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Sect. 1. High-handed Policy of Sparta


The gates of the Peloponnesus were again open to Sparta without dispute; she was supported by Persia, and she had no complications in Asia to divide her energy. Accordingly she was able to renew the despotic policy which had been inaugurated for her by Lysander. Arcadian Mantinea was the first to suffer. The Mantineans were accused of various acts of disobedience and disloyalty to Sparta, and commanded to pull down their walls. When they refused, king Agesipolis—son of the exiled Pausanias—marched out against them. The city of Mantinea stood in a high plain, without any natural defences, depending entirely on its walls of unburnt brick. The river Ophis flowed through the town; and, a blockade proving tedious, Agesipolis dammed the stream at the point of issue. The water rose and undermined the walls; and when one of the towers threatened to fall, the people surrendered. Their punishment was severe. Mantinea ceased to be a city, and was broken up into its five constituent villages. Those who originally belonged to the village of Mantinea remained on the site of the city; the rest had to pull down their houses and move each to the village where his pro­perty was. The loss of civic life meant to a Greek the loss of all his higher interests.

Agesilaus, who had once gone forth to destroy the Persian power, zealously supported the King’s Peace. When someone suggested that it was at least curious to find the Spartans medizing, he rejoined, “Rather say that the Persians are laconizing.” Each way of putting it expressed a measure of the truth. But some of the Lacedae­monians, including king Agesipolis, were opposed to the recent policy of their government, and thought it ill-done to abandon the Greeks of Asia. Some years after the Peace, there seems to have been floating in the air a vague idea, which might or might not take shape, of organising another Asiatic expedition. It was to animate this idea that the Athenian orator Isocrates published a festal speech when the Greek nation was assembled at the Olympian festival. He advocated a grand Panhellenic union against Persia, under the common headship of Sparta and Athens—Sparta taking the com­mand by land, Athens by sea. It was the third occasion on which a renowned master of style had broached the same idea at the same gathering-place. Nearly thirty years ago, it had been recommended by the florid eloquence of Gorgias; more recently it had been advocated with gracious simplicity by Lysias; and now the rich periods of Isocrates urged it once more upon Greece. The project—in the ideal form in which Isocrates imagined it—was at this moment chimerical. A hundred years before, it had been hard enough to compass a practical co-operation between Greek powers of equal strength and pretensions, in a war of defence; it was hopeless to think of such co-operation now for a war of aggression. Sparta and Athens were quarrelling, as the orator complains, over the tribute of the Cyclad islands; and neither was likely to yield to the other without a clear award of war. And other troubles were brewing in another quarter.

The contest of east and west had been going on meanwhile in Cyprus, an island whose geographical situation has marked it out, like Sicily, to be a meeting-place of races. We have already met a man who played an eminent part in that struggle, Evagoras the prince of Salamis. He belonged to the Teucrid family which had reigned there in the days of Darius and Xerxes, but had been supplanted by a Phoenician dynasty about the middle of the fifth century. Evagoras, crossing over from the Cilician Soli, won back the sceptre of his race by a daring surprise. He governed with conspicuous moderation, discretion, and success; setting himself to the work of reviving the cause of Hellenism, which had lost much ground during the past half-century; and pursuing this task by entirely peaceful means. After Aegospotami, the city of Evagoras became the refuge for large numbers of Athenians who had settled down in various parts of the Athenian empire and could no longer remain securely in their homes. For the first sixteen years of his reign Evagoras was a faithful tributary of the Great King, and we have seen how his influence at Susa assisted Conon. But soon after the battle of Cnidus he became involved in war, both with Persia and with some of the Phoenician cities in the island. The Peace expressly recognised the sovereignty of Artaxerxes over Cyprus, and as soon as it was concluded, Persia began to concentrate her forces against Evagoras and a recalcitrant king of Egypt, with whom Evagoras was leagued. A severe defeat at sea shut Evagoras up in Salamis; but he held out so dauntlessly, and the war had already cost Persia so much, that Tiribazus agreed to leave him his principality, on condition that he should pay tribute “as a slave to his lord.” Evagoras refused; he would only pay it as one king to another. The negotiations were ruptured for a moment on this point of honour, but a dispute between the satrap and his subordinate general resulted in the removal of Tiribazus, and his successor permitted Evagoras to have his way.

The Salaminian despot had thus gained a moral triumph. He did not survive it many years, and the story of his death is curious. A certain man named Nicocreon formed a plot against his life, and being detected was forced to fly. He left a daughter behind him in Salamis under the care of a faithful eunuch. This servant privily acquainted both Evagoras and his son Pytagoras with the existence of this young lady and her uncommon beauty, and undertook to conduct them to her bedchamber, each without the knowledge of the other. Both kept the assignation and were slain by the eunuch, who thus avenged his master’s exile. Another son of Evagoras, named Nicocles, succeeded him, and pursued the same Hellenizing policy. One of the great objects of these enlightened princes was to keep their country in touch with the intellectual and artistic move­ments of Greece. Nicocles was a student of Greek philosophy, and a generous friend of the essayist, Isocrates, to whose pen we are indebted for much of what we know of the career of Evagoras.

Towards the close of the almost single-handed struggle of Salamis against Persia, the eyes of Greece were directed to a different quarter of the world. Events were passing in the north of the Aegean, which riveted the attention of Sparta and Athens; their Greek brethren of Cyprus and the Asiatic coast seem to be quite forgotten; for a while the oriental question almost passes out of the pages of Greek history. Yet it was destined that from that very region on the north-west comer of the Aegean should issue the force which should not only reclaim for European influence Cyprus and all the Greek cities of Asia, but bear Greek light into lands of which Agesilaus had never dreamed. That force was being forged in the Macedonian uplands; and some who were children when Isocrates published his Panegyric against the Barbarian lived to see the Barbarian succumb to a Greek power.

It was indeed only indirectly that the southern Greeks had now to concern themselves with their backward brethren of Macedonia. One of the chief obstacles to the development of this country was its constant exposure to the attacks of its Illyrian neighbours and an Illyrian invasion, supported by domestic disloyalty, compelled king Amyntas—he was the nephew of Perdiccas—to flee from his kingdom. Amyntas, soon after his accession, had concluded a close defensive and commercial alliance for fifty years with the Chalcidian league, which had been formed by Olynthus and comprised the towns of the Sithonian promontory. It was, as we observed already, an age of small federations. At the moment of his retreat Amyntas handed over to the Chalcidians the lower districts of Macedonia and the cities lying round the Thermaic gulf. The Macedonian cities readily em­braced an union which could protect them against the Illyrians, and the league spread from the maritime towns up the country and included even Pella. Perfect equality and brotherhood between the members was the basis of this Chalcidian confederacy. All the cities had common laws, common rights of citizenship, intermarriage and commerce; Olynthus did not assume a privileged position for herself. The neighbouring Greek cities were also asked to join, and some of them, Potidaea for instance, accepted the offer. But it was always a sacrifice for a Greek city to give up its hereditary laws and surrender any part of its sovereignty, whatever compensating advantages might be purchased; and there was consequently more reluctance among the Chalcidians than among the less developed Macedonians to join the league. The Olynthians, as their work grew, conceived the idea of a confederate power which should embrace the whole Chalcidic peninsula and its neighbourhood. Once this ambition took form, it became necessary to impose by force their propositions upon those who declined to accept them freely. The strong cities of Acanthus and Apollonia resisted, and sent envoys to Sparta to obtain her help. Moreover Amyntas had recovered his throne, and when the Olynthians refused to abandon the cities which he had handed over to them, he too looked for aid to Sparta. These appeals directed the eyes of Greece upon the Chalcidian confederacy. It was the Lacedaemonian policy to oppose all combinations and keep Greece disunited—a policy which was popular, in so far as it appealed to that innate love of autonomy which made it so difficult to bring about abiding federal unions in Greece. The ambassadors had little difficulty in persuading the Lacedaemonians and their allies that the movement in Chalcidice was dangerous to the interests of Sparta, and should be crushed at the outset; and they argued that the very liberality of the principles on which it was founded made the league more attractive and therefore more dangerous. A vote of assistance to Acanthus and Apollonia was passed, and a small advance force was immediately sent under Eudamidas. Though unable to meet the confederate army in the field, this force was sufficient to protect the cities which had refused to join the league, and it even induced Potidaea to revolt

The expedition against the Chalcidian Confederacy led unexpectedly to an important incident elsewhere. Phoebidas, the brother of Eudamidas, was to follow with larger forces, and, as the line of march lay through Boeotia, a party in Thebes favourable to Sparta thought to profit by the proximity of Spartan troops for the purpose of a revolution. Leontiadas, the most prominent member of this party, was then one of the polemarchs. He concerted with Phoebidas a plot to seize the Cadmea—the citadel of Thebes—on the day of the Thesmophoria; for on that day the citadel was given up to the use of the women who celebrated the feast. The plot succeeded perfectly; the acropolis was occupied without striking a blow; the oligarchical Council was intimidated by Leontiadas; and his colleague, the other polemarch, Ismenias was arrested. The leading anti-Spartans fled from Thebes, and a government friendly to Sparta was established. This was a great triumph for Sparta, a great satisfaction to Agesilaus, although, as a violation of peace, it caused a moment’s embarrassment. Was the government to recognise the action of Phoebidas and profit by it? Spartan hypocrisy compromised the matter; Phoebidas was fined 100,000 drachmae for his indiscretion, and the Cadmea was retained. Then Ismenias was tried by a body of judges representing Sparta and her allies, and was condemned on charges of Medism and executed. That Sparta, after the King’s Peace, should condemn a Theban for Medism, was a travesty of justice.

With the fortress of Thebes in her hands, Sparta had a basis for extending her power in central Greece and might regard her supremacy as secured. She restored the city of Plataea, which she had herself destroyed well-nigh fifty years agone, and gathered all the Plataeans who could be found to their old home. But her immediate attention was fixed on the necessity of repressing the dangerous league in the north of Greece, and continuing the measures which had been interrupted by the enterprise of Phoebidas in Boeotia. The popular brother of Agesilaus, Teleutias, was sent to conduct the war; but, although he was aided by Amyntas, and by Derdas, a prince of Upper Macedonia, who supplied good cavalry, it proved no easy matter to make head against the league. In front of the walls of Olynthus, Teleutias sustained a signal defeat and was himself slain. The war was fatal to a king as well as to a king’s brother. Agesipolis, who was next sent out at the head of a very large force, caught a fever in the intolerable summer heat. He was carried to the shady grove of the temple of Dionysus at Aphytis, but he died there; and his body, stowed in honey, was brought home for burial. His successor, Polybiadas, was more successful. He forced the Olynthians to sue for peace and dissolve their league. They and all the Greek cities of the peninsula were constrained to join the Lacedaemonian alliance, and the maritime cities of Macedonia were restored to the sway of Amyntas. Thus Sparta put down an attempt to overcome that system of isolation, which placed Greek cities at a great disadvantage, when they had barbarian neighbours. If Sparta had not happened to be so strong at this moment, the Chalcidian league might have grown into a power, which would have considerably modified the development of Macedonia. All that Sparta did, although for a moment it made her power paramount in northern Greece, fell out ultimately to the advancement and profit of Macedon.

About the same time, the Lacedaemonians were making their heavy hand felt in the Peloponnesus. Soon after the King’s Peace they had forced the Phliasians to recall a number of banished aristocrats. Disputes arose about the restoration of confiscated property, and the exiles appealed to Sparta, where they had a zealous supporter in Agesilaus. War was declared; Agesilaus reduced the city of Phlius by blockade, and compelled it to receive a Lacedaemonian garrison for six months, until a commission of one hundred, which he nominated, should have drawn up a new constitution.

Thus the Lacedaemonians, in alliance with the tyrant Dionysius and the barbarian Artaxerxes, tyrannised over the Greeks for a space. Some demonstrations were made, some voices of protest were raised, in the name of the Panhellenic cause. At the Olympian festival which was held about two years after the King’s Peace, the Athenian orator Lysias warned the assembled Greeks of the dangers which loomed in the east and in the west, from Persia and from Sicily, and uttered his amazement at the policy of Lacedaemon. A magnificent deputation had been sent by Dionysius to this festival, and the inflammatory words, perhaps the direct instigation, of the speaker incited some enthusiastic spectators to attack the gorgeous pavilion of the Syracusan envoys. The outrage was prevented; but the occurrence shows the beginning of that tide of feeling to which Isocrates appealed, four years later, when in his festal oration he denounced the Lacedaemonians, as sacrificing the freedom of Greece to their own interests and treacherously aiding foreigners and tyrants

Even Xenophon, the friend of Sparta’s king, the admirer of Sparta’s institutions, is roused to regretful indignation at Sparta’s conduct, and recognises her fall as a just retribution. “The Lacedaemonians, who swore to leave the cities independent, seized the acropolis of Thebes, and they were punished by the very men, single-handed, whom they had wronged, though never before had they been vanquished by any single people. It is a proof that the gods observe men who do irreligious and unhallowed deeds.” In this way the pious historian introduces the event which prepared the fall of Sparta and the rise of Thebes.


Sect. 2. Alliance of Athens and Thebes


The government of Leontiadas and his party at Thebes, maintained by 1500 Lacedaemonians in the citadel, was despotic and cruel, like that of the Thirty at Athens. Fear made the rulers suspicious and oppressive; for they were afraid of the large number of exiles, who had found a refuge at Athens and were awaiting an opportunity to recover their city. Athens was now showing the same goodwill to the fugitives from Thebes which Thebes, when Athens was in a like plight, had shown to Thrasybulus and his fellows. One of the exiles, named Pelopidas, of more than common daring and devotion, resolved to take his life in his hands and found six others to associate in his plans. No open attack was to be thought of; Thebes must be recovered by guile, even as by guile it had been won. There were many in Thebes who were bitter foes of the ruling party, such as Epaminondas, the beloved friend of Pelopidas, but most of them deemed the time unripe for any sudden stroke for freedom. Yet a few were found ready to run the risk; above all, Phyllidas, who was the secretary of the polemarchs and therefore the most useful of confederates, and Charon, a citizen of good estate, who offered his house as a place of hiding for the conspirators. The day on which the two polemarchs, Archias and Philippus, were to go out of office was fixed for the enterprise. On the day before, Pelopidas and his six comrades crossed Cithaeron in the guise of huntsmen, and, nearing Thebes at nightfall, mixed with the peasants who were returning from the fields, got them safely within the gates, and found safe hiding in the abode of Charon. The secretary Phyllidas had made ready a great banquet for the following night, to which he had bidden the outgoing polemarchs, tempting them by the promise of introducing them to some high-born and beautiful women, whose love they desired. During the carouse a messenger came with a letter for Archias, and said that it concerned serious affairs. “Business tomorrow,” said Archias, placing it under his pillow. On the morrow it was found that this letter dis­closed the conspiracy. The polemarchs then called for the women, who were waiting in an adjoining room. Phyllidas said that they declined to appear till all the attendants were dismissed. When no one remained in the dining hall but the polemarchs and a few friends, all flushed with wine, the women entered and sat down beside the lords. They were covered with long veils; and even as they were bidden lift them and reveal their charms, they buried daggers in the bodies of the polemarchs. For they were none other than Pelopidas and his fellows in the guise of women. Then they went and slew in their houses Leontiadas and Hypatas, the two other chief leaders of the party, and set free the political prisoners. When all this was done, Epaminondas and the other patriots, who were unwilling to initiate such deeds themselves, accepted the revolution with joy. When day dawned, an assembly of the people was held in the Agora, and the conspirators were crowned with wreaths. Three of them, including Pelopidas, were appointed polemarchs, and a democratic constitution was established.

The rest of the exiles and a body of Athenian volunteers presently arrived, on the news of the success. The Spartan commander of the Cadmea had sent hastily, on the first alarm, for reinforcements to Thespiae and Plataea, but those that came were charged and repelled, outside the gate. Then in the first flush of success the patriots resolved to storm the Cadmea, strong as the place was. But the labour and the danger were spared them. Amazing as it may seem Lacedaemonian harmosts decided to capitulate at once. Two of these commanders were put to death on their return to Sparta, and the third was banished. The chagrin of the ephors and Agesilaus was intense; king Cleombrotus was immediately sent with an army to Boeotia, but accomplished nothing.

Athens was formally at peace with Sparta, and was not disposed to break with her, however great may have been the secret joy felt at the events of Boeotia. But the march of the Athenian volunteers to Thebes was an awkward incident, the more so as there were two strategi among them. Lacedaemonian envoys arrived to demand explanation and satisfaction; and their statements were reinforced by the neighbourhood of the army of king Cleombrotus. There was indeed nothing to be said for the conduct of the two strategi. They had abused their position and brought their city into danger and em­barrassment. We can only approve the sentence of the Athenians, which executed one and banished the other.

But if these Athenian generals were indiscreet, it was as nothing beside the indiscretion of a Lacedaemonian commander, which now precipitated the breach between the two states. A not ignoble sympathy might have been pleaded by the two Athenians; but no excuse could be urged for the rash enterprise of the Spartan harmost of Thespiae, who aspired to be a second Phoebidas. His name was Sphodrias, and he conceived the plan of making a night march to Athens and surprising Piraeus on the landside. To seize Piraeus, the seat of Athenian merchandise, would be a compensation for the loss of Thebes. But the plan was, if not ill-considered, at least ill carried out. Day dawned when he had hardly passed Eleusis; and there was nothing to do but to turn back. He retreated, laying waste the districts through which he passed.

Great wrath was kindled in Athens by this unprovoked deed of hostility. The envoys had not yet gone; they were immediately thrown into prison, but escaped by declaring that the Spartan government was not responsible for the raid, and would speedily prove its innocence by the condemnation of Sphodrias. The assurance was belied  Sphodrias was not condemned. His son and the son of Agesilaus were lovers, and the king’s influence saved him. Agesilaus is reported to have said: “Sphodrias is guilty, of course; but it is a hard thing to put to death a man who, as child, stripling, and man, lived a life of perfect honour; for Sparta needeth such soldiers.” This miscarriage of justice was a grave mistake of policy; and the high-handed insolence of the Spartan oligarchs was set in a more glaring light by contrast with the fair-mindedness which the Athenian people had displayed in promptly punishing its own generals for a similar though certainly less heinous act. The Athenian generals had at least not invaded Lacedaemonian territory. It was debated at the time, and has been debated since, whether Sphodrias acted wholly of his own accord; some thought that the suggestion came from king Cleombrotus, and the theory was started that the Thebans were the prime instigators—an unlikely theory, which was evidently based on the fact that Thebes was the only gainer by the raid. It seems most probable that the private ambition of Sphodrias, who thought he had a chance of emulating Phoebidas, was alone responsible.

The raid and acquittal of Sphodrias drove Athens, against her will, into war with Sparta and alliance with Thebes; it stirred her for a while to leave her role of neutral spectator and assume that of an active belligerent. For the next six years, Athens and Sparta are at war, though such a war was contrary to the interests of both states, but especially to the interests of Sparta.


Sect. 3. The Second Athenian League and the Theban Reforms


The raid of Sphodrias was the direct occasion of the Second Athenian Confederacy. For many years back, ever since the battle of Cnidus, Athens had been gradually forming bonds of alliance with various states in Thrace, the Aegean, and the coasts of Asia Minor. The breach with Sparta induced her now to gather together these separate connexions into a common league, with the express object of protecting the independence of the Greek states against the oppression of Sparta. When men thought of the old Confederacy of Delos, they might fear that the second Athenian league would be soon converted into a second Athenian empire. But Athens antici­pated such alarms by establishing the confederacy on a different system, which provided safeguards against the dangers of Athenian preponderance and Athenian encroachment. In the archonship of Nausinicus, Aristoteles of the deme of Marathon proposed in the Assembly a decree which embodied the principles of the league. The sway of Persia over the Greeks of Asia was explicitly recognised, so that the field of operations was to be European Greece and the Islands. The league, which was purely defensive, was constituted in two parts, Athens on one side, her allies on the other. The allies had their own synedrion or congress which met in Athens, but in which Athens had no part. Both the synedrion of the Confederates and the Athenian Assembly had the right of initiating measures, but no measure passed by either body was valid until it had been approved by the other body also. While this system gave Athens a weight and dignity equal to that of all her allies together, it secured for the allies an independence which they had not possessed under the old league, and they had the right of absolute veto on any Athenian proposal which they disliked. It was necessary for the members of the league to form a federal fund; their payments were called syntaxeis (“contributions”), and the word phoros (“tribut”), which had odious memories connected with the confederacy of Delos, was avoided. It was especially enacted that the practice of Athenian outsettling in the lands of the allies, which had formerly helped and supported the Athenian empire, was not to be permitted. No Athenian was to acquire home or farm, “by purchase or mortgage, or any other means whatever,” in the territory of any of the confederates. But the administration of the federal fund and the leadership of the federal army were in the hands of Athens.

Good fortune has preserved to us the original stone, shattered in about twenty pieces, with the decree which founded the confederacy, and we find the purpose of the league definitely declared: “To force the Lacedaemonians to allow the Greeks to enjoy peace in freedom and independence, with their lands unviolated.” It was no doubt Callistratus, the ablest statesman and orator of the day, who did most to make the new scheme a success; but, though he may be called the Aristides of the Second Confederacy, Callistratus certainly did not mean the combination against Sparta as seriously as Aristides meant the combination against Persia. The policy which Callistratus generally pursued was based on harmony with Sparta and antagonism to Thebes. It is sometimes said that at this period there were two parties contending for the guidance of the foreign policy of Athens, one friendly and the other obstinately hostile to Boeotia. But, though Thebes had some friends at Athens, we have no good grounds for speaking of a Theban or Boeotian party. It might be truer to say that there was an anti-Spartan faction, which might often seek a Theban alliance as a means to an end. At this juncture Callistratus was astute enough to see not only that it would be useless to oppose the feeling against Sparta, but also that an opportunity which might never recur was offered for in­creasing the power of Athens. He therefore abandoned for the time his permanent policy, and threw himself heartily into a scheme of which the most remarkable feature was union with Thebes.

The chief cities which first joined the new league were Chios, Byzantium, Mytilene, Methymna, and Rhodes; then most of the towns of Euboea joined, and, what was most important and wonderful, Thebes enrolled her name in the list of the confederates. The Thracian cities, and several other states, including Coreyra, Jason the despot of Pherae in Thessaly, and Alcetas a prince of Epirus, presently brought up the whole tale of members to about seventy. But though the league, drawn on such liberal lines, evoked some enthusiasm at first, and the adhesion of Thebes gave its inauguration a certain éclat, it had no vital elements of growth or permanence, and never attained high political importance. The fact is, that the true interest of Athens, as Callistratus knew, was peace with Sparta, and was consequently repugnant to the avowed object of the confederacy. Hence the confederacy was doomed either to fall asunder, or to become the tool of other designs of Athens as soon as Sparta had been taught a lesson and the more abiding interest of Athene could safely assert itself again over the temporary expedient of an unnatural alliance with Thebes.

It was a moment at which the chief Greek states were setting their houses in order. Thebes was making herself ready and dight for a new career; Sparta was remodelling her league, and Athens her finances. A property tax, such as had first been introduced in the third year of the Peloponnesian war, was revived, and a new assessment of property was made. One-fifth of the actual capital of each citizen was inscribed in the register, and the tax (probably about one per cent) was imposed on this fraction, not on the whole capital. The revenue from this impost seems to have amounted annually to about sixty talents. For the purpose of levying the tax the whole body of burghers was divided into 100 symmories, and the richest citizens in each symmory were responsible to the treasury for the total sum due on the properties of all the citizens who belonged to it. By this means the State relieved itself from the friction which is generally caused by the collection of direct imposts, and the revenue accruing from the tax was realised more promptly and easily than if the government had to deal immediately with the individual burghers. Thus Athens tried the novel experiment of a system of joint responsibility, such as in later days was to be introduced and established in an empire of which Athens was only an insignificant town.

At Thebes the attention of the government was chiefly bestowed on military affairs. A ditch was dug and a rampart raised round part of the Theban territory as a defence against the inevitable Lace­daemonian invasions. But this precaution was of small moment in comparison with the creation of a new troop of 300 hoplites, all chosen young men of the noblest families, who had proved their eminent strength and endurance in a long training in the wrestling school. Each man had his best friend beside him; so that the Sacred Band, as it was called, consisted of 150 pairs of lovers, prepared to fight and fall together. In battle, it was to stand in front of the other hoplites. At the same time, we may be sure, much was done to improve the army in other points. Opportunely for Thebes there had arisen, to guide her to success when her chance came, a man of rare ability, in whom nature seemed to have united the best features of Greek character and discarded the defects. This was Epaminondas, the friend of Pelopidas. He was a modest, unambitious man, who in other circumstances would probably have remained in obscurity, unobtrusively fulfilling the duties of a citizen and soldier. But the revolution stimulated his patriotism and lured him into the field of public affairs, where his eminent capacity, gradually revealing itself, made him, before eight years had passed, the most influential man in his city. He had devoted as much time to musical as to gymnastic training; unlike most of his countrymen, he could play the lyre as well as the Theban flute; and he had a genuine interest in philosophical speculation. A Tarentine friend, who had been much in his company, assevered that he never met a man who knew more and talked less than Epaminondas. But the Theban statesman could speak when he chose, or when the need demanded; and his eloquence was extremely impressive. Exceptional in his indifference to the prizes of ambition, he was also exceptional in his indifference to money, and he died poor. Not less remarkable was his lack of that party spirit, which led to so many crimes in Greece. He could not share in strong political hatred or lust for revenge; and we have already seen that his repugnance to domestic bloodshed kept him from taking a part in the fortunate conspiracy of Pelopidas.


Sect. 4. The Battle of Naxos and the Peace of Callias


The following eight years are marked by a successful defensive war of Thebes against Spartan invasions; by a decrease of Spartan prestige; by the extension of the Theban supremacy over the rest of Boeotia. At the same time, Athens prosecutes a naval war against the Lacedaemonian Confederacy, and gains considerable successes; but the strain on her resources which this war entails, and a growing jealousy of Thebes, combine to induce her to come to terms with Sparta.

Two invasions of Boeotia conducted by Agesilaus himself in successive summers achieved nothing; and the Thebans had the satisfaction of slaying Phoebidas, who had won his fame by the capture of their acropolis. The other king, Cleombrotus, did even less than Agesilaus, for he found the passes of Cithaeron held by the foes, and could not enter Boeotia. After this, the Thebans had time to attack the Boeotian cities and drive out the Spartan garrison; so that by the end of four years the Boeotian confederacy once more extended over all Boeotia, the local governments being overthrown and the foreign harmosts expelled. Only in the extreme west, in Orchomenus and Chaeronea, were the Lacedaemonians able to hold their ground. In the course of this resuscitation of the Boeotian league one notable exploit was wrought by Pelopidas and the Sacred Band. At Tegyra, on the road from Orchomenus to Locris, in a narrow pass, the Thebans routed twice as many Lacedaemonian troops, and slew both the Spartan generals. As in the case of all Spartan defeats, the moral effect was of far greater import than the actual loss in the field. Perhaps it was about this time that Athens won back Oropus, which had been lost to her in the year of the Four Hundred.

In the meantime there had been war too on the seas. When the invasions of Boeotia fell out so badly, Sparta had had bethought herself of equipping a naval armament to cut off the corn ships which bore rain to Attica from the Euxine. The ships reached Geraestus, the south point of Euboea; but a fleet of sixty galleys under the Spartan Pollis hindered them from rounding the Cape of Sunium, and Athens was menaced with famine. Eighty triremes were speedily fitted out and sent forth from the Piraeus, under the command of Chabrias, to recover the mastery of the sea. Chabrias sailed to Naxos, which had seized this moment to desert the Athenian Confederacy, and beleaguered the city. Pollis hurried to the rescue, and a battle was fought in the sound between Paros and Naxos. The Athenians gained a complete victory, and only eleven of the Lacedaemonian vessels escaped. Even these would have been disabled, had not Chabrias desisted from the action, for the purpose of saving some of his own men who were overboard or in disabled ships. The lesson which the Athenian people taught their generals after the battle of Arginusae had not been forgotten. Though the battle of Naxos had not the important consequences of the battle of Cnidus, it was more gratifying to Athens. The Cnidian victory had been won indeed under the command of an Athenian, but by Persian men and ships; the victory gained by Chabrias was entirely Athenian. It led immediately to an enlargement of the Confederacy. The triumphant fleet sailed round the Aegean, enrolled seventeen new cities, and collected a large sum of money. Athens had also to reassert her authority at Delos. For the inhabitants of the island who chafed at the administration of their temple by the Athenian amphictiones, as the sacred overseers were entitled, had attempted, doubtless with Lacedaemonian help, to recover control of the sanctuary. An interesting entry in the Delian accounts of these years, preserved on a stone, tells how seven ringleaders of the movement were punished by fines and perpetual banishment “for having led the amphictiones forth from the temple and beaten them.”

Next year, the fleet was sent to sail round the Peloponnesus under the command of Timotheus, son of Conon, This circumnavigation of the Peloponnesus was an assertion by Athens that her naval power was once more dominant; it was intended to frighten Sparta, to extend Athenian influence in western Greece, and to act in the Corinthian Gulf, in case the Spartans tried to throw an army into Boeotia by the port of Creusis. The islands of Corcyra and Cephallenia, the king of the Molossi, some of the Acarnanians, were won over to the Athenian alliance by the discreet policy of Timotheus, who also gained a trifling victory over some hostile ships. But there was a darker side to this triumphant expedition. The cost of the war was proving to be greater than Athens could well bear, and Timotheus failed to obtain from home the money requisite to pay his seamen. In this strait, he was obliged to ask each trierarch to advance seven minae for the payment of his crew; and Athens herself sent a request to Thebes for some contribution towards the expense of the naval operations, on the ground that the enterprise of Timotheus had been undertaken partly at Theban instigation. The refusal of this demand, along with a growing jealousy of Theban success, and the somewhat grave financial difficulties of the moment, combined to dispose Athens towards peace with Sparta; and this was in fact her wisest policy. Negotiations were opened and carried to a successful issue; but the peace was no sooner made than it was broken. For Timotheus, who was ordered to return home from Coreyra and reluctantly obeyed, halted at Zacynthus on his way, landed some Zacynthian exiles who were with him, and fortified a post for them on the island. The Zacynthians straightway complained to Sparta; Sparta demanded satisfaction from Athens; and when this was refused, the incident was treated as a breach of contract and the war was resumed.

The first object of Sparta was to regain her power in the west, and undo the work of Timotheus. The best of the winnings of that general had been Corcyra, and Corcyra once more became the scene of a “Peloponnesian” war. With the help of their confederates, including Corinth, the Lacedaemonians launched an armament of sixty ships, conveying 1500 mercenary hoplites, to gain possession of the island; and at the same time a message was dispatched to Dionysius of Syracuse requesting his aid, on the ground that Sicily had her interests in Corcyraean politics. The armament was commanded by the Spartan Mnasippus. He drove the Corcyraean fleet into the harbour, which he blocked with his own ships, and he invested the city by land, so that the supplies of the inhabitants were cut off. The island was a rich prize for the soldiers to whose depredations it was now given over. The tillage was goodly, the crofts and farm­houses exceeding fair; and so plentiful was the wine that the troopers would drink none that was not of the finest sort. Urgent messages were sent to Athens by the Corcyraeans, who soon began to feel the pinch of famine. So great was the misery that slaves were cast out of the gates; even some citizens deserted, but were whipped back to the walls by the Lacedaemonian commander. But he deeming that he had the city in his hands grew careless in his confidence; and from the watch-towers on their walls the besieged could observe that the watch was sometimes relaxed. An opportune moment was seized for a sally, which resulted in a completer success than they looked for. The professional soldiers, who had not been paid and detested their general, showed no zeal in withstanding the hot onslaught of the desperate men who poured forth from the gates. Mnasippus was slain, and the besiegers fell back to their camp. The beleaguerment was thus broken up, and the Corcyraeans were safe until the coming of the expected help from Athens. But they were delivered from all constraint even before that tardy help came; for the Lacedaemonians evacuated the island almost immediately after the defeat. Then at last the Athenian fleet sailed into the roads of Corcyra.

It was from no want of goodwill on the part of the Athenian people that the help had not come in time to save Corcyra much of the misery which she had suffered. A tale hangs by the delay of the fleet. On the first appeal, it was resolved to send sixty ships at once, and 600 peltasts were sent in advance and successfully introduced into the city. It was befitting that Timotheus should return to the scene of his former achievements, and the command of the fleet was entrusted to him. He found himself in an awkward position, owing to one of the gravest defects in the machinery of Athenian administration. The people had voted a certain measure, appointing him to carry it out; but had omitted to vote or consider the necessary ways and means. It consequently devolved upon Timotheus to find the men and the money. For this purpose he cruised with some of his ships in the Northern Aegean, visiting Thessaly, Macedonia, and Thrace, while the main part of the fleet awaited his return at the island of Calauria. But meanwhile the need of Corcyra was sore, and more pressing messengers were arriving in Athens. The long tarrying of the general excited public indignation; his appointment was annulled; and Iphicrates, in conjunction with Chabriasand Callistratus, was charged to sail at once to Corcyra.

Callistratus was the most eloquent orator of the day. Chabrias, a tried soldier who had served under Cypriote and Egyptian kings, we have already met as the victor of Naxos. Iphicrates, who had come to the front by his boldness and success in the Corinthian war, had for the last fifteen years served as a captain of peltasts under the princes of Thrace, and had married a daughter of king Cotys. A comic poet gives a picturesque description of his barbaric wedding. In the market-place a plentiful feast is set out for a throng of wild­haired Thracians. There are immense brazen cauldrons of broth, and the king, girding himself up, serves it with his own hands in a golden basin. Then the wine and water are tempered in the mixing-bowls, and the king goes around tasting each bowl, until he is the first drunk. But an adventurous life among the “butter-eating” barbarians does not seem to have wholly satisfied Iphicrates. He served the King of Persia in Egypt and then returned to Athens, and this expedition to Corcyra seems to have been his first service after his return. It was well and capably performed. The people in their excitement gave him a freer hand than they had given to Timotheus. He was able to put hard pressure on the trierarchs; he was allowed to impress seamen, and to make use of the galleys which guarded the Attic coast, and even the two sacred vessels, the Salaminia and Paralus. By these unusual efforts a fleet of seventy triremes was put together, but before it was quite ready to sail Timotheus returned. His cruise had been successful in raising money and men, and adding new members to the Confederacy; but it was thought that neither necessity nor success could excuse the singular inopportuneness of the delay. Ill-luck seemed to wait upon Timotheus. The funds which he brought back proved unable to meet the obligations which they ought to have defrayed, and a fraud was suspected. Iphicrates and Callistratus, his political rivals, lodged an indictment against him, but as they had to sail immediately to the west, the trial was postponed till the autumn.

On his way out Iphicrates learned the news of the deliverance of Corcyra, so that he was able to send back those ships whose true duty was the defence of Attica. But there was still work to be done. The appeal which the Lacedaemonians sent to the tyrant Dionysius had not been in vain, and ten Syracusan triremes were even then approaching Corcyra. They stopped at a point in the north of the island, that the crews might rest after the long voyage; and there Iphicrates whose scouts had watched for their approach captured them, all but one vessel. This prize raised the welcome sum of sixty talents, but it was not long before Iphicrates, even as Timotheus, found himself embarrassed for want of money. Callistratus went back to Athens, promising to persuade the people either to keep the fleet regularly paid or to make peace. Meanwhile the crews of Iphicrates obtained subsistence by labour on the Corcyraean farms.

If Corcyra had fallen, there can be little question that Timotheus would have been sacrificed to the displeasure of the Athenian people. But the good tidings from the west restored the public good-humour, and this was fortunate for the discredited general. His trial came on towards the end of the year. His military treasurer was tried at the same time, found guilty of malversation, and condemned to death. But Timotheus himself was acquitted. He had indeed unusually powerful support. Two foreign monarchs had condescended to come to Athens to bear testimony in his favour, the Epirot king Alcetas, and Jason the despot of Thessalian Pherae. It was through Timotheus that these potentates had joined the Athenian league; and it was through them that he had been able to transport across Thessaly and Epirus the 600 peltasts who had been sent in advance to Corcyra. The interest of Jason—of whom more will have to be said presently—was particularly effective. Timotheus entertained these distinguished guests in his house in Piraeus, but he was obliged to borrow bedding, two silver bowls, and other things from his rich neighbour, the banker Pasion, in order to lodge them suitably. Though acquitted, Timotheus was discredited in public opinion, and he soon left Athens to take service in Egypt under the Great King.

Sparta had lost heart at the decisive check which she had received in Corcyra, and the discouragement was increased by a series of terrible earthquakes, in which Poseidon seemed to declare his wrath. She was therefore disposed to peace, and she thought to bring peace about, as before, through the mediation of Persia. Antalcidas was once more sent up to the Persian court. But this intervention from without was not really needed. Athens, uneasy under the burdens of the war and feeling rather jealousy of Thebes than bitterness against Sparta, was also well inclined to peace, and the influential orator Callistratus made it the object of his policy. The recent aggressions of Thebes against the Phocians, who were old allies of Athens, tended to estrange the two cities; and to this was added the treatment of that unfortunate little mountain burg, Plataea, by her Theban enemies. Restored Plataea had perforce been enrolled in the Boeotian confederacy, but she was secretly scheming for annexation to Attica. Suspecting these plots, Thebes determined to forestall them, and a small Theban force, surprising the town one day when the men were in the fields, took possession of it and drove all the Plataeans forth from Plataean soil. Many of the people, thus bereft of land and city, found a refuge at Athens; where the publicist Isocrates took up their cause and wrote his Plataeic Discourse, a denunciation of Thebes. This incident definitely, though not formally, loosened the bonds between the two northern powers.

The overtures came from Athens and her Confederacy. When the Lacedaemonian allies met at Sparta in spring, three Athenian envoys appeared at the congress. Of these the chief spokesman was Callistratus, and one of his associates was Callias, Torchbearer of the Eleusinian Mysteries, who had also worked to bring about the abortive peace three years before. Thebes likewise sent ambassadors, one of whom was Epaminondas. The basis of the peace which was now concluded was the principle which had been affirmed by the King’s Peace, the principle of the autonomy of every Hellenic city. The Athenian and Lacedaemonian Confederacies were thus both rendered invalid. No compulsion could be exercised on any city to fulfil engagements as member of a league. Cities might co-operate with each other freely so far as they chose, but no obligation could be contracted or enforced. Yet while Athens and Sparta resigned empire, they mutually agreed to recognise each other’s predominance, that of Athens by sea, that of Sparta on land—a predominance which must never be asserted by aggression and must always be consistent with the universal autonomy.

The question immediately arose whether the Boeotian League was condemned by this doctrine of universal autonomy. Sparta and Athens, of course, intended to condemn it. But it might be pleaded that the Confederacy of Boeotian cities under the presidency of Thebes was not on the same footing as the Confederacies which had been formed, for temporary political purposes, without any historical or geographical basis of union, under the presidencies of Athens and Sparta. It might be contended that Boeotia was a geographical unity, like Attica and Laconia, and had a title to political unity too, especially as the League was an ancient institution. The question came to the issue when it was the turn of Thebes to take the oath. Her representative Epaminondas claimed to take it on behalf of the Boeotian cities; and Thebes, represented by him, was not so easily cowed as when she made the same claim at the conclusion of the King’s Peace. He seems to have developed the view that Boeotia was to be compared to Laconia, not to the Lacedaemonian Confederacy; and when Agesilaus asked him, curtly and angrily: “Will you leave each of the Boeotian towns independent?” he retorted: “Will you leave each of the Laconian towns independent?” The name of Thebes was thereupon struck out of the treaty.

There was an argument as well as a sting in this retort of Epaminondas. The argument was: Sparta has no more right to interfere in the internal affairs of Boeotia than we have to interfere in the domestic administration of Laconia; Laconia, Boeotia, Attica, each represents a distinct kind of constitution, and each constitution is justified; the union of Boeotia in a federation is as natural as the union of Attica in a single city, as legitimate as the union of Laconia in its subjection to the Spartan oligarchy. The union of Boeotia, like the union of Laconia, could not have been realised and could not be maintained without the perpetration of outrages upon the freewill of some communities. Yet it is hardly legitimate for one state to say to another: “We have committed certain acts of violence, but you must not interfere  for at a remote period of history which none of us remember, your ancestors used even more high-handed methods for similar purposes, and you now maintain what they established.” But the tyrannical method by which Laconia was governed was certainly a weak point in the Spartan armour; and the reply of Epaminondas may have well set Greece thinking over a question of political science. Setting aside the arguments of diplomacy, the point of the situation was this: Thebes could never become a strong power, the rival of Sparta or of Athens, except at the head of an united Boeotia, and it was the interest of Athens and Sparta to hinder her from becoming such a power.

So far as the two chief contracting parties were concerned, this bargain—which is often called the “Peace of Callias”—put an end to a war which was contrary to the best interests of both. They were both partly to blame, but Sparta was far more to blame than her old rival. Her witless policy in overlooking the raid of Sphodrias had caused the war; for it left to Athens no alternative but hostility. At the end of four years, they seemed to have come to their senses; they made peace, but they were stupid enough to allow the incident of Zacynthus to annul the bargain. Three more years of fighting were required to restore their wits. But, although Athens was financially exhausted by her military efforts, the war had brought its compensations to her. The victory of Naxos, the circumnavigation of the Peloponnesus and revival of her influence in Western Greece, were achievements which indisputably proved that Athens was once more a first-rate Hellenic power, the peer of Sparta; and this fact was fully acknowledged in the Peace of Callias. But the true policy of Athens—from which the raid of Sphodrias had forced her—was that of a watchful spectator; and this policy she now resumes, though only for a brief space, leaving Sparta and Thebes in the arena. As for Sparta, she had lost as much as Athens had gained; the defeat of Naxos, the defeat of Tegyra, the failure at Corcyra, had dimmed her prestige. After the King’s Peace, she had begun her second attempt to dominate Greece ; her failure is confessed by the Peace of Callias. If a third attempt was to be successful, it was obvious that it must begin by the subjugation of Thebes.


Sect. 5. Athens under the Restored Democracy


When Pericles declared that Athens was the school of Greece, this was rather his ideal of what she should be than a statement of a reality. It would have surprised him to learn that, when imperial Athens fell from her throne, his ideal would be fulfilled. This was what actually happened. It was not until Athens lost her empire that she began to exert a great decisive influence on Greek thought and civilisation. This influence was partly exerted by the establish­ment of schools in the strict sense—the literary school of Isocrates and the philosophical school of Plato—which attracted to Athens men from all quarters of the Hellenic world. But the increase in the intellectual influence of Athens was largely owing to the fact that she was becoming herself more receptive of influence from without. She was becoming Hellenic as well as Athenian; she was beginning to become even something more than Hellenic. This tendency towards cosmopolitanism had been promoted by philosophical speculation, which rises above national distinctions; and it is manifested variously in the pan-Hellenism of Isocrates, in the attitude of such different men as Plato and Xenophon towards Athens, in the increasing number of foreign religious worships established at Athens or Piraeus, in a general decline of local patriotism, and in many other ways. There was perhaps no institution which had a wider influence in educating Greek thought in the fourth century than the theatre; its importance in city life was recognised by practical statesmen. It was therefore a matter of the utmost moment that the old Athenian comedy, turning mainly on local politics, ceased to be written, and a new school of comic poets arose who dealt with subjects of general human interest. Here Athens had a most effectual instrument for spreading ideas. And the tragedies of the fourth century, though as literature they were of less note and consequence than the comedies, were not less significant of the spirit of the time. They were all dominated by the influence of Euripides, the great teacher of rationalism, the daring critic of all established institutions and beliefs. And the comic poets were also under his spell.

It can easily be seen that the cultivation of these wider sympathies was connected with the growth of what is commonly called “individualism.” By this it is meant that the individual citizen no longer looks at the outside world through the medium of his city, but regards it directly, as it were, with his own eyes and in its bearings on him individually. He is no longer content to express his religious feelings, simply as one member of the state, in the common usages of the state religion, but seeks to enter into an immediate personal relation with the supernatural world. And since his own life has thus become for him something independent of the city, his attitude to the city itself is transformed. The citizen of Athens has become a citizen of the world. His duty to his country may conflict with his duty to himself as a man; and thus patriotism ceases to be unconditionally the highest virtue. Again, men begin to put to themselves, more or less explicitly, the question, whether the state is not made for the individual and not the individual for the state,— a complete reversal of the old unquestioning submission to the authority of the social organism. It followed that greater demands were made upon the state by the citizen for his own private welfare; and that the citizen, feeling himself tied by no indissoluble bond to his country, was readier than formerly to seek his fortune elsewhere. Thus we find, in the single field of military service, Athenian officers acting independently of their country, in the pay of foreign powers, whenever it suited them—Conon, Xenophon, Iphicrates, Chabrias, and others.

A vivid exaggerated description of this spirit has been drawn by Plato in one of his famous contributions to political science, the Republic. “The horses and asses,” he says,  have a way of marching along with all the rights and dignities of freemen; and they will run at anybody whom they meet in the street if he does not leave the road clear for them: and all things are just ready to burst with liberty.” When he describes the excessive freedom of democracy, he is dealing with the growth of individualism, as a result of freedom in its constitutional sense; but his argument that individualism is the fatal fruit of a democratic constitution rests largely on the double sense of the word “freedom.” The notable thing is that no man did more to promote the tendencies which are here deplored by Plato than Plato himself and his fellow philosophers. If any single man could be held responsible for the inevitable growth of individualism, it would be perhaps Euripides; but assuredly, next to Euripides, it would be Plato’s revered master, Socrates, the son of Sophroniscus.

When the history of Greece was being directed by Pericles and, Cleon, Nicias and Lysander, men little dreamed either at Athens or elsewhere that the interests of the world were far more deeply concerned in the doings of one eccentric Athenian who held aloof from public affairs. The work of Pericles and Lysander affected a few generations in a small portion of the globe; but the spirit of that eccentric Athenian was to lay an impress, indelible for ever, upon the thought of mankind. The ideas which we owe to Socrates are now so organically a part of the mind of civilised men, so familiar and commonplace, that it is hard to appreciate the intellectual power which was required to originate them. Socrates was the first champion of the supremacy of the intellect as a court from which there is no appeal; he was the first to insist, without modification or compromise, that a man must order his life by the guidance of his own intellect, without any regard for mandates of external authority or for the impulses of emotion, unless his intellect approves. Socrates was thus a rebel against authority as such; and he shrank from no consequences. He did not hesitate to show his companions that an old man has no title to respect because he is old, unless he is also wise; or that an ignorant parent has no claim to obedience on the mere account of the parental relation. Knowledge and veracity, the absolute sovereignty of the understanding, regardless of consequences, regardless of all prejudices connected with family or city—this was the ideal of Socrates, consistently and uncompromisingly followed.

But men using their intellects often come to different conclusions. The command issued by an authority which Socrates may reject has been, directly or ultimately, the result of some mental process. It is manifest that we require a standard of truth and an explanation of the causes of error. The solution of Socrates is, briefly, this. When we make a judgment, we compare two ideas ; and in order to do so correctly it is obvious that these ideas must be clear and distinct; error arises from comparing ideas that are undefined and vague. Definition was thus the essential point—and it was an essential novelty—in the Socratic method for arriving at truth. Its necessity is a commonplace now; and we have rather to guard against its dangers. The application of this method to ethics was the chief occupation of Socrates, for the interests of human life and its perplexities entirely absorbed him. In the history of ethics his position is supreme; he was the founder of utilitarianism. He arrived at the doctrine by analysing the notion of “good”; the result of his analysis was that “the good is the useful.” Closely connected was the principle that virtue is happiness, and this was the basis of the famous Socratic paradox that no man willingly does wrong, but only through ignorance, for there is no man who would not will his own happiness. It is easy to point out the errors of this startling statement; it is perhaps easier to forget how much wrong-doing is due to the confused thinking of clouded brains and the ignorance of untrained minds.

The man who had no respect for authority was not likely to except the gods from the range of his criticism; and the popular religion could not sustain examination. Socrates was as little orthodox as Anaxagoras and other “impious” philosophers; but he made no new departure in the field of theology. He doubtless believed in the existence of a God; but as to the nature of the divine principle he was probably what we call an “agnostic,” as he certainly was in regard to the immortality of the soul.

Socrates then was the originator of a new logical method, the founder of utilitarianism, and, above all, the unsparing critic of all things in heaven and earth—or rather on earth only, for he disdained things in heaven as uninteresting and irrelevant,—a fearless critic, undeterred by any feeling of piety or prejudice. He never wrote anything, he only conversed. But he conversed with the ablest young men of the day who were destined afterwards to become immortal themselves as thinkers; he communicated to them—to Plato, to Aristippus, to Euclides—his own spirit of scepticism and criticism; he imbued them with intellectual courage and intellectual freedom. He never preached, he only discussed; that was the Socratic method—dialectic or the conversational method. He did not teach, for he professed to have no knowledge; he would only confess that he was exceptional in knowing that he knew nothing: this was the Socratic irony. He went about showing that most popular notions, as soon as they are tested, prove to be inconsistent and untenabl ; he wished to convince every man he met that his convictions would not stand examination. We can easily conceive how stimulating this was to the young men, and how extremely irritating to the old. Haunting the market-places and the gymnasia Socrates was always ready to entrap men of all ages and ranks into argument, and many a grudge was owed him by reverend and conceited seniors, whose foggy minds he exposed to ridicule by means of his prudent interrogations. Though no man ever taught more effectually than Socrates, he was not a teacher, he had no course of lectures to give, and therefore he took no fee. Herein lay his distinction from the sophists, to whom by his speculation, his scepticism, his mastery of argument, his influence over young men, he naturally belongs, and with whom he was generally classed. He soon became a notorious figure in the streets of Athens; nature had marked him out among other men by his grotesque satyr-like face.

Though he was the child of democracy, born to a heritage of freedom in a city where the right of free discussion was unrestrained, the sacred name of democracy was not more sheltered than anything else from the criticism of Socrates. He railed, for instance, at the system of choosing magistrates by lot, one of the protections of democracy at Athens. He was unpopular with the mass, for he was an enemy of shams and ignorance and superstition. Honest democrats of the type of Thrasybulus and Anytus, who did their duty but had no desire to probe its foundations, regarded him as a dangerous freethinker who spent his life in diffusing ideas subversive of the social order. They might point to the ablest of the young men who had kept company with him, and say: “Behold the fruits of his conversation! Look at Alcibiades, his favourite companion, who has done more than any other man to ruin his country. Look at Critias, who, next to Alcibiades, has wrought the deepest harm to Athens; who, brought up in the Socratic circle, first wrote a book against democracy, then visited Thessaly and stirred up the serfs against their masters, and finally, returning here, inaugurated the reign of terror. Look, on the other hand, at Plato, an able young man, whom the taste for idle speculation, infused by Socrates, has seduced from the service of his country. Or look at Xenophon, who, instead of serving Athens, has gone to serve her enemies. Truly Socrates and his propaganda have done little good to the Athenian state.” However unjust any particular instance might seem, it is easy to understand how considerations of this kind would lead many practical unspeculative men to look upon Socrates and his ways with little favour. And from their point of view, they were perfectly right. His spirit, and the ideas that he made current, were an insidious menace to the cohesion of the social fabric, in which there was not a stone or a joint that he did not question. In other words, he was the active apostle of individualism, which led in its further develop­ment to the subversion of that local patriotism which had inspired the cities of Greece in her days of greatness.

And this thinker, whose talk was shaking the Greek world in its foundations, though none guessed it, was singled out by the Delphic Priesthood for a distinguished mark of approbation. In the truest oracle that was ever uttered from the Pythian tripod, it was declared that no one in the world was wiser than Socrates. We know not at what period of the philosopher’s career this answer was given, but, if it was seriously meant, it showed a strange insight which we should hardly have looked for at the shrine of Delphi. The Delphic priesthood were skilful enough in adjusting their policy to the changing course of events; but they cannot be suspected of brooding over the mysteries of things to come, or feeling the deeper pulsations of the thoughts of men. The motive of the oracle concerning the wisdom of Socrates is an unsolved problem. If it were an attempt to enlist his support, in days when religion was threatened by such men as Anaxagoras, it shows an unexpected perception of his importance, united with a by no means surprising blindness to the significance of his work.

Socrates died five years after the fall of the Athenian empire, and the manner of his death set a seal upon his life. Anytus, the honest democratic politician who had been prominent in the restoration of the democracy, came forward, with some others, as a champion of the state religion, and accused Socrates of impiety. The accusation ran: “Socrates is guilty of crime, because he does not believe in the gods recognised by the city, but introduces strange supernatural beings; he is also guilty, because he corrupts the youth.” The penalty proposed was death; but the accusers had no desire to inflict it; they expected that, when the charge was lodged in the archon’s office, Socrates would leave Attica, and no one would have hindered him from doing so. But Socrates was full of days—he had reached the age of seventy—and life spent otherwise than in conversing in the streets of Athens would have been worthless to him. He surprised the city by remaining to answer the charge. The trial was heard in a court of 501 judges, the king-archon presiding, and the old philosopher was found guilty by a majority of sixty. It was a small majority, considering that the general truth of the accusation was undeniable. According to the practice of Athenian law, it was open to a defendant when he was condemned to propose a lighter punishment than that fixed by the accuser, and the judges were required to choose one of the two sentences. Socrates might have saved his life if he had proposed an adequate penalty, but he offered only a small fine, and was consequently condemned, by a much larger majority, to death. He drank the cup of doom a month later, discoursing with his disciples as eagerly as ever till his last hour.

The actual reply of Socrates at his trial has not been preserved, but we know its tone and spirit and much of its tenor. For it supplied  his companion Plato, who was present, with the material of a work which stands absolutely alone in literature. In the Apology of Socrates, Plato has succeeded in catching the personality of the master and conveying its stimulus to his readers. There can be no question that this work reproduces the general outline of the actual defence, which is here wrought into an artistic form. And we see how utterly impossible it was for Socrates to answer the accusation. He enters into an explanation of his life and motives, and has no difficulty in showing that many things popularly alleged against him are false. But with the actual charge of holding and diffusing Socrates heterodox views he deals briefly and unsatisfactorily. He was not condemned unjustly—according to the law. And that is the intensity of the tragedy. There have been no better men than Socrates; and yet his accusers were perfectly right. It is not clear why their manifesto for orthodoxy was made at that particular time; but it is probable that twenty years later such an action would have been a failure. Perhaps the facts of the trial justify us in the rough conclusion that two out of every five Athenian citizens then were religiously indifferent. In any case the event had a wider than a merely religious significance. The execution of Socrates was the protest of the spirit of the old order against the growth of individualism.

Seldom in the course of history have violent blows of this kind failed to recoil upon the striker and serve the cause they were meant to harm. Socrates was remembered at Athens with pride and regret. His spirit began to exercise an influence which the tragedy of his death enhanced. His companions never forgave the democracy for putting their master to death; he lived and grew in the study of their imaginations; and they spent their lives in carrying on his work.

They carried forward his work, but they knew not what they were doing. They had no suspicion that in pursuing those speculations to which they were stimulated by the Socratic method they were sapping the roots of Greek city life as it was known to the men who fought at Marathon. Plato was a true child of Socrates, and yet he was vehement in condemning that individualism which it had been the lifework of Socrates to foster. Few sights are stranger than Plato and Xenophon turning their eyes away from their own free country to regard with admiration the constitution of Sparta, where their beloved master would not have been suffered so much as to open his mouth. It was a triumph indeed for the Lacedaemonians when their constitution, which the Athenians of the age of Pericles regarded as old-fashioned machinery, was selected by the greatest thinker of Athens as the nearest existing approach to the ideal. Indeed the Spartan organisation, at the very time when Sparta was making herself detested throughout Greece, seems to have attracted general admiration from political thinkers. It attracted them because the old order survived there,—the citizen absolutely submissive to the authority of the state, and not looking beyond it. Elsewhere they were troubled by the problem of reconciling the authority of the state with the liberty of the individual citizen; at Sparta there was no such trouble, for the state was absolute. Accordingly they saw in Sparta the image of what a state should be; just because it was relatively free from that individualism which they were themselves actively promoting by their speculations in political philosophy. How freely such speculations ranged at this time is illustrated by the fact that the fundamental institution of ancient society, slavery, was called in question. It had indeed been called in question by Euripides, and the heterodox “modern” views of Euripides were coming into fashion. One thinker expounded the doctrine that slavery was unnatural. Speculation even went so far as to stir the question of the political subjection of women. The Parliament of Women, a comedy of Aristophanes, ridicules women’s rights; and in Plato’s ideal Republic women are on a political equality with men. Socialistic theories were also rife, and were a mark for the mockery of Aristophanes in the same play. Plato seized upon the notion of communism and made it one of the principles of his ideal state. But his object was not that of the ordinary “collectivist,” to promote the material well-being of all; but rather to make his citizens better, by defending them against poverty and ambition. Before he died, Plato had come to the con­viction that communism was impracticable, and in the state which he adumbrated in his old age he recognised private property—though he vested the ownership not in the individual but in the family.

In this period—during the fifty years after the battle of Aegospotami—the art of writing prose was brought to perfection at Athens; and this is closely connected with the characteristic tendency which has engaged our attention. While Socrates and others had been bringing about a revolution in thought, the Sicilian Gorgias and other professors of rhetoric or style had been preparing an efficient vehicle for diffusing ideas. Prose is the natural instrument of criticism and argument; it is a necessary weapon for intellectual persuasion; and therefore the fourth century is an age of prose. The circumstance that the great Athenian poets of the fifth century had no successors in the fourth does not prove any decline in brains or in imagination. If Plato had been born half a century earlier he would have been a rival of Aeschylus and Sophocles. If Aeschylus and Sophocles had been born two or three generations later they would have expressed their, genius in prose. Euripides, who has come under the influence of the critical spirit, seems sometimes like a man belated; he uses the old vehicle to convey thoughts for which it was hardly suited. It must always be remembered that the great dramatic poems of the fifth century bore an inalienable religious character; and, as soon as the day came when the men of the highest literary faculty were no longer in touch with the received religion, drama of the old kind ceased to be written. That is why the fourth century is an age of prose; tragic poetry owes its death to Euripides and the Socratic spirit. The eager individualism of the age found its natural expression in prose, whose rhythmical periods demanded almost as much care and art as poetry; and the plastic nature of the Greek language rendered it a most facile instrument for the purposes of free thought and criticism.

Thus Athens became really a school for Greece, as soon as that individualism prevailed which Pericles had unwittingly foreshadowed in the very same breath: “I say that Athens is the school of Hellas, and that the individual Athenian in his own person seems to have the power of adapting himself to the most varied forms of action with the utmost versatility and grace.”[

It must never be forgotten that it is to the democratic Athenian law-courts that the perfecting of Attic prose was mainly due. This institution had, as we saw, called into being a class of professional speech-writers. But there were many who were not content with learning off, and reciting in court, speeches which a speech-writer like Lysias wrote for them, but wished to learn themselves the art of speaking. For those who aspired to make their mark in debates in the Assembly, this was a necessity. The most illustrious instructor in oratory at this period was Isocrates. But the school of Isocrates had a far wider scope and higher aim than to teach the construction of sentences or the arrangement of topics in a speech. It was a general school of culture, a discipline intended to fit for public life. Questions of political science were studied, and Isocrates likes to describe his course of studies as “philosophy.” But it was to Plato’s school in the Academy that the youths of the day went to study “philosophy” in the stricter sense. The discipline of these two rival schools—for there was rivalry between them, though their aims were different—was what corresponded at Athens to our univer­sity education. And the pupils of Isocrates, as well as those of Plato, had to work hard. For thoroughness of method was one of the distinctive characteristics of Isocrates. His school attained a pan­Hellenic reputation; pupils came to him from all quarters of the world. “Our city,” he says, “is regarded as the established teacher of all who speak or teach others to speak. And naturally so, since men see that our city offers the greatest prizes to those who possess this faculty—provides the most numerous and various schools for those who having resolved to enter the real contests desire a preparatory discipline—and further affords to all men that experience which is the main secret of success in speaking.” The tone of the teaching of Isocrates harmonised with the national position which he held. He took a large view of all things; there was nothing narrow or local in his opinions. And not less important than the width of his horizon was the high moral tone in which his thoughts were consistently pitched. Isocrates discharged not only the duties which are in modem times discharged by university teachers, but also the functions of a journalist of the best kind. Naturally nervous and endowed with a poor voice, he did not speak in the Assembly, but when any great question moved him he would issue a pamphlet, in the form of a speech, for the purpose of influencing public opinion. We may suspect that the Athenians appreciated these publications more for their inimitable excellence of style than for their political wisdom.

A highly remarkable passage of Isocrates expresses and applauds the wide-minded cosmopolitanism which was beginning to prevail in Greece. He says that “Athens has so distanced the rest of the world in power of thought and speech that her disciples have become the teachers of all other men. She has brought it to pass that the name of Greek should be thought no longer a matter of race but a matter of intelligence ; and should be given to the participators in our culture rather than to the sharers of our common origin.” Thirty or forty years earlier, no one perhaps, except Euripides, would have been bold enough to speak like that. But Isocrates did not see that this enlightenment which he admires was closely connected with the decay of public spirit which he elsewhere deplores. It is curious to find the man who approves of citizenship of the world looking back with regret to the days of Solon and proposing to revive the old powers of censorship which the court of the Areopagus possessed over the lives of Athenian citizens.

The form and features of an age are wont to be mirrored in its art; and one effective means of winning a concrete notion of the spirit of the fourth century is to study the works of Praxiteles and compare them with the sculptures which issued from the workshop of Phidias. Just as the citizen was beginning to assert his own individuality as more than a mere item in the state, so the plastic artist was emancipating his art from its intimate connexion with the temples of the gods, and its subordination to architecture. For in the fifth century, apart from a few colossal statues like those which Phidias wrought for Athens and Olympia, the finest works of the sculptor's chisel were to decorate frieze or pediment. In the fourth century the architect indeed still required the sculptor’s service; Scopas, for instance, was called upon in his youth to decorate the temple of Athena Aiea at Tegea, in his later years to make a frieze for the tomb of a Carian prince; but, in general, the sculptor developed his art more independently of architecture, and all the great works of Praxiteles were complete in themselves and independent. And, as sculpture was emancipating itself from the old subordination to architecture, so it also emancipated itself from the religious ideal. In the age of Phidias, the artist who fashioned a god sought to express in human shape the majesty and immutability of a divine being; and this ideal had been perfectly achieved. In the fourth century the deities lose their majesty and changelessness; they are conceived as physically perfect men and women, with human feelings though without human sorrows; they are invested with human personalities. The contrast may be seen by looking at the group of gods in the frieze of the Parthenon, and then at some of the works of Praxiteles: the Hermes, which was set up in the temple of Hera at Olympia, and is preserved there  the Aphrodite of Cnidus—a woman shrinking from revealing her beauty as she enters the bath; or the Satyr, with the shape of a man and the mind of a beast. Thus sculpture is marked by “individualism” in a double sense. Each artist is freer to work out an individual path of his own; and the tendency of all artists is to pourtray the individual man or woman rather than the type, and even the individual phase of emotion rather than the character.

The general spirit of the Athenians in their political life corresponds to this change. Men came more and more to regard the state as a means for administering to the needs of the individual. We might almost say that they conceived it as a co-operative society for making profits to be divided among the members; this at least was the tendency of public opinion. They were consequently more disinclined to enter upon foreign undertakings which were not either necessary for the protection and promotion of their commerce or likely to fill their purses. The fourth century was therefore for Athens an age of less ambition and glory, but of greater happiness and freedom, than the fifth.

The decisive circumstance for Athens was that, while she lost her empire, she did not lose her commerce. This was a cruel blow to Corinth, since it was to destroy Athenian trade that Corinth had brought about the war. The fact shows on how firm foundations Athenian commerce rested. The only rival Athens had to fear was Rhodes, which was becoming a centre of traffic in the south-eastern Mediterranean, but was not destined to interfere seriously with Athenian trade for a long time yet. The population of Attica had declined; plague and war reduced the number of adult male citizens from at least 35,000 to 21,000. But that was not unfortunate, for there were no longer outsettlements to receive the surplus of the population; and even with the diminished numbers there was a surplus which sought employment in foreign mercenary service. The mercantile development of Athens is shown by the increase of the Piraeus at the expense of the city, in which many plots of ground now became deserted, and by the growth of private banks. It had long been a practice to deposit money in temples, and the priesthoods used to lend money on interest. This suggested to money-changers the idea of doing likewise; and Pasion founded a famous house at Athens, which operated with a capital of fifty talents, and had credit at all Greek centres of commerce. Thus business could be transacted by exchanging letters of credit instead of paying in coin; and the introduction of this system, even on such a small scale, shows the growth of mercantile activity. Money was now much more plentiful, and prices far higher, than before. This was due to the large amount of the precious metals, chiefly gold, which had been brought into circulation in the Greek world in the last quarter of the fifth century. The continuous war led to the coining of the treasures which had been accumulating for many years in temples ; and the banking system circulated the money which would otherwise have been hoarded in private houses. But, although the precious metals became plentiful, the rate of interest did not fall; men could still get 12 per cent for a loan of their money. This fact is highly significant; it shows clearly that industries were more thriving and trade more active, and consequently capital in greater demand. The high rate of interest must always be remembered when we read of a Greek described as wealthy with a capital which would nowadays seem small. Thus a fortune of 50 talents, little more than 10,000 English pounds, would yield an income of nearly £1500; and that sum had an enormously greater purchasing power than the equivalent weight of gold today. Such incomes were extremely rare.

Communistic ideas were a consequence, perhaps inevitable, of the growth of individualism and the growth of capital. The poorer burghers became more and more acutely alive to the inconsistency between the political equality of all citizens and the social and economical advantages enjoyed by the rich. Political equality seemed to point to social equality as its logical sequel; in fact, full and equal political equality could not be secured without social equality also, since the advantages of wealth necessarily involve superiorities in political influence. Thus, just as in modern Europe, so in ancient Greece, capital and democracy produced socialists, who pleaded for a levelling of classes by means of a distribution of property by the state. Aristophanes mocked these speculations in his Parliament of Women and his Wealth. The idea of communism which Plato develops on lines of his own in the Republic was not an original notion of the philosopher’s brain, but was suggested by the current communistic theories of the day. It is well worthy of consideration that the Athenians did not take the step from political to social democracy; and this discretion may have been partly due to the policy of those statesmen who, doubtless conscious of the danger, regarded the theoric fund as an indispensable institution.

The changed attitude of the individual to the state is shown by the introduction of a fixed remuneration of half a drachma to Athenian citizens for attending the meetings of the Assembly; and the rise in prices is illustrated by the subsequent increase of this remuneration. For the regular sessions, in which the proceedings were unattractive, the pay was raised to a drachma and a half; for the other meetings, which were more exciting, it was fixed at a drachma. The remuneration for serving in the law-courts was not increased; it was found that half a drachma was sufficient to draw applicants for the judge’s ticket. Payment for the discharge of political duties was part of the necessary machinery of the democracy, but the distribution of “spectacle-money” to the poor citizens was a luxury which involved an entirely different principle. It is uncertain when the practice of giving the price of his theatre ticket to the poor Athenian was first introduced; it has been attributed to Pericles, but it is possible that it was not introduced till Athens began to recover after the fall of her empire. In any case, the principle became established in the fourth century of distributing “theoric ” moneys, which were supposed to be spent on religious festivals; the citizens came to look forward to frequent and large distributions; the surplus revenue of the state, instead of being saved for emergencies, was placed in the theoric fund; and this theoric fund became so important that it ultimately required a special minister of finance to manage it. Those statesmen under whose guidance the theoric doles were most liberal had naturally the greatest influence with the mass of the citizens; and consequently finance acquired a new importance, and financial ability was developed in a very high degree. The state thus assumed the character of a commercial society; dividends were a political necessity, and in order to meet it heavier taxation was demanded. We have seen how, when war broke with Sparta, in the year in which the Second Athenian Confederacy was formed, a property-tax was imposed, and the properties of the citizens were assessed anew for this purpose.

Thus the state provided for the comfort of its poorer burghers at the expense of their wealthier fellows. It is, as it were, publicly recognised as a principle of political science that the end of the state is the comfort and pleasure of its individual members; and everything has to be made subordinate to this principle which is outwardly embodied in the theoric fund. This principle affected the foreign policy of Athens, as we have already observed. When she took the step of sending outsettlers to Samos and elsewhere, in defiance of the public opinion of Greece, her chief motive was doubtless pecuniary profit.

Constitutionally, the restored Athenian democracy was a remarkable success. The difficulties which the democratic statesmen encountered after the overthrow of the Thirty had been treated with a wisdom and moderation which are in striking contrast with the violence and vengefulness shown in other Greek states at similar crises. Most democratic men of means had been robbed of property under the tyranny of the oligarchs, and the property had been sold. Were the purchasers to be compelled to restore it without compensation? Were all the acts of the Thirty to be declared illegal? Such a measure would have created a bitter and discontented party in the state. Some of the chief democratic leaders voluntarily resigned all claim to compensation for the property they had lost, and this example promoted a general inclination on both sides to concession and compromise. The wisdom and tact displayed in this matter were not the least of the services which Thrasybulus and his fellows conferred on their country. No oligarchical conspiracy endangered the domestic peace of Athens again; no citizen, if it were not a philosophical speculator, called the democracy in question.

At this epoch the laws were revised, and the register of burghers was revised, but the constitution was left practically unaltered. A change, indeed, was made in the presidency of the Assembly, which had hitherto belonged to the prytaneis or board of Ten, selected every seven days from the presiding tribe in the Council. The close organic relation between the Council and Assembly rendered it needful that members of the Council should preside in the Assembly; but the presidency of the Assembly was now divorced from the presidency of the Council and invested in a body of nine, selected one from each of the nine tribes which were not presiding. This change was proobviously designed to form a check on the administration. The presiding tribe in the Council could no longer deal directly with the Assembly, but was obliged to present its measures to the people through an intermediate body, which belonged indeed to the Council but not to its own part of the Council. The year in which these reforms were probably made witnessed also the introduction of a new alphabet as the official script of the state. The old Attic alphabet, with its hard-worked vowels doing duty for more than one sound, was discontinued; and henceforward the stones which record the public acts archonship of the Athenian people are inscribed in the Ionic alphabet, with separate signs for the long and short e and o, and distinct symbols for the double consonants.

It is plain that Athens needed, at this period, not men of genius or enthusiasm, but simply men of ability, for the conduct of her affairs. She had no great aims to achieve, no grave dangers to escape, which demanded a Pericles or a Themistocles; a man of genius would have found no scope in the politics of Athens for two generations after the fall of her empire. Men of great ability she had, men who were thoroughly adequate to the comparatively unambitious rôle which she had wisely imposed upon herself—Agyrrhius, Callistratus, and afterwards Eubulus. To us they are all shadowy figures. Agyrrhius inaugurated the profit-system which afterwards resulted in the institution of the theoric fund; and it was he who opposed and discredited the extreme anti-Spartan policy of the heroes of Phyle. His nephew Callistratus enjoyed a longer career and played a greater part in the affairs of Greece, conspicuous as the founder of the Second Confederacy, as the negotiator of the Peace of Callias, and then as the opponent of Epaminondas. His policy throughout was consistent and reasonable. He aimed at rendering Athens powerful enough to be independent of Sparta; he desired that Sparta and Athens should stand side by side as the two leading states in Greece; and he recognised that the neighbourhood of Attica to Boeotia necessarily laid upon Athens the policy of opposing the aggrandisement of Thebes.

Agyrrhius and Callistratus might once and again fill the office of strategos ; but, like Cleon and Hyperbolus, they exercised their influence as recognised—practically, official—advisers of the Assembly The art of war became every year more and more an art, and little could be accomplished except by generals who devoted their life to the military profession. Such were Timotheus, the hero of Leucas; Chabrias, the victor of Naxos; and above all Iphicrates, whom we have met in so many places and in so many guises. Timotheus was a rich man  his father Conon had left him a fortune, and he could afford to serve his country and his country only. But Chabrias and Iphicrates enriched themselves by taking temporary service under foreign masters; Iphicrates even went so far as to Support the Thracian king, whose daughter he had wedded, against Athens. All these military men preferred to dwell elsewhere than at Athens. Abroad they could live in luxury and ostentation; while at Athens men lived simply and moderately, and public opinion was unfavourable to sumptuous establishments. The attitude of the generals to the city became much more independent when the citizens themselves ceased to serve abroad regularly, and hired mercenaries instead. The hiring of the troops and their organisation devolved upon the general, and he was often expected to provide the means for paying them too. Here we touch on a vice in the constitutional machine, which was the cause of frequent failures in the foreign enterprises of Athens during this period. No systematic provision was made that, when the people voted that a certain thing should be done, the adequate moneys at the same time should be voted. Any one might propose a decree, without responsibility for its execution; and at the next meeting of the Assembly the people might refuse to allow the necessary supplies, or no one might be ready to move the grant. In the same way, supplies might be cut off in the middle of a campaign. This defect had not made itself seriously felt in the fifth century, when the leading generals were always statesmen too, with influence in the Assembly; but it became serious when the generals were professional soldiers whom the statesmen employed. During the ten years after the Peace of Callias, Athens was actively engaged in a multitude of enterprises of foreign aggrandisement; but she achieved little, and the reason is that her armaments were hardly ever adequate. The difficulties of her financiers, who had always to keep a theoric reserve, must be taken into consideration.