Alfred John Church.

Callias. A tale of the fall of Athens online

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stricken to death, and we cannot bring it to life again.' Then he turned
to Simmias and Cebes, and said, 'Hear now what I have to say, but while
you hear, think much of the truth but little of Socrates; and be on your
guard lest in my eagerness I deceive not myself only but you also, and
leave my sting behind me when I die even as does a bee. You, Simmias,
think that the soul may be but as a harmony in the body. But do you not
remember what we said about all knowledge being a remembering, and that
what the soul knows it has before learnt? It existed then before the
body; but a harmony cannot exist before the things are put together of
which it proceeds. Then again harmony may be more or less; but one soul
cannot be more a soul than another. And if, as the wise men say, virtue
is harmony and vice discord, we have a harmony of a discord, which
cannot be; finally one part of the soul often opposes another, as
reason opposes appetite; how then is the soul a harmony? You, Cebes,
hold, indeed, that the soul is durable, but may not be immortal. Hear
then my answer. You believe that there are ideas or principles of
things, and that these ideas, being invisible, are the real causes of
things that are visible.' Cebes acknowledged that he did so believe. 'Is
not now the soul the principle of life, and is not this principle the
opposite of death? In its essence, therefore, it is immortal; but that
which is immortal cannot be destroyed, no, even though there are things
which seem to threaten its existence.'

"In this we all agreed. After this Socrates discoursed in many words
about the abodes and dwelling-places of the dead both good and bad, and
of the manner in which they are dealt with by the powers thereunto
appointed. But of this I will speak on some other occasion, if you will.
At present time is short, for I must not leave the sick man any longer,
only I will relate the very end of the Master's discourse and the things
that happened after.

"'To affirm positively about such matters,' he said, 'is not the part of
a wise man. Yet what I have said seems reasonable. And anyhow he who has
scorned the body and its pleasures during life, and has adorned the soul
with her proper virtues, justice and courage and truth, may surely await
his passage to the other world with a good hope. But now destiny calls
me, and I must obey. But I will bathe before I take the poison, that the
women may not have the trouble of washing my body.'

"Then Crito asked: 'Have you any directions to give us?'

"'Nothing now; if you rightly order your own lives, you will do the
best for me and my children; but if you do not, then whatever you may
promise, you will fail.'

"'But,' Crito asked, 'how shall we bury you?'

"'As you will,' said he, 'provided only you can catch me and that I do
not slip out of your hands.' Then he smiled, and said, 'Crito here will
not be persuaded that I am saying the truth. He thinks that _I_ am the
dead body that he will soon see here, and asks how he shall bury me.
Assure him then that when this dead body is laid in the grave or put
upon the pyre to be burnt it is not Socrates that he sees. For to speak
in this way, O Crito, is not only absurd but harmful.'

"After this he bathed, remaining in the bath-chamber for some time. This
being ended, his children were brought to him, and the women of his
family also. With these he talked awhile in the presence of Crito, and
afterward commanded that some one should take the women and children
away. And it was now near sunset. Hereupon the servant of the Eleven
came in, and said, 'O Socrates, you will not be angry with me and curse
me when I tell you, as the magistrates constrained me to do, that you
must drink the poison. I have always found you most gentle and generous,
the best by far of all that have come into this place. You will be
angry, not with me, for you know that I am blameless, but with those
whom you know to be in fault. And now, for you know what I am come to
tell you, bear what must be borne as cheerfully as may be.' And saying
this the man turned away his face and wept.

"'Farewell!' said Socrates, 'I will do as you bid,' and looking to us he
said, 'How courteous he is! All the time he has been so, sometimes
talking to me, and showing himself the best of fellows. And now see how
generously he weeps for me! But we must do what he says. Let some one
bring the poison, if it has been pounded; if not, let the man pound it.'

"'But,' said Crito, 'the sun is still upon the mountains. I have known
some who would prolong the day eating and drinking till it was quite
late before they drank. Anyhow do not be in a hurry. There is still
plenty of time.'

"'Ah!' said Socrates, 'these men were quite consistent. They thought
that they were gaining so much time. But I too must be consistent. I
believe that I shall gain nothing by dying an hour or two later, except
indeed the making of myself a laughing stock by clinging to life when
there is really nothing left of it to cling to.'

"Then Crito made a sign to the slave that was standing by; he went out,
and after some time had passed brought in the man whose duty it was to
give the poison, and who brought it in ready mixed in a cup. When
Socrates caught sight of him, he said:

"'Well, my friend, you know all about these matters. What must I do?'

"'You will only have to walkabout after you have drunk the poison, till
you feel a sort of weight in your legs. Then you should lie down, and
the poison will do the rest.'

"So saying, he reached the cup to the Master, who took it. His hand did
not shake; there was not the least change in his color or his look. Only
he put his head forward in the way he had, and said to the man:

"'How about making a libation from the cup? May we do it?'

"'Socrates,' said the man, 'we pound just so much as we think

"'I understand,' said the Master. 'Still we may, nay we must, pray to
the gods that my removal hence to that place may be fortunate. The gods
grant this! Amen!' And as he said this he put the cup to his lips and
drank it off in the easiest, quietest way possible.

"Up to that time we had all been fairly well able to keep from tears.
But when we saw him drinking the poison, when we knew that he had
finished it, we could restrain them no longer. As for myself I covered
my face with my mantle, and wept to myself. Not for him did I weep, but
for myself, thinking what a friend I had lost. And others were still
more overcome than I was. Only Socrates was quite unmoved.

"'Why all this,' he said, 'my dear friends? I sent the women away for
this very reason, that they might not vex us in this fashion. I have
heard it said that a man ought to die with good words in his ears. Be
quiet, I beseech, and bear yourselves like men.'

"When we heard this we were not a little ashamed of ourselves, and kept
back our tears. He walked about till he felt the weight in his legs, and
then lay down on his back - this was what the man bade him do. Then the
man who administered the poison squeezed his foot pretty strongly, and
asked him whether he felt anything. He said no. Then the man showed us
how the numbness was going higher and higher.

"'When it reaches his heart,' he said, 'he will die.'

"When the groin was cold the Master uncovered his face - for he had
covered it before - and said, 'Crito, we owe a cock to Æsculapius; pay
it, do not forget.'

"These were the last words he said.

"'I will,' said Crito, 'is there anything more?'

"But he made no answer. A little time after, we saw him move. Then the
man uncovered the face, and we saw that his eyes were set. Then Crito
closed his mouth and his eyes."

Phaedo left the room hastily when he had finished his narrative. For
some time there was silence. Then Apollodorus spoke.

"You know, my friends," he said, "that I am not very wise nor at all
learned; but he bore with me and my foolishness, and you will also
because you know I loved him. Let me say then one thing. Much that
Socrates said that day I did not understand, nor do I understand it now
when I hear it again. Yet no one could be more fully persuaded than I
was that he spoke the truth. And what persuaded me was the sight of the
man. So brave was he, so cheerful, so wholly convinced in his own mind,
that no one could doubt that he was indeed about to depart to a better


[89] The Eleven were the executioners of the law rather taking the place
of the sheriff and the under-sheriff than that of the hangman. The
vagueness of its name is an interesting example of the Greek distaste
for naming anything terrible.

[90] A young Greek wore his hair long till he reached the age of
eighteen. This little detail is a proof of Phaedo's extreme youth at
this time.



The story that Callias had heard of the last days of his Master, and
heard, of course, with many details which it is now impossible to
reproduce, made, it need hardly be said, a profound impression on him.
First and foremost - and this was what the dead man himself would have
been most rejoiced to see - was the profound conviction that this
teaching, inspired, as it was, with a faith which the immediate prospect
of death had not been able to shake, was absolutely true. The young man
can hardly be said to have had any feeling of religion in the sense in
which we understand that word. To believe in the fables, grotesque or
even immoral, which made up the popular theology, in gods who were only
exaggerated men, stronger, indeed, but more cruel, treacherous, and
lustful, was an impossibility. The poets' tales of the Elysian plain and
of the abyss of Tartarus had in no wise helped towards producing any
emotions of the spiritual kind, any wish to dwell in an invisible world.
The most sacred of these poets in his description of that world as
another earth in which everything was feebler, paler, less satisfying
than it is here, had certainly repelled rather than attracted him. Now
this want had been supplied; the lofty teaching of duty, duty owed to
country, kinsfolk, friends, fellow-citizens, fellow-men, that he had
heard from the Master was now supplemented and sanctioned by this clear
enunciation of a doctrine of immortality. The young man felt that he
could face the world, whether it brought him prosperity or adversity,
joy or sorrow, life or death, with a more equable soul or more assured
spirit than he had ever dreamed could be possible.

His immediate duty, however, was less clear. When his country lay under
the heel of the Spartan conqueror, Hermione had pointed out to him - not
without sacrifice of herself, as he sometimes could not help feeling,
what he owed to the city that had given him birth. But now, how did the
case stand? Athens had suffered a second, a more fatal fall. She might
repair her losses; she might retrieve defeat. But when she had
definitely broken with right and truth, had deliberately chosen the
worse rather than the better, what hope, what remedy was there? And what
was the obligation on himself? Could he aspire to a career in a State
which was so false to all the principles of life and government?

The two or three days that followed the conversation related in my last
chapter were spent by the young Athenian in debating with himself the
question: What am I to do? But the more he thought over the problem, the
more complex and intricate did it seem to become. Just when he was
beginning to despair, a solution, rude and peremptory, but satisfactory
in so far as it admitted of no questioning, was forced upon him.

He had just risen on the morning of the fourth day, when a visitor was
announced. It was Xenophon, looking, as Callias thought, serious, but
not depressed.

"And what have you been doing these three days?" cried the newcomer.

"Thinking," replied Callias.

"That is exactly what I have been doing myself, and I would wager my
chance of being Archon next year, a very serious stake indeed, that we
have had the same subject for our thoughts. You have been debating with
yourself what you are to do?"

"Exactly so; and I am no nearer a conclusion than I was when I began."

"Well, some one else has been good enough to save us the trouble of
deciding. Listen to this. I have a friend in office, I should tell you,
and he has given me an early copy of what will be soon known all over
Athens. 'It is proposed by Erasinides, son of Lysias, of the township of
Colonus, that Xenophon, son of Grythus, of the township of Orchia, and
Callias, son of Hipponicus, of the township of Eleusis,' and some twenty
others, whose names I need not trouble you with, 'be banished from
Athens for unpatriotic conduct, especially in aiding and abetting the
designs of Cyrus, who was a notorious enemy of the Athenian people.'
Well; that is going to be proposed to the Senate to-day. My friend, who
knows all about the strings, and how they are pulled, tells me that it
is certain to be carried. In the course of a few days it will be brought
before the Assembly, and I have no doubt whatever that it will be

"But what have the Athenian people got to do with Cyrus, who is dead and
gone, and can neither help nor hurt?"

"Ah! you don't understand. The Lacedaemonians, you know, have declared
war against the Persian King. Of course that gives the Athenians a
chance of becoming his friends. It is true that things are not ripe just
yet for anything decisive or public. We are allies with the
Lacedaemonians, and can't venture to quarrel with them. But this is a
matter at which they cannot take offence, but which will most certainly
please the Great King. He has not forgotten the Cyrus business, you may
depend upon it, and it will delight him to hear of any, who had a part
in it suffering for their act. That is why we are to be banished. It is
disgraceful, I allow, to find a great city banishing its citizens in
order to curry favor with the barbarians; but it is a fact, and we must
take it into account."

"And what shall you do?"

"I shall go to Asia. I had intended to go in any case, for I have
private affairs there, nothing less important, I may tell you in
confidence, than marrying a wife. Then I shall find something to do with
the Spartans, among whom I have some very good friends. Come with me.
You too, might find a wife; that will be as you please; but anyhow I can
guarantee you employment."

"I confess," said Callias, after meditating awhile, "that I do not feel
greatly drawn by what you suggest. As for the wife, that prospect does
not please me at all; and, as you know, I am not so much of a
Spartan-lover[91] as you. You must let me think about it; you shall
have a final answer to-morrow."

When Xenophon had taken leave, Callias went straight to Hippocles, and
happened to arrive just as a messenger was leaving the house with a note
addressed to himself, and asking for an early visit. Callias related
what he had just heard from Xenophon.

"You do not surprise me. In fact I also have had a private intimation
from a member of the Senate that this is going to be done, and it is
exactly the matter about which I wished to see you. But tell me, what
does Xenophon advise?"

Callias told him.

"And you hesitate about accepting his offer?"

"Yes; I do more than hesitate; I feel more and more averse to it the
more I think of it."

"You are right; to take service with the Spartans must, almost of
necessity, mean, sooner or later, some collision with your own country.
It was this that ruined Alcibiades. If he could only have had patience,
he could have saved himself and the Athenians too, but that visit to
Sparta ruined both. No; I should advise you against Xenophon's

"But where am I to go? I have thought of Syracuse. But I do not care to
go back to Dionysius. He was all courtesy and kindness; but I felt
suffocated in the air of his court. And we never feel quite safe with a

"I have thought of something else that might suit you. I am going to
start in a few days' time on a visit to my own native country, not to
Poseidonia - I could not bear to see the barbarians masters there - but
to Italy. There are other Greek cities which still hold their own, and
they are well worth seeing. You might, too, if you choose, pay another
visit to Rome. You will at least have the advantage of being out of this
dismal round of strife to which Greece itself seems doomed. Our
countrymen there have, I know, faults of their own; but they do contrive
to live on tolerably good terms with each other."

The plan proposed seemed to Callias to promise better than any that he
could think of and he accepted the offer with thankfulness. A few days
afterwards he was gazing for what he felt might well be the last time at
the city of his birth. Bathed in the sunshine of a summer morning stood
the Acropolis, crowned with its marble temples, and, towering above all,
the gigantic statue of Athene the Champion, her outstretched spear-point
flashing in the light. What glories he was leaving behind him! What lost
hopes, what unfulfilled aspirations of his own! The tears of no unmanly
emotion were in his eyes as he turned away, but not before he had caught
sight of a well-known house by the harbor of Piraeus. This seemed to be
the last drop of bitterness in his cup. She had lost him for his
country's sake, and now he had lost her, too. He turned and found
himself face to face with Hermione! There was something in her look
which made his heart thrill; but she did not give him time to speak.

"Callias," she said, "you gave up what you said was dear to me," and her
blush deepened as she spoke, "for Athens' sake. But now - if you have not
forgotten - "

He needed to hear no more. The next moment, careless of the eyes of the
old helmsman, he had clasped her in his arms.

"I can allow myself to love the exile," she whispered in his ear.


[91] The Greek _philo-lacon_. The word had been applied to Cimon, son of
Miltiades, who had always been a popular statesman and so might be used
in a friendly way. If Callias had spoken of Xenophon as disposed to
_laconismus_ it would have been almost an affront, this word meaning not
so much admiration of Spartan ways of life as devotion to Spartan

Author's Postscript.

It is impossible for the writer of historical fiction, especially if he
wishes to suggest to his readers as many subjects of interest as
possible, to adapt the literary necessities of his work to fit in with
the actual course of events. But he is bound to point out such
departures from historical accuracy as he feels constrained to make. It
is quite possible that a correction may serve to impress the real facts
upon his readers more deeply than an originally accurate statement would
have done. I therefore append to my tale a list of


1. I was anxious to include the Battle of Arginusæ in my story. It was
the first scene in the last act of the great drama of the Peloponnesian
war. At the same time I felt bound, having made up my mind to give a
description of a Greek comedy, to choose the _Frogs_. It has a literary
interest such as no other Aristophanic play possesses, and it is at once
more important and more intelligible to a modern reader. But to bring
the two things together it was necessary to ante-date the representation
of the play. I have put it in the year 406 B. C. It really took place in
405. I have also made the battle happen somewhat earlier than in all
probability, it really did. The festival of the Great Dionysia, at which
new plays were produced, was celebrated in March. We do not know
precisely the date of Arginusæ, but it is likely that it was later in
the year. A similar correction must be made about the embassy of
Dionysius. It may have taken place when the play was really produced,
but in 406 Dionysius was too busy with his war with Carthage to think of
such things.

2. I have ante-dated, this time by several years, the capture of
Poseidonia by the native Italians. Here again we have no record of the
precise time; but it probably happened somewhat later in the century.

3. I do not know whether I am wrong in making Alcibiades escape from his
castle in Thrace immediately after the battle Ægos Potami. Plutarch
would give one rather to understand that he fled after the capture of
Athens. It is quite possible, however, that he recognized the defeat as
fatal to Athenian influence of the Thracian coast, and that feeling his
own position to be no longer tenable, he retired from it at once.

4. I have taken some liberties with the text of Xenophon's narrative.
The trial of the generals by their own soldiers, the athletic sports,
and the entertainment described in my story are all taken from the
_Anabasis_, but they do not come so close together as I have found it
convenient to put them.

5. It is a moot point among historians whether Xenophon returned to
Athens after he had quitted the Ten Thousand. Mr. Grote thinks that he
did; and his authority is perhaps sufficient to shelter such a humble
person as myself. It has also been debated whether he was banished in
399 or some years later. I am inclined to think that here I am accurate.

6. I need hardly say that the Thracian national song is of my own
invention. Xenophon simply says that the Thracian performers went off
the stage singing the "Sitalces." That this was a song celebrating the
achievement of the king of that name (for which see a classical
dictionary) cannot be doubted. But we know nothing more about it, and I
have supplied the words.

7. It is not necessary to say that the "diary" of Callias is an
invention. To be quite candid I do not think it was at all likely that a
young soldier would have kept one, or even been able to write it up
daily. But I wanted to give some prominent incidents from Xenophon's
story, and had not space for the whole, while a mere epitome would have
been tedious.

8. I must caution my readers against supposing my hero to be historical.
There was a Callias, son of Hipponicus, at this time, a very different

9. I have taken the defence of Socrates from Plato's _Apology_, not from
Xenophon. The former is immeasurably superior.



AGIS, 164.

Home, 120
Appearance, 124
Career in Thrace, 134
Defense, 137-140
Farewell to his men, 151-154
Assassination, 190-194.

ALIEN, 21-22.

ANABASIS, THE, 209-211.



ARGOS, 164.


ARIÆUS, 210, 214, 215.




CALLICRATIDAS, 39, 44-50, 53, 55, 63.



CHIOS, 32, 62.


CIMON, 52.

CLEARCHUS, 210, 213.

CLEON, 12.

CONON, 16, 17, 36.

COS, 89.

CRITIAS, 276, 277.

CRITO, 301, 304-320.


CYBELE, 157.

CYRUS, 48, 49, 142, 153, 211.

CYRUS, THE YOUNGER, 207, 208, 211.

DELIUM, 130.

DIOMEDON, 54-57, 58.

DIONYSIUS, 2, 197, 199-206.

DRESS, 46.

EPHORS, 164.


EURYPTOLEMUS, 94, 96, 99-101.

EXILE, 324.

President, 242
Foot-races, 243, 244
The Pentathlon, 244
Leaping the Bar, 245
Running, 246
Quoit Throwing, 246-247
Hurling the Javelin, 247
Wrestling, 248, 249
Horse-race, 251.

GORDIUM, 155, 158.

Public Guests, 66
Popular Trials, 90-102, 287-302
The Bema, 95
Balloting, 101-102
The Eleven, 102
Capital Punishment, 103.

HELLESPONT, 18, 120.

HERMÆ, 139.


Arrangement, 30, 34
Servants, 30
Clocks, 123.

HUNTING, 132, 133.

LYSANDER, 141, 142, 144, 160.

MARATHON, 32, 173, 179.

MEDICAL SCIENCE, 265, 266, 269, 271.

MONEY, 46.


MITYLENE, 16, 38, 43.

NAVY, 51, 52, 54.

NICIAS, 138.


OENOPHYTA, 67, 68.


OMENS, 216, 218.




PERSIANS, 48, 324.



PHAEDO, 307, 308.


PLATO, 301.




PROXENUS, 208, 215.

RHODES, 186.

Murder of the Generals, 214
Xenophon in Command, 216, 217
Plan of March, 219

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Online LibraryAlfred John ChurchCallias. A tale of the fall of Athens → online text (page 21 of 22)