The Project Gutenberg eBook of History of Greece, Volume 08 (of 12)

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Title: History of Greece, Volume 08 (of 12)

Author: George Grote

Release date: May 21, 2016 [eBook #52119]

Language: English



E-text prepared by Ramon Pajares Box, Adrian Mastronardi,
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team
from page images generously made available by
Internet Archive/American Libraries


Note: Images of the original pages are available through Internet Archive/American Libraries. See


Transcriber's note

Table of Contents




Book cover






[p. iii]


I had hoped to be able, in this Volume, to carry the history of Greece down as far as the battle of Knidus; but I find myself disappointed.

A greater space than I anticipated has been necessary, not merely to do justice to the closing events of the Peloponnesian war, especially the memorable scenes at Athens after the battle of Arginusæ, but also to explain my views both respecting the Sophists and respecting Sokratês.

It has been hitherto common to treat the sophists as corruptors of the Greek mind, and to set forth the fact of such corruption, increasing as we descend downwards from the great invasion of Xerxês, as historically certified. Dissenting as I do from former authors, and believing that Grecian history has been greatly misconceived, on both these points, I have been forced to discuss the evidences, and exhibit the reasons for my own way of thinking, at considerable length.

To Sokratês I have devoted one entire Chapter. No smaller space would have sufficed to lay before the reader any tolerable picture of that illustrious man, the rarest intellectual phenomenon of ancient times, and originator of the most powerful scientific impulse which the Greek mind ever underwent.

G. G.

London, February, 1850.

[p. v]






Rally of Athens, during the year after the defeat at Syracuse. B.C. 412. — Commencement of the conspiracy of the Four Hundred at Athens — Alkibiadês. — Order from Sparta to kill Alkibiadês. — He escapes, retires to Tissaphernês, and becomes adviser of the Persians. — He advises the satrap to assist neither of the Grecian parties heartily — but his advice leans towards Athens, with a view to his own restoration. — Alkibiadês acts as negotiator for Tissaphernês at Magnesia. — Diminution of the rate of pay furnished by Tissaphernês to the Peloponnesians. — Alkibiadês opens correspondence with the Athenian officers at Samos. He originates the scheme of an oligarchical revolution at Athens. — Conspiracy arranged between the Athenian officer and Alkibiadês. — Oligarchical Athenians — the hetæries, or political clubs. Peisander is sent to push forward the conspiracy at Athens. — Credulity of the oligarchical conspirators. — Opposition of Phrynichus at Samos to the conspirators, and to Alkibiadês. — Manœuvres and counter-manœuvres of Phrynichus and Alkibiadês. — Proceedings of Peisander at Athens — strong opposition among the people both to the conspiracy and to the restoration of Alkibiadês. — Unwilling vote of the assembly to relinquish their democracy, under the promise of Persian aid for the war. Peisander is sent back to negotiate with Alkibiadês. — Peisander brings the oligarchical clubs at Athens into organized action against the democracy. — Peisander leaves Athens for Samos — Antiphon takes the management of the oligarchical conspiracy — Theramenês and Phrynichus. — Military operations near the Asiatic coast. — Negotiations of Peisander with Alkibiadês. — Tricks of Alkibiadês — he exaggerates his demands, with a view of breaking off the negotiation — indignation of the oligarchs against him. — Reconciliation between Tissaphernês and the Peloponnesians. — Third[p. vi] convention concluded between them. — Third convention compared with the two preceding. — Loss of Orôpus by Athens. — Peisander and his colleagues persist in the oligarchical conspiracy, without Alkibiadês. — They attempt to subvert the democracy at Samos — assassination of Hyperbolus and others. — The democracy at Samos is sustained by the Athenian armament. — The Athenian Parali — defeat of the oligarchical conspiracy at Samos. — The Paralus is sent to Athens with the news. — Progress of the oligarchical conspiracy at Athens — dextrous management of Antiphon. — Language of the conspirators — juggle about naming Five Thousand citizens to exercise the political franchise exclusively. — Assassination of the popular speakers by Antiphon and the oligarchical party. — Return of Peisander to Athens — oligarchical government established in several of the allied cities. — Consummation of the revolution at Athens — last public assembly at Kolônus. — Abolition of the Graphê Paranomôn. — New government proposed by Peisander — oligarchy of Four Hundred. — Fictitious and nominal aggregate called the Five Thousand. — The Four Hundred install themselves in the senate-house, expelling the senators by armed force. — Remarks on this revolution. — Attachment to constitutional forms at Athens — use made of this sentiment by Antiphon, to destroy the constitution. — Demagogues the indispensable counterpoise and antithesis to the oligarchs. — Proceedings of the Four Hundred in the government. — They make overtures for peace to Agis, and to the Spartans. — They send envoys to the camp at Samos. — First news of the revolution is conveyed to the camp by Chæreas — strong sentiment in the camp against the Four Hundred. — Ardent democratical manifestation, and emphatic oath, taken both by the Athenian armament at Samos and by the Samians. — The Athenian democracy is reconstituted by the armament — public assembly of the soldiers — new generals chosen. — Alkibiadês opens correspondence with the democratical armament at Samos. — Alkibiadês comes to Samos, on the invitation of the armament. — Confidence placed by the armament in his language and promises — they choose him one of their generals. — New position of Alkibiadês — present turn of his ambition. — The envoys of the Four Hundred reach Samos — are indignantly sent back by the armament. — Eagerness of the armament to sail to Peiræus — is discountenanced by Alkibiadês — his answer to the envoys. — Dissuasive advice of Alkibiadês — how far it is to be commended as sagacious. — Envoys sent from Argos to the “Athenian Demos at Samos.” — Return of the envoys of the Four Hundred from Samos to Athens — bad prospects of the oligarchy. — Mistrust and discord among the Four Hundred themselves. An opposition party formed under Theramenês. — Theramenês demands that the Five Thousand shall be made a reality. — Measures of Antiphon and the Four Hundred — their solicitations to Sparta — construction of the fort of Ectioneia, for the admission of a Spartan garrison. — Unaccountable backwardness of the Lacedæmonians. — Assassination of Phrynichus — Lacedæmonian fleet hovering near Peiræus. — Rising at Athens against the Four Hundred — demolition of the new fort at Ectioneia. — Decline of the Four Hundred — concessions made by them — renewal of the public assembly. — Lacedæmonian fleet threatens Peiræus — passes by to Eubœa. — Naval battle near Eretria — Athenians defeated — Eubœa revolts. — Dismay at Athens — her ruin inevitable, if the Lacedæmonians had acted with energy. — The Four Hundred are put down — the democracy in substance restored. — Moderation of political antipathies, and patriotic spirit, now prevalent. — The Five Thousand — a number never exactly realized — were soon[p. vii] enlarged into universal citizenship. — Restoration of the complete democracy, all except pay. — Psephism of Demophantus — democratical oath prescribed. — Flight of most of the leaders of the Four Hundred to Dekeleia. — Theramenês stands forward to accuse the remaining leaders of the Four Hundred, especially in reference to the fort at Ectioneia, and the embassy to Sparta. — Antiphon tried, condemned, and executed. — Treatment of the Four Hundred generally. — Favorable judgment of Thucydidês on the conduct of the Athenians. — Oligarchy at Athens, democracy at Samos — contrast.




Embarrassed state of Athens after the Four Hundred. — Peloponnesian fleet — revolt of Abydos from Athens. — Strombichidês goes from Chios to the Hellespont — improved condition of the Chians. — Discontent in the Peloponnesian fleet at Milêtus. — Strombichidês returns from Chios to Samos. — Peloponnesian squadron and force at the Hellespont — revolt of Byzantium from Athens. — Discontent and meeting against Astyochus at Milêtus. — The Spartan commissioner Lichas enjoins the Milesians to obey Tissaphernês — discontent of the Milesians. — Mindarus supersedes Astyochus as admiral. — Phenician fleet at Aspendus — duplicity of Tissaphernês. — Alkibiadês at Aspendus — his double game between Tissaphernês and the Athenians. — Phenicians sent back from Aspendus without action — motives of Tissaphernês. — Mindarus leaves Milêtus with his fleet — goes to Chios — Thrasyllus and the Athenian fleet at Lesbos. — Mindarus eludes Thrasyllus, and reaches the Hellespont. — Athenian Hellespontine squadron escapes from Sestos in the night. — Thrasyllus and the Athenian fleet at the Hellespont. — Battle of Kynossêma — victory of the Athenian fleet. — Rejoicing at Athens for the victory. — Bridge across the Euripus, joining Eubœa with Bœotia. — Revolt of Kyzikus. — Zeal of Pharnabazus against Athens — importance of Persian money. — Tissaphernês again courts the Peloponnesians. — Alkibiadês returns from Aspendus to Samos. — Farther combats at the Hellespont. — Theramenês sent out with reinforcements from Athens. — Renewed troubles at Korkyra. — Alkibiadês is seized by Tissaphernês and confined at Sardis. — Escape of Alkibiadês — concentration of the Athenian fleet — Mindarus besieges Kyzikus. — Battle of Kyzikus — victory of the Athenians — Mindarus is slain, and the whole Peloponnesian fleet taken. — Discouragement of the Spartans — proposition to Athens for peace. — The Lacedæmonian Endius at Athens — his propositions for peace. — Refused by Athens — opposition of Kleophon. — Grounds of the opposition of Kleophon. — Question of policy as it then stood, between war and peace. — Strenuous aid of Pharnabazus to the Peloponnesians — Alkibiadês and the Athenian fleet at the Bosphorus. — The Athenians occupy Chrysopolis, and levy toll on the ships passing through the Bosphorus. — The Lacedæmonians are expelled from Thasus. — Klearchus the Lacedæmonian is sent to Byzantium. — Thrasyllus sent from Athens to Ionia. — Thrasyllus and Alkibiadês at the Hellespont.[p. viii] — Pylos is retaken by the Lacedæmonians — disgrace of the Athenian Anytus for not relieving it. — Capture of Chalkêdon by Alkibiadês and the Athenians. — Convention concluded by the Athenians with Pharnabazus. — Byzantium captured by the Athenians. — Pharnabazus conveys some Athenian envoys towards Susa, to make terms with the Great King.




Cyrus the younger — effects of his coming down to Asia Minor. — Pharnabazus detains the Athenian envoys. — Lysander — Lacedæmonian admiral in Asia. — Proceedings of the preceding admiral, Kratesippidas. — Lysander visits Cyrus at Sardis. — His dexterous policy — he acquires the peculiar esteem of Cyrus. — Abundant pay of the Peloponnesian armament, furnished by Cyrus. — Factions organized by Lysander among the Asiatic cities. — Proceedings of Alkibiadês in Thrace and Asia. — His arrival at Athens. — Feelings and details connected with his arrival. — Unanimous welcome with which he is received. — Effect produced upon Alkibiadês. — Sentiment of the Athenians towards him. — Disposition to refrain from dwelling on his previous wrongs, and to give him a new trial. — Mistaken confidence and intoxication of Alkibiadês. — He protects the celebration of the Eleusinian mysteries by land, against the garrison of Dekeleia. — Fruitless attempt of Agis to surprise Athens. — Alkibiadês sails with an armament to Asia — ill-success at Andros — entire failure in respect to hopes from Persia. — Lysander at Ephesus — his cautious policy, refusing to fight — disappointment of Alkibiadês. — Alkibiadês goes to Phokæa, leaving his fleet under the command of Antiochus — oppression by Alkibiadês at Kymê. — Complaints of the Kymæans at Athens — defeat of Antiochus at Notium during the absence of Alkibiadês. — Dissatisfaction and complaint in the armament against Alkibiadês. — Murmur and accusation against him transmitted to Athens. — Alteration of sentiment at Athens — displeasure of the Athenians against him. — Reasonable grounds of such alteration and displeasure. — Different behavior towards Nikias and towards Alkibiadês. — Alkibiadês is dismissed from his command — ten generals named to succeed him — he retires to the Chersonese. — Konon and his colleagues — capture and liberation of the Rhodian Dorieus by the Athenians. — Kallikratidas supersedes Lysander — his noble character. — Murmurs and ill-will against Kallikratidas — energy and rectitude whereby he represses them. — His spirited behavior in regard to the Persians. — His appeal to the Milesians — Pan-Hellenic feelings. — He fits out a commanding fleet — his success at Lesbos — he liberates the captives and the Athenian garrison at Methymna. — Noble character of this proceeding — exalted Pan-Hellenic patriotism of Kallikratidas. — He blocks up Konon and the Athenian fleet at Mitylênê. — Triumphant position of Kallikratidas. — Hopeless condition of Konon — his stratagem to send news to Athens and entreat relief. — Kallikratidas defeats the squadron of Diomedon. — Prodigious effort of the Athenians to relieve Konon — large Athenian fleet equipped and sent to Arginusæ — Kalli[p. ix]kratidas withdraws most of his fleet from Mitylênê, leaving Eteonikus to continue the blockade. — The two fleets marshalled for battle. — Comparative nautical skill, reversed since the beginning of the war. — Battle of Arginusæ — defeat of the Lacedæmonians — death of Kallikratidas. — It would have been better for Greece, and even for Athens, if Kallikratidas had been victor at Arginusæ. — Safe escape of Eteonikus and his fleet from Mitylênê to Chios. — Joy of Athens for the victory — indignation arising from the fact that the Athenian seamen on the disabled ships had not been picked up after the battle. — State of the facts about the disabled ships, and the men left in them. — Despatch of the generals to Athens, affirming that a storm had prevented them from saving the drowning men. — Justifiable wrath and wounded sympathy of the Athenians — extreme excitement among the relatives of the drowned men. — The generals are superseded, and directed to come home. — Examination of the generals before the senate and the people at Athens. — Debate in the public assembly — Theramenês accuses the generals as guilty of omitting to save the drowning men. — Effect of the accusation by Theramenês upon the assembly. — Defence of the generals — they affirm that they had commissioned Theramenês himself to undertake the duty. — Reason why the generals had not mentioned this commission in their despatch. — Different account given by Diodorus. — Probable version of the way in which the facts really occurred. — Justification of the generals — how far valid? — The alleged storm. Escape of Eteonikus. — Feelings of the Athenian public — how the case stood before them — decision adjourned to a future assembly. — Occurrence of the festival of Apaturia — the great family solemnity of the Ionic race. — Burst of feeling at the Apaturia — misrepresented by Xenophon. — Proposition of Kallixenus in the senate against the generals — adopted and submitted to the public assembly. — Injustice of the resolution — by depriving the generals of the customary securities for judicial trial. Psephism of Kannônus. — Opposition taken by Euryptolemus on the ground of constitutional form. — Graphê Paranomôn. — Excitement of the assembly — constitutional impediment overruled. — The prytanes refuse to put the question — their opposition overruled, all except that of Sokratês. — Altered temper of the assembly when the discussion had begun — amendment moved and developed by Euryptolemus. — Speech of Euryptolemus. — His amendment is rejected — the proposition of Kallixenus is carried. — The six generals are condemned and executed. — Injustice of the proceeding — violation of the democratical maxims and sentiments. — Earnest repentance of the people soon afterwards — disgrace and end of Kallixenus. — Causes of the popular excitement. — Generals — not innocent men.




Alleged propositions of peace from Sparta to Athens — doubtful. — Eteonikus at Chios — distress of his seamen — conspiracy suppressed. — Solicitations from Chios and elsewhere that Lysander should be sent out again. — Arrival of Lysander at Ephesus — zeal of his partisans[p. x] — Cyrus. — Violent revolution at Milêtus by the partisans of Lysander. — Cyrus goes to visit his dying father — confides his tributes to Lysander. — Inaction of the Athenian fleet after the battle of Arginusæ. — Operations of Lysander. — Both fleets at the Hellespont. — Athenian fleet at Ægospotami. — Battle of Ægospotami — surprise and capture of the entire Athenian fleet. — Capture of the Athenian commanders, all except Konon. — Slaughter of the captive generals and prisoners. — The Athenian fleet supposed to have been betrayed by its own commanders. — Distress and agony at Athens, when the defeat of Ægospotami was made known there. — Proceedings of Lysander. — Miserable condition of the Athenian kleruchs, and of the friends of Athens in the allied dependencies. — Suffering in Athens. — Amnesty proposed by Patrokleidês, and adopted. — Oath of mutual harmony sworn in the acropolis. — Arrival of Lysander. Athens is blocked up by sea and land. — Resolute holding-out of the Athenians — their propositions for capitulating are refused. — Pretences of Theramenês — he is sent as envoy — his studied delay. — Misery and famine in Athens — death of Kleophon. — The famine becomes intolerable — Theramenês is sent to obtain peace on any terms — debate about the terms at Sparta. — Peace is granted by Sparta, against the general sentiment of the allies. — Surrender of Athens — extreme wretchedness — number of deaths from famine. — Lysander enters Athens — return of the exiles — demolition of the Long Walls — dismantling of Peiræus — fleet given up. — The exiles and the oligarchical party in Athens — their triumphant behavior and devotion to Lysander. — Kritias and other exiles — past life of Kritias. — Kritias at the head of the oligarchs at Athens. — Oligarchical leaders named at Athens. — Seizure of Strombichidês and other eminent democrats. — Nomination of the Thirty, under the dictation of Lysander. — Conquest of Samos by Lysander — oligarchy restored there. — Triumphant return of Lysander to Sparta — his prodigious ascendency throughout Greece. — Proceedings of the Thirty at Athens — feelings of oligarchical men like Plato. — The Thirty begin their executions — Strombichidês and the imprisoned generals put to death — other democrats also. — Senate appointed by the Thirty — is only trusted to act under their intimidation. Numerous executions without trial. — The senate began by condemning willingly everyone brought before them. — Discord among the Thirty — dissentient views of Kritias and Theramenês. — Lacedæmonian garrison introduced — multiplied executions by Kritias and the Thirty. — Opposition of Theramenês to these measures — violence and rapacity still farther increased — rich and oligarchical men put to death. — Plan of Kritias to gain adherents by forcing men to become accomplices in deeds of blood — resistance of Sokratês. — Terror and discontent in the city — the Thirty nominate a body of Three Thousand as partisan hoplites. — They disarm the remaining hoplites of the city. — Murders and spoliations by the Thirty. Seizure of the Metics. — Seizure of Lysias the rhetor and his brother Polemarchus. The former escapes — the latter is executed. — Increased exasperation of Kritias and the majority of the Thirty against Theramenês. — Theramenês is denounced by Kritias in the Senate — speech of Kritias. — Reply of Theramenês. — Extreme violence of Kritias and the Thirty. — Condemnation of Theramenês. — Death of Theramenês — remarks on his character. — Increased tyranny of Kritias and the Thirty. — The Thirty forbid intellectual teaching. — Sokratês and the Thirty. — Growing insecurity of the Thirty. — Gradual alteration of feeling in Greece, since the capture of Athens. — Demand by the allies of Sparta to share in the spoils of the war — refused by[p. xi] Sparta. — Unparalleled ascendency of Lysander. — His overweening ambition — oppressive dominion of Sparta. — Disgust excited in Greece by the enormities of the Thirty. — Opposition to Lysander at Sparta — king Pausanias. — Kallikratidas compared with Lysander. — Sympathy at Thebes and elsewhere with the Athenian exiles. — Thrasybulus seizes Phylê — repulses the Thirty in their attack. — Farther success of Thrasybulus — the Thirty retreat to Athens. — Discord among the oligarchy at Athens — seizure of the Eleusinians. — Thrasybulus establishes himself in Peiræus. — The Thirty attack him and are defeated — Kritias is slain. — Colloquy during the burial-truce — language of Kleokritus. — Discouragement of the oligarchs at Athens — deposition of the Thirty and appointment of the Ten — the Thirty go to Eleusis. — The Ten carry on the war against the exiles. — Increasing strength of Thrasybulus. — Arrival of Lysander in Attica with a Spartan force. — Straightened condition of the exiles in Peiræus. — Spartan king Pausanias conducts an expedition into Attica; opposed to Lysander. — His dispositions unfavorable to the oligarchy; reaction against the Thirty. — Pausanias attacks Peiræus; his partial success. — Peace party in Athens — sustained by Pausanias. — Pacification granted by Pausanias and the Spartan authorities. — The Spartans evacuate Attica — Thrasybulus and the exiles are restored — harangue of Thrasybulus. — Restoration of the democracy. — Capture of Eleusis — entire reunion of Attica — flight of the survivors of the Thirty.




Miserable condition of Athens during the two preceding years. — Immediate relief caused by the restoration. — Unanimous sentiment towards the renewed democracy. — Amnesty — treatment of the Thirty and the Ten. — Disfranchising proposition of Phormisius. — The proposition rejected — speech composed by Lysias against it. — Revision of the laws — the Nomothetæ. — Decree, that no criminal inquiries should be carried back beyond the archonship of Eukleidês, B.C. 403. — Oath taken by the senate and the dikasts modified. — Farther precautions to insure the observance of the amnesty. — Absence of harsh reactionary feeling, both after the Thirty and after the Four Hundred. — Generous and reasonable behavior of the demos — contrasted with that of the oligarchy. — Care of the people to preserve the rights of private property. — Repayment to the Lacedæmonians. — The horsemen, or knights. — Revision of the laws — Nikomachus. — Adoption of the fuller Ionic alphabet, in place of the old Attic, for writing up the laws. — Memorable epoch of the archonship of Eukleidês. The rhetor Lysias. — Other changes at Athens — abolition of the Board of Hellenotamiæ — restriction of the right of citizenship. — Honorary reward to Thrasybulus and the exiles. — Position and views of Alkibiadês in Asia. — Artaxerxes Mnêmon, the new king of Persia. Plans of Cyrus — Alkibiadês wishes to reveal them at Susa. — The Lacedæmonians conjointly with Cyrus require Pharnabazus to put him to death. — Assassination of Alkibiadês by order of Pharnabazus. — Character of Alkibiadês.




Athens immediately after Eukleidês — political history little known. — Extraordinary development of dramatic genius. — Gradual enlargement of tragedy. — Abundance of new tragedy at Athens. — Accessibility of the theatre to the poorest citizens. — Theôrikon, or festival-pay. — Effect of the tragedies on the public mind of Athens. — Æschylus, Sophoklês, and Euripidês — modifications of tragedy. — Popularity arising from expenditure of money on the festivals. — Growth and development of comedy at Athens. — Comic poets before Aristophanês — Kratinus, etc. — Exposure of citizens by name in comedy — forbidden for a time — then renewed — Kratês and the milder comedy. — Aristophanês. — Comedy in its effect on the Athenian mind. — Mistaken estimate of the comic writers, as good witnesses or just critics. — Aversion of Solon to the drama when nascent. — Dramatic poetry as compared with the former kinds of poetry. — Ethical sentiment, interest, and debate, infused into the drama. — The drama formed the stage of transition to rhetoric, dialectics, and ethical philosophy. — Practical value and necessity of rhetorical accomplishments. — Rhetoric and dialectics. — Empedoklês of Agrigentum — first name in the rhetorical movement. — Zeno of Elea — first name in the dialectical movement. — Eleatic school — Parmenidês. — Zeno and Melissus — their dialectic attacks upon the opponents of Parmenidês. — Zeno at Athens — his conversation both with Periklês and with Sokratês. — Early manifestation, and powerful efficacy, of the negative arm in Grecian philosophy. — Rhetoric and dialectics — men of active life and men of speculation — two separate lines of intellectual activity. — Standing antithesis between these two intellectual classes — vein of ignorance at Athens, hostile to both. — Gradual enlargement of the field of education at Athens — increased knowledge and capacity of the musical teachers. — The sophists — true Greek meaning of that word — invidious sentiment implied in it. — The name sophist applied by Plato in a peculiar sense, in his polemics against the eminent paid teachers. — Misconceptions arising from Plato’s peculiar use of the word sophist. — Paid teachers or sophists of the Sokratic age — Protagoras, Gorgias, etc. — Plato and the sophists — two different points of view — the reformer and theorist against the practical teacher. — The sophists were professional teachers for active life, like Isokratês and Quintilian. — Misinterpretations of the dialogues of Plato as carrying evidence against the sophists. — The sophists as paid teachers — no proof that they were greedy or exorbitant — proceeding of Protagoras. — The sophists as rhetorical teachers — groundless accusations against them in that capacity, made also against Sokratês, Isokratês, and others. — Thrasymachus — his rhetorical precepts. — Prodikus — his discrimination of words analogous in meaning. — Protagoras — his treatise on Truth — his opinions about the pagan gods. — His view of the cognitive process and its relative nature. — Gorgias — his treatise on physical subjects — misrepresentations of the scope of it. — Unfounded accusations against the sophists. — They were not a sect or school, with common doctrines or method; they were a profession, with strong individual peculiarities. — The Athenian character was not really corrupted,[p. xiii] between 480 B.C. and 405 B.C. — Prodikus — The choice of Hercules. — Protagoras — real estimate exhibited of him by Plato. — Hippias of Elis — how he is represented by Plato. — Gorgias, Pôlus, and Kalliklês. — Doctrine advanced by Pôlus. — Doctrine advanced by Kalliklês — anti-social. — Kalliklês is not a sophist. — The doctrine put into his mouth could never have been laid down in any public lecture among the Athenians. — Doctrine of Thrasymachus in the “Republic” of Plato. — Such doctrine not common to all the sophists — what is offensive in it is, the manner in which it is put forward. — Opinion of Thrasymachus afterwards brought out by Glaukon — with less brutality, and much greater force of reason. — Plato against the sophists generally. His category of accusation comprehends all society, with all the poets and statesmen. — It is unjust to try either the sophists or the statesmen of Athens, by the standard of Plato. — Plato distinctly denies that Athenian corruption was to be imputed to the sophists. — The sophists were not teachers of mere words, apart from action. — General good effect of their teaching upon the youth. — Great reputation of the sophists — evidence of respect for intellect and of a good state of public sentiment.




Different spirit shown towards Sokratês and towards the sophists. — Birth and family of Sokratês. — His physical and moral qualities. — Xenophon and Plato as witnesses. — Their pictures of Sokratês are in the main accordant. — Habits of Sokratês. — Leading peculiarities of Sokratês. — His constant publicity of life and indiscriminate conversation. — Reason why Sokratês was shown up by Aristophanês on the stage. — His persuasion of a special religious mission. — His dæmon, or genius — other inspirations. — Oracle from Delphi declaring that no man was wiser than he. — His mission to test the false conceit of wisdom in others. — Confluence of the religious motive with the inquisitive and intellectual impulse in his mind — numerous enemies whom he made. — Sokratês a religious missionary, doing the work of philosophy. — Intellectual peculiarities of Sokratês. — He opened ethics as a new subject of scientific discussion. — Circumstances which turned the mind of Sokratês towards ethical speculations. — Limits of scientific study as laid down by Sokratês. — He confines study to human affairs, as distinguished from divine — to man and society. — Importance of the innovation — multitude of new and accessible phenomena brought under discussion. — Innovations of Sokratês as to method — dialectic method — inductive discourses — definitions. — Commencement of analytical consciousness of the mental operations — genera and species. — Sokratês compared with previous philosophers. — Great step made by Sokratês in laying the foundation of formal logic, afterwards expanded by Plato, and systematized by Aristotle. — Dialectical process employed by Sokratês — essential connection between method and subject. — Essential connection also between the dialectic process and the logical distribution of subject-matter — one in many and many in one. — Persuasion of religious mission in Sokratês, prompting him to extend his colloquial cross-examination to noted men. — His cross-examining purpose was not confined to noted men, but of[p. xiv] universal application. — Leading ideas which directed the scrutiny of Sokratês — contrast between the special professions and the general duties of social life. — Platonic dialogues — discussion whether virtue is teachable. — Conceit of knowledge without real knowledge — universal prevalence of it. — Such confident persuasion, without science, belonged at that time to astronomy and physics, as well as to the subjects of man and society — it is now confined to the latter. — Sokratês first lays down the idea of ethical science, comprising the appropriate ethical end with theory and precepts. — Earnestness with which Sokratês inculcated self-examination — effect of his conversation upon others. — Preceptorial and positive exhortation of Sokratês chiefly brought out by Xenophon. — This was not the peculiarity of Sokratês — his powerful method of stirring up the analytical faculties. — Negative and indirect scrutiny of Sokratês produced strong thirst, and active efforts, for the attainment of positive truth. — Inductive process of scrutiny, and Baconian spirit, of Sokratês. — Sokratic method tends to create minds capable of forming conclusions for themselves — not to plant conclusions ready-made. — Grecian dialectics — their many-sided handling of subjects — force of the negative arm. — The subjects to which they were applied — man and society — essentially required such handling — reason why. — Real distinction and variance between Sokratês and the sophists. — Prodigious efficacy of Sokratês in forming new philosophical minds. — General theory of Sokratês on ethics — he resolved virtue into knowledge, or wisdom. — This doctrine defective as stating a part for the whole. — He was led to this general doctrine by the analogy of special professions. — Constant reference of Sokratês to duties of practice and detail. — The derivative reasonings of Sokratês were of larger range than his general doctrine. — Political opinions of Sokratês. — Long period during which Sokratês exercised his vocation as a public converser. — Accusation against him by Melêtus, Anytus, and Lykon. — The real ground for surprise is, that that accusation had not been preferred before. — Inevitable unpopularity incurred by Sokratês in his mission. — It was only from the general toleration of the Athenian democracy and population, that he was allowed to go on so long. — Particular circumstances which brought on the trial of Sokratês. — Private offence of Anytus. — Unpopularity arising to Sokratês from his connection with Kritias and Alkibiadês. — Enmity of the poets and rhetors to Sokratês. — Indictment — grounds of the accusers — effects of the “Clouds” of Aristophanês, in creating prejudice against Sokratês. — Accusation of corruption in teaching was partly founded on political grounds. — Perversion of the poets alleged against him. — Remarks of Xenophon upon these accusations. — The charges touch upon the defective point of the Sokratic ethical theory. — His political strictures. — The verdict against Sokratês was brought upon him partly by his own concurrence. — Small majority by which he was condemned. — Sokratês defended himself like one who did not care to be acquitted. — The “Platonic Apology.” — Sentiment of Sokratês about death. — Effect of his defence upon the dikasts. — Assertion of Xenophon that Sokratês might have been acquitted if he had chosen it. — The sentence — how passed in Athenian procedure. — Sokratês is called upon to propose some counter-penalty against himself — his behavior. — Aggravation of feeling in the dikasts against him in consequence of his behavior. — Sentence of death — resolute adherence of Sokratês to his own convictions. — Satisfaction of Sokratês with the sentence, on deliberate conviction. — Sokratês in prison for thirty days — he refuses to accept the means of escape — his serene death. — Orig[p. xv]inality of Sokratês. — Views taken of Sokratês as a moral preacher and as a skeptic — the first inadequate, the second incorrect. — Sokratês, positive and practical in his end; negative only in his means. — Two points on which Sokratês is systematically negative. — Method of Sokratês of universal application. — Condemnation of Sokratês one of the misdeeds of intolerance. — Extenuating circumstances — principle of orthodox enforcement recognized generally in ancient times. — Number of personal enemies made by Sokratês. — His condemnation brought on by himself. — The Athenians did not repent it.


[Pg 1]




About a year elapsed between the catastrophe of the Athenians near Syracuse and the victory which they gained over the Milêsians, on landing near Milêtus (from September 413 B.C., to September 412 B.C.). After the first of those two events, the complete ruin of Athens had appeared both to her enemies and to herself, impending and irreparable. But so astonishing, so rapid, and so energetic had been her rally, that, at the time of the second, she was found again carrying on a tolerable struggle, though with impaired resources and on a purely defensive system, against enemies both bolder and more numerous than ever. Nor is there any reason to doubt that her foreign affairs might have gone on thus improving, had they not been endangered at this critical moment by the treason of a fraction of her own citizens, bringing her again to the brink of ruin, from which she was only rescued by the incompetence of her enemies.

That treason took its first rise from the exile Alkibiadês. I have already recounted how this man, alike unprincipled and energetic, had thrown himself with his characteristic ardor into the service of Sparta, and had indicated to her the best means[p. 2] of aiding Syracuse, of inflicting positive injury upon Athens, and lastly, of provoking revolt among the Ionic allies of the latter. It was by his boldness and personal connections in Ionia that the revolt of Chios and Milêtus had been determined.

In the course of a few months, however, he had greatly lost the confidence of the Spartans. The revolt of the Asiatic dependencies of Athens had not been accomplished so easily and rapidly as he had predicted; Chalkideus, the Spartan commander with whom he had acted was defeated and slain near Milêtus; the ephor Endius, by whom he was chiefly protected, retained his office only for one year, and was succeeded by other ephors,[1] just about the end of September, or beginning of October, when the Athenians gained their second victory near Milêtus, and were on the point of blocking up the town; while his personal enemy king Agis still remained to persecute him. Moreover, there was in the character of this remarkable man something so essentially selfish, vain, and treacherous, that no one could ever rely upon his faithful coöperation. And as soon as any reverse occurred, that very energy and ability, which seldom failed him, made those with whom he acted the more ready to explain the mischance, by supposing that he had betrayed them.

It was thus that, after the defeat of Milêtus, king Agis was enabled to discredit Alkibiadês as a traitor to Sparta; upon which the new ephors sent out at once an order to the general Astyochus, to put him to death.[2] Alkibiadês had now an opportunity of tasting the difference between Spartan and Athenian procedure. Though his enemies at Athens were numerous and virulent, with all the advantage, so unspeakable in political warfare, of being able to raise the cry of irreligion against him, yet the utmost which they could obtain was that he should be summoned home to take his trial before the dikastery. At Sparta, without any positive ground of crimination, and without any idea of judicial trial, his enemies procure an order that he shall be put to death.

Alkibiadês, however, got intimation of the order in time to[p. 3] retire to Tissaphernês. Probably he was forewarned by Astyochus himself, not ignorant that so monstrous a deed would greatly alienate the Chians and Milêsians, nor foreseeing the full mischief which his desertion would bring upon Sparta. With that flexibility of character which enabled him at once to master and take up a new position, Alkibiadês soon found means to insinuate himself into the confidence of the satrap. He began now to play a game neither Spartan nor Athenian, but Persian and anti-Hellenic: a game of duplicity to which Tissaphernês himself was spontaneously disposed, but to which the intervention of a dexterous Grecian negotiator was indispensable. It was by no means the interest of the Great King, Alkibiadês urged, to lend such effective aid to either of the contending parties as would enable it to crush the other: he ought neither to bring up the Phenician fleet to the aid of the Lacedæmonians, nor to furnish that abundant pay which would procure for them indefinite levies of new Grecian force. He ought so to feed and prolong the war, as to make each party an instrument of exhaustion and impoverishment against the other, and thus himself to rise on the ruins of both: first to break down the Athenian empire by means of the Peloponnesians, and afterwards to expel the Peloponnesians themselves; which might be effected with little trouble if they were weakened by a protracted previous struggle.[3]

Thus far Alkibiadês gave advice, as a Persian counsellor, not unsuitable to the policy of the court of Susa. But he seldom gave advice without some view to his own profit, ambition, or antipathies. Cast off unceremoniously by the Lacedæmonians, he was now driven to seek restoration in his own country. To accomplish this object, it was necessary not only that he should preserve her from being altogether ruined, but that he should present himself to the Athenians as one who could, if restored, divert the aid of Tissaphernês from Lacedæmon to Athens. Accordingly, he farther suggested to the satrap, that while it was essential to his interest not to permit land power and maritime power to be united in the same hands, whether Lacedæmonian or Athenian, it would nevertheless be found easier to[p. 4] arrange matters with the empire and pretensions of Athens than with those of Lacedæmon. The former, he argued, neither sought nor professed any other object than the subjection of her own maritime dependencies, in return for which she would willingly leave all the Asiatic Greeks in the hands of the Great King; while the latter, forswearing all idea of empire, and professing ostentatiously to aim at the universal enfranchisement of every Grecian city, could not with the smallest consistency conspire to deprive the Asiatic Greeks of the same privilege. This view appeared to be countenanced by the objection which Theramenês and many of the Peloponnesian officers had taken to the first convention concluded by Chalkideus and Alkibiadês with Tissaphernês: objections afterwards renewed by Lichas even against the second modified convention of Theramenês, and accompanied with an indignant protest against the idea of surrendering to the Great King all the territory which had been ever possessed by his predecessors.[4]

All these latter arguments, whereby Alkibiadês professed to create in the mind of the satrap a preference for Athens, were either futile or founded on false assumptions. For on the one hand, even Lichas never refused to concur in surrendering the Asiatic Greeks to Persia; while on the other hand, the empire of Athens, so long as she retained any empire, was pretty sure to be more formidable to Persia than any efforts undertaken by Sparta under the disinterested pretence of liberating generally the Grecian cities. Nor did Tissaphernês at all lend himself to any such positive impression; though he felt strongly the force of the negative recommendations of Alkibiadês, that he should do no more for the Peloponnesians than was sufficient to feed the war, without insuring to them either a speedy or a decisive success: or rather, this duplicity was so congenial to his Oriental mind, that there was no need of Alkibiadês to recommend it. The real use of the Athenian exile, was to assist the satrap in carrying it into execution; and to provide for him those plausible pretences and justifications, which he was to issue as a substitute for effective supplies of men and money. Established along with Tissaphernês at Magnesia,—the same place which had been[p. 5] occupied about fifty years before by another Athenian exile, equally unprincipled, and yet abler, Themistoklês,—Alkibiadês served as interpreter of his views in all his conversations with the Greeks, and appeared to be thoroughly in his confidence: an appearance of which he took advantage to pass himself off falsely upon the Athenians at Samos, as having the power of turning Persian wealth to the aid of Athens.

The first payment made by Tissaphernês, immediately after the capture of Iasus and of the revolted Amorgês, to the Peloponnesians at Milêtus, was at the rate of one drachma per head. But notice was given that for the future it would be reduced one half, and for this reduction Alkibiadês undertook to furnish a reason. The Athenians, he urged, gave no more than half a drachma; not because they could not afford more, but because, from their long experience of nautical affairs, they had found that higher pay spoiled the discipline of the seamen by leading them into excesses and over-indulgence, as well as by inducing too ready leave of absence to be granted, in confidence that the high pay would induce them to return when called for.[5] As he probably never expected that such subterfuges, employed at a moment when Athens was so poor that she could not even pay the half drachma per head, would carry conviction to any one, so he induced Tissaphernês to strengthen their effect by individual bribes to the generals and trierarchs: a mode of argument which was found effectual in silencing the complaints of all, with the single exception of the Syracusan Hermokratês. In regard to other Grecian cities who sent to ask pecuniary aid, and especially Chios, Alkibiadês spoke out with less reserve. They had been hitherto compelled to contribute to Athens, he said, and now that they had shaken off this payment, they must not shrink from imposing upon themselves equal or even greater burdens in their own defence. Nor was it anything less, he added, than sheer impudence in the Chians, the richest people in Greece, if they required[p. 6] a foreign military force for their protection, to require at the same time that others should furnish the means of paying it.[6] At the same time, however, he intimated,—by way of keeping up hopes for the future,—that Tissaphernês was at present carrying on the war at his own cost; but if hereafter remittances should arrive from Susa, the full rate of pay would be resumed, with the addition of aid to the Grecian cities in any other way which could be reasonably asked. To this promise was added an assurance that the Phenician fleet was now under equipment, and would shortly be brought up to their aid, so as to give them a superiority which would render resistance hopeless: an assurance not merely deceitful but mischievous, since it was employed to dissuade them from all immediate action, and to paralyze their navy during its moments of fullest vigor and efficiency. Even the reduced rate of pay was furnished so irregularly, and the Peloponnesian force kept so starved, that the duplicity of the satrap became obvious to every one, and was only carried through by his bribery to the officers.[7]

While Alkibiadês, as the confidential agent and interpreter of Tissaphernês, was carrying on this anti-Peloponnesian policy through the autumn and winter of 412-411 B.C.,—partly during the stay of the Peloponnesian fleet at Milêtus, partly after it had moved to Knidus and Rhodes,—he was at the same time opening correspondence with the Athenian officers at Samos. His breach with the Peloponnesians, as well as his ostensible position in the service of Tissaphernês, were facts well known among the Athenian armament; and his scheme was, to procure both restoration and renewed power in his native city, by representing himself as competent to bring over to her the aid and alliance of Persia, through his ascendency over the mind of the satrap. His hos[p. 7]tility to the democracy, however, was so generally known, that he despaired of accomplishing his return, unless he could connect it with an oligarchical revolution; which, moreover, was not less gratifying to his sentiment of vengeance for the past, than to his ambition for the future. Accordingly, he sent over a private message to the officers and trierarchs at Samos, several of them doubtless his personal friends, desiring to be remembered to the “best men” in the armament,[8] such was one of the standing phrases by which oligarchical men knew and described each other; and intimating his anxious wish to come again as a citizen among them, bringing with him Tissaphernês as their ally. But he would do this only on condition of the formation of an oligarchical government; nor would he ever again set foot amidst the odious democracy to whom he owed his banishment.[9]

Such was the first originating germ of that temporary calamity, which so nearly brought Athens to absolute ruin, called the Oligarchy of Four Hundred: a suggestion from the same exile who had already so deeply wounded his country by sending Gylippus to Syracuse, and the Lacedæmonian garrison to Dekeleia. As yet, no man in Samos had thought of a revolution; but the moment that the idea was thus started, the trierarchs and wealthy men in the armament caught at it with avidity. To subvert the democracy for their own profit, and to be rewarded for doing so with the treasures of Persia as a means of carrying on the war against the Peloponnesians, was an extent of good fortune greater than they could possibly have hoped. Amidst the exhaustion of the public treasure at Athens, and the loss of tribute from her dependencies, it was now the private proprietors, and most of all, the wealthy proprietors, upon whom the cost of military operations fell: from which burden they here saw the prospect of relief, coupled with increased chance of victory. Elate with so tempting a promise, a deputation of them crossed over from Samos to the mainland to converse personally with Alkibiadês,[p. 8] who again renewed his assurances in person, that he would bring not only Tissaphernês, but the Great King himself, into active alliance and coöperation with Athens, provided they would put down the Athenian democracy, which he affirmed that the king could not possibly trust.[10] He doubtless did not omit to set forth the other side of the alternative; that, if the proposition were refused, Persian aid would be thrown heartily into the scale of the Peloponnesians, in which case, there was no longer any hope of safety for Athens.

On the return of the deputation with these fresh assurances, the oligarchical men in Samos came together, both in greater number and with redoubled ardor, to take their measures for subverting the democracy. They even ventured to speak of the project openly among the mass of the armament, who listened to it with nothing but aversion, but who were silenced at least, though not satisfied, by being told that the Persian treasury would be thrown open to them on condition, and only on condition, that they would relinquish their democracy. Such was at this time the indispensable need of foreign money for the purposes of the war, such was the certainty of ruin, if the Persian treasure went to the aid of the enemy, that the most democratical Athenian might well hesitate when the alternative was thus laid before him. The oligarchical conspirators, however, knew well that they had the feeling of the armament altogether against them, that the best which they could expect from it was a reluctant acquiescence, and that they must accomplish the revolution by their own hands and management. They formed themselves into a political confederacy, or hetæria, for the purpose of discussing the best measures towards their end. It was resolved to send a deputation to Athens, with Peisander[11] at the head, to[p. 9] make known the new prospects, and to put the standing oligarchical clubs, or hetæries, into active coöperation for the purpose of violently breaking up the democracy, and farther to establish oligarchical governments in all the remaining dependencies of Athens. They imagined that these dependencies would be thus induced to remain faithful to her, perhaps even that some of those which had already revolted might come back to their allegiance, when once she should be relieved from her democracy, and placed under the rule of her “best and most virtuous citizens.”

Hitherto, the bargain tendered for acceptance had been, subversion of the Athenian democracy and restoration of Alkibiadês, on one hand, against hearty coöperation, and a free supply of gold from Persia, on the other. But what security was there that such bargain would be realized, or that when the first part should have been brought to pass, the second would follow? There was absolutely no security except the word of Alkibiadês,—very little to be trusted, even when promising what was in his own power to perform, as we may recollect from his memorable dealing with the Lacedæmonian envoys at Athens,—and on the present occasion, vouching for something in itself extravagant and preposterous. For what reasonable motive could be imagined to make the Great King shape his foreign policy according to the interests of Alkibiadês, or to inspire him with such lively interest in the substitution of oligarchy for democracy at Athens? This was a question which the oligarchical conspirators at Samos not only never troubled themselves to raise, but which they had every motive to suppress. The suggestion of Alkibiadês coincided fully with their political interest and ambition. Their object was to put down the democracy, and get possession of the[p. 10] government for themselves; and the promise of Persian gold, if they could get it accredited, was inestimable as a stepping-stone towards this goal, whether it afterwards turned out to be a delusion or not. The probability is, that having a strong interest in believing it themselves, and a still stronger interest in making others believe it, they talked each other into a sincere persuasion. Without adverting to this fact, we should be at a loss to understand how the word of such a man as Alkibiadês, on such a matter, could be so implicitly accepted as to set in motion a whole train of novel and momentous events.

There was one man, and one man alone, so far as we know, who ventured openly to call it in question. This was Phrynichus, one of the generals of the fleet, who had recently given valuable counsel after the victory of Milêtus; a clear-sighted and sagacious man, but personally hostile to Alkibiadês, and thoroughly seeing through his character and projects. Though Phrynichus was afterwards one of the chief organizers of the oligarchical movement, when it became detached from, and hostile to Alkibiadês, yet under the actual circumstances he discountenanced it altogether.[12] Alkibiadês, he said, had no attachment to oligarchical government rather than to democratical; nor could he be relied on for standing by it after it should have been set up. His only purpose was, to make use of the oligarchical conspiracy now forming, for his own restoration; which, if brought to pass, could not fail to introduce political discord into the camp, the greatest misfortune that could at present happen. As to the Persian king, it was unreasonable to expect that he would put himself out of his way to aid the Athenians, his old enemies, in whom he had no confidence, while he had the Peloponnesians present as allies, with a good naval force and powerful cities in his own territory, from whom he had never experienced either insult or annoyance. Moreover, the dependencies of Athens—upon whom it was now proposed to confer simultaneously with Athens herself, the blessing of oligarchical government—would[p. 11] receive that boon with indifference. Those who had already revolted would not come back, those who yet remained faithful, would not be the more inclined to remain so longer. Their object would be to obtain autonomy, either under oligarchy or democracy, as the case might be. Assuredly, they would not expect better treatment from an oligarchical government at Athens, than from a democratical; for they knew that those self-styled “good and virtuous” men, who would form the oligarchy, were, as ministers of democracy, the chief advisers and instigators of the people to iniquitous deeds, most commonly for nothing but their own individual profit. From an Athenian oligarchy, the citizens of these dependencies had nothing to expect but violent executions without any judicial trial; but under the democracy, they could obtain shelter and the means of appeal, while their persecutors were liable to restraint and chastisement, from the people and the popular dikasteries. Such, Phrynichus affirmed on his own personal knowledge, was the genuine feeling among the dependencies of Athens.[13] Having thus shown the calculations of the conspirators—as to Alkibiadês, as to Persia, and as to the allied dependencies—to be all illusory, Phrynichus concluded by entering his decided protest against adopting the propositions of Alkibiadês.

But in this protest, borne out afterwards by the result, he stood nearly alone. The tide of opinion, among the oligarchical conspir[p. 12]ators, ran so furiously the other way, that it was resolved to despatch Peisander and others immediately to Athens to consummate the oligarchical revolution as well as the recall of Alkibiadês; and at the same time to propose to the people their new intended ally, Tissaphernês.

Phrynichus knew well what would be the consequence to himself—if this consummation were brought about, as he foresaw that it probably would be—from the vengeance of his enemy Alkibiadês against his recent opposition. Satisfied that the latter would destroy him, he took measures for destroying Alkibiadês beforehand, even by a treasonable communication to the Lacedæmonian admiral Astyochus at Milêtus, to whom he sent a secret account of the intrigues which the Athenian exile was carrying on at Samos to the prejudice of the Peloponnesians, prefaced with an awkward apology for this sacrifice of the interests of his country to the necessity of protecting himself against a personal enemy. But Phrynichus was imperfectly informed of the real character of the Spartan commander, or of his relations with Tissaphernês and Alkibiadês. Not merely was the latter now at Magnesia, under the protection of the satrap, and out of the power of the Lacedæmonians, but Astyochus, a traitor to his duty through the gold of Tissaphernês, went up thither to show the letter of Phrynichus to the very person whom it was intended to expose. Alkibiadês forthwith sent intelligence to the generals and officers at Samos, of the step taken by Phrynichus, and pressed them to put him to death.

The life of Phrynichus now hung by a thread, and was probably preserved only by that respect for judicial formalities so deeply rooted in the Athenian character. In the extremity of danger, he resorted to a still more subtle artifice to save himself. He despatched a second letter to Astyochus, complaining of the violation of confidence in regard to the former, but at the same time intimating that he was now willing to betray to the Lacedæmonians the camp and armament at Samos. He invited Astyochus to come and attack the place, which was as yet unfortified, explaining minutely in what manner the attack could be best conducted. And he concluded by saying that this, as well as every other means of defence, must be pardoned to one whose life was in danger from a personal enemy. Foreseeing that Astyochus[p. 13] would betray this letter as he had betrayed the former, Phrynichus waited a proper time, and then revealed to the camp the intention of the enemy to make an attack, as if it had reached him by private information. He insisted on the necessity of immediate precautions, and himself, as general, superintended the work of fortification, which was soon completed. Presently arrived a letter from Alkibiadês, communicating to the army that Phrynichus had betrayed them, and that the Peloponnesians were on the point of making an attack. But this letter, arriving after the precautions taken by order of Phrynichus himself had been already completed, was construed as a mere trick on the part of Alkibiadês himself, through his acquaintance with the intentions of the Peloponnesians, to raise a charge of treasonable correspondence against his personal enemy. The impression thus made by his second letter effaced the taint which had been left upon Phrynichus by the first, insomuch that the latter stood exculpated on both charges.[14]

But Phrynichus, though successful in extricating himself, failed thoroughly in his manœuvre against the influence and life of Alkibiadês; in whose favor the oligarchical movement not only went on, but was transferred from Samos to Athens. On arriving at the latter place, Peisander and his companions laid before the public assembly the projects which had been conceived by the oligarchs at Samos. The people were invited to restore Alkibiadês and renounce their democratical constitution; in return for which, they were assured of obtaining the Persian king as an ally, and of overcoming the Peloponnesians.[15] Violent was the storm which these propositions raised in the public as[p. 14]sembly. Many speakers rose in animated defence of the democracy; few, if any, distinctly against it. The opponents of Alkibiadês indignantly denounced the mischief of restoring him, in violation of the laws, and in reversal of a judicial sentence, while the Eumolpidæ and Kerykes, the sacred families connected with the Eleusinian mysteries which Alkibiadês had violated, entered their solemn protest on religious grounds to the same effect. Against all these vehement opponents, whose impassioned invectives obtained the full sympathy of the assembly, Peisander had but one simple reply. He called them forward successively by name, and put to each the question: “What hope have you of salvation for the city, when the Peloponnesians have a naval force against us fully equal to ours, together with a greater number of allied cities, and when the king as well as Tissaphernês are supplying them with money, while we have no money left? What hope have you of salvation, unless we can persuade the king to come over to our side?” The answer was a melancholy negative, or perhaps not less melancholy silence. “Well, then, rejoined Peisander, that object cannot possibly be attained, unless we conduct our political affairs for the future in a more moderate way, and put the powers of government more in the hands of a few, and unless we recall Alkibiadês, the only man now living who is competent to do the business. Under present circumstances, we surely shall not lay greater stress upon our political constitution than upon the salvation of the city; the rather as what we now enact may be hereafter modified, if it be found not to answer.”

Against the proposed oligarchical change, the repugnance of the assembly was alike angry and unanimous. But they were silenced by the imperious necessity of the case, as the armament at Samos had been before; and admitting the alternative laid down by Peisander, as I have observed already, the most democratical citizen might be embarrassed as to his vote. Whether any speaker, like Phrynichus at Samos, arraigned the fallacy of the alternative, and called upon Peisander for some guarantee, better than mere asseveration, of the benefits to come, we are not informed. But the general vote of the assembly, reluctant and only passed in the hope of future change, sanctioned his recom[p. 15]mendation.[16] He and ten other envoys, invested with full powers of negotiating with Alkibiadês and Tissaphernês, were despatched to Ionia immediately. Peisander at the same time obtained from the assembly a vote deposing Phrynichus from his command; under the accusation of having traitorously caused the loss of Iasus and the capture of Amorgês, after the battle of Milêtus, but from the real certainty that he would prove an insuperable bar to all negotiations with Alkibiadês. Phrynichus, with his colleague Skironidês, being thus displaced, Leon and Diomedon were sent to Samos as commanders in their stead; an appointment of which, as will be presently seen, Peisander was far from anticipating the consequences.

Before his departure for Asia, he took a step yet more important. He was well aware that the recent vote—a result of fear inspired by the war, representing a sentiment utterly at variance with that of the assembly, and only procured as the price of Persian aid against a foreign enemy—would never pass into a reality by the spontaneous act of the people themselves. It was, indeed, indispensable as a first step; partly as an authority to himself, partly also as a confession of the temporary weakness of the democracy, and as a sanction and encouragement for the oligarchical forces to show themselves. But the second step yet remained to be performed; that of calling these forces into energetic action, organizing an amount of violence sufficient to extort from the people actual submission in addition to verbal acquiescence, and thus, as it were, tying down the patient while the process of emasculation was being consummated. Peisander visited all the various political clubs, conspiracies, or[p. 16] hetæries, which were habitual and notorious at Athens; associations, bound together by oath, among the wealthy citizens, partly for purposes of amusement, but chiefly pledging the members to stand by each other in objects of political ambition, in judicial trials, in accusation or defence of official men after the period of office had expired, in carrying points through the public assembly, etc. Among these clubs were distributed most of “the best citizens, the good and honorable men, the elegant men, the well known, the temperate, the honest and moderate men,”[17] etc., to employ that complimentary phraseology by which wealthy and anti-popular politicians have chosen to designate each other, in ancient as well as in modern times. And though there were doubtless individuals among them who deserved these appellations in their best sense, yet the general character of the clubs was not the less exclusive and oligarchical. In the details of political life, they had different partialities as well as different antipathies, and were oftener in opposition than in coöperation with each other. But they furnished, when taken together, a formidable anti-popular force; generally either in abeyance or disseminated in the accomplishment of smaller political measures and separate personal successes; but capable, at a special crisis, of being evoked, organized, and put in conjoint attack, for the subversion of the democracy. Such was the important movement now initiated by Peisander. He visited separately each of these clubs, put them into communication with each other, and exhorted them all to joint aggressive action against their common enemy the democracy, at a moment when it was already intimidated and might be finally overthrown.[18]

[p. 17]

Having taken other necessary measures towards the same purpose, Peisander left Athens with his colleagues to enter upon his[p. 18] negotiation with Tissaphernês. But the coöperation and aggressive movement of the clubs which he had originated was prosecuted with increased ardor during his absence, and even fell into hands more organizing and effective than his own. The rhetorical teacher Antiphon, of the deme Rhamnus, took it in hand especially, acquired the confidence of the clubs, and drew the plan of campaign against the democracy. He was a man estimable in private life, and not open to pecuniary corruption: in other respects, of preëminent ability,—in contrivance, judgment, speech, and action. The profession to which he belonged, generally unpopular among the democracy, excluding him from taking rank as a speaker either in the public assembly or the dikastery: for a rhetorical teacher, contending in either of them against a private speaker, to repeat a remark already once made, was considered to stand at the same unfair advantage, as a fencing-master fighting a duel with a gentleman would be held to stand in modern times. Thus debarred himself from the showy celebrity of Athenian political life, Antiphon became only the more consummate, as a master of advice, calculation, scheming, and rhetorical composition,[19] to assist the celebrity of others; insomuch that[p. 19] his silent assistance in political and judicial debates, as a sort of chamber-counsel, was highly appreciated and largely paid. Now such were precisely the talents required for the present occasion; while Antiphon, who hated the democracy for having hitherto kept him in the shade, gladly bent his full talents towards its subversion.

Such was the man to whom Peisander, in departing, chiefly confided the task of organizing the anti-popular clubs, for the consummation of the revolution already in immediate prospect. His chief auxiliary was Theramenês, another Athenian, now first named, of eminent ability and cunning. His father (either natural or by adoption), Agnon, was one of the probûli, and had formerly been founder of Amphipolis. Even Phrynichus—whose sagacity we have already had occasion to appreciate, and who, from hatred towards Alkibiadês, had pronounced himself decidedly against the oligarchical movement at Samos—became zealous in forwarding the movement at Athens, after his dismissal from the command. He brought to the side of Antiphon and Theramenês a contriving head not inferior to theirs, coupled with daring and audacity even superior. Under such skilful leaders, the anti-popular force of Athens was organized with a deep skill, and directed with a dexterous wickedness, never before witnessed in Greece.

At the time when Peisander and the other envoys reached Ionia, seemingly about the end of January or beginning of February 411 B.C., the Peloponnesian fleet had already quitted Milêtus and gone to Knidus and Rhodes, on which latter island Leon and Diomedon made some hasty descents, from the neighboring island of Chalkê. At the same time the Athenian armament at Chios was making progress in the siege of that place and the construction of the neighboring fort at Delphinium. Pedaritus, the Lacedæmonian governor of the island, had sent pressing messages to solicit aid from the Peloponnesians at Rhodes, but no aid arrived; and he therefore resolved to attempt a general[p. 20] sally and attack upon the Athenians with his whole force, foreign as well as Chian. Though at first he obtained some success, the battle ended in his complete defeat and death, with great slaughter of the Chian troops, and with the loss of many whose shields were captured in the pursuit.[20] The Chians, now reduced to greater straits than before, and beginning to suffer severely from famine, were only enabled to hold out by a partial reinforcement soon afterwards obtained from the Peloponnesian guardships at Milêtus. A Spartan named Leon, who had come out in the vessel of Antisthenês as one of the epibatæ, or marines, conducted this reinforcing squadron of twelve triremes, chiefly Thurian and Syracusan, succeeding Pedaritus in the general command of the island.[21]

It was while Chios seemed thus likely to be recovered by Athens—and while the superior Peloponnesian fleet was paralyzed at Rhodes by Persian intrigues and bribes—that Peisander arrived in Ionia to open his negotiations with Alkibiadês and Tissaphernês. He was enabled to announce that the subversion of the democracy at Athens was already begun, and would soon be consummated: and he now required the price which had been promised in exchange, Persian alliance and aid to Athens against[p. 21] the Peloponnesians. But Alkibiadês knew well that he had promised what he had not the least chance of being able to perform. The satrap had appeared to follow his advice,—or had rather followed his own inclination, employing Alkibiadês as an instrument and auxiliary,—in the endeavor to wear out both parties, and to keep them nearly on an equality until each should ruin the other. But he was no way disposed to identify himself with the cause of Athens, and to break decidedly with the Peloponnesians, especially at a moment when their fleet was both the greater of the two, and in occupation of an island close to his own satrapy. Accordingly Alkibiadês, when summoned by the Athenian envoys to perform his engagement, found himself in a dilemma from which he could only escape by one of his characteristic manœuvres.

Receiving the envoys himself in conjunction with Tissaphernês, and speaking on behalf of the latter, he pushed his demands to an extent which he knew that the Athenians would never concede, in order that the rupture might seem to be on their side, and not on his. First, he required the whole of Ionia to be conceded to the Great King; next, all the neighboring islands, with some other items besides.[22] Large as these requisitions were, comprehending the cession of Lesbos and Samos as well as Chios, and replacing the Persian monarchy in the condition in which it had stood in 496 B.C., before the Ionic revolt, Peisander and his colleagues granted them all: so that Alkibiadês was on the point of seeing his deception exposed and frustrated. At last, he bethought himself of a fresh demand, which touched Athenian pride, as well as Athenian safety, in the tenderest place. He required that the Persian king should be held free to build ships of war in unlimited number, and to keep them sailing along the coast as he might think fit, through all these new portions of territory. After the immense concessions already made, the envoys not only rejected this fresh demand at once, but resented it as an insult, which exposed the real drift and purpose[p. 22] of Alkibiadês. Not merely did it cancel the boasted treaty, called the Peace of Kallias, concluded about forty years before between Athens and Persia, and limiting the Persian ships of war to the sea eastward of Phasêlis, but it extinguished the maritime empire of Athens, and compromised the security of all the coasts and islands of the Ægean. To see Lesbos, Chios, and Samos, etc., in possession of Persia, was sufficiently painful; but if there came to be powerful Persian fleets on these islands it would be the certain precursor and means of farther conquests to the westward, and would revive the aggressive dispositions of the Great King, as they had stood at the beginning of the reign of Xerxes. Peisander and his comrades, abruptly breaking off the debate, returned to Samos; indignant at the discovery, which they now made for the first time, that Alkibiadês had juggled them from the outset, and was imposing conditions which he knew to be inadmissible.[23] They still appear, however, to have thought that Alkibiadês acted thus, not because he could not, but because he would not, bring about the alliance under discussion.[24] They suspected him of playing false with the oligarchical movement which he had himself instigated, and of projecting the accomplishment of his own restoration, coupled with the alliance of Tissaphernês, into the bosom of the democracy which he had begun by denouncing. Such was the light in which they presented his conduct, venting their disappointment in invectives against his duplicity, and in asseverations that he was after all unsuitable for a place in oligarchical society. Such declarations,[p. 23] circulated at Samos, to account for their unexpected failure in realizing the hopes which they had raised, created among the armament an impression that Alkibiadês was really favorable to the democracy, at the same time leaving unabated the prestige of his unbounded ascendency over Tissaphernês and the Great King. We shall presently see the effects resulting from this belief.

Immediately after the rupture of the negotiations, however, the satrap took a step well calculated to destroy the hopes of the Athenians altogether, so far as Persian aid was concerned. Though persisting in his policy of lending no decisive assistance to either party and of merely prolonging the war so as to enfeeble both, he yet began to fear that he was pushing matters too far against the Peloponnesians, who had now been two months inactive at Rhodes, with their large fleet hauled ashore. He had no treaty with them actually in force, since Lichas had disallowed the two previous conventions; nor had he furnished them with pay or maintenance. His bribes to the officers had hitherto kept the armament quiet; yet we do not distinctly see how so large a body of men found subsistence.[25] He was now, however, apprized that they could find subsistence no longer, and that they would probably desert, or commit depredations on the coast of his satrapy, or perhaps be driven to hasten on a general action with the Athenians, under desperate circumstances. Under such apprehensions he felt compelled to put himself again in communication with them, to furnish them with pay, and to conclude with them a third convention, the proposition of which he had refused to entertain at Knidus. He therefore went to Kaunus, invited the Peloponnesian leaders to Milêtus, and concluded with them near that town a treaty to the following effect:—

“In this thirteenth year of the reign of Darius, and in the ephorship of Alexippidas at Lacedæmon, a convention is hereby concluded by the Lacedæmonians and their allies, with Tissa[p. 24]phernês and Hieramenês and the sons of Pharnakês, respecting the affairs of the king and of the Lacedæmonians and their allies. The territory of the king, as much of it as is in Asia, shall belong to the king. Let the king determine as he chooses respecting his own territory. The Lacedæmonians and their allies shall not approach the king’s territory with any mischievous purpose, nor shall the king approach that of the Lacedæmonians and their allies with any like purpose. If any one among the Lacedæmonians or their allies shall approach the king’s territory with mischievous purpose, the Lacedæmonians and their allies shall hinder him: if any one from the king’s territory shall approach the Lacedæmonians or their allies with mischievous purpose, the king shall hinder him. Tissaphernês shall provide pay and maintenance, for the fleet now present, at the rate already stipulated, until the king’s fleet shall arrive; after that, it shall be at the option of the Lacedæmonians to maintain their own fleet, if they think fit; or, if they prefer, Tissaphernês shall furnish maintenance, and at the close of the war the Lacedæmonians shall repay to him what they have received. After the king’s fleet shall have arrived, the two fleets shall carry on war conjointly, in such manner as shall seem good to Tissaphernês and the Lacedæmonians and their allies. If they choose to close the war with the Athenians, they shall close it only by joint consent.”[26]

In comparing this third convention with the two preceding, we find that nothing is now stipulated as to any territory except the continent of Asia; which is insured unreservedly to the king, of course with all the Greek residents planted upon it. But by a diplomatic finesse, the terms of the treaty imply that this is not all the territory which the king is entitled to claim, though nothing is covenanted as to any remainder.[27] Next, this third treaty includes Pharnabazus, the son of Pharnakês, with his satrapy of Daskylium, and Hieramenês, with his district, the extent and position of which we do not know; while in the former[p. 25] treaties no other satrap except Tissaphernês had been concerned. We must recollect that the Peloponnesian fleet included those twenty-seven triremes, which had been brought across by Kalligeitus expressly for the aid of Pharnabazus; and therefore that the latter now naturally became a party to the general operations. Thirdly, we here find, for the first time, formal announcement of a Persian fleet about to be brought up as auxiliary to the Peloponnesians. This was a promise which the satrap now set forth more plainly than before, to amuse them, and to abate the mistrust which they had begun to conceive of his sincerity. It served the temporary purpose of restraining them from any immediate act of despair hostile to his interests, which was all that he looked for. While he renewed his payments, therefore, for the moment, he affected to busy himself in orders and preparations for the fleet from Phenicia.[28]

The Peloponnesian fleet was now ordered to move from Rhodes. Before it quitted that island, however, envoys came thither from Eretria and from Orôpus; which latter place, a dependency on the northeastern frontier of Attica, though protected by an Athenian garrison, had recently been surprised and captured by the Bœotians. The loss of Orôpus much increased the facilities for the revolt of Eubœa; and these envoys came to entreat aid from the Peloponnesian fleet, to second that island in that design. The Peloponnesian commanders, however, felt themselves under prior obligation to relieve the sufferers at Chios, towards which island they first bent their course. But they had scarcely passed the Triopian cape, when they saw the Athenian squadron from Chalkê dogging their motions. Though there was no wish on either side for a general battle, yet they saw evidently that the Athenians would not permit them to pass by Samos, and get to the relief of Chios, without one. Renouncing, therefore, the project of relieving Chios, they again concentrated their force at Milêtus, while the Athenian fleet was also again united at Samos.[29] It was about the end of March, 411 B.C., that the two fleets were thus replaced in the stations which they had occupied four months previously.

[p. 26]

After the breach with Alkibiadês, and still more after this manifest reconciliation of Tissaphernês with the Peloponnesians, Peisander and the oligarchical conspirators at Samos had to reconsider their plan of action. They would not have begun the movement at first, had they not been instigated by Alkibiadês, and furnished by him with the treacherous delusion of Persian alliance to cheat and paralyze the people. They had, indeed, motives enough, from their own personal ambition, to originate it of themselves, apart from Alkibiadês; but without the hopes—equally useful for their purpose, whether false or true—connected with his name, they would have had no chance of achieving the first step. Now, however, that first step had been achieved, before the delusive expectation of Persian gold was dissipated. The Athenian people had been familiarized with the idea of a subversion of their constitution, in consideration of a certain price: it remained to extort from them at the point of the sword, without paying the price, what they had thus consented to sell.[30] Moreover, the leaders of the scheme felt themselves already compromised, so that they could not recede with safety. They had set in motion their partisans at Athens, where the system of murderous intimidation, though the news had not as yet reached Samos, was already in full swing: so that they felt constrained to persevere, as the only chance of preservation to themselves. At the same time, all that faint pretence of public benefit, in the shape of Persian alliance, which had been originally attached to it, and which might have been conceived to enlist in the scheme some timid patriots, was now entirely withdrawn; and nothing remained except a naked, selfish, and unscrupulous scheme of ambition, not only ruining the freedom of Athens at home, but crippling and imperiling her before the foreign enemy, at a moment when her entire strength was scarcely adequate to the contest. The conspirators resolved to persevere, at all hazards, both in breaking down the constitution and in carrying on the foreign war. Most of them being rich men, they were con[p. 27]tent, Thucydidês observes, to defray the cost out of their own purses, now that they were contending, not for their country, but for their own power and profit.[31]

They lost no time in proceeding to execution, immediately after returning to Samos from the abortive conference with Alkibiadês. While they despatched Peisander with five of the envoys back to Athens, to consummate what was already in progress there, and the remaining five to oligarchize the dependent allies, they organized all their partisan force in the armament, and began to take measures for putting down the democracy in Samos itself. That democracy had been the product of a forcible revolution, effected about ten months before, by the aid of three Athenian triremes. It had since preserved Samos from revolting like Chios: it was now the means of preserving the democracy at Athens itself. The partisans of Peisander, finding it an invincible obstacle to their views, contrived to gain over a party of the leading Samians now in authority under it. Three hundred of these latter, a portion of those who ten months before had risen in arms to put down the preëxisting oligarchy, now enlisted as conspirators along with the Athenian oligarchs, to put down the Samian democracy, and get possession of the government for themselves. The new alliance was attested and cemented, according to genuine oligarchical practice, by a murder without judicial trial, or an assassination, for which a suitable victim was at hand. The Athenian Hyperbolus, who had been ostracized some years before by the coalition of Nikias and Alkibiadês, together with their respective partisans,—ostracized as Thucydidês tells us, not from any fear of his power and over-ascendent influence, but from his low character, and from his being a disgrace to the city, and thus ostracized by an abuse of the institution,—was now resident at Samos. As he was not a Samian, and had, moreover, been in banishment during the last five or six years, he could have had no power either in the island or the armament, and therefore his death served no prospective[p. 28] purpose. But he represented the demagogic and accusatory eloquence of the democracy, the check upon official delinquency; so that he served as a common object of antipathy to Athenian and Samian oligarchs. Some of the Athenian partisans, headed by Charmînus, one of the generals, in concert with the Samian conspirators, seized Hyperbolus and put him to death, seemingly with some other victims at the same time.[32]

But though these joint assassinations served as a pledge to each section of the conspirators for the fidelity of the other, in respect to farther operations, they at the same time gave warning to opponents. Those leading men at Samos who remained attached to the democracy, looking abroad for defence against the coming attack, made earnest appeal to Leon and Diomedon, the two generals most recently arrived from Athens in substitution for Phrynichus and Skironidês,—men sincerely devoted to the democracy, and adverse to all oligarchical change, as well as to the trierarch Thrasyllus, to Thrasybulus, son of Lykus, then serving as an hoplite, and to many others of the pronounced democrats and patriots in the Athenian armament. They made appeal not simply in behalf of their own personal safety and of their own democracy, now threatened by conspirators of whom a portion were Athenians, but also on grounds of public interest to Athens; since, if Samos became oligarchized, its sympathy with the Athenian democracy and its fidelity to the alliance would be at an end. At this moment the most recent events which had occurred at Athens, presently to be told, were not[p. 29] known, and the democracy was considered as still subsisting there.[33]

To stand by the assailed democracy of Samos, and to preserve the island itself, now the mainstay of the shattered Athenian empire, were motives more than sufficient to awaken the Athenian leaders thus solicited. Commencing a personal canvass among the soldiers and seamen, and invoking their interference to avert the overthrow of the Samian democracy, they found the general sentiment decidedly in their favor, but most of all, among the parali, or crew of the consecrated public trireme, called the paralus. These men were the picked seamen of the state,—each of them not merely a freeman, but a full Athenian citizen, receiving higher pay than the ordinary seamen, and known as devoted to the democratical constitution, with an active repugnance to oligarchy itself as well as to everything which scented of it.[34] The vigilance of Leon and Diomedon on the defensive side, counteracted the machinations of their colleague Charmînus, along with the conspirators, and provided for the Samian democracy faithful auxiliaries constantly ready for action. Presently, the conspirators made a violent attack to overthrow the government; but though they chose their own moment and opportunity, they still found themselves thoroughly worsted in the struggle, especially through the energetic aid of the parali. Thirty of their number were slain in the contest, and three of the most guilty afterwards condemned to banishment. The victorious party took no farther revenge, even upon the remainder of the three hundred conspirators, granted a general amnesty, and did their best to reëstablish constitutional and harmonious working of the democracy.[35]

[p. 30]

Chæreas, an Athenian trierarch, who had been forward in the contest, was sent in the paralus itself to Athens, to make communication of what had occurred. But this democratical crew, on reaching their native city, instead of being received with that welcome which they doubtless expected, found a state of things not less odious than surprising. The democracy of Athens had been subverted: instead of the senate of Five Hundred, and the assembled people, an oligarchy of Four Hundred self-installed persons were enthroned with sovereign authority in the senate-house. The first order of the Four Hundred, on hearing that the paralus had entered Peiræus, was to imprison two or three of the crew, and to remove all the rest from their own privileged trireme aboard a common trireme, with orders to depart forthwith and to cruise near Eubœa. The commander, Chæreas, found means to escape, and returned back to Samos to tell the unwelcome news.[36]

The steps, whereby this oligarchy of Four Hundred had been gradually raised up to their new power, must be taken up from the time when Peisander quitted Athens,—after having obtained the vote of the public assembly authorizing him to treat with Alkibiadês and Tissaphernês,—and after having set on foot a joint organization and conspiracy of all the anti-popular clubs, which fell under the management especially of Antiphon and Theramenês, afterwards aided by Phrynichus. All the members of that Board of Elders called Probûli, who had been named after the defeat in Sicily, with Agnon, father of Theramenês, at their head,[37]—together with many other leading citizens, some of whom had been counted among the firmest friends of the democracy, joined the conspiracy; while the oligarchical and the neutral rich came into it with ardor; so that a body of partisans was formed both numerous and well provided with money. Antiphon did not attempt to bring them together, or to make any public demonstration, armed or unarmed, for the purpose of overawing the actual authorities. He permitted the sen[p. 31]ate and the public assembly to go on meeting and debating as usual; but his partisans, neither the names nor the numbers of whom were publicly known, received from him instructions both when to speak and what language to hold. The great topic upon which they descanted, was the costliness of democratical institutions in the present distressed state of the finances, the heavy tax imposed upon the state by paying the senators, the dikasts, the ekklesiasts, or citizens who attended the public assembly, etc. The state could now afford to pay only those soldiers who fought in its defence, nor ought any one else to touch the public money. It was essential, they insisted, to exclude from the political franchise all except a select body of Five Thousand, composed of those who were best able to do service to the city by person and by purse.

The extensive disfranchisement involved in this last proposition was quite sufficiently shocking to the ears of an Athenian assembly. But in reality the proposition was itself a juggle, never intended to become reality, and representing something far short of what Antiphon and his partisans intended. Their design was to appropriate the powers of government to themselves simply, without control or partnership, leaving this body of Five Thousand not merely unconvened, but non-existent, as a mere empty name to impose upon the citizens generally. Of this real intention, however, not a word was as yet spoken. The projected body of Five Thousand was the theme preached upon by all the party orators; yet without submitting any substantive motion for the change, which could not be yet done without illegality.

Even thus indirectly advocated, the project of cutting down the franchise to Five Thousand, and of suppressing all the paid civil functions, was a change sufficiently violent to call forth abundant opponents. For such opponents Antiphon was fully prepared. Of the men who thus stood forward in opposition, either all, or at least all the most prominent, were successively taken off by private assassination. The first of them who thus perished was Androklês, distinguished as a demagogue, or popular speaker, and marked out to vengeance not only by that circumstance, but by the farther fact that he had been among the most vehement accusers of Alkibiadês before his exile. For at this[p. 32] time, the breach of Peisander with Tissaphernês and Alkibiadês had not yet become known at Athens, so that the latter was still supposed to be on the point of returning home as a member of the contemplated oligarchical government. After Androklês, many other speakers of similar sentiments perished in the same way, by unknown hands. A band of Grecian youths, strangers, and got together from different cities,[38] was organized for the business: the victims were all chosen on the same special ground, and the deed was so skilfully perpetrated that neither director nor instrument ever became known. After these assassinations—sure, special, secret, and systematic, emanating from an unknown directory, like a Vehmic tribunal—had continued for some time, the terror which they inspired became intense and universal. No justice could be had, no inquiry could be instituted, even for the death of the nearest and dearest relative. At last, no man dared to demand or even to mention inquiry, looking upon himself as fortunate that he had escaped the same fate in his own person. So finished an organization, and such well-aimed blows, raised a general belief that the conspirators were much more numerous than they were in reality. And as it turned out that there were persons among them who had before been accounted hearty democrats,[39] so at last dismay and mistrust became[p. 33] universally prevalent. Nor did any one dare even to express indignation at the murders going on, much less to talk about redress or revenge, for fear that he might be communicating with one of the unknown conspirators. In the midst of this terrorism, all opposition ceased in the senate and public assembly, so that the speakers of the conspiring oligarchy appeared to carry an unanimous assent.[40]

Such was the condition to which things had been brought in Athens, by Antiphon and the oligarchical conspirators acting under his direction, at the time when Peisander and the five envoys arrived thither returning from Samos. It is probable that they had previously transmitted home from Samos news of the rupture with Alkibiadês, and of the necessity of prosecuting the conspiracy without farther view either to him or to the Persian alliance. Such news would probably be acceptable both to Antiphon and Phrynichus, both of them personal enemies of Alkibiadês; especially Phrynichus, who had pronounced him to be incapable of fraternizing with an oligarchical revolution.[41] At any rate, the plans of Antiphon had been independent of all view to Persian aid, and had been directed to carry the revolution by means of naked, exorbitant, and well-directed fear, without any intermixture of hope or any prospect of public benefit. Peisander found the reign of terror fully matured. He had not come direct from Samos to Athens, but had halted in his voyage at various allied dependencies, while the other five envoys, as well as a partisan named Diotrephês, had been sent to Thasos and elsewhere;[42] all for the same purpose, of putting down[p. 34] democracies in those allied cities where they existed, and establishing oligarchies in their room. Peisander made this change at Tênos, Andros, Karystus, Ægina, and elsewhere; collecting from these several places a regiment of three hundred hoplites, which he brought with him to Athens as a sort of body-guard to his new oligarchy.[43] He could not know until he reached Peiræus the full success of the terrorism organized by Antiphon and the rest; so that he probably came prepared to surmount a greater resistance than he actually found. As the facts stood, so completely had the public opinion and spirit been subdued, that he was enabled to put the finishing stroke at once, and his arrival was the signal for consummating the revolution, first, by an extorted suspension of the tutelary constitutional sanction, next, by the more direct employment of armed force.

First, he convoked a public assembly, in which he proposed a decree, naming ten commissioners with full powers, to prepare propositions for such political reform as they should think advisable, and to be ready by a given day.[44] According to the usual[p. 35] practice, this decree must previously have been approved in the senate of Five Hundred, before it was submitted to the people. Such was doubtless the case in the present instance, and the decree passed without any opposition. On the day fixed, a fresh assembly met, which Peisander and his partisans caused to be held, not in the usual place, called the Pnyx, within the city walls, but at a place called Kolônus, ten stadia, rather more than a mile, without the walls,[45] north of the city. Kolônus was a temple of Poseidon, within the precinct of which the assembly was inclosed for the occasion. Such an assembly was not likely to be numerous, wherever held,[46] since there could be little motive to attend, when freedom of debate was extinguished; but the oligarchical conspirators now transferred it without the walls; selecting a narrow area for the meeting, in order that they might lessen still farther the chance of numerous attendance, an assembly which they fully designed should be the last in the history of Athens. They were thus also more out of the reach of an armed movement in the city, as well as enabled to post their own armed partisans around, under color of protecting the meeting against disturbance by the Lacedæmonians from Dekeleia.

The proposition of the newly-appointed commissioners—probably Peisander, Antiphon, and other partisans themselves—was exceedingly short and simple. They merely moved the abolition[p. 36] of the celebrated Graphê Paranomôn; that is, they proposed that every Athenian citizen should have full liberty of making any anti-constitutional proposition that he chose, and that every other citizen should be interdicted, under heavy penalties, from prosecuting him by graphê paranomôn indictment on the score of informality, illegality, or unconstitutionality, or from doing him any other mischief. This proposition was adopted without a single dissentient. It was thought more formal by the directing chiefs to sever this proposition pointedly from the rest, and to put it, singly and apart, into the mouth of the special commissioners; since it was the legalizing condition of every other positive change which they were about to move afterwards. Full liberty being thus granted to make any motion, however anti-constitutional, and to dispense with all the established formalities, such as preliminary authorization by the senate, Peisander now came forward with his substantive propositions to the following effect:—

1. All the existing democratical magistracies were suppressed at once, and made to cease for the future. 2. No civil functions whatever were hereafter to be salaried. 3. To constitute a new government, a committee of five persons were named forthwith, who were to choose a larger body of one hundred; that is, one hundred including the five choosers themselves. Each individual out of this body of one hundred, was to choose three persons. 4. A body of Four Hundred was thus constituted, who were to take their seat in the senate-house, and to carry on the government with unlimited powers, according to their own discretion. 5. They were to convene the Five Thousand, whenever they might think fit.[47] All was passed without a dissentient voice.

The invention and employment of this imaginary aggregate of Five Thousand was not the least dexterous among the combinations of Antiphon. No one knew who these Five Thousand were: yet the resolution just adopted purported,—not that such a number of citizens should be singled out and constituted, either by choice, or by lot, or in some determinate manner which should exhibit them to the view and knowledge of others,—but that the[p. 37] Four Hundred should convene The Five Thousand, whenever they thought proper: thus assuming the latter to be a list already made up and notorious, at least to the Four Hundred themselves. The real fact was, that the Five Thousand existed nowhere except in the talk and proclamations of the conspirators, as a supplement of fictitious auxiliaries. They did not even exist as individual names on paper, but simply as an imposturous nominal aggregate. The Four Hundred, now installed, formed the entire and exclusive rulers of the state.[48] But the mere name of the Five Thousand, though it was nothing more than a name, served two important purposes for Antiphon and his conspiracy. First, it admitted of being falsely produced, especially to the armament at Samos, as proof of a tolerably numerous and popular body of equal, qualified, concurrent citizens, all intended to take their turn by rotation in exercising the powers of government; thus lightening the odium of extreme usurpation to the Four Hundred, and passing them off merely as the earliest section of the Five Thousand, put into office for a few months, and destined at the end of that period to give place to another equal section.[49] Next,[p. 38] it immensely augmented the means of intimidation possessed by the Four Hundred at home, by exaggerating the impression of their supposed strength. For the citizens generally were made to believe that there were five thousand real and living partners in the conspiracy; while the fact that these partners were not known and could not be individually identified, rather aggravated the reigning terror and mistrust; since every man, suspecting that his neighbor might possibly be among them, was afraid to communicate his discontent or propose means for joint resistance.[50] In both these two ways, the name and assumed existence of the Five Thousand lent strength to the real Four Hundred conspirators. It masked their usurpation, while it increased their hold on the respect and fears of the citizens.

As soon as the public assembly at Kolônus had, with such seeming unanimity, accepted all the propositions of Peisander, they were dismissed; and the new regiment of Four Hundred were chosen and constituted in the form prescribed. It now only remained to install them in the senate-house. But this could not be done without force, since the senators were already within it; having doubtless gone thither immediately from the assembly, where their presence, at least the presence of the prytanes, or senators of the presiding tribe, was essential as legal presidents. They had to deliberate what they would do under the decree just passed, which divested them of all authority. Nor was it impossible that they might organize armed resistance; for which there seemed more than usual facility at the present moment, since the occupation of Dekeleia by the Lacedæmonians kept Athens in a condition like that of a permanent camp, with a large proportion of the citizens day and night under arms.[51] Against this chance the Four Hundred made provision. They selected that hour of[p. 39] the day when the greater number of citizens habitually went home, probably to their morning meal, leaving the military station, with the arms piled and ready, under comparatively thin watch. While the general body of hoplites left the station at this hour, according to the usual practice, the hoplites—Andrian, Tenian, and others—in the immediate confidence of the Four Hundred, were directed, by private order, to hold themselves prepared and in arms, at a little distance off; so that if any symptoms should appear of resistance being contemplated, they might at once interfere and forestall it. Having taken this precaution, the Four Hundred marched in a body to the senate-house, each man with a dagger concealed under his garment, and followed by their special body-guard of one hundred and twenty young men from various Grecian cities, the instruments of the assassinations ordered by Antiphon and his colleagues. In this array they marched into the senate-house, where the senators were assembled, and commanded them to depart; at the same time tendering to them their pay for all the remainder of the year,—seemingly about three months or more down to the beginning of Hecatombæon, the month of new nominations,—during which their functions ought to have continued. The senators were no way prepared to resist the decree just passed under the forms of legality with an armed body now arrived to enforce its execution. They obeyed and departed, each man as he passed the door receiving the salary tendered to him. That they should yield obedience to superior force, under the circumstances, can excite neither censure nor surprise; but that they should accept, from the hands of the conspirators, this anticipation of an unearned salary, was a meanness which almost branded them as accomplices, and dishonored the expiring hour of the last democratical authority. The Four Hundred now found themselves triumphantly installed in the senate-house; without the least resistance, either within its walls, or even without, by any portion of the citizens.[52]

Thus perished, or seemed to perish, the democracy of Athens, after an uninterrupted existence of nearly one hundred years since the revolution of Kleisthenês. So incredible did it appear that the numerous, intelligent, and constitutional citizens of Ath[p. 40]ens should suffer their liberties to be overthrown by a band of four hundred conspirators, while the great mass of them not only loved their democracy, but had arms in their hands to defend it, that even their enemy and neighbor Agis, at Dekeleia, could hardly imagine the revolution to be a fact accomplished. We shall see presently that it did not stand,—nor would it probably have stood, had circumstances even been more favorable,—but the accomplishment of it at all, is an incident too extraordinary to be passed over without some words in explanation.

We must remark that the tremendous catastrophe and loss of blood in Sicily had abated the energy of the Athenian character generally, but especially had made them despair of their foreign relations; of the possibility that they could make head against enemies, increased in number by revolts among their own allies, and farther sustained by Persian gold. Upon this sentiment of despair is brought to bear the treacherous delusion of Alkibiadês, offering them the Persian aid; that is, means of defence and success against foreign enemies, at the price of their democracy. Reluctantly the people are brought, but they are brought, to entertain the proposition: and thus the conspirators gain their first capital point, of familiarizing the people with the idea of such a change of constitution. The ulterior success of the conspiracy—when all prospect of Persian gold, or improved foreign position, was at an end—is due to the combinations, alike nefarious and skilful, of Antiphon, wielding and organizing the united strength of the aristocratical classes at Athens; strength always exceedingly great, but under ordinary circumstances working in fractions disunited and even reciprocally hostile to each other,—restrained by the ascendant democratical institutions,—and reduced to corrupt what it could not overthrow. Antiphon, about to employ this anti-popular force in one systematic scheme, and for the accomplishment of a predetermined purpose, keeps still within the same ostensible constitutional limits. He raises no open mutiny: he maintains inviolate the cardinal point of Athenian political morality, respect to the decision of the senate and political assembly, as well as to constitutional maxims. But he knows well that the value of these meetings, as political securities, depends upon entire freedom of speech; and that, if that freedom be suppressed, the assembly itself becomes a nullity, or rather an instrument[p. 41] of positive imposture and mischief. Accordingly, he causes all the popular orators to be successively assassinated, so that no man dares to open his mouth on that side; while on the other hand, the anti-popular speakers are all loud and confident, cheering one another on, and seeming to represent all the feeling of the persons present. By thus silencing each individual leader, and intimidating every opponent from standing forward as spokesman, he extorts the formal sanction of the assembly and the senate to measures which the large majority of the citizens detest. That majority, however, are bound by their own constitutional forms; and when the decision of these, by whatever means obtained, is against them, they have neither the inclination nor the courage to resist. In no part of the world has this sentiment of constitutional duty, and submission to the vote of a legal majority, been more keenly and universally felt, than it was among the citizens of democratical Athens.[53] Antiphon thus finds means to employ the constitutional sentiment of Athens as a means of killing the constitution: the mere empty form, after its vital and protective efficacy has been abstracted, remains simply as a cheat to paralyze individual patriotism.

It was this cheat which rendered the Athenians indisposed to stand forward with arms in defence of that democracy to which they were attached. Accustomed as they were to unlimited pacific contention within the bounds of their constitution, they were in the highest degree averse to anything like armed intestine contention. This is the natural effect of an established free and equal polity, to substitute the contests of the tongue for those of the sword, and sometimes, even to create so extreme a disinclination to the latter, that if liberty be energetically assailed, the counter-energy necessary for its defence may probably be found wanting. So difficult is it for the same people to have both the qualities requisite for making a free constitution work well in ordinary times, together with those very different qualities requisite for upholding it against exceptional dangers and under trying emergencies. None but an Athenian of extraordinary ability,[p. 42] like Antiphon, would have understood the art of thus making the constitutional feeling of his countrymen subservient to the success of his conspiracy, and of maintaining the forms of legal dealing towards assembled and constitutional bodies, while he violated them in secret and successive stabs directed against individuals. Political assassination had been unknown at Athens, as far as our information reaches, since it was employed, about fifty years before, by the oligarchical party against Ephialtês, the coadjutor of Periklês.[54] But this had been an individual case, and it was reserved for Antiphon and Phrynichus to organize a band of assassins working systematically, and taking off a series of leading victims one after the other. As the Macedonian kings in after-times required the surrender of the popular orators in a body, so the authors of this conspiracy found the same enemies to deal with, and adopted another way of getting rid of them; thus reducing the assembly into a tame and lifeless mass, capable of being intimidated into giving its collective sanction to measures which its large majority detested.

As Grecian history has been usually written, we are instructed to believe that the misfortunes, and the corruption, and the degradation of the democratical states are brought upon them by the class of demagogues, of whom Kleon, Hyperbolus, Androklês, etc., stand forth as specimens. These men are represented as mischief-makers and revilers, accusing without just cause, and converting innocence into treason. Now the history of this conspiracy of the Four Hundred presents to us the other side of the picture. It shows that the political enemies—against whom the Athenian people were protected by their democratical institutions, and by the demagogues as living organs of those institutions—were not fictitious but dangerously real. It reveals the continued existence of powerful anti-popular combinations, ready to come together for treasonable purposes when the moment appeared safe and tempting. It manifests the character and morality of the leaders, to whom the direction of the anti-popular force naturally fell. It proves that these leaders, men of uncommon ability, required nothing more than the extinction or silence of the dema[p. 43]gogues, to be enabled to subvert the popular securities and get possession of the government. We need no better proof to teach us what was the real function and intrinsic necessity of these demagogues in the Athenian system, taking them as a class, and apart from the manner in which individuals among them may have performed their duty. They formed the vital movement of all that was tutelary and public-spirited in democracy. Aggressive in respect to official delinquents, they were defensive in respect to the public and the constitution. If that anti-popular force, which Antiphon found ready-made, had not been efficient, at a much earlier moment, in stifling the democracy, it was because there were demagogues to cry aloud, as well as assemblies to hear and sustain them. If Antiphon’s conspiracy was successful, it was because he knew where to aim his blows, so as to strike down the real enemies of the oligarchy and the real defenders of the people. I here employ the term demagogues because it is that commonly used by those who denounce the class of men here under review: the proper neutral phrase, laying aside odious associations, would be to call them popular speakers, or opposition speakers. But, by whatever name they may be called, it is impossible rightly to conceive their position in Athens, without looking at them in contrast and antithesis with those anti-popular forces against which they formed the indispensable barrier, and which come forth into such manifest and melancholy working under the organizing hands of Antiphon and Phrynichus.

As soon as the Four Hundred found themselves formally installed in the senate-house, they divided themselves by lot into separate prytanies,—probably ten in number, consisting of forty members each, like the former senate of Five Hundred, in order that the distribution of the year to which the people were accustomed might not be disturbed,—and then solemnized their installation by prayer and sacrifice. They put to death some political enemies, though not many: they farther imprisoned and banished others, and made large changes in the administration of affairs, carrying everything with a strictness and rigor unknown under the old constitution.[55] It seems to have been proposed[p. 44] among them to pass a vote of restoration to all persons under sentence of exile. But this was rejected by the majority in order that Alkibiadês might not be among the number; nor did they think it expedient, notwithstanding, to pass the law, reserving him as a special exception.

They farther despatched a messenger to Agis at Dekeleia, intimating their wish to treat for peace; which, they affirmed, he ought to be ready to grant to them, now that “the faithless Demos” was put down. Agis, however, not believing that the Athenian people would thus submit to be deprived of their liberty, anticipated that intestine dissension would certainly break out, or at least that some portion of the Long Walls would be found unguarded, should a foreign army appear. While therefore he declined the overtures for peace, he at the same time sent for reinforcements out of Peloponnesus, and marched with a considerable army, in addition to his own garrison, up to the very walls of Athens. But he found the ramparts carefully manned: no commotion took place within: even a sally was made, in which some advantage was gained over him. He therefore speedily retired, sending back his newly-arrived reinforcements to Peloponnesus; while the Four Hundred, on renewing their advances to him for peace, now found themselves much better received, and were even encouraged to despatch envoys to Sparta itself.[56]

As soon as they had thus got over the first difficulties, and placed matters on a footing which seemed to promise stability, they despatched ten envoys to Samos. Aware beforehand of the danger impending over them in that quarter from the known aversion of the soldiers and seamen to anything in the nature of oligarchy, they had, moreover, just heard, by the arrival of Chæreas and the paralus, of the joint attack made by the Athenian and Samian oligarchs, and of its complete failure. Had this event occurred a little earlier, it might perhaps have deterred even some of their own number from proceeding with the revolution at Athens, which was rendered thereby almost sure of failure, from the first. Their ten envoys were instructed to represent at Samos that the recent oligarchy had been established with no views injurious to the city, but on the contrary for the general[p. 45] benefit; that though the Council now installed consisted of Four Hundred only, yet the total number of partisans who had made the revolution, and were qualified citizens under it, was Five Thousand; a number greater, they added, than had ever been actually assembled in the Pnyx under the democracy, even for the most important debates,[57] in consequence of the unavoidable absences of numerous individuals on military service and foreign travel.

What satisfaction might have been given, by this allusion to the fictitious Five Thousand, or by the fallacious reference to the numbers, real or pretended, of the past democratical assemblies, had these envoys carried to Samos the first tidings of the Athenian revolution, we cannot say. They were forestalled by Chæreas, the officer of the paralus; who, though the Four Hundred tried to detain him, made his escape and hastened to Samos to communicate the fearful and unexpected change which had occurred at Athens. Instead of hearing that change described under the treacherous extenuations prescribed by Antiphon and Phrynichus, the armament first learned it from the lips of Chæreas, who told them at once the extreme truth, and even more than the truth. He recounted, with indignation, that every Athenian who ventured to say a word against the Four Hundred rulers of the city, was punished with the scourge; that even the wives and children of persons hostile to them were outraged; that there[p. 46] was a design of seizing and imprisoning the relatives of the democrats at Samos, and putting them to death, if the latter refused to obey orders from Athens. The simple narrative of what had really occurred would have been quite sufficient to provoke in the armament a sentiment of detestation against the Four Hundred. But these additional details of Chæreas, partly untrue, filled them with uncontrollable wrath, which they manifested by open menace against the known partisans of the Four Hundred at Samos, as well as against those who had taken part in the recent oligarchical conspiracy in the island. It was not without difficulty that their hands were arrested by the more reflecting citizens present, who remonstrated against the madness of such disorderly proceedings when the enemy was close upon them.

But though violence and aggressive insult were thus seasonably checked, the sentiment of the armament was too ardent and unanimous to be satisfied without some solemn, emphatic, and decisive declaration against the oligarchs at Athens. A great democratical manifestation, of the most earnest and imposing character, was proclaimed, chiefly at the instance of Thrasybulus and Thrasyllus. The Athenian armament, brought together in one grand assembly, took an oath by the most stringent sanctions: to maintain their democracy; to keep up friendship and harmony with each other; to carry on the war against the Peloponnesians with energy; to be at enmity with the Four Hundred at Athens, and to enter into no amicable communication with them whatever. The whole armament swore to this compact with enthusiasm, and even those who had before taken part in the oligarchical movements were forced to be forward in the ceremony.[58] What lent double force to this touching scene was, that the entire Samian pop[p. 47]ulation, every male of the military age, took the oath along with the friendly armament. Both pledged themselves to mutual fidelity and common suffering or triumph, whatever might be the issue of the contest. Both felt that the Peloponnesians at Milêtus, and the Four Hundred at Athens, were alike their enemies, and that the success of either would be their common ruin.

Pursuant to this resolution,—of upholding their democracy and at the same time sustaining the war against the Peloponnesians, at all cost or peril to themselves,—the soldiers of the armament now took a step unparalleled in Athenian history. Feeling that they could no longer receive orders from Athens under her present oligarchical rulers, with whom Charmînus and others among their own leaders were implicated, they constituted themselves into a sort of community apart, and held an assembly as citizens to choose anew their generals and trierarchs. Of those already in command, several were deposed as unworthy of trust; others being elected in their places, especially Thrasybulus and Thrasyllus. Nor was the assembly held for election alone; it was a scene of effusive sympathy, animating eloquence, and patriotism generous as well as resolute. The united armament felt that they were the real Athens; the guardians of her constitution, the upholders of her remaining empire and glory, the protectors of her citizens at home against those conspirators who had intruded themselves wrongfully into the senate-house; the sole barrier, even for those conspirators themselves, against the hostile Peloponnesian fleet. “The city has revolted from us,” exclaimed Thrasybulus and others in pregnant words, which embodied a whole train of feeling.[59] “But let not this abate our courage: for they are only the lesser force, we are the greater and the self-sufficing. We have here the whole navy of the state, whereby we can insure to ourselves the contributions from our dependencies just as well as if we started from Athens. We have the hearty attachment of Samos, second in power only to Athens herself, and serving us as a military station against the enemy, now as in the past. We are better able to obtain supplies for[p. 48] ourselves, than those in the city for themselves; for it is only through our presence at Samos that they have hitherto kept the mouth of Peiræus open. If they refuse to restore to us our democratical constitution, we shall be better able to exclude them from the sea than they to exclude us. What, indeed, does the city do now for us to second our efforts against the enemy? Little or nothing. We have lost nothing by their separation. They send us no pay, they leave us to provide maintenance for ourselves; they are now out of condition for sending us even good counsel, which is the great superiority of a city over a camp.[60] As counsellors, we here are better than they; for they have just committed the wrong of subverting the constitution of our common country, while we are striving to maintain it, and will do our best to force them into the same track. Alkibiadês, if we insure to him a safe restoration, will cheerfully bring the alliance of Persia to sustain us; and, even if the worst comes to the worst, if all other hopes fail us, our powerful naval force will always enable us to find places of refuge in abundance, with city and territory adequate to our wants.”

Such was the encouraging language of Thrasyllus and Thrasybulus, which found full sympathy in the armament, and raised among them a spirit of energetic patriotism and resolution, not unworthy of their forefathers when refugees at Salamis under the invasion of Xerxês. To regain their democracy and to sustain the war against the Peloponnesians, were impulses alike ardent and blended in the same tide of generous enthusiasm; a tide so vehement as to sweep before it the reluctance of that minority who had before been inclined to the oligarchical movement. But besides these two impulses, there was also a third, tending towards the recall of Alkibiadês; a coadjutor, if in many ways useful, yet bringing with him a spirit of selfishness and[p. 49] duplicity uncongenial to the exalted sentiment now all-powerful at Samos.[61]

This exile had been the first to originate the oligarchical conspiracy, whereby Athens, already scarcely adequate to the exigencies of her foreign war, was now paralyzed in courage and torn by civil discord, preserved from absolute ruin only by that counter-enthusiasm which a fortunate turn of circumstances had raised up at Samos. Having at first duped the conspirators themselves, and enabled them to dupe the sincere democrats, by promising Persian aid, and thus floating the plot over its first and greatest difficulties,—Alkibiadês had found himself constrained to break with them as soon as the time came for realizing his promises. But he had broken off with so much address as still to keep up the illusion that he could realize them if he chose. His return by means of the oligarchy being now impossible, he naturally became its enemy, and this new antipathy superseded his feeling of revenge against the democracy for having banished him. In fact he was disposed, as Phrynichus had truly said about him,[62] to avail himself indifferently of either, according as the one or the other presented itself as a serviceable agency for his ambitious views. Accordingly, as soon as the turn of affairs at Samos had made itself manifest, he opened communication with Thrasybulus and the democratical leaders,[63] renewing to them the same promises of Persian alliance, on condition of his[p. 50] own restoration, as he had before made to Peisander and the oligarchical party. Thrasybulus and his colleagues either sincerely believed him, or at least thought that his restoration afforded a possibility, not to be neglected, of obtaining Persian aid, without which they despaired of the war. Such possibility would at least infuse spirit into the soldiers; while the restoration was now proposed without the terrible condition which had before accompanied it, of renouncing the democratical constitution.

It was not without difficulty, however, nor until after more than one assembly and discussion,[64] that Thrasybulus prevailed on the armament to pass a vote of security and restoration to Alkibiadês. As Athenian citizens, the soldiers probably were unwilling to take upon them the reversal of a sentence solemnly passed by the democratical tribunal, on the ground of irreligion with suspicion of treason. They were, however, induced to pass the vote, after which Thrasybulus sailed over to the Asiatic coast, brought across Alkibiadês to the island, and introduced him to the assembled armament. The supple exile, who had denounced the democracy so bitterly, both at Sparta, and in his correspondence with the oligarchical conspirators, knew well how to adapt himself to the sympathies of the democratical assembly now before him. He began by deploring the sentence of banishment passed against him, and throwing the blame of it, not upon the injustice of his countrymen, but upon his own unhappy destiny.[65] He then entered upon the public prospects of the moment, pledging himself with entire confidence to realize the hopes of Persian alliance, and boasting, in terms not merely ostentatious but even extravagant, of the ascendant influence which he possessed over Tissaphernês. The satrap had promised him, so the speech went[p. 51] on, never to let the Athenians want for pay, as soon as he once came to trust them, not even if it were necessary to issue out his last daric or to coin his own silver couch into money. Nor would he require any farther condition to induce him to trust them, except that Alkibiadês should be restored and should become their guarantee. Not only would he furnish the Athenians with pay, but he would, besides, bring up to their aid the Phenician fleet, which was already at Aspendus, instead of placing it at the disposal of the Peloponnesians.

In the communications of Alkibiadês with Peisander and his coadjutors, Alkibiadês had pretended that the Great King could have no confidence in the Athenians unless they not only restored him, but abnegated their democracy. On this occasion, the latter condition was withdrawn, and the confidence of the Great King was said to be more easily accorded. But though Alkibiadês thus presented himself with a new falsehood, as well as with a new vein of political sentiment, his discourse was eminently successful. It answered all the various purposes which he contemplated; partly of intimidating and disuniting the oligarchical conspirators at home, partly of exalting his own grandeur in the eyes of the armament, partly of sowing mistrust between the Spartans and Tissaphernês. It was in such full harmony with both the reigning feelings of the armament,—eagerness to put down the Four Hundred, as well as to get the better of their Peloponnesian enemies in Ionia,—that the hearers were not disposed to scrutinize narrowly the grounds upon which his assurances rested. In the fulness of confidence and enthusiasm, they elected him general along with Thrasybulus and the rest, conceiving redoubled hopes of victory over their enemies both at Athens and at Milêtus. So completely, indeed, were their imaginations filled with the prospect of Persian aid, against their enemies in Ionia, that alarm for the danger of Athens under the government of the Four Hundred became the predominant feeling; and many voices were even raised in favor of sailing to Peiræus for the rescue of the city. But Alkibiadês, knowing well—what the armament did not know—that his own promises of Persian pay and fleet were a mere delusion, strenuously dissuaded such a movement, which would have left the dependencies in Ionia defenceless against the Peloponnesians. As soon as the[p. 52] assembly broke up, he crossed over again to the mainland, under pretence of concerting measures with Tissaphernês to realize his recent engagements.

Relieved substantially, though not in strict form, from the penalties of exile, Alkibiadês was thus launched in a new career. After having first played the game of Athens against Sparta, next, that of Sparta against Athens, thirdly, that of Tissaphernês against both, he now professed to take up again the promotion of Athenian interests. In reality, however, he was and had always been playing his own game, or obeying his own self-interest, ambition, or antipathy. He was at this time eager to make a show of intimate and confidential communication with Tissaphernês, in order that he might thereby impose upon the Athenians at Samos, to communicate to the satrap his recent election as general of the Athenian force, that his importance with the Persians might be enhanced, and lastly, by passing backwards and forwards from Tissaphernês to the Athenian camp, to exhibit an appearance of friendly concert between the two, which might sow mistrust and alarm in the minds of the Peloponnesians. In this tripartite manœuvring, so suitable to his habitual character, he was more or less successful, especially in regard to the latter purpose. For though he never had any serious chance of inducing Tissaphernês to assist the Athenians, he did, nevertheless, contribute to alienate him from the enemy, as well as the enemy from him.[66]

Without any longer delay in the camp of Tissaphernês than was necessary to keep up the faith of the Athenians in his promise of Persian aid, Alkibiadês returned to Samos, where he was found by the ten envoys sent by the Four Hundred from Athens, on their first arrival. These envoys had been long in their voyage; having made a considerable stay at Delos, under alarm from intelligence of the previous visit of Chæreas, and the furious indignation which his narrative had provoked.[67] At length they reached Samos, and were invited by the generals to make their communication to the assembled armament. They had the utmost difficulty in procuring a hearing, so strong was the antipathy against them, so loud were the cries that the subverters of the[p. 53] democracy ought to be put to death. Silence being at length obtained, they proceeded to state that the late revolution had been brought to pass for the salvation of the city, and especially for the economy of the public treasure, by suppressing the salaried civil functions of the democracy, and thus leaving more pay for the soldiers;[68] that there was no purpose of mischief in the change, still less of betrayal to the enemy, which might already have been effected, had such been the intention of the Four Hundred, when Agis advanced from Dekeleia up to the walls; that the citizens now possessing the political franchise, were not Four Hundred only, but Five Thousand in number, all of whom would take their turn in rotation for the places now occupied by the Four Hundred;[69] that the recitals of Chæreas,[p. 54] affirming ill-usage to have been offered to the relatives of the soldiers at Athens, were utterly false and calumnious.

Such were the topics on which the envoys insisted, in an apologetic strain, at considerable length, but without any effect in conciliating the soldiers who heard them. The general resentment against the Four Hundred was expressed by several persons present in public speech, by others in private manifestation of feeling against the envoys: and so passionately was this sentiment aggravated,—consisting not only of wrath for what the oligarchy had done, but of fear for what they might do,—that the proposition of sailing immediately to the Peiræus was revived with greater ardor than before. Alkibiadês, who had already once discountenanced this design, now stood forward to repel it again. Nevertheless, all the plenitude of his influence, then greater than that of any other officer in the armament, and seconded by the esteemed character as well as the loud voice of Thrasybulus,[70] was required to avert it. But for him, it would have been executed. While he reproved and silenced those who were most clamorous against the envoys, he took upon himself to give to the latter a public answer in the name of the collective armament. “We make no objection (he said) to the power of the Five Thousand: but the Four Hundred must go about their business, and reinstate the senate of Five Hundred as it was before. We are much obliged for what you have done in the way of economy, so as to increase the pay available for the soldiers. Above all, maintain the war strenuously, without any flinching before the enemy. For if the city be now safely[p. 55] held, there is good hope that we may make up the mutual differences between us by amicable settlement; but if once either of us perish, either we here or you at home, there will be nothing left for the other to make up with.”[71]

With this reply he dismissed the envoys; the armament reluctantly abandoning their wish of sailing to Athens. Thucydidês insists much on the capital service which Alkibiadês then rendered to his country, by arresting a project which would have had the effect of leaving all Ionia and the Hellespont defenceless against the Peloponnesians. His advice doubtless turned out well in the result; yet if we contemplate the state of affairs at the moment when he gave it, we shall be inclined to doubt whether prudential calculation was not rather against him, and in favor of the impulse of the armament. For what was to hinder the Four Hundred from patching up a peace with Sparta, and getting a Lacedæmonian garrison into Athens to help them in maintaining their dominion? Even apart from ambition, this was their best chance, if not their only chance, of safety for themselves; and we shall presently see that they tried to do it; being prevented from succeeding, partly, indeed, by the mutiny which arose against them at Athens, but still more by the stupidity of the Lacedæmonians themselves. Alkibiadês could not really imagine that the Four Hundred would obey his mandate delivered to the envoys, and resign their power voluntarily. But if they remained masters of Athens, who could calculate what they would do,—after having received this declaration of hostility from Samos,—not merely in regard to the foreign enemy, but even in regard to the relatives of the absent soldiers? Whether we look to the legitimate apprehensions of the soldiers, inevitable while their relatives were thus exposed, and almost unnerving them as to the hearty prosecution of the war abroad, in their utter uncertainty with regard to matters at home,—or to the chance of irreparable public calamity, greater even than the loss of Ionia, by the betrayal of Athens to the enemy,—we shall be disposed to con[p. 56]clude that the impulse of the armament was not merely natural, but even founded on a more prudent estimate of the actual chances, and that Alkibiadês was nothing more than fortunate in a sanguine venture. And if, instead of the actual chances, we look to the chances as Alkibiadês represented, and as the armament conceived them upon his authority,—namely, that the Phenician fleet was close at hand to act against the Lacedæmonians in Ionia,—we shall sympathize yet more with the defensive movement homeward. Alkibiadês had an advantage over every one else, simply by knowing his own falsehoods.

At the same assembly were introduced envoys from Argos, bearing a mission of recognition and an offer of aid to the Athenian Demos in Samos. They came in an Athenian trireme, navigated by the parali who had brought home Chæreas in the paralus from Samos to Athens, and had been then transferred into a common ship of war and sent to cruise about Eubœa. Since that time, however, they had been directed to convey Læspodias, Aristophon, and Melêsias,[72] as ambassadors from the Four Hundred to Sparta. But when crossing the Argolic gulf, probably under orders to land at Prasiæ, they declared against the oligarchy, sailed to Argos, and there deposited as prisoners the three ambassadors, who had all been active in the conspiracy of the Four Hundred. Being then about to depart for Samos, they were requested by the Argeians to carry thither their envoys, who were dismissed by Alkibiadês with an expression of gratitude, and with a hope that their aid would be ready when called for.

Meanwhile the envoys returned from Samos to Athens, carrying back to the Four Hundred the unwelcome news of their total failure with the armament. A little before, it appears, some of the trierarchs on service at the Hellespont had returned to Athens also,—Eratosthenês, Iatroklês, and others, who had tried to turn their squadron to the purposes of the oligarchical conspirators, but had been baffled and driven off by the inflexible democracy of their own seamen.[73] If at Athens, the calculations of these[p. 57] conspirators had succeeded more triumphantly than could have been expected beforehand, everywhere else they had completely miscarried; not merely at Samos and in the fleet, but also with the allied dependencies. At the time when Peisander quitted Samos for Athens, to consummate the oligarchical conspiracy even without Alkibiadês, he and others had gone round many of the dependencies and had effected a similar revolution in their internal government, in hopes that they would thus become attached to the new oligarchy at Athens. But this anticipation, as Phrynichus had predicted, was nowhere realized. The newly-created oligarchies only became more anxious for complete autonomy than the democracies had been before. At Thasos, especially, a body of exiles who had for some time dwelt in Peloponnesus were recalled, and active preparations were made for revolt, by new fortifications as well as by new triremes.[74] Instead of strengthening their hold on the maritime empire, the Four Hundred thus found that they had actually weakened it; while the pronounced hostility of the armament at Samos, not only put an end to all their hopes abroad, but rendered their situation at home altogether precarious.

From the moment when the coadjutors of Antiphon first learned, through the arrival of Chæreas at Athens, the proclamation of the democracy at Samos, discord, mistrust, and alarm began to spread even among their own members; together with a conviction that the oligarchy could never stand except through the presence of a Peloponnesian garrison in Athens. While Antiphon and Phrynichus, the leading minds who directed the majority of the Four Hundred, despatched envoys to Sparta for concluding peace,—these envoys never reached Sparta, being seized by the parali and sent prisoners to Argos, as above stated—, and commenced the erection of a special fort at Ectioneia, the projecting mole which contracted and commanded, on the northern side, the narrow entrance of Peiræus, there began to arise even in the bosom of the Four Hundred an opposition minority affect[p. 58]ing popular sentiment, among whom the most conspicuous persons were Theramenês and Aristokratês.[75]

Though these men had stood forward prominently as contrivers and actors throughout the whole progress of the conspiracy, they now found themselves bitterly disappointed by the result. Individually, their ascendency with their colleagues was inferior to that of Peisander, Kallæschrus, Phrynichus, and others; while, collectively, the ill-gotten power of the Four Hundred was diminished in value, as much as it was aggravated in peril, by the loss of the foreign empire and the alienation of their Samian armament. Now began the workings of jealousy and strife among the successful conspirators, each of whom had entered into the scheme with unbounded expectations of personal ambition for himself, each had counted on stepping at once into the first place among the new oligarchical body. In a democracy, observes Thucydidês, contentions for power and preëminence provoke in the unsuccessful competitors less of fierce antipathy and sense of injustice, than in an oligarchy; for the losing candidates acquiesce with comparatively little repugnance in the unfavorable vote of a large miscellaneous body of unknown citizens; but they are angry at being put aside by a few known comrades, their rivals as well as their equals: moreover, at the moment when an oligarchy of ambitious men has just raised itself on the ruins of a democracy, every man of the conspirators is in exaggerated expectation; every one thinks himself entitled to become at once the first man of the body, and is dissatisfied if he be merely put upon a level with the rest.[76]

[p. 59]

Such were the feelings of disappointed ambition, mingled with despondency, which sprung up among a minority of the Four[p. 60] Hundred, immediately after the news of the proclamation of the democracy at Samos among the armament. Theramenês, the[p. 61] leader of this minority,—a man of keen ambition, clever but unsteady and treacherous, not less ready to desert his party than to betray his country, though less prepared for extreme atrocities than many of his oligarchical comrades, began to look out for a good pretence to disconnect himself from a precarious enterprise. Taking advantage of the delusion which the Four Hundred had themselves held out about the fictitious Five Thousand, he insisted that, since the dangers that beset the newly-formed authority were so much more formidable than had been anticipated, it was necessary to popularize the party by enrolling and producing these Five Thousand as a real instead of a fictitious body.[77] Such an opposition, formidable from the very outset, became still bolder and more developed when the envoys returned from Samos, with an account of their reception by the armament, as well as of the answer, delivered in the name of the armament, whereby Alkibiadês directed the Four Hundred to dissolve themselves forthwith, but at the same time approved of the constitution of the Five Thousand, coupled with the restoration of the old senate. To enroll the Five Thousand at once, would be meeting the army half way; and there were hopes that, at that price, a compromise and reconciliation might be effected, of which Alkibiadês had himself spoken as practicable.[78] In addition to the formal answer, the envoys[p. 62] doubtless brought back intimation of the enraged feelings manifested by the armament, and of their eagerness, uncontrollable by every one except Alkibiadês, to sail home forthwith and rescue Athens from the Four Hundred. Hence arose an increased conviction that the dominion of the latter could not last: and an ambition, on the part of others as well as Theramenês, to stand forward as leaders of a popular opposition against it, in the name of the Five Thousand.[79]

Against this popular opposition, Antiphon and Phrynichus[p. 63] exerted themselves, with demagogic assiduity, to caress and keep together the majority of the Four Hundred, as well as to uphold their power without abridgment. They were noway disposed to comply with this requisition that the fiction of the Five Thousand should be converted into a reality. They knew well that the enrollment of so many partners[80] would be tantamount to a democracy, and would be, in substance at least, if not in form, an annihilation of their own power. They had now gone too far to recede with safety; while the menacing attitude of Samos, as well as the opposition growing up against them at home, both within and without their own body, served only as instigation to them to accelerate their measures for peace with Sparta, and to secure the introduction of a Spartan garrison.

With this view, immediately after the return of their envoys from Samos, the two most eminent leaders, Antiphon and Phrynichus, went themselves with ten other colleagues in all haste to Sparta, prepared to purchase peace and the promise of Spartan aid almost at any price. At the same time, the construction of the fortress at Ectioneia was prosecuted with redoubled zeal; under pretence of defending the entrance of Peiræus against the armament from Samos, if the threat of their coming should be executed, but with the real purpose of bringing into it a Lacedæmonian fleet and army. For this latter object every facility was provided. The northwestern corner of the fortification of Peiræus, to the north of the harbor and its mouth, was cut off by a cross wall reaching southward so as to join the harbor: from the southern end of this cross wall, and forming an angle with it, a new wall was built, fronting the harbor and running to the extremity of the mole which narrowed the mouth of the harbor on the northern side, at which mole it met the termination of the northern wall of Peiræus. A separate citadel was thus inclosed, defensible against any attack either from Peiræus or from the harbor; furnished, besides, with distinct broad gates and posterns of its own, as well as with facilities for admitting an enemy with[p. 64]in it.[81] The new cross wall was carried so as to traverse a vast portico, or open market-house, the largest in Peiræus: the larger half of this portico thus became inclosed within the new citadel; and orders were issued that all the corn, both actually warehoused and hereafter to be imported into Peiræus, should be deposited therein and sold out from thence for consumption. As Athens was sustained almost exclusively on corn brought from Eubœa and elsewhere, since the permanent occupation of Dekeleia, the Four Hundred rendered themselves masters by this arrangement of all the subsistence of the citizens, as well as of the entrance into the harbor; either to admit the Spartans or exclude the armament from Samos.[82]

Though Theramenês, himself one of the generals named under the Four Hundred, denounced, in conjunction with his supporters, the treasonable purpose of this new citadel, yet the majority of the Four Hundred stood to their resolution, and the building made rapid progress under the superintendence of the general Alexiklês, one of the most strenuous of the oligarchical faction.[83] Such was the habit of obedience at Athens to an established authority, when once constituted,—and so great the fear and mistrust arising out of the general belief in the reality of the Five Thousand unknown auxiliaries, supposed to be prepared to enforce the orders of the Four Hundred,—that the people, and even armed citizen hoplites, went on working at the building, in spite of their suspicions as to its design. Though not completed, it was so far advanced as to be defensible, when Antiphon and[p. 65] Phrynichus returned from Sparta. They had gone thither prepared to surrender everything,—not merely their naval force, but their city itself,—and to purchase their own personal safety by making the Lacedæmonians masters of Peiræus.[84] Yet we read with astonishment that the latter could not be prevailed on to contract any treaty, and that they manifested nothing but backwardness in seizing this golden opportunity. Had Alkibiadês been now playing their game, as he had been doing a year earlier, immediately before the revolt of Chios,—had they been under any energetic leaders, to impel them into hearty coöperation with the treason of the Four Hundred, who combined at this moment both the will and the power to place Athens in their hands, if seconded by an adequate force,—they might now have overpowered their great enemy at home, before the armament at Samos could have been brought to the rescue.

Considering that Athens was saved from capture only by the slackness and stupidity of the Spartans, we may see that the armament at Samos had reasonable excuse for their eagerness previously manifested to come home; and that Alkibiadês, in combating that intention, braved an extreme danger which nothing but incredible good fortune averted. Why the Lacedæmonians remained idle, both in Peloponnesus and at Dekeleia, while Athens was thus betrayed, and in the very throes of dissolution, we can render no account: possibly, the caution of the ephors may have distrusted Antiphon and Phrynichus, from the mere immensity of their concessions. All that they would promise was, that a Lacedæmonian fleet of forty-two triremes, partly from Tarentum and Lokri, now about to start from Las in the Laconian gulf, and to sail to Eubœa on the invitation of a disaffected party in that island, should so far depart from its straight course as to hover near Ægina and Peiræus, ready to take advantage of any opportunity for attack laid open by the Four Hundred.[85]

[p. 66]

Of this squadron, however, even before it rounded Cape Malea, Theramenês obtained intelligence, and denounced it as intended to operate in concert with the Four Hundred for the occupation of Ectioneia. Meanwhile Athens became daily a scene of greater discontent and disorder, after the abortive embassy and return from Sparta of Antiphon and Phrynichus. The coercive ascendency of the Four Hundred was silently disappearing, while the hatred which their usurpation had inspired, together with the fear of their traitorous concert with the public enemy, became more and more loudly manifested in men’s private conversations as well as in gatherings secretly got together within numerous houses; especially the house of the peripolarch, the captain of the peripoli, or youthful hoplites, who formed the chief police of the country. Such hatred was not long in passing from vehement passion into act. Phrynichus, as he left the senate-house, was assassinated by two confederates, one of them a peripolus, or youthful hoplite, in the midst of the crowded market-place and in full daylight. The man who struck the blow made his escape, but his comrade was seized and put to the torture by order of the Four Hundred:[86] he was however a stranger, from Argos, and either could not or would not reveal the name of any directing accomplice. Nothing was obtained from him except general indications of meetings and wide-spread disaffection. Nor did the Four Hundred, being thus left without special evidence, dare to lay hands upon Theramenês, the pronounced leader of the opposition, as we shall find Kritias doing six years afterwards, under the rule of the Thirty. The assassins of Phrynichus remaining undiscovered and unpunished, Theramenês and his associates became bolder in their opposition than before. And the approach of the Lacedæmonian fleet under Agesandridas,—which, having now taken station at Epidaurus, had made a descent on Ægina, and was hovering not far off Peiræus, altogether out of the straight course for Eubœa,—lent double[p. 67] force to all their previous assertions about the imminent dangers connected with the citadel at Ectioneia.

Amidst this exaggerated alarm and discord, the general body of hoplites became penetrated with aversion,[87] every day increasing, against the new citadel. At length the hoplites of the tribe in which Aristokratês, the warmest partisan of Theramenês was taxiarch, being on duty and engaged in the prosecution of the building, broke out into absolute mutiny against it, seized the person of Alexiklês, the general in command, and put him under arrest in a neighboring house; while the peripoli, or youthful military police, stationed at Munychia, under Hermon, abetted them in the proceeding.[88] News of this violence was speedily conveyed to the Four Hundred, who were at that moment holding session in the senate-house, Theramenês himself being present. Their wrath and menace were at first vented against him as the instigator of the revolt, a charge against which he could only vindicate himself by volunteering to go among the foremost for the liberation of the prisoner. He forthwith started in haste for the Peiræus, accompanied by one of the generals, his colleague, who was of the same political sentiment as himself. A third among the generals, Aristarchus, one of the fiercest of the oligarchs, followed him, probably from mistrust, together with some of the younger knights, horsemen, or richest class in the state, identified with the cause of the Four Hundred. The oligarchical partisans ran to marshal themselves in arms, alarming exaggerations being rumored, that Alexiklês had been put to death, and that Peiræus was under armed occupation; while at Peiræus the insurgents imagined that the hoplites from the city were in full march to attack them. For a time all was confusion and angry sentiment, which the slightest untoward accident might have inflamed into sanguinary civil carnage. Nor was it appeased except by earnest intreaty and remonstrance from the elder citizens, aided by Thucydidês of Pharsalus, proxenus or public guest of Athens, in his native town, on the ruinous madness of such discord when a foreign enemy was almost at their gates.

[p. 68]

The perilous excitement of this temporary crisis, which brought into full daylight every man’s real political sentiments, proved the oligarchical faction, hitherto exaggerated in number, to be far less powerful than had been imagined by their opponents. And the Four Hundred had found themselves too much embarrassed how to keep up the semblance of their authority even in Athens itself, to be able to send down any considerable force for the protection of their citadel at Ectioneia; though they were reinforced, only eight days before their fall, by at least one supplementary member, probably in substitution for some predecessor who had accidentally died.[89] Theramenês, on reaching Peiræus, began to address the mutinous hoplites in a tone of simulated displeasure, while Aristarchus and his oligarchical companions spoke in the harshest language, and threatened them with the force which they imagined to be presently coming down from the city. But these menaces were met by equal firmness on the part of the hoplites, who even appealed to Theramenês himself, and called upon him to say whether he thought the construction of this citadel was for the good of Athens, or whether it would not be better demolished. His opinion had been fully pronounced beforehand; and he replied, that if they thought proper to demolish it, he cordially concurred. Without farther delay, hoplites and unarmed people mounted pell-mell upon the walls, and commenced the demolition with alacrity; under the general shout, “Whoever is for the Five Thousand in place of the Four Hundred, let him lend a hand in this work.” The idea of the old democracy was in every one’s mind, but no man uttered the word; the fear of the imaginary Five Thousand still continuing. The work of demolition seems to have been prosecuted all that day, and not to have been completed until the next day; after which the hoplites released Alexiklês from arrest, without doing him any injury.[90]

[p. 69]

Two things deserve notice, among these details, as illustrating the Athenian character. Though Alexiklês was vehemently oligarchical as well as unpopular, these mutineers do no harm to his person, but content themselves with putting him under arrest. Next, they do not venture to commence the actual demolition of the citadel, until they have the formal sanction of Theramenês, one of the constituted generals. The strong habit of legality, implanted in all Athenian citizens by their democracy,—and the care, even in departing from it, to depart as little as possible,—stand plainly evidenced in these proceedings.

The events of this day gave a fatal shock to the ascendency of the Four Hundred; yet they assembled on the morrow as usual in the senate-house; and they appear now, when it was too late, to have directed one of their members to draw up a real list, giving body to the fiction of the Five Thousand.[91] Meanwhile the hoplites in Peiræus, having finished the levelling of the new fortifications, took the still more important step of entering, armed as they were, into the theatre of Dionysus hard by, in Peiræus, but on the verge of Munychia, and there holding a formal assembly; probably under the convocation of the general Theramenês, pursuant to the forms of the anterior democracy. They here took the resolution of adjourning their assembly to the Anakeion, or temple of Castor and Pollux, the Dioskuri, in[p. 70] the city itself and close under the acropolis; whither they immediately marched and established themselves, still retaining their arms. So much was the position of the Four Hundred changed, that they who had on the preceding day been on the aggressive against a spontaneous outburst of mutineers in Peiræus, were now thrown upon the defensive against a formal assembly, all armed, in the city, and close by their own senate-house. Feeling themselves too weak to attempt any force, they sent deputies to the Anakeion to negotiate and offer concessions. They engaged to publish the list of The Five Thousand, and to convene them for the purpose of providing for the periodical cessation and renewal of the Four Hundred, by rotation from the Five Thousand, in such order as the latter themselves should determine. But they entreated that time might be allowed for effecting this, and that internal peace might be maintained, without which there was no hope of defence against the enemy without. Many of the hoplites in the city itself joined the assembly in the Anakeion, and took part in the debates. The position of the Four Hundred being no longer such as to inspire fear, the tongues of speakers were now again loosed, and the ears of the multitude again opened, for the first time since the arrival of Peisander from Samos, with the plan of the oligarchical conspiracy. Such renewal of free and fearless public speech, the peculiar life-principle of the democracy, was not less wholesome in tranquillizing intestine discord than in heightening the sentiment of common patriotism against the foreign enemy.[92] The assembly at length dispersed, after naming an early future time for a second assembly, to bring about the reëstablishment of harmony in the theatre of Dionysus.[93]

On the day, and at the hour, when this assembly in the theatre of Dionysus was on the point of coming together, the news ran[p. 71] through Peiræus and Athens, that the forty-two triremes under the Lacedæmonian Agesandridas, having recently quitted the harbor of Megara, were sailing along the coast of Salamis in the direction towards Peiræus. Such an event, while causing universal consternation throughout the city, confirmed all the previous warnings of Theramenês as to the treasonable destination of the citadel recently demolished, and every one rejoiced that the demolition had been accomplished just in time. Foregoing their intended assembly, the citizens rushed with one accord down to Peiræus, where some of them took post to garrison the walls and the mouth of the harbor; others got aboard the triremes lying in the harbor: others, again, launched some fresh triremes from the boat-houses into the water. Agesandridas rowed along the shore, near the mouth of Peiræus; but found nothing to promise concert within, or tempt him to the intended attack. Accordingly, he passed by and moved onward to Sunium, in a southerly direction. Having doubled the Cape of Sunium, he then turned his course along the coast of Attica northward, halted for a little while between Thorikus and Prasiæ, and presently took station at Orôpus.[94]

Though relieved, when they found that he passed by Peiræus without making any attack, the Athenians knew that his destination must now be against Eubœa; which to them was hardly less important than Peiræus, since their main supplies were derived from that island. Accordingly, they put to sea at once with all the triremes which could be manned and got ready in the harbor. But from the hurry of the occasion, coupled with the mistrust and dissension now reigning, and the absence of their great naval force at Samos, the crews mustered were raw and ill-selected, and the armament inefficient. Polystratus, one of the members of the Four Hundred, perhaps others of them also, were aboard; men who had an interest in defeat rather than victory.[95] Thymocha[p. 72]rês, the admiral, conducted them round Cape Sunium to Eretria in Eubœa, where he found a few other triremes, which made up his whole fleet to thirty-six sail.

He had scarcely reached the harbor and disembarked, when, without allowing time for his men to procure refreshment, he found himself compelled to fight a battle with the forty-two ships of Agesandridas, who had just sailed across from Orôpus, and was already approaching the harbor. This surprise had been brought about by the anti-Athenian party in Eretria, who took care, on the arrival of Thymocharês, that no provisions should be found in the market-place, so that his men were compelled to disperse and obtain them from houses at the extremity of the town; while at the same time a signal was hoisted, visible at Orôpus on the opposite side of the strait, less than seven miles broad, indicating to Agesandridas the precise moment for bringing his fleet across to the attack, with their crews fresh after the morning meal. Thymocharês, on seeing the approach of the enemy, ordered his men aboard; but, to his disappointment, many of them were found to be so far off that they could not be brought back in time, so that he was compelled to sail out and meet the Peloponnesians with ships very inadequately manned. In a battle immediately outside of the Eretrian harbor, he was, after a short contest, completely defeated, and his fleet driven back upon the shore. Some of his ships escaped to Chalkis, others to a fortified post garrisoned by the Athenians themselves, not far from Eretria; yet not less than twenty-two triremes, out of the whole thirty-six, fell into the hands of Agesandridas, and a large proportion of the crews were slain or made prisoners. Of those seamen who escaped, too, many found their death from the hands of the Eretrians, into whose city they fled for shelter. On the news of this battle, not merely Eretria, but also all Eubœa,—except Oreus in the north of the island, which was settled by Athenian kleruchs,—declared its revolt from Athens, which had been intended more than a year before, and took measures for defending itself in concert with Agesandridas and the Bœotians.[96]

[p. 73]

Ill could Athens endure a disaster, in itself so immense and aggravated, under the present distressed condition of the city. Her last fleet was destroyed, her nearest and most precious island torn from her side; an island, which of late had yielded more to her wants than Attica itself, but which was now about to become a hostile and aggressive neighbor.[97] The previous revolt of Eubœa, occurring thirty-four years before, during the maximum of Athenian power, had been even then a terrible blow to Athens, and formed one of the main circumstances which forced upon her the humiliation of the Thirty years’ truce. But this second revolt took place when she had not only no means of reconquering the island, but no means even of defending Peiræus against the blockade by the enemy’s fleet. The dismay and terror excited by the news at Athens was unbounded, even exceeding what had been felt after the Sicilian catastrophe, or the revolt of Chios. Nor was there any second reserve now in the treasury, such as the thousand talents which had rendered such essential service on the last-mentioned occasion. In addition to their foreign dangers, the Athenians were farther weighed down by two intestine calamities in themselves hardly supportable,—alienation of their own fleet at Samos, and the discord, yet unappeased, within their own walls; wherein the Four Hundred still held provisionally the reins of government, with the ablest and most unscrupulous leaders at their head. In the depth of their despair, the Athenians expected nothing less than to see the victorious fleet of Agesandridas—more than sixty triremes strong, including the recent captures—off the Peiræus, forbidding all importation, and threatening them with approaching famine, in combination with Agis and Dekeleia. The enterprise would have been easy for there were neither ships nor seamen to repel him; and his arrival at this critical moment would most probably have enabled the Four Hundred to resume their ascendency, with the means as well as the disposition to introduce a Lacedæmonian garrison[p. 74] into the city.[98] And though the arrival of the Athenian fleet from Samos would have prevented this extremity, yet it could not have arrived in time, except on the supposition of a prolonged blockade: moreover, its mere transfer from Samos to Athens would have left Ionia and the Hellespont defenceless against the Lacedæmonians and Persians, and would have caused the loss of all the Athenian empire. Nothing could have saved Athens, if the Lacedæmonians at this juncture had acted with reasonable vigor, instead of confining their efforts to Eubœa, now an easy and certain conquest. As on the former occasion, when Antiphon and Phrynichus went to Sparta prepared to make any sacrifice for the purpose of obtaining Lacedæmonian aid and accommodation, so now, in a still greater degree, Athens owed her salvation only to the fact that the enemies actually before her were indolent and dull Spartans, not enterprising Syracusans under the conduct of Gylippus.[99] And this is the second occasion, we may add, on which Athens was on the brink of ruin in consequence of the policy of Alkibiadês in retaining the armament at Samos.

Fortunately for the Athenians, no Agesandridas appeared off Peiræus; so that the twenty triremes, which they contrived to man as a remnant for defence, had no enemy to repel.[100] Accordingly, the Athenians were allowed to enjoy an interval of repose which enabled them to recover partially both from consternation and from intestine discord. It was their first proceeding, when the hostile fleet did not appear, to convene a public assembly; and that too in the Pnyx itself, the habitual scene of the democratical assemblies, well calculated to reinspire that patriotism which had now been dumb and smouldering for the four last months. In this assembly, the tide of opinion ran vehemently against the Four Hundred:[101] even those, who, like the Board of[p. 75] elders entitled probûli had originally counselled their appointment, now denounced them along with the rest, though severely taunted by the oligarchical leader Peisander for their inconsistency. Votes were finally passed: 1. To depose the Four Hundred; 2. To place the whole government in the hands of The Five Thousand; 3. Every citizen, who furnished a panoply, either for himself or for any one else, was to be of right a member of this body of The Five Thousand; 4. No citizen was to receive pay for any political function, on pain of becoming solemnly accursed, or excommunicated.[102] Such were the points determined by the[p. 76] first assembly held in the Pnyx. The archons, the senate of Five Hundred, etc., were renewed: after which many other assem[p. 77]blies were also held, in which nomothetæ, dikasts, and other institutions essential to the working of the democracy, were constituted. Various other votes were also passed; especially one, on the proposition of Kritias, seconded by Theramenês,[103] to restore Alkibiadês and some of his friends from exile; while messages were farther despatched, both to him and to the armament at Samos, doubtless confirming the recent nomination of generals, apprizing them of what had recently occurred at Athens, as well as bespeaking their full concurrence and unabated efforts against the common enemy.

Thucydidês bestows marked eulogy upon the general spirit of moderation and patriotic harmony which now reigned at Athens, and which directed the political proceedings of the people.[104] But he does not countenance the belief, as he has been sometimes understood, nor is it true in point of fact, that they now introduced a new constitution. Putting an end to the oligarchy, and to the rule of the Four Hundred, they restored the old democracy[p. 78] seemingly with only two modifications, first, the partial limitation of the right of suffrage; next, the discontinuance of all payment for political functions. The impeachment against Antiphon, tried immediately afterwards, went before the senate and the dikastery exactly according to the old democratical forms of procedure. But we must presume that the senate, the dikasts, the nomothetæ, the ekklesiasts, or citizens who attended the assembly, the public orators who prosecuted state-criminals, or defended any law when it was impugned, must have worked for the time without pay.

Moreover, the two modifications above mentioned were of little practical effect. The exclusive body of Five Thousand citizens, professedly constituted at this juncture, was neither exactly realized, nor long retained. It was constituted, even now, more as a nominal than as a real limit; a nominal total, yet no longer a mere blank, as the Four Hundred had originally produced it, but containing, indeed, a number of individual names greater than the total, and without any assignable line of demarkation. The mere fact, that every one who furnished a panoply was entitled to be of the Five Thousand,—and not they alone, but others besides,[105]—shows that no care was taken to adhere either to that or to any other precise number. If we may credit a speech composed by Lysias,[106] the Four Hundred had themselves, after the demolition of their intended fortress at Ectioneia, and when power was passing out of their hands, appointed a committee of their number to draw up for the first time a real list of The Five Thousand; and Polystratus, a member of that committee, takes credit with the succeeding democracy for having made the list comprise nine thousand names instead of five thousand. As this list of Polystratus—if, indeed, it ever existed—was never either published or adopted, I merely notice the description given of it, to illustrate my position that the number Five Thousand was now understood on all sides as an indefinite expression for a[p. 79] suffrage extensive, but not universal. The number had been first invented by Antiphon and the leaders of the Four Hundred, to cloak their own usurpation and intimidate the democracy: next, it served the purpose of Theramenês and the minority of the Four Hundred, as a basis on which to raise a sort of dynastic opposition, to use modern phraseology, within the limits of the oligarchy; that is, without appearing to overstep principles acknowledged by the oligarchy themselves: lastly, it was employed by the democratical party generally as a convenient middle term to slide back into the old system, with as little dispute as possible; for Alkibiadês and the armament had sent word home that they adhered to the Five Thousand, and to the abolition of salaried civil functions.[107]

But exclusive suffrage of the so-called Five Thousand, especially with the expansive numerical construction now adopted, was of little value either to themselves or to the state;[108] while it was an insulting shock to the feelings of the excluded multitude, especially to brave and active seamen like the parali. Though prudent as a step of momentary transition, it could not stand, nor was any attempt made to preserve it in permanence, amidst a community so long accustomed to universal citizenship, and where the necessities of defence against the enemy called for energetic efforts from all the citizens.

Even as to the gratuitous functions, the members of the Five Thousand themselves would soon become tired, not less than the poorer freemen, of serving without pay, as senators or in other ways; so that nothing but absolute financial deficit would prevent the reëstablishment, entire or partial, of the pay.[109] And that deficit was never so complete as to stop the disbursement of[p. 80] the diobely, or distribution of two oboli to each citizen on occasion of various religious festivals. Such distribution continued without interruption; though perhaps the number of occasions on which it was made may have been lessened.

How far or under what restriction, any reëstablishment of civil pay obtained footing during the seven years between the Four Hundred and the Thirty, we cannot say. But leaving this point undecided, we can show, that within a year after the deposition of the Four Hundred, the suffrage of the so-called Five Thousand expanded into the suffrage of all Athenians without exception, or into the full antecedent democracy. A memorable decree, passed about eleven months after that event,—at the commencement of the archonship of Glaukippus (June 410 B.C.), when the senate of Five Hundred, the dikasts, and other civil functionaries, were renewed for the coming year, pursuant to the ancient democratical practice,—exhibits to us the full democracy not merely in action, but in all the glow of feeling called forth by a recent restoration. It seems to have been thought that this first renewal of archons and other functionaries, under the revived democracy, ought to be stamped by some emphatic proclamation of sentiment, analogous to the solemn and heart-stirring oath taken in the preceding year at Samos. Accordingly, Demophantus proposed and carried a (psephism or) decree,[110] prescribing the form of an oath to be taken by all Athenians to stand by the democratical constitution.

The terms of his psephism and oath are striking. “If any man subvert the democracy at Athens, or hold any magistracy after the democracy has been subverted, he shall be an enemy of the Athenians. Let him be put to death with impunity, and let his property be confiscated to the public, with the reservation of a tithe to Athênê. Let the man who has killed him, and the accomplice privy to the act, be accounted holy and of good religious[p. 81] odor. Let all Athenians swear an oath under the sacrifice of full-grown victims, in their respective tribes and demes, to kill him.[111] Let the oath be as follows: ‘I will kill with my own hand, if I am able, any man who shall subvert the democracy at Athens, or who shall hold any office in future after the democracy has been subverted, or shall rise in arms for the purpose of making himself a despot, or shall help the despot to establish himself. And if any one else shall kill him, I will account the slayer to be holy as respects both gods and demons, as having slain an enemy of the Athenians. And I engage by word, by deed, and by vote, to sell his property and make over one-half of the proceeds to the slayer, without withholding anything. If any man shall perish in slaying or in trying to slay the despot, I will be kind both to him and to his children, as to Harmodius and Aristogeiton, and their descendants. And I hereby break and renounce all oaths which have been sworn hostile to the Athenian people, either at Athens or at the camp (at Samos) or elsewhere.[112]’ Let all Athenians swear this as the regular oath, immediately before the festival of the Dionysia, with sacrifice and full-grown victims;[113] invoking upon him who keeps it, good[p. 82] things in abundance; but upon him who breaks it, destruction for himself as well as for his family.”

Such was the remarkable decree which the Athenians not only passed in senate and public assembly, less than a year after the deposition of the Four Hundred, but also caused to be engraved on a column close to the door of the senate-house. It plainly indicates, not merely that the democracy had returned, but an unusual intensity of democratical feeling along with it. The constitution which all the Athenians thus swore to maintain by the most strenuous measures of defence, must have been a constitution in which all Athenians had political rights, not one of Five Thousand privileged persons excluding the rest.[114] This decree became invalid after the expulsion of the Thirty, by the general resolution then passed not to act upon any laws passed before the archonship of Eukleidês, unless specially reënacted. But the column on which it stood engraved still remained, and the words were read upon it, at least down to the time of the orator Lykurgus, eighty years afterwards.[115]

The mere deposition of the Four Hundred, however, and the transfer of political power to the Five Thousand, which took place in the first public assembly held after the defeat off Eretria, was sufficient to induce most of the violent leaders of the Four Hundred forthwith to leave Athens. Peisander, Alexiklês, and others, went off secretly to Dekeleia:[116] Aristarchus alone[p. 83] made his flight the means of inflicting a new wound upon his country. Being among the number of the generals, he availed himself of this authority to march—with some of the rudest among those Scythian archers, who did the police duty of the city—to Œnoê, on the Bœotian frontier, which was at that moment under siege by a body of Corinthians and Bœotians united. Aristarchus, in concert with the besiegers, presented himself to the garrison, and acquainted them that Athens and Sparta had just concluded peace, one of the conditions of which was that Œnoê should be surrendered to the Bœotians. He therefore, as general, ordered them to evacuate the place, under the benefit of a truce to return home. The garrison having been closely blocked up, and kept wholly ignorant of the actual condition of politics, obeyed the order without reserve; so that the Bœotians acquired possession of this very important frontier position, a new thorn in the side of Athens, besides Dekeleia.[117]

Thus was the Athenian democracy again restored, and the divorce between the city and the armament at Samos terminated after an interruption of about four months by the successful conspiracy of the Four Hundred. It was only by a sort of miracle—or rather by the incredible backwardness and stupidity of her foreign enemies—that Athens escaped alive from this nefarious aggression of her own ablest and wealthiest citizens. That the victorious democracy should animadvert upon and punish the principal actors concerned in it,—who had satiated their own selfish ambition at the cost of so much suffering, anxiety, and peril to their country,—was nothing more than rigorous justice. But the circumstances of the case were peculiar: for the counter-revolution had been accomplished partly by the aid of a minority among the Four Hundred themselves,—Theramenês, Aristokratês, and others, together with the Board of Elders called Probûli,—all of whom had been, at the outset, either principals or[p. 84] accomplices in that system of terrorism and assassination, whereby the democracy had been overthrown and the oligarchical rulers established in the senate-house. The earlier operations of the conspiracy, therefore, though among its worst features, could not be exposed to inquiry and trial without compromising these parties as fellow-criminals. Theramenês evaded this difficulty, by selecting for animadversion a recent act of the majority of the Four Hundred, which he and his partisans had opposed, and on which therefore he had no interests adverse either to justice or to the popular feeling. He stood foremost to impeach the last embassy sent by the Four Hundred to Sparta, sent with instructions to purchase peace and alliance at almost any price, and connected with the construction of the fort at Ectioneia for the reception of an enemy’s garrison. This act of manifest treason, in which Antiphon, Phrynichus, and ten other known envoys were concerned, was chosen as the special matter for public trial and punishment, not less on public grounds than with a view to his own favor in the renewed democracy. But the fact that it was Theramenês who thus denounced his old friends and fellow-conspirators, after having lent hand and heart to their earlier and not less guilty deeds, was long remembered as a treacherous betrayal, and employed in after days as an excuse for atrocious injustice against himself.[118]

Of the twelve envoys who went on this mission, all except Phrynichus, Antiphon, Archeptolemus, and Onomaklês, seem to have already escaped to Dekeleia or elsewhere. Phrynichus, as I have mentioned a few pages above, had been assassinated several days before. Respecting his memory, a condemnatory vote had already been just passed by the restored senate of Five Hundred, decreeing that his property should be confiscated and his house razed to the ground, and conferring the gift of citizenship, together with a pecuniary recompense, on two foreigners who[p. 85] claimed to have assassinated him.[119] The other three, Antiphon, Archeptolemus, and Onomaklês,[120] were presented in name to the senate by the generals, of whom probably Theramenês was one, as having gone on a mission to Sparta for purposes of mischief to Athens, partly on board an enemy’s ship, partly through the Spartan garrison at Dekeleia. Upon this presentation, doubtless a document of some length and going into particulars, a senator named Andron moved: That the generals, aided by any ten senators whom they may choose, do seize the three persons accused, and hold them in custody for trial; that the thesmothetæ do send to each of the three a formal summons, to prepare themselves for trial on a future day before the dikastery, on the charge of high treason, and do bring them to trial on the day named; assisted by the generals, the ten senators chosen as auxiliaries, and any other citizen who may please to take part, as their accusers. Each of the three was to be tried separately, and, if condemned,[p. 86] was to be dealt with according to the penal law of the city against traitors, or persons guilty of treason.[121]

Though all the three persons thus indicated were at Athens, or at least were supposed to be there, on the day when this resolution was passed by the senate, yet, before it was executed, Onomaklês had fled; so that Antiphon and Archeptolemus only were imprisoned for trial. They too must have had ample opportunity for leaving the city, and we might have presumed that Antiphon would have thought it quite as necessary to retire as Peisander and Alexiklês. So acute a man as he, at no time very popular, must have known that now at least he had drawn the sword against his fellow-citizens in a manner which could never be forgiven. However, he chose voluntarily to stay: and this man, who had given orders for taking off so many of the democratical speakers by private assassination, received from the democracy, when triumphant, full notice and fair trial on a distinct and specific charge. The speech which he made in his defence, though it did not procure acquittal, was listened to, not merely with patience, but with admiration; as we may judge from the powerful and lasting effect which it produced. Thucydidês describes it as the most magnificent defence against a capital charge which had ever come before him;[122] and the poet Agathon, doubtless a hearer, warmly complimented Antiphon on his eloquence; to which the latter replied, that the approval of one such discerning judge was in his eyes an ample compensation for the unfriendly verdict of the multitude. Both he and Archeptolemus were found guilty by the dikastery and condemned to the penalties of treason. They were handed over to the magistrates called the Eleven, the chiefs of executive justice at Athens, to be put to death by the customary draught of hemlock. Their[p. 87] properties were confiscated, their houses were directed to be razed, and the vacant site to be marked by columns, with the inscription: “The residence of Antiphon the traitor,—of Archeptolemus the traitor.” They were not permitted to be buried either in Attica, or in any territory subject to Athenian dominion.[123] Their children, both legitimate and illegitimate, were deprived of the citizenship; and the citizen who should adopt any descendant of either of them, was to be himself in like manner disfranchised.

Such was the sentence passed by the dikastery, pursuant to the Athenian law of treason. It was directed to be engraved on the same brazen column as the decree of honor to the slayers of Phrynichus. From that column it was transcribed, and has thus passed into history.[124]

[p. 88]

How many of the Four Hundred oligarchs actually came to trial or were punished, we have no means of knowing; but there is ground for believing that none were put to death except Antiphon and Archeptolemus, perhaps also Aristarchus, the betrayer of Œnoê to the Bœotians. The latter is said to have been formally tried and condemned:[125] though by what accident he afterwards came into the power of the Athenians, after having once effected his escape, we are not informed. The property of Peisander, he himself having escaped, was confiscated, and granted either wholly or in part as a recompense to Apollodorus, one of the assassins of Phrynichus:[126] probably the property of the other conspicuous fugitive oligarchs was confiscated also. Polystratus, another of the Four Hundred, who had only become a member of that body a few days before its fall, was tried during absence, which absence his defenders afterwards accounted for, by saying that he had been wounded in the naval battle of Eretria, and heavily fined. It seems that each of the Four Hundred was called on to go through an audit and a trial of accountability, according to the practice general at Athens with magistrates going out of office. Such of them as did not appear to this trial were condemned to fine, to exile, or to have their names recorded as traitors: but most of those who did appear seem to have been acquitted; partly, we are told, by bribes to the logistæ, or auditing officers, though some were condemned either to fine or to partial political disability, along with those hoplites who had been the most marked partisans of the Four Hundred.[127]

[p. 89]

Indistinctly as we make out the particular proceedings of the Athenian people at this restoration of the democracy, we know[p. 90] from Thucydidês that their prudence and moderation were exemplary. The eulogy, which he bestows in such emphatic terms upon their behavior at this juncture, is indeed doubly remarkable:[128] first, because it comes from an exile, not friendly to the democracy, and a strong admirer of Antiphon; next, because the juncture itself was one eminently trying to the popular morality, and likely to degenerate, by almost natural tendency, into excess of reactionary vengeance and persecution. The democracy was now one hundred years old, dating from Kleisthenês, and fifty years old, even dating from the final reforms of Ephialtês and Periklês; so that self-government and political equality were a part of the habitual sentiment of every man’s bosom, heightened in this case by the fact that Athens was not merely a democracy, but an imperial democracy, having dependencies abroad.[129] At a moment when, from unparalleled previous disasters, she is barely able to keep up the struggle against her foreign enemies, a small knot of her own wealthiest citizens, taking advantage of her weakness, contrive, by a tissue of fraud and force not less flagitious than skilfully combined, to concentrate in their own hands the powers of the state, and to tear from their countrymen the security against bad government, the sentiment of equal citizenship, and the long-established freedom of speech. Nor is this all: these conspirators not only plant an oligarchical sovereignty in the senate-house, but also sustain that sovereignty by inviting a foreign garrison from without, and by betraying Athens to her Peloponnesian enemies. Two more deadly injuries it is impossi[p. 91]ble to imagine; and from neither of them would Athens have escaped, if her foreign enemy had manifested reasonable alacrity. Considering the immense peril, the narrow escape, and the impaired condition in which Athens was left, notwithstanding her escape, we might well have expected in the people a violence of reactionary hostility such as every calm observer, while making allowance for the provocation, must nevertheless have condemned; and perhaps somewhat analogous to that exasperation which, under very similar circumstances, had caused the bloody massacres at Korkyra.[130] And when we find that this is exactly the occasion which Thucydidês, an observer rather less than impartial, selects to eulogize their good conduct and moderation, we are made deeply sensible of the good habits which their previous democracy must have implanted in them, and which now served as a corrective to the impulse of the actual moment. They had become familiar with the cementing force of a common sentiment; they had learned to hold sacred the inviolability of law and justice, even in respect to their worst enemy; and what was of not less moment, the frequency and freedom of political discussion had taught them not only to substitute the contentions of the tongue for those of the sword, but also to conceive their situation with its present and prospective liabilities, instead of being hurried away by blind retrospective vengeance against the past.

There are few contrasts in Grecian history more memorable or more instructive, than that between this oligarchical conspiracy, conducted by some of the ablest hands at Athens, and the democratical movement going on at the same time in Samos, among the Athenian armament and the Samian citizens. In the former, we have nothing but selfishness and personal ambition, from the beginning: first, a partnership to seize for their own advantage the powers of government; next, after this object has been accomplished, a breach among the partners, arising out of disappointment alike selfish. We find appeal made to nothing but the worst tendencies; either tricks to practise upon the credulity of the people, or extra-judicial murders to work upon their fear. In the latter, on the contrary, the sentiment invoked is that of common patriotism, and equal, public-minded sympathy. That[p. 92] which we read in Thucydidês,—when the soldiers of the armament and the Samian citizens, pledged themselves to each other by solemn oaths to uphold their democracy, to maintain harmony and good feeling with each other, to prosecute energetically the war against the Peloponnesians, and to remain at enmity with the oligarchical conspirators at Athens,—is a scene among the most dramatic and inspiriting which occurs in his history.[131] Moreover, we recognize at Samos the same absence of reactionary vengeance as at Athens, after the attack of the oligarchs, Athenian as well as Samian, has been repelled; although those oligarchs had begun by assassinating Hyperbolus and others. There is throughout this whole democratical movement at Samos a generous exaltation of common sentiment over personal, and at the same time an absence of ferocity against opponents, such as nothing except democracy ever inspired in the Grecian bosom.

It is, indeed, true that this was a special movement of generous enthusiasm, and that the details of a democratical government correspond to it but imperfectly. Neither in the life of an individual, nor in that of a people, does the ordinary and every-day movement appear at all worthy of those particular seasons in which a man is lifted above his own level and becomes capable of extreme devotion and heroism. Yet such emotions, though their complete predominance is never otherwise than transitory, have their foundation in veins of sentiment which are not even at other times wholly extinct, but count among the manifold forces tending to modify and improve, if they cannot govern, human action. Even their moments of transitory predominance leave a luminous track behind, and render the men who have passed through them more apt to conceive again the same generous impulse, though in fainter degree. It is one of the merits of Grecian democracy that it did raise this feeling of equal and patriotic communion: sometimes, and on rare occasions, like the scene at Samos, with overwhelming intensity, so as to impassion an unanimous multitude; more frequently, in feebler tide, yet such as gave some chance to an honest and eloquent orator, of making successful appeal to public feeling against corruption or selfishness. If we follow the movements of Antiphon and his[p. 93] fellow-conspirators at Athens, contemporaneous with the democratical manifestations at Samos, we shall see that not only was no such generous impulse included in it, but the success of their scheme depended upon their being able to strike all common and active patriotism out of the Athenian bosom. Under the “cold shade” of their oligarchy—even if we suppose the absence of cruelty and rapacity, which would probably soon have become rife had their dominion lasted, as we shall presently learn from the history of the second oligarchy of Thirty—no sentiment would have been left to the Athenian multitude except fear, servility, or at best a tame and dumb sequacity to leaders whom they neither chose nor controlled. To those who regard different forms of government as distinguished from each other mainly by the feelings which each tends to inspire in magistrates as well as citizens, the contemporaneous scenes of Athens and Samos will suggest instructive comparisons between Grecian oligarchy and Grecian democracy.


The oligarchy of Four Hundred at Athens, installed in the senate-house about February or March 411 B.C., and deposed about July of the same year, after four or five months of danger and distraction such as to bring her almost within the grasp of her enemies, has now been terminated by the restoration of her democracy; with what attendant circumstances, has been amply detailed. I now revert to the military and naval operations on the Asiatic coast, partly contemporaneous with the political dissensions at Athens, above described.

It has already been stated that the Peloponnesian fleet of[p. 94] ninety-four triremes,[132] having remained not less than eighty days idle at Rhodes, had come back to Milêtus towards the end of March; with the intention of proceeding to the rescue of Chios, which a portion of the Athenian armament under Strombichidês had been for some time besieging, and which was now in the greatest distress. The main Athenian fleet at Samos, however, prevented Astyochus from effecting this object, since he did not think it advisable to hazard a general battle. He was influenced partly by the bribes, partly by the delusions, of Tissaphernês, who sought only to wear out both parties by protracted war, and who now professed to be on the point of bringing up the Phenician fleet to his aid. Astyochus had in his fleet the ships which had been brought over for coöperation with Pharnabazus at the Hellespont, and which were thus equally unable to reach their destination. To meet this difficulty, the Spartan Derkyllidas was sent with a body of troops by land to the Hellespont, there to join Pharnabazus, in acting against Abydos and the neighboring dependencies of Athens. Abydos, connected with Milêtus by colonial ties, set the example of revolting from Athens to Derkyllidas and Pharnabazus; an example followed, two days afterwards, by the neighboring town of Lampsakus.

It does not appear that there was at this time any Athenian force in the Hellespont; and the news of this danger to the empire in a fresh quarter, when conveyed to Chios, alarmed Strombichidês, the commander of the Athenian besieging armament. Though the Chians—driven to despair by increasing famine as well as by want of relief from Astyochus, and having recently increased their fleet to thirty-six triremes against the Athenian thirty-two, by the arrival of twelve ships under Leon, obtained from Milêtus during the absence of Astyochus at Rhodes—had sallied out and fought an obstinate naval battle against the Athenians, with some advantage,[133] yet Strombichidês felt compelled immediately to carry away twenty-four triremes and a body of hoplites for the relief of the Hellespont. Hence the Chians became sufficiently masters of the sea to provision themselves[p. 95] afresh, though the Athenian armament and fortified post still remained on the island. Astyochus also was enabled to recall Leon with the twelve triremes to Milêtus, and thus to strengthen his main fleet.[134]

The present appears to have been the time, when the oligarchical party both in the town and in the camp at Samos, were laying their plan of conspiracy as already recounted, and when the Athenian generals were divided in opinion, Charmînus siding with this party, Leon and Diomedon against it. Apprized of the reigning dissension, Astyochus thought it a favorable opportunity for sailing with his whole fleet up to the harbor of Samos, and offering battle; but the Athenians were in no condition to leave the harbor. He accordingly returned to Milêtus, where he again remained inactive, in expectation, real or pretended, of the arrival of the Phenician ships. But the discontent of his own troops, especially the Syracusan contingent, presently became uncontrollable. They not only murmured at the inaction of the armament during this precious moment of disunion in the Athenian camp, but also detected the insidious policy of Tissaphernês in thus frittering away their strength without result; a policy still more keenly brought home to their feelings by his irregularity in supplying them with pay and provision, which caused serious distress. To appease their clamors, Astyochus was compelled to call together a general assembly, the resolution of which was pronounced in favor of immediate battle. He accordingly sailed from Milêtus with his whole fleet of one hundred and twelve triremes round to the promontory of Mykalê immediately opposite Samos, ordering the Milesian hoplites to cross the promontory by land to the same point. The Athenian fleet, now consisting of only eighty-two sail, in the absence of Strombichidês, was then moored near Glaukê on the mainland of Mykalê; but the public decision just taken by the Peloponnesians to fight becoming known to them, they retired to Samos, not being willing to engage with such inferior numbers.[135]

It seems to have been during this last interval of inaction on the part of Astyochus, that the oligarchical party in Samos made their attempt and miscarried; the reaction from which at[p. 96]tempt brought about, with little delay, the great democratical manifestation, and solemn collective oath, of the Athenian armament, coupled with the nomination of new, cordial, and unanimous generals. They were now in high enthusiasm, anxious for battle with the enemy, and Strombichidês had been sent for immediately, that the fleet might be united against the main enemy at Milêtus. That officer had recovered Lampsakus, but had failed in his attempt on Abydos.[136] Having established a central fortified station at Sestos, he now rejoined the fleet at Samos, which by his arrival was increased to one hundred and eight sail. He arrived in the night, when the Peloponnesian fleet was preparing to renew its attack from Mykalê the next morning. It consisted of one hundred and twelve ships, and was therefore still superior in number to the Athenians. But having now learned both the arrival of Strombichidês, and the renewed spirit as well as unanimity of the Athenians, the Peloponnesian commanders did not venture to persist in their resolution of fighting. They returned back to Milêtus, to the mouth of which harbor the Athenians sailed, and had the satisfaction of offering battle to an unwilling enemy.[137]

Such confession of inferiority was well calculated to embitter still farther the discontents of the Peloponnesian fleet at Milêtus. Tissaphernês had become more and more parsimonious in furnishing pay and supplies; while the recall of Alkibiadês to Samos, which happened just now, combined with the uninterrupted apparent intimacy between him and the satrap, confirmed their belief that the latter was intentionally cheating and starving them in the interest of Athens. At the same time, earnest invitations arrived from Pharnabazus, soliciting the coöperation of the fleet at the Hellespont, with liberal promises of pay and maintenance. Klearchus, who had been sent out with the last squadron from Sparta, for the express purpose of going to aid Pharnabazus, claimed to be allowed to execute his orders; while Astyochus also, having renounced the idea of any united action, thought it now expedient to divide the fleet, which he was at a loss how to support. Accordingly, Klearchus was sent with forty triremes from Milêtus to the Hellespont, yet with instructions to evade the Athenians at Samos, by first stretching out westward into the[p. 97] Ægean. Encountering severe storms, he was forced with the greater part of his squadron to seek shelter at Delos, and even suffered so much damage as to return to Milêtus, from whence he himself marched to the Hellespont by land. Ten of his triremes, however, under the Megarian Helixus, weathered the storm and pursued their voyage to the Hellespont, which was at this moment unguarded, since Strombichidês seems to have brought back all his squadron. Helixus passed on unopposed to Byzantium, a Doric city and Megarian colony, from whence secret invitations had already reached him, and which he now induced to revolt from Athens. This untoward news admonished the Athenian generals at Samos, whose vigilance the circuitous route of Klearchus had eluded, of the necessity of guarding the Hellespont, whither they sent a detachment, and even attempted in vain to recapture Byzantium. Sixteen fresh triremes afterwards proceeded from Milêtus to the Hellespont and Abydos, thus enabling the Peloponnesians to watch that strait as well as the Bosphorus and Byzantium,[138] and even to ravage the Thracian Chersonese.

Meanwhile, the discontents of the fleet at Milêtus broke out into open mutiny against Astyochus and Tissaphernês. Unpaid, and only half-fed, the seamen came together in crowds to talk over their grievances; denouncing Astyochus as having betrayed them for his own profit to the satrap, who was treacherously ruining the armament under the inspirations of Alkibiadês. Even some of the officers, whose silence had been hitherto purchased, began to hold the same language; perceiving that the mischief was becoming irreparable, and that the men were actually on the point of desertion. Above all, the incorruptible Hermokratês of Syracuse, and Dorieus the Thurian commander, zealously espoused the claims of their seamen, who being mostly freemen (in greater proportion than the crews of the Peloponnesian ships), went in a body to Astyochus, with loud complaints and demand of their arrears of pay. But the Peloponnesian general received them with haughtiness and even with menace, lifting up his stick to strike the commander Dorieus while advocating their cause. Such was the resentment of the seamen that they rushed forward to pelt Astyochus with missiles: he took[p. 98] refuge, however, on a neighboring altar, so that no actual mischief was done.[139]

Nor was the discontent confined to the seamen of the fleet. The Milesians, also, displeased and alarmed at the fort which Tissaphernês had built in their town, watched an opportunity of attacking it by surprise, and expelled his garrison. Though the armament in general, now full of antipathy against the satrap, sympathized in this proceeding, yet the Spartan commissioner Lichas censured it severely, and intimated to the Milesians that they, as well as the other Greeks in the king’s territory, were bound to be subservient to Tissaphernês within all reasonable limits, and even to court him by extreme subservience, until the war should be prosperously terminated. It appears that in other matters also, Lichas had enforced instead of mitigating the authority of the satrap over them; so that the Milesians now came to hate him vehemently,[140] and when he shortly afterwards died of sickness, they refused permission to bury him in the spot—probably some place of honor—which his surviving countrymen had fixed upon. Though Lichas in these enforcements only carried out the stipulations of his treaty with Persia, yet it is certain that the Milesians, instead of acquiring autonomy, according to the general promises of Sparta, were now farther from it than ever, and that imperial Athens had protected them against Persia much better than Sparta.

The subordination of the armament, however, was now almost at an end, when Mindarus arrived from Sparta as admiral to supersede Astyochus, who was summoned home and took his departure. Both Hermokratês and some Milesian deputies availed themselves of this opportunity to go to Sparta for the purpose of preferring complaints against Tissaphernês; while the latter on his part sent thither an envoy named Gaulites, a Karian, brought up in equal familiarity with the Greek and Karian languages, both to defend himself against the often-repeated charges[p. 99] of Hermokratês, that he had been treacherously withholding the pay under concert with Alkibiadês and the Athenians, and to denounce the Milesians on his own side, as having wrongfully demolished his fort.[141] At the same time he thought it necessary to put forward a new pretence, for the purpose of strengthening the negotiations of his envoy at Sparta, soothing the impatience of the armament, and conciliating the new admiral Mindarus. He announced that the Phenician fleet was on the point of arriving at Aspendus in Pamphylia, and that he was going thither to meet it, for the purpose of bringing it up to the seat of war to coöperate with the Peloponnesians. He invited Lichas to accompany him, and engaged to leave Tamos at Milêtus, as deputy during his absence, with orders to furnish pay and maintenance to the fleet.[142]

Mindarus, a new commander, without any experience of the mendacity of Tissaphernês, was imposed upon by this plausible assurance, and even captivated by the near prospect of so powerful a reinforcement. He despatched an officer named Philippus with two triremes round the Triopian Cape to Aspendus, while the satrap went thither by land.

Here again was a fresh delay of no inconsiderable length, while Tissaphernês was absent at Aspendus, on this ostensible purpose. Some time elapsed before Mindarus was undeceived, for Philippus found the Phenician fleet at Aspendus, and was therefore at first full of hope that it was really coming onward. But the satrap soon showed that his purpose now, as heretofore, was nothing better than delay and delusion. The Phenician ships were one hundred and forty-seven in number; a fleet more than sufficient for concluding the maritime war, if brought up to act zealously. But Tissaphernês affected to think that this was a small force, unworthy of the majesty of the Great King; who had commanded a fleet of three hundred sail to be fitted out for the service.[143] He waited for some time in pretended expectation[p. 100] that more ships were on their way, disregarding all the remonstrances of the Lacedæmonian officers.

Presently arrived the Athenian Alkibiadês, with thirteen Athenian triremes, exhibiting himself as on the best terms with the satrap. He too had made use of this approaching Phenician fleet to delude his countrymen at Samos, by promising to go and meet Tissaphernês at Aspendus, and to determine him, if possible, to send the fleet to the assistance of Athens, but at the very least, not to send it to the aid of Sparta. The latter alternative of the promise was sufficiently safe, for he knew well that Tissaphernês had no intention of applying the fleet to any really efficient purpose. But he was thereby enabled to take credit with his countrymen for having been the means of diverting this formidable reinforcement from the enemy.

Partly the apparent confidence between Tissaphernês and Alkibiadês, partly the impudent shifts of the former, grounded on the incredible pretence that the fleet was insufficient in number, at length satisfied Philippus that the present was only a new manifestation of deceit. After a long and vexatious interval, he apprized Mindarus—not without indignant abuse of the satrap—that nothing was to be hoped from the fleet at Aspendus. Yet the proceeding of Tissaphernês, indeed, in bringing up the Phenicians to that place, and still withholding the order for farther advance and action, was in every one’s eyes mysterious and unaccountable. Some fancied that he did it with a view of levying larger bribes from the Phenicians themselves, as a premium for being sent home without fighting, as it appears that they actually were. But Thucydidês supposes that he had no other motive than that which had determined his behavior during the last year, to protract the war and impoverish both Athens and Sparta, by setting up a fresh deception, which would last for some weeks, and thus procure so much delay.[144] The historian is doubtless right: but without his assurance, it would have been difficult to believe, that the maintenance of a fraudulent pretence, for so inconsiderable a time, should have been held as an adequate[p. 101] motive for bringing this large fleet from Phenicia to Aspendus, and then sending it away unemployed.

Having at length lost all hope of the Phenician ships, Mindarus resolved to break off all dealing with the perfidious Tissaphernês; the more so, as Tamos, the deputy of the latter, though left ostensibly to pay and keep the fleet, performed that duty with greater irregularity than ever, and to conduct his fleet to the Hellespont into coöperation with Pharnabazus, who still continued his promises and invitations. The Peloponnesian fleet[145]—seventy-three triremes strong, after deducting thirteen which had been sent under Dorieus to suppress some disturbances in Rhodes—having been carefully prepared beforehand, was put in motion by sudden order, so that no previous intimation might reach the Athenians at Samos. After having been delayed some days at Ikarus by bad weather, Mindarus reached Chios in safety. But here he was pursued by Thrasyllus, who passed, with fifty-five triremes, to the northward of Chios, and was thus between the Lacedæmonian admiral and the Hellespont. Believing that Mindarus would remain some time at Chios, Thrasyllus placed scouts both on the high lands of Lesbos and on the continent opposite Chios, in order that he might receive instant notice of any movement on the part of the enemy’s fleet.[146] Meanwhile he employed his Athenian force in reducing the Lesbian town of Eresus, which had been lately prevailed on to revolt by a body of three hundred assailants from Kymê under the Theban Anaxander, partly Methymnæan exiles, with some political sympathizers, partly mercenary foreigners, who succeeded in carrying Eresus after failing in an attack on Methymna. Thrasyllus found before Eresus a small Athenian squadron of five triremes under Thrasybulus, who had been despatched from Samos to try and forestall the revolt, but had arrived too late. He was farther joined[p. 102] by two triremes from the Hellespont, and by others from Methymna, so that his entire fleet reached the number of sixty-seven triremes, with which he proceeded to lay siege to Eresus; trusting to his scouts for timely warning, in case the enemy’s fleet should move northward.

The course which Thrasyllus expected the Peloponnesian fleet to take, was to sail from Chios northward through the strait which separates the northeastern portion of that island from Mount Mimas on the Asiatic mainland: after which it would probably sail past Eresus on the western side of Lesbos, as being the shortest track to the Hellespont, though it might also go round on the eastern side between Lesbos and the continent, by a somewhat longer route. The Athenian scouts were planted so as to descry the Peloponnesian fleet, if it either passed through this strait or neared the island of Lesbos. But Mindarus did neither; thus eluding their watch, and reaching the Hellespont without the knowledge of the Athenians. Having passed two days in provisioning his ships, receiving besides from the Chians three tesserakosts, a Chian coin of unknown value, for each man among his seamen, he departed on the third day from Chios, but took a southerly route and rounded the island in all haste on its western or sea-side. Having reached and passed the northern latitude of Chios, he took an eastward course, with Lesbos at some distance to his left hand, direct to the mainland; which he touched at a harbor called Karterii, in the Phokæan territory. Here he stopped to give the crew their morning meal: he then crossed the arc of the gulf of Kymê to the little islets called Arginusæ, close on the Asiatic continent opposite Mitylênê, where he again halted for supper. Continuing his voyage onward during most part of the night, he was at Harmatûs, on the continent, directly northward and opposite to Methymna, by the next day’s morning meal: then still hastening forward after a short halt, he doubled Cape Lektum, sailed along the Troad and passed Tenedos, and reached the entrance of the Hellespont before midnight; where his ships were distributed at Sigeium, Rhœteium, and other neighboring places.[147]

[p. 103]

By this well-laid course and accelerated voyage, the Peloponnesian fleet completely eluded the lookers-out of Thrasyllus, and[p. 104] reached the opening of the Hellespont when that admiral was barely apprized of its departure from Chios. When it arrived at[p. 105] Harmatûs, however, opposite to and almost within sight of the Athenian station at Methymna, its progress could no longer remain a secret. As it advanced still farther along the Troad, the momentous news circulated everywhere, and was promulgated through numerous fire-signals and beacons on the hill, by friend as well as by foe.

These signals were perfectly visible, and perfectly intelligible, to the two hostile squadrons now on guard on each side of the Hellespont: eighteen Athenian triremes at Sestos in Europe, sixteen Peloponnesian triremes at Abydos in Asia. To the former it was destruction, to be caught by this powerful enemy in the narrow channel of the Hellespont. They quitted Sestos in the middle of the night, passing opposite to Abydos, and keeping a southerly course close along the shore of the Chersonese, in the direction towards Elæûs at the southern extremity of that peninsular, so as to have the chance of escape in the open sea and of joining Thrasyllus. But they would not have been allowed to pass even the hostile station at Abydos, had not the Peloponnesian guardships received the strictest orders from Mindarus, transmitted before he left Chios, or perhaps even before he left Milêtus, that, if he should attempt the start, they were to keep a vigilant and special look-out for his coming, and reserve themselves to lend him such assistance as might be needed, in case he were attacked by Thrasyllus. When the signals first announced the arrival of Mindarus, the Peloponnesian guardships at Abydos could not know in what position he was, nor whether the main Athenian fleet might not be near upon him. Accordingly they acted on these previous orders, holding themselves in reserve[p. 106] in their station at Abydos, until daylight should arrive, and they should be better informed. They thus neglected the Athenian Hellespontine squadron in its escape from Sestos to Elæûs.[148]

[p. 107]

On arriving about daylight near the southern point of the Chersonese, these Athenians were descried by the fleet of Min[p. 108]darus, which had come the night before to the opposite stations of Sigeium and Rhœteium. The latter immediately gave chase:[p. 109] but the Athenians, now in the wide sea, contrived to escape most of them to Imbros, not without the loss, however, of four triremes, one even captured with all the crew on board, near the temple of Protesilaus at Elæûs: the crews of the other three escaped ashore. Mindarus was now joined by the squadron from Abydos, and their united force, eighty-six triremes strong, was employed for one day in trying to storm Elæûs. Failing in this enterprise, the fleet retired to Abydos. Before all could arrive there, Thrasyllus with his fleet arrived in haste from Eresus, much disappointed that his scouts had been eluded and all his calculations baffled. Two Peloponnesian triremes, which had been more adventurous than the rest in pursuing the Athenians, fell into his hands. He waited at Elæûs the return of the fugitive Athenian squadron from Imbros, and then began to prepare his triremes, seventy-six in number, for a general action.

After five days of such preparation, his fleet was brought to battle, sailing northward towards Sestos up the Hellespont, by single ships ahead, along the coast of the Chersonese, or on the European side. The left or most advanced squadron, under Thrasyllus, stretched even beyond the headland called Kynossêma, or the Dog’s Tomb, ennobled by the legend and the chapel of the Trojan queen Hecuba: it was thus nearly opposite Abydos, while the right squadron under Thrasybulus was not very far from the southern mouth of the strait, nearly opposite Dardanus. Mindarus on his side brought into action eighty-six triremes, ten more than Thrasyllus in total number, extending from Abydos to Dardanus on the Asiatic shore; the Syracusans under Hermokratês being on the right, opposed to Thrasyllus, while Mindarus with the Peloponnesian ships was on the left opposed to Thrasybulus. The epibatæ or maritime hoplites on board the ships of Mindarus are said to have been superior to the Athenians, but the latter had the advantage in skilful pilots and nau[p. 110]tical manœuvring: nevertheless, the description of the battle tells us how much Athenian manœuvring had fallen off since the glories of Phormion at the beginning of the Peloponnesian war; nor would that eminent seaman have selected for the scene of a naval battle the narrow waters of the Hellespont. Mindarus took the aggressive, advancing to attack near the European shore, and trying to outflank his opponents on both sides, as well as to drive them up against the land. Thrasyllus on one wing, and Thrasybulus on the other, by rapid movements, extended themselves so as to frustrate this attempt to outflank them; but in so doing, they stripped and weakened the centre, which was even deprived of the sight of the left wing by means of the projecting headland of Kynossêma. Thus unsupported, the centre was vigorously attacked and roughly handled by the middle division of Mindarus. Its ships were driven up against the land, and the assailants even disembarked to push their victory against the men ashore. But this partial success threw the central Peloponnesian division itself into disorder, while Thrasybulus and Thrasyllus carried on a conflict at first equal, and presently victorious, against the ships on the right and left of the enemy. Having driven back both these two divisions, they easily chased away the disordered ships of the centre, so that the whole Peloponnesian fleet was put to flight, and found shelter first in the river Meidius, next in Abydos. The narrow breadth of the Hellespont forbade either long pursuit or numerous captures. Nevertheless, eight Chian ships, five Corinthians, two Ambrakian, and as many Bœotian, and from Sparta, Syracuse, Pellênê, and Leukas, one each, fell into the hands of the Athenian admirals; who, however, on their own side lost fifteen ships. They erected a trophy on the headland of Kynossêma, near the tomb or chapel of Hecuba; not omitting the usual duties of burying their own dead, and giving up those of the enemy under the customary request for truce.[149]

[p. 111]

A victory so incomplete and indecisive would have been little valued by the Athenians, in the times preceding the Sicilian expedition. But since that overwhelming disaster, followed by so many other misfortunes, and last of all, by the defeat of Thymocharis, with the revolt of Eubœa, their spirit had been so sadly lowered, that the trireme which brought the news of the battle of Kynossêma, seemingly towards the end of August 411 B.C., was welcomed with the utmost delight and triumph. They began to feel as if the ebb-tide had reached its lowest point, and had begun to turn in their favor, holding out some hopes of ultimate success in the war. Another piece of good fortune soon happened, to strengthen this belief. Mindarus was compelled to reinforce himself at the Hellespont by sending Hippokratês and Epiklês to bring the fleet of fifty triremes now acting at Eubœa.[150] This was in itself an important relief to Athens, by withdrawing an annoying enemy near home. But it was still further enhanced by the subsequent misfortunes of this fleet, which, in passing round the headland of Mount Athos to get to Asia, was overtaken by a terrific storm and nearly destroyed, with great loss of life among the crews; so that a remnant only, under Hippokratês, survived to join Mindarus.[151]

But though Athens was thus exempted from all fear of aggression on the side of Eubœa, the consequences of this departure of the fleet were such as to demonstrate how irreparably the island itself had passed out of her supremacy. The inhabitants[p. 112] of Chalkis and the other cities, now left without foreign defence against her, employed themselves jointly with the Bœotians, whose interest in the case was even stronger than their own, in divesting Eubœa of its insular character, by constructing a mole or bridge across the Euripus, the narrowest portion of the Eubœan strait, where Chalkis was divided from Bœotia. From each coast a mole was thrown out, each mole guarded at the extremity by a tower, and leaving only an intermediate opening, broad enough for a single vessel to pass through, covered by a wooden bridge. It was in vain that the Athenian Theramenês, with thirty triremes, presented himself to obstruct the progress of this undertaking. The Eubœans and Bœotians both prosecuted it in such numbers, and with so much zeal, that it was speedily brought to completion. Eubœa, so lately the most important island attached to Athens, is from henceforward a portion of the mainland, altogether independent of her, even though it should please fortune to reëstablish her maritime power.[152]

The battle of Kynossêma produced no very important consequences except that of encouragement to the Athenians. Even just after the action, Kyzikus revolted from them, and on the fourth day after it, the Athenian fleet, hastily refitted at Sestos, sailed to that place to retake it. It was unfortified, so that they succeeded with little difficulty, and imposed upon it a contribution: moreover, in the voyage thither, they gained an additional advantage by capturing, off the southern coast of the Propontis, those eight Peloponnesian triremes which had accomplished, a[p. 113] little while before, the revolt of Byzantium. But, on the other hand, as soon as the Athenian fleet had left Sestos, Mindarus sailed from his station at Abydos to Elæûs, and there recovered all the triremes captured from him at Kynossêma, which the Athenians had there deposited, except some of them which were so much damaged that the inhabitants of Elæûs set them on fire.[153]

But that which now began to constitute a far more important element of the war, was, the difference of character between Tissaphernês and Pharnabazus, and the transfer of the Peloponnesian fleet from the satrapy of the former to that of the latter. Tissaphernês, while furnishing neither aid nor pay to the Peloponnesians, had by his treacherous promises and bribes enervated all their proceedings for the last year, with the deliberate view of wasting both the belligerent parties. Pharnabazus was a brave and earnest man, who set himself to strengthen them strenuously, by men as well as by money, and who labored hard to put down the Athenian power; as we shall find him laboring equally hard, eighteen years afterwards, to bring about its partial renovation. From this time forward, Persian aid becomes a reality in the Grecian war; and in the main—first, through the hands of Pharnabazus, next, through those of the younger Cyrus—the determining reality. For we shall find that while the Peloponnesians are for the most part well paid, out of the Persian treasury, the Athenians, destitute of any such resource, are compelled to rely on the contributions which they can levy here and there, without established or accepted right; and to interrupt for this purpose even the most promising career of success. Twenty-six years after this, at a time when Sparta had lost her Persian allies, the Lacedæmonian Teleutias tried to appease the mutiny of his unpaid seamen, by telling them how much nobler it was to extort pay from the enemy by means of their own swords, than to obtain it by truckling to the foreigner;[154] and probably the Athenian generals, during these previous years of struggle, tried[p. 114] similar appeals to the generosity of their soldiers. But it is not the less certain, that the new constant paymaster now introduced, gave fearful odds to the Spartan cause.

The good pay and hearty coöperation which the Peloponnesians now enjoyed from Pharnabazus, only made them the more indignant at the previous deceit of Tissaphernês. Under the influence of this sentiment, they readily lent aid to the inhabitants of Antandrus in expelling his general Arsakes with the Persian garrison. Arsakes had recently committed an act of murderous perfidy, under the influence of some unexplained pique, against the Delians established at Adramyttium: he had summoned their principal citizens to take part as allies in an expedition, and had caused them all to be surrounded, shot down, and massacred during the morning meal. Such an act was more than sufficient to excite hatred and alarm among the neighboring Antandrians, who invited a body of Peloponnesian hoplites from Abydos, across the mountain range of Ida, by whose aid Antandrus was liberated from the Persians.[155]

In Milêtus, as well as in Knidus, Tissaphernês had already experienced the like humiliation:[156] Lichas was no longer alive to back his pretensions: nor do we hear that he obtained any result from the complaints of his envoy Gaulites at Sparta. Under these circumstances, he began to fear that he had incurred a weight of enmity which might prove seriously mischievous, nor was he without jealousy of the popularity and possible success of Pharnabazus. The delusion respecting the Phenician fleet, now that Mindarus had openly broken with him and quitted Milêtus, was no longer available to any useful purpose. Accordingly, he dismissed the Phenician fleet to their own homes, pretending to have received tidings that the Phenician towns were endangered by sudden attacks from Arabia and Egypt;[157] while he himself quitted Aspendus to revisit Ionia, as well as to go forward to the Hellespont, for the purpose of renewing personal intercourse with the dissatisfied Peloponnesians. He wished, while trying again[p. 115] to excuse his own treachery about the Phenician fleet, at the same time to protest against their recent proceedings at Antandrus; or, at the least, to obtain some assurance against any repetition of such hostility. His visit to Ionia, however, seems to have occupied some time, and he tried to conciliate the Ionic Greeks by a splendid sacrifice to Artemis at Ephesus.[158] Having quitted Aspendus, as far as we can make out, about the beginning of August[p. 116] (411 B.C.), he did not reach the Hellespont until the month of November.[159]

As soon as the Phenician fleet had disappeared, Alkibiadês returned with his thirteen triremes from Phasêlis to Samos. He too, like Tissaphernês, made the proceeding subservient to deceit of his own: he took credit with his countrymen for having enlisted the good-will of the satrap more strongly than ever in the cause of Athens, and for having induced him to abandon his intention of bringing up the Phenician fleet.[160] At this time Dorieus was at Rhodes with thirteen triremes, having been despatched by Mindarus, before his departure from Milêtus, in order to stifle the growth of a philo-Athenian party in the island. Perhaps the presence of this force may have threatened the Athenian interest in Kos and Halikarnassus; for we now find Alkibiadês going to these places from Samos, with nine fresh triremes in addition to his own thirteen. He erected fortifications at the town of Kos, and planted in it an Athenian officer and garrison: from Halikarnassus he levied large contributions; upon what pretence, or whether from simple want of money, we do not know. It was towards the middle of September that he returned to Samos.[161]

At the Hellespont, Mindarus had been reinforced after the battle of Kynossêma by the squadron from Eubœa, at least by that portion of it which had escaped the storm off Mount Athos. The departure of the Peloponnesian fleet from Eubœa enabled the Athenians also to send a few more ships to their fleet at Sestos. Thus ranged on the opposite sides of the strait, the two fleets came to a second action, wherein the Peloponnesians, under Agesandridas, had the advantage; yet with little fruit. It was about the month of October, seemingly, that Dorieus with his fourteen triremes came from Rhodes to rejoin Mindarus at[p. 117] the Hellespont. He had hoped probably to get up the strait to Abydos during the night, but he was caught by daylight a little way from the entrance, near Rhœteium; and the Athenian scouts instantly gave signal of his approach. Twenty Athenian triremes were despatched to attack him: upon which Dorieus fled, and sought safety by hauling his vessel ashore in the receding bay near Dardanus. The Athenian squadron here attacked him, but were repulsed and forced to sail back to Madytus. Mindarus was himself a spectator of this scene, from a distance; being engaged in sacrificing to Athênê, on the venerated hill of Ilium. He immediately hastened to Abydos, where he fitted out his whole fleet of eighty-four triremes, Pharnabazus coöperating on the shore with his land-force. Having rescued the ships of Dorieus, his next care was to resist the entire Athenian fleet, which presently came to attack him under Thrasybulus and Thrasyllus. An obstinate naval combat took place between the two fleets, which lasted nearly the whole day with doubtful issue; at length, towards the evening, twenty fresh triremes were seen approaching. They proved to be the squadron of Alkibiadês sailing from Samos: having probably heard of the rejunction of the squadron of Dorieus with the main Peloponnesian fleet, he had come with his own counter-balancing reinforcement.[162] As soon as his purple flag or signal was ascertained, the Athenian fleet became animated with redoubled spirit. The new-comers aided them in pressing the action so vigorously, that the Peloponnesian fleet was driven back to Abydos, and there run ashore. Here the Athenians still followed up their success, and endeavored to tow them all off. But the Persian land-force protected them, and Pharnabazus himself was seen foremost in the combat; even pushing into the water in person, as far as his horse could stand. The main Peloponnesian fleet was thus preserved; yet the Athenians retired with an important victory, carrying off thirty triremes as prizes, and retaking those which they had themselves lost in the two preceding actions.[163]

Mindarus kept his defeated fleet unemployed at Abydos during[p. 118] the winter, sending to Peloponnesus as well as among his allies to solicit reinforcements: in the mean time, he engaged jointly with Pharnabazus in operations by land against various Athenian allies on the continent. The Athenian admirals, on their side, instead of keeping their fleet united to prosecute the victory, were compelled to disperse a large portion of it in flying squadrons, for collecting money, retaining only forty sail at Sestos; while Thrasyllus in person went to Athens to proclaim the victory and ask for reinforcements. Pursuant to this request, thirty triremes were sent out under Theramenês; who first endeavored without success to impede the construction of the bridge between Eubœa and Bœotia, and next sailed on a voyage among the islands for the purpose of collecting money. He acquired considerable plunder by descents upon hostile territory, and also extorted money from various parties, either contemplating or supposed to contemplate revolt, among the dependencies of Athens. At Paros, where the oligarchy established by Peisander in the conspiracy of the Four Hundred still subsisted, Theramenês deposed and fined the men who had exercised it, establishing a democracy in their room. From hence he passed to Macedonia, to the assistance and probably into the temporary pay of Archelaus, king of Macedonia, whom he aided for some time in the siege of Pydna; blocking up the town by sea while the Macedonians besieged it by land. The blockade having lasted the whole winter, Theramenês was summoned away before its capture, to join the main Athenian fleet in Thrace: Archelaus, however, took Pydna not long afterwards, and transported the town with its residents from the seaboard to a distance more than two miles inland.[164] We trace in all these proceedings the evidence of that terrible want of money which now drove the Athenians to injustice, extortion, and interference with their allies, such as they had never committed during the earlier years of the war.

It is at this period that we find mention made of a fresh intestine commotion in Korkyra, less stained, however, with savage enormities than that recounted in the seventh year of the war. It appears that the oligarchical party in the island, which had been for the moment nearly destroyed at that period, had since[p. 119] gained strength, and was encouraged by the misfortunes of Athens to lay plans for putting the island into the hands of the Lacedæmonians. The democratical leaders, apprized of this conspiracy, sent to Naupaktus for the Athenian admiral Konon. He came, with a detachment of six hundred Messenians, by the aid of whom they seized the oligarchical conspirators in the market-place, putting a few to death, and banishing more than a thousand. The extent of their alarm is attested by the fact, that they liberated the slaves and conferred the right of citizenship upon the foreigners. The exiles, having retired to the opposite continent, came back shortly afterwards, and were admitted, by the connivance of a party within, into the market-place. A serious combat took place within the walls, which was at last made up by a compromise and by the restoration of the exiles.[165] We know nothing about the particulars of this compromise, but it seems to have been wisely drawn up and faithfully observed; for we hear nothing about Korkyra until about thirty-five years after this period, and the island is then presented to us as in the highest perfection of cultivation and prosperity.[166] Doubtless the emancipation of slaves and the admission of so many new foreigners to the citizenship, contributed to this result.

Meanwhile Tissaphernês, having completed his measures in Ionia, arrived at the Hellespont not long after the battle of Abydos, seemingly about November, 411 B.C. He was anxious to regain some credit with the Peloponnesians, for which an opportunity soon presented itself. Alkibiadês, then in command of the Athenian fleet at Sestos, came to visit him in all the pride of[p. 120] victory, bringing the customary presents; but the satrap seized his person and sent him away to Sardis as a prisoner in custody, affirming that he had the Great King’s express orders for carrying on war with the Athenians.[167] Here was an end of all the delusions of Alkibiadês, respecting pretended power of influencing the Persian counsels. Yet these delusions had already served his purpose by procuring for him a renewed position in the Athenian camp, which his own military energy enabled him to sustain and justify.

Towards the middle of this winter the superiority of the fleet of Mindarus at Abydos, over the Athenian fleet at Sestos, had become so great,—partly, as it would appear, through reinforcements obtained by the former, partly through the dispersion of the latter into flying squadrons from want of pay,—that the Athenians no longer dared to maintain their position in the Hellespont. They sailed round the southern point of the Chersonese, and took station at Kardia, on the western side of the isthmus of that peninsula. Here, about the commencement of spring, they were rejoined by Alkibiadês; who had found means to escape from Sardis, along with Mantitheus, another Athenian prisoner, first to Klazomenæ, and next to Lesbos, where he collected a small squadron of five triremes. The dispersed squadrons of the Athenian fleet being now all summoned to concentrate, Theramenês came to Kardia from Macedonia, and Thrasybulus from Thasos; whereby the Athenian fleet was rendered superior in number to that of Mindarus. News was brought that the latter had moved with his fleet from the Hellespont to Kyzikus, and was now engaged in the siege of that place, jointly with Pharnabazus and the Persian land-force.

His vigorous attacks had in fact already carried the place, when the Athenian admirals resolved to attack him there, and contrived to do it by surprise. Having passed first from Kardia to Elæûs at the south of the Chersonese, they sailed up the Hellespont to Prokonnesus by night, so that their passage escaped the notice of the Peloponnesian guardships at Abydos.[168]

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Resting at Prokonnesus one night, and seizing every boat on the island, in order that their movements might be kept secret, Alkibiadês warned the assembled seamen that they must prepare for a sea-fight, a land-fight, and a wall-fight, all at once. “We have no money (said he), while our enemies have plenty from the Great King.” Neither zeal in the men nor contrivance in the commanders was wanting. A body of hoplites were landed on the mainland in the territory of Kyzikus, for the purpose of operating a diversion; after which the fleet was distributed into three divisions under Alkibiadês, Theramenês, and Thrasybulus. The former, advancing near to Kyzikus with his single division, challenged the fleet of Mindarus, and contrived to inveigle him by pretended flight to a distance from the harbor; while the other Athenian divisions, assisted by hazy and rainy weather, came up unexpectedly, cut off his retreat, and forced him to run his ships ashore on the neighboring mainland. After a gallant and hard-fought battle, partly on shipboard, partly ashore,—at one time unpromising to the Athenians, in spite of their superiority of number, but not very intelligible in its details, and differently conceived by our two authorities,—both the Peloponnesian fleet by sea and the forces of Pharnabazus on land were completely defeated. Mindarus himself was slain; and the entire fleet, every single trireme, was captured, except the triremes of Syracuse, which were burnt by their own crews; while Kyzikus itself surrendered to the Athenians, and submitted to a large contribution, being spared from all other harm. The booty taken by the victors was abundant and valuable. The numbers of the triremes thus captured or destroyed is differently given; the lowest estimate states it at sixty, the highest at eighty.[169]

This capital action, ably planned and bravely executed by Alkibiadês and his two colleagues, about April 410 B.C., changed sensibly the relative position of the belligerents. The Peloponnesians had now no fleet of importance in Asia, though they probably still retained a small squadron at the station of Milêtus;[p. 122] while the Athenian fleet was more powerful and menacing than ever. The dismay of the defeated army is forcibly portrayed in the laconic despatch sent by Hippokratês, secretary of the late admiral Mindarus, to the ephors at Sparta: “All honor and advantage are gone from us: Mindarus is slain: the men are starving: we are in straits what to do.[170]” The ephors doubtless heard the same deplorable tale from more than one witness; for this particular despatch never reached them, having been intercepted and carried to Athens. So discouraging was the view which they entertained of the future, that a Lacedæmonian embassy, with Endius at their head, came to Athens to propose peace; or rather perhaps Endius—ancient friend and guest of Alkibiadês, who had already been at Athens as envoy before—was allowed to come thither now again to sound the temper of the city, in a sort of informal manner, which admitted of being easily disavowed if nothing came of it. For it is remarkable that Xenophon makes no mention of this embassy: and his silence, though not sufficient to warrant us in questioning the reality of the event,—which is stated by Diodorus, perhaps on the authority of Theopompus, and is noway improbable in itself,—nevertheless, leads me to doubt whether the ephors themselves admitted that they had made or sanctioned the proposition. It is to be remembered that Sparta, not to mention her obligation to her confederates generally, was at this moment bound by special convention to Persia to conclude no separate peace with Athens.

According to Diodorus, Endius, having been admitted to speak in the Athenian assembly, invited the Athenians to make peace with Sparta on the following terms: That each party should stand just as they were; that the garrisons on both sides should be withdrawn; that prisoners should be exchanged, one Lacedæmonian against one Athenian. Endius insisted in his speech on the mutual mischief which each was doing to the other by prolonging the war; but he contended that Athens was by far the greater sufferer of the two, and had the deepest interest in accelerating peace. She had no money, while Sparta had the[p. 123] Great King as a paymaster: she was robbed of the produce of Attica by the garrison of Dekeleia, while Peloponnesus was undisturbed: all her power and influence depended upon superiority at sea, which Sparta could dispense with, and yet retain her pre-eminence.[171]

If we may believe Diodorus, all the most intelligent citizens in Athens recommended that this proposition should be accepted. Only the demagogues, the disturbers, those who were accustomed to blow up the flames of war in order to obtain profit for themselves, opposed it. Especially the demagogue Kleophon, now enjoying great influence, enlarged upon the splendor of the recent victory, and upon the new chances of success now opening to them: insomuch that the assembly ultimately rejected the proposition of Endius.[172]

It was easy for those who wrote after the battle of Ægospotamos and the capture of Athens, to be wise after the fact, and to repeat the stock denunciations against an insane people, misled by a corrupt demagogue. But if, abstracting from our knowledge of the final close of the war, we look to the tenor of this proposition, even assuming it to have been formal and authorized, as well as the time at which it was made, we shall hesitate before we pronounce Kleophon to have been foolish, much less corrupt, for recommending its rejection. In reference to the charge of corrupt interest in the continuance of war, I have already made some remarks about Kleon, tending to show that no such interest can fairly be ascribed to demagogues of that character[173]. They were essentially unwarlike men, and had quite as much chance personally of losing, as of gaining, by a state of war. Especially this is true respecting Kleophon, during the last years of the war, since the financial posture of Athens was then so unprosperous, that all her available means were exhausted to provide for ships and men, leaving little or no surplus for political peculators. The admirals, who paid the seamen by raising contributions abroad, might possibly enrich themselves, if so inclined; but the politicians at home had much less chance of such gains than they would have had in time of peace. Besides[p. 124] even if Kleophon were ever so much a gainer by the continuance of war, yet, assuming Athens to be ultimately crushed in the war, he was certain beforehand to be deprived, not only of all his gains and his position, but of his life also.

So much for the charge against him of corrupt interest. The question whether his advice was judicious, is not so easy to dispose of. Looking to the time when the proposition was made, we must recollect that the Peloponnesian fleet in Asia had been just annihilated, and that the brief epistle itself, from Hippokratês to the ephors, divulging in so emphatic a manner the distress of his troops, was at this moment before the Athenian assembly. On the other hand, the despatches of the Athenian generals, announcing their victory, had excited a sentiment of universal triumph, manifested by public thanksgiving, at Athens:[174] nor can we doubt that Alkibiadês and his colleagues promised a large career of coming success, perhaps the recovery of most part of the lost maritime empire. In this temper of the Athenian people and of their generals, justified as it was to a great degree by the reality, what is the proposition which comes from Endius? What he proposes, is, in reality, no concession at all. Both parties to stand in their actual position; to withdraw garrisons; to restore prisoners. There was only one way in which Athens would have been a gainer by accepting these propositions. She would have withdrawn her garrison from Pylos, she would have been relieved from the garrison of Dekeleia; such an exchange would have been a considerable advantage to her. To this we must add the relief arising from simple cessation of war, doubtless real and important.

Now the question is, whether a statesman like Periklês would have advised his countrymen to be satisfied with such a measure of concession, immediately after the great victory of Kyzikus, and the two smaller victories preceding it? I incline to believe that he would not. It would rather have appeared to him in the light of a diplomatic artifice, calculated to paralyze Athens during the interval while her enemies were defenceless, and to gain time for them to build a new fleet.[175] Sparta could not pledge herself[p. 125] either for Persia, or for her Peloponnesian confederates; indeed, past experience had shown that she could not do so with effect. By accepting the propositions, therefore, Athens would not really have obtained relief from the entire burden of war; but would merely have blunted the ardor and tied up the hands of her own troops, at a moment when they felt themselves in the full current of success. By the armament, most certainly,—and by the generals, Alkibiadês, Theramenês, and Thrasybulus,—the acceptance of such terms at such a moment would have been regarded as a disgrace. It would have balked them of conquests ardently, and at that time not unreasonably, anticipated; conquests tending to restore Athens to that eminence from which she had been so recently deposed. And it would have inflicted this mortification, not merely without compensating gain to her in any other shape, but with a fair probability of imposing upon all her citizens the necessity of redoubled efforts at no very distant future, when the moment favorable to her enemies should have arrived.

If, therefore, passing from the vague accusation that it was the demagogue Kleophon who stood between Athens and the conclusion of peace, we examine what were the specific terms of peace which he induced his countrymen to reject, we shall find that he had very strong reasons, not to say preponderant reasons, for his advice. Whether he made any use of this proposition, in itself inadmissible, to try and invite the conclusion of peace on more suitable and lasting terms, may well be doubted. Probably no such efforts would have succeeded, even if they had been made; yet a statesman like Periklês would have made the trial, in a conviction that Athens was carrying on the war at a disadvantage which must in the long run sink her. A mere opposition speaker, like Kleophon, even when taking what was probably a right measure of the actual proposition before him, did not look so far forward into the future.

Meanwhile the Athenian fleet reigned alone in the Propontis and its two adjacent straits, the Bosphorus and the Hellespont; although the ardor and generosity of Pharnabazus not only sup[p. 126]plied maintenance and clothing to the distressed seamen of the vanquished fleet, but also encouraged the construction of fresh ships in the room of those captured. While he armed the seamen, gave them pay for two months, and distributed them as guards along the coast of the satrapy, he at the same time granted an unlimited supply of ship-timber from the abundant forests of Mount Ida, and assisted the officers in putting new triremes on the stocks at Antandrus; near to which, at a place called Aspaneus, the Idæan wood was chiefly exported.[176]

Having made these arrangements, he proceeded to lend aid at Chalkêdon, which the Athenians had already begun to attack. Their first operation after the victory, had been to sail to Perinthus and Selymbria, both of which had before revolted from Athens: the former, intimidated by the recent events, admitted them and rejoined itself to Athens; the latter resisted such a requisition, but ransomed itself from attack for the present, by the payment of a pecuniary fine. Alkibiadês then conducted them to Chalkêdon, opposite to Byzantium on the southernmost Asiatic border of the Bosphorus. To be masters of these two straits, the Bosphorus and the Hellespont, was a point of first-rate moment to Athens; first, because it enabled her to secure the arrival of the corn ships from the Euxine, for her own consumption; next, because she had it in her power to impose a tithe or due upon all the trading ships passing through, not unlike the dues imposed by the Danes at the Sound, even down to the present time. For the opposite reasons, of course, the importance of the position was equally great to the enemies of Athens. Until the spring of the preceding year, Athens had been undisputed mistress of both the straits. But the revolt of Abydos in the Hellespont (about April, 411 B.C.) and that of Byzantium with Chalkêdon in the Bosphorus (about June, 411 B.C.), had deprived her of this pre-eminence; and her supplies drained during the last few months could only have come through during those intervals when her fleets there stationed had the preponderance, so as to give them convoy. Accordingly, it is highly probable that her supplies of corn from the Euxine during the autumn of 411 B.C., had been comparatively restricted.

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Though Chalkêdon itself, assisted by Pharnabazus, still held out against Athens, Alkibiadês now took possession of Chrysopolis, its unfortified seaport, on the eastern coast of the Bosphorus opposite Byzantium. This place he fortified, established in it a squadron with a permanent garrison, and erected it into a regular tithing-port for levying toll on all vessels coming out of the Euxine.[177] The Athenians seem to have habitually levied this toll at Byzantium, until the revolt of that place, among their constant sources of revenue: it was now reëstablished under the auspices of Alkibiadês. In so far as it was levied on ships which brought their produce for sale and consumption at Athens, it was of course ultimately paid in the shape of increased price by Athenian citizens and metics. Thirty triremes under Theramenês, were left at Chrysopolis to enforce this levy, to convoy friendly merchantmen, and in other respects to serve as annoyance to the enemy.

The remaining fleet went partly to the Hellespont, partly to Thrace, where the diminished maritime strength of the Lacedæmonians already told in respect to the adherence of the cities. At Thasus, especially,[178] the citizens, headed by Ekphantus, expelled the Lacedæmonian harmost Eteonikus with his garrison, and admitted Thrasybulus with an Athenian force. It will be recollected that this was one of the cities in which Peisander and the Four Hundred conspirators (early in 411 B.C.) had put down the democracy and established an oligarchical government, under pretence that the allied cities would be faithful to Athens as soon as she was relieved from her democratical institutions. All the[p. 128] calculations of these oligarchs had been disappointed, as Phrynichus had predicted from the first: the Thasians, as soon as their own oligarchical party had been placed in possession of the government, recalled their disaffected exiles,[179] under whose auspices a Laconian garrison and harmost had since been introduced. Eteonikus, now expelled, accused the Lacedæmonian admiral Pasippidas of being himself a party to the expulsion, under bribes from Tissaphernês; an accusation which seems improbable, but which the Lacedæmonians believed, and accordingly banished Pasippidas, sending Kratesippidas to replace him. The new admiral found at Chios a small fleet which Pasippidas had already begun to collect from the allies, to supply the recent losses.[180]

The tone at Athens since the late naval victories, had become more hopeful and energetic. Agis, with his garrison at Dekeleia, though the Athenians could not hinder him from ravaging Attica, yet on approaching one day near to the city walls, was repelled with spirit and success by Thrasyllus. But that which most mortified the Lacedæmonian king, was to discern from his lofty station at Dekeleia, the abundant influx into the Peiræus of corn-ships from the Euxine, again renewed in the autumn of 410 B.C. since the occupation of the Bosphorus and Hellespont by Alkibiadês. For the safe reception of these vessels, Thorikus was soon after fortified. Agis exclaimed that it was fruitless to shut out the Athenians from the produce of Attica, so long as plenty of imported corn was allowed to reach them. Accordingly, he provided, in conjunction with the Megarians, a small squadron of fifteen triremes, with which he despatched Klearchus to Byzantium and Chalkêdon. That Spartan was a public guest of the Byzantines, and had already been singled out to command auxiliaries intended for that city. He seems to have begun his voyage during the ensuing winter (B.C. 410-409), and reached Byzantium in safety, though with the destruction of three of his squadron by the nine Athenian triremes who guarded the Hellespont.[181]

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In the ensuing spring, Thrasyllus was despatched from Athens at the head of a large new force to act in Ionia. He commanded fifty triremes, one thousand of the regular hoplites, one hundred horsemen, and five thousand seamen, with the means of arming these latter as peltasts; also transports for his troops besides the triremes.[182] Having reposed his armament for three days at Samos, he made a descent at Pygela, and next succeeded in making himself master of Kolophon, with its port Notium. He next threatened Ephesus, but that place was defended by a powerful force which Tissaphernês had summoned, under proclamation “to go and succor the goddess Artemis;” as well as by twenty-five fresh Syracusan and two Selinusian triremes recently arrived.[183] From these enemies, Thrasyllus sustained a severe defeat near Ephesus, lost three hundred men, and was compelled to sail off to Notium; from whence, after burying his dead, he proceeded northward towards the Hellespont. On their way thither, while halting for a while at Methymna in the north of Lesbos, Thrasyllus saw the twenty-five Syracusan triremes passing by on their voyage from Ephesus to Abydos. He immediately attacked them, captured four along with the entire crews, and chased the remainder back to their station at Ephesus. All the prisoners taken were sent to Athens, where they were deposited for custody in the stone-quarries of Peiræus, doubtless in retaliation for the treatment of the Athenian prisoners at Syracuse; they contrived, however, during the ensuing winter, to break a way out and escape to Dekeleia. Among the prisoners taken, was found Alkibiadês, the Athenian, cousin and fellow-exile of the Athe[p. 130]nian general of the same name, whom Thrasyllus caused to be set at liberty, while the others were sent to Athens.[184]

After the delay caused by this pursuit, he brought back his armament to the Hellespont and joined the force of Alkibiadês at Sestos. Their joint force was conveyed over, seemingly about the commencement of autumn, to Lampsakus, on the Asiatic side of the strait; which place they fortified and made their head-quarters for the autumn and winter, maintaining themselves by predatory excursions, throughout the neighboring satrapy of Pharnabazus. It is curious to learn, however, that when Alkibiadês was proceeding to marshal them all together,—the hoplites, according to Athenian custom, taking rank according to their tribes,—his own soldiers, never yet beaten, refused to fraternize with those of Thrasyllus, who had been so recently worsted at Ephesus. Nor was this alienation removed until after a joint expedition against Abydos; Pharnabazus presenting himself with a considerable force, especially cavalry, to relieve that place, was encountered and defeated in a battle wherein all the Athenians present took part. The honor of the hoplites of Thrasyllus was now held to be reëstablished, so that the fusion of ranks was admitted without farther difficulty.[185] Even the entire army, however, was not able to accomplish the conquest of Abydos; which the Peloponnesians and Pharnabazus still maintained as their station on the Hellespont.

Meanwhile Athens had so stripped herself of force, by the large armament recently sent with Thrasyllus, that her enemies near home were encouraged to active operations. The Spartans despatched an expedition, both of triremes and of land-force, to attack Pylos, which had remained as an Athenian post and a refuge for revolted Helots ever since its first fortification by Demosthenês, in B.C. 425. The place was vigorously attacked, both by sea and by land, and soon became much pressed. Not unmindful of its distress, the Athenians sent to its relief thirty triremes under Anytus, who, however, came back without even reaching the place, having been prevented by stormy weather or unfavorable winds from doubling Cape Malea. Pylos was soon after[p. 131]wards obliged to surrender, the garrison departing on terms of capitulation.[186] But Anytus, on his return, encountered great displeasure from his countrymen, and was put on his trial for having betrayed, or for not having done his utmost to fulfil, the trust confided to him. It is said that he only saved himself from condemnation by bribing the dikastery, and that he was the first Athenian who ever obtained a verdict by corruption.[187] Whether he could really have reached Pylos, and whether the obstacles which baffled him were such as an energetic officer would have overcome, we have no means of determining; still less, whether it be true that he actually escaped by bribery. The story seems to prove, however, that the general Athenian public thought him deserving of condemnation, and were so much surprised by his acquittal, as to account for it by supposing, truly or falsely, the use of means never before attempted.

It was about the same time, also, that the Megarians recovered by surprise their port of Nisæa, which had been held by an Athenian garrison since B.C. 424. The Athenians made an effort to recover it, but failed; though they defeated the Megarians in an action.[188]

Thrasyllus, during the summer of B.C. 409, and even the joint force of Thrasyllus and Alkibiadês during the autumn of the same year, seem to have effected less than might have been expected from so large a force: indeed, it must have been at some period during this year that the Lacedæmonian Klearchus, with his fifteen Megarian ships, penetrated up the Hellespont to Byzantium, finding it guarded only by nine Athenian triremes.[189] But the operations of 408 B.C. were more important. The entire force under Alkibiadês and the other commanders was mustered for the siege of Chalkêdon and Byzantium. The Chalkêdonians,[p. 132] having notice of the project, deposited their movable property for safety in the hand of their neighbors the Bithynian Thracians; a remarkable evidence of the good feeling and confidence between the two, contrasting strongly with the perpetual hostility which subsisted on the other side of the Bosphorus between Byzantium and the Thracian tribes adjoining.[190] But the precaution was frustrated by Alkibiadês, who entered the territory of the Bithynians and compelled them by threats to deliver up the effects confided to them. He then proceeded to block up Chalkêdon by a wooden wall carried across from the Bosphorus to the Propontis; though the continuity of this wall was interrupted by a river, and seemingly by some rough ground on the immediate brink of the river. The blockading wall was already completed, when Pharnabazus appeared with an army for the relief of the place, and advanced as far as the Herakleion, or temple of Heraklês, belonging to the Chalkêdonians. Profiting by his approach, Hippokratês, the Lacedæmonian harmost in the town, made a vigorous sally: but the Athenians repelled all the efforts of Pharnabazus to force a passage through their lines and join him; so that, after an obstinate contest, the sallying force was driven back within the walls of the town, and Hippokratês himself killed.[191]

The blockade of the town was now made so sure, that Alkibiadês departed with a portion of the army to levy money and get together forces for the siege of Byzantium afterwards. During his absence, Theramenês and Thrasybulus came to terms with Pharnabazus for the capitulation of Chalkêdon. It was agreed that the town should again become a tributary dependency of Athens, on the same rate of tribute as before the revolt, and that the arrears during the subsequent period should be paid up. Moreover, Pharnabazus himself engaged to pay to the Athenians twenty talents on behalf of the town, and also to escort some Athenian envoys up to Susa, enabling them to submit propositions for accommodation to the Great King. Until those envoys should return, the Athenians covenanted to abstain from hostilities against the satrapy of Pharnabazus.[192] Oaths to this effect[p. 133] were mutually exchanged, after the return of Alkibiadês from his expedition. For Pharnabazus positively refused to complete the ratification with the other generals, until Alkibiadês should be there to ratify in person also; a proof at once of the great individual importance of the latter, and of his known facility in finding excuses to evade an agreement. Two envoys were accordingly sent by Pharnabazus to Chrysopolis, to receive the oaths of Alkibiadês, while two relatives of Alkibiadês came to Chalkêdon as witnesses to those of Pharnabazus. Over and above the common oath shared with his colleagues, Alkibiadês took a special covenant of personal friendship and hospitality with the satrap, and received from him the like.

Alkibiadês had employed his period of absence in capturing Selymbria, from whence he obtained a sum of money, and in getting together a large body of Thracians, with whom he marched by land to Byzantium. That place was now besieged, immediately after the capitulation of Chalkêdon, by the united force of the Athenians. A wall of circumvallation was drawn around it, and various attacks were made by missiles and battering engines. These, however, the Lacedæmonian garrison, under the harmost Klearchus, aided by some Megarians under Helixus, and Bœotians under Kœratadas, was perfectly competent to repel. But the ravages of famine were not so easily dealt with. After the blockade had lasted some time, provisions began to fail; so[p. 134] that Klearchus, strict and harsh, even under ordinary circumstances, became inexorable and oppressive, from exclusive anxiety for the subsistence of his soldiers; and even locked up the stock of food while the population of the town were dying of hunger around him. Seeing that his only hope was from external relief, he sallied forth from the city to entreat aid from Pharnabazus; and to get together, if possible, a fleet for some aggressive operation that might divert the attention of the besiegers. He left the defence to Kœratadas and Helixus, in full confidence that the Byzantines were too much compromised by their revolt from Athens to venture to desert Sparta, whatever might be their suffering. But the favorable terms recently granted to Chalkêdon, coupled with the severe and increasing famine, induced Kydon and a Byzantine party to open the gates by night, and admit Alkibiadês with the Athenians into the wide interior square called the Thrakion. Helixus and Kœratadas, apprized of this attack only when the enemy had actually got possession of the town on all sides, vainly attempted resistance, and were compelled to surrender at discretion: they were sent as prisoners to Athens, where Kœratadas contrived to escape during the confusion of the landing at Peiræus. Favorable terms were granted to the town, which was replaced in its position of a dependent ally of Athens, and probably had to pay up its arrears of tribute in the same manner as Chalkêdon.[193]

So slow was the process of siege in ancient times, that the reduction of Chalkêdon and Byzantium occupied nearly the whole year; the latter place surrendering about the beginning of winter.[194] Both of them, however, were acquisitions of capital importance to Athens, making her again undisputed mistress of the Bosphorus, and insuring to her two valuable tributary allies. Nor was this all the improvement which the summer had operated in her position. The accommodation just concluded with Pharnabazus was also a step of great value, and still greater[p. 135] promise. It was plain that the satrap had grown weary of bearing all the brunt of the war for the benefit of the Peloponnesians, and that he was well disposed to assist the Athenians in coming to terms with the Great King. The mere withdrawal of his hearty support from Sparta, even if nothing else followed from it, was of immense moment to Athens; and thus much was really achieved. The envoys, five Athenians and two Argeians,—all, probably, sent for from Athens, which accounts for some delay,—were directed, after the siege of Chalkêdon, to meet Pharnabazus at Kyzikus. Some Lacedæmonian envoys, and even the Syracusan Hermokratês, who had been condemned and banished by sentence at home, took advantage of the same escort, and all proceeded on their journey upward to Susa. Their progress was arrested, during the extreme severity of the winter, at Gordium in Phrygia; and it was while pursuing their track into the interior at the opening of spring, that they met the young prince Cyrus, son of king Darius, coming down in person to govern an important part of Asia Minor. Some Lacedæmonian envoys, Bœotius and others, were travelling down along with him, after having fulfilled their mission at the Persian court.[195]


The advent of Cyrus, commonly known as Cyrus the younger, into Asia Minor, was an event of the greatest importance, opening what may be called the last phase in the Peloponnesian war.

He was the younger of the two sons of the Persian king Darius Nothus by the cruel queen Parysatis, and was now sent down by his father as satrap of Lydia, Phrygia the greater, and Kappadokia, as well as general of all that military division of which the muster-place was Kastôlus. His command did not at this[p. 136] time comprise the Greek cities on the coast, which were still left to Tissaphernês and Pharnabazus.[196] But he nevertheless brought down with him a strong interest in the Grecian war, and an intense anti-Athenian feeling, with full authority from his father to carry it out into act. Whatever this young man willed, he willed strongly; his bodily activity, rising superior to those temptations of sensual indulgence which often enervated the Persian grandees, provoked the admiration even of Spartans:[197] and his energetic character was combined with a certain measure of ability. Though he had not as yet conceived that deliberate plan for mounting the Persian throne which afterwards absorbed his whole mind, and was so near succeeding by the help of the Ten Thousand Greeks, yet he seems to have had from the beginning the sentiment and ambition of a king in prospect, not those of a satrap. He came down, well aware that Athens was the efficient enemy by whom the pride of the Persian kings had been humbled, the insular Greeks kept out of the sight of a Persian ship, and even the continental Greeks on the coast practically emancipated, for the last sixty years. He therefore brought down with him a strenuous desire to put down the Athenian power, very different from the treacherous balancing of Tissaphernês, and much more formidable even than the straightforward enmity of Pharnabazus, who had less money, less favor at court, and less of youthful ardor. Moreover, Pharnabazus, after having heartily espoused the cause of the Peloponnesians for the last three years, had now become weary of the allies whom he had so long kept in pay. Instead of expelling Athenian influence from his coasts with little difficulty, as he had expected to do, he found his satrapy plundered, his revenues impaired or absorbed, and an Athenian fleet all-powerful in the Propontis and Hellespont; while the Lacedæmonian fleet, which he had taken so much pains to invite, was destroyed. Decidedly sick of the Peloponnesian cause, he was even leaning towards Athens; and the envoys whom he was escorting to Susa might perhaps have laid the foundation of an altered Persian policy in Asia Minor, when the journey of Cyrus[p. 137] down to the coast overthrew all such calculations. The young prince brought with him a fresh, hearty, and youthful antipathy against Athens, a power inferior only to that of the Great King himself, and an energetic determination to use it without reserve in insuring victory to the Peloponnesians.

From the moment that Pharnabazus and the Athenian envoys met Cyrus, their farther progress towards Susa became impossible. Bœotius, and the other Lacedæmonian envoys travelling along with the young prince, made extravagant boasts of having obtained all that they asked for at Susa; and Cyrus himself announced his powers as unlimited in extent over the whole coast, all for the purpose of prosecuting vigorous war in conjunction with the Lacedæmonians. Pharnabazus, on hearing this intelligence, and seeing the Great King’s seal to the words, “I send down Cyrus, as lord of all those who muster at Kastôlus,” not only refused to let the Athenian envoys proceed onward, but was even obliged to obey the orders of the young prince, who insisted that they should either be surrendered to him, or at least detained for some time in the interior, in order that no information might be conveyed to Athens. The satrap resisted the first of these requisitions, having pledged his word for their safety; but he obeyed the second, detaining them in Kappadokia for no less than three years, until Athens was prostrate and on the point of surrender, after which he obtained permission from Cyrus to send them back to the sea-coast.[198]

This arrival of Cyrus, overruling the treachery of Tissaphernês as well as the weariness of Pharnabazus, and supplying the enemies of Athens with a double flow of Persian gold at a moment when the stream would otherwise have dried up, was a paramount item in that sum of causes which concurred to determine the result of the war.[199] But important as the event was in itself, it was[p. 138] rendered still more important by the character of the Lacedæmonian admiral Lysander, with whom the young prince first came into contact on reaching Sardis.

Lysander had come out to supersede Kratesippidas, about December, 408 B.C., or January, 407 B.C.[200] He was the last, after Brasidas and Gylippus, of that trio of eminent Spartans, from whom all the capital wounds of Athens proceeded, during the course of this long war. He was born of poor parents, and is even said to have been of that class called mothakes, being only enabled by the aid of richer men to keep up his contribution to the public mess, and his place in the constant drill and discipline. He was not only an excellent officer,[201] thoroughly competent to the[p. 139] duties of military command, but possessed also great talents for intrigue, and for organizing a political party as well as keeping up its disciplined movements. Though indifferent to the temptations either of money or of pleasure,[202] and willingly acquiescing in the poverty to which he was born, he was altogether unscrupulous in the prosecution of ambitious objects, either for his country or for himself. His family, poor as it was, enjoyed a dignified position at Sparta, belonging to the gens of the Herakleidæ, not connected by any near relationship with the kings: moreover, his personal reputation as a Spartan was excellent, since his observance of the rules of discipline had been rigorous and exemplary. The habits of self-constraint thus acquired, served him in good stead when it became necessary to his ambition to court the favor of the great. His recklessness about falsehood and perjury is illustrated by various current sayings ascribed to him; such as, that children were to be taken in by means of dice; men, by means of oaths.[203] A selfish ambition—for promoting the power of his country not merely in connection with, but in subservience to, his own—guided him from the beginning to the end of his career. In this main quality, he agreed with Alkibiadês; in reckless immorality of means, he went even beyond him. He seems to have been cruel; an attribute which formed no part of the usual character of Alkibiadês. On the other hand, the love of personal enjoyment, luxury, and ostentation, which counted for so much in Alkibiadês, was quite unknown to Lysander. The basis of his disposition was Spartan, tending to merge appetite, ostentation, and expansion of mind, all in the love of command and influence,—not Athenian, which tended to the development of many and diversified impulses; ambition being one, but only one, among the number.

Kratesippidas, the predecessor of Lysander, seems to have enjoyed the maritime command for more than the usual yearly period, having superseded Pasippidas during the middle of the year of the latter. But the maritime power of Sparta was then so weak, having not yet recovered from the ruinous defeat at Kyzikus, that he achieved little or nothing. We hear of him only as further[p. 140]ing, for his own profit, a political revolution at Chios. Bribed by a party of Chian exiles, he took possession of the acropolis, reinstated them in the island, and aided them in deposing and expelling the party then in office, to the number of six hundred. It is plain that this is not a question between democracy and oligarchy, but between two oligarchical parties, the one of which succeeded in purchasing the factious agency of the Spartan admiral. The exiles whom he expelled took possession of Atarneus, a strong post belonging to the Chians on the mainland opposite Lesbos. From hence they made war, as well as they could, upon their rivals now in possession of the island, and also upon other parts of Ionia; not without some success and profit, as will appear by their condition about ten years afterwards.[204]

The practice of reconstituting the governments of the Asiatic cities, thus begun by Kratesippidas, was extended and brought to a system by Lysander; not indeed for private emolument, which he always despised, but in views of ambition. Having departed from Peloponnesus with a squadron, he reinforced it at Rhodes, and then sailed onward to Kos—an Athenian island, so that he could only have touched there—and Milêtus. He took up his final station at Ephesus, the nearest point to Sardis, where Cyrus was expected to arrive; and while awaiting his coming, augmented his fleet to the number of seventy triremes. As soon as Cyrus reached Sardis, about April or May 407 B.C., Lysander went to pay his court to him, along with some Lacedæmonian envoys, and found himself welcomed with every mark of favor. Preferring bitter complaints against the double-dealing of Tissaphernês,—whom they accused of having frustrated the king’s orders, and sacrificed the interests of the empire, under the seductions of Alkibiadês,—they intreated Cyrus to adopt a new policy, and execute the stipulations of the treaty, by lending the most vigorous aid to put down the common enemy. Cyrus replied, that these were the express orders which he had received from his father, and that he was prepared to fulfil them with all his might. He had brought with him, he said, five hundred talents, which[p. 141] should be at once devoted to the cause: if these were insufficient, he would resort to the private funds which his father had given him; and if more still were needed, he would coin into money the gold and silver throne on which he sat.[205]

Lysander and the envoys returned the warmest thanks for these magnificent promises, which were not likely to prove empty words from the lips of a vehement youth like Cyrus. So sanguine were the hopes which they conceived from his character and proclaimed sentiments, that they ventured to ask him to restore the rate of pay to one full Attic drachma per head for the seamen; which had been the rate promised by Tissaphernês through his envoys at Sparta, when he first invited the Lacedæmonians across the Ægean, and when it was doubtful whether they would come, but actually paid only for the first month, and then reduced to half a drachma, furnished in practice with miserable irregularity. As a motive for granting this increase of pay, Cyrus was assured that it would determine the Athenian seamen to desert so largely, that the war would sooner come to an end, and of course the expenditure also. But he refused compliance, saying that the rate of pay had been fixed both by the king’s express orders and by the terms of the treaty, so that he could not depart from it.[206] In this reply Lysander was forced to acquiesce. The envoys were treated with distinction, and feasted[p. 142] at a banquet; after which Cyrus, drinking to the health of Lysander, desired him to declare what favor he could do to gratify him most. “To grant an additional obolus per head for each seaman’s pay,” replied Lysander. Cyrus immediately complied, having personally bound himself by his manner of putting the question. But the answer impressed him both with astonishment and admiration; for he had expected that Lysander would ask some favor or present for himself, judging him not only according to the analogy of most Persians, but also of Astyochus and the officers of the Peloponnesian armament at Milêtus, whose corrupt subservience to Tissaphernês had probably been made known to him. From such corruption, as well as from the mean carelessness of Theramenês, the Spartan, respecting the condition of the seamen,[207] Lysander’s conduct stood out in pointed and honorable contrast.

The incident here described not only procured for the seamen of the Peloponnesian fleet the daily pay of four oboli, instead of three, per man, but also insured to Lysander himself a degree of esteem and confidence from Cyrus which he knew well how to turn to account. I have already remarked,[208] in reference to Periklês and Nikias, that an established reputation for personal incorruptibility, rare as that quality was among Grecian leading politicians, was among the most precious items in the capital stock of an ambitious man, even if looked at only in regard to the durability of his own influence. If the proof of such disinterestedness was of so much value in the eyes of the Athenian people, yet more powerfully did it work upon the mind of Cyrus. With his Persian and princely ideas of winning adherents by munificence,[209] a man who despised presents was a phenomenon[p. 143] commanding the higher sentiment of wonder and respect. From this time forward he not only trusted Lysander with implicit pecuniary confidence, but consulted him as to the prosecution of the war, and even condescended to second his personal ambition to the detriment of this object.[210]

Returning from Sardis to Ephesus, after such unexampled success in his interview with Cyrus, Lysander was enabled not only to make good to his fleet the full arrear actually due, but also to pay them for a month in advance, at the increased rate of four oboli per man; and to promise that high rate for the future. A spirit of the highest satisfaction and confidence was diffused through the armament. But the ships were in indifferent condition, having been hastily and parsimoniously got up since the late defeat at Kyzikus. Accordingly, Lysander employed his present affluence in putting them into better order, procuring more complete tackle, and inviting picked crews.[211] He took another step pregnant with important results. Summoning to Ephesus a few of the most leading and active men from each of the Asiatic cities, he organized them into disciplined clubs, or factions, in correspondence with himself. He instigated these clubs to the most vigorous prosecution of the war against Athens, promising that, as soon as that war should be concluded, they should be invested and maintained by Spartan influence in the government of their respective cities.[212] His newly established influence with Cyrus, and the abundant supplies of which he was now master, added double force to an invitation in itself but too seducing. And thus, while infusing increased ardor into the joint warlike efforts of these cities, he at the same time procured for himself an ubiquitous correspondence, such as no successor could manage, rendering the continuance of his own command almost essential to success. The fruits of his factious manœuvres will be seen in the subsequent dekadarchies, or oligarchies of Ten, after the complete subjugation of Athens.

While Lysander and Cyrus were thus restoring formidable efficacy to their side of the contest, during the summer of 407[p. 144] B.C., the victorious exile Alkibiadês had accomplished the important and delicate step of reëntering his native city for the first time. According to the accommodation with Pharnabazus, concluded after the reduction of Chalkêdon, the Athenian fleet was precluded from assailing his satrapy, and was thus forced to seek subsistence elsewhere. Byzantium and Selymbria, with contributions levied in Thrace, maintained them for the winter: in the spring (407 B.C.), Alkibiadês brought them again to Samos; from whence he undertook an expedition against the coast of Karia, levying contributions to the extent of one hundred talents. Thrasybulus, with thirty triremes, went to attack Thrace, where he reduced Thasos, Abdêra, and all those towns which had revolted from Athens; Thasos being now in especial distress from famine as well as from past seditions. A valuable contribution for the support of the fleet was doubtless among the fruits of this success. Thrasyllus at the same time conducted another division of the army home to Athens, intended by Alkibiadês as precursors of his own return.[213]

Before Thrasyllus arrived, the people had already manifested their favorable disposition towards Alkibiadês by choosing him anew general of the armament, along with Thrasybulus and Konon. Alkibiadês was now tending homeward from Samos with twenty triremes, bringing with him all the contributions recently levied: he first stopped at Paros, then visited the coast of Laconia, and lastly looked into the harbor of Gytheion in Laconia, where he had learned that thirty triremes were preparing. The news which he received of his reëlection as general, strengthened by the pressing invitations and encouragements of his friends, as well as by the recall of his banished kinsmen at length determined him to sail to Athens. He reached Peiræus on a marked day, the festival of the Plyntêria, on the 25th of the month Thargêlion, about the end of May, 407 B.C. This was a day of melancholy solemnity, accounted unpropitious for any action of importance. The statue of the goddess Athênê was stripped of all its ornaments, covered up from every one’s gaze,[p. 145] and washed or cleansed under a mysterious ceremonial, by the holy gens, called Praxiergidæ. The goddess thus seemed to turn away her face, and refuse to behold the returning exile. Such at least was the construction of his enemies; and as the subsequent turn of events tended to bear them out, it has been preserved; while the more auspicious counter-interpretation, doubtless suggested by his friends, has been forgotten.

The most extravagant representations, of the pomp and splendor of this return of Alkibiadês to Athens, were given by some authors of antiquity, especially by Duris of Samos, an author about two generations later. It was said that he brought with him two hundred prow-ornaments belonging to captive enemies’ ships, or, according to some, even the two hundred captured ships themselves; that his trireme was ornamented with gilt and silvered shields, and sailed by purple sails; that Kallippidês, one of the most distinguished actors of the day, performed the functions of keleustês, pronouncing the chant or word of command to the rowers; that Chrysogonus, a flute-player, who had gained the first prize at the Pythian games, was also on board playing the air of return.[214] All these details, invented with melancholy facility, to illustrate an ideal of ostentation and insolence, are refuted by the more simple and credible narrative of Xenophon. The reëntry of Alkibiadês was not merely unostentatious, but even mistrustful and apprehensive. He had with him only twenty triremes; and though encouraged, not merely by the assurances of his friends, but also by the news that he had just been reëlected general, he was, nevertheless, half afraid to disembark, even at the instant when he made fast his ship to the quay in Peiræus. A vast crowd had assembled there from the city and the port, animated by curiosity, interest, and other emotions of every kind, to see him arrive. But so little did he trust their sentiments that he hesitated at first to step on shore, and stood upon the deck looking about for his friends and kinsmen. Presently, he saw Euryptolemus his cousin, and others, by whom he was heartily welcomed, and in the midst of whom he landed. But they too were so apprehensive of his numerous enemies, that they formed themselves into a sort of body-guard, to sur[p. 146]round and protect him against any possible assault during his march from Peiræus to Athens.[215]

No protection, however, was required. Not merely did his enemies attempt no violence against him, but they said nothing in opposition when he made his defence before the senate and the public assembly. Protesting before the one as well as the other, his innocence of the impiety laid to his charge, he denounced bitterly the injustice of his enemies, and gently, but pathetically, deplored the unkindness of the people. His friends all spoke warmly in the same strain. So strenuous, and so pronounced, was the sentiment in his favor, both of the senate and of the public assembly, that no one dared to address them in the contrary sense.[216] The sentence of condemnation passed against him was cancelled: the Eumolpidæ were directed to revoke the curse which they had pronounced upon his head: the record of the sentence was destroyed, and the plate of lead upon which the curse was engraven, thrown into the sea: his confiscated property was restored: lastly, he was proclaimed general with full powers, and allowed to prepare an expedition of one hundred triremes, fifteen hundred hoplites from the regular muster-roll, and one hundred and fifty horsemen. All this passed, by unopposed vote, amidst silence on the part of enemies and acclamations from friends, amidst unmeasured promises of future achievement from himself, and confident assurances, impressed by his friends on willing hearers, that Alkibiadês was the only man competent to restore the empire and grandeur of Athens. The general expectation, which he and his friends took every possible pains to excite, was, that his victorious career of the last three years was a preparation for yet greater triumphs during the next.

We may be satisfied, when we advert to the apprehensions of Alkibiadês on entering the Peiræus, and to the body-guard organized by his friends, that this overwhelming and uncontradicted[p. 147] triumph greatly surpassed the anticipations of both. It intoxicated him, and led him to make light of enemies whom only just before he had so much dreaded. This mistake, together with the carelessness and insolence arising out of what seemed to be an unbounded ascendency, proved the cause of his future ruin. But the truth is, that these enemies, however they might remain silent, had not ceased to be formidable. Alkibiadês had now been eight years in exile, from about August 415 B.C. to May 407 B.C. Now absence was in many ways a good thing for his reputation, since his overbearing private demeanor had been kept out of sight, and his impieties partially forgotten. There was even a disposition among the majority to accept his own explicit denial of the fact laid to his charge, and to dwell chiefly upon the unworthy manœuvres of his enemies in resisting his demand for instant trial immediately after the accusation was broached, in order that they might calumniate him during his absence. He was characterized as a patriot animated by the noblest motives, who had brought both first-rate endowments and large private wealth to the service of the commonwealth, but had been ruined by a conspiracy of corrupt and worthless speakers, every way inferior to him; men, whose only chance of success with the people arose from expelling those who were better than themselves, while he, Alkibiadês, far from having any interest adverse to the democracy, was the natural and worthy favorite of a democratical people.[217] So far as the old causes of unpopularity were concerned, therefore, time and absence had done much to weaken their effect, and to assist his friends in countervailing them by pointing to the treacherous political manœuvres employed against him.

But if the old causes of unpopularity had thus, comparatively speaking, passed out of sight, others had since arisen, of a graver and more ineffaceable character. His vindictive hostility to his country had been not merely ostentatiously proclaimed, but actively manifested, by stabs but too effectively aimed at her vitals. The sending of Gylippus to Syracuse, the fortification of Dekeleia, the revolts of Chios and Milêtus, the first origination of the conspiracy of the Four Hundred, had all been emphatically the[p. 148] measures of Alkibiadês. Even for these, the enthusiasm of the moment attempted some excuse: it was affirmed that he had never ceased to love his country, in spite of her wrongs towards him, and that he had been compelled by the necessities of exile to serve men whom he detested, at the daily risk of his life.[218] But such pretences could not really impose upon any one. The treason of Alkibiadês during the period of his exile remained indefensible as well as undeniable, and would have been more than sufficient as a theme for his enemies, had their tongues been free. But his position was one altogether singular: having first inflicted on his country immense mischief, he had since rendered her valuable service, and promised to render still more. It is true, that the subsequent service was by no means adequate to the previous mischief: nor had it indeed been rendered exclusively by him, since the victories of Abydos and Kyzikus belong not less to Theramenês and Thrasybulus than to Alkibiadês:[219] moreover, the peculiar present or capital which he had promised to bring with him,—Persian alliance and pay to Athens,—had proved a complete delusion. Still, the Athenian arms had been eminently successful since his junction, and we may see that not merely common report, but even good judges, such as Thucydidês, ascribed this result to his superior energy and management.

Without touching upon these particulars, it is impossible fully to comprehend the very peculiar position of this returning exile before the Athenian people in the summer of 407 B.C. The more distant past exhibited him as among the worst of criminals; the recent past, as a valuable servant and patriot: the future promised continuance in this last character, so far as there were any positive indications to judge by. Now this was a case in which discussion and recrimination could not possibly answer any useful purpose. There was every reason for reappointing Alkibiadês to his command; but this could only be done under[p. 149] prohibition of censure on his past crimes, and provisional acceptance of his subsequent good deeds, as justifying the hope of yet better deeds to come. The popular instinct felt this situation perfectly, and imposed absolute silence on his enemies.[220] We are not to infer from hence that the people had forgotten the past deeds of Alkibiadês, or that they entertained for him nothing but unqualified confidence and admiration. In their present very justifiable sentiment of hopefulness, they determined that he should have full scope for prosecuting his new and better career, if he chose; and that his enemies should be precluded from reviving the mention of an irreparable past, so as to shut the door against him. But what was thus interdicted to men’s lips as unseasonable, was not effaced from their recollections; nor were the enemies, though silenced for the moment, rendered powerless for the future. All this train of combustible matter lay quiescent, ready to be fired by any future misconduct or negligence, perhaps even by blameless ill-success, on the part of Alkibiadês.

At a juncture when so much depended upon his future behavior, he showed, as we shall see presently, that he completely misinterpreted the temper of the people. Intoxicated by the unexpected triumph of his reception, according to that fatal susceptibility so common among distinguished Greeks, he forgot his own past history, and fancied that the people had forgotten and forgiven it also; construing their studied and well-advised silence into a proof of oblivion. He conceived himself in assured possession of public confidence, and looked upon his numerous enemies as if they no longer existed, because they were not allowed to speak at a most unseasonable hour. Without doubt, his exultation was shared by his friends, and this sense of false security proved his future ruin.

Two colleagues, recommended by Alkibiadês himself, Adeimantus and Aristokratês, were named by the people as generals of the hoplites to go out with him, in case of operations ashore.[221][p. 150] In less than three months, his armament was ready; but he designedly deferred his departure until that day of the month Boedromion, about the beginning of September, when the Eleusinian mysteries were celebrated, and when the solemn processional march of the crowd of communicants was wont to take place, along the Sacred Way from Athens to Eleusis. For seven successive years, ever since the establishment of Agis at Dekeleia, this march had been of necessity discontinued, and the procession had been transported by sea, to the omission of many of the ceremonial details. Alkibiadês, on this occasion, caused the land-march to be renewed, in full pomp and solemnity; assembling all his troops in arms to protect, in case any attack should be made from Dekeleia. No such attack was hazarded; so that he had the satisfaction of reviving the full regularity of this illustrious scene, and escorting the numerous communicants out and home, without the smallest interruption; an exploit gratifying to the religious feelings of the people, and imparting an acceptable sense of undiminished Athenian power; while in reference to his own reputation, it was especially politic, as serving to make his peace with the Eumolpidæ and the Two Goddesses, on whose account he had been condemned.[222]

Immediately after the mysteries, he departed with his armament. It appears that Agis at Dekeleia, though he had not chosen to come out and attack Alkibiadês when posted to guard the Eleusinian procession, had nevertheless felt humiliated by the defiance offered to him. He shortly afterwards took advantage of the departure of this large force, to summon reinforcements from Peloponnesus and Bœotia, and attempt to surprise the walls of Athens on a dark night. If he expected any connivance within, the plot miscarried: alarm was given in time, and the eldest and youngest hoplites were found at their posts to defend the walls. The assailants—said to have amounted to[p. 151] twenty-eight thousand men, of whom half were hoplites, with twelve hundred cavalry, nine hundred of them Bœotians—were seen on the ensuing day close under the walls of the city, which were amply manned with the full remaining strength of Athens. In an obstinate cavalry battle which ensued, the Athenians gained the advantage even over the Bœotians. Agis encamped the next night in the garden of Akadêmus; again on the morrow he drew up his troops and offered battle to the Athenians, who are affirmed to have gone forth in order of battle, but to have kept under the protection of the missiles from the walls, so that Agis did not dare to attack them.[223] We may well doubt whether the Athenians went out at all, since they had been for years accustomed to regard themselves as inferior to the Peloponnesians in the field. Agis now withdrew, satisfied apparently with having offered battle, so as to efface the affront which he had received from the march of the Eleusinian communicants in defiance of his neighborhood.

The first exploit of Alkibiadês was to proceed to Andros, now under a Lacedæmonian harmost and garrison. Landing on the island, he plundered the fields, defeated both the native troops and the Lacedæmonians, and forced them to shut themselves up within the town; which he besieged for some days without avail, and then proceeded onward to Samos, leaving Konon in a fortified post, with twenty ships, to prosecute the siege.[224] At Samos, he first ascertained the state of the Peloponnesian fleet at Ephesus, the influence acquired by Lysander over Cyrus, the strong anti-Athenian dispositions of the young prince, and the ample rate of pay, put down even in advance, of which the Peloponnesian seamen were now in actual receipt. He now first became convinced of the failure of those hopes which he had conceived, not without good reason, in the preceding year,—and of which he had doubtless boasted at Athens,—that the alliance of Persia might be neutralized at least, if not won over, through the envoys escorted to Susa by Pharnabazus. It was in vain that he prevailed upon Tissaphernês to mediate with Cyrus, to introduce to[p. 152] him some Athenian envoys, and to inculcate upon him his own views of the true interests of Persia; that is, that the war should be fed and protracted so as to wear out both the Grecian belligerent parties, each by means of the other. Such a policy, uncongenial at all times to the vehement temper of Cyrus, had become yet more repugnant to him since his intercourse with Lysander. He would not consent even to see the envoys, nor was he probably displeased to put a slight upon a neighbor and rival satrap. Deep was the despondency among the Athenians at Samos, when painfully convinced that all hopes from Persia must be abandoned for themselves; and farther, that Persian pay was both more ample and better assured, to their enemies, than ever it had been before.[225]

Lysander had at Ephesus a fleet of ninety triremes, which he employed himself in repairing and augmenting, being still inferior in number to the Athenians. In vain did Alkibiadês attempt to provoke him out to a general action. This was much to the interest of the Athenians, apart from their superiority of number, since they were badly provided with money, and obliged to levy contributions wherever they could: but Lysander was resolved not to fight unless he could do so with advantage, and Cyrus, not afraid of sustaining the protracted expense of the war, had even enjoined upon him this cautious policy, with additional hopes of a Phenician fleet to his aid, which in his mouth was not intended to delude, as it had been by Tissaphernês.[226] Unable to bring about a general battle, and having no immediate or capital enterprise to constrain his attention, Alkibiadês became careless, and abandoned himself partly to the love of pleasure, partly to reckless predatory enterprises for the purpose of getting money to pay his army. Thrasybulus had come from his post on the Hellespont, and was now engaged in fortifying Phokæa, probably for the purpose of establishing a post, to be enabled to pillage the interior. Here he was joined by Alkibiadês, who sailed across with a squadron, leaving his main fleet at Samos. He left it under the com[p. 153]mand of his favorite pilot Antiochus, but with express orders on no account to fight until his return.

While employed in this visit to Phokæa and Klazomenæ, Alkibiadês, perhaps hard-pressed for money, conceived the unwarrantable project of enriching his men by the plunder of the neighboring territory of Kymê, an allied dependency of Athens. Landing on this territory unexpectedly, after fabricating some frivolous calumnies against the Kymæans, he at first seized much property and a considerable number of prisoners. But the inhabitants assembled in arms, bravely defended their possessions, and repelled his men to their ships; recovering the plundered property, and lodging it in safety within their walls. Stung with this miscarriage, Alkibiadês sent for a reinforcement of hoplites from Mitylênê, and marched up to the walls of Kymê, where he in vain challenged the citizens to come forth and fight. He then ravaged the territory at pleasure: nor had the Kymæans any other resource, except to send envoys to Athens, to complain of so gross an outrage, inflicted by the Athenian general upon an unoffending Athenian dependency.[227]

This was a grave charge, nor was it the only charge which Alkibiadês had to meet at Athens. During his absence at Phokæa and Kymê, Antiochus the pilot, whom he had left in command, disobeying the express order pronounced against fighting a battle, first sailed across from Samos to Notium, the harbor of Kolophon, and from thence to the mouth of the harbor of Ephesus, where the Peloponnesian fleet lay. Entering that harbor with his own ship and another, he passed close in front of the prows of the Peloponnesian triremes, insulting them scornfully and defying them to combat. Lysander detached some ships to pursue him, and an action gradually ensued, which was exactly that which Antiochus desired. But the Athenian ships were all in disorder,[p. 154] and came into battle as each of them separately could; while the Peloponnesian fleet was well marshalled and kept in hand; so that the battle was all to the advantage of the latter. The Athenians, compelled to take flight, were pursued to Notium, losing fifteen triremes, several along with their full crews. Antiochus himself was slain. Before retiring to Ephesus, Lysander had the satisfaction of erecting his trophy on the shore of Notium; while the Athenian fleet was carried back to its station at Samos.[228]

It was in vain that Alkibiadês, hastening back to Samos, mustered the entire Athenian fleet, sailed to the mouth of the harbor of Ephesus, and there ranged his ships in battle order, challenging the enemy to come forth. Lysander would give him no opportunity of wiping out the late dishonor. And as an additional mortification to Athens, the Lacedæmonians shortly afterwards captured both Teos and Delphinium; the latter being a fortified post which the Athenians had held for the last three years in the island of Chios.[229]

Even before the battle of Notium, it appears that complaints and dissatisfactions had been growing up in the armament against Alkibiadês. He had gone out with a splendid force, not inferior, in number of triremes and hoplites, to that which he had conducted against Sicily, and under large promises, both from himself and his friends, of achievements to come. Yet in a space of time which can hardly have been less than three months, not a single success had been accomplished; while on the other side there was to be reckoned the disappointment on the score of Persia, which had great effect on the temper of the armament, and which, though not his fault, was contrary to expectations which he had held out, the disgraceful plunder of Kymê, and the defeat at Notium. It was true that Alkibiadês had given peremptory orders to Antiochus not to fight, and that the battle had been hazarded in flagrant disobedience to his injunctions. But this cir[p. 155]cumstance only raised new matter for dissatisfaction of a graver character. If Antiochus had been disobedient,—if, besides disobedience, he had displayed a childish vanity and an utter neglect of all military precautions,—who was it that had chosen him for deputy; and that too against all Athenian precedent, putting the pilot, a paid officer of the ship, over the heads of the trierarchs who paid their pilots, and served at their own cost? It was Alkibiadês who placed Antiochus in this grave and responsible situation,—a personal favorite, an excellent convivial companion, but destitute of all qualities befitting a commander. And this turned attention on another point of the character of Alkibiadês, his habits of excessive self-indulgence and dissipation. The loud murmurs of the camp charged him with neglecting the interests of the service for enjoyments with jovial parties and Ionian women, and with admitting to his confidence those who best contributed to the amusement of these chosen hours.[230]

It was in the camp at Samos that this general indignation against Alkibiadês first arose, and was from thence transmitted formally to Athens, by the mouth of Thrasybulus son of Thrason,[231] not the eminent Thrasybulus, son of Lykus, who has been already often spoken of in this history, and will be so again. There came at the same time to Athens the complaints from Kymê, against the unprovoked aggression and plunder of that place by Alkibiadês; and seemingly complaints from other places besides.[232] It was even urged as accusation against him, that he[p. 156] was in guilty collusion to betray the fleet to Pharnabazus and the Lacedæmonians, and that he had already provided three strong forts in the Chersonese to retire to, as soon as this scheme should be ripe for execution.

Such grave and wide-spread accusations, coupled with the disaster at Notium, and the complete disappointment of all the promises of success, were more than sufficient to alter the sentiments of the people of Athens towards Alkibiadês. He had no character to fall back upon; or rather, he had a character worse than none, such as to render the most criminal imputations of treason not intrinsically improbable. The comments of his enemies, which had been forcibly excluded from public discussion during his summer visit to Athens, were now again set free; and all the adverse recollections of his past life doubtless revived. The people had refused to listen to these, in order that he might have a fair trial, and might verify the title, claimed for him by his friends, to be judged only by his subsequent exploits, achieved since the year 411 B.C. He had now had his trial; he had been found wanting; and the popular confidence, which had been provisionally granted to him, was accordingly withdrawn.

It is not just to represent the Athenian people, however Plutarch and Cornelius Nepos may set before us this picture, as having indulged an extravagant and unmeasured confidence in Alkibiadês in the month of July, demanding of him more than man could perform, and as afterwards in the month of December passing, with childish abruptness, from confidence into wrathful displeasure, because their own impossible expectations were not already realized. That the people entertained large expectations, from so very considerable an armament, cannot be doubted: the largest of all, probably, as in the instance of the Sicilian expedition, were those entertained by Alkibiadês himself, and promulgated by his friends. But we are not called upon to determine what the people would have done, had Alkibiadês, after per[p. 157]forming all the duties of a faithful, skilful, and enterprising commander, nevertheless failed, from obstacles beyond his own control, in realizing their hopes and his own promises. No such case occurred: that which did occur was materially different. Besides the absence of grand successes, he had farther been negligent and reckless in his primary duties; he had exposed the Athenian arms to defeat, by his disgraceful selection of an unworthy lieutenant;[233] he had violated the territory and property of an allied dependency, at a moment when Athens had a paramount interest in cultivating by every means the attachment of her remaining allies. The truth is, as I have before remarked, that he had really been spoiled by the intoxicating reception given to him so unexpectedly in the city. He had mistaken a hopeful public, determined, even by forced silence as to the past, to give him the full benefit of a meritorious future, but requiring as condition from him, that that future should really be meritorious, for a public of assured admirers, whose favor he had already earned and might consider as his own. He became an altered man after that visit, like Miltiadês after the battle of Marathon; or, rather, the impulses of a character essentially dissolute and insolent, broke loose from that restraint under which they had before been partially controlled. At the time of the battle of Kyzikus, when Alkibiadês was laboring to regain the favor of his injured countrymen, and was yet uncertain whether he should[p. 158] succeed, he would not have committed the fault of quitting his fleet and leaving it under the command of a lieutenant like Antiochus. If, therefore, Athenian sentiment towards Alkibiadês underwent an entire change during the autumn of 407 B.C., this was in consequence of an alteration in his character and behavior; an alteration for the worse, just at the crisis when everything turned upon his good conduct, and upon his deserving at least, if he could not command success.

We may, indeed, observe that the faults of Nikias before Syracuse, and in reference to the coming of Gylippus, were far graver and more mischievous than those of Alkibiadês during this turning season of his career, and the disappointment of antecedent hopes at least equal. Yet while these faults and disappointment brought about the dismissal and disgrace of Alkibiadês, they did not induce the Athenians to dismiss Nikias, though himself desiring it, nor even prevent them from sending him a second armament to be ruined along with the first. The contrast is most instructive, as demonstrating upon what points durable esteem in Athens turned; how long the most melancholy public incompetency could remain overlooked, when covered by piety, decorum, good intentions, and high station;[234] how short-lived was the ascendency of a man far superior in ability and energy, besides an equal station, when his moral qualities and antecedent life were such as to provoke fear and hatred in many, esteem from none. Yet, on the whole, Nikias, looking at him as a public servant, was far more destructive to his country than Alkibiadês. The mischief done to Athens by the latter was done in the avowed service of her enemies.

On hearing the news of the defeat of Notium and the accumulated complaints against Alkibiadês, the Athenians simply voted that he should be dismissed from his command; naming[p. 159] ten new generals to replace him. He was not brought to trial, nor do we know whether any such step was proposed. Yet his proceedings at Kymê, if they happened as we read them, richly deserved judicial animadversion; and the people, had they so dealt with him, would only have acted up to the estimable function ascribed to them by the oligarchical Phrynichus, “of serving as refuge to their dependent allies, and chastising the high-handed oppressions of the optimates against them.”[235] In the perilous position of Athens, however, with reference to the foreign war, such a political trial would have been productive of much dissension and mischief. And Alkibiadês avoided the question by not coming to Athens. As soon as he heard of his dismissal, he retired immediately from the army to his own fortified posts on the Chersonese.

The ten new generals named were Konon, Diomedon, Leon, Periklês, Erasinidês, Aristokratês, Archestratus, Protomachus, Thrasyllus, Aristogenês. Of these, Konon was directed to proceed forthwith from Andros with the twenty ships which he had there, to receive the fleet from Alkibiadês; while Phanosthenês proceeded with four triremes to replace Konon at Andros.[236]

In his way thither, Phanosthenês fell in with Dorieus the Rhodian and two Thurian triremes, which he captured, with every man aboard. The captives were sent to Athens, where all were placed in custody, in case of future exchange, except Dorieus himself. The latter had been condemned to death, and banished from his native city of Rhodes, together with his kindred, probably on the score of political disaffection, at the time when Rhodes was a member of the Athenian alliance. Having since then become a citizen of Thurii, he had served with distinction in the fleet of Mindarus, both at Milêtus and the Hellespont. The Athenians now had so much compassion upon him that they released him at once and unconditionally, without even demanding a ransom or an equivalent. By what particular circumstance their compassion was determined, forming a pleasing[p. 160] exception to the melancholy habits which pervaded Grecian warfare in both belligerents, we should never have learned from the meagre narrative of Xenophon. But we ascertain from other sources, that Dorieus, the son of Diagoras of Rhodes, was illustrious beyond all other Greeks for his victories in the pankration at the Olympic, Isthmian, and Nemean festivals; that he had gained the first prize at three Olympic festivals in succession, of which Olympiad 88, or 428 B.C. was the second, a distinction altogether without precedent, besides eight Isthmian and seven Nemean prizes; that his father Diagoras, his brothers, and his cousins, were all celebrated as successful athletes; lastly, that the family were illustrious from old date in their native island of Rhodes, and were even descended from the Messenian hero Aristomenês. When the Athenians saw before them as their prisoner a man doubtless of magnificent stature and presence, as we may conclude from his athletic success, and surrounded by such a halo of glory, impressive in the highest degree to Grecian imagination, the feelings and usages of war were at once overruled. Though Dorieus had been one of their most vehement enemies, they could not bear either to touch his person, or to exact from him any condition. Released by them on this occasion, he lived to be put to death, about thirteen years afterwards, by the Lacedæmonians.[237]

When Konon reached Samos to take the command, he found the armament in a state of great despondency; not merely from the dishonorable affair of Notium, but also from disappointed hopes connected with Alkibiadês, and from difficulties in procuring regular pay. So painfully was the last inconvenience felt, that the first measure of Konon was to contract the numbers of the armament from above one hundred triremes to seventy; and to reserve for the diminished fleet all the ablest seamen of the larger. With this fleet, he and his colleagues roved about the enemies’ coasts to collect plunder and pay.[238]

Apparently about the same time that Konon superseded Alkibiadês, that is, about December 407 B.C. or January 406 B.C., the year of Lysander’s command expired, and Kallikratidas arrived[p. 161] from Sparta to replace him. His arrival was received with undisguised dissatisfaction by the leading Lacedæmonians in the armament, by the chiefs in the Asiatic cities, and by Cyrus. Now was felt the full influence of those factious correspondences and intrigues which Lysander had established with all of them, for indirectly working out the perpetuity of his own command. While loud complaints were heard of the impolicy of Sparta, in annually changing her admiral, both Cyrus and the rest concurred with Lysander in throwing difficulties in the way of the new successor.

Kallikratidas, unfortunately only shown by the Fates,[239] and not suffered to continue in the Grecian world, was one of the noblest characters of his age. Besides perfect courage, energy, and incorruptibility, he was distinguished for two qualities, both of them very rare among eminent Greeks; entire straightforwardness of dealing, and a Pan-Hellenic patriotism alike comprehensive, exalted, and merciful. Lysander handed over to him nothing but an empty purse; having repaid to Cyrus all the money remaining in his possession, under pretence that it had been confided to himself personally.[240] Moreover, on delivering up the fleet to Kallikratidas at Ephesus, he made boast of delivering to him at the same time the mastery of the sea, through the victory recently gained at Notium. “Conduct the fleet from Ephesus along the coast of Samos, passing by the Athenian station (replied Kallikratidas), and give it up to me at Milêtus: I shall then believe in your mastery of the sea.” Lysander had nothing else[p. 162] to say, except that he should give himself no farther trouble, now that his command had been transferred to another.

Kallikratidas soon found that the leading Lacedæmonians in the fleet, gained over to the interests of his predecessor, openly murmured at his arrival, and secretly obstructed all his measures; upon which he summoned them together, and said: “I, for my part, am quite content to remain at home; and if Lysander, or any one else, pretends to be a better admiral than I am, I have nothing to say against it. But sent here as I am by the authorities at Sparta to command the fleet, I have no choice except to execute their orders in the best way that I can. You now know how far my ambition reaches;[241] you know also the murmurs which are abroad against our common city (for her frequent change of admirals). Look to it, and give me your opinion. Shall I stay where I am, or shall I go home, and communicate what has happened here?”

This remonstrance, alike pointed and dignified, produced its full effect. Every one replied, that it was his duty to stay and undertake the command. The murmurs and cabals were from that moment discontinued.

His next embarrassments arose from the manœuvre of Lysander in paying back to Cyrus all the funds from whence the continuous pay of the army was derived. Of course this step was admirably calculated to make every one regret the alteration of command. Kallikratidas, who had been sent out without funds, in full reliance on the unexhausted supply from Sardis, now found himself compelled to go thither in person and solicit a renewal of the bounty. But Cyrus, eager to manifest in every way his partiality for the last admiral, deferred receiving him, first for two days, then for a farther interval, until the patience of Kallikratidas was wearied out, so that he left Sardis in disgust without an interview. So intolerable to his feelings was the humiliation of thus begging at the palace gates, that he bitterly deplored those miserable dissensions among the Greeks which constrained both parties to truckle to the foreigner for money; swearing that, if he survived the year’s campaign, he would use[p. 163] every possible effort to bring about an accommodation between Athens and Sparta.[242]

In the mean time, he put forth all his energy to obtain money in some other way, and thus get the fleet to sea; knowing well, that the way to overcome the reluctance of Cyrus was, to show that he could do without him. Sailing first from Ephesus to Milêtus, he despatched from thence a small squadron to Sparta, disclosing his unexpected poverty, and asking for speedy pecuniary aid. In the mean time he convoked an assembly of the Milesians, communicated to them the mission just sent to Sparta, and asked from them a temporary supply until this money should arrive. He reminded them that the necessity of this demand sprang altogether from the manœuvre of Lysander, in paying back the funds in his hands; that he had already in vain applied to Cyrus for farther money, meeting only with such insulting neglect as could no longer be endured: that they, the Milesians, dwelling amidst the Persians, and having already experienced the maximum of ill-usage at their hands, ought now to be foremost in the war, and to set an example of zeal to the other allies,[243] in order to get clear the sooner from dependence upon such imperious taskmasters. He promised that, when the remittance from Sparta and the hour of success should arrive, he would richly requite their forwardness. “Let us, with the aid of the gods, show these foreigners (he concluded) that we can punish our enemies without worshipping them.”

The spectacle of this generous patriot, struggling against a degrading dependence on the foreigner, which was now becoming unhappily familiar to the leading Greeks of both sides, excites our warm sympathy and admiration. We may add, that his language to the Milesians, reminding them of the misery which they had endured from the Persians as a motive to exertion in the war, is full of instruction as to the new situation opened for the Asiatic Greeks since the breaking-up of the Athenian power. No such evils had they suffered while Athens was com[p. 164]petent to protect them, and while they were willing to receive protection from her, during the interval of more than fifty years between the complete organization of the confederacy of Delos and the disaster of Nikias before Syracuse.

The single-hearted energy of Kallikratidas imposed upon all who heard him, and even inspired so much alarm to those leading Milesians who were playing underhand the game of Lysander, that they were the first to propose a large grant of money towards the war, and to offer considerable sums from their own purses; an example probably soon followed by other allied cities. Some of the friends of Lysander tried to couple their offers with conditions; demanding a warrant for the destruction of their political enemies, and hoping thus to compromise the new admiral. But he strenuously refused all such guilty compliances.[244] He was soon able to collect at Milêtus fifty fresh triremes in addition to those left by Lysander, making a fleet of one hundred and forty sail in all. The Chians having furnished him with an outfit of five drachmas for each seaman, equal to ten days’ pay at the usual rate, he sailed with the whole fleet northward towards Lesbos. Of this numerous fleet, the greatest which had yet been assembled throughout the war, only ten triremes were Lacedæmonian;[245] while a considerable proportion, and among the best equipped, were Bœotian and Eubœan.[246] In his voyage towards Lesbos, Kallikratidas seems to have made himself master of Phokæa and Kymê,[247] perhaps with the greater facility in consequence of the recent ill-treatment of the Kymæans by Alkibiadês. He then sailed to attack Methymna, on the northern coast of Lesbos; a town not only strongly attached to the Athenians, but also defended by an Athenian garrison. Though at first repulsed, he renewed his attacks until at length he took the town by storm. The property in it was all plundered by the soldiers, and the slaves collected and sold for their benefit. It was farther demanded by the allies, and expected pursuant to ordinary cus[p. 165]tom, that the Methymnæan and Athenian prisoners should be sold also. But Kallikratidas peremptorily refused compliance, and set them all free the next day; declaring that, so long as he was in command, not a single free Greek should be reduced to slavery if he could prevent it.[248]

No one, who has not familiarized himself with the details of Grecian warfare, can feel the full grandeur and sublimity of this proceeding, which stands, so far as I know, unparalleled in Grecian history. It is not merely that the prisoners were spared and set free; as to this point, analogous cases may be found, though not very frequent. It is, that this particular act of generosity was performed in the name and for the recommendation of Pan-Hellenic brotherhood and Pan-Hellenic independence of the foreigner: a comprehensive principle, announced by Kallikratidas on previous occasions as well as on this, but now carried into practice under emphatic circumstances, and coupled with an explicit declaration of his resolution to abide by it in all future cases. It is, lastly, that the step was taken in resistance to formal requisition on the part of his allies, whom he had very imperfect means either of paying or controlling, and whom therefore it was so much the more hazardous for him to offend. There cannot be any doubt that these allies felt personally wronged and indignant at the loss, as well as confounded with the proposition of a rule of duty so new, as respected the relations of belligerents in Greece; against which too, let us add, their murmurs would not be without some foundation: “If we should come to be Konon’s prisoners, he will not treat us in this manner.” Reciprocity of dealing is absolutely essential to constant moral observance, either public or private; and doubtless Kallikratidas felt a well-grounded confidence, that two or three conspicuous examples would sensibly modify the future practice on both sides. But some one must begin by setting such examples, and the man who does begin[p. 166]—having a position which gives reasonable chance that others will follow—is the hero. An admiral like Lysander would not only sympathize heartily with the complaints of the allies, but also condemn the proceeding as a dereliction of duty to Sparta; even men better than Lysander would at first look coldly on it as a sort of Quixotism, in doubt whether the example would be copied: while the Spartan ephors, though probably tolerating it because they interfered very sparingly with their admirals afloat, would certainly have little sympathy with the feelings in which it originated. So much the rather is Kallikratidas to be admired, as bringing out with him not only a Pan-Hellenic patriotism,[249] rare either at Athens or Sparta, but also a force of individual character and conscience yet rarer, enabling him to brave unpopularity and break through routine, in the attempt to make that patriotism fruitful and operative in practice. In his career, so sadly and prematurely closed, there was at least this circumstance to be envied; that the capture of Methymna afforded him the opportunity, which he greedily seized, as if he had known that it would be the last, of putting in act and evidence the full aspirations of his magnanimous soul.

Kallikratidas sent word by the released prisoners to Konon, that he would presently put an end to his adulterous intercourse with the sea;[250] which he now considered as his wife, and lawfully appertaining to him, having one hundred and forty triremes against the seventy triremes of Konon. That admiral, in spite of his inferior numbers, had advanced near to Methymna, to try and relieve it; but finding the place already captured, had retired to the islands called Hekatonnêsoi, off the continent bearing northeast from Lesbos. Thither he was followed by Kallikratidas, who, leaving Methymna at night, found him quitting his moorings at break of day, and immediately made all sail to try and cut him off from the southerly course towards Samos. But Konon,[p. 167] having diminished the number of his triremes from one hundred to seventy, had been able to preserve all the best rowers, so that in speed he outran Kallikratidas and entered first the harbor of Mitylênê. His pursuers, however, were close behind, and even got into the harbor along with him, before it could be closed and put in a state of defence. Constrained to fight a battle at its entrance, he was completely defeated; thirty of his ships were taken, though the crews escaped to land; and he preserved the remaining forty only by hauling them ashore under the wall.[251]

The town of Mitylênê, originally founded on a small islet off Lesbos, had afterwards extended across a narrow strait to Lesbos itself. By this strait, whether bridged over or not we are not informed, the town was divided into two portions, and had two harbors, one opening northward towards the Hellespont, the other southward towards the promontory of Kanê on the mainland.[252] Both these harbors were undefended, and both now fell into the occupation of the Peloponnesian fleet; at least all the outer portion of each, near to the exit of the harbor, which Kallikrati[p. 168]das kept under strict watch. He at the same time sent for the full forces of Methymna and for hoplites across from Chios, so as to block up Mitylênê by land as well as by sea. As soon as his success was announced, too, money for the fleet, together with separate presents for himself, which he declined receiving,[253] was immediately sent to him by Cyrus; so that his future operations became easy.

No preparations had been made at Mitylênê for a siege: no stock of provisions had been accumulated, and the crowd within the walls was so considerable, that Konon foresaw but too plainly the speedy exhaustion of his means. Nor could he expect succor from Athens, unless he could send intelligence thither of his condition; of which, as he had not been able to do so, the Athenians remained altogether ignorant. All his ingenuity was required to get a trireme safe out of the harbor, in the face of the enemy’s guard. Putting afloat two triremes, the best sailers in his fleet, and picking out the best rowers for them out of all the rest, he caused these rowers to go aboard before daylight, concealing the epibatæ, or maritime soldiers, in the interior of the vessel, instead of the deck, which was their usual place, with a moderate stock of provisions, and keeping the vessel still covered with hides or sails, as was customary with vessels hauled ashore, to protect them against the sun.[254] These two triremes were thus[p. 169] made ready to depart at a moment’s notice, without giving any indication to the enemy that they were so. They were fully manned before daybreak, the crews remained in their position all day, and after dark were taken out to repose. This went on for four days successively, no favorable opportunity having occurred to give the signal for attempting a start. At length, on the fifth day, about noon, when many of the Peloponnesian crews were ashore for their morning meal, and others were reposing, the moment seemed favorable, the signal was given, and both the triremes started at the same moment with their utmost speed; one to go out at the southern entrance towards the sea, between Lesbos and Chios, the other to depart by the northern entrance towards the Hellespont. Instantly, the alarm was given among the Peloponnesian fleet: the cables were cut, the men hastened aboard, and many triremes were put in motion to overtake the two runaways. That which departed southward, in spite of the most strenuous efforts, was caught towards evening and brought back with all her crew prisoners: that which went towards the Hellespont escaped, rounded the northern coast of Lesbos, and got safe with the news to Athens; sending intelligence also, seemingly, in her way, to the Athenian admiral Diomedon at Samos.

The latter immediately made all haste to the aid of Konon, with the small force which he had with him, no more than twelve triremes. The two harbors being both guarded by a superior force, he tried to get access to Mitylênê through the Euripus, a strait which opens on the southern coast of the island into an interior lake, or bay, approaching near to the town. But here he was attacked suddenly by Kallikratidas, and his squadron all captured except two triremes, his own and another; he himself had great difficulty in escaping.[255]

[p. 170]

Athens was all in consternation at the news of the defeat of Konon and the blockade of Mitylênê. The whole strength and energy of the city was put forth to relieve him, by an effort greater than any which had been made throughout the whole war. We read with surprise that within the short space of thirty days, a fleet of no less than one hundred and ten triremes was fitted out and sent from Peiræus. Every man of age and strength to serve, without distinction, was taken to form a good crew; not only freemen, but slaves, to whom manumission was promised as reward: many also of the horsemen, or knights,[256] and citizens of highest rank, went aboard as epibatæ, hanging up their bridles like Kimon before the battle of Salamis. The levy was in fact as democratical and as equalizing as it had been on that memorable occasion. The fleet proceeded straight to Samos, whither orders had doubtless been sent to get together all the triremes which the allies could furnish as reinforcements, as well as all the scattered Athenian. By this means, forty additional triremes, ten of them Samian, were assembled, and the whole fleet, one hundred and fifty sail, went from Samos to the little islands called Arginusæ, close on the mainland, opposite to Malea, the southeastern cape of Lesbos.

Kallikratidas, apprized of the approach of the new fleet while it was yet at Samos, withdrew the greater portion of his force from Mitylênê, leaving fifty triremes under Eteonikus to continue the blockade. Less than fifty probably would not have been sufficient, inasmuch as two harbors were to be watched; but he was thus reduced to meet the Athenian fleet with inferior numbers, one hundred and twenty triremes against one hundred and fifty. His fleet was off Cape Malea, where the crews took their suppers, on the same evening as the Athenians supped at the opposite islands of Arginusæ. It was his project to sail across the intermediate channel in the night, and attack them in the morning before they were prepared; but violent wind and rain forced him to defer all movement till daylight. On the ensuing morning, both parties prepared for the greatest naval encounter which had taken place throughout the whole war. Kallikratidas was advised by his pilot, the Megarian Hermon, to retire for the present without fighting, inasmuch as the Athenian[p. 171] fleet had the advantage of thirty triremes over him in number. He replied that flight was disgraceful, and that Sparta would be no worse off, even if he should perish.[257] The answer was one congenial to his chivalrous nature; and we may well conceive, that, having for the last two or three months been lord and master of the sea, he recollected his own haughty message to Konon, and thought it dishonor to incur or deserve, by retiring, the like taunt upon himself. We may remark too that the disparity of numbers, though serious, was by no means such as to render the contest hopeless, or to serve as a legitimate ground for retreat, to one who prided himself on a full measure of Spartan courage.

The Athenian fleet was so marshalled, that its great strength was placed in the two wings; in each of which there were sixty Athenian ships, divided into four equal divisions, each division commanded by a general. Of the four squadrons of fifteen ships each, two were placed in front, two to support them in the rear. Aristokratês and Diomedon commanded the two front squadrons of the left division, Periklês and Erasinidês the two squadrons in the rear: on the right division, Protomachus and Thrasyllus commanded the two in front, Lysias and Aristogenês the two in the rear. The centre, wherein were the Samians and other allies, was left weak, and all in single line: it appears to have been exactly in front of one of the isles of Arginusæ, while the two other divisions were to the right and left of that isle. We read with some surprise that the whole Lacedæmonian fleet was arranged by single ships, because it sailed better and manœuvred better than the Athenians; who formed their right and left divisions in deep order, for the express purpose of hindering the enemy from performing the nautical manœuvres of the diekplus and the periplus.[258] It would seem that the Athenian centre, hav[p. 172]ing the land immediately in its rear, was supposed to be better protected against an enemy “sailing through the line out to the rear, and sailing round about,” than the other divisions, which were in the open waters; for which reason it was left weak, with the ships in single line. But the fact which strikes us the most is, that, if we turn back to the beginning of the war, we shall find that this diekplus and periplus were the special manœuvres of the Athenian navy, and continued to be so even down to the siege of Syracuse; the Lacedæmonians being at first absolutely unable to perform them at all, and continuing for a long time to perform them far less skilfully than the Athenians. Now, the comparative value of both parties is reversed: the superiority of nautical skill has passed to the Peloponnesians and their allies: the precautions whereby that superiority is neutralized or evaded, are forced as a necessity on the Athenians. How astonished would the Athenian admiral Phormion have been, if he could have witnessed the fleets and the order of battle at Arginusæ!

Kallikratidas himself, with the ten Lacedæmonian ships, was on the right of his fleet: on the left were the Bœotians and Eubœans, under the Bœotian admiral Thrasondas. The battle was long and obstinately contested, first by the two fleets in their original order; afterwards, when all order was broken, by scattered ships mingled together and contending in individual combat. At length the brave Kallikratidas perished. His ship was in the act of driving against the ship of an enemy, and he himself probably, like Brasidas[259] at Pylos, had planted himself on the forecastle, to be the first in boarding the enemy, or in preventing the enemy from boarding him, when the shock arising from impact threw him off his footing, so that he fell overboard and was drowned.[260] In spite of the discouragement springing from his death, the ten Lacedæmonian triremes displayed a courage worthy of his, and nine of them were destroyed or disa[p. 173]bled. At length the Athenians were victorious in all parts: the Peloponnesian fleet gave way, and their flight became general, partly to Chios, partly to Phokæa. More than sixty of their ships were destroyed over and above the nine Lacedæmonian, seventy-seven in all; making a total loss of above the half of the entire fleet. The loss of the Athenians was also severe, amounting to twenty-five triremes. They returned to Arginusæ after the battle.[261]

The victory of Arginusæ afforded the most striking proof how much the democratical energy of Athens could yet accomplish, in spite of so many years of exhausting war. But far better would it have been, if her energy on this occasion had been less efficacious and successful. The defeat of the Peloponnesian fleet, and the death of their admirable leader,—we must take the second as inseparable from the first, since Kallikratidas was not the man to survive a defeat,—were signal misfortunes to the whole Grecian world; and in an especial manner, misfortunes to Athens herself. If Kallikratidas had gained the victory and survived it, he would certainly have been the man to close the Peloponnesian war; for Mitylênê must immediately have surrendered, and Konon, with all the Athenian fleet there blocked up, must have become his prisoners; which circumstance, coming at the back of a defeat, would have rendered Athens disposed to acquiesce in any tolerable terms of peace. Now to have the terms dictated at a moment when her power was not wholly prostrate, by a man like Kallikratidas, free from corrupt personal ambition and of a generous Pan-Hellenic patriotism, would have been the best fate which at this moment could befall her; while to the Grecian world generally, it would have been an unspeakable benefit, that, in the reorganization which it was sure to undergo at the close of the war, the ascendant individual of the moment should be penetrated with devotion to the great ideas of Hellenic brotherhood at home, and Hellenic independence against the foreigner. The near prospect of such a benefit was opened by that rare chance which threw Kallikratidas into the command, enabled him not only to publish his lofty profession of faith but to show that he was prepared to act upon it, and for a time float[p. 174]ed him on towards complete success. Nor were the envious gods ever more envious, than when they frustrated, by the disaster of Arginusæ, the consummation which they had thus seemed to promise. The pertinence of these remarks will be better understood in the next chapter, when I come to recount the actual winding-up of the Peloponnesian war under the auspices of the worthless, but able, Lysander. It was into his hands that the command was retransferred, a transfer almost from the best of Greeks to the worst. We shall then see how much the sufferings of the Grecian world, and of Athens especially, were aggravated by his individual temper and tendencies, and we shall then feel by contrast, how much would have been gained if the commander armed with such great power of dictation had been a Pan-Hellenic patriot. To have the sentiment of that patriotism enforced, at a moment of break-up and rearrangement throughout Greece, by the victorious leader of the day, with single-hearted honesty and resolution, would have been a stimulus to all the better feelings of the Grecian mind, such as no other combination of circumstances could have furnished. The defeat and death of Kallikratidas was thus even more deplorable as a loss to Athens and Greece, than to Sparta herself. To his lofty character and patriotism, even in so short a career, we vainly seek a parallel.

The news of the defeat was speedily conveyed to Eteonikus at Mitylênê by the admiral’s signal-boat. As soon as he heard it, he desired the crew of the signal-boat to say nothing to any one, but to go again out of the harbor, and then return with wreaths and shouts of triumph, crying out that Kallikratidas had gained the victory and had destroyed or captured all the Athenian ships. All suspicion of the reality was thus kept from Konon and the besieged, while Eteonikus himself, affecting to believe the news, offered the sacrifice of thanksgiving; but gave orders to all the triremes to take their meal and depart afterwards without losing a moment, directing the masters of the trading-ships also to put their property silently aboard, and get off at the same time. And thus, with little or no delay, and without the least obstruction from Konon, all these ships, triremes and merchantmen, sailed out of the harbor and were carried off in safety to Chios, the wind being fair. Eteonikus at the same time withdrew his land-forces[p. 175] to Methymna, burning his camp. Konon, thus finding himself unexpectedly at liberty, put to sea with his ships when the wind had become calmer, and joined the main Athenian fleet, which he found already on its way from Arginusæ to Mitylênê. The latter presently came to Mitylênê, and from thence passed over to make an attack on Chios; which attack proving unsuccessful, they went forward to their ordinary station at Samos.[262]

The news of the victory at Arginusæ diffused joy and triumph at Athens. All the slaves who had served in the armament were manumitted and promoted, according to promise, to the rights of Platæans at Athens, a qualified species of citizenship. Yet the joy was poisoned by another incident, which became known at the same time, raising sentiments of a totally opposite character, and ending in one of the most gloomy and disgraceful proceedings in all Athenian history.

Not only the bodies of the slain warriors floating about on the water had not been picked up for burial, but the wrecks had not been visited to preserve those who were yet living. The first of these two points, even alone, would have sufficed to excite a painful sentiment of wounded piety at Athens. But the second point, here an essential part of the same omission, inflamed that sentiment into shame, grief, and indignation of the sharpest character.

In the descriptions of this event, Diodorus and many other writers take notice of the first point, either exclusively,[263] or at[p. 176] least with slight reference to the second; which latter, nevertheless, stands as far the gravest in the estimate of every impartial critic, and was also the most violent in its effect upon Athenian feelings. Twenty-five Athenian triremes had been ruined, along with most of their crews; that is, lay heeled over or disabled, with their oars destroyed, no masts, nor any means of moving; mere hulls, partially broken by the impact of an enemy’s ship, and gradually filling and sinking. The original crew of each was two hundred men. The field of battle, if we may use that word for a space of sea, was strewed with these wrecks; the men remaining on board being helpless and unable to get away, for the ancient trireme carried no boat, nor any aids for escape. And there were, moreover, floating about, men who had fallen overboard, or were trying to save their lives by means of acci[p. 177]dental spars or empty casks. It was one of the privileges of a naval victory, that the party who gained it could sail over the field of battle, and thus assist their own helpless or wounded comrades aboard the disabled ships,[264] taking captive, or sometimes killing, the corresponding persons belonging to the enemy. According even to the speech made in the Athenian public assembly afterwards, by Euryptolemus, the defender of the accused generals, there were twelve triremes with their crews on board lying in the condition just described. This is an admission by the defence, and therefore the minimum of the reality: there cannot possibly have been fewer, but there were probably several more, out of the whole twenty-five stated by Xenophon.[265] No step being taken to preserve them, the surviving portion, wounded as well[p. 178] as unwounded, of these crews, were left to be gradually drowned as each disabled ship went down. If any of them escaped, it was by unusual goodness of swimming, by finding some fortunate plank or spar, at any rate by the disgrace of throwing away their arms, and by some method such as no wounded man would be competent to employ.

The first letter from the generals which communicated the victory, made known at the same time the loss sustained in obtaining it. It announced, doubtless, the fact which we read in Xenophon, that twenty-five Athenian triremes had been lost, with nearly all their crews; specifying, we may be sure, the name of each trireme which had so perished; for each trireme in the Athenian navy, like modern ships, had its own name.[266] It mentioned, at the same time, that no step whatever had been taken by the victorious survivors to save their wounded and drowning countrymen on board the sinking ships. A storm had arisen, such was the reason assigned, so violent as to render all such intervention totally impracticable.[267]

It is so much the custom, in dealing with Grecian history, to presume the Athenian people to be a set of children or madmen, whose feelings it is not worth while to try and account for, that I have been obliged to state these circumstances somewhat at length, in order to show that the mixed sentiment excited at Athens by the news of the battle of Arginusæ was perfectly natural and justifiable. Along with joy for the victory, there was blended horror and remorse at the fact that so many of the brave men who had helped to gain it had been left to perish unheeded. The friends and relatives of the crews of these lost triremes were[p. 179] of course foremost in the expression of such indignant emotion. The narrative of Xenophon, meagre and confused as well as unfair, presents this emotion as if it were something causeless, factitious, pumped up out of the standing irascibility of the multitude by the artifices of Theramenês, Kallixenus, and a few others. But whatever may have been done by these individuals to aggravate the public excitement, or pervert it to bad purposes, assuredly the excitement itself was spontaneous, inevitable, and amply justified. The very thought that so many of the brave partners in the victory had been left to drown miserably on the sinking hulls, without any effort on the part of their generals and comrades near to rescue them, was enough to stir up all the sensibilities, public as well as private, of the most passive nature, even in citizens who were not related to the deceased, much more in those who were so. To expect that the Athenians would be so absorbed in the delight of the victory, and in gratitude to the generals who had commanded, as to overlook such a desertion of perishing warriors, and such an omission of sympathetic duty, is, in my judgment, altogether preposterous; and would, if it were true, only establish one more vice in the Athenian people, besides those which they really had, and the many more with which they have been unjustly branded.

The generals, in their public letter, accounted for their omission by saying that the violence of the storm was too great to allow them to move. First, was this true as matter of fact? Next, had there been time to discharge the duty, or at the least to try and discharge it, before the storm came on to be so intolerable? These points required examination. The generals, while honored with a vote of thanks for the victory, were superseded, and directed to come home; all except Konon, who having been blocked up at Mitylênê, was not concerned in the question. Two new colleagues, Philoklês and Adeimantus, were named to go out and join him.[268] The generals probably received the notice of their re[p. 180]call at Samos, and came home in consequence; reaching Athens seemingly about the end of September or beginning of October, the battle of Arginusæ having been fought in August 406 B.C. Two of the generals, however, Protomachus and Aristogenês, declined to come: warned of the displeasure of the people, and not confiding in their own case to meet it, they preferred to pay the price of voluntary exile. The other six, Periklês, Lysias, Diomedon, Erasinidês, Aristokratês, and Thrasyllus,—Archestratus, one of the original ten, having died at Mitylênê,[269]—came without their two colleagues; an unpleasant augury for the result.

On their first arrival, Archedêmus, at that time an acceptable popular orator, and exercising some magistracy or high office which we cannot distinctly make out,[270] imposed upon Erasinidês a fine to that limited amount which was within the competence of magistrates without the sanction of the dikastery, and accused him besides before the dikastery; partly for general misconduct in his command, partly on the specific charge of having purloined some public money on its way from the Hellespont. Erasinidês was found guilty, and condemned to be imprisoned, either until the money was made good, or perhaps until farther examination could take place into the other alleged misdeeds.

This trial of Erasinidês took place before the generals were[p. 181] summoned before the senate to give their formal exposition respecting the recent battle, and the subsequent neglect of the drowning men. And it might almost seem as if Archedêmus wished to impute to Erasinidês exclusively, apart from the other generals, the blame of that neglect; a distinction, as will hereafter appear, not wholly unfounded. If, however, any such design was entertained, it did not succeed. When the generals went to explain their case before the senate, the decision of that body was decidedly unfavorable to all of them, though we have no particulars of the debate which passed. On the proposition of the senator Timokratês,[271] a resolution was passed that the other five generals present should be placed in custody, as well as Erasinidês, and thus handed over to the public assembly for consideration of the case.[272]

The public assembly was accordingly held, and the generals were brought before it. We are here told who it was that appeared as their principal accuser, along with several others; though unfortunately we are left to guess what were the topics on which they insisted. Theramenês was the man who denounced them most vehemently, as guilty of leaving the crews of the disabled triremes to be drowned, and of neglecting all efforts to rescue them. He appealed to their own public letter to the people, officially communicating the victory; in which letter they made no mention of having appointed any one to undertake the duty, nor of having any one to blame for not performing it. The omission, therefore, was wholly their own: they might have performed it, and ought to be punished for so cruel a breach of duty.

The generals could not have a more formidable enemy than Theramenês. We have had occasion to follow him, during the revolution of the Four Hundred, as a long-sighted as well as tortuous politician: he had since been in high military command, a partaker in victory with Alkibiadês at Kyzikus and elsewhere; and he had served as trierarch in the victory of Arginusæ itself. His authority therefore was naturally high, and told for much,[p. 182] when he denied the justification which the generals had set up founded on the severity of the storm. According to him, they might have picked up the drowning men, and ought to have done so: either they might have done so before the storm came on, or there never was any storm of sufficient gravity to prevent them: upon their heads lay the responsibility of omission.[273] Xenophon, in his very meagre narrative, does not tell us, in express words, that Theramenês contradicted the generals as to the storm. But that he did so contradict them, point blank, is implied distinctly in that which Xenophon alleges him to have said. It seems also that Thrasybulus—another trierarch at Arginusæ, and a man not only of equal consequence, but of far more estimable character—concurred with Theramenês in this same accusation of the generals,[274] though not standing forward so prominently in the case. He too therefore must have denied the reality of the storm; or at least, the fact of its being so instant after the battle, or so terrible as to forbid all effort for the relief of these drowning seamen.

The case of the generals, as it stood before the Athenian public, was completely altered when men like Theramenês and Thrasybulus stood forward as their accusers. Doubtless what was said by these two had been said by others before, in the senate and elsewhere; but it was now publicly advanced by men of influence, as well as perfectly cognizant of the fact. And we are thus enabled to gather indirectly, what the narrative of Xenophon, studiously keeping back the case against the generals,[p. 183] does not directly bring forward, that though the generals affirmed the storm, there were others present who denied it, thus putting in controversy the matter of fact which formed their solitary justification. Moreover, we come—in following the answer made by the generals in the public assembly to Theramenês and Thrasybulus—to a new point in the case, which Xenophon lets out as it were indirectly, in that confused manner which pervades his whole narrative of the transaction. It is, however, a new point of extreme moment. The generals replied that if any one was to blame for not having picked up the drowning men, it was Theramenês and Thrasybulus themselves; for it was they two to whom, together with various other trierarchs and with forty-eight triremes, the generals had expressly confided the performance of this duty; it was they two who were responsible for its omission, not the generals. Nevertheless they, the generals, made no charge against Theramenês and Thrasybulus, well knowing that the storm had rendered the performance of the duty absolutely impossible, and that it was therefore a complete justification for one as well as for the other. They, the generals, at least could do no more than direct competent men like these two trierarchs to perform the task, and assign to them an adequate squadron for the purpose; while they themselves with the main fleet went to attack Eteonikus, and relieve Mitylênê. Diomedon, one of their number, had wished after the battle to employ all the ships in the fleet for the preservation of the drowning men, without thinking of anything else until that was done. Erasinidês, on the contrary, wished that all the fleet should move across at once against Mitylênê; Thrasyllus said that they had ships enough to do both at once. Accordingly, it was agreed that each general should set apart three ships from his division, to make a squadron of forty-eight ships under Thrasybulus and Theramenês. In making these statements, the generals produced pilots and others, men actually in the battle as witnesses in general confirmation.

Here, then, in this debate before the assembly, were two new and important points publicly raised. First, Theramenês and Thrasybulus denounced the generals as guilty of the death of these neglected men; next, the generals affirmed that they had delegated the duty to Theramenês and Thrasybulus themselves.[p. 184] If this latter were really true, how came the generals, in their official despatch first sent home, to say nothing about it? Euryptolemus, an advocate of the generals, speaking in a subsequent stage of the proceedings, though we can hardly doubt that the same topics were also urged in this very assembly, while blaming the generals for such omission, ascribed it to an ill-placed good-nature on their part, and reluctance to bring Theramenês and Thrasybulus under the displeasure of the people. Most of the generals, he said, were disposed to mention the fact in their official despatch, but were dissuaded from doing so by Periklês and Diomedon; an unhappy dissuasion, in his judgment, which Theramenês and Thrasybulus had ungratefully requited by turning round and accusing them all.[275]

This remarkable statement of Euryptolemus, as to the intention of the generals in wording the official despatch, brings us to a closer consideration of what really passed between them on the one side, and Theramenês and Thrasybulus on the other; which is difficult to make out clearly, but which Diodorus represents in a manner completely different from Xenophon. Diodorus states that the generals were prevented partly by the storm, partly by the fatigue and reluctance and alarm of their own seamen, from taking any steps to pick up, what he calls, the dead bodies for burial; that they suspected Theramenês and Thrasybulus, who went to Athens before them, of intending to accuse them before the people, and that for this reason they sent home intimation to the people that they had given special orders to these two trierarchs to perform the duty. When these letters were read in the public assembly, Diodorus says, the Athenians[p. 185] were excessively indignant against Theramenês; who, however, defended himself effectively and completely, throwing the blame back upon the generals. He was thus forced, against his own will, and in self-defence, to become the accuser of the generals, carrying with him his numerous friends and partisans at Athens. And thus the generals, by trying to ruin Theramenês, finally brought condemnation upon themselves.[276]

Such is the narrative of Diodorus, in which it is implied that the generals never really gave any special orders to Theramenês and Thrasybulus, but falsely asserted afterwards that they had done so, in order to discredit the accusation of Theramenês against themselves. To a certain extent, this coincides with what was asserted by Theramenês himself, two years afterwards, in his defence before the Thirty, that he was not the first to accuse the generals; they were the first to accuse him; affirming that they had ordered him to undertake the duty, and that there was no sufficient reason to hinder him from performing it; they were the persons who distinctly pronounced the performance of the duty to be possible, while he had said, from the beginning, that the violence of the storm was such as even to forbid any movement in the water; much more, to prevent rescue of the drowning men.[277]

Taking the accounts of Xenophon and Diodorus together, in combination with the subsequent accusation and defence of Theramenês at the time of the Thirty, and blending them so as to reject as little as possible of either, I think it probable that the order for picking up the exposed men was really given by the generals to Theramenês, Thrasybulus, and other trierarchs; but[p. 186] that, first, a fatal interval was allowed to elapse between the close of the battle and the giving of such order; next, that the forty-eight triremes talked of for the service, and proposed to be furnished by drafts of three out of each general’s division, were probably never assembled; or, if they assembled, were so little zealous in the business as to satisfy themselves very easily that the storm was too dangerous to brave, and that it was now too late. For when we read the version of the transaction, even as given by Euryptolemus, we see plainly that none of the generals, except Diomedon, was eager in the performance of the task. It is a memorable fact, that of all the eight generals, not one of them undertook the business in person, although its purpose was to save more than a thousand drowning comrades from death.[278] In a proceeding where every interval even of five minutes was precious, they go to work in the most dilatory manner, by determining that each general shall furnish three ships, and no more, from his division. Now we know from the statement of Xenophon, that, towards the close of the battle, the ships on both sides were much dispersed.[279] Such collective direction therefore would not be quickly realized; nor, until all the eight fractions were united, together with the Samians and others, so as to make the force complete, would Theramenês feel bound to go out upon his preserving visitation. He doubtless disliked the service, as we see that most of the generals did; while the crews also, who had just got to land after having gained a victory, were thinking most about rest and refreshment, and mutual congratulations.[280] All[p. 187] were glad to find some excuse for staying in their moorings instead of going out again to buffet what was doubtless unfavorable weather. Partly from this want of zeal, coming in addition to the original delay, partly from the bad weather, the duty remained unexecuted, and the seamen on board the damaged ships were left to perish unassisted.

But presently arose the delicate, yet unavoidable question, “How are we to account for the omission of this sacred duty, in our official despatch to the Athenian people?” Here the generals differed among themselves, as Euryptolemus expressly states: Periklês and Diomedon carried it, against the judgment of their colleagues, that in the official despatch, which was necessarily such as could be agreed to by all, nothing should be said about the delegation to Theramenês and others; the whole omission being referred to the terrors of the storm. But though such was the tenor of the official report, there was nothing to hinder the generals from writing home and communicating individually with their friends in Athens as each might think fit; and in these unofficial communications, from them as well as from others who went home from the armament,—communications not less efficacious than the official despatch, in determining the tone of public feeling at Athens,—they did not disguise their convictions that the blame of not performing the duty belonged to Theramenês. Having thus a man like Theramenês to throw the blame upon, they did not take pains to keep up the story of the intolerable storm, but intimated that there had been nothing to hinder him from performing the duty if he had chosen. It is this which he accuses them of having advanced against him, so as to place him as the guilty man before the Athenian public: it was this which made him, in retaliation and self-defence, violent and unscrupulous in denouncing them as the persons really blamable.[281] As they[p. 188] had made light of this alleged storm, in casting the blame upon him, so he again made light of it, and treated it as an insufficient excuse, in his denunciations against them; taking care to make good use of their official despatch, which virtually exonerated him, by its silence, from any concern in the matter.

Such is the way in which I conceive the relations to have stood between the generals on one side and Theramenês on the other, having regard to all that is said both in Xenophon and in Diodorus. But the comparative account of blame and recrimination between these two parties is not the most important feature of the case. The really serious inquiry is, as to the intensity or instant occurrence of the storm. Was it really so instant and so dangerous, that the duty of visiting the wrecks could not be performed, either before the ships went back to Arginusæ, or afterwards? If we take the circumstances of the case, and apply them to the habits and feelings of the English navy, if we suppose more than one thousand seamen, late comrades in the victory, distributed among twenty damaged and helpless hulls, awaiting the moment when these hulls would fill and consign them all to a watery grave, it must have been a frightful storm indeed, which would force an English admiral even to go back to his moorings leaving these men so exposed, or which would deter him, if he were at his moorings, from sending out the very first and nearest ships at hand to save them. And granting the danger to be such that he hesitated to give the order, there[p. 189] would probably be found officers and men to volunteer, against the most desperate risks, in a cause so profoundly moving all their best sympathies. Now, unfortunately for the character of Athenian generals, officers, and men, at Arginusæ,—for the blame belongs, though in unequal proportions, to all of them,—there exists here strong presumptive proof that the storm on this occasion was not such as would have deterred any Grecian seamen animated by an earnest and courageous sense of duty. We have only to advert to the conduct and escape of Eteonikus and the Peloponnesian fleet from Mitylênê to Chios; recollecting that Mitylênê was separated from the promontory of Kanê on the Asiatic mainland, and from the isles of Arginusæ, by a channel only one hundred and twenty stadia broad,[282] about fourteen English miles. Eteonikus, apprized of the defeat by the Peloponnesian official signal-boat, desired that boat to go out of the harbor, and then to sail into it again with deceptive false news, to the effect that the Peloponnesians had gained a complete victory: he then directed his seamen, after taking their dinners, to depart immediately, and the masters of the merchant vessels silently to put their cargoes aboard, and get to sea also. The whole fleet, triremes and merchant vessels both, thus went out of the harbor of Mitylênê and made straight for Chios, whither they arrived in safety; the merchant vessels carrying their sails, and having what Xenophon calls “a fair wind.”[283] Now it is scarcely possi[p. 190]ble that all this could have taken place, had there blown during this time an intolerable storm between Mitylênê and Arginusæ. If the weather was such as to allow of the safe transit of Eteonikus and all his fleet from Mitylênê to Chios, it was not such as to form a legitimate obstacle capable of deterring any generous Athenian seaman, still less a responsible officer, from saving his comrades exposed on the wrecks near Arginusæ. Least of all was it such as ought to have hindered the attempt to save them, even if such attempt had proved unsuccessful. And here the gravity of the sin consists, in having remained inactive while the brave men on the wrecks were left to be drowned. All this reasoning, too, assumes the fleet to have been already brought back to its moorings at Arginusæ, discussing only how much was practicable to effect after that moment, and leaving untouched the no less important question, why the drowning men were not picked up before the fleet went back.

I have thought it right to go over these considerations, indispensable to the fair appreciation of this memorable event, in order that the reader may understand the feelings of the assembly and the public of Athens, when the generals stood before them, rebutting the accusations of Theramenês and recriminating in their turn against him. The assembly had before them the grave and deplorable fact, that several hundreds of brave seamen had been suffered to drown on the wrecks, without the least effort to rescue them. In explanation of this fact, they had not only no justification, at once undisputed and satisfactory, but not even any straightforward, consistent, and uncontradicted statement of facts. There were discrepancies among the generals themselves, comparing their official with their unofficial, as well as with their present statements, and contradictions between them and Theramenês, each having denied the sufficiency of the storm as a vindication for the neglect imputed to the other. It was[p. 191] impossible that the assembly could be satisfied to acquit the generals on such a presentation of the case; nor could they well know how to apportion the blame between them and Theramenês. The relatives of the men left to perish would be doubtless in a state of violent resentment against one or other of the two, perhaps against both. Under these circumstances, it could hardly have been the sufficiency of their defence,—it must have been rather the apparent generosity of their conduct towards Theramenês, in formally disavowing all charge of neglect against him, though he had advanced a violent charge against them,—which produced the result that we read in Xenophon. The defence of the generals was listened to with favor and seemed likely to prevail with the majority.[284] Many individuals present offered themselves as bail for the generals, in order that the latter might be liberated from custody: but the debate had been so much prolonged—we see from hence that there must have been a great deal of speaking—that it was now dark, so that no vote could be taken, because the show of hands was not distinguishable. It was therefore resolved to adjourn the whole decision until another assembly; but that in the mean time the senate should meet, should consider what would be the proper mode of trying and judging the generals, and should submit a proposition to that effect to the approaching assembly.

It so chanced that immediately after this first assembly, during the interval before the meeting of the senate or the holding of the second assembly, the three days of the solemn annual festival called Apaturia intervened; early days in the month of[p. 192] October. This was the characteristic festival of the Ionic race; handed down from a period anterior to the constitution of Kleisthenês, and to the ten new tribes each containing so many demes, and bringing together the citizens in their primitive unions of family, gens, phratry, etc., the aggregate of which had originally constituted the four Ionic tribes, now superannuated. At the Apaturia, the family ceremonies were gone through; marriages were enrolled, acts of adoption were promulgated and certified, the names of youthful citizens first entered on the gentile and phratric roll; sacrifices were jointly celebrated by these family assemblages to Zeus Phratrius, Athênê, and other deities, accompanied with much festivity and enjoyment. A solemnity like this, celebrated every year, naturally provoked in each of these little unions, questions of affectionate interest: “Who are those that were with us last year, but are not here now? The absent, where are they? The deceased, where or how did they die?” Now the crews of the twenty-five Athenian triremes, lost at the battle of Arginusæ, at least all those among them who were freemen, had been members of some one of these family unions, and were missed on this occasion. The answer to the above inquiry, in their case, would be one alike melancholy and revolting: “They fought like brave men, and had their full share in the victory: their trireme was broken, disabled, and made a wreck, in the battle: aboard this wreck they were left to perish, while their victorious generals and comrades made not the smallest effort to preserve them.” To hear this about fathers, brothers, and friends,—and to hear it in the midst of a sympathizing family circle,—was well calculated to stir up an agony of shame, sorrow, and anger, united; an intolerable sentiment, which required as a satisfaction, and seemed even to impose as a duty, the punishment of those who had left these brave comrades to perish. Many of the gentile unions, in spite of the usually festive and cheerful character of the Apaturia, were so absorbed by this sentiment, that they clothed themselves in black garments and shaved their heads in token of mourning, resolving to present themselves in this guise at the coming assembly, and to appease the manes of their abandoned kinsmen by every possible effort to procure retribution on the generals.[285]

[p. 193]

Xenophon in his narrative describes this burst of feeling at the Apaturia as false and factitious, and the men in mourning as a number of hired impostors, got up by the artifices of Theramenês,[286] to destroy the generals. But the case was one in which[p. 194] no artifice was needed. The universal and self-acting stimulants of intense human sympathy stand here so prominently marked, that it is not simply superfluous but even misleading, to look behind for the gold and machinations of a political instigator. Theramenês might do all that he could to turn the public displeasure against the generals, and to prevent it from turning against himself: it is also certain that he did much to annihilate their defence. He may thus have had some influence in directing the sentiment against them, but he could have had little or none in creating it. Nay, it is not too much to say that no factitious agency of this sort could ever have prevailed on the Athenian public to desecrate such a festival as the Apaturia, by all the insignia of mourning. If they did so, it could only have been through some internal emotion alike spontaneous and violent, such as the late event was well calculated to arouse.

Moreover, what can be more improbable than the allegation that a great number of men were hired to personate the fathers or brothers of deceased Athenian citizens, all well known to their really surviving kinsmen? What more improbable, than the story that numbers of men would suffer themselves to be hired, not merely to put on black clothes for the day, which might be taken off in the evening, but also to shave their heads, thus stamping upon themselves an ineffaceable evidence of the fraud, until the hair had grown again? That a cunning man, like Theramenês, should thus distribute his bribes to a number of persons, all presenting naked heads which testified his guilt, when there were real kinsmen surviving to prove the fact of personation? That having done this, he should never be arraigned or accused for it afterwards,—neither during the prodigious reaction of feeling which took place after the condemnation of the generals, which Xenophon himself so strongly attests, and which fell so heavily upon Kallixenus and others,—nor by his bitter enemy Kritias, under the government of the Thirty? Not only Theramenês is never mentioned as having been afterwards accused, but, for aught that appears, he preserved his political influence and standing, with little if any abatement. This is one forcible[p. 195] reason among many others, for disbelieving the bribes and the all-pervading machinations which Xenophon represents him as having put forth, in order to procure the condemnation of the generals. His speaking in the first public assembly, and his numerous partisans voting in the second, doubtless contributed much to that result, and by his own desire. But to ascribe to his bribes and intrigues the violent and overruling emotion of the Athenian public, is, in my judgment, a supposition alike unnatural and preposterous both with regard to them and with regard to him.

When the senate met, after the Apaturia, to discharge the duty confided to it by the last public assembly, of determining in what manner the generals should be judged, and submitting their opinion for the consideration of the next assembly, the senator Kallixenus—at the instigation of Theramenês, if Xenophon is to be believed—proposed, and the majority of the senate adopted, the following resolution: “The Athenian people having already heard, in the previous assembly, both the accusation and the defence of the generals, shall at once come to a vote on the subject by tribes. For each tribe two urns shall be placed, and the herald of each tribe shall proclaim: All citizens who think the generals guilty, for not having rescued the warriors who had conquered in the battle, shall drop their pebbles into the foremost urn; all who think otherwise, into the hindmost. Should the generals be pronounced guilty, by the result of the voting, they shall be delivered to the Eleven, and punished with death; their property shall be confiscated, the tenth part being set apart for the goddess Athênê.”[287] One single vote was to embrace the case of all the eight generals.[288]

The unparalleled burst of mournful and vindictive feeling at the festival of the Apaturia, extending by contagion from the relatives of the deceased to many other citizens,—and the probability thus created that the coming assembly would sanction the most violent measures against the generals,—probably emboldened Kallixenus to propose, and prompted the senate to adopt, this deplorable resolution. As soon as the assembly met, it was read and moved by Kallixenus himself, as coming from the senate in discharge of the commission imposed upon them by the people.

[p. 196]

It was heard by a large portion of the assembly with well-merited indignation. Its enormity consisted in breaking through the established constitutional maxims and judicial practices of the Athenian democracy. It deprived the accused generals of all fair trial; alleging, with a mere faint pretence of truth which was little better than utter falsehood, that their defence as well as their accusation had been heard in the preceding assembly. Now there has been no people, ancient or modern, in whose view the formalities of judicial trial were habitually more sacred and indispensable than in that of the Athenians; formalities including ample notice beforehand to the accused party, with a measured and sufficient space of time for him to make his defence before the dikasts; while those dikasts were men who had been sworn beforehand as a body, yet were selected by lot for each occasion as individuals. From all these securities the generals were now to be debarred; and submitted, for their lives, honors, and fortunes, to a simple vote of the unsworn public assembly, without hearing or defence. Nor was this all. One single vote was to be taken in condemnation or absolution of the eight generals collectively. Now there was a rule in Attic judicial procedure, called the psephism of Kannônus,—originally adopted, we do not know when, on the proposition of a citizen of that name, as a psephism or decree for some particular case, but since generalized into common practice, and grown into great prescriptive reverence,—which peremptorily forbade any such collective trial or sentence, and directed that a separate judicial vote should, in all cases, be taken for or against each accused party. The psephism of Kannônus, together with all the other respected maxims of Athenian criminal justice, was here audaciously trampled under foot.[289]

[p. 197]

As soon as the resolution was read in the public assembly, Euryptolemus, an intimate friend of the generals, denounced it as[p. 198] grossly illegal and unconstitutional, presenting a notice of indictment against Kallixenus, under the Graphê Paranomôn, for having proposed a resolution of that tenor. Several other citizens supported the notice of indictment, which, according to the received practice of Athens, would arrest the farther progress of the measure until the trial of its proposer had been consummated. Nor was there ever any proposition made at Athens, to which the Graphê Paranomôn more closely and righteously applied.

But the numerous partisans of Kallixenus—especially the men who stood by in habits of mourning, with shaven heads, agitated with sad recollections and thirst of vengeance—were in no temper to respect this constitutional impediment to the discussion of what had already been passed by the senate. They loudly clamored, that “it was intolerable to see a small knot of citizens thus hindering the assembled people from doing what they chose:” and one of their number, Lykiskus, even went so far as to threaten that those who tendered the indictment against Kallixenus should be judged by the same vote along with the generals, if they would not let the assembly proceed to consider and determine on the motion just read.[290] The excited disposition of the large party thus congregated, farther inflamed by this menace of Lykiskus, was wound up to its highest pitch by various other speakers; especially by one, who stood forward and said:[p. 199] “Athenians! I was myself a wrecked man in the battle; I escaped only by getting upon an empty meal-tub; but my comrades, perishing on the wrecks near me, implored me, if I should myself be saved, to make known to the Athenian people, that their generals had abandoned to death warriors who had bravely conquered in behalf of their country.” Even in the most tranquil state of the public mind, such a communication of the last words of these drowning men, reported by an ear-witness, would have been heard with emotion; but under the actual predisposing excitement, it went to the inmost depth of the hearers’ souls, and marked the generals as doomed men.[291] Doubtless there were[p. 200] other similar statements, not expressly mentioned to us, bringing to view the same fact in other ways, and all contributing to aggravate the violence of the public manifestations; which at length reached such a point, that Euryptolemus was forced to withdraw his notice of indictment against Kallixenus.

Now, however, a new form of resistance sprung up, still preventing the proposition from being taken into consideration by the assembly. Some of the prytanes,—or senators of the presiding tribe, on that occasion the tribe Antiochis,—the legal presidents of the assembly, refused to entertain or put the question; which, being illegal and unconstitutional, not only inspired them with aversion, but also rendered them personally open to penalties. Kallixenus employed against them the same menaces which Lykiskus had uttered against Euryptolemus: he threatened, amidst encouraging clamor from many persons in the assembly, to include them in the same accusation with the generals. So intimidated were the prytanes by the incensed manifestations of the assembly, that all of them, except one, relinquished their opposition, and agreed to put the question. The single obstinate prytanis, whose refusal no menace could subdue, was a man whose name we read with peculiar interest, and in whom an impregnable adherence to law and duty was only one among many other titles to reverence. It was the philosopher Sokratês; on this trying occasion, once throughout a life of seventy years, discharging a political office, among the fifty senators taken by lot from the tribe Antiochis. Sokratês could not be induced to withdraw his protest, so that the question was ultimately put by the remaining prytanes without his concurrence.[292] It should be observed that his resistance did not imply any opinion as to the guilt or innocence of the generals, but applied simply to the illegal and unconstitutional proposition now submitted for determining their fate;[p. 201] a proposition, which he must already have opposed once before, in his capacity of member of the senate.

The constitutional impediments having been thus violently overthrown, the question was regularly put by the prytanes to the assembly. At once the clamorous outcry ceased, and those who had raised it resumed their behavior of Athenian citizens, patient hearers of speeches and opinions directly opposed to their own. Nothing is more deserving of notice than this change of demeanor. The champions of the men drowned on the wrecks had resolved to employ as much force as was required to eliminate those preliminary constitutional objections, in themselves indisputable, which precluded the discussion. But so soon as the discussion was once begun, they were careful not to give to the resolution the appearance of being carried by force. Euryptolemus, the personal friend of the generals, was allowed not only to move an amendment negativing the proposition of Kallixenus, but also to develop it in a long speech, which Xenophon sets before us.[293]

His speech is one of great skill and judgment in reference to the case before him and to the temper of the assembly. Beginning with a gentle censure on his friends, the generals Periklês and Diomedon, for having prevailed on their colleagues to abstain from mentioning, in their first official letter, the orders given to Theramenês, he represented them as now in danger of becoming victims to the base conspiracy of the latter, and threw himself upon the justice of the people to grant them a fair trial. He besought the people to take full time to instruct themselves before they pronounced so solemn and irrevocable a sentence; to trust only to their own judgment, but at the same time to take security that judgment should be pronounced after full information and impartial hearing, and thus to escape that bitter and unavailing remorse which would otherwise surely follow. He proposed that the generals should be tried each separately, according to the psephism of Kannônus, with proper notice, and ample time allowed for the defence as well as for the accusation; but that, if found guilty, they should suffer the heaviest and most disgraceful penalties, his own relation Periklês the first. This[p. 202] was the only way of striking the guilty, of saving the innocent, and of preserving Athens from the ingratitude and impiety of condemning to death, without trial as well as contrary to law, generals who had just rendered to her so important a service. And what could the people be afraid of? Did they fear lest the power of trial should slip out of their hands, that they were so impatient to leap over all the delays prescribed by the law?[294] To the worst of public traitors, Aristarchus, they had granted a day with full notice for trial, with all the legal means for making his defence: and would they now show such flagrant contrariety of measure to victorious and faithful officers? “Be not ye (he said) the men to act thus, Athenians. The laws are your own work; it is through them that ye chiefly hold your greatness: cherish them, and attempt not any proceeding without their sanction.”[295]

Euryptolemus then shortly recapitulated the proceedings after the battle, with the violence of the storm which had prevented approach to the wrecks; adding that one of the generals, now in peril, had himself been on board a broken ship, and had only escaped by a fortunate accident.[296] Gaining courage from his own harangue, he concluded by reminding the Athenians of the brilliancy of the victory, and by telling them that they ought in justice to wreath the brows of the conquerors, instead of following those wicked advisers who pressed for their execution.[297]

It is no small proof of the force of established habits of public discussion, that the men in mourning and with shaven heads, who had been a few minutes before in a state of furious excitement, should patiently hear out a speech so effective and so conflicting with their strongest sentiments as this of Euryptolemus. Perhaps others may have spoken also; but Xenophon does not men[p. 203]tion them. It is remarkable that he does not name Theramenês as taking any part in this last debate.

The substantive amendment proposed by Euryptolemus was that the generals should be tried each separately, according to the psephism of Kannônus; implying notice to be given to each, of the day of trial, and full time for each to defend himself. This proposition, as well as that of the senate moved by Kallixenus, was submitted to the vote of the assembly; hands being separately held up, first for one, next for the other. The prytanes pronounced the amendment of Euryptolemus to be carried. But a citizen named Meneklês impeached their decision as wrong or invalid, alleging seemingly some informality or trick in putting the question, or perhaps erroneous report of the comparative show of hands. We must recollect that in this case the prytanes were declared partisans. Feeling that they were doing wrong in suffering so illegal a proposition as that of Kallixenus to be put at all, and that the adoption of it would be a great public mischief, they would hardly scruple to try and defeat it even by some unfair manœuvre. But the exception taken by Meneklês constrained them to put the question over again, and they were then obliged to pronounce that the majority was in favor of the proposition of Kallixenus.[298]

[p. 204]

That proposition was shortly afterwards carried into effect by disposing the two urns for each tribe, and collecting the votes of the citizens individually. The condemnatory vote prevailed, and all the eight generals were thus found guilty; whether by a large or a small majority we should have been glad to learn, but are not told. The majority was composed mostly of those who acted under a feeling of genuine resentment against the generals, but in part also of the friends and partisans of Theramenês,[299] not inconsiderable in number. The six generals then at Athens,—Periklês (son of the great statesman of that name by Aspasia), Diomedon, Erasinidês, Thrasyllus, Lysias, and Aristokratês,—were then delivered to the Eleven, and perished by the usual draught[p. 205] of hemlock; their property being confiscated, as the decree of the senate prescribed.

Respecting the condemnation of these unfortunate men, pronounced without any of the recognized tutelary preliminaries for accused persons, there can be only one opinion. It was an act of violent injustice and illegality, deeply dishonoring the men who passed it, and the Athenian character generally. In either case, whether the generals were guilty or innocent, this censure is deserved, for judicial precautions are not less essential in dealing with the guilty than with the innocent. But it is deserved in an aggravated form, when we consider that the men against whom such injustice was perpetrated, had just come from achieving a glorious victory. Against the democratical constitution of Athens, it furnishes no ground for censure, nor against the habits and feelings which that constitution tended to implant in the individual citizen. Both the one and the other strenuously forbade the deed; nor could the Athenians ever have so dishonored themselves, if they had not, under a momentary ferocious excitement, risen in insurrection not less against the forms of their own democracy, than against the most sacred restraints of their habitual constitutional morality.

If we wanted proof of this, the facts of the immediate future would abundantly supply it. After a short time had elapsed, every man in Athens became heartily ashamed of the deed.[300] A vote of the public assembly was passed,[301] decreeing that those who had misguided the people on this occasion ought to be brought to judicial trial, that Kallixenus with four others should be among the number, and that bail should be taken for their appearance. This was accordingly done, and the parties were kept under custody of the sureties themselves, who were responsible for their appearance on the day of trial. But presently both foreign misfortunes and internal sedition began to press too heavily on Athens to leave any room for other thoughts, as we shall[p. 206] see in the next chapter. Kallixenus and his accomplices found means to escape before the day of trial arrived, and remained in exile until after the dominion of the Thirty and the restoration of the democracy. Kallixenus then returned under the general amnesty. But the general amnesty protected him only against legal pursuit, not against the hostile memory of the people. “Detested by all, he died of hunger,” says Xenophon;[302] a memorable proof how much the condemnation of these six generals shocked the standing democratical sentiment at Athens.

From what cause did this temporary burst of wrong arise, so foreign to the habitual character of the people? Even under the strongest political provocation, and towards the most hated traitors,—as Euryptolemus himself remarked, by citing the case of Aristarchus,—after the Four Hundred as well as after the Thirty, the Athenians never committed the like wrong, never deprived an accused party of the customary judicial securities. How then came they to do it here, where the generals condemned were not only not traitors, but had just signalized themselves by a victorious combat? No Theramenês could have brought about this phenomenon; no deep-laid oligarchical plot is, in my judgment, to be called in as an explanation.[303] The true explanation is different, and of serious moment to state. Political hatred, intense as it might be, was never dissociated, in the mind of a citizen of Athens, from the democratical forms of procedure: but the men, who stood out here as actors, had broken loose from the obligations of citizenship and commonwealth, and surrendered themselves, heart and soul, to the family sympathies and antipathies; feelings first kindled, and justly kindled, by the thought that their friends and relatives had been left to perish unheeded on the wrecks; next, inflamed into preternatural and overwhelming violence by the festival of the Apaturia, where all the religious traditions connected with the ancient family tie, all those associations which imposed upon the relatives of a murdered man the duty of pursuing the murderer, were expanded into detail and worked up by their appropriate renovating solemnity. The[p. 207] garb of mourning and the shaving of the head—phenomena unknown at Athens, either in a political assembly or in a religious festival—were symbols of temporary transformation in the internal man. He could think of nothing but his drowning relatives, together with the generals as having abandoned them to death, and his own duty as survivor to insure to them vengeance and satisfaction for such abandonment. Under this self-justifying impulse, the shortest and surest proceeding appeared the best, whatever amount of political wrong it might entail:[304] nay, in this case it appeared the only proceeding really sure, since the interposition of the proper judicial delays, coupled with severance of trial on successive days, according to the psephism of Kannônus, would probably have saved the lives of five out of the six generals, if not of all the six. When we reflect that such absorbing sentiment was common, at one and the same time, to a large proportion of the Athenians, we shall see the explanation of that misguided vote, both of the senate and of the ekklesia, which sent the six generals to an illegal ballot, and of the subsequent ballot which condemned them. Such is the natural behavior of those who, having for the moment forgotten their sense of political commonwealth, become degraded into exclusive family men. The family affections, productive as they are of so large an amount of gentle sympathy and mutual happiness in the interior circle, are also liable to generate disregard, malice, sometimes even ferocious vengeance, towards others. Powerful towards good generally, they are not less powerful occasionally towards evil; and require, not less than the selfish propensities, constant subordinating control from that moral reason which contemplates for its end the security and happiness of all. And[p. 208] when a man, either from low civilization, has never known this large moral reason,—or when from some accidental stimulus, righteous in the origin, but wrought up into fanaticism by the conspiring force of religious as well as family sympathies, he comes to place his pride and virtue in discarding its supremacy,—there is scarcely any amount of evil or injustice which he may not be led to perpetrate, by a blind obedience to the narrow instincts of relationship. “Ces pères de famille sont capables de tout,” was the satirical remark of Talleyrand upon the gross public jobbing so largely practised by those who sought place or promotion for their sons. The same words understood in a far more awful sense, and generalized for other cases of relationship, sum up the moral of this melancholy proceeding at Athens.

Lastly, it must never be forgotten that the generals themselves were also largely responsible in the case. Through the unjustifiable fury of the movement against them, they perished like innocent men, without trial, “inauditi et indefensi, tamquam innocentes, perierunt;” but it does not follow that they were really innocent. I feel persuaded that neither with an English, nor French, nor American fleet, could such events have taken place as those which followed the victory of Arginusæ. Neither admiral nor seamen, after gaining a victory and driving off the enemy, could have endured the thoughts of going back to their anchorage, leaving their own disabled wrecks unmanageable on the waters, with many living comrades aboard, helpless, and depending upon extraneous succor for all their chance of escape. That the generals at Arginusæ did this, stands confessed by their own advocate Euryptolemus,[305] though they must have known well the condition of disabled ships after a naval combat, and some ships even of[p. 209] the victorious fleet were sure to be disabled. If these generals, after their victory, instead of sailing back to land, had employed themselves first of all in visiting the crippled ships, there would have been ample time to perform this duty, and to save all the living men aboard, before the storm came on. This is the natural inference, even upon their own showing; this is what any English, French, or American naval commander would have thought it an imperative duty to do. What degree of blame is imputable to Theramenês, and how far the generals were discharged by shifting the responsibility to him, is a point which we cannot now determine. But the storm, which is appealed to as a justification of both, rests upon evidence too questionable to serve that purpose, where the neglect of duty was so serious, and cost the lives probably of more than one thousand brave men. At least, the Athenian people at home, when they heard the criminations and recriminations between the generals on one side and Theramenês on the other,—each of them in his character of accuser implying that the storm was no valid obstacle, though each, if pushed for a defence, fell back upon it as a resource in case of need,—the Athenian people could not but look upon the storm more as an afterthought to excuse previous omissions, than as a terrible reality nullifying all the ardor and resolution of men bent on doing their duty. It was in this way that the intervention of Theramenês chiefly contributed to the destruction of the generals, not by those manœuvres ascribed to him in Xenophon: he destroyed all belief in the storm as a real and all-covering hindrance. The general impression of the public at Athens—in my opinion, a natural and unavoidable impression—was, that there had been most culpable negligence in regard to the wrecks, through which negligence alone the seamen on board perished. This negligence dishonors, more or less, the armament at Arginusæ as well as the generals: but the generals were the persons responsible to the public at home, who felt for the fate of the deserted seamen more justly as well as more generously than their comrades in the fleet.

In spite, therefore, of the guilty proceeding to which a furious exaggeration of this sentiment drove the Athenians,—in spite of the sympathy which this has naturally and justly procured for[p. 210] the condemned generals,—the verdict of impartial history will pronounce that the sentiment itself was well founded, and that the generals deserved censure and disgrace. The Athenian people might with justice proclaim to them: “Whatever be the grandeur of your victory, we can neither rejoice in it ourselves, nor allow you to reap honor from it, if we find that you have left many hundreds of those who helped in gaining it to be drowned on board the wrecks without making any effort to save them, when such effort might well have proved successful.”


The victory of Arginusæ gave for the time decisive mastery of the Asiatic seas to the Athenian fleet; and is even said to have so discouraged the Lacedæmonians, as to induce them to send propositions of peace to Athens. But this statement[306] is open to[p. 211] much doubt, and I think it most probable that no such propositions were made. Great as the victory was, we look in vain for any positive results accruing to Athens. After an unsuccessful attempt on Chios, the victorious fleet went to Samos, where it seems to have remained until the following year, without any farther movements than were necessary for the purpose of procuring money.

Meanwhile Eteonikus, who collected the remains of the defeated Peloponnesian fleet at Chios, being left unsupplied with money by Cyrus, found himself much straitened, and was compelled to leave the seamen unpaid. During the later summer and autumn, these men maintained themselves by laboring for hire on the Chian lands; but when winter came, this resource ceased, so that they found themselves unable to procure even clothes or shoes. In such forlorn condition, many of them entered into a conspiracy to assail and plunder the town of Chios; a day was named for the enterprise, and it was agreed that the conspirators should know each other by wearing a straw, or reed. Informed of the design, Eteonikus was at the same time intimidated by the number of these straw-bearers; he saw that if he dealt with the conspirators openly and ostensibly, they might perhaps rush to arms and succeed in plundering the town; at any rate, a conflict would arise in which many of the allies would be slain, which would produce the worst effect upon all future operations. Accordingly, resorting to stratagem, he took with him a guard of fifteen men armed with daggers, and marched through the town of Chios. Meeting presently one of these straw-bearers,—a man with a complaint in his eyes, coming out of a surgeon’s house,—he directed his guards to put the man to death on the spot. A crowd gathered round, with astonishment as well as sympathy,[p. 212] and inquired on what ground the man was put to death; upon which Eteonikus ordered his guards to reply, that it was because he wore a straw. The news became diffused, and immediately the remaining persons who wore straws became so alarmed as to throw their straws away.[307]

Eteonikus availed himself of the alarm to demand money from the Chians, as a condition of carrying away this starving and perilous armament. Having obtained from them a month’s pay, he immediately put the troops on shipboard, taking pains to encourage them, and make them fancy that he was unacquainted with the recent conspiracy.

The Chians and the other allies of Sparta presently assembled at Ephesus to consult, and resolved, in conjunction with Cyrus, to despatch envoys to the ephors, requesting that Lysander might be sent out a second time as admiral. It was not the habit of Sparta ever to send out the same man as admiral a second time, after his year of service. Nevertheless, the ephors complied with the request substantially, sending out Arakus as admiral, but Lysander along with him, under the title of secretary, invested with all the real powers of command.

Lysander, having reached Ephesus about the beginning of B.C. 405, immediately applied himself with vigor to renovate both Lacedæmonian power and his own influence. The partisans in the various allied cities, whose favor he had assiduously cultivated during his last year’s command, the clubs and factious combinations, which he had organized and stimulated into a partnership of mutual ambition, all hailed his return with exultation. Discountenanced and kept down by the generous patriotism of his predecessor Kallikratidas, they now sprang into renewed activity, and became zealous in aiding Lysander to refit and augment his fleet. Nor was Cyrus less hearty in his preference than before. On arriving at Ephesus, Lysander went speedily to visit him at Sardis, and solicited a renewal of the pecuniary aid. The young prince said in reply that all the funds which he had received from Susa had already been expended, with much more besides; in testimony of which he exhibited a specification of the sums furnished to each Peloponnesian officer.[p. 213] Nevertheless, such was his partiality for Lysander, that he complied even with the additional demand now made, so as to send him away satisfied. The latter was thus enabled to return to Ephesus in a state for restoring the effective condition of his fleet. He made good at once all the arrears of pay due to the seamen, constituted new trierarchs, summoned Eteonikus with the fleet from Chios, together with all the other scattered squadrons, and directed that fresh triremes should be immediately put on the stocks at Antandrus.[308]

In none of the Asiatic towns was the effect of Lysander’s second advent felt more violently than at Milêtus. He had there a powerful faction or association of friends, who had done their best to hamper and annoy Kallikratidas on his first arrival, but had been put to silence, and even forced to make a show of zeal, by the straightforward resolution of that noble-minded admiral. Eager to reimburse themselves for this humiliation, they now formed a conspiracy, with the privity and concurrence of Lysander, to seize the government for themselves. They determined, if Plutarch and Diodorus are to be credited, to put down the existing democracy, and establish an oligarchy in its place. But we cannot believe that there could have existed a democracy at Milêtus, which had now been for five years in dependence upon Sparta and the Persians jointly. We must rather understand the movement as a conflict between two oligarchical parties; the friends of Lysander being more thoroughly self-seeking and anti-popular than their opponents, and perhaps even crying them down, by comparison, as a democracy. Lysander lent himself to the scheme, fanned the ambition of the conspirators, who were at one time disposed to a compromise, and even betrayed the government into a false security, by promises of support which he never intended to fulfil. At the festival of the Dionysia, the conspirators, rising in arms, seized forty of their chief opponents in their houses, and three hundred more in the market-place; while the government—confiding in the promises of Lysander, who affected to reprove, but secretly continued instigating the insurgents—made but a faint resistance. The three hundred and forty leaders thus seized, probably men who had gone heartily[p. 214] along with Kallikratidas, were all put to death; and a still larger number of citizens, not less than one thousand, fled into exile. Milêtus thus passed completely into the hands of the friends and partisans of Lysander.[309]

It would appear that factious movements in other towns, less revolting in respect of bloodshed and perfidy, yet still of similar character to that of Milêtus, marked the reappearance of Lysander in Asia; placing the towns more and more in the hands of his partisans. While thus acquiring greater ascendency among the allies, Lysander received a summons from Cyrus to visit him at Sardis. The young prince had just been sent for to come and visit his father Darius, who was both old and dangerously ill, in Media. About to depart for this purpose, he carried his confidence in Lysander so far as to delegate to him the management of his satrapy and his entire revenues. Besides his admiration for the superior energy and capacity of the Greek character, with which he had only recently contracted acquaintance; and besides his esteem for the personal disinterestedness of Lysander, attested as it had been by the conduct of the latter in the first visit and banquet at Sardis; Cyrus was probably induced to this step by the fear of raising up to himself a rival, if he trusted the like power to any Persian grandee. At the same time that he handed over all his tributes and his reserved funds to Lysander, he assured him of his steady friendship both towards himself and towards the Lacedæmonians; and concluded by entreating that he would by no means engage in any general action with the Athenians, unless at great advantage in point of numbers. The defeat of Arginusæ having strengthened his preference for this dilatory policy, he promised that not only the Persian treasures, but also the Phenician fleet, should be brought into active employment for the purpose of crushing Athens.[310]

Thus armed with an unprecedented command of Persian treasure, and seconded by ascendent factions in all the allied cities, Lysander was more powerful than any Lacedæmonian commander had ever been since the commencement of the war. Having his fleet well paid, he could keep it united, and direct it[p. 215] whither he chose, without the necessity of dispersing it in roving squadrons for the purpose of levying money. It is probably from a corresponding necessity that we are to explain the inaction of the Athenian fleet at Samos; for we hear of no serious operations undertaken by it, during the whole year following the victory of Arginusæ, although under the command of an able and energetic man, Konon, together with Philoklês and Adeimantus; to whom were added, during the spring of 405 B.C., three other generals, Tydeus, Menander, and Kephisodotus. It appears that Theramenês also was put up and elected one of the generals, but rejected when submitted to the confirmatory examination called the dokimasy.[311] The fleet comprised one hundred and eighty triremes, rather a greater number than that of Lysander; to whom they in vain offered battle near his station at Ephesus. Finding him not disposed to a general action, they seem to have dispersed to plunder Chios, and various portions of the Asiatic coast; while Lysander, keeping his fleet together, first sailed southward from Ephesus, stormed and plundered a semi-Hellenic town in the Kerameikan gulf, named Kedreiæ, which was in alliance with Athens, and thence proceeded to Rhodes.[312] He was even bold enough to make an excursion across the Ægean to the coast of Ægina and Attica, where he had an interview with Agis, who came from Dekeleia to the sea-coast.[313] The Athenians were prepared to follow him thither when they learned that he had recrossed the Ægean, and he soon afterwards appeared with all his fleet at the Hellespont, which important pass they had left unguarded. Lysander went straight to Abydos, still the great Peloponnesian station in the strait, occupied by Thorax as harmost with a land force; and immediately proceeded to attack, both by sea and land, the neighboring town of Lampsakus, which was taken by storm. It was wealthy in every way, and abundantly stocked with bread and wine, so that the soldiers obtained a large booty; but Lysander left the free inhabitants untouched.[314]

[p. 216]

The Athenian fleet seems to have been employed in plundering Chios, when it received news that the Lacedæmonian commander was at the Hellespont engaged in the siege of Lampsakus. Either from the want of money, or from other causes which we do not understand, Konon and his colleagues were partly inactive, partly behindhand with Lysander, throughout all this summer. They now followed him to the Hellespont, sailing out on the sea-side of Chios and Lesbos, away from the Asiatic coast, which was all unfriendly to them. They reached Elæus, at the southern extremity of the Chersonese, with their powerful fleet of one hundred and eighty triremes, just in time to hear, while at their morning meal, that Lysander was already master of Lampsakus; upon which they immediately proceeded up the strait to Sestos, and from thence, after stopping only to collect a few provisions, still farther up, to a place called Ægospotami.[315]

Ægospotami, or Goat’s River—a name of fatal sound to all subsequent Athenians—was a place which had nothing to recommend it except that it was directly opposite to Lampsakus, separated by a breadth of strait about one mile and three-quarters. But it was an open beach, without harbor, without good anchorage, without either houses or inhabitants or supplies; so that everything necessary for this large army had to be fetched from Sestos, about one mile and three-quarters distant even by land, and yet more distant by sea, since it was necessary to round a headland. Such a station was highly inconvenient and dangerous to an ancient naval armament, without any organized commissariat; since the seamen, being compelled to go to a distance from their ships in order to get their meals, were not easily reassembled. Yet this was the station chosen by the Athenian generals, with the full design of compelling Lysander to fight a battle. But the Lacedæmonian admiral, who was at Lampsakus, in a good harbor, with a well-furnished town in his rear, and a land-force to coöperate, had no intention of accepting the challenge of his enemies at the moment which suited their convenience. When the Athenians sailed across the strait the next morning, they found all his ships fully manned,—the men having already taken their morning meal,—and ranged in perfect order of bat[p. 217]tle, with the land-force disposed ashore to lend assistance; but with strict orders to await attack and not to move forward. Not daring to attack him in such a position, yet unable to draw him out by manœuvring all the day, the Athenians were at length obliged to go back to Ægospotami. But Lysander directed a few swift-sailing vessels to follow them, nor would he suffer his own men to disembark until he thus ascertained that their seamen had actually dispersed ashore.[316]

For four successive days this same scene was repeated; the Athenians becoming each day more confident in their own superior strength, and more full of contempt for the apparent cowardice of the enemy. It was in vain that Alkibiadês—who from his own private forts in the Chersonese witnessed what was passing—rode up to the station and remonstrated with the generals on the exposed condition of the fleet on this open shore; urgently advising them to move round to Sestos, where they would be both close to their own supplies and safe from attack, as Lysander was at Lampsakus, and from whence they could go forth to fight whenever they chose. But the Athenian generals, especially Tydeus and Menander, disregarded his advice, and even dismissed him with the insulting taunt, that they were now in command, not he.[317] Continuing thus in their exposed position, the Athenian seamen on each successive day became more and more careless of their enemy, and rash in dispersing the moment they returned back to their own shore. At length, on the fifth[p. 218] day, Lysander ordered the scout-ships, which he sent forth to watch the Athenians on their return, to hoist a bright shield as a signal, as soon as they should see the ships at their anchorage and the crews ashore in quest of their meal. The moment he beheld this welcome signal, he gave orders to his entire fleet to row across as swiftly as possible from Lampsakus to Ægospotami, while Thorax marched along the strand with the land-force in case of need. Nothing could be more complete or decisive than the surprise of the Athenian fleet. All the triremes were caught at their moorings ashore, some entirely deserted, others with one or at most two of the three tiers of rowers which formed their complement. Out of all the total of one hundred and eighty, only twelve were found in tolerable order and preparation;[318] the trireme of Konon himself, together with a squadron of seven under his immediate orders, and the consecrated ship called paralus, always manned by the élite of the Athenian seamen, being among them. It was in vain that Konon, on seeing the fleet of Lysander approaching, employed his utmost efforts to get his fleet manned and in some condition for resistance. The attempt was desperate, and the utmost which he could do was to escape himself with the small squadron of twelve, including the paralus. All the remaining triremes, nearly one hundred and seventy in number, were captured by Lysander on the shore, defenceless, and seemingly without the least attempt on the part of any one to resist. He landed, and made prisoners most of the crews ashore, though some of them fled and found shelter in the neighboring forts. This prodigious and unparalleled victory was obtained, not merely without the loss of a single ship, but almost without that of a single man.[319]

Of the number of prisoners taken by Lysander,—which must have been very great, since the total crews of one hundred and eighty triremes were not less than thirty-six thousand men,[320]—we[p. 219] hear only of three thousand or four thousand native Athenians, though this number cannot represent all the native Athenians in the fleet. The Athenian generals Philoklês and Adeimantus were certainly taken, and seemingly all except Konon. Some of the defeated armament took refuge in Sestos, which, however, surrendered with little resistance to the victor. He admitted them to capitulation, on condition of their going back immediately to Athens, and nowhere else: for he was desirous to multiply as much as possible the numbers assembled in that city, knowing well that the city would be the sooner starved out. Konon too was well aware that, to go back to Athens, after the ruin of the entire fleet, was to become one of the certain prisoners in a doomed city, and to meet, besides, the indignation of his fellow-citizens, so well deserved by the generals collectively. Accordingly, he resolved to take shelter with Evagoras, prince of Salamis in the island of Cyprus, sending the paralus, with some others of the twelve fugitive triremes, to make known the fatal news at Athens. But before he went thither, he crossed the strait—with singular daring, under the circumstances—to Cape Abarnis in the territory of Lampsakus, where the great sails of Lysander’s triremes, always taken out when a trireme was made ready for fighting, lay seemingly unguarded. These sails he took away, so as to lessen the enemy’s powers of pursuit, and then made the best of his way to Cyprus.[321]

On the very day of the victory, Lysander sent off the Milesian privateer Theopompus to proclaim it at Sparta, who, by a wonderful speed of rowing, arrived there and made it known on the third day after starting. The captured ships were towed off and the prisoners carried across to Lampsakus, where a general assembly of the victorious allies was convened, to determine in what manner the prisoners should be treated. In this assembly, the most bitter inculpations were put forth against the Athenians, as to the manner in which they had recently dealt with their captives. The Athenian general Philoklês, having captured a Co[p. 220]rinthian and Andrian trireme, had put the crews to death by hurling them headlong from a precipice. It was not difficult, in Grecian warfare, for each of the belligerents to cite precedents of cruelty against the other; but in this debate, some speakers affirmed that the Athenians had deliberated what they should do with their prisoners, in case they had been victorious at Ægospotami; and that they had determined—chiefly on the motion of Philoklês, but in spite of the opposition of Adeimantus—that they would cut off the right hands of all who were captured. Whatever opinion Philoklês may have expressed personally, it is highly improbable that any such determination was ever taken by the Athenians.[322] In this assembly of the allies, however, besides all that could be said against Athens with truth, doubtless the most extravagant falsehoods found ready credence. All the Athenian prisoners captured at Ægospotami, three thousand or four thousand in number, were massacred forthwith, Philoklês himself at their head.[323] The latter, taunted by Lysander with his cruel execution of the Corinthian and Andrian crews, disdained to return any answer, but placed himself in conspicuous vestments at the head of the prisoners led out to execution. If we may believe Pausanias, even the bodies of the prisoners were left unburied.

Never was a victory more complete in itself, more overwhelming in its consequences, or more thoroughly disgraceful to the defeated generals, taken collectively, than that of Ægospotami. Whether it was in reality very glorious to Lysander, is doubtful; for it was the general belief afterwards, not merely at Athens, but seemingly in other parts of Greece also, that the Athenian fleet was sold to perdition by the treason of some of its own commanders. Of this suspicion both Konon and Philoklês stand clear. Adeimantus was named as the chief traitor, and Tydeus along with him.[324] Konon even preferred an accusation against[p. 221] Adeimantus to this effect,[325] probably by letter written home from Cyprus, and perhaps by some formal declaration made several years afterwards, when he returned to Athens as victor from the battle of Knidus. The truth of the charge cannot be positively demonstrated, but all the circumstances of the battle tend to render it probable, as well as the fact that Konon alone among all the generals was found in a decent state of preparation. Indeed we may add, that the utter impotence and inertness of the numerous Athenian fleet during the whole summer of 405 B.C. conspire to suggest a similar explanation. Nor could Lysander, master as he was of all the treasures of Cyrus, apply any portion of them more efficaciously than in corrupting the majority of the six Athenian generals, so as to nullify all the energy and ability of Konon.

The great defeat of Ægospotami took place about September 405 B.C. It was made known at Peiræus by the paralus, which arrived there during the night, coming straight from the Hellespont. Such a moment of distress and agony had never been experienced at Athens. The terrible disaster in Sicily had become known to the people by degrees, without any authorized reporter; but here was the official messenger, fresh from the scene, leaving no room to question the magnitude of the disaster or the irreparable ruin impending over the city. The wailing and cries of woe, first beginning in Peiræus, were transmitted by the guards stationed on the Long Walls up to the city. “On that night (says Xenophon) not a man slept; not merely from sorrow for the past calamity, but from terror for the future fate with which they themselves were now menaced, a retribution for what they had themselves inflicted on the Æginetans, Melians, Skionæans, and others.” After this night of misery, they met in public assembly on the following day, resolving to make the best[p. 222] preparations they could for a siege, to put the walls in full state of defence, and to block up two out of the three ports.[326] For Athens thus to renounce her maritime action, the pride and glory of the city ever since the battle of Salamis, and to confine herself to a defensive attitude within her own walls, was a humiliation which left nothing worse to be endured except actual famine and surrender.

Lysander was in no hurry to pass from the Hellespont to Athens. He knew that no farther corn-ships from the Euxine, and few supplies from other quarters, could now reach Athens; and that the power of the city to hold out against blockade must necessarily be very limited; the more limited, the greater the numbers accumulated within it. Accordingly, he permitted the Athenian garrisons which capitulated, to go only to Athens, and nowhere else.[327] His first measure was to make himself master of Chalkêdon and Byzantium, where he placed the Lacedæmonian Sthenelaus as harmost, with a garrison. Next, he passed to Lesbos, where he made similar arrangements at Mitylênê and other cities. In them, as well as in the other cities which now came under his power, he constituted an oligarchy of ten native citizens, chosen from among his most daring and unscrupulous partisans, and called a dekarchy, or dekadarchy, to govern in conjunction with the Lacedæmonian harmost. Eteonikus was sent to the Thracian cities which had been in dependence on Athens, to introduce similar changes. In Thasus, however, this change was stained by much bloodshed: there was a numerous philo-Athenian party whom Lysander caused to be allured out of their place of concealment into the temple of Heraklês, under the false assurance of an amnesty: when assembled under this pledge, they were all put to death.[328] Sanguinary proceedings of the like character, many in the presence of Lysander himself,[p. 223] together with large expulsions of citizens obnoxious to his new dekarchies, signalized everywhere the substitution of Spartan for Athenian ascendency.[329] But nowhere, except at Samos, did the citizens or the philo-Athenian party in the cities continue any open hostility, or resist by force Lysander’s entrance and his revolutionary changes. At Samos, they still held out: the people had too much dread of that oligarchy, whom they had expelled in the insurrection of 412 B.C., to yield without a farther struggle.[330] With this single reserve, every city in alliance or dependence upon Athens submitted without resistance both to the supremacy and the subversive measures of the Lacedæmonian admiral.

The Athenian empire was thus annihilated, and Athens left altogether alone. What was hardly less painful, all her kleruchs, or out-citizens, whom she had formerly planted in Ægina, Melos, and elsewhere throughout the islands, as well as in the Chersonese, were now deprived of their properties and driven home.[331][p. 224] The leading philo-Athenians, too, at Thasus, Byzantium, and other dependent cities,[332] were forced to abandon their homes in the like state of destitution, and to seek shelter at Athens. Everything thus contributed to aggravate the impoverishment, and the manifold suffering, physical as well as moral, within her walls. Notwithstanding the pressure of present calamity, however, and yet worse prospects for the future, the Athenians prepared, as best they could, for an honorable resistance.

It was one of their first measures to provide for the restoration of harmony, and to interest all in the defence of the city, by removing every sort of disability under which individual citizens might now be suffering. Accordingly, Patrokleidês—having first obtained special permission from the people, without which it would have been unconstitutional to make any proposition for abrogating sentences judicially passed, or releasing debtors regularly inscribed in the public registers—submitted a decree such as had never been mooted since the period when Athens was in a condition equally desperate, during the advancing march of Xerxes. All debtors to the state, either recent or of long standing; all official persons now under investigation by the Logistæ, or about to be brought before the dikastery on the usual accountability after office; all persons who were liquidating by instalment debts due to the public, or had given bail for sums thus owing; all persons who had been condemned either to total disfranchisement, or to some specific disqualification or disability; nay, even all those who, having been either members or auxiliaries of the Four Hundred, had stood trial afterwards, and had been condemned to any one of the above-mentioned penalties, all these persons were pardoned and released; every register of the penalty or condemnation being directed to be destroyed. From this comprehensive pardon were excepted: Those among the Four Hundred who had fled from Athens without standing their[p. 225] trial; those who had been condemned either to exile or to death by the Areopagus, or any of the other constituted tribunals for homicide, or for subversion of the public liberty. Not merely the public registers of all the condemnations thus released were ordered to be destroyed, but it was forbidden, under severe penalties, to any private citizen to keep a copy of them, or to make any allusion to such misfortunes.[333]

Pursuant to the comprehensive amnesty and forgiveness adopted by the people in this decree of Patrokleidês, the general body of citizens swore to each other a solemn pledge of mutual harmony in the acropolis.[334] The reconciliation thus introduced enabled them the better to bear up under their distress;[335] especially as the persons relieved by the amnesty were, for the most part, not men politically disaffected, like the exiles. To restore the latter, was a measure which no one thought of: indeed, a large proportion of them had been and were still at Dekeleia, assisting the Lacedæmonians in their warfare against Athens.[336] But even the most prudent internal measures could do little for Athens in reference to her capital difficulty, that of procuring subsistence for the numerous population within her walls, augmented every day by outlying garrisons and citizens. She had long been shut out from the produce of Attica by the garrison at Dekeleia; she obtained nothing from Eubœa, and since the late defeat of Ægospotami, nothing from the Euxine, from Thrace, or from the islands. Perhaps some corn may still have reached her from Cyprus, and her small remaining navy did what was possible to keep Peiræus supplied,[337] in spite of the menacing prohibitions of Lysander, pre[p. 226]ceding his arrival to block it up effectually; but to accumulate any stock for a siege, was utterly impossible.

At length, about November, 405 B.C., Lysander reached the Saronic gulf, having sent intimation beforehand, both to Agis and to the Lacedæmonians, that he was approaching with a fleet of two hundred triremes. The full Lacedæmonian and Peloponnesian force (all except the Argeians), under king Pausanias, was marched into Attica to meet him, and encamped in the precinct of Acadêmus, at the gates of Athens; while Lysander, first coming to Ægina with his overwhelming fleet of one hundred and fifty sail; next, ravaging Salamis, blocked up completely the harbor of Peiræus. It was one of his first measures to collect together the remnant which he could find of the Æginetan and Melian populations, whom Athens had expelled and destroyed; and to restore to them the possession of their ancient islands.[338]

Though all hope had now fled, the pride, the resolution, and the despair of Athens, still enabled her citizens to bear up; nor was it until some men actually began to die of hunger, that they sent propositions to entreat peace. Even then their propositions were not without dignity. They proposed to Agis to become allies of Sparta, retaining their walls entire and their fortified harbor of Peiræus. Agis referred the envoys to the ephors at Sparta, to whom he at the same time transmitted a statement of their propositions. But the ephors did not even deign to admit the envoys to an interview, but sent messengers to meet them at Sellasia on the frontier of Laconia, desiring that they would go back and come again prepared with something more admissible, and acquainting them at the same time that no proposition could be received which did not include the demolition of the Long Walls, for a continuous length of ten stadia. With this gloomy reply the envoys returned. Notwithstanding all the suffering in the city, the senate and people would not consent even to take such humiliating terms into consideration. A senator named Archestratus, who advised that they should be accepted, was placed in[p. 227] custody, and a general vote was passed,[339] on the proposition of Kleophon, forbidding any such motion in future.

Such a vote demonstrates the courageous patience both of the senate and the people; but unhappily it supplied no improved prospects, while the suffering within the walls continued to become more and more aggravated. Under these circumstances, Theramenês offered himself to the people to go as envoy to Lysander and Sparta, affirming that he should be able to detect what the real intention of the ephors was in regard to Athens, whether they really intended to root out the population and sell them as slaves. He pretended, farther, to possess personal influence, founded on circumstances which he could not divulge, such as would very probably insure a mitigation of the doom. He was accordingly sent, in spite of strong protest from the senate of Areopagus and others,—but with no express powers to conclude,—simply to inquire and report. We hear with astonishment that he remained more than three months as companion of Lysander, who, he alleged, had detained him thus long, and had only acquainted him, after the fourth month had begun, that no one but the ephors had any power to grant peace. It seems to have been the object of Theramenês, by this long delay, to wear out the patience of the Athenians, and to bring them into such a state of intolerable suffering, that they would submit to any terms of peace which would only bring provisions into the town. In this scheme he completely succeeded; and considering how great were the privations of the people even at the moment of his departure, it is not easy to understand how they could have been able to sustain protracted and increasing famine for three months longer.[340]

We make out little that is distinct respecting these last moments of imperial Athens. We find only an heroic endurance displayed, to such a point that numbers actually died of starvation, without[p. 228] any offer to surrender on humiliating conditions.[341] Amidst the general acrimony, and exasperated special antipathies, arising out of such a state of misery, the leading men who stood out most earnestly for prolonged resistance became successively victims to the prosecutions of their enemies. The demagogue Kleophon was condemned and put to death, on the accusation of having evaded his military duty; the senate, whose temper and proceedings he had denounced, constituting itself a portion of the dikastery which tried him, contrary both to the forms and the spirit of Athenian judicatures.[342] Such proceedings, however, though denounced by orators in subsequent years as having contributed to betray the city into the hands of the enemy, appear to have been without any serious influence on the result, which was brought about purely by famine.

By the time that Theramenês returned after his long absence, so terrible had the pressure become, that he was sent forth again with instructions to conclude peace upon any terms. On reaching Sellasia, and acquainting the ephors that he had come with unlimited powers for peace, he was permitted to come to Sparta, where the assembly of the Peloponnesian confederacy was convened, to settle on what terms peace should be granted. The leading allies, especially Corinthians and Thebans, recommended that no agreement should be entered into, nor any farther measure kept, with this hated enemy now in their power; but that the name of Athens should be rooted out, and the population sold for[p. 229] slaves. Many of the other allies seconded the same views, which would have probably commanded a majority, had it not been for the resolute opposition of the Lacedæmonians themselves; who declared unequivocally that they would never consent to annihilate or enslave a city which had rendered such capital service to all Greece at the time of the great common danger from the Persians.[343] Lysander farther calculated on so dealing with Athens, as to make her into a dependency, and an instrument of increased power to Sparta, apart from her allies. Peace was accordingly granted on the following conditions: that the Long Walls and the fortifications of the Peiræus should be destroyed; that the Athenians should evacuate all their foreign possessions, and confine themselves to their own territory; that they should surrender all their ships of war; that they should readmit all their exiles; that they should become allies of Sparta, following her leadership both by sea and land, and recognizing the same enemies and friends.[344]

With this document, written according to Lacedæmonian practice on a skytalê,—or roll intended to go round a stick, of which[p. 230] the Lacedæmonian commander had always one, and the ephors another, corresponding,—Theramenês went back to Athens. As he entered the city, a miserable crowd flocked round him, in distress and terror lest he should have failed altogether in his mission. The dead and the dying had now become so numerous, that peace at any price was a boon; nevertheless, when he announced in the assembly the terms of which he was bearer, strongly recommending submission to the Lacedæmonians as the only course now open, there was still a high-spirited minority who entered their protest, and preferred death by famine to such insupportable disgrace. The large majority, however, accepted them, and the acceptance was made known to Lysander.[345]

It was on the 16th day of the Attic month Munychion,[346]—about the middle or end of March,—that this victorious commander sailed into the Peiræus, twenty-seven years, almost exactly, after that surprise of Platæa by the Thebans, which opened the Peloponnesian war. Along with him came the Athenian exiles, several of whom appear to have been serving with his army,[347] and assisting him with their counsel. To the population of Athens generally, his entry was an immediate relief, in spite of the cruel degradation, or indeed political extinction, with which it was accompanied. At least it averted the sufferings and horrors of famine, and permitted a decent interment of the many unhappy victims who had already perished. The Lacedæmonians, both naval and military force, under Lysander and Agis, continued in occupation of Athens until the conditions of the peace had been fulfilled. All the triremes in Peiræus were carried away by Lysander, except twelve, which he permitted the Athenians to retain: the ephors, in their skytalê, had left it to his discretion what number he would thus allow.[348] The unfinished ships in the dock[p. 231]yards were burnt, and the arsenals themselves ruined.[349] To demolish the Long Walls and the fortifications of Peiræus, was however, a work of some time; and a certain number of days were granted to the Athenians, within which it was required to be completed. In the beginning of the work, the Lacedæmonians and their allies all lent a hand, with the full pride and exultation of conquerors; amidst women playing the flute and dancers crowned with wreaths; mingled with joyful exclamations from the Peloponnesian allies, that this was the first day of Grecian freedom.[350] How many days were allowed for this humiliating duty imposed upon Athenian hands, of demolishing the elaborate, tutelary, and commanding works of their forefathers, we are not told. But the business was not completed within the interval named, so that the Athenians did not come up to the letter of the conditions, and had therefore, by strict construction, forfeited their title to the peace granted.[351] The interval seems, however, to have been prolonged; probably considering that for the real labor, as well as the melancholy character of the work to be done, too short a time had been allowed at first.

It appears that Lysander, after assisting at the solemn ceremony of beginning to demolish the walls, and making such a breach as left Athens without any substantial means of resistance, did not remain to complete the work, but withdrew with a portion of his fleet to undertake the siege of Samos which still held out, leaving the remainder to see that the conditions imposed were fulfilled.[352] After so long an endurance of extreme misery, doubtless the general population thought of little except relief from famine and its accompaniments, without any disposition to con[p. 232]tend against the fiat of their conquerors. If some high-spirited men formed an exception to the pervading depression, and still kept up their courage against better days, there was at the same time a party of totally opposite character, to whom the prostrate condition of Athens was a source of revenge for the past, exultation for the present, and ambitious projects for the future. These were partly the remnant of that faction which had set up, seven years before, the oligarchy of Four Hundred, and still more, the exiles, including several members of the Four Hundred,[353] who now flocked in from all quarters. Many of them had been long serving at Dekeleia, and had formed a part of the force blockading Athens. These exiles now revisited the acropolis as conquerors, and saw with delight the full accomplishment of that foreign occupation at which many of them had aimed seven years before, when they constructed the fortress of Ecteioneia, as a means of insuring their own power. Though the conditions imposed extinguished at once the imperial character, the maritime power, the honor, and the independence of Athens, these men were as eager as Lysander to carry them all into execution; because the continuance of the Athenian democracy was now entirely at his mercy, and because his establishment of oligarchies in the other subdued cities plainly intimated what he would do in this great focus of Grecian democratical impulse.

Among these exiles were comprised Aristodemus and Aristotelês, both seemingly persons of importance, the former having at one time been one of the Hellenotamiæ, the first financial office of the imperial democracy, and the latter an active member of the Four Hundred;[354] also Chariklês, who had been so distinguished for his violence in the investigation respecting the Hermæ, and another man, of whom we now for the first time obtain historical[p. 233] knowledge in detail, Kritias, son of Kallæschrus. He had been among the persons accused as having been concerned in the mutilation of the Hermæ, and seems to have been for a long time important in the political, the literary, and the philosophical world of Athens. To all three, his abilities qualified him to do honor. Both his poetry, in the Solonian or moralizing vein, and his eloquence, published specimens of which remained in the Augustan age, were of no ordinary merit. His wealth was large, and his family among the most ancient and conspicuous in Athens: one of his ancestors had been friend and companion of the lawgiver Solon. He was himself maternal uncle of the philosopher Plato,[355] and had frequented the society of Sokratês so much as to have his name intimately associated in the public mind with that remarkable man. We know neither the cause, nor even the date of his exile, except so far, as that he was not in banishment immediately after the revolution of the Four Hundred, and that he was in banishment at the time when the generals were condemned after the battle of Arginusæ.[356] He had passed the time, or a part of the time, of his exile in Thessaly, where he took an active part in the sanguinary feuds carried on among the oligarchical parties of that lawless country. He is said to have embraced, along with a leader named, or surnamed, Prometheus, what passed for the democratical side in Thessaly; arming the penestæ, or serfs, against their masters.[357] What the conduct and dispositions of Kritias had been before this period we are unable to say; but he brought with him now, on return[p. 234]ing from exile, not merely an unmeasured and unprincipled lust of power, but also a rancorous impulse towards spoliation and bloodshed[358] which outran even his ambition, and ultimately ruined both his party and himself.

Of all these returning exiles, animated with mingled vengeance and ambition, Kritias was decidedly the leading man, like Antiphon among the Four Hundred; partly from his abilities, partly from the superior violence with which he carried out the common sentiment. At the present juncture, he and his fellow-exiles became the most important persons in the city, as enjoying most the friendship and confidence of the conquerors. But the oligarchical party at home were noway behind them, either in servility or in revolutionary fervor, and an understanding was soon established between the two. Probably the old faction of the Four Hundred, though put down, had never wholly died out: at any rate, the political hetæries, or clubs, out of which it was composed, still remained, prepared for fresh coöperation when a favorable moment should arrive; and the catastrophe of Ægospotami had made it plain to every one that such moment could not be far distant. Accordingly, a large portion, if not the majority, of the senators, became ready to lend themselves to the destruction of the democracy, and only anxious to insure places among the oligarchy in prospect;[359] while the supple Theramenês—resuming his place as oligarchical leader, and abusing his mission as envoy to wear out the patience of his half-famished countrymen—had, during his three months’ absence in the tent of Lysander, concerted arrangements with the exiles for future proceedings.[360]

As soon as the city surrendered, and while the work of demolition was yet going on, the oligarchical party began to organize itself. The members of the political clubs again came together, and named a managing committee of five, called ephors in com[p. 235]pliment to the Lacedæmonians, to direct the general proceedings of the party; to convene meetings when needful, to appoint subordinate managers for the various tribes, and to determine what propositions were to be submitted to the public assembly.[361] Among these five ephors were Kritias and Eratosthenês; probably Theramenês also.

But the oligarchical party, though thus organized and ascendant, with a compliant senate and a dispirited people, and with an auxiliary enemy actually in possession, still thought themselves not powerful enough to carry their intended changes without seizing the most resolute of the democratical leaders. Accordingly, a citizen named Theokritus tendered an accusation to the senate against the general Strombichidês, together with several others of the democratical generals and taxiarchs; supported by the deposition of a slave, or lowborn man, named Agoratus. Although Nikias and several other citizens tried to prevail upon Agoratus to leave Athens, furnished him with the means of escape, and offered to go away with him themselves from Munychia, until the political state of Athens should come into a more assured condition,[362] yet he refused to retire, appeared[p. 236] before the senate, and accused the generals of being concerned in a conspiracy to break up the peace; pretending to be himself their accomplice. Upon his information, given both before the senate and before an assembly at Munychia, the generals, the taxiarchs, and several other citizens, men of high worth and courageous patriots, were put into prison, as well as Agoratus himself, to stand their trial afterwards before a dikastery consisting of two thousand members. One of the parties thus accused, Menestratus, being admitted by the public assembly, on the proposition of Hagnodôrus, the brother-in-law of Kritias, to become accusing witness, named several additional accomplices, who were also forthwith placed in custody.[363]

Though the most determined defenders of the democratical constitution were thus eliminated, Kritias and Theramenês still farther insured the success of their propositions by invoking the presence of Lysander from Samos. The demolition of the walls had been completed, the main blockading army had disbanded, and the immediate pressure of famine had been removed, when an assembly was held to determine on future modifications of the constitution. A citizen named Drakontidês,[364] moved that a Board of Thirty should be named, to draw up laws for the future government of the city, and to manage provisionally the public affairs, until that task should be completed. Among the thirty persons proposed, prearranged by Theramenês and the oligarchical five ephors, the most prominent names were those of Kritias and Theramenês: there were, besides, Drakontidês himself,—Onomaklês, one of the Four Hundred who had escaped,—Aristotelês and Chariklês, both exiles newly returned, Eratosthenês,[p. 237] and others whom we do not know, but of whom probably several had also been exiles or members of the Four Hundred.[365] Though this was a complete abrogation of the constitution, yet so conscious were the conspirators of their own strength, that they did not deem it necessary to propose the formal suspension of the graphê paranomôn, as had been done prior to the installation of the former oligarchy. Still, notwithstanding the seizure of the leaders and the general intimidation prevalent, a loud murmur of repugnance was heard in the assembly at the motion of Drakontidês. But Theramenês rose up to defy the murmur, telling the assembly that the proposition numbered many partisans even among the citizens themselves, and that it had, besides, the approbation of Lysander and the Lacedæmonians. This was presently confirmed by Lysander himself, who addressed the assembly in person. He told them, in a menacing and contemptuous tone, that Athens was now at his mercy, since the walls had not been demolished before the day specified, and consequently the conditions of the promised peace had been violated. He added that, if they did not adopt the recommendation of Theramenês, they would be forced to take thought for their personal safety instead of for their political constitution. After a notice at once so plain and so crushing, farther resistance was vain. The dissentients all quitted the assembly in sadness and indignation; while a remnant—according to Lysias, inconsiderable in number as well as worthless in character—stayed to vote acceptance of the motion.[366]

Seven years before, Theramenês had carried, in conjunction with Antiphon and Phrynichus, a similar motion for the installation of the Four Hundred; extorting acquiescence by domestic terrorism as well as by multiplied assassinations. He now, in conjunction with Kritias and the rest, a second time extinguished the constitution of his country, by the still greater humiliation of a foreign conqueror dictating terms to the Athenian people assembled in their own Pnyx. Having seen the Thirty regularly constituted, Lysander retired from Athens to finish the siege of Samos, which still held out. Though blocked up both by land[p. 238] and sea, the Samians obstinately defended themselves for some months longer, until the close of the summer. Nor was it until the last extremity that they capitulated; obtaining permission for every freeman to depart in safety, but with no other property except a single garment. Lysander handed over the city and the properties to the ancient citizens, that is, to the oligarchy and their partisans, who had been partly expelled, partly disfranchised, in the revolution eight years before. But he placed the government of Samos, as he had dealt with the other cities, in the hands of one of his dekadarchies, or oligarchy of Ten Samians, chosen by himself; leaving Thorax as Lacedæmonian harmost, and doubtless a force under him.[367]

Having thus finished the war, and trodden out the last spark of resistance, Lysander returned in triumph to Sparta. So imposing a triumph never fell to the lot of any Greek, either before or afterwards. He brought with him every trireme out of the harbor of Peiræus, except twelve, left to the Athenians as a concession; he brought the prow-ornaments of all the ships captured at Ægospotami and elsewhere; he was loaded with golden crowns, voted to him by the various cities; and he farther exhibited a sum of money not less than four hundred and seventy talents, the remnant of those treasures which Cyrus had handed over to him for the prosecution of the war.[368] That sum had been greater, but is said to have been diminished by the treachery of Gylippus, to whose custody it had been committed, and who sullied by such mean peculation the laurels which he had so gloriously earned at Syracuse.[369] Nor was it merely the triumphant evidences of past exploits which now decorated this returning admiral. He wielded besides an extent of real power greater than any individual Greek either before or after. Imperial Sparta, as she had now become, was as it were personified in Lysander, who was master of almost all the insular, Asiatic, and Thracian cities, by means of the harmost and the native dekadarchies named by himself and selected from his creatures. To this state of things we shall presently return, when we have followed the eventful history of the Thirty at Athens.

[p. 239]

These thirty men—the parallel of the dekarchies whom Lysander had constituted in the other cities—were intended for the same purpose, to maintain the city in a state of humiliation and dependence upon Lacedæmon, and upon Lysander, as the representative of Lacedæmon. Though appointed, in the pretended view of drawing up a scheme of laws and constitution for Athens, they were in no hurry to commence this duty. They appointed a new senate, composed of compliant, assured, and oligarchical persons; including many of the returned exiles who had been formerly in the Four Hundred, and many also of the preceding senators who were willing to serve their designs.[370] They farther named new magistrates and officers; a new Board of Eleven, to manage the business of police and the public force, with Satyrus, one of their most violent partisans, as chief; a Board of Ten, to govern in Peiræus;[371] an archon, to give name to the year, Pythodôrus, and a second, or king-archon, Patroklês,[372] to offer the customary sacrifices on behalf of the city. While thus securing their own ascendency, and placing all power in the hands of the most violent oligarchical partisans, they began by professing reforming principles of the strictest virtue; denouncing the abuses of the past democracy, and announcing their determination to purge the city of evil-doers.[373] The philosopher Plato—then a young man about twenty-four years old, of anti-democratical politics, and nephew of Kritias—was at first misled, together with various others, by these splendid professions; he conceived hopes, and even received encouragement from his relations, that he might play an active part under the new oligarchy.[374] Though he soon came to discern how little congenial his feelings were with theirs, yet in the beginning doubtless such honest illusions contributed materially to strengthen their hands.

[p. 240]

In execution of their design to root out evil-doers, the Thirty first laid hands on some of the most obnoxious politicians under the former democracy; “men (says Xenophon) whom every one knew to live by making calumnious accusations, called sycophancy, and who were pronounced in their enmity to the oligarchical citizens.” How far most of these men had been honest or dishonest in their previous political conduct under the democracy, we have no means of determining. But among them were comprised Strombichidês and the other democratical officers who had been imprisoned under the information of Agoratus, men whose chief crime consisted in a strenuous and inflexible attachment to the democracy. The persons thus seized were brought to trial before the new senate appointed by the Thirty, contrary to the vote of the people, which had decreed that Strombichidês and his companions should be tried before a dikastery of two thousand citizens.[375] But the dikastery, as well as all the other democratical institutions, were now abrogated, and no judicial body was left except the newly constituted senate. Even to that senate, though composed of their own partisans, the Thirty did not choose to intrust the trial of the prisoners, with that secrecy of voting which was well known at Athens to be essential to the free and genuine expression of sentiment. Whenever prisoners were tried, the Thirty were themselves present in the senate-house, sitting on the benches previously occupied by the prytanes: two tables were placed before them, one signifying condemnation, the other, acquittal; and each senator was required to deposit his pebble openly before them, either on one or on the other.[376] It was not merely judgment by the senate, but judgment by the senate under pressure and intimidation by the all-powerful Thirty. It seems probable that neither any semblance of defence, nor any exculpatory witnesses, were allowed; but even if such formalities were not wholly dispensed with, it is certain that there was no real trial, and that condemnation was assured beforehand. Among the great numbers whom the Thirty brought before the senate, not a single man was acquitted except the informer Agoratus, who was brought to trial as an accomplice along with Strombichidês and his companions, but was liberated[p. 241] in recompense for the information which he had given against them.[377] The statement of Isokratês, Lysias, and others—that the victims of the Thirty, even when brought before the senate, were put to death untried—is authentic and trustworthy: many were even put to death by simple order from the Thirty themselves, without any cognizance of the senate.[378]

In regard to the persons first brought to trial, however,—whether we consider them, as Xenophon intimates, to have been notorious evil-doers, or to have been innocent sufferers by the reactionary vengeance of returning oligarchical exiles, as was the case certainly with Strombichidês and the officers accused along with him,—there was little necessity for any constraint on the part of the Thirty over the senate. That body itself partook of the sentiment which dictated the condemnation, and acted as a willing instrument; while the Thirty themselves were unanimous, Theramenês being even more zealous than Kritias in these executions, to demonstrate his sincere antipathy towards the extinct democracy.[379] As yet too, since all the persons condemned, justly or unjustly, had been marked politicians, so, all other citizens who had taken no conspicuous part in politics, even if they disapproved of the condemnations, had not been led to conceive any apprehension of the like fate for themselves. Here, then, Theramenês, and along with him a portion of the Thirty as well as of the senate, were inclined to pause. While enough had been done to satiate their antipathies, by the death of the most obnoxious leaders of the democracy, they at the same time conceived the oligarchical government to be securely established, and contended that farther bloodshed would only endanger its stability, by spreading alarm, multiplying enemies, and alienating friends as well as neutrals.

But these were not the views either of Kritias or of the Thirty generally, who surveyed their position with eyes very different from the unstable and cunning Theramenês, and who had brought[p. 242] with them from exile a long arrear of vengeance yet to be appeased. Kritias knew well that the numerous population of Athens were devotedly attached, and had good reason to be attached, to their democracy; that the existing government had been imposed upon them by force, and could only be upheld by force; that its friends were a narrow minority, incapable of sustaining it against the multitude around them, all armed; that there were still many formidable enemies to be got rid of, so that it was indispensable to invoke the aid of a permanent Lacedæmonian garrison in Athens, as the only condition not only of their stability as a government, but even of their personal safety. In spite of the opposition of Theramenês, Æschinês and Aristotelês, two among the Thirty, were despatched to Sparta to solicit aid from Lysander; who procured for them a Lacedæmonian garrison under Kallibius as harmost, which they engaged to maintain without any cost to Sparta, until their government should be confirmed by putting the evil-doers out of the way.[380] Kallibius was not only installed as master of the acropolis,—full as it was of the mementos of Athenian glory,—but was farther so caressed and won over by the Thirty, that he lent himself to everything which they asked. They had thus a Lacedæmonian military force constantly at their command, besides an organized band of youthful satellites and assassins, ready for any deeds of violence; and they proceeded to seize and put to death many citizens, who were so distinguished for their courage and patriotism, as to be likely to serve as leaders to the public discontent. Several of the best men in Athens thus successively perished, while Thrasybulus, Anytus, and many others, fearing a similar fate, fled out of Attica, leaving their property to be confiscated and appropriated by the oligarchs;[381] who passed a decree of exile against them in their absence, as well as against Alkibiadês.[382]

[p. 243]

These successive acts of vengeance and violence were warmly opposed by Theramenês, both in the council of Thirty and in the senate. The persons hitherto executed, he said, had deserved their death, because they were not merely noted politicians under the democracy, but also persons of marked hostility to oligarchical men. But to inflict the same fate on others, who had manifested no such hostility, simply because they had enjoyed influence under the democracy, would be unjust: “Even you and I (he reminded Kritias) have both said and done many things for the sake of popularity.” But Kritias replied: “We cannot afford to be scrupulous; we are engaged in a scheme of aggressive ambition, and must get rid of those who are best able to hinder us. Though we are Thirty in number, and not one, our government is not the less a despotism, and must be guarded by the same jealous precautions. If you think otherwise, you must be simple-minded indeed.” Such were the sentiments which animated the majority of the Thirty, not less than Kritias, and which prompted them to an endless string of seizures and executions. It was not merely the less obnoxious democratical politicians who became their victims, but men of courage, wealth, and station, in every vein of political feeling: even oligarchical men, the best and most high-principled of that party, shared the same fate. Among the most distinguished sufferers were, Lykurgus,[383] belonging to one of the most eminent sacred gentes in the state; a wealthy man named Antiphon, who had devoted his fortune to the public service with exemplary patriotism during the last years of the war, and had furnished two well-equipped triremes at his own cost; Leon, of Salamis; and even Nikêratus, son of Nikias, who had perished at Syracuse; a man who inherited from his father not only a large fortune, but a known repugnance to democratical politics, together with his uncle Eukratês, brother of the same Nikias.[384] These were only a few among the numerous victims, who were seized, pronounced to be guilty by the senate or by the Thirty themselves, handed over to Satyrus and the Eleven, and condemned to perish by the customary draught of hemlock.

[p. 244]

The circumstances accompanying the seizure of Leon deserve particular notice. In putting to death him and the other victims, the Thirty had several objects in view, all tending to the stability of their dominion. First, they thus got rid of citizens generally known and esteemed, whose abhorrence they knew themselves to deserve, and whom they feared as likely to head the public sentiment against them. Secondly, the property of these victims, all of whom were rich, was seized along with their persons, and was employed to pay the satellites whose agency was indispensable for such violences, especially Kallibius and the Lacedæmonian hoplites in the acropolis. But, besides murder and spoliation, the Thirty had a farther purpose, if possible, yet more nefarious. In the work of seizing their victims, they not only employed the hands of these paid satellites, but also sent along with them citizens of station and respectability, whom they constrained by threats and intimidation to lend their personal aid in a service so thoroughly odious. By such participation, these citizens became compromised and imbrued in crime, and as it were, consenting parties in the public eye to all the projects of the Thirty;[385] exposed to the same general hatred as the latter, and interested for their own safety in maintaining the existing dominion. Pursuant to their general plan of implicating unwilling citizens in their misdeeds, the Thirty sent for five citizens to the tholus, or government-house, and ordered them, with terrible menaces, to cross over to Salamis and bring back Leon as prisoner. Four out of the five obeyed; the fifth was the philosopher Sokratês, who refused all concurrence and returned to his own house, while the other four[p. 245] went to Salamis and took part in the seizure of Leon. Though he thus braved all the wrath of the Thirty, it appears that they thought it expedient to leave him untouched. But the fact that they singled him out for such an atrocity,—an old man of tried virtue, both private and public, and intellectually commanding, though at the same time intellectually unpopular,—shows to what an extent they carried their system of forcing unwilling participants; while the farther circumstance, that he was the only person who had the courage to refuse, among four others who yielded to intimidation, shows that the policy was for the most part successful.[386] The inflexible resistance of Sokratês on this occasion, stands as a worthy parallel to his conduct as prytanis in the public assembly held on the conduct of the generals after the battle of Arginusæ, described in the preceding chapter, wherein he obstinately refused to concur in putting an illegal question.

Such multiplied cases of execution and spoliation naturally filled the city with surprise, indignation, and terror. Groups of malcontents got together, and exiles became more and more numerous. All these circumstances furnished ample material for the vehement opposition of Theramenês, and tended to increase his party: not indeed among the Thirty themselves, but to a certain extent in the senate, and still more among the body of the citizens. He warned his colleagues that they were incurring daily an increased amount of public odium, and that their government could not possibly stand, unless they admitted into partnership an adequate number of citizens, with a direct interest in its maintenance. He proposed that all those competent, by their property, to serve the state either on horseback or with heavy armor, should be constituted citizens; leaving all the poorer freemen, a far larger number, still disfranchised.[387] Kritias and[p. 246] the Thirty rejected this proposition; being doubtless convinced—as the Four Hundred had felt seven years before, when Theramenês demanded of them to convert their fictitious total of Five Thousand into a real list of as many living persons—that “to enroll so great a number of partners, was tantamount to a downright democracy.”[388] But they were at the same time not insensible to the soundness of his advice: moreover, they began to be afraid of him personally, and to suspect that he was likely to take the lead in a popular opposition against them, as he had previously done against his colleagues of the Four Hundred. They therefore resolved to comply in part with his recommendations, and accordingly prepared a list of three thousand persons to be invested with the political franchise; chosen, as much as possible, from their own known partisans and from oligarchical citizens. Besides this body, they also counted on the adherence of the horsemen, among the wealthiest citizens of the state. These horsemen, or knights, taking them as a class,—the thousand good men of Athens, whose virtues Aristophanês sets forth in hostile antithesis to the alleged demagogic vices of Kleon,—remained steady supporters of the Thirty, throughout all the enormities of their career.[389] What privileges or functions were assigned to the chosen three thousand, we do not hear, except that they could not be condemned without the warrant of the senate, while any other Athenian might be put to death by the simple fiat of the Thirty.[390]

A body of partners thus chosen—not merely of fixed number, but of picked oligarchical sentiments—was by no means the addition which Theramenês desired. While he commented on the folly of supposing that there was any charm in the number three thousand, as if it embodied all the merit of the city, and nothing else but merit, he admonished them that it was still insufficient for their defence; their rule was one of pure force, and yet inferior in force to those over whom it was exercised. Again the Thirty acted upon his admonition, but in a way very different from that which he contemplated. They proclaimed a general muster[p. 247] and examination of arms to all the hoplites in Athens. The Three Thousand were drawn up in arms all together in the market-place; but the remaining hoplites were disseminated in small scattered companies and in different places. After the review was over, these scattered companies went home to their meal, leaving their arms piled at the various places of muster. But the adherents of the Thirty, having been forewarned and kept together, were sent at the proper moment, along with the Lacedæmonian mercenaries, to seize the deserted arms, which were deposited under the custody of Kallibius in the acropolis. All the hoplites in Athens, except the Three Thousand and the remaining adherents of the Thirty, were disarmed by this crafty manœuvre, in spite of the fruitless remonstrance of Theramenês.[391]

Kritias and his colleagues, now relieved from all fear either of Theramenês, or of any other internal opposition, gave loose, more unsparingly than ever, to their malevolence and rapacity, putting to death both many of their private enemies, and many rich victims for the purpose of spoliation. A list of suspected persons was drawn up, in which each of their adherents was allowed to insert such names as he chose, and from which the victims were generally taken.[392] Among informers, who thus gave in names for destruction, Batrachus and Æschylidês[393] stood conspicuous. The thirst of Kritias for plunder, as well as for bloodshed, only increased by gratification;[394] and it was not merely to pay their mercenaries, but also to enrich themselves separately, that the Thirty stretched everywhere their murderous agency, which now mowed down metics as well as citizens. Theognis and Peison, two of the Thirty, affirmed that many of these metics were hostile[p. 248] to the oligarchy, besides being opulent men; and the resolution was adopted that each of the rulers should single out any of these victims that he pleased, for execution and pillage; care being taken to include a few poor persons in the seizure, so that the real purpose of the spoilers might be faintly disguised.

It was in execution of this scheme that the orator Lysias and his brother Polemarchus were both taken into custody. Both were metics, wealthy men, and engaged in a manufactory of shields, wherein they employed a hundred and twenty slaves. Theognis and Peison, with some others, seized Lysias in his house, while entertaining some friends at dinner; and having driven away his guests, left him under the guard of Peison, while the attendants went off to register and appropriate his valuable slaves. Lysias tried to prevail on Peison to accept a bribe and let him escape; which the latter at first promised to do, and having thus obtained access to the money-chest of the prisoner, laid hands upon all its contents, amounting to between three and four talents. In vain did Lysias implore that a trifle might be left for his necessary subsistence; the only answer vouchsafed was, that he might think himself fortunate if he escaped with life. He was then conveyed to the house of a person named Damnippus, where Theognis already was, having other prisoners in charge. At the earnest entreaty of Lysias, Damnippus tried to induce Theognis to connive at his escape, on consideration of a handsome bribe; but while this conversation was going on, the prisoner availed himself of an unguarded moment to get off through the back door, which fortunately was open, together with two other doors through which it was necessary to pass. Having first obtained refuge in the house of a friend in Peiræus, he took boat during the ensuing night for Megara. Polemarchus, less fortunate, was seized in the street by Eratosthenês, one of the Thirty, and immediately lodged in the prison, where the fatal draught of hemlock was administered to him, without delay, without trial, and without liberty of defence. While his house was plundered of a large stock of gold, silver, furniture, and rich ornaments; while the golden earrings were torn from the ears of his wife; and while seven hundred shields, with a hundred and twenty slaves, were confiscated, together with the workshop and the two dwelling-houses; the Thirty would not allow even a decent funeral to the deceased, but[p. 249] caused his body to be carried away on a hired bier from the prison, with covering and a few scanty appurtenances supplied by the sympathy of private friends.[395]

Amidst such atrocities, increasing in number and turned more and more to shameless robbery, the party of Theramenês daily gained ground, even in the senate; many of whose members profited nothing by satiating the private cupidity of the Thirty, and began to be weary of so revolting a system, as well as alarmed at the host of enemies which they were raising up. In proposing the late seizure of the metics, the Thirty had desired Theramenês to make choice of any victim among that class, to be destroyed and plundered for his own personal benefit. But he rejected the suggestion emphatically, denouncing the enormity of the measure in the indignant terms which it deserved. So much was the antipathy of Kritias and the majority of the Thirty against him, already acrimonious from the effects of a long course of opposition, exasperated by this refusal; so much did they fear the consequences of incurring the obloquy of such measures for themselves, while Theramenês enjoyed all the credit of opposing them; so satisfied were they that their government could not stand with this dissension among its own members; that they resolved to destroy him at all cost. Having canvassed as many of the senators as they could, to persuade them that Theramenês was conspiring against the oligarchy, they caused the most daring of their satellites to attend one day in the senate-house, close to the railing which fenced in the senators, with daggers concealed under their garments. So soon as Theramenês appeared, Kritias rose and denounced him to the senate as a public enemy, in an harangue which Xenophon gives at considerable length, and which is so full of instructive evidence, as to Greek political feeling, that I here extract the main points in abridgment:—

“If any of you imagine, senators, that more people are perishing than the occasion requires, reflect, that this happens everywhere in a time of revolution, and that it must especially happen in the[p. 250] establishment of an oligarchy at Athens, the most populous city in Greece, and where the population has been longest accustomed to freedom. You know as well as we do, that democracy is to both of us an intolerable government, as well as incompatible with all steady adherence to our protectors, the Lacedæmonians. It is under their auspices that we are establishing the present oligarchy, and that we destroy, as far as we can, every man who stands in the way of it; which becomes most of all indispensable, if such a man be found among our own body. Here stands the man, Theramenês, whom we now denounce to you as your foe not less than ours. That such is the fact, is plain from his unmeasured censures on our proceedings, from the difficulties which he throws in our way whenever we want to despatch any of the demagogues. Had such been his policy from the beginning, he would indeed have been our enemy, yet we could not with justice have proclaimed him a villain. But it is he who first originated the alliance which binds us to Sparta, who struck the first blow at the democracy, who chiefly instigated us to put to death the first batch of accused persons; and now, when you as well as we have thus incurred the manifest hatred of the people, he turns round and quarrels with our proceedings in order to insure his own safety, and leave us to pay the penalty. He must be dealt with not only as an enemy, but as a traitor, to you as well as to us; a traitor in the grain, as his whole life proves. Though he enjoyed, through his father Agnon, a station of honor under the democracy, he was foremost in subverting it, and setting up the Four Hundred; the moment he saw that oligarchy beset with difficulties, he was the first to put himself at the head of the people against them; always ready for change in both directions, and a willing accomplice in those executions which changes of government bring with them. It is he, too, who—having been ordered by the generals after the battle of Arginusæ to pick up the men on the disabled ships, and having neglected the task—accused and brought to execution his superiors, in order to get himself out of danger. He has well earned his surname of The Buskin, fitting both legs, but constant to neither; he has shown himself reckless both of honor and friendship, looking to nothing but his own selfish advancement; and it is for us now to guard against his doublings, in order that he may not play us the same[p. 251] trick. We cite him before you as a conspirator and a traitor, against you as well as against us. Look to your own safety, and not to his. For depend upon it, that if you let him off, you will hold out powerful encouragement to your worst enemies; while if you condemn him, you will crush their best hopes, both within and without the city.”

Theramenês was probably not wholly unprepared for some such attack as this. At any rate, he rose up to reply to it at once:—

“First of all, senators, I shall touch upon the charge against me which Kritias mentioned last, the charge of having accused and brought to execution the generals. It was not I who began the accusation against them, but they who began it against me. They said, that they had ordered me upon the duty, and that I had neglected it; my defence was, that the duty could not be executed, in consequence of the storm; the people believed and exonerated me, but the generals were rightfully condemned on their own accusation, because they said that the duty might have been performed, while yet it had remained unperformed. I do not wonder, indeed, that Kritias has told these falsehoods against me; for at the time when this affair happened, he was an exile in Thessaly, employed in raising up a democracy, and arming the penestæ against their masters. Heaven grant that nothing of what he perpetrated there may occur at Athens! I agree with Kritias, indeed, that, whoever wishes to cut short your government, and strengthens those who conspire against you, deserves justly the severest punishment. But to whom does this charge best apply? To him, or to me? Look at the behavior of each of us, and then judge for yourselves. At first, we were all agreed, so far as the condemnation of the known and obnoxious demagogues. But when Kritias and his friends began to seize men of station and dignity, then it was that I began to oppose them. I knew that the seizure of men like Leon, Nikias, and Antiphon, would make the best men in the city your enemies. I opposed the execution of the metics, well aware that all that body would be alienated. I opposed the disarming of the citizens, and the hiring of foreign guards. And when I saw that enemies at home and exiles abroad were multiplying against you, I dissuaded you from banishing Thrasybulus and Anytus, whereby you only furnished the exiles with compe[p. 252]tent leaders. The man who gives you this advice, and gives it you openly, is he a traitor, or is he not rather a genuine friend? It is you and your supporters, Kritias, who, by your murders and robberies, strengthen the enemies of the government and betray your friends. Depend upon it, that Thrasybulus and Anytus are much better pleased with your policy than they would be with mine. You accuse me of having betrayed the Four Hundred; but I did not desert them until they were themselves on the point of betraying Athens to her enemies. You call me The Buskin, as trying to fit both parties. But what am I to call you, who fit neither of them? who, under the democracy, were the most violent hater of the people, and who, under the oligarchy, have become equally violent as a hater of oligarchical merit? I am, and always have been, Kritias, an enemy both to extreme democracy and to oligarchical tyranny. I desire to constitute our political community out of those who can serve it on horseback and with heavy armor; I have proposed this once, and I still stand to it. I side not either with democrats or despots, to the exclusion of the dignified citizens. Prove that I am now, or ever have been, guilty of such crime, and I shall confess myself deserving of ignominious death.”

This reply of Theramenês was received with such a shout of applause by the majority of the senate, as showed that they were resolved to acquit him. To the fierce antipathies of the mortified Kritias, the idea of failure was intolerable; indeed, he had now carried his hostility to such a point, that the acquittal of his enemy would have been his own ruin. After exchanging a few words with the Thirty, he retired for a few moments, and directed the Eleven with the body of armed satellites to press close on the railing whereby the senators were fenced round,—while the court before the senate-house was filled with the mercenary hoplites. Having thus got his force in hand, Kritias returned and again addressed the senate: “Senators (said he), I think it the duty of a good president, when he sees his friends around him duped, not to let them follow their own counsel. This is what I am now going to do; indeed, these men, whom you see pressing upon us from without, tell us plainly that they will not tolerate the acquittal of one manifestly working to the ruin of the oligarchy. It is an article of our new constitution, that no man of the select Three[p. 253] Thousand shall be condemned without your vote; but that any man not included in that list may be condemned by the Thirty. Now I take upon me, with the concurrence of all my colleagues, to strike this Theramenês out of that list; and we, by our authority, condemn him to death.”

Though Theramenês had already been twice concerned in putting down the democracy, yet such was the habit of all Athenians to look for protection from constitutional forms, that he probably accounted himself safe under the favorable verdict of the senate, and was not prepared for the monstrous and despotic sentence which he now heard from his enemy. He sprang at once to the senatorial hearth,—the altar and sanctuary in the interior of the senate-house,—and exclaimed: “I too, senators, stand as your suppliant, asking only for bare justice. Let it be not in the power of Kritias to strike out me or any other man whom he chooses; let my sentence as well as yours be passed according to the law which these Thirty have themselves prepared. I know but too well, that this altar will be of no avail to me as a defence; but I shall at least make it plain, that these men are as impious towards the gods as they are nefarious towards men. As for you, worthy senators, I wonder that you will not stand forward for your own personal safety; since you must be well aware, that your own names may be struck out of the Three Thousand just as easily as mine.”

But the senate remained passive and stupefied by fear, in spite of these moving words, which perhaps were not perfectly heard, since it could not be the design of Kritias to permit his enemy to speak a second time. It was probably while Theramenês was yet speaking, that the loud voice of the herald was heard, calling the Eleven to come forward and take him into custody. The Eleven advanced into the senate, headed by their brutal chief Satyrus, and followed by their usual attendants. They went straight up to the altar, from whence Satyrus, aided by the attendants, dragged him by main force, while Kritias said to them: “We hand over to you this man Theramenês, condemned according to the law. Seize him, carry him off to prison, and there do the needful.” Upon this, Theramenês was dragged out of the senate-house and carried in custody through the market-place, exclaiming with a loud voice against the atrocious treatment[p. 254] which he was suffering. “Hold your tongue (said Satyrus to him), or you will suffer for it.” “And if I do hold my tongue (replied Theramenês), shall not I suffer for it also?”

He was conveyed to prison, where the usual draught of hemlock was speedily administered. After he had swallowed it, there remained a drop at the bottom of the cup, which he jerked out on the floor (according to the playful convivial practice called the Kottabus, which was supposed to furnish an omen by its sound in falling, and after which the person who had just drank handed the goblet to the guest whose turn came next): “Let this (said he) be for the gentle Kritias.”[396]

The scene just described, which ended in the execution of Theramenês, is one of the most striking and tragical in ancient history; in spite of the bald and meagre way in which it is recounted by Xenophon, who has thrown all the interest into the two speeches. The atrocious injustice by which Theramenês perished, as well as the courage and self-possession which he displayed at the moment of danger, and his cheerfulness even in the prison, not inferior to that of Sokratês three years afterwards, naturally enlist the warmest sympathies of the reader in his favor, and have tended to exalt the positive estimation of his character. During the years immediately succeeding the restoration of the democracy,[397] he was extolled and pitied as one of the first martyrs to oligarchical violence: later authors went so far as to number him among the chosen pupils of Sokratês.[398] But[p. 255] though Theramenês here became the victim of a much worse man than himself, it will not for that reason be proper to accord to him our admiration, which his own conduct will not at all be found to deserve. The reproaches of Kritias against him, founded on his conduct during the previous conspiracy of the Four Hundred, were in the main well founded. After having been one of the foremost originators of that conspiracy, he deserted his comrades as soon as he saw that it was likely to fail; and Kritias had doubtless present to his mind the fate of Antiphon, who had been condemned and executed under the accusation of Theramenês, together with a reasonable conviction that the latter would again turn against his colleagues in the same manner, if circumstances should encourage him to do so. Nor was Kritias wrong in denouncing the perfidy of Theramenês with regard to the generals after the battle of Arginusæ, the death of whom he was partly instrumental in bringing about, though only as an auxiliary cause, and not with that extreme stretch of nefarious stratagem, which Xenophon and others have imputed to him. He was a selfish, cunning, and faithless man,—ready to enter into conspiracies, yet never foreseeing their consequences,—and breaking faith to the ruin of colleagues whom he had first encouraged, when he found them more consistent and thoroughgoing in crime than himself.[399]

Such high-handed violence, by Kritias and the majority of the Thirty,—carried though, even against a member of their own Board, by intimidation of the senate,—left a feeling of disgust and dissension among their own partisans from which their power never recovered. Its immediate effect, however, was to render them, apparently, and in their own estimation, more powerful than ever. All open manifestation of dissent being now silenced, they proceeded to the uttermost limits of cruel and licentious tyranny. They made proclamation, that every one not included in the list of Three Thousand, should depart without the[p. 256] walls, in order that they might be undisturbed masters within the city, a policy before resorted to by Periander of Corinth and other Grecian despots.[400] The numerous fugitives expelled by this order, distributed themselves partly in Peiræus, partly in the various demes of Attica. Both in one and the other, however, they were seized by order of the Thirty, and many of them put to death, in order that their substance and lands might be appropriated either by the Thirty themselves, or by some favored partisan.[401] The denunciations of Batrachus, Æschylidês, and other delators, became more numerous than ever, in order to obtain the seizure and execution of their private enemies; and the oligarchy were willing to purchase any new adherent by thus gratifying his antipathies or his rapacity.[402] The subsequent orators affirmed that more than fifteen hundred victims were put to death without trial by the Thirty;[403] on this numerical estimate little stress is to be laid, but the total was doubtless prodigious. It became more and more plain that no man was safe in Attica; so that Athenian emigrants, many in great poverty and destitution, were multiplied throughout the neighboring territories,—in Megara, Thebes, Orôpus, Chalkis, Argos, etc.[404] It was not everywhere that these distressed persons could obtain reception; for the Lacedæmonian government, at the instance of the Thirty, issued an edict prohibiting all the members of their confederacy from harboring fugitive Athenians; an edict which these cities generously disobeyed,[405] though probably the smaller Peloponnesian cities complied. Without doubt, this decree was[p. 257] procured by Lysander, while his influence still continued unimpaired.

But it was not only against the lives, properties, and liberties of Athenian citizens that the Thirty made war. They were not less solicitous to extinguish the intellectual force and education of the city; a project so perfectly in harmony both with the sentiment and practice of Sparta, that they counted on the support of their foreign allies. Among the ordinances which they promulgated was one, expressly forbidding every one[406] “to teach the art of words,” if I may be allowed to translate literally the Greek expression, which bore a most comprehensive signification, and denoted every intentional communication of logical, rhetorical, or argumentative improvement,—of literary criticism and composition,—and of command over those political and moral topics which formed the ordinary theme of discussion. Such was the species of instruction which Sokratês and other sophists, each in his own way, communicated to the Athenian youth. The great foreign sophists, not Athenian, such as Prodikus and Protagoras had been,—though perhaps neither of these two was now alive,—were doubtless no longer in the city, under the calamitous circumstances which had been weighing upon every citizen since the defeat of Ægospotami. But there were abundance of native teachers, or sophists, inferior in merit to these distinguished names, yet still habitually employed, with more or less success, in communicating a species of instruction held indispensable to every liberal Athenian. The edict of the Thirty was in fact a general suppression of the higher class[p. 258] of teachers or professors, above the rank of the elementary teacher of letters, or grammatist. If such an edict could have been maintained in force for a generation, combined with the other mandates of the Thirty, the city out of which Sophoklês and Euripidês had just died, and in which Plato and Isokratês were in vigorous age, the former twenty-five, the latter twenty-nine, would have been degraded to the intellectual level of the meanest community in Greece. It was not uncommon for a Grecian despot to suppress all those assemblies wherein youths came together for the purpose of common training, either intellectual or gymnastic; as well as the public banquets and clubs, or associations, as being dangerous to his authority, and tending to elevation of courage, and to a consciousness of political rights among the citizens.[407]

The enormities of the Thirty had provoked severe comments from the philosopher Sokratês, whose life was spent in conversation on instructive subjects with those young men who sought his society, though he never took money from any pupil. These comments had been made known to Kritias and Chariklês, who sent for him, reminded him of the prohibitive law, and peremptorily commanded him to abstain for the future from all conversation with youths. Sokratês met this order by putting some questions to those who gave it, in his usual style of puzzling scrutiny, destined to expose the vagueness of the terms; and to draw the line, or rather to show that no definite line could be drawn, between that which was permitted and that which was forbidden. But he soon perceived that his interrogations produced only a feeling of disgust and wrath, menacing to his own safety. The tyrants ended by repeating their interdict in yet more peremptory terms, and by giving Sokratês to understand, that they were not ignorant of the censures which he had cast upon them.[408]

Though our evidence does not enable us to make out the precise dates of these various oppressions of the Thirty, yet it seems probable that this prohibition of teaching must have been among their earlier enactments; at any rate, considerably anterior to the death of Theramenês, and the general expulsion out of the walls of all except the privileged Three Thousand. Their[p. 259] dominion continued, without any armed opposition made to it, for about eight months from the capture of Athens by Lysander, that is, from about April to December 404 B.C. The measure of their iniquity then became full. They had accumulated against themselves, both in Attica and among the exiles in the circumjacent territories, suffering and exasperated enemies, while they had lost the sympathy of Thebes, Megara, and Corinth, and were less heartily supported by Sparta.

During these important eight months, the general feeling throughout Greece had become materially different both towards Athens and towards Sparta. At the moment when the long war was first brought to a close, fear, antipathy, and vengeance against Athens, had been the reigning sentiment, both among the confederates of Sparta and among the revolted members of the extinct Athenian empire; a sentiment which prevailed among them indeed to a greater degree than among the Spartans themselves, who resisted it, and granted to Athens a capitulation at a time when many of their allies pressed for the harshest measures. To this resolution they were determined partly by the still remaining force of ancient sympathy; partly by the odium which would have been sure to follow the act of expelling the Athenian population, however it might be talked of beforehand as a meet punishment; partly too by the policy of Lysander, who contemplated the keeping of Athens in the same dependence on Sparta and on himself, and by the same means, as the other outlying cities in which he had planted his dekadarchies.

So soon as Athens was humbled, deprived of her fleet and walled port, and rendered innocuous, the great bond of common fear which had held the allies to Sparta disappeared; and while the paramount antipathy on the part of those allies towards Athens gradually died away, a sentiment of jealousy and apprehension of Sparta sprang up in its place, on the part of the leading states among them. For such a sentiment there was more than one reason. Lysander had brought home not only a large sum of money, but valuable spoils of other kinds, and many captive triremes, at the close of the war. As the success had been achieved by the joint exertions of all the allies, so the fruits of it belonged in equity to all of them jointly, not to Sparta alone. The Thebans and Corinthians preferred a formal claim to[p. 260] be allowed to share; and if the other allies abstained from openly backing the demand, we may fairly presume that it was not from any different construction of the equity of the case, but from fear of offending Sparta. In the testimonial erected by Lysander at Delphi, commemorative of the triumph, he had included not only his own brazen statue, but that of each commander of the allied contingents; thus formally admitting the allies to share in the honorary results, and tacitly sanctioning their claim to the lucrative results also. Nevertheless, the demand made by the Thebans and Corinthians was not only repelled, but almost resented as an insult; especially by Lysander, whose influence was at that moment almost omnipotent.[409]

That the Lacedæmonians should have withheld from the allies a share in this money, demonstrates still more the great ascendency of Lysander; because there was a considerable party at Sparta itself, who protested altogether against the reception of so much gold and silver, as contrary to the ordinances of Lykurgus, and fatal to the peculiar morality of Sparta. An ancient Spartan, Skiraphidas, or Phlogidas, took the lead in calling for exclusive adherence to the old Spartan money, heavy iron, difficult to carry; nor was it without difficulty that Lysander and his friends obtained admission for the treasure into Sparta; under special proviso, that it should be for the exclusive purposes of the government, and that no private citizen should ever circulate gold or silver.[410] The existence of such traditionary repugnance among the Spartans would have seemed likely to induce them to be just towards their allies, since an equitable distribution of the treasure would have gone far to remove the difficulty; yet they nevertheless kept it all.

[p. 261]

But besides this special offence given to the allies, the conduct of Sparta in other ways showed that she intended to turn the victory to her own account. Lysander was at this moment all-powerful, playing his own game under the name of Sparta. His position was far greater than that of the regent Pausanias had been after the victory of Platæa; and his talents for making use of the position incomparably superior. The magnitude of his successes, as well as the eminent ability which he had displayed, justified abundant eulogy; but in his case, the eulogy was carried to the length of something like worship. Altars were erected to him; pæans or hymns were composed in his honor; the Ephesians set up his statue in the temple of their goddess Artemis; and the Samians not only erected a statue to him at Olympia, but even altered the name of their great festival, the Heræa, to Lysandria.[411] Several contemporary poets—Antilochus, Chœrilus, Nikêratus, and Antimachus—devoted themselves to sing his glories and profit by his rewards.

Such excess of flattery was calculated to turn the head even of the most virtuous Greek: with Lysander, it had the effect of substituting, in place of that assumed smoothness of manner with which he began his command, an insulting harshness and arrogance corresponding to the really unmeasured ambition which he cherished.[412] His ambition prompted him to aggrandize Sparta separately, without any thought of her allies, in order to exercise dominion in her name. He had already established dekadarchies, or oligarchies of Ten, in many of the insular and Asiatic cities, and an oligarchy of Thirty in Athens; all composed of vehement partisans chosen by himself, dependent upon him for support, and devoted to his objects. To the eye of an impartial observer in Greece, it seemed as if all these cities had been converted into dependencies of Sparta, and were intended to be held in that condition; under Spartan authority, exercised by and through Lysander.[413] Instead of that general freedom which had been[p. 262] promised as an incentive to revolt against Athens, a Spartan empire had been constituted in place of the extinct Athenian, with a tribute, amounting to a thousand talents annually, intended to be assessed upon the component cities and islands.[414] Such at least was the scheme of Lysander, though it never reached complete execution.

It is easy to see that under such a state of feeling on the part of the allies of Sparta, the enormities perpetrated by the Thirty at Athens and by the Lysandrian dekadarchies in the other cities, would be heard with sympathy for the sufferers, and without that strong anti-Athenian sentiment which had reigned a few months before. But what was of still greater importance, even at Sparta itself, opposition began to spring up against the measures and the person of Lysander. If the leading men at Sparta had felt jealous even of Brasidas, who offended them only by unparalleled success and merit as a commander,[415] much more would the same feeling be aroused against Lysander, who displayed an overweening insolence, and was worshipped with an ostentatious flattery, not inferior to that of Pausanias after the battle of Platæa. Another Pausanias, son of Pleistoanax, was now king of Sparta, in conjunction with Agis. Upon him the feeling of jealousy against Lysander told with especial force, as it did afterwards upon Agesilaus, the successor of Agis; not unaccompanied probably with suspicion, which subsequent events justified, that Lysander was aiming at some interference with the regal privileges. Nor is it unfair to suppose that Pausanias was animated by motives more patriotic than mere jealousy, and that the rapacious cruelty, which everywhere dishonored the new oligarchies, both shocked his better feelings and inspired him with fears for the stability of the system. A farther circumstance which weakened the influence[p. 263] of Lysander at Sparta was the annual change of ephors, which took place about the end of September or beginning of October. Those ephors under whom his grand success and the capture of Athens had been consummated, and who had lent themselves entirely to his views, passed out of office in September 404 B.C., and gave place to others more disposed to second Pausanias.

I remarked, in the preceding chapter, how much more honorable for Sparta, and how much less unfortunate for Athens and for the rest of Greece, the close of the Peloponnesian war would have been, if Kallikratidas had gained and survived the battle of Arginusæ, so as to close it then, and to acquire for himself that personal ascendency which the victorious general was sure to exercise over the numerous rearrangements consequent on peace. We see how important the personal character of the general so placed was, when we follow the proceedings of Lysander during the year after the battle of Ægospotami. His personal views were the grand determining circumstance throughout Greece; regulating both the measures of Sparta, and the fate of the conquered cities. Throughout the latter, rapacious and cruel oligarchies were organized,—of Ten in most cities, but of Thirty in Athens,—all acting under the power and protection of Sparta, but in real subordination to his ambition. Because he happened to be under the influence of a selfish thirst for power, the measures of Sparta were divested not merely of all Pan-Hellenic spirit, but even, to a great degree, of reference to her own confederates, and concentrated upon the acquisition of imperial preponderance for herself. Now if Kallikratidas had been the ascendent person at this critical juncture, not only such narrow and baneful impulses would have been comparatively inoperative, but the leading state would have been made to set the example of recommending, of organizing, and if necessary, of enforcing arrangements favorable to Pan-Hellenic brotherhood. Kallikratidas would not only have refused to lend himself to dekadarchies governing by his force and for his purposes, in the subordinate cities, but he would have discountenanced such conspiracies, wherever they tended to arise spontaneously. No ruffian like Kritias, no crafty schemer like Theramenês, would have reckoned upon his aid as they presumed upon the friendship of Lysander. Probably he would have left the government of each city to its[p. 264] own natural tendencies, oligarchical or democratical; interfering only in special cases of actual and pronounced necessity. Now the influence of an ascendent state, employed for such purposes, and emphatically discarding all private ends for the accomplishment of a stable Pan-Hellenic sentiment and fraternity; employed too thus, at a moment when so many of the Greek towns were in the throes of reorganization, having to take up a new political course in reference to the altered circumstances, is an element of which the force could hardly have failed to be prodigious as well as beneficial. What degree of positive good might have been wrought, by a noble-minded victor under such special circumstances, we cannot presume to affirm in detail. But it would have been no mean advantage, to have preserved Greece from beholding and feeling such enormous powers in the hands of a man like Lysander; through whose management the worst tendencies of an imperial city were studiously magnified by the exorbitance of individual ambition. It was to him exclusively that the Thirty in Athens, and the dekadarchies elsewhere, owed both their existence and their means of oppression.

It has been necessary thus to explain the general changes which had gone on in Greece and in Grecian feeling during the eight months succeeding the capture of Athens in March 404 B.C., in order that we may understand the position of the Thirty oligarchs, or Tyrants, at Athens, and of the Athenian population both in Attica and in exile, about the beginning of December in the same year, the period which we have now reached. We see how it was that Thebes, Corinth, and Megara, who in March had been the bitterest enemies of the Athenians, had now become alienated both from Sparta and from the Lysandrian Thirty, whom they viewed as viceroys of Athens for separate Spartan benefit. We see how the basis was thus laid of sympathy for the suffering exiles who fled from Attica; a feeling which the recital of the endless enormities perpetrated by Kritias and his colleagues inflamed every day more and more. We discern at the same time how the Thirty, while thus incurring enmity both in and out of Attica, were at the same time losing the hearty support of Sparta, from the decline of Lysander’s influence, and the growing opposition of his rivals at home.

In spite of formal prohibition from Sparta, obtained doubtless[p. 265] under the influence of Lysander, the Athenian emigrants had obtained shelter in all the states bordering on Attica. It was from Bœotia that they struck the first blow. Thrasybulus, Anytus, and Archinus, starting from Thebes with the sympathy of the Theban public, and with substantial aid from Ismenias and other wealthy citizens,—at the head of a small band of exiles stated variously at thirty, sixty, seventy, or somewhat above one hundred men,[416]—seized Phylê, a frontier fortress in the mountains north of Attica, lying on the direct road between Athens and Thebes. Probably it had no garrison; for the Thirty, acting in the interest of Lacedæmonian predominance, had dismantled all the outlying fortresses in Attica;[417] so that Thrasybulus accomplished his purpose without resistance. The Thirty marched out from Athens to attack him, at the head of a powerful force, comprising the Lacedæmonian hoplites who formed their guard, the Three Thousand privileged citizens, and all the knights, or horsemen. Probably the small company of Thrasybulus was reinforced by fresh accessions of exiles, as soon as he was known to have occupied the fort. For by the time that the Thirty with their assailing force arrived, he was in condition to repel a vigorous assault made by the younger soldiers, with considerable loss to the aggressors.

Disappointed in this direct attack, the Thirty laid plans for blockading Phylê, where they knew that there was no stock of provisions. But hardly had their operations commenced, when a snow-storm fell, so abundant and violent, that they were forced to abandon their position and retire to Athens, leaving much of their baggage in the hands of the garrison at Phylê. In the language of Thrasybulus, this storm was characterized as providential, since the weather had been very fine until the moment preceding, and since it gave time to receive reinforcements which[p. 266] made him seven hundred strong.[418] Though the weather was such that the Thirty did not choose to keep their main force in the neighborhood of Phylê, and perhaps the Three Thousand themselves were not sufficiently hearty in the cause to allow it, yet they sent their Lacedæmonians and two tribes of Athenian horsemen to restrain the excursions of the garrison. This body Thrasybulus contrived to attack by surprise. Descending from Phylê by night, he halted within a quarter of a mile of their position until a little before daybreak, when the night-watch had just broken up,[419] and when the grooms were making a noise in rubbing down the horses. Just at that moment, the hoplites from Phylê rushed upon them at a running pace, found every man unprepared, and some even in their beds, and dispersed them with scarcely any resistance. One hundred and twenty hoplites and a few horsemen were slain, while abundance of arms and stores were captured and carried back to Phylê in triumph.[420] News of the defeat was speedily conveyed to the city, from whence the remaining horsemen immediately came forth to the rescue, but could do nothing more than protect the carrying off of the dead.

This successful engagement sensibly changed the relative situation of parties in Attica; encouraging the exiles as much as it depressed the Thirty. Even among the partisans of the latter at Athens, dissension began to arise; the minority which had sympathized with Theramenês, as well as that portion of the Three Thousand who were least compromised as accomplices in the recent enormities, began to waver so manifestly in their allegiance, that Kritias and his colleagues felt some doubt of being able to maintain themselves in the city. They resolved to secure Eleusis and the island of Salamis, as places of safety and resource in case of being compelled to evacuate Athens. They accordingly went to Eleusis with a considerable number of[p. 267] the Athenian horsemen, under pretence of examining into the strength of the place and the number of its defenders, so as to determine what amount of farther garrison would be necessary. All the Eleusinians disposed and qualified for armed service, were ordered to come in person and give in their names to the Thirty,[421] in a building having its postern opening on to the sea-beach; along which were posted the horsemen and the attendants from Athens. Each Eleusinian hoplite, after having presented himself and returned his name to the Thirty, was ordered to pass out through this exit, where each man successively found himself in the power of the horsemen, and was fettered by the attendants. Lysimachus, the hipparch, or commander of the horsemen, was directed to convey all these prisoners to Athens, and hand them over to the custody of the Eleven.[422] Having thus seized and carried away from Eleusis every citizen whose sentiments or whose energy they suspected, and having left a force of their own adherents in the place, the Thirty returned to Athens. At the same time, it appears, a similar visit and seizure of prisoners was made by some of them in Salamis.[423] On the next day, they convoked at Athens all their Three Thousand privileged hoplites—together with all the remaining horsemen who had not been employed at Eleusis or Salamis—in the Odeon, half of which was occupied by the Lacedæmonian garrison all under arms. “Gentlemen (said Kritias, addressing his countrymen), we keep up the government not less for your benefit than for our own. You must therefore share with us in the danger, as well as in the honor, of our position. Here are these Eleusinian prisoners awaiting sentence; you must pass a vote condemning them all to death, in order that your hopes and fears may be identified with ours.” He then[p. 268] pointed to a spot immediately before him and in his view, directing each man to deposit upon it his pebble of condemnation visibly to every one.[424] I have before remarked that at Athens, open voting was well known to be the same thing as voting under constraint; there was no security for free and genuine suffrage except by making it secret as well as numerous. Kritias was obeyed, without reserve or exception; probably any dissentient would have been put to death on the spot. All the prisoners, seemingly three hundred in number,[425] were condemned by the same vote, and executed forthwith.

Though this atrocity gave additional satisfaction and confidence to the most violent friends of Kritias, it probably alienated a greater number of others, and weakened the Thirty instead of strengthening them. It contributed in part, we can hardly doubt, to the bold and decisive resolution now taken by Thrasybulus, five days after his late success, of marching by night from Phylê to Peiræus.[426] His force, though somewhat increased, was still no more than one thousand men; altogether inadequate by itself to any considerable enterprise, had he not counted on positive support and junction from fresh comrades, together with a still greater amount of negative support from disgust or indifference towards the Thirty. He was indeed speedily joined by many sympathizing countrymen; but few of them, since the general disarming manœuvre of the oligarchs, had heavy armor. Some had light shields and darts, but others were wholly unarmed, and could merely serve as throwers of stones.[427]

Peiræus was at this moment an open town, deprived of its fortifications as well as of those Long Walls which had so long connected it with Athens. It was however of large compass, and required an ampler force to defend it than Thrasybulus could[p. 269] muster. Accordingly, when the Thirty marched out of Athens the next morning to attack him, with their full force of Athenian hoplites and horsemen, and with the Lacedæmonian garrison besides, he in vain attempted to maintain against them the great carriage-road which led down to Peiræus. He was compelled to concentrate his forces in Munychia, the easternmost portion of the aggregate called Peiræus, nearest to the bay of Phalêrum, and comprising one of those three ports which had once sustained the naval power of Athens. Thrasybulus occupied the temple of Artemis Munychia, and the adjoining Bendideion, situated in the midst of Munychia, and accessible only by a street of steep ascent. In the rear of his hoplites, whose files were ten deep, were posted the darters and slingers: the ascent being so steep that these latter could cast their missiles over the heads of the hoplites in their front. Presently Kritias and the Thirty, having first mustered in the market-place of Peiræus, called the Hippodamian agora, were seen approaching with their superior numbers; mounting the hill in close array, with hoplites not less than fifty in depth. Thrasybulus, after an animated exhortation to his soldiers, in which he reminded them of the wrongs which they had to avenge, and dwelt upon the advantages of their position, which exposed the close ranks of the enemy to the destructive effect of missiles, and would force them to crouch under their shields so as to be unable to resist a charge with the spear in front, waited patiently until they came within distance, standing in the foremost rank with the prophet—habitually consulted before a battle—by his side. The latter, a brave and devoted patriot, while promising victory, had exhorted his comrades not to charge until some one on their own side should be slain or wounded: he at the same time predicted his own death in the conflict. When the troops of the Thirty advanced near enough in ascending the hill, the light-armed in the rear of Thrasybulus poured upon them a shower of darts over the heads of their own hoplites, with considerable effect. As they seemed to waver, seeking to cover themselves with their shields, and thus not seeing well before them, the prophet, himself seemingly in arms, set the example of rushing forward, was the first to close with the enemy, and perished in the onset. Thrasybulus with the main body of hoplites followed him, charged vigorously down[p. 270] the hill, and after a smart resistance, drove them back in disorder, with the loss of seventy men. What was of still greater moment, Kritias and Hippomachus, who headed their troops on the left, were among the slain; together with Charmidês son of Glaukon, one of the ten oligarchs who had been placed to manage Peiræus.[428]

This great and important advantage left the troops of Thrasybulus in possession of seventy of the enemy’s dead, whom they stripped of their arms, but not of their clothing, in token of respect for fellow-countrymen.[429] So disheartened, lukewarm, and disunited were the hoplites of the Thirty, in spite of their great superiority of number, that they sent to solicit the usual truce for burying the dead. This was of course granted, and the two contending parties became intermingled with each other in the performance of the funeral duties. Amidst so impressive a scene, their common feelings as Athenians and fellow-countrymen were forcibly brought back, and many friendly observations were interchanged among them. Kleokritus—herald of the mysts, or communicants in the Eleusinian mysteries, belonging to one of the most respected gentes in the state—was among the exiles. His voice was peculiarly loud, and the function which he held enabled him to obtain silence while he addressed to the citizens serving with the Thirty a touching and emphatic remonstrance: “Why are you thus driving us into banishment, fellow-citizens? Why are you seeking to kill us? We have never done you the least harm; we have partaken with you in religious rites and festivals; we have been your companions in chorus, in school, and in army; we have braved a thousand dangers with you, by land and sea, in defence of our common safety and freedom. I adjure you by our common gods, paternal and maternal, by our common kindred and companionship, desist from thus wronging your country in obedience to these nefarious Thirty, who have slain as many citizens in eight months, for their own private gains, as the Peloponnesians in ten years of war. These are the men who have plunged us into wicked and odious war one against another, when we might live together in peace. Be assured that your slain in this battle have cost us as many tears as they have cost you.”[430]

[p. 271]

Such affecting appeals, proceeding from a man of respected station like Kleokritus, and doubtless from others also, began to work so sensibly on the minds of the citizens from Athens, that the Thirty were obliged to give orders for immediately returning, which Thrasybulus did not attempt to prevent, though it might have been in his power to do so.[431] But their ascendency had received a shock from which it never fully recovered. On the next day they appeared downcast and dispirited in the senate, which was itself thinly attended; while the privileged Three Thousand, marshalled in different companies on guard, were everywhere in discord and partial mutiny. Those among them who had been most compromised in the crimes of the Thirty, were strenuous in upholding the existing authority; while such as had been less guilty protested against the continuance of such unholy war, and declared that the Thirty should not be permitted to bring Athens to utter ruin. And though the horsemen still continued steadfast partisans, resolutely opposing all accommodation with the exiles,[432] yet the Thirty were farther weakened by the death of Kritias, the ascendent and decisive head, and at the same time the most cruel and unprincipled among them; while that party, both in the senate and out of it, which had formerly adhered to Theramenês, now again raised its head. A public meeting among them was held, in which what may be called the opposition-party among the Thirty, that which had opposed the extreme enormities of Kritias, became predominant. It was determined to depose the Thirty, and to constitute a fresh oligarchy of Ten, one from each tribe.[433] But the members of the Thirty were individually reëligible; so that two of them, Eratosthenês and Pheidon, if not more, adherents of Theramenês and unfriendly to Kritias and Chariklês,[434] with others of the same vein of sentiment, were chosen among the Ten. Chariklês and the more violent members, having thus lost their ascendency, no longer deemed themselves safe at Athens, but retired to Eleusis, which they had had the precaution to occupy beforehand. Prob[p. 272]ably a number of their partisans, and the Lacedæmonian garrison also, retired thither along with them.

The nomination of this new oligarchy of Ten was plainly a compromise, adopted by some from sincere disgust at the oligarchical system, and desire to come to accommodation with the exiles; by others, from a conviction that the only way of maintaining the oligarchical system, and repelling the exiles, was to constitute a new oligarchical Board, dismissing that which had become obnoxious. The latter was the purpose of the horsemen, the main upholders of the first Board as well as of the second; and such also was soon seen to be the policy of Eratosthenês and his colleagues. Instead of attempting to agree upon terms of accommodation with the exiles in Peiræus generally, they merely tried to corrupt separately Thrasybulus and the leaders, offering to admit ten of them to a share of the oligarchical power at Athens, provided they would betray their party. This offer having been indignantly refused, the war was again resumed between Athens and Peiræus, to the bitter disappointment, not less of the exiles than of that portion of the Athenians who had hoped better things from the new Board of Ten.[435]

But the forces of oligarchy were seriously enfeebled at Athens,[436] as well by the secession of all the more violent spirits to Eleusis, as by the mistrust, discord, and disaffection which now reigned within the city. Far from being able to abuse power like their predecessors, the Ten did not even fully confide in their three thousand hoplites, but were obliged to take measures for the defence of the city in conjunction with the hipparch and the horsemen, who did double duty,—on horseback in the day-time, and as hoplites with their shields along the walls at night, for fear of surprise,—employing the Odeon as their head-quarters. The Ten sent envoys to Sparta to solicit farther aid; while the Thirty sent envoys thither also, from Eleusis, for the same purpose; both representing that the Athenian people had revolted from Sparta, and required farther force to reconquer them.[437]

[p. 273]

Such foreign aid became daily more necessary to them, since the forces of Thrasybulus in Peiræus grew stronger, before their eyes, in numbers, in arms, and in hope of success; exerting themselves, with successful energy, to procure additional arms and shields, though some of the shields, indeed, were no better than wood-work or wicker-work whitened over.[438] Many exiles flocked in to their aid, while others sent donations of money or arms: among the latter, the orator Lysias stood conspicuous, transmitting to Peiræus a present of two hundred shields as well as two thousand drachms in money, and hiring besides three hundred fresh soldiers; while his friend Thrasydæus, the leader of the democratical interest at Elis, was induced to furnish a loan of two talents.[439] Others also lent money; some Bœotians furnished two talents, and a person named Gelarchus contributed the large sum of five talents, repaid in after times by the people.[440] Proclamation was made by Thrasybulus, that all metics who would lend aid should be put on the footing of isotely, or equal payment of taxes with citizens, exempt from the metic-tax and other special burdens. Within a short time he had got together a considerable force both in heavy-armed and light-armed, and even seventy horsemen; so that he was in condition to make excursions out of Peiræus, and to collect wood and provisions. Nor did the Ten venture to make any aggressive movement out of Athens, except so far as to send out the horsemen, who slew or captured stragglers from the force of Thrasybulus. Lysimachus the hipparch, the same who had commanded under the Thirty at the seizure of the Eleusinian citizens, having made prisoners some young Athenians, bringing in provisions from the country for the consumption of the troops in Peiræus, put them to death, in spite of remonstrances from several even of his own men; for which cruelty Thrasybulus retaliated, by putting to death a horseman named[p. 274] Kallistratus, made prisoner in one of their marches to the neighboring villages.[441]

In the established civil war which now raged in Attica, Thrasybulus and the exiles in Peiræus had decidedly the advantage; maintaining the offensive, while the Ten in Athens, and the remainder of the Thirty at Eleusis, were each thrown upon their defence. The division of the oligarchical force into these two sections doubtless weakened both, while the democrats in Peiræus were hearty and united. Presently, however, the arrival of a Spartan auxiliary force altered the balance of parties. Lysander, whom the oligarchical envoys had expressly requested to be sent to them as general, prevailed with the ephors to grant their request. While he himself went to Eleusis and got together a Peloponnesian land-force, his brother Libys conducted a fleet of forty triremes to block up Peiræus, and one hundred talents were lent to the Athenian oligarchs out of the large sum recently brought from Asia into the Spartan treasury.[442]

The arrival of Lysander brought the two sections of oligarchs in Attica again into coöperation, restrained the progress of Thrasybulus, and even reduced Peiræus to great straits by preventing all entry of ships or stores. Nor could anything have prevented it from being reduced to surrender, if Lysander had been allowed free scope in his operations. But the general sentiment of Greece had by this time become disgusted with his ambitious policy, and with the oligarchies which he had everywhere set up as his instruments; a sentiment not without influence on the feelings of the leading Spartans, who, already jealous of his ascendency, were determined not to increase it farther by allowing him to conquer Attica a second time, in order to plant his own creatures as rulers at Athens.[443]

[p. 275]

Under the influence of these feelings, king Pausanias obtained the consent of three out of the five ephors to undertake himself an expedition into Attica, at the head of the forces of the confederacy, for which he immediately issued proclamation. Opposed to the political tendencies of Lysander, he was somewhat inclined to sympathize with the democracy, not merely at Athens, but elsewhere also, as at Mantineia.[444] It was probably understood that his intentions towards Athens were lenient and anti-Lysandrian, so that the Peloponnesian allies obeyed the summons generally: yet the Bœotians and Corinthians still declined, on the ground that Athens had done nothing to violate the late convention; a remarkable proof of the altered feelings of Greece during the last year, since, down to the period of that convention, these two states had been more bitterly hostile to Athens than any others in the confederacy. They suspected that even the expedition of Pausanias was projected with selfish Lacedæmonian views, to secure Attica as a separate dependency of Sparta, though detached from Lysander.[445]

On approaching Athens, Pausanias, joined by Lysander and the forces already in Attica, encamped in the garden of the Academy, near the city gates. His sentiments were sufficiently known beforehand to offer encouragement; so that the vehement reaction against the atrocities of the Thirty, which the presence of Lysander had doubtless stifled, burst forth without delay. The surviving relatives of the victims slain beset him even at the Academy in his camp, with prayers for protection and cries of vengeance against the oligarchs. Among those victims, as I have already stated, were Nikêratus the son, and Eukratês the brother, of Nikias who had perished at Syracuse, the friend and proxenus of Sparta at Athens. The orphan children, both of Nikêratus and Eukratês, were taken to Pausanias by their relative Diognêtus, who implored his protection for them, recounting at the same time the unmerited execution of their respective fathers, and setting forth their family claims upon the justice of Sparta. This affecting incident, which has been specially made known to us,[446] doubtless did not stand alone, among so many[p. 276] families suffering from the same cause. Pausanias was furnished at once with ample grounds, not merely for repudiating the Thirty altogether, and sending back the presents which they tendered to him,[447] but even for refusing to identify himself unreservedly with the new oligarchy of Ten which had risen upon their ruins. The voice of complaint—now for the first time set free, with some hopes of redress—must have been violent and unmeasured, after such a career as that of Kritias and his colleagues; while the fact was now fully manifested, which could not well have come forth into evidence before, that the persons despoiled and murdered had been chiefly opulent men, and very frequently even oligarchical men, not politicians of the former democracy. Both Pausanias, and the Lacedæmonians along with him, on reaching Athens, must have been strongly affected by the facts which they learned, and by the loud cry for sympathy and redress which poured upon them from the most innocent and respected families. The predisposition both of the king and the ephors against the policy of Lysander was materially strengthened, as well as their inclination to bring about an accommodation of parties, instead of upholding by foreign force an anti-popular Few.

Such convictions would become farther confirmed as Pausanias saw and heard more of the real state of affairs. At first, he held a language decidedly adverse to Thrasybulus and the exiles, sending to them a herald, and requiring them to disband and go to their respective homes.[448] The requisition not being obeyed, he made a faint attack upon Peiræus, which had no effect. Next day he marched down with two Lacedæmonian moræ, or large military divisions, and three tribes of the Athenian horsemen, to reconnoitre the place, and see where a line of blockade could be drawn. Some light troops annoyed him, but his troops repulsed[p. 277] them, and pursued them even as far as the theatre of Peiræus, where all the forces of Thrasybulus were mustered, heavy-armed, as well as light-armed. The Lacedæmonians were here in a disadvantageous position, probably in the midst of houses and streets, so that all the light-armed of Thrasybulus were enabled to set upon them furiously from different sides, and drive them out again with loss, two of the Spartan polemarchs being here slain. Pausanias was obliged to retreat to a little eminence about half a mile off, where he mustered his whole force, and formed his hoplites into a very deep phalanx. Thrasybulus on his side was so encouraged by the recent success of his light-armed, that he ventured to bring out his heavy-armed, only eight deep, to an equal conflict on the open ground. But he was here completely worsted, and driven back into Peiræus with the loss of one hundred and fifty men; so that the Spartan king was able to retire to Athens after a victory, and a trophy erected to commemorate it.[449]

The issue of this battle was one extremely fortunate for Thrasybulus and his comrades; since it left the honors of the day with Pausanias, so as to avoid provoking enmity or vengeance on his part, while it showed plainly that the conquest of Peiræus, defended by so much courage and military efficiency, would be no easy matter. It disposed Pausanias still farther towards an accommodation; strengthening also the force of that party in Athens which was favorable to the same object, and adverse to the Ten oligarchs. This opposition-party found decided favor with the Spartan king, as well as with the ephor Naukleidas, who was present along with him. Numbers of Athenians, even among those Three Thousand by whom the city was now exclusively occupied, came forward to deprecate farther war with Peiræus, and to entreat that Pausanias would settle the quarrel so as to leave them all at amity with Lacedæmon. Xenophon, indeed, according to that narrow and partial spirit which pervades his Hellenica, notices no sentiment in Pausanias except his jealousy of Lysander, and treats the opposition against the Ten at Athens as having been got up by his intrigues.[450] But it seems[p. 278] plain that this is not a correct account. Pausanias did not create the discord, but found it already existing, and had to choose which of the parties he would adopt. The Ten took up the oligarchical game after it had been thoroughly dishonored and ruined by the Thirty: they inspired no confidence, nor had they any hold upon the citizens in Athens, except in so far as these latter dreaded reactionary violence, in case Thrasybulus and his companions should reënter by force; accordingly, when Pausanias was there at the head of a force competent to prevent such dangerous reaction, the citizens at once manifested their dispositions against the Ten, and favorable to peace with Peiræus. To second this pacific party was at once the easiest course for Pausanias to take, and the most likely to popularize Sparta in Greece; whereas, he would surely have entailed upon her still more bitter curses from without, not to mention the loss of men to herself, if he had employed the amount of force requisite to uphold the Ten, and subdue Peiræus. To all this we have to add his jealousy of Lysander, as an important predisposing motive, but only as auxiliary among many others.

Under such a state of facts, it is not surprising to learn that Pausanias encouraged solicitations for peace from Thrasybulus and the exiles, and that he granted them a truce to enable them to send envoys to Sparta. Along with these envoys went Kephisophon and Melitus, sent for the same purpose of entreating peace, by the party opposed to the Ten at Athens, under the sanction both of Pausanias and of the accompanying ephors. On the other hand, the Ten, finding themselves discountenanced by Pausanias, sent envoys of their own to outbid the others. They tendered themselves, their walls, and their city, to be dealt with as the Lacedæmonians chose; requiring that Thrasybulus, if he pretended to be the friend of Sparta, should make the same unqualified surrender of Peiræus and Munychia. All the three sets of envoys were heard before the ephors remaining at Sparta and the Lacedæmonian assembly; who took the best resolution which the case admitted, to bring to pass an amicable settlement between Athens and Peiræus, and to leave the terms to be fixed by fifteen commissioners, who were sent thither forthwith to sit in conjunction with Pausanias. This Board determined, that the exiles in Peiræus should be readmitted to Athens, that an accommodation[p. 279] should take place, and that no man should be molested for past acts, except the Thirty, the Eleven (who had been the instruments of all executions), and the Ten who had governed in Peiræus. But Eleusis was recognized as a government separate from Athens, and left, as it already was, in possession of the Thirty and their coadjutors, to serve as a refuge for all those who might feel their future safety compromised at Athens in consequence of their past conduct.[451]

As soon as these terms were proclaimed, accepted, and sworn to by all parties, Pausanias with all the Lacedæmonians evacuated Attica. Thrasybulus and the exiles marched up in solemn procession from Peiræus to Athens. Their first act was to go up to the acropolis, now relieved from its Lacedæmonian garrison, and there to offer sacrifice and thanksgiving. On descending from thence, a general assembly was held, in which—unanimously and without opposition, as it should seem—the democracy was restored. The government of the Ten, which could have no basis except the sword of the foreigner, disappeared as a matter of course; but Thrasybulus, while he strenuously enforced upon his comrades from Peiræus a full respect for the oaths which they had sworn, and an unreserved harmony with their newly acquired fellow-citizens, admonished the assembly emphatically as to the past events. “You city-men (he said), I advise you to take just measure of yourselves for the future; and to calculate fairly, what ground of superiority you have, so as to pretend to rule over us? Are you juster than we? Why the demos, though poorer than you, never at any time wronged you for purposes of plunder; while you, the wealthiest of all, have done many base deeds for the sake of gain. Since then you have no justice to boast of, are you superior to us on the score of courage? There cannot be a better trial, than the war which has just ended. Again, can you pretend to be superior in policy? you, who, having a fortified city, an armed force, plenty of money, and the Peloponnesians for your allies, have been overcome by men who had nothing of the kind to aid them? Can you boast of your hold over the Lacedæmonians? Why, they have just handed you over, like a vicious dog with a clog tied to him, to the very demos[p. 280] whom you have wronged, and are now gone out of the country. But you have no cause to be uneasy for the future. I adjure you, my friends from Peiræus, in no point to violate the oaths which we have just sworn. Show, in addition to your other glorious exploits, that you are honest and true to your engagements.”[452]

The archons, the senate of Five Hundred, the public assembly, and the dikasteries, appear to have been now revived, as they had stood in the democracy prior to the capture of the city by Lysander. This important restoration seems to have taken place some time in the spring of 403 B.C., though we cannot exactly make out in what month. The first archon now drawn was Eukleidês, who gave his name to this memorable year; a year never afterwards forgotten by Athenians.

Eleusis was at this time, and pursuant to the late convention, a city independent and separate from Athens, under the government of the Thirty, and comprising their warmest partisans. It was not likely that this separation would last; but the Thirty were themselves the parties to give cause for its termination. They were getting together a mercenary force at Eleusis, when the whole force of Athens was marched to forestall their designs. The generals at Eleusis came forth to demand a conference, but were seized and put to death; the Thirty themselves, and a few of the most obnoxious individuals, fled out of Attica; while the rest of the Eleusinian occupants were persuaded by their friends from Athens to come to an equal and honorable accommodation. Again Eleusis became incorporated in the same community with Athens, oaths of mutual amnesty and harmony being sworn by every one.[453]

We have now passed that short, but bitter and sanguinary interval, occupied by the Thirty, which succeeded so immediately upon the extinction of the empire and independence of Athens[p. 281] as to leave no opportunity for pause or reflection. A few words respecting the rise and fall of that empire are now required, summing up as it were the political moral of the events recorded in my last two volumes, between 477 and 405 B.C.

I related, in the forty-fifth chapter, the steps by which Athens first acquired her empire, raised it to its maximum, including both maritime and inland dominion, then lost the inland portion of it; which loss was ratified by the Thirty Years Truce concluded with Sparta and the Peloponnesian confederacy in 445 B.C. Her maritime empire was based upon the confederacy of Delos, formed by the islands in the Ægean and the towns on the seaboard immediately after the battles of Platæa and Mykalê, for the purpose not merely of expelling the Persians from the Ægean, but of keeping them away permanently. To the accomplishment of this important object, Sparta was altogether inadequate; nor would it ever have been accomplished, if Athens had not displayed a combination of military energy, naval discipline, power of organization, and honorable devotion to a great Pan-Hellenic purpose, such as had never been witnessed in Grecian history.

The confederacy of Delos was formed by the free and spontaneous association of many different towns, all alike independent; towns which met in synod and deliberated by equal vote, took by their majority resolutions binding upon all, and chose Athens as their chief to enforce these resolutions, as well as to superintend generally the war against the common enemy. But it was, from the beginning, a compact which permanently bound each individual state to the remainder. None had liberty either to recede, or to withhold the contingent imposed by authority of the common synod, or to take any separate step inconsistent with its obligations to the confederacy. No union less stringent than this could have prevented the renewal of Persian ascendency in the Ægean. Seceding or disobedient states were thus treated as guilty of treason or revolt, which it was the duty of Athens, as chief, to repress. Her first repressions, against Naxos and other states, were undertaken in prosecution of this duty, in which if she had been wanting, the confederacy would have fallen to pieces, and the common enemy would have reappeared.

Now the only way by which the confederacy was saved from falling to pieces, was by being transformed into an Athenian[p. 282] empire. Such transformation, as Thucydidês plainly intimates,[454] did not arise from the ambition or deep-laid projects of Athens, but from the reluctance of the larger confederates to discharge the obligations imposed by the common synod, and from the unwarlike character of the confederates generally, which made them desirous to commute military service for money-payment, while Athens on her part was not less anxious to perform the service and obtain the money. By gradual and unforeseen stages, Athens thus passed from consulate to empire: in such manner that no one could point out the precise moment of time when the confederacy of Delos ceased, and when the empire began. Even the transfer of the common fund from Delos to Athens, which was the palpable manifestation of a change already realized, was not an act of high-handed injustice in the Athenians, but warranted by prudential views of the existing state of affairs, and even proposed by a leading member of the confederacy.[455]

But the Athenian empire came to include (between 460-446 B.C.) other cities, not parties to the confederacy of Delos. Athens had conquered her ancient enemy the island of Ægina, and had acquired supremacy over Megara, Bœotia, Phocis, and Lokris, and Achaia in Peloponnesus. The Megarians joined her to escape the oppression of their neighbor Corinth: her influence over Bœotia was acquired by allying herself with a democratical party in the Bœotian cities, against Sparta, who had been actively interfering to sustain the opposite party and to renovate the ascendency of Thebes. Athens was, for the time, successful in all these enterprises; but if we follow the details, we shall not find her more open to reproach on the score of aggressive tendencies than Sparta or Corinth. Her empire was now at its maximum; and had she been able to maintain it,—or even to keep possession of the Megarid separately, which gave her the means of barring out all invasions from Peloponnesus,—the future course of Grecian history would have been materially altered. But her empire on land did not rest upon the same footing as her empire at sea. The exiles in Megara and Bœotia, etc., and the anti-Athenian party generally in those places,—combined with[p. 283] the rashness of her general Tolmidês at Korôneia,—deprived her of all her land-dependencies near home, and even threatened her with the loss of Eubœa. The peace concluded in 445 B.C. left her with all her maritime and insular empire, including Eubœa, but with nothing more; while by the loss of Megara she was now open to invasion from Peloponnesus.

On this footing she remained at the beginning of the Peloponnesian war fourteen years afterwards. I have shown that that war did not arise, as has been so often asserted, from aggressive or ambitious schemes on the part of Athens, but that, on the contrary, the aggression was all on the side of her enemies; who were full of hopes that they could put her down with little delay; while she was not merely conservative and defensive, but even discouraged by the certainty of destructive invasion, and only dissuaded from concessions, alike imprudent and inglorious, by the extraordinary influence and resolute wisdom of Periklês. That great man comprehended well both the conditions and the limits of Athenian empire. Athens was now understood, especially since the revolt and reconquest of the powerful island of Samos in 440 B.C., by her subjects and enemies as well as by her own citizens, to be mistress of the sea. It was the care of Periklês to keep that belief within definite boundaries, and to prevent all waste of the force of the city in making new or distant acquisitions which could not be permanently maintained. But it was also his care to enforce upon his countrymen the lesson of maintaining their existing empire unimpaired, and shrinking from no effort requisite for that end. Though their whole empire was now staked upon the chances of a perilous war, he did not hesitate to promise them success, provided that they adhered to this conservative policy.

Following the events of the war, we shall find that Athens did adhere to it for the first seven years; years of suffering and trial, from the destructive annual invasion, the yet more destructive pestilence, and the revolt of Mitylênê, but years which still left her empire unimpaired, and the promises of Periklês in fair chance of being realized. In the seventh year of the war occurred the unexpected victory at Sphakteria and the capture of the Lacedæmonian prisoners. This placed in the hands of the Athenians a capital advantage, imparting to them prodigious[p. 284] confidence of future success, while their enemies were in a proportional degree disheartened. It was in this temper that they first departed from the conservative precept of Periklês, and attempted to recover (in 424 B.C.) both Megara and Bœotia. Had the great statesman been alive,[456] he might have turned this moment of superiority to better account, and might perhaps have contrived even to get possession of Megara—a point of unspeakable importance to Athens, since it protected her against invasion—in exchange for the Spartan captives. But the general feeling of confidence which then animated all parties at Athens, determined them in 424 B.C. to grasp at this and much more by force. They tried to reconquer both Megara and Bœotia: in the former they failed, though succeeding so far as to capture Nisæa; in the latter they not only failed, but suffered the disastrous defeat of Delium.

It was in the autumn of that same year 424 B.C., too, that Brasidas broke into their empire in Thrace, and robbed them of Akanthus, Stageira, and some other towns, including their most precious possession, Amphipolis. Again, it seems that the Athenians, partly from the discouragement caused by the disaster at Delium, partly from the ascendency of Nikias and the peace party, departed from the conservative policy of Periklês; not by ambitious over-action, but by inaction, omitting to do all that might have been done to arrest the progress of Brasidas. We must, however, never forget that their capital loss, Amphipolis, was owing altogether to the improvidence of their officers, and could not have been obviated even by Periklês.

But though that great man could not have prevented the loss, he would assuredly have deemed no efforts too great to recover it; and in this respect his policy was espoused by Kleon, in opposition to Nikias and the peace party. The latter thought it wise to make the truce for a year; which so utterly failed of its effect, that Nikias was obliged, even in the midst of it, to conduct an armament to Pallênê in order to preserve the empire against yet farther losses. Still, Nikias and his friends would hear of nothing but peace; and after the expedition of Kleon against Amphipolis in the ensuing year, which failed partly through his mili[p. 285]tary incapacity, partly through the want of hearty concurrence in his political opponents, they concluded what is called the Peace of Nikias in the ensuing spring. In this, too, their calculations are not less signally falsified than in the previous truce: they stipulate that Amphipolis shall be restored, but it is as far from being restored as ever. To make the error still graver and more irreparable, Nikias, with the concurrence of Alkibiadês contracts the alliance with Sparta a few months after the peace, and gives up the captives, the possession of whom being the only hold which Athens as yet had upon the Spartans.

We thus have, during the four years succeeding the battle of Delium (424-420 B.C.), a series of departures from the conservative policy of Periklês; departures, not in the way of ambitious over-acquisition, but of languor and unwillingness to make efforts even for the recovery of capital losses. Those who see no defects in the foreign policy of the democracy except those of over-ambition and love of war, pursuant to the jest of Aristophanês, overlook altogether these opposite but serious blunders of Nikias and the peace party.

Next comes the ascendency of Alkibiadês, leading to the two years’ campaign in Peloponnesus in conjunction with Elis, Argos, and Mantineia, and ending in the complete reëstablishment of Lacedæmonian supremacy. Here was a diversion of Athenian force from its legitimate purpose of preserving or reëstablishing the empire, for inland projects which Periklês could never have approved. The island of Melos undoubtedly fell within his general conceptions of tenable empire for Athens. But we may regard it as certain that he would have recommended no new projects, exposing Athens to the reproach of injustice, so long as the lost legitimate possessions in Thrace remained unconquered.

We now come to the expedition against Syracuse. Down to that period, the empire of Athens, except the possessions in Thrace, remained undiminished, and her general power nearly as great as it had ever been since 445 B.C. That expedition was the one great and fatal departure from the Periklean policy, bringing upon Athens an amount of disaster from which she never recovered; and it was doubtless an error of over-ambition. Acquisitions in Sicily, even if made, lay out of the condi[p. 286]tions of permanent empire for Athens; and however imposing the first effect of success might have been, they would only have disseminated her strength, multiplied her enemies, and weakened her in all quarters. But though the expedition itself was thus indisputably ill-advised, and therefore ought to count to the discredit of the public judgment at Athens, we are not to impute to that public an amount of blame in any way commensurate to the magnitude of the disaster, except in so far as they were guilty of unmeasured and unconquerable esteem for Nikias. Though Periklês would have strenuously opposed the project, yet he could not possibly have foreseen the enormous ruin in which it would end; nor could such ruin have been brought about by any man existing, save Nikias. Even when the people committed the aggravated imprudence of sending out the second expedition, Demosthenês doubtless assured them that he would speedily either take Syracuse or bring back both armaments, with a fair allowance for the losses inseparable from failure; and so he would have done, if the obstinacy of Nikias had permitted. In measuring therefore the extent of misjudgment fairly imputable to the Athenians for this ruinous undertaking, we must always recollect, that first the failure of the siege, next the ruin of the armament, did not arise from intrinsic difficulties in the case, but from the personal defects of the commander.

After the Syracusan disaster, there is no longer any question about adhering to, or departing from, the Periklean policy. Athens is like Patroklus in the Iliad, after Apollo has stunned him by a blow on the back and loosened his armor. Nothing but the slackness of her enemies allowed her time for a partial recovery, so as to make increased heroism a substitute for impaired force, even against doubled and tripled difficulties. And the years of struggle which she now went through are among the most glorious events in her history. These years present many misfortunes, but no serious misjudgment, not to mention one peculiarly honorable moment, after the overthrow of the Four Hundred. I have in the two preceding chapters examined into the blame imputed to the Athenians for not accepting the overtures of peace after the battle of Kyzikus, and for dismissing Alkibiadês after the battle of Notium. On both points their conduct has been shown to be justifiable. And after[p. 287] all, they were on the point of partially recovering themselves in 408 B.C., when the unexpected advent of Cyrus set the seal to their destiny.

The bloodshed after the recapture of Mitylênê and Skionê, and still more that which succeeded the capture of Melos, are disgraceful to the humanity of Athens, and stand in pointed contrast with the treatment of Samos when reconquered by Periklês. But they did not contribute sensibly to break down her power; though, being recollected with aversion after other incidents were forgotten, they are alluded to in later times as if they had caused the fall of the empire.[457]

I have thought it important to recall, in this short summary, the leading events of the seventy years preceding 405 B.C., in order that it may be understood to what degree Athens was politically or prudentially to blame for the great downfall which she then underwent. That downfall had one great cause—we may almost say, one single cause—the Sicilian expedition. The empire of Athens both was, and appeared to be, in exuberant strength when that expedition was sent forth; strength more than sufficient to bear up against all moderate faults or moderate misfortunes, such as no government ever long escapes. But the catastrophe of Syracuse was something overpassing in terrific calamity all Grecian experience and all power of foresight. It was like the Russian campaign of 1812 to the emperor Napoleon; though by no means imputable, in an equal degree, to vice in the original project. No Grecian power could bear up against such a death-wound, and the prolonged struggle of Athens after it is not the least wonderful part of the whole war.

Nothing in the political history of Greece is so remarkable as the Athenian empire; taking it as it stood in its completeness, from about 460-413 B.C., the date of the Syracusan catastrophe, or still more, from 460-421 B.C., the date when Brasidas made his conquests in Thrace. After the Syracusan catastrophe, the conditions of the empire were altogether changed; it was irretrievably broken up, though Athens still continued an energetic[p. 288] struggle to retain some of the fragments. But if we view it as it had stood before that event, during the period of its integrity, it is a sight marvellous to contemplate, and its working must be pronounced, in my judgment, to have been highly beneficial to the Grecian world. No Grecian state except Athens could have sufficed to organize such a system, or to hold in partial though regulated, continuous, and specific communion, so many little states, each animated with that force of political repulsion instinctive in the Grecian mind. This was a mighty task, worthy of Athens, and to which no state except Athens was competent. We have already seen in part, and we shall see still farther, how little qualified Sparta was to perform it, and we shall have occasion hereafter to notice a like fruitless essay on the part of Thebes.

As in regard to the democracy of Athens generally, so in regard to her empire, it has been customary with historians to take notice of little except the bad side. But my conviction is, and I have shown grounds for it, in chap. xlvii, that the empire of Athens was not harsh and oppressive, as it is commonly depicted. Under the circumstances of her dominion, at a time when the whole transit and commerce of the Ægean was under one maritime system, which excluded all irregular force; when Persian ships of war were kept out of the waters, and Persian tribute-officers away from the seaboard; when the disputes inevitable among so many little communities could be peaceably redressed by the mutual right of application to the tribunals at Athens, and when these tribunals were also such as to present to sufferers a refuge against wrongs done even by individual citizens of Athens herself, to use the expression of the oligarchical Phrynichus,[458] the condition of the maritime Greeks was materially better than it had been before, or than it will be seen to become afterwards. Her empire, if it did not inspire attachment, certainly provoked no antipathy, among the bulk of the citizens of the subject-communities, as is shown by the party-character of the revolts against her. If in her imperial character she exacted obedience, she also fulfilled duties and insured protection to a degree incomparably greater than was ever[p. 289] realized by Sparta. And even if she had been ever so much disposed to cramp the free play of mind and purpose among her subjects,—a disposition which is no way proved,—the very circumstances of her own democracy, with its open antithesis of political parties, universal liberty of speech, and manifold individual energy, would do much to prevent the accomplishment of such an end, and would act as a stimulus to the dependent communities, even without her own intention.

Without being insensible either to the faults or to the misdeeds of imperial Athens, I believe that her empire was a great comparative benefit, and its extinction a great loss, to her own subjects. But still more do I believe it to have been a good, looked at with reference to Pan-Hellenic interests. Its maintenance furnished the only possibility of keeping out foreign intervention, and leaving the destinies of Greece to depend upon native, spontaneous, untrammelled Grecian agencies. The downfall of the Athenian empire is the signal for the arms and corruption of Persia again to make themselves felt, and for the reënslavement of the Asiatic Greeks under her tribute-officers. What is still worse, it leaves the Grecian world in a state incapable of repelling any energetic foreign attack, and open to the overruling march of “the man of Macedon,” half a century afterwards. For such was the natural tendency of the Grecian world to political non-integration or disintegration, that the rise of the Athenian empire, incorporating so many states into one system, is to be regarded as a most extraordinary accident. Nothing but the genius, energy, discipline, and democracy of Athens, could have brought it about; nor even she, unless favored and pushed on by a very peculiar train of antecedent events. But having once got it, she might perfectly well have kept it; and, had she done so, the Hellenic world would have remained so organized as to be able to repel foreign intervention, either from Susa or from Pella. When we reflect how infinitely superior was the Hellenic mind to that of all surrounding nations and races; how completely its creative agency was stifled, as soon as it came under the Macedonian dictation; and how much more it might perhaps have achieved, if it had enjoyed another century or half-century of freedom, under the stimulating headship of the[p. 290] most progressive and most intellectual of all its separate communities, we shall look with double regret on the ruin of the Athenian empire, as accelerating, without remedy, the universal ruin of Grecian independence, political action, and mental grandeur.


The period intervening between the defeat of Ægospotami (October, 405 B.C.) and the reëstablishment of the democracy as sanctioned by the convention concluded with Pausanias, some time in the summer of 403 B.C., presents two years of cruel and multifarious suffering to Athens. For seven years before, indeed ever since the catastrophe at Syracuse, she had been struggling with hardships; contending against augmented hostile force, while her own means were cut down in every way; crippled at home by the garrison of Dekeleia; stripped to a great degree both of her tribute and her foreign trade, and beset by the snares of her own oligarchs. In spite of circumstances so adverse, she had maintained the fight with a resolution not less surprising than admirable; yet not without sinking more and more towards impoverishment and exhaustion. The defeat of Ægospotami closed the war at once, and transferred her from her period of struggle to one of concluding agony. Nor is the last word by any means too strong for the reality. Of these two years, the first portion was marked by severe physical privation, passing by degrees into absolute famine, and accompanied by the intolerable sentiment of despair and helplessness against her enemies, after two generations of imperial grandeur, not without a strong chance of being finally consigned to ruin and individual slavery; while the last portion comprised all the tyranny, murders, robberies, and expulsions perpetrated by the Thirty, overthrown only by heroic efforts of patriotism on the part of the[p. 291] exiles; which a fortunate change of sentiment, on the part of Pausanias, and the leading members of the Peloponnesian confederacy, ultimately crowned with success.

After such years of misery, it was an unspeakable relief to the Athenian population to regain possession of Athens and Attica, to exchange their domestic tyrants for a renovated democratical government, and to see their foreign enemies not merely evacuate the country, but even bind themselves by treaty to future friendly dealing. In respect of power, indeed, Athens was but the shadow of her former self. She had no empire, no tribute, no fleet, no fortifications at Peiræus, no long walls, not a single fortified place in Attica except the city itself. Of all these losses, however, the Athenians probably made little account, at least at the first epoch of their reëstablishment; so intolerable was the pressure which they had just escaped, and so welcome the restitution of comfort, security, property, and independence, at home. The very excess of tyranny committed by the Thirty gave a peculiar zest to the recovery of the democracy. In their hands, the oligarchical principle, to borrow an expression from Mr. Burke,[459] “had produced in fact, and instantly, the grossest of those evils with which it was pregnant in its nature;” realizing the promise of that plain-spoken oligarchical[p. 292] oath, which Aristotle mentions as having been taken in various oligarchical cities, to contrive as much evil as possible to the people.[460] So much the more complete was the reaction of sentiment towards the antecedent democracy, even in the minds of those who had been before discontented with it. To all men, rich and poor, citizens and metics, the comparative excellence of the democracy, in respect of all the essentials of good government, was now manifest. With the exception of those who had identified themselves with the Thirty as partners, partisans, or instruments, there was scarcely any one who did not feel that his life and property had been far more secure under the former democracy, and would become so again if that democracy were revived.[461]

It was the first measure of Thrasybulus and his companions, after concluding the treaty with Pausanias, and thus reëntering the city, to exchange solemn oaths, of amnesty for the past, with those against whom they had just been at war. Similar oaths of amnesty were also exchanged with those in Eleusis, as soon as that town came into their power. The only persons excepted from this amnesty were the Thirty, the Eleven who had presided over the execution of all their atrocities, and the Ten who had governed in Peiræus. Even these persons were not peremptorily banished: opportunity was offered to them to come in and take their trial of accountability (universal at Athens in the case of every magistrate on quitting office); so that, if acquitted, they would enjoy the benefit of the amnesty as well as all others.[462] We know that Eratosthenês, one of the Thirty, afterwards returned to Athens; since there remains a powerful harangue of Lysias, invoking justice against him as having brought to death Polemarchus, the brother of Lysias. Eratosthenês was[p. 293] one of the minority of the Thirty who sided generally with Theramenês, and opposed to a considerable degree the extreme violences of Kritias, although personally concerned in that seizure and execution of the rich metics which Theramenês had resisted, and which was one of the grossest misdeeds even of that dark period. He and Pheidon, being among the Ten named to succeed the Thirty after the death of Kritias, when the remaining members of that deposed Board retired to Eleusis, had endeavored to maintain themselves as a new oligarchy, carrying on war at the same time against Eleusis and against the democratical exiles in Peiræus. Failing in this, they had retired from the country, at the time when these exiles returned, and when the democracy was first reëstablished. But after a certain interval, the intense sentiments of the moment having somewhat subsided, they were encouraged by their friends to return, and came back to stand their trial of accountability. It was on that occasion that Lysias preferred his accusation against Eratosthenês, the result of which we do not know, though we see plainly, even from the accusatory speech, that the latter had powerful friends to stand by him, and that the dikasts manifested considerable reluctance to condemn.[463] We learn, moreover, from the same speech, that such was the detestation of the Thirty among several of the states surrounding Attica, as to cause[p. 294] formal decrees for their expulsion, or for prohibiting their coming.[464] The sons, even of such among the Thirty as did not return, were allowed to remain at Athens, and enjoy their rights of citizens, unmolested;[465] a moderation rare in Grecian political warfare.

The first public vote of the Athenians, after the conclusion of peace with Sparta and the return of the exiles, was to restore the former democracy purely and simply, to choose by lot the nine archons and the senate of Five Hundred, and to elect the generals, all as before. It appears that this restoration of the preceding constitution was partially opposed by a citizen named Phormisius, who, having served with Thrasybulus in Peiræus, now moved that the political franchise should for the future be restricted to the possessors of land in Attica. His proposition was understood to be supported by the Lacedæmonians, and was recommended as calculated to make Athens march in better harmony with them. It was presented as a compromise between oligarchy and democracy, excluding both the poorer freemen and those whose property lay either in movables or in land out of Attica; so that the aggregate number of the disfranchised would have been five thousand persons. Since Athens now had lost her fleet and maritime empire, and since the importance of Peiræus was much curtailed not merely by these losses, but by demolition of its separate walls and of the long walls, Phormisius and others conceived the opportunity favorable for striking out the maritime and trading multitude from the roll of citizens. Many of these men must have been in easy and even opulent circumstances, but the bulk of them were poor; and Phormisius had of course at his command the usual arguments, by which it is attempted to prove that poor men have no business with political judgment or action. But the proposition was rejected; the orator Lysias being among its opponents, and composing a speech against it which was either spoken, or intended to be spoken, by some eminent citizen in the assembly.[466]

Unfortunately, we have only a fragment of the speech remain[p. 295]ing, wherein the proposition is justly criticized as mischievous and unseasonable, depriving Athens of a large portion of her legitimate strength, patriotism, and harmony, and even of substantial men competent to serve as hoplites or horsemen, at a moment when she was barely rising from absolute prostration. Never, certainly, was the fallacy which connects political depravity or incapacity with a poor station, and political virtue or judgment with wealth, more conspicuously unmasked, than in reference to the recent experience of Athens. The remark of Thrasybulus was most true,[467] that a greater number of atrocities, both against person and against property, had been committed in a few months by the Thirty, and abetted by the class of horsemen, all rich men, than the poor majority of the Demos had sanctioned during two generations of democracy. Moreover, we know, on the authority of a witness unfriendly to the democracy, that the poor Athenian citizens, who served on shipboard and elsewhere, were exact in obedience to their commanders; while the richer citizens who served as hoplites and horsemen, and who laid claim to higher individual estimation, were far less orderly in the public service.[468]

The motion of Phormisius being rejected, the antecedent democracy was restored without qualification, together with the ordinances of Drako, and the laws, measures, and weights of Solon. But on closer inspection, it was found that this latter part of the resolution was incompatible with the amnesty which had been just sworn. According to the laws of Solon and Drako, the perpetrators of enormities under the Thirty had rendered themselves guilty, and were open to trial. To escape this consequence, a second psephism or decree was passed, on the proposition of Tisamenus, to review the laws of Solon and Drako, and reënact them with such additions and amendments as might be deemed expedient. Five hundred citizens had been just chosen by the people as nomothetæ, or law-makers, at the same time when the senate of Five hundred was taken by lot: out of these nomothetæ, the senate now chose a select few, whose duty it was to consider all propositions for amendment or addition to the laws of the old democracy, and post them up for public[p. 296] inspection before the statues of the eponymous heroes, within the month then running.[469] The senate, and the entire body of five hundred nomothetæ, were then to be convened, in order that each might pass in review, separately, both the old laws and the new propositions; the nomothetæ being previously sworn to decide righteously. While this discussion was going on, every private citizen had liberty to enter the senate, and to tender his opinion with reasons for or against any law. All the laws which should thus be approved, first by the senate, and afterwards by the nomothetæ, but no others, were to be handed to the magistrates, and inscribed on the walls of the portico called Pœkilê, for public notoriety, as the future regulators of the city. After the laws were promulgated by such public inscription, the senate of Areopagus was enjoined to take care that they should be duly observed and enforced by the magistrates. A provisional committee of twenty citizens was named, to be generally responsible for the city during the time occupied in this revision.[470]

As soon as the laws had been revised and publicly inscribed[p. 297] in the pœkilê, pursuant to the above decree, two concluding laws were enacted, which completed the purpose of the citizens.

The first of these laws forbade the magistrates to act upon, or permit to be acted upon, any law not among those inscribed; and declared that no psephism, either of the senate or of the people, should overrule any law.[471] It renewed also the old prohibition, dating from the days of Kleisthenês, and the first origin of the democracy, to enact a special law inflicting direct hardship upon any individual Athenian apart from the rest, unless by the votes of six thousand citizens voting secretly.

The second of the two laws prescribed, that all the legal adjudications and arbitrations which had been passed under the antecedent democracy should be held valid and unimpeached, but formally annulled all which had been passed under the Thirty. It farther provided, that the laws now revised and inscribed should only take effect from the archonship of Eukleidês; that is, from the nomination of archons made after the recent return of Thrasybulus and renovation of the democracy.[472]

[p. 298]

By these ever-memorable enactments, all acts done prior to the nomination of the archon Eukleidês and his colleagues, in the summer of 403 B.C., were excluded from serving as grounds for criminal process against any citizen. To insure more fully that this should be carried into effect, a special clause was added to the oath taken annually by the senators, as well as to that taken by the Heliastic dikasts. The senators pledged themselves by oath not to receive any impeachment, or give effect to any arrest, founded on any fact prior to the archonship of Eukleidês, excepting only against the Thirty, and the other individuals expressly shut out from the amnesty, and now in exile.[473] To the oath annually taken by the Heliasts, also, was added the clause: “I will not remember past wrongs, nor will I abet any one else who[p. 299] shall remember them; on the contrary,[474] I will give my vote pursuant to the existing laws;” which laws proclaimed themselves as only taking effect from the archonship of Eukleidês.

A still farther precaution was taken to bar all actions for redress or damages founded on acts done prior to the archonship of Eukleidês. On the motion of Archinus, the principal colleague of Thrasybulus at Phylê, a law was passed, granting leave to any defendant against whom such an action might be brought, to plead an exception in bar, or paragraphê, upon the special ground of the amnesty and the legal prescription connected with it. The legal effect of this paragraphê, or exceptional plea, in Attic procedure, was to increase both the chance of failure, and the pecuniary liabilities in case of failure, on the part of the plaintiff; also, to better considerably the chances of the defendant. This enactment is said to have been moved by Archinus, on seeing that some persons were beginning to institute actions at law, in spite of the amnesty; and for the better prevention of all such claims.[475]

[p. 300]

By these additional enactments, security was taken that the proceedings of the courts of justice should be in full conformity with the amnesty recently sworn, and that, neither directly nor indirectly, should any person be molested for wrongs done anterior to Eukleidês. And, in fact, the amnesty was faithfully observed: the reëntering exiles from Peiræus, and the horsemen with other partisans of the Thirty in Athens, blended again together into one harmonious and equal democracy.

Eight years prior to these incidents, we have seen the oligarchical conspiracy of the Four Hundred for a moment successful, and afterwards overthrown; and we have had occasion to notice, in reference to that event, the wonderful absence of all reactionary violence on the part of the victorious people, at a moment of severe provocation for the past and extreme apprehension for the future. We noticed that Thucydidês, no friend to the Athenian democracy, selected precisely that occasion—on which some manifestation of vindictive impulse might have been supposed likely and natural—to bestow the most unqualified eulogies on their moderate and gentle bearing. Had the historian lived to describe the reign of the Thirty and the restoration which followed it, we cannot doubt that his expressions would have been still warmer and more emphatic in the same sense. Few events in history, either ancient or modern, are more astonishing than the behavior of the Athenian people, on recovering their democracy after the overthrow of the Thirty: and when we view it in conjunction with the like phenomenon after the deposition of the Four Hundred, we see that neither the one nor the other arose from peculiar caprice or accident of the moment; both depended upon permanent attri[p. 301]butes of the popular character. If we knew nothing else except the events of these two periods, we should be warranted in dismissing, on that evidence alone, the string of contemptuous predicates,—giddy, irascible, jealous, unjust, greedy, etc., one or other of which Mr. Mitford so frequently pronounces, and insinuates even when he does not pronounce them, respecting the Athenian people.[476] A people, whose habitual temper and morality merited these epithets, could not have acted as the Athenians acted both after the Four Hundred and after the Thirty. Particular acts may be found in their history which justify severe censure; but as to the permanent elements of character, both moral and intellectual, no population in history has ever afforded stronger evidence than the Athenians on these two memorable occasions.

If we follow the acts of the Thirty, we shall see that the horsemen and the privileged three thousand hoplites in the city[p. 302] had made themselves partisans in every species of flagitious crime which could possibly be imagined to exasperate the feelings of the exiles. The latter, on returning, saw before them men who had handed in their relations to be put to death without trial, who had seized upon and enjoyed their property, who had expelled them all from the city, and a large portion of them even from Attica; and who had held themselves in mastery not merely by the overthrow of the constitution, but also by inviting and subsidizing foreign guards. Such atrocities, conceived and ordered by the Thirty, had been executed by the aid, and for the joint benefit, as Kritias justly remarked,[477] of those occupants of the city whom the exiles found on returning. Now Thrasybulus, Anytus, and the rest of these exiles, saw their property all pillaged and appropriated by others during the few months of their absence: we may presume that their lands—which had probably not been sold, but granted to individual members or partisans of the Thirty[478]—were restored to them; but the movable property could not be reclaimed, and the losses to which they remained subject were prodigious. The men who had caused and profited by these losses[479]—often with great brutality towards the wives and families of the exiles, as we know by the case of[p. 303] the orator Lysias—were now at Athens, all individually well known to the sufferers. In like manner, the sons and brothers of Leon and the other victims of the Thirty, saw before them the very citizens by whose hands their innocent relatives had been consigned without trial to prison and execution.[480] The amount of wrong suffered had been infinitely greater than in the time of the Four Hundred, and the provocation, on every ground, public and private, violent to a degree never exceeded in history. Yet with all this sting fresh in their bosoms, we find the victorious multitude, on the latter occasion as well as on the former, burying the past in an indiscriminate amnesty, and anxious only for the future harmonious march of the renovated and all-comprehensive democracy. We see the sentiment of commonwealth in the Demos, twice contrasted with the sentiment of faction in an ascendent oligarchy;[481] twice triumphant over the strongest counter-motives, over the most bitter recollections of wrongful murder and spoliation, over all that passionate rush of reactionary appetite which characterizes the moment of political restoration. “Bloody will be the reign of that king who comes back to his kingdom from exile,” says the Latin poet: bloody, indeed, had been the rule of Kritias and those oligarchs who had just come back from exile: “Harsh is a Demos (observes Æschylus) which has just got clear of misery.”[482] But the Athenian Demos, on coming back from Peiræus, exhibited the rare phenomenon of a restoration, after cruel wrong suffered, sacrificing all the strong impulse of retaliation to a generous and deliberate regard for the future march of the commonwealth. Thucydidês remarks that the moderation of political antipathy which prevailed at Athens after the victory of the people over the Four Hundred, was the main cause which revived Athens from her great public depres[p. 304]sion and danger.[483] Much more forcibly does this remark apply to the restoration after the Thirty, when the public condition of Athens was at the lowest depth of abasement, from which nothing could have rescued her except such exemplary wisdom and patriotism on the part of her victorious Demos. Nothing short of this could have enabled her to accomplish that partial resurrection—into an independent and powerful single state, though shorn of her imperial power—which will furnish material for the subsequent portion of our History.

While we note the memorable resolution of the Athenian people to forget that which could not be remembered without ruin to the future march of the democracy, we must at the same time observe that which they took special pains to preserve from being forgotten. They formally recognized all the adjudged cases and all the rights of property as existing under the democracy anterior to the Thirty. “You pronounced, fellow-citizens (says Andokidês), that all the judicial verdicts and all the decisions of arbitrators passed under the democracy should remain valid, in order that there might be no abolition of debts, no reversal of private rights, but that every man might have the means of enforcing contracts due to him by others.”[484] If the Athenian people had been animated by that avidity to despoil the rich, and that subjection to the passion of the moment, which Mr. Mitford imputes to them in so many chapters of his history, neither motive nor opportunity was now wanting for wholesale confiscation, of which the rich themselves, during the dominion of the Thirty, had set abundant example. The amnesty as to political wrong, and the indelible memory as to the rights of property, stand alike conspicuous as evidences of the real character of the Athenian Demos.

If we wanted any farther proof of their capacity of taking the largest and soundest views on a difficult political situation, we should find it in another of their measures at this critical period.[p. 305] The Ten who had succeeded to the oligarchical presidency of Athens after the death of Kritias and the expulsion of the Thirty, had borrowed from Sparta the sum of one hundred talents, for the express purpose of making war on the exiles in Peiræus. After the peace, it was necessary that such sum should be repaid, and some persons proposed that recourse should be had to the property of those individuals and that party who had borrowed the money. The apparent equity of the proposition was doubtless felt with peculiar force at a time when the public treasury was in the extreme of poverty. But nevertheless both the democratical leaders and the people decidedly opposed it, resolving to recognize the debt as a public charge; in which capacity it was afterwards liquidated, after some delay arising from an unsupplied treasury.[485]

All that was required from the horsemen, or knights, who had been active in the service of the Thirty, was that they should repay the sums which had been advanced to them by the latter as outfit. Such advance to the horsemen, subject to subsequent repayment, and seemingly distinct from the regular military pay, appears to have been a customary practice under the previous democracy;[486] but we may easily believe that the Thirty had carried it to an abusive excess, in their anxiety to enlist or stimulate partisans, when we recollect that they resorted to means more nefarious for the same end. There were of course great individual differences among these knights, as to the degree in which each had lent himself to the misdeeds of the oligarchy. Even the most guilty of them were not molested, and they were sent, four[p. 306] years afterwards, to serve with Agesilaus in Asia, at a time when the Lacedæmonians required from Athens a contingent of cavalry;[487] the Demos being well pleased to be able to provide for them an honorable foreign service. But the general body of knights suffered so little disadvantage from the recollection of the Thirty, that many of them in after days became senators, generals, hipparchs, and occupants of other considerable posts in the state.[488]

Although the decree of Tisamenus—prescribing a revision of the laws without delay, and directing that the laws, when so revised, should be posted up for public view, to form the sole and exclusive guide of the dikasteries—had been passed immediately after the return from Peiræus and the confirmation of the amnesty, yet it appears that considerable delay took place before such enactment was carried into full effect. A person named Nikomachus was charged with the duty, and stands accused of having performed it tardily as well as corruptly. He, as well as Tisamenus,[489] was a scribe, or secretary; under which name were included a class of paid officers, highly important in the detail of business at Athens, though seemingly men of low birth, and looked upon as filling a subordinate station, open to sneers from unfriendly orators. The boards, the magistrates, and the public bodies were so frequently changed at Athens, that the continuity of public business could only have been maintained by paid secretaries of this character, who devoted themselves constantly to the duty.[490]

[p. 307]

Nikomachus had been named, during the democracy anterior to the Thirty, for the purpose of preparing a fair transcript, and of posting up afresh, probably in clearer characters, and in a place more convenient for public view, the old laws of Solon. We can well understand that the renovated democratical feeling, which burst out after the expulsion of the Four Hundred, and dictated the vehement psephism of Demophantus, might naturally also produce such a commission as this, for which Nikomachus, both as one of the public scribes, or secretaries, and as an able speaker,[491] was a suitable person. His accuser, for whom Lysias composed his thirtieth oration, now remaining, denounces him as having not only designedly lingered in the business, for the purpose of prolonging the period of remuneration, but even as having corruptly tampered with the old laws, by new interpolations, as well as by omissions. How far such charges may have been merited, we have no means of judging; but even assuming Nikomachus to have been both honest and diligent, he would find no small difficulty in properly discharging his duty of anagrapheus,[492] or “writer-up” of all the old laws of Athens, from Solon downward. Both the phraseology of these old laws, and the alphabet in which they were written, were in many cases antiquated and obsolete;[493] while there were doubtless also cases in which one law was at variance, wholly or partially, with another. Now such contradictions and archaisms would be likely to prove offensive, if set up in a fresh place, and with clean, new characters; while Nikomachus had no authority to make the smallest alteration, and might[p. 308] naturally therefore be tardy in a commission which did not promise much credit to him in its result.

These remarks tend to show that the necessity of a fresh collection and publication, if we may use that word, of the laws, had been felt prior to the time of the Thirty. But such a project could hardly be realized without at the same time revising the laws, as a body, removing all flagrant contradictions, and rectifying what might glaringly displease the age, either in substance or in style. Now the psephism of Tisamenus, one of the first measures of the renewed democracy after the Thirty, both prescribed such revision and set in motion a revising body; but an additional decree was now proposed and carried by Archinus, relative to the alphabet in which the revised laws should be drawn up. The Ionic alphabet—that is, the full Greek alphabet of twenty-four letters, as now written and printed—had been in use at Athens universally, for a considerable time, apparently for two generations; but from tenacious adherence to ancient custom, the laws had still continued to be consigned to writing in the old Attic alphabet of only sixteen or eighteen letters. It was now ordained that this scanty alphabet should be discontinued, and that the revised laws, as well as all future public acts, should be written up in the full Ionic alphabet.[494]

Partly through this important reform, partly through the revising body, partly through the agency of Nikomachus, who was still continued as anagrapheus, the revision, inscription, and publication of the laws in their new alphabet was at length completed. But it seems to have taken two years to perform, or at least two years elapsed before Nikomachus went through his trial of accountability.[495] He appears to have made various new propositions of his own, which were among those adopted by the nomothetæ: for these his accuser attacks him, on the trial of accountability, as well as on the still graver allegation, of having corruptly falsified the decisions of that body; writing up what[p. 309] they had not sanctioned, or suppressing that which they had sanctioned.[496]

The archonship of Eukleidês, succeeding immediately to the anarchy,—as the archonship of Pythodôrus, or the period of the Thirty, was denominated,—became thus a cardinal point or epoch in Athenian history. We cannot doubt that the laws came forth out of this revision considerably modified, though unhappily we possess no particulars on the subject. We learn that the political franchise was, on the proposition of Aristophon, so far restricted for the future, that no person could be a citizen by birth except the son of citizen-parents, on both sides; whereas previously, it had been sufficient if the father alone was a citizen.[497] The rhetor Lysias, by station a metic, had not only suffered great loss, narrowly escaping death from the Thirty, who actually put to death his brother Polemarchus, but had contributed a large sum to assist the armed efforts of the exiles under Thrasybulus in Peiræus. As a reward and compensation for such antecedents, the latter proposed that the franchise of citizen should be conferred upon him; but we are told that this decree, though adopted by the people, was afterwards indicted by Archinus as illegal or informal, and cancelled. Lysias, thus disappointed of the citizenship, passed the remainder of his life as an isoteles, or non-freeman on the best condition, exempt from the peculiar burdens upon the class of metics.[498]

Such refusal of citizenship to an eminent man like Lysias, who had both acted and suffered in the cause of the democracy, when combined with the decree of Aristophon above noticed, implies a degree of augmented strictness which we can only partially explain. It was not merely the renewal of her democracy for which Athens had now to provide. She had also to accommodate her legislation and administration to her future march as an[p. 310] isolated state, without empire or foreign dependencies. For this purpose, material changes must have been required: among others, we know that the Board of Hellenotamiæ—originally named for the collection and management of the tribute at Delos, but attracting to themselves gradually more extended functions, until they became ultimately, immediately before the Thirty, the general paymasters of the state—was discontinued, and such among its duties as did not pass away along with the loss of the foreign empire, were transferred to two new officers, the treasurer at war, and the manager of the theôrikon, or religious festival-fund.[499] Respecting these two new departments, the latter of which especially became so much extended as to comprise most of the disbursements of a peace-establishment, I shall speak more fully hereafter; at present, I only notice them as manifestations of the large change in Athenian administration consequent upon the loss of the empire. There were doubtless many other changes arising from the same cause, though we do not know them in detail; and I incline to number among such the alteration above noticed respecting the right of citizenship. While the Athenian empire lasted, the citizens of Athens were spread over the Ægean in every sort of capacity, as settlers, merchants, navigators, soldiers, etc.; which must have tended materially to encourage intermarriages between them and the women of other Grecian insular states. Indeed, we are even told that an express permission of connubium with Athenians was granted to the inhabitants of Eubœa,[500] a fact, noticed by Lysias, of some moment in illustrating the tendency of the Athenian empire to multiply family ties between Athens and the allied cities. Now, according to the law which prevailed before Eukleidês, the son of every such marriage was by birth an Athenian citizen, an arrangement at that time useful to Athens, as strengthening the bonds of her empire, and eminently useful in a larger point of view, among the causes of Pan-Hellenic sympathy. But when Athens was deprived both of her empire and her fleet, and confined within the limits of Attica,[p. 311] there no longer remained any motive to continue such a regulation, so that the exclusive city-feeling, instinctive in the Grecian mind, again became predominant. Such is, perhaps, the explanation of the new restrictive law proposed by Aristophon.

Thrasybulus and the gallant handful of exiles who had first seized Phylê, received no larger reward than one thousand drachmæ for a common sacrifice and votive offering, together with wreaths of olive as a token of gratitude from their countrymen.[501] The debt which Athens owed to Thrasybulus was indeed such as could not be liquidated by money. To his individual patriotism, in great degree, we may ascribe not only the restoration of the democracy, but its good behavior when restored. How different would have been the consequences of the restoration and the conduct of the people, had the event been brought about by a man like Alkibiadês, applying great abilities principally to the furtherance of his own cupidity and power!

At the restoration of the democracy, however, Alkibiadês was already no more. Shortly after the catastrophe at Ægospotami, he had sought shelter in the satrapy of Pharnabazus, no longer thinking himself safe from Lacedæmonian persecution in his forts on the Thracian Chersonese. He carried with him a good deal of property, though he left still more behind him, in these forts; how acquired, we do not know. But having crossed apparently to Asia by the Bosphorus, he was plundered by the Thracians in Bithynia, and incurred much loss before he could reach Pharnabazus in Phrygia. Renewing the tie of personal hospitality which he had contracted with Pharnabazus four years before,[502] he now solicited from the satrap a safe-conduct up to Susa. The Athenian envoys—whom Pharnabazus, after his former pacification with Alkibiadês in 408 B.C., had engaged to escort to Susa, but had been compelled by the mandate of Cyrus to detain as prisoners—were just now released from their three years’ detention, and enabled to come down to the Propontis;[503] and Alkibiadês, by whom this mission had originally been pro[p. 312]jected, tried to prevail on the satrap to perform the promise which he had originally given, but had not been able to fulfil. The hopes of the sanguine exile, reverting back to the history of Themistoklês, led him to anticipate the same success at Susa as had fallen to the lot of the latter; nor was the design impracticable, to one whose ability was universally renowned, and who had already acted as minister to Tissaphernês.

The court of Susa was at this time in a peculiar position. King Darius Nothus, having recently died, had been succeeded by his eldest son Artaxerxes Mnemon;[504] but the younger son Cyrus, whom Darius had sent for during his last illness, tried after the death of the latter to supplant Artaxerxes in the succession, or at least was suspected of so trying. Being seized and about to be slain, the queen-mother Parysatis prevailed upon Artaxerxes to pardon him, and send him again down to his satrapy along the coast of Ionia, where he labored strenuously, though secretly, to acquire the means of dethroning his brother; a memorable attempt, of which I shall speak more fully hereafter. But his schemes, though carefully masked, did not escape the observation of Alkibiadês, who wished to make a merit of revealing them at Susa, and to become the instrument of defeating them. He communicated his suspicions as well as his purpose to Pharnabazus; whom he tried to awaken by alarm of danger to the empire, in order that he might thus get himself forwarded to Susa as informant and auxiliary.

Pharnabazus was already jealous and unfriendly in spirit towards Lysander and the Lacedæmonians, of which we shall soon see plain evidence, and perhaps towards Cyrus also, since such were the habitual relations of neighboring satraps in the Persian empire. But the Lacedæmonians and Cyrus were now all-powerful on the Asiatic coast, so that he probably did not dare to exasperate them, by identifying himself with a mission so hostile and an enemy so dangerous to both. Accordingly, he refused compliance with the request of Alkibiadês; granting him, nevertheless, permission to live in Phrygia, and even assigning to him a revenue. But the objects at which the exile was aiming soon became more or less fully divulged, to those against[p. 313] whom they were intended. His restless character, enterprise, and capacity, were so well known as to raise exaggerated fears as well as exaggerated hopes. Not merely Cyrus, but the Lacedæmonians, closely allied with Cyrus, and the dekadarchies, whom Lysander had set up in the Asiatic Grecian cities, and who held their power only through Lacedæmonian support, all were uneasy at the prospect of seeing Alkibiadês again in action and command, amidst so many unsettled elements. Nor can we doubt that the exiles whom these dekadarchies had banished, and the disaffected citizens who remained at home under their government in fear of banishment or death, kept up correspondence with him, and looked to him as a probable liberator. Moreover, the Spartan king, Agis, still retained the same personal antipathy against him, which had already some years before procured the order to be despatched, from Sparta to Asia, to assassinate him. Here are elements enough, of hostility, vengeance, and apprehension, afloat against Alkibiadês, without believing the story of Plutarch, that Kritias and the Thirty sent to apprize Lysander that the oligarchy at Athens could not stand, so long as Alkibiadês was alive. The truth is, that though the Thirty had included him in the list of exiles,[505] they had much less to dread from his assaults or plots, in Attica, than the Lysandrian dekadarchies in the cities of Asia. Moreover, his name was not popular even among the Athenian democrats, as will be shown hereafter, when we come to recount the trial of Sokratês. Probably, therefore, the alleged intervention of Kritias and the Thirty, to procure the murder of Alkibiadês, is a fiction of the subsequent encomiasts of the latter at Athens, in order to create for him claims to esteem as a friend and fellow-sufferer with the democracy.

A special despatch, or skytalê, was sent out by the Spartan authorities to Lysander in Asia, enjoining him to procure that Alkibiadês should be put to death. Accordingly, Lysander communicated this order to Pharnabazus, within whose satrapy Alkibiadês was residing, and requested that it might be put in execution. The whole character of Pharnabazus shows that he[p. 314] would not perpetrate such a deed, towards a man with whom he had contracted ties of hospitality, without sincere reluctance and great pressure from without; especially as it would have been easy for him to connive underhand at the escape of the intended victim. We may therefore be sure that it was Cyrus, who, informed of the revelations contemplated by Alkibiadês, enforced the requisition of Lysander; and that the joint demand of the two was too formidable even to be evaded, much less openly disobeyed. Accordingly, Pharnabazus despatched his brother Magæus and his uncle Sisamithres with a band of armed men, to assassinate Alkibiadês in the Phrygian village where he was residing. These men, not daring to force their way into his house, surrounded it and set it on fire; but Alkibiadês, having contrived to extinguish the flames, rushed out upon his assailants with a dagger in his right hand, and a cloak wrapped round his left to serve as a shield. None of them dared to come near him; but they poured upon him showers of darts and arrows until he perished, undefended as he was either by shield or by armor. A female companion with whom he lived, Timandra, wrapped up his body in garments of her own, and performed towards it all the last affectionate solemnities.[506]

Such was the deed which Cyrus and the Lacedæmonians did not scruple to enjoin, nor the uncle and brother of a Persian satrap to execute, and by which this celebrated Athenian perished, before he had attained the age of fifty. Had he lived, we cannot doubt that he would again have played some conspicuous part,—for neither his temper nor his abilities would have allowed him to remain in the shade,—but whether to the advantage of Athens or not, is more questionable. Certain it is, that taking his life throughout, the good which he did to her bore no[p. 315] proportion to the far greater evil. Of the disastrous Sicilian expedition, he was more the cause than any other individual, though that enterprise cannot properly be said to have been caused by any individual, but rather to have emanated from a national impulse. Having first, as a counsellor, contributed more than any other man to plunge the Athenians into this imprudent adventure, he next, as an exile, contributed more than any other man, except Nikias, to turn that adventure into ruin, and the consequences of it into still greater ruin. Without him, Gylippus would not have been sent to Syracuse, Dekeleia would not have been fortified, Chios and Milêtus would not have revolted, the oligarchical conspiracy of the Four Hundred would not have been originated. Nor can it be said that his first three years of political action as Athenian leader, in a speculation peculiarly his own,—the alliance with Argos, and the campaigns in Peloponnesus,—proved in any way advantageous to his country. On the contrary, by playing an offensive game where he had hardly sufficient force for a defensive, he enabled the Lacedæmonians completely to recover their injured reputation and ascendency through the important victory of Mantineia. The period of his life really serviceable to his country, and really glorious to himself, was that of three years ending with his return to Athens in 407 B.C. The results of these three years of success were frustrated by the unexpected coming down of Cyrus as satrap: but, just at the moment when it behooved Alkibiadês to put forth a higher measure of excellence, in order to realize his own promises in the face of this new obstacle, at that critical moment we find him spoiled by the unexpected welcome which had recently greeted him at Athens, and falling miserably short even of the former merit whereby that welcome had been earned.

If from his achievements we turn to his dispositions, his ends, and his means, there are few characters in Grecian history who present so little to esteem, whether we look at him as a public or as a private man. His ends are those of exorbitant ambition and vanity, his means rapacious as well as reckless, from his first dealing with Sparta and the Spartan envoys, down to the end of his career. The manœuvres whereby his political enemies first procured his exile were indeed base and guilty in a high degree; but we must recollect that if his enemies were[p. 316] more numerous and violent than those of any other politician in Athens, the generating seed was sown by his own overweening insolence, and contempt of restraints, legal as well as social.

On the other hand, he was never once defeated either by land or sea. In courage, in ability, in enterprise, in power of dealing with new men and new situations, he was never wanting; qualities, which, combined with his high birth, wealth, and personal accomplishments, sufficed to render him for the time the first man in every successive party which he espoused; Athenian, Spartan, or Persian; oligarchical or democratical. But to none of them did he ever inspire any lasting confidence; all successively threw him off. On the whole, we shall find few men in whom eminent capacities for action and command are so thoroughly marred by an assemblage of bad moral qualities, as Alkibiadês.[507]

[p. 317]


Respecting the political history of Athens during the few years immediately succeeding the restoration of the democracy, we have unfortunately little or no information. But in the spring of 399 B.C., between three and four years after the beginning of the archonship of Eukleidês, an event happened of paramount interest to the intellectual public of Greece as well as to philosophy generally, the trial, condemnation, and execution of Sokratês. Before I recount that memorable incident, it will be proper to say a few words on the literary and philosophical character of the age in which it happened. Though literature and philosophy are now becoming separate departments in Greece, each exercises a marked influence on the other, and the state of dramatic literature will be seen to be one of the causes directly contributing to the fate of Sokratês.

During the century of the Athenian democracy between Kleisthenês and Eukleidês, there had been produced a development of dramatic genius, tragic and comic, never paralleled before or afterwards. Æschylus, the creator of the tragic drama, or at least the first composer who rendered it illustrious, had been a combatant both at Marathon and Salamis; while Sophoklês and Euripidês, his two eminent followers, the former one of the generals of the Athenian armament against Samos in 440 B.C., expired both of them only a year before the battle of Ægospotami, just in time to escape the bitter humiliation and suffering of that mournful period. Out of the once numerous compositions of these poets we possess only a few, yet sufficient to enable us to appreciate in some degree the grandeur of Athenian tragedy; and when we learn that they were frequently beaten, even with the best of their dramas now remaining, in fair competition for the prize against other poets whose names only have reached us, we are warranted in presuming that the[p. 318] best productions of these successful competitors, if not intrinsically finer, could hardly have been inferior in merit to theirs.[508]

The tragic drama belonged essentially to the festivals in honor of the god Dionysus; being originally a chorus sung in his honor, to which were successively superadded, first, an Iambic monologue; next, a dialogue with two actors; lastly, a regular plot with three actors, and the chorus itself interwoven into the scene. Its subjects were from the beginning, and always continued to be, persons either divine or heroic, above the level of historical life, and borrowed from what was called the mythical past: the Persæ of Æschylus forms a splendid exception; but the two analogous dramas of his contemporary, Phrynichus, the Phœnissæ and the capture of Milêtus, were not successful enough to invite subsequent tragedians to meddle with contemporary events. To three serious dramas, or a trilogy, at first connected together by sequence of subject more or less loose, but afterwards unconnected and on distinct subjects, through an innovation introduced by Sophoklês, if not before, the tragic poet added a fourth or satyrical drama; the characters of which were satyrs, the companions of the god Dionysus, and other heroic or mythical persons exhibited in farce. He thus made up a total of four dramas, or a tetralogy, which he got up and brought forward to contend for the prize at the festival. The expense of training the chorus and actors was chiefly furnished by the chorêgi, wealthy citizens, of whom one was named for each of the ten tribes, and whose honor and vanity were greatly interested in obtaining the prize. At first, these exhibitions took place on a temporary stage, with nothing but wooden supports and scaffolding; but shortly after the year 500 B.C., on an occasion when the poets Æschylus and Pratinas were contending for the prize, this stage gave way during the ceremony, and lamentable mischief was the result. After that misfortune, a permanent theatre of stone was provided. To what extent the[p. 319] project was realized before the invasion of Xerxes, we do not accurately know; but after his destructive occupation of Athens, the theatre, if any existed previously, would have to be rebuilt or renovated along with other injured portions of the city.

It was under that great development of the power of Athens which followed the expulsion of Xerxes, that the theatre with its appurtenances attained full magnitude and elaboration, and Attic tragedy its maximum of excellence. Sophoklês gained his first victory over Æschylus in 468 B.C.: the first exhibition of Euripidês was in 455 B.C. The names, though unhappily the names alone, of many other competitors have reached us: Philoklês, who gained the prize even over the Œdipus Tyrannus of Sophoklês; Euphorion son of Æschylus, Xenoklês, and Nikomachus, all known to have triumphed over Euripidês; Neophron, Achæus, Ion, Agathon, and many more. The continuous stream of new tragedy, poured out year after year, was something new in the history of the Greek mind. If we could suppose all the ten tribes contending for the prize every year, there would be ten tetralogies—or sets of four dramas each, three tragedies and one satyrical farce—at the Dionysiac festival, and as many at the Lenæan. So great a number as sixty new tragedies composed every year,[509] is[p. 320] not to be thought of; yet we do not know what was the usual number of competing tetralogies: it was at least three; since the first, second, and third are specified in the didaskalies, or theatrical records, and probably greater than three. It was rare to repeat the same drama a second time unless after considerable alterations; nor would it be creditable to the liberality of a chorêgus to decline the full cost of getting up a new tetralogy. Without pretending to determine with numerical accuracy how many dramas were composed in each year, the general fact of unexampled abundance in the productions of the tragic muse is both authentic and interesting.

Moreover, what is not less important to notice, all this abundance found its way to the minds of the great body of the citizens, not excepting even the poorest. For the theatre is said to have accommodated thirty thousand persons:[510] here again it is unsafe to rely upon numerical accuracy, but we cannot doubt that it was sufficiently capacious to give to most of the citizens, poor as well as rich, ample opportunity of profiting by these beautiful compositions. At first, the admission to the theatre was gratuitous; but as the crowd of strangers as well as freemen, was found both excessive and disorderly, the system was adopted of asking a price, seemingly at the time when the permanent theatre was put in complete order after the destruction caused by Xerxes. The theatre was let by contract to a manager, who engaged to defray, either in whole or part, the habitual cost incurred by the state in the representation, and who was allowed to sell tickets of admission. At first, it appears that the price of tickets was not fixed, so that the poor citizens were overbid, and could not get places. Accordingly, Periklês introduced a new system, fixing the price of places at three oboli, or half a drachma, for the better, and one obolus for the less good. As there were two days of representation, tickets covering both days were sold respectively for a drachma and two oboli. But in order that the poor citizens might be enabled to attend, two oboli were given out from the public treasure to each citizen—rich as well as poor, if they chose to[p. 321] receive it—on the occasion of the festival. A poor man was thus furnished with the means of purchasing his place and going to the theatre without cost, on both days, if he chose; or, if he preferred it, he might go on one day only; or might even stay away altogether, and spend both the two oboli in any other manner. The higher price obtained for the better seats purchased by the richer citizens, is here to be set against the sum disbursed to the poorer; but we have no data before us for striking the balance, nor can we tell how the finances of the state were affected by it.[511]

Such was the original theôrikon, or festival-pay, introduced by Periklês at Athens; a system of distributing the public money, gradually extended to other festivals in which there was no theatrical representation, and which in later times reached a mischievous excess; having begun at a time when Athens was full of money from foreign tribute, and continuing, with increased demand at a subsequent time, when she was comparatively poor and without extraneous resources. It is to be remembered that all these festivals were portions of the ancient religion, and that, according to the feelings of that time, cheerful and multitudinous assemblages were essential to the satisfaction of the god in whose honor the festival was celebrated. Such disbursements were a portion of the religious, even more than of the civil establishment. Of the abusive excess which they afterwards reached, however, I shall speak in a future volume: at present, I deal with the theôrikon only in its primitive function and effect, of enabling all Athenians indiscriminately to witness the representation of the tragedies.

We cannot doubt that the effect of these compositions upon the public sympathies, as well as upon the public judgment and intelligence, must have been beneficial and moralizing in a high degree. Though the subjects and persons are legendary, the relations between them are all human and simple, exalted above the[p. 322] level of humanity only in such measure as to present a stronger claim to the hearer’s admiration or pity. So powerful a body of poetical influence has probably never been brought to act upon the emotions of any other population; and when we consider the extraordinary beauty of these immortal compositions, which first stamped tragedy as a separate department of poetry, and gave to it a dignity never since reached, we shall be satisfied that the tastes, the sentiments, and the intellectual standard, of the Athenian multitude, must have been sensibly improved and exalted by such lessons. The reception of such pleasures through the eye and the ear, as well as amidst a sympathizing crowd, was a fact of no small importance in the mental history of Athens. It contributed to exalt their imagination, like the grand edifices and ornaments added during the same period to their acropolis. Like them, too, and even more than they, tragedy was the monopoly of Athens; for while tragic composers came thither from other parts of Greece—Achæus from Eretria, and Ion from Chios, at a time when the Athenian empire comprised both those places—to exhibit their genius, nowhere else were original tragedies composed and acted, though hardly any considerable city was without a theatre.[512]

The three great tragedians—Æschylus, Sophoklês, and Euripidês—distinguished above all their competitors, as well by contemporaries as by subsequent critics, are interesting to us, not merely from the positive beauties of each, but also from the differences between them in handling, style, and sentiment, and from the manner in which these differences illustrate the insensible modification of the Athenian mind. Though the subjects, persons, and events of tragedy always continued to be borrowed from the legendary world, and were thus kept above the level of contemporaneous life,[513] yet the dramatic manner of handling them is sensibly modified, even in Sophoklês as compared with Æschylus; and still more in Euripidês, by the atmosphere of democracy, political and judicial contention, and philosophy, encompassing and acting upon the poet.

[p. 323]

In Æschylus, the ideality belongs to the handling not less than to the subjects: the passions appealed to are the masculine and violent, to the exclusion of Aphroditê and her inspirations:[514] the figures are vast and majestic, but exhibited only in half-light and in shadowy outline: the speech is replete with bold metaphor and abrupt transition, “grandiloquent even to a fault,” as Quintilian remarks, and often approaching nearer to Oriental vagueness than to Grecian perspicuity. In Sophoklês, there is evidently a closer approach to reality and common life: the range of emotions is more varied, the figures are more distinctly seen, and the action more fully and conspicuously worked out. Not only we have a more elaborate dramatic structure, but a more expanded dialogue, and a comparative simplicity of speech like that of living Greeks: and we find too a certain admixture of rhetorical declamation, amidst the greatest poetical beauty which the Grecian drama ever attained. But when we advance to Euripidês, this rhetorical element becomes still more prominent and developed. The ultra-natural sublimity of the legendary characters disappears: love and compassion are invoked to a degree which Æschylus would have deemed inconsistent with the dignity of the heroic person: moreover, there are appeals to the reason, and argumentative controversies, which that grandiloquent poet would have despised as petty and forensic cavils. And—what was worse still, judging from the Æschylean point of view—there was a certain novelty of speculation, an intimation of doubt on reigning opinions, and an air of scientific refinement, often spoiling the poetical effect.

Such differences between these three great poets are doubtless referable to the working of Athenian politics and Athenian philosophy on the minds of the two later. In Sophoklês, we may trace the companion of Herodotus;[515] in Euripidês, the hearer of[p. 324] Anaxagoras, Sokratês, and Prodikus;[516] in both, the familiarity with that wide-spread popularity of speech, and real, serious debate of politicians and competitors before the dikastery, which both had ever before their eyes, but which the genius of Sophoklês knew how to keep in due subordination to his grand poetical purpose.

The transformation of the tragic muse from Æschylus to Euripidês is the more deserving of notice, as it shows us how Attic tragedy served as the natural prelude and encouragement to the rhetorical and dialectical age which was approaching. But the democracy, which thus insensibly modified the tragic drama, imparted a new life and ampler proportions to the comic; both the one and the other being stimulated by the increasing prosperity and power of Athens during the half century following 480 B.C. Not only was the affluence of strangers and visitors to Athens continually augmenting, but wealthy men were easily found to incur the expense of training the chorus and actors. There was no manner of employing wealth which seemed so appropriate to procure influence and popularity to its possessors, as that of contributing to enhance the magnificence of the national and religious festivals.[517] This was the general sentiment both among rich and[p. 325] among poor; nor is there any criticism more unfounded than that which represents such an obligation as hard and oppressive upon rich men. Most of them spent more than they were legally compelled to spend in this way, from the desire of exalting their popularity. The only real sufferers were the people, considered as interested in a just administration of law; since it was a practice which enabled many rich men to acquire importance who had no personal qualities to deserve it, and which provided them with a stock of factitious merits to be pleaded before the dikastery, as a set-off against substantive accusations.

The full splendor of the comic muse was considerably later than that of the tragic. Even down to 460 B.C. (about the time when Periklês and Ephialtês introduced their constitutional reforms), there was not a single comic poet of eminence at Athens; nor was there apparently a single undisputed Athenian comedy before that date, which survived to the times of the Alexandrine critics. Magnês, Kratês, and Kratinus—probably also Chionidês and Ekphantidês[518]—all belong to the period beginning about (Olympiad 80 or) 460 B.C.; that is, the generation preceding Aristophanês, whose first composition dates in 427 B.C. The condition and growth of Attic comedy before this period seems to have been unknown even to Aristotle, who intimates that the archon did not begin to grant a chorus for comedy, or to number it among the authoritative solemnities of the festival, until long after the practice had been established for tragedy. Thus the comic chorus in that early time consisted of volunteers, without any chorêgus publicly assigned to bear the expense of teaching them or getting up the piece; so that there was little motive for authors to bestow care or genius in the preparation of their song, dance, and scurrilous monody, or dialogue. The exuberant revelry of the phallic festival and procession, with full license of scoffing at any one present, which the god Dionysus was supposed to enjoy, and with the most plain-spoken grossness as well in language as in ideas, formed the primitive germ, which under Athenian genius[p. 326] ripened into the old comedy.[519] It resembled in many respects the satyric drama of the tragedians, but was distinguished from it by dealing not merely with the ancient mythical stories and persons, but chiefly with contemporary men and subjects of common life; dealing with them often, too, under their real names, and with ridicule the most direct, poignant, and scornful. We see clearly how fair a field Athens would offer for this species of composition, at a time when the bitterness of political contention ran high,—when the city had become a centre for novelties from every part of Greece,—when tragedians, rhetors, and philosophers, were acquiring celebrity and incurring odium,—and when the democratical constitution laid open all the details of political and judicial business, as well as all the first men of the state, not merely to universal criticism, but also to unmeasured libel.

[p. 327]

Out of all the once abundant compositions of Attic comedy, nothing has reached us except eleven plays of Aristophanês. That poet himself singles out Magnês, Kratês, and Kratinus, among predecessors whom he describes as numerous, for honorable mention; as having been frequently, though not uniformly, successful. Kratinus appears to have been not only the most copious, but also the most distinguished, among all those who preceded Aristophanês, a list comprising Hermippus, Telekleidês, and the other bitter assailants of Periklês. It was Kratinus who first extended and systematized the license of the phallic festival, and the “careless laughter of the festive crowd,”[520] into a drama of regular structure, with actors three in number, according to the analogy of tragedy. Standing forward, against particular persons exhibited or denounced by their names, with a malignity of personal slander not inferior to the iambist Archilochus, and with an abrupt and dithyrambic style somewhat resembling Æschylus, Kratinus made an epoch in comedy as the latter had made in tragedy; but was surpassed by Aristophanês, as much as Æschylus had been surpassed by Sophoklês. We are told that his compositions were not only more rudely bitter and extensively libellous than those of Aristophanês,[521] but also destitute of that richness of illustration and felicity of expression which pervades all the wit of the latter, whether good-natured or malignant. In Kratinus, too, comedy first made herself felt as a substantive agent and partisan in the political warfare of Athens. He espoused the cause of Kimon against Periklês;[522] eulogizing the[p. 328] former, while he bitterly derided and vituperated the latter Hermippus, Telekleidês, and most of the contemporary comic writers followed the same political line in assailing that great man, together with those personally connected with him, Aspasia and Anaxagoras: indeed, Hermippus was the person who indicted Aspasia for impiety before the dikastery. But the testimony of Aristophanês[523] shows that no comic writer, of the time of Periklês, equalled Kratinus, either in vehemence of libel or in popularity.

It is remarkable that, in 440 B.C., a law was passed forbidding comic authors to ridicule any citizen by name in their compositions; which prohibition, however, was rescinded after two years, an interval marked by the rare phenomenon of a lenient comedy from Kratinus.[524] Such enactment denotes a struggle in the Athenian mind, even at that time, against the mischief of making the Dionysiac festival an occasion for unmeasured libel against citizens publicly named and probably themselves present. And there was another style of comedy taken up by Kratês, distinct from the iambic or Archilochian vein worked by Kratinus, in which comic incident was attached to fictitious characters and woven into a story, without recourse to real individual names or direct personality. This species of comedy, analogous to that which Epicharmus had before exhibited at Syracuse, was continued by Pherekratês as the successor of Kratês. Though for a long time less popular and successful than the poignant food served up by Kratinus and others, it became finally predominant after the close of the Peloponnesian war, by the gradual transition of what is called the Old Comedy into the Middle and New Comedy.

But it is in Aristophanês that the genius of the old libellous comedy appears in its culminating perfection. At least we have[p. 329] before us enough of his works to enable us to appreciate his merits; though perhaps Eupolis, Ameipsias, Phrynichus, Plato (Comicus), and others, who contended against him at the festivals with alternate victory and defeat, would be found to deserve similar praise, if we possessed their compositions. Never probably will the full and unshackled force of comedy be so exhibited again. Without having Aristophanês actually before us, it would have been impossible to imagine the unmeasured and unsparing license of attack assumed by the old comedy upon the gods, the institutions, the politicians, philosophers, poets, private citizens specially named, and even the women, whose life was entirely domestic, of Athens. With this universal liberty in respect of subject, there is combined a poignancy of derision and satire, a fecundity of imagination and variety of turns, and a richness of poetical expression, such as cannot be surpassed, and such as fully explains the admiration expressed for him by the philosopher Plato, who in other respects must have regarded him with unquestionable disapprobation. His comedies are popular in the largest sense of the word, addressed to the entire body of male citizens on a day consecrated to festivity, and providing for them amusement or derision with a sort of drunken abundance, out of all persons or things standing in any way prominent before the public eye. The earliest comedy of Aristophanês was exhibited in 427 B.C., and his muse continued for a long time prolific, since two of the dramas now remaining belong to an epoch eleven years after the Thirty and the renovation of the democracy, about 392 B.C. After that renovation, however, as I have before remarked, the unmeasured sweep and libellous personality of the old comedy was gradually discontinued: the comic chorus was first cut down, and afterwards suppressed, so as to usher in what is commonly termed the Middle Comedy, without any chorus at all. The “Plutus” of Aristophanês indicates some approach to this new phase; but his earlier and more numerous comedies, from the “Acharneis,” in 425 B.C. to the “Frogs,” in 405 B.C., only a few months before the fatal battle of Ægospotami, exhibit the continuous, unexhausted, untempered flow of the stream first opened by Kratinus.

Such abundance both of tragic and comic poetry, each of first-rate excellence, formed one of the marked features of Athenian[p. 330] life, and became a powerful instrument in popularizing new combinations of thought with variety and elegance of expression. While the tragic muse presented the still higher advantage of inspiring elevated and benevolent sympathies, more was probably lost than gained by the lessons of the comic muse; not only bringing out keenly all that was really ludicrous or contemptible in the phenomena of the day, but manufacturing scornful laughter, quite as often, out of that which was innocent or even meritorious, as well as out of boundless private slander. The “Knights” and the “Wasps” of Aristophanês, however, not to mention other plays, are a standing evidence of one good point in the Athenian character; that they bore with good-natured indulgence the full outpouring of ridicule and even of calumny interwoven with it, upon those democratical institutions to which they were sincerely attached. The democracy was strong enough to tolerate unfriendly tongues either in earnest or in jest: the reputations of men who stood conspicuously forward in politics, on whatever side, might also be considered as a fair mark for attacks; inasmuch as that measure of aggressive criticism which is tutelary and indispensable, cannot be permitted without the accompanying evil, comparatively much smaller, of excess and injustice;[525] though even here we may remark that excess of bitter personality is among the most conspicuous sins of Athenian literature generally. But the warfare of comedy, in the persons of Aristophanês and other composers, against philosophy, literature, and eloquence, in the name of those good old times of ignorance, “when an Athenian seaman knew nothing more than how to call for his barley-cake, and cry, Yo-ho;”[526][p. 331] and the retrograde spirit which induces them to exhibit moral turpitude as the natural consequence of the intellectual progress of the age, are circumstances going far to prove an unfavorable and degrading influence of comedy on the Athenian mind.

In reference to individual men, and to Sokratês[527] especially, the Athenians seem to have been unfavorably biased by the misapplied wit and genius of Aristophanês, in “The Clouds,” aided by other comedies of Eupolis, and Ameipsias and Eupolis; but on the general march of politics, philosophy, or letters, these composers had little influence. Nor were they ever regarded at Athens in the light in which they are presented to us by modern criticism; as men of exalted morality, stern patriotism, and genuine discernment of the true interests of their country; as animated by large and steady views of improving their fellow-citizens, but compelled,[p. 332] in consequence of prejudice or opposition, to disguise a far-sighted political philosophy under the veil of satire; as good judges of the most debatable questions, such as the prudence of making war or peace, and excellent authority to guide us in appreciating the merits or demerits of their contemporaries, insomuch that the victims of their lampoons are habitually set down as worthless men.[528] There cannot be a greater misconception of the old comedy[p. 333] than to regard it in this point of view; yet it is astonishing how many subsequent writers, from Diodorus and Plutarch down to[p. 334] the present day, have thought themselves entitled to deduce their facts of Grecian history, and their estimate of Grecian men, events, and institutions, from the comedies of Aristophanês. Standing pre-eminent as the latter does in comic genius, his point of view is only so much the more determined by the ludicrous associations suggested to his fancy, so that he thus departs the more widely from the conditions of a faithful witness or candid critic. He presents himself to provoke the laugh, mirthful or spiteful, of the festival crowd, assembled for the gratification of these emotions, and not with any expectation of serious or reasonable impressions.[529] Nor does he at all conceal how much he is mortified by failure; like the professional jester, or “laughter-maker,” at the banquets of rich Athenian citizens;[530] the parallel of Aristophanês as to purpose, however unworthy of comparison in every other respect.

This rise and development of dramatic poetry in Greece—so abundant, so varied, and so rich in genius—belongs to the fifth century B.C. It had been in the preceding century nothing more than an unpretending graft upon the primitive chorus, and was then even denounced by Solon, or in the dictum ascribed to Solon, as a vicious novelty, tending—by its simulation of a[p. 335] false character, and by its effusion of sentiments not genuine or sincere—to corrupt the integrity of human dealings;[531] a charge of corruption, not unlike that which Aristophanês worked up, a century afterwards, in his “Clouds,” against physics, rhetoric, and dialectics, in the person of Sokratês. But the properties of the graft had overpowered and subordinated those of the original stem; so that dramatic poetry was now a distinct form, subject to laws of its own, and shining with splendor equal, if not superior, to the elegiac, choric, lyric, and epic poetry which constituted the previous stock of the Grecian world.

Such transformations in the poetry, or, to speak more justly, in the literature—for before the year 500 B.C. the two expressions were equivalent—of Greece, were at once products, marks, and auxiliaries, in the expansion of the national mind. Our minds have now become familiar with dramatic combinations, which have ceased to be peculiar to any special form or conditions of political society. But if we compare the fifth century B.C. with that which preceded it, the recently born drama will be seen to have been a most important and impressive novelty: and so assuredly it would have been regarded by Solon, the largest mind of his own age, if he could have risen again, a century and a quarter after his death, to witness the Antigonê of Sophoklês, the Medea of Euripidês, or the Acharneis of Aristophanês.

Its novelty does not consist merely in the high order of imagination and judgment required for the construction of a drama at once regular and effective. This, indeed, is no small addition to Grecian poetical celebrity as it stood in the days of Solon, Alkæus, Sappho, and Stesichorus: but we must remember that the epical structure of the Odyssey, so ancient and long acquired to the Hellenic world, implies a reach of architectonic talent quite equal to that exhibited in the most symmetrical drama of Sophoklês. The great innovation of the dramatists consisted in the rhetorical, the dialectical, and the ethical spirit which they breathed into their poetry. Of all this, the undeveloped germ doubtless existed in the previous epic, lyric, and gnomic composition; but the drama stood distinguished from all three by[p. 336] bringing it out into conspicuous amplitude, and making it the substantive means of effect. Instead of recounting exploits achieved, or sufferings undergone by the heroes,—instead of pouring out his own single-minded impressions in reference to some given event or juncture,—the tragic poet produces the mythical persons themselves to talk, discuss, accuse, defend, confute, lament, threaten, advise, persuade, or appease; among one another, but before the audience. In the drama, a singular misnomer, nothing is actually done: all is talk; assuming what is done, as passing, or as having passed, elsewhere. The dramatic poet, speaking continually, but at each moment through a different character, carries on the purpose of each of his characters by words calculated to influence the other characters, and appropriate to each successive juncture. Here are rhetorical exigencies from beginning to end:[532] while, since the whole interest of the piece turns upon some contention or struggle carried on by speech; since debate, consultation, and retort, never cease; since every character, good or evil, temperate or violent, must be supplied with suitable language to defend his proceedings, to attack or repel opponents, and generally to make good the relative importance assigned to him, here again dialectical skill in no small degree is indispensable.

Lastly, the strength and variety of ethical sentiment infused into the Grecian tragedy, is among the most remarkable characteristics which distinguish it from the anterior forms of poetry. “To do or suffer terrible things,” is pronounced by Aristotle to be its proper subject-matter; and the internal mind and motives of the doer or sufferer, on which the ethical interest fastens, are laid open by the Greek tragedians with an impressive minuteness which neither the epic nor the lyric could possibly parallel. Moreover, the appropriate subject-matter of tragedy is pregnant not only with ethical sympathy, but also with ethical debate and speculation. Characters of mixed good and evil; distinct rules of duty, one conflicting with the other; wrong done, and justified to the conscience of the doer, if not to that of the spectator, by[p. 337] previous wrong suffered, all these are the favorite themes of Æschylus and his two great successors. Klytæmnestra kills her husband Agamemnôn on his return from Troy: her defence is, that he had deserved this treatment at her hands for having sacrificed his own and her daughter, Iphigeneia. Her son Orestês kills her, under a full conviction of the duty of avenging his father, and even under the sanction of Apollo. The retributive Eumenides pursue him for the deed, and Æschylus brings all the parties before the court of Areopagus, with Athênê as president, where the case is fairly argued, with the Eumenides as accusers, and Apollo as counsel for the prisoner, and ends by an equality of votes in the court: upon which Athênê gives her casting-vote to absolve Orestês. Again; let any man note the conflicting obligations which Sophoklês so forcibly brings out in his beautiful drama of the Antigonê. Kreon directs that the body of Polyneikês, as a traitor and recent invader of the country, shall remain unburied: Antigonê, sister of Polyneikês, denounces such interdict as impious, and violates it, under an overruling persuasion of fraternal duty. Kreon having ordered her to be buried alive, his youthful son Hæmon, her betrothed lover, is plunged into a heart-rending conflict between abhorrence of such cruelty on the one side, and submission to his father on the other. Sophoklês sets forth both these contending rules of duty in an elaborate scene of dialogue between the father and the son. Here are two rules both sacred and respectable, but the one of which cannot be observed without violating the other. Since a choice must be made, which of the two ought a good man to obey? This is a point which the great poet is well pleased to leave undetermined. But if there be any among the audience in whom the least impulse of intellectual speculation is alive, he will by no means leave it so, without some mental effort to solve the problem, and to discover some grand and comprehensive principle from whence all the moral rules emanate; a principle such as may instruct his conscience in those cases generally, of not unfrequent occurrence, wherein two obligations conflict with each other. The tragedian not only appeals more powerfully to the ethical sentiment than poetry had ever done before, but also, by raising these grave and touch[p. 338]ing questions, addresses a stimulus and challenge to the intellect, spurring it on to ethical speculation.

Putting all these points together, we see how much wider was the intellectual range of tragedy, and how considerable is the mental progress which it betokens, as compared with the lyric and gnomic poetry, or with the Seven Wise Men and their authoritative aphorisms, which formed the glory, and marked the limit, of the preceding century. In place of unexpanded results, or the mere communication of single-minded sentiment, we have even in Æschylus, the earliest of the great tragedians, a large latitude of dissent and debate, a shifting point of view, a case better or worse, made out for distinct and contending parties, and a divination of the future advent of sovereign and instructed reason. It was through the intermediate stage of tragedy that Grecian literature passed into the rhetoric, dialectics, and ethical speculation, which marked the fifth century B.C.

Other simultaneous causes, arising directly out of the business of real life, contributed to the generation of these same capacities and studies. The fifth century B.C. is the first century of democracy at Athens, in Sicily, and elsewhere: moreover, at that period, beginning from the Ionic revolt and the Persian invasions of Greece, the political relations between one Grecian city and another became more complicated, as well as more continuous; requiring a greater measure of talent in the public men who managed them. Without some power of persuading or confuting,—of defending himself against accusation, or in case of need, accusing others,—no man could possibly hold an ascendent position. He had probably not less need of this talent for private, informal, conversations to satisfy his own political partisans, than for addressing the public assembly formally convoked. Even as commanding an army or a fleet, without any laws of war or habits of professional discipline, his power of keeping up the good-humor, confidence, and prompt obedience of his men, depended not a little on his command of speech.[533] Nor was it only to the leaders in political life that such an accomplishment was indispensable. In all the democracies,—and probably in[p. 339] several governments which were not democracies, but oligarchies of an open character,—the courts of justice were more or less numerous, and the procedure oral and public: in Athens, especially, the dikasteries—whose constitution has been explained in a former chapter—were both very numerous, and paid for attendance. Every citizen had to go before them in person, without being able to send a paid advocate in his place, if he either required redress for wrong offered to himself, or was accused of wrong by another.[534] There was no man, therefore, who might not be cast or condemned, or fail in his own suit, even with right on his side, unless he possessed some powers of speech to unfold his case to the dikasts, as well as to confute the falsehoods, and disentangle the sophistry, of an opponent. Moreover, to any man of known family and station, it would be a humiliation hardly less painful than the loss of the cause, to stand before the dikastery with friends and enemies around him, and find himself unable to carry on the thread of a discourse without halting or confusion. To meet such liabilities, from which no citizen, rich or poor, was exempt, a certain training in speech became not less essential than a certain training in arms. Without the latter, he could not do his duty as an hoplite in the ranks for the defence of his country; without the former, he could not escape danger to his fortune or honor, and humiliation in the eyes of his friends, if called before a dikastery, nor lend assistance to any of those friends who might be placed under the like necessity.

Here then were ample motives, arising out of practical prudence not less than from the stimulus of ambition, to cultivate the power both of continuous harangue, and of concise argumentation, or interrogation and reply:[535] motives for all, to acquire a[p. 340] certain moderate aptitude in the use of these weapons; for the ambitious few, to devote much labor and to shine as accomplished orators.

Such political and social motives, it is to be remembered, though acting very forcibly at Athens, were by no means peculiar to Athens, but prevailed more or less throughout a large portion of the Grecian cities, especially in Sicily, when all the governments became popularized after the overthrow of the Gelonian dynasty. And it was in Sicily and Italy, that the first individuals arose, who acquired permanent name both in rhetoric and dialectics: Empedoklês of Agrigentum in the former; Zeno of Elea, in Italy, in the latter.[536]

Both these distinguished men bore a conspicuous part in politics, and both on the popular side; Empedoklês against an oligarchy, Zeno against a despot. But both also were yet more distinguished as philosophers, and the dialectical impulse in Zeno, if not the rhetorical impulse in Empedoklês, came more from his philosophy than from his politics. Empedoklês (about 470-440 B.C.) appears to have held intercourse at least, if not partial communion of doctrine, with the dispersed philosophers of the Pythagorean league; the violent subversion of which, at Kroton and elsewhere, I have related in a previous chapter.[537] He constructed a system of physics and cosmogony, distinguished for first broaching the doctrine of the Four elements, and set forth in a poem composed by himself: besides which he seems to have had much of the mystical tone and miraculous pretensions of Pythagoras; professing not only to cure pestilence and other distempers, but to teach how old age might be averted and the dead raised from Hades; to prophesy, and to raise and calm the winds at his pleasure. Gorgias, his pupil, deposed to having been present at the magical ceremonies of Empedoklês.[538] The[p. 341] impressive character of his poem is sufficiently attested by the admiration of Lucretius,[539] and the rhetoric ascribed to him may have consisted mainly in oral teaching or exposition of the same doctrines. Tisias and Korax of Syracuse, who are also mentioned as the first teachers of rhetoric, and the first who made known any precepts about the rhetorical practice, were his contemporaries; and the celebrated Gorgias was his pupil.

The dialectical movement emanated at the same time from the Eleatic school of philosophers,—Zeno, and his contemporary the Samian Melissus, 460-440,—if not from their common teacher Parmenidês. Melissus also, as well as Zeno and Empedoklês, was a distinguished citizen as well as a philosopher; having been in command of the Samian fleet at the time of the revolt from Athens, and having in that capacity gained a victory over the Athenians.

All the philosophers of the fifth century B.C., prior to Sokratês, inheriting from their earliest poetical predecessors the vast and unmeasured problems which had once been solved by the supposition of divine or superhuman agents, contemplated the world, physical and moral, all in a mass, and applied their minds to find some hypothesis which would give them an explanation of this totality,[540] or at least appease curiosity by something which looked like an explanation. What were the elements out of which sensible things were made? What was the initial cause or principle of those changes which appeared to our senses? What was[p. 342] change?—was it generation of something integrally new and destruction of something preëxistent,—or was it a decomposition and recombination of elements still continuing. The theories of the various Ionic philosophers, and of Empedoklês after them, admitting one, two, or four elementary substances, with Friendship and Enmity to serve as causes of motion or change; the Homœomeries of Anaxagoras, with Nous, or Intelligence, as the stirring and regularizing agent; the atoms and void of Leukippus and Demokritus, all these were different hypotheses answering to a similar vein of thought. All of them, though assuming that the sensible appearances of things were delusive and perplexing, nevertheless, were borrowed more or less directly from some of these appearances, which were employed to explain and illustrate the whole theory, and served to render it plausible when stated as well as to defend it against attack. But the philosophers of the Eleatic school—first Xenophanês, and after him Parmenidês—took a distinct path of their own. To find that which was real, and which lay as it were concealed behind or under the delusive phenomena of sense, they had recourse only to mental abstractions. They supposed a Substance or Something not perceivable by sense, but only cogitable or conceivable by reason; a One and All, continuous and finite, which was not only real and self-existent, but was the only reality; eternal, immovable, and unchangeable, and the only matter knowable. The phenomena of sense, which began and ended one after the other, they thought, were essentially delusive, uncertain, contradictory among themselves, and open to endless diversity of opinion.[541] Upon these, nevertheless, they announced an opinion; adopting two elements, heat and cold, or light and darkness.

Parmenidês set forth this doctrine of the One and All in a poem, of which but a few fragments now remain, so that we understand very imperfectly the positive arguments employed to recommend it. The matter of truth and knowledge, such as he[p. 343] alone admitted, was altogether removed from the senses and divested of sensible properties, so as to be conceived only as an Ens Rationis, and described and discussed only in the most general words of the language. The exposition given by Parmenidês in his poem,[542] though complimented by Plato, was vehemently controverted by others, who deduced from it many contradictions and absurdities. As a part of his reply, and doubtless the strongest part, Parmenidês retorted upon his adversaries; an example followed by his pupil Zeno with still greater acuteness and success. Those who controverted his ontological theory, that the real, ultra-phenomenal substance was One, affirmed it to be not One, but Many; divisible, movable, changeable, etc. Zeno attacked this latter theory, and proved that it led to contradictions and absurdities still greater than those involved in the proposition of Parmenidês.[543] He impugned the testimony of sense, affirming that it furnished premises for conclusions which contradicted each other, and that it was unworthy of trust.[544] Parmenidês[545] had denied that there was any such thing as real change either of place or color: Zeno maintained change of place, or motion, to be impossible and self-contradictory; propounding many logical difficulties, derived from the infinite divisibility of matter, against some of the most obvious affirmations respecting sensible phenomena. Melissus appears to have argued in a vein similar to that of Zeno, though with much less acuteness; demonstrating indirectly the doctrine of Parmenidês, by deducing impossible inferences from the contrary hypothesis.[546]

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Zeno published a treatise to maintain the thesis above described, which he also upheld by personal conversations and discussions, in a manner doubtless far more efficacious than his writing; the oral teaching of these early philosophers being their really impressive manifestation. His subtle dialectic arguments were not only sufficient to occupy all the philosophers of antiquity, in confuting them more or less successfully, but have even descended to modern times as a fire not yet extinguished.[547] The great effect produced among the speculative minds of Greece by his writing and conversation, is attested both by Plato and Aristotle. He visited Athens, gave instruction to some eminent Athenians, for high pay, and is said to have conversed both with Periklês and with Sokratês, at a time when the latter was very young; probably between 450-440 B.C.[548]

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His appearance constitutes a remarkable era in Grecian philosophy, because he first brought out the extraordinary aggressive or negative force of the dialectic method. In this discussion respecting the One and the Many, positive grounds on either side were alike scanty: each party had to set forth the contradictions deducible from the opposite hypothesis, and Zeno professed to show that those of his opponents were the more flagrant. We thus see that, along with the methodized question and answer, or dialectic method, employed from henceforward more and more in philosophical inquiries, comes out at the same time the negative tendency, the probing, testing, and scrutinizing force, of Grecian speculation. The negative side of Grecian speculation stands quite as prominently marked, and occupies as large a measure of the intellectual force of their philosophers, as the positive side. It is not simply to arrive at a conclusion, sustained by a certain measure of plausible premise,—and then to proclaim it as an authoritative dogma, silencing or disparaging all objectors,—that Grecian speculation aspires. To unmask not only positive falsehood, but even affirmation without evidence, exaggerated confidence in what was only doubtful, and show of knowledge without the reality; to look at a problem on all sides, and set forth all the difficulties attending its solution, to take account of deductions from the affirmative evidence, even in the case of conclusions accepted as true upon the balance, all this will be found pervading the march of their greatest thinkers. As a condition of all progressive philosophy, it is not less essential that the grounds of negation should be freely exposed, than the grounds of affirmation. We shall find the two going hand in hand, and the negative vein, indeed, the more impressive and characteristic of the two, from Zeno downwards in our history. In one of the earliest memoranda illustrative of Grecian dialectics,—the sentences in which Plato represents Parmenidês and Zeno as bequeathing their mantle to the youthful Sokratês, and giving him precepts for successfully prosecuting those researches which his marked inquisitive impulse promised,—this large and comprehensive[p. 346] point of view is emphatically inculcated. He is admonished to set before him both sides of every hypothesis, and to follow out both the negative and the affirmative chains of argument with equal perseverance and equal freedom of scrutiny; neither daunted by the adverse opinions around him, nor deterred by sneers against wasting time in fruitless talk; since the multitude are ignorant that without thus travelling round all sides of a question, no assured comprehension of the truth is attainable.[549]

We thus find ourselves, from the year 450 B.C., downwards, in presence of two important classes of men in Greece, unknown to Solon or even to Kleisthenês, the Rhetoricians, and the Dialecticians; for whom, as has been shown, the ground had been gradually prepared by the politics, the poetry, and the speculation, of the preceding period.

Both these two novelties—like the poetry and other accomplishments of this memorable race—grew up from rude indigenous beginnings, under native stimulus unborrowed and unassisted from without. The rhetorical teaching was an attempt to assist and improve men in the power of continuous speech as addressed to assembled numbers, such as the public assembly or the dikastery; it was therefore a species of training sought for by men of active pursuits and ambition, either that they might succeed in public life, or that they might maintain their rights and dignity[p. 347] if called before the court of justice. On the other hand, the dialectic business had no direct reference to public life, to the judicial pleading, or to any assembled large number. It was a dialogue carried on by two disputants, usually before a few hearers, to unravel some obscurity, to reduce the respondent to silence and contradiction, to exercise both parties in mastery of the subject, or to sift the consequences of some problematical assumption. It was spontaneous conversation[550] systematized and turned into some predetermined channel; furnishing a stimulus to thought, and a means of improvement not attainable in any other manner; furnishing to some, also, a source of profit or display. It opened a line of serious intellectual pursuit to men of a speculative or inquisitive turn, who were deficient in voice, in boldness, in continuous memory, for public speaking; or who desired to keep themselves apart from the political and judicial animosities of the moment.

Although there were numerous Athenians, who combined, in various proportions, speculative with practical study, yet generally speaking, the two veins of intellectual movement—one towards active public business, the other towards enlarged opinions and greater command of speculative truth, with its evidences—continued simultaneous and separate. There subsisted between them a standing polemical controversy and a spirit of mutual detraction. If Plato despised the sophists and the rhetors, Isokratês thinks himself not less entitled to disparage those who employed their time in debating upon the unity or plurality of virtue.[551] Even among different teachers, in the same intellectual walk, also, there prevailed but too often an acrimonious feeling of personal rivalry, which laid them all so much the more open[p. 348] to assault from the common enemy of all mental progress; a feeling of jealous ignorance, stationary or wistfully retrospective, of no mean force at Athens, as in every other society, and of course blended at Athens with the indigenous democratical sentiment. This latter sentiment[552] of antipathy to new ideas, and new mental accomplishments, has been raised into factitious importance by the comic genius of Aristophanês, whose point of view modern authors have too often accepted; thus allowing some of the worst feelings of Grecian antiquity to influence their manner of conceiving the facts. Moreover, they have rarely made any allowance for that force of literary and philosophical antipathy, which was no less real and constant at Athens than the political; and which made the different literary classes or individuals perpetually unjust one towards another.[553] It was the blessing and the glory of Athens, that every man could speak out his sentiments and his criticisms with a freedom unparalleled in the ancient world, and hardly paralleled even in the modern, in which a vast body of dissent both is, and always has been, condemned to absolute silence. But this known latitude of censure ought to have imposed on modern authors a peremptory[p. 349] necessity of not accepting implicitly the censure of any one, where the party inculpated has left no defence; at the very least, of construing the censure strictly, and allowing for the point of view from which it proceeds. From inattention to this necessity, almost all the things and persons of Grecian history are presented to us on their bad side; the libels of Aristophanês, the sneers of Plato and Xenophon, even the interested generalities of a plaintiff or defendant before the dikastery, are received with little cross-examination as authentic materials for history.

If ever there was need to invoke this rare sentiment of candor, it is when we come to discuss the history of the persons called sophists, who now for the first time appear as of note; the practical teachers of Athens and of Greece, misconceived as well as misesteemed.

The primitive education at Athens consisted of two branches; gymnastics, for the body; music, for the mind. The word music is not to be judged according to the limited signification which it now bears. It comprehended, from the beginning, everything appertaining to the province of the Nine Muses; not merely learning the use of the lyre, or how to bear part in a chorus; but also the hearing, learning, and repeating, of poetical compositions, as well as the practice of exact and elegant pronunciation; which latter accomplishment, in a language like the Greek, with long words, measured syllables, and great diversity of accentuation between one word and another, must have been far more difficult to acquire than it is in any modern European language. As the range of ideas enlarged, so the words music and musical teachers acquired an expanded meaning, so as to comprehend matter of instruction at once ampler and more diversified. During the middle of the fifth century B.C., at Athens, there came thus to be found, among the musical teachers, men of the most distinguished abilities and eminence; masters of all the learning and accomplishments of the age, teaching what was known of astronomy, geography, and physics, and capable of holding dialectical discussions with their pupils, upon all the various problems then afloat among intellectual men. Of this character were Lamprus, Agathoklês, Pythokleidês, Damon, etc. The two latter were instructors of Periklês; and Damon was even rendered so unpopular at Athens, partly by his large and free speculations, partly[p. 350] through the political enemies of his great pupil, that he was ostracized, or at least sentenced to banishment.[554] Such men were competent companions for Anaxagoras and Zeno, and employed in part on the same studies; the field of acquired knowledge being not then large enough to be divided into separate, exclusive compartments. While Euripidês frequented the company, and acquainted himself with the opinions, of Anaxagoras, Ion of Chios, his rival as a tragic poet, as well as the friend of Kimon, bestowed so much thought upon physical subjects, as then conceived, that he set up a theory of his own, propounding the doctrine of three elements in nature;[555] air, fire, and earth.

Now such musical teachers as Damon and the others above mentioned, were sophists, not merely in the natural and proper Greek sense of that word, but, to a certain extent, even in the special and restricted meaning which Plato afterwards thought proper to confer upon it.[556] A sophist, in the genuine sense of the word, was a wise man, a clever man; one who stood prominently before the public as distinguished for intellect or talent of some kind. Thus Solon and Pythagoras are both called sophists;[p. 351] Thamyras the skilful bard, is called a sophist:[557] Sokratês is so denominated, not merely by Aristophanês, but by Æschinês:[558] Aristotle himself calls Aristippus, and Xenophon calls Antisthenês, both of them disciples of Sokratês, by that name:[559] Xenophon,[560] in describing a collection of instructive books, calls them “the writings of the old poets and sophists,” meaning by the latter word prose-writers generally: Plato is alluded to as a sophist, even by Isokratês:[561] Isokratês himself was harshly criticized as a sophist, and defends both himself and his profession: lastly, Timon, the friend and admirer of Pyrrho, about 300-280 B.C., who bitterly satirized all the philosophers, designated them all, including Plato and Aristotle, by the general name of sophists.[562][p. 352] In this large and comprehensive sense the word was originally used, and always continued to be so understood among the general public. But along with this idea, the title sophist also carried with it or connoted a certain invidious feeling. The natural temper of a people generally ignorant towards superior intellect,—the same temper which led to those charges of magic so frequent in the Middle Ages,—appears to be a union of admiration with something of an unfavorable sentiment;[563] dislike, or apprehension, as the case may be, unless where the latter element has become neutralized by habitual respect for an established profession or station: at any rate, the unfriendly sentiment is so often intended, that a substantive word, in which it is implied without the necessity of any annexed predicate, is soon found convenient. Timon, who hated the philosophers, thus found the word sophist exactly suitable, in sentiment as well as meaning, to his purpose in addressing them.

Now when (in the period succeeding 450 B.C.) the rhetorical and musical teachers came to stand before the public at Athens in such increased eminence, they of course, as well as other men intellectually celebrated, became designated by the appropriate name of sophists. But there was one characteristic peculiar to themselves, whereby they drew upon themselves a double measure of that invidious sentiment which lay wrapped up in the name. They taught for pay: of course, therefore, the most eminent among them taught only the rich, and earned large sums; a fact naturally provocative of envy, to some extent, among the many who benefited nothing by them, but still more among the inferior members of their own profession. But even great minds, like Sokratês and Plato, though much superior to any such envy, cherished in that age a genuine and vehement repugnance against receiving pay for teaching. We read in Xen[p. 353]ophon,[564] that Sokratês considered such a bargain as nothing less than servitude, robbing the teacher of all free choice as to persons or proceeding; and that he assimilated the relation between teacher and pupil to that between two lovers or two intimate friends; which was thoroughly dishonored, robbed of its charm and reciprocity, and prevented from bringing about its legitimate reward of attachment and devotion, by the intervention of money payment. However little in harmony with modern ideas, such was the conscientious sentiment of Sokratês and Plato; who therefore considered the name sophists, denoting intellectual celebrity combined with an odious association, as preëminently suitable to the leading teachers for pay. The splendid genius, the lasting influence, and the reiterated polemics, of Plato, have stamped it upon the men against whom he wrote as if it were their recognized, legitimate, and peculiar designation: though it is certain, that if, in the middle of the Peloponnesian war, any Athenian had been asked, “Who are the principal sophists in your city?” he would have named Sokratês among the first; for[p. 354] Sokratês was at once eminent as an intellectual teacher and personally unpopular, not because he received pay, but on other grounds, which will be hereafter noticed: and this was the precise combination of qualities which the general public naturally expressed by a sophist. Moreover, Plato not only stole the name out of general circulation, in order to fasten it specially upon his opponents, the paid teachers, but also connected with it express discreditable attributes, which formed no part of its primitive and recognized meaning, and were altogether distinct from, though grafted upon, the vague sentiment of dislike associated with it. Aristotle, following the example of his master, gave to the word sophist a definition substantially the same as that which it bears in the modern languages:[565] “an impostrous pretender to knowledge; a man who employs what he knows to be fallacy, for the purpose of deceit and of getting money.” And he did this at a time when he himself, with his estimable contemporary Isokratês, were considered at Athens to come under the designation of sophists, and were called so by every one who disliked either their profession or their persons.[566]

Great thinkers and writers, like Plato and Aristotle, have full right to define and employ words in a sense of their own, provided they give due notice. But it is essential that the reader[p. 355] should keep in mind the consequences of such change, and not mistake a word used in a new sense for a new fact or phenomenon. The age with which we are now dealing, the last half of the fifth century B.C., is commonly distinguished in the history of philosophy as the age of Sokratês and the sophists. The sophists are spoken of as a new class of men, or sometimes in language which implies a new doctrinal sect, or school, as if they then sprang up in Greece for the first time; ostentatious imposters, flattering and duping the rich youth for their own personal gain; undermining the morality of Athens, public and private, and encouraging their pupils to the unscrupulous prosecution of ambition and cupidity. They are even affirmed to have succeeded in corrupting the general morality, so that Athens had become miserably degenerated and vicious in the latter years of the Peloponnesian war, as compared with what she was in the time of Miltiadês and Aristeidês. Sokratês, on the contrary, is usually described as a holy man combating and exposing these false prophets, standing up as the champion of morality against their insidious artifices.[567] Now though the appearance of a man so very original as Sokratês was a new fact of unspeakable importance, the appearance of the sophists was no new fact; what was new was the peculiar use of an old word, which Plato took out of its usual meaning, and fastened upon the eminent paid teachers of the Sokratic age.

The paid teachers, with whom, under the name of The Sophists, he brings Sokratês into controversy, were Protagoras of Abdêra, Gorgias of Leontini, Polus of Agrigentum, Hippias of Elis, Prodikus of Keos, Thrasymachus of Chalkêdon, Euthydêmus and Dionysodorus of Chios; to whom Xenophon adds Antiphon of Athens. These men—whom modern writers set down as the sophists, and denounce as the moral pestilence of their age—were not distinguished in any marked or generic way from their predecessors. Their vocation was to train up[p. 356] youth for the duties, the pursuits, and the successes, of active life, both private and public. Others had done this before; but these teachers brought to the task a larger range of knowledge with a greater multiplicity of scientific and other topics; not only more impressive powers of composition and speech, serving as a personal example to the pupil, but also a comprehension of the elements of good speaking, so as to be able to give him precepts conducive to that accomplishment;[568] a considerable treasure of accumulated thought on moral and political subjects, calculated to make their conversation very instructive, and discourse ready prepared, on general heads or common places, for their pupils to learn by heart.[569] But this, though a very important extension, was nothing more than an extension, differing merely in degree of that which Damon and others had done before them. It arose from the increased demand which had grown up among the Athenian youth, for a larger measure of education and other accomplishments; from an elevation in the standard of what was required from every man who aspired to occupy a place in the eyes of his fellow-citizens. Protagoras, Gorgias, and the rest, supplied this demand with an ability and success unknown before their time; hence they gained a distinction such as none of their predecessors had attained, were prized all over Greece, travelled from city to city with general admiration, and obtained considerable pay. While such success, among men personally strangers to them, attests unequivocally their talent and personal dignity, of course it also laid them open to increased jealousy, as well from inferior teachers as from the lovers of ignorance generally: such jealousy manifesting itself, as I have before explained, by a greater readiness to stamp them with the obnoxious title of sophists.

The hostility of Plato against these teachers,—for it is he, and not Sokratês, who was peculiarly hostile to them, as may be seen by the absence of any such marked antithesis in the Memorabilia of Xenophon,—may be explained without at all supposing in them that corruption which modern writers have been so ready not only to admit but to magnify. It arose from[p. 357] the radical difference between his point of view and theirs. He was a great reformer and theorist; they undertook to qualify young men for doing themselves credit, and rendering service to others, in active Athenian life. Not only is there room for the concurrent operation of both these veins of thought and action, in every progressive society, but the intellectual outfit of the society can never be complete without the one as well as the other. It was the glory of Athens that both were there adequately represented, at the period which we have now reached. Whoever peruses Plato’s immortal work, “The Republic,” will see that he dissented from society, both democratical and oligarchical, on some of the most fundamental points of public and private morality; and throughout most of his dialogues his quarrel is not less with the statesmen, past as well as present, than with the paid teachers of Athens. Besides this ardent desire for radical reform of the state, on principles of his own, distinct from every recognized political party or creed, Plato was also unrivalled as a speculative genius and as a dialectician; both which capacities he put forth, to amplify and illustrate the ethical theory and method first struck out by Sokratês, as well as to establish comprehensive generalities of his own.

Now his reforming, as well as his theorizing tendencies, brought him into polemical controversy with all the leading agents by whom the business of practical life at Athens was carried on. In so far as Protagoras or Gorgias talked the language of theory, they were doubtless much inferior to Plato, nor would their doctrines be likely to hold against his acute dialectics. But it was neither their duty, nor their engagement, to reform the state, or discover and vindicate the best theory on ethics. They professed to qualify young Athenians for an active and honorable life, private as well as public, in Athens, or in any other given city; they taught them “to think, speak, and act,” in Athens; they of course accepted, as the basis of their teaching, that type of character which estimable men exhibited and which the public approved, in Athens; not undertaking to recast the type, but to arm it with new capacities and adorn it with fresh accomplishments. Their direct business was with ethical precept, not with ethical theory; all that was required of them, as to the latter, was, that their theory should be sufficiently sound to lead[p. 358] to such practical precepts as were accounted virtuous by the most estimable society in Athens. It ought never to be forgotten, that those who taught for active life were bound, by the very conditions of their profession, to adapt themselves to the place and the society as it stood. With the theorist Plato, not only there was no such obligation, but the grandeur and instructiveness of his speculations were realized only by his departing from it, and placing himself on a loftier pinnacle of vision; and he himself[570] not only admits, but even exaggerates, the unfitness and repugnance of men, taught in his school, for practical life and duties.

To understand the essential difference between the practical and the theoretical point of view, we need only look to Isokratês, the pupil of Gorgias, and himself a sophist. Though not a man of commanding abilities, Isokratês was one of the most estimable men of Grecian antiquity. He taught for money; and taught young men to “think, speak, and act,” all with a view to an honorable life of active citizenship; not concealing his marked disparagement[571] of speculative study and debate, such as the dialogues[p. 359] of Plato and the dialectic exercises generally. He defends his profession much in the same way as his master Gorgias, or Protagoras, would have defended it, if we had before us vindications from their pens. Isokratês at Athens, and Quintilian, a man equally estimable at Rome, are, in their general type of character and professional duty, the fair counterpart of those whom Plato arraigns as the sophists.

We know these latter chiefly from the evidence of Plato, their pronounced enemy; yet even his evidence, when construed candidly and taken as a whole, will not be found to justify the charges of corrupt and immoral teaching, impostrous pretence of[p. 360] knowledge, etc., which the modern historians pour forth in loud chorus against them. I know few characters in history who have been so hardly dealt with as these so-called sophists. They bear the penalty of their name, in its modern sense; a misleading association, from which few modern writers take pains to emancipate either themselves or their readers, though the English or French word sophist is absolutely inapplicable to Protagoras or Gorgias, who ought to be called rather “professors, or public teachers.” It is really surprising to read the expositions prefixed by learned men like Stallbaum and others, to the Platonic dialogues entitled Protagoras, Gorgias, Euthydêmus, Theætêtus, etc., where Plato introduces Sokratês either in personal controversy with one or other of these sophists, or as canvassing their opinions. We continually read from the pen of the expositor, such remarks as these: “Mark, how Plato puts down the shallow and worthless sophist;” the obvious reflection, that it is Plato himself who plays both games on the chess-board, being altogether overlooked. And again: “This or that argument, placed in the mouth of Sokratês, is not to be regarded as the real opinion of Plato: he only takes it up and enforces it at this moment, in order to puzzle and humiliate an ostentatious pretender;”[572] a remark which con[p. 361]verts Plato into an insincere disputant, and a sophist in the modern sense, at the very moment when the commentator is extolling his pure and lofty morality as an antidote against the alleged corruption of Gorgias and Protagoras.

Plato has devoted a long and interesting dialogue to the inquiry, What is a sophist?[573] and it is curious to observe that the definition which he at last brings out suits Sokratês himself, intellectually speaking, better than any one else whom we know. Cicero defines the sophist to be one who pursues philosophy for the sake of ostentation or of gain;[574] which, if it is to be held as a reproach, will certainly bear hard upon the great body of modern teachers, who are determined to embrace their profession and to discharge its important duties, like other professional men, by the prospect either of deriving an income or of making a figure in it, or both, whether they have any peculiar relish for the occupation or not. But modern writers, in describing Protagoras or Gorgias, while they adopt the sneering language of Plato against teaching for pay, low purposes, tricks to get money from the rich, etc., use terms which lead the reader to believe that there was something in these sophists peculiarly greedy, exorbitant, and truckling; something beyond the mere fact of asking and receiving remuneration. Now not only there is no proof that any of them were thus dishonest or exorbitant, but in the case of Protagoras, even his enemy Plato furnishes a proof that he was not so. In the[p. 362] Platonic dialogue termed Protagoras, that sophist is introduced as describing the manner in which he proceeded respecting remuneration from his pupils. “I make no stipulation beforehand: when a pupil parts from me, I ask from him such a sum as I think the time and the circumstances warrant; and I add, that if he deems the demand too great, he has only to make up his own mind what is the amount of improvement which my company has procured to him, and what sum he considers an equivalent for it. I am content to accept the sum so named by himself, only requiring him to go into a temple and make oath that it is his sincere belief.”[575] It is not easy to imagine a more dignified way of dealing than this, nor one which more thoroughly attests an honorable reliance on the internal consciousness of the scholar, on the grateful sense of improvement realized, which to every teacher constitutes a reward hardly inferior to the payment that proceeds from it, and which, in the opinion of Sokratês, formed the only legitimate reward. Such is not the way in which the corruptors of mankind go to work.

That which stood most prominent in the teaching of Gorgias and the other sophists, was, that they cultivated and improved the powers of public speaking in their pupils; one of the most essential accomplishments to every Athenian of consideration. For this, too, they have been denounced by Ritter, Brandis, and other learned writers on the history of philosophy, as corrupt and immoral. “Teaching their pupils rhetoric (it has been said), they only enabled them to second unjust designs, to make the worse appear the better reason, and to delude their hearers, by trick and artifice, into false persuasion and show of knowledge without[p. 363] reality. Rhetoric (argues Plato, in the dialogue called Gorgias) is no art whatever, but a mere unscientific knack, enslaved to the dominant prejudices, and nothing better than an impostrous parody on the true political art.” Now though Aristotle, following the Platonic vein, calls this power of making the worse appear the better reason, “the promise of Protagoras,”[576] the accusation ought never to be urged as if it bore specially against the teachers of the Sokratic age. It is an argument against rhetorical teaching generally; against all the most distinguished teachers of pupils for active life, throughout the ancient world, from Protagoras, Gorgias, Isokratês, etc., down to Quintilian. Not only does the argument bear equally against all, but it was actually urged against all. Isokratês[577] and Quintilian both defend themselves against it: Aristotle replies to it in the beginning of his treatise on rhetoric: nor was there ever any man, indeed, against whom it was pressed with greater bitterness of calumny than Sokratês, by Aristophanês, in his comedy of the “Clouds,” as well as by other comic composers. Sokratês complains of it in his defence before his judges;[578] characterizing such accusations[p. 364] in their true point of view, as being “the stock reproaches against all who pursue philosophy.” They are indeed only one of the manifestations, ever varying in form though the same in spirit, of the antipathy of ignorance against dissenting innovation or superior mental accomplishments; which antipathy, intellectual men themselves, when it happens to make on their side in a controversy, are but too ready to invoke. Considering that we have here the materials of defence, as well as of attack, supplied by Sokratês and Plato, it might have been expected that modern writers would have refrained from employing such an argument to discredit Gorgias or Protagoras; the rather, as they have before their eyes, in all the countries of modern Europe, the profession of lawyers and advocates, who lend their powerful eloquence without distinction to the cause of justice or injustice, and who, far from being regarded as the corrupters of society, are usually looked upon, for that very reason among others, as indispensable auxiliaries to a just administration of law.

Though writing was less the business of these sophists than personal teaching, several of them published treatises. Thrasymachus and Theodôrus both set forth written precepts on the art of rhetoric;[579] precepts which have not descended to us, but which appear to have been narrow and special, bearing directly upon practice, and relating chiefly to the proper component parts of an oration. To Aristotle, who had attained that large and comprehensive view of the theory of rhetoric which still remains to instruct us in his splendid treatise, the views of Thrasymachus appeared unimportant, serving to him only as hints and materials. But their effect must have been very different when they first appeared, and when young men were first enabled to analyze the parts of an harangue, to understand the dependence of one upon the other, and call them by their appropriate names; all illustrated, let us recollect, by oral exposition on the part of the master, which was the most impressive portion of the whole.

Prodikus, again, published one or more treatises intended to[p. 365] elucidate the ambiguities of words, and to point out the different significations of terms apparently, but not really, equivalent. For this Plato often ridicules him, and the modern historians of philosophy generally think it right to adopt the same tone. Whether the execution of the work was at all adequate to its purpose, we have no means of judging; but assuredly the purpose was one preëminently calculated to aid Grecian thinkers and dialecticians; for no man can study their philosophy without seeing how lamentably they were hampered by enslavement to the popular phraseology, and by inferences founded on mere verbal analogy. At a time when neither dictionary nor grammar existed, a teacher who took care, even punctilious care, in fixing the meaning of important words of his discourse, must be considered as guiding the minds of his hearers in a salutary direction; salutary, we may add, even to Plato himself, whose speculations would most certainly have been improved by occasional hints from such a monitor.

Protagoras, too, is said to have been the first who discriminated and gave names to the various modes and forms of address, an analysis well calculated to assist his lessons on right speaking:[580] he appears also to have been the first who distinguished the three genders of nouns. We hear further of a treatise which he wrote on wrestling, or most probably on gymnastics generally, as well as a collection of controversial dialogues.[581] But his most celebrated treatise was one entitled “Truth,” seemingly on philosophy generally. Of this treatise, we do not even know the general scope or purport. In one of his treatises, he confessed his inability to satisfy himself about the existence of the gods, in these words:[582] “Respecting the gods, I neither know whether they exist, nor[p. 366] what are their attributes: the uncertainty of the subject, the shortness of human life, and many other causes, debar me from this knowledge.” That the believing public of Athens were seriously indignant at this passage, and that it caused the author to be threatened with prosecution, and forced to quit Athens, we can perfectly understand; though there seems no sufficient proof of the tale that he was drowned in his outward voyage. But that modern historians of philosophy, who consider the pagan gods to be fictions, and the religion to be repugnant to any reasonable mind, should concur in denouncing Protagoras on this ground as a corrupt man, is to me less intelligible. Xenophanês,[583] and probably many other philosophers, had said the same thing before him. Nor is it easy to see what a superior man was to do, who could not adjust his standard of belief to such fictions; or what he could say, if he said anything, less than the words cited above from Protagoras; which appear, as far as we can appreciate them, standing without the context, to be a brief mention, in modest and circumspect phrases, of the reason why he said nothing about the gods, in a treatise where the reader would expect to find much upon the subject.[584] Certain it is that in the Platonic dialogue, called “Protagoras,” that sophist is introduced speaking about the gods exactly in the manner that any orthodox pagan might naturally adopt.

The other fragment preserved of Protagoras, relates to his view of the cognitive process, and of truth generally. He taught, that “Man is the measure of all things; both of that which exists, and of that which does not exist:” a doctrine canvassed and controverted by Plato, who represents that Protagoras affirmed knowledge to consist in sensation, and considered the sensations of each individual man to be, to him, the[p. 367] canon and measure of truth. We know scarce anything of the elucidations or limitations with which Protagoras may have accompanied his general position: and if even Plato, who had good means of knowing them, felt it ungenerous to insult an orphan doctrine whose father was recently dead, and could no longer defend it,[585] much more ought modern authors, who speak with mere scraps of evidence before them, to be cautious how they heap upon the same doctrine insults much beyond those which Plato recognizes. In so far as we can pretend to understand the theory, it was certainly not more incorrect than several others then afloat, from the Eleatic school and other philosophers; while it had the merit of bringing into forcible relief, though in an erroneous manner, the essentially relative nature of cognition,[586] relative, not indeed to the sensitive faculty alone,[p. 368] but to that reinforced and guided by the other faculties of man, memorial and ratiocinative. And had it been even more incorrect than it really is, there would be no warrant for those imputations which modern authors build upon it, against the morality of Protagoras. No such imputations are countenanced in the discussion which Plato devotes to the doctrine: indeed, if the vindication which he sets forth against himself on behalf of Protagoras be really ascribable to that sophist, it would give an exaggerated importance to the distinction between Good and Evil, into which the distinction between Truth and Falsehood is considered by the Platonic Protagoras as resolvable. The subsequent theories of Plato and Aristotle respecting cognition, were much more systematic and elaborate, the work of men greatly superior in speculative genius to Protagoras: but they would not have been what they were, had not Protagoras, as well as others gone before them, with suggestions more partial and imperfect.

From Gorgias there remains one short essay, preserved in one of the Aristotelian, or Pseudo-Aristotelian treatises,[587] on a metaphysical thesis. He professes to demonstrate that nothing exists: that if anything exist, it is unknowable; and granting it even to exist and to be knowable by any one man, he could never communicate it to others. The modern historians of philosophy here prefer the easier task of denouncing the skepticism of the[p. 369] sophist, instead of performing the duty incumbent on them of explaining his thesis in immediate sequence with the speculations which preceded it. In our sense of the words, it is a monstrous paradox: but construing them in their legitimate filiation from the Eleatic philosophers immediately before him, it is a plausible, not to say conclusive, deduction from principles which they would have acknowledged.[588] The word existence, as they understood it, did not mean phenomenal, but ultra-phenomenal existence. They looked upon the phenomena of sense as always coming and going, as something essentially transitory, fluctuating, incapable of being surely known, and furnishing at best grounds only for conjecture. They searched by cogitation for what they presumed to be the really existent something or substance—the noumenon, to use a Kantian phrase—lying behind or under the phenomena, which noumenon they recognized as the only appropriate subject of knowledge. They discussed much, as I have before remarked, whether it was one or many; noumenon in the singular, or noumena in the plural. Now the thesis of Gorgias related to this ultra-phenomenal existence, and bore closely upon the arguments of Zeno and Melissus, the Eleatic reasoners of his elder contemporaries. He denied that any such ultra-phenomenal something, or noumenon, existed, or could be known, or could be described. Of this tripartite thesis, the first negation was neither more untenable, nor less untenable, than that of those philosophers who before him had argued for the affirmative: on the two last points, his conclusions were neither paradoxical nor improperly skeptical, but perfectly just, and have been ratified by the gradual abandonment, either avowed or implied, of such ultra-phenomenal researches among the major part of philosophers. It may fairly be presumed that these doctrines were urged by Gorgias for the purpose of diverting his disciples from studies which he considered as unpromising and fruitless: just as we shall find his pupil Isokratês afterwards enforcing the same view, discouraging speculations of this nature, and recommending rhetorical exercise as preparation[p. 370] for the duties of an active citizen.[589] Nor must we forget that Sokratês himself discouraged physical speculations even more decidedly than either of them.

If the censures cast upon the alleged skepticism of Gorgias and Protagoras are partly without sufficient warrant, partly without any warrant at all, much more may the same remark be made respecting the graver reproaches heaped upon their teaching on the score of immorality or corruption. It has been common with recent German historians of philosophy to translate from Plato and dress up a fiend called “Die Sophistik,” (Sophistic,) whom they assert to have poisoned and demoralized, by corrupt teaching, the Athenian moral character, so that it became degenerate at the end of the Peloponnesian war, compared with what it had been in the time of Miltiadês and Aristeidês.

Now, in the first place, if the abstraction “Die Sophistik” is to have any definite meaning, we ought to have proof that the persons styled sophists had some doctrines, principles, or method, both common to them all and distinguishing them from others. But such a supposition is untrue: there were no such common doctrines, or principles, or method, belonging to them; even the name by which they are known did not belong to them, any more than to Sokratês and others; they had nothing in common except their profession, as paid teachers, qualifying young men “to think, speak, and act,” these are the words of Isokratês, and better words it would not be easy to find, with credit to themselves as citizens. Moreover, such community of profession did not at that time imply near so much analogy of character as it does now, when the path of teaching has been beaten into a broad and visible high road, with measured distances and stated intervals: Protagoras and Gorgias found predecessors, indeed, but no binding precedents to copy; so that each struck out more or less a road of his own. And accordingly, we find Plato, in his dialogue called “Protagoras,” wherein Protagoras, Prodikus, and Hippias, are all introduced, imparting a distinct type of character and distinct method to each, not without a strong admixture of reciprocal jealousy between them; while Thrasymachus, in the Republic,[p. 371] and Euthydêmus, in the dialogue so called, are again painted each with colors of his own, different from all the three above named. We have not the least reason for presuming that Gorgias agreed in the opinion of Protagoras: “Man is the measure of all things;” and we may infer, even from Plato himself, that Protagoras would have opposed the views expressed by Thrasymachus in the first book of the Republic. It is impossible therefore to predicate anything concerning doctrines, methods, or tendencies, common and peculiar to all the sophists. There were none such; nor has the abstract word, “Die Sophistik,” any real meaning, except such qualities, whatever they may be, as are inseparable from the profession or occupation of public teaching. And if, at present, every candid critic would be ashamed to cast wholesale aspersions on the entire body of professional teachers, much more is such censure unbecoming in reference to the ancient sophists, who were distinguished from each other by stronger individual peculiarities.

If, then, it were true that in the interval between 480 B.C. and the end of the Peloponnesian war, a great moral deterioration had taken place in Athens and in Greece generally, we should have to search for some other cause than this imaginary abstraction called sophistic. But—and this is the second point—the matter of fact here alleged is as untrue, as the cause alleged is unreal. Athens, at the close of the Peloponnesian war, was not more corrupt than Athens in the days of Miltiadês and Aristeidês. If we revert to that earlier period, we shall find that scarcely any acts of the Athenian people have drawn upon them sharper censure—in my judgment, unmerited—than their treatment of these very two statesmen; the condemnation of Miltiadês, and the ostracism of Aristeidês. In writing my history of that time, far from finding previous historians disposed to give the Athenians credit for public virtue, I have been compelled to contend against a body of adverse criticism, imputing to them gross ingratitude and injustice. Thus the contemporaries of Miltiadês and Aristeidês, when described as matter of present history, are presented in anything but flattering colors; except their valor at Marathon and Salamis, which finds one unanimous voice of encomium. But when these same men have become numbered among the mingled recollections and fancies belonging to the past,—when a future[p. 372] generation comes to be present, with its appropriate stock of complaint and denunciation,—then it is that men find pleasure in dressing up the virtues of the past, as a count in the indictment against their own contemporaries. Aristophanês,[590] writing during the Peloponnesian war, denounced the Demos of his day as degenerated from the virtue of that Demos which had surrounded Miltiadês and Aristeidês: while Isokratês,[591] writing as an old man, between 350-340 B.C., complains in like manner of his own time, boasting how much better the state of Athens had been in his youth: which period of his youth fell exactly during the life of Aristophanês, in the last half of the Peloponnesian war.

Such illusions ought to impose on no one without a careful comparison of facts; and most assuredly that comparison will not bear out the allegation of increased corruption and degeneracy, between the age of Miltiadês and the end of the Peloponnesian war. Throughout the whole of Athenian history, there are no acts which attest so large a measure of virtue and judgment pervading the whole people, as the proceedings after the Four Hundred and after the Thirty. Nor do I believe that the contemporaries of Miltiadês would have been capable of such heroism; for that appellation is by no means too large for the case. I doubt whether they would have been competent to the steady self-denial of retaining a large sum in reserve during the time of peace, both prior to the Peloponnesian war and after the Peace of Nikias; or of keeping back the reserve fund of one thousand talents, while they were forced to pay taxes for the support of the war; or of acting upon the prudent, yet painfully trying, policy recommended by Periklês, so as to sustain an annual invasion without either going out to fight or purchasing peace by ignominious concessions. If bad acts such as Athens committed during the later years of the war, for example, the massacre of the Melian population, were not done equally by the contemporaries of Miltiadês, this did not arise from any superior humanity or principle on their part, but from the fact that they were not exposed to the like temptation, brought upon them by the possession of imperial power. The condemnation of the six generals[p. 373] after the battle of Arginusæ, if we suppose the same conduct on their part to have occurred in 490 B.C., would have been decreed more rapidly and more unceremoniously than it was actually decreed in 406 B.C. For at that earlier date there existed no psephism of Kannônus, surrounded by prescriptive respect; no graphê paranomôn; no such habits of established deference to a dikastery solemnly sworn, with full notice to defendants and full time of defence measured by the clock; none of those securities which a long course of democracy had gradually worked into the public morality of every Athenian, and which, as we saw in a former chapter, interposed a serious barrier to the impulse of the moment, though ultimately overthrown by its fierceness. A far less violent impulse would have sufficed for the same mischief in 490 B.C., when no such barriers existed. Lastly, if we want a measure of the appreciating sentiment of the Athenian public, towards a strict and decorous morality in the narrow sense, in the middle of the Peloponnesian war, we have only to consider the manner in which they dealt with Nikias. I have shown, in describing the Sicilian expedition, that the gravest error which the Athenians ever committed, that which shipwrecked both their armament at Syracuse and their power at home, arose from their unmeasured esteem for the respectable and pious Nikias, which blinded them to the grossest defects of generalship and public conduct. Disastrous as such misjudgment was, it counts at least as a proof that the moral corruption alleged to have been operated in their characters, is a mere fiction. Nor let it be supposed that the nerve and resolution which once animated the combatants of Marathon and Salamis, had disappeared in the latter years of the Peloponnesian war. On the contrary, the energetic and protracted struggle of Athens, after the irreparable calamity at Syracuse, forms a worthy parallel to her resistance in the time of Xerxes, and maintained unabated that distinctive attribute which Periklês had set forth as the main foundation of her glory, that of never giving way before misfortune.[592] Without any disparagement to the armament at Salamis, we may remark that the patriotism of the fleet at Samos, which rescued Athens from the[p. 374] Four Hundred, was equally devoted and more intelligent; and that the burst of effort, which sent a subsequent fleet to victory at Arginusæ, was to the full as strenuous.

If, then, we survey the eighty-seven years of Athenian history, between the battle of Marathon and the renovation of the democracy after the Thirty, we shall see no ground for the assertion, so often made, of increased and increasing moral and political corruption. It is my belief that the people had become both morally and politically better, and that their democracy had worked to their improvement. The remark made by Thucydidês, on the occasion of the Korkyræan bloodshed,—on the violent and reckless political antipathies, arising out of the confluence of external warfare with internal party-feud,[593]—wherever else it may find its application, has no bearing upon Athens: the proceedings after the Four Hundred and after the Thirty prove the contrary. And while Athens may thus be vindicated on the moral side, it is indisputable that her population had acquired a far larger range of ideas and capacities than they possessed at the time of the battle of Marathon. This, indeed, is the very matter of fact deplored by Aristophanês, and admitted by those writers, who, while denouncing the sophists, connect such enlarged range of ideas with the dissemination of the pretended sophistical poison. In my judgment, not only the charge against the sophists as poisoners, but even the existence of such poison in the Athenian system, deserves nothing less than an emphatic denial.

Let us examine again the names of these professional teachers, beginning with Prodikus, one of the most renowned. Who is there that has not read the well-known fable called “The Choice of Hercules,” which is to be found in every book professing to[p. 375] collect impressive illustrations of elementary morality? Who does not know that its express purpose is, to kindle the imaginations of youth in favor of a life of labor for noble objects, and against a life of indulgence? It was the favorite theme on which Prodikus lectured, and on which he obtained the largest audience.[594] If it be of striking simplicity and effect even to a modern reader, how much more powerfully must it have worked upon the audience for whose belief it was specially adapted, when set off by the oral expansions of its author! Xenophon wondered that the Athenian dikasts dealt with Sokratês as a corruptor of youth,—Isokratês wondered that a portion of the public made the like mistake about him,—and I confess my wonder to be not less, that not only Aristophanês,[595] but even the modern writers on Grecian philosophy, should rank Prodikus in the same unenviable catalogue. This is the only composition[596] remaining from him; indeed, the only composition remaining from any one of the sophists, excepting the thesis of Gorgias, above noticed. It served, not merely as a vindication of Prodikus against such reproach, but also as a warning against implicit confidence in the sarcastic remarks of Plato,—which include Prodikus as well as the other sophists,—and in the doctrines which he puts into the mouth of the sophists generally, in order that Sokratês may confute them. The commonest candor would teach us, that if a polemical writer of dialogue chooses to put indefensible doctrine[p. 376] into the mouth of the opponent, we ought to be cautious of condemning the latter upon such very dubious proof.

Welcker and other modern authors treat Prodikus as “the most innocent” of the sophists, and except him from the sentence which they pass upon the class generally. Let us see, therefore, what Plato himself says about the rest of them, and first about Protagoras. If it were not the established practice with readers of Plato to condemn Protagoras beforehand, and to put upon every passage relating to him not only a sense as bad as it will bear, but much worse than it will fairly bear, they would probably carry away very different inferences from the Platonic dialogue called by that sophist’s name, and in which he is made to bear a chief part. That dialogue is itself enough to prove that Plato did not conceive Protagoras either as a corrupt, or unworthy, or incompetent teacher. The course of the dialogue exhibits him as not master of the theory of ethics, and unable to solve various difficulties with which that theory is expected to grapple; moreover, as no match for Sokratês in dialectics, which Plato considered as the only efficient method of philosophical investigation. In so far, therefore, as imperfect acquaintance with the science or theory upon which rules of art, or the precepts bearing on practice, repose, disqualifies a teacher from giving instruction in such art or practice, to that extent Protagoras is exposed as wanting. And if an expert dialectician, like Plato, had passed Isokratês or Quintilian, or the large majority of teachers past or present, through a similar cross-examination as to the theory of their teaching, an ignorance not less manifest than that of Protagoras would be brought out. The antithesis which Plato sets forth, in so many of his dialogues, between precept or practice, accompanied by full knowledge of the scientific principles from which it must be deduced, if its rectitude be disputed,—and unscientific practice, without any such power of deduction or defence, is one of the most valuable portions of his speculations: he exhausts his genius to render it conspicuous in a thousand indirect ways, and to shame his readers, if possible, into the loftier and more rational walk of thought. But it is one thing to say of a man, that he does not know the theory of what he teaches, or of the way in which he teaches; it is another thing to say, that he actually teaches that which scientific theory would[p. 377] not prescribe as the best; it is a third thing, graver than both, to say that his teaching is not only below the exigences of science, but even corrupt and demoralizing. Now of these three points, it is the first only which Plato in his dialogue makes out against Protagoras: even the second, he neither affirms nor insinuates; and as to the third, not only he never glances at it, even indirectly, but the whole tendency of the discourse suggests a directly contrary conclusion. As if sensible that when an eminent opponent was to be depicted as puzzled and irritated by superior dialectics, it was but common fairness to set forth his distinctive merits also, Plato gives a fable, and expository harangue, from the mouth of Protagoras,[597] upon the question whether virtue is teachable. This harangue is, in my judgment, very striking and instructive; and so it would have been probably accounted, if commentators had not read it with a preëstablished persuasion that whatever came from the lips of a sophist must be either ridiculous or immoral.[598] It is the only part of Plato’s works wherein any account is rendered of the growth of that floating, uncertified, self-propagating body of opinion, upon which the cross-examining analysis of Sokratês is brought to bear, as will be seen in the following chapter.

Protagoras professes to teach his pupils “good counsel” in their domestic and family relations, as well as how to speak and act in the most effective manner for the weal of the city. Since this comes from Protagoras, the commentators of Plato pronounce it to be miserable morality; but it coincides, almost to the letter, with that which Isokratês describes himself as teaching, a generation afterwards, and substantially even with that which Xenophon represents Sokratês as teaching; nor is it easy to set forth,[p. 378] in a few words, a larger scheme of practical duty.[599] And if the measure of practical duty, which Protagoras devoted himself to teach, was thus serious and extensive, even the fraction of theory[p. 379] assigned to him in his harangue, includes some points better than that of Plato himself. For Plato seems to have conceived the ethical end, to each individual, as comprising nothing more than his own permanent happiness and moral health; and in this very dialogue, he introduces Sokratês as maintaining virtue to consist only in a right calculation of a man’s own personal happiness and misery. But here we find Protagoras speaking in a way which implies a larger, and, in my opinion, a juster, appreciation of the ethical end, as including not only reference to a man’s own happiness, but also obligations towards the happiness of others. Without at all agreeing in the harsh terms of censure which various critics pronounce upon that theory which Sokratês is made to set forth in the Platonic Protagoras, I consider his conception of the ethical end essentially narrow and imperfect, not capable of being made to serve as basis for deduction of the best ethical precepts. Yet such is the prejudice with which the history of the sophists has been written, that the commentators on Plato accuse the sophists of having originated what they ignorantly term, “the base theory of utility,” here propounded by Sokratês himself; complimenting the latter on having set forth those larger views which in this dialogue belong only to Protagoras.[600]

[p. 380]

So far as concerns Protagoras, therefore, the evidence of Plato himself may be produced to show that he was not a corrupt teacher, but a worthy companion of Prodikus; worthy also of that which we know him to have enjoyed, the society and conversation of Periklês. Let us now examine what Plato says about a third sophist, Hippias of Elis; who figures both in the dialogue called “Protagoras,” and in two distinct dialogues known by the titles of “Hippias Major and Minor.” Hippias is represented as distinguished for the wide range of his accomplishments, of which in these dialogues he ostentatiously boasts. He could teach astronomy, geometry, and arithmetic, which subjects Protagoras censured him for enforcing too much upon his pupils; so little did these sophists agree in any one scheme of doctrine or education. Besides this, he was a poet, a musician, an expositor of the poets, and a lecturer with a large stock of composed matter,—on sub[p. 381]jects moral, political, and even legendary,—treasured up in a very retentive memory. He was a citizen much employed as envoy by his fellow-citizens: to crown all, his manual dexterity was such that he professed to have made with his own hands all the attire and ornaments which he wore on his person. If, as is sufficiently probable, he was a vain and ostentatious man,—defects not excluding an useful and honorable career,—we must at the same time give him credit for a variety of acquisitions such as to explain a certain measure of vanity.[601] The style in which Plato handles Hippias is very different from that in which he treats Protagoras. It is full of sneer and contemptuous banter, insomuch that even Stallbaum,[602] after having repeated a great many times that this was a vile sophist, who deserved no better treatment, is forced to admit that the petulance is carried rather too far, and to suggest that the dialogue must have been a juvenile work of Plato. Be this as it may, amidst so much unfriendly handling, not only we find no imputation against Hippias, of having preached a low or corrupt morality, but Plato inserts that which furnishes good, though indirect, proof of the contrary. For Hippias is made to say that he had already delivered, and was about to deliver again, a lecture composed by himself with great care, wherein he enlarged upon the aims and pursuits which a young man ought to follow. The scheme of his discourse was, that after the capture of Troy, the youthful Neoptolemus was introduced as asking the advice of Nestor about his own future conduct; in reply to which, Nestor sets forth to him what was the plan of life incumbent on a young man of honorable aspirations, and unfolds to him the full details of regulated and virtuous conduct by which it ought to be filled up.[603] The selection of two such names, among the most venerated in all Grecian legend, as monitor and pupil, is a stamp clearly attesting the vein of sentiment which animated the composition. Morality preached by Nestor for the edification of Neoptolemus, might possibly be too[p. 382] high for Athenian practice; but most certainly it would not err on the side of corruption, selfishness, or over-indulgence. We may fairly presume that this discourse composed by Hippias would not be unworthy, in spirit and purpose, to be placed by the side of “The Choice of Hercules,” nor its author by that of Prodikus as a moral teacher.

The dialogue entitled “Gorgias,” in Plato, is carried on by Sokratês with three different persons one after the other,—Gorgias, Pôlus, and Kalliklês. Gorgias of Leontini in Sicily, as a rhetorical teacher, acquired greater celebrity than any man of his time, during the Peloponnesian war: his abundant powers of illustration, his florid ornaments, his artificial structure of sentences distributed into exact antithetical fractions, all spread a new fashion in the art of speaking, which for the time was very popular, but afterwards became discredited. If the line could be clearly drawn between rhetors and sophists, Gorgias ought rather to be ranked with the former.[604] In the conversation with Gorgias, Sokratês exposes the fallacy and imposture of rhetoric and rhetorical teaching, as cheating an ignorant audience into persuasion without knowledge, and as framed to satisfy the passing caprice, without any regard to the permanent welfare and improvement of the people. Whatever real inculpation may be conveyed in these arguments against a rhetorical teacher, Gorgias must bear in common with Isokratês and Quintilian, and under the shield of Aristotle. But save and except rhetorical teaching, no dissemination of corrupt morality is ascribed to him by Plato; who, indeed, treats him with a degree of respect which surprises the commentators.[605]

The tone of the dialogue changes materially when it passes to Pôlus and Kalliklês, the former of whom is described as a writer on rhetoric, and probably a teacher also.[606] There is much insolence in Pôlus, and no small asperity in Sokratês. Yet the former maintains no arguments which justify the charge of immorality against himself or his fellow-teachers. He defends the tastes[p. 383] and sentiments common to every man in Greece, and shared even by the most estimable Athenians, Periklês, Nikias, and Aristokratês;[607] while Sokratês prides himself on standing absolutely alone, and having no support except from his irresistible dialectics, whereby he is sure of extorting reluctant admission from his adversary. How far Sokratês may be right, I do not now inquire: it is sufficient that Pôlus, standing as he does amidst company at once so numerous and so irreproachable, cannot be fairly denounced as a poisoner of the youthful mind.

Pôlus presently hands over the dialogue to Kalliklês, who is here represented, doubtless, as laying down doctrines openly and avowedly anti-social. He distinguishes between the law of nature and the law—both written and unwritten, for the Greek word substantially includes both—of society. According to the law of nature, Kalliklês says, the strong man—the better or more capable man—puts forth his strength to the full for his own advantage, without limit or restraint; overcomes the resistance which weaker men are able to offer; and seizes for himself as much as he pleases of the matter of enjoyment. He has no occasion to restrain any of his appetites or desires; the more numerous and pressing they are, so much the better for him, since his power affords him the means of satiating them all. The many, who have the misfortune to be weak, must be content with that which he leaves them, and submit to it as best they can. This, Kalliklês says, is what actually happens in a state of nature; this is what is accounted just, as is evident by the practice of independent communities, not included in one common political society, towards each other; this is justice, by nature, or according to the law of nature. But when men come into society, all this is reversed. The majority of individuals know very well that they are weak, and that their only chance of security or[p. 384] comfort consists in establishing laws to restrain this strong man, reinforced by a moral sanction of praise and blame devoted to the same general end. They catch him, like a young lion, whilst his mind is yet tender, and fascinate him by talk and training into a disposition conformable to that measure and equality which the law enjoins. Here, then, is justice according to the law of society; a factitious system, built up by the many for their own protection and happiness, to the subversion of the law of nature, which arms the strong man with a right to encroachment and license. Let a fair opportunity occur, and the favorite of Nature will be seen to kick off his harness, tread down the laws, break through the magic circle of opinion around him, and stand forth again as lord and master of the many; regaining that glorious position which nature has assigned to him as his right. Justice by nature, and justice by law and society, are thus, according to Kalliklês, not only distinct, but mutually contradictory. He accuses Sokratês of having jumbled the two together in his argument.[608]

It has been contended by many authors that this anti-social reasoning—true enough, in so far as it states simple[609] matter of fact and probability; immoral, in so far as it erects the power of the strong man into a right; and inviting many comments, if I could find a convenient place for them—represents the morality commonly and publicly taught by the persons called sophists at Athens.[610] I deny this assertion emphatically. Even if I had no[p. 385] other evidence to sustain my denial, except what has been already extracted, from the unfriendly writings of Plato himself, respecting Protagoras and Hippias,—with what we know from Xenophon about Prodikus,—I should consider my case made out as vindicating the sophists generally from such an accusation. If refutation to the doctrine of Kalliklês were needed, it would be obtained quite as efficaciously from Prodikus and Protagoras as from Sokratês and Plato.

But this is not the strongest part of the vindication.

First, Kalliklês himself is not a sophist, nor represented by Plato as such. He is a young Athenian citizen, of rank and station, belonging to the deme Acharnæ; he is intimate with other young men of condition in the city, has recently entered into active political life, and bends his whole soul towards it; he disparages philosophy, and speaks with utter contempt about the sophists.[611] If, then, it were even just, which I do not admit, to infer from opinions put into the mouth of one sophist, that the[p. 386] same were held by another or by all of them, it would not be the less unjust to draw the like inference from opinions professed by one who is not a sophist, and who despises the whole profession.

Secondly, if any man will read attentively the course of the dialogue, he will see that the doctrine of Kalliklês is such as no one dared publicly to propound. So it is conceived both by Kalliklês himself, and by Sokratês. The former first takes up the conversation, by saying that his predecessor Pôlus had become entangled in a contradiction, because he had not courage enough openly to announce an unpopular and odious doctrine; but he, Kalliklês, was less shamefaced, and would speak out boldly that doctrine which others kept to themselves for fear of shocking the hearers. “Certainly (says Sokratês to him) your audacity is abundantly shown by the doctrine which you have just laid down; you set forth plainly that which other people think, but do not choose to utter.”[612] Now, opinions of which Pôlus, an insolent young man, was afraid to proclaim himself the champion, must have been revolting indeed to the sentiments of hearers. How then can any reasonable man believe, that such opinions were not only openly propounded, but seriously inculcated as truth upon audiences of youthful hearers, by the sophists? We know that the teaching of the latter was public in the highest degree; publicity was pleasing as well as profitable to them; among the many disparaging epithets heaped upon them, ostentation and vanity are two of the most conspicuous. Whatever they taught, they taught publicly; and I contend, with full conviction, that, had they even agreed with Kalliklês in this[p. 387] opinion, they could neither have been sufficiently audacious, nor sufficiently their own enemies, to make it a part of their public teaching; but would have acted like Pôlus, and kept the doctrine to themselves.

Thirdly, this latter conclusion will be rendered doubly certain, when we consider of what city we are now speaking. Of all places in the world, the democratical Athens is the last in which the doctrine advanced by Kalliklês could possibly have been professed by a public teacher; or even by Kalliklês himself, in any public meeting. It is unnecessary to remind the reader how profoundly democratical was the sentiment and morality of the Athenians,—how much they loved their laws, their constitution, and their political equality,—how jealous their apprehension was of any nascent or threatening despotism. All this is not simply admitted, but even exaggerated, by Mr. Mitford, Wachsmuth, and other anti-democratical writers, who often draw from it materials for their abundant censures. Now the very point which Sokratês, in this dialogue, called “Gorgias,” seeks to establish against Kalliklês, against the rhetors, and against the sophists, is, that they courted, flattered, and truckled to the sentiment of the Athenian people, with degrading subservience; that they looked to the immediate gratification simply, and not to permanent moral improvement of the people; that they had not courage to address to them any unpalatable truths, however salutary, but would shift and modify opinions in every way, so as to escape giving offence;[613] that no man who put himself prominently forward at Athens had any chance of success, unless he became moulded and assimilated, from the core, to the people and their type of[p. 388] sentiment[614]. Granting such charges to be true, how is it conceivable that any sophist, or any rhetor, could venture to enforce upon an Athenian public audience the doctrine laid down by Kalliklês? To tell such an audience: “Your laws and institutions are all violations of the law of nature, contrived to disappoint the Alkibiadês or Napoleon among you of his natural right to become your master, and to deal with you petty men as his slaves. All your unnatural precautions, and conventional talk, in favor of legality and equal dealing, will turn out to be nothing better than pitiful impotence[615], as soon as he finds a good opportunity of standing forward in his full might and energy, so as to put you into your proper places, and show you what privileges Nature intends for her favorites!” Conceive such a doctrine propounded by a lecturer to assembled Athenians! A doctrine just as revolting to Nikias as to Kleon, and which even Alkibiadês would be forced to affect to disapprove; since it is not simply anti-popular, not simply despotic, but the drunken extravagance of despotism. The Great man, as depicted by Kalliklês, stands in the same relation to ordinary mortals, as Jonathan Wild the Great, in the admirable parody of Fielding.

That sophists, whom Plato accuses of slavish flattery to the democratical ear, should gratuitously insult it by the proposition of such tenets, is an assertion not merely untrue, but utterly absurd. Even as to Sokratês, we know from Xenophon how much the Athenians were offended with him, and how much it was urged by the accusers on his trial, that in his conversations he was wont to cite with peculiar relish the description, in the second book of the Iliad, of Odysseus following the Grecian crowd, when running away from the agora to get on shipboard, and prevailing upon them to come back, by gentle words ad[p. 389]dressed to the chiefs, but by blows of his stick, accompanied with contemptuous reprimand, to the common people. The indirect evidence thus afforded, that Sokratês countenanced unequal dealing and ill usage towards the many, told much against him in the minds of the dikasts. What would they have felt then towards a sophist who publicly professed the political morality of Kalliklês? The truth is, not only was it impossible that any such morality, or anything of the same type even much diluted, could find its way into the educational lectures of professors at Athens, but the fear would be in the opposite direction. If the sophist erred in either way, it would be in that which Sokratês imputes, by making his lectures over-democratical. Nay, if we suppose any opportunity to have arisen of discussing the doctrine of Kalliklês, he would hardly omit to flatter the ears of the surrounding democrats by enhancing the beneficent results of legality and equal dealing, and by denouncing this “natural despot,” or undisclosed Napoleon, as one who must either take his place under such restraints, or find a place in some other city.

I have thus shown, even from Plato himself, that the doctrine ascribed to Kalliklês neither did enter, nor could have entered, into the lectures of a sophist or professed teacher. The same conclusion may be maintained respecting the doctrine of Thrasymachus in the first book of the “Republic.” Thrasymachus was a rhetorical teacher, who had devised precepts respecting the construction of an oration and the training of young men for public speaking. It is most probable that he confined himself, like Gorgias, to this department, and that he did not profess to give moral lectures, like Protagoras and Prodikus. But granting him to have given such, he would not talk about justice in the way in which Plato makes him talk, if he desired to give any satisfaction to an Athenian audience. The mere brutality and ferocious impudence of demeanor even to exaggeration, with which Plato invests him, is in itself a strong proof that the doctrine, ushered in with such a preface, was not that of a popular and acceptable teacher, winning favor in public audiences. He defines justice to be “the interest of the superior power; that rule, which, in every society, the dominant power prescribes, as being for its own advantage.” A man is just, he says, for the advantage of another, not for his own: he is weak, cannot help himself,[p. 390] and must submit to that which the stronger authority, whether despot, oligarchy, or commonwealth, commands.

This theory is essentially different from the doctrine of Kalliklês, as set forth a few pages back; for Thrasymachus does not travel out of society to insist upon anterior rights dating from a supposed state of nature; he takes societies as he finds them, recognizing the actual governing authority of each as the canon and constituent of justice or injustice. Stallbaum and other writers have incautiously treated the two theories as if they were the same; and with something even worse than want of caution, while they pronounce the theory of Thrasymachus to be detestably immoral, announce it as having been propounded not by him only, but by The Sophists; thus, in their usual style, dealing with the sophists as if they were a school, sect, or partnership with mutual responsibility. Whoever has followed the evidence which I have produced respecting Protagoras and Prodikus, will know how differently these latter handled the question of justice.

But the truth is, that the theory of Thrasymachus, though incorrect and defective, is not so detestable as these writers represent. What makes it seem detestable, is the style and manner in which he is made to put it forward; which causes the just man to appear petty and contemptible, while it surrounds the unjust man with enviable attributes. Now this is precisely the circumstance which revolts the common sentiments of mankind, as it revolts also the critics who read what is said by Thrasymachus. The moral sentiments exist in men’s minds in complex and powerful groups, associated with some large words and emphatic forms of speech. Whether an ethical theory satisfies the exigencies of reason, or commands and answers to all the phenomena, a common audience will seldom give themselves the trouble to consider with attention; but what they imperiously exact, and what is indispensable to give the theory any chance of success, is, that it shall exhibit to their feelings the just man as respectable and dignified, and the unjust man as odious and repulsive. Now that which offends in the language ascribed to Thrasymachus is, not merely the absence, but the reversal, of this condition; the presentation of the just man as weak and silly, and of injustice in all the prestige of triumph and dignity. And for this very reason, I venture to infer that such a theory[p. 391] was never propounded by Thrasymachus to any public audience in the form in which it appears in Plato. For Thrasymachus was a rhetor, who had studied the principles of his art: now we know that these common sentiments of an audience, were precisely what the rhetors best understood, and always strove to conciliate. Even from the time of Gorgias, they began the practice of composing beforehand declamations upon the general heads of morality, which were ready to be introduced into actual speeches as occasion presented itself, and in which appeal was made to the moral sentiments foreknown as common, with more or less of modification, to all the Grecian assemblies. The real Thrasymachus, addressing any audience at Athens, would never have wounded these sentiments, as the Platonic Thrasymachus is made to do in the “Republic.” Least of all would he have done this, if it be true of him, as Plato asserts of the rhetors and sophists generally, that they thought about nothing but courting popularity, without any sincerity of conviction.

Though Plato thinks fit to bring out the opinion of Thrasymachus with accessories unnecessarily offensive, and thus to enhance the dialectical triumph of Sokratês by the brutal manners of the adversary, he was well aware that he had not done justice to the opinion itself, much less confuted it. The proof of this is, that in the second book of the “Republic,” after Thrasymachus has disappeared, the very same opinion is taken up by Glaukon and Adeimantus, and set forth by both of them, though they disclaim entertaining it as their own, as suggesting grave doubts and difficulties which they desire to hear solved by Sokratês. Those who read attentively the discourses of Glaukon and Adeimantus, will see that the substantive opinion ascribed to Thrasymachus, apart from the brutality with which he is made to state it, does not even countenance the charge of immoral teaching against him, much less against the sophists generally. Hardly anything in Plato’s compositions is more powerful than those discourses. They present, in a perspicuous and forcible manner, some of the most serious difficulties with which ethical theory is required to grapple. And Plato can answer them only in one way, by taking society to pieces, and reconstructing it in the form of his imaginary republic. The speeches of Glaukon and Adeimantus form the immediate preface to the striking and elaborate description[p. 392] which he goes through, of his new state of society, nor do they receive any other answer than what is implied in that description. Plato indirectly confesses that he cannot answer them, assuming social institutions to continue unreformed: and his reform is sufficiently fundamental.[616]

[p. 393]

I call particular attention to this circumstance, without which we cannot fairly estimate the sophists, or practical teachers of Athens, face to face with their accuser-general, Plato. He was a great and systematic theorist, whose opinions on ethics, politics, cognition, religion, etc., were all wrought into harmony by his own mind, and stamped with that peculiarity which is the mark of an original intellect. So splendid an effort of speculative genius is among the marvels of the Grecian world. His dissent from all the societies which he saw around him, not merely democratical, but oligarchical and despotic also, was of the deepest and most radical character. Nor did he delude himself by the belief, that any partial amendment of that which he saw around could bring about the end which he desired: he looked to nothing short of a new genesis of the man and the citizen, with institutions calculated from the beginning to work out the full measure of perfectibility. His fertile scientific imagination realized this idea in the “Republic.” But that very systematic and original char[p. 394]acter, which lends so much value and charm to the substantive speculations of Plato, counts as a deduction from his trustworthiness as critic or witness, in reference to the living agents whom he saw at work in Athens and other cities, as statesmen, generals, or teachers. His criticisms are dictated by his own point of view, according to which the entire society was corrupt, and all the instruments who carried on its functions were of essentially base metal. Whoever will read either the “Gorgias” or the “Republic,” will see in how sweeping and indiscriminate a manner he passes his sentence of condemnation. Not only all the sophists and all the rhetors,[617] but all the musicians and dithyrambic or tragic poets; all the statesmen, past as well as present, not excepting even the great Periklês, receive from his hands one common stamp of dishonor. Every one of these men are numbered by Plato among the numerous category of flatterers, who minister to the immediate gratification and to the desires of the people, without looking to their permanent improvement, or making them morally better. “Periklês and Kimon (says Sokratês in the “Gorgias”) are nothing but servants or ministers who supply the immediate appetites and tastes of the people; just as the baker and the confectioner do in their respective departments, without knowing or caring whether the food will do any real good, a point which the physician alone can determine. As ministers, they are clever enough: they have provided the city amply with tribute, walls, docks, ships, and such other follies: but I (Sokratês) am the only man in Athens who aim, so far as my strength permits, at the true purpose of politics, the mental improvement of the people.”[618] So wholesale a condemna[p. 395]tion betrays itself as the offspring, and the consistent offspring, of systematic peculiarity of vision, the prejudice of a great and able mind.

It would be not less unjust to appreciate the sophists or the statesmen of Athens from the point of view of Plato, than the present teachers and politicians of England or France from that of Mr. Owen or Fourier. Both the one and the other class labored for society as it stood at Athens: the statesmen carried on the business of practical politics, the sophist trained up youth for practical life in all its departments, as family men, citizens, and leaders, to obey as well as to command. Both accepted the system as it stood, without contemplating the possibility of a new birth of society: both ministered to certain exigences, held their anchorage upon certain sentiments, and bowed to a certain morality, actually felt among the living men around them. That which Plato says of the statesmen of Athens is perfectly true, that they were only servants or ministers of the people. He, who tried the people and the entire society by comparison with an imaginary standard of his own, might deem all these ministers worthless in the lump, as carrying on a system too bad to be mended; but, nevertheless, the difference between a competent and an incompetent minister, between Periklês and Nikias, was of unspeakable moment to the security and happiness of the Athenians. What the sophists on their part undertook was, to educate young men so as to make them better qualified for statesmen or ministers; and Protagoras would have thought it sufficient honor to himself,—as well as sufficient benefit to Athens, which assuredly it would have been,—if he could have inspired any young Athenian with the soul and the capacities of his friend and companion Periklês.

So far is Plato from considering the sophists as the corruptors of Athenian morality, that he distinctly protests against that[p. 396] supposition, in a remarkable passage of the “Republic.” It is, he says, the whole people, or the society, with its established morality, intelligence, and tone of sentiment, which is intrinsically vicious; the teachers of such a society must be vicious also, otherwise their teaching would not be received; and even if their private teaching were ever so good, its effect would be washed away, except in some few privileged natures, by the overwhelming deluge of pernicious social influences.[619] Nor let any one imagine, as modern readers are but too ready to understand it, that this poignant censure is intended for Athens so far forth as a democracy. Plato was not the man to preach king-worship, or wealth-worship, as social or political remedies: he declares emphatically that not one of the societies then existing was such that a truly philosophical nature could be engaged in active functions under it.[620] These passages would be alone sufficient to repel the assertions of those who denounce the sophists as poisoners of Athenian morality, on the alleged authority of Plato.

Nor is it at all more true that they were men of mere words, and made their pupils no better,—a charge just as vehemently pressed against Sokratês as against the sophists,—and by the same class of enemies, such as Anytus,[621] Aristophanês, Eupolis, etc. It was mainly from sophists like Hippias that the Athenian youth learned what they knew of geometry, astronomy, and[p. 397] arithmetic: but the range of what is called special science, possessed even by the teacher, was at that time very limited; and the matter of instruction communicated was expressed under the general title of “Words, or Discourses,” which were always taught by the sophists, in connection with thought, and in reference to a practical use. The capacities of thought, speech, and action, are conceived in conjunction by Greeks generally, and by teachers like Isokratês and Quintilian especially; and when young men in Greece, like the Bœotian Proxenus, put themselves under training by Gorgias or any other sophist, it was with a view of qualifying themselves, not merely to speak, but to act.[622]

Most of the pupils of the sophists, as of Sokratês[623] himself, were young men of wealth; a fact, at which Plato sneers, and others copy him, as if it proved that they cared only about high pay. But I do not hesitate to range myself on the side of Isokratês,[624] and to contend that the sophist himself had much to lose by corrupting his pupils,—an argument used by Sokratês in defending himself before the dikastery, and just as valid in defence of Protagoras or Prodikus,[625]—and strong personal interest in sending them forth accomplished and virtuous; that the best-taught youth were decidedly the most free from crime and the most active towards good; that among the valuable ideas and feelings which a young Athenian had in his mind, as well as among the good pursuits which he followed, those which he learned from the sophists counted nearly as the best; that, if the contrary had been the fact, fathers would not have continued so to send their sons, and pay their money. It was not merely[p. 398] that these teachers countervailed in part the temptations to dissipated enjoyment, but also that they were personally unconcerned in the acrimonious slander and warfare of party in his native city; that the topics with which they familiarized him were, the general interests and duties of men and citizens; that they developed the germs of morality in the ancient legends, as in Prodikus’s fable, and amplified in his mind all the undefined cluster of associations connected with the great words of morality; that they vivified in him the sentiment of Pan-Hellenic brotherhood; and that, in teaching him the art of persuasion,[626] they could not but make him feel the dependence in which he stood towards those who were to be persuaded, together with the necessity under which he lay of so conducting himself as to conciliate their good-will.

The intimations given in Plato, of the enthusiastic reception which Protagoras, Prodikus, and other sophists[627] met with in the various cities; the description which we read, in the dialogue called Protagoras, of the impatience of the youthful Hippokratês, on hearing of the arrival of that sophist, insomuch that he awakens Sokratês before daylight, in order to obtain an introduction to the new-comer and profit by his teaching; the readiness of such rich young men to pay money, and to devote time and trouble, for the purpose of acquiring a personal superiority apart from their wealth and station; the ardor with which Kallias is represented as employing his house for the hospitable entertainment, and his fortune for the aid, of the sophists; all this makes upon my mind an impression directly the reverse of that ironical and contemptuous phraseology with which it is set forth by Plato. Such sophists had nothing to recommend them except superior knowledge and intellectual force, combined with an imposing personality, making itself felt in their lectures and conversation. It is to this that the admiration was shown; and the fact that it was so shown, brings to[p. 399] view the best attributes of the Greek, especially the Athenian mind. It exhibits those qualities of which Periklês made emphatic boast in his celebrated funeral oration;[628] conception of public speech as a practical thing, not meant as an excuse for inaction, but combined with energetic action, and turning it to good account by full and open discussion beforehand; profound sensibility to the charm of manifested intellect, without enervating the powers of execution or endurance. Assuredly, a man like Protagoras, arriving in a city with all this train of admiration laid before him, must have known very little of his own interest or position, if he began to preach a low or corrupt morality. If it be true generally, as Voltaire has remarked, that “any man who should come to preach a relaxed morality would be pelted,” much more would it be true of a sophist like Protagoras, arriving in a foreign city with all the prestige of a great intellectual name, and with the imagination of youths on fire to hear and converse with him, that any similar doctrine would destroy his reputation at once. Numbers of teachers have made their reputation by inculcating overstrained asceticism; it will be hard to find an example of success in the opposite vein.


That the professional teachers called sophists, in Greece, were intellectual and moral corruptors, and that much corruption grew up under their teaching in the Athenian mind, are common statements, which I have endeavored to show to be erroneous. Corresponding to these statements is another, which repre[p. 400]sents Sokratês as one whose special merit it was to have rescued the Athenian mind from such demoralizing influences; a reputation which he neither deserves nor requires. In general, the favorable interpretation of evidence, as exhibited towards Sokratês, has been scarcely less marked than the harshness of presumption against the sophists. Of late, however, some authors have treated his history in an altered spirit, and have manifested a disposition to lower him down to that which they regard as the sophistical level. M. Forchhammer’s treatise: “The Athenians and Sokratês, or Lawful Dealing against Revolution,” goes even further, and maintains confidently that Sokratês was most justly condemned as an heretic, a traitor, and a corrupter of youth. His book, the conclusions of which I altogether reject, is a sort of retribution to the sophists, as extending to their alleged opponent the same bitter and unfair spirit of construction with that under which they have so long unjustly suffered. But when we impartially consider the evidence, it will appear that Sokratês deserves our admiration and esteem; not, indeed, as an anti-sophist, but as combining with the qualities of a good man, a force of character and an originality of speculation as well as of method, and a power of intellectually working on others, generically different from that of any professional teacher, without parallel either among contemporaries or successors.

The life of Sokratês comprises seventy years, from 469 to 399 B.C. His father, Sophroniskus, being a sculptor, the son began by following the same profession, in which he attained sufficient proficiency to have executed various works; especially a draped group of the Charites, or Graces, preserved in the acropolis, and shown as his work down to the time of Pausanias.[629] His mother, Phænaretê, was a midwife, and he had a brother by the mother’s side named Patroklês.[630] Respecting his wife Xanthippê, and his three sons, all that has passed into history is the violent temper of the former, and the patience of her husband in enduring it. The position and family of Sokratês, without being absolutely poor, were humble and unimportant but he[p. 401] was of genuine Attic breed, belonging to the ancient gens Dædalidæ, which took its name from Dædalus, the mythical artist as progenitor.

The personal qualities of Sokratês, on the other hand, were marked and distinguishing, not less in body than in mind. His physical constitution was healthy, robust, and enduring, to an extraordinary degree. He was not merely strong and active as an hoplite on military service, but capable of bearing fatigue or hardship, and indifferent to heat or cold, in a measure which astonished all his companions. He went barefoot in all seasons of the year, even during the winter campaign at Potidæa, under the severe frosts of Thrace; and the same homely clothing sufficed to him for winter as well as for summer. Though his diet was habitually simple as well as abstemious, yet there were occasions, of religious festival or friendly congratulation, on which every Greek considered joviality and indulgence to be becoming. On such occasions, Sokratês could drink more wine than any guest present, yet without being overcome or intoxicated.[631] He abstained, on principle, from all extreme gymnastic training, which required, as necessary condition, extraordinary abundance of food.[632] It was his professed purpose to limit, as much as possible, the number of his wants, as a distant approach to the perfection of the gods, who wanted nothing, to control such as were natural, and prevent the multiplication of any that were artificial.[633] Nor can there be any doubt that his admirable[p. 402] bodily temperament contributed materially to facilitate such a purpose, and assist him in the maintenance of that self-mastery, contented self-sufficiency, and independence of the favor[634] as well as of the enmity of others, which were essential to his plan of intellectual life. His friends, who communicate to us his great bodily strength and endurance, are at the same time full of jests upon his ugly physiognomy; his flat nose, thick lips, and prominent eyes, like a satyr, or silenus.[635] Nor can we implicitly trust the evidence of such very admiring witnesses, as to the philosopher’s exemption from infirmities of temper; for there seems good proof that he was by natural temperament violently irascible; a defect which he generally kept under severe control, but which occasionally betrayed him into great improprieties of language and demeanor.[636]

Of those friends, the best known to us are Xenophon and Plato, though there existed in antiquity various dialogues com[p. 403]posed, and memoranda put together, by other hearers of Sokratês, respecting his conversations and teaching, which are all now lost.[637] The “Memorabilia” of Xenophon profess to record actual conversations held by Sokratês, and are prepared with the announced purpose of vindicating him against the accusations of Melêtus and his other accusers on the trial, as well as against unfavorable opinions, seemingly much circulated respecting his character and purposes. We thus have in it a sort of partial biography, subject to such deductions from its evidentiary value as may be requisite for imperfection of memory, intentional decoration, and partiality. On the other hand, the purpose of Plato, in the numerous dialogues wherein he introduces Sokratês, is not so clear, and is explained very differently by different commentators. Plato was a great speculative genius, who came to form opinions of his own distinct from those of Sokratês, and employed the name of the latter as spokesman for these opinions in various dialogues. How much, in the Platonic Sokratês, can be safely accepted either as a picture of the man or as a record of his opinions,—how much, on the other hand, is to be treated as Platonism; or in what proportions the two are intermingled,—is a point not to be decided with certainty or rigor. The “Apology of Sokratês,” the “Kriton,” and the “Phædon,”—in so far as it is a moral picture, and apart from the doctrines advocated in it,—appear to belong to the first category; while the political and social views of the “Republic” and of the treatise “De Legibus,” the cosmic theories in the “Timæus,” and the hypothesis of Ideas, as substantive existences apart from the phenomenal world, in the various dialogues wherever it is stated, certainly belong to the second. Of the ethical dialogues, much[p. 404] may be probably taken to represent Sokratês, more or less Platonized.

But though the opinions put by Plato into the mouth of Sokratês are liable to thus much of uncertainty, we find, to our great satisfaction, that the pictures given by Plato and Xenophon of their common master are in the main accordant; differing only as drawn from the same original by two authors radically different in spirit and character. Xenophon, the man of action, brings out at length those conversations of Sokratês which had a bearing on practical conduct, and were calculated to correct vice or infirmity in particular individuals; such being the matter which served his purpose as an apologist, at the same time that it suited his intellectual taste. But he intimates, nevertheless, very plainly, that the conversation of Sokratês was often, indeed usually, of a more negative, analytical, and generalizing tendency;[638] not destined for the reproof of positive or special defect, but to awaken the inquisitive faculties and lead to the rational comprehension of vice and virtue as referable to determinate general principles. Now this latter side of the master’s physiognomy, which Xenophon records distinctly, though without emphasis or development, acquires almost exclusive prominence in the Platonic picture. Plato leaves out the practical, and consecrates himself to the theoretical, Sokratês; whom he divests in part of his identity, in order to enrol him as chief speaker in certain larger theoretical views of his own. The two pictures, therefore, do not contradict each other, but mutually supply each other’s defects, and admit of being blended into one consistent whole. And respecting the method of Sokratês, a point more characteristic than either his precepts or his theory,—as well as respecting the effect of that method on the minds of hearers,—both Xenophon and Plato are witnesses substantially in unison: though, here again, the latter has made the method his own,[p. 405] worked it out on a scale of enlargement and perfection, and given to it a permanence which it could never have derived from its original author, who only talked and never wrote. It is fortunate that our two main witnesses about him, both speaking from personal knowledge, agree to so great an extent.

Both describe in the same manner his private life and habits; his contented poverty, justice, temperance in the largest sense of the word, and self-sufficing independence of character. On most of these points too, Aristophanês and the other comic writers, so far as their testimony counts for anything, appear as confirmatory witnesses; for they abound in jests on the coarse fare, shabby and scanty clothing, bare feet, pale face, poor and joyless life, of Sokratês.[639] Of the circumstances of his life we are almost wholly ignorant: he served as an hoplite at Potidæa, at Delium, and at Amphipolis; with credit apparently in all, though exaggerated encomiums on the part of his friends provoked an equally exaggerated skepticism on the part of Athenæus and others. He seems never to have filled any political office until the year (B.C. 406) in which the battle of Arginusæ occurred, in which year he was member of the senate of Five Hundred, and one of the prytanes on that memorable day when the proposition of Kallixenus against the six generals was submitted to the public assembly: his determined refusal, in spite of all personal hazard, to put an unconstitutional question to the vote, has been already recounted. That during his long life he strictly obeyed the laws,[640] is proved by the fact that none of his numerous enemies ever arraigned him before a court of justice: that he discharged all the duties of an upright man and a brave as well as pious citizen, may also be confidently asserted. His friends lay especial stress upon his piety; that is, upon his exact discharge[p. 406] of all the religious duties considered as incumbent upon an Athenian.[641]

Though these points are requisite to be established, in order that we may rightly interpret the character of Sokratês, it is not from them that he has derived his eminent place in history. Three peculiarities distinguish the man. 1. His long life passed in contented poverty, and in public, apostolic dialectics. 2. His strong religious persuasion, or belief, of acting under a mission and signs from the gods; especially his dæmon, or genius; the special religious warning of which he believed himself to be frequently the subject. 3. His great intellectual originality, both of subject and of method, and his power of stirring and forcing the germ of inquiry and ratiocination in others. Though these three characteristics were so blended in Sokratês that it is not easy to consider them separately; yet, in each respect, he stood distinguished from all Greek philosophers before or after him.

At what time Sokratês relinquished his profession as a statuary we do not know; but it is certain that all the middle and later part of his life, at least, was devoted exclusively to the self-imposed task of teaching; excluding all other business, public or private, and to the neglect of all means of fortune. We can hardly avoid speaking of him as a teacher, though he himself disclaimed the appellation:[642] his practice was to talk or converse, or to prattle without end,[643] if we translate the derisory word by which the enemies of philosophy described dialectic conversation. Early in the morning he frequented the public walks, the gymnasia for bodily training, and the schools where youths were receiving instruction: he was to be seen in the market-place at the hour when it was most crowded, among the booths and tables where goods were exposed for sale: his whole day was usually spent in this[p. 407] public manner.[644] He talked with any one, young or old, rich or poor, who sought to address him, and in the hearing of all who chose to stand by: not only he never either asked or received any reward, but he made no distinction of persons, never withheld his conversation from any one, and talked upon the same general topics to all. He conversed with politicians, sophists, military men, artisans, ambitious or studious youths, etc. He visited all persons of interest in the city, male or female: his friendship with Aspasia is well known, and one of the most interesting chapters[645] of Xenophon’s Memorabilia recounts his visit to and dialogue with Theodotê, a beautiful hetæra, or female companion. Nothing could be more public, perpetual, and indiscriminate as to persons than his conversation. But as it was engaging, curious, and instructive to hear, certain persons made it their habit to attend him in public as companions and listeners. These men, a fluctuating body, were commonly known as his disciples, or scholars; though neither he nor his personal friends ever employed the terms teacher and disciple to describe the relation between them.[646] Many of them came, attracted by his reputation,[p. 408] during the later years of his life, from other Grecian cities; Megara, Thebes, Elis, Kyrênê, etc.

Now no other person in Athens, or in any other Grecian city, appears ever to have manifested himself in this perpetual and indiscriminate manner as a public talker for instruction. All teachers either took money for their lessons, or at least gave them apart from the multitude in a private house or garden, to special pupils, with admissions and rejections at their own pleasure. By the peculiar mode of life which Sokratês pursued, not only his conversation reached the minds of a much wider circle, but he became more abundantly known as a person. While acquiring a few attached friends and admirers, and raising a certain intellectual interest in others, he at the same time provoked a large number of personal enemies. This was probably the reason why he was selected by Aristophanês and the other comic writers, to be attacked as a general representative of philosophical and rhetorical teaching; the more so, as his marked and repulsive physiognomy admitted so well of being imitated in the mask which the actor wore. The audience at the theatre would more readily recognize the peculiar figure which they were accustomed to see every day in the market-place, than if Prodikus or Protagoras, whom most of them did not know by sight, had been brought on the stage; nor was it of much importance, either to them or to Aristophanês, whether Sokratês was represented as teaching what he did really teach, or something utterly different.

This extreme publicity of life and conversation was one among the characteristics of Sokratês, distinguishing him from all teachers either before or after him. Next, was his persuasion of a special religious mission, restraints, impulses, and communications, sent to him by the gods. Taking the belief in such supernatural intervention generally, it was indeed noway peculiar to Sokratês: it was the ordinary faith of the ancient world; insomuch that the attempts to resolve phenomena into general laws were looked upon with a certain disapprobation, as indirectly setting it aside. And Xenophon[647] accordingly avails himself of this general fact, in replying to the indictment for religious innovation, of which[p. 409] his master was found guilty, to affirm that the latter pretended to nothing beyond what was included in the creed of every pious man. But this is not an exact statement of the matter in debate; for it slurs over at least, if it does not deny, that speciality of inspiration from the gods, which those who talked with Sokratês—as we learn even from Xenophon—believed, and which Sokratês himself believed also.[648] Very different is his own representation, as put forth in the defence before the dikastery. He had been accustomed constantly to hear, even from his childhood, a divine voice, interfering, at moments when he was about to act, in the way of restraint, but never in the way of instigation. Such prohibitory warning was wont to come upon him very frequently, not merely on great, but even on small occasions, intercepting what he was about to do or to say.[649] Though later writers speak[p. 410] of this as the dæmon or genius of Sokratês, he himself does not personify it, but treats it merely as a “divine sign, a prophetic or supernatural voice.”[650] He was accustomed not only to obey it implicitly, but to speak of it publicly and familiarly to others, so that the fact was well known both to his friends and to his enemies. It had always forbidden him to enter on public life; it forbade him, when the indictment was hanging over him, to take any thought for a prepared defence;[651] and so completely did he march with a consciousness of this bridle in his mouth, that when he felt no check, he assumed that the turning which he was about to take was the right one. Though his persuasion on the subject was unquestionably sincere, and his obedience constant, yet he never dwelt upon it himself as anything grand, or awful, or entitling him to peculiar deference; but spoke of it often in his usual strain of familiar playfulness. To his friends generally, it seems to have constituted one of his titles to reverence, though neither Plato nor Xenophon scruple to talk of it in that jesting[p. 411] way which doubtless they caught from himself.[652] But to his enemies and to the Athenian public, it appeared in the light of an offensive heresy; an impious innovation on the orthodox creed, and a desertion of the recognized gods of Athens.

Such was the dæmon or genius of Sokratês, as described by himself and as conceived in the genuine Platonic dialogues; a voice always prohibitory, and bearing exclusively upon his own personal conduct.[653] That which Plutarch and other admirers of Sokratês conceived as a dæmon, or intermediate being between gods and men, was looked upon by the fathers of the Christian church as a devil; by LeClerc, as one of the fallen angels; by some other modern commentators, as mere ironical phraseology on the part of Sokratês himself.[654] Without presuming to determine the question raised in the former hypotheses, I believe the last to be untrue, and that the conviction of Sokratês on the point was quite sincere. A circumstance little attended to, but deserving peculiar notice, and stated by himself, is, that the restraining voice began when he was a child, and continued even down to the end of his life: it had thus become an established persuasion, long before his philosophical habits began. But though this peculiar form of inspiration belonged exclusively to him, there were[p. 412] also other ways in which he believed himself to have received the special mandates of the gods, not simply checking him when he was about to take a wrong turn, but spurring him on, directing, and peremptorily exacting from him, a positive course of proceeding. Such distinct mission had been imposed upon him by dreams, by oracular intimations, and by every other means which the gods employed for signifying their special will.[655]

Of these intimations from the oracle, he specifies particularly one, in reply to a question put at Delphi, by his intimate friend, and enthusiastic admirer, Chærephon. The question put was, whether any other man was wiser than Sokratês; to which the Pythian priestess replied, that no other man was wiser.[656] Sokratês affirms that he was greatly perplexed on hearing this declaration from so infallible an authority, being conscious to himself that he possessed no wisdom on any subject, great or small. At length, after much meditation and a distressing mental struggle, he resolved to test the accuracy of the infallible priestess, by taking measure of the wisdom of others as compared with his own. Selecting a leading politician, accounted wise both by others and by himself, he proceeded to converse with him and put scrutinizing questions; the answers to which satisfied him that this man’s supposed wisdom was really no wisdom at all. Having made such a discovery, Sokratês next tried to demonstrate to the politician himself how much he wanted of being wise; but this was impossible; the latter still remained as fully persuaded of his own wisdom as before. “The result which I acquired (says Sokratês) was, that I was a wiser man than he, for neither he nor I knew anything of what was truly good and honorable; but the difference between us was, that he fancied he knew them, while I was fully conscious of my own ignorance; I was thus wiser than he, inasmuch as I was exempt from that capital error.” So far, therefore, the oracle was proved to be right.[p. 413] Sokratês repeated the same experiment successively upon a great number of different persons, especially those in reputation for distinguished abilities; first, upon political men and rhetors, next upon poets of every variety, and upon artists as well as artisans. The result of his trial was substantially the same in all cases. The poets, indeed, composed splendid verses, but when questioned even about the words, the topics, and the purpose, of their own compositions, they could give no consistent or satisfactory explanations; so that it became evident that they spoke or wrote, like prophets, as unconscious subjects under the promptings of inspiration. Moreover, their success as poets filled them with a lofty opinion of their own wisdom on other points also. The case was similar with artists and artisans; who, while highly instructed, and giving satisfactory answers, each in his own particular employment, were for that reason only the more convinced that they also knew well other great and noble subjects. This great general mistake more than countervailed their special capacities, and left them, on the whole, less wise than Sokratês.[657]

“In this research and scrutiny (said Sokratês, on his defence) I have been long engaged, and am still engaged. I interrogate every man of reputation; I prove him to be defective in wisdom; but I cannot prove it so as to make him sensible of the defect. Fulfilling the mission imposed upon me, I have thus established the veracity of the god, who meant to pronounce that human wisdom was of little reach or worth; and that he who, like Sokratês, felt most convinced of his own worthlessness, as to wisdom, was really the wisest of men.[658] My service to the god has not only constrained me to live in constant poverty[659] and neglect of political estimation, but has brought upon me a host[p. 414] of bitter enemies in those whom I have examined and exposed while the bystanders talk of me as a wise man, because they give me credit for wisdom respecting all the points on which my exposure of others turns.”—“Whatever be the danger and obloquy which I may incur, it would be monstrous indeed, if, having maintained my place in the ranks as an hoplite under your generals at Delium and Potidæa, I were now, from fear of death or anything else, to disobey the oracle and desert the post which the god has assigned to me, the duty of living for philosophy and cross-questioning both myself and others.[660] And should you even now offer to acquit me, on condition of my renouncing this duty, I should tell you, with all respect and affection, that I will obey the god rather than you, and that I will persist, until my dying day, in cross-questioning you, exposing your want of wisdom and virtue, and reproaching you until the defect be remedied.[661] My mission as your monitor is a mark of the special favor of the god to you; and if you condemn me, it will be your loss; for you will find none other such.[662] Perhaps you will ask me, Why cannot you go away, Sokratês, and live among us in peace and silence? This is the hardest of all questions for me to answer to your satisfaction. If I tell you that silence on my part would be disobedience to the god, you will think me in jest, and not believe me. You will believe me still less, if I tell you that the greatest blessing which can happen to man is, to carry on discussions every day about virtue and those other matters which you hear me canvassing when I cross-examine myself as well as others; and that life, without such examination, is no life at all. Nevertheless, so stands the fact, incredible as it may seem to you.”[663]

[p. 415]

I have given rather ample extracts from the Platonic Apology, because no one can conceive fairly the character of Sokratês who does not enter into the spirit of that impressive discourse. We see in it plain evidence of the marked supernatural mission which he believed himself to be executing, and which would not allow him to rest or employ himself in other ways. The oracular answer brought by Chærephon from Delphi, was a fact of far more importance in his history than his so-called dæmon, about which so much more has been said. That answer, together with the dreams and other divine mandates concurrent to the same end, came upon him in the middle of his life, when the intellectual man was formed, and when he had already acquired a reputation for wisdom among those who knew him. It supplied a stimulus which brought into the most pronounced action a pre-existing train of generalizing dialectics and Zenonian negation, an intellectual vein with which the religious impulse rarely comes into confluence. Without such a motive, to which his mind was peculiarly susceptible, his conversation would probably have taken the same general turn, but would assuredly have been restricted within much narrower and more cautious limits. For nothing could well be more unpopular and obnoxious than the task which he undertook of cross-examining, and convicting of ignorance, every distinguished man whom he could approach. So violent, indeed, was the enmity which he occasionally provoked, that there were instances, we are told, in which he was struck or maltreated,[664] and very frequently laughed to scorn. Though he acquired much admiration from auditors, especially youthful auditors, and from a few devoted adherents, yet the philosophical motive alone would not have sufficed to prompt him to that systematic, and even obtrusive, cross-examination which he adopted as the business of his life.

This, then, is the second peculiarity which distinguishes Sokratês, in addition to his extreme publicity of life and indiscriminate conversation. He was not simply a philosopher, but a religious missionary doing the work of philosophy; “an elench[p. 416]tic,—or cross-examining god,—to use an expression which Plato puts into his mouth respecting an Eleatic philosopher going about to examine and convict the infirm in reason.”[665] Nothing of this character belonged either to Parmenidês and Anaxagoras before him, or to Plato and Aristotle after him. Both Pythagoras and Empedoklês did, indeed, lay claim to supernatural communications, mingled with their philosophical teaching. But though there be thus far a general analogy between them and Sokratês, the modes of manifestation were so utterly different, that no fair comparison can be instituted.

The third and most important characteristic of Sokratês—that, through which the first and second became operative—was his intellectual peculiarity. His influence on the speculative mind of his age was marked and important; as to subject, as to method, and as to doctrine.

He was the first who turned his thoughts and discussions distinctly to the subject of ethics. With the philosophers who preceded him, the subject of examination had been Nature, or the Kosmos,[666] as one undistinguishable whole, blending together cosmogony, astronomy, geometry, physics, metaphysics, etc. The Ionic as well as the Eleatic philosophers, Pythagoras as well as Empedoklês, all set before themselves this vast and undefined problem; each framing some system suited to his own vein of imagination; religious, poetical, scientific, or skeptical. According to that honorable ambition for enlarged knowledge, however, which marked the century following 480 B.C., and of which the professional men called sophists were at once the products and the instruments, arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy, as much as was then known, were becoming so far detached sciences as to[p. 417] be taught separately to youth. Such appears to have been the state of science when Sokratês received his education. He received at least the ordinary amount of instruction in all:[667] he devoted himself as a young man to the society and lessons of the physical philosopher Archelaus,[668] the disciple of Anaxagoras, whom he accompanied from Athens to Samos; and there is even reason to believe that, during the earlier part of his life, he was much devoted to what was then understood as the general study of Nature.[669] A man of his earnest and active intellect was likely first to manifest his curiosity as a learner: “to run after and track the various discourses of others, like a Laconian hound,” if I may borrow an expression applied to him by Plato,[670] before he[p. 418] struck out any novelties of his own. And in Plato’s dialogue called “Parmenidês,” Sokratês appears as a young man full of ardor for the discussion of the Parmenidean theory, looking up with reverence to Parmenidês and Zeno, and receiving from them instructions in the process of dialectical investigation. I have already, in the preceding chapter,[671] noted the tenor of that dialogue, as illustrating the way in which Grecian philosophy presents itself, even at the first dawn of dialectics, as at once negative and positive, recognizing the former branch of method no less than the latter as essential to the attainment of truth. I construe it as an indication respecting the early mind of Sokratês, imbibing this conviction from the ancient Parmenidês and the mature and practised Zeno, and imposing upon himself, as a condition of assent to any hypothesis or doctrine, the obligation of setting forth conscientiously all that could be said against it, not less than all that could be said in its favor: however laborious such a process might be, and however little appreciated by the multitude.[672] Little as we know the circumstances which went to form the remarkable mind of Sokratês, we may infer from this dialogue that he owes in part his powerful negative vein of dialectics to “the double-tongued and all-objecting Zeno.”[673]

To a mind at all exigent on the score of proof, physical science as handled in that day was indeed likely to appear not only unsatisfactory, but hopeless; and Sokratês, in the maturity of his life, deserted it altogether. The contradictory hypotheses which he heard, with the impenetrable confusion which overhung the subject, brought him even to the conviction, that the gods intended the machinery by which they brought about astronomical and physical results to remain unknown, and that it was impious, as[p. 419] well as useless, to pry into their secrets.[674] His master Archelaus, though mainly occupied with physics, also speculated more or less concerning moral subjects; concerning justice and injustice, the laws, etc.; and is said to have maintained the tenet, that justice and injustice were determined by law or convention, not by nature. From him, perhaps, Sokratês may have been partly led to turn his mind in this direction. But to a man disappointed with physics, and having in his bosom a dialectical impulse powerful, unemployed, and restless, the mere realities of Athenian life, even without Archelaus, would suggest human relations, duties, action and suffering, as the most interesting materials for contemplation and discourse. Sokratês could not go into the public assembly, the dikastery, or even the theatre, without hearing discussions about what was just or unjust, honorable or base, expedient or hurtful, etc., nor without having his mind conducted to the inquiry, what was the meaning of these large words which opposing disputants often invoked with equal reverential confidence. Along with the dialectic and generalizing power of Sokratês, which formed his bond of connection with such minds as Plato, there was at the same time a vigorous practicality, a large stock of positive Athenian experience, with which Xenophon chiefly sympathized, and which he has brought out in his “Memorabilia.” Of these two intellectual tendencies, combined with a strong religious sentiment, the character of Sokratês is composed; and all of them were gratified at once, when he devoted himself to admonitory interrogation on the rules and purposes of human life; from which there was the less to divert him, as he had neither talents nor taste for public speaking.

That “the proper study of mankind is man,”[675] Sokratês was the first to proclaim: he recognized the security and happiness of man both as the single end of study, and as the limiting principle[p. 420] whereby it ought to be circumscribed. In the present state to which science has attained, nothing is more curious than to look back at the rules which this eminent man laid down. Astronomy—now exhibiting the maximum of perfection, with the largest and most exact power of predicting future phenomena which human science has ever attained—was pronounced by him to be among the divine mysteries which it was impossible to understand, and madness to investigate, as Anaxagoras had foolishly pretended to do. He admitted, indeed, that there was advantage in knowing enough of the movements of the heavenly bodies to serve as an index to the change of seasons, and as guides for voyages, journeys by land, or night-watches: but thus much, he said, might easily be obtained from pilots and watchmen, while all beyond was nothing but waste of valuable time, exhausting that mental effort which ought to be employed in profitable acquisitions. He reduced geometry to its literal meaning of land-measuring, necessary so far as to enable any one to proceed correctly in the purchase, sale, or division of land, which any man of common attention might do almost without a teacher; but silly and worthless, if carried beyond, to the study of complicated diagrams.[676] Respecting arithmetic, he gave the same qualified permission of study; but as to general physics, or the study of Nature, he discarded it altogether: “Do these inquirers (he asked) think that they already know human affairs well enough, that they thus begin to meddle with divine? Do they think that they shall be able to excite or calm the winds and the rain at pleasure, or have they no other view than to gratify an idle curiosity? Surely, they must see that such matters are beyond human investigation. Let them only recollect how much the greatest men, who have attempted the investigation, differ in their pretended results, holding opinions extreme and opposite to each other, like those of madmen!” Such was the view which Sokratês took of physical science and its prospects.[677] It is the[p. 421] very same skepticism in substance, and carried farther in degree, though here invested with a religious coloring, for which Ritter and others so severely denounce Gorgias. But looking at matters as they stood in 440-430 B.C., it ought not to be accounted even surprising, much less blamable. To an acute man of that day, physical science as then studied may well be conceived to have promised no result; and even to have seemed worse than barren, if, like Sokratês, he had an acute perception how much of human happiness was forfeited by immorality, and by corrigible ignorance; how much might be gained by devoting the same amount of earnest study to this latter object. Nor ought we to omit remarking, that the objection of Sokratês: “You may judge how unprofitable are these studies, by observing how widely the students differ among themselves,” remains in high favor down to the present day, and may constantly be seen employed against theoretical men, or theoretical arguments, in every department.

Sokratês desired to confine the studies of his hearers to human matters as distinguished from divine, the latter comprehending astronomy and physics. He looked at all knowledge from the point of view of human practice, which had been assigned by the gods to man as his proper subject for study and learning, and with reference to which, therefore, they managed all the current phenomena upon principles of constant and intelligible sequence, so that every one who chose to learn, might learn, while those who took no such pains suffered for their neglect. Even in these, however, the most careful study was not by itself completely sufficient; for the gods did not condescend to submit all the phenomena to constant antecedence and consequence, but reserved to themselves the capital turns and junctures for special sentence.[678] Yet here again, if a man had been diligent in learning all that[p. 422] the gods permitted to be learned; and if, besides, he was assiduous in pious court to them, and in soliciting special information by way of prophecy, they would be gracious to him, and signify beforehand how they intended to act in putting the final hand and in settling the undecipherable portions of the problem.[679] The kindness of the gods in replying through their oracles, or sending information by sacrificial signs or prodigies, in cases of grave difficulty, was, in the view of Sokratês, one of the most signal evidences of their care for the human race.[680] To seek access to these prophecies, or indications of special divine intervention to come, was the proper supplementary business of any one who had done as much for himself as could be done by patient study.[681] But as it was madness in a man to solicit special information from the gods on matters which they allowed him to learn by his own diligence, so it was not less madness in him to investigate as a learner that which they chose to keep back for their own specialty of will.[682]

Such was the capital innovation made by Sokratês in regard to the subject of Athenian study, bringing down philosophy, to use the expression of Cicero,[683] from the heavens to the earth; and such his attempt to draw the line between that which was, and was not, scientifically discoverable; an attempt remarkable, inasmuch as it shows his conviction that the scientific and the religious point of view mutually excluded one another, so that where the latter began, the former ended. It was an innovation, inestimable, in respect to the new matter which it let in; of little import, as regards that which it professed to exclude. For in point of fact, physical science, though partially discouraged, was never absolutely excluded, through any prevalence of that systematic disapproval which he, in common with the multitude of his day,[p. 423] entertained: if it became comparatively neglected, this arose rather from the greater popularity, and the more abundant and accessible matter, of that which he introduced. Physical or astronomical science was narrow in amount, known only to few, and even with those few it did not admit of being expanded, enlivened, or turned to much profitable account in discussion. But the moral and political phenomena on which Sokratês turned the light of speculation were abundant, varied, familiar, and interesting to every one; comprising—to translate a Greek line which he was fond of quoting—“all the good and evil which has befallen you in your home;”[684] connected too, not merely with the realities of the present, but also with the literature of the past, through the gnomic and other poets.

The motives which determined this important innovation, as to the subject of study, exhibits Sokratês chiefly as a religious man and a practical, philanthropic preceptor, the Xenophontic hero. His innovations, not less important, as to method and doctrine, place before us the philosopher and dialectician; the other side of his character, or the Platonic hero; faintly traced, indeed, yet still recognized and identified by Xenophon.

“Sokratês,” says the latter,[685] “continued incessantly discussing human affairs (the sense of this word will be understood by what has been said above, page 420); investigating: What is piety? What is impiety? What is the honorable and the base? What is the just and the unjust? What is temperance or unsound mind? What is courage or cowardice? What is a city? What is the character fit for a citizen? What is authority over men? What is the character befitting the exercise of such authority? and other similar questions. Men who knew these matters he accounted good and honorable; men who were ignorant of them he assimilated to slaves.”

Sokratês, says Xenophon again, in another passage, considered that the dialectic process consisted in coming together and taking common counsel, to distinguish and distribute things into genera, or families, so as to learn what each separate thing really was. To go through this process carefully was indispensable, as the[p. 424] only way of enabling a man to regulate his own conduct, aiming at good objects and avoiding bad. To be so practised as to be able to do it readily, was essential to make a man a good leader or adviser of others. Every man who had gone through the process, and come to know what each thing was, could also of course define it and explain it to others; but if he did not know, it was no wonder that he went wrong himself, and put others wrong besides.[686] Moreover, Aristotle says: “To Sokratês we may unquestionably assign two novelties; inductive discourses, and the definitions of general terms.”[687]

[p. 425]

I borrow here intentionally from Xenophon in preference to Plato; since the former, tamely describing a process which he imperfectly appreciated, identifies it so much the more completely with the real Sokratês, and is thus a better witness than Plato, whose genius not only conceived but greatly enlarged it, for didactic purposes of his own. In our present state of knowledge, some mental effort is required to see anything important in the words of Xenophon; so familiar has every student been rendered with the ordinary terms and gradations of logic and classification,—such as genus, definition, individual things as comprehended in a genus; what each thing is, and to what genus it belongs, etc. But familiar as these words have now become, they denote a mental process, of which, in 440-430 B.C., few men besides Sokratês had any conscious perception. Of course, men conceived and described things in classes, as is implied in the very form of language, and in the habitual junction of predicates with subjects in common speech. They explained their meaning clearly and forcibly in particular cases: they laid down maxims, argued questions, stated premises, and drew conclusions, on trials in the dikastery, or debates in the assembly: they had an abundant poetical literature, which appealed to every variety of emotion: they were beginning to compile historical narrative, intermixed with reflection and criticism. But though all this was done, and often admirably well done, it was wanting in that analytical consciousness which would have enabled any one to describe, explain, or vindicate what he was doing. The ideas of men—speakers as well as hearers, the productive minds as well as the recipient multitude—were associated together in groups favorable rather to emotional results, or to poetical, rhetorical narrative and descriptive effect, than to methodical generalization, to scientific conception, or to proof either inductive or deductive. That reflex act of attention which enables men to understand, compare, and rectify their own mental process, was only just beginning. It was a recent novelty on the part of the rhetorical teachers, to analyze[p. 426] the component parts of a public harangue, and to propound some precepts for making men tolerable speakers. Protagoras was just setting forth various grammatical distinctions, while Prodikus discriminated the significations of words nearly equivalent and liable to be confounded. All these proceedings appeared then so new[688] as to incur the ridicule even of Plato: yet they were branches of that same analytical tendency which Sokratês now carried into scientific inquiry. It may be doubted whether any one before him ever used the words genus and species, originally meaning family and form, in the philosophical sense now exclusively appropriated to them. Not one of those many names—called by logicians names of the second intention—which imply distinct attention to various parts of the logical process, and enable us to consider and criticize it in detail, then existed. All of them grew out of the schools of Plato, Aristotle, and the subsequent philosophers, so that we can thus trace them in their beginning to the common root and father, Sokratês.

To comprehend the full value of the improvements struck out by Sokratês, we have only to examine the intellectual paths pursued by his predecessors or contemporaries. He set to himself distinct and specific problems: “What is justice? What is piety, courage, political government? What is it which is really denoted by such great and important names, bearing upon the conduct or happiness of man?” Now it has been already remarked that Anaxagoras, Empedoklês, Demokritus, the Pythagoreans, all had still present to their minds those vast and undivided problems which had been transmitted down from the old poets; bending their minds to the invention of some system which would explain them all at once, or assist the imagination in conceiving both how the Kosmos first began, and how it continued to move on.[689] Ethics and physics, man and nature, were all[p. 427] blended together; and the Pythagoreans, who explained all nature by numbers and numerical relations, applied the same explanation to moral attributes, considering justice to be symbolized by a perfect equation, or by four, the first of all square numbers.[690] These early philosophers endeavored to find out the beginnings, the component elements, the moving cause or causes, of things in the mass;[691] but the logical distribution into genus, species, and individuals, does not seem to have suggested itself to them, or to have been made a subject of distinct attention by any one before Sokratês. To study ethics, or human dispositions and ends, apart from the physical world, and according to a theory of their own, referring to human good and happiness as the sovereign and[p. 428] comprehensive end;[692] to treat each of the great and familiar words designating moral attributes, as logical aggregates comprehending many judgments in particular cases, and connoting a certain harmony or consistency of purpose among the separate judgments, to bring many of these latter into comparison, by a scrutinizing dialectical process, so as to test the consistency and completeness of the logical aggregate or general notion, as it stood in every man’s mind: all these were parts of the same forward movement which Sokratês originated.

It was at that time a great progress to break down the unwieldy mass conceived by former philosophers as science; and to study ethics apart, with a reference, more or less distinct, to their own appropriate end. Nay, we see, if we may trust the “Phædon” of Plato,[693] that Sokratês, before he resolved on such pronounced severance, had tried to construct, or had at least yearned after, an undivided and reformed system, including physics also under the ethical end; a scheme of optimistic physics, applying the general idea, “What was best,” as the commanding principle, from whence physical explanations were[p. 429] to be deduced; which he hoped to find, but did not find, in Anaxagoras. But it was a still greater advance to seize, and push out in conscious application, the essential features of that logical process, upon the correct performance of which all our security for general truth depends. The notions of genus, subordinate genera, and individuals as comprehended under them,—we need not here notice the points on which Plato and Aristotle differed from each other and from the modern conceptions on that subject,—were at that time newly brought into clear consciousness in the human mind. The profusion of logical distribution employed in some of the dialogues of Plato, such as the Sophistês and the Politicus, seems partly traceable to his wish to familiarize hearers with that which was then a novelty, as well as to enlarge its development, and diversify its mode of application. He takes numerous indirect opportunities of bringing it out into broad light, by putting into the mouths of his dialogists answers implying complete inattention to it, exposed afterwards in the course of the dialogue by Sokratês.[694] What was now begun by Sokratês, and improved by Plato, was embodied as part in a comprehensive system of formal logic by the genius of Aristotle; a system which was not only of extraordinary value in reference to the processes and controversies of its time, but which also, having become insensibly worked into the minds of instructed men, has contributed much to form what is correct in the habits[p. 430] of modern thinking. Though it has been now enlarged and recast, by some modern authors—especially by Mr. John Stuart Mill, in his admirable System of Logic—into a structure commensurate with the vast increase of knowledge and extension of positive method belonging to the present day, we must recollect that the distance, between the best modern logic and that of Aristotle, is hardly so great as that between Aristotle and those who preceded him by a century, Empedoklês, Anaxagoras, and the Pythagoreans; and that the movement in advance of these latter commences with Sokratês.

By Xenophon, by Plato, and by Aristotle, the growth as well as the habitual use of logical classification is represented as concurrent with and dependent upon dialectics. In this methodized discussion, so much in harmony with the marked sociability of the Greek character, the quick recurrence of short question and answer was needful as a stimulus to the attention, at a time when the habit of close and accurate reflection on abstract subjects had been so little cultivated. But the dialectics of Sokratês had far greater and more important peculiarities than this. We must always consider his method in conjunction with the subjects to which he applied it. As those subjects were not recondite or special, but bore on the practical life of the house, the market-place, the city, the dikastery, the gymnasium, or the temple, with which every one was familiar, so Sokratês never presented himself as a teacher, nor as a man having new knowledge to communicate. On the contrary, he disclaimed such pretensions, uniformly and even ostentatiously. But the subjects on which he talked were just those which every one professed to know perfectly and thoroughly, and on which every one believed himself in a condition to instruct others, rather than to require instruction for himself. On such questions as these: What is justice? What is piety? What is a democracy? What is a law? every man fancied that he could give a confident opinion, and even wondered that any other person should feel a difficulty. When Sokratês, professing ignorance, put any such question, he found no difficulty in obtaining an answer, given off-hand, and with very little reflection. The answer purported to be the explanation or definition of a term—familiar, indeed, but of wide and comprehensive import—given by one who had never before tried to[p. 431] render to himself an account of what it meant. Having got this answer, Sokratês put fresh questions, applying it to specific cases, to which the respondent was compelled to give answers inconsistent with the first; thus showing that the definition was either too narrow, or too wide, or defective in some essential condition. The respondent then amended his answer; but this was a prelude to other questions, which could only be answered in ways inconsistent with the amendment; and the respondent, after many attempts to disentangle himself, was obliged to plead guilty to the inconsistencies, with an admission that he could make no satisfactory answer to the original query, which had at first appeared so easy and familiar. Or, if he did not himself admit this, the hearers at least felt it forcibly. The dialogue, as given to us, commonly ends with a result purely negative, proving that the respondent was incompetent to answer the question proposed to him, in a manner consistent and satisfactory even to himself. Sokratês, as he professed from the beginning to have no positive theory to support, so he maintains to the end the same air of a learner, who would be glad to solve the difficulty if he could, but regrets to find himself disappointed of that instruction which the respondent had promised.

We see by this description of the cross-examining path of this remarkable man, how intimate was the bond of connection between the dialectic method and the logical distribution of particulars into species and genera. The discussion first raised by Sokratês turns upon the meaning of some large generic term, the queries whereby he follows it up, bring the answer given into collision with various particulars which it ought not to comprehend, yet does; or with others, which it ought to comprehend, but does not. It is in this manner that the latent and undefined cluster of association, which has grown up round a familiar term, is as it were penetrated by a fermenting leaven, forcing it to expand into discernible portions, and bringing the appropriate function which the term ought to fulfil, to become a subject of distinct consciousness. The inconsistencies into which the hearer is betrayed in his various answers, proclaim to him the fact that he has not yet acquired anything like a clear and full conception of the common attribute which binds together the various particulars embraced under some term which is ever upon his lips; or perhaps enable him to detect a different fact, not less impor[p. 432]tant, that there is no such common attribute, and that the generalization is merely nominal and fallacious. In either case, he is put upon the train of thought which leads to a correction of the generalization, and lights him on to that which Plato[695] calls, seeing the one in the many, and the many in the one. Without any predecessor to copy, Sokratês, fell as it were instinctively into that which Aristotle[696] describes as the double track of the dialectic process; breaking up the one into many, and recombining the many into one; the former duty, at once the first and the most essential, Sokratês performed directly by his analytical string of questions; the latter, or synthetical process, was one which he did not often directly undertake, but strove so to arm and stimulate the hearer’s mind, as to enable him to do it for himself. This one and many denote the logical distribution of a multifarious subject-matter under generic terms, with clear understanding of the attributes implied or connoted by each term, so as to discriminate those particulars to which it really applies. At a moment when such logical distribution was as yet novel as a subject of consciousness, it could hardly have been probed and laid out in the mind by any less stringent process than the cross-examining dialectics of Sokratês, applied to the analysis of some attempts at definition hastily given by respondents; that “inductive discourse and search for (clear general notions or) definitions of general terms,” which Aristotle so justly points out as his peculiar innovation.

I have already adverted to the persuasion of religious mission under which Sokratês acted in pursuing this system of conversation and interrogation. He probably began it in a tentative way,[697][p. 433] upon a modest scale, and under the pressure of logical embarrassment weighing on his own mind. But as he proceeded, and found himself successful, as well as acquiring reputation among a certain circle of friends, his earnest soul became more and more penetrated with devotion to that which he regarded as a duty. It was at this time probably, that his friend Chærephon came back with the oracular answer from Delphi, noticed a few pages above, to which Sokratês himself alludes as having prompted him to extend the range of his conversation, and to question a class of persons whom he had not before ventured to approach, the noted politicians, poets, and artisans. He found them more confident than humbler individuals in their own wisdom, but quite as unable to reply to his queries without being driven to contradictory answers.

Such scrutiny of the noted men in Athens is made to stand prominent in the “Platonic Apology,” because it was the principal cause of that unpopularity which Sokratês at once laments and accounts for before the dikasts. Nor can we doubt that it was the most impressive portion of his proceedings, in the eyes both of enemies and admirers, as well as the most flattering to his own natural temper. Nevertheless, it would be a mistake to present this part of the general purpose of Sokratês—or of his divine mission, if we adopt his own language—as if it were the whole; and to describe him as one standing forward merely to unmask select leading men, politicians, sophists, poets, or others, who had acquired unmerited reputation, and were puffed up with foolish conceit of their own abilities, being in reality shallow and incompetent. Such an idea of Sokratês is at once inadequate and erroneous. His conversation, as I have before remarked, was absolutely universal and indiscriminate; while the mental defect which he strove to rectify was one not at all peculiar to leading men, but common to them with the mass of mankind, though seeming to be exaggerated in them, partly because more is expected from them, partly because the general feeling of self-estimation stands at a higher level, naturally and reasonably, in their bosoms, than in those of ordinary persons. That defect was, the “seeming and conceit of knowledge without the reality,” on human life with its duties, purposes, and con[p. 434]ditions; the knowledge of which Sokratês called emphatically “human wisdom,” and regarded as essential to the dignity of a freeman; while he treated other branches of science as above the level of man,[698] and as a stretch of curiosity, not merely superfluous, but reprehensible. His warfare against such false persuasion of knowledge, in one man as well as another, upon those subjects—for with him, I repeat, we must never disconnect the method from the subjects—clearly marked even in Xenophon, is abundantly and strikingly illustrated by the fertile genius of Plato, and constituted the true missionary scheme which pervaded the last half of his long life; a scheme far more comprehensive, as well as more generous, than those anti-sophistic polemics which are assigned to him by so many authors as his prominent object.[699]

In pursuing the thread of his examination, there was no topic upon which Sokratês more frequently insisted, than the contrast[p. 435] between the state of men’s knowledge on the general topics of man and society, and that which artists or professional men possessed in their respective special crafts. So perpetually did he reproduce this comparison, that his enemies accused him of wearing it threadbare.[700] Take a man of special vocation—a carpenter, a brazier, a pilot, a musician, a surgeon—and examine him on the state of his professional knowledge, you will find him able to indicate the persons from whom and the steps by which he first acquired it: he can describe to you his general aim, with the particular means which he employs to realize the aim, as well as the reason why such means must be employed and why precautions must be taken to combat such and such particular obstructions: he can teach his profession to others: in matters relating to his profession, he counts as an authority, so that no extra-professional person thinks of contesting the decision of a surgeon in case of disease, or of a pilot at sea. But while such is the fact in regard to every special art, how great is the contrast in reference to the art of righteous, social, and useful living, which forms, or ought to form, the common business alike important to each and to all! On this subject, Sokratês[701] remarked that every[p. 436] one felt perfectly well-informed, and confident in his own knowledge; yet no one knew from whom, or by what steps, he had learned: no one had ever devoted any special reflection either to ends, or means, or obstructions: no one could explain or give a consistent account of the notions in his own mind, when pertinent questions were put to him: no one could teach another, as might be inferred, he thought, from the fact that there were no professed teachers, and that the sons of the best men were often destitute of merit: every one knew for himself, and laid down general propositions confidently, without looking up to any other man as knowing better; yet there was no end of dissension and dispute on particular cases.[702]

Such was the general contrast which Sokratês sought to impress upon his hearers by a variety of questions bearing on it, directly or indirectly. One way of presenting it, which Plato devoted much of his genius to expand in dialogue, was, to discuss, Whether virtue be really teachable. How was it that superior men, like Aristeidês and Periklês,[703] acquired the eminent qualities essential for guiding and governing Athens, since they neither learned them under any known master, as they had studied music and gymnastics, nor could insure the same excellences to their sons, either through their own agency or through that of any master? Was it not rather the fact that virtue, as it was never expressly taught, so it was not really teachable; but was vouchsafed or withheld according to the special volition and grace of the gods? If a man has a young horse to be broken, or trained, he finds without difficulty a professed trainer, thoroughly conversant with the habits of the race,[704] to communicate to the animal the excellence required; but whom can he find to teach virtue to his sons, with the like preliminary knowledge and assured result? Nay, how can any one either teach virtue, or affirm virtue to be teachable, unless he be prepared to explain what virtue is, and what are the points of analogy and difference between its various branches; justice, temperance, fortitude, prudence, etc.? In several of the Platonic dialogues, the discussion turns on the[p. 437] analysis of these last-mentioned words: the “Lachês” and “Protagoras” on courage, the “Charmidês” on temperance, the “Euthyphrôn” on holiness.

By these and similar discussions did Sokratês, and Plato amplifying upon his master, raise indirectly all the important questions respecting society, human aspirations and duties, and the principal moral qualities which were accounted virtuous in individual men. As the general terms, on which his conversation turned, were among the most current and familiar in the language, so also the abundant instances of detail, whereby he tested the hearer’s rational comprehension and consistent application of such large terms, were selected from the best known phenomena of daily life;[705] bringing home the inconsistency, if inconsistency there was, in a manner obvious to every one. The answers made to him,—not merely by ordinary citizens, but by men of talent and genius, such as the poets or the rhetors, when called upon for an explanation of the moral terms and ideas set forth in their own compositions,[706]—revealed alike that state of mind against which his crusade, enjoined and consecrated by the Delphian oracle, was directed, the semblance and conceit of knowledge without real knowledge. They proclaimed confident, unhesitating persuasion, on the greatest and gravest questions concerning man and society, in the bosoms of persons who had never bestowed upon them sufficient reflection to be aware that they involved any difficulty. Such persuasion had grown up gradually and unconsciously, partly by authoritative communication, partly by insensible transfusion, from others; the process beginning antecedent to reason as a capacity, continuing itself with little aid and no control from reason, and never being finally revised. With the great terms and current propositions concerning human life and society, a complex body of association had become accumulated from countless particulars, each separately trivial and lost to the memory, knit together by a powerful sentiment, and imbibed as it were by each man from the atmosphere of authority and example around[p. 438] him. Upon this basis the fancied knowledge really rested; and reason, when invoked at all, was called in simply as an handmaid, expositor, or apologist of the preëxisting sentiment; as an accessory after the fact, not as a test or verification. Every man found these persuasions in his own mind, without knowing how they became established there; and witnessed them in others, as portions of a general fund of unexamined common-place and credence. Because the words were at once of large meaning, embodied in old and familiar mental processes, and surrounded by a strong body of sentiment, the general assertions in which they were embodied appeared self-evident and imposing to every one: so that, in spite of continual dispute in particular cases, no one thought himself obliged to analyze the general propositions themselves, or to reflect whether he had verified their import, and could apply them rationally and consistently.[707]

The phenomenon here adverted to is too obvious, even at the present day, to need further elucidation as matter of fact. In morals, in politics, in political economy, on all subjects relating to man and society, the like confident persuasion of knowledge without the reality is sufficiently prevalent: the like generation and propagation, by authority and example, of unverified convictions, resting upon strong sentiment, without consciousness of the steps or conditions of their growth; the like enlistment of reason as the one-sided advocate of a preëstablished sentiment; the like illusion, because every man is familiar with the language, that therefore every man is master of the complex facts, judgments, and tendencies, involved in its signification, and competent both to apply comprehensive words and to assume the truth or falsehood of large propositions, without any special analysis or study.[708]

[p. 439]

There is one important difference, however, to note, between our time and that of Sokratês. In his day, the impressions not only respecting man and society, but also respecting the physical world, were of this same self-sown, self-propagating, and unscientific character. The popular astronomy of the Sokratic age was an aggregate of primitive, superficial observations and imaginative inferences, passing unexamined from elder men to younger, accepted with unsuspecting faith, and consecrated by intense sentiment. Not only men like Nikias, or Anytus and Melêtus, but even Sokratês himself, protested against the impudence of Anaxagoras, when he degraded the divine Helios and Selênê into a sun and moon of calculable motions and magnitudes. But now, the development of the scientific point of view, with the vast increase of methodized physical and mathematical knowledge, has taught every one that such primitive astronomical and physical convictions were nothing better than “a fancy of knowledge without the reality.”[709] Every one renounces them without hesitation, seeks his conclusions from the scientific teacher, and looks to the proofs alone for his guarantee. A man who has never bestowed special study on astronomy, knows that he is ignorant of it: to fancy that he knows it, without such preparation, would be held an absurdity. While the scientific point of view has thus acquired complete predominance in reference to the physical world, it has made little way comparatively on topics regarding man and society, wherein “fancy of knowledge without the[p. 440] reality” continues to reign, not without criticism and opposition, yet still as a paramount force. And if a new Sokratês were now to put the same questions in the market-place to men of all ranks and professions, he would find the like confident persuasion and unsuspecting dogmatism as to generalities; the like faltering, blindness, and contradiction, when tested by cross-examining details.

In the time of Sokratês, this last comparison was not open; since there did not exist, in any department, a body of doctrine scientifically constituted: but the comparison which he actually took, borrowed from the special trades and professions, brought him to an important result. He was the first to see, and the idea pervades all his speculations, that as in each art or profession there is an end to be attained, a theory laying down the means and conditions whereby it is attainable, and precepts deduced from that theory, such precepts collectively taken directing and covering nearly the entire field of practice, but each precept separately taken liable to conflict with others, and therefore liable to cases of exception; so all this is not less true, or admits not less of being realized, respecting the general art of human living and society. There is a grand and all-comprehensive End,—the security and happiness, as far as practicable, of each and all persons in the society:[710] there may be a theory, laying[p. 441] down those means and conditions under which the nearest approach can be made to that end: there may also be precepts, prescribing to every man the conduct and character which best enables him to become an auxiliary towards its attainment, and imperatively restraining him from acts which tend to hinder it; precepts deduced from the theory, each one of them separately[p. 442] taken being subject to exceptions, but all of them taken collectively governing practice, as in each particular art.[711] Sokratês and Plato talk of “the art of dealing with human beings,” “the art of behaving in society,” “that science which has for its object to make men happy:” and they draw a marked distinction between art, or rules of practice deduced from a theoretical survey of the subject-matter and taught with precognition of the end, and mere artless, irrational knack, or dexterity, acquired by simple copying, or assimilation, through a process of which no one could render account.[712]

Plato, with that variety of indirect allusion which is his characteristic, continually constrains the reader to look upon human and social life as having its own ends and purposes no less than each separate profession or craft; and impels him to transfer to the former that conscious analysis as a science, and intelligent practice as an art, which are known as conditions of success in the latter.[713] It was in furtherance of these rational conceptions, “Science and Art,” that Sokratês carried on his crusade against[p. 443] “that conceit of knowledge without reality,” which reigned undisturbed in the moral world around him, and was only beginning to be slightly disturbed even as to the physical world. To him the precept, inscribed in the Delphian temple, “Know Thyself,” was the holiest of all texts, which he constantly cited, and strenuously enforced upon his hearers; interpreting it to mean, Know what sort of a man thou art, and what are thy capacities, in reference to human use.[714] His manner of enforcing it was alike original and effective, and though he was dexterous in varying his topics[715] and queries according to the individual person with whom he had to deal, it was his first object to bring the hearer to take just measure of his own real knowledge or real ignorance. To preach, to exhort, even to confute particular errors, appeared to Sokratês useless, so long as the mind lay wrapped up in its habitual mist or illusion of wisdom: such mist must be dissipated before any new light could enter. Accordingly, the hearer being usually forward in announcing positive declarations on those general doctrines, and explanations of those terms, to which he was most attached and in which he had the most implicit confidence, Sokratês took them to pieces, and showed that they involved contradiction and inconsistency; professing himself to be without any positive opinion, nor ever advancing any until the hearer’s mind had undergone the proper purifying cross-examination.[716]

[p. 444]

It was this indirect and negative proceeding, which, though only a part of the whole, stood out as his most original and most conspicuous characteristic, and determined his reputation with a large number of persons who took no trouble to know anything else about him. It was an exposure no less painful than surprising to the person questioned, and produced upon several of them an effect of permanent alienation, so that they never came near him again,[717] but reverted to their former state of mind without any permanent change. But on the other hand, the ingenuity and novelty of the process was highly interesting to hearers, especially youthful hearers, sons of rich men, and enjoying leisure; who not only carried away with them a lofty admiration of Sokratês, but were fond of trying to copy his negative polemics.[718] Probably men like Alkibiadês and Kritias frequented his society chiefly for the purpose of acquiring a quality which they might turn to some account in their political career. His constant habit of never suffering a general term to remain undetermined, but applying it at once to particulars; the homely and effective instances of[p. 445] which he made choice; the string of interrogatories each advancing towards a result, yet a result not foreseen by any one; the indirect and circuitous manner whereby the subject was turned round, and at last approached and laid open by a totally different face, all this constituted a sort of prerogative in Sokratês, which no one else seems to have approached. Its effect was enhanced by a voice and manner highly plausible and captivating, and to a certain extent by the very eccentricity of his silenic physiognomy.[719] What is termed “his irony,” or assumption of the character of an ignorant learner, asking information from one who knew better than himself, while it was essential[720] as an excuse for his practice as a questioner, contributed also to add zest and novelty to his conversation; and totally banished from it both didactic pedantry and seeming bias as an advocate; which, to one who talked so much, was of no small advantage. After he had acquired celebrity, this uniform profession of ignorance in debate was usually construed as mere affectation; and those who merely heard him occasionally, without penetrating into his intimacy, often suspected that he was amusing himself with ingenious paradox.[721] Timon the Satirist, and Zeno the Epicurean, accordingly described him as a buffoon, who turned every one into ridicule, especially men of eminence.[722]

[p. 446]

It is by Plato that the negative and indirect vein of Sokratês has been worked out and immortalized; while Xenophon, who sympathized little in it, complains that others looked at his master too exclusively on this side, and that they could not conceive him as a guide to virtue, but only as a stirring and propulsive force.[723] One of the principal objects of his “Memorabilia” is, to show that Sokratês, after having worked upon novices sufficiently with the negative line of questions, altered his tone, desisted from embarrassing them, and addressed to them precepts not less plain and simple than directly useful in practice.[724] I do not at all doubt that this was often the fact, and that the various dialogues in which Xenophon presents to us the philosopher inculcating self-control, temperance, piety, duty to parents, brotherly love, fidelity in friendship, diligence, benevolence, etc., on positive grounds, are a faithful picture of one valuable side of his character, and an essential part of the whole. Such direct admonitory influence was common to Sokratês with Prodikus and the best of the sophists.

It is, however, neither from the virtue of his life, nor from the[p. 447] goodness of his precepts—though both were essential features in his character—that he derives his peculiar title to fame, but from his originality and prolific efficacy in the line of speculative philosophy. Of that originality, the first portion, as has been just stated, consisted in his having been the first to conceive the idea of an ethical science with its appropriate end, and with precepts capable of being tested and improved; but the second point, and not the least important, was, his peculiar method, and extraordinary power of exciting scientific impulse and capacity in the minds of others. It was not by positive teaching that this effect was produced. Both Sokratês and Plato thought that little mental improvement could be produced by expositions directly communicated, or by new written matter lodged in the memory.[725] It was necessary that mind should work upon mind, by short question and answer, or an expert employment of the dialectic process,[726] in order to generate new thoughts and powers; a process which Plato, with his exuberant fancy, compares to copulation and pregnancy, representing it as the true way, and the only effectual way, of propagating the philosophic spirit.

We should greatly misunderstand the negative and indirect vein of Sokratês, if we suppose that it ended in nothing more than simple negation. On busy or ungifted minds, among the indiscriminate public who heard him, it probably left little permanent effect of any kind, and ended in a mere feeling of admiration for ingenuity, or perhaps dislike of paradox: on practical minds like Xenophon, its effect was merged in that of the preceptorial exhortation: but where the seed fell upon an intellect having the least predisposition or capacity for systematic thought, the negation had only the effect of driving the hearer back at first, giving him a new impetus for afterwards springing forward. The Sokratic dialectics, clearing away from the mind its mist of[p. 448] fancied knowledge, and laying bare the real ignorance, produced an immediate effect like the touch of the torpedo:[727] the newly-created consciousness of ignorance was alike unexpected, painful, and humiliating,—a season of doubt and discomfort; yet combined with an internal working and yearning after truth, never before experienced. Such intellectual quickening, which could never commence until the mind had been disabused of its original illusion of false knowledge, was considered by Sokratês not merely as the index and precursor, but as the indispensable condition, of future progress. It was the middle point in the ascending mental scale; the lowest point being ignorance unconscious, self-satisfied, and mistaking itself for knowledge; the next above, ignorance conscious, unmasked, ashamed of itself, and thirsting after knowledge as yet unpossessed; while actual knowledge, the third and highest stage, was only attainable after passing through the second as a preliminary.[728] This second, was a sort of pregnancy; and every mind either by nature incapable of it, or in which, from want of the necessary conjunction, it had never arisen, was barren for all purposes of original or self-appropriated thought. Sokratês regarded it as his peculiar vocation and skill, employing another Platonic metaphor, while he had himself no power of reproduction, to deal with such pregnant and troubled minds in the capacity of a midwife; to assist them in that mental parturition whereby they were to be relieved, but at the same time to scrutinize narrowly the offspring which they brought forth; and if it should prove distorted or unpromising, to cast it away with the rigor of a Lykurgean nurse, whatever might be the reluctance of the mother-mind to part with its new-born.[729][p. 449] There is nothing which Plato is more fertile in illustrating, than this relation between the teacher and the scholar, operating not by what it put into the latter, but by what it evolved out of him; by creating an uneasy longing after truth, aiding in the elaboration necessary for obtaining relief, and testing whether the doctrine elaborated possessed the real lineaments, or merely the delusive semblance, of truth.

There are few things more remarkable than the description given of the colloquial magic of Sokratês and its vehement effects, by those who had themselves heard it and felt its force. Its suggestive and stimulating power was a gift so extraordinary, as well to justify any abundance of imagery on the part of Plato to illustrate it.[730] On the subjects to which he applied himself, man and society, his hearers had done little but feel and affirm:[p. 450] Sokratês undertook to make them think, weigh, and examine themselves and their own judgments, until the latter were brought into consistency with each other, as well as with a known and venerable end. The generalizations embodied in their judgments had grown together and coalesced in a manner at once so intimate, so familiar, yet so unverified, that the particulars implied in them had passed out of notice: so that Sokratês, when he recalled these particulars out of a forgotten experience, presented to the hearer his own opinions under a totally new point of view. His conversations—even as they appear in the reproduction of Xenophon, which presents but a mere skeleton of the reality—exhibit the main features of a genuine inductive method, struggling against the deep-lying, but unheeded, errors of the early intellect acting by itself, without conscious march or scientific guidance,—of the intellectus sibi permissus,—upon which Bacon so emphatically dwells. Amidst abundance of instantiæ negativæ, the scientific value of which is dwelt upon in the “Novum Organon,”[731] and[p. 451] negative instances, too, so dexterously chosen as generally to show the way to new truth, in place of that error which they set aside,[p. 452]—there is a close pressure on the hearer’s mind, to keep it in the distinct tract of particulars, as conditions of every just and consistent generalization; and to divert it from becoming enslaved to unexamined formulæ, or from delivering mere intensity of persuasion under the authoritative phrase of reason. Instead of anxiety to plant in the hearer a conclusion ready-made and accepted on trust, the questioner keeps up a prolonged suspense with special emphasis laid upon the particulars tending both affirmatively and negatively; nor is his purpose answered, until that state of knowledge and apprehended evidence is created, out of which the conclusion starts as a living product, with its own root and self-sustaining power consciously linked with its premises. If this conclusion so generated be not the same as that which the questioner himself adopts, it will at least be some other, worthy of a competent and examining mind taking its own[p. 453] independent view of the appropriate evidence. And amidst all the variety and divergence of particulars which we find enforced in the language of Sokratês, the end, towards which all of them point, is one and the same, emphatically signified, the good and happiness of social man.

It is not, then, to multiply proselytes, or to procure authoritative assent, but to create earnest seekers, analytical intellects, foreknowing and consistent agents, capable of forming conclusions for themselves and of teaching others, as well as to force them into that path of inductive generalization whereby alone trustworthy conclusions can be formed, that the Sokratic method aspires. In many of the Platonic dialogues, wherein Sokratês is brought forward as the principal disputant, we read a series of discussions and arguments, distinct, though having reference to the same subject, but terminating either in a result purely negative, or without any definite result at all. The commentators often attempt, but in my judgment with little success, either by arranging the dialogues in a supposed sequence or by various other hypotheses, to assign some positive doctrinal conclusion as having been indirectly contemplated by the author. But if Plato had aimed at any substantive demonstration of this sort, we cannot well imagine that he would have left his purpose thus in the dark, visible only by the microscope of a critic. The didactic value of these dialogues—that wherein the genuine Sokratic spirit stands most manifest—consists, not in the positive conclusion proved, but in the argumentative process itself, coupled with the general importance of the subject, upon which evidence negative and affirmative is brought to bear.

This connects itself with that which I remarked in the preceding chapter, when mentioning Zeno and the first manifestations of dialectics, respecting the large sweep, the many-sided argumentation, and the strength as well as forwardness of the negative arm, in Grecian speculative philosophy. Through Sokratês, this amplitude of dialectic range was transmitted from Zeno, first to Plato and next to Aristotle. It was a proceeding natural to men who were not merely interested in establishing, or refuting some given particular conclusion, but who also—like expert mathematicians in their own science—loved, esteemed, and sought to improve the dialectic process itself, with the means of[p. 454] verification which it afforded; a feeling, of which abundant evidence is to be found in the Platonic writings.[732] Such pleasure in the scientific operation,—though not merely innocent, but valuable both as a stimulant and as a guarantee against error, and though the corresponding taste among mathematicians is always treated with the sympathy which it deserves,—incurs much unmerited reprobation from modern historians of philosophy, under the name of love of disputation, cavilling, or skeptical subtlety.

But over and above any love of the process, the subjects to which dialectics were applied, from Sokratês downwards,—man and society, ethics, politics, metaphysics, etc., were such as particularly called for this many-sided handling. On topics like these, relating to sequences of fact which depend upon a multitude of coöperating or conflicting causes, it is impossible to arrive, by any one thread of positive reasoning or induction, at absolute doctrine, which a man may reckon upon finding always true, whether he remembers the proof or not; as is the case with mathematical, astronomical, or physical truth. The utmost which science can ascertain, on subjects thus complicated, is an aggregate, not of peremptory theorems and predictions, but of tendencies;[733] by studying the action of each separate cause, and combining them together as well as our means admit. The knowledge of tendencies thus obtained, though falling much short of certainty, is highly important for guidance: but it is plain that conclusions of this nature, resulting from multifarious threads of evidence, true only on a balance, and always liable to limitation, can never be safely detached from the proofs on which they rest, or taught as absolute and consecrated formulæ.[734] They require to be kept[p. 455] in perpetual and conscious association with the evidences, affirmative and negative, by the joint consideration of which their truth is established; nor can this object be attained by any other means than by ever-renovated discussion, instituted from new and distinct points of view, and with free play to that negative arm which is indispensable as stimulus not less than as control. To ask for nothing but results, to decline the labor of verification, to be satisfied with a ready-made stock of established positive arguments as proof, and to decry the doubter or negative reasoner, who starts new difficulties, as a common enemy, this is a proceeding sufficiently common, in ancient as well as in modern times. But it is, nevertheless, an abnegation of the dignity, and even of the functions, of speculative philosophy. It is the direct reverse of the method both of Sokratês and Plato, who, as inquirers, felt that, for the great subjects which they treated, multiplied threads of reasoning, coupled with the constant presence of the cross-examining elenchus, were indispensable. Nor is it less at variance with the views of Aristotle,—though a man very different from either of them,—who goes round his subject on all sides, states and considers all its difficulties, and insists emphatically on the necessity of having all these difficulties brought out in full force, as the incitement and guide to positive philosophy, as well as the test of its sufficiency.[735]

[p. 456]

Understanding thus the method of Sokratês, we shall be at no loss to account for a certain variance on his part—and a still greater variance on the part of Plato, who expanded the method in writing so much more—with the sophists, without supposing the latter to be corrupt teachers. As they aimed at qualifying young men for active life, they accepted the current ethical and political sentiment, with its unexamined commonplaces and inconsistencies, merely seeking to shape it into what was accounted a meritorious character at Athens. They were thus exposed,[p. 457] along with others—and more than others, in consequence of their reputation—to the analytical cross-examination of Sokratês, and were quite as little able to defend themselves against it.

Whatever may have been the success of Protagoras or any other among these sophists, the mighty originality of Sokratês achieved results not only equal at the time, but incomparably grander and more lasting in reference to the future. Out of his intellectual school sprang not merely Plato, himself a host, but all the other leaders of Grecian speculation for the next half-century, and all those who continued the great line of speculative philosophy down to later times. Eukleidês and the Megaric school of philosophers,—Aristippus and the Kyrenaic,—Antisthenês and Diogenês, the first of those called the Cynics, all emanated more or less directly from the stimulus imparted by Sokratês, though each followed a different vein of thought.[736] Ethics continue to be what Sokratês had first made them, a distinct branch of philosophy, alongside of which politics, rhetoric, logic, and other speculations relating to man and society, gradually arranged themselves; all of them more popular, as well as more keenly controverted, than physics, which at that time presented comparatively little charm, and still less of attainable certainty. There can be no doubt that the individual influence of Sokratês permanently enlarged the horizon, improved the method, and multiplied the ascendent minds, of the Grecian speculative world, in a manner never since paralleled. Subsequent philosophers may have had a more elaborate doctrine, and a larger number of disciples who imbibed their ideas; but none of them applied the same stimulating method with the same efficacy; none of them struck out of other minds that fire which sets light to original thought; none of them either produced in others the pains of intellectual pregnancy, or extracted from others the fresh and unborrowed offspring of a really parturient mind.

Having thus touched upon Sokratês, both as first opener of[p. 458] the field of ethics to scientific study, and as author of a method, little copied and never paralleled since his time, for stimulating in other men’s minds earnest analytical inquiry, I speak last about his theoretical doctrine. Considering the fanciful, far-fetched ideas, upon which alone the Pythagoreans and other predecessors had shaped their theories respecting virtues and vices, the wonder is that Sokratês, who had no better guides to follow, should have laid down an ethical doctrine which has the double merit of being true, as far as it goes, legitimate, and of comprehensive generality: though it errs, mainly by stating a part of the essential conditions of virtue[737]—sometimes also a part of the ethical end—as if it were the whole. Sokratês resolved all virtue into knowledge or wisdom; all vice, into ignorance or folly. To do right was the only way to impart happiness, or the least degree of unhappiness compatible with any given situation: now this was precisely what every one wished for and aimed at; only that many persons, from ignorance, took the wrong road; and no man was wise enough always to take the right. But as no man was willingly his own enemy, so no man ever did wrong willingly; it was because he was not fully or correctly informed of the consequences of his own actions; so that the proper remedy to apply was enlarged teaching of consequences and improved judgment.[738] To make him willing to be taught, the only condition required was to make him conscious of his own ignorance; the want of which consciousness was the real cause both of indocility and of vice.

That this doctrine sets forth one portion of the essential condi[p. 459]tions of virtue, is certain; and that too the most commanding portion, since there can be no assured moral conduct except under the supremacy of reason. But that it omits to notice, what is not less essential to virtue, the proper condition of the emotions, desires, etc., taking account only of the intellect, is also certain; and has been remarked by Aristotle[739] as well as by many others. It is fruitless, in my judgment, to attempt by any refined explanation to make out that Sokratês meant, by “knowledge,” something more than what is directly implied in the word. He had present to his mind, as the grand depravation of the human being, not so much vice, as madness; that state in which a man does not know what he is doing. Against the vicious man, securities both public and private may be taken, with considerable effect; against the madman there is no security except perpetual restraint. He is incapable of any of the duties incumbent on social man, nor can he, even if he wishes, do good either to himself or to others. The sentiment which we feel towards such an unhappy being is, indeed, something totally different from moral reprobation, such as we feel for the vicious man who does wrong knowingly. But Sokratês took measure of both with reference to the purposes of human life and society, and pronounced that the latter was less completely spoiled for those purposes than the former. Madness was ignorance at its extreme pitch, accompanied, too, by the circumstance that the madman himself was unconscious of his own ignorance, acting under a sincere persuasion that he knew what he was doing. But short of this extremity, there were many varieties and gradations in the scale of ignorance, which, if accompanied by false conceit of knowledge, differed from madness only in degree, and each of which disqualified a man from doing right, in proportion to the ground which it covered. The worst of all ignorance—that which stood nearest to madness—was when a man was ignorant of himself, fancying that he knew what he did not really know, and that he could do, or avoid, or endure, what was quite beyond his capacity; when, for example, intending to speak the same truth, he sometimes said one thing, sometimes another; or, casting up the same[p. 460] arithmetical figures, made sometimes a greater sum, sometimes a less. A person who knows his letters, or an arithmetician, may doubtless write bad orthography or cast-up incorrectly, by design, but can also perform the operations correctly, if he chooses; while one ignorant of writing or of arithmetic, cannot do it correctly, even though he should be anxious to do so. The former, therefore, comes nearer to the good orthographer or arithmetician than the latter. So, if a man knows what is just, honorable, and good, but commits acts of a contrary character, he is juster, or comes nearer to being a just man, than one who does not know what just acts are, and does not distinguish them from unjust; for this latter cannot conduct himself justly, even if he desires it ever so much.[740]

The opinion here maintained illustrates forcibly the general doctrine of Sokratês. I have already observed that the fundamental idea which governed his train of reasoning, was, the analogy of each man’s social life and duty to a special profession or trade. Now what is principally inquired after in regard to these special men, is their professional capacity; without this, no person would ever think of employing them, let their dispositions be ever so good; with it, good dispositions and diligence are presumed, unless there be positive grounds for suspecting the contrary. But why do we indulge such presumption? Because their pecuniary interest, their professional credit, and their place among competitors, are staked upon success, so that we reckon upon their best efforts. But in regard to that manifold and indefinite series of acts which constitute the sum total of social duty, a man has no such special interest to guide and impel him, nor can we presume in him those dispositions which will insure his doing right, wherever he knows what right is. Mankind are[p. 461] obliged to give premiums for these dispositions, and to attach penalties to the contrary, by means of praise and censure; moreover, the natural sympathies and antipathies of ordinary minds, which determine so powerfully the application of moral terms, run spontaneously in this direction, and even overshoot the limit which reason would prescribe. The analogy between the paid special duty and the general social duty, fails in this particular. Even if Sokratês were correct as to the former,—and this would be noway true,—in making the intellectual conditions of good conduct stand for the whole, no such inference could safely be extended to the latter.

Sokratês affirmed that “well-doing” was the noblest pursuit of man. “Well-doing” consisted in doing a thing well after having learned it and practised it, by the rational and proper means; it was altogether disparate from good fortune, or success without rational scheme and preparation. “The best man (he said), and the most beloved by the gods, is he who, as an husbandman, performs well the duties of husbandry; as a surgeon, those of medical art; in political life, his duty towards the commonwealth. But the man who does nothing well, is neither useful, nor agreeable to the gods.”[741] This is the Sokratic view of human life; to look at it as an assemblage of realities and practical details; to translate the large words of the moral vocabulary into those homely particulars to which at bottom they refer; to take account of acts, not of dispositions apart from act (in contradiction to the ordinary flow of the moral sympathies); to enforce upon every one, that what he chiefly required was teaching and practice, as preparations for act; and that therefore ignorance, especially ignorance mistaking itself for knowledge, was his capital deficiency. The religion of Sokratês, as well as his ethics, had reference to practical human ends; nor had any man ever less of that transcendentalism in his mind, which his scholar Plato exhibits in such abundance.

It is indisputable, then, that Sokratês laid down a general ethical theory which is too narrow, and which states a part of the truth as if it were the whole. But, as it frequently happens with philosophers who make the like mistake, we find that he[p. 462] did not confine his deductive reasonings within the limits of the theory, but escaped the erroneous consequences by a partial inconsistency. For example; no man ever insisted more emphatically than he, on the necessity of control over the passions and appetites, of enforcing good habits, and on the value of that state of the sentiments and emotions which such a course tended to form.[742] In truth, this is one particular characteristic of his admonitions. He exhorted men to limit their external wants, to be sparing in indulgence, and to cultivate, even in preference to honors and advancement, those pleasures which would surely arise from a performance of duty, as well as from self-examination and the consciousness of internal improvement. This earnest attention, in measuring the elements and conditions of happiness,[p. 463] to the state of the internal associations as contrasted with the effect of external causes, as well as the pains taken to make it appear how much the latter depend upon the former for their power of conferring happiness, and how sufficient is moderate good fortune in respect to externals, provided the internal man be properly disciplined, is a vein of thought which pervades both Sokratês and Plato, and which passed from them, under various modifications, to most of the subsequent schools of ethical philosophy. It is probable that Protagoras or Prodikus, training rich youth for active life, without altogether leaving out such internal element of happiness, would yet dwell upon it less; a point of decided superiority in Sokratês.

The political opinions of Sokratês were much akin to his ethical, and deserve especial notice, as having in part contributed to his condemnation by the dikastery. He thought that the functions of government belonged legitimately to those who knew best how to exercise them for the advantage of the governed. “The legitimate king or governor was not the man who held the sceptre, nor the man elected by some vulgar persons, nor he who had got the post by lot, nor he who had thrust himself in by force or by fraud, but he alone who knew how to govern well.”[743] Just as the pilot governed on shipboard, the surgeon in a sick man’s house, the trainer in a palæstra; every one else being eager to obey these professional superiors, and even thanking and recompensing them for their directions, simply because their greater knowledge was an admitted fact. It was absurd, Sokratês used to contend, to choose public officers by lot, when no one would trust himself on shipboard under the care of a pilot selected by hazard,[744] nor would any one pick out a carpenter or a musician in like manner.

We do not know what provision Sokratês suggested for applying his principle to practice, for discovering who was the fittest man in point of knowledge, or for superseding him in case of his becoming unfit, or in case another fitter than he should arise. The analogies of the pilot, the surgeon, and professional men generally, would naturally conduct him to election by the people, renewable after temporary periods; since no one of these profes[p. 464]sional persons, whatever may be his positive knowledge, is ever trusted or obeyed except by the free choice of those who confide in him, and who may at any time make choice of another. But it does not appear that Sokratês followed out this part of the analogy. His companions remarked to him that his first-rate intellectual ruler would be a despot, who might, if he pleased, either refuse to listen to good advice, or even put to death those who gave it. “He will not act thus,” replied Sokratês, “for if he does, he will himself be the greatest loser.”[745]

We may notice in this doctrine of Sokratês the same imperfection as that which is involved in the ethical doctrine; a disposition to make the intellectual conditions of political fitness stand for the whole. His negative political doctrine is not to be mistaken: he approved neither of democracy, nor of oligarchy. As he was not attached, either by sentiment or by conviction, to the constitution of Athens, so neither had he the least sympathy with oligarchical usurpers, such as the Four Hundred and the Thirty. His positive ideal state, as far as we can divine it, would have been something like that which is worked out in the “Cyropædia” of Xenophon.

In describing the persevering activity of Sokratês, as a religious and intellectual missionary, we have really described his life; for he had no other occupation than this continual intercourse with the Athenian public; his indiscriminate conversation, and invincible dialectics. Discharging faithfully and bravely his duties as an hoplite on military service,—but keeping aloof from official duty in the dikastery, the public assembly, or the senate-house, except in that one memorable year of the battle of Arginusæ,—he incurred none of those party animosities which an active public life at Athens often provoked. His life was legally blameless, nor had he ever been brought up before the dikastery until his one final trial, when he was seventy years of age. That he stood conspicuous before the public eye in 423 B.C., at the time when the “Clouds” of Aristophanês were brought on the stage, is certain: he may have been, and probably was, conspicuous even earlier: so that we can hardly allow him less than thirty years of public, notorious, and efficacious discoursing, down to his trial in 399 B.C.

[p. 465]

It was in that year that Melêtus, seconded by two auxiliaries, Anytus and Lykon, presented against him, and hung up in the appointed place, the portico before the office of the second or king-archon, an indictment against him in the following terms: “Sokratês is guilty of crime: first, for not worshipping the gods whom the city worships, but introducing new divinities of his own; next, for corrupting the youth. The penalty due is—death.”

It is certain that neither the conduct nor the conversation of Sokratês had undergone any alteration for many years past; since the sameness of his manner of talking is both derided by his enemies and confessed by himself. Our first sentiment, therefore, apart from the question of guilt or innocence, is one of astonishment, that he should have been prosecuted, at seventy years of age, for persevering in an occupation which he had publicly followed during twenty-five or thirty years preceding. Xenophon, full of reverence for his master, takes up the matter on much higher ground, and expresses himself in a feeling of indignant amazement that the Athenians could find anything to condemn in a man every way so admirable. But whoever attentively considers the picture which I have presented of the purpose, the working, and the extreme publicity of Sokratês, will rather be inclined to wonder, not that the indictment was presented at last, but that some such indictment had not been presented long before. Such certainly is the impression suggested by the language of Sokratês himself, in the “Platonic Apology.” He there proclaims, emphatically, that though his present accusers were men of consideration, it was neither their enmity, nor their eloquence, which he had now principally to fear; but the accumulated force of antipathy,—the numerous and important personal enemies, each with sympathizing partisans,—the long-standing and uncontradicted calumnies,[746] raised against him throughout his cross-examining career.

[p. 466]

In truth, the mission of Sokratês, as he himself describes it, could not but prove eminently unpopular and obnoxious. To convince a man that, of matters which he felt confident of knowing, and had never thought of questioning or even of studying, he is really profoundly ignorant, insomuch that he cannot reply to a few pertinent queries without involving himself in flagrant contradictions, is an operation highly salutary, often necessary, to his future improvement; but an operation of painful surgery, in which, indeed, the temporary pain experienced is one of the conditions almost indispensable to the future beneficial results. It is one which few men can endure without hating the operator at the time; although doubtless such hatred would not only disappear, but be exchanged for esteem and admiration, if they persevered until the full ulterior consequences of the operation developed themselves. But we know, from the express statement of Xenophon, that many, who underwent this first pungent thrust of his dialectics, never came near him again: he disregarded them as laggards,[747] but their voices did not the less count in the hostile chorus. What made that chorus the more formidable, was the high quality and position of its leaders. For Sokratês himself tells us, that the men whom he chiefly and expressly sought out to cross-examine, were the men of celebrity as statesmen, rhetors, poets, or artisans; those at once most sensitive to such humiliation, and most capable of making their enmity effective.

When we reflect upon this great body of antipathy, so terrible both from number and from constituent items, we shall wonder only that Sokratês could have gone on so long standing in the market-place to aggravate it, and that the indictment of Melêtus could have been so long postponed; since it was just as applicable earlier as later, and since the sensitive temper of the people, as to charges of irreligion, was a well-known fact.[748] The truth is, that as history presents to us only one man who ever devoted his life to prosecute this duty of an elenchic, or cross-examining missionary, so there was but one city, in the ancient world at[p. 467] least, wherein he would have been allowed to prosecute it for twenty-five years with safety and impunity; and that city was Athens. I have in a previous volume noted the respect for individual dissent of opinion, taste, and behavior, among one another, which characterized the Athenian population, and which Periklês puts in emphatic relief as a part of his funeral discourse. It was this established liberality of the democratical sentiment at Athens which so long protected the noble eccentricity of Sokratês from being disturbed by the numerous enemies which he provoked: at Sparta, at Thebes, at Argos, Milêtus, or Syracuse, his blameless life would have been insufficient as a shield, and his irresistible dialectic power would have caused him to be only the more speedily silenced. Intolerance is the natural weed of the human bosom, though its growth or development may be counteracted by liberalizing causes; of these, at Athens, the most powerful was, the democratical constitution as there worked, in combination with diffused intellectual and æsthetical sensibility, and keen relish for discourse. Liberty of speech was consecrated, in every man’s estimation, among the first of privileges; every man was accustomed to hear opinions, opposite to his own, constantly expressed, and to believe that others had a right to their opinions as well as himself. And though men would not, as a general principle, have extended such toleration to religious subjects, yet the established habit in reference to other matters greatly influenced their practice, and rendered them more averse to any positive severity against avowed dissenters from the received religious belief. It is certain that there was at Athens both a keener intellectual stimulus, and greater freedom as well of thought as of speech, than in any other city of Greece. The long toleration of Sokratês is one example of this general fact, while his trial proves little, and his execution nothing, against it, as will presently appear.

There must doubtless have been particular circumstances, of which we are scarcely at all informed, which induced his accusers to prefer their indictment at the actual moment, in spite of the advanced age of Sokratês.

In the first place, Anytus, one of the accusers of Sokratês, appears to have become incensed against him on private grounds. The son of Anytus had manifested interest in his conversation,[p. 468] and Sokratês, observing in the young man intellectual impulse and promise, endeavored to dissuade his father from bringing him up to his own trade of a leather-seller.[749] It was in this general way that a great proportion of the antipathy against Sokratês was excited, as he himself tells us in the “Platonic Apology.” The young men were those to whom he chiefly addressed himself, and who, keenly relishing his conversation, often carried home new ideas which displeased their fathers;[750] hence the general charge against Sokratês, of corrupting the youth. Now this circumstance had recently happened in the peculiar case of Anytus, a rich tradesman, a leading man in politics, and just now of peculiar influence in the city, because he had been one of the leading fellow-laborers with Thrasybulus in the expulsion of the Thirty, manifesting an energetic and meritorious patriotism. He, like Thrasybulus and many others, had sustained great loss of property[751] during the oligarchical dominion; which perhaps made him the more strenuous in requiring that his son should pursue trade with assiduity, in order to restore the family fortunes. He seems, moreover, to have been an enemy of all teaching which went beyond the narrowest practicality, hating alike Sokratês and the sophists.[752]

While we can thus point out a recent occurrence, which had brought one of the most ascendent politicians in the city into special exasperation against Sokratês, another circumstance which weighed him down was, his past connection with the deceased Kritias and Alkibiadês. Of these two men, the latter, though he had some great admirers, was on the whole odious; still more from his private insolence and enormities than from his public treason as an exile. But the name of Kritias was detested, and deservedly detested, beyond that of any other man in Athenian history, as the chief director of the unmeasured spoliation and atrocities committed by the Thirty.[p. 469] That Sokratês had educated both Kritias and Alkibiadês, was affirmed by the accusers, and seemingly believed by the general public, both at the time and afterwards.[753] That both of them had been among those who conversed with him, when young men, is an unquestionable fact; to what extent, or down to what period, the conversation was carried, we cannot distinctly ascertain. Xenophon affirms that both of them frequented his society when young, to catch from him an argumentative facility which might be serviceable to their political ambition; that he curbed their violent and licentious propensities, so long as they continued to come to him; that both of them manifested a respectful obedience to him, which seemed in little consonance with their natural tempers; but that they soon quitted him, weary of such restraint, after having acquired as much as they thought convenient of his peculiar accomplishment. The writings of Plato, on the contrary, impress us with the idea that the association of both of them with Sokratês must have been more continued and intimate; for both of them are made to take great part in the Platonic dialogues, while the attachment of Sokratês to Alkibiadês is represented as stronger than that which he ever felt towards any other man; a fact not difficult to explain, since the latter, notwithstanding his ungovernable dispositions, was distinguished in his youth not less for capacity and forward impulse, than for beauty; and since youthful beauty fired the imagination of the Greeks, especially that of Sokratês, more than the charms of the other sex.[754] From the year 420 B.C., in which the activity of Alkibiadês as a political leader commenced, it seems unlikely that he could have seen much of Sokratês, and after the year 415 B.C. the fact is impossible; since in that year he became a permanent exile, with the exception of three or four months in the year 407 B.C. At the moment of the trial of Sokratês, therefore, his connection with Alkibiadês must at least have been a fact long past and gone. Respecting Kritias, we make out less; and as he was a kinsman[p. 470] of Plato, one of the well-known companions of Sokratês, and present at his trial, and himself an accomplished and literary man, his association with Sokratês may have continued longer; at least a color was given for so asserting. Though the supposition that any of the vices either of Kritias or Alkibiadês were encouraged, or even tolerated, by Sokratês, can have arisen in none but prejudiced or ill-informed minds, yet it is certain that such a supposition was entertained; and that it placed him before the public in an altered position after the enormities of the Thirty. Anytus, incensed with him already on the subject of his son, would be doubly incensed against him as the reputed tutor of Kritias.

Of Melêtus, the primary, though not the most important accuser, we know only that he was a poet; of Lykon, that he was a rhetor. Both these classes had been alienated by the cross-examining dialectics to which many of their number had been exposed by Sokratês. They were the last men to bear such an exposure with patience, and their enmity, taken as a class rarely unanimous, was truly formidable when it bore upon any single individual.

We know nothing of the speeches of either of the accusers before the dikastery, except what can be picked out from the remarks in Xenophon and the defence of Plato. Of the three counts of the indictment, the second was the easiest for them to support, on plausible grounds. That Sokratês was a religious innovator, would be considered as proved by the peculiar divine sign, of which he was wont to speak freely and publicly, and which visited no one except himself. Accordingly, in the “Platonic Defence,” he never really replies to this second charge. He questions Melêtus before the dikastery, and the latter is represented as answering, that he meant to accuse Sokratês of not believing in the gods at all;[755] to which imputed disbelief Sokratês answers with an emphatic negative. In support of the first count, however,—the charge of general disbelief in the gods recognized by the city,—nothing in his conduct could be cited; for he was exact in his legal worship like other citizens, and even more than others, if Xenophon is correct.[756] But it would[p. 471] appear that the old calumnies of the Aristophanic “Clouds” were revived, and that the effect of that witty drama, together with similar efforts of Eupolis and others, perhaps hardly less witty, was still enduring; a striking proof that these comedians were no impotent libellers. Sokratês manifests greater apprehension of the effect of the ancient impressions, than of the speeches which had been just delivered against him: but these latter speeches would of course tell, by refreshing the sentiments of the past, and reviving the Aristophanic picture of Sokratês, as a speculator on physics as well as a rhetorical teacher for pleading, making the worse appear the better reason.[757] Sokratês, in the “Platonic Defence,” appeals to the number of persons who had heard him discourse, whether any of them had ever heard him say one word on the subject of physical studies;[758] while Xenophon goes further, and represents him as having positively discountenanced them, on the ground of impiety.[759]

As there were three distinct accusers to speak against Sokratês, so we may reasonably suppose that they would concert beforehand on what topics each should insist; Melêtus undertaking that which related to religion, while Anytus and Lykon would dwell on the political grounds of attack. In the “Platonic Apology,” Sokratês comments emphatically on the allegations of Melêtus, questions him publicly before the dikasts, and criticizes his replies: he makes little allusion to Anytus, or to anything except what is formally embodied in the indictment; and treats the last count, the charge of corrupting youth, in connection with the first, as if the corruption alleged consisted in irreligious teaching. But Xenophon intimates that the accusers, in enforcing this allegation of pernicious teaching, went into other matters quite distinct from the religious tenets of Sokratês, and denounced him as having taught them lawlessness and disrespect, as well towards their parents as towards their country. We find mention made in Xenophon of accusatory grounds similar to those in the “Clouds;” similar also to those which modern authors usually advance against the sophists.

Sokratês, said Anytus and the other accusers, taught young[p. 472] men to despise the existing political constitution, by remarking that the Athenian practice of naming archons by lot was silly, and that no man of sense would ever choose in this way a pilot or a carpenter, though the mischief arising from bad qualification, was in these cases far less than in the case of the archons.[760] Such teaching, it was urged, destroyed in the minds of the hearers respect for the laws and constitution, and rendered them violent and licentious. As examples of the way in which it had worked, his two pupils Kritias and Alkibiadês might be cited, both formed in his school; one, the most violent and rapacious of the Thirty recent oligarchs; the other, a disgrace to the democracy, by his outrageous insolence and licentiousness;[761] both of them authors of ruinous mischief to the city.

Moreover, the youth learned from him conceit of their own superior wisdom, and the habit of insulting their fathers as well as of slighting their other kinsmen. Sokratês told them, it was urged, that even their fathers, in case of madness, might be lawfully put under restraint; and that when a man needed service, those whom he had to look to, were not his kinsmen, as such, but the persons best qualified to render it: thus, if he was sick, he must consult a surgeon; if involved in a lawsuit, those who were most conversant with such a situation. Between friends also, mere good feeling and affection was of little use; the important circumstance was, that they should acquire the capacity of rendering mutual service to each other. No one was worthy of esteem except the man who knew what was proper to be done, and could explain it to others: which meant, urged the accuser, that Sokratês was not only the wisest of men, but the only person capable of making his pupils wise; other advisers being worthless compared with him.[762]

He was in the habit too, the accusation proceeded, of citing the worst passages out of distinguished poets, and of perverting them to the mischievous purpose of spoiling the dispositions of youth, planting in them criminal and despotic tendencies. Thus he quoted a line of Hesiod: “No work is disgraceful; but indolence is disgraceful:” explaining it to mean, that a man might[p. 473] without scruple do any sort of work, base or unjust as it might be, for the sake of profit. Next, Sokratês was particularly fond of quoting those lines of Homer, in the second book of the Iliad, wherein Odysseus is described as bringing back the Greeks, who had just dispersed from the public agora in compliance with the exhortation of Agamemnôn, and were hastening to their ships. Odysseus caresses and flatters the chiefs, while he chides and even strikes the common men; though both were doing the same thing, and guilty of the same fault; if fault it was, to obey what the commander-in-chief had himself just suggested. Sokratês interpreted this passage, the accuser affirmed, as if Homer praised the application of stripes to poor men and the common people.[763]

Nothing could be easier than for an accuser to find matter for inculpation of Sokratês, by partial citations from his continual discourses, given without the context or explanations which had accompanied them; by bold invention, where even this partial basis was wanting; sometimes also by taking up real error, since no man who is continually talking, especially extempore, can always talk correctly. Few teachers would escape, if penal sentences were permitted to tell against them, founded upon evidence such as this. Xenophon, in noticing the imputations, comments upon them all, denies some, and explains others. As to the passages out of Hesiod and Homer, he affirms that Sokratês drew from them inferences quite contrary to those alleged;[764] which latter seem, indeed, altogether unreasonable, invented to call forth the deep-seated democratical sentiment of the Athenians, after the accuser had laid his preliminary ground by connecting Sokratês with Kritias and Alkibiadês. That Sokratês improperly depreciated either filial duty or the domestic affections, is in like manner highly improbable. We may much more reasonably believe the assertion of Xenophon, who represents him to have exhorted the hearer “to make himself as wise, and as capable of rendering service, as possible; so that, when he wished to acquire esteem from father or brother or friend, he might not sit still, in reliance on the simple fact of relationship, but might earn such feeling by doing them positive good.”[765] To tell a young[p. 474] man that mere good feeling would be totally insufficient, unless he were prepared and competent to carry it into action, is a lesson which few parents would wish to discourage. Nor would any generous parent make it a crime against the teaching of Sokratês, that it rendered his son wiser than himself, which probably it would do. To restrict the range of teaching for a young man, because it may make him think himself wiser than his father, is only one of the thousand shapes in which the pleading of ignorance against knowledge was then, and still continues occasionally to be, presented.

Nevertheless, it is not to be denied that these attacks of Anytus bear upon the vulnerable side of the Sokratic general theory of ethics, according to which virtue was asserted to depend upon knowledge. I have already remarked that this is true, but not the whole truth; a certain state of the affections and dispositions being not less indispensable, as conditions of virtue, than a certain state of the intelligence. An enemy, therefore, had some pretence for making it appear that Sokratês, stating a part of the truth as the whole, denied or degraded all that remained. But though this would be a criticism not entirely unfounded against his general theory, it would not hold against his precepts or practical teaching, as we find them in Xenophon; for these, as I have remarked, reach much wider than his general theory, and inculcate the cultivation of habits and dispositions not less strenuously than the acquisition of knowledge.

The censures affirmed to have been cast by Sokratês against the choice of archons by lot at Athens, are not denied by Xenophon. The accuser urged that “by such censures Sokratês excited the young men to despise the established constitution, and to become lawless and violent in their conduct.”[766] This is just the same pretence, of tendency to bring the government into hatred and contempt, on which in former days prosecutions for public libel were instituted against writers in England, and[p. 475] on which they still continue to be abundantly instituted in France, under the first President of the Republic. There can hardly be a more serious political mischief than such confusion of the disapproving critic with a conspirator, and imposition of silence upon dissentient minorities. Nor has there ever been any case in which such an imputation was more destitute of color than that of Sokratês, who appealed always to men’s reason and very little to their feelings; so little, indeed, that modern authors make his coldness a matter of charge against him; who never omitted to inculcate rigid observance of the law, and set the example of such observance himself. Whatever may have been his sentiments about democracy, he always obeyed the democratical government, nor is there any pretence for charging him with participation in oligarchical schemes. It was the Thirty who, for the first time in his long life, interdicted his teaching altogether, and were on the point almost of taking his life; while his intimate friend Chærephon was actually in exile with the democrats.[767]

Xenophon lays great emphasis on two points, when defending Sokratês against his accusers. First, that his own conduct was virtuous, self-denying, and strict in obedience to the law. Next, that he accustomed his hearers to hear nothing except appeals to their reason, and impressed on them obedience only to their rational convictions. That such a man, with so great a weight of presumption in his favor, should be tried and found guilty as a corruptor of youth,—the most undefined of all imaginable charges,—is a grave and melancholy fact in the history of mankind. Yet when we see upon what light evidence modern authors are willing to admit the same charge against the sophists, we have no right to wonder that the Athenians when addressed, not through that calm reason to which Sokratês appealed, but through all their antipathies, religious as well as political, public as well as private—were exasperated into dealing with him as the type and precursor of Kritias and Alkibiadês.

After all, the exasperation, and the consequent verdict of guilty, were not wholly the fault of the dikasts, nor wholly brought about by his accusers and his numerous private enemies. No such verdict would have been given, unless by what we must[p. 476] call the consent and concurrence of Sokratês himself. This is one of the most important facts of the case, in reference both to himself and to the Athenians.

We learn from his own statement in the “Platonic Defence,” that the verdict of guilty was only pronounced by a majority of five or six, amidst a body so numerous as an Athenian dikastery; probably five hundred and fifty-seven in total number,[768] if a confused statement in Diogenes Laërtius can be trusted. Now any one who reads that defence, and considers it in conjunction with the circumstances of the case and the feelings of the dikasts, will see that its tenor is such as must have turned a much greater number of votes than six against him. And we are informed by the distinct testimony of Xenophon,[769] that Sokratês approached his trial with the feelings of one who hardly wished to be acquitted. He took no thought whatever for the preparation of his defence; and when his friend Hermogenês remonstrated with him on the serious consequences of such an omission, he replied, first, that the just and blameless life, which he was conscious of having passed, was the best of all preparations for defence; next, that having once begun to meditate on what it would be proper for him to say, the divine sign had interposed to forbid him from proceeding. He went on to say, that it was no wonder that the gods should deem it better for him to die now, than to live longer. He had hitherto lived in perfect satisfaction, with a consciousness of progressive moral improvement, and with esteem, marked and[p. 477] unabated, from his friends. If his life were prolonged, old age would soon overpower him; he would lose in part his sight, his hearing, or his intelligence; and life with such abated efficacy and dignity would be intolerable to him. Whereas, if he were condemned now, he should be condemned unjustly, which would be a great disgrace to his judges, but none to him; nay, it would even procure for him increase of sympathy and admiration, and a more willing acknowledgment from every one that he had been both a just man and an improving preceptor.[770]

These words, spoken before his trial, intimate a state of belief which explains the tenor of the defence, and formed one essential condition of the final result. They prove that Sokratês not only cared little for being acquitted, but even thought that the approaching trial was marked out by the gods as the term of his life, and that there were good reasons why he should prefer such a consummation as best for himself. Nor is it wonderful that he should entertain that opinion, when we recollect the entire ascendency within him of strong internal conscience and intelligent reflection, built upon an originally fearless temperament, and silencing what Plato[771] calls “the child within us, who trembles before death;” his great love of colloquial influence, and incapacity of living without it; his old age, now seventy years, rendering it impossible that such influence could much longer continue, and the opportunity afforded to him, by now towering above ordinary men under the like circumstances, to read an impressive lesson, as well as to leave behind him a reputation yet more exalted than that which he had hitherto acquired. It was in this frame of mind that Sokratês came to his trial, and undertook his unpremeditated defence, the substance of which we now read in the “Platonic Apology.” His calculations, alike high-minded and well-balanced, were completely realized. Had he been acquitted after such a defence, it would have been not only a triumph over his personal enemies, but would have been a sanction on the part of the people and the popular dikastery to his teaching, which,[p. 478] indeed, had been enforced by Anytus,[772] in his accusing argument, in reference to acquittal generally, even before he heard the defence: whereas his condemnation, and the feelings with which he met it, have shed double and triple lustre over his whole life and character.

Prefaced by this exposition of the feelings of Sokratês, the “Platonic Defence” becomes not merely sublime and impressive, but also the manifestation of a rational and consistent purpose. It does, indeed, include a vindication of himself against two out of the three counts of the indictment; against the charge of not believing in the recognized gods of Athens, and that of corrupting the youth; respecting the second of the three, whereby he was charged with religious innovation, he says little or nothing. But it bears no resemblance to the speech of one standing on his trial, with the written indictment concluding “Penalty, Death,” hanging up in open court before him. On the contrary, it is an emphatic lesson to the hearers, embodied in the frank outpouring of a fearless and self-confiding conscience. It is undertaken, from the beginning, because the law commands; with a faint wish, and even not an unqualified wish, but no hope, that it may succeed.[773] Sokratês first replies to the standing antipathies against him without, arising from the number of enemies whom his cross-examining elenchus had aroused against him, and from those false reports which the Aristophanic “Clouds” had contributed so much to circulate. In accounting for the rise of these antipathies, he impresses upon the dikasts the divine mission under which he was acting, not without considerable doubts whether they will believe him to be in earnest;[774] and gives that interesting exposition of his intellectual campaign, against “the conceit of knowledge without the reality,” of which I have already[p. 479] spoken. He then goes into the indictment, questions Melêtus in open court, and dissects his answers. Having rebutted the charge of irreligion, he reverts again to the imperative mandate of the gods under which he is acting, “to spend his life in the search for wisdom, and in examining himself as well as others;” a mandate, which if he were to disobey, he would be then justly amenable to the charge of irreligion;[775] and he announces to the dikasts distinctly, that, even if they were now to acquit him, he neither could nor would relax in the course which he had been pursuing.[776] He considers that the mission imposed upon him is among the greatest blessings ever conferred by the gods upon Athens.[777] He deprecates those murmurs of surprise or displeasure, which his discourse evidently called forth more than once,[778] though not so much on his own account as on that of the dikasts, who will be benefited by hearing him, and who will hurt themselves and their city much more than him, if they should now pronounce condemnation.[779] It was not on his own account that he sought to defend himself, but on account of the Athenians, lest they by condemning him should sin against the gracious blessing of the god; they would not easily find such another, if they should put him to death.[780] Though his mission had spurred him on to indefatigable activity in individual colloquy, yet the divine sign had always forbidden him from taking active part in public proceedings; on the two exceptional occasions when he had stood publicly forward,—once under the democracy, once under the oligarchy,—he had shown the same resolution as at present; not to be deterred by any terrors from that course which he believed to be just.[781] Young men were[p. 480] delighted as well as improved by listening to his cross-examinations; in proof of the charge that he had corrupted them, no evidence had been produced; neither any of themselves, who, having been once young when they enjoyed his conversation, had since grown elderly; nor any of their relatives; while he on his part could produce abundant testimony to the improving effect of his society, from the relatives of those who had profited by it.[782]

“No man (says he) knows what death is; yet men fear it as if they knew well that it was the greatest of all evils, which is just a case of that worst of all ignorance, the conceit of knowing what you do not really know. For my part, this is the exact point on which I differ from most other men, if there be any one thing in which I am wiser than they; as I know nothing about Hades, so I do not pretend to any knowledge; but I do know well, that disobedience to a person better than myself, either god or man, is both an evil and a shame; nor will I ever embrace evil certain, in order to escape evil which may for aught I know be a good.[783] Perhaps you may feel indignant at the resolute tone of my defence; you may have expected that I should do as most others do in less dangerous trials than mine; that I should weep, beg and entreat for my life, and bring forward my children and relatives to do the same. I have relatives like other men, and three children; but not one of them shall appear before you for any such purpose. Not from any insolent dispositions on my part, nor any wish to put a slight upon you, but because I hold such conduct to be degrading to the reputation which I enjoy; for I have a reputation for superiority among you, deserved or undeserved as it may be. It is a disgrace to Athens, when her esteemed men lower themselves, as they do but too often, by such mean and cowardly supplications; and you dikasts, instead of being prompted thereby to spare them, ought rather to condemn them the more for so dishonoring the city.[784] Apart from[p. 481] any reputation of mine, too, I should be a guilty man, if I sought to bias you by supplications. My duty is to instruct and persuade you, if I can; but you have sworn to follow your convictions in judging according to the laws, not to make the laws bend to your partiality; and it is your duty so to do. Far be it from me to habituate you to perjury; far be it from you to contract any such habit. Do not, therefore, require of me proceedings dishonorable in reference to myself, as well as criminal and impious in regard to you, especially at a moment when I am myself rebutting an accusation of impiety advanced by Melêtus. I leave to you and to the god, to decide as may turn out best both for me and for you.”[785]

No one who reads the “Platonic Apology” of Sokratês will ever wish that he had made any other defence. But it is the speech of one who deliberately foregoes the immediate purpose of a defence, persuasion of his judges; who speaks for posterity, without regard to his own life: “solâ posteritatis curâ, et abruptis vitæ blandimentis.”[786] The effect produced upon the dikasts was such as Sokratês anticipated beforehand, and heard afterwards without surprise as without discomposure, in the verdict of guilty. His only surprise was, at the extreme smallness of the majority whereby that verdict was passed.[787] And this is the true matter for astonishment. Never before had the Athenian dikasts heard such a speech addressed to them. While all of them, doubtless, knew Sokratês as a very able and very eccentric man, respecting his purposes and character they would differ; some regarding him with unqualified hostility, a few others with respectful admiration, and a still larger number with simple admiration for ability, without any decisive sentiment either of antipathy or esteem.[p. 482] But by all these three categories, hardly excepting even his admirers, the speech would be felt to carry one sting which never misses its way to the angry feelings of the judicial bosom, whether the judges in session be one or a few or many, the sting of “affront to the court.” The Athenian dikasts were always accustomed to be addressed with deference, often with subservience: they now heard themselves lectured by a philosopher who stood before them like a fearless and invulnerable superior, beyond their power, though awaiting their verdict; one who laid claim to a divine mission, which probably many of them believed to be an imposture, and who declared himself the inspired uprooter of “conceit of knowledge without the reality,” which purpose many would not understand, and some would not like. To many, his demeanor would appear to betray an insolence not without analogy to Alkibiadês or Kritias, with whom his accuser had compared him. I have already remarked, in reference to his trial, that, considering the number of personal enemies whom he made, the wonder is, not that he was tried at all, but that he was not tried until so late in his life: I now remark in reference to the verdict, that, considering his speech before the dikastery, we cannot be surprised that he was found guilty, but only that such verdict passed by so small a majority as five or six.

That the condemnation of Sokratês was brought on distinctly by the tone and tenor of his defence, is the express testimony of Xenophon. “Other persons on trial (he says) defended themselves in such manner as to conciliate the favor of the dikasts, or flatter, or entreat them, contrary to the laws, and thus obtained acquittal. But Sokratês would resort to nothing of this customary practice of the dikastery contrary to the laws. Though he might easily have been let off by the dikasts, if he would have done anything of the kind even moderately, he preferred rather to adhere to the laws and die, than to save his life by violating them.”[788] Now no one in Athens except Sokratês, probably, would have construed the laws as requiring the tone of oration which he adopted; nor would he himself have so construed them, if he had been twenty[p. 483] years younger, with less of acquired dignity, and more years of possible usefulness open before him. Without debasing himself by unbecoming flattery or supplication, he would have avoided lecturing them as a master and superior,[789] or ostentatiously asserting a divine mission for purposes which they would hardly understand, or an independence of their verdict which they might construe as defiance. The rhetor Lysias is said to have sent to him a composed speech for his defence, which he declined to use, not thinking it suitable to his dignity. But such a man as Lysias would hardly compose what would lower the dignity even of the loftiest client, though he would look to the result also; nor is there any doubt that if Sokratês had pronounced it,—or even a much less able speech, if inoffensive,—he would have been acquitted. Quintilian,[790] indeed, expresses his satisfaction that Sokratês maintained that towering dignity which brought out the rarest and most exalted of his attributes, but which at the same time renounced all chance of acquittal. Few persons will dissent from this criticism: but when we look at the sentence, as we ought in fairness to do, from the point of view of the dikasts, justice will compel us to admit that Sokratês deliberately brought it upon himself.

If the verdict of guilty was thus brought upon Sokratês by his own consent and coöperation, much more may the same remark be made respecting the capital sentence which followed it. In Athenian procedure, the penalty inflicted was determined by a separate vote of the dikasts, taken after the verdict of guilty. The accuser having named the penalty which he thought suitable, the accused party on his side named some lighter penalty upon himself; and between these two the dikasts were called on to make their option, no third proposition being admissible. The prudence of an accused party always induced him to propose, even against himself, some measure of punishment which the dikasts[p. 484] might be satisfied to accept, in preference to the heavier sentence invoked by his antagonist.

Now Melêtus, in his indictment and speech against Sokratês, had called for the infliction of capital punishment. It was for Sokratês to make his own counter-proposition, and the very small majority, by which the verdict had been pronounced, afforded sufficient proof that the dikasts were no way inclined to sanction the extreme penalty against him. They doubtless anticipated, according to the uniform practice before the Athenian courts of justice, that he would suggest some lesser penalty; fine, imprisonment, exile, disfranchisement, etc. And had he done this purely and simply, there can be little doubt that the proposition would have passed. But the language of Sokratês, after the verdict, was in a strain yet higher than before it; and his resolution to adhere to his own point of view, disdaining the smallest abatement or concession, only the more emphatically pronounced. “What counter proposition shall I make to you (he said) as a substitute for the penalty of Melêtus? Shall I name to you the treatment which I think I deserve at your hands? In that case, my proposition would be that I should be rewarded with a subsistence at the public expense in the prytaneum; for that is what I really deserve as a public benefactor; one who has neglected all thought of his own affairs, and embraced voluntary poverty, in order to devote himself to your best interests, and to admonish you individually on the serious necessity of mental and moral improvement. Assuredly, I cannot admit that I have deserved from you any evil whatever; nor would it be reasonable in me to propose exile or imprisonment, which I know to be certain and considerable evils, in place of death, which may perhaps be not an evil, but a good. I might, indeed, propose to you a pecuniary fine; for the payment of that would be no evil. But I am poor, and have no money: all that I could muster might perhaps amount to a mina: and I therefore propose to you a fine of one mina, as punishment on myself. Plato, and my other friends near me, desire me to increase this sum to thirty minæ, and they engage to pay it for me. A fine of thirty minæ, therefore, is the counter penalty which I submit for your judgment.”[791]

[p. 485]

Subsistence in the prytaneum at the public expense, was one of the greatest honorary distinctions which the citizens of Athens ever conferred; an emphatic token of public gratitude. That Sokratês, therefore, should proclaim himself worthy of such an honor, and talk of assessing it upon himself in lieu of a punishment, before the very dikasts who had just passed against him a verdict of guilty, would be received by them as nothing less than a deliberate insult; a defiance of judicial authority, which it was their duty to prove, to an opinionated and haughty citizen, that he could not commit with impunity. The persons who heard his language with the greatest distress, were doubtless Plato, Krito, and his other friends around him; who, though sympathizing with him fully, knew well that he was assuring the success of the proposition of Melêtus,[792] and would regret that he should thus throw away his life by what they would think an ill-placed and unnecessary self-exaltation. Had he proposed, with little or no preface, the substitute-fine of thirty minæ with which this part of his speech concluded, there is every reason for believing that the majority of dikasts would have voted for it.

The sentence of death passed against him, by what majority we do not know. But Sokratês neither altered his tone, nor manifested any regret for the language by which he had himself seconded the purpose of his accusers. On the contrary, he told the dikasts, in a short address prior to his departure for the prison, that he was satisfied both with his own conduct and with the result. The divine sign, he said, which was wont to restrain him, often on very small occasions, both in deeds and in words, had never manifested itself once to him throughout the whole day, neither when he came thither at first, nor at any one point throughout his whole discourse. The tacit acquiescence of this infallible monitor satisfied him not only that he had spoken rightly, but that the sentence passed was in reality no evil to him; that to die now was the best thing which could befall him.[793] Either death was tantamount to a sound, perpetual, and dreamless sleep, which in his judgment would be no loss, but rather a gain, compared with the present life; or else, if the common[p. 486] mythes were true, death would transfer him to a second life in Hades, where he would find all the heroes of the Trojan war, and of the past generally, so as to pursue in conjunction with them the business of mutual cross-examination, and debate on ethical progress and perfection.[794]

There can be no doubt that the sentence really appeared to Sokratês in this point of view, and to his friends also, after the event had happened, though doubtless not at the time when they were about to lose him. He took his line of defence advisedly, and with full knowledge of the result. It supplied him with the fittest of all opportunities for manifesting, in an impressive manner, both his personal ascendency over human fears and weakness, and the dignity of what he believed to be his divine mission. It took him away in his full grandeur and glory, like the setting of the tropical sun, at a moment when senile decay might be looked upon as close at hand. He calculated that his defence and bearing on the trial would be the most emphatic lesson which he could possibly read to the youth of Athens; more emphatic, probably, than the sum total of those lessons which his remaining life might suffice to give, if he shaped his defence otherwise. This anticipation of the effect of the concluding scene of his life, setting the seal on all his prior discourses, manifests itself in portions of his concluding words to the dikasts, wherein he tells them that they will not, by putting him to death, rid themselves of the importunity of the cross-examining elenchus; that numbers of young men, more restless and obtrusive than he, already carried within them that impulse, which they would now proceed to apply; his superiority having hitherto kept them back.[795] It was thus the persuasion of Sokratês, that his removal would be the signal for numerous apostles, putting forth with increased energy that process of interrogatory test and spur to which he had devoted his life, and which doubtless was to him far dearer and more sacred than his life. Nothing could be more effective than his lofty bearing on his trial, for inflaming the enthusiasm of young men thus predisposed; and[p. 487] the loss of life was to him compensated by the missionary successors whom he calculated on leaving behind.

Under ordinary circumstances, Sokratês would have drunk the cup of hemlock in the prison, on the day after his trial. But it so happened that the day of his sentence was immediately after that on which the sacred ship started on its yearly ceremonial pilgrimage from Athens to Delos, for the festival of Apollo. Until the return of this vessel to Athens, it was accounted unholy to put any person to death by public authority. Accordingly, Sokratês remained in prison,—and we are pained to read, actually with chains on his legs,—during the interval that this ship was absent, thirty days altogether. His friends and companions had free access to him, passing nearly all their time with him in the prison; and Krito had even arranged a scheme for procuring his escape, by a bribe to the jailer. This scheme was only prevented from taking effect by the decided refusal of Sokratês to become a party in any breach of the law;[796] a resolution, which we should expect as a matter of course, after the line which he had taken in his defence. His days were spent in the prison, in discourse respecting ethical and human subjects, which had formed the charm and occupation of his previous life: it is to the last of these days that his conversation with Simmias, Kebês, and Phædon, on the immortality of the soul is referred, in the Platonic dialogue called “Phædon.” Of that conversation the main topics and doctrines are Platonic rather than Sokratic. But the picture which the dialogue presents of the temper and state of mind of Sokratês, during the last hours of his life, is one of immortal beauty and interest, exhibiting his serene and even playful equanimity, amidst the uncontrollable emotions of his surrounding friends,—the genuine, unforced persuasion, governing both his words and his acts, of what he had pronounced before the dikasts, that the sentence of death was no calamity to him,[797]—and the unabated maintenance of that earnest interest in the improvement of man and society, which had for so many years formed both his paramount motive and his active occupation. The details of the last scene are given with minute fidelity, even down to the moment of his dis[p. 488]solution; and it is consoling to remark that the cup of hemlock—the means employed for executions by public order at Athens—produced its effect by steps far more exempt from suffering than any natural death which was likely to befall him. Those who have read what has been observed above respecting the strong religious persuasions of Sokratês, will not be surprised to hear that his last words, addressed to Krito immediately before he passed into a state of insensibility, were: “Krito, we owe a cock to Æsculapius: discharge the debt, and by no means omit it.”[798]

Thus perished the “parens philosophiæ,” the first of ethical philosophers; a man who opened to science both new matter, alike copious and valuable; and a new method, memorable not less for its originality and efficacy, than for the profound philosophical basis on which it rests. Though Greece produced great poets, orators, speculative philosophers, historians, etc., yet other countries having the benefit of Grecian literature to begin with, have nearly equalled her in all these lines, and surpassed her in some. But where are we to look for a parallel to Sokratês, either in or out of the Grecian world? The cross-examining elenchus, which he not only first struck out, but wielded with such matchless effect and to such noble purposes, has been mute ever since his last conversation in the prison; for even his great successor Plato was a writer and lecturer, not a colloquial dialectician. No man has ever been found strong enough to bend his bow; much less, sure enough to use it as he did. His life remains as the only evidence, but a very satisfactory evidence, how much can be done by this sort of intelligent interrogation; how powerful is the interest which it can be made to inspire; how energetic the stimulus which it can apply in awakening dormant reason and generating new mental power.

It has been often customary to exhibit Sokratês as a moral preacher, in which character probably he has acquired to himself the general reverence attached to his name. This is, indeed, a true attribute, but not the characteristic or salient attribute, nor that by which he permanently worked on mankind. On the other hand, Arkesilaus, and the New Academy,[799] a century and[p. 489] more afterwards, thought that they were following the example of Sokratês—and Cicero seems to have thought so too—when they reasoned against everything; and when they laid it down as a system, that, against every affirmative position, an equal force of negative argument might be brought up as counterpoise. Now this view of Sokratês is, in my judgment, not merely partial, but incorrect. He entertained no such systematic distrust of the powers of the mind to attain certainty. He laid down a clear, though erroneous line of distinction between the knowable and the unknowable. About physics, he was more than a skeptic; he thought that man could know nothing; the gods did not intend that man should acquire any such information, and therefore managed matters in such a way as to be beyond his ken, for all except the simplest phenomena of daily wants; moreover, not[p. 490] only man could not acquire such information, but ought not to labor after it. But respecting the topics which concern man and society, the views of Sokratês were completely the reverse. This was the field which the gods had expressly assigned, not merely to human practice, but to human study and acquisition of knowledge; a field, wherein, with that view, they managed phenomena on principles of constant and observable sequence, so that every man who took the requisite pains might know them. Nay, Sokratês went a step further; and this forward step is the fundamental conviction upon which all his missionary impulse hinges. He thought that every man not only might know these things but ought to know them; that he could not possibly act well, unless he did know them; and that it was his imperious duty to learn them as he would learn a profession; otherwise, he was nothing better than a slave, unfit to be trusted as a free and accountable being. Sokratês felt persuaded that no man could behave as a just, temperate, courageous, pious, patriotic agent, unless he taught himself to know correctly what justice, temperance, courage, piety, and patriotism, etc., really were. He was possessed with the truly Baconian idea, that the power of steady moral action depended upon, and was limited by, the rational comprehension of moral ends and means. But when he looked at the minds around him, he perceived that few or none either had any such comprehension, or had ever studied to acquire it; yet at the same time every man felt persuaded that he did possess it, and acted confidently upon such persuasion. Here, then, Sokratês found that the first outwork for him to surmount, was, that universal “conceit of knowledge without the reality,” against which he declares such emphatic war; and against which, also, though under another form of words and in reference to other subjects, Bacon declares war not less emphatically, two thousand years afterwards: “Opinio copiæ inter causas inopiæ est.” Sokratês found that those notions respecting human and social affairs, on which each man relied and acted, were nothing but spontaneous products of the “intellectus sibi permissus,” of the intellect left to itself either without any guidance, or with only the blind guidance of sympathies, antipathies, authority, or silent assimilation. They were products got together, to use Bacon’s language, “from much faith and much chance, and from[p. 491] the primitive suggestions of boyhood,” not merely without care or study, but without even consciousness of the process, and without any subsequent revision. Upon this basis the sophists, or professed teachers for active life, sought to erect a superstructure of virtue and ability; but to Sokratês, such an attempt appeared hopeless and contradictory—not less impracticable than Bacon in his time pronounced it to be, to carry up the tree of science into majesty and fruit-bearing, without first clearing away those fundamental vices which lay unmolested and in poisonous influence round its root. Sokratês went to work in the Baconian manner and spirit; bringing his cross-examining process to bear, as the first condition to all further improvement, upon these rude, self-begotten, incoherent generalizations, which passed in men’s minds for competent and directing knowledge. But he, not less than Bacon, performs this analysis, not with a view to finality in the negative, but as the first stage towards an ulterior profit; as the preliminary purification, indispensable to future positive result. In the physical sciences, to which Bacon’s attention was chiefly turned, no such result could be obtained without improved experimental research, bringing to light facts new and yet unknown; but on those topics which Sokratês discussed, the elementary data of the inquiry were all within the hearer’s experience, requiring only to be pressed upon his notice, affirmatively as well as negatively, together with the appropriate ethical and political end; in such manner as to stimulate within him the rational effort requisite for combining them anew upon consistent principles.

If, then, the philosophers of the New Academy considered Sokratês either as a skeptic, or as a partisan of systematic negation, they misinterpreted his character, and mistook the first stage of his process—that which Plato, Bacon, and Herschel call the purification of the intellect—for the ultimate goal. The elenchus, as Sokratês used it, was animated by the truest spirit of positive science, and formed an indispensable precursor to its attainment.[800]

There are two points, and two points only, in topics concerning man and society, with regard to which Sokratês is a skeptic; or[p. 492] rather, which he denies; and on the negation of which, his whole method and purpose turn. He denies, first, that men can know that on which they have bestowed no conscious effort, no deliberate pains, no systematic study, in learning. He denies, next, that men can practise what they do not know;[801] that they can be just, or temperate, or virtuous generally, without knowing what justice, or temperance, or virtue is. To imprint upon the minds of his hearers his own negative conviction, on these two points is, indeed, his first object, and the primary purpose of his multiform dialectical manœuvring. But though negative in his means, Sokratês is strictly positive in his ends; his attack is undertaken only with distinct view to a positive result; in order to shame them out of the illusion of knowledge, and to spur them on and arm them for the acquisition of real, assured, comprehensive, self-explanatory knowledge, as the condition and guarantee of virtuous practice. Sokratês was, indeed, the reverse of a skeptic; no man ever looked upon life with a more positive and practical eye; no man ever pursued his mark with a clearer perception of the road which he was travelling; no man ever combined, in like manner, the absorbing enthusiasm of a missionary,[802] with the acuteness, the originality, the inventive resource, and the generalizing comprehension, of a philosopher.

His method yet survives, as far as such method can survive, in some of the dialogues of Plato. It is a process of eternal value and of universal application. That purification of the intellect, which Bacon signalized as indispensable for rational or scientific progress, the Sokratic elenchus affords the only known instrument for at least partially accomplishing. However little that instrument may have been applied since the death of its[p. 493] inventor, the necessity and use of it neither have disappeared, nor ever can disappear. There are few men whose minds are not more or less in that state of sham knowledge against which Sokratês made war: there is no man whose notions have not been first got together by spontaneous, unexamined, unconscious, uncertified association, resting upon forgotten particulars, blending together disparates or inconsistencies, and leaving in his mind old and familiar phrases, and oracular propositions, of which he has never rendered to himself account: there is no man, who, if he be destined for vigorous and profitable scientific effort, has not found it a necessary branch of self-education, to break up, disentangle, analyze, and reconstruct, these ancient mental compounds; and who has not been driven to do it by his own lame and solitary efforts, since the giant of the colloquial elenchus no longer stands in the market-place to lend him help and stimulus.

To hear of any man,[803] especially of so illustrious a man, being condemned to death on such accusations as that of heresy and alleged corruption of youth, inspires at the present day a sentiment of indignant reprobation, the force of which I have no desire to enfeeble. The fact stands eternally recorded as one among the thousand misdeeds of intolerance, religious and political. But since amidst this catalogue each item has its own peculiar character, grave or light, we are bound to consider at what point of the scale the condemnation of Sokratês is to be placed, and what inferences it justifies in regard to the character of the Athenians. Now if we examine the circumstances of the case, we shall find them all extenuating; and so powerful, indeed, as to reduce such inferences to their minimum, consistent with the general class to which the incident belongs.

[p. 494]

First, the sentiment now prevalent is founded upon a conviction that such matters as heresy and heretical teaching of youth are not proper for judicial cognizance. Even in the modern world, such a conviction is of recent date; and in the fifth century B.C. it was unknown. Sokratês himself would not have agreed in it; and all Grecian governments, oligarchical and democratical alike, recognized the opposite. The testimony furnished by Plato is on this point decisive. When we examine the two positive communities which he constructs, in the treatises “De Republicâ” and “De Legibus,” we find that there is nothing about which he is more anxious, than to establish an unresisted orthodoxy of doctrine, opinion, and education. A dissenting and free-spoken teacher, such as Sokratês was at Athens, would not have been allowed to pursue his vocation for a week, in the Platonic Republic. Plato would not, indeed, condemn him to death; but he would put him to silence, and in case of need send him away. This, in fact, is the consistent deduction, if you assume that the state is to determine what is orthodoxy and orthodox teaching, and to repress what contradicts its own views. Now all the Grecian states, including Athens, held this principle[804] of interference against the dissenting teacher. But at Athens, though the principle was recognized, yet the application of it was counteracted by resisting forces which it did not find elsewhere; by the democratical constitution, with its liberty of speech and love of speech, by the more active spring of individual intellect, and by the toleration, greater there than anywhere else, shown to each man’s peculiarities of every sort. In any other government of Greece, as well as in the Platonic Republic, Sokratês would have been quickly arrested in his career, even if not severely punished; in Athens, he was allowed to talk and teach publicly for twenty-five or thirty years, and then condemned when an old man. Of these two applications of the same mischievous principle, assuredly the latter is at once the more moderate and the less noxious.

Secondly, the force of this last consideration, as an extenuating circumstance in regard to the Athenians, is much increased, when we reflect upon the number of individual enemies whom Sokratês made to himself in the prosecution of his cross-examining process.[p. 495] Here were a multitude of individuals, including men personally the most eminent and effective in the city, prompted by special antipathies, over and above general convictions, to call into action the dormant state-principle of intolerance against an obnoxious teacher. If, under such provocation, he was allowed to reach the age of seventy, and to talk publicly for so many years, before any real Melêtus stood forward, this attests conspicuously the efficacy of the restraining dispositions among the people, which made their practical habits more liberal than their professed principles.

Thirdly, whoever has read the account of the trial and defence of Sokratês, will see that he himself contributed quite as much to the result as all the three accusers united. Not only he omitted to do all that might have been done without dishonor, to insure acquittal, but he held positive language very nearly such as Melêtus himself would have sought to put in his mouth. He did this deliberately,—having an exalted opinion both of himself and his own mission,—and accounting the cup of hemlock, at his age, to be no calamity. It was only by such marked and offensive self-exaltation that he brought on the first vote of the dikastery, even then the narrowest majority, by which he was found guilty: it was only by a still more aggravated manifestation of the same kind, even to the pitch of something like insult, that he brought on the second vote, which pronounced the capital sentence. Now it would be uncandid not to allow for the effect of such a proceeding on the minds of the dikastery. They were not at all disposed, of their own accord, to put in force the recognized principle of intolerance against him. But when they found that the man who stood before them charged with this offence, addressed them in a tone such as dikasts had never heard before and could hardly hear with calmness, they could not but feel disposed to credit all the worst inferences which his accusers had suggested, and to regard Sokratês as a dangerous man both religiously and politically, against whom it was requisite to uphold the majesty of the court and constitution.

In appreciating this memorable incident, therefore, though the mischievous principle of intolerance cannot be denied, yet all the circumstances show that that principle was neither irritable nor predominant in the Athenian bosom; that even a large body of collateral antipathies did not readily call it forth against any indi[p. 496]vidual; that the more liberal and generous dispositions, which deadened its malignity, were of steady efficacy, not easily overborne; and that the condemnation ought to count as one of the least gloomy items in an essentially gloomy catalogue.

Let us add, that as Sokratês himself did not account his own condemnation and death, at his age, to be any misfortune, but rather a favorable dispensation of the gods, who removed him just in time to escape that painful consciousness of intellectual decline which induced Demokritus to prepare the poison for himself, so his friend Xenophon goes a step further, and while protesting against the verdict of guilty, extols the manner of death as a subject of triumph; as the happiest, most honorable, and most gracious way, in which the gods could set the seal upon a useful and exalted life.[805]

It is asserted by Diodorus, and repeated with exaggerations by other later authors, that after the death of Sokratês the Athenians bitterly repented of the manner in which they had treated him, and that they even went so far as to put his accusers to death without trial.[806] I know not upon what authority this statement is made, and I disbelieve it altogether. From the tone of Xenophon’s “Memorabilia,” there is every reason to presume that the memory of Sokratês still continued to be unpopular at Athens when that collection was composed. Plato, too, left Athens immediately after the death of his master, and remained absent for a long series of years: indirectly, I think, this affords a presumption that no such reaction took place in Athenian sentiment as that which Diodorus alleges; and the same presumption is countenanced by the manner in which the orator Æschinês speaks of the condemnation, half a century afterwards. I see no reason to believe that the Athenian dikasts, who doubtless felt themselves justified, and more than justified, in condemning Sokratês after his own speech, retracted that sentiment after his decease.


[1] See Thucyd. v, 36.

[2] Thucyd. viii, 45. Καὶ ἀπ᾽ αὐτῶν ἀφικομένης ἐπιστολῆς πρὸς Ἀστύοχον ἐκ Λακεδαίμονος ὥστ᾽ ἀποκτεῖναι (ἦν γὰρ καὶ τῷ Ἄγιδι ἐχθρὸς καὶ ἄλλως ἄπιστος ἐφαίνετο), etc.

[3] Thucyd. viii, 45, 46.