Hellenica (Xenophon)/Book 1/Chapter 5

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1At a date not much earlier than that of the incidents just described, the Lacedaemonians had sent out Lysander as their admiral, in the place of Cratesippidas, whose period of office had expired. The new admiral first visited Rhodes, where he got some ships, and sailed to Cos and Miletus, and from the latter place to Ephesus. At Ephesus he waited with seventy sail, expecting the advent of Cyrus in Sardis,

2when he at once went up to pay the prince a visit with the ambassadors from Lacedaemon. And now an opportunity was given to denounce the proceedings of Tissaphernes, and at the same time to beg Cyrus himself to show as much zeal as possible in the prosecution of the war.

3Cyrus replied that not only had he received express injunction from his father to the same effect, but that his own views coincided with their wishes, which he was determined to carry out to the letter. He had, he informed them, brought with him five hundred talents;[1] and if that sum failed, he had still the private revenue, which his father allowed him, to fall back upon, and when this resource was in its turn exhausted, he would coin the gold and silver throne on which he sat, into money for their benefit.[2]

4His audience thanked him for what he said, and further begged him to fix the rate of payment for the seamen at one Attic drachma per man,[3] explaining that should this rate of payment be adopted, the sailors of the Athenians would desert, and in the end there would be a saving of expenditure.

5Cyrus complimented them on the soundness of their arguments, but said that it was not in his power to exceed the injunctions of the king. The terms of agreement were precise, thirty minae[4] a month per vessel to be given, whatever number of vessels the Lacedaemonians might choose to maintain.

6To this rejoinder Lysander at the moment said nothing. But after dinner, when Cyrus drank to his health, asking him "What he could do to gratify him most?" Lysander replied, "Add an obol[5] to the sailors' pay."

7After this the pay was raised to four instead of three obols, as it hitherto had been. Nor did the liberality of Cyrus end here; he not only paid up all arrears, but further gave a month's pay in advance, so that, if the enthusiasm of the army had been great before, it was greater than ever now.

8The Athenians when they heard the news were proportionately depressed, and by help of Tissaphernes despatched ambassadors to Cyrus.

9That prince, however, refused to receive them, nor were the prayers of Tissaphernes of any avail, however much he insisted that Cyrus should adopt the policy which he himself, on the advice of Alcibiades, had persistently acted on. This was simply not to suffer any single Hellenic state to grow strong at the expense of the rest, but to keep them all weak alike, distracted by internecine strife.

10Lysander, now that the organisation of his navy was arranged to his satisfaction, beached his squadron of ninety vessels at Ephesus, and sat with hands folded, whilst the vessels dried and underwent repairs.

11Alcibiades, being informed that Thrasybulus had come south of the Hellespont and was fortifying Phocaea, sailed across to join him, leaving his own pilot Antiochus in command of the fleet, with orders not to attack Lysander's fleet.

12Antiochus, however, was tempted to leave Notium and sail into the harbour of Ephesus with a couple of ships, his own and another, past the prows of Lysander's squadron.

13The Spartan at first contented himself with launching a few of his ships, and started in pursuit of the intruder; but when the Athenians came out with other vessels to assist Antiochus, he formed his whole squadron into line of battle, and bore down upon them, whereupon the Athenians followed suit, and getting their remaining triremes under weigh at Notium, stood out to sea as fast as each vessel could clear the point.[6]

14Thus it befell in the engagement which ensued, that while the enemy was in due order, the Athenians came up in scattered detachments and without concert, and in the end were put to flight with the loss of fifteen ships of war. Of the crews, indeed, the majority escaped, though a certain number fell into the hands of the enemy. Then Lysander collected his vessels, and having erected a trophy on Cape Notium, sailed across to Ephesus, whilst the Athenians retired to Samos.

15On his return to Samos a little later, Alcibiades put out to sea with the whole squadron in the direction of the harbour of Ephesus. At the mouth of the harbour he marshalled his fleet in battle order, and tried to tempt the enemy to an engagement; but as Lysander, conscious of his inferiority in numbers, refused to accept the challenge, he sailed back again to Samos. Shortly after this the Lacedaemonians captured Delphinium and Eion.[7]

16But now the news of the late disaster at Notium had reached the Athenians at home, and in their indignation they turned upon Alcibiades, to whose negligence and lack of self-command they attributed the destruction of the ships. Accordingly they chose ten new generals--namely Conon, Diomedon, Leon, Pericles, Erasinides, Aristocrates, Archestratus, Protomachus, Thrasylus, and Aristogenes.

17Alcibiades, who was moreover in bad odour in the camp, sailed away with a single trireme to his private fortress in the Chersonese.

18After this Conon, in obedience to a decree of the Athenian people, set sail from Andros with the twenty vessels under his command in that island to Samos, and took command of the whole squadron. To fill the place thus vacated by Conon, Phanosthenes was sent to Andros with four ships.

19That captain was fortunate enough to intercept and capture two Thurian ships of war, crews and all, and these captives were all imprisoned by the Athenians, with the exception of their leader Dorieus. He was the Rhodian, who some while back had been banished from Athens and from his native city by the Athenians, when sentence of death was passed upon him and his family. This man, who had once enjoyed the right of citizenship among them, they now took pity on and released him without ransom.

20When Conon had reached Samos he found the armament in a state of great despondency. Accordingly his first measure was to man seventy ships with their full complement, instead of the former hundred and odd vessels. With this squadron he put to sea accompanied by the other generals, and confined himself to making descents first at one point and then at another of the enemy's territory, and to collecting plunder.

21And so the year drew to its close: a year signalled further by an invasion of Sicily by the Carthaginians, with one hundred and twenty ships of war and a land force of one hundred and twenty thousand men, which resulted in the capture of Agrigentum. The town was finally reduced to famine after a siege of seven months, the invaders having previously been worsted in battle and forced to sit down before its walls for so long a time.


  1. About 120,000 pounds. One Euboic or Attic talent = sixty minae = six thousand drachmae = 243 pounds 15 shillings of our money.
  2. Cf. the language of Tissaphernes, Thuc. viii. 81.
  3. About 9 3/4 pence; a drachma (= six obols) would be very high pay for a sailor--indeed, just double the usual amount. See Thuc. vi. 8 and viii. 29, and Prof. Jowett ad loc. Tissaphernes had, in the winter of 412 B.C., distributed one month's pay among the Peloponnesian ships at this high rate of a drachma a day, "as his envoy had promised at Lacedaemon;" but this he proposed to reduce to half a drachma, "until he had asked the king's leave, promising that if he obtained it, he would pay the entire drachma. On the remonstrance, however, of Hermocrates, the Syracusan general, he promised to each man a payment of somewhat more than three obols."
  4. Nearly 122 pounds; and thirty minae a month to each ship (the crew of each ship being taken at two hundred) = three obols a day to each man. The terms of agreement to which Cyrus refers may have been specified in the convention mentioned above in chap. iv, which Boeotius and the rest were so proud to have obtained. But see Grote, "Hist. of Greece," vol. viii. p. 192 note (2d ed.)
  5. An obol = one-sixth of a drachma; the Attic obol = rather more than 1 1/2 pence.
  6. {os ekastos enoixen}, for this nautical term see above.
  7. This should probably be Teos, in Ionia, in spite of the MSS. {'Eiona}. The place referred to cannot at any rate be the well- known Eion at the mouth of the Strymon in Thrace.