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About a year elapsed between the catastrophe of the Athenians near Syracuse and the victory which they gained over the Milesians, on landing near Miletus (from September 413 B.C., to September 412 B.C). After the first of those two events, the complete ruin of Athens had appeared both to her enemies and to herself, impending and irreparable. But so astonishing, so rapid, and so energetic, had been her rally, that at the time of the second, she was found again carrying on a tolerable struggle, though with impaired resources and on a purely defensive system, against enemies both bolder and more numerous than ever. There is no reason to doubt that her foreign affairs might have gone on thus improving, had they not been endangered at this critical moment by the treason of a fraction of her own citizens—bringing her again to the brink of ruin, from which she was only rescued by the incompetence of her enemies, commence. 

That treason took its first rise from the exile Alcibiades. I have already recounted how this man, alike unprincipled and energetic, had thrown. himself with his characteristic ardour into the service of Sparta, and had indicated to her the best means of aiding Syracuse, of inflicting positive injury upon Athens, and lastly, of provoking revolt among the Ionic allies of the latter. It was by his boldness and personal connections in Ionia that the revolt of Chios and Miletus had been determined.

In the course of a few months, however, he had greatly lost the confidence of the Spartans. The revolt of the Asiatic dependencies of Athens had not been accomplished so easily and rapidly as he had predicted: Chalcideus, the Spartan commander with whom he had acted, was defeated and slain near Miletus: the Ephor Endius, by whom he was chiefly protected, retained his office only for one year, and was succeeded by other Ephors just about the end of September, or beginning of October, when the Athenians gained their second victory near Miletus, and were on the point of blocking up the town; while his personal enemy King Agis still remained to persecute him. Moreover, there was in the character of this remarkable man something so essentially selfish, vain, and treacherous, that no one could ever rely upon his faithful cooperation. And as soon as any reverse occurred, that very energy and ability, which seldom failed him, made those with whom he acted the more ready to explain the mischance by supposing that he had betrayed them.

It was thus that, after the defeat of Miletus, King Agis was enabled to discredit Alcibiades as a traitor to Sparta; upon which the new Ephors sent out at once an order to the general Astyochus, to put him to death. Alcibiades had now an opportunity of tasting the difference between Spartan and Athenian procedure. Though his enemies at Athens were numerous and virulent,—with all the advantage, so unspeakable in political warfare, of being able to raise the cry of irreligion against him; yet the utmost which they could obtain was, that he should be summoned home to take his trial before the Dikastery. At Sparta, without any positive ground of crimination and without any idea of judicial trial, his enemies procure an order that he shall be put to death.

Alcibiades however got intimation of the order in time to retire to Tissaphernes. Probably he was forewarned by Astyochus himself, not ignorant that so monstrous a deed would greatly alienate the Chians and Milesians, nor foreseeing the full mischief which his desertion would bring upon Sparta. With that flexibility of character which enabled him at once to master and take up a new position, Alcibiades soon found means to insinuate himself into the confidence of the satrap. He began now to play a game neither Spartan, nor Athenian, but Persian and anti-Hellenic: a game of duplicity to which Tissaphernes himself was spontaneously disposed, but to which the intervention of a dexterous Grecian negotiator was indispensable. It was by no means the interest of the Great King (Alcibiades urged) to lend such effective aid to either of the contending parties as would enable it to crush the other: he ought neither to bring up the Phoenician fleet to the aid of the Lacedaemonians, nor to furnish that abundant pay which would procure for them indefinite levies of new Grecian force. He ought so to feed and prolong the war, as to make each party an instrument of exhaustion and impoverishment against the other, and thus himself to rise on the ruins of both: first to break down the Athenian empire by means of the Peloponnesians, and afterwards to expel the Peloponnesians themselves—which might be effected with little trouble if they were weakened by a protracted previous struggle.

Thus far Alcibiades gave advice, as a Persian counsellor, not unsuitable to the policy of the court of Susa. But he seldom gave advice without some view to his own profit, ambition, or antipathies. Cast off unceremoniously by the Lacedaemonians, he was now driven to seek restoration in his own country. To accomplish this object, it was necessary not only that he should preserve her from being altogether ruined, but that he should present himself to the Athenians as one who could, if restored, divert the aid of Tissaphernes from Lacedaemon to Athens. Accordingly, he farther suggested to the satrap, that while it was essential to his interest not to permit land power and maritime power to be united in the same hands, whether Lacedaemonian or Athenian—it would nevertheless be found easier to arrange matters with the empire and pretensions of Athens, than with those of Lacedaemon. Athens (he argued) neither sought nor professed any other object than the subjection of her own maritime dependencies, in return for which she would willingly leave all the Asiatic Greeks in the hands of the Great King; while Sparta, forswearing all idea of empire, and professing ostentatiously to aim at the universal enfranchisement of every Grecian city, could not with the smallest consistency conspire to deprive the Asiatic Greeks of the same privilege. This view appeared to be countenanced by the objection which Theramenes and many of the Peloponnesian officers had taken to the first convention concluded by Chalcideus and Alcibiades with Tissaphernes; objections afterwards renewed by Lichas even against the second modified convention of Theramenes, and accompanied with an indignant protest against the idea of surrendering to the Great King all the territory which had been ever possessed by his predecessors1.

All these latter arguments, whereby Alcibiades professed to create in the mind of the satrap a preference for Athens, were either futile or founded on false assumptions. For on the one band, even Lichas never refused to concur in surrendering the Asiatic Greeks to Persia—while on the other hand, the empire of Athens, so long as she retained any empire, was pretty sure to be more formidable to Persia than any efforts undertaken by Sparta under the disinterested pretence of liberating generally the Grecian cities. Nor did Tissaphernes at all lend himself to any such positive impression; though he felt strongly the force of the negative recommendations of Alcibiades—that he should do no more for the Peloponnesians than was sufficient to feed the war, without ensuring to them either a speedy or a decisive success: or rather, this duplicity was so congenial to his Oriental mind, that there was no need of Alcibiades to recommend it. The real use of the Athenian exile, was to assist the satrap in carrying it into execution; and to provide for him those plausible pretences and justifications, which he was to issue as a substitute for effective supplies of men and money. Established along with Tissaphernes at Magnesia—the same place which had been occupied about fifty years before by another Athenian exile, equally unprincipled and yet abler, Themistocles—Alcibiades served as interpreter of his views in all his conversations with the Greeks, and appeared to be thoroughly in his confidence: an appearance of which he took advantage to pass himself off falsely upon the Athenians at Samos as having the power of turning Persian wealth to the aid of Athens.

The first payment made by Tissaphernes, immediately after the capture of Iasus and of the rev0lted Amorges, to the Peloponnesians at Miletus, was at the rate of one drachma per head. But notice was given that for the future it would be reduced one half; a reduction for which Alcibiades undertook to furnish a reason. The Athenians (he urged) gave no more than half a drachma; not because they could not afford more, but because, from their long experience of nautical affairs, they had found that higher pay spoiled the discipline of the seamen by leading them into excesses and over­indulgence, as well as by inducing too ready leave of absence to be granted, in confidence that the high pay would bring back the men when called for. As he probably never expected that such subterfuges (employed at a moment when Athens was so poor that she could not even pay the half drachma per head) would carry conviction to any one—so he induced Tissaphernes to strengthen their effect by individual bribes to the generals and trierarchs; a mode of argument which was found effectual in silencing the complaints of all, with the single exception of the Syracusan Hermokrates. In regard to other Grecian cities who sent to ask pecuniary aid, and especially Chios, Alcibiades spoke out with less reserve. They had been hitherto compelled to contribute to Athens (he said), and now that they had shaken off this payment, they must not shrink from imposing upon themselves equal or even greater burthens in their own defence. Nor was it anything less (he added) than sheer impudence in the Chians, the richest people in Greece—if they required a foreign military force for their protection, to require at the same time that others should furnish the means of paying it. At the same time, however, he intimated—by way of keeping up hopes for the future—that Tissaphernes was at present carrying on the war at his own cost; but if hereafter remittances should arrive from Susa, the full rate of pay would be resumed, with the addition of aid to the Grecian cities in any other way which could be reasonably asked. To this promise was added an assurance that the Phoenician fleet was now under equipment, and would shortly be brought up to their aid, so as to give them a superiority which would render resistance hopeless: an assurance not merely deceitful, but mischievous, since it was employed to dissuade them from all immediate action, and to paralyse their navy during its moments of fullest vigour and efficiency. Even the reduced rate of pay was furnished so irregularly, and the Peloponnesian force kept so starved, that the duplicity of the satrap became obvious to everyone, and was only carried through by his bribery to the officers.

While Alcibiades, as the confidential agent and interpreter of Tissaphernes, was carrying on this anti-Peloponnesian policy through the autumn and winter of 412-411—partly during the stay of the Peloponnesian fleet at Miletus, partly after it had moved to Knidus and Rhodes—he was at the same time opening correspondence with the Athenian officers at Samos. His breach with the Peloponnesians, as well as his ostensible position in the service of Tissaphernes, were facts well-known among the Athenian armament; and his scheme was, to procure both restoration and renewed power in his native city, by representing himself as competent to bring over to her the aid and alliance of Persia, through his ascendency over the mind of the satrap. His hostility to the democracy, however, was so generally known, that he despaired of accomplishing his return unless he could connect it with an oligarchical revolution; which, moreover, was not less gratifying to his sentiment of vengeance for the past, than to his ambition for the future. Accordingly he sent over a private message to the officers and trierarchs at Samos, several of them doubtless his personal friends, desiring to be remembered to the “best men” in the armament— such was one of the standing phrases by which oligarchical men knew and described each other—and intimating his anxious wish to come again as a citizen among them, bringing with him Tissaphernes as their ally. But he would come only on condition of the formation of an oligarchical government; nor would he ever again set foot amidst the odious democracy to whom he owed his banishment.

Such was the first originating germ of that temporary calamity, which so near brought Athens to absolute ruin, called the Oligarchy of Four Hundred: a suggestion from the same exile who had already so deeply wounded his country by sending Gylippus to Syracuse, and the Lacedaemonian garrison to Dekeleia. As yet, no man in Samos had thought of a revolution; but the moment that the idea was thus started, the trierarchs and wealthy men in the armament caught at it with avidity. To subvert the democracy for their own profit, and to be rewarded for doing so with the treasures of Persia as a means of carrying on the war against the Peloponnesians—was an extent of good fortune greater than they could possibly have hoped. Amidst the exhaustion of the public treasure at Athens, and the loss of tribute from her dependencies, it was now the private proprietors, and most of all, the wealthy proprietors—upon whom the cost of military operations fell; from which, burthen they here saw the prospect of relief, coupled with increased chance of victory. Elate with so tempting a promise, a deputation of them crossed over from Samos to the mainland to converse personally with Alcibiades, who again renewed his assurances in person, that he would bring not only Tissaphernes, but the Great King himself, into active alliance and cooperation with Athens, provided they would put down the Athenian democracy, which he affirmed that the king could not possibly trust. He doubtless did not omit to set forth the other side of the alternative; that if the proposition were refused, Persian aid would be thrown heartily into the scale of the Peloponnesians; in which case, there was no longer any hope of safety for Athens.

On the return of the deputation with these fresh assurances, the oligarchical men in Samos came together, both in greater number and with redoubled ardour, to take their measures for subverting the democracy. They even ventured to speak of the project openly among the mass of the armament, who listened to it with nothing but aversion; but who were silenced at least, though not satisfied, by being told that the Persian treasury would be thrown open to them on condition, and only on condition, that they would relinquish their democracy. Such was at this time the indispensable need of foreign money for the purposes of the war—such was the certainty of ruin, if the Persian treasure went to the aid of the enemy—that the most democratical Athenian might well hesitate when the alternative was thus laid before him. The oligarchical conspirators, however, knew well that they had the feeling of the armament altogether against them—that the best which they could expect from it was a reluctant acquiescence—and that they must accomplish the revolution by their own hands and management. They formed themselves into a political confederacy (or Hetaeria) for the purpose of discussing the best measures towards their end. It was resolved to send a deputation to Athens, with Peisander at the head, to make known the new prospects and to put the standing oligarchical clubs (Hetaeries) into active cooperation for the purpose of violently breaking up the democracy; and farther, to establish oligarchical governments in all the remaining dependencies of Athens. They imagined that these dependencies would be thus induced to remain faithful to her, perhaps even that some of those which had already revolted might come back to their allegiance—when once she should be relieved from her democracy and placed under the rule of her “best and most virtuous citizens”.

Hitherto, the bargain tendered for acceptance had been—subversion of the Athenian democracy and restoration of Alcibiades, on one hand—against hearty cooperation, and a free supply of gold, from Persia, on the other. But what security was there that such bargain would be realised—or that when the first part should have been brought to pass, the second would follow? There was absolutely no security except the word of Alcibiades: very little to be trusted, even when promising what was in his own power to perform, as we may recollect from his memorable dealing with the Lacedaemonian envoys at Athens—and on the present occasion, vouching for something in itself extravagant and preposterous. For what reasonable motive could be imagined to make the Great King shape his foreign policy according to the interests of Alcibiades—or to inspire him with such lively interest in the substitution of oligarchy for democracy at Athens? This was a question which the oligarchical conspirators at Samos not only never troubled themselves to raise, but which they had every motive to suppress. The suggestion of Alcibiades coincided fully with their political interest and ambition. Their object was to put down the democracy, and get possession of the government for themselves—a purpose, towards which the promise of Persian gold, if they could get it accredited, was inestimable as a stepping-stone, whether it afterwards turned out to be a delusion or not. The probability is that having a strong interest in believing it themselves, and a still stronger interest in making others believe it, they talked each other into a sincere persuasion. Without adverting to this fact, we should be at a loss to understand how the word of such a man as Alcibiades, on such a matter, could be so implicitly accepted as to set in motion a whole train of novel and momentous events.

There was one man, and one man alone so far as we know, who ventured openly to call it in question. This was Phrynichus, one of the generals of the fleet, who had recently given valuable counsel after the victory of Miletus; a clear-sighted and sagacious man, but personally hostile to Alcibiades, and thoroughly seeing through his character and projects. Though Phrynichus was afterwards one of the chief organizers of the oligarchical movement, when it became detached from and hostile to Alcibiades—yet under the actual circumstances he discountenanced it altogether1. Alcibiades (he said) had no attachment to oligarchical government rather than to democratical; nor could he be relied on for standing by it after it should have been set up. His only purpose was, to make use of the oligarchical conspiracy now forming, for his own restoration; which, if brought to pass, could not foil to introduce political discord into the camp—the greatest misfortune that could at present happen. As to the Persian king, it was unreasonable to expect that he would put himself out of his way to aid the Athenians, his old enemies, in whom he had no confidence—while he had the Peloponnesians present as allies, with a good naval force and powerful cities in his own territory, from whom he had never experienced either insult or annoyance. Moreover the dependencies of Athens—upon whom it was now proposed to confer, simultaneously with Athens herself, the blessing of oligarchical government—would receive that boon with indifference. Those who had already revolted, would not come back; those who yet remained faithful, would not be the more inclined to remain so longer. Their object would be to obtain autonomy, either under oligarchy or democracy, as the case might be. Assuredly they would not expect better treatment from an oligarchical government at Athens, than from a democratical; for they knew that those self-styled “good and virtuous” men, who would form the oligarchy, were, as ministers of democracy, the chief advisers and instigators of the people to iniquitous deeds; most commonly for nothing but their own individual profit. From an Athenian oligarchy, the citizens of these dependencies had nothing to expect but violent executions without any judicial trial; but under the democracy, they could obtain shelter and the means of appeal, while their persecutors were liable to restraint and chastisement, from the people and the popular Dikasteries. Such (Phrynichus affirmed on his own personal knowledge) was the genuine feeling among the dependencies of Athens. Having thus shown the calculations of the conspirators—as to Alcibiades, as to Persia, and as to the allied dependencies—to be all illusory, Phrynichus concluded by entering his decided protest against adopting the propositions of Alcibiades.

But in this protest (borne out afterwards by the result) he stood nearly alone. The tide of opinion, among the oligarchical conspirators, ran so furiously the other way, that it was resolved to despatch Peisander and others immediately to Athens to consummate the oligarchical revolution as well as the recall of Alcibiades; and at the same time to propose to the people their new intended ally Tissaphernes.

Phrynichus knew well what would be the consequence to himself—if this consummation were brought about, as he foresaw that it probably would be—from the vengeance of his enemy Alcibiades against his recent opposition. Satisfied that the latter would destroy him, he took measures for destroying Alcibiades beforehand, even by a treasonable communication to the Lacedaemonian admiral Astyochus at Miletus; to whom he sent a secret account of the intrigues which the Athenian exile was carrying on at Samos to the prejudice of the Peloponnesians, prefaced with an awkward apology for this sacrifice of the interests of his country to the necessity of protecting himself against a personal enemy. But Phrynichus was imperfectly informed of the real character of the Spartan commander, or of his relations with Tissaphernes and Alcibiades. Not merely was the latter now at Magnesia, under the protection of the satrap, and out of the power of the Lacedaemonians—but Astyochus, a traitor to his duty through the gold of Tissaphernes, went up thither to show the letter of Phrynichus to the very person whom it was intended to expose. Alcibiades forthwith sent intelligence to the generals and officers at Samos of the step taken by Phrynichus, and pressed them to put him to death.

The life of Phrynichus now hung by a thread, and was probably preserved only by that respect for judicial formalities so deeply rooted in the Athenian character. In the extremity of danger, be resorted to a still more subtle artifice to save himself. He despatched a second letter to Astyochus, complaining of the violation of confidence in regard to the former, but at the same time intimating that he was now willing to betray to the Lacedaemonians the camp and armament at Samos. He invited Astyochus to come and attack the place, which was as yet unfortified—explaining minutely in what manner the attack could be best conducted; and he concluded by saying that this, as well as every other means of defence, must be pardoned to one whose life was in danger from a personal enemy. Foreseeing that Astyochus would betray this letter as he had betrayed the former, Phrynichus waited a proper time, and then revealed to the camp the intention of the enemy to make an attack, as if it had reached him by private information. He insisted on the necessity of immediate precautions, and himself as general superintended the work of fortification, which was soon completed. Presently arrived a letter from Alcibiades, communicating to the army that Phrynichus had betrayed them, and that the Peloponnesians were on the point of making an attack. But this letter, arriving after the precautions taken by order of Phrynichus himself had been already completed, was construed into a mere trick on the part of Alcibiades himself, through his acquaintance with the intentions of the Peloponnesians, to raise a charge of treasonable correspondence against his personal enemy. The impression thus made by his second letter effaced the taint which had been left upon Phrynichus by the first, insomuch that the latter stood exculpated on both charges.

But Phrynichus, though thus successful in extricating himself, failed thoroughly in his manoeuvre against the influence and life of Alcibiades; in whose favour the oligarchical movement not only went on, but was transferred from Samos to Athens. On arriving at the latter place, Peisander and his companions laid before the public assembly the projects which had been conceived by the oligarchs at Samos. The people were invited to restore Alcibiades and renounce their democratical constitution; in return for which, they were assured of obtaining the Persian king as an ally, and of overcoming the Peloponnesians. Violent was the storm which these propositions raised in the public assembly. Many speakers rose in animated defence of the democracy; few, if any, distinctly against it. The opponents of Alcibiades indignantly denounced the mischief of restoring him in violation of the laws, and in reversal of a judicial sentence; while the Eumolpidae and Kerykes, the sacred families connected with the Eleusinian mysteries which Alcibiades had profaned, entered their solemn protest on religious grounds to the same effect. Against all these vehement opponents, whose impassioned invectives obtained the full sympathy of the assembly, Peisander had but one simple reply. He called them forward successively by name, and put to each the question—“What hope have you of salvation for the city, when the Peloponnesians have a naval force against us fully equal to ours, together with a greater number of allied cities—and when the king as well as Tissaphernes are supplying them with money, while we have no money left? What hope have you of salvation, unless we can persuade the king to come over to our side?”. The answer was a melancholy negative—or perhaps not less melancholy silence. “Well then (rejoined Peisander)—that object cannot possibly be attained, unless we conduct our political affairs for the future in a more moderate way, and put the powers of government more into the hands of a few—and unless we recall Alcibiades, the only man now living who is competent to do the business. Under present circumstances, we surely shall not lay greater stress upon our political constitution than upon the salvation of the city; the rather as what we now enact may be hereafter modified, if it be found not to answer”

Against the proposed oligarchical change the repugnance of the assembly was alike angry and unanimous. But they were silenced by the imperious necessity of the case, as the armament at Samos had been before; and admitting the alternative laid down by Peisander (as I have observed already), the most democratical citizen might be embarrassed as to his vote. Whether any speaker, like Phrynichus at Samos, arraigned the fallacy of the alternative, and called upon Peisander for some guarantee, better than mere asseveration, of the benefits to come—we are not informed. But the general vote of the assembly, reluctant and only passed in the hope of future change, sanctioned his recommendation. He and ten other envoys, invested with full powers of negotiating with Alcibiades and Tissaphernes, were despatched to Ionia immediately. Peisander at the same time obtained from the assembly a vote deposing Phrynichus from his command; under the accusation of having traitorously caused the loss of Iasus and the capture of Amorges, after the battle of Miletus—but from the real certainty that he would prove an insuperable bar to all negotiations with Alcibiades. Phrynichus, with his colleague Skironides, being thus displaced, Leon and Diomedon were sent to Samos as commanders in their stead; an appointment, of which, as will be presently seen, Peisander was far from anticipating the consequences.

Before his departure for Asia, he took a step yet more important. He was well-aware that the recent vote—a result of fear inspired by the war, representing a sentiment utterly at variance with that of the assembly, and only procured as the price of Persian aid against a foreign enemy—would never pass into a reality by the spontaneous act of the people themselves. It was indeed indispensable as a first step; partly as an authority to himself, partly also as a confession of the temporary weakness of the democracy, and as a sanction and encouragement for the oligarchical forces to show themselves. But the second step yet remained to be performed; that of calling these forces into energetic action—organising an amount of violence sufficient to extort from the people actual submission in addition to verbal acquiescence—and thus as it were tying down the patient while the process of emasculation was being consummated. Peisander visited all the various political clubs, conspiracies, or Hetaeries, which were habitual and notorious at Athens; associations, bound together by oath, among the wealthy citizens, partly for purposes of amusement, but chiefly pledging the members to stand by each other in objects of political ambition, in judicial trials, in accusation or defence of official men after the period of office had expired, in carrying points through the public assembly, &c. Among these clubs were distributed most of “the best citizens, the good and honourable men, the elegant men, the men of note, the temperate, the honest and moderate men”, &c, to employ that complimentary phraseology by which wealthy and anti-popular politicians have chosen to designate each other, in ancient as well as in modern times. And though there were doubtless individuals among them who deserved these appellations in their best sense, yet the general character of the clubs was not the less exclusive and oligarchical. In the details of political life, they had different partialities as well as different antipathies, and were oftener in opposition than in cooperation with each other. But they furnished, when taken together, a formidable anti-popular force; generally either in abeyance, or disseminated in the accomplishment of smaller political measures and separate personal successes—but capable, at a special crisis, of being evoked, organised, and put in conjoint attack, for the subversion of the democracy. Such was the important movement now initiated by Peisander. He visited separately each of these clubs, put them into communication with each other, and exhorted them all to joint aggressive action against their common enemy the democracy, at a moment when it was already intimidated and might be finally overthrown.

Having taken other necessary measures towards the same purpose, Peisander left Athens with his colleagues to enter upon his negotiation with Tissaphernes. But the cooperation and aggressive movement of the clubs which he had originated, was prosecuted with increased ardour during his absence, and even fell into hands more organising and effective than his own. The rhetorical teacher Antiphon, of the deme Rhamnus, took it in hand especially, acquired the confidence of the clubs, and drew the plan of campaign against the democracy. He was a man estimable in private life and not open to pecuniary corruption: in other respects, of preeminent ability, in contrivance, judgment, speech, and action. The profession to which he belonged, generally unpopular among the democracy, excluded him from taking rank as a speaker either in the public assembly or the dikastery: for a rhetorical teacher, contending in either of them against a private speaker, (to repeat a remark already once made) was considered to stand at the same unfair advantage, as a fencing-master fighting a duel with a gentleman would be held to stand in modern times. Himself thus debarred from the showy celebrity of Athenian political life, Antiphon became only the more consummate, as a master of advice, calculation, scheming, and rhetorical composition, to assist the celebrity of others; insomuch that his silent assistance in political and judicial debates, as a sort of chamber-counsel, was highly appreciated and largely paid. Now such were precisely the talents required for the present occasion; while Antiphon, who hated the democracy for having hitherto kept him in the shade, gladly bent his full talents towards its subversion.

Thus efficient was the man to whom Peisander in departing chiefly confided the task of organising the anti-popular clubs, for the consummation of the revolution already in immediate prospect. His chief auxiliary was Theramenes, another Athenian, now first named, of eminent ability and cunning. His father (either natural or by adoption), Agnon, was one of the Probuli, and had formerly been founder of Amphipolis. Even Phrynichus—whose sagacity we have already had occasion to appreciate, and who from hatred towards Alcibiades had pronounced himself decidedly against the oligarchical movement at Samos—became zealous in forwarding the movement at Athens, after his dismissal from the command. He brought to the side of Antiphon and Theramenes a contriving head not inferior to theirs, coupled with daring and audacity even superior. Under such skilful leaders, the anti-popular force of Athens was organised with a deep skill, and directed with a dexterous wickedness, never before witnessed in Greece.

At the time when Peisander and the other envoys near the reached Ionia (seemingly about the end of January or beginning of February 411 B.C), the Peloponnesian fleet had already quitted Miletus and gone to Cnidus and Rhodes, on which latter island Leon and Diomedon made some hasty descents, from the neighbouring island of Chalké. At the same time, the Athenian armament at Chios was making progress in the siege of that place and the construction of the neighbouring fort at Delphinium. Pedaritus, the Lacedaemonian governor of the island, had sent pressing messages to solicit aid from the Peloponnesians at Rhodes, but no aid arrived; and he therefore resolved to attempt a general sally and attack upon the Athenians, with his whole force foreign as well as Chian. Though at first he obtained some success, the battle ended in his complete defeat and death, with great slaughter of the Chian troops, and with the loss of many whose shields were captured in the pursuit. The Chians, now reduced to greater straits than before, and beginning to suffer severely from famine, were only enabled to hold out by a partial reinforcement soon afterwards obtained from the Peloponnesian guardships at Miletus. A Spartan named Leon, who had come out in the vessel of Antisthenes as one of the Epibatae or Marines, conducted this reinforcing squadron of 12 triremes (chiefly Thurian and Syracusan) succeeding Pedaritus in the general command of the island.

It was while Chios seemed thus likely to be recovered by Athens—and while the superior Peloponnesian fleet was paralysed at Rhodes by Persian intrigues and bribes—that Peisander arrived in Ionia to open his negotiations with Alcibiades and Tissaphernes. He was enabled to announce that the subversion of the democracy at Athens was already begun and would soon be consummated : and he now required the price which had been promised in exchange—Persian alliance and aid to Athens against the Peloponnesians. But Alcibiades knew well that he had promised what he had not the least chance of being able to perform. The satrap had appeared to follow his advice—or had rather followed his own inclination, employing Alcibiades as an instrument and auxiliary—in the endeavour to wear out both parties, and to keep them nearly on an equality until each should ruin the other. But he was no way disposed to identify himself with the cause of Athens, nor to break decidedly with the Peloponnesians— especially at a moment when their fleet was both the greater of the two, and in occupation of an island close to his own satrapy. Accordingly Alcibiades, when summoned by the Athenian envoys to perform his engagement, found himself in a dilemma from which he could only escape by one of his characteristic manoeuvres.

Receiving the envoys himself in conjunction with Tissaphernes, and speaking on behalf of the latter, he pushed his demands to an extent which he knew that the Athenians would never concede; in order that the rupture might seem to be on their side, and not on his. First, he required the whole of Ionia to be conceded to the Great King; next, all the neighbouring islands, with some other items besides. Large as these requisitions were, comprehending the cession of Lesbos and Samos as well as Chios, and replacing the Persian monarchy in the condition in which it had stood in 496 B.C. before the Ionic revolt—Peisander and his colleagues granted them all: so that Alcibiades was on the point of seeing his deception exposed and frustrated. At last he bethought himself of a fresh demand, which touched Athenian pride as well as Athenian safety, in the tenderest place. He required that the Persian king should be held free to build ships of war in unlimited number, and to keep them sailing along the coast as he might think fit, through all these new portions of territory. After the immense concessions already made, the envoys not only rejected this fresh demand at once, but resented it as an insult which exposed the real drift and purpose of Alcibiades. Not merely did it cancel the boasted treaty (called the peace of Kallias) concluded about forty years before between Athens and Persia, and limiting the Persian ships of war to the sea eastward of Phaselis—but it extinguished the maritime empire of Athens, and compromised the security of all the coasts and islands of the Aegean. To see Lesbos, Chios, and Samos, &c. in possession of Persia, was sufficiently painful; but if there came to be powerful Persian fleets on these islands, it would be the certain precursor and means of farther conquests to the westward, and would revive the aggressive dispositions of the Great King as they had stood at the beginning of the reign of Xerxes. Peisander and his comrades, abruptly breaking off the debate, returned to Samos;—indignant at the discovery, which they now made for the first time, that Alcibiades had juggled them from the outset, and was imposing conditions which he knew to be inadmissible. They still appear however to have thought that Alcibiades acted thus, not because he could not, but because he would not, bring about the alliance under discussion1. They suspected him of playing false with the oligarchical movement which he had himself instigated, and of projecting the accomplishment of his own restoration, coupled with the alliance of Tissaphernes, into the bosom of the democracy which he had begun by denouncing. Such was the light in which they presented his conduct; venting their disappointment in invectives against his duplicity, and in asseverations that he was, after all, unsuitable for a place in oligarchical society. Such declarations, when circulated at Samos, to account for their unexpected failure in realising the hope which they had raised, created among the armament an impression that Alcibiades was really favourable to the democracy; at the same time leaving unabated the prestige of his unbounded ascendency over Tissaphernes and the Great King. We shall presently see the effects resulting from this belief.

Immediately after the rupture of the negotiations, however, the satrap took a step well-calculated to destroy the hopes of the Athenians altogether, so far as Persian aid was concerned. Though persisting in his policy of lending no decisive assistance to either party, and of merely prolonging the war so as to enfeeble both—he yet began to fear that he was pushing matters too far against the Peloponnesians, who had now been two months inactive at Rhodes, with their large fleet hauled ashore. He had no treaty with them actually in force, since Lichas had disallowed the two previous conventions, nor had he furnished them with pay or maintenance. His bribes to the officers had hitherto kept the armament quiet; yet we do not distinctly see how so large a body of men found subsistence1. He was now however apprised that they could find subsistence no longer, and that they would probably desert, or commit depredations on the coast of his satrapy, or perhaps be driven to hasten on a general action with the Athenians, under desperate circumstances. Under such apprehensions he felt compelled to put himself again in communication with them, to furnish them with pay, and to conclude with them a third convention—the proposition of which he had refused to entertain at Cnidus. He therefore went to Kaunus, invited the Peloponnesian leaders to Miletus, and concluded with them near that town a treaty to the following effect:—

“In this 13th year of the reign of Darius, and in the ephorship of Alexippidas at Lacedaemon, a convention is hereby concluded by the Lacedaemonians and their allies, with Tissaphernes and Hieramenes and the sons of Pharnaces, respecting the affairs of the king and of the Lacedaemonians and their allies. The territory of the king, as much of it as is in Asia, shall belong to the king. Let the king determine as he chooses respecting his own territory. The Lacedaemonians and their allies shall not approach the king’s territory with any mischievous purpose—nor shall the king approach that of the Lacedaemonians and their allies with any like purpose. If any one among the Lacedaemonians or their allies shall approach the king’s territory with mischievous purpose, the Lacedaemonians and their allies shall binder him: if any one from the king’s territory shall approach the Lacedaemonians or their allies with mischievous purpose, the king shall hinder him. Tissaphernes shall provide pay and maintenance, for the fleet now present, at the rate already stipulated, until the king’s fleet shall arrive; after that it shall be at the option of the Lacedaemonians to maintain their own fleet if they think fit—or if they prefer, Tissaphernes shall furnish maintenance, and at the close of the war the Lacedaemonians shall repay to him what they have received. After the king’s fleet shall have arrived, the two fleets shall carry on war conjointly, in such manner as shall seem good to Tissaphernes and the Lacedaemonians and their allies. If they choose to close the war with the Athenians, they shall close it only by joint consent”.

In comparing this third convention with the two preceding, we find that nothing is now stipulated as to any territory except the continent of Asia; which is ensured unreservedly to the king, of course with all the Greek residents planted upon it. But by a diplomatic finesse, the terms of the treaty imply that this is not all the territory which the king is entitled to claim—though nothing is covenanted as to any remainder. Next, this third treaty includes Pharnabazus (the son of Pharnaces) with his satrapy of Daskylium; and Hieramenes, with his district, the extent and position of which we do not know; while in the former treaties no other satrap except Tissaphernes had been concerned. We must recollect that the Peloponnesian fleet included those 27 triremes, which bad been brought across by Kalligeitus expressly for the aid of Pharnabazus; and therefore that the latter now naturally became a party to the general operations. Thirdly, we here find, for the first time, formal announcement of a Persian fleet about to be brought up as auxiliary to the Peloponnesians. This was a promise which the satrap now set forth more plainly than before, to amuse them, and to abate the mistrust which they had begun to conceive of his sincerity. It served the temporary purpose of restraining them from any immediate act of despair hostile to his interests, which was all that he looked for. While he renewed his payments, therefore, for the moment, he affected to busy himself in orders and preparations for the fleet from Phoenicia.

The Peloponnesian fleet was now ordered to move from Rhodes. Before it quitted that island, however, envoys came thither from Eretria and from Oropus; which latter place (a dependency on the north­eastern frontier of Attica), though protected by an Athenian garrison, had recently been surprised and captured by the Boeotians. The loss of Oropus much increased the facilities for the revolt of Euboea; and these envoys came to entreat aid from the Peloponnesian fleet, to second the island in that design. The Peloponnesian commanders, however, felt themselves under prior obligation to relieve the sufferers at Chios, towards which island they first bent their course. But they had scarcely passed the Triopian cape, when they saw the Athenian squadron from Chalké dogging their motions. Though there was no wish on either side for a general battle, yet they saw evidently that the Athenians would not permit them to pass by Samos, and get to the relief of Chios, without a battle. Renouncing therefore the project of relieving Chios, they again concentrated their force at Miletus; while the Athenian fleet was also again united at Samos. It was about the end of March 411 B.C, that the two fleets were thus replaced in the stations which they had occupied four months previously.

After the breach with Alcibiades, and still more after this manifest reconciliation of Tissaphernes with the Peloponnesians, Peisander and the oligarchical conspirators at Samos had to reconsider their plan of action. They would not have begun the movement at first, had they not been instigated by Alcibiades, and furnished by him with the treacherous delusion of Persian alliance to cheat and paralyse the people. They had indeed motives enough, from their own personal ambition, to originate it of themselves, apart from Alcibiades; but without the hopes—equally useful for their purpose whether false or true—connected with his name, they would have had no chance of achieving the first step. Now, however, that first step had been achieved, before the delusive expectation of Persian gold was dissipated. The Athenian people had been familiarised with the idea of a subversion of their constitution, in consideration of a certain price: it remained to extort from them, at the point of the sword, without paying the price, what they had thus consented to sell. Moreover the leaders of the scheme felt themselves already compromised, so that they could not recede with safety. They had set in motion their partisans at Athens, where the system of murderous intimidation (though the news had not as yet reached Samos) was already in full swing: so that they felt constrained to persevere as the only chance of preservation to themselves. At the same time, all that faint pretence of public benefit, in the shape of Persian alliance, which had been originally attached to it and which might have been conceived to enlist in the scheme some timid patriots—was now entirely withdrawn. Nothing remained except a naked, selfish, and unscrupulous scheme of ambition, not only ruining the freedom of Athens at home, but crippling and imperilling her before the foreign enemy at a moment when her entire strength was scarcely adequate to the contest. The conspirators resolved to persevere, at all hazards, both in breaking down the constitution and in carrying on the foreign war. Most of them being rich men, they were content (Thucydides observes) to defray the cost out of their own purses, now that they were contending, not for their country, but for their own power and profit.

They lost no time in proceeding to execution, immediately after returning to Samos from the abortive conference with Alcibiades. While they despatched Peisander with five of the envoys back to Athens, to consummate what was already in progress there—and the remaining five to oligarchise the dependent allies—they organised all their partisan force in the armament, and began to take measures for putting down the democracy in Samos itself. That democracy had been the product of a forcible revolution, effected about ten months before by the aid of three Athenian triremes. It had since preserved Samos from revolting, like Chios : it was now the means of preserving the democracy at Athens itself. The partisans of Peisander, finding it an invincible obstacle to their views, contrived to gain over a party of the leading Samians now in authority under it. Three hundred of these latter, a portion of those who ten months before had risen in arms to put down the pre-existing oligarchy, now enlisted as conspirators along with the Athenian oligarchs, to put down the Samian democracy, and get possession of the government for themselves. The new alliance was attested and cemented, according to genuine oligarchical practice, by a murder without judicial trial, or an assassination—for which a suitable victim was at hand. The Athenian Hyperbolus, who had been ostracised some years before by the coalition of Nikias and Alcibiades, together with their respective partisans—ostracised (as Thucydides tells us) not from any fear of his power and over-transcendent influence, but from his bad character and from his being a disgrace to the city—and thus ostracised by an abuse of the institution—was now resident at Samos. He represented the demagogic and accusatory eloquence of the democracy, the check upon official delinquency; so that he served as a common object of antipathy to Athenian and Samian oligarchs. Some of the Athenian partisans, headed by Charminus, one of the generals, in concert with the Samian conspirators, seized Hyperbolus and put him to death; seemingly with some other victims at the same time.

But though these joint assassinations served as a pledge to each section of the conspirators for the fidelity of the other in respect to farther operations, they at the same time gave warning to opponents. Those leading men at Samos who remained attached to the democracy, looking abroad for defence against the coming attack, made earnest appeal to Leon and Diomedon, the two generals most recently arrived from Athens in substitution for Phrynichus and Skironides—men sincerely devoted to the democracy, and adverse to all oligarchical change—as well as to the trierarch Thrasyllus, to Thrasybulus (son of Lykus) then serving as an hoplite, and to many others of the pronounced democrats and patriots in the Athenian armament. They made appeal, not simply in behalf of their own personal safety and of their own democracy, now threatened by conspirators of whom a portion were Athenians—but also on grounds of public interest to Athens; since, if Samos became oligarchised, its sympathy with the Athenian democracy and its fidelity to the alliance would be at an end. At this moment the most recent events which had occurred at Athens (presently to be told) were not known, and the democracy was considered as still subsisting there.

To stand by the assailed democracy of Samos, and to preserve the island itself, now the mainstay of the shattered Athenian empire, were motives more than sufficient to awaken the Athenian leaders thus solicited. Commencing a personal canvass among the soldiers and seamen, and invoking their interference to avert the overthrow of the Samian democracy, they found the general sentiment decidedly in their favour, but most of all, among the Parali, or crew of the consecrated public trireme called the Paralus. These men were the picked seamen of the state; each of them not merely a free­man, but a full Athenian citizen; receiving higher pay than the ordinary seamen, and known as devoted to the democratical constitution with an active repugnance to oligarchy itself as well as to everything which scented of it. The vigilance of Leon and Diomedon on the defensive side counteracted the machinations of their colleague Charminus, along with the conspirators; and provided, for the Samian democracy, faithful auxiliaries constantly ready for action. Presently the conspirators made a violent attack to overthrow the government; but though they chose their own moment and opportunity, they still found themselves thoroughly worsted in the struggle, especially through the energetic aid of the Parali. Thirty of their number were slain in the contest, and three of the most guilty afterwards condemned to banishment. The victorious party took no farther revenge, even upon the remainder of the three hundred conspirators—granted a general amnesty—and did their best to re-establish constitutional and harmonious working of the democracy.

Chaereas, an Athenian trierarch, who had been forward in the contest, was sent in the Paralus the itself to Athens, to make communication of what had occurred. But this democratical crew, on reaching their native city, instead of being received with that welcome which they doubtless expected, found a state of things not less odious than surprising. The democracy of Athens had been subverted : instead of the Senate of Five Hundred, and the assembled people, an oligarchy of Four Hundred self-installed persons were enthroned with sovereign authority in the Senate House. The first order of the Four Hundred, on hearing that the Paralus had entered Perseus, was to imprison two or three of the crew, and to remove all the rest from their own privileged trireme aboard a common trireme, with orders to depart forthwith and to cruise near Euboea. The commander Chaereas found means to escape, and returned back to Samos to tell the unwelcome news.

The steps, whereby this oligarchy of Four Hundred had been gradually raised up to their new power, must be taken up from the time when Peisander quitted Athens,—after having obtained the of the public assembly authorising him to treat with Alcibiades and Tissaphernes,—and after having set on foot a joint organisation and conspiracy of all the anti-popular clubs, which fell under the management especially of Antiphon and Theramenes, afterwards aided by Phrynichus. All the members of that board of Elders called Probuli, who had been named after the defeat in Sicily—with Agnon, father of Theramenes, at their head—together with many other leading citizens, some of whom had been counted among the firmest friends of the democracy, joined the conspiracy; while the oligarchical and the neutral rich came into it with ardour; so that a body of partisans was formed both numerous and well provided with money. Antiphon did not attempt to bring them together, or to make any public demonstration, armed or unarmed, for the purpose of overawing the actual authorities. He permitted the senate and the public assembly to go on meeting and debating as usual; but his partisans, neither the names nor the numbers of whom were publicly known, received from him instructions both when to speak and what language to hold. The great topic upon which they descanted, was the costliness of democratical institutions in the present distressed state of the finances, when tribute from the allies could no longer be reckoned upon—the heavy tax imposed upon the state by paying the Senators, the Dikasts, the Ekklesiasts or citizens who attended the public assembly, &c. The state could now afford to pay none but those soldiers who fought in its defence, nor ought any one else to touch the public money. It was essential (they insisted) to exclude from the political franchise all except a select body of Five Thousand, composed of those who were best able to do service to the city by person and by purse.

The extensive disfranchisement involved in this last proposition was quite sufficiently shocking to the ears of an Athenian assembly. But in reality the proposition was itself a juggle, never intended to become reality, and representing something far short of what Antiphon and his partisans intended. Their design was to appropriate the powers of government to themselves simply, without control or partnership; leaving this body of Five Thousand not merely unconvened, but non-existent, as a mere empty name to impose upon the citizens generally. Of such real intention, however, not a word was as yet spoken. The projected body of Five Thousand was the theme preached upon by all the party orators; yet without submitting any substantive motion for the change, which could not be yet done without illegality.

Even thus indirectly advocated, the project of cutting down the franchise to Five Thousand, and of suppressing all the paid civil functions, was a change sufficiently violent to call forth abundant opponents. For such opponents Antiphon was fully prepared. Of the men who thus stood forward in opposition, either all, or at least all the most prominent, were successively taken off by private assassination. The first of them who thus perished was Androkles, distinguished as a demagogue or popular speaker, and marked out to vengeance not only by that circumstance, but by the farther fact that he had been among the most vehement accusers of Alcibiades before his exile. For at this time, the breach of Peisander with Tissaphernes and Alcibiades had not yet become known at Athens, so that the latter was still supposed to be on the point of returning home as a member of the contemplated oligarchical government. After Androkles, many other speakers of similar sentiments perished in the same way, by unknown hands. A band of Grecian youths, strangers got together from different cities, was organised for the business : the victims were all chosen on the same special ground, and the deed was so skilfully perpetrated that neither director nor instrument ever became known. After these assassinations—sure, special, secret, and systematic, emanating from an unknown Directory like a Vehmic tribunal—had continued for some time, the terror which they inspired became intense and universal. No justice could be had, no inquiry could be instituted, even for the death of the nearest and dearest relative. At last, no man dared to demand or even to mention inquiry, looking upon himself as fortunate that he had escaped the same fate in his own person. So finished an organisation, and such well-aimed blows, raised a general belief that the conspirators were much more numerous than they were in reality. And as it turned out that there were persons among them who had before been accounted hearty democrats, so at last dismay and mistrust became universally prevalent. No one dared even to express indignation at the murders going on, much less to talk about redress or revenge, for fear that he might be communicating with one of the un­known conspirators. In the midst of this terrorism, all opposition ceased in the senate and public assembly, so that the speakers of the conspiring oligarchy appeared to carry an unanimous assent.

Such was the condition to which things had been brought in Athens, by Antiphon and the oligarchical conspirators acting under his direction, at the time when Peisander and the five envoys arrived thither returning from Samos. It is probable that they had previously transmitted home from Samos news of the rupture with Alcibiades, and of the necessity of prosecuting the conspiracy without farther view either to him or to the Persian alliance. Such news would probably be acceptable both to Antiphon and Phrynichus, both of them personal enemies of Alcibiades; especially Phrynichus, who had pronounced him to be incapable of fraternising with an oligarchical revolution. At any rate, the plans of Antiphon had been independent of all view to Persian aid, and had been directed to carry the revolution by means of naked, exorbitant, and well-directed fear, without any intermixture of hope or any prospect of public benefit. Peisander found the reign of terror fully matured. He had not come direct from Samos to Athens, but had halted in his voyage at various allied dependencies—while the other five envoys, as well as a partisan named Diotrephes, had been sent to Thasos and elsewhere; all for the same purpose, of putting down democracies in those allied cities where they existed, and establishing oligarchies in their room. Peisander made this change at Tenos, Andros, Karystus, Aegina, and elsewhere; collecting from these several places a regiment of 300 hoplites, which he brought with him to Athens as a sort of body-guard to his new oligarchy. He could not know, until he reached Piraeus, the full success of the terrorism organised by Antiphon and the rest; so that he probably came prepared to surmount a greater resistance than he actually found. As the facts stood, so completely had the public opinion and spirit been subdued, that he was enabled to put the finishing stroke at once. His arrival was the signal for consummating the revolution; first, by an extorted suspension of the tutelary constitutional sanction—next, by the more direct employment of armed force.

First, he convoked a public assembly, in which he proposed a decree, naming ten commissioners with full powers, to prepare propositions for such political reform as they should think advisable—and to be ready by a given day. According to the usual practice, this decree must previously have been approved in the Senate of Five Hundred, before it was submitted to the people. Such was doubtless the case in the present instance, so that the decree passed without any opposition. On the day fixed, a fresh assembly met, which Peisander and his partisans caused to be held, not in the usual place (called the Pnyx) within the city walls, but at a place called Kolonus, ten stadia (rather more than a mile) without the walls, north of the city. Kolonus was a temple of Poseidon, within the precinct of which the assembly was enclosed for the occasion. Such an assembly was not likely to be numerous, wherever held, since there could be little motive to attend when freedom of debate was extinguished; but the oligarchical conspirators now transferred it without the walls; selecting a narrow area for the meeting—in order that they might lessen still farther the chance of numerous attendance—of an assembly which they fully designed should be the last in the history of Athens. They were thus also more out of the reach of an armed movement in the city, as well as enabled to post their own armed partisans around, under colour of protecting the meeting against disturbance by the Lacedaemonians from Dekeleia.

The proposition of the newly-appointed commissioners (probably Peisander, Antiphon, and other partisans themselves) was exceedingly short and simple. They merely moved the abolition of the celebrated Graphs Paranomon; that is, they proposed that every Athenian citizen should have full liberty of making any anti-constitutional proposition that he chose—and that every other citizen should be interdicted, under heavy penalties, from prosecuting him by Graphs Paranomon (indictment on the score of informality, illegality, or unconstitutionality), or from doing him any other mischief. This proposition was adopted without a single dissentient. It was thought more formal by the directing chiefs to sever this proposition pointedly from the rest, and to put it, singly and apart, into the mouth of the special commissioners; since it was the legalizing condition of every other positive change which they were about to move afterwards. Full liberty being thus granted to make any motion, however anti-constitutional, and to dispense with all the established formalities, such as preliminary authorisation by the senate—Peisander now came forward with his substantive propositions to the following effect:—

1. All the existing democratical magistracies were suppressed at once, and made to cease for the future. 2. No civil functions whatever were here-after to be salaried. 3. To constitute a new government, a committee of five persons were named forthwith, who were to choose a larger body of one hundred (that is, one hundred including the five choosers themselves). Each individual, out of this body of one hundred, was to choose three persons. 4. A body of Four Hundred was thus constituted, who were to take their seat in the Senate-house, and to carry on the government with unlimited powers, according to their own discretion. 5. They were to convene the Five Thousand, whenever they might think fit. All was passed without a dissentient voice.

The invention and employment of this imaginary aggregate of Five Thousand was not the least dexterous among the combinations of Antiphon. No one knew who these Five Thousand were: yet the resolution, just adopted, purported—not that such a number of citizens should be singled out and constituted, either by choice, or by lot, or in some determinate manner which should exhibit them to the view and knowledge of others—but that the Four Hundred should convene The Five Thousand, whenever they thought proper: thus assuming the latter to be a list already made up and notorious, at least to the Four Hundred themselves. The real fact was that the Five Thousand existed nowhere except in the talk and proclamations of the conspirators, as a supplement of fictitious auxiliaries. They did not even exist as individual names on paper, but simply as an imposturous nominal aggregate. The Four Hundred now installed formed the entire and exclusive rulers of the state. But the mere name of the Five Thousand, though it was nothing more than a name, served two important purposes for Antiphon and his conspiracy. First, it admitted of being falsely produced (especially to the armament at Samos) as proof of a tolerably numerous and popular body of equal, qualified, concurrent citizens—all intended to take their turn by rotation in exercising the powers of government; thus lightening the odium of extreme usurpation to the Four Hundred, and passing them off merely as the earliest section of the Five Thousand, put into office for a few months, and destined at the end of that period to give place to another equal section. Next, it immensely augmented the means of intimidation possessed by the Four Hundred at home, by exaggerating the impression of their supposed strength. For the citizens generally were made to believe that there were five thousand real and living partners in the conspiracy; while the fact that these partners were not known and could not be individually identified, rather aggravated the reigning terror and mistrust—since every man, suspecting that his neighbour might possibly be among them, was afraid to communicate his discontent or propose means for joint resistance1. In both these two ways, the name and assumed existence of the Five Thousand lent strength to the real Four Hundred conspirators. It masked their usurpation while it increased their hold on the respect and fears of the citizens.

As soon as the public assembly at Kolonus had with such seeming unanimity accepted all the propositions of Peisander, they were dismissed; and the new regiment of Four Hundred were chosen and constituted in the form prescribed. It now only remained to install them in the Senate-house. But this could not be done without force, since the senators were already within it; having doubtless gone thither immediately from the assembly, where their presence, at least the presence of the prytanes, or Senators of the presiding tribe, was essential as legal presidents. They had to deliberate what they would do under the decree just passed, which divested them of all authority. It was even possible that they might organise armed resistance; for which there seemed more than usual facility at the present moment, since the occupation of Dekeleia by the Lacedaemonians kept Athens in a condition like that of a permanent camp, with a large proportion of the citizens day and night under arms. Against this chance the Four Hundred made provision. They selected that hour of the day when the greater number of citizens habitually went home (probably to their morning meal), leaving the military station, with the arms piled and ready, under comparatively thin watch. While the general body of hoplites left the station at this hour according to the usual practice, the hoplites (Andrian, Tenian and others) in the immediate confidence of the Four Hundred were directed by private order to hold themselves prepared and in arms at a little distance off; so that if any symptoms should appear of resistance being contemplated, they might at once interfere and forestall it. Having taken this precaution, the Four Hundred marched in a body to the Senate-house, each man with a dagger concealed under his garment, and followed by their special body-guard of 120 young men from various Grecian cities—the instruments of the assassinations ordered by Antiphon and his colleagues. In this array they marched into the Senate-house, where the senators were assembled—and commanded them to depart; at the same time tendering to them their pay for all the remainder of the year (seemingly about three months or more down to the beginning of Hekatombaeon, the month of new nominations) during which their functions ought to have continued. The senators were no way prepared to resist the decree just passed under the forms of legality, with an armed body now arrived to enforce its execution. They obeyed and departed, each man as he passed the door receiving the salary tendered to him. That they should yield obedience to superior force under the circumstances, can excite neither censure nor surprise; but that they should accept from the hands of the conspirators this anticipation of an unearned salary, was a meanness which almost branded them as accomplices, and dishonoured the expiring hour of the last democratical authority. The Four Hundred now found themselves triumphantly installed in the Senate-house. There was not the least resistance, either within its walls, or even without, by any portion of the citizens.

Thus perished, or seemed to perish, the democracy of Athens, after an uninterrupted existence of nearly one hundred years since the revolution of Cleisthenes. So incredible did it appear that the numerous, intelligent, and constitutional citizens of Athens should suffer their liberties to be overthrown by a band of four hundred conspirators, while the great mass of them not only loved their democracy, but had arms in their hands to defend it—that even their enemy and neighbour Agis at Dekeleia could hardly imagine the revolution to be a fact accomplished. We shall see presently that it did not stand—nor would it probably have stood, had circumstances even been more favourable—but the accomplishment of it at all, is an incident too extraordinary to be passed over without some words in explanation.

We must remark that the tremendous catastrophe and loss of blood in Sicily had abated the energy of the Athenian character generally—but especially, had made them despair of their foreign relations; of the possibility that they could make head against enemies, increased in number by revolts among their own allies, and farther sustained by Persian gold. Upon this sentiment of despair is brought to bear the treacherous delusion of Alcibiades, offering them the Persian aid; that is, means of defence and success against foreign enemies, at the price of their democracy. Reluctantly the people are brought, but they are brought, to entertain the proposition: and thus the conspirators gain their first capital point—of familiarising the people with the idea of such a change of constitution. The ulterior success of the conspiracy—when all prospect of Persian gold, or improved foreign position, was at an end—is due to the combinations, alike nefarious and skilful, of Antiphon, wielding and organising the united strength of the aristocratical classes at Athens; strength always exceedingly great, but under ordinary circumstances working in fractions disunited and even reciprocally hostile to each other—restrained by the ascendent democratical institutions—and reduced to corrupt what it could not overthrow. Antiphon, about to employ this anti-popular force in one systematic scheme and for the accomplishment of a predetermined purpose, keeps still within the same ostensible constitutional limits. He raises no open mutiny: he maintains inviolate the cardinal point of Athenian political morality—respect to the decision of the senate and political assembly, as well as to constitutional maxims. But he knows well that the value of these meetings, as political securities, depends upon entire freedom of speech; and that if that freedom be suppressed, the assembly itself becomes a nullity—or rather an instrument of positive imposture and mischief. Accordingly he causes all the popular orators to be successively assassinated, so that no man dares to open his mouth on that side; while on the other hand, the anti-popular speakers are all loud and confident, cheering one another on, and seeming to represent all the feeling of the persons present. By thus silencing each individual leader, and intimidating every opponent from standing forward as spokesman, he extorts the formal sanction of the assembly and the senate to measures which the large majority of the citizens detest. That majority however are bound by their own constitutional forms: and when the decision of these, by whatever means obtained, is against them, they have neither the inclination nor the courage to resist. In no part of the world has this sentiment of constitutional duty, and submission to the vote of a legal majority, been more keenly and universally felt, than it was among the citizens of democratical Athens. Antiphon thus finds means to employ the constitutional sentiment of Athens as a means of killing the constitution: the mere empty form, after its vital and protective efficacy has been abstracted, remains simply as a cheat to paralyse individual patriotism.

It was this cheat which rendered the Athenians indisposed to stand forward with arms in defence of that democracy to which they were attached. Accustomed as they were to unlimited pacific consent within the bounds of their constitution, they were in the highest degree averse to anything like armed intestine contention. This is the natural effect of an established free and equal polity—to substitute the contests of the tongue for those of the sword, and sometimes, even to create so extreme a disinclination to the latter, that if liberty be energetically assailed, the counter-energy necessary for its defence may probably be found wanting. So difficult is it for the same people to have both the qualities requisite for making a free constitution work well in ordinary times, together with those very different qualities requisite for upholding it against exceptional dangers and under trying emergences. None but an Athenian of extraordinary ability like Antiphon would have understood the art of thus making the constitutional feeling of his countrymen subservient to the success of his conspiracy—and of maintaining the forms of legal dealing towards assembled and constitutional bodies, while he violated them in secret and successive stabs directed against individuals. Political assassination had been unknown at Athens, (as far as our information reaches) since the time when it was employed about fifty years before by the oligarchical party against Ephialtes, the coadjutor of Perikles. But this had been an individual case, and it was reserved for Antiphon and Phrynichus to organise a band of assassins. working systematically, and taking off a series of leading victims one after the other. As the Macedonian kings in after-times required the surrender of the popular orators in a body, so the authors of this conspiracy found the same enemies to deal with, and adopted another way of getting rid of them; thus reducing the assembly into a tame and lifeless mass, capable of being intimidated into giving its collective sanction to measures which its large majority detested.

As Grecian history has been usually written, we are instructed to believe that the misfortunes, and the corruption, and the degradation of the democratical states are brought upon them by the class of demagogues, of whom Kleon, Hyperbolus, Androkles, &c. stand forth as specimens. These men are represented as mischief-makers and revilers, accusing without just cause, and converting innocence into treason. Now the history of this conspiracy of the Four Hundred presents to us the other side of the picture. It shows that the political enemies—against whom the Athenian people were protected by their democratical institutions, and by the demagogues as living organs of those institutions—were not fictitious but dangerously real. It reveals the continued existence of powerful anti-popular combinations, ready to come together for treasonable purposes when the moment appeared safe and tempting. It manifests the character and morality of the leaders, to whom the direction of the anti-popular force naturally fell. It proves that these leaders, men of uncommon ability, required nothing more than the extinction or silence of the demagogues, to be enabled to subvert the popular securities and get possession of the government. We need no better proof to teach us what was the real function and intrinsic necessity of these demagogues in the Athenian system; taking them as a class, and apart from the manner in which individuals among them may have performed their duty. They formed the vital movement of all that was tutelary and public-spirited in democracy. Aggressive in respect to official delinquents, they were defensive in respect to the public and the constitution. If that anti-popular force, which Antiphon found ready-made, had not been efficient, at a much earlier moment, in stifling the democracy—it was because there were demagogues to cry aloud, as well as assemblies to hear and sustain them. If Antiphon’s conspiracy was successful, it was because he knew where to aim his blows, so as to strike down the real enemies of the oligarchy and the real defenders of the people. I here employ the term demagogues because it is that commonly used by those who denounce the class of men here under review: the proper neutral phrase, laying aside odious associations, would be to call them, popular speakers or opposition speakers. But by whatever name they may be called, it is impossible rightly to conceive their position in Athens, without looking at them in contrast and antithesis with those anti-popular forces against which they formed the indispensable barrier, and which come forth into such manifest and melancholy working under the organising hands of Antiphon and Phrynichus.

As soon as the Four Hundred found themselves formally installed in the Senate-house, they divided themselves by lot into separate prytanies (probably ten in number, consisting of forty members each, like the former Senate of Five Hundred, in order that the distribution of the year to which the people were accustomed might not be disturbed), and then solemnized their installation by prayer and sacrifice. They put to death some political enemies, though not many; they farther imprisoned and banished others, and made large changes in the administration of affairs; carrying everything with a strictness and rigour unknown under the old constitution. It seems to have been proposed among them to pass a vote of restoration to all persons under sentence of exile. But this was rejected by the majority, in order that Alcibiades might not be among the number; nor did they think it expedient, notwithstanding, to pass the law, reserving him as a special exception.

They farther despatched a messenger to Agis at Dekeleia, intimating their wish to treat for peace; which (they affirmed) he ought to be ready to grant to them now that “the faithless Demos” was put down. Agis however, not believing that the Athenian people would thus submit to be deprived of their liberty, anticipated that intestine dissension would certainly break out, or at least that some portion of the Long Walls would be found unguarded, should a foreign army appear. While therefore he declined the overtures for peace, he at the same time sent for reinforcements out of Peloponnesus, and marched with a considerable army, in addition to his own garrison, up to the very walls of Athens. But he found the ramparts carefully manned: no commotion took place within: even a sally was made, in which some advantage was gained over him. He therefore speedily retired, sending back his newly-arrived reinforcements to Peloponnesus; while the Four Hundred, on renewing their advances to him for peace, now found themselves much better received, and were even encouraged to despatch envoys to Sparta itself.

As soon as they had thus got over the first difficulties, and placed matters on a footing which seemed to promise stability, they despatched ten envoys to Samos. Aware beforehand of the danger impending over them in that quarter from the known aversion of the soldiers and seamen to anything in the nature of oligarchy, they had moreover just heard, by the arrival of Chaereas and the Paralus, of the joint attack made by the Athenian and Samian oligarchs, and of its complete failure. Had this event occurred a little earlier, it might perhaps have deterred even some of their own number from proceeding with the revolution at Athens—which was rendered thereby almost sure of failure, from the first. Their ten envoys were instructed to represent at Samos that the recent oligarchy had been established with no views injurious to the city, but on the contrary for the general benefit; that though the Council now installed consisted of Four Hundred only, yet the total number of partisans who had made the revolution and were qualified citizens under it, was Five Thousand; a number greater (they added) than had ever been actually assembled in the Pnyx under the democracy, even for the most important debates, in consequence of the unavoidable absences of numerous individuals on military service and foreign travel.

What satisfaction might have been given, by this allusion to the fictitious Five Thousand, or by fallacious reference to the numbers, real or pretended, of the past democratical assemblies—had these envoys carried to Samos the first tidings of the Athenian revolution—we cannot say. They were forestalled by Chaereas the officer of the Paralus; who, though the Four Hundred tried to detain him, made his escape and hastened to Samos to communicate the fearful and unexpected change which had occurred at Athens. Instead of hearing that change described under the treacherous extenuations prescribed by Antiphon and Phrynichus, the armament first learnt it from the lips of Chaereas, who told them at once the extreme truth—and even more than the truth. He recounted with indignation that every Athenian, who ventured to say a word against the Four Hundred rulers of the city, was punished with the scourge—that even the wives and children of persons hostile to them were outraged—that there was a design of seizing and imprisoning the relatives of the democrats at Samos, and putting them to death if the latter refused to obey orders from Athens. The simple narrative, of what had really occurred, would have been quite sufficient to provoke in the armament a sentiment of detestation against the Four Hundred. But these additional details of Chaereas, partly untrue, filled them with uncontrollable wrath, which they manifested by open menace against the known partisans of the Four Hundred at Samos, as well as against those who had taken part in the recent oligarchical conspiracy in the island. It was not without difficulty that their hands were arrested by the more reflecting citizens present, who remonstrated against the madness of such disorderly proceedings when the enemy was close upon them.

But though violence and aggressive insult were thus seasonably checked, the sentiment of the armament was too ardent and unanimous to be satisfied without some solemn, emphatic, and decisive declaration against the oligarchs at Athens. A great democratical manifestation, of the most earnest and imposing character, was proclaimed, chiefly at the instance of Thrasybulus and Thrasyllus. The Athenian armament, brought together in one grand assembly, took an oath by the most stringent sanctions—To maintain their democracy—To keep up friendship and harmony with each other—To carry on the war against the Peloponnesians with energy—To be at enmity with the Four Hundred at Athens, and to enter into no amicable communication with them whatever. The whole armament swore to this compact with enthusiasm, and even those who had before taken part in the oligarchical movements were forced to be forward in the ceremony. What lent double force to this touching scene, was, that the entire Samian population, every male of the military age, took the oath along with the friendly armament. Both pledged themselves to mutual fidelity and common suffering or triumph, whatever might be the issue of the contest. Both felt that the Peloponnesians at Miletus, and the Four Hundred at Athens, were alike their enemies, and that the success of either would be their common ruin.

Pursuant to this resolution—of upholding their democracy and at the same time sustaining the war against the Peloponnesians, at all cost or peril to themselves—the soldiers of the armament now took a step unparalleled in Athenian history. Feeling that they could no longer receive orders from Athens under her present oligarchical rulers, with whom Charminus and others among their own leaders were implicated, they constituted themselves into a sort of community apart, and held an assembly as citizens to choose anew their generals and trierarchs. Of those already in command, several were deposed as unworthy of trust; others being elected in their places, especially Thrasybulus and Thrasyllus. The assembly was not held for election alone. It was a scene of effusive sympathy, animating eloquence, and patriotism generous as well as resolute. The united armament felt that they were the real Athens; the guardians of her constitution—the upholders of her remaining empire and glory—the protectors of her citizens at home against those conspirators who had intruded themselves wrongfully into the Senate-house—the sole barrier, even for those conspirators themselves, against the hostile Peloponnesian fleet. “The city has revolted from us” (exclaimed Thrasybulus and others in pregnant words which embodied a whole train of feeling). “But let not this abate our courage: for they are only the lesser force—we are the greater and the self-sufficing. We have here the whole navy of the state, whereby we can en­sure to ourselves the contributions from our dependencies just as well as if we started from Athens. We have the hearty attachment of Samos, second in power only to Athens herself, and serving us as a military station against the enemy, now as in the past. We are better able to obtain supplies for ourselves, than those in the city for themselves; for it is only through our presence at Samos that they have hitherto kept the mouth of Piraeus open. If they refuse to restore to us our democratical constitution, we shall be better able to exclude them from the sea than they to exclude us. What indeed does the city do now for us to second our efforts against the enemy? Little or nothing. We have lost nothing by their separation. They send us no pay—they leave us to provide maintenance for ourselves—they are now out of condition for sending us even good counsel, which is the great superiority of a city over a camp. As counsellors, we here are better than they; for they have just committed the wrong of subverting the constitution of our common country—while we are striving to maintain it, and will do our best to force them into the same track. Alcibiades, if we ensure to him a safe restoration, will cheerfully bring the alliance of Persia to sustain us; and even if the worst comes to the worst—if all other hopes fail us—our powerful naval force will always enable us to find places of refuge in abundance, with city and territory adequate to our wants”.

Such was the encouraging language of Thrasyllus and Thrasybulus, which found full sympathy in the armament, and raised among them a spirit of energetic patriotism and resolution, not unworthy of their forefathers when refugees at Salamis under the invasion of Xerxes. To regain their democracy and to sustain the war against the Peloponnesians, were impulses alike ardent and blended in the same tide of generous enthusiasm; a tide so vehement as to sweep before it the reluctance of that minority who had before been inclined to the oligarchical movement. But besides these two impulses, there was also a third, tending towards the recall of Alcibiades; a coadjutor, if in many ways useful, yet bringing with him a spirit of selfishness and duplicity uncongenial to the exalted sentiment now all-powerful at Samos.

This exile had been the first to originate the oligarchical conspiracy, whereby Athens, already scarcely adequate to the exigencies of her foreign war, was now paralysed in courage and torn by civil discord—preserved from absolute ruin only by that counter-enthusiasm which a fortunate turn of circumstances had raised up at Samos. Having at first duped the conspirators themselves and enabled them to dupe the sincere democrats, by promising Persian aid, and thus floating the plot over its first and greatest difficulties—Alcibiades had found himself constrained to break with them as soon as the time came for realising his promises. But he had broken off with so much address as still to keep up the illusion that he could realise them if he chose. His return by means of the oligarchy being now impossible, he naturally became its enemy, and this new antipathy superseded his feeling of revenge against the democracy for having banished him. In fact he was disposed, as Phrynichus had truly said about him, to avail himself indifferently of either, according as the one or the other presented itself as a serviceable agency for his ambitious views. Accordingly, as soon as the turn of affairs at Samos had made itself manifest, he opened communication with Thrasybulus and the democratical leaders, renewing to them the same promises of Persian alliance, on condition of his own restoration, as he had before made to Peisander and the oligarchical party. Thrasybulus and his colleagues either sincerely believed him, or at least thought that his restoration afforded a possibility, not to be neglected, of obtaining Persian aid, without which they despaired of the war. Such possibility would at least infuse spirit into the soldiers; while the restoration was now proposed without the terrible condition which had before accompanied it, of renouncing the democratical constitution.

It was not without difficulty, however, nor until more than one assembly and discussion, that Thrasybulus prevailed on the armament to pass a vote of security and restoration to Alcibiades. As Athenian citizens, the soldiers probably were unwilling to take upon them the reversal of a sentence solemnly passed by the democratical tribunal, on the ground of irreligion with suspicion of treason. They were however induced to pass the vote, after which Thrasybulus sailed over to the Asiatic coast, brought across Alcibiades to the island, and introduced him to the assembled armament. The supple exile, who had denounced the democracy so bitterly both at Sparta, and in his correspondence with the oligarchical conspirators, knew well how to adapt himself to the sympathies of the democratical assembly now before him. He began by deploring the sentence of banishment passed against him, and throwing the blame of it, not upon the injustice of his countrymen, but upon his own unhappy destiny. He then entered upon the public prospects of the moment, pledging himself with entire confidence to realise the hopes of Persian alliance, and boasting in terms not merely ostentatious but even extravagant, of the ascendant influence which he possessed over Tissaphernes. The satrap had promised him (so the speech went on) never to let the Athenians want for pay, as soon as he once came to trust them; not even if it were necessary to issue out his last daric or to coin his own silver couch into money. Nor would he require any farther condition to induce him to trust them, except that Alcibiades should be restored and should become their guarantee. Not only would he furnish the Athenians with pay, but he would, besides, bring up to their aid the Phoenician fleet, which was already at Aspendus—instead of placing it at the disposal of the Peloponnesians.

In the communications of Alcibiades with Peisander and his coadjutors, Alcibiades had pretended that the Great King could have no confidence in Athenians unless they not only restored him, but abnegated their democracy. On this occasion, the latter condition was withdrawn, and the confidence of the Great King was said to be more easily accorded. But though Alcibiades thus presented himself with a new falsehood, as well as with a new vein of political sentiment, his discourse was eminently successful. It answered all the various purposes which he contemplated—partly of intimidating and disuniting the oligarchical conspirators at home—partly of exalting his own grandeur in the eyes of the armament—partly of sowing mistrust between the Spartans and Tissaphernes. It was in such full harmony with both the reigning feelings of the armament—eagerness to put down the Four Hundred, as well as to get the better of their Peloponnesian enemies in Ionia—that the hearers were not disposed to scrutinize narrowly the grounds upon which his assurances rested. In the fullness of confidence and enthusiasm, they elected him general along with Thrasybulus and the rest; conceiving redoubled hopes of victory over their enemies both at Athens and at Miletus. So completely indeed were their imaginations filled with the prospect of Persian aid, against their enemies in Ionia, that alarm for the danger of Athens under the government of the Four Hundred became the predominant feeling; and many voices were even raised in favour of sailing to Piraeus for the rescue of the city. But Alcibiades, knowing well (what the armament did not know) that his own promises of Persian pay and fleet were a mere delusion, strenuously dissuaded such a movement, which would have left the dependencies in Ionia defenseless against the Peloponnesians. As soon as the assembly broke up, he crossed over again to the mainland, under pretence of concerting measures with Tissaphernes to realise his recent engagements.

Relieved, substantially though not in strict form, the penalties of exile, Alcibiades was thus launched in a new career. After having first played the game of Athens against Sparta, next that of Sparta against Athens, thirdly that of Tissaphernes against both—he now professed to take up again the promotion of Athenian interests. In reality, however, he was, and had always been, playing his own game, or obeying his own self-interest, ambition, or antipathy. He was at this time eager to make a show of intimate and confidential communication with Tissaphernes, in order that he might thereby impose upon the Athenians at Samos; to communicate to the satrap his recent election as general of the Athenian force, that his importance with the Persians might be enhanced; and lastly, by passing backwards and forwards from Tissaphernes to the Athenian camp, to exhibit an appearance of friendly concert between the two, which might sow mistrust and alarm in the minds of the Peloponnesians. In this tripartite manoeuvring, so suitable to his habitual character, he was more or less successful; especially in regard to the latter purpose. For though he never had any serious chance of inducing Tissaphernes to assist the Athenians, he did nevertheless contribute to alienate him from the enemy, as well as the enemy from him1.

Without any longer delay in the camp of Tissaphernes than was necessary to keep up the faith of the Athenians in his promise of Persian aid, Alcibiades returned to Samos, where he was found by the ten envoys sent by the Four Hundred from Athens, on their first arrival. These envoys had been long in their voyage; having made a considerable stay at Delos, under alarm from intelligence of the previous visit of Chaereas, and the furious indignation which his narrative had provoked. At length they reached Samos, and were invited by the generals to make their communication to the assembled armament. They had the utmost difficulty in procuring a bearing—so strong was the antipathy against them—so loud were the cries that the subverters of the democracy ought to be put to death. Silence being at length obtained, they proceeded to state that the late revolution had been brought to pass for the salvation of the city, and especially for the economy of the public treasure, by suppressing the salaried civil functions of the democracy, and thus leaving more pay for the soldiers : that there was no purpose of mischief in the change, still less of betrayal to the enemy, which might already have been effected, had such been the intention of the Four Hundred, when Agis advanced from Dekeleia up to the walls: that the citizens, now possessing the political franchise, were, not Four Hundred only, but Five Thousand in number, all of whom would take their turn in rotation for the places now occupied by the Four Hundred: that the recitals of Chaereas, affirming ill-usage to have been offered to the relatives of the soldiers at Athens, were utterly false and calumnious.

Such were the topics on which the envoys insisted, in an apologetic strain, at considerable length, but without any effect in conciliating the soldiers who heard them. The general resentment against the F0ur Hundred was expressed by several persons present in public speech, by others in private manifestation of feeling against the envoys: and so passionately was this sentiment aggravated—consisting not only of wrath for what the oligarchy had done, but of fear for what they might do—that the proposition of sailing immediately to the Piraeus was revived with greater ardour than before. Alcibiades, who had already once discountenanced this design, now stood forward to repel it again. Nevertheless all the plenitude of his influence, then greater than that of any other officer in the armament, and seconded by the esteemed character as well as the loud voice of Thrasybulus, was required to avert it. But for him it would have been executed. While he reproved and silenced those who were most clamorous against the envoys, he took upon himself to give to the latter a public answer in the name of the collective armament. “We make no objection (he said) to the power of the Five Thousand: but the Four Hundred must go about their business, and reinstate the Senate of Five Hundred as it was before. We are much obliged for what you have done in the way of economy, so as to increase the pay available for the soldiers. Above all, maintain the war strenuously, without any flinching before the enemy. For if the city be now safely held, there is good hope that we may make up the mutual differences between us by amicable settlement; but if once either of us perish, either we here or you at home, there will be no­thing left for the other to make up with”.

With this reply he dismissed the envoys; the armament reluctantly abandoning their wish of sailing to Athens. Thucydides insists much on the capital service which Alcibiades then rendered to his country, by arresting a project which would have had the effect of leaving all Ionia and the Hellespont defenseless against the Peloponnesians. His advice doubtless turned out well in the result; yet if we contemplate the state of affairs at the moment when he gave it, we shall be inclined to doubt whether prudential calculation was not rather against him, and in favour of the impulse of the armament. For what was to hinder the Four Hundred from patching up a peace with Sparta, and getting a Lacedaemonian garrison into Athens to help them in maintaining their dominion? Even apart from ambition, this was their best chance, if not their only chance, of safety for themselves; and we shall presently see that they tried to do it—being prevented from succeeding, partly indeed by the mutiny which arose against them at Athens, but still more by the stupidity of the Lacedaemonians themselves. Alcibiades could not really imagine that the Four Hundred would obey his mandate delivered to the envoys, and resign their power voluntarily. But if they remained masters of Athens, who could calculate what they would do—after having received this declaration of hostility from Samos—not merely in regard to the foreign enemy, but even in regard to the relatives of the absent soldiers? Whether we look to the legitimate apprehensions of the soldiers, inevitable while their relatives were thus exposed, and almost unnerving them as to the hearty prosecution of the war abroad in their utter uncertainty with regard to matters at home—or to the chance of irreparable public calamity, greater even than the loss of Ionia, by the betrayal of Athens to the enemy—we shall be disposed to conclude that the impulse of the armament was not merely natural, but even founded on a more prudent estimate of the actual chances, and that Alcibiades was nothing more than fortunate in a sanguine venture. And if, instead of the actual chances, we look to the chances as Alcibiades represented, and as the armament conceived them upon his authority—viz. that the Phoenician fleet was close at hand to act against the Lacedaemonians in Ionia—we shall sympathise yet more with the defensive movement homeward. Alcibiades had an advantage over every one else, simply by knowing his own falsehoods.

At the same assembly were introduced envoys from Argos, bearing a mission of recognition and an offer of aid to the Athenian Demos in Samos. They came in an Athenian trireme, navigated by the Parali who had brought home Chaereas in the Paralus from Samos to Athens, and had been then transferred into a common ship of war, and sent to cruise about Euboea. Since that time, however, they had been directed to convey Laespodias, Aristophon, and Melesias, as ambassadors from the Four Hundred to Sparta. But when crossing the Argolic Gulf, probably under orders to land at Prasiae, they declared against the oligarchy, sailed to Argos, and there deposited as prisoners the three ambassadors, who had all been active in the conspiracy of the Four Hundred. Being then about to depart for Samos, they were requested by the Argeians to carry thither their envoys, who were dismissed by Alcibiades with an expression of gratitude, and with a hope that their aid would be ready when called for.

Meanwhile the envoys returned from Samos to of Athens, carrying back to the Four Hundred the unwelcome news of their total failure with the armament. A little before, it appears, some of the trierarchs on service at the Hellespont had returned to Athens also—Eratosthenes, Iatrokles and others, who had tried to turn their squadron to the purposes of the oligarchical conspirators, but had been baffled and driven off by the inflexible democracy of their own seamen1. If at Athens, the calculations of these conspirators had succeeded more triumphantly than could have been expected beforehand, everywhere else they had completely miscarried; not merely at Samos and in the fleet, but also with the allied dependencies. At the time when Peisander quitted Samoa for Athens to consummate the oligarchical conspiracy even without Alcibiades, he and others had gone round many of the dependencies and had effected a similar revolution in their internal government, in hopes that they would thus become attached to the new oligarchy at Athens. But this anticipation (as Phrynichus had predicted) was nowhere realised. The newly-created oligarchies only became more anxious for complete autonomy than the democracies had been before. At Thasos especially, a body of exiles who had for some time dwelt in Peloponnesus were recalled, and active preparations were made for revolt, by new fortifications as well as by new triremes. Instead of strengthening their hold on the maritime empire, the Four Hundred thus found that they had actually weakened it; while the pronounced hostility of the armament at Samos not only put an end to all their hopes abroad, but rendered their situation at home altogether precarious.

From the moment when the coadjutors of Antiphon first learned, through the arrival of Chaereas at Athens, the proclamation of the democracy at Samos, discord, mistrust, and alarm began to spread even among their own members; together with a conviction that the oligarchy could never stand except through the presence of a Peloponnesian garrison in Athens. While Antiphon and Phrynichus, the leading minds who directed the majority of the Four Hundred, despatched envoys to Sparta for concluding peace,—these envoys never reached Sparta, being seized by the parali and sent prisoners to Argos, as above stated, and commenced the erection of a special fort at Ectioneia, the projecting mole which contracted and commanded, on the northern side, the narrow entrance of Piraeus, there began to arise even in the bosom of the Four Hundred an opposition minority affecting popular sentiment, among whom the most conspicuous persons were Theramenes and Aristocrates.

Though these men had stood forward prominently as contrivers and actors throughout the whole progress of the conspiracy, they now found themselves bitterly disappointed by the result. Individually, their ascendency with their colleagues was inferior to that of Peisander, Kallaeschrus, Phrynichus, and others; while, collectively, the ill-gotten power of the Four Hundred was diminished in value, as much as it was aggravated in peril, by the loss of the foreign empire and the alienation of their Samian armament. Now began the workings of jealousy and strife among the successful conspirators, each of whom had entered into the scheme with unbounded expectations of personal ambition for himself, each had counted on stepping at once into the first place among the new oligarchical body. In a democracy, observes Thucydides, contentions for power and preeminence provoke in the unsuccessful competitors less of fierce antipathy and sense of injustice, than in an oligarchy; for the losing candidates acquiesce with comparatively little repugnance, in the unfavorable vote of a large miscellaneous body of unknown citizens; but they are angry at being put aside by a few known comrades, their rivals as well as their equals : moreover, at the moment when an oligarchy of ambitious men has just raised itself on the ruins of a democracy, every man of the conspirators is in exaggerated expectation; every one thinks himself entitled to become at once the first man of the body, and is dissatisfied if he be merely put upon level with the rest.

Such were the feelings of disappointed ambition, mingled with despondency, which sprung up among a minority of the Four Hundred, immediately after the news of the proclamation of the democracy at Samos among the armament. Theramenes, the leader of this minority,—a man of keen ambition, clever but unsteady and treacherous, not less ready to desert his party than to betray his country, though less prepared for extreme atrocities than many of his oligarchical comrades, began to look out for a good pretext to disconnect himself from a precarious enterprise. Taking advantage of the delusion which the Four Hundred had themselves held out about the fictitious Five Thousand, he insisted that, since the dangers that beset the newly-formed authority were so much more formidable than had been anticipated, it was necessary to popularize the party by enrolling and producing these Five Thousand as a real instead of a fictitious body. Such an opposition, formidable from the very outset, became still bolder and more developed when the envoys returned from Samos, with an account of their reception by the armament, as well as of the answer, delivered in the name of the armament, whereby Alcibiades directed the Four Hundred to dissolve themselves forthwith, but at the same time approved of the constitution of the Five Thousand, coupled with the restoration of the old senate. To enroll the Five Thousand at once, would be meeting the army half way; and there were hopes that, at that price, a compromise and reconciliation might be effected, of which Alcibiades had himself spoken as practicable. In addition to the formal answer, the envoys doubtless brought back intimation of the enraged feelings manifested by the armament, and of their eagerness, uncontrollable by every one except Alcibiades, to sail home forthwith and rescue Athens from the Four Hundred. Hence arose an increased conviction that the dominion of the latter could not last: and an ambition, on the part of others as well as Theramenes, to stand forward as leaders of a popular opposition against it, in the name of the Five Thousand.

Against this popular opposition, Antiphon and Phrynichus exerted themselves, with demagogic assiduity, to caress and keep together the majority of the Four Hundred, as well as to uphold their power without abridgment. They were noway disposed to comply with this requisition that the fiction of the Five Thousand should be converted into a reality. They knew well that the enrollment of so many partners1 would be tantamount to a democracy, and would be, in substance at least, if not in form, an annihilation of their own power. They had now gone too far to recede with safety; while the menacing attitude of Samos, as well as the opposition growing up against them at home, both within and without their own body, served only as instigation to them to accelerate their measures for peace with Sparta, and to secure the introduction of a Spartan garrison.

With this view, immediately after the return of their envoys from Samos, the two most eminent leaders, Antiphon and Phrynichus; went themselves with ten other colleagues in all haste to Sparta, prepared to purchase peace and the promise of Spartan aid almost at any price. At the same time, the construction of the fortress at Ectioneia was prosecuted with redoubled zeal; under pretext of defending the entrance of Piraeus against the armament from Samos, if the threat of their coming should be executed, but with the real purpose of bringing into it a Lacedaemonian fleet and army. For this latter object every facility was provided. The northwestern corner of the fortification of Piraeus, to the north of the harbor and its mouth, was cut off by a cross wall reaching southward so as to join the harbor : from the southern end of this cross wall, and forming an angle with it, a new wall was built, fronting the harbor and running to the extremity of the mole which narrowed the mouth of the harbor on the northern side, at which mole it met the termination of the northern wall of Piraeus. A separate citadel was thus inclosed, defensible against any attack either from Piraeus or from the harbor; furnished, besides, with distinct broad gates and posterns of its own, as well as with facilities for admitting an enemy within it. The new cross wall was carried so as to traverse a vast portico, or open market-house, the largest in Piraeus : the larger half of this portico thus became inclosed within the new citadel; and orders were issued that all the corn, both actually warehoused and hereafter to be imported into Piraeus, should be deposited therein and sold out from thence for consumption. As Athens was sustained almost exclusively on corn brought from Euboea and elsewhere, since the permanent occupation of Dekeleia, the Four Hundred rendered themselves masters by this arrangement of all the subsistence of the citizens, as well as of the entrance into the harbor; either to admit the Spartans or exclude the armament from Samos.

Though Theramenes, himself one of the generals named under the Four Hundred, denounced, in conjunction with his supporters, the treasonable purpose of this new citadel, yet the majority of the Four Hundred stood to their resolution, and the building made rapid progress under the superintendence of the general Alexikles, one of the most strenuous of the oligarchical faction. Such was the habit of obedience at Athens to an established authority, when once constituted,—and so great the fear and mistrust arising out of the general belief in the reality of the Five Thousand unknown auxiliaries, supposed to be prepared to enforce the orders of the Four Hundred,—that the people, and even armed citizen hoplites, went on working at the building, in spite of their suspicions as to its design. Though not completed, it was so far advanced as to be defensible, when Antiphon and Phrynichus returned from Sparta. They had gone thither prepared to surrender everything,—not merely their naval force, but their city itself,—and to purchase their own personal safety by making the Lacedaemonians masters of Piraeus. Yet we read with astonishment that the latter could not be prevailed on to contract any treaty, and that they manifested nothing but backwardness in seizing this golden opportunity. Had Alcibiades been now playing their game, as he had been doing a year earlier, immediately before the revolt of Chios,—had they been under any energetic leaders, to impel them into hearty cooperation with the treason of the Four Hundred, who combined at this moment both the will and the power to place Athens in their hands, if seconded by an adequate force,— they might now have overpowered their great enemy at home, before the armament at Samos could have been brought to the rescue.

Considering that Athens was saved from capture only by the slackness and stupidity of the Spartans, we may see that the armament at Samos had reasonable excuse for their eagerness previously manifested to come home; and that Alcibiades, in combating that intention, braved an extreme danger which nothing but incredible good fortune averted. Why the Lacedaemonians remained idle, both in Peloponnesus and at Dekeleia, while Athens was thus betrayed, and in the very throes of dissolution, we can render no account: possibly, the caution of the ephors may have distrusted Antiphon and Phrynichus, from the mere immensity of their concessions. All that they would promise was, that a Lacedaemonian fleet of forty-two triremes, partly from Tarentum and Lokri, now about to start from Las in the Laconian gulf, and to sail to Euboea on the invitation of a disaffected party in that island, should so far depart from its straight course as to hover near Aegina and Piraeus, ready to take advantage of any opportunity for attack laid open by the Four Hundred.

Of this squadron, however, even before it rounded Cape Malea, Theramenes obtained intelligence, and denounced it as intended to operate in concert with the Four Hundred for the occupation of Ectioneia. Meanwhile Athens became daily a scene of greater discontent and disorder, after the abortive embassy and return from Sparta of Antiphon and Phrynichus. The coercive ascendency of the Four Hundred was silently disappearing, while the hatred which their usurpation had inspired, together with the fear of their traitorous concert with the public enemy, became more and more loudly manifested in men’s private conversations as well as in gatherings secretly got together within numerous houses; especially the house of the peripolarch, the captain of the peripoli, or youthful hoplites, who formed the chief police of the country. Such hatred was not long in passing from vehement passion into act. Phrynichus, as he left the senate-house, was assassinated by two confederates, one of them a peripolus, or youthful hoplite, in the midst of the crowded market-place and in full daylight. The man who struck the blow made his escape, but his comrade was seized and put to the torture by order of the Four Hundred : he was however a stranger, from Argos, and either could not or would not reveal the name of any directing accomplice. Nothing was obtained from him except general indications of meetings and widespread disaffection. Nor did the Four Hundred, being thus left without special evidence, dare to lay hands upon Theramenes, the pronounced leader of the opposition, as we shall find Critias doing six years afterwards, under the rule of the Thirty. The assassins of Phrynichus remaining undiscovered and unpunished, Theramenes and his associates became bolder in their opposition than before. And the approach of the Lacedaemonian fleet under Agesandridas,—which, having now taken station at Epidaurus, had made a descent on Aegina, and was hovering not far off Piraeus, altogether out of the straight course for Euboea,— lent double force to all their previous assertions about the imminent dangers connected with the citadel at Ectioneia.

Amidst this exaggerated alarm and discord, the general body of hoplites became penetrated with aversion, every day increasing, against the new citadel. At length the hoplites of the tribe in which Aristokrates, the warmest partisan of Theramenes was taxiarch, being on duty and engaged in the prosecution of the building, broke out into absolute mutiny against it, seized the person of Alexikles, the general in command, and put him under arrest in a neighboring house; while the peripoli, or youthful military police, stationed at Munychia, under Hermon, abetted them in the proceeding. News of this violence was speedily conveyed to the Four Hundred, who were at that moment holding session in the senate-house, Theramenes himself being present. Their wrath and menace were at first vented against him as the instigator of the revolt, a charge against which he could only vindicate himself by volunteering to go among the foremost for the liberation of the prisoner. He forthwith started in haste for the Piraeus, accompanied by one of the generals, his colleague, who was of the same political sentiment as himself. A third among the generals, Aristarchus, one of the fiercest of the oligarchs, followed him, probably from mistrust, together with some of the younger knights, horsemen, or richest class in the state, identified with the cause of the Four Hundred. The oligarchical partisans ran to marshal themselves in arms, alarming exaggerations being rumored, that Alexikles had been put to death, and that Piraeus was under armed occupation; while at Piraeus the insurgents imagined that the hoplites from the city were in full march to attack them. For a time all was confusion and angry sentiment, which the slightest untoward accident might have inflamed into sanguinary civil carnage. Nor was it appeased except by earnest in treaty and remonstrance from the elder citizens, aided by Thucydides of Pharsalus, proxenus or public guest of Athens, in his native town, on the ruinous madness of such discord when a foreign enemy was almost at their gates.

The perilous excitement of this temporary crisis, which brought into full daylight every man’s real political sentiments, proved the oligarchical faction, hitherto exaggerated in number, to be far less powerful than had been imagined by their opponents. And the Four Hundred had found themselves too much embarrassed how to keep up the semblance of their authority even in Athens itself, to be able to send down any considerable force for the protection of their citadel at Ectioneia; though they were reinforced, only eight days before their fall, by at least one supplementary member, probably in substitution for some predecessor who had accidentally died. Theramenes, on reaching Piraeus, began to address the mutinous hoplites in atone of simulated displeasure, while Aristarchus and his oligarchical companions spoke in the harshest language, and threatened them with the force which they imagined to be presently coming down from the city. But these menaces were met by equal firmness on the part of the hoplites, who even appealed to Theramenes himself, and called upon him to say whether he thought the construction of this citadel was for the good of Athens, or whether it would not be better demolished. His opinion had been fully pronounced beforehand; and he replied, that if they thought proper to demolish it, he cordially concurred. Without farther delay, hoplites and unarmed people mounted pell-mell upon the walls, and commenced the demolition with alacrity; under the general shout, “Whoever is for the Five Thousand in place of the Four Hundred, let him lend a hand in this work”. The idea of the old democracy was in every one’s mind, but no man uttered the word; the fear of the imaginary Five Thousand still continuing. The work of demolition seems to have been prosecuted all that day, and not to have been completed until the next day; after which the hoplites released Alexikles from arrest, without doing him any injury.

Two things deserve notice, among these details, as illustrating the Athenian character. Though Alexikles was vehemently oligarchical as well as unpopular, these mutineers do no harm to his person, but content themselves with putting him under arrest. Next, they do not venture to commence the actual demolition of the citadel, until they have the formal sanction of Theramenes, one of the constituted generals. The strong habit of legality, implanted in all Athenian citizens by their democracy—and the care, even in departing from it, to depart as little as possible,—stand plainly evidenced in these proceedings.

The events of this day gave a fatal shock to the ascendency of the Four Hundred; yet they assembled on the morrow as usual in the senate-house; and they appear now, when it was too late, to have directed one of their members to draw up a real list, giving body to the fiction of the Five Thousand. Meanwhile the hoplites in Piraeus, having finished the levelling of the new fortifications, took the still, more important step of entering, armed as they were, into the theatre of Dionysus hard by, in Piraeus, but on the verge of Munychia, and there holding a formal assembly; probably under the convocation of the general Theramenes, pursuant to the forms of the anterior democracy. They here took the resolution of adjourning their assembly to the Anakeion, or temple of Castor and Pollux, the Dioskuri, in the city itself and close under the acropolis; whither they, immediately marched and established themselves, still retaining their arms. So much was the position of the Four Hundred changed, that they who had on the preceding day been on the aggressive against a spontaneous outburst of mutineers in Piraeus, were now thrown upon the defensive against a formal assembly, all armed, in the city, and close by their own senate-house. Feeling themselves too weak to attempt any force, they sent deputies to the Anakeion to negotiate and offer concessions. They engaged to publish the list of The Five Thousand, and to convene them for the purpose of providing for the periodical cessation and renewal of the Four Hundred, by rotation from the Five Thousand, in such order as the latter themselves should determine. But they entreated that time might be allowed for effecting this, and that internal peace might be maintained, without which there was no hope of defence against the enemy without. Many of the hoplites in the city itself joined the assembly in the Anakeion, and took part in the debates. The position of the Four Hundred being no longer such as to inspire fear, the tongues of speakers were now again loosed, and the ears of the multitude again opened, for the first time since the arrival of Peisander from Samos, with the plan of the oligarchical conspiracy. Such renewal of free and fearless public speech, the peculiar life-principle of the democracy, was not less wholesome in tranquillizing intestine discord than in heightening the sentiment of common patriotism against the foreign enemy. The assembly at length dispersed, after naming an early future time for a second assembly, to bring about the reestablishment of harmony in the theatre of Dionysus.

On the day, and at the hour, when this assembly in the theatre of Dionysus was on the point of coming together, the news ran through Piraeus and Athens, that the forty-two triremes under the Lacedaemonian Agesandridas, having recently quitted the harbor of Megara, were sailing along the coast of Salamis in the direction towards Piraeus. Such an event, while causing universal consternation throughout the city, confirmed all the previous warnings of Theramenes as to the treasonable destination of the citadel recently demolished, and every one rejoiced that the demolition had been accomplished just in time. Foregoing their intended assembly, the citizens rushed with one accord down to Piraeus, where some of them took post to garrison the walls and the mouth of the harbor; others got aboard the triremes lying in the harbor: others, again, launched some fresh triremes from the boat-houses into the water. Agesandridas rowed along the shore, near the mouth of Piraeus; but found nothing to promise concert within, or tempt him to the intended attack. Accordingly, he passed by and moved onward to Sunium, in a southerly direction. Having doubled the Cape of Sunium, he then turned his course along the coast of Attica northward, halted for a little while between Thorikus and Prasiae, and presently took station at Oropus.

Though relieved, when they found that he passed by Piraeus without making any attack, the Athenians knew that his destination must now be against Euboea; which to them was hardly less important than Piraeus, since their main supplies were derived from that island. Accordingly, they put to sea at once with all the triremes which could be manned and got ready in the harbor. But from the hurry of the occasion, coupled with the mistrust and dissension now reigning, and the absence of their great naval force at Samos, the crews mustered were raw and ill-selected, and the armament inefficient. Polystratus, one of the members of the Four Hundred, perhaps others of them also, were aboard; men who had an interest in defeat rather than victory. Thymochares, the admiral, conducted them round Cape Sunium to Eretria in Euboea, where he found a few other triremes, which made up his whole fleet to thirty-six sail.

He had scarcely reached the harbor and disembarked, when, without allowing time for his men to procure refreshment, he found himself compelled to fight a battle with the forty-two ships of Agesandridas, who had just sailed across from Oropus, and was already approaching the harbor. This surprise had been brought about by the anti-Athenian party in Eretria, who took care, on the arrival of Thymochares, that no provisions should be found in the market-place, so that his men were compelled to disperse and obtain them from houses at the extremity of the town; while at the same time a signal was hoisted, visible at Oropus on the opposite side of the strait, less than seven miles broad, indicating to Agesandridas the precise moment for bringing his fleet across to the attack, with their crews fresh after the morning meal. Thymochares, on seeing the approach of the enemy, ordered his men aboard; but, to his disappointment, many of them were found to be so far off that they could not be brought back in time, so that he was compelled to sail out and meet the Peloponnesians with ships very inadequately manned. In a battle immediately outside of the Eretrian harbor, he was, after a short contest, completely defeated, and his fleet driven back upon the shore. Some of his ships escaped to Chalcis, others to a fortified post garrisoned by the Athenians themselves, not far from Eretria; yet not less than twenty-two triremes, out of the whole thirty-six, fell into the hands of Agesandridas, and a large proportion of the crews were slain or made prisoners. Of those seamen who escaped, too, many found their death from the hands of the Eretrians, into whose city they fled for shelter. On the news of this battle, not merely Eretria, but also all Euboea, — except Oreus in the north of the island, which was settled by Athenian kleruchs,— declared its revolt from Athens, which had been intended more than a year before, and took measures for defending itself in concert with Agesandridas and the Boeotians.

Ill could Athens endure a disaster, in itself so immense and aggravated, under the present distressed condition of the city. Her last fleet was destroyed, her nearest and most precious island torn from her side; an island, which of late had yielded more to her wants than Attica itself, but which was now about to become a hostile and aggressive neighbor. The previous revolt of Euboea, occurring thirty-four years before, during the maximum of Athenian power, had been even then a terrible blow to Athens, and formed one of the main circumstances which forced upon her the humiliation of the Thirty years’ truce. But this second revolt took place when she had not only no means of reconquering the island, but no means even of defending Piraeus against the blockade by the enemy’s fleet. The dismay and terror excited by the news at Athens was unbounded, even exceeding what had been felt after the Sicilian catastrophe, or the revolt of Chios. Nor was there any second reserve now in the treasury, such as the thousand talents which had rendered such essential service on the last-mentioned occasion. In addition to their foreign dangers, the Athenians were farther weighed down by two intestine calamities in themselves hardly supportable,—alienation of their own fleet at Samos, and the discord, yet unappeased, within their own walls; wherein the Four Hundred still held provisionally the reins of government, with the ablest and most unscrupulous leaders at their head. In the depth of their despair, the Athenians expected nothing less than to see the victorious fleet of Agesandridas— more than sixty triremes strong, including the recent captures—off the Piraeus, forbidding all importation, and threatening them with approaching famine, in combination with Agis and Dekeleia. The enterprise would have been easy for there were neither ships nor seamen to repel him; and his arrival at this critical moment would most probably have enabled the Four Hundred to resume their ascendency, with the means as well as the disposition to introduce a Lacedaemonian garrison into the city. And though the arrival of the Athenian fleet from Samos would have prevented this extremity, yet it could not have arrived in time, except on the supposition of a prolonged blockade: moreover, its mere transfer from Samos to Athens would have left Ionia and the Hellespont defenseless against the Lacedaemonians and Persians, and would have caused the loss of all the Athenian empire. Nothing could have saved Athens, if the Lacedaemonians at this juncture had acted with reasonable vigor, instead of confining their efforts to Euboea, now an easy and certain conquest. As on the former occasion, when Antiphon and Phrynichus went to Sparta prepared to make any sacrifice for the purpose of obtaining Lacedaemonian aid and accommodation, so now, in a still greater degree, Athens owed her salvation only to the fact that the enemies actually before her were indolent and dull Spartans, not enterprising Syracusans under the conduct of Gylippus. And this is the second occasion, we may add, on which Athens was on the brink of ruin in consequence of the policy of Alcibiades in retaining the armament at Samos.

Fortunately for the Athenians, no Agesandridas appeared off Piraeus; so that the twenty triremes, which they contrived to man as a remnant for defence, had no enemy to repel. Accordingly, the Athenians were allowed to enjoy an interval of repose which enabled them to recover partially both from consternation and from intestine discord. It was their first proceeding, when the hostile fleet did not appear, to convene a public assembly, and that too in the Pnyx itself, the habitual scene of the democratical assemblies, well calculated to reinspire that patriotism which had now been dumb and smouldering for the four last months. In this assembly, the tide of opinion ran vehemently against the Four Hundred: even those, who, like the Board of elders entitled probuli had originally counselled their appointment, now denounced them along with the rest, though severely taunted by the oligarchical leader Peisander for their inconsistency. Votes were finally passed: 1. To depose the Four Hundred; 2. To place the whole government in the hands of The Five Thousand; 3. Every citizen, who furnished a panoply, either for himself or for any one else, was to be of right a member of this body of The Five Thousand; 4. No citizen was to receive pay in any political function, on pain of becoming solemnly accursed, or excommunicated. Such were the points determined by the first assembly held in the Pnyx. The archons, the senate of Five Hundred, etc, were renewed: after which many other assemblies were also held, in which nomothetae, dikasts, and other institutions essential to the working of the democracy, were constituted. Various other votes were also passed; especially one, on the proposition of Critias, seconded by Theramenes, to restore Alcibiades and some of his friends from exile; while messages were farther despatched, both to him and to the armament at Samos, doubtless confirming the recent nomination of generals, apprizing them of what had recently occurred at Athens, as well as bespeaking their full concurrence and unabated efforts against the common enemy.

Thucydides bestows marked eulogy upon the general spirit of moderation and patriotic harmony which now reigned at Athens, and which directed the political proceedings of the people. But he does not countenance the belief, as he has been sometimes understood, nor is it true in point of fact, that they now introduced a new constitution. Putting an end to the oligarchy, and to the rule of the Four Hundred, they restored the old democracy seemingly with only Two modifications, first, the partial limitation of the right of suffrage; next, the discontinuance of all payment for political functions. The impeachment against Antiphon, tried immediately afterwards, went before the senate and the dikastery exactly according to the old democratical forms of procedure. But we must presume that the senate, the dikasts, the nomothetae, the ekklesiasts, or citizens who attended the assembly, the public orators who prosecuted state-criminals, or defended any law when it was impugned, must have worked for the time without pay.

Moreover, the two modifications above mentioned were of little practical effect. The exclusive body of Five Thousand citizens, professedly constituted at this juncture, was neither exactly realized, nor long retained. It was constituted, even now, more as a nominal than as a real limit; a nominal total, yet no longer a mere blank, as the Four Hundred had originally produced it, but containing, indeed, a number of individual names greater than the total, and without any assignable line of demarcation. The mere fact, that every one who furnished a panoply was entitled to be of the Five Thousand,—and not they alone, but others besides,—shows that no care was taken to adhere either to that or to any other precise number. If we may credit a speech composed by Lysias, the Four Hundred had themselves, after the demolition of their intended fortress at Ectioneia, and when power was passing out of their hands, appointed a committee of their number to draw up for the first time a real list of The Five Thousand; and Polystratus, a member of that committee, takes credit with the succeeding democracy for having made the list comprise nine thousand names instead of five thousand. As this list of Polystratus—if, indeed, it ever existed—was never either published or adopted, I merely notice the description given of it, to illustrate my position that the number Five Thousand was now understood on all sides as an indefinite expression for a suffrage extensive, but not universal. The number had been first invented by Antiphon and the leaders of the Four Hundred, to cloak their own usurpation and intimidate the democracy: next, it served the purpose of Theramenes and the minority of the Four Hundred, as a basis on which to raise a sort of dynastic opposition, to use modern phraseology, within the limits of the oligarchy; that is, without appearing to overstep principles acknowledged by the oligarchy themselves: lastly, it was employed by the democratical party generally as a convenient middle term to slide back into the old system, with as little dispute as possible; for Alcibiades and the armament had sent word home that they adhered to the Five Thousand, and to the abolition of salaried civil functions.

But exclusive suffrage of the so-called Five Thousand, especially with the expansive numerical construction now adopted, was of little value either to themselves or to the state; while it was an insulting shock to the feelings of the excluded multitude, especially to brave and active seamen like the parali. Though prudent as a step of momentary transition, it could not stand, nor was any attempt made to preserve it in permanence, amidst a community so long accustomed to universal citizenship, and where the necessities of defense against the enemy called for energetic efforts from all the citizens.

Even as to the gratuitous functions, the members of the Five Thousand themselves would soon become tired, not less than the poorer freemen, of serving without pay, as senators or in other ways; so that nothing but absolute financial deficit would prevent the reestablishment, entire or partial, of the pay. And that deficit was never so complete as to stop the disbursement of the diobely, or distribution of two oboli to each citizen on occasion of various religious festivals. Such distribution continued without interruption; though perhaps the number of occasions on which it was made may have been lessened.

How far or under what restriction, any reestablishment of civil pay obtained footing during the seven years between the Four Hundred and the Thirty, we cannot say. But leaving this point undecided, we can show, that within a year after the deposition of the Four Hundred, the suffrage of the so-called Five Thousand expanded into the suffrage of all Athenians without exception, or into the full antecedent democracy. A memorable decree, passed about eleven months after that event,—at the commencement of the archonship of Glaukippus (June 410 B.C.), when the senate of Five Hundred, the dikasts, and other civil functionaries, were renewed for the coming year, pursuant to the ancient democratical practice,—exhibits to us the full democracy not merely in action, but in all the glow of feeling called forth by a recent restoration. It seems to have been thought that this first renewal of archons and other functionaries, under the revived democracy, ought to be stamped by some emphatic proclamation of sentiment, analogous to the solemn and heart-stirring oath taken in the preceding year at Samos. Accordingly, Demophantus proposed and carried a (psephism or) decree, prescribing the form of an oath to be taken by all Athenians to stand by the democratical constitution.

The terms of his psephism and oath are striking. “If any man subvert the democracy at Athens, or hold any magistracy after the democracy has been subverted, he shall be an enemy of the Athenians. Let him be put to death with impunity, and let his property be confiscated to the public, with the reservation of a tithe to Athene (the goddess). Let the man who has killed him, and the accomplice privy to the act, be accounted holy and of good religious odour. Let all Athenians swear an oath under the sacrifice of full-grown victims, in their respective tribes and demes, to kill him. Let the oath be as follows : ‘I will kill with my own hand, if I am able, any man who shall subvert the democracy at Athens, or who shall hold any office in future after the democracy has been subverted, or shall rise in arms for the purpose of making himself a despot, or shall help the despot to establish himself. And if any one else shall kill him, I will account the slayer to be holy as respects both gods and demons, as having slain an enemy of the Athenians. And I engage by word, by deed, and by vote, to sell his property and make over one-half of the proceeds to the slayer, without withholding anything. If any man shall perish in slaying or in trying to slay the despot, I will be kind both to him and to his children, as to Harmodius and Aristogeiton, and their descendants. And I hereby break and renounce all oaths which have been sworn hostile to the Athenian people, either at Athens or at the camp (at Samos) or elsewhere’. Let all Athenians swear this as the regular oath, immediately before the festival of the Dionysia, with sacrifice and full-grown victims; invoking upon him who keeps it, good things in abundance; but upon him who breaks it, destruction for himself as well as for his family”.

Such was the remarkable decree which the Athenians not only passed in senate and public assembly, less than a year after the deposition of the Four Hundred, but also caused to be engraved on a column close to the door of the senate-house. It plainly indicates, not merely that the democracy had returned, but an unusual intensity of democratical feeling along with it. The constitution which all the Athenians thus swore to maintain by the most strenuous measures of defence, must have been a constitution in which all Athenians had political rights, not one of Five Thousand privileged persons excluding the rest. This decree became invalid after the expulsion of the Thirty, by the general resolution then passed not to act upon any laws passed before the archonship of Eukleides, unless specially reenacted. But the column on which it stood engraved still remained, and the words were read upon it, at least. down to the time of the orator Lycurgus, eighty years afterwards.

The mere deposition of the Four Hundred, however, and the transfer of political power to the Five Thousand, which took place in the first public assembly held after the defeat off Eretria, was sufficient to induce most of the violent leaders of the Four Hundred forthwith to leave Athens. Peisander, Alexikles, and others, went off secretly to Dekeleia: Aristarchus alone made his flight the means of inflicting a new wound upon his country. Being among the number of the generals, he availed himself of this authority to march—with some of the rudest among those Scythian archers, who did the police duty of the city—to Oenoe, on the Boeotian frontier, which was at that moment under siege by a body of Corinthians and Boeotians united. Aristarchus, in concert with the besiegers, presented himself to the garrison, and acquainted them that Athens and Sparta had just concluded peace, one of the conditions of which was that Oenoe should be surrendered to the Boeotians. He therefore, as general, ordered them to evacuate the place, under the benefit of a truce to return home. The garrison having been closely blocked up, and kept wholly ignorant of the actual condition of politics, obeyed the order without reserve; so that the Boeotians acquired possession of this very important frontier position, a new thorn in the side of Athens, besides Dekeleia.

Thus was the Athenian democracy again restored, and the divorce between the city and the armament at Samos terminated after an interruption of about four months by the successful conspiracy of the Four Hundred. It was only by a sort of miracle—or rather by the incredible backwardness and stupidity of her foreign enemies—that Athens escaped alive from this nefarious aggression of her own ablest and wealthiest citizens. That the victorious democracy should animadvert upon and punish the principal actors concerned in it,—who had satiated their own selfish ambition at the cost of so much suffering, anxiety, and peril to their country,—was nothing more than rigorous justice. But the circumstances of the case were peculiar: for the counter­revolution had been accomplished partly by the aid of a minority among the Four Hundred themselves,—Theramenes, Aristokrates, and others, together with the Board of Elders called Probuli,—all of whom had been, at the outset, either principals or accomplices in that system of terrorism and assassination, whereby the democracy had been overthrown and the oligarchical rulers established in the senate-house. The earlier operations of the conspiracy, therefore, though among its worst features, could not be exposed to inquiry and trial without compromising these parties as fellow-criminals. Theramenes evaded this difficulty, by selecting for animadversion a recent act of the majority of the Four Hundred, which he and his partisans had opposed, and on which therefore he had no interests adverse either to justice or to the popular feeling. He stood foremost to impeach the last embassy sent by the Four Hundred to Sparta, sent with instructions to purchase peace and alliance at almost any price, and connected with the construction of the fort at Ectioneia for the reception of an enemy’s garrison. This act of manifest treason, in which Antiphon, Phrynichus, and ten other known envoys were concerned, was chosen as the special matter for public trial and punishment, not less on public grounds than with a view to his own favor in the renewed democracy. But the fact that it was Theramenes who thus denounced his old friends and fellow-conspirators, after having lent hand and heart to their earlier and not less guilty deeds, was long remembered as a treacherous betrayal, and employed in after days as an excuse for atrocious injustice against himself.

Of the twelve envoys who went on this mission, all except Phrynichus, Antiphon, Archeptolemus, and Onomakles, seem to have already escaped to Dekcleia or elsewhere. Phrynichus, as I have mentioned a few pages above, had been assassinated several days before. Respecting his memory, a condemnatory vote had already been just passed by the restored senate of Five Hundred, decreeing that his property should be confiscated and his house razed to the ground, and conferring the gift of citizenship, together with a pecuniary recompense, on two foreigners who claimed to have assassinated him. The other three, Antiphon, Archeptolemus, and Onomakles, were presented in name to the senate by the generals, of whom probably Theramenes was one, as having gone on a mission to Sparta for purposes of mischief to Athens, partly on board an enemy’s ship, partly through the Spartan garrison at Dekeleia. Upon this presentation, doubtless a document of some length and going into particulars, a senator named Andron moved : That the generals, aided by any ten senators whom they may choose, do seize the three persons accused, and hold them in custody for trial; that the thesmothetae do send to each of the three a formal summons, to prepare themselves for trial on a future day before the dikastery, on the charge of high treason, and do bring them to trial on the day named; assisted by the generals, the ten senators chosen as auxiliaries, and any other citizen who may please to take part, as their accusers. Each of the three was to be tried separately, and, if condemned, was to be dealt with according to the penal law of the city against traitors, or persons guilty of treason.

Though all the three persons thus indicated were at Athens, or at least were supposed to be there, on the day when this resolution was passed by the senate, yet, before it was executed, Onomacles had fled; so that Antiphon and Archeptolemus only were imprisoned for trial. They too must have had ample opportunity for leaving the city, and we might have presumed that Antiphon would have thought it quite as necessary to retire as Peisander and Alexikles. So acute a man as he, at no time very popular, must have known that now at least he had drawn the sword against his fellow-citizens in a manner which could never be forgiven. However, he chose voluntarily to stay: and this man, who had given orders for taking off so many of the democratical speakers by private assassination, received from the democracy, when triumphant, full notice and fair trial on a distinct and specific charge. The speech which he made in his defence, though it did not procure acquittal, was listened to, not merely with patience, but with admiration; as we may judge from the powerful and lasting effect which it produced. Thucydides describes it as the most magnificent defence against a capital charge which had ever come before him; and the poet Agathon, doubtless a hearer, warmly complimented Antiphon on his eloquence; to which the latter replied, that the approval of one such discerning judge was in his eyes an ample compensation for the unfriendly verdict of the multitude. Both he and Archeptolemus were found guilty by the dikastery and condemned to the penalties of treason. They were handed over to the magistrates called the Eleven, the chiefs of executive justice at Athens, to be put to death by the customary draught of hemlock. Their properties were confiscated, their houses were directed to be razed, and the vacant site to be marked by columns, with the inscription: “The residence of Antiphon the traitor,—of Archeptolemus the traitor”. They were not permitted to be buried either in Attica, or in any territory subject to Athenian dominion. Their children, both legitimate and illegitimate, were deprived of the citizenship; and the citizen who should adopt any descendant of either of them, was to be himself in like manner disfranchised.

Such was the sentence passed by the dikastery, pursuant to the Athenian law of treason. It was directed to be engraved on the same brazen column as the decree of honor to the slayers of Phrynichus. From that column it was transcribed, and has thus passed into history.

How many of the Four Hundred oligarchs actually came to trial or were punished, we have no means of knowing; but there is ground for believing that none were put to death except Antiphon and Archeptolemus, perhaps also Aristarchus, the betrayer of Oenoe to the Boeotians. The latter is said to have been formally tried and condemned : though by what accident he afterwards came into the power of the Athenians, after having once effected his escape, we are not informed. The property of Peisander, he himself having escaped, was confiscated, and granted either wholly or in part as a recompense to Apollodorus, one of the assassins of Phrynichus; probably the property of the other conspicuous fugitive oligarchs was confiscated also. Polystratus, another of the Four Hundred, who had only become a member of that body a few days before its fall, was tried during absence, which absence his defenders afterwards accounted for, by saying that he had been wounded in the naval battle of Eretria, and heavily fined. It seems that each of the Four Hundred was called on to go through an audit and a trial of accountability, according to the practice general at Athens with magistrates going out of office. Such of them as did not appear to this trial were condemned to fine, to exile, or to have their names recorded as traitors: but most of those who did appear seem to have been acquitted; partly, we are told, by bribes to the logistae, or auditing officers, though some were condemned either to fine or to partial political disability, along with those hoplites who had been the most marked partisans of the Four Hundred.

Indistinctly as we make out the particular proceedings of the Athenian people at this restoration of the democracy, we know from Thucydides that their prudence and moderation were exemplary. The eulogy, which he bestows in such emphatic terms upon their behavior at this juncture, is indeed doubly remarkable : first, because it comes from an exile, net friendly to the democracy, and a strong admirer of Antiphon; next, because the juncture itself was one eminently trying to the popular morality, and likely to degenerate, by almost natural tendency, into excess of reactionary vengeance and persecution. The democracy was now one hundred years old, dating from Cleisthenes, and fifty years old, even dating from the final reforms of Ephialtes and Perikles; so that self-government and political equality were a part of the habitual sentiment of every man’s bosom, heightened in this case by the fact that Athens was not merely a democracy, but an imperial democracy, having dependencies abroad. At a moment when, from unparalleled previous disasters, she is barely able to keep up the struggle against her foreign enemies, a small knot of her own wealthiest citizens, taking advantage of her weakness, contrive, by a tissue of fraud and force not less flagitious than skilfully combined, to concentrate in their own hands the powers of the state, and to tear from their countrymen the security against bad government, the sentiment of equal citizen ship, and the long-established freedom of speech. Nor is this all: these conspirators not only plant an oligarchical sovereignty in the senate-house, but also sustain that sovereignty by inviting a foreign garrison from without, and by betraying Athens to her Peloponnesian enemies. Two more deadly injuries it is impossible to imagine; and from neither of them would Athens have escaped, if her foreign enemy had manifested reasonable alacrity. Considering the immense peril, the narrow escape, and the impaired condition in which Athens was left, notwithstanding her escape, we might well have expected in the people a violence of reactionary hostility such as every calm observer, while making allowance for the provocation, must nevertheless have condemned; and perhaps somewhat analogous to that exasperation which, under very similar circumstances, had caused the bloody massacres at Corcyra. And when we find that this is exactly the occasion which Thucydides, an observer rather less than impartial, selects to eulogize their good conduct and moderation, we are made deeply sensible of the good habits which their previous democracy must have implanted in them, and which now served as a corrective to the impulse of the actual moment. They had become familiar with the cementing force of a common sentiment; they had learned to hold sacred the inviolability of law and justice, even in respect to their worst enemy; and what was of not less moment, the frequency and freedom of political discussion had taught them not only to substitute the contentions of the tongue for those of the sword, but also to conceive their situation with its present and prospective liabilities, instead of being hurried away by blind retrospective vengeance against the past.

There are few contrasts in Grecian history more memorable or more instructive, than that between this oligarchical conspiracy, conducted by some of the ablest hands at Athens, and the democratical movement going on at the same time in Samos, among the Athenian armament and the Samian citizens. In the former, we have nothing but selfishness and personal ambition, from the beginning : first, a partnership to seize for their own advantage the powers of government; next, after this object has been accomplished, a breach among the partners, arising out of disappointment alike selfish. We find appeal made to nothing but the worst tendencies; either tricks to practise upon the credulity of the people, or extrajudicial murders to work upon their fear. In the latter, on the contrary, the sentiment invoked is that of common patriotism, and equal, public-minded sympathy. That which we read in Thucydides,— when the soldiers of the armament and the Samian citizens, pledged themselves to each other by solemn oaths to uphold their democracy to maintain harmony and good feeling with each other, to prosecute energetically the war against the Peloponnesians, and to remain at enmity with the oligarchical conspirators at Athens,—is a scene among the most dramatic and inspiriting which occurs in his history. Moreover, we recognize at Samos the same absence of reactionary vengeance as at Athens, after the attack of the oligarchs, Athenian as well as Samian, has been repelled; although those oligarchs had begun by assassinating Hyperbolus and others. There is throughout this whole democratical movement at Samos a generous exaltation of common sentiment over personal, and at the same time an absence of ferocity against opponents, such as nothing except democracy ever inspired in the Grecian bosom.

It is, indeed, true that this was a special movement of generous enthusiasm, and that the details of a democratical government correspond to it but imperfectly. Neither in the life of an individual, nor in that of a people, does the ordinary and every-day movement appear at all worthy of those particular seasons in which a man is lifted above his own level and becomes capable of extreme devotion and heroism. Yet such emotions, though their complete predominance is never otherwise than transitory, have their foundation in veins of sentiment which are not even at other times wholly extinct, but count among the manifold forces tending to modify and improve, if they cannot govern, human action. Even their moments of transitory predominance leave a luminous track behind, and render the men who have passed through them more apt to conceive again the same generous impulse, through in fainter degree. It is one of the merits of Grecian democracy that it did raise this feeling of equal and patriotic communion: sometimes, and on rare occasions, like the scene at Samos, with overwhelming intensity, so as to impassion an unanimous multitude; more frequently, in feebler tide, yet such as gave some chance to an honest and eloquent orator, of making successful appeal to public feeling against corruption or selfishness. If we follow the movements of Antiphon and his fellow-conspirators at Athens, contemporaneous with the democratical manifestations at Samos, we shall see that not only was no such generous impulse included in it, but the success of their scheme depended upon their being able to strike all common and active patriotism out of the Athenian bosom. Under the “cold shade” of their oligarchy—even if we suppose the absence of cruelty and rapacity, which would probably soon have become rife had their dominion lasted, as we shall presently learn from the history of the second oligarchy of Thirty—no sentiment would have been left to the Athenian multitude except fear, servility, or at best a tame and dumb sequacity to leaders whom they neither chose nor controlled. To those who regard different forms of government as distinguished from each other mainly by the feelings which each tends to inspire in magistrates as well as citizens, the contemporaneous scenes of Athens and Samos will suggest instructive comparisons between Grecian oligarchy and Grecian democracy.