Hellenica (Xenophon)/Book 2/Chapter 1

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Hellenica (Xenophon) by Xenophon, translated by H. G. Dakyns
Book 2, Chapter 1

1To return to Eteonicus and his troops in Chios. During summer they were well able to support themselves on the fruits of the season, or by labouring for hire in different parts of the island, but with the approach of winter these means of subsistence began to fail. Ill-clad at the same time, and ill-shod, they fell to caballing and arranging plans to attack the city of Chios. It was agreed amongst them, that in order to guage their numbers, every member of the conspiracy should carry a reed.

2Eteonicus got wind of the design, but was at a loss how to deal with it, considering the number of these reed-bearers. To make an open attack upon them seemed dangerous. It would probably lead to a rush to arms, in which the conspirators would seize the city and commence hostilities, and, in the event of their success, everything hitherto achieved would be lost. Or again, the destruction on his part of many fellow-creatures and allies was a terrible alternative, which would place the Spartans in an unenviable light with regard to the rest of Hellas, and render the soldiers ill-disposed to the cause in hand.

3Accordingly he took with him fifteen men, armed with daggers, and marched through the city. Falling in with one of the reed-bearers, a man suffering from ophthalmia, who was returning from the surgeon's house, he put him to death.

4This led to some uproar, and people asked why the man was thus slain. By Eteonicus's orders the answer was set afloat, "because he carried a reed." As the explanation circulated, one reed-bearer after another threw away the symbol, each one saying to himself, as he heard the reason given, "I have better not be seen with this."

5After a while Eteonicus called a meeting of the Chians, and imposed upon them a contribution of money, on the ground that with pay in their pockets the sailors would have no temptation to revolutionary projects. The Chians acquiesced. Whereupon Eteonicus promptly ordered his crews to get on board their vessels. He then rowed alongside each ship in turn, and addressed the men at some length in terms of encouragement and cheery admonition, just as though he knew nothing of what had taken place, and so distributed a month's pay to every man on board.

6After this the Chians and the other allies held a meeting in Ephesus, and, considering the present posture of affairs, determined to send ambassadors to Lacedaemon with a statement of the facts, and a request that Lysander might be sent out to take command of the fleet. Lysander's high reputation among the allies dated back to his former period of office, when as admiral he had won the naval victory of Notium.

7The ambassadors accordingly were despatched, accompanied by envoys also from Cyrus, charged with the same message. The Lacedaemonians responded by sending them Lysander as second in command,[1] with Aracus as admiral, since it was contrary to their custom that the same man should be admiral twice. At the same time the fleet was entrusted to Lysander.[2]

8It was in this year[3] that Cyrus put Autoboesaces and Mitraeus to death. These were sons of the sister of Dariaeus[4] (the daughter of Xerxes, the father of Darius).[5] He put them to death for neglecting, when they met him, to thrust their hands into the sleeve (or "kore") which is a tribute of respect paid to the king alone. This "kore" is longer than the ordinary sleeve, so long in fact that a man with his hand inside is rendered helpless.

9In consequence of this act on the part of Cyrus, Hieramenes[6] and his wife urged upon Dariaeus the danger of overlooking such excessive insolence on the part of the young prince, and Dariaeus, on the plea of sickness, sent a special embassy to summon Cyrus to his bedside.

10In the following year[7] Lysander arrived at Ephesus, and sent for Eteonicus with his ships from Chios, and collected all other vessels elsewhere to be found. His time was now devoted to refitting the old ships and having new ones built in Antandrus.

11He also made a journey to the court of Cyrus with a request for money. All Cyrus could say was, that not only the money sent by the king was spent, but much more besides; and he pointed out the various sums which each of the admirals had received, but at the same time he gave him what he asked for.

12Furnished with this money, Lysander appointed captains to the different men-of-war, and remitted to the sailors their arrears of pay. Meanwhile the Athenian generals, on their side, were devoting their energies to the improvements of their navy at Samos.

13It was now Cyrus's turn to send for Lysander. It was the moment at which the envoy from his father had arrived with the message: "Your father is on his sick-bed and desires your presence." The king lay at Thamneria, in Media, near the territory of the Cadusians, against whom he had marched to put down a revolt.

14When Lysander presented himself, Cyrus was urgent with him not to engage the Athenians at sea unless he had many more ships than they. "The king," he added, "and I have plenty of wealth, so that, as far as money goes, you can man plenty of vessels." He then consigned to him all the tributes from the several cities which belonged to him personally, and gave him the ready money which he had as a gift; and finally, reminding him of the sincere friendship he entertained towards the state of Lacedaemon, as well as to himself personally, he set out up country to visit his father.

15Lysander, finding himself thus left with the complete control of the property of Cyrus (during the absence of that prince, so summoned to the bedside of his father), was able to distribute pay to his troops, after which he set sail for the Ceramic Gulf of Caria. Here he stormed a city in alliance with the Athenians named Cedreae, and on the following day's assault took it, and reduced the inhabitants to slavery. These were of a mixed Hellene and barbaric stock.

16From Cedreae he continued his voyage to Rhodes. The Athenians meanwhile, using Samos as their base of operations, were employed in devastating the king's territory, or in swooping down upon Chios and Ephesus, and in general were preparing for a naval battle, having but lately chosen three new generals in addition to those already in office, whose names were Menander, Tydeus, and Cephisodotus.

17Now Lysander, leaving Rhodes, and coasting along Ionia, made his way to the Hellespont, having an eye to the passage of vessels through the Straits, and, in a more hostile sense, on the cities which had revolted from Sparta. The Athenians also set sail from Chios, but stood out to open sea,

18since the seaboard of Asia was hostile to them. Lysander was again on the move; leaving Abydos, he passed up channel to Lampsacus, which town was allied with Athens; the men of Abydos and the rest of the troops advancing by land, under the command of the Lacedaemonian Thorax.

19They then attacked and took by storm the town, which was wealthy, and with its stores of wine and wheat and other commodities was pillaged by the soldiery. All free-born persons, however, were without exception released by Lysander.

20And now the Athenian fleet, following close on his heels, came to moorings at Elaeus, in the Chersonesus, one hundred and eighty sail in all. It was not until they had reached this place, and were getting their early meal, that the news of what had happened at Lampsacus reached them.

21Then they instantly set sail again to Sestos, and, having halted long enough merely to take in stores, sailed on further to Aegospotami, a point facing Lampsacus, where the Hellespont is not quite two miles[8] broad. Here they took their evening meal.

22The night following, or rather early next morning, with the first streak of dawn, Lysander gave the signal for the men to take their breakfasts and get on board their vessels; and so, having got all ready for a naval engagement, with his ports closed and movable bulwarks attached, he issued the order that no one was to stir from his post or put out to sea.

23As the sun rose the Athenians drew up their vessels facing the harbour, in line of battle ready for action; but Lysander declining to come out to meet them, as the day advanced they retired again to Aegospotami.

24Then Lysander ordered the swiftest of his ships to follow the Athenians, and as soon as the crews had disembarked, to watch what they did, sail back, and report to him. Until these look-outs returned he would permit no disembarkation from his ships. This performance he repeated for four successive days, and each day the Athenians put out to sea and challenged an engagement.

25But now Alcibiades, from one of his fortresses, could espy the position of his fellow-countrymen, moored on an open beach beyond reach of any city, and forced to send for supplies to Sestos, which was nearly two miles distant, while their enemies were safely lodged in a harbour, with a city adjoining, and everything within reach. The situation did not please him, and he advised them to shift their anchorage to Sestos, where they would have the advantage of a harbour and a city. "Once there," he concluded, "you can engage the enemy whenever it suits you."

26But the generals, and more particularly Tydeus and Menander, bade him go about his business. "We are generals now-- not you," they said; and so he went away.

27And now for five days in succession the Athenians had sailed out to offer battle, and for the fifth time retired, followed by the same swift sailors of the enemy. But this time Lysander's orders to the vessels so sent in pursuit were, that as soon as they saw the enemy's crew fairly disembarked and dispersed along the shores of the Chersonesus (a practice, it should be mentioned, which had grown upon them from day to day owing to the distance at which eatables had to be purchased, and out of sheer contempt, no doubt, of Lysander, who refused to accept battle), they were to begin their return voyage, and when in mid-channel to hoist a shield. The orders were punctually carried out,

28and Lysander at once signalled to his whole squadron to put across with all speed, while Thorax, with the land forces, was to march parallel with the fleet along the coast. Aware of the enemy's fleet, which he could see bearing down upon him, Conon had only time to signal to the crews to join their ships and rally to the rescue with all their might. But the men were scattered far and wide, and some of the vessels had only two out of their three banks of rowers, some only a single one, while others again were completely empty. Conon's own ship, with seven others in attendance on him and the "Paralus,"[9] put out to sea, a little cluster of nine vessels, with their full complement of men; but every one of the remaining one hundred and seventy-one vessels were captured by Lysander on the beach. As to the men themselves, the large majority of them were easily made prisoners on shore, a few only escaping to the small fortresses of the neighbourhood.

29Meanwhile Conon and his nine vessels made good their escape. For himself, knowing that the fortune of Athens was ruined, he put into Abarnis, the promontory of Lampsacus, and there picked up the great sails of Lysander's ships, and then with eight ships set sail himself to seek refuge with Evagoras in Cyprus, while the "Paralus" started for Athens with tidings of what had taken place.

30Lysander, on his side, conveyed the ships and prisoners and all other spoil back to Lampsacus, having on board some of the Athenian generals, notably Philocles and Adeimantus. On the very day of these achievements he despatched Theopompus, a Milesian privateersman, to Lacedaemon to report what had taken place. This envoy arrived within three days and delivered his message.

31Lysander's next step was to convene the allies and bid them deliberate as to the treatment of the prisoners. Many were the accusations here levied against the Athenians. There was talk of crimes committed against the law of Hellas, and of cruelties sanctioned by popular decrees; which, had they conquered in the late sea-fight, would have been carried out; such as the proposal to cut off the right hand of every prisoner taken alive, and lastly the ill-treatment of two captured men-of-war, a Corinthian and an Andrian vessel, when every man on board had been hurled headlong down the cliff. Philocles was the very general of the Athenians who had so ruthlessly destroyed those men.

32Many other tales were told; and at length a resolution was passed to put all the Athenian prisoners, with the exception of Adeimantus, to death. He alone, it was pleaded, had taken exception to the proposal to cut off the prisoners' hands. On the other hand, he was himself accused by some people of having betrayed the fleet. As to Philocles, Lysander put to him one question, as the officer who had thrown[10] the Corinthians and Andrians down the cliff: What fate did the man deserve to suffer who had embarked on so cruel a course of illegality against Hellenes? and so delivered him to the executioner.

  1. Epistoleus. See above.
  2. "At this date the war had lasted five-and-twenty years." So the MSS. read. The words are probably an interpolation.
  3. B.C. 406.
  4. Dariaeus, i.e. Darius, but the spelling of the name is correct, and occurs in Ctesias, though in the "Anabasis" we have the spelling Darius.
  5. These words look like the note of a foolish and ignorant scribe. He ought to have written, "The daughter of Artaxerxes and own sister of Darius, commonly so called."
  6. For Hieramenes cf. Thuc. viii. 95, and Prof. Jowett ad loc.
  7. The MSS. add "during the ephorate of Archytas and the archonship at Athens of Alexias," which, though correct enough, is probably an interpolation.
  8. Lit. fifteen stades.
  9. The "Paralus"--the Athenian sacred vessel; cf. Thuc. iii. 33 et passim.
  10. Reading {os . . . katekremnise}.