Hellenica (Xenophon)/Book 2/Chapter 4

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1So Theramenes met his death; and, now that this obstacle was removed, the Thirty, feeling that they had it in their power to play the tyrant without fear, issued an order forbidding all, whose names were not on the list, to set foot within the city. Retirement in the country districts was no protection, thither the prosecutor followed them, and thence dragged them, that their farms and properties might fall to the possession of the Thirty and their friends. Even Piraeus was not safe; of those who sought refuge there, many were driven forth in similar fashion, until Megara and Thebes overflowed with the crowd of refugees.

2Presently Thrasybulus, with about seventy followers, sallied out from Thebes, and made himself master of the fortress of Phyle.[1] The weather was brilliant, and the Thirty marched out of the city to repel the invader; with them were the Three Thousand and the Knights. When they reached the place, some of the young men, in the foolhardiness of youth, made a dash at the fortress, but without effect; all they got was wounds, and so retired. 3The intention of the Thirty now was to blockade the place; by shutting off all the avenues of supplies, they thought to force the garrison to capitulate. But this project was interrupted by a steady downfall of snow that night and the following day. Baffled by this all-pervading enemy they beat a retreat to the city, but not without the sacrifice of many of their camp-followers, who fell a prey to the men in Phyle. 4The next anxiety of the government in Athens was to secure the farms and country houses against the plunderings and forays to which they would be exposed, if there were no armed force to protect them. With this object a protecting force was despatched to the "boundary estates,"[2]about two miles south of Phyle. This corps consisted of the Lacedaemonian guards, or nearly all of them, and two divisions of horse.[3]They encamped in a wild and broken district, and the round of their duties commenced.

5But by this time the small garrison above them had increased tenfold, until there were now something like seven hundred men collected in Phyle; and with these Thrasybulus one night descended. When he was not quite half a mile from the enemy's encampment he grounded arms, 6and a deep silence was maintained until it drew towards day. In a little while the men opposite, one by one, were getting to their legs or leaving the camp for necessary purposes, while a suppressed din and murmur arose, caused by the grooms currying and combing their horses. This was the moment for Thrasybulus and his men to snatch up their arms and make a dash at the enemy's position. Some they felled on the spot; and routing the whole body, pursued them six or seven furlongs, killing one hundred and twenty hoplites and more. Of the cavalry, Nicostratus, "the beautiful," as men called him, and two others besides were slain; they were caught while still in their beds. 7Returning from the pursuit, the victors set up a trophy, got together all the arms they had taken, besides baggage, and retired again to Phyle. A reinforcement of horse sent from the city could not discover the vestige of a foe; but waited on the scene of battle until the bodies of the slain had been picked up by their relatives, when they withdrew again to the city.

8After this the Thirty, who had begun to realise the insecurity of their position, were anxious to appropriate Eleusis, so that an asylum might be ready for them against the day of need. With this view an order was issued to the Knights; and Critias, with the rest of the Thirty, visited Eleusis. There they held a review of the Eleusians in the presence of the Knights;[4]and, on the pretext of wishing to discover how many they were, and how large a garrison they would further require, they ordered the townsfolk to enter their names. As each man did so he had to retire by a postern leading to the sea. But on the sea-beach this side there were lines of cavalry drawn up in waiting, and as each man appeared he was handcuffed by the satellites of the Thirty. When all had so been seized and secured, they gave orders to Lysimachus, the commander of the cavalry, to take them off to the city and deliver them over to the Eleven. 9Next day they summoned the heavy armed who were on the list, and the rest of the Knights[5]to the Odeum, and Critias rose and addressed them. He said: "Sirs, the constitution, the lines of which we are laying down, is a work undertaken in your interests no less than ours; it is incumbent on you therefore to participate in its dangers, even as you will partake of its honours. We expect you therefore, in reference to these Eleusians here, who have been seized and secured, to vote their condemnation, so that our hopes and fears may be identical." Then, pointing to a particular spot, he said peremptorily, "You will please deposit your votes there within sight of all." 10It must be understood that the Laconian guards were present at the time, and armed to the teeth, and filling one-half of the Odeum. As to the proceedings themselves, they found acceptance with those members of the State, besides the Thirty, who could be satisfied with a simple policy of self-aggrandisement.

But now Thrasybulus at the head of his followers, by this time about one thousand strong, descended from Phyle and reached Piraeus in the night. The Thirty, on their side, informed of this new move, were not slow to rally to the rescue, with the Laconian guards, supported by their own cavalry and hoplites. And so they advanced, marching down along the broad carriage road which leads into Piraeus. 11The men from Phyle seemed at first inclined to dispute their passage, but as the wide circuit of the walls needed a defence beyond the reach of their still scanty numbers, they fell back in a compact body upon Munychia.[6]Then the troops from the city poured into the Agora of Hippodmus.[7]Here they formed in line, stretching along and filling the street which leads to the temple of Artemis and the Bendideum.[8]This line must have been at least fifty shields deep; and in this formation they at once began to march up. 12As to the men of Phyle, they too blocked the street at the opposite end, and facing the foe. They presented only a thin line, not more than ten deep, though behind these, certainly, were ranged a body of targeteers and light-armed javelin men, who were again supported by an artillery of stone- throwers--a tolerably numerous division drawn from the population of the port and district itself. While his antagonists were still advancing, Thrasybulus gave the order to ground their heavy shields, and having done so himself, whilst retaining the rest of his arms, he stood in the midst, and thus addressed them: 13"Men and fellow-citizens, I wish to inform some, and to remind others of you, that of the men you see advancing beneath us there, the right division are the very men we routed and pursued only five days ago; while on the extreme left there you see the Thirty. These are the men who have not spared to rob us of our city, though we did no wrong; who have hounded us from our homes; who have set the seal of proscription on our dearest friends. But to-day the wheel of fortune has revolved; that has come about which least of all they looked for, which most of all we prayed for. 14Here we stand with our good swords in our hands, face to face with our foes; and the gods themselves are with us, seeing that we were arrested in the midst of our peaceful pursuits; at any moment, whilst we supped, or slept, or marketed, sentence of banishment was passed upon us: we had done no wrong--nay, many of us were not even resident in the country. To-day, therefore, I repeat, the gods do visibly fight upon our side; the great gods, who raise a tempest even in the midst of calm for our benefit, and when we lay to our hand to fight, enable our little company to set up the trophy of victory over the multitude of our foes. 15On this day they have brought us hither to a place where the steep ascent must needs hinder our foes from reaching with lance or arrow further than our foremost ranks; but we with our volley of spears and arrows and stones cannot fail to reach them with terrible effect. Had we been forced to meet them vanguard to vanguard, on an equal footing, who could have been surprised? 16But as it is, all I say to you is, let fly your missiles with a will in right brave style. No one can miss his mark when the road is full of them. To avoid our darts they must be for ever ducking and skulking beneath their shields; but we will rain blows upon them in their blindness; we will leap upon them and lay them low. 17But, O sirs! let me call upon you so to bear yourselves that each shall be conscious to himself that victory was won by him and him alone. Victory--which, God willing, shall this day restore to us the land of our fathers, our homes, our freedom, and the rewards of civic life, our children, if children we have, our darlings, and our wives! Thrice happy those among us who as conquerors shall look upon this gladdest of all days. Nor less fortunate the man who falls to-day. Not all the wealth in the world shall purchase him a monument so glorious. At the right instant I will strike the keynote of the paean; then, with an invocation to the God of battle,[9]and in return for the wanton insults they put upon us, let us with one accord wreak vengeance on yonder men."

18Having so spoken, he turned round, facing the foemen, and kept quiet, for the order passed by the soothsayer enjoined on them, not to charge before one of their side was slain or wounded. "As soon as that happens," said the seer, "we will lead you onwards, and the victory shall be yours; but for myself, if I err not, death is waiting." 19And herein he spoke truly, for they had barely resumed their arms when he himself as though he were driven by some fatal hand, leapt out in front of the ranks, and so springing into the midst of the foe, was slain, and lies now buried at the passage of the Cephisus. But the rest were victorious, and pursued the routed enemy down to the level ground. There fell in this engagement, out of the number of the Thirty, Critias himself and Hippomachus, and with them Charmides,[10]the son of Glaucon, one of the ten archons in Piraeus, and of the rest about seventy men. The arms of the slain were taken; but, as fellow- citizens, the conquerors forebore to despoil them of their coats. This being done, they proceeded to give back the dead under cover of a truce, when the men, on either side, in numbers stept forward and conversed with one another. 20Then Cleocritus (he was the Herald of the Initiated,[11]a truly "sweet-voiced herald," if ever there was), caused a deep silence to reign, and addressed their late combatants as follows: "Fellow-citizens--Why do you drive us forth? why would you slay us? what evil have we wrought you at any time? or is it a crime that we have shared with you in the most solemn rites and sacrifices, and in festivals of the fairest: we have been companions in the chorus, the school, the army. We have braved a thousand dangers with you by land and sea in behalf of our common safety, our common liberty. 21By the gods of our fathers, by the gods of our mothers, by the hallowed names of kinship, intermarriage, comradeship, those three bonds which knit the hearts of so many of us, bow in reverence before God and man, and cease to sin against the land of our fathers: cease to obey these most unhallowed Thirty, who for the sake of private gain have in eight months slain almost more men than the Peloponnesians together in ten years of warfare. 22See, we have it in our power to live as citizens in peace; it is only these men, who lay upon us this most foul burthen, this hideous horror of fratricidal war, loathed of God and man. Ah! be well assured, for these men slain by our hands this day, ye are not the sole mourners. There are among them some whose deaths have wrung from us also many a bitter tear."

So he spoke, but the officers and leaders of the defeated army who were left, unwilling that their troops should listen to such topics at that moment, led them back to the city. 23But the next day the Thirty, in deep down-heartedness and desolation, sat in the council chamber. The Three Thousand, wherever their several divisions were posted, were everywhere a prey to discord. Those who were implicated in deeds of violence, and whose fears could not sleep, protested hotly that to yield to the party in Piraeus were preposterous. Those on the other hand who had faith in their own innocence, argued in their own minds, and tried to convince their neighbours that they could well dispense with most of their present evils. "Why yield obedience to these Thirty?" they asked, "Why assign to them the privilege of destroying the State?" In the end they voted a resolution to depose the government, and to elect another. This was a board of ten, elected one from each tribe.

24As to the Thirty, they retired to Eleusis; but the Ten, assisted by the cavalry officers, had enough to do to keep watch over the men in the city, whose anarchy and mutual distrust were rampant. The Knights did not return to quarters at night, but slept out in the Odeum, keeping their horses and shields close beside them; indeed the distrust was so great that from evening onwards they patrolled the walls on foot with their shields, and at break of day mounted their horses, at every moment fearing some sudden attack upon them by the men in Piraeus. These latter were now so numerous, and of so mixed a company, that it was difficult to find arms for all. 25Some had to be content with shields of wood, others of wicker-work, which they spent their time in coating with whitening. Before ten days had elapsed guarantees were given, securing full citizenship, with equality of taxation and tribute to all, even foreigners, who would take part in the fighting. Thus they were presently able to take the field, with large detachments both of heavy infantry and light-armed troops, besides a division of cavalry, about seventy in number. Their system was to push forward foraging parties in quest of wood and fruits, returning at nightfall to Piraeus. 26Of the city party no one ventured to take the field under arms; only, from time to time, the cavalry would capture stray pillagers from Piraeus or inflict some damage on the main body of their opponents. Once they fell in with a party belonging to the deme Aexone,[12]marching to their own farms in search of provisions. These, in spite of many prayers for mercy and the strong disapprobation of many of the knights, were ruthlessly slaughtered by Lysimachus, the general of cavalry. 27The men of Piraeus retaliated by putting to death a horseman, named Callistratus, of the tribe Leontis, whom they captured in the country. Indeed their courage ran so high at present that they even meditated an assault upon the city walls. And here perhaps the reader will pardon the record of a somewhat ingenious device on the part of the city engineer, who, aware of the enemy's intention to advance his batteries along the racecourse, which slopes from the Lyceum, had all the carts and waggons which were to be found laden with blocks of stone, each one a cartload in itself, and so sent them to deposit their freights "pele-mele" on the course in question. The annoyance created by these separate blocks of stone was enormous, and quite out of proportion to the simplicity of the contrivance.

28But it was to Lacedaemon that men's eyes now turned. The Thirty despatched one set of ambassadors from Eleusis, while another set representing the government of the city, that is to say the men on the list, was despatched to summon the Lacedaemonians to their aid, on the plea that the people had revolted from Sparta. At Sparta, Lysander, taking into account the possibility of speedily reducing the party in Piraeus by blockading them by land and sea, and so cutting them off from all supplies, supported the application, and negotiated the loan of one hundred talents[13]to his clients, backed by the appointment of himself as harmost on land, and of his brother, Libys, as admiral of the fleet. 29And so proceeding to the scene of action at Eleusis, he got together a large body of Peloponnesian hoplites, whilst his brother, the admiral, kept watch and ward by sea to prevent the importation of supplies into Piraeus by water. Thus the men in Piraeus were soon again reduced to their former helplessness, while the ardour of the city folk rose to a proportionally high pitch under the auspices of Lysander.

Things were progressing after this sort when King Pausanias intervened. Touched by a certain envy of Lysander--(who seemed, by a final stroke of achievement, about to reach the pinnacle of popularity, with Athens laid like a pocket dependency at his feet)-- the king persuaded three of the ephors to support him, and forthwith called out the ban. 30With him marched contingents of all the allied States, except the Boeotians and Corinthians. These maintained, that to undertake such an expedition against the Athenians, in whose conduct they saw nothing contrary to the treaty, was inconsistent with their oaths. But if that was the language held by them, the secret of their behaviour lay deeper; they seemed to be aware of a desire on the part of the Lacedaemonians to annex the soil of the Athenians and to reduce the state to vassalage. Pausanias encamped on the Halipedon,[14]as the sandy flat is called, with his right wing resting on Piraeus, and Lysander and his mercenaries forming the left. 31His first act was to send an embassage to the party in Piraeus, calling upon them to retire peacably to their homes; when they refused to obey, he made, as far as mere noise went, the semblance of an attack, with sufficient show of fight to prevent his kindly disposition being too apparent. But gaining nothing by the feint, he was forced to retire. Next day he took two Laconian regiments, with three tribes of Athenian horse, and crossed over to the Mute[15]Harbour, examining the lie of the ground to discover how and where it would be easiest to draw lines of circumvallation round Piraeus. 32As he turned his back to retire, a party of the enemy sallied out and caused him annoyance. Nettled at the liberty, he ordered the cavalry to charge at the gallop, supported by the ten-year-service[16]infantry, whilst he himself, with the rest of the troops, followed close, holding quietly back in reserve. They cut down about thirty of the enemy's light troops and pursued the rest hotly to the theatre in Piraeus. 33Here, as chance would have it, the whole light and heavy infantry of the Piraeus men were getting under arms; and in an instant their light troops rushed out and dashed at the assailants; thick and fast flew missiles of all sorts--javelins, arrows and sling stones. The Lacedaemonians finding the number of their wounded increasing every minute, and sorely called, slowly fell back step by step, eyeing their opponents. These meanwhile resolutely pressed on. Here fell Chaeron and Thibrachus, both polemarchs, here also Lacrates, an Olympic victor, and other Lacedaemonians, all of whom now lie entombed before the city gates in the Ceramicus.[17]

34Watching how matters went, Thrasybulus began his advance with the whole of his heavy infantry to support his light troops and quickly fell into line eight deep, acting as a screen to the rest of his troops. Pausanias, on his side, had retired, sorely pressed, about half a mile towards a bit of rising ground, where he sent orders to the Lacedaemonians and the other allied troops to bring up reinforcements. Here, on this slope, he reformed his troops, giving his phalanx the full depth, and advanced against the Athenians, who did not hesitate to receive him at close quarters, but presently had to give way; one portion being forced into the mud and clay at Halae,[18]while the others wavered and broke their line; one hundred and fifty of them were left dead on the field, 35whereupon Pausanias set up a trophy and retired. Not even so, were his feelings embittered against his adversary. On the contrary he sent secretly and instructed the men of Piraeus, what sort of terms they should propose to himself and the ephors in attendance. To this advice they listened. He also fostered a division in the party within the city. A deputation, acting on his orders, sought an audience of him and the ephors. It had all the appearance of a mass meeting. In approaching the Spartan authorities, they had no desire or occasion, they stated, to look upon the men of Piraeus as enemies, they would prefer a general reconciliation and the friendship of both sides with Lacedaemon. 36The propositions were favourably received, and by no less a person than Nauclidas. He was present as ephor, in accordance with the custom which obliges two members of that board to serve on all military expeditions with the king, and with his colleague shared the political views represented by Pausanias, rather than those of Lysander and his party. Thus the authorities were quite ready to despatch to Lacedaemon the representatives of Piraeus, carrying their terms of truce with the Lacedaemonians, as also two private individuals belonging to the city party, whose names were Cephisophon and Meletus. 37This double deputation, however, had no sooner set out to Lacedaemon than the "de facto" government of the city followed suit, by sending a third set of representatives to state on their behalf: that they were prepared to deliver up themselves and the fortifications in their possession to the Lacedaemonians, to do with them what they liked. "Are the men of Piraeus," they asked, "prepared to surrender Piraeus and Munychia in the same way? If they are sincere in their profession of friendship to Lacedaemon, they ought to do so." 38The ephors and the members of assembly at Sparta[19]gave audience to these several parties, and sent out fifteen commissioners to Athens empowered, in conjunction with Pausanias, to discover the best settlement possible. The terms[20]arrived at were that a general peace between the rival parties should be established, liberty to return to their own homes being granted to all, with the exception of the Thirty, the Eleven, and the Ten who had been governors in Piraeus; but a proviso was added, enabling any of the city party who feared to remain at Athens to find a home in Eleusis.

39And now that everything was happily concluded, Pausanias disbanded his army, and the men from Piraeus marched up under arms into the acropolis and offered sacrifice to Athena. When they were come down, the generals called a meeting of the Ecclesia,[21]and Thrasybulus made a speech in which, addressing the city party, he said: 40"Men of the city! I have one piece of advice I would tender to you; it is that you should learn to know yourselves, and towards the attainment of that self-knowledge I would have you make a careful computation of your good qualities and satisfy yourselves on the strength of which of these it is that you claim to rule over us. Is it that you are more just than ourselves? Yet the people, who are poorer--have never wronged you for the purposes of plunder; but you, whose wealth would outweight the whole of ours, have wrought many a shameful deed for the sake of gain. If, then, you have no monopoly of justice, can it be on the score of courage that you are warranted to hold your heads so high? 41If so, what fairer test of courage will you propose than the arbitrament of war--the war just ended? Or do you claim superiority of intelligence?--you, who with all your wealth of arms and walls, money and Peloponnesian allies, have been paralysed by men who had none of these things to aid them! Or is it on these Laconian friends of yours that you pride yourselves? What! when these same friends have dealt by you as men deal by vicious dogs. You know how that is. They put a heavy collar round the neck of the brutes and hand them over muzzled to their masters. So too have the Lacedaemonians handed you over to the people, this very people whom you have injured; and now they have turned their backs and are gone. But" (turning to the mass) "do not misconceive me. It is not for me, sirs, coldly to beg of you, in no respect to violate your solemn undertakings. 42I go further; I beg you, to crown your list of exploits by one final display of virtue. Show the world that you can be faithful to your oaths, and flawless in your conduct." By these and other kindred arguments he impressed upon them that there was no need for anarchy or disorder, seeing that there were the ancient laws ready for use. And so he broke up[22]the assembly.

43At this auspicious moment, then, they reappointed the several magistrates; the constitution began to work afresh, and civic life was recommenced. At a subsequent period, on receiving information that the party at Eleusis were collecting a body of mercenaries, they marched out with their whole force against them, and put to death their generals, who came out to parley. These removed, they introduced to the others their friends and connections, and so persuaded them to come to terms and be reconciled. The oath they bound themselves by consisted of a simple asseveration: "We will remember past offences no more;" and to this day[23]the two parties live amicably together as good citizens, and the democracy is steadfast to its oaths.

  1. "A strong fortress (the remains of which still exist) commanding the narrow pass across Mount Parnes, through which runs the direct road from Thebes to Athens, past Acharnae. The precipitous rock on which it stands can only be approached by a ridge on the eastern side. The height commands a magnificent view of the whole Athenian plain, of the city itself, of Mount Hymettus, and the Saronic Gulf,"--"Dict. of Geog., The demi of the Diacria and Mount Parnes."
  2. Cf. Boeckh, "P. E. A." p. 63, Eng. ed.
  3. Lit. tribes, each of the ten tribes furnishing about one hundred horse.
  4. Or, "in the cavalry quarters," cf. {en tois ikhthusin} = in the fish market. Or, "at the review of the horse."
  5. For the various Odeums at Athens vide Prof. Jebb, "Theophr." xviii. 235, 236. The one here named was near the fountain Callirhoe by the Ilissus.
  6. The citadel quarter of Piraeus.
  7. Named after the famous architect Hippodamus, who built the town. It was situated near where the two long walls joined the wall of Piraeus; a broad street led from it up to the citadel of Munychia.
  8. I.e. the temple of Bendis (the Thracian Artemis). Cf. Plat. "Rep." 327, 354; and Prof. Jowett, "Plato," vol. iii. pp. 193, 226.
  9. Lit. "Enyalius," in Homer an epithet of Ares; at another date (cf. Aristoph. "Peace," 456) looked upon as a distinct divinity.
  10. He was cousin to Critias, and uncle by the mother's side to Plato, who introduces him in the dialogue, which bears his name (and treats of Temperance), as a very young man at the beginning of the Peloponnesian War. We hear more of him also from Xenophon himself in the "Memorabilia," iii. 6. 7; and as one of the interlocutors in the "Symposium."
  11. I.e. of the Eleusinian mysteries. He had not only a loud voice, but a big body. Cf. Aristoph. "Frogs," 1237.
  12. On the coast south of Phalerum, celebrated for its fisheries. Cf. "Athen." vii. 325.
  13. 24,375 pounds, reckoning one tal. = 243 pounds 15 shillings.
  14. The Halipedon is the long stretch of flat sandy land between Piraeus Phalerum and the city.
  15. Perhaps the landlocked creek just round the promontory of Eetioneia, as Leake conjectures, "Topog. of Athens," p. 389. See also Prof. Jowett's note, "Thuc." v. 2; vol. ii. p. 286.
  16. I.e. who had already seen ten years of service, i.e. over twenty- eight, as the Spartan was eligible to serve at eighteen. Cf. Xen. "Hell." III. iv. 23; VI. iv. 176.
  17. The outer Ceramicus, "the most beautiful spot outside the walls." Cf. Thuc. ii. 34; through it passes the street of the tombs on the sacred road; and here was the place of burial for all persons honoured with a public funeral. Cf. Arist. "The Birds," 395.
  18. Halae, the salt marshy ground immediately behind the great harbour of Piraeus, but outside the fortification lines.
  19. Cf. "Hell." VI. iii. 3, {oi ekkletoi}.
  20. Cf. Prof. Jebb, "Orators," i. 262, note 2.
  21. I.e. the Public Assembly, see above; and reading with Sauppe after Cobet {ekklesian epoiesan}, which words are supposed to have dropt out of the MSS. Or, keeping to the MSS., translate "When the generals were come down, Thrasybulus," etc. See next note.
  22. The Greek words are {antestese ten ekklesian} (an odd phrase for the more technical {eluse} or {dieluse ten ekklesian}). Or, accepting the MSS. reading above (see last note), translate "he set up (i.e. restored) the Assembly." So Mr. J. G. Philpotts, Mr. Herbert Hailstone, and others.
  23. It would be interesting to know the date at which the author penned these words. Was this portion of the "Hellenica" written before the expedition of Cyrus? i.e. in the interval between the formal restoration of the Democracy, September B.C. 403, and March B.C. 401. The remaining books of the "Hellenica" were clearly written after that expedition, since reference is made to it quite early in Bk. III. i. 2. Practically, then, the first volume of Xenophon's "History of Hellenic Affairs" ends here. This history is resumed in Bk. III. i. 3. after the Cyreian expedition [of which episode we have a detailed account in the "Anabasis" from March B.C. 401 down to March B.C. 399, when the remnant of the Ten Thousand was handed over to the Spartan general Thibron in Asia]. Some incidents belonging to B.C. 402 are referred to in the opening paragraphs of "Hellenica," III. i. 1, 2, but only as an introduction to the new matter; and with regard to the historian himself, it is clear that "a change has come o'er the spirit of his dream." This change of view is marked by a change of style in writing. I have thought it legitimate, under the circumstances, to follow the chronological order of events, and instead of continuing the "Hellenica," at this point to insert the "Anabasis." My next volume will contain the remaining books of the "Hellenica" and the rest of Xenophon's "historical" writings.