Hellenica (Xenophon)/Book 1/Chapter 1

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1After these events, [1] A few days later Thymochares arrived from Athens with a few ships, when another sea fight between the Lacedaemonians and Athenians at once took place, in which the former, under the command of Agesandridas, gained the victory.

2Another short interval brings us to a morning in early winter, when Dorieus, the son of Diagoras, was entering the Hellespont with fourteen ships from Rhodes at break of day. The Athenian day-watch descrying him, signalled to the generals, and they, with twenty sail, put out to sea to attack him.

3Dorieus made good his escape, and, as he opened the narrows,[2] ran his triremes aground off Rhoeteum. When the Athenians had come to close quarters, the fighting commenced, and was sustained at once from ships and shore, until at length the Athenians retired to their main camp at Madytus, having achieved nothing.

4Meanwhile Mindarus, while sacrificing to Athena at Ilium, had observed the battle. He at once hastened to the sea, and getting his own triremes afloat, sailed out to pick up the ships with Dorieus.

5The Athenians on their side put out to meet him, and engaged him off Abydos. From early morning till the afternoon the fight was kept up close to the shore.[3] Victory and defeat hung still in even balance, when Alcibiades came sailing up with eighteen ships.

6Thereupon the Peloponnesians fled towards Abydos, where, however, Pharnabazus brought them timely assistance.[4] Mounted on horseback, he pushed forward into the sea as far as his horse would let him, doing battle himself, and encouraging his troopers and the infantry alike to play their parts.

7Then the Peloponnesians, ranging their ships in close- packed order, and drawing up their battle line in proximity to the land, kept up the fight. At length the Athenians, having captured thirty of the enemy's vessels without their crews, and having recovered those of their own which they had previously lost, set sail for Sestos.

8Here the fleet, with the exception of forty vessels, dispersed in different directions outside the Hellespont, to collect money; while Thrasylus, one of the generals, sailed to Athens to report what had happened, and to beg for a reinforcement of troops and ships.

9After the above incidents, Tissaphernes arrived in the Hellespont, and received a visit from Alcibiades, who presented him with a single ship, bringing with him tokens of friendship and gifts, whereupon Tissaphernes seized him and shut him up in Sardis, giving out that the king's orders were to go to war with the Athenians.

10Thirty days later Alcibiades, accompanied by Mantitheus, who had been captured in Caria, managed to procure horses and escaped by night to Clazomenae. B.C. 410.

11And now the Athenians at Sestos, hearing that Mindarus was meditating an attack upon them with a squadron of sixty sail, gave him the slip, and under cover of night escaped to Cardia. Hither also Alcibiades repaired from Clazomenae, having with him five triremes and a light skiff; but on learning that the Peloponnesian fleet had left Abydos and was in full sail for Cyzicus, he set off himself by land to Sestos, giving orders to the fleet to sail round and join him there.

12Presently the vessels arrived, and he was on the point of putting out to sea with everything ready for action, when Theramenes, with a fleet of twenty ships from Macedonia, entered the port, and at the same instant Thrasybulus, with a second fleet of twenty sail from Thasos, both squadrons having been engaged in collecting money.

13Bidding these officers also follow him with all speed, as soon as they had taken out their large sails and cleared for action, Alcibiades set sail himself for Parium. During the following night the united squadron, consisting now of eighty-six vessels, stood out to sea from Parium, and reached Proconnesus next morning, about the hour of breakfast.

14Here they learnt that Mindarus was in Cyzicus, and that Pharnabazus, with a body of infantry, was with him. Accordingly they waited the whole of this day at Proconnesus. On the following day Alcibiades summoned an assembly, and addressing the men in terms of encouragement, warned them that a threefold service was expected of them; that they must be ready for a sea fight, a land fight, and a wall fight all at once, "for look you," said he, "we have no money, but the enemy has unlimited supplies from the king."

15Now, on the previous day, as soon as they were come to moorings, he had collected all the sea-going craft of the island, big and little alike, under his own control, that no one might report the number of his squadron to the enemy, and he had further caused a proclamation to be made, that any one caught sailing across to the opposite coast would be punished with death.

16When the meeting was over, he got his ships ready for action, and stood out to sea towards Cyzicus in torrents of rain. Off Cyzicus the sky cleared, and the sun shone out and revealed to him the spectacle of Mindarus's vessels, sixty in number, exercising at some distance from the harbour, and, in fact, intercepted by himself.

17The Peloponnesians, perceiving at a glance the greatly increased number of the Athenian galleys, and noting their proximity to the port, made haste to reach the land, where they brought their vessels to anchor in a body, and prepared to engage the enemy as he sailed to the attack.

18But Alcibiades, sailing round with twenty of his vessels, came to land and disembarked. Seeing this, Mindarus also landed, and in the engagement which ensued he fell fighting, whilst those who were with him took to flight. As for the enemy's ships, the Athenians succeeded in capturing the whole of them (with the exception of the Syracusan vessels, which were burnt by their crews), and made off with their prizes to Proconnesus.

19From thence on the following day they sailed to attack Cyzicus. The men of that place, seeing that the Peloponnesians and Pharnabazus had evacuated the town, admitted the Athenians.

20Here Alcibiades remained twenty days, obtaining large sums of money from the Cyzicenes, but otherwise inflicting no sort of mischief on the community. He then sailed back to Proconnesus, and from there to Perinthus and Selybria.

21The inhabitants of the former place welcomed his troops into their city, but the Selybrians preferred to give money, and so escape the admission of the troops.

22Continuing the voyage the squadron reached Chrysopolis in Chalcedonia,[5] where they built a fort, and established a custom-house to collect the tithe dues which they levied on all merchantmen passing through the Straights from the Black Sea. Besides this, a detachment of thirty ships was left there under the two generals, Theramenes and Eubulus, with instructions not only to keep a look-out on the port itself and on all traders passing through the channel, but generally to injure the enemy in any way which might present itself. This done, the rest of the generals hastened back to the Hellespont.

23Now a despatch from Hippocrates, Mindarus's vice-admiral,[6] had been intercepted on its way to Lacedaemon, and taken to Athens. It ran as follows (in broad Doric):[7] "Ships gone; Mindarus dead; the men starving; at our wits' end what to do."

24Pharnabazus, however, was ready to meet with encouragement the despondency which afflicted the whole Peloponnesian army and their allies. "As long as their own bodies were safe and sound, why need they take to heart the loss of a few wooden hulls? Was there not timber enough and to spare in the king's territory?" And so he presented each man with a cloak and maintenance for a couple of months, after which he armed the sailors and formed them into a coastguard for the security of his own seaboard.

25He next called a meeting of the generals and trierarchs of the different States, and instructed them to build just as many new ships in the dockyards of Antandrus as they had respectively lost. He himself was to furnish the funds, and he gave them to understand that they might bring down timber from Mount Ida.

26While the ships were building, the Syracusans helped the men of Antandrus to finish a section of their walls, and were particularly pleasant on garrison duty; and that is why the Syracusans to this day enjoy the privilege of citizenship, with the title of "benefactors," at Antandrus. Having so arranged these matters, Pharnabazus proceeded at once to the rescue of Chalcedon.

27It was at this date that the Syracusan generals received news from home of their banishment by the democratic party. Accordingly they called a meeting of their separate divisions, and putting forward Hermocrates[8] as their spokesman, proceeded to deplore their misfortune, insisting upon the injustice and the illegality of their banishment. "And now let us admonish you," they added, "to be eager and willing in the future, even as in the past: whatever the word of command may be, show yourselves good men and true: let not the memory of those glorious sea fights fade. Think of those victories you have won, those ships you have captured by your own unaided efforts; forget not that long list of achievements shared by yourselves with others, in all which you proved yourselves invincible under our generalship. It was to a happy combination of our merit and your enthusiasm, displayed alike on land and sea, that you owe the strength and perfection of your discipline." With these words they called upon the men to choose other commanders, who should undertake the duties of their office, until the arrival of their successors.

28Thereupon the whole assembly, and more particularly the captains and masters of vessels and marines, insisted with loud cries on their continuance in command. The generals replied, "It was not for them to indulge in faction against the State, but rather it was their duty, in case any charges were forthcoming against themselves, at once to render an account."

29When, however, no one had any kind of accusation to prefer, they yielded to the general demand, and were content to await the arrival of their successors. The names of these were--Demarchus, the son of Epidocus; Myscon, the son of Mencrates; and Potamis, the son of Gnosis. The captains, for their part, swore to restore the exiled generals as soon as they themselves should return to Syracuse. At present with a general vote of thanks they despatched them to their several destinations.

30In particular those who had enjoyed the society of Hermocrates recalled his virtues with regret, his thoroughness and enthusiasm, his frankness and affability, the care with which every morning and evening he was wont to gather in his quarters a group of naval captains and mariners whose ability he recognised. These were his confidants, to whom he communicated what he intended to say or do: they were his pupils, to whom he gave lessons in oratory, now calling upon them to speak extempore, and now again after deliberation.

31By these means Hermocrates had gained a wide reputation at the council board, where his mastery of language was no less felt than the wisdom of his advice. Appearing at Lacedaemon as the accuser of Tissaphernes,[9] he had carried his case, not only by the testimony of Astyochus, but by the obvious sincerity of his statements, and on the strength of this reputation he now betook himself to Pharnabazus. The latter did not wait to be asked, but at once gave him money, which enabled him to collect friends and triremes, with a view to his ultimate recall to Syracuse. Meanwhile the successors of the Syracusans had arrived at Miletus, where they took charge of the ships and the army.

32It was at this same season that a revolution occurred in Thasos, involving the expulsion of the philo-Laconian party, with the Laconian governor Eteonicus. The Laconian Pasippidas was charged with having brought the business about in conjunction with Tissaphernes, and was banished from Sparta in consequence. The naval force which he had been collecting from the allies was handed over to Cratesippidas, who was sent out to take his place in Chios.

33About the same period, while Thrasylus was still in Athens, Agis[10] made a foraging expedition up to the very walls of the city. But Thrasylus led out the Athenians with the rest of the inhabitants of the city, and drew them up by the side of the Lyceum Gymnasium, ready to engage the enemy if they approached.

34When he saw this, Agis beat a hasty retreat, not however without the loss of some of his supports, a few of whom were cut down by the Athenian light troops. This success disposed the citizens to take a still more favourable view of the objects for which Thrasylus had come; and they passed a decree empowering him to call out a thousand hoplites, one hundred cavalry, and fifty triremes.

35Meanwhile Agis, as he looked out from Deceleia, and saw vessel after vessel laden with corn running down to Piraeus, declared that it was useless for his troops to go on week after week excluding the Athenians from their own land, while no one stopped the source of their corn supply by sea: the best plan would be to send Clearchus,[11] the son of Rhamphius, who was proxenos[12] of the Byzantines, to Chalcedon and Byzantium.

36The suggestion was approved, and with fifteen vessels duly manned from Megara, or furnished by other allies, Clearchus set out. These were troop-ships rather than swift-sailing men-of-war. Three of them, on reaching the Hellespont, were destroyed by the Athenian ships employed to keep a sharp look-out on all merchant craft in those waters. The other twelve escaped to Sestos, and thence finally reached Byzantium in safety.

37So closed the year--a year notable also for the expedition against Sicily of the Carthaginians under Hannibal with one hundred thousand men, and the capture, within three months, of the two Hellenic cities of Selinus and Himera.

Notes[edit]

  1. Or, Loosely. "To follow the order of events".
  2. Or, "as he shook himself free of the narrows".
  3. The original has a somewhat more poetical ring. The author uses the old Attic or Ionic word {eona}. This is a mark of style, of which we shall have many instances. One might perhap produce something of the effect here by translating: "the battle hugged the strand."
  4. Or, "came to their aid along the shore."
  5. This is the common spelling, but the coins of Calchedon have the letters {KALKH}, and so the name is written in the best MSS. of Herodotus, Xenophon, and other writers, by whom the place is named. See "Dict. of Greek and Roman Geog." "Chalcedon."
  6. "Epistoleus," i.e. secretary or despatch writer, is the Spartan title of the officer second in command to the admiral.
  7. Reading {'Errei ta kala} (Bergk's conjecture for {kala}) = "timbers," i.e. "ships" (a Doric word). Cf. Aristoph., "Lys." 1253, {potta kala}. The despatch continues: {Mindaros apessoua} (al. {apessua}), which is much more racy than the simple word "dead." "M. is gone off." I cannot find the right English or "broad Scotch" equivalent. See Thirlwall, "Hist. Gr." IV. xxix. 88 note.
  8. Hermocrates, the son of Hermon. We first hear of him in Thuc. iv. 58 foll. as the chief agent in bringing the Sicilian States together in conference at Gela B.C. 424, with a view to healing their differences and combining to frustrate the dangerous designs of Athens. In 415 B.C., when the attack came, he was again the master spirit in rendering it abortive (Thuc. vi. 72 foll.) In 412 B.C. it was he who urged the Sicilians to assist in completing the overthrow of Athens, by sending a squadron to co-operate with the Peloponnesian navy--for the relief of Miletus, etc. (Thuc. viii. 26, 27 foll.) At a later date, in 411 B.C., when the Peloponnesian sailors were ready to mutiny, and "laid all their grievances to the charge of Astyochus (the Spartan admiral), who humoured Tissaphernes for his own gain" (Thuc. viii. 83), Hermocrates took the men's part, and so incurred the hatred of Tissaphernes.
  9. The matter referred to is fully explained Thuc. viii. 85.
  10. The reader will recollect that we are giving in "the Deceleian" period of the war, 413-404 B.C. The Spartan king was in command of the fortress of Deceleia, only fourteen miles distant from Athens, and erected on a spot within sight of the city. See Thuc. vii. 19, 27, 28.
  11. Of Clearchus we shall hear more in the sequel, and in the "Anabasis.
  12. The Proxenus answered pretty nearly to our "Consul," "Agent," "Resident"; but he differed in this respect, that he was always a member of the foreign State. An Athenian represented Sparta at Athens; a Laconian represented Athens at Sparta, and so forth. See Liddell and Scott.