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BATTLE OF ARGINUSE. A long and obstinate combat followed; but Callicratidas was at length thrown overboard and drowned, and victory declared for the Athenians. The Spartans had lost seventy-seven vessels, and their fleet at Mytilene hastily withdrew, leaving the harbor open for the escape of Conon.
B. C. 405.
205. At the beginning of the next year, Lysander was again placed in command of the Spartan fleet. His numbers being still inferior, he avoided an engagement, but he crossed the Egean to the coast of Attica, for a personal consultation with Agis, and thence proceeded to the Hellespont, where he commenced the siege of Lampsacus. The Athenian fleet followed, but arrived too late to save the town. Conon stationed himself, however, at Egos-Potami (Goat's River), on the northern side of the channel, with the intention of bringing the Spartan to an engagement. The Athenians were upon a barren plain; while the Spartans, better situated and abundantly supplied with provisions, were in no haste to begin the battle. Alcibiades, who was living near in his own castle, saw the danger of his countrymen, and advised their generals to remove to Sestus, but his counsels were resented as impertinence; and attributing the Spartan delay to cowardice, the Athenians became every day more neglectful of discipline.
206. BATTLE OF EGOS-POTAMI. At length Lysander, seizing a moment when the Athenian seamen were scattered over the country, B C. 405, Sept. crossed the strait with his entire force. Only a dozen vessels,
in Conon's personal command, were in condition for battle: and the whole fleet, with the exception of the flag-ship, the sacred Paralus, and eight or ten others, fell into the Spartan possession without a blow. Three or four thousand prisoners, including officers and men, were massacred, in retaliation for recent cruelties of the Athenians in the treatment of their captives. The defeat at Egos-Potami was the death-blow of the Athenian empire. Chalcedon, Byzantium, and Mytilene soon surrendered; and all the Athenian towns, except that of Samos, fell without resistance into the hands of the Spartans. Popular governments were every-where overthrown, and a new form of oligarchy was established, consisting of ten citizens, with a Spartan officer, called a harmost, at their head.
207. The news of the great calamity arrived in the night at Piræus. A cry of sorrow and despair spread instantly from the port to the city, as each man passed the terrible tidings to his neighbor. "That night no man slept;"* and in the morning the Assembly was called, to consider how the existence of the city might be prolonged. The situation was desperate. Even though no hostile force should approach Athens, Lysander, by holding the Euxine, could effectually reduce it to starvation.
*The words of Xenophon, who was present in Athens
The number of citizens was so diminished, that even criminals could not be spared from public service. All prisoners were released, except a few murderers and desperate villains; private offenses were forgotten in the common danger, and all Athenians united in a solemn oath of mutual forgiveness.
B. C. 405, Nov.
208. Two months after the defeat, Lysander appeared at Ægina with an overwhelming naval force; and, at the same time, the Peloponnesian army encamped in the groves of Academia, near the gates of Athens. Yet, though some of the people were already dying of hunger, their spirit was not broken; and when the Spartan ephors proposed peace on condition of the destruction of the Long Walls, a senator was imprisoned for merely discussing the acceptance of these terms. When, at last, the Athenians sent offers of capitulation, three months were wasted in vain debate before the terms could be settled. The Thebans and Corinthians insisted that no conditions should be granted, but that the very name of Athens should be blotted out, her site become a desert, and her people be sold into slavery. The Spartans, with more generosity, refused to "put out one of the eyes of Greece," or to enslave a people which had rendered such services to the whole Hellenic race in the great crisis of the Persian wars.
It was finally agreed that the Long Walls and the fortifications of Piræus should be destroyed, the ships of war surrendered, all exiles restored to their rights of citizenship, and all the foreign possessions of Athens relinquished. These hard conditions were executed with needless insolence. Lysander himself presided at the demolition of the walls; and the work, which was rendered very difficult by the solidity of their construction, was turned into a sort of festal celebration. A chorus of flute-players and dancers, wreathed with flowers, animated the workmen at their toil; and as the massive walls of Pericles fell, stone by stone, shouts of triumph arose from the army of destroyers that this day witnessed the dawn of the liberties of Greece.
B. C. 477-404.
209. The Athenian supremacy had lasted seventy-three years from the confederation at Delos. The power which had been intrusted to the imperial city for the common defense, had, in some cases, been made to bear heavily on the subject allies, and her later history is stained by many acts of cruelty. But the true empire of Athens has never been overthrown; for, through poetry, art, and philosophy, she still rules the minds of men with a power which has never been surpassed.
The rivals, subjects, and enemies of Athens united to hasten her fall; and to this end Sparta promised to the Persians Thessaly, Boeotia, the islands of the Ægean, and the coast of Asia Minor. Alcibiades partly neutralized the Spartan influence with the satraps, and secured an oligarchical revolution in Athens as
the price of his efforts in her favor. Through his aid the Athenians gained several great naval victories in the northern Ægean, which restored to them the corn-trade of the Euxine, and relieved the famine in their besieged city. The gold of Cyrus the Younger, and the skill of Lysander, again turned the tide against the Athenians, who were twice defeated; and, though afterward triumphant near the Arginusæ, received a final and disastrous overthrow at EgosPotami, which ended their supremacy in Greece. The subject towns fell into the power of the Spartans; and, the following spring, Athens itself was surrendered to Lysander, and its Long Walls destroyed.
210. Sparta, in alliance with Persia, now became the leading state in Greece; and all the cities yielded to her influence, by abolishing their free governments and setting up oligarchies in their stead. Athens herself received a thoroughly Spartan constitution. A provisional committee of five, called ephors, invited Lysander from Samos to preside over the reorganization of Athens. Under his direction, thirty officers were appointed for the government of the city, who have always been known in history as the "Thirty Tyrants."
B. C. 404.
211. Critias was their chief. Having been banished formerly by a vote of the people, he now wreaked his vengeance with unsparing cruelty on the best and noblest citizens. Blood flowed daily and fines, imprisonments, and confiscations were the events of every hour. By the advice of Theram'enes, who was the head of the more moderate party, three thousand citizens were chosen from the adherents of the Thirty, whose sanction was required for important proceedings. But all, except this enfranchised number, were placed beyond the protection of the law, and might be put to death, at the word of the tyrants, without even a show of trial. A list was made of those who were destined to death, and any of the ruling party might add to it such names as either avarice or hatred suggested to him. The wealthiest citizens were, of course, the first victims, for the estate of the murdered man went to his accuser. Theramenes, in his turn, was offered a wealthy alien to destroy and plunder, but he indignantly rejected the proposal. This implied protest against the reign of terror cost him his life. He was denounced as a public enemy, his name stricken from the roll of the Thirty, and from that of the Three Thousand, and he was ordered to instant execution. He sprang to the altar in the senate-house; but fear of divine vengeance had disappeared, together with humanity and justice, from the rulers of Athens. He was dragged away to prison, and condemned to drink the hemlock.
212. The tide was already turning, both in the ill-fated city and throughout Greece. Athens, in her humiliation, no longer excited the fear or jealousy of her former allies; while Sparta, instead of making good her assumed title of "Liberator of the Greeks," was setting up a new empire more oppressive than that of her rival. Even in Sparta itself, the pride and
harshness of Lysander excited disgust, and the Thirty Tyrants at Athens were universally regarded as the tools of his scheming ambition.
The Athenian exiles, who had been biding their time, now issued from Thebes, under the lead of Thrasybu'lus, and seized the fortress of Phy'le, in the mountain barrier of Attica, on the road to the capital. The tyrants, with the Spartan garrison of the Acropolis and the Three Thousand, marched out to attack them, but were repulsed with spirit, and a timely snow-storm broke up their attempt to besiege the fortress, and drove them back to the city. Foreseeing their expulsion, the Thirty now provided for themselves a place of refuge by another horrid outrage. They caused all the inhabitants of Salamis and Eleusis, who were capable of bearing arms, to be brought as prisoners to Athens, and the towns to be occupied by garrisons in their own interest. Then filling the Odeon with Spartan soldiers and their three thousand adherents, they extorted from this assembly a vote for the immediate massacre of the prisoners.
B. C. 403.
213. Thrasybulus, supported by the indignation of the people, now marched with a thousand men to Piræus, seized the port without opposition, and fortified himself upon its castle-hill, Munych'ia. The whole Lacedæmonian party in Athens marched against him, and was defeated with considerable loss, in which must be reckoned the death of Critias. The more moderate party now gained ascendancy; the Thirty were deposed after a reign of eight months, and ten less atrocious rulers were elected in their place. The more violent members of the Thirty retired to Eleusis, and both parties sent envoys to Sparta asking aid. Lysander again entered Athens with an army, while his brother blockaded Piræus with a fleet.
At this point, however, Lysander was superseded, and the Spartan king, Pausanias, after being first repulsed, but afterward victorious over Thrasybulus, entered upon negotiations for peace. Amnesty was decreed for all past offenses, except those of the Thirty, the Eleven, and the Ten. The exiles were restored, and Thrasybulus with his comrades now marched in solemn procession from Piræus, to present their thank-offerings to Athena on the Acropolis. In a subsequent assembly of the people, all the acts of the Thirty Tyrants were annulled, the archons, judges, and Senate of Five Hundred were restored, and a revised code of the laws of Draco and Solon was ordered. Thrasybulus and his party were rewarded with wreaths of olive for their rescue of the city.
B. C. 399.
214. DEATH OF SOCRATES. Though humbled and reduced from their former greatness, the Athenians now rejoiced in the restoration of their ancient laws. Their city, their temples, and all their old customs and beliefs became doubly dear and sacred, from the
The executioners who had put in effect the bloody sentences of the tyrants.
perils through which they had passed. The worst effect of this conservative reaction was the condemnation and death of Socrates. This great philosopher belonged to no political party, and had opposed the extreme measures of both; but he had fought on many battle-fields, and had always used his power as a citizen in favor of justice and mercy. Critias had been his pupil, but when in power had hated and persecuted his former instructor. His impeachment now came from the opposite party. He was accused of despising the gods of Athens, of introducing a new worship, and of corrupting the Athenian youth. The dissoluteness of Alcibiades may have given some color to this charge, though it is certain that his youthful impieties and subsequent misconduct were in spite of his master's instructions, not on account of them.
Being called upon for his defense, Socrates replied that, so far from violating the state religion, he had constantly admonished his disciples not to depart from the established customs. He refused to be released on terms which required him to desist from teaching. To develop wisdom and virtue in the young had been the passion of his life. He claimed no wisdom of his own, but sought to draw out the thoughts of others to just conclusions. And if he could persuade any that the care of becoming every day wiser and better must take precedence of all other cares, he was sure that he had conferred the greatest possible benefit. The high tone of his defense only irritated his judges, and he was condemned to death by poison.
The Paralus had now gone on its sacred yearly mission to the isle of Delos, and no execution could take place until its return. The thirty days thus spent by Socrates in prison were filled with inspiring converse with his friends. He spoke cheerfully of the past and the future, and expressed his immovable conviction of the immortality of the soul. His last request was that a cock should be sacrificed in his name to Esculapius,* an offering which persons were accustomed to make on their recovery from illness by this common symbol testifying to all the people that he considered death as a joyful release from a state of imperfection and disease. When the appointed moment arrived, he drank the hemlock and calmly expired.
215. INVASION OF ELIS. The Eleans were among the first to feel the unchecked power of Sparta. As guardians of the sacred grove at Olympia, they had excluded the Spartans from the games at the time when the Athenians appeared, with such magnificence, under the direction of Alcibiades, and they had borne arms against them, in alliance with the Argives and Mantineans (B. C. 420-416). They had crowned their insults by ejecting King Agis from their temple, when he had come with sacrifices to consult the oracle. Agis now demanded satisfaction, which the Eleans
* The god of healing, a son of Apollo.