Hellenica (Xenophon)/Book 6/Chapter 3

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1The Athenians, forced to witness the expatriation from Boeotia of their friends the Plataeans (who had sought an asylum with themselves), forced also to listen to the supplications of the Thespiaeans (who begged them not to suffer them to be robbed of their city), could no longer regard the Thebans with favour;[1] though, when it came to a direct declaration of war, they were checked in part by a feeling of shame, and partly by considerations of expediency. Still, to go hand in hand with them, to be a party to their proceedings, this they absolutely refused, now that they saw them marching against time- honoured friends of the city like the Phocians, and blotting out states whose loyalty in the great Persian war was conspicuous no less than their friendship to Athens. 2Accordingly the People passed a decree to make peace; but in the first instance they sent an embassy to Thebes, inviting that state to join them if it pleased them on an embassy which they proposed to send to Lacedaemon to treat of peace. In the next place they despatched such an embassy on their own account. Among the commissioners appointed were Callias the son of Hipponicus, Autocles the son of Strombichides, Demostratus the son of Aristophon, Aristocles, Cephisodotus,[2] Melanopus, and Lycaethus.

B.C. 371. [These were formally introduced to the Deputies of the Lacedaemonians and the allies.[3]] 3Nor ought the name of Callistratus to be omitted. That statesman and orator was present. He had obtained furlough from Iphicrates on an undertaking either to send money for the fleet or to arrange a peace. Hence his arrival in Athens and transactions in behalf of peace. After being introduced to the assembly[4] of the Lacedaemonians and to the allies, Callias,[5] who was the dadouchos (or torch-holder) in the mysteries, made the first speech. He was a man just as well pleased to praise himself as to hear himself praised by others. He opened the proceedings as follows:

4"Lacedaemonians, the duty of representing you as proxenos at Athens is a privilege which I am not the first member of my family to enjoy; my father's father held it as an heirloom of our family and handed it down as a heritage to his descendants. If you will permit me, I should like to show you the disposition of my fatherland towards yourselves. If in times of war she chooses us as her generals, so when her heart is set upon quiet she sends us out as her messengers of peace. I myself have twice already[6] stood here to treat for conclusion of war, and on both embassies succeeded in arranging a mutually agreeable peace. Now for the third time I am come, and I flatter myself that to- day again I shall obtain a reconciliation, and on grounds exceptionally just. 5My eyes bear witness that our hearts are in accord; you and we alike are pained at the effacement of Plataeae and Thespiae. Is it not then reasonable that out of agreement should spring concord rather than discord? It is never the part, I take it, of wise men to raise the standard of war for the sake of petty differences; but where there is nothing but unanimity they must be marvellous folk who refuse the bond of peace. But I go further. 6It were just and right on our parts even to refuse to bear arms against each other; since, as the story runs, the first strangers to whom our forefather Triptolemus showed the unspeakable mystic rites of Demeter and Core, the mother and the maiden, were your ancestors;--I speak of Heracles, the first founder of your state, and of your two citizens, the great twin sons of Zeus--and to Peloponnesus first he gave as a gift the seed of Demeter's corn-fruits. How, then, can it be just or right either that you should come and ravage the corn crops of those from whom you got the sacred seed of corn, or that we should not desire that they to whom the gift was given should share abundantly of this boon? But if, as it would seem, it is a fixed decree of heaven that war shall never cease among men, yet ought we--your people and our people--to be as slow as possible to begin it, and being in it, as swift as possible to bring it to an end."

7After him Autocles[7] spoke: he was of repute as a versatile lawyer and orator, and addressed the meeting as follows: "Lacedaemonians, I do not conceal from myself that what I am about to say is not calculated to please you, but it seems to me that, if you wish the friendship which we are cementing to last as long as possible, we are wise to show each other the underlying causes of our wars. Now, you are perpetually saying that the states ought to be independent; but it is you yourselves who most of all stand in the way of independence-- your first and last stipulation with the allied states being that they should follow you whithersoever you choose to lead; and yet what has this principle of follow-my-leader got to do with independent action?[8] 8Again, you pick quarrels without consulting your allies, and lead them against those whom you account enemies; so that in many cases, with all their vaunted independence, they are forced to march against their greatest friends; and, what is still more opposed to independence than all else, you are for ever setting up here your decarchies and there your thirty commissioners, and your chief aim in appointing these officers and governors seems to be, not that they should fulfil their office and govern legally, but that they should be able to keep the cities under their heels by sheer force. So that it looks as if you delighted in despotisms rather than free constitutions. 9Let us go back to the date[9] at which the Persian king enjoined the independence of the states. At that time you made no secret of your conviction that the Thebans, if they did not suffer each state to govern itself and to use the laws of its own choice, would be failing to act in the spirit of the king's rescript. But no sooner had you got hold of Cadmeia than you would not suffer the Thebans themselves to be independent. Now, if the maintenance of friendship be an object, it is no use for people to claim justice from others while they themselves are doing all they can to prove the selfishness of their aims."

10These remarks were received in absolute silence, yet in the hearts of those who were annoyed with Lacedaemon they stirred pleasure. After Autocles spoke Callistratus: "Trespasses, men of Lacedaemon, have been committed on both sides, yours and ours, I am free to confess; but still it is not my view that because a man has done wrong we can never again have dealings with him. Experience tells me that no man can go very far without a slip, and it seems to me that sometimes the transgressor by reason of his transgression becomes more tractable, especially if he be chastened through the error he has committed, as has been the case with us. 11And so on your own case I see that ungenerous acts have sometimes reaped their own proper reward: blow has been met by counter-blow; and as a specimen I take the seizure of the Cadmeia in Thebes. To-day, at any rate, the very cities whose independence you strove for have, since your unrighteous treatment of Thebes, fallen one and all of them again into her power.[10] We are schooled now, both of us, to know that grasping brings not gain. We are prepared, I hope, to be once more moderate under the influence of a mutual friendship. 12Some, I know, in their desire to render our peace[11] abortive accuse us falsely, as though we were come hither, not seeking friendship, but because we dread the arrival of some[12] Antalcidas with moneys from the king. But consider, what arrant nonsense they talk! Was it not, pray, the great king who demanded that all the states in Hellas should be independent? and what have we Athenians, who are in full agreement with the king, both in word and deed, to fear from him? Or is it conceivable that he prefers spending money in making others great to finding his favourite projects realised without expense?

13"Well! what is it really that has brought us here? No especial need or difficulty in our affairs. That you may discover by a glance at our maritime condition, or, if you prefer, at the present posture of our affairs on land. Well, then, how does the matter stand? It is obvious that some of our allies please us no better than they please you;[13] and, possibly, in return for your former preservation of us, we may be credited with a desire to point out to you the soundness of our policy.

14"But, to revert once more to the topic of expediency and common interests. It is admitted, I presume, that, looking at the states collectively, half support your views, half ours; and in every single state one party is for Sparta and another for Athens. Suppose, then, we were to shake hands, from what quarter can we reasonably anticipate danger and trouble? To put the case in so many words, so long as you are our friends no one can vex us by land; no one, whilst we are your supports, can injure you by sea. 15Wars like tempests gather and grow to a head from time to time, and again they are dispelled. That we all know. Some future day, if not to-day, we shall crave, both of us, for peace. Why, then, need we wait for that moment, holding on until we expire under the multitude of our ills, rather than take time by the forelock and, before some irremediable mischief betide, make peace? 16I cannot admire the man who, because he has entered the lists and has scored many a victory and obtained to himself renown, is so eaten up with the spirit of rivalry that he must needs go on until he is beaten and all his training is made futile. Nor again do I praise the gambler who, if he makes one good stroke of luck, insists on doubling the stakes. 17Such conduct in the majority of cases must end in absolute collapse. Let us lay the lesson of these to heart, and forbear to enter into any such lists as theirs for life or death; but, while we are yet in the heyday of our strength and fortune, shake hands in mutual amity. So assuredly shall we through you and you through us attain to an unprecedented pinnacle of glory throughout Hellas."

18The arguments of the speakers were approved, and the Lacedaemonians passed a resolution to accept peace on a threefold basis: the withdrawal of the governors from the cities,[14] the disbanding of armaments naval and military, and the guarantee of independence to the states. "If any state transgressed these stipulations, it lay at the option of any power whatsoever to aid the states so injured, while, conversely, to bring such aid was not compulsory on any power against its will." 19On these terms the oaths were administered and accepted by the Lacedaemonians on behalf of themselves and their allies, and by the Athenians and their allies separately state by state. The Thebans had entered their individual name among the states which accepted the oaths, but their ambassadors came the next day with instructions to alter the name of the signatories, substituting for Thebans Boeotians.[15] But Agesilaus answered to this demand that he would alter nothing of what they had in the first instance sworn to and subscribed. If they did not wish to be included in the treaty, he was willing to erase their name at their bidding. 20So it came to pass that the rest of the world made peace, the sole point of dispute being confined to the Thebans; and the Athenians came to the conclusion that there was a fair prospect of the Thebans being now literally decimated.[16] As to the Thebans themselves, they retired from Sparta in utter despondency.

  1. Plataea destroyed in B.C. 373. See Jowett, "Thuc." ii. 397.
  2. See below, "Hell." VII. i. 12; Hicks, 87.
  3. The bracketed words read like an annotator's comment, or possibly they are a note by the author.
  4. See above, "Hell." II. iv. 38.
  5. See above, "Hell." IV. v. 13; Cobet, "Prosop. Xen." p. 67 foll.; Xen. "Symp."; Plat. "Protag."; Andoc. "de Myst." If this is one and the same person he must have been an elderly man at this date, 371 B.C.
  6. B.C. 387 and 374; see Curtius, "H. G." vol. iv. p. 376 (Eng. ed.)
  7. For the political views of Autocles, see Curtius, "H. G." iv. 387, v. 94 (Eng. tr.); see also Grote, "H. G." x. 225.
  8. Or, "what consistency is there between these precepts of yours and political independence?"
  9. Sixteen years before--B.C. 387. See "Pol. Lac." xiv. 5.
  10. Reading, with Breitenbach and Hartman, {as} instead of {os espoudasate k.t.l.}
  11. Or, more lit. "to avert the peace" as an ill-omened thing.
  12. Without inserting {tis}, as Hartman proposes ("An. Xen." p. 387), that, I think, is the sense. Antalcidas is the arch-diplomat--a name to conjure with, like that of Bismarck in modern European politics. But see Grote, "H. G." x. 213, note 2.
  13. See, for this corrupt passage, Otto Keller, op. cit. p. 219; Hartman, op. cit. p. 387; and Breitenbach, n. ad loc. In the next sentence I should like to adopt Hartman's emendation (ib.) {on orthos egnote} for the MSS. {a orthos egnomen}, and translate "we may like to prove to you the soundness of your policy at the time." For the "preservation" referred to, see below, VI. v. 35, and above, II. ii. 20.
  14. Grote ("H. G." x. 236) thinks that Diod. xv. 38 ({exagogeis}) belongs to this time, not to the peace between Athens and Sparta in 374 B.C.
  15. See, for a clear explanation of the matter, Freeman, "Hist. Red. Gov." iv. p. 175, note 3, in reference to Grote, ib. x. 231 note, and Paus. IX. xiii. 2; Plut. "Ages." 28; Thirlwall, "H. G." v. p 69 note.
  16. Or, "as the saying is, taken and tithed." See below, VI. v. 35, and for the origin of the saying, Herod. vii. 132.