The Project Gutenberg eBook of History of Greece, Volume 06 (of 12)

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Title: History of Greece, Volume 06 (of 12)

Author: George Grote

Release date: June 19, 2017 [eBook #54936]
Most recently updated: August 30, 2017

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Henry Flower, Adrian Mastronardi, Ramon Pajares
Box, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images
generously made available by The Internet Archive/American


Transcriber's note

Table of Contents

Book cover

[p. i]






[p. iii]






Personal activity now prevalent among the Athenian citizens — empire of Athens again exclusively maritime, after the Thirty years’ truce. — Chios, Samos, and Lesbos, were now the only free allies of Athens, on the same footing as the original confederates of Delos — the rest were subject and tributary. — Athens took no pains to inspire her allies with the idea of a common interest — nevertheless, the allies were gainers by the continuance of her empire. — Conception of Periklês — Athens, an imperial city, owing protection to the subject-allies; who, on their part, owed obedience and tribute. — Large amount of revenue laid by and accumulated by Athens, during the years preceding the Peloponnesian war. — Pride felt by Athenian citizens in the imperial power of their city. — Numerous Athenian citizens planted out as kleruchs by Periklês. — Chersonesus of Thrace. Sinôpê. — Active personal and commercial relations between Athens and all parts of the Ægean. — Amphipolis in Thrace founded by Athens. — Agnon is sent out as Œkist. — Situation and importance of Amphipolis. — Foundation, by the Athenians, of Thurii, on the southern coast of Italy. — Conduct of the refugee inhabitants of the ruined Sybaris — their encroachments in the foundation of Thurii: they are expelled, and Thurii reconstituted. — Herodotus and Lysias — both domiciliated as citizens at Thurii. Few Athenian citizens settled there as colonists. — Period from 445-431 B.C. Athens at peace. Her political condition. Rivalry of Periklês with Thucydidês son of Melêsias. — Points of contention between the two parties: 1. Peace with Persia. 2. Expenditure of money for the decoration of Athens. — Defence of Periklês perfectly good against his political rivals. — Pan-Hellenic schemes and sentiment of Periklês. — Bitter contention of parties at Athens — vote of ostracism[p. iv] — Thucydidês is ostracized about 443 B.C. — New works undertaken at Athens. Third Long Wall. Docks in Peiræus — which is newly laid out as a town, by the architect Hippodamus. — Odeon, Parthenon, Propylæa. Other temples. Statues of Athênê. — Illustrious artists and architects — Pheidias, Iktînus, Kallikratês. — Effect of these creations of art and architecture upon the minds of contemporaries. — Attempt of Periklês to convene a general congress at Athens, of deputies from all the Grecian states. — Revolt of Samos from the Athenians. — Athenian armament against Samos, under Periklês, Sophoklês the tragedian, etc. — Doubtful and prolonged contest — great power of Samos — it is at last reconquered, disarmed, and dismantled. — None of the other allies of Athens, except Byzantium, revolted at the same time. — Application of the Samians to Sparta for aid against Athens — it is refused, chiefly through the Corinthians. — Government of Samos after the reconquest — doubtful whether the Athenians renewed the democracy which they had recently established. — Funeral oration pronounced by Periklês upon the Athenian citizens slain in the Samian war. — Position of the Athenian empire — relation of Athens to her subject allies — their feelings towards her generally were those of indifference and acquiescence, not of hatred. — Particular grievances complained of in the dealing of Athens with her allies. — Annual tribute — changes made in its amount. Athenian officers and inspectors throughout the empire. — Disputes and offences in and among the subject-allies, were brought for trial before the dikasteries at Athens. Productive of some disadvantages, but of preponderance of advantage to the subject-allies themselves. — Imperial Athens compared with imperial Sparta. — Numerous Athenian citizens spread over the Ægean — the allies had no redress against them, except through the Athenian dikasteries. — The dikasteries afforded protection against misconduct both of Athenian citizens and Athenian officers. — The dikasteries, defective or not, were the same tribunals under which every Athenian held his own security. — Athenian empire was affected for the worse by the circumstances of the Peloponnesian war: more violence was introduced into it by that war than had prevailed before. — The subject-allies of Athens had few practical grievances to complain of. — The Grecian world was now divided into two great systems; with a right supposed to be vested in each, of punishing its own refractory members. — Policy of Corinth, from being pacific, becomes warlike. — Disputes arise between Corinth and Korkyra — case of Epidamnus. — The Epidamnians apply for aid in their distress to Korkyra; they are refused — the Corinthians send aid to the place. — The Korkyræans attack Epidamnus — armament sent thither by Corinth. — Remonstrance of the Korkyræans with Corinth and the Peloponnesians. — Hostilities between Corinth and Korkyra — naval victory of the latter. — Large preparations made by Corinth for renewing the war. — Application of the Korkyræans to be received among the allies of Athens. — Address of the Korkyræan envoys to the Athenian public assembly. Principal topics upon which it insists, as given in Thucydidês. — Envoys from Corinth address the Athenian assembly in reply. — Decision of the Athenians — a qualified compliance with the request of Korkyra. The Athenian triremes sent to Korkyra. — Naval combat between the Corinthians and Korkyræans: rude tactics on both sides. — The Korkyræans are defeated. — Arrival of a reinforcement from Athens — the Corinthian fleet retires, carrying off numerous Korkyræan prisoners. — Hostilities not yet professedly begun between Athens and Corinth. — Hatred conceived by the Corinthians towards Athens. — They begin to stir up revolt among the Athenian allies — Potidæa, colony of Corinth, but ally of[p. v] Athens. — Relations of Athens with Perdikkas king of Macedonia, his intrigues along with Corinth against her — he induces the Chalkidians to revolt from her — increase of Olynthus. — Revolt of Potidæa — armament sent thither from Athens. — Combat near Potidæa, between the Athenian force and the allied Corinthians. Potidæans, and Chalkidians. — Victory of the Athenians. — Potidæa placed in blockade by the Athenians.




State of feeling in Greece between the Thirty years’ truce and the Peloponnesian war — recognized probability of war — Athens at that time not encroaching — decree interdicting trade with the Megarians. — Zealous importunity of the Corinthians in bringing about a general war, for the purpose of preserving Potidæa. — Relations of Sparta with her allies — they had a determining vote, whether they would or would not approve of a course of policy which had been previously revived by Sparta separately. — Assembly of the Spartans separately addressed by envoys of the allied powers, complaining that Athens had violated the truce. — The Corinthian envoys address the assembly last, after the envoys of the other allies have inflamed it against Athens. — International customs of the time, as bearing upon the points in dispute between Athens and Corinth. — Athens in the right. — Tenor of the Corinthian address — little allusion to recent wrong — strong efforts to raise hatred and alarm against Athens. — Remarkable picture drawn of Athens by her enemies. — Reply made by an Athenian envoy, accidentally present in Sparta. — His account of the empire of Athens — how it had been acquired, and how it was maintained. — He adjures them not to break the truce, but to adjust all differences by that pacific appeal which the truce provided. — The Spartans exclude strangers, and discuss the point among themselves in the assembly. — Most Spartan speakers are in favor of war. King Archidamus opposes war. His speech. — The speech of Archidamus is ineffectual. Short, but warlike appeal of the Ephor Stheneläidas. — Vote of the Spartan assembly in favor of war. — The Spartans send to Delphi — obtain an encouraging reply. — General congress of allies at Sparta. Second speech of the Corinthian envoys, enforcing the necessity and propriety of war. — Vote of the majority of the allies in favor of war, B.C. 432. — Views and motives of the opposing powers. — The hopes and confidence, on the side of Sparta; the fears, on the side of Athens. Heralds sent from Sparta to Athens with complaints and requisitions meanwhile the preparations for war go on. — Requisitions addressed by Sparta to Athens — demand for the expulsion of the Alkmæonidæ as impious — aimed at Periklês. — Position of Periklês at Athens: bitter hostility of his political opponents: attacks made upon him. — Prosecution of Aspasia. Her character and accomplishments. — Family relations of Periklês — his connection with Aspasia. License of the comic writers in their attacks upon both. — Prosecution of Anaxagoras the philosopher as well as of Aspasia — Anaxagoras retires from Athens — Periklês defends Aspasia before the dikastery, and obtains her acquittal.[p. vi] — Prosecution of the sculptor Pheidias for embezzlement — instituted by the political opponents of Periklês. — Charge of peculation against Periklês himself. — Probability that Periklês was never even tried for peculation, certainly that he was never found guilty of it. — Requisition from the Lacedæmonians, for the banishment of Periklês — arrived when Periklês was thus pressed by his political enemies — rejected. — Counter-requisition sent by the Athenians to Sparta, for expiation of sacrilege. — Fresh requisitions sent from Sparta to Athens — to withdraw the troops from Potidæa — to leave Ægina free — to readmit the Megarians to Athenian harbors. — Final and peremptory requisition of Sparta — public assembly held at Athens on the whole subject of war and peace. — Great difference of opinion in the assembly — important speech of Periklês. — Periklês strenuously urges the Athenians not to yield. — His review of the comparative forces, and probable chances of success or defeat, in the war. — The assembly adopts the recommendation of Periklês — firm and determined reply sent to Sparta. — Views of Thucydidês respecting the grounds, feelings, and projects of the two parties now about to embark in war. — Equivocal period — war not yet proclaimed — first blow struck, not by Athens, but by her enemies. — Open violation of the truce by the Thebans — they surprise Platæa in the night. — The gates of Platæa are opened by an oligarchical party within — a Theban detachment are admitted into the agora at night — at first apparently successful, afterwards overpowered and captured. — Large force intended to arrive from Thebes to support the assailants early in the morning — they are delayed by the rain and the swelling of the Asôpus — they commence hostilities against the Platæan persons and property without the walls. — Parley between the Platæans and the Theban force without — the latter evacuate the territory — the Theban prisoners in Platæa are slain. — Messages from Platæa to Athens — answer. — Grecian feeling, already predisposed to the war, was wound up to the highest pitch by the striking incident at Platæa. — Preparations for war on the part of Athens — intimations sent round to her allies — Akarnanians recently acquired by Athens as allies — recent capture of the Amphilochian Argos by the Athenian Phormio. — Strength and resources of Athens and her allies — military and naval means — treasure. — Ample grounds for the confidence expressed by Periklês in the result. — Position and power of Sparta and the Peloponnesian allies — they are full of hope and confidence of putting down Athens speedily. — Efforts of Sparta to get up a naval force. — Muster of the combined Peloponnesian force at the isthmus of Corinth, under Archidamus, to invade Attica. — Last envoy sent to Athens — he is dismissed without being allowed to enter the town. — March of Archidamus into Attica — his fruitless siege of Œnoê. — Expectation of Archidamus that Athens would yield at the last moment. — Difficulty of Periklês in persuading the Athenians to abandon their territory and see it all ravaged. — Attica deserted — the population flock within the walls of Athens. Hardships, privations, and distress endured. — March of Archidamus into Attica. — Archidamus advances to Acharnæ, within seven miles of Athens. — Intense clamor within the walls of Athens — eagerness to go forth and fight. — Trying position, firmness, and sustained ascendency, of Periklês, in dissuading them from going forth. — The Athenians remain within their walls: partial skirmishes only, no general action. — Athenian fleet is despatched to ravage the coasts of Peloponnesus — first notice of the Spartan Brasidas — operations of the Athenians in Akarnania, Kephallênia, etc. — The Athenians expel the Æginetans from Ægina, and people the island with Athenian kleruchs. The Ægi[p. vii]netans settle at Thyrea in Peloponnesus. — The Athenians invade and ravage the Megarid: sufferings of the Megarians. — Measures taken by Athens for permanent defence. — Sum put by in the acropolis, against urgent need, not to be touched unless under certain defined dangers. — Capital punishment against any who should propose otherwise. — Remarks on this decree. — Blockade of Potidæa — Sitalkês king of the Odrysian Thracians — alliance made between him and Athens. — Periklês is chosen orator to deliver the funeral discourse over the citizens slain during the year. — Funeral oration of Periklês. — Sketch of Athenian political constitution, and social life, as conceived by Periklês. — Eulogy upon Athens and the Athenian character. — Mutual tolerance of diversity of tastes and pursuits in Athens. — It is only true partially and in some memorable instances that the state interfered to an exorbitant degree with individual liberty in Greece. — Free play of individual taste and impulse in Athens — importance of this phenomenon in society. — Extraordinary and many-sided activity of Athens. — Peculiar and interesting moment at which the discourse of Periklês was delivered. Athens now at the maximum of her power — declining tendency commences soon afterwards.




Barren results of the operations during the first year of war. — Second invasion of Attica by the Peloponnesians — more spreading and ruinous than the first. — Commencement of the pestilence or epidemic at Athens. — Description of the epidemic by Thucydidês — his conception of the duty of exactly observing and recording. — Extensive and terrible suffering of Athens. — Inefficacy of remedies — despair and demoralization of the Athenians. — Lawless recklessness of conduct engendered. — Great loss of life among the citizens — blow to the power of Athens. — Athenian armament sent first against Peloponnesus, next, against Potidæa — it is attacked and ruined by the epidemic. — Irritation of the Athenians under their sufferings and losses — they become incensed against Periklês — his unshaken firmness in defending himself. — Athenian public assembly — last speech of Periklês — his high tone of self-esteem against the public discontent. Powerful effect of his address — new resolution shown for continuing the war — nevertheless, the discontent against Periklês still continues. He is accused and condemned in a fine. — Old age of Periklês — his family misfortunes and suffering. He is reëlected stratêgus — restored to power and to the confidence of the people. — Last moments and death of Periklês. His life and character. — Judgment of Thucydidês respecting Periklês. — Earlier and later political life of Periklês — how far the one differed from the other. — Accusation against Periklês of having corrupted the Athenian people — untrue, and not believed by Thucydidês. — Great progress and improvement of the Athenians under Periklês. — Periklês is not to blame for the Peloponnesian war. — Operations of war languid, under the pressure of the epidemic. — Attack of the Ambrakiots on the Amphilochian Argos: the Athenian Phormio is sent with a squadron to Naupaktus. — Injury done to Athenian commerce by Pelo[p. viii]ponnesian privateers — The Lacedæmonians put to death all their prisoners taken at sea, even neutrals. — Lacedæmonian envoys seized in their way to Persia and put to death by the Athenians. — Surrender of Potidæa — indulgent capitulation granted by the Athenian generals. — Third year of the war — king Archidamus marches to Platæa — no invasion of Attica. — Remonstrance of the Platæans to Archidamus — his reply — he summons Platæa in vain. — The Platæans resolve to stand out and defy the Lacedæmonian force. — Invocation and excuse of Archidamus on hearing the refusal of the Platæans. — Commencement of the siege of Platæa. — Operations of attack and defence — the besiegers make no progress, and are obliged to resort to blockade. — Wall of circumvallation built round Platæa — the place completely beleaguered and a force left to maintain the blockade. — Athenian armament sent to Potidæa and Chalkidic Thrace — it is defeated and returns. — Operations on the coast of Akarnania. — Joint attack upon Akarnania, by land and sea, concerted between the Ambrakiots and Peloponnesians. — Assemblage of the Ambrakiots, Peloponnesians, and Epirotic allies — divisions of Epirots. — They march to attack the Akarnanian town of Stratus. — Rashness of the Epirots — defeat and repulse of the army. — The Peloponnesian fleet comes from Corinth to Akarnania — movements of the Athenian Phormio to oppose it. — Naval battle between Phormio and the Peloponnesian fleet — his complete victory. — Reflections upon these two defeats of the Peloponnesians. — Indignation of the Lacedæmonians at the late naval defeat: they collect a larger fleet under Knêmus to act against Phormio. — Inferior numbers of Phormio — his manœuvring. — The Peloponnesian fleet forces Phormio to a battle on the line of coast near Naupaktus. Dispositions and harangues on both sides. — Battle near Naupaktus. The Peloponnesian fleet at first successful, but afterwards defeated. — Retirement of the defeated Peloponnesian fleet. — Phormio is reinforced — his operations in Akarnania — he returns to Athens. — Attempt of Knêmus and Brasidas to surprise Peiræus, starting from Corinth. — Alliance of the Athenians with the Odrysian king Sitalkês. — Power of the Odrysians in Thrace — their extensive dominion over the other Thracian tribes. — Sitalkês, at the instigation of Athens, undertakes to attack Perdikkas and the Chalkidians of Thrace. — His vast and multifarious host of Thracians and other barbarians. — He invades and ravages Macedonia and Chalkidikê. — He is forced to retire by the severity of the season and want of Athenian coöperation.




Fourth year of the war — internal suffering at Athens. — Renewed invasion of Attica. — Revolt of Mitylênê and most part of Lesbos from Athens. — Proceedings of Athens — powerful condition of Mitylênê — Athenian fleet sent thither under Kleïppidês. — Kleïppidês fails in surprising Mitylênê — carries on an imperfect blockade. — He receives reinforcements, and presses the siege with greater vigor — want of resolution on the part of the Mitylenæans. — The Mitylenæan envoys address themselves to the[p. ix] Spartans at the Olympic festival, entreating aid. — Tone and topics of their address. — Practical grounds of complaint on the part of the Mitylenæans against Athens few or none. — The Peloponnesians promise assistance to Mitylênê — energetic demonstrations of the Athenians. — Asôpius son of Phormio in Akarnania. — The accumulated treasure of Athens exhausted by her efforts — necessity for her to raise a direct contribution. — Outbreak of the Platæans from their blockaded town. — Their plan of escape — its extraordinary difficulty and danger. Half of the garrison of Platæa escapes to Athens. — Blockade of Mitylênê closely carried on by the Athenian general Pachês — the Mitylenæans are encouraged to hold out by the Lacedæmonians, who send thither Salæthus. — Mitylênê holds out till provisions are exhausted — Salæthus arms all the people of Mitylênê for a general sally — the people refuse to join — the city is surrendered to Athens, at discretion. — The Peloponnesian fleet under Alkidas arrives off the coast of Ionia — astonishment and alarm which its presence creates. — Pachês, after the capture of Mitylênê, pursues the fleet of Alkidas, which returns to Peloponnesus without having done anything. — Pachês at Notium — he captures the place — his perfidy towards Hippias, the leader of the garrison. — Notium recolonized from Athens as a separate town. — Pachês sends to Athens about a thousand Mitylenæan prisoners, the persons chiefly concerned in the late revolt, together with Salæthus. — Important debate in the Athenian assembly upon the treatment of the prisoners. — First mention of Kleon by Thucydidês — new class of politicians to which he belonged. — Eukratês, Kleon, Lysiklês, Hyperbolus, etc. — Character of Kleon. — Indignation of the Athenians against Mitylênê — proposition of Kleon to put to death the whole male population of military age is carried and passed. — Repentance of the Athenians after the decree is passed. A fresh assembly is convened to reconsider the decree. — Account of the second assembly given by Thucydidês — speech of Kleon in support of the resolution already passed. — Remarks on the speech of Kleon. — Speech of Diodotus in opposition to Kleon — second decree mitigating the former. Rapid voyage of the trireme which carries the second decree to Mitylênê — it arrives just in time to prevent the execution of the first. — Those Mitylenæans whom Pachês had sent to Athens are put to death — treatment of Mitylênê by the Athenians. — Enormities committed by Pachês at Mitylênê — his death before the Athenian dikastery. — Surrender of Platæa to the Lacedæmonians. — The Platæan captive garrison are put upon their trial before Lacedæmonian judges. — Speech of the Platæan deputies to these judges on behalf of themselves and their comrades. — Reply of the Thebans. — The Platæans are sentenced to death by the Lacedæmonian judges, and all slain. — Reason of the severity of the Lacedæmonians — cases of Platæa and Mitylênê compared. — Circumstances of Korkyra — the Korkyræan captives are sent back from Corinth, under agreement to effect a revolution in the government and foreign politics of the island. — Their attempts to bring about a revolution — they prosecute the democratical leader Peithias — he prosecutes five of them in revenge — they are found guilty. — They assassinate Peithias and several other senators, and make themselves masters of the government — they decree neutrality — their unavailing mission to Athens. — The oligarchical party at Korkyra attack the people — obstinate battle in the city — victory of the people — arrival of the Athenian admiral Nikostratus. — Moderation of Nikostratus — proceedings of the people towards the vanquished oligarchs. — Arrival of the Lacedæmonian admiral Alkidas, with a fleet of fifty-three triremes. Renewed terror and[p. x] struggle in the island. — Naval battle off Korkyra between Nikostratus and Alkidas. — Confusion and defenceless state of Korkyra — Alkidas declines to attack it — arrival of the Athenian fleet under Eurymedon — flight of Alkidas. — Vengeance of the victorious Demos in Korkyra against the prostrate oligarchs — fearful bloodshed. — Lawless and ferocious murders — base connivance of Eurymedon. — Band of oligarchical fugitives escape to the mainland — afterwards land again on the island and establish themselves on Mount Istônê. — Political reflections introduced by Thucydidês on occasion of the Korkyræan massacre. — The political enormities of Korkyra were the worst that occurred in the whole war. — How these enormities began and became exaggerated. Conduct of the opposing parties. — Contrast between the bloody character of revolutions at Korkyra and the mild character of analogous phenomena at Athens. — Bad morality of the rich and great men throughout the Grecian cities.




Capture of Minôa, opposite Megara, by the Athenians under Nikias. — Nikias — his first introduction, position, and character. — Varying circumstances and condition of the oligarchical party at Athens. — Points of analogy between Nikias and Periklês — material differences. — Care of Nikias in maintaining his popularity and not giving offence; his very religious character. — His diligence in increasing his fortune — speculations in the mines of Laurium — letting out of slaves for hire. — Nikias first opposed to Kleon — next to Alkibiadês. — Oligarchical clubs, or Hetæries, at Athens, for political and judicial purposes. — Kleon — his real function that of opposition — real power inferior to Nikias. — Revival of the epidemic distemper at Athens for another year — atmospheric and terrestrial disturbances in Greece. Lacedæmonian invasion of Attica suspended for this year. — Foundation of the colony of Herakleia by the Lacedæmonians, near Thermopylæ — its numerous settlers, great promise, and unprosperous career. — Athenian expedition against Melos, under Nikias. — Proceedings of the Athenians under Demosthenês in Akarnania. — Expedition of Demosthenês against Ætolia — his large plans. — March of Demosthenês — impracticability of the territory of Ætolia. — rudeness and bravery of the inhabitants. — He is completely beaten and obliged to retire with loss. — Attack of Ætolians and Peloponnesians under Eurylochus upon Naupaktus. — Naupaktus is saved by Demosthenês and the Akarnanians. — Eurylochus, repulsed from Naupaktus, concerts with the Ambrakiots an attack on Argos. — Demosthenês and the Athenians, as well as the Akarnanians, come to the protection of Argos. — March of Eurylochus across Akarnania to join the Ambrakiots. — Their united army is defeated by Demosthenês at Olpæ — Eurylochus slain. — The surviving Spartan commander makes a separate capitulation for himself and the Peloponnesians, deserting the Ambrakiots. — The Ambrakiots sustain much loss in their retreat. — Another large body of Ambrakiots, coming from the city as a reinforcement, is intercepted by Demosthenês at Idomenê and cut to pieces. — Despair of the Am[p. xi]brakiot herald on seeing the great number of slain. — Defenceless and feeble condition of Ambrakia after this ruinous loss. — Attempt to calculate the loss of the Ambrakiots. — Convention concluded between Ambrakia on one side, and the Akarnanians and Amphilochians on the other. — Return of Demosthenês in triumph to Athens. — Purification of Delos by the Athenians. Revival of the Delian festival with peculiar splendor.




Seventh year of the war — invasion of Attica. — Distress in Korkyra from the attack of the oligarchical exiles. A Peloponnesian fleet and an Athenian fleet are both sent thither. — Demosthenês goes on board the Athenian fleet with a separate command. — He fixes upon Pylus in Laconia for the erection of a fort. Locality of Pylus and Sphakteria. — Eurymedon the admiral of the fleet insists upon going on to Korkyra, without stopping at Pylus. The fleet are driven into Pylus by a storm. — Demosthenês fortifies the place, through the voluntary zeal of the soldiers. He is left there with a garrison while the fleet goes on to Korkyra. — Slow march of the Lacedæmonians to recover Pylus. — Preparations of Demosthenês to defend Pylus against them. — Proceedings of the Lacedæmonian army — they send a detachment to occupy the island of Sphakteria, opposite Pylus. — They attack the place by sea and land — gallant conduct of Brasidas in the attack on the sea-side. — Return of Eurymedon and the Athenian fleet to Pylus. — He defeats the Lacedæmonian fleet in the harbor of Pylus. — The Lacedæmonian detachment is blocked up by the Athenian fleet in the island of Sphakteria — armistice concluded at Pylus. — Mission of Lacedæmonian envoys to Athens, to propose peace and solicit the release of their soldiers in Sphakteria. — The Athenians, at the instance of Kleon, require the restoration of Nisæa, Pegæ, Trœzen, and Achaia, as conditions of giving up the men in Sphakteria and making peace. — The envoys will not consent to these demands — Kleon prevents negotiation — they are sent back to Pylus without any result. — Remarks on this assembly and on the conduct of Athens. — The armistice is terminated, and war resumed at Pylus. Eurymedon keeps possession of the Lacedæmonian fleet. — Blockade of Sphakteria by the Athenian fleet — difficulty and hardships to the sea men of the fleet. — Protracted duration and seeming uncertainty of the blockade — Demosthenês sends to Athens for reinforcements to attack the island. — Proceedings in the Athenian assembly on receiving this news — proposition of Kleon — manœuvre of his political enemies to send him against his will as general to Pylus. — Reflections upon this proceeding and upon the conduct of parties at Athens. — Kleon goes to Pylus with a reinforcement — condition of the island of Sphakteria — numbers and positions of the Lacedæmonians in it. — Kleon and Demosthenês land their forces in the island, and attack it. — Numerous light troops of Demosthenês employed against the Lacedæmonians in Sphakteria. — Distress of the Lacedæmonians — their bravery and long resistance. They retreat to their last redoubt at the extremity of the island. They are surrounded and forced to surrender. — Astonishment caused through[p. xii]out Greece by the surrender of Lacedæmonian hoplites — diminished lustre of Spartan arms. — Judgment pronounced by Thucydidês himself — reflections upon it. — Prejudice of Thucydidês in regard to Kleon. Kleon displayed sound judgment and decision, and was one of the essential causes of the success. — Effect produced at Athens by the arrival of the Lacedæmonian prisoners. — The Athenians prosecute the war with increased hopefulness and vigor. The Lacedæmonians make new advances for peace without effect. — Remarks upon the policy of Athens — her chance was now universally believed to be most favorable in prosecuting the war. — Fluctuations in Athenian feeling for or against the war: there were two occasions on which Kleon contributed to influence them towards it. — Expedition of Nikias against the Corinthian territory. — He reëmbarks — ravages Epidaurus — establishes a post on the peninsula of Methana. — Eurymedon with the Athenian fleet goes to Korkyra. Defeat and captivity of the Korkyræan exiles in the island. — The captives are put to death — cruelty and horrors in the proceeding. — Capture of Anaktorium by the Athenians and Akarnanians. — Proceedings of the Athenians at Chios and Lesbos. — The Athenians capture Artaphernes, a Persian envoy, on his way to Sparta. — Succession of Persian kings — Xerxes, Artaxerxes Longimanus, etc., Darius Nothus.




Important operations of the eighth year of the war. — Capture of Kythêra by the Athenians. Nikias ravages the Laconian coast. — Capture of Thyrea — all the Æginetans resident there are either slain in the attack or put to death afterwards as prisoners. — Alarm and depression among the Lacedæmonians — their insecurity in regard to the Helots. — They entrap, and cause to be assassinated, two thousand of the bravest Helots. — Request from the Chalkidians and Perdikkas that Spartan aid may be sent to them under Brasidas. — Brasidas is ordered to go thither, with Helot and Peloponnesian hoplites. — Elate and enterprising dispositions prevalent at Athens. Plan formed against Megara. Condition of Megara. — The Athenians, under Hippokratês and Demosthenês, attempt to surprise Nisæa and Megara. — Conspirators within open the gate, and admit them into the Megarian Long Walls. They master the whole line of the Long Walls. — The Athenians march to the gates of Megara — failure of the scheme of the party within to open them. — The Athenians attack Nisæa — the place surrenders to them. — Dissension of parties in Megara — intervention of Brasidas. — Brasidas gets together an army, and relieves Megara — no battle takes place — the Athenians retire. — Revolution at Megara — return of the exiles from Pegæ, under pledge of amnesty — they violate their oaths, and effect a forcible oligarchical revolution. — Combined plan by Hippokratês and Demosthenês for the invasion of Bœotia on three sides at once. — Demosthenês, with an Akarnanian force, makes a descent on Bœotia at Siphæ in the Corinthian gulf — his scheme fails and he retires. — Disappointment of the Athenian plans — no internal movements take place in Bœotia. Hippokratês marches with the army from Athens to Delium in Bœotia. — Hippokratês fortifies Delium,[p. xiii] after which the army retires homeward. — Gathering of the Bœotian military force at Tanagra. Pagondas, the Theban bœotarch, determines them to fight. — Marshalling of the Bœotian army — great depth of the Theban hoplites — special Theban band of Three Hundred. — Order of battle of the Athenian army. — Battle of Delium — vigorously contested — advantage derived from the depth of the Theban phalanx. — Defeat and flight of the Athenians — Hippokratês, with one thousand hoplites, is slain. — Interchange of heralds — remonstrance of the Bœotians against the Athenians for desecrating the temple of Delium — they refuse permission to bury the slain except on condition of quitting Delium. — Answer of the Athenian herald — he demands permission to bury the bodies of the slain. — The Bœotians persist in demanding the evacuation of Delium as a condition for granting permission to bury the dead. Debate on the subject. Remarks on the debate. — Siege and capture of Delium by the Bœotians. — Sokratês and Alkibiadês, personally engaged at Delium. — March of Brasidas through Thessaly to Thrace and Macedonia. Rapidity and address with which he gets through Thessaly. — Relations between Brasidas and Perdikkas — Brasidas enters into an accommodation with Arrhibæus — Perdikkas is offended. — Brasidas marches against Akanthus. State of parties in the town. — He is admitted personally into the town to explain his views — his speech before the Akanthian assembly. — Debate in the Akanthian assembly, and decision of the majority voting secretly to admit him, after much opposition. — Reflections upon this proceeding — good political habits of the Akanthians. — Evidence which this proceeding affords, that the body of citizens (among the Athenian allies) did not hate Athens, and were not anxious to revolt. — Brasidas establishes intelligences in Argilus. He lays his plan for the surprise of Amphipolis. — Night-march of Brasidas from Arnê, through Argilus to the river Strymon and Amphipolis. — He becomes master of the lands round Amphipolis, but is disappointed in gaining admission into the town. — He offers to the citizens the most favorable terms of capitulation, which they accept. — Amphipolis capitulates. — Thucydidês arrives at Eion from Thasus with his squadron — not in time to preserve Amphipolis — he preserves Eion. — Alarm and dismay produced at Athens by the capture of Amphipolis — increased hopes among her enemies. — Extraordinary personal glory, esteem, and influence acquired by Brasidas. — Inaction and despondency of Athens after the battle of Delium, especially in reference to arresting the conquests of Brasidas in Thrace. — Loss of Amphipolis was caused by the negligence of the Athenian commanders — Euklês, and the historian Thucydidês. — The Athenians banish Thucydidês on the proposition of Kleon. — Sentence of banishment passed on Thucydidês by the Athenians — grounds of that sentence. — He justly incurred their verdict of guilty. — Preparations of Brasidas in Amphipolis for extended conquest — his operations against the Aktê, or promontory of Athos. — He attacks Torônê in the Sithonian peninsula — he is admitted into the town by an internal party — surprises and takes it. — Some part of the population, with the small Athenian garrison, retire to the separate citadel called Lêkythus. — Conciliating address of Brasidas to the assembly at Torônê. — He attacks Lêkythus and takes it by storm. — Personal ability and conciliatory efficiency of Brasidas.


[p. xiv]CHAPTER LIV.


Eighth year of the war — began with most favorable promise for Athens — closed with great reverses to her. — Desire of Spartans to make peace in order to regain the captives — they decline sending reinforcements to Brasidas. — King Pleistoanax at Sparta — eager for peace — his special reasons — his long banishment recently terminated by recall. — Negotiations during the winter of 424-423 B.C. for peace. — Truce for one year concluded, in March 423 B.C. — Conditions of the truce. — Resolution to open negotiations for a definitive treaty. — New events in Thrace — revolt of Skiônê from Athens to Brasidas, two days after the truce was sworn. — Brasidas crosses over to Skiônê — his judicious conduct — enthusiastic admiration for him there. — Brasidas brings across reinforcements to Skiônê — he conveys away the women and children into a place of safety. — Commissioners from Sparta and Athens arrive in Thrace, to announce to Brasidas the truce just concluded. Dispute respecting Skiônê. The war continues in Thrace, but is suspended everywhere else. — Revolt of Mendê from Athens — Brasidas receives the offers of the Mendæans — engages to protect them and sends to them a garrison against Athens. He departs upon an expedition against Arrhibæus in the interior of Macedonia. — Nikias and Nikostratus arrive with an Athenian armament in Pallênê. They attack Mendê. The Lacedæmonian garrison under Polydamidas at first repulses them. — Dissensions among the citizens of Mendê — mutiny of the Demos against Polydamidas — the Athenians are admitted into the town. — The Athenians besiege and blockade Skiônê. Nikias leaves a blockading force there, and returns to Athens. — Expedition of Brasidas along with Perdikkas into Macedonia against Arrhibæus. — Retreat of Brasidas and Perdikkas before the Illyrians. — Address of Brasidas to his soldiers before the retreat. — Contrast between Grecian and barbaric military feeling. — Appeal of Brasidas to the right of conquest or superior force. — The Illyrians attack Brasidas in his retreat, but are repulsed. — Breach between Brasidas and Perdikkas: the latter opens negotiations with the Athenians. — Relations between Athens and the Peloponnesians — no progress made towards definitive peace — Lacedæmonian reinforcement on its way to Brasidas, prevented from passing through Thessaly. — Incidents in Peloponnesus — the temple of Hêrê near Argos accidentally burnt. — War in Arcadia — battle between Mantineia and Tegea. — Bœotians at peace de facto, though not parties to the truce. — Hard treatment of the Thespians by Thebes. — Expiration of the truce for one year. Disposition of both Sparta and Athens at that time towards peace; but peace impossible in consequence of the relations of parties in Thrace. — No actual resumption of hostilities, although the truce had expired, from the month of March to the Pythian festival in August. — Alteration in the language of statesmen at Athens — instances of Kleon and his partisans to obtain a vigorous prosecution of the war in Thrace. — Brasidas — an opponent of peace — his views and motives. — Kleon — an opponent of peace — his views and motives as stated by Thucydidês. Kleon had no personal interest in war. — To prosecute the war vigorously in Thrace was at this time the real political interest of Athens. — Question of peace or war, as it stood between Nikias[p. xv] and Kleon, in March 422 B.C., after the expiration of the truce for one year. — Kleon’s advocacy of war at this moment perfectly defensible — unjust account of his motive given by Thucydidês. — Kleon at this time adhered more closely than any other Athenian public man to the foreign policy of Periklês. — Dispositions of Nikias and the peace-party in reference to the reconquest of Amphipolis. — Kleon conducts an expedition against Amphipolis — he takes Torônê. — He arrives at Eion — sends envoys to invite Macedonian and Thracian auxiliaries. — Dissatisfaction of his own troops with his inaction while waiting for these auxiliaries. — He is forced by these murmurs to make a demonstration — he marches from Eion along the walls of Amphipolis to reconnoitre the top of the hill — apparent quiescence in Amphipolis. — Brasidas, at first on Mount Kerdylium — presently moves into the town across the bridge. — His exhortation to his soldiers. — Kleon tries to effect his retreat. — Brasidas sallies out upon the army in its retreat — the Athenians are completely routed — Brasidas and Kleon both slain. — Profound sorrow in Thrace for the death of Brasidas — funeral honors paid him in Amphipolis. — The Athenian armament, much diminished by its loss in the battle, returns home. — Remarks on the battle of Amphipolis — wherein consisted the faults of Kleon. — Disgraceful conduct of the Athenian hoplites — the defeat of Amphipolis arose partly from political feeling hostile to Kleon. — Important effect of the death of Brasidas, in reference to the prospects of the war — his admirable character and efficiency. — Feelings of Thucydidês towards Brasidas and Kleon. — Character of Kleon — his foreign policy. Internal policy of Kleon as a citizen in constitutional life. — Picture in the Knights of Aristophanês. — Unfairness of judging Kleon upon such evidence. — Picture of Sokratês by Aristophanês is noway resembling. — The vices imputed by Aristophanês to Kleon are not reconcilable one with the other. — Kleon — a man of strong and bitter opposition talents — frequent in accusation — often on behalf of poor men suffering wrong. — Necessity for voluntary accusers at Athens — general danger and obloquy attending the function. — We have no evidence to decide in what proportion of cases he accused wrongfully. — Private dispute between Kleon and Aristophanês. — Negotiations for peace during the winter following the battle of Amphipolis. — Peace called the Peace of Nikias — concluded in March 421 B.C. — Conditions of peace. — The peace is only partially accepted by the allies of Sparta. — The Bœotians, Megarians, and Corinthians, all repudiate it.


[Pg 1]




The judicial alterations effected at Athens by Periklês and Ephialtês, described in the preceding chapter, gave to a large proportion of the citizens direct jury functions and an active interest in the constitution, such as they had never before enjoyed; the change being at once a mark of previous growth of democratical sentiment during the past, and a cause of its farther development during the future. The Athenian people were at this time ready for personal exertion in all directions: military service on land or sea was not less conformable to their dispositions than attendance in the ekklesia or in the dikastery at home. The naval service especially was prosecuted with a degree of assiduity which brought about continual improvement in skill and efficiency, and the poorer citizens, of whom it chiefly consisted, were more exact in obedience and discipline than any of the more opulent persons from whom the infantry or the cavalry were drawn.[1] The maritime multitude, in addition to self-confi[p. 2]dence and courage, acquired by this laborious training an increased skill, which placed the Athenian navy every year more and more above the rest of Greece: and the perfection of this force became the more indispensable as the Athenian empire was now again confined to the sea and seaport towns; the reverses immediately preceding the thirty years truce having broken up all Athenian land ascendency over Megara, Bœotia, and the other continental territories adjoining to Attica.

The maritime confederacy,—originally commenced at Delos, under the headship of Athens, but with a common synod and deliberative voice on the part of each member,—had now become transformed into a confirmed empire on the part of Athens, over the remaining states as foreign dependencies; all of them rendering tribute except Chios, Samos, and Lesbos. These three still remained on their original footing of autonomous allies, retaining their armed force, ships, and fortifications, with the obligation of furnishing military and naval aid when required, but not of paying tribute: the discontinuance of the deliberative synod, however, had deprived them of their original security against the encroachments of Athens. I have already stated generally the steps, we do not know them in detail, whereby this important change was brought about, gradually and without any violent revolution,—for even the transfer of the common treasure from Delos to Athens, which was the most palpable symbol and evidence of the change, was not an act of Athenian violence, since it was adopted on the proposition of the Samians. The change resulted in fact almost inevitably from the circumstances of the case, and from the eager activity of the Athenians contrasted with the backwardness and aversion to personal service on the part of the allies. We must recollect that the confederacy, even in its original structure, was contracted for permanent objects, and was permanently binding by the vote of its majority, like the Spartan confederacy, upon every individual member:[2] it was destined to keep out the Persian fleet, and to maintain the police of the Ægean. Consistently with these objects, no individual member could be allowed to secede from[p. 3] the confederacy, and thus to acquire the benefit of protection at the cost of the remainder: so that when Naxos and other members actually did secede, the step was taken as a revolt, and Athens only did her duty as president of the confederacy in reducing them. By every such reduction, as well as by that exchange of personal service for money-payment, which most of the allies voluntarily sought, the power of Athens increased, until at length she found herself with an irresistible navy in the midst of disarmed tributaries, none of whom could escape from her constraining power,—and mistress of the sea, the use of which was indispensable to them. The synod of Delos, even if it had not before become partially deserted, must have ceased at the time when the treasure was removed to Athens,—probably about 460 B.C., or shortly afterwards.

The relations between Athens and her allies were thus materially changed by proceedings which gradually evolved themselves and followed one upon the other without any preconcerted plan: she became an imperial or despot city, governing an aggregate of dependent subjects, all without their own active concurrence, and in many cases doubtless contrary to their own sense of political right. It was not likely that they should conspire unanimously to break up the confederacy, and discontinue the collection of contribution from each of the members: nor would it have been at all desirable that they should do so: for while Greece generally would have been a great loser by such a proceeding, the allies themselves would have been the greatest losers of all, inasmuch as they would have been exposed without defence to the Persian and Phenician fleets. But the Athenians committed the capital fault of taking the whole alliance into their own hands, and treating the allies purely as subjects, without seeking to attach them by any form of political incorporation or collective meeting and discussion,—without taking any pains to maintain community of feeling with the idea of a joint interest,—without admitting any control, real or even pretended, over themselves as managers. Had they attempted to do this, it might have proved difficult to accomplish,—so powerful was the force of geographical dissemination, the tendency to isolated civic life, and the repugnance to any permanent extramural obligations, in every Grecian community: but they do not ap[p. 4]pear to have ever made the attempt. Finding Athens exalted by circumstances to empire, and the allies degraded into subjects, the Athenian statesmen grasped at the exaltation as a matter of pride as well as profit:[3] nor did even Periklês, the most prudent and far-sighted of them, betray any consciousness that an empire without the cement of some all-pervading interest or attachment, must have a natural tendency to become more and more burdensome and odious, and ultimately to crumble in pieces. Such was the course of events which, if the judicious counsels of Periklês had been followed, might have been postponed but could not have been averted.

Instead of trying to cherish or restore the feelings of equal alliance, Periklês formally disclaimed it. He maintained that Athens owed to her subject allies no account of the money received from them, so long as she performed her contract by keeping away the Persian enemy, and maintaining the safety of the Ægean waters.[4] This was, as he represented, the obligation which Athens had undertaken; and, provided it were faithfully discharged, the allies had no right to ask questions or institute control. That it was faithfully discharged no one could deny: no ship of war except that of Athens and her allies was ever seen between the eastern and western shores of the Ægean. An Athenian fleet of sixty triremes was kept on duty in these waters, chiefly manned by Athenian citizens, and beneficial as well from the protection afforded to commerce as for keeping the seaman in constant pay and training.[5] And such was the effective superintendence maintained, that in the disastrous period preceding the thirty years’ truce, when Athens lost Megara and Bœotia, and with difficulty recovered Eubœa, none of her numerous maritime subjects took the opportunity to revolt.

The total of these distinct tributary cities is said to have amounted to one thousand, according to a verse of Aristophanês,[6] which cannot be under the truth, though it may well be, and probably is, greatly above the truth. The total annual tribute[p. 5] collected at the beginning of the Peloponnesian war, and probably also for the years preceding it, is given by Thucydidês at about six hundred talents; of the sums paid by particular states, however, we have little or no information.[7] It was placed under the superintendence of the Hellenotamiæ; originally officers of the confederacy, but now removed from Delos to Athens, and acting altogether as an Athenian treasury-board. The sum total of the Athenian revenue,[8] from all sources, including this tribute, at the beginning of the Peloponnesian war, is stated by Xenophon at one thousand talents: customs, harbor, and market dues, receipts from the silver-mines at Laurium, rents of public property, fines from judicial sentences, a tax per head upon slaves, the annual payment made by each metic, etc., may have made up a larger sum than four hundred talents; which sum, added to the six hundred talents from tribute, would make the total named by Xenophon. But a verse of Aristophanês,[9] during the ninth year of the Peloponnesian war, B.C. 422, gives the general total of that time as “nearly two thousand talents:” this[p. 6] is in all probability much above the truth, though we may well imagine that the amount of tribute-money levied upon the allies may have been augmented during the interval: I think that the alleged duplication of the tribute by Alkibiadês, which Thucydidês nowhere notices, is not borne out by any good evidence, nor can I believe that it ever reached the sum of twelve hundred talents.[10] Whatever may have been the actual magnitude of the[p. 7] Athenian budget, however, prior to the Peloponnesian war, we know that during the larger part of the administration of Peri[p. 8]klês, the revenue, including tribute, was so managed as to leave a large annual surplus; insomuch that a treasure of coined money was accumulated in the acropolis during the years preceding the Peloponnesian war,—which treasure, when at its maximum, reached the great sum of nine thousand seven hundred talents (equal to two million two hundred and thirty thousand pounds), and was still at six thousand talents, after a serious drain for various purposes, at the moment when that war began.[11] This system of public economy, constantly laying by a considerable sum year after year,—in which Athens stood alone, since none of the Peloponnesian states had any public reserve whatever,[12]—goes far of itself to vindicate Periklês from the charge of having wasted the public money in mischievous distributions for the purpose of obtaining popularity; and also to exonerate the Athenian Demos from that reproach of a greedy appetite for living[p. 9] by the public purse which it is common to ascribe to them. After the death of Kimon, no farther expeditions were undertaken against the Persians, and even for some years before his death, not much appears to have been done: so that the tribute-money remained unexpended, though it was the duty of Athens to hold it in reserve against future attack, which might at any time be renewed.

Though we do not know the exact amount of the other sources of Athenian revenue, however, we know that the tribute received from the allies was by far the largest item in it.[13] And altogether the exercise of empire abroad became a prominent feature in Athenian life, and a necessity to Athenian sentiment, not less than democracy at home. Athens was no longer, as she had been once, a single city, with Attica for her territory: she was a capital or imperial city,—a despot city, was the expression used by her enemies, and even sometimes by her own citizens,[14]—with many dependencies attached to her, and bound to follow her orders. Such was the manner in which not merely Periklês and the other leading statesmen, but even the humblest Athenian citizen, conceived the dignity of Athens; and the sen[p. 10]timent was one which carried with it both personal pride and stimulus to active patriotism. To establish Athenian interests among the dependent territories, was one important object in the eyes of Periklês, and while he discountenanced all distant[15] and rash enterprises, such as invasions of Egypt or Cyprus, he planted out many kleruchies and colonies of Athenian citizens, intermingled with allies, on islands, and parts of the coast. He conducted one thousand citizens to the Thracian Chersonese, five hundred to Naxos, and two hundred and fifty to Andros. In the Chersonese, he farther repelled the barbarous Thracian invaders from without, and even undertook the labor of carrying a wall of defence across the isthmus, which connected the peninsula with Thrace; since the barbarous Thracian tribes, though expelled some time before by Kimon,[16] had still continued to renew their incursions from time to time. Ever since the occupation of the elder Miltiadês, about eighty years before, there had been in this peninsula many Athenian proprietors, apparently intermingled with half-civilized Thracians: the settlers now acquired both greater numerical strength and better protection, though it does not appear that the cross-wall was permanently maintained. The maritime expeditions of Periklês even extended into the Euxine sea, as far as the important Greek city of Sinôpê, then governed by a despot named Timesilaus, against whom a large proportion of the citizens were in active discontent. He left Lamachus with thirteen Athenian triremes to assist in expelling the despot, who was driven into exile along with his friends and party: the properties of these exiles were confiscated, and assigned to the maintenance of six hundred Athenian citizens, admitted to equal fellowship and residence with the Sinôpeans. We may presume that on this occasion Sinôpê became a member of the Athenian tributary alliance, if it had not been so before: but we do not know whether Kotyôra and Trapezus, dependencies of Sinôpê, farther eastward, which the ten thousand Greeks found on their retreat fifty years afterwards, existed in the time of Periklês or not. Moreover, the numerous and well-equipped Athenian fleet, under the command of Periklês, produced an imposing effect upon the barbarous princes and tribes along the[p. 11] coast,[17] contributing certainly to the security of Grecian trade, and probably to the acquisition of new dependent allies.

It was by successive proceedings of this sort that many detachments of Athenian citizens became settled in various portions of the maritime empire of the city,—some rich, investing their property in the islands as more secure—from the incontestable superiority of Athens at sea—even than Attica, which, since the loss of the Megarid, could not be guarded against a Peloponnesian land invasion,[18]—others poor, and hiring themselves out as laborers.[19] The islands of Lemnos, Imbros, and Skyros, as well as the territory of Estiæa, on the north of Eubœa, were completely occupied by Athenian proprietors and citizens,—other places partially so occupied. And it was doubtless advantageous to the islanders to associate themselves with Athenians in trading enterprises, since they thereby obtained a better chance of the protection of the Athenian fleet. It seems that Athens passed regulations occasionally for the commerce of her dependent allies, as we see by the fact, that shortly before the Peloponnesian war, she excluded the Megarians from all their ports. The commercial relations between Peiræus and the Ægean reached their maximum during the interval immediately preceding the Peloponnesian war: nor were these relations confined to the country east and north of Attica: they reached also the western regions. The most important settlements founded by Athens during this period were Amphipolis in Thrace, and Thurii in Italy.

Amphipolis was planted by a colony of Athenians and other Greeks, under the conduct of the Athenian Agnon, in 437 B.C. It was situated near the river Strymon, in Thrace, on the eastern bank, and at the spot where the Strymon resumes its river-course after emerging from the lake above. It was originally a township or settlement of the Edonian Thracians, called Ennea[p. 12] Hodoi, or Nine Ways,—in a situation doubly valuable, both as being close upon the bridge over the Strymon, and as a convenient centre for the ship-timber and gold and silver mines of the neighboring region,—and distant about three English miles from the Athenian settlement of Eion at the mouth of the river. The previous unsuccessful attempts to form establishments at Ennea Hodoi have already been noticed,—first, that of Histiæus the Milesian, followed up by his brother Aristagoras (about 497-496 B.C.), next, that of the Athenians about 465 B.C., under Leagrus and others,—on both these occasions the intruding settlers had been defeated and expelled by the native Thracian tribes, though on the second occasion the number sent by Athens was not less than ten thousand.[20] So serious a loss deterred the Athenians for a long time from any repetition of the attempt: though it is highly probable that individual citizens from Eion and from Thasus connected themselves with powerful Thracian families, and became in this manner actively engaged in mining, to their own great profit,—as well as to the profit of the city collectively, since the property of the kleruchs, or Athenian citizens occupying colonial lands, bore its share in case of direct taxes being imposed on Athenian property generally. Among such fortunate adventurers we may number the historian Thucydidês himself; seemingly descended from Athenian parents intermarrying with Thracians, and himself married to a wife either Thracian or belonging to a family of Athenian colonists in that region, through whom he became possessed of a large property in the mines, as well as of great influence in the districts around.[21] This was one of the various ways in which the collective power of Athens enabled her chief citizens to enrich themselves individually.

[p. 13]

The colony under Agnon, despatched from Athens in the year 437 B.C., appears to have been both numerous and well sustained, inasmuch as it conquered and maintained the valuable position of Ennea Hodoi in spite of those formidable Edonian neighbors who had baffled the two preceding attempts. Its name of Ennea Hodoi was exchanged for that of Amphipolis,—the hill on which the new town was situated being bounded on three sides by the river. The settlers seem to have been of mixed extraction, comprising no large proportion of Athenians: some were of Chalkidic race, others came from Argilus, a Grecian city colonized from Andros, which possessed the territory on the western bank of the Strymon, immediately opposite to Amphipolis,[22] and which was included among the subject allies of Athens. Amphipolis, connected with the sea by the Strymon and the port of Eion, became the most important of all the Athenian dependencies in reference to Thrace and Macedonia.

The colony of Thurii on the coast of the gulf of Tarentum in Italy, near the site and on the territory of the ancient Sybaris, was founded by Athens about seven years earlier than Amphipolis, not long after the conclusion of the thirty years’ truce with Sparta, B.C. 443. Since the destruction of the old Sybaris by the Krotoniates, in 509 B.C., its territory had for the most part remained unappropriated: the descendants of the former inhabitants, dispersed at Laus and in other portions of the territory, were not strong enough to establish any new city; nor did it suit the views of the Krotoniates themselves to do so. After an interval of more than sixty years, however, during which one unsuccessful attempt at occupation had been made by some Thessalian settlers, these Sybarites at length prevailed upon the Athenians to undertake and protect the recolonization; the proposition having been made in vain to the Spartans. Lampon and Xenokritus, the former a prophet and interpreter of oracles, were sent by Periklês with ten ships as chiefs of the new colony of Thurii, founded under the auspices of Athens. The settlers were collected from all parts of Greece, and included Dorians, Ionians, islanders, Bœotians, as well as Athenians. But the descendants of the ancient Sybarites procured themselves to be[p. 14] treated as privileged citizens, and monopolized for themselves the possession of political powers, as well as the most valuable lands in the immediate vicinity of the walls; while their wives also assumed an offensive preëminence over the other women of the city in the public religious processions. Such spirit of privilege and monopoly appears to have been a frequent manifestation among the ancient colonies, and often fatal either to their tranquillity or to their growth; sometimes to both. In the case of Thurii, founded under the auspices of the democratical Athens, it was not likely to have any lasting success: and we find that after no very long period, the majority of the colonists rose in insurrection against the privileged Sybarites, either slew or expelled them, and divided the entire territory of the city, upon equal principles, among the colonists of every different race. This revolution enabled them to make peace with the Krotoniates, who had probably been unfriendly so long as their ancient enemies, the Sybarites, were masters of the city, and likely to turn its powers to the purpose of avenging their conquered ancestors. And the city from this time forward, democratically governed, appears to have flourished steadily and without internal dissension for thirty years, until the ruinous disasters of the Athenians before Syracuse occasioned the overthrow of the Athenian party at Thurii. How miscellaneous the population of Thurii was, we may judge from the denominations of the ten tribes,—such was the number of tribes established, after the model of Athens,—Arkas, Achaïs, Eleia, Bœotia, Amphiktyonis, Doris, Ias, Athenaïs, Euboïs, Nesiôtis. From this mixture of race they could not agree in recognizing or honoring an Athenian œkist, or indeed any œkist except Apollo.[23] The Spartan general, Kleandridas, banished a few years before for having suffered himself to be bribed by Athens along with king Pleistoanax, removed to Thurii, and was appointed general of the citizens in their war against Tarentum. That war was ultimately adjusted by the joint foundation of the new city of Herakleia, half-way between the two,—in the fertile territory called Siritis.[24]

The most interesting circumstance respecting Thurii is, that[p. 15] the rhetor Lysias, and the historian Herodotus, were both domiciliated there as citizens. The city was connected with Athens, yet seemingly only by a feeble tie; nor was it numbered among the tributary subject allies.[25] From the circumstance that so large a proportion of the settlers at Thurii were not native Athenians, we may infer that there were not many of the latter at that time who were willing to put themselves so far out of connection with Athens,—even though tempted by the prospect of lots of land in a fertile and promising territory. And Periklês was probably anxious that those poor citizens for whom emigration was desirable should become kleruchs in some of the islands or ports of the Ægean, where they would serve—like the colonies of Rome—as a sort of garrison for the insurance of the Athenian empire.[26]

The fourteen years between the thirty years’ truce and the breaking out of the Peloponnesian war, are a period of full maritime empire on the part of Athens,—partially indeed resisted, but never with success. They are a period of peace with all cities extraneous to her own empire; and of splendid decorations to the city itself, from the genius of Pheidias and others, in sculpture as well as in architecture. Since the death of Kimon, Periklês had become more and more the first citizen in the commonwealth: his qualities told for more the longer they were known, and even the disastrous reverses which preceded the thirty years’ truce had not overthrown him, since he had protested against that expedition of Tolmidês into Bœotia out of which they first arose. But if the personal influence of Periklês had increased, the party opposed to him seems also to have become stronger and better organized than it had been before; and to have acquired a leader in many respects more effective than Kimon,—Thucydidês, son of Melêsias. The new chief was a near relative of Kimon, but of a character and talents more analogous to that of Periklês: a statesman and orator[p. 16] rather than a general, though competent to both functions if occasion demanded, as every leading man in those days was required to be. Under Thucydidês, the political and parliamentary opposition against Periklês assumed a constant character and an organization such as Kimon, with his exclusively military aptitudes, had never been able to establish. The aristocratical party in the commonwealth,—the “honorable and respectable” citizens, as we find them styled, adopting their own nomenclature,—now imposed upon themselves the obligation of undeviating regularity in their attendance on the public assembly, sitting together in a particular section, so as to be conspicuously parted from the Demos. In this manner, their applause and dissent, their mutual encouragement to each other, their distribution of parts to different speakers, was made more conducive to the party purposes than it had been before, when these distinguished persons had been intermingled with the mass of citizens.[27] Thucydidês himself was eminent as a speaker, inferior only to Periklês,—perhaps hardly inferior even to him. We are told that in reply to a question put to him by Archidamus, whether Periklês or he were the better wrestler, Thucydidês replied: “Even when I throw him, he denies that he has fallen, gains his point, and talks over those who have actually seen him fall.”[28]

Such an opposition made to Periklês, in all the full license which a democratical constitution permitted, must have been both efficient and embarrassing; but the pointed severance of the aristocratical chiefs, which Thucydidês, son of Melêsias, introduced, contributed probably at once to rally the democratical majority round Periklês, and to exasperate the bitterness of party-conflict.[29] As far as we can make out the grounds of the[p. 17] opposition, it turned partly upon the pacific policy of Periklês towards the Persians, partly upon his expenditure for home ornament. Thucydidês contended that Athens was disgraced in the eyes of the Greeks, by having drawn the confederate treasure from Delos to her own acropolis, under pretence of greater security, and then employing it, not in prosecuting war against the Persians,[30] but in beautifying Athens by new temples and costly statues. To this Periklês replied, that Athens had undertaken the obligation, in consideration of the tribute-money, to protect her allies and keep off from them every foreign enemy,—that she had accomplished this object completely at the present, and retained a reserve sufficient to guarantee the like security for the future;—that, under such circumstances, she owed no account to her allies of the expenditure of the surplus, but was at liberty to expend it for purposes useful and honorable to the city. In this point of view it was an object of great public importance to render Athens imposing in the eyes both of the allies and of Hellas generally, by improved fortifications,—by accumulated ornaments, sculptural and architectural,—and by religious festivals,—frequent, splendid, musical, and poetical.

Such was the answer made by Periklês in defence of his policy against the opposition headed by Thucydidês. And as far as we can make out the ground taken by both parties, the answer was perfectly satisfactory. For when we look at the very large sum which Periklês continually kept in reserve in the treasury, no one could reasonably complain that his expenditure for ornamental purposes was carried so far as to encroach upon the exigences of defence. What Thucydidês and his partisans appear to have urged, was, that this common fund should still[p. 18] continue to be spent in aggressive warfare against the Persian king, in Egypt and elsewhere,—conformably to the projects pursued by Kimon during his life.[31] But Periklês was right in contending that such outlay would have been simply wasteful; of no use either to Athens or her allies, though risking all the chances of distant defeat, such as had been experienced a few years before in Egypt. The Persian force was already kept away, both from the waters of the Ægean and the coast of Asia, either by the stipulations of the treaty of Kallias, or—if that treaty be supposed apocryphal—by a conduct practically the same as those stipulations would have enforced. The allies, indeed, might have had some ground of complaint against Periklês, either for not reducing the amount of tribute required from them, seeing that it was more than sufficient for the legitimate purposes of the confederacy, or for not having collected their positive sentiment as to the disposal of it. But we do not find that this was the argument adopted by Thucydidês and his party, nor was it calculated to find favor either with aristocrats or democrats, in the Athenian assembly.

Admitting the injustice of Athens—an injustice common to both the parties in that city, not less to Kimon than to Periklês—in acting as despot instead of chief, and in discontinuing all appeal to the active and hearty concurrence of her numerous allies, we shall find that the schemes of Periklês were at the same time eminently Pan-Hellenic. In strengthening and ornamenting Athens, in developing the full activity of her citizens, in providing temples, religious offerings, works of art, solemn festivals, all of surpassing attraction,—he intended to exalt her into something greater than an imperial city with numerous dependent allies. He wished to make her the centre of Grecian feeling, the stimulus of Grecian intellect, and the type of strong democratical patriotism combined with full liberty of individual taste and aspiration. He wished not merely to retain the adherence of the subject states, but to attract the admiration and spontaneous deference of independent neighbors, so as to procure for Athens a moral ascendency much beyond the range of her direct power. And he succeeded in elevating the city to[p. 19] a visible grandeur,[32] which made her appear even much stronger than she really was,—and which had the farther effect of softening to the minds of the subjects the humiliating sense of obedience; while it served as a normal school, open to strangers from all quarters, of energetic action even under full license of criticism,—of elegant pursuits economically followed,—and of a love for knowledge without enervation of character. Such were the views of Periklês in regard to his country, during the years which preceded the Peloponnesian war, as we find them recorded in his celebrated Funeral Oration, pronounced in the first year of that war,—an exposition forever memorable of the sentiment and purpose of Athenian democracy, as conceived by its ablest president.

So bitter, however, was the opposition made by Thucydidês and his party to this projected expenditure,—so violent and pointed did the scission of aristocrats and democrats become,—that the dispute came after no long time to that ultimate appeal which the Athenian constitution provided for the case of two opposite and nearly equal party-leaders,—a vote of ostracism. Of the particular details which preceded this ostracism, we are not informed; but we see clearly that the general position was such as the ostracism was intended to meet. Probably the vote was proposed by the party of Thucydidês, in order to procure the banishment of Periklês, the more powerful person of the two, and the most likely to excite popular jealousy. The challenge was accepted by Periklês and his friends, and the result of the voting was such that an adequate legal majority condemned Thucydidês to ostracism.[33] And it seems that the majority must have been very decisive, for the party of Thucydidês was completely broken by it: and we hear of no other single individual equally formidable as a leader of opposition, throughout all the remaining life of Periklês.

[p. 20]

The ostracism of Thucydidês apparently took place about two years[34] after the conclusion of the thirty years’ truce,—443-442 B.C.,—and it is to the period immediately following that the great Periklêan works belong. The southern wall of the acropolis had been built out of the spoils brought by Kimon from his Persian expeditions; but the third of the long walls connecting Athens with the harbor was the proposition of Periklês, at what precise time we do not know. The long walls originally completed—not long after the battle of Tanagra, as has already been stated—were two, one from Athens to Peiræus, another from Athens to Phalêrum: the space between them was broad, and if in the hands of an enemy, the communication with Peiræus would be interrupted. Accordingly, Periklês now induced the people to construct a third or intermediate wall, running parallel with the first wall to Peiræus, and within a short distance[35]—seemingly near one furlong—from it: so that the communication between the city and the port was placed beyond all possible interruption, even assuming an enemy to have got within the Phaleric wall. It was seemingly about this time, too, that the splendid docks and arsenal in Peiræus, alleged by Isokratês to have cost one thousand talents, were constructed:[36] while the town itself of Peiræus was laid out anew with straight streets intersecting at right angles. Apparently, this was something new in Greece,—the towns generally, and Athens itself in particular, having been built without any symmetry, or width, or continuity of streets:[37] and Hippodamus the Milesian, a man of considerable attainments in the physical philosophy of the age, derived much renown as the earliest town architect, for[p. 21] having laid out the Peiræus on a regular plan. The market-place, or one of them at least, permanently bore his name,—the Hippodamian agora.[38] At a time when so many great architects were displaying their genius in the construction of temples, we are not surprised to hear that the structure of towns began to be regularized also: moreover, we are told that the new colonial town of Thurii, to which Hippodamus went as a settler, was also constructed in the same systematic form as to straight and wide streets.[39]

The new scheme upon which the Peiræus was laid out, was not without its value as one visible proof of the naval grandeur of Athens. But the buildings in Athens and on the acropolis formed the real glory of the Periklêan age. A new theatre, termed the Odeon, was constructed for musical and poetical representations at the great Panathenaic solemnity; next, the splendid temple of Athênê, called the Parthenon, with all its masterpieces of decorative sculpture and reliefs; lastly, the costly portals erected to adorn the entrance of the acropolis, on the western side of the hill, through which the solemn processions on festival days were conducted. It appears that the Odeon and the Parthenon were both finished between 445 and 437 B.C.: the Propylæa somewhat later, between 437 and 431 B.C., in which latter year the Peloponnesian war began.[40] Progress was also made in restoring or reconstructing the Erechtheion, or ancient temple of Athênê Polias, the patron goddess of the city,—which had been burnt in the invasion of Xerxes; but the breaking out of the Peloponnesian war seems to have prevented the completion of this, as well as of the great temple of Dêmêter, at Eleusis, for the celebration of the Eleusinian mysteries,—that of Athênê, at Sunium,—and that of Nemesis, at Rhamnus. Nor was the sculpture less memorable than the architecture: three statues of Athênê, all by the hand of Pheidias, decorated the acropolis,—one colossal, forty-seven feet high, of ivory, in the Parthenon,[41]—a second of bronze, called the Lemnian Athênê,[p. 22]—a third of colossal magnitude, also in bronze, called Athênê Promachos, placed between the Propylæa and the Parthenon, and visible from afar off, even to the navigator approaching Peiræus by sea.

It is not, of course, to Periklês that the renown of these splendid productions of art belongs: but the great sculptors and architects by whom they were conceived and executed, belonged to that same period of expanding and stimulating Athenian democracy which called forth a similar creative genius in oratory, in dramatic poetry, and in philosophical speculation. One man especially, of immortal name,—Pheidias,—born a little before the battle of Marathon, was the original mind in whom the sublime ideal conceptions of genuine art appear to have disengaged themselves from that hardness of execution and adherence to a consecrated type, which marked the efforts of his predecessors.[42] He was the great director and superintendent of all those decorative additions whereby Periklês imparted to Athens a majesty such as had never before belonged to any Grecian city: the architects of the Parthenon and the other buildings—Iktînus, Kallikratês, Korœbus, Mnesiklês, and others—worked under his superintendence: and he had, besides, a school of pupils and subordinates to whom the mechanical part of his labors was confided. With all the great additions which Pheidias made to the grandeur of Athens, his last and greatest achievement was out of Athens,—the colossal statue of Zeus, in the great temple of Olympia, executed in the years immediately preceding the Peloponnesian war. The effect produced by this stupendous work, sixty feet high, in ivory and gold, embodying in visible majesty some of the grandest conceptions of Grecian poetry and religion, upon the minds of all beholders for many centuries successively,—was such as never has been, and probably never will be, equalled in the annals of art, sacred or profane.

Considering these prodigious achievements in the field of art only as they bear upon Athenian and Grecian history, they are[p. 23] phenomena of extraordinary importance. When we read the profound impression which they produced upon Grecian spectators of a later age, we may judge how immense was the effect upon that generation which saw them both begun and finished. In the year 480 B.C., Athens had been ruined by the occupation of Xerxes: since that period, the Greeks had seen, first, the rebuilding and fortifying of the city on an enlarged scale,—next, the addition of Peiræus with its docks and magazines,—thirdly, the junction of the two by the long walls, thus including the most numerous concentrated population, wealth, arms, ships, etc., in Greece,[43]—lastly, the rapid creation of so many new miracles of art,—the sculptures of Pheidias as well as the paintings of the Thasian painter, Polygnôtus, in the temple of Theseus, and in the portico called Pœkilê. Plutarch observes[44] that the celerity with which the works were completed was the most remarkable circumstance connected with them; and so it probably might be, in respect to the effect upon the contemporary Greeks. The gigantic strides by which Athens had reached her maritime empire were now immediately succeeded by a series of works which stamped her as the imperial city of Greece, gave to her an appearance of power even greater than the reality, and especially put to shame the old-fashioned simplicity of Sparta.[45] The cost was doubtless prodigious, and could only have been borne at a time when there was a large treasure in the acropolis, as well as a considerable tribute annually coming in: if we may trust a computation which seems to rest on plausible grounds, it cannot have been much less than three thousand talents in the aggregate,—about six hundred and ninety thousand pounds.[p. 24][46] The expenditure of so large a sum was, of course, the source of great private gain to the contractors, tradesmen, merchants, artisans of various descriptions, etc., concerned in it: in one way or another, it distributed itself over a large portion of the whole city. And it appears that the materials employed for much of the work were designedly of the most costly description, as being most consistent with the reverence due to the gods: marble was rejected as too common for the statue of Athênê, and ivory employed in its place;[47] while the gold with which it was surrounded weighed not less than forty talents.[48] A large expenditure for such purposes, considered as pious towards the gods, was at the same time imposing in reference to Grecian feeling, which regarded with admiration every variety of public show and magnificence, and repaid by grateful deference the rich men who indulged in it. Periklês knew well that the visible splendor of the city, so new to all his contemporaries, would cause her great real power to appear even greater than its reality, and would thus procure for her a real, though unacknowledged influence—perhaps even an ascendency—over all cities of the Grecian name. And it is certain that even among those who most hated and feared her, at the outbreak of the Peloponnesian war, there prevailed a powerful sentiment of involuntary deference.

A step taken by Periklês, apparently not long after the commencement of the thirty years’ truce, evinces how much this ascendency was in his direct aim, and how much he connected it with views both of harmony and usefulness for Greece generally. He prevailed upon the people to send envoys to every city of the Greek name, great and small, inviting each to appoint deputies for a congress to be held at Athens. Three points were to be discussed in this intended congress. 1. The restitution of those temples which had been burnt by the Persian invaders. 2. The fulfilment of such vows, as on that occasion had been made to the gods. 3. The safety of the sea and of maritime commerce for all. Twenty elderly Athenians were sent round[p. 25] to obtain the convocation of this congress at Athens,—a Pan-Hellenic congress for Pan-Hellenic purposes. But those who were sent to Bœotia and Peloponnesus completely failed in their object, from the jealousy, noway astonishing, of Sparta and her allies: of the rest we hear nothing, for this refusal was quite sufficient to frustrate the whole scheme.[49] It is to be remarked that the dependent allies of Athens appear to have been summoned just as much as the cities perfectly autonomous; so that their tributary relation to Athens was not understood to degrade them. We may sincerely regret that such congress did not take effect, as it might have opened some new possibilities of converging tendency and alliance for the dispersed fractions of the Greek name,—a comprehensive benefit, to which Sparta was at once incompetent and indifferent, but which might, perhaps, have been realized under Athens, and seems in this case to have been sincerely aimed at by Periklês. The events of the Peloponnesian war, however, extinguished all hopes of any such union.

The interval of fourteen years, between the beginning of the thirty years’ truce and that of the Peloponnesian war, was by no means one of undisturbed peace to Athens. In the sixth year of that period occurred the formidable revolt of Samos.

That island appears to have been the most powerful of all the allies of Athens,[50]—more powerful even than Chios or Lesbos, and standing on the same footing as the two latter; that is, paying no tribute-money,—a privilege when compared with the body of the allies,—but furnishing ships and men when called upon, and retaining, subject to this condition, its complete autonomy, its oligarchical government, its fortifications, and its military force. Like most of the other islands near the coast, Samos[p. 26] possessed a portion of territory on the mainland, between which and the territory of Milêtus, lay the small town of Priênê, one of the twelve original members contributing to the Pan-Ionic solemnity. Respecting the possession of this town of Priênê, a war broke out between the Samians and Milesians, in the sixth year of the thirty years’ truce (B.C. 440-439): whether the town had before been independent, we do not know, but in this war the Milesians were worsted, and it fell into the hands of the Samians. The defeated Milesians, enrolled as they were among the tributary allies of Athens, complained to her of the conduct of the Samians, and their complaint was seconded by a party in Samos itself opposed to the oligarchy and its proceedings. The Athenians required the two disputing cities to bring the matter before discussion and award at Athens, with which the Samians refused to comply:[51] whereupon an armament of forty ships was despatched from Athens to the island, and established in it a democratical government; leaving in it a garrison, and carrying away to Lemnos fifty men and as many boys from the principal oligarchical families, to serve as hostages. Of these families, however, a certain number retired to the mainland, where they entered into negotiations with Pissuthnês, the satrap of Sardis, to procure aid and restoration. Obtaining from him seven hundred mercenary troops, and passing over in the night to the island, by previous concert with the oligarchical party, they overcame the Samian democracy as well as the Athenian garrison, who were sent over as prisoners to Pissuthnês. They were farther lucky enough to succeed in stealing away from Lemnos their own recently deposited hostages, and they then proclaimed open revolt against Athens, in which Byzantium also joined. It seems re[p. 27]markable, that though, by such a proceeding, they would of course draw upon themselves the full strength of Athens, yet their first step was to resume aggressive hostilities against Milêtus,[52] whither they sailed with a powerful naval force of seventy ships, twenty of them carrying troops aboard.

Immediately on the receipt of this grave intelligence, a fleet of sixty triremes—probably all that were in complete readiness—was despatched to Samos under ten generals, two of whom were Periklês himself and the poet Sophoklês,[53] both seemingly included among the ten ordinary stratêgi of the year. But it was necessary to employ sixteen of these ships, partly in summoning contingents from Chios and Lesbos, to which islands Sophoklês went in person;[54] partly in keeping watch off the coast of Karia for the arrival of the Phenician fleet, which report stated to be approaching; so that Periklês had only forty-four ships remaining in his squadron. Yet he did not hesitate to attack the Samian fleet of seventy ships on its way back from Milêtus, near the island of Tragia, and was victorious in the action. Presently, he was reinforced by forty ships from Athens, and by twenty-five from Chios and Lesbos, so as to be able to disembark at Samos, where he overcame the Samian land-force, and blocked up the harbor with a portion of his fleet, surrounding the city on the land-side with a triple wall. Meanwhile, the Samians had sent Stesagoras with five ships to press the coming of the Phenician fleet, and the report of their approach became again so prevalent that Periklês felt obliged to take sixty ships, out of the total one hundred and twenty-five, to watch for them off the coast of Kaunus and Karia, where he remained for about fourteen days. The Phenician fleet[55] never came, though Diodorus affirms that it was actually on its voyage.[p. 28] Pissuthnês certainly seems to have promised, and the Samians to have expected it: but I incline to believe that, though willing to hold out hopes and encourage revolt among the Athenian allies, the satrap, nevertheless, did not choose openly to violate the convention of Kallias, whereby the Persians were forbidden to send a fleet westward of the Chelidonian promontory. The departure of Periklês, however, so much weakened the Athenian fleet off Samos, that the Samians, suddenly sailing out of their harbor in an opportune moment, at the instigation and under the command of one of their most eminent citizens, the philosopher Melissus,—surprised and ruined the blockading squadron, and gained a victory over the remaining fleet, before the ships could be fairly got out to sea.[56] For fourteen days they remained masters of the sea, carrying in and out all that they thought proper: nor was it until the return of Periklês that they were again blocked up. Reinforcements, however, were now multiplied to the blockading squadron,—from Athens, forty ships, under Thucydidês,[57] Agnon, and Phormion, and twenty under Tlepole[p. 29]mus and Antiklês, besides thirty from Chios and Lesbos,—making altogether near two hundred sail. Against this overwhelming force, Melissus and the Samians made an unavailing attempt at resistance, but were presently quite blocked up, and remained so for nearly nine months, until they could hold out no longer. They then capitulated, being compelled to raze their fortifications, to surrender all their ships of war, to give hostages for future good conduct, and to make good by stated instalments the whole expense of the enterprise, said to have reached one thousand talents. The Byzantines, too, made their submission at the same time.[58]

Two or three circumstances deserve notice respecting this revolt, as illustrating the existing condition of the Athenian empire. First, that the whole force of Athens, together with the contingents from Chios and Lesbos, was necessary in order to crush it, so that even Byzantium, which joined in the revolt, seems to have been left unassailed. Now, it is remarkable that none of the dependent allies near Byzantium, or anywhere else, availed themselves of so favorable an opportunity to revolt also: a fact which seems plainly to imply that there was little positive discontent then prevalent among them. Had the revolt spread to other cities, probably Pissuthnês might have realized his promise of bringing in the Phenician fleet, which would have been a serious calamity for the Ægean Greeks, and was only kept off by the unbroken maintenance of the Athenian empire.

Next, the revolted Samians applied for aid, not only to Pissuthnês, but also to Sparta and her allies; among whom, at a[p. 30] special meeting, the question of compliance or refusal was formally debated. Notwithstanding the thirty years’ truce then subsisting, of which only six years had elapsed, and which had been noway violated by Athens,—many of the allies of Sparta voted for assisting the Samians: what part Sparta herself took, we do not know,—but the Corinthians were the main and decided advocates for the negative. They not only contended that the truce distinctly forbade compliance with the Samian request, but also recognized the right of each confederacy to punish its own recusant members, and this was the decision ultimately adopted, for which the Corinthians afterwards took credit, in the eyes of Athens, as the chief authors.[59] Certainly, if the contrary policy had been pursued, the Athenian empire might have been in great danger, the Phenician fleet would probably have been brought in also, and the future course of events might have been greatly altered.

Again, after the reconquest of Samos, we should assume it almost as a matter of certainty, that the Athenians would renew the democratical government which they had set up just before the revolt. Yet, if they did so, it must have been again overthrown, without any attempt to uphold it on the part of Athens. For we hardly hear of Samos again, until twenty-seven years afterwards, towards the latter division of the Peloponnesian war, in 412 B.C., and it then appears with an established oligarchical government of geomori, or landed proprietors, against which the people make a successful rising during the course of that year.[60] As Samos remained, during the interval between 439 B.C. and 412 B.C., unfortified, deprived of its fleet, and enrolled among the tribute-paying allies of Athens,—and as it, nevertheless, either retained or acquired its oligarchical government; so we may conclude that Athens cannot have systematically interfered to democratize by violence the subject-allies, in cases where the natural tendency of parties ran towards oligarchy. The condition of Lesbos at the time of its revolt, hereafter to be related, will be found to confirm this conclusion.[61]

[p. 31]

On returning to Athens after the reconquest of Samos, Periklês was chosen to pronounce the funeral oration over the citizens slain in the war, to whom, according to custom, solemn and public obsequies were celebrated in the suburb called Kerameikus. This custom appears to have been introduced shortly after the Persian war,[62] and would doubtless contribute to stimulate the patriotism of the citizens, especially when the speaker elected to deliver it was of the personal dignity as well as the oratorical powers of Periklês. He was twice public funeral orator by the choice of the citizens: once after the Samian success, and a second time in the first year of the Peloponnesian war. His discourse on the first occasion has not reached us,[63] but the second has been fortunately preserved, in substance at least, by Thucydidês, who also briefly describes the funeral ceremony,—doubtless the same on all occasions. The bones of the deceased warriors were exposed in tents three days before the ceremony, in order that the relatives of each might have the opportunity of bringing offerings: they were then placed in coffins of cypress, and carried forth on carts to the public burial-place at the Kerameikus; one coffin for each of the ten tribes, and one empty couch, formally laid out, to represent those warriors whose bones had not been discovered or collected. The female relatives of each followed the carts, with loud wailings, and after them a numerous procession both of citizens and strangers. So soon as the bones had been consigned to the grave, some distinguished citizen,[p. 32] specially chosen for the purpose, mounted an elevated stage, and addressed to the multitude an appropriate discourse. Such was the effect produced by that of Periklês after the Samian expedition, that, when he had concluded, the audience present testified their emotion in the liveliest manner, and the women especially crowned him with garlands, like a victorious athlete.[64] Only Elpinikê, sister of the deceased Kimon, reminded him that the victories of her brother had been more felicitous, as gained over Persians and Phenicians, and not over Greeks and kinsmen. And the contemporary poet Ion, the friend of Kimon, reported what he thought an unseemly boast of Periklês,—to the effect that Agamemnon had spent ten years in taking a foreign city, while he in nine months had reduced the first and most powerful of all the Ionic communities.[65] But if we possessed the actual speech pronounced, we should probably find that he assigned all the honor of the exploit to Athens and her citizens generally, placing their achievement in favorable comparison with that of Agamemnon and his host,—not himself with Agamemnon.

Whatever may be thought of this boast, there can be no doubt that the result of the Samian war not only rescued the Athenian empire from great peril,[66] but rendered it stronger than ever: while the foundation of Amphipolis, which was effected two years afterwards, strengthened it still farther. Nor do we hear, during the ensuing few years, of any farther tendencies to disaffection among its members, until the period immediately before the Peloponnesian war. The feeling common among them towards Athens, seems to have been neither attachment nor hatred, but simple indifference and acquiescence in her supremacy. Such amount of positive discontent as really existed among them, arose, not from actual hardships suffered, but from the general political instinct of the Greek mind,—desire of separate auto[p. 33]nomy for each city; which manifested itself in each, through the oligarchical party, whose power was kept down by Athens, and was stimulated by the sentiment communicated from the Grecian communities without the Athenian empire. According to that sentiment, the condition of a subject-ally of Athens was treated as one of degradation and servitude: and in proportion as fear and hatred of Athens became more and more predominant among the allies of Sparta, they gave utterance to the sentiment more and more emphatically, so as to encourage discontent artificially among the subject-allies of the Athenian empire. Possessing complete mastery of the sea, and every sort of superiority requisite for holding empire over islands, Athens had yet no sentiment to appeal to in her subjects, calculated to render her empire popular, except that of common democracy, which seems at first to have acted without any care on her part to encourage it, until the progress of the Peloponnesian war made such encouragement a part of her policy. And had she even tried sincerely to keep up in the allies the feeling of a common interest, and the attachment to a permanent confederacy, the instinct of political separation would probably have baffled all her efforts. But she took no such pains,—with the usual morality that grows up in the minds of the actual possessors of power, she conceived herself entitled to exact obedience as her right; and some of the Athenian speakers in Thucydidês go so far as to disdain all pretence of legitimate power, even such as might fairly be set up, resting the supremacy of Athens on the naked plea of superior force.[67] As the allied cities were mostly under democracies,—through the indirect influence rather than the systematic dictation of Athens,—yet each having its own internal aristocracy in a state of opposition; so the movements for revolt against Athens originated with the aristocracy or with some few citizens apart: while the people, though sharing more or less in the desire for autonomy, had yet either a fear of their own aristocracy or a sympathy with[p. 34] Athens, which made them always backward in revolting, sometimes decidedly opposed to it. Neither Periklês nor Kleon, indeed, lay stress on the attachment of the people as distinguished from that of the Few, in these dependent cities; but the argument is strongly insisted on by Diodorus,[68] in the discussion respecting Mitylênê after its surrender: and as the war advanced, the question of alliance with Athens or Sparta became more and more identified with the internal preponderance of democracy or oligarchy in each.[69] We shall find that in most of those cases of actual revolt where we are informed of the preceding circumstances, the step is adopted or contrived by a small number of oligarchical malcontents, without consulting the general voice; while in those cases where the general assembly is consulted beforehand, there is manifested indeed a preference for autonomy, but nothing like a hatred of Athens or decided inclination to break with her. In the case of Mitylênê,[70] in the fourth year of the war, it was the aristocratical government which revolted, while the people, as soon as they obtained arms, actually declared in favor of Athens: and the secession of Chios, the greatest of all the allies, in the twentieth year of the Peloponnesian war, even after all the hardships which the allies had been called upon to bear in that war, and after the ruinous disasters which Athens had sustained before Syracuse,—was both prepared beforehand and accomplished by secret negotiations of the Chian oligarchy, not only without the concurrence, but against the inclination, of their own people.[71] In like manner, the revolt of Thasos would not have occurred, had not the Thasian democracy been previ[p. 35]ously subverted by the Athenian Peisander and his oligarchical confederates. So in Akanthus, in Amphipolis, in Mendê, and those other Athenian dependencies which were wrested from Athens by Brasidas, we find the latter secretly introduced by a few conspirators, while the bulk of the citizens do not hail him at once as a deliverer, like men sick of Athenian supremacy: they acquiesce, not without debate, when Brasidas is already in the town, and his demeanor, just as well as conciliating, soon gains their esteem: but neither in Akanthus nor in Amphipolis would he have been admitted by the free decision of the citizens, if they had not been alarmed for the safety of their friends, their properties, and their harvest, still exposed in the lands without the walls.[72] These particular examples warrant us in affirming, that though the oligarchy in the various allied cities desired eagerly to shake off the supremacy of Athens, the people were always backward in following them, sometimes even opposed, and hardly ever willing to make sacrifices for the object. They shared the universal Grecian desire for separate autonomy,[73] felt the Athenian empire as an extraneous pressure which they would have been glad to shake off, whenever the change could be made with safety: but their condition was not one of positive hardship, nor did they overlook the hazardous side of such a change,—partly from the coercive hand of Athens, partly from new enemies against whom Athens had hitherto protected them, and not least, from their own oligarchy. Of course, the different allied cities were not all animated by the same feelings, some being more averse to Athens than others.

The particular modes in which Athenian supremacy was felt as a grievance by the allies appear to have been chiefly three. 1. The annual tribute. 2. The encroachments, exactions, or perhaps plunder, committed by individual Athenians, who would often take advantage of their superior position, either as serving in the naval armaments, as invested with the function of inspectors as placed in garrison, or as carrying on some private speculation. 3. The obligation under which the allies were placed, of[p. 36] bringing a large proportion of their judicial trials to be settled before the dikasteries at Athens.

As to the tribute, I have before remarked that its amount had been but little raised from its first settlement down to the beginning of the Peloponnesian war, at which time it was six hundred talents yearly:[74] it appears to have been reviewed, and the apportionment corrected, in every fifth year, at which period the collecting officers may probably have been changed; but we shall afterwards find it becoming larger and more burdensome. The same gradual increase may probably be affirmed respecting the second head of inconvenience,—vexation caused to the allies by individual Athenians, chiefly officers of armaments, or powerful citizens.[75] Doubtless this was always more or less a real grievance, from the moment when the Athenians became despots in place of chiefs, but it was probably not very serious in extent until after the commencement of the Peloponnesian war, when revolt on the part of the allies became more apprehended, and when garrisons, inspectors, and tribute-gathering ships became more essential in the working of the Athenian empire.

But the third circumstance above noticed—the subjection of the allied cities to the Athenian dikasteries—has been more dwelt upon as a grievance than the second, and seems to have been unduly exaggerated. We can hardly doubt that the beginning of this jurisdiction exercised by the Athenian dikasteries dates with the synod of Delos, at the time of the first formation of the confederacy. It was an indispensable element of that confederacy, that the members should forego their right of private war among each other, and submit their differences to peaceable arbitration,—a covenant introduced even into alliances much less intimate than this was, and absolutely essential to the efficient maintenance of any common action against[p. 37] Persia.[76] Of course, many causes of dispute, public as well as private, must have arisen among these wide-spread islands and seaports of the Ægean, connected with each other by relations of fellow-feeling, of trade, and of common apprehensions. The synod of Delos, composed of the deputies of all, was the natural board of arbitration for such disputes, and a habit must thus have been formed, of recognizing a sort of federal tribunal,—to decide peaceably how far each ally had faithfully discharged its duties, both towards the confederacy collectively, and towards other allies with their individual citizens separately,—as well as to enforce its decisions and punish refractory members, pursuant to the right which Sparta and her confederacy claimed and exercised also.[77] Now from the beginning, the Athenians were the guiding and enforcing presidents of this synod, and when it gradually died away, they were found occupying its place as well as clothed with its functions. It was in this manner that their judicial authority over the allies appears first to have begun, as the confederacy became changed into an Athenian empire,—the judicial functions of the synod being transferred[p. 38] along with the common treasure to Athens, and doubtless much extended. And on the whole, these functions must have been productive of more good than evil to the allies themselves, especially to the weakest and most defenceless among them.

Among the thousand towns which paid tribute to Athens,—taking this numerical statement of Aristophanês, not in its exact meaning, but simply as a great number,—if a small town, or one of its citizens, had cause of complaint against a larger, there was no channel except the synod of Delos, or the Athenian tribunal, through which it could have any reasonable assurance of fair trial or justice. It is not to be supposed that all the private complaints and suits between citizen and citizen, in each respective subject town, were carried up for trial to Athens: yet we do not know distinctly how the line was drawn between matters carried up thither and matters tried at home. The subject cities appear to have been interdicted from the power of capital punishment, which could only be inflicted after previous trial and condemnation at Athens:[78] so that the latter reserved to herself the cognizance of most of the grave crimes,—or what may be called “the higher justice” generally. And the political accusations preferred by citizen against citizen, in any subject city, for alleged treason, corruption, non-fulfilment of public duty, etc., were doubtless carried to Athens for trial,—perhaps the most important part of her jurisdiction.

But the maintenance of this judicial supremacy was not intended by Athens for the substantive object of amending the administration of justice in each separate allied city: it went rather to regulate the relations between city and city,—between citizens of different cities,—between Athenian citizens or officers, and any of these allied cities with which they had relations,—between each city itself, as a dependent government with contending political parties, and the imperial head, Athens. All these were problems which imperial Athens was called on to solve, and the best way of solving them would have been through some common synod emanating from all the allies: putting this aside, we shall find that the solution provided by Athens was[p. 39] perhaps the next best, and we shall be the more induced to think so, when we compare it with the proceedings afterwards adopted by Sparta, when she had put down the Athenian empire. Under Sparta, the general rule was, to place each of the dependent cities under the government of a dekadarchy or oligarchical council of ten among its chief citizens, together with a Spartan harmost, or governor, having a small garrison under his orders. It will be found, when we come to describe the Spartan maritime empire, that these arrangements exposed each dependent city to very great violence and extortion, while, after all, they solved only a part of the problem: they served only to maintain each separate city under the dominion of Sparta, without contributing to regulate the dealings between the citizens of one and those of another, or to bind together the empire as a whole. Now the Athenians did not, as a system, place in their dependent cities, governors analogous to the harmosts, though they did so occasionally under special need; but their fleets and their officers were in frequent relation with these cities; and as the principal officers were noways indisposed to abuse their position, so the facility of complaint, constantly open to the Athenian popular dikastery, served both as redress and guarantee against misrule of this description. It was a guarantee which the allies themselves sensibly felt and valued, as we know from Thucydidês: the chief source from whence they had to apprehend evil was the Athenian officials and principal citizens, who could misemploy the power of Athens for their own private purposes,—but they looked up to the “Athenian Demos as a chastener of such evil-doers and as a harbor of refuge to themselves.”[79] If[p. 40] the popular dikasteries at Athens had not been thus open, the allied cities would have suffered much more severely from the captains and officials of Athens in their individual capacity. And the maintenance of political harmony, between the imperial city and the subject ally, was insured by Athens through the jurisdiction of her dikasteries with much less cost of injustice and violence than by Sparta; for though oligarchical partisans might sometimes be unjustly condemned at Athens, yet such accidental wrong was immensely overpassed by the enormities of the Spartan harmosts and dekadarchies, who put numbers to death without any trial at all.

So again, it is to be recollected that Athenian private citizens, not officially employed, were spread over the whole range of the empire as kleruchs, proprietors, or traders; of course, therefore, disputes would arise between them and the natives of the subject cities, as well as among these latter themselves, in cases where both parties did not belong to the same city. Now in such cases the Spartan imperial authority was so exercised as to afford little or no remedy, since the action of the harmost or the dekadarchy was confined to one separate city; while the Athenian dikasteries, with universal competence and public trial, afforded the only redress which the contingency admitted. If a Thasian citizen believed himself aggrieved by the historian Thucydidês, either as commander of the Athenian fleet off the station, or as proprietor of gold mines in Thrace, he had his remedy against the latter[p. 41] by accusation before the Athenian dikasteries, to which the most powerful Athenian was amenable not less than the meanest Thasian. To a citizen of any allied city, it might be an occasional hardship to be sued before the courts at Athens, but it was also often a valuable privilege to him to be able to sue before those courts others whom else he could not have reached. He had his share both of the benefit and of the hardship. Athens, if she robbed her subject-allies of their independence, at least gave them in exchange the advantage of a central and common judiciary authority; thus enabling each of them to enforce claims of justice against the rest, in a way which would not have been practicable, to the weaker at least, even in a state of general independence.

Now Sparta seems not even to have attempted anything of the kind with regard to her subject-allies, being content to keep them under the rule of a harmost, and a partisan oligarchy; and we read anecdotes which show that no justice could be obtained at Sparta, even for the grossest outrages committed by the harmost, or by private Spartans out of Laconia. The two daughters of a Bœotian named Skedasus, of Leuktra in Bœotia, had been first violated and then slain by two Spartan citizens: the son of a citizen of Oreus, in Eubœa, had been also outraged and killed by the harmost Aristodêmus:[80] in both cases the fathers went to Sparta to lay the enormity before the ephors and other authorities, and in both cases a deaf ear was turned to their complaints. But such crimes, if committed by Athenian citizens or officers, might have been brought to a formal exposure before the public sitting of the dikastery, and there can be no doubt that both would have been severely punished: we shall see hereafter that an enormity of this description, committed by the Athenian general Pachês, at Mitylênê, cost him his life before the Athenian dikasts.[81] Xenophon, in the dark and one-sided representation which he gives of the Athenian democracy, remarks, that if the subject-allies had not been made amenable to justice, at Athens, they would have cared little for the people of Athens, and would[p. 42] have paid court only to those individual Athenians—generals, trierarchs, or envoys—who visited the islands on service; but under the existing system, the subjects were compelled to visit Athens either as plaintiffs or defendants, and were thus under the necessity of paying court to the bulk of the people also,—that is, to those humbler citizens out of whom the dikasteries were formed; they supplicated the dikasts in court for favor or lenient dealing.[82] However true this may be, we must remark that it was a lighter lot to be brought for trial before the dikastery, than to be condemned without redress by the general on service, or to be forced to buy off his condemnation by a bribe; and, moreover, that the dikastery was open not merely to receive accusations against citizens of the allied cities, but also to entertain the complaints which they preferred against others.

Assuming the dikasteries at Athens to be ever so defective as tribunals for administering justice, we must recollect that they were the same tribunals under which every Athenian citizen held his own fortune or reputation, and that the native of any subject city was admitted to the same chance of justice as the native of Athens. Accordingly, we find the Athenian envoy at Sparta, immediately before the Peloponnesian war, taking peculiar credit to the imperial city on this ground for equal dealing with her subject-allies. “If our power (he says) were to pass into other hands, the comparison would presently show how moderate we are in the use of it: but as regards us, our very moderation is unfairly turned to our disparagement rather than to our praise. For even though we put ourselves at disadvantage in matters litigated with our allies, and though we have appointed such matters to be judged among ourselves and under laws equal[p. 43] to both parties, we are represented as animated by nothing better than a love of litigation.”[83] “Our allies (he adds) would com[p. 44]plain less if we made open use of our superior force with regard to them; but we discard such maxims, and deal with them upon[p. 45] an equal footing: and they are so accustomed to this, that they think themselves entitled to complain at every trifling disappointment of their expectations.[84] They suffered worse hardships under the Persians before our empire began, and they would suffer worse under you (the Spartans), if you were to succeed in conquering us and making our empire yours.” History bears out the boast of the Athenian orator, both as to the time preceding and following the empire of Athens.[85] And an Athenian citizen, indeed, might well regard it, not as a hardship, but as a privilege, that subject-allies should be allowed to sue him before the dikastery, and to defend themselves before the same tribunal, either in case of wrong done to him, or in case of alleged treason to the imperial authority of Athens: they were thereby put upon a level with himself. Still more would he find reason to eulogize the universal competence of these dikasteries in providing a common legal authority for all disputes of the numerous distinct communities of the empire, one with another, and for the safe navigation and general commerce of the Ægean. That complaints were raised against it among the subject-allies, is noway surprising: for the empire of Athens generally was inconsistent with that separate autonomy to which every town thought itself entitled,—and this was one of its prominent and constantly operative institutions, as well as a striking mark of dependence to the subordinate communities. Yet we may safely affirm, that if empire was to be maintained at all, no way of maintaining it could be found at once less oppressive and more beneficial than the superintending competence of the dikasteries,—a system not taking its rise in the mere “love of litigation,” if, indeed, we are to reckon this a real feature in the Athenian character, which I shall take another opportunity of examining, much less in those[p. 46] petty collateral interests indicated by Xenophon,[86] such as the increased customs duty, rent of houses, and hire of slaves at Peiræus, and the larger profits of the heralds, arising from the influx of suitors. It was nothing but the power, originally inherent in the confederacy of Delos, of arbitration between members and enforcement of duties towards the whole,—a power inherited by Athens from that synod, and enlarged to meet the political wants of her empire; to which end it was essential, even in the view of Xenophon himself.[87] It may be that the dikastery was not always impartial between Athenian citizens privately, or the Athenian commonwealth collectively, and the subject-allies,—and in so far the latter had good reason to complain; but on the other hand, we have no ground for suspecting it of deliberate or standing unfairness, or of any other defects than such as were inseparable from its constitution and procedure, whoever might be the parties under trial.

We are now considering the Athenian empire as it stood before the Peloponnesian war; before the increased exactions and the multiplied revolts, to which that war gave rise,—before the cruelties which accompanied the suppression of those revolts, and which so deeply stained the character of Athens,—before that aggravated fierceness, mistrust, contempt of obligation, and rapacious violence, which Thucydidês so emphatically indicates as having been infused into the Greek bosom by the fever of an all-pervading contest.[88] There had been before this time many revolts of the Athenian dependencies, from the earliest at Naxos down to the latest at Samos: all had been successfully suppressed, but in no case had Athens displayed the same unre[p. 47]lenting rigor as we shall find hereafter manifested towards Mitylênê, Skiônê, and Mêlos. The policy of Periklês, now in the plenitude of his power at Athens, was cautious and conservative, averse to forced extension of empire as well as to those increased burdens on the dependent allies which such schemes would have entailed, and tending to maintain that assured commerce in the Ægean by which all of them must have been gainers,—not without a conviction that the contest must arise sooner or later between Athens and Sparta, and that the resources as well as the temper of the allies must be husbanded against that contingency. If we read in Thucydidês the speech of the envoy from Mitylênê[89] at Olympia, delivered to the Lacedæmonians and their allies in the fourth year of the Peloponnesian war, on occasion of the revolt of the city from Athens,—a speech imploring aid and setting forth the strongest case against Athens which the facts could be made to furnish,—we shall be surprised how weak the case is, and how much the speaker is conscious of its weakness. He has nothing like practical grievances and oppressions to urge against the imperial city,—he does not dwell upon enormity of tribute, unpunished misconduct of Athenian officers, hardship of bringing causes for trial to Athens, or other sufferings of the subjects generally,—he has nothing to say except that they were defenceless and degraded subjects, and that Athens held authority over them without and against their own consent: and in the case of Mitylênê, not so much as this could be said, since she was on the footing of an equal, armed, and autonomous ally. Of course, this state of forced dependence was one which the allies, or such of them as could stand alone, would naturally and reasonably shake off whenever they had an opportunity:[90] but the negative evidence, derived from the speech of the Mitylenæan orator, goes far to make out the point contended for by the Athenian speaker at Sparta immediately before the war,—that, beyond the fact of such forced dependence, the allies had little practically to complain of. A city like Mitylênê, moreover,[p. 48] would be strong enough to protect itself and its own commerce without the help of Athens: but to the weaker allies, the breaking up of the Athenian empire would have greatly lessened the security both of individuals and of commerce, in the waters of the Ægean, and their freedom would thus have been purchased at the cost of considerable positive disadvantages.[91]

[p. 49]

Nearly the whole of the Grecian world, putting aside Italian, Sicilian, and African Greeks, was at this time included either in the alliance of Lacedæmon or in that of Athens, so that the truce of thirty years insured a suspension of hostilities everywhere. Moreover, the Lacedæmonian confederates had determined by majority of votes to refuse the request of Samos for[p. 50] aid in her revolt against Athens: whereby it seemed established, as practical international law, that neither of these two great aggregate bodies should intermeddle with the other, and that each should restrain or punish its own disobedient members.[92] Of this refusal, which materially affected the course of events, the main advisers had been the Corinthians, in spite of that fear and dislike of Athens which prompted many of the allies to vote for war.[93] The position of the Corinthians was peculiar; for while Sparta and her other allies were chiefly land-powers, Corinth had been from early times maritime, commercial, and colonizing,—she had been indeed once the first naval power in Greece, along with Ægina; but either she had not increased it at all during the last forty years, or, if she had, her comparative naval importance had been entirely sunk by the gigantic expansion of Athens. The Corinthians had both commerce and colonies,—Leukas, Anaktorium, Ambrakia, Korkyra, etc., along or near the coast of Epirus: they had also their colony Potidæa, situated on the isthmus of Pallênê, in Thrace, and intimately connected with them: and the interest of their commerce made them extremely averse to any collision with the superior navy of the Athenians. It was this consideration which had induced them to resist the impulse of the Lacedæmonian allies towards war on behalf of Samos: for though their feelings, both of jealousy and hatred against Athens were even now strong,[94] arising greatly out of the struggle a few years before for the acquisition of Megara to the Athenian alliance,—prudence indicated that, in a war against the first naval power in Greece, they were sure to be the greatest losers. So long as the policy of Corinth pointed towards peace, there was every probability that war would be avoided, or at least accepted only in a case of grave necessity, by the Lacedæmonian alliance. But a contingency, distant as well as unexpected, which occurred about five years[p. 51] after the revolt of Samos, reversed all these chances, and not only extinguished the dispositions of Corinth towards peace, but even transformed her into the forward instigator of war.

Amidst the various colonies planted from Corinth along the coast of Epirus, the greater number acknowledged on her part an hegemony, or supremacy.[95] What extent of real power and interference this acknowledgment implied, in addition to the honorary dignity, we are not in a condition to say; but the Corinthians were popular, and had not carried their interference beyond the point which the colonists themselves found acceptable. To these amicable relations, however, the powerful Korkyra formed a glaring exception, having been generally at variance, sometimes in the most aggravated hostility, with its mother-city, and withholding from her even the accustomed tributes of honorary and filial respect. It was amidst such relations of habitual ill-will between Corinth and Korkyra, that a dispute grew up respecting the city of Epidamnus, known afterwards, in the Roman times, as Dyrrachium, hard by the modern Durazzo,—a colony founded by the Korkyræans on the coast of Illyria, in the Ionic gulf, considerably to the north of their own island. So strong was the sanctity of Grecian custom in respect to the foundation of colonies, that the Korkyræans, in spite of their enmity to Corinth, had been obliged to select the œkist, or founder-in-chief of Epidamnus, from that city,—a citizen of Herakleid descent, named Phalius,—along with whom there had also come some Corinthian settlers: so that Epidamnus, though a Korkyræan colony, was nevertheless a recognized granddaughter, if the expression may be allowed, of Corinth, the recollection of which was perpetuated by the solemnities periodically celebrated in honor of the œkist.[96]

Founded on the isthmus of an outlaying peninsula on the sea-coast of the Illyrian Taulantii, Epidamnus was at first very prosperous, and acquired a considerable territory as well as a numerous population. But during the years immediately preceding the period which we have now reached, it had been exposed to great reverses: internal sedition between the oligarchy[p. 52] and the people, aggravated by attacks from the neighboring Illyrians, had crippled its power: and a recent revolution, in which the people put down the oligarchy, had reduced it still farther,—since the oligarchical exiles, collecting a force and allying themselves with the Illyrians, harassed the city grievously both by sea and land. The Epidamnian democracy was in such straits as to be forced to send to Korkyra for aid: their envoys sat down as suppliants at the temple of Hêrê, cast themselves on the mercy of the Korkyræans, and besought them to act both as mediators with the exiled oligarchy and as auxiliaries against the Illyrians. Though the Korkyræans themselves, democratically governed, might have been expected to sympathize with these suppliants and their prayers, yet their feeling was decidedly opposite: for it was the Epidamnian oligarchy who were principally connected with Korkyra, from whence their forefathers had emigrated, and where their family burial-places as well as their kinsmen were still to be found:[97] while the demos, or small proprietors and tradesmen of Epidamnus, may perhaps have been of miscellaneous origin, and at any rate had no visible memorials of ancient lineage in the mother-island. Having been refused aid from Korkyra, and finding their distressed condition insupportable, the Epidamnians next thought of applying to Corinth: but as this was a step of questionable propriety, their envoys were directed first to take the opinion of the Delphian god. His oracle having given an unqualified sanction, they proceeded to Corinth with their mission; describing their distress as well as their unavailing application at Korkyra,—tendering Epidamnus to the Corinthians as to its œkists and chiefs, with the most urgent entreaties for immediate aid to preserve it from ruin,—and not omitting to insist on the divine sanction just obtained. It was found easy to persuade the Corinthians, who, looking upon Epidamnus as a joint colony from Corinth and Korkyra, thought themselves not only authorized, but bound, to undertake its defence, a resolution much prompted by their ancient feud against Korkyra. They speedily organized an expedition, consisting partly of intended new settlers, partly[p. 53] of a protecting military force,—Corinthian, Leukadian, and Ambrakiôtic: which combined body, in order to avoid opposition from the powerful Korkyræan navy, was marched by land as far as Apollônia, and transported from thence by sea to Epidamnus.[98]

The arrival of such a reinforcement rescued the city for the moment, but drew upon it a formidable increase of peril from the Korkyræans, who looked upon the interference of Corinth as an infringement of their rights, and resented it in the strongest manner. Their feelings were farther inflamed by the Epidamnian oligarchical exiles, who, coming to the island with petition for succor, and appeals to the tombs of their Korkyræan ancestors, found a ready sympathy. They were placed on board a fleet of twenty-five triremes, afterwards strengthened by a farther reinforcement, which was sent to Epidamnus with the insulting requisition that they should be forthwith restored, and the new-comers from Corinth dismissed. No attention being paid to these demands, the Korkyræans commenced the blockade of the city with forty ships, and with an auxiliary land-force of Illyrians,—making proclamation that any person within, citizen or not, might depart safely if he chose, but would be dealt with as an enemy if he remained. How many persons profited by this permission we do not know: but at least enough to convey to Corinth the news that their troops in Epidamnus were closely besieged. The Corinthians immediately hastened the equipment of a second expedition,—sufficient not only for the rescue of the place, but to surmount that resistance which the Korkyræans were sure to offer. In addition to thirty triremes, and three thousand hoplites, of their own, they solicited aid both in ships and money from many of their allies: eight ships fully manned were furnished by Megara, four by Palês, in the island of Kephallênia, five by Epidaurus, two by Trœzen, one by Hermionê, ten by Leukas, and eight by Ambrakia,—together with pecuniary contributions from Thebes, Phlius, and Elis. They farther proclaimed a public invitation for new settlers to Epidamnus, promising equal political rights to all; an option being allowed to anyone who wished to become a settler without being ready[p. 54] to depart at once, to insure future admission by depositing the sum of fifty Corinthian drachmas. Though it might seem that the prospects of these new settlers were full of doubt and danger, such was the confidence entertained in the metropolitan protection of Corinth, that many were found as well to join the fleet, as to pay down the deposit for the liberty of future junction.

All these proceedings on the part of Corinth, though undertaken with intentional hostility towards Korkyra, had not been preceded by any formal proposition, such as was customary among Grecian states,—a harshness of dealing arising not merely from her hatred towards Korkyra, but also from the peculiar political position of that island, which stood alone and isolated, not enrolled either in the Athenian or in the Lacedæmonian alliance. The Korkyræans, well aware of the serious preparation now going on at Corinth, and of the union among so many cities against them, felt themselves hardly a match for it alone, in spite of their wealth and their formidable naval force of one hundred and twenty triremes, inferior only to that of Athens. They made an effort to avert the storm by peaceable means, prevailing upon some mediators from Sparta and Sikyon to accompany them to Corinth; where, while they required that the forces and settlers recently despatched to Epidamnus should be withdrawn, denying all right on the part of Corinth to interfere in that colony,—they at the same time offered, if the point were disputed, to refer it for arbitration either to some impartial Peloponnesian city, or to the Delphian oracle; such arbiter to determine to which of the two cities Epidamnus as a colony really belonged, and the decision to be obeyed by both. They solemnly deprecated recourse to arms, which, if persisted in, would drive them as a matter of necessity to seek new allies such as they would not willingly apply to. To this the Corinthians answered, that they could entertain no proposition until the Korkyræan besieging force was withdrawn from Epidamnus: whereupon the Korkyræans rejoined that they would withdraw it at once, provided the new settlers and the troops sent by Corinth were removed at the same time. Either there ought to be this reciprocal retirement, or the Korkyræans would acquiesce in[p. 55] this statu quo on both sides, until the arbiters should have decided.[99]

Although the Korkyræans had been unwarrantably harsh in rejecting the first supplication from Epidamnus, yet in their propositions made at Corinth, right and equity were on their side. But the Corinthians had gone too far, and assumed an attitude too decidedly aggressive, to admit of listening to arbitration, and accordingly, so soon as their armament was equipped, they set sail for Epidamnus, despatching a herald to declare war formally against the Korkyræans. As soon as the armament, consisting of seventy triremes, under Aristeus, Kallikratês, and Timanor, with two thousand five hundred hoplites, under Archetimus and Isarchidas, had reached Cape Aktium, at the mouth of the Ambrakian gulf, it was met by a Korkyræan herald in a little boat forbidding all farther advance,—a summons of course unavailing, and quickly followed by the appearance of the Korkyræan fleet. Out of the one hundred and twenty triremes which constituted the naval establishment of the island, forty were engaged in the siege of Epidamnus, but all the remaining eighty were now brought into service; the older ships being specially repaired for the occasion. In the action which ensued, they gained a complete victory, destroying fifteen Corinthian ships, and taking a considerable number of prisoners. And on the very day of the victory, Epidamnus surrendered to their besieging fleet, under covenant that the Corinthians within it should be held as prisoners, and that the other new-comers should be sold as slaves. The Corinthians and their allies did not long keep the sea after their defeat, but retired home, while the Korkyræans remained undisputed masters of the neighboring sea. Having erected a trophy on Leukimmê, the adjoining promontory of their island, they proceeded, according to the melancholy practice of Grecian warfare, to kill all their prisoners,—except the Corinthians, who were carried home and detained as prizes of great value for purposes of negotiation. They next began to take vengeance on those allies of Corinth, who had lent assistance to the recent expedition: they ravaged the territory of Leukas, burned Kyllênê, the seaport of Elis,[p. 56] and inflicted so much damage that the Corinthians were compelled towards the end of the summer to send a second armament to Cape Aktium, for the defence of Leukas, Anaktorium, and Ambrakia. The Korkyræan fleet was again assembled near Cape Leukimmê, but no farther action took place, and at the approach of winter both armaments were disbanded.[100]

Deeply were the Corinthians humiliated by their defeat at sea, together with the dispersion of the settlers whom they had brought together; and though their original project was frustrated by the loss of Epidamnus, they were only the more bent on complete revenge against their old enemy Korkyra. They employed themselves, for two entire years after the battle, in building new ships and providing an armament adequate to their purposes: and in particular, they sent round not only to the Peloponnesian seaports, but also to the islands under the empire of Athens, in order to take into their pay the best class of seamen. By such prolonged efforts, ninety well-manned Corinthian ships were ready to set sail in the third year after the battle: and the entire fleet, when reinforced by the allies, amounted to not less than one hundred and fifty sail: twenty-seven triremes from Ambrakia, twelve from Megara, ten from Elis, as many from Leukas, and one from Anaktorium. Each of these allied squadrons had officers of its own, while the Corinthian Xenokleidês and four others were commanders-in-chief.[101]

But the elaborate preparations going on at Corinth were no secret to the Korkyræans, who well knew, besides, the numerous allies which that city could command, and her extensive influence throughout Greece. So formidable an attack was more than they could venture to brave, alone and unaided. They had never yet enrolled themselves among the allies either of Athens or of Lacedæmon: it had always been their pride and policy to maintain a separate line of action, which, by means of their wealth, their power, and their very peculiar position, they had hitherto been enabled to do with safety. That they had been able so to proceed with safety, however, was considered both by friends and enemies as a peculiarity belonging to their island; from whence we may draw an inference how little the islands in the[p. 57] Ægean, now under the Athenian empire, would have been able to maintain any real independence, if that empire had been broken up. But though Korkyra had been secure in this policy of isolation up to the present moment, such had been the increase and consolidation of forces elsewhere throughout Greece, that even she could pursue it no longer. To apply for admission into the Lacedæmonian confederacy, wherein her immediate enemy exercised paramount influence, being out of the question, she had no choice except to seek alliance with Athens. That city had as yet no dependencies in the Ionic gulf; she was not of kindred lineage, nor had she had any previous amicable relations with the Dorian Korkyra. But if there was thus no previous fact or feeling to lay the foundation of alliance, neither was there anything to forbid it: for in the truce between Athens and Sparta, it had been expressly stipulated, that any city, not actually enrolled in the alliance of either, might join the one or the other at pleasure.[102] While the proposition of alliance was thus formally open either for acceptance or refusal, the time and circumstances under which it was to be made rendered it full of grave contingencies to all parties; and the Korkyræan envoys, who now for the first time visited Athens, for the purpose of making it, came thither with doubtful hopes of success, though to their island the question was one of life or death.

According to the modern theories of government, to declare war, to make peace, and to contract alliances, are functions proper to be intrusted to the executive government apart from the representative assembly. According to ancient ideas, these were precisely the topics most essential to submit for the decision of the full assembly of the people: and in point of fact they were so submitted, even under governments only partially democratical; much more, of course, under the complete democracy of Athens. The Korkyræan envoys, on reaching that city, would first open their business to the stratêgi, or generals of the state, who would appoint a day for them to be heard before the public assembly, with full notice beforehand to the citizens. The mission was no secret, for the Korkyræans had themselves intimated their intention at Corinth, at the time when they proposed reference[p. 58] of the quarrel to arbitration: and even without such notice, the political necessity of the step was obvious enough to make the Corinthians anticipate it. Lastly, their proxeni at Athens, Athenian citizens who watched over Corinthian interests, public and private, in confidential correspondence with that government,—and who, sometimes by appointment, sometimes as volunteers, discharged partly the functions of ambassadors in modern times, would communicate to them the arrival of the Korkyræan envoys. So that, on the day appointed for the latter to be heard before the public assembly, Corinthian envoys were also present to answer them and to oppose the granting of their prayer.

Thucydidês has given in his history the speeches of both; that is, speeches of his own composition, but representing in all probability the substance of what was actually said, and of what he perhaps himself heard. Though pervaded throughout by the peculiar style and harsh structure of the historian, these speeches are yet among the plainest and most business-like in his whole work, bringing before us thoroughly the existing situation; which was one of doubt and difficulty, presenting reasons of considerable force on each of the opposite sides. The Korkyræans, after lamenting their previous improvidence, which had induced them to defer seeking alliance until the hour of need arrived, presented themselves as claimants for the friendship of Athens, on the strongest grounds of common interest and reciprocal usefulness. Though their existing danger and want of Athenian support was now urgent, it had not been brought upon them in an unjust quarrel, or by disgraceful conduct: they had proposed to Corinth a fair arbitration respecting Epidamnus, and their application had been refused,—which showed where the right of the case lay; moreover, they were now exposed single-handed, not to Corinth alone, whom they had already vanquished, but to a formidable confederacy, organized under her auspices, including choice mariners hired even from the allies of Athens. In granting their prayer, Athens would, in the first place, neutralize this misemployment of her own mariners, and would, at the same time, confer an indelible obligation, protect the cause of right, and secure to herself a most important reinforcement. For, next to her own, the Korkyræan naval force was the most powerful in[p. 59] Greece, and this was now placed within her reach: if, by declining the present offer, she permitted Korkyra to be overcome, that naval force would pass to the side of her enemies: for such were Corinth and the Peloponnesian alliance,—and such they would soon be openly declared. In the existing state of Greece, a collision between that alliance and Athens could not long be postponed: and it was with a view to this contingency that the Corinthians were now seeking to seize Korkyra along with her naval force.[103] The policy of Athens, therefore, imperiously called upon her to frustrate such a design, by now assisting the Korkyræans. She was permitted to do this by the terms of the thirty years’ truce: and although some might contend that, in the present critical conjuncture, acceptance of Korkyra was tantamount to a declaration of war with Corinth, yet the fact would falsify such predictions; for Athens would so strengthen herself that her enemies would be more than ever unwilling to attack her. She would not only render her naval force irresistibly powerful, but would become mistress of the communication between Sicily and Peloponnesus, and thus prevent the Sicilian Dorians from sending reinforcements to the Peloponnesians.[104]

To these representations on the part of the Korkyræans, the Corinthian speakers made reply. They denounced the selfish and iniquitous policy pursued by Korkyra, not less in the matter of Epidamnus, than in all former time,[105]—which was the real reason why she had ever been ashamed of honest allies. Above all things, she had always acted undutifully and wickedly towards Corinth, her mother-city, to whom she was bound by those ties of colonial allegiance which Grecian morality recognized, and[p. 60] which the other Corinthian colonies cheerfully obeyed.[106] Epidamnus was not a Korkyræan, but a Corinthian colony, and the Korkyræans, having committed wrong in besieging it, had proposed arbitration without being willing to withdraw their troops while arbitration was pending: they now impudently came to ask Athens to become accessory after the fact in such injustice. The provision of the thirty years’ truce might seem indeed to allow Athens to receive them as allies: but that provision was not intended to permit the reception of cities already under the tie of colonial allegiance elsewhere,—still less the reception of cities engaged in an active and pending quarrel, where any countenance to one party in the quarrel was necessarily a declaration of war against the opposite. If either party had a right to invoke the aid of Athens on this occasion, Corinth had a better right than Korkyra: for the latter had never had any transactions with the Athenians, while Corinth was not only still under covenant of amity with them, through the thirty years’ truce,—but had also rendered material service to them by dissuading the Peloponnesian allies from assisting the revolted Samos. By such dissuasion, the Corinthians had upheld the principle of Grecian international law, that each alliance was entitled to punish its own refractory members: they now called upon Athens to respect this principle, by not interfering between Corinth and her colonial allies,[107] especially as the violation of it would recoil inconveniently upon Athens herself, with her numerous dependencies. As for the fear of an impending war[p. 61] between the Peloponnesian alliance and Athens, such a contingency was as yet uncertain,—and might possibly never occur at all, if Athens dealt justly, and consented to conciliate Corinth on this critical occasion: but it would assuredly occur if she refused such conciliation, and the dangers thus entailed upon Athens would be far greater than the promised naval coöperation of Korkyra would compensate.[108]

Such was the substance of the arguments urged by the contending envoys before the Athenian public assembly, in this momentous debate. For two days did the debate continue, the assembly being adjourned over to the morrow: so considerable was the number of speakers, and probably also the divergence of their views. Unluckily, Thucydidês does not give us any of these Athenian discourses,—not even that of Periklês, who determined the ultimate result. Epidamnus, with its disputed question of metropolitan right, occupied little of the attention of the Athenian assembly: but the Korkyræan naval force was indeed an immense item, since the question was, whether it should stand on their side or against them,—an item which nothing could counterbalance except the dangers of a Peloponnesian war. “Let us avoid this last calamity (was the opinion of many) even at the sacrifice of seeing Korkyra conquered, and all her ships and seamen in the service of the Peloponnesian league.” “You will not really avoid it, even by that great sacrifice (was the reply of others): the generating causes of war are at work,—and it will infallibly come, whatever you may determine respecting Korkyra: avail yourselves of the present opening, instead of being driven ultimately to undertake the war at great comparative disadvantage.” Of these two views, the former was at first decidedly preponderant in the assembly;[109] but they gradually came round to the latter, which was conformable to the steady conviction of Periklês. It was, however, resolved to take[p. 62] a sort of middle course, so as to save Korkyra, and yet, if possible, to escape violation of the existing truce and the consequent Peloponnesian war. To comply with the request of the Korkyræans, by adopting them unreservedly as allies, would have laid the Athenians under the necessity of accompanying them in an attack of Corinth, if required,—which would have been a manifest infringement of the truce. Accordingly, nothing more was concluded than an alliance for purposes strictly defensive, to preserve Korkyra and her possessions in case they were attacked: nor was any greater force equipped to back this resolve than a squadron of ten triremes, under Lacedæmonius, son of Kimon. The smallness of this force would satisfy the Corinthians that no aggression was contemplated against their city, while it would save Korkyra from ruin, and would in fact feed the war so as to weaken and cripple the naval force of both parties,[110]—which was the best result that Athens could hope for. The instructions to Lacedæmonius and his two colleagues were express; not to engage in fight with the Corinthians unless they were actually approaching Korkyra, or some Korkyræan possession, with a view to attack: but in that case to do his best on the defensive.

The great Corinthian armament of one hundred and fifty sail soon took its departure from the gulf, and reached a harbor on the coast of Epirus, at the cape called Cheimerium, nearly opposite to the southern extremity of Korkyra: they there established a naval station and camp, summoning to their aid a considerable force from the friendly Epirotic tribes in the neighborhood. The Korkyræan fleet of one hundred and ten sail, under Meikiadês and two others, together with the ten Athenian ships, took station at one of the adjoining islands called Sybota, while the land force and one thousand Zakynthian hoplites were posted on the Korkyræan Cape Leukimmê. Both sides prepared for battle: the Corinthians, taking on board three days’ provisions, sailed by night from Cheimerium, and encountered in[p. 63] the morning the Korkyræan fleet advancing towards them, distributed into three squadrons, one under each of the three generals, and having the ten Athenian ships at the extreme right. Opposed to them were ranged the choice vessels of the Corinthians, occupying the left of their aggregate fleet: next came the various allies, with Megarians and Ambrakiots on the extreme right. Never before had two such numerous fleets, both Grecian, engaged in battle; but the tactics and manœuvring were not commensurate to the numbers. The decks were crowded with hoplites and bowmen, while the rowers below, on the Korkyræan side at least, were in great part slaves: the ships, on both sides, being rowed forward so as to drive in direct impact, prow against prow, were grappled together, and a fierce hand-combat was then commenced between the troops on board of each, as if they were on land,—or rather, like boarding-parties: all upon the old-fashioned system of Grecian sea-fight, without any of those improvements which had been introduced into the Athenian navy during the last generation. In Athenian naval attack, the ship, the rowers, and the steersman, were of much greater importance than the armed troops on deck: by strength and exactness of rowing, by rapid and sudden change of direction, by feints calculated to deceive, the Athenian captain sought to drive the sharp beak of his vessel, not against the prow, but against the weaker and more vulnerable parts of his enemy,—side, oars, or stern. The ship thus became in the hands of her crew the real weapon of attack, which was first to disable the enemy and leave him unmanageable on the water; and not until this was done did the armed troops on deck begin their operations.[111] Lacedæmonius, with his ten armed ships, though forbidden by his instructions to share in the battle, lent as much aid as he could by taking station at the extremity of the line, and by making motions as if about[p. 64] to attack; while his seamen had full leisure to contemplate what they would despise as the lubberly handling of the ships on both sides. All was confusion after the battle had been joined; the ships on both sides became entangled, the oars broken and unmanageable, orders could neither be heard nor obeyed, and the individual valor of the hoplites and bowmen on deck was the decisive point on which victory turned.

On the right wing of the Corinthians, the left of the Korkyræans was victorious; their twenty ships drove back the Ambrakiot allies of Corinth, and not only pursued them to the shore, but also landed and plundered the tents. Their rashness in thus keeping so long out of the battle proved incalculably mischievous, the rather as their total number was inferior: for their right wing, opposed to the best ships of Corinth, was after a hard struggle thoroughly beaten. Many of the ships were disabled, and the rest obliged to retreat as they could,—a retreat which the victorious ships on the other wing might have protected, had there been any effective discipline in the fleet, but which now was only imperfectly aided by the ten Athenian ships under Lacedæmonius. These Athenians, though at first they obeyed the instructions from home, in abstaining from actual blows, yet,—when the battle became doubtful, and still more, when the Corinthians were pressing their victory,—could no longer keep aloof, but attacked the pursuers in good earnest, and did much to save the defeated Korkyræans. As soon as the latter had been pursued as far as their own island, the victorious Corinthians returned to the scene of action, which was covered with disabled and water-logged ships, their own and their enemies, as well as with seamen, soldiers, and wounded men, either helpless aboard the wrecks, or keeping above water as well as they could,—among them many of their own citizens and allies, especially on their defeated right wing. Through these disabled vessels they sailed, not attempting to tow them off, but looking only to the crews aboard, and making some of them prisoners, but putting the greater number to death: some even of their own allies were thus slain, not being easily distinguishable. They then picked up their own dead bodies as well as they could, and transported them to Sybota, the nearest point of the coast of Epirus; after which they again mustered their fleet, and returned to resume[p. 65] the attack against the Korkyræans on their own coast. The latter got together as many of their ships as were seaworthy, together with the small reserve which had remained in harbor, in order to prevent at any rate a landing on the coast: and the Athenian ships, now within the strict letter of their instructions, prepared to coöperate with full energy in the defence. It was already late in the afternoon: but the Corinthian fleet, though their pæan had already been shouted for attack, were suddenly seen to back water instead of advancing; presently they headed round, and sailed directly away to the Epirotic coast. Nor did the Korkyræans comprehend the cause of this sudden retreat, until at length it was proclaimed that an unexpected relief of twenty fresh Athenian ships was approaching, under Glaukon and Andokidês, which the Corinthians had been the first to descry, and had even believed to be the forerunners of a larger fleet. It was already dark when these fresh ships reached Cape Leukimmê, having traversed the waters covered with wrecks and dead bodies;[112] and at first the Korkyræans even mistook them for enemies. The reinforcement had been sent from Athens, probably after more accurate information of the comparative force of Corinth and Korkyra, under the impression that the original ten ships would prove inadequate for the purpose of defence,—an impression more than verified by the reality.

Though the twenty Athenian ships were not, as the Corinthians had imagined, the precursors of a larger fleet, they were found sufficient to change completely the face of affairs. In the preceding action, the Korkyræans had had seventy ships sunk or disabled,—the Corinthians only thirty,—so that the superiority of numbers was still on the side of the latter, who were, however, encumbered with the care of one thousand prisoners, eight hundred of them slaves, captured, not easy either to lodge or to guard in the narrow accommodations of an ancient trireme. Even apart from this embarrassment, the Corinthians were in no temper to hazard a second battle against thirty Athenian ships, in addition to the remaining Korkyræan: and when their enemies[p. 66] sailed across to offer them battle on the Epirotic coast, they not only refused it, but thought of nothing but immediate retreat,—with serious alarm lest the Athenians should now act aggressively, treating all amicable relations between Athens and Corinth as practically extinguished by the events of the day before. Having ranged their fleet in line, not far from shore, they tested the dispositions of the Athenian commanders by sending forward a little boat with a few men to address to them the following remonstrance,—the men carried no herald’s staff (we should say, no flag of truce), and were therefore completely without protection against an enemy. “Ye act wrongfully, Athenians (they exclaimed), in beginning the war and violating the truce; for ye are using arms to oppose us in punishing our enemies. If it be really your intention to hinder us from sailing against Korkyra, or anywhere else that we choose, in breach of the truce, take first of all us who now address you, and deal with us as enemies.” It was not the fault of the Korkyræans that this last idea was not instantly realized: for such of them as were near enough to hear, instigated the Athenians by violent shouts to kill the men in the boat. But the latter, far from listening to such an appeal, dismissed them with the answer: “We neither begin the war nor break the truce, Peloponnesians; we have come simply to aid these Korkyræans, our allies. If ye wish to sail anywhere else, we make no opposition: but if ye are about to sail against Korkyra, or any of her possessions, we shall use our best means to prevent you.” Both the answer, and the treatment of the men in the boat, satisfied the Corinthians that their retreat would be unopposed, and they accordingly commenced it as soon as they could get ready, staying, however, to erect a trophy at Sybota, on the Epirotic coast, in commemoration of their advantage on the preceding day. In their voyage homeward, they surprised Anaktorium, at the mouth of the Ambrakiôtic gulf, which they had hitherto possessed jointly with the Korkyræans; planting in it a reinforcement of Corinthian settlers as guarantee for future fidelity. On reaching Corinth, the armament was disbanded, and the great majority of the prisoners taken—eight hundred slaves—were sold; but the remainder, two hundred and fifty in number, were detained and treated with peculiar kindness. Many of them were of the first and richest families of[p. 67] the island, and the Corinthians designed to gain them over, so as to make them instruments for effecting a revolution in the island. The calamitous incidents arising from their return will appear in a future chapter.

Thus relieved from all danger, the Korkyræans picked up the dead bodies and the wrecks which had floated during the night on to their island, and even found sufficient pretence to erect a trophy, chiefly in consequence of their partial success on the left wing. In truth, they had been only rescued from ruin by the unexpected coming of the last Athenian ships: but the last result was as triumphant to them as it was disastrous and humiliating to the Corinthians, who had incurred an immense cost, and taxed all their willing allies, only to leave their enemy stronger than she was before. From this time forward they considered the thirty years’ truce as broken, and conceived a hatred, alike deadly and undisguised, against Athens; so that the latter gained nothing by the moderation of her admirals in sparing the Corinthian fleet off the coast of Epirus. An opportunity was not long wanting for the Corinthians to strike a blow at their enemy, through one of her wide-spread dependencies.

On the isthmus of that lesser peninsula called Pellênê, which forms the westernmost of the three prongs of the greater peninsula called Chalkidikê, between the Thermaic and the Strymonic gulfs, was situated the Dorian town of Potidæa, one of the tributary allies of Athens, but originally colonized from Corinth, and still maintaining a certain metropolitan allegiance towards the latter: insomuch that every year certain Corinthians were sent thither as magistrates, under the title of Epidemiurgi. On various points of the neighboring coast, also, there were several small towns belonging to the Chalkidians and Bottiæans, enrolled in like manner in the list of Athenian tributaries. The neighboring inland territory, Mygdonia and Chalkidikê,[113] was held by the Macedonian king Perdikkas, son of that Alexander who had[p. 68] taken part, fifty years before, in the expedition of Xerxes. These two princes appear gradually to have extended their dominions, after the ruin of Persian power in Thrace by the exertions of Athens, until at length they acquired all the territory between the rivers Axius and Strymon. Now Perdikkas had been for some time the friend and ally of Athens; but there were other Macedonian princes, his brother Philip and Derdas, holding independent principalities in the upper country,[114] apparently on the higher course of the Axius near the Pæonian tribes, with whom he was in a state of dispute. These princes having been accepted as the allies of Athens, Perdikkas from that time became her active enemy, and it was from his intrigues that all the difficulties of Athens on that coast took their first origin. The Athenian empire was much less complete and secure over the seaports on the mainland than over the islands:[115] for the former were always more or less dependent on any powerful land-neighbor, sometimes more dependent on him than upon the mistress of the sea; and we shall find Athens herself cultivating assiduously the favor of Sitalkês and other strong Thracian potentates, as an aid to her dominion over the seaports.[116] Perdikkas immediately began to incite and aid the Chalkidians and Bottiæans to revolt from Athens, and the violent enmity against the latter, kindled in the bosoms of the Corinthians by the recent events at Korkyra, enabled him to extend the same projects to Potidæa. Not only did he send envoys to Corinth in order to[p. 69] concert measures for provoking the revolt of Potidæa, but also to Sparta, instigating the Peloponnesian league to a general declaration of war against Athens.[117] And he farther prevailed on many of the Chalkidian inhabitants to abandon their separate small towns on the sea-coast, for the purpose of joint residence at Olynthus, which was several stadia from the sea. Thus that town, as well as the Chalkidian interest, became much strengthened, while Perdikkas farther assigned some territory near Lake Bolbê to contribute to the temporary maintenance of the concentrated population.

The Athenians were not ignorant both of his hostile preparations and of the dangers which awaited them from Corinth after the Korkyræan sea-fight; immediately after which they sent to take precautions against the revolt of Potidæa; requiring the inhabitants to take down their wall on the side of Pellênê, so as to leave the town open on the side of the peninsula, or on what may be called the sea-side, and fortified only towards the mainland,—requiring them farther both to deliver hostages and to dismiss the annual magistrates who came to them from Corinth. An Athenian armament of thirty triremes and one thousand hoplites, under Archestratus and ten others, despatched to act against Perdikkas in the Thermaic gulf, was directed at the same time to enforce these requisitions against Potidæa, and to repress any dispositions to revolt among the neighboring Chalkidians. Immediately on receiving these requisitions, the Potidæans sent envoys both to Athens, for the purpose of evading and gaining time,—and to Sparta, in conjunction with Corinth, in order to determine a Lacedæmonian invasion of Attica, in the event of Potidæa being attacked by Athens. From the Spartan authorities they obtained a distinct affirmative promise, in spite of the thirty years’ truce still subsisting: at Athens they had no success, and they accordingly openly revolted (seemingly about midsummer, 432 B.C.), at the same time that the armament under Archestratus sailed. The Chalkidians and Bottiæans revolted at the same time, at the express instigation of Corinth, accompanied by solemn oaths and promises of assistance.[118] Archestratus with his fleet, on reaching the Thermaic gulf, found them all in pro[p. 70]claimed enmity, but was obliged to confine himself to the attack of Perdikkas in Macedonia, not having numbers enough to admit of a division of his force. He accordingly laid siege to Therma, in coöperation with the Macedonian troops from the upper country, under Philip and the brothers of Derdas; after taking that place, he next proceeded to besiege Pydna. But it would probably have been wiser had he turned his whole force instantly to the blockade of Potidæa; for during the period of more than six weeks that he spent in the operations against Therma, the Corinthians conveyed to Potidæa a reinforcement of sixteen hundred hoplites and four hundred light-armed, partly their own citizens, partly Peloponnesians, hired for the occasion,—under Aristeus, son of Adeimantus, a man of such eminent popularity, both at Corinth and at Potidæa, that most of the soldiers volunteered on his personal account. Potidæa was thus put into a state of complete defence shortly after the news of its revolt reached Athens, and long before any second armament could be sent to attack it. A second armament, however, was speedily sent forth.—forty triremes and two thousand Athenian hoplites, under Kallias, son of Kalliades,[119] with four other commanders,—who, on reaching the Thermaic gulf, joined the former body at the siege of Pydna. After prosecuting the siege in vain for a short time, they found themselves obliged to patch up an accommodation on the best terms they could with Perdikkas, from the necessity of commencing immediate operations against Aristeus and Potidæa. They then quitted Macedonia, first crossing by sea from Pydna to the eastern coast of the Thermaic gulf,—next attacking, though without effect, the town of Berœa,—and then marching by land along the eastern coast of the gulf, in the direction of Potidæa. On the third day of easy march, they reached the seaport called Gigônus, near which they encamped.[120]

[p. 71]

In spite of the convention concluded at Pydna, Perdikkas, whose character for faithlessness we shall have more than one[p. 72] occasion to notice, was now again on the side of the Chalkidians, and sent two hundred horse to join them, under the command of[p. 73] Iolaus. Aristeus posted his Corinthians and Potidæans on the isthmus near Potidæa, providing a market without the walls, in order that they might not stray in quest of provisions: his position was on the side towards Olynthus,—which was about seven miles off, but within sight, and in a lofty and conspicuous situation. He here awaited the approach of the Athenians, calculating that the Chalkidians from Olynthus would, upon the hoisting of a given signal, assail them in the rear when they attacked him. But Kallias was strong enough to place in reserve his Macedonian cavalry and other allies as a check against Olynthus; while with his Athenians and the main force he marched to the isthmus and took position in front of Aristeus. In the battle which ensued, Aristeus and the chosen band of Corinthians immediately about him were completely successful, breaking the troops opposed to them, and pursuing for a considerable distance: but the remaining Potidæans and Peloponnesians were routed by the Athenians and driven within the walls. On returning from pursuit, Aristeus found the victorious Athenians between him and Potidæa, and was reduced to the alternative either of cutting his way through them into the latter town, or of making a retreating march to Olynthus. He chose the former as the least of two hazards, and forced his way through the flank of the Athenians,[p. 74] wading into the sea in order to turn the extremity of the Potidæan wall, which reached entirely across the isthmus, with a mole running out at each end into the water: he effected this daring enterprise and saved his detachment, though not without considerable difficulty and some loss. Meanwhile, the auxiliaries from Olynthus, though they had begun their march on seeing the concerted signal, had been kept in check by the Macedonian horse, so that the Potidæans had been beaten and the signal again withdrawn, before they could make any effective diversion: nor did the cavalry on either side come into action. The defeated Potidæans and Corinthians, having the town immediately in their rear, lost only three hundred men, while the Athenians lost one hundred and fifty, together with the general Kallias.[121]

The victory was, however, quite complete, and the Athenians, after having erected their trophy, and given up the enemy’s dead for burial, immediately built their blockading wall across the isthmus, on the side of the mainland, so as to cut off Potidæa from all communication with Olynthus and the Chalkidians. To make the blockade complete, a second wall across the isthmus was necessary, on the other side towards Pallênê: but they had not force enough to detach a completely separate body for this purpose, until after some time they were joined by Phormio with sixteen hundred fresh hoplites from Athens. That general, landing at Aphytis, in the peninsula of Pallênê, marched slowly up to Potidæa, ravaging the territory in order to draw out the citizens to battle: but the challenge not being accepted, he undertook, and finished without obstruction, the blockading wall on the side of Pallênê, so that the town was now completely inclosed, and the harbor watched by the Athenian fleet. The wall once finished, a portion of the force sufficed to guard it, leaving Phormio at liberty to undertake aggressive operations against the Chalkidic and Bottiæan townships. The capture of Potidæa was now only a question of more or less time, and Aristeus, in order that the provisions might last longer, proposed to the citizens to choose a favorable wind, get on shipboard, and break out suddenly from the harbor, taking their chance of eluding the Athenian fleet, and leaving only five hundred defenders behind:[p. 75] though he offered himself to be among those left behind, he could not determine the citizens to so bold an enterprise, and he therefore sallied forth in the way proposed with a small detachment, in order to try and procure relief from without,—especially some aid or diversion from Peloponnesus. But he was able to accomplish nothing beyond some partial warlike operations among the Chalkidians,[122] and a successful ambuscade against the citizens of Sermylus, which did nothing for the relief of the blockaded town: it had, however, been so well-provisioned that it held out for two whole years,—a period full of important events elsewhere.

From these two contests between Athens and Corinth, first indirectly at Korkyra, next distinctly and avowedly at Potidæa, sprung those important movements in the Lacedæmonian alliance which will be recounted in the next chapter.


Even before the recent hostilities at Korkyra and Potidæa, it had been evident to reflecting Greeks that the continued observance of the thirty years’ truce was very uncertain, and that the mingled hatred, fear, and admiration, which Athens inspired throughout Greece, would prompt Sparta and the Spartan confederacy to seize the first favorable opening for breaking down the Athenian power. That such was the disposition of Sparta, was well understood among the Athenian allies, however considerations of prudence and general slowness in resolving might postpone the moment of carrying it into effect. Accordingly, not only the Samians when they revolted had applied to the Spartan[p. 76] confederacy for aid, which they appear to have been prevented from obtaining chiefly by the pacific interests then animating the Corinthians,—but also the Lesbians had endeavored to open negotiations with Sparta for a similar purpose, though the authorities—to whom alone the proposition could have been communicated, since it remained secret and was never executed—had given them no encouragement.[123] The affairs of Athens had been administered under the ascendency of Periklês, without any view to extension of empire or encroachment upon others, though with constant view to the probabilities of war, and with anxiety to keep the city in a condition to meet it: but even the splendid internal ornaments, which Athens at that time acquired, were probably not without their effect in provoking jealousy on the part of other Greeks as to her ultimate views. The only known incident, wherein Athens had been brought into collision with a member of the Spartan confederacy prior to the Korkyræan dispute, was the decree passed in regard to Megara,—prohibiting the Megarians, on pain of death, from all trade or intercourse as well with Athens as with all ports within the Athenian empire. This prohibition was grounded on the alleged fact, that the Megarians had harbored runaway slaves from Athens, and had appropriated and cultivated portions of land upon the border; partly land, the property of the goddesses of Eleusis,—partly a strip of territory disputed between the two states, and therefore left by mutual understanding in common pasture without any permanent inclosure.[124] In reference to this latter point,[p. 77] the Athenian herald, Anthemokritus had been sent to Megara to remonstrate, but had been so rudely dealt with, that his death shortly afterwards was imputed as a crime to the Megarians.[125] We may well suppose that ever since the revolt of Megara, fourteen years before, which caused to Athens an irreparable mischief, the feeling prevalent between the two towns had been one of bitter enmity, manifesting itself in many ways, but so much exasperated by recent events as to provoke Athens to a signal revenge.[126] Exclusion from Athens and all the ports in her empire, comprising nearly every island and seaport in the Ægean, was so ruinous to the Megarians, that they loudly complained of it at Sparta, representing it as an infraction of the thirty years[p. 78]’ truce; though it was undoubtedly within the legitimate right of Athens to enforce,—and was even less harsh than the systematic expulsion of foreigners by Sparta, with which Periklês compared it.

These complaints found increased attention after the war of Korkyra and the blockade of Potidæa by the Athenians. The sentiments of the Corinthians towards Athens had now become angry and warlike in the highest degree: nor was it simply resentment for the past which animated them, but also the anxiety farther to bring upon Athens so strong a hostile pressure as should preserve Potidæa and its garrison from capture. Accordingly, they lost no time in endeavoring to rouse the feelings of the Spartans against Athens, and in inducing them to invite to Sparta all such of the confederates as had any grievances against that city. Not merely the Megarians but several other confederates, appeared there as accusers; while the Æginetans, though their insular position made it perilous for them to appear, made themselves vehemently heard through the mouths of others, complaining that Athens withheld from them that autonomy to which they were entitled under the truce.[127]

According to the Lacedæmonian practice, it was necessary first that the Spartans themselves, apart from their allies, should de[p. 79]cide whether there existed a sufficient case of wrong done by Athens against themselves or against Peloponnesus,—either in violation of the thirty years’ truce, or in any other way. If the determination of Sparta herself were in the negative, the case would never even be submitted to the vote of the allies; but if it were in the affirmative, then the latter would be convoked to deliver their opinion also: and assuming that the majority of votes coincided with the previous decision of Sparta, the entire confederacy stood then pledged to the given line of policy,—if the majority was contrary, the Spartans would stand alone, or with such only of the confederates as concurred. Each allied city, great or small, had an equal right of suffrage. It thus appears that Sparta herself did not vote as a member of the confederacy, but separately and individually as leader,—and that the only question ever submitted to the allies was, whether they would or would not go along with her previous decision. Such was the course of proceeding now followed: the Corinthians, together with such other of the confederates as felt either aggrieved or alarmed by Athens, presented themselves before the public assembly of Spartan citizens, prepared to prove that the Athenians had broken the truce, and were going on in a course of wrong towards Peloponnesus.[128] Even in the oligarchy of Sparta, such a question as this could only be decided by a general assembly of Spartan citizens, qualified both by age, by regular contribution to the public mess, and by obedience to Spartan discipline. To the assembly so constituted the deputies of the various allied cities addressed themselves, each setting forth his case against Athens. The Corinthians chose to reserve themselves to the last, after the assembly had been previously inflamed by the previous speakers.

Of this important assembly, on which so much of the future fate of Greece turned, Thucydidês has preserved an account unusually copious. First, the speech delivered by the Corinthian envoys. Next, that of some Athenian envoys, who happening to be at the same time in Sparta on some other matters, and being[p. 80] present in the assembly so as to have heard the speeches both of the Corinthians and of the other complainants, obtained permission from the magistrates to address the assembly in their turn. Thirdly, the address of the Spartan king Archidamus, on the course of policy proper to be adopted by Sparta. Lastly, the brief, but eminently characteristic, address of the ephor Stheneläidas, on putting the question for decision. These speeches, the composition of Thucydidês himself, contain substantially the sentiments of the parties to whom they are ascribed: neither of them is distinctly a reply to that which has preceded, but each presents the situation of affairs from a different point of view.

The Corinthians knew well that the audience whom they were about to address had been favorably prepared for them,—for the Lacedæmonian authorities had already given an actual promise to them and to the Potidæans at the moment before Potidæa revolted, that they would invade Attica. So great was the revolution in sentiment of the Spartans, since they had declined lending aid to the much more powerful island of Lesbos, when it proposed to revolt,—a revolution occasioned by the altered interests and sentiments of Corinth. Nor were the Corinthians ignorant that their positive grounds of complaint against Athens, in respect of wrong or violation of the existing truce, were both few and feeble. Neither in the dispute about Potidæa nor about Korkyra, had Athens infringed the truce or wronged the Peloponnesian alliance. In both, she had come into collision with Corinth, singly and apart from the confederacy: she had a right, both according to the truce and according to the received maxims of international law, to lend defensive aid to the Korkyræans at their own request,—she had a right also, according to the principles laid down by the Corinthians themselves on occasion of the revolt of Samos, to restrain the Potidæans from revolting. She had committed nothing which could fairly be called an aggression: indeed the aggression, both in the case of Potidæa and in that of Korkyra, was decidedly on the side of the Corinthians: and the Peloponnesian confederacy could only be so far implicated as it was understood to be bound to espouse the separate quarrels, right or wrong, of Corinth. All this was well known to the Corinthian envoys; and accordingly we find that, in their speech[p. 81] at Sparta, they touch but lightly, and in vague terms, on positive or recent wrongs. Even that which they do say completely justifies the proceedings of Athens about the affair of Korkyra, since they confess without hesitation the design of seizing the large Korkyræan navy for the use of the Peloponnesian alliance: while in respect of Potidæa, if we had only the speech of the Corinthian envoy before us without any other knowledge, we should have supposed it to be an independent state, not connected by any permanent bonds with Athens,—we should have supposed that the siege of Potidæa by Athens was an unprovoked aggression upon an autonomous ally of Corinth,[129]—we should never have imagined that Corinth had deliberately instigated and aided the revolt of the Chalkidians as well as of the Potidæans against Athens. It might be pretended that she had a right to do this, by virtue of her undefined metropolitan relations with Potidæa: but at any rate, the incident was not such as to afford any decent pretext for charge against the Athenians, either of outrage towards Corinth,[130] or of wrongful aggression against the Peloponnesian confederacy.

To dwell much upon specific allegations of wrong, would not have suited the purpose of the Corinthian envoy; for against such, the thirty years’ truce expressly provided that recourse should be had to amicable arbitration,—to which recourse he never once alludes. He knew that, as between Corinth and Athens, war had already begun at Potidæa; and his business, throughout nearly all of a very emphatic speech is, to show that the Peloponnesian confederacy, and especially Sparta, is bound to take instant part in it, not less by prudence than by duty. He employs the most animated language to depict the ambition, the unwearied activity, the personal effort abroad as well as at home, the quick resolves, the sanguine hopes never dashed by failure,—of Athens; as contrasted with the cautious, home-keeping, indolent, scrupulous routine of Sparta. He reproaches the[p. 82] Spartans with their backwardness and timidity, in not having repressed the growth of Athens before she reached this formidable height,—especially in having allowed her to fortify her city after the retreat of Xerxes, and afterwards to build the long walls from the city to the sea.[131] The Spartans, he observes, stood alone among all Greeks, in the notable system of keeping down an enemy not by acting, but delaying to act,—not arresting his growth, but putting him down when his force was doubled. Falsely, indeed, had they acquired the reputation of being sure, when they were in reality merely slow:[132] in resisting Xerxes, as in resisting Athens, they had always been behindhand, disappointing and leaving their friends to ruin,—while both these enemies had only failed of complete success through their own mistakes.

After half apologizing for the tartness of these reproofs,—which, however, as the Spartans were now well-disposed to go to war forthwith, would be well-timed and even agreeable,—the Corinthian orator vindicates the necessity of plain-speaking by the urgent peril of the emergency, and the formidable character of the enemy who threatened them. “You do not reflect (he says) how thoroughly different the Athenians are from yourselves. They are innovators by nature; sharp both in devising, and in executing what they have determined: you are sharp only in keeping what you have got, in determining on nothing beyond, and in doing even less than absolute necessity requires.[133] They again dare beyond their means, run risks beyond their own judgment, and keep alive their hopes even in desperate circumstances: your[p. 83] peculiarity is, that your performance comes short of your power,—you have no faith even in what your judgment guarantees,—when in difficulties, you despair of all escape. They never hang back,—you are habitual laggards: they love foreign service,—you cannot stir from home: for they are always under the belief that their movements will lead to some farther gain, while you fancy that new projects will endanger what you have already. When successful, they make the greatest forward march; when defeated, they fall back the least. Moreover, they task their bodies on behalf of their city as if they were the bodies of others,—while their minds are most of all their own, for exertion in her service.[134] When their plans for acquisition do not come successfully out, they feel like men robbed of what belongs to them: yet the acquisitions when realized appear like trifles compared with what remains to be acquired. If they sometimes fail in an attempt, new hopes arise in some other direction to supply the want: for with them alone the possession and the hope of what they aim at is almost simultaneous, from their habit of quickly executing all that they have once resolved. And in this manner do they toil throughout all their lives amidst hardship and peril, disregarding present enjoyment in the continual thirst for increase,—knowing no other festival recreation except the performance of active duty,—and deeming inactive repose a worse condition than fatiguing occupation. To speak the truth in two words: such is their inborn temper, that they will neither remain at rest themselves, nor allow rest to others.[135]

“Such is the city which stands opposed to you, Lacedæmonians,—yet ye still hang back from action.... Your continual scruples and apathy would hardly be safe, even if ye had neigh[p. 84]bors like yourselves in character: but as to dealings with Athens, your system is antiquated and out of date. In politics as in art, it is the modern improvements which are sure to come out victorious: and though unchanged institutions are best, if a city be not called upon to act,—yet multiplicity of active obligations requires multiplicity and novelty of contrivance.[136] It is through these numerous trials that the means of Athens have acquired so much more new development than yours.”

The Corinthians concluded by saying, that if, after so many previous warnings, now repeated for the last time, Sparta still refused to protect her allies against Athens,—if she delayed to perform her promise made to the Potidæans, of immediately invading Attica,—they, the Corinthians, would forthwith look for safety in some new alliance, and they felt themselves fully justified in doing so. They admonished her to look well to the case, and to carry forward Peloponnesus with undiminished dignity as it had been transmitted to her from her predecessors.[137]

Such was the memorable picture of Athens and her citizens, as exhibited by her fiercest enemy, before the public assembly at Sparta. It was calculated to impress the assembly, not by appeal to recent or particular misdeeds, but by the general system of unprincipled and endless aggression which was imputed to Athens during the past,—and by the certainty held out that the same system, unless put down by measures of decisive hostility, would be pushed still farther in future to the utter ruin of Peloponnesus. And to this point did the Athenian envoy—staying in Sparta about some other negotiation, and now present in the assembly—address himself in reply, after having asked and obtained permission from the magistrates. The empire of Athens was now of such standing that the younger men present had no personal knowledge of the circumstances under which it had grown up: and what was needed as information for them would be impressive as a reminder even to their seniors.[138]

[p. 85]

He began by disclaiming all intention of defending his native city against the charges of specific wrong or alleged infractions of the existing truce: this was no part of his mission, nor did he recognize Sparta as a competent judge in disputes between Athens and Corinth. But he nevertheless thought it his duty to vindicate Athens against the general character of injustice and aggression imputed to her, as well as to offer a solemn warning to the Spartans against the policy towards which they were obviously tending. He then proceeded to show that the empire of Athens had been honorably earned and amply deserved,—that it had been voluntarily ceded, and even pressed upon her,—and that she could not abdicate it without emperiling her own separate existence and security. Far from thinking that the circumstances under which it was acquired needed apology, he appealed to them with pride as a testimony of the genuine Hellenic patriotism of that city which the Spartan congress now seemed disposed to run down as an enemy.[139] He then dwelt upon the circumstances attending the Persian invasion, setting forth the superior forwardness and the unflinching endurance of Athens, in spite of ungenerous neglect from Sparta and the other Greeks,—the preponderance of her naval force in the entire armament,—the directing genius of her general Themistoklês, complimented even by Sparta herself,—and the title of Athens to rank on that memorable occasion as the principal saviour of Greece. This alone ought to save her empire from reproach: but this was not all,—for that empire had been tendered to her by the pressing instance of the allies, at a time when Sparta had proved herself both incompetent and unwilling to prosecute the war against Persia.[140] By simple exercise of the constraining force inseparable from her presidential obligations, and by the[p. 86] reduction of various allies who revolted, Athens had gradually become unpopular, while Sparta too had become her enemy instead of her friend. To relax her hold upon her allies would have been to make them the allies of Sparta against her; and thus the motive of fear was added to those of ambition and revenue, in inducing Athens to maintain her imperial dominion by force. In her position, no Grecian power either would or could have acted otherwise: no Grecian power, certainly not Sparta, would have acted with so much equity and moderation, or given so little ground of complaint to her subjects. Worse they had suffered, while under Persia; worse they would suffer, if they came under Sparta, who held her own allies under the thraldom of an oligarchical party in each city; and if they hated Athens, this was only because subjects always hated the present dominion, whatever that might be.[141]

Having justified both the origin and the working of the Athenian empire, the envoy concluded by warning Sparta to consider calmly, without being hurried away by the passions and invectives of others, before she took a step from which there was no retreat, and which exposed the future to chances such as no man on either side could foresee. He called on her not to break the truce mutually sworn to, but to adjust all differences, as Athens was prepared to do, by the amicable arbitration which that truce provided. Should she begin war, the Athenians would follow her lead and resist her, calling to witness those gods under whose sanction the oaths were taken.[142]

The facts recounted in the preceding chapters will have shown, that the account given by the Athenian envoy at Sparta, of the origin and character of the empire exercised by his city, though doubtless the account of a partisan, is in substance correct and equitable; the envoys of Athens had not yet learned to take the tone which they assumed in the sixteenth and seventeenth years[p. 87] of the coming war, at Melos and Kamarina. At any time previous to the affair of Korkyra, the topics insisted upon by the Athenian would probably have been profoundly listened to at Sparta. But now the mind of the Spartans was made up. Having cleared the assembly of all “strangers,” and even all allies, they proceeded to discuss and determine the question among themselves. Most of their speakers held but one language,[143]—expatiating on the wrongs already done by Athens, and urging the necessity of instant war. There was, however, one voice, and that a commanding voice, raised against this conclusion: the ancient and respected king Archidamus opposed it.

The speech of Archidamus is that of a deliberate Spartan, who, setting aside both hatred to Athens and blind partiality to allies, looks at the question with a view to the interests and honor of Sparta only,—not, however, omitting her imperial as well as her separate character. The preceding native speakers, indignant against Athens, had probably appealed to Spartan pride, treating it as an intolerable disgrace that almost the entire land-force of Dorian Peloponnesus should be thus bullied by one single Ionic city, and should hesitate to commence a war which one invasion of Attica would probably terminate. As the Corinthians had tried to excite the Spartans by well-timed taunts and reproaches, so the subsequent speakers had aimed at the same objects by panegyric upon the well-known valor and discipline of the city. To all these arguments Archidamus set himself to reply. Invoking the experience of the elders his contemporaries around him, he impressed upon the assembly the grave responsibility, the uncertainties, difficulties, and perils, of the war into which they were hurrying without preparation.[144] He reminded them of the wealth, the population, greater than that of any other Grecian city, the naval force, the cavalry, the hoplites, the large foreign dominion of Athens,—and then asked by what means they proposed to put her down?[145] Ships, they had[p. 88] few; trained seamen, yet fewer; wealth, next to none. They could indeed invade and ravage Attica, by their superior numbers and land-force: but the Athenians had possessions abroad sufficient to enable them to dispense with the produce of Attica, while their great navy would retaliate the like ravages upon Peloponnesus. To suppose that one or two devastating expeditions into Attica would bring the war to an end, would be a deplorable error: such proceedings would merely enrage the Athenians, without impairing their real strength, and the war would thus be prolonged, perhaps, for a whole generation.[146] Before they determined upon war, it was absolutely necessary to provide more efficient means for carrying it on; and to multiply their allies, not merely among the Greeks, but among foreigners also: while this was in process, envoys ought to be sent to Athens to remonstrate and obtain redress for the grievances of the allies. If the Athenians granted this,—which they very probably would do, when they saw the preparations going forward, and when the ruin of the highly-cultivated soil of Attica was held over them in terrorem without being actually consummated,—so much the better: if they refused, in the course of two or three years war might be commenced with some hopes of success. Archidamus reminded his countrymen that their allies would hold them responsible for the good or bad issue of what was now determined;[147] admonishing them, in the true spirit of a conservative Spartan, to cling to that cautious policy which had been ever the characteristic of the state, despising both taunts on their tardiness and panegyric on their valor. “We, Spartans, owe both our bravery and our prudence to our admirable public discipline: it makes us warlike, because the sense of shame is most closely connected with discipline, as valor is with the sense of shame: it makes us prudent, because our training keeps us too ignorant to set ourselves above our own institutions, and holds us[p. 89] under sharp restraint so as not to disobey them.[148] And thus, not being overwise in unprofitable accomplishments, we Spartans are not given to disparage our enemy’s strength in clever speech, and then meet him with short-comings in reality: we think that the capacity of neighboring states is much on a par, and that the chances in reserve for both parties are too uncertain to be discriminated beforehand by speech. We always make real preparations against our enemies, as if they were proceeding wisely on their side: we must count upon security through our own precautions, not upon the chance of their errors. Indeed, there is no great superiority in one man as compared with another: he is the stoutest who is trained in the severest trials. Let us, for our parts, not renounce this discipline, which we have received from our fathers, and which we still continue, to our very great profit: let us not hurry on, in one short hour, a resolution upon which depend so many lives, so much property, so many cities, and our own reputation besides. Let us take time to consider, since our[p. 90] strength puts it fully in our power to do so. Send envoys to the Athenians on the subject of Potidæa, and of the other grievances alleged by our allies,—and that too, the rather as they are ready to give us satisfaction: against one who offers satisfaction, custom forbids you to proceed, without some previous application, as if he were a proclaimed wrong-doer. But, at the same time, make preparation for war; such will be the course of policy at once the best for your own power and the most terror-striking to your enemies.”[149]

The speech of Archidamus was not only in itself full of plain reason and good sense, but delivered altogether from the point of view of a Spartan; appealing greatly to Spartan conservative feeling and even prejudice. But in spite of all this, and in spite of the personal esteem entertained for the speaker, the tide of feeling in the opposite direction was at that moment irresistible. Stheneläidas—one of the five ephors, to whom it fell to put the question for voting—closed the debate; and his few words mark at once the character of the man, the temper of the assembly, and the simplicity of speech, though without the wisdom of judgment, for which Archidamus had taken credit to his countrymen.

“I don’t understand (he said) these long speeches of the Athenians. They have praised themselves abundantly, but they have never rebutted what is laid to their charge,—that they are guilty of wrong against our allies and against Peloponnesus. Now, if in former days they were good men against the Persians, and are now evil-doers against us, they deserve double punishment, as having become evil-doers instead of good.[150] But we are the same now as we were then: we know better than to sit still while our allies are suffering wrong: we shall not adjourn our aid while they cannot adjourn their sufferings.[151] Others have in[p. 91] abundance wealth, ships, and horses,—but we have good allies, whom we are not to abandon to the mercy of the Athenians: nor are we to trust our redress to arbitration and to words, when our wrongs are not confined to words. We must help them speedily and with all our strength. Nor let any one tell us that we can with honor deliberate when we are actually suffering wrong,—it is rather for those who intend to do the wrong, to deliberate well beforehand. Resolve upon war then, Lacedæmonians, in a manner worthy of Sparta: suffer not the Athenians to become greater than they are: let us not betray our allies to ruin, but march, with the aid of the gods, against the wrong-doers.”

With these few words, so well calculated to defeat the prudential admonitions of Archidamus, Stheneläidas put the question for the decision of the assembly,—which, at Sparta, was usually taken neither by show of hands nor by deposit of balls in an urn, but by cries analogous to the Aye or No of the English House of Commons,—the presiding ephor declaring which of the cries predominated. On this occasion the cry for war was manifestly the stronger:[152] yet Stheneläidas affected inability to determine which of the two cries was the louder, in order that he might have an excuse for bringing about a more impressive manifestation of sentiment and a stronger apparent majority,—since a portion of the minority would probably be afraid to show their real opinions as individuals openly. He accordingly directed a division, like the Speaker of the English House of Commons, when his decision in favor of aye or no is questioned by any member: “Such of you as think that the truce has been violated, and that the Athenians are doing us wrong, go to that side; such as think the contrary, to the other side.” The assembly accordingly divided, and the majority was very great on the warlike side of the question.

The first step of the Lacedæmonians, after coming to this important decision was, to send to Delphi and inquire of the oracle whether it would be beneficial to them to undertake the war: the answer brought back (Thucydidês seems hardly certain that[p. 92] it was really given[153]) was,—that if they did their best they would be victorious, and that the god would help them, invoked or uninvoked. They at the same time convened a general congress of their allies at Sparta, for the purpose of submitting their recent resolution to the vote of all.

To the Corinthians, in their anxiety for the relief of Potidæa, the decision of this congress was not less important than that which the Spartans had just taken separately: and they sent round envoys to each of the allies, entreating them to authorize war without reserve. Through such instigations, acting upon the general impulse then prevalent, the congress came together in a temper decidedly warlike: most of the speakers were full of invective against Athens, and impatient for action, while the Corinthians, waiting as before to speak the last, wound up the discussion by a speech well calculated to insure a hearty vote. Their former speech had been directed to shame, exasperate, and alarm the Lacedæmonians: this point had now been carried, and they had to enforce, upon the allies generally, the dishonor as well as the impolicy of receding from a willing leader. The cause was one in which all were interested, the inland states not less than the maritime, for both would find themselves ultimately victims of the encroaching despot city: whatever efforts were necessary for the war, ought cheerfully to be made, since it was only through war that they could arrive at a secure and honorable peace. There were good hopes that this might soon be attained, and that the war would not last long,—so decided was the superiority of the confederacy, in numbers, in military skill, and in the equal heart and obedience of all its members.[154] The[p. 93] naval superiority of Athens depended chiefly upon hired seamen,—and the confederacy, by borrowing from the treasuries of Delphi and Olympia, would soon be able to overbid her, take into pay her best mariners, and equal her equipment at sea: they would excite revolt among her allies, and establish a permanent fortified post for the ruin of Attica. To make up a common fund for this purpose, was indispensably necessary; for Athens was far more than a match for each of them single-handed, and nothing less than hearty union could save them all from successive enslavement,—the very supposition of which was intolerable to Peloponnesian freemen, whose fathers had liberated Greece from the Persian. Let them not shrink from endurance and sacrifice in such a cause,—it was their hereditary pride to purchase success by laborious effort. The Delphian god had promised them his coöperation; and the whole of Greece would sympathize in the cause, either from fear of the despotism of Athens, or from hopes of profit. They would not be the first to break the truce, for the Athenians had already broken it, as the declaration of the Delphian god distinctly implied. Let them lose no time in sending aid to the Potidæans, a Dorian population now besieged by Ionians, as well as to those other Greeks whom Athens had enslaved. Every day the necessity for effort was becoming stronger, and the longer it was delayed, the more painful it would be when it came. “Be ye persuaded then, (concluded the orator), that this city, which has constituted herself despot of Greece, has her position against all of us alike, some for present rule, others for future conquest; let us assail and subdue her, that we may dwell securely ourselves hereafter, and may emancipate those Greeks who are now in slavery.”[155]

If there were any speeches delivered at this congress in opposition to the war, they were not likely to be successful in a cause wherein even Archidamus had failed. After the Corinthian had[p. 94] concluded, the question was put to the deputies of every city, great and small, indiscriminately and the majority decided for war.[156] This important resolution was adopted about the end of 432 B.C., or the beginning of January 431 B.C.: the previous decision of the Spartans separately may have been taken about two months earlier, in the preceding October or November 432 B.C.

Reviewing the conduct of the two great Grecian parties at this momentous juncture, with reference to existing treaties and positive grounds of complaint, it seems clear that Athens was in the right. She had done nothing which could fairly be called a violation of the thirty years’ truce: and for such of her acts as were alleged to be such, she offered to submit them to that amicable arbitration which the truce itself prescribed. The Peloponnesian confederates were manifestly the aggressors in the contest; and if Sparta, usually so backward, now came forward in a spirit so decidedly opposite, we are to ascribe it partly to her standing fear and jealousy of Athens, partly to the pressure of her allies, especially of the Corinthians. Thucydidês, recognizing these two as the grand determining motives, and indicating the alleged infractions of truce as simple occasions or pretexts, seems to consider the fear and hatred of Athens as having contributed more to determine Sparta than the urgency of her allies.[157] That the extraordinary aggrandizement of Athens, during the period immediately succeeding the Persian invasion, was well calculated to excite alarm and jealousy in Peloponnesus, is indisputable: but if we take Athens as she stood in 432 B.C., it deserves notice that she had neither made, nor, so far as we know, tried to make, a single new acquisition during the whole fourteen years which had elapsed since the conclusion of the thirty years’ truce;[p. 95][158]— and, moreover, that that truce marked an epoch of signal humiliation and reduction of her power. The triumph which Sparta and the Peloponnesians then gained, though not sufficiently complete to remove all fear of Athens, was yet great enough to inspire them with the hope that a second combined effort would subdue her. This mixture of fear and hope was exactly the state of feeling out of which war was likely to grow,—and we see that even before the quarrel between Corinth and Korkyra, sagacious Greeks everywhere anticipated war as not far distant:[159] it was near breaking out even on occasion of the revolt of Samos,[160] and peace was then preserved partly by the commercial and nautical interests of Corinth, partly by the quiescence of Athens. But the quarrel of Corinth and Korkyra, which Sparta might have appeased beforehand had she thought it her interest to do so,—and the junction of Korkyra with Athens,—exhibited the latter as again in a career of aggrandizement, and thus again brought into play the warlike feelings of Sparta; while they converted Corinth from the advocate of peace into a clamorous organ of war. The revolt of Potidæa,—fomented by Corinth, and encouraged by Sparta in the form of a positive promise to invade[p. 96] Attica,—was, in point of fact, the first distinct violation of the truce, and the initiatory measure of the Peloponnesian war: nor did the Spartan meeting, and the subsequent congress of allies at Sparta, serve any other purpose than to provide such formalities as were requisite to insure the concurrent and hearty action of numbers, and to clothe with imposing sanction a state of war already existing in reality, though yet unproclaimed. The sentiment in Peloponnesus at this moment was not the fear of Athens, but the hatred of Athens,—and the confident hope of subduing her. And indeed such confidence was justified by plausible grounds: men might well think that the Athenians would never endure the entire devastation of their highly cultivated soil,—or at least that they would certainly come forth to fight for it in the field, which was all that the Peloponnesians desired. Nothing except the unparalleled ascendency and unshaken resolution of Periklês, induced the Athenians to persevere in a scheme of patient defence, and to trust to that naval superiority which the enemies of Athens, save and except the judicious Archidamus, had not yet learned fully to appreciate. Moreover, the confident hopes of the Peloponnesians were materially strengthened by the wide-spread sympathy in favor of their cause, proclaiming, as it did, the intended liberation of Greece from a despot city.[161]

To Athens, on the other hand, the coming war presented itself in a very different aspect; holding out scarcely any hope of possible gain, and the certainty of prodigious loss and privation,—even granting, that, at this heavy cost, her independence and union at home, and her empire abroad, could be upheld. By Periklês, and by the more long-sighted Athenians, the chance of unavoidable war was foreseen even before the Korkyræan dispute.[162] But Periklês was only the first citizen in a democracy, esteemed, trusted, and listened to, more than any one else by the body of the citizens, but warmly opposed in most of his measures, under the free speech and latitude of individual action which reigned at Athens,—and even bitterly hated by many active political opponents. The formal determination of the Lacedæmonians, to declare war, must of course have been made known at Athens[p. 97] by those Athenian envoys, who had entered an unavailing protest against it in the Spartan assembly. No steps were taken by Sparta to carry this determination into effect until after the congress of allies and their pronounced confirmatory vote. Nor did the Spartans even then send any herald, or make any formal declaration. They despatched various propositions to Athens, not at all with a view of trying to obtain satisfaction, or of providing some escape from the probability of war; but with the contrary purpose,—of multiplying demands, and enlarging the grounds of quarrel.[163] Meanwhile, the deputies retiring home from the congress to their respective cities, carried with them the general resolution for immediate warlike preparations to be made, with as little delay as possible.[164]

The first requisition addressed by the Lacedæmonians to Athens was a political manœuvre aimed at Periklês, their chief opponent in that city. His mother, Agaristê, belonged to the great family of the Alkmæônids, who were supposed to be under an inexpiable hereditary taint, in consequence of the sacrilege committed by their ancestor Megaklês, nearly two centuries before, in the slaughter of the Kylonian suppliants near the altar of the Venerable Goddesses.[165] Ancient as this transaction was, it still had sufficient hold on the mind of the Athenians to serve as the basis of a political manœuvre: about seventy-seven years before, shortly after the expulsion of Hippias from Athens, it had been so employed by the Spartan king Kleomenês, who at that time exacted from the Athenians a clearance of the ancient sacrilege, to be effected by the banishment of Kleisthenês, the founder of the democracy, and his chief partisans. This demand, addressed by Kleomenês to the Athenians, at the instance of Isagoras, the rival of Kleisthenês,[166] had been then obeyed, and had served well the purposes of those who sent it; a similar blow was now aimed[p. 98] by the Lacedæmonians at Periklês, the grand nephew of Kleisthenês, and doubtless at the instance of his political enemies: religion required, it was pretended, that “the abomination of the goddess should be driven out.”[167] If the Athenians complied with this demand, they would deprive themselves, at this critical moment, of their ablest leader; but the Lacedæmonians, not expecting compliance, reckoned at all events upon discrediting Periklês with the people, as being partly the cause of the war through family taint of impiety,[168]—and this impression would doubtless be loudly proclaimed by his political opponents in the assembly.

The influence of Periklês with the Athenian public had become greater and greater as their political experience of him was prolonged. But the bitterness of his enemies appears to have increased along with it; and not long before this period, he had been indirectly assailed, through the medium of accusations against three different persons, all more or less intimate with him,—his mistress Aspasia, the philosopher Anaxagoras, and the sculptor Pheidias. We cannot make out either the exact date, or the exact facts, of either of these accusations. Aspasia, daughter of Axiochus, was a native of Milêtus, beautiful, well educated, and ambitious. She resided at Athens, and is affirmed, though upon very doubtful evidence, to have kept slave-girls to be let out as courtezans; whatever may be the case with this report, which is most probably one of the scandals engendered by political animosity against Periklês,[169] it is certain that so re[p. 99]markable were her own fascinations, her accomplishments, and her powers, not merely of conversation, but even of oratory and[p. 100] criticism,—that the most distinguished Athenians of all ages and characters, Sokratês among the number, visited her, and several of them took their wives along with them to hear her also. The free citizen women of Athens lived in strict and almost oriental recluseness, as well after being married as when single: everything which concerned their lives, their happiness, or their rights, was determined or managed for them by male relatives: and they seem to have been destitute of all mental culture and accomplishments. Their society presented no charm nor interest, which men accordingly sought for in the company of the class of women called hetæræ, or courtezans, literally female companions; who lived a free life, managed their own affairs, and supported themselves by their powers of pleasing. These women were numerous, and were doubtless of every variety of personal character: but the most distinguished and superior among them, such as Aspasia and Theodotê,[170] appear to have been the only women in Greece, except the Spartan, who either inspired strong passion or exercised mental ascendency.

Periklês had been determined in his choice of a wife by those family considerations which were held almost obligatory at Athens, and had married a woman very nearly related to him, by whom he had two sons, Xanthippus and Paralus. But the marriage, having never been comfortable, was afterwards dissolved by mutual consent, according to that full liberty of divorce which the Attic law permitted; and Periklês concurred with his wife’s male relations, who formed her legal guardians, in giving her a way to another husband.[171] He then took Aspasia to live with him,[p. 101] had a son by her, who bore his name, and continued ever afterwards on terms of the greatest intimacy and affection with her. Without adopting those exaggerations which represent Aspasia as having communicated to Periklês his distinguished eloquence, or even as having herself composed orations for public delivery, we may well believe her to have been qualified to take interest and share in that literary and philosophical society which frequented the house of Periklês, and which his unprincipled son Xanthippus,—disgusted with his father’s regular expenditure, as withholding from him the means of supporting an extravagant establishment,—reported abroad with exaggerating calumnies and turned into derision. It was from that worthless young man, who died of the Athenian epidemic during the lifetime of Periklês, that his political enemies and the comic writers of the day were mainly furnished with scandalous anecdotes to assail the private habits of this distinguished man.[172] The comic writers attacked him for alleged intrigues with different women, but the name of Aspasia they treated as public property, without any mercy or reserve: she was the Omphalê, the Deianeira, or the Hêrê, to this great Hêraklês or Zeus of Athens. At length one of these comic writers, Hermippus, not contented with scenic attacks, indicted her before the dikastery for impiety, as participant in the philosophical discussions held, and the opinions professed, in the society of Periklês, by Anaxagoras and others. Against Anaxagoras himself, too, a similar indictment is said to have been preferred, either by Kleon or by Thucydidês, son of Melêsias, under a general resolution recently passed in the public assembly, at the instance of Diopeithês. And such was the sensitive antipathy of the Athenian public, shown afterwards fatally in the case of Sokratês, and embittered in this instance by all the artifices of political faction, against philosophers whose opinions conflicted with the received religious dogmas, that Periklês did not dare to place Anaxagoras on his trial: the latter retired from Athens, and the sentence of banishment was passed against him in his absence.[173] But he himself defended Aspasia before[p. 102] the diakastery: in fact, the indictment was as much against him as against her: one thing alleged against her, and also against Pheidias, was, the reception of free women to facilitate the intrigues of Periklês. He defended her successfully, and procured a verdict of acquittal: but we are not surprised to hear that his speech was marked by the strongest personal emotions, and even by tears.[174] The dikasts were accustomed to such appeals to their sympathies, sometimes even to extravagant excess, from ordinary accused persons: but in Periklês, so manifest an outburst of emotion stands out as something quite unparalleled: for constant self-mastery was one of the most prominent features in his character.[175] And we shall find him near the close of his political life, when he had become for the moment unpopular with the Athenian people, distracted as they were at the moment with the terrible sufferings of the pestilence,—bearing up against their unmerited anger not merely with dignity, but with a pride of conscious innocence and desert which rises almost into defiance; insomuch that the rhetor Dionysius, who criticizes the speech of Periklês as if it were simply the composition of Thucydidês, censures that historian for having violated dramatic propriety by a display of insolence where humility would have been becoming.[176]

It appears, also, as far as we can judge amidst very imperfect data, that the trial of the great sculptor Pheidias, for alleged embezzlement in the contract for his celebrated gold and ivory statue of Athênê,[177] took place nearly at this period. That statue had been finished and dedicated in the Parthenon in 437 B.C., since which period Pheidias had been engaged at Olympia, in his last and great masterpiece, the colossal statue of the Olym[p. 103]pian Zeus. On his return to Athens from the execution of this work, about 433 or 432 B.C., the accusation of embezzlement was instituted against him by the political enemies of Periklês.[178] A slave of Pheidias, named Menon, planted himself as a suppliant at the altar, professing to be cognizant of certain facts which proved that his master had committed peculation. Motion was made to receive his depositions, and to insure to his person the protection of the people; upon which he revealed various statements impeaching the pecuniary probity of Pheidias, and the latter was put in prison, awaiting the day for his trial before the dikastery. The gold employed and charged for in the statue, however, was all capable of being taken off and weighed, so as to verify its accuracy, which Periklês dared the accusers to do. Besides the charge of embezzlement, there were other circumstances which rendered Pheidias unpopular: it had been discovered that, in the reliefs on the friese of the Parthenon, he had introduced the portraits both of himself and of Periklês in conspicuous positions. It seems that Pheidias died in prison before the day of trial; and some even said, that he had been poisoned by the enemies of Periklês, in order that the suspicions against the latter, who was the real object of attack, might be aggravated. It is said also that Drakontidês proposed and carried a decree in the public assembly, that Periklês should be called on to give an account of the money which he had expended, and that the dikasts, before whom the account was rendered, should give their suffrage in the most solemn manner from the altar: this latter provision was modified by Agnon, who, while proposing that the dikasts should be fifteen hundred in number, retained the vote by pebbles in the urn according to ordinary custom.[179]

If Periklês was ever tried on such a charge, there can be no doubt that he was honorably acquitted: for the language of Thucydidês respecting his pecuniary probity is such as could never have been employed if a verdict of guilty on a charge of peculation had ever been publicly pronounced. But we cannot be certain that he ever was tried: indeed, another accusation[p. 104] urged by his enemies, and even by Aristophanês, in the sixth year of the Peloponnesian war, implies that no trial took place: for it was alleged that Periklês, in order to escape this danger, “blew up the Peloponnesian war,” and involved his country in such confusion and peril as made his own aid and guidance indispensably necessary to her: especially that he passed the decree against the Megarians by which the war was really brought on.[180] We know enough, however, to be certain that such a supposition is altogether inadmissible. The enemies of Periklês were far too eager, and too expert in Athenian political warfare, to have let him escape by such a stratagem: moreover, we learn from the assurance of Thucydidês, that the war depended upon far deeper causes,—that the Megarian decree was in no way the real cause of it,—that it was not Periklês, but the Peloponnesians, who brought it on, by the blow struck at Potidæa.

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All that we can make out, amidst these uncertified allegations, is, that in the year or two immediately preceding the Peloponnesian war, Periklês was hard pressed by the accusations of political enemies,—perhaps even in his own person, but certainly in the persons of those who were most in his confidence and affection.[181] And it was in this turn of his political position that the Lacedæmonians sent to Athens the above-mentioned requisition, that the ancient Kylonian sacrilege might be at length cleared out; in other words, that Periklês and his family might be banished. Doubtless, his enemies, as well as the partisans of Lacedæmon at Athens, would strenuously support this proposition: and the party of Lacedæmon at Athens was always strong, even during the middle of the war: to act as proxenus to the Lacedæmonians was accounted an honor even by the greatest Athenian families.[182] On this occasion, however, the manœuvre did not succeed, nor did the Athenians listen to the requisition for banishing the sacrilegious Alkmæônids. On the contrary, they replied that the Spartans, too, had an account of sacrilege to clear off; for they had violated the sanctuary of Poseidon, at Cape Tænarus, in dragging from it some helot suppliants to be put to death,—and the sanctuary of Athênê Chalkiœkus at Sparta, in blocking up and starving to death the guilty regent Pausanias. To require that Laconia might be cleared of these two acts of sacrilege, was the only answer which the Athenians made to the demand sent for the banishment of Periklês.[183] Probably, the actual effect of that demand was, to strengthen him in the public esteem:[184] very different from the effect of the same manœuvre when practised before by Kleomenês against Kleisthenês.

[p. 106]

Other Spartan envoys shortly afterwards arrived, with fresh demands. The Athenians were now required: 1. To withdraw their troops from Potidæa. 2. To replace Ægina in its autonomy. 3. To repeal the decree of exclusion against the Megarians. It was upon the latter that the greatest stress was laid; an intimation being held out that war might be avoided if such repeal were granted. We see plainly, from this proceeding, that the Lacedæmonians acted in concert with the anti-Periklêan leaders at Athens. To Sparta and her confederacy the decree against the Megarians was of less importance than the rescue of the Corinthian troops now blocked up in Potidæa: but on the other hand, the party opposed to Periklês would have much better chance of getting a vote of the assembly against him on the subject of the Megarians: and this advantage, if gained, would serve to enfeeble his influence generally. No concession was obtained, however, on either of the three points: even in respect to Megara, the decree of exclusion was vindicated and upheld against all the force of opposition. At length the Lacedæmonians—who had already resolved upon war, and had sent these envoys in mere compliance with the exigencies of ordinary practice, not with any idea of bringing about an accommodation—sent a third batch of envoys with a proposition, which at least had the merit of disclosing their real purpose without disguise. Rhamphias and two other Spartans announced to the Athenians the simple injunction: “The Lacedæmonians wish the peace to stand; and it may stand, if you will leave the Greeks autonomous.” Upon this demand, so very different from the preceding, the Athenians resolved to hold a fresh assembly on the subject of war or peace, to open the whole question anew for discussion, and to determine, once for all, on a peremptory answer.[185]

The last demands presented on the part of Sparta, which went to nothing less than the entire extinction of the Athenian empire,—combined with the character, alike wavering and insin[p. 107]cere, of the demands previously made, and with the knowledge that the Spartan confederacy had pronounced peremptorily in favor of war,—seemed likely to produce unanimity at Athens, and to bring together this important assembly under the universal conviction that war was inevitable. Such, however, was not the fact. The reluctance to go to war was sincere amidst the large majority of the assembly; while among a considerable portion of them it was so preponderant, that they even now reverted to the opening which the Lacedæmonians had before held out about the anti-Megarian decree, as if that were the chief cause of war. There was much difference of opinion among the speakers, several of whom insisted upon the repeal of this decree, treating it as a matter far too insignificant to go to war about, and denouncing the obstinacy of Periklês for refusing to concede such a trifle.[186] Against this opinion Periklês entered his protest, in an harangue decisive and encouraging, which Dionysius of Halikarnassus ranks among the best speeches in Thucydidês: the latter historian may probably himself have heard the original speech.

“I continue, Athenians, to adhere to the same conviction, that we must not yield to the Peloponnesians,—though I know that men are in one mood when they sanction the resolution to go to war, and in another when actually in the contest,—their judgments then depending upon the turn of events. I have only to repeat now what I have said on former occasions,—and I adjure you who follow my views to adhere to what we jointly resolve, though the result should be partially unfavorable: or else, not to take credit for wisdom in the event of success.[187] For it is very[p. 108] possible that the contingencies of events may depart more from all reasonable track than the counsels of man: such are the unexpected turns which we familiarly impute to fortune. The Lacedæmonians have before now manifested their hostile aims against us, but on this last occasion more than ever. While the truce prescribes that we are to give and receive amicable satisfaction for our differences, and each to retain what we possess,—they not only have not asked for such satisfaction, but will not receive it when tendered by us: they choose to settle complaints by war and not by discussion: they have got beyond the tone of complaint, and are here already with that of command. For they enjoin us to withdraw from Potidæa, to leave Ægina free, and to rescind the decree against the Megarians: nay, these last envoys are even come to proclaim to us, that we must leave all the Greeks free. Now let none of you believe, that we shall be going to war about a trifle, if we refuse to rescind the Megarian decree,—which they chiefly put forward, as if its repeal would avert the war,—let none of you take blame to yourselves as if we had gone to war about a small matter. For this small matter contains in itself the whole test and trial of your mettle: if ye yield it, ye will presently have some other greater exaction put upon you, like men who have already truckled on one point from fear: whereas if ye hold out stoutly, ye will make it clear to them that they must deal with you more upon a footing of equality.”[188]

Periklês then examined the relative strength of parties and the chances of war. The Peloponnesians were a self-working population, with few slaves, and without wealth, either private or public; they had no means of carrying on distant or long-continued war: they were ready to expose their persons, but not at all ready to contribute from their very narrow means:[189] in a border-war, or a single land battle, they were invincible, but for systematic warfare against a power like Athens, they had neither competent headship, nor habits of concert and punctuality, nor money to profit[p. 109] by opportunities, always rare and accidental, for successful attack. They might, perhaps, establish a fortified post in Attica, but it would do little serious mischief; while at sea, their inferiority and helplessness would be complete, and the irresistible Athenian navy would take care to keep it so. Nor would they be able to reckon on tempting away the able foreign seamen from Athenian ships by means of funds borrowed from Olympia or Delphi:[190] for besides that the mariners of the dependent islands would find themselves losers even by accepting a higher pay, with the certainty of Athenian vengeance afterwards,—Athens herself would suffice to man her fleet in case of need, with her own citizens and metics: she had within her own walls steersmen and mariners better as well as more numerous than all Greece besides. There was but one side on which Athens was vulnerable: Attica unfortunately was not an island,—it was exposed to invasion and ravage. To this the Athenians must submit, without committing the imprudence of engaging a land battle to avert it: they had abundant lands out of Attica, insular as well as continental, to supply their wants, and they could in their turn, by means of their navy, ravage the Peloponnesian territories, whose inhabitants had no subsidiary lands to recur to.[191]

“Mourn not for the loss of land and houses (continued the orator): reserve your mourning for men: houses and land acquire not men, but men acquire them.[192] Nay, if I thought I could prevail upon you, I would exhort you to march out and ravage them yourselves, and thus show to the Peloponnesians that, for them at least, ye will not truckle. And I could exhibit many further grounds for confidently anticipating success, if ye will only be[p. 110] willing not to aim at increased dominion when we are in the midst of war, and not to take upon yourselves new self-imposed risks; for I have ever been more afraid of our own blunders than of the plans of our enemy.[193] But these are matters for future discussion, when we come to actual operations: for the present let us dismiss these envoys with the answer: That we will permit the Megarians to use our markets and harbors, if the Lacedæmonians on their side will discontinue their (xenêlasy or) summary expulsions of ourselves and our allies from their own territory,—for there is nothing in the truce to prevent either one or the other: that we will leave the Grecian cities autonomous, if we had them as autonomous at the time when the truce was made,—and as soon as the Lacedæmonians shall grant to their allied cities autonomy such as each of them shall freely choose, not such as is convenient to Sparta: that while we are ready to give satisfaction according to the truce, we will not begin war, but will repel those who do begin it. Such is the reply at once just and suitable to the dignity of this city. We ought to make up our minds that war is inevitable: the more cheerfully we accept it, the less vehement shall we find our enemies in their attack: and where the danger is greatest, there also is the final honor greatest, both for a state and for a private citizen. Assuredly our fathers, when they bore up against the Persians,—having no such means as we possess to start from, and even compelled to abandon all that they did possess,—both repelled the invader and brought matters forward to our actual pitch, more by advised operation than by good fortune, and by a daring courage greater than their real power. We ought not to fall short of them: we must keep off our enemies in every way, and leave an unimpaired power to our successors.”[194]

These animating encouragements of Periklês carried with them the majority of the assembly, so that answer was made to the envoys, such as he recommended, on each of the particular points in debate. It was announced to them, moreover, on the general[p. 111] question of peace or war, that the Athenians were prepared to discuss all the grounds of complaint against them, pursuant to the truce, by equal and amicable arbitration,—but that they would do nothing under authoritative demand.[195] With this answer the envoys returned to Sparta, and an end was put to negotiation.

It seems evident, from the account of Thucydidês, that the Athenian public was not brought to this resolution without much reluctance, and great fear of the consequences, especially destruction of property in Attica: and that a considerable minority took opposition on the Megarian decree,—the ground skilfully laid by Sparta for breaking the unanimity of her enemy, and strengthening the party opposed to Periklês. But we may also decidedly infer from the same historian,—especially from the proceedings of Corinth and Sparta, as he sets them forth,—that Athens could not have avoided the war without such an abnegation, both of dignity and power as no nation under any government will ever submit to, and as would have even left her without decent security for her individual rights. To accept the war tendered to her, was a matter not merely of prudence but of necessity: the tone of exaction assumed by the Spartan envoys would have rendered concession a mere evidence of weakness and fear. As the account of Thucydidês bears out the judgment of Periklês on this important point,[196] so it also shows us that Athens was not less in the right upon the received principles of international dealing. It was not Athens, as the Spartans[197] them[p. 112]selves afterwards came to feel, but her enemies, who broke the provisions of the truce, by encouraging the revolt of Potidæa, and by promising invasion of Attica: it was not Athens, but her enemies, who, after thus breaking the truce, made a string of exorbitant demands, in order to get up as good a case as possible for war.[198] The case made out by Periklês, justifying the war on grounds both of right and prudence, is in all its main points borne out by the impartial voice of Thucydidês. And though it is perfectly true, that the ambition of Athens had been great, and the increase of her power marvellous, during the thirty-five years between the repulse of Xerxes and the thirty years’ truce,—it is not less true that by that truce she lost very largely, and that she acquired nothing to compensate such loss during the fourteen years between the truce and the Korkyræan alliance. The policy of Periklês had not been one of foreign aggrandizement, or of increasing vexation and encroachment towards other Grecian powers: even the Korkyræan alliance was noway courted by him, and was in truth accepted with paramount regard to the obligations of the existing truce: while the circumstances out of which that alliance grew, testify a more forward ambition on the part of Corinth than on that of Athens, to appropriate to herself the Korkyræan naval force. It is common to ascribe the Peloponnesian war to the ambition of Athens, but this is a partial view of the case. The aggressive sentiment, partly fear, partly hatred, was on the side of the Peloponnesians, who were not ignorant that Athens desired the continuance of peace, but were resolved not to let her stand as she was at the conclusion of the thirty years’ truce; it was their purpose to attack her and break down her empire, as dangerous, wrongful, and anti-Hellenic. The war was thus partly a contest of principle, involving the popular proclamation of the right of every Grecian state to autonomy, against Athens: partly a contest of power, wherein Spartan and Corinthian ambition was not less conspicuous, and far more aggressive in the beginning, than Athenian.

[p. 113]

Conformably to what is here said, the first blow of the war was struck, not by Athens, but against her. After the decisive answer given to the Spartan envoys, taken in conjunction with the previous proceedings, and the preparations actually going on among the Peloponnesian confederacy,—the truce could hardly be said to be still in force, though there was no formal proclamation of rupture. A few weeks passed in restricted and mistrustful intercourse;[199] though individuals who passed the borders did not think it necessary to take a herald with them, as in time of actual war. Had the excess of ambition been on the side of Athens compared with her enemies, this was the time for her to strike the first blow, carrying with it of course great probability of success, before their preparations were completed. But she remained strictly within the limits of the truce, and the disastrous series of mutual aggressions, destined to tear in pieces the entrails of Hellas, was opened by her enemy and her neighbor.

The little town of Platæa, still hallowed by the memorable victory over the Persians, as well as by the tutelary consecration received from Pausanias, was the scene of this unforeseen enterprise. It stood in Bœotia, immediately north of Kithæron; on the borders of Attica on one side, and of the Theban territory on the other, from which it was separated by the river Asôpus: the distance between Platæa and Thebes being about seventy stadia, or a little more than eight miles. Though Bœotian by descent, the Platæans were completely separated from the Bœotian league, and in hearty alliance, as well as qualified communion of civil rights, with the Athenians, who had protected them against the bitter enmity of Thebes, for a period of time now nearly three generations. But in spite of this long prescription, the Thebans, as chiefs of the Bœotian league, still felt themselves wronged by the separation of Platæa: and an oligarchical faction of wealthy Platæans espoused their cause,[200] with a[p. 114] view of subverting the democratical government of the town, of destroying its leaders, their political rivals, and of establishing an oligarchy with themselves as the chiefs. Naukleidês, and others of this faction, entered into a secret conspiracy with Eurymachus and the oligarchy of Thebes: to both it appeared a tempting prize, since war was close at hand, to take advantage of this ambiguous interval, before watches had been placed, and the precautions of a state of war commenced, and to surprise the town of Platæa in the night: moreover, a period of religious festival was chosen, in order that the population might be most completely off their guard.[201] Accordingly, on a rainy night towards the close of March 431 B.C.,[202] a body of rather more than three hundred Theban hoplites, commanded by two of the Bœotarchs, Pythangelus, and Diemporus, and including Eurymachus in the ranks, presented themselves at the gate of Platæa during the first sleep of the citizens: Naukleidês and his partisans opened the gate and conducted them to the agora, which they reached and occupied in military order without the least resistance. The best part of the Theban military force was intended to arrive at Platæa by break of day, in order to support them.[203]

[p. 115]

Naukleidês and his friends, following the instincts of political antipathy, were eager to conduct the Thebans to the houses of their opponents, the democratical leaders, in order that the latter might be seized or despatched. But to this the Thebans would not consent: believing themselves now masters of the town, and certain of a large reinforcement at daylight, they thought they could overawe the citizens into an apparently willing acquiescence in their terms, without any actual violence: they wished, moreover, rather to soften and justify, than to aggravate, the gross public wrong already committed. Accordingly their herald was directed to invite, by public proclamation, all Platæans who were willing to return to their ancient sympathies of race, and to the[p. 116] Bœotian confederacy, that they should come forth and take station as brethren in the armed ranks of the Thebans. And the Platæans, suddenly roused from sleep by the astounding news that their great enemy was master of the town, supposed amidst the darkness that the number of assailants was far greater than the reality: so that in spite of their strong attachment to Athens, they thought their case hopeless, and began to open negotiations. But as they soon found out, in spite of the darkness, as the discussion proceeded, that the real numbers of the Thebans were not greater than could be dealt with,—they speedily took courage and determined to attack them; establishing communication with each other by breaking through the walls of their private houses, in order that they might not be detected in moving about in the streets or ways,[204]—and forming barricades with wagons across such of these ways as were suitable. A little before daybreak, when their preparations were fully completed, they sallied forth from their houses to the attack, and immediately came to close quarters with the Thebans. The latter, still fancying themselves masters of the town, and relying upon a satisfactory close to the discussions when daylight should arrive, now found themselves surprised in their turn, and under great disadvantages: for they had been out all night under a heavy rain,—they were in a town which they did not know, with narrow, crooked, and muddy ways, such as they would have had difficulty in[p. 117] finding even by daylight. Nevertheless, on finding themselves suddenly assailed, they got as well as they could into close order, and repelled the Platæans two or three times: but the attack was still repeated, with loud shouts, while the women also screamed, and howled, and threw tiles from the flat-roofed houses, until at length the Thebans became dismayed and broken. But flight was not less difficult than resistance; for they could not find their way out of the city, and even the gate by which they entered, the only one open, had been closed by a Platæan citizen, who thrust into it the point of a javelin in place of the peg whereby the bar was commonly held fast. Dispersed about the city, and pursued by men who knew every inch of the ground, some ran to the top of the wall, and jumped down on the outside, most of them perished in the attempt,—a few others escaped through an unguarded gate, by cutting through the bar with a hatchet which a woman gave to them,—while the greater number of them ran into the open doors of a large barn or building in conjunction with the wall, mistaking these doors for an approach to the town-gate. They were here blocked up without the chance of escape, and the Platæans at first thought of setting fire to the building: but at length a convention was concluded, whereby they, as well as all the other Thebans in the city, agreed to surrender at discretion.[205]

Had the reinforcements from Thebes arrived at the expected hour, this disaster would have been averted. But the heavy rain and dark night retarded their whole march, while the river Asôpus was so much swollen as to be with difficulty fordable: so that before they reached the gates of Platæa, their comrades within were either slain or captured. Which fate had befallen them, the Thebans without could not tell: but they immediately resolved to seize what they could find, persons as well as property, in the Platæan territory,—no precautions having been taken as yet to guard against the perils of war by keeping within the walls,—in order that they might have something to exchange for such Thebans as were prisoners. Before this step could be executed, however, a herald came forth from the town to remonstrate with them upon their unholy proceeding in having so[p. 118] flagrantly violated the truce, and especially to warn them not to do any wrong without the walls. If they retired without inflicting farther mischief, their prisoners within should be given up to them; if otherwise, these prisoners would be slain immediately. A convention having been concluded and sworn to on this basis, the Thebans retired without any active measures. Such at least was the Theban account of what preceded their retirement: but the Platæans gave a very different statement; denying that they had made any categorical promise or sworn any oath,—and affirming that they had engaged for nothing, except to suspend any decisive step with regard to the prisoners until discussion had been entered into to see if a satisfactory agreement could be concluded.

As Thucydidês records both of these statements, without intimating to which of the two he himself gave the preference, we may presume that both of them found credence with respectable persons. The Theban story is undoubtedly the most probable: but the Platæans appear to have violated the understanding, even upon their own construction of it. For no sooner had the Thebans retired, than they (the Platæans) hastily brought in their citizens and the best of their movable property within the walls, and then slew all their prisoners forthwith; without even entering into the formalities of negotiation. The prisoners thus put to death, among whom was Eurymachus himself, were one hundred and eighty in number.[206]

[p. 119]

On the first entrance of the Theban assailants at night, a messenger had started from Platæa to carry the news to Athens: a second messenger followed him to report the victory and capture of the prisoners, as soon as it had been achieved. The Athenians sent back a herald without delay, enjoining the Platæans to take no step respecting the prisoners until consultation should be had with Athens. Periklês doubtless feared what turned out to be the fact: for the prisoners had been slain before his messenger could arrive. Apart from the terms of the convention, and looking only to the received practice of ancient warfare, their destruction could not be denounced as unusually cruel, though the Thebans, when fortune was in their favor, chose to designate it as such,[207]—but impartial contemporaries would notice, and the Athenians in particular would deeply lament, the glaring impolicy of the act. For Thebes, the best thing of all would of course be to get back her captured citizens forthwith: but next to that, the least evil would be to hear that they had been put to death. In the hands of the Athenians and Platæans, they would have been the means of obtaining from her much more valuable sacrifices than their lives, considered as a portion of Theban power, were worth: so strong was the feeling of sympathy for imprisoned citizens, several of them men of rank and importance,—as may be seen by the past conduct of Athens after the battle of Korôneia, and by that of Sparta, hereafter to be recounted, after the taking of Sphakteria. The Platæans, obeying the simple instinct of wrath and vengeance, threw away this great political advantage, which the more long-sighted Periklês would gladly have turned to account.

At the time when the Athenians sent their herald to Platæa, they also issued orders for seizing all Bœotians who might be found in Attica; while they lost no time in sending forces to provision Platæa, and placing it on the footing of a garrison[p. 120] town, removing to Athens the old men and sick, with the women and children. No complaint or discussion, respecting the recent surprise, was thought of by either party: it was evident to both that the war was now actually begun,—that nothing was to be thought of except the means of carrying it on,—and that there could be no farther personal intercourse except under the protection of heralds.[208] The incident at Platæa, striking in all its points, wound up both parties to the full pitch of warlike excitement. A spirit of resolution and enterprise was abroad everywhere, especially among those younger citizens, yet unacquainted with the actual bitterness of war, whom the long truce but just broken had raised up; and the contagion of high-strung feeling spread from the leading combatants into every corner of Greece, manifesting itself partly in multiplied oracles, prophecies, and religious legends adapted to the moment:[209] a recent earthquake at Delos, too, as well as various other extraordinary physical phenomena, were construed as prognostics of the awful struggle impending,—a period fatally marked not less by eclipses, earthquakes, drought, famine, and pestilence, than by the direct calamities of war.[210]

An aggression so unwarrantable as the assault on Platæa tended doubtless to strengthen the unanimity of the Athenian assembly, to silence the opponents of Periklês, and to lend additional weight to those frequent exhortations,[211] whereby the great statesman was wont to sustain the courage of his countrymen. Intelligence was sent round to forewarn and hearten up the numerous allies of Athens, tributary as well as free: the latter, with the exception of the Thessalians, Akarnanians, and Messenians at Naupaktus, were all insular,—Chians, Lesbians, Korkyræans, and Zakynthians: to the island of Kephallênia also they sent envoys, but it was not actually acquired to their alliance until a few months afterwards.[212] With the Akarnanians, too, their connection had only been commenced a short time before, seem[p. 121]ingly during the preceding summer, arising out of the circumstances of the town of Argos in Amphilochia. That town, situated on the southern coast of the Ambrakian gulf, was originally occupied by a portion of the Amphilochi, a non-Hellenic tribe, whose lineage apparently was something intermediate between Akarnanians and Epirots. Some colonists from Ambrakia, having been admitted as co-residents with the Amphilochian inhabitants of this town, presently expelled them, and retained the town with its territory exclusively for themselves. The expelled inhabitants, fraternizing with their fellow tribes around as well as with the Akarnanians, looked out for the means of restoration; and in order to obtain it, invited the assistance of Athens. Accordingly, the Athenians sent an expedition of thirty triremes, under Phormio, who, joining the Amphilochians and Akarnanians, attacked and carried Argos, reduced the Ambrakiots to slavery, and restored the town to the Amphilochians and Akarnanians. It was on this occasion that the alliance of the Akarnanians with Athens was first concluded, and that their personal attachment to the Athenian admiral, Phormio, commenced.[213]

The numerous subjects of Athens, whose contributions stood embodied in the annual tribute, were distributed all over and around the Ægean, including all the islands north of Krete, with the exception of Melos and Thera.[214] Moreover, the elements of force collected in Athens itself, were fully worthy of the metropolis of so great an empire. Periklês could make a report to his countrymen of three hundred triremes fit for active service; twelve hundred horsemen and horse-bowmen; sixteen hundred bowmen; and the great force of all, not less than twenty-nine thousand hoplites,—mostly citizens, but in part also metics.[p. 122] The chosen portion of these hoplites, both as to age and as to equipment, were thirteen thousand in number; while the remaining sixteen thousand, including the elder and younger citizens and the metics, did garrison-duty on the walls of Athens and Peiræus,—on the long line of wall which connected Athens both with Peiræus and Phalêrum,—and in the various fortified posts both in and out of Attica. In addition to these large military and naval forces, the city possessed in the acropolis, an accumulated treasure of coined silver amounting to not less than six thousand talents, or about one million four hundred thousand pounds, derived from annual laying by of tribute from the allies and perhaps of other revenues besides: the treasure had at one time been as large as nine thousand seven hundred talents, or about two million two hundred and thirty thousand pounds, but the cost of the recent religious and architectural decorations at Athens, as well as at the siege of Potidæa, had reduced it to six thousand. Moreover, the acropolis and the temples throughout the city were rich in votive offerings, deposits, sacred plate, and silver implements for the processions and festivals, etc., to an amount estimated at more than five hundred talents; while the great statue of the goddess recently set up by Pheidias in the Parthenon, composed of ivory and gold, included a quantity of the latter metal not less than forty talents in weight,—equal in value to more than four hundred talents of silver,—and all of it go arranged that it could be taken off from the statue at pleasure. In alluding to these sacred valuables among the resources of the state, Periklês spoke of them only as open to be so applied in case of need, with the firm resolution of replacing them during the first season of prosperity, just as the Corinthians had proposed to borrow from Delphi and Olympia. Besides the hoard thus actually in hand, there came in a large annual revenue, amounting, under the single head of tribute from the subject allies, to six hundred talents, equal to about one hundred and thirty-eight thousand pounds; besides all other items,[215] making up a general total of at least one thousand talents, or about two hundred and thirty thousand pounds.

To this formidable catalogue of means for war were to be[p. 123] added other items not less important, but which did not admit of being weighed and numbered; the unrivalled maritime skill and discipline of the seamen,—the democratical sentiment, alike fervent and unanimous, of the general mass of citizens,—and the superior development of directing intelligence. And when we consider that the enemy had indeed on his side an irresistible land-force, but scarcely anything else,—few ships, no trained seamen, no funds, no powers of combination or headship,—we may be satisfied that there were ample materials for an orator like Periklês to draw an encouraging picture of the future. He could depict Athens as holding Peloponnesus under siege by means of her navy and a chain of insular posts;[216] and he could guarantee success[217] as the sure reward of persevering, orderly, and well-considered exertion, combined with firm endurance under a period of temporary but unavoidable suffering; and combined too with another condition hardly less difficult for Athenian temper to comply with,—abstinence from seductive speculations of distant enterprise, while their force was required by the necessities of war near home.[218] But such prospects were founded upon a long-sighted calculation, looking beyond immediate loss, and therefore likely to take less hold of the mind of an ordinary citizen,—or at any rate, to be overwhelmed for the moment by the pressure of actual hardship. Moreover, the best which Periklês could promise was a successful resistance,—the unimpaired maintenance of that great empire to which Athens had become accustomed; a policy purely conservative, without any stimulus from the hope of positive acquisition,—and not only without the sympathy of other states, but with feelings of simple acquiescence on the part of most of her allies,—of strong hostility everywhere else.

On all these latter points the position of the Peloponnesian alliance was far more encouraging. So powerful a body of con[p. 124]federates had never been got together,—not even to resist Xerxes. Not only the entire strength of Peloponnesus—except Argeians and Achæans, both of whom were neutral at first, though the Achæan town of Pellênê joined even at the beginning, and all the rest subsequently—was brought together, but also the Megarians, Bœotians, Phocians, Opuntian Lokrians, Ambrakiots, Leukadians, and Anaktorians. Among these, Corinth, Megara, Sikyon, Pellênê, Elis, Ambrakia, and Leukas, furnished maritime force, while the Bœotians, Phocians, and Lokrians supplied cavalry. Many of these cities, however, supplied hoplites besides; but the remainder of the confederates furnished hoplites only. It was upon this latter force, not omitting the powerful Bœotian cavalry, that the main reliance was placed; especially for the first and most important operation of the war,—the devastation of Attica. Bound together by the strongest common feeling of active antipathy to Athens, the whole confederacy was full of hope and confidence for this immediate forward march,—so gratifying at once both to their hatred and to their love of plunder, by the hand of destruction laid upon the richest country in Greece,—and presenting a chance even of terminating the war at once, if the pride of the Athenians should be so intolerably stung as to provoke them to come out and fight. Certainty of immediate success, at the first outset, a common purpose to be accomplished and a common enemy to be put down, and favorable sympathies throughout Greece,—all these circumstances filled the Peloponnesians with sanguine hopes at the beginning of the war: and the general persuasion was, that Athens, even if not reduced to submission by the first invasion, could not possibly hold out more than two or three summers against the repetition of this destructive process.[219] Strongly did this confidence contrast with the proud and resolute submission to necessity, not without desponding anticipations of the result, which reigned among the auditors of Periklês.[220]

[p. 125]

But though the Peloponnesians entertained confident belief of carrying their point by simple land-campaign, they did not neglect auxiliary preparations for naval and prolonged war. The Lacedæmonians resolved to make up the naval force already existing among themselves and their allies to an aggregate of five hundred triremes; chiefly by the aid of the friendly Dorian cities on the Italian and Sicilian coast. Upon each of them a specific contribution was imposed, together with a given contingent; orders being transmitted to them to make such preparations silently without any immediate declaration of hostility against Athens, and even without refusing for the present to admit any single Athenian ship into their harbors.[221] Besides this, the Lacedæmonians laid their schemes for sending envoys to the Persian king, and to other barbaric powers,—a remarkable evidence of melancholy revolution in Grecian affairs, when that potentate, whom the common arm of Greece had so hardly repulsed a few years before, was now invoked to bring the Phenician fleet again into the Ægean for the purpose of crushing Athens.

The invasion of Attica, however, without delay, was the primary object to be accomplished; and for that the Lacedæmonians issued circular orders immediately after the attempted surprise at Platæa. Though the vote of the allies was requisite to sanction any war, yet when that vote had once been passed, the Lacedæmonians took upon themselves to direct all the measures of execution. Two-thirds of the hoplites of each confederate city,—apparently two-thirds of a certain assumed rating, for which the city was held liable in the books of the confederacy, so that the Bœotians and others who furnished cavalry were not constrained to send two-thirds of their entire force of hoplites,—were summoned to be present on a certain day at the isthmus of Corinth, with provisions and equipment for an expedition of some length.[p. 126][222] On the day named, the entire force was found duly assembled, and the Spartan king Archidamus, on taking the command, addressed to the commanders and principal officers from each city a discourse of solemn warning as well as encouragement. His remarks were directed chiefly to abate the tone of sanguine over-confidence which reigned in the army. After adverting to the magnitude of the occasion, the mighty impulse agitating all Greece, and the general good wishes which accompanied them against an enemy so much hated,—he admonished them not to let their great superiority of numbers and bravery seduce them into a spirit of rash disorder. “We are about to attack (he said) an enemy admirably equipped in every way, so that we may be very certain that they will come out and fight,[223] even if they be not now actually on the march to meet us at the border, at least when they see us in their territory ravaging and destroying their property. All men exposed to any unusual indignity become incensed, and act more under passion than under calculation, when it is actually brought under their eyes: much more will the Athenians do so, accustomed as they are to empire, and to ravage the territory of others rather than to see their own so treated.”

Immediately on the army being assembled, Archidamus sent Melêsippus as envoy to Athens to announce the coming invasion, being still in hopes that the Athenians would yield. But a resolution had been already adopted, at the instance of Periklês, to receive neither herald nor envoy from the Lacedæmonians when once their army was on its march: so that Melêsippus was sent back without even being permitted to enter the city. He was ordered to quit the territory before sunset, with guides to accompany him and prevent him from addressing a word to any one. On parting from his guides at the border, Melêsippus exclaimed,[p. 127][224] with a solemnity but too accurately justified by the event: “This day will be the beginning of many calamities to the Greeks.”

Archidamus, as soon as the reception of his last envoy was made known to him, continued his march from the isthmus into Attica,—which territory he entered by the road of Œnoê, the frontier Athenian fortress of Attica towards Bœotia. His march was slow, and he thought it necessary to make a regular attack on the fort of Œnoê, which had been put into so good a state of defence, that after all the various modes of assault, in which the Lacedæmonians were not skilful, had been tried in vain,[225]—and after a delay of several days before the place,—he was compelled to renounce the attempt.

The want of enthusiasm on the part of the Spartan king,—his multiplied delays, first at the isthmus, next in the march, and lastly before Œnoê,—were all offensive to the fiery impatience of the army, who were loud in their murmurs against him. He acted upon the calculation already laid down in his discourse at Sparta,[226]—that the highly cultivated soil of Attica was to be looked upon as a hostage for the pacific dispositions of the Athenians, who would be more likely to yield when devastation, though not yet inflicted, was nevertheless impending, and at their doors. In this point of view, a little delay at the border was no disadvantage; and perhaps the partisans of peace at Athens may have encouraged him to hope that it would enable them to prevail. Nor can we doubt that it was a moment full of difficulty to Periklês at Athens. He had to proclaim to all the proprietors in Attica the painful truth, that they must prepare to see their lands and houses overrun and ruined; and that their persons, families, and movable property, must be brought in for safety either to Athens, or to one of the forts in the territory,—or carried across to one of the neighboring islands. It[p. 128] would, indeed, make a favorable impression when he told them that Archidamus was his own family friend, yet only within such limits as consisted with duty to the city: in case, therefore, the invaders, while ravaging Attica, should receive instruction to spare his own lands, he would forthwith make them over to the state as public property: nor was such a case unlikely to arise, if not from the personal feeling of Archidamus, at least from the deliberate manœuvre of the Spartans, who would seek thus to set the Athenian public against Periklês, as they had tried to do before by demanding the banishment of the sacrilegious Alkmæônid race.[227] But though this declaration would doubtless provoke a hearty cheer, the lesson which he had to inculcate, not simply for admission as prudent policy, but for actual practice, was one revolting alike to the immediate interest, the dignity, and the sympathies of his countrymen. To see their lands all ravaged, without raising an arm to defend them,—to carry away their wives and families, and to desert and dismantle their country residences, as they had done during the Persian invasion,—all in the confidence of compensation in other ways and of remote ultimate success,—were recommendations which, probably, no one but Periklês could have hoped to enforce. They were, moreover, the more painful to execute, inasmuch as the Athenian citizens had very generally retained the habits of residing permanently, not in Athens, but in the various demes of Attica; many of which still preserved their temples, their festivals, their local customs, and their limited municipal autonomy, handed down from the day when they had once been independent of Athens.[228] It was but recently that the farming, the comforts, and the ornaments, thus distributed over Attica, had been restored from the ruin of the Persian invasion, and brought to a higher pitch of improvement than ever; yet the fruits of this labor, and the scenes of these local affections, were now to be again delib[p. 129]erately abandoned to a new aggressor, and exchanged for the utmost privation and discomfort. Archidamus might well doubt whether the Athenians would nerve themselves up to the pitch of resolution necessary for this distressing step, when it came to the actual crisis; and whether they would not constrain Periklês against his will to make propositions for peace. His delay on the border, and postponement of actual devastation, gave the best chance for such propositions being made; though as this calculation was not realized, the army raised plausible complaints against him for having allowed the Athenians time to save so much of their property.

From all parts of Attica the residents flocked within the spacious walls of Athens, which now served as shelter for the houseless, like Salamis, forty-nine years before: entire families with all their movable property, and even with the woodwork of their houses; the sheep and cattle were conveyed to Eubœa and the other adjoining islands.[229] Though a few among the fugitives obtained dwellings or reception from friends, the greater number were compelled to encamp in the vacant spaces of the city and Peiræus, or in and around the numerous temples of the city,—always excepting the acropolis and the eleusinion, which were at all times strictly closed to profane occupants; but even the ground called the Pelasgikon, immediately under the acropolis, which, by an ancient and ominous tradition, was interdicted to human abode,[230] was made use of under the present necessity. Many, too, placed their families in the towers and recesses of[p. 130] the city walls,[231] or in sheds, cabins, tents, or even tubs, disposed along the course of the long walls to Peiræus. In spite of so serious an accumulation of losses and hardships, the glorious endurance of their fathers in the time of Xerxes was faithfully copied, and copied too under more honorable circumstances, since at that time there had been no option possible; whereas, the march of Archidamus might, perhaps, now have been arrested by submissions, ruinous indeed to Athenian dignity, yet not inconsistent with the security of Athens, divested of her rank and power. Such submissions, if suggested as they probably may have been by the party opposed to Periklês, found no echo among the suffering population.

After having spent several days before Œnoê without either taking the fort or receiving any message from the Athenians, Archidamus marched onward to Eleusis and the Thriasian plain,—about the middle of June, eighty days after the surprise of Platæa. His army was of irresistible force, not less than sixty thousand hoplites, according to the statement of Plutarch,[232] or of one hundred thousand, according to others: considering the number of constituent allies, the strong feeling by which they were prompted, and the shortness of the expedition combined with the chance of plunder, even the largest of these two numbers is not incredibly great, if we take it to include not hoplites only, but cavalry and light-armed also: but as Thucydidês, though comparatively full in his account of this march, has stated no general total, we may presume that he had heard none upon which he could rely. As the Athenians had made no movement towards peace, Archidamus anticipated that they would come forth to meet him in the fertile plain of Eleusis and Thria, which was the first portion of territory that he sat down to ravage: but no Athenian force appeared to oppose him, except a detachment of cavalry, who were repulsed in a skirmish near the small lakes called Rheiti. Having laid waste this plain without any serious opposition, Archidamus did not think fit to[p. 131] pursue the straight road which from Thria conducted directly to Athens across the ridge of Mount Ægaleos, but turned off to the westward, leaving that mountain on his right hand until he came to Krôpeia, where he crossed a portion of the line of Ægaleos over to Acharnæ. He was here about seven miles from Athens, on a declivity sloping down into the plain which stretches westerly and northwesterly from Athens, and visible from the city walls: and he here encamped, keeping his army in perfect order for battle, but at the same time intending to damage and ruin the place and its neighborhood. Acharnæ was the largest and most populous of all the demes in Attica, furnishing no less than three thousand hoplites to the national line, and flourishing as well by its corn, vines, and olives, as by its peculiar abundance of charcoal-burning from the forests of ilex on the neighboring hills: moreover, if we are to believe Aristophanês, the Acharnian proprietors were not merely sturdy “hearts of oak,” but peculiarly vehement and irritable.[233] It illustrates the condition of a Grecian territory under invasion, when we find this great deme, which could not have contained less than twelve thousand free inhabitants of both sexes and all ages, with at least an equal number of slaves, completely deserted. Archidamus calculated that when the Athenians actually saw his troops so close to their city, carrying fire and sword over their wealthiest canton, their indignation would become uncontrollable, and they would march out forthwith to battle. The Acharnian proprietors especially, he thought, would be foremost in inflaming this temper, and insisting upon protection to their own properties,—or, if the remaining citizens refused to march out along with them, they would, after having been thus left undefended to ruin, become discontented and indifferent to the general weal.[234]

Though his calculation was not realized, it was, nevertheless, founded upon most rational grounds. What Archidamus antic[p. 132]ipated was on the point of happening, and nothing prevented it, except the personal ascendency of Periklês, strained to its very utmost. So long as the invading army was engaged in the Thriasian plain, the Athenians had some faint hope that it might—like Pleistoanax, fourteen years before—advance no farther into the interior: but when it came to Acharnæ, within sight of the city walls,—when the ravagers were actually seen destroying buildings, fruit-trees, and crops, in the plain of Athens, a sight strange to every Athenian eye except to those very old men who recollected the Persian invasion,—the exasperation of the general body of citizens rose to a pitch never before known. The Acharnians first of all, next the youthful citizens generally,—became madly clamorous for arming and going forth to fight. Knowing well their own great strength, but less correctly informed of the superior strength of the enemy, they felt confident that victory was within their reach. Groups of citizens were everywhere gathered together,[235] angrily debating the critical question of the moment; while the usual concomitants of excited feeling,—oracles and prophecies of diverse tenor, many of them, doubtless, promising success against the enemy at Acharnæ,—were eagerly caught up and circulated.

In this inflamed temper of the Athenian mind, Periklês was naturally the great object of complaint and wrath. He was denounced as the cause of all the existing suffering: he was reviled as a coward for not leading out the citizens to fight, in his capacity of general: the rational convictions as to the necessity of the war and the only practicable means of carrying it on, which his repeated speeches had implanted, seemed to be altogether forgotten.[236] This burst of spontaneous discontent was, of course, fomented by the numerous political enemies of Periklês, and particularly by Kleon,[237] now rising into importance as an opposition-speaker; whose talent for invective was thus first exercised under the auspices of the high aristocratical party, as[p. 133] well as of an excited public. But no manifestations, however violent, could disturb either the judgment or the firmness of Periklês. He listened, unmoved, to all the declarations made against him, and resolutely refused to convene any public assembly, or any meeting invested with an authorized character, under the present irritated temper of the citizens.[238] It appears that he, as general, or rather the board of ten generals, among whom he was one, must have been invested constitutionally with the power, not only of calling the ekklesia when they thought fit, but also of preventing it from meeting,[239] and of postponing even those regular meetings which commonly took place at fixed times, four times in the prytany. No assembly, accordingly, took place, and the violent exasperation of the people was thus prevented from realizing itself in any rash public resolution. That Periklês should have held firm against this raging force, is but one among the many honorable points in his political character; but it is far less wonderful than the fact, that his refusal to call the ekklesia was efficacious to prevent the ekklesia from being held. The entire body of Athenians were now assembled within the walls, and if he refused to convoke the ekklesia, they might easily have met in the Pnyx, without him; for which it would not have been difficult at such a juncture to provide plausible justification. The inviolable respect which the Athenian people manifested on this occasion for the forms of their democratical constitution—assisted doubtless by their long-established esteem for Periklês, yet opposed to an excitement alike intense and pervading, and to a demand apparently reasonable, in so far as regarded the calling of an assembly for discussion,—is one of the most memorable incidents in their history.

While Periklês thus decidedly forbade any general march out for battle, he sought to provide as much employment as possible for the compressed eagerness of the citizens. The cavalry were[p. 134] sent out, together with the Thessalian cavalry their allies, for the purpose of restraining the excursions of the enemy’s light troops, and protecting the lands near the city from plunder.[240] At the same time, he fitted out a powerful expedition, which sailed forth to ravage Peloponnesus, even while the invaders were yet in Attica.[241] Archidamus, after having remained engaged in the devastation of Acharnæ long enough to satisfy himself that the Athenians would not hazard a battle, turned away from Athens in a northwesterly direction towards the demes between Mount Brilêssus and Mount Parnês, on the road passing through Dekeleia. The army continued ravaging these districts until their provisions were exhausted, and then quitted Attica by the northwestern road near Orôpus, which brought them into Bœotia. The Oropians were not Athenians, but dependent upon Athens, and the district of Græa, a portion of their territory, was laid waste; after which, the army dispersed and retired back to their respective homes.[242] It would seem that they quitted Attica towards the end of July, having remained in the country between thirty and forty days.

Meanwhile, the Athenian expedition under Karkinus, Prôteas, and Sokratês, joined by fifty Korkyræan ships, and by some other allies, sailed round Peloponnesus, landing in various parts to inflict damage, and among other places, at Methônê (Modon) on the southwestern peninsula of the Lacedæmonian territory.[p. 135][243] The place, neither strong nor well-garrisoned, would have been carried with little difficulty, had not Brasidas the son of Tellis,—a gallant Spartan now mentioned for the first time, but destined to great celebrity afterwards,—who happened to be on guard at a neighboring post, thrown himself into it with one hundred men by a rapid movement, before the dispersed Athenian troops could be brought together to prevent him. He infused such courage into the defenders of the place that every attack was repelled, and the Athenians were forced to reëmbark,—an act of prowess which procured for him the first public honors bestowed by the Spartans during this war. Sailing northward along the western coast of Peloponnesus, the Athenians landed again on the coast of Elis, a little south of the promontory called Cape Ichthys: they ravaged the territory for two days, defeating both the troops in the neighborhood and three hundred chosen men from the central Eleian territory. Strong winds on a harborless coast now induced the captains to sail with most of the troops round Cape Ichthys, in order to reach the harbor of Pheia on the northern side of it; while the Messenian hoplites, marching by land across the promontory, attacked Pheia and carried it by assault. When the fleet arrived, all were reëmbarked,—the full force of Elis being under march to attack them: they then sailed northward, landing on various other spots to commit devastation, until they reached Sollium, a Corinthian settlement on the coast of Akarnania. They captured this place, which they handed over to the inhabitants of the neighboring Akarnanian town of Palærus,—as well as Astakus, from whence they expelled the despot Euarchus, and enrolled the town as a member of the Athenian alliance. From hence they passed over to Kephallênia, which they were fortunate enough also to acquire as an ally of Athens without any compulsion,—with its four distinct towns, or districts, Palês, Kranii, Samê, and Pionê. These various operations took up near three months from about the beginning of July, so that they returned to Athens towards the close of September,[244]—the beginning of the winter half of the year, according to the distribution of Thucydidês.

Nor was this the only maritime expedition of the summer:[p. 136] thirty more triremes, under Kleopompus, were sent through the Euripus to the Lokrian coast opposite to the northern part of Eubœa. Some disembarkations were made, whereby the Lokrian towns of Thronium and Alopê were sacked, and farther devastation inflicted: while a permanent garrison was planted, and a fortified post erected, in the uninhabited island of Atalanta, opposite to the Lokrian coast, in order to restrain privateers from Opus and the other Lokrian towns in their excursions against Eubœa.[245] It was farther determined to expel the Æginetan inhabitants from Ægina, and to occupy the island with Athenian colonists. This step was partly rendered prudent by the important position of the island midway between Attica and Peloponnesus; but a concurrent motive, and probably the stronger motive, was the gratification of ancient antipathy and revenge against a people who had been among the foremost in provoking the war and in inflicting upon Athens so much suffering. The Æginetans with their wives and children were all put on shipboard and landed in Peloponnesus,—where the Spartans permitted them to occupy the maritime district and town of Thyrea, their last frontier towards Argos: some of them, however, found shelter in other parts of Greece. The island was made over to a detachment of Athenian kleruchs, or citizen proprietors, sent thither by lot.[246]

To the sufferings of the Æginetans, which we shall hereafter find still more deplorably aggravated, we have to add those of the Megarians. Both had been most zealous in kindling the war, but upon none did the distress of war fall so heavily. Both probably shared the premature confidence felt among the Peloponnesian confederacy, that Athens could never hold out more than a year or two,—and were thus induced to overlook their own undefended position against her. Towards the close of September, the full force of Athens, citizens and metics, marched into the Megarid under Periklês, and laid waste the greater part of the territory: while they were in it, the hundred ships which had been circumnavigating Peloponnesus, having arrived at Ægina on their return, went and joined their fellow-citizens in[p. 137] the Megarid, instead of going straight home. The junction of the two formed the largest Athenian force that had ever yet been seen together: there were ten thousand citizen hoplites, independent of three thousand others who were engaged in the siege of Potidæa, and three thousand metic hoplites,—besides a large number of light troops.[247] Against so large a force the Megarians could of course make no head, and their territory was all laid waste, even to the city walls. For several years of the war, the Athenians inflicted this destruction once, and often twice in the same year: a decree was proposed in the Athenian ekklesia by Charinus, though perhaps not carried, to the effect that the stratêgi every year should swear, as a portion of their oath of office,[248] that they would twice invade and ravage the Megarid. As the Athenians at the same time kept the port of Nisæa blocked up, by means of their superior naval force and of the neighboring coast of Salamis, the privations imposed on the Megarians became extreme and intolerable.[249] Not merely their corn and fruits, but even their garden vegetables near the city, were rooted up and destroyed, and their situation seems often to have been that of a besieged city hard pressed by famine. Even in the time of Pausanias, so many centuries afterwards, the miseries of the town during these years were remembered and communicated to him, being assigned as the reason why one of their most memorable statues had never been completed.[250]

To these various military operations of Athens during the course of this summer, some other measures of moment are to be added; and Thucydidês also notices an eclipse of the sun which modern astronomical calculations refer to the third of August: had this eclipse happened three months earlier, immediately before the entrance of the Peloponnesians into Attica, it might[p. 138] probably have been construed as an unfavorable omen, and caused the postponement of the scheme. Expecting a prolonged struggle, the Athenians now made arrangements for placing Attica in a permanent state of defence, both by sea and land; what these arrangements were, we are not told in detail, but one of them was sufficiently remarkable to be named particularly. They set apart one thousand talents out of the treasure in the acropolis as an inviolable reserve, not to be touched except on the single contingency of a hostile naval force about to assail the city, with no other means at hand to defend it. They further enacted, that if any citizen should propose, or any magistrate put the question, in the public assembly, to make any different application of this reserve, he should be punishable with death. Moreover, they resolved every year to keep back one hundred of their best triremes, and trierarchs to command and equip them, for the same special necessity.[251] It may be doubted whether this latter provision was placed under the same stringent sanction, or observed with the same rigor, as that concerning the money, which latter was not departed from until the twentieth year of the war, after all the disasters of the Sicilian expedition, and on the terrible news of the revolt of Chios. It was on that occasion that the Athenians first repealed the sentence of capital punishment against the proposer of this forbidden change, and next appropriated the money to meet the then imminent peril of the commonwealth.[252]

The resolution here taken about this sacred reserve, and the rigorous sentence interdicting contrary propositions, is pronounced by Mr. Mitford to be an evidence of the indelible barbarism of democratical government.[253] But we must recollect, first, that the[p. 139] sentence of capital punishment was one which could hardly by possibility come into execution; for no citizen would be so mad as to make the forbidden proposition, while this law was in force. Whoever desired to make it, would first begin by proposing to repeal the prohibitory law, whereby he would incur no danger, whether the assembly decided in the affirmative or negative; and if he obtained an affirmative decision, he would then, and then only, proceed to move the reappropriation of the fund. To speak the language of English parliamentary procedure, he would first move the suspension or abrogation of the standing order whereby the proposition was forbidden,—next, he would move the proposition itself: in fact, such was the mode actually pursued, when the thing at last came to be done.[254] But though the capital sentence could hardly come into effect, the proclamation of it in terrorem had a very distinct meaning. It expressed the deep and solemn conviction which the people entertained of the importance of their own resolution about the reserve,—it forewarned all assemblies and all citizens to come, of the danger of diverting it to any other purpose,—it surrounded the reserve with an artificial sanctity, which forced every man who aimed at the reappropriation to begin with a preliminary proposition, formidable on the very face of it, as removing a guarantee which previous assemblies had deemed of immense value, and opening the door to a contingency which they had looked upon as treasonable. The proclamation of a lighter punishment, or a simple prohibition without any definite sanction whatever, would neither have announced the same emphatic conviction, nor produced the same deterring effect. The assembly of 431 B.C. could not in any way enact laws which subsequent assemblies could not reverse; but it could so frame its enactments, in cases of peculiar solemnity, as to make its authority strongly felt upon the judgment of its successors, and to prevent them from entertaining motions for repeal, except under necessity at once urgent and[p. 140] obvious. Far from thinking that the law now passed at Athens displayed barbarism, either in the end or in the means, I consider it principally remarkable for its cautious and long-sighted view of the future,—qualities the exact reverse of barbarism,—and worthy of the general character of Periklês, who probably suggested it. Athens was just entering into a war which threatened to be of indefinite length, and was certain to be very costly. To prevent the people from exhausting all their accumulated fund, and to place them under a necessity of reserving something against extreme casualties, was an object of immense importance. Now the particular casualty, which Periklês, assuming him to be the proposer, named as the sole condition of touching this one thousand talents, might be considered as of all others the most improbable, in the year 431 B.C. So immense was then the superiority of the Athenian naval force, that to suppose it defeated, and a Peloponnesian fleet in full sail for Peiræus, was a possibility which it required a statesman of extraordinary caution to look forward to, and which it is truly wonderful that the people generally could have been induced to contemplate. Once tied up to this purpose, however, the fund lay ready for any other terrible emergency: and we shall find the actual employment of it incalculably beneficial to Athens, at a moment of the gravest peril, when she could hardly have protected herself without some such special resource. The people would scarcely have sanctioned so rigorous an economy, had it not been proposed to them at a period so early in the war that their available reserve was still much larger: but it will be forever to the credit of their foresight as well as constancy, that they should first have adopted such a precautionary measure, and afterwards adhered to it for nineteen years, under severe pressure for money, until at length a case arose which rendered farther abstinence really, and not constructively, impossible.

To display their force and take revenge by disembarking and ravaging parts of Peloponnesus, was doubtless of much importance to Athens during this first summer of the war: though it might seem that the force so employed was quite as much needed in the conquest of Potidæa, which still remained under blockade,—and of the neighboring Chalkidians in Thrace, still in revolt. It was during the course of this summer that a prospect opened[p. 141] to Athens of subduing these towns, through the assistance of Sitalkês, king of the Odrysian Thracians. That prince had married the sister of Nymphodôrus, a citizen of Abdêra; who engaged to render him, and his son Sadokus, allies of Athens. Sent for to Athens and appointed proxenus of Athens at Abdêra, which was one of the Athenian subject allies, Nymphodôrus made this alliance, and promised, in the name of Sitalkês, that a sufficient Thracian force should be sent to aid Athens in the reconquest of her revolted towns: the honor of Athenian citizenship was at the same time conferred upon Sadokus.[255] Nymphodôrus farther established a good understanding between Perdikkas of Macedonia and the Athenians, who were persuaded to restore to him Therma, which they had before taken from him. The Athenians had thus the promise of powerful aid against the Chalkidians and Potidæans: yet the latter still held out, with little prospect of immediate surrender. Moreover, the town of Astakus, in Akarnania, which the Athenians had captured during the summer, in the course of their expedition round Peloponnesus, was recovered during the autumn by the deposed despot Euarchus, assisted by forty Corinthian triremes and one thousand hoplites. This Corinthian armament, after restoring Euarchus, made some unsuccessful descents both upon other parts of Akarnania and upon the island of Kephallênia: in the latter, they were entrapped into an ambuscade, and obliged to return home with considerable loss.[256]

It was towards the close of this autumn also that Periklês, chosen by the people for the purpose, delivered the funeral oration at the public interment of those warriors who had fallen during the campaign. The ceremonies of this public token of respect have already been described in a former chapter, on occasion of the conquest of Samos: but that which imparted to the present scene an imperishable interest, was the discourse of the chosen statesman and orator; probably heard by Thucydidês himself, and in substance reproduced. A large crowd of citizens and foreigners, of both sexes and all ages, accompanied the funeral procession from Athens to the suburb called the outer Kerameikus, where Periklês, mounted upon a lofty stage pre[p. 142]pared for the occasion, closed the ceremony with his address. The law of Athens not only provided this public funeral and commemorative discourse, but also assigned maintenance at the public expense to the children of the slain warriors until they attained military age: a practice which was acted on throughout the whole war, though we have only the description and discourse belonging to this single occasion.[257]

The eleven chapters of Thucydidês which comprise this funeral speech are among the most memorable relics of antiquity; considering that under the language and arrangement of the historian,—always impressive, though sometimes harsh and peculiar, like the workmanship of a powerful mind, misled by a bad or an unattainable model,—we possess the substance and thoughts of the illustrious statesman. A portion of it, of course, is and must be common-place, belonging to all discourses composed for a similar occasion. Yet this is true only of a comparatively small portion: much of it is peculiar, and every way worthy of Periklês,—comprehensive, rational, and full, not less of sense and substance than of earnest patriotism. It thus forms a strong contrast with the jejune, though elegant, rhetoric of other harangues, mostly[258] not composed for actual delivery; and[p. 143] deserves, in comparison with the funeral discourses remaining to us from Plato, and the Pseudo-Demosthenês, and even Lysias, the honorable distinction which Thucydidês claims for his own history,—an ever-living possession, and not a mere show-piece for the moment.

In the outset of his speech, Periklês distinguishes himself from those who had preceded him in the same function of public orator, by dissenting from the encomiums which it had been customary to bestow on the law enjoining these funeral harangues: he thinks that the publicity of the funeral itself, and the general demonstrations of respect and grief by the great body of citizens, tell more emphatically in token of gratitude to the brave dead, when the scene passes in silence, than when it is translated into the words of a speaker, who may easily offend, either by incompetency or by apparent feebleness, or perhaps even by unseasonable exaggeration. Nevertheless, the custom having been embodied in law, and elected as he has been by the citizens, he comes forward to discharge the duty imposed upon him in the best manner he can.[259]

One of the remarkable features in this discourse is, its business-like, impersonal character: it is Athens herself who undertakes to commend and decorate her departed sons, as well as to hearten up and admonish the living.

After a few words on the magnitude of the empire, and on the glorious efforts as well as endurance whereby their forefathers and they had acquired it,—Periklês proceeds to sketch the plan of life, the constitution, and the manners, under which such achievements were brought about.[260]

[p. 144]

“We live under a constitution such as noway to envy the laws of our neighbors,—ourselves an example to others, rather than mere imitators. It is called a democracy, since its permanent aim tends towards the many and not towards the few: in regard to private matters and disputes, the laws deal equally with every man: while looking to public affairs and to claims of individual influence, every man’s chance of advancement is determined, not by party-favor but by real worth, according as his reputation stands in his own particular department: nor does poverty, or obscure station, keep him back,[261] if he really has the means of benefiting the city. And our social march is free, not merely in regard to public affairs, but also in regard to intolerance of each other’s diversity of daily pursuits. For we are not angry with our neighbor for what he may do to please himself, nor do we ever put on those sour looks,[262] which, though they do no positive damage, are not the less sure to offend. Thus conducting our private social intercourse with reciprocal indulgence, we are restrained from wrong on public matters by fear and reverence of our magistrates for the time being, and of our laws,—especially such laws as are instituted for the protection of wrongful sufferers, and even such others as, though not written, are enforced by a common sense of shame. Besides this, we have provided for our minds numerous recreations from toil, partly by our customary solemnities of sacrifice and festival throughout the year, partly by the elegance of our private establishments,—the daily charm of which banishes the sense of discomfort. From the magnitude of our city, the products of the whole earth are brought to us, so that our enjoyment of foreign luxuries is as[p. 145] much our own and assured as those which we grow at home. In respect to training for war, we differ from our opponents (the Lacedæmonians) on several material points. First, we lay open our city as a common resort: we apply no xenêlasy to exclude even an enemy either from any lesson or any spectacle, the full view of which he may think advantageous to him; for we trust less to manœuvres and quackery than to our native bravery, for warlike efficiency. Next, in regard to education, while the Lacedæmonians, even from their earliest youth, subject themselves to an irksome exercise for the attainment of courage, we, with our easy habits of life, are not less prepared than they, to encounter all perils within the measure of our strength. The proof of this is, that the Peloponnesian confederates do not attack us one by one, but with their whole united force; while we, when we attack them at home, overpower for the most part all of them who try to defend their own territory. None of our enemies has ever met and contended with our entire force; partly in consequence of our large navy,—partly from our dispersion in different simultaneous land-expeditions. But when they chance to be engaged with any part of it, if victorious, they pretend to have vanquished us all,—if defeated, they pretend to have been vanquished by all.

“Now, if we are willing to brave danger, just as much under an indulgent system as under constant toil, and by spontaneous courage as much as under force of law,—we are gainers in the end, by not vexing ourselves beforehand with sufferings to come, yet still appearing in the hour of trial not less daring than those who toil without ceasing.

“In other matters, too, as well as in these, our city deserves admiration. For we combine elegance of taste with simplicity of life, and we pursue knowledge without being enervated:[263] we employ wealth, not for talking and ostentation, but as a real help[p. 146] in the proper season: nor is it disgraceful to any one who is poor to confess his poverty, though he may rather incur reproach for not actually keeping himself out of poverty. The magistrates who discharge public trusts fulfil their domestic duties also,—the private citizen, while engaged in professional business, has competent knowledge on public affairs: for we stand alone in regarding the man who keeps aloof from these latter, not as harmless, but as useless. Moreover, we always hear and pronounce on public matters, when discussed by our leaders,—or perhaps strike out for ourselves correct reasonings about them: far from accounting discussion an impediment to action, we complain only if we are not told what is to be done before it becomes our duty to do it. For, in truth, we combine in the most remarkable manner these two qualities,—extreme boldness in execution, with full debate beforehand on that which we are going about: whereas, with others, ignorance alone imparts boldness,—debate introduces hesitation. Assuredly, those men are properly to be regarded as the stoutest of heart, who, knowing most precisely both the terrors of war and the sweets of peace, are still not the less willing to encounter peril.

“In fine, I affirm that our city, considered as a whole, is the schoolmistress of Greece;[264] while, viewed individually, we enable the same man to furnish himself out and suffice to himself in the greatest variety of ways, and with the most complete grace and refinement. This is no empty boast of the moment, but genuine reality: and the power of the city, acquired through the dispositions just indicated, exists to prove it. Athens alone, of all cities, stands forth in actual trial greater than her reputation: her enemy, when he attacks her, will not have his pride wounded by suffering defeat from feeble hands,—her subjects will not think themselves degraded as if their obedience were paid to an unworthy superior.[265] Having thus put forward our power, not[p. 147] uncertified, but backed by the most evident proofs, we shall be admired not less by posterity than by our contemporaries. Nor do we stand in need either of Homer or of any other panegyrist, whose words may for the moment please, while the truth when known would confute their intended meaning: we have compelled all land and sea to become accessible to our courage, and have planted everywhere imperishable monuments of our kindness as well as of our hostility.

“Such is the city on behalf of which these warriors have nobly died in battle, vindicating her just title to unimpaired rights,[266]—and on behalf of which all of us here left behind must willingly toil. It is for this reason that I have spoken at length concerning the city, at once to draw from it the lesson that the conflict is not for equal motives between us and enemies who possess nothing of the like excellence,—and to demonstrate by proofs the truth of my encomium pronounced upon her.”

Periklês pursues at considerable additional length the same tenor of mixed exhortation to the living and eulogy of the dead; with many special and emphatic observations addressed to the relatives of the latter, who were assembled around and doubtless very near him. But the extract which I have already made is so long, that no farther addition would be admissible: yet it was impossible to pass over lightly the picture of the Athenian commonwealth in its glory, as delivered by the ablest citizen of the age. The effect of the democratical constitution, with its diffused and equal citizenship, in calling forth not merely strong attachment, but painful self-sacrifice, on the part of all Athenians,—is nowhere more forcibly insisted upon than in the words above cited of Periklês, as well as in others afterwards: “Contemplating as you do daily before you the actual power of the state, and becoming passionately attached to it, when you conceive its full[p. 148] greatness, reflect that it was all acquired by men of daring, acquainted with their duty, and full of an honorable sense of shame in their actions,”[267]—such is the association which he presents between the greatness of the state as an object of common passion, and the courage, intelligence, and mutual esteem, of individual citizens, as its creating and preserving causes: poor as well as rich being alike interested in the partnership.

But the claims of patriotism, though put forward as essentially and deservedly paramount, are by no means understood to reign exclusively, or to absorb the whole of the democratical activity. Subject to these, and to those laws and sanctions which protect both the public and individuals against wrong, it is the pride of Athens to exhibit a rich and varied fund of human impulse,—an unrestrained play of fancy and diversity of private pursuit, coupled with a reciprocity of cheerful indulgence between one individual and another, and an absence even of those “black looks” which so much embitter life, even if they never pass into enmity of fact. This portion of the speech of Periklês deserves peculiar attention, because it serves to correct an assertion, often far too indiscriminately made, respecting antiquity as contrasted with modern societies,—an assertion that the ancient societies sacrificed the individual to the state, and that only in modern times has individual agency been left free to the proper extent. This is preëminently true of Sparta: it is also true, in a great degree, of the ideal societies depicted by Plato and Aristotle: but it is pointedly untrue of the Athenian democracy, nor can we with any confidence predicate it of the major part of the Grecian cities.

I shall hereafter return to this point when I reach the times of the great speculative philosophers: in the mean time I cannot pass over this speech of Periklês without briefly noticing the inference which it suggests, to negative the supposed exorbitant[p. 149] interference of the state with individual liberty, as a general fact among the ancient Greek republics. There is no doubt that he has present to his mind a comparison with the extreme narrowness and rigor of Sparta, and that therefore his assertions of the extent of positive liberty at Athens must be understood as partially qualified by such contrast. But even making allowance for this, the stress which he lays upon the liberty of thought and action at Athens, not merely from excessive restraint of law, but also from practical intolerance between man and man, and tyranny of the majority over individual dissenters in taste and pursuit,—deserves serious notice, and brings out one of those points in the national character upon which the intellectual development of the time mainly depended. The national temper was indulgent in a high degree to all the varieties of positive impulses: the peculiar promptings in every individual bosom were allowed to manifest themselves and bear fruit, without being suppressed by external opinion, or trained into forced conformity with some assumed standard: antipathies against any of them formed no part of the habitual morality of the citizen. While much of the generating causes of human hatred was thus rendered inoperative, and while society was rendered more comfortable, more instructive, and more stimulating,—all its germs of productive fruitful genius, so rare everywhere, found in such an atmosphere the maximum of encouragement. Within the limits of the law, assuredly as faithfully observed at Athens as anywhere in Greece, individual impulse, taste, and even eccentricity, were accepted with indulgence, instead of being a mark as elsewhere for the intolerance of neighbors or of the public. This remarkable feature in Athenian life will help us in a future chapter to explain the striking career of Sokratês, and it farther presents to us, under another face, a great part of that which the censors of Athens denounced under the name of “democratical license.” The liberty and diversity of individual life in that city were offensive to Xenophon,[268] Plato, and Aristotle,—attached either[p. 150] to the monotonous drill of Sparta, or to some other ideal standard, which, though much better than the Spartan in itself, they were disposed to impress upon society with a heavy-handed uniformity. That liberty of individual action, not merely from the over-restraints of law, but from the tyranny of jealous opinion, such as Periklês depicts in Athens, belongs more naturally to a democracy, where there is no select one or few to receive worship and set the fashion, than to any other form of government. But it is very rare even in democracies: nor can we dissemble the fact that none of the governments of modern times, democratical, aristocratical, or monarchical, presents any thing like the picture of generous tolerance towards social dissent, and spontaneity of individual taste, which we read in the speech of the Athenian statesman. In all of them, the intolerance of the national opinion cuts down individual character to one out of a few set types, to which every person, or every family, is constrained to adjust itself, and beyond which all exceptions meet either with hatred or with derision. To impose upon men such restraints either of law or of opinion as are requisite for the security and comfort of society, but to encourage rather than repress the free play of individual impulse subject to those limits,—is an ideal, which, if it was ever approached at Athens, has certainly never been attained, and has indeed comparatively been little studied or cared for in any modern society.

Connected with this reciprocal indulgence of individual diversity, was not only the hospitable reception of all strangers at Athens, which Periklês contrasts with the xenêlasy or jealous expulsion practised at Sparta,—but also the many-sided activity, bodily and mental, visible in the former, so opposite to that narrow range of thought, exclusive discipline of the body and never-ending preparation for war, which formed the system of the latter. His assertion that Athens was equal to Sparta, even in her own solitary excellence,—efficiency on the field of battle,—is doubtless untenable; but not the less impressive is his sketch of that multitude of concurrent impulses which at this same time agitated and impelled the Athenian mind,—the strength[p. 151] of one not implying the weakness of the remainder: the relish for all pleasures of art and elegance, and the appetite for intellectual expansion, coinciding in the same bosom with energetic promptitude as well as endurance: abundance of recreative spectacles, yet noway abating the cheerfulness of obedience even to the hardest calls of patriotic duty: that combination of reason and courage which encountered danger the more willingly from having discussed and calculated it beforehand: lastly, an anxious interest as well as a competence of judgment in public discussion and public action, common to every citizen rich and poor, and combined with every man’s own private industry. So comprehensive an ideal of many-sided social development, bringing out the capacities for action and endurance, as well as those for enjoyment, would be sufficiently remarkable, even if we supposed it only existing in the imagination of a philosopher: but it becomes still more so when we recollect that the main features of it at least were drawn from the fellow-citizens of the speaker. It must be taken, however, as belonging peculiarly to the Athens of Periklês and his contemporaries; nor would it have suited either the period of the Persian war, fifty years before, or that of Demosthenês, seventy years afterwards. At the former period, the art, the letters, and the philosophy, were as yet backward, while even the active energy and democratical stimulus, though very powerful, had not been worked up to the pitch which they afterwards reached: at the latter period, although the intellectual manifestations of Athens subsist in full or even increased vigor, we shall find the personal enterprise and energetic spirit of her citizens materially abated. As the circumstances, which I have already recounted, go far to explain the previous upward movement, so those which fill the coming chapters, containing the disasters of the Peloponnesian war, will be found to explain still more completely the declining tendency shortly about to commence. Athens was brought to the brink of entire ruin, from which it is surprising that she recovered at all,—but noway surprising that she recovered at the expense of a considerable loss of personal energy in the character of her citizens.

And thus the season at which Periklês delivered his discourse lends to it an additional and peculiar pathos. It was delivered[p. 152] at a time when Athens was as yet erect and at her maximum for though her real power was, doubtless, much diminished, compared with the period before the thirty years’ truce, yet the great edifices and works of art, achieved since then, tended to compensate that loss, in so far as the sense of greatness was concerned; and no one, either citizen or enemy, considered Athens as having at all declined. It was delivered at the commencement of the great struggle with the Peloponnesian confederacy, the coming hardships of which Periklês never disguised either to himself or to his fellow-citizens, though he fully counted upon eventual success. Attica had been already invaded; it was no longer “the unwasted territory,” as Euripidês had designated it in his tragedy Medea,[269] represented three or four months before the march of Archidamus,—and a picture of Athens in her social glory was well calculated both to rouse the pride and nerve the courage of those individuals citizens, who had been compelled once, and would be compelled again and again, to abandon their country-residence and fields for a thin tent or confined hole in the city.[p. 153][270] Such calamities might, indeed, be foreseen: but there was one still greater calamity, which, though actually then impending, could not be foreseen: the terrific pestilence which will be recounted in the coming chapter. The bright colors, and tone of cheerful confidence, which pervade the discourse of Periklês, appear the more striking from being in immediate antecedence to the awful description of this distemper: a contrast to which Thucydidês was, doubtless, not insensible, and which is another circumstance enhancing the interest of the composition.


At the close of one year after the attempted surprise of Platæa by the Thebans, the belligerent parties in Greece remained in an unaltered position as to relative strength. Nothing decisive had been accomplished on either side, either by the invasion of Attica, or by the flying descents round the coast of Peloponnesus: in spite of mutual damage inflicted,—doubtless, in the greatest measure upon Attica,—no progress was yet made towards the fulfilment of those objects which had induced the Peloponnesians to go to war. Especially, the most pressing among all their wishes—the relief of Potidæa—was noway advanced; for the Athenians had not found it necessary to relax the blockade of that city. The result of the first year’s operations had thus been to disappoint the hopes of the Corinthians and the other ardent instigators of war, while it justified the anticipations both of Periklês and of Archidamus.

A second devastation of Attica was resolved upon for the commencement of spring; and measures were taken for carrying it all over that territory, since the settled policy of Athens[p. 154] not to hazard a battle with the invaders was now ascertained. About the end of March, or beginning of April, the entire Peloponnesian force—two-thirds from each confederate city, as before—was assembled under the command of Archidamus, and marched into Attica. This time they carried the work of systematic destruction, not merely over the Thriasian plain and the plain immediately near to Athens, as before; but also to the more southerly portions of Attica, down even as far as the mines of Laurium. They traversed and ravaged both the eastern and the western coast, remaining not less than forty days in the country. They found the territory deserted as before, all the population having retired within the walls.[271]

In regard to this second invasion, Periklês recommended the same defensive policy as he had applied to the first; and, apparently, the citizens had now come to acquiesce in it, if not willingly, at least with a full conviction of its necessity. But a new visitation had now occurred, diverting their attention from the invader, though enormously aggravating their sufferings. A few days after Archidamus entered Attica, a pestilence, or epidemic sickness, broke out unexpectedly at Athens.

It appears that this terrific disorder had been raging for some time throughout the regions round the Mediterranean; having begun, as was believed, in Æthiopia,—thence passing into Egypt and Libya, and overrunning a considerable portion of Asia under the Persian government: about sixteen years before, too, there had been a similar calamity in Rome and in various parts of Italy. Recently, it had been felt in Lemnos and some other islands of the Ægean, yet seemingly not with such intensity as to excite much notice generally in the Grecian world: at length it passed to Athens, and first showed itself in the Peiræus. The progress of the disease was as rapid and destructive as its appearance had been sudden; whilst the extraordinary accumulation of people within the city and long walls, in consequence of the presence of the invaders in the country, was but too favorable to every form of contagion. Families crowded together in close cabins and places of temporary shelter,[272]—throughout a city constructed,[p. 155] like most of those in Greece, with little regard to the conditions of salubrity,—and in a state of mental chagrin from the forced abandonment and sacrifice of their properties in the country, transmitted the disorder with fatal facility from one to the other. Beginning as it did about the middle of April, the increasing heat of summer farther aided the disorder, the symptoms of which, alike violent and sudden, made themselves the more remarked because the year was particularly exempt from maladies of every other description.[273]

Of this plague,—or, more properly, eruptive typhoid fever,[p. 156][274] distinct from, yet analogous to, the smallpox,—a description no less clear than impressive has been left by the historian Thucydidês, himself not only a spectator but a sufferer. It is not one of the least of his merits, that his notice of the symptoms, given at so early a stage of medical science and observation, is such as to instruct the medical reader of the present age, and to enable the malady to be understood and identified. The observations, with which that notice is ushered in, deserve particular attention. “In respect to this distemper (he says), let every man, physician or not, say what he thinks respecting the source from whence it may probably have arisen, and respecting the causes which he deems sufficiently powerful to have produced so great a revolution. But I, having myself had the distemper, and having seen others suffering under it, will state what it actually was, and will indicate, in addition, such other matters, as will furnish any man, who lays them to heart, with knowledge and the means of calculation beforehand, in case the same misfortune should ever again occur.”[275] To record past facts, as a basis for rational pre[p. 157]vision in regard to the future,—the same sentiment which Thucydidês mentions in his preface,[276] as having animated him to the composition of his history,—was at that time a duty so little understood, that we have reason to admire not less the manner in which he performs it in practice, than the distinctness with which he conceives it in theory. We may infer from his language that speculation in his day was active respecting the causes of this plague, according to the vague and fanciful physics and scanty stock of ascertained facts, which was all that could then be consulted. By resisting the itch of theorising from one of those loose hypotheses which then appeared plausibly to explain everything, he probably renounced the point of view from which most credit and interest would be derivable at the time: but his simple and precise summary of observed facts carries with it an imperishable value, and even affords grounds for imagining, that he was no stranger to the habits and training of his contemporary, Hippokratês, and the other Asklepiads of Cos.[277]

[p. 158]

It is hardly within the province of an historian of Greece to repeat after Thucydidês the painful enumeration of symptoms, violent in the extreme, and pervading every portion of the bodily system, which marked this fearful disorder. Beginning in Peiræus, it quickly passed into the city, and both the one and the other was speedily filled with sickness and suffering, the like of which had never before been known. The seizures were perfectly sudden, and a large proportion of the sufferers perished, after deplorable agonies, on the seventh or on the ninth day: others, whose strength of constitution carried them over this period, found themselves the victims of exhausting and incurable diarrhœa afterwards: with others again, after traversing both these stages, the distemper fixed itself in some particular member, the eyes, the genitals, the hands, or the feet, which were rendered permanently useless, or in some cases amputated, even where the patient himself recovered. There were also some whose recovery was attended with a total loss of memory, so that they no more knew themselves or recognized their friends. No treatment or remedy appearing, except in accidental cases, to produce any beneficial effect, the physicians or surgeons whose aid was invoked became completely at fault; while trying their accustomed means without avail, they soon ended by catching the malady themselves and perishing: nor were the charms and[p. 159] incantations[278] to which the unhappy patient resorted, likely to be more efficacious. While some asserted that the Peloponnesians had poisoned the cisterns of water, others referred the visitation to the wrath of the gods, and especially to Apollo, known by hearers of the Iliad as author of pestilence in the Greek host before Troy. It was remembered that this Delphian god had promised the Lacedæmonians, in reply to their application immediately before the war, that he would assist them whether invoked or uninvoked,—and the disorder now raging was ascribed to the intervention of their irresistible ally: while the elderly men farther called to mind an oracular verse sung in the time of their youth: “The Dorian war will come, and pestilence along with it.”[279] Under the distress which suggested, and was reciprocally[p. 160] aggravated by, these gloomy ideas, prophets were consulted, and supplications with solemn procession were held at the temples, to appease the divine wrath.

When it was found that neither the priest nor the physician could retard the spread, or mitigate the intensity, of the disorder, the Athenians abandoned themselves to utter despair, and the space within the walls became a scene of desolating misery. Every man attacked with the malady at once lost his courage,—a state of depression, itself among the worst features of the case, which made him lie down and die, without the least attempt to seek for any preservatives. And though, at first, friends and relatives lent their aid to tend the sick with the usual family sympathies, yet so terrible was the number of these attendants who perished, “like sheep,” from such contact, that at length no man would thus expose himself; while the most generous spirits, who persisted longest in the discharge of their duty, were carried off in the greatest numbers.[280] The patient was thus left to die alone and unheeded: sometimes all the inmates of a house were swept away one after the other, no man being willing to go near it: desertion on one hand, attendance on the other, both tended to aggravate the calamity. There remained only those who, having had the disorder and recovered, were willing to tend the sufferers. These men formed the single exception to the all-pervading misery of the time,—for the disorder seldom attacked any one twice, and when it did, the second attack was never fatal. Elate with their own escape, they deemed themselves out of the reach of all disease, and were full of compassionate kindness for others whose sufferings were just beginning. It was from them, too, that the principal attention to the bodies of deceased victims proceeded: for such was the state of dismay and sorrow, that even the nearest relatives neglected the sepulchral duties, sacred beyond all others in the eyes of a Greek. Nor is there any circumstance which conveys to us so vivid an idea of the prevalent agony and despair, as when we read, in the words of an eye-witness, that the deaths took place among this close-packed crowd[p. 161] without the smallest decencies of attention,[281]—that the dead and the dying lay piled one upon another, not merely in the public roads, but even in the temples, in spite of the understood defilement of the sacred building,—that half-dead sufferers were seen lying round all the springs, from insupportable thirst,—that the numerous corpses thus unburied and exposed, were in such a condition, that the dogs which meddled with them died in consequence, while no vultures or other birds of the like habits ever came near. Those bodies which escaped entire neglect, were burnt or buried[282] without the customary mourning, and with unseemly carelessness. In some cases, the bearers of a body, passing by a funeral pile on which another body was burning, would put their own there to be burnt also;[283] or perhaps, if the pile was prepared ready for a body not yet arrived, would deposit their own upon it, set fire to the pile, and then depart. Such indecent confusion would have been intolerable to the feelings of the Athenians, in any ordinary times.

To all these scenes of physical suffering, death, and reckless despair, was superadded another evil, which affected those who were fortunate enough to escape the rest. The bonds both of law and morality became relaxed, amidst such total uncertainty of every man both for his own life, and that of others. Men cared not to abstain from wrong, under circumstances in which punishment was not likely to overtake them,—nor to put a check upon their passions, and endure privations in obedience even to[p. 162] their strongest conviction, when the chance was so small of their living to reap reward or enjoy any future esteem. An interval short and sweet, before their doom was realized—before they became plunged in the wide-spread misery which they witnessed around, and which affected indiscriminately the virtuous and the profligate—was all they looked to enjoy; embracing with avidity the immediate pleasures of sense, as well as such positive gains, however ill-gotten, as could be made the means of procuring them, and throwing aside all thought both of honor or of long-sighted advantage. Life and property were alike ephemeral, nor was there any hope left but to snatch a moment of enjoyment, before the outstretched hand of destiny should fall upon its victims.

The melancholy picture of society under the pressure of a murderous epidemic, with its train of physical torments, wretchedness, and demoralization, has been drawn by more than one eminent author, but by none with more impressive fidelity and conciseness than by Thucydidês,[284] who had no predecessor, and nothing but the reality to copy from. We may remark that, amidst all the melancholy accompaniments of the time, there are no human sacrifices, such as those offered up at Carthage during pestilence to appease the anger of the gods,—there are no cruel persecutions against imaginary authors of the disease, such as those against the Untori (anointers of doors) in the plague of Milan in 1630.[285] Three years altogether did this calamity desolate Athens: continuously, during the entire second and third years of the war,—after which, followed a period of marked abatement for a year and a half: but it then revived again, and lasted for another year, with the same fury as at first. The pub[p. 163]lic loss, over and above the private misery, which this unexpected enemy inflicted upon Athens, was incalculable. Out of twelve hundred horsemen, all among the rich men of the state, three hundred died of the epidemic; besides four thousand and four hundred hoplites out of the roll formerly kept, and a number of the poorer population so great as to defy computation.[286] No efforts of the Peloponnesians could have done so much to ruin Athens, or to bring the war to a termination such as they desired: and the distemper told the more in their favor, as it never spread at all into Peloponnesus, though it passed from Athens to some of the more populous islands.[287] The Lacedæmonian army was withdrawn from Attica somewhat earlier than it would otherwise have been, for fear of taking the contagion.[288]

But it was while the Lacedæmonians were yet in Attica, and during the first freshness of the terrible malady, that Periklês equipped and conducted from Peiræus an armament of one hundred triremes, and four thousand hoplites to attack the coasts of Peloponnesus: three hundred horsemen were also carried in some horse-transports, prepared for the occasion out of old triremes. To diminish the crowd accumulated in the city, was doubtless of beneficial tendency, and perhaps those who went aboard, might consider it as a chance of escape to quit an infected home. But unhappily they carried the infection along with them, which desolated the fleet not less than the city, and crippled all its efforts. Reinforced by fifty ships of war from Chios and Lesbos, the Athenians first landed near Epidaurus in Peloponnesus, ravaging the territory, and making an unavailing attempt upon the city: next, they made like incursions on the more southerly portions of the Argolic peninsula,—Trœzen, Halieis, and Hermionê; and lastly attacked and captured Prasiæ, on the eastern coast of Laconia. On returning to Athens, the same armament[p. 164] was immediately conducted, under Agnon and Kleopompus, to press the siege of Potidæa, the blockade of which still continued without any visible progress. On arriving there, an attack was made on the walls by battering engines, and by the other aggressive methods then practised; but nothing whatever was achieved. In fact, the armament became incompetent for all serious effort, from the aggravated character which the distemper here assumed, communicated by the soldiers fresh from Athens, even to those who had before been free from it at Potidæa. So frightful was the mortality, that out of the four thousand hoplites under Agnon, no less than ten hundred and fifty died in the short space of forty days. The armament was brought back in this melancholy condition to Athens, while the reduction of Potidæa was left, as before, to the slow course of blockade.[289]

On returning from the expedition against Peloponnesus, Periklês found his countrymen almost distracted[290] with their manifold sufferings. Over and above the raging epidemic, they had just gone over Attica and ascertained the devastations committed by the invaders throughout all the territory—except the Marathonian[291] Tetrapolis and Dekeleia; districts spared, as we are told, through indulgence founded on an ancient legendary sympathy—during their long stay of forty days. The rich had found their comfortable mansions and farms, the poor their modest cottages, in the various demes, torn down and ruined. Death,[292] sickness, loss of property, and despair of the future, now rendered the Athenians angry and intractable to the last degree; and they vented their feelings against Periklês, as the cause, not merely of the war, but also of all that they were now enduring. Either with or without his consent, they sent envoys to Sparta to open negotiations for peace, but the Spartans turned a deaf ear to the proposition. This new disappointment rendered them still more furious against Periklês, whose long-standing political enemies now doubtless found strong sympathy in their denuncia[p. 165]tions of his character and policy. That unshaken and majestic firmness, which ranked first among his many eminent qualities, was never more imperiously required, and never more effectively manifested. In his capacity of stratêgus, or general, he convoked a formal assembly of the people, for the purpose of vindicating himself publicly against the prevailing sentiment, and recommending perseverance in his line of policy. The speeches made by his opponents, assuredly very bitter, are not given by Thucydidês; but that of Periklês himself is set down at considerable length, and a memorable discourse it is. It strikingly brings into relief both the character of the man and the impress of actual circumstances,—an impregnable mind, conscious not only of right purposes, but of just and reasonable anticipations, and bearing up with manliness, or even defiance, against the natural difficulty of the case, heightened by an extreme of incalculable misfortune. He had foreseen,[293] while advising the war originally, the probable impatience of his countrymen under its first hardships, but he could not foresee the epidemic by which that impatience had been exasperated into madness: and he now addressed them, not merely with unabated adherence to his own deliberate convictions, but also in a tone of reproachful remonstrance against their unmerited change of sentiment towards him,—seeking at the same time to combat that uncontrolled despair which, for the moment, overlaid both their pride and their patriotism. Far from humbling himself before the present sentiment, it is at this time that he sets forth his titles to their esteem in the most direct and unqualified manner, and claims the continuance of that which they had so long accorded, as something belonging to him by acquired right.

His main object, throughout this discourse, is to fill the minds of his audience with patriotic sympathy for the weal of the entire city, so as to counterbalance the absorbing sense of private woe. If the collective city flourishes, he argues, private misfortunes may at least be borne: but no amount of private prosperity will avail, if the collective city falls; a proposition literally true in ancient times, and under the circumstances of ancient warfare, though less true at present. “Distracted by domestic calamity,[p. 166] ye are now angry both with me, who advised you to go to war, and with yourselves, who followed the advice. Ye listened to me, considering me superior to others in judgment, in speech, in patriotism, and in incorruptible probity,[294]—nor ought I now to be treated as culpable for giving such advice, when in point of fact the war was unavoidable, and there would have been still greater danger in shrinking from it. I am the same man, still unchanged,—but ye, in your misfortunes, cannot stand to the convictions which ye adopted when yet unhurt. Extreme and unforeseen, indeed, are the sorrows which have fallen upon you: yet, inhabiting as ye do a great city, and brought up in dispositions suitable to it, ye must also resolve to bear up against the utmost pressure of adversity, and never to surrender your dignity. I have often explained to you that ye have no reason to doubt of eventual success in the war, but I will now remind you, more emphatically than before, and even with a degree of ostentation suitable as a stimulus to your present unnatural depression,—that your naval force makes you masters, not only of your allies, but of the entire sea,[295]—one half of the visible field for action and employment. Compared with so vast a power as this, the temporary use of your houses and territory is a mere trifle,—an ornamental accessory not worth considering; and this, too, if ye preserve your freedom, ye will quickly recover. It was your fathers who first gained this empire, without any of the advantages which ye now enjoy; ye must not disgrace yourselves by losing what they acquired. Delighting as ye all do in the honor and empire enjoyed by the city, ye must not shrink from the toils whereby alone that honor is sustained: moreover, ye now fight, not merely for freedom instead of slavery, but for empire[p. 167] against loss of empire, with all the perils arising out of imperial unpopularity. It is not safe for you now to abdicate, even if ye chose to do so; for ye hold your empire like a despotism,—unjust perhaps in the original acquisition, but ruinous to part with when once acquired. Be not angry with me, whose advice ye followed in going to war, because the enemy have done such damage as might be expected from them; still less on account of this unforeseen distemper: I know that this makes me an object of your special present hatred, though very unjustly, unless ye will consent to give me credit also for any unexpected good luck which may occur. Our city derives its particular glory from unshaken bearing up against misfortune: her power, her name, her empire of Greeks over Greeks, are such as have never before been seen: and if we choose to be great, we must take the consequence of that temporary envy and hatred which is the necessary price of permanent renown. Behave ye now in a manner worthy of that glory: display that courage which is essential to protect you against disgrace at present, as well as to guarantee your honor for the future. Send no farther embassy to Sparta, and bear your misfortunes without showing symptoms of distress.”[296]

The irresistible reason, as well as the proud and resolute bearing of this discourse, set forth with an eloquence which it was not possible for Thucydidês to reproduce,—together with the age and character of Periklês,—carried the assent of the assembled people; who, when in the Pnyx, and engaged according to habit on public matters, would for a moment forget their private sufferings in considerations of the safety and grandeur of Athens: possibly, indeed, those sufferings, though still continuing, might become somewhat alleviated when the invaders quitted Attica, and when it was no longer indispensable for all the population to confine itself within the walls. Accordingly, the assembly resolved that no farther propositions should be made for peace, and that the war should be prosecuted with vigor. But though the public resolution thus adopted showed the ancient habit of deference to the authority of Periklês, the sentiments[p. 168] of individuals taken separately were still those of anger against him, as the author of that system which had brought them into so much distress. His political opponents—Kleon, Simmias, or Lakratidas, perhaps all three in conjunction—took care to provide an opportunity for this prevalent irritation to manifest itself in act, by bringing an accusation against him before the dikastery. The accusation is said to have been preferred on the ground of pecuniary malversation, and ended by his being sentenced to pay a considerable fine, the amount of which is differently reported,—fifteen, fifty, or eighty talents, by different authors.[297] The accusing party thus appeared to have carried[p. 169] their point, and to have disgraced, as well as excluded from reëlection, the veteran statesman. But the event disappointed their expectations: the imposition of the fine not only satiated all the irritation of the people against him, but even occasioned a serious reaction in his favor, and brought back as strongly as ever the ancient sentiment of esteem and admiration. It was quickly found that those who had succeeded Periklês as generals, neither possessed nor deserved in an equal degree, the public confidence, and he was accordingly soon reëlected, with as much power and influence as he had ever in his life enjoyed.[298]

But that life—long, honorable, and useful—had already been prolonged considerably beyond the sixtieth year, and there were but too many circumstances, besides the recent fine, which tended to hasten as well as to embitter its close. At the very moment when Periklês was preaching to his countrymen, in a tone almost reproachful, the necessity of manful and unabated devotion to the common country, in the midst of private suffering,—he was himself among the greatest of sufferers, and most hardly pressed to set the example of observing his own precepts. The epidemic carried off not merely his two sons, the only two legitimate, Xanthippus and Paralus, but also his sister, several other relatives, and his best and most useful political friends. Amidst this train of domestic calamities, and in the funeral obsequies of so many of his dearest friends, he remained master of his grief, and maintained his habitual self-command, until the last misfortune,—the death of his favorite son Paralus, which left his house without any legitimate representative to maintain the family and the hereditary sacred rites. On this final blow, though he strove to command himself as before, yet, at the obsequies of the young man, when it became his duty to place a garland on the dead body, his grief became uncontrollable, and he burst out, for the first time of his life, into profuse tears and sobbing.[299]

In the midst of these several personal trials he received the intimation, through Alkibiadês and some other friends, of the restored confidence of the people towards him, and of his re-election to the office of stratêgus: nor was it without difficulty[p. 170] that he was persuaded to present himself again at the public assembly, and resume the direction of affairs. The regret of the people was formally expressed to him for the recent sentence,—perhaps, indeed, the fine may have been repaid to him, or some evasion of it permitted, saving the forms of law,[300]—in the present temper of the city; which was farther displayed towards him by the grant of a remarkable exemption from a law of his own original proposition. He had himself, some years before, been the author of that law, whereby the citizenship of Athens was restricted to persons born both of Athenian fathers and Athenian mothers, under which restriction several thousand persons, illegitimate on the mother’s side, are said to have been deprived of the citizenship, on occasion of a public distribution of corn. Invidious as it appeared to grant, to Periklês singly, an exemption from a law which had been strictly enforced against so many others, the people were now moved not less by compassion than by anxiety to redress their own previous severity. Without a legitimate heir, the house of Periklês, one branch of the great Alkmæônid gens by his mother’s side, would be left deserted, and the continuity of the family sacred rites would be broken,—a misfortune painfully felt by every Athenian family, as calculated to wrong all the deceased members, and provoke their posthumous displeasure towards the city. Accordingly, permission was granted to Periklês to legitimize, and to inscribe in his own gens and phratry his natural son by Aspasia, who bore his own name.[301]

It was thus that Periklês was reinstated in his post of stratêgus, as well as in his ascendency over the public counsels,—seemingly about August or September, 430 B.C. He lived about one year longer, and seems to have maintained his influence as long as his health permitted. Yet we hear nothing of him after this moment, and he fell a victim, not to the violent symptoms of the epidemic, but to a slow and wearing fever,[p. 171][302] which underminded his strength as well as his capacity. To a friend who came to ask after him when in this disease, Periklês replied by showing a charm or amulet which his female relations had hung about his neck,—a proof how low he was reduced, and how completely he had become a passive subject in the hands of others. And according to another anecdote which we read, yet more interesting and equally illustrative of his character,—it was during his last moments, when he was lying apparently unconscious and insensible, that the friends around his bed were passing in review the acts of his life, and the nine trophies which he had erected at different times for so many victories. He heard what they said, though they fancied that he was past hearing, and interrupted them by remarking: “What you praise in my life, belongs partly to good fortune,—and is, at best, common to me with many other generals. But the peculiarity of which I am most proud, you have not noticed,—no Athenian has ever put on mourning on my account.”[303]

Such a cause of self-gratulation, doubtless more satisfactory to recall at such a moment than any other, illustrates that long-sighted calculation, aversion to distant or hazardous enterprise, and economy of the public force, which marked his entire political career; a career long, beyond all parallel, in the history of Athens,—since he maintained a great influence, gradually swelling into a decisive personal ascendency, for between thirty and forty years. His character has been presented in very different lights, by different authors, both ancient and modern, and our materials for striking the balance are not so good as we could wish. But his immense and long-continued ascendency, as well as his unparalleled eloquence, are facts attested not less by his enemies than by his friends,—nay, even more forcibly by the former than by the latter. The comic writers, who hated him, and whose trade it was to deride and hunt down every leading political character, exhaust their powers of illustration in setting forth both the one and the other:[304] Telekleidês, Kratinus, Eupolis,[p. 172] Aristophanês, all hearers and all enemies, speak of him like Olympian Zeus, hurling thunder and lightning,—like Hêraklês and Achilles,—as the only speaker on whose lips persuasion sat, and who left his sting in the minds of his audience: while Plato the philosopher,[305] who disapproved of his political working, and of the moral effects which he produced upon Athens, nevertheless extols his intellectual and oratorical ascendency: “his majestic intelligence,”—in language not less decisive than Thucydidês. There is another point of eulogy, not less valuable, on which the testimony appears uncontradicted: throughout his long career, amidst the hottest political animosities, the conduct of Periklês towards opponents was always mild and liberal.[306] The conscious self-esteem and arrogance of manner with which the contemporary poet Ion reproached him,[307] contrasting it with the unpretending simplicity of his own patron Kimon,—though probably invidiously exaggerated, is doubtless in substance well founded, and those who read the last speech given above out of Thucydidês, will at once recognize in it this attribute. His natural taste, his love of philosophical research, and his unwearied application to public affairs, all contributed to alienate him from ordinary familiarity, and to make him careless, perhaps improperly careless, of the lesser means of conciliating public favor.

But admitting this latter reproach to be well founded, as it seems to be, it helps to negative that greater and graver political crime which has been imputed to him, of sacrificing the permanent well-being and morality of the state to the maintenance of his own political power,—of corrupting the people by distributions of the public money. “He gave the reins to the people (in Plutarch’s words[308]), and shaped his administration for their[p. 173] immediate favor, by always providing at home some public spectacle, or festival, or procession, thus nursing up the city in elegant pleasures,—and by sending out every year sixty triremes, manned by citizen-seamen on full pay, who were thus kept in practice and acquired nautical skill.” Now the charge here made against Periklês, and supported by allegations in themselves honorable rather than otherwise,—of a vicious appetite for immediate popularity, and of improper concessions to the immediate feelings of the people against their permanent interests,—is precisely that which Thucydidês, in the most pointed manner denies; and not merely denies, but contrasts Periklês with his successors in the express circumstances that they did so, while he did not. The language of the contemporary historian[309] well deserves to be cited: “Periklês, powerful from dignity of character as well as from wisdom, and conspicuously above the least tinge of corruption, held back the people with a free hand, and was their real leader instead of being led by them. For not being a seeker of power from unworthy sources, he did not speak with any view to present favor, but had sufficient sense of dignity to contradict[p. 174] them on occasion, even braving their displeasure. Thus, whenever he perceived them insolently and unseasonably confident, he shaped his speeches in such manner as to alarm and beat them down: when again he saw them unduly frightened, he tried to counteract it, and restore them confidence: so that the government was in name a democracy, but in reality an empire exercised by the first citizen in the state. But those who succeeded after his death, being more equal one with another, and each of them desiring preëminence over the rest, adopted the different course of courting the favor of the people, and sacrificing to that object even important state-interests. From whence arose many other bad measures, as might be expected in a great and imperial city, and especially the Sicilian expedition,” etc.

It will be seen that the judgment here quoted from Thucydidês contradicts, in the most unqualified manner, the reproaches commonly made against Periklês, of having corrupted the Athenian people by distributions of the public money, and by giving way to their unwise caprices, for the purpose of acquiring and maintaining his own political power. Nay, the historian particularly notes the opposite qualities,—self-judgment, conscious dignity, indifference to immediate popular applause or wrath, when set against what was permanently right and useful,—as the special characteristic of that great statesman. A distinction might indeed be possible, and Plutarch professes to note such distinction, between the earlier and the later part of his long political career: he began, so that biographer says, by corrupting the people in order to acquire power, but having acquired it, he employed it in an independent and patriotic manner, so that the judgment of Thucydidês, true respecting the later part of his life, would not be applicable to the earlier. This distinction may be to a certain degree well founded, inasmuch as the power of opposing a bold and successful resistance to temporary aberrations of the public mind, necessarily implies an established influence, and can hardly ever be exercised even by the firmest politician during his years of commencement: he is at that time necessarily the adjunct of some party or tendency which he finds already in operation, and has to stand forward actively and assiduously before he can create for himself a separate personal influence. But while we admit the distinction to this extent,[p. 175] there is nothing to warrant us in restricting the encomium of Thucydidês exclusively to the later life of Periklês, or in representing the earlier life as something in pointed contrast with that encomium. Construing fairly what the historian says, he evidently did not so conceive the earlier life of Periklês. Either those political changes which are held by Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch, and others, to demonstrate the corrupting effect of Periklês and his political ascendency,—such as the limitation of the functions of the Areopagus, as well as of the power of the magistrates, the establishment of the numerous and frequent popular dikasteries with regular pay, and perhaps also the assignment of pay to those who attended the ekklesia, the expenditure for public works, religious edifices and ornaments, the diobely (or distribution of two oboli per head to the poorer citizens at various festivals, in order that they might be able to pay for their places in the theatre), taking it as it then stood, etc.,—did not appear to Thucydidês mischievous and corrupting, as these other writers thought them; or else he did not particularly refer them to Periklês.

Both are true, probably, to some extent. The internal political changes at Athens, respecting the Areopagus and the dikasteries, took place when Periklês was a young man, and when he cannot be supposed to have yet acquired the immense personal ascendency which afterwards belonged to him. Ephialtês in fact seems in those early days to have been a greater man than Periklês, if we may judge by the fact that he was selected by his political adversaries for assassination,—so that they might with greater propriety be ascribed to the party with which Periklês was connected, rather than to that statesman himself. But next, we have no reason to presume that Thucydidês considered these changes as injurious, or as having deteriorated the Athenian character. All that he does say as to the working of Periklês on the sentiment and actions of his countrymen, is eminently favorable. He represents the presidency of that statesman as moderate, cautious, conservative, and successful; he describes him as uniformly keeping back the people from rash enterprises, and from attempts to extend their empire,—as looking forward to the necessity of a war, and maintaining the naval, military, and financial forces of the state in constant condition to stand it,[p. 176]—as calculating, with long-sighted wisdom, the conditions on which ultimate success depended. If we follow the elaborate funeral harangue of Periklês, which Thucydidês, since he produces it at length, probably considered as faithfully illustrating the political point of view of that statesman, we shall discover a conception of democratical equality no less rational than generous; an anxious care for the recreation and comfort of the citizens, but no disposition to emancipate them from active obligation, either public or private,—and least of all, any idea of dispensing with such activity by abusive largesses out of the general revenue. The whole picture, drawn by Periklês, of Athens, “as the schoolmistress of Greece,” implies a prominent development of private industry and commerce, not less than of public citizenship and soldiership,—of letters, arts, and recreative varieties of taste.

Though Thucydidês does not directly canvass the constitutional changes effected in Athens under Periklês, yet everything which he does say leads us to believe that he accounted the working of that statesman, upon the whole, on Athenian power as well as on Athenian character, eminently valuable, and his death as an irreparable loss. And we may thus appeal to the judgment of an historian who is our best witness in every conceivable respect, as a valid reply to the charge against Periklês, of having corrupted the Athenian habits, character, and government. If he spent a large amount of the public treasure upon religious edifices and ornaments, and upon stately works for the city,—yet the sum which he left untouched, ready for use at the beginning of the Peloponnesian war, was such as to appear more than sufficient for all purposes of defence, or public safety, or military honor. It cannot be shown of Periklês that he ever sacrificed the greater object to the less,—the permanent and substantially valuable, to the transitory and showy,—assured present possessions, to the lust of new, distant, or uncertain conquests. If his advice had been listened to, the rashness which brought on the defeat of the Athenian Tolmidês, at Korôneia in Bœotia, would have been avoided, and Athens might probably have maintained her ascendency over Megara and Bœotia, which would have protected her territory from invasion, and given a new turn to the subsequent history. Periklês is not to be treated as the author of the[p. 177] Athenian character: he found it with its very marked positive characteristics and susceptibilities, among which, those which he chiefly brought out and improved were the best. The lust of expeditions against the Persians, which Kimon would have pushed into Egypt and Cyprus, he repressed, after it had accomplished all which could be usefully aimed at: the ambition of Athens he moderated rather than encouraged: the democratical movement of Athens he regularized, and worked out into judicial institutions, which became one of the prominent features of Athenian life, and worked, in my judgment, with a very large balance of benefit to the national mind as well as to individual security, in spite of the many defects in their direct character as tribunals. But that point in which there was the greatest difference between Athens, as Periklês found if, and as he left it, is, unquestionably, the pacific and intellectual development,—rhetoric, poetry, arts, philosophical research, and recreative variety. To which if we add, great improvement in the cultivation of the Attic soil,—extension of Athenian trade,—attainment and laborious maintenance of the maximum of maritime skill, attested by the battles of Phormio,—enlargement of the area of complete security by construction of the Long Walls,—lastly, the clothing of Athens in her imperial mantle, by ornaments, architectural and sculptural,—we shall make out a case of genuine progress realized during the political life of Periklês, such as the evils imputed to him, far more imaginary than real, will go but a little way to alloy. How little, comparatively speaking, of the picture drawn by Periklês in his funeral harangue of 431 B.C. would have been correct, if the harangue had been delivered over those warriors who fell at Tanagra, twenty-seven years before!

It has been remarked by M. Boeckh,[310] that Periklês sacrificed the landed proprietors of Attica to the maritime interests and[p. 178] empire of Athens. This is of course founded on the destructive invasions of the country during the Peloponnesian war; for down to the commencement of that war the position of Attic cultivators and proprietors was particularly enviable: and the censure of M. Boeckh, therefore, depends upon the question, how far Periklês contributed to produce, or had it in his power to avert, this melancholy war, in its results so fatal, not merely to Athens, but to the entire Grecian race. Now here again, if we follow attentively the narrative of Thucydidês, we shall see that in the judgment of that historian, not only Periklês did not bring on the war, but he could not have averted it without such concession as Athenian prudence, as well as Athenian patriotism peremptorily forbade: moreover, we shall see, that the calculations on which Periklês grounded his hopes of success if driven to war, were, in the opinion of the historian, perfectly sound and safe. We may even go farther, and affirm, that the administration of Periklês during the fourteen years preceding the war, exhibits a “moderation,” to use the words of Thucydidês,[311] dictated especially by anxiety to avoid raising causes of war; though in the months immediately preceding the breaking out of the war, after the conduct of the Corinthians at Potidæa, and the resolutions of the congress at Sparta, he resisted strenuously all compliance with special demands from Sparta,—demands essentially insincere, and in which partial compliance would have lowered the dignity of Athens without insuring peace. The stories about Pheidias, Aspasia, and the Megarians, even if we should grant that there is some truth at the bottom of them, must, if we follow Thucydidês, be looked upon at worst as concomitants and pretexts, rather than as real causes, of the war: though modern authors, in speaking of Periklês, are but too apt to use expressions which tacitly assume these stories to be well founded.

Seeing then that Periklês did not bring on and could not have averted the Peloponnesian war,—that he steered his course in reference to that event with the long-sighted prudence of one[p. 179] who knew that the safety and the dignity of imperial Athens were essentially interwoven,—we have no right to throw upon him the blame of sacrificing the landed proprietors of Attica. These might, indeed, be excused for complaining, where they suffered so ruinously; but the impartial historian, looking at the whole of the case, cannot admit their complaints as a ground for censuring the Athenian statesman.

The relation of Athens to her allies, the weak point of her position, it was beyond the power of Periklês seriously to amend, probably also beyond his will, since the idea of political incorporation, as well as that of providing a common and equal confederate bond, sustained by effective federal authority between different cities, was rarely entertained even by the best Greek minds.[312] We hear that he tried to summon at Athens a congress of deputies from all cities of Greece, the allies of Athens included;[313] but the scheme could not be brought to bear, in consequence of the reluctance, noway surprising, of the Peloponnesians. Practically, the allies were not badly treated during his administration: and if, among the other bad consequences of the prolonged war, they, as well as Athens, and all other Greeks come to suffer more and more, this depends upon causes with which he is not chargeable, and upon proceedings which departed altogether from his wise and sober calculations. Taking him altogether, with his powers of thought, speech, and action,—his competence, civil and military, in the council as well as in the field,—his vigorous and cultivated intellect, and his comprehensive ideas of a community in pacific and many-sided development,—his incorruptible public morality, caution, and firmness, in a country where all those qualities were rare, and the union of them in the same individual of course much rarer,—we shall find him without a parallel throughout the whole course of Grecian history.

[p. 180]

Under the great mortality and pressure of sickness at Athens, their operations of war naturally languished; while the enemies also, though more active, had but little success. A fleet of one hundred triremes, with one thousand hoplites on board, was sent by the Lacedæmonians under Knêmus to attack Zakynthus, but accomplished nothing beyond devastation of the open parts of the island, and then returned home. And it was shortly after this, towards the month of September, that the Ambrakiots made an attack upon the Amphilochian town called Argos, situated on the southern coast of the gulf of Ambrakia: which town, as has been recounted in the preceding chapter, had been wrested from them two years before by the Athenians, under Phormio, and restored to the Amphilochians and Akarnanians. The Ambrakiots, as colonists and allies of Corinth, were at the same time animated by active enmity to the Athenian influence in Akarnania, and by desire to regain the lost town of Argos. Procuring aid from the Chaonians, and some other Epirotic tribes, they marched against Argos, and after laying waste the territory, endeavored to take the town by assault, but were repulsed, and obliged to retire.[314] This expedition appears to have impressed the Athenians with the necessity of a standing force to protect their interest in those parts; so that in the autumn Phormio was sent with a squadron of twenty triremes to occupy Naupaktus, now inhabited by the Messenians, as a permanent naval station, and to watch the entrance of the Corinthian gulf.[315] We shall find in the events of the succeeding year ample confirmation of this necessity.

Though the Peloponnesians were too inferior in maritime force to undertake formal war at sea against Athens, their single privateers, especially the Megarian privateers from the harbor of Nisæa, were active in injuring her commerce,[316]—and not merely the commerce of Athens, but also that of other neutral Greeks, without scruple or discrimination. Several merchantmen and fishing-vessels, with a considerable number of prisoners, were thus captured.[317] Such prisoners as fell into the hands of the Lacedæ[p. 181]monians,—even neutral Greeks as well as Athenians,—were all put to death, and their bodies cast into clefts of the mountains. In regard to the neutrals, this capture was piratical, and the slaughter unwarrantably cruel, judged even by the received practice of the Greeks, deficient as that was on the score of humanity: but to dismiss these neutral prisoners, or to sell them as slaves, would have given publicity to a piratical capture and provoked the neutral towns, so that the prisoners were probably slain as the best way of getting rid of them and thus suppressing evidence.[318]

Some of these Peloponnesian privateers ranged as far as the southwestern coast of Asia Minor, where they found temporary shelter, and interrupted the trading-vessels from Phasêlis and Phenicia to Athens; to protect which, the Athenians despatched, in the course of the autumn, a squadron of six triremes under Melêsander. He was farther directed to insure the collection of the ordinary tribute from Athenian subject-allies, and probably to raise such contributions as he could elsewhere. In the prosecution of this latter duty, he undertook an expedition from the sea-coast against one of the Lykian towns in the interior, but his attack was repelled with loss, and he himself slain.[319]

An opportunity soon offered itself to the Athenians, of retaliating on Sparta for this cruel treatment of the maritime prisoners. In execution of the idea projected at the commencement of the war, the Lacedæmonians sent Anêristus and two others as envoys to Persia, for the purpose of soliciting from the Great King aids of money and troops against Athens; the dissensions among the Greeks thus gradually paving the way for him to[p. 182] regain his ascendency in the Ægean. Timagoras of Tegea, together with an Argeian named Pollis, without any formal mission from his city, and the Corinthian Aristeus, accompanied them. As the sea was in the power of Athens, they travelled overland through Thrace to the Hellespont; and Aristeus, eager to leave nothing untried for the relief of Potidæa, prevailed upon them to make application to Sitalkês, king of the Odrysian Thracians. That prince was then in alliance with Athens, and his son Sadokus had even received the grant of Athenian citizenship: yet the envoys thought it possible not only to detach him from the Athenian alliance, but even to obtain from him an army to act against the Athenians and raise the blockade of Potidæa,—this being refused, they lastly applied to him for a safe escort to the banks of the Hellespont, in their way towards Persia. But Learchus and Ameiniadês, then Athenian residents near the person of Sitalkês, had influence enough not only to cause rejection of these requests, but also to induce Sadokus, as a testimony of zeal in his new character of Athenian citizen, to assist them in seizing the persons of Aristeus and his companions in their journey through Thrace. Accordingly, the whole party were seized and conducted as prisoners to Athens, where they were forthwith put to death, without trial or permission to speak,—and their bodies cast into rocky chasms, as a reprisal for the captured seamen slain by the Lacedæmonians.[320]

[p. 183]

Such revenge against Aristeus, the instigator of the revolt of Potidæa, relieved the Athenians from a dangerous enemy; and that blockaded city was now left to its fate. About midwinter it capitulated, after a blockade of two years, and after going through the extreme of suffering from famine, to such a degree that some of those who died were even eaten by the survivors. In spite of such intolerable distress, the Athenian generals, Xenophon son of Euripidês and his two colleagues, admitted them to favorable terms of capitulation,—permitting the whole population and the Corinthian allies to retire freely, with a specified sum of money per head, as well as with one garment for each man and two for each woman,—so that they found shelter among the Chalkidic townships in the neighborhood. These terms were singularly favorable, considering the desperate state of the city, which must very soon have surrendered at discretion: but the[p. 184] hardships, even of the army without, in the cold of winter, were very severe, and they had become thoroughly tired both of the duration and the expense of the siege. The cost to Athens had been not less than two thousand talents; since the assailant force had never been lower than three thousand hoplites, during the entire two years of the siege, and for a portion of the time considerably greater,—each hoplite receiving two drachmas per diem. The Athenians at home, when they learned the terms of the capitulation, were displeased with the generals for the indulgence shown,—since a little additional patience would have constrained the city to surrender at discretion: in which case the expense would have been partly made good by selling the prisoners as slaves,—and Athenian vengeance probably gratified by putting the warriors to death.[321] A body of one thousand colonists were sent from Athens to occupy Potidæa and its vacant territory.[322]

Two full years had now elapsed since the actual commencement of war, by the attack of the Thebans on Platæa; yet the Peloponnesians had accomplished nothing of what they expected. They had not rescued Potidæa, nor had their twice-repeated invasion, although assisted by the unexpected disasters arising from the epidemic, as yet brought Athens to any sufficient humiliation,—though perhaps the envoys which she had sent during the foregoing summer with propositions for peace, contrary to the advice of Periklês, may have produced an impression that she could not hold out long. At the same time, the Peloponnesian allies had on their side suffered little damage, since the ravages inflicted by the Athenian fleet on their coast may have been nearly compensated by the booty which their invading troops gained in Attica. Probably by this time the public opinion in Greece had contracted an unhappy familiarity with the state of war, so that nothing but some decisive loss and humiliation on one side at least, if not on both, would suffice to terminate it. In this third spring, the Peloponnesians did not repeat their annual march into Attica,—deterred, partly, we may sup[p. 185]pose, by fear of the epidemic yet raging there,—but still more by the strong desire of the Thebans to take their revenge on Platæa.

To this ill-fated city, Archidamus marched forthwith, at the head of the confederate army. But no sooner had he entered and begun to lay waste the territory, than the Platæan heralds came forth to arrest his hand, and accosted him in the following terms: “Archidamus, and ye men of Lacedæmon, ye act wrong, and in a manner neither worthy of yourselves nor of your fathers, in thus invading the territory of Platæa. For the Lacedæmonian Pausanias, son of Kleombrotus, after he had liberated Greece from the Persians, in conjunction with those Greeks who stood forward to bear their share of the danger, offered sacrifice to Zeus Eleutherius, in the market-place of Platæa; and there, in presence of all the allies, assigned to the Platæans their own city and territory to hold in full autonomy, so that none should invade them wrongfully, or with a view to enslave them: should such invasion occur, the allies present pledged themselves to stand forward with all their force as protectors. While your fathers made to us this grant, in consideration of our valor and forwardness in that perilous emergency, ye are now doing the precise contrary: ye are come along with our worst enemies, the Thebans, to enslave us. And we on our side now adjure you, calling to witness the gods who sanctioned that oath, as well as your paternal and our local gods, not to violate the oath by doing wrong to the Platæan territory, but to let us live on in that autonomy which Pausanias guaranteed.”[323]

Whereunto Archidamus replied: “Ye speak fairly, men of Platæa, if your conduct shall be in harmony with your words. Remain autonomous yourselves, as Pausanias granted, and help us to liberate those other Greeks, who, after having shared in the same dangers and sworn the same oath along with you, have now been enslaved by the Athenians. It is for their liberation and that of the other Greeks that this formidable outfit of war has been brought forth. Pursuant to your oaths, ye ought by rights, and we now invite you, to take active part in this object. But if ye cannot act thus, at least remain quiet, conformably to the[p. 186] summons which we have already sent to you; enjoy your own territory, and remain neutral,—receiving both parties as friends, but neither party for warlike purposes. With this we shall be satisfied.”

The reply of Archidamus discloses by allusion a circumstance which the historian had not before directly mentioned; that the Lacedæmonians had sent a formal summons to the Platæans to renounce their alliance with Athens and remain neutral: at what time this took place,[324] we do not know, but it marks the peculiar sentiment attaching to the town. But the Platæans did not comply with the invitation thus twice repeated. The heralds, having returned for instructions into the city, brought back for answer, that compliance was impossible, without the consent of the Athenians, since their wives and families were now harbored at Athens: besides, if they should profess neutrality, and admit both parties as friends, the Thebans might again make an attempt to surprise their city. In reply to their scruples, Archidamus again addressed them: “Well, then, hand over your city and houses to us Lacedæmonians: mark out the boundaries of your territory: specify the number of your fruit-trees, and all your other property which admits of being numbered; and then retire whithersoever ye choose, as long as the war continues. As soon as it is over, we will restore to you all that we have received,—in the interim, we will hold it in trust, and keep it in cultivation, and pay you such an allowance as shall suffice for your wants.”[325]

The proposition now made was so fair and tempting, that the general body of the Platæans were at first inclined to accept it, provided the Athenians would acquiesce; and they obtained from Archidamus a truce long enough to enable them to send envoys to Athens. After communication with the Athenian assembly, the envoys returned to Platæa, bearing the following answer: “Men of Platæa, the Athenians say they have never yet permitted you to be wronged since the alliance first began,—nor will they now betray you, but will help you to the best of their[p. 187] power. And they adjure you, by the oaths which your fathers swore to them, not to depart in any way from the alliance.”

This message awakened in the bosoms of the Platæans the full force of ancient and tenacious sentiment. They resolved to maintain, at all cost, and even to the extreme of ruin, if necessity should require it, their union with Athens. It was indeed impossible that they could do otherwise, considering the position of their wives and families, without the consent of the Athenians; and though we cannot wonder that the latter refused consent, we may yet remark, that, in their situation, a perfectly generous ally might well have granted it. For the forces of Platæa counted for little as a portion of the aggregate strength of Athens; nor could the Athenians possibly protect it against the superior land-force of their enemies,—in fact, so hopeless was the attempt that they never even tried, throughout the whole course of the long subsequent blockade.

The final refusal of the Platæans was proclaimed to Archidamus, by word of mouth from the walls, since it was not thought safe to send out any messenger. As soon as the Spartan prince heard the answer, he prepared for hostile operations,—apparently with very sincere reluctance, attested in the following invocation, emphatically pronounced:—

“Ye gods and heroes, who hold the Platæan territory, be ye my witnesses, that we have not in the first instance wrongfully—not until these Platæans have first renounced the oaths binding on all of us—invaded this territory, in which our fathers defeated the Persians after prayers to you, and which ye granted as propitious for Greeks to fight in,—nor shall we commit wrong in what we may do farther, for we have taken pains to tender reasonable terms, but without success. Be ye now consenting parties: may those who are beginning the wrong receive punishment for it,—may those who are aiming to inflict penalty righteously, obtain their object.”

It was thus that Archidamus, in language delivered probably under the walls, and within hearing of the citizens who manned them, endeavored to conciliate the gods and heroes of that town which he was about to ruin and depopulate. The whole of this preliminary debate,[326] so strikingly and dramatically set forth by[p. 188] Thucydidês, illustrates forcibly the respectful reluctance with which the Lacedæmonians first brought themselves to assail this scene of the glories of their fathers. What deserves remark is, that their direct sentiment attaches itself, not at all to the Platæan people, but only to the Platæan territory; it is purely local, though it becomes partially transferred to the people, as tenants of this spot, by secondary association. It was, however, nothing but the long-standing antipathy[327] of the Thebans which induced Archidamus to undertake the enterprise; for the conquest of Platæa was of no avail towards the main objects of the war, though its exposed situation caused it to be crushed between the two great contending forces in Greece.

Archidamus now commenced the siege forthwith, in full hopes that his numerous army, the entire strength of the Peloponnesian confederacy, would soon capture a place of no great size, and probably not very well fortified; yet defended by a resolute garrison of four hundred native citizens, with eighty Athenians: there was no one else in the town except one hundred and ten female slaves for cooking. The fruit-trees, cut down in laying waste the cultivated land, sufficed to form a strong palisade all round the town, so as completely to block up the inhabitants. Next, Archidamus, having abundance of timber near at hand in the forests of Kithæron, began to erect a mound up against a portion of the town wall, so as to be able to march up by an inclined plane, and thus take the place by assault. Wood, stones, and earth, were piled up in a vast heap,—cross palings of wood being carried on each side of it, in parallel lines at right angles to the town wall, for the purpose of keeping the loose mass of materials between them together. For seventy days and as many nights did the army labor at this work, without any intermission, taking turns for food and repose: and through such unremitting assiduity, the mound approached near to the height of the town wall. But as it gradually mounted up, the Platæans were not idle on their side: they constructed an additional wall of wood, which they planted on the top of their own town wall, so as to heighten the part over against the enemy’s mound: sustaining it by brickwork behind, for which the neigh[p. 189]boring houses furnished materials: hides, raw as well as dressed, were suspended in front of it, in order to protect their workmen against missiles, and the woodwork against fire-carrying arrows.[328] And as the besiegers still continued heaping up materials, to carry their mound up to the height even of this recent addition, the Platæans met them by breaking a hole in the lower part of their town wall, and pulling in the earth from the lower portion of the mound; which thus gave way at the top and left a vacant space near the wall, until the besiegers filled it up by letting down quantities of stiff clay rolled up in wattled reeds, which could not be pulled away in the same manner. Again, the Platæans dug a subterranean passage from the interior of their town to the ground immediately under the mound, and thus carried away unseen the lower earth belonging to the latter; so that the besiegers saw their mound continually sinking down, in spite of fresh additions at the top,—yet without knowing the reason. Nevertheless, it was plain that these stratagems would be in the end ineffectual, and the Platæans accordingly built a new portion of town wall in the interior, in the shape of a crescent, taking its start from the old town wall on each side of the mound: the besiegers were thus deprived of all benefit from the mound, assuming it to be successfully completed; since when they had marched over it, there stood in front of them a new town wall to be carried in like manner.

Nor was this the only method of attack employed. Archidamus farther brought up battering engines, one of which greatly shook and endangered the additional height of wall built by the Platæans over against the mound; while others were brought to bear on different portions of the circuit of the town wall. Against these new assailants, various means of defence were used: the defenders on the walls threw down ropes, got hold of the head of the approaching engine, and pulled it by main force out of the right line, either upwards or sideways: or they prepared heavy wooden beams on the wall, each attached to both ends by long iron chains to two poles projecting at right angles from the wall, by means of which poles it was raised up and held aloft: so that at the proper moment, when the battering machine approached[p. 190] the wall, the chain was suddenly let go, and the beam fell down with great violence directly upon the engine and broke off its projecting beak.[329] However rude these defensive processes may seem, they were found effective against the besiegers, who saw themselves, at the close of three months’ unavailing efforts, obliged to renounce the idea of taking the town in any other way than by the process of blockade and famine,—a process alike tedious and costly.[330]

Before they would incur so much inconvenience, however, they had recourse to one farther stratagem,—that of trying to set the town on fire. From the height of their mound, they threw down large quantities of fagots, partly into the space between the mound and the newly-built crescent piece of wall,—partly, as far as they could reach, into other parts of the city: pitch and other combustibles were next added, and the whole mass set on fire. The conflagration was tremendous, such as had never been before seen: a large portion of the town became unapproachable, and the whole of it narrowly escaped destruction. Nothing could have preserved it, had the wind been rather more favorable: there was indeed a farther story, of a most opportune thunder-storm coming to extinguish the flames, which Thucydidês does not seem to credit.[331] In spite of much partial damage, the town remained still defensible, and the spirit of the inhabitants unsubdued.

There now remained no other resource except to build a wall of circumvallation round Platæa, and trust to the slow process of famine. The task was distributed in suitable fractions among the various confederate cities, and completed about the middle of September, a little before the autumnal equinox.[332] Two dis[p. 191]tinct walls were constructed, with sixteen feet of intermediate space all covered in, so as to look like one very thick wall: there were, moreover, two ditches, out of which the bricks for the wall had been taken,—one on the inside towards Platæa, and the other on the outside against any foreign relieving force. The interior covered space between the walls was intended to serve as permanent quarters for the troops left on guard, consisting half of Bœotians and half of Peloponnesians.[333]

At the same time that Archidamus began the siege of Platæa, the Athenians on their side despatched a force of two thousand hoplites and two hundred horsemen, to the Chalkidic peninsula, under Xenophon son of Euripidês (with two colleagues), the same who had granted so recently the capitulation of Potidæa. It was necessary doubtless, to convoy and establish the new colonists who were about to occupy the deserted site of Potidæa: moreover, the general had acquired some knowledge of the position and parties of the Chalkidic towns, and hoped to be able to act against them with effect. They first invaded the territory belonging to the Bottiæan town of Spartôlus, not without hopes that the city itself would be betrayed to them by intelligences within: but this was prevented by the arrival of an additional force from Olynthus, partly hoplites, partly peltasts. These peltasts, a species of troops between heavy-armed and light-armed, furnished with a pelta (or light shield), and short spear, or javelin, appear to have taken their rise among these Chalkidic Greeks, being equipped in a manner half Greek and half Thracian: we shall find them hereafter much improved and turned to account by some of the ablest Grecian generals. The Chalkidic hoplites are generally of inferior merit: on the other hand, their cavalry[p. 192] and their peltasts are very good: in the action which now took place under the walls of Spartôlus, the Athenian hoplites defeated those of the enemy, but their cavalry and their light troops were completely worsted by the Chalkidic. These latter, still farther strengthened by the arrival of fresh peltasts from Olynthus, ventured even to attack the Athenian hoplites, who thought it prudent to fall back upon the two companies left in reserve to guard the baggage. During this retreat they were harassed by the Chalkidic horse and light-armed, who retired when the Athenians turned upon them, but attacked them on all sides when on their march; and employed missiles so effectively that the retreating hoplites could no longer maintain a steady order, but took to flight, and sought refuge at Potidæa. Four hundred and thirty hoplites, near one-fourth of the whole force, together with all three generals, perished in this defeat, and the expedition returned in dishonor to Athens.[334]

In the western parts of Greece, the arms of Athens and her allies were more successful. The repulse of the Ambrakiots from the Amphilochian Argos, during the preceding year, had only exasperated them and induced them to conceive still larger plans of aggression against both the Akarnanians and Athenians. In concert with their mother-city Corinth, where they obtained warm support, they prevailed upon the Lacedæmonians to take part in a simultaneous attack of Akarnania, by land as well as by sea, which would prevent the Akarnanians from concentrating their forces in any one point, and put each of their townships upon an isolated self-defence; so that all of them might be overpowered in succession, and detached, together with Kephallênia and Zakynthus, from the Athenian alliance. The fleet of Phormio at Naupaktus, consisting only of twenty triremes, was accounted incompetent to cope with a Peloponnesian fleet such as might be fitted out at Corinth. There was even some hope that the important station at Naupaktus might itself be taken, so as to expel the Athenians completely from those parts.

The scheme of operations now projected was far more comprehensive than anything which the war had yet afforded. The land-force of the Ambrakiots, together with their neighbors and[p. 193] fellow-colonists the Leukadians and Anaktorians, assembled near their own city, while their maritime force was collected at Leukas, on the Akarnanian coast. The force at Ambrakia was joined, not only by Knêmus, the Lacedæmonian admiral, with one thousand Peloponnesian hoplites, who found means to cross over from Peloponnesus, eluding the vigilance of Phormio,—but also by a numerous body of Epirotic and Macedonian auxiliaries, collected even from the distant and northernmost tribes. A thousand Chaonians were present, under the command of Photyus and Nikanor, two annual chiefs chosen from the regal gens. Neither this tribe, nor the Thesprotians who came along with them, acknowledged any hereditary king. The Molossians and Atintânes, who also joined the force, were under Sabylinthus, regent on behalf of the young prince Tharypas. There came, besides, the Paranæi, from the banks of the river Aôus under their king Orœdus, together with one thousand Orestæ, a tribe rather Macedonian than Epirot, sent by their king Antiochus. Even king Perdikkas, though then nominally in alliance with Athens, sent one thousand of his Macedonian subjects, who, however, arrived too late to be of any use.[335] This large and diverse body of Epirotic invaders, a new phenomenon in Grecian history, and got together doubtless by the hopes of plunder, proves the extensive relations of the tribes of the interior with the city of Ambrakia,—a city destined to become in later days the capital of the Epirotic king Pyrrhus.

It had been concerted that the Peloponnesian fleet from Corinth should join that already assembled at Leukas, and act upon the coast of Akarnania at the same time that the land-force marched into that territory. But Knêmus finding the land-force united and ready, near Ambrakia, deemed it unnecessary to await the fleet from Corinth, and marched straight into Akarnania, through Limnæa, a frontier village territory belonging to the Amphilochian Argos. He directed his march upon Stratus,—an interior town, and the chief place in Akarnania,—the capture of which would be likely to carry with it the surrender of the rest; especially as the Akarnanians, distracted by the presence of the ships at Leukas, and alarmed by the large body of[p. 194] invaders on their frontier, did not dare to leave their own separate homes, so that Stratus was left altogether to its own citizens. Nor was Phormio, though they sent an urgent message to him, in any condition to help them; since he could not leave Naupaktus unguarded, when the large fleet from Corinth was known to be approaching. Under such circumstances, Knêmus and his army indulged the most confident hopes of overpowering Stratus without difficulty. They marched in three divisions: the Epirots in the centre,—the Leukadians and Anaktorians on the right,—the Peloponnesians and Ambrakiots, together with Knêmus himself, on the left. So little expectation was entertained of resistance, that these three divisions took no pains to keep near or even in sight of each other. Both the Greek divisions, indeed, maintained a good order of march, and kept proper scouts on the look out; but the Epirots advanced without any care or order whatever; especially the Chaonians, who formed the van. These men, accounted the most warlike of all the Epirotic tribes, were so full of conceit and rashness, that when they approached near to Stratus, they would not halt to encamp and assail the place conjointly with the Greeks; but marched along with the other Epirots right forward to the town, intending to attack it single-handed, and confident that they should carry it at the first assault, before the Greeks came up, so that the entire glory would be theirs. The Stratians watched and profited by this imprudence. Planting ambuscades in convenient places, and suffering the Epirots to approach without suspicion near to the gates, they then suddenly sallied out and attacked them, while the troops in ambuscade rose up and assailed them at the same time. The Chaonians who formed the van, thus completely surprised, were routed with great slaughter; while the other Epirots fled, after but little resistance. So much had they hurried forward in advance of their Greek allies, that neither the right nor the left division were at all aware of the battle, until the flying barbarians, hotly pursued by the Akarnanians, made it known to them. The two divisions then joined, protected the fugitives, and restrained farther pursuit,—the Stratians declining to come to hand-combat with them until the other Akarnanians should arrive. They seriously annoyed the forces of Knêmus, however, by distant slinging, in which the Akarnanians were[p. 195] preëminently skilful; nor did Knêmus choose to persist in his attack under such discouraging circumstances. As soon as night arrived, so that there was no longer any fear of slingers, he retreated to the river Anapus, a distance of between nine and ten miles. Well aware that the news of the victory would attract other Akarnanian forces immediately to the aid of Stratus, he took advantage of the arrival of his own Akarnanian allies from Œniadæ (the only town in the country which was attached to the Lacedæmonian interest), and sought shelter near their city. From thence his troops dispersed, and returned to their respective homes.[336]

Meanwhile, the Peloponnesian fleet from Corinth, which had been destined to coöperate with Knêmus off the coast of Akarnania, had found difficulties in its passage, alike unexpected and insuperable. Mustering forty-seven triremes of Corinth, Sikyon, and other places, with a body of soldiers on board, and with accompanying store-vessels,—it departed from the harbor of Corinth, and made its way along the northern coast of Achaia. Its commanders, not intending to meddle with Phormio and his twenty ships at Naupaktus, never for a moment imagined that he would venture to attack a number so greatly superior: the triremes were, accordingly, fitted out more as transports for numerous soldiers than with any view to naval combat,—and with little attention to the choice of skilful rowers.[337]

Except in the combat near Korkyra, and there only partially, the Peloponnesians had never yet made actual trial of Athenian maritime efficiency, at the point of excellence which it had now reached: themselves retaining the old unimproved mode of fighting and of working ships at sea, they had no practical idea of the degree to which it had been superseded by Athenian training. Among the Athenians, on the contrary, not only the seamen generally had a confirmed feeling of their own superiority,—but Phormio especially, the ablest of all their captains, always familiarized his men with the conviction, that no Peloponnesian fleet,[p. 196] be its number ever so great, could possibly contend against them with success.[338] Accordingly, the Corinthian admirals, Machaon and his two colleagues, were surprised to observe that Phormio with his small Athenian squadron, instead of keeping safe in Naupaktus, was moving in parallel line with them and watching their progress until they should get out of the Corinthian gulf into the more open sea. Having advanced along the northern coast of Peloponnesus as far as Patræ in Achaia, they then altered their course, and bore to the northwest in order to cross over towards the Ætolian coast, in their way to Akarnania. In doing this, however, they perceived that Phormio was bearing down upon them from Chalkis and the mouth of the river Euenus, and they now discovered for the first time that he was going to attack them. Disconcerted by this incident, and not inclined for a naval combat in the wide and open sea, they altered their plan of passage, returned to the coast of Peloponnesus, and brought to for the night at some point near to Rhium, the narrowest breadth of the strait. Their bringing to was a mere feint intended to deceive Phormio, and induce him to go back for the night to his own coast: for, during the course of the night, they left their station, and tried to get across the breadth of the gulf, where it was near the strait, and comparatively narrow, before Phormio could come down upon them: and if the Athenian captain had really gone back to take night-station on his own coast, they would probably have got across to the Ætolian or northern coast without any molestation in the wide sea: but he watched their movements closely, kept the sea all night, and was thus enabled to attack them in mid-channel, even[p. 197] during the shorter passage near the strait, at the first dawn of morning.[339] On seeing his approach, the Corinthian admirals[p. 198] ranged their triremes in a circle with the prows outward, like the spokes of a wheel; the circle was made as large as it could[p. 199] be without leaving opportunity to the Athenian assailing ships to practise the manœuvre of the diekplus,[340] and the interior space was sufficient, not merely for the store-vessels, but also for five chosen triremes, who were kept as a reserve, to dart out when required through the intervals between the outer triremes.

In this position they were found and attacked shortly after daybreak, by Phormio, who bore down upon them with his ships in single file, all admirable sailors, and his own ship leading; all being strictly forbidden to attack until he should give the signal. He rowed swiftly round the Peloponnesian circle, nearing the prows of their ships as closely as he could, and making constant semblance of being about to come to blows. Partly from the intimidating effect of this manœuvre, altogether novel to the Peloponnesians,—partly from the natural difficulty, well known to Phormio, of keeping every ship in its exact stationary position,—the order of the circle, both within and without, presently became disturbed. It was not long before a new ally came to his aid, on which he fully calculated, postponing his actual attack until this favorable incident occurred. The strong land-breeze out of the gulf of Corinth, always wont to begin shortly[p. 200] after daybreak, came down upon the Peloponnesian fleet with its usual vehemence, at a moment when the steadiness of their order was already somewhat giving way, and forced their ships more than ever out of proper relation one to the other. The triremes began to run foul of each other, or become entangled with the store-vessels: so that in every ship the men aboard were obliged to keep pushing off their neighbors on each side with poles,—not without loud clamor and mutual reproaches, which prevented both the orders of the captain, and the cheering sound or song whereby the keleustês animated the rowers and kept them to time, from being at all audible. Moreover, the fresh breeze had occasioned such a swell, that these rowers, unskilful under all circumstances, could not get their oars clear of the water, and the pilots thus lost all command over their vessels.[341] The[p. 201] critical moment was now come, and Phormio gave the signal for attack. He first drove against and disabled one of the admiral’s ships,—his comrades next assailed others with equal success,—so that the Peloponnesians, confounded and terrified, attempted hardly any resistance, but broke their order and sought safety in flight. They fled partly to Patræ, partly to Dymê, in Achaia, pursued by the Athenians; who, with scarcely the loss of a man, captured twelve triremes, took aboard and carried away almost the entire crews, and sailed off with them to Molykreium, or Antirrhium, the northern cape at the narrow mouth of the Corinthian gulf, opposite to the corresponding cape called Rhium in Achaia. Having erected at Antirrhium a trophy for the victory, dedicating one of the captive triremes to Poseidon, they returned to Naupaktus; while the Peloponnesian ships sailed along the shore from Patræ to Kyllênê, the principal port in the territory[p. 202] of Elis. They were here soon afterwards joined by Knêmus, who passed over with his squadron from Leukas.[342]

These two incidents, just recounted, with their details,—the repulse of Knêmus and his army from Stratus, and the defeat of the Peloponnesian fleet by Phormio,—afford ground for some interesting remarks. The first of the two displays the great inferiority of the Epirots to the Greeks,—and even to the less advanced portion of the Greeks,—in the qualities of order, discipline, steadiness, and power of coöperation for a joint purpose. Confidence of success with them is exaggerated into childish rashness, so that they despise even the commonest precautions either in march or attack; while the Greek divisions on their right and on their left are never so elate as to omit either. If, on land, we thus discover the inherent superiority of Greeks over Epirots involuntarily breaking out,—so in the sea-fight we are no less impressed with the astonishing superiority of the Athenians over their opponents; a superiority, indeed, noway inherent, such as that of Greeks over Epirots, but depending in this case on previous toil, training, and inventive talent, on the one side, compared with neglect and old-fashioned routine on the other. Nowhere does the extraordinary value of that seamanship, which the Athenians had been gaining by years of improved practice, stand so clearly marked as in these first battles of Phormio. It gradually becomes less conspicuous as we advance in the war, since the Peloponnesians improve, learning seamanship as the Russians, under Peter the Great, learned the art of war from the Swedes, under Charles the Twelfth,—while the Athenian triremes and their crews seem to become less choice and effective, even before the terrible disaster at Syracuse, and are irreparably deteriorated after that misfortune.

To none did the circumstances of this memorable sea-fight seem so incomprehensible as to the Lacedæmonians. They had heard, indeed, of the seamanship of Athens, but had never felt it, and could not understand what it meant: so they imputed the defeat to nothing but disgraceful cowardice, and sent indignant orders to Knêmus at Kyllênê, to take the command, equip a larger and better fleet, and repair the dishonor. Three Spartan[p. 203] commissioners—Brasidas, Timokratês, and Lykophron—were sent down to assist him with their advice and exertions in calling together naval contingents from the different allied cities: and by this means, under the general resentment occasioned by the recent defeat, a large fleet of seventy-seven triremes was speedily mustered at Panormus,—a harbor of Achaia near to the promontory of Rhium, and immediately within the interior gulf. A land-force was also collected at the same place ashore, to aid the operations of the fleet. Such preparations did not escape the vigilance of Phormio, who transmitted to Athens news of his victory, at the same time urgently soliciting reinforcements to contend with the increasing strength of the enemy. The Athenians immediately sent twenty fresh ships to join him: but they were induced by the instances of a Kretan named Nikias, their proxenus at Gortyn, to allow him to take the ships first to Krete, on the faith of his promise to reduce the hostile town of Kydonia. He had made this promise as a private favor to the inhabitants of Polichna, border enemies of Kydonia; but when the fleet arrived he was unable to fulfil it: nothing was effected except ravage of the Kydonian lands, and the fleet was long prevented by adverse winds and weather from getting away.[343] This ill-advised diversion of the fleet from its straight course to join Phormio is a proof how much the counsels of Athens were beginning to suffer from the loss of Periklês, who was just now in his last illness and died shortly afterwards. That liability to be seduced by novel enterprises and projects of acquisition, against which he so emphatically warned his countrymen,[344] was even now beginning to manifest its disastrous consequences.

Through the loss of this precious interval, Phormio now found himself, with no more than his original twenty triremes, opposed to the vastly increased forces of the enemy,—seventy-seven triremes, with a large force on land to back them: the latter, no mean help in ancient warfare. He took up his station[p. 204] near the Cape Antirrhium, or the Molykric Rhium, as it was called,—the opposite cape to the Achaic Rhium: the line between them, seemingly about an English mile in breadth, forms the entrance of the Corinthian gulf. The Messenian force from Naupaktus attended him, and served on land. But he kept on the outside of the gulf, anxious to fight in a large and open breadth of sea, which was essential to Athenian manœuvring: while his adversaries on their side remained on the inside of the Achaic cape, from the corresponding reason,—feeling that to them the narrow sea was advantageous, as making the naval battle like to a land battle, effacing all superiority of nautical skill.[345] If we revert back to the occasion of the battle of Salamis, we find that narrowness of space was at that time accounted the best of all protections for a smaller fleet against a larger. But such had been the complete change of feeling, occasioned by the system of manœuvring introduced since that period in the Athenian navy, that amplitude of sea room is now not less coveted by Phormio than dreaded by his enemies. The improved practice of Athens had introduced a revolution in naval warfare.

For six or seven days successively, the two fleets were drawn out against each other,—Phormio trying to entice the Peloponnesians to the outside of the gulf, while they on their side did what they could to bring him within it.[346] To him, every day’s postponement was gain, since it gave him a new chance of his reinforcements arriving: for that very reason, the Peloponnesian commanders were eager to accelerate an action, and at length resorted to a well-laid plan for forcing it on. But in spite of immense numerical superiority, such was the discouragement and reluctance, prevailing among their seamen, many of whom had been actual sufferers in the recent defeat,—that Knêmus and Brasidas had to employ emphatic exhortations; insisting on the favorable prospect before them,—pointing out that the late battle had been lost only by mismanagement and imprudence, which would be for the future corrected,—and appealing to the inherent bravery of the Peloponnesian warrior. They concluded by a hint, that while those who behaved well in the coming battle would receive due honor, the laggards would assuredly be pun[p. 205]ished:[347] a topic rarely touched upon by ancient generals in their harangues on the eve of battle, and demonstrating conspicuously the reluctance of many of the Peloponnesian seamen, who had been brought to the fight again chiefly by the ascendency and strenuous commands of Sparta. To this reluctance Phormio pointedly alluded, in the encouraging exhortations which he on his side addressed to his men: for they too, in spite of their habitual confidence at sea, strengthened by the recent victory, were dispirited by the smallness of their numbers. He reminded them of their long practice and rational conviction of superiority at sea, such as no augmentation of numbers, especially with an enemy conscious of his own weakness, could overbalance: and he called upon them to show their habitual discipline and quick apprehension of orders, and above all to perform their regular movements in perfect silence during the actual battle,[348]—useful in all matters of war, and essential to the proper conduct of a sea-fight. The idea of entire silence on board the Athenian ships while a sea-fight was going on, is not only striking as a feature in the picture, but is also one of the most powerful evidences of the force of self-control and military habits among these citizen-seamen.

The habitual position of the Peloponnesian fleet off Panormus was within the strait, but nearly fronting the breadth of it,—opposite to Phormio, who lay on the outer side of the strait, as well as off the opposite cape: in the Peloponnesian line, therefore, the right wing occupied the north, or northeast side towards Naupaktus. Knêmus and Brasidas now resolved to make a forward movement up the gulf, as if against that town, which was the main Athenian station; for they knew that Phormio would be under the necessity of coming to the defence of the place, and they hoped to pin him up and force him to action close under the[p. 206] land, where Athenian manœuvring would be unavailing. Accordingly, they commenced this movement early in the morning, sailing in line of four abreast towards the northern coast of the inner gulf; the right squadron, under the Lacedæmonian Timokratês, was in the van, according to its natural position,[349] and care had been taken to place in it twenty of the best sailing ships, since the success of the plan of action was known beforehand to depend upon their celerity. As they had foreseen, Phormio the moment he saw their movement, put his men on shipboard, and rowed into the interior of the strait, though with the greatest reluctance; for the Messenians were on land alongside of him, and he knew that Naupaktus, with their wives and families, and a long circuit of wall,[350] was utterly undefended. He ranged his ships in line of battle ahead, probably his own the leading ship; and sailed close along the land towards Naupaktus, while the Messenians marching ashore kept near to him. Both fleets were thus moving in the same direction, and towards the same point, the Athenian close along shore, the Peloponnesians somewhat farther off.[351] The latter had now got Phormio into the[p. 207] position which they wished, pinned up against the land, with no room for tactics. On a sudden the signal was given, and the[p. 208] whole Peloponnesian fleet facing to the left, changed from column into line, and instead of continuing to sail along the coast, rowed[p. 209] rapidly with their prows shore-ward to come to close quarters with the Athenians. The right squadron of the Peloponnesians[p. 210] occupying the side towards Naupaktus, was especially charged with the duty of cutting off the Athenians from all possibility of escaping thither; and the best ships had been placed on the right for that important object. As far as the commanders were concerned, the plan of action completely succeeded; the Athenians were caught in a situation where resistance was impossible, and had no chance of escape except in flight. But so superior were they in rapid movement even to the best Peloponnesians, that eleven ships, the headmost out of the twenty, just found means to run by,[352] before the right wing of the enemy closed in upon the shore; and made the best of their way to Naupaktus. The[p. 211] remaining nine ships were caught and driven ashore with serious damage,—their crews being partly slain, partly escaping by swimming. The Peloponnesians towed off one trireme with its entire crew, and some others empty; but more than one of them was rescued by the bravery of the Messenian hoplites, who, in spite of their heavy panoply, rushed into the water and got aboard them, fighting from the decks and driving off the enemy even after the rope had been actually made fast, and the process of dragging off had begun.[353]

The victory of the Peloponnesians seemed assured, and while their left and centre were thus occupied, the twenty ships of their right wing parted company with the rest, in order to pursue the eleven fugitive Athenian ships which they had failed in cutting off. Ten of these got clear away into the harbor of Naupaktus, and there posted themselves in an attitude of defence near the temple of Apollo, before any of the pursuers could come near; while the eleventh, somewhat less swift, was neared by the Lacedæmonian admiral; who, on board a Leukadian trireme, pushed greatly ahead of his comrades, in hopes of overtaking at least this one prey. There happened to lie moored a merchant vessel, at the entrance of the harbor of Naupaktus; and the Athenian captain in his flight, observing that the Leukadian pursuer was for the moment alone, seized the opportunity for a bold and rapid manœuvre. He pulled swiftly round the merchant vessel, directed his trireme so as to meet the advancing Leukadian, and drove his beak against her midships with an impact so violent as to disable her at once; her commander, the Lacedæmonian admiral, Timokratês, was so stung with anguish at this unexpected catastrophe, that he slew himself forthwith, and fell overboard into the harbor. The pursuing vessels coming up behind, too, were so astounded and dismayed by it, that the men, dropping their oars, held water, and ceased to advance; while some even found themselves half aground, from ignorance of the coast. On the other hand, the ten Athenian triremes in the harbor were beyond measure elated by the incident, so that a single word from Phormio sufficed to put them in active forward[p. 212] motion, and to make them strenuously attack the embarrassed enemy: whose ships, disordered by the heat of pursuit, and having been just suddenly stopped, could not be speedily got again under way, and expected nothing less than renewed attack. First, the Athenians broke the twenty pursuing ships, on the right wing; next, they pursued their advantage against the left and centre, who had probably neared to the right; so that after a short resistance, the whole were completely routed, and fled across the gulf to their original station at Panormus.[354] Not only did the eleven Athenian ships thus break, terrify, and drive away the entire fleet of the enemy, with the capture of six of the nearest Peloponnesian triremes,—but they also rescued those ships of their own which had been driven ashore and taken in the early part of the action: moreover, the Peloponnesian crews sustained a considerable loss, both in killed and in prisoners.

Thus, in spite not only of the prodigious disparity of numbers, but also of the disastrous blow which the Athenians had sustained at first, Phormio ended by gaining a complete victory; a victory, to which even the Lacedæmonians were forced to bear testimony, since they were obliged to ask a truce for burying and collecting their dead, while the Athenians on their part picked up the bodies of their own warriors. The defeated party, however, still thought themselves entitled, in token of their success in the early part of the action, to erect a trophy on the Rhium of Achaia, where they also dedicated the single Athenian trireme which they had been able to carry off. Yet they were so com[p. 213]pletely discomfited,—and farther, so much in fear of the expected reinforcement from Athens,—that they took advantage of the night to retire, and sail into the gulf to Corinth: all except the Leukadians, who returned to their own home.

Nor was it long before the reinforcement actually arrived, after that untoward detention which had wellnigh exposed Phormio and his whole fleet to ruin. It confirmed his mastery of the entrance of the gulf and of the coast of Akarnania, where the Peloponnesians had now no naval force at all. To establish more fully the Athenian influence in Akarnania, he undertook during the course of the autumn an expedition, landing at Astakus, and marching into the Akarnanian inland country with four hundred Athenian hoplites and four hundred Messenians. Some of the leading men of Stratus and Koronta, who were attached to the Peloponnesian interest, he caused to be sent into exile, while the chief named Kynês, of Koronta, who seems to have been hitherto in exile, was reëstablished in his native town. The great object was, to besiege and take the powerful town of Œniadæ, near the mouth of the Achelôus; a town at variance with the other Akarnanians, and attached to the Peloponnesians. But the great spread of the waters of the Achelôus rendered this siege impracticable during the winter, and Phormio returned to the station at Naupaktus. From hence he departed to Athens towards the end of the winter, carrying home both his prize-ships and such of his prisoners as were freemen. The latter were exchanged man for man against Athenian prisoners in the hands of Sparta.[355]

After abandoning the naval contest at Rhium, and retiring to Corinth, Knêmus and Brasidas were prevailed upon by the Megarians, before the fleet dispersed, to try the bold experiment of a sudden inroad upon Peiræus. Such was the confessed superiority of the Athenians at sea, that, while they guarded amply the coasts of Attica against privateers, they never imagined the possibility of an attack upon their own main harbor. Accordingly, Peiræus was not only unprotected by any chain across the entrance, but destitute even of any regular guard-ships manned and ready. The seamen of the retiring Pelopon[p. 214]nesian armament, on reaching Corinth, were immediately disembarked and marched, first across the isthmus, next to Megara,—each man carrying his sitting-cloth,[356] and his oar, together with the loop whereby the oar was fastened to the oar-hole in the side, and thus prevented from slipping. There lay forty triremes in Nisæa, the harbor of Megara, which, though old and out of condition, were sufficient for so short a trip; and the seamen immediately on arriving, launched these and got aboard. But such was the awe entertained of Athens and her power, that when the scheme came really to be executed, the courage of the Peloponnesians failed, though there was nothing to hinder them from actually reaching Peiræus: but it was pretended that the wind was adverse, and they contented themselves with passing across to the station of Budorum, in the opposite Athenian island of Salamis, where they surprised and seized the three guard-ships which habitually blockaded the harbor of Megara, and then landed upon the island. They spread themselves over a large part of Salamis, ravaged the properties, and seized men as well as goods. Fire-signals immediately made known this unforeseen aggression, both at Peiræus and at Athens, occasioning in both the extreme of astonishment and alarm; for the citizens in Athens, not conceiving distinctly the meaning of the signals, fancied that Peiræus itself had fallen into the hands of the enemy. The whole population rushed down to the Peiræus at break of day, and put to sea with all the triremes that were[p. 215] ready against the Peloponnesians; but these latter, aware of the danger which menaced them, made haste to quit Salamis with their booty, and the three captured guard-ships. The lesson was salutary to the Athenians: from henceforward Peiræus was furnished with a chain across the mouth, and a regular guard, down to the end of the war.[357] Forty years afterwards, however, we shall find it just as negligently watched, and surprised with much more boldness and dexterity, by the Lacedæmonian captain Teleutias.[358]

As during the summer of this year, the Ambrakiots had brought down a numerous host of Epirotic tribes to the invasion of Akarnania, in conjunction with the Peloponnesians,—so during the autumn, the Athenians obtained aid against the Chalkidians of Thrace from a still more powerful barbaric prince, Sitalkês, king of the Odrysian Thracians. Amidst the numerous tribes, between the Danube and the Ægean sea,—who all bore the generic name of Thracians, though each had a special name besides,—the Odrysians were at this time the most warlike and powerful. The Odrysian king Têrês, father of Sitalkês, had made use of this power to subdue[359] and render tributary a great number of these different tribes, especially those whose residence was in the plain rather than in the mountains. His dominion, the largest existing between the Ionian sea and the Euxine, extended from Abdêra, or the mouth of the Nestus, in the Ægean sea, to the mouth of the Danube in the Euxine; though it seems that this must be understood with deductions, since many intervening tribes, especially mountain tribes, did not acknowledge his authority. Sitalkês himself had invaded and conquered some of the Pæonian tribes who joined the Thracians on the west, between the Axius and the Strymon.[360] Dominion, in the sense of the Odrysian king, meant tribute, presents, and military force when required; and with the two former, at least, we may conclude that he was amply supplied, since his nephew and successor Seuthes, under whom the revenue increased and attained its maximum, received four hundred talents annually in gold and silver as tribute, and the like sum in various presents, over and[p. 216] above many other presents of manufactured articles and ornaments. These latter came from the Grecian colonies on the coast, which contributed moreover largely to the tribute, though in what proportions we are not informed: even Grecian cities not in Thrace sent presents to forward their trading objects, as purchasers for the produce, the plunder, and the slaves, acquired by Thracian chiefs or tribes.[361] The residence of the Odrysians properly so called, and of the princes of that tribe now ruling over so many of the remaining tribes, appears to have been about twelve days’ journey inland from Byzantium,[362] in the upper regions of the Hebrus and Strymon, south of Mount Hæmus, and northeast of Rhodopê. The Odrysian chiefs were connected by relationship more or less distant with those of the subordinate tribes, and by marriage even with the Scythian princes north of the Danube: the Scythian prince Ariapeithês[363] had married the daughter of the Odrysian Têrês, the first who extended the dominion of his tribe over any considerable portion of Thrace.

The natural state of the Thracian tribes—in the judgment of Herodotus, permanent and incorrigible—was that of disunion and incapacity of political association; were such association possible, he says, they would be strong enough to vanquish every other nation,—though Thucydidês considers them as far inferior to the Scythians. The Odrysian dominion had probably not reached, at the period when Herodotus made his inquiries, the same development which Thucydidês describes in the third year of the Peloponnesian war, and which imparted to these tribes an union, partial indeed and temporary, but such as they never reached either before or afterwards. It has been already mentioned that the Odrysian prince Sitalkês, had taken for his wife, or rather for one of his wives, the sister of Nymphodôrus, a[p. 217] Greek, of Abdêra; by whose mediation he had been made the ally, and his son Sadokus even a citizen, of Athens,—and had been induced to promise that he would reconquer the Chalkidians of Thrace for the benefit of the Athenians,[364]—his ancient kinsmen, according to the mythe of Tereus as interpreted by both parties. At the same time, Perdikkas, king of Macedonia, had offended him by refusing to perform a promise made of giving him his sister in marriage,—a promise made as consideration for the interference of Sitalkês and Nymphodôrus in procuring for him peace with Athens, at a moment when he was much embarrassed by civil dissensions with his brother Philip. The latter prince, ruling in his own name, and seemingly independent of Perdikkas, over a portion of the Macedonians along the upper course of the Axius, had been expelled by his more powerful brother, and taken refuge with Sitalkês: he was now apparently dead, but his son Amyntas received from the Odrysian prince the promise of restoration. The Athenians had ambassadors resident with Sitalkês, and they sent Agnon as special envoy to concert arrangements for his march against the Chalkidians, with which an Athenian armament was destined to coöperate. In treating with Sitalkês, it was necessary to be liberal in presents, both to himself and to the subordinate chieftains who held power dependent upon him: nothing could be accomplished among the Thracians except by the aid of bribes,[365] and the Athenians were more[p. 218] competent to supply this exigency than any other people in Greece. The joint expedition against the Chalkidians was finally resolved.

But the forces of Sitalkês, collected from many different portions of Thrace, were tardy in coming together. He summoned all the tribes under his dominion, between Hæmus, Rhodopê, and the two seas: the Getæ, between Mount Hæmus and the Danube, equipped like the Scythians, their neighbors on the other side of the river, with bow and arrow on horseback, also joined him, as well as the Agrianes, the Lææi, and the other Pæonian tribes subject to his dominion; lastly, several of the Thracian tribes called Dii, distinguished by their peculiar short swords, and maintaining a fierce independence on the heights of Rhodopê, were tempted by the chance of plunder, or the offer of pay, to flock to his standard. Altogether, his army amounted, or was supposed to amount, to one hundred and fifty thousand men, one third of it cavalry, who were for the most part Getæ and Odrysians proper. The most formidable warriors in his camp were the independent tribes of Rhodopê; but the whole host, alike numerous, warlike, predatory, and cruel, spread terror amidst all those who were within even the remote possibilities of its march.

Starting from the central Odrysian territory, and bringing with him Agnon and the other Athenian envoys, he first crossed the uninhabited mountain called Kerkinê, which divided the Pæonians on the west from the Thracian tribes called Sinti and Mædi on the east, until he reached the Pæonian town or district called[p. 219] Dobêrus;[366] it was here that many troops and additional volunteers reached him, making up his full total. From Dobêrus, probably marching down along one of the tributary streams of the Axius, he entered into that portion of Upper Macedonia, which lies along the higher Axius, and which had constituted the separate principality of Philip: the presence in his army of Amyntos son of Philip, induced some of the fortified places, Gortynia, Atalantê, and others, to open their gates without resistance, while Eidomenê was taken by storm, and Eurôpus in vain attacked. From hence, he passed still farther southward into Lower Macedonia, the kingdom of Perdikkas; ravaging the territory on both sides of the Axius even to the neighborhood of the towns Pella and Kyrrhus; and apparently down as far south as the mouth of the river and the head of the Thermaic gulf. Farther south than this he did not go, but spread his force over the districts between the left bank of the Axius and the head of the Strymonic gulf,—Mygdonia, Krestônia, and Anthemus,—while a portion of his army was detached to overrun the territory of the Chalkidians and Bottiæans. The Macedonians under Perdikkas, renouncing all idea of contending on foot against so overwhelming a host, either fled or shut themselves up in the small number of fortified places which the country presented. The cavalry from Upper Macedonia, indeed, well armed and excellent, made some orderly and successful charges against the Thracians, lightly armed with javelins, short swords, and the pelta, or small shield,—but it was presently shut in, harassed on all sides by superior numbers, and compelled to think only of retreat and extrication.[367]

Luckily for the enemies of the Odrysian king, his march was not made until the beginning of winter, seemingly about November or December. We may be sure that the Athenians,[p. 220] when they concerted with him the joint attack upon the Chalkidians, intended that it should be in a better time of the year: having probably waited to hear that his army was in motion, and waited long in vain, they began to despair of his coming at all, and thought it not worth while to despatch any force of their own to the spot.[368] Some envoys and presents only were sent as compliments, instead of the coöperating armament; and this disappointment, coupled with the severity of the weather, the nakedness of the country, and the privations of his army at that season, induced Sitalkês soon to enter into negotiations with Perdikkas; who, moreover, gained over Seuthes, nephew of the Odrysian prince, by promising his sister Stratonikê in marriage, together with a sum of money, on condition that the Thracian host should be speedily withdrawn. This was accordingly done, after it had been distributed for thirty days over Macedonia: during eight of those days his detachment had ravaged the Chalkidic lands. But the interval had been quite long enough to diffuse terror all around: such a host of fierce barbarians had never before been brought together, and no one knew in what direction they might be disposed to carry their incursions. The independent Thracian tribes (Panæi, Odomantê, Drôi, and Dersæi) in the plains on the northeast of the Strymon, and near Mount Pangæus, not far from Amphipolis, were the first to feel alarm lest Sitalkês should take the opportunity of trying to conquer them; on the other side, the Thessalians, Magnêtes, and other Greeks north of Thermopylæ, anticipated that he would carry his invasion farther south, and began to organize means for resisting him: even the general Peloponnesian confederacy heard with uneasiness of this new ally whom Athens was bringing into the field, perhaps against them. All such alarms were dissipated, when Sitalkês, after remaining thirty days, returned by the way he came, and the formidable avalanche was thus seen to melt away without falling on them. The faithless Perdikkas, on this occasion, performed his promise to Seuthes, having drawn upon himself much mischief by violating his previous similar promise to Sitalkês.[369]

[p. 221]


The second and third years of the war had both been years of great suffering with the Athenians, from the continuance of the epidemic, which did not materially relax until the winter of the third year (B.C. 429-428). It is no wonder that, under the pressure of such a calamity, their military efforts were enfeebled, although the victories of Phormio had placed their maritime reputation at a higher point than ever. To their enemies, the destructive effects of this epidemic—effects still felt, although the disorder itself was suspended during the fourth year of the war—afforded material assistance as well as encouragement to persevere; and the Peloponnesians, under Archidamus, again repeated during this year their invasion and ravage of Attica, which had been intermitted during the year preceding. As before, they met with no serious resistance: entering the country about the beginning of May, they continued the process of devastation until their provisions were exhausted.[370] To this damage the Athenians had probably now accustomed themselves: but they speedily received, even while the invaders were in their country, intelligence of an event far more embarrassing and formidable,—the revolt of Mitylênê and of the greater part of Lesbos.

This revolt, indeed, did not come even upon the Athenians wholly unawares; but the idea of it was of longer standing than they suspected, for the Mitylenæan oligarchy had projected it before the war, and had made secret application to Sparta for aid, but without success. Some time after hostilities broke out, they resumed the design, which was warmly promoted by the Bœotians, kinsmen of the Lesbians in Æolic lineage and dialect. The Mitylenæan leaders appear to have finally determined on revolt[p. 222] during the preceding autumn or winter; but they thought it prudent to make ample preparations before they declared themselves openly: and, moreover, they took measures for constraining three other towns in Lesbos—Antissa, Eresus, and Pyrrha—to share their fortunes, to merge their own separate governments, and to become incorporated with Mitylênê. Methymna, the second town in Lesbos, situated on the north of the island, was decidedly opposed to them and attached to Athens. The Mitylenæans built new ships, put their walls in an improved state of defence, carried out a mole in order to narrow the entrance of their harbor, and render it capable of being closed with a chain, despatched emissaries to hire Scythian bowmen and purchase corn in the Euxine, and took such other measures as were necessary for an effective resistance. Though the oligarchical character of their government gave them much means of secrecy, and above all, dispensed with the necessity of consulting the people beforehand,—still, measures of such importance could not be taken without provoking attention. Intimation was sent to the Athenians by various Mitylenæan citizens, partly from private feeling, partly in their capacity of proxeni (or consuls, to use a modern word which approaches to the meaning) for Athens,—especially by a Mitylenæan named Doxander, incensed with the government for having disappointed his two sons of a marriage with two orphan heiresses.[371] Not less communicative were the islanders of Tenedos, animated by ancient neighborly jealousy towards Mitylênê; so that the Athenians were thus forewarned both of the intrigues between Mitylênê and the Spartans and of her certain impending revolt unless they immediately interfered.[372]

[p. 223]

This news seems to have become certain about February or March 428 B.C.: but such was then the dispirited condition of the Athenians,—arising from two years’ suffering under the epidemic, and no longer counteracted by the wholesome remonstrances of Periklês,—that they could not at first bring themselves to believe what they were so much afraid to find true. Lesbos, like Chios, was their ally, upon an equal footing, still remaining under those conditions which had been at first common to all the members of the confederacy of Delos. Mitylênê paid no tribute to Athens: it retained its walls, its large naval force, and its extensive landed possessions on the opposite Asiatic continent: its government was oligarchical, administering all internal affairs without the least reference to Athens. Its obligations as an ally were, that, in case of war, it was held bound to furnish armed ships, whether in determinate number or not, we do not know: it would undoubtedly be restrained from making war upon Tenedos, or any other subject-ally of Athens: and its government or its citizens would probably be held liable to answer before the Athenian dikasteries, in case of any complaint of injury from the government or citizens of Tenedos or of any other ally of Athens,—these latter being themselves also accountable before the same tribunals, under like complaints from Mitylênê. That city was thus in practice all but independent, and so extremely powerful that the Athenians in their actual state of depression were fearful of coping with it, and therefore loth to believe the alarming intelligence which reached them. They sent envoys with a friendly message to persuade the Mitylenæans to suspend their proceedings, and it was only when these envoys returned without success that they saw the necessity of stronger measures. Ten Mitylenæan triremes, serving as contingent in the Athenian fleet, were seized, and their crews placed under guard; while Kleïppidês, then on the point of starting, along with two colleagues, to conduct a fleet of forty triremes round Peloponnesus, was directed to alter his destination and to proceed forthwith to Mitylênê.[373] It was expected that he would reach that town about the time of the approaching festival of Apollo Maloeis, celebrated in its neighborhood,—on which occasion the[p. 224] whole Mitylenæan population was in the habit of going forth to the temple: so that the town, while thus deserted, might easily be surprised and seized by the fleet. In case this calculation should be disappointed, Kleïppidês was instructed to require that the Mitylenæans should surrender their ships of war and raze their fortifications, and, in case of refusal, to attack them immediately.

But the publicity of debate at Athens was far too great to allow such a scheme to succeed. The Mitylenæans had their spies in the city, and the moment the resolution was taken, one of them set off to communicate it at Mitylênê. Crossing over to Geræstus in Eubœa, he got aboard a merchantman on the point of departure, and reached Mitylênê with a favorable wind on the third day from Athens: so that when Kleïppidês arrived shortly afterwards, he found the festival adjourned and the government prepared for him. The requisition which he sent in was refused, and the Mitylenæan fleet even came forth from the harbor to assail him, but was beaten back with little difficulty: upon which, the Mitylenæan leaders, finding themselves attacked before their preparations were completed, and desiring still to gain time before they declared their revolt, opened negotiations with Kleïppidês, and prevailed on him to suspend hostilities until ambassadors could be sent to Athens,—protesting that they had no serious intention of revolting. This appears to have been about the middle of May, soon after the Lacedæmonian invasion of Attica. Kleïppidês was induced, not very prudently, to admit this proposition, under the impression that his armament was insufficient to cope with a city and island so powerful; and he remained moored off the harbor at the north of Mitylênê until the envoys, among whom was included one of the very citizens of Mitylênê who had sent to betray the intended revolt, but who had since changed his opinion, should return from Athens. Meanwhile the Mitylenæan government, unknown to Kleïppidês, and well aware that the embassy would prove fruitless, took advantage of the truce to send secret envoys to Sparta, imploring immediate aid: and on the arrival of the Lacedæmonian Meleas and the Theban Hermæondas, who had been despatched to Mitylênê earlier, but had only come in by stealth since the arrival of Kleïppidês, a second trireme was sent along with them, carrying additional envoys to[p. 225] reiterate the solicitation. These arrivals and despatches were carried on without the knowledge of the Athenian admiral, chiefly in consequence of the peculiar site of the town, which had originally been placed upon a little islet divided from Lesbos by a narrow channel, or euripus, and had subsequently been extended across into the main island,—like Syracuse, and so many other Grecian settlements. It had consequently two harbors, one north, the other south of the town: Kleïppidês was anchored off the former, but the latter remained unguarded.[374]

During the absence of the Mitylenæan envoys at Athens, reinforcements reached the Athenian admiral from Lemnos, Imbros, and some other allies, as well as from the Lesbian town of Methymna: so that when the envoys returned, as they presently did, with an unfavorable reply, war was resumed with increased vigor. The Mitylenæans, having made a general sally with their full military force, gained some advantage in the battle; yet, not feeling bold enough to maintain the field, they retreated back behind their walls. The news of their revolt, when first spread abroad, had created an impression unfavorable to the stability of the Athenian empire: but when it was seen that their conduct was irresolute, and their achievements disproportionate to their supposed power, a reaction of feeling took place,—and the Chians and other allies came in with increased zeal in obedience to the summons of Athens for reinforcements. Kleïppidês soon found his armament large enough to establish two separate camps, markets for provision, and naval stations, north and south of the town, so as to watch and block up both the harbors at once.[375] But he commanded little beyond the area of his camp, and was unable to invest the city by land; especially as the Mitylenæans had received reinforcements from An[p. 226]tissa, Pyrrha, and Eresus, the other towns of Lesbos which acted with them. They were even sufficiently strong to march against Methymna, in hopes that it would be betrayed to them by a party within; but this expectation was not realized, nor could they do more than strengthen the fortifications, and confirm the Mitylenæan supremacy, in the other three subordinate towns; in such manner that the Methymnæans, who soon afterwards attacked Antissa, were repulsed with considerable loss. In this undecided condition the island continued, until, somewhere about the month of August B.C. 428, the Athenians sent Pachês to take the command, with a reinforcement of one thousand hoplites, who rowed themselves thither in triremes. The Athenians were now in force enough not only to keep the Mitylenæans within their walls, but also to surround the city with a single wall of circumvallation, strengthened by separate forts in suitable positions. By the beginning of October, Mitylênê was thus completely blockaded, by land as well as by sea.[376]

Meanwhile, the Mitylenæan envoys, after a troublesome voyage, reached Sparta a little before the Olympic festival, about the middle of June. The Spartans directed them to come to Olympia at the festival, where all the members of the Peloponnesian confederacy would naturally be present,—and there to set forth their requests, after the festival was concluded, in presence of all.[377] Thucydidês has given us, at some length, his version of the speech wherein this was done,—a speech not a little remarkable. Pronounced as it was by men who had just revolted from Athens, having the strongest interest to raise indignation against her as well as sympathy for themselves,—and before an audience exclusively composed of the enemies of Athens, all willing to hear, and none present to refute, the bitterest calumnies against her, we should have expected a confident sense of righteous and well-grounded though perilous effort on the part of the Mitylenæans, and a plausible collection of wrongs and oppressions alleged against the common enemy. Instead of which, the speech is apologetic and embarrassed: the speaker not only does not allege any extortion or severe dealing from Athens towards the Mitylenæans, but even admits the fact that they had been treated[p. 227] by her with marked honor;[378] and that, too, during a long period of peace, during which she stood less in awe of her allies generally, and would have had much more facility in realizing any harsh purposes towards them, than she could possibly enjoy now that the war had broken out, when their discontents would be likely to find powerful protectors.[379] According to his own showing, the Mitylenæans, while they had been perfectly well treated by Athens during the past, had now acquired, by the mere fact of war, increased security for continuance of the like treatment during the future. It is upon this ground of security for the future, nevertheless, that he rests the justification of the revolt, not pretending to have any subject of positive complaint. The Mitylenæans, he contends, could have no prospective security against Athens: for she had successively and systematically brought into slavery all her allies, except Lesbos and Chios, though all had originally been upon an equal footing: and there was every reason for fearing that she would take the first convenient opportunity of reducing the two last remaining to the same level,—the rather as their position was now one of privilege and exception, offensive to her imperial pride and exaggerated ascendency. It had hitherto suited the policy of Athens to leave these two exceptions, as a proof that the other allies had justly incurred their fate, since otherwise Lesbos and Chios, having equal votes, would not have joined forces in reducing them:[380] but[p. 228] this policy was now no longer necessary, and the Mitylenæans, feeling themselves free only in name, were imperatively called upon by regard for their own safety to seize the earliest opportunity for emancipating themselves in reality. Nor was it merely regard for their own safety, but a farther impulse of Pan-Hellenic patriotism; a desire to take rank among the opponents, and not among the auxiliaries of Athens, in her usurpation of sovereignty over so many free Grecian states.[381] The Mitylenæans had, however, been compelled to revolt with preparations only half-completed, and had therefore a double claim upon the succor of Sparta,—the single hope and protectress of Grecian autonomy. And Spartan aid—if now lent immediately and heartily, in a renewed attack on Attica during this same year, by sea as well as by land—could not fail to put down the common enemy, exhausted as she was by pestilence as well as by the cost of three years’ war, and occupying her whole maritime force, either in the siege of Mitylênê or round Peloponnesus. The orator concluded by appealing not merely to the Hellenic patriotism and sympathies of the Peloponnesians, but also to the sacred name of the Olympic Zeus, in whose precinct the meeting was held, that his pressing entreaty might not be disregarded.[382]

In following this speech of the orator, we see the plain confession that the Mitylenæans had no reason whatever to complain of the conduct of Athens towards themselves: she had respected alike their dignity, their public force, and their private security. This important fact helps us to explain, first, the indifference which the Mitylenæan people will be found to manifest in the revolt; next, the barbarous resolution taken by the Athenians after its suppression. The reasons given for the revolt are mainly two. 1. The Mitylenæans had no security that Athens would not degrade them into the condition of subject-allies like the rest. 2. They did not choose to second the ambition of Athens, and to become parties to a war, for the sake of maintaining an empire essentially offensive to Grecian political instincts. In both these two reasons there is force; and both touch the sore point of the[p. 229] Athenian empire. That empire undoubtedly contradicted one of the fundamental instincts of the Greek mind,—the right of every separate town to administer its own political affairs apart from external control. The Peloponnesian alliance recognized this autonomy in theory, by the general synod and equal voting of all the members at Sparta, on important occasions; though it was quite true,[383] as Periklês urged at Athens, that in practice nothing more was enjoyed than an autonomy confined by Spartan leading-strings,—and though Sparta held in permanent custody hostages for the fidelity of her Arcadian allies, summoning their military contingents without acquainting them whither they were destined to march. But Athens proclaimed herself a despot, effacing the autonomy of her allies not less in theory than in practice: far from being disposed to cultivate in them any sense of a real common interest with herself, she did not even cheat them with those forms and fictions which so often appease discontent in the absence of realities. Doubtless, the nature of her empire, at once widely extended, maritime, and unconnected, or only partially connected, with kindred of race, rendered the forms of periodical deliberation difficult to keep up; at the same time that it gave to her as naval chief an ascendency much more despotic than could have been exercised by any chief on land. It is doubtful whether she could have overcome—it is certain that she did not try to overcome—these political difficulties; so that her empire stood confessed as a despotism, opposed to the political instinct of the Greek mind; and the revolts against it, like this of Mitylênê,—in so far as they represented a genuine feeling, and were not merely movements of an oligarchical party against their own democracy,—were revolts of this offended instinct, much more than consequences of actual oppression. The Mitylenæans might certainly affirm that they had no security against being one day reduced to the common condition of subject-allies like the rest; yet an Athenian speaker, had he[p. 230] been here present, might have made no mean reply to this portion of their reasoning;—he would have urged that, had Athens felt any dispositions towards such a scheme, she would have taken advantage of the fourteen years’ truce to execute it; and he would have shown that the degradation of the allies by Athens, and the change in her position from president to despot had been far less intentional and systematic than the Mitylenæan orator affirmed.

To the Peloponnesian auditors, however, the speech of the latter proved completely satisfactory; the Lesbians were declared members of the Peloponnesian alliance, and a second attack upon Attica was decreed. The Lacedæmonians, foremost in the movement, summoned contingents from their various allies, and were early in arriving with their own at the isthmus: they there began to prepare carriages or trucks for dragging across the isthmus the triremes which had fought against Phormio, from the harbor of Lechæum into the Saronic gulf, in order to employ them against Athens. But the remaining allies did not answer to the summons, remaining at home occupied with their harvest; and the Lacedæmonians, sufficiently disappointed with this languor and disobedience, were still farther confounded by the unexpected presence of one hundred Athenian triremes off the coast of the isthmus. The Athenians, though their own presence at the Olympic festival was forbidden by the war, had doubtless learned more or less thoroughly the proceedings which had taken place there respecting Mitylênê. Perceiving the general belief entertained of their depressed and helpless condition, they determined to contradict this by a great and instant effort, and accordingly manned forthwith one hundred triremes, requiring the personal service of all men, citizens as well as metics; and excepting only the two richest classes of the Solonian census, i. e. the pentakosiomedimni, and the hippeis, or horsemen. With this prodigious fleet they made a demonstration along the isthmus in view of the Lacedæmonians, and landed in various parts of the Peloponnesian coast to inflict damage. At the same time, thirty other Athenian triremes, despatched sometime previously to Akarnania, under Asôpius, son of Phormio, landed at different openings in Laconia, for the same purpose; and this news reached the Lacedæmonians at the isthmus while the other great Athe[p. 231]nian fleet was parading before their eyes.[384] Amazed at so unexpected a demonstration of strength, they began to feel how much the Mitylenæans had misled them respecting the exhaustion of Athens, and how incompetent they were, especially without the presence of their allies, to undertake any joint effective movement by sea and land against Attica. They therefore returned home, resolving to send an expedition of forty triremes, under Alkidas, to the relief of Mitylênê itself; at the same time transmitting requisitions to their various allies, in order that these triremes might be furnished.[385]

Meanwhile, Asôpius, with his thirty triremes, had arrived in Akarnania, from whence all the ships except twelve were sent home. He had been nominated commander as the son of Phormio, who appears either to have died, or to have become unfit for service, since his victories of the preceding year; and the Akarnanians had preferred a special request that a son, or at least some relative of Phormio, should be invested with the command of the squadron; so beloved was his name and character among them. Asôpius, however, accomplished nothing of importance, though he again undertook conjointly with the Akarnanians a fruitless march against Œniadæ. Ultimately, he was defeated and slain, in attempting a disembarkation on the territory of Leukas.[386]

The sanguine announcement made by the Mitylenæans at Olympia, that Athens was rendered helpless by the epidemic, had indeed been strikingly contradicted by her recent display; since, taking numbers and equipment together, the maritime force which she had put forth this summer, manned as it was by a higher class of seamen, surpassed all former years; although, in point of number only, it was inferior to the two hundred and fifty triremes which she had sent out during the first summer of the war.[387] But the assertion that Athens was impoverished in[p. 232] finances was not so destitute of foundation: for the whole treasure in the acropolis, six thousand talents at the commencement of the war, was now consumed, with the exception of that reserve of one thousand talents which had been solemnly set aside against the last exigences of defensive resistance. This is not surprising, when we learn that every hoplite engaged for near two years and a half in the blockade of Potidæa, received two drachmas per day, one for himself and a second for an attendant: there were during the whole time of the blockade three thousand hoplites engaged there,—and for a considerable portion of the time, four thousand six hundred; besides the fleet, all the seamen of which received one drachma per day per man. Accordingly the Athenians were now for the first time obliged to raise a direct contribution among themselves, to the amount of two hundred talents, for the purpose of prosecuting the siege of Mitylênê: and they at the same time despatched Lysiklês with four colleagues, in command of twelve triremes, to collect money. What relation these money-gathering ships bore to the regular tribute paid by the subject-allies, or whether they were allowed to visit these latter, we do not know: in the present case, Lysiklês landed[p. 233] at Myus, near the mouth of the Mæander, and marched up the country to levy contributions on the Karian villages in the plain of that river: but he was surprised by the Karians, perhaps aided by the active Samian exiles at Anæa in the neighborhood, and slain, with a considerable number of his men.[388]

While the Athenians thus held Mitylênê under siege, their faithful friends, the Platæans, had remained closely blockaded by the Peloponnesians and Bœotians for more than a year, without any possibility of relief. At length, provisions began to fail, and the general, Eupompidês, backed by the prophet Theænetus,—these prophets[389] were often among the bravest soldiers in the army,—persuaded the garrison to adopt the daring but seemingly desperate resolution of breaking out over the blockading wall, and in spite of its guards. So desperate, indeed, did the project seem, that at the moment of execution, one half of the garrison shrank from it as equivalent to certain death: the other half, about two hundred and twelve in number, persisted and escaped. Happy would it have been for the remainder had they even perished in the attempt, and thus forestalled the more melancholy fate in store for them!

It has been already stated, that the circumvallation of Platæa was accomplished by a double wall and a double ditch, one ditch without the encircling walls, another between them and the town; the two walls being sixteen feet apart, joined together, and roofed all round, so as to look like one thick wall, and to afford covered quarters for the besiegers. Both the outer and inner circumference were furnished with battlements, and after every ten battlements came a roofed tower, covering the whole breadth of the double wall,—allowing a free passage inside, but none outside. In general, the entire circuit of the roofed wall was kept under watch night and day: but on wet nights the besiegers had so far relaxed their vigilance as to retire under cover of the towers, and leave the intermediate spaces unguarded: and it was upon this omission that the plan of escape was founded. The Platæans prepared ladders of a proper height to scale the block[p. 234]ading double wall, ascertaining its height by repeatedly counting the ranges of bricks, which were quite near enough for them to discern, and not effectually covered with whitewash. On a cold and dark December night, amidst rain, sleet, and a roaring wind, they marched forth from the gates, lightly armed, some few with shields and spears, but most of them with breastplates, javelins, and bows and arrows: the right foot was naked, and the left foot alone shod, so as to give to it a more assured footing on the muddy ground.[390] Taking care to sally out with the wind in their faces, and at such a distance from each other as to prevent any clattering of arms, they crossed the inner ditch and reached the foot of the wall without being discovered: the ladders, borne in the van, were immediately planted, and Ammeas, son of Korœbus, followed by eleven others, armed only with a short sword and breastplate, mounted the wall: others, armed with spears, followed him, their shields being carried and handed to them when on the top by comrades behind. It was the duty of this first company to master and maintain the two towers, right and left, so as to keep the intermediate space free for passing over. This was successfully done, the guards in both towers being surprised and slain, without alarming the remaining besiegers: and many of the Platæans had already reached the top of the wall, when the noise of a tile accidently knocked down by one of them, betrayed what was passing. Immediately a general clamor was raised, alarm was given, and the awakened garrison rushed up from beneath to the top of the wall, yet not knowing where the enemy was to be found; a perplexity farther increased by the Platæans in the town, who took this opportunity of making a false attack on the opposite side. Amidst such confusion and darkness, the blockading detachment could not tell where to di[p. 235]rect their blows, and all remained at their posts, except a reserve of three hundred men, kept constantly in readiness for special emergencies, who marched out and patrolled the outside of the ditch to intercept any fugitives from within. At the same time, fire-signals were raised to warn their allies at Thebes,—but here again the Platæans in the town had foreseen and prepared fire-signals on their part, which they hoisted forthwith, in order to deprive this telegraphic communication of all special meaning.[391]

Meanwhile, the escaping Platæans, masters of the two adjoining towers,—on the top of which some of them mounted, while others held the doorway through, so as to repel with spears and darts all approach of the blockaders,—prosecuted their flight without interruption over the space between, shoving down the battlements in order to make it more level and plant a greater number of ladders. In this manner they all successively got over and crossed the outer ditch; every man, immediately after crossing, standing ready on the outer bank, with bow and javelin, to repel assailants and maintain safe passages for his comrades in the rear. At length, when all had descended, there remained the last and greatest difficulty,—the escape of those who occupied the two towers and kept the intermediate portion of wall free: yet even this was accomplished successfully and without loss. The outer ditch was, however, found embarrassing,—so[p. 236] full of water from the rain as to be hardly fordable, yet with thin ice on it also, from a previous frost: for the storm, which in other respects was the main help to their escape, here retarded their passage of the ditch by an unusual accumulation of water. It was not, however, until all had crossed except the defenders of the towers,—who were yet descending and scrambling through,—that the Peloponnesian reserve of three hundred were seen approaching the spot with torches. Their unshielded right side was turned towards the ditch, and the Platæans, already across and standing on the bank, immediately assailed them with arrows and javelins,—in which the torches enabled them to take tolerable aim, while the Peloponnesians on their side could not distinguish their enemies in the dark, and had no previous knowledge of their position. They were thus held in check until the rearmost Platæans had surmounted the difficulties of the passage: after which the whole body stole off as speedily as they could, taking at first the road towards Thebes, while their pursuers were seen with their torch-lights following the opposite direction, on the road which led by the heights called Dryos-Kephalæ to Athens: after having marched about three quarters of a mile on the road to Thebes, leaving the chapel of the Hero Androkratês on their right hand, the fugitives quitted it, and striking to the eastward towards Erythræ and Hysiæ, soon found themselves in safety among the mountains which separate Bœotia from Attica at that point; from whence they passed into the glad harbor and refuge of Athens.[392]

Two hundred and twelve brave men thus emerged to life and liberty, breaking loose from that impending fate which too soon overtook the remainder, and preserving for future times the genuine breed and honorable traditions of Platæa. One man alone was taken prisoner at the brink of the outer ditch, while a few, who had enrolled themselves originally for the enterprise, lost courage and returned in despair even from the foot of the inner wall; telling their comrades within that the whole band had perished. Accordingly, at daybreak, the Platæans within sent out a herald to solicit a truce for burial of the dead bodies, and[p. 237] it was only by the answer made to this request, that they learned the actual truth. The description of this memorable outbreak exhibits not less daring in the execution than skill and foresight in the design; and is the more interesting, inasmuch as the men who thus worked out their salvation were precisely the bravest men, who best deserved it.

Meanwhile, Pachês and the Athenians kept Mitylênê closely blocked up, the provisions were nearly exhausted, and the besieged were already beginning to think of capitulation,—when their spirits were raised by the arrival of the Lacedæmonian envoy Salæthus, who had landed at Pyrrha on the west of Lesbos, and contrived to steal in through a ravine which obstructed the continuity of the blockading wall,—about February 427 B.C. He encouraged the Mitylenæans to hold out, assuring them that a Peloponnesian fleet under Alkidas was on the point of setting out to assist them, and that Attica would be forthwith invaded by the general Peloponnesian army. His own arrival, also, and his stay in the town, was in itself no small encouragement: we shall see hereafter, when we come to the siege of Syracuse by the Athenians, how much might depend upon the presence of one single Spartan. All thought of surrender was accordingly abandoned, and the Mitylenæans awaited with impatience the arrival of Alkidas, who started from Peloponnesus at the beginning of April, with forty-two triremes; while the Lacedæmonian army at the same time invaded Attica, in order to keep the attention of Athens fully employed. Their ravages on this occasion were more diligent, searching, and destructive to the country than before, and were continued the longer because they awaited the arrival of news from Lesbos. But none reached them, their stock of provisions was exhausted, and the army was obliged to break up.[393]

The news, when it did arrive, proved very unsatisfactory.

Salæthus and the Mitylenæans had held out until their provisions were completely exhausted, but neither relief, nor tidings, reached them from Peloponnesus. At length, even Salæthus became convinced that no relief would come; he projected, therefore, as a last hope, a desperate attack upon the Athenians[p. 238] and their wall of blockade. For this purpose, he distributed full panoplies among the mass of the people, or commons, who had hitherto been without them, having at best nothing more than bows or javelins.[394] But he had not sufficiently calculated the consequences of this important step. The Mitylenæan multitude, living under an oligarchical government, had no interest whatever in the present contest, which had been undertaken without any appeal to their opinion. They had no reason for aversion to Athens, seeing that they suffered no practical grievance from the Athenian alliance: and we shall find hereafter that even among the subject-allies—to say nothing of a privileged ally like Mitylênê—the bulk of the citizens were never forward, sometimes positively reluctant, to revolt. The Mitylenæan oligarchy had revolted, in spite of the absence of practical wrongs, because they desired an uncontrolled town-autonomy as well as security for its continuance: but this was a feeling to which the people were naturally strangers, having no share in the government of their own town, and being kept dead and passive, as it was the interest of the oligarchy that they should be, in respect to political sentiment. A Grecian oligarchy might obtain from its people quiet submission under ordinary circumstances, but if ever it required energetic effort, the genuine devotion under which alone such effort could be given, was found wanting. Accordingly, the Mitylenæan demos, so soon as they found themselves strengthened and ennobled by the possession of heavy armor, refused obedience to the orders of Salæthus for marching out and imperiling their lives in a desperate struggle. They were under the belief—not unnatural under the secrecy of public affairs habitually practised by an oligarchy, but which, assuredly, the Athenian demos would have been too well informed to entertain—that their governors were starving them, and had concealed stores of provisions for themselves. Accordingly, the first use which they made of their arms was, to demand that these concealed stores should be brought out and fairly apportioned to all, threatening, unless their demand was complied with at once, to enter into negotiations with the Athenians, and surrender the city.[p. 239] The ruling Mitylenæans, unable to prevent this, but foreseeing that it would be their irretrievable ruin, preferred the chance of negotiating themselves for a capitulation. It was agreed with Pachês, that the Athenian armament should enter into possession of Mitylênê; that the fate of its people and city should be left to the Athenian assembly, and that the Mitylenæans should send envoys to Athens to plead their cause: until the return of these envoys, Pachês engaged that no one should be either killed, or put in chains, or sold into slavery. Nothing was said about Salæthus, who hid himself as well as he could in the city. In spite of the guarantee received from Pachês, so great was the alarm of those Mitylenæans who had chiefly instigated the revolt, that when he actually took possession of the city, they threw themselves as suppliants upon the altars for protection; but being induced, by his assurances, to quit their sanctuary, were placed in the island of Tenedos until answer should be received from Athens.[395]

Having thus secured possession of Mitylênê, Pachês sent round some triremes to the other side of the island, and easily captured Antissa. But before he had time to reduce the two remaining towns of Pyrrha and Eresus, he received news which forced him to turn his attention elsewhere.

To the astonishment of every one, the Peloponnesian fleet of Alkidas was seen on the coast of Ionia. It ought to have been there much earlier, and had Alkidas been a man of energy, it would have reached Mitylênê even before the surrender of the city. But the Peloponnesians, when about to advance into the Athenian waters and brave the Athenian fleet, were under the same impressions of conscious weakness and timidity—especially since the victories of Phormio in the preceding year—as that which beset land-troops who marched up to attack the Lacedæmonian heavy-armed.[396] Alkidas, though unobstructed by the Athenians, who were not aware of his departure,—though pressed to hasten forward by Lesbian and Ionian exiles on board, and aided by expert pilots from those Samian exiles who[p. 240] had established themselves at Anæa,[397] on the Asiatic continent, and acted as zealous enemies of Athens,—nevertheless, instead of sailing straight to Lesbos, lingered first near Peloponnesus, next at the island of Delos, making capture of private vessels with their crews; until at length, on reaching the islands of Ikarus and Mykonus, he heard the unwelcome tidings that the besieged town had capitulated. Not at first crediting the report, he sailed onward to Embaton, in the Erythræan territory on the coast of Asia Minor, where he found the news confirmed. As only seven days had elapsed since the capitulation had been concluded, Teutiaplus, an Eleian captain in the fleet, strenuously urged the daring project of sailing on forthwith, and surprising Mitylênê by night in its existing unsettled condition: no preparation would have been made for receiving them, and there was good chance that the Athenians might be suddenly overpowered, the Mitylenæans again armed, and the town recovered.

Such a proposition, which was indeed something more than daring, did not suit the temper of Alkidas. Nor could he be induced by the solicitation of the exiles to fix and fortify himself either in any port of Ionia, or in the Æolic town of Kymê, so as to afford support and countenance to such subjects of the Athenian empire as were disposed to revolt; though he was confidently assured that many of them would revolt on his proclamation, and that the satrap Pissuthnês of Sardis would help him to defray the expense. Having been sent for the express purpose of relieving Mitylênê, Alkidas believed himself interdicted from any other project, and determined to return to Peloponnesus at once, dreading nothing so much as the pursuit of Pachês and the Athenian fleet. From Embaton, accordingly, he started on his return, coasting southward along Asia Minor as far as Ephesus. But the prisoners taken in his voyage were now an encumbrance to his flight; and their number was not inconsiderable, since all the merchant-vessels in his route had approached the fleet without suspicion, believing it to be Athenian: a Peloponnesian fleet near the coast of Ionia was as yet something unheard of and incredible. To get rid of his prisoners, Alkidas stopped at Myonnêsus, near Teos, and there put to death the[p. 241] greater number of them,—a barbarous proceeding, which excited lively indignation among the neighboring Ionic cities to which they belonged; insomuch that when he reached Ephesus, the Samian exiles dwelling at Anæa, who had come forward so actively to help him, sent him a spirited remonstrance, reminding him that the slaughter of men neither engaged in war, nor enemies, nor even connected with Athens, except by constraint, was disgraceful to one who came forth as the liberator of Greece,—and that, if he persisted, he would convert his friends into enemies, not his enemies into friends. So keenly did Alkidas feel this animadversion, that he at once liberated the remainder of his prisoners, several of them Chians; and then started from Ephesus, taking his course across sea towards Krete and Peloponnesus. After much delay off the coast of Krete from stormy weather, which harassed and dispersed his fleet, he at length reached in safety the harbor of Kyllênê in Elis, where his scattered ships were ultimately reunited.[398]

Thus inglorious was the voyage of the first Peloponnesian admiral who dared to enter that Mare clausum which passed for a portion of the territory of Athens.[399] But though he achieved little, his mere presence excited everywhere not less dismay than astonishment: for the Ionic towns were all unfortified, and Alkidas might take and sack any one of them by sudden assault, even though unable to hold it permanently. Pressing messages reached Pachês from Erythræ and from several other places, while the Athenian triremes called Paralus and Salaminia, the privileged vessels which usually carried public and sacred deputations, had themselves seen the Peloponnesian fleet anchored at Ikarus, and brought him the same intelligence. Pachês, having his hands now free by the capture of Mitylênê, set forth immediately in pursuit of the intruder, whom he chased as far[p. 242] the island of Patmos. It was there ascertained that Alkidas had finally disappeared from the eastern waters, and the Athenian admiral, though he would have rejoiced to meet the Peloponnesian fleet in the open sea, accounted it fortunate that they had not taken up a position in some Asiatic harbor,—in which case it would have been necessary for him to undertake a troublesome and tedious blockade,[400] besides all the chances of revolt among the Athenian dependencies. We shall see how much, in this respect, depended upon the personal character of the Lacedæmonian commander, when we come hereafter to the expedition of Brasidas.

On his return from Patmos to Mitylênê, Pachês was induced to stop at Notium by the solicitations of some exiles. Notium was the port of Kolophon, from which it was some little distance, as Peiræus was from Athens.[401]

About three years before, a violent internal dissension had taken place in Kolophon, and one of the parties, invoking the aid of the Persian Itamanes (seemingly one of the generals of the satrap Pissuthnês), had placed him in possession of the town; whereupon the opposite party, forced to retire, had established itself separately and independently at Notium. But the Kolophonians who remained in the town soon contrived to procure a party in Notium, whereby they were enabled to regain possession of it, through the aid of a body of Arcadian mercenaries in the service of Pissuthnês. These Arcadians formed a standing garrison at Notium, in which they occupied a separate citadel, or fortified space, while the town became again attached as harbor to Kolophon. A considerable body of exiles, however, expelled on that occasion, now invoked the aid of Pachês to reinstate them, and to expel the Arcadians. On reaching the place, the Athenian general prevailed upon Hippias, the Arcadian captain, to come forth to a parley, under the promise that, if nothing mutually satisfactory could be settled, he would again replace him, “safe and sound,” in the fortification. But no sooner had the Arcadian come forth to this parley, than Pachês, causing him to be detained under guard, but without fetters or ill-usage, immediately[p. 243] attacked the fortification while the garrison were relying on the armistice, carried it by storm, and put to death both the Arcadians and the Persians who were found within. Having got possession of the fortification, he next brought Hippias again into it, “safe and sound,” according to the terms of the convention, which was thus literally performed, and then immediately afterwards caused him to be shot with arrows and javelins. Of this species of fraud, founded on literal performance and real violation of an agreement, there are various examples in Grecian history; but nowhere do we read of a more flagitious combination of deceit and cruelty than the behavior of Pachês at Notium. How it was noticed at Athens, we do not know: but we may remark, not without surprise, that Thucydidês recounts it plainly and calmly without a single word of comment.[402]

Notium was separated from Kolophon, and placed in possession of those Kolophonians who were opposed to the Persian supremacy in the upper town. But as it had been down to this time a mere appendage of Kolophon and not a separate town, the Athenians soon afterwards sent œkists and performed for it the ceremonies of colonization according to their own laws and customs, inviting from every quarter the remaining exiles of Kolophon.[403] Whether any new settlers went from Athens itself, we do not know: but the step was intended to confer a sort of Hellenic citizenship, and recognized collective personality, on the new-born town of Notium; without which, neither its theôry or solemn deputation would have been admitted to offer public sacrifice, nor its private citizens to contend for the prize, at Olympic and other great festivals.

Having cleared the Asiatic waters from the enemies of Athens, Pachês returned to Lesbos, reduced the towns of Pyrrha and Eresus, and soon found himself so completely master both of Mitylênê and the whole island, as to be able to send home the larger part of his force; carrying with them as prisoners those Mitylenæans who had been deposited in Tenedos, as well as others, prominently implicated in the late revolt, to the number altogether of rather more than a thousand. The Lacedæmonian[p. 244] Salæthus, being recently detected in his place of concealment, was included among the prisoners transmitted.

Upon the fate of these prisoners the Athenians had now to pronounce, and they entered upon the discussion in a temper of extreme wrath and vengeance. As to Salæthus, their resolution to put him to death was unanimous and immediate, nor would they listen to his promises, assuredly delusive, of terminating the blockade of Platæa, in case his life were spared. What to do with Mitylênê and its inhabitants was a point more doubtful, and was submitted to formal debate in the public assembly.

It is in this debate that Thucydidês first takes notice of Kleon, who is, however, mentioned by Plutarch as rising into importance some few years earlier, during the lifetime of Periklês. Under the great increase of trade and population in Athens and Peiræus during the last forty years, a new class of politicians seem to have grown up, men engaged in various descriptions of trade and manufacture, who began to rival more or less in importance the ancient families of Attic proprietors. This change was substantially analogous to that which took place in the cities of mediæval Europe, when the merchants and traders of the various guilds gradually came to compete with, and ultimately supplanted, the patrician families in whom the supremacy had originally resided. In Athens, persons of ancient family and station enjoyed at this time no political privilege, and since the reforms of Ephialtês and Periklês, the political constitution had become thoroughly democratical. But they still continued to form the two highest classes in the Solonian census founded on property,—the pentakosiomedimni, and the hippeis, or knights: new men enriched by trade doubtless got into these classes, but probably only in minority, and imbibed the feeling of the class as they found it, instead of bringing into it any new spirit. Now an individual Athenian of this class, though without any legal title to preference, yet when he stood forward as candidate for political influence, continued to be decidedly preferred and welcomed by the social sentiment at Athens, which preserved in its spontaneous sympathies distinctions effaced from the political code.[404] Besides this place ready prepared for him in the public[p. 245] sympathy, especially advantageous at the outset of political life,—he found himself farther borne up by the family connections, associations, and political clubs, etc., which exercised very great influence both on the politics and the judicature of Athens, and of which he became a member as a matter of course. Such advantages were doubtless only auxiliary, carrying a man up to a certain point of influence, but leaving him to achieve the rest by his own personal qualities and capacity. But their effect was nevertheless very real, and those who, without possessing them, met and buffeted him in the public assembly, contended against great disadvantages. A person of such low or middling station obtained no favorable presumptions or indulgence on the part of the public to meet him half-way,—nor had he established connections to encourage first successes, or help him out of early scrapes. He found others already in possession of ascendency, and well-disposed to keep down new competitors; so that he had to win his own way unaided, from the first step to the last, by qualities personal to himself; by assiduity of attendance, by acquaintance with business, by powers of striking speech, and withal by unflinching audacity, indispensable to enable him to bear up against that opposition and enmity which he would incur from the high-born politicians, and organized party clubs, as soon as he appeared to be rising up into ascendency.

The free march of political and judicial affairs raised up several such men, during the years beginning and immediately preceding the Peloponnesian war. Even during the lifetime of Periklês, they appear to have arisen in greater or less numbers: but the personal ascendency of that great man,—who combined an aristocratical position with a strong and genuine democratical sentiment, and an enlarged intellect rarely found attached to either,—impressed a peculiar character on Athenian politics. The Athenian world was divided into his partisans and his opponents, among each of whom there were individuals high-born and low-born,—though the aristocratical party, properly so called, the majority of wealthy and high-born Athenians, either opposed or disliked him. It is about two years after his death that we[p. 246] begin to hear of a new class of politicians: Eukratês, the rope-seller; Kleon, the leather-seller; Lysiklês, the sheep-seller; Hyperbolus, the lamp-maker;[405] the two first of whom must have been already well-known as speakers in the ekklesia, even during the lifetime of Periklês. Among them all, the most distinguished was Kleon, son of Kleænetus.

Kleon acquired his first importance among the speakers against Periklês, so that he would thus obtain for himself, during his early political career, the countenance of the numerous and aristocratical anti-Perikleans. He is described by Thucydidês in general terms as a person of the most violent temper and character in Athens,—as being dishonest in his calumnies, and virulent in his invective and accusation.[406] Aristophanês, in his comedy of the Knights, reproduces these features, with others new and distinct, as well as with exaggerated details, comic, satirical, and contemptuous. His comedy depicts Kleon in the point of view in which he would appear to the knights of Athens,—a leather-dresser, smelling of the tan-yard,—a low-born brawler, terrifying opponents by the violence of his criminations, the loudness of his voice, the impudence of his gestures,—moreover, as venal in his politics, threatening men with accusations, and then receiving money to withdraw them; a robber of the public treasury, persecuting merit as well as rank, and courting the favor of the assembly by the basest and most guilty cajolery. The general attributes set forth by Thucydidês (apart from Aristophanês, who does not profess to write history), we may well accept; the powerful and violent invective of Kleon, often dishonest, together with his self-confidence and audacity in the public assembly. Men of the middling class, like Kleon and[p. 247] Hyperbolus, who persevered in addressing the public assembly and trying to take a leading part in it, against persons of greater family pretension than themselves, were pretty sure to be men of more than usual audacity. Had they not possessed this quality, they would never have surmounted the opposition made to them: we may well believe that they had it to a displeasing excess,—and even if they had not, the same measure of self-assumption which in Alkibiadês would be tolerated from his rank and station, would in them pass for insupportable impudence. Unhappily, we have no specimens to enable us to appreciate the invective of Kleon. We cannot determine whether it was more virulent than that of Demosthenês and Æschinês, seventy years afterwards,—each of those eminent orators imputing to the other the grossest impudence, calumny, perjury, corruption, loud voice, and revolting audacity of manner, in language which Kleon can hardly have surpassed in intensity of vituperation, though he doubtless fell immeasurably short of it in classical finish. Nor can we even tell in what degree Kleon’s denunciations of the veteran Periklês were fiercer than those memorable invectives against the old age of Sir Robert Walpole, with which Lord Chatham’s political career opened. The talent for invective possessed by Kleon, employed first against Periklês, would be counted as great impudence by the partisans of that illustrious statesman, as well as by impartial and judicious citizens; but among the numerous enemies of Periklês, it would be applauded as a burst of patriotic indignation, and would procure for the orator that extraneous support at first which would sustain him until he acquired his personal hold on the public assembly.[407]

By what degrees or through what causes that hold was gradually increased, we do not know; but at the time when the question of Mitylênê came on for discussion, it had grown into a sort of ascendency which Thucydidês describes by saying that Kleon was “at that time by far the most persuasive speaker in the eyes of the people.” The fact of Kleon’s great power of speech, and his capacity[p. 248] of handling public business in a popular manner, is better attested than anything else respecting him, because it depends upon two witnesses both hostile to him,—Thucydidês and Aristophanês. The assembly and the dikastery were Kleon’s theatre and holding-ground: for the Athenian people taken collectively in their place of meeting, and the Athenian people taken individually, were not always the same person and had not the same mode of judgment: Demos sitting in the Pnyx, was a different man from Demos at home.[408] The lofty combination of qualities possessed by Periklês exercised ascendency over both one and the other; but the qualities of Kleon swayed considerably the former without standing high in the esteem of the latter.

When the fate of Mitylênê and its inhabitants was submitted to the Athenian assembly, Kleon took the lead in the discussion. There never was a theme more perfectly suited to his violent temperament and power of fierce invective. Taken collectively, the case of Mitylênê presented a revolt as inexcusable and aggravated as any revolt could be: and we have only to read the grounds of it, as set forth by the Mitylenæan speakers themselves before the Peloponnesians at Olympia, to be satisfied that such a proceeding, when looked at from the Athenian point of view, would be supposed to justify, and even to require, the very highest pitch of indignation. The Mitylenæans admit, not only that they have no ground of complaint against Athens, but that they have been well and honorably treated by her, with special privilege. But they fear that she may oppress them in future: they hate the very principle of her empire, and eagerly instigate, as well as aid, her enemies to subdue her: they select the precise moment in which she has been worn down by a fearful pestilence, invasion, and cost of war. Nothing more than this would be required to kindle the most intense wrath in the bosom of an Athenian patriot: but there was yet another point which weighed as much as the rest, if not more: the revolters had been the first to invite a Peloponnesian fleet across the Ægean, and the first to proclaim, both to Athens and her allies, the precarious tenure of her empire.[409] The violent Kleon would on this occasion find in[p. 249] the assembly an audience hardly less violent than himself, and would easily be able to satisfy them that anything like mercy to the Mitylenæans was treason to Athens. He proposed to apply to the captive city the penalties tolerated by the custom of war in their harshest and fullest measure: to kill the whole Mitylenæan male population of military age, probably about six thousand persons,—and to sell as slaves all the women and children.[410] The proposition, though strongly opposed by Diodotus and others, was sanctioned and passed by the assembly, and a trireme was forthwith despatched to Mitylênê, enjoining Pachês to put it in execution.[411]

Such a sentence was, in principle, nothing more than a very rigorous application of the received laws of war. Not merely the reconquered rebel, but even the prisoner of war, apart from any special convention, was at the mercy of his conqueror, to be slain, sold, or admitted to ransom: and we shall find the Lacedæmonians carrying out the maxim without the smallest abatement towards the Platæan prisoners, in the course of a very short time. And doubtless the Athenian people, so long as they remained in assembly, under that absorbing temporary intensification of the common and predominant sentiment which springs from the mere fact of multitude, and so long as they were discussing the principle of the case, What had Mitylênê deserved? thought only of this view. Less than the most rigorous measure of war, they would conceive, would be inadequate to the wrong done by the Mitylenæans. But when the assembly broke up,—when the citizen, no longer wound up by sympathizing companions and animated speakers in the Pnyx, subsided into the comparative quiescence of individual life,—when the talk came to be, not about the propriety of passing such a resolution, but about the details of executing it, a sensible change and marked repentance became presently visible. We must also recollect, and it is a principle of no small moment in human affairs, especially among a democratical people[p. 250] like the Athenians, who stand charged with so many resolutions passed and afterwards unexecuted, that the sentiment of wrath against the Mitylenæans had been really in part discharged by the mere passing of the sentence, quite apart from its execution; just as a furious man relieves himself from overboiling anger by imprecations against others which he would himself shrink from afterwards realizing. The Athenians, on the whole the most humane people in Greece,—though humanity, according to our ideas, cannot be predicated of any Greeks,—became sensible that they had sanctioned a cruel and frightful decree, and the captain and seamen,[412] to whom it was given to carry, set forth on their voyage with mournful repugnance. The Mitylenæan envoys present in Athens, who had probably been allowed to speak in the assembly and plead their own cause, together with those Athenians who had been proxeni and friends of Mitylênê, and the minority generally of the previous assembly, soon discerned, and did their best to foster, this repentance; which became, during the course of the same evening, so powerful as well as so wide-spread, that the stratêgi acceded to the prayer of the envoys, and convoked a fresh assembly for the morrow to reconsider the proceeding. By so doing, they committed an illegality, and exposed themselves to the chance of impeachment: but the change of feeling among the people was so manifest as to overbear any such scruples.[413]

Though Thucydidês had given us only a short summary, without any speeches, of what passed in the first assembly,—yet as to the second assembly, he gives us at length the speeches both of Kleon and Diodotus, the two principal orators of the first also. We may be sure that this second assembly was in all points one of the most interesting and anxious of the whole war;[p. 251] and though we cannot certainly determine what were the circumstances which determined Thucydidês in his selection of speeches, yet this cause, as well as the signal defeat of Kleon, whom he disliked, may probably be presumed to have influenced him here. That orator came forward to defend his proposition passed on the preceding day, and denounced in terms of indignation the unwise tenderness and scruples of the people, who could not bear to treat their subject-allies, according to the plain reality, as men held only by naked fear. He dwelt upon the mischief and folly of reversing on one day what had been decided on the day preceding,—upon the guilty ambition of orators, who sacrificed the most valuable interests of the commonwealth either to pecuniary gains, or to the personal credit of speaking with effect, triumphing over rivals, and setting up their own fancies in place of fact and reality. He deprecated the mistaken encouragement given to such delusions by a public “wise beyond what was written,” who came to the assembly, not to apply their good sense in judging of public matters, but merely for the delight of hearing speeches.[414] He restated the heinous and unprovoked wrong committed by the Mitylenæans,—and the grounds for inflicting upon them that maximum of punishment which “justice” enjoined. He called for “justice” against them; nothing less, but nothing more: warning the assembly that the imperial necessities of Athens essentially required the constant maintenance of a sentiment of fear in the minds of unwilling subjects, and that they must prepare to see their empire pass away if they suffered themselves to be guided either by compassion for those who, if victors, would have no compassion on them,[415]—or by unseasonable moderation towards those who would neither feel nor requite[p. 252] it,—or by the mere impression of seductive discourses. Justice against the Mitylenæans, not less than the strong political interests of Athens, required the infliction of the sentence decreed on the day preceding.[416]

The harangue of Kleon is in many respects remarkable. If we are surprised to find a man, whose whole importance resided in his tongue, denouncing so severely the license and the undue influence of speech in the public assembly, we must recollect that Kleon had the advantage of addressing himself to the intense prevalent sentiment of the moment,—that he could, therefore, pass off the dictates of this sentiment as plain, downright, honest sense and patriotism; while the opponents, speaking against the reigning sentiment, and therefore driven to collateral argument, circumlocution, and more or less of manœuvre, might be represented as mere clever sophists, showing their talents in making the worse appear the better reason,—if not actually bribed, at least unprincipled, and without any sincere moral conviction. As this is a mode of dealing with questions both of public concern and of private morality, not less common at present than it was in the time of the Peloponnesian war,—to seize upon some strong and tolerably wide-spread sentiment among the public, to treat the dictates of that sentiment as plain common sense and obvious right, and then to shut out all rational estimate of coming good and evil as if it were unholy or immoral, or at best mere uncandid subtlety,—we may well notice a case in which Kleon employs it to support a proposition now justly regarded as barbarous.

Applying our modern views to this proposition, indeed, the prevalent sentiment would not only not be in favor of Kleon, but would be irresistibly in favor of his opponents. To put to death in cold blood some six thousand persons, would so revolt modern feelings, as to overbalance all considerations of past misconduct in the persons to be condemned. Nevertheless, the speech of Diodotus, who followed and opposed Kleon, not only contains no appeal to any such merciful predispositions, but even positively[p. 253] disclaims appealing to them: the orator deprecates, not less than Kleon, the influence of compassionate sentiment, or of a spirit of mere compromise and moderation.[417] He farther discards considerations of justice or the analogies of criminal judicature,[418]—and rests his opposition altogether upon reasons of public prudence, bearing upon the future welfare and security of Athens.

[p. 254]

He begins by vindicating[419] the necessity of reconsidering the resolution just passed, and insists on the mischief of deciding so important a question in haste or under strong passion; he enters a protest against the unwarrantable insinuations of corruption or self-conceit by which Kleon had sought to silence or discredit his opponents;[420] and then, taking up the question on the ground of public wisdom and prudence, he proceeds to show that the rigorous sentence decreed on the preceding day was not to be defended. That sentence would not prevent any other among the subject-allies from revolting, if they saw, or fancied that they saw, a fair chance of success: but it might perhaps drive them,[421] if once embarked in revolt, to persist even to desperation, and bury themselves under the ruins of their city. While every means ought to be employed to prevent them from revolting, by precautions beforehand, it was a mistaken reckoning to try to deter them by enormity of punishment, inflicted afterwards upon such as were reconquered. In developing this argument, the speaker gives some remarkable views on the theory of punishment generally, and on the small addition obtained in the way of preventive effect even by the greatest aggravation of the suffering inflicted upon the condemned criminal,—views which might have passed as rare and profound even down to the last century.[422] And he farther supports his argument by emphatically setting forth the impolicy of confounding the Mitylenæan Demos in the same punishment with their oligarchy: the revolt had been the act exclusively of the latter, and the former had not[p. 255] only taken no part in it, but, as soon as they obtained possession of arms, had surrendered the city spontaneously. In all the allied cities, it was the commons who were well-affected to Athens, and upon whom her hold chiefly depended against the doubtful fidelity of the oligarchies:[423] but this feeling could not possibly continue, if it were now seen that all the Mitylenæans indiscriminately were confounded in one common destruction. Diodotus concludes by recommending that those Mitylenæans whom Pachês had sent to Athens as chiefs of the revolt, should be put upon their trial separately; but that the remaining population should be spared.[424]

This speech is that of a man who feels that he has the reigning and avowed sentiment of the audience against him, and that he must therefore win his way by appeals to their reason. The same appeals, however, might have been made, and perhaps had been made, during the preceding discussion, without success; but Diodotus knew that the reigning sentiment, though still ostensibly predominant, had been silently undermined during the last few hours, and that the reaction towards pity and moderation, which had been growing up under it, would work in favor of his arguments, though he might disclaim all intention of invoking its aid. After several other discourses, both for and against,—the assembly came to a vote, and the proposition of Diodotus was adopted; but adopted by so small a majority, that the decision seemed at first doubtful.[425]

But the trireme carrying the first vote had started the day before, and was already twenty-four hours on its way to Mitylênê. A second trireme was immediately put to sea, bearing the new decree; yet nothing short of superhuman exertions could enable it to reach the condemned city before the terrific sentence now on its way might be actually in course of execution. The Mitylenæan envoys stored the vessel well with provisions, promising[p. 256] large rewards to the crew if they arrived in time; and an intensity of effort was manifested, without parallel in the history of Athenian seamanship,—the oar being never once relaxed between Athens and Mitylênê, and the rowers merely taking turns for short intervals of rest, with refreshment of barley-meal steeped with wine and oil swallowed on their seats. Luckily, there was no unfavorable wind to retard them: but the object would have been defeated, if it had not happened that the crew of the first trireme were as slow and averse in the transmission of their rigorous mandate, as those of the second were eager for the delivery of the reprieve in time. And, after all, it came no more than just in time; the first trireme had arrived, the order for execution was actually in the hands of Pachês, and his measures were already preparing. So near was the Mitylenæan population to this wholesale destruction:[426] so near was Athens to the actual perpetration of an enormity which would have raised against her throughout Greece a sentiment of exasperation more deadly than that which she afterwards incurred even from the proceedings at Melos, Skiônê, and elsewhere. Had the execution been realized, the person who would have suffered most by it, and most deservedly, would have been the proposer, Kleon. For if the reaction in Athenian sentiment was so immediate and sensible after the mere passing of the sentence, far more violent would it have been when they learned that the deed had been irrevocably done, and when all its painful details were presented to their imaginations: and Kleon would have been held responsible as the author of that which had so disgraced them in their own eyes. As the case turned out, he was fortunate enough to escape this danger; and his proposition, to put to death those Mitylenæans whom Pachês had sent home as the active revolting party, was afterwards adopted and executed. It doubtless appeared so moderate after the previous decree passed but rescinded, as to be adopted with little resistance, and to provoke no after-repentance: yet the men so slain were rather more than one thousand in number.[427]

Besides this sentence of execution, the Athenians razed the[p. 257] fortifications of Mitylênê, and took possession of all her ships of war. In lieu of tribute, they farther established a new permanent distribution of the land of the island; all except Methymna, which had remained faithful to them. They distributed it into three thousand lots, of which three hundred were reserved for consecration to the gods, and the remainder assigned to Athenian kleruchs, or proprietary settlers, chosen by lot among the citizens; the Lesbian proprietors still remaining on the land as cultivating tenants, and paying to the Athenian kleruch an annual rent of two minæ, near four pounds sterling, for each lot. We should have been glad to learn more about this new land-settlement than the few words of the historian suffice to explain. It would seem that two thousand seven hundred Athenian citizens, with their families must have gone to reside, for the time at least, in Lesbos, as kleruchs; that is, without abnegating their rights as Athenian citizens, and without being exonerated either from Athenian taxation, or from personal military service. But it seems certain that these men did not continue long to reside in Lesbos: and we may even suspect that the kleruchic allotment of the island must have been subsequently abrogated. There was a strip on the opposite mainland of Asia, which had hitherto belonged to Mitylênê; this was now separated from that town, and henceforward enrolled among the tributary subjects of Athens.[428]

[p. 258]

To the misfortunes of Mitylênê belongs, as a suitable appendix, the fate of Pachês, the Athenian commander, whose perfidy at Notium has been recently recounted. It appears, that having contracted a passion for two beautiful free women at Mitylênê, Hellânis and Lamaxis, he slew their husbands, and got possession of them by force. Possibly, they may have had private friends at Athens, which must of course have been the case with many[p. 259] Mitylenæan families: at all events they repaired thither, bent on obtaining redress for this outrage, and brought their complaint against Pachês before the Athenian dikastery, in that trial of accountability to which every officer was liable at the close of his command. So profound was the sentiment which their case excited, in this open and numerous assembly of Athenian citizens, that the guilty commander, not waiting for sentence, slew himself with his sword in open court.[429]

[p. 260]

The surrender of Platæa to the Lacedæmonians took place not long after that of Mitylênê to the Athenians,—somewhat later in the same summer. Though the escape of one-half of the garrison had made the provisions last longer for the rest, still they had now come to be exhausted, and the remaining defenders were enfeebled and on the point of perishing by starvation. The Lacedæmonian commander of the blockading force, knowing their defenceless condition, could easily have taken the town by storm, had he not been forbidden by express orders from Sparta. For the Spartan government, calculating that peace might one day be concluded with Athens on terms of mutual cession of places acquired by war, wished to acquire Platæa, not by force but by capitulation and voluntary surrender, which would serve as an excuse for not giving it up: though such a distinction, between capture by force and by capitulation, not admissible in modern diplomacy, was afterwards found to tell against the Lacedæmonians quite as much as in their favor.[430] Acting upon these orders, the Lacedæmonian commander sent in a herald, summoning the Platæans to surrender voluntarily, and submit themselves to the Lacedæmonians as judges,—with a stipulation “that the wrong-doers[431] should be punished, but that none should be punished unjustly.” To the besieged, in their state of hopeless starvation, all terms were nearly alike, and they accordingly surrendered the city. After a few days’ interval, during which they received nourishment from the blockading army, five persons arrived from Sparta to sit in judgment upon their fate,—one, Aristomenidas, a Herakleid of the regal family.[432]

The five Spartans having taken their seat as judges, doubtless in full presence of the blockading army, and especially with the Thebans, the great enemies of Platæa, by their side,—the prisoners taken, two hundred Platæans and twenty-five Athenians, were brought up for trial, or sentence. No accusation was pre[p. 261]ferred against them by any one: but the simple question was put to them by the judges: “Have you, during the present war, rendered any service to the Lacedæmonians or to their allies?” The Platæans were confounded at a question alike unexpected and preposterous: it admitted but of one answer,—but before returning any categorical answer at all, they entreated permission to plead their cause at length. In spite of the opposition of the Thebans,[433] their request was granted: and Astymachus and Lakon, the latter proxenus of Sparta at Platæa, were appointed to speak on behalf of the body. Possibly, both these delegates may have spoken: if so, Thucydidês has blended the two speeches into one.

A more desperate position cannot be imagined, for the interrogatory was expressly so framed as to exclude allusion to any facts preceding the Peloponnesian war,—but the speakers, though fully conscious how slight was their chance of success, disregarded the limits of the question itself, and while upholding with unshaken courage the dignity of their little city, neglected no topic which could touch the sympathies of their judges. After remonstrating against the mere mockery of trial and judgment to which they were submitted, they appealed to the Hellenic sympathies, and lofty reputation for commanding virtue, of the Lacedæmonians,—they adverted to the first alliance of Platæa with Athens, concluded at the recommendation of the Lacedæmonians themselves, who had then declined, though formally solicited, to undertake the protection of the town against Theban oppression. They next turned to the Persian war, wherein Platæan patriotism towards Greece was not less conspicuous than Theban treason,[434]—to the victory gained over the Persians on their soil, whereby it had become hallowed under the promises of Pausanias, and by solemn appeals to the local gods. From the Persian war, they passed on to the flagitious attack made by the Thebans on Platæa, in the midst of the truce,[p. 262]—nor did they omit to remind the judges of an obligation personal to Sparta,—the aid which they had rendered, along with the Athenians, to Sparta, when pressed by the revolt of the Helots at Ithôme. This speech is as touching as any which we find in Thucydidês, and the skill of it consists in the frequency with which the hearers are brought back, time after time, and by well-managed transitions, to these same topics.[435] And such was the impression which it seemed to make on the five Lacedæmonian judges, that the Thebans near at hand found themselves under the necessity of making a reply to it: although we see plainly that the whole scheme of proceeding—the formal and insulting question, as well as the sentence destined to follow upon answer given—had been settled beforehand between them and the Lacedæmonians.

The Theban speakers contended that the Platæans had deserved, and brought upon themselves by their own fault, the enmity of Thebes,—that they had stood forward earnestly against the Persians, only because Athens had done so too, and that all the merit, whatever it might be, which they had thereby acquired, was counterbalanced and cancelled by their having allied themselves with Athens afterwards for the oppression and enslavement of the Æginetans, and of other Greeks equally conspicuous for zeal against Xerxes, and equally entitled to protection under the promises of Pausanias. The Thebans went on to vindicate their nocturnal surprise of Platæa, by maintaining that they had been invited by the most respectable citizens of the town,[436] who were anxious only to bring back Platæa from its alliance with a stranger to its natural Bœotian home,—and[p. 263] that they had abstained from anything like injurious treatment of the inhabitants, until constrained to use force in their own defence. They then reproached the Platæans, in their turn, with that breach of faith whereby ultimately the Theban prisoners in the town had been put to death. And while they excused their alliance with Xerxes, at the time of the Persian invasion, by affirming that Thebes was then under a dishonest party-oligarchy, who took this side for their own factious purposes, and carried the people with them by force,—they at the same time charged the Platæans with permanent treason against the Bœotian customs and brotherhood.[437] All this was farther enforced by setting forth the claims of Thebes to the gratitude of Lacedæmon, both for having brought Bœotia into the Lacedæmonian alliance, at the time of the battle of Korôneia, and for having furnished so large a portion of the common force in the war then going on.[438]

The discourse of the Thebans, inspired by bitter, and as yet unsatisfied hatred against Platæa, proved effectual: or rather it was superfluous,—the minds of the Lacedæmonians having before been made up. After the proposition twice made by Archidamus to the Platæans, inviting them to remain neutral, and even offering to guarantee their neutrality,—after the solemn apologetic protest tendered by him upon their refusal, to the gods, before he began the siege,—the Lacedæmonians conceived themselves exonerated from all obligation to respect the sanctity of the place;[439] looking upon the inhabitants as having voluntarily renounced their inviolability and sealed their own ruin. Hence[p. 264] the importance attached to that protest, and the emphatic detail with which it is set forth in Thucydidês. The five judges, as their only reply to the two harangues, again called the Platæans before them, and repeated to every one of them individually, the same question which had before been put: each one of them, as he successively replied in the negative,[440] was taken away and killed, together with the twenty-five Athenian prisoners. The women captured were sold as slaves: and the town and territory of Platæa were handed over to the Thebans, who at first established in them a few oligarchical Platæan exiles, together with some Megarian exiles,—but after a few months recalled this step, and blotted out Platæa,[441] as a separate town and territory, from the muster-roll of Hellas. They pulled down all the private buildings and employed the materials to build a vast barrack all round the Heræum, or temple of Hêrê, two hundred feet in every direction, with apartments of two stories above and below; partly as accommodation for visitors to the temple, partly as an abode for the tenant-farmers or graziers who were to occupy the land. A new temple of one hundred feet in length, was also built in honor of Hêrê, and ornamented with couches, prepared from the brass and iron furniture found in the private houses of the Platæans.[442] The Platæan territory was let out for ten years, as public property belonging to Thebes, and was hired by private Theban cultivators.

Such was the melancholy fate of Platæa, after sustaining a blockade of about two years.[443] Its identity and local traditions[p. 265] seemed thus extinguished, and the sacrifices, in honor of the deceased victors who had fought under Pausanias, suspended,—which the Platæan speakers had urged upon the Lacedæmonians as an impiety not to be tolerated,[444] and which perhaps the latter would hardly have consented to under any other circumstances except from an anxious desire of conciliating the Thebans in their prominent antipathy. It is in this way that Thucydidês explains the conduct of Sparta, which he pronounces to have been rigorous in the extreme.[445] And in truth it was more rigorous, considering only the principle of the case, and apart from the number of victims, than even the first unexecuted sentence of Athens against the Mitylenæans: for neither Sparta, nor even Thebes, had any fair pretence for considering Platæa as a revolted town, whereas Mitylênê was a city which had revolted under circumstances peculiarly offensive to Athens. Moreover, Sparta promised trial and justice to the Platæans on their surrender: Pachês promised nothing to the Mitylenæans, except that their fate should be reserved for the decision of the Athenian people. This little city—interesting from its Hellenic patriotism, its grateful and tenacious attachments, and its unmerited suffering—now existed only in the persons of its citizens harbored at Athens: we shall find it hereafter restored, destroyed again, and finally again restored: so checkered was the fate of a little Grecian state swept away by the contending politics of the greater neighbors. The slaughter of the twenty-five Athe[p. 266]nian prisoners, like that of Salæthus by the Athenians, was not beyond the rigor admitted and tolerated, though not always practised, on both sides, towards prisoners of war.

We have now gone through the circumstances, painfully illustrating the manners of the age, which followed on the surrender of Mitylênê and Platæa. We next pass to the west of Greece,—the island of Korkyra,—where we shall find scenes not less bloody, and even more revolting.

It has been already mentioned,[446] that in the naval combats between the Corinthians and Korkyræans during the year before the Peloponnesian war, the former had captured two hundred and fifty Korkyræan prisoners, men of the first rank and consequence in the island. Instead of following the impulse of blind hatred in slaughtering their prisoners, the Corinthians displayed, if not greater humanity, at least a more long-sighted calculation: they had treated the prisoners well, and made every effort to gain them over, with a view of employing them on the first opportunity to effect a revolution in the island,—to bring it into alliance with Corinth,[447] and disconnect it from Athens. Such an opportunity appears first to have occurred during the winter or spring of the present year, while both Mitylênê and Platæa were under blockade; probably about the time when Alkidas departed for Ionia, and when it was hoped that not only Mitylênê would be relieved, but the neighboring dependencies of Athens excited to revolt, and her whole attention thus occupied in that quarter. Accordingly, the Korkyræan prisoners were then sent home from Corinth, nominally under a heavy ransom of eight hundred talents, for which those Korkyræan citizens who acted as proxeni to Corinth made themselves responsible:[448] the proxeni, lending themselves thus to the deception, were doubtless participant in the entire design.

But it was soon seen in what form the ransom was really to be paid. The new-comers, probably at first heartily welcomed, after so long a detention, employed all their influence, combined with the most active personal canvass, to bring about a complete rupture of all alliance with Athens. Intimation being sent to[p. 267] Athens of what was going on, an Athenian trireme arrived with envoys to try and defeat these manœuvres; while a Corinthian trireme also brought envoys from Corinth to aid the views of the opposite party. The mere presence of Corinthian envoys indicated a change in the political feeling of the island: but still more conspicuous did this change become, when a formal public assembly, after hearing both envoys, decided,—that Korkyra would maintain her alliance with Athens according to the limited terms of simple mutual defence originally stipulated;[449] but would at the same time be in relations of friendship with the Peloponnesians, as she had been before the Epidamnian quarrel. But the alliance between Athens and Korkyra had since become practically more intimate, and the Korkyræan fleet had aided the Athenians in the invasion of Peloponnesus:[450] accordingly, the resolution, now adopted, abandoned the present to go back to the past,—and to a past which could not be restored.

Looking to the war then raging between Athens and the Peloponnesians, such a declaration was self-contradictory: nor, indeed, did the oligarchical party intend it as anything else than a step to a more complete revolution, both foreign and domestic. They followed it up by a political prosecution against Peithias, the citizen of greatest personal influence among the people, who acted by his own choice as proxenus to the Athenians. They accused him of practising to bring Korkyra into slavery to Athens. What were the judicial institutions of the island, under which he was tried, we do not know: but he was acquitted of the charge; and he then revenged himself by accusing in his turn five of the richest among his oligarchical prosecutors, of the crime of sacrilege,—as having violated the sanctity of the sacred grove of Zeus and Alkinous, by causing stakes, for their vine-props, to be cut in it.[451] This was an act distinctly forbidden by law, under[p. 268] penalty of a stater or four drachms for every stake so cut: but it is no uncommon phenomenon, even in societies politically better organized than Korkyra, to find laws existing and unrepealed, yet habitually violated, sometimes even by every one, but still oftener by men of wealth and power, whom most people would be afraid to prosecute: moreover, in this case, no individual was injured by the act, and any one who came forward to prosecute would incur the odium of an informer,—which probably Peithias might not have chosen to brave under ordinary circumstances, though he thought himself justified in adopting this mode of retaliation against those who had prosecuted him. The language of Thucydidês implies that the fact was not denied: nor is there any difficulty in conceiving that these rich men may have habitually resorted to the sacred property for vine-stakes. On being found guilty and condemned, they cast themselves as suppliants at the temples, and entreated the indulgence of being allowed to pay the fine by instalments: but Peithias, then a member of the (annual) senate, to whom the petition was referred, opposed it, and caused its rejection, leaving the law to take its course. It was moreover understood, that he was about to avail himself of his character of senator,—and of his increased favor, probably arising from the recent judicial acquittal,—to propose in the public assembly a reversal of the resolution recently passed, and a new resolution to recognize only the same friends and the same enemies as Athens.

Pressed by the ruinous fine upon the five persons condemned, as well as by the fear that Peithias might carry his point and thus completely defeat their project of Corinthian alliance, the oligarchical party resolved to carry their point by violence and murder. They collected a party armed with daggers, burst sud[p. 269]denly into the senate-house during full sitting, and there slew Peithias with sixty other persons, partly senators, partly private individuals: some others of his friends escaped the same fate by getting aboard the Attic trireme which had brought the envoys, and which was still in the harbor, but now departed forthwith to Athens. These assassins, under the fresh terror arising from their recent act, convoked an assembly, affirmed that what they had done was unavoidable to guard Korkyra against being made the slave of Athens, and proposed a resolution of full neutrality, both towards Athens and towards the Peloponnesians,—to receive no visit from either of the belligerents, except of a pacific character, and with one single ship at a time. And this resolution the assembly was constrained to pass,—it probably was not very numerous, and the oligarchical partisans were at hand in arms.[452] At the same time they sent envoys to Athens, to communicate the recent events with such coloring as suited their views, and to dissuade the fugitive partisans of Peithias from provoking any armed Athenian intervention, such as might occasion a counter-revolution in the island.[453] With some of the fugitives, representations of this sort, or perhaps the fear of compromising their own families, left behind, prevailed: but most of them, and the Athenians along with them, appreciated better both what had been done, and what was likely to follow. The oligarchical envoys, together with such of the fugitives as had been induced to adopt their views, were seized by the Athenians as conspirators, and placed in detention at Ægina; while a fleet of sixty Athenian triremes, under Eurymedon, was immediately fitted out to sail for Korkyra,—for which there was the greater necessity, as the Lacedæmonian fleet, under Alkidas, lately mustered at Kyllênê after its return from Ionia, was understood to be on the point of sailing thither.[454]

But the oligarchical leaders at Korkyra knew better than to rely on the chances of this mission to Athens, and proceeded in[p. 270] the execution of their conspiracy with that rapidity which was best calculated to insure its success. On the arrival of a Corinthian trireme, which brought ambassadors from Sparta, and probably also brought news that the fleet of Alkidas would shortly appear,—they organized their force, and attacked the people and the democratical authorities. The Korkyræan Demos were at first vanquished and dispersed; but during the night they collected together and fortified themselves in the upper parts of the town near the acropolis, and from thence down to the Hyllaic harbor, one of the two harbors which the town possessed; while the other harbor and the chief arsenal, facing the mainland of Epirus, was held by the oligarchical party, together with the market-place near to it, in and around which the wealthier Korkyræans chiefly resided. In this divided state the town remained throughout the ensuing day, during which the Demos sent emissaries round the territory soliciting aid from the working slaves, and promising to them emancipation as a reward; while the oligarchy also hired and procured eight hundred Epirotic mercenaries from the mainland. Reinforced by the slaves, who flocked in at the call received, the Demos renewed the struggle on the morrow, more furiously than before. Both in position and numbers they had the advantage over the oligarchy, and the intense resolution with which they fought communicated itself even to the women, who, braving danger and tumult, took active part in the combat, especially by flinging tiles from the housetops. Towards the afternoon, the people became decidedly victorious, and were even on the point of carrying by assault the lower town, together with the neighboring arsenal, both held by the oligarchy,—nor had the latter any other chance of safety except the desperate resource of setting fire to that part of the town, with the market-place, houses, and buildings all around it, their own among the rest. This proceeding drove back the assailants, but destroyed much property belonging to merchants in the warehouses, together with a large part of the town: indeed, had the wind been favorable the entire town would have been consumed. The people being thus victorious, the Corinthian trireme, together with most of the Epirotic mercenaries, thought it safer to leave the island; while the victors were still farther strengthened on the ensuing morning by the arrival of the Athenian[p. 271] admiral Nikostratus, with twelve triremes from Naupaktus,[455] and five hundred Messenian hoplites.

Nikostratus did his best to allay the furious excitement prevailing, and to persuade the people to use their victory with moderation. Under his auspices, a convention of amnesty and peace was concluded between the contending parties, save only ten proclaimed individuals of the most violent oligarchs, who were to be tried as ringleaders: these men of course soon disappeared, so that there would have been no trial at all, which seems to have been what Nikostratus desired. At the same time an alliance offensive and defensive was established between Korkyra and Athens, and the Athenian admiral was then on the point of departing, when the Korkyræan leaders entreated him to leave with them, for greater safety, five ships out of his little fleet of twelve,—offering him five of their own triremes instead. Notwithstanding the peril of this proposition to himself, Nikostratus acceded to it, and the Korkyræans, preparing the five ships to be sent along with him, began to enroll among the crews the names of their principal enemies. To the latter this presented the appearance of sending them to Athens, which they accounted a sentence of death. Under this impression they took refuge as suppliants in the temple of the Dioskuri, where Nikostratus went to visit them and tried to reassure them by the promise that nothing was intended against their personal safety. But he found it impossible to satisfy them, and as they persisted in refusing to serve, the Korkyræan Demos began to suspect treachery. They took arms again, searched the houses of the recusants for arms, and were bent on putting some of them to death, if Nikostratus had not taken them under his protection. The principal men of the defeated party, to the number of about four hundred, now took sanctuary in the temple and sacred ground of Hêrê; and the leaders of the people, afraid that in this inviolable position they might still cause further insurrection in the city, opened a negotiation and prevailed upon them to be ferried across to the little island immediately opposite to the Heræum; where they were kept under watch, with provisions regularly transmitted across to them, for four days.[456]

[p. 272]

At the end of these four days, while the uneasiness of the popular leaders still continued, and Nikostratus still adjourned his departure, a new phase opened in this melancholy drama. The Peloponnesian fleet under Alkidas arrived at the road of Sybota on the opposite mainland,—fifty-three triremes in number, for the forty triremes brought back from Ionia had been reinforced by thirteen more from Leukas and Ambrakia, and the Lacedæmonians had sent down Brasidas as advising companion,—himself worth more than the new thirteen triremes, if he had been sent to supersede Alkidas, instead of bringing nothing but authority to advise.[457] Despising the small squadron of Nikostratus, then at Naupaktus, they were only anxious to deal with Korkyra before reinforcements should arrive from Athens: but the repairs necessary for the ships of Alkidas, after their disastrous voyage home, occasioned an unfortunate delay. When the Peloponnesian fleet was seen approaching from Sybota at break of day, the confusion in Korkyra was unspeakable: the Demos and the newly-emancipated slaves were agitated alike by the late terrible combat and by fear of the invaders,—the oligarchical party, though defeated, was still present and forming a considerable minority, and the town was half burnt. Amidst such elements of trouble, there was little authority to command, and still less confidence or willingness to obey. Plenty of triremes were indeed at hand, and orders were given to man sixty of them forthwith,—while Nikostratus, the only man who preserved the cool courage necessary for effective resistance, entreated the Korkyræan leaders to proceed with regularity, and to wait till all were manned, so as to sail forth from the harbor in a body. He offered himself with his twelve Athenian triremes to go forth first alone, and occupy the Peloponnesian fleet, until the Korkyræan sixty triremes could all come out in full array to support him. He accordingly went forth with his squadron; but the Korkyræans, instead of following his advice, sent their ships out one by one and without any selection of crews. Two of them deserted forthwith to the enemy, while others presented the spectacle of crews fighting among themselves; even those which[p. 273] actually joined battle came up by single ships, without the least order or concert.

The Peloponnesians, soon seeing that they had little to fear from such enemies, thought it sufficient to set twenty of their ships against the Korkyræans, while with the remaining thirty-three they moved forward to contend with the twelve Athenians. Nikostratus, having plenty of sea-room, was not afraid of this numerical superiority,—the more so, as two of his twelve triremes were the picked vessels of the Athenian navy,—the Salaminia and the Paralus.[458] He took care to avoid entangling himself with the centre of the enemy, and to keep rowing about their flanks; and as he presently contrived to disable one of their ships, by a fortunate blow with the beak of one of his vessels, the Peloponnesians, instead of attacking him with their superior numbers, formed themselves into a circle and stood on the defensive, as they had done in the first combat with Phormio in the middle of the strait at Rhium. Nikostratus (like Phormio) rowed round this circle, trying to cause confusion by feigned approach, and waiting to see some of the ships lose their places or run foul of each other, so as to afford him an opening for attack. And he might perhaps have succeeded, if the remaining twenty Peloponnesian ships, seeing the proceeding, and recollecting with dismay the success of a similar manœuvre in the former battle, had not quitted the Korkyræan ships, whose disorderly condition they despised, and hastened to join their comrades. The whole fleet of fifty-three triremes now again took the aggressive, and advanced to attack Nikostratus, who retreated before them, but backing astern and keeping the head of his ships towards the enemy. In this manner he succeeded in drawing them away from the town, so as to leave to most of the Korkyræan ships opportunity for getting back to the harbor; while such was the superior manœuvring of the Athenian triremes, that the Peloponnesians were never able to come up with him or force him to action. They returned back in the evening to Sybota, with no greater triumph[p. 274] than their success against the Korkyræans, thirteen of whose triremes they carried away as prizes.[459]

It was the expectation in Korkyra, that they would on the morrow make a direct attack—which could hardly have failed of success—on the town and harbor; and we may easily believe (what report afterwards stated), that Brasidas advised Alkidas to this decisive proceeding. And the Korkyræan leaders, more terrified than ever, first removed their prisoners from the little island to the Heræum, and then tried to come to a compromise with the oligarchical party generally, for the purpose of organizing some effective and united defence. Thirty triremes were made ready and manned, wherein some even of the oligarchical Korkyræans were persuaded to form part of the crews. But the slackness of Alkidas proved their best defence: instead of coming straight to the town, he contented himself with landing in the island at some distance from it, on the promontory of Leukimnê: after ravaging the neighboring lands for some hours, he returned to his station at Sybota. He had lost an opportunity which never again returned: for on the very same night the fire-signals of Leukas telegraphed to him the approach of the fleet under Eurymedon from Athens,—sixty triremes. His only thought was now for the escape of the Peloponnesian fleet, which was in fact saved by this telegraphic notice. Advantage was taken of the darkness to retire close along the land as far as the isthmus which separates Leukas from the mainland,—across which isthmus the ships were dragged by hand or machinery, so that they might not fall in with or be descried by the Athenian fleet in sailing round the Leukadian promontory. From hence Alkidas made the best of his way home to Peloponnesus, leaving the Korkyræan oligarchs to their fate.[460]

That fate was deplorable in the extreme. The arrival of Eurymedon opens a third unexpected transition in this checkered narrative,—the Korkyræan Demos passing, abruptly and unexpectedly, from intense alarm and helplessness to elate and irresistible mastery. In the bosom of Greeks, and in a population seemingly amongst the least refined of all Greeks,—including too a great many slaves just emancipated against the will of[p. 275] their masters, and of course the fiercest and most discontented of all the slaves in the island,—such a change was but too sure to kindle a thirst for revenge almost ungovernable, as the only compensation for foregone terror and suffering. As soon as the Peloponnesian fleet was known to have fled, and that of Eurymedon was seen approaching, the Korkyræan leaders brought into the town the five hundred Messenian hoplites who had hitherto been encamped without; thus providing a resource against any last effort of despair on the part of their interior enemies. Next, the thirty ships recently manned,—and held ready, in the harbor facing the continent, to go out against the Peloponnesian fleet, but now no longer needed, were ordered to sail round to the other or Hyllaic harbor. Even while they were thus sailing round, some obnoxious men of the defeated party, being seen in public, were slain: but when the ships arrived at the Hyllaic harbor, and the crews were disembarked, a more wholesale massacre was perpetrated, by singling out those individuals of the oligarchical faction who had been persuaded on the day before to go aboard as part of the crews, and putting them to death.[461] Then came the fate of those suppliants, about four hundred in number, who had been brought back from the islet opposite, and were yet under sanctuary in the sacred precinct of the Heræum. It was proposed to them to quit sanctuary and stand their trial; and fifty of them having accepted the proposition, were put on their trial,—all condemned, and all executed. Their execution took place, as it seems, immediately on the spot, and within actual view of the unhappy men still remaining in the sacred ground;[p. 276][462] who, seeing that their lot was desperate, preferred dying by their own hands to starvation or the sword of their enemies. Some hung themselves on branches of the trees surrounding the temple, others helped their friends in the work of suicide, and, in one way or another, the entire band thus perished: it was probably a consolation to them to believe, that this desecration of the precinct would bring down the anger of the gods upon their surviving enemies.

Eurymedon remained with his fleet for seven days, during all which time the victorious Korkyræans carried on a sanguinary persecution against the party who had been concerned in the late oligarchical revolution. Five hundred of this party contrived to escape by flight to the mainland; while those who did not, or could not flee, were slain wherever they could be found. Some received their death-wounds even on the altar itself,—others shared the same fate, after having been dragged away from it by violence. In one case, a party of murderers having pursued their victims to the temple of Dionysius, refrained from shedding their blood, but built up the doorway and left them to starve; as the Lacedæmonians had done on a former occasion respecting Pausanias. Such was the ferocity of the time, that in one case a father slew his own son. Nor was it merely the oligarchical party who thus suffered: the floodgates of private feud were also opened, and various individuals, under false charges of having been concerned in the oligarchical movements, were slain by personal enemies or debtors. This deplorable suspension of legal, as well as moral restraints, continued during the week of Eurymedon’s stay,—a period long enough to satiate the fierce sentiment out of which it arose;[463] yet without any apparent effort on his part to soften the victors or protect the vanquished. We shall see farther reason hereafter to appreciate the baseness and want of humanity in his character: but had Nikostratus remained in command, we may fairly presume, judging by what he had done in the earlier part of the sedition, with very inferior force, that he would have set much earlier limits to the Kor[p. 277]kyræan butchery: unfortunately, Thucydidês tells us nothing at all about Nikostratus, after the naval battle of the preceding day.[464]

We should have been glad to hear something about the steps taken in the way of restoration or healing, after this burst of murderous fury, in which doubtless the newly-emancipated slaves were not the most backward, and after the departure of Eurymedon. But here again Thucydidês disappoints our curiosity. We only hear from him, that the oligarchical exiles who had escaped to the mainland were strong enough to get possession of the forts and most part of the territory there belonging to Korkyra; just as the exiles from Samos and Mitylênê became more or less completely masters of the Peræa or mainland possessions belonging to those islands. They even sent envoys to Corinth and Sparta, in hopes of procuring aid to accomplish their restoration by force, but their request found no favor, and they were reduced to their own resources. After harassing for some time the Korkyræans in the island by predatory incursions, so as to produce considerable dearth and distress, they at length collected a band of Epirotic mercenaries, passed over to the island, and[p. 278] there established a fortified position on the mountain called Istônê, not far from the city. They burned their vessels in order to cut off all hopes of retreat, and maintained themselves for near two years on a system of ravage and plunder which inflicted great misery on the island.[465] This was a frequent way whereby, of old, invaders wore out and mastered a city, the walls of which they found impregnable. The ultimate fate of these occupants of Istônê, which belongs to a future chapter, will be found to constitute a close suitable to the bloody drama yet unfinished in Korkyra.

Such a drama could not be acted, in an important city belonging to the Greek name, without producing a deep and extensive impression throughout all the other cities. And Thucydidês has taken advantage of it to give a sort of general sketch of Grecian politics during the Peloponnesian war; violence of civil discord in each city, aggravated by foreign war, and by the contending efforts of Athens and Sparta,—the former espousing the democratical party everywhere; the latter, the oligarchical. The Korkyræan sedition was the first case in which these two causes of political antipathy and exasperation were seen acting with full united force, and where the malignity of sentiment and demoralization flowing from such an union was seen without disguise. The picture drawn by Thucydidês, of moral and political feeling under these influences, will ever remain memorable as the work of an analyst and a philosopher: he has conceived and described the perverting causes with a spirit of generalization which renders these two chapters hardly less applicable to other political societies, far distant both in time and place,—especially, under many points of view, to France between 1789 and 1799,—than to Greece in the fifth century before the Christian era. The deadly bitterness infused into intestine party contests by the accompanying dangers of foreign war and intervention of foreign enemies,—the mutual fears between political rivals, where each thinks that the other will forestall him in striking a mortal blow, and where constitutional maxims have ceased to carry authority either as restraint or as protection,—the superior popularity of the man who is most forward with the sword, or who runs down[p. 279] his enemies in the most unmeasured language, coupled with the disposition to treat both prudence in action and candor in speech as if it were nothing but treachery or cowardice,—the exclusive regard to party ends, with the reckless adoption, and even admiring preference, of fraud or violence as the most effectual means,—the loss of respect for legal authority, as well as of confidence in private agreement, and the surrender even of blood and friendship to the overruling ascendency of party-ties,—the perversion of ordinary morality, bringing with it altered signification of all the common words importing blame or approbation,—the unnatural predominance of the ambitious and contentious passions, overpowering in men’s minds all real public objects, and equalizing for the time the better and the worse cause, by taking hold of democracy on one side and aristocracy on the other as mere pretences to sanctify personal triumph,—all these gloomy social phenomena, here indicated by the historian, have their causes deeply seated in the human mind, and are likely, unless the bases of constitutional morality shall come to be laid more surely and firmly than they have hitherto been, to recur from time to time, under diverse modifications, “so long as human nature shall be the same as it is now,” to use the language of Thucydidês himself.[466] He has described, with fidelity not[p. 280] inferior to his sketch of the pestilence at Athens, the symptoms of a certain morbid political condition, wherein the vehemence[p. 281] of intestine conflict, instead of being kept within such limits as consists with the maintenance of one society among the contending parties, becomes for the time inflamed and poisoned with all the unscrupulous hostility of foreign war, chiefly from actual alliance between parties within the state and foreigners without. In following the impressive description of the historian, we have to keep in mind the general state of manners in his time, especially the cruelties tolerated by the laws of war, as compared with that greater humanity and respect for life which has grown up during the last two centuries in modern Europe. And we have farther to recollect that if he had been describing the effects of political fury among Carthaginians and Jews, instead of among his contemporary Greeks, he would have added to his list of horrors mutilation, crucifixion, and other refinements on simple murder.

The language of Thucydidês is to be taken rather as a generalization and concentration of phenomena which he had observed among different communities, rather than as belonging altogether to any one of them. Nor are we to believe—what a superficial reading of his opening words might at first suggest—that the bloodshed in Korkyra was only the earliest, but by no means the worst, of a series of similar horrors spread over the Grecian world. The facts stated in his own history suffice to show that though the same causes which worked upon this unfortunate island became disseminated, and produced analogous mischiefs throughout many other communities, yet the case of Korkyra, as it was the first, so it was also the worst and most aggravated in point of intensity. Fortunately, the account of Thucydidês enables us to understand it from beginning to end, and to appreciate the degree of guilt of the various parties implicated, which we can seldom do with certainty; because when once the interchange of violence has begun, the feelings arising out of the contest itself presently overpower in the minds of both parties the original cause of dispute, as well as all scruples[p. 282] as to fitness of means. Unjustifiable acts in abundance are committed by both, and in comparing the two, we are often obliged to employ the emphatic language which Tacitus uses respecting Otho and Vitellius: “Deteriorem fore, quisquis vicisset;” of two bad men, all that the Roman world could foresee was, that the victor, whichsoever he was, would prove the worst.

But in regard to the Korkyræan revolution, we can arrive at a more discriminating criticism. We see that it is from the beginning the work of a selfish oligarchical party, playing the game of a foreign enemy, and the worst and most ancient enemy of the island,—aiming to subvert the existing democracy and acquire power for themselves, and ready to employ any measure of fraud or violence for the attainment of these objects. While the democracy which they attack is purely defensive and conservative, the oligarchical movers, having tried fair means in vain, are the first to employ foul means, which latter they find retorted with greater effect against themselves. They set the example of judicial prosecution against Peithias, for the destruction of a political antagonist; in the use of this same weapon, he proves more than a match for them, and employs it to their ruin. Next, they pass to the use of the dagger in the senate-house, against him and his immediate fellow-leaders, and to the wholesale application of the sword against the democracy generally. The Korkyræan Demos are thus thrown upon the defensive, and instead of the affections of ordinary life, all the most intense anti-social sentiments,—fear, pugnacity, hatred, vengeance, obtain unqualified possession of their bosoms; exaggerated too through the fluctuations of victory and defeat successively brought by Nikostratus, Alkidas, and Eurymedon. Their conduct as victors is such as we should expect under such maddening circumstances, from coarse men, mingled with liberated slaves: it is vindictive and murderous in the extreme, not without faithless breach of assurances given. But we must remember that they are driven to stand upon their defence, and that all their energies are indispensable to make that defence successful. They are provoked by an aggression no less guilty in the end than in the means,—an aggression, too, the more gratuitous, because, if we look at the state of the island at the time when the oligarchical captives[p. 283] were restored from Corinth, there was no pretence for affirming that it had suffered, or was suffering, any loss, hardship, or disgrace, from its alliance with Athens. These oligarchical insurgents find the island in a state of security and tranquillity,—since the war imposed upon it little necessity for effort,—they plunge it into a sea of blood, with enormities as well as suffering on both sides, which end at length in their own complete extermination. Our compassion for their final misery must not hinder us from appreciating the behavior whereby it was earned.

In the course of a few years from this time, we shall have occasion to recount two political movements in Athens, similar in principle and general result to this Korkyræan revolution; exhibiting oligarchical conspirators against an existing and conservative democracy, with this conspiracy at first successful, but afterwards put down, and the Demos again restored. The contrast between Athens and Korkyra, under such circumstances, will be found highly instructive, especially in regard to the Demos, both in the hours of defeat and in those of victory. It will then be seen how much the habit of active participation in political and judicial affairs,—of open, conflicting discussion, discharging the malignant passions by way of speech, and followed by appeal to the vote,—of having constantly present, to the mind of every citizen, in his character of dikast or ekklesiast, the conditions of a pacific society, and the paramount authority of a constitutional majority,—how much all these circumstances, brought home as they were at Athens more than in any other democracy to the feelings of individuals, contributed to soften the instincts of intestine violence and revenge, even under very great provocation.

But the case of Korkyra, as well as that of Athens, different in so many respects, conspire to illustrate another truth, of much importance in Grecian history. Both of them show how false and impudent were the pretensions set up by the rich and great men of the various Grecian cities, to superior morality, superior intelligence, and greater fitness for using honorably and beneficially the powers of government, as compared with the mass of the citizens. Though the Grecian oligarchies, exercising powerful sway over fashion, and more especially over the meaning of[p. 284] words, bestowed upon themselves the appellation of “the best men, the honorable and good, the elegant, the superior,” etc., and attached to those without their own circle epithets of a contrary tenor, implying low moral attributes,—no such difference will be found borne out by the facts of Grecian history.[467] Abundance of infirmity, with occasional bad passions, was doubtless liable to work upon the people generally, often corrupting and misguiding even the Athenian democracy, the best apparently of all the democracies in Greece. But after all, the rich and great men were only a part of the people, and taking them as a class, apart from honorable individual exceptions, by no means the best part. If exempted by their position from some of the vices which beset smaller and poorer men, they imbibed from that same position an unmeasured self-importance, and an excess of personal ambition as well as of personal appetite, peculiar to themselves, not less anti-social in tendency, and operating upon a much grander scale. To the prejudices and superstitions belonging to the age, they were noway superior, considering them as a class; while their animosities among one another, virulent and unscrupulous, were among the foremost causes of misfortune in Grecian commonwealth,—and indeed many of the most exceptionable acts committed by the democracies, consisted in their allowing themselves to be made the tools of one aristocrat for the ruin of another. Of the intense party-selfishness which characterized them as a body, sometimes exaggerated into the strongest anti-popular antipathy, as we see in the famous oligarchical oath cited by Aristotle,[468] we shall find many illustrations as we advance in the history, but none more striking than this Korkyræan revolution.

[p. 285]


About the same time as the troubles of Korkyra occurred, Nikias, the Athenian general, conducted an armament against the rocky island of Minôa, which lay at the mouth of the harbor of Megara, and was occupied by a Megarian fort and garrison. The narrow channel, which separated it from the Megarian port of Nisæa, and formed the entrance of the harbor, was defended by two towers projecting out from Nisæa, which Nikias attacked and destroyed by means of battering machines from his ships. He thus cut off Minôa from communication on that side with the Megarians, and fortified it on the other side, where it communicated with the mainland by a lagoon bridged over with a causeway. Minôa, thus becoming thoroughly insulated, was more completely fortified and made an Athenian possession; since it was eminently convenient to keep up an effective blockade against the Megarian harbor, which the Athenians had hitherto done only from the opposite shore of Salamis.[469]

Though Nikias, son of Nikeratus, had been for some time conspicuous in public life, and is said to have been more than once stratêgus along with Periklês, this is the first occasion on which Thucydidês introduces him to our notice. He was now one of the stratêgi, or generals of the commonwealth, and appears to have enjoyed, on the whole, a greater and more constant personal esteem than any citizen of Athens, from the present time down to his death. In wealth and in family he ranked among the first class of Athenians: in political character, Aristotle placed him, together with Thucydidês son of Melêsias and Theramenês, above all other names in Athenian history,—seemingly even[p. 286] above Periklês.[470] Such a criticism, from Aristotle, deserves respectful attention, though the facts before us completely belie so lofty an estimate. It marks, however, the position occupied by Nikias in Athenian politics, as the principal person of what maybe called the oligarchical party, succeeding Kimon and Thucydidês, and preceding Theramenês. In looking to the conditions under which this party continued to subsist, we shall see that, during the interval between Thucydidês (son of Melêsias) and Nikias, the democratical forms had acquired such confirmed ascendency, that it would not have suited the purpose of any politician to betray evidence of positive hostility to them, prior to the Sicilian expedition, and the great embarrassment in the foreign relations of Athens which arose out of that disaster. After that change, the Athenian oligarchs became emboldened and aggressive, so that we shall find Theramenês among the chief conspirators in the revolution of the Four Hundred: but Nikias represents the oligarchical party in its previous state of quiescence and torpidity, accommodating itself to a sovereign democracy, and existing in the form of common sentiment rather than of common purposes. And it is a remarkable illustration of the real temper of the Athenian people, that a man of this character, known as an oligarch but not feared as such, and doing his duty sincerely to the democracy, should have remained until his death the most esteemed and influential man in the city. He was a man of a sort of even mediocrity, in intellect, in education, and in oratory: forward in his military duties, and not only personally courageous in the field, but also competent as a general under ordinary circumstances:[471] assiduous in the discharge of all political duties at home, especially in the post of stratêgus, or one of the ten generals of the state, to which he was frequently chosen and rechosen. Of the many valuable qualities combined in his predecessor Periklês, the recollection of whom was yet fresh in[p. 287] the Athenian mind, Nikias possessed two, on which, most of all his influence rested,—though, properly speaking, that influence belongs to the sum total of his character, and not to any special attributes in it: First, he was thoroughly incorruptible, as to pecuniary gains,—a quality so rare in Grecian public men of all the cities, that when a man once became notorious for possessing it, he acquired a greater degree of trust than any superiority of intellect could have bestowed upon him: next, he adopted the Periklêan view as to the necessity of a conservative or stationary foreign policy for Athens, and of avoiding new acquisitions at a distance, adventurous risks, or provocation to fresh enemies. With this important point of analogy, there were at the same time material differences between them, even in regard to foreign policy. Periklês was a conservative, resolute against submitting to loss or abstraction of empire, as well as refraining from aggrandizement: Nikias was in policy faint-hearted, averse to energetic effort for any purpose whatever, and disposed, not only to maintain peace, but even to purchase it by considerable sacrifices. Nevertheless, he was the leading champion of the conservative party of his day, always powerful at Athens: and as he was constantly familiar with the details and actual course of public affairs, capable of giving full effect to the cautious and prudential point of view, and enjoying unqualified credit for honest purposes,—his value as a permanent counsellor was steadily recognized, even though in particular cases his counsel might not be followed.

Besides these two main points, which Nikias had in common with Periklês, he was perfect in the use of those minor and collateral modes of standing well with the people, which that great man had taken little pains to practise. While Periklês attached himself to Aspasia, whose splendid qualities did not redeem, in the eyes of the public, either her foreign origin or her unchastity, the domestic habits of Nikias appear to have been strictly conformable to the rules of Athenian decorum. Periklês was surrounded by philosophers, Nikias by prophets,—whose advice was necessary both as a consolation to his temperament, and as a guide to his intelligence under difficulties; one of them was constantly in his service and confidence, and his conduct appears to have been sensibly affected by the difference of character between[p. 288] one prophet and another,[472] just as the government of Louis the Fourteenth, and other Catholic princes, has been modified by the change of confessors. To a life thus rigidly decorous and ultra-religious—both eminently acceptable to the Athenians—Nikias added the judicious employment of a large fortune with a view to popularity. Those liturgies—or expensive public duties undertaken by rich men each in his turn, throughout other cities of Greece as well as in Athens—which fell to his lot were performed with such splendor, munificence, and good taste, as to procure for him universal encomiums; and so much above his predecessors as to be long remembered and extolled. Most of these liturgies were connected with the religious service of the state, so that Nikias, by his manner of performing them, displayed his zeal for the honor of the gods at the same time that he laid up for himself a store of popularity. Moreover, the remarkable caution and timidity—not before an enemy, but in reference to his own fellow-citizens—which marked his character, rendered him preëminently scrupulous as to giving offence or making personal enemies. While his demeanor towards the poorer citizens generally was equal and conciliating, the presents which he made were numerous, both to gain friends and to silence assailants. We are not surprised to hear that various bullies, whom the comic writers turn to scorn, made their profit out of this susceptibility,—but most assuredly Nikias as a public man, though he might occasionally be cheated out of money, was greatly assisted by the reputation which he thus acquired.

The expenses unavoidable in such a career, combined with strict personal honesty, could not have been defrayed except by another quality, which ought not to count as discreditable to Nikias, though in this too he stood distinguished from Periklês. He was a careful and diligent money-getter; a speculator in the silver mines of Laurium, and proprietor of one thousand slaves, whom he let out for work in them, receiving a fixed sum per head for each: the superintending slaves who managed the details of[p. 289] this business were men of great ability and high pecuniary value.[473] Most of the wealth of Nikias was held in this form, and not in landed property. Judging by what remains to us of the comic authors, this must have been considered as a perfectly gentlemanlike way of making money: for while they abound with derision of the leather-dresser Kleon, the lamp-maker Hyperbolus, and the vegetable-selling mother to whom Euripidês owes his birth, we hear nothing from them in disparagement of the slave-letter Nikias. The degree to which the latter was thus occupied with the care of his private fortune, together with the general moderation of his temper, made him often wish to abstract himself from public duty: but such unambitious reluctance, rare among the public men of the day, rather made the Athenians more anxious to put him forward and retain his services. In the eyes of the Pentakosiomedimni and the Hippeis, the two richest classes in Athens, he was one of themselves,—and on the whole, the best man, as being so little open to reproach or calumny, whom they could oppose to the leather-dressers and lamp-makers who often out-talked them in the public assembly. The hoplites, who despised Kleon,—and did not much regard even the brave, hardy, and soldierlike Lamachus, because he happened to be poor,[474]—respected in Nikias the union of wealth and family with honesty, courage, and carefulness in command. The maritime and trading multitude esteemed him as a decorous, honest, religious gentleman, who gave splendid choregies, treated the poorest men with consideration, and never turned the public service into a job for his own profit,—who, moreover, if he possessed no commanding qualities, so as to give to his advice imperative and irresistible authority, was yet always worthy of being consulted, and a steady safeguard against public mischief. Before the fatal Sicilian expedition, he had never commanded on any very serious or difficult enterprise, but what he had done had been accomplished successfully; so that he enjoyed the reputation of a for[p. 290]tunate as well as a prudent commander.[475] He appears to have acted as proxenus to the Lacedæmonians at Athens; probably by his own choice, and among several others.

The first half of the political life of Nikias,—after the time when he rose to enjoy full consideration in Athens, being already of mature age,—was spent in opposition to Kleon; the last half, in opposition to Alkibiadês. To employ terms which are not fully suitable to the Athenian democracy, but which yet bring to view the difference intended to be noted better than any others, Nikias was a minister or ministerial man, often actually exercising and always likely to exercise official functions,—Kleon was a man of the opposition, whose province it was to supervise and censure official men for their public conduct. We must divest these words of that sense which they are understood to carry in English political life,—a standing parliamentary majority in favor of one party: Kleon would often carry in the public assembly resolutions, which his opponents Nikias and others of like rank and position,—who served in the posts of stratêgus, ambassador, and other important offices designated by the general vote, were obliged against their will to execute. In attaining such offices they were assisted by the political clubs, or established conspiracies (to translate the original literally), among the leading Athenians, to stand by each other both for acquisition of office and for mutual insurance under judicial trial. These clubs, or hetæries, must without doubt have played a most important part in the practical working of Athenian politics, and it is much to be regretted that we are possessed of no details respecting them. We know that in Athens they were thoroughly oligarchical in disposition,[476]—while equality, or something near to it, in rank[p. 291] and position must have been essential to the social harmony of the members: in some towns, it appears that such political associations existed under the form of gymnasia,[477] for the mutual exercise of the members, or of syssitia for joint banquets. At Athens they were numerous, and doubtless not habitually in friendship with each other, since the antipathies among different oligarchical men were exceedingly strong, and the union brought about between them at the time of the Four Hundred arose only out of common desire to put down the democracy, and lasted but a little while. But the designation of persons to serve in the capacity of stratêgus and other principal offices greatly depended upon them,—as well as the facility of passing through that trial of accountability to which every man was liable after his year of office. Nikias, and men generally of his rank and fortune, helped by these clubs, and lending help in their turn, composed what may be called the ministers, or executive individual functionaries of Athens: the men who acted, gave orders to individual men as to[p. 292] specific acts, and saw to the execution of that which the senate and the public assembly resolved. Especially in regard to the military and naval force of the city, so large and so actively employed at this time, the powers of detail possessed by the stratêgi must have been very great and essential to the safety of the state.

While Nikias was thus in what may be called ministerial function, Kleon was not of sufficient importance to attain the same, but was confined to the inferior function of opposition: we shall see in the coming chapter how he became as it were promoted, partly by his own superior penetration, partly by the dishonest artifice and misjudgment of Nikias and other opponents, in the affair of Sphakteria. But his vocation was now to find fault, to censure, to denounce; his theatre of action was the senate, the public assembly, the dikasteries; his principal talent was that of speech, in which he must unquestionably have surpassed all his contemporaries. The two gifts which had been united in Periklês—superior capacity for speech as well as for action—were now severed, and had fallen, though both in greatly inferior degree, the one to Nikias, the other to Kleon. As an opposition-man, fierce and violent in temper, Kleon was extremely formidable to all acting functionaries; and from his influence in the public assembly, he was doubtless the author of many important positive measures, thus going beyond the functions belonging to what is called opposition. But though the most effective speaker in the public assembly, he was not for that reason the most influential person in the democracy: his powers of speech in fact, stood out the more prominently, because they were found apart from that station, and those qualities which were considered, even at Athens, all but essential to make a man a leader in political life. To understand the political condition of Athens at this time, it has been necessary to take this comparison between Nikias and Kleon, and to remark, that though the latter might be a more victorious speaker, the former was the more guiding and influential leader; the points gained by Kleon were all noisy and palpable, sometimes however, without doubt, of considerable moment,—but the course of affairs was much more under the direction of Nikias.

It was during the summer of this year, the fifth of the war,[p. 293]B.C. 427, that the Athenians began operations on a small scale in Sicily; probably contrary to the advice both of Nikias and Kleon, neither of them seemingly favorable to these distant undertakings. I reserve, however, the series of Athenian measures in Sicily—which afterwards became the turning-point of the fortunes of the state—for a department by themselves. I shall take them up separately, and bring them down to the Athenian expedition against Syracuse, when I reach the date of that important event.

During the autumn of the same year, the epidemic disorder, after having intermitted for some time, resumed its ravages at Athens, and continued for one whole year longer, to the sad ruin both of the strength and the comfort of the city. And it seems that this autumn, as well as the ensuing summer, were distinguished by violent atmospheric and terrestrial disturbance. Numerous earthquakes were experienced at Athens, in Eubœa, in Bœotia, especially near Orchomenus. Sudden waves of the sea and unexampled tides were also felt on the coast of Eubœa and Lokris, and the islands of Atalantê and Peparêthus; the Athenian fort and one of the two guard-ships at Atalantê were partially destroyed. The earthquakes produced one effect favorable to Athens; they deterred the Lacedæmonians from invading Attica. Agis, king of Sparta, had already reached the isthmus for that purpose; but the repeated earthquakes were looked upon as an unfavorable portent, and the scheme was abandoned.[478]

These earthquakes, however, were not considered as calculated to deter the Lacedæmonians from the foundation of Herakleia, a new colony near the strait of Thermopylæ. On this occasion, we hear of a branch of the Greek population not before mentioned during the war. The coast immediately north of the strait of Thermopylæ was occupied by the three subdivisions of the Malians,—Paralii, Hierês, and Trachinians. These latter, immediately adjoining Mount Œta on its north side,—as well as the Dorians, the little tribe properly so called, which was accounted the primitive hearth of the Dorians generally, who joined the same mountain-range on the south,—were both of[p. 294] them harassed and plundered by the predatory mountaineers, probably Ætolians, on the high lands between them. At first, the Trachinians were disposed to throw themselves on the protection of Athens; but not feeling sufficiently assured as to the way in which she would deal with them, they joined with the Dorians in claiming aid from Sparta: in fact, it does not appear that Athens, possessing naval superiority only, and being inferior on land, could have given them effective aid. The Lacedæmonians eagerly embraced the opportunity, and determined to plant a strong colony in this tempting situation: there was wood in the neighboring regions for ship-building,[479] so that they might hope to acquire a naval position for attacking the neighboring island of Eubœa, while the passage of troops against the subject-allies of Athens in Thrace, would also be facilitated; the impracticability of such passage had forced them, three years before, to leave Potidæa to its fate. A considerable body of colonists, Spartans and Lacedæmonian Periœki, was assembled under the conduct of three Spartan œkists,—Leon, Damagon, and Alkidas; the latter we are to presume, though Thucydidês does not say so, was the same admiral who had met with such little success in Ionia and at Korkyra. Proclamation was farther made to invite the junction of all other Greeks as colonists, excepting by name Ionians, Achæans, and some other tribes not here specified. Probably the distinct exclusion of the Achæans must have been rather the continuance of ancient sentiment than dictated by any present reasons; since the Achæans were not now pronounced enemies of Sparta. A number of colonists, stated as not less than ten thousand, flocked to the place, having confidence in the stability of the colony under the powerful protection of Sparta; and a new town, of large circuit, was built and fortified under the name of Herakleia;[480] not far from the site of Trachis, about two miles and a quarter from the nearest point of[p. 295] the Maliac gulf, but about double that distance from the strait of Thermopylæ. Near to the latter, and for the purpose of keeping effective possession of it, a port, with dock and accommodation for shipping, was constructed.

A populous city, established under Lacedæmonian protection in this important post, alarmed the Athenians, and created much expectation in every part of Greece: but the Lacedæmonian œkists were harsh and unskilful in their management, and the Thessalians, to whom the Trachinian territory was tributary, considered the colony as an encroachment upon their soil. Anxious to prevent its increase, they harassed it with hostilities from the first moment, while the Œtæan assailants were not idle: and Herakleia, thus pressed from without, and misgoverned within, dwindled down from its original numbers and promise, barely maintaining its existence.[481] We shall find it in later times, however, revived, and becoming a place of considerable importance.

The main Athenian armament of this summer, consisting of sixty triremes, under Nikias, undertook an expedition against the island of Melos. Melos and Thera, both inhabited by ancient colonists from Lacedæmon, had never been from the beginning, and still refused to be, members of the Athenian alliance, or subjects of the Athenian empire. They thus stood out as exceptions to all the other islands in the Ægean, and the Athenians thought themselves authorized to resort to constraint and conquest; believing themselves entitled to command over all the islands. They might indeed urge, and with considerable plausibility, that the Melians now enjoyed their share of the protection of the Ægean from piracy, without contributing at all to the cost of it: but considering the obstinate reluctance and strong Lacedæmonian prepossessions of the Melians, who had taken no part in the war, and given no ground of offence to Athens, the attempt to conquer them by force could hardly be justified even as a calculation of gain and loss, and was a mere gratification to the pride of power in carrying out what, in modern days, we should call the principle of maritime empire. Melos and Thera formed awkward corners, which defaced the symmetry of a great propri[p. 296]etor’s field;[482] and the former ultimately entailed upon Athens the heaviest of all losses,—a deed of blood which deeply dishonored her annals. On this occasion, Nikias visited the island with his fleet, and after vainly summoning the inhabitants, ravaged the lands, but retired without undertaking a siege. He then sailed away, and came to Orôpus, on the northeast frontier of Attica, bordering on Bœotia: the hoplites on board his ships landed in the night, and marched into the interior of Bœotia, to the vicinity of Tanagra. They were here met, according to signal raised, by a military force from Athens, which marched thither by land; and the joint Athenian army ravaged the Tanagræan territory, gaining an insignificant advantage over its defenders. On retiring, Nikias reassembled his armament, sailed northward along the coast of Lokris with the usual ravages, and returned home without effecting anything farther.[483]

About the same time that he started, thirty other Athenian triremes, under Demosthenês and Proklês, had been sent round Peloponnesus to act upon the coast of Akarnania. In conjunction with the whole Akarnanian force, except the men of Œniade,—with fifteen triremes from Korkyra, and some troops from Kephallênia and Zakynthus,—they ravaged the whole territory of Leukas, both within and without the isthmus, and confined the inhabitants to their town, which was too strong to be taken by anything but a wall of circumvallation and a tedious blockade. And the Akarnanians, to whom the city was especially hostile, were urgent with Demosthenês to undertake this measure forthwith, since the opportunity might not again recur, and success was nearly certain.

But this enterprising officer committed the grave imprudence of offending them on a matter of great importance, in order to attack a country of all others the most impracticable,—the interior of Ætolia. The Messenians of Naupaktus, who suffered from the depredations of the neighboring Ætolian tribes, inflamed his imagination by suggesting to him a grand scheme of opera[p. 297]tions,[484] more worthy of the large force which he commanded than the mere reduction of Leukas. The various tribes of Ætolians,—rude, brave, active, predatory, and unrivalled in the use of the javelin, which they rarely laid out of their hands,—stretched across the country from between Parnassus and Œta to the eastern bank of the Achelôus. The scheme suggested by the Messenians was, that Demosthenês should attack the great central Ætolian tribes,—the Apodôti, Ophioneis, and Eurytânes: if they were conquered, all the remaining continental tribes between the Ambrakian gulf and Mount Parnassus might be invited or forced into the alliance of Athens,—the Akarnanians being already included in it. Having thus got the command of a large continental force,[485] Demosthenês contemplated the ulterior scheme of marching at the head of it on the west of Parnassus, through the territory of the Ozolian Lokrians,—inhabiting the north of the Corinthian gulf, friendly to Athens, and enemies to the Ætolians, whom they resembled both in their habits and in their fighting,—until he arrived at Kytinium, in Doris, in the upper portion of the valley of the river Kephisus. He would then easily descend that valley into the territory of the Phocians, who were likely to join the Athenians if a favorable opportunity occurred, but who might at any rate be constrained to do so. From Phocis, the scheme was to invade from the northward the conterminous territory of Bœotia, the great enemy of Athens: which might thus perhaps be completely subdued, if assailed at the same time from Attica. Any Athenian general, who could have executed this comprehensive scheme, would have acquired at home a high and well-merited celebrity. But Demosthenês had been ill-informed, both of the invincible barbarians and the pathless country comprehended under the name of Ætolia: some of[p. 298] the tribes spoke a language scarcely intelligible to Greeks, and even eat their meat raw, while the country has even down to the present time remained not only unconquered, but untraversed, by an enemy in arms.

Demosthenês accordingly retired from Leukas, in spite of the remonstrance of the Akarnanians, who not only could not be induced to accompany him, but went home in visible disgust, He then sailed with his other forces—Messenians, Kephallenians, and Zakynthians—to Œneon, in the territory of the Ozolian Lokrians, a maritime township on the Corinthian gulf, not far eastward of Naupaktus,—where his army was disembarked, together with three hundred epibatæ (or marines) from the triremes,—including on this occasion, what was not commonly the case on shipboard,[486] some of the choice hoplites, selected all from young men of the same age, on the Athenian muster-roll. Having passed the night in the sacred precinct of Zeus Nemeus at Œneon, memorable as the spot where the poet Hesiod was said to have been slain, he marched early in the morning, under the guidance of the Messenian Chromon, into[p. 299] Ætolia; on the first day he took Potidania, on the second Krokyleium, on the third Teichium,—all of them villages unfortified and undefended, for the inhabitants abandoned them and fled to the mountains above. He was here inclined to halt and wait the junction of the Ozolian Lokrians, who had engaged to invade Ætolia at the same time, and were almost indispensable to his success, from their familiarity with Ætolian warfare and similarity of weapons. But the Messenians again persuaded him to advance without delay into the interior, in order that the villages might be separately attacked and taken before any collective force could be gathered together: and Demosthenês was so encouraged by having as yet encountered no resistance, that he advanced to Ægitium, which he also found deserted, and captured without opposition.

Here however was the term of his good fortune. The mountains round Ægitium were occupied not only by the inhabitants of that village, but also by the entire force of Ætolia, collected even from the distant tribes Bomiês and Kalliês, who bordered on the Maliac gulf. The invasion of Demosthenês had become known beforehand to the Ætolians, who not only forewarned all their tribes of the approaching enemy, but also sent ambassadors to Sparta and Corinth to ask for aid.[487] However, they showed themselves fully capable of defending their own territory, without foreign aid: and Demosthenês found himself assailed, in his position at Ægitium, on all sides at once, by these active highlanders, armed with javelins, pouring down from the neighboring hills. Not engaging in any close combat, they retreated when[p. 300] the Athenians advanced forward to charge them,—resuming their aggression the moment that the pursuers, who could never advance far in consequence of the ruggedness of the ground, began to return to the main body. The small number of bowmen along with Demosthenês for some time kept their unshielded assailants at bay; but the officer commanding the bowmen was presently slain, and the stock of arrows became nearly exhausted; and what was still worse, Chromon, the Messenian, the only man who knew the country, and could serve as guide, was slain also. The bowmen became thus either ineffective or dispersed; while the hoplites exhausted themselves in vain attempts to pursue and beat off an active enemy, who always returned upon them, and in every successive onset thinned and distressed them more and more. At length the force of Demosthenês was completely broken, and compelled to take flight; but without beaten roads, without guides, and in a country not only strange to them, but impervious from continual mountain, rock, and forest. Many of them were slain in the flight by pursuers, superior not less in rapidity of movement than in knowledge of the country: some even lost themselves in the forest, and perished miserably in flames kindled around them by the Ætolians: and the fugitives were at length reassembled at Œneon, near the sea, with the loss of Proklês, the colleague of Demosthenês in command, as well as of one hundred and twenty hoplites, among the best-armed and most vigorous in the Athenian muster-roll.[488] The remaining force was soon transported back from Naupaktus to Athens, but Demosthenês remained behind, being too much afraid of the displeasure of his countrymen to return at such a moment. It is certain that his conduct was such as justly to incur their displeasure; and that the expedition against Ætolia, alienating an established ally and provoking a new enemy, had been conceived with a degree of rashness which nothing but the unexpected favor of fortune could have counterbalanced.

The force of the new enemy whom his unsuccessful attack had raised into activity, soon made itself felt. The Ætolian envoys despatched to Sparta and Corinth found it easy to obtain the promise of a considerable force to join them in an expedition[p. 301] against Naupaktus: and about the month of September, a body of three thousand Peloponnesian hoplites, including five hundred from the newly-founded colony of Herakleia, was assembled at Delphi, under the command of Eurylochus, Makarius, and Menedemus. Their road of march to Naupaktus lay through the territory of the Ozolian Lokrians, whom they proposed either to gain over or to subdue. With Amphissa, the largest Lokrian township, and in the immediate neighborhood of Delphi, they had little difficulty,—for the Amphissians were in a state of feud with their neighbors on the other side of Parnassus, and were afraid that the new armament might become the instrument of Phocian antipathy against them. On the very first application they joined the Spartan alliance, and gave hostages for their fidelity to it: moreover, they persuaded many other Lokrian petty villages—among others the Myoneis, who were masters of the most difficult pass on the road—to do the same. Eurylochus received from these various townships reinforcements for his army, as well as hostages for their fidelity, whom he deposited at Kytinium in Doris: and he was thus enabled to march through all the territory of the Ozolian Lokrians without resistance; except from Œneon and Eupalion, both which places he took by force. Having arrived in the territory of Naupaktus, he was there joined by the full force of the Ætolians; and their joint efforts, after laying waste all the neighborhood, captured the Corinthian colony of Molykreion, which had become subject to the Athenian empire.[489]

Naupaktus, with a large circuit of wall and thinly defended, was in the greatest danger, and would certainly have been taken, had it not been saved by the efforts of the Athenian Demosthenês, who had remained there ever since the unfortunate Ætolian expedition. Apprized of the coming march of Eurylochus, he went personally to the Akarnanians, and persuaded them to send a force to aid in the defence of Naupaktus: for a long time they turned a deaf ear to his solicitations, in consequence of the refusal to blockade Leukas, but they were at length induced to consent. At the head of one thousand Akarnanian hoplites, Demosthenês threw himself into Naupaktus; and Eurylochus,[p. 302] seeing that the town had thus been placed out of the reach of attack, abandoned all his designs upon it,—marching farther westward to the neighboring territories of Ætolia, Kalydon, Pleuron, and Proschium, near the Achelôus and the borders of Akarnania. The Ætolians, who had come down to join him for the common purpose of attacking Naupaktus, here abandoned him and retired to their respective homes. But the Ambrakiots, rejoiced to find so considerable a Peloponnesian force in their neighborhood, prevailed upon him to assist them in attacking the Amphilochian Argos as well as Akarnania; assuring him that there was now a fair prospect of bringing the whole of the population of the mainland, between the Ambrakian and Corinthian gulfs, under the supremacy of Lacedæmon. Having persuaded Eurylochus thus to keep his forces together and ready, they themselves with three thousand Ambrakiot hoplites invaded the territory of the Amphilochian Argos, and captured the fortified hill of Olpæ immediately bordering on the Ambrakian gulf, about three miles from Argos itself: this hill had been in former days employed by the Akarnanians as a place for public judicial congress of the whole nation.[490]

This enterprise, communicated forthwith to Eurylochus, was the signal for movement on both sides. The Akarnanians marched with their whole force to the protection of Argos, and occupied a post called Krênæ in the Amphilochian territory, hoping to be able to prevent Eurylochus from effecting his junction with the Ambrakiots at Olpæ. They at the same time sent urgent messages to Demosthenês at Naupaktus, and to the Athenian guard-squadron of twenty triremes under Aristotelês and Hierophon, entreating their aid in the present need, and inviting Demosthenês to act as their commander. They had forgotten their displeasure against him arising out of his recent refusal to blockade at Leukas,—for which they probably thought that he had been sufficiently punished by his disgrace in Ætolia; while they knew and esteemed his military capacity. In fact, the accident whereby he had been detained at Naupaktus, now worked fortunately for them as well as for him: it secured to them a commander whom all of them respected, obviating the jealousies[p. 303] among their own numerous petty townships,—it procured for him the means of retrieving his own reputation at Athens. Demosthenês, not backward in seizing this golden opportunity, came speedily into the Ambrakian gulf with the twenty Athenian triremes, conducting two hundred Messenian hoplites and sixty Athenian bowmen. He found the whole Akarnanian force concentrated at the Amphilochian Argos, and was named general along with the Akarnanian generals, but in reality enjoying the whole direction of the operations.

He found also the whole of the enemy’s force, both the three thousand Ambrakiot hoplites and the Peloponnesian division under Eurylochus, already united and in position at Olpæ, about three miles off. For Eurylochus, as soon as he was apprized that the Ambrakiots had reached Olpæ, broke up forthwith his camp at Proschium in Ætolia, knowing that his best chance of traversing the hostile territory of Akarnania consisted in celerity: the whole Akarnanian force, however, had already gone to Argos, so that his march was unopposed through that country. He crossed the Achelôus, marched westward of Stratus, through the Akarnanian townships of Phytia, Medeon, and Limnæa, then quitting both Akarnania and the direct road from Akarnania to Argos, he struck rather eastward into the mountainous district of Thyamus, in the territory of the Agræans, who were enemies of the Akarnanians. From hence he descended at night into the territory of Argos, and passed unobserved under cover of the darkness between Argos itself, and the Akarnanian force at Krênæ; so as to join in safety the three thousand Ambrakiots at Olpæ; to their great joy,—for they had feared that the enemy at Argos and Krênæ would have arrested his passage; and feeling their force inadequate to contend alone, they had sent pressing messages home to demand large reinforcements for themselves and their own protection.[491]

Demosthenês thus found an united and formidable enemy, superior in number to himself, at Olpæ, and conducted his troops from Argos and Krênæ to attack them. The ground was rugged and mountainous, and between the two armies lay a steep ravine which neither liked to be the first to pass, so that they lay for five[p. 304] days inactive. If Herodotus had been our historian, he would probably have ascribed this delay to unfavorable sacrifices (which may probably have been the case), and would have given us interesting anecdotes respecting the prophets on both sides; but the more positive and practical genius of Thucydidês merely acquaints us, that on the sixth day both armies put themselves in order of battle,—both probably tired of waiting. The ground being favorable for ambuscade, Demosthenês hid in a bushy dell four hundred hoplites and light-armed, so that they might spring up suddenly in the midst of the action upon the Peloponnesian left, which outflanked his right. He was himself on the right with the Messenians and some Athenians, opposed to Eurylochus on the left of the enemy: the Akarnanians, with the Amphilochian akontists, or darters, occupied his left, opposed to the Ambrakiot hoplites: Ambrakiots and Peloponnesians were, however, intermixed in the line of Eurylochus, and it was only the Mantineans who maintained a separate station of their own towards the left centre. The battle accordingly began, and Eurylochus with his superior numbers was proceeding to surround Demosthenês, when on a sudden the men in ambush rose up and set upon his rear. A panic seized his men, and they made no resistance worthy of their Peloponnesian reputation: they broke and fled, while Eurylochus, doubtless exposing himself with peculiar bravery in order to restore the battle, was early slain. Demosthenês, having near him his best troops, pressed them vigorously and their panic communicated itself to the troops in the centre, so that all were put to flight and pursued to Olpæ. On the right of the line of Eurylochus, the Ambrakiots, the most warlike Greeks in the Epirotic regions, completely defeated the Akarnanians opposed to them, and carried their pursuit even as far as Argos. So complete, however, was the victory gained by Demosthenês over the remaining troops, that these Ambrakiots had great difficulty in fighting their way back to Olpæ, which was not accomplished without severe loss, and late in the evening. Among all the beaten troops, the Mantineans were those who best maintained their retreating order.[492] The loss in the army of[p. 305] Demosthenês was about three hundred: that of the opponents much greater, but the number is not specified.

Of the three Spartan commanders, two, Eurylochus and Makarius, had been slain: the third, Menedæus, found himself beleaguered both by sea and land,—the Athenian squadron being on guard along the coast. It would seem, indeed, that he might have fought his way to Ambrakia, especially as he would have met the Ambrakiot reinforcement coming from the city. But whether this were possible or not, the commander, too much dispirited to attempt it, took advantage of the customary truce granted for burying the dead, to open negotiations with Demosthenês and the Akarnanian generals, for the purpose of obtaining an unmolested retreat. This was peremptorily refused: but Demosthenês (with the consent of the Akarnanian leaders) secretly intimated to the Spartan commander and those immediately around him, together with the Mantineans and other Peloponnesian troops,—that if they chose to make a separate and surreptitious retreat, abandoning their comrades, no opposition would be offered: for he designed by this means, not merely to isolate the Ambrakiots, the great enemies of Argos and Akarnania, along with the body of miscellaneous mercenaries who had come under Eurylochus, but also to obtain the more permanent advantage of disgracing the Spartans and Peloponnesians in the eyes of the Epirotic Greeks, as cowards and traitors to military fellowship. The very reason which prompted Demosthenês to grant a separate facility of escape, ought to have been imperative with Menedæus and the Peloponnesians around him, to make them spurn it with indignation: yet such was their anxiety for personal safety, that this disgraceful convention was accepted, ratified, and carried into effect forthwith. It stands alone in Grecian history, as a specimen of separate treason in officers, to purchase safety for themselves by abandoning those under their command. Had the officers been Athenian, it would have been doubtless quoted as an example of the pretended faithlessness of democracy: but as it was the act of a Spartan commander in conjunction with many leading Peloponnesians, we can only remark upon it as a farther manifestation of that intra-Peloponnesian selfishness, and carelessness of obligation[p. 306] towards extra-Peloponnesian Greeks, which we found so lamentably prevalent during the invasion of Xerxes; in this case indeed heightened by the fact that the men deserted were fellow-Dorians and fellow-soldiers, who had just fought in the same ranks.

As soon as the ceremony of burying the dead had been completed, Menedæus, and the Peloponnesians who were protected by this secret convention, stole away slyly and in small bands under pretence of collecting wood and vegetables: on getting to a little distance, they quickened their pace and made off,—much to the dismay of the Ambrakiots, who ran after them and tried to overtake them. The Akarnanians pursued, and their leaders had much difficulty in explaining to them the secret convention just concluded. Nor was it without some suspicions of treachery, and even personal hazard, from their own troops, that they at length caused the fugitive Peloponnesians to be respected; while the Ambrakiots, the most obnoxious of the two to Akarnanian feeling, were pursued without any reserve, and two hundred of them were slain before they could escape into the friendly territory of the Agræans.[493] To distinguish Ambrakiots from Peloponnesians, similar in race and dialect, was, however, no easy task, and much dispute arose in individual cases.

Unfairly as this loss fell upon Ambrakia, a far more severe calamity was yet in store for her. The large reinforcement from the city, which had been urgently invoked by the detachment at Olpæ, started in due course as soon as it could be got ready, and entered the territory of Amphilochia about the time when the battle of Olpæ was fought, but ignorant of that misfortune, and hoping to arrive soon enough to stand by their friends. Their march was made known to Demosthenês, on the day after the battle, by the Amphilochians; who, at the same time, indicated to him the best way of surprising them in the rugged and mountainous road along which they had to march, at the two conspicuous peaks called Idomenê, immediately above a narrow pass leading farther on to Olpæ. It was known beforehand, by the line of march of the Ambrakiots, that they would rest for the night at the lower of these two peaks, ready to march through[p. 307] the pass on the next morning. On that same night, a detachment of Amphilochians, under direction from Demosthenês, seized the higher of the two peaks; while that commander himself, dividing his forces into two divisions, started from his position at Olpæ in the evening after supper. One of these divisions, having the advantage of Amphilochian guides in their own country, marched by an unfrequented mountain road to Idomenê; the other, under Demosthenês himself, went directly through the pass leading from Idomenê to Olpæ. After marching all night, they reached the camp of the Ambrakiots a little before daybreak,—Demosthenês himself with his Messenians in the van. The surprise was complete; the Ambrakiots were found still lying down and asleep, while even the sentinels, uninformed of the recent battle,—hearing themselves accosted in the Doric dialect by the Messenians, whom Demosthenês had placed in front for that express purpose, and not seeing very clearly in the morning twilight, mistook them for some of their own fellow-citizens coming back from the other camp. The Akarnanians and Messenians thus fell among the Ambrakiots sleeping and unarmed, and without any possibility of resistance. Large numbers of them were destroyed on the spot, and the remainder fled in all directions among the neighboring mountains, none knowing the roads and the country; it was the country of the Amphilochians, subjects of Ambrakia, but subjects averse to their condition, and now making use of their perfect local knowledge and light-armed equipment, to inflict a terrible revenge on their masters. Some of the Ambrakiots became entangled in ravines,—others fell into ambuscades laid by the Amphilochians. Others again, dreading most of all to fall into the hands of the Amphilochians, barbaric in race as well as intensely hostile in feeling, and seeing no other possibility of escaping them, swam off to the Athenian ships cruising along the shore. There were but a small proportion of them who survived to return to Ambrakia.[494]

The complete victory of Idomenê, admirably prepared by Demosthenês, was achieved with scarce any loss: and the Akarnanians, after erecting their trophy, despoiled the enemy’s dead and carried off the arms thus taken to Argos.

[p. 308]

On the morrow they were visited by a herald, coming from those Ambrakiots who had fled into the Agræan territory, after the battle of Olpæ, and the subsequent pursuit. He came with the customary request from defeated soldiers, for permission to bury their dead who had fallen in that pursuit. Neither he, nor those from whom he came, knew anything of the destruction of their brethren at Idomenê,—just as these latter had been ignorant of the defeat at Olpæ; while, on the other hand, the Akarnanians in the camp, whose minds were full of the more recent and capital advantage at Idomenê, supposed that the message referred to the men slain in that engagement. The numerous panoplies just acquired at Idomenê lay piled up in the camp, and the herald, on seeing them, was struck with amazement at the size of the heap, so much exceeding the number of those who were missing in his own detachment. An Akarnanian present asked the reason of his surprise, and inquired how many of his comrades had been slain,—meaning to refer to the slain at Idomenê. “About two hundred,” the herald replied. “Yet these arms here show, not that number, but more than a thousand men.” “Then they are not the arms of those who fought with us.” “Nay, but they are; if ye were the persons who fought yesterday at Idomenê.” “We fought with no one yesterday: it was the day before yesterday, in the retreat.” “O, then ye have to learn, that we were engaged yesterday with these others, who were on their march as reinforcement from the city of Ambrakia.”

The unfortunate herald now learned for the first time that the large reinforcement from his city had been cut to pieces. So acute was his feeling of mingled anguish and surprise, that he raised a loud cry of woe, and hurried away at once, without saying another word; not even prosecuting his request about the burial of the dead bodies,—which appears on this fatal occasion to have been neglected.[495]

His grief was justified by the prodigious magnitude of the calamity, which Thucydidês considers to have been the greatest that afflicted any Grecian city during the whole war prior to the peace of Nikias; so incredibly great, indeed, that though he had[p. 309] learned the number slain, he declines to set it down, from fear of not being believed,—a scruple which we, his readers, have much reason to regret. It appears that nearly the whole adult military population of Ambrakia was destroyed, and Demosthenês was urgent with the Akarnanians to march thither at once: had they consented, Thucydidês tells us positively that the city would have surrendered without a blow.[496] But they refused to undertake the enterprise, fearing, according to the historian, that the Athenians at Ambrakia would be more troublesome neighbors to them than the Ambrakiots. That this reason was operative, we need not doubt: but it can hardly have been either the single, or even the chief, reason; for, had it been so, they would have been equally afraid of Athenian coöperation in the blockade of Leukas, which they had strenuously solicited from Demosthenês, and had quarrelled with him for refusing. Ambrakia was less near to them[p. 310] than Leukas, and in its present exhausted state, inspired less fear: but the displeasure arising from the former refusal of Demosthenês had probably never been altogether appeased, nor were they sorry to find an opportunity of mortifying him in a similar manner.

In the distribution of the spoil, three hundred panoplies were first set apart as the perquisite of Demosthenês: the remainder were then distributed, one-third for the Athenians, the other two-thirds among the Akarnanian townships. The immense reserve, personally appropriated to Demosthenês, enables us to make some vague conjecture as to the total loss of Ambrakiots. The fraction of one-third, assigned to the Athenian people, must have been, we may imagine, six times as great, and perhaps even in larger proportion, than the reserve of the general: for the latter was at that time under the displeasure of the people, and anxious above all things to regain their favor,—an object which would be frustrated rather than promoted, if his personal share of the arms were not greatly disproportionate to the collective claim of the city. Reasoning upon this supposition, the panoplies assigned to Athens would be eighteen hundred, and the total of Ambrakiot slain, whose arms became public property, would be five thousand four hundred. To which must be added some Ambrakiots killed in their flight from Idomenê by the Amphilochians, in dells, ravines, and by-places: probably those Amphilochians, who slew them, would appropriate the arms privately, without bringing them into the general stock. Upon this calculation, the total number of Ambrakiot slain in both battles and both pursuits, would be about six thousand: a number suitable to the grave expressions of Thucydidês, as well as to his statements, that the first detachment which marched to Olpæ was three thousand strong, and that the message sent home invoked as reinforcement the total force of the city. How totally helpless Ambrakia had become, is still more conclusively proved by the fact that the Corinthians were obliged shortly afterwards to send by land a detachment of three hundred hoplites for its defence.[497]

The Athenian triremes soon returned to their station at Nau[p. 311]paktus, after which a convention was concluded between the Akarnanians and Amphilochians on the one side, and the Ambrakiots and Peloponnesians—who had fled after the battle of Olpæ into the territory of Salynthius and the Agræi—on the other, insuring a safe and unmolested egress to both of the latter.[498] With the Ambrakiots a more permanent pacification was effected: the Akarnanians and Amphilochians concluded with them a peace and alliance for one hundred years, on condition that they should surrender all the Amphilochian territory and hostages in their possession, and should bind themselves to furnish no aid to Anaktorium, then in hostility to the Akarnanians. Each party, however, maintained its separate alliance,—the Ambrakiots with the Peloponnesian confederacy, the Akarnanians with Athens: it was stipulated that the Akarnanians should[p. 312] not be required to assist the Ambrakiots against Athens, nor the Ambrakiots to assist the Akarnanians against the Peloponnesian league; but against all other enemies, each engaged to lend aid to the other.[499]

To Demosthenês personally, the events on the coast of the Ambrakian gulf proved a signal good fortune, well-earned indeed by the skill which he had displayed. He was enabled to atone for his imprudence in the Ætolian expedition, and to reëstablish himself in the favor of the Athenian people. He sailed home in triumph to Athens, during the course of the winter, with his reserved present of three hundred panoplies, which acquired additional value from the accident, that the larger number of panoplies, reserved out of the spoil for the Athenian people, were captured at sea, and never reached Athens. Accordingly, those brought by Demosthenês were the only trophy of the victory, and as such were deposited in the Athenian temples, where Thucydidês mentions them as still existing at the time when he wrote.[500]

It was in the same autumn that the Athenians were induced by an oracle to undertake the more complete purification of the sacred island of Delos. This step was probably taken to propitiate Apollo, since they were under the persuasion that the terrible visitation of the epidemic was owing to his wrath. And as it was about this period that the second attack of the epidemic, after having lasted a year, disappeared,—many of them probably ascribed this relief to the effect of their pious cares at Delos. All the tombs in the island were opened; the dead bodies were then exhumed, and reinterred in the neighboring island of Rheneia: and orders were given that for the future no deaths and no births should take place in the sacred island. Moreover, the ancient Delian festival—once the common point of meeting and solemnity for the whole Ionic race, and celebrated for its musical contests, before the Lydian and Persian conquests had[p. 313] subverted the freedom and prosperity of Ionia—was now renewed. The Athenians celebrated the festival with its accompanying matches, even the chariot-race, in a manner more splendid than had ever been known in former times: and they appointed a similar festival to be celebrated every fourth year. At this period they were excluded both from the Olympic and the Pythian games, which probably made the revival of the Delian festival more gratifying to them. The religious zeal and munificence of Nikias was strikingly displayed at Delos.[501]


The invasion of Attica by the Lacedæmonians had now become an ordinary enterprise, undertaken in every year of the war except the third and sixth, and then omitted only from accidental causes; though the same hopes were no longer entertained from it as at the commencement of the war. During the present spring, Agis king of Sparta conducted the Peloponnesian army into the territory, seemingly about the end of April, and repeated the usual ravages.

It seemed, however, as if Korkyra were about to become the principal scene of the year’s military operations: for the exiles of the oligarchical party, having come back to the island and fortified themselves on Mount Istônê, carried on war with so much activity against the Korkyræans in the city, that distress and even famine reigned there; while sixty Peloponnesian triremes were sent thither to assist the aggressors. As soon as it became known at Athens how hardly the Korkyræans in the city were pressed, orders were given to an Athenian fleet of forty triremes, about to sail for Sicily under Eurymedon and Sophoklês, to halt[p. 314] in their voyage at Korkyra, and to lend whatever aid might be needed.[502] But during the course of this voyage, an incident occurred elsewhere, neither foreseen nor imagined by any one, which gave a new character and promise to the whole war,—illustrating forcibly the observations of Periklês and Archidamus before its commencement, on the impossibility of calculating what turn events might take.[503]

So high did Demosthenês stand in the favor of his countrymen, after his brilliant successes in the Ambrakian gulf, that they granted him permission, at his own request, to go aboard and to employ the fleet in any descent which he might think expedient on the coast of Peloponnesus. The attachment of this active officer to the Messenians at Naupaktus, inspired him with the idea of planting a detachment of them on some well-chosen maritime post in the ancient Messenian territory, from whence they would be able permanently to harass the Lacedæmonians and provoke revolt among the Helots,—the more so, from their analogy of race and dialect. The Messenians, active in privateering, and doubtless well acquainted with the points of this coast, all of which had formerly belonged to their ancestors, had probably indicated to him Pylus, on the southwestern shore. That ancient and Homeric name was applied specially and properly to denote the promontory which forms the northern termination of the modern bay of Navarino, opposite to the island of Sphagia, or Sphakteria; though in vague language the whole neighboring district seems also to have been called Pylus. Accordingly, in circumnavigating Laconia, Demosthenês requested that the fleet might be detained at this spot long enough to enable him to fortify it, engaging himself to stay afterwards and maintain it with a garrison. It was an uninhabited promontory, about forty-five miles from Sparta; that is, as far distant as any portion of her territory, presenting rugged cliffs, and easy of defence both by sea and land: but its great additional recommendation, with reference to the maritime power of Athens, consisted in its overhanging the spacious and secure basin now called the bay of Navarino. That basin was fronted and protected by the islet called Sphakteria, or Sphagia, untrod[p. 315]den, untenanted, and full of wood, which stretched along the coast for about a mile and three quarters, leaving only two narrow entrances: one at its northern end, opposite to the position fixed on by Demosthenês, so confined as to admit only two triremes abreast,—the other at the southern end, about four times as broad; while the inner water approached by these two channels was both roomy and protected. It was on the coast of Peloponnesus, a little within the northern or narrowest of the two channels, that Demosthenês proposed to plant his little fort,—the ground being itself eminently favorable, and a spring of fresh water[504] in the centre of the promontory.[505]

[p. 316]

But Eurymedon and Sophoklês decidedly rejected all proposition of delay; and with much reason, since they had been informed (though seemingly without truth) that the Peloponnesian fleet had actually reached Korkyra: they might well have remembered the mischief which had ensued three years before[p. 317] from the delay of the reinforcement sent to Phormio in some desultory operations on the coast of Krete. The fleet accordingly passed by Pylus without stopping: but a terrible storm drove them back and forced them to seek shelter in the very harbor which Demosthenês had fixed upon,—the only harbor anywhere near. That officer took advantage of this accident to renew his proposition, which however appeared to the commanders chimerical: there were plenty of desert capes round Peloponnesus, they said, if he chose to waste the resources of the city in occupying them,[506]—nor were they at all moved by his reasons in reply. Finding himself thus unsuccessful, Demosthenês presumed upon the undefined permission granted to him by the Athenian people, to address himself first to the soldiers, last of all to the taxiarchs, or inferior officers, and to persuade them to second his project, even against the will of the commanders. Much inconvenience might well have arisen from such clashing of authority: but it happened that both the soldiers and the taxiarchs took the same view of the case as their commanders, and refused compliance: nor can we be surprised at such reluctance, when we reflect upon the seeming improbability of being able to maintain such a post against the great real, and still greater supposed, superiority of Lacedæmonian land-force. It happened, however, that the fleet was detained there for some days by stormy weather; so that the soldiers, having nothing to do, were seized with the spontaneous impulse of occupying themselves with the fortification, and crowded around to execute it with all the emulation of eager volunteers. Having contemplated nothing of the kind on starting from Athens, they had neither tools for cutting stone, nor hods for carrying mortar:[507] accordingly, they were compelled to build their wall by collecting such pieces of rock or stones as they found, and putting them together as each happened to fit in: whenever mortar was needed, they brought it up on their backs bent inwards, with hands joined behind them to prevent it from slipping away. Such deficiencies were made up, however, partly by the unbounded[p. 318] ardor of the soldiers, partly by the natural difficulties of the ground, which hardly required fortification except at particular points; the work was completed in a rough way in six days, and Demosthenês was left in garrison with five ships, while Eurymedon with the main fleet sailed away to Korkyra. The crews of the five ships, two of which, however, were sent away to warn Eurymedon afterwards, would amount to about one thousand in all: but there presently arrived two armed Messenian privateers, from which Demosthenês obtained a reinforcement of forty Messenian hoplites, together with a supply of wicker shields, though more fit for show than for use, wherewith to arm his rowers. Altogether, it appears that he must have had about two hundred hoplites, besides the half-armed seamen.[508]

Intelligence of this attempt to plant, even upon the Lacedæmonian territory, the annoyance and insult of a hostile post, was soon transmitted to Sparta,—yet no immediate measures were taken to march to the spot; as well from the natural slowness of the Spartan character, strengthened by a festival which happened to be then going on, as from the confidence entertained that, whenever attacked, the expulsion of the enemy was certain. A stronger impression, however, was made by the news upon the Lacedæmonian army invading Attica, who were at the same time suffering from want of provisions, the corn not being yet ripe, and from an unusually cold spring: accordingly, Agis marched them back to Sparta, and the fortification of Pylus thus produced the effect of abridging the invasion to the unusually short period of fifteen days. It operated in like manner to the protection of Korkyra: for the Peloponnesian fleet, recently arrived thither, or still on its way, received orders immediately to return for the attack of Pylus. Having avoided the Athenian fleet by transporting the ships across the isthmus at Leukas, it reached Pylus about the same time as the Lacedæmonian land-force from Sparta, composed of the Spartans themselves and the neighboring Periœki: for the more distant Periœki, as well as the Pelopon[p. 319]nesian allies, being just returned from Attica, were summoned to come as soon as they could, but did not accompany this first march.[509]

At the last moment, before the Peloponnesian fleet came in and occupied the harbor, Demosthenês detached two out of his five triremes to warn Eurymedon and the main fleet, and to entreat immediate succor: the remaining ships he hauled ashore under the fortification, protecting them by palisades planted in front, and preparing to defend himself in the best manner he could. Having posted the larger portion of his force,—some of them mere seamen without arms, and many only half-armed,—round the assailable points of the fortification, to resist attacks from the land-force, he himself, with sixty chosen hoplites and a few bowmen, marched out of the fortification down to the sea-shore. It was on that side that the wall was weakest, for the Athenians, confident in their naval superiority, had given themselves little trouble to provide against an assailant fleet. Accordingly, Demosthenês foresaw that the great stress of the attack would lie on the sea-side, and his only chance of safety consisted in preventing the enemy from landing; a purpose, seconded by the rocky and perilous shore, which left no possibility of approach for ships, except on a narrow space immediately under the fortification. It was here that he took post, on the water’s edge, addressing a few words of encouragement to his men, and warning them that it was useless now to display acuteness in summing up perils which were but too obvious,—and that the only chance of escape lay in boldly encountering the enemy before they could set foot ashore; the difficulty of effecting a landing from ships in the face of resistance being better known to Athenian mariners than to any one else.[510]

With a fleet of forty-three triremes, under Thrasymelidas, and a powerful land-force, simultaneously attacking, the Lacedæmonians had good hopes of storming at once a rock so hastily converted into a military post. But as they foresaw that the first attack might possibly fail, and that the fleet of Eurymedon would probably return, they resolved to occupy forthwith the island of Sphakteria, the natural place where the Athenian fleet would take station for the purpose of assisting the garrison ashore.[p. 320] The neighboring coast on the mainland of Peloponnesus was both harborless and hostile, so that there was no other spot near, where they could take station. And the Lacedæmonian commanders reckoned upon being able to stop up, as it were mechanically, both the two entrances into the harbor, by triremes lashed together, from the island to the mainland, with their prows pointing outwards; so that they would be able at any rate, occupying the island as well as the two channels, to keep off the Athenian fleet, and to hold Demosthenês closely blocked up[511] on the rock of Pylus, where his provisions would quickly fail him. With these views, they drafted off by lot some hoplites from each of the Spartan lochi, accompanied as usual by Helots, and sent them across to Sphakteria; while their land-force and their fleet approached at once to attack the fortification.

Of the assault on the land-side, we hear little: the Lacedæmonians were proverbially unskilful in the attack of anything like a fortified place, and they appear now to have made little impression. But the chief stress and vigor of the attack came on the sea-side, as Demosthenês had foreseen. The landing-place, even where practicable, was still rocky and difficult,—and so narrow in dimensions, that the Lacedæmonian ships could only approach by small squadrons at a time; while the Athenians maintained their ground firmly to prevent a single man from setting foot on land. The assailing triremes rowed up with loud shouts and exhortations to each other, striving to get so placed as that the hoplites in the bow could effect a landing: but such were the difficulties arising partly from the rocks and partly from the defence, that squadron after squadron tried this in vain. Nor did even the gallant example of Brasidas procure for them any better success. That officer, commanding a trireme, and observing that some of the pilots near him were cautious in driving their ships close in shore for fear of breaking them against the rocks, indignantly called to them not to spare the planks of their vessels, when the enemy had insulted them by erecting a fort in the country: Lacedæmonians, he exclaimed, ought to carry the landing by force, even though their ships should be dashed[p. 321] to pieces,—nor ought the Peloponnesian allies to be backward in sacrificing their ships for Sparta, in return for the many services which she had rendered to them.[512] Foremost in performance as well as in exhortation, Brasidas constrained his own pilot to drive his ship close in, and advanced in person even on to the landing-steps for the purpose of leaping first ashore. But here he stood exposed to all the weapons of the Athenian defenders, who beat him back and pierced him with so many wounds, that he fainted away, and fell back into the bows, or foremost part of the trireme, beyond the rowers; while his shield, slipping away from the arm, dropped down and rolled overboard into the sea. His ship was obliged to retire, like the rest, without having effected any landing: and all these successive attacks from the sea, repeated for one whole day and a part of the next were repulsed by Demosthenês and his little band with victorious bravery. To both sides it seemed a strange reversal of ordinary relations,[513] that the Athenians, essentially maritime, should be fighting on land—and that, too, Lacedæmonian land—against the Lacedæmonians, the select land-warriors of Greece, now on shipboard, and striving in vain to compass a landing on their own shore. The Athenians, in honor of their success, erected a trophy, the chief ornament of which was the shield of Brasidas, which had been cast ashore by the water.

On the third day, the Lacedæmonians did not repeat their attack, but sent some of their vessels round to Asinê, in the Messenian gulf, for timber to construct battering machines; which they intended to employ against the wall of Demosthenês, on the side towards the harbor, where it was higher, and could not be assailed without machines, but where, at the same time, there was great facility in landing,—for their previous attack had been made on the side fronting the sea, where the wall was lower, but[p. 322] the difficulties of landing insuperable.[514] But before these ships came back, the face of affairs was seriously changed by the unwelcome return of the Athenian fleet from Zakynthus, under Eurymedon, reinforced by four Chian ships, and some of the guard-ships at Naupaktus, so as now to muster fifty sail. The Athenian admiral, finding the enemy’s fleet in possession of the harbor, and seeing both the island of Sphakteria occupied, and the opposite shore covered with Lacedæmonian hoplites,[515]—for the allies from all parts of Peloponnesus had now arrived,—looked around in vain for a place to land, and could find no other night-station except the uninhabited island of Prôtê, not very far distant. From hence he sailed forth in the morning to Pylus, prepared for a naval engagement,—hoping that perhaps the Lacedæmonians might come out to fight him in the open sea, but resolved, if this did not happen, to force his way in and attack the fleet in the harbor; the breadth of sea between Sphakteria and the mainland being sufficient to admit of nautical manœuvre.[516] The Lacedæmonian admirals, seemingly confounded by the speed of the Athenian fleet in coming back, never thought of sailing out of the harbor to fight, nor did they even realize their scheme of blocking up the two entrances of the harbor with triremes[p. 323] closely lashed together. Both entrances were left open, though they determined to defend themselves within: but even here, so defective were their precautions, that several of their triremes were yet moored, and the rowers not fully aboard, when the Athenian admirals sailed in by both entrances at once to attack them. Most of the Lacedæmonian triremes, afloat, and in fighting trim, resisted the attack for a certain time, but were at length vanquished, and driven back to the shore, many of them with serious injury.[517] Five of them were captured and towed off, one with all her crew aboard, and the Athenians, vigorously pursuing their success, drove against such as took refuge on the shore, as well as those which were not manned at the moment when the attack began, and had not been able to get afloat or into action. Some of the vanquished triremes being deserted by their crews, who jumped out upon the land, the Athenians were proceeding to tow them off, when the Lacedæmonian hoplites on the shore opposed a new and strenuous resistance. Excited to the utmost pitch by witnessing the disgraceful defeat of their fleet, and aware of the cruel consequences which turned upon it,—they marched all armed into the water, seized the ships to prevent them from being dragged off, and engaged in a desperate conflict to baffle the assailants: we have already seen a similar act of bravery, two years before, on the part of the Messenian hoplites accompanying the fleet of Phormio near Naupaktus.[518] Extraordinary daring and valor was here displayed on both sides, in the attack as well as in the defence, and such was the clamor and confusion, that neither the land skill of the Lacedæmonians, nor the sea skill of the Athenians, were of much avail: the contest was one of personal valor and considerable suffering on both sides. At length the Lacedæmonians carried their point, and saved all the ships ashore; none being carried away except those at first captured. Both parties thus separated: the Athenians retired to the fortress at Pylus, where they were doubtless hailed[p. 324] with overflowing joy by their comrades, and where they erected a trophy for their victory, giving up the enemy’s dead for burial, and picking up the floating wrecks and pieces.[519]

But the great prize of the victory was neither in the five ships captured, nor in the relief afforded to the besieged at Pylus. It lay in the hoplites occupying the island of Sphakteria, who were now cut off from the mainland, as well as from all supplies. The Athenians, sailing round it in triumph, already looked upon them as their prisoners; while the Lacedæmonians on the opposite mainland, deeply distressed, but not knowing what to do, sent to Sparta for advice. So grave was the emergency, that the ephors came in person to the spot forthwith. Since they could still muster sixty triremes, a greater number than the Athenians,—besides a large force on land, and the whole command of the resources of the country,—while the Athenians had no footing on shore except the contracted promontory of Pylus, we might have imagined that a strenuous effort to carry off the imprisoned detachment across the narrow strait to the mainland would have had a fair chance of success. And probably, if either Demosthenês or Brasidas had been in command, such an effort would have been made. But Lacedæmonian courage was rather steadfast and unyielding than adventurous: and, moreover, the Athenian superiority at sea exercised a sort of fascination over men’s minds, analogous to that of the Spartans themselves on land; so that the ephors, on reaching Pylus, took a desponding view of their position, and sent a herald to the Athenian generals to propose an armistice, in order to allow time for envoys to go to Athens and treat for peace.

To this Eurymedon and Demosthenês assented, and an armistice was concluded on the following terms: The Lacedæmonians agreed to surrender not only all their triremes now in the harbor, but also all the rest in their ports, altogether to the number of sixty; also, to abstain from all attack upon the fortress at Pylus, either by land or sea, for such time as should be necessary for the mission of envoys to Athens as well as for their return, both to be effected in an Athenian trireme provided for the purpose. The Athenians on their side engaged to desist from all hostilities[p. 325] during the like interval; but it was agreed that they should keep strict and unremitting watch over the island, yet without landing upon it. For the subsistence of the detachment in the island, the Lacedæmonians were permitted to send over every day two chœnikes of barley-meal in cakes, ready baked, two kotylæ of wine,[520] and some meat, for each hoplite,—together with half that quantity for each of the attendant Helots; but this was all to be done under the supervision of the Athenians, with peremptory obligation to send no secret additional supplies. It was, moreover, expressly stipulated that if any one provision of the armistice, small or great, were violated, the whole should be considered as null and void. Lastly, the Athenians engaged, on the return of the envoys from Athens, to restore the triremes in the same condition as they received them.

Such terms sufficiently attest the humiliation and anxiety of the Lacedæmonians; while the surrender of their entire naval force to the number of sixty triremes, which was forthwith carried into effect, demonstrates at the same time that they sincerely believed in the possibility of obtaining peace. Well aware that they were themselves the original beginners of the war, at a time when the Athenians desired peace, and that the latter had besides made fruitless overtures while under the pressure of the epidemic, they presumed that the same dispositions still prevailed at Athens, and that their present pacific wishes would be so gladly welcomed as to procure without difficulty the relinquishment of the prisoners in Sphakteria.[521]

The Lacedæmonian envoys, conveyed to Athens in an Athenian trireme, appeared before the public assembly to set forth their mission, according to custom, prefacing their address with[p. 326] some apologies for that brevity of speech which belonged to their country. Their proposition was in substance a very simple one: “Give up to us the men in the island, and accept, in exchange for this favor, peace, with the alliance of Sparta.” They enforced their cause, by appeals, well-turned and conciliatory, partly indeed to the generosity, but still more to the prudential calculation of Athens; explicitly admitting the high and glorious vantage-ground on which she was now placed, as well as their own humbled dignity and inferior position.[522] They, the Lacedæmonians, the first and greatest power in Greece, were now smitten by adverse fortune of war,—and that too without misconduct of their own, so that they were for the first time obliged to solicit an enemy for peace; which Athens had the precious opportunity of granting, not merely with honor to herself, but also in such manner as to create in their minds an ineffaceable friendship. And it became Athens to make use of her present good fortune while she had it,—not to rely upon its permanence, nor to abuse it by extravagant demands; her own imperial prudence, as well as the present circumstances of the Spartans, might teach her how unexpectedly the most disastrous casualties occurred. By granting what was now asked, she might make a peace which would be far more durable than if it were founded on the extorted compliances of a weakened enemy, because it would rest on Spartan honor and gratitude; the greater the previous enmity, the stronger would be such reactionary sentiment.[523] But if Athens should now refuse, and if, in the farther prosecution of the war, the men in Sphakteria should perish,—a new and inexpiable ground of quarrel,[524] peculiar to Sparta herself, would[p. 327] be added to those already subsisting, which rather concerned Sparta as the chief of the Peloponnesian confederacy. Nor was it only the good-will and gratitude of the Spartans which Athens would earn by accepting the proposition tendered to her; she would farther acquire the grace and glory of conferring peace on Greece, which all the Greeks would recognize as her act. And when once the two preëminent powers, Athens and Sparta, were established in cordial amity, the remaining Grecian states would be too weak to resist what they two might prescribe.[525]

Such was the language held by the Lacedæmonians in the assembly at Athens. It was discreetly calculated for their purpose, though when we turn back to the commencement of the war, and read the lofty declarations of the Spartan ephors and assembly respecting the wrongs of their allies and the necessity of extorting full indemnity for them from Athens, the contrast is indeed striking. On this occasion, the Lacedæmonians acted entirely for themselves and from consideration of their own necessities; severing themselves from their allies, and soliciting a special peace for themselves, with as little scruple as the Spartan general, Menedæus, during the preceding year, when he abandoned his Ambrakiot confederates after the battle of Olpæ, to conclude a separate capitulation with Demosthenês.

The course proper to be adopted by Athens in reference to the[p. 328] proposition, however, was by no means obvious. In all probability, the trireme which brought the Lacedæmonian envoys also brought the first news of that unforeseen and instantaneous turn of events which had rendered the Spartans in Sphakteria certain prisoners,—so it was then conceived,—and placed the whole Lacedæmonian fleet in their power; thus giving a totally new character of the war. The sudden arrival of such prodigious intelligence,—the astounding presence of Lacedæmonian envoys, bearing the olive-branch, and in an attitude of humiliation,—must have produced in the susceptible public of Athens emotions of the utmost intensity; an elation and confidence such as had probably never been felt since the reconquest of Samos. It was difficult at first to measure the full bearings of the new situation, and even Periklês himself might have hesitated what to recommend: but the immediate and dominant impression with the general public was, that Athens might now ask her own terms, as consideration for the prisoners in the island.[526] Of this reigning tendency Kleon[527] made himself the emphatic organ, as he had done three years before in the sentence passed on the Mitylenæans; a man who—like leading journals, in modern times—often appeared to guide the public because he gave vehement utterance to that which they were already feeling, and carried it out in its collateral bearings and consequences. On the present occasion, he doubtless spoke with the most genuine conviction; for he was full of the sentiment of Athenian force and Athenian imperial dignity, as well as disposed to a sanguine view of future chances. Moreover, in a discussion like that now opened, where there was much room for doubt, he came forward with a proposition at once plain and decisive. Reminding the Athenians of[p. 329] the dishonorable truce of thirty years to which they had been compelled by the misfortunes of the time to accede, fourteen years before the Peloponnesian war,—Kleon insisted that now was the time for Athens to recover what she had then lost,—Nisæa, Pegæ, Trœzen, and Achaia. He proposed that Sparta should be required to restore these to Athens, in exchange for the soldiers now blocked up in Sphakteria; after which a truce might be concluded for as long a time as might be deemed expedient.

This decree, adopted by the assembly, was communicated as the answer of Athens to the Lacedæmonian envoys, who had probably retired after their first address, and were now sent for again into the assembly, to hear it. On being informed of the resolution, they made no comment on its substance, but invited the Athenians to name commissioners, who might discuss with them freely and deliberately suitable terms for a pacification. Here, however, Kleon burst upon them with an indignant rebuke. He had thought from the first, he said, that they came with dishonest purposes, but now the thing was clear,—nothing else could be meant by this desire to treat with some few men apart from the general public. If they had really any fair proposition to make, he called upon them to proclaim it openly to all. But this the envoys could not bring themselves to do. They had probably come with authority to make certain concessions, but to announce these concessions forthwith would have rendered negotiation impossible, besides dishonoring them in the face of their allies. Such dishonor would be incurred, too, without any advantage, if the Athenians should after all reject the terms, which the temper of the assembly before them rendered but too probable. Moreover, they were totally unpractised in the talents for dealing with a public assembly, such discussions being so rare as to be practically unknown in the Lacedæmonian system. To reply to the denunciation of a vehement speaker like Kleon, required readiness of elocution, dexterity, and self-command, which they had had no opportunity of acquiring. They remained silent,—abashed by the speaker and intimidated by the temper of the assembly: their mission was thus terminated, and they were reconveyed in the trireme to Pylus.[528]

[p. 330]

It is probable that if these envoys had been able to make an effective reply to Kleon, and to defend their proposition against his charge of fraudulent purpose, they would have been sustained by Nikias and a certain number of leading Athenians, so that the assembly might have been brought at least to try the issue of a private discussion between diplomatic agents on both sides. But the case was one in which it was absolutely necessary that the envoys should stand forward with some defence for themselves; which Nikias might effectively second, but could not originate: and as they were incompetent to this task, the whole affair broke down. We shall hereafter find other examples, in which the incapacity of Lacedæmonian envoys, to meet the open debate of Athenian political life, is productive of mischievous results. In this case, the proposition of the envoys to enter into treaty with select commissioners, was not only quite reasonable, but afforded the only possibility—though doubtless not a certainty—of some ultimate pacification: and the manœuvre whereby Kleon discredited it was a grave abuse of publicity, not unknown in modern, though more frequent in ancient, political life. Kleon probably thought that if commissioners were named, Nikias, Lachês, and other politicians of the same rank and color, would be the persons selected; persons whose anxiety for peace and alliance with Sparta would make them over-indulgent and careless in securing the interests of Athens: and it will be seen, when we come to describe the conduct of Nikias four years afterwards, that this suspicion was not ill-grounded.

Unfortunately Thucydidês, in describing the proceedings of this assembly, so important in its consequences because it intercepted a promising opening for peace, is brief as usual,—telling us only what was said by Kleon and what was decided by the assembly. But though nothing is positively stated respecting Nikias and his partisans, we learn from other sources, and we may infer from what afterwards occurred, that they vehemently opposed Kleon, and that they looked coldly on the subsequent enterprise against Sphakteria as upon his peculiar measure.[529]

It has been common to treat the dismissal of the Lacedæmonian envoys on this occasion as a peculiar specimen of democrat[p. 331]ical folly. But over-estimation of the prospective chances arising out of success, to a degree more extravagant than that of which Athens was now guilty, is by no means peculiar to democracy. Other governments, opposed to democracy not less in temper than in form,—an able despot like the emperor Napoleon, and a powerful aristocracy like that of England,[530]—have found success to the full as misleading. That Athens should desire to profit by this unexpected piece of good fortune, was perfectly reasonable: that she should make use of it to regain advantages which former misfortunes had compelled herself to surrender, was a feeling not unnatural. And whether the demand was excessive, or by how much, is a question always among the most embarrassing for any government—kingly, oligarchical, or democratical—to determine.

We may, however, remark that Kleon gave an impolitic turn to Athenian feeling, by directing it towards the entire and literal reacquisition of what had been lost twenty years before. Unless we are to consider his quadruple demand as a flourish, to be[p. 332] modified by subsequent negotiation, it seems to present some plausibility, but little of long-sighted wisdom: for while, on the one hand, it called upon Sparta to give up much which was not in her possession and must have been extorted by force from allies,—on the other hand, the situation of Athens was not the same as it had been when she concluded the thirty years’ truce; nor does it seem that the restoration of Achaia and Trœzen would have been of any material value to her. Nisæa and Pegæ—which would have been tantamount to the entire Megarid, inasmuch as Megara itself could hardly have been held with both its ports in the possession of an enemy—would, indeed, have been highly valuable, since she could then have protected her territory against invasion from Peloponnesus, besides possessing a port in the Corinthian gulf. And it would seem that if able commissioners had now been named for private discussion with the Lacedæmonian envoys, under the present urgent desire of Sparta, coupled with her disposition to abandon her allies,—this important point might possibly have been pressed and carried, in exchange for Sphakteria. Nay, even if such acquisition had been found impracticable, still, the Athenians would have been able to effect some arrangement which would have widened the breach, and destroyed the confidence, between Sparta and her allies; a point of great moment for them to accomplish. There was therefore every reason for trying what could be done by negotiation, under the present temper of Sparta; and the step, by which Kleon abruptly broke off such hopes, was decidedly mischievous.

On the return of the envoys without success to Pylus,[531] twenty days after their departure from that place, the armistice immediately terminated; and the Lacedæmonians redemanded the triremes which they had surrendered. But Eurymedon refused compliance with this demand, alleging that the Lacedæmonians had, during the truce, made a fraudulent attempt to surprise the rock of Pylus, and had violated the stipulations in other ways besides; while it stood expressly stipulated in the truce, that the violation by either side even of the least among its conditions, should cancel all obligation on both sides. Thucydidês, without[p. 333] distinctly giving his opinion, seems rather to imply, that there was no just ground for the refusal: though if any accidental want of vigilance had presented to the Lacedæmonians an opportunity for surprising Pylus, they would be likely enough to avail themselves of it, seeing that they would thereby drive off the Athenian fleet from its only landing-place, and render the continued blockade of Sphakteria impracticable. However the truth may be, Eurymedon persisted in his refusal, in spite of loud protests of the Lacedæmonians against his perfidy. Hostilities were energetically resumed: the Lacedæmonian army on land began again to attack the fortifications of Pylus, while the Athenian fleet became doubly watchful in the blockade of Sphakteria, in which they were reinforced by twenty fresh ships from Athens, making a fleet of seventy triremes in all. Two ships were perpetually rowing round the island in opposite directions, throughout the whole day; while at night, the whole fleet were kept on watch, except on the sea-side of the island in stormy weather.[532]

The blockade, however, was soon found to be more full of privation in reference to the besiegers themselves, and more difficult of enforcement in respect to the island and its occupants, than had been originally contemplated. The Athenians were much distressed for want of water; they had only one really good spring in the fortification of Pylus itself, quite insufficient for the supply of a large fleet: many of them were obliged to scrape the shingle and drink such brackish water as they could find; while ships as well as men were perpetually afloat, since they could take rest and refreshment only by relays successively landing on the rock of Pylus, or even on the edge of Sphakteria itself, with all the chance of being interrupted by the enemy,—there being no other landing-place,[533] and the ancient trireme affording no accommodation either for eating or sleeping. At first, all this was patiently borne, in the hopes that Sphakteria would speedily be starved out, and the Spartans forced to renew the request for[p. 334] capitulation: but no such request came, and the Athenians in the fleet gradually became sick in body as well as impatient and angry in mind. In spite of all their vigilance, clandestine supplies of provisions continually reached the island, under the temptation of large rewards offered by the Spartan government. Able swimmers contrived to cross the strait, dragging after them by ropes skins full of linseed and poppy-seed mixed with honey; while merchant vessels, chiefly manned by Helots, started from various parts of the Laconian coast, selecting by preference the stormy nights, and encountering every risk in order to run their vessel with its cargo ashore on the sea-side of the island, at a time when the Athenian guard-ships could not be on the lookout.[534] They cared little about damage to their vessel in landing, provided they could get the cargo on shore; for ample compensation was insured to them, together with emancipation to every Helot who succeeded in reaching the island with a supply. Though the Athenians redoubled their vigilance, and intercepted many of these daring smugglers, still, there were others who eluded them: moreover, the rations supplied to the island by stipulation during the absence of the envoys in their journey to Athens had been so ample, that Epitadas the commander had been able to economize, and thus to make the stock hold out longer. Week after week passed without any symptoms of surrender, and the Athenians not only felt the present sufferings of their own position, but also became apprehensive for their own supplies, all brought by sea round Peloponnesus to this distant and naked shore. They began even to mistrust the possibility of thus indefinitely continuing the blockade against the contingencies of such violent weather, as would probably ensue at the close of summer. In this state of weariness and uncertainty, the active Demosthenês began to organize a descent upon the island, with the view of carrying it by force. He not only sent for forces from the neighboring allies, Zakynthus and Naupaktus, but also transmitted an urgent request to Athens that reinforcements might be furnished to him for the purpose, making known explicitly both the uncomfortable condition of the armament, and the unpromising chances of simple blockade.[535]

[p. 335]

The arrival of these envoys caused infinite mortification to the Athenians at home. Having expected to hear, long before, that Sphakteria had surrendered, they were now taught to consider even the ultimate conquest as a matter of doubt: they were surprised that the Lacedæmonians sent no fresh envoys to solicit peace, and began to suspect that such silence was founded upon well-grounded hopes of being able to hold out. But the person most of all discomposed was Kleon, who observed that the people now regretted their insulting repudiation of the Lacedæmonian message, and were displeased with him as the author of it; while, on the contrary, his numerous political enemies were rejoiced at the turn which events had taken, as it opened a means of effecting his ruin. At first, Kleon contended that the envoys had misrepresented the state of facts; to which the latter replied by entreating, that if their accuracy were mistrusted, commissioners of inspection might be sent to verify it; and Kleon himself, along with Theogonês, was forthwith named for this function.

But it did not suit Kleon’s purpose to go as commissioner to Pylus, since his mistrust of the statement was a mere general suspicion, not resting on any positive evidence: moreover, he saw that the dispositions of the assembly tended to comply with the request of Demosthenês, and to despatch a reinforcing armament. He accordingly altered his tone at once: “If ye really believe the story (he said), do not waste time in sending commissioners, but sail at once to capture the men. It would be easy with a proper force, if our generals were men (here he pointed reproachfully to his enemy Nikias, then stratêgus[536]), to sail and take the soldiers in the island. That is what I at least would do, if I were general.” His words instantly provoked a hostile murmur from a portion of the assembly: “Why do you not sail then at once, if you think the matter so easy?” while Nikias, taking[p. 336] up this murmur, and delighted to have caught his political enemy in a trap, stood forward in person, and pressed him to set about the enterprise without delay; intimating the willingness of himself and his colleagues to grant him any portion of the military force of the city which he chose to ask for. Kleon at first closed with this proposition, believing it to be a mere stratagem of debate and not seriously intended: but so soon as he saw that what was said was really meant, he tried to back out, and observed to Nikias: “It is your place to sail: you are general, not I.”[537] Nikias only replied by repeating his exhortation, renouncing formally the command against Sphakteria, and calling upon the Athenians to recollect what Kleon had said, as well as to hold him to his engagement. The more Kleon tried to evade the duty, the louder and more unanimous did the cry of the assembly become that Nikias should surrender it to him, and that he should undertake it. At last, seeing that there was no possibility of receding, Kleon reluctantly accepted the charge, and came forward to announce his intention in a resolute address: “I am not at all afraid of the Lacedæmonians (he said): I shall sail without even taking with me any of the hoplites from the regular Athenian muster-roll, but only the Lemnian and Imbrian hoplites who are now here (that is, Athenian kleruchs or out-citizens who had properties in Lemnos and Imbros, and habitually resided there), together with some peltasts, brought from Ænos, in Thrace, and four hundred bowmen. With this force, added to what is already at Pylos, I engage in the space of twenty days either to bring the Lacedæmonians in Sphakteria hither as prisoners, or to kill them in the island.” The Athenians—observes Thucydidês—laughed somewhat at Kleon’s looseness of tongue; but[p. 337] prudent men had pleasure in reflecting that one or other of the two advantages was now certain: either they would get rid of Kleon, which they anticipated as the issue at once most probable and most desirable,—or, if mistaken on this point, the Lacedæmonians in the island would be killed or taken.[538] The vote was accordingly passed for the immediate departure of Kleon, who caused Demosthenês to be named as his colleague in command, and sent intelligence to Pylus at once that he was about to start with the reinforcement solicited.

This curious scene, interesting as laying open the interior feeling of the Athenian assembly, suggests, when properly considered, reflections very different from those which have been usually connected with it. It seems to be conceived by most historians as a mere piece of levity or folly in the Athenian people, who are supposed to have enjoyed the excellent joke of putting an incompetent man against his own will at the head of this enterprise, in order that they might amuse themselves with his blunders: Kleon is thus contemptible, and the Athenian people ridiculous. Certainly, if that people had been disposed to conduct their public business upon such childish fancies as are here implied, they would have made a very different figure from that which history actually presents to us. The truth is, that in regard to Kleon’s alleged looseness of tongue, which excited more or less of laughter among the persons present, there was no one really ridiculous except the laughers themselves: for the announcement which he made was so far from being extravagant, that it was realized to the letter, and realized, too, let us add, without any peculiar aid from unforeseen favorable accident. To show how much this is the case, we have only to contrast the jesters before the fact with the jesters after it. While the former deride Kleon as a promiser of extravagant and impossible results, we find Aristophanês, in his comedy of the Knights, about six[p. 338] months afterwards,[539] laughing at him as having achieved nothing at all,—as having cunningly put himself into the shoes of Demosthenês, and stolen away from that general the glory of taking Sphakteria, after all the difficulties of the enterprise had been already got over, and “the cake ready baked,”—to use the phrase of the comic poet. Both of the jests are exaggerations in opposite directions; but the last in order of time, if it be good at all against Kleon, is a galling sarcasm against those who derided Kleon as an extravagant boaster.

If we intend fairly to compare the behavior of Kleon with that of his political adversaries, we must distinguish between the two occasions: first, that in which he had frustrated the pacific mission of the Lacedæmonian envoys; next, the subsequent delay and dilemma which has been recently described. On the first occasion, his advice appears to have been mistaken in policy, as well as offensive in manner: his opponents, proposing a discussion by special commissioners as a fair chance for honorable terms of peace, took a juster view of the public interests. But the case was entirely altered when the mission for peace (wisely or unwisely) had been broken up, and when the fate of Sphakteria had been committed to the chances of war. There were then imperative reasons for prosecuting the war vigorously, and for employing all the force requisite to insure the capture of that island. And looking to this end, we shall find that there was nothing in the conduct of Kleon either to blame or to deride; while his political adversaries, Nikias among them, are deplorably[p. 339] timid, ignorant, and reckless of the public interest; seeking only to turn the existing disappointment and dilemma into a party opportunity for ruining him.

To grant the reinforcement asked for by Demosthenês was obviously the proper measure, and Kleon saw that the people would go along with him in proposing it: but he had at the same time good grounds for reproaching Nikias, and the other stratêgi, whose duty it was to originate that proposition, with their backwardness in remaining silent, and in leaving the matter to go by default, as if it were Kleon’s affair and not theirs. His taunt: “This is what I would have done, if I were general,” was a mere phrase of the heat of debate, such as must have been very often used, without any idea on the part of the hearers of construing it as a pledge which the speaker was bound to realize: nor was it any disgrace to Kleon to decline a charge which he had never sought, and to confess his incompetence to command. The reason why he was forced into the post, in spite of his own unaffected reluctance, was not, as some historians would have us believe, because the Athenian people loved a joke, but from two feelings, both perfectly serious, which divided the assembly,—feelings opposite in their nature, but coinciding on this occasion to the same result. His enemies loudly urged him forward, anticipating that the enterprise under him would miscarry, and that he would thus be ruined: his friends, perceiving this manœuvre, but not sharing in such anticipations, and ascribing his reluctance to modesty, pronounced themselves so much the more vehemently on behalf of their leader, and repaid the scornful cheer by cheers of sincere encouragement. “Why do you not try your hand at this enterprise, Kleon, if you think it so easy? You will soon find that it is too much for you;” was the cry of his enemies: to which his friends would reply: “Yes, to be sure, try, Kleon: by all means, try: do not be backward; we warrant that you will come honorably out of it, and we will stand by you.” Such cheer and counter-cheer is precisely in the temper of an animated multitude, as Thucydidês[540] states it, divided in feeling; and friends as well as enemies thus concurred to impose upon Kleon a compulsion not to be eluded. Of all the parties[p. 340] here concerned those whose conduct is the most unpardonably disgraceful are Nikias and his oligarchical friends; who force a political enemy into a supreme command against his own strenuous protest, persuaded that he will fail so as to compromise the lives of many soldiers, and the destinies of the state on an important emergency,—but satisfying themselves with the idea that they shall bring him to disgrace and ruin.

It is to be remarked, that Nikias and his fellow stratêgi were backward on this occasion, partly because they were really afraid of the duty. They anticipated a resistance to the death at Sphakteria, such as that at Thermopylæ: in which case, though victory might perhaps be won by a superior assailant force, it would not be won without much bloodshed and peril, besides an inexpiable quarrel with Sparta. If Kleon took a more correct measure of the chances, he ought to have credit for it, as one “bene ausus vana contemnere.” And it seems probable, that if he had not been thus forward in supporting the request of Demosthenês for reinforcement,—or rather, if he had not been so placed that he was compelled to be forward,—Nikias and his friends would have laid aside the enterprise, and reopened negotiations for peace, under circumstances neither honorable nor advantageous to Athens. Kleon was in this manner one main author of the most important success which Athens obtained throughout the whole war.

On joining Demosthenês with his reinforcement, Kleon found every preparation for attack made by that general, and the soldiers at Pylus eager to commence such aggressive measures as would relieve them from the tedium of a blockade. Sphakteria had become recently more open to assault in consequence of an accidental conflagration of the wood, arising from a fire kindled by the Athenian seamen, while landing at the skirt of the island, and cooking their food: under the influence of a strong wind, most of the wood in the island had thus caught fire and been destroyed. To Demosthenês this was an accident especially welcome; for the painful experience of his defeat in the forest-covered hills of Ætolia had taught him how difficult it was for assailants to cope with an enemy whom they could not see, and who knew all the good points of defence in the country.[541] The[p. 341] island being thus stripped of its wood, he was enabled to survey the garrison, to count their number, and to lay his plan of attack on certain data. He now, too, for the first time, discovered that he had underrated their real number, having before suspected that the Lacedæmonians had sent in rations for a greater total than was actually there. The island was occupied altogether by four hundred and twenty Lacedæmonian hoplites, out of whom more than one hundred and twenty were native Spartans, belonging to the first families in the city. The commander, Epitadas, with the main body, occupied the centre of the island, near the only spring of water which it afforded:[542] an advanced guard of thirty hoplites was posted not far from the sea-shore, in the end of the island farthest from Pylus; while the end immediately fronting Pylus, peculiarly steep and rugged, and containing even a rude circuit of stones, of unknown origin, which served as a sort of defence, was held as a post of reserve.[543]

Such was the prey which Kleon and Demosthenês were anxious to grasp. On the very day of the arrival of the former, they sent a herald to the Lacedæmonian generals on the mainland, inviting the surrender of the hoplites on the island, on condition of being simply detained under guard without any hardship, until a final pacification should take place. Of course the summons was refused; after which, leaving only one day for repose, the two generals took advantage of the night to put all their hoplites aboard a few triremes, making show as if they were merely commencing the ordinary nocturnal circumnavigation, so as to excite no suspicion in the occupants of the island. The entire body of Athenian hoplites, eight hundred in number, were thus disembarked in two divisions, one on each side of the island, a little before daybreak: the advanced guard of thirty Lacedæmonians, completely unprepared, were surprised even in their sleep and all slain.[544] At the point of day, the entire remaining force from the seventy-two triremes was also disembarked, leaving on board only the thalamii, or lowest tier of rowers, and[p. 342] reserving only a sufficient number to man the walls of Pylus. Altogether, there could not have been less than ten thousand troops employed in the attack of the island,—men of all arms: eight hundred hoplites, eight hundred peltasts, eight hundred bowmen; the rest armed with javelins, slings, and stones. Demosthenês kept his hoplites in one compact body, but distributed the light-armed into separate companies of about two hundred men each, with orders to occupy the rising grounds all round, and harass the flanks and rear of the Lacedæmonians.[545]

To resist this large force, the Lacedæmonian commander Epitadas had only three hundred and sixty hoplites around him; for his advanced guard of thirty men had been slain, and as many more must have been held in reserve to guard the rocky station in his rear: of the Helots who were with him, Thucydidês says nothing, during the whole course of the action. As soon as he saw the numbers and disposition of his enemies, Epitadas placed his men in battle array, and advanced to encounter the main body of hoplites whom he saw before him. But the Spartan march was habitually slow:[546] moreover, the ground was rough and uneven, obstructed with stumps, and overlaid with dust and ashes, from the recently burnt wood, so that a march at once rapid and orderly was hardly possible: and he had to traverse the whole intermediate space, since the Athenian hoplites remained immovable in their position. No sooner had his march commenced, than he found himself assailed both in rear and flanks, especially in the right or unshielded flank, by the numerous companies of light-armed.[547] Notwithstanding their extraordinary superiority of number, these men were at first awe-stricken at finding themselves in actual contest with Lacedæmonian hoplites:[548] still, they began the fight, poured in their missile weapons, and so annoyed the march that the hoplites were obliged to halt, while Epitadas ordered the most active among them to spring out of their ranks and repel the assailants. But pursuers with spear and shield had little chance of overtaking men lightly clad and armed, who always retired, in whatever[p. 343] direction the pursuit was commenced, had the advantage of difficult ground, redoubled their annoyance against the rear of the pursuers as soon as the latter retreated to resume their place in the ranks, and always took care to get round to the rear of the hoplites.

After some experience of the inefficacy of Lacedæmonian pursuit, the light-armed, becoming far bolder than at first, closed upon them nearer and more universally, with arrows, javelins, and stones, raising shouts and clamor that rent the air, rendering the word of command inaudible by the Lacedæmonian soldiers, who at the same time were almost blinded by the thick clouds of dust, kicked up from the recently spread wood-ashes.[549] Such method of fighting was one for which the Lykurgean drill made no provision, and the longer it continued the more painful did the embarrassment of the exposed hoplites become: their repeated efforts to destroy or even to reach nimble and ever-returning enemies, all proved abortive, whilst their own numbers were incessantly diminished by wounds which they could not return. Their only offensive arms consisted of the long spear and short sword usual to the Grecian hoplite, without any missile weapons whatever; nor could they even pick up and throw back the javelins of their enemies, since the points of these javelins commonly broke off and stuck in the shields, or sometimes even in the body which they had wounded. Moreover, the bows of the archers, doubtless carefully selected before starting from Athens, were powerfully drawn, so that their arrows may sometimes have pierced and inflicted wounds even through the shield or the helmet,—but at any rate, the stuffed doublet, which formed the only defence of the hoplite on his unshielded side, was a very inadequate protection against them.[550] Under this trying distress[p. 344] did the Lacedæmonians continue for a long time, poorly provided for defence, and altogether helpless for aggression,—without being able to approach at all nearer to the Athenian hoplites. At length the Lacedæmonian commander, seeing that his position grew worse and worse, gave orders to close the ranks and retreat to the last redoubt in the rear: but this movement was not accomplished without difficulty, for the light-armed assailants became doubly clamorous and forward, and many wounded men, unable to move, or at least to keep in rank, were overtaken and slain.[551]

A diminished remnant, however, reached the last post in safety, and they were here in comparative protection, since the ground was so rocky and impracticable that their enemies could not attack them either in flank or rear: though the position at any rate could not have been long tenable separately, inasmuch as the only spring of water in the island was in the centre, which they had just been compelled to abandon. The light-armed being now less available, Demosthenês and Kleon brought up their eight hundred Athenian hoplites, who had not before been engaged; but the Lacedæmonians were here at home[552] with their weapons, and enabled to display their well-known superiority against opposing hoplites, especially as they had the advantage[p. 345] of higher ground against enemies charging from beneath. Although the Athenians were double their own numbers and withal yet unexhausted, they were repulsed in many successive attacks. The besieged maintained their ground in spite of all their previous fatigue and suffering, harder to be borne from the scanty diet on which they had recently subsisted. The struggle lasted so long that heat and thirst began to tell even upon the assailants, when the commander of the Messenians came to Kleon and Demosthenês, and intimated that they were now laboring in vain; promising at the same time that if they would confide to him a detachment of light troops and bowmen, he would find his way round to the higher cliffs, in the rear of the assailants.[553] He accordingly stole away unobserved from the rear, scrambling round over pathless crags, and by an almost impracticable footing on the brink of the sea, amidst approaches which the Lacedæmonians had left unguarded, never imagining that they could be molested in that direction. He suddenly appeared with his detachment on the higher peak above them, so that their position was thus commanded, and they found themselves, as at Thermopylæ, between two fires, without any hope of escape. Their enemies in front, encouraged by the success of the Messenians, pressed forward with increased ardor, until at length the courage of the Lacedæmonians gave way, and the position was carried.[554]

A few moments more, and they would have been all overpowered and slain, when Kleon and Demosthenês, anxious to carry them as prisoners to Athens, constrained their men to halt, and proclaimed by herald an invitation to surrender, on condition of delivering up their arms and being held at the disposal of the Athenians. Most of them, incapable of farther effort, closed with the proposition forthwith, signifying compliance by dropping their shields and waving both hands above their heads. The battle being thus ended, Styphon the commander—originally only third in command, but now chief, since Epitadas had been slain, and the second in command, Hippagretês, was lying disabled by wounds on the field—entered into conference with Kleon and Demosthenês, and entreated permission to send across for orders to the Lacedæmonians on the mainland. The Athe[p. 346]nian commanders, though refusing this request, sent themselves and invited Lacedæmonian heralds over from the mainland, through whom communications were exchanged twice or three times between Styphon and the chief Lacedæmonian authorities. At length the final message came: “The Lacedæmonians direct you to take counsel for yourselves, but to do nothing disgraceful.”[555] Their counsel was speedily taken; they surrendered themselves and delivered up their arms; two hundred and ninety-two in number, the survivors of the original total of four hundred and twenty. And out of these, no less than one hundred and twenty were native Spartans, some of them belonging to the first families in the city.[556] They were kept under guard during that night, and distributed on the morrow among the Athenian trierarchs to be conveyed as prisoners to Athens; while a truce was granted to the Lacedæmonians on shore, in order that they might carry across the dead bodies for burial. So careful had Epitadas been in husbanding the provisions, that some food was yet found in the island; though the garrison had subsisted for fifty-two days upon casual supplies, aided by such economies as had been laid by during the twenty days of the armistice, when food of a stipulated quantity was regularly furnished. Seventy-two days had thus elapsed, from the first imprisonment in the island to the hour of their surrender.[557]

The best troops in modern times would neither incur reproach, nor occasion surprise, by surrendering, under circumstances in all respects similar to this gallant remnant in Sphakteria. Yet in Greece the astonishment was prodigious and universal, when it was learned that the Lacedæmonians had consented to become prisoners:[558] for the terror inspired by their name, and the deep-struck impression of Thermopylæ, had created a belief that they would endure any extremity of famine, and perish in the midst of any superiority of hostile force, rather than dream of giving up their arms and surviving as captives. The events of Sphak[p. 347]teria, shocking as they did this preconceived idea, discredited the military prowess of Sparta in the eyes of all Greece, and especially in those of her own allies. Even in Sparta itself, too, the same feeling prevailed,—partially revealed in the answer transmitted to Styphon from the generals on shore, who did not venture to forbid surrender, yet discountenanced it by implication: and it is certain that the Spartans would have lost less by their death than by their surrender. But we read with disgust the spiteful taunt of one of the allies of Athens (not an Athenian) engaged in the affair, addressed in the form of a question to one of the prisoners: “Have your best men then been all slain?” The reply conveyed an intimation of the standing contempt entertained by the Lacedæmonians for the bow and its chance-strokes in the line: “That would be a capital arrow which could single out the best man.” The language which Herodotus puts into the mouth of Demaratus, composed in the early years of the Peloponnesian war, attests this same belief in Spartan valor: “The Lacedæmonians die, but never surrender.”[559] Such impression was from henceforward, not indeed effaced, but sensibly enfeebled, and never again was it restored to its former pitch.

But the general judgment of the Greeks respecting the capture of Sphakteria, remarkable as it is to commemorate, is far less surprising than that pronounced by Thucydidês himself. Kleon and Demosthenês returning with a part of the squadron and carrying all the prisoners, started from Sphakteria on the next day but one after the action, and reached Athens within twenty days after Kleon had left it. Thus, “the promise of Kleon, insane as it was, came true,” observes the historian.[560]

[p. 348]

Men with arms in their hands have always the option between death and imprisonment, and Grecian opinion was only mistaken[p. 349] in assuming as a certainty that the Lacedæmonians would choose the former. But Kleon had never promised to bring them home as prisoners: his promise was disjunctive,—that they should be either so brought home, or slain, within twenty days: and no sentence throughout the whole of Thucydidês astonishes me so much as that in which he stigmatizes such an expectation as “insane.” Here are four hundred and twenty Lacedæmonian hoplites, without any other description of troops to aid them,—without the possibility of being reinforced,—without any regular fortification,—without any narrow pass, such as that of Thermopylæ,—without either a sufficient or a certain supply of food,—cooped up in a small open island less than two miles in length. Against them are brought ten thousand troops of diverse arms, including eight hundred fresh hoplites from Athens, and marshalled by Demosthenês, a man alike enterprising and experienced: for the talents as well as the presence and preparations of Demosthenês are a part of the data of the case, and the personal competence of Kleon to command alone, is foreign to the calculation. Now if, under such circumstances, Kleon engaged that this forlorn company of brave men should be either slain or taken prisoners, how could he be looked upon, I will not say as indulging in an insane boast, but even as overstepping the most cautious and mistrustful estimate of probability? Even to doubt of this result, much more to pronounce such an opinion as that of Thucydidês, implies an idea not only of superhuman power in the Lacedæmonian hoplites, but of disgraceful cowardice on the part of Demosthenês and the assailants. Nor was the interval of twenty days, named by Kleon, at all extravagantly narrow, considering the distance of Athens from Pylus: for the attack of this petty island could not possibly occupy more than one or two days at the utmost, though the blockade of it might by various accidents have been prolonged, or might even, by some terrible storm, be altogether broken off. If, then, we carefully consider this promise made by Kleon in the assembly, we shall find that so far from[p. 350] deserving the sentence pronounced upon it by Thucydidês, of being a mad boast which came true by accident, it was a reasonable and even a modest anticipation of the future:[561] reserving the only really doubtful point in the case, whether the garrison of the island would be ultimately slain or made prisoners. Demosthenês, had he been present at Athens instead of being at Pylus, would willingly have set his seal to the engagement taken by Kleon.

I repeat with reluctance, though not without belief, the statement made by one of the biographers of Thucydidês,[562] that Kleon was the cause of the banishment of the latter as a general, and has therefore received from him harder measure than was due in his capacity of historian. But though this sentiment is not probably without influence in dictating the unaccountable judgment which I have just been criticizing,—as well as other opinions relative to Kleon, on which I shall say more in a future chapter,—I nevertheless look upon that judgment not as peculiar to Thucydidês, but as common to him with Nikias and those whom we must call, for want of a better name, the oligarchical party of the time at Athens. And it gives us some measure of the prejudice and narrowness of vision which prevailed among that party at the present memorable crisis; so pointedly contrasting with the clear-sighted and resolute calculations, and the judicious conduct in action, of Kleon, who, when forced against his will into the post of general, did the very best which could be done in his situation,—he selected Demosthenês as colleague and heartily seconded his operations. Though the military attack of Sphakteria, one of the[p. 351] ablest specimens of generalship in the whole war, and distinguished not less by the dextrous employment of different descriptions of troops, than by care to spare the lives of the assailants,—belongs altogether to Demosthenês, yet if Kleon had not been competent to stand up in the Athenian assembly and defy those gloomy predictions which we see attested in Thucydidês, Demosthenês would never have been reinforced nor placed in condition to land on the island. The glory of the enterprise, therefore, belongs jointly to both: and Kleon, far from stealing away the laurels of Demosthenês (as Aristophanês represents, in his comedy of the Knights), was really the means of placing them on his head, though he at the same time deservedly shared them. It has hitherto been the practice to look at Kleon only from the point of view of his opponents, through whose testimony we know him: but the real fact is, that this history of the events of Sphakteria, when properly surveyed, is a standing disgrace to those opponents and no inconsiderable honor to him; exhibiting them as alike destitute of political foresight and of straightforward patriotism,—as sacrificing the opportunities of war, along with the lives of their fellow-citizens and soldiers, for the purpose of ruining a political enemy. It was the duty of Nikias, as stratêgus, to propose, and undertake in person if necessary, the reduction of Sphakteria: if he thought the enterprise dangerous, that was a good reason for assigning to it a larger military force, as we shall find him afterwards reasoning about the Sicilian expedition,—but not for letting it slip or throwing it off upon others.[563]

The return of Kleon and Demosthenês to Athens, within the twenty days promised, bringing with them near three hundred Lacedæmonian prisoners, must have been by far the most triumphant and exhilarating event which had occurred to the Athenians throughout the whole war. It at once changed the prospects, position, and feelings of both the contending parties. Such a number of Lacedæmonian prisoners, especially one hundred and twenty Spartans, was a source of almost stupefaction to the general body of Greeks, and a prize of inestimable value to the captors. The return of Demosthenês in the preceding year from the Ambrakian gulf, when he brought with him three hun[p. 352]dred Ambrakian panoplies, had probably been sufficiently triumphant; but the entry into Peiræus on this occasion from Sphakteria, with three hundred Lacedæmonian prisoners, must doubtless have occasioned emotions transcending all former experience; and it is much to be regretted that no description is preserved to us of the scene, as well as of the elate manifestations of the people when the prisoners were marched up from Peiræus to Athens. We should be curious, also, to read some account of the first Athenian assembly held after this event,—the overwhelming cheers heaped upon Kleon by his joyful partisans, who had helped to invest him with the duties of general, in confidence that he would discharge them well,—contrasted with the silence or retraction of Nikias, and the other humiliated political enemies. But all such details are unfortunately denied to us, though they constitute the blood and animation of Grecian history, now lying before us only in its skeleton.

The first impulse of the Athenians was to regard the prisoners as a guarantee to their territory against invasion:[564] they resolved to keep them securely guarded until the peace, but if, at any time before that event, the Lacedæmonian army should enter Attica, to bring forth the prisoners and put them to death in sight of the invaders. They were at the same time full of spirits in regard to the prosecution of the war, and became farther confirmed in the hope, not merely of preserving their power undiminished, but even of recovering much of what they had lost before the thirty years’ truce. Pylus was placed in an improved state of defence, with the adjoining island of Sphakteria, doubtless as a subsidiary occupation: the Messenians, transferred thither from Naupaktus, and overjoyed to find themselves once more masters even of an outlying rock of their ancestorial territory, began with alacrity to overrun and ravage Laconia, while the Helots, shaken by the recent events, manifested inclination to desert to them. The Lacedæmonian authorities, experiencing evils before unfelt and unknown, became sensibly alarmed lest such desertions should spread through the country. Reluctant as they were to afford obvious evidence of their embarrassments, they nevertheless brought themselves, probably under the pressure of the[p. 353] friends and relatives of the Sphakterian captives, to send to Athens several missions for peace; but all proved abortive.[565] We are not told what they offered, but it did not come up to the expectations which the Athenians thought themselves entitled to indulge.

We, who now review these facts with a knowledge of the subsequent history, see that the Athenians could have concluded a better bargain with the Lacedæmonians during the six or eight months succeeding the capture of Sphakteria, than it was ever open to them to make afterwards; and they had reason to repent that they let slip the opportunity. Perhaps also Periklês, had he been still alive, might have taken the same prudent measure of the future, and might have had ascendency enough over his countrymen to be able to arrest the tide of success at its highest point, before it began to ebb again. But if we put ourselves back into the situation of Athens during the autumn which succeeded the return of Kleon and Demosthenês from Sphakteria, we shall easily enter into the feelings under which the war was continued. The actual possession of the captives now placed Athens in a far better position than she had occupied at a time when they were only blocked up in Sphakteria, and when the Lacedæmonian envoys first arrived to ask for peace. She was now certain of being able to command peace with Sparta on terms at least tolerable, whenever she chose to invite it,—she had also a fair certainty of escaping the hardship of invasion. Next, and this was perhaps the most important feature of the case, the apprehension of Lacedæmonian prowess was now greatly lowered, and the prospects of success to Athens considered as prodigiously improved,[566] even in the estimation of impartial Greeks; much more in the eyes of the Athenians themselves. Moreover, the idea of a tide of good fortune, of the favor of the gods, now begun and likely to continue, of future success as a corollary from past, was one which powerfully affected Grecian calculations generally. Why not push the present good fortune, and try to regain the most important points lost before and by the thirty years’ truce, especially in Megara and[p. 354] Bœotia,—points which Sparta could not concede by negotiation, since they were not in her possession? Though these speculations failed, as we shall see in the coming chapter, yet there was nothing unreasonable in undertaking them. Probably, the almost universal sentiment of Athens was at this moment warlike,—and even Nikias, humiliated as he must have been by the success in Sphakteria, would forget his usual caution in the desire of retrieving his own personal credit by some military exploit. That Demosthenês, now in full measure of esteem, would be eager to prosecute the war, with which his prospects of personal glory were essentially associated, just as Thucydidês[567] observes about Brasidas on the Lacedæmonian side, can admit of no doubt. The comedy of Aristophanês, called the Acharnians, was acted about six months before the affair of Sphakteria, when no one could possibly look forward to such an event,—the comedy of the Knights, about six months after it.[568] Now, there is this remarkable difference between the two,—that while the former breathes the greatest sickness of war, and presses in every possible way the importance of making peace, although at that time Athens had an opportunity of coming even to a decent accommodation,—the latter, running down Kleon with unmeasured scorn and ridicule, talks in one or two places only of the hardships of war, and drops altogether that emphasis and repetition with which peace had been dwelt upon in the Acharnians,—although coming out at a time when peace was within the reach of the Athenians.

To understand properly the history of this period, therefore, we must distinguish various occasions which are often confounded. At the moment when Sphakteria was first blockaded, and when the Lacedæmonians first sent to solicit peace, there was a considerable party at Athens disposed to entertain the offer, and the ascendency of Kleon was one of the main causes why it was[p. 355] rejected. But after the captives were brought home from Sphakteria, the influence of Kleon, though positively greater than it had been before, was no longer required to procure the dismissal of Lacedæmonian pacific offers and the continuance of the war: the general temper of Athens was then warlike, and there were very few to contend strenuously for an opposite policy. During the ensuing year, however, the chances of war turned out mostly unfavorable to Athens, so that by the end of that year she had become much more disposed to peace.[569] The truce for one year was then concluded,—but even after that truce was expired, Kleon still continued eager, and on good grounds, as will be shown hereafter, for renewing the war in Thrace, at a time when a large proportion of the Athenian public had grown weary of it. He was one of the main causes of that resumption of warlike operations, which ended in the battle of Amphipolis, fatal both to himself and to Brasidas. There were thus two distinct occasions on which the personal influence and sanguine character of Kleon seems to have been of sensible moment in determining the Athenian public to war instead of peace. But at the moment which we have now reached, that is, the year immediately following the capture of Sphakteria, the Athenians were all sufficiently warlike without him; probably Nikias himself as well as the rest.

It was one of the earliest proceedings of Nikias, immediately after the inglorious exhibition which he had made in reference to Sphakteria, to conduct an expedition, in conjunction with two colleagues, against the Corinthian territory: he took with him eighty triremes, two thousand Athenian hoplites, two hundred horsemen aboard of some horse transports, and some additional hoplites from Milêtus, Andros, and Karystus.[570] Starting from Peiræus in the evening, he arrived a little before daybreak on a beach at the foot of the hill and village of Solygeia,[571] about seven miles from Corinth, and two or three miles south of the isthmus.[p. 356] The Corinthian troops, from all the territory of Corinth, within the isthmus, were already assembled at the isthmus itself to repel him; for intelligence of the intended expedition had reached Corinth some time before from Argos, with which latter place the scheme of the expedition may have been in some way connected. The Athenians having touched the coast during the darkness, the Corinthians were only apprized of the fact by fire-signals from Solygeia. Not being able to hinder the landing, they despatched forthwith half their forces, under Battus and Lykophron, to repel the invader, while the remaining half were left at the harbor of Kenchreæ, on the northern side of Mount Oneion, to guard the port of Krommyon, outside of the isthmus, in case it should be attacked by sea. Battus with one lochus of hoplites threw himself into the village of Solygeia, which was unfortified, while Lykophron conducted the remaining troops to attack the Athenians. The battle was first engaged on the Athenian right, almost immediately after its landing, on the point called Chersonesus. Here the Athenian hoplites, together with their Karystian allies, repelled the Corinthian attack, after a stout and warmly disputed hand-combat of spear and shield: but the Corinthians, retreating up to a higher point of ground, returned to the charge, and with the aid of a fresh lochus, drove the Athenians back to the shore and to their ships: from hence the latter again turned, and again recovered a partial advantage.[572] The battle was no less severe on the left wing of the Athenians: but here, after a contest of some length, the latter gained a more decided victory, greatly by the aid of their cavalry,—pursuing the Corinthians, who fled in some disorder to a neighboring hill and there took up a position.[573] The Athenians were thus victorious throughout the whole line, with the loss of about forty-seven men, while the Corinthians had lost two hundred and twelve, together with the general Lykophron. The victors erected their trophy, stripped the dead bodies, and buried their own dead.

[p. 357]

The Corinthian detachment left at Kenchreæ could not see the battle, in consequence of the interposing ridge of Mount Oneium: but it was at last made known to them by the dust of the fugitives, and they forthwith hastened to help. Reinforcements also came both from Corinth and from Kenchreæ, and as it seemed, too, from the neighboring Peloponnesian cities, so that Nikias thought it prudent to retire aboard his ships, and halt upon some neighboring islands. It was here first discovered that two of the Athenians slain had not been picked up for burial; upon which he immediately sent a herald to solicit a truce, in order to procure these two missing bodies. We have here a remarkable proof of the sanctity attached to that duty; for the mere sending of the herald was tantamount to confession of defeat.[574]

From hence Nikias sailed to Krommyon, where he ravaged the neighborhood for a few hours and rested for the night. On the next day he reëmbarked, sailed along the coast of Epidaurus, upon which he inflicted some damage in passing, and stopped at last on the peninsula of Methana, between Epidaurus and Trœzen.[575] On this peninsula he established a permanent garrison, drawing a fortification across the narrow neck of land which joined it to the Epidaurian peninsula. This was his last exploit, and he then sailed home: but the post at Methana long remained as a centre for pillaging the neighboring regions of Epidaurus, Trœzen, and Halieis.

While Nikias was engaged in this expedition, Eurymedon and Sophoklês had sailed forward from Pylus with a considerable portion of that fleet which had been engaged in the capture of Sphakteria, to the island of Korkyra. It has been already stated that the democratical government at Korkyra had been suffering severe pressure and privation from the oligarchical fugitives, who had come back into the island with a body of barbaric auxiliaries, and established themselves upon Mount Istônê, not far from the city.[576] Eurymedon and the Athenians joining the Korkyræans in the city, attacked and stormed the post on Mount Istônê; while the vanquished, retiring first to a lofty and inaccessible peak, were forced to surrender themselves on terms to[p. 358] the Athenians. They abandoned their mercenary auxiliaries altogether, and only stipulated that they should themselves be sent to Athens, and left to the discretion of the Athenian people. Eurymedon, assenting to these terms, deposited the disarmed prisoners in the neighboring islet of Ptychia, under the distinct condition that, if a single man tried to escape, the whole capitulation should be null and void.[577]

Unfortunately for these prisoners, the orders given to Eurymedon carried him onward straight to Sicily. It was irksome, therefore, to him to send away a detachment of his squadron to convey these men to Athens,—while the honors of delivering them there would be reaped, not by himself, but by the officer to whom they might be confided: and the Korkyræans in the city, on their part, were equally anxious that the prisoners should not be sent to Athens; for their animosity against them was bitter in the extreme, and they were afraid that the Athenians might spare their lives, so that their hostility against the island might be again resumed. And thus a mean jealousy on the part of Eurymedon, combined with revenge and insecurity on the part of the victorious Korkyræans, brought about a cruel catastrophe, paralleled nowhere else in Greece, though too well in keeping with the previous acts of the bloody drama enacted in this island.

The Korkyræan leaders, seemingly not without the privity of Eurymedon, sent across to Ptychia fraudulent emissaries under the guise of friends to the prisoners. These emissaries—assuring the prisoners that the Athenian commanders, in spite of the convention signed, were about to hand them over to the Korkyræan people for destruction—induced some of them to attempt escape in a boat prepared for the purpose. By concert, the boat was seized in the act of escaping, so that the terms of the capitulation were really violated: upon which Eurymedon handed over the prisoners to their enemies in the island, who imprisoned them all together in one vast building, under guard of hoplites. From this building they were drawn out in companies of twenty men each, chained together in couples, and compelled to march between two lines of hoplites marshalled on each side of the road.[p. 359] Those who loitered in the march were hurried on by whips from behind: as they advanced, their private enemies on both sides singled them out, striking and piercing them until at length they miserably perished. Three successive companies were thus destroyed, ere the remaining prisoners in the interior, who thought merely that their place of detention was about to be changed, suspected what was passing: at length they found it out, and one and all then refused either to quit the building or to permit any one else to enter. They at the same time piteously implored the intervention of the Athenians, if it were only to kill them, and thus preserve them from the cruelties of their merciless countrymen. The latter abstained from attempts to force the door of the building, but made an aperture in the roof, from whence they shot down arrows, and poured showers of tiles, upon the prisoners within; who sought at first to protect themselves, but at length abandoned themselves to despair, and assisted with their own hands in the work of destruction. Some of them pierced their throats with the arrows shot down from the roof: others hung themselves, either with cords from some bedding which happened to be in the building, or with strips torn and twisted from their own garments. Night came on, but the work of destruction, both from above and within, was continued without intermission, so that before morning all these wretched men perished, either by the hands of their enemies or by their own. At daybreak, the Korkyræans entered the building, piled up the dead bodies on carts, and transported them out of the city: the exact number we are not told, but seemingly it cannot have been less than three hundred. The women who had been taken at Istônê along with these prisoners, were all sold as slaves.[578]

Thus finished the bloody dissensions in this ill-fated island: for the oligarchical party were completely annihilated, the democracy was victorious, and there were no farther violences throughout the whole war.[579] It will be recollected that these deadly feuds began with the return of the oligarchical prisoners from Corinth, bringing along with them projects both of treason and of revolution: they ended with the annihilation of that party, in[p. 360] the manner above described; the interval being filled by mutual atrocities and retaliation, wherein of course the victors had most opportunity of gratifying their vindictive passions. Eurymedon, after the termination of these events, proceeded onward with the Athenian squadron to Sicily: what he did there will be described in a future chapter devoted to Sicilian affairs exclusively.

The complete prostration of Ambrakia during the campaign of the preceding year had left Anaktorium without any defence against the Akarnanians and Athenian squadron from Naupaktus. They besieged and took it during the course of the present summer;[580] expelling the Corinthian proprietors, and repeopling the town and its territory with Akarnanian settlers from all the townships in the country.

Throughout the maritime empire of Athens matters continued perfectly tranquil, except that the inhabitants of Chios, during the course of the autumn, incurred the suspicion of the Athenians from having recently built a new wall to their city, as if it were done with the intention of taking the first opportunity to revolt.[581] They solemnly protested their innocence of any such designs, but the Athenians were not satisfied without exacting the destruction of the obnoxious wall. The presence on the opposite continent of an active band of Mitylenæan exiles, who captured both Rhœteium and Antandrus during the ensuing spring, probably made the Athenians more anxious and vigilant on the subject of Chios.[582]

The Athenian regular tribute-gathering squadron circulated among the maritime subjects, and captured, during the course of the present autumn, a prisoner of some importance and singularity. It was a Persian ambassador, Artaphernes, seized at Eion on the Strymon, in his way to Sparta with despatches from the Great King. He was brought to Athens, and his despatches, which were at some length, and written in the Assyrian character, were translated and made public. The Great King told the Lacedæmonians, in substance, that he could not comprehend what they meant; for that among the numerous envoys whom they had sent, no two told the same story. Accordingly he desired them, if they wished to make themselves understood, to send some envoys[p. 361] with fresh and plain instructions to accompany Artaphernes.[583] Such was the substance of the despatch, conveying a remarkable testimony as to the march of the Lacedæmonian government in its foreign policy. Had any similar testimony existed respecting Athens, demonstrating that her foreign policy was conducted with half as much unsteadiness and stupidity, ample inferences would have been drawn from it to the discredit of democracy. But there has been no motive generally to discredit Lacedæmonian institutions, which included kingship in double measure,—two parallel lines of hereditary kings: together with an entire exemption from everything like popular discussion. The extreme defects in the foreign management of Sparta, revealed by the despatch of Artaphernes, seem traceable partly to an habitual faithlessness often noted in the Lacedæmonian character, partly to the annual change of ephors, so frequently bringing into power men who strove to undo what had been done by their predecessors, and still more to the absence of everything like discussion or canvass of public measures among the citizens. We shall find more than one example, in the history about to follow, of this disposition on the part of ephors, not merely to change the policy of their predecessors, but even to subvert treaties sworn and concluded by them: and such was the habitual secrecy of Spartan public business, that in doing this they had neither criticism nor discussion to fear. Brasidas, when he started from Sparta on the expedition which will be described in the coming chapter, could not trust the assurances of the Lacedæmonian executive without binding them by the most solemn oaths.[584]

The Athenians sent back Artaphernes in a trireme to Ephesus, and availed themselves of this opportunity for procuring access to the Great King. They sent envoys along with him, with the intention that they should accompany him up to Susa: but on reaching Asia, the news had just arrived that King Artaxerxes[p. 362] had recently died. Under such circumstances, it was not judged expedient to prosecute the mission, and the Athenians dropped their design.[585]

Respecting the great monarchy of Persia, during this long interval of fifty-four years since the repulse of Xerxes from Greece, we have little information before us except the names of the successive kings. In the year 465 B.C. Xerxes was assassinated by Artabanus and Mithridates, through one of those plots of great household officers, so frequent in oriental palaces. He left two sons, or at least two sons present and conspicuous among a greater number, Darius and Artaxerxes. But Artabanus persuaded Artaxerxes that Darius had been the murderer of Xerxes, and thus prevailed upon him to revenge his father’s death by becoming an accomplice in killing his brother Darius: he next tried to assassinate Artaxerxes himself, and to appropriate the crown. Artaxerxes however, apprized beforehand of the scheme, either slew Artabanus with his own hand or procured him to be slain and then reigned (known under the name of Artaxerxes Longimanus) for forty years, down to the period at which we are now arrived.[586]

Mention has already been made of the revolt of Egypt from the dominion of Artaxerxes, under the Libyan prince Inanes, actively aided by the Athenians. After a few years of success, this revolt was crushed and Egypt again subjugated, by the energy of the Persian general Megabyzus, with severe loss to the Athenian forces engaged. After the peace of Kallias, erroneously called the Kimonian peace, between the Athenians and the king of Persia, war had not been since resumed. We read in Ktesias, amidst various anecdotes seemingly collected at the court of Susa, romantic adventures ascribed to Megabyzus, his[p. 363] wife Amytis, his mother Amestris, and a Greek physician of Kos, named Apollonides. Zopyrus son of Megabyzus, after the death of his father, deserted from Persia and came as an exile to Athens.[587]

At the death of Artaxerxes Longimanus, the family violences incident to a Persian succession were again exhibited. His son Xerxes succeeded him, but was assassinated, after a reign of a few weeks or months. Another son, Sogdianus, followed, who perished in like manner after a short interval.[588] Lastly, a third son, Ochus (known under the name of Darius Nothus), either abler or more fortunate, kept his crown and life between nineteen and twenty years. By his queen, the savage Parysatis, he was father to Artaxerxes Mnemon and Cyrus the younger, both names of interest in reference to Grecian history, to whom we shall hereafter recur.


The eighth year of the war, on which we now touch, presents events of a more important and decisive character than any of the preceding. In reviewing the preceding years, we observe that though there is much fighting, with hardship and privation inflicted on both sides, yet the operations are mostly of a desultory character, not calculated to determine the event of the war. But the capture of Sphakteria and its prisoners, coupled with the surrender of the whole Lacedæmonian fleet, was an event full of consequences and imposing in the eyes of all Greece. It stimulated the Athenians to a series of operations, larger and more ambitious than anything which they had yet conceived;[p. 364] directed, not merely against Sparta in her own country, but also to the reconquest of that ascendency in Megara and Bœotia which they had lost on or before the thirty years’ truce. On the other hand, it intimidated so much both the Lacedæmonians, the revolted Chalkidic allies of Athens in Thrace, and Perdikkas, king of Macedonia, that between them the expedition of Brasidas, which struck so serious a blow at the Athenian empire, was concerted. This year is thus the turning-point of the war. If the operations of Athens had succeeded, she would have regained nearly as great a power as she enjoyed before the thirty years’ truce: but it happened that Sparta, or rather the Spartan Brasidas, was successful, gaining enough to neutralize all the advantages derived by Athens from the capture of Sphakteria.

The first enterprise undertaken by the Athenians in the course of the spring was against the island of Kythêra, on the southern coast of Laconia. It was inhabited by Lacedæmonian Periœki, and administered by a governor, and garrison of hoplites, annually sent thither. It was the usual point of landing for merchantmen from Libya and Egypt; and as it lay very near to Cape Malea, immediately over against the gulf of Gythium,—the only accessible portion of the generally inhospitable coast of Laconia,—the chance that it might fall into the hands of an enemy was considered as so menacing to Sparta, that some politicians are said to have wished the island at the bottom of the sea.[589] Nikias, in conjunction with Nikostratus and Autoklês,[p. 365] conducted thither a fleet of sixty triremes, with two thousand Athenian hoplites, some few horsemen, and a body of allies, mainly Milesians. There were in the island two towns,—Kythêra and Skandeia: the former having a lower town close to the sea, fronting Cape Malea, and an upper town on the hill above; the latter, seemingly, on the south or west coast. Both were attacked at the same time by order of Nikias; ten triremes and a body of Milesian[590] hoplites disembarked and captured Skandeia; while the Athenians landed at Kythêra, and drove the inhabitants out of the lower town into the upper, where they speedily capitulated. A certain party among them had indeed secretly invited the coming of Nikias, through which intrigue easy terms were obtained for the inhabitants. Some few men, indicated by the Kytherians in intelligence with Nikias, were carried away as prisoners to Athens: but the remainder were left undisturbed, and enrolled among the tributary allies under obligation to pay four talents per annum; an Athenian garrison being placed at Kythêra for the protection of the island. From hence Nikias employed seven days in descents and inroads upon the coast, near Helos, Asinê, Aphrodisia, Kotyrta, and elsewhere. The Lacedæmonian force was disseminated in petty garrisons,[p. 366] which remained each for the defence of its own separate post, without uniting to repel the Athenians, so that there was only one action, and that of little importance, which the Athenians deemed worthy of a trophy.

In returning home from Kythêra, Nikias first ravaged the small strip of cultivated land near Epidaurus Limêra, on the rocky eastern coast of Laconia, and then attacked the Æginetan settlement at Thyrea, the frontier strip between Laconia and Argolis. This town and district had been made over by Sparta to the Æginetans, at the time when they were expelled from their own island by Athens, in the first year of the war. The new inhabitants, finding the town too distant from the sea[591] for their maritime habits, were now employed in constructing a fortification close on the shore; in which work a Lacedæmonian detachment under Tantalus, on guard in that neighborhood, was assisting them. When the Athenians landed, both Æginetans and Lacedæmonians at once abandoned the new fortification. The former, with the commanding officer, Tantalus, occupied the upper town of Thyrea; but the Lacedæmonian troops, not thinking it tenable, refused to take part in the defence, and retired to the neighboring mountains, in spite of urgent entreaty from the Æginetans. The Athenians, immediately after landing, marched up to the town of Thyrea, and carried it by storm, burning or destroying everything within it: all the Æginetans were either killed or made prisoners, and even Tantalus, disabled by his wounds, became prisoner also. From hence the armament returned to Athens, where a vote was taken as to the disposal of the prisoners. The Kytherians brought home were distributed for safe custody among the dependent islands: Tantalus was retained along with the prisoners from Sphakteria; but a harder fate was reserved for the Æginetans; they were[p. 367] all put to death, victims to the long-standing apathy between Athens and Ægina. This cruel act was nothing more than a strict application of admitted customs of war in those days: had the Lacedæmonians been the victors, there can be little doubt that they would have acted with equal rigor.[592]

The occupation of Kythêra, in addition to Pylus, by an Athenian garrison, following so closely upon the capital disaster in Sphakteria, produced in the minds of the Spartans feelings of alarm and depression such as they had never before experienced. Within the course of a few short months their position had completely changed from superiority and aggression abroad to insult and insecurity at home. They anticipated nothing less than incessant foreign attacks on all their weak points, with every probability of internal defection, from the standing discontent of the Helots: nor was it unknown to them, probably, that even Kythêra itself had been lost partly through betrayal. The capture of Sphakteria had caused peculiar sensations among the Helots, to whom the Lacedæmonians had addressed both appeals and promises of emancipation, in order to procure succor for their hoplites while blockaded in the island; and if the ultimate surrender of these hoplites had abated the terrors of Lacedæmonian prowess throughout all Greece, this effect had been produced to a still greater degree among the oppressed Helots. A refuge at Pylus, and a nucleus which presented some possibility of expanding into regenerated Messenia, were now before their eyes; while the establishment of an Athenian garrison at Kythêra opened a new channel of communication with the enemies of Sparta, so as to tempt all the Helots of daring temper to stand forward as liberators of their enslaved race.[593] The Lacedæmonians, habitually cautious at all times, felt now as if the tide of fortune had turned decidedly against them, and acted with confirmed mistrust and dismay, confining themselves to measures strictly defensive, and organizing a force of four hundred cavalry, together with a body of bowmen, beyond their ordinary establishment.

But the precaution which they thought it necessary to take in regard to the Helots, affords the best measure of their apprehensions at the moment, and exhibits, indeed, a refinement of fraud[p. 368] and cruelty rarely equalled in history. Wishing to single out from the general body such as were most high-couraged and valiant, the ephors made proclamation, that those Helots, who conceived themselves to have earned their liberty by distinguished services in war, might stand forward to claim it. A considerable number obeyed the call; probably many who had undergone imminent hazards during the preceding summer, in order to convey provisions to the blockaded soldiers in Sphakteria.[594] They were examined by the government, and two thousand of them were selected as fully worthy of emancipation; which was forthwith bestowed upon them in public ceremonial, with garlands, visits to the temples, and the full measure of religious solemnity. The government had now made the selection which it desired; presently every man among these newly-enfranchized Helots was made away with, no one knew how.[595] A stratagem at once[p. 369] so perfidious in the contrivance, so murderous in the purpose, and so complete in the execution, stands without parallel in Grecian history,—we might almost say, without a parallel in any history. It implies a depravity far greater than the rigorous execution of a barbarous customary law against prisoners of war or rebels, even in large numbers. The ephors must have employed numerous instruments, apart from each other, for the performance of this bloody deed; yet it appears that no certain knowledge could be obtained of the details; a striking proof of the mysterious efficiency of this Council of Five, surpassing even that of the Council of Ten at Venice, as well as of the utter absence of public inquiry or discussion.

It was while the Lacedæmonians were in this state of uneasiness at home, that envoys reached them from Perdikkas of Macedonia and the Chalkidians of Thrace, entreating aid against Athens; who was considered likely, in her present tide of success, to resume aggressive measures against them. There were, moreover, other parties, in the neighboring cities[596] subject to Athens, who secretly favored the application, engaging to stand forward in open revolt as soon as any auxiliary force should arrive to warrant their incurring the hazard. Perdikkas (who had on his hands a dispute with his kinsman Arrhibæus, prince of the Lynkestæ-Macedonians, which he was anxious to be enabled to close successfully) and the Chalkidians offered at the same time to provide the pay and maintenance, as well as to facilitate the transit, of the troops who might be sent to them; and what was of still greater importance to the success of the enterprise, they specially requested that Brasidas might be invested with the command.[597] He had now recovered from his wounds received at Pylus, and his reputation for adventurous valor, great as it was from positive desert, stood out still more conspicuously, because not a single other Spartan had as yet distinguished him[p. 370]self. His other great qualities, apart from personal valor, had not yet been shown, for he had never been in any supreme command. But he burned with impatience to undertake the operation destined for him by the envoys; although at this time it must have appeared so replete with difficulty and danger, that probably no other Spartan except himself would have entered upon it with the smallest hopes of success. To raise up embarrassments for Athens, in Thrace, was an object of great consequence to Sparta, while she also obtained an opportunity of sending away another large detachment of her dangerous Helots. Seven hundred of these latter were armed as hoplites and placed under the orders of Brasidas, but the Lacedæmonians would not assign to him any of their own proper forces. With the sanction of the Spartan name, with seven hundred Helot hoplites, and with such other hoplites as he could raise in Peloponnesus by means of the funds furnished from the Chalkidians, Brasidas prepared to undertake this expedition, alike adventurous and important.

Had the Athenians entertained any suspicion of his design, they could easily have prevented him from ever reaching Thrace. But they knew nothing of it until he had actually joined Perdikkas, nor did they anticipate any serious attack from Sparta, in this moment of her depression, much less an enterprise far bolder than any which she had ever been known to undertake. They were now elate with hopes of conquests to come on their own part, their affairs being so prosperous and promising that parties favorable to their interests began to revive, both in Megara and in Bœotia; while Hippokratês and Demosthenês, the two chief stratêgi for the year, were men of energy, well qualified both to project and execute military achievements.

The first opportunity presented itself in regard to Megara. The inhabitants of that city had been greater sufferers by the war than any other persons in Greece: they had been the chief cause of bringing down the war upon Athens, and the Athenians revenged upon them all the hardships which they themselves endured from the Lacedæmonian invasion. Twice in every year they laid waste the Megarid, which bordered upon their own territory; and that too with such destructive hands throughout its limited extent, that they intercepted all subsistence from the lands near the town, at the same time keeping the harbor[p. 371] of Nisæa closely blocked up. Under such hard conditions the Megarians found much difficulty in supplying even the primary wants of life.[598] But their case had now, within the last few months, become still more intolerable by an intestine commotion in the city, ending in the expulsion of a powerful body of exiles, who seized and held possession of Pegæ, the Megarian port in the gulf of Corinth. Probably imports from Pegæ had been their chief previous resource against the destruction which came on them from the side of Athens; so that it became scarcely possible to sustain themselves, when the exiles in Pegæ not only deprived them of this resource, but took positive part in harassing them. These exiles were oligarchical, and the government in Megara had now become more or less democratical: but the privations in the city presently reached such a height, that several citizens began to labor for a compromise, whereby the exiles in Pegæ might be readmitted. It was evident to the leaders in Megara that the bulk of the citizens could not long sustain the pressure of enemies from both sides, but it was also their feeling that the exiles in Pegæ, their bitter political rivals, were worse enemies than the Athenians, and that the return of these exiles would be a sentence of death to themselves. To prevent this counter-revolution, they opened a secret correspondence with Hippokratês and Demosthenês, engaging to betray both Megara and Nisæa to the Athenians; though Nisæa, the harbor of Megara, about one mile from the city, was a separate fortress occupied by a Peloponnesian garrison, and by them exclusively, as well as the Long Walls, for the purpose of holding Megara fast to the Lacedæmonian confederacy.[599]

The scheme for surprise was concerted, and what is more remarkable, in the extreme publicity of all Athenian affairs, and in a matter to which many persons must have been privy, was kept secret, until the instant of execution. A large Athenian[p. 372] force, four thousand hoplites and six hundred cavalry, was appointed to march at night by the high road through Eleusis to Megara: but Hippokratês and Demosthenês themselves went on shipboard from Peiræus to the island of Minôa, which was close against Nisæa, and had been for some time under occupation by an Athenian garrison. Here Hippokratês concealed himself with six hundred hoplites, in a hollow space out of which brick earth had been dug, on the mainland opposite to Minôa, and not far from the gate in the Long Wall which opened near the junction of that wall with the ditch and wall surrounding Nisæa; while Demosthenês, with some light-armed Platæans and a detachment of active young Athenians, called Peripoli, and serving as the movable guard of Attica, in their first or second year of military service, placed himself in ambush in the sacred precinct of Arês, still closer to the same gate.

To procure that the gate should be opened, was the task of the conspirators within. Amidst the shifts to which the Megarians had been reduced in order to obtain supplies, especially since the blockade of Minôa, predatory exit by night was not omitted. Some of these conspirators had been in the habit, before the intrigue with Athens was projected, of carrying out a small sculler-boat by night upon a cart, through this gate, by permission of the Peloponnesian commander of Nisæa and the Long Walls. The boat, when thus brought out, was carried down to the shore along the hollow of the dry ditch which surrounded the wall of Nisæa, then put to sea for some nightly enterprise, and was brought back again along the ditch before daylight in the morning; the gate being opened, by permission, to let it in. This was the only way by which any Megarian vessel could get to sea, since the Athenians at Minôa were complete masters of the harbor. On the night fixed for the surprise, this boat was carried out and brought back at the usual hour. But the moment that the gate in the Long Wall was opened to readmit it, Demosthenês and his comrades sprang forward to force their way in; the Megarians along with the boat at the same time setting upon and killing the guards, in order to facilitate his entrance. This active and determined band were successful in mastering the gate, and keeping it open until the six hundred hoplites under Hippokratês came up, and got into the[p. 373] interior space between the Long Walls. They immediately mounted the walls on each side, every man as he came in, with little thought of order, to drive off or destroy the Peloponnesian guards; who, taken by surprise, and fancying that the Megarians generally were in concert with the enemy against them,—confirmed, too, in such belief by hearing the Athenian herald proclaim aloud that every Megarian who chose might take his post in the line of Athenian hoplites,[600]—made at first some resistance, but were soon discouraged, and fled into Nisæa. By a little after daybreak, the Athenians found themselves masters of all the line of the Long Walls, and under the very gates of Megara,—reinforced by the larger force which, having marched by land through Eleusis, arrived at the concerted moment.

Meanwhile, the Megarians within the city were in the greatest tumult and consternation. But the conspirators, prepared with their plan, had resolved to propose that the gates should be thrown open, and that the whole force of the city should be marched out to fight the Athenians: when once the gates should be open, they themselves intended to take part with the Athenians, and facilitate their entrance,—and they had rubbed their bodies over with oil in order to be visibly distinguished in the eyes of the latter. Their plan was only frustrated the moment before it was about to be put in execution, by the divulgation of one of their own comrades. Their opponents in the city, apprized of what was in contemplation, hastened to the gate, and intercepted the men rubbed with oil as they were about to open it. Without betraying any knowledge of the momentous secret which they had just learned, these opponents loudly protested against opening the gate and going out to fight an enemy for whom they had never conceived themselves, even in moments of greater strength, to be a match in the open field. While insisting only[p. 374] on the public mischiefs of the measure, they at the same time planted themselves in arms against the gate, and declared that they would perish before they would allow it to be opened. For this obstinate resistance the conspirators were not prepared, so that they were forced to abandon their design and leave the gate closed.

The Athenian generals, who were waiting in expectation that it would be opened, soon perceived by the delay that their friends within had been baffled, and immediately resolved to make sure of Nisæa, which lay behind them; an acquisition important not less in itself, than as a probable means for the mastery of Megara. They set about the work with the characteristic rapidity of Athenians. Masons and tools in abundance were forthwith sent for from Athens, and the army distributed among themselves the wall of circumvallation round Nisæa in distinct parts. First, the interior space between the Long Walls themselves was built across, so as to cut off the communication with Megara; next, walls were carried out from the outside of both the Long Walls down to the sea, so as completely to inclose Nisæa, with its fortifications and ditch. The scattered houses which formed a sort of ornamented suburb to Nisæa, furnished bricks for this inclosing circle, or were sometimes even made to form a part of it as they stood, with the parapets on their roofs; while the trees were cut down to supply material wherever palisades were suitable. In a day and a half the work of circumvallation was almost completed, so that the Peloponnesians in Nisæa saw before them nothing but a hopeless state of blockade. Deprived of all communication, they not only fancied that the whole city of Megara had joined the Athenians, but they were moreover without any supply of provisions, which had been always furnished to them in daily rations from the city. Despairing of any speedy relief from Peloponnesus, they accepted easy terms of capitulation offered to them by the Athenian generals.[601] After delivering up their arms, each man among them was to be ransomed for a stipulated price; we are not told how much, but doubtless a moderate sum. The Lacedæmonian commander, and such other Lacedæmonians as might be in Nisæa, were, however, required[p. 375] to surrender themselves as prisoners to the Athenians, to be held at their disposal. On these terms Nisæa was surrendered to the Athenians, who cut off its communication with Megara, by keeping the intermediate space between the Long Walls effectively blocked up,—walls, of which they had themselves, in former days, been the original authors.[602]

Such interruption of communication by the Long Walls indicated in the minds of the Athenian generals a conviction that Megara was now out of their reach. But the town in its present distracted state, would certainly have fallen into their hands,[603] had it not been snatched from them by the accidental neighborhood and energetic intervention of Brasidas. That officer, occupied in the levy of troops for his Thracian expedition, was near Corinth and Sikyon, when he first learned the surprise and capture of the Long Walls. Partly from the alarm which the news excited among these Peloponnesian towns, partly from his own personal influence, he got together a body of two thousand seven hundred Corinthian hoplites, six hundred Sikyonian and four hundred Phliasian, besides his own small army, and marched with this united force to Tripodiskus, in the Megarid, half-way between Megara and Pegæ, on the road over Mount Geraneia; having first despatched a pressing summons to the Bœotians to request that they would meet him at that point with reinforcements. He trusted by a speedy movement to preserve Megara, and perhaps[p. 376] even Nisæa; but on reaching Tripodiskus in the night, he learned that the latter place had already surrendered. Alarmed for the safety of Megara, he proceeded thither by a night-march without delay. Taking with him only a chosen band of three hundred men, he presented himself, without being expected, at the gates of the city; entreating to be admitted, and offering to lend his immediate aid for the recovery of Nisæa. One of the two parties in Megara would have been glad to comply; but the other, knowing well that in that case the exiles in Pegæ would be brought back upon them, was prepared for a strenuous resistance, in which case the Athenian force, still only one mile off, would have been introduced as auxiliaries. Under these circumstances the two parties came to a compromise, and mutually agreed to refuse admittance to Brasidas. They expected that a battle would take place between him and the Athenians, and each calculated that Megara would follow the fortunes of the victor.[604]

Returning back without success to Tripodiskus, Brasidas was joined there early in the morning by two thousand Bœotian hoplites and six hundred cavalry; for the Bœotians had been put in motion by the same news as himself, and had even commenced their march, before his messenger arrived, with such celerity as to have already reached Platæa.[605] The total force under Brasidas was thus increased to six thousand hoplites and six hundred cavalry, with whom he marched straight to the neighborhood of Megara. The Athenian light troops, dispersed over the plain, were surprised and driven in by the Bœotian cavalry; but the Athenian cavalry, coming to their aid, maintained a sharp action with the assailants, wherein, after some loss on both sides, a slight advantage remained on the side of the Athenians. They granted a truce for the burial of the Bœotian officer of cavalry, who was slain with some others. After this indecisive cavalry skirmish, Brasidas advanced with his main force into the plain, between Megara and the sea, taking up a position near to the Athenian hoplites, who were drawn up in battle array, hard by Nisæa and the Long Walls. He thus offered them battle if they chose it; but each party expected that the other would attack and each was unwilling to begin the attack on his own side,[p. 377] Brasidas was well aware that, if the Athenians refused to fight, Megara would be preserved from falling into their hands,—which loss it was his main object to prevent, and which had in fact been prevented only by his arrival. If he attacked and was beaten, he would forfeit this advantage,—while, if victorious, he could hardly hope to gain much more. The Athenian generals on their side reflected, that they had already secured a material acquisition in Nisæa, which cut off Megara from their sea; that the army opposed to them was not only superior in number of hoplites, but composed of contingents from many different cities, so that no one city hazarded much in the action; while their own force was all Athenian, and composed of the best hoplites in Athens, which would render a defeat severely ruinous to the city: nor did they think it worth while to encounter this risk, even for the purpose of gaining possession of Megara. With such views in the leaders on both sides, the two armies remained for some time in position, each waiting for the other to attack: at length the Athenians, seeing that no aggressive movement was contemplated by their opponents, were the first to retire into Nisæa. Thus left master of the field, Brasidas retired in triumph to Megara, the gates of which were now opened without reserve to admit him.[606]

The army of Brasidas, having gained the chief point for which it was collected, speedily dispersed,—he himself resuming his preparations for Thrace; while the Athenians on their side also returned home, leaving an adequate garrison for the occupation both of Nisæa and of the Long Walls. But the interior of Megara underwent a complete and violent revolution. While the leaders friendly to Athens, not thinking it safe to remain, fled forthwith and sought shelter with the Athenians,[607] the opposite party opened communication with the exiles at Pegæ and readmitted them into the city; binding them however, by the most solemn pledges, to observe absolute amnesty of the past and to study nothing but the welfare of the common city. The new-comers only kept their pledge during the interval which elapsed[p. 378] until they acquired power to violate it with effect. They soon got themselves placed in the chief commands of state, and found means to turn the military force to their own purposes. A review and examination of arms, of the hoplites in the city, having been ordered, the Megarian lochi were so marshalled and tutored as to enable the leaders to single out such victims as they thought expedient. They seized many of their most obnoxious enemies, some of them suspected as accomplices in the recent conspiracy with Athens: the men thus seized were subjected to the forms of a public trial, before that which was called a public assembly; wherein each voter, acting under military terror, was constrained to give his suffrage openly. All were condemned to death and executed, to the number of one hundred.[608] The constitution of Megara was then shaped into an oligarchy of the closest possible kind, a few of the most violent men taking complete possession of the government. But they must probably have conducted it with vigor and prudence for their own purposes, since Thucydidês remarks that it was rare to see a revolution accomplished by so small a party, and yet so durable. How long it lasted, he does not mention. A few months after these incidents, the Megarians regained possession of their Long Walls, by capture from the Athenians,[609] to whom indeed they could have been of no material service, and levelled the whole line of them to the ground: but the Athenians still retained Nisæa. We may remark, as explaining in part the durability of this new government, that the truce concluded at the beginning of the ensuing year must have greatly lightened the difficulties of any government, whether oligarchical or democratical, in Megara.

The scheme for surprising Megara had been both laid and executed with skill, and only miscarried through an accident to which such schemes are always liable, as well as by the unexpected celerity of Brasidas. It had, moreover, succeeded so far[p. 379] as to enable the Athenians to carry Nisæa,—one of the posts which they had surrendered by the thirty years’ truce, and of considerable positive value to them: so that it counted on the whole as a victory, leaving the generals with increased encouragement to turn their activity elsewhere. Accordingly, very soon after the troops had been brought back from the Megarid,[610] Hippokratês and Demosthenês concerted a still more extensive plan for the invasion of Bœotia, in conjunction with some malcontents in the Bœotian towns, who desired to break down and democratize the oligarchical governments, and especially through the agency of a Theban exile named Ptœodôrus. Demosthenês, with forty triremes, was sent round Peloponnesus to Naupaktus, with instructions to collect an Akarnanian force, to sail into the inmost recess of the Corinthian or Krissæan gulf, and to occupy Siphæ, a maritime town belonging to the Bœotian Thespiæ, where intelligences had been already established. On the same day, determined beforehand, Hippokratês engaged to enter Bœotia, with the main force of Athens, at the southeastern corner of the territory near Tanagra, and to fortify Delium, the temple of Apollo, on the coast of the Eubœan strait: while at the same time it was concerted that some Bœotian and Phocian malcontents should make themselves masters of Chæroneia on the borders of Phocis. Bœotia would thus be assailed on three sides at the same moment, so that the forces of the country would be distracted and unable to coöperate. Internal movements were farther expected to take place in some of the cities, such as perhaps to establish democratical governments and place them at once in alliance with the Athenians.

Accordingly, about the month of August, Demosthenês sailed from Athens to Naupaktus, where he collected his Akarnanian allies,—now stronger and more united than ever, since the refractory inhabitants of Œniadæ had been at length compelled to join their Akarnanian brethren: moreover, the neighboring Agræans with their prince Salynthius were also brought into the Athenian alliance. On the appointed day, seemingly about the beginning of October, he sailed with a strong force of these allies[p. 380] up to Siphæ, in full expectation that it would be betrayed to him.[611] But the execution of this enterprise was less happy than that against Megara. In the first place, there was a mistake as to the day understood between Hippokratês and Demosthenês: in the next place, the entire plot was discovered and betrayed by a Phocian of Phanoteus (bordering on Chæroneia) named Nicomachus,—communicated first to the Lacedæmonians and through them to the bœotarchs. Siphæ and Chæroneia were immediately placed in a state of defence, and Demosthenês, on arriving at the former place, found not only no party within it favorable to him, but a formidable Bœotian force which rendered attack unavailing: moreover, Hippokratês had not yet begun his march, so that the defenders had nothing to distract their attention from Siphæ.[612] Under these circumstances, not only was Demosthenês obliged to withdraw without striking a blow, and to content himself with an unsuccessful descent upon the territory of Sikyon,[613] but all the expected internal movements in Bœotia were prevented from breaking out.

It was not till after the Bœotian troops, having repelled the attack by sea, had retired from Siphæ, that Hippokratês commenced his march from Athens to invade the Bœotian territory near Tanagra. He was probably encouraged by false promises from the Bœotian exiles, otherwise it seems remarkable that he should have persisted in executing his part of the scheme alone, after the known failure of the other part. It was, however, executed in a manner which implies unusual alacrity and confidence. The whole military population of Athens was marched into Bœotia, to the neighborhood of Delium, the eastern coast-extremity of the territory belonging to the Bœotian town of Tanagra; the expedition comprising all classes, not merely citizens, but also metics or resident non-freemen, and even non-resident strangers then by accident at Athens. Of course this statement must be understood with the reserve of ample guards left behind for the city: but besides the really effective force of seven thousand hoplites, and several hundred horsemen, there appear to have been not less than twenty-five thousand light-armed, half-armed,[p. 381] or unarmed attendants accompanying the march.[614] The number of hoplites is here prodigiously great; brought together by general and indiscriminate proclamation, not selected by a special choice of the stratêgi out of the names on the muster-roll, as was usually the case for any distant expedition.[615] As to light-armed, there was at this time no trained force of that description at Athens, except a small body of archers. No pains had been taken to organize either darters or slingers: the hoplites, the horsemen, and the seamen, constituted the whole effective force of the city. Indeed, it appears that the Bœotians also were hardly less destitute than the Athenians of native darters and slingers, since those which they employed in the subsequent siege of Delium were in great part hired from the Malian gulf.[616] To employ at one and the same time heavy-armed and light-armed, was not natural to any Grecian community, but was a practice which grew up with experience and necessity. The Athenian feeling, as manifested in the Persæ of Æschylus a few years after the repulse of Xerxes, proclaims exclusive pride in the spear and shield, with contempt for the bow: and it was only during this very year, when alarmed by the Athenian occupation of Pylus and Kythêra, that the Lacedæmonians, contrary to their previous[p. 382] custom, had begun to organize a regiment of archers.[617] The effective manner in which Demosthenês had employed the light-armed in Sphakteria against the Lacedæmonian hoplites, was well calculated to teach an instructive lesson as to the value of the former description of troops.

The Bœotian Delium,[618] which Hippokratês now intended to occupy and fortify, was a temple of Apollo, strongly situated and overhanging the sea, about five miles from Tanagra, and somewhat more than a mile from the border territory of Orôpus,—a territory originally Bœotian, but at this time dependent on Athens, and even partly incorporated in the political community of Athens, under the name of the Deme of Græa.[619] Orôpus itself was about a day’s march from Athens, by the road which led through Dekeleia and Sphendalê, between the mountains Parnês and Phelleus: so that as the distance to be traversed was so inconsiderable, and the general feeling of the time was that of confidence, it is probable that men of all ages, arms, and dispositions crowded to join the march, in part from mere curiosity and excitement. Hippokratês reached Delium on the day after he had started from Athens: on the succeeding day he began his work of fortification, which was completed, all hands aiding, and tools as well as workmen having been brought along with the army from Athens, in two days and a half. Having dug a ditch all round the sacred ground, he threw up the earth in a bank alongside of the ditch, planting stakes, throwing in fascines, and adding layers of stone and brick, to keep the work together, and make it into a rampart of tolerable height and firmness. The vines[620] round the temple, together with the stakes which served[p. 383] as supports to them, were cut to obtain wood; the houses adjoining furnished bricks and stone: the outer temple-buildings themselves also, on some of the sides, served as they stood to facilitate and strengthen the defence; but there was one side on which the annexed building, once a portico, had fallen down: and here the Athenians constructed some wooden towers as a help to the defenders. By the middle of the fifth day after leaving Athens, the work was so nearly completed, that the army quitted Delium, and began its march homeward, out of Bœotia; halting, after it had proceeded about a mile and a quarter, within the Athenian territory of Orôpus. It was here that the hoplites awaited the coming of Hippokratês, who still remained at Delium, stationing the garrison, and giving his final orders about future defence; while the greater number of the light-armed and unarmed, separating from the hoplites, and seemingly without any anticipation of the coming danger, continued their return-march to Athens.[621] Their position was probably about the western extremity of the plain of Orôpus, on the verge of the low heights between that plain and Delium.[622]

During these five days, however, the forces from all parts of Bœotia had time to muster at Tanagra: and their number was just completed as the Athenians were beginning their march[p. 384] homeward from Delium. Contingents had arrived, not only from Thebes and its dependent townships around, but also from Haliartus, Korôneia, Orchomenus, Kôpæ, and Thespiæ: that of Tanagra joined on the spot. The government of the Bœotian confederacy at this time was vested in eleven bœotarchs,—two chosen from Thebes, the rest in unknown proportion by the other cities, immediate members of the confederacy,—and in four senates, or councils, the constitution of which is not known. Though all the bœotarchs, now assembled at Tanagra, formed a sort of council of war, yet the supreme command was vested in Pagondas and Aranthidês, the bœotarchs from Thebes; either in Pagondas as the senior of the two, or perhaps in both, alternating with each other day by day.[623] As the Athenians were evidently in full retreat, and had already passed the border, all the other bœotarchs, except Pagondas, were unwilling to hazard a battle[624] on soil not Bœotian, and were disposed to let them return home without obstruction. Such reluctance is not surprising, when we reflect that the chances of defeat were considerable, and that probably some of these bœotarchs were afraid of the increased power which a victory would lend to the oppressive tendencies of Thebes. But Pagondas strenuously opposed this proposition, and carried the soldiers of the various cities along with him, even in opposition to the sentiments of their separate leaders, in favor of immediately fighting. He called them apart and addressed them by separate divisions, in order that all might[p. 385] not quit their arms at one and the same moment.[625] He characterized the sentiment of the other bœotarchs as an unworthy manifestation of weakness, which, when properly considered, had not even the recommendation of superior prudence. For the Athenians had just invaded the country, and built a fort for the purpose of continuous devastation; nor were they less enemies on one side of the border than on the other. Moreover, they were the most restless and encroaching of all enemies; and the Bœotians, who had the misfortune to be their neighbors, could only be secure against them by the most resolute promptitude in defending themselves, as well as in returning the blows first given. If they wished to protect their autonomy and their property against the condition of slavery under which their neighbors in Eubœa had long suffered, as well as so many other portions of Greece, their only chance was to march onward and beat these invaders, following the glorious example of their fathers and predecessors in the field of Korôneia. The sacrifices were favorable to an advancing movement, and Apollo, whose temple the Athenians had desecrated by converting it into a for[p. 386]tified place, would lend his cordial aid to the Bœotian defence.[626]

Finding his exhortations favorably received, Pagondas conducted the army by a rapid march to a position close to the Athenians. He was anxious to fight them before they should have retreated farther; and, moreover, the day was nearly spent,—it was already late in the afternoon. Having reached a spot where he was only separated from the Athenians by a hill, which prevented either army from seeing the other, he marshalled his troops in the array proper for fighting. The Theban hoplites, with their dependent allies, ranged in a depth of not less than twenty-five shields, occupied the right wing: the hoplites of Haliartus, Korôneia, Kôpæ, and its neighborhood, were in the centre: those of Thespiæ, Tanagra, and Orchomenus, on the left; for Orchomenus, being the second city in Bœotia next to Thebes, obtained a second post of honor at the opposite extremity of the line. Each contingent adopted its own mode of marshalling the hoplites, and its own depth of files: on this point there was no uniformity, a remarkable proof of the prevalence of dissentient custom in Greece, and how much each town, even among confederates, stood apart as a separate unit.[627] Thucydidês specifies only the prodigious depth of the Theban hoplites; respecting the rest, he merely intimates that no common rule was followed. There is another point also which he does not specify, but which, though we learn it only on the inferior authority of Diodorus, appears both true and important. The front ranks of the Theban heavy-armed were filled by three hundred select warriors, of distinguished bodily strength, valor, and discipline, who were accustomed to fight in pairs, each man being attached to his neighbor by a peculiar tie of intimate friendship. These pairs[p. 387] were termed the heniochi and parabatæ, charioteers and companions; a denomination probably handed down from the Homeric times, when the foremost heroes really combated in chariots in front of the common soldiers, but now preserved after it had outlived its appropriate meaning.[628] This band, composed of the finest men in the various palæstræ of Thebes, and enjoying a peculiar training for the defence of the kadmeia, or citadel, was in after-days detached from the front ranks of the phalanx, and organized into a separate regiment under the name of the Sacred Lochus, or Band: we shall see how much it contributed to the short-lived military ascendency of Thebes. On both flanks of this mass of Bœotian hoplites, about seven thousand in total number, were distributed one thousand cavalry, five hundred peltasts, and ten thousand light-armed or unarmed. The language of the historian seems to imply that the light-armed on the Bœotian side were something more effective than the mere multitude who followed the Athenians.

Such was the order in which Pagondas marched his army over the hill, halting them for a moment in front and sight of the Athenians, to see that the ranks were even, before he gave the word for actual charge.[629] Hippokratês, on his side, apprized[p. 388] while still at Delium, that the Bœotians had moved from Tanagra, first sent orders to his army to place themselves in battle array, and presently arrived himself to command them; leaving three hundred cavalry at Delium, partly as garrison, partly for the purpose of acting on the rear of the Bœotians during the battle. The Athenian hoplites were ranged eight deep along the whole line,—with the cavalry, and such of the light-armed as yet remained, placed on each flank. Hippokratês, after arriving on the spot, and surveying the ground occupied, marched along the front of the line briefly encouraging his soldiers; who, as the battle was just on the Orôpian border, might fancy that they were not in their own country, and that they were therefore exposed without necessity. He, too, in a strain similar to that adopted by Pagondas, reminded the Athenians, that on either side of the border they were alike fighting for the defence of Attica, to keep the Bœotians out of it; since the Peloponnesians would never dare to enter the country without the aid of the Bœotian horse.[630] He farther called to their recollection the great name of Athens, and the memorable victory of Myronidês, at Œnophyta, whereby their fathers had acquired possession of all Bœotia. But he had scarcely half-finished his progress along the line, when he was forced to desist by the sound of the Bœotian pæan. Pagondas, after a few additional sentences of encouragement, had given the word: the Bœotian hoplites were seen charging down the hill; and the Athenian hoplites, not less eager, advanced to meet them at a running step.[631]

[p. 389]

At the extremity of the line on each side, the interposition of ravines prevented the actual meeting of the two armies: but throughout all the rest of the line, the clash was formidable and the conduct of both sides resolute. Both armies, maintaining their ranks compact and unbroken, came to the closest quarters; to the contact and pushing of shields against each other.[632] On the left half of the Bœotian line, consisting of hoplites from Thespiæ, Tanagra, and Orchomenus, the Athenians were victorious. The Thespians, who resisted longest, even after their comrades had given way, were surrounded and sustained the most severe loss from the Athenians; who in the ardor of success, while wheeling round to encircle the enemy, became disordered and came into conflict even with their own citizens, not recognizing them at the moment: some loss of life was the consequence.

While the left of the Bœotian line was thus worsted and driven back for protection to the right, the Thebans on that side gained decided advantage. Though the resolution and discipline of the Athenians was noway inferior, yet as soon as the action came to close quarters and to propulsion with shield and spear, the prodigious depth of the Theban column (more than triple of the depth of the Athenians, twenty-five against eight) enabled them to bear down their enemies by mere superiority of weight and mass. Moreover, the Thebans appear to have been superior to the Athenians in gymnastic training and acquired bodily force, as they were inferior both in speech and in intelligence. The chosen Theban warriors in the front rank were especially superior: but apart from such superiority, if we assume simple equality of individual strength and resolution on both sides,[633] it is plain that when[p. 390] the two opposing columns came into conflict, shield against shield, the comparative force of forward pressure would decide the victory. This motive is sufficient to explain the extraordinary depth of the Theban column, which was increased by Epameinondas, half a century afterwards, at the battle of Leuktra, from a depth of twenty-five men to the still more astonishing depth of fifty: nor need we suspect the correctness of the text, with some critics, or suppose, with others, that the great depth of the Theban files arose from the circumstance that the rear ranks were too poor to provide themselves with armor.[634] Even in a depth of eight, which was that of the Athenian column in the present engagement,[635] and seemingly the usual depth in a battle, the spears of the four rear ranks could hardly have protruded sufficiently beyond the first line to do any mischief. The great use of all the ranks behind the first four, was partly to take the place of such of the foremost lines as might be slain, partly, to push forward the lines before them from behind. The greater the depth of the files, the more irresistible did this propelling force become: hence the Thebans at Delium, as well as at Leuktra, found their account in deepening the column to so remarkable a degree, to which we may fairly presume that their hoplites were trained beforehand.

The Thebans on the right thus pushed back[636] the troops on the left of the Athenian line, who retired at first slowly, and for a short space, maintaining their order unbroken, so that the victory of the Athenians on their own right would have restored the battle, had not Pagondas detached from the rear two squad[p. 391]rons of cavalry; who, wheeling unseen round the hill behind, suddenly appeared to the relief of the Bœotian left, and produced upon the Athenians on that side, already deranged in their ranks by the ardor of pursuit, the intimidating effect of a fresh army arriving to reinforce the Bœotians. And thus, even on the right, the victorious portion of their line, the Athenians lost courage and gave way; while on the left, where they were worsted from the beginning, they found themselves pressed harder and harder by the pursuing Thebans: so that in the end, the whole Athenian army was broken, dispersed, and fled. The garrison of Delium, reinforced by three hundred cavalry, whom Hippokratês had left there to assail the rear of the Bœotians during the action, either made no vigorous movement, or were repelled by a Bœotian reserve stationed to watch them. Flight having become general among the Athenians, the different parts of their army took different directions: the right sought refuge at Delium, the centre fled to Orôpus, and the left took a direction towards the high lands of Parnês. The pursuit of the Bœotians was vigorous and destructive: they had an efficient cavalry, strengthened by some Lokrian horse who had arrived even during the action: their peltasts also, and their light-armed, would render valuable service against retreating hoplites.[637] Fortunately for the vanquished, the battle had begun very late in the afternoon, leaving no long period of daylight: this important circumstance saved the Athenian army from almost total destruction.[638] As it was, however, the general Hippokratês, together with nearly one thousand hoplites, and a considerable number of light-armed and attendants, were slain; while the loss of the Bœotians, chiefly on their defeated left wing, was rather under five hundred hoplites. Some prisoners[639] seem to have been made, but we hear little about them. Those who had fled to Delium and Orôpus were conveyed back by sea to Athens.

[p. 392]

The victors retired to Tanagra, after erecting their trophy, burying their own dead, and despoiling those of their enemies. An abundant booty of arms from the stripped warriors, long remained to decorate the temples of Thebes, and the spoil in other ways is said to have been considerable. Pagondas also resolved to lay siege to the newly-established fortress at Delium: but before commencing operations,—which might perhaps prove tedious, since the Athenians could always reinforce the garrison by sea,—he tried another means of attaining the same object. He despatched to the Athenians a herald, who, happening in his way to meet the Athenian herald, coming to ask the ordinary permission for burial of the slain, warned him that no such request would be entertained until the message of the Bœotian general had first been communicated, and thus induced him to come back to the Athenian commanders. The Bœotian herald was instructed to remonstrate against the violation of holy custom committed by the Athenians in seizing and fortifying the temple of Delium; wherein their garrison was now dwelling, performing numerous functions which religion forbade to be done in a sacred place, and using as their common drink the water especially consecrated to sacrificial purposes. The Bœotians therefore solemnly summoned them in the name of Apollo, and the gods inmates along with him, to evacuate the place, carrying away all that belonged to them: and the herald gave it to be understood, that, unless this summons were complied with, no permission would be granted to bury the dead.

Answer was returned by the Athenian herald, who now went to the Bœotian commanders, to the following effect: “The Athenians did not admit that they had hitherto been guilty of any wrong in reference to the temple, and protested that they would persist in respecting it for the future as much as possible. Their object in taking possession of it had been no evil sentiment towards the holy place, but the necessity of avenging the repeated invasions of Attica by the Bœotians. Possession of the territory, according to the received maxims of Greece, always carried along with it possession of temples therein situated, under obligation to fulfil all customary obligations to the resident god, as far as circumstances permitted. It was upon this maxim that the Bœotians had themselves acted when they took possession of[p. 393] their present territory, expelling the prior occupants and appropriating the temples: it was upon the same maxim that the Athenians would act in retaining so much of Bœotia as they had now conquered, and in conquering more of it, if they could. Necessity compelled them to use the consecrated water—a necessity not originating in the ambition of Athens, but in prior Bœotian aggressions upon Attica,—a necessity which they trusted that the gods would pardon, since their altars were allowed as a protection to the involuntary offender, and none but he who sinned without constraint experienced their displeasure. The Bœotians were guilty of far greater impiety in refusing to give back the dead, except upon certain conditions connected with the holy ground, than the Athenians, who merely refused to turn the duty of sepulture into an unseemly bargain. Tell us unconditionally (concluded the Athenian herald) that we may bury our dead under truce, pursuant to the maxims of our forefathers. Do not tell us that we may do so on condition of going out of Bœotia, for we are no longer in Bœotia; we are in our own territory, won by the sword.”

The Bœotian generals dismissed the herald with a reply short and decisive: “If you are in Bœotia, you may take away all that belongs to you, but only on condition of going out of it. If on the other hand you are in your own territory, you can take your own resolution without asking us.”[640]

In this debate, curious as an illustration of Grecian manners and feelings, there seems to have been special pleading and evasion on both sides. The final sentence of the Bœotians was good as a reply to the incidental argument raised by the Athenian herald, who had rested the defence of Athens in regard to the temple of Delium on the allegation that the territory was Athenian, not Bœotian, Athenian by conquest and by the right of the strongest, and had concluded by affirming the same thing about Oropia, the district to which the battle-field belonged. It was only this same argument, of actual superior force, which the Bœotians retorted, when they said: “If the territory to which your application refers is yours by right of conquest (i. e. if you are de facto masters of it, and are strongest within it), you can of course[p. 394] do what you think best in it: you need not ask any truce at our hands; you can bury your dead without a truce.”[641] The Bœotians knew that at this moment the field of battle was under guard by a detachment of their army,[642] and that the Athenians could not obtain the dead bodies without permission; but since the Athenian herald had asserted the reverse as a matter of fact, we can hardly wonder that they resented the production of such an argument; meeting it by a reply sufficiently pertinent in mere diplomatic fencing.

But if the Athenian herald, instead of raising the incidental point of territorial property, combined with an incautious definition of that which constituted territorial property, as a defence against the alleged desecration of the temple of Delium, had confined himself to the main issue, he would have put the Bœotians completely in the wrong. According to principles universally respected in Greece, the victor, if solicited, was held bound to grant to the vanquished a truce for burying his dead; to grant and permit it absolutely, without annexing any conditions. On this, the main point in debate, the Bœotians sinned against the most sacred international law of Greece, when they exacted the evacuation of the temple at Delium as a condition for consenting to permit the burial of the Athenian dead. Ultimately, after they had taken Delium, we shall find that they did grant it unconditionally; and we may doubt whether they would have ever persisted in refusing it, if the Athenian herald had pressed this one important principle separately and exclusively; and if he had not, by an unskilful plea in vindication of the right to occupy[p. 395] and live at Delium, both exasperated their feelings, and furnished them with a collateral issue as a means of evading the main demand.[643]

To judge this curious debate with perfect impartiality, we ought to add, in reference to the conduct of the Athenians in occupying Delium, that for an enemy to make special choice of a temple, as a post to be fortified and occupied, was a proceeding certainly rare, perhaps hardly admissible, in Grecian warfare. Nor does the vindication offered by the Athenian herald meet the real charge preferred. It is one thing for an enemy of superior force to overrun a country, and to appropriate everything within it, sacred as well as profane: it is another thing for a border enemy, not yet in sufficient force for conquering the whole, to convert a temple of convenient site into a regular garrisoned fortress, and make it a base of operations against the neighboring population. On this ground, the Bœotians might reasonably complain of the seizure of Delium: though I apprehend that no impartial interpreter of Grecian international custom would have thought them warranted in attaching it as a condition to their grant of the burial-truce when solicited.

All negotiation being thus broken off, the Bœotian generals prepared to lay siege to Delium, aided by two thousand Corinthian hoplites, together with some Megarians and the late Peloponnesian garrison of Nisæa, who joined after the news of the battle. Though they sent for darters and slingers, probably Œtæans and Ætolians, from the Maliac gulf, yet their direct attacks were at first all repelled by the garrison, aided by an Athenian squadron off the coast, in spite of the hasty and awkward defences by which alone the fort was protected. At length[p. 396] they contrived a singular piece of fire-mechanism, which enabled them to master the place. They first sawed in twain a thick beam, pierced a channel through it long-ways from end to end, coated most part of the channel with iron, and then joined the two halves accurately together. From the farther end of this hollowed beam they suspended by chains a boiler, full of pitch, brimstone, and burning charcoal; lastly, an iron tube projected from the end of the interior channel of the beam, in a direction so as to come near to the boiler. Such was the machine, which, constructed at some distance, was brought on carts and placed close to the wall, near the palisading and the wooden towers. The Bœotians then applied great bellows to their own end of the beam, blowing violently with a close current of air through the interior channel, so as to raise an intense fire in the boiler at the other end. The wooden portions of the wall, soon catching fire, became untenable for the defenders, who escaped in the best way they could, without attempting farther resistance. Two hundred of them were made prisoners and a few slain; but the greater number got safely on shipboard. This recapture of Delium took place on the seventeenth day after the battle, during all which interval the Athenians slain had remained on the field unburied. Presently, however, arrived the Athenian herald to make fresh application for the burial-truce; which was now forthwith granted, and granted unconditionally.[644]

Such was the memorable expedition and battle of Delium, a fatal discouragement to the feeling of confidence and hope which had previously reigned at Athens, besides the painful immediate loss which it inflicted on the city. Among the hoplites who took part in the vigorous charge and pushing of shields, the philosopher Sokratês is to be numbered. His bravery both in the battle and the retreat was much extolled by his friends, and doubtless with good reason: he had before served with credit in the ranks of the hoplites at Potidæa, and he served also at Amphipolis: his patience under hardship and endurance of heat and cold being not less remarkable than his personal bravery. He and his friend Lachês were among those hoplites, who, in the retreat from Delium, instead of flinging away their arms and taking to flight,[p. 397] kept their ranks, their arms, and their firmness of countenance; insomuch that the pursuing cavalry found it dangerous to meddle with them, and turned to an easier prey in the disarmed fugitives. Alkibiadês also served at Delium in the cavalry, and helped to protect Sokratês in the retreat. The latter was thus exposing his life at Delium nearly at the same time when Aristophanês was exposing him to derision in the comedy of the Clouds, as a dreamer alike morally worthless and physically incapable.[645]

Severe as the blow was which the Athenians suffered at Delium, their disasters in Thrace about the same time, or towards the close of the same summer and autumn, were yet more calamitous. I have already mentioned the circumstances which led to the preparation of a Lacedæmonian force intended to act against the Athenians in Thrace, under Brasidas, in concert with the Chalkidians, revolted subjects of Athens, and with Perdikkas of Macedon. Having frustrated the Athenian designs against Megara (as described above),[646] Brasidas completed the levy of his division,—seventeen hundred hoplites, partly Helots, partly Dorian Peloponnesians,—and conducted them, towards the close of the summer, to the Lacedæmonian colony of Herakleia, in the Trachinian territory near the Maliac gulf. To reach Macedonia and Thrace, it was necessary for him to pass through Thessaly, which was no easy task; for the war had now lasted so long that every state in Greece had become mistrustful of the transit of armed foreigners. Moreover, the mass of the Thessalian population were decidedly friendly to Athens, nor had he any sufficient means to force a passage: while, should he wait to apply for formal permission,[p. 398] there was much doubt whether it would be granted, and perfect certainty of such delay and publicity as would put the Athenians on their guard. But though such was the temper of the Thessalian people, yet the Thessalian governments, all oligarchical, sympathized with Lacedæmon; and the federal authority or power of the tagus, which bound together the separate cities, was generally very weak. What was of still greater importance, the Macedonian Perdikkas, as well as the Chalkidians, had in every city powerful guests and partisans, whom they prevailed upon to exert themselves actively in forwarding the passage of the army.[647]

To these men Brasidas sent a message at Pharsalus, as soon as he reached Herakleia; and Nikonidas, of Larissa, with other Thessalian friends of Perdikkas, assembling at Melitæa, in Achaia Phthiôtis, undertook to escort him through Thessaly. By their countenance and support, combined with his own boldness, dexterity, and rapid movements, he was enabled to accomplish the seemingly impossible enterprise of running through the country, not only without the consent but against the feeling of its inhabitants, simply by such celerity as to forestall opposition. After traversing Achaia Phthiôtis, a territory dependent on the Thessalians, Brasidas began his march from Melitæa through Thessaly itself, along with his powerful native guides. Notwithstanding all possible secrecy and celerity, his march became so far divulged, that a body of volunteers from the neighborhood, offended at the proceeding, and unfriendly to Nikonidas, assembled to oppose his progress down the valley of the river Enipeus. Reproaching him with wrongful violation of an independent territory, by the introduction of armed forces without permission from the general government, they forbade him to proceed farther. His only chance of making progress lay in disarming their opposition by fair words. His guides excused themselves by saying that the suddenness of his arrival had imposed upon them as his guests the obligation of conducting him through, without waiting to ask for formal permission: to offend their countrymen, however, was the farthest thing from their thoughts and they would renounce the enterprise if the persons now assembled persisted in their requisition. The same conciliatory[p. 399] tone was adopted by Brasidas himself. “He protested his strong feeling of respect and friendship for Thessaly and its inhabitants: his arms were directed against the Athenians, not against them: nor was he aware of any unfriendly relation subsisting between the Thessalians and Lacedæmonians, such as to exclude either of them from the territory of the other. Against the prohibition of the parties now before him, he could not possibly march forward, nor would he think of attempting it; but he put it to their good feeling whether they ought to prohibit him.” Such conciliatory language was successful in softening the opponents and inducing them to disperse. But so afraid were his guides of renewed opposition in other parts, that they hurried him forward still more rapidly,[648] and he “passed through the country at a running pace without halting.” Leaving Melitæa in the morning, he reached Pharsalus on the same night, encamping on the river Apidanus: thence he proceeded on the next day to Phakium, and on the day afterwards into Perrhæbia,[649] a territory adjoining to and dependent on Thessaly, under the mountain range of Olympus. Here he was in safety, so that his Thessalian guides left him; while the Perrhæbians conducted him over the pass of Olympus—the same over which the army of Xerxes had marched—to Dium, in Macedonia, in the territory of Perdikkas, on the northern edge of the mountain.[650]

[p. 400]

The Athenians were soon apprized of this stolen passage, so ably and rapidly executed, in a manner which few other Greeks, certainly no other Lacedæmonian, would have conceived to be possible. Aware of the new enemy thus brought within reach of their possessions in Thrace, they transmitted orders thither for greater vigilance, and at the same time declared open war against Perdikkas;[651] but unfortunately without sending any efficient force, at the moment when timely defensive intervention was imperiously required. Perdikkas immediately invited Brasidas to join him in the attack of Arrhibæus, prince of the Macedonians, called Lynkestæ, or of Lynkus; a summons which the Spartan could not decline, since Perdikkas provided half of the pay and maintenance of the army,—but which he obeyed with reluctance, anxious as he was to commence operations against the allies of Athens. Such reluctance was still farther strengthened by envoys from the Chalkidians of Thrace, who, as zealous enemies of Athens, joined him forthwith, but discouraged any vigorous efforts to relieve Perdikkas from embarrassing enemies in the interior, in order that the latter might be under more pressing motives to conciliate and assist them. Accordingly Brasidas, though he joined Perdikkas, and marched along with the Macedonian army towards the territory of the Lynkestæ, was not only averse to active military operations, but even entertained with favor propositions from Arrhibæus, wherein the latter expressed his wish to become the ally of Lacedæmon, and offered to refer all his differences with Perdikkas to the arbitration of the Spartan general himself. Communicating these propositions to Perdikkas, Brasidas invited him to listen to an equitable compromise, admitting Arrhibæus into the alliance of Lacedæmon. But Perdikkas indignantly refused: “He had not called in Brasidas as a judge, to decide disputes between him and his enemies, but as an auxiliary, to put them down wherever he might point them out: and he protested against the iniquity of Brasidas in entering into terms with Arrhibæus, while the Lacedæmonian army was half paid and maintained by him,” (Perdikkas.[652]) Notwithstanding such remonstrances, and even a hostile protest, Brasidas persisted in his intended conference with Arrhi[p. 401]bæus, and was so far satisfied with the propositions made that he withdrew his troops without marching over the pass into Lynkus. Too feeble to act alone, Perdikkas loudly complained, and contracted his allowance for the future so as to provide for only one-third of the army of Brasidas instead of one-half.

To this inconvenience, however, Brasidas submitted, in haste to begin his march into Chalkidikê, and his operations jointly with the Chalkidians, for seducing or subduing the subject-allies of Athens. His first operation was against Akanthus, on the isthmus of the peninsula of Athos, the territory of which he invaded a little before the vintage, probably about the middle of September; when the grapes were ripe, but still out, and the whole crop of course exposed to ruin at the hands of an enemy superior in force: so important was it to Brasidas to have escaped the necessity of wasting another month in conquering the Lynkestæ. There was within the town of Akanthus a party in concert with the Chalkidians, anxious to admit him, and to revolt openly from Athens. But the mass of the citizens were averse to this step: and it was only by dwelling on the terrible loss from exposure of the crop without, that the anti-Athenian party could persuade them even to grant the request of Brasidas to be admitted singly,[653] so as to explain his purposes formally before the public assembly, which would take its own decision afterwards. “For a Lacedæmonian (says Thucydidês) he was no mean speaker:” and if he is to have credit for that which we find written in Thucydidês, such an epithet would be less than his desert. Doubtless, however, the substance of the speech is genuine: and it is one of the most interesting in Grecian history; partly as a manifesto of professed Lacedæmonian policy, partly because it had a great practical effect in determining, on an occasion of paramount importance, a multitude which, though unfavorably inclined to him, was not beyond the reach of argu[p. 402]ment. I give the chief points of the speech, without binding myself to the words.

“Myself and my soldiers have been sent, Akanthians, to realize the purpose which we proclaimed on beginning the war; that we took arms to liberate Greece from the Athenians. Let no man blame us for having been long in coming, or for the mistake which we made at the outset in supposing that we should quickly put down the Athenians by operations against Attica, without exposing you to any risk. Enough, that we are now here on the first opportunity, resolved to put them down if you will lend us your aid. To find myself shut out of your town, nay, to find that I am not heartily welcomed, astonishes me. We, Lacedæmonians, undertook this long and perilous march, in the belief that we were coming to friends eagerly expecting us; and it would indeed be terrible if you should now disappoint us, and stand out against your own freedom as well as that of other Greeks. Your example, standing high as you do both for prudence and power, will fatally keep back other Greeks, and make them suspect that I am wanting either in power to protect them against Athens, or in honest purpose. Now, in regard to power, my own present army was one which the Athenians, though superior in number, were afraid to fight near Nisæa; nor are they at all likely to send an equal force hither against me by sea. And in regard to my purpose, it is not one of mischief, but of liberation, the Lacedæmonian authorities having pledged themselves to me by the most solemn oaths, that every city which joins me shall retain its autonomy. You have therefore the best assurance both as to my purposes and as to my power; still less need you apprehend that I am come with factious designs, to serve the views of any particular men among you, and to remodel your established constitution to the disadvantage either of the many or of the few. That would be worse than foreign subjugation, so that we Lacedæmonians should be taking all this trouble to earn hatred instead of gratitude. We should play the part of unworthy traitors, worse even than that high-handed oppression of which we accuse the Athenians: we should at once violate our oaths and sin against our strongest political interests. Perhaps you may say, that though you wish me well, you desire for your parts to be let alone, and to stand aloof from[p. 403] a dangerous struggle. You will tell me to carry my propositions elsewhere, to those who can safely embrace them, but not to thrust my alliance upon any people against their own will. If this should be your language, I shall first call your local gods and heroes to witness that I have come to you with a mission of good, and have employed persuasion in vain; I shall then proceed to ravage your territory and extort your consent, thinking myself justly entitled to do so, on two grounds. First, that the Lacedæmonians may not sustain actual damage from these good wishes which you profess towards me without actually joining,—damage in the shape of that tribute which you annually send to Athens. Next, that the Greeks generally may not be prevented by you from becoming free. It is only on the ground of common good, that we Lacedæmonians can justify ourselves for liberating any city against its own will; but as we are conscious of desiring only extinction of the empire of others, not acquisition of empire for ourselves, we should fail in our duty if we suffered you to obstruct that liberation which we are now carrying to all. Consider well my words, then: take to yourselves the glory of beginning the era of emancipation for Greece, save your own properties from damage, and attach an ever-honorable name to the community of Akanthus.”[654]

Nothing could be more plausible or judicious than this language of Brasidas to the Akanthians, nor had they any means of detecting the falsity of the assertion, which he afterwards repeated in other places besides,[655] that he had braved the forces of Athens at Nisæa with the same army as that now on the outside of the walls. Perhaps the simplicity of his speech and manner may even have lent strength to his assurances. As soon as he had retired, the subject was largely discussed in the assembly, with much difference of opinion among the speakers, and perfect freedom on both sides: and the decision, not called for until after a long debate, was determined partly by the fair promises of Brasidas, partly by the certain loss which the ruin of the vine-crop would entail. The votes of the citizens present being taken secretly, a majority resolved to accede to the proposi[p. 404]tions of Brasidas and revolt from Athens.[656] Exacting the renewal of his pledge and that of the Lacedæmonian authorities, for the preservation of full autonomy to every city which should join him, they received his army into the town. The neighboring city of Stageirus, a colony of Andros, as Akanthus also was, soon followed the example.[657]

There are few acts in history wherein Grecian political reason and morality appear to greater advantage than in this proceeding of the Akanthians. The habit of fair, free, and pacific discussion; the established respect to the vote of the majority; the care to protect individual independence of judgment by secret suffrage; the deliberate estimate of reasons on both sides by each individual citizen, all these main laws and conditions of healthy political action appear as a part of the confirmed character of the Akanthians. We shall not find Brasidas entering other towns in a way so creditable or so harmonious.

But there is another inference which the scene just described irresistibly suggests. It affords the clearest proof that the Akanthians had little to complain of as subject-allies of Athens, and that they would have continued in that capacity, if left to their own choice, without the fear of having their crop destroyed. Such is the pronounced feeling of the mass of the citizens: the party who desire otherwise are in a decided minority. It is only the combined effect of severe impending loss, and of tempting assurances held out by the worthiest representative whom Sparta ever sent out, which induces them to revolt from Athens: nor even then is the resolution taken without long opposition, and a large dissentient minority, in a case where secret suffrage insured free and genuine expression of preference from every individual. Now, it is impossible that the scene in Akanthus at this critical moment could have been of such a character, had the empire of Athens been practically odious and burdensome to the subject-allies, as it is commonly depicted. Had such been the fact; had the Akanthians felt that the imperial ascendency of[p. 405] Athens oppressed them with hardship or humiliation, from which their neighbors, the revolted Chalkidians in Olynthus and elsewhere, were exempt, they would have hailed the advent of Brasidas with that cordiality which he himself expected and was surprised not to find. The sense of present grievance, always acute and often excessive, would have stood out as their prominent impulse: nor would they have needed either intimidation or cajolery to induce them to throw open their gates to the liberator, who, in his speech within the town, finds no actual suffering to appeal to, but is obliged to gain over an audience evidently unwilling by alternate threats and promises.

As in Akanthus, so in most of the other Thracian subjects of Athens, the bulk of the citizens, though strongly solicited by the Chalkidians, manifest no spontaneous disposition to revolt from Athens. We shall find the party who introduce Brasidas to be a conspiring minority, who not only do not consult the majority beforehand, but act in such a manner as to leave no free option to the majority afterwards, whether they will ratify or reject: bring in a foreign force to overawe them and compromise them without their own consent in hostility against Athens. Now that which makes the events of Akanthus so important as an evidence, is, that the majority is not thus entrapped and compressed, but pronounces its judgment freely after ample discussion: the grounds of that judgment are clearly set forth to us, so as to show that hatred of Athens, if even it exists at all, is in no way a strong or determining feeling. Had there existed any such strong feeling among the subject-allies of Athens in the Chalkidic peninsula, there was no Athenian force now present to hinder them all from opening their gates to the liberator Brasidas by spontaneous majorities, as he himself, encouraged by the sanguine promises of the Chalkidians, evidently expected that they would do. But nothing of this kind happened.

That which I before remarked in recounting the revolt of Mitylênê, a privileged ally of Athens, is now confirmed in the revolt of Akanthus, a tributary and subject-ally. The circumstances of both prove that imperial Athens inspired no hatred, and occasioned no painful grievance, to the population of her subject-cities generally: the movements against her arose from party-minorities, of the same character as that Platæan[p. 406] party which introduced the Theban assailants into Platæa at the commencement of the Peloponnesian war. There are of course differences of sentiment between one town and another; but the conduct of the towns generally demonstrates that the Athenian empire was not felt by them to be a scheme of plunder and oppression, as Mr. Mitford and others would have us believe. It is indeed true that Athens managed her empire with reference to her own feelings and interests, and that her hold was rather upon the prudence than upon the affection of her allies, except in so far as those among them who were democratically governed sympathized with her democracy: it is also true that restrictions in any form on the autonomy of each separate city were offensive to the political instincts of the Greeks: moreover, Athens took less and less pains to disguise or soften the real character of her empire, as one resting simply on established fact and superior force. But this is a different thing from the endurance of practical hardship and oppression, which, had it been real, would have inspired strong positive hatred among the subject-allies, such as Brasidas expected to find universal in Thrace, but did not really find, in spite of the easy opening which his presence afforded.

The acquisition of Akanthus and Stageirus enabled Brasidas in no very long time to extend his conquests; to enter Argilus, and from thence to make the capital acquisition of Amphipolis.

Argilus was situated between Stageirus and the river Strymon, along the western bank of which river its territory extended. Along the eastern bank of the same river,—south of the lake which it forms under the name of Kerkinitis, and north of the town of Eion at its mouth, was situated the town and territory of Amphipolis, communicating with the lands of Argilus by the important bridge there situated. The Argilians were colonists from Andros, like Akanthus and Stageirus, and the adhesion of those two cities to Brasidas gave him opportunity to cultivate intelligences in Argilus, wherein there had existed a standing discontent against Athens, ever since the foundation of the neighboring city of Amphipolis.[658] The latter city had been established[p. 407] by the Athenian Agnon, at the head of a numerous body of colonists, on a spot belonging to the Edonian Thracians, called Ennea Hodoi, or Nine Ways, about five years prior to the commencement of the war (B.C. 437), after two previous attempts to colonize it,—one by Histiæus and Aristagoras, at the period of the Ionic revolt, and a second by the Athenians about 465 B.C., both of which lamentably failed. So valuable, however, was the site, from its vicinity to the gold and silver mines near Mount Pangæus and to large forests of ship-timber, as well as for command of the Strymon, and for commerce with the interior of Thrace and Macedonia, that the Athenians had sent a second expedition under Agnon, who founded the city and gave it the name of Amphipolis. The resident settlers there, however, were only in small proportion Athenian citizens; the rest of mixed origin, some of them Argilian, a considerable number Chalkidians. The Athenian general Euklês was governor in the town, though seemingly with no paid force under his command.

Among these mixed inhabitants a conspiracy was organized to betray the town to Brasidas, the inhabitants of Argilus as well as the Chalkidians each of them tampering with those of the same race who resided in Amphipolis; and the influence of Perdikkas, not inconsiderable, in consequence of the commerce of the place with Macedonia, was employed to increase the number of partisans. Of all the instigators, however, the most strenuous as well as the most useful were the inhabitants of Argilus. Amphipolis, together with the Athenians as its founders, had been odious to them from its commencement; and its foundation had doubtless abridged their commerce and importance as masters of the lower course of the Strymon. They had been long laying snares against the city, and the arrival of Brasidas now presented to them an unexpected chance of success. It was they who enabled him to accomplish the surprise, deferring proclamation of their own defection from Athens until they could make it subservient to his conquest of Amphipolis.

Starting with his army from Arnê in the Chalkidic peninsula, Brasidas arrived in the afternoon at Aulon and Bromiskus, near the channel whereby the lake Bolbê is connected with the sea: from hence, after his men had supped, he began his night-march to Amphipolis, on a cold and snowy night of November, or[p. 408] the beginning of December. He reached Argilus in the middle of the night, where the leaders at once admitted him, proclaiming their revolt from Athens. With their aid and guidance, he then hastened forward without delay to the bridge across the Strymon, which he reached before break of day.[659] It was guarded only by a feeble piquet,—the town of Amphipolis itself being situated on the hill at some little distance higher up the river;[660] so that Brasidas, preceded by the Argilian conspirators, surprised and overpowered the guard without difficulty. Thus master of this important communication, he crossed with his army forthwith into the territory of Amphipolis, where his arrival spread the utmost dismay and terror. The governor Euklês, the magistrates, and the citizens, were all found wholly unprepared: the lands belonging to the city were occupied by residents, with their families and property around them, calculating upon undisturbed security, as if there had been no enemy within reach. Such of these as were close to the city succeeded in running thither with their families, though leaving their property exposed,—but the more distant became in person as well as in property at the mercy of the invader. Even within the town, filled with the[p. 409] friends and relatives of these victims without, indescribable confusion reigned, of which the conspirators within tried to avail themselves in order to get the gates thrown open. And so complete was the disorganization, that if Brasidas had marched up without delay to the gates and assaulted the town, many persons supposed that he would have carried it at once. Such a risk, however, was too great even for his boldness, the rather as repulse would have been probably his ruin. Moreover, confiding in the assurances of the conspirators that the gates would be thrown open, he thought it safer to seize as many persons as he could from the out-citizens, as a means of working upon the sentiments of those within the walls; lastly, this process of seizure and plunder was probably more to the taste of his own soldiers, and could not well be hindered.

But he waited in vain for the opening of the gates. The conspirators in the city, in spite of the complete success of their surprise and the universal dismay around them, found themselves unable to carry the majority along with them. As in Akanthus, so in Amphipolis, those who really hated Athens and wished to revolt were only a party-minority; the greater number of citizens, at this critical moment, stood by Euklês and the few native Athenians around him in resolving upon defence, and in sending off an express to Thucydidês (the historian) at Thasos, the colleague of Euklês, as general in the region of Thrace, for immediate aid. This step, of course immediately communicated to Brasidas from within, determined him to make every effort for enticing the Amphipolitans to surrender before the reinforcement should arrive; the rather, as he was apprized that Thucydidês, being a large proprietor and worker of gold mines in the neighboring region, possessed extensive personal influence among the Thracian tribes, and would be able to bring them together for the relief of the place, in conjunction with his own Athenian squadron. He therefore sent in propositions for surrender on the most favorable terms, guaranteeing to every citizen who chose to remain, Amphipolitan or even Athenian, continued residence with undisturbed property and equal political rights, and granting to every one who chose to depart, five days for the purpose of carrying away his property.

[p. 410]

Such easy conditions, when made known in the city, produced presently a sensible change of opinion among the citizens, proving acceptable both to Athenians and Amphipolitans, though on different grounds.[661] The properties of the citizens without, as well as many of their relatives, were all in the hands of Brasidas: no one counted upon the speedy arrival of reinforcement; and even if it did arrive, the city might be preserved, but the citizens without would still be either slain or made captive: a murderous battle would ensue, and perhaps, after all, Brasidas, assisted by the party within, might prove victorious. The Athenian citizens in Amphipolis, knowing themselves to be exposed to peculiar danger, were perfectly well pleased with his offer, as extricating them from a critical position and procuring for them the means of escape, with comparatively little loss; while the non-Athenian citizens, partakers in the same relief from peril, felt little reluctance in accepting a capitulation which preserved both their rights and their properties inviolate, and merely severed them from Athens, towards which city they felt, not hatred, but indifference. Above all, the friends and relatives of the citizens exposed in the out-region were strenuous in urging on the capitulation, so that the conspirators soon became bold enough to proclaim themselves openly, insisting upon the moderation of Brasidas and the prudence of admitting him. Euklês found that the tone of opinion, even among his own Athenians, was gradually turned against him, nor could he prevent the acceptance of the terms, and the admission of the enemy into the city, on that same day.

No such resolution would have been adopted, had the citizens been aware how near at hand Thucydidês and his forces were. The message despatched early in the morning from Amphipolis found him at Thasos with seven triremes; with which he instantly put to sea, so as to reach Eion at the mouth of the Strymon, within three miles of Amphipolis, on the same evening.[p. 411] He hoped to be in time for saving Amphipolis, but the place had surrendered a few hours before. He arrived, indeed, only just in time to preserve Eion; for parties in that town were already beginning to concert the admission of Brasidas, who would probably have entered it at daybreak the next morning. Thucydidês, putting the place in a condition of defence, successfully repelled an attack which Brasidas made both by land and by boats on the river. He at the same time received and provided for the Athenian citizens who were retiring from Amphipolis.[662]

The capture of this city, perhaps the most important of all the foreign possessions of Athens, and the opening of the bridge over the Strymon, by which even all her eastern allies became approachable by land, occasioned prodigious emotion throughout all the Grecian world. The dismay felt at Athens[663] was greater than had been ever before experienced: hope and joy prevailed among her enemies, and excitement and new aspirations became widely spread among her subject-allies. The bloody defeat at Delium, and the unexpected conquests of Brasidas, now again lowered the prestige of Athenian success, sixteen months after it had been so powerfully exalted by the capture of Sphakteria. The loss of reputation which Sparta had then incurred, was now compensated by a reaction against the unfounded terrors since conceived about the probable career of her enemy. It was not merely the loss of Amphipolis, serious as that was, which distressed the Athenians, but also their insecurity respecting the maintenance of their whole empire: they knew not which of their subject-allies might next revolt, in contemplation of aid from Brasidas, facilitated by the newly-acquired Strymonian bridge. And as the proceedings of[p. 412] that general counted in part to the credit of his country, it was believed that Sparta, now for the first time shaking off her languor,[664] had taken to herself the rapidity and enterprise once regarded as the exclusive characteristic of Athens. But besides all these chances of evil to the Athenians, there was another yet more threatening, the personal ascendency and position of Brasidas himself. It was not merely the boldness, the fertility of aggressive resource, the quick movements, the power of stimulating the minds of soldiers, which lent efficiency to that general; but also his incorruptible probity, his good faith, his moderation, his abstinence from party-cruelty or jobbing, and from all intermeddling with the internal constitutions of the different cities, in strict adherence to that manifesto whereby Sparta had proclaimed herself the liberator of Greece. Such talents and such official worth had never before been seen combined. Set off as they were by the full brilliancy of successes such as were deemed incredible before they actually occurred, they inspired a degree of confidence and turned a tide of opinion towards this eminent man which rendered him personally one of the first powers in Greece. Numerous solicitations were transmitted to him at Amphipolis from parties among the subject-allies of Athens, in their present temper of large hopes from him and diminished fear of the Athenians: the anti-Athenian party in each was impatient to revolt, the rest of the population less restrained by fear.[665]

Of those who indulged in these sanguine calculations, many had yet to learn by painful experience that Athens was still but little abated in power: but her inaction during this important autumn had been such as may well explain their mistake. It might have been anticipated that, on hearing the alarming news of the junction of Brasidas with the Chalkidians, and Perdikkas so close upon their dependent allies, they would forthwith have sent a competent force to Thrace, which, if despatched at that time, would probably have obviated all the subsequent disasters.[p. 413] So they would have acted at any other time, and perhaps even then, if Periklês had been alive. But the news arrived just at the period when Athens was engaged in the expedition against Bœotia, which ended very shortly in the ruinous defeat of Delium. Under the discouragement arising from the death of the stratêgus, Hippokratês, and one thousand citizens, the idea of a fresh expedition to Thrace would probably have been intolerable to Athenian hoplites: the hardships of a winter service in Thrace, as experienced a few years before in the blockade of Potidæa, would probably also aggravate their reluctance. In Grecian history, we must steadfastly keep in mind that we are reading about citizen soldiers, not about professional soldiers; and that the temper of the time, whether of confidence or dismay, modifies to an unspeakable degree all the calculations of military and political prudence. Even after the rapid successes of Brasidas, not merely at Akanthus and Stageirus, but even at Amphipolis, they sent only a few inadequate guards[666] to the points most threatened, thus leaving to their enterprising enemy the whole remaining winter for his operations, without hindrance. Without depreciating the merits of Brasidas, we may see that his extraordinary success was in great part owing to the no less extraordinary depression which at that time pervaded the Athenian public: a feeling encouraged by Nikias and other leading men of the same party, who were building upon it in order to get the Lacedæmonian proposals for peace accepted.

But while we thus notice the short-comings of Athens, in not sending timely forces against Brasidas, we must at the same time admit, that the most serious and irreparable loss which she sustained, that of Amphipolis, was the fault of her officers more than her own. Euklês, and the historian Thucydidês, the two joint Athenian commanders in Thrace, to whom she had confided the defence of that important town, had means amply sufficient to place it beyond all risk of capture, if they had employed the most ordinary vigilance and precaution beforehand. That Thucydidês became an exile immediately after this event, and[p. 414] remained so for twenty years, is certain from his own statement: and we hear, upon what in this case is quite sufficient authority, that the Athenians condemned him, probably Euklês also, to banishment, on the proposition of Kleon.[667]

In considering this sentence, historians[668] commonly treat Thucydidês as an innocent man, and find nothing to condemn except the calumnies of the demagogue along with the injustice of the people. But this view of the case cannot be sustained, when we bring together all the facts even as indicated by Thucydidês himself. At the moment when Brasidas surprised Amphipolis, Thucydidês was at Thasos; and the event is always discussed as if he was there by necessity or duty; as if Thasos was his special mission. Now we know from his own statement that his command was not special or confined to Thasos: he was sent as joint commander along with Euklês generally to Thrace, and[p. 415] especially to Amphipolis.[669] Both of them were jointly and severally responsible for the proper defence of Amphipolis, with the Athenian empire and interests in that quarter such nomination of two or more officers, coördinate and jointly responsible, being the usual habit of Athens, wherever the scale or the area of military operations was considerable, instead of naming one supreme responsible commander, with subordinate officers acting under him and responsible to him. If, then, Thucydidês “was stationed at Thasos,” to use the phrase of Dr. Thirlwall, this was because he chose to station himself there, in the exercise of his own discretion.

Accordingly, the question which we have to put is, not whether Thucydidês did all that could be done, after he received the alarming express at Thasos, which is the part of the case that he sets prominently before us, but whether he and Euklês jointly took the best general measures for the security of the Athenian empire in Thrace; especially for Amphipolis, the first jewel of her empire. They suffer Athens to be robbed of that jewel, and how? Had they a difficult position to defend? Were they[p. 416] overwhelmed by a superior force? Were they distracted by simultaneous revolts in different places, or assailed by enemies unknown or unforeseen? Not one of these grounds for acquittal can be pleaded. First, their position was of all others the most defensible: they had only to keep the bridge over the Strymon adequately watched and guarded, or to retain the Athenian squadron at Eion, and Amphipolis was safe. Either one or the other of these precautions would have sufficed; both together would have sufficed so amply, as probably to prevent the scheme of attack from being formed. Next, the force under Brasidas was in noway superior, not even adequate to the capture of the inferior place Eion, when properly guarded, much less to that of Amphipolis. Lastly, there were no simultaneous revolts to distract attention, nor unknown enemies to confound a well-laid scheme of defence. There was but one enemy, in one quarter, having one road by which to approach; an enemy of surpassing merit, indeed, and eminently dangerous to Athens, but without any chance of success except from the omissions of the Athenian officers.

Now Thucydidês and Euklês both knew that Brasidas had prevailed upon Akanthus and Stageirus to revolt, and that too in such a way as to extend his own personal influence materially: they knew that the population of Argilus was of Andrian origin,[670] like that of Akanthus and Stageirus, and therefore peculiarly likely to be tempted by the example of those two towns. Lastly, they knew, and Thucydidês himself tells us,[671] that this Argilian population—whose territory bordered on the Strymon and the western foot of the bridge, and who had many connections in Amphipolis—had been long disaffected to Athens, and especially to the Athenian possession of that city. Yet, having such foreknowledge, ample warning for the necessity of a vigilant defence, Thucydidês and Euklês withdraw, or omit, both the two precau[p. 417]tions upon which the security of Amphipolis rested; precautions both of them obvious, either of them sufficient. The one leaves the bridge under a feeble guard,[672] and is caught so unprepared everywhere, that one might suppose Athens to be in profound peace; the other is found with his squadron, not at Eion, but at Thasos; an island out of all possible danger, either from Brasidas, who had no ships, or any other enemy. The arrival of Brasidas comes on both of them like a clap of thunder. Nothing more is required than this plain fact, under the circumstances, to prove their improvidence as commanders.

The presence of Thucydidês on the station of Thrace was important to Athens, partly because he possessed valuable family connections, mining property, and commanding influence among the continental population round Amphipolis.[673] This was one main reason why he was named; the Athenian people confiding partly in his private influence, over and above the public force under his command, and looking to him, even more than to his colleague Euklês, for the continued security of the town: instead of which they find that not even their own squadron under him is at hand near the vulnerable point, at the moment when the enemy comes. Of the two, perhaps, the conduct of Euklês admits of conceivable explanation more easily than that of Thucydidês. For it seems that Euklês had no paid force in Amphipolis; only the citizen hoplites, partly Athenian, partly of other lineage. Doubtless, these men found it irksome to keep guard through the winter on the Strymonian bridge: and Euklês might fancy that, by enforcing a large perpetual guard, he[p. 418] ran the risk of making Athens unpopular: moreover, strict constancy of watch, night after night, when no actual danger comes, with an unpaid citizen force, is not easy to maintain. This is an insufficient excuse, but it is better than anything which can be offered on behalf of Thucydidês; who had with him a paid Athenian force, and might just as well have kept it at Eion as at Thasos. We may be sure that the absence of Thucydidês with his fleet, at Thasos, was one essential condition in the plot laid by Brasidas with the Argilians.

To say, with Dr. Thirlwall, that “human prudence and activity could not have accomplished more than Thucydidês did, under the same circumstances,” is true as matter of fact, and creditable as far as it goes. But it is wholly inadmissible as a justification, and meets only one part of the case. An officer in command is responsible, not only for doing most “under the circumstances,” but also for the circumstances themselves, in so far as they are under his control; and nothing is more under his control than the position which he chooses to occupy. If the emperor Napoleon, or the duke of Wellington, had lost, by surprise of an enemy not very numerous, a post of supreme importance which they thought adequately protected, would they be satisfied to hear from a responsible officer in command: “Having no idea that the enemy would attempt any surprise, I thought that I might keep my force half a day’s journey off from the post exposed, at another post which it was physically impossible for the enemy to reach; but, the moment I was informed that the surprise had occurred, I hastened to the scene, did all that human prudence and activity could do to repel the enemy; and though I found that he had already mastered the capital post of all, yet I beat him back from a second post which he was on the point of mastering also?” Does any one imagine that these illustrious chiefs, smarting under the loss of an inestimable position which alters the whole prospects of a campaign, would be satisfied with such a report, and would dismiss the officer with praises for his vigor and bravery, “under the circumstances?” They would most assuredly reply, that he had done right in coming back, that his conduct after coming back had been that of a brave man, and that there was no impeachment on his courage. But they would at the same time add, that his want of judgment and[p. 419] foresight, in omitting to place the valuable position really exposed under sufficient guard beforehand, and leaving it thus open to the enemy, while he himself was absent in another place which was out of danger, and his easy faith that there would be no dangerous surprise, at a time when the character of the enemy’s officer, as well as the disaffection of the neighbors (Argilus), plainly indicated that there would be, if the least opening were afforded, that these were defects meriting serious reproof, and disqualifying him from any future command of trust and responsibility. Nor can we doubt that the whole feeling of the respective armies, who would have to pay with their best blood the unhappy miscalculation of this officer, would go along with such a sentence; without at all suspecting themselves to be guilty of injustice, or of “directing the irritation produced by the loss against an innocent object.”

The vehement leather-seller in the Pnyx, at Athens, when he brought forward what are called “his calumnies” against Thucydidês and Euklês, as having caused, through culpable omission, a fatal and irreparable loss to their country, might perhaps state his case with greater loudness and acrimony; but it may be doubted whether he would say anything more really galling than would be contained in the dignified rebuke of an esteemed modern general to a subordinate officer under similar circumstances. In my judgment, not only the accusation against these two officers—I assume Euklês to have been included—was called for on the fairest presumptive grounds, which would be sufficient as a justification of the leather-sell Kleon, but the positive verdict of guilty against them was fully merited. Whether the banishment inflicted was a greater penalty than the case warranted, I will not take upon me to pronounce. Every age has its own standard of feeling for measuring what is a proper intensity of punishment: penalties which our grandfathers thought right and meet, would in the present day appear intolerably rigorous. But when I consider the immense value of Amphipolis to Athens, combined with the conduct whereby it was lost, I cannot think that there was a single Athenian, or a single Greek, who would deem the penalty of banishment too severe.

It is painful to find such strong grounds of official censure[p. 420] against a man who, as an historian, has earned the lasting admiration of posterity,—my own, among the first and warmest. But in criticizing the conduct of Thucydidês the officer, we are bound in common justice to forget Thucydidês the historian. He was not known in the latter character, at the time when this sentence was passed: perhaps he never would have been so known, like the Neapolitan historian Colletta, if exile had not thrown him out of the active duties and hopes of a citizen. It may be doubted whether he ever went home from Eion to encounter the grief, wrath, and alarm, so strongly felt at Athens after the loss of Amphipolis. Condemned, either with or without appearance, he remained in banishment for twenty years;[674] nor did he return to Athens until after the conclusion of the Peloponnesian war. Of this long exile, much is said to have been spent on his property in Thrace: yet he also visited most parts of Greece, enemies of Athens as well as neutral states. However much we may deplore such a misfortune on his account, mankind in general have, and ever will have, the strongest reason to rejoice at it. To this compulsory leisure we owe the completion, or rather the near approach to completion, of his history: nor is it less certain that the opportunities which an exile enjoyed of personally consulting neutrals and enemies, contributed much to form that impartial, comprehensive, Pan-Hellenic spirit, which reigns generally throughout his immortal work.

Meanwhile, Brasidas, installed in Amphipolis about the beginning of December, 424 B.C., employed his increased power only the more vigorously against Athens. His first care was to reconstitute Amphipolis; a task wherein the Macedonian Perdikkas, whose intrigues had contributed to the capture, came and personally assisted. That city was going through a partial secession and renovation of inhabitants, and was now moreover cut off from the port of Eion and the mouth of the river, which remained in the hands of the Athenians. Many new arrangements must have been required, as well for its internal polity as for its external defence. Brasidas took measures for building ships of war, in the lake above the city, in order to force the lower part of the river:[675] but his most important step was to construct a[p. 421] palisade work,[676] connecting the walls of the city with the bridge. He thus made himself permanently master of the crossing of the Strymon, so as to shut the door by which he himself had entered, and at the same time to keep an easy communication with Argilus and the western bank of the Strymon. He also made some acquisitions on the eastern side of the river. Pittakus, prince of the neighboring Edonian-Thracian township of Myrkinus, had been recently assassinated by his wife Brauro, and by some personal enemies: he had probably been the ally of Athens, and his assassins now sought to strengthen themselves by courting the alliance of the new conqueror of Amphipolis. The Thasian continental colonies of Galêpsus and Œsymê also declared their adhesion to him.

While he sent to Lacedæmon, communicating his excellent position as well as his large hopes, he at the same time, without waiting for the answer, began acting for himself, with all the allies whom he could get together. He marched first against the peninsula called Aktê,—the narrow tongue of land which stretches out from the neighborhood of Akanthus to the mighty headland called Mount Athos,—near thirty miles long, and between four and five miles for the most part in breadth.[677] The long, rugged, woody ridge,—covering this peninsula so as to leave but narrow spaces for dwelling or cultivation, or feeding of cattle,—was at this time occupied by many distinct petty communities, some of them divided in race and language. Sanê, a colony from Andros, was situated in the interior gulf, called the Singitic gulf, between Athos and the Sithonian peninsula, near the Xerxeian canal: the rest of the Aktê was distributed among Bisaltians, Krestônians, and Edonians, all fractions of the Thracian name; Pelasgians, or Tyrrhenians, of the race which had once occupied Lemnos and Imbros, and some Chalkidians. Some of these little communities spoke habitually two languages. Thyssus, Kleône, Olophyxus, and others, all submitted on the arrival[p. 422] of Brasidas; but Sanê and Dion held out, nor could he bring them to terms even by ravaging their territory.

He next marched into the Sithonian peninsula, to attack Torônê, situated near the southern extremity of that peninsula, opposite to Cape Kanastræum, the extreme headland of the peninsula of Pallênê.[678]

Torônê was inhabited by a Chalkidic population, but had not partaken in the revolt of the neighboring Chalkidians against Athens. A small Athenian garrison had been sent there, probably since the recent dangers, and were now defending it, as well as repairing the town-wall in various parts where it had been so neglected as to crumble down. They occupied as a sort of distinct citadel the outlying cape called Lêkythus, joining by a narrow isthmus the hill on which the city stood, and forming a port wherein lay two Athenian triremes as guard-ships. A small party in Torônê, without privity[679] or even suspicion of the rest, entered into correspondence with Brasidas, and engaged to provide for him the means of entering and mastering the town. Accordingly, he advanced by a night-march to the temple of the Dioskuri, Kastor and Pollux, within about a quarter of a mile of the town-gates, which he reached a little before daybreak, sending forward one hundred peltasts to be still nearer, and to rush upon the gate at the instant when signal was made from within. His Torônæan partisans, some of whom were already concealed on the spot, awaiting his arrival, made their final arrangements with him, and then returned into the town, conducting with them seven determined men from his army, armed only with daggers, and having Lysistratus of Olynthus as their chief: twenty men had been originally named for this service, but the danger appeared so extreme, that only seven of them were bold enough to go. This forlorn hope, enabled to creep in, through a small aperture in the wall towards the sea, were conducted silently up to the topmost watch-tower on the city hill, where they surprised and slew the guards, and set open a neighboring postern[p. 423] gate, looking towards Cape Kanastræum, as well as the great gate leading towards the agora. They then brought in the peltasts from without, who, impatient with the delay, had gradually stolen closely under the walls: some of these peltasts kept possession of the great gate, others were led round to the postern at the top, while the fire-signal was forthwith lighted to invite Brasidas himself. He and his men hastened forward towards the city at their utmost speed and with loud shouts, a terror-striking notice of his presence to the unprepared citizens. Admission was easy through the open gates, but some also clambered up by means of beams or a sort of scaffolding, which was lying close to the wall as a help to the workmen repairing it. And while the assailants were thus active in every direction, Brasidas himself conducted a portion of them, to assure himself of the high and commanding parts of the city.

So completely were the Torônæans surprised and thunderstruck, that hardly any attempt was made to resist. Even the fifty Athenian hoplites who occupied the agora, being found still asleep, were partly slain, and partly compelled to seek refuge in the separately-garrisoned cape of Lêkythus, whither they were followed by a portion of the Torônæan population; some from attachment to Athens, others from sheer terror. To these fugitives Brasidas addressed a proclamation, inviting them to return, and promising them perfect security, for person, property, and political rights; while at the same time he sent a herald with a formal summons to the Athenians in Lêkythus, requiring them to quit the place as belonging to the Chalkidians, but permitting them to carry away their property. They refused to evacuate the place, but solicited a truce of one day for the purpose of burying their slain. Brasidas granted them two days, which were employed both by them and by him in preparations for the defence and attack of Lêkythus; each party fortifying the houses on or near the connecting isthmus.

In the mean time he convened a general assembly of the Torônæan population, whom he addressed in the same conciliating and equitable language as he had employed elsewhere. “He had not come to harm either the city, or any individual citizen. Those who had let him in, ought not to be regarded as bad men or traitors, for they had acted with a view to the benefit and the[p. 424] liberation of their city, not in order to enslave it, or to acquire profit for themselves. On the other hand, he did not think the worse of those who had gone over to Lêkythus, for their liking towards Athens: he wished them to come back freely; and he was sure that the more they knew the Lacedæmonians the better they would esteem them. He was prepared to forgive and forget previous hostility, but while he invited all of them to live for the future as cordial friends and fellow-citizens, he should also for the future hold each man responsible for his conduct, either as friend or as enemy.”

On the expiration of the two days’ truce, Brasidas attacked the Athenian garrison in Lêkythus, promising a recompense of thirty minæ to the soldier who should first force his way into it. Notwithstanding very poor means of defence, partly a wooden palisade, partly houses with battlements on the roof, this garrison repelled him for one whole day: on the next morning he brought up a machine, for the same purpose as that which the Bœotians had employed at Delium, to set fire to the woodwork. The Athenians on their side, seeing this fire-machine approaching, put up, on a building in front of their position, a wooden scaffolding, upon which many of them mounted, with casks of water and large stones to break it or to extinguish the flames. At last, the weight accumulated becoming greater than the scaffolding could support, it broke down with a prodigious noise; so that all the persons and things upon it rolled down in confusion. Some of these men were hurt, yet the injury was not in reality serious; had not the noise, the cries, and strangeness of the incident alarmed those behind, who could not see precisely what had occurred, to such a degree, that they believed the enemy to have already forced the defences. Many of them accordingly took to flight, and those who remained were insufficient to prolong the resistance successfully; so that Brasidas, perceiving the disorder and diminished number of the defenders, relinquished his fire-machine, and again renewed his attempt to carry the place by assault, which now fully succeeded. A considerable proportion of the Athenians and others in the fort escaped across the narrow gulf to the peninsula of Pallênê, by means of the two triremes and some merchant-vessels at hand: but every man found in it was put to death. Brasidas, thus master of the fort, and con[p. 425]sidering that he owed his success to the sudden rupture of the Athenian scaffolding, regarded this incident as a divine interposition, and presented the thirty minæ, which he had promised as a reward to the first man who broke in, to the goddess Athênê, for her temple at Lêkythus. He moreover consecrated to her the entire cape of Lêkythus; not only demolishing the defences, but also dismantling the private residences which it contained,[680] so that nothing remained except the temple, with its ministers and appurtenances.

What proportion of the Torônæans who had taken refuge at Lêkythus had been induced to return by the proclamation of Brasidas, alike generous and politic, we are not informed. His language and conduct were admirably calculated to set this little community again in harmonious movement, and to obliterate the memory of past feuds. And above all, it inspired a strong sentiment of attachment and gratitude towards himself personally; a sentiment which gained strength with every successive incident in which he was engaged, and which enabled him to exercise a greater ascendency than could ever be acquired by Sparta, and in some respects greater than had ever been possessed by Athens. It is this remarkable development of commanding individuality, animated throughout by straightforward public purposes, and binding together so many little communities who had few other feelings in common, which lends to the short career of this eminent man a romantic and even an heroic interest.

During the remainder of the winter Brasidas employed himself in setting in order the acquisitions already made, and in laying plans for farther conquests in the spring.[681] But the beginning of spring—or the close of the eighth year, and beginning of the ninth year of the war, as Thucydidês reckons—brought with it a new train of events, which will be recounted in the following chapter.

[p. 426]


The eighth year of the war, described in the last chapter, had opened with sanguine hopes for Athens, and with dark promise for Sparta, chiefly in consequence of the memorable capture of Sphakteria towards the end of the preceding summer. It included, not to mention other events, two considerable and important enterprises on the part of Athens, against Megara and against Bœotia; the former plan, partially successful, the latter, not merely unsuccessful, but attended with a ruinous defeat. Lastly, the losses in Thrace, following close upon the defeat at Delium, together with the unbounded expectations everywhere entertained from the future career of Brasidas, had again seriously lowered the impression entertained of Athenian power. The year thus closed amidst humiliations the more painful to Athens, as contrasted with the glowing hopes with which it had begun.

It was now that Athens felt the full value of those prisoners whom she had taken at Sphakteria. With those prisoners, as Kleon and his supporters had said truly, she might be sure of making peace whenever she desired it.[682] Having such a certainty to fall back upon, she had played a bold game, and aimed at larger acquisitions during the past year; and this speculation, though not in itself unreasonable, had failed: moreover, a new phenomenon, alike unexpected by all, had occurred, when Brasidas broke open and cut up her empire in Thrace. Still, so great was the anxiety of the Spartans to regain their captives, who had powerful friends and relatives at home, that they considered the victories of Brasidas chiefly as a stepping-stone towards that object, and as a means of prevailing upon Athens to make peace. To his animated representations sent home from Amphipolis, setting forth the prospects of still farther success and entreating reinforcements, they had returned a discouraging reply, dictated in[p. 427] no small degree by the miserable jealousy of some of their chief men;[683] who, feeling themselves cast into the shade, and looking upon his splendid career as an eccentric movement breaking loose from Spartan routine, were thus on personal as well as political grounds disposed to labor for peace. Such collateral motives, working upon the caution usual with Sparta, determined her to make use of the present fortune and realized conquests of Brasidas as a basis for negotiation and recovery of the prisoners; without opening the chance of ulterior enterprises, which though they might perhaps end in results yet more triumphant, would unavoidably put in risk that which was now secure.[684] The history of the Athenians during the past year might, indeed, serve as a warning to deter the Spartans from playing an adventurous game.

[p. 428]

Ever since the capture of Sphakteria, the Lacedæmonians had been attempting, directly or indirectly, negotiations for peace[p. 429] and the recovery of the prisoners; their pacific dispositions being especially instigated by king Pleistoanax, whose peculiar[p. 430] circumstances gave him a strong motive to bring the war to a close. He had been banished from Sparta, fourteen years before the commencement of the war, and a little before the thirty years’ truce, under the charge of having taken bribes from the Athenians on occasion of invading Attica. For more than eighteen years, he lived in banishment, close to the temple of Zeus Lykæus, in Arcadia; in such constant fear of the Lacedæmonians, that his dwelling-house was half within the consecrated ground.[685] But he never lost the hope of procuring restoration, through the medium of the Pythian priestess at Delphi, whom he and his brother Aristoklês kept in their pay. To every sacred legation which went from Sparta to Delphi, she repeated the same imperative injunction: “They must bring back the seed of (Hêraklês) the demi-god son of Zeus, from foreign land to their own: if they did not, it would be their fate to plough with a silver ploughshare.” The command of the god, thus incessantly repeated and backed by the influence of those friends who supported Pleistoanax at home, at length produced an entire change of sentiment at Sparta. In the fourth or fifth year of the Peloponnesian war, the exile was recalled; and not merely recalled, but welcomed with unbounded honors, received with the same sacrifices and choric shows as those which were said to have been offered to the primitive kings, on the first settlement of Sparta.

As in the case of Kleomenês and Demaratus, however, it was not long before the previous intrigue came to be detected, or at least generally suspected and believed; to the great discredit of Pleistoanax, though he could not be again banished. Every successive public calamity which befell the state, the miscarriages of Alkidas, the defeat of Eurylochus in Amphilochia, and above[p. 431] all, the unprecedented humiliation in Sphakteria, were imputed to the displeasure of the gods in consequence of the impious treachery of Pleistoanax. Suffering under such an imputation, this king was most eager to exchange the hazards of war for the secure march of peace, so that he was thus personally interested in opening every door for negotiation with Athens, and in restoring himself to credit by regaining the prisoners.[686]

After the battle of Delium,[687] the pacific dispositions of Nikias, Lachês, and the philo-Laconian party, began to find increasing favor at Athens;[688] while the unforeseen losses in Thrace, coming thick upon each other, each successive triumph of Brasidas apparently increasing his means of achieving more, tended to convert the discouragement of the Athenians into positive alarm. Negotiations appear to have been in progress throughout great part of the winter: and the continual hope that these might be brought to a close, combined with the impolitic aversion of Nikias and his friends to energetic military action, help to explain the unwonted apathy of Athens, under the pressure of such disgraces. But so much did her courage flag, towards the close of the winter, that she came to look upon a truce as her only means[689] of preservation against the victorious progress of Brasidas. What the tone of Kleon now was, we are not directly informed: he would probably still continue opposed to the propositions of peace, at least indirectly, by insisting on terms more favorable than could be obtained. On this point, his political counsels would be wrong; but on another point, they would be much sounder and more judicious than those of his rival Nikias: for he would recommend a strenuous prosecution of hostilities by Athenian force against Brasidas in Thrace. At the present moment this was the most urgent political necessity of Athens, whether she entertained or rejected the views of peace: and the policy of Nikias, who cradled up the existing depression of the citizens by[p. 432] encouraging them to rely on the pacific inclinations of Sparta, was ill-judged and disastrous in its results, as the future will hereafter show.

Attempts were made by the peace-party both at Athens and Sparta to negotiate at first for a definitive peace: but the conditions of such a peace were not easy to determine, so as to satisfy both parties, and became more and more difficult, with every success of Brasidas. At length the Athenians, eager above all things to arrest his progress, sent to Sparta to propose a truce for one year, desiring the Spartans to send to Athens envoys with full powers to settle the terms: the truce would allow time and tranquillity for settling the conditions of a definitive treaty. The proposition of the truce for one year,[690] together with the first two articles ready prepared, came from Athens, as indeed we might have presumed even without proof; since the interest of Sparta was rather against it, as allowing to the Athenians the fullest leisure for making preparations against farther losses in Thrace. But her main desire was, not so much to put herself in condition to make the best possible peace, as to insure some peace which would liberate her captives: and she calculated that when once the Athenians had tasted the sweets of peace for one year, they would not again voluntarily impose upon themselves the rigorous obligations of war.[691]

In the month of March, 423 B.C., on the fourteenth day of the month Elaphebolion at Athens, and on the twelfth day of the month Gerastius at Sparta, a truce for one year was concluded and sworn, between Athens on one side, and Sparta, Corinth, Sikyon, Epidaurus, and Megara, on the other.[692] The Spartans, instead of merely despatching plenipotentiaries to Athens as the Athenians had desired, went a step farther: in concurrence with the Athenian envoys, they drew up a form of truce, approved by[p. 433] themselves and their allies, in such manner that it only required to be adopted and ratified by the Athenians. The general principle of the truce was uti possidetis, and the conditions were in substance as follows:—

1. Respecting the temple at Delphi, every Greek shall have the right to make use of it honestly and without fear, pursuant to the customs of his particular city. The main purpose of this stipulation, prepared and sent verbatim from Athens, was to allow Athenian visitors to go thither, which had been impossible during the war, in consequence of the hostility of the Bœotians[693] and Phocians: the Delphian authorities also were in the interest of Sparta, and doubtless the Athenians received no formal invitation to the Pythian games. But the Bœotians and Phocians were no parties to the truce: accordingly the Lacedæmonians, while accepting the article and proclaiming the general liberty in principle, do not pledge themselves to enforce it by arms as far as the Bœotians and Phocians are concerned, but only to try and persuade them by amicable representations. The liberty of sacrificing at Delphi was at this moment the more welcome to the Athenians, as they seem to have fancied themselves under the displeasure of Apollo.[694]

2. All the contracting parties will inquire out and punish, each according to its own laws, such persons as may violate the property of the Delphian god.[695] This article also is prepared at Athens, for the purpose seemingly of conciliating the favor of[p. 434] Apollo and the Delphians. The Lacedæmonians accept the article literally, of course.

3. The Athenian garrisons at Pylus, Kythêra, Nisæa, and Minôa, and Methana in the neighborhood of Trœzen, are to remain as at present. No communication to take place between Kythêra and any portion of the mainland belonging to the Lacedæmonian alliance. The soldiers occupying Pylus shall confine themselves within the space between Buphras and Tomeus; those in Nisæa and Minôa, within the road which leads from the chapel of the hero Nisus to the temple of Poseidon, without any communication with the population beyond that limit. In like manner, the Athenians in the peninsula of Methana near Trœzen, and the inhabitants of the latter city, shall observe the special convention concluded between them respecting boundaries.[696]

4. The Lacedæmonians and their allies shall make use of the sea for trading purposes, on their own coasts, but shall not have liberty to sail in any ship of war, nor in any rowed merchant-vessel of tonnage equal to five hundred talents. [All war-ships were generally impelled by oar: they sometimes used sails, but never when wanted for fighting. Merchant-vessels seem generally to have sailed, but were sometimes rowed: the limitation of size is added, to insure that the Lacedæmonians shall not, under color of merchantmen, get up a warlike navy.]

5. There shall be free communication by sea as well as by land between Peloponnesus and Athens for herald or embassy with suitable attendants, to treat for a definitive peace or for the adjustment of differences.

6. Neither side shall receive deserters from the other, whether free or slave. [This article was alike important to both parties. Athens had to fear the revolt of her subject-allies, Sparta the desertion of Helots.]

7. Disputes shall be amicably settled, by both parties, according to their established laws and customs.

Such was the substance of the treaty prepared at Sparta, seemingly in concert with Athenian envoys, and sent by the Spartans to Athens for approval, with the following addition:[p. 435] “If there be any provision which occurs to you, more honorable or just than these, come to Lacedæmon and tell us: for neither the Spartans nor their allies will resist any just suggestions. But let those who come, bring with them full powers to conclude, in the same manner as you desire of us. The truce shall be for one year.”

By the resolution which Lachês proposed in the Athenian public assembly, ratifying the truce, the people farther decreed that negotiations should be open for a definitive treaty, and directed the stratêgi to propose to the next ensuing assembly, a scheme and principles for conducting the negotiations. But at the very moment when the envoys between Sparta and Athens were bringing the truce to final adoption, events happened in Thrace which threatened to cancel it altogether. Two days[697] after the important fourteenth of Elaphebolion, but before the truce could be made known in Thrace, Skiônê revolted from Athens to Brasidas.

Skiônê was a town calling itself Achæan, one of the numerous colonies which, in the want of an acknowledged mother city, traced its origin to warriors returning from Troy. It was situated in the peninsula of Pallênê (the westernmost of those three narrow tongues of land into which Chalkidikê branches out); conterminous with the Eretrian colony Mendê. The Skiônæans, not without considerable dissent among themselves, proclaimed their revolt from Athens, under concert with Brasidas. He immediately crossed the gulf into Pallênê, himself in a little boat, but with a trireme close at his side; calculating that she would protect him against any small Athenian vessel,—while any Athenian trireme which he might encounter would attack his trireme, paying no attention to the little boat in which he himself was. The revolt of Skiônê was, from the position of the town, a more striking defiance of Athens than any of the preceding events. For the isthmus connecting Pallênê with the mainland was occupied by the town of Potidæa, a town assigned at the period of its capture seven years before to Athenian settlers, though probably containing some other residents besides. Moreover, the isthmus was so narrow, that the wall of Potidæa barred[p. 436] it across completely from sea to sea: Pallênê was therefore a quasi-island, not open to the aid of land-force from the continent, like the towns previously acquired by Brasidas. The Skiônæans thus put themselves, without any foreign aid, into conflict against the whole force of Athens, bringing into question her empire not merely over continental towns, but over islands.

Even to Brasidas himself their revolt appeared a step of astonishing boldness. On being received into the city, he convened a public assembly, and addressed to them the same language which he had employed at Akanthus and Torônê, disavowing all party preferences as well as all interference with the internal politics of the town, and exhorting them only to unanimous efforts against the common enemy. He bestowed upon them at the same time the warmest praise for their courage. “They, though exposed to all hazards of islanders, had stood forward of their own accord to procure freedom,[698] without waiting like cowards to be driven on by a foreign force towards what was clearly their own good. He considered them capable of any measure of future heroism, if the danger now impending from Athens should be averted, and he should assign to them the very first post of honor among the faithful allies of Lacedæmon.” This generous, straightforward, and animating tone of exhortation, appealing to the strongest political instinct of the Greek mind, the love of complete city autonomy, and coming from the lips of one whose whole conduct had hitherto been conformable to it, had proved highly efficacious in all the previous towns. But in Skiônê it roused the population to the highest pitch of enthusiasm:[699] it worked even upon the feelings of the dissentient minority, bringing them round to partake heartily in the movement: it produced a unanimous and exalted confidence which made them look forward cheerfully to all the desperate chances in which they had engaged themselves; and it produced at the same time, in still more unbounded manifestation, the same personal attachment and admiration as Brasidas inspired elsewhere. The Skiônæans not only voted to him publicly a golden crown, as the liberator of Greece, but when it[p. 437] was placed on his head, the burst of individual sentiment and sympathy was the strongest of which the Grecian bosom was capable. “They crowded round him individually, and encircled his head with fillets, like a victorious athlete,”[700] says the historian. This remarkable incident illustrates what I observed before, that the achievements, the self-relying march, the straightforward politics and probity of this illustrious man, who in character was more Athenian than Spartan, yet with the good qualities of Athens predominant, inspired a personal emotion towards him such as rarely found its way into Grecian political life. The sympathy and admiration felt in Greece towards a victorious athlete was not merely an intense sentiment in the Grecian mind, but was, perhaps of all others, the most wide-spread and Pan-Hellenic. It was connected with the religion, the taste, and the love of recreation, common to the whole nation, while politics tended rather to disunite the separate cities: it was farther a sentiment at once familiar and exclusively personal. Of its exaggerated intensity throughout Greece the philosophers often complained, not without good reason; but Thucydidês cannot convey a more lively idea of the enthusiasm and unanimity with which Brasidas was welcomed at Skiônê, just after the desperate resolution taken by the citizens, than by using this simile.

The Lacedæmonian commander knew well how much the utmost resolution of the Skiônæans was needed, and how speedily their insular position would draw upon them the vigorous invasion of Athens. He accordingly brought across to Pallênê a considerable portion of his army, not merely with a view to the defence of Skiônê, but also with the intention of surprising both Mendê and Potidæa, in both which places there were small parties of conspirators prepared to open the gates.

It was in this position that he was found by the commissioners who came to announce formally the conclusion of the truce for one year, and to enforce its provisions: Athenæus from Sparta,[p. 438] one of the three Spartans who had sworn to the treaty: Aristonymus, from Athens. The face of affairs was materially altered by this communication; much to the satisfaction of the newly acquired allies of Sparta in Thrace, who accepted the truce forthwith, but to the great chagrin of Brasidas, whose career was thus suddenly arrested. But he could not openly refuse obedience, and his army was accordingly transferred from the peninsula of Pallênê to Torônê.

The case of Skiônê, however, immediately raised an obstruction, doubtless very agreeable to him. The commissioners who had come in an Athenian trireme, had heard nothing of the revolt of that place, and Aristonymus was astonished to find the enemy in Pallênê. But on inquiring into the case, he discovered that the Skiônæans had not revolted until two days after the day fixed for the commencement of the truce: accordingly, while sanctioning the truce for all the other cities in Thrace, he refused to comprehend Skiônê in it, sending immediate news home to Athens. Brasidas, protesting loudly against this proceeding, refused on his part to abandon Skiônê, which was peculiarly endeared to him by the recent scenes; and even obtained the countenance of the Lacedæmonian commissioners, by falsely asseverating that the city had revolted before the day named in the truce. Violent was the burst of indignation when the news sent home by Aristonymus reached Athens: nor was it softened, when the Lacedæmonians, acting upon the version of the case sent to them by Brasidas and Athenæus, despatched an embassy hither to claim protection for Skiônê, or at any rate to procure the adjustment of the dispute by arbitration or pacific decision. Having the terms of the treaty on their side, the Athenians were least of all disposed to relax from their rights in favor of the first revolting islanders. They resolved at once to undertake an expedition for the reconquest of Skiônê; and farther, on the proposition of Kleon, to put to death all the adult male inhabitants of that place as soon as it should have been reconquered. At the same time, they showed no disposition to throw up the truce generally; and the state of feeling on both sides tended to this result, that, while the war continued in Thrace, it was suspended everywhere else.[701]

[p. 439]

Fresh intelligence soon arrived, carrying exasperation at Athens yet farther, of the revolt of Mendê, the adjoining town to Skiônê. Those Mendæans, who had laid their measures for secretly introducing Brasidas, were at first baffled by the arrival of the truce-commissioners; but they saw that he retained his hold on Skiônê, in spite of the provisions of the truce, and they ascertained that he was willing still to protect them if they revolted, though he could not be an accomplice, as originally projected, in the surprise of the town. Being, moreover, only a small party, with the sentiment of the population against them, they were afraid, if they now relinquished their scheme, of being detected and punished for the partial steps already taken, when the Athenians should come against Skiônê. They therefore thought it on the whole the least dangerous course to persevere. They proclaimed their revolt from Athens, constraining the reluctant citizens to obey them:[702] the government seems before to have been democratical, but they now found means to bring about an oligarchical revolution along with the revolt. Brasidas immediately accepted their adhesion, and willingly undertook to protect them, professing to think that he had a right to do so, because they had revolted openly after the truce had been proclaimed. But the truce upon this point was clear, which he himself virtually admitted, by setting up as justification certain alleged matters in which the Athenians had themselves violated it. He immediately made preparation for the defence both of Mendê and Skiônê against the attack, which was now rendered more certain than before, conveying the women and children of those two towns across to the Chalkidic Olynthus, and sending thither as garrison[p. 440] five hundred Peloponnesian hoplites with three hundred Chalkidic peltasts; the commander of which force, Polydamidas, took possession of the acropolis with his own troops separately.[703] Brasidas then withdrew himself with the greater part of his army, to accompany Perdikkas on an expedition into the interior against Arrhibæus and the Lynkêstæ. On what ground, after having before entered into terms with Arrhibæus, he now became his active enemy, we are left to conjecture: probably his relations with Perdikkas, whose alliance was of essential importance, were such that this step was forced upon him against his will, or he may really have thought that the force under Polydamidas was adequate to the defence of Mendê and Skiônê; an idea which the unaccountable backwardness of Athens for the last six or eight months might well foster. Had he even remained, indeed, he could hardly have saved them, considering the situation of Pallênê and the superiority of Athens at sea; but his absence made their ruin certain.[704]

While Brasidas was thus engaged far in the interior, the Athenian armament under Nikias and Nikostratus reached Potidæa: fifty triremes, ten of them Chian; one thousand hoplites and six hundred bowmen from Athens; one thousand mercenary Thracians, with some peltasts from Methônê and other towns in the neighborhood. From Potidæa, they proceeded by sea to Cape Poseidonium, near which they landed for the purpose of attacking Mendê. Polydamidas, the Peloponnesian commander in the town, took post with his force of seven hundred hoplites, including three hundred Skiônæans, upon an eminence near the city, strong and difficult of approach: upon which the Athenian generals divided their forces; Nikias, with sixty Athenian chosen hoplites, one hundred and twenty Methonean peltasts, and all the bowmen, tried to march up the hill by a side path and thus turn the position; while Nikostratus with the main army attacked it in front. But such were the extreme difficulties of the ground that both were repulsed: Nikias was himself wounded, and the division of Nikostratus was thrown into great disorder, narrowly escaping a destructive defeat. The Mendæans, however, evacuated the position in the night and retired into the city; while the Athe[p. 441]nians, sailing round on the morrow to the suburb on the side of Skiônê, ravaged the neighboring lands; and Nikias on the ensuing day carried his devastations still farther, even to the border of the Skiônæan territory.

But dissensions had already commenced within the walls, and the Skiônæan auxiliaries, becoming mistrustful of their situation, took advantage of the night to return home. The revolt of Mendê had been brought about against the will of the citizens by the intrigues and for the benefit of an oligarchical faction: moreover, it does not appear that Brasidas personally visited the town, as he had visited Skiônê and the other revolted towns: had he come, his personal influence might have done much to soothe the offended citizens, and create some disposition to adopt the revolt as a fact accomplished, after they had once been compromised with Athens. But his animating words had not been heard, and the Peloponnesian troops whom he had sent to Mendê, were mere instruments to sustain the newly erected oligarchy and keep out the Athenians. The feelings of the citizens generally towards them were soon unequivocally displayed. Nikostratus with half of the Athenian force was planted before that gate of Mendê which opened towards Potidæa: in the neighborhood of that gate, within the city, was the place of arms and the chief station both of the Peloponnesians and of the citizens; and Polydamidas, intending to make a sally forth, was marshalling both of them in battle order, when one of the Mendæan Demos, manifesting with angry vehemence a sentiment common to most of them, told him, “that he would not sally forth, and did not choose to take part in the contest.” Polydamidas seized hold of the man to punish him, when the mass of the armed Demos, taking part with their comrade, made a sudden rush upon the Peloponnesians. The latter, unprepared for such an onset, sustained at first some loss, and were soon forced to retreat into the acropolis; the rather, as they saw some of the Mendæans open the gates to the besiegers without, which induced them to suspect a preconcerted betrayal. No such concert, however, existed, though the besieging generals, when they saw the gates thus suddenly opened, soon comprehended the real position of affairs. But they found it impossible to restrain their soldiers, who pushed in forthwith, from plunder[p. 442]ing the town; and they had even some difficulty in saving the lives of the citizens.[705]

Mendê being thus taken, the Athenian generals desired the body of the citizens to resume their former government, leaving it to them to single out and punish the authors of the late revolt. What use was made of this permission, we are not told; but probably most of the authors had already escaped into the acropolis along with Polydamidas. Having erected a wall of circumvallation round the acropolis, joining the sea at both ends, and left a force to guard it, the Athenians moved away to begin the siege of Skiônê, where they found both the citizens and the Peloponnesian garrison posted on a strong hill, not far from the walls. As it was impossible to surround the town without being masters of this hill, the Athenians attacked it at once, and were more fortunate than they had been before Mendê; for they carried it by assault, compelling the defenders to take refuge in the town. After erecting their trophy, they commenced the wall of circumvallation. Before it was finished, the garrison who had been shut up in the acropolis of Mendê, got into Skiônê at night, having broken out by a sudden sally where the blockading wall around them joined the sea. But this did not hinder Nikias from prosecuting his operations, so that Skiônê was in no long time completely inclosed, and a division placed to guard the wall of circumvallation.[706]

Such was the state of affairs which Brasidas found on returning from the inland Macedonia. Unable either to recover Mendê or to relieve Skiônê, he was forced to confine himself to the protection of Torônê. Nikias, however, without attacking Torônê, returned soon afterwards with his armament to Athens, leaving Skiônê under blockade.

The march of Brasidas into Macedonia had been unfortunate in every way, and nothing but his extraordinary gallantry rescued him from utter ruin. The joint force of himself and Perdikkas consisted of three thousand Grecian hoplites, Peloponnesian, Akanthian, and Chalkidian, with one thousand Macedonian and Chalkidian horse, and a considerable number of non-Hellenic auxiliaries. As soon as they had got beyond the mountain-pass[p. 443] into the territory of the Lynkêstæ, they were met by Arrhibæus, and a battle ensued, in which that prince was completely worsted. They halted here for a few days, awaiting—before they pushed forward to attack the villages in the territory of Arrhibæus—the arrival of a body of Illyrian mercenaries, with whom Perdikkas had concluded a bargain.[707] At length Perdikkas became impatient to advance without them; while Brasidas, on the contrary, apprehensive for the fate of Mendê during his absence, was bent on returning back. The dissension between them becoming aggravated, they parted company and occupied separate encampments at some distance from each other, when both received unexpected intelligence which made Perdikkas as anxious to retreat as Brasidas. The Illyrians, having broken their compact, had joined Arrhibæus, and were now in full march to attack the invaders. The untold number of these barbarians was reported as overwhelming, and such was their reputation for ferocity as well as for valor, that the Macedonian army of Perdikkas, seized with a sudden panic, broke up in the night and fled without orders, hurrying Perdikkas himself along with them, and not even sending notice to Brasidas, with whom nothing had been concerted about the retreat. In the morning, the latter found Arrhibæus and the Illyrians close upon him, while the Macedonians were already far advanced in their journey homeward.

The contrast between the man of Hellas and of Macedonia, general as well as soldiers, was never more strikingly exhibited than on this critical occasion. The soldiers of Brasidas, though surprised as well as deserted, lost neither their courage nor their discipline: the commander preserved not only his presence of mind, but his full authority. His hoplites were directed to form in a hollow square, or oblong, with the light-armed and attendants in the centre, for the retreating march: youthful soldiers were posted either in the outer ranks, or in convenient stations, to run out swiftly and repel the assailing enemy; while Brasidas himself, with three hundred chosen men, formed the rear-guard.[708]

The short harangue which, according to a custom universal with Grecian generals, he addressed to his troops immediately before the enemy approached, is in many respects remarkable.[p. 444] Though some were Akanthians, some Chalkidians, some Helots, he designates all by the honorable title of “Peloponnesians.” Reassuring them against the desertion of their allies, as well as against the superior numbers of the advancing enemy, he invokes their native, homebred courage.[709]Ye do not require the presence of allies to inspire you with bravery, nor do ye fear superior numbers of an enemy; for ye belong not to those political communities in which the larger number governs the smaller, but to those in which a few men rule subjects more numerous than themselves, having acquired their power by no other means than by superiority in battle.” Next, Brasidas tried to dissipate the prestige of the Illyrian name; his army had already vanquished the Lynkêstæ, and these other barbarians were noway better. A nearer acquaintance would soon show that they were only formidable from the noise, the gestures, the clashing of arms, and the accompaniments of their onset; and that they were incapable of sustaining the reality of close combat, hand to hand. “They have no regular order (said he) such as to impress them with shame for deserting their post: flight and attack are with them in equally honorable esteem, so that there is nothing to test the really courageous man: their battle, wherein every man fights as he chooses, is just the thing to furnish each with a decent pretence for running away.” “Repel ye their onset whenever it comes; and so soon as opportunity offers, resume your retreat in rank and order. Ye will soon arrive in a place of safety; and ye will be convinced that such crowds, when their enemy has stood to defy the first onset, keep aloof with empty menace and a parade of courage which never strikes; while if their enemy gives way, they show themselves smart and bold in running after him where there is no danger.”[710]

[p. 445]

The superiority of disciplined and regimented force over disorderly numbers, even with equal undivided courage, is now a truth so familiar, that we require an effort of imagination to put ourselves back into the fifth century before the Christian era, when this truth was recognized only among the Hellenic communities; when the practice of all their neighbors—Illyrians, Thracians, Asiatics, Epirots, and even Macedonians—implied ignorance or contradiction of it. In respect to the Epirots, the difference between their military habits and those of the Greeks has been already noticed, having been pointedly manifested in the memorable joint attack on the Akarnanian town of Stratus, in the second year of the war.[711] Both Epirots and Macedonians, however, are a step nearer to the Greeks than either Thracians, or these Illyrian barbarians against whom Brasidas was now about to contend, and in whose case the contrast comes out yet more forcibly. Nor is it merely the contrast between two modes of fighting which the Lacedæmonian commander impresses upon his soldiers: he gives what may be called a moral theory of the principles on which that contrast is founded,—a theory of large range and going to the basis of Grecian social life, in peace as well as in war. The sentiment in each individual man’s bosom,[p. 446] of a certain place which he has to fill and duties which he has to perform, combined with fear of the displeasure of his neighbors as well as of his own self-reproach if he shrinks back, but at the same time essentially bound up and reciprocating with the feeling that his neighbors are under corresponding obligations towards him,—this sentiment, which Brasidas invokes as the settled military creed of his soldiers in their ranks, was not less the regulating principle of their intercourse in peace as citizens of the same community. Simple as this principle may seem, it would have found no response in the army of Xerxes, or of the Thracian Sitalkês, or of the Gaul Brennus. The Persian soldier rushes to death by order of the Great King, perhaps under terror of a whip which the Great King commands to be administered to him: the Illyrian or the Gaul scorns such a stimulus, and obeys only the instigation of his own pugnacity, or vengeance, or love of blood, or love of booty, but recedes as soon as that individual sentiment is either satisfied or overcome by fear. It is the Greek soldier alone who feels himself bound to his comrades by ties reciprocal and indissoluble,[712]—who obeys neither the will of a king, nor his own individual impulse, but a common and imperative sentiment of obligation,—whose honor or shame is attached to his own place in the ranks, never to be abandoned nor overstepped. Such conceptions of military duty, established in the minds of these soldiers whom Brasidas addressed, will come to be farther illustrated when we describe the memorable Retreat of the Ten Thousand: at present, I merely indicate them as forming a part of that general scheme of morality, social and political as well as military, wherein the Greeks stood exalted above the nations who surrounded them.

But there is another point in the speech of Brasidas which deserves notice. He tells his soldiers: “Courage is your homebred property; for ye belong to communities wherein the small[p. 447] number governs the larger, simply by reason of superior prowess in themselves and conquest by their ancestors.” First, it is remarkable that a large proportion of the Peloponnesian soldiers, whom Brasidas thus addresses, consisted of Helots, the conquered race, not the conquerors: yet so easily does the military or regimental pride supplant the sympathies of race, that these men would feel flattered by being addressed as if they were themselves sprung from the race which had enslaved their ancestors. Next, we here see the right of the strongest invoked as the legitimate source of power, and as an honorable and ennobling recollection, by an officer of Dorian race, oligarchical politics, unperverted intellect, and estimable character: and we shall accordingly be prepared, when we find a similar principle hereafter laid down by the Athenian envoys at Melos, to disallow the explanation of those who treat it merely as a theory invented by demagogues and sophists, upon one or other of whom it is common to throw the blame of all that is objectionable in Grecian politics or morality.

Having finished his harangue, Brasidas gave orders for retreat. As soon as his march began, the Illyrians rushed upon him with all the confidence and shouts of pursuers against a flying enemy, believing that they should completely destroy his army. But wherever they approached near, the young soldiers specially stationed for the purpose, turned upon and beat them back with severe loss; while Brasidas himself, with his rear-guard of three hundred, was present everywhere rendering vigorous aid. When the Lynkêstæ and Illyrians attacked, the army halted and repelled them, after which it resumed its retreating march. The barbarians found themselves so rudely handled, and with such unwonted vigor,—for they probably had had no previous experience of Grecian troops,—that after a few trials they desisted from meddling with the army in its retreat along the plain. They ran forward rapidly, partly in order to overtake the Macedonians under Perdikkas, who had fled before, partly to occupy the narrow pass, with high hills on each side, which formed the entrance into Lynkêstis, and which lay in the road of Brasidas. When the latter approached this narrow pass, he saw the barbarians masters of it; several of them were already on the summits, and more were ascending to reinforce them; while a portion of[p. 448] them were moving down upon his rear. Brasidas immediately gave orders to his chosen three hundred, to charge up the most assailable of the two hills, with their best speed, before it became more numerously occupied, not staying to preserve compact ranks. This unexpected and vigorous movement disconcerted the barbarians, who fled, abandoning the eminence to the Greeks, and leaving their own men in the pass exposed on one of their flanks.[713] The retreating army, thus master of one of the side hills, was enabled to force its way through the middle pass, and to drive away the Lynkêstian and Illyrian occupants. Having got through this narrow outlet, Brasidas found himself on the higher ground, nor did his enemies dare to attack him farther: so that he was enabled to reach, even in that day’s march, the first town or village in the kingdom of Perdikkas, called Arnissa. So incensed were his soldiers with the Macedonian subjects of Perdikkas, who had fled on the first news of danger without giving them any notice, that they seized and appropriated all the articles of baggage, not inconsiderable in number, which happened to have been dropped in the disorder of a nocturnal flight; and they even unharnessed and slew the oxen out of the baggage carts.[714]

Perdikkas keenly resented this behavior of the troops of Brasidas, following as it did immediately upon his own quarrel with that general, and upon the mortification of his repulse from Lynkêstis. From this moment he broke off his alliance with the Peloponnesians, and opened negotiations with Nikias, then engaged in constructing the wall of blockade round Skiônê. Such was the general faithlessness of this prince, however, that Nikias[p. 449] required as a condition of the alliance, some manifest proof of the sincerity of his intentions; and Perdikkas was soon enabled to afford a proof of considerable importance.[715]

The relations between Athens and Peloponnesus, since the conclusion of the truce in the preceding March, had settled into a curious combination. In Thrace, war was prosecuted by mutual understanding, and with unabated vigor; but everywhere else the truce was observed. The main purpose of the truce, however, that of giving time for discussions preliminary to a definitive peace, was completely frustrated; nor does the decree of the Athenian people, which stands included in their vote sanctioning the truce, for sending and receiving envoys to negotiate such a peace, ever seem to have been executed.

Instead of this, the Lacedæmonians despatched a considerable reinforcement by land to join Brasidas; probably at his own request, and also instigated by hearing of the Athenian armament now under Nikias in Pallênê. But Ischagoras, the commander of the reinforcement, on reaching the borders of Thessaly, found all farther progress impracticable, and was compelled to send back his troops. For Perdikkas, by whose powerful influence alone Brasidas had been enabled to pass through Thessaly, now directed his Thessalian guests to keep the new-comers off; which was far more easily executed, and was gratifying to the feelings of Perdikkas himself, as well as an essential service to the Athenians.[716] Ischagoras, however, with a few companions, but without his army, made his way to Brasidas, having been particularly directed by the Lacedæmonians to inspect and report upon the state of affairs. He numbered among his companions a few select Spartans of the military age, intended to be placed as harmosts or governors in the cities reduced by Brasidas: this was among the first violations, apparently often repeated afterwards, of the ancient Spartan custom, that none except elderly[p. 450] men, above the military age, should be named to such posts. Indeed, Brasidas himself was an illustrious departure from the ancient rule. The mission of these officers was intended to guard against the appointment of any but Spartans to such posts, for there were no Spartans in the army of Brasidas. One of the new-comers, Klearidas, was made governor of Amphipolis; another, Pasitelidas, of Torônê.[717] It is probable that these inspecting commissioners may have contributed to fetter the activity of Brasidas: and the newly-declared hostility of Perdikkas, together with disappointment in the non-arrival of the fresh troops intended to join him, much abridged his means. We hear of only one exploit performed by him at this time, and that too more than six months after the retreat from Macedonia, about January or February 422 B.C. Having established intelligence with some parties in the town of Potidæa, in the view of surprising it, he contrived to bring up his army in the night to the foot of the walls, and even to plant his scaling ladders, without[p. 451] being discovered. The sentinel carrying and ringing the bell had just passed by on the wall, leaving for a short interval an unguarded space (the practice apparently being, to pass this bell round along the walls from one sentinel to another throughout the night), when some of the soldiers of Brasidas took advantage of the moment to try and mount. But before they could reach the top of the wall, the sentinel came back, alarm was given, and the assailants were compelled to retreat.[718]

In the absence of actual war between the ascendent powers in and near Peloponnesus, during the course of this summer, Thucydidês mentions to us some incidents which perhaps he would have omitted had there been great warlike operations to describe. The great temple of Hêrê, between Mykenæ and Argos (nearer to the former, and in early times more intimately connected with it, but now an appendage of the latter, Mykenæ itself having been subjected and almost depopulated by the Argeians), enjoyed an ancient Pan-Hellenic reputation; the catalogue of its priestesses, seemingly with a statue or bust of each, was preserved or imagined through centuries of past time, real and mythical, beginning with the goddess herself or her immediate nominees. Chrysis, an old woman, who had been priestess there for fifty-six years, happened to fall asleep in the temple with a burning lamp near to her head: the fillet encircling her head took fire, and though she herself escaped unhurt, the temple itself, very ancient, and perhaps built of wood, was consumed. From fear of the wrath of the Argeians, Chrysis fled to Phlius, and subsequently thought it necessary to seek protection as a suppliant in the temple of Athênê Alea, at Tegea: Phaeinis was appointed priestess in her place.[719] The temple was rebuilt on an adjoining spot by[p. 452] Eupolemus, of Argos, continuing as much as possible the antiquities and traditions of the former, but with greater splendor and magnitude: Pausanias, the traveller, who describes this temple as a visitor, near six hundred years afterwards, saw near it the remnant of the old temple which had been burned.

We hear farther of a war in Arcadia, between the two important cities of Mantineia and Tegea, each attended by its Arcadian allies, partly free, partly subject. In a battle fought between them at Laodikion, the victory was disputed: each party erected a trophy, each sent spoils to the temple of Delphi. We shall have occasion soon to speak farther of these Arcadian dissensions.

The Bœotians had been no parties to the truce sworn between Sparta and Athens in the preceding month of March; but they seem to have followed the example of Sparta in abstaining from hostilities de facto: and we may conclude that they acceded to the request of Sparta so far as to allow the transit of Athenian visitors and sacred envoys through Bœotia to the Delphian temple. The only actual incident which we hear of in Bœotia during this interval, is one which illustrates forcibly the harsh and ungenerous ascendency of the Thebans over the inferior Bœotian cities.[720] The Thebans destroyed the walls of Thespiæ, and condemned the city to remain unfortified, on the charge of atticizing tendencies. How far this suspicion was well founded we have no means of judging: but the Thespians, far from being dangerous at this moment, were altogether helpless, having lost the flower of their military force at the battle of Delium, where their station was on the defeated wing. It was this very helplessness, brought upon them by their services to Thebes against Athens, which now both impelled and enabled the Thebans to enforce the rigorous sentence above mentioned.[721]

[p. 453]

But the month of March, or the Attic Elaphebolion, 422 B.C., the time prescribed for expiration of the one year’s truce, had now arrived. It has already been mentioned that this truce had never been more than partially observed: Brasidas in Thrace had disregarded it from the beginning, and both the contracting powers had tacitly acquiesced in the anomalous condition, of war in Thrace coupled with peace elsewhere. Either of them had thus an excellent pretext for breaking the truce altogether; and as neither acted upon this pretext, we plainly see that the paramount feeling and ascendent parties, among both, tended to peace of their own accord, at that time. Nor was there anything except the interest of Brasidas, and of those revolted subjects of Athens to whom he had bound himself, which kept alive the war in Thrace. Under such a state of feeling, the oath taken to maintain the truce still seemed imperative on both parties, always excepting Thracian affairs. Moreover, the Athenians were to a certain degree soothed by their success at Mendê and Skiônê, and by their acquisition of Perdikkas as an ally, during the summer and autumn of 423 B.C. But the state of sentiment between the contracting parties was not such as to make it possible to treat for any longer peace, or to conclude any new agreement, though neither were disposed to depart from that which had been already concluded.

The mere occurrence of the last day of the truce made no practical difference at first in this condition of things. The truce had expired: either party might renew hostilities; but neither actually did renew them. To the Athenians, there was this additional motive for abstaining from hostilities for a few months longer: the great Pythian festival would be celebrated at Delphi in July or the beginning of August, and as they had been excluded from that holy spot during all the interval between the beginning of the war and the conclusion of the one year’s truce, their pious feelings seem now to have taken a peculiar longing towards the visits, pilgrimages, and festivals connected with it. Though the truce, therefore, had really ceased, no actual warfare took place until the Pythian games were over.[722]

[p. 454]

But though the actions of Athens remained unaltered, the talk at Athens became very different. Kleon and his supporters[p. 455] renewed their instances to obtain a vigorous prosecution of the war, and renewed them with great additional strength of argument; the question being now open to considerations of political prudence, without any binding obligation.

“At this time (observes Thucydidês)[723] the great enemies of peace were, Brasidas on one side, and Kleon on the other: the former, because he was in full success and rendered illustrious by the war; the latter, because he thought that if peace were concluded, he should be detected in his dishonest politics, and be less easily credited in his criminations of others.” As to Brasidas, the remark of the historian is indisputable: it would be wonderful, indeed, if he, in whom so many splendid qualities were brought out by the war, and who had moreover contracted obligations with the Thracian towns which gave him hopes and fears of his own, entirely apart from Lacedæmon,—it would be wonderful if the war and its continuance were not in his view the paramount object. In truth, his position in Thrace constituted an insurmountable obstacle to any solid or steady peace, independently of the dispositions of Kleon.

But the coloring which Thucydidês gives to Kleon’s support of the war is open to much greater comment. First, we may well raise the question, whether Kleon had any real interest in war,—whether his personal or party consequence in the city was at all enhanced by it. He had himself no talent or competence for warlike operations, which tended infallibly to place ascendency in the hands of others, and to throw him into the shade. As to his power of carrying on dishonest intrigues with success, that must depend on the extent of his political ascendency; while matter of crimination against others, assuming him to be careless of truth or falsehood, could hardly be wanting either in war or peace; and if the war brought forward unsuc[p. 456]cessful generals open to his accusations, it would also throw up successful generals who would certainly outshine him, and would probably put him down. In the life which Plutarch has given us of Phokion, a plain and straightforward military man, we read that one of the frequent and criminative speakers of Athens, of character analogous to that which is ascribed to Kleon, expressed his surprise on hearing Phokion dissuade the Athenians from embarking in a new war: “Yes (said Phokion), I think it right to dissuade them; though I know well, that if there be war, I shall have command over you; if there be peace, you will have command over me.”[724] This is surely a more rational estimate of the way in which war affects the comparative importance of the orator and the military officer, than that which Thucydidês pronounces in reference to the interests of Kleon. Moreover, when we come to follow the political history of Syracuse, we shall find the demagogue Athenagoras ultra-pacific, and the aristocrat Hermokratês far more warlike:[725] the former is afraid, not without reason, that war will raise into consequence energetic military leaders dangerous to the popular constitution. We may add, that Kleon himself had not been always warlike: he commenced his political career as an opponent of Periklês, when the latter was strenuously maintaining the necessity and prudence of beginning the Peloponnesian war.[726]

But farther, if we should even grant that Kleon had a separate party-interest in promoting the war, it will still remain to be considered, whether, at this particular crisis, the employment of energetic warlike measures in Thrace was not really the sound and prudent policy for Athens. Taking Periklês as the best judge of that policy, we shall find him at the outset of the war inculcating emphatically two important points: 1. To stand vigorously upon the defensive, maintaining unimpaired their maritime empire, “keeping their subject-allies well in hand,” submitting patiently even to see Attica ravaged. 2. To abstain from trying to enlarge their empire or to make new conquests during the[p. 457] war.[727] Consistently with this well-defined plan of action, Periklês, had he lived, would have taken care to interfere vigorously and betimes to prevent Brasidas from making his conquests: had such interference been either impossible or accidentally frustrated, he would have thought no efforts too great to recover them. To maintain undiminished the integrity of the empire, as well as that impression of Athenian force upon which the empire rested, was his cardinal principle. Now it is impossible to deny that in reference to Thrace, Kleon adhered more closely than his rival Nikias to the policy of Periklês. It was to Nikias, more than to Kleon, that the fatal mistake made by Athens in not interfering speedily after Brasidas first broke into Thrace is to be imputed: it was Nikias and his partisans, desirous of peace at almost any price, and knowing that the Lacedæmonians also desired it, who encouraged his countrymen, at a moment of great public depression of spirit, to leave Brasidas unopposed in Thrace, and rely on the chance of negotiation with Sparta for arresting his progress. The peace-party at Athens carried their point of the truce for a year, with the promise and for the express purpose of checking the farther conquests of Brasidas; also with the farther promise of maturing that truce into a permanent peace, and obtaining under the peace even the restoration of Amphipolis.

Such was the policy of Nikias and his party, the friends of peace and opponents of Kleon. And the promises which they thus held out might perhaps appear plausible in March 422 B.C., at the moment when the truce for one year was concluded. But the subsequent events had frustrated them in the most glaring manner, and had even shown the best reason for believing that no such expectations could possibly be realized while Brasidas was in unbroken and unopposed action. For the Lacedæmonians, though seemingly sincere in concluding the truce on the basis of uti possidetis, and desiring to extend it to Thrace as well as elsewhere, had been unable to enforce the observance of it upon Brasidas, or to restrain him even from making new acquisitions,[p. 458] so that Athens never obtained the benefit of the truce, exactly in that region where she most stood in need of it. Only by the despatch of her armament to Skiônê and Mendê had she maintained herself in possession even of Pallênê. Now what was the lesson to be derived from this experience, when the Athenians came to discuss their future policy, after the truce was at an end? The great object of all parties at Athens was to recover the lost possessions in Thrace, especially Amphipolis. Nikias, still urging negotiations for peace, continued to hold out hopes that the Lacedæmonians would be willing to restore that place, as the price of their captives now at Athens; and his connection with Sparta would enable him to announce her professions even upon authority. But to this Kleon might make, and doubtless did make, a complete reply, grounded upon the most recent experience: “If the Lacedæmonians consent to the restitution of Amphipolis (he would say), it will probably be only with the view of finding some means to escape performance, and yet to get back their prisoners. But granting that they are perfectly sincere, they will never be able to control Brasidas, and those parties in Thrace who are bound up with him by community of feeling and interest; so that after all, you will give them back their prisoners on the faith of an equivalent beyond their power to realize. Look at what has happened during the truce! So different are the views and obligations of Brasidas in Thrace from those of the Lacedæmonians, that he would not even obey their order when they directed him to stand as he was, and to desist from farther conquest: much less will he obey them when they direct him to surrender what he has already got: least of all, if they enjoin the surrender of Amphipolis, his grand acquisition and his central point for all future effort. Depend upon it, if you desire to regain Amphipolis, you will only regain it by energetic employment of force, as has happened with Skiônê and Mendê: and you ought to put forth your strength for this purpose immediately, while the Lacedæmonian prisoners are yet in your hands, instead of waiting until after you shall have been deluded into giving them up, thereby losing all your hold upon Lacedæmon.”

Such anticipations were fully verified by the result: for subsequent history will show that the Lacedæmonians, when they had bound themselves by treaty to give up Amphipolis, either would[p. 459] not, or could not, enforce performance of their stipulation, even after the death of Brasidas: much less could they have done so during his life, when there was his great personal influence, strenuous will, and hopes of future conquest, to serve as increased obstruction to them. Such anticipations were also plainly suggested by the recent past: so that in putting them into the mouth of Kleon, we are only supposing him to read the lesson open before his eyes.

Now since the war-policy of Kleon, taken at this moment after the expiration of the one year’s truce, may be thus shown to be not only more conformable to the genius of Periklês, but also founded on a juster estimate of events both past and future, than the peace-policy of Nikias, what are we to say to the historian, who, without refuting such presumptions, every one of which is deduced from his own narrative, nay, without even indicating their existence, merely tells us that “Kleon opposed the peace in order that he might cloke dishonest intrigues and find matter for plausible crimination?” We cannot but say of this criticism, with profound regret that such words must be pronounced respecting any judgment of Thucydidês, that it is harsh and unfair towards Kleon, and careless in regard to truth and the instruction of his readers. It breathes not that same spirit of honorable impartiality which pervades his general history: it is an interpolation by the officer whose improvidence had occasioned to his countrymen the fatal loss of Amphipolis, retaliating upon the citizen who justly accused him: it is conceived in the same tone as his unaccountable judgment in the matter of Sphakteria.

Rejecting on this occasion the judgment of Thucydidês, we may confidently affirm that Kleon had rational public grounds for urging his countrymen to undertake with energy the reconquest of Amphipolis. Demagogue and leather-seller though he was, he stands here honorably distinguished, as well from the tameness and inaction of Nikias, who grasped at peace with hasty credulity through sickness of the efforts of war, as from the restless movement and novelties, not merely unprofitable but ruinous, which we shall presently find springing up under the auspices of Alkibiadês. Periklês had said to his countrymen, at a time when they were enduring all the miseries of pestilence, and were in a state of despondency even greater than that which[p. 460] prevailed in B.C. 422: “You hold your empire and your proud position, by the condition of being willing to encounter cost, fatigue, and danger: abstain from all views of enlarging the empire, but think no effort too great to maintain it unimpaired. To lose what we have once got is more disgraceful than to fail in attempts at acquisition.”[728] The very same language was probably held by Kleon when exhorting his countrymen to an expedition for the reconquest of Amphipolis. But when uttered by him, it would have a very different effect from that which it had formerly produced when held by Periklês, and different also from that which it would now have produced if held by Nikias. The entire peace-party would repudiate it when it came from Kleon; partly out of dislike to the speaker, partly from a conviction, doubtless felt by every one, that an expedition against Brasidas would be a hazardous and painful service to all concerned in it, general as well as soldiers; partly also from a persuasion, sincerely entertained at the time, though afterwards proved to be illusory by the result, that Amphipolis might really be got back through peace with the Lacedæmonians.

If Kleon, in proposing the expedition, originally proposed himself as the commander, a new ground of objection, and a very forcible ground, would thus be furnished. Since everything which Kleon does is understood to be a manifestation of some vicious or silly attribute, we are told that this was an instance of his absurd presumption, arising out of the success of Pylus, and persuading him that he was the only general who could put down Brasidas. But if the success at Pylus had really filled him with such overweening military conceit, it is most unaccountable that he should not have procured for himself some command during the year which immediately succeeded the affair at Sphakteria, the eighth year of the war: a season of most active warlike enterprise, when his presumption and influence arising out of the Sphakterian victory must have been fresh and glowing. As he[p. 461] obtained no command during this immediately succeeding period we may fairly doubt whether he ever really conceived such excessive personal presumption of his own talents for war, and whether he did not retain after the affair of Sphakteria the same character which he had manifested in that affair, reluctance to engage in military expeditions himself, and a disposition to see them commanded as well as carried on by others. It is by no means certain that Kleon, in proposing the expedition against Amphipolis, originally proposed to take the command of it himself: I think it at least equally probable, that his original wish was to induce Nikias or the stratêgi to take the command of it, as in the case of Sphakteria. Nikias, doubtless, opposed the expedition as much as he could: when it was determined by the people, in spite of his opposition, he would peremptorily decline the command for himself, and would do all he could to force it upon Kleon, or at least would be better pleased to see it under his command than under that of any one else. He would be not less glad to exonerate himself from a dangerous service than to see his rival entangled in it; and he would have before him the same alternative which he and his friends had contemplated with so much satisfaction in the affair of Sphakteria: either the expedition would succeed, in which case Amphipolis would be taken, or it would fail, and the consequence would be the ruin of Kleon. The last of the two was really the more probable at Amphipolis, as Nikias had erroneously imagined it to be at Sphakteria.

It is easy to see, however, that an expedition proposed under these circumstances by Kleon, though it might command a majority in the public assembly, would have a large proportion of the citizens unfavorable to it, and even wishing that it might fail. Moreover, Kleon had neither talents nor experience for commanding an army, and the being engaged under his command in fighting against the ablest officer of the time, could inspire no confidence to any man in putting on his armor. From all these circumstances united, political as well as military, we are not surprised to hear that the hoplites whom he took out with him went with much reluctance.[729] An ignorant general, with unwilling[p. 462] soldiers, many of them politically disliking him, stood little chance of wresting Amphipolis from Brasidas: but had Nikias or the stratêgi done their duty, and carried the entire force of the city under competent command to the same object, the issue would probably have been different as to gain and loss; certainly very different as to dishonor.

Kleon started from Peiræus, apparently towards the beginning of August, with twelve hundred Athenian, Lemnian, and Imbrian hoplites, and three hundred horsemen, troops of excellent quality and condition: besides an auxiliary force of allies, number not exactly known, and thirty triremes. This armament was not of magnitude at all equal to the taking of Amphipolis; for Brasidas had equal numbers, besides all the advantages of the position. But it was a part of the scheme of Kleon, on arriving at Eion, to procure Macedonian and Thracian reinforcements before he commenced his attack. He first halted in his voyage near Skiônê, from which place he took away such of the hoplites as could be spared from the blockade. He next sailed across the gulf from Pallênê to the Sithonian peninsula, to a place called the Harbor of the Kolophonians, near Torônê.[730] Having here learned that neither Brasidas himself, nor any considerable Peloponnesian garrison were present in Torônê, he landed his forces and marched to attack the town, sending ten triremes at the same time round a promontory which separated the harbor of the Kolophonians from Torônê, to assail the latter place from seaward. It happened that Brasidas, desiring to enlarge the fortified circle of Torônê, had broken down a portion of the old wall, and employed the materials in building a new and larger wall inclosing the proasteion, or suburb: this new wall appears to have been still incomplete and in an imperfect state of defence. Pasi[p. 463]telidas, the Peloponnesian commander, resisted the attack of the Athenians as long as he could; but when already beginning to give way, he saw the ten Athenian triremes sailing into the harbor, which was hardly guarded at all. Abandoning the defence of the suburb, he hastened to repel these new assailants, but came too late, so that the town was entered from both sides at once. Brasidas, who was not far off, rendered aid with the utmost celerity, but was yet at five miles’ distance from the city when he learned the capture, and was obliged to retire unsuccessfully. Pasitelidas the commander, with the Peloponnesian garrison and the Torônæan male population, were despatched as prisoners to Athens; while the Torônæan women and children, by a fate but too common in those days, were sold as slaves.[731]

After this not unimportant success, Kleon sailed round the promontory of Athos to Eion at the mouth of the Strymon, within three miles of Amphipolis. From hence, in execution of his original scheme, he sent envoys to Perdikkas, urging him to lend effective aid as the ally of Athens in the attack of Amphipolis, with his whole forces; and to Pollês the king of the Thracian Odomantes, inviting him also to come with as many Thracian mercenaries as could be levied. The Edonians, the Thracian tribe nearest to Amphipolis, took part with Brasidas: and the local influence of the banished Thucydidês would no longer be at the service of Athens, much less at the service of Kleon. Awaiting the expected reinforcements, Kleon employed himself, first in an attack upon Stageirus in the Strymonic gulf, which was repulsed; next upon Galêpsus, on the coast opposite the island of Thasos, which was successful. But the reinforcements did not at once arrive, and being too weak to attack Amphipolis without them, he was obliged to remain inactive at Eion; while Brasidas on his side made no movement out of Amphipolis, but contented himself with keeping constant watch over the forces of Kleon, the view of which he commanded from his station on the hill of Kerdylion, on the western bank of the river-communication with Amphipolis by the bridge. Some days elapsed in such inaction on both sides; but the Athenian hoplites, becoming impatient of doing nothing, soon began to give vent to those feelings of[p. 464] dislike which they had brought out from Athens against their general, “whose ignorance and cowardice (says the historian) they contrasted with the skill and bravery of his opponent.”[732] Athenian hoplites, if they felt such a sentiment, were not likely to refrain from manifesting it; and Kleon was presently made aware of the fact in a manner sufficiently painful to force him against his will into some movement; which, however, he did not intend to be anything else than a march for the purpose of surveying the ground all round the city, and a demonstration to escape the appearance of doing nothing, being aware that it was impossible to attack the place with any effect before his reinforcements arrived.

To comprehend the important incidents which followed, it is necessary to say a few words on the topography of Amphipolis, as far as we can understand it on the imperfect evidence before us. That city was placed on the left bank of the Strymon, on a conspicuous hill around which the river makes a bend, first in a southwesterly direction, then, after a short course to the southward, back in a southeasterly direction. Amphipolis had for its only artificial fortification one long wall, which began near the point northeast of the town, where the river narrows again into a channel, after passing through the lake Kerkinitis, ascended along the eastern side of the hill, crossing the ridge which connects it with Mount Pangæus, and then descended so as to touch the river again at another point south of the town; thus being, as it were, a string to the highly-bent bow formed by the river. On three sides therefore, north, west, and south, the city was defended only by the Strymon, and was thus visible without any intervening wall to spectators from the side of the sea (south), as well as from the side of the continent (or west and north).[733] At some[p. 465] little distance below the point where the wall touched the river south of the city, was the bridge,[734] a communication of great importance for the whole country, which connected the territory of Amphip[p. 466]olis with that of Argilus. On the western or right bank of the river, bordering it, and forming an outer bend corresponding to the bend of the river, was situated Mount Kerdylium: in fact, the course of the Strymon is here determined by these two steep eminences, Kerdylium on the west, and the hill of Amphipolis on the east, between which it flows. At the time when Brasidas first took the place, the bridge was totally unconnected with the long city wall; but during the intervening eighteen months, he had erected a palisade work—probably an earthen bank topped with a palisade—connecting the two. By means of this palisade, the bridge was thus at the time of Kleon’s expedition comprehended within the fortifications of the city; and Brasidas, while keeping watch on Mount Kerdylium, could pass over whenever he chose into the city, without any fear of impediment.[735]

[p. 467]

In the march which Kleon now undertook, he went up to the top of the ridge which runs nearly in an easterly direction from Amphipolis to Mount Pangæus, in order to survey the city and its adjoining ground on the northern and northeastern side which he had not yet seen; that is, the side towards the lake, and towards Thrace,[736] which was not visible from the lower ground near Eion. The road which he was to take from Eion lay at a small distance eastward of the city long wall, and from the palisade which connected that wall with the bridge. But he had no expectation of being attacked in his march, the rather as Brasidas with the larger portion of his force was visible on Mount Kerdylium: moreover, the gates of Amphipolis were all shut, not a man was on the wall, nor were any symptoms[p. 468] of movement to be detected. As there was no evidence before him of intention to attack, he took no precautions, and marched in careless and disorderly array.[737] Having reached the top of the ridge, and posted his army on the strong eminence fronting the highest portion of the Long Wall, he surveyed at leisure the lake before him, and the side of the city which lay towards Thrace, or towards Myrkinus, Drabêskus, etc., thus viewing all the descending portion of the Long Wall northward towards the Strymon. The perfect quiescence of the city imposed upon and even astonished him: it seemed altogether undefended, and he almost fancied that, if he had brought battering-engines, he could have taken it forthwith.[738] Impressed with the belief that[p. 469] there was no enemy prepared to fight, he took his time to survey the ground; while his soldiers became more and more relaxed and careless in their trim, some even advancing close up to the walls and gates.

But this state of affairs was soon materially changed. Brasidas knew that the Athenian hoplites would not long endure the tedium of absolute inaction, and he calculated that by affecting extreme backwardness and apparent fear, he should seduce Kleon into some incautious movement of which advantage might be taken. His station on Mount Kerdylium enabled him to watch the march of the Athenian army from Eion, and when he saw them pass up along the road outside of the Long Wall of Amphipolis,[739] he immediately crossed the river with his forces and entered the town. But it was not his intention to march out and offer them open battle; for his army, though equal in number to theirs, was extremely inferior in arms and equipment;[740] in which points the Athenian force now present was so admirably provided, that his own men would not think themselves a match for it, if the two armies faced each other in open field. He relied altogether on the effect of sudden sally and well-timed surprise, when the Athenians should have been thrown into a feeling of contemptuous security by an exaggerated show of impotence in their enemy.

Having offered the battle sacrifice at the temple of Athênê, Brasidas called his men together to address to them the usual encouragements prior to an engagement. After appealing to the Dorian pride of his Peloponnesians, accustomed to triumph over Ionians, he explained to them his design of relying upon a bold and sudden movement with comparatively small numbers, against the Athenian army when not prepared for it,[741] when their courage[p. 470] was not wound up to battle pitch, and when, after carelessly mounting the hill to survey the ground, they were thinking only of quietly returning to quarters. He himself at the proper moment would rush out from one gate, and be foremost in conflict with the enemy: Klearidas, with that bravery which became him as a Spartan, would follow the example by sallying out from another gate: and the enemy, taken thus unawares, would probably make little resistance. For the Amphipolitans, this day and their own behavior would determine whether they were to be allies of Lacedæmon, or slaves of Athens, perhaps sold into captivity or even put to death as a punishment for their recent revolt.

These preparations, however, could not be completed in secrecy; for Brasidas and his army were perfectly visible while descending the hill of Kerdylium, crossing the bridge and entering Amphipolis, to the Athenian scouts without: moreover, so conspicuous was the interior of the city to spectators without, that the temple of Athênê, and Brasidas with its ministers around him, performing the ceremony of sacrifice, was distinctly recognized. The fact was made known to Kleon as he stood on the high ridge taking his survey, while at the same time those who had gone near to the gates reported that the feet of many horses and men were beginning to be seen under them, as if preparing for a sally.[742] He[p. 471] himself went close to the gate, and satisfied himself of this circumstance: we must recollect that there was no defender on the walls, and no danger from missiles. Anxious to avoid coming to any real engagement before his reinforcements should arrive, he at once gave orders for retreat, which he thought might be accomplished before the attack from within could be fully organized; for he imagined that a considerable number of troops would be marched out, and ranged in battle order, before the attack was actually begun, not dreaming that the sally would be instantaneous, made with a mere handful of men. Orders having been proclaimed to wheel to the left, and retreat in column on the left flank towards Eion, Kleon, who was himself on the top of the hill with the right wing, waited only to see his left and centre actually in march on the road to Eion, and then directed his right also to wheel to the left and follow them.

The whole Athenian army were thus in full retreat, marching in a direction nearly parallel to the Long Wall of Amphipolis, with their right or unshielded side exposed to the enemy, when Brasidas, looking over the southernmost gates of the Long Wall with his small detachment ready marshalled near him, burst out into contemptuous exclamations on the disorder of their array.[743] “These men will not stand us; I see it by the quivering of their spears and of their heads. Men who reel about in that way, never stand an assailing enemy. Open the gates for me instantly, and let us sally out with confidence.”

With that, both the gate of the Long Wall nearest to the palisade, and the adjoining gate of the palisade itself, were suddenly thrown open, and Brasidas with his one hundred and fifty chosen[p. 472] soldiers issued out through them to attack the retreating Athenians. Running rapidly down the straight road which joined laterally the road towards Eion along which the Athenians were marching, he charged their central division on the right flank:[744] their left wing had already got beyond him on the road towards Eion. Taken completely unprepared, conscious of their own disorderly array, and astounded at the boldness of their enemy, the Athenians of the centre were seized with panic, made not the least resistance, and presently fled. Even the Athenian left, though not attacked at all, instead of halting to lend assistance, shared the panic and fled in disorder. Having thus disorganized this part of the army, Brasidas passed along the line to press his attack on the Athenian right: but in this movement he was mortally wounded and carried off the field, unobserved by his enemies. Meanwhile Klearidas, sallying forth from the Thracian gate, had attacked the Athenian right on the ridge opposite to him, immediately after it began its retreat. But the soldiers on the Athe[p. 473]nian right had probably seen the previous movement of Brasidas against the other division, and though astonished at the sudden danger, had thus a moment’s warning, before they were themselves assailed, to halt and take close rank on the hill. Klearidas here found a considerable resistance, in spite of the desertion of Kleon; who, more astonished than any man in his army by a catastrophe so unlooked for, lost his presence of mind and fled at once; but was overtaken by a Thracian peltast from Myrkinus and slain. His soldiers on the right wing, however, repelled two or three attacks in front from Klearidas, and maintained their ground, until at length the Chalkidian cavalry and the peltasts from Myrkinus, having come forth out of the gates, assailed them with missiles in flank and rear so as to throw them into disorder. The whole Athenian army was thus put to flight; the left hurrying to Eion, the men of the right dispersing and seeking safety among the hilly grounds of Pangæus in their rear. Their sufferings and loss in the flight, from the hands of the pursuing peltasts and cavalry, were most severe: and when they at last again mustered at Eion, not only the commander Kleon, but six hundred Athenian hoplites, half of the force sent out, were found missing.[745]

So admirably had the attack been concerted, and so entire was its success, that only seven men perished on the side of the victors. But of those seven, one was the gallant Brasidas himself, who being carried into Amphipolis, lived just long enough to learn the complete victory of his troops and then expired. Great and bitter was the sorrow which his death occasioned throughout Thrace, especially among the Amphipolitans. He received, by special decree, the distinguished honor of interment within their city, the universal habit being to inter even the most eminent deceased persons in a suburb without the walls. All the allies attended his funeral in arms and with military honors: his tomb was encircled by a railing, and the space immediately fronting it[p. 474] was consecrated as the great agora of the city, which was remodelled accordingly. He was also proclaimed œkist, or founder, of Amphipolis, and as such, received heroic worship with annual games and sacrifices to his honor.[746] The Athenian Agnon, the real founder and originally recognized œkist of the city, was stripped of all his commemorative honors and expunged from the remembrance of the people: his tomb and the buildings connected with it, together with every visible memento of his name, being destroyed. Full of hatred as the Amphipolitans now were towards Athens,—and not merely of hatred, but of fear, since the loss which they had just sustained of their saviour and protector,—they felt repugnance to the idea of rendering farther worship to an Athenian œkist. Nor was it convenient to keep up such a religious link with Athens, now that they were forced to look anxiously to Lacedæmon for assistance. Klearidas, as governor of Amphipolis, superintended those numerous alterations in the city which this important change required, together with the erection of the trophy, just at the spot where Brasidas had first charged the Athenians; while the remaining armament of Athens, having obtained the usual truce and buried their dead, returned home without farther operations.

There are few battles recorded in history wherein the disparity and contrast of the two generals opposed has been so manifest,—consummate skill and courage on the one side against ignorance and panic on the other. On the singular ability and courage of Brasidas there can be but one verdict of unqualified admiration: but the criticism passed by Thucydidês on Kleon, here as elsewhere, cannot be adopted without reserves. He tells us that Kleon undertook his march, from Eion up to the hill in front of Amphipolis, in the same rash and confident spirit with which he had[p. 475] embarked on the enterprise against Pylus, in the blind confidence that no one would resist him.[747] Now I have already, in a former chapter, shown grounds for concluding that the anticipations of Kleon respecting the capture of Sphakteria, far from being marked by any spirit of unmeasured presumption, were sober and judicious, realized to the letter without any unlooked-for aid from fortune. Nor are the remarks, here made by Thucydidês on that affair, more reasonable than the judgment on it in his former chapter; for it is not true, as he here implies, that Kleon expected no resistance in Sphakteria: he calculated on resistance, but knew that he had force sufficient to overcome it. His fault even at Amphipolis, great as that fault was, did not consist in rashness and presumption. This charge at least is rebutted by the circumstance, that he himself wished to make no aggressive movement until his reinforcements should arrive, and that he was only constrained, against his own will, to abandon his intended temporary inactivity during that interval, by the angry murmurs of his soldiers, who reproached him with ignorance and backwardness, the latter quality being the reverse of that with which he is branded by Thucydidês.

When Kleon was thus driven to do something, his march up to the top of the hill, for the purpose of reconnoitring the ground, was not in itself unreasonable, and might have been accomplished in perfect safety, if he had kept his army in orderly array, prepared for contingencies. But he suffered himself to be completely out-generalled and overreached by that simulated consciousness of impotence and unwillingness to fight, which Brasidas took care to present to him. Among all military stratagems, this has perhaps been the most frequently practised with success against inexperienced generals, who are thrown off their guard and induced to neglect precaution, not because they are naturally more rash or presumptuous than ordinary men, but because nothing except either a high order of intellect, or special practice and training, will enable a man to keep steadily present to his mind[p. 476] liabilities even real and serious, when there is no discernible evidence to suggest their approach; much more when there is positive evidence, artfully laid out by a superior enemy, to create belief in their absence. A fault substantially the same had been committed by Thucydidês himself and his colleague Euklês a year and a half before, when they suffered Brasidas to surprise the Strymonian bridge and Amphipolis: not even taking common precautions, nor thinking it necessary to keep the fleet at Eion. They were not men peculiarly rash and presumptuous, but ignorant and unpractised, in a military sense; incapable of keeping before them dangerous contingencies which they perfectly knew, simply because there was no present evidence of approaching explosion.

This military incompetence, which made Kleon fall into the trap laid for him by Brasidas, also made him take wrong measures against the danger, when he unexpectedly discovered at last that the enemy within were preparing to attack him. His fatal error consisted in giving instant order for retreat, under the vain hope that he could get away before the enemy’s attack could be brought to bear.[748] An abler officer, before he commenced the retreating march so close to the hostile walls, would have taken care to marshal his men in proper array, to warn and address them with the usual harangue, and to wind up their courage to the fighting-point: for up to that moment they had no idea of being called upon to fight; and the courage of Grecian hoplites, taken thus unawares while hurrying to get away in disorder visible both to themselves and their enemies, without any of the usual preliminaries of battle, was but too apt to prove deficient. To turn the right or unshielded flank to the enemy, was unavoidable from the direction of the retreating movement; nor is it reasonable to blame Kleon for this, as some historians have done, or for causing his right wing to move too soon in following the lead of the left, as Dr. Arnold seems to think. The grand fault seems to have consisted in not waiting to marshal his men and prepare them for standing fight during their retreat. Let us add, however, and the remark, if it serves to explain Kleon’s idea of being able to get away before he was actually assailed, counts[p. 477] as a double compliment to the judgment as well as boldness of Brasidas, that no other Lacedæmonian general of that day perhaps, not even Demosthenês, the most enterprising general of Athens, would have ventured upon an attack with so very small a band, relying altogether upon the panic produced by his sudden movement.

But the absence of military knowledge and precaution is not the worst of Kleon’s faults on this occasion. His want of courage at the moment of conflict is yet more lamentable, and divests his end of that personal sympathy which would otherwise have accompanied it. A commander who has been out-generalled is under a double force of obligation to exert and expose himself, to the uttermost, in order to retrieve the consequences of his own mistakes. He will thus at least preserve his own personal honor, whatever censure he may deserve on the score of deficient knowledge and judgment.[749]

What is said about the disgraceful flight of Kleon himself, must be applied, with hardly less severity of criticism, to the Athenian hoplites under him. They behaved in a manner altogether unworthy of the reputation of their city; especially the left wing, which seems to have broken and run away without waiting to be attacked. And when we read in Thucydidês, that the men who thus disgraced themselves were among the best, and the best-armed hoplites in Athens; that they came out unwillingly under Kleon; that they began their scornful murmurs against him before he had committed any fault, despising him for backwardness when he was yet not strong enough to attempt anything serious, and was only manifesting a reasonable prudence in waiting the arrival of expected reinforcements; when we read this, we shall be led to compare the expedition against Amphipolis with former manœuvres respecting the attack of Sphakteria, and to discern other causes for its failure besides the military incompetence of the commander. These hoplites brought out with them from Athens the feelings prevalent among the political adversaries of Kleon. The expedition was proposed and carried by him, contrary to their wishes: they could not prevent it, but[p. 478] their opposition enfeebled it from the beginning, kept within too narrow limits the force assigned to it, and was one main reason which frustrated its success.

Had Periklês been alive, Amphipolis might perhaps still have been lost, since its capture was the fault of the officers employed to defend it. But if lost, it would probably have been attacked and recovered with the same energy as the revolted Samos had been, with the full force and the best generals that Athens could furnish. With such an armament under good officers, there was nothing at all impracticable in the reconquest of the place; especially as at that time it had no defence on three sides except the Strymon, and might thus be approached by Athenian ships on that navigable river. The armament of Kleon,[750] even if his reinforcements had arrived, was hardly sufficient for the purpose. But Periklês would have been able to concentrate upon it the whole strength of the city, without being paralyzed by the contentions of political party: he would have seen as clearly as Kleon, that the place could only be recovered by force, and that its recovery was the most important object to which Athens could devote her energies.

It was thus that the Athenians, partly from political intrigue, partly from the incompetence of Kleon, underwent a disastrous defeat instead of carrying Amphipolis. But the death of Brasidas converted their defeat into a substantial victory. There remained no Spartan either like or second to that eminent man, either as a soldier or a conciliating politician; none who could replace him in the confidence and affection of the allies of Athens in Thrace; none who could prosecute those enterprising plans against Athens on her unshielded side, which he had first shown[p. 479] to be practicable. The fears of Athens, and the hopes of Sparta, in respect to the future, disappeared alike with him. The Athenian generals, Phormio and Demosthenês, had both of them acquired among the Akarnanians an influence personal to themselves, apart from their post and from their country: but the career of Brasidas, exhibited an extent of personal ascendency and admiration, obtained as well as deserved, such as had never before been paralleled by any military chieftain in Greece: and Plato might well select him as the most suitable historical counterpart to the heroic Achilles.[751] All the achievements of Brasidas were his own individually, with nothing more than bare encouragement, sometimes even without encouragement, from his country. And when we recollect the strict and narrow routine in which as a Spartan he had been educated, so fatal to the development of everything like original thought or impulse, and so completely estranged from all experience of party or political discussion, we are amazed at his resource and flexibility of character, his power of adapting himself to new circumstances and new persons, and his felicitous dexterity in making himself the rallying-point of opposite political parties in each of the various cities which he acquired. The combination “of every sort of practical excellence,” valor, intelligence, probity, and gentleness of dealing, which his character presented, was never forgotten among the subject-allies of Athens, and procured for other Spartan officers in subsequent years favorable presumptions, which their conduct was seldom found to realize.[752] At the time when Brasidas perished, in the flower of his age, he was unquestionably the first man in Greece; and though it is not given to us to predict what he would have become had he lived, we may be sure that the future course of the war would have been sensibly modified; perhaps even to the advantage of Athens, since she might have had sufficient occupation at home to keep her from the disastrous enterprise in Sicily.

Thucydidês seems to take pleasure in setting forth the gallant exploits of Brasidas, from the first at Methônê to the last at Amphipolis, not less than the dark side of Kleon; both, though in different senses, the causes of his banishment. He never[p. 480] mentions the latter except in connection with some proceeding represented as unwise or discreditable. The barbarities which the offended majesty of empire thought itself entitled to practise in ancient times against dependencies revolted and reconquered, reach their maximum in the propositions against Mitylênê and Skiônê: both of them are ascribed to Kleon by name as their author. But when we come to the slaughter of the Melians, equally barbarous, and worse in respect to grounds of excuse, inasmuch as the Melians had never been subjects of Athens, we find Thucydidês mentioning the deed without naming the proposer.[753]

Respecting the foreign policy of Kleon, the facts already narrated will enable the reader to form an idea of it as compared with that of his opponents. I have shown grounds for believing that Thucydidês has forgotten his usual impartiality in criticizing this personal enemy; that in regard to Sphakteria, Kleon was really one main and indispensable cause of procuring for his country the greatest advantage which she obtained throughout the whole war; and that in regard to his judgment as advocating the prosecution of war, three different times must be distinguished: 1. After the first blockade of the hoplites in Sphakteria; 2. After the capture of the island; 3. After the expiration of the one year truce. On the earliest of those three occasions he was wrong, for he seems to have shut the door on all possibilities of negotiation, by his manner of dealing with the Lacedæmonian envoys. On the second occasion, he had fair and plausible grounds to offer on behalf of his opinion, though it turned out unfortunate: moreover, at that time, all Athens was warlike, and Kleon is not to be treated as the peculiar adviser of that policy. On the third and last occasion, after the expiration of the truce, the political counsel of Kleon was right, judicious, and truly Periklêan, much surpassing in wisdom that of his opponents. We shall see in the coming chapters how those opponents managed the affairs of the state after his death; how Nikias threw away the interests of Athens in the enforcement of the conditions of peace; how Nikias and Alkibiadês together shipwrecked the power of their country on the shores of Syracuse. And when we judge the demagogue Kleon in this[p. 481] comparison, we shall find ground for remarking that Thucydidês is reserved and even indulgent towards the errors and vices of other statesmen, harsh only towards those of his accuser.

As to the internal policy of Kleon, and his conduct as a politician in Athenian constitutional life, we have but little trustworthy evidence. There exists, indeed, a portrait of him, drawn in colors broad and glaring, most impressive to the imagination, and hardly effaceable from the memory; the portrait in the “Knights” of Aristophanês. It is through this representation that Kleon has been transmitted to posterity, crucified by a poet who admits himself to have had a personal grudge against him, just as he has been commemorated in the prose of an historian whose banishment he had proposed. Of all the productions of Aristophanês, so replete with comic genius throughout, the “Knights” is the most consummate and irresistible; the most distinct in its character, symmetry, and purpose. Looked at with a view to the object of its author, both in reference to the audience and to Kleon, it deserves the greatest possible admiration, and we are not surprised to learn that it obtained the first prize. It displays the maximum of that which wit combined with malice can achieve, in covering an enemy with ridicule, contempt, and odium. Dean Swift would have desired nothing worse, even for Ditton and Winston. The old man, Demos of Pnyx, introduced on the stage as personifying the Athenian people,—Kleon, brought on as his newly-bought Paphlagonian slave, who by coaxing, lying, impudent and false denunciation of others, has gained his master’s ear, and heaps ill-usage upon every one else, while he enriches himself,—the Knights, or chief members of what we may call the Athenian aristocracy, forming the Chorus of the piece as Kleon’s pronounced enemies,—the sausage-seller from the market-place, who, instigated by Nikias find Demosthenês along with these Knights, overdoes Kleon in all his own low arts, and supplants him in the favor of Demos; all this, exhibited with inimitable vivacity of expression, forms the masterpiece and glory of libellous comedy. The effect produced upon the Athenian audience when this piece was represented at the Lenæan festival, January B.C. 424, about six months after the capture of Sphakteria, with Kleon himself and most of the real[p. 482] Knights present, must have been intense beyond what we can now easily imagine. That Kleon could maintain himself after this humiliating exposure, is no small proof of his mental vigor and ability. It does not seem to have impaired his influence, at least not permanently; for not only do we see him the most effective opponent of peace during the next two years, but there is ground for believing that the poet himself found it convenient to soften his tone towards this powerful enemy.

So ready are most writers to find Kleon guilty, that they are satisfied with Aristophanês as a witness against him: though no other public man, of any age or nation, has ever been condemned upon such evidence. No man thinks of judging Sir Robert Walpole, or Mr. Fox, or Mirabeau, from the numerous lampoons put in circulation against them: no man will take measure of a political Englishman from Punch, or of a Frenchman from the Charivari. The unrivalled comic merit of the “Knights” of Aristophanês is only one reason the more for distrusting the resemblance of its picture to the real Kleon. We have means too of testing the candor and accuracy of Aristophanês by his delineation of Sokratês, whom he introduced in the comedy of “Clouds” in the year after that of the “Knights.” As a comedy, the “Clouds” stands second only to the “Knights”: as a picture of Sokratês, it is little better than pure fancy: it is not even a caricature, but a totally different person. We may indeed perceive single features of resemblance; the bare feet, and the argumentative subtlety, belong to both; but the entire portrait is such, that if it bore a different name, no one would think of comparing it with Sokratês, whom we know well from other sources. With such an analogy before us, not to mention what we know generally of the portraits of Periklês by these authors, we are not warranted in treating the portrait of Kleon as a likeness, except on points where there is corroborative evidence. And we may add, that some of the hits against him, where we can accidentally test their pertinence, are decidedly not founded in fact; as, for example, where the poet accuses Kleon of having deliberately and cunningly robbed Demosthenês of his laurels in the enterprise against Sphakteria.[754]

[p. 483]

In the prose of Thucydidês, we find Kleon described as a dishonest politician, a wrongful accuser of others, the most violent of all the citizens:[755] throughout the verse of Aristophanês, these same charges are set forth with his characteristic emphasis, but others are also superadded; Kleon practises the basest artifices and deceptions to gain favor with the people, steals the public money, receives bribes, and extorts compositions from private persons by wholesale, and thus enriches himself under pretence of zeal for the public treasury. In the comedy of the Acharnians, represented one year earlier than the Knights, the poet alludes with great delight to a sum of five talents, which Kleon had been compelled “to disgorge”: a present tendered to him by the insular subjects of Athens, if we may believe Theopompus, for the purpose of procuring a remission of their tribute, and which the Knights, whose evasions of military service he had exposed, compelled him to relinquish.[756]

But when we put together the different heads of indictment accumulated by Aristophanês, it will be found that they are not easily reconcilable one with the other; for an Athenian, whose temper led him to violent crimination of others, at the inevitable price of multiplying and exasperating personal enemies, would find it peculiarly dangerous, if not impossible, to carry on peculation for his own account. If, on the other hand, he took the latter turn, he would be inclined to purchase connivance from others even by winking at real guilt on their part, far from making himself conspicuous as a calumniator of innocence. We must therefore discuss the side of the indictment which is indicated in Thucydidês; not Kleon, as truckling to the people and cheating for his own pecuniary profit (which is certainly not the character implied in his speech about the Mitylenæans, as given[p. 484] to us by the historian),[757] but Kleon as a man of violent temper and fierce political antipathies, a bitter speaker, and sometimes dishonest in his calumnies against adversaries. These are the qualities which, in all countries of free debate, go to form what is called a great opposition speaker. It was thus that the elder Cato, “the universal biter, whom Persephonê was afraid even to admit into Hades after his death,” was characterized at Rome, even by the admission of his admirers to some extent, and in a still stronger manner by those who were unfriendly to him, as Thucydidês was to Kleon.[758] In Cato, such a temper was not[p. 485] inconsistent with a high sense of public duty. And Plutarch recounts an anecdote respecting Kleon, that, on first beginning his political career, he called his friends together, and dissolved his intimacy with them, conceiving that private friendships would distract him from his paramount duty to the commonwealth.[759]

Moreover, the reputation of Kleon as a frequent and unmeasured accuser of others, may be explained partly by a passage of his enemy Aristophanês: a passage the more deserving of confidence as a just representation of fact, since it appears in a comedy (the “Frogs”) represented (405 B.C.) fifteen years after the death of Kleon, and five years after that of Hyperbolus, when the poet had less motive for misrepresentations against either. In the “Frogs,” the scene is laid in Hades, whither the god Dionysus goes, in the attire of Hêraklês and along with his slave Xanthias, for the purpose of bringing up again to earth the deceased poet Euripidês. Among the incidents, Xanthias, in the attire which his master had worn, is represent