[p. 195] therefore obliged to return to Katana. Passing by Syracuse both going and returning, they ascertained the falsehood of a report that the Syracusans were putting a naval force afloat; moreover, they landed near the city and ravaged some of the neighboring lands. The Syracusan cavalry and light troops soon appeared, and a skirmish with trifling loss ensued, before the invaders retired to their ships,[288] the first blood shed in this important struggle, and again at variance with the advice of Lamachus.

Serious news awaited them on their return to Katana. They found the public ceremonial trireme, called the Salaminian, just arrived from Athens, the bearer of a formal resolution of the assembly, requiring Alkibiadês to come home and stand his trial for various alleged matters of irreligion combined with treasonable purposes. A few other citizens specified by name were commanded to come along with him under the same charge; but the trierarch of the Salaminian was especially directed to serve him only with the summons, without any guard or coercion, so that he might return home in his own trireme.[289]

This summons, pregnant with momentous results both to Athens and to her enemies, arose out of the mutilation of the Hermæ, described a few pages back, and the inquiries instituted into the authorship of that deed, since the departure of the armament. The extensive and anxious sympathies connected with so large a body of departing citizens, combined with the solemnity of the scene itself, had for the moment suspended the alarm caused by that sacrilege; but it speedily revived, and the people could not rest without finding out by whom the deed had been done. Considerable rewards, one thousand and even ten thousand drachms, were proclaimed to informers; of whom others soon appeared, in addition to the slave Andromachus, before mentioned. A metic named Teukrus had fled from Athens, immediately after the event, to Megara, from whence he sent intimation to the senate at Athens that he had himself been a party concerned in the recent sacrilege concerning the mysteries, as well as cognizant of the mutilation of the Hermæ, and that, if impunity were guaranteed to him, he would come back and give full[p. 196] information. A vote of the senate was immediately passed to invite him. He denounced by name eleven persons as having been concerned, jointly with himself, in the mock-celebration of the Eleusinian mysteries, and eighteen different persons, himself not being one, as the violators of the Hermæ. A woman named Agaristê, daughter of Alkmæonidês,—these names bespeak her great rank and family in the city,—deposed farther that Alkibiadês, Axiochus, and Adeimantus, had gone through a parody of the mysteries in a similar manner, in the house of Charmidês. And lastly Lydus, slave of a citizen named Phereklês, stated that the like scene had been enacted in the house of his master in the deme Thêmakus, giving the names of the parties present, one of whom—though asleep, and unconscious of what was passing—he stated to be Leogoras, the father of Andokidês.[290] Of the parties named in these different depositions, the greater number seem to have fled from the city at once; but all who remained were put into prison to stand future trial.[291] Those inform[p. 197]ers received the promised rewards, after some debate as to the parties entitled to receive the reward; for Pythonikus, the citizen who had produced the slave Andromachus, pretended to the first claim, while Androkles, one of the senators, contended that the senate collectively ought to receive[292] the money; a strange pretension, which we do not know how he justified. At last, however, at the time of the Panathenaic festival, Andromachus the slave received the first reward of ten thousand drachms; Teukrus the metic, the second reward of one thousand drachms.

A large number of citizens, many of them of the first consideration in the city, were thus either lying in prison or had fled into exile. But the alarm, the agony, and the suspicion, in the public mind, went on increasing rather than diminishing. The information hitherto received had been all partial, and, with the exception of Agaristê, all the informants had been either slaves or metics, not citizens; while Teukrus, the only one among them who had stated anything respecting the mutilation of the Hermæ, did not profess to be a party concerned, or to know all those who were.[293] The people had heard only a succession of disclosures, all attesting a frequency of irreligious acts, calculated to insult and banish the local gods who protected their country and constitution; all indicating that there were many powerful citizens bent on prosecuting such designs, interpreted as treasonable, yet none communicating any full or satisfactory idea of the Hermo[p. 198]kopid plot, of the real conspirators, or of their farther purposes. The enemy was among themselves, yet they knew not where to lay hands upon him. Amidst the gloomy terrors, political blended with religious, which distracted their minds, all the ancient stories of the last and worst oppressions of the Peisistratid despots, ninety-five years before, became again revived, and some new despots, they knew not who, seemed on the point of occupying the acropolis. To detect the real conspirators, was the only way of procuring respite from this melancholy paroxysm, for which purpose the people were willing to welcome questionable witnesses, and to imprison on suspicion citizens of the best character, until the truth could be ascertained.[294]

The public distraction was aggravated by Peisander and Chariklês, who acted as commissioners of investigation, furious and unprincipled politicians,[295] at that time professing exaggerated attachment to the democratical constitution, though we shall find both of them hereafter among the most unscrupulous agents in its subversion. These men loudly proclaimed that the facts disclosed indicated the band of Hermokopid conspirators to be numerous, with an ulterior design of speedily putting down the democracy; and they insisted on pressing their investigations until full discovery should be attained. And the sentiment of the people, collectively taken, responded to this stimulus; though individually, every man was so afraid of becoming himself the next victim arrested, that when the herald convoked the senate for the purpose of receiving informations, the crowd in the market-place straightway dispersed.

It was amidst such eager thirst for discovery, that a new informer appeared, Diokleidês, who professed to communicate some material facts connected with the mutilation of the Hermæ, affirming that the authors of it were three hundred in number. He recounted that, on the night on which that incident occurred, he[p. 199] started from Athens to go to the mines of Laureion; wherein he had a slave working on hire, on whose account he was to receive pay. It was full moon, and the night was so bright that he began his journey mistaking it for daybreak.[296] On reaching the propylæum of the temple of Dionysus, he saw a body of men about three hundred in number descending from the Odeon towards the public theatre. Being alarmed at this unexpected sight, he concealed himself behind a pillar, from whence he had leisure to contemplate this body of men, who stood for some time conversing together, in groups of fifteen or twenty each, and then dispersed: the moon was so bright that he could discern the faces of most of them. As soon as they had dispersed, he pursued his walk to Laureion, from whence he returned next day, and learned to his surprise that during the night the Hermæ had been mutilated; also, that commissioners of inquiry had been named, and the reward of ten thousand drachms proclaimed for information. Impressed at once with the belief that the nocturnal crowd whom he had seen were authors of the deed, he happened soon after[p. 200]wards to see one of them, Euphêmus, sitting in the workshop of a brazier, and took him aside to the neighboring temple of Hephæstus, where he mentioned in confidence that he had seen the party at work and could denounce them, but that he preferred being paid for silence, instead of giving information and incurring private enmities. Euphêmus thanked him for the warning, desiring him to come next day to the house of Leogoras and his son Andokidês, where he would see them as well as the other parties concerned. Andokidês and the rest offered to him, under solemn covenant, the sum of two talents, or twelve thousand drachms, thus overbidding the reward of ten thousand drachms proclaimed by the senate to any truth-telling informer, with admission to a partnership in the benefits of their conspiracy, supposing that it should succeed. Upon his reply that he would consider the proposition, they desired him to meet them at the house of Kallias son of Têleklês, brother-in-law of Andokidês: which meeting accordingly took place, and a solemn bargain was concluded in the acropolis. Andokidês and his friends engaged to pay the two talents to Diokleidês at the beginning of the ensuing month, as the price of his silence. But since this engagement was never performed, Diokleidês came with his information to the senate.[297]

Such—according to the report of Andokidês—was the story of this informer, which he concluded by designating forty-two individuals, out of the three hundred whom he had seen. The first names whom he specified were those of Mantitheus and Aphepsion, two senators actually sitting among his audience. Next came the remaining forty, among whom were Andokidês and many of his nearest relatives, his father Leogoras, his first or second cousins and brother-in-law, Charmidês, Taureas, Nisæus, Kalias son of Alkmæon, Phrynichus, Eukratês (brother of Nikias the commander in Sicily), and Kritias. But as there were a still greater number of names—assuming the total of three hundred to be correct—which Diokleidês was unable to specify, the commissioner Peisander proposed that Mantitheus and Aphepsion should be at once seized and tortured, in order to force them to disclose their accomplices; the psephism passed in the archonship of Skamandrius, whereby it was unlawful to apply[p. 201] the torture to any free Athenian, being first abrogated. Illegal, not less than cruel, as this proposition was, the senate at first received it with favor. But Mantitheus and Aphepsion, casting themselves as suppliants upon the altar in the senate-house, pleaded so strenuously for their rights as citizens, to be allowed to put in bail and stand trial before the dikastery, that this was at last granted.[298] No sooner had they provided their sureties, than[p. 202] they broke their covenant, mounted their horses, and deserted to the enemy, without any regard to their sureties, who were exposed by law to the same trial and the same penalties as would have overtaken the offenders themselves. This sudden flight, together with the news that a Bœotian force was assembled on the borders of Attica, exasperated still farther the frantic terror of the public mind. The senate at once took quiet measures for seizing and imprisoning all the remaining forty whose names had been denounced; while by concert with the strategi, all the citizens were put under arms; those who dwelt in the city, mustering in the market-place; those in and near the long walls, in the Theseium; those in Peiræus, in the square called the Market-place of Hippodamus. Even the horsemen of the city were convoked by sound of trumpet in the sacred precinct of the Anakeion. The senate itself remained all night in the acropolis, except the prytanes, or fifty senators of the presiding tribe, who passed the night in the public building called the Tholus. Every man in Athens felt the terrible sense of an internal conspiracy on the point of breaking out, perhaps along with an invasion of the foreigner, prevented only by the timely disclosure of Diokleidês, who was hailed as the saviour of the city, and carried in procession to dinner at the prytaneium.[299]

Miserable as the condition of the city was generally, yet more miserable was that of the prisoners confined; and worse, in every way, was still to be looked for, since the Athenians would know neither peace nor patience until they could reach, by some means or other, the names of the undisclosed conspirators. The female relatives and children of Andokidês, and his companions, were by permission along with them in the prison,[300] aggravating by their tears and wailings the affliction of the scene, when Charmidês, one of the parties confined, addressed himself to Andokidês, as his cousin and friend, imploring him to make a voluntary dis[p. 203]closure of all that he knew, in order to preserve the lives of so many innocent persons, his immediate kinsmen, as well as to rescue the city out of a feverish alarm not to be endured. “You know (he said) all that passed about the mutilation of the Hermæ, and your silence will now bring destruction not only upon yourself, but also upon your father and upon all of us; while if you inform, whether you have been an actor in the scene or not, you will obtain impunity for yourself and us, and at the same time soothe the terrors of the city.” Such instances on the part of Charmidês,[301] aided by the supplications of the other prisoners present, overcame the reluctance of Andokidês to become informer, and he next day made his disclosures to the senate. “Euphilêtus (he said) was the chief author of the mutilation of the Hermæ. He proposed the deed at a convivial party where I was present, but I denounced it in the strongest manner and refused all compliance. Presently, I broke my collar-bone, and injured my head, by a fall from a young horse, so badly as to be confined to my bed; when Euphilêtus took the opportunity of my absence to assure the rest of the company falsely that I had consented, and that I had agreed to cut the Hermes near my paternal house, which the tribe Ægeïs have dedicated. Accordingly, they executed the project, while I was incapable of moving, without my knowledge: they presumed that I would undertake the mutilation of this particular Hermes, and you see that this is the only one in all Athens which has escaped injury. When the conspirators ascertained that I had not been a party, Euphilêtus and Melêtus threatened me with a terrible revenge unless I observed silence: to which I replied that it was not I, but their own crime, which had brought them into danger.”

Having recounted this tale, in substance, to the senate, Andokidês tendered his slaves, both male and female, to be tortured, in order that they might confirm his story that he was in his bed and unable to leave it, on the night when the Hermæ were mutilated. It appears that the torture was actually applied (according to the custom so cruelly frequent at Athens in the case of[p. 204] slaves), and that the senators thus became satisfied of the truth of what Andokidês affirmed. He delivered in twenty-two names of citizens as having been the mutilators of the Hermæ: eighteen of these names, including Euphilêtus and Melêtus, had already been specified in the information of Teukrus; the remaining four, were Panætius, Diakritus, Lysistratus, and Chæredêmus; all of whom fled, the instant their names were mentioned, without waiting the chance of being seized. As soon as the senate heard the story of Andokidês, they proceeded to question Diokleidês over again; who confessed that he had given a false deposition, and begged for mercy, mentioning Alkibiadês the Phegusian—a relative of the commander in Sicily—and Amiantus, as having suborned him to the crime. Both of them fled immediately on this revelation; but Diokleidês was detained, sent before the dikastery for trial, and put to death.[302]

The foregoing is the story which Andokidês, in the oration De Mysteriis, delivered between fifteen and twenty years afterwards, represented himself to have communicated to the senate at this perilous crisis. But it probably is not the story which he really did tell, certainly not that which his enemies represented him as having told: least of all does it communicate the whole truth, or afford any satisfaction to such anxiety and alarm as are described to have been prevalent at the time. Nor does it accord with the brief information of Thucydidês, who tells us that Andokidês impeached himself, along with others, as participant in the mutilation.[303] Among the accomplices against whom he informed, his enemies affirmed that his own nearest relatives were included, though this latter statement is denied by himself. We may be sure, therefore, that the tale which Andokidês really told was[p. 205] something very different from what now stands in his oration. But what it really was we cannot make out; nor should we gain much even if it could be made out, since even at the time, neither Thucydidês nor other intelligent critics could determine how far it was true. The mutilation of the Hermæ remained to them always an unexplained mystery; though they accounted Andokidês the principal organizer.[304]

That which is at once most important and most incontestable, is the effect produced by the revelations of Andokidês, true or false, on the public mind at Athens. He was a young man of rank and wealth in the city, belonging to the sacred family of the Kerykes,—said to trace his pedigree to the hero Odysseus,—and invested on a previous occasion with an important naval command; whereas the preceding informers had been metics and slaves. Moreover, he was making confession of his own guilt. Hence the people received his communications with implicit confidence. They were delighted to have got to the bottom of the terrible mystery: and the public mind subsided from its furious terrors into comparative tranquillity. The citizens again began to think themselves in safety and to resume their habitual confidence in each other, while the hoplites everywhere on guard were allowed to return to their homes.[305] All the prisoners in cus[p. 206]tody on suspicion, except those against whom Andokidês informed were forthwith released: those who had fled out of apprehension, were allowed to return; while those whom he named as guilty, were tried, convicted, and put to death. Such of them as had already fled, were condemned to death in their absence, and a reward offered for their heads.[306] And though discerning men were not satisfied with the evidence upon which these sentences were pronounced, yet the general public fully believed themselves to have punished the real offenders, and were thus inexpressibly relieved from the depressing sense of unexpiated insult to the gods, as well as of danger to their political constitution from the withdrawal of divine protection.[307] Andokidês himself was pardoned, and was for the time an object, apparently, even of public gratitude, so that his father Leogoras who had been among the parties imprisoned, ventured to indict a senator named Speusippus for illegal proceedings towards him, and obtained an almost unanimous verdict from the dikastery.[308] But the character of a statue-breaker and an informer could never be otherwise than odious at Athens. Andokidês was either banished by the indirect effect of a general disqualifying decree; or at least found that he had made so many enemies, and incurred so much obloquy, by his conduct in this affair, as to make it necessary for him to quit the city. He remained in banishment for many years, and seems never to have got clear of the hatred which his conduct in this nefarious proceeding so well merited.[309]

[p. 207]

But the comfort arising out of these disclosures respecting the Hermæ, though genuine and inestimable at the moment, was soon again disturbed. There still remained the various alleged profanations of the Eleusinian mysteries, which had not yet been investigated or brought to atonement; and these were the more sure to be pressed home, and worked with a factitious exaggeration of pious zeal, since the enemies of Alkibiadês were bent upon turning them to his ruin. Among all the ceremonies of Attic religion, there was none more profoundly or universally reverenced than the mysteries of Eleusis, originally enjoined by the goddess Dêmêtêr herself, in her visit to that place, to Eumolpus and the other Eleusinian patriarch, and transmitted as a precious hereditary privilege in their families.[310] Celebrated annually in the month of August or September, under the special care of the basileus, or second archon, these mysteries were attended by vast crowds from Athens as well as from other parts of Greece, presenting to the eye a solemn and imposing spectacle, and striking the imagination still more powerfully by the special initiation which they conferred, under pledge of secrecy, upon pious and predisposed communicants. Even the divulgation in words to the uninitiated, of that which was exhibited to the eye and ear of the assembly in the interior of the Eleusinian temple, was accounted highly criminal: much more the actual mimicry of these ceremonies for the amusement of a convivial party. Moreover, the individuals who held the great sacred offices at Eleusis,—the hierophant, the daduch (torch-bearer), and the keryx, or herald,—which were transmitted by inheritance in the Eumolpidæ and other great families of antiquity and importance, were personally insulted by such proceedings, and vindicated their own dignity at the same time that they invoked punishment on the offenders in the name of Dêmêtêr and Persephonê. The most appalling legends were current among the Athenian public, and repeated on proper occasions even by the hierophant[p. 208] himself, respecting the divine judgments which always overtook such impious men.[311]

When we recollect how highly the Eleusinian mysteries were venerated by Greeks not born in Athens and even by foreigners, we shall not wonder at the violent indignation excited in the Athenian mind by persons who profaned or divulged them; especially at a moment when their religious sensibilities had been so keenly wounded, and so tardily and recently healed, in reference to the Hermæ.[312] It was about this same time[313] that a prosecution was instituted against the Melian philosopher Diagoras for irreligious doctrines. Having left Athens before trial, he was found guilty in his absence, and a reward was offered for his life.

Probably the privileged sacred families, connected with the mysteries, were foremost in calling for expiation from the state[p. 209] to the majesty of the two offended goddesses, and for punishment on the delinquents.[314] And the enemies of Alkibiadês, personal as well as political, found the opportunity favorable for reviving that charge against him which they had artfully suffered to drop before his departure to Sicily. The matter of fact alleged against him—the mock-celebration of these holy ceremonies—was not only in itself probable, but proved by reasonably good testimony against him and some of his intimate companions. Moreover, the overbearing insolence of demeanor habitual with Alkibiadês, so glaringly at variance with the equal restraints of democracy, enabled his enemies to impute to him not only irreligious acts, but anti-constitutional purposes; an association of ideas which was at this moment the more easily accredited, since his divulgation and parody of the mysteries did not stand alone, but was interpreted in conjunction with the recent mutilation of the Hermæ—as a manifestation of the same anti-patriotic and irreligious feeling, if not part and parcel of the same treasonable scheme. And the alarm on this subject was now renewed by the appearance of a Lacedæmonian army at the isthmus, professing to contemplate some enterprise in conjunction with the Bœotians, a purpose not easy to understand, and presenting every appearance of being a cloak for hostile designs against Athens. So fully was this believed among the Athenians, that they took arms, and remained under arms one whole night in the sacred precinct of the Theseium. No enemy indeed appeared, either without or within; but the conspiracy had only been prevented from breaking out, so they imagined, by the recent inquiries and detection. Moreover, the party in Argos connected with Alkibiadês were just at this time suspected of a plot for the subversion of their own democracy, which still farther aggravated the presumptions against him, while it induced the Athenians to give up to the Argeian democratical government the oligarchical hostages which had been taken from that town a few months before,[315] in order that it might put these hostages to death, whenever it thought fit.

[p. 210]

Such incidents materially aided the enemies of Alkibiadês in their unremitting efforts to procure his recall and condemnation. Among them were men very different in station and temper: Thessalus son of Kimon, a man of the highest lineage and of hereditary oligarchical politics, as well as Androklês, a leading demagogue or popular orator. It was the former who preferred against him in the senate the memorable impeachment, which, fortunately for our information, is recorded verbatim.

“Thessalus son of Kimon, of the deme Lakiadæ, hath impeached Alkibiadês son of Kleinias, of the deme Skambônidæ, as guilty of crime in regard to the two goddesses Dêmêtêr and Persephonê, in mimicking the mysteries, and exhibiting them to his companions in his own house, wearing the costume of the hierophant: applying to himself the name of hierophant; to Polytion, that of daduch; to Theodôrus that of herald, and addressing his remaining companions as mysts and epopts; all contrary to the sacred customs and canons, of old established by the Eumolpidæ, the Kerykes, and the Eleusinian priests.”[316]

Similar impeachments being at the same time presented against other citizens now serving in Sicily along with Alkibiadês, the accusers moved that he and the rest might be sent for to come home and take their trial. We may observe that the indictment against him is quite distinct and special, making no allusion to any supposed treasonable or anti-constitutional projects: probably, however, these suspicions were pressed by his enemies in their preliminary speeches, for the purpose of inducing the Athenians to remove him from the command of the army forthwith, and send for him home. For such a step it was indispensable that a strong case should be made out: but the public was at length thoroughly brought round, and the Salaminian trireme[p. 211] was despatched to Sicily to fetch him. Great care however was taken, in sending this summons, to avoid all appearance of prejudgment, or harshness, or menace. The trierarch was forbidden to seize his person, and had instructions to invite him simply to accompany the Salaminian home in his own trireme: so as to avoid the hazard of offending the Argeian and Mantineian allies serving in Sicily, or the army itself.[317]

It was on the return of the Athenian army from their unsuccessful attempt at Kamarina, to their previous quarters at Katana, that they found the Salaminian trireme newly arrived from Athens with this grave requisition against the general. We may be sure that Alkibiadês received private intimation from his friends at Athens, by the same trireme, communicating to him the temper of the people, so that his resolution was speedily taken. Professing to obey, he departed in his own trireme on the voyage homeward, along with the other persons accused, the Salaminian trireme being in company; but as soon as they arrived at Thurii, in coasting along Italy, he and his companions quitted the vessel and disappeared. After a fruitless search on the part of the Salaminian trierarch, the two triremes were obliged to return to Athens without him. Both Alkibiadês and the rest of the accused—one of whom[318] was his own cousin and namesake—were tried, condemned to death on non-appearance, and their property confiscated; while the Eumolpidæ and the other Eleusinian sacred families pronounced him to be accursed by the gods, for his desecration of the mysteries,[319] and recorded the condemnation on a plate of lead.

Probably his disappearance and exile were acceptable to his enemies at Athens: at any rate, they thus made sure of getting rid of him; while had he come back, his condemnation to death,[p. 212] though probable, could not be considered as certain. In considering the conduct of the Athenians towards Alkibiadês, we have to remark, that the people were guilty of no act of injustice. He had committed—at least there was fair reason for believing that he had committed—an act criminal in the estimation of every Greek; the divulgation and profanation of the mysteries. This act—alleged against him in the indictment very distinctly, divested of all supposed ulterior purpose, treasonable or otherwise—was legally punishable at Athens, and was universally accounted guilty in public estimation, as an offence at once against the religious sentiment of the people and against the public safety, by offending the two goddesses, Dêmêtêr and Persephonê, and driving them to withdraw their favor and protection. The same demand for legal punishment would have been supposed to exist in a Christian Catholic country, down to a very recent period of history, if instead of the Eleusinian mysteries we suppose the sacrament of the mass to have been the ceremony ridiculed; though such a proceeding would involve no breach of obligation to secrecy. Nor ought we to judge what would have been the measure of penalty formerly awarded to a person convicted of such an offence, by consulting the tendency of penal legislation during the last sixty years. Even down to the last century it would have been visited with something sharper than the draught of hemlock, which is the worst that could possibly have befallen Alkibiadês at Athens, as we may see by the condemnation and execution of the Chevalier de la Barre at Abbeville, in 1766. The uniform tendency of Christian legislation,[320] down to a recent period, leaves no room for reproaching[p. 213] the Athenians with excessive cruelty in their penal visitation of offences against the religious sentiment. On the contrary, the Athenians are distinguished for comparative mildness and tolerance, as we shall find various opportunities for remarking.

Now in reviewing the conduct of the Athenians towards Alkibiadês, we must consider, that this violation of the mysteries, of which he was indicted in good legal form, was an action for which he really deserved punishment, if any one deserved it. Even[p. 214] his enemies did not fabricate this charge, or impute it to him falsely; though they were guilty of insidious and unprincipled manœuvres to exasperate the public mind against him. Their machinations begin with the mutilation of the Hermæ; an act of new and unparalleled wickedness, to which historians of Greece seldom do justice. It was not, like the violations of the mysteries, a piece of indecent pastime committed within four walls, and never intended to become known. It was an outrage essentially public, planned and executed by conspirators for the deliberate purpose of lacerating the religious mind of Athens, and turning the prevalent terror and distraction to political profit. Thus much is certain; though we cannot be sure who the conspirators were, nor what was their exact or special purpose. That the destruction of Alkibiadês was one of the direct purposes of the conspirators, is highly probable. But his enemies, even if they were not among the original authors, at least took upon themselves half the guilt of the proceeding, by making it the basis of treacherous machinations against his person. How their scheme, which was originally contrived to destroy him before the expedition departed, at first failed, was then artfully dropped, and at length effectually revived, after a long train of calumny against the absent general, has been already recounted. It is among the darkest chapters of Athenian political history, indicating, on the part of the people, strong religious excitability, without any injustice towards Alkibiadês; but indicating, on the part of his enemies, as well as of the Hermokopids generally, a depth of wicked contrivance rarely paralleled in political warfare. It is to these men, not to the people, that Alkibiadês owes his expulsion, aided indeed by the effect of his own previous character. In regard to the Hermæ, the Athenians condemned to death—after and by consequence of the deposition of Andokidês—a small number of men who may perhaps have been innocent victims, but whom they sincerely believed to be guilty; and whose death not only tranquillized comparatively the public mind, but served as the only means of rescue to a far larger number of prisoners confined on suspicion. In regard to Alkibiadês, they came to no collective resolution, except that of recalling him to take his trial, a resolution implying no wrong in those who voted[p. 215] for it, whatever may be the guilt of those who proposed and prepared it by perfidious means.[321]

[p. 216]

In order to appreciate the desperate hatred with which the exile Alkibiadês afterwards revenged himself on his countrymen, it has been necessary to explain to what extent he had just ground of complaint against them. On being informed that they had condemned him to death in his absence, he is said to have exclaimed: “I shall show them that I am alive.” He fully redeemed his word.[322]

The recall and consequent banishment of Alkibiadês was mischievous to Athens in several ways. It transferred to the[p. 217] enemy’s camp an angry exile, to make known her weak points, and to rouse the sluggishness of Sparta. It offended a portion of the Sicilian armament, most of all probably the Argeians and Mantineians, and slackened their zeal in the cause.[323] And what was worst of all, it left the armament altogether under the paralyzing command of Nikias. For Lamachus, though still equal in nominal authority, and now invested with the command of one-half instead of one-third of the army, appears to have had no real influence except in the field.

Nikias now proceeded to execute that scheme which he had first suggested, to sail round from Katana to Selinus and Egesta, with the view of investigating the quarrel between the two as well as the financial means of the latter. Passing through the strait and along the north coast of the island, he first touched at Himera, where admittance was refused to him; he next captured a Sikanian maritime town named Hykkara, together with many prisoners; among them the celebrated courtezan Laïs, then a very young girl.[324] Having handed over this place to the Egestæans, Nikias went in person to inspect their city and condition; but could obtain no more money than the thirty talents which had been before announced on the second visit of the commissioners. He then restored the prisoners from Hykkara to their Sikanian countrymen, receiving a ransom of one hundred and twenty talents,[325] and conducted the Athenian land-force across the centre of the island, through the territory of the friendly Sikels to Katana; making an attack in his way upon the hostile Sikel[p. 218] town of Hybla, in which he was repulsed. At Katana he was rejoined by his naval force.

It was now seemingly about the middle of October, and three months had elapsed since the arrival of the Athenian armament at Rhegium; during which period they had achieved nothing except the acquisition of Naxus and Katana as allies—unless we are to reckon the insignificant capture of Hykkara. But Naxus and Katana, as Chalkidic cities, had been counted upon beforehand even by Nikias; together with Rhegium, which had been found reluctant, to his great disappointment. What is still worse, in reference to the character of the general, not only nothing serious had been achieved, but nothing serious had been attempted. The precious moment pointed out by Lamachus for action, when the terrific menace of the recent untried armament was at its maximum, and preparation as well as confidence was wanting at Syracuse, had been irreparably wasted. Every day the preparations of the Syracusans improved and their fears diminished; the invader, whom they had looked upon as so formidable, turned out both hesitating and timorous,[326] and when he had disappeared out of their sight to Hykkara and Egesta, still more when he assailed in vain the insignificant Sikel post of Hybla, their minds underwent a reaction from dismay to extreme confidence. The mass of Syracusan citizens, now reinforced by allies from Selinus and other cities, called upon their generals to lead to the attack of the Athenian position at Katana, since the Athenians did not dare to approach Syracuse; while Syracusan horsemen even went so far as to insult the Athenians in their camp, riding up to ask if they were come to settle as peaceable citizens in the island, instead of restoring the Leontines. Such unexpected humiliation, acting probably on the feelings of the soldiers, at length shamed Nikias out of his inaction, and compelled him to strike a blow for the maintenance of his own reputation. He devised a stratagem for approaching Syracuse in such a manner as to elude the opposition of the Syracusan cavalry, informing himself as to the ground near the city, through some exiles serving along with him.[327]

He despatched to Syracuse a Katanæan citizen, in his heart[p. 219] attached to Athens, yet apparently neutral and on good terms with the other side, as bearer of a pretended message and proposition from the friends of Syracuse at Katana. Many of the Athenian soldiers, so the message ran, were in the habit of passing the night within the walls, apart from their camp and arms. It would be easy for the Syracusans by a vigorous attack at daybreak, to surprise them thus unprepared and dispersed; while the philo-Syracusan party at Katana promised to aid, by closing the gates, assailing the Athenians within, and setting fire to the ships. A numerous body of Katanæans, they added, were eager to coöperate in the plan now proposed.

This communication, reaching the Syracusan generals at a moment when they were themselves elate and disposed to an aggressive movement, found such incautious credence, that they sent back the messenger to Katana with cordial assent and agreement for a precise day. Accordingly, a day or two before, the entire Syracusan force was marched out towards Katana, and encamped for the night on the river Symæthus, in the Leontine territory, within about eight miles of Katana. But Nikias, with whom the whole proceeding originated, choosing this same day to put on shipboard his army, together with his Sikel allies present, sailed by night southward along the coast, rounding the island of Ortygia, into the Great Harbor of Syracuse. Arrived thither by break of day, he disembarked his troops unopposed south of the mouth of the Anâpus, in the interior of the Great Harbor, near the hamlet which stretched towards the temple of Zeus Olympius. Having broken down the neighboring bridge, where the Helôrine road crossed the Anâpus, he took up a position protected by various embarrassing obstacles,—houses, walls, trees, and standing water, besides the steep ground of the Olympieion itself on his left wing; so that he could choose his own time for fighting, and was out of the attack of the Syracusan horse. For the protection of his ships on the shore, he provided a palisade work by cutting down the neighboring trees; and even took precautions for his rear by throwing up a hasty fence of wood and stones touching the shore at the inner bay called Daskon. He had full leisure for such defensive works, since the enemy within the walls made no attempt to disturb him, while the Syracusan horse only discovered his manœuvre on arriving[p. 220] before the lines at Katana; and though they lost no time in returning, the march back was a long one.[328] Such was the confidence of the Syracusans, however, that even after so long a march, they offered battle forthwith; but as Nikias did not quit his position, they retreated, to take up their night-station on the other side of the Helôrine road, probably a road bordered on each side by walls.

On the next morning, Nikias marched out of his position and formed his troops in order of battle, in two divisions, each eight deep. His front division was intended to attack; his rear division—in hollow square, with the baggage in the middle—was held in reserve near the camp, to lend aid where aid might be wanted; cavalry there was none. The Syracusan hoplites, seemingly far more numerous than his, presented the levy in mass of the city, without any selection; they were ranged in the deeper order of sixteen, alongside of their Selinuntine allies. On the right wing were posted their horsemen, the best part of their force, not less than twelve hundred in number; together with two hundred horsemen from Gela, twenty from Kamarina, about fifty bowmen, and a company of darters. The hoplites, though full of courage, had little training; and their array, never precisely kept, was on this occasion farther disturbed by the immediate vicinity of the city. Some had gone in to see their families; others, hurrying out to join, found the battle already begun, and took rank wherever they could.[329]

Thucydidês, in describing this battle, gives us, according to his practice, a statement of the motives and feelings which animated the combatants on both sides, and which furnished a theme for the brief harangue of Nikias. This appears surprising to one accustomed to modern warfare, where the soldier is under the influence simply of professional honor and disgrace, without any thought of the cause for which he is fighting. In ancient times, such a motive was only one among many others, which, according to the circumstances of the case, contributed to elevate or depress the soldier’s mind at the eve of action. Nikias adverted to the recognized military preëminence of chosen Argeians, Mantine[p. 221]ians, and Athenians, as compared to the Syracusan levy in mass, who were full of belief in their own superiority,—this is a striking confession of the deplorable change which had been wrought by his own delay,—but who would come short in actual conflict, from want of discipline.[330] Moreover, he reminded them that they were far away from home, and that defeat would render them victims, one and all, of the Syracusan cavalry. He little thought, nor did his prophets forewarn him, that such a calamity, serious as it would have been, was even desirable for Athens, since it would have saved her from the far more overwhelming disasters which will be found to sadden the coming chapters of this history.

While the customary sacrifices were being performed, the slingers and bowmen on both sides became engaged in skirmishing. But presently the trumpets sounded, and Nikias ordered his first division of hoplites to charge at once rapidly, before the Syracusans expected it. Judging from his previous backwardness, they never imagined that he would be the first to give orders for charging; nor was it until they saw the Athenian line actually advancing towards them that they lifted their own arms from the ground and came forward to give the meeting. The shock was bravely encountered on both sides, and for some time the battle continued hand to hand with undecided result. There happened to supervene a violent storm of rain, with thunder and lightning, which alarmed the Syracusans, who construed it as an unfavorable augury, while to the more practised Athenian hoplites, it seemed a mere phenomenon of the season,[331] so that they still farther astonished the Syracusans by the unabated confidence[p. 222] with which they continued the fight. At length the Syracusan army was broken, dispersed, and fled; first, before the Argeians on the right, next, before the Athenians in the centre. The victors pursued as far as was safe and practicable, without disordering their ranks: for the Syracusan cavalry, which had not yet been engaged, checked all who pressed forward, and enabled their own infantry to retire in safety behind the Helôrine road.[332]

So little were the Syracusans dispirited with this defeat, that they did not retire within their city until they had sent an adequate detachment to guard the neighboring temple and sacred precinct of the Olympian Zeus, wherein there was much deposited wealth, which they feared that the Athenians might seize. Nikias, however, without approaching the sacred ground, contented himself with occupying the field of battle, burnt his own dead, and stripped the arms from the dead of the enemy. The Syracusans and their allies lost two hundred and fifty men, the Athenians fifty.[333]

On the morrow, having granted to the Syracusans their dead bodies for burial, and collected the ashes of his own dead, Nikias reëmbarked his troops, put to sea, and sailed back to his former station at Katana. He conceived it impossible, without cavalry and a farther stock of money, to maintain his position near Syracuse or to prosecute immediate operations of siege or blockade. And as the winter was now approaching, he determined to take up winter quarters at Katana; though considering the mild winter at Syracuse, and the danger of marsh fever near the Great Harbor in summer, the change of season might well be regarded as a questionable gain. But he proposed to employ the interval[p. 223] in sending to Athens for cavalry and money, as well as in procuring the like reinforcements from his Sicilian allies, whose numbers he calculated now on increasing by the accession of new cities after his recent victory, and to get together magazines of every kind for beginning the siege of Syracuse in the spring. Despatching a trireme to Athens with these requisitions, he sailed with his forces to Messênê, within which there was a favorable party who gave hopes of opening the gates to him. Such a correspondence had already been commenced before the departure of Alkibiadês: but it was the first act of revenge which the departing general took on his country, to betray the proceedings to the philo-Syracusan party in Messênê. Accordingly, these latter, watching their opportunity, rose in arms before the arrival of Nikias, put to death their chief antagonists, and held the town by force against the Athenians; who after a fruitless delay of thirteen days, with scanty supplies and under stormy weather, were forced to return to Naxos, where they established a palisaded camp and station, and went into winter quarters.[334]

The recent stratagem of Nikias, followed by the movement into the harbor of Syracuse, and the battle, had been ably planned and executed. It served to show the courage and discipline of the army, as well as to keep up the spirits of the soldiers themselves, and to obviate those feelings of disappointment which the previous inefficiency of the armament tended to arouse. But as to other results, the victory was barren; we may even say, positively mischievous, since it imparted a momentary stimulus which served as an excuse to Nikias for the three months of total inaction which followed, and since it neither weakened nor humiliated the Syracusans, but gave them a salutary lesson which they turned to account while Nikias was in his winter quarters. His apathy during these first eight months after the arrival of the expedition at Rhegium (from July 415 B.C. to March 414 B.C.), was the most deplorable of all calamities to his army, his country, and himself. Abundant proofs of this will be seen in the coming events: at present, we have only to turn back to his own predictions and recommendations. All the difficulties and dangers to[p. 224] be surmounted in Sicily had been foreseen by himself and impressed upon the Athenians: in the first instance, as grounds against undertaking the expedition; but the Athenians, though unfortunately not allowing them to avail in that capacity, fully admitted their reality, and authorized him to demand whatever force was necessary to overcome them.[335] He had thus been allowed to bring with him a force calculated upon his own ideas, together with supplies and implements for besieging; yet when arrived, he seems only anxious to avoid exposing that force in any serious enterprise, and to find an excuse for conducting it back to Athens. That Syracuse was the grand enemy, and that the capital point of the enterprise was the siege of that city, was a truth familiar to himself as well as every man at Athens:[336] upon the formidable cavalry of the Syracusans, Nikias had himself insisted, in the preliminary debates. Yet, after four months of mere trifling, and pretence of action so as to evade dealing with the real difficulty, the existence of this cavalry is made an excuse for a farther postponement of four months until reinforcements can be obtained from Athens. To all the intrinsic dangers of the case, predicted by Nikias himself with proper discernment, was thus superadded the aggravated danger of his own factitious delay; frittering away the first impression of his armament, giving the Syracusans leisure to enlarge their fortifications, and allowing the Peloponnesians time to interfere against Attica as well as to succor Sicily. It was the unhappy weakness of this commander to shrink from decisive resolutions of every kind, and at any rate to postpone them until the necessity became imminent: the consequence of which was,—to use an expression of the Corinthian envoy before the Peloponnesian war in censuring the dilatory policy of Sparta,—that never acting, yet always seeming about to act, he found his enemy in double force instead of single, at the moment of actual conflict.[337]

Great, indeed, must have been the disappointment of the Athe[p. 225]nians, when, after having sent forth in the month of June, an expedition of unparalleled efficiency, they receive in the month of November a despatch to acquaint them that the general has accomplished little except one indecisive victory; and that he has not even attempted anything serious, nor can do so unless they send him farther cavalry and money. Yet the only answer which they made was, to grant and provide for this demand without any public expression of discontent or disappointment against him.[338] And this is the more to be noted, since the re[p. 226]moval of Alkibiadês afforded an inviting and even valuable opportunity for proposing to send out a fresh colleague in his room.[p. 227] If there were no complaints raised against Nikias at Athens, so neither are we informed of any such, even among his own soldiers in Sicily, though their disappointment must have been yet greater than that of their countrymen at home, considering the expectations with which they had come out. We may remember that the delay of a few days at Eion, under perfectly justifiable circumstances, and while awaiting the arrival of reinforcements actually sent for, raised the loudest murmurs against Kleon in his expedition against Amphipolis, from the hoplites in his own army.[339] The contrast is instructive, and will appear yet more instructive as we advance forward.

Meanwhile the Syracusans were profiting by the lesson of their recent defeat. In the next public assembly which ensued, Hermokratês addressed them in the mingled tone of encouragement and admonition. He praised their bravery, while he deprecated their want of tactics and discipline. Considering the great superiority of the enemy in this last respect, he regarded the recent battle as giving good promise for the future; and he appealed with satisfaction to the precautions taken by Nikias in fortifying his camp, as well as to his speedy retreat after the battle. He pressed them to diminish the excessive number of fifteen generals, whom they had hitherto been accustomed to nominate to the command; to reduce the number to three, conferring upon them at the same[p. 228] time fuller powers than had been before enjoyed, and swearing a solemn oath to leave them unfettered in the exercise of such powers; lastly, to enjoin upon these generals the most strenuous efforts, during the coming winter, for training and arming the whole population. Accordingly Hermokratês himself, with Herakleidês and Sikanus, were named to the command. Ambassadors were sent both to Sparta and to Corinth, for the purpose of entreating assistance in Sicily, as well as of prevailing on the Peloponnesians to recommence a direct attack against Attica;[340] so as at least to prevent the Athenians from sending farther reinforcements to Nikias, and perhaps even to bring about the recall of his army.

But by far the most important measure which marked the nomination of the new generals, was, the enlargement of the line of fortifications at Syracuse. They constructed a new wall, inclosing an additional space and covering both their inner and their outer city to the westward, reaching from the outer sea to the Great Harbor, across the whole space fronting the rising slope of the hill of Epipolæ, and stretching far enough westward to inclose the sacred precinct of Apollo Temenites. This was intended as a precaution, in order that if Nikias, resuming operations in the spring, should beat them in the field and confine them to their walls, he might, nevertheless, be prevented from carrying a wall of circumvallation from sea to sea without covering a great additional extent of ground.[341] Besides this, the Syracusans fitted up and garrisoned the deserted town of Megara, on the coast to the north of Syracuse; they established a regular fortification and garrison in the Olympieion or temple of Zeus Olympius, which they had already garrisoned after the recent battle with Nikias; and they planted stakes in the sea to obstruct the convenient landing-places. All these precautions were useful to them; and we may even say that the new outlying fortification, inclosing the Temenites, proved their salvation in the coming siege, by so lengthening the circumvallation necessary for the Athenians to[p. 229] construct, that Gylippus had time to arrive before it was finished. But there was one farther precaution which the Syracusans omitted at this moment, when it was open to them without any hindrance, to occupy and fortify the Euryâlus, or the summit of the hill of Epipolæ. Had they done this now, probably the Athenians could never have made progress with their lines of circumvallation: but they did not think of it until too late, as we shall presently see.

Nevertheless it is important to remark, in reference to the general scheme of Athenian operations in Sicily, that if Nikias had adopted the plan originally recommended by Lamachus, or if he had begun his permanent besieging operations against Syracuse in the summer or autumn of 415 B.C., instead of postponing them, as he actually did, to the spring of 414 B.C., he would have found none of these additional defences to contend against, and the line of circumvallation necessary for his purpose would have been shorter and easier. Besides these permanent and irreparable disadvantages, his winter’s inaction at Naxos drew upon him the farther insult, that the Syracusans marched to his former quarters at Katana and burned the tents which they found standing, ravaging at the same time the neighboring fields.[342]

Kamarina maintained an equivocal policy which made both parties hope to gain it; and in the course of this winter the Athenian envoy Euphêmus with others was sent thither to propose a renewal of that alliance, between the city and Athens, which had been concluded ten years before. Hermokratês the Syracusan went to counteract his object; and both of them, according to Grecian custom, were admitted to address the public assembly.

Hermokratês began by denouncing the views, designs, and past history of Athens. He did not, he said, fear her power, provided the Sicilian cities were united and true to each other: even against Syracuse alone, the hasty retreat of the Athenians after the recent battle had shown how little they confided in their own strength. What he did fear, was, the delusive promises and insinuations of Athens, tending to disunite the island, and to paralyze all joint resistance. Every one knew that her purpose in this expedition was to subjugate all Sicily,—that Leontini and[p. 230] Egesta served merely as convenient pretences to put forward,—and that she could have no sincere sympathy for Chalkidians in Sicily, when she herself held in slavery the Chalkidians in Eubœa. It was, in truth, nothing else but an extension of the same scheme of rapacious ambition, whereby she had reduced her Ionian allies and kinsmen to their present wretched slavery, now threatened against Sicily. The Sicilians could not too speedily show her that they were no Ionians, made to be transferred from one master to another, but autonomous Dorians from the centre of autonomy, Peloponnesus. It would be madness to forfeit this honorable position through jealousy or lukewarmness among themselves. Let not the Kamarinæans imagine that Athens was striking her blow at Syracuse alone: they were themselves next neighbors of Syracuse, and would be the first victims if she were conquered. They might wish, from apprehension or envy, to see the superior power of Syracuse humbled, but this could not happen without endangering their own existence. They ought to do for her what they would have asked her to do if the Athenians had invaded Kamarina, instead of lending merely nominal aid, as they had hitherto done. Their former alliance with Athens was for purposes of mutual defence, not binding them to aid her in schemes of pure aggression. To hold aloof, give fair words to both parties, and leave Syracuse to fight the battle of Sicily single-handed, was as unjust as it was dishonorable. If she came off victor in the struggle, she would take care that the Kamarinæans should be no gainers by such a policy. The state of affairs was so plain, that he (Hermokratês) could not pretend to enlighten them: but he solemnly appealed to their sentiments of common blood and lineage. The Dorians of Syracuse were assailed by their eternal enemies the Ionians, and ought not to be now betrayed by their own brother Dorians of Kamarina.[343]

Euphêmus, in reply, explained the proceedings of Athens in reference to her empire, and vindicated her against the charges of Hermokratês. Though addressing a Dorian assembly, he did not fear to take his start from the position laid down by Hermokratês, that Ionians were the natural enemies of Dorians. Under this feeling Athens, as an Ionian city, had looked about to[p. 231] strengthen herself against the supremacy of her powerful Dorian neighbors in Peloponnesus. Finding herself after the repulse of the Persian king at the head of those Ionians and other Greeks who had just revolted from him, she had made use of her position as well as of her superior navy to shake off the illegitimate ascendency of Sparta. Her empire was justified by regard for her own safety against Sparta, as well as by the immense superiority of her maritime efforts in the rescue of Greece from the Persians. Even in reference to her allies, she had good ground for reducing them to subjection, because they had made themselves the instruments and auxiliaries of the Persian king in his attempt to conquer her. Prudential views for assured safety to herself had thus led her to the acquisition of her present empire, and the same views now brought her to Sicily. He was prepared to show that the interests of Kamarina were in full accordance with those of Athens. The main purpose of Athens in Sicily was to prevent her Sicilian enemies from sending aid to her Peloponnesian enemies, to accomplish which, powerful Sicilian allies were indispensable to her. To enfeeble or subjugate her Sicilian allies would be folly: if she did this, they would not serve her purpose of keeping the Syracusans employed in their own island. Hence her desire to reëstablish the expatriated Leontines, powerful and free, though she retained the Chalkidians in Eubœa as subjects. Near home, she wanted nothing but subjects, disarmed and tribute-paying, while in Sicily, she required independent and efficient allies; so that the double conduct, which Hermokratês reproached as inconsistent, proceeded from one and the same root of public prudence. Pursuant to that motive, Athens dealt differently with her different allies, according to the circumstances of each. Thus, she respected the autonomy of Chios and Methymna, and maintained equal relations with other islanders near Peloponnesus; and such were the relations which she now wished to establish in Sicily.

No: it was Syracuse, not Athens, whom the Kamarinæans and other Sicilians had really ground to fear. Syracuse was aiming at the acquisition of imperial sway over the island; and that which she had already done towards the Leontines showed what she was prepared to do when the time came, against Kamarina and others. It was under this apprehension that the Kamari[p. 232]næans had formerly invited Athens into Sicily: it would be alike unjust and impolitic were they now to repudiate her aid, for she could accomplish nothing without them; if they did so on the present occasion, they would repent it hereafter when exposed to the hostility of a constant encroaching neighbor, and when Athenian auxiliaries could not again be had. He repelled the imputations which Hermokratês had cast upon Athens, but the Kamarinæans were not sitting as judges or censors upon her merits. It was for them to consider whether that meddlesome disposition, with which Athens was reproached, was not highly beneficial as the terror of oppressors, and the shield of weaker states, throughout Greece. He now tendered it to the Kamarinæans as their only security against Syracuse; calling upon them, instead of living in perpetual fear of her aggression, to seize the present opportunity of attacking her on an equal footing, jointly with Athens.[344]

In these two remarkable speeches, we find Hermokratês renewing substantially the same line of counsel as he had taken up ten years before at the congress of Gela, to settle all Sicilian differences at home, and above all things to keep out the intervention of Athens; who if she once got footing in Sicily, would never rest until she reduced all the cities successively. This was the natural point of view for a Syracusan politician; but by no means equally natural, nor equally conclusive, for an inhabitant of one of the secondary Sicilian cities, especially of the conterminous Kamarina. And the oration of Euphêmus is an able pleading to demonstrate that the Kamarinæans had far more to fear from Syracuse than from Athens. His arguments to this point are at least highly plausible, if not convincing: but he seems to lay himself open to attack from the opposite quarter. If Athens cannot hope to gain any subjects in Sicily, what motive has she for interfering? This Euphêmus meets by contending that if she does not interfere, the Syracusans and their allies will come across and render assistance to the enemies of Athens in Peloponnesus. It is manifest, however, that under the actual circumstances of the time, Athens could have no real fears of this nature, and that her real motives for meddling in Sicily were[p. 233] those of hope and encroachment, not of self-defence. But it shows how little likely such hopes were to be realized, and therefore how ill-advised the whole plan of interference in Sicily was,—that the Athenian envoy could say to the Kamarinæans, in the same strain as Nikias had spoken at Athens when combating the wisdom of the expedition: “Such is the distance of Sicily from Athens, and such the difficulty of guarding cities of great force and ample territory combined, that if we wished to hold you Sicilians as subjects, we should be unable to do it: we can only retain you as free and powerful allies.”[345] What Nikias said at Athens to dissuade his countrymen from the enterprise, under sincere conviction, Euphêmus repeated at Kamarina for the purpose of conciliating that city; probably, without believing it himself, yet the anticipation was not on that account the less true and reasonable.

The Kamarinæans felt the force of both speeches, from Hermokratês and Euphêmus. Their inclinations carried them towards the Athenians, yet not without a certain misgiving in case Athens should prove completely successful. Towards the Syracusans, on the contrary, they entertained nothing but unqualified apprehension, and jealousy of very ancient date; and even now their great fear was, of probable suffering, if the Syracusans succeeded against Athens without their coöperation. In this dilemma, they thought it safest to give an evasive answer, of friendly sentiment towards both parties, but refusal of aid to either; hoping thus to avoid an inexpiable breach, whichever way the ultimate success might turn.[346]

For a city comparatively weak and situated like Kamarina, such was perhaps the least hazardous policy. In December, 415 B.C., no human being could venture to predict how the struggle between Nikias and the Syracusans in the coming year would turn out; nor were the Kamarinæans prompted by any hearty feeling to take the extreme chances with either party. Matters had borne[p. 234] a different aspect, indeed, in the preceding month of July 415 B.C., when the Athenians first arrived. Had the vigorous policy urged by Lamachus been then followed up, the Athenians would always have appeared likely to succeed, if, indeed, they had not already become conquerors of Syracuse; so that waverers like the Kamarinæans would have remained attached to them from policy. The best way to obtain allies, Lamachus had contended, was, to be prompt and decisive in action, and to strike at the capital point at once, while the intimidating effect of their arrival was fresh. Of the value of his advice, an emphatic illustration is afforded by the conduct of Kamarina.[347]

Throughout the rest of the winter, Nikias did little or nothing. He merely despatched envoys for the purpose of conciliating the Sikels in the interior, where the autonomous Sikels, who dwelt in the central regions of the island, for the most part declared in his favor,—especially the powerful Sikel prince Archônidês,—sending provisions and even money to the camp at Naxos. Against some refractory tribes, Nikias sent detachments for purposes of compulsion; while the Syracusans on their part did the like to counteract him. Such Sikel tribes as had become dependents of Syracuse, stood aloof from the struggle. As the spring approached, Nikias transferred his position from Naxos to Katana, reëstablishing that camp which the Syracusans had destroyed.[348]

He farther sent a trireme to Carthage, to invite coöperation from that city; and a second to the Tyrrhenian maritime cities on the southern coast of Italy, some of whom had proffered to him their services, as ancient enemies of Syracuse, and now realized their promises. From Carthage nothing was obtained; why, we do not know; for we shall find the Carthaginians, six years hence, invading Sicily with prodigious forces; and if they entertained any such intentions, it would seem that the presence of Nikias in Sicily must have presented the most convenient moment for executing them. To the Sikels, Egestæans, and all the other allies of Athens, Nikias sent orders for bricks, iron bars, clamps, and everything suitable for the wall of circumvallation, which was to be commenced with the first burst of spring.

[p. 235]

While such preparations were going on in Sicily, debates of portentous promise took place at Sparta. Immediately after the battle near the Olympieion, and the retreat of Nikias into winter quarters, the Syracusans had despatched envoys to Peloponnesus to solicit reinforcements. Here, again, we are compelled to notice the lamentable consequences arising out of the inaction of Nikias. Had he commenced the siege of Syracuse on his first arrival, it may be doubted whether any such envoys would have been sent to Peloponnesus at all; at any rate, they would not have arrived in time to produce decisive effects.[349] After exerting what influence they could upon the Italian Greeks in their voyage, the Syracusan envoys reached Corinth, where they found the warmest reception and obtained promises of speedy succor. The Corinthians furnished envoys of their own to accompany them to Sparta, and to back their request for Lacedæmonian aid.

They found at the congress at Sparta another advocate upon whom they could not reasonably have counted, Alkibiadês. That exile had crossed over from Thurii to the Eleian port of Kyllênê in Peloponnesus in a merchant-vessel,[350] and now appeared at[p. 236] Sparta on special invitation and safe-conduct from the Lacedæmonians; of whom he was at first vehemently afraid, in consequence of having raised against them that Peloponnesian combination which had given them so much trouble before the battle of Mantineia. He now appeared, too, burning with hostility against his country, and eager to inflict upon her all the mischief in his power. Having been the chief evil genius to plunge her, mainly for selfish ends of his own, into this ill-starred venture, he was now about to do his best to turn it into her irreparable ruin. His fiery stimulus, and unmeasured exaggerations, supplied what was wanting in Corinthian and Syracusan eloquence, and inflamed the tardy good-will of the Spartan ephors into comparative decision and activity.[351] His harangue in the Spartan congress is given to us by Thucydidês, who may possibly have heard it, as he was then himself in exile. Like the earlier speech which he puts into the mouth of Alkibiadês at Athens, it is characteristic in a high degree; and interesting in another point of view as the latest composed speech of any length which we find in his history. I give here the substance, without professing to translate the words.

“First, I must address you, Lacedæmonians, respecting the prejudices current against me personally, before I can hope to find a fair hearing on public matters. You know it was I, who renewed my public connection with Sparta, after my ancestors before me had quarrelled with you and renounced it. Moreover, I assiduously cultivated your favor on all points, especially by attentions to your prisoners at Athens: but while I was showing all this zeal towards you, you took the opportunity of the peace which you made with Athens to employ my enemies as your agents, thus strengthening their hands, and dishonoring me. It was this conduct of yours which drove me to unite with the Argeians and Mantineians; nor ought you to be angry with me for mischief which you thus drew upon yourselves. Probably some of you hate me too, without any good reason, as a forward partisan of democracy. My family were always opposed to the Pei[p. 237]sistratid despots; and as all opposition to a reigning dynasty takes the name of The People, so from that time forward we continued to act as leaders of the people.[352] Moreover, our established constitution was a democracy, so that I had no choice but to obey, though I did my best to maintain a moderate line of political conduct in the midst of the reigning license. It was not my family, but others, who in former times as well as now, led the people into the worst courses, those same men who sent me into exile. I always acted as leader, not of a party, but of the entire city; thinking it right to uphold that constitution in which Athens had enjoyed her grandeur and freedom, and which I found already existing.[353] For as to democracy, all we Athenians of common sense well knew its real character. Personally, I have better reason than any one else to rail against it, if one could say anything new about such confessed folly; but I did not think it safe to change the government, while you were standing by as enemies.

“So much as to myself personally: I shall now talk to you about the business of the meeting, and tell you something more than you yet know. Our purpose in sailing from Athens, was, first to conquer the Sicilian Greeks; next, the Italian Greeks; afterwards, to make an attempt on the Carthaginian empire and on Carthage herself. If all or most of this succeeded, we were then to attack Peloponnesus. We intended to bring to this enterprise the entire power of the Sicilian and Italian Greeks, besides large numbers of Iberian and other warlike barbaric mer[p. 238]cenaries, together with many new triremes built from the abundant forests of Italy, and large supplies both of treasure and provision. We could thus blockade Peloponnesus all round with our fleet, and at the same time assail it with our land-force; and we calculated, by taking some towns by storm and occupying others as permanent fortified positions, that we should easily conquer the whole peninsula, and then become undisputed masters of Greece. You thus hear the whole scheme of our expedition from the man who knows it best; and you may depend on it that the remaining generals will execute all this, if they can. Nothing but your intervention can hinder them. If, indeed, the Sicilian Greeks were all united, they might hold out; but the Syracusans standing alone cannot, beaten as they already have been in a general action, and blocked up as they are by sea. If Syracuse falls into the hands of the Athenians, all Sicily and all Italy will share the same fate; and the danger which I have described will be soon upon you.

“It is not therefore simply for the safety of Sicily,—it is for the safety of Peloponnesus,—that I now urge you to send across, forthwith, a fleet with an army of hoplites as rowers; and what I consider still more important than an army, a Spartan general to take the supreme command. Moreover, you must also carry on declared and vigorous war against Athens here, that the Syracusans may be encouraged to hold out, and that Athens may be in no condition to send additional reinforcements thither. You must farther fortify and permanently garrison Dekeleia in Attica:[354] that is the contingency which the Athenians have always been most afraid of, and which therefore you may know to be your best policy. You will thus get into your own hands the live and dead stock of Attica, interrupt the working of the silver mines at Laureion, deprive the Athenians of their profits from judicial fines as well as of their landed revenue, and dispose the subject-allies to withhold their tribute.

“None of you ought to think the worse of me because I make this vigorous onset upon my country in conjunction with her[p. 239] enemies, I who once passed for a patriot.[355] Nor ought you to mistrust my assurances, as coming from the reckless passion of an exile. The worst enemies of Athens are not those who make open war like you, but those who drive her best friends into hostility. I loved my country,[356] while I was secure as a citizen; I love her no more, now that I am wronged. In fact, I do not conceive myself to be assailing a country still mine; I am rather trying to win back a country now lost to me. The real patriot is not he, who, having unjustly lost his country, acquiesces in patience, but he whose ardor makes him try every means to regain her.

“Employ me without fear, Lacedæmonians, in any service of danger or suffering; the more harm I did you formerly as an enemy, the more good I can now do you as a friend. But above all, do not shrink back from instant operations both in Sicily and in Attica, upon which so much depends. You will thus put down the power of Athens, present as well as future; you will dwell yourselves in safety; and you will become the leaders of undivided Hellas, by free consent and without force.”[357]

Enormous consequences turned upon this speech, no less masterly in reference to the purpose and the audience, than infamous as an indication of the character of the speaker. If its contents became known at Athens, as they probably did, the enemies of Alkibiadês would be supplied with a justification of their most violent political attacks. That imputation which they had taken so much pains to fasten upon him, citing in proof of it alike his profligate expenditure, overbearing insolence, and derision of the religious ceremonies of the state,[358]—that he detested the democracy in his heart, submitted to it only from necessity, and was watching for the first safe opportunity of subverting it,—appears here in his own language as matter of avowal and[p. 240] boast. The sentence of condemnation against him would now be unanimously approved, even by those who at the time had deprecated it; and the people would be more firmly persuaded than before of the reality of the association between irreligious manifestations and treasonable designs. Doubtless the inferences so drawn from the speech would be unsound, because it represented, not the actual past sentiments of Alkibiadês, but those to which he now found it convenient to lay claim. As far as so very selfish a politician could be said to have any preference, democracy was, in some respects, more convenient to him than oligarchy. Though offensive to his taste, it held out larger prospects to his love of show, his adventurous ambition, and his rapacity for foreign plunder; while under an oligarchy, the jealous restraints and repulses imposed on him by a few equals, would be perhaps more galling to his temper than those arising from the whole people.[359] He takes credit in his speech for moderation, as opposed to the standing license of democracy. But this is a pretence absurd even to extravagance, and which Athenians of all parties would have listened to with astonishment. Such license as that of Alkibiadês had never been seen at Athens; and it was the adventurous instincts of the democracy towards foreign conquest, combined with their imperfect apprehension of the limits and conditions under which alone their empire could be permanently maintained, which he stimulated up to the highest point, and then made use of for his own power and profit. As against himself, he had reason for accusing his political enemies of unworthy manœuvres, and even of gross political wickedness, if they were authors or accomplices—as seems probable of some—in the mutilation of the Hermæ. But most certainly, their public advice to the commonwealth was far less mischievous than his. And if we are to strike the balance of personal political merit between Alkibiadês and his enemies, we must take into the comparison his fraud upon the simplicity of the Lacedæmonian envoys, recounted in the last chapter but one of this History.

If, then, that portion of the speech of Alkibiadês, wherein he[p. 241] touches upon Athenian politics and his own past conduct, is not to be taken as historical evidence, just as little can we trust the following portion in which he professes to describe the real purposes of Athens in her Sicilian expedition. That any such vast designs as those which he announces were ever really contemplated even by himself and his immediate friends, is very improbable; that they were contemplated by the Athenian public, by the armament, or by Nikias, is utterly incredible. The tardiness and timid movements of the armament—during the first eight months after arriving at Rhegium—recommended by Nikias, partially admitted even by Alkibiadês, opposed only by the unavailing wisdom of Lamachus, and not strongly censured when known at Athens, conspire to prove that their minds were not at first fully made up even to the siege of Syracuse; that they counted on alliances and money in Sicily which they did not find; and that those who sailed from Athens with large hopes of brilliant and easy conquest were soon taught to see the reality with different eyes. If Alkibiadês had himself conceived at Athens the designs which he professed to reveal in his speech at Sparta, there can be no doubt that he would have espoused the scheme of Lamachus, or rather would have originated it himself. We find him, indeed, in his speech delivered at Athens before the determination to sail, holding out hopes that by means of conquests in Sicily, Athens might become mistress of all Greece. But this is there put as an alternative and as a favorable possibility, is noticed only in one place, without expansion or amplification, and shows that the speaker did not reckon upon finding any such expectations prevalent among his hearers. Alkibiadês could not have ventured to promise, in his discourse at Athens, the results which he afterwards talked of at Sparta as having been actually contemplated,—Sicily, Italy, Carthage, Iberian mercenaries, etc., all ending in a blockading fleet large enough to gird round Peloponnesus.[360] Had he put forth such promises, the charge of juvenile folly which Nikias urged against him would probably have been believed by every one. His speech at Sparta, though it has passed with some as a fragment of true Grecian[p. 242] history, is in truth little better than a gigantic romance dressed up to alarm his audience.[361]

Intended for this purpose, it was eminently suitable and effective. The Lacedæmonians had already been partly moved by the representations from Corinth and Syracuse, and were even prepared to send envoys to the latter place with encouragement to hold out against Athens. But the Peace of Nikias and the alliance succeeding it, still subsisted between Athens and Sparta. It had indeed been partially and indirectly violated in many ways, but both the contracting parties still considered it as subsisting, nor would either of them yet consent to break their oaths openly and avowedly. For this reason—as well as from the distance of Sicily, great even in the estimation of the more nautical Athenians—the ephors could not yet make up their minds to despatch thither any positive aid. It was exactly in this point of hesitation between the will and the deed that the energetic and vindictive exile from Athens found them. His flaming picture of the danger impending,—brought home to their own doors, and appearing to proceed from the best informed of all witnesses,—overcame their reluctance at once; while he at the same time pointed out the precise steps whereby their interference would be rendered of most avail. The transfer of Alkibiadês to Sparta thus reverses the superiority of force between the two contending chiefs of Greece: “Momentumque fuit mutatus Curio rerum.”[362] He had not yet shown his power of doing his country good, as we shall find him hereafter engaged, during the later years of the war: his first achievements were but too successful in doing her harm.

The Lacedæmonians forthwith resolved to send an auxiliary force to Syracuse. But as this could not be done before the spring, they nominated Gylippus commander, directing him to proceed thither without delay, and to take counsel with the Corinthians for operations as speedily as the case admitted.[363] We do not know that Gylippus had as yet given any positive evidence of that consummate skill and activity which we shall presently be called upon to describe. He was probably chosen on account[p. 243] of his superior acquaintance with the circumstances of the Italian and Sicilian Greeks; since his father Kleandridas, after having been banished from Sparta fourteen years before the Peloponnesian war for taking Athenian bribes, had been domiciliated as a citizen at Thurii.[364] Gylippus desired the Corinthians to send immediately two triremes for him to Asinê, in the Messenian gulf, and to prepare as many others as their docks could furnish.


CHAPTER LIX.
FROM THE COMMENCEMENT OF THE SIEGE OF SYRACUSE BY NIKIAS, DOWN TO THE SECOND ATHENIAN EXPEDITION UNDER DEMOSTHENES, AND THE RESUMPTION OF THE GENERAL WAR.

The Athenian troops at Katana, probably tired of inaction, were put in motion in the early spring, even before the arrival of the reinforcements from Athens, and sailed to the deserted walls of Megara, not far from Syracuse, which the Syracusans had recently garrisoned. Having in vain attacked the Syracusan garrison, and laid waste the neighboring fields, they reëmbarked, landed again for similar purposes at the mouth of the river Terias, and then, after an insignificant skirmish, returned to Katana. An expedition into the interior of the island procured for them the alliance of the Sikel town of Kentoripa; and the cavalry being now arrived from Athens, they prepared for operations against Syracuse. Nikias had received from Athens two hundred and fifty horsemen fully equipped, for whom horses were to be procured in Sicily,[365] thirty horse-bowmen, and three[p. 244] hundred talents in money. He was not long in furnishing them with horses from Egesta and Katana, from which cities he also received some farther cavalry, so that he was presently able to muster six hundred and fifty cavalry in all.[366]

Even before this cavalry could be mounted, Nikias made his first approach to Syracuse. For the Syracusan generals on their side, apprized of the arrival of the reinforcement from Athens, and aware that besieging operations were on the point of being commenced, now thought it necessary to take the precaution of occupying and guarding the roads of access to the high ground of Epipolæ which overhung their outer city.

Syracuse consisted at this time of two parts, an inner and outer city. The former was comprised in the island of Ortygia, the original settlement founded by Archias, and within which the modern city is at this moment included: the latter or outer city, afterwards known by the name of Achradina, occupied the high ground of the peninsula north of Ortygia, but does not seem to have joined the inner city, or to have been comprised in the same fortification. This outer city was defended, on the north and east, by the sea, with rocks presenting great difficulties of landing, and by a sea-wall; so that on these sides it was out of the reach of attack. Its wall on the land-side, beginning from the sea somewhat eastward of the entrance of the cleft now called Santa Bonagia, or Panagia, ran in a direction westward of south as far as the termination of the high ground of Achradina, and then turned eastward along the stone quarries now known as those of the Capucins and Novanteris, where the ground is in part so steep, that probably little fortification was needed. This fortified high land of Achradina thus constituted the outer city; while the lower ground, situated between it and the inner city, or Ortygia, seems at this time not to have been included in the fortifications of either, but was employed (and probably had been employed even from the first settlement in the island), partly for religious processions, games, and other multitudinous ceremonies; partly for the burial of the dead, which, according to invariable Grecian custom, was performed without the walls of the city. Extensive catacombs yet remain to mark the length of time during which this ancient Nekropolis served its purpose.

[p. 245]

To the northwest of the outer city wall, in the direction of the port called Trogilus, stood an unfortified suburb which afterwards became enlarged into the distinct walled town of Tychê. West of the southern part of the same outer city wall, nearly southwest of the outer city itself, stood another suburb, afterwards known and fortified as Neapolis, but deriving its name, in the year 415 B.C., from having within it the statue and consecrated ground of Apollo Temenitês,[367] which stood a little way up on the ascent of the hill of Epipolæ, and stretching from thence down southward in the direction of the Great Harbor. Between these two suburbs lay a broad open space, the ground rising in gradual acclivity from Achradina to the westward, and diminishing in breadth as it rose higher, until at length it ended in a small conical mound, called in modern times the Belvedere. This acclivity formed the eastern ascent of the long ridge of high ground called Epipolæ. It was a triangle upon an inclined plane, of which Achradina was the base: to the north as well as to the south, it was suddenly broken off by lines of limestone cliff (forming the sides of the triangle), about fifteen or twenty feet high, and quite precipitous, except in some few openings made for convenient ascent. From the western point or apex of the triangle, the descent was easy and gradual—excepting two or three special mounds, or cliffs—towards the city, the interior of which was visible from this outer slope.

According to the warfare of that time, Nikias could only take Syracuse by building a wall of circumvallation so as to cut off its supplies by land, and at the same time blockading it by sea. Now looking at the inner and outer city as above described, at the moment when he first reached Sicily, we see that—after defeating the Syracusans and driving them within their walls, which would be of course the first part of the process—he might have carried his blockading wall in a direction nearly southerly from the innermost point of the cleft of Santa Bonagia, between the city wall and the Temenitês so as to reach the[p. 246] Great Harbor at a spot not far westward of the junction of Ortygia with the main land. Or he might have landed in the Great Harbor, and executed the same wall, beginning from the opposite end. Or he might have preferred to construct two blockading walls, one for each city separately: a short wall would have sufficed in front of the isthmus joining Ortygia, while a separate wall might have been carried to shut up the outer city, across the unfortified space constituting the Nekropolis, so as to end not in the Great Harbor, but in the coast of the Nekropolis opposite to Ortygia. Such were the possibilities of the case at the time when Nikias first reached Rhegium. But during the many months of inaction which he had allowed, the Syracusans had barred out both these possibilities, and had greatly augmented the difficulties of his intended enterprise. They had constructed a new wall, covering both their inner and their outer city,—stretching across the whole front which faced the slope of Epipolæ, from the Great Harbor to the opposite sea near Santa Bonagia,—and expanding westward so as to include within it the statue and consecrated ground of Apollo Temenitês, with the cliff near adjoining to it known by the name of the Temenite Cliff. This was done for the express purpose of lengthening the line indispensable for the besiegers to make their wall a good blockade.[368] After it was finished, Nikias could not begin his blockade from the side of the Great Harbor, since he would have been obstructed by the precipitous southern cliff of Epipolæ. He was under the necessity of beginning his wall from a portion of the higher ground of Epipolæ, and of carrying it both along a greater space and higher up on the slope, until he touched the Great Harbor at a point farther removed from Ortygia.

Syracuse having thus become assailable only from the side of Epipolæ, the necessity so created for carrying on operations much higher up on the slope, gave to the summit of that eminence a greater importance than it had before possessed. Nikias, doubtless furnished with good local information by the exiles, seems to[p. 247] have made this discovery earlier than the Syracusan generals, who—having been occupied in augmenting their defences on another point, where they were yet more vulnerable—did not make it until immediately before the opening of the spring campaign. It was at that critical moment that they proclaimed a full muster, for break of day, in the low mead on the left bank of the Anapus. After an inspection of arms, and probably final distribution of forces for the approaching struggle, a chosen regiment of six hundred hoplites was placed under the orders of an Andrian exile named Diomilus, in order to act as garrison of Epipolæ, as well as to be in constant readiness wherever they might be wanted.[369] These men were intended to occupy the strong ground on the summit of the hill, and thus obstruct all the various approaches to it, seemingly not many in number, and all narrow.

But before they had yet left their muster, to march to the summit, intelligence reached them that the Athenians were already in possession of it. Nikias and Lamachus, putting their troops on board at Katana, had sailed during the preceding night to a landing-place not far from a place called Leon, or the Lion, which was only six or seven furlongs from Epipolæ, and seems to have lain between Megara and the peninsula of Thapsus. They here landed their hoplites, and placed their fleet in safety under cover of a palisade across the narrow isthmus of Thapsus, before day and before the Syracusans had any intimation of their arrival. Their hoplites immediately moved forward with rapid step to ascend Epipolæ, mounting seemingly from the northeast, by the side towards Megara and farthest removed from Syracuse; so that they first reached the summit called Euryalus, near the apex of the triangle above described. From hence they commanded the slope of Epipolæ beneath them, and the town of Syracuse to the eastward. They were presently attacked by the Syracusans, who broke up their muster in the mead as soon as they heard the news. But as the road by which they had to march, approaching Euryalus from the southwest, was circuitous, and hardly less than three English miles in length, they had the mortification of seeing that the Athenians were already masters of the position; and when they hastened up to retake it, the rapid pace had so[p. 248] disordered their ranks, that the Athenians attacked them at great advantage, besides having the higher ground. The Syracusans were driven back to their city with loss, Diomilus with half his regiment being slain; while the Athenians remained masters of the high ground of Euryalus, as well as of the upper portion of the slope of Epipolæ.[370]

This was a most important advantage; indeed, seemingly essential to the successful prosecution of the siege. It was gained by a plan both well laid and well executed, grounded upon the omission of the Syracusans to occupy a post of which they did not at first perceive the importance, and which in fact only acquired its preëminent importance from the new enlargement made by the Syracusans in their fortifications. To that extent, therefore, it depended upon a favorable accident which could not have been reasonably expected to occur. The capture of Syracuse was certain, upon the supposition that the attack and siege of the city had been commenced on the first arrival of the Athenians in the island, without giving time for any improvement in its defensibility. But the moment such delay was allowed, success ceased to be certain, depending more or less upon this favorable turn of accident. The Syracusans actually did a great deal to create additional difficulty to the besiegers, and might have done more, especially in regard to the occupation of the high ground above Epipolæ. Had they taken this precaution, the effective prosecution of the siege would have been rendered extremely difficult, if not completely frustrated.

On the next morning, Nikias and Lamachus marched their army down the slope of Epipolæ near to the Syracusan walls, and offered battle, which the enemy did not accept. They then withdrew the Athenian troops; after which their first operation was to construct a fort on the high ground called Labdalum, near the western end of the upper northern cliffs bordering Epipolæ, on the brink of the cliff, and looking northward towards Megara. This was intended as a place of security wherein both treasures and stores might be deposited, so as to leave the army unencumbered in its motions. The Athenian cavalry being now completed by the new arrivals from Egesta, Nikias descended from Labda[p. 249]lum to a new position called Sykê, lower down on Epipolæ, seemingly about midway between the northern and southern cliffs. He here constructed, with as much rapidity as possible, a walled inclosure, called the Circle, intended as a centre from whence the projected wall of circumvallation was to start northward towards the sea at Trogilus, southward towards the Great Harbor. This Circle appears to have covered a considerable space, and was farther protected by an outwork in front covering an area of one thousand square feet.[371] Astounded at the rapidity with which the Athenians executed this construction,[372] the Syracusans marched their forces out, and prepared to give battle in order to interrupt it. But when the Athenians, relinquishing the work, drew up on their side in battle order, the Syracusan generals were so struck with their manifest superiority in soldier-like array, as compared with the disorderly trim of their own ranks, that they withdrew their soldiers back into the city without venturing to engage; merely leaving a body of horse to harass the operations of the besiegers, and constrain them to keep in masses. The newly-acquired Athenian cavalry, however, were here brought for the first time into effective combat. With the aid of one tribe of their own hoplites, they charged the Syracusan horse, drove them off with some loss, and erected their trophy. This is the only occasion on which we read of the Athenian cavalry being brought into conflict; though Nikias had made the absence of cavalry the great reason for his prolonged inaction.

Interruption being thus checked, Nikias continued his blockading operations; first completing the Circle,[373] then beginning[p. 250] his wall of circumvallation in a northerly direction from the Circle towards Trogilus: for which purpose a portion of his forces were employed in bringing stones and wood, and depositing them in proper places along the intended line. So strongly did Hermokratês feel the inferiority of the Syracusan hoplites in the field, that he discouraged any fresh general action, and proposed to construct a counter-wall, or cross-wall, traversing the space along which the Athenian circumvallation must necessarily be continued so as to impede its farther progress. A tenable counter-wall, if they could get time to carry it sufficiently far to a defensible terminus, would completely defeat the intent of the besiegers: but even if Nikias should interrupt the work by his attacks, the Syracusans calculated on being able to provide a sufficient force to repel them, during the short time necessary for hastily constructing the palisade, or front outwork. Such palisade would serve them as a temporary defence, while they finished the more elaborate cross-wall behind it, and would, even at the worst, compel Nikias to suspend all his proceedings and employ his whole force to dislodge them.[374]

[p. 251]

Accordingly, they took their start from the postern-gate near the grove of Apollo Temenitês; a gate in the new wall, erected four or five months before, to enlarge the fortified space of the city. From this point, which was lower down on the slope of Epipolæ than the Athenian circle, they carried their palisade and counter-wall up the slope, in a direction calculated to intersect the intended line of hostile circumvallation southward of the Circle. The nautical population from Ortygia could be employed in this enterprise, since the city was still completely undisturbed by sea, and mistress of the great harbor, the Athenian fleet not having yet moved from Thapsus. Besides this active crowd of workmen, the sacred olive-trees in the Temenite grove were cut down to serve as materials; and by such efforts the work was presently finished to a sufficient distance for traversing and intercepting the blockading wall intended to come southward from the Circle. It seems to have terminated at the brink of the precipitous southern cliff of Epipolæ, which prevented the Athenians from turning it and attacking it in flank; while it was defended in front by a stockade and topped with wooden towers for discharge of missiles. One tribe of hoplites was left to defend it, while the crowd of Syracusans who had either been employed on the work or on guard, returned back to the city.

During all this process, Nikias had not thought it prudent to interrupt them.[375] Employed as he seems to have been on the Circle, and on the wall branching out from his Circle northward, he was unwilling to march across the slope of Epipolæ to attack them with half his forces, leaving his own rear exposed to attack from the numerous Syracusans in the city, and his own Circle[p. 252] only partially guarded. Moreover, by such delay, he was enabled to prosecute his own part of the circumvallation without hindrance, and to watch for an opportunity of assaulting the new counter-wall with advantage. Such an opportunity soon occurred, just at the time when he had accomplished the farther important object of destroying the aqueducts, which supplied the city, partially at least, with water for drinking. The Syracusans appear to have been filled with confidence, both by the completion of their counter-wall, which seemed an effective bar to the besiegers, and by his inaction. The tribe left on guard presently began to relax in their vigilance: instead of occupying the wall, tents were erected behind it to shelter them from the midday sun; while some even permitted themselves to take repose during that hour within the city walls. Such negligence did not escape the Athenian generals, who silently prepared an assault for midday. Three hundred chosen hoplites, with some light troops clothed in panoplies for the occasion, were instructed to sally out suddenly and run across straight to attack the stockade and counter-wall; while the main Athenian force marched in two divisions under Nikias and Lamachus; half towards the city walls, to prevent any succor from coming out of the gates, half towards the Temenite postern-gate from whence the stockade and cross-wall commenced. The rapid forward movement of the chosen three hundred was crowned with full success. They captured both the stockade and the counter-wall, feebly defended by its guards; who, taken by surprise, abandoned their post and fled along behind their wall to enter the city by the Temenite postern-gate. Before all of them could get in, however, both the pursuing three hundred, and the Athenian division which marched straight to that point, had partially come up with them: so that some of these assailants even forced their way along with them through the gate into the interior of the Temenite city wall. Here, however, the Syracusan strength within was too much for them: these foremost Athenians and Argeians were thrust out again with loss. But the general movement of the Athenians had been completely triumphant. They pulled down the counter-wall, plucked up the palisade, and carried the materials away for the use of their own circumvallation.

As the recent Syracusan counter-work had been carried to the[p. 253] brink of the southern cliff, which rendered it unassailable in flank, Nikias was warned of the necessity of becoming master of this cliff, so as to deprive them of this resource in future. Accordingly, without staying to finish his blockading wall, regularly and continuously from the Circle southward, across the slope of Epipolæ, he left the Circle under a guard, and marched across at once to take possession of the southern cliff, at the point where the blockading wall was intended to reach it. This point of the southern cliff he immediately fortified as a defensive position, whereby he accomplished two objects. First, he prevented the Syracusans from again employing the cliff as a flank defence for a second counter-wall.[376] Next, he acquired the means of providing a safe and easy road of communication between the high ground of Epipolæ and the low marshy ground beneath, which divided Epipolæ from the Great Harbor, and across which the Athenian wall of circumvallation must necessarily be presently[p. 254] carried. As his troops would have to carry on simultaneous operations, partly on the high ground above, partly on the low ground beneath, he could not allow them to be separated from each other by a precipitous cliff which would prevent ready mutual assistance. The intermediate space between the Circle and the fortified point of the cliff, was for the time left with an unfinished wall, with the intention of coming back to it, as was in fact afterwards done, and this portion of wall was in the end completed. The Circle, though isolated, was strong enough for the time to maintain itself against attack, and was adequately garrisoned.

By this new movement, the Syracusans were debarred from carrying a second counter-wall on the same side of Epipolæ, since the enemy were masters of the terminating cliff on the southern side of the slope. They now turned their operations to the lower ground or marsh between the southern cliff of the Epipolæ and the Great Harbor; being as yet free on that side, since the Athenian fleet was still at Thapsus. Across that marsh—and seemingly as far as the river Anapus, to serve as a flank barrier—they resolved to carry a palisade work with a ditch, so as to intersect the line which the Athenians must next pursue in completing the southernmost portion of their circumvallation. They so pressed the prosecution of this new cross palisade, beginning from the lower portion of their own city walls, and stretching in a southwesterly direction across the low ground as far as the river Anapus, that, by the time the new Athenian fortification on the cliff was completed, the new Syracusan obstacle was completed also, and a stockade with a ditch seemed to shut out the besiegers from reaching the Great Harbor.

Lamachus overcame the difficulty before him with ability and bravery. Descending unexpectedly, one morning before daybreak, from his fort on the cliff of Epipolæ into the low ground beneath,—and providing his troops with planks and broad gates to bridge over the marsh where it was scarcely passable,—he contrived to reach and surprise the palisade with the first dawn of morning. Orders were at the same time given for the Athenian fleet to sail round from Thapsus into the Great Harbor, so as to divert the attention of the enemy, and get on the rear of the new palisade work. But before the fleet could arrive, the[p. 255] palisade and ditch had been carried, and its defenders driven off. A large Syracusan force came out from the city to sustain them, and retake it, so that a general action now ensued, in the low ground between the cliff of Epipolæ, the harbor, and the river Anapus. The superior discipline of the Athenians proved successful: the Syracusans were defeated and driven back on all sides, so that their right wing fled into the city, and their left (including the larger portion of their best force, the horsemen), along the banks of the river Anapus, to reach the bridge. Flushed with victory, the Athenians hoped to cut them off from this retreat, and a chosen body of three hundred hoplites ran fast in hopes of getting to the bridge first. In this hasty movement they fell into disorder, so that the Syracusan cavalry turned upon them, put them to flight, and threw them back upon the Athenian right wing, to which the fugitives communicated their own panic and disorder. The fate of the battle appeared to be turning against the Athenians, when Lamachus, who was on the left wing, hastened to their aid with the Argeian hoplites and as many bowmen as he could collect. His ardor carried him incautiously forward, so that he crossed a ditch with very few followers, before the remaining troops could follow him. He was here attacked and slain,[377] in single combat with a horseman named Kallikratês: but the Syracusans were driven back when his soldiers came up, and had only just time to snatch and carry off his dead body, with which they crossed the bridge and retreated behind the Anapus. The rapid movement of this gallant officer was thus crowned with complete success, restoring the victory to his own right wing: a victory dearly purchased by the forfeit of his own life.[378]

Meanwhile the visible disorder and temporary flight of the Athenian right wing, and the withdrawal of Lamachus from the left to reinforce it, imparted fresh courage to the Syracusan right, which had fled into the town. They again came forth to renew the contest; while their generals attempted a diversion by sending out a detachment from the northwestern gates of the city to attack the Athenian circle on the mid-slope of Epipolæ. As this[p. 256] Circle lay completely apart and at considerable distance from the battle, they hoped to find the garrison unprepared for attack, and thus to carry it by surprise. Their manœuvre, bold and well-timed, was on the point of succeeding. They carried with little difficulty the covering outwork in front, and the Circle itself, probably stripped of part of its garrison to reinforce the combatants in the lower ground, was only saved by the presence of mind and resource of Nikias, who was lying ill within it. He directed the attendants immediately to set fire to a quantity of wood which lay, together with the battering engines of the army, in front of the circle-wall, so that the flames prevented all farther advance on the part of the assailants, and forced them to retreat. The same flames also served as a signal to the Athenians engaged in the battle beneath, who immediately sent reinforcements to the relief of their general; while at the same time the Athenian fleet, just arrived from Thapsus, was seen sailing into the Great Harbor. This last event, threatening the Syracusans on a new side, drew off their whole attention to the defence of their city, so that both their combatants from the field and their detachment from the Circle were brought back within the walls.[379]

Had the recent attempt on the Circle succeeded, carrying with it the death or capture of Nikias, and combined with the death of Lamachus in the field on that same day, it would have greatly brightened the prospects of the Syracusans, and might even have arrested the farther progress of the siege, from the want of an authorized commander. But in spite of such imminent hazard, the actual result of the day left the Athenians completely victorious, and the Syracusans more discouraged than ever. What materially contributed to their discouragement, was, the recent entrance of the Athenian fleet into the Great Harbor, wherein it was henceforward permanently established, in coöperation with the army in a station near the left bank of the Anapus.

Both the army and the fleet now began to occupy themselves seriously with the construction of the southernmost part of the wall of circumvallation; beginning immediately below the Athenian fortified point of descent from the southern cliff of Epipolæ,[p. 257] and stretching across the lower marshy ground to the Great Harbor. The distance between these two extreme points was about eight stadia or nearly an English mile: the wall was double, with gates, and probably towers, at suitable intervals, inclosing a space of considerable breadth, doubtless roofed over in part, since it served afterwards, with the help of the adjoining citadel on the cliff, as shelter and defence for the whole Athenian army. The Syracusans could not interrupt this process, nor could they undertake a new counter-wall up the mid-slope of Epipolæ, without coming out to fight a general battle, which they did not feel competent to do. Of course the Circle had now been put into condition to defy a second surprise.

But not only were they thus compelled to look on without hindering the blockading wall towards the Harbor. It was now, for the first time, that they began to taste the real restraints and privations of a siege.[380] Down to this moment, their communication with the Anapus and the country beyond, as well as with all sides of the Great Harbor, had been open and unimpeded; whereas now, the arrival of the Athenian fleet, and the change of position of the Athenian army, had cut them off from both,[381] so that little or no fresh supplies of provision could reach them except at the hazard of capture from the hostile ships. On the side of Thapsus, where the northern cliff of Epipolæ affords only two or three practicable passages of ascent, they had before been blocked up by the Athenian army and fleet; and a portion of the fleet seems even now to have been left at Thapsus: so that nothing now remained open, except a portion, especially the northern portion, of the slope of Epipolæ. Of this outlet the besieged, especially their numerous cavalry, doubtless availed themselves, for the purpose of excursions and of bringing in supplies. But it was both longer and more circuitous for such purposes than the plain near the Great Harbor and the Helôrine road: moreover, it had[p. 258] to pass by the high and narrow pass of Euryâlus, and might thus be rendered unavailable to the besieged, whenever Nikias thought fit to occupy and fortify that position. Unfortunately for himself and his army, he omitted this easy but capital precaution, even at the moment when he must have known Gylippus to be approaching.

In regard to the works actually undertaken, the order followed by Nikias and Lamachus can be satisfactorily explained. Having established their fortified post on the centre of the slope of Epipolæ, they were in condition to combat opposition and attack any counter-wall on whichever side the enemy might erect it. Commencing in the first place the execution of the northern portion of the blockading line, they soon desist from this and turn their attention to the southern portion, because it was here that the Syracusans carried their two first counter-works. In attacking the second counter-work of the Syracusans, across the marsh to the Anapus, they chose a suitable moment for bringing the main fleet round from Thapsus into the Great Harbor, with a view to its coöperation. After clearing the lower ground, they probably deemed it advisable, in order to establish a safe and easy communication with their fleet, that the double wall across the marsh, from Epipolæ to the Harbor, should stand next for execution; for which there was this farther reason, that they thereby blocked up the most convenient exit and channel of supply for Syracuse. There are thus plausible reasons assignable why the northern portion of the line of blockade, from the Athenian camp on Epipolæ to the sea at Trogilus, was left to the last, and was found open, at least the greater part of it, by Gylippus.

While the Syracusans thus began to despair of their situation, the prospects of the Athenians were better than ever, promising certain and not very distant triumph. The reports circulating through the neighboring cities all represented them as in the full tide of success, so that many Sikel tribes, hitherto wavering, came in to tender their alliance, while three armed pentekonters also arrived from the Tyrrhenian coast. Moreover, abundant supplies were furnished from the Italian Greeks generally. Nikias, now sole commander since the death of Lamachus, had even the glory of receiving and discussing proposals from Syracuse for capitulation, a necessity which was openly and abundantly canvassed[p. 259] within the city itself. The ill-success of Hermokratês and his colleagues had caused them to be recently displaced from their functions as generals, to which Herakleidês, Euklês, and Tellias, were appointed. But this change did not give them confidence to hazard a fresh battle, while the temper of the city, during such period of forced inaction, was melancholy in the extreme. Though several propositions for surrender, perhaps unofficial, yet seemingly sincere, were made to Nikias, nothing definitive could be agreed upon as to the terms.[382] Had the Syracusan government been oligarchical, the present distress would have exhibited a large body of malcontents upon whom he could have worked with advantage; but the democratical character of the government maintained union at home in this trying emergency.[383]

We must take particular note of these propositions in order to understand the conduct of Nikias during the present critical interval. He had been from the beginning in secret correspondence with a party in Syracuse;[384] who, though neither numerous nor powerful in themselves, were now doubtless both more active and more influential than ever they had been before. From them he received constant and not unreasonable assurances that the city was on the point of surrendering, and could not possibly hold out. And as the tone of opinion without, as well as within, conspired to raise such an impression in his mind, so he suffered himself to be betrayed into a fatal languor and security as to the farther prosecution of the besieging operations. The injurious consequences of the death of Lamachus now became evident. From the time of the departure from Katana down to the battle in which that gallant officer perished,—a period seemingly of about three months, from about March to June 414 B.C.,—the operations of the siege had been conducted with great vigor as well as unremitting perseverance, and the building-work, especially, had been so rapidly executed as to fill the Syracusans with amazement. But so soon as Nikias is left sole commander, this vigorous march disappears and is exchanged for slackness and apathy. The wall across the low ground near the harbor[p. 260] might have been expected to proceed more rapidly, because the Athenian position generally was much stronger, the chance of opposition from the Syracusans was much lessened, and the fleet had been brought into the Great Harbor to coöperate. Yet in fact it seems to have proceeded more slowly; Nikias builds it at first as a double wall, though it would have been practicable to complete the whole line of blockade with a single wall before the arrival of Gylippus, and afterwards, if necessary, to have doubled it either wholly or partially, instead of employing so much time in completing this one portion that Gylippus arrived before it was finished, scarcely less than two months after the death of Lamachus. Both the besiegers and their commander now seem to consider success as certain, without any chance of effective interruption from within, still less from without; so that they may take their time over the work, without caring whether the ultimate consummation comes a month sooner or later.

Though such was the present temper of the Athenian troops, Nikias could doubtless have spurred them on and accelerated the operations, had he himself been convinced of the necessity of doing so. Hitherto, we have seen him always overrating the gloomy contingencies of the future, and disposed to calculate as if the worst was to happen which possibly could happen. But a great part of what passes for caution in his character, was in fact backwardness and inertia of temperament, aggravated by the melancholy addition of a painful internal complaint. If he wasted in indolence the first six months after his arrival in Sicily, and turned to inadequate account the present two months of triumphant position before Syracuse, both these mistakes arose from the same cause; from reluctance to act except under the pressure and stimulus of some obvious necessity. Accordingly, he was always behindhand with events; but when necessity became terrible, so as to subdue the energies of other men, then did he come forward and display unwonted vigor, as we shall see in the following chapter. But now, relieved from all urgency of apparent danger, and misled by the delusive hopes held out through his correspondence in the town, combined with the atmosphere of success which exhilarated his own armament, Nikias fancied the surrender of Syracuse inevitable, and became, for one brief moment preceding his calamitous end, not merely[p. 261] sanguine, but even careless and presumptuous in the extreme. Nothing short of this presumption could have let in his destroying enemy, Gylippus.[385]

That officer—named by the Lacedæmonians commander in Sicily, at the winter-meeting which Alkibiadês had addressed at Sparta—had employed himself in getting together forces for the purpose of the expedition. But the Lacedæmonians, though so far stimulated by the representations of the Athenian exile as to promise aid, were not forward to perform the promise. Even the Corinthians, decidedly the most hearty of all in behalf of Syracuse, were yet so tardy, that in the month of June, Gylippus was still at Leukas, with his armament not quite ready to sail. To embark in a squadron for Sicily, against the numerous and excellent Athenian fleet now acting there, was a service not tempting to any one, and demanding both personal daring and devotion. Moreover, every vessel from Sicily, between March and June 414 B.C., brought intelligence of progressive success on the part of Nikias and Lamachus, thus rendering the prospects of Corinthian auxiliaries still more discouraging.

At length, in the month of June, arrived the news of that defeat of the Syracusans wherein Lamachus was slain, and of its important consequences in forwarding the operations of the besiegers. Great as those consequences were, they were still farther exaggerated by report. It was confidently affirmed, by messenger after messenger, that the wall of circumvallation had been completed, and that Syracuse was now invested on all sides.[386] Both Gylippus and the Corinthians were so far misled as to believe this to be the fact, and despaired, in consequence, of being able to render any effective aid against the Athenians in Sicily. But as there still remained hopes of being able to preserve the Greek cities in Italy, Gylippus thought it important to pass over thither at once with his own little squadron of four sail, two Lacedæ[p. 262]monians and two Corinthians, and the Corinthian captain Pythên; leaving the Corinthian main squadron to follow as soon as it was ready. Intending then to act only in Italy, Gylippus did not fear falling in with the Athenian fleet. He first sailed to Tarentum, friendly and warm in his cause. From hence he undertook a visit to Thurii, where his father Kleandridas, exiled from Sparta, had formerly resided as citizen. After trying to profit by this opening for the purpose of gaining the Thurians, and finding nothing but refusal, he passed on farther southward, until he came opposite to the Terinæan gulf near the southeastern cape of Italy. Here a violent gust of wind off the land overtook him, exposed his vessels to the greatest dangers, and drove him out to sea, until at length, standing in a northerly direction, he was fortunate enough to find shelter again at Tarentum.[387] But[p. 263] such was the damage which his ships had sustained, that he was forced to remain here while they were hauled ashore and refitted.[388]

So untoward a delay threatened to intercept altogether his farther progress. For the Thurians had sent intimation of his visit as well as of the number of his vessels, to Nikias at Syracuse; treating with contempt the idea of four triremes coming to attack the powerful Athenian fleet. In the present sanguine phase of his character, Nikias sympathized with the flattering tenor of the message, and overlooked the gravity of the fact announced. He despised Gylippus as a mere privateer, nor would he even take the precaution of sending four ships from his numerous fleet to watch and intercept the new-comer. Accordingly Gylippus, after having refitted his ships at Tarentum, advanced southward along the coast without opposition to the Epizephyrian Lokri. Here he first learned, to his great satisfaction, that Syracuse was not yet so completely blockaded but that an army might still reach and relieve it from the interior, entering it by the Euryâlus and the heights of Epipolæ. Having deliberated whether he should take the chance of running his ships into the harbor of Syracuse, despite the watch of the Athenian fleet, or whether he should sail through the strait of Messina to Himera at the north of Sicily, and from thence levy an army to cross the island and relieve Syracuse by land, he resolved on the latter course, and passed forthwith through the strait, which he found altogether unguarded. After touching both at Rhegium and Messênê, he arrived safely at Himera. Even at Rhegium, there was no Athenian naval force; though Nikias had, indeed, sent thither four Athenian triremes, after he had been apprized that Gylippus had reached Lokri, rather from excess of precaution, than because he thought it necessary. But this Athenian squadron reached Rhegium too late: Gylippus had already passed the strait; and fortune, smiting his enemy with blindness, landed him unopposed on the fatal soil of Sicily.

The blindness of Nikias would indeed appear unaccountable, were it not that we shall have worse yet to recount. To appreciate his misjudgment fully, and to be sensible that we are not[p. 264] making him responsible for results which could not have been foreseen, we have only to turn back to what had been said six months before by the exile Alkibiadês at Sparta: “Send forthwith an army to Sicily (he exhorted the Lacedæmonians); but send at the same time, what will be yet more valuable than an army, a Spartan to take the supreme command.” It was in fulfilment of this recommendation, the wisdom of which will abundantly appear, that Gylippus had been appointed. And had he even reached Syracuse alone in a fishing-boat, the effect of his presence, carrying the great name of Sparta, and full assurance of Spartan intervention to come, not to mention his great personal ability, would have sufficed to give new life to the besieged. Yet Nikias—having, through a lucky accident, timely notice of his approach, when a squadron of four ships would have prevented his reaching the island—disdains even this most easy precaution, and neglects him as a freebooter of no significance. Such neglect too is the more surprising, since the well-known philo-Laconian tendencies of Nikias would have led us to expect, that he would overvalue rather than undervalue the imposing ascendency of the Spartan name.

Gylippus, on arriving at Himera, as commander named by Sparta, and announcing himself as forerunner of Peloponnesian reinforcements, met with a hearty welcome. The Himeræans agreed to aid him with a body of hoplites, and to furnish panoplies for the seamen in his vessels. On sending to Selinus, Gela, and some of the Sikel tribes in the interior, he received equally favorable assurances; so that he was enabled in no very long time to get together a respectable force. The interest of Athens among the Sikels had been recently weakened by the death of one of her most active partisans, the Sikel prince Archonidês, a circumstance which both enabled Gylippus to obtain more of their aid, and facilitated his march across the island. He was enabled to undertake this inland march from Himera to Syracuse at the head of seven hundred hoplites from his own vessels, seamen and epibatæ taken together; one thousand hoplites and light troops, with one hundred horse, from Himera, some horse and light troops from Selinus and Gela, and one thousand Sikels.[389] With[p. 265] these forces, some of whom joined him on the march, he reached Euryâlus and the heights of Epipolæ above Syracuse, assaulting and capturing the Sikel fort of Ietæ in his way, but without experiencing any other opposition.

His arrival was all but too late, and might have been actually too late, had not the Corinthian admiral Goggylus got to Syracuse a little before him. The Corinthian fleet of twelve triremes, under Erasinidês—having started from Leukas later than Gylippus, but as soon as it was ready—was now on its way to Syracuse. But Goggylus had been detained at Leukas by some accident, so that he did not depart until after all the rest. Yet he reached Syracuse the soonest; probably striking a straighter course across the sea, and favored by weather. He got safely into the harbor of Syracuse, escaping the Athenian guardships, whose watch doubtless partook of the general negligence of the besieging operations.[390]

The arrival of Goggylus at that moment was an accident of unspeakable moment, and was in fact nothing less than the salvation of the city. Among all the causes of despair in the Syracusan mind, there was none more powerful than the circumstance, that they had not as yet heard of any relief approaching, or of any active intervention in their favor, from Peloponnesus. Their discouragement increasing from day to day, and the interchange of propositions with Nikias becoming more frequent, matters had at last so ripened that a public assembly was just about to be held to sanction a definitive capitulation.[391] It was at this critical juncture that Goggylus arrived, apparently a little before Gylippus reached Himera. He was the first to announce that both the Corinthian fleet and a Spartan commander were now actually on their voyage, and might be expected immediately, intelligence which filled the Syracusans with enthusiasm and with renewed courage. They instantly threw aside all idea of capitulation, and resolved to hold out to the last.

It was not long before they received intimation that Gylippus had reached Himera, which Goggylus at his arrival could not know, and was raising an army to march across for their relief.[p. 266] After the interval necessary for his preparations and for his march, probably not less than between a fortnight and three weeks, they learned that he was approaching Syracuse by the way of Euryâlus and Epipolæ. He was presently seen coming, having ascended Epipolæ by Euryâlus; the same way by which the Athenians had come from Katana in the spring, when they commenced the siege. As he descended the slope of Epipolæ, the whole Syracusan force went out in a body to hail his arrival and accompany him into the city.[392]

Few incidents throughout the whole siege of Syracuse appear so unaccountable as the fact, that the proceedings and march of Gylippus, from his landing at Himera to the moment of his entering the town, were accomplished without the smallest resistance on the part of Nikias. After this instant, the besiegers pass from incontestable superiority in the field, and apparent certainty of prospective capture of the city, to a state of inferiority, not only excluding all hope of capture, but even sinking, step by step, into absolute ruin. Yet Nikias had remained with his eyes shut and his hands tied, not making the least effort to obstruct so fatal a consummation. After having despised Gylippus, in his voyage along the coast of Italy, as a freebooter with four ships, he now despises him not less at the head of an army marching from Himera. If he was taken unawares, as he really appears to have been,[393] the fault was altogether his own, and the ignorance such as we must almost call voluntary. For the approach of Gylippus must have been well known to him beforehand. He must have learned from the four ships which he sent to Rhegium, that Gylippus had already touched thither in passing through the strait, on his way to Himera. He must therefore have been well aware, that the purpose was to attempt the relief of Syracuse by an army from the interior; and his correspondence among the Sikel tribes must have placed him in cognizance of the equipment going on at Himera. Moreover, when we recollect that Gylippus reached that place without either troops or arms; that he had to obtain forces not merely from Himera, but also from[p. 267] Selinus and Gela, as well as to sound the Sikel towns, not all of them friendly; lastly, that he had to march all across the island, partly through hostile territory, it is impossible to allow less interval than a fortnight or three weeks between his landing at Himera and his arrival at Epipolæ. Farther, Nikias must have learned, through his intelligence in the interior of Syracuse, the important revolution which had taken place in Syracusan opinion through the arrival of Goggylus, even before the landing of Gylippus in Sicily was known. He was apprized, from that moment, that he had to take measures, not only against renewed obstinate hostility within the town, but against a fresh invading enemy without. Lastly, that enemy had first to march all across Sicily, during which march he might have been embarrassed and perhaps defeated,[394] and could then approach Syracuse only by one road, over the high ground of Euryâlus in the Athenian rear, through passes few in number, easy to defend, by which Nikias had himself first approached, and through which he had only got by a well-laid plan of surprise. Yet Nikias leaves these passes unoccupied and undefended; he takes not a single new precaution; the relieving army enters Syracuse as it were over a broad and free plain.

If we are amazed at the insolent carelessness with which Nikias disdained the commonest precautions for repelling the foreknown approach, by sea, of an enemy formidable even single-handed, what are we to say of that unaccountable blindness which led him to neglect the same enemy when coming at the head of a relieving army, and to omit the most obvious means of defence in a crisis upon which his future fate turned? Homer would have designated such neglect as a temporary delirium inflicted by the fearful inspiration of Atê: the historian has no such explanatory name to give, and can only note it as a sad and suitable prelude to the calamities too nearly at hand.

At the moment when the fortunate Spartan auxiliary was thus[p. 268] allowed to march quietly into Syracuse, the Athenian double wall of circumvallation, between the southern cliff of Epipolæ and the Great Harbor, eight stadia long, was all but completed: a few yards only of the end close to the harbor were wanting. But Gylippus cared not to interrupt its completion. He aimed at higher objects, and he knew, what Nikias, unhappily, never felt and never lived to learn, the immense advantage of turning to active account that first impression and full tide of confidence which his arrival had just infused into the Syracusans. Hardly had he accomplished his junction with them, when he marshalled the united force in order of battle, and marched up to the lines of the Athenians. Amazed as they were, and struck dumb by his unexpected arrival, they too formed in battle order, and awaited his approach. His first proceeding marked how much the odds of the game were changed. He sent a herald to tender to them a five days’ armistice, on condition that they should collect their effects and withdraw from the island. Nikias disdained to return any reply to this insulting proposal; but his conduct showed how much he felt, as well as Gylippus, that the tide was now turned. For when the Spartan commander, perceiving now for the first time the disorderly trim of his Syracusan hoplites, thought fit to retreat into more open ground farther removed from the walls, probably in order that he might have a better field for his cavalry, Nikias declined to follow him, and remained in position close to his own fortifications.[395] This was tantamount to a confession of inferiority in the field. It was a virtual abandonment of the capture of Syracuse, a tacit admission that the Athenians could hope for nothing better in the end than the humiliating offer which the herald had just made to them. So it seems to have been felt by both parties; for from this time forward, the Syracusans become and continue aggressors, the Athenians remaining always on the defensive, except for one brief instant after the arrival of Demosthenês.

After drawing off his troops and keeping them encamped for that night on the Temenite cliff, seemingly within the added fortified inclosure of Syracuse, Gylippus brought them out again the next morning, and marshalled them in front of the Athenian[p. 269] lines, as if about to attack. But while the attention of the Athenians was thus engaged, he sent a detachment to surprise the fort of Labdalum, which was not within view of their lines. The enterprise was completely successful. The fort was taken, and the garrison put to the sword; while the Syracusans gained another unexpected advantage during the day, by the capture of one of the Athenian triremes which was watching their harbor. Gylippus pursued his successes actively, by immediately beginning the construction of a fresh counter-wall, from the outer city wall in a northwesterly direction aslant up the slope of Epipolæ; so as to traverse the intended line of the Athenian circumvallation on the north side of their Circle, and render blockade impossible. He availed himself, for this purpose, of stones laid by the Athenians for their own circumvallation, at the same time alarming them by threatening attack upon their lower wall, between the southern cliff of Epipolæ and the Great Harbor, which was now just finished, so as to leave their troops disposable for action on the higher ground. Against one part of the wall, which seemed weaker than the rest, he attempted a nocturnal surprise, but finding the Athenians in vigilant guard without, he was forced to retire. This part of the wall was now heightened, and the Athenians took charge of it themselves, distributing their allies along the remainder.[396]

These attacks, however, appear to have been chiefly intended as diversions, in order to hinder the enemy from obstructing the completion of the counter-wall. Now was the time for Nikias to adopt vigorous aggressive measures both against this wall and against the Syracusans in the field, unless he chose to relinquish all hope of ever being able to beleaguer Syracuse. And, indeed, he seems actually to have relinquished such hope, even thus early after he had seemed certain master of the city. For he now undertook a measure altogether new; highly important in itself, but indicating an altered scheme of policy. He resolved to fortify Cape Plemmyrium,—the rocky promontory which forms one extremity of the narrow entrance of the Great Harbor, immediately south of the point of Ortygia,—and to make it a secure main station for the fleet and stores. The fleet had been hitherto[p. 270] stationed in close neighborhood of the land-force, in a fortified position at the extremity of the double blockading wall between the southern cliff of Epipolæ and the Great Harbor. From such a station in the interior of the harbor, it was difficult for the Athenian triremes to perform the duties incumbent on them, of watching the two ports of Syracuse—one on each side of the isthmus which joins Ortygia to the mainland—so as to prevent any exit of ships from within, or ingress of ships from without, and of insuring the unobstructed admission by sea of supplies for their own army. For both these purposes, the station of Plemmyrium was far more convenient; and Nikias now saw that henceforward his operations would be for the most part maritime. Without confessing it openly, he thus practically acknowledged that the superiority of land-force had passed to the side of his opponents, and that a successful prosecution of the blockade had become impossible.[397]

Three forts, one of considerable size and two subsidiary, were erected on the seaboard of Cape Plemmyrium, which became the station for triremes as well as for ships of burden. Though the situation was found convenient for all naval operations, it entailed also serious disadvantages; being destitute of any spring of water, such as the memorable fountain of Arethusa on the opposite island of Ortygia. So that for supplies of water, and of wood also, the crews of the ships had to range a considerable distance, exposed to surprise from the numerous Syracusan cavalry placed in garrison at the temple of Zeus Olympius. Day after day, losses were sustained in this manner, besides the increased facilities given for desertion, which soon fatally diminished the efficiency of each ship’s crew. As the Athenian hopes of success now declined, both the slaves and the numerous foreigners who served in their navy became disposed to steal away. And though the ships of war, down to this time, had been scarcely at all engaged in actual warfare, yet they had been for many months continually at sea and on the watch, without any opportunity of hauling ashore to refit. Hence the naval force, now about to be called into action as the chief hope of the Athenians, was found lamentably degenerated from that ostentatious perfection[p. 271] in which it had set sail fifteen months before, from the harbor of Peiræus.

The erection of the new forts at Plemmyrium, while by withdrawing the Athenian forces it left Gylippus unopposed in the prosecution of his counter-wall, at the same time emboldened him by the manifest decline of hope which it implied. Day after day he brought out his Syracusans in battle-array, planting them near the Athenian lines; but the Athenians showed no disposition to attack. At length he took advantage of what he thought a favorable opportunity to make the attack himself; but the ground was so hemmed in by various walls—the Athenian fortified lines on one side, the Syracusan front or Temenitic fortification on another, and the counter-wall now in course of construction on a third—that his cavalry and darters had no space to act. Accordingly, the Syracusan hoplites, having to fight without these auxiliaries, were beaten and driven back with loss, the Corinthian Goggylus being among the slain.[398] On the next day, Gylippus had the prudence to take the blame of this defeat upon himself. It was all owing to his mistake, he publicly confessed, in having made choice of a confined space wherein neither cavalry nor darters could avail. He would presently give them another opportunity, in a fairer field, and he exhorted them to show their inbred superiority, as Dorians and Peloponnesians, by chasing these Ionians with their rabble of islanders out of Sicily. Accordingly, after no long time, he again brought them up in order of battle; taking care, however, to keep in the open space, beyond the extremity of the walls and fortifications.

On this occasion, Nikias did not decline the combat, but marched out into the open space to meet him. He probably felt encouraged by the result of the recent action; but there was a farther and more pressing motive. The counter-wall of intersection, which the Syracusans were constructing, was on the point of cutting the Athenian line of circumvallation, so that it was essential for Nikias to attack without delay, unless he formally abnegated all farther hope of successful siege. Nor could the army endure, in spite of altered fortune, irrevocably to shut themselves out from such hope, without one struggle more. Both armies were[p. 272] therefore ranged in battle order on the open space beyond the walls, higher up the slope of Epipolæ; Gylippus placing his cavalry and darters to the right of his line, on the highest and most open ground. In the midst of the action between the hoplites on both sides, these troops on the right charged the left flank of the Athenians with such vigor, that they completely broke it. The whole Athenian army underwent a thorough defeat, and only found shelter within its fortified lines. And in the course of the very next night, the Syracusan counter-wall was pushed so far as to traverse and get beyond the projected line of Athenian blockade, reaching presently as far as the edge of the northern cliff: so that Syracuse was now safe, unless the enemy should not only recover their superiority in the field, but also become strong enough to storm and carry the new-built wall.[399]

Farther defence was also obtained by the safe arrival of the Corinthian, Ambrakiotic, and Leukadian fleet of twelve triremes, under Erasinidês, which Nikias had vainly endeavored to intercept. He had sent twenty sail to the southern coast of Italy; but the new-comers had had the good luck to avoid them.

Erasinidês and his division lent their hands to the execution of a work which completed the scheme of defence for the city. Gylippus took the precaution of constructing a fort or redoubt on the high ground of Epipolæ, so as to command the approach to Syracuse from the high ground of Euryalus; a step which Hermokratês had not thought of until too late, and which Nikias had never thought of at all, during his period of triumph and mastery. He erected a new fort on a suitable point of the high ground, backed by three fortified positions or encampments at proper distances in the rear of it, intended for bodies of troops to support the advanced post in case it was attacked. A continuous wall was then carried from this advanced post down the slope of Epipolæ, so as to reach and join the counter-wall recently constructed; whereby this counter-wall, already traversing and cutting the Athenian line of circumvallation, became in fact prolonged up the whole slope of Epipolæ, and barred all direct access from the Athenians in their existing lines up to the summit of that eminence, as well as up to the northern cliff. The Syracusans had now one continuous and uninterrupted line of defence; a long[p. 273] single wall, resting at one extremity on the new-built fort upon the high ground of Epipolæ, at the other extremity, upon the city wall. This wall was only single; but it was defended, along its whole length, by the permanent detachments occupying the three several fortified positions or encampments just mentioned. One of these positions was occupied by native Syracusans; a second, by Sicilian Greeks; a third, by other allies. Such was the improved and systematic scheme of defence which the genius of Gylippus first projected, and which he brought to execution at the present moment:[400] a scheme, the full value of which will be appreciated when we come to describe the proceedings of the second Athenian armament under Demosthenês.

Not content with having placed the Syracusans out of the reach of danger, Gylippus took advantage of their renewed confidence to infuse into them projects of retaliation against the enemy who had brought them so near to ruin. They began to equip their ships in the harbor, and to put their seamen under training, in hopes of qualifying themselves to contend with the Athenians even on their own element; while Gylippus himself quitted the city to visit the various cities of the island, and to get together farther reinforcements, naval as well as military. And as it was foreseen that Nikias on his part would probably demand aid from Athens, envoys, Syracusan as well as Corinthian, were despatched to Peloponnesus, to urge the necessity of forwarding additional troops, even in merchant vessels, if no triremes could be spared to convey them.[401] Should no reinforcements reach the Athenian[p. 274] camp, the Syracusans well knew that its efficiency must diminish by every month’s delay, while their own strength, in spite of heavy cost and effort, was growing with their increased prospects of success.

If this double conviction was present to sustain, the ardor of the Syracusans, it was not less painfully felt amidst the Athenian camp, now blocked up like a besieged city, and enjoying no free movement except through their ships and their command of the sea. Nikias saw that if Gylippus should return with any considerable additional force, even the attack upon him by land would become too powerful to resist, besides the increasing disorganization of his fleet. He became fully convinced that to remain as they were was absolute ruin. As all possibility of prosecuting the siege of Syracuse successfully was now at an end, a sound judgment would have dictated that his position in the harbor had become useless as well as dangerous, and that the sooner it was evacuated the better. Probably Demosthenês would have acted thus, under similar circumstances; but such foresight and resolution were not in the character of Nikias, who was afraid, moreover, of the blame which it would bring down upon him at home, if not from his own army. Not venturing to quit his position without orders from Athens, he determined to send home thither an undisguised account of his critical position, and to solicit either reinforcements or instructions to return.

It was now, indeed, the end of September (B.C. 414), so that he could not even hope for an answer before midwinter, nor for reinforcements, if such were to be sent, until the ensuing spring was far advanced. Nevertheless, he determined to encounter this risk, and to trust to vigilant precautions for safety during the interval, precautions which, as the result will show, were within a hair’s breadth of proving insufficient. But as it was of the last importance to him to make his countrymen at home fully sensible of the grave danger of his position, he resolved to transmit a written despatch; not trusting to the oral statement of a messenger, who might be wanting either in courage, in presence of mind, or in competent expression, to impress the full and sad truth upon a reluctant audience.[402] Accordingly he sent home a despatch, which[p. 275] seems to have reached Athens about the end of November, and was read formally in the public assembly by the secretary of the city. Preserved by Thucydidês verbatim, it stands as one of the most interesting remnants of antiquity, and well deserves a literal translation.

“Our previous proceedings have been already made known to you, Athenians, in many other despatches;[403] but the present crisis is such as to require your deliberation more than ever, when you shall have heard the situation in which we stand. After we had overcome in many engagements the Syracusans, against whom we were sent, and had built the fortified lines which we now occupy, there came upon us the Lacedæmonian Gylippus, with an army partly Peloponnesian, partly Sicilian. Him too we defeated, in the first action; but in a second, we were overwhelmed by a crowd of cavalry and darters, and forced to retire within our lines. And thus the superior number of our enemies has compelled us to suspend our circumvallation, and remain inactive; indeed, we cannot employ in the field even the full force which we possess, since a portion of our hoplites are necessarily required for the protection of our walls. Meanwhile the enemy have carried out a single intersecting counter-wall beyond our line of circumvallation, so that we can no longer continue the latter to completion, unless we have force enough to[p. 276] attack and storm their counter-wall. And things have come to such a pass, that we, who profess to besiege others, are ourselves rather the party besieged, by land at least, since the cavalry leave us scarce any liberty of motion. Farther, the enemy have sent envoys to Peloponnesus to obtain reinforcements, while Gylippus in person is going round the Sicilian cities, trying to stir up to action such of them as are now neutral, and to get, from the rest, additional naval and military supplies. For it is their determination, as I understand, not merely to assail our lines on shore with their land-force, but also to attack us by sea with their ships.

“Be not shocked when I tell you, that they intend to become aggressors even at sea. They know well, that our fleet was at first in high condition, with dry ships[404] and excellent crews; but now the ships have rotted, from remaining too long at sea, and the crews are ruined. Nor have we the means of hauling our ships ashore to refit, since the enemy’s fleet, equal or superior in numbers, always appears on the point of attacking us. We see them in constant practice, and they can choose their own moment for attack. Moreover, they can keep their ships high and dry more than we can; for they are not engaged in maintaining watch upon others; while to us, who are obliged to retain all our fleet on guard, nothing less than prodigious superiority of number could insure the like facility. And were we to relax ever so little in our vigilance, we should no longer be sure of our supplies, which we bring in even now with difficulty close under their walls.

“Our crews, too, have been and are still wasting away from various causes. Among the seamen who are our own citizens, many, in going to a distance for wood, for water, or for pillage, are cut off by the Syracusan cavalry. Such of them as are slaves, desert, now that our superiority is gone, and that we have come to equal chances with our enemy; while the foreigners whom we pressed into our service, make off straight to some of the neighboring cities; and those who came, tempted by high[p. 277] pay, under the idea of enriching themselves by traffic rather than of fighting, now that they find the enemy in full competence to cope with us by sea as well as by land, either go over to him as professed deserters, or get away as they can amidst the wide area of Sicily.[405] Nay, there are even some, who, while trafficking[p. 278] here on their own account, bribe the trierarchs to accept Hykkarian slaves as substitutes, and thus destroy the strict discipline of our marine. And you know as well as I, that no crew ever continues long in perfect condition, and that the first class of seamen, who set the ship in motion, and maintain the uniformity of the oar-stroke, is but a small fraction of the whole number.

“Among all these embarrassments, the worst of all is, that I as general can neither prevent the mischief, from the difficulty of your tempers to govern, nor can I provide supplementary recruits elsewhere, as the enemy can easily do from many places open to him. We have nothing but the original stock which we brought out with us, both to make good losses and to do present duty; for Naxus and Katana, our only present allies, are of insignificant strength. And if our enemy gain but one farther point,—if the Italian cities, from whence we now draw our supplies, should turn against us, under the impression of our present bad condition, with no reinforcement arriving from you,—we shall be starved out, and he will bring the war to triumphant close, even without a battle.

“Pleasanter news than these I could easily have found to send you; but assuredly nothing so useful, seeing that the full knowledge of the state of affairs here is essential to your deliberations. Moreover, I thought it even the safer policy to tell you the truth without disguise, understanding as I do your real dispositions, that you never listen willingly to any but the most favorable assurances, yet are angry in the end if they turn to unfavorable results. Be thoroughly satisfied, that in regard to the force against which you originally sent us, both your generals and your soldiers have done themselves no discredit. But now that all Sicily is united against us, and that farther reinforcements are expected from Peloponnesus, you must take your resolution with full knowledge that we here have not even strength to contend[p. 279] against our present difficulties. You must either send for us home, or you must send us a second army, land-force as well as naval, not inferior to that which is now here, together with a considerable supply of money. You must farther send a successor to supersede me, as I am incapable of work from a disease in the kidneys. I think myself entitled to ask this indulgence at your hands, for while my health lasted I did you much good service in various military commands. But whatever you intend, do it at the first opening of spring, without any delay: for the new succors which the enemy is getting together in Sicily, will soon be here, and those which are to come from Peloponnesus, though they will be longer in arriving, yet, if you do not keep watch, will either elude or forestall you as they have already once done.”[406]

Such was the memorable despatch of Nikias, which was read to the public assembly of Athens about the end of November, or beginning of December, 414 B.C., brought by officers who strengthened its effect by their own oral communications, and answered all such inquiries as were put to them.[407] We have much reason to regret that Thucydidês does not give us any idea of the debate which so gloomy a revelation called forth. He tells us merely the result: the Athenians resolved to comply with the second portion of the alternative put by Nikias; not to send for the present armament home, but to reinforce it by a second powerful armament, both of land and naval force, in prosecution of the same objects. But they declined his other personal request, and insisted on continuing him in command; passing a vote, however, to name Menander and Euthydemus, officers already in the army before Syracuse, joint commanders along with him, in order to assist him in his laborious duties. They sent Eurymedon speedily, about the winter solstice, in command of ten triremes to Syracuse, carrying one hundred and twenty talents of silver, together with assurances of coming aid to the suffering army. And they resolved to equip a new and formidable force, under Demosthenês and Eurymedon, to go thither as reinforcement in the earliest months of the spring. Demosthenês[p. 280] was directed to employ himself actively in getting this larger force ready.[408]

This letter of Nikias—so authentic, so full of matter, and so characteristic of the manners of the time—suggests several serious reflections, in reference both to himself and to the Athenian people. As to himself, there is nothing so remarkable as the sentence of condemnation which it pronounces on his own past proceedings in Sicily. When we find him lamenting the wear and tear of the armament, and treating the fact as notorious that even the best naval force could only maintain itself in good condition for a short time, what graver condemnation could be passed upon those eight months which he wasted in trifling measures, after his arrival in Sicily, before commencing the siege of Syracuse? When he announces that the arrival of Gylippus with his auxiliary force before Syracuse, made the difference to the Athenian army between triumph and something bordering on ruin, the inquiry naturally suggests itself, whether he had done his best to anticipate, and what precautions he had himself taken to prevent, the coming of the Spartan general. To which the answer must be, that, so far from anticipating the arrival of new enemies as a possible danger, he had almost invited them from abroad by his delay, and that he had taken no precautions at all against them, though forewarned and having sufficient means at his disposal. The desertion and demoralization of his naval force, doubtless but too real, was, as he himself points out, mainly the consequence of this turn of fortune, and was also the first commencement of that unmanageable temper of the Athenian soldiery, numbered among his difficulties. For it would be in[p. 281]justice to this unfortunate army not to recognize that they first acquiesced patiently in prolonged inaction, because their general directed it, and next did their duty most gallantly in the operations of the siege, down to the death of Lamachus.

If even with our imperfect knowledge of the case, the ruin complained of by Nikias be distinctly traceable to his own remissness and oversight, much more must this conviction have been felt by intelligent Athenians, both in the camp and in the city, as we shall see by the conduct of Demosthenês[409] hereafter to be related. Let us conceive the series of despatches, to which Nikias himself alludes, as having been transmitted home, from their commencement. We must recollect that the expedition was originally sent from Athens with hopes of the most glowing character, and with a consciousness of extraordinary efforts about to be rewarded with commensurate triumphs. For some months, the despatches of the general disclose nothing but movements either abortive or inglorious; adorned, indeed, by one barren victory, but accompanied by an intimation that he must wait till the spring, and that reinforcements must be sent to him, before he can undertake the really serious enterprise. Though the disappointment occasioned by this news at Athens must have been mortifying, nevertheless his requisition was complied with; and the despatches of Nikias, during the spring and summer of 414 B.C., become cheering. The siege of Syracuse is described as proceeding successfully, and at length, about July or August, as being on the point of coming to a triumphant close, in spite of a Spartan adventurer, named Gylippus, making his way across the Ionian sea with a force too contemptible to be noticed. Suddenly, without any intermediate step to smooth the transition, comes a despatch announcing that this adventurer has marched into Syracuse at the head of a powerful army, and that the Athenians are thrown upon the defensive, without power of proceeding with the siege. This is followed, after a short time, by the gloomy and almost desperate communication above translated.

When we thus look at the despatch, not merely as it stands singly, but as falling in series with its antecedents, the natural[p. 282] effect which we should suppose it likely to produce upon the Athenians, would be a vehement burst of wrath and displeasure against Nikias. Upon the most candid and impartial scrutiny, he deserved nothing less. And when we consider, farther, the character generally ascribed by historians of Greece to the Athenian people, that they are represented as fickle, ungrateful, and irritable, by standing habit; as abandoning upon the most trifling grounds those whom they had once esteemed, forgetting all prior services, visiting upon innocent generals the unavoidable misfortunes of war, and impelled by nothing better than demagogic excitements, we naturally expect that the blame really deserved by Nikias would be exaggerated beyond all due measure, and break forth in a storm of violence and fury. Yet what is the actual resolution taken in consequence of his despatch, after the full and free debate of the Athenian assembly? Not a word of blame or displeasure is proclaimed. Doubtless there must have been individual speakers who criticized him as he deserved. To suppose the contrary, would be to think meanly indeed of the Athenian assembly. But the general vote was one not simply imputing no blame, but even pronouncing continued and unabated confidence. The people positively refuse to relieve him from the command, though he himself solicits it in a manner sincere and even touching. So great is the value which they set upon his services, and the esteem which they entertain for his character, that they will not avail themselves of the easy opportunity which he himself provides to get rid of him.

It is not by way of compliment to the Athenians that I make these remarks on their present proceeding. Quite the contrary. The misplaced confidence of the Athenians in Nikias, on more than one previous occasion, but especially on this, betrays an incapacity of appreciating facts immediately before their eyes, and a blindness to decisive and multiplied evidences of incompetency, which is one of the least creditable manifestations of their political history. But we do learn from it a clear lesson, that the habitual defects of the Athenian character were very different from what historians commonly impute to them. Instead of being fickle, we find them tenacious in the extreme of confidence once bestowed, and of schemes once embarked upon: instead of ingratitude for services actually rendered, we find credit given for ser[p. 283]vices which an officer ought to have rendered, but has not: instead of angry captiousness, we discover an indulgence not merely generous, but even culpable, in the midst of disappointment and humiliation: instead of a public assembly, wherein, as it is commonly depicted, the criminative orators were omnipotent, and could bring to condemnation any unsuccessful general, however meritorious; we see that even grave and well-founded accusations make no impression upon the people in opposition to preëstablished personal esteem; and personal esteem for a man who not only was no demagogue, but in every respect the opposite of a demagogue: an oligarch by taste, sentiment, and position; who yielded to the democracy nothing more than sincere obedience, coupled with gentleness and munificence in his private bearing. If Kleon had committed but a small part of those capital blunders which discredit the military career of Nikias, he would have been irretrievably ruined. So much weaker was his hold upon his countrymen, by means of demagogic excellences, as compared with those causes which attracted confidence to Nikias; his great family and position, his wealth dexterously expended, his known incorruptibility against bribes, and even comparative absence of personal ambition, his personal courage combined with reputation for caution, his decorous private life and ultra-religious habits. All this assemblage of negative merits, and decencies of daily life, in a citizen whose station might have enabled him to act with the insolence of Alkibiadês, placed Nikias on a far firmer basis of public esteem than the mere power of accusatory speech in the public assembly or the dikastery could have done. It entitled him to have the most indulgent construction put upon all his shortcomings, and spread a fatal varnish over his glaring incompetence for all grave and responsible command.

The incident now before us is one of the most instructive in all history, as an illustration of the usual sentiment, and strongest causes of error, prevalent among the Athenian democracy, and as a refutation of that exaggerated mischief which it is common to impute to the person called a demagogue. Happy would it have been for Athens had she now had Kleon present, or any other demagogue of equal power, at that public assembly which took the melancholy resolution of sending fresh forces to Sicily and continuing Nikias in the command! The case was one in[p. 284] which the accusatory eloquence of the demagogue was especially called for, to expose the real past mismanagement of Nikias, to break down that undeserved confidence in his ability and caution which had grown into a sentiment of faith or routine, to prove how much mischief he had already done, and how much more he would do if continued.[410] Unluckily for Athens, she had now no demagogue who could convince the assembly beforehand of this truth, and prevent them from taking the most unwise and destructive resolution ever passed in the Pnyx.

What makes the resolution so peculiarly discreditable, is, that it was adopted in defiance of clear and present evidence. To persist in the siege of Syracuse, under present circumstances, was sad misjudgment; to persist in it with Nikias as commander, was hardly less than insanity. The first expedition, though even that was rash and ill-conceived, nevertheless presented tempting hopes which explain, if they do not excuse, the too light estimate of impossibility of lasting possession. Moreover, there was at that time a confusion,—between the narrow objects connected with Leontini and Egesta, and the larger acquisitions to be realized through the siege of Syracuse,—which prevented any clear and unanimous estimate of the undertaking in the Athenian mind. But now, the circumstances of Sicily were fully known: the mendacious promises of Egesta had been exposed; the hopes of allies for Athens in the island were seen to be futile; while Syracuse, armed with a Spartan general and Peloponnesian aid, had not only become inexpugnable, but had assumed the aggressive: lastly, the chance of a renewal of Peloponnesian hostility against Attica had been now raised into certainty. While perseverance in the siege of Syracuse, therefore, under circumstances so unpromising and under such necessity for increased exertions at home, was a melancholy imprudence in itself, perseverance in employing Nikias converted that imprudence into ruin, which even the addition of an energetic colleague in the person of[p. 285] Demosthenês was not sufficient to avert. Those who study the conduct of the Athenian people on this occasion, will not be disposed to repeat against them the charge of fickleness which forms one of the standing reproaches against democracy. Their mistake here arose from the very opposite quality; from what may be called obtuseness, or inability to get clear of two sentiments which had become deeply engraven on their minds; ideas of Sicilian conquest, and confidence in Nikias.

A little more of this alleged fickleness—or easy escape from past associations and impressibility to actual circumstances—would have been at the present juncture a tutelary quality to Athens. She would then have appreciated more justly the increased hazards thickening around her both in Sicily and at home. War with Sparta, though not yet actually proclaimed, had become impending and inevitable. Even in the preceding winter, the Lacedæmonians had listened favorably to the recommendation of Alkibiadês[411] that they should establish a fortified post at Dekeleia in Attica. They had not yet indeed brought themselves to execution of this resolve; for the peace between them and Athens, though indirectly broken in many ways, still subsisted in name, and they hesitated to break it openly, partly because they knew that the breach of peace had been on their side at the beginning of the Peloponnesian war; attributing to this fault their capital misfortune at Sphakteria.[412] Athens on her side had also scrupulously avoided direct violation of the Lacedæmonian territory, in spite of much solicitation from her allies at Argos. But her reserve on this point gave way during the present summer, probably at the time when her prospect of taking Syracuse appeared certain. The Lacedæmonians having invaded and plundered the Argeian territory, thirty Athenian triremes were sent to aid in its defence, under Pythodôrus with two colleagues. This armament disembarked on the eastern coast of Laconia near Prasiæ and committed devastations: which direct act of hostility—coming in addition to the marauding excursions of the garrison of Pylos, and to the refusal of pacific redress at Athens—satisfied the Lacedæmonians that the peace had[p. 286] been now first and undeniably broken by their enemy, so that they might with a safe conscience recommence the war.[413]

Such was the state of feeling between the two great powers of Central Greece in November 414 B.C., when the envoys arrived from Syracuse; envoys from Nikias on the one part, from Gylippus and the Syracusans on the other; each urgently calling for farther support. The Corinthians and Syracusans vehemently pressed their claims at Sparta; nor was Alkibiadês again wanting, to renew his instances for the occupation of Dekeleia. It was in the face of this impending liability to renewed Peloponnesian invasion that the Athenians took their resolution, above commented on, to send a second army to Syracuse and prosecute the siege with vigor. If there were any hesitation yet remaining on the part of the Lacedæmonians, it disappeared so soon as they were made aware of the imprudent resolution of Athens; which not only created an imperative necessity for sustaining Syracuse, but also rendered Athens so much more vulnerable at home, by removing the better part of her force. Accordingly, very soon after the vote passed at Athens, an equally decisive resolution for direct hostilities was adopted at Sparta. It was determined that a Peloponnesian allied force should be immediately prepared, to be sent at the first opening of spring to Syracuse, and that at the same time Attica should be invaded, and the post of Dekeleia fortified. Orders to this effect were immediately transmitted to the whole body of Peloponnesian allies; especially requisitions for implements, materials, and workmen, towards the construction of the projected fort at Dekeleia.[414]


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CHAPTER LX.
FROM THE RESUMPTION OF DIRECT HOSTILITIES BETWEEN ATHENS AND SPARTA, DOWN TO THE DESTRUCTION OF THE ATHENIAN ARMAMENT IN SICILY.

The Syracusan war now no longer stands apart, as an event by itself, but becomes absorbed in the general war rekindling throughout Greece. Never was any winter so actively and extensively employed in military preparations, as the winter of 414-413 B.C., the months immediately preceding that which Thucydidês terms the nineteenth spring of the Peloponnesian war, but which other historians call the beginning of the Dekeleian war.[415] While Eurymedon went with his ten triremes to Syracuse, even in midwinter, Demosthenês exerted himself all the winter to get together the second armament for early spring. Twenty other Athenian triremes were farther sent round Peloponnesus to the station of Naupaktus, to prevent any Corinthian reinforcements from sailing out of the Corinthian gulf. Against these latter, the Corinthians on their side prepared twenty-five fresh triremes, to serve as a convoy to the transports carrying their hoplites.[416] In Corinth, Sikyôn, and Bœotia, as well as at Lacedæmon, levies of hoplites were going on for the armament to Syracuse, at the same time that everything was getting ready for the occupation of Dekeleia. Lastly, Gylippus was engaged with not less activity in stirring up all Sicily to take a more decisive part in the coming year’s struggle.

From Cape Tænarus in Laconia, at the earliest moment of spring, embarked a force of six hundred Lacedæmonian hoplites—Helots and Neodamodes—under the Spartan Ekkritus, and three hundred Bœotian hoplites under the Thebans Xenon and Nikon, with the Thespian Hegesandrus. They were directed to cross the sea southward to Kyrênê in Libya, and from thence to make their way along the African coast to Sicily. At the same time a body of seven hundred hoplites under Alexarchus, partly[p. 288] Corinthians, partly hired Arcadians, partly Sikyonians, under constraint from their powerful neighbors,[417] departed from the northwest of Peloponnesus and the mouth of the Corinthian gulf for Sicily, the Corinthian triremes watching them until they were past the Athenian squadron at Naupaktus.

These were proceedings of importance: but the most important of all was the reinvasion of Attica at the same time by the great force of the Peloponnesian alliance, under the Spartan king Agis son of Archidamus. Twelve years had elapsed since Attica last felt the hand of the destroyer, a little before the siege of Sphakteria. The plain in the neighborhood of Athens was now first laid waste, after which the invaders proceeded to their special purpose of erecting a fortified post for occupation at Dekeleia. The work, apportioned among the allies present, who had come prepared with the means of executing it, was completed during the present summer, and a garrison was established there composed of contingents relieving each other at intervals, under the command of king Agis himself. Dekeleia was situated on an outlying eminence belonging to the range called Parnês, about fourteen miles to the north of Athens, near the termination of the plain of Athens, and commanding an extensive view of that plain as well as of the plain of Eleusis. The hill on which it stood, if not the fort itself, was visible even from the walls of Athens. It was admirably situated both as a central point for excursions over Attica, and for communication with Bœotia; while the road from Athens to Orôpus, the main communication with Eubœa, passed through the gorge immediately under it.[418]

We read with amazement, and the contemporary world saw with yet greater amazement, that while this important work was actually going on, and while the whole Peloponnesian confederacy was renewing its pressure with redoubled force upon Athens, at that very moment,[419] the Athenians sent out, not only a fleet of thirty triremes under Chariklês to annoy the coasts of Peloponnesus, but also the great armament which they had resolved[p. 289] upon under Demosthenês, to push offensive operations against Syracuse. The force under the latter general consisted of sixty Athenian and five Chian triremes; of twelve hundred Athenian hoplites of the best class, chosen from the citizen muster-roll; with a considerable number of hoplites besides, from the subject-allies and elsewhere. There had been also engaged on hire fifteen hundred peltasts from Thrace, of the tribe called Dii; but these men did not arrive in time, so that Demosthenês set sail without them.[420] Chariklês having gone forward to take aboard a body of allies from Argos, the two fleets joined at Ægina, inflicted some devastations on the coasts of Laconia, and established a strong post on the island of Kythêra to encourage desertion among the Helots. From hence Chariklês returned with the Argeians, while Demosthenês conducted his armament round Peloponnesus to Korkyra.[421] On the Eleian coast, he destroyed a transport carrying hoplites to Syracuse, though the men escaped ashore: from thence he proceeded to Zakynthus and Kephallenia, from whence he engaged some additional hoplites, and to Anaktorium, in order to procure darters and slingers from Akarnania. It was here that he was met by Eurymedon with his ten triremes, who had gone forward to Syracuse in the winter with the pecuniary remittance urgently required, and was now returning to act as colleague of Demosthenês in the command.[422] The news[p. 290] brought by Eurymedon from Sicily was in every way discouraging. Yet the two admirals were under the necessity of sparing ten triremes from their fleet to reinforce Konon at Naupaktus, who was not strong enough alone to contend against the Corinthian fleet which watched him from the opposite coast. To make good this diminution, Eurymedon went forward to Korkyra, with the view of obtaining from the Korkyræans fifteen fresh triremes and a contingent of hoplites, while Demosthenês was getting together the Akarnanian darters and slingers.[423]

Eurymedon not only brought back word of the distressed condition of the Athenians in the harbor of Syracuse, but had also learned, during his way back, their heavy additional loss by the capture of the fort at Plemmyrium. Gylippus returned to Syracuse early in the spring, nearly about the time when Agis invaded Attica and when Demosthenês quitted Peiræus. He returned with fresh reinforcements from the interior, and with redoubled ardor for decisive operations against Nikias before aid could arrive from Athens. It was his first care, in conjunction with Hermokratês, to inspire the Syracusans with courage for fighting the Athenians on shipboard. Such was the acknowledged superiority of the latter at sea, that this was a task of some difficulty, calling for all the eloquence and ascendency of the two leaders: “The Athenians (said Hermokratês to his countrymen) have not been always eminent at sea as they now are: they were once landsmen like you, and more than you, they were only forced on shipboard by the Persian invasion. The only way to deal with bold men like them, is to show a front bolder still. They have often by their audacity daunted enemies of greater real force than themselves, and they must now be taught that others can play the same game with them. Go right at them before they expect it; and you will gain more by thus surprising and intimidating them, than you will suffer by their superior science.” Such lessons, addressed to men already in the tide of success, were presently efficacious, and a naval attack was resolved.[424]

[p. 291]

The town of Syracuse had two ports, one on each side of the island of Ortygia. The lesser port—as it was called afterwards, the Portus Lakkius—lay northward of Ortygia, between that island and the low ground or Nekropolis near the outer city: the other lay on the opposite side of the isthmus of Ortygia within the Great Harbor. Both of them, it appears, were protected against attack from without, by piles and stakes planted in the bottom in front of them. But the lesser port was the more secure of the two, and the principal docks of the Syracusans were situated within it; the Syracusan fleet, eighty triremes strong, being distributed between them. The entire Athenian fleet was stationed under the fort of Plemmyrium, immediately opposite to the southern point of Ortygia.

Gylippus laid his plan with great ability, so as to take the Athenians completely by surprise. Having trained and prepared the naval force as thoroughly as he could, he marched out his land-force secretly by night, over Epipolæ and round by the right bank of the Anapus, to the neighborhood of the fort of Plemmyrium. With the first dawn of morning, the Syracusan fleet sailed out, at one and the same signal, from both the ports; forty-five triremes out of the lesser port, thirty-five out of the other. Both squadrons tried to round the southern point of Ortygia, so as to unite and to attack the enemy at Plemmyrium in concert. The Athenians, though unprepared and confused, hastened to man sixty ships; with twenty-five of which, they met the thirty-five Syracusans sailing forth from the Great Harbor, while with the other thirty-five they encountered the forty-five from the lesser port, immediately outside of the mouth of the Great Harbor. In the former of these two actions the Syracusans were at first victors; in the second also, the Syracusans from the outside forced their way into the mouth of the Great Harbor, and joined their comrades. But being little accustomed to naval warfare, they presently fell into complete confusion, partly in consequence of their unexpected success: so that the Athenians, recovering from the first shock, attacked them anew and completely defeated them; sinking or disabling eleven ships, of three of which the[p. 292] crews were made prisoners, the rest being mostly slain.[425] Three Athenian triremes were destroyed also.

But this victory, itself not easily won, was more than counterbalanced by the irreparable loss of Plemmyrium. During the first excitement at the Athenian naval station, when the ships were in course of being manned to meet the unexpected onset from both ports at once, the garrison of Plemmyrium went to the water’s edge to watch and encourage their countrymen, leaving their own walls thinly guarded, and little suspecting the presence of their enemy on the land side. This was just what Gylippus had anticipated. He attacked the forts at daybreak, taking the garrison completely by surprise, and captured them after a feeble resistance; first the greatest and most important fort, next the two smaller. The garrison sought safety as they could, on board the transports and vessels of burden at the station, and rowed across the Great Harbor to the land-camp of Nikias on the other side. Those who fled from the greater fort, which was the first taken, ran some risk from the Syracusan triremes, which were at that moment victorious at sea. But by the time that the two lesser forts were taken, the Athenian fleet had regained its superiority, so that there was no danger of similar pursuit in the crossing of the Great Harbor.

This well-concerted surprise was no less productive to the captors than fatal as a blow to the Athenians. Not only were many men slain, and many made prisoners, in the assault, but there were vast stores of every kind, and even a large stock of money found within the fort; partly belonging to the military chest, partly the property of the trierarchs and of private merchants, who had deposited it there as in the place of greatest security. The sails of not less than forty triremes were also found there, and three triremes which had been dragged up ashore. Gylippus caused one of the three forts to be pulled down, and carefully garrisoned the other two.[426]

Great as the positive loss was here to the Athenians at a time when their situation could ill bear it, the collateral damage and peril growing out of the capture of Plemmyrium was yet more serious, besides the alarm and discouragement which it spread[p. 293] among the army. The Syracusans were now masters of the mouth of the harbor on both sides, so that not a single storeship could enter without a convoy and a battle. What was of not less detriment, the Athenian fleet was now forced to take station under the fortified lines of its own land-force, and was thus cramped up on a small space in the innermost portion of the Great Harbor, between the city-wall and the river Anapus; the Syracusans being masters everywhere else, with full communication between their posts all round, hemming in the Athenian position both by sea and by land.

To the Syracusans, on the contrary, the result of the recent battle proved every way encouraging; not merely from the valuable acquisition of Plemmyrium, but even from the sea-fight itself, which had indeed turned out to be a defeat, but which promised at first to be a victory, had they not thrown away the chance by their own disorder. It removed all superstitious fear of Athenian nautical superiority; while their position was so much improved by having acquired the command of the mouth of the harbor, that they began even to assume the aggressive at sea. They detached a squadron of twelve triremes to the coast of Italy, for the purpose of intercepting some merchant vessels coming with a supply of money to the Athenians. So little fear was there of an enemy at sea, that these vessels seem to have been coming without convoy, and were for the most part destroyed by the Syracusans, together with a stock of ship-timber which the Athenians had collected near Kaulonia. In touching at Lokri, on their return, they took aboard a company of Thespian hoplites who had made their way thither in a transport. They were also fortunate enough to escape the squadron of twenty triremes which Nikias detached to lie in wait for them near Megara, with the loss of one ship, however, including her crew.[427]

One of this Syracusan squadron had gone forward from Italy with envoys to Peloponnesus, to communicate the favorable news of the capture of Plemmyrium, and to accelerate as much as possible, the operations against Attica, in order that no reinforcements might be sent from thence. At the same time, other envoys went from Syracuse—not merely Syracusans, but also[p. 294] Corinthians and Lacedæmonians—to visit the cities in the interior of Sicily. They made known everywhere the prodigious improvement in Syracusan affairs arising from the gain of Plemmyrium, as well as the insignificant character of the recent naval defeat. They strenuously pleaded for farther aid to Syracuse without delay, since there were now the best hopes of being able to crush the Athenians in the harbor completely, before the reinforcements about to be despatched could reach them.[428]

While these envoys were absent on their mission, the Great Harbor was the scene of much desultory conflict, though not of any comprehensive single battle. Since the loss of Plemmyrium, the Athenian naval station was in the northwest interior corner of that harbor, adjoining the fortified lines occupied by their land-army. It was inclosed and protected by a row of posts or stakes stuck in the bottom and standing out of the water.[429] The Syracusans on their side had also planted a stockade in front of the interior port of Ortygia, to defend their ships, their ship-houses, and their docks within. As the two stations were not far apart, each party watched for opportunities of occasional attack or annoyance by missile weapons to the other; and daily skirmishes of this sort took place, in which on the whole the Athenians seem to have had the advantage. They even formed the plan of breaking through the outworks of the Syracusan dockyard, and burning the ships within. They brought up a ship of the largest size, with wooden towers and side defences, against the line of posts fronting the dockyard, and tried to force the entrance, either by means of divers, who sawed them through at the bottom, or by boat-crews, who fastened ropes round them and thus unfixed or plucked them out. All this was done under cover of the great vessel with its towers manned by light-armed, who exchanged showers of missiles with the Syracusan bowmen on the top of the ship-houses, and prevented the latter from coming near enough to interrupt the operation. The Athenians contrived thus to remove many of the posts planted, even the most dangerous among them, those which did not reach to the surface of the water, and which therefore a ship approaching could not see. But they gained little by it, since the Syracusans[p. 295] were able to plant others in their room. On the whole, no serious damage was done, either to the dockyard or to the ships within. And the state of affairs in the Great Harbor stood substantially unaltered, during all the time that the envoys were absent on their Sicilian tour, probably three weeks or a month.[430]

These envoys had found themselves almost everywhere well received. The prospects of Syracuse were now so triumphant, and those of Nikias with his present force so utterly hopeless, that the waverers thought it time to declare themselves; and all the Greek cities in Sicily, except Agrigentum, which still remained neutral (and of course except Naxos and Katana), resolved on aiding the winning cause. From Kamarina came five hundred hoplites, four hundred darters, and three hundred bowmen; from Gela, five triremes, four hundred darters, and two hundred horsemen. Besides these, an additional force from the other cities was collected, to march to Syracuse in a body across the interior of the island, under the conduct of the envoys themselves. But this part of the scheme was frustrated by Nikias, who was rendered more vigilant by the present desperate condition of his affairs, than he had been in reference to the cross march of Gylippus. At his instance, the Sikel tribes Kentoripes and Halikyæi, allies of Athens, were prevailed upon to attack the approaching enemy. They planned a skilful ambuscade, set upon them unawares, and dispersed them with the loss of eight hundred men. All the envoys were also slain, except the Corinthian, who conducted the remaining force, about fifteen hundred in number, to Syracuse.[431]

This reverse—which seems to have happened about the time when Demosthenês with his armament were at Korkyra, on the way to Syracuse—so greatly dismayed and mortified the Syracusans, that Gylippus thought it advisable to postpone awhile the attack which he intended to have made immediately on the reinforcement arriving.[432] The delay of these few days proved nothing less than the salvation of the Athenian army.

It was not until Demosthenês was approaching Rhegium within two or three days’ sail of Syracuse, that the attack was determined on without farther delay. Preparation in every way had been[p. 296] made for it long before, especially for the most effective employment of the naval force. The captains and ship-masters of Syracuse and Corinth had now become fully aware of the superiority of Athenian nautical manœuvre, and of the causes upon which that superiority depended. The Athenian trireme was of a build comparatively light, fit for rapid motion through the water, and for easy change of direction: its prow was narrow, armed with a sharp projecting beak at the end, but hollow and thin, not calculated to force its way through very strong resistance. It was never intended to meet, in direct impact and collision, the prow of an enemy: such a proceeding passed among the able seamen of Athens for gross awkwardness. In advancing against an enemy’s vessel, they evaded the direct shock, steered so as to pass by it, then, by the excellence and exactness of their rowing, turned swiftly round, altered their direction and came back before the enemy could alter his: or perhaps rowed rapidly round him, or backed their ship stern foremost, until the opportunity was found for driving the beak of their ship against some weak part of his, against the midships, the quarter, the stern, or the oarblades without. In such manœuvres the Athenians were unrivalled: but none such could be performed unless there were ample sea-room, which rendered their present naval station the most disadvantageous that could be imagined. They were cooped up in the inmost part of a harbor of small dimensions, close on the station of their enemies, and with all the shore, except their own lines, in possession of those enemies: so that they could not pull round from want of space, nor could they back water, because they durst not come near shore. In this contracted area, the only mode of fighting possible was by straightforward collision, prow against prow; a process which not only shut out all their superior manœuvring, but was unsuited to the build of their triremes. On the other hand, the Syracusans, under the advice of the able Corinthian steersman Aristo, altered the construction of their triremes to meet the special exigency of the case, disregarding all idea of what had been generally looked upon as good nautical manœuvring.[433] Instead of the long, thin, hollow, and[p. 297] sharp, advancing beak, striking the enemy considerably above the water-level, and therefore doing less damage, they shortened the prow, but made it excessively heavy and solid, and lowered the elevation of the projecting beak: so that it became not so much calculated to pierce, as to break in and crush by main force all the opposing part of the enemy’s ship, not far above the water. What were called the epôtids, “ear-caps,” or nozzles, projecting forwards to the right and left of the beak, were made peculiarly thick, and sustained by under-beams let in to the hull of the ship. In the Attic build, the beak stood forward very prominent, and the epôtids on each side of it were kept back, serving the same purpose as what are called catheads, in modern ships, to which the anchors are suspended: but in the Corinthian build, the beak projected less, and the epôtids more, so that they served to strike the enemy: instead of having one single beak, the Corinthian ship might be said to have three nozzles.[434] The Syracusans relied on the narrowness of the space, for shutting out the Athenian evolutions, and bringing the contest to nothing more than a straightforward collision; in which the weaker vessel would be broken and stove in at the prow, and thus rendered unmanageable.

Having completed these arrangements, their land-force was[p. 298] marched out under Gylippus to threaten one side of the Athenian lines, while the cavalry and the garrison of the Olympieion marched up to the other side. The Athenians were putting themselves in position to defend their walls from what seemed to be a land attack, when they saw the Syracusan fleet, eighty triremes strong, sailing out from its dock prepared for action: upon which they too, though at first confused by this unexpected appearance, put their crews on shipboard, and went out of their palisaded station, seventy-five triremes in number, to meet the enemy. The whole day passed off, however, in desultory and indecisive skirmish, with trifling advantage to the Syracusans, who disabled one or two Athenian ships, yet merely tried to invite the Athenians to attack, without choosing themselves to force on a close and general action.[435]

It was competent to the Athenians to avoid altogether a naval action, at least until the necessity arose for escorting fresh supplies into the harbor, by keeping within their station; and as Demosthenês was now at hand, prudence counselled this reserve. Nikias himself, too, is said to have deprecated immediate fighting, but to have been outvoted by his two newly-appointed colleagues Menander and Euthydemus, who were anxious to show what they could do without Demosthenês, and took their stand upon Athenian maritime honor, which peremptorily forbade them to shrink from the battle when offered.[436]

Though on the next day the Syracusans made no movement, yet Nikias foreseeing that they would speedily recommence, and noway encouraged by the equal manifestations of the preceding day, caused every trierarch to repair what damage his ship had sustained, and even took the precaution of farther securing his naval station by mooring merchant-vessels just alongside of the openings in the palisade, about two hundred feet apart. The prows of these vessels were provided with dolphins, or beams lifted up on high and armed at the end with massive heads of[p. 299] iron, which could be so let fall as to crush any ship entering:[437] any Athenian trireme which might be hard-pressed, would thus be enabled to get through this opening where no enemy could follow, and choose her own time for sailing out again. Before night these arrangements were completed, and at the earliest dawn of next day, the Syracusans reappeared, with the same demonstrations both of land force and naval force as before. The Athenian fleet having gone forth to meet them, several hours were spent in the like indecisive and partial skirmishes, until at length the Syracusan fleet sailed back to the city again without bringing on any general or close combat. The Athenians, construing this retirement of the enemy as evidence of backwardness and unwillingness to fight,[438] and supposing the day’s duty at an end, retired on their side within their own station, disembarked, and separated to get their dinners at leisure, having tasted no food that day.

But ere they had been long ashore, they were astonished to see the Syracusan fleet sailing back to renew the attack, in full battle order. This was a manœuvre suggested by the Corinthian Aristo, the ablest steersman in the fleet; at whose instance, the Syracusan admirals had sent back an urgent request to the city authorities, that an abundant stock of provisions might for that day be brought down to the sea-shore, and sale be rendered compulsory; so that no time should be lost, when the fleet returned thither, in taking a hasty meal without dispersion of the crews. Accordingly the fleet, after a short but sufficient interval allowed for refreshment thus close at hand, was brought back unexpectedly to the enemy’s station. Confounded at the sight, the Athenian crews forced themselves again on board, most of them yet without refreshment, and in the midst of murmurs and disorder.[439] On sailing out of their station, the indecisive skirmishing again com[p. 300]menced, and continued for some time, until at length the Athenian captains became so impatient of prolonged and exhausting fatigue, that they resolved to begin of themselves, and make the action close as well as general. Accordingly, the word of command was given, and they rowed forward to make the attack, which was cheerfully received by the Syracusans. By receiving the attack instead of making it, the latter were better enabled to insure a straightforward collision of prow against prow, excluding all circuit, backing, or evolutions, on the part of the enemy: at any rate, their steersmen contrived to realize this plan, and to crush, stave in, or damage, the forepart of many of the Athenian triremes, simply by superior weight of material and solidity on their own side. The Syracusan darters on the deck, moreover, as soon as the combat became close, were both numerous and destructive; while their little boats rowed immediately under the sides of the Athenian triremes, broke the blades of their oars, and shot darts in through the oar-holes, against the rowers within. At length the Athenians, after sustaining the combat bravely for some time, found themselves at such disadvantage, that they were compelled to give way and to seek shelter within their own station. The armed merchant-vessels which Nikias had planted before the openings in the palisade were now found of great use in checking the pursuing Syracusans; two of whose triremes, in the excitement of victory, pushed forward too near to them and were disabled by the heavy implements on board, one of them being captured with all her crew. The general victory of the Syracusans, however, was complete: seven Athenian triremes were sunk or disabled, many others were seriously damaged, and numbers of seamen either slain or made prisoners.[440]

Overjoyed with the result of this battle, which seems to have been no less skilfully planned than bravely executed, the Syracusans now felt confident of their superiority by sea as well as on land, and contemplated nothing less than the complete destruction of their enemies in the harbor. The generals were already concerting measures for renewed attack both by land and by sea, and a week or two more would probably have seen the ruin of this once triumphant besieging armament, now full of nothing but[p. 301] discouragement. The mere stoppage of supplies, in fact, as the Syracusans were masters of the mouth of the harbor, would be sure to starve it out in no long time, if they maintained their superiority at sea. All their calculations were suspended, however, and the hopes of the Athenians for the time revived, by the entry of Demosthenês and Eurymedon with the second armament into the Great Harbor; which seems to have taken place on the very day, or on the second day, after the recent battle.[441] So important were the consequences which turned upon that postponement of the Syracusan attack, occasioned by the recent defeat of their reinforcing army from the interior. So little did either party think, at that moment, that it would have been a mitigation of calamity to Athens, if Demosthenês had not arrived in time; if the ruin of the first armament had been actually consummated before the coming of the second!

Demosthenês, after obtaining the required reinforcements at Korkyra, had crossed the Ionian sea to the islands called Chœrades on the coast of Iapygia; where he took aboard a band of one hundred and fifty Messapian darters, through the friendly aid of the native prince Artas, with whom an ancient alliance was renewed. Passing on farther to Metapontum, already in alliance with Athens, he was there reinforced with two triremes and three hundred darters, with which addition he sailed on to Thurii. Here he found himself cordially welcomed; for the philo-Athenian party was in full ascendency, having recently got the better in a vehement dissension, and passed a sentence of banishment against their opponents.[442] They not only took a formal resolution to acknowledge the same friends and the same enemies as the Athenians, but equipped a regiment of seven hundred hoplites and three hundred darters to accompany Demosthenês, who remained there long enough to pass his troops in review and verify the completeness of each division. After having held this review on the banks of the river Sybaris, he marched his troops by land through the Thurian territory to the banks of the river Hylias which divided it from Kroton. He was here met by Krotoniate envoys, who forbade the access to their territory: upon which he marched down the river to the sea-shore, got on shipboard, and[p. 302] pursued his voyage southward along the coast of Italy, touching at the various towns, all except the hostile Lokri.[443]

His entry into the harbor of Syracuse,[444] accomplished in the most ostentatious trim, with decorations and musical accompaniments, was no less imposing from the magnitude of his force than critical in respect to opportunity. Taking Athenians, allies, and mercenary forces, together, he conducted seventy-three triremes, five thousand hoplites, and a large number of light troops of every description,—archers, slingers, darters, etc., with other requisites for effective operation. At the sight of such an armament, not inferior to the first which had arrived under Nikias, the Syracusans lost for a moment the confidence of their recent triumph, and were struck with dismay as well as wonder.[445] That Athens could be rash enough to spare such an armament, at a moment when the full burst of Peloponnesian hostility was reopening upon her, and when Dekeleia was in course of being fortified, was a fact out of all reasonable probability, and not to be credited unless actually seen. And probably the Syracusans, though they knew that Demosthenês was on his way, had no idea beforehand of the magnitude of his armament.

On the other hand, the hearts of the discomfited and beleaguered Athenians again revived as they welcomed their new comrades. They saw themselves again masters by land as well as by sea; and they displayed their renewed superiority by marching out of their lines forthwith and ravaging the lands near the Anapus; the Syracusans not venturing to engage in a general action, and merely watching the movement with some cavalry from the Olympieion.

But Demosthenês was not imposed upon by this delusive show of power, so soon as he had made himself master of the full state of affairs, and had compared his own means with those of the enemy. He found the army of Nikias not merely worn down with long-continued toil, and disheartened by previous defeat, but also weakened in a terrible degree by the marsh fever general towards the close of summer, in the low ground where they were encamped.[446]

[p. 303]

He saw that the Syracusans were strong in multiplied allies, extended fortifications, a leader of great ability, and general belief that theirs was the winning cause. Moreover, he felt deeply the position of Athens at home, and her need of all her citizens against enemies within sight of her own walls. But above all, he came penetrated with the deplorable effects which had resulted from the mistake of Nikias, in wasting irreparably so much precious time, and frittering away the first terror-striking impression of his splendid armament. All these considerations determined Demosthenês to act, without a moment’s delay and while the impression produced by his arrival was yet unimpaired, and to aim one great and decisive blow, such as might, if successful, make the conquest of Syracuse again probable. If this should fail, he resolved to abandon the whole enterprise, and return home with his armament forthwith.[447]

By means of the Athenian lines, he had possession of the southernmost portion of the slope of Epipolæ. But all along that slope from east to west, immediately in front or to the north of his position, stretched the counter-wall built by the Syracusans; beginning at the city wall on the lowest ground, and reaching up first in a northwesterly, next in a westerly direction, until it joined the fort on the upper ground near the cliff, where the road from Euryalus down to Syracuse passed. The Syracusans, as defenders, were on the north side of this counter-wall; he and the Athenians on the south side. It was a complete bar to his progress, nor could he stir a step without making himself master of it: towards which end there were only two possible means,—either to storm it in front, or to turn it from its western extremity by marching round up to the Euryalus. He began by trying the first method; but the wall was abundantly manned and vigorously defended; his battering machines were all burnt or disqualified, and every attempt which he made was completely repulsed.[448] There then remained only the second method, to turn the wall, ascending by circuitous roads to the heights of Euryalus behind it, and then attacking the fort in which it terminated.

But the march necessary for this purpose, first, up the valley of the Anapus, visible from the Syracusan posts above; next,[p. 304] ascending to the Euryalus by a narrow and winding path, was so difficult, that even Demosthenês, naturally sanguine, despaired of being able to force his way up in the daylight, against an enemy seeing the attack. He was therefore constrained to attempt a night-surprise, for which, Nikias and his other colleagues consenting, he accordingly made preparations on the largest and most effective scale. He took the command himself, along with Menander and Eurymedon (Nikias being left to command within the lines),[449] conducting hoplites and light troops, together with masons and carpenters, and all other matters necessary for establishing a fortified post; lastly, giving orders that every man should carry with him provisions for five days.

Fortune so far favored him, that not only all these preliminary arrangements, but even his march itself, was accomplished without any suspicion of the enemy. At the beginning of a moonlight night, he quitted the lines, moved along the low ground on the left bank of the Anapus and parallel to that river for a considerable distance, then following various roads to the right, arrived at the Euryalus, or highest pitch of Epipolæ, where he found himself in the same track by which the Athenians in coming from Katana a year and a half before—and Gylippus in coming from the interior of the island about ten months before—had passed, in order to get to the slope of Epipolæ above Syracuse. He reached, without being discovered, the extreme Syracusan fort on the high ground, assailed it completely by surprise, and captured it after a feeble resistance. Some of the garrison within it were slain; but the greater part escaped, and ran to give the alarm to the three fortified camps of Syracusans and allies, which were placed one below another behind the long continuous wall,[450] on the declivity of Epipolæ, as well as to a[p. 305] chosen regiment of six hundred Syracusan hoplites under Hermokratês,[451] who formed a night-watch, or bivouac. This regiment hastened up to the rescue, but Demosthenês and the Athenian vanguard charging impetuously forward, drove them back in disorder upon the fortified positions in their rear. Even Gylippus and the Syracusan troops advancing upwards out of these positions, were at first carried back by the same retreating movement.

So far the enterprise of Demosthenês had been successful beyond all reasonable hope. He was master not only of the outer fort of the Syracusan position, but also of the extremity of[p. 306] their counter-wall which rested upon that fort; the counter-wall was no longer defensible, now that he had got on the north or Syracusan side of it, so that the men on the parapet, where it joined the fort, made no resistance, and fled. Some of the Athenians even began to tear down the parapets, and demolish this part of the counter-wall, an operation of extreme importance, since it would have opened to Demosthenês a communication with the southern side of the counter-wall, leading directly towards the Athenian lines on Epipolæ. At any rate, his plan of turning the counter-wall was already carried, if he could only have maintained himself in his actual position, even without advancing farther, and if he could have demolished two or three hundred yards of the upper extremity of the wall now in his power. Whether it would have been possible for him to maintain himself without farther advance, until day broke, and thus avoid the unknown perils of a night-battle, we cannot say. But both he and his men, too much flushed with success to think of halting, hastened forward to complete their victory, and to prevent the disordered Syracusans from again recovering a firm array. Unfortunately, however, their ardor of pursuit—as it constantly happened with Grecian hoplites—disturbed the regularity of their own ranks, so that they were not in condition to stand the shock of the Bœotian hoplites, just emerged from their position, and marching up in steady and excellent order to the scene of action. The Bœotians charged them, and after a short resistance, broke them completely, forcing them to take flight. The fugitives of the van were thus driven back upon their own comrades advancing from behind, still under the impression of success, ignorant of what had passed in front, and themselves urged on by the fresh troops closing up in their rear.

In this manner the whole army presently became one scene of clamor and confusion wherein there was neither command nor obedience, nor could any one discern what was passing. The light of the moon rendered objects and figures generally visible, without being sufficient to discriminate friend from foe. The beaten Athenians, thrown back upon their comrades, were in many cases mistaken for enemies, and slain. The Syracusans and Bœotians, shouting aloud and pursuing their advantage, became intermingled with the foremost Athenians, and both[p. 307] armies thus grouped into knots which only distinguished each other by mutual demand of the watchword. This test also soon failed, since each party got acquainted with the watchword of the other, especially that of the Athenians, among whom the confusion was the greatest, became well known to the Syracusans, who kept together in larger parties. Above all, the effect of the pæan or war-shout on both sides was remarkable. The Dorians in the Athenian army—from Argos, Korkyra, and other places—raised a pæan not distinguishable from that of the Syracusans; accordingly, their shout struck terror into the Athenians themselves, who fancied that they had enemies in their own rear and centre. Such disorder and panic presently ended in a general flight. The Athenians hurried back by the same roads which they had ascended; but these roads were found too narrow for terrified fugitives, and many of them threw away their arms in order to scramble or jump down the cliffs, in which most of them perished. Even of those who safely effected their descent into the plain below, many—especially the new-comers belonging to the armament of Demosthenês—lost their way through ignorance, and were cut off the next day by the Syracusan horse. With terrible loss of numbers, and broken spirit, the Athenians at length found shelter within their own lines. Their loss of arms was even greater than that of men, from the throwing away of shields by those soldiers who leaped the cliff.[452]

The overjoyed Syracusans erected two trophies, one upon the road to Epipolæ, the other upon the exact and critical spot where the Bœotians had first withstood and first repelled the enemy. By this unexpected and overwhelming victory, their feelings were restored to the same pitch of confidence which had animated them before the arrival of Demosthenês. Again now masters of the field, they again indulged the hope of storming the Athenian lines and destroying the armament; to which end, however, it was thought necessary to obtain additional reinforcements, and Gylippus went in person with this commission to the various cities of Sicily, while Sikanus with fifteen triremes was despatched to Agrigentum, then understood to be wavering, and in a political crisis.[453]

[p. 308]

During this absence of Gylippus, the Athenian generals were left to mourn the recent reverse, and to discuss the exigencies of their untoward position. The whole armament was now full of discouragement and weariness; impatient to escape from a scene where fever daily thinned their numbers, and where they seemed destined to nothing but dishonor. Such painful evidences of increasing disorganization only made Demosthenês more strenuous in enforcing the resolution which he had taken before the attack on Epipolæ. He had done his best to strike one decisive blow; the chances of war had turned out against him, and inflicted a humiliating defeat; he now therefore insisted on relinquishing the whole enterprise and returning home forthwith. The season was yet favorable for the voyage (it seems to have been the beginning of August), while the triremes recently brought, as yet unused, rendered them masters at sea for the present. It was idle, he added, to waste more time and money in staying to carry on war against Syracuse, which they could not now hope to subdue, especially when Athens had so much need of them all at home, against the garrison of Dekeleia.[454]

This proposition, though espoused and seconded by Eurymedon, was peremptorily opposed by Nikias; who contended, first, that their present distress and the unpromising chances for the future, though he admitted the full reality of both, ought not nevertheless to be publicly proclaimed. A formal resolution to retire, passed in the presence of so many persons, would inevitably become known to the enemy, and therefore could never be executed with silence and secrecy,[455] as such a resolution ought to[p. 309] be. But farthermore, he (Nikias) took a decided objection to the resolution itself. He would never consent to carry back the armament, without specific authority from home to do so. Sure he was, that the Athenian people would never tolerate such a proceeding. When submitted to the public assembly at home, the conduct of the generals would be judged, not by persons who had been at Syracuse and cognizant of the actual facts, but by hearers who would learn all that they knew from the artful speeches of criminative orators. Even the citizens actually serving, though now loud in cries of suffering, and impatient to get home, would alter their tone when they were safe in the public assembly; and would turn round to denounce their generals as having been bribed to bring away the army. Speaking his own personal feelings, he knew too well the tempers of his countrymen to expose himself to the danger of thus perishing under a charge alike unmerited and disgraceful. Sooner would he incur any extremity of risk from the enemy.[456] It must be recollected too, he added, that if their affairs were now bad, those of Syracuse were as bad, and even worse. For more than a year, the war had been imposing upon the Syracusans a ruinous cost, in subsistence for foreign allies as well as in keeping up outlying posts; so that they had already spent two thousand talents, besides heavy debts contracted and not paid. They could not continue in this course longer; yet the suspension of their payments would at once alienate their allies, and leave them helpless. The cost of the war—to which Demosthenês had alluded as a reason for returning home—could be much better borne by Athens; while a little farther pressure would utterly break down the Syr[p. 310]acusans. He (Nikias) therefore advised to remain where they were and continue the siege;[457] the more so, as their fleet had now become unquestionably the superior.

Both Demosthenês and Eurymedon protested in the strongest language against the proposition of Nikias. Especially they treated the plan of remaining in the Great Harbor as fraught with ruin, and insisted, at the very least, on quitting this position without a moment’s delay. Even admitting, for argument, the scruples of Nikias against abandoning the Syracusan war without formal authority from home, they still urged an immediate transfer of their camp from the Great Harbor to Thapsus or Katana. At either of these stations they could prosecute operations against Syracuse, with all the advantage of a wider range of country for supplies, a healthier spot, and above all, of an open sea, which was absolutely indispensable to the naval tactics of Athenians; escaping from that narrow basin which condemned them to inferiority even on their own proper element. At all events to remove, and remove forthwith, out of the Great Harbor, such was the pressing requisition of Demosthenês and Eurymedon.[458]

But even to the modified motion of transferring the actual position to Thapsus or Katana, Nikias refused to consent. He insisted on remaining as they were; and it appears that Menander and Euthydemus[459]—colleagues named by the assembly at home, before the departure of the second armament—must have voted under the influence of his authority; whereby the majority became on his side. Nothing less than being in a minority, probably, would have induced Demosthenês and Eurymedon to submit, on a point of such transcendent importance.

It was thus that the Athenian armament remained without quitting the harbor, yet apparently quite inactive, during a period which cannot have been less than between three weeks and a month, until Gylippus returned to Syracuse with fresh reinforcements. Throughout the army, hope of success appears[p. 311] to have vanished, while anxiety for return had become general. The opinions of Demosthenês and Eurymedon were doubtless well known, and orders for retreat were expected, but never came. Nikias obstinately refused to give them, during the whole of this fatal interval; which plunged the army into the abyss of ruin, instead of mere failure in their aggressive enterprise.

So unaccountable did such obstinacy appear, that many persons gave Nikias credit for knowing more than he chose to reveal. Even Thucydidês thinks that he was misled by that party in Syracuse with whom he had always kept up a secret correspondence, seemingly apart from his colleagues, and who still urged him, by special messages, not to go away; assuring him that Syracuse could not possibly go on longer. Without fully trusting these intimations, he could not bring himself to act against them; and he therefore hung back from day to day, and refused to pronounce the decisive word.[460]

Nothing throughout the whole career of Nikias is so inexplicable as his guilty fatuity—for we can call it by no lighter name, seeing that it involved all the brave men around him in one common ruin with himself—at the present critical juncture. How can we suppose him to have really believed that the Syracusans, now in the flood-tide of success, and when Gylippus was gone forth to procure additional forces, would break down and be unable to carry on the war? Childish as such credulity seems, we are nevertheless compelled to admit it as real, to such an[p. 312] extent as to counterbalance all the pressing motives for departure, motives enforced by discerning colleagues as well as by the complaints of the army, and brought home to his own observation by the experience of the late naval defeat. At any rate, it served as an excuse for that fatal weakness of his character which made him incapable of taking resolutions founded on prospective calculations, and chained him to his actual position until he was driven to act by imminent necessity.

But we discern on the present occasion another motive, which counts for much in dictating his hesitation. The other generals think with satisfaction of going back to their country and rescuing the force which yet remained, even under circumstances of disappointment and failure. Not so Nikias: he knows too well the reception which he had deserved, and which might possibly be in store for him. Avowedly, indeed, he anticipates reproach from the Athenians against the generals, but only unmerited reproach, on the special ground of bringing away the army without orders from home; adding some harsh criticisms upon the injustice of the popular judgment and the perfidy of his own soldiers. But in the first place, we may remark, that Demosthenês and Eurymedon, though as much responsible as he was for this decision, had no such fear of popular injustice; or, if they had, saw clearly that the obligation of braving it was here imperative. And in the next place, no man ever had so little reason to complain of the popular judgment as Nikias. The mistakes of the people in regard to him had always been those of indulgence, over-esteem, and over-constancy. But Nikias foresaw too well that he would have more to answer for at Athens than the simple fact of sanctioning retreat under existing circumstances. He could not but remember the pride and sanguine hopes under which he had originally conducted the expedition out of Peiræus, contrasted with the miserable sequel and ignominious close, even if the account had been now closed, without worse. He could not but be conscious, more or less, how much of all this was owing to his own misjudgment; and under such impressions, the idea of meeting the free criticisms and scrutiny of his fellow-citizens—even putting aside the chance of judicial trial—must have been insupportably humiliating. To Nikias,—a perfectly brave man, and suffering withal under an[p. 313] incurable disease,—life at Athens had neither charm nor honor left. Hence, as much as from any other reason, he was induced to withhold the order for departure; clinging to the hope that some unforeseen boon of fortune might yet turn up, and yielding to the idlest delusions from correspondents in the interior of Syracuse.[461]

Nearly a month after the night-battle on Epipolæ,[462] Gylippus and Sikanus both returned to Syracuse. The latter had been unsuccessful at Agrigentum, where the philo-Syracusan party had been sent into banishment before his arrival; but Gylippus brought with him a considerable force of Sicilian Greeks, together with those Peloponnesian hoplites who had started from Cape Tænarus in the early spring, and who had made their way from Kyrênê first along the coast of Africa, and then across to Selinus. Such increase of strength immediately determined the Syracusans to resume the aggressive both by land and by sea. In the Athenians, as they saw the new allies marching in over Epipolæ, it produced a deeper despondency, combined with bitter regret that they had not adopted the proposition of departing immediately after the battle of Epipolæ, when Demosthenês first proposed it. The late interval of lingering hopeless inaction with continued sickness, had farther weakened their strength, and Demosthenês now again pressed the resolution for immediate departure. Whatever fancies Nikias may have indulged about Syracusan embarrassments, were dissipated by the arrival of Gylippus; nor did he venture to persist in his former peremptory opposition, though even now he seems to have assented against his own conviction.[463] He however insisted, with good reason, that no formal or public vote should be taken on the occasion, but that the order[p. 314] should be circulated through the camp, as privately as possible, to be ready for departure at a given signal. Intimation was sent to Katana that the armament was on the point of coming away, with orders to forward no farther supplies.[464]

This plan was proceeding successfully: the ships were made ready, much of the property of the army had already been conveyed aboard without awakening the suspicion of the enemy, the signal would have been hoisted on the ensuing morning, and within a few hours this fated armament would have found itself clear of the harbor, with comparatively small loss,[465] when the gods themselves—I speak in the language and feelings of the Athenian camp—interfered to forbid its departure. On the very night before, the 27th August, 413 B.C., which was full moon, the moon was eclipsed. Such a portent, impressive to the Athenians at all times, was doubly so under their present despondency, and many of them construed it as a divine prohibition against departure until a certain time should have elapsed, with expiatory ceremonies to take off the effect. They made known their wish for postponement to Nikias and his colleagues; but their interference was superfluous, for Nikias himself was more deeply affected than any one else. He consulted the prophets, who declared that the army ought not to decamp until thrice nine days, a full circle of the moon, should have passed over.[466] And Nikias took upon himself to announce, that until after the inter[p. 315]val indicated by them, he would not permit even any discussion or proposition on the subject.

The decision of the prophets, which Nikias thus made his own, was a sentence of death to the Athenian army, yet it went along with the general feeling, and was obeyed without hesitation. Even Demosthenês, though if he had commanded alone, he might have tried to overrule it, found himself compelled to yield. Yet according to Philochorus, himself a professional diviner, skilful in construing the religious meaning of events, it was a decision decidedly wrong; that is, wrong according to the canonical principles of divination. To men planning escape, or any other operation requiring silence and secrecy, an eclipse of the moon, as hiding light and producing darkness, was, he affirmed, an encouraging sign, and ought to have made the Athenians even more willing and forward in quitting the harbor. We are told, too, that Nikias had recently lost by death Stilbidês, the ablest prophet in his service, and that he was thus forced to have recourse to prophets of inferior ability.[467] His piety left no means untried of appeasing the gods, by prayer, sacrifice, and expiatory ceremonies, continued until the necessity of actual conflict arrived.[468]

The impediment thus finally and irreparably intercepting the Athenian departure, was the direct, though unintended, consequence of the delay previously caused by Nikias. We cannot doubt, however, that, when the eclipse first happened, he regarded it as a sign confirmatory of the opinion which he had himself before delivered, and that he congratulated himself upon having so long resisted the proposition for going away. Let us add, that all those Athenians who were predisposed to look upon eclipses as signs from heaven of calamity about to come, would find themselves strengthened in that belief by the unparalleled woes even now impending over this unhappy army.

[p. 316]

What interpretation the Syracusans, confident and victorious, put on the eclipse, we are not told. But they knew well how to interpret the fact, which speedily came to their knowledge, that the Athenians had fully resolved to make a furtive escape, and had only been prevented by the eclipse. Such a resolution, amounting to an unequivocal confession of helplessness, emboldened the Syracusans yet farther, to crush them as they were in the harbor, and never to permit them to occupy even any other post in Sicily. Accordingly, Gylippus caused his triremes to be manned and practised for several days: he then drew out his land-force, and made a demonstration of no great significance against the Athenian lines. On the morrow, he brought out all his forces, both land and naval; with the former of which he beset the Athenian lines, while the fleet, seventy-six triremes in number, was directed to sail up to the Athenian naval station. The Athenian fleet, eighty-six triremes strong, sailed out to meet it, and a close, general, and desperate action took place. The fortune of Athens had fled. The Syracusans first beat the centre division of the Athenians; next, the right division under Eurymedon, who in attempting an evolution to outflank the enemy’s left, forgot those narrow limits of the harbor which were at every turn the ruin of the Athenian mariner, neared the land too much, and was pinned up against it, in the recess of Daskon, by the vigorous attack of the Syracusans. He was here slain, and his division destroyed: successively, the entire Athenian fleet was beaten and driven ashore.

Few of the defeated ships could get into their own station. Most of them were forced ashore or grounded on points without those limits; upon which Gylippus marched down his land-force to the water’s edge, in order to prevent the retreat of the crews as well as to assist the Syracusan seamen in hauling off the ships as prizes. His march, however, was so hurried and disorderly, that the Tyrrhenian troops, on guard at the flank of the Athenian station, sallied out against them as they approached, beat the foremost of them, and drove them away from the shore into the marsh called Lysimeleia. More Syracusan troops came to their aid; but the Athenians also, anxious above all things for the protection of their ships, came forth in greater numbers; and a general battle ensued in which the latter were victorious. Though they[p. 317] did not inflict much loss upon the enemy, yet they saved most of their own triremes which had been driven ashore, together with the crews, and carried them into the naval station. Except for this success on land, the entire Athenian fleet would have been destroyed: as it was, the defeat was still complete, and eighteen triremes were lost, all their crews being slain. This was probably the division of Eurymedon, which having been driven ashore in the recess of Daskon, was too far off from the Athenian station to receive any land assistance. As the Athenians were hauling in their disabled triremes, the Syracusans made a last effort to destroy them by means of a fireship, for which the wind happened to be favorable. But the Athenians found means to prevent her approach, and to extinguish the flames.[469]

Here was a complete victory gained over Athens on her own element, gained with inferior numbers, gained even over the fresh and yet formidable fleet recently brought by Demosthenês. It told but too plainly on which side the superiority now lay, how well the Syracusans had organized their naval strength for the specialties of their own harbor, how ruinous had been the folly of Nikias in retaining his excellent seamen imprisoned within that petty and unwholesome lake, where land and water alike did the work of their enemies. It not only disheartened the Athenians, but belied all their past experience, and utterly confounded them. Sickness of the whole enterprise, and repentance for having undertaken it, now became uppermost in their minds: yet it is remarkable that we hear of no complaints against Nikias separately.[470] But repentance came too late. The Syracusans, fully alive to the importance of their victory, sailed round the harbor in triumph as again their own,[471] and already looked on the enemy within it as their prisoners. They determined to close up and guard the mouth of it, from Plemmyrium to Ortygia, so as to leave no farther liberty of exit.

Nor were they insensible how vastly the scope of the contest[p. 318] was now widened, and the value of the stake before them enhanced. It was not merely to rescue their own city from siege, nor even to repel and destroy the besieging army, that they were now contending. It was to extinguish the entire power of Athens, and liberate the half of Greece from dependence; for Athens could never be expected to survive so terrific a loss as that of the entire double armament before Syracuse.[472] The Syracusans exulted in the thought that this great achievement would be theirs, that their city was the field, and their navy the chief instrument of victory: a lasting source of glory to them, not merely in the eyes of contemporaries, but even in those of posterity. Their pride swelled when they reflected on the Pan-Hellenic importance which the siege of Syracuse had now acquired, and when they counted up the number and variety of Greek warriors who were now fighting, on one side or the other, between Euryalus and Plemmyrium. With the exception of the great struggle between Athens and the Peloponnesian confederacy, never before had combatants so many and so miscellaneous been engaged under the same banners. Greeks, continental and insular, Ionic, Doric, and Æolic, autonomous and dependent, volunteers and mercenaries, from Miletus and Chios in the east to Selinus in the west, were all here to be found; and not merely Greeks, but also the barbaric Sikels, Egestæans, Tyrrhenians, and Iapygians. If the Lacædemonians, Corinthians, and Bœotians were fighting on the side of Syracuse, the Argeians and Mantineians, not to mention the great insular cities, stood in arms against her. The jumble of kinship among the combatants on both sides, as well as the cross action of different local antipathies, is put in lively antithesis by Thucydidês.[473] But amidst so vast an assembled number, of which they were the chiefs, the paymasters, and the centre of combination, the Syracusans might well feel a sense of personal aggrandizement, and a consciousness of the great blow which they were about to strike, sufficient to exalt them for the time above the level even of their great Dorian chiefs in Peloponnesus.

It was their first operation, occupying three days, to close up the mouth of the Great Harbor, which was nearly one mile[p. 319] broad, with vessels of every description, triremes, traders, boats, etc., anchored in an oblique direction, and chained together.[474] They at the same time prepared their naval force with redoubled zeal for the desperate struggle which they knew to be coming. They then awaited the efforts of the Athenians, who watched their proceedings with sadness and anxiety.

Nikias and his colleagues called together the principal officers to deliberate what was to be done. As they had few provisions remaining, and had counter-ordered their farther supplies, some instant and desperate effort was indispensable; and the only point in debate was, whether they should burn their fleet and retire by land, or make a fresh maritime exertion to break out of the harbor. Such had been the impression left by the recent sea-fight, that many in the camp leaned to the former scheme.[475] But the generals resolved upon first trying the latter, and exhausted all their combinations to give to it the greatest possible effect. They now evacuated the upper portion of their lines, both on the higher ground of Epipolæ, and even on the lower ground, such portion as was nearest to the southern cliff; confining themselves to a limited fortified space close to the shore, just adequate for their sick, their wounded, and their stores; in order to spare the necessity for a large garrison to defend them, and thus leave nearly their whole force disposable for sea-service. They then made ready every trireme in the station, which could be rendered ever so imperfectly seaworthy, constraining every fit man to serve aboard them, without distinction of age, rank, or country. The triremes were manned with double crews of soldiers, hoplites as well as bowmen and darters, the latter mostly Akarnanians; while the hoplites, stationed at the prow with orders to board the enemy as quickly as possible, were furnished with grappling-irons to detain the enemy’s ship immediately after the moment of collision, in order that it might not be withdrawn and the collision repeated, with all its injurious effects arising from the strength and massiveness of the Syracusan epôtids. The best consultation was held with the steersmen as to arrangement and manœuvres of every trireme, nor was any precaution omitted which the scanty means at hand allowed. In the well-known[p. 320] impossibility of obtaining new provisions, every man was anxious to hurry on the struggle.[476] But Nikias, as he mustered them on the shore immediately before going aboard, saw but too plainly that it was the mere stress of desperation which impelled them; that the elasticity, the disciplined confidence, the maritime pride, habitual to the Athenians on shipboard, was extinct, or dimly and faintly burning.

He did his best to revive them, by exhortations unusually emphatic and impressive. “Recollect (he said) that you too, not less than the Syracusans, are now fighting for your own safety and for your country; for it is only by victory in the coming struggle that any of you can ever hope to see his country again. Yield not to despair like raw recruits after a first defeat; you, Athenians and allies, familiar with the unexpected revolutions of war, will hope now for the fair turn of fortune, and fight with a spirit worthy of the great force which you see here around you. We generals have now made effective provision against our two great disadvantages, the narrow circuit of the harbor, and the thickness of the enemy’s prows.[477] Sad as the necessity is, we have thrown aside all our Athenian skill and tactics, and have prepared to fight under the conditions forced upon us by the enemy, a land-battle on shipboard.[478] It will be for you to conquer in this last desperate struggle, where there is no friendly shore to receive you if you give way. You, hoplites on the deck, as soon as you have the enemy’s trireme in contact, keep him fast, and relax not until you have swept away his hoplites and mastered his deck. You, seamen and rowers, must yet keep up your courage, in spite of this sad failure in our means, and subversion of our tactics. You are better defended on deck above, and you have more triremes to help you, than in the recent defeat. Such of you, as are not Athenian citizens, I entreat to recollect the valuable privileges which you have hitherto enjoyed from serving in the navy of Athens. Though[p. 321] not really citizens, you have been reputed and treated as such; you have acquired our dialect, you have copied our habits, and have thus enjoyed the admiration, the imposing station, and the security, arising from our great empire.[479] Partaking as you do freely in the benefits of that empire, do not now betray it to these Sicilians and Corinthians whom you have so often beaten. For such of you as are Athenians, I again remind you that Athens has neither fresh triremes, nor fresh hoplites, to replace those now here. Unless you are now victorious, her enemies near home will find her defenceless; and our countrymen there will become slaves to Sparta, as you will to Syracuse. Recollect, every man of you, that you now going aboard here are the all of Athens,—her hoplites, her ships, her entire remaining city, and her splendid name.[480] Bear up then and conquer, every man with his best mettle, in this one last struggle, for Athens as well as yourselves, and on an occasion which will never return.”

If, in translating the despatch written home ten months before by Nikias to the people of Athens, we were compelled to remark, that the greater part of it was the bitterest condemnation of his[p. 322] own previous policy as commander, so we are here carried back, when we find him striving to palliate the ruinous effects of that confined space of water which paralyzed the Athenian seamen, to his own obstinate improvidence in forbidding the egress of the fleet when insisted on by Demosthenês. His hearers probably were too much absorbed with the terrible present, to revert to irremediable mistakes of the past. Immediately on the conclusion of his touching address, the order was given to go aboard, and the seamen took their places. But when the triremes were fully manned, and the trierarchs, after superintending the embarkation, were themselves about to enter and push off, the agony of Nikias was too great to be repressed. Feeling more keenly than any man the intensity of this last death-struggle, and the serious, but inevitable, shortcomings of the armament in its present condition, he still thought that he had not said enough for the occasion. He now renewed his appeal personally to the trierarchs, all of them citizens of rank and wealth at Athens. They were all familiarly known to him, and he addressed himself to every man separately by his own name, his father’s name, and his tribe, adjuring him by the deepest and most solemn motives which could touch the human feelings. Some he reminded of their own previous glories, others of the achievements of illustrious ancestors, imploring them not to dishonor or betray these precious titles: to all alike he recalled the charm of their beloved country, with its full political freedom and its unconstrained license of individual agency to every man: to all alike he appealed in the names of their wives, their children, and their paternal gods. He cared not for being suspected of trenching upon the common places of rhetoric: he caught at every topic which could touch the inmost affections, awaken the inbred patriotism, and rekindle the abated courage of the officers, whom he was sending forth to this desperate venture. He at length constrained himself to leave off, still fancying in his anxiety that he ought to say more, and proceeded to marshal the land-force for the defence of the lines, as well as along the shore, where they might render as much service and as much encouragement as possible to the combatants on shipboard.[481]

[p. 323]

Very different was the spirit prevalent, and very opposite the burning words uttered, on the seaboard of the Syracusan station, as the leaders were mustering their men immediately before embarkation. They had been apprized of the grappling-irons now about to be employed by the Athenians, and had guarded against them in part by stretching hides along their bows, so that the “iron hand” might slip off without acquiring any hold. The preparatory movements even within the Athenian station being perfectly visible, Gylippus sent the fleet out with the usual prefatory harangue. He complimented them on the great achievements which they had already performed in breaking down the naval power of Athens, so long held irresistible.[482] He reminded them that the sally of their enemies was only a last effort of despair, seeking nothing but escape, undertaken without confidence in themselves, and under the necessity of throwing aside all their own tactics in order to copy feebly those of the Syracusans.[483] He called upon them to recollect the destructive purposes which the invaders had brought with them against Syracuse, to inflict with resentful hand the finishing stroke upon this half-ruined armament, and to taste the delight of satiating a legitimate revenge.[484]

The Syracusan fleet—seventy-six triremes strong, as in the last battle—was the first to put off from shore; Pythen with the Corinthians in the centre, Sikanus and Agatharchus on the wings. A certain proportion of them were placed near the mouth of the harbor, in order to guard the barrier; while the rest were distributed around the harbor in order to attack the Athenians from different sides as soon as they should approach. Moreover, the surface of the harbor swarmed with the light craft of the Syracusans, in many of which embarked youthful volun[p. 324]teers, sons of the best families in the city;[485] boats of no mean service during the battle, saving or destroying the seamen cast overboard from disabled ships, as well as annoying the fighting Athenian triremes. The day was one sacred to Hêraklês at Syracuse; and the prophets announced that the god would insure victory to the Syracusans, provided they stood on the defensive, and did not begin the attack.[486] Moreover, the entire shore round the harbor, except the Athenian station and its immediate neighborhood, was crowded with Syracusan soldiers and spectators; while the walls of Ortygia, immediately overhanging the water, were lined with the feebler population of the city, the old men, women, and children. From the Athenian station presently came forth one hundred and ten triremes, under Demosthenês, Menander, and Euthydêmus, with the customary pæan, its tone probably partaking of the general sadness of the camp. They steered across direct to the mouth of the harbor, beholding on all sides the armed enemies ranged along the shore, as well as the unarmed multitudes who were imprecating the vengeance of the gods upon their heads; while for them there was no sympathy, except among the fellow-sufferers within their own lines. Inside of this narrow basin, rather more than five English miles in circuit, one hundred and ninety-four ships of war, each manned with more than two hundred men, were about to join battle, in the presence of countless masses around, all with palpitating hearts, and near enough both to see and hear; the most picturesque battle—if we could abstract our minds from its terrible interest[p. 325] —probably in history, without smoke or other impediments to vision, and in the clear atmosphere of Sicily, a serious and magnified realization of those naumachiæ which the Roman emperors used to exhibit with gladiators on the Italian lakes, for the recreation of the people.

The Athenian fleet made directly for that portion of the barrier where a narrow opening—perhaps closed by a movable chain—had been left for merchant-vessels. Their first impetuous attack broke through the Syracusan squadron defending it, and they were already attempting to sever its connecting bonds, when the enemy from all sides crowded in upon them and forced them to desist. Presently the battle became general, and the combatants were distributed in various parts of the harbor. On both sides a fierce and desperate courage was displayed, even greater than had been shown on any of the former occasions. At the first onset, the skill and tactics of the steersmen shone conspicuous, well seconded by zeal on the part of the rowers and by their ready obedience to the voice of the keleustês. As the vessels neared, the bowmen, slingers, and throwers on the deck, hurled clouds of missiles against the enemy; next, was heard the loud crash of the two impinging metallic fronts, resounding all along the shore.[487] When the vessels were thus once in contact, they were rarely allowed to separate: a strenuous hand-fight then commenced by the hoplites in each, trying respectively to board and master their enemy’s deck. It was not always, however, that each trireme had its own single and special enemy: sometimes one ship had[p. 326] two or three enemies to contend with at once, sometimes she fell aboard of one unsought, and became entangled. After a certain time, the fight still obstinately continuing, all sort of battle order became lost; the skill of the steersman was of little avail, and the voice of the keleustês was drowned amidst the universal din and mingled cries from victors as well as vanquished. On both sides emulous exhortations were poured forth, together with reproach and sarcasm addressed to any ship which appeared flinching from the contest; though factitious stimulus of this sort was indeed but little needed.

Such was the heroic courage on both sides, that for a long time victory was altogether doubtful, and the whole harbor was a scene of partial encounters, wherein sometimes Syracusans, sometimes Athenians, prevailed. According as success thus fluctuated, so followed the cheers or wailings of the spectators ashore. At one and the same time, every variety of human emotion might be witnessed; according as attention was turned towards a victorious or a defeated ship. It was among the spectators in the Athenian station above all, whose entire life and liberty were staked in the combat, that this emotion might be seen exaggerated into agony, and overpassing the excitement even of the combatants themselves.[488] Those among them who looked towards a portion of the harbor where their friends seemed winning, were full of joy and thanksgiving to the gods: such of their neighbors who contemplated an Athenian ship in difficulty, gave vent to their feelings in shrieks and lamentation; while a third group, with their eyes fixed on some portion of the combat still disputed, were plunged in all the agitations of doubt, manifested even in the tremulous swing of their bodies, as hope or fear alternately predominated. During all the time that the combat remained undecided, the Athenians ashore were distracted by all these manifold varieties of intense sympathy. But at length the moment came, after a long-protracted struggle, when victory began to declare in favor of the Syracusans, who, perceiving that their enemies were slackening, redoubled their shouts as well as their efforts, and pushed them all back towards the land. All the Athenian triremes, abandoning farther resistance, were thrust ashore like shipwrecked[p. 327] vessels in or near their own station; a few being even captured before they could arrive there. The diverse manifestations of sympathy among the Athenians in the station itself were now exchanged for one unanimous shriek of agony and despair. The boldest of them rushed to rescue the ships and their crews from pursuit, others to man their walls in case of attack from land: many were even paralyzed at the sight, and absorbed with the thoughts of their own irretrievable ruin. Their souls were doubtless still farther subdued by the wild and enthusiastic joy which burst forth in maddening shouts from the hostile crowds around the harbor, in response to their own victorious comrades on shipboard.

Such was the close of this awful, heart-stirring, and decisive combat. The modern historian strives in vain to convey the impression of it which appears in the condensed and burning phrases of Thucydidês. We find in his description of battles generally, and of this battle beyond all others, a depth and abundance of human emotion which has now passed out of military proceedings. The Greeks who fight, like the Greeks who look on, are not soldiers withdrawn from the community, and specialized as well as hardened by long professional training, but citizens with all the passions, instincts, sympathies, joys, and sorrows of domestic as well as political life. Moreover, the non-military population in ancient times had an interest of the most intense kind in the result of the struggle; which made the difference to them, if not of life and death, at least of the extremity of happiness and misery. Hence the strong light and shade, the Homeric exhibition of undisguised impulse, the tragic detail of personal motive and suffering, which pervades this and other military descriptions of Thucydidês. When we read the few but most vehement words which he employs to depict the Athenian camp under this fearful trial, we must recollect that these were not only men whose all was at stake, but that they were moreover citizens full of impressibility, sensitive and demonstrative Greeks; and, indeed, the most sensitive and demonstrative of all Greeks. To repress all manifestations of strong emotion was not considered in ancient times essential to the dignity of the human character.

Amidst all the deep pathos, however, which the great historian[p. 328] has imparted to the final battle at Syracuse, he has not explained the causes upon which its ultimate issue turned. Considering that the Athenians were superior to their enemies in number, as one hundred and ten to seventy-six triremes, that they fought with courage not less heroic, and that the action was on their own element, we might have anticipated for them, if not a victory, at least a drawn battle, with equal loss on both sides. But we may observe, 1. The number of one hundred and ten triremes was formed by including some hardly seaworthy.[489] 2. The crews were composed partly of men not used to sea-service; and the Akarnanian darters, especially, were for this reason unhandy with their missiles.[490] 3. Though the water had been hitherto the element favorable to Athens, yet her superiority in this respect was declining, and her enemies approaching nearer to her, even in the open sea. But the narrow dimensions of the harbor would have nullified her superiority at all times, and placed her even at great disadvantage,—without the means of twisting and turning her triremes so as to strike only at a vulnerable point of the enemy,—compared with the thick, heavy, straightforward butting of the Syracusans; like a nimble pugilist of light weight contending, in a very confined ring, against superior weight and muscle.[491] For the mere land-fight on shipboard, Athenians had not only no advantage, but had on the contrary the odds against them. 4. The Syracusans enjoyed great advantage from having nearly the whole harbor lined round with their soldiers and friends; not simply from the force of encouraging sympathy, no[p. 329] mean auxiliary, but because any of their triremes, if compelled to fall back before an Athenian, found protection on the shore, and could return to the fight at leisure; while an Athenian in the same predicament had no escape. 5. The numerous light craft of the Syracusans doubtless rendered great service in this battle, as they had done in the preceding, though Thucydidês does not again mention them. 6. Lastly, both in the Athenian and Syracusan characters, the pressure of necessity was less potent as a stimulus to action, than hopeful confidence and elation, with the idea of a flood-tide yet mounting. In the character of some other races, the Jews for instance, the comparative force of these motives appears to be the other way.

About sixty Athenian triremes, little more than half of the fleet which came forth, were saved as the wreck from this terrible conflict. The Syracusans on their part had suffered severely; only fifty triremes remaining out of seventy-six. The triumph with which, nevertheless, on returning to the city, they erected their trophy, and the exultation which reigned among the vast crowds encircling the harbor, was beyond all measure or precedent. Its clamorous manifestations were doubtless but too well heard in the neighboring camp of the Athenians, and increased, if anything could increase, the soul-subduing extremity of distress which paralyzed the vanquished. So utterly did the pressure of suffering, anticipated as well as actual, benumb their minds and extinguish their most sacred associations, that no man among them, not even the ultra-religious Nikias, thought of picking up the floating bodies or asking for a truce to bury the dead. This obligation, usually so serious and imperative upon the survivors after a battle, now passed unheeded amidst the sorrow, terror, and despair, of the living man for himself.

Such despair, however, was not shared by the generals, to their honor be it spoken. On the afternoon of this terrible defeat, Demosthenês proposed to Nikias that at daybreak the ensuing morning they should man all the remaining ships—even now more in number than the Syracusan—and make a fresh attempt to break out of the harbor. To this Nikias agreed, and both proceeded to try their influence in getting the resolution executed. But so irreparably was the spirit of the seamen broken, that nothing could prevail upon them to go again on shipboard: they[p. 330] would hear of nothing but attempting to escape by land.[492] Preparations were therefore made for commencing their march in the darkness of that very night. The roads were still open, and, had they so marched, a portion of them, at least, might even yet have been saved.[493] But there occurred one more mistake, one farther postponement, which cut off the last hopes of this gallant and fated remnant.

The Syracusan Hermokratês, fully anticipating that the Athenians would decamp that very night, was eager to prevent their retreat, because of the mischief which they might do if established in any other part of Sicily. He pressed Gylippus and the military authorities to send out forthwith, and block up the principal roads, passes, and fords, by which the fugitives would get off. Though sensible of the wisdom of his advice, the generals thought it wholly unexecutable. Such was the universal and unbounded joy which now pervaded the city, in consequence of the recent victory, still farther magnified by the circumstance that the day was sacred to Hêraklês,—so wild the jollity, the feasting, the intoxication, the congratulations, amidst men rewarding themselves after their recent effort and triumph, and amidst the necessary care for the wounded,—that an order to arm and march out would have been as little listened to as the order to go on shipboard was by the desponding Athenians. Perceiving that he could get nothing done until the next morning, Hermokratês resorted to a stratagem in order to delay the departure of the Athenians for that night. At the moment when darkness was beginning, he sent down some confidential friends on horseback to the Athenian wall. These men, riding up near enough to make themselves heard, and calling for the sentries, addressed them as messengers from the private correspondents of Nikias in Syracuse, who had sent to warn him, they affirmed, not to decamp during the night, inasmuch as the Syracusans had already beset and occupied the roads; but to begin his march quietly the next morning after adequate preparation.[494]

This fraud—the same as the Athenians had themselves practised two years before,[495] in order to tempt the Syracusans to[p. 331] march out against Katana—was perfectly successful: the sincerity of the information was believed, and the advice adopted. Had Demosthenês been in command alone, we may doubt whether he would have been so easily duped; for granting the accuracy of the fact asserted, it was not the less obvious that the difficulties, instead of being diminished, would be increased tenfold on the following day. We have seen, however, on more than one previous occasion, how fatally Nikias was misled by his treacherous advices from the philo-Athenians at Syracuse. An excuse for inaction was always congenial to his character; and the present recommendation, moreover, fell in but too happily with the temper of the army, now benumbed with depression and terror, like those unfortunate soldiers, in the Retreat of the Ten Thousand Greeks, who were yielding to the lethargy of extreme cold on the snows of Armenia, and whom Xenophon vainly tried to arouse.[496] Having remained over that night, the generals determined also to stay the next day,—in order that the army might carry away with them as much of their baggage as possible,—sending forward a messenger to the Sikels in the interior to request that they would meet the army, and bring with them a supply of provisions.[497] Gylippus and Hermokratês had thus ample time, on the following day, to send out forces and occupy all the positions convenient for obstructing the Athenian march. They at the same time towed into Syracuse as prizes all the Athenian triremes which had been driven ashore in the recent battle, and which now lay like worthless hulks, unguarded and unheeded,[498] seemingly even those within the station itself.

It was on the next day but one after the maritime defeat that Nikias and Demosthenês put their army in motion to attempt retreat. The camp had long been a scene of sickness and death from the prevalence of marsh fever; but since the recent battle the number of wounded men, and the unburied bodies of the slain, had rendered it yet more pitiable. Forty thousand miserable men—so prodigious was the total, including all ranks and functions—now set forth to quit it, on a march of which few could hope to see the end; like the pouring forth of the population of a[p. 332] large city starved out by blockade. Many had little or no provisions to carry, so low had the stock become reduced; but of those who had, every man carried his own, even the horsemen and hoplites, now for the first time either already left without slaves, by desertion, or knowing that no slave could now be trusted. But neither such melancholy equality of suffering, nor the number of sufferers, counted for much in the way of alleviation. A downcast stupor and sense of abasement possessed every man; the more intolerable, when they recollected the exit of the armament from Peiræus two years before, with prayers, and solemn pæans, and all the splendid dreams of conquest, set against the humiliation of the closing scene now before them, without a single trireme left out of two prodigious fleets.

But it was not until the army had actually begun its march that the full measure of wretchedness was felt and manifested. It was then that the necessity first became proclaimed, which no one probably spoke out beforehand, of leaving behind not merely the unburied bodies, but also the sick and the wounded. The scenes of woe which marked this hour passed endurance or description. The departing soldier sorrowed and shuddered with the sentiment of an unperformed duty, as he turned from the unburied bodies of the slain; but far more terrible was the trial, when he had to tear himself from the living sufferers, who implored their comrades, with wailings of agony and distraction, not to abandon them. Appealing to all the claims of pious friendship, they clung round their knees, and even crawled along the line of march until their strength failed. The silent dejection of the previous day was now exchanged for universal tears and groans, and clamorous outbursts of sorrow, amidst which the army could not without the utmost difficulty be disengaged and put in motion.

After such heart-rending scenes, it might seem that their cup of bitterness was exhausted; but worse was yet in store, and the terrors of the future dictated a struggle against all the miseries of past and present. The generals did their best to keep up some sense of order as well as courage; and Nikias, particularly, in this closing hour of his career, displayed a degree of energy and heroism which he had never before seemed to possess. Though himself among the greatest personal sufferers of all,[p. 333] from his incurable complaint, he was seen everywhere in the ranks marshalling the troops, heartening up their dejection, and addressing them with a voice louder, more strenuous, and more commanding than was his wont.

“Keep up your hope still, Athenians (he said), even as we are now: others have been saved out of circumstances worse than ours. Be not too much humiliated, either with your defeats or with your present unmerited hardships. I too, having no advantage over any of you in strength,—nay, you see the condition to which I have been brought by my disease,—and accustomed even to superior splendor and good fortune in private as well as public life, I too am plunged in the same peril with the humblest soldier among you. Nevertheless, my conduct has been constantly pious towards the gods as well as just and blameless towards men; in recompense for which, my hope for the future is yet sanguine, at the same time that our actual misfortunes do not appall me in proportion to their intrinsic magnitude.[499] Perhaps,[p. 334] indeed, they may from this time forward abate; for our enemies have had their full swing of good fortune, and if, at the moment of our starting, we were under the jealous wrath of any of the[p. 335] gods, we have already undergone chastisement amply sufficient. Other people before us have invaded foreign lands, and after having done what was competent to human power, have suffered what was within the limit of human endurance. We too may reasonably hope henceforward to have the offended god dealing with us more mildly, for we are now objects fitter for his compassion than for his jealousy.[500] Look, moreover, at your own ranks, hoplites so numerous and so excellent: let that guard you against excessive despair, and recollect that, wherever you may sit down, you are yourselves at once a city; nor is there any other city in[p. 336] Sicily that can either repulse your attack or expel you if you choose to stay. Be careful yourselves to keep your march firm and orderly, every man of you with this conviction, that whatever spot he may be forced to fight in, that spot is his country and his fortress, and must be kept by victorious effort. As our provisions are very scanty, we shall hasten on night and day alike; and so soon as you reach any friendly village of the Sikels, who still remain constant to us from hatred to Syracuse, then consider yourselves in security. We have sent forward to apprize them, and intreat them to meet us with supplies. Once more, soldiers, recollect that to act like brave men is now a matter of necessity to you, and that if you falter, there is no refuge for you anywhere. Whereas if you now get clear of your enemies, such of you as are not Athenians will again enjoy the sight of home, while such of you as are Athenians will live to renovate the great power of our city, fallen though it now be. It is men that make a city; not walls, nor ships without men.[501]

The efforts of both commanders were in full harmony with these strenuous words. The army was distributed into two divisions; the hoplites marching in a hollow oblong, with the baggage and unarmed in the interior. The front division was commanded by Nikias, the rear by Demosthenês. Directing their course towards the Sikel territory, in the interior of the island, they first marched along the left bank of the Anapus until they came to the ford of that river, which they found guarded by a Syracusan detachment. They forced the passage, however, without much resistance, and accomplished on that day a march of about five miles, under the delay arising from the harassing of the enemy’s cavalry and light troops. Encamping for that night on an eminence, they recommenced their march with the earliest dawn, and halted, after about two miles and a half, in a deserted village on a plain. They were in hopes of finding some provisions in the houses, and were even under the necessity of carrying along with them some water from this spot; there being none to be found farther on. As their intended line of march had now become evident, the Syracusans profited by this halt to get[p. 337] on before them, and to occupy in force a position on the road, called the Akræan cliff. Here the road, ascending a high hill, formed a sort of ravine bordered on each side by steep cliffs. The Syracusans erected a wall or barricade across the whole breadth of the road, and occupied the high ground on each side. But even to reach this pass was beyond the competence of the Athenians; so impracticable was it to get over the ground in the face of overwhelming attacks from the enemy’s cavalry and light troops. They were compelled, after a short march, to retreat to their camp of the night before.[502]

Every hour added to the distress of their position; for their food was all but exhausted, nor could any man straggle from the main body without encountering certain destruction from the cavalry. Accordingly, on the next morning, they tried one more desperate effort to get over the hilly ground into the interior. Starting very early, they arrived at the foot of the hill called the Akræan cliff, where they found the barricades placed across the road, with deep files of Syracusan hoplites behind them, and crowds of light troops lining the cliffs on each border. They made the most strenuous and obstinate efforts to force this inexpugnable position, but all their struggles were vain, while they suffered miserably from the missiles of the troops above. Amidst all the discouragement of this repulse, they were yet farther disheartened by storms of thunder and lightning, which occurred during the time, and which they construed as portents significant of their impending ruin.[503]

This fact strikingly illustrates both the change which the last two years had wrought in the contending parties, and the degree to which such religious interpretations of phenomena depended for their efficacy on predisposing temper, gloomy or cheerful. In the first battle between Nikias and the Syracusans, near the Great Harbor, some months before the siege was begun, a similar thunder-storm had taken place: on that occasion the Athenian soldiers had continued the battle unmoved, treating it as a natural event belonging to the season, and such indifference on their part[p. 338] had still farther imposed upon the alarmed Syracusans.[504] Now, both the self-confidence and the religious impression had changed sides.

Exhausted by their fruitless efforts, the Athenians fell back a short space to repose, when Gylippus tried to surround them by sending a detachment to block up the narrow road in their rear. This, however, they prevented, effecting their retreat into the open plain, where they passed the night, and on the ensuing day attempted once more the hopeless march over the Akræan cliff. But they were not allowed even to advance so far as the pass and the barricade. They were so assailed and harassed by the cavalry and darters, in flank and rear, that, in spite of heroic effort and endurance, they could not accomplish a progress of so much as one single mile. Extenuated by fatigue, half-starved, and with numbers of wounded men, they were compelled to spend a third miserable night in the same fatal plain.

As soon as the Syracusans had retired for the night to their camp, Nikias and Demosthenês took counsel. They saw plainly that the route which they had originally projected, over the Akræan cliff into the Sikel regions of the interior and from thence to Katana, had become impracticable, and that their unhappy troops would be still less in condition to force it on the morrow than they had been on the day preceding. Accordingly, they resolved to make off during the night, leaving numerous fires burning to mislead the enemy; but completely to alter the direction, and to turn down towards the southern coast on which lay Kamarina and Gela. Their guides informed them that if they could cross the river Kakyparis, which fell into the sea south of Syracuse, on the southeastern coast of Sicily, or a river still farther on, called the Erineus,—they might march up the right bank of either into the regions of the interior. Accordingly, they broke up in the night, amidst confusion and alarm; in spite of which, the front division of the army under Nikias got into full march, and made considerable advance. By daybreak this division reached the southeastern coast of the island not far south of Syracuse, and fell into the track of the Helôrine road, which they pursued until they arrived at the Kakyparis. Even here,[p. 339] however, they found a Syracusan detachment beforehand with them, raising a redoubt, and blocking up the ford; nor could Nikias pass it without forcing his way through them. He marched straightforward to the Erineus, which he crossed on the same day, and encamped his troops on some high ground on the other side.[505]

Except at the ford of the Kakyparis, his march had been all day unobstructed by the enemy; and he thought it wiser to push hid troops as fast as possible, in order to arrive at some place both of safety and subsistence, without concerning himself about the rear division under Demosthenês. That division, the larger half of the army, started both later and in great disorder. Unaccountable panics and darkness made them part company or miss their way, so that Demosthenês, with all his efforts to keep them together, made little progress, and fell much behind Nikias. He was overtaken by the Syracusans during the forenoon, seemingly before he reached the Kakyparis,[506] and at a moment when[p. 340] the foremost division was nearly six miles ahead, between the Kakyparis and the Erineus.

When the Syracusans discovered at dawn that their enemy had made off in the night, their first impulse was to accuse Gylippus of treachery in having permitted the escape. Such ungrateful surmises, however, were soon dissipated, and the cavalry set forth in rapid pursuit, until they overtook the rear division, which they immediately began to attack and impede. The advance of Demosthenês had been tardy before, and his division disorganized: but he was now compelled to turn and defend himself against an indefatigable enemy, who presently got before him and thus stopped him altogether. Their numerous light troops and cavalry assailed him on all sides and without intermission; employing nothing but missiles, however, and taking care to avoid any close encounter. While this unfortunate division were exerting their best efforts both to defend themselves, and if possible to get forward, they found themselves inclosed in a walled olive-ground, through the middle of which the road passed; a farm bearing the name, and probably once the property, of Polyzêlus, brother of the despot Gelon.[507] Entangled and huddled up in this inclosure, from whence exit at the farther end in the face of an enemy was found impossible, they were now overwhelmed with hostile missiles from the walls on all sides.[508] Though unable to get at the en[p. 341]emy, and deprived even of the resources of an active despair, they endured incessant harassing for the greater part of the day, without refreshment or repose, and with the number of their wounded continually increasing; until at length the remaining spirit of the unhappy sufferers was thoroughly broken. Perceiving their condition, Gylippus sent to them a herald with a proclamation; inviting all the islanders among them to come forth from the rest, and promising them freedom if they did so. The inhabitants of some cities, yet not many,—a fact much to their honor,—availed themselves of this offer and surrendered. Presently, however, a larger negotiation was opened, which ended by the entire division capitulating upon terms, and giving up their arms. Gylippus and the Syracusans engaged that the lives of all should be spared; that is, that none should be put to death either by violence, or by intolerable bonds, or by starvation. Having all been disarmed, they were forthwith conveyed away as prisoners to Syracuse, six thousand in number. It is a remarkable proof of the easy and opulent circumstances of many among these gallant sufferers, when we are told that the money which they had about them, even at this last moment of pressure, was sufficient to fill the concavities of four shields.[509] Disdaining either to surrender or to make any stipulation for himself personally, Demosthenês was on the point of killing himself with his own sword the moment that the capitulation was concluded; but his intention was prevented, and he was carried off a disarmed prisoner by the Syracusans.[510]

[p. 342]

On the next day, Gylippus and the victorious Syracusans overtook Nikias on the right bank of the Erineus, apprized him of the capitulation of Demosthenês, and summoned him to capitulate also. He demanded leave to send a horseman for the purpose of verifying the statement; and on the return of the horseman, he made a proposition to Gylippus, that his army should be permitted to return home, on condition of Athens reimbursing to Syracuse the whole expense of the war, and furnishing hostages until payment should be made; one citizen against each talent of silver. These conditions were rejected; but Nikias could not yet bring himself to submit to the same terms for his division as Demosthenês. Accordingly, the Syracusans recommenced their attacks, which the Athenians, in spite of hunger and fatigue, sustained as they best could until night. It was the intention of Nikias again to take advantage of the night for the purpose of getting away. But on this occasion the Syracusans were on the watch, and as soon as they heard movement in the camp, they raised the pæan, or war-shout; thus showing that they were on the lookout, and inducing the Athenians again to lay down the arms which they had taken up for departure. A detachment of three hundred Athenians, nevertheless, still persisting in marching off, apart from the rest, forced their way through the posts of the Syracusans. These men got safely away, and nothing but the want of guides prevented them from escaping altogether.[511]

During all this painful retreat, the personal resolution displayed by Nikias was exemplary; his sick and feeble frame was made to bear up, and even to hearten up stronger men, against the extremity of hardship, exhausting the last fragment of hope or even possibility. It was now the sixth day of the retreat,—six days[512] of constant privation, suffering, and endurance of attack,—yet Nikias early in the morning attempted a fresh march, in order to get to the river Asinarus, which falls into the same sea, south of the Erineus, but is a more considerable stream, flowing deeply imbedded between lofty banks. This was a last effort of despair, with little hope of final escape, even if they did reach it. Yet the march was accomplished, in spite of renewed and inces[p. 343]sant attacks all the way, from the Syracusan cavalry; who even got to the river before the Athenians, occupying the ford, and lining the high banks near it. Here the resolution of the unhappy fugitives at length gave way; when they reached the river, their strength, their patience, their spirit, and their hopes for the future, were all extinct. Tormented with raging thirst, and compelled by the attacks of the cavalry to march in one compact mass, they rushed into the ford all at once, treading down and tumbling over each other in the universal avidity for drink. Many thus perished from being pushed down upon the points of the spears, or lost their footing among the scattered articles of baggage, and were thus borne down under water.[513] Meanwhile, the Syracusans from above poured upon the huddled mass showers of missiles, while the Peloponnesian hoplites even descended into the river, came to close quarters with them, and slew considerable numbers. So violent, nevertheless, was the thirst of the Athenians, that all other suffering was endured in order to taste relief by drinking. And even when dead and wounded were heaped in the river,—when the water was tainted and turbid with blood, as well as thick with the mud trodden up,—still, the new-comers pushed their way in and swallowed it with voracity.[514]

Wretched, helpless, and demoralized as the army now was, Nikias could think no farther of resistance. He accordingly surrendered himself to Gylippus, to be dealt with at the discretion of that general and of the Lacedæmonians,[515] earnestly imploring that the slaughter of the defenceless soldiers might be arrested. Accordingly, Gylippus gave orders that no more should be killed, but that the rest should be secured as captives. Many were slain before this order was understood; but of those who remained, almost all were made captive, very few escaping. Nay, even the detachment of three hundred, who had broken out in the night, having seemingly not known whither to go, were captured,[p. 344] and brought in by troops sent forth for the purpose.[516] The triumph of the Syracusans was in every way complete, they hung the trees on the banks of the Asinarus with Athenian panoplies as trophy, and carried back their prisoners in joyous procession to the city.

The number of prisoners thus made, is not positively specified by Thucydidês, as in the case of the division of Demosthenês, which had capitulated and laid down their arms in a mass within the walls of the olive-ground. Of the captives from the division of Nikias, the larger proportion were seized by private individuals, and fraudulently secreted for their own profit; the number obtained for the state being comparatively small, seemingly not more than one thousand.[517] The various Sicilian towns became soon full of these prisoners, sold as slaves for private account.

Not less than forty thousand persons in the aggregate had started from the Athenian camp to commence the retreat, six days before. Of these probably many, either wounded or otherwise incompetent even when the march began, soon found themselves unable to keep up, and were left behind to perish. Each of the six days was a day of hard fighting and annoyance from an indefatigable crowd of light troops, with little, and at last seemingly nothing, to eat. The number was thus successively thinned, by wounds, privations, and straggling, so that the six thousand taken with Demosthenês, and perhaps three thousand or four thousand captured with Nikias, formed the melancholy remnant. Of the stragglers during the march, however, we are glad to learn that many contrived to escape the Syracusan cavalry and get to Katana, where also those who afterwards ran away from their slavery under private masters, found a refuge.[518] These fugitive[p. 345] Athenians served as auxiliaries to repel the attacks of the Syracusans upon Katana.[519]

It was in this manner, chiefly, that Athens came to receive again within her bosom a few of those ill-fated sons whom she had drafted forth in two such splendid divisions to Sicily. For of those who were carried as prisoners to Syracuse, fewer yet could ever have got home. They were placed for safe custody, along with the other prisoners, in the stone-quarries of Syracuse,—of which there were several, partly on the southern descent of the outer city towards the Nekropolis, or from the higher level to the lower level of Achradina,—partly in the suburb afterwards called Neapolis, under the southern cliff of Epipolæ. Into these quarries—deep hollows of confined space, with precipitous sides, and open at the top to the sky—the miserable prisoners were plunged, lying huddled one upon another, without the smallest protection or convenience. For subsistence, they received each day a ration of one pint of wheaten bread,—half the daily ration of a slave,—with no more than half a pint of water, so that they were not preserved from the pangs either of hunger or of thirst. Moreover, the heat of the midday sun, alternating with the chill of the autumn nights, was alike afflicting and destructive; while the wants of life having all to be performed where they were, without relief, the filth and stench presently became insupportable. Sick and wounded even at the moment of arrival, many of them speedily died; and happiest was he who died the first, leaving an unconscious corpse, which the Syracusans would not take the trouble to remove, to distress and infect the survivors. Under this condition and treatment they remained for seventy days; probably serving as a spectacle for the triumphant Syracusan population, with their wives and children, to come and look down upon, and to congratulate themselves on their own narrow escape from sufferings similar in kind at least, if not in degree. After that time the novelty of the spectacle had worn off, while the place must have become a den of abomination and a nuisance intolerable even to the citizens themselves. Accordingly, they now removed all the surviving prisoners, except the native Athenians[p. 346] and the few Italian or Sicilian Greeks among them. All those so removed were sold for slaves;[520] while the dead bodies were probably at the same time taken away, and the prison rendered somewhat less loathsome. What became of the remaining prisoners, we are not told; it may be presumed that those who could survive so great an extremity of suffering might after a certain time be allowed to get back to Athens on ransom. Perhaps some of them may have obtained their release; as was the case, we are told, with several of those who had been sold to private masters, by the elegance of their accomplishments and the dignity of their demeanor. The dramas of Euripidês were so peculiarly popular throughout all Sicily, that those Athenian prisoners who knew by heart considerable portions of them, won the affections of their masters. Some even of the stragglers from the army are affirmed to have procured for themselves, by the same attraction, shelter and hospitality during their flight. Euripidês, we are informed, lived to receive the thanks of several among these unhappy sufferers, after their return to Athens.[521] I cannot refrain from mentioning this story, though I fear its trustworthiness as matter of fact is much inferior to its pathos and interest.

Upon the treatment of Nikias and Demosthenês, not merely the Syracusans, but also the allies present, were consulted, and much difference of opinion was found. To keep them in confinement simply, without putting them to death, was apparently the opinion advocated by Hermokratês.[522] But Gylippus, then in[p. 347] full ascendency and an object of deep gratitude for his invaluable services, solicited as a reward to himself to be allowed to conduct them back as prisoners to Sparta. To achieve this would have earned for him signal honor in the eyes of his countrymen; for while Demosthenês, from his success at Pylos, was their hated enemy, Nikias had always shown himself their friend as far as an Athenian could do so. It was to him that they owed the release of their prisoners taken at Sphakteria; and he had calculated upon this obligation when he surrendered himself prisoner to Gylippus, and not to the Syracusans.

In spite of all his influence, however, Gylippus could not carry this point. First, the Corinthians both strenuously opposed him themselves, and prevailed on the other allies to do the same. They were afraid that the wealth of Nikias would always procure for him the means of escaping from imprisonment, so as to do them farther injury, and they insisted on his being put to death. Next, those Syracusans, who had been in secret correspondence with Nikias during the siege, were yet more anxious to get him put out of the way, being apprehensive that, if tortured by their political opponents, he might disclose their names and intrigues. Such various influences prevailed, and Nikias as well as Demosthenês was ordered to be put to death by a decree of the public assembly, much to the discontent of Gylippus. Hermokratês vainly opposed the resolution, but perceiving that it was certain to be carried, he sent to them a private intimation before the discussion closed; and procured for them, through one of the sentinels, the means of dying by their own hands. Their bodies were publicly exposed before the city gates to the view of the Syracusan citizens;[523] while the day on which the final capture of Nikias and his army was accomplished, came to be celebrated as an annual festival, under the title of the Asinaria, on the twenty-sixth day of the Dorian month Karneius.[524]

[p. 348]

Such was the close of the expedition, or rather of the two expeditions, undertaken by Athens against Syracuse. Never in Grecian history had a force so large, so costly, so efficient, and so full of promise and confidence, been turned out; never in Grecian history had ruin so complete and sweeping, or victory so glorious and unexpected, been witnessed.[525] Its consequences were felt from one end of the Grecian world to the other, as will appear in the coming chapters.

The esteem and admiration felt at Athens towards Nikias had been throughout lofty and unshaken; after his death it was exchanged for disgrace. His name was omitted, while that of his colleague Demosthenês was engraved, on the funereal pillar erected to commemorate the fallen warriors. This difference Pausanias explains by saying that Nikias was conceived to have disgraced himself as a military man by his voluntary surrender, which Demosthenês had disdained.[526]

[p. 349]

The opinion of Thucydidês deserves special notice, in the face of this judgment of his countrymen. While he says not a word about Demosthenês, beyond the fact of his execution, he adds in reference to Nikias a few words of marked sympathy and commendation. “Such, or nearly such, (he says,) were the reasons why Nikias was put to death; though he assuredly, among all Greeks of my time, least deserved to come to so extreme a pitch of ill-fortune, considering his exact performance of established duties to the divinity.”[527]

If we were judging Nikias merely as a private man, and setting his personal conduct in one scale against his personal suffer[p. 350]ing on the other, the remark of Thucydidês would be natural and intelligible. But the general of a great expedition, upon whose conduct the lives of thousands of brave men as well as the most momentous interests of his country, depend, cannot be tried by any such standard. His private merit becomes a secondary point in the case, as compared with the discharge of his responsible public duties, by which he must stand or fall.

Tried by this more appropriate standard, what are we to say of Nikias? We are compelled to say, that if his personal suffering could possibly be regarded in the light of an atonement, or set in an equation against the mischief brought by himself both on his army and his country, it would not be greater than his deserts. I shall not here repeat the separate points in his conduct which justify this view, and which have been set forth as they have occurred, in the preceding pages. Admitting fully both the good intentions of Nikias, and his personal bravery, rising even into heroism during the last few days in Sicily, it is not the less incontestable, that, first, the failure of the enterprise, next, the destruction of the armament, is to be traced distinctly to his lamentable misjudgment. Sometimes petty trifling, sometimes apathy and inaction, sometimes presumptuous neglect, sometimes obstinate blindness even to urgent and obvious necessities, one or other of these his sad mental defects, will be found operative at every step, whereby this fated armament sinks down from exuberant efficiency into the last depth of aggregate ruin and individual misery. His improvidence and incapacity stand proclaimed, not merely in the narrative of the historian, but even in his own letter to the Athenians, and in his own speeches both before the expedition and during its closing misfortunes, when contrasted with the reality of his proceedings. The man whose flagrant incompetency brought such wholesale ruin upon two fine armaments intrusted to his command, upon the Athenian maritime empire, and ultimately upon Athens herself, must appear on the tablets of history under the severest condemnation, even though his personal virtues had been loftier than those of Nikias.

And yet our great historian, after devoting two immortal books to this expedition, after setting forth emphatically both the glory of its dawn and the wretchedness of its close, with a dramatic genius parallel to the Œdipus Tyrannus of Sophoklês, when he[p. 351] comes to recount the melancholy end of the two commanders, has no words to spare for Demosthenês,—far the abler officer of the two, who perished by no fault of his own,—but reserves his flowers to strew on the grave of Nikias, the author of the whole calamity—“What a pity! Such a respectable and religious man!”

Thucydidês is here the more instructive, because he exactly represents the sentiment of the general Athenian public towards Nikias during his lifetime. They could not bear to condemn, to mistrust, to dismiss, or to do without, so respectable and religious a citizen. The private qualities of Nikias were not only held to entitle him to the most indulgent construction of all his public shortcomings, but also insured to him credit for political and military competence altogether disproportionate to his deserts. When we find Thucydidês, after narrating so much improvidence and mismanagement on the grand scale, still keeping attention fixed on the private morality and decorum of Nikias, as if it constituted the main feature of his character, we can understand how the Athenian people originally came both to over-estimate this unfortunate leader, and continued over-estimating him with tenacious fidelity even after glaring proof of his incapacity. Never in the political history of Athens did the people make so fatal a mistake in placing their confidence.

In reviewing the causes of popular misjudgment, historians are apt to enlarge prominently, if not exclusively, on demagogues and demagogic influences. Mankind being usually considered in the light of governable material, or as instruments for exalting, arming, and decorating their rulers, whatever renders them more difficult to handle in this capacity, ranks first in the category of vices. Nor can it be denied that this was a real and serious cause: clever criminative speakers often passed themselves off for something above their real worth; though useful and indispensable as a protection against worse, they sometimes deluded the people into measures impolitic or unjust. But, even if we grant, to the cause of misjudgment here indicated, a greater practical efficiency than history will fairly sanction, still, it is only one among others more mischievous. Never did any man at Athens, by mere force of demagogic qualities, acquire a measure of esteem at once so exaggerated and so durable, combined with so much power of injuring his fellow-citizens, as the[p. 352] anti-demagogic Nikias. The man who, over and above his shabby manœuvre about the expedition against Sphakteria, and his improvident sacrifice of Athenian interests in the alliance with Sparta, ended by inflicting on his country that cruel wound which destroyed so many of her citizens as well as her maritime empire, was not a leather-seller of impudent and criminative eloquence, but a man of ancient family and hereditary wealth, munificent and affable, having credit not merely for the largesses which he bestowed, but also for all the insolences, which as a rich man he might have committed, but did not commit,—free from all pecuniary corruption,—a brave man, and above all, an ultra-religious man, believed therefore to stand high in the favor of the gods, and to be fortunate. Such was the esteem which the Athenians felt for this union of good qualities purely personal and negative with eminent station, that they presumed the higher aptitudes of command,[528] and presumed them, unhappily, after proof that they did not exist,—after proof that what they had supposed to be caution was only apathy and mental weakness. No demagogic arts or eloquence would ever have created in the people so deep-seated an illusion as the imposing respectability of Nikias. Now it was against the overweening ascendency of such decorous and pious incompetence, when aided by wealth and family advantages, that the demagogic accusatory eloquence ought to have served as a natural bar and corrective. Performing the functions of a constitutional opposition, it afforded the only chance of that tutelary exposure whereby blunders and shortcomings might be arrested in time. How insufficient was the check which it provided,—even at Athens, where every one denounces it as having prevailed in devouring excess,—the history of Nikias is an ever-living testimony.


[p. 353]

CHAPTER LXI.
FROM THE DESTRUCTION OF THE ATHENIAN ARMAMENT IN SICILY, DOWN TO THE OLIGARCHICAL CONSPIRACY OF THE FOUR HUNDRED AT ATHENS.

In the preceding chapter we followed to its melancholy close the united armament of Nikias and Demosthenês, first in the harbor and lastly in the neighborhood of Syracuse, towards the end of September, 413 B.C.

The first impression which we derive from the perusal of that narrative is, sympathy for the parties directly concerned, chiefly for the number of gallant Athenians who thus miserably perished, partly also for the Syracusan victors, themselves a few months before on the verge of apparent ruin. But the distant and collateral effects of the catastrophe throughout Greece, were yet more momentous than those within the island in which it occurred.

I have already mentioned that even at the moment when Demosthenês with his powerful armament left Peiræus to go to Sicily, the hostilities of the Peloponnesian confederacy against Athens herself had been already recommenced. Not only was the Spartan king Agis ravaging Attica, but the far more important step of fortifying Dekeleia, for the abode of a permanent garrison, was in course of completion. That fortress, having been begun about the middle of March, was probably by the month of June in a situation to shelter its garrison, which consisted of contingents periodically furnished, and relieving each other alternately, from all the different states of the confederacy, under the permanent command of king Agis himself.

And now began that incessant marauding of domiciliated enemies—destined to last for nine years until the final capture of Athens—partially contemplated even at the beginning of the Peloponnesian war, and recently enforced, with full comprehension of its disastrous effects, by the virulent antipathy of the exile Alkibiadês.[529] The earlier invasions of Attica had been all[p. 354] temporary, continuing for five or six weeks at the farthest, and leaving the country in repose for the remainder of the year. But the Athenians now underwent from henceforward the fatal experience of a hostile garrison within fifteen miles of their city; an experience peculiarly painful this summer, as well from its novelty as from the extraordinary vigor which Agis displayed in his operations. His excursions were so widely extended, that no part of Attica was secure or could be rendered productive. Not only were all the sheep and cattle destroyed, but the slaves too, especially the most valuable slaves, or artisans, began to desert to Dekeleia in great numbers; more than twenty thousand of them soon disappeared in this way. So terrible a loss of income, both to proprietors of land and to employers in the city, was farther aggravated by the increased cost and difficulty of import from Eubœa. Provisions and cattle from that island had previously come over land from Oropus, but as that road was completely stopped by the garrison of Dekeleia, they were now of necessity sent round Cape Sunium by sea; a transit more circuitous and expensive, besides being open to attack from the enemy’s privateers.[530] In the midst of such heavy privations, the demands on citizens and metics for military duty were multiplied beyond measure. The presence of the enemy at Dekeleia forced them to keep watch day and night throughout their long extent of wall, comprising both Athens and Peiræus: in the daytime the hoplites of the city relieved each other on guard, but at night, nearly all of them were either on the battlements or at the various military stations in the city. Instead of a city, in fact, Athens was reduced to the condition of something like a military post.[531] Moreover, the rich citizens of the state, who[p. 355] served as horsemen, shared in the general hardship; being called on for daily duty in order to restrain at least, since they could not entirely prevent, the excursions of the garrison of Dekeleia, their efficiency was, however, soon impaired by the laming of their horses on the hard and stony soil.[532]

Besides the personal efforts of the citizens, such exigencies pressed heavily on the financial resources of the state. Already the immense expense incurred in fitting out the two large armaments for Sicily, had exhausted all the accumulations laid by in the treasury during the interval since the Peace of Nikias; so that the attacks from Dekeleia, not only imposing heavy additional cost, but at the same time cutting up the means of paying, brought the finances of Athens into positive embarrassment. With the view of increasing her revenues, she altered the principle on which her subject-allies had hitherto been assessed: instead of a fixed sum of annual tribute, she now required from them payment of a duty of five per cent. on all imports and exports by sea.[533] How this new principle of assessment worked, we have unfortunately no information. To collect the duty and take precautions against evasion, an Athenian custom-house officer must have been required in each allied city. Yet it is difficult to understand how Athens could have enforced a system at once novel, extensive, vexatious, and more burdensome to the payers, when we come to see how much her hold over those payers, as well as her naval force, became enfeebled, before the close even of the actual year.[534]

[p. 356]

Her impoverished finances also compelled her to dismiss a body of Thracian mercenaries, whose aid would have been very useful against the enemy at Dekeleia. These Thracian peltasts, thirteen hundred in number, had been hired at a drachma per day each man, to go with Demosthenês to Syracuse, but had not reached Athens in time. As soon as they came thither, the Athenians placed them under the command of Diitrephês, to conduct them back to their native country, with instructions to do damage to the Bœotians, as opportunity might occur, in his way through the Euripus. Accordingly, Diitrephês, putting them on shipboard, sailed round Sunium and northward along the eastern coast of Attica. After a short disembarkation near Tanagra, he passed on to Chalkis in Eubœa in the narrowest part of the strait, from whence he crossed in the night to the Bœotian coast opposite, and marched up some distance from the sea to the neighborhood of the Bœotian town Mykalêssus. He arrived here unseen, lay in wait near a temple of Hermês about two miles distant, and fell upon the town unexpectedly at break of day. To the Mykalessians, dwelling in the centre of Bœotia, not far from Thebes, and at a considerable distance from the sea, such an assault was not less unexpected than formidable. Their fortifications were feeble, in some parts low, in other parts even tumbling down; nor had they even taken the precaution to close their gates at night: so that the barbarians under Diitrephês, entering the town without the smallest difficulty, began at once the work of pillage and destruction. The scene which followed was something alike novel and revolting to Grecian eyes. Not only were all the houses and even the temples plundered, but the Thracians farther manifested that raging thirst for blood which seemed inherent in their race. They slew every living thing that came in their way; men, women, children, horses, cattle, etc. They burst into a school, wherein many boys had just been assembled, and [p. 357]massacred them all. This scene of bloodshed, committed by barbarians who had not been seen in Greece since the days of Xerxes, was recounted with horror and sympathy throughout all Grecian communities, though Mykalêssus was in itself a town of second-rate or third-rate magnitude.[535]

The succor brought from Thebes, by Mykalessian fugitives, arrived unhappily only in time to avenge, but not to save, the inhabitants. The Thracians were already retiring with the booty which they could carry away, when the bœotarch Skirphondas overtook them, both with cavalry and hoplites, after having put to death some greedy plunderers who tarried too long in the town. He compelled them to relinquish most of their booty, and pursued them to the sea-shore; not without a brave resistance from these peltasts, who had a peculiar way of fighting which disconcerted the Thebans. But when they arrived at the sea-shore, the Athenian ships did not think it safe to approach very close, so that not less than two hundred and fifty Thracians were slain before they could get aboard;[536] and the Athenian commander, Diitrephês was so severely wounded that he died shortly afterwards. The rest pursued their voyage homeward.

Meanwhile, the important station of Naupaktus and the mouth of the Corinthian gulf again became the theatre of naval encounter. It will be recollected that this was the scene of the memorable victories gained by the Athenian admiral Phormion in the second year of the Peloponnesian war,[537] wherein the nautical superiority of Athens over her enemies, as to ships, crews, and admiral, had been so transcendently manifested. In that respect matters had now considerably changed. While the navy of Athens had fallen off since the days of Phormion, that of her enemy had improved: Ariston, and other skilful Corinthian steersmen,[p. 358] not attempting to copy Athenian tactics, had studied the best mode of coping with them, and had modified the build of their own triremes accordingly,[538] at Corinth as well as at Syracuse. Seventeen years before, Phormion with eighteen Athenian triremes would have thought himself a full match for twenty-five Corinthian; but the Athenian admiral of this year, Konon, also a perfectly brave man, now judged so differently, that he constrained Demosthenês and Eurymedon to reinforce his eighteen triremes with ten others,—out of the best of their fleet, at a time when they had certainly none to spare,—on the ground that the Corinthian fleet opposite, of twenty-five sail, was about to assume the offensive against him.[539]

Soon afterwards Diphilus came to supersede Konon, with some fresh ships from Athens, which made the total number of triremes thirty-three. The Corinthian fleet, reinforced so as to be nearly of the same number, took up a station on the coast of Achaia opposite Naupaktus, at a spot called Erineus, in the territory of Rhypes. They ranged themselves across the mouth of a little indentation of the coast, or bay, in the shape of a crescent, with two projecting promontories as horns: each of these promontories was occupied by a friendly land-force, thus supporting the line of triremes at both flanks. This was a position which did not permit the Athenians to sail through the line, or manœuvre round it and in the rear of it. Accordingly, when the fleet of Diphilus came across from Naupaktus, it remained for some time close in front of the Corinthians, neither party venturing to attack; for the straightforward collision was destructive to the Athenian ships with their sharp, but light and feeble beaks, while it was favorable to the solid bows and thick epôtids, or ear-projections, of the Corinthian trireme. After considerable delay, the Corinthians at length began the attack on their side, yet not advancing far enough out to sea to admit of the manœuvring and evolutions of the Athenians. The battle lasted some time, terminating with no decisive advantage to either party. Three Corinthian triremes were completely disabled, though the crews of all escaped by swimming to their friends ashore: on the Athenian side, not[p. 359] one trireme became absolutely water-logged, but seven were so much damaged, by straightforward collision with the stronger bows of the enemy, that they became almost useless after they got back to Naupaktus. The Athenians had so far the advantage, that they maintained their station, while the Corinthians did not venture to renew the fight: moreover, both the wind and the current set towards the northern shore, so that the floating fragments and dead bodies came into possession of the Athenians. Each party thought itself entitled to erect a trophy, but the real feeling of victory lay on the side of Corinth, and that of defeat on the side of Athens. The reputed maritime superiority of the latter was felt by both parties to have sustained a diminution; and such assuredly would have been the impression of Phormion, had he been alive to witness it.[540]

This battle appears to have taken place, so far as we can make out, a short time before the arrival of Demosthenês at Syracuse, about the close of the month of May. We cannot doubt that the Athenians most anxiously expected news from that officer, with some account of victories obtained in Sicily, to console them for having sent him away at a moment when his services were so cruelly wanted at home. Perhaps they may even have indulged hopes of the near capture of Syracuse, as a means of restoring their crippled finances. Their disappointment would be all the more bitter when they came to receive, towards the end of June or beginning of July, despatches announcing the capital defeat of Demosthenês in his attempt upon Epipolæ, and the consequent extinction of all hope that Syracuse could ever be taken. After these despatches, we may perhaps doubt whether any others subsequently reached Athens. The generals would not write home during the month of indecision immediately succeeding, when Demosthenês was pressing for retreat, and Nikias resisting it. They might possibly, however, write immediately on taking their resolution to retreat, at the time when they sent to Katana to forbid farther supplies of provisions, but this was the last practicable opportunity; for closely afterwards followed their naval defeat, and the blocking up of the mouth of the Great Harbor. The mere absence of intelligence would satisfy the Athenians that their[p. 360] affairs in Sicily were proceeding badly; but the closing series of calamities, down to the final catastrophe, would only come to their knowledge indirectly; partly through the triumphant despatches transmitted from Syracuse to Sparta, Corinth, and Thebes, partly through individual soldiers of their own armament who escaped.

According to the tale of Plutarch, the news was first made known at Athens through a stranger, who, arriving at Peiræus, went into a barber’s shop and began to converse about it, as upon a theme which must of course be uppermost in every one’s mind.

The astonished barber, hearing for the first time such fearful tidings, ran up to Athens to communicate it to the archons as well as to the public in the market-place. The public assembly being forthwith convoked, he was brought before it, and called upon to produce his authority, which he was unable to do, as the stranger had disappeared. He was consequently treated as a fabricator of uncertified rumors for the disturbance of the public tranquillity, and even put to the torture.[541] How much of this improbable tale may be true, we cannot determine; but we may easily believe that neutrals, passing from Corinth or Megara to Peiræus, were the earliest communicants of the misfortunes of Nikias and Demosthenês in Sicily during the months of July and August. Presently came individual soldiers of the armament, who had got away from the defeat and found a passage home; so that the bad news was but too fully confirmed. But the Athenians were long before they could bring themselves to believe, even upon the testimony of these fugitives, how entire had been the destruction of their two splendid armaments, without even a feeble remnant left to console them.[542]

As soon as the full extent of their loss was at length forced upon their convictions, the city presented a scene of the deepest affliction, dismay, and terror. Over and above the extent of private mourning, from the loss of friends and relatives, which overspread nearly the whole city, there prevailed utter despair as to the public safety. Not merely was the empire of Athens apparently lost, but Athens herself seemed utterly defenceless. Her treasury was empty, her docks nearly destitute of triremes, the flower of[p. 361] her hoplites as well as of her seamen had perished in Sicily without leaving their like behind, and her maritime reputation was irretrievably damaged; while her enemies, on the contrary, animated by feelings of exuberant confidence and triumph, were farther strengthened by the accession of their new Sicilian allies. In these melancholy months—October, November, 413 B.C.—the Athenians expected nothing less than a vigorous attack, both by land and sea, from the Peloponnesian and Sicilian forces united, with the aid of their own revolted allies, an attack which they knew themselves to be in no condition to repel.[543]

Amidst so gloomy a prospect, without one ray of hope to cheer them on any side, it was but poor satisfaction to vent their displeasure on the chief speakers who had recommended their recent disastrous expedition, or on those prophets and reporters of oracles who had promised them the divine blessing upon it.[544][p. 362] After this first burst both of grief and anger, however, they began gradually to look their actual situation in the face; and the more energetic speakers would doubtless administer the salutary lesson of reminding them how much had been achieved by their forefathers, sixty-seven years before, when the approach of Xerxes threatened them with dangers not less overwhelming. Under the peril of the moment, the energy of despair revived in their bosoms; they resolved to get together, as speedily as they could, both ships and money,—to keep watch over their allies, especially Eubœa,—and to defend themselves to the last. A Board of ten elderly men, under the title of Probûli, was named to review the expenditure, to suggest all practicable economies, and propose for the future such measures as occasion might seem to require. The propositions of these probûli were for the most part adopted, with a degree of unanimity and promptitude rarely seen in an Athenian assembly, springing out of that pressure and alarm of the moment which silenced all criticism.[545] Among other economies, the Athenians abridged the costly splendor of their choric and liturgic ceremonies at home, and brought back the recent garrison which they had established on the Laconian coast; they at the same time collected timber, commenced the construction of new ships, and fortified Cape Sunium, in order to protect their numerous transport ships in the passage from Eubœa to Peiræus.[546]

[p. 363]

While Athens was thus struggling to make head against her misfortunes, all the rest of Greece was full of excitement and aggressive scheming against her. So vast an event as the destruction of this great armament had never happened since the expedition of Xerxes against Greece. It not only roused the most distant cities of the Grecian world, but also the Persian satraps and the court of Susa. It stimulated the enemies of Athens to redoubled activity; it emboldened her subject-allies to revolt; it pushed the neutral states, who all feared what she would have done if successful against Syracuse, now to declare war against her, and put the finishing stroke to her power as well as to her ambition. All of them, enemies, subjects, and neutrals, alike believed that the doom of Athens was sealed, and[p. 364] that the coming spring would see her captured. Earlier than the ensuing spring, the Lacedæmonians did not feel disposed to act; but they sent round their instructions to the allies for operations both by land and sea to be then commenced; all these allies being prepared to do their best, in hopes that this effort would be the last required from them, and the most richly rewarded. A fleet of one hundred triremes was directed to be prepared against the spring; fifty of these being imposed in equal proportion on the Lacedæmonians themselves and the Bœotians; fifteen on Corinth; fifteen on the Phocians and Lokrians; ten on the Arcadians, with Pellênê and Sikyon; ten on Megara, Trœzen, Epidaurus, and Hermionê. It seems to have been considered that these ships might be built and launched during the interval between September and March.[547] The same large hopes, which had worked upon men’s minds at the beginning of the war, were now again rife in the bosoms of the Peloponnesians;[548] the rather as that powerful force from Sicily, which they had then been disappointed in obtaining, might now be anticipated with tolerable assurance as really forthcoming.[549]

From the smaller allies, contributions in money were exacted for the intended fleet by Agis, who moved about during this autumn with a portion of the garrison of Dekeleia. In the course of his circuit, he visited the town of Herakleia, near the Maliac gulf, and levied large contributions on the neighboring Œtæans, in reprisal for the plunder which they had taken from that town, as well as from the Phthiot Achæans and other subjects of the Thessalians, though the latter vainly entered their protest against his proceedings.[550]

It was during the march of Agis through Bœotia that the inhabitants of Eubœa—probably of Chalkis and Eretria—applied to him, entreating his aid to enable them to revolt from Athens; which he readily promised, sending for Alkamenês at the head of three hundred Neodamode hoplites from Sparta, to[p. 365] be despatched across to the island as harmost. Having a force permanently at his disposal, with full liberty of military action, the Spartan king at Dekeleia was more influential even than the authorities at home, so that the disaffected allies of Athens addressed themselves in preference to him. It was not long before envoys from Lesbos visited him for this purpose. So powerfully was their claim enforced by the Bœotians (their kinsmen of the Æolic race), who engaged to furnish ten triremes for their aid, provided Agis would send ten others, that he was induced to postpone his promise to the Eubœans, and to direct Alkamenês as harmost to Lesbos instead of Eubœa,[551] without at all consulting the authorities at Sparta.

The threatened revolt of Lesbos and Eubœa, especially the latter, was a vital blow to the empire of Athens. But this was not the worst. At the same time that these two islands were negotiating with Agis, envoys from Chios, the first and most powerful of all Athenian allies, had gone to Sparta for the same purpose. The government of Chios,—an oligarchy, but distinguished for its prudent management and caution in avoiding risks,—considering Athens to be now on the verge of ruin, even in the estimation of the Athenians themselves, thought itself safe, together with the opposite city of Erythræ, in taking measures for achieving independence.[552]

Besides these three great allies, whose example in revolting was sure to be followed by others, Athens was now on the point of being assailed by other enemies yet more unexpected, the two Persian satraps of the Asiatic seaboard, Tissaphernes and Pharnabazus. No sooner was the Athenian catastrophe in Sicily known at the court of Susa, than the Great King claimed from these two satraps the tribute due from the Asiatic Greeks on the coast; for which they had always stood enrolled in the tribute records, though it had never been actually levied since the complete establishment of the Athenian empire. The only way to realize this tribute, for which the satraps were thus made debtors, was to detach the towns from Athens, and break up her empire;[553][p. 366] for which purpose Tissaphernes sent an envoy to Sparta, in conjunction with those of the Chians and Erythræans. He invited the Lacedæmonians to conclude an alliance with the Great King, for joint operations against the Athenian empire in Asia; promising to furnish pay and maintenance for any forces which they might send, at the rate of one drachma per day for each man of the ship’s crews.[554] He farther hoped by means of this aid to reduce Amorgês the revolted son of the late satrap Pissuthnês, who was established in the strong maritime town of Iasus, with a Grecian mercenary force and a considerable treasure, and was in alliance with Athens. The Great King had sent down a peremptory mandate, that Amorgês should be either brought prisoner to Susa or slain.

At the same moment, though without any concert, there arrived at Sparta Kalligeitus and Timagoras, two Grecian exiles in the service of Pharnabazus, bringing propositions of a similar character from that satrap, whose government[555] comprehended the coast lands north of Æolis, from the Euxine and Propontis, to the northeast corner of the Elæatic gulf. Eager to have the assistance of a Lacedæmonian fleet in order to detach the Hellespontine Greeks from Athens, and realize the tribute required by the court of Susa, Pharnabazus was at the same time desirous of forestalling Tissaphernes as the medium of alliance between Sparta and the Great King. The two missions having thus arrived simultaneously at Sparta, a strong competition arose between them, one striving to attract the projected expedition to Chios, the other to the Hellespont:[556] for which latter purpose, Kalligeitus[p. 367] had brought twenty-five talents, which he tendered as a first payment in part.

From all quarters, new enemies were thus springing up against Athens in the hour of her distress, and the Lacedæmonians had only to choose which they would prefer; a choice in which they were much guided by the exile Alkibiadês. It so happened that his family friend Endius was at this moment one of the board of ephors; while his personal enemy king Agis, with whose wife Timæa he carried on an intrigue,[557] was absent in command at Dekeleia. Knowing well the great power and importance of Chios, Alkibiadês strenuously exhorted the Spartan authorities to devote their first attention to that island. A periœkus named Phrynis, being sent thither to examine whether the resources alleged by the envoys were really forthcoming, brought back a satisfactory report, that the Chian fleet was not less than sixty triremes strong: upon which the Lacedæmonians concluded an alliance with Chios and Erythræ, engaging to send a fleet of forty sail to their aid. Ten of these triremes, now ready in the Lacedæmonian ports—probably at Gythium—were directed immediately to sail to Chios, under the admiral Melanchridas. It seems to have been now midwinter; but Alkibiadês, and still more the Chian envoys, insisted on the necessity of prompt action, for fear that the Athenians should detect the intrigue. However, an earthquake just then intervening, was construed by the Spartans as an index of divine displeasure, so that they would not persist in sending either the same commander or the same ships. Chalkideus was named to supersede Melanchridas, while five new ships were directed to be equipped, so as to be ready to sail in the early spring along with the larger fleet from Corinth.[558]

As soon as spring arrived, three Spartan commissioners were sent to Corinth—in compliance with the pressing instances of the Chian envoys—to transport across the isthmus from the Corinthian to the Saronic gulf, the thirty-nine triremes now in the Corinthian port of Lechæum. It was at first proposed to send off all, at one and the same time, to Chios, even those which Agis had been equipping for the assistance of Lesbos; although Kalli[p. 368]geitus declined any concern with Chios, and refused to contribute for this purpose any of the money which he had brought. A general synod of deputies from the allies was held at Corinth, wherein it was determined, with the concurrence of Agis, to despatch the fleet first to Chios, under Chalkideus; next, to Lesbos, under Alkamenês; lastly, to the Hellespont, under Klearchus. But it was judged expedient to divide the fleet, and bring across twenty-one triremes out of the thirty-nine, so as to distract the attention of Athens, and divide her means of resistance. So low was the estimate formed of these means, that the Lacedæmonians did not scruple to despatch their expedition openly from the Saronic gulf, where the Athenians would have full knowledge both of its numbers and of its movements.[559]

Hardly had the twenty-one triremes, however, been brought across to Kenchreæ, when a fresh delay arose to obstruct their departure. The Isthmian festival, celebrated every alternate year, and kept especially holy by the Corinthians, was just approaching; nor would they consent to begin any military operations until it was concluded, though Agis tried to elude their scruples by offering to adopt the intended expedition as his own. It was during the delay which thus ensued that the Athenians were first led to conceive suspicions about Chios, whither they despatched Aristokratês, one of the generals of the year. The Chian authorities strenuously denied all projects of revolt, and being required by Aristokratês to furnish some evidence of their good faith, sent back along with him seven triremes to the aid of Athens. It was much against their own will that they were compelled thus to act; but they knew that the Chian people were in general averse to the idea of revolting from Athens, nor did they feel confidence enough to proclaim their secret designs without some manifestation of support from Peloponnesus, which had been so much delayed that they knew not when it would arrive. The Athenians, in their present state of weakness, perhaps thought it prudent to accept insufficient assurances, for fear of driving this powerful island to open revolt. But during the Isthmian festival, to which they were invited along with other Greeks, they discovered farther evidences of the plot which was going[p. 369] on, and resolved to keep strict watch on the motions of the fleet now assembled at Kenchreæ, suspecting that this squadron was intended to second the revolting party in Chios.[560]

Shortly after the Isthmian festival, the squadron actually started from Kenchreæ to Chios, under Alkamenês; but an equal number of Athenian ships watched them as they sailed along the shore, and tried to tempt them farther out to sea, with a view to fight them. Alkamenês, however, desirous of avoiding a battle, thought it best to return back; upon which the Athenians also returned to Peiræus, mistrusting the fidelity of the seven Chian triremes which formed part of their fleet. Reappearing presently with a larger squadron of thirty-seven triremes, they pursued Alkamenês, who had again begun his voyage along the shore southward, and attacked him near the uninhabited harbor called Peiræum, on the frontiers of Corinth and Epidaurus. They here gained a victory, captured one of his ships, and damaged or disabled most of the remainder. Alkamenês himself was slain, and the ships were run ashore, where on the morrow the Pelo[p. 370]ponnesian land-force arrived in sufficient numbers to defend them. So inconvenient, however, was their station on this desert spot, that they at first determined to burn the vessels and depart. Nor was it without difficulty that they were induced, partly by the instances of king Agis, to guard the ships until an opportunity could be found for eluding the blockading Athenian fleet; a part of which still kept watch off the shore, while the rest were stationed at a neighboring islet.[561]

The Spartan ephors had directed Alkamenês, at the moment of his departure from Kenchræa, to despatch a messenger to Sparta, in order that the five triremes under Chalkideus and Alkibiadês might leave Laconia at the same moment. And these latter appear to have been actually under way, when a second messenger brought the news of the defeat and death of Alkamenês at Peiræum. Besides the discouragement arising from such a check at the outset of their plans against Ionia, the ephors thought it impossible to begin operations with so small a squadron as five triremes, so that the departure of Chalkideus was for the present countermanded. This resolution, perfectly natural to adopt, was only reversed at the strenuous instance of the Athenian exile Alkibiadês, who urged them to permit Chalkideus and himself to start forthwith. Small as the squadron was, yet as it would reach Chios before the defeat at Peiræum became public, it might be passed off as the precursor of the main fleet; while he (Alkibiadês) pledged himself to procure the revolt of Chios and the other Ionic cities, through his personal connection with the leading men, who would repose confidence in his assurances of the helplessness of Athens, as well as of the thorough determination of Sparta to stand by them. To these arguments, Alkibiadês added an appeal to the personal vanity of Endius; whom he instigated to assume for himself the glory of liberating Ionia as well as of first commencing the Persian alliance, instead of leaving this enterprise to king Agis.[562]

By these arguments—assisted doubtless by his personal influence, since his advice respecting Gylippus and respecting Dekeleia had turned out so successful—Alkibiadês obtained the consent of the Spartan ephors, and sailed along with Chalkideus in[p. 371] the five triremes to Chios. Nothing less than his energy and ascendency could have extorted from men both dull and backward, a determination apparently so rash, yet, in spite of such appearance, admirably conceived, and of the highest importance. Had the Chians waited for the fleet now blocked up at Peiræum, their revolt would at least have been long delayed, and perhaps might not have occurred at all: the accomplishment of that revolt by the little squadron of Alkibiadês was the proximate cause of all the Spartan successes in Ionia, and was ultimately the means even of disengaging the fleet at Peiræum, by distracting the attention of Athens. So well did this unprincipled exile, while playing the game of Sparta, know where to inflict the dangerous wounds upon his country!

There was, indeed, little danger in crossing the Ægean to Ionia, with ever so small a squadron; for Athens in her present destitute condition had no fleet there, and although Strombichidês was detached with eight triremes from the blockading fleet off Peiræum, to pursue Chalkideus and Alkibiadês as soon as their departure was known, he was far behind them, and soon returned without success. To keep their voyage secret, they detained the boats and vessels which they met, and did not liberate them, until they reached Korykus in Asia Minor, the mountainous land southward of Erythræ. They were here visited by their leading partisans from Chios, who urged them to sail thither at once before their arrival could be proclaimed. Accordingly, they reached the town of Chios—on the eastern coast of the island, immediately opposite to Erythræ on the continent—to the astonishment and dismay of every one, except the oligarchical plotters who had invited them. By the contrivance of these latter, the council was found just assembling, so that Alkibiadês was admitted without delay, and invited to state his case. Suppressing all mention of the defeat at Peiræum, he represented his squadron as the foremost of a large Lacedæmonian fleet actually at sea and approaching, and affirmed Athens to be now helpless by sea as well as by land, incapable of maintaining any farther hold upon her allies. Under these impressions, and while the population were yet under their first impulse of surprise and alarm, the oligarchical council took the resolution of revolting. The example was followed by Erythræ, and soon after[p. 372]wards by Klazomenæ, determined by three triremes from Chios. The Klazomenians had hitherto dwelt upon an islet close to the continent; on which latter, however, a portion of their town, called Polichnê, was situated, which they now resolved, in anticipation of attack from Athens, to fortify as their main residence. Both the Chians and Erythræans also actively employed themselves in fortifying their towns and preparing for war.[563]

In reviewing this account of the revolt of Chios, we find occasion to repeat remarks already suggested by previous revolts of other allies of Athens,—Lesbos, Akanthus, Torônê, Mendê, Amphipolis, etc. Contrary to what is commonly intimated by historians, we may observe first, that Athens did not systematically interfere to impose her own democratical government upon her allies; next, that the empire of Athens, though upheld mainly by an established belief in her superior force, was nevertheless by no means odious, nor the proposition of revolting from her acceptable to the general population of her allies. She had at this moment no force in Ionia; and the oligarchical government of Chios, wishing to revolt, was only prevented from openly declaring its intention by the reluctance of its own population, a reluctance which it overcame partly by surprise arising from the sudden arrival of Alkibiadês and Chalkideus, partly by the fallacious assurance of a still greater Peloponnesian force approaching.[564] Nor would the Chian oligarchy themselves have determined to revolt, had they not been persuaded that such was now the safer course, inasmuch as Athens was now ruined, and[p. 373] her power to protect, not less than her power to oppress, at an end.[565] The envoys of Tissaphernês had accompanied those of Chios to Sparta, so that the Chian government saw plainly that the misfortunes of Athens had only the effect of reviving the aggressions and pretensions of their former foreign master, against whom Athens had protected them for the last fifty years. We may well doubt, therefore, whether this prudent government looked upon the change as on the whole advantageous. But they had no motive to stand by Athens in her misfortunes, and good policy seemed now to advise a timely union with Sparta as the preponderant force. The sentiment entertained towards Athens by her allies, as I have before observed, was more negative than positive. It was favorable rather than otherwise, in the minds of the general population, to whom she caused little actual hardship or oppression; but averse, to a certain extent, in the minds of their leading men, since she wounded their dignity, and offended that love of town autonomy which was instinctive in the Grecian political mind.

The revolt of Chios, speedily proclaimed, filled every man at Athens with dismay. It was the most fearful symptom, as well as the heaviest aggravation, of their fallen condition; especially as there was every reason to apprehend that the example of this first and greatest among the allies would be soon followed by the rest. The Athenians had no fleet or force even to attempt its reconquest: but they now felt the full importance of that reserve of one thousand talents, which Perikles had set aside in the first year of the war against the special emergency of a hostile fleet approaching Peiræus. The penalty of death had been decreed against any one who should propose to devote this fund to any other purpose; and, in spite of severe financial pressure, it had remained untouched for twenty years. Now, however, though the special contingency foreseen had not yet arisen, matters were come to such an extremity, that the only chance of saving the remaining empire was by the appropriation of this money. An unanimous vote was accordingly passed to abrogate the penal enactment, or standing order, against proposing any other mode[p. 374] of appropriation; after which the resolution was taken to devote this money to present necessities.[566]

By means of this new fund, they were enabled to find pay and equipment for all the triremes ready or nearly ready in their harbor, and thus to spare a portion from their blockading fleet off Peiræum; out of which Strombichidês with his squadron of eight triremes was despatched immediately to Ionia; followed, after a short interval, by Thrasyklês, with twelve others. At the same time, the seven Chian triremes which also formed part of this fleet, were cleared of their crews; among whom such as were slaves were liberated, while the freemen were put in custody. Besides fitting out an equal number of fresh ships to keep up the numbers of the blockading fleet, the Athenians worked with the utmost ardor to get ready thirty additional triremes. The extreme exigency of the situation, since Chios had revolted, was felt by every one: yet with all their efforts, the force which they were enabled to send was at first lamentably inadequate. Strombichidês, arriving at Samos, and finding Chios, Erythræ, and Klazomenæ already in revolt, reinforced his little squadron with one Samian trireme, and sailed to Teos,—on the continent, at the southern coast of that isthmus, of which Klazomenæ is on the northern,—in hopes of preserving that place. But he had not been long there when Chalkideus arrived from Chios with twenty-three triremes, all or mostly Chian; while the forces of Erythræ and Klazomenæ approached by land. Strombichidês was obliged to make a hasty flight back to Samos, vainly pursued by the Chian fleet. Upon this evidence of Athenian weakness, and the superiority of the enemy, the Teians admitted into their town the land-force without; by the help of which, they now demolished the wall formerly built by Athens to protect the city against attack from the interior. Some of the troops of Tissaphernês lending their aid in the demolition, the town was laid altogether open to the satrap; who, moreover, came himself shortly afterwards to complete the work.[567]

Having themselves revolted from Athens, the Chian government were prompted by considerations of their own safety to instigate revolt in all other Athenian dependencies; and Alkibiadês[p. 375] now took advantage of their forwardness in the cause to make an attempt on Milêtus. He was eager to acquire this important city, the first among all the continental allies of Athens, by his own resources and those of Chios, before the fleet could arrive from Peiræum; in order that the glory of the exploit might be insured to Endius, and not to Agis. Accordingly, he and Chalkideus left Chios with a fleet of twenty-five triremes, twenty of them Chian, together with the five which they themselves had brought from Laconia: these last five had been remanned with Chian crews, the Peloponnesian crews having been armed as hoplites and left as garrison in the island. Conducting his voyage as secretly as possible, he was fortunate enough to pass unobserved by the Athenian station at Samos, where Strombichidês had just been reinforced by Thrasyklês with the twelve fresh triremes from the blockading fleet at Peiræum. Arriving at Milêtus, where he possessed established connections among the leading men, and had already laid his train, as at Chios, for revolt, Alkibiadês prevailed on them to break with Athens forthwith: so that when Strombichidês and Thrasyklês, who came in pursuit the moment they learned his movements, approached, they found the port shut against them, and were forced to take up a station on the neighboring island of Ladê. So anxious were the Chians for the success of Alkibiadês in this enterprise, that they advanced with ten fresh triremes along the Asiatic coast as far as Anæa, opposite to Samos, in order to hear the result and to render aid if required. A message from Chalkideus apprized them that he was master of Milêtus, and that Amorgês, the Persian ally of Athens at Iasus, was on his way at the head of an army; upon which they returned to Chios, but were unexpectedly seen in the way—off the temple of Zeus, between Lebedos and Kolophon—and pursued, by sixteen fresh ships just arrived from Athens, under the command of Diomedon. Of the ten Chian triremes, one found refuge at Ephesus, and five at Teos: the remaining four were obliged to run ashore and became prizes, though the crews all escaped. In spite of this check, however, the Chians came out again with fresh ships and some land-forces, as soon as the Athenian fleet had gone back to Samos, and procured the revolt both of Lebedos and Eræ from Athens.[568]

[p. 376]

It was at Milêtus, immediately after the revolt, that the first treaty was concluded between Tissaphernês, on behalf of himself and the Great King, and Chalkideus, for Sparta and her allies. Probably the aid of Tissaphernês was considered necessary to maintain the town, when the Athenian fleet was watching it so closely on the neighboring island: at least it is difficult to explain otherwise an agreement so eminently dishonorable as well as disadvantageous to the Greeks:—

“The Lacedæmonians and their allies have concluded alliance with the Great King and Tissaphernês, on the following conditions: The king shall possess whatever territories and cities he himself had, or his predecessors had before him. The king, and the Lacedæmonians with their allies, shall jointly hinder the Athenians from deriving either money or other advantages from all those cities which have hitherto furnished to them any such. They shall jointly carry on war against the Athenians, and shall not renounce the war against them, except by joint consent. Whoever shall revolt from the king, shall be treated as an enemy by the Lacedæmonians and their allies; whoever shall revolt from the Lacedæmonians, shall in like manner be treated as an enemy by the king.”[569]

As a first step to the execution of this treaty, Milêtus was handed over to Tissaphernês, who immediately caused a citadel to be erected and placed a garrison within it.[570] If fully carried out, indeed, the terms of the treaty would have made the Great King master not only of all the Asiatic Greeks and all the islanders in the Ægean, but also of all Thessaly and Bœotia, and the full ground which had once been covered by Xerxes.[571] Besides this monstrous stipulation, the treaty farther bound the Lacedæmonians to aid the king in keeping enslaved any Greeks who might be under his dominion. Nor did it, on the other hand, secure to them any pecuniary aid from him for the payment of their armament, which was their great motive for courting his alliance. We shall find the Lacedæmonian authorities themselves hereafter refusing to ratify the treaty, on the ground of its exorbitant concessions. But it stands as a melancholy evidence of the new[p. 377] source of mischief now opening upon the Asiatic and insular Greeks, the moment that the empire of Athens was broken up, the revived pretensions of their ancient lord and master; whom nothing had hitherto kept in check, for the last fifty years, except Athens, first as representative and executive agent, next as successor and mistress, of the confederacy of Delos. We thus see against what evils Athens had hitherto protected them: we shall presently see, what is partially disclosed in this very treaty, the manner in which Sparta realized her promise of conferring autonomy on each separate Grecian state.

The great stress of the war had now been transferred to Ionia and the Asiatic side of the Ægean sea. The enemies of Athens had anticipated that her entire empire in that quarter would fall an easy prey: yet in spite of two such serious defections as Chios and Milêtus, she showed an unexpected energy in keeping hold of the remainder. Her great and capital station, from the present time to the end of the war, was Samos; and a revolution which now happened, insuring the fidelity of that island to her alliance, was a condition indispensable to her power of maintaining the struggle in Ionia.

We have heard nothing about Samos throughout the whole war, since its reconquest by the Athenians after the revolt of 440 B.C.: but we now find it under the government of an oligarchy called the Geômori, the proprietors of land, as at Syracuse before the rule of Gelon. It cannot be doubted that these geômori were disposed to follow the example of the Chian oligarchy, and revolt from Athens, while the people at Samos, as at Chios, were averse to such a change. Under this state of circumstances, the Chian oligarchy had themselves conspired with Sparta, to trick and constrain their Demos by surprise into revolt, through the aid of five Peloponnesian ships. The like would have happened at Samos, had the people remained quiet. But they profited by the recent warning, forestalled the designs of their oligarchy, and rose in insurrection, with the help of three Athenian triremes which then chanced to be in the port. The oligarchy were completely defeated, but not without a violent and bloody struggle; two hundred of them being slain, and four hundred banished. This revolution secured—and probably nothing less than a democratical revolution could have secured, under the existing[p. 378] state of Hellenic affairs—the adherence of Samos to the Athenians; who immediately recognized the new democracy, and granted to it the privilege of an equal and autonomous ally. The Samian people confiscated and divided among themselves the property of such of the geômori as were slain or banished:[572] the remainder were deprived of all political privileges, and were even forbidden to intermarry with any of the families of the remaining citizens.[573] We may fairly suspect that this latter prohibition is[p. 379] only the retaliation of a similar exclusion which the oligarchy, when in power, had enforced to maintain the purity of their own[p. 380] blood. What they had enacted as a privilege was now thrown back upon them as an insult.

[p. 381]

On the other hand, the Athenian blockading fleet was surprised and defeated, with the loss of four triremes, by the Peloponnesian[p. 382] fleet at Peiræum, which was thus enabled to get to Kenchreæ, and to refit in order that it might be sent to Ionia. The sixteen Peloponnesian ships which had fought at Syracuse had already come back to Lechæum, in spite of the obstructions thrown in their way by the Athenian squadron under Hippoklês at Naupaktus.[574] The Lacedæmonian admiral Astyochus was sent to Kenchreæ to take the command and proceed to Ionia as admiral-in-chief: but it was some time before he could depart for Chios, whither he arrived with only four triremes, followed by six more afterwards.[575]

Before he reached that island, however, the Chians, zealous in the new part which they had taken up, and interested for their own safety in multiplying defections from Athens, had themselves undertaken the prosecution of the plans concerted by Agis and the Lacedæmonians at Corinth. They originated an expedition of their own, with thirteen triremes under a Lacedæmonian periœkus named Deiniadas, to procure the revolt of Lesbos; with the view, if successful, of proceeding afterwards to do the same among the Hellespontine dependencies of Athens. A land force under the Spartan Eualas, partly Peloponnesian, partly Asiatic, marched along the coast of the mainland northward towards Kymê, to coöperate in both these objects. Lesbos was at this time divided into at least five separate city governments; Methymna at the north of the island, Mitylênê towards the south-east, Antissa, Eresus, and Pyrrha on the west. Whether these governments were oligarchical or democratical we do not know, but the Athenian kleruchs who had been sent to Mitylênê after[p. 383] its revolt sixteen years before, must have long ago disappeared.[576] The Chian fleet first went to Methymna and procured the revolt of that place, where four triremes were left in guard, while the remaining nine sailed forward to Mitylênê, and succeeded in obtaining that important town also.[577]

Their proceedings, however, were not unwatched by the Athenian fleet at Samos. Unable to recover possession of Teos, Diomedon had been obliged to content himself with procuring neutrality from that town, and admission for the vessels of Athens as well as of her enemies: he had, moreover, failed in an attack upon Eræ.[578] But he had since been strengthened partly by the democratical revolution at Samos, partly by the arrival of Leon with ten additional triremes from Athens: so that these two commanders were now enabled to sail, with twenty-five triremes, to the relief of Lesbos. Reaching Mitylênê—the largest town in that island—very shortly after its revolt, they sailed straight into the harbor when no one expected them, seized the nine Chian ships with little resistance, and after a successful battle on shore, regained possession of the city. The Lacedæmonian admiral Astyochus—who had only been three days arrived at Chios from Kenchreæ with his four triremes—saw the Athenian fleet pass through the channel between Chios and the mainland, on its way to Lesbos; and immediately on the same evening followed it to that island, to lend what aid he could, with one Chian trireme added to his own four, and some hoplites aboard. He sailed first to Pyrrha, and on the next day to Eresus, on the west side of the island, where he first learned the recapture of Mitylênê by the Athenians. He was here also joined by three out of the four Chian triremes which had been left to defend that place, and which had been driven away, with the loss of one of their number, by a portion of the Athenian fleet pushing on thither from Mitylênê. Astyochus prevailed on Eresus to revolt from Athens, and having armed the population, sent them by land together with his own hoplites under Eteonikus to Methymna, in hopes of preserving that place, whither he also proceeded with his fleet along the coast. But in spite of all his endeavors,[p. 384] Methymna as well as Eresus and all Lesbos was recovered by the Athenians, while he himself was obliged to return with his forces to Chios. The land troops which had marched along the mainland, with a view to farther operations at the Hellespont, were carried back to Chios and to their respective homes.[579]

The recovery of Lesbos, which the Athenians now placed in a better posture of defence, was of great importance in itself, and arrested for the moment all operations against them at the Hellespont. Their fleet from Lesbos was first employed in the recovery of Klazomenæ, which they again carried back to its original islet near the shore; the new town on the mainland, called Polichna, though in course of being built, being not yet sufficiently[p. 385] fortified to defend itself. The leading anti-Athenians in the town made their escape, and went farther up the country to Daphnûs. Animated by such additional success—as well as by a victory which the Athenians, who were blockading Milêtus, gained over Chalkideus, wherein that officer was slain—Leon and Diomedon thought themselves in a condition to begin aggressive measures against Chios, now their most active enemy in Ionia. Their fleet of twenty-five sail was well equipped with epibatæ; who, though under ordinary circumstances they were thêtes armed at the public cost, yet in the present stress of affairs were impressed from the superior hoplites in the city muster-roll.[580] They occupied the little islets called Œnussæ, near Chios on the northeast, as well as the forts of Sidussa and Pteleus in the territory of Erythræ; from which positions they began a series of harassing operations against Chios itself. Disembarking on the island at Kardamylê and Bolissus, they not only ravaged the neighborhood, but inflicted upon the Chian forces a bloody defeat. After two farther defeats, at Phanæ and at Leukonium, the Chians no longer dared to quit their fortifications; so that the invaders were left to ravage at pleasure the whole territory, being at the same time masters of the sea around, and blocking up the port.

The Athenians now retaliated upon Chios the hardships under which Attica itself was suffering; hardships the more painfully felt, inasmuch as this was the first time that an enemy had ever been seen in the island since the repulse of Xerxês from Greece and the organization of the confederacy of Delos, more than sixty years before. The territory of Chios was highly cultivated,[581] its commerce extensive, and its wealth among the greatest in all Greece. In fact, under the Athenian empire, its prosperity had been so marked and so uninterrupted, that Thucydidês expresses his astonishment at the undeviating prudence and circumspection of the government, in spite of circumstances well calculated to tempt them into extravagance. “Except Sparta (he says),[582] Chios is the only state that I know,[p. 386] which maintained its sober judgment throughout a career of prosperity, and became even more watchful in regard to security, in proportion as it advanced in power.” He adds, that the step of revolting from Athens, though the Chian government now discovered it to have been an error, was at any rate a pardonable error; for it was undertaken under the impression, universal throughout Greece, and prevalent even in Athens herself after the disaster at Syracuse, that Athenian power, if not Athenian independence, was at an end, and undertaken in conjunction with allies seemingly more than sufficient to sustain it. This remarkable observation of Thucydidês doubtless includes an indirect censure upon his own city, as abusing her prosperity for purposes of unmeasured aggrandizement: a censure not undeserved in reference to the enterprise against Sicily. But it counts at the same time as a valuable testimony to the condition of the allies of Athens under the Athenian empire, and goes far in reply to the charge of practical oppression against the imperial city.

The operations now carrying on in Chios indicated such an unexpected renovation in Athenian affairs, that a party in the island began to declare in favor of reunion with Athens. The Chian government were forced to summon Astyochus, with his four Peloponnesian ships from Erythræ, to strengthen their hands, and keep down opposition, by seizing hostages from the suspected parties, as well as by other precautions. While the Chians were thus endangered at home, the Athenian interest in Ionia was still farther fortified by the arrival of a fresh armament from Athens at Samos. Phrynichus, Onomaklês, and Skironidês conducted a fleet of forty-eight triremes, some of them employed for the transportation of hoplites; of which latter there were aboard one thousand Athenians, and fifteen hundred Argeians. Five hundred of these Argeians, having come to Athens without arms, were clothed with Athenian panoplies for service. The newly-arrived armament immediately sailed from Samos to Milêtus, where it effected a disembarkation, in conjunction with those[p. 387] Athenians who had been before watching the place from the island of Ladê. The Milêsians marched forth to give them battle; mustering eight hundred of their own hoplites, together with the Peloponnesian seamen of the five triremes brought across by Chalkideus, and a body of troops, chiefly cavalry, yet with a few mercenary hoplites, under the satrap Tissaphernês. Alkibiadês, also, was present and engaged. The Argeians were so full of contempt for the Ionians of Milêtus who stood opposite to them, that they rushed forward to the charge with great neglect of rank or order; a presumption which they expiated by an entire defeat, with the loss of three hundred men. But the Athenians on their wing were so completely victorious over the Peloponnesians and others opposed to them, that all the army of the latter, and even the Milesians themselves on returning from their pursuit of the Argeians, were forced to shelter themselves within the walls of the town. The issue of this combat excited much astonishment, inasmuch as, on each side, Ionian hoplites were victorious over Dorian.[583]

For a moment, the Athenian army, masters of the field under the walls of Milêtus, indulged the hope of putting that city under blockade, by a wall across the isthmus which connected it with the continent. But these hopes soon vanished when they were apprized, on the very evening of the battle, that the main Peloponnesian and Sicilian fleet, fifty-five triremes in number, was actually in sight. Of these fifty-five, twenty-two were Sicilian,—twenty from Syracuse and two from Selinus,—sent at the pressing instance of Hermokratês, and under his command, for the purpose of striking the final blow at Athens; so at least it was anticipated, in the beginning of 412 B.C. The remaining thirty-three triremes being Peloponnesian, the whole fleet was placed under the temporary command of Theramenês, until he could join the admiral Astyochus. Theramenês, halting first at the island of Lerus,—off the coast, towards the southward of Milêtus,—was there first informed of the recent victory of the Athenians, so that he thought it prudent to take station for the night in the neighboring gulf of Iasus. Here he was found by Alkibiadês, who came on horseback, in all haste, from Milêtus to the Milesian[p. 388] town of Teichiussa on that gulf. Alkibiadês strenuously urged him to lend immediate aid to the Milêsians, so as to prevent the construction of the intended wall of blockade; representing that if that city were captured, all the hopes of the Peloponnesians in Ionia would be extinguished. Accordingly, he prepared to sail thither the next morning: but, during the night, the Athenians thought it wise to abandon their position near Milêtus and return to Samos with their wounded and their baggage. Having heard of the arrival of Theramenês with his fleet, they preferred leaving their victory unimproved, to the hazard of a general battle. Two out of the three commanders, indeed, were at first inclined to take the latter course, insisting that the maritime honor of Athens would be tarnished by retiring before the enemy. But the third, Phrynichus, opposed with so much emphasis the proposition of fighting, that he at length induced his colleagues to retire. The fleet, he said, had not come prepared for fighting a naval battle, but full of hoplites for land-operations against Milêtus: the numbers of the newly-arrived Peloponnesians were not accurately known; and a defeat at sea, under existing circumstances, would be utter ruin to Athens. Thucydidês bestows much praise on Phrynichus for the wisdom of this advice, which was forthwith acted upon. The Athenian fleet sailed back to Samos; from which place the Argeian hoplites, sulky with their recent defeat, demanded to be conveyed home.[584]

On the ensuing morning, the Peloponnesian fleet sailed from the gulf of Iasus to Milêtus, expecting to find and fight the Athenians, and leaving their masts, sails, and rigging—as was usual when going into action—at Teichiussa. Finding Milêtus already relieved of the enemy, they stayed there only one day, in order to reinforce themselves with the twenty-five triremes which Chalkideus had originally brought thither, and which had been since blocked up by the Athenian fleet at Ladê, and then sailed back to Teichiussa to pick up the tackle there deposited. Being now not far from Iasus, the residence of Amorgês, Tissaphernês persuaded them to attack it by sea, in coöperation with his forces by land. No one at Iasus was aware of the arrival of the Peloponnesian fleet: the triremes approaching were supposed to be[p. 389] Athenians and friends, so that the place was entered and taken by surprise;[585] though strong in situation and fortifications, and defended by a powerful band of Grecian mercenaries. The capture of Iasus, in which the Syracusans distinguished themselves, was of signal advantage, from the abundant plunder which it distributed among the army; the place being rich from ancient date, and probably containing the accumulations of the satrap Pissuthnês, father of Amorgês. It was handed over to Tissaphernês, along with all the prisoners, for each head of whom he paid down a Daric stater, or twenty Attic drachmæ, and along with Amorgês himself, who had been taken alive, and whom the satrap was thus enabled to send up to Susa. The Grecian mercenaries captured in the place were enrolled in the service of the captors, and sent by land under Pedaritus to Erythræ, in order that they might cross over from thence to Chios.[586]

The arrival of the recent reinforcements to both the opposing fleets, and the capture of Iasus, took place about the autumnal equinox or the end of September; at which period, the Peloponnesian fleet being assembled at Milêtus, Tissaphernês paid to them the wages of the crews, at the rate of one Attic drachma per head per diem, as he had promised by his envoy at Sparta. But he at the same time gave notice for the future,—partly at the instigation of Alkibiadês, of which more hereafter,—that he could not continue so high a rate of pay, unless he should receive express instructions from Susa; and that, until such instructions came, he should give only half a drachma per day. Theramenês, being only commander for the interim, until the junction with Astyochus, was indifferent to the rate at which the men were paid,—a miserable jealousy, which marks the low character of many of[p. 390] these Spartan officers,—but the Syracusan Hermokratês remonstrated so loudly against the reduction, that he obtained from Tissaphernês the promise of a slight increase above the half drachma, though he could not succeed in getting the entire drachma continued.[587] For the present, however, the seamen were in good spirits; not merely from having received the high rate of pay, but from the plentiful booty recently acquired at Iasus;[588] while Astyochus and the Chians were also greatly encouraged by the arrival of so large a fleet. Nevertheless, the Athenians on their side were also reinforced by thirty-five fresh triremes, which reached Samos under Strombichidês, Charminus, and Euktêmon. The Athenian fleet from Chios was now recalled to Samos, where the commanders mustered their whole naval force, with a view of redividing it for ulterior operations.

Considering that in the autumn of the preceding year, immediately after the Syracusan disaster, the navy of Athens had been no less scanty in number of ships than defective in equipment, we read with amazement, that she had now at Samos no less than one hundred and four triremes in full condition and disposable for service, besides some others specially destined for the transport of troops. Indeed, the total number which she had sent out, putting together the separate squadrons, had been one hundred and twenty-eight.[589] So energetic an effort, and so unexpected a renovation of affairs from the hopeless prostration of last year, was such as no Grecian state except Athens could have accomplished; nor even Athens herself, had she not been aided by that reserve fund, consecrated twenty years before through the long-sighted calculation of Periklês.

The Athenians resolved to employ thirty triremes in making a landing, and establishing a fortified post, in Chios; and lots being[p. 391] drawn among the generals, Strombichidês with two others were assigned to the command. The other seventy-four triremes, remaining masters of the sea, made descents near Milêtus, and in vain tried to provoke the Peloponnesian fleet out of that harbor. It was some time before Astyochus actually went thither to assume his new command, being engaged in operations near to Chios, which island had been left comparatively free by the recall of the Athenian fleet to the general muster at Samos. Going forth with twenty triremes,—ten Peloponnesian and ten Chian,—he made a fruitless attack upon Pteleus, the Athenian fortified post in the Erythræan territory; after which he sailed to Klazomenæ, recently retransferred from the continent to the neighboring islet. He here—in conjunction with Tamôs, the Persian general of the district—enjoined the Klazomenians again to break with Athens, to leave their islet, and to take up their residence inland at Daphnûs, where the philo-Peloponnesian party among them still remained established since the former revolt. This demand being rejected, he attacked Klazomenæ, but was repulsed, although the town was unfortified, and was presently driven off by a severe storm, from which he found shelter at Kymê and Phokæa. Some of his ships sheltered themselves during the same storm on certain islets near to and belonging to Klazomenæ; on which they remained eight days, destroying and plundering the property of the inhabitants, and then rejoined Astyochus. That admiral was now anxious to make an attempt on Lesbos, from which he received envoys promising revolt from Athens. But the Corinthians and others in his fleet were so averse to the enterprise, that he was forced to relinquish it and sail back to Chios; his fleet, before it arrived there, being again dispersed by the storms, frequent in the month of November.[590]

Meanwhile Pedaritus, despatched by land from Milêtus,—at the head of the mercenary force made prisoners at Iasus, as well as of five hundred of the Peloponnesian seamen who had originally crossed the sea with Chalkideus, and since served as hoplites,—had reached Erythræ and from thence crossed the channel to Chios. To him and to the Chians, Astyochus now proposed to undertake the expedition to Lesbos; but he experi[p. 392]enced from them the same reluctance as from the Corinthians, a strong proof that the tone of feeling in Lesbos had been found to be decidedly philo-Athenian on the former expedition. Pedaritus even peremptorily refused to let him have the Chian triremes for any such purpose, an act of direct insubordination in a Lacedæmonian officer towards the admiral-in-chief, which Astyochus resented so strongly, that he immediately left Chios for Milêtus, carrying away with him all the Peloponnesian triremes, and telling the Chians, in terms of strong displeasure, that they might look in vain to him for aid, if they should come to need it. He halted with his fleet for the night under the headland of Korykus (in the Erythræan territory), on the north side; but while there, he received an intimation of a supposed plot to betray Erythræ by means of prisoners sent back from the Athenian station at Samos. Instead of pursuing his voyage to Milêtus, he therefore returned on the next day to Erythræ to investigate this plot, which turned out to be a stratagem of the prisoners themselves in order to obtain their liberation.[591]

The fact of his thus going back to Erythræ, instead of pursuing his voyage, proved, by accident, the salvation of his fleet. For it so happened that on that same night the Athenian fleet, under Strombichidês—thirty triremes, accompanied by some triremes carrying hoplites—had its station on the southern side of the same headland. Neither knew of the position of the other, and Astyochus, had he gone forward the next day towards Milêtus, would have fallen in with the superior numbers of his enemy. He farther escaped a terrible storm, which the Athenians encountered when they doubled the headland going northward. Descrying three Chian triremes, they gave chase, but the storm became so violent that even these Chians had great difficulty in making their own harbor, while the three foremost Athenian ships were wrecked on the neighboring shore, all the crews either perishing or becoming prisoners.[592] The rest of the Athenian fleet found shelter in the harbor of Phœnikus on the opposite mainland, under the lofty mountain called Mimas, north of Erythræ.

As soon as weather permitted, they pursued their voyage to Lesbos, from which island they commenced their operations of[p. 393] invading Chios and establishing in it a permanent fortified post. Having transported their land-force across from Lesbos, they occupied a strong maritime site called Delphinium, seemingly a projecting cape having a sheltered harbor on each side, not far from the city of Chios.[593] They bestowed great labor and time in fortifying this post, both on the land and the sea-side, during which process they were scarcely interrupted at all either by the Chians, or by Pedaritus and his garrison; whose inaction arose not merely from the discouragement of the previous defeats, but from the political dissension which now reigned in the city. A strong philo-Athenian party had pronounced itself; and though Tydeus its leader was seized by Pedaritus and put to death, still, his remaining partisans were so numerous, that the government was brought to an oligarchy narrower than ever, and to the extreme of jealous precaution, not knowing whom to trust. In spite of numerous messages sent to Milêtus, intreating succor, and representing the urgent peril to which this greatest among all the Ionian allies of Sparta was exposed, Astyochus adhered to his parting menaces, and refused compliance. The indignant Pedaritus sent to prefer complaint against him at Sparta as a traitor. Meanwhile the fortress at Delphinium advanced so near towards completion, that Chios began to suffer from it as much as Athens suffered from Dekeleia, with the farther misfortune of being blocked up by sea. The slaves in this wealthy island—chiefly foreigners acquired by purchase, but more numerous than in any other Grecian state except Laconia—were emboldened by the manifest superiority and assured position of the invaders to desert in crowds; and the loss arising, not merely from their flight, but from the valuable information and aid which they gave to the enemy was immense.[594] The dis[p. 394]tress of the island increased every day, nor could anything relieve it except succor from without, which Astyochus still withheld.

That officer, on reaching Milêtus, found the Peloponnesian force on the Asiatic side of the Ægean just reinforced by a squadron of twelve triremes under Dorieus; chiefly from Thurii, which had undergone a political revolution since the Athenian disaster at Syracuse, and was now decidedly in the hands of the active philo-Laconian party; the chief persons friendly to Athens having been exiled.[595] Dorieus and his squadron, crossing the Ægean in its southern latitude, had arrived safely at Knidus, which had already been conquered by Tissaphernês from Athens, and had received a Persian garrison.[596] Orders were sent from Milêtus that half of this newly-arrived squadron should remain on guard at Knidus, while the other half should cruise near the Triopian cape to intercept the trading vessels from Egypt. But the Athenians, who had also learned the arrival of Dorieus, sent a powerful squadron from Samos, which captured all these six triremes off Cape Triopium, though the crews escaped ashore. They farther made an attempt to recover Knidus, which was very nearly successful, as the town was unfortified on the sea-side. On the morrow the attack was renewed,—but additional defences had been provided during the night, while the crews of the ships captured near Triopium had come in to help,—so that the Athenians were forced to return to Samos without any farther advantage than that of ravaging the Knidian territory. Astyochus took no step to intercept them, nor did he think himself strong enough to keep the sea against the seventy-four Athenian triremes at Samos, though his fleet at Milêtus was at this moment in high condition. The rich booty acquired at Iasus was uncon[p. 395]sumed; the Milêsians were zealous in the confederate cause; while the pay from Tissaphernês continued to be supplied with tolerable regularity, though at the reduced rate mentioned a little above.[597]

Though the Peloponnesians had yet no ground of complaint—such as they soon came to have—against the satrap for irregularity of payment, still, the powerful fleet now at Milêtus inspired the commanders with a new tone of confidence, so that they became ashamed of the stipulations of that treaty to which Chalkideus and Alkibiadês, when first landing at Milêtus with their scanty armament, had submitted. Accordingly Astyochus, shortly after his arrival at Milêtus, and even before the departure of Theramenês,—whose functions had expired when he had handed over the fleet,—insisted on a fresh treaty with Tissaphernês, which was agreed on, to the following effect:—

“Convention and alliance is concluded, on the following conditions, between the Lacedæmonians, with their allies, and king Darius, his sons, and Tissaphernês. The Lacedæmonians and their allies shall not attack or injure any territory or any city which belongs to Darius, or has belonged to his father or ancestors; nor shall they raise any tribute from any of the said cities. Neither Darius nor any of his subjects shall attack or injure the Lacedæmonians or their allies. Should the Lacedæmonians or their allies have any occasion for the king, or should the king have any occasion for the Lacedæmonians or their allies, let each meet, as much as may be, the wishes expressed by the other. Both will carry on jointly the war against Athens and her allies: neither party shall bring the war to a close, without mutual consent. The king shall pay and keep any army which he may have sent for, and which may be employed in his territory. If any of the cities parties to this convention shall attack the king’s territory, the rest engage to hinder them, and to defend the king with their best power. And if any one within the king’s territory, or within the territory subject to him,[598] shall attack the[p. 396] Lacedæmonians or their allies, the king shall hinder them, and lend his best defensive aid.”

Looked at with the eyes of Pan-Hellenic patriotism, this second treaty of Astyochus and Theramenês was less disgraceful than the first treaty of Chalkideus. It did not formally proclaim that all those Grecian cities which had ever belonged to the king or to his ancestors, should still be considered as his subjects, nor did it pledge the Lacedæmonians to aid the king in hindering any of them from achieving their liberty. It still admitted, however, by implication, the same undiminished extent of the king’s dominion, as it had stood when at its maximum under his predecessors; the same undefined rights of the king to meddle with Grecian affairs; the same unqualified abandonment of all the Greeks on the continent of Asia. The conclusion of this treaty was the last act performed by Theramenês, who was lost at sea shortly afterwards, on his voyage home, in a small boat, no one knew how.[599]

Astyochus, now alone in command, was still importuned by the urgent solicitations of the distressed Chians for relief, and, in spite of his reluctance, was compelled by the murmurs of his own army to lend an ear to them, when a new incident happened which gave him at least a good pretext for directing his attention southward. A Peloponnesian squadron of twenty-seven triremes under the command of Antisthenês, having started from Cape Malea about the winter tropic or close of 412 B.C., had first crossed the sea to Melos, where it dispersed ten Athenian triremes and captured three of them; then afterwards, from apprehension that these fugitive Athenians would make known its approach at Samos, had made a long circuit round by Krete, and thus ultimately reached Kaunus at the southeastern extremity of Asia Minor. This was the squadron which Kalligeitus and[p. 397] Timagoras had caused to be equipped, having come over for that purpose a year before as envoys from the satrap Pharnabazus. Antisthenês was instructed first to get to Milêtus and put himself in concert with the main Lacedæmonian fleet; next, to forward these triremes, or another squadron of equal force under Klearchus, to the Hellespont, for the purpose of coöperating with Pharnabazus against the Athenian dependencies in that region. Eleven Spartans, the chief of whom was Lichas, accompanied Antisthenês, to be attached to Astyochus as advisers, according to a practice not unusual with the Lacedæmonians. These men were not only directed to review the state of affairs at Milêtus, and exercise control coördinate with Astyochus, but even empowered, if they saw reason, to dismiss that admiral himself, upon whom the complaints of Pedaritus from Chios had cast suspicion; and to appoint Antisthenês in his place.[600]

No sooner had Astyochus learned at Milêtus the arrival of Antisthenês at Kaunus, than he postponed all idea of lending aid to Chios, and sailed immediately to secure his junction with the twenty-seven new triremes as well as with the new Spartan counsellors. In his voyage southward he captured the city of Kôs, unfortified and half-ruined by a recent earthquake, and then passed on to Knidus; where the inhabitants strenuously urged him to go forward at once, even without disembarking his men, in order that he might surprise an Athenian squadron of twenty triremes under Charmînus; which had been despatched from Samos, after the news received from Melos, in order to attack and repel the squadron under Antisthenês. Charmînus, having his station at Symê, was cruising near Rhodes and the Lykian coast, to watch, though he had not been able to keep back, the Peloponnesian fleet just arrived at Kaunus. In this position he was found by the far more numerous fleet of Astyochus, the approach of which he did not at all expect. But the rainy and hazy weather had so dispersed it, that Charmînus, seeing at first only a few ships apart from the rest, mistook them for the smaller squadron of new-comers. Attacking the triremes thus seen, he at first gained considerable advantage, dis[p. 398]abling three and damaging several others. But presently the dispersed vessels of the main fleet came in sight and closed round him, so that he was forced to make the best speed in escaping, first to the island called Teutlussa, next to Halikarnassus. He did not effect his escape without the loss of six ships; while the victorious Peloponnesians, after erecting their trophy on the island of Symê, returned to Knidus, where the entire fleet, including the twenty-seven triremes newly arrived, was now united.[601] The Athenians in Samos—whose affairs were now in confusion, from causes which will be explained in the ensuing chapter—had kept no watch on the movements of the main Peloponnesian fleet at Milêtus, and seem to have been ignorant of its departure until they were apprized of the defeat of Charmînus. They then sailed down to Symê, took up the sails and rigging belonging to that squadron, which had been there deposited, and then, after an attack upon Loryma, carried back their whole fleet, probably including the remnant of the squadron of Charmînus, to Samos.[602]

Though the Peloponnesian fleet now assembled at Knidus consisted of ninety-four triremes, much superior in number to the Athenian, it did not try to provoke any general action. The time of Lichas and his brother commissioners was at first spent in negotiations with Tissaphernês, who had joined them at Knidus, and against whom they found a strong feeling of discontent prevalent in the fleet. That satrap—now acting greatly under the advice of Alkibiadês, of which also more in the coming chapter—had of late become slack in the Peloponnesian cause, and irregular in furnishing pay to their seamen, during the last weeks of their stay at Milêtus. He was at the same time full of promises, paralyzing all their operations by assurances that he was bringing up the vast fleet of Phenicia to their aid: but in reality his object was, under fair appearances, merely to prolong the contest and waste the strength of both parties. Arriving in the midst of this state of feeling, and discussing with Tissaphernês the future conduct of the war, Lichas not only expressed dis[p. 399]pleasure at his past conduct, but even protested against the two conventions concluded by Chalkideus and by Theramenês, as being, both the one and the other, a disgrace to the Hellenic name. By the express terms of the former, and by the implications of the latter, not merely all the islands of the Ægean, but even Thessaly and Bœotia, were acknowledged as subject to Persia; so that Sparta, if she sanctioned such conditions, would be merely imposing upon the Greeks a Persian sceptre, instead of general freedom, for which she professed to be struggling. Lichas, declaring that he would rather renounce all prospect of Persian pay, than submit to such conditions, proposed to negotiate for a fresh treaty upon other and better terms, a proposition which Tissaphernês rejected with so much indignation as to depart without settling anything.[603]

His desertion did not discourage the Peloponnesian counsellors. Possessing a fleet larger than they had ever before had united in Asia, together with a numerous body of allies, they calculated on being able to get money to pay their men without Persian aid; and an invitation, which they just now received from various powerful men at Rhodes, tended to strengthen such confidence. The island of Rhodes, inhabited by a Dorian population considerable in number as well as distinguished for nautical skill, was at this time divided between three separate city governments, as it had been at the epoch of the Homeric Catalogue,—Lindus, Ialysus, and Kameirus; for the city called Rhodes, formed by a coalescence of all these three, dates only from two or three years after the period which we have now reached. Invited by several of the wealthy men of the island, the Peloponnesian fleet first attacked Kameirus, the population of which, intimidated by a force of ninety-four triremes, and altogether uninformed of their approach, abandoned their city, which had no defences, and fled to the mountains.[604] All the three Rhodian towns, destitute of[p. 400] fortifications, were partly persuaded, partly frightened, into the step of revolting from Athens and allying themselves with the Peloponnesians. The Athenian fleet, whose commanders were just now too busy with political intrigue to keep due military watch, arrived from Samos too late to save Rhodes, and presently returned to the former island, leaving detachments at Chalkê and Kôs to harass the Peloponnesians with desultory attacks.

The Peloponnesians now levied from the Rhodians a contribution of thirty-two talents, and adopted the island as the main station for their fleet, instead of Milêtus. We can explain this change of place by their recent unfriendly discussion with Tissaphernês, and their desire to be more out of his reach.[605] But what we cannot so easily explain, is, that they remained on the island without any movement or military action, and actually hauled their triremes ashore, for the space of no less than eighty days; that is, from about the middle of January to the end of March 411 B.C. While their powerful fleet of ninety-four triremes, superior to that of Athens at Samos, was thus lying idle, their allies in Chios were known to be suffering severe and increasing distress, and repeatedly pressing for aid:[606] moreover, the promise of sending to coöperate with Pharnabazus against the Athenian dependencies on the Hellespont, remained unperformed.[607] We may impute such extreme military slackness mainly to the insidious policy of Tissaphernês, now playing a double game between Sparta and Athens. He still kept up intelligence with the Peloponnesians at Rhodes, paralyzed their energies by assurances that the Phenician fleet was actually on its way to aid them, and insured the success of these intrigues by bribes distributed per[p. 401]sonally among the generals and the trierarchs. Even Astyochus, the general-in-chief, took his share in this corrupt bargain, against which not one stood out except the Syracusan Hermokratês.[608] Such prolonged inaction of the armament, at the moment of its greatest force, was thus not simply the fruit of honest mistake, like the tardiness of Nikias in Sicily, but proceeded from the dishonesty and personal avidity of the Peloponnesian officers.

I have noticed, on more than one previous occasion, the many evidences which exist of the prevalence of personal corruption—even in its coarsest form, that of direct bribery—among the leading Greeks of all the cities, when acting individually. Of such evidences the incident here recorded is not the least remarkable. Nor ought this general fact ever to be forgotten by those who discuss the question between oligarchy and democracy, as it stood in the Grecian world. The confident pretensions put forth by the wealthy and oligarchical Greeks to superior virtue, public as well as private,—and the quiet repetition, by various writers modern and ancient, of the laudatory epithets implying such assumed virtue,—are so far from being borne out by history, that these individuals were perpetually ready as statesmen to betray their countrymen, or as generals even to betray the interests of their soldiers, for the purpose of acquiring money themselves. Of course, it is not meant that this was true of all of them; but it was true sufficiently often, to be reckoned upon as a contingency more than probable. If, speaking on the average, the leading men of a Grecian community were not above the commission of political misdeeds thus palpable, and of a nature not to be disguised even from themselves, far less would they be above the vices, always more or less mingled with self-delusion, of pride, power-seeking, party-antipathy or sympathy, love of ease, etc. And if the community were to have any chance of guarantee against such abuses, it could only be by full license of accusation against delinquents,[p. 402] and certainty of trial before judges identified in interest with the people themselves. Such were the securities which the Grecian democracies, especially that of Athens, tried to provide; in a manner not always wise, still less always effectual, but assuredly justified, in the amplest manner, by the urgency and prevalence of the evil. Yet in the common representations given of Athenian affairs, this evil is overlooked or evaded; the precautions taken against it are denounced as so many evidences of democratical ill-temper and injustice; and the class of men, through whose initiatory action alone such precautions were enforced, are held up to scorn as demagogues and sycophants. Had these Peloponnesian generals and trierarchs, who under the influence of bribes wasted two important months in inaction, been Athenians, there might have been some chance of their being tried and punished; though even at Athens the chance of impunity to offenders, through powerful political clubs and other sinister artifices, was much greater than it ought to have been. So little is it consistent with the truth, however often affirmed, that judicial accusation was too easy, and judicial condemnation too frequent. When the judicial precautions provided at Athens are looked at, as they ought to be, side by side with the evil, they will be found imperfect, indeed, both in the scheme and in the working, but certainly neither uncalled for nor over-severe.


FOOTNOTES

[1] Thucyd. v, 17-29.

[2] Thucyd. v, 18.

[3] Thucyd. v, 14, 22, 76.

[4] Plutarch, Nikias, c. 10.

[5] Thucyd. v, 21, 22.

[6] Thucyd. v, 23. The treaty of alliance seems to have been drawn up at Sparta, and approved or concerted with the Athenian envoys; then sent to Athens, and there adopted by the people; then sworn to on both sides. The interval between this second treaty and the first (οὐ πολλῷ ὕστερον, v, 24), may have been more than a month; for it comprised the visit of the Lacedæmonian envoys to Amphipolis and the other towns of Thrace, the manifestation of resistance in those towns, and the return of Klearidas to Sparta to give an account of his conduct.

[7] Thucyd. v, 24.

[8] Thucyd. iv, 19. Λακεδαιμόνιοι δὲ ὑμᾶς προκαλοῦνται ἐς σπονδὰς καὶ διάλυσιν πολέμου, διδόντες μὲν εἰρήνην καὶ ξυμμαχίαν καὶ ἄλλην φιλίαν πολλὴν καὶ οἰκειότητα ἐς ἀλλήλους ὑπάρχειν, ἀνταιτοῦντες δὲ τοὺς ἐκ τῆς νήσου ἄνδρας.

[9] Thucyd. v, 26. οὐκ εἰκὸς ὂν εἰρήνην αὐτὴν κριθῆναι, etc.

[10] Thucyd. v, 28. κατὰ γὰρ τὸν χρόνον τοῦτον ἥ τε Λακεδαίμων μάλιστα δὴ κακῶς ἤκουσε καὶ ὑπερώφθη διὰ τὰς ξυμφορὰς.—(Νικίας) λέγων ἐν μὲν τῷ σφετέρῳ καλῷ (Athenian) ἐν δὲ τῷ ἐκείνων ἀπρεπεῖ (Lacedæmonian) τὸν πόλεμον ἀναβάλλεσθαι, etc. (v, 46)—Οἷς πρῶτον μὲν (to the Lacedæmonians) διὰ ξυμφορῶν ἡ ξύμβασις, etc.

[11] Aristophan. Pac. 665-887.

[12] Thucyd. v, 21-35.

[13] Thucyd. v, 32.

[14] Thucyd. v, 35. λέγοντες ἀεὶ ὡς μετ’ Ἀθηναίων τούτους, ἢν μὴ θέλωσι, κοινῇ ἀναγκάσουσι· χρόνους δὲ προὔθεντο ἄνευ ξυγγραφῆς, ἐν οἷς χρῆν τοὺς μὴ ἐσιόντας ἀμφοτέροις πολεμίους εἶναι.

[15] Thucyd. v, 35. τούτων οὖν ὁρῶντες οἱ Ἀθηναῖοι οὐδὲν ἔργῳ γιγνόμενον, ὑπετόπευον τοὺς Λακεδαιμονίους μηδὲν δίκαιον διανοεῖσθαι, ὥστε οὔτε Πύλον ἀπαιτούντων αὐτῶν ἀπεδίδοσαν, ἀλλὰ καὶ τοὺς ἐκ τῆς νήσου ἄνδρας μετεμέλοντο ἀποδεδωκότες, etc.

[16] Thucyd. v, 35. πολλάκις δὲ καὶ πολλῶν λόγων γενομένων ἐν τῷ θέρει τούτῳ, etc.

[17] Thucyd. v, 28. Aristophan. Pac. 467, about the Argeians, δίχοθεν μισθοφοροῦντες ἄλφιτα.

He characterizes the Argeians as anxious for this reason to prolong the war between Athens and Sparta. This passage, as well as the whole tenor of the play, affords ground for affirming that the Pax was represented during the winter immediately preceding the Peace of Nikias, about four or five months after the battle of Amphipolis and the death of Kleon and Brasidas; not two years later, as Mr. Clinton would place it, on the authority of a date in the play itself, upon which he lays too great stress.

[18] Thucyd. v, 67. Ἀργείων οἱ Χίλιοι λογάδες, οἷς ἡ πόλις ἐκ πολλοῦ ἄσκησιν τῶν ἐς τὸν πόλεμον δημοσίᾳ παρεῖχε.

Diodorus (xii, 75) represents the first formation of this Thousand-regiment at Argos as having taken place just about this time, and I think he is here worthy of credit; so that I do not regard the expression of Thucydidês ἐκ πολλοῦ as indicating a time more than two years prior to the battle of Mantineia. For Grecian military training, two years of constant practice would be a long time. It is not to be imagined that the Argeian democracy would have incurred the expense and danger of keeping up this select regiment during all the period of their long peace, just now coming to an end.

[19] Thucyd. v, 29. μὴ μετὰ Ἀθηναίων σφᾶς βούλωνται Λακεδαιμόνιοι δουλώσασθαι: compare Diodorus, xii, 75.

[20] Thucyd. v, 28.

[21] Thucyd. iv, 134.

[22] Thucyd. v, 29. τοῖς γὰρ Μαντινεῦσι μέρος τι τῆς Ἀρκαδίας κατέστραπτο ὑπήκοον, ἔτι τοῦ πρὸς Ἀθηναίους πολέμου ὄντος, καὶ ἐνόμιζον οὐ περιόψεσθαι σφᾶς τοὺς Λακεδαιμονίους ἄρχειν, ἐπειδὴ καὶ σχολὴν ἦγον.

As to the way in which the agreement of the members of the confederacy modified the relations between subordinate and imperial states, see farther on, pages 25 and 26, in the case of Elis and Lepreum.

[23] Thucyd. i, 125.

[24] Thucyd. v, 29. Ἀποστάντων δὲ τῶν Μαντινέων, καὶ ἡ ἄλλη Πελοπόννησος ἐς θροῦν καθίστατο ὡς καὶ σφίσι ποιητέον τοῦτο, νομίζοντες πλέον τέ τι εἰδότας μεταστῆναι αὐτοὺς, καὶ τοὺς Λακεδαιμονίους ἅμα δι’ ὀργῆς ἔχοντες, etc.

[25] Thucyd. v, 30. Κορίνθιοι δὲ παρόντων σφίσι τῶν ξυμμάχων, ὅσοι οὐδ’ αὐτοὶ ἐδέξαντο τὰς σπονδάς (παρεκάλεσαν δὲ αὐτοὺς αὐτοὶ πρότερον) ἀντέλεγον τοῖς Λακεδαιμονίοις, ἃ μὲν ἠδικοῦντο, οὐ δηλοῦντες ἄντικρυς, etc.

[26] Thucyd. v, 30.

[27] Thucyd. v, 31. Βοιωτοὶ δὲ καὶ Μεγαρῆς τὸ αὐτὸ λέγοντες ἡσύχαζον, περιορώμενοι ὑπὸ τῶν Λακεδαιμονίων, καὶ νομίζοντες σφίσι τὴν Ἀργείων δημοκρατίαν αὐτοῖς ὀλιγαρχουμένοις ἧσσον ξύμφορον εἶναι τῆς Λακεδαιμονίων πολιτείας.

These words, περιορώμενοι ὑπὸ τῶν Λακεδαιμονίων, are not clear, and have occasioned much embarrassment to the commentators, as well as some propositions for altering the text. It would undoubtedly be an improvement in the sense, if we were permitted (with Dobree) to strike out the words ὑπὸ τῶν Λακεδαιμονίων as a gloss, and thus to construe περιορώμενοι as a middle verb, “waiting to see the event,” or literally, “keeping a look-out about them.” But taking the text as it now stands, the sense which I have given to it seems the best which can be elicited.

Most of the critics translate περιορώμενοι “slighted or despised by the Lacedæmonians.” But in the first place, this is not true as a matter of fact: in the next place, if it were true, we ought to have an adversative conjunction instead of καὶ before νομίζοντες, since the tendency of the two motives indicated would then be in opposite directions. “The Bœotians, though despised by the Lacedæmonians, still thought a junction with the Argeian democracy dangerous.” And this is the sense which Haack actually proposes, though it does great violence to the word καὶ.

Dr. Thirlwall and Dr. Arnold translate περιορώμενοι “feeling themselves slighted;” and the latter says, “The Bœotians and Megarians took neither side; not the Lacedæmonian, for they felt that the Lacedæmonians had slighted them; not the Argive, for they thought that the Argive democracy would suit them less than the constitution of Sparta.” But this again puts an inadmissible meaning on ἡσύχαζον, which means “stood as they were.” The Bœotians were not called upon to choose between two sides or two positive schemes of action: they were invited to ally themselves with Argos, and this they decline doing: they prefer to remain as they are, allies of Lacedæmon, but refusing to become parties to the peace. Moreover, in the sense proposed by Dr. Arnold, we should surely find an adversative conjunction in place of καὶ.

I submit that the word περιορᾶν does not necessarily mean “to slight or despise,” but sometimes “to leave alone, to take no notice of, to abstain from interfering.” Thus, Thucyd. i, 24. Ἐπιδάμνιοι—πέμπουσιν ἐς τὴν Κερκύραν πρέσβεις—δεόμενοι μὴ σφᾶς περιορᾶν φθειρομένους, etc. Again, i, 69, καὶ νῦν τοὺς Ἀθηναίους οὐχ ἑκάς ἀλλ’ ἐγγὺς ὄντας περιορᾶτε, etc. The same is the sense of περιϊδεῖν and περιόψεσθαι, ii, 20. In all these passages there is no idea of contempt implied in the word: the “leaving alone” or “abstaining from interference,” proceeds from feelings quite different from contempt.

So in the passage here before us, περιορώμενοι seems the passive participle in this sense. Thucydidês, having just described an energetic remonstrance sent by the Spartans to prevent Corinth from joining Argos, means to intimate (by the words here in discussion) that no similar interference was resorted to by them to prevent the Bœotians and Megarians from joining her: “The Bœotians and Megarians remained as they were, left to themselves by the Lacedæmonians, and thinking the Argeian democracy less suitable to them than the oligarchy of Sparta.”

[28] Thucyd. v, 31. Καὶ μέχρι τοῦ Ἀττικοῦ πολέμου ἀπέφερον· ἔπειτα παυσαμένων διὰ πρόφασιν τοῦ πολέμου, οἱ Ἠλεῖοι ἐπηνάγκαζον, οἱ δ’ ἐτράποντο πρὸς τοὺς Λακεδαιμονίους.

For the agreement here alluded to, see a few lines forward.

[29] Thucyd. v, 31. τὴν ξυνθήκην προφέροντες ἐν ᾗ εἴρητο, ἃ ἔχοντες ἐς τὸν Ἀττικὸν πόλεμον καθίσταντό τινες, ταῦτα ἔχοντας καὶ ἐξελθεῖν, ὡς οὐκ ἴσον ἔχοντες ἀφίστανται, etc.

Of the agreement here alluded to among the members of the Peloponnesian confederacy, we hear only in this one passage. It was extremely important to such of the confederates as were imperial cities; that is, which had subordinates or subject-allies.

Poppo and Bloomfield wonder that the Corinthians did not appeal to this agreement in order to procure the restitution of Sollium and Anaktorium. But they misconceive the scope of the agreement, which did not relate to captures made during the war by the common enemy. It would be useless for the confederacy to enter into a formal agreement that none of the members should lose anything through capture made by the enemy. This would be a question of superiority of force, for no agreement could bind the enemy. But the confederacy might very well make a covenant among themselves, as to the relations between their own imperial immediate members, and the mediate or subordinate dependencies of each. Each imperial state consented to forego the tribute or services of its dependency, so long as the latter was called upon to lend its aid in the general effort of the confederacy against the common enemy. But the confederacy at the same time gave its guarantee, that the imperial state should reënter upon these suspended rights, so soon as the war should be at an end. This guarantee was clearly violated by Sparta in the case of Elis and Lepreum. On the contrary, in the case of Mantineia, mentioned a few pages back, p. 19, the Mantineians had violated the maxim of the confederacy, and Sparta was justified in interfering at the request of their subjects to maintain the autonomy of the latter.

[30] Thucyd. v, 32. Κορινθίοις δὲ ἀνακωχὴ ἄσπονδος ἦν πρὸς Ἀθηναίους.

Upon which Dr. Arnold remarks: “By ἄσπονδος is meant a mere agreement in words, not ratified by the solemnities of religion. And the Greeks, as we have seen, considered the breach of their word very different from the breach of their oath.”

Not so much is here meant even as that which Dr. Arnold supposes. There was no agreement at all, either in words or by oath. There was a simple absence of hostilities, de facto, not arising out of any recognized pledge. Such is the meaning of ἀνακωχὴ, i, 66; iii, 25, 26.

The answer here made by the Athenians to the application of Corinth is not easy to understand. They might, with much better reason, have declined to conclude the ten day’s armistice with the Bœotians, because these latter still remained allies of Sparta, though refusing to accede to the general peace; whereas the Corinthians, having joined Argos, had less right to be considered allies of Sparta. Nevertheless, we shall still find them attending the meetings at Sparta, and acting as allies of the latter.

[31] Thucyd. v, 33, 34. The Neodamodes were Helots previously enfranchised, or the sons of such.

[32] Thucyd. iv, 80.

[33] Thucyd. v, 34. Ἀτίμους ἐποίησαν, ἀτιμίαν δὲ τοιαύτην, ὥστε μήτε ἄρχειν, μήτε πριαμένους τι, ἢ πωλοῦντας, κυρίους εἶναι.

[34] Thucyd. v, 32.

[35] Thucyd. v, 35-39. I agree with Dr. Thirlwall and Dr. Arnold in preferring the conjecture of Poppo, Χαλκιδῆς, in this place.

[36] Thucyd. v, 36.

[37] Thucyd. v, 37. ἐπεσταλμένοι ἀπό τε τοῦ Κλεοβούλου καὶ Ξενάρους καὶ ὅσοι φίλοι ἦσαν αὐτοῖς, etc.

[38] Thucyd. v, 36.

[39] Thucyd. v, 38. οἰόμενοι τὴν βουλὴν, κἂν μὴ εἴπωσιν, οὐκ ἄλλα ψηφιεῖσθαι ἢ ἃ σφίσι προδιαγνόντες παραινοῦσιν ... ταῖς τέσσαρσι βουλαῖς τῶν Βοιωτῶν, αἵπερ ἅπαν τὸ κῦρος ἔχουσι.

[40] Thucyd. v, 38.

[41] See Colonel Leake, Travels in Northern Greece, vol. ii, ch. xvii, p. 370.

[42] Thucyd. v, 3.

[43] Thucyd. v, 41. Τοῖς δὲ Λακεδαιμονίοις τὸ μὲν πρῶτον ἐδόκει μωρία εἶναι ταῦτα· ἔπειτα (ἐπεθύμουν γὰρ τὸ Ἄργος πάντως φίλιον ἔχειν) ξυνεχώρησαν ἐφ’ οἷς ἠξίουν, καὶ ξυνεγράψαντο.

By the forms of treaty which remain, we are led to infer that the treaty was not subscribed by any signatures, but drawn up by the secretary or authorized officer, and ultimately engraved on a column. The names of those who take the oath are recorded, but seemingly no official signature.

[44] Thucyd. v. 42.

[45] Thucyd. v. 42.

[46] Thucyd. v. 43. Ἀλκιβιάδης ... ἀνὴρ ἡλικίᾳ μὲν ὢν ἔτι τότε νέος, ὡς ἐν ἄλλῃ πόλει, ἀξιώματι δὲ προγόνων τιμώμενος.

The expression cf Plutarch, however, ἔτι μειράκιον, seems an exaggeration (Alkibiad. c. 10).

Kritias and Chariklês, in reply to the question of Sokratês, whom they had forbidden to converse with or teach young men, defined a young man to be one under thirty years of age, the senatorial age at Athens (Xenophon, Memor. i. 2. 35).

[47] Plato, Protagoras, c. 10, p. 320; Plutarch, Alkibiad. c. 2, 3, 4; Isokratês, De Bigis, Orat. xvi, p. 353, sect. 33, 34; Cornel. Nepos, Alkibiad. c. 1.

[48] Πέπονθα δὲ πρὸς τοῦτον (Σωκράτη) μόνον ἀνθρώπων, ὃ οὐκ ἄν τις οἴοιτο ἐν ἐμοὶ ἐνεῖναι, τὸ αἰσχύνεσθαι ὁντινοῦν.

This is a part of the language which Plato puts into the mouth of Alkibiadês, in the Symposion, c. 32, p. 216; see also Plato, Alkibiad. i, c. 1, 2, 3.

Compare his other contemporary, Xenophon, Memor. i, 2, 16-25.

Φύσει δὲ πολλῶν ὄντων καὶ μεγάλων πάθων ἐν αὐτῷ τὸ φιλόνεικον ἰσχυρότατον ἦν καὶ τὸ φιλόπρωτον, ὡς δῆλόν ἐστι τοῖς παιδικοῖς ὑπομνήμασι (Plutarch, Alkib. c. 2).

[49] I translate, with some diminution of the force of the words, the expression of a contemporary author, Xenophon, Memorab. i, 2. 24. Ἀλκιβιάδης δ’ αὖ διὰ μὲν κάλλος ὑπὸ πολλῶν καὶ σεμνῶν γυναικῶν θηρώμενος, etc.

[50] Demosthen. cont. Meidiam, c. 49; Thucyd. vi, 16; Antipho apud Athenæum, xii, p. 525.

[51] Athenæus, ix, p. 407.

[52] Thucyd. vi, 15. I translate the expression of Thucydidês, which is of great force and significance—φοβηθέντες γὰρ αὐτοῦ οἱ πολλοὶ τὸ μέγεθος τῆς τε κατὰ τὸ ἑαυτοῦ σῶμα παρανομίας ἐς τὴν δίαιταν, etc. The same word is repeated by the historian, vi, 28. τὴν ἄλλην αὐτοῦ ἐς τὰ ἐπιτηδεύματα οὐ δημοτικὴν παρανομίαν.

The same phrase is also found in the short extract from the λοιδορία of Antipho (Athenæus, xii, p. 525).

The description of Alkibiadês, given in that Discourse called the Ἐρωτικὸς Λόγος, erroneously ascribed to Demosthenês (c. 12, p. 1414), is more discriminating than we commonly find in rhetorical compositions. Τοῦτο δ’, Ἀλκιβιάδην εὑρήσεις φύσει μὲν πρὸς ἀρετὴν πολλῷ χεῖρον διακείμενον, καὶ τὰ μὲν ὑπερηφάνως, τὰ δὲ ταπεινῶς, τὰ δ’ ὑπεράκρως, ζῆν προῃρημένον· ἀπὸ δὲ τῆς Σωκράτους ὁμιλίας πολλὰ μὲν ἐπανορθωθέντα τοῦ βίου, τὰ δὲ λοιπὰ τῷ μεγέθει τῶν ἄλλων ἔργων ἐπικρυψάμενον.

Of the three epithets, whereby the author describes the bad tendencies of Alkibiadês, full illustrations will be seen in his proceedings, hereafter to be described. The improving influence here ascribed to Sokratês is unfortunately far less borne out.

[53] Plutarch, Alkibiad. c. 4; Cornel. Nepos, Alkibiad. c. 2; Plato, Protagoras, c. 1.

I do not know how far the memorable narrative ascribed to Alkibiadês in the Symposium of Plato (c. 33, 34, pp. 216, 217) can be regarded as matter of actual fact and history, so far as Sokratês is concerned; but it is abundant proof in regard to the general relations of Alkibiadês with others: compare Xenophon, Memorab. i, 2, 29, 30; iv. 1-2.

Several of the dialogues of Plato present to us striking pictures of the palæstra, with the boys, the young men, the gymnastic teachers, engaged in their exercises or resting from them, and the philosophers and spectators who came there for amusement and conversation. See particularly the opening chapters of the Lysis and the Charmidês; also the Rivales, where the scene is laid in the house of a γραμματιστὴς, or schoolmaster. In the Lysis, Sokratês professes to set his own conversation with these interesting youths as an antidote to the corrupting flatteries of most of those who sought to gain their good-will. Οὕτω χρὴ, ὦ Ἱππόθαλες, τοῖς παιδικοῖς διαλέγεσθαι, ταπεινοῦντα καὶ συστέλλοντα, ἀλλὰ μὴ, ὥσπερ σὺ, χαυνοῦντα καὶ διαθρύπτοντα (Lysis, c. 7, p. 210).

See, in illustration of what is here said about Alkibiadês as a youth, Euripid. Supplic. 906 (about Parthenopæus), and the beautiful lines in the Atys of Catullus, 60-69.

There cannot be a doubt that the characters of all the Greek youth of any pretensions were considerably affected by this society and conversation of their boyish years; though the subject is one upon which the full evidence cannot well be produced and discussed.

[54] Plutarch, Alkibiadês, c. 10.

[55] See the description in the Protagoras of Plato, c. 8, p. 317.

[56] See Xenophon, Memorab. i, 2, 12-24, 39-47.

Κριτίας μὲν καὶ Ἀλκιβιάδης, οὐκ ἀρέσκοντος αὐτοῖς Σωκράτους ὡμιλησάτην, ὃν χρόνον ὡμιλείτην αὐτῷ, ἀλλ’ εὐθὺς ἐξ ἀρχῆς ὡρμηκότε προεστάναι τῆς πόλεως. Ἔτι γὰρ Σωκράτει ξυνόντες οὐκ ἄλλοις τισὶ μᾶλλον ἐπεχείρουν διαλέγεσθαι ἢ τοῖς μάλιστα πράττουσι τὰ πολιτικά.... Ἐπεὶ τοίνυν τάχιστα τῶν πολιτευομένων ὑπέλαβον κρείττονες εἶναι, Σωκράτει μὲν οὐκ ἔτι προσῄεσαν, οὐδὲ γὰρ αὐτοῖς ἄλλως ἤρεσκεν· εἴτε προσέλθοιεν, ὑπὲρ ὧν, ἡμάρτανον ἐλεγχόμενοι ἤχθοντο· τὰ δὲ τῆς πóλεως ἔπραττον, ὧνπερ ἕνεκεν καὶ Σωκράτει προσῆλθον. Compare Plato, Apolog. Sokrat. c. 10, p. 23; c. 22, p. 33.

Xenophon represents Alkibiadês and Kritias as frequenting the society of Sokratês, for the same reason and with the same objects as Plato affirms that young men generally went to the Sophists: see Plato, Sophist. c. 20, p. 232 D.

“Nam et Socrati (observes Quintilian, Inst. Or. ii, 16) objiciunt comici, docere cum, quomodo pejorem causam meliorem reddat; et contra Tisiam et Gorgiam similia dicit polliceri Plato.”

The representation given by Plato of the great influence acquired by Sokratês over Alkibiadês, and of the deference and submission of the latter, is plainly not to be taken as historical, even if we had not the more simple and trustworthy picture of Xenophon. Isokratês goes so far as to say that Sokratês was never known by any one as teacher of Alkibiadês: which is an exaggeration in the other direction. Isokratês, Busiris, Or. xi. sect. 6, p. 222.

[57] Plato, Symposium, c. 35-36, p. 220, etc.

[58] See the representation, given in the Protagoras of Plato, of the temper in which the young and wealthy Hippokratês goes to seek instruction from Protagoras, and of the objects which Protagoras proposes to himself in imparting the instruction. Plato, Protagoras, c. 2, p. 310 D.; c. 8, p. 316 C.; c. 9, p. 318, etc.: compare also Plato, Meno. p. 91, and Gorgias, c. 4. p. 449 E., asserting the connection, in the mind of Gorgias, between teaching to speak and teaching to think—λέγειν καὶ φρονεῖν, etc.

It would not be reasonable to repeat, as true and just, all the polemical charges against those who are called Sophists, even as we find them in Plato, without scrutiny and consideration. But modern writers on Grecian affairs run down the Sophists even more than Plato did, and take no notice of the admissions in their favor which he, though their opponent, is perpetually making.

This is a very extensive subject, to which I hope to revert.

[59] I dissent entirely from the judgment of Dr. Thirlwall, who repeats what is the usual representation of Sokratês and the Sophists, depicting Alkibiadês as “ensnared by the Sophists,” while Sokratês is described as a good genius preserving him from their corruptions (Hist. of Greece, vol. iii, ch. xxiv, pp. 312, 313, 314). I think him also mistaken when he distinguishes so pointedly Sokratês from the Sophists; when he describes the Sophists as “pretenders to wisdom;” as “a new school;” as “teaching that there was no real difference between truth and falsehood, right and wrong,” etc.

All the plausibility that there is in this representation, arises from a confusion between the original sense and the modern sense of the word Sophist; the latter seemingly first bestowed upon the word by Plato and Aristotle. In the common ancient acceptation of the word at Athens, it meant not a school of persons professing common doctrines, but a class of men bearing the same name, because they derived their celebrity from analogous objects of study and common intellectual occupation. The Sophists were men of similar calling and pursuits, partly speculative, partly professional; but they differed widely from each other, both in method and doctrine. (See for example Isokratês, cont. Sophistas, Orat. xiii; Plato, Meno. p. 87 B.) Whoever made himself eminent in speculative pursuits, and communicated his opinions by public lecture, discussion, or conversation, was called a Sophist, whatever might be the conclusions which he sought to expound or defend. The difference between taking money, and expounding gratuitously, on which Sokratês himself was so fond of dwelling (Xenoph. Memor. i, 6, 12), has plainly no essential bearing on the case. When Æschinês the orator reminds the dikasts, “Recollect that you Athenians put to death the Sophist Sokratês, because he was shown to have been the teacher of Kritias,” (Æschin. cont. Timarch. c. 34, p. 74,) he uses the word in its natural and true Athenian sense. He had no point to make against Sokratês, who had then been dead more than forty years; but he describes him by his profession or occupation, just as he would have said, Hippokratês the physician, Pheidias the sculptor, etc. Dionysius of Halikarn. calls both Plato and Isokratês sophists (Ars Rhetor. De Compos. Verborum, p. 208 R.). The Nubes of Aristophanês, and the defences put forth by Plato and Xenophon, show that Sokratês was not only called by the name Sophist, but regarded just in the same light as that in which Dr. Thirlwall presents to us what he calls “the new School of the Sophists;” as “a corruptor of youth, indifferent to truth or falsehood, right or wrong,” etc. See a striking passage in the Politicus of Plato, c. 38, p. 299 B. Whoever thinks, as I think, that these accusations were falsely advanced against Sokratês, will be careful how he advances them against the general profession to which Sokratês belonged.

That there were unprincipled and immoral men among the class of Sophists—as there are and always have been among schoolmasters, professors, lawyers, etc., and all bodies of men—I do not doubt; in what proportion, we cannot determine. But the extreme hardship of passing a sweeping condemnation on the great body of intellectual teachers at Athens, and canonizing exclusively Sokratês and his followers, will be felt, when we recollect that the well-known Apologue, called the Choice of Hercules, was the work of the Sophist Prodikus, and his favorite theme of lecture (Xenophon, Memor. ii, 1, 21-34). To this day, that Apologue remains without a superior, for the impressive simplicity with which it presents one of the most important points of view of moral obligation: and it has been embodied in a greater number of books of elementary morality than anything of Sokratês, Plato, or Xenophon. To treat the author of that Apologue, and the class to which he belonged, as teaching “that there was no real difference between right and wrong, truth and falsehood,” etc., is a criticism not in harmony with the just and liberal tone of Dr. Thirlwall’s history.

I will add that Plato himself, in a very important passage of the Republic (vi, c. 6, 7, pp. 492-493), refutes the imputation against the Sophists of being specially the corruptors of youth. He represents them as inculcating upon their youthful pupils that morality which was received as true and just in their age and society; nothing better, nothing worse. The grand corruptor, he says, is society itself; the Sophists merely repeat the voice and judgment of society. Without inquiring at present how far Plato or Sokratês were right in condemning the received morality of their countrymen, I most fully accept his assertion that the great body of the contemporary professional teachers taught what was considered good morality among the Athenian public: there were doubtless some who taught a better morality, others who taught a worse. And this may be said with equal truth of the great body of professional teachers in every age and nation.

Xenophon enumerates various causes to which he ascribes the corruption of the character of Alkibiadês; wealth, rank, personal beauty, flatterers, etc.; but he does not name the Sophists among them (Memorab. i, 2. 24, 25).

[60] Cornel. Nepos, Alkibiad. c. 1; Satyrus apud Athenæum, xii, p. 534; Plutarch, Alkibiad. c. 23.

Οὗ γὰρ τοιούτων δεῖ, τοιοῦτος εἰμ’ ἐγώ, says Odysseus, in the Philoktêtês of Sophoklês.

[61] I follow the criticism which Plutarch cites from Theophrastus, seemingly discriminating and measured: much more trustworthy than the vague eulogy of Nepos, or even of Demosthenês (of course not from his own knowledge), upon the eloquence of Alkibiadês (Plutarch, Alkib. c. 10); Plutarch, Reipubl. Gerend. Præcept. c. 8, p. 804.

Antisthenês, companion and pupil of Sokratês, and originator of what is called the Cynic philosophy, contemporary and personally acquainted with Alkibiadês, was full of admiration for his extreme personal beauty, and pronounced him to be strong, manly, and audacious, but unschooled, ἀπαίδευτον. His scandals about the lawless life of Alkibiadês, however, exceed what we can reasonably admit, even from a contemporary (Antisthenês ap. Athenæum, v, p. 220, xii, p. 534). Antisthenês had composed a dialogue called Alkibiadês (Diog. Laërt. vi, 15).

See the collection of the Fragmenta Antisthenis (by A. G. Winckelmann, Zurich, 1842, pp. 17-19).

The comic writers of the day—Eupolis, Aristophanês, Pherekratês, and others—seem to have been abundant in their jests and libels against the excesses of Alkibiadês, real or supposed. There was a tale, untrue, but current in comic tradition, that Alkibiadês, who was not a man to suffer himself to be insulted with impunity, had drowned Eupolis in the sea, in revenge, for his comedy of the Baptæ. See Meineke, Fragm. Com. Græ. Eupolidis Βάπται and Κόλακες (vol. ii, pp. 447-494), and Aristophanês Τριφαλῆς, p. 1166: also Meineke’s first volume, Historia Critica Comic. Græc. pp. 124-136; and the Dissertat. xix, in Buttmann’s Mythologus, on the Baptæ and the Cotyttia.

[62] Thucyd. vi, 15. Compare Plutarch, Reip. Ger. Præc. c. 4, p. 800. The sketch which Plato draws in the first three chapters of the ninth Book of the Republic, of the citizen who erects himself into a despot and enslaves his fellow-citizens, exactly suits the character of Alkibiadês. See also the same treatise, vi, 6-8, pp. 491-494, and the preface of Schleiermacher to his translation of the Platonic dialogue called Alkibiadês the first.

[63] Aristophan. Ranæ, 1445-1453; Plutarch, Alkibiadês, c. 16; Plutarch, Nikias, c. 9.

[64] Thucyd. v, 43, vi, 90; Isokratês, De Bigis, Or. xvi, p. 352, sect. 27-30.

Plutarch (Alkibiad. c. 14) carelessly represents Alkibiadês as being actually proxenus of Sparta at Athens.

[65] Thucyd. v, 43. Οὐ μέντοι ἀλλὰ καὶ φρονήματι φιλονεικῶν ἠναντιοῦτο, ὅτι Λακεδαιμόνιοι διὰ Νικίου καὶ Λάχητος ἔπραξαν τὰς σπονδὰς, αὐτὸν διὰ τὴν νεότητα ὑπεριδόντες καὶ κατὰ τὴν παλαιὰν προξενίαν ποτὲ οὖσαν οὐ τιμήσαντες, ἣν τοῦ πάππου ἀπειπόντος αὐτὸς τοὺς ἐκ τῆς νήσου αὐτῶν αἰχμαλώτους θεραπεύων διενοεῖτο ἀνανεώσασθαι. Πανταχόθεν τε νομίζων ἐλασσοῦσθαι τό τε πρῶτον ἀντεῖπεν, etc.

[66] Thucyd. v, 43.

[67] Thucyd. v, 48.

[68] Thucyd. v, 44. Ἀφίκοντο δὲ καὶ Λακεδαιμονίων πρέσβεις κατὰ τάχος, etc.

[69] Thucyd. viii, 6. Ἐνδίῳ τῷ ἐφορεύοντι πατρικὸς ἐς τὰ μάλιστα φίλος—ὅθεν καὶ τοὔνομα Λακωνικὸν ἡ οἰκία αὐτῶν κατὰ τὴν ξενίαν ἔσχεν· Ἔνδιος γὰρ Ἀλκιβιάδου ἐκαλεῖτο.

I incline to suspect, from this passage, that the father of Endius was not named Alkibiadês, but that Endius himself was nevertheless named Ἔνδιος Ἀλκιβιάδου, in consequence of the peculiar intimacy of connection with the Athenian family in which that name occurred. If the father of Endius was really named Alkibiadês, Endius himself would naturally, pursuant to general custom, be styled Ἔνδιος Ἀλκιβιάδου: there would be nothing in this denomination to call for the particular remark of Thucydidês. But according to the view of the Scholiast and most commentators, all that Thucydidês wishes to explain here is, how the father of Endius came to receive the name of Alkibiadês. Now if he had meant this, he surely would not have used the terms which we read: the circumstance to be explained would then have reference to the father of Endius, not to Endius himself, nor to the family generally. His words imply that the family, that is, each successive individual of the family, derived his Laconian designation (not from the name of his father, but) from his intimate connection of hospitality with the Athenian family of Alkibiadês. Each successive individual attached to his own personal name the genitive case Ἀλκιβιάδου, instead of the genitive of his real father’s name. Doubtless this was an anomaly in Grecian practice; but on the present occasion, we are to expect something anomalous; had it not been such, Thucydidês would not have stepped aside to particularize it.

[70] Thucyd. v, 45. Μηχανᾶται δὲ πρὸς αὐτοὺς τοῖονδέ τι ὁ Ἀλκιβιάδης· τοὺς Λακεδαιμονίους πείθει, πίστιν αὐτοῖς δοὺς, ἢν μὴ ὁμολογήσωσιν ἐν τῷ δήμῳ αὐτοκράτορες ἥκειν, Πύλον τε αὐτοῖς ἀποδώσειν (πείσειν γὰρ αὐτὸς Ἀθηναίους, ὥσπερ καὶ νῦν ἀντιλέγειν) καὶ τἄλλα ξυναλλάξειν. Βουλόμενος δὲ αὐτοὺς Νικίου τε ἀποστῆσαι ταῦτα ἔπραττε, καὶ ὅπως ἐν τῷ δήμῳ διαβαλὼν αὐτοὺς ὡς οὐδὲν ἀληθὲς ἐν νῷ ἔχουσιν, οὐδὲ λέγουσιν οὐδέποτε ταὐτὰ, τοὺς Ἀργείους ξυμμάχους ποιήσῃ.

[71] Plutarch (Alkibiad. c. 14). Ταῦτα δ’ εἰπὼν ὅρκους ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς, καὶ μετέστησεν ἀπὸ τοῦ Νικίου παντάπασι πιστεύοντας αὐτῷ, καὶ θαυμάζοντας ἅμα τὴν δεινότητα καὶ σύνεσιν, ὡς οὐ τοῦ τυχόντος ἀνδρὸς οὖσαν. Again, Plutarch, Nikias, c. 10.

[72] Plutarch, Alkib. c. 14. Ἐρωτώμενοι δ’ ὑπὸ τοῦ Ἀλκιβιάδου πάνυ φιλανθρώπως, ἐφ’ οἷς ἀφιγμένοι τυγχάνουσιν, οὐκ ἔφασαν ἥκειν αὐτοκράτορες.

[73] Thucyd. v, 45. Οἱ Ἀθηναῖοι οὐκέτι ἠνείχοντο, ἀλλὰ τοῦ Ἀλκιβιάδου πολλῷ μᾶλλον ἢ πρότερον καταβοῶντος τῶν Λακεδαιμονίων, ἐσήκουόν τε καὶ ἑτοῖμοι ἦσαν εὐθὺς παραγαγεῖν τοὺς Ἀργείους, etc.

Compare Plutarch, Alkib. c. 14; and Plutarch, Nikias, c. 10.

[74] Euripid. Andromach. 445-455; Herodot. ix, 54.

[75] Thucyd. v, 46.

[76] Thucyd. v, 46; Plutarch, Nikias, c. 10.

[77] Thucyd. v, 47. ὑπὲρ σφῶν αὐτῶν καὶ τῶν ξυμμάχων ὧν ἄρχουσιν ἑκάτεροι.

[78] Thucyd. v, 48. καὶ τῶν ξυμμάχων ὧν ἂν ἄρχουσιν ἕκαστοι. The tense and phrase here deserve notice, as contrasted with the phrase in the former part of the treaty—τῶν ξυμμάχων ὧν ἄρχουσιν ἑκάτεροι.

The clause imposing actual obligation to hinder the passage of troops, required to be left open for application to the actual time.

[79] Thucyd. v, 47.

[80] Thucyd. v, 48.

[81] Thucyd. v, 48-50.

[82] Καταθέντων δὲ καὶ Ὀλυμπίασι στήλην χαλκῆν κοινῇ Ὀλυμπίοις τοῖς νυνί (Thucyd. v, 47), words of the treaty.

[83] Dorieus of Rhodes was victor in the Pankration, both in Olymp. 88 and 89, (428-424 B.C.). Rhodes was included among the tributary allies of Athens. But the athletes who came to contend were privileged and (as it were) sacred persons, who were never molested or hindered from coming to the festival, if they chose to come, under any state of war. Their inviolability was never disturbed even down to the harsh proceeding of Aratus (Plutarch, Aratus, c. 28).

But this does not prove that Rhodian visitors generally, or a Rhodian theôry, could have come to Olympia between 431-421 in safety.

From the presence of individuals, even as spectators, little can be inferred: because, even at this very Olympic festival of 420 B.C., Lichas the Spartan was present as a spectator, though all Lacedæmonians were formally excluded by proclamation of the Eleians (Thucyd. v, 50).

[84] Of the taste and elegance with which these exhibitions were usually got up in Athens, surpassing generally every other city in Greece, see a remarkable testimony in Xenophon, Memorabil. iii, 3, 12.

[85] Thucyd. vi, 16. Οἱ γὰρ Ἕλληνες καὶ ὑπὲρ δύναμιν μείζω ἡμῶν τὴν πόλιν ἐνόμισαν τῷ ἐμῷ διαπρεπεῖ τῆς Ὀλυμπίαζε θεωρίας, πρότερον ἐλπίζοντες αὐτὴν καταπεπολεμῆσθαι· διότι ἅρματα μὲν ἑπτὰ καθῆκα, ὅσα οὐδείς πω ἰδιώτης πρότερον, ἐνίκησά τε, καὶ δεύτερος καὶ τέταρτος ἐγενόμην, καὶ τἄλλα ἀξίως τῆς νίκης παρεσκευασάμην.

The full force of this grandiose display cannot be felt unless we bring to our minds the special position both of Athens and the Athenian allies towards Olympia,—and of Alkibiadês himself towards Athens, Argos, and the rest of Greece,—in the first half of the year 420 B.C.

Alkibiadês obtained from Euripidês the honor of an epinikian ode, or song of triumph, to celebrate this event; of which a few lines are preserved by Plutarch (Alkib. c. 11). It is curious that the poet alleges Alkibiadês to have been first, second, and third, in the course; while Alkibiadês himself, more modest and doubtless more exact, pretends only to first, second, and fourth. Euripidês informs us that Alkibiadês was crowned twice and proclaimed twice—δὶς στεφθέντ’ ἐλαίᾳ κάρυκι βοᾷν παραδοῦναι. Reiske, Coray, and Schäfer, have thought it right to alter this word δὶς to τρὶς, without any authority, which completely alters the asserted fact. Sintenis in his edition of Plutarch has properly restored the word δὶς.

How long the recollection of this famous Olympic festival remained in the Athenian public mind, is attested partly by the Oratio de Bigis of Isokratês, composed in defence of the son of Alkibiadês at least twenty-five years afterwards, perhaps more. Isokratês repeats the loose assertion of Euripidês, πρῶτος, δεύτερος, and τρίτος (Or. xvi, p. 353, sect. 40). The spurious Oration called that of Andokidês against Alkibiadês also preserves many of the current tales, some of which I have admitted into the text, because I think them probable in themselves, and because that oration itself may reasonably be believed to be a composition of the middle of the fourth century B.C. That oration puts all the proceedings of Alkibiadês in a very invidious temper and with palpable exaggeration. The story of Alkibiadês having robbed an Athenian named Diomêdês of a fine chariot, appears to be a sort of variation on the story about Tisias, which figures in the oration of Isokratês; see Andokid. cont. Alkib. sect. 26: possibly Alkibiadês may have left one of the teams not paid for. The aid lent to Alkibiadês by the Chians, Ephesians, etc., as described in that oration, is likely to be substantially true, and may easily be explained. Compare Athenæ. i, p. 3.

Our information about the arrangements of the chariot-racing at Olympia is very imperfect. We do not distinctly know how the seven chariots of Alkibiadês ran,—in how many races,—for all the seven could not, in my judgment, have run in one and the same race. There must have been many other chariots to run, belonging to other competitors: and it seems difficult to believe that ever a greater number than ten can have run in the same race, since the course involved going twelve times round the goal (Pindar, Ol. iii, 33; vi, 75). Ten competing chariots run in the race described by Sophoklês (Electr. 708), and if we could venture to construe strictly the expression of the poet,—δέκατον ἐκπληρῶν ὄχον,—it would seem that ten was the extreme number permitted to run. Even so great a number as ten was replete with danger to the persons engaged, as may be seen by reading the description in Sophoklês (compare Demosth. Ἐρωτ. Λογ. p. 1410), who refers indeed to a Pythian and not an Olympic solemnity: but the main circumstances must have been common to both; and we know that the twelve turns (δωδεκάγναμπτον δωδεκάδρομον) were common to both (Pindar, Pyth. v, 31).

Alkibiadês was not the only person who gained a chariot victory at this 90th Olympiad, 420 B.C. Lichas the Lacedæmonian also gained one (Thucyd. v, 50), though the chariot was obliged to be entered in another name, since the Lacedæmonians were interdicted from attendance.

Dr. Thirlwall (Hist. of Greece, vol. iii, ch. xxiv, p. 316) says: “We are not aware that the Olympiad, in which these chariot-victories of Alkibiadês were gained, can be distinctly fixed. But it was probably Olymp. 89, B.C. 424.”

In my judgment, both Olymp. 88 (B.C. 428) and Olymp. 89 (B.C. 424) are excluded from the possible supposition, by the fact that the general war was raging at both periods. To suppose that in the midst of the summer of these two fighting years, there was an Olympic truce for a month, allowing Athens and her allies to send thither their solemn legations, their chariots for competition, and their numerous individual visitors, appears to me contrary to all probability. The Olympic month of B.C. 424, would occur just about the time when Brasidas was at the Isthmus levying troops for his intended expedition to Thrace, and when he rescued Megara from the Athenian attack. This would not be a very quiet time for the peaceable Athenian visitors, with the costly display of gold and silver plate and the ostentatious theôry, to pass by, on its way to Olympia. During the time when the Spartans occupied Dekeleia, the solemn processions of communicants at the Eleusinian mysteries could never march along the Sacred Way from Athens to Eleusis. Xen. Hell. i, 4, 20.

Moreover, we see that the very first article both of the Truce for one year and of the Peace of Nikias, expressly stipulate for liberty to all to attend the common temples and festivals. The first of the two relates to Delphi expressly: the second is general, and embraces Olympia as well as Delphi. If the Athenians had visited Olympia in 428 or 424 B.C. without impediment, these stipulations in the treaties would have no purpose nor meaning. But the fact of their standing in the front of the treaty, proves that they were looked upon as of much interest and importance.

I have placed the Olympic festival wherein Alkibiadês contended with his seven chariots, in 420 B.C., in the peace, but immediately after the war. No other festival appears to me at all suitable.

Dr. Thirlwall farther assumes, as a matter of course, that there was only one chariot-race at this Olympic festival, that all the seven chariots of Alkibiadês ran in this one race, and that in the festival of 420 B.C., Lichas gained the prize: thus implying that Alkibiadês could not have gained the prize at the same festival.

I am not aware that there is any evidence to prove either of these three propositions. To me they all appear improbable and unfounded.

We know from Pausanias (vi, 13, 2) that even in the case of the stadiodromi, or runners who contended in the stadium, all were not brought out in one race. They were distributed into sets, or batches, of what number we know not. Each set ran its own heat, and the victors in each then competed with each other in a fresh heat; so that the victor who gained the grand final prize was sure to have won two heats.

Now if this practice was adopted with the foot-runners, much more would it be likely to be adopted with the chariot-racers in case many chariots were brought to the same festival. The danger would be lessened, the sport would be increased, and the glory of the competitors enhanced. The Olympic festival lasted five days, a long time to provide amusement for so vast a crowd of spectators. Alkibiadês and Lichas may therefore both have gained chariot-victories at the same festival: of course only one of them can have gained the grand final prize, and which of the two that was it is impossible to say.

[86] Thucyd. v, 49, 50.

[87] Thucyd. v, 50. Λακεδαιμόνιοι μὲν εἴργοντο τοῦ ἱεροῦ, θυσίας καὶ ἀγώνων, καὶ οἴκοι ἔθυον· οἱ δὲ ἄλλοι Ἕλληνες ἐθεώρουν, πλὴν Λεπρεατῶν.

[88] Thucyd. v, 28. Κατὰ γὰρ τὸν χρόνον τοῦτον ἥ τε Λακεδαίμων μάλιστα δὴ κακῶς ἤκουσε, καὶ ὑπερώφθη διὰ τὰς ξυμφορὰς, οἵ τε Ἀργεῖοι ἄριστα ἔσχον τοῖς πᾶσι, etc.

[89] See a previous note, p. 56.

[90] Thucyd. v, 50. Λίχας ὁ Ἀρκεσιλάου Λακεδαιμόνιος ἐν τῷ ἀγῶνι ὑπὸ τῶν ῥαβδούχων πληγὰς ἔλαβεν, ὅτι νικῶντος τοῦ ἑαυτοῦ ζεύγους, καὶ ἀνακηρυχθέντος Βοιωτῶν δημοσίου κατὰ τὴν οὐκ ἐξουσίαν τῆς ἀγωνίσεως προελθὼν ἐς τὸν ἀγῶνα ἀνέδησε τὸν ἡνίοχον, βουλόμενος δηλῶσαι ὅτι ἑαυτοῦ ἦν τὸ ἅρμα.

We see by comparison with this incident how much less rough and harsh was the manner of dealing at Athens, and in how much more serious a light blows to the person were considered. At the Athenian festival of the Dionysia, if a person committed disorder or obtruded himself into a place not properly belonging to him in the theatre, the archon or his officials were both empowered and required to repress the disorder by turning the person out, and fining him, if necessary. But they were upon no account to strike him. If they did, they were punishable themselves by the dikastery afterwards (Demosth. cont. Meidiam, c. 49).

[91] It will be seen, however, that the Lacedæmonians remembered and revenged themselves upon the Eleians for this insult twelve years afterwards during the plenitude of their power (Xenoph. Hellen. iii, 2, 21; Diodor. xiv, 17).

[92] Thucyd. v, 51, 52.

[93] Thucyd. v, 48-50.

[94] Plato, Symposion, c. 35, p. 220. δεινοὶ γὰρ αὐτόθι χειμῶνες, πάγου οἵου δεινοτάτου, etc.

[95] Thucyd. v, 52. Isokratês (De Bigis, sect. 17, p. 349) speaks of this expedition of Alkibiadês in his usual loose and exaggerated language: but he has a right to call attention to it as something very memorable at the time.

[96] Thucyd. v, 52.

[97] Thucyd. v, 53, with Dr. Arnold’s note.

[98] Thucyd. v, 54. ᾔδει δὲ οὐδεὶς ὅποι στρατεύουσιν οὐδὲ αἱ πόλεις ἐξ ὧν ἐπέμφθησαν.

This incident shows that Sparta employed the military force of her allies without any regard to their feelings, quite as decidedly as Athens; though there were some among them too powerful to be thus treated.

[99] Thucyd. v, 54. Ἀργεῖοι δ’ ἀναχωρησάντων αὐτῶν (the Lacedæmonians), τοῦ πρὸ τοῦ Καρνείου μηνὸς ἐξελθόντες τετράδι φθίνοντος, καὶ ἄγοντες τὴν ἡμέραν ταύτην πάντα τὸν χρόνον, ἐσέβαλον ἐς τὴν Ἐπιδαυρίαν καὶ ἐδῄουν· Ἐπιδαύριοι δὲ τοὺς ξυμμάχους ἐπεκαλοῦντο· ὧν οἱ μὲν τὸν μῆνα προυφασίσαντο, οἱ δὲ καὶ ἐς μεθορίαν τῆς Ἐπιδαυρίας ἐλθόντες ἡσύχαζον.

In explaining this passage, I venture to depart from the views of all the commentators; with the less scruple, as it seems to me that even the best of them are here embarrassed and unsatisfactory.

The meaning which I give to the words is the most strict and literal possible: “The Argeians, having set out on the 26th of the month before Karneius, and keeping that day during the whole time, invaded the Epidaurian territory, and went on ravaging it.” By “during the whole time” is meant, during the whole time that this expedition lasted. That is, in my judgment, they kept the twenty-sixth day of the antecedent month for a whole fortnight or so; they called each successive day by the same name; they stopped the computed march of time; the twenty-seventh was never admitted to have arrived. Dr. Thirlwall translates it (Hist. Gr. vol. iii, ch. xxiv, p. 331): “They began their march on a day which they had always been used to keep holy.” But surely the words πάντα τὸν χρόνον must denote some definite interval of time, and can hardly be construed as equivalent to ἀεί. Moreover the words, as Dr. Thirlwall construes them, introduce a new fact which has no visible bearing on the main affirmation of the sentence.

The meaning which I give may perhaps be called in question on the ground that such tampering with the calendar is too absurd and childish to have been really committed. Yet it is not more absurd than the two votes of the Athenian assembly (in 290 B.C.), who being in the month of Munychion, first passed a vote that that month should be the month Anthestêrion; next, that it should be the month Boêdromion; in order that Demetrius Poliorkêtês might be initiated both in the lesser and greater mysteries of Dêmêtêr, both at once and at the same time. Demetrius arrived at Athens in the month Munychion, and went through both ceremonies with little or no delay; the religious scruple, and the dignity of the Two Goddesses being saved by altering the name of the month twice (Plutarch, Demetrius, c. 26).

Besides, if we look to the conduct of the Argeians themselves at a subsequent period (B.C. 389, Xenophon, Hellen. iv, 7, 2, 5; v, 1, 29), we shall see them playing an analogous trick with the calendar in order to get the benefit of the sacred truce. When the Lacedæmonians invaded Argos, the Argeians despatched heralds with wreaths and the appropriate insignia, to warn them off on the ground of its being the period of the holy truce,—though it really was not so,—οὐχ ὅποτε κάθηκοι ὁ χρόνος, ἀλλ’ ὅποτε ἐμβάλλειν μέλλοιεν Λακεδαιμόνιοι, τότε ὑπέφερον τοὺς μῆνας—Οἱ δ’ Ἀργεῖοι ἐπεὶ ἔγνωσαν οὐ δυνησόμενοι κωλύειν, ἔπεμψαν, ὥσπερ εἰώθεσαν, ἐστεφανωμένους δύο κήρυκας ὑποφέροντας σπονδάς. On more than one occasion, this stratagem was successful: the Lacedæmonians did not dare to act in defiance of the summons of the heralds, who affirmed that it was the time of the truce, though in reality it was not so. At last, the Spartan king Agesipolis actually went both to Olympia and Delphi, to put the express question to those oracles, whether he was bound to accept the truce at any moment, right or wrong, when it might suit the convenience of the Argeians to bring it forward as a sham plea (ὑποφέρειν). The oracles both told him that he was under no obligation to submit to such a pretence; accordingly, he sent back the heralds, refusing to attend to their summons, and invaded the Argeian territory.

Now here is a case exactly in point, with this difference; that the Argeians, when they are invaders of Epidaurus, falsify the calendar in order to blot out the holy truce where it really ought to have come: whereas when they are the party invaded, they commit similar falsification in order to introduce the truce where it does not legitimately belong. I conceive, therefore, that such an analogous incident completely justifies the interpretation which I have given of the passage now before us in Thucydidês.

But even if I were unable to produce a case so exactly parallel, I should still defend the interpretation. Looking to the state of the ancient Grecian calendars, the proceeding imputed to the Argeians ought not to be looked on as too preposterous and absurd for adoption, with the same eyes as we should regard it now.

With the exception of Athens, we do not know completely the calendar of a single other Grecian city: but we know that the months of all were lunar months, and that the practice followed in regard to intercalation, for the prevention of inconvenient divergence between lunar and solar time, was different in each different city. Accordingly, the lunar month of one city did not, except by accident, either begin or end at the same time as the lunar month of another. M. Boeckh observes (ad Corp. Inscr. t. i, p. 734): “Variorum populorum menses, qui sibi secundum legitimos annorum cardines respondent, non quovis conveniunt anno, nisi cyclus intercalationum utrique populi idem sit: sed ubi differunt cycli, altero populo prius intercalante mensem dum non intercalat alter, eorum qui non intercalarunt mensis certus cedit jam in eum mensem alterorum qui præcedit illum cui vulgo respondet certus iste mensis: quod tamen negligere solent chronologi.” Compare also the valuable Dissertation of K. F. Hermann, Ueber die Griechische Monatskunde, Götting. 1844, pp. 21-27, where all that is known about the Grecian names and arrangement of months is well brought together.

The names of the Argeian months we hardly know at all (see K. F. Hermann, pp. 84-124): indeed, the only single name resting on positive proof, is that of a month Hermæus. How far the months of Argos agreed with those of Epidaurus or Sparta we do not know, nor have we any right to presume that they did agree. Nor is it by any means clear that every city in Greece had what may properly be called a system of intercalation, so correct as to keep the calendar right without frequent arbitrary interferences. Even at Athens, it is not yet satisfactorily proved that the Metonic calendar was ever actually received into civil use. Cicero, in describing the practice of the Sicilian Greeks about reckoning of time, characterizes their interferences for the purpose of correcting the calendar as occasional rather than systematic. Verres took occasion from these interferences to make a still more violent change, by declaring the Ides of January to be the calends of March (Cicero, Verr. ii, 52, 129).

Now where a people are accustomed to get wrong in their calendar, and to see occasional interferences introduced by authority to set them right, the step which I here suppose the Argeians to have taken about the invasion of Epidaurus will not appear absurd and preposterous. The Argeians would pretend that the real time for celebrating the festival of Karneia had not yet arrived. On that point, they were not bound to follow the views of other Dorian states, since there does not seem to have been any recognized authority for proclaiming the commencement of the Karneian truce, as the Eleians proclaimed the Olympic and the Corinthians the Isthmiac truce. In saying, therefore, that the twenty-sixth of the month preceding Karneius should be repeated, and that the twenty-seventh should not be recognized as arriving for a fortnight or three weeks, the Argeian government would only be employing an expedient the like of which had been before resorted to; though, in the case before us, it was employed for a fraudulent purpose.

The Spartan month Hekatombeus appears to have corresponded with the Attic month Hekatombæon; the Spartan month following it, Karneius, with the Attic month Metageitnion (Hermann, p. 112), our months July and August; such correspondence being by no means exact or constant. Both Dr. Arnold and Göller speak of Hekatombeus as if it were the Argeian month preceding Karneius: but we only know it as a Spartan month. Its name does not appear among the months of the Dorian cities in Sicily, among whom nevertheless Karneius seems universal. See Franz, Comm. ad Corp. Inscript. Græc. No. 5475, 5491, 5640. Part xxxii, p. 640.

The tricks played with the calendar at Rome, by political authorities for party purposes, are well known to every one. And even in some states of Greece, the course of the calendar was so uncertain as to serve as a proverbial expression for inextricable confusion. See Hesychius—Ἐν Κέῳ τις ἡμέρα; Ἐπὶ τῶν οὐκ εὐγνώστον· οὐδεὶς γὰρ οἶδεν ἐν Κέῳ τις ἡ ἡμέρα, ὅτι οὐκ ἑστᾶσιν αἱ ἡμέραι, ἀλλ’ ὡς ἕκαστοι θέλουσιν ἄγουσι. See also Aristoph. Nubes, 605.

[100] Thucyd. v, 55. καὶ Ἀθηναίων αὐτοῖς χίλιοι ἐβοήθησαν ὁπλῖται καὶ Ἀλκιβιάδης στρατηγὸς: πυθόμενοι τοὺς Λακεδαιμονίους ἐξεστρατεῦσθαι· καὶ ὡς οὐδὲν ἔτι αὐτῶν ἔδει, ἀπῆλθον. This is the reading which Portus, Bloomfield, Didot, and Göller, either adopt or recommend; leaving out the particle δὲ which stands in the common text after πυθόμενοι.

If we do not adopt this reading, we must construe ἐξεστρατεῦσθαι, as Dr. Arnold and Poppo construe it, in the sense of “had already completed their expedition and returned home.” But no authority is produced for putting such a meaning upon the verb ἐκστρατεύω: and the view of Dr. Arnold, who conceives that this meaning exclusively belongs to the preterite or pluperfect tense, is powerfully contradicted by the use of the word ἐξεστρατευμένων (ii, 7), the same verb and the same tense, yet in a meaning contrary to that which he assigns.

It appears to me the least objectionable proceeding of the two, to dispense with the particle δέ.

[101] Thucyd. v, 56.

[102] Thucyd. v, 37.

[103] Thucyd. v, 58. Οἱ δὲ Ἀργεῖοι γνόντες ἐβοήθουν ἡμέρας ἤδη ἐκ τῆς Νεμέας, etc.

[104] Thucyd. v, 60. Οἱ δὲ Λακεδαιμόνιοι καὶ οἱ ξύμμαχοι εἵποντο μὲν ὡς ἡγεῖτο διὰ τὸν νόμον, ἐν αἰτίᾳ δὲ εἶχον κατ’ ἀλλήλους πολλῇ τὸν Ἆγιν, etc.

[105] Thucyd. v, 60. Ἀργεῖοι δὲ καὶ αὐτοὶ ἔτι ἐν πολλῷ πλέονι αἰτίᾳ εἶχον τοὺς σπεισαμένους ἄνευ τοῦ πλήθους, etc.

[106] Thucyd. v, 60.

[107] Thucyd. v, 62.

[108] Thucyd. v, 64. ὅσον οὐκ ἀφέστηκεν, etc.

[109] Thucyd. v, 63.

[110] Thucyd. v, 64. ἐνταῦθα δὴ βοήθεια τῶν Λακεδαιμονίων γίγνεται αὐτῶν τε καὶ τῶν Εἱλώτων πανδημεὶ ὀξεῖα καὶ οἵα οὔπω πρότερον. The out-march of the Spartans just before the battle of Platæa (described in Herodot. vii, 10) seems, however, to have been quite as rapid and instantaneous.

[111] Thucyd. v, 64. ξυνέκλῃε γὰρ διὰ μέσου.

[112] The Lacedæmonian kings appear to have felt a sense of protection in encamping near a temple of Hêraklês, their heroic progenitor (see Xenophon, Hellen. vii, 1, 31).

[113] Thucyd. v, 65. See an exclamation by an old Spartan mentioned as productive of important consequences, at the moment when a battle was going to commence, in Xenophon, Hellen. vii, 4, 25.

[114] Thucyd. v, 66. μάλιστα δὴ Λακεδαιμόνιοι ἐς ὃ ἐμέμνηντο, ἐν τούτῳ τῷ καιρῷ ἐξεπλάγησαν· διὰ βραχείας γὰρ μελλήσεως ἡ παρασκευὴ αὐτοῖς ἐγίγνετο, etc.

[115] Thucyd. v, 66. Σχεδὸν γάρ τι πᾶν, πλὴν ὀλίγου, τὸ στρατόπεδον τῶν Λακεδαιμονίων ἄρχοντες ἀρχόντων εἰσὶ, καὶ τὸ ἐπιμελὲς τοῦ δρωμένου πολλοῖς προσήκει.

Xenophon, De Republ. Laced. xi, 5. Αἱ παραγωγαὶ ὥσπερ ὑπὸ κήρυκος ὑπὸ τοῦ ἐνωμοτάρχου λόγῳ δηλοῦνται: compare xi, 8, τῷ ἐνωμοτάρχῃ παρεγγυᾶται εἰς μέτωπον παρ’ ἄσπιδα καθίστασθαι, etc.

[116] Thucyd. v, 66. εὐθὺς ὑπὸ σπουδῆς καθίσταντο ἐς κόσμον τὸν ἑαυτῶν, Ἄγιδος τοῦ βασιλέως ἕκαστα ἐξηγουμένου κατὰ τὸν νόμον, etc.

[117] Xenophon, Cyrop. iv, 2. 1: see Diodor. xv, c. 32; Xenophon, Rep. Laced. xiii, 6.

[118] Thucyd. v, 67.

[119] Very little can be made out respecting the structure of the Lacedæmonian army. We know that the enômoty was the elementary division, the military unit: that the pentekosty was composed of a definite (not always the same) number of enômoties: that the lochus also was composed of a definite (not always the same) number of pentekosties. The mora appears to have been a still larger division, consisting of so many lochi (according to Xenophon, of four lochi): but Thucydidês speaks as if he knew no division larger than the lochus.

Beyond this very slender information, there seems no other fact certainly established about the Lacedæmonian military distribution. Nor ought we reasonably to expect to find that these words enômoty, pentekosty, lochus, etc., indicate any fixed number of men: our own names regiment, company, troop, brigade, division, etc., are all more or less indefinite as to positive numbers and proportion to each other.

That which was peculiar to the Lacedæmonian drill, was, the teaching a small number of men like an enômoty (twenty-five, thirty-two, thirty-six men, as we sometimes find it), to perform its evolutions under the command of its enômotarch. When this was once secured, it is probable that the combination of these elementary divisions was left to be determined in every case by circumstances.

Thucydidês states two distinct facts. 1. Each enômoty had four men in front. 2. Each enômoty varied in depth, according as every lochagus chose. Now Dobree asks, with much reason, how these two assertions are to be reconciled? Given the number of men in front, the depth of the enômoty is of course determined, without any reference to the discretion of any one. These two assertions appear distinctly contradictory; unless we suppose (what seems very difficult to believe) that the lochage might make one or two of the four files of the same enômoty deeper than the rest. Dobree proposes, as a means of removing this difficulty, to expunge some words from the text. One cannot have confidence, however, in the conjecture.

[120] Thucyd. v, 69. Λακεδαιμόνιοι δὲ καθ’ ἑκάστους τε καὶ μετὰ τῶν πολεμικῶν νόμων ἐν σφίσιν αὐτοῖς ὧν ἠπίσταντο τὴν παρακέλευσιν τῆς μνήμης ἀγαθοῖς οὖσιν ἐποιοῦντο, εἰδότες ἔργων ἐκ πολλοῦ μελέτην πλείω σώζουσαν ἢ λόγων δι’ ὀλίγου καλῶς ῥηθέντων παραίνεσιν.

[121] Thucyd. v, 70. Ἀργεῖοι μὲν καὶ οἱ ξύμμαχοι, ἐντόνως καὶ ὀργῇ χωροῦντες, Λακεδαιμόνιοι δὲ, βραδέως καὶ ὑπὸ αὐλητῶν πολλῶν νόμῳ ἐγκαθεστώτων, οὐ τοῦ θείου χάριν, ἀλλ’ ἵνα ὁμαλῶς μετὰ ῥυθμοῦ βαίνοντες προσέλθοιεν καὶ μὴ διασπασθείη αὐτῶν ἡ τάξις, ὅπερ φιλεῖ τὰ μεγάλα στρατόπεδα ἐν ταῖς προσόδοις ποιεῖν.

[122] Thucyd. v, 67. Τότε δὲ κέρας μὲν εὐώνυμον Σκιρῖται αὐτοῖς καθίσταντο, ἀεὶ ταύτην τὴν τάξιν μόνοι Λακεδαιμονίων ἐπὶ σφῶν αὐτῶν ἔχοντες, etc.

The strong and precise language, which Thucydidês here uses, shows that this was a privilege pointedly noted and much esteemed: among the Lacedæmonians, especially, ancient routine was more valued than elsewhere. And it is essential to take notice of the circumstance, in order to appreciate the generalship of Agis, which has been rather hardly criticized.

[123] Thucyd. v, 72. (Οἱ Λακεδαιμόνιοι τοὺς Ἀργείους) Ἔτρεψαν οὐδὲ ἐς χεῖρας τοὺς πολλοὺς ὑπομείναντας, ἀλλ’ ὡς ἐπῇσαν οἱ Λακεδαιμόνιοι εὐθὺς ἐνδόντας, καὶ ἐστὶν οὓς καὶ καταπατηθέντας, τοῦ μὴ φθῆναι τὴν ἐγκατάληψιν.

The last words of this sentence present a difficulty which has perplexed all the commentators, and which none of them have yet satisfactorily cleared up.

They all admit that the expressions, τοῦ, τοῦ μὴ, preceding the infinitive mood as here, signify design or purpose; ἕνεκα being understood. But none of them can construe the sentence satisfactorily with this meaning: accordingly they here ascribe to the words a different and exceptional meaning. See the notes of Poppo, Göller, and Dr. Arnold, in which notes the views of other critics are cited and discussed.

Some say that τοῦ μὴ in this place means the same as ὥστε μή: others affirm, that it is identical with διὰ τὸ μὴ or with τῷ μή. “Formula τοῦ, τοῦ μὴ (say Bauer and Göller), plerumque consilium significat: interdum effectum (i. e. ὥστε μή); hic causam indicat (i. e. διὰ τὸ μὴ, or τῷ μή).” But I agree with Dr. Arnold in thinking that the last of these three alleged meanings is wholly unauthorized; while the second, which is adopted by Dr. Arnold himself, is sustained only by feeble and dubious evidence; for the passage of Thucydidês (ii, 4. τοῦ μὴ ἐκφεύγειν) may be as well construed, as Poppo’s note thereupon suggests, without any such supposed exceptional sense of the words.

Now it seems to me quite possible to construe the words τοῦ μὴ φθῆναι here in their regular and legitimate sense of ἕνεκα τοῦ, or consilium. But first an error must be cleared up which pervades the view of most of the commentators. They suppose that those Argeians, who are here affirmed to have been “trodden under foot,” were so trodden down by the Lacedæmonians in their advance. But this is in every way improbable. The Lacedæmonians were particularly slow in their motions, regular in their ranks, and backward as to pursuit, qualities which are dwelt upon by Thucydidês in regard to this very battle. They were not at all likely to overtake such terrified men as were only anxious to run away: moreover, if they did overtake them, they would spear them, not trample them under foot.

To be trampled under foot, though possible enough from the numerous Persian cavalry (Herodot. vii, 173; Xenoph. Hellen. iii, 4, 12), is not the treatment which defeated soldiers meet with from victorious hostile infantry in the field, especially Lacedæmonian infantry. But it is precisely the treatment which they meet with, if they be in one of the hinder ranks, from their own panic-stricken comrades in the front rank, who find the enemy closing upon them, and rush back madly to get away from him. Of course it was the Argeians in the front rank who were seized with the most violent panic, and who thus fell back upon their own comrades in the rear ranks, overthrowing and treading them down to secure their own escape. It seems quite plain that it was the Argeians in front—not the Lacedæmonians—who trod down their comrades in the rear (there were probably six or eight men in every file), in order to escape themselves before the Lacedæmonians should be upon them: compare Xen. Hellenic. iv, 4, 11; Œconomic. viii, 5.

There are therefore in the whole scene which Thucydidês describes, three distinct subjects: 1. The Lacedæmonians 2. The Argeians soldiers, who were trodden down. 3. Other Argeian soldiers, who trod them down in order to get away themselves. Out of these three he only specifies the first two; but the third is present to his mind, and is implied in his narrative, just as much as if he had written καταπατηθέντας ὑπ’ ἄλλων, or ὑπ’ ἀλλήλων, as in Xenoph. Hellen. iv. 4, 11.

Now it is to this third subject, implied in the narrative, but not formally specified (i. e. those Argeians who trod down their comrades in order to get away themselves), or rather to the second and third conjointly and confusedly, that the design or purpose (consilium) in the words τοῦ μὴ φθῆναι refers.

Farther, the commentators all construe τοῦ μὴ φθῆναι τὴν ἐγκατάληψιν, as if the last word were an accusative case coming after φθῆναι and governed by it. But there is also another construction, equally good Greek, and much better for the sense. In my judgment, τὴν ἐγκατάληψιν is here the accusative case coming before φθῆναι and forming the subject of it. The words will thus read (ἕνεκα) τοῦ τὴν ἐγκατάληψιν μὴ φθῆναι (ἐπελθοῦσαν αὐτοῖς): “in order that the actual grasp of the Lacedæmonians might not be beforehand in coming upon them;” “might not come upon them too soon,” i. e. “sooner than they could get away.” And since the word ἐγκατάληψις is an abstract active substantive, so, in order to get at the real meaning here, we may substitute the concrete words with which it correlates, i. e. τοὺς Λακεδαιμονίους ἐγκαταλαβόντας, subject as well as attribute, for the active participle is here essentially involved.

The sentence would then read, supposing the ellipsis filled up and the meaning expressed in full and concrete words—ἔστιν οὓς καὶ καταπατηθέντας ὑπ’ ἀλλήλων φευγόντων (or βιαζομένων), ἕνεκα τοῦ τοὺς Λακεδαιμονίους μὴ φθῆναι ἐγκαταλαβόντας αὐτοὺς (τοὺς φεύγοντας): “As soon as the Lacedæmonians approached near, the Argeians gave way at once, without staying for hand-combat: and some were even trodden down by each other, or by their own comrades running away in order that the Lacedæmonians might not be beforehand in catching them sooner than they could escape.”

Construing in this way the sentence as it now stands, we have τοῦ μὴ φθῆναι used in its regular and legitimate sense of purpose, or consilium. We have moreover a plain and natural state of facts, in full keeping with the general narrative. Nor is there any violence put upon the words. Nothing more is done than to expand a very elliptical sentence, and to fill up that entire sentence which was present to the writer’s own mind. To do this properly is the chief duty, as well as the chief difficulty, of an expositor of Thucydidês.

[124] Thucyd. v, 73; Diodor. xii, 79.

[125] Thucyd. v, 73.

[126] Thucyd. v, 75. Καὶ τὴν ὑπὸ τῶν Ἑλλήνων τοτε ἐπιφερομένην αἰτίαν ἔς τε μαλακίαν διὰ τὴν ἐν τῇ νήσῳ ξυμφορὰν, καὶ ἐς τὴν ἄλλην ἀβουλίαν τε καὶ βραδύτητα, ἑνὶ ἔργῳ τούτῳ ἀπελύσαντο· τύχῃ μέν, ὡς ἐδόκουν, κακιζόμενοι, γνώμῃ δὲ, οἱ αὐτοὶ ἀεὶ ὄντες.

[127] Thucyd. v, 72.

[128] Thucyd. i, 141.

[129] Thucyd. v, 75.

[130] Thucyd. v, 75.

[131] Aristotle (Politic. v, 4, 9) expressly notices the credit gained by the oligarchical force of Argos in the battle of Mantineia, as one main cause of the subsequent revolution, notwithstanding that the Argeians generally were beaten: Οἱ γνώριμοι εὐδοκιμήσαντες ἐν Μαντινείᾳ, etc.

An example of contempt entertained by victorious troops over defeated fellow-countrymen, is mentioned by Xenophon in the Athenian army under Alkibiadês and Thrasyllus, in one of the later years of the Peloponnesian war: see Xenophon, Hellen. i, 2, 15-17.

[132] Thucyd. v, 76; Diodor. xii, 80.

[133] Thucyd. v, 77. The text of Thucydidês is incurably corrupt, in regard to several words of this clause; though the general sense appears sufficiently certain, that the Epidaurians are to be allowed to clear themselves in respect to this demand by an oath. In regard to this purifying oath, it seems to have been essential that the oath should be tendered by one litigant party and taken by the other: perhaps therefore σέμεν or θέμεν λῇν (Valckenaer’s conjecture) might be preferable to εἶμεν λῇν.

To Herodot. vi, 86, and Aristotel. Rhetoric. i, 16, 6, which Dr. Arnold and other commentators notice in illustration of this practice, we may add the instructive exposition of the analogous practice in the procedure of Roman law, as given by Von Savigny, in his System des heutigen Römischen Rechts, sects. 309-313, vol. vii, pp. 53-83. It was an oath tendered by one litigant party to the opposite, in hopes that the latter would refuse to take it; if taken, it had the effect of a judgment in favor of the swearer. But the Roman lawyers laid down many limits and formalities, with respect to this jusjurandum delatum, which Von Savigny sets forth with his usual perspicuity.

[134] Thucyd. v, 77. Ἐπιδείξαντας δὲ τοῖς ξυμμάχοις ξυμβαλέσθαι, αἴ κα αὐτοῖς δοκῇ· αἰ δέ τι καὶ ἄλλο δοκῇ τοῖς ξυμμάχοις, οἴκαδ’ ἀπιάλλειν. See Dr. Arnold’s note, and Dr. Thirlwall, Hist. Gr. ch. xxiv. vol. iii, p. 342.

One cannot be certain about the meaning of these two last words, but I incline to believe that they express a peremptory and almost a hostile sentiment, such as I have given in the text. The allies here alluded to are Athens, Elis, and Mantineia; all hostile in feeling to Sparta. The Lacedæmonians could not well decline admitting these cities to share in this treaty as it stood; but would probably think it suitable to repel them even with rudeness, if they desired any change.

I rather imagine, too, that this last clause (ἐπιδείξαντας) has reference exclusively to the Argeians, and not to the Lacedæmonians also. The form of the treaty is, that of a resolution already taken at Sparta, and sent for approval to Argos.

[135] Thucyd. v, 79. Αἰ δέ τινι τᾶν πολίων ᾖ ἀμφίλογα, ἢ τᾶν ἐντὸς ἢ τᾶν ἐκτὸς Πελοποννάσου, αἴτε περὶ ὅρων αἴτε περὶ ἄλλου τινὸς, διακριθῆμεν.

The object of this clause I presume to be, to provide that the joint forces of Lacedæmon and Argos should not be bound to interfere for every separate dispute of each single ally with a foreign state, not included in the alliance. Thus, there were at this time standing disputes between Bœotia and Athens, and between Megara and Athens: the Argeians probably would not choose to pledge themselves to interfere for the maintenance of the alleged rights of Bœotia and Megara in these disputes. They guard themselves against such necessity in this clause.

M. H. Meier, in his recent Dissertation (Die Privat. Schiedsrichter und die öffentlichen Diäteten Athens (Halle, 1846), sect. 19, p. 41), has given an analysis and explanation of this treaty which seems to me on many points unsatisfactory.

[136] All the smaller states in Peloponnesus are pronounced by this treaty to be (if we employ the language employed with reference to the Delphians peculiarly in the Peace of Nikias) αὐτονόμους, αὐτοτελεῖς, αὐτοδίκους, Thucyd. v, 19. The last clause of this treaty guarantees αὐτοδικíαν to all, though in language somewhat different, τοῖς δὲ ἔταις κατὰ πάτρια δικάζεσθαι. The expression in this treaty αὐτοπόλιες is substantially equivalent to αὐτοτελεῖς in the former.

It is remarkable that we never find in Thucydidês the very convenient Herodotean word δωσίδικοι (Herodot. vi, 42), though there are occasions in these fourth and fifth books on which it would be useful to his meaning.

[137] Thucyd. v. 81; Diodor. xii, 81.

[138] Compare Thucyd. v, 80, and v, 83.

[139] The instances appear to have been not rare, wherein Grecian towns changed masters, by the citizens thus going out of the gates all together, or most part of them, for some religious festival. See the case of Smyrna (Herodot. i, 150), and the precautionary suggestions of the military writer Æneas, in his treatise called Poliorketicus, c. 17.

[140] Thucyd. v, 80. Καὶ ὕστερον Ἐπιδαυρίοις ἀνανεωσάμενοι τὰς σπονδὰς, αὐτοὶ οἱ Ἀθηναῖοι ἀπέδοσαν τὸ τείχισμα. We are here told that the Athenians RENEWED their truce with the Epidaurians: but I know no truce previously between them except the general truce for a year, which the Epidaurians swore to, in conjunction with Sparta (iv, 119), in the beginning of B.C. 423.

[141] Thucyd. v, 81. Καὶ Λακεδαιμόνιοι καὶ Ἀργεῖοι, χίλιοι ἑκάτεροι, ξυστρατεύσαντες τά τ’ ἐν Σικυῶνι ἐς ὀλίγους μᾶλλον κατέστησαν αὐτοὶ οἱ Λακεδαιμόνιοι ἐλθόντες, καὶ μετ’ ἐκεῖνα ξυναμφότεροι ἤδη καὶ τὸν ἐν Ἄργει δῆμον κατέλυσαν, καὶ ὀλιγαρχία ἐπιτηδεία τοῖς Λακεδαιμονίοις κατέστη: compare Diodor. xii, 80.

[142] Pausanias, ii, 20, 1.

[143] See Herodot. v, 87; Euripid. Hecub. 1152, and the note of Musgrave on line 1135 of that drama.

[144] Thucyd. v, 82; Diodor. xii, 80.

[145] Diodorus (xii, 80) says that it lasted eight months: but this, if correct at all, must be taken as beginning from the alliance between Sparta and Argos, and not from the first establishment of the oligarchy. The narrative of Thucydidês does not allow more than four months for the duration of the latter.

[146] Thucyd. v, 82. ξυνῄδεσαν δὲ τὸν τειχισμὸν καὶ τῶν ἐν Πελοποννήσῳ τινὲς πόλεων.

[147] Thucyd. v, 82. Καὶ οἱ μὲν Ἀργεῖοι πανδημεὶ, καὶ αὐτοὶ καὶ γυναῖκες καὶ οἰκέται, ἐτείχιζον, etc. Plutarch, Alkibiad. c. 15.

[148] Pausanias, ii, 36, 3.

[149] Thucyd. i, 107.

[150] Thucyd. v, 83. Diodorus inaccurately states that the Argeians had already built their long walls down to the sea—πυθόμενοι τοὺς Ἀργείους ᾠκοδομηκέναι τὰ μακρὰ τείχη μέχρι τῆς θαλάσσης (xii, 81). Thucydidês uses the participle of the present tense—τὰ οἰκοδομούμενα τείχη ἐλόντες καὶ κατασκάψαντες, etc.

[151] Thucyd. v, 116. Λακεδαιμόνιοι, μελλήσαντες ἐς τὴν Ἀργείαν στρατεύειν ... ἀνεχώρησαν. Καὶ Ἀργεῖοι διὰ τὴν ἐκείνων μέλλησιν τῶν ἐν τῇ πόλει τινὰς ὑποτοπήσαντες, τοὺς μὲν ξυνέλαβον, οἱ δ’ αὐτοὺς καὶ διέφυγον.

I presume μέλλησιν here is not used in its ordinary meaning of loitering delay, but is to be construed by the previous verb μελλήσαντες, and agreeably to the analogy of iv, 126—“prospect of action immediately impending:” compare Diodor. xii, 81.

[152] Thucyd. vi, 7.

[153] Thucyd. v, 115.

[154] Thucyd. vi, 105. The author of the loose and inaccurate Oratio de Pace, ascribed to Andokidês, affirms that the war was resumed by Athens against Sparta on the persuasion of the Argeians (Orat. de Pac. c. 1, 6, 3, 31, pp. 93-105). This assertion is indeed partially true: the alliance with Argos was one of the causes of the resumption of war, but only one among others, some of them more powerful. Thucydidês tells us that the persuasions of Argos, to induce Athens to throw up her alliance with Sparta were repeated and unavailing.

[155] Thucyd. v, 83.

[156] Dr. Thirlwall (History of Greece, vol. iii, ch. xxiv, p. 360) places this vote of ostracism in midwinter or early spring of 415 B.C., immediately before the Sicilian expedition.

His grounds for this opinion are derived from the Oration called Andokidês against Alkibiadês, the genuineness of which he seems to accept (see his Appendix ii, on that subject, vol. iii, p. 494, seq.).

The more frequently I read over this Oration, the more do I feel persuaded that it is a spurious composition of one or two generations after the time to which it professes to refer. My reasons for this opinion have been already stated in previous notes, nor do I think that Dr. Thirlwall’s Appendix is successful in removing the objections against the genuineness of the speech. See my preceding vol. vi, ch. xlvii, p. 6, note.

[157] Aristophan. Pac. 680.

[158] Thucyd. viii, 73. Ὑπέρβολόν τέ τινα τῶν Ἀθηναίων, μοχθηρὸν ἄνθρωπον, ὠστρακισμένον οὐ διὰ δυνάμεως καὶ ἀξιώματος φόβον, ἀλλὰ διὰ πονηρίαν καὶ αἰσχύνην τῆς πόλεως. According to Androtion (Fragm. 48, ed. Didot.)—ὠστρακισμένον διὰ φαυλότητα.

Compare about Hyperbolus, Plutarch, Nikias, c. 11; Plutarch, Alkibiadês, c. 13; Ælian. V. H. xii, 43; Theopompus, Fragm. 102, 103, ed. Didot.

[159] Plutarch, Alkibiad. c. 13; Plutarch, Nikias, c. 11. Theophrastus says that the violent opposition at first, and the coalition afterwards, was not between Nikias and Alkibiadês, but between Phæax and Alkibiadês.

The coalition of votes and parties may well have included all three.

[160] Thucyd. iii, 91.

[161] In reference to this argumentation of the Athenian envoy, I call attention to the attack and bombardment of Copenhagen by the English government in 1807, together with the language used by the English envoy to the Danish Prince Regent on the subject. We read as follows in M. Thiers’s Histoire du Consulat et de l’Empire:—

“L’agent choisi étoit digne de sa mission. C’étoit M. Jackson qui avait été autrefois chargé d’affaires en France, avant l’arrivée de Lord Whitworth, à Paris, mais qu’on n’avoit pas pû y laisser, à cause du mauvais esprit qu’il manifestoit en toute occasion. Introduit auprès du régent, il allégua de prétendues stipulations secrètes, en vertu desquelles le Danemark devoit, (disoit on) de gré ou de force, faire partie d’une coalition contre l’Angleterre: il donna comme raison d’agir la necessité où se trouvoit le cabinet Britannique de prendre des précautions pour que les forces navales du Danemark et le passage du Sund ne tombassent pas au pouvoir des François: et en conséquence il demanda au nom de son gouvernement, qu’on livrât à l’armée Angloise la forteresse de Kronenberg qui commande de Sund, le port de Copenhague, et enfin la flotte elle-même—promettant de garder le tout en dépôt, pour le compte du Danemark, qui seroit remis en possession de ce qu’on alloit lui enlever, dès que le danger seroit passé. M. Jackson assura que le Danemark ne perdroit rien, que l’on se conduiroit chez lui en auxiliaires et en amis—que les troupes Britanniques payeroient tout ce qu’elles consommeroient.—Et avec quoi, répondit le prince indigné, payeriez vous notre honneur perdu, si nous adhérions à cette infame proposition?—Le prince continuant, et opposant à cette perfide intention la conduite loyale du Danemark, qui n’avoit pris aucune précaution contre les Anglois, qui les avoit toutes prises contre les François, ce dont on abusoit pour le surprendre—M. Jackson répondit à cette juste indignation par une insolente familiarité, disant que la guerre étoit la guerre, qu’il falloit se résigner à ces nécessités, et céder au plus fort quand on étoit le plus foible. Le prince congédia l’agent Anglois avec des paroles fort dures, et lui déclara qu’il alloit se transporter à Copenhague, pour y remplir ses devoirs de prince et de citoyen Danois.” (Thiers, Histoire du Consulat et de l’Empire, tome viii, livre xxviii, p. 190.)

[162] Plutarch, Alkibiadês, c. 16. This is doubtless one of the statements which the composer of the Oration of Andokidês against Alkibiadês found current in respect to the conduct of the latter (sect. 123). Nor is there any reason for questioning the truth of it.

[163] Thucyd. v, 106. τὸ δὲ χωρίον αὐτοὶ ᾤκησαν, ἀποίκους ὕστερον πεντακοσίους πέμψαντες. Lysander restored some Melians to the island after the battle of Ægospotami (Xenoph. Hellen. ii, 2, 9): some, therefore, must have escaped or must have been spared.

[164] Such is also the opinion of Dr. Thirlwall, Hist. Gr. vol. iii, ch. xxiv, p. 348.

[165] Dionys. Hal. Judic. de Thucydid. c. 37-42, pp. 906-920, Reisk: compare the remarks in his Epistol. ad Cn. Pompeium, de Præcipuis Historicis, p. 774, Reisk.

[166] Plutarch, Alkibiad. 16. τοὺς Ἀθηναίους ἀεὶ τὰ πραότατα τῶν ὀνομάτων τοῖς ἁμαρτήμασι τιθεμένους, παιδιὰς καὶ φιλανθρωπίας. To the same purpose Plutarch, Solon, c. 15.

[167] Compare also what Brasidas says in his speech to the Akanthians, v, 86 ἴσχυος δικαιώσει, ἣν ἡ τύχη ἔδωκεν, etc.

[168] See above, vol. v, ch. xliii, pp. 204-239, for the history of these events. I now take up the thread from that chapter.

[169] Mr. Mitford, in the spirit which is usual with him, while enlarging upon the suffering occasioned by this extensive revolution both of inhabitants and of property throughout Sicily, takes no notice of the cause in which it originated, namely, the number of foreign mercenaries whom the Gelonian dynasty had brought in and enrolled as new citizens (Gelon alone having brought in ten thousand, Diodor. xi, 72), and the number of exiles whom they had banished and dispossessed.

I will here notice only one of his misrepresentations respecting the events of this period, because it is definite as well as important (vol. iv, p. 9, chap. xviii, sect. 1).

“But thus (he says) in every little state, lands were left to become public property, or to be assigned to new individual owners. Everywhere, then, that favorite measure of democracy, the equal division of the lands of the state, was resolved upon: a measure impossible to be perfectly executed; impossible to be maintained as executed; and of very doubtful advantage, if it could be perfectly executed and perfectly maintained.”

Again, sect. iii, p. 23, he speaks of “that incomplete and iniquitous partition of lands,” etc.

Now, upon this we may remark:—

1. The equal division of the lands of the state, here affirmed by Mr. Mitford, is a pure fancy of his own. He has no authority for it whatever. Diodorus says (xi, 76) κατεκληρούχησαν τὴν χώραν, etc.; and again (xi, 86) he speaks of τὸν ἀναδασμὸν τῆς χώρας: the redivision of the territory; but respecting equality of division, not one word does he say. Nor can any principle of division in this case be less probable than equality; for one of the great motives of the redivision was to provide for those exiles who had been dispossessed by the Gelonian dynasty: and these men would receive lots, greater or less, on the ground of compensation for loss, greater or less as it might have been. Besides, immediately after the redivision, we find rich and poor mentioned, just as before (xi, 86).

2. Next, Mr. Mitford calls “the equal division of all the lands of the state” the favorite measure of democracy. This is an assertion not less incorrect. Not a single democracy in Greece, so far as my knowledge extends, can be produced, in which such equal partition is ever known to have been carried into effect. In the Athenian democracy, especially, not only there existed constantly great inequality of landed property, but the oath annually taken by the popular heliastic judges had a special clause, protesting emphatically against redivision of the land or extinction of debts.

[170] Thucyd. vi, 17.

[171] Diodor. xi, 86, 87. The institution at Syracuse was called the petalism; because, in taking the votes, the name of the citizen intended to be banished was written upon a leaf of olive, instead of a shell or potsherd.

[172] Diodor. xi. 87, 88.

[173] Diodor. xi, 78, 88, 90. The proceeding of Duketius is illustrated by the description of Dardanus in the Iliad, xx, 216:—

Κτίσσε δὲ Δαρδανίην, ἐπεὶ οὔπω Ἴλιος ἱρὴ

Ἐν πεδίῳ πεπόλιστο, πόλις μερόπων ἀνθρώπων,

Ἀλλ’ ἔθ’ ὑπωρείας ᾤκουν πολυπιδάκου Ἴδης.

Compare Plato, de Legg. iii, pp. 681, 682.

[174] Diodor. xi, 76.

[175] Diodor. xi, 91, 92. Ὁ δὲ δῆμος ὥσπερ τινὶ μιᾷ φωνῇ σώζειν ἅπαντες ἐβόων τὸν ἱκέτην.

[176] Xenophon, Hellen. i, 5, 19; Pausanias, vi, 7, 2.

[177] Mr. Mitford recounts as follows the return of Duketius to Sicily: “The Syracusan chiefs brought back Duketius from Corinth, apparently to make him instrumental to their own views for advancing the power of their commonwealth. They permitted, or rather encouraged him to establish a colony of mixed people, Greeks and Sicels, at Calé Acté, on the northern coast of the island,” (ch. xviii, sect. i, vol. iv, p. 13.)

The statement that “the Syracusans brought back Duketius, or encouraged him to come back, or to found the colony of Kalê Aktê,” is a complete departure from Diodorus on the part of Mr. Mitford; who transforms a breach of parole on the part of the Sikel prince into an ambitious manœuvre on the part of Syracusan democracy. The words of Diodorus, the only authority in the case, are as follows (xii, 8): Οὗτος δὲ (Duketius) ὀλίγον χρόνον μείνας ἐν τῇ Κορίνθῳ, τὰς ὁμολογίας ἔλυσε, καὶ προσποιησάμενος χρησμὸν ὑπὸ τῶν θεῶν ἑαυτῷ δεδόσθαι, κτίσαι τὴν Καλὴν Ἀκτὴν ἐν Σικελίᾳ, κατέπλευσεν εἰς τὴν νῆσον μετὰ πολλῶν οἰκητόρων· συνεπελάβοντο δὲ καὶ τῶν Σικελῶν τινες, ἐν οἷς ἦν καὶ Ἀρχωνίδης, ὁ τῶν Ἑρβιταίων δυναστεύων. Οὗτος μὲν οὖν περὶ τὸν οἰκισμὸν τῆς Καλῆς Ἀκτῆς ἐγίνετο· Ἀκραγαντῖνοι δὲ, ἅμα μὲν φθονοῦντες τοῖς Συρακοσίοις, ἅμα δ’ ἐγκαλοῦντες αὐτοῖς ὅτι Δουκέτιον ὄντα κοινὸν πολέμιον διέσωσαν ἄνευ τῆς Ἀκραγαντίνων γνώμης, πόλεμον ἐξήνεγκαν τοῖς Συρακοσίοις.

[178] Diodor. xii, 8.

[179] Diodor. xii, 29. For the reconquest of Morgantinê, see Thucyd. iv, 65.

Respecting this town of Trinakia, known only from the passage of Diodorus here, Paulmier (as cited in Wesseling’s note), as well as Mannert (Geographie der Griechen und Römer, b. x, ch. xv, p. 446), intimate some skepticism; which I share so far as to believe that Diodorus has greatly overrated its magnitude and importance.

Nor can it be true, as Diodorus affirms, that Trinakia was the only Sikel township remaining unsubdued by the Syracusans, and that, after conquering that place, they had subdued them all. We know that there were no inconsiderable number of independent Sikels, at the time of the Athenian invasion of Sicily (Thucyd. vi, 88; vii, 2).

[180] Diodor. xii, 30.

[181] Diodor. xiii, 81.

[182] Diodor. xiii. 82, 83, 90.

[183] See Aristotle as cited by Cicero, Brut. c. 12; Plato, Phædr. p. 267, c. 113, 114; Dionys. Halic. Judicium de Isocrate, p. 534 R. and Epist. ii, ad Ammæum, p. 792; also Quintilian, iii, 1, 125. According to Cicero (de Inventione, ii, 2), the treatises of these ancient rhetoricians, “usque a principe illo et inventore Tisiâ,” had been superseded by Aristotle, who had collected them carefully, “nominatim,” and had improved upon their expositions. Dionysius laments that they had been so superseded (Epist. ad Ammæ. p. 722).

[184] Diogen. Laërt. viii, 64-71; Seyfert, Akragas und sein Gebiet, sect. ii, p. 70; Ritter, Geschichte der Alten Philosophie, vol. i. ch. vi, p. 533, seqq.

[185] Thucyd. iv. 61-64. This is the tenor of the speech delivered by Hermokratês at the congress of Gela in the eighth year of the Peloponnesian war. His language is remarkable: he calls all non-Sicilian Greeks ἀλλοφύλους.

[186] The inscription in Boeckh’s Corpus Inscriptt. (No. 74, part i, p. 112) relating to the alliance between Athens and Rhegium, conveys little certain information. Boeckh refers it to a covenant concluded in the archonship of Apseudês at Athens (Olymp. 86, 4, B.C. 433-432, the year before the Peloponnesian war), renewing an alliance which was even then of old date. But it appears to me that the supposition of a renewal is only his own conjecture; and even the name of the archon, Apseudês, which he has restored by a plausible conjecture, can hardly be considered as certain.

If we could believe the story in Justin iv, 3, Rhegium must have ceased to be Ionic before the Peloponnesian war. He states, that in a sedition at Rhegium, one of the parties called in auxiliaries from Himera. These Himeræan exiles having first destroyed the enemies against whom they were invoked, next massacred the friends who had invoked them: “ausi facinus nulli tyranno comparandum.” They married the Rhegine women, and seized the city for themselves.

I do not know what to make of this story, which neither appears noticed in Thucydidês, nor seems to consist with what he does tell us.

[187] Thucyd. i, 36.

[188] Thucyd. ii, 7. Καὶ Λακεδαιμονίοις μὲν, πρὸς ταῖς αὐτοῦ ὑπαρχούσαις, ἐξ Ἰταλίας καὶ Σικελίας τοῖς τἀκείνων ἑλομένοις, ναῦς ἐπετάχθησαν ποιεῖσθαι κατὰ μέγεθος τῶν πόλεων, ὡς ἐς τὸν πάντα ἀριθμὸν πεντακοσίων νεῶν ἐσόμενον, etc.

Respecting the construction of this perplexing passage, read the notes of Dr. Arnold, Poppo, and Göller: compare Poppo, ad Thucyd. vol. i, ch. xv, p. 181.

I agree with Dr. Arnold and Göller in rejecting the construction of αὐτοῦ with ἐξ Ἰταλίας καὶ Σικελίας, in the sense of “those ships which were in Peloponnesus from Italy and Sicily.” This would be untrue in point of fact, as they observe: there were no Sicilian ships of war in Peloponnesus.

Nevertheless I think, differing from them, that αὐτοῦ is not a pronoun referring to ἐξ Ἰταλίας καὶ Σικελίας, but is used in contrast with those words, and really means, “in or about Peloponnesus.” It was contemplated that new ships should be built in Sicily and Italy, of sufficient number to make the total fleet of the Lacedæmonian confederacy, including the triremes already in Peloponnesus, equal to five hundred sail. But it was never contemplated that the triremes in Italy and Sicily alone should amount to five hundred sail, as Dr. Arnold, in my judgment, erroneously imagines. Five hundred sail for the entire confederacy would be a prodigious total: five hundred sail for Sicily and Italy alone, would be incredible.

To construe the sentence as it stands now, putting aside the conjecture of νῆες instead of ναῦς, or ἐπετάχθη instead of ἐπετάχθησαν, which would make it run smoothly, we must admit the supposition of a break or double construction, such as sometimes occurs in Thucydidês. The sentence begins with one form of construction and concludes with another. We must suppose, with Göller, that αἱ πόλεις understood as the nominative case to ἐπετάχθησαν. The dative cases (Λακεδαιμονίοις—ἑλομένοις) are to be considered, I apprehend, as governed by νῆες ἐπετάχθησαν: that is, these dative cases belong to the first form of construction, which Thucydidês has not carried out. The sentence is begun as if νῆες ἐπετάχθησαν were intended to follow.

[189] Thucyd. vi, 34: compare iii, 86.

[190] Thucyd. vi, 86.

[191] Thucyd. iii, 86; Diodor. xii, 53; Plato, Hipp. Maj. p. 282, B. It is remarkable that Thucydidês, though he is said, with much probability, to have been among the pupils of Gorgias, makes no mention of that rhetor personally as among the envoys. Diodorus probably copied from Ephorus, the pupil of Isokratês. Among the writers of the Isokratean school, the persons of distinguished rhetors, and their supposed political efficiency, counted for much more than in the estimation of Thucydidês. Pausanias (vi, 17, 3) speaks of Tisias also as having been among the envoys in this celebrated legation.

[192] Thucyd. iii, 88; Diodor. xii, 54.

[193] Thucyd. iii, 90; vi, 6.

[194] Thucyd. iii, 99.

[195] Thucyd. iii, 103.

[196] Thucyd. iii, 115.

[197] Thucyd. iii, 115.

[198] See the preceding vol. vi, ch. lii.

[199] Thucyd. iv, 48.

[200] Thucyd. iii, 115; iv, 1.

[201] Thucyd. iv, 24. Καὶ νικηθέντες ὑπὸ τῶν Ἀθηναίων διὰ τάχους ἀπέπλευσαν, ὡς ἕκαστοι ἔτυχον, ἐς τὰ οἰκεῖα στρατόπεδα, τό τε ἐν τῇ Μεσσήνῃ καὶ ἐν τῷ Ῥηγίῳ, μίαν ναῦν ἀπολέσαντες, etc.

I concur in Dr. Arnold’s explanation of this passage, yet conceiving that the words ὡς ἕκαστοι ἔτυχον designate the flight as disorderly, insomuch that all the Lokrian ships did not get back to the Lokrian station, nor all the Syracusan ships to the Syracusan station: but each separate ship fled to either one or the other, as it best could.

[202] Thucyd. iv, 25. ἀποσιμωσάντων ἐκείνων καὶ προεμβαλόντων.

I do not distinctly understand the nautical movement which is expressed by ἀποσιμωσάντων, in spite of the notes of the commentators. And I cannot but doubt the correctness of Dr. Arnold’s explanation, when he says “The Syracusans, on a sudden, threw off their towing-ropes, made their way to the open sea by a lateral movement, and thus became the assailants,” etc. The open sea was what the Athenians required, in order to obtain the benefit of their superior seamanship.

[203] Thucyd. iv, 25.

[204] Thucyd. iv, 48.

[205] Compare a similar remark made by the Syracusan Hermokratês, nine years afterwards, when the great Athenian expedition against Syracuse was on its way, respecting the increased disposition to union among the Sicilian cities, produced by common fear of Athens (Thucyd. vi, 33).

[206] Thucyd. iv, 58.

[207] See the speech of Hermokratês, Thucyd. iv, 59-64. One expression in this speech indicates that it was composed by Thucydidês many years after its proper date, subsequently to the great expedition of the Athenians against Syracuse in 415 B.C.; though I doubt not that Thucydidês collected the memoranda for it at the time.

Hermokratês says: “The Athenians are now near us with a few ships, lying in wait for our blunders,”—οἱ δύναμιν ἔχοντες μεγίστην τῶν Ἑλλήνων τάς τε ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν τηροῦσιν, ὀλίγαις ναυσὶ παρόντες, etc. (iv, 60).

Now the fleet under the command of Eurymedon and his colleagues at Rhegium included all or most of the ships which had acted at Sphakteria and Korkyra, together with those which had been previously at the strait of Messina under Pythodôrus. It could not have been less than fifty sail, and may possibly have been sixty sail. It is hardly conceivable that any Greek, speaking in the early spring of 424 B.C., should have alluded to this as a small fleet: assuredly, Hermokratês would not thus allude to it, since it was for the interest of his argument to exaggerate rather than extenuate, the formidable manifestations of Athens.

But Thucydidês, composing the speech after the great Athenian expedition of 415 B.C., so much more numerous and commanding in every respect, might not unnaturally represent the fleet of Eurymedon as “a few ships,” when he tacitly compared the two. This is the only way that I know, of explaining such an expression.

The Scholiast observes that some of the copies in his time omitted the words ὀλίγαις ναυσὶ: probably they noticed the contradiction which I have remarked; and the passage may certainly be construed without those words.

[208] Thucyd. iv, 65. We learn from Polybius (Fragm. xii, 22, 23, one of the Excerpta recently published by Maii, from the Cod. Vatic.) that Timæus had in his twenty-first book described the congress of Gela at considerable length, and had composed an elaborate speech for Hermokratês: which speech Polybius condemns, as a piece of empty declamation.

[209] Thucyd. v, 5.

[210] Thucyd. vi, 13-52.

[211] Thucyd. iv, 65.

[212] Thucyd. v, 4. Λεοντῖνοι γὰρ, ἀπελθόντων Ἀθηναίων ἐκ Σικελίας μετὰ τὴν ξύμβασιν, πολίτας τε ἐπεγράψαντο πολλοὺς, καὶ ὁ δῆμος τὴν γῆν ἐπενόει ἀναδάσασθαι. Οἱ δὲ δυνατοὶ αἰσθόμενοι Συρακοσίους τε ἐπάγονται καὶ ἐκβάλλουσι τὸν δῆμον. Καὶ οἱ μὲν ἐπλανήθησαν ὡς ἕκαστοι, etc.

Upon this Dr. Arnold observes: “The principle on which this ἀναδασμὸς γῆς was redemanded, was this; that every citizen was entitled to his portion, κλῆρος, of the land of the state, and that the admission of new citizens rendered a redivision of the property of the state a matter at once of necessity and of justice. It is not probable that in any case the actual κλῆροι (properties) of the old citizens were required to be shared with the new members of the state; but only, as at Rome, the ager publicus, or land still remaining to the state itself, and not apportioned out to individuals. This land, however, being beneficially enjoyed by numbers of the old citizens, either as common pasture, or as being farmed by different individuals on very advantageous terms, a division of it among the newly-admitted citizens, although not, strictly speaking, a spoliation of private property, was yet a serious shock to a great mass of existing interests, and was therefore always regarded as a revolutionary measure.”

I transcribe this note of Dr. Arnold rather from its intrinsic worth than from any belief that analogy of agrarian relations existed between Rome and Leontini. The ager publicus at Rome was the product of successive conquests from foreign enemies of the city: there may, indeed, have been originally a similar ager publicus in the peculiar domain of Rome itself, anterior to all conquests; but this must at any rate have been very small, and had probably been all absorbed and assigned in private property before the agrarian disputes began.

We cannot suppose that the Leontines had any ager publicus acquired by conquest, nor are we entitled to presume that they had any at all, capable of being divided. Most probably the lots for the new citizens were to be provided out of private property. But unfortunately we are not told how, nor on what principles and conditions. Of what class of men were the new emigrants? Were they individuals altogether poor, having nothing but their hands to work with; or did they bring with them any amount of funds, to begin their settlement on the fertile and tempting plain of Leontini? (compare Thucyd. i, 27, and Plato de Legib. v, p. 744, A.) If the latter, we have no reason to imagine that they would be allowed to acquire their new lots gratuitously. Existing proprietors would be forced to sell at a fixed price, but not to yield their properties without compensation. I have already noticed, that to a small self-working proprietor, who had no slaves, it was almost essential that his land should be near the city; and provided this were insured, it might be a good bargain for a new resident having some money, but no land elsewhere, to come in and buy.

We have no means of answering these questions: but the few words of Thucydidês do not present this measure as revolutionary, or as intended against the rich, or for the benefit of the poor. It was proposed, on public grounds, to strengthen the city by the acquisition of new citizens. This might be wise policy, in the close neighborhood of a doubtful and superior city, like Syracuse; though we cannot judge of the policy of the measure without knowing more. But most assuredly Mr. Mitford’s representation can be noway justified from Thucydidês: “Time and circumstances had greatly altered the state of property in all the Sicilian commonwealths, since that incomplete and iniquitous partition of lands, which had been made, on the general establishment of democratical government, after the expulsion of the family of Gelon. In other cities, the poor rested under their lot; but in Leontini, they were warm in project for a fresh and equal partition; and to strengthen themselves against the party of the wealthy, they carried, in the general assembly, a decree for associating a number of new citizens.” (Mitford, H. G. ch. xviii, sect. ii, vol. iv, p. 23.)

I have already remarked, in a previous note, that Mr. Mitford has misrepresented the redivision of lands which took place after the expulsion of the Gelonian dynasty. That redivision had not been upon the principle of equal lots: it is not therefore correct to assert, as Mr. Mitford does, that the present movement at Leontini arose from the innovation made by time and circumstances in that equal division: as little is it correct to say, that the poor at Leontini now desired “a fresh and equal partition.” Thucydidês says not one word about equal partition. He puts forward the enrolment of new citizens as the substantive and primary resolution, actually taken by the Leontines; the redivision of the lands, as a measure consequent and subsidiary to this, and as yet existing only in project (ἐπενόει). Mr. Mitford states the fresh and equal division to have been the real object of desire, and the enrolment of new citizens to have been proposed with a view to attain it. His representation is greatly at variance with that of Thucydidês.

[213] Justin (iv, 4) surrounds the Sicilian envoys at Athens with all the insignia of misery and humiliation, while addressing the Athenian assembly: “Sordidâ veste, capillo barbâque promissis, et omni squaloris habitu ad misericordiam commovendam conquisito, concionem deformes adeunt.”

[214] Thucyd. v, 4, 5.

[215] Thucyd. vi, 6; Diodor. xii, 82. The statement of Diodorus—that the Egestæans applied not merely to Agrigentum but also to Syracuse—is highly improbable. The war which he mentions as having taken place some years before between Egesta and Lilybæum (xi, 86) in 454 B.C., may probably have been a war between Egesta and Selinus.

[216] Thucyd. vi, 34.

[217] Thucyd. vi, 6; Diodor. xii, 83.

[218] Thucyd. vi, 6. ὧν ἀκούοντες οἱ Ἀθηναῖοι ἐν ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις τῶν τε Ἐγεσταίων πολλάκις λεγόντων καὶ τῶν ξυναγορευόντων αὐτοῖς ἐψηφίσαντο, etc.

Mr. Mitford takes no notice of all these previous debates, when he imputes to the Athenians hurry and passion in the ultimate decision (ch. xviii. sect. ii, vol. iv, p. 30.)

[219] Thucyd. vi, 46. ἰδίᾳ ξενίσεις ποιούμενοι τῶν τριηριτῶν, τά τε ἐξ αὐτῆς Ἐγέστης ἐκπώματα καὶ χρυσᾶ καὶ ἀργυρᾶ ξυλλέξαντες, καὶ τὰ ἐκ τῶν ἐγγὺς πόλεων καὶ Φοινικικῶν καὶ Ἑλληνίδων αἰτησάμενοι, ἐσέφερον ἐς τὰς ἑστιάσεις ὡς οἰκεῖα ἕκαστοι. Καὶ πάντων ὡς ἐπὶ τὸ πολὺ τοῖς αὐτοῖς χρωμένων, καὶ πανταχοῦ πολλῶν φαινομένων, μεγάλην τὴν ἔκπληξιν τοῖς ἐκ τῶν τριήρων Ἀθηναίοις παρεῖχον, etc.

Such loans of gold and silver plate betoken a remarkable degree of intimacy among the different cities.

[220] Thucyd. vi, 46; Diodor. xii, 83.

[221] To this winter or spring, perhaps, we may refer the representation of the lost comedy Τριφάλης of Aristophanês. Iberians were alluded to in it, to be introduced by Aristarchus; seemingly, Iberian mercenaries, who were among the auxiliaries talked of at this time by Alkibiadês and the other prominent advisers of the expedition, as a means of conquest in Sicily (Thucyd. vi, 90). The word Τριφάλης was a nickname (not difficult to understand) applied to Alkibiadês, who was just now at the height of his importance, and therefore likely enough to be chosen as the butt of a comedy. See the few fragments remaining of the Τριφάλης, in Meineke, Fragm. Comic. Gr. vol. ii, pp. 1162-1167.

[222] Thucyd. vi, 8; Diodor. xii, 83.

[223] Thucyd. vi, 8. Ὁ δὲ Νικίας, ἀκούσιος μὲν ᾑρημένος ἄρχειν, etc. The reading ἀκούσιος appears better sustained by MSS., and intrinsically more suitable, than ἀκούσας, which latter word probably arose from the correction of some reader who was surprised that Nikias made in the second assembly a speech which properly belonged to the first, and who explained this by supposing that Nikias had not been present at the first assembly. That he was not present, however, is highly improbable. The matter, nevertheless, does require some explanation; and I have endeavored to supply one in the text.

[224] Thucyd. vi, 9-14. Καὶ σὺ, ὦ πρύτανι, ταῦτα, εἴπερ ἡγεῖ σοι προσήκειν κήδεσθαί τε τῆς πόλεως, καὶ βούλει γενέσθαι πολίτης ἀγαθός, ἐπιψήφιζε, καὶ γνώμας προτίθει αὖθις Ἀθηναίοις, νομίσας, εἰ ὀῤῥωδεῖς τὸ ἀναψηφίσαι, τὸ μὲν λύειν τοὺς νόμους μὴ μετὰ τοσῶνδ’ ἂν μαρτύρων αἰτίαν σχεῖν, τῆς δὲ πόλεως κακῶς βουλευσαμένης ἰατρὸς ἂν γενέσθαι, etc.

I cannot concur in the remarks of Dr. Arnold, either on this passage or upon the parallel case of the renewed debate in the Athenian assembly, on the subject of the punishment to be inflicted on the Mitylenæans (see above, vol. vi, ch. 1, p. 338, and Thucyd. iii, 36). It appears to me that Nikias was here asking the prytanis to do an illegal act, which might well expose him to accusation and punishment. Probably he would have been accused on this ground, if the decision of the second assembly had been different from what it actually turned out; if they had reversed the decision of the former assembly, but only by a small majority.

The distinction taken by Dr. Arnold between what was illegal and what was merely irregular, was little marked at Athens: both were called illegal, τοὺς νόμους λύειν. The rules which the Athenian assembly, a sovereign assembly, laid down for its own debates and decisions, were just as much laws as those which it passed for the guidance of private citizens. The English House of Commons is not a sovereign assembly, but only a portion of the sovereign power: accordingly, the rules which it lays down for its debates are not laws, but orders of the House: a breach of these orders, therefore, in debating any particular subject, would not be illegal, but merely irregular or informal. The same was the case with the French Chamber of Deputies, prior to the revolution of February, 1848: the rules which it laid down for its own proceedings were not laws, but simply le réglement de la Chambre. It is remarkable that the present National Assembly now sitting (March, 1849) has retained this expression, and adopted a réglement for its own business; though it is in point of fact a sovereign assembly, and the rules which it sanctions are, properly speaking, laws.

Both in this case, and in the Mitylenæan debate, I think the Athenian prytanis committed an illegality. In the first case, every one is glad of the illegality, because it proved the salvation of so many Mitylenæan lives. In the second case, the illegality was productive of practical bad consequences, inasmuch as it seems to have brought about the immense extension of the scale upon which the expedition was projected. But there will occur in a few years a third incident, the condemnation of the six generals after the battle of Arginusæ, in which the prodigious importance of a strict observance of forms will appear painfully and conspicuously manifest.

[225] Thucyd. vi, 16, 17.

[226] Thucyd. vi, 17. Καὶ νῦν οὔτε ἀνέλπιστοί πω μᾶλλον Πελοποννήσιοι ἐς ἡμᾶς ἐγένοντο, εἴτε καὶ πάνυ ἔῤῥωνται, etc.

The construction of ἀνέλπιστοι here is not certain: yet I cannot think that the meaning which Dr. Arnold and others assign to it is the most suitable. It rather seems to mean the same as in vii, 4, and vii, 47: “enemies beyond our hopes of being able to deal with.”

[227] Thucyd. vi, 16-19.

[228] Thucyd. vi, 22.

[229] Thucyd. vi, 23. ὅπερ ἐγὼ φοβούμενος, καὶ εἰδὼς πολλὰ μὲν ἡμᾶς δέον βουλεύσασθαι, ἔτι δὲ πλείω εὐτυχῆσαι (χαλεπὸν δὲ ἀνθρώπους ὄντας), ὅτι ἐλάχιστα τῇ τύχῃ παραδοὺς ἐμαυτὸν βούλομαι ἐκπλεῖν, παρασκευῇ δὲ ἀπὸ τῶν εἰκότων ἀσφαλὴς ἐκπλεῦσαι. Ταῦτα γὰρ τῇ τε ξυμπάσῃ πόλει βεβαιότατα ἡγοῦμαι, καὶ ἡμῖν τοῖς στρατευσομένοις σωτήρια· εἰ δέ τῳ ἄλλως δοκεῖ, παρίημι αὐτῷ τὴν ἀρχήν.

[230] Plutarch. Compare Nikias and Crassus, c. 3.

[231] Thucyd. vi, 1. οὐ πολλῷ τινι ὑποδεέστερον πόλεμον, etc.: compare vii, 28.

[232] Compare Plutarch, Præcept. Reipubl. Gerend. p. 804.

[233] Thucyd. v, 99; vi, 1-6.

[234] Thucyd. vi, 6. ἐφιέμενοι μὲν τῇ ἀληθεστάτῃ προφάσει, τῆς πάσης (Σικελίας) ἄρξειν, βοηθεῖν δὲ ἅμα εὐπρεπῶς βουλόμενοι τοῖς ἑαυτῶν ξυγγένεσι καὶ τοῖς προσγεγενημένοις ξυμμάχοις.

Even in the speech of Alkibiadês, the conquest of Sicily is only once alluded to, and that indirectly; rather as a favorable possibility, than as a result to be counted upon.

[235] Thucyd. vi, 15. Καὶ μάλιστα στρατηγῆσαί τε ἐπιθυμῶν καὶ ἐλπίζων Σικελίαν τε δι’ αὐτοῦ καὶ Καρχηδόνα λήψεσθαι, καὶ τὰ ἴδια ἅμα εὐτυχήσας χρήμασί τε καὶ δόξῃ ὠφελήσειν. Ὢν γὰρ ἐν ἀξιώματι ὑπὲρ τῶν ἀστῶν, ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις μείζοσιν ἢ κατὰ τὴν ὑπάρχουσαν οὐσίαν ἐχρῆτο ἔς τε τὰς ἱπποτροφίας καὶ τὰς ἄλλας δαπάνας, etc.

Compare vi, 90. Plutarch (Alkib. c. 19; Nikias, c. 12). Plutarch sometimes speaks as if, not Alkibiadês alone (or at least in conjunction with a few partisans), but the Athenians generally, set out with an expectation of conquering Carthage as well as Sicily. In the speech which Alkibiadês made at Sparta after his banishment (Thucyd. vi, 90), he does indeed state this as the general purpose of the expedition. But it seems plain that he is here describing, to his countrymen generally, plans which were only fermenting in his own brain, as we may discern from a careful perusal of the first twenty chapters of the sixth book of Thucydidês.

In the inaccurate Oratio de Pace ascribed to Andokidês (sect. 30), it is alleged that the Syracusans sent an embassy to Athens, a little before this expedition, entreating to be admitted as allies of the Athenians, and affirming that Syracuse would be a more valuable ally to Athens than Egesta or Katana. This statement is wholly untrue.

[236] Thucyd. viii, 1.

[237] Thucyd. vi, 31. ἐπιφοράς τε πρὸς τῷ ἐκ δημοσίου μισθῷ διδόντων τοῖς θρανίταις τῶν ναυτῶν καὶ ταῖς ὑπηρεσίαις, καὶ τἄλλα σημείοις καὶ κατασκευαῖς πολυτελέσι χρησαμένων, etc.

Dobree and Dr. Arnold explain ὑπηρεσίαις to mean the petty officers, such as κυβερνήτης, κελευστὴς, etc. Göller and Poppo construe it to mean “the servants of the sailors.” Neither of the two seems to me satisfactory. I think the word means “to the crews generally;” the word ὑπερησία being a perfectly general word comprising all who received pay in the ship. All the examples produced in the notes of the commentators testify this meaning, which also occurs in the text itself two lines before. To construe ταῖς ὑπηρεσίαις as meaning “the crews generally, or the remaining crews, along with the thranitæ,” is doubtless more or less awkward. But it departs less from ordinary construction than either of the two senses which the commentators propose.

[238] Thucyd. vii, 13. οἱ ξένοι, οἱ μὲν ἀναγκαστοὶ ἐσβάντες, etc.

[239] Thucyd. vi, 26. I do not trust the statement given in Æschinês, De Fals. Legat. c. 54, p. 302, and in Andokidês, De Pace, sect. 8, that seven thousand talents were laid by as an accumulated treasure in the acropolis during the Peace of Nikias, and that four hundred triremes, or three hundred triremes, were newly built. The numerous historical inaccuracies in those orations, concerning the facts prior to 400 B.C., are such as to deprive them of all authority, except where they are confirmed by other testimony; even if we admitted the oration ascribed to Andokidês as genuine, which in all probability it is not.

But there exists an interesting Inscription which proves that the sum of three thousand talents at least must have been laid by, during the interval between the conclusion of the Peace of Nikias and the Sicilian Expedition, in the acropolis; and that over and above this accumulated fund, the state was in condition to discharge, out of the current receipts, various sums which it had borrowed during the previous war from the treasury of various temples, and seems to have had besides a surplus for docks and fortifications. The Inscription above named records the vote passed for discharging these debts, and for securing the sums so paid in the opisthodomus, or back-chamber, of the Parthenon, for account of those gods to whom they respectively belonged. See Boeckh’s Corp. Inscr. part ii, Inscr. Att. No. 76, p. 117; also the Staats-haushaltung der Athener of the same author, vol. ii, p. 198. This Inscription belongs unquestionably to one of the years between 421-415 B.C., to which year we cannot say.

[240] Thucyd. vi, 31; Diodor. xiii, 2, 3.

[241] Plutarch (Nikias, c. 12, 13; Alkibiad. c. 17). Immediately after the catastrophe at Syracuse, the Athenians were very angry with those prophets who had promised them success (Thucyd. viii, 1).

[242] Cicero, Legg. ii, 11. “Melius Græci atque nostri; qui, ut augerent pietatem in Deos, easdem illos urbes, quas nos, incolere voluerunt.”

How much the Grecian mind was penetrated with the idea of the god as an actual inhabitant of the town, may be seen illustrated in the Oration of Lysias, cont. Andokid. sects. 15-46: compare Herodotus, v, 67; a striking story, as illustrated in this History, vol. iii, ch. ix, p. 34; also Xenophon, Hellen. vi, 4-7; Livy, xxxviii, 43.

In an Inscription in Boeckh’s Corp. Insc. (part ii, No. 190, p. 320) a list of the names of Prytaneis, appears, at the head of which list figures the name of Athênê Polias.

[243] Pausanias, i, 24, 3; iv, 33, 4; viii, 31, 4; viii, 48, 4; viii, 41, 4; Plutarch, An Seni sit Gerenda Respubl. ad finem; Aristophan. Plut. 1153, and Schol.: compare O. Müller, Archäologie der Kunst, sect. 67; K. F. Hermann, Gottesdienstl. Alterth. der Griechen, sect. 15; Gerhard, De Religione Hermarum. Berlin, 1845.

[244] Thucyd. vi, 27. ὅσοι Ἑρμαῖ ἦσαν λίθινοι ἐν τῇ πόλει τῇ Ἀθηναίων ... μιᾷ νυκτὶ οἱ πλεῖστοι περιεκόπησαν τὰ πρόσωπα.

Andokidês (De Myst. sect. 63) expressly states that only a single one was spared—καὶ διὰ ταῦτα ὁ Ἑρμῆς ὃν ὁρᾶτε πάντες, ὁ παρὰ τὴν πατρῷαν οἰκίαν τὴν ἡμετέραν, οὐ περιεκόπη, μόνος τῶν Ἑρμῶν τῶν Ἀθήνῃσι.

Cornelius Nepos (Alkibiad. c. 3) and Plutarch (Alkib. c. 13) copy Andokidês: in his life of Nikias (c. 18) the latter uses the expression of Thucydidês—οἱ πλεῖστοι. This expression is noway at variance with Andokidês, though it stops short of his affirmation. There is great mixture of truth and falsehood in the Oration of Andokidês; but I think that he is to be trusted as to this point.

Diodorus (xiii, 2) says that all the Hermæ were mutilated, not recognizing a single exception. Cornelius Nepos, by a singular inaccuracy, talks about the Hermæ as having been all thrown down (dejicerentur).

[245] It is truly astonishing to read the account given of this mutilation of the Hermæ, and its consequences, by Wachsmuth, Hellen. Alterthümer, vol. ii, sect. 65, pp. 191-196. While he denounces the Athenian people, for their conduct during the subsequent inquiry, in the most unmeasured language, you would suppose that the incident which plunged them into this mental distraction, at a moment of overflowing hope and confidence, was a mere trifle: so briefly does he pass it over, without taking the smallest pains to show in what way it profoundly wounded the religious feeling of Athens.

Büttner (Geschichte der politischen Hetærieen zu Athen. p. 65), though very brief, takes a fairer view than Wachsmuth.

[246] Pausanias, i, 17, 1; i, 24, 3; Harpokration v, Ἑρμαῖ. See Sluiter, Lectiones Andocideæ, cap. 2.

Especially the ἀγυιατίδες θεραπεῖαι (Eurip. Ion. 187) were noted at Athens: ceremonial attentions towards the divine persons who protected the public streets, a function performed by Apollo Aguieus, as well as by Hermes.

[247] Herodot. viii, 144; Æschylus, Pers. 810; Æschyl. Agam. 339. The wrath for any indignity offered to the statue of a god or goddess, and impatience to punish it capitally, is manifested as far back as the ancient epic poem of Arktinus: see the argument of the Ἰλίου Πέρσις in Proclus, and Welcker, Griechische Tragödien, Sophoklês, sect. 21, vol. i, p. 162. Herodotus cannot explain the indignities offered by Kambyses to the Egyptian statues and holy customs upon any other supposition than that of stark madness, ἐμάνη μεγάλως; Herod. iii, 37-38.

Timæus the Sicilian historian (writing about 320-290 B.C.) represented the subsequent defeat of the Athenians as a divine punishment for the desecration of the Hermæ, inflicted chiefly by the Syracusan Hermokratês, son of Hermon and descendant of the god Hermes (Timæi Fragm. 103-104, ed. Didot; Longinus, de Sublim. iv, 3).

The etymological thread of connection, between the Hermæ and Hermokratês, is strange enough: but what is of importance to remark, is the deep-seated belief that such an act must bring after it divine punishment, and that the Athenians as a people were collectively responsible, unless they could appease the divine displeasure. If this was the view taken by the historian Timæus a century and more after the transaction, much more keenly was it present to the minds of the Athenians of that day.

[248] Thucyd. viii, 97; Plato, Legg. ix, pp. 871 b, 881 d. ἡ τοῦ νόμου ἄρα, etc. Demosthen. Fals. Legat. p. 363, c. 24, p. 404, c. 60; Plutarch, Solon, c. 24.

[249] Dr. Thirlwall observes, in reference to the feeling at Athens after the mutilation of the Hermæ:—

“We indeed see so little connection between acts of daring impiety and designs against the state, that we can hardly understand how they could have been associated together as they were in the minds of the Athenians. But perhaps the difficulty may not without reason have appeared much less to the contemporaries of Alcibiadês, who were rather disposed by their views of religion to regard them as inseparable.” (Hist. Gr. ch. xxv, vol. iii, p. 394.)

This remark, like so many others in Dr. Thirlwall’s history, indicates a tone of liberality forming a striking contrast with Wachsmuth; and rare indeed among the learned men who have undertaken to depict the democracy of Athens. It might, however, have been stated far more strongly; for an Athenian citizen would have had quite as much difficulty in comprehending our disjunction of the two ideas, as we have in comprehending his association of the two.

[250] Thucyd. vi, 27. Καὶ τὸ πρᾶγμα μειζόνως ἐλάμβανον· τοῦ τε γὰρ ἐκπλοῦ οἰωνὸς ἐδόκει εἶναι, καὶ ἐπὶ ξυνωμοσίᾳ ἅμα νεωτέρων πραγμάτων καὶ δήμου καταλύσεως γεγενῆσθαι.

Cornelius Nepos, Alcibiad. c. 3. “Hoc quum appareret non sine magnimultorum consensione esse factam,” etc.

[251] Plutarch, Alkibiad. c. 18; Pherekratês, Fr. Inc. 84, ed. Meineke; Fragment. Comic. Græc. vol. ii, p. 358, also p. 1164; Aristoph. Frag. Inc. 120.

[252] Plutarch, Alkib. c. 18; Pseudo-Plutarch, Vit. X, Orator. p. 834, who professes to quote from Kratippus, an author nearly contemporary. The Pseudo-Plutarch, however, asserts, what cannot be true, that the Corinthians employed Leontine and Egestæan agents to destroy the Hermæ. The Leontines and Egestæans were exactly the parties who had greatest interest in getting the Sicilian expedition to start: they are the last persons whom the Corinthians would have chosen as instruments. The fact is, that no foreigners could well have done the deed: it required great familiarity with all the buildings, highways, and byways of Athens.

The Athenian Philochorus (writing about the date 310-280 B.C.) ascribed the mutilation of the Hermæ to the Corinthians; if we may believe the scholiast on Aristophanês; who, however, is not very careful, since he tells us that Thucydidês ascribed that act to Alkibiadês and his friends; which is not true (Philochor. Frag. 110, ed. Didot; Schol. Aristoph. Lysistr. 1094).

[253] Thucyd. vi, 34.

[254] See Thucyd. v, 45; v, 50; viii, 5. Xenophon, Hellen. iv, 7, 4.

[255] See the remarkable passage in the contemporary pleading of Antiphon on a trial for homicide (Orat. ii. Tetralog. 1. 1, 10).

Ἀσύμφορόν θ’ ὑμῖν ἐστὶ τόνδε μιαρὸν καὶ ἄναγνον ὄντα εἰς τὰ τεμένη τῶν θεῶν εἰσιόντα μιαίνειν τὴν ἁγνείαν αὐτῶν ἐπί τε τὰς αὐτὰς τραπέζας ἰόντα συγκαταπιμπλάναι τοὺς ἀναιτίους· ἐκ γὰρ τούτων αἵ τε ἀφορίαι γίγνονται δυστυχεῖς θ’ αἱ πράξεις καθίστανται. Οἰκείαν οὖν χρὴ τὴν τιμωρίαν ἡγησαμένους, αὐτῷ τούτῳ τὰ τούτου ἀσεβήματα ἀναθέντας, ἰδίαν μὲν τὴν συμφορὰν καθαρὰν δὲ τὴν πόλιν καταστῆσαι.

Compare Antiphon, De Cæde Herodis, sect. 83 and Sophoklês, Œdip. Tyrann. 26, 96, 170, as to the miseries which befell a country, so long as the person guilty of homicide remained to pollute the soil and until he was slain or expelled. See also Xenophon, Hiero. iv, 4, and Plato, Legg. x, p. 885-910, at the beginning and the end of the tenth book. Plato ranks (ὕβρις) outrage against sacred objects as the highest and most guilty species of ὕβρις; deserving the severest punishment. He considers that the person committing such impiety, unless he be punished or banished, brings evil and the anger of the gods upon the whole population.

[256] Thucyd. vi, 27.

[257] Andokidês de Mysteriis, sect. 20.

[258] Andokidês de Mysteriis, sects. 14, 15, 36; Plutarch, Alkibiad. c. 18.

[259] Those who are disposed to imagine that the violent feelings and proceedings at Athens by the mutilation of the Hermæ were the consequence of her democratical government, may be reminded of an analogous event of modern times from which we are not yet separated by a century.

In the year 1766, at Abbeville in France, two young gentlemen of good family—the Chevalier d’Etallonde and Chevalier de la Barre—were tried, convicted, and condemned for having injured a wooden crucifix which stood on the bridge of that town: in aggravation of this offence they were charged with having sung indecent songs. The evidence to prove these points was exceedingly doubtful; nevertheless, both were condemned to have their tongues cut out by the roots, to have their right hands cut off at the church gate, then to be tied to a post in the market-place with an iron chain, and burnt by a slow fire. This sentence, after being submitted by way of appeal to the Parliament of Paris, and by them confirmed, was actually executed upon the Chevalier de la Barre—d’Etallonde having escaped—in July, 1766; with this mitigation, that he was allowed to be decapitated before he was burnt; but at the same time with this aggravation, that he was put to the torture, ordinary and extraordinary, to compel him to disclose his accomplices (Voltaire, Relation de la Mort du Chevalier de la Barre, Œuvres, vol. xlii, pp. 361-379, ed. Beuchot: also Voltaire, Le Cri du Sang Innocent, vol. xii, p. 133).

I extract from this treatise a passage showing how—as in this mutilation of the Hermæ at Athens—the occurrence of one act of sacrilege turns men’s imagination, belief, and talk, to others, real or imaginary:—

“Tandis que Belleval ourdissoit sécrètement cette trame, il arriva malheureusement que le crucifix de bois, posé sur le pont d’Abbeville, étoit endommagé, et l’on soupçonna que des soldats ivres avoient commis cette insolence impie.

“Malheureusement l’evêque d’Amiens, étant aussi evêque d’Abbeville, donna à cette aventure une célébrité et une importance qu’elle ne méritoit pas. Il fit lancer des monitoires: il vint faire une procession solennelle auprès du crucifix; et on ne parla en Abbeville que de sacrilèges pendant une année entière. On disoit qu’il se formoit une nouvelle secte qui brisoit les crucifix, qui jettoit par terre toutes les hosties, et les perçoit à coups de couteaux. On assuroit qu’ils avoient répandu beaucoup de sang. Il y eut des femmes qui crurent en avoir été témoins. On renouvela tous les contes calomnieux répandus contre les Juifs dans tant de villes de l’Europe. Vous connoissez, Monsieur, jusqu’à quel point la populace porte la credulité et le fanatisme, toujours encouragé par les moines.

“La procédure une fois commencée, il y eut une foule de délations. Chacun disoit ce qu’il avoit vu ou cru voir—ce qu’il avoit entendu ou cru entendre.”

It will be recollected that the sentence on the Chevalier de la Barre was passed, not by the people, nor by any popular judicature, but by a limited court of professional judges sitting at Abbeville, and afterwards confirmed by the Parlement de Paris, the first tribunal of professional judges in France.

[260] Andokidês (De Myster. s. 11) marks this time minutely—Ἦν μὲν γὰρ ἐκκλησία τοῖς στρατηγοῖς τοῖς εἰς Σικελίαν, Νικίᾳ καὶ Λαμάχῳ καὶ Ἀλκιβιάδῃ, καὶ τριήρης ἡ στρατηγὶς ἤδη ἐξώρμει ἡ Λαμάχου· ἀναστὰς δὲ Πυθόνικος ἐν τῷ δήμῳ εἶπεν, etc.

[261] Andokid. de Myster. s. 11-13.

[262] Thucyd. vi, 29. Isokratês (Orat. xvi, De Bigis, sects. 7, 8) represents these proceedings before the departure for Sicily, in a very inaccurate manner.

[263] Thucyd. vi, 29. Οἱ δ’ ἐχθροὶ, δεδιότες τό τε στράτευμα, μὴ εὔνουν ἔχῃ, ἢν ἤδη ἀγωνίζηται, ὅ τε δῆμος μὴ μαλακίζηται, θεραπεύων ὅτι δι’ ἐκεῖνον οἵ τ’ Ἀργεῖοι ξυνεστράτευον καὶ τῶν Μαντινέων τινες, ἀπέτρεπον καὶ ἀπέσπευδον, ἄλλους ῥήτορας ἐνιέντες, οἳ ἔλεγον νῦν μὲν πλεῖν αὐτὸν καὶ μὴ κατασχεῖν τὴν ἀγωγὴν, ἐλθόντα δὲ κρίνεσθαι ἐν ἡμέραις ῥηταῖς, βουλόμενοι ἐκ μείζονος διαβολῆς, ἣν ἔμελλον ῥᾷον αὐτοῦ ἀπόντος ποριεῖν, μετάπεμπτον κομισθέντα αὐτὸν ἀγωνίσασθαι.

Compare Plutarch, Alkib. c. 19.

[264] The account which Andokidês gives of the first accusation against Alkibiadês by Pythonikus, in the assembly, prior to the departure of the fleet, presents the appearance of being substantially correct, and I have followed it in the text. It is in harmony with the more brief indications of Thucydidês. But when Andokidês goes on to say, that “in consequence of this information, Polystratus was seized and put to death, while the rest of the parties denounced fled, and were condemned to death in their absence,” (sect. 13,) this cannot be true. Alkibiadês most certainly did not flee, and was not condemned at that time. If Alkibiadês was not then tried, neither could the other persons have been tried, who were denounced as his accomplices in the same offence. My belief is that this information, having been first presented by the enemies of Alkibiadês before the sailing of the fleet, was dropped entirely for that time, both against him and against his accomplices. It was afterwards resumed, when the information of Andokidês himself had satisfied the Athenians on the question of the Hermokopids: and the impeachment presented by Thessalus son of Kimon against Alkibiadês, was founded, in part at least, upon the information presented by Andromachus.

If Polystratus was put to death at all, it could only have been on this second bringing forward of the charge, at the time when Alkibiadês was sent for and refused to come home. But we may well doubt whether he was put to death at that time or on that ground, when we see how inaccurate the statement of Andokidês is as to the consequences of the information of Andromachus. He mentions Panætius as one of those who fled in consequence of that information, and were condemned in their absence: but Panætius appears afterwards, in the very same speech, as not having fled at that time (sects. 13, 52, 67). Harpokration states (v. Πολύστρατος), on the authority of an oration ascribed to Lysias, that Polystratus was put to death on the charge of having been concerned in the mutilation of the Hermæ. This is quite different from the statement of Andokidês, and would lead us to suppose that Polystratus was one of those against whom Andokidês himself informed.

[265] Thucyd. vi, 43; vii, 57.

[266] Thucyd. vi, 32; Diodor. xiii, 3.

[267] Thucyd. vi, 44.

[268] Thucyd. vi, 44-46.

[269] Thucyd. vi, 32-35. Mr. Mitford observes: “It is not specified by historians, but the account of Thucydidês makes it evident, that there had been a revolution in the government of Syracuse, or at least a great change in its administration, since the oligarchical Leontines were admitted to the rights of Syracusan citizens (ch. xviii, sect. iii, vol. iv, p. 46). The democratical party now bore the sway,” etc.

I cannot imagine upon what passage of Thucydidês Mr. Mitford founds this conjecture, which appears to me pure fancy. He had spoken of the government as a democracy before, he continues to speak of it as a democracy now, in the same unaltered vituperative strain.

[270] Thucyd. vi, 41. τὰ δὲ καὶ ἐπιμεμελήμεθα ἤδη, etc.

[271] Thucyd. vi, 34. Ὃ δὲ μάλιστα ἐγώ τε νομίζω ἐπίκαιρον, ὑμεῖς δὲ διὰ τὸ ξύνηθες ἥσυχον ἥκιστ’ ἂν ὀξέως πείθοισθε, ὅμως εἰρήσεται.

That “habitual quiescence” which Hermokratês here predicates of his countrymen, forms a remarkable contrast with the restless activity, and intermeddling carried even to excess, which Periklês and Nikias deprecate in the Athenians (Thucyd. i, 144; vi, 7). Both of the governments, however, were democratical. This serves as a lesson of caution respecting general predications about all democracies; for it is certain that one democracy differed in many respects from another. It may be doubted, however, whether the attribute here ascribed by Hermokratês to his countrymen was really deserved, to the extent which his language implies.

[272] Thucyd. vi, 33-36.

[273] Thucyd. vi, 32-35. τῶν δὲ Συρακ