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Sect 1. The Spartan Supremacy


Sparta had achieved the task which she had been pressed to undertake, and had undertaken somewhat reluctantly, the destruction of the Athenian empire. It was a task which, though not imposed by the unanimous voice of Greece, appealed to a most deeply-seated sentiment of the Greeks, their love of political independence. The .Athenian empire had been an outrage on that sentiment, and, apart from all calculations of particular interest, the humiliation of the great offender must have been regarded, even by those who were not her enemies, with an involuntary satisfaction. The avowed aim of Sparta throughout had been to restore their liberty to those states which had been “enslaved” by Athens, and protect the liberty of those whom her ambition threatened. Now that this object was accomplished as fully as could be desired, it would have been correct for Sparta to retire into her old position, leaving the cities which had belonged to the Athenian empire to arrange their own affairs,—if her deeds were to be in accordance with her professions. The alternative course for a state in the position of Sparta was to enter frankly upon the Athenian inheritance, and pursue the aims and policy of Athens as an imperial power. Other states might have adopted this course with advantage both to themselves and Greece; for Sparta it was impossible. And so when Sparta, unable from the nature of her institutions and the character of her genius to tread in the footsteps of her fallen rival, nevertheless resolved to take under her own dominion the cities which she had gone forth to deliver from all dominion, she not only cynically set aside her high moral professions, but entered on a path of ambition which led to calamity for herself and distress for Greece. The main feature of Greek history for the thirty years after Aegospotami is Sparta’s pursuit of a policy of aggrandisement beyond the Peloponnesus; the opposition which this policy calls forth leads both to the revival of Athens as a great power and to the rise of Thebes. In the end Sparta is forced to retire into the purely Peloponnesian position for which her institutions fitted her. In the making of those institutions an activity beyond the Peloponnesus had not been contemplated; and they were too rigid to be adapted to the enlarged sphere of an Aegean dominion. Nothing short of a complete revolution in the Spartan state could have rendered her essay in empire a success ; but the narrow Spartan system was too firmly based in the narrow Spartan character to suffer such a revolution.

We may wonder how far the general who had placed his country in the position of arbitress of Greece appreciated the difficulty of reconciling the political character of Lacedaemon with the rôle of an imperial city. Un-Spartan as he was in many respects, Lysander had possibly more enlightened views as to the administration of an empire than his countrymen. A story is told that when Callibius, the Spartan harmost of Athens, was knocked down by a young athlete whom he had insulted, and appealed to Lysander, he was told that he did not know how to govern freemen. To deal with freemen abroad was what the average Spartan could not do; and it was such men as Callibius that Lysander had to use for the establishment of the empire which he had resolved to found. In each of the cities which had passed from Athenian into Spartan control, a government of ten members was set up, and its authority was maintained by a Lacedaemonian harmost with a Lacedaemonian garrison. The cities were thus given over to a twofold oppression. The foreign governors were rapacious and were practically free from home control; the native oligarchies were generally tyrannical, and got rid of their political opponents by judicial murders; and both decarchs and harmost played into each other’s hands. Lysander exercised with a high hand and without farsightedness the dictatorship which was his for the time and might at any hour be taken from him. He was solely concerned to impose a firm military despotism on the states which had been rescued from the Athenian Confederacy.

It is obvious that the Athenian and Spartan empires had little in common. They were, first of all, sharply contrasted through the fact that the Spartan policy was justified by no public object like that to which the Confederacy owed its origin. And this contrast was all the more flagrant, considering that after the battle of Aegospotami there was the same demand for a Panhellenic confederacy, with the object of protecting the Asiatic Greeks from Persia, as there had been after the battle of Mycale. But so far from connecting her supremacy with such an object, Sparta had abandoned the Asiatic Greeks to the Great King as the price of Persian help. Athens had won her power as the champion of the eastern Greeks; Sparta had secured her supremacy by betraying them. In the second place, the methods of the two states in exercising their power were totally different. The grievances against Athens, though real, were mainly of a sentimental nature. The worst Athens had done was to deprive some Confederate cities of autonomy; there were no complaints of tyranny, rapine, or oppression. But under the Lacedaemonian supremacy men suffered from positive acts of injustice and violence, and might seek in vain at Sparta for redress. The spirit of the system which Lysander instituted may be judged from the statement that the will of any Spartan citizen was regarded as law in the subject states. The statement comes from a friend of Lacedaemon.

The position of power which Lysander had attained in the eyes of the world, and enjoyed without moderation, could not fail to excite jealousy and apprehension at Sparta itself. He held a sort of royal court at Samos, and the Samians accorded him divine honours by calling after his name a feast which had hitherto been a feast of Hera. He was recalled to Sparta, and he obeyed the summons, bearing a letter from the satrap Pharnabazus to justify him. But when it was opened, instead of being an encomium, it was found to be a deed of accusation; and Lysander was covered with ridicule as the victim of a Persian trick. He was permitted to escape from the situation on the plea of visiting the temple of Zeus Ammon in the Libyan oasis, in accordance with a vow. But his work remained. Lacedaemon upheld her uncongenial military despotism, modifying Lysander’s system only so far as not to insist on the maintenance of the decarchies, but to permit the cities to substitute other forms of government, under the aegis of the harmost. Financially, the empire was so constituted as to secure an income of a thousand talents to meet the expenses of Sparta in maintaining her system. The receipt of such an income was a political innovation, and its administration involved money transactions of a nature and on a scale which would have been severely condemned by “Lycurgus” The admission into the treasury of a large sum of gold and silver which had been brought to Sparta by Lysander was a distinct breach of the Lycurgean discipline. Thus, inflexible as the Spartan system was, the necessities of empire compelled it to yield at one point, and a point where attack is wont to be especially insidious.

The supremacy of Sparta lasted for a generation, (404-371 B.C.), though with intervals in which it was not effective; and its history for more than half of the period is mainly determined by her relations with Persia. As it had been through Persia that she had won her supremacy, so it was through Persia that she lost it, and through Persia that she once more regained it.


Sect. 2. The Rebellion of Cyrus and the March of the Ten Thousand


We now come to an episode which takes us into the domestic history of Persia, out of the limits of Greek geography into the heart of the Persian empire. On the death of Darius, his eldest son Artaxerxes had succeeded to the throne, notwithstanding the plots of his mother Parysatis, who attempted to secure it for her younger and favourite son Cyrus. In these transactions Tissaphernes had supported Artaxerxes, and when Cyrus returned to his satrapy in Asia Minor, Tissaphernes was set to watch him. False suspicions and calumnies frequently lead to the actual perpetration of the crimes which they attribute; and perhaps if he had not been suspected, Cyrus would not have formed the plan of subverting his brother and seizing the kingship. But it is far more likely that from the first Cyrus had hoped and resolved to succeed to his father’s throne. For his success he relied largely on an army of Greek mercenaries which he began to enlist. The revolutions which had passed over Greek cities in recent years, both in Asia and Europe, threw into the military market large numbers of strong men eager for employment and pay. They were recruited for the prince’s service by Clearchus, a Spartan, who had held the post of harmost, but had been repudiated and expelled by the ephors when he attempted to make himself tyrant of Byzantium, like a new Pausanias. Moreover, the Lacedaemonian government, which owed much to Cyrus, was induced to support him secretly, and sent him—avowedly for another purpose—seven hundred hoplites. The army which Cyrus mustered when he set forth on his march to Cyrus Susa amounted to 100,000 oriental troops, and about 13,000 Greeks, of which 10,600 were hoplites.

The purpose of the march was at first carefully concealed from the troops, nor was the secret communicated to any of the officers except Clearchus. The hill tribes of Pisidia were often troublesome to Persian satraps, and their reduction furnished a convenient pretext. Among those who were induced, by the prospect of high pay under the generous Persian prince, to join this Pisidian campaign was Xenophon, an Athenian knight, who was one of the pupils and companions of the philosopher Socrates. His famous history of the Anabasis or Up-going of the Greeks with Cyrus, and their subsequent retreat, has rendered the expedition a household word. The charm of the Anabasis depends on the simple directness and fulness with which the story is told, and the great interest of the story consists in its breaking new ground. For the first time we are privileged to follow step by step a journey through the inner parts of Asia Minor, into the heart of the Persian empire beyond the Euphrates and the Tigris. There is a charm of actuality in the early chapters, with their recurring phrases, like brief entries in a diary,—the days’ marches from one city to another, the number of parasangs, and the lengths of the halts, all duly set out. “Hence Cyrus marches two stages, ten parasangs, to Peltae, an inhabited city; and here he remained three days.”

Setting forth from Sardis, Cyrus took the south-easterly road, which led across the upper Maeander to the Phrygian Colossae, where he was joined by the troops of one of his Greek captains, the Thessalian Menon; and thence onward to Celaenae, where he awaited the arrival of Clearchus. So far, the march had been straight to the ostensible destination, the country of Pisidia; but now Cyrus turned in the opposite direction, and, descending the Maeander, marched Ceramon northward to Peltae and Ceramon Agora or Potters’ Mart. Then eastward, to the city called Cayster-Plain, close to the fort of Ipsus. Here Greeks demanded their arrears of pay, and Cyrus had no money to satisfy them. But he was relieved from the difficulty, which might well have proved fatal to his enterprise, by the Cilician queen Epyaxa, wife of Syennesis, who arrived well laden with money. Her coming must have been connected with private negotiations between Cyrus and the Cilician governor. As the route of Cyrus lay through Cilicia, a country barred on all sides by difficult passes, it was of the greatest moment for Cyrus to come to an understanding with the ruler; and on the other hand it was the policy of Syennesis so to order his ways that whether Cyrus succeeded or failed he might in either event be safe. As the plan of Cyrus was still a secret, it was a prudent policy to entrust the negotiations to no one less safe than the queen. Having pacified the demands of his Greek mercenaries, Cyrus proceeded (by Thymbrion and Tyriaeon) to Iconium; and thence by the road, which describes a great southern curve through Lycaonia, to Tyana. The Greeks were allowed to plunder Lycaonia, a rough country with rough people, as they passed through it. The arrangement with Syennesis seems to have been that he should make a display of resisting Cyrus, and Cyrus make a display of circumventing him. To carry out this arrangement, Menon’s division, accompanied by the queen Epyaxa, diverged from the route followed by the rest of the army, and crossed the Taurus into Cilicia by a shorter route. Perhaps they struck off at Barata and passed by Laranda, on a road that led to Soli. Thus Syennesis, who, as a loyal servant of the Great King, hastened to occupy the Cilician gates, the pass for which the main army of Cyrus was making, found himself taken in the rear by Menon. It was therefore useless to remain in the pass, and he retreated to a mountain stronghold: what more could a loyal servant of the Great King be expected to do? The army of Cyrus then coming up from Tyana, by Podandus, found the impregnable pass open, and descended safely to Tarsus, where it met Menon. The city and palace of the prince of Cilicia were pillaged; this perhaps was part of the pretence. It was at all events safe now for Syennesis to enter into a contract with Cyrus (a compulsory contract, the Great King would understand) to supply some money and men.

It must have been dawning on the Greek troops for some time past, and at Tarsus they no longer felt any doubt, that they had been deceived as to their ultimate destination. They had long ago passed Pisidia, the ostensible object of their march, and the true object was now clear to them. They flatly refused to advance further. It was a small thing to be asked to take the field against the forces of the Great King; but it was no such light matter to be asked to undertake a march of three months into the centre of Asia. To be at a distance of three months from the sea-coast was a terrible idea for a Greek. Clearchus, a strict disciplinarian—a man of grim feature and harsh voice, unpopular with his men—thought to repress the mutiny by severity; but the mutiny was too general to be quelled by coercion. Then he resorted to a stratagem, which he carried out with admirable adroitness. Calling his soldiers together, he stood for some time weeping before he spoke. He then set forth the cruel dilemma in which their conduct had placed him: he must either break his plighted faith with Cyrus or desert them; but he did not hesitate to choose; whatever happened, he would stand by them, who were “his country, his friends, and his allies.” This speech created a favourable impression, which was confirmed when Cyrus sent to demand an interview with Clearchus and Clearchus publicly refused to go. But the delight of the troops was changed into perplexity when Clearchus asked them what they proposed to do: they were no longer the soldiers of Cyrus, and could not look to him for pay, provisions, or help. He (Clearchus) would stand by them, but declined to command them or advise them. The soldiers—some of them in the secret confidence of their captain—discussed the difficulty, and it was decided to send a deputation to Cyrus, to ask him to declare definitely his real intentions Cyrus told the deputation that his purpose was to march against his enemy Abrocomas—Persian general in Syria—who was now on the Euphrates, and offered higher pay to the Greeks, a daric and a half instead of a daric a day. The soldiers, finding themselves in an awkward pass, agreed to continue the march,—reluctant, but hardly seeing any other way out of the difficulty; though many of them must have shrewdly suspected that they would deal with Abrocomas on the Euphrates even as they had dealt with the hillmen of Pisidia.

The march was now eastward by Adana and Mopsuestia, across the rivers Sarus and Pyramus, and then along the coast to Issus, where Cyrus found his fleet. It brought him 700 hoplites sent by the Lacedaemonians. Here too he was reinforced by 400 Greek mercenaries who had deserted from the service of the Persian general Abrocomas, the enemy of Cyrus, who had fled to the Euphrates, instead of holding the difficult and fortified passes from Cilicia into Syria, as a loyal general of the Great King should have done. So Cyrus now, with his Greek troops increased to the total number of 14,000, passed with as much ease through the Syrian gates, owing to the cowardly flight of Abrocomas, as he had before passed through the Cilician gates, owing to the prudent collusion of Syennesis. The Syrian gates are a narrow pass between the end of Mount Amanus and the sea, part of the coast road from Issus to Myriandrus. At Myriandrus the Greeks bade good-bye to the sea, little knowing how many days would pass, how many terrible things befall them, before they hailed it again. They crossed Mount Amanus by the pass of Beilan, which Abrocomas ought to have guarded, and in a twelve days’ march, passing by the park and palace of Belesys, satrap of Arrival at Syria, they reached Thapsacus and beheld the famous Euphrates. Here a new explanation was necessary as to the object of the march, and Cyrus had at last to own that Babylon was the goal,—that the foe against whom he led the army was the Great King himself. The Greek troops murmured loudly and refused to cross the river; but their murmurings here were not like their murmurs at Tarsus, for they had guessed the truth long since; and their complaints were only designed to extort promises from Cyrus. The prince agreed to give each man a present of five minae at the end of the expedition—more than a year’s pay at the high rate of a daric and a half. But while the rest of the Greeks were making their bargain, Menon stole a march on them, inducing his own troops to cross the river first—a good example, for which Cyrus would owe him and his troops particular thanks. Abrocomas had burned the ships, but the Euphrates was—a very unusual circumstance at that season—shallow enough to be forded; a fact of which Abrocomas was conceivably aware. The army accordingly crossed on foot and continued the march along the left bank; an agreeable march until they reached the river Chaboras, beyond which the desert of “Arabia” began : a plain, Xenophon describes it, smooth as a sea, treeless; only worm­wood and scented shrubs for vegetation, but alive with all kinds of beasts strange to Greek eyes, wild asses and ostriches, antelopes and bustards. The tramp through the desert lasted thirteen days, and then they reached Pylae, at the edge of the land of Babylonia, fertile then with its artificial irrigation, now mostly a barren wilderness. Soon after they passed Pylae, they became aware that a large host had been moving in front, ravaging the country before them.

Artaxerxes on his part had made somewhat tardy preparations to receive the invaders. It seems indeed to have been hardly conceived at the Persian court that the army of Cyrus would ever succeed in reaching Babylonia. The city of Babylon was protected by a double defence against an enemy approaching from the north,—by a line of wall and a line of water, both connecting the Euphrates with the Tigris. The enemy would first have to pass the Wall of Media, 100 feet high and 20 feet broad, built of bricks with bitumen cement; and they would then have to cross the Royal Canal, before they could reach the gates of Babylon. To these two lines of defence a third was now added, in the form of a trench about forty miles long, joining at one end the Wall of Media and at the other the Euphrates, where a space of not more than seven yards was left between the trench and the river. To defend a country so abundantly guarded by artificial fortifications, the king was able to muster immediately an army of about 400,000; but this did not seem enough when the danger became imminent, and orders were sent to Media that the troops of that province should come to the aid of Babylonia. There was some delay in the arrival of these forces, and Artaxerxes probably did not wish to risk an action until their arrival had made his immense superiority in numbers overwhelming. This may explain the extraordinary circumstance that when the army of Cyrus came to the foss which had been dug expressly to keep them out, they found it undefended, and walked at their ease over the narrow passage between the trench and the river.

But now it was hardly possible for Artaxerxes to let his foes advance further, though there was still no sign of the troops from the east. Two days after passing the trench, the army of Cyrus reached the village of Cunaxa, and suddenly learned that the king’s host was approaching. The oriental troops under Ariaeus formed the left wing of Cyrus, who himself occupied the centre with a squadron of cavalry; the Greeks were on the right, resting on the river Euphrates. The Persian left wing, commanded by Tissaphernes, consisted of cavalry, bowmen, and Egyptian footmen, with a row of scythe-armed chariots in front. The king was in the centre with a strong body­guard of horse. Cyrus knew the oriental character, and he knew that if the king fell or fled, the battle would be decided and his own cause won. He accordingly formed a plan of battle which would almost certainly have been successful, if it had been adopted. He proposed that the Greeks should shift their position further to the left,—to a considerable distance from the river,—so that they might immediately attack the enemy’s centre where the king was stationed. But Clearchus, to whom Cyrus signified his wishes, made decided objections to this bold and wise plan. Unable to rise, like Cyrus, to the full bearings of the situation, he ruined the cause of his master by pedantically or timorously adhering to the precepts of Greek drill-sergeants, that it is fatal for the right wing to allow itself to be outflanked. And besides the consideration which Cyrus had in view, the advantage of bringing about with all speed the flight of Artaxerxes, there was another consideration which would not have occurred to Cyrus, but which ought to have occurred to Clearchus. The safety of Cyrus himself was a matter of the first importance to the Greeks,—how important we shall see in the sequel. It was useless for the Greeks to cut down every single man in the Persian left, while they were sweeping all before them the prince for whom the fought were slain.. Cyrus did not press the matter, and left it to Clearchus to make his own dispositions. The onset of the Greeks struck their enemies with panic before a blow was struck. On the other side, the Persian right, which far outflanked the left wing of Cyrus, was wheeled round, so as to take the troops of Ariaeus in the rear. Then Cyrus, who was already receiving congratulations as if he were king on account of the success of the Greeks, dashed forward with his 600 horse against the 6000 who surrounded Artaxerxes. The impetuous charge broke up the guard, and, if the prince had kept command over his passions, he would have been the Great King within an hour. But unluckily he caught sight of his brother, whom he hated with his whole soul, amid the flying bodyguard. The bitter passion overmastered him, and he galloped forward, with a satisfaction of wounding him slightly with a javelin; but, in the mellay which ensued, he was himself wounded in the eye by a Carian soldier, and falling from his horse, was presently slain. The news of his death was the signal for the flight of his Asiatic troops.


The vivid narrative of Xenophon, who took part in the battle, preserves the memory of these remarkable events. At the time he saw little of the battle, and he could have known little of the arrangements and movements of the Persians. Bur before  he wrote his own book, he had the advantage of reading a book written by another Greek, who had also witnessed those remarkable events, but from the other side. This was Ctesias, the court physician, who was present at the battle and cured Artaxerxes of the breast-wound which Cyrus had dealt him. The book of Ctesias is lost, but some bits of his story have drifted down to us in the works of later writers who had read it, and afford us a glimpse or two into the Great King’s camp and court about this eventful time.

For the Greek band, which now found itself in the heart of Persia, girt about by enemies on every side, the death of Cyrus was an immediate and crushing calamity. But for Greece it was probably a stroke of good fortune,—though Sparta herself had blessed the enterprise. Cyrus was a prince whose ability was well-nigh equal to his ambition. He had proved his capacity by his early successes as satrap; by the organisation of his expedition, which demanded an exceptional union of policy and vigour, in meeting difficulties and surmounting dangers; by his recognition of the value of the Greek soldier. Under such a sovereign, the Persian realm would have thriven and waxed great, and become once more a menace to the freedom of the European Greeks. Who can tell what dreams that ambitious brain might have cherished, dreams of universal conquest to be achieved at the head of an invincible army of Grecian foot-lancers? And in days when mercenary service was coming into fashion, the service of Cyrus would have been popular. Whatever oriental craft and cruelty lurked beneath, he had not only a frank and attractive manner, but a generous nature, which completely won such an honest Greek as Xenophon, the soldier and historian. He knew how to appreciate the Greeks, as none of his country ever knew before; he recognised their superiority to the Asiatics in the military qualities of steadfastness and discipline; and this undisguised appreciation was a flattery which they were unable to resist. If Cyrus had come to the throne, his energy and policy would certainly have been felt in the Aegean world ; the Greeks would not have been left for the next two generations to shape their own destinies, as they did, little affected by the languid interventions of Artaxerxes. Perhaps the stubborn stupidity of Clearchus on the field of Cunaxa, with his hard- and-fast precepts of Greek drill-sergeants, saved Hellas from becoming a Persian satrapy.

But such speculations would have brought little comfort, could they have occurred, to the 10,000 Greeks who, flushed with the excitement of pursuit, returned to hear that the rest of their army had been defeated, to find their camp pillaged, and then to learn on the following morning that Cyrus was dead. The habit of self­imposed discipline which Cyrus knew so well how to value stood the Greeks in good stead at this grave crisis; and their easy victory' had given them confidence. They refused to surrender, at the summons of Artaxerxes. For him their presence was extremely awkward, like a hostile city in the midst of his land; and his first object was at all hazards to get them out of Babylonia. He therefore parleyed with them, and supplied them with provisions. The only desire of the Greeks was to make all the haste they could homeward. By the road they had come it was nearly 1500 miles to Sardis; but that road was impracticable; for they could not traverse the desert again unprovisioned. Without guides, without any geographical knowledge—not knowing so much as the course of the Tigris—they had no alternative but to embrace the proposal of Tissaphernes, who undertook to guide them home by another road, on which they would be able to obtain provisions. Following him—but well in the rear of his troops—the Greeks passed the Wall of Media, and crossed two navigable canals, before they reached the Tigris, which they passed by its only bridge, close to Sittace. Their course then lay northward, up the left bank of the Tigris. They passed from Babylonia into Media, and, crossing the lesser Zab, reached the banks of the greater Zab without any incident of consequence. But here the distrust and suspicion which smouldered between the Greek and the Persian camps almost broke into a flame of hostility, and Clearchus was driven into seeking an explanation with Tissaphernes. The frankness of the satrap disarmed the suspicions of Clearchus; Tissaphernes admitted that some persons had attempted to poison his mind against the Greeks, but promised to reveal the names of the calumniators, if the Greek generals and captains came to his tent the next day. Clearchus readily consented, and induced his four fellow-generals—Agias, Menon, Proxenus, and Socrates—to go to Tissaphernes, though such blind confidence was ill justified by the character of the crafty satrap. It was a fatal blunder—the second great blunder Clearchus had made—to place all the Greek commanders helplessly in the power of the Persian. Clearchus had been throughout an enemy of the Thessalian Menon; and it may be that he suspected Menon of treason, and that his desire to convict his rival in the tent of Tissaphernes blinded his better judgment. The five generals went, with twenty captains and some soldiers; the captains and soldiers were cut down, and the generals were fettered and sent to the Persian court, where they were all put to death.

Tissaphernes had no intention of attacking the Greek army. He had led them to a place from which it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to return to Greece, and he imagined that when they found themselves without any responsible commanders they would immediately surrender. But if in the first moments of dismay the prospect seemed hopeless, the Greeks speedily rallied their courage, chose new generals, and resumed their northward march. It was the Athenian Xenophon, a man of ready speech and great presence of mind, who did most to infuse new spirit into the army and guide it amidst the perils and difficulties which now beset it. Though he had no rank, being merely a volunteer, he was elected a general, and his power of persuasion, united with practical sense, won for him a remarkable ascendency over the men. He tells us how, on the first dreary night after the betrayal of the generals, he dreamed that he saw a thunderbolt striking his father's house and flames wrapping the walls about. This dream gave him his inspiration. He interpreted it of the plight in which he and his fellows were; the house was in extreme danger, but the light was a sign of hope. And then the thought was borne in on him that it was foolish to wait for others to take the lead, that it would be well to make a start himself.

It was bold indeed to undertake a march of uncertain length—terribly long—without guides and with inexperienced officers, over unknown rivers and uncouth mountains, through the lands of barbarous folks. The alternative would have been to found a Greek city in the centre of Media; but this had no attraction: the hearts of all were see upon returning to the Greek world. It would be long to tell the full diary of the adventures of their retreat; it is a chronicle of courage, discipline, and reasonableness in the face of perils which nothing but the exercise of those qualities in an unusual measure would have been able to surmount. Their march to the Carduchian mountains, which form the northern boundary of Media, was harassed by the army of Tissaphernes, who however never ventured on a pitched battle. When they entered Carduchia, the Greeks passed out of the Persian empire; for the men of these mountains were independent, wedged in between the satrapies of Media and Armenia. The passage through this wild country was the most dangerous and destructive part of the whole retreat. The savage hillsmen were implacably hostile, and it was easy for them to defend the narrow precipitous passes against an army laden with baggage, and fearing, at every turn of the winding roads, to be crushed by rocky masses which the enemy rolled down from the heights above. After much suffering and loss of life, they reached the stream of the Centrites, a tributary of the Tigris, which divides Carduchia from Armenia. The news of their coming had gone before; and they found the opposite bank lined with the forces of Tiribazus, the Armenian satrap. The Carduchian hillsmen were hanging on their rear, and it needed a clever stratagem to cross the river safely. It was now the month of December, and the march lay through the snows of wintry Armenia. They had sore struggles with cold and hunger; but they went unmolested, for they had made a compact with Tiribazus, undertaking to abstain from pillage. The direction of the march lay northwestward; they crossed the two branches of the Euphrates, and their route perhaps partly corresponded to that which a traveller follows at the present day from Tavriz to Erzerum. When they had made their way through the territories of the martial Chalybes and other hostile peoples, they reached a city—a sign that at last they were once more on the fringe of civilisation. It was the city of Gymnias, a thriving place which perhaps owed its existence to neighbouring silver mines. Here they had a friendly welcome, and learned with delight that they were not many days’ journey south of Trapezus. A guide undertook that they should have sight of the sea after a five days’ march. “And on the fifth day they came to Mount Theches, and when the van reached the summit a great cry arose. When Xenophon and the rear heard it, they thought that an enemy was attacking in front; but when the cry increased as fresh men continually came up to the summit, Xenophon thought it must be something more serious, and galloped forward to the front with his cavalry. When he drew near, he heard what the cry was—“The Sea, the Sea!” The sight of the sea, to which they had said farewell at Myriandrus, and which they had so often despaired of ever again beholding, was an assurance of safety at last attained. The night watches in the plains of Babylonia or by the rivers of Media, the wild faces in the Carduchian mountains, the bleak highlands of Armenia, might now fade into the semblances of an evil dream.

A few more days brought the army to Trapezus—to Greek soil and to the very shore of the sea. Here they rested for a month, supporting themselves by plundering the Colchian natives, who dwelled in the hills round about, while the Greeks of Trapezus supplied a market. Here they celebrated games and offered their sacrifices of thanksgiving to Zeus Soter,—in fulfilment of a vow they had made on that terrible night on the Zab the loss of their generals.

Ten thousand Greek soldiers dropt down the mountains, like a sudden thunderbolt from heaven, were a surprise which must have caused strange perplexity to the Greeks of the coast,—to Trapezus and her sister Cerasus, and to their common mother Sinope. It was a somewhat alarming problem: more than a myriad soldiers, mostly hoplites, steeled by an ordeal of experience such as few men had ever passed, but not quite certain as to what their next step should be, suddenly knocking at one’s gates. And they were not an ordinary army, but rather a democracy of ten thousand citizens equipped as soldiers, serving no king, responsible to no state, a law unto themselves, electing their officers and deciding all matters of importance in a sovereign popular assembly,—as it were, a great moving city, moving along the shores of the Euxine; what might it, what might it not, do? For one thing, it might easily plant itself on some likely site within the range of Sinope’s influence, and conceivably out-top Sinope herself.

The Ten Thousand themselves thought only of home—the Aegean and the Greek world. Could they have procured ships at once, they would not have tarried to perplex Sinope and her daughter cities. To Xenophon, who foresaw more or less dimly the difficulties which Xenophon would beset the army on its return to Greece, the idea of seizing thinks of some native town like Phasis and founding a colony, in which might amass riches and enjoy power, was not unwelcome; but when it was known that he contemplated such a plan, though he never proposed it, he well-nigh forfeited his influence with the army. In truth, a colony at Phasis, in the land of the Golden Fleece, founded by the practical Xenophon, might have been the best solution of the fate of the Ten Thousand. The difficulties which they had now to face were of a different kind from those which they had so successfully surmounted, demanding not so much endurance and bravery as tact and discretion. Now that they were no longer in daily danger of sheer destruction, the motive for cohesion had lost much of its strength. If we remember that the army was composed of men of different Greek nationalities, brought together by chance, and that it was now united by no bond of common allegiance but was purely a voluntary association, the wonder is that it was not completely disorganised and scattered long before it reached Byzantium. It is true that the discipline sensibly and inevitably declined; and it is true that the host dissolved itself at Heraclea into three separate bands, though only to be presently reunited. But it is a remarkable spectacle, this large society of soldiers managing their own affairs, deciding what they would do, determining where they would go, seldom failing to listen to the voice of reason in their Assemblies, whether it was the voice of Xenophon or of another.

The last stages of the retreat, from Trapezus to Chalcedon, were accomplished partly by sea, partly by land, and were marked by delays, disappointments, and disorders. It might be expected that it reaches on reaching Chalcedon the army would have dispersed, each man hastening to return to his own city. But they were satisfied to be well within the Greek world once more, and they wanted to replenish their empty purses before they went home. So they still held together, ready to place their arms at the disposal of any power who would pay them. To Pharnabazus, the satrap of the Hellespontine province of Persia, the arrival of men who had defied the power of the Great King was a source of alarm. He bribed the Lacedaemonian admiral Anaxibius, who was stationed at the Bosphorus, to induce the Ten Thousand to cross over into Europe. Anaxibius compassed this by promises of high pay; but the troops, who were admitted into Byzantium, would have pillaged the city when they discovered that they had been deluded, if Xenophon’s presence of mind and persuasive speech had not once more saved them from their first impulse. After this they took service under a Thracian prince, Seuthes was his name, who employed them to reduce some rebellious tribes. Seuthes was more perfidious than Anaxibius, for he cheated them of the pay which they had actually earned. But better times were coming. War broke out—as we shall presently see—between Lacedaemon and Persia, and the Lacedaemonians wanted fighting men. The impoverished army of Cyrus, now reduced to the number of 6000, crossed back into Asia, and received an advance of pay. Here our interest in them ends, if it did not already end when they reached Trapezus,—our interest in all of them, at least, except Xenophon. Once and again Xenophon had intended to leave the army since its return to civilisation, and he had steadfastly refused all proposals to elect him commander; but his strong ascendency among the soldiers and his consequent power to help them had rendered it impossible for him on each occasion to abandon them in their difficulties. Now he was at last released, and returned to Athens with a considerable sum of money. It is probable that his native city, where his master Socrates had recently suffered death, proved uncongenial to him; for he soon went back to Asia to fight with his old comrades against the Persians. When Athens presently became an ally of Persia against Sparta, Xenophon was banished, and more than twenty years of his life were spent at Scillus, a Triphylian village, where the Spartans gave him a home. Afterwards the sentence of exile was revoked, and his last years were passed at Athens.

On a country estate near that Triphylian village, not far from Olympia, Xenophon settled down into a quiet life, with abundant leisure for literature; and composed, among other things of less account, the narrative of that memorable adventure in which Xenophon the Athenian had played such a leading part. Of the environment of his country life in quiet Triphylia he has given a glimpse, showing us how he imprinted his own personality on the place. He had deposited in the great temple of Artemis at Ephesus a portion of a ransom of some captives taken during the retreat, to be reserved for the service of the goddess. This deposit was restored to him at Scillus, and with the money Xenophon bought a suitable place for a sanctuary of Ephesian Artemis. “A river Selinus flows through the place, just as at Ephesus a river Selinus flows past the temple; and in both streams there are fishes and shellfishes, but in the place at Scillus there is also all manner of game. And Xenophon made an altar and a temple, with the sacred money, and henceforward he used every year offer to the goddess a tithe of the fruits of his estate, and all the citizens and neighbours, men and women, took part in the feast. They camped in tents, and the goddess furnished them with meal, bread, wine, and sweetmeats, and with a share of the hallowed dole of the sacrifice, and with a share of the game. For Xenophon’s lads and the lads of the neighbours used to hunt quarry for the feast, and men who liked would join in the chase. There was game both in the consecrated estate and in Mount Pholoe, wild swine, and gazelles, and stags. That estate has meadowland and wooded hills—good pasture for swine and goats, for cattle and horse ; and the beasts of those who fare from Sparta to the Olympian festival—for the road wends through the place—have their fill of feasting. The temple, which is girt by a plantation of fruit trees, is a small model of the great temple of Ephesus; and the cypress-wood image is made in the fashion of the Ephesian image of gold.” Here Xenophon could lead a happy, uneventful life, devoted to sport and literature and the service of the gods.

At a casual glance the expedition of Cyrus may appear to belong not to Greek but to Persian history; and the retreat of the Ten Thousand may be deemed matter for a book of adventures, and a digression which needs some excuse in a history of Greece. But the story of the upgoing and the homecoming of Xenophon and his fellows is in truth no digression. It has been already pointed out how vitally the interests of Hellas, according to human calculation, were involved in the issue of Cunaxa; and how, if the arbitrament of fortune on that battlefield had been other, the future of Greece might have been other too. But the whole episode—the upgoing, the battle, and the home-coming—has an importance, by no means problematical, which secures it a certain and conspicuous place in the procession of Grecian history. It is an epilogue to the invasion of Xerxes and a prologue to the conquest of Alexander. The Great King had carried his arms into Greece, and Greece had driven him back; that was a leading epoch in the combat between Asia and Europe. The next epoch will be the retribution. The Greeks will carry their arms into Persia, and Persia will fail to repel them. The success of Alexander will be the answer to the defeat of Xerxes. For this answer the world has to wait for five generations; but in the meanwhile the expedition of the soldiers of Cyrus is a prediction, vouchsafed as it were by history, what the answer is to be. Xenophon’s Anabasis is the continuation of Herodotus; Xenophon and his band are the reconnoitrers who forerun Alexander. And this significance of the adventure, as a victory of Greece over Persia, was immediately understood. A small company of soldiers had marched unopposed to the centre of the Persian empire, where no Greek army had ever won its way before; they had defeated almost without a blow the overwhelming forces of the king within a few miles of his capital; and they had returned safely, having escaped from the hostile multitudes, which did not once dare to withstand their spears in open warfare. Such a display of Persian impotence surprised the world; and Greece might well despise the power whose resources a band of strangers had so successfully defied. No Hellenic city indeed had won a triumph over the barbarian; but all Hellenic cities alike had reason to be stirred by pride at a brilliant demonstration of the superior excellence of the Greek to the Asiatic in courage, discipline, and capacity. The lesson had, as we shall see, its immediate consequences. Only a year or two passed, and it inspired a Spartan king—a man, indeed, of poor ability and slight performance—to attempt to achieve the task which fate reserved for Alexander. But the moral effect of the Anabasis was lasting, and of greater import than the futile warfare of Agesilaus. Considering these bearings, we shall have not said too much if we say that the episode of the Ten Thousand, though a private enterprise so far as Hellas was concerned, and though enacted beyond the limits of the Hellenic world, yet occupies a more eminent place on the highway of Grecian history than the contemporary transactions of Athens and Sparta and the other states of Greece.


Sect. 3. War of Sparta with Persia


The enterprise of Cyrus had immediately affected the position and prospects of the Greek cities of Ionia. In accordance with their contract the Spartans had handed over the Asiatic cities to Persia, retaining only Abydus, on account of its strategic importance. Cyrus, however, bidding for Greek support, had instigated the Ionian cities to revolt from their satrap, Tissaphernes, and to place themselves under his protection. Tissaphernes was in time to save Miletus; but all the other cities received Greek garrisons, and commander when Cyrus disappeared into the interior of Asia, they had practically passed out of Persian control. After the defeat of Cyrus at Cunaxa, Tissaphernes returned to the Aegean coast as governor of all the districts which had been under Cyrus, and with the general title of commander of Further Asia, implying supremacy over the adjacent satrapies. His first concern was to recover the Greek cities of the coast, and he attacked Cyme. The Asiatic appeal to Greeks were greatly alarmed, and they sent to Sparta an appeal for her protection.

The relations of Sparta to Persia were no longer the same; since the help given to Cyrus was an act of war against the king. The successful march of the Ten Thousand inspired Greece with a feeling of contempt for the strength of the Persian empire. The opportunity of plundering the wealthy satrapies of Pharnabazus and Tissaphernes was a bait for Spartan cupidity; the prospect of gaining signal successes against Persia appealed to Spartan ambition. These considerations induced Sparta to send an army to Asia, and this army was increased by the remains of the famous Ten Thousand, who (as already stated) crossed over from Thrace and entered the service of Sparta. Much might have been accomplished with a under competent commander, but the general Thibron was unable to maintain discipline among his men, and the few successes achieved fell far short of Sparta’s reasonable hopes. Thibron was superseded by Dercyllidas, a man who had the repute of being unusually succeeded wily. Taking advantage of a misunderstanding between the two by satraps, Dercyllidas made a truce with Tissaphernes and marched with all his forces into the province of Pharnabazus, against whom he had a personal grudge. A recent occurrence rendered it possible for him to get into his hands the Troad—or Aeolis, as it was called—with speed and ease. The government of this region had been granted by Pharnabazus to Zenis, a native of Dardanus. When he died, leaving a widow, a son, and daughter, Pharnabazus was about to choose another subsatrap; but the widow, whose name was Mania, presented a petition that she should be permitted to fill the post which her husband had held. “My husband,” she argued, “paid his tribute punctually, and you thanked him for it. If I do as well, why should you appoint another? If I am found unsatisfactory, you can remove me at any moment.” She fortified her arguments by large presents of money to the satrap, his officers, and concubines; and won her request. She gave Pharnabazus full satisfaction by her regular payments of tribute, and under her vigorous administration the Aeolid became a rich and well-defended land. A body of Greek mercenaries was maintained in her service, and immense treasures were stored in the strong mountain fortresses of Scepsis, Gergis, and Cebren. She even reduced some coast towns in the south of the Troad, and took part herself, like the Carian Artemisia, in military expeditions. But she had for son-in-law an ungrateful traitor, Meidias of Scepsis, whom she treated with trust and affection. In order to possess himself of her power, he strangled her, killed her son, and laid hold of the three fortresses which controlled the district, along with all the treasure. But Pharnabazus refused to recognise the murderer of Mania, and sent back the gifts of Meidias with the message : “Keep them till I come to seize both them and you. Life would not be worth living if I avenged not the death of Mania.”

As Meidias was expecting with alarm the vengeance of Pharnabazus, the Spartan army appeared on the scene. Dercyllidas became master of the Aeolid without any opposition, since the garrisons of the cities did not acknowledge Meidias,—excepting only the forts of Scepsis, Gergis, and Cebren. The garrison of Cebren soon surrendered; at Scepsis, Meidias came forth to a conference, and Dercyllidas, without waiting to confer, marched up to the gates of the town, so that Meidias, in the power of the enemy, could do nothing but order them to be opened; and his unwilling orders likewise threw open the gates of Gergis. His own private property was restored to Meidias, but all the treasures of Mania were appropriated by the Spartan general; for the property of Mania belonged to her master Pharnabazus, and was therefore the legitimate booty of the satrap’s enemy. This booty supplied Dercyllidas with pay for his eight thousand soldiers for nearly a year; and it was noticed that the conduct of the heroes of the Anabasis showed a signal improvement from this time forward. The Aeolid now served the Spartans against the satrapy of Pharnabazus somewhat as Decelea had served them in Attica; it was a fortified district in the enemy’s country. Sparta, hoping that these successes would induce Persia to make terms and acquiesce in the freedom of the Greek cities, concluded truces with Tissaphernes and Pharnabazus, and sent up ambassadors to Susa to treat with the Great King (398 B.C.). Dercyllidas meanwhile crossed into Europe and occupied himself with restoring the cross-wall which besieges and defended Sestos and the other cities of the Chersonese against the incursions of the Thracians, the inhabitants gladly furnishing pay and food to army. On returning to Asia, the Spartan commander captured, after a long siege, the strong town of Atarneus. Then by special orders from home he proceeded to Caria.

The Spartan overtures were heard unfavourably at Susa, for the king had been persuaded by his able satrap Pharnabazus to prosecute the war by sea. The Spartans could not cope in mere numbers with the fleet which Phoenicia and Cyprus could furnish him; but everything would depend on the commander. Here fortune played into his hands. There was an enemy of Sparta, an experienced naval officer, who was ready to compass heaven and earth to work the downfall of her supremacy. The Athenian admiral Conon, whom we last saw escaping from the surprise of Aegospotami, was burning to avenge the disgrace of that fatal day. He had found hospitality and protection at the court of Evagoras, king of the Cyprian Salamis; and through him had entered into communication with Ctesias, the Greek physician, whom we already met at Cunaxa. Ctesias had the ear of the queen-mother Parysatis, and through her influence and the advice of Pharnabazus Conon was appointed to appointed command a fleet of 300 ships which was prepared in Phoenicia and commander Cilicia. Under his command, such a numerous navy was extremely formidable, but the Lacedaemonian government does not seem to have realised the danger, owing perhaps to their experience of the ineffectiveness of previous Persian armaments; and they committed the mistake of throwing all their vigour into the land warfare, and neglecting their sea-power, which was absolutely vital for the maintenance of their supremacy. But when Conon, not waiting for the complete equipment of the fleet, sailed to Caunus in Caria with forty ships, the Spartans were obliged to move. They sent a fleet of 120 ships under Pharax to blockade Caunus and Conon’s galleys in the harbour, and ordered Dercyllidas to Caria. The joint forces of Tissaphernes and Pharnabazus first raised the siege of Caunus and they confronted Dercyllidas in the valley of the Maeander. A panic which seized some of the troops of the Spartan general might have been fatal, but the reputation of the Ten Thousand, whose valour Tissaphernes had experienced, rendered that satrap unwilling to risk a battle, and a conference issued in an armistice. But Sparta had now decided to conduct the war against Persia with greater vigour and on a larger scale; and Dercyllidas had to make way for no less a successor than one of the Spartan kings.

Agesilaus, who now comes upon the scene, had been recently raised to the regal dignity in unusual circumstances. When Lysander retired from public affairs to visit the temple of Zeus Ammon, he had neither discarded ambition nor lost his influence. He conceived the plan of making a change in the Spartan constitution which can hardly be described as less than revolutionary. The idea was that the kingship should be no longer confined to the Eurysthenid and Proclid families in which it was hereditary by law, but that the kings should be elected from all Heraclids. The Spartan king was not a king in our sense of the word; he was not a sovereign, he was rather a grand officer of state; but the scheme to make the office elective, instead of hereditary, was nevertheless momentous. It meant immediately that Lysander should hold the military functions which belonged to the kings, the command of the army abroad, for life; he could no longer be deposed or recalled at the end of a term of office. And in the hands of a man like Lysander this permanent office might become something very different from what it was in the hands of the ordinary Proclid or Eurysthenid; the proportion between the power of king and ephor might be considerably shifted. Lysander’s project might well have proved the first step to a sort of principate; which might have partially adapted Spartan institutions to the requirements of an imperial state. Lysander did not conceive the possibility of carrying this bold innovation by a coup d'état; his plan was to bring religious influence to bear on the authorities; and he secretly employed his absence from Sparta in attempting to enlist the most important oracles in favour of his design. But the oracles received his proposal coldly; it sounded far too audacious. He succeeded, however, in winning over some of the Delphic priests, who aided him to invent oracles for his purpose: a rumour was spread that certain sacred and ancient records were preserved at Delphi, never to be revealed until a son of Apollo appeared to claim them; and at the same time people began to hear of the existence of a youth named Silenus, whose mother vouched that Apollo was his sire. But the ingenious plot broke down at the last moment; one of the confederates did not play his part; and the oracles bearing on the Spartan kingship were never revealed. Lysander then abandoned his revolutionary idea, and took advantage of the death of king Agis to secure the sceptre for a man whom he calculated he could direct and control. The kingship descended, in the natural course, on Leotychidas, the son of Agis; but it was commonly believed that this youth was illegitimate, being really the son of Alcibiades. There were doubts on the matter; but the suspicion was strong Agesilaus t enough to enable the half-brother of Agis, Agesilaus, supported by the influence of Lysander, to oust his nephew and assume the sceptre.

Lysander was deceived in his man; the new king was not of the metal to be the kingmaker’s tool. Agesilaus had hitherto shown only one side of his character. He had observed all the ordinances of Lycurgus from his youth up; had performed all duties with cheerful obedience; had shown himself singularly docile and gentle; had never asserted or put himself forward among his fellow-citizens. But the mask of Spartan discipline covered a latent spirit of pride and ambition which no one suspected. Agesilaus, though strong and courageous, was of insignificant stature and lame. When he claimed the throne, an objection was raised on the ground of his deformity; for an oracle had once solemnly warned Lacedaemon to beware of a halt reign. But like all sacred weapons this oracle could be blunted or actually turned against the adversaries. The god did not mean, said Lysander, physical lameness; but the reign of one who was not truly descended from Heracles. Yet those Spartans who believed in literal interpretation of divine words were ill content with the preference of Agesilaus.

The new king displayed remarkable discretion and policy by his general demeanour of deferential respect to the other authorities. This had the greater effect, as the kings were generally wont to make up by their haughty manners for their want of real power. Agesilaus made himself popular with everybody, and he maintained as king the simplicity which had marked his life as a private citizen. He was unswervingly true to his friends; but this virtue declined to vice, when he upheld his partisans in acts of injustice.

Not long after his accession, a serious incident occurred which gives us a glimpse of the social condition of the Lacedaemonian state at this period and shows that while the government was struggling” to maintain its empire abroad, it was menaced at home by dangers which the existence of that empire rendered graver every year. Commerce with the outside world and acquisition of money had promoted considerable inequalities in wealth; and in consequence the number of Peers or fully enfranchised Spartan citizens was constantly diminishing, while the class of those who had become too poor to pay their scot to the syssitia was proportionally growing. These disqualified citizens were not degraded to the rank of Perioeci; they formed a separate class and were named Inferiors; a stroke of luck might at any moment enable one of them to pay his subscription, and restore him to full citizenship. But the Inferiors naturally formed a class of malcontents; and the narrow, ever narrowing, oligarchy of Peers had to fear that they might make common cause with the Perioeci and Helots and conspire against the state. Such a conspiracy was hatched, but was detected in its first stage through the efficient system of secret police which was established at Sparta. The prime mover seems to have been a young man of the Inferior class named Cinadon, of great strength and bravery. The ephors learned from an informer that Cinadon had called his attention in the market-place to the small number of Spartans compared with the multitude of their enemies—one perhaps in a hundred. All alike, Inferiors, Neodamodes, Perioeci, Helots, were, according to Cinadon, his accomplices; “for hear any of them talk about the Spartans, he talks as if he could eat them raw.” And when Cinadon was asked where the conspirators would find arms, he pointed to the shops of the ironsmiths in the market-place, and added that every workman and husbandman possessed tools. On the ground of information which was perhaps more precise than this, the ephors sent for Cinadon, whom they had often employed on police service, and sent him on a mission of this kind, but with an escort which arrested him on the road, put him to the torture, and wrung from him the names of his accomplices. It would have been dangerous to arrest him in Sparta and so spread the alarm before the names of the others were known. Asked why he conspired, Cinadon said: “I wished to be inferior to none in Sparta.” He was scourged round the city, and put to death with his fellows.

Recollecting the histories of other states we cannot forbear wondering that an ambitious general like Lysander did not attempt to use for his own purposes this mass of discontent, into which Cinadon’s abortive conspiracy opens a glimpse. There was something in the Spartan air which made a peer rarely capable of disloyalty to the privileges of his own class.


Sect. 4. Asiatic Campaigns of Agesilaus. Battle of Cnidus, 396 B.C. 


It was arranged that Agesilaus should take the place of Dercyllidas; that he should take with him a force of 2000 Neodamodes, and a military council of thirty Spartans, including Lysander.

In the Spartan projects at this juncture we can observe very clearly the effect of the episode of the expedition of Cyrus and the Ten Thousand in revolutionising the attitude of Greece towards Persia and spreading the idea that Persia was really weak. The Spartan leaders seemed to have regarded the lands of the Great King as a field of easy conquest for a bold Greek. King Agesilaus, especially, plans now began to disclose the consuming quality of ambition; learned of dethroning the Great King himself, and felt no doubt that he would at least speedily deliver the Asiatic coast from Persian control. But he lived sixty years too soon; and in any case this respectable Spartan was not the man to settle the “eternal question.” He regarded himself as a new Agamemnon going forth to capture a new Troy; and, to make the illusion of resemblance complete, he sailed with part of his army to Aulis, to offer sacrifice there in the temple of Artemis as the “king of men” had done before the sailing of the Greeks to Ilium. If Agesilaus had subverted the Persian empire, the sacrifice at Aulis would have seemed an interesting instance his display of a great man’s confidence in his own star. But the performance of Agesilaus can only provoke the mirth of history, especially as the solemnity was not successfully carried out. The Spartan king had not asked the permission of the Thebans to sacrifice in the temple; and a body of armed men interrupted the proceedings and compelled him to desist. It was an insult which Agesilaus never forgave to Thebes.

Lysander expected that the real command in the war would devolve upon himself, and on arriving in Asia he acted on that assumption. He was soon undeceived. Agesilaus had no intention of being merely a nominal chief; and he checked his councillor’s self-sufficiency by invariably refusing the petitions which were presented to him through Lysander. This policy was effectual; Lysander, smarting under the humiliation, was sent at his own request on a separate mission to the Hellespont, where he did useful work for. Sparta. The satraps in the meantime had renewed with Agesilaus the truce they had made with Dercyllidas, but it was soon broken by Tissaphernes. Agesilaus made a feint of marching into Caria, and Campaign then suddenly, when Tissaphernes had completed his dispositions for defence, turned northwards to Phrygia and invaded the satrapy of Pharnabazus. Here he accomplished nothing of abiding importance but secured a vast quantity of booty, with which he enriched his friends and favourites—it was no temptation to himself. The historian Xenophon, who has left us a special work on the life and character of Agesilaus, tells many anecdotes of this campaign, to illustrate the merits of his hero. Those incidents which bring out Anecdotes his humanity have more than a personal interest for us; they must be taken in connexion with the general fact that the Greeks of the fourth century were more humane than the Greeks of the fifth. We are told that Agesilaus protected his captives against ill-usage; they were to be treated as men, not as criminals. Sometimes slave­merchants, fleeing out of the way of his army, abandoned on the roadside little children whom they had bought. Instead of leaving these to perish by wolves or hunger, Agesilaus had them removed and given in charge to natives who were too old to be carried into captivity. But Agesilaus did not scruple to use the captives, without regard to their feelings, as “object-lessons” for his own soldiers. At Ephesus, where the winter was passed in drill, he conceived the idea of showing his troops the difference between good and bad training. He caused the prisoners to be put up for auction naked, so that the Greek soldiers might see the inferior muscles, the white skin, and the soft limbs of the Asiatics whose bodies were never exposed to the weather nor hardened by regular gymnastic discipline. The spectacle impressed the Greeks with their own superiority; but it was an outrage, though not intended as such, on the captives; for, while all Greeks habitually stripped for exercise, Asiatics think it a shame to be seen naked.

Having organised a force of cavalry during the winter, Agesilaus took the field in spring, and gained a victory over Tissaphernes on the Pactolus, near Sardis. The general ill-success of Tissaphernes was made a matter of complaint at Susa. The queen-mother Parysatis, who had never forgiven him for the part he played in the disaster of her beloved Cyrus, made all efforts to procure his downfall; and Tithraustes was sent to the coast to succeed him and put him to death. An offer was now made by Tithraustes to Agesilaus, which it would have been wise to accept. He was required to leave Asia, on condition that the Greek cities should enjoy complete autonomy, paying only their original tribute to Persia. Agesilaus could not agree without consulting his government at home, and an armistice of six months was concluded,—an armistice with Tithraustes, not with Persia; for Agesilaus was left free to turn his arms against Pharnabazus.

In his second campaign in Phrygia, the Spartan king was supported by a Paphlagonian prince named Otys, as well as by Spithridates, a Persian noble whom Lysander had induced to revolt. The province was ravaged up to the walls of Dascylion, where Pharnabazus resided, and the Spartan troops wintered in the rich parks of the neighbourhood, well supplied with birds and fish. The train of Pharnabazus, who moved about the country with all his furniture, was captured; but a dispute over the spoil alienated the oriental allies of Agesilaus, who was the more deeply chagrined at their departure, as he was violently in love with a beautiful youth, the son of Spithridates. The Greek occupation of Phrygia was brought to an end by an interesting scene—an interview between the Persian satrap and the Lacedaemonian general. Agesilaus arrived first at the appointed place and sat down on the grass to wait. Then the servants of Pharnabazus appeared and began to spread luxurious carpets for their master. But Pharnabazus seeing the simple seat of Agesilaus went and sat down beside him. They shook hands, and Pharnabazus made a speech of dignified remonstrance. “I was the faithful ally of Sparta when she was at war with Athens; I helped her to victory; I never played her false, like Tissaphernes; and now, for all this, you have brought me to such a plight that I cannot get a dinner in my own province save by picking up what you leave. All my parks and hunting grounds and houses you have ravaged or burnt. Is this justice or gratitude?” After a long silence, Agesilaus explained that being at war with the Great King he had to treat all Persian territory as hostile; but invited the satrap to throw off his allegiance and become an ally of Sparta. “If the king sends another governor and puts me under him,” said Pharnabazus, “then I shall be glad to become your friend and ally; but now, while I hold this post of command for him, I shall make war upon you with all my strength.” Agesilaus was delighted with this becoming reply. “I will quit your territory at once,” he said, “and will respect it in future, so long as I have others to make war upon.” Farewells were said and Pharna­bazus rode away; but his handsome son, dropping behind, said to Agesilaus, “ I make you my guest,” and gave him a javelin. Agesilaus accepted the proffered friendship and gave in exchange the ornaments of his secretary’s horse. The incident had a sequel. In later years this young Persian, ill-treated by his brothers, fled for refuge to Greece, and did not seek in vain the protection of his guest­friend Agesilaus.

His success in Phrygia rendered Agesilaus more than ever disposed to attempt conquests in the interior of Asia Minor. But in the meantime he had mismanaged matters of greater moment. Before he marched against Pharnabazus, he had received a message from Sparta, committing to him the supreme command by sea. The preparation of an adequate fleet was urgent. Conon, with eighty sail—the rest of the armament was not yet completed—had induced Rhodes to revolt and had captured a corn fleet which an Egyptian prince had dispatched to the Lacedaemonians. Agesilaus took measures for the equipment of a fleet of 120 triremes at the expense of the cities of the islands and coast-land; but he committed the blunder of entrusting the command to Pisander, his brother-in-law, a man of no experience. After his Phrygian expedition, Agesilaus had been himself recalled to Europe for reasons which will presently be related; while Phamabazus went to discharge the functions of joint­admiral with Conon, who had visited Susa in person, to stimulate Persian zeal and obtain the necessary funds. In the middle of the summer the fleet of Conon and Pharnabazus, having left Cilician waters, appeared off the coast of the Cnidian peninsula. The numbers are uncertain, but the Persian fleet was overwhelmingly larger than that of Pisander, who sailed out from Cnidus to oppose it with desperate courage. The result could not be doubtful. Pisander’s Asiatic contingents deserted him without fighting, and of the rest the greater part were taken or sunk. Pisander fell in the action. The Greek cities of Asia expelled the Spartan garrisons and acknowledged the overlordship of Persia. Thus Conon, in the guise of a Persian admiral, avenged Athens and undid the victory of the Aegospotami in a battle which was almost as easily won. The maritime power of Sparta was destroyed, and the unstable foundations of her empire undermined.


Sect. 5. Sparta at the Gates of the Peloponnesus (the “Corinthian War”)


At the same time, she was suffering serious checks nearer home. While Agesilaus was meditating his wonderful schemes against Persia, war had broken out in Greece between Sparta and her allies; and the turn it took rendered it necessary to recall him from Asia. It is necessary to go back a little to explain.

After the battle of the Goat’s River, Sparta had kept for herself all the fruits of victory. She had taken over the maritime empire of her prostrate foe, and enjoyed its tribute. Her allies had got nothing; and yet they had made far greater sacrifices than Sparta herself throughout the Peloponnesian war. Any demands made by Corinth and other allies who had borne the burden and heat of those years were haughtily rejected. Lacedaemon felt herself strong enough to treat her former friends with contempt. She further exhibited her despotic temper by her proceedings within the Peloponnesus against those who had displeased her. Elis had given her repeated and recent grounds of offence, and Elis was now chastised, King Agis invaded and ravaged the country, and imposed severe conditions on the Eleans. They were deprived of their Triphylian territory, of Cyllene their port, and of other places; and were to pull down the incomplete fortifications of their city. The only grace accorded to them was that they should still have the privilege of conducting the Olympian festival. The Spartans indulged another grudge by expelling from Naupactus and Cephallenia the residue of the Messenians, who had settled in those places.

The exercise of authority within the Peloponnesus was regarded by Sparta as an ordering of her own domain; but she also began vigorously to assert her power in the north of Greece. She resuscitated into new life her colony of Heraclea, near Thermopylae, and pushing into Thessaly she placed a Lacedaemonian garrison and harmost in Pharsalus.

When war broke out between Persia and Sparta, it was the policy of Persia to excite a war in Greece against her enemy, and fan the smouldering discontent of the secondary Greek powers into a flame. The satrap Tithraustes sent a Rhodian agent, named Timocrates, with fifty talents to bribe the leading statesmen of the chief cities to join Persia in a league of hostility against Sparta. Timocrates visited Argos, Corinth, and Thebes, and gained over some of the most influential people. But it really required only an assurance of Persian co-operation, and then a favourable occasion, to raise a general resistance to the ascendency of Lacedaemon. The first aggression, however, came from Lacedaemon herself. A trifle, a border dispute between Phocis and Opuntian Locris, furnished the occasion, the Locrians appealing to Thebes, the Phocians to Lacedaemon, for support. The Lacedaemonians, according to their friend Xenophon, rejoiced to have a pretext for attacking Thebes and chastising her insolence. A double invasion of Boeotia was arranged, king Pausanias advancing from the south, and Lysander coming down from Heraclea, on the north.

Thus threatened, Thebes turned for aid to her old enemy for whose utter destruction she had pleaded a few years agone. Athens had been steadily recovering a measure of her prosperity; the combines oligarchical party seems to have already merged its own ambitions in loyalty to the democratic majority which had shown such generosity in the day of its triumph; and in the debate on the request for aid, men of all parties alike voted to seize the opportunity for attempting to break free from Spartan rule. The decision was felt to be bold, since the Piraeus was unfortified; but there was also a feeling that the tide was at the flood—Conon was sailing the south­eastern seas, Rhodes had revolted,—the moment must not be lost. So there was concluded an “eternal alliance between the Boeotians and Athenians”; the phrase, pregnant with the irony of history, has been preserved on a fragment of the original treaty-stone, and it shows at least the enthusiastic hopes of the hour.

When Lysander approached Boeotia, he was joined by Orchomenus, which was always bitterly hostile to Theban supremacy in Boeotia. He and Pausanias had arranged to meet near Haliartus, which is about half-way between Thebes and Orchomenus. It is uncertain whether Lysander was too soon or Pausanias too late; but Lysander arrived in the district of Haliartus first and attacked the town. From their battlements the men of Haliartus could descry a band of Thebans coming along the road from Thebes, some time before the danger was visible to their assailants; and they suddenly sallied forth from the gates. Taken by surprise and attacked on both sides, Lysander’s men were driven back, and Lysander was slain. His death was a loss to Sparta, which she could not make good. He Death of had made her empire such as it was; and she had no other man of first-rate ability. But the death of the Spartan Lysander was no loss to Greece.

Pausanias soon came up, and his first object was to recover the corpse of his dead colleague. He was strong enough to extort this from the Thebans and Haliartians, but an Athenian army came up at the same moment to their assistance, under the leadership of Thrasybulus. Pausanias was in a difficult predicament. To fight meant to incur defeat; but to acknowledge weakness by asking for a burial truce was galling to Spartan pride. A council of war, however, decided to beg for a truce; and, when the Thebans, contrary to usage, would grant it only on condition that the Peloponnesian army should leave Boeotia, the terms were accepted. The Spartans vented their sorrow for the loss of Lysander in anger against their king. He was condemned to death for having failed to keep tryst with Lysander and for having declined battle. It is not clear whether the first charge was well founded; as for the second, no prudent general could have acted otherwise. Pausanias, who had discreetly refrained from returning to Sparta, spent the rest of life as an exile at Tegea.

The result of this double blow to the Spartans—their prestige tarnished and their ablest general fallen—was the conclusion of a league against her by the four most important states. Thebesa and Athens were now joined by Corinth and Argos. This alliance was soon increased by the adhesion of the Euboeans, the Acarnani the Chalcidians of Thrace, and other minor states. Perhaps the most active spirit in this insurgent movement was the Theban Ismenias. This leader succeeded in expelling the Spartans from their northern post Heraclea, and spreading the Theban alliance among the peoples of those regions. Sparta lost her foothold in Thessaly, and the Phocians, who were under the protection of a Spartan harmost, were defeated.

Thus the situation of Greece and the prospects of Sparta were completely changed. The allies, when spring came, gathered together their forces at the Isthmus, and it was proposed by one bold Corinthian to march straight on Sparta and “burn out the wasps their nest.” But the Lacedaemonians were already advancing through Arcadia to Sicyon, from which place they crossed over, by Nemea, to the southern shores of the Saronic gulf—a movement somewhat hampered by the allies, who had reached Nemea. The allies then took up a post near Corinth, and a battle was fought. The number of combatants on each side was unusually large for a Greek battle. The Spartans on their wing decisively routed the Athenians and though on the other wing their subjects were route out, it was distinctly a Spartan victory. The losses of the Confederates were more than twice as great as those of their foes. Some unrecorded feat of arms was achieved in this battle by five Athenian horsemen who lost their lives; and in the burying-ground outside the Dipylon Gate of Athens, we may still see the funeral monument of one of these “five knights,” Dexileos, a youth of twenty, who is pourtrayed, according to Greek habit, not in the moment of his death, but in the moment of victory, spearing a hoplite who has fallen under his horse’s hoofs. Strategically, the Confederates lost nothing, the victors gained nothing by the battle of Corinth. The Isthmm was left under the control of the Confederates, who were now free to oppose Agesilaus in Bocotia.

For Agesilaus was bearing down on Boeotia. The battle of Haliartus and the events which followed had decided the ephors to recall him from Asia, his presence being more pressingly need in Europe; and with a heavy heart he was constrained to abandon his dazzling visions of Persian conquest. Agamemnon had to return to Mycenae without having taken Troy. He marched overland by a route which no army had traversed since the expedition of Xerxes, through Thrace and Macedonia. At Amphipolis he received the news of the victory of Corinth, not excessively inspiriting. But even as he marched the fate of his country’s empire was being decided. The victory of Conon at Cnidus was the knell of the ambitions of Agesilaus. When his army reached Chaeronea the sun suffered an eclipse; and the meaning of the phenomenon was explained by the news, which presently arrived, of the battle of Cnidus. To conceal from his army the full import of this news was the first duty of the general; and the second was to hasten on a battle, while it could still be concealed. Agesilaus had been reinforced by some contingents from Lacedaemon, as well as by troops from Phocis and Orchomenus; but his main force consisted of the soldiers whom he had brought from Asia, among whom were some of the famous Ten Thousand, including Xenophon himself. The Confederate army which had fought at Corinth was now in Boeotia, though hardly in the same strength, as a garrison must have been left to defend their important position near the Isthmus. The Confederates established their camp in the district of Coronea, a favourable spot for blocking against a foe the road which leads to Thebes from Phocis and the valley of the Cephisus. On the field where the Boeotians had thrown off Athenian rule half a century before, Athenians and Boeotians now joined to throw off the domination of Lacedaemon. Agesilaus advanced from the Cephisus. He commanded his own right wing, and the Argives who were on the Confederate left fled before him without striking a blow. On the other side, the Thebans on the Confederate right routed the Orchomenians on the Lacedaemonian left. Then the two victorious right wings wheeling round met each other, and the real business of the day began. The object of Agesilaus was to prevent the Thebans from joining and rallying their friends. The encounter of the hoplites is described as incom­parably terrible by Xenophon, who was himself engaged in it. Agesilaus, whose bodily size was hardly equal to such a fray, was trodden underfoot, and rescued by the bravery of his bodyguard. The pressure of the deep column of the Thebans pushed a way through the Lacedaemonian array. Agesilaus was left master of the field; he erected a trophy; and the Confederates asked for the burial truce. But though the battle of Coronea, like the battle of Corinth, was a technical victory for the Spartans, history must here again offer her congratulations to the side which was, superficially, defeated. In the chief action of the day, the Thebans had displayed superiority and thwarted the attempt of their enemy to cut them off. It was a great moral encouragement to Thebes for future warfare with Lacedaemon. And immediately, it was a distinct success for the Confederates. When an aggressor cannot follow up his victory, the victory is strategically equivalent to a repulse. Agesilaus immediately evacuated Boeotia—that was the result of Coronea. He crossed over to the Peloponnesus from Delphi, as the Confederates commanded the road by Corinth.

It was round Corinth that the struggle of the next years mainly Spartans centred, in fitting accordance with the object of the war. Sparta was blockaded fighting for domination beyond the Peloponnesus; her enemies were fighting to keep her within the Peloponnesus. The most effective way of accomplishing this design was to hold the gates of the peninsula, between the Corinthian and Saronic gulfs, and not let her pass out. With this view long walls were built binding Corinth, on the one hand with its western port Lechaeon, and on the other with its eastern port at Cenchreae. Thus none could pass from the Peloponnesus into Northern Greece without dealing with the defenders of these fortifications. Never had Lacedaemon been more helpless; almost a prisoner in her peninsula, and her maritime empire dissolved. This momentary paralysis of Lacedaemon proved the salvation of Athens.

The restoration of Athens to her place among the independent powers of Greece at this juncture came about by curious means. The satrap Phamabazus who had done so much to aid Lysander in destroying her, now helped to bring about her resurrection. He had not forgiven Sparta for the injury which Agesilaus had inflicted on his province, and this rankling resentment was kept alive by the circumstance that, while the other Asiatic cities had unanimously declared against Sparta after the battle of Cnidus, Abydus alone held out against himself under the Spartan Dercyllidas. He exhibited his wrath by accompanying Conon and the fleet, in the following spring, to the shores of Greece, to ravage the Spartan territory and to encourage and support the Confederates. A Persian satrap within sight of Corinth and Salamis was a strange sight for Greece. His revengefulness stood Athens in good stead. When he returned home, he allowed Conon to retain the fleet and make use of it to rebuild the Long Walls of Athens and fortify the Piraeus. He even supplied money to inflict this crushing blow on Sparta, a blow which completely undid the chief result of the Peloponnesian war. The two long parallel walls connecting Athens with the Piraeus were rebuilt; the port was again made defensible ; and the Athenians could feel once more that they were a free and independent people in the Grecian world. Conon who had wrought out their deliverance erected a temple to the Cnidian Aphrodite in the Piraeus, as a monument of his great victory. Never since the day of Salamis was there such cause for rejoicing at Athens as when the fortifications were completed at the end of the autumn. As rebuilder of the walls Conon might claim to be a second Themistocles. But the comparison only reminds us of the change which had come over Greece in a hundred years. It was through Persian support that Athens now under the auspices of Conon regained in part the position which she had won by her championship of Hellas against Persia under the auspices of Themistocles. She did not regain her former ascendency or her former empire, but she was restored to an equality with the other powerful states of Greece; she could feel herself the peer of Thebes, Corinth, and Argos, and of Sparta, now that Sparta had fallen from her high estate. The Athenians could now calmly maintain that defiance which they had boldly offered to Sparta by their alliance with Thebes. About the same time the northern islands of Lemnos, Imbros, and Scyrus seem to have been reunited to Athens, and she recovered her control of Delos which the Spartans had taken from her. Chios too became her ally.

It was of vital importance to the Lacedaemonians to gain command of the gates of the Peloponnesus by capturing some part of the line of defence; and thus Corinth becomes the centre of interest. The Lacedaemonians established their headquarters at Sicyon, and from this base made a series of efforts to break through the lines of Corinth—efforts which were ultimately successful. Unluckily the chronology is obscure; and it cannot be decided whether these operations were partly concurrent with, or altogether subsequent to, the rebuilding of the Long Walls of Athens. In Corinth itself there was a considerable party favourable to Sparta. This party seems to have arranged a plot for violently overthrowing the oligarchy which was in power; but the design was suspected and prevented by the government, who caused the friends of Sparta to be massacred in cold blood, in the market-place and theatre, on the last day of the feast of Euclea. The Corinthian government at the same time drew closer the bonds which attached it to the enemies of Sparta. By a remarkab]e measure Corinth and Argos united themselves into a federal state; the boundary pillars were pulled up; the citizens enjoyed common rights. It would be interesting to know how this federal constitution was framed; but such an union had no elements of endurance; it was merely a political expedient.

A considerable number of the philo-Laconian party had escaped; some still remained in the city; and these now managed to open a gate in the western wall and admit Praxitas, the commander at Sicyon, with a Lacedaemonian mora of 600 hoplites. Praxitas secured his position between the two walls by constructing a ditch and palisade, across the intermural space, on the side of Corinth. The Corinthians and their allies came down from the city; the palisade was torn up; a battle was fought; and the Lacedaemonians, completely victorious, captured the town of Lechaeon, though not the port. Praxitas then pulled down part of the walls, and made incursions into the Corinthian territory on the side of the Saronic bay. But when winter set in, he disbanded his army, without making any provision for keeping the command of the Isthmus; and the Athenians came, with carpenters and masons, and repaired the breach in the walls.

A warfare of raids was at the same time constantly carried on by the hostile parties, from their posts at Corinth and Sicyon. In this warfare a force of mercenaries, trained and commanded by the Athenian Iphicrates, was especially conspicuous. They were armed as peltasts, with light shield and javelin, and this armour was far better suited for the conditions of camp life and the duties of the professional soldier, than the armour of a hoplite. The employment of mercenaries had been growing,—destined ultimately to supplant the institution of citizen armies. It was the wilder parts of Greece, like Crete, Aetolia, Acarnania, that chiefly supplied the mercenary troops. Iphicrates of Rhamnus, an officer of great energy and talent, recognised the importance of the professional peltast as a new element in Hellenic warfare, and immortalised his name in military history by reforming the peltast’s equipment. His improvements consisted in lengthening the sword and the javelin, and introducing a kind of light leggings, known as “Iphicratid” boots. It is difficult to appreciate the full import of these changes; but they were clearly meant to unite effectiveness of attack with rapidity of motion.

This enterprising officer and his peltasts won the chief honours of the “Corinthian War.” Agesilaus had been sent out to gain some more permanent successes than those which had been achieved by Praxitas. His brother Teleutias co-operated with him by sea; the Long Walls were stormed, and the port of Lechaeon was captured. In the following year he went forth again. It was the time of the Isthmian festival, and the games were about to be held in the precincts of Poseidon at Isthmus. Agesilaus marched thither, interrupted the Corinthians and Argives who were beginning the celebration, and presided at the contest himself. When he retired, the Corinthians came and celebrated the festival over again; some athletes won the same race twice.

Agesilaus then captured the port of Piraeon, on the promontory which forms the northern side of the inmost recess of the Corinthian gulf. The importance of this capture lay in the fact that Piraeon connected Corinth with her allies in Boeotia; its occupation was a threat to Boeotia; and the Boeotians immediately sent envoys to Agesilaus. The position was now reversed; the Spartans commanded the Isthmus passage, and by possessing Sicyon, Piraeon, Lechaeon, as well as Sidon and Crommyon on the Saronic gulf, they entirely closed in Corinth, except on the side of Argolis. If Agesilaus felt himself the arbiter of Greece, his triumph was short. The situation was rescued by Iphicrates.

In the garrison at Lechaeon there were some men of Amyclae, whose custom and privilege it was to return to their native place to keep the local feast of Hyacinthus. The time of this feast was now at hand, and they set out to return home by Sicyon and Arcadia, the only way open to them. But as it was not safe for a handful of men to march under the walls of Corinth, they were escorted most of the way to Sicyon by a mora of 600 Lacedaemonian hoplites. As this escort was returning to Lechaeon, Iphicrates and his peltasts issued from the gates of Corinth and attacked them. The heavy spearmen were worn out by the repeated assaults of the light troops with which they were unable to cope, and a large number were destroyed. This event, though less striking and important, bore a resemblance to the famous calamity of Sphacteria. In both cases, Spartan warriors had been discomfited in the same way by the continuous attacks of inaccessible light troops; and in both cases a blow was dealt to the military prestige of Lacedaemon. The success of Iphicrates was a suggestive sign of the future which might be in store for the professional peltast. To Agesilaus the news came at a moment when he was regarding with triumphant arrogance his captives and the Theban envoys. His pride was changed into chagrin; the army was plunged into sorrow; and only the relatives of those soldiers who had fallen in the battle moved about with the jubilant air of victors. Leaving another division as a garrison in Lechaeon, Agesilaus returned home, skulking through Sicyon and the Arcadian cities at night, in order to avoid unkind remarks. Piraeon, Sidon, and Crommyon were soon recovered by Iphicrates; and the garrison of Lechaeon seems to have done no more than keep the gates of the Peloponnesus open. This was the result of the “Corinthian” war. Sparta had succeeded in breaking down the barrier which was to shut her out from North Greece; but she had sustained a serious loss and damage to her reputation.


Sect. 6. The King’s Peace


We must now turn from the Isthmus of Corinth to the eastern coasts of the Aegean. The Lacedaemonians ascribed the success of t their opponents to the support of Persia, and drew the conclusion that their chance lay in detaching Persia to their own side. With this view they had dispatched Antalcidas to open negotiations with Tiribazus. The proposals of Sparta were (1) that the Hellenic cities of Asia should be subjects of the king; this was the price of Persian help; (2) that all other Hellenic cities should be independent; this was aimed at the Confederates—at the supremacy of Thebes in Boeotia, and at the union of Corinth with Argos. The Athenians and their allies sent Conon and other envoys to counteract the mission of Antalcidas, and perhaps it was at this time also that they sent the orator Andocides to Sparta to consider terms of peace. Both the mission of Andocides and the mission of Antalcidas were alike unsuccessful. Tiribazus, who was favourable to Sparta and threw Conon into prison, was recalled; and his successor Struthas had no Spartan leanings. The object of Antalcidas was indeed ultimately reached, but its attainment was postponed for four or five years, and the war went on as before.

The military events of these years are not of great interest; our knowledge of them is meagre. In Asia, the Spartan cause revives. Thibron is sent out once more, and though he sustains a severe defeat at the hands of Struthas, it is not until he has won over Ephesus, Magnesia, and Priene. Soon Cnidus and Samos follow the example of these cities. Agesilaus invades Acarnania, and forces the Acamanians to join the Lacedaemonian league; his colleague Agesipolis carries out one of those invasions of Argolis which lead to nothing. Then the Spartans use Aegina as a base for harassing Attica, and a warfare of surprises is carried on between the harmosts of Aegina and Athenian admirals. The harmost Gorgopas captured four ships of an Athenian squadron; the Athenian Chabrias then landed in Aegina, laid an ambush, and killed Gorgopas. Teleutias, the brother of Agesilaus, was sent to Aegina soon after­wards. He made an attack on the Piraeus at daybreak, and towed away some of the galleys lying in the harbour, the war was on the whole decisive success was gained.

But the most important event was the dominion on the Propontis. At this moment Athens was in financial straits, for she had ceased to receive Persian subsidies. When an indirect impost of 1/40th had been tried and found insufficient, a direct war-tax was levied. For the Athenians had determined to operate both in the south and in the north; in the south to assist their friend Evagoras who was revolting from the Great King, in the north to recover control of the road to the Euxine Sea. Thrasybulus, the restorer of the democracy, sailed with a fleet of forty ships to the Hellespont, and gained over to the Athenian alliance the islands of Thasos and Samothrace, the Chersonesus, and the two cities which commanded the Bosphorus, Byzantium and Chalcedon. Proceeding to Lesbos, he defeated and slew the Spartan harmost, and established Athenian supremacy over most of the island. He also won Clazomenae. The original object for which he had been sent out was to assist Rhodes in maintaining her independence against the efforts of Sparta to regain the mastery of the island. But to act with effect it was necessary to raise money, and the Athenian fleet coasted round Asia Minor, levying contributions. These exactions appear to have been a renewal of the tax of 5 per cent which Athens imposed on the commerce of her allies after the Sicilian expedition. It seemed like the beginning of a new empire. Aspendus in Pamphylia was one of the places visited, and the visit was fatal to Thrasybulus. The violent methods of his soldiers enraged the inhabitants; they surprised him at night in his tent and slew him. Athens had now lost the two men of action to whom, since the death of Pericles, she owed most, Conon and Thrasybulus. Conon, who soon after his imprisonment by Tiribazus died in Cyprus, had broken down the maritime dominion of the Lacedaemonian oppressor and had given Athens the means of recovering her independence and her sea-power. Thrasybulus had given to the Athenian democracy a new life and breathed into it a new spirit of conciliation and moderation. He strikes us—we know too little of him—as an eminently reasonable citizen, one of those men who command general confidence, and are not biassed by prejudice or ambition. The virtues of Thrasybulus were moral rather than intellectual. After his death insinuations were made against his integrity  and one of his friends named Ergocles was found guilty of embezzlement of money collected on the expedition of Thrasybulus and was put to death. But the statements of an advocate—and we have no other evidence—carry no weight.

The success of Thrasybulus in re-establishing a toll for the advantage of Athens on commerce passing through the Bosphorus was almost immediately endangered by Anaxibius, whom Sparta promptly sent out to act against Athens and Pharnabazus. He deprived Athens of her tolls by seizing the merchant vessels. Iphicrates was dispatched to oppose him with 1200 peltasts, and the Hellespont became the scene of the same kind of warfare of raids and surprises which we saw carried on at Aegina. At last Iphicrates saw a favourable opportunity for a decisive blow. Anaxibius had gone to place a garrison in Antandrus, which he had just gained over. Iphicrates crossed by night from the Chersonese and laid an ambush on the return route, near the gold mines of Cremaste. The troops of Anaxibius marched in careless order, traversing the narrow mountain passes in extended single file, without the slightest suspicion that an enemy lay in the way. Suddenly, as they were coming down from the mountains into the plain of Cremaste, the peltasts of Iphicrates leaped out. Anaxibius saw at a glance that the case was desperate. The scattered hoplites had no chance against the peltasts. “I must die here,” he said to his men, “my honour demands it; but do you save yourselves.” The youth whom he loved and who always accompanied him fell fighting by his side. This exploit of Iphicrates ensured the command of the Hellespont and Bosphorus to Athens.

Unfortunately for Athens, the political situation changed and other great powers intervened. At the beginning of the fourth century there were three great powers which aimed at supremacy over portions of the Greek world—Persia, Sparta, and the tyrant of Syracuse, Dionysius. At first, however, it was not a case of these three great powers uniting in a sacred alliance for the suppression of liberty. Dionysius did not intervene in the east; and Persia and Sparta contested the supremacy over the Asiatic Greeks. Thus Persia, in the cause of her own supremacy in Asia, made common cause with liberty elsewhere. The general military failure of Sparta forced her to seek a reconciliation with Persia on the basis of abandoning Asia. One of the obstacles to the accomplishment of this object was the influence of the satrap Pharnabazus who cherished bitter hostility to the country of Dercyllidas and Agesilaus. On the other hand, Athens had taken an ambiguous step which could not fail to create distrust and resentment at the Persian court. If Athens was Athens indebted to Persia for the restoration of her walls, she had also been befriended and supported by Evagoras, prince of Salamis, the friend of Conon, and she had bestowed upon him her citizenship in recognition of his services. Thus, when he revolted from Persia, Athens was in an embarrassing position. The support of Persia against Sparta was all-important to her. Artaxerxes was her ally; but Evagoras was her citizen too, and a Greek. Against her spartan own apparent interests, Athens sent ten ships to assist her Cypriote friend; and, though they were captured by a Lacedaemonian admiral and never actually served against the Persians, the incident was calculated to dispose the Great King to entertain the overtures of Sparta. The diplomatist Antalcidas went up to Susa and renewed his proposals. Backed by the influence of Tiribazus he overcame the reluctance of Artaxerxes, who was personally prepossessed against Sparta, and induced him to agree to enforce a general pacification, on the same conditions which had been proposed before. Opposition on the part of Phamabazus was removed by summoning him to court to marry a daughter of Artaxerxes.

The diplomacy of Sparta was successful not only at Susa; it was successful also at Syracuse, and obtained an auxiliary force of twenty triremes from the tyrant Dionysius.

With the support of the west and the east, Sparta was able to force the peace upon Hellas. When Antalcidas and Tiribazus returned to the coast, they found Iphicrates blockading the Spartan fleet at Abydus. Antalcidas dexterously rescued the fleet from this predicament, and was able, when the Syracusan vessels joined him, as well as Persian reinforcements, to blockade the Athenians in the Hellespont and prevent com vessels from reaching Athens. The coasting trade of Attica was at the same time suffering grievously through the raids from Aegina, which have already been mentioned. Hence peace was expedient for Athens; and the allies could not think of continuing the war without her. The representatives of the belligerents were summoned to Sardis, and Tiribazus read aloud the edict of his master, showing them the royal seal. It was to this effect:—

 “King Artaxerxes thinks it just that the cities in Asia, and the islands of Clazomenae and Cyprus, shall belong to him. Further, that all the other Greek cities, small and great, shall be autonomous; except Lemnos, Imbros, and Scyrus, which shall belong to Athens, as aforetime. If any refuse to accept this peace I shall make war on them, along with those who are of the same purpose, both by land and sea, with both ships and money.”

The representatives were to report to the cities the terms of the peace, and then meet at Sparta to declare their acceptance. All accepted; but the Thebans raised a difficulty by claiming to take the oath on behalf of all the Boeotian cities as well as of themselves. Such a proposal would clearly place the Boeotian cities in a different class from the other cities of Greece, which took the oath each for itself. It was an attempt to assert the dependence of the Boeotian communities on Thebes, whereas one of the chief objects of the peace was to assert their autonomy. Agesilaus was secretly pleased with the opposition of Thebes: he hoped that the Thebans would persist in it and give him the opportunity of attacking and subduing their detested city. But they submitted in time and disappointed his vengeance.

The King’s Peace was inscribed on stone tablets, which were set up in the chief sanctuaries of the Greek states. There was a feeling among many that Greece had suffered a humiliation in having to submit to the arbitration of Persia. Both Spartans and Athenians had alike used Persian help, when they could get it, but never before had the domestic conflicts of Hellas been settled by barbarian dictation and under a barbarian sanction. It was Sparta’s doing. She constituted herself the minister of the Great King’s will in order to save her own position; and the Greeks of Asia were left to endure oriental methods of government. Athens, though she had lost what Thrasybulus had won for her, was allowed to retain her old insular dependencies in the North Aegean; a concession which shows that it was thought necessary to bribe her into accepting the peace, and that Sparta was more eagerly bent on weaken­ing the other confederates. In truth, the main objects were to break up the Boeotian league and to separate the Argives from Corinth.

But it was an age of federal experiments, and the King’s Peace, while it dissolved the leagues of Argos and Thebes, led to a federal movement in Cnidus, and Iasus, flung back into the power of Persia, formed an alliance with Rhodes, and in token thereof these cities issued alliance  coins of the Rhodian standard, engraven with a picture of the infant Heracles strangling the snakes. It was an alliance for mutual protection of their liberties. These were days in which, from one end of the Greek world to the other, smaller states, seeing their freedom threatened by Persia, Sparta, or Syracuse, were inclined to draw together into small federations. And from one end of the Greek world to the other there seems to have spread a fellow-feeling among these smaller states, a consciousness that their cause was the same. In the west, Croton and Zacynthus, viewing with alarm the extension of the Syracusan empire, seem to have had a secret understanding, and it is most curious that they too engraved on their money the same symbolic scene. Again on the Propontis, at Cyzicus and Lampsacus, this properly Theban token reappears. It is hazardous to draw conclusions from coins as to definite political relations without some further evidence; but Heracles strangling the snakes seems to have been adopted at this period by tacit unanimity, if nothing more, as an emblem of liberty.