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The eighth year of the war, described in the last chapter, had opened with sanguine hopes for Athens, and with dark promise for Sparta, chiefly in consequence of the memorable capture of Sphacteria toward the end of the preceding summer. It included, not to mention other events, two considerable and important enterprises on the part of Athens—against Megara and against Boeotia; the former plan, partially successful—the latter, not merely unsuccessful, but attended with a ruinous defeat. Lastly, the losses in Thrace following close upon the defeat at Delium, together with the unbounded expectations everywhere entertained from the future career of Brasidas, had again seriously lowered the impression entertained of Athenian power. The year thus closed amid humiliations the more painful to Athens, as contrasted with the glowing hopes with which it had begun.

It was now that Athens felt the full value of those prisoners whom she had taken at Sphacteria. With those prisoners, as Kleon and his supporters had said truly, she might be sure of making peace whenever she desired it. Having such a certainty to fall back upon, she had played a bold game, and aimed at larger acquisitions during the past year. This speculation, though not in itself unreasonable, had failed: moreover, a new phenomenon, alike unexpected by all, had occurred, when Brasidas broke open and cut up her empire in Thrace. Still, so great was the anxiety of the Spartans to regain their captives, who had powerful friends and relatives at home, that they considered the victories of Brasidas chiefly as a stepping-stone toward that object, and as a means of prevailing upon Athens to make peace. To his animated representations sent home from Amphipolis, setting forth the prospects of still farther success and entreating re-enforcements, they had returned a discouraging reply, dictated in no small degree by the miserable jealousy of some of their chief men; who, feeling themselves cast into the shade, and looking upon his splendid career as an eccentric movement breaking loose from Spartan routine, were thus on personal as well as political grounds disposed to labour for peace. Such collateral motives, working upon the caution usual with Sparta, determined her to make use of the present fortune and realized conquests of Brasidas, as a basis for negotiation and recovery of the prisoners; without opening the chance of ulterior enterprises, which, though they might perhaps end in results yet more triumphant, would unavoidably put in risk that which was now secure. The history of the Athenians during the past year might, indeed, serve as a warning to deter the Spartans from playing an adventurous game.

Ever since the capture of Sphacteria, the Lacedaemonians had been attempting, directly or indirectly, negotiations for peace and the recovery of the prisoners. Their pacific dispositions were especially instigated by King Pleistoanax, whose peculiar circumstances gave him a strong motive to bring the war to a close. He had been banished from Sparta, fourteen years before the commencement of the war, and a little before the Thirty years’ truce, under the charge of having taken bribes from the Athenians on occasion of invading Attica. For more than eighteen years he lived in banishment close to the temple of Zeus Lycaeus in Arcadia; in such constant fear of the Lacedaemonians that his dwelling-house was half within the consecrated ground. But he never lost the hope of procuring restoration, through the medium of the Pythian priestess at Delphi, whom he and his brother Aristokles kept in their pay. To every sacred legation which went from Sparta to Delphi, she repeated the same imperative injunction—“They must bring back the seed of (Herakles) the demi­god son of Zeus from foreign land to their own; if they did not, it would be their fate to plow with a silver ploughshare.” The command of the god, thus incessantly repeated, and backed by the influence of those friends who supported Pleistoanax at home, at length produced an entire change of sentiment at Sparta. In the fourth or fifth year of the Peloponnesian war, the exile was recalled; and not merely recalled, but welcomed with unbounded honours, received with the same sacrifices and choric shows as those which were said to have been offered to the primitive kings, on the first settlement of Sparta.

As in the case of Kleomenes and Demaratus, however, it was not long before the previous intrigue came to be detected, or at least generally suspected and believed; to the great discredit of Pleistoanax, though he could not be again banished. Every successive public calamity which befell the state, the miscarriages of Alcidas, the defeat of Eurylochus in Amphilochia, and above all, the unprecedented humiliation in Sphacteria, were imputed to the displeasure of the gods in consequence of the impious treachery of Pleistoanax. Suffering under such an imputation, this king was most eager to exchange the hazards of war for the secure march of peace, so that he was thus personally interested iu opening every door for negotiation with Athens, and in restoring himself to credit by regaining the prisoners.

After the battle of Delium, the pacific dispositions of Nicias, Laches, and the philo-Laconian party, began to find increasing favor at Athens; while the unforeseen losses in Thrace, coming thick upon each other—each successive triumph of Brasidas apparently increasing his means of achieving more—tended to convert the discouragement of the Athenians into positive alarm. Negotiations appear to have been in progress throughout great part of the winter. The continual hope that these might be brought to a close, combined with the impolitic aversion of Nikias and his friends to energetic military action, help to explain the unwonted apathy of Athens under the pressure of such disgraces. But so much did her courage flag, toward the close of the winter, that she came to look upon a truce as her only means of preservation against the victorious progress of Brasidas. What the tone of Kleon now was, we are not directly informed. He would probably still continue opposed to the propositions of peace, at least indirectly, by insisting on terms more favourable than could be obtained. On this point his political counsels would be wrong; but on another point they would be much sounder and more judicious than those of his rival Nikias: for he would recommend a strenuous prosecution of hostilities by Athenian force against Brasidas in Thrace. At the present moment this was the most urgent political necessity of Athens, whether she entertained or rejected the views of peace. And the policy of Nikias, who cradled up the existing depression of the citizens by encouraging them to rely on the pacific inclinations of Sparta, was ill-judged and disastrous in its results, as the future will hereafter show.

Attempts were made by the peace party both at Athens and Sparta to negotiate at first for a definitive peace. But the conditions of such a peace were not easy to determine, so as to satisfy both parties—and became more and more difficult, with every success of Brasidas. At length the Athenians, eager above all things to arrest his progress, sent to Sparta to propose a truce for one year—desiring the Spartans to send to Athens envoys with full powers to settle the terms: the truce would allow time and tranquillity for settling the conditions of a definitive treaty. The proposition of the truce for one year, together with the first two articles ready prepared, came from Athens, as indeed we might have presumed even without proof; since the interest of Sparta was rather against it, as allowing to the Athenians the fullest leisure for making preparations against farther losses in Thrace. But her main desire was, not so much to put herself in condition to make the best possible peace, as to insure some peace which would liberate her captives. She calculated that when once the Athenians had tasted the sweets of peace for one year, they would not again voluntarily impose upon themselves the rigorous obligations of war.

In the month of March, 423 B.C., on the fourteenth day of the month Elaphebolion at Athens, and on the twelfth day of the month Gerastius at Sparta, a truce for one year was concluded and sworn, between Athens on one side, and Sparta, Corinth, Sicyon, Epidaurus, and Megara on the other. The Spartans, instead of merely dispatching plenipotentiaries to Athens as the Athenians had desired, went a step farther. In concurrence with the Athenian envoys, they drew up a form of truce, approved by themselves and their allies, in such manner that it only required to be adopted and ratified by the Athenians The general principle of the truce was uti possidetis, and the conditions were in substance as follows:—

1. Respecting the temple at Delphi, every Greek shall have the right to make use of it honestly and without fear, pursuant to the customs of his particular city.—The main purpose of this stipulation, prepared and sent verbatim from Athens, was to allow Athenian visitors to go thither, which had been impossible during the war, in consequence of the hostility of the Boeotians and Phocians. The Delphian authorities also were in the interest of Sparta, and doubtless the Athenians received no formal invitation to the Pythian games. But the Boeotians and Phocians were no parties to the truce: accordingly the Lacedaemonians, while accepting the article and proclaiming the general liberty in principle, do not pledge themselves to enforce it by arms as far as the Boeotians and Phocians are concerned, but only to try and persuade them by amicable representations. The liberty of sacrificing at Delphi was at this moment the more welcome to the Athenians, as they seem to have fancied themselves under the displeasure of Apollo.

2. All the contracting parties will inquire out and punish, each according to its own laws, such persons as may violate the property of the Delphian god.—This article also is prepared at Athens, for the purpose seemingly of conciliating the favor of Apollo and the Delphians. The Lacedaemonians accept the article literally, of course.

3. The Athenian garrisons at Pylus, Cythera, Nisaea, and Minoa, and Methana in the neighbourhood of Troezen, are to remain as at present. No communication to take place between Kythera and any portion of the mainland belonging to the Lacedaemonian alliance. The soldiers occupying Pylus shall confine themselves within the space between Buphras aud Tomeus; those in Nisaea and Minoa, within the road which leads from the chapel of the hero Nisus to the temple of Poseidon—without any communication with the population beyond that limit. In like manner the Athenians in the peninsula of Methana near Troezen, and the inhabitants of the latter city, shall observe the special convention concluded between them respecting boundaries.

4. The Lacedaemonians and their allies shall make use of the sea for trading-purposes, on their own coasts, but shall not have liberty to sail in any ship of war, nor in any rowed merchant-vessel of tonnage equal to 500 talents. [All war-ships were generally impelled by oar: they sometimes used sails, but never when wanted for fighting. Merchant-vessels seem generally to have sailed, but were sometimes rowed: the limitation of size is added, to insure that the Lacedaemonians shall not, under colour of merchantmen, get up a warlike navy.]

5. There shall be free communication by sea as well as by land, between Peloponnesus and Athens for herald or embassy, with suitable attendants, to treat for a definitive peace or for the adjustment of differences. .

6. Neither side shall receive deserters from the. other, whether free or slave. [This article was alike important to both parties. Athens had to fear the revolt of her subject-allies—Sparta the desertion of Helots.]

7. Disputes shall be amicably settled, by both parties, according to their established laws and customs.

Such was the substance of the treaty prepared at Sparta—seemingly in concert with Athenian envoys—and sent by the Spartans to Athens for approval, with the following addition—“If there be any provision which occurs to you, more honourable or just than these, come to Lacedaemon and tell us: for neither the Spartans nor their allies will resist any just suggestions. But let those who come bring with them full powers to conclude—in the same manner as you desire of us. The truce shall be for one year.”

By the resolution which Laches proposed in the Athenian public assembly, ratifying the truce, the people farther decreed that negotiations should be opened for a definitive treaty, and directed the Strategi to propose to the next ensuing assembly, a scheme and principles for conducting the negotiations. But at the very moment when the envoys between Sparta and Athens were bringing the truce to final adoption, events happened in Thrace which threatened to cancel it altogether. Two days after the important fourteenth of Elaphebolion, but before the truce could be made known in Thrace, Skione revolted from Athens to Brasidas.

Skione was a town calling itself Achaean, one of the numerous colonies which, in the want oi an acknowledged mother-city, traced its origin to warriors returning from Troy. It was situated in the peninsula of Pallene (the westernmost of those three narrow tongues of land into which Chalcidice branches out); conterminous with the Eretrian colony Mende. The Skionaeans, not without considerable dissent among themselves, proclaimed their revolt from Athens, under concert with Brasidas. He immediately crossed the Gulf into Pallene, himself in a little boat, but with a trireme close at his side; calculating that she would protect him against any small Athenian vessel—while any Athenian trireme which he might encounter would attack his trireme, paying no attention to the little boat in which he himself was. The revolt of Skione was, from the position of the town, a more striking defiance of Athens than any of the preceding events. For the isthmus connecting Pallene with the mainland was occupied by the town of Potidae—a town assigned at the period of its capture, seven years before, to Athenian settlers, though probably containing some other residents besides. Moreover the isthmus was so narrow that the wall of Potidae barred it across completely from sea to sea. Pallene was therefore a quasi-island, not open to the aid of land force from the continent, like the towns previously acquired by Brasidas. The Skionaeans thus put themselves, without any foreign aid, into conflict against the whole force of Athens, bringing into question her empire not merely over continental towns but over islands.

Even to Brasidas himself, their revolt appeared a step of astonishing boldness. On being received into the city, he convened a public assembly, and addressed to them the same language which he had employed at Acanthus and Torone; disavowing all party preferences as well as all interference with the internal politics of the town, and exhorting them only to unanimous efforts against the common enemy. He bestowed upon them at the same time the warmest praise for their courage. “They, though exposed to all the hazards of islanders, had stood forward of their own accord to procure freedom, without waiting like cowards to be driven on by a foreign force toward what was clearly their own good. He considered them capable of any measure of future heroism, if the danger now impending from Athens should be averted—and he should assign to them the very first post of honour among the faithful allies of Lacedaemon.”

This generous, straightforward, and animating tone of exhortation—appealing to the strongest political instinct of the Greek mind, the love of complete city-autonomy, and coming from the lips of one whose whole conduct had hitherto been conformable to it—had proved highly efficacious in all the previous towns. But in Skione it roused the population to the highest pitch of enthusiasm. It worked even upon the feelings of the dissentient minority, bringing them round to partake heartily in the movement. It produced a unanimous and exalted confidence which made them look forward cheerfully to all the desperate chances in which they had engaged themselves; and it produced at the same time, in still more unbounded manifestation, the same personal attachment and admiration as Brasidas inspired elsewhere. The Skionaeans not only voted to him publicly a golden crown, as the liberator of Greece, but when it was placed on his head, the burst of individual sentiment and sympathy was the strongest of which the Grecian bosom was capable. “They crowded round him individually, and encircled his head with fillets, like a victorious athlete,” says the historian. This remarkable incident illustrates what I observed before—that the achievements, the self-relying march, the straightforward politics, and probity of this illustrious man—who in character was more Athenian than Spartan, yet with the good qualities of Athens predominant—inspired a personal emotion toward him such as rarely found its way into Grecian political life. The sympathy and admiration felt in Greece toward a victorious athlete was not merely an intense sentiment in the Grecian mind, but was perhaps, of all others, the most wide-spread and Pan-hellenic. It was connected with the religion, the taste, and the love of recreation common to the whole nation—while politics tended rather to disunite the separate cities: it was farther a sentiment at once familiar and exclusively personal. Of its exaggerated intensity throughout Greece the philosophers often complained, not without good reason. But Thucydides cannot convey a more lively idea of the enthusiasm and unanimity with which Brasidas was welcomed at Skione, just after the desperate resolution taken by the citizens, than by using this simile.

The Lacedaemonian commander knew well how much the utmost resolution of the Skionaeans was needed, and how speedily their insular position would draw upon them the vigorous invasion of Athens. He accordingly brought across to Pallene a considerable portion of his army, not merely with a view to the defense of Skione, but also with the intention of surprising both Mende and Potidaea, in both which places there were small parties of conspirators prepared to open the gates.

It was in this position that he was found by the commissioners who came to announce formally the conclusion of the truce for one year, and to enforce its provisions: Athenaeus from Sparta—one of the three Spartans who had sworn to the treaty, Aristonymus, from Athens. The face of affairs was materially altered by this communication; much to the satisfaction of the newly-acquired allies of Sparta in Thrace, who accepted the truce forthwith—but to the great chagrin of Brasidas, whose career was thus suddenly arrested. Yet he could not openly refuse obedience, and his army was accordingly transferred from the peninsula of Pallene to Torone.

The case of Skione however, immediately raised an obstruction, doubtless very agreeable to him. The commissioners, who had come in an Athenian trireme, had heard nothing of the revolt of that place, and Aristonymus was astonished to find the enemy in Pallene. But on inquiring into the case, he discovered that the Skionaeans had not revolted until two days after the day fixed for the commencement of the truce. Accordingly, while sanctioning the truce for all the other cities in Thrace, he refused to comprehend Skione in it, sending immediate news home to Athens. Brasidas, protesting loudly against this proceeding, refused on his part to abandon Skione, which was peculiarly endeared to him by the recent scenes; and even obtained the countenance of the Lacedaemonian commissioners, by falsely asseverating that the city had revolted before the day named in the truce. Violent was the burst of indignation when the news sent home by Aristonymus reached Athens. It was nowise softened, when the Lacedaemonians, acting upon the version of the case sent to them by Brasidas and Athenaeus, dispatched an embassy thither to claim protection for Skione—or at any rate to procure the adjustment of the dispute by arbitration or pacific decision. Having the terms of the treaty on their side, the Athenians were least of all disposed to relax from their rights in favor of the first revolting islanders. They resolved at once to undertake an expedition for the reconquest of Skione; and further, on the proposition of Kleon, to put to death all the adult male inhabitants of that place as soon as it should have been reconquered. At the same time, they showed no disposition to throw up the truce generally. The state of feeling on both sides tended to this result—that while the war continued in Thrace, it was suspended everywhere else.

Fresh intelligence soon arrived—carrying exasperation at Athens yet further—of the revolt of Mende, the adjoining town to Skione. Those Menaeans, who had laid their measures for secretly introducing Brasidas, were at first baffled by the arrival of the truce-commissioners. But they saw that he retained his hold on Skione, in spite of the provisions of the truce; and they ascertained that he was willing still to protect them if they revolted, though he could not be an accomplice, as originally projected, in the surprise of the town. Being moreover only a small party, with the sentiment of the population against them—they were afraid, if they now relinquished their scheme, of being detected and punished for the partial steps already taken, when the Athenians should come against Skione. They therefore thought it on the whole the least dangerous course to persevere. They proclaimed their revolt from Athens, constraining the reluctant citizens to obey them. The government seems before to have been democratical, but they now found means to bring about an oligarchical revolution along with the revolt. Brasidas immediately accepted their adhesion, and willingly undertook to protect them; professing to think that he had a right to do so, because they had revolted openly after the truce had been proclaimed. But the truce upon this point was clear—which he himself virtually admitted, by setting up as justification certain alleged matters in which the Athenians had themselves violated it. He immediately made preparation for the defense both of Mende and Skione against the attack which was now rendered more certain than before; conveying the women and children of those two towns across to the Chalcidic Olynthus, and sending thither as garrison 500 Peloponnesian hoplites with 300 Chalcidic peltasts; the commander of which force, Polydamidas, took possession of the acropolis with his own troops separately.

Brasidas then withdrew himself with the greater part of his army, to accompany Perdikkas on an expedition into the interior against Arrhibaeus and the Lyncestae. On what ground, after having before entered into terms with Arrhibaeus, he now became his active enemy, we are left to conjecture. Probably his relations with Perdikkas, whose alliance was of essential importance, were such that this step was forced upon him against his will; or he may really have thought that the force under Polydamidas was adequate to the defense of Mende and Skione—an idea which the unaccountable backwardness of Athens for the last six or eight months might well foster. Had he even remained, indeed, he could hardly have saved them, considering the situation of Pallene and the superiority of Athens at sea: but his absence made their ruin certain.

While Brasidas was thus engaged far in the interior, the Athenian armament under Nikias and Nicostratus reached Potidaea; fifty triremes, ten of them Chian—1000 hoplites and 600 bowmen from Athens—1000 mercenary Thracians—with some peltasts from Methone and other towns in the neighbourhood. From Potidaea they proceeded by sea to Cape Poseidonium, near which they landed for the purpose of attacking Mende. Polydamidas, the Peloponnesian commander in the town, took post with his force of 700 hoplites, including 300 Skionaeans, upon an eminence near the city, strong and difficult of approach: upon which the Athenian generals divided their forces; Nikias, with sixty Athenian chosen hoplites, 120 Methonean peltasts, and all the bowmen, tried to march up the hill by a side path and thus turn the position—while Nicostratus with the main army attacked it in front. But such were the extreme difficulties of the ground that both were repulsed: Nikias was himself wounded, and the division of Nicostratus was thrown into great disorder, narrowly escaping a destructive defeat. The Mendaeans, however, evacuated the position in the night and retired into the city; while the Athenians, sailing round on the morrow to the suburb on the side of Skione, ravaged the neighbouring land; Nikias on the ensuing day carried his devastations still further, even to the border of the Skionaean territory.

But dissensions so serious had already commenced within the walls, that the Skionaean auxiliaries, becoming mistrustful of their situation, took advantage of the night to return home. The revolt of Mende had been brought about against the will of the citizens, by the intrigues and for the benefit of an oligarchical faction. Moreover, it does not appear that Brasidas personally visited the town, as he had visited Skione and the other revolted towns. Had he come, his personal influence might have done much to soothe the offended citizens, and create some disposition to adopt the revolt as a fact accomplished, after they had once been compromised with Athens. But his animating words had not been heard, and the Peloponnesian troops, whom he had sent to Mende, were mere instruments to sustain the newly-erected oligarchy, and keep out the Athenians. The feelings of the citizens generally toward them were soon unequivocally displayed. Nicostratus with half of the Athenian force was planted before the gate of Mende which opened toward Potidaea. In the neighbourhood of that gate, within the city, was the place of arms and the chief station both of the Peloponnesians and of the citizens. Polydamidas, intending to make a sally forth, was marshaling both of them in battle order, when one of the Mendaean Demos, manifesting with angry vehemence a sentiment common to most of them, told him “that he would not sally forth, and did not choose to take part in the contest”. Polydamidas seized hold of the man to punish him, when the mass of the armed Demos, taking part with their comrade, made a sudden rush upon the Peloponnesians. The latter, unprepared for such an onset, sustained at first some loss, and were soon forced to retreat into the acropolis—the rather as they saw some of the Mendaeans open the gates to the besiegers without, which induced them to suspect a preconcerted betrayal. No such concert however existed; though the besieging generals, when they saw the gates thus suddenly opened, soon comprehended the real position of affairs. But they found it impossible to restrain their soldiers, who pushed in forthwith, from plundering the town: and they had even some difficulty in saving the lives of the citizens.

Mende being thus taken, the Athenian generals desired the body of the citizens to resume the former government, leaving it to them to single out and punish the authors of the late revolt. What use was made of this permission, we are not told: but probably most of the authors had already escaped into the acropolis along with Polydamidas. Having erected a wall of circumvallation, round the acropolis, joining the sea at both ends—and left a force to guard it—the Athenians moved away to begin the siege at Skione, where they found both the citizens and the Peloponnesian garrison posted on a strong hill, not far from the walls. As it was impossible to surround the town without being masters of this hill, the Athenians attacked it at once and were more fortunate than they had been before Mende; for they carried it by assault, compelling the offenders to take refuge in the town. After erecting their trophy, they commenced the wall of circumvallation. Before it was finished, the garrison who had been shut up in the acropolis of Mende got into Skione at night, having broken out by a sudden sally where the blockading wall around them joined the sea. But this did not hinder Nikias from prosecuting his operations, so that Skione was in no long time completely enclosed, and a division placed to guard the wall of circumvallation

Such was the state of affairs which Brasidas found on returning from the inland Macedonia. Unable either to recover Mende or to relieve Skione, he was forced to confine himself to the protection of Torone. Nicias, however, without attacking Torone, returned soon afterward with his armament to Athens, leaving Skione under blockade.

The march of Brasidas into Macedonia had been unfortunate in every way. Nothing but his extraordinary gallantry rescued him from utter ruin. The joint force of himself and Perdikkas consisted of 3000 Grecian hoplites : Peloponnesian, Acanthian, and Chalcidian, with 1000 Macedonian and Chalcidian horse, and a considerable number of non-Hellenic auxiliaries. As soon as they had got beyond the mountain-pass into the territory of the Lyncestae, they were met by Arrhibaeus, and a battle ensued, in which that prince was completely worsted. They halted here a few days, awaiting—before they pushed forward to attack the villages in the territory of Arrhibaeus—the arrival of a body of Illyrian mercenaries, with whom Perdikkas had concluded a bargain. At length Perdikkas became impatient to advance without them, while Brasidas, on the contrary, apprehensive of the fate of Mende during his absence, was bent on returning back. The dissension between them becoming aggravated, they parted company and occupied separate encampments at some distance from each other—when both received unexpected intelligence which made Perdikkas as anxious to retreat as Brasidas. The Illyrians, having broken their compact, had joined Arrhibaeus, and were now in full march to attack the invaders. The untold number of these barbarians was reported as overwhelming, while such was their reputation for ferocity as well as for valour, that the Macedonian army of Perdikkas, seized with a sudden panic, broke up in the night, and fled without orders, hurrying Perdikkas himself along with them, and not even sending notice to Brasidas, with whom nothing had been concerted about the retreat. In the morning the latter found Arrhibaeus and the Illyrians close upon him: the Macedonians being already far advanced in their journey homeward.

The contrast between the man of Hellas and of Macedonia—general as well as soldiers—was never more strikingly exhibited than on this critical occasion. The soldiers of Brasidas, though surprised as well as deserted, lost neither their courage nor their discipline; the commander preserved not only his presence of mind, but his full authority. His hoplites were directed to form in a hollow square or oblong, with the light-armed and attendants in the center, for the retreating march. Youthful soldiers were posted either in the outer ranks, or in convenient stations, to run out swiftly and repel the assailing enemy; while Brasidas himself, with 300 chosen men, formed the rear-guard.

The short harangue which (according to a custom universal with Grecian generals) he addressed to his troops immediately before the enemy approached, is in many respects remarkable. Though some were Acanthians, some Chalcidians, some Helots, he designates all by the honourable title of “Peloponnesians.” Reassuring them against the desertion of their allies, as well as against the superior numbers of the advancing enemy—he invokes their native, homebred courage. “Ye do not require the presence of allies to inspire you with bravery—nor do ye fear superior numbers of an enemy; for ye belong not to those political communities in which the larger number governs the smaller, but to those in which a few men rule subjects more numerous than themselves—having acquired their power by no other means than by superiority in battle.” Next, Brasidas tried to dissipate the prestige of the Illyrian name. His army had already vanquished the Lyncestae, and these other barbarians were noway better. A nearer acquaintance would soon show that they were only formidable from the noise, the gestures, the clashing of arms and the accompaniments of their onset; and that they were incapable of sustaining the reality of close combat, hand to hand. “They have no regular order (said he) such as to impress them with shame for deserting their post. Flight and attack are with them in equally honourable esteem, so that there is nothing to test the really courageous man: their battle, wherein every man fights as he chooses, is just the thing to furnish each with a decent pretence for running away.”—“Repel ye their onset whenever it comes, and so soon as opportunity offers, resume your retreat in rank and order. Ye will soon arrive in a place of safety; and ye will be convinced that such crowds, when their enemy has stood to defy the first onset, keep aloof with empty menace and a parade of courage which never strikes—while if their enemy gives way, they show themselves smart and bold in running after him where there is no danger. ”

The superiority of disciplined and regimented force over disorderly numbers, even with equal individual courage, is now a truth so familiar, that we require an effort of imagination to put ourselves back into the fifth century before the Christian era, when this truth was recognized only among the Hellenic communities; when the practice of all their neighbours, Illyrians, Thracians, Asiatics, Epirots, and even Macedonians—implied ignorance or contradiction of it. In respect to the Epirots, the difference between their military habits and those of the Greeks has been already noticed—having been pointedly manifested in the memorable joint attack on the Acarnanian town of Stratus, in the second year of the war. Both Epirots and Macedonians, however, are a step nearer to the Greeks than either Thracians, or these Illyrian barbarians against whom Brasidas was now about to contend, and in whose case the contrast comes out yet more forcibly. It is not merely the contrast between two modes of fighting which the Lacedaemonian commander impresses upon his soldiers. He gives what may be called a moral theory of the principles on which that contrast is founded; a theory of large range, and going to the basis of Grecian social life, in peace as well as in war. The sentiment, in each individual man’s bosom, of a certain place which he has to fill and duties which he has to perform—combined with fear of the displeasure of his neighbours as well as of his own self-reproach if he shrinks back—but at the same time essentially bound up with the feeling, that his neighbours are under corresponding obligations toward him—this sentiment, which Brasidas invokes as the settled military creed of his soldiers in their ranks, was not less the regulating principle of their intercourse in peace as citizens of the same community. Simple as the principle may seem, it would have found no response in the army of Xerxes, or of the Thracian Sitalces or of the Gaul Brennus. The Persian soldier rushes to death by order of the Great King, perhaps under terror of a whip which the Great King commands to be administered to him. The Illyrian or the Gaul scorns such a stimulus, and obeys only the instigation of his own pugnacity, or vengeance, or love of blood, or love of booty—but recedes as soon as that individual sentiment is either satisfied, or overcome by fear. It is the Greek soldier alone who feels himself bound to his comrades by ties reciprocal and indissoluble—who obeys neither the will of a king, nor his own individual impulse, but a common and imperative sentiment of obligation—whose honour or shame is attached to his own place in the ranks, never to be abandoned nor overstepped. Such conceptions of military duty, established in the minds of these soldiers whom Brasidas addressed, will come to be farther illustrated when we describe the memorable Retreat of the Ten Thousand. At present I merely indicate them as forming a part of that general scheme of morality, social and political as well as military, wherein the Greeks stood exalted above the nations who surrounded them.

But there is another point in the speech of Brasidas which deserves notice: he tells his soldiers—“Courage is your homebred property: for ye belong to communities wherein the small number governs the larger, simply by reason of superior prowess in themselves and conquest by their ancestors.” First, it is remarkable that a large proportion of the Peloponnesian soldiers, whom Brasidas thus addresses, consisted of Helots, the conquered race, not the conquerors: yet so easily does the military or regimental pride supplant the sympathies of race, that these men would feel flattered by being addressed as if they were themselves sprung from the race which had enslaved their ancestors. Next, we here see the right of the strongest invoked as the legitimate source of power, and as an honourable and ennobling recollection by an officer of Dorian race, oligarchical politics, unperverted intellect, and estimable character. We shall accordingly be prepared, when we find a similar principle hereafter laid down by the Athenian envoys at Melos, to disallow the explanation of those who treat it merely as a theory invented by demagogues and sophists—upon one or other of whom it is common to throw the blame of all that is objectionable in Grecian politics or morality.

Having finished his harangue, Brasidas gave orders for retreat. As soon as his march began, the Illyrians rushed upon him with all the confidence and shouts of pursuers against a flying enemy, believing that they should completely destroy his army. But wherever they approached near, the young soldiers specially stationed for the purpose turned upon and beat them back with severe loss; while Brasidas himself with his rear-guard of 300 was present everywhere rendering vigorous aid. When the Lyncestae and Illyrians attacked, the army halted and repelled them, after which it resumed its retreating march. The barbarians found themselves so rudely handled, and with such unwonted Vigor—for they probably had had no previous experience of Grecian troops—that after a few trials they desisted from meddling with the army in its retreat along the plain. They ran forward rapidly, partly in order to overtake the Macedonians under Perdikkas, who had fled before—partly to occupy the narrow pass, with high hills on each side, which formed the entrance into Lyncestis, and which lay in the road of Brasidas. When the latter approached this narrow pass, he saw the barbarians masters of it. Several of them were already on the summits, and more were ascending to re-enforce them; while a portion of them were moving down upon his rear. Brasidas immediately gave orders to his chosen 300, to charge up the most assailable of the two hills, with their best speed, before it became more numerously occupied—not staying to preserve compact ranks. This unexpected and vigorous movement disconcerted the barbarians, who fled, abandoning the eminence to the Greeks, and leaving their own men in the pass exposed on one of their flanks. The retreating army, thus master of one of the side hills, was enabled to force its way through the middle pass, and to drive away the Lyncestian and Illyrian occupants. Having got through this narrow outlet, Brasidas found himself on the higher ground. His enemies did not dare to attack him farther: so that he was enabled to reach, even in that day’s march, the first town or village in the kingdom of Perdikkas, called Arnissa. So incensed were his soldiers with the Macedonian subjects of Perdikkas, who had fled on the first news of danger without giving them any notice —that they seized and appropriated all the articles of baggage, not inconsiderable in number, which happened to have been dropped in the disorder of a nocturnal flight. They even unharnessed and slew the oxen out of the baggage carts.

Perdikkas keenly resented this behaviour of the troops of Brasidas, following as it did immediately upon his own quarrel with that general, and upon the mortification of his repulse from Lyncestis. From this moment he broke off his alliance with the Peloponnesian, and opened negotiations with Nikias, then engaged in constructing the wall of blockade round Skione. Such was the general faithlessness of this prince, however, that Nikias required as a condition of the alliance, some manifest proof of the sincerity of his intentions; and Perdikkas was soon enabled to afford a proof of considerable importance.

The relation between Athens and Peloponnesus, since the conclusion of the truce in the preceding March, had settled into a curious combination. In Thrace, war was prosecuted by mutual understanding, and with unabated vigour; but everywhere else the truce was observed. The main purpose of the truce, however, that of giving time for discussion preliminary to a definite peace, was completely frustrated. The decree of the Athenian people (which stands included in their vote sanctioning the truce), for sending and receiving envoys to negotiate such a peace, seems never to have been executed. Instead of this, the Lacedaemonians dispatched a considerable reinforcement by land to join Brasidas; probably at his own request, and also instigated by hearing of the Athenian armament now under Nikias in Pallene. But Ischagoras, the commander of the re-enforcement, on reaching the borders of Thessaly, found all farther progress impracticable, and was compelled to send back his troops. For Perdikkas, by whose powerful influence alone Brasidas had been enabled to pass through Thessaly, now directed his Thessalian guests to keep the new-comers off; which was far more easily executed, and was gratifying to the feelings of Perdikkas himself, as well as an essential service to the Athenians. Ischagoras however, with a few companions but without his army made his way to Brasidas having been particularly directed by the Lacedaemonians to inspect and report upon the state of affairs. He numbered among his companions a few select Spartans of the military age, intended to be placed as harmosts or governors in the cities reduced by Brasidas. This was among the first violations, apparently often repeated afterwards, of the ancient Spartan custom—that none except elderly men, above the military age, should be named to such posts. Indeed Brasidas himself was an illustrious departure from the ancient rule. This mission of these officers was intended to guard against the appointment of any but Spartans to such posts—for there were no Spartans in the army of Brasidas. One of the new-comers, Klearidas, was made governor of Amphipolis—another, Pasitelidas, of Torone. It is probable that these inspecting commissioners may have contributed to fetter the activity of Brasidas. Moreover the newly-declared hostility of Perdikkas, together with disappointment in the non-arrival of the fresh troops intended to join him, much abridged his means. We hear of only one exploit performed by him at this time—and that too, more than six months after the retreat from Macedonia—about January or February, 422 B.C. Having established intelligence with some parties in the town of Potidaea, in the view of surprising it, he contrived to bring up his army in the night to the foot of the walls, and even to plant his scaling-ladders, without being discovered. The sentinel carrying and ringing the bell had just passed by on the wall, leaving for a short interval an unguarded space (the practice apparently being, to pass this bell round along the walls from one sentinel to another throughout the night)—when some of the soldiers of Brasidas took advantage of the moment to try and mount. But before they could reach the top of the wall, the sentinel came back, alarm was given, and the assailants were compelled to retreat.

In the absence of actual war between the ascendent powers in and near Peloponnesus, during the course of the summer, Thucydides mentions to us some incidents which perhaps he would have omitted had there been great warlike operations to describe. The great temple of Here, between Mycenae and Argos (nearer to the former, and in early times more intimately connected with it, but now an appendage of the latter; Mycenae itself having been subjected and almost depopulated by the Argeians)—enjoyed an ancient Pan-hellenic reputation. The catalogue of its priestesses, seemingly with a statue or bust of each, was preserved or imagined through centuries of past time, real and mythical, beginning with the goddess herself or her immediate nominees. Chrysis, an old woman who had been priestess there for fifty-six years, happened to fall asleep in the temple with a burning lamp near to her head; the fillet encircling her head took fire, and though she herself escaped unhurt, the temple itself, very ancient and perhaps built of wood, was consumed. From fear of the wrath of the Argeians, Chrysis fled to Phlius, and subsequently thought it necessary to seek protection as a suppliant in the temple of Athene Alea at Tegea: Phaeinis was appointed priestess in her place. The temple was rebuilt on an adjoining spot by Eupolemus of Argos, continuing as much as possible the antiquities and traditions of the former, but with greater splendour and magnitude. Pausanias the traveller, who describes this second edifice as a visitor near 600 years afterward, saw near it the remnant of the old temple which had been burnt.

We hear farther of a war in Arcadia, between the two important cities of Mantineia and Tegea—each attended by its Arcadian allies, partly free, partly subject. In a battle fought between them at Laodikion, the victory was disputed. Each party erected a trophy—each sent spoils to the temple of Delphi. We shall have occasion soon to speak farther of these Arcadian dissensions.

The Boeotians had been no parties to the truce sworn between Sparta and Athens in the preceding month of March. But they seem to have followed the example of Sparta in abstaining from hostilities de facto: and we may conclude that they acceded to the request of Sparta so far as to allow the transit of Athenian visitors and sacred envoys through Boeotia to the Delphian temple. The only actual incident which we hear of in Boeotia during this interval, is one which illustrates forcibly the harsh and ungenerous ascendency of the Thebans over some of the inferior Boeotian cities. The Thebans destroyed the walls of Thespiae, and condemned the city to remain unfortified, on the charge of atticising tendencies. How far this suspicion was well-founded, we have no means of judging. But the Thespians, far from being dangerous at this moment, were altogether helpless—having lost the flower of their military force at the battle of Delium, where their station was on the defeated wing. It was this very helplessness, brought upon them by their services to Thebes against Athens, which now both impelled and enabled the Thebans to enforce the rigorous sentence above-mentioned.

But the month of March (or the Attic Elaphebolion) 422 B.C.— the time prescribed for expiration of the One year’s truce—had now arrived. It has already been mentioned that this truce had never been more than partially observed. Brasidas in Thrace had disregarded it from the beginning. Both the contracting powers had tacitly acquiesced in the anomalous condition, of war in Thrace coupled with peace elsewhere. Either of them had thus an excellent pretext for breaking the truce altogether; and as neither acted upon this pretext, we plainly see that the paramount feeling and ascendent parties, among both, tended to peace of their own accord, at that time. There was nothing except the interest of Brasidas, and of those revolted subjects of Athens to whom he had bound himself, which kept alive the war in Thrace. Under such a state of feeling, the oath taken to maintain the truce still seemed imperative on both parties—always excepting Thracian affairs. Moreover the Athenians were to a certain degree soothed by their success at Mende and Skione, and by their acquisition of Perdiccas as an ally, during the summer and autumn of 423 B.C. But the state of sentiment between the contracting parties was not such as to make it possible to treat for any longer peace, or to conclude any new agreement; though neither were disposed to depart from that which had been already concluded.

The mere occurrence of the last day of the truce made no practical difference at first in this condition of things. The truce had expired: either party might renew hostilities: but neither actually did renew them. To the Athenians there was this additional motive for abstaining from hostilities for a few months longer: the great Pythian festival would be celebrated at Delphi in July or the beginning of August, and as they had been excluded from that holy spot during all the interval between the beginning of the war and the conclusion of the One year’s truce, their pious feelings seem now to have taken a peculiar longing toward the visits, pilgrimages, and festivals connected with it. Though the truce therefore had really ceased, no actual warfare took place until the Pythian games were over.

But though the actions of Athens remained unaltered, the talk at Athens became very different. Cleon and his supporters renewed their instances to obtain a vigorous prosecution of the war, and renewed them with great additional strength of argument; the question being now open to considerations of political prudence, without any binding obligation.

“At this time (observes Thucydides) the great enemies of peace were, Brasidas on one side, and Cleon on the other: the former, because he was in full success and rendered illustrious by the war—the latter because he thought that, if peace were concluded, he should be detected in his dishonest politics, and be less easily credited in his criminations of others”. As to Brasidas, the remark of the historian is indisputable. It would be wonderful indeed, if he, in whom so many splendid qualities were brought out by the war, and who had moreover contracted obligations with the Thracian towns which gave him hopes and fears of his own, entirely apart from Lacedaemon—it would be wonderful if the war and its continuance were not in his view the paramount object. In truth his position in Thrace constituted an insurmountable obstacle to any solid or steady peace, independently of the dispositions of Cleon.

But the colouring which Thucydides gives to Cleon’s support of the war is open to much greater comment. First, we may well raise the question, whether Cleon had any real interest in war—whether his personal or party consequence in the city was at all enhanced by it. He had himself no talent or competence for warlike operations—which tended infallibly to place ascendency in the hands of others, and to throw him into the shade. As to his power of carrying on dishonest intrigues with success, that must depend on the extent of his political ascendency. Matter of crimination against others (assuming him to be careless of truth or falsehood) could hardly be wanting either in war or peace. And if the war brought forward unsuccessful generals open to his accusations, it would also throw up successful generals, who would certainly outshine him and would probably put him down. In the life which Plutarch has given us of Phocion, a plain and straightforward military man, we read that one of the frequent and criminative speakers of Athens (of character analogous to that which is ascribed to Cleon) expressed his surprise on hearing Phocion dissuade the Athenians from embarking in a new war: “Yes (said Phocion), I think it right to dissuade them: though I know well, that if there be war, I shall have command over you—if there be peace, you will have command over me”. This is surely a more rational estimate of the way in which war affects the comparative importance of the orator and the military officer, than that which Thucydides pronounces in reference to the interests of Cleon. Moreover, when we come to follow the political history of Syracuse, we shall find the demagogue Athenagoras ultra-pacific, and the aristocrat Hermokrates far more warlike. The former is afraid, not without reason, that war will raise into consequence energetic military leaders dangerous to the popular constitution. We may add, that Cleon himself had not been always warlike. He commenced his political career as an opponent of Pericles, when the latter was strenuously maintaining the necessity and prudence of beginning the Peloponnesian war. But further—if we should even grant that Cleon had a separate party-interest in promoting the war—it will still remain to be considered, whether at this particular crisis, the employment of energetic warlike measures in Thrace was not really the sound and prudent policy for Athens. Taking Perikles as the best judge of policy, we shall find him at the outset of the war inculcating emphatically two important points—

1. To stand vigorously upon the defensive, maintaining unimpaired their maritime empire, “keeping their subject-allies well in hand,” submitting patiently even to see Attica ravaged;

2. To abstain from trying to enlarge their empire or to make new conquests during the war.

Consistently with this well-defined plan of action, Perikles, had he lived, would have taken care to interfere vigorously and betimes to prevent Brasidas from making his conquests. Had such interference been either impossible or accidentally frustrated, he would have thought no efforts too great to recover them. To maintain undiminished the integrity of the empire, as well as that impression of Athenian force upon which the empire rested, was his cardinal principle. Now it is impossible to deny that in reference to Thrace, Cleon adhered more closely than his rival Nikias to the policy of Pericles. It was to Nicias, more than to Cleon, that the fatal mistake made by Athens in not interfering speedily after Brasidas first broke into Thrace is to be imputed. It was Nicias and his partisans, desirous of peace at almost any price, and knowing that the Lacedaemonians also desired it—who encouraged the Athenians, at a moment of great public depression of spirit, to leave Brasidas unopposed in Thrace, and rely on the chance of negotiation with Sparta for arresting his progress. The peace-party at Athens carried their point of the truce for a year, with the promise, and for the express purpose, of checking the further conquests of Brasidas; also with the further promise of maturing that truce into a permanent peace, and obtaining under the peace even the restoration of Amphipolis.

Such was the policy of Nicias and his party, the friends of peace, and opponents of Cleon. And the promises which they thus held out might perhaps appear plausible in March 423, at the moment when the truce for one year was concluded. But subsequent events had frustrated them in the most glaring manner, and had even shown the best reason for believing that no such expectations could possibly be realized, while Brasidas was in unbroken and unopposed action. For the Lacedaemonians, though seemingly sincere in concluding the truce on the basis of uti possidetis, and desiring to extend it to Thrace as well as elsewhere, had been unable to enforce the observance of it upon Brasidas, or to restrain him even from making new acquisitions—so that Athens never obtained the benefit of the truce exactly in that region where she most stood in need of it. Only by the dispatch of her armament to Skione and Mende had she maintained herself in possession even of Pallene.

Now what was the lesson to be derived from this experience, when the Athenians came to discuss their future policy, after the truce was at an end? The great object of all parties at Athens was to recover the lost possessions in Thrace—especially Amphipolis. Nikias, still urging negotiations for peace, continued to hold out hopes that the Lacedaemonians would be willing to restore that place, as the price of their captives now at Athens. His connection with Sparta would enable him to announce her professions even upon authority. But to this Cleon might make, and doubtless did make, a complete reply, grounded upon the most recent experience:—“If the Lacedaemonians consent to the restitution of Amphipolis (he would say), it will probably be only with the view of finding some means to escape performance, and yet to get back their prisoners. But granting that they are perfectly sincere, they will never be able to control Brasidas, and those parties in Thrace who are bound up with him by community of feeling and interest; so that after all, you will give them back their prisoners, on the faith of an equivalent beyond their power to realize. Look at what has happened during the truce! So different are the views and obligations of Brasidas in Thrace from those of the Lacedaemonians, that he would not even obey their order when they directed him to stand as he was, and to desist from further conquest. Much less will he obey them when they direct him to surrender what he has already got: least of all, if they enjoin the surrender of Amphipolis, his grand acquisition and his central point for all future effort. Depend upon it, if you desire to regain Amphipolis, you will only regain it by energetic employment of force, as has happened with Skione and Mende. And you ought to put forth your strength for this purpose immediately, while the Lacedaemonian prisoners are yet in your hands, instead of waiting until after you shall have been deluded into giving them up, thereby losing all your hold upon Lacedaemon.”

Such anticipations were fully verified by the result: for subsequent history will show that the Lacedaemonians when they had bound themselves by treaty to give up Amphipolis, either would not, or could not, enforce performance of their stipulation, even after the death of Brasidas. Much less could they have done so during his life, when there was his great personal influence, strenuous will, and hopes of future conquest, to serve as increased obstruction to them. Such anticipations were also plainly suggested by the recent past: so that in putting them into the mouth of Cleon, we are only supposing him to read the lesson open before his eyes.

Now since the war-policy of Kleon, taken at this moment after the expiration of the One year’s truce, may be thus shown to be not only more conformable to the genius of Perikles, but also founded on a juster estimate of events both past and future, than the peace-policy of Nicias, what are we to say to the historian, who, without refuting such presumptions, every one of which is deduced from his own narrative—nay, without even indicating their existence—merely tells us that “Cleon opposed the peace in order that he might cloak dishonest intrigues and find matter for plausible crimination”? We cannot but say of this criticism, with profound regret that such words must be pronounced respecting any judgment of Thucydides, that it is harsh and unfair toward Kleon, and careless in regard to truth and the instruction of his readers. It breathes not that same spirit of honourable impartiality which pervades his general history. It is an interpolation by the officer whose improvidence had occasioned to his countrymen the fatal loss of Amphipolis, retaliating upon the citizen who justly accused him. It is conceived in the same tone as his unaccountable judgment in the matter of Sphacteria.

Rejecting on this occasion the judgment of Thucydides, we may confidently affirm that Cleon had rational public grounds for urging his countrymen to undertake with energy the reconquest of Amphipolis. Demagogue and leather-seller though he was, he stands here honourably distinguished, as well from the tameness and inaction of Nicias, who grasped at peace with hasty credulity, through sickness of the efforts of war, as from the restless movement, and novelties, not merely unprofitable, but ruinous, which we shall presently find springing up under the auspices of Alkibiades. Perikles had said to his countrymen, at a time when they were enduring all the miseries of pestilence, and were in a state of despondency even greater than that which prevailed in BC 422—“You hold your empire and your proud position by the condition of being willing to encounter cost, fatigue, and danger: abstain from all views of enlarging the empire, but think no effort too great to maintain it unimpaired.—To lose what we have once got is more disgraceful than to fail in attempts at acquisition.” The very same language was probably held by Cleon when exhorting his countrymen to an expedition for the reconquest of Amphipolis. But when uttered by him, it would have a very different effect from that which it had formerly produced when held by Perikles—and different also from that which it would now have produced if held by Nikias. The entire peace-party would repudiate it when it came from Cleon—partly out of dislike to the speaker, partly from conviction, doubtless felt by every one, that an expedition against Brasidas would be a hazardous and painful service to all concerned in it, general as well as soldiers—partly also from a persuasion, sincerely entertained at the time though afterward proved to be illusory by the result, that Amphipolis might really be got back through peace with the Lacedaemonians.

If Cleon, in proposing the expedition, originally proposed himself as the commander, a new ground of objection, and a very forcible ground, would thus be furnished. Since everything which Kleon does is understood to be a manifestation of some vicious or silly attribute, we are told that this was an instance of his absurd presumption, arising out of the success of Pylus, and persuading him that he was the only general who could put down Brasidas. But if the success at Pylus had really filled him with such overweening military conceit, it is most unaccountable that he should not have procured for himself some command during the year which immediately succeeded the affair at Sphacteria—the eighth year of the war: a season of most active warlike enterprise, when his presumption and influence arising out of the Sphacterian victory must have been fresh and glowing. As he obtained no command during this immediately succeeding period, we may fairly doubt whether he ever really conceived such excessive personal presumption of his own talents for war, and whether he did not retain after the affair of Sphacteria the same character which he had manifested in that affair, reluctance to engage in military expeditions himself, and a disposition to see them commanded as well as carried on by others. It is by no means certain that Cleon, in proposing the expedition against Amphipolis, originally proposed to take the command of it himself: I think it at least equally probable that his original wish was to induce Nicias or the Strategi to take the command of it, as in the case of Sphacteria. Nicias doubtless opposed the expedition as much as he could. When it was determined by the people, in spite of his opposition, he would peremptorily decline the command for himself, and would do all he could to force it upon Cleon, or at least would be better pleased to see it under his command than under that of any one else. He would be not less glad to exonerate himself from a dangerous service, than to see his rival entangled in it. And he would have before him the same alternative which he and his friends had contemplated with so much satisfaction in the affair of Sphacteria; either the expedition would succeed, in which case Amphipolis would be taken—or it would fail, and the consequence would be the ruin of Cleon. The last of the two was really the more probable at Amphipolis—as Nikias had erroneously imagined it to be at Sphacteria.

It is easy to see, however, that an expedition proposed under these circumstances by Cleon, though it might command a majority in the public assembly, would have a large proportion of the citizens unfavourable to it, and even wishing that it might fail. Moreover, Kleon had neither talents nor experience for commanding an army; so that the being engaged under his command in fighting against the ablest officer of the time, could inspire no confidence to any man in putting on his armour. From all these circumstances united, political as well as military, we are not surprised to hear that the hoplites whom he took out with him went with much reluctance. An ignorant general with unwilling soldiers, many of them politically disliking him, stood little chance of wresting Amphipolis from Brasidas. But had Nicias or the Strategi done their duty and carried the entire force of the city under competent command to the same object, the issue would probably have been different as to gain and loss—certainly very different as to dishonour.

Cleon started from Peiraeus, apparently toward the beginning of August, with 1200 Athenian, Lemnian, and Imbrian hoplites, and 300 horsemen—troops of excellent quality and condition; besides an auxiliary force of allies (number not exactly known) and thirty triremes. This armament was not of magnitude at all equal to the taking of Amphipolis; for Brasidas had equal numbers, besides all the advantages of the position. But it was a part of the scheme of Cleon, on arriving at Eion, to procure Macedonian and Thracian re-enforcements before he commenced his attack. He first halted in his voyage near Skione, from which place he took away such of the hoplites as could be spared from the blockade. He next sailed across the Gulf from Pallene to the Sithonian peninsula, to a place called the Harbor of the Kolophonians near Torone. Having here learnt that neither Brasidas himself nor any considerable Peloponnesian garrison were present in Torone, he landed his forces, and marched to attack the town—sending ten triremes at the same time round a promontory which separated the harbour of the Kolophonians from Torone to assail the latter place from seaward.

It happened that Brasidas, desiring to enlarge the fortified circle of Torone, had broken down a portion of the old wall and employed the materials in building a new and larger wall inclosing the proasteion or suburb. This new wall appears to have been still incomplete and in an imperfect state of defense. Pasitelidas, the Peloponnesian commander, resisted the attack of the Athenians as long as he could; but when already beginning to give way, he saw the ten Athenian triremes sailing into the harbour, which was hardly guarded at all. Abandoning the defence of the suburb, he hastened to repel these new assailants, but came too late, so that the town was entered from both sides at once. Brasidas, who was not far off, rendered aid with the utmost celerity, but was yet at five miles’ distance from the city, when he learnt the capture and was obliged to retire unsuccessfully. Pasitelidas, the commander, with the Peloponnesian garrison and the Toronaean male population, were dispatched as prisoners to Athens; while the Toronaean women and children, by a fate but too common in those days, were sold as slaves.

After this not unimportant success, Cleon sailed round the promontory of Athos to Eion at the mouth of the Strymon, within three miles of Amphipolis. From hence, in execution of his original scheme, he sent envoys to Perdikkas, urging him to lend effective aid as the ally of Athens in the attack of Amphipolis with his whole forces; and to Polles, the king of the Thracian Odomantes, inviting him also to come with as many Thracian mercenaries as could be levied. The Edonians, the Thracian tribe nearest to Amphipolis, took part with Brasidas. The local influence of the banished Thucydides would no longer be at the service of Athens—much less at the service of Kleon. Awaiting the expected re-enforcements, Kleon employed himself, first in an attack upon Stageirus in the Strymonic Gulf, which was repulsed; next upon Galepsus, on the coast opposite the island of Thasos, which was successful. But the re-enforcements did not at once arrive, and being too weak to attack Amphipolis without them, he was obliged to remain inactive at Eion; while Brasidas on his side made no movement out of Amphipolis, but contented himself with keeping constant watch over the forces of Kleon, the view of which he commanded from his station on the hill of Kerdylion, on the western bank of the river, communicating with Amphipolis by the bridge. Some days elapsed in such inaction on both sides. But the Athenian hoplites, becoming impatient of doing nothing, soon began to give vent to those feelings of dislike which they had brought out from Athens against their general, “whose ignorance and cowardice (says the historian) they contrasted with the skill and bravery of his opponent.” Athenian hoplites, if they felt such a sentiment, were not likely to refrain from manifesting it. And Cleon was presently made aware of the fact in a manner sufficiently painful to force him against his will into some movement; which, however, he did not intend to be anything else than a march for the purpose of surveying the ground all round the city, and a demonstration to escape the appearance of doing nothing—being aware that it was impossible to attack the place with any effect before his re-enforcements arrived.

To comprehend the important incidents which followed, it is necessary to say a few words on the topography of Amphipolis, as far as we can understand it on the imperfect evidence before us. That city was placed on the left bank of the Strymon, on a conspicuous hill around which the river makes a bend, first in a south-westerly direction, then, after a short course to the southward, back in a south-easterly direction. Amphipolis had for its only artificial fortification one long wall, which began near the point north-east of the town where the river narrows again into a channel, after passing through the lake Kerkinitis—ascended along the eastern side of the hill, crossing the ridge which connects it with Mount Pangaeus—and then descended so as to touch the river again at another point south of the town—thus being, as it were, a string to the highly-bent bow formed by the river. On three sides, north, west, and south, the city was defended only by the Strymon. It was thus visible without any intervening wall to spectators from the side of the sea (south), as well as from the side of the continent (or west and north). At some little distance below the point where the wall touched the river south of the city, was the bridge, a communication of great importance for the whole country, which connected the territory of Amphipolis with that of Argilus. On the western or right bank of the river, bordering it and forming an outer bend corresponding to the bend of the river, was situated Mount Kerdylium. In fact the course of the Strymon is here determined by these two steep eminences, Kerdylium on the west and the hill of Amphipolis on the east, between which it flows. At the time when Brasidas first took the place, the bridge was totally unconnected with the long city wall. But during the intervening eighteen months he had erected a palisade work (probably an earthen bank topped with a palisade) connecting the two. By means of this palisade the bridge was thus at the time of Kleon’s expedition comprehended within the fortifications of the city; so that Brasidas, while keeping watch on Mount Kerdylium, could pass over whenever he chose into the city without impediment.

In the march which Cleon now undertook, he went up to the top of the ridge (which runs nearly in an easterly direction from Amphipolis to Mount Pangaeus) in order to survey the city and its adjoining ground on the northern and north-eastern side, which he had not yet seen; that is, the side toward the lake, and toward Thrace which was not visible from the lower ground near Eion. The road which he was to take from Eion lay at a small distance eastward of the city long wall, and from the palisade which connected that wall with the bridge. But he had no expectation of being attacked in his march—the rather as Brasidas with the larger portion of his force was visible on Mount Kerdylium. Moreover the gates of Amphipolis were all shut—not a man was on the wall—nor were many symptoms of movement to be detected. As there was no evidence before him of intention to attack, he took no precautions, and marched in careless and disorderly array. Having reached the top of the ridge, and posted his army on the strong eminence fronting the highest portion of the Long Wall, he surveyed at leisure the lake before him, and the side of the city which lay toward Thrace—or toward Myrkinus, Drabeskus, etc—thus viewing all the descending portion of the Long Wall northward toward the Strymon. The perfect quiescence of the city imposed upon and even astonished him. It seemed altogether undefended, and he almost fancied that if he had brought battering engines, he could have taken it forthwith. Impressed with the belief that there was no enemy prepared to fight, he took his time to survey the ground; while his soldiers became more and more relaxed and careless in their trim—some even advancing close up to the walls and gates.

But this state of affairs was soon materially changed. Brasidas, knowing that the Athenian hoplites would not long endure the tedium of absolute inaction, calculated that by affecting extreme backwardness and apparent fear, he should seduce Kleon into some incautious movement, of which advantage might be taken. His station on Mount Kerdylium enabled him to watch the march of the Athenian army from Eion, and when he saw them pass up along the road outside of the long wall of Amphipolis, he immediately crossed the river with his forces and entered the town. But it was not his intention to march out and offer them open battle. For his army, though equal in number to theirs, was extremely inferior in arms and equipment; in which points the Athenian force now present was so admirably provided, that his own men would not think themselves a match for it, if the two armies faced each other in open field. He relied altogether 011 the effect of sudden sally and well-timed surprise, when the Athenians should have been thrown into a feeling of contemptuous security by an exaggerated show of impotence in their enemy.

Having offered the battle sacrifice at the temple of Athene, Brasidas called his men together to address to them the usual encouragements prior to an engagement. After appealing to the Dorian pride of his Peloponnesians, accustomed to triumph over Ionians, he explained to them his design of retying upon a bold and sudden movement with comparatively small numbers, against the Athenian army when not prepared for it—when their courage was not wound up to battle pitch—and when, after carelessly mounting the hill to survey the ground, they were thinking only of quietly returning to quarters. He himself at the proper moment would rush out from one gate, and be foremost in conflict with the enemy. Klearidas, with that bravery which became him as a Spartan, would follow the example by sallying out from another gate; and the enemy, taken thus unawares, would probably make little resistance. For the Amphipolitans, this day and their own behaviour would determine whether they were to be allies of Lacedaemon, or slaves of Athens—perhaps sold into captivity, or even put to death, as a punishment for their recent revolt.

These preparations, however, could not be completed in secrecy. Brasidas and his army were perfectly visible while descending the hill of Kerdylium, crossing the bridge and entering Amphipolis, to the Athenian scouts without. Moreover, so conspicuous was the interior of the city to spectators without, that the temple of Athene, and Brasidas with its ministers around him performing the ceremony of sacrifice, was distinctly recognized. The fact was made known to Cleon as he stood on the high ridge taking his survey, while at the same time those who had gone near to the gates reported that the feet of many horses and men were beginning to be seen under them, as if preparing for a sally. He himself went close to the gate, and satisfied himself of the circumstance: we must recollect that there was no defender on the walls, nor any danger from missiles. Anxious to avoid coming to any real engagement before his re-enforcements should arrive, he at once gave orders for retreat, which he thought might be accomplished before the attack from within could be fully organized. For he imagined that a considerable number of troops would be marched out, and ranged in battle order, before the attack was actually begun—not dreaming that the sally would be instantaneous, made with a mere handful of men. Orders having been proclaimed to wheel to the left, and retreat in column on the left flank toward Eion. Cleon, who was himself on the top of the hill with the right wing, waited only to see his left and center actually in march on the road to Eion, and then directed his right also to wheel to the left and follow them.

The whole Athenian army were thus in full retreat, marching in a direction nearly parallel to the Long Wall of Amphipolis, with their right or unshielded side exposed to the enemy—when Brasidas, looking over the southernmost gates of the Long Wall with his small detachment ready marshalled near him, burst out into contemptuous exclamations on the disorder of their array. “These men will not stand us: I see it by the quivering of their spears and of their heads. Men who reel about in that way never stand an assailing enemy. Open the gates for me instantly, and let us sally out with confidence.”

With that, both the gate of the Long Wall nearest to the palisade, and the adjoining gate of the palisade itself, were suddenly thrown open, and Brasidas with his 150 chosen soldiers issued through them to attack the retreating Athenians. Running rapidly down the straight road which joined laterally the road toward Eion along which the Athenians were marching, he charged their central division on the right flank. Their left wing had already got beyond him on the road toward Eion. Taken completely unprepared, conscious of their own disorderly array, and astounded at the boldness of their enemy—the Athenians of the center were seized with panic, made not the least resistance, and presently fled. Even the Athenian left, though not attacked at all, instead of halting to lend assistance, shared the panic and fled in disorder. Having thus disorganized this part of the army, Brasidas passed along the line to press his attack on the Athenian right: but in this movement he was mortally wounded and carried off the field unobserved by his enemies. Meanwhile Klearidas, sallying forth from the Thracian gate, had attacked the Athenian right on the ridge opposite to him, immediately after it began its retreat. But the soldiers on the Athenian right had probably seen the previous movement of Brasidas against the other division, and though astonished at the sudden danger, had thus a moment’s warning, before they were themselves assailed, to halt and form on the hill. Klearidas here found a considerable resistance, in spite of the desertion of Cleon; who, more astounded than any man in his army by a catastrophe so unlooked for, lost his presence of mind and fled at once; but was overtaken by a Thracian peltast from Myrkinus, and slain. His soldiers on the right wing, however, repelled two or three attacks in front from Klearidas, and maintained their ground, until at length the Chalcidian cavalry and the peltasts from Myrkinus, having come forth out of the gates, assailed them with missiles in flank and rear so as to throw them into disorder. The whole Athenian army was thus put to flight; the left hurrying to Eion, the men of the right dispersing and seeking safety among the hilly grounds of Pangaeus in their rear. Their sufferings and loss in the retreat, from the hands of the pursuing peltasts and cavalry, were most severe. When they at last again mustered at Eion, not only the commander Cleon, but 600 Athenian hoplites, half of the force sent out, were found missing.

So admirably had the attack been concerted, and so entire was its success, that only seven men perished on the side of the victors. But of those seven, one was the gallant Brasidas himself, who being carried into Amphipolis, lived just long enough to learn the complete victory of his troops and then expired. Great and bitter was the sorrow which his death occasioned throughout Thrace, especially among the Amphipolitans. He received, by special decree, the distinguished honour of interment within their city—the universal habit being to inter even the most eminent deceased persons in a suburb without the walls. All the allies attended his funeral, in arms and with military honours. His tomb was encircled by a railing, and the space immediately fronting it was consecrated as the great agora of the city, which was remodelled accordingly. He was also proclaimed Oekist or Founder of Amphipolis, and as such, received heroic worship with annual games and sacrifices to his honour. The Athenian Agnon, the real founder and originally recognized Oekist of the city, was stripped of all his commemorative honours and expunged from the remembrance of the people; the buildings, which served as visible memento of his name, being destroyed. Full of hatred as the Amphipolitans now were toward Athens—and not merely of hatred, but of fear, since the loss which they had just sustained of their saviour and protector—they felt repugnance to the idea of rendering farther worship to an Athenian Oekist. It was inconvenient to keep up such a religious link with Athens, now that they were forced to look anxiously to Lacedaemon for assistance. Klearidas, as governor of Amphipolis, superintended those numerous alterations in the city which this important change required, together with the erection of the trophy, just at the spot where Brasidas had first charged the Athenians; while the remaining armament of Athens, having obtained the usual truce and buried their dead, returned home without farther operations.

There are few battles recorded in history wherein the disparity and contrast of the two generals opposed has been so manifest—consummate skill and courage on the one side against ignorance and panic on the other. On the singular ability and courage of Brasidas there can be but one verdict of unqualified admiration. But the criticism passed by Thucydides on Kleon, here as elsewhere, cannot be adopted without reserves. He tells us that Kleon undertook his march, from Eion up to the hill in front of Amphipolis, in the same rash and confident spirit with which he had embarked on the enterprise against Pylus—in the blind confidence that no one would resist him. Now I have already, in a former chapter, shown grounds for concluding that the anticipations of Kleon respecting the capture of Sphacteria, far from being marked by any spirit of unmeasured presumption, were sober and judicious—realized to the letter without any unlooked-for aid from fortune. The remarks here made by Thucydides on that affair are not more reasonable than the judgment on it in his former chapter; for it is not true (as he here implies) that Cleon expected no resistance, in Sphacteria—he calculated on resistance, but knew that he had force sufficient to overcome it. His fault even at Amphipolis, great as that fault was, did not consist in rashness and presumption. This charge at least is rebutted by the circumstance, that he himself wished to make no aggressive movement until his re-enforcements should arrive—and that he was only constrained, against his own will, to abandon his intended temporary inactivity during that interval, by the angry murmurs of his soldiers, who reproached him with ignorance and backwardness—the latter quality being the reverse of that with which he is branded by Thucydides.

When Cleon was thus driven to do something, his march up to the top of the hill, for the purpose of reconnoitring the ground, was not in itself ill-judged. It might have been accomplished in perfect safety if he had kept his army in orderly array, prepared for contingencies. But he suffered himself to be out-generaled and over­reached by that simulated consciousness of impotence and unwillingness to fight which Brasidas took care to present to him. Among all military stratagems, this has perhaps been the most frequently practiced with success against inexperienced generals; who are thrown off their guard and induced to neglect precaution, not because they are naturally more rash or presumptuous than ordinary men, but because nothing except either a high order of intellect, or special practice and training, will enable a man to keep steadily present to his mind liabilities even real and serious, when there is no discernible evidence to suggest their approach—much more when there is positive evidence, artfully laid out by a superior enemy, to create belief in their absence. A fault substantially the same had been committed by Thucydides himself and his colleague Eucles a year and a half before, when they suffered Brasidas to surprise the Strymonian bridge and Amphipolis; not even taking common precautions, nor thinking it necessary to keep the fleet at Eion. They were not men peculiarly rash and presumptuous, but ignorant and unpracticed, in a military sense; incapable of keeping before them dangerous contingencies which they perfectly knew, simply because there was no present evidence of approaching explosion.

This military incompetence, which made Cleon fall into the trap laid for him by Brasidas, also made him take wrong measures against the danger, when he unexpectedly discovered at last that the enemy within were preparing to attack him. His fatal error consisted in giving instant order for retreat, under the vain hope that he could get away before the enemy’s attack could be brought to bear. An abler officer, before he commenced the retreating march so close to the hostile walls, would have taken care to marshal his men in proper array, to warn and address them with the usual harangue, and to wind up their courage to the fighting-point. Up to that moment they had no idea of being called upon to fight; and the courage of Grecian hoplites—taken thus unawares while hurrying to get away in disorder visible both to themselves and their enemies, without any of the usual preliminaries of battle—was but too apt to prove deficient. To turn the right or unshielded flank to the enemy was unavoidable, from the direction of the retreating movement; nor is it reasonable to blame Cleon for this, as some historians have done—or for causing his right wing to move too soon in following the lead of the left, as Dr. Arnold seems to think. The grand fault seems to have consisted in not waiting to marshal his men and prepare them for standing fight during their retreat. Let us add, however—and the remark, if it serves to explain Cleon’s idea of being able to get away before he was actually assailed, counts as a double compliment to the judgment as well as boldness of Brasidas—that no other Lacedaemonian general of that day (perhaps not even Demosthenes, the most enterprising general of Athens) would have ventured upon an attack with so very small a band, relying altogether upon the panic produced by his sudden movement.

But the absence of military knowledge and precaution is not the worst of Cleon’s faults on this occasion. His want of courage at the moment of conflict is yet more lamentable, and divests his end of that personal sympathy which would otherwise have accompanied it. A commander who has been out-generaled is under a double force of obligation to exert and expose himself to the uttermost, in order to retrieve the consequences of his own mistakes. He will thus at least preserve his own personal honour, whatever censure he may deserve on the score of deficient knowledge and judgment.

What is said about the disgraceful flight of Kleon himself must be applied, with hardly less severity of criticism, to the Athenian hoplites under him. They behaved in a manner altogether unworthy of the reputation of their city; especially the left wing, which seems to have broken and run away without waiting to be attacked. And when we read in Thucydides that the men who thus disgraced themselves were among the best and the best-armed hoplites in Athens—that they came out unwillingly under Cleon—that they began their scornful murmurs against him before he had committed any error, despising him for backwardness when he was yet not strong enough to attempt anything serious, and was only manifesting a reasonable prudence in awaiting the arrival of expected re-enforcements—when we read this, we shall be led to compare the expedition against Amphipolis with former artifices respecting the attack of Sphacteria, and to discern other causes for its failure besides the military incompetence of the commander. These hoplites brought out with them from Athens the feelings prevalent among the political adversaries of Cleon. The expedition was proposed and carried by him, contrary to the wishes of these adversaries. They could not prevent it, but their opposition enfeebled it from the beginning, kept within too narrow limits the force assigned, and was one main reason which frustrated its success. Had Pericles been alive, Amphipolis might perhaps still have been lost, since its capture was the fault of the officers employed to defend it. But if lost, it would probably have been attacked and recovered with the same energy as the revolted Samos had been; with the full force, and the best generals, that Athens could furnish. With such an armament under good officers, there was nothing at all impracticable in the reconquest of the place; especially as at that time it had no defense on three sides except the Strymon, and might thus be approached by Athenian ships on that navigable river. The armament of Cleon, even if his re-enforcements had arrived, was hardly sufficient for the purpose. But Perikles would have been able to concentrate upon it the whole strength of the city, without being paralyzed by the contentions of political party. He would have seen as clearly as Kleon that the place could only be recovered by force, and that its recovery was the most important object to which Athens could devote her energies.

It was thus that the Athenians, partly from political intrigue, partly from the incompetence of Cleon, underwent a disastrous defeat instead of carrying Amphipolis. But the death of Brasidas converted their defeat into a substantial victory. There remained no Spartan, like or second to that eminent man, either as a soldier or a conciliating politician; none who could replace him in the confidence and affection of the allies of Athens in Thrace; none who could prosecute those enterprising plans against Athens on her unshielded side, which he had first shown to be practicable. With him the fears of Athens, and the hopes of Sparta, in respect to the future, alike disappeared. The Athenian generals Phormio and Demosthenes had both of them acquired among the Acarnanians an influence personal to themselves, apart from their post and from their country. But the career of Brasidas exhibited an extent of personal ascendency and admiration, obtained as well as deserved, such as had never before been paralleled by any military chieftain in Greece: and Plato might well select him as the most suitable historical counterpart to the heroic Achilles. All the achievements of Brasidas were his own individually, with nothing more than bare encouragement, sometimes even without encouragement, from his country. And when we recollect the strict and narrow routine in which as a Spartan he had been educated, so fatal to the development of everything like original thought or impulse, and so completely estranged from all experience of party or political discussion—we are amazed at his resource and flexibility of character, his power of adapting himself to new circumstances and new persons, and his felicitous dexterity in making himself the rallying-point of opposite political parties in each of the various cities which he acquired. The combination “of every sort of practical excellence”—valour, intelligence, probity, and gentleness of dealing—which his character presented, was never forgotten among the subject-allies of Athens; and procured for other Spartan officers in subsequent years favourable presumptions, which their conduct was seldom found to realize. At the time when Brasidas perished, in the flower of his age, he was unquestionably the first man in Greece. And though it is not given to us to predict what he would have become had he lived, we maybe sure that the future course of the war would have been sensibly modified, perhaps even to the advantage of Athens, since she might have had sufficient, occupation at home to keep her from undertaking her disastrous enterprise in Sicily.

Thucydides seems to take pleasure in setting forth the gallant exploits of Brasidas, from the first at Methone to the last at Amphipolis—not less than the dark side of Cleon; both, though in different senses, the causes of his banishment. He never mentions the latter except in connection with some proceeding represented as unwise or discreditable. The barbarities which the offended majesty of empire thought itself entitled to practice in ancient times against dependencies revolted and reconquered, reached their maximum in the propositions against Mitylene and Skione: both of them are ascribed to Cleon by name as their author. But when we come to the slaughter of the Melians—equally barbarous, and worse in respect to grounds of excuse, inasmuch as the Melians had never been subjects of Athens—we find Thucydides mentioning the deed without naming the proposers.

Respecting the foreign policy of Cleon, the facts already narrated will enable the reader to form an idea of it as compared with that of his opponents. I have shown grounds for believing that Thucydides has forgotten his usual impartiality in criticising this personal enemy; that in regard to Sphacteria, Cleon was really one main and indispensable cause of procuring for his country the greatest advantage which she obtained throughout the whole war; and that in regard to his judgment, as advocating the prosecution of war, three different times must be distinguished—1. After the first blockade of the hoplites in Sphacteria—2. After the capture of the island—3. After the expiration of the One-year truce. On the earliest of those three occasions, he was wrong, for he seems to have shut the door on all possibilities of negotiation, by his manner of dealing with the Lacedaemonian envoys. On the second occasion, he had fair and plausible grounds to offer on behalf of his opinion, though it turned out unfortunate: moreover, at that time, all Athens was warlike, and Kleon is not to be treated as the peculiar adviser of that policy. On the third and last occasion, after the expiration of the truce, the political counsel of Cleon was right, judicious, and truly Periclean—much surpassing in wisdom that of his opponents. We shall see in the coming chapters how those opponents managed the affairs of the state after his death—how Nicias threw away the interests of Athens in the enforcement of the conditions of peace—how Nicias and Alcibiades together shipwrecked the power of their country on the shores of Syracuse. And when we judge the demagogue Cleon in this comparison, we shall find ground for remarking that Thucydides is reserved and even indulgent toward the errors and vices of other statesmen—harsh only toward those of his accuser.

As to the internal policy of Cleon, and his conduct as a politician in Athenian constitutional life, we have but little trustworthy evidence. There exists, indeed, a portrait of him drawn in colours broad and glaring—most impressive to the imagination, and hardly effaceable from the memory; the portrait in the “Knights” of Aristophanes. It is through this representation that Cleon has been transmitted to posterity, crucified by a poet who admits himself to have a personal grudge against him, just as he has been commemorated in the prose of an historian whose banishment he had proposed. Of all the productions of Aristophanes, so replete with comic genius throughout, the “Knights” is the most consummate and irresistible—the most distinct in its character, symmetry, and purpose. Looked at with a view to the object of its author, both in reference to the audience and to Cleon, it deserves the greatest possible admiration, and we are not surprised to learn that it obtained the first prize. It displays the maximum of that which wit combined with malice can achieve, in covering an enemy with ridicule, contempt, and odium. Dean Swift could have desired nothing worse, even for Ditton and Whiston. The old man Demos of Pnyx, introduced on the stage as personifying the Athenian people—Kleon, brought on as his newly-bought Paphlagonian slave, who by coaxing, lying, impudent and false denunciation of others, has gained his master’s ear, and heaps ill-usage upon every one else, while he enriches himself—the Knights or chief members of what we may call the Athenian aristocracy, forming the chorus of the piece as Cleon’s pronounced enemies—the sausage-seller from the market-place, who instigated by Nicias and Demosthenes along with these Knights, overdoes Cleon in all his own low arts, and supplants him in the favor of Demos—all this, exhibited with inimitable vivacity of expression, forms the masterpiece and glory of libelous comedy. The effect produced upon the Athenian audience when this piece was represented at the Lenaean festival (January, 424, about six months after the capture of Sphacteria), with Kleon himself and most of the real Knights present, must have been intense beyond what we can now easily imagine. That Cleon could maintain himself after this humiliating exposure, is no small proof of his mental vigour and ability. It does not seem to have impaired his influence—at least not permanently. For not only do we see him the most effective opponent of peace during the next two years, but there is ground for believing that the poet himself found it convenient to soften his tone toward this powerful enemy.

So ready are most writers to find Cleon guilty, that they are satisfied with Aristophanes as a witness against him; though no other public man, of any age or nation, has ever been condemned upon such evidence. No man thinks of judging Sir Robert Walpole, or Mr. Fox, or Mirabeau, from the numerous lampoons put in circulation against them. No man will take measure of a political Englishman from Punch, or of a Frenchman from the Charivari. The unrivalled comic merit of the “Knights” of Aristophanes is only one reason the more for distrusting the resemblance of its picture to the real Kleon.

We have means too of testing the Candor and accuracy of Aristophanes by his delineation of Socrates, whom he introduced in the comedy of “Clouds” in the year after that of the “Knights.” As a comedy, the “Clouds” stands second only to the “Knights:” as a picture of Sokrates, it is little better than pure fancy: it is not even a caricature, but a totally different person. We may, indeed, perceive single features of resemblance; the bare feet, and the argumentative subtlety, belong to both: but the entire portrait is such, that if it bore a different name, no one would think of comparing it with Sokrates, whom we know well from other sources. With such an analogy before us, not to mention what we know generally of the portraits of Pericles by these authors, we are not warranted in treating the portrait of Cleon as a likeness, except on points where there is corroborative evidence. And we may add, that some of the hits against him, where we can accidentally test their pertinence, are decidedly not founded in fact—as, for example, where the poet accuses Cleon of having deliberately and cunningly robbed Demosthenes of his laurels in the enterprise against Sphacteria.

In the prose of Thucydides, we find Cleon described as a dishonest politician—a wrongful accuser of others—the most violent of all the citizens. Throughout the verse of Aristophanes, these same charges are set forth with his characteristic emphasis, but others are also superadded—Cleon practices the basest artifices and deceptions to gain favor with the people, steals the public money, receives bribes, and extorts compositions from private persons by wholesale, and thus enriches himself under pretense of zeal for the public treasury. In the comedy of the “Acharnians,” represented one year earlier than the “Knights,” the poet alludes with great delight to a sum of five talents, which Cleon had been compelled “to disgorge”, a present tendered to him by the insular subjects of Athens (if we may believe Theopompus) for the purpose of procuring a remission of their tribute, and which the Knights, whose evasions of military service he had exposed, compelled him to relinquish.

But when we put together the different heads of indictment accumulated by Aristophanes, it will be found that they are not easily reconcilable one with the other. For an Athenian, whose temper led him to violent crimination of others, at the inevitable price of multiplying and exasperating personal enemies, would find it peculiarly dangerous, if not impossible, to carry on peculation for his own account. If, on the other hand, he took the latter turn, he would be inclined to purchase connivance from others even by winking at real guilt on their part, far from making himself conspicuous as a calumniator of innocence. We must therefore discuss the side of the indictment which is indicated in Thucydides; not Kleon as truckling to the people and cheating for his own pecuniary profit (which is certainly not the character implied in his speech about the Mitylenians as given to us by the historian), but Kleon as a man of violent temper and fierce political antipathies—a bitter speaker—and sometimes dishonest in his calumnies against adversaries. These are the qualities which, in all countries of free debate, go to form what is called a great opposition speaker. It was thus that the elder Cato—the universal biter, whom Persephone was afraid even to admit into Hades after his death”—was characterized at Rome, even by the admission of his admirers to some extent, and in a still stronger manner by those who were unfriendly to him, as Thucydides was to Cleon. In Cato such a temper was not inconsistent with a high sense of public duty. And Plutarch recounts an anecdote respecting Cleon, that on first beginning his political career, he called his friends together, and dissolved his intimacy with them, conceiving that private friendships would distract him from his paramount duty to the commonwealth.

Moreover, the reputation of Cleon, as a frequent and unmeasured accuser of others, may be explained partly by a passage of his enemy Aristophanes: a passage the more deserving of confidence as a just representation of fact, since it appears in a comedy (the “Frogs”) represented (405 B.C.) fifteen years after the death of Kleon, and five years after that of Hyperbolus, when the poet had less motive for misrepresentations against either. In the “Frogs,” the scene is laid in Hades, whither the god Dionysus goes, in the attire of Heracles and along with his slave Xanthias, for the purpose of bringing up again to earth the deceased poet Euripides. Among the incidents, Xanthias in the attire which his master had worn, is represented as acting with violence and insult toward two hostesses of eating-houses; consuming their substance, robbing them, refusing to pay when called upon, and even threatening their lives with a drawn sword. Upon which the women, having no other redress left, announce their resolution of calling, the one upon her protector Cleon, the other on Hyperbolus, for the purpose of bringing the offender to justice before the dikastery. This passage shows us (if inferences on comic evidence are to be held as admissible) that Cleon and Hyperbolus became involved in accusations partly by helping poor-persons, who had been wronged, to obtain justice before the dikastery. A rich man who had suffered injury might purchase of Antipho or some other rhetor, advice and aid as to the conduct of his complaint. But a poor man or woman would think themselves happy to obtain the gratuitous suggestion, and sometimes the auxiliary speech, of Cleon or Hyperbolus, who would thus extend their own popularity, by means very similar to those practiced by the leading men in Rome. 

But besides lending aid to others, doubtless Cleon was often also a prosecutor, in his own name, of official delinquents, real or alleged. That some one should undertake this duty was indispensable for the protection of the city; otherwise the responsibility to which official persons were subjected after their term of office would have been merely nominal, and we have proof enough that the general public morality of these official persons, acting individually, was by no means high. But the duty was at the same time one which most persons would and did shun. The prosecutor, while obnoxious to general dislike, gained nothing even by the most complete success; and if he failed so much as not to procure a minority of votes among the dikasts, equal to one-fifth of the numbers present, he was condemned to pay a fine of 1000 drachmas. What was still more serious, he drew upon himself a formidable mass of private hatred, from the friends, partisans, and the political club of the accused party—extremely menacing to his own future security and comfort, in a community like Athens. There was therefore little motive to accept, and great motive to decline, the task of prosecuting on public grounds. A prudent politician at Athens would undertake it occasionally, and against special rivals: but he would carefully guard himself against the reputation of doing it frequently or by inclination—and the orators constantly do so guard themselves, in those speeches which yet remain.

It is this reputation which Thucydides fastens upon Kleon, and which, like Cato the censor at Rome, he probably merited; from native acrimony of temper, from a powerful talent for invective, and from his position both inferior and hostile to the Athenian knights or aristocracy, who overshadowed him by their family importance. But in what proportion of cases his accusations were just or calumnious—the real question upon which a candid judgment turns—we have no means of deciding, either in his case or in that of Cato. “To lash the wicked (observes Aristophanes himself) is not only no blame, but is even a matter of honour to the good.” It has not been common to allow to Kleon the benefit of this observation, though he is much more entitled to it than Aristophanes. For the attacks of a poetical libeller admit neither of defence nor retaliation; whereas a prosecutor before the dikastery found his opponent prepared to reply or even to retort—and was obliged to specify his charge, as well as to furnish proof of it—so that there was a fair chance for the innocent man not to be confounded with the guilty.

The quarrel of Cleon with Aristophanes is said to have arisen out of an accusation which he brought against that poet in the senate of Five Hundred, on the subject of his second comedy, the “Babylonians,” exhibited at the festival of the urban Dionysia in the month of March, 426 B.C. At that season many strangers were present at Athens; especially many visitors and deputies from the subject-allies who were bringing their annual tribute. And as the “Babylonians” (now lost), like so many other productions of Aristophanes, was full of slashing ridicule not only against individual citizens, but against the functionaries and institutions of the city, Kleon instituted a complaint against it in the senate, as an exposure dangerous to the public security before strangers and allies. We have to recollect that Athens was then in the midst of an embarrassing war—that the fidelity of her subject-allies was much doubted—that Lesbos, the greatest of her allies, had been reconquered only in the preceding year, after a revolt both troublesome and perilous to the Athenians. Under such circumstances, Kleon might see plausible reason for thinking that a political comedy of the Aristophanic vein and talent tended to degrade the city in the eyes of strangers, even granting that it was innocuous when confined to the citizens themselves. The poet complains that Cleon summoned him before the senate, with terrible threats and calumny: but it does not appear that any penalty was inflicted. Nor indeed, had the senate competence to find him guilty or punish him, except to the extent of a small fine. They could only bring him to trial before the dikastery, which in this case plainly was not done. He himself, however, seems to have felt the justice of the warning: for we find that three out of his four next following plays, before the peace of Nikias (the “Acharnians,” the “Knights,” and the “Wasps”), were represented at the Lenaean festival, in the month of January, a season when no strangers nor allies were present. Kleon was doubtless much incensed with the play of the “Knights,” and seems to have annoyed the poet either by bringing an indictment against him for exercising freeman’s rights without being duly qualified (since none but citizens were allowed to appear and act in the dramatic exhibitions), or by some other means which are not clearly explained. We cannot make out in what way the poet met him, though it appears that finding less public sympathy than he thought himself entitled to, he made an apology without intending to be bound by it. Certain it is, that his remaining plays subsequent to the “Knights,” though containing some few bitter jests against Kleon, manifest no second deliberate plan of attack against him.

The battle of Amphipolis removed at once the two most pronounced individual opponents of peace, Cleon and Brasidas. Athens, too, was more than ever discouraged and averse to prolonged fighting; for the number of hoplites slain at Amphipolis doubtless filled the city with mourning, besides the unparalleled disgrace now tarnishing Athenian soldiership. The peace-party under the auspices of Nicias and Laches, relieved at once from the internal opposition of Cleon, as well as from the foreign enterprise of Brasidas, were enabled to resume their negotiations with Sparta in a spirit promising success. King Pleistoanax, and the Spartan ephors of the year, were on their side equally bent on terminating the war, and the deputies of all the allies were convoked at Sparta for discussion with the envoys of Athens. Such discussion was continued during the whole autumn and winter after the battle of Amphipolis, without any actual hostilities on either side. At first the pretentions advanced were found very conflicting; but at length, after several debates, it was agreed to treat upon the basis of each party surrendering what had been acquired by war, The Athenians insisted at first on the restoration of Plataea; but the Thebans replied that Plataea was theirs neither by force nor by treason—but by voluntary capitulation and surrender of the inhabitants. This distinction seems to our ideas somewhat remarkable, since the capitulation of a besieged town is not less the result of force than capture by storm. But it was adopted in the present treaty; and under it the Athenians, while foregoing their demand of Plataea, were enabled to retain Nisaea, which they had acquired from the Megarians, and Anactorium and Sollium which they had taken from Corinth. To insure accommodating temper on the part of Athens, the Spartans held out the threat of invading Attica in the spring, and of establishing a permanent fortification in the territory: and they even sent round proclamation to their allies, enjoining all the details requisite for this step. Since Attica had now been exempt from invasion for three years, the Athenians were probably not insensible to this threat of renewal under a permanent form.

At the beginning of spring—about the end of March, 421 B.C.—shortly after the urban Dionysia at Athens—the important treaty was concluded for the term of fifty years. The following were its principal conditions:—

1. All shall have full liberty to visit all the public temples of Greece—for purposes of private sacrifice, consultation of oracle, or visit to the festivals. Every man shall be undisturbed both in going and coming.—[The value of this article will be felt when we recollect that the Athenians and their allies had been unable to visit either the Olympic or the Pythian festival since the beginning of the war].

2. The Delphians shall enjoy full autonomy and mastery of their temple and their territory.—[This article was intended to exclude the ancient claim of the Phocian confederacy to the management of the temple; a claim which the Athenians had once supported, before the Thirty years’ truce: but they had now little interest in the matter, since the Phocians were in the ranks of their enemies.]

3. There shall be peace for fifty years between Athens and Sparta with their respective allies, with abstinence from mischief either overt or fraudulent, by land as well as by sea.

4. Neither party shall invade for purposes of mischief the territory of the other—not by any artifice or under any pretence. Should any subject of difference arise, it shall be settled by equitable means, and by oaths tendered and taken, in form to be hereafter agreed on.

5. The Lacedaemonians and their allies shall restore Amphipolis to the Athenians. They shall farther relinquish to the Athenians Argilaus, Stageirus, Acanthus, Skolus, Olynthus, and Spartolus. But these cities shall remain autonomous, on condition of paying tribute to Athens according to the assessment of Aristeides. Any citizen of these cities (Amphipolis as well as the others) who may choose to quit them shall be at liberty to do so, and to carry away his property. Nor shall the cities be counted hereafter either as allies of Athens or of Sparta, unless Athens shall induce them by amicable persuasions to become her allies, which she is at liberty to do if she can.

The inhabitants of Mekyberna, Sane, and Singe, shall dwell independently in their respective cities, just as much as the Olynthians and Acanthians.—[These were towns which adhered to Athens and were still numbered as her allies; though they were near enough to be molested by Olynthus and Akanthus, against which this clause was intended to insure them.]

The Lacedaemonians and their allies shall restore Panaktum to the Athenians.

6. The Athenians shall restore to Sparta Koryphasium, Kythera, Methone, Pteleum, Atalante—with all the captives in their hands from Sparta or her allies. They shall farther release all Spartans or allies of Sparta now blocked up in Skione.

7. The Lacedaemonians and their allies shall give back all the captives in their hands, from Athens or her allies.

8. Respecting Skione, Torone, Sermylus, or any other town in the possession of Athens—the Athenians may take their own measures.

9. Oaths shall be exchanged between the contracting parties according to the solemnities held most binding in each city respectively, and in the following words—“I will adhere to this convention and truce sincerely and without fraud.” The oaths shall be annually renewed, and the terms of peace shall be inscribed on columns at Olympia, Delphi, and the Isthmus, as well as at Sparta and Athens.

10. Should any matter have been forgotten in the present convention, the Athenians and Lacedaemonians may alter it by mutual understanding and consent, without being held to violate their oaths.

These oaths were accordingly exchanged. They were, taken by seventeen principal Athenians, and as many Spartans, on behalf of their respective countries—on the 26th day of the month Artemisius at Sparta, and on the 24th day of Elaphebolion at Athens, immediately after the urban Dionysia; Pleistolas being Ephor eponymus at Sparta, and Alkaeus Archon eponymus at Athens. Among the Lacedaemonians swearing are included the two kings, Agis and Pleistoanax—the Ephor Pleistolas (and perhaps other ephors, but this we do not know)—and Tellis, the father of Brasidas. Among the Athenians sworn are comprised Nikias, Laches, Agnon, Lamaclius, and Demosthenes.

Such was the peace (commonly known by the name of the peace of Nikias) concluded in the beginning of the eleventh spring of the war, which had just lasted ten full years. Its conditions being put to the vote at Sparta in the assembly of deputies from the Lacedaemonian allies, the majority accepted them; which, according to the condition adopted and sworn to by every member of the confederacy, made it binding upon all. There was, indeed, a special reserve allowed to any particular state in case of religious scruple, arising out of the fear of offending some of their gods or heroes. Saving this reserve, the peace had been formally acceded to by the decision of the confederates. But it soon appeared how little the vote of the majority was worth, even though enforced by the strong pressure of Lacedaemon herself—when the more powerful members were among the dissentient minority. The Boeotians, Megarians and Corinthians all refused to accept it.

The Corinthians were displeased because they did not recover Sollium and Anactorium; the Megarians, because they did not regain Nisaea; the Boeotians, because they were required to surrender Panaktum. In spite of the urgent solicitations of Sparta, the deputies of all these powerful states not only denounced the peace as unjust, and voted against it in the general assembly of allies—but refused to accept it when the vote was carried, and went home to their respective cities for instructions.

Such were the conditions, and such the accompanying circumstances, of the peace of Nicias, which terminated, or professed to terminate, the great Peloponnesian War, after a duration of ten years. Its consequences and fruits in many respects, such as were not anticipated by either of the concluding parties, will be seen in the following chapters.