Historical Library/Book XIV/Chapter VI

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Chapter VI[edit]

Thrasybulus opposes the thirty tyrants. The cruelty of Psammetichus, king of Egypt, towards his old friend Tamos, that fled to him for succour from the Persians. Dercyllidas sent general against the Persians into Asia. Conon made admiral of the Persian fleet.

IN the mean time the usurping tyrants at Athens every day were banishing or putting to death some or another. At which cruelty, while the Thebans were much incensed, and courteously entertained the exiles, Thrasybulus, surnamed Tyrius, (but a citizen of Athens, and forced to fly to avoid the rage of the thirty usurpers), by the aid of the Thebans, underhandedly possessed himself of a place in Attica, called Phila. It was a very strong castle, a hundred stages distant from Athens; by which means an easy passage might be had at all times to invade Attica.

As soon as the tyrants had intelligence of what was done, they led forth their forces in order to besiege the place; but as soon as they were set down before it, there fell a great snow; whereupon, while some were very busy in removing their tents, the common soldiers concluded that some of their army was put to flight by an enemy at hand, that had broke in suddenly upon them; upon which being struck with a panic fear, they drew off and encamped in another place. The thirty, when they saw the citizens of Athens (those that had no share in the administration of the commonwealth with the three thousand) to be hot and earnest to dissolve the government, encamped in the Piræus, and over-awed the city with foreign soldiers; and in the mean time put to death some of the inhabitants of Eleusis and Slamis, for joining in a conspiracy with the exiles.

Whilst these things were going on, great numbers of fugitives flocked to the camp of Thrasybulus, and at the same time there came to him ambassadors from the thirty[1], under colour of treating concerning some prisoners, but in truth privately to advise him to dismiss the fugitives, and to share with them in the government of the city in the room of Theramenes, and that he should have liberty to restore any ten of the exiles to their country, such as he thought fit to choose. To which Thrasybulus answered—That he looked upon his banishment to be far more honourable than the whole power and dominion of the thirty, and that he would never put up his sword till all the citizens from every place were received, and the people restored to their former liberties, descended to them from their ancestors.

When the tyrants perceived the defection increased, through hatred of their tyranny, and that the number of the exiles increased, they sent ambassadors to Sparta to desire aid; and they themselves in the mean time got together what forces they could, and encamped at a place called Acarnas. Thrasybulus having but a small guard in the castle, marches out against them with twelve hundred of the exiles, and setting upon them in the night unawares, kills many of them, and the rest (being terrified with the tumult and confusion occasioned by the surprise) he forces in great precipitation to fly into the city. And presently after the success of this attack, he marches against the Piræus, and possesses himself of Munychia, a barren hill, but strong and well fortified. Upon this the tyrants brought all their forces into the Piræus, and assaulted Munychia by Critias their general; whereupon was a sharp encounter a long time; for the tyrants had the advantage of number, and the exiles of the strength of the place. At length the forces of the thirty (being discouraged and Critias slain) retired, but the exiles judged it not advisable to pursue them.   Frequent assaults were afterwards made upon the exiles; at length the army of Thrasybulus broke in on a sudden with great violence upon the enemy, and not only routed them, but gained possession of the Piræus.   A great multitude who hated the tyranny, continually flocked out of the city into the Piræus, and all the exiles from every place, hearing of the success of Thrasybulus, hastened thither to him, so that at length the number of the exiles exceeded the other; upon which encouragement they began to besiege the city. But they within, to the end a peace might be concluded upon fair terms, cast off the thirty, and sent them out of the city, and established a decemvirate with sovereign power. But as soon as these ten were settled in the magistracy, instead of minding any thing relating to the peace, they turned absolute tyrants, and sent to Lacedæmon for forty ships and a thousand soldiers, under the command of Lysander. Pausanias, then king of Lacedæmon, both out of envy to Lysander, and because he understood the rest of the Greeks had an evil eye against Sparta, marches with a great army to Athens, and reconciled the exiles and the citizens. Thus at length the Athenians were restored to their country, and now began to givern according to their own antient laws. Those that were afraid lest they should suffer due punishment for their former wickedness, had liberty to remove themselves to Eleusis.   About this time they of Elis, fearing the power of the Lacedæmonians, made peace with them upon these terms—That they should deliver their ships to the Lacedæmonians, and suffer the neighbouring cities to govern according to their own laws. And now Lacedæmon being at leisure and at peace with all her neighbours, prepares for war against them of Messena. Some of them then held a castle in Caphalenia, others inhabited in Naupactus, within the country of the Locrians, (called Hesperians), formerly given to them by the Athenians. But they cast them out of both, and restored the castle to the Cephalenians, and the other to the Locrians. The miserable Messnians (through the antient hatred of the Lacedæmonians) were expelled every where, and were forced to leave Greece, marching off with their arms; some of them went to Sicily, and inlisted themselves under Dionysius; others, to the number of three thousand, made to Cyrene, and joined other exiles there: for at that time a great sedition arose among the Cyrenians after Ariston, with some others, had possessed themselves of the city, by whom five hundred of the principal men of the city on a sudden were slain; upon which all the persons of quality fled out of the town. Hereupon the exiles of Cyrene joined with the Messenians, and marched in a body against them who kept the city: the parties engaged, and in the fight a great slaughter was made against the Cyrenians, and almost all the Messenians were cut off. After the fight, messengers were sent to and fro, and the matter at length was composed by the Curenians, among themselves, who engaged, by solemn oath one to another—That all injuries should be afterwards forever forgotten; so that they lived together from that time peaceably in the government of their commonwealth. About this time the Romans sent colonies to them called Ventras[2].   The year ended, Laches was made lord chancellor of Athens. At Rome the consular dignity was given again to military tribunes, Manlius Claudius, Marcus Quintius[3], Lucius Julius, Marcus Furius, and Lucius Valerius. Then was celebrated the ninety-fifth Olympiad in which Minos the Athenian was victor. At the same time, Artaxerxes king of Asia, after the defeat of Cyrus, sent Tissaphernes[4] to take into his care and charge all the governments on the sea-coasts; upon which the provinces and cities which had sided with Cyrus were greatly terrified, lest they should be punished for what they had done against the king; and therefore sought to qualify Tissapherenes by their messengers: and every one to the utmost of his power endeavoured to procure his favour. But Tamos, the chiefest of them, lord-lieutenant of Ionia, put his wealth and all his children on shipboard, (except one called Gaus, who was afterwards the king of Persia's general), out of fear of Tissaphernes, and went to Egypt for protection, to Psammetichus the king, (descended from the antient Psammetichus), whom he had formerly obliged by several good offices, and therefore hoped he should there find shelter and safe harbour, to secure him from the impending storm of the king's wrath. But Psammetichus neither valuing former benefits, nor regarding the law of nations to them in distress, (out of covetousness to gain the money and the ships), cut the throat of his friend and suppliant, and of all his children.   In the mean time, the Grecian cities throughout Asia, hearing of the descent of Tissaphernes, sent ambassadors to the Lacedæmonians, and earnestly entreated them that they would not suffer them to be utterly destroyed by the barbarians. Upon this they promised forthwith to send them aid, and by their ambassadors solicited Tissaphernes that he would not invade the Grecian cities with his army. However, regardless of their ambassadors, he set upon the Cumeans in the first place, and wasted and spoiled the country round about, and took a vast number of prisoners, and afterwards besieged the city; but by reason of winter coming on, he could not take it, and therefore (after he had received a great sum of money for the redemption of the captives) he raised his siege.

The Lacedæmonians, in defence of the Greek cities, made Thimbron general in th war against the king, and gave him the command of a thousand Spartans, with orders to raise as many more men from among their confederates, as he thought fit for the present service.

Upon which Thimbron goes to Corinth, and mustering the aid he had got together from several places, he passes over to Ephesus, with no more than five thousand men: after he had raised two thousand more from the confederate cities and other places, having with him not above seven thousand men, he marched a hundred and twenty stages, and took Magnesia at the first assault, a city with the government of Tissaphernes. Then he came to Tralles, a town in Ionia, and determined to besiege it; but not being able to effect any thing to the purpose there, by reason of the strength of the place, he returned to Magnesia. This place being then unwalled, and therefore fearing lest Tissaphernes should retake it after he was gone, he removed higher to the next hill, called Thorax; from whence he made several incursions upon the enemy, and loaded his soldiers with a variety of plunder.

But hearing that Tissaphernes was near at hand with a great body of horse, he forthwith retired to Ephesus.

About this time part of those soldiers that went along with Cyrus against his brother, returned into Greece, every one to their own country. Others, (the greater part of them that were always accustomed to military employment), to the number almost of five thousand, chose Xenophon for their general, who with those forces made an expedition against the Thracians, who inhabited Salmydessus[5]. This is a long creek lying shooting out along the left side of Pontus, well known for the many shipwrecks that have been there; by reason whereof the Thracians near those parts used to seize upon the merchants that escaped on shore, and carried them away as captives. Xenophon therefore with his forces breaks into their country, overcomes them in battle, and burns many of their towns and villages. From hence they are sent for by Thimbron, with promise of being well paid, upon which they marched to him, being very eager to assist the Lacedæmonians against the Persians.

During these actions, Dionysius in Sicily, builds a town at the foot of Ætna, and from a certain famous temple, calls it Adranum. In Macedonia, king Archelaus, when he was hunting, was killed by Craterus, whom he dearly loved, after he had reigned seven years; and his son Orestes (yet a child) succeeded him. After the death of Archilaus Ætropus, the tutor and guardian of Orestes governed the kingdom for the space of six years. At the same time in Athens, Socrates the philosopher accused by Anytus and Melitus of atheism, and corrupting the youth, was condemned to die, and afterwards executed by drinking a cup of poison; of which wicked action the people in a short time repented, when in vain they could have wished that excellent and worthy man alive again: Therefore they turned all their fury upon his accusers, and killed them without waiting for any formalities of law.

When the war was ended, Aristocrates bore the office of archon at Athens for the year ensuing: and at Rome, six military tribunes were invested with consular dignity, Caius Servilius, Lucius Virginius, Quintus Sulpitius, Aulus Matilius[6], Capitus[7] Clodius[8], and Marcus Ancus[9].During their magistracy, the Lacedæmonians understanding that the affairs of the war were badly managed by Thimbron, sent Dercyllidas general into Asia. Upon his arrival, he forthwith marched with the forces against the cities of Troas, and quickly took Arisha[10], Hamaxia, and Colonæ, afterwards Ilium, Cebrenia, and all the rest of the cities in the territory of Troas, some by tricks and surprise, and others by storm.

After this, he and Pharnabazus[11] agreed upon a truce for eight months; and in the mean time he fell upon the Thracians in Bithynia, and wasted their country, and then drew his army into winter quarters.

At that time a great sedition broke out in Heraclea, in Trachinia, and thereupon the Lacedæmonians sent Eriphidas to compose the differences, who, when he came there, procured a council to be called, and having beset the senate round with armed men, seized the authors, and put all to death, to the number of five hundred men. He likewise marched with an army against the inhabitants of Œta, who had made a defection; and after he had reduced them to many hardships, he forced them out of those places, and the greater part of them, with their wives and children, fled into Thessaly, and five years after were transplanted into Bœotia.   During these affairs the Thracians in great numbers made an irruption into the Chersonesus of Thrace, wasting and ravaging the country every where, and there they possessed themselves of all the fenced cities. Upon this, they of the Chersonesus sent for Dercyllidas the Lacedæmonian out of Asia, who transported his army thither, and drioved the Thracians out of the country; and, drawing a wall across from one sea to the other, fortified the Chersonesus so as that, by this means, he prevented the incursions of the Thracians for the time to come, and so he returned with his forces into Asia, after he had been beautifully rewarded for his services. During the time of the truce, Pharnabazus[12] went up to the king, and he and others persuaded him to equip a navy, and make Conon, the Athenian, admiral, for he was a very skilful and expert soldier, the best that was then in Cyprus with king Evagoras. Pharnabazus, having wrought upon the king, and received five hundred talnts for that purpose, forthwith made it his business to fit out a fleet, and, after he had sounded Conon concerning his acceptance of chief command at sea, he created him admiral, making him many great and fair promises in the king's name. Hereupon Conon accepts the place, in hopes not only to recover the sovereignty of the seas for his country, by subduing the Lacedæmonians, but to advance his own reputation by the success of his arms. But in regard the whole fleet was not a yet ready, he sailed away only with forty sail into Cilicia, and there prepared himself for the war.   Pharnabazus, likewise, and Tissaphernes, having raised men out of their several provinces, marched forth, and made their way towards Ephesus, because the enemy's force lay there. There were with them, under their command, twenty thousand foot, and ten thousand horse. Dercyllidas the Lacedæmonian, hearing of the enemy's march, drew forth his army, having no more than seven thousand men; but when the armies drew near to one another, a truce was agreed upon, and a certain time prefixed, within which Pharnabazus might send the articles to the king to know his pleasure, whether he would have peace or war, and that Dercyllidas might inform the Spartans how affairs stood in the meantime. And upon these terms the armies drew off into their several quarters.


  1. Not in the Greek, but in the Latin, yet necessary for the sense.
  2. Velitræ
  3. Livy says, Marcus Emilius, Appius Claudius, Marcus Quintilius, Lucius Julius, Marcus Posthumius, and Lucius Valerius.
  4. Pharnabazus is here put for Tissaphernes. Ush An. 169.
  5. A promontory and bay in Pontus.
  6. Manlius
  7. Capitolinus.
  8. Quintus Servilius.
  9. Marcus Sergius.
  10. For Larissa.
  11. Tissaphernes.
  12. Tissapherenes.