John Henry Wright.

Masterpieces of Greek literature; Homer: Tyrtaeus: Archilochus: Callistratus: Alcaeus: Sappho: Anacreon: Pindar: Aeschylus: Sophocles: Euripides Aristophanes: Herodotus: Thucydides: Xenophon: Plato: Theocritus: Lucian, with biographical sketches and notes; online

. (page 22 of 29)
Online LibraryJohn Henry WrightMasterpieces of Greek literature; Homer: Tyrtaeus: Archilochus: Callistratus: Alcaeus: Sappho: Anacreon: Pindar: Aeschylus: Sophocles: Euripides Aristophanes: Herodotus: Thucydides: Xenophon: Plato: Theocritus: Lucian, with biographical sketches and notes; → online text (page 22 of 29)
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put to flight, and getting command of the ford, pro-
ceeded on their march. The Syracusans continually-
harassed them, the cavalry riding alongside, and the
light-armed troops hurling darts at them. On this
day the Athenians proceeded about four and a half
miles and encamped at a hill. On the next day they
started early, and, having advanced more than two
miles, descended into a level plain and encamped.
The country was inhabited, and they were desirous of
obtaining food from the houses, and also water which
they might carry with them, as there was little to be
had for many miles in the country which lay before
them. Meanwhile the Syracusans had gone on before
them, and at a point where the road ascends a steep
hill called the Acraean height, and there is a precipi-
tous ravine on either side, were blocking up the pass
by a wall. On the next day the Athenians advanced,
although again impeded by the numbers of the enemy's
cavalry who rode alongside, and of their javelin-men
who threw darts at them. For a long time the Athe-
nians maintained the struggle, but at last retired to
their own encampment. Their supplies were now cut
off, because the horsemen circumscribed their move-

In the morning they started early and resumed
their march. They pressed onwards to the hill where
the way was barred, and found in front of them the
Syracusan infantry drawn up to defend the wall, in
deep array, for the pass was narrow. Whereupon the
Athenians advanced and assaulted the barrier, but the
enemy, who were numerous and had the advantage
of position, threw missiles upon them from the hill,
which was steep, and so, not being able to force their
way, they again retired and rested. During the con-


flict, as is often the case in the fall of the year, there
came on a storm of rain and thunder, whereby the
Athenians were yet more disheartened, for they
thought that everything was conspiring to their de-
struction. While they were resting, Gylippus and the
Syracusans despatched a division of their army to raise
a wall behind them across the road by which they had
come ; but the Athenians sent some of their own troops
and frustrated their intention. They then retired with
their whole army in the direction of the plain and
passed the night. On the following day they again
advanced. The Syracusans now surrounded and at-
tacked them on every side, and wounded many of
them. If the Athenians advanced they retreated, but
charged them when they retired, falling especially
upon the hindermost of them, in the hope that, if they
could put to flight a few at a time, they might strike
a panic into the whole army. In this fashion the
Athenians struggled on for a long time, and having
advanced about three quarters of a mile rested in the
plain. The Syracusans then left them and returned
to their own encampment.

The army was now in -a miserable plight, being in
want of every necessary ; and by the continual assaults
of the enemy great numbers of the soldiers had been
wounded. Nicias and Demosthenes, perceiving their
condition, resolved during the night to light as many
watch-fires as possible, and lead off their forces. They
intended to take another route and march towards the
sea in the direction opposite to that from which the
Syracusans were watching them. Now their whole
line of march lay, not towards Catana, but towards
the other side of Sicily, in the direction of Camarina
and Gela, and the cities, Hellenic or Barbarian, of


that region. So they lighted numerous fires and de-
parted in the night. And then, as constantly hap-
pens in armies, especially in very great ones, and as
might be expected when they were marching by night
in an enemy's country, and with the enemy from whom
they were flying not far off, there arose a panic among
them, and they fell into confusion. The army of
Nicias, which led the way, kept together, and was
considerably in advance, but that of Demosthenes,
which was the larger half, got severed from the other
division, and marched in less order. At daybreak
they succeeded in reaching the sea, and striking into
the Helorine road marched along it, intending as soon
as they arrived at the river Cacyparis to follow up the
stream through the interior of the island. They
were expecting that the Sicels for whom they had
sent would meet them on this road. When they had
reached the river they found there also a guard of
the Syracusans cutting off the passage by a wall and
palisade. They forced their way through, and cross-
ing the river, passed on towards another river which
is called the Erineus, this being the direction in which
their guides led them.

When daylight broke and the Syracusans and their
allies saw that the Athenians had departed, most of
them thought that Gylippus had let them go on pur-
pose, and were very angry with him. They easily
found the line of their retreat, and quickly following,
came up with them about the time of the midday
meal. The troops of Demosthenes were last ; they
were marching slowly and in disorder, not having re-
covered from the panic of the previous night, when
they were overtaken by the Syracusans, who immedi-
ately fell upon them and fought. Separated as they


were from the others, they were easily hemmed in by
the Syracusan cavalry and driven into a narrow space.
The division of Nicias was as much as six miles in ad-
vance, for he marched faster, thinking that their safety
depended at such a time, not in remaining and fight-
ing, if they could avoid it, but in retreating as quickly
as they could, and resisting only when they were posi-
tively compelled. Demosthenes, on the other hand,
who had been more incessantly harassed throughout
the retreat, because marching last he was first at-
tacked by the enemy, now, when he saw the Syracu-
sans pursuing him, instead of pressing onward, had
ranged his army in order of battle. Thus lingering
he was surrounded, and he and the Athenians under
Lis command were in the greatest danger and confu-
sion. For they were crushed into a walled enclosure,
having a road on both sides and planted thickly with
olive-trees, and missiles were hurled at them from
all points. The Syracusans naturally preferred this
mode of attack to a regular engagement. For to risk
themselves against desperate men would have been
only playing into the hands of the Athenians. More-
over, every one was sparing of his life ; their good
fortune was already assured, and they did not want to
fall in the hour of victory. Even by this irregular
mode of fighting they thought that they could over-
power and capture the Athenians.

And so when they had gone on all day assailing
them with missiles from every quarter, and saw that
they were quite worn out with their wounds and all
their other sufferings, Gylippus and the Syracusans
made a proclamation, first of all to the islanders, that
any of them who pleased might come over to them
and have their freedom. But only a few cities ac-


cepted the offer. At length an agreement was made
for the entire force under Demosthenes. Their arms
were to be surrendered, but no one was to suffer
death, either from violence or from imprisonment, or
from want of the bare means of life. So they all sur-
rendered, being in number six thousand, and gave up
what money they had. This they threw into the hol-
lows of shields and filled four. The captives were
at once taken to the city. On the same day Nicias
and his division reached the river Erineus, which he
crossed, and halted his army on a rising ground.

On the following day he was overtaken by the Syr-
acusans, who told him that Demosthenes had surren-
dered, and bade him do the same. He, not believing
them, procured a truce while he sent a horseman to
go and see. Upon the return of the horseman bring-
ing assurance of the fact, he sent a herald to Gylip-
pus and the Syracusans, saying that he would agree,
on behalf of the Athenian state, to pay the expenses
which the Syracusans had incurred in the war, on
condition that they should let his army go ; until the
money was paid he would give Athenian citizens as
hostages, a man for a talent. Gylippus and the Syra-
cusans would not accept these proposals, but attacked
and surrounded this division of the army as well as the
other, and hurled missiles at them from every side until
the evening. They too were grievously in want of food
and necessaries. Nevertheless they meant to wait for
the dead of the night and then to proceed. They were
just resuming their arms, when the Syracusans dis-
covered them and raised the Paean. The Athenians,
perceiving that they were detected, laid down their
arms again, with the exception of about three hun-
dred men who broke through the enemy's guard, and


made their escape in the darkness as best they

When the day dawned Nicias led forward his army,
and the Syracusans and the allies again assailed them
on every side, hurling javelins and other missiles at
them. The Athenians hurried on to the river Assina-
rus. They hoped to gain a little relief if they forded
the river, for the mass of horsemen and other troops
overwhelmed and crushed them ; and they were worn
out by fatigue and thirst. But no sooner did they
reach the water than they lost all order and rushed
in ; every man was trying to cross first, and, the
enemy pressing upon them at the same time, the pas-
sage of the river became hopeless. Being compelled
to keep close together they fell one upon another, and
trampled each other under foot : some at once perished,
pierced by their own spears ; others got entangled in
the baggage and were carried down the stream. The
Syracusans stood upon the further bank of the river,
which was steep, and hurled missiles from above on
the Athenians, who were huddled together in the deep
bed of the stream and for the most part were drink-
ing greedily. The Peloponnesians came down the
bank and slaughtered them, falling chiefly upon those
who were in the river. Whereupon the water at once
became foul, but was drunk all the same, although
muddy and dyed with blood, and the crowd fought
for it.

At last, when the dead bodies were lying in heaps
upon one another in the water and the army was ut-
terly undone, some perishing in the river, and any
who escaped being cut off by the cavalry, Nicias sur-
rendered to Gylippus, in whom he had more confidence
than in the Syracusans. He entreated him and the


Lacedaemonians to do what they pleased with himself,
but not to go on killing the men. So Gylippus gave
the word to make prisoners. Thereupon the surviv-
ors, not including, however, a large number whom the
soldiers concealed, were brought in alive. As for the
three hundred who had broken through the guard in the
night, the Syracusans sent in pursuit and seized them.
The total of the public prisoners when collected was
not great ; for many were appropriated by the soldiers,
and the whole of Sicily was full of them, they not
having capitulated like the troops under Demosthenes.
A large number also perished ; the slaughter at the
river being very great, quite as great as any which
took place in the Sicilian war ; and not a few had
fallen in the frequent attacks which were made upon
the Athenians during their march. Still many es-
caped, some at the time, others ran away after an
interval of slavery, and all these found refuge at

The Syracusans and their allies collected their
forces and returned with the spoil, and as many pris-
oners as they could take with them, into the city.
The captive Athenians and allies they deposited in the
quarries, which they thought would be the safest place
of confinement. Nieias and Demosthenes they put
to the sword, although against the will of Gylippus.
For Gylippus thought that to carry home with him to
Lacedaemon the generals of the enemy, over and
above all his other successes, would be a brilliant
triumph. One of them, Demosthenes, happened to be
the greatest foe, and the other the greatest friend of
the Lacedaemonians, both in the same matter of Pylos
and Sphacteria. For Nieias had taken up their cause,
and had persuaded the Athenians to make the peace


which set at liberty the prisoners taken in the island.
The Lacedaemonians were grateful to him for the ser-
vice, and this was the main reason why he trusted
Gylippus and surrendered himself to him. But cer-
tain Syracusans, who had been in communication with
him, were afraid (such was the report) that on some
suspicion of their guilt he might be put to the torture
and bring trouble on them in the hour of their pros-
perity. Others, and especially the Corinthians, feared
that, being rich, he might by bribery escape and do
them further mischief. So the Syracusans gained
the consent of the allies and had him executed. For
these or the like reasons he suffered death. No one
of the Hellenes in my time was less deserving of so
miserable an end ; for he lived in the practice of every

Those who were imprisoned in the quarries were at
the beginning of their captivity harshly treated by
the Syracusans. There were great numbers of them,
and they were crowded in a deep and narrow place.
At first the sun by day was still scorching and suffo-
cating, for they had no roof over their heads, while
the autumn nights were cold, and the extremes of
temperature engendered violent disorders. Being
cramped for room they had to do everything on the
same spot. The corpses of those who died from their
wounds, exposure to the weather, and the like, lay
heaped one upon another. The smells were intoler-
able , and they were at the same time afflicted by
hunger and thirst. During eight months they were
allowed only about half a pint of water and a pint of
food a day. Every kind of misery which could be
fall man in such a place befell them. This was the
condition of all the captives for about ten weeks. At


length the Syracusans sold them, with the exception
of the Athenians and of any Sicilian or Italian Greeks
who had sided with them in the war. The whole
number of the public prisoners is not accurately
known, but they were not less than seven thousand.

Of all the Hellenic actions which took place in this
war, or indeed of all Hellenic actions which are on
record, this was the greatest — the most glorious to the
victors, the most ruinous to the vanquished ; for they
were utterly and at all points defeated, and their suf-
ferings were prodigious. Fleet and army perished
from the face of the earth ; nothing was saved, and of
the many who went forth few returned home.

Thus ended the Sicilian expedition. QJBook VIII.,
Chapters 75-87.)


Xenophon, the only other Greek historian besides Herod*
otus and Thucydides, of the so-called classical period, whose
works are extant, was born near Athens about 430 b. c.
Early in life he came under the influence of Socrates, for
whom he felt the warmest admiration and affection, and
whose character he vindicates from charges made against
him by anecdotes illustrating his daily mode of life and con-
versation, in the Memorabilia, or Recollections of Socrates.

After the close of the Peloponnesian War in 403 b. c,
Xenophon received an invitation to join the expedition of
Cyrus the Younger, a Persian prince who was gathering a
force of Greek mercenaries with the hope of wresting the
throne from his brother, the Persian king Artaxerxes. Xeno-
phon consulted Socrates and the Delphic oracle, and joined
the campaign, neither as officer nor as soldier, but out of a
spirit of adventure. When Cyrus was killed in the battle
of Cunaxa, 401 B. C, and the chief Greek officers were assas-
sinated, Xenophon became the leading spirit of the army,
and directed its retreat through the country of the enemy to
the Black Sea, and thence to the Hellespont. He describes
this entire expedition in the Anabasis, or March to Babylon,
— a title which belongs strictly only to the first of the
seven " books " of the work. On his return, he served un-
der the Spartan king Agesilaus, and perhaps even fought
with him against Athens at the battle of Coronea in 394
B. c. Before or after this event, he was formally banished
from Athens, but he was presented by the Lacedaemonians
with an estate in Elis, where he made his home and wrote


most of his books in the quiet of a country life. The de-
cree of banishment from Athens was revoked, and one of
his sons died in battle fighting for that city, but he seems
not to have cared to live again in his former home, and died
in Corinth about 355 B. c.

The chief historical work of Xenophon, besides the Ana-
basis, is the Hellenica, in which he continues the history of
Greece from the point at which Thucydides left it to the
battle of Mantinea in 362 b. c, in which his son Gryllus
fell. This history, although valuable for the facts it gives,
is told uninterestingly, and from a prejudiced point of

Besides these works and the Cyropaedia, — which is a
historical romance, having Cyrus the Great as its hero, and
intended to set forth the author's ideal of a state and a
military leader, — Xenophon composed several political
essays, an essay on hunting, on horsemanship, etc., — the
earliest specimens of this branch of literature.

The following passages from the translation by H. G. Da-
kyns are used by permission of the Macmillan Company.


From the Memorabilia, Book I. iv. §§ 7-19.

Socrates. Well, and doubtless you feel to have a
spark of wisdom yourself ?

Aristodemus, Put your questions, and I will an-

Socrates. And yet you imagine that elsewhere no
spark of wisdom is to be found? And that, too,
when you know that you have in your body a tiny
fragment only of the mighty earth, a little drop of the
great waters, and of the other elements, vast in their
extent, you got, I presume, a particle of each towards
the compacting of your bodily frame ? Mind alone,


it would seem, whicli is nowhere to be found, you had
the lucky chance to snatch up and make off with, you
cannot tell how. And these things around and about
us, enormous in size, infinite in number, owe their
orderly arrangement, as you suppose, to some vacuity
of wit?

Aristodemus. It may be, for my eyes fail to see
the master agents of these, as one sees the fabricators
of things produced on earth.

Socrates. No more do you see your own soul, which
is the master agent of your body ; so that, as far as
that goes, you may maintain, if you like, that you do
nothing with intelligence, but everything by chance.

At this point Aristodemus : I assure you, Socrates,
that I do not disdain the Divine power. On the con-
trary, my belief is that the Divinity is too grand to
need any service which I could render.
^^ocrates. But the grander that power is, which
deigns to tend and wait upon you, the more you are
called upon to honor it.

Aristodemus. Be well assured, if I could believe
the gods take thought at all for men, I would not
neglect them.

Socrates. How can you suppose that they do not
so take thought? Who, in the first place, gave to
man alone of living creatures his erect posture, ena-
bling him to see farther in front of him and to con-
template more freely the height above, and to be less
subject to distress than other creatures endowed like
himself with eyes and ears and mouth. Consider
next how they gave to the beast of the field feet as a
means of progression only, but to man they gave in
addition hands — those hands which have achieved
so much to raise us in the scale of happiness above all


animals. Did they not make the tongue also ? which
belongs indeed alike to man and beast, but in man
they fashioned it so as to play on different parts of the
mouth at different times, whereby we can produce
articulate speech, and have a code of signals to express
our every want to one another. Nor did it content I
the Godhead merely to watch over the interests of
man's body. What is of far higher import, He im-
planted, in man the noblest and most excellent type of
soul. For what other creature, to begin with, has a
soul to appreciate the existence of the Gods who have
arranged this grand and beauteous universe ? What
other tribe of animals save man can render service to
the gods ? How apt is the spirit of man to take pre-
cautions against hunger and thirst, cold and heat, to
alleviate disease and foster strength I how suited to
labor with a view to learning ! how capable of garner-
ing in the storehouse of his memory all that he has
heard or seen or understood ! Is it not most evident
to you that by the side of other animals men live and
move a race of gods — - by nature excellent, in beauty
of body and of soul supreme? For, mark you, had
a creature of man's wit been encased in the body of
an ox, he would have been powerless to carry out his
wishes, just as the possession of hands divorced from
human wit is profitless. And then you come, you who
have obtained these two most precious attributes, and
give it as your opinion that the gods take no thought
or care for you. Why, what will you have them to
do, that you may believe and be persuaded that you
too are in their thoughts ?

Aristodemus. When they treat me as you tell us they
treat you, and send me counsellors to warn me what I
am to do and what abstain from doing, I will believe.


Socrates. Send you counsellors ! Come now, what
when the people of Athens make inquiry by oracle,
and the Gods' answer comes ? Are you not an Athe-
nian ? Think you not that to you also the answer is
given ? What when they send portents to forewarn
the states of Hellas ? or to all mankind ? Are you
not a man ? a Hellene ? Are not these intended for
you also ? Can it be that you alone are excepted as
a single instance of Divine neglect ? Again, do you
suppose that the Gods could have implanted in the
heart of man the belief in their capacity to work him
weal or woe had they not the power ? Would not
men have discovered the imposture in all this lapse
ofjtimel,. Do you not perceive that the wisest and
most perdurable of human institutions — be they
cities or tribes of men — are ever the most God-fear-
ing ; and in the individual man the riper his age and

'■ judgment, the deeper his religiousness? Ah, my
good sir (he broke forth), lay to heart and under-
stand that even as your own mind within you can
turn and dispose of your body as it lists, so ought we
to think that the wisdom which abides within the uni-
versal frame does so dispose of all things as it finds
agreeable to itself; for hardly may it be that your
eye is able to range over many a league, but that the
eye of God is powerless to embrace all things at a
glance ; or that to your soul it is given to dwell in
thought on matters here, or far away in Egypt, or in
Sicily, but that the wisdom and thought of God is not
sufficient to include all things at one instant under

JJis care. If only you would copy your own behavior
where human beings are concerned ! It is by acts of
service and of kindness that you discover which of
your fellows are willing to requite you in kind. It is


by taking another into your counsel that you arrive
at the secret of his wisdom. If, on like principle,
you will but make trial of the gods by acts of service,
whether they will choose to give you counsel in mat-
ters obscure to mortal vision, you shall discover the
nature and the greatness of Godhead to be such that
they are able at once to see all things, and to hear all
things, and to be present everywhere, nor does the
least thing escape their watchful care.

To my mind the effect of words like these was to
cause those about him to hold aloof from unholiness,
baseness, and injustice, not only whilst they were seen
of men, but even in the solitary place, since they must
believe that no part of their conduct could escape the
eye of Heaven.



From the Memorabilia, Book II. i. §§ 22-34.

" When Heracles was emerging from boyhood into
the bloom of youth, having reached that season in
which the young man, now standing upon the verge
of independence, shows plainly whether he will enter
upon the path of virtue or of vice, he went forth into
a quiet place, and sat debating with himself which of

Online LibraryJohn Henry WrightMasterpieces of Greek literature; Homer: Tyrtaeus: Archilochus: Callistratus: Alcaeus: Sappho: Anacreon: Pindar: Aeschylus: Sophocles: Euripides Aristophanes: Herodotus: Thucydides: Xenophon: Plato: Theocritus: Lucian, with biographical sketches and notes; → online text (page 22 of 29)