The destruction of the Sicilian armament was a fatal blow to the power of Athens. It is astonishing that she was able to protract the war so long with diminished strength and resources. Her situation inspired her enemies with new vigour; states hitherto neutral declared against her; her subject-allies prepared to throw off the yoke; even the Persian satraps and the court of Susa bestirred themselves against her. The first blow to her empire was struck by the wealthy and populous island of Chios. This again was the work of Alcibiades, the implacable enemy of his native land, at whose advice a Lacedaemonian fleet was sent to the assistance of the Chians. Their example was followed by all the other Athenian allies in Asia, with the exception of Samos, in which the democratical party gained the upper hand. In the midst of this general defection the Athenians did not give way to despair. Pericles had set apart a reserve of 1000 talents to meet the contingency of an actual invasion. This still remained untouched, and now by an unanimous vote the penalty of death, which forbad its appropriation to any other purpose, was abolished, and the fund applied in fitting out a fleet against Chios. Samos became the head-quarters of the fleet, and the base of their operations during the remainder of the war.
After a time the tide of success began to turn in favour of the Athenians. They recovered Lesbos and Clazomenae, defeated the Chians, and laid waste their territory. They also gained a victory over the Peloponnesians at Miletus; while the Peloponnesian fleet had lost the assistance of Tissaphernes, the Persian satrap, through the intrigues of Alcibiades. In the course of a few months Alcibiades had completely forfeited the confidence of the Lacedaemonians. The Spartan king Agis, whose wife he had seduced, was his personal enemy; and after the defeat of the Peloponnesians at Miletus, Agis denounced him as a traitor, and persuaded the new Ephors to send out instructions to put him to death. Of this, however, he was informed time enough to make his escape to Tissaphernes at Magnesia. Here he ingratiated himself into the confidence of the satrap, and persuaded him that it was not for the interest of Persia that either of the Grecian parties should be successful, but rather that they should wear each other out in their mutual struggles, when Persia would in the end succeed in expelling both. This advice was adopted by the satrap; and in order to carry it into execution, steps were taken to secure the inactivity of the Peloponnesian armament, which, if vigorously employed, was powerful enough to put a speedy end to the war. In order to secure his return to Athens, Alcibiades now endeavoured to persuade Tissaphernes that it was more for the Persian interest to conclude a league with Athens than with Sparta; but the only part of his advice which the satrap seems to have sincerely adopted was that of playing off one party against the other. About this, however, Alcibiades did not at all concern himself. It was enough for his views, which had merely the selfish aim of his own restoration to Athens, if he could make it appear that he possessed sufficient influence with Tissaphernes to procure his assistance for the Athenians. He therefore began to communicate with the Athenian generals at Samos, and held out the hope of a Persian alliance as the price of his restoration to his country. But as he both hated and feared the Athenian democracy, he coupled his offer with the condition that a revolution should be effected at Athens, and an oligarchy established. The Athenian generals greedily caught at the proposal; and though the great mass of the soldiery were violently opposed to it, they were silenced, if not satisfied, when told that Athens could be saved only by means of Persia. The oligarchical conspirators formed themselves into a confederacy, and Pisander was sent to Athens to lay the proposal before the Athenian assembly. It met, as it might be supposed, with the most determined opposition. The single but unanswerable reply of Pisander was, the necessities of the republic; and at length a reluctant vote for a change of constitution was extorted from the people. Pisander and ten others were despatched to treat with Alcibiades and Tissaphernes.
Upon their arrival in Ionia they informed Alcibiades that measures had been taken for establishing an oligarchical form of government at Athens, and required him to fulfil his part of the engagement by procuring the aid and alliance of Persia. But Alcibiades knew that he had undertaken what he could not perform, and he now resolved to escape from the dilemma by one of his habitual artifices. He received the Athenian deputation in the presence of Tissaphernes himself, and made such extravagant demands on behalf of the satrap that Pisander and his colleagues indignantly broke off the conference.
Notwithstanding the conduct of Alcibiades the oligarchical conspirators proceeded with the revolution at Athens, in which they had gone too far to recede. Pisander, with five of the envoys, returned to Athens to complete the work they had begun.
Pisander proposed in the assembly, and carried a resolution, that a committee of ten should be appointed to prepare a new constitution, which was to be submitted to the approbation of the people. But when the day appointed for that purpose arrived, the assembly was not convened in the Pnyx, but in the temple of Poseidon at Colonus, a village upwards of a mile from Athens. Here the conspirators could plant their own partisans, and were less liable to be overawed by superior numbers. Pisander obtained the assent of the meeting to the following revolutionary changes:—1. The abolition of all the existing magistracies; 2. The cessation of all payments for the discharge of civil functions; 3. The appointment of a committee of five persons, who were to name ninety-five more; each of the hundred thus constituted to choose three persons; the body of Four Hundred thus formed to be an irresponsible government, holding its sittings in the senate house. The four hundred were to convene a select body of five thousand citizens whenever they thought proper. Nobody knew who these five thousand were, but they answered two purposes, namely, to give an air of greater popularity to the government, as well as to overawe the people by an exaggerated notion of its strength.
Thus perished the Athenian democracy, after an existence of nearly a century since its establishment by Clisthenes The revolution was begun from despair of the foreign relations of Athens, and from the hope of assistance from Persia; but it was carried out through the machinations of the conspirators after that delusion had ceased.
At Samos the Athenian army refused to recognise the new government. At the instance of Thrasybulus and Thrasyllus a meeting was called in which the soldiers pledged themselves to maintain the democracy, to continue the war against Peloponnesus, and to put down the usurpers at Athens. The soldiers, laying aside for a while their military character, constituted themselves into an assembly of the people, deposed several of their officers, and appointed others whom they could better trust. Thrasybulus proposed the recall of Alcibiades, notwithstanding his connection with the oligarchical conspiracy, because it was believed that he was now able and willing to aid the democratic cause with the gold and forces of Persia. After considerable opposition the proposal was agreed to; Alcibiades was brought to Samos and introduced to the assembly, where by his magnificent promises, and extravagant boasts respecting his influence with Tissaphernes, he once more succeeded in deceiving the Athenians. The accomplished traitor was elected one of the generals, and, in pursuance of his artful policy, began to pass backwards and forwards between Samos and Magnesia, with the view of inspiring both the satrap and the Athenians with a reciprocal idea of his influence with either, and of instilling distrust of Tissaphernes into the minds of the Peloponnesians.
At the first news of the re-establishment of democracy at Samos, distrust and discord had broken out among the Four Hundred. Antiphon and Phrynichus, at the head of the extreme section of the oligarchical party, were for admitting a Lacedaemonian garrison. But others, discontented with their share of power, began to affect more popular sentiments, among whom were Theramenes and Aristocrates. Meantime Euboea, supported by the Lacedaemonians and Boeotians, revolted from Athens. The loss of this island seemed a death-blow. The Lacedaemonians might now easily blockade the ports of Athens and starve her into surrender; whilst the partisans of the Four Hundred would doubtless co-operate with the enemy. But from this fate they were saved by the characteristic slowness of the Lacedaemonians, who confined themselves to securing the conquest of Euboea. Thus left unmolested, the Athenians convened an assembly in the Pnyx. Votes were passed for deposing the Four Hundred, and placing the government in the hands of the 5000, of whom every citizen who could furnish a panoply might be a member. In short, the old constitution was restored, except that the franchise was restricted to 5000 citizens, and payment for the discharge of civil functions abolished. In subsequent assemblies, the Archons, the Senate, and other institutions were revived; and a vote was passed to recall Alcibiades and some of his friends. The number of the 5000 was never exactly observed, and was soon enlarged into universal citizenship. Thus the Four Hundred were overthrown after a reign of four months, B.C. 411.
While these things were going on at Athens, the war was prosecuted with vigour on the coast of Asia Minor. Mindarus, who now commanded the Peloponnesian fleet, disgusted at length by the often-broken promises of Tissaphernes, and the scanty and irregular pay which he furnished, set sail from Miletus and proceeded to the Hellespont, with the intention of assisting the satrap Pharnabazus, and of effecting, if possible, the revolt of the Athenian dependencies in that quarter. Hither he was pursued by the Athenian fleet under Thrasyllus. In a few days an engagement ensued (in August, 411 B.C.), in the famous straits between Sestos and Abydos, in which the Athenians, though with a smaller force, gained the victory and erected a trophy on the promontory of Cynossema, near the tomb and chapel of the Trojan queen Hecuba. The Athenians followed up their victory by the reduction of Cyzicus, which had revolted from them. A month or two afterwards another obstinate engagement took place between the Peloponnesian and Athenian fleets ness Abydos, which lasted a whole day, and was at length decided in favour of the Athenians by the arrival of Alcibiades with his squadron of eighteen ships from Samos.
Shortly after the battle Tissaphernes arrived at the Hellespont with the view of conciliating the offended Peloponnesians. He was not only jealous of the assistance which the latter were now rendering to Pharnabarzus, but it is also evident that his temporizing policy had displeased the Persian court. This appears from his conduct on the present occasion, as well as from the subsequent appointment of Cyrus to the supreme command on the Asiatic coast as we shall presently have to relate. When Alcibiades, who imagined that Tissaphernes was still favourable to the Athenian cause waited on him with the customary presents, he was arrested by order of the satrap, and sent in custody to Sardis. At the end of a month, however, he contrived to escape to Clazomenae, and again joined the Athenian fleet early in the spring of 410 B.C. Mindaras, with the assistance of Pharnabazas on the land side, was now engaged in the siege of Cyzicus, which the Athenian admirals determined to relieve. Here a battle ensued, in which Mindarus was slain, the Lacedaemonians and Persians routed, and almost the whole Peloponnesian fleet captured. The severity of this blow was pictured in the laconic epistle in which Hippocrates, the second in command, [Called Epistoteus or "Secretary" in the Lacedaemonian fleet. The commander of the fleet had the title of NAVARCHUS.] announced it to the Ephors: "Our good luck is gone; Mindarus is slain; the men are starving; we know not what to do."
The results of this victory were most important. Perinthus and Selymbria, as well as Cyzicus, were recovered; and the Athenians, once more masters of the Propontis, fortified the town of Chrysopolis, over against Byzantium, at the entrance of the Bosporus; re-established their toll of ten per cent, on all vessels passing from the Euxine; and left a squadron to guard the strait and collect the dues. So great was the discouragement of the Lacedaemonians at the loss of their fleet that the Ephor Endius proceeded to Athens to treat for peace on the basis of both parties standing just as they were. The Athenian assembly was at this time led by the demagogue Cleophon, a lamp-maker, known to us by the later comedies of Aristophanes. Cleophon appears to have been a man of considerable ability; but the late victories had inspired him with too sanguine hopes and he advised the Athenians to reject the terms proposed by Endius. Athens thus throw away the golden opportunity of recruiting her shattered forces of which she stood so much in need; and to this unfortunate advice must be ascribed the calamities which subsequently overtook her.
The possession of the Bosporus reopened to the Athenians the trade of the Euxine. From his lofty fortress at Decelea the Spartan king Agris could descry the corn-ships from the Euxine sailing into the Harbour of the Piraeus, and felt how fruitless it was to occupy the fields of Attica whilst such abundant supplies of provisions were continually finding their way to the city.
In B.C. 408 the important towns of Chalcedon, Selymbria, and Byzantium fell into the hands of the Athenians, thus leaving them undisputed masters of the Propontis.
These great achievements of Alcibiades naturally paved the way for his return to Athens. In the spring of 407 B.C. he proceeded with the fleet to Samos, and from thence sailed to Piraeus. His reception was far more favourable than he had ventured to anticipate. The whole population of Athens flocked down to Piraeus to welcome him, and escorted him to the city. He seemed to be in the present juncture the only man capable of restoring the grandeur and the empire of Athens: he was accordingly named general with unlimited powers, and a force of 100 triremes, 1500 hoplites, and 150 cavalry placed at his disposal. Before his departure he took an opportunity to atone for the impiety of which he had been suspected. Although his armament was in perfect readiness, he delayed its sailing till after the celebration of the Eleusinian mysteries at the beginning of September. For seven years the customary procession across the Thriasian plain had been suspended, owing to the occupation of Decelea by the enemy, which compelled the sacred troop to proceed by sea. Alcibiades now escorted them on their progress and return with his forces, and thus succeeded in reconciling himself with the offended goddesses and with their holy priests, the Eumolpidae.
Meanwhile a great change had been going on in the state of affairs in the East. We have already seen that the Great King was displeased with the vacillating policy of Tissaphernes, and had determined to adopt more energetic measures against the Athenians. During the absence of Alcibiades, Cyrus, the younger son of Darius, a prince of a bold and enterprising spirit, and animated with a lively hatred of Athens, had arrived at the coast for the purpose of carrying out the altered policy of the Persian court; and with that view he had been invested with the satrapies of Lydia, the Greater Phrygia, and Cappadocia. The arrival of Cyrus opens the last phase of the Peloponnesian war. Another event, in the highest degree unfavourable to the Athenian cause, was the accession of Lysander, as NAVARCHUS, to the command of the Peloponnesian fleet. Lysander was the third of the remarkable men whom Sparta produced during the war. In ability, energy, and success he may be compared with Brasidas and Gylippus, though immeasurably inferior to the former in every moral quality. He was born of poor parents, and was by descent one of those Lacedaemonians who could never enjoy the full rights of Spartan citizenship. His ambition was boundless, and he was wholly unscrupulous about the means which he employed to gratify it. In pursuit of his objects he hesitated at neither deceit, nor perjury, nor cruelty, and he is reported to have laid it down as one of his maxims in life to avail himself of the fox's skin where the lion's failed.
Lysander had taken up his station at Ephesus, with the Lacedaemonian fleet of 70 triremes; and when Cyrus arrived at Sardis, in the spring of 407 B.C., he hastened to pay his court to the young prince, and was received with every mark of favour. A vigorous line of action was resolved on. Cyrus at once offered 500 talents, and affirmed that, if more were needed, he was prepared even to coin into money the very throne of gold and silver on which he sat. In a banquet which ensued Cyrus drank to the health of Lysander, and desired him to name any wish which he could gratify. Lysander immediately requested an addition of an obolus to the daily pay of the seamen. Cyrus was surprised at so disinterested a demand, and from that day conceived a high degree of respect and confidence for the Spartan commander. Lysander on his return to Ephesus employed himself in refitting his fleet, and in organising clubs in the Spartan interest in the cities of Asia.
Alcibiades set sail from Athens in September. Being ill provided with funds for carrying on the war, he was driven to make predatory excursions for the purpose of raising money. During his absence he intrusted the bulk of the fleet at Samos to his pilot, Antiochus, with strict injunctions not to venture on an action. Notwithstanding these orders, however, Antiochus sailed out and brought the Peloponnesian fleet to an engagement off Notium, in which the Athenians were defeated with the loss of 15 ships, and Antiochus himself was slain. Among the Athenian armament itself great dissatisfaction was growing up against Alcibiades. Though at the head of a splendid force, he had in three months time accomplished literally nothing. His debaucheries and dissolute conduct on shore were charged against him, as well as his selecting for confidential posts not the men best fitted for them, but those who, like Antiochus were the boon companions and the chosen associates of his revels. These accusations forwarded to Athens, and fomented by his secret enemies, soon produced an entire revulsion in the public feeling towards Alcibiades. The Athenians voted that he should be dismissed from his command, and they appointed in his place ten new generals, with Conon at their head.
The year of Lysander's command expired about the same time as the appointment of Conon to the Athenian fleet. Through the intrigues of Lysander, his successor Callicratidas was received with dissatisfaction both by the Lacedaemonian seamen and by Cyrus. Loud complaints were raised of the impolicy of an annual change of commanders. Lysander threw all sorts of difficulties into the way of his successor, to whom he handed over an empty chest, having first repaid to Cyrus all the money in his possession under the pretence that it was a private loan. The straightforward conduct of Callicratidas, however, who summoned the Lacedaemonian commanders, and after a dignified remonstrance, plainly put the question whether he should return home or remain, silenced all opposition. But he was sorely embarrassed for funds. Cyrus treated him with haughtiness; and when he waited on that prince at Sardis, he was dismissed not only without money, but even without an audience. Callicratidas, however, had too much energy to be daunted by such obstacles. Sailing with his fleet from Ephesus to Miletus, he laid before the assembly of that city, in a spirited address, all the ill they had suffered at the hands of the Persians, and exhorted them to bestir themselves and dispense with the Persian alliance. He succeeded in persuading the Milesians to make him a large grant of money, whilst the leading men even came forward with private subscriptions. By means of this assistance he was enabled to add 50 triremes to the 90 delivered to him by Lysander; and the Chians further provided him with ten days' pay for the seamen.
The fleet of Callicratidas was now double that of Conon. The latter was compelled to run before the superior force of Callicratidas. Both fleets entered the harbour of Mytilene at the same time, where a battle ensued in which Conon lost 30 ships, but he saved the remaining 40 by hauling them ashore under the walls of the town. Callicratidas then blockaded Mytilene both by sea and land; but Conon contrived to despatch a trireme to Athens with the news of his desperate position.
As soon as the Athenians received intelligence of the blockade of Mytilene; vast efforts were made for its relief; and we learn with surprise that in thirty days a fleet of 110 triremes was equipped and despatched from Piraeus. The armament assembled at Samos, where it was reinforced by scattered Athenian ships, and by contingents from the allies, to the extent of 40 vessels. The whole fleet of 150 sail then proceeded to the small islands of Arginusae, near the coast of Asia, and facing Malea, the south-eastern cape of Lesbos. Callicratidas, who went out to meet them, took up his station at the latter point, leaving a squadron of 50 ships to maintain the blockade of Mytilene. He had thus only 120 ships to oppose to the 150 of the Athenians, and his pilot advised him to retire before the superior force of the enemy. But Callicratidas replied that he would not disgrace himself by flight, and that if he should perish Sparta would not feel his loss. The battle was long and obstinate. All order was speedily lost, and the ships fought singly with one another, In one of these contests, Callicratidas, who stood on the prow of his vessel ready to board the enemy, was thrown overboard by the shock of the vessels as they met, and perished. At length victory began to declare for the Athenians. The Lacedaemonians, after losing 77 vessels, retreated with the remainder to Chios and Phocaea. The loss of the Athenians was 25 vessels.
The battle of Arginusae led to a deplorable event, which has for ever sullied the pages of Athenian history. At least a dozen Athenian vessels were left floating about in a disabled condition after the battle; but, owing to a violent storm that ensued, no attempt was made to rescue the survivors, or to collect the bodies of the dead for burial. Eight of the ten generals were summoned home to answer for this conduct; Conon, by his situation at Mytilene, was of course exculpated, and Archestratus had died. Six of the generals obeyed the summons, and were denounced in the Assembly by Theramenes, formerly one of the Four Hundred, for neglect of duty. The generals replied that they had commissioned Theramenes himself and Thrasybulus, each of whom commanded a trireme in the engagement, to undertake the duty, and had assigned 48 ships to them for that purpose. This, however, was denied by Theramenes. There are discrepancies in the evidence, and we have no materials for deciding positively which statement was true; but probability inclines to the side of the generals. Public feeling, however, ran very strongly against them, and was increased by an incident which occurred during their trial. After a day's debate the question was adjourned; and in the interval the festival of the APATURIA was celebrated, in which, according to annual custom, the citizens met together according to their families and phratries. Those who had perished at Arginusae were naturally missed on such an occasion; and the usually cheerful character of the festival was deformed and rendered melancholy by the relatives of the deceased appearing in black clothes and with shaven heads. The passions of the people were violently roused. At the next meeting of the Assembly, Callixenus, a senator, proposed that the people should at once proceed to pass its verdict on the generals, though they had been only partially heard in their defence; and, moreover, that they should all be included in one sentence, though it was contrary to a rule of Attic law, known as the psephisma of Canonus, to indict citizens otherwise than individually. The Prytanes, or senators of the presiding tribe, at first refused to put the question to the Assembly in this illegal way; but their opposition was at length overawed by clamour and violence. There was, however, one honourable exception. The philosopher Socrates, who was one of the Prytanes, refused to withdraw his protest. But his opposition was disregarded, and the proposal of Callixenus was carried, The generals were condemned, delivered over to the Eleven for execution, and compelled to drink the fatal hemlock. Among them was Pericles, the son of the celebrated statesman.
In the following year (B.C. 405), through the influence of Cyrus and the other allies of Sparta, Lysander again obtained the command of the Peloponnesian fleet, though nominally under Aracus as admiral; since it was contrary to Spartan usage that the same man should be twice NAVARCHUS. His return to power was marked by more vigorous measures. He sailed to the Hellespont, and laid siege to Lampsacus. The Athenian fleet arrived too late to save the town, but they proceeded up the strait and took post at AEgospotami, or the "Goat's River;" a place which had nothing to recommend it, except its vicinity to Lampsacus, from which it was separated by a channel somewhat less than two miles broad. It was a mere desolate beach, without houses or inhabitants, so that all the supplies had to be fetched from Sestos, or from the surrounding country, and the seamen were compelled to leave their ships in order to obtain their meals. Under these circumstances the Athenians were very desirous of bringing Lysander to an engagement. But the Spartan commander, who was in a strong position, and abundantly furnished with provisions, was in no hurry to run any risks. In vain did the Athenians sail over several days in succession to offer him battle; they always found his ships ready manned, and drawn up in too strong a position to warrant an attack; nor could they by all their manoeuvres succeed in enticing him out to combat. This cowardice, as they deemed it, on the part of the Lacedaemonians, begat a corresponding negligence on theirs; discipline was neglected and the men allowed to straggle almost at will. It was in vain that Alcibiades, who since his dismissal resided in a fortress in that neighbourhood, remonstrated with the Athenian generals on the exposed nature of the station they had chosen, and advised them to proceed to Sestos. His counsels were received with taunts and insults. At length, on the fifth day, Lysander, having watched an opportunity when the Athenian seamen had gone on shore and were dispersed over the country, rowed swiftly across the strait with all his ships. He found the Athenian fleet, with the exception of 10 or 12 vessels, totally unprepared, and he captured nearly the whole of it, without having occasion to strike a single blow. Of the 180 ships which composed the fleet, only the trireme of Conon himself, the Paralus, and 8 or 10 other vessels succeeded in escaping. Conon was afraid to return to Athens after so signal a disaster, and took refuge with Evagoras, prince of Salamis in Cyprus.
By this momentous victory (September, B.C. 405) the Peloponnesian war was virtually brought to an end. Lysander, secure of an easy triumph, was in no haste to gather it by force. The command of the Euxine enabled him to control the supplies of Athens; and sooner or later, a few weeks of famine must decide her fall. He now sailed forth to take possession of the Athenian towns, which fell one after another into his power as soon as he appeared before them. About November he arrived at AEgina, with an overwhelming fleet of 150 triremes, and proceeded to devastate Salamis and blockade Piraeus. At the same time the whole Peloponnesian army was marched into Attica and encamped in the precincts of the Academus, at the very gates of Athens. Famine soon began to be felt within the walls, and at the end of three months it became so dreadful, that the Athenians saw themselves compelled to submit to the terms of the conqueror. These terms were: That the long walls and the fortifications of Piraeus should be demolished; that the Athenians should give up all their foreign possessions, and confine themselves to their own territory; that they should surrender all their ships of war; that they should readmit all their exiles; and that they should become allies of Sparta.
It was about the middle or end of March, B.C. 404, that Lysander sailed into Piraeus, and took formal possession of Athens; the war, in singular conformity with the prophecies current at the beginning of it, having lasted for a period of thrice nine, or 27 years. The insolence of the victors added another blow to the feelings of the conquered. The work of destruction, at which Lysander presided, was converted into a sort of festival. Female flute-players and wreathed dancers inaugurated the demolition of the strong and proud bulwarks of Athens; and as the massive walls fell piece by piece exclamations arose from the ranks of the Peloponnesians that freedom had at length begun to dawn upon Greece.
THE THIRTY TYRANTS, AND THE DEATH OF SOCRATES, B.C. 404-399.
The fall of Athens brought back a host of exiles, all of them the enemies of her democratical constitution. Of these these most distinguished was Critias, a man of wealth and family, the uncle of Plato, and once the intimate friend of Socrates, distinguished both for his literary and political talents, but of unmeasured ambition and unscrupulous conscience. Critias and his companions soon found a party with which they could co-operate; and supported by Lysander they proposed in the assembly that a committee of thirty should be named to draw up laws for the future government of the city, and to undertake its temporary administration. Among the most prominent of the thirty names were those of Critias and Theramenes. The proposal was of course carried. Lysander himself addressed the Assembly, and contemptuously told them that they had better take thought for their personal safety, which now lay at his mercy, than for their political constitution. The committee thus appointed soon obtained the title of the Thirty Tyrants, the name by which they have become known in all subsequent time. After naming an entirely new Senate, and appointing fresh magistrates, they proceeded to exterminate their most obnoxious opponents. But Critias, and the more violent party among them, still called for more blood; and with the view of obtaining it, procured a Spartan garrison, under the harmost Callibius, to be installed in the Acropolis. Besides this force, they had an organized band of assassins at their disposal. Blood now flowed on all sides. Many of the leading men of Athens fell, others took to flight.
Thus the reign of terror was completely established. In the bosom of the Thirty, however, there was a party, headed by Theramenes, who disapproved of these proceedings. But his moderation cost him his life. One day as he entered the Senate-house, Critias rose and denounced him as a public enemy, and ordered him to be carried off to instant death. Upon hearing these words Theramenes sprang for refuge to the altar in the Senate-house; but he was dragged away by Satyrus, the cruel and unscrupulous head of the "Eleven," a body of officers who carried into execution the penal sentence of the law. Being conveyed to prison, he was compelled to drink the fatal hemlock. The constancy of his end might have adorned a better life after swallowing the draught, he jerked on the floor a drop which remained in the cup, according to the custom of the game called COTTABOS, exclaiming, "This to the health of the GENTLE Critias!"
Alcibiades had been included by the Thirty in the list of exiles; but the fate which now overtook him seems to have sprung from the fears of the Lacedaemonians, or perhaps from the personal hatred of Agis. After the battle of AEgospotami, Pharnabazus permitted the Athenian exile to live in Phrygia, and assigned him a revenue for his maintenance. But a despatch came out from Sparta, to Lysander, directing that Alcibiades should be put to death. Lysander communicated the order to Pharnabazus, who arranged for carrying it into execution. The house of Alcibiades was surrounded with a band of assassins, and set on fire. He rushed out with drawn sword upon his assailants, who shrank from the attack, but who slew him from a distance with their javelins and arrows. Timandra, a female with whom he lived, performed towards his body the last offices of duty and affection. Thus perished miserably, in the vigour of his age, one of the most remarkable, but not one of the greatest, characters in Grecian history. With qualities which, properly applied, might have rendered him the greatest benefactor of Athens, he contrived to attain the infamous distinction of being that citizen who had inflicted upon her the most signal amount of damage.
Meantime an altered state of feeling was springing up in Greece. Athens had ceased to be an object of fear or jealousy, and those feelings began now to be directed towards Sparta. Lysander had risen to a height of unparalleled power. He was in a manner idolized. Poets showered their praises on him, and even altars were raised in his honour by the Asiatic Greeks. In the name of Sparta he exercised almost uncontrolled authority in the cities he had reduced, including Athens itself. But it was soon discovered that, instead of the freedom promised by the Spartans, only another empire had been established, whilst Lysander was even meditating to extort from the subject cities a yearly tribute of one thousand talents. And all these oppressions were rendered still more intolerable by the overweening pride and harshness of Lysander's demeanour.
Even in Sparta itself the conduct of Lysander was beginning to inspire disgust and jealousy. Pausanias, son of Plistoanax, who was now king with Agis, as well as the new Ephors appointed in September, B.C. 404, disapproved of his proceedings. The Thebans and Corinthians themselves were beginning to sympathise with Athens, and to regard the Thirty as mere instruments for supporting the Spartan dominion; whilst Sparta in her turn looked upon them as the tools of Lysander's ambition. Many of the Athenian exiles had found refuge in Boeotia: and one of them Thrasybulus, with the aid of Ismenias and other Theban citizens, starting from Thebes at the head of a small band of exiles, seized the fortress of Phyle in the passes of Mount Parnes and on the direct road to Athens. The Thirty marched out to attack Thrasybulus, at the head of the Lacedaemonian garrison and a strong Athenian force. But their attack was repulsed with considerable loss.
Shortly afterwards Thrasybulus marched from Phyle to Piraeus which was now an open town, and seized upon it without opposition. When the whole force of the Thirty, including the Lacedaemonians, marched on the following day to attack him, he retired to the hill of Munychia, the citadel of Piraeus, the only approach to which was by a steep ascent. Here he drew up his hoplites in files of ten deep, posting behind them his slingers and dartmen. He exhorted his men to stand patiently till the enemy came within reach of the missiles. At the first discharge the assailing column seemed to waver; and Thrasybulus, taking advantage of their confusion, charged down the hill, and completely routed them, killing seventy, among whom was Critias himself. The loss of their leader had thrown the majority into the hands of the party formerly led by Theramenes, who resolved to depose the Thirty and constitute a new oligarchy of Ten. Some of the Thirty were re-elected into this body; but the more violent colleagues of Critias were deposed and retired for safety to Eleusis. The new government of the Ten sent to Sparta to solicit further aid; and a similar application was made at the same time from the section of the Thirty at Eleusis. Their request was complied with; and Lysander once more entered Athens at the head of a Lacedaemonian force. Fortunately, however, the jealousy of the Lacedaemonians towards Lysander led them at this critical juncture to supersede him in the command. King Pausanias was appointed to conduct an army into Attica, and when he encamped in the Academus he was joined by Lysander and his forces. It was known at Athens that the views of Pausanias were unfavourable to the proceedings of Lysander; and the presence of the Spartan king elicited a vehement reaction against the oligarchy, which fear had hitherto suppressed. All parties sent envoys to Sparta. The Ephors and the Lacedaemonian Assembly referred the question to a committee of fifteen, of whom Pausanias was one. The decision of this board was: That the exiles in Piraeus should be readmitted to Athens, and that there should be an amnesty for all that had passed, except as regarded the Thirty and the Ten.
When these terms were settled and sworn to, the Peloponnesians quitted Attica; and Thrasybulus and the exiles, marching in solemn procession from Piraeus to Athens, ascended to the Acropolis and offered up a solemn sacrifice and thanksgiving. An assembly of the people was then held, and after Thrasybulus had addressed an animated reproof to the oligarchical party, the democracy was unanimously restored. This important counter-revolution took place in the spring of 403 B.C. The archons, the senate of 500, the public assembly, and the dicasteries seem to have been reconstituted in the same form as before the capture of the city.
Thus was terminated, after a sway of eight months, the despotism of the Thirty. The year which contained their rule was not named after the archon, but was termed "the year of anarchy." The first archon drawn after their fall was Euclides, who gave his name to a year ever afterwards memorable among the Athenians.
For the next few years the only memorable event in the history of Athens is the death of Socrates. This celebrated philosopher was born in the year 468 B.C., in the immediate neighbourhood of Athens. His father, Sophroniscus, was a sculptor, and Socrates was brought up to, and for some time practised, the same profession. He was married to Xanthippe, by whom he had three sons; but her bad temper has rendered her name proverbial for a conjugal scold. His physical constitution was healthy, robust, and wonderfully enduring. Indifferent alike to heat and cold the same scanty and homely clothing sufficed him both in summer and winter; and even in the campaign of Potidaea, amidst the snows of a Thracian winter, he went barefooted. But though thus gifted with strength of body and of mind, he was far from being endowed with personal beauty. His thick lips, flat nose, and prominent eyes, gave him the appearance of a Silenus, or satyr. He served with credit as an hoplite at Potidaea (B.C. 432), Delium (B.C. 424), and Amphipolis (B.C. 422); but it was not till late in life, in the year 406 B.C., that he filled any political office. He was one of the Prytanes when, after the battle of Arginusae, Callixenus submitted his proposition respecting the six generals to the public Assembly, and his refusal on that occasion to put an unconstitutional question to the vote has been already recorded. He had a strong persuasion that he was intrusted with a divine mission, and he believed himself to be attended by a daemon, or genius, whose admonitions he frequently heard, not, however, in the way of excitement, but of restraint. He never WROTE anything, but he made oral instruction the great business of his life. Early in the morning he frequented the public walks, the gymnasia, and the schools; whence he adjourned to the market-place at its most crowded hours, and thus spent the whole day in conversing with young and old, rich and poor,—with all in short who felt any desire for his instructions.
That a reformer and destroyer, like Socrates, of ancient prejudices and fallacies which passed current under the name of wisdom should have raised up a host of enemies is only what might be expected; but in his case this feeling was increased by the manner in which he fulfilled his mission. The oracle of Delphi, in response to a question put by his friend Chaerephon, had affirmed that no man was wiser than Socrates. No one was more perplexed at this declaration than Socrates himself, since he was conscious of possessing no wisdom at all. However, he determined to test the accuracy of the priestess, for, though he had little wisdom, others might have still less. He therefore selected an eminent politician who enjoyed a high reputation for wisdom, and soon elicited by his scrutinising method of cross-examination, that this statesman's reputed wisdom was no wisdom at all. But of this he could not convince the subject of his examination; whence Socrates concluded that he was wiser than this politician, inasmuch as he was conscious of his own ignorance, and therefore exempt from the error of believing himself wise when in reality he was not so. The same experiment was tried with the same result on various classes of men; on poets, mechanics, and especially on the rhetors and sophists, the chief of all the pretenders to wisdom.
The first indication of the unpopularity which he had incurred is the attack made upon him by Aristophanes in the 'Clouds' in the year 423 B.C. That attack, however, seems to have evaporated with the laugh, and for many years Socrates continued his teaching without molestation. It was not till B.C. 399 that the indictment was preferred against him which cost him his life. In that year, Meletus, a leather-seller, seconded by Anytus, a poet, and Lycon, a rhetor, accused him of impiety in not worshipping the gods of the city, and in introducing new deities, and also of being a corrupter of youth. With respect to the latter charge, his former intimacy with Alcibiades and Critias may have, weighed against him. Socrates made no preparations for his defence, and seems, indeed, not to have desired an acquittal. But although he addressed the dicasts in a bold uncompromising tone, he was condemned only by a small majority of five or six in a court composed of between five and six hundred dicasts. After the verdict was pronounced, he was entitled, according to the practice of the Athenian courts, to make some counter-proposition in place of the penalty of death, which the accusers had demanded, and if he had done so with any show of submission it is probable that the sentence would have been mitigated. But his tone after the verdict was higher than before. Instead of a fine, he asserted that he ought to be maintained in the Prytaneum at the public expense, as a public benefactor. This seems to have enraged the dicasts and he was condemned to death.
It happened that the vessel which proceeded to Delos on the annual deputation to the festival had sailed the day before his condemnation; and during its absence it was unlawful to put any one to death. Socrates was thus kept in prison during thirty days, till the return of the vessel. He spent the interval in philosophical conversations with his friends. Crito, one of these, arranged a scheme for his escape by bribing the gaoler; but Socrates, as might be expected from the tone of his defence, resolutely refused to save his life by a breach of the law. His last discourse, on the day of his death, turned on the immortality of the soul. With a firm and cheerful countenance he drank the cup of hemlock amidst his sorrowing and weeping friends. His last words were addressed to Crito:—"Crito, we owe a cock to AEsculapius; discharge the debt, and by no means omit it."
Thus perished the greatest and most original of the Grecian philosophers, whose uninspired wisdom made the nearest approach to the divine morality of the Gospel. His teaching forms an epoch in the history of philosophy. From his school sprang Plato, the founder of the Academic philosophy; Euclides, the founder of the Megaric school; Aristippus, the founder of the Cyrenaic school; and many other philosophers of eminence.
THE EXPEDITION OF THE GREEKS UNDER CYRUS, AND RETREAT OF THE TEN THOUSAND, B.C. 401-400.
The assistance which Cyrus had rendered to the Lacedaemonians in the Peloponnesian war led to a remarkable episode in Grecian history. This was the celebrated expedition of Cyrus against his brother Artaxerxes, in which the superiority of Grecian to Asiatic soldiers was so strikingly shown.
The death of Darius Nothus, king of Persia, took place B.C. 404, shortly before the battle of AEgospotami. Cyrus, who was present at his father's death, was charged by Tissaphernes with plotting against his elder brother Artaxerxes, who succeeded to the throne. The accusation was believed by Artaxerxes, who seized his brother, and would have put him to death, but for the intercession of their mother, Parysatis, who persuaded him not only to spare Cyrus but to confirm him in his former government. Cyrus returned to Sardis burning with revenge, and fully resolved to make an effort to dethrone his brother.
From his intercourse with the Greeks Cyrus had become aware of their superiority to the Asiatics, and of their usefulness in such an enterprise as he now contemplated. The peace which followed the capture of Athens seemed favourable to his projects. Many Greeks, bred up in the practice of war during the long struggle between that city and Sparta, were now deprived of their employment, whilst many more had been driven into exile by the establishment of the Spartan oligarchies in the various conquered cities. Under the pretence of a private war with the satrap, Tissaphernes, Cyrus enlisted large numbers of them in his service. The Greek in whom he placed most confidence was Clearchus, a Lacedaemonian, and formerly harmost of Byzantium, who had been condemned to death by the Spartan authorities for disobedience to their orders.
It was not, however, till the beginning of the year B.C. 401 that the enterprise of Cyrus was ripe for execution. The Greek levies were then withdrawn from the various towns in which they were distributed, and concentrated in Sardis, to the number of about 8000; and in March or April of this year Cyrus marched from Sardis with them, and with an army of 100,000 Asiatics. The object of the expedition was proclaimed to be an attack upon the mountain-freebooters of Pisidia; its real destination was a secret to every one except Cyrus himself and Clearchus. Among the Greek soldiers was Xenophon, an Athenian knight, to whom we owe a narrative of the expedition. He went as a volunteer, at the invitation of his friend Proxenus, a Boeotian, and one of the generals of Cyrus.
The march of Cyrus was directed through Lydia and Phrygia. After passing Colossae he arrived at Colaenae, where he was joined by more Greek troops, the number of whom now amounted to 11,000 hoplites and 2000 peltasts. The line of march, which had been hitherto straight upon Pisidia, was now directed northwards. Cyrus passed in succession the Phrygian towns of Peltae, Ceramon Agora, the Plain of Cayster, Thymbrium, Tyriaeum, and Iconium, the last city in Phrygia. Thence he proceeded through Lycaonia to Dana, and across Mount Taurus into Cilicia.
On arriving at Tarsus, a city on the coast of Cilicia, the Greeks plainly saw that they had been deceived, and that the expedition was designed against the Persian king. Seized with alarm at the prospect of so long a march, they sent a deputation to Cyrus to ask him what his real intentions were. Cyrus replied that his design was to march against his enemy, Abrocomas, satrap of Syria, who was encamped on the banks of the Euphrates. The Greeks, though they still suspected a delusion, contented themselves with this answer in the face of their present difficulties, especially as Cyrus promised to raise their pay from one Daric to one Daric and a half a month. The whole army then marched forwards to Issus, the last town in Cilicia, seated on the gulf of the same name. Here they met the fleet, which brought them a reinforcement of 1100 Greek soldiers, thus raising the Grecian force to about 14,000 men.
Abrocomas, who commanded for the Great King in Syria and Phoenicia, alarmed at the rapid progress of Cyrus, fled before him with all his army, reported as 300,000 strong; abandoning the impregnable pass situated one day's march from Issus, and known as the Gates of Cilicia and Syria. Marching in safety through this pass, the army next reached Myriandrus, a seaport of Phoenicia. From this place Cyrus struck off into the interior, over Mount Amanus. Twelve days' march brought him to Thapsacus on the Euphrates, where for the first time he formally notified to the army that he was marching to Babylon against his brother Artaxerxes, The water happened to be very low, scarcely reaching to the breast; and Abrocomas made no attempt to dispute the passage. The army now entered upon the desert, where the Greeks were struck with the novel sights which met their view, and at once amused and exhausted themselves in the chase of the wild ass and the antelope, or in the vain pursuit of the scudding ostrich. After several days of toilsome march the army at length reached Pylae, the entrance into the cultivated plains of Babylonia, where they halted a few days to refresh themselves.
Soon after leaving that place symptoms became perceptible of a vast hostile force moving in their front. The exaggerated reports of deserters stated it at 1,200,000 men; its real strength was about 900,000. In a characteristic address Cyrus exhorted the Greeks to take no heed of the multitude of their enemies; they would find in them, he affirmed nothing but numbers and noise, and, if they could bring themselves to despise these, they would soon find of what worthless stuff the natives were composed. The army then marched cautiously forwards, in order of battle, along the left bank of the Euphrates. They soon came upon a huge trench, 30 feet broad and 18 deep, which Artaxerxes had caused to be dug across the plain for a length of about 42 English miles, reaching from the Euphrates to the wall of Media. Between it and the river was left only a narrow passage about 20 feet broad; yet Cyrus and his army found with surprise that this pass was left entirely undefended. This circumstance inspired them with a contempt of the enemy, and induced them to proceed in careless array; but on the next day but one after passing the trench, on arriving at a place called Cunaxa, they were surprised with the intelligence that Artaxerxes was approaching with all his forces. Cyrus immediately drew up his army in order of battle. The Greeks were posted on the right, whilst Cyrus himself, surrounded by a picked body-guard of 600 Persian cuirassiers, took up his station in the centre. When the enemy were about half a mile distant, the Greeks engaged them with the usual war-shout. The Persians did not await their onset, but turned and fled. Tissaphernes and his cavalry alone offered any resistance; the remainder of the Persian left was routed without a blow. As Cyrus was contemplating the easy victory of the Greeks, his followers surrounded him, and already saluted him with the title of king. But the centre and right of Artaxerxes still remained unbroken; and that monarch, unaware of the defeat of his left wing, ordered the right to wheel and encompass the army of Cyrus. No sooner did Cyrus perceive this movement than with his body-guard he impetuously charged the enemy's centre, where Artaxerxes himself stood, surrounded with 6000 horse. The latter were routed and dispersed, and were followed so eagerly by the guards of Cyrus, that he was left almost alone with the select few called his "Table Companions." In this situation he caught sight of his brother Artaxerxes, whose person was revealed by the flight of his troops, when, maddened at once by rage and ambition, he shouted out, "I see the man!" and rushed at him with his handful of companions. Hurling his javelin at his brother, he wounded him in the breast, but was himself speedily overborne by superior numbers and slain on the spot.
Meanwhile Clearchus had pursued the flying enemy upwards of three miles; but hearing that the king's troops were victorious on the left and centre, he retraced his steps, again routing the Persians who endeavoured to intercept him. When the Greeks regained their camp they found that it had been completely plundered, and were consequently obliged to go supperless to rest. It was not till the following day that they learned the death of Cyrus; tidings which converted their triumph into sorrow and dismay. They were desirous that Ariaeus who now commanded the army of Cyrus, should lay claim to the Persian crown, and offered to support his pretensions; but Ariaeus answered that the Persian grandees would not tolerate such a claim; that he intended immediately to retreat; and that, if the Greeks wished to accompany him, they must join him during the following night. This was accordingly done; when oaths of reciprocal fidelity were interchanged between the Grecian generals and Ariaeus, and sanctified by a solemn sacrifice.
On the following day a message arrived from the Persian King, with a proposal to treat for peace on equal terms. Clearchus affected to treat the offer with great indifference, and made it an opportunity for procuring provisions. "Tell your king," said he to the envoys, "that we must first fight; for we have had no breakfast, nor will any man presume to talk to the Greeks about a truce without first providing for them a breakfast." This was agreed to, and guides were sent to conduct the Greeks to some villages where they might obtain food. Here they received a visit from Tissaphernes, who pretended much friendship towards them, and said that ha had come from the Great King to inquire the reason of their expedition. Clearchus replied—what was indeed true of the greater part of the army—that they had not come hither with any design to attack the king, but had been enticed forwards by Cyrus under false pretences; that their only desire at present was to return home; but that, if any obstacle was offered, they were prepared to repel hostilities. In a day or two Tissaphernes returned and with some parade stated that he had with great difficulty obtained permission to SAVE the Greek army; that he was ready to conduct them in person into Greece; and to supply them with provisions, for which, however, they were to pay. An agreement was accordingly entered into to this effect; and after many days delay they commenced the homeward march. After marching three days they passed through the wall of Media, which was 100 feet high and 20 feet broad. Two days more brought them to the Tigris, which they crossed on the following morning by a bridge of boats. They then marched northward, arriving in four days at the river Physcus and a large city called Opis. Six days' further march through a deserted part of Media brought them to some villages belonging to queen Parysatis, which, out of enmity to her as the patron of Cyrus, Tissaphernes abandoned to be plundered by the Greeks. From thence they proceeded in five days to the river Zabatus, or Greater Zab, having previously crossed the Lesser Zab, which Xenophon neglects to mention. In the first of these five days they saw on the opposite side of the Tigris a large city called Caenae, the inhabitants of which brought over provisions to them. At the Greater Zab they halted three days. Mistrust, and even slight hostilities, had been already manifested between the Greeks and Persians, but they now became so serious that Clearchus demanded an interview with Tissaphernes. The latter protested the greatest fidelity and friendship towards the Greeks, and promised to deliver to the Greek generals, on the following day, the calumniators who had set the two armies at variance. But when Clearchus, with four other generals, accompanied by some lochages or captains, and 200 soldiers, entered the Persian camp, according to appointment; the captains and soldiers were immediately cut down; whilst the five generals were seized, put into irons, and sent to the Persian court. After a short imprisonment, four of them were beheaded; the fifth, Menon, who pretended that he had betrayed his colleagues into the hands of Tissaphernes, was at first spared; but after a year's detention was put to death with tortures.
Apprehension and dismay reigned among the Greeks. Their situation was, indeed, appalling. They were considerably more than a thousand miles from home, in a hostile and unknown country, hemmed in on all sides by impassable rivers and mountains, without generals, without guides, without provisions. Xenophon was the first to rouse the captains to the necessity for taking immediate precautions. Though young, he possessed as an Athenian citizen some claim to distinction; and his animated address showed him fitted for command. He was saluted general on the spot; and in a subsequent assembly was, with four others, formally elected to that office.
The Greeks, having first destroyed their superfluous baggage, crossed the Greater Zab, and pursued their march on the other bank. They passed by the ruined cities of Larissa and Mespila on the Tigris, in the neighbourhood of the ancient Nineveh. The march from Mespila to the mountainous country of the Carduchi occupied several days in which the Greeks suffered much from the attacks of the enemy.
Their future route was now a matter of serious perplexity. On their left lay the Tigris, so deep that they could not fathom it with their spears; while in their front rose the steep and lofty mountains of the Carduchi, which came so near the river as hardly to leave a passage for its waters. As all other roads seemed barred, they formed the resolution of striking into these mountains, on the farther side of which lay Armenia, where both the Tigris and the Euphrates might be forded near their sources. After a difficult and dangerous march of seven days, during which their sufferings were far greater than any they had experienced from the Persians the army at length emerged into Armenia. It was now the month of December, and Armenia was cold and exposed, being a table-land raised high above the level of the sea. Whilst halting near some well-supplied villages, the Greeks were overtaken by two deep falls of snow, which almost buried them in their open bivouacs. Hence a five days' march brought them to the eastern branch of the Euphrates. Crossing the river, they proceeded on the other side of it over plains covered with a deep snow, and in the face of a biting north wind. Here many of the slaves and beasts of burthen, and even a few of the soldiers, fell victims to the cold. Some had their feet frost-bitten; some were blinded by the snow; whilst others, exhausted with cold and hunger, sunk down and died. On the eighth day they proceeded on their way, ascending the banks of the Phasis, not the celebrated river of that name, but probably the one usually called Araxes.
From thence they fought their way through the country of the Taochi and Chalybes. They next reached the country of the Scythini, in whose territory they found abundance in a large and populous city called Gymnias. The chief of this place having engaged to conduct them within sight of the Euxine, they proceeded for five days under his guidance; when, after ascending a mountain, the sea suddenly burst on the view of the vanguard. The men proclaimed their joy by loud shouts of "The sea! the sea!" The rest of the army hurried to the summit, and gave vent to their joy and exultation in tears and mutual embraces. A few days' march through the country of the Macrones and Colchians at length brought them to the objects for which they had so often pined, and which many at one time had never hoped to see again—a Grecian city and the sea. By the inhabitants of Trapezus or Trebizond, on the Euxine, where they had now arrived, they were hospitably received, and, being cantoned in some Colchian villages near the town, refreshed themselves after the hardships they had undergone by a repose of thirty days.
The most difficult part of the return of the Ten Thousand was now accomplished, and it is unnecessary to trace the remainder of their route. After many adventures they succeeded in reaching Byzantium, and they subsequently engaged to serve the Lacedaemonians in a war which Sparta had just declared against the satraps Tissaphernes and Pharnabazus.
In the spring of B.C. 399, Thimbron, the Lacedaemonian commander, arrived at Pergamus, and the remainder of the Ten Thousand Greeks became incorporated with his army. Xenophon now returned to Athens, where he must have arrived shortly after the execution of his master Socrates. Disgusted probably by that event, he rejoined his old comrades in Asia, and subsequently returned to Greece along with Agesilaus.
THE SUPREMACY OF SPARTA, B.C. 404-371.
After the fall of Athens, Sparta stood without a rival in Greece. In the various cities which had belonged to the Athenian empire Lysander established an oligarchical Council of Ten, called a DECARCHY or Decemvirate, subject to the control of a Spartan HARMOST or governor. The Decarchies, however, remained only a short time in power, since the Spartan government regarded them with jealousy as the partisans of Lysander; but harmosts continued to be placed in every state subject to their empire. The government of the harmosts was corrupt and oppressive; no justice could be obtained against them by an appeal to the Spartan authorities at home; and the Grecian cities soon had cause to regret the milder and more equitable sway of Athens.
On the death of Agis in B.C. 398, his half-brother Agesilaus was appointed King, to the exclusion of Leotychides, the son of Agis. This was mainly effected by the powerful influence of Lysander, who erroneously considered Agesilaus to be of a yielding and manageable disposition and hoped by a skilful use of those qualities to extend his own influence, and under the name of another to be in reality king himself.
Agesilaus was now forty years of age, and esteemed a model of those virtues more peculiarly deemed Spartan. He was obedient to the constituted authorities, emulous to excel, courageous, energetic, capable of bearing all sorts of hardship and fatigue, simple and frugal in his mode of life. To these severer qualities he added the popular attractions of an agreeable countenance and pleasing address. His personal defects at first stood in the way of his promotion. He was not only low in stature, but also lame of one leg; and there was an ancient oracle which warned the Spartans to beware of "a lame reign." The ingenuity of Lysander, assisted probably by the popular qualities of Agesilaus, contrived to overcome this objection by interpreting a lame reign to mean not any bodily defect in the king, but the reign of one who was not a genuine descendant of Hercules. Once possessed of power, Agesilaus supplied any defect in his title by the prudence and policy of his conduct; and, by the marked deference which he paid both to the Ephors and the senators, he succeeded in gaining for himself more real power than had been enjoyed by any of his predecessors.
The affairs of Asia Minor soon began to draw the attention of Agesilaus to that quarter. The assistance lent to Cyrus by the Spartans was no secret at the Persian court; and Tissaphernes, who had been rewarded for his fidelity with the satrapy of Cyrus in addition to his own, no sooner returned to his government than he attacked the Ionian cities, then under the protection of Sparta. A considerable Lacedaemonian force under Thimbron was despatched to their assistance, and which, as related in the preceding chapter, was joined by the remnant of the Greeks who had served under Cyrus. Thimbron, however, proved so inefficient a commander, that he was superseded at the end of 399 or beginning of 398 B.C., and Dercyllidas appointed in his place. But though at first successful against Pharnabazus in AEolis, Dercyllidas was subsequently surprised in Caria in such an unfavourable position that he would have suffered severely but for the timidity of Tissaphernes, who was afraid to venture upon an action. Under these circumstances an armistice was agreed to for the purpose of treating for a peace (397 B.C.).
Pharnabazus availed himself of this armistice to make active preparations for a renewal of the war. He obtained large reinforcements of Persian troops, and began to organize a fleet in Phoenicia and Cilicia. This was intrusted to the Athenian admiral Conon, of whom we now first hear again after a lapse of seven years since his defeat at AEgospotami. After that disastrous battle Conon fled with nine triremes to Cyprus, where he was now living under the protection of Evagoras, prince of Salamis.
It was the news of these extensive preparations that induced Agesilaus, on the suggestion of Lysander, to volunteer his services against the Persians. He proposed to take with him only 30 full Spartan citizens, or peers, to act as a sort of council, together with 2000 Neodamodes, or enfranchised Helots, and 6000 hoplites of the allies. Lysander intended to be the leader of the 30 Spartans, and expected through them to be the virtual commander of the expedition of which Agesilaus was nominally the head.
Since the time of Agamemnon no Grecian king had led an army into Asia; and Agesilaus studiously availed himself of the prestige of that precedent in order to attract recruits to his standard. The Spartan kings claimed to inherit the sceptre of Agamemnon; and to render the parallel more complete, Agesilaus proceeded with a division of his fleet to Aulis, intending there to imitate the memorable sacrifice of the Homeric hero. But as he had neglected to ask the permission of the Thebans, and conducted the sacrifice and solemnities by means of his own prophets and ministers, and in a manner at variance with the usual rites of the temple, the Thebans were offended, and expelled him by armed force:—an insult which he never forgave.
It was in 396 B.C. that Agesilaus arrived at Ephesus and took the command in Asia. He demanded of the Persians the complete independence of the Greek cities in Asia; and in order that there might be time to communicate with the Persian court, the armistice was renewed for three months. During this interval of repose, Lysander, by his arrogance and pretensions, offended both Agesilaus and the Thirty Spartans. Agesilaus, determined to uphold his dignity, subjected Lysander to so many humiliations that he was at last fain to request his dismissal from Ephesus, and was accordingly sent to the Hellespont, where he did good service to the Spartan interests.
Meanwhile Tissaphernes, having received large reinforcements, sent a message to Agesilaus before the armistice had expired, ordering him to quit Asia. Agesilaus immediately made preparations as if he would attack Tissaphernes in Caria; but having thus put the enemy on a false scent, he suddenly turned northwards into Phrygia, the satrapy of Pharnabazus, and marched without opposition to the neighbourhood of Dascylium, the residence of the satrap himself. Here, however, he was repulsed by the Persian cavalry. He now proceeded into winter quarters at Ephesus, where he employed himself in organizing a body of cavalry to compete with the Persians. During the winter the army was brought into excellent condition; and Agesilaus gave out early in the spring of 395 B.C. that he should march direct upon Sardis. Tissaphernes suspecting another feint, now dispersed his cavalry in the plain of the Maeander. But this time Agesilaus marched as he had announced, and in three days arrived unopposed on the banks of the Pactolus, before the Persian cavalry could be recalled. When they at last came up, the newly raised Grecian horse, assisted by the peltasts, and some of the younger and more active hoplites, soon succeeded in putting them to flight. Many of the Persians were drowned in the Pactolus, and their camp, containing much booty and several camels, was taken.
Agesilaus now pushed his ravages up to the very gates of Sardis, the residence of Tissaphernes. But the career of that timid and treacherous satrap was drawing to a close. The queen-mother, Parysatis, who had succeeded in regaining her influence over Artaxerxes, caused an order to be sent down from Susa for his execution; in pursuance of which he was seized in a bath at Colossae, and beheaded. Tithraustes, who had been intrusted with the execution of this order, succeeded Tissaphernes in the satrapy, and immediately reopened negotiations with Agesilaus. An armistice of six months was concluded; and meanwhile Tithraustes, by a subsidy of 30 talents, induced Agesilaus to move out of his satrapy into that of Pharnabazus.
During this march into Phrygia Agesilaus received a new commission from home, appointing him the head of the naval as well as of the land force—two commands never before united in a single Spartan. He named his brother-in-law, Pisander, commander of the fleet. But in the following year (B.C. 394), whilst he was preparing an expedition on a grand scale into the interior of Asia Minor, he was suddenly recalled home to avert the dangers which threatened his native country.
The jealousy and ill-will with which the newly acquired empire of the Spartans was regarded by the other Grecian states had not escaped the notice of the Persians; and when Tithraustes succeeded to the satrapy of Tissaphernes he resolved to avail himself of this feeling by exciting a war against Sparta in the heart of Greece itself. With this view he despatched one Timocrates, a Rhodian, to the leading Grecian cities which appeared hostile to Sparta, carrying with him a sum of 50 talents to be distributed among the chief men in each for the purpose of bringing them over to the views of Persia. Timocrates was successful in Thebes, Corinth, and Argos but he appears not to have visited Athens.
Hostilities were at first confined to Sparta and Thebes. A quarrel having arisen between the Opuntian Locrians and the Phocians respecting a strip of border land, the former people appealed to the Thebans, who invaded Phocis. The Phocians on their side invoked the aid of the Lacedaemonians, who, elated with the prosperous state of their affairs in Asia, and moreover desirous of avenging the affronts they had received from the Thebans, readily listened to the appeal. Lysander, who took an active part in promoting the war, was directed to attack the town of Haliartus; and it was arranged that King Pausanias should join him on a fixed day under the walls of that town, with the main body of the Lacedaemonians and their Peloponnesian allies.
Nothing could more strikingly denote the altered state of feeling in Greece than the request for assistance which the Thebans, thus menaced, made to their ancient enemies and rivals the Athenians. Nor were the Athenians backward in responding to the appeal. Lysander arrived at Haliartus before Pausanias. Here, in a sally made by the citizens, opportunely supported by the unexpected arrival of a body of Thebans, the army of Lysander was routed, and himself slain. His troops disbanded and dispersed themselves in the night time. Thus, when Pausanias at last came up, he found no army to unite with; and as an imposing Athenian force had arrived, he now, with the advice of his council took the humiliating step—always deemed a confession of inferiority—of requesting a truce in order to bury the dead who had fallen in the preceding battle. Even this, however, the Thebans would not grant except on the condition that the Lacedaemonians should immediately quit their territory. With these terms Pausanias was forced to comply; and after duly interring the bodies of Lysander and his fallen comrades, the Lacedaemonians dejectedly pursued their homeward march. Pausanias, afraid to face the public indignation of the Spartans took refuge in the temple of Athena Alea at Tegea; and being condemned to death in his absence, only escaped that fate by remaining in the sanctuary. He was succeeded by his son Agesipolis.
The enemies of Sparta took fresh courage from this disaster to her arms. Athens, Corinth, and Argos now formed with Thebes a solemn alliance against her. The league was soon joined by the Euboeans, the Acarnanians, and other Grecian states. In the spring of 394 B.C. the allies assembled at Corinth, and the war, which had been hitherto regarded as merely Boeotian, was now called the CORINTHIAN, by which name it is known in history. This threatening aspect of affairs determined the Ephors to recall Agesilaus, as already related.
The allies were soon in a condition to take the field with a force of 24,000 hoplites, of whom one-fourth were Athenians, together with a considerable body of light troops and cavalry. The Lacedaemonians had also made the most active preparations. In the neighbourhood of Corinth a battle was fought, in which the Lacedaemonians gained the victory, though their allied troops were put to the rout. This battle, called the battle of Corinth, was fought in July 394 B.C.
Agesilaus, who had relinquished with a heavy heart his projected expedition into Asia, was now on his homeward march. By the promise of rewards he had persuaded the bravest and most efficient soldiers in his army to accompany him, amongst whom were many of the Ten Thousand, with Xenophon at their head. The route of Agesilaus was much the same as the one formerly traversed by Xerxes, and the camels which accompanied the army gave it somewhat of an oriental aspect. At Amphipolis he received the news of the victory at Corinth; but his heart was so full of schemes against Persia, that the feeling which it awakened in his bosom was rather one of regret that so many Greeks had fallen, whose united efforts might have emancipated Asia Minor, than of joy at the success of his countrymen. Having forced his way through a desultory opposition offered by the Thessalian cavalry, he crossed Mount Othrys, and marched unopposed the rest of the way through the straits of Thermopylae to the frontiers of Phocis and Boeotia. Here the evil tidings reached him of the defeat and death of his brother-in-law, Pisander, in a great sea-fight off Cnidus in Caria (August 394 B.C.) Conon, with the assistance of Pharnabazus, had succeeded in raising a powerful fleet, partly Phoenician and partly Grecian, with which he either destroyed or captured more than half of the Lacedaemonian fleet. Agesilaus, fearing the impression which such sad news might produce upon his men, gave out that the Lacedaemonian fleet had gained a victory; and, having offered sacrifice as if for a victory, he ordered an advance.
Agesilaus soon came up with the confederate army, which had prepared to oppose him in the plain of Coronea. The Thebans succeeded in driving in the Orchomenians, who formed the left wing of the army of Agesilaus, and penetrated as far as the baggage in the rear. But on the remainder of the line Agesilaus was victorious, and the Thebans now saw themselves cut off from their companions, who had retreated and taken up a position on Mount Helicon. Facing about and forming in deep and compact order, the Thebans sought to rejoin the main body, but they were opposed by Agesilaus and his troops. The shock of the conflicting masses which ensued was one of the most terrible recorded in the annals of Grecian warfare. The shields of the foremost ranks were shattered, and their spears broken, so that daggers became the only available arm. Agesilaus, who was in the front ranks, unequal by his size and strength to sustain so furious an onset, was flung down, trodden on, and covered with wounds; but the devoted courage of the 50 Spartans forming his body-guard rescued him from death. The Thebans finally forced their may through, but not without severe loss. The victory of Agesilaus was not very decisive; but the Thebans tacitly acknowledged their defeat by soliciting the customary truce for the burial of their dead.
Agesilaus, on his arrival at Sparta, was received with the most lively demonstrations of gratitude and esteem, and became hence-forward the sole director of Spartan policy.
Thus in less than two months the Lacedaemonians had fought two battles on land, and one at sea; namely, those of Corinth, Coronea, and Cnidus. But, though they had been victorious in the land engagements, they were so little decisive as to lead to no important result; whilst their defeat at Cnidus produced the most disastrous consequences. It was followed by the loss of nearly all their maritime empire, even faster than they had acquired it after the battle of AEgospotami. For as Conon and Pharnabazus sailed with their victorious fleet from island to island, and from port to port, their approach was everywhere the signal for the flight or expulsion of the Spartan harmosts.
In the spring of the following year (B.C. 393) Conon and Pharnabazus sailed to the isthmus of Corinth, then occupied as a central post by the allies. The appearance of a Persian fleet in the Saronic gulf was a strange sight to Grecian eyes, and one which might have served as a severe comment on the effect of their suicidal wars. Conon dexterously availed himself of the hatred of Pharnabazus towards Sparta to procure a boon for his native city. As the satrap was on the point of proceeding homewards, Conon obtained leave to employ the seamen in rebuilding the fortifications of Piraeus and the long walls of Athens. Pharnabazus also granted a large sum for the same purpose; and Conon had thus the glory of appearing, like a second Themistocles, the deliverer and restorer of his country. Before the end of autumn the walls were rebuilt. Having thus, as it were, founded Athens a second time, Conon sailed to the islands to lay again the foundations of an Athenian maritime empire.
During the remainder of this and the whole of the following year (B.C. 392) the war was carried on in the Corinthian territory.
One of the most important events at this time was the destruction of a whole Lacedaemonian MORA, or battalion, by the light-armed mercenaries of the Athenian Iphicrates. For the preceding two years Iphicrates had commanded a body of mercenaries, consisting of peltasts, [So called from the pelta, or kind of shield which they carried.] who had been first organised by Conon after rebuilding the walls of Athens. For this force Iphicrates introduced those improved arms and tactics which form an epoch in the Grecian art of war. His object was to combine as far as possible the peculiar advantages of the hoplites and light-armed troops. He substituted a linen corslet for the coat of mail worn by the hoplites, and lessened the shield, while he rendered the light javelin and short sword of the peltasts more effective by lengthening them both one-half These troops soon proved very effective. After gaining several victories he ventured to make a sally from Corinth, and attacked a Lacedaemonian mora in flank and rear. So many fell under the darts and arrows of the peltasts that the Lacedaemonian captain called a halt, and ordered the youngest and most active of his hoplites to rush forward and drive off the assailants. But their heavy arms rendered them quite unequal to such a mode of fighting; nor did the Lacedaemonian cavalry, which now came up, but which acted with very little vigour and courage, produce any better effect. At length the Lacedaemonians succeeded in reaching an eminence, where they endeavoured to make a stand; but at this moment Callias arrived with some Athenian hoplites from Corinth, whereupon the already disheartened Lacedaemonians broke and fled in confusion, pursued by the peltasts, who committed such havoc, chasing and killing some of them even in the sea, that but very few of the whole body succeeded in effecting their escape.
The maritime war was prosecuted with vigour. Thrasybulus, and after his death Iphicrates, were successful upon the coast of Asia Minor, and made the Athenians again masters of the Hellespont. Under these circumstances the Lacedaemonians resolved to spare no efforts to regain the good will of the Persians. Antalcidas, the Lacedaemonian commander on the Asiatic coast, entered into negotiations with Tiribazus, who had succeeded Tithraustes in the satrapy of Ionia, in order to bring about a general peace under the mediation of Persia. Conducted by Tiribazus, Antalcidas repaired to the Persian court, and prevailed an the Persian monarch both to adopt the peace, and to declare war against those who should reject it. Antalcidas and Tiribazus returned to the coasts of Asia Minor, not only armed with these powers, but provided with an ample force to carry them into execution. In addition to the entire fleet of Persia, Dionysius of Syracuse had placed 20 triremes at the service of the Lacedaemonians; and Antalcidas now sailed with a large fleet to the Hellespont, where Iphicrates and the Athenians were still predominant. The overwhelming force of Antalcidas, the largest that had been seen in the Hellespont since the battle of AEgospotami, rendered all resistance hopeless. The supplies of corn from the Euxine no longer found their way to Athens: and the Athenians, depressed at once both by what they felt and by what they anticipated, began to long for peace. As without the assistance of Athens it seemed hopeless for the other allies to struggle against Sparta, all Greece was inclined to listen to an accommodation.
Under these circumstances deputies from the Grecian states were summoned to meet Tiribazus; who, after exhibiting to them the royal seal of Persia, read to them the following terms of a peace: "King Artaxerxes thinks it just that the cities in Asia and the islands of Clazomenae and Cyprus should belong to him. He also thinks it just to leave all the other Grecian cities, both small and great, independent—except Lemnos, Imbros, and Scyros, which are to belong to Athens, as of old. Should any parties refuse to accept this peace, I will make war upon them, along with those who are of the same mind, both by land and sea, with ships and with money." All the Grecian states accepted these terms.
This disgraceful peace, called the PEACE OF ANTALCIDAS, was concluded in the year B.C. 387. By it Greece seemed prostrated at the feet of the barbarians; for its very terms, engraven on stone and set up in the sanctuaries of Greece, recognised the Persian king as the arbiter of her destinies. Although Athens cannot be entirely exonerated from the blame of this transaction, the chief guilt rests upon Sparta, whose designs were far deeper and more hypocritical than they appeared. Under the specious pretext of securing the independence of the Grecian cities, her only object was to break up the confederacies under Athens and Thebes, and, with the assistance of Persia, to pave the way for her own absolute dominion in Greece.
No sooner was the peace of Antalcidas concluded than Sparta, directed by Agesilaus, the ever-active enemy of Thebes, exerted all her power to weaken that city. She began by proclaiming the independence of the various Boeotian cities, and by organizing in each a local oligarchy, adverse to Thebes and favourable to herself. Lacedaemonian garrisons were placed in Orchomenus and Thespiae, and Plataea was restored in order to annoy and weaken Thebes. Shortly afterwards the Lacedaemonians obtained possession of Thebes itself by an act of shameful treachery. They had declared war against Olynthus, a town situated at the head of the Toronaic gulf, in the peninsula of the Macedonian Chalcidice, the head of a powerful confederation which included several of the adjacent Grecian cities. The Thebans had entered into an alliance with Olynthus, and had forbidden any of their citizens to join the Lacedaemonian army destined to act against it; but they were not strong enough to prevent its marching through their territory. Phoebidas, who was conducting a Lacedaemonian force against Olynthus, halted on his way through Boeotia not far from Thebes; where he was visited by Leontiades, one of the polemarchs of the city, and two or three other leaders of the Lacedaemonian party in Thebes. It happened that the festival of the Thesmophoria was on the point of being celebrated, during which the Cadmea, or Theban Acropolis, was given up for the exclusive use of the women. The opportunity seemed favourable for a surprise; and Leontiades and Phoebidas concerted a plot to seize it. Whilst the festival was celebrating, Phoebidas pretended to resume his march, but only made a circuit round the city walls; whilst Leontiades, stealing out of the senate, mounted his horse, and, joining the Lacedaemonian troops, conducted them towards the Cadmea. It was a sultry summer's afternoon, so that the very streets were deserted; and Phoebidas, without encountering any opposition, seized the citadel and all the women in it, to serve as hostages for the quiet submission of the Thebans (B.C. 382). This treacherous act during a period of profound peace awakened the liveliest indignation throughout Greece. Sparta herself could not venture to justify it openly, and Phoebidas was made the scape-goat of her affected displeasure. As a sort of atonement to the violated feeling of Greece, he was censured, fined, and dismissed. But that this was a mere farce is evident from the fact, of his subsequent restoration to command; and, however indignant the Lacedaemonians affected to appear at the act of Phoebidas, they took care to reap the fruits of it by retaining their garrison in the Cadmea.
The once haughty Thebes was now enrolled a member of the Lacedaemonian alliance, and furnished her contingent—the grateful offering of the new Theban government—for the war which Sparta was prosecuting with redoubled vigour against Olynthus. This city was taken by the Lacedaemonians in B.C. 379; the Olynthian confederacy was dissolved; the Grecian cities belonging to it were compelled to join the Lacedaemonian alliance; whilst the maritime towns of Macedonia were reduced under the dominion of Amyntas, the king of Macedon.
The power of Sparta on land had now attained its greatest height. Her unpopularity in Greece was commensurate with the extent of her harshly administered dominion. She was leagued on all slides with the enemies of Grecian freedom—with the Persians, with Amyntas of Macedon, and with Dionysius of Syracuse. But she had now reached the turning-point of her fortunes, and her successes, which had been earned without scruple, were soon to be followed by misfortunes and disgrace. The first blow came from Thebes, where she had perpetrated her most signal injustice.
That city had been for three years in the hands of Leontiades and the Spartan party. During this time great discontent had grown up among the resident citizens; and there was also the party of exasperated exiles, who had taken refuge at Athens. Among these exiles was Pelopidas, a young man of birth and fortune, who had already distinguished himself by his disinterested patriotism and ardent character. He now took the lead in the plans formed the the liberation of his country, and was the heart and soul of the enterprise. His warm and generous heart was irresistibly attracted by everything great and noble; and hence he was led to form a close and intimate friendship with Epaminondas, who was several years older than himself and of a still loftier character. Their friendship is said to have originated in a campaign in which they served together, when, Pelopidas having fallen in battle apparently dead, Epaminondas protected his body at the imminent risk of his own life. Pelopidas afterwards endeavoured to persuade Epaminondas to share his riches with him; and when he did not succeed, he resolved to live on the same frugal fare as his great friend. A secret correspondence was opened with his friends at Thebes, the chief of whom were Phyllidas, secretary to the polemarchs, and Charon. The dominant faction, besides the advantage of the actual possession of power, was supported by a garrison of 1500 Lacedaemonians. The enterprise, therefore, was one of considerable difficulty and danger. In the execution of it Phyllidas took a leading part. It was arranged that he should give a supper to Archias and Philippus, the two polemarchs, and after they had partaken freely of wine the conspirators were to be introduced, disguised as women, and to complete their work by the assassination of the polemarchs. On the day before the banquet, Pelopidas, with six other exiles, arrived at Thebes from Athens, and, straggling through the gates towards dusk in the disguise of rustics and huntsmen, arrived safely at the house of Charon, where they remained concealed till the appointed hour. While the polemarchs were at table a messenger arrived from Athens with a letter for Archias, in which the whole plot was accurately detailed. The messenger, in accordance with his instructions, informed Archias that the letter related to matters of serious importance. But the polemarch, completely engrossed by the pleasures of the table, thrust the letter under the pillow of his couch, exclaiming, "Serious matters to-morrow."
The hour of their fate was now ripe. The conspirators, disguised with veils, and in the ample folds of female attire, were ushered into the room. For men in the state of the revelers the deception was complete; but when they attempted to lift the veils from the women, their passion was rewarded by the mortal thrust of a dagger. After thus slaying the two polemarchs, the conspirators went to the house of Leontiades whom they also despatched.
The news of the revolution soon spread abroad. Proclamations were issued announcing that Thebes was free, and calling upon all citizens who valued their liberty to muster in the market-place. As soon as day dawned, and the citizens became aware that they were summoned to vindicate their liberty, their joy and enthusiasm were unbounded. For the first time since the seizure of their citadel they met in public assembly; the conspirators, being introduced, were crowned by the priests with wreaths, and thanked in the name of their country's gods; whilst the assembly, with grateful acclamation, unanimously nominated Pelopidas, Charon, and Mellon as the first restored Boeotarchs.
Meanwhile the remainder of the Theban exiles, accompanied by a body of Athenian volunteers, assembled on the frontiers of Boeotia; and, at the first news of the success of the conspiracy, hastened to Thebes to complete the revolution. The Thebans, under their new Boeotarchs, were already mounting to the assault of the Cadmea, when the Lacedaemonians capitulated, and were allowed to march out with the honours of war. The Athenians formed an alliance with the Thebans, and declared war against Sparta.
From this time must be dated the era of a new political combination in Greece. Athens strained every nerve to organize a fresh confederacy. Thebes did not scruple to enrol herself as one of its earliest members. The basis on which the confederacy was formed closely resembled that of Delos. The cities composing it were to be independent, and to send deputies to a congress at Athens, for the purpose of raising a common fund for the support of a naval force. Care was taken to banish all recollections connected with the former unpopularity of the Athenian empire. The name of the tribute was no longer PHOROS, but SYNTAXIS, or "contribution." The confederacy, which ultimately numbered 70 cities, was chiefly organised through the exertions of Chabrias, and of Timotheus the son of Conon. Nor were the Thebans less zealous, amongst whom the Spartan government had left a lively feeling of antipathy. The military force was put in the best training, and the famous "Sacred Band" was now for the first time instituted. This band was a regiment of 300 hoplites. It was supported at the public expense and kept constantly under arms. It was composed of young and chosen citizens of the best families, and organized in such a manner that each man had at his side a dear and intimate friend. Its special duty was the defence of the Cadmea.
The Thebans had always been excellent soldiers; but their good fortune now gave them the greatest general that Greece had hitherto seen. Epaminondas, who now appears conspicuously in public life, deserves the reputation not merely of a Theban but of a Grecian hero. Sprung from a poor but ancient family, Epaminondas possessed all the best qualities of his nation without that heaviness, either of body or of mind, which characterized and deteriorated the Theban people. By the study of philosophy and by other intellectual pursuits his mind was enlarged beyond the sphere of vulgar superstition, and emancipated from that timorous interpretation of nature which caused even some of the leading men of those days to behold a portent in the most ordinary phenomenon. A still rarer accomplishment for a Theban was that of eloquence, which he possessed in no ordinary degree. These intellectual qualities were matched with moral virtues worthy to consort with them. Though eloquent, he was discreet; though poor, he was neither avaricious nor corrupt; though naturally firm and courageous, he was averse to cruelty, violence, and bloodshed; though a patriot, he was a stranger to personal ambition, and scorned the little arts by which popularity is too often courted. Pelopidas, as we have already said, was his bosom friend. It was natural therefore, that, when Pelopidas was named Boeotarch, Epaminondas should be prominently employed in organizing the means of war; but it was not till some years later that his military genius shone forth in its full lustre.