46 Plutarch.

Plutarch's Lives Volume III online

. (page 46 of 55)
Online Library46 PlutarchPlutarch's Lives Volume III → online text (page 46 of 55)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

bodies and with much confusion. These first troops were defeated, and
Plutarchus himself took to flight. Some of the enemy now came close up
to the rampart of the Athenian camp, and began to tear down the
stakes of which it was formed as though they were already completely

At this crisis the sacrifices proved favourable, and the Athenian
infantry, sallying out of their camp, routed and overthrew all whom
they found near their ramparts. Phokion now ordered his main body to
remain in reserve, in order to give those who had been scattered in
the former skirmish a point to rally on, while he himself, with some
picked men, charged the enemy. A severe battle now took place, in
which all exerted themselves with the most reckless bravery. Thallus,
the son of Kineas, and Glaukus, the son of Polymedes, who fought by
the side of the general himself, were especially distinguished.
Kleophanes also did most excellent service on this occasion, for he
rallied the scattered horsemen, called upon them to help their general
in his utmost need, and prevailed upon them to return and complete the
victory which the infantry had gained. After this, Phokion banished
Plutarchus from Eretria, and captured a fort named Zaretra, which
commanded the narrowest part of the island. He set free all the Greek
captives, because he feared that the Athenian orators might urge the
people in their anger to treat them with undue severity.

XIV. After Phokion had accomplished this, he sailed away to Athens;
and the allies soon found cause to wish for his goodness and justice,
while the Athenians soon learned to value his courage and military
skill. Molossus, his successor, managed the war so unsuccessfully that
he himself was made a prisoner by the enemy. Shortly afterwards
Philip, full of great designs, proceeded with all his army to the
Hellespont, in order to take Perinthus, Byzantium, and the Chersonese
at one blow. The Athenians were eager to help these cities, and the
orators succeeded in getting Chares sent thither in command of an
army. However, when he arrived he effected nothing of importance, for
the cities would not admit his troops within their walls, and viewed
him with suspicion, so that he was reduced to roaming about the
country, exacting contributions of money from the allies of Athens,
and regarded with contempt by the enemy. Upon this the people,
exasperated by the speeches of the orators, became much enraged, and
regretted that they had sent any assistance to the people of
Byzantium: but Phokion rose, and said that they ought not be angry
with their allies for not trusting them, but with their generals for
not being trustworthy. "These men," he remarked, "make you feared even
by those who cannot be saved without your assistance."

The Athenians were much moved by these words. They repented of their
anger, and ordered Phokion himself to take a second armament and
proceed to the assistance of their allies on the Hellespont. The
reputation of Phokion had been very great even before this, but now,
since Leon, the leading man in Byzantium, who had been a
fellow-student in the Academy with Phokion, made himself answerable
for his good faith, the Byzantines would not permit him to carry out
his intention of encamping outside their walls, but opened their gates
and received the Athenians into their houses. Phokion's men proved not
only irreproachable in their conduct, but repaid the confidence which
had been shown them by fighting on all occasions with the utmost
bravery. Thus was Philip this time driven from the Hellespont, and
regarded with contempt as a coward and a runaway, while Phokion took
several of his ships, recovered some towns which had received
Macedonian garrisons, and landed at various points on the coast to
ravage and overrun the country, until at last he was wounded by the
enemy and forced to return home.

XV. Once when the people of Megara secretly invited Phokion to come to
their aid, as he was afraid that the Bœotians might hear of his
intentions and cut off the proposed reinforcements, he called a
meeting of the Assembly at daybreak, laid the Megarian proposals
before the Athenians, and as soon as a decree had been passed to aid
them, ordered the trumpet to sound, bade his troops leave the Assembly
and get under arms at once, and led them straightway to Megara. The
people of Megara gladly welcomed him, and he not only fortified Nisæa,
but built two long walls from the city to its seaport, thus joining
Megara to the sea in such a fashion that the city no longer feared
its enemies by land, and cheerfully threw in its lot with the

XVI. When Philip was viewed with hostility by every state in Greece,
and other generals had been elected in Phokion's absence to make war
against him, Phokion, when he returned from his tour among the
islands, advised them to make peace, and come to terms with Philip,
who on his part was quite willing to do so, and feared to go to war.
On this occasion a pettifogging Athenian, who spent all his time in
the law courts, opposed Phokion, and said, "Do you dare, Phokion, to
advise the Athenians to turn back when they have arms already in their
hands?" "Yes, I do," answered he, "and that too although I know that
in time of war I shall be your master, and in time of peace you will
be mine." As Phokion did not succeed, but Demosthenes carried his
point, and counselled the Athenians to fight as far as possible from
Attica, he said to him: "My good sir, let us not consider where we are
to fight, but how we can win the victory. If we are victorious, the
war will be kept at a distance, but all the horrors of war always
press closely upon the vanquished." After the defeat,[629] the noisy
revolutionary party dragged Charidemus to the tribune, and bade him
act as general. All the more respectable citizens were much alarmed at
this. They appealed to the council of the Areopagus to aid them,
addressed the people with tears and entreaties, and prevailed upon
them to place the city under the charge of Phokion. Phokion now
considered it necessary to submit with a good grace to the pleasure of
Philip, and when Demades moved that Athens should share the general
peace and take part in the congress of the Greek states, Phokion
objected to the motion before it was known what Philip wished the
Greeks to do. His opposition was fruitless, because of the critical
state of affairs; but when afterwards he saw the Athenians bitterly
repenting of what they had done, because they were obliged to furnish
Philip with ships of war and cavalry, he said: "It was because I
feared this that I opposed the motion of Demades: but now that you
have passed that motion you must not be grieved and downcast, but
remember that your ancestors were sometimes independent and sometimes
subject to others, but that they acted honourably in either case, and
saved both their city and the whole of Greece." On the death of Philip
he opposed the wish of the Athenians to hold a festival[630] because
of the good news: for he said that it was an unworthy thing for them
to rejoice, because the army which had defeated them at Chæronea had
been weakened by the loss of only one man.

XVII. When Demosthenes spoke abusively of Alexander, who was even then
at the gates of Thebes, Phokion said to him, in the words of Homer,

"'Rash man, forbear to rouse the angry chief,'

who is also a man of unbounded ambition. When he has kindled such a
terrible conflagration close by, why do you wish our city to fan the
flame? I, however, will not permit these men to ruin us, even though
they wish it, for that is why I have undertaken the office of

After Thebes was destroyed, Alexander demanded Demosthenes and his
party, with Lykurgus, Hypereides, and Charidenus to be delivered up to
him. The whole assembly, on hearing this proposal, cast its eyes upon
Phokion, and, after calling upon him repeatedly by name, induced him
to rise. Placing by his side his most beloved and trusted friend, he
said:[631] "These men have brought the city to such a pass, that if
any one were to demand that Nikokles here should be delivered up to
him, I should advise you to give him up. For my own part, I should
account it a happy thing to die on behalf of all of you. I feel pity
also, men of Athens," said he, "for those Thebans who have fled
hither for refuge; but it is enough that Greece should have to mourn
for the loss of Thebes. It is better then, on behalf of both the
Thebans and ourselves, to deprecate the wrath of our conqueror rather
than to oppose him."

We are told that when the decree refusing to give up the persons
demanded was presented to Alexander, he flung it from him and refused
to listen to the envoys; but he received a second embassy headed by
Phokion, because he was told by the older Macedonians that his father
had always treated him with great respect. He not only conversed with
Phokion, and heard his petition, but even asked his advice. Phokion
advised him, if he desired quiet, to give up war; and if he wished for
glory, to turn his arms against the Persians, and leave the Greeks
unmolested. Phokion conversed much with Alexander, and, as he had
formed a shrewd estimate of his character, was so happy in his remarks
that he entirely appeased his anger, and even led him to say that the
Athenians must watch the progress of events with care, since, if
anything were to happen to him, it would be their duty to take the
lead in Greece. Alexander singled out Phokion in a special manner as
his guest and friend, and treated him with a degree of respect which
he showed to few even of his own companions. The historian Douris
tells us in confirmation of this that after Alexander had conquered
Darius, and had become a great man, he omitted the usual words of
greeting from all his letters, except from those which he wrote to
Phokion, addressing him alone as he addressed Antipater (his viceroy),
with the word 'Hail.' This is also recorded by the historian Chares.

XVIII. With regard to money matters, all writers agree in saying that
Alexander sent Phokion a hundred talents as a present. When this money
arrived at Athens Phokion enquired of those who brought it why
Alexander should give all this money to him alone, when there were so
many other citizens in Athens? They answered, "Because he thinks that
you alone are a good and honourable man." "Then," said Phokion, "let
him allow me still to be thought so, and to remain so." When the men
who brought the treasure followed him into his house, and saw its
frugal arrangements, and his wife making bread, while Phokion with his
own hands drew water from the well and washed their feet, they pressed
the money upon him yet more earnestly, and expressed their
disappointment at his refusal, saying that it was a shameful thing for
a friend of King Alexander to live so poorly. Phokion, seeing a poor
old man walk by clad in a ragged cloak, asked them whether they
thought him to be a worse man than that. They begged him not to say
such things, but he answered. "And yet that man lives on slenderer
means than mine, and finds that they suffice him. Moreover," he
continued, "if I received such a mass of gold and did not use it, I
should reap no advantage from it, while, if I did use it, I should
destroy both my own character and that of the giver." So the treasure
was sent back from Athens, and proved that the man who did not need
such a sum was richer than he who offered it. As Alexander was
displeased, and wrote to Phokion saying that he did not regard as his
friends those who asked him for nothing, Phokion did not even then ask
for money, but begged for the release of Echekrates the sophist,
Athenodorus of Imbros, and of two Rhodians, Demaratus and Sparton, who
had been arrested, and were imprisoned at Sardis. Alexander
immediately set these men at liberty, and sending Kraterus to
Macedonia bade him hand over to Phokion whichever he might choose of
the Asiatic cities of Kius, Gergithus, Mylassa, and Elæa; showing all
the more eagerness to make him a present because he was angry at his
former refusal. Phokion however would not take them, and Alexander
shortly afterwards died. The house of Phokion may be seen at the
present day in Melite.[632] It is adorned with plates of copper, but
otherwise is very plain and simple.

XIX. We have no information about Phokion's first wife, except that
she was the sister of Kephisodotus the modeller in clay. His second
wife was no less renowned in Athens for her simplicity of life then
was Phokion himself for his goodness. Once when the Athenians were
witnessing a new play, the actor who was to play the part of the king
demanded from the choragus a large troop of richly-attired attendants,
and, as he did not obtain them, refused to appear upon the stage, and
kept the audience waiting: At last Melanthius, the choragus, shoved
him on to the stage, exclaiming. "Do you not see the wife of Phokion
there, who always goes about with only one maidservant to wait upon
her, and are you going to give yourself ridiculous airs and lead our
wives into extravagance?" These words were heard by the audience, and
were received with great cheering and applause. Once, when an Ionian
lady was displaying a coronet and necklace of gold and precious stones
to her, she said, "My only ornament is that this is the twentieth year
that Phokion has been elected general by the Athenians."

XX. As his son Phokus wished to contend in the games at the
Panathenaic Festival, he entered him for the horse race,[633] not
because he cared about his winning the prize, but because he thought
that the youth, who was addicted to wine and of licentious life, would
be benefited by the strict training and exercise which he would have
to undergo. The young man won the race, and was invited by many of his
friends to dine with them to celebrate his victory. Phokion excused
him to all but one, with whom he permitted him to dine in honour of
his success. When, however, he came to the dinner and saw footpans
filled with wine and aromatic herbs offered to the guests as they
entered to wash their feet in, he turned to his son, and said,
"Phokus, why do you not prevent your friend from spoiling your
victory." As he wished to remove his son altogether from the influence
of Athenian life he took him to Lacedæmon, and placed him with the
young men who were undergoing the Spartan training there. The
Athenians were vexed at this, because Phokion appeared to despise and
undervalue the institutions of his own country. Once Demades said to
him "Phokion, why should we not advise the Athenians to adopt the
Spartan constitution; if you bid me, I am quite willing to make a
speech and bring forward a motion in the assembly for doing so."
"Indeed," answered Phokion "it would suit a man who is scented like
you, and wears so rich a robe, to talk about plain Spartan fare and
Lykurgus to the Athenians!"

XXI. When Alexander wrote to the Athenians ordering them to send ships
of war to him, some of the orators were against doing so, and the
senate asked Phokion to speak. "I say," remarked he, "that we ought
either to conquer, or else to keep on good terms with our conqueror."
"When Pytheas first began to make speeches, as he was even then fluent
and impudent, Phokion said, "Will you not be silent, and remember that
you are only a newly-bought servant of the people." When Harpalus fled
from Asia with a large amount of treasure and came to Athens, where
all the venal politicians paid great court to him, he gave them but a
very small part of his hoard, but sent a present of seven hundred
talents to Phokion, placing all his other property and his person in
his hands. Phokion returned a rough answer, telling Harpalus that if
he continued corrupting the Athenians he would sorely repent of it.
For the moment Harpalus desisted from his offers, but shortly
afterwards when the Athenians were met together in the assembly he
observed that those who had received his bribes all turned against him
and spoke ill of him, that they might not be suspected, while Phokion,
who had taken nothing from him, nevertheless showed some interest in
his safety as well as in the welfare of Athens. Harpalus now was
induced to pay his court to him a second time, but after assailing him
on all sides found that he was impregnable by bribes. However Harpalus
made a friend and companion of his son-in-law Charikles, who entirely
lost his reputation in consequence, as Harpalus entrusted him with the
entire management of his affairs.

XXII. Moreover, upon the death of Pythionike, the courtezan, whose
lover Harpalus had been, and who had borne him a daughter, as he
desired to erect a very costly monument to her memory, he appointed
Charikles[634] to superintend the building of it. Charikles was mean
enough to accept this commission; and he incurred even more disgrace
from the appearance of the tomb when it was completed. It stands at
the present day in the precinct of Hermes, on the road from Athens to
Eleusis, and cannot have cost anything like thirty talents, which sum
is said to have been paid to Charikles by Harpalus for its
construction. Besides this, after his death, his daughter was adopted
by Charikles and Phokion, and received every attention from them.
When, however, Charikles was prosecuted for having taken a share of
the treasure of Harpalus,[635] and begged Phokion to come into court
and speak in his favour, Phokion refused, saying "Charikles, I chose
you to be my son-in-law in all honesty."

When Asklepiades, the son of Hipparchus, first brought the news of
Alexander's death to Athens, Demades advised the people not to believe
it. Such a corpse, he declared, must have been smelt throughout the
world. Phokion, seeing that the people were excited at the report,
endeavoured to soothe and pacify them. Upon this many rushed to the
tribune, and loudly declared that Asklepiades had brought true
tidings, and that Alexander was really dead. "If," replied Phokion,
"he is dead to-day, he will be dead to-morrow and the day after, so
that we may quietly, and with all the greater safety, take counsel as
to what we are to do."

XXIII. When Leosthenes plunged the city into the war[636] for the
liberation of Greece, as Phokion opposed him, he sneeringly asked him
what good he had done the city during the many years that he had been
general. "No small good," retorted Phokion, "I have caused the
Athenians to be buried at home in their own sepulchres." As Leosthenes
spoke in a boastful and confident manner before the public assembly,
Phokion said, "Your speeches, young man, are like cypress trees; they
are tall and stately, but they bear no fruit." When Hypereides rose
and asked Phokion when he would advise the Athenians to go to war;
"When," answered he, "I see young men willing to observe discipline,
the rich subscribing to the expenses, and the orators leaving off
embezzling the public funds." As many admired the force which
Leosthenes got together, and inquired of Phokion whether he thought
that sufficient preparations had been made, he answered, "Enough for
the short course; but I fear for Athens if the race of war is to be a
long one, since she has no reserves, either of money, ships, or men."
The events of the war bore out the justice of his remark; for at first
Leosthenes was elated by his great success, as he defeated the
Bœotians in a pitched battle, and drove Antipater into Lamia. The
Athenians were now full of hope, and did nothing but hold high
festival to welcome the good news, and offer sacrifices of
thanksgiving to the gods. Phokion, however, when asked whether he did
not wish that he had done all this, answered, "Certainly I do; but I
wish that quite the contrary policy had been adopted." Again, when
despatch after despatch kept arriving from the camp, announcing fresh
successes, he said, "I wonder when we shall leave off being

XXIV. After the death of Leosthenes, those who feared that, if Phokion
were made commander-in-chief, he would put an end to the war, suborned
an obscure person to rise in the assembly and say that, as a friend
and associate of Phokion, he should advise them to spare him, and keep
him safe, since they had no one else like him in Athens, and to send
Antiphilus to command the army. The Athenians approved of this advice,
but Phokion came forward and declared that he had never associated
with the man, or had any acquaintance with him. "From this day forth,
however," said he, "I regard you as my friend and companion, for you
have given advice which suits me." When the Athenians were eager to
invade Bœotia, he at first opposed them; and when some of his friends
told him that he would be put to death if he always thwarted the
Athenians, he answered, "I shall suffer death unjustly, if I tell them
what is to their advantage, but justly if I do wrong." When he saw
that they would not give up the project, but excitedly insisted on it,
he bade the herald proclaim that all Athenians who had arrived at
manhood[637] from sixty years and under, should take provisions for
five days and follow him to Bœotia at once. Upon this a great
disturbance took place, as the older citizens leaped to their feet,
and clamoured loudly. "There is nothing strange in the proclamation,"
said Phokion, "for I, who am eighty years of age, shall be with you as
your general." Thus he managed to quiet them, and induced them to give
up their intention."

XXV. As the seaboard of Attica was being plundered by Mikion, who had
landed at Rhamnus[638] with a large force of Macedonians and mercenary
soldiers, and was overrunning the country, Phokion led out the
Athenians to attack him. As men kept running up to him and pestering
him with advice, to seize this hill, to despatch his cavalry in that
direction, to make his attack in this other place, he said "Herakles,
how many generals I see, and how few soldiers." While he was arraying
his hoplites in line, one of them advanced a long way in front, and
then, fearing one of the enemy, retired. "Young man," said Phokion,
"are you not ashamed of having deserted two posts, that in which you
were placed by your general and that in which you placed yourself?" He
now charged the enemy and overthrew them, slaying Mikion himself and
many others. Meanwhile the Greek army in Thessaly fought a battle with
Leonnatus, who was coming[639] to join Antipater with a Macedonian
army from Asia. Antiphilus led the infantry and Menon, a Thessalian,
the cavalry. In the battle Leonnatus himself was slain, and his troops

XXVI. Shortly afterwards Kraterus crossed over from Asia with a large
force, and a second battle took place at Krannon.[640] The Greeks were
defeated, but not in a crushing manner or with much loss. Yet, as the
Greek commanders were young men, unable to maintain discipline, and,
as at the same time, Antipater was tampering with the loyalty of the
cities from which the army came, the whole force broke up, and most
disgracefully betrayed the cause of Grecian liberty. Antipater at once
marched upon Athens with his army. Demosthenes and Hypereides at once
fled from Athens, but Demades, who had not been able to pay any part
of the money which he had been condemned to pay to the state (for he
had been convicted of making illegal proposals[641] on seven separate
occasions, and had become disfranchised and disqualified from
addressing the people), now set the laws at defiance, and proposed
that ambassadors, with full powers, should be sent to Antipater to sue
for peace. The people were greatly alarmed, and called upon Phokion,
saying that they could trust no one else. "If I had always been
trusted," said he, "we should not now be discussing such matters as
these." The motion was carried, and Phokion was sent to Antipater, who
was encamped in the Kadmeia of Thebes, and preparing to invade Attica.
Phokion's first request was that he would stay where he was and
arrange terms. Upon hearing this Kraterus said, "Phokion advises us to
do what is unjust, when he bids us remain here, doing evil to the
country of our friends and allies, while we might do ourselves good
in that of our enemies." Antipater, however, seized him by the hand
and said, "We must yield to Phokion in this." With regard to terms, he
said that he required the same terms from the Athenians which
Leosthenes had demanded from himself at Lamia.

XXVII. When Phokion returned to Athens, as the people had no choice
but to submit to these terms, he went back again to Thebes with the
other ambassadors;[642] for the Athenians had appointed the

Online Library46 PlutarchPlutarch's Lives Volume III → online text (page 46 of 55)