Hellenica (Xenophon)/Book 1/Chapter 3

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1The year following is the year in which the temple of Athena, in Phocaea, was struck by lightning and set on fire.[1]

2With the cessation of winter, in early spring, the Athenians set sail with the whole of their force to Proconnesus, and thence advanced upon Chalcedon and Byzantium, encamping near the former town. The men of Chalcedon, aware of their approach, had taken the precaution to deposit all their pillageable property with their neighbours, the Bithynian Thracians;

3whereupon Alcibiades put himself at the head of a small body of heavy infantry with the cavalry, and giving orders to the fleet to follow along the coast, marched against the Bithynians and demanded back the property of the Chalcedonians, threatening them with war in case of refusal.

The Bithynians delivered up the property. Returning to camp, not only thus enriched, but with the further satisfaction of having secured pledges of good behaviour from the Bithynians, Alcibiades set to work with the whole of his troops to draw lines of circumvallation round Chalcedon from sea to sea, so as to include as much of the river as possible within his wall, which was made of timber.

5Thereupon the Lacedaemonian governor, Hippocrates, let his troops out of the city and offered battle, and the Athenians, on their side, drew up their forces opposite to receive him; while Pharnabazus, from without the lines of circumvallation, was still advancing with his army and large bodies of horse.

6Hippocrates and Thrasylus engaged each other with their heavy infantry for a long while, until Alcibiades, with a detachment of infantry and the cavalry, intervened. Presently Hippocrates fell, and the troops under him fled into the city;

7at the same instant Pharnabazus, unable to effect a junction with the Lacedaemonian leader, owing to the circumscribed nature of the ground and the close proximity of the river to the enemy's lines, retired to the Heracleium,[2] belonging to the Chalcedonians, where his camp lay.

8After this success Alcibiades set off to the Hellespont and the Chersonese to raise money, and the remaining generals came to terms with Pharnabazus in respect of Chalcedon; according to these, the Persian satrap agreed to pay the Athenians twenty talents[3] in behalf of the town, and to grant their ambassadors a safe conduct up country to the king.

9It was further stipulated by mutual consent and under oaths provided, that the Chalcedonians should continue the payment of their customary tribute to Athens, being also bound to discharge all outstanding debts. The Athenians, on their side, were bound to desist from all hostilities until the return of their ambassadors from the king.

10These oaths were not witnessed by Alcibiades, who was now in the neighbourhood of Selybria. Having taken that place, he presently appeared before the walls of Byzantium at the head of the men of Chersonese, who came out with their whole force; he was aided further by troops from Thrace and more than three hundred horse.

11Accordingly Pharnabazus, insisting that he too must take the oath, decided to remain in Chalcedon, and to await his arrival from Byzantium. Alcibiades came, but was not prepared to bind himself by any oaths, unless Pharnabazus would, on his side, take oaths to himself. After this, oaths were exchanged between them by proxy.

12Alcibiades took them at Chrysopolis in the presence of two representatives sent by Pharnabazus--namely, Mitrobates and Arnapes. Pharnabazus took them at Chalcedon in the presence of Euryptolemus and Diotimus, who represented Alcibiades. Both parties bound themselves not only by the general oath, but also interchanged personal pledges of good faith.

13This done, Pharnabazus left Chalcedon at once, with injunctions that those who were going up to the king as ambassadors should meet him at Cyzicus. The representatives of Athens were Dorotheus, Philodices, Theogenes, Euryptolemus, and Mantitheus; with them were two Argives, Cleostratus and Pyrrholochus. An embassy of the Lacedaemonians was also about to make the journey. This consisted of Pasippidas and his fellows, with whom were Hermocrates, now an exile from Syracuse, and his brother Proxenus.

14So Pharnabazus put himself at their head. Meanwhile the Athenians prosecuted the siege of Byzantium; lines of circumvallation were drawn; and they diversified the blockade by sharpshooting at long range and occasional assaults upon the walls.

15Inside the city lay Clearchus, the Lacedaemonian governor, and a body of Perioci with a small detachment of Neodamodes.[4] There was also a body of Megarians under their general Helixus, a Megarian, and another body of Boeotians, with their general Coeratadas.

16The Athenians, finding presently that they could effect nothing by force, worked upon some of the inhabitants to betray the place.

17Clearchus, meanwhile, never dreaming that any one would be capable of such an act, had crossed over to the opposite coast to visit Pharnabazus; he had left everything in perfect order, entrusting the government of the city to Coeratadas and Helixus. His mission was to obtain pay for the soldiers from the Persian satrap, and to collect vessels from various quarters. Some were already in the Hellespont, where they had been left as guardships by Pasippidas, or else at Antandrus. Others formed the fleet which Agesandridas, who had formerly served as a marine[5] under Mindarus, now commanded on the Thracian coast. Others Clearchus purposed to have built, and with the whole united squadron to so injure the allies of the Athenians as to draw off the besieging army from Byzantium.

18But no sooner was he fairly gone than those who were minded to betray the city set to work. Their names were Cydon, Ariston, Anaxicrates, Lycurgus, and Anaxilaus.

19The last-named was afterwards impeached for treachery in Lacedaemon on the capital charge, and acquitted on the plea that, to begin with, he was not a Lacedaemonian, but a Byzantine, and, so far from having betrayed the city, he had saved it, when he saw women and children perishing of starvation; for Clearchus had given away all the corn in the city to the Lacedaemonian soldiers. It was for these reasons, as Anaxilaus himself admitted, he had introduced the enemy, and not for the sake of money, nor out of hatred to Lacedaemon.

20As soon as everything was ready, these people opened the gates leading to the Thracian Square, as it is called, and admitted the Athenian troops with Alcibiades at their head.

21Helixus and Coeratadas, in complete ignorance of the plot, hastened to the Agora with the whole of the garrison, ready to confront the danger; but finding the enemy in occupation, they had nothing for it but to give themselves up.

22They were sent off as prisoners to Athens, where Coeratadas, in the midst of the crowd and confusion of debarkation at Piraeus, gave his guards the slip, and made his way in safety to Decelia.


  1. The MSS. here give the words, "in the ephorate of Pantacles and the archonship of Antigenes, two-and-twenty years from the beginning of the war," but the twenty-second year of the war = B.C. 410; Antigenes archon, B.C. 407 = Ol. 93, 2; the passage must be regarded as a note mis-inserted by some editor or copyist (vide supra, I. 11.)
  2. I.e. sacred place or temple of Heracles.
  3. Twenty talents = 4800 pounds; or, more exactly, 4875 pounds.
  4. According to the constitution of Lacedaemon the whole government was in Dorian hands. The subject population was divided into (1) Helots, who were State serfs. The children of Helots were at times brought up by Spartans and called "Mothakes"; Helots who had received their liberty were called "Neodamodes" ({neodamodeis}). After the conquest of Messenia this class was very numerous. (2) Perioeci. These were the ancient Achaean inhabitants, living in towns and villages, and managing their own affairs, paying tribute, and serving in the army as heavy-armed soldiers. In 458 B.C. they were said to number thirty thousand. The Spartans themselves were divided, like all Dorians, into three tribes, Hylleis, Dymanes, and Pamphyli, each of which tribes was divided into ten "obes," which were again divided into {oikoi} or families possessed of landed properties. In 458 B.C. there were said to be nine thousand such families; but in course of time, through alienation of lands, deaths in war, and other causes, their numbers were much diminished; and in many cases there was a loss of status, so that in the time of Agis III., B.C. 244, we hear of two orders of Spartans, the {omoioi} and the {upomeiones} (inferiors); seven hundred Spartans (families) proper and one hundred landed proprietors. See Mullers "Dorians," vol. ii. bk. iii. ch. x. S. 3 (Eng. trans.); Arist. "Pol." ii. 9, 15; Plut. ("Agis").
  5. The greek word is {epibates}, which some think was the title of an inferior naval officer in the Spartan service, but there is no proof of this. Cf. Thuc. viii. 61, and Prof. Jowett's note; also Grote, "Hist. of Greece," viii. 27 (2d ed.)