Plutarch's lives : in six volumes : translated from the Greek (Volume 2) online

. (page 12 of 42)
Online LibraryPlutarchPlutarch's lives : in six volumes : translated from the Greek (Volume 2) → online text (page 12 of 42)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

ifle of Coos, and got intelligence there, that Mindarus,
the Spartan Admiral, was tailed with his whole army
into the Hellefpont, in purfuit of the Athenians. There-
upon he made hafle to fuccour the Athenian command-
ers, and by good fortune arrived with eighteen galleys
at a critical time. For both the fleets having engaged
near Abydos, the fight between them had lafted from
morning till night, the one fide having the advantage
on the right wing, and the other on the left. Upon
his firft appearance, both fides conceived a falfe opinion
of the end of his coming, for the enemy was encouraged
and the Athenians terrified. But Alcibiades fuddenly ad-
vanced the Athenian flag in the Admiral's fhip, and with
great fury fell upon the Peloponnefians, who had then the
advantage, and were in the purfuit. He focn put
them to flight and followed them fo clofe, that he
forced them on more, broke their fhips in pieces, and
flew the men who endeavoured to fave themfelves by
fwimming ; although Pharnabazus was come down to
their ailiftance by land, and did what he could to cover
the mips as they lay under the (bore. In fine, the
Athenians having taken thirty of the enemies fhips, and
recovered ail their own, erected a trophy. After the
gaining of fo glorious a victory, his vanity made him
affect to fhew himfelf to Tifaphernes, and having fur-
nifhed himfelf with gifts and prefents, and an equipage
fui table to ib great a General, he fet forward towards
him. But the thing did not fucceed as he had ima-
gined ; for Tifaphernes having been long fufpected by
the Lacedaemonians, and being afraid of falling into dr
grace with his King upon that account, thought that
Alcibiades arrived very opportunely and immediately
caufedhim to be feized, and fent away prifoner to Sar-
dis ; thinking by this act of injuftice to clear himfelf
from former imputations. But about thirty days after
Alcibiades efcaped from his keepers, and having got a
horfe, fled to Clazomene, where he accufed Tifaphernes,
as confenting to his efcape. From thence he failed to-
the Athenian camp, and being informed there that Min-

A L C I B I A D E S, 127

darus and Pharnabazus were together at Cyzicum> he
made a fpeech to the foldiers, fhowing them that it was
neceiTary to attack the enemies both by fea and land,
nay even to force them in their fortifications ; for unlefs
they gained a compleat victory, they would foon be in
v/ant of neceflary provifions for their fubfiftance. As
foon as ever they were all embarked, he hafted to Pro-
conefus, and there gave command to place all the fmaller
veflels in the midft of the navy, and to take all poffible
care that the enemy might have no notice of his com-
ing ; and a great ftorm of rain, accompanied with thun-
der and darknefs, which happened at the fame time,
contributed much to the concealing of his defign ; fo
that it was not only undi {covered by the enemy, but
the Athenians themfelves were ignorant of it ; for he had
fuddenly commanded them on board, and fet fail before
they were aware. As foon as the darknefs was
over, the Peloponnefian fleet appeared in fight, riding at
anchor before the port of Cyzicum. Alcibiades, fearing
left, if they difcovered the number of his mips, they
might endeavour to fave themfelves by land, command-
ed the reft of the captains to flacken their fails, and
follow after him flowly ; whilft he advancing with forty
mips, mowed himfelf to the enemy, and provoked
them to fight. The enemy being deceived in their
number, defpifed them, and fuppofmg they were to
contend with thofe only, advanced, and began the fight.
But as foon as they were engaged, they perceived the
other part of the fleet coming down upon them, at
which they were fo terrified, that they fled immediately.
Upon that, Alcibiades, with twenty of his beft fhips,
breaking through the midft of them, haftened to the
more, and fuddenly making a defcent, purfued thofe
who abandoned their ihips and fled to land, and made
a great {laughter of them. Mindarus and Pharnabazus
coming to their fuccour, v/ere utterly defeated. Min-
darus was flain upon the place, fighting valiantly, but
Pharnabazus faved himfelf by flight. The Athenians
flew great numbers of their enemies, won much fpoil,
and took all their mips. They alfb made themfelves


I 2 8 The LIFE of

matters of Cyzicum, it being deferred by Pharnabazus,
and put to death all the Peloponnefians that were there ;
and thereby not only fecured to themfelves the Helle-
Ipont, but entirely drove the Lacedaemonians out of all
the other feas. They intercepted alfo fome letters writ-
ten to the Ephori, which gave an account of this fatal
overthrow, after their fhort Laconick manner : " Our hopes
" are at an end Mindarus is flain ; the foldiers are ftarv-
" ing ; and we know not what meafures to take." The fol-
diers of Alcibiades were fo elated and arrogant upon this
luccefs, that looking on themfelves as invincible, they
difdained to mix with the other foldiers, who had been
often overcome. For it happened not long before, that
Thrafyllushad received a great defeat near Ephefus; and
upon, that occafion the Ephefians erected (7) a brazen
trophy to the difgrace of the Athenians. The foldiers of
Alcibiades reproached thofe who were under the com-
mand of Thrafyllus, with this misfortune, at the fame
time magnifying themfelves and their own commander ;
and it went fo far at laft, that they would not perform
their exercifes with them, nor lodge in the fame quarters.
But foon after, when Pharnabazus, with a great ftrength
of horfe and foot, fell upon the foldiers of Thrafyllus,
as they were laying wafte the territory of the Abydenians
Alcibiades coming to their aid, routed Pharnabazus, and,
together with Thrafyllus, purfued him till it was night.
Then their troops united, and returned together to the
camp, rejoicing and congratulating one another. The
next day he erected a trophy, and then proceeded to lay
wafte with fire and fword the whole province which was
under Pharnabazus, where none durfl appear to oppofe
him. He took prifoners feveral priefts and priefteffes,
but releafed them without ranfom. He prepared to
make war next upon the Chalcedonians, who had revolted
from the Athenians, and had received a Lacedaemonian
Governor and garrifon. But having intelligence that


(7) Plutarch fays this brazen which decaying by degrees, thofe
trophy was erected to the difgrace monuments of hoflility perilhed
of the Athenians, becaufe till then and were forgotten, The Ephe-
trophies were always of wood, fians therefore to the immortal in-


they had removed their corn and cattle out of the fields,
and had fent all to the Bithynians, who were their friends,
he drew down his army to the frontier of the Bithynians,
and then fent a herald to complain of this procedure. The
Bithynians being terrified at his approach, delivered up to
him the whole booty, and entered into an alliance with
him. Afterwards he proceeded to the fiegeofChalcedon,
and enclofed it with a wall from fea to lea. Pharnabazus
advanced with his forces to raife the fiege, and Hippo-
crates, the Governor of the town, at the fame time ga-
thering together all the flrength he had, made a faJiy
upon the Athenians. Alcibiades divided his army fo, as
to engage them both at once, and not only forced
Pharnabazus to a difhonourable flight, but flew Hippo-
crates, and a great number of the ibldiers which were
with him. After this he failed into the Hellefpont, in
order to raife fupplies of money, and took the city of
Selybria where through his precipitancy, he expoied
himfelf to great danger. For fome within the town had
undertaken to betray it into his hands, and by agree-
ment were to give him a fignal by a lighted torch about
midnight. But one of the confpirators beginning to
repent of the defign, the reft, for fear of being difco-
vered, were obliged to give the fignal before the ap-
pointed hour. Alcibiades, as foon as he faw the torch
lifted up in the air, though his army was not in readi-
nefs to march, ran inftantly towards the walls, taking
with him about thirty men only, and commanding the
reft of the army to follow him with all poflible dili-
gence. When he came thither, he found the gate opened
for him, and entered with his thirty men, and about
twenty more of the light-armed foldiers, who were by
this time come up to them. They were no fooner got
into the city, but he perceived the Selybrians in arms
coming down upon him ; fo that there was no hope of
efcaping if he ftaid to receive them ; and on the other
tide having been always fuccefsful till that day, where-


famy of the Athenians, made their Alcibiades's foldiers reproached

trophies of brafs ; and it was this thofe of Thrafyllus. Diodor.

mortifying novelty, with which lib. 13.

VOL. II. I (S) Thi,

i 3 o The L 1 F E of

ever he commanded his glory would not iuffer him to
fly. But on the fudden he thought of this device : he
commanded filence by the found of a trumpet, and then
ordered one of his men to make proclamation, that the
Selybrians fhould not take arms againfl the Athenians.
This cooled fuch of the inhabitants as were fiercefl for
the fight, for they iuppofed that all their enemies were
got within the walls ; and it raifed the hopes of others
who were difpofed to an accommodation. Whilft they
were parlying, and proportions were making on one
fide and the other Alcibiades's whole army came up to
the town. But then conjecturing rightly that the Sely-
brians were inclined to peace, and fearing left the city
might be facked by the Thracians (who came in great
numbers to his army to ferve as volunteers, out of their
particular kindnefs and refpeft for him) he commanded
them all to retreat without the walls. And upon the
fubmillion of the Selybrians, he faved them from being
pillaged ; and only taking of them a mm of money,
and placing an Athenian garrifon in the town, he de

The Athenian captains who befieged Chalcedon, con-
cluded a treaty with Pharnabazus upon thefe conditions ;
That he mould give them a fum of money ; that the
Chalcedonians mould return to the fubjedtion of Athens ;
and that the Athenians mould make no inroad into
the province of which Pharnabazus was governor ;
and Pharnabazus was alib to provide fafe conduct for
the Athenian ambaifadors to the King of Perfia. Af-
terwards when Alcibiades returned thither, Pharnabazus
required that he alfo mould be fworn to the treaty ; but
he refufed it, unlefs Pharnabazus would fwear firft.
When the treaty was confirmed by oath on both fides,
Alcibiades marched againft the Byzantines who had re-
vo'ted from the Athenians, and drew a line of circum-
vallation about the city. But Anaxilaus and Lycurgus,
together with forne others, having undertaken to betray
the city to him, upon his engagement to preferve the
lives and goods of the inhabitants, he caufed a report
to be fpread, that by reafon of fome unexpected com-

A L C I B I A D E S. 131

motion in Ionia, he mould be obliged to raife the fiege.
And accordingly that day he departed with his whole
fleet ; but returning the fame night, he went' afoore with
all his heavy armed foldiers, and filently and undifcover-
ed marched up to the walls. At the fame time his fhips
were rowed into the haven, where they began a furious
attack with loud fhouts and outcries. The Byzantines
being aftonifhed at this unexpected affault, and being uni-
verfally engaged in defence of their port and (hipping,
gave opportunity to thofe who favoured the Athenians,
fecurely to receive Alcibiades into the city. Yet the en-
terprize was not accomplifhed without fighting ; for the
Peloponnefians, Boeotians, and Megarenfians who were in
Byzantium, not only repulfed thofe who came out of the
fhips, and forced them on board again, but hearing that
the Athenians were entered on the other fide, they drew
up in order, and went to meet them. But Alcibiades
gained the vidory, after a (harp engagement, wherein he
himfelfhad the command of the right-wing, "andThera-
menes of the left. Thofe of the enemy who furvived the
battle were made prifoners, to the number of about three
hundred. After the battle not one of the Byzantines was
flain, or driven out of the city, according to the terms up-
on which the city was put into his hands, that they mould
receive no injury in their perfons or eftates. Therefore
when Anaxilaus was afterwards accufed at Lacedaemon
for this treafon, he neither difowned nor was afhamed of the
action : for he urged, " that he was not a Lacedaemonian
" but a Byzantine ; and that he faw not Sparta, but By-
** zantium, in extreme danger ; the city being fb ftrait-
" ly begirt, that it was not poflible to bring in any new
" provifions, and the Peloponnefians and Boeotians, who
'" were in garrifon, devouring their old ftores, while the
*' Byzantines with their wives and children were ready
"toftarve; that he had not betrayed his country to
" enemies, but had delivered it from the calamities of
" war ; wherein he had followed the example of the mofl
*' worthy Lacedaemonians, who efleemed nothing to be
*' honourable and juft, but what was profitable for their
" country.'* . The Lacedaemonians, upon hearing his de-

I 2 fence,

132- Tbe LIFE of

fence, were (b well pleafed, that they difcharged all
that were accufed.

And now Alcibiades being, defirous to fee his native
country again, or rather to be feen by his fellow-citi-
zens after gaining fo many victories for them, fet fail
for Athens, his (hips being adorned on every fide with
many fhields and other fpoils. He brought with him
likewife a great number of galleys taken from the enemy,
and the enfigns and ornaments of many others which he
had funk and deftroyed ; all of them together amounting
to two hundred. But there is little credit to be given
to what is related by Duris the Samian, (who pretends
to be a defcendant of Alcibiades} that Chryfogonus^
who had won the prize at the Pythian games, played
upon his flute as the galleys palled on, whilft the oars
kept time with the muiick ^ and that Callipides the tra-
gedian, attired in his bufkins, his purple, robes and
other ornaments which he ufed in the theatre, excited
thofe who laboured at the oars ; and that the Admiral
galley entered into the port with a purple fail. For
thefe. things are fuch kind of extravagancies as are wont
to follow a debauch ; and neither Theopompus, nor Epho-
rus, nor Xenophon mention them. Nor indeed it is cre-
dible, that one who returned from fo long an exile,
and fuch a variety of misfortunes, mould behave in fo
wanton and infolent a manner. On the contrary, he en-
tered the harbour with fear, nor would he aftewards
venture to go on fhore, till {landing on the deck, he faw
Eitryptolemus his nephew, and others of his friends and
acquaintance, who were ready to receive him, and in
vited him to land. As foon as he was landed, the
multitnde, who came out to meet him, difdained to be-
ftow a look on any of the other captains, but thronged
about Alcibiades, fainted him, and followed him with
loud acclamations. They who could prefs near him ?
crowned him with garlands, and they who could not
come up fo clofe^ yet. {laid to view him at a diftance,


(8) This Critias was tincfe to wrote a treatifeconcerning the re-
Plato's mother, and afterwards publick o : Sparta, and fome eie-
one of the thirty trrafits, He- gies. Athenseus has given us a


A L C I B I A D E S. 133

and the old men pointed him out, and mowed him to
the young ones. Neverthelefs this publick joy was
mixed with fome tears, and the prefent happinefs was
allayed by the remembrance of all the miferies they had
endured. They reflected, that they could not have fo
unfortunately mifcarried in Sicily, or have been difap-
pointedin any of thofe things which they had ever hoped
for, if they had left the management of their affairs, and
the command of their forces, to Alcibiades ; fmce upon
his undertaking the adminiftration, when they were in
.a manner ruined at fea, and could fcarce defend the fu-
burbs of their city by land, and at the fame time were
miferably diftraded with inteftine factions, he had raifed
them from this low and deplorable condition, and had
not only reftored them to their ancient dominion of the
fea, but had alfb made them every where vi'Storious over
their enemies by land.

The decree for recalling him from his banifhment
had been pafled by the people, at the requeft of (8) Cri-
tias the fon of Callsefchrus, as appears by his elegies, in
which he puts Alcibiades in mind of this fervice.

Thee fi.rft from banijhment my voice required;
The ft ate but granted what the friend defired.

The people being fummoned to an afTembly, Alcibiades
came in amongft them, and iirft bewailed and lamented
his own fufferings, and gently and modeftly complained
of their uiage, imputing all to his hard fortune, and
ibme ill genius that attended him. Then he di {courted
at large of the defigns and hopes of their enemies, but
withal exhorted them to take courage. The people
crowned him with crowns of gold, and created him
General both at land and fea with abfolute power.
They alfb made a decree, that his eflate mould be re-
ftored to him, and that the Eumolpides and the holy he-
ralds mould again abfolve him from the curfes which
they had folemnly pronounced againfl him by a


pretty large fragment of one of his qualified for fuch fort of compofi-
elegies, which is fufficicnt to make tions. This is the Critias that
us fenfible that he vras very well Tlato introduces in his dialogues.

I 3 (9) This


decree of the people. Which when all the reft obeyed,
Theodoras the High-prieft excufed himfelf; "For," faid
he, "I never denounced any execration againft him, if he
"has done nothing againft the common wealth."

But notwithstanding the affairs of Alcibiades fricceeded
fo profperoufly, ard fo much to his glory, yet many
were ftiil much difturbed, and looked upon the time of
his arrival to be ominous. For on the fame day that
he came into the port, (9) the feaft of the Goddefs
Minerva, which they call the Plynteria, v/as kept. It
is the twenty-fifth day of Thargelion [Mayj, when the
Praxiergides folemnize thole myfteries which are not to
be revealed, taking all the ornaments from off her
image, and keeping the image itfelf (i) clofe covered.
Hence it is that the Athenians efleem this day moft in-
aufpicicus, and never undertake any thing of import-
,ance upon it: and therefore they imagined, that the
Goddefs did not receive Alcibiades gracioufly and propi-
tioufly, but hid her face from him, and rejected him.
Notwithftanding which, every thing fucceeded accord-
ing to his \vifh, and an hundred galleys were fitted out,
and ready to fail ; but an honourable zeal detained him
till the celebration of the grand (2) myfteries. For,
fince the time that Decelea was fortified, the enemies
had made themfelves mafters of all the roads which lead
from Athens to Eleufis, and therefore the prcceflion be-
jng of neceility to go by fea, could not be performed
with due folernnity ; but the people were forced to omit
the facrifices, and dances, and other ceremonies, which
were ufed to be performed in the way called " holy," when
the ftatue of Bacchus was carried in proceflion to Eleufis.
Alcibiades therefore judged it would be a glorious action,
whereby he mould do honour to the Gods, and gain


(9) This was a feftival among the moft unlucky. Their temples

the Athenians annually celebrated likewife were at that time en-

in honour of" Minerva! At this compafled about with a cord, to

feftival they ftripped the flatue of denote that they were fhut up, as

theGoddefs,andwafhedit,whence was cuftomary on all inaufpici-

jt was called Plynteria, fromorXt^w, ous days j and they carried dried

which fignifies " to wafh." That figs in proceflion, becaufe that

day was confidered as one of was the firft-fruit that was eaten


A L C I B I A D E S. 135

efteem with men^ if he reftored the ancient fplendor to
thefe rites, in conducing the proceflion again by land,
and protecting ^it with his army from the enemy. For
thereby he was fure, if Agis flood dill and did not op-
pofe him, it would very much diminifh and obfcure his
glory ; or otherwife that he mould engage in a holy
war in the cauie of the Gods, and in defence of the
moft facred and folemn ceremonies ; and this in the
fight of his country, where he mould have all his fel-
low-citizens witnefles of his valour. As foon as he
had refolved upon this defign, and had communicated
it to the Eumojpides, and other holy officers, he placed
centinels on the tops of the mountains, and at break of
day fent forth his fcouts. And then taking with him
the priefls, and confecrated perfons, and thofe who had
the charge of initiating others in the holy myfteries"
and encornpafling them with his foldiers, he conducted
them with great order and profound filence. This was an
auguft and venerable proceffion, wherein all, who did
not envy him, faid, " He performed at once the office of
" an High-prieft and of a General." The enemy durfl not
attempt any thing againfl them ; and thus he brought
them back in fafety to the city. Upon which as he
was exalted in his own thoughts, fo the opinion which
the people had of his conduct, was raited to that de-
gree, that they looked upon their armies as irrefiflible
and invincible while he commanded them. He fo won
upon the lower and meaner fort of the people, that they
paflionately defired he would take the fovereignty upon
him ; and fome of them made no difficulty to tell him fo,
and advifed him to put himfelf out of the reach of envy,
by abolifhing the laws and ordinances of the people, and
fuppreffing the pernicious loquacity of the orators, that
fo he might take upon him the management of affairs,


after acorns. (2) He means the myfteries of

(i) They dripped Minerva of Ceres and Proferpine. That lefti-

her habits and ornaments, in order vai continued for nine days ; and

to wafh or clean them, but that on the 6th they carried in pro-

ftie might not in the mean time ceflion to Eleufis the ftatue of

be expofed naked, they covered Bacchus, whom they fuppofed to

the itatue all over. be the forfof Jup::er and Ceres.

I 4 ( 3) This

We L I F E of

without fear of being called to an account. How far
his own inclinations led him to ufurp fovereign power,
is uncertain , bnt the moft considerable perions in the
city were fo much afraid of his defigns, that they haf-
tened his embarkation as much as poftible, granting
him liberty to chufe his own officers, and allowing him
all other things that he defired. Thereupon he fet fail
with a fleet of an hundred (hips, and arriving at Andros,
he there fought with and defeated, both the inhabitants,
and the Lacedaemonians, who afTifted them. But yet he
took not the city, which gave the firft occafion to his
enemies to form their accufations againft him. Cer-
tainly if ever any man was ruined by his own glory, it
was Alcibiades : for his continual fuccefs had begot fuch
an opinion of his courage and conduct, that if he failed
in any thing he undertook, it was imputed to his neg-
lect ; and no one would believe it was through want
of power : for they thought nothing was too hard for
him, if he went about it in good earneft. They ex-
pected alfo every day to hear news of the reducing of
Chios, and of the reft of Ionia, and grew impatient that
things were not effected as fall and as fuddenly as they
defired. They never confidered how extremely money
was wanting, and that being to make war with an enemy,
who had fupplies of all things from the King of Perfia,
Alcibiades was often forced to quit his camp in order to
procure money and provifions for the fubfiftence of his
foldiers. This it was which gave occafion for the laft
accufation which was brought againft him. For Lyfander
being fent by the Lacedsemonians with a commiflion to
be Admiral of their fleet, and being furniihed by Cyrus
with a great fum of money, gave every mariner four
Oboli a day, whereas before they had but three. Alci-
biades could hardly allow his men three Oboli, and there-
fore was conftrained to go into Caria to furnifh himfelf
with money. He left the care of the fleet, in his ab-
fence, (3) to Antiochus, an experienced feaman, but ram
and i nconfiderate, who had exprefs orders from Alci-

(3) This is the Antiochus who had obtained his friendfirip by


A L C I B I A D E S. , 37

Online LibraryPlutarchPlutarch's lives : in six volumes : translated from the Greek (Volume 2) → online text (page 12 of 42)