John Lord.

Anceint states and empires online

. (page 24 of 55)
Online LibraryJohn LordAnceint states and empires → online text (page 24 of 55)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

And this was not the only means adopted to break down
Alcibiades the power of a man whom the more discerning

accused of di- . .. . „ , , a i -i •

vuiging the perceived was the evil genius ol Athens. Alcibi-
mysteiies. ades was publicly accused of having profaned and
divulged the Eleusinian mysteries. The charge was denied
by Alcibiades, who demanded an immediate trial. It was
eluded by his enemies, who preferred to have the charge
hanging over his head, in case of the failure of the enterprise
which he had projected.

So the fleet sailed from Piraeus amid mingled sentiments
Sailing of the of anxiety and popular enthusiasm. It consisted
fleet. ' of one hundred triremes, with a large body of hop-

lites. It made straight for Corey ra, where the contingents
of the allies were assembled, which nearly doubled its force.
The Syracusans were well informed as to its destination, and
made great exertions to meet this great armament, under
Nicias, Alcibiades, and Lamachus. The latter commander
recommended an immediate attack of Syracuse, as unpre-
pared and dismayed.

Alcibiades wished first to open negotiations with the
Sikels, of the interior, to detach them from the aid of Syra-
cuse. His plan was followed, but before he could carry it
into operation he was summoned home to take his trial.
Escape of Fearing the result of the accusations against him,
to Sparta, for, in his absence, the popular feeling had chang-
ed respecting him — fear and reason had triumphed over the
power of his personal fascination — Alcibiades made his escape
to the Peloponnesus.

The master spirit of the expedition was now removed, and
its operations were languid and undecided, for Nicias had no
Niciascom- heart in it. The delays which occurred gave the

mands the . _.

expedition. Syracusans time to prepare, and more confidence
in their means of defense. So that when the forces of the
Atheniaus were landed in the great harbor, they found a

Chap. XIX.] Description of Syracuse. 279

powerful army ready to resist them. In spite of a victory
which Nicias gained near Olympeion, the Syracusans were
not dejected, and the Athenian fleet was obliged to seek
winter quarters at Catana, and also send for additional re-
. enforcements. Nicias unwisely delayed, but his inexcusable
apathy afforded the enemy leisure to enlarge their fortifica-
tions. The Syracusans constructed an entirely new wall
around the inner and outer city, and which also extended
across the whole space from the outer sea to the great har-
bor, so that it would be difficult for the Athenians, in the
coming siege, to draw lines of circumvallation around the city.
Syracuse also sent envoys to Corinth and Sparta for aid,
while Alcibiades, filled now with intense hatred of Eebeiiion and

. treason of Al-

Athens, encouraged the Lacedaemonians to send a cibiades.
force to the Sicilian capital. He admitted that it was the de-
sign of Athens first to conquer the Sicilian Greeks, and then
the Italian Greeks ; then to 'make an attempt on Carthage, and
then, if that was successful, to bring together all the forces
of the subjected States and attack the Peloponnesus itself,
and create a great empire, of which Athens was to be the
capital. Such an avowal was doubtless the aim of the
ambitious Alcibiades when he first stimulated the enterprise,
which, if successful, would have made him the most power-
ful man in Greece ; but he was thwarted by his enemies at
home, and so he turned all his energies against his native
State. His address made a powerful effect on the Lacedae-
monians, who, impelled by hatred and jealousy, now resolved
to make use of the services of the traitor, and send an
auxiliary force to Syracuse.

That city then consisted of two parts — an inner and an
outer city. The outer city was defended on two sides by
the sea, and a sea wall. On the land side a long situation of
wall extended from the sea to the fortified high s y raouse -
land of Achradina, so that the city could only be taken by a
wall of circumvallation, so as to cut off" supplies by land ; at
the same time it was blockaded by sea. But the delay of
Nicias had enabled the Syracusans to construct a new wall,

280 The Peloponnesian War. [Chap. XIX.

covering both the outer and inner city, and extending from
the great port to the high land near the bay of Magnesi, so
that any attack, except from a single point, was difficult, unless
the wall of circumvallation was made much larger than was
originally intended. Amid incredible difficulties the Atheni-
ans constructed their works, and in an assault from the cliff ,
of Epipolze, where they were intrenched, their general, Lam-
achus, was slain. But the Athenians had gained an advan-
tage, and the siege was being successfully prosecuted. It
was then that the Lacedaemonians arrived under Gylippus,
who was unable to render succor. But Nicias, despising
him, allowed him to land at Himera, from whence he march-
inaction of e d across Sicily to Syracuse. A Corinthian fleet,
Nlcias " under Gorgylus, arrived only just in time to pre-

vent the city from capitulating, and Gylippus entered Syra-
cuse unopposed. The inaction of Nicias, who could have
prevented this, is unaccountable. But the arrival of Gylip-
pus turned the scale, and he immediately prosecuted vigorous
and aggressive measures. He surprised an Athenian fort,
and began to construct a third counter-wall on the north
side of the Athenian circle. The Athenians, now shut up
within their lines, were obliged to accept battle, and were
defeated, and even forced to seek shelter within their fortified
lines. Under this discouragement, Nicias sent to Athens
for another armament, and the Athenians responded to
his call. But Sparta also resolved to send re-enforcements,
and invade Attica besides. Sicilian forces also marched in
aid of Syracuse. The result of all these gathering forces, in
which the whole strength of Greece was employed, was the
total defeat of the Athenian fleet in the Great Harboi", in
spite of the powerful fleet which had sailed from Athe'ns
Athenian under Demosthenes. The Syracusans pursued their
by e th" c syra^ advantage by blocking up the harbor, and inclos-
cusans. j n g t j ie whole Athenian fleet. The Athenians

resolved then to force their way out, which led to another
general engagement, in which the Athenians were totally
defeated. Nicias once again attempted to force his way out,

Chap. XIX.] Defeat of the Athenians. 281

with the remainder of his defeated fleet, but the armament
was too much discouraged to obey, and the Athenians sought
to retreat by land. But all the roads were blockaded. The
miserable army, nevertheless, began its hopeless march com-
pletely demoralized, and compelled to abandon the sick and
wounded. The retreating army was harassed on every
side, no progress could be made, and the discouraged army
sought in the night to retreat by a different route. Retreat of
The rear division, under Demosthenes, was over- Athemans -
taken and forced to surrender, and were carried captives to
Syracuse — some six thousand in number. The next day, the
first division, under Nicias, also was overtaken and made pris-
oners. No less than forty thousand who had started from the
Athenian camp, six days before, were either killed or made
prisoners, with the two generals who commanded them.
The prisoners at first were subjected to the most cruel and
inhuman treatment, and then sold as slaves. Both Nicias
and Demosthenes were put to death, b. o. 413.

Such was the disastrous close of the Sicilian expedition.
Our limits prevent an extended notice. "We can only give
the barren outline. But never in Grecian history had so
large a force been arrayed against a foreign power, and
never was ruin more complete. The enterprise was started
at the instance of Alcibiades. It was he who brought this
disaster on his country. But it Would have been better to
have left the expedition to his management. Nicias was a
lofty and religious man, but was no general. He grossly mis-
managed from first to last. The confidence of the Mismanage.-
Athenians was misplaced ; and he, after having Nicias.
spent his life in inculcating a conservative policy, which was
the wiser, yet became the unwilling instrument of untold
and unparalleled calamities. His fault was over-confidence.
He was personally brave, religious, incorruptible, munifi-
cent, affable — in all respects honorable and respectable, but
he had no military genius.

The Lacedaemonians, at the suggestion of Alcibiades, had
permanently occupied Decelea — a fortified post within fif-

282 The Peloponnesian War. [Chap. XIX.

teen miles of Athens, and instead of spending a few weeks
in ravaging Attic.i, now intrenched themselves, and issued
out in excursions until they had destroyed all that was
valuable in the neighborhood of Athens. The great calami-
ties which the Athenians had suffered prevented them from
expelling the invaders, and the city itself was now in the
condition of a post besieged. All the accumulations in her
Exhaustion treasury were exhausted, and she was compelled
of Athens, ^o di sm j ss even her Thracian mercenaries. They
were sent back to their own country under Dotrephes ; but
after inflicting great atrocities in Bceotia, were driven back
by the Thebans.

The Athenian navy was now so crippled that it could no
TheAthe- longer maintain the supremacy of the sea. The
£J?"i"ssL Corinthians were formidable rivals and enemies.
crippled. ^ naval battle at Naupactus, at the mouth of the
Corinthian Gulf, between the Athenians and Corinthians,
though indecisive, yet really was to the advantage of the

The full effects of the terrible catastrophe at Syracuse
were not at first made known to the Athenians, but gradu-
Effects of a Uy a settled despair overspread the public mind.
troV^expe- The supremacy of Athens in Greece was at an end,
diti . on . and the citv itself was endangered. The inhabit-

agamsc ** ^

Syracuse. ants now p U ^ f or th all the energies that a forlorn
hope allowed. The distant garrisons were recalled ; all ex-
penses were curtailed ; timber was collected for new ships,
and Cape Sunium was fortified. But the enemies of Athens
were also stimulated to renewed exertions, and subject-allies
were induced to revolt. Persia sent envoys to Sparta. The
Euboeans and Chians applied to the same power for aid in
shaking off the yoke of Athens now broken and defenseless.
Although a Peloponnesian fleet was defeated by the Athe-
nians on its way to assist Chios in revolt, yet new dangers
multiplied. The infamous Alcibiades crossed with a squad-
ron to Chios, and the Athenians were obliged to make use
of their reserved fund of one thousand talents, which Peri-

Chap. XIX.] Revolution in Athens. 283

cles had set aside for the last extremity, in order to equip a
fleet, under the command of Strombichides. Alci- The Athe .
biades passed over to Miletus, and induced this city p^uT"
also to revolt. A shameful treaty was made be- ^ r e ™ of
tween Sparta and Persia to carry on war against s ? rved fand -
Athens; and the first step in the execution of the treaty was
to hand Miletus over to a Persian general. Ionia now be-
came the seat of war, and a victory was gained near Miletus
by the Athenians, but this was balanced by the capture of
Iasus by the Lacedaemonians. The Athenians rallied at
Samos, which remained faithful, and still controlled one hun-
dred and twenty-eight triremes at this island. Alternate
successes and defeats happened to the contending parties,
with no decided result.

The want of success on the coast of Asia led the Lacedae-
monians to suspect Alcibiades of treachery. Moreover, his
intrigue with the wife of Agis made the king of Sparta his
relentless enemy. Agis accordingly procured a decision of
the ephors to send out instructions for his death. He was
warned in time, and made his escape to the satrap Escape of
Tissaphernes, who commanded the forces of Per- from Sparta,
sia. He persuaded the Persian not to give a decisive supe-
riority to either of the contending parties, who followed his
advice, and kept the Peloponnesian fleet inactive, and bribed
the Spartan general. Having now gratified his revenge
against Athens and lost the support of Sparta, Alcibiades
now looked to his native country as the best field for his
unprincipled ambition. " He opened negotiations with the
Athenian commanders at Samos, and offered the alliance of
Persia as the price of his restoration, but proposed as a
further condition the overthrow of the democratic govern-
ment at Athens."

Then followed the political revolution which Alcibiades
had planned, in conjunction with oligarchal conspirators.
The rally of the city, threatened with complete Popular re-

"• ' m m l volution in

rum, had been energetic and astonishing, and she Athens.
was now, a year after the disaster at Syracuse, able to carry

284 The JPelqponnesian War. [Chap. six.

on a purely defensive system, though with crippled resources.
But for this revolution Athens might have secured her inde-

The proposal of Alcibiades to change the constitution was
listened to by the rich men, on whom the chief burden of the
war had fallen. With the treasures of Persia to help them,
they hoped to carry on the war against Sparta without cost
to themselves. It w r as hence resolved at Sainos, among the
Athenians congregated there, to send a deputation to Athens,
under Pisauder, to carry out their designs. But they had no
Restless other security than the word of Alcibiades, that
Mcibiades. restless and unpatriotic schemer, that they would
secure the assistance of Persia. And it is astonishing that
such a man — so faithless — could be believed.

One of the generals of the fleet at Sainos, Phrynichus,
strongly opposed this movement, and gave good reasons ;
but the tide of opinion among the oligarchal conspirators
ran so violently against him, that Pisander was at once
dispatched to Athens. He laid before the public assembly
Vain prom- the terms which Alcibiades proposed. The people,

ises of • i t-» • i •

Alcibiades. eager at any cost to gam the Persian king as an
ally, in their extremity listened to the proposal, though
unwilling, and voted to relinquish their political power.
Pisander made them believe it was a choice between utter
ruin and the relinquishment of political privileges, since the
Lacedaemonians had an overwhelming force against them. It
was while Chios seemed likely to be recovered by the Athe-
nians, and while the Peloponnesian fleet was paralyzed at
Rhodes by Persian intrigues, that Pisander returned to
.... , , Ionia to open negotiations with Alcibiades and Tis-

Aid invoked J- °

from Persia, gaphernes. But Alcibiades had promised too much,
the satrap having no idea of lending aid to Athens, and yet
he extricated himself by such exaggerated demands, which
he knew the Athenians would never concede to Persia, that
negotiations were broken off, and a reconciliation was made
between Persia and Sparta. The oligarchal conspirators
had, however, gone so far that a retreat was impossible.

Chap. XIX.] Conduct of Alcibiades. 285

The democracy of Athens was now subverted. Instead of
the Senate of Five Hundred and the assembled people, an
oligarchy of Four Hundred sat in the Senate Anoii-

i i <* t t garchyat

house, and all except five thousand were dis- Athens.
franchised — and these were not convened. The oligarchy-
was, in full power when Pisander returned to Athens. All
democratic magistrates had been removed, and no civil func-
tionaries were paid. The Four Hundred had com j)lete control.
Thus perished, through the intrigues of Alcibiades, the demo-
cracy of Athens. He had organized the unfortunate expedi-
tion to Sicily ; he had served the bitterest enemies of his
country; and now, he had succeeded in overturning the con-
stitution which had lasted one hundred years, during which
Athens had won all her glories. "Why should the Athenians
receive back to their confidence so bad a man ? But whom
God wishes to destroy, he first makes mad, and Alcibiades, it
would seem, was the instrument hy which Athens was humi-
liated and ruined as a political power. The revolution was
effected in an hour of despah*, and by delusive Aicibindes
promises. The character and conduct of the in- Athenians.
sidious and unscrupulous intriguer were forgotten in his
promises. The Athenians were simply cheated.

The Four Hundred, installed in power, solemnized their
installation by prayer and sacrifice, put to death some
political enemies, imprisoned and banished others, and ruled
with great rigor and strictness. They then sought Athens

. seeks po;ice

to make peace with Sparta, which was declined. vithSparta.
The army at Samos heard of these changes with exceeding
wrath, especially the cruelties which were inflicted on all
citizens who spoke against the new tyranny. A democratic
demonstration took place at Samos, by which the Samians
and the army were united in the strongest ties, for the
Samians had successfully resisted a like revolution on their
island. The army at Samos refused to obey any orders from
the oligarchy, and constituted a democracy by unprinci-
themselves. Yet the man who had been instrument- §uct of"
al in creating this oligarchy, Avith characteristic

286 The Pdoponnesian War. [Chap. XIX.

versatility and impudence, joined the democracy at Samos.
He came to Samos by invitation of the armament, and
pledged himself to secure Persian aid, and he was believed
and again trusted. He then launched into a new career,
and professed to take up again the interests of the democracy
at Athens. The envoys of the Four Hundred which were
sent to Samos were indignantly sent back, and the general
indignation against the oligarchy was intensified. Envoys
from Argos also appeared at Samos, oifering aid to the
Athenian democracy. There was now a strong and organized
resistance to the Four Hundred, and their own divisions
placed them further in a precarious situation. Theramenes
demanded that the Five Thousand, which body had been
thus far nominal, should be made a reality. The Four
Hundred again solicited aid from Sparta, and constructed a
fort for the admission of a Spartan garrison, while a Lace-
daemonian fleet hovered near the Piraeus.

The long-suppressed energies of the people at length burst
forth. A body of soldiers seized the fortress the oligarchy
were constructing for a Spartan garrison, and demolished it.
Subversion The Four Hundred made important concessions, and
oligarchy. agreed to renew the jDublic assembly. While these
events occurred a naval battle took place near Eretria between
the Lacedaemonians and the Athenians, in which the latter were
defeated. The victory, if they had pushed their success,
would have completed the ruin of Athens, since her home
fleet was destroyed, and that at Samos was detained by
Alcibiades. When it was seen the hostile fleet did not enter
the harboi', the Athenians recovered their dismay and prose-
cuted their domestic revolution by deposing the Four Hun-
Eestoration dred and placing the whole government in the

of the oid r . & .

constitution, hands of the Five Thousand, and this body was
soon enlarged to that of universal citizenship. The old con-
stitution was restored, except that part of it which allowed
pay to the judges. Most of the oligarch al leaders fled, and
a few of them were tried and executed — those who had sought
Spartan aid. Thus this selfish movement terminated, after

Chap. XIX.] Athenian Successes. 287

the oligarchy had enjoyed a brief reign of only a few

While Athens was distracted by changes of government,
the war was conducted on the coasts of Asia between the
belligerents with alternate success and defeat. Abydos,
connected with Miletus by colonial ties, revolted from Athens,
and Lampsacus, a neighboring town, followed its example
two days afterward. Byzantium also went over Alternate

it i • i • 1 -ii-ii successes

to the Lacedaemonians, which enabled them to and failures
command the strait. Alcibiades pursued still Hgerents.
his double game with Persia and Athens. An Athenian fleet
was sent to the Hellespont to contend with the Lacedaemonian
squadron, and gained an incomplete victory at Cynossema,
whose only effect was to encourage the Athenians. The
Persians gave substantial aid to the Lacedaemonians, with-
held for a time by the intrigues of Alcibiades, who erturned
to Samos, but was shortly after seized by Tissaphernes and
sent to Sardis, from which he contrived to escape. He
partially redeemed his infamy by a victory over the Pelo-
ponnesian fleet at Cyzicus, and captured it entirely, which
disaster induced the Spartans to make overtures of j>eace,
which were rejected through the influence of Cleophon, the

The Athenian fleet now reigned alone in the Propontis, the
Bosphorus, and the Hellespont, and levied toll Eevival of
on all the ships passing through the straits, while of e t h e opes
Chrysopolis, opposite to Byzantium, was occupied Athenians.
by Alcibiades. Athens now once more became hopeful and
energetic. Thrasyllus was sent with a large force to Ionia,
and joined his forces with the fleet which Alcibiades com-
manded at Sestos, but the conjoined forces were unable to
retake Abydos, which was relieved by Pharnabazus, the
Persian satrap.

The absence of the fleet from Athens encouraged the
Lacedaemonians, who retook Pylus, b. c. 409, while Cyrus sent
the Athenians captured Chalcedon, and the fol- toPhr ys ia -
lowing year Byzantium itself. Such was the state of the

2S8 The Peloponnesian War. [Chap. XIX

contending parties when Cyrus the younger was sent by
his father Darius as satrap of Lydia, Phrygia, and Cappa-
docia, and whose command in Asia Minor was attended
by important consequences. Tissaphernes and Pharnabazus
were still left in command of the coast.

Cyrus, a man of great ambition and self-control, came to
Asia Minor with a fixed purpose of putting down the
Athenian power, which for sixty years had humbled the
pride of the Persian kings. He formed a hearty and cor-
dial alliance with Lysander, the Spartan admiral, and
the most eminent man, after Brasidas, whom the Lacedae-
Union of monians had produced during the war. He was a

Cyrus with x ■-...,. , ,

Lysander. man ot severe Spartan discipline and virtue, but
ambitious and cruel. He visited Cyrus at Sardis, was
welcomed with every mark of favor, and induced Cyrus to
grant additional pay to every Spartan seaman.

Meanwhile Alcibiades re-entered his native city in triumph,
Return of after eio-ht years' exile, and was welcomed by all

Alcibiades . . .

to Athens, parties as the only man who had sufficient capacity
to restore the fallen fortunes of Athens. His confiscated
property was restored, and he was made captain -general with
ample powers, while all his treasons were apparently forgotten,
which had proved so fatal to his country — the sending of
Gylippus to Syracuse, the revolt of Chios and Miletus, and
the conspiracy of the Four Hundred. The effect of

His exploits. .

this treatment, so much better than what he
deserved, intoxicated this wayward and unprincipled, but
exceedingly able man. His first exploit was to sail to Andros,
now under a Lacedaemonian garrison, whose fields he devas-
tated, but was unable to take the town. He then went to
Samos, and there learned that all his intrigues with Persia
had failed, and that Persia was allied still more strongly
with the Lacedaemonians under Lysander.

This great general, now at Ephesus, pursued a cautious
policy, and refused to crive battle to the Athenian

His reverses. „ . .

forces under Alcibiades, who then retired to Pho-
caea, leaving his fleet under the command of Antiochus, his

Chap. XIX.] Battle of Arginusce. 289

favorite pilot. Antiochus, in the absence of his general,
engaged the Lacedaemonian fleet, but was defeated and
slain at ISTotium. The conduct of Alcibiades produced great
dissaifection at Athens. He had sailed with a fleet not
inferior to that which he commanded at Syracuse, and had
made ^reat promises of future achievements, vet Lysander

, & , , " , , •-, . , recalled to

in three months he had not gained a single sue- Sparta,
cess. He was therefore dismissed from his command, which
was given to ten generals, of whom Conon was the most
eminent, while he retired to the Chersonese. Lysander, at the
same time, was superseded in the command of the Lacedae-
monians by Callicratidas, in accordance with Spartan cus-

Online LibraryJohn LordAnceint states and empires → online text (page 24 of 55)