gtp logo

Location information

Listed 2 sub titles with search on: Ancient literary sources  for wider area of: "FYLI Ancient demos FYLI" .

Ancient literary sources (2)

Diodorus Siculus

Thrasybulus and the end of the Thirty Tyrants

FYLI (Ancient demos) FYLI
In Athens the Thirty Tyrants, who were in supreme control, made no end of daily exiling some citizens and putting to death others. When the Thebans were displeased at what was taking place and extended kindly hospitality to the exiles, Thrasybulus of the deme of Stiria, as he was called, who was an Athenian and had been exiled by the Thirty, with the secret aid of the Thebans seized a stronghold in Attica called Phyle. This was an outpost, which was not only very strong but was also only one hundred stades distant from Athens, so that it afforded them many advantages for attack. The Thirty Tyrants, on learning of this act, at first led forth their troops against the band with the intention of laying siege to the stronghold. But while they were encamped near Phyle there came a heavy snow, and when some set to work to shift their encampment, the majority of the soldiers assumed that they were taking to flight and that a hostile force was at hand; and the uproar which men call Panic struck the army and they removed their camp to another place.
  The Thirty, seeing that those citizens of Athens who enjoyed no political rights in the government of the three thousand were elated at the prospect of the overthrow of their control of the state, transferred them to the Peiraeus and maintained their control of the city by means of mercenary troops; and accusing the Eleusians and Salaminians of siding with the exiles, they put them all to death. While these things were being done, many of the exiles flocked to Thrasybulus; (and the Thirty dispatched ambassadors to Thrasybulus) publicly to treat with him about some prisoners, but privately to advise him to dissolve the band of exiles and to associate himself with the Thirty in the rule of the city, taking the place of Theramenes; and they promised further that he could have licence to restore to their native land any ten exiles he chose. Thrasybulus replied that he preferred his own state of exile to the rule of the Thirty and that he would not end the war unless all the citizens returned from exile and the people got back the form of government they had received from their fathers. The Thirty, seeing many revolting from them because of hatred and the exiles growing ever more numerous, dispatched ambassadors to Sparta for aid, and meanwhile themselves gathered as many troops as they could and pitched a camp in the open country near Acharnae, as it is called.
  Thrasybulus, leaving behind an adequate guard at the stronghold, led forth the exiles, twelve hundred in number, and delivering an unexpected attack by night on the camp of his opponents, he slew a large number of them, struck terror into the rest by his unexpected move, and forced them to flee to Athens. After the battle Thrasybulus set out straightway for the Peiraeus and seized Munychia, which was an uninhabited and strong hill; and the Tyrants with all the troops at their disposal went down to the Peiraeus and attacked Munychia, under the command of Critias. In the sharp battle which continued for a long time the Thirty held the advantage in numbers and the exiles in the strength of their position. At last, however, when Critias fell, the troops of the Thirty were dismayed and fled for safety to more level ground, the exiles not daring to come down against them. When after this great numbers went over to the exiles, Thrasybulus made an unexpected attack upon his opponents, defeated them in battle, and became master of the Peiraeus. At once many of the inhabitants of the city who wished to be rid of the tyranny flocked to the Peiraeus and all the exiles who were scattered throughout the cities of Greece, on hearing of the successes of Thrasybulus, came to the Peiraeus, so that from now on the exiles were far superior in force. In consequence they began to lay siege to the city.
  The remaining citizens in Athens now removed the Thirty from office and sent them out of the city, and then they elected ten men with supreme power first and foremost to put an end to the war, in any way possible, on friendly terms. But these men, as soon as they had succeeded to office, paid no attention to these orders, but established themselves as tyrants and sent to Lacedaemon for forty warships and a thousand soldiers, under the command of Lysander. But Pausanias, the king of the Lacedaemonians, being jealous of Lysander and observing that Sparta was in ill repute among the Greeks, marched forth with a strong army and on his arrival in Athens brought about a reconciliation between the men in the city and the exiles. As a result the Athenians got back their country and henceforth conducted their government under laws of their own making; and the men who lived in fear of punishment for their unbroken series of past crimes they allowed to make their home in Eleusis.

This extract is from: Diodorus Siculus, Library (ed. C. H. Oldfather, 1989). Cited Aug 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains comments & interesting hyperlinks.


At Athens the Thirty had been chosen as soon as the long walls and the walls round Piraeus were demolished; although chosen, however, for the purpose of framing a constitution under which to conduct the government, they continually delayed framing and publishing this constitution, but they appointed a Senate and the other magistrates as they saw fit. Then, as a first step, they arrested and brought to trial for their lives those persons who, by common knowledge, had made a living in the time of the democracy by acting as informers and had been offensive to the aristocrats; and the Senate was glad to pronounce these people guilty, and the rest of the citizens--at least all who were conscious that they were not of the same sort themselves--were not at all displeased. When, however, the Thirty began to consider how they might become free to do just as they pleased with the state, their first act was to send Aeschines and Aristoteles to Lacedaemon and persuade Lysander to help them to secure the sending of a Lacedaemonian garrison, to remain until, as they said, they could put "the scoundrels" out of the way and establish their government; and they promised to maintain this garrison at their own charges. Lysander consented, and helped them to secure the dispatch of the troops and of Callibius as governor. But when they had got the garrison, they paid court to Callibius in every way, in order that he might approve of everything they did, and as he detailed guardsmen to go with them, they arrested the people whom they wished to reach,--not now "the scoundrels" and persons of little account, but from this time forth the men who, they thought, were least likely to submit to being ignored, and who, if they undertook to offer any opposition, would obtain supporters in the greatest numbers.
  Now in the beginning Critias and Theramenes were agreed in their policy and friendly; but when Critias showed himself eager to put many to death, because, for one thing, he had been banished by the democracy, Theramenes opposed him, saying that it was not reasonable to put a man to death because he was honoured by the commons, provided he was doing no harm to the aristocrats. "For", said he, "you and I also have said and done many things for the sake of winning the favour of the city". Then Critias (for he still treated Theramenes as a friend) replied that it was impossible for people who wanted to gain power not to put out of the way those who were best able to thwart them. "But if", he said, "merely because we are thirty and not one, you imagine that it is any the less necessary for us to keep a close watch over this government, just as one would if it were an absolute monarchy, you are foolish". But when, on account of the great numbers continually -and unjustly- put to death, it was evident that many were banding together and wondering what the state was coming to, Theramenes spoke again, saying that unless they admitted an adequate number of citizens into partnership with them in the management of affairs, it would be impossible for the oligarchy to endure. Accordingly Critias and the rest of the Thirty, who were by this time alarmed and feared above all that the citizens would flock to the support of Theramenes, enrolled a body of three thousand, who were to share, as they said, in the government. Theramenes, however, objected to this move also, saying that, in the first place, it seemed to him absurd that, when they wanted to make the best of the citizens their associates, they should limit themselves to three thousand, as though this number must somehow be good men and true and there could neither be excellent men outside this body nor rascals within8 it. "Besides", he said, "we are undertaking, in my opinion, two absolutely inconsistent things, to rig up our government on the basis of force and at the same time to make it weaker than its subjects".
  This was what Theramenes said. As for the Thirty, they held a review, the Three Thousand assembling in the market-place and those who were not on "the roll" in various places here and there; then they gave the order to pile arms, and while the men were off duty and away, they sent their Lacedaemonian guardsmen and such citizens as were in sympathy with them, seized the arms of all except the Three Thousand, carried them up to the Acropolis, and deposited them in the temple. And now, when this had been accomplished, thinking that they were at length free to do whatever they pleased, they put many people to death out of personal enmity, and many also for the sake of securing their property. One measure that they resolved upon, in order to get money to pay their guardsmen, was that each of their number should seize one of the aliens residing in the city, and that they should put these men to death and confiscate their property. So they bade Theramenes also to seize anyone he pleased; and he replied: "But it is not honourable, as it seems to me", he said, "for people who style themselves the best citizens to commit acts of greater injustice than the informers used to do. For they allowed those from whom they got money, to live; but shall we, in order to get money, put to death men who are guilty of no wrong-doing? Are not such acts altogether more unjust than theirs were?" Then the Thirty, thinking that Theramenes was an obstacle to their doing whatever they pleased, plotted against him, and kept accusing him to individual senators, one to one man and another to another, of injuring the government. And after passing the word to some young men, who seemed to them most audacious, to be in attendance with daggers hidden under their arms, they convened the Senate. Then when Theramenes arrived, Critias arose and spoke as follows:
  "Gentlemen of the Senate, if anyone among you thinks that more people than is fitting are being put to death, let him reflect that where governments are changed these things always take place; and it is inevitable that those who are changing the government here to an oligarchy should have most numerous enemies, both because the state is the most populous of the Greek states and because the commons have been bred up in a condition of freedom for the longest time. Now we, believing that for men like ourselves and you democracy is a grievous form of government, and convinced that the commons would never become friendly to the Lacedaemonians, our preservers, while the aristocrats would continue ever faithful to them, for these reasons are establishing, with the approval of the Lacedaemonians, the present form of government. And if we find anyone opposed to the oligarchy, so far as we have the power we put him out of the way; but in particular we consider it to be right that, if any one of our own number is harming this order of things, he should be punished.
  "Now in fact we find this man Theramenes trying, by what means he can, to destroy both ourselves and you. As proof that this is true you will discover, if you consider the matter, that no one finds more fault with the present proceedings than Theramenes here, or offers more opposition when we wish to put some demagogue out of the way. Now if he had held these views from the beginning, he was, to be sure, an enemy, but nevertheless he would not justly be deemed a scoundrel. In fact, however, he was the very man who took the initiative in the policy of establishing a cordial understanding with the Lacedaemonians; he was the very man who began the overthrow of the democracy, and who urged you most to inflict punishment upon those who were first brought before you for trial; but now, when you and we have manifestly become hateful to the democrats, he no longer approves of what is going on, -just so that he may get on the safe side again, and that we may be punished for what has been done. Therefore he ought to be punished, not merely as an enemy, but also as a traitor both to you and to ourselves. And treason is a far more dreadful thing than war, inasmuch as it is harder to take precaution against the hidden than against the open danger, and a far more hateful thing, inasmuch as men make peace with enemies and become their trustful friends again, but if they catch a man playing the traitor, they never in any case make peace with that man or trust him thereafter.
  "Now to let you know that this man's present doings are nothing new, but that he is, rather, a traitor by nature, I will recall to you his past deeds. This man in the beginning, although he had received honours at the hands of the democracy, was extremely eager, like his father Hagnon, to change the democracy into the oligarchy of the Four Hundred, and he was a leader in that government. When, however, he perceived that some opposition to the oligarchy was gathering, he look the lead again--as champion of the democrats against the oligarchs! That is the reason, you know, why he is nicknamed 'Buskin': for as the buskin seems to fit both feet, so he faces both ways. But, Theramenes, the man who deserves to live ought not to be clever at leading his comrades into dangerous undertakings and then, if any hindrance offers itself, to turn around on the instant, but he ought, as one on shipboard, to hold to his task until they come into a fair breeze. Otherwise, how in the world would sailors reach the port for which they are bound, if they should sail in the opposite direction the moment any hindrance offered itself? It is true, of course, that all sorts of changes in government are attended by loss of life, but you, thanks to your changing sides so easily, share the responsibility, not merely for the slaughter of a large number of oligarchs by the commons, but also for the slaughter of a large number of democrats by the aristocracy. And this Theramenes, you remember, was the man who, although detailed by the generals to pick up the Athenians whose ships were disabled in the battle off Lesbos, failed to do so, and nevertheless was the very one who accused the generals and brought about their death in order that he might save his own life!
  "Now when a man clearly shows that he is always looking out for his own advantage and taking no thought for honour or his friends, how in the world can it be right to spare him? Ought we not surely, knowing of his previous changes, to take care that he shall not be able to do the same thing to us also? We therefore arraign him on the charge of plotting against and betraying both ourselves and you. And in proof that what we are thus doing is proper, consider this fact also. The constitution of the Lacedaemonians is, we know, deemed the best of all constitutions. Now in Lacedaemon if one of the ephors should undertake to find fault with the government and to oppose what was being done instead of yielding to the majority, do you not suppose that he would be regarded, not only by the ephors themselves but also by all the rest of the state, as having merited the severest punishment? Even so you, if you are wise, will not spare this Theramenes, but rather yourselves; for to leave him alive would cause many of those who hold opposite views to yours to cherish high thoughts, while to destroy him would cut off the hopes of them all, both within and without the city."
  When Critias had so spoken, he sat down; and Theramenes rose and said: "I will mention first, gentlemen, the last thing Critias said against me. He says that I brought about the death of the generals by my accusation. But it was not I, as you know, who began the matter by accusing them; on the contrary, it was they who accused me, by stating that although that duty was assigned me by them, I failed to pick up the unfortunates in the battle off Lesbos. I said in my defence that on account of the storm it was not possible even to sail, much less to pick up the men, and it was decided by the state that my plea was a reasonable one, while the generals were clearly accusing themselves. For though they said it was possible to save the men, they nevertheless sailed away and left them to perish. I do not wonder, however, that Critias has misunderstood the matter; for when these events took place, it chanced that he was not here; he was establishing a democracy in Thessaly along with Prometheus, and arming the serfs against their masters. God forbid that any of the things which he was doing there should come to pass here.
  "I quite agree with him, however, on this point, that if anyone is desirous of deposing you from your office and is making strong those who are plotting against you, it is just for him to incur the severest punishment. But I think you can best judge who it is that is doing this, if you will consider the course which each of us two has taken and is now taking. Well then, up to the time when you became members of the Senate and magistrates were appointed and the notorious informers were brought to trial, all of us held the same views; but when these Thirty began to arrest men of worth and standing, then I, on my side, began to hold views opposed to theirs. For when Leon the Salaminian was put to death -a man of capacity, both actually and by repute- although he was not guilty of a single act of wrong-doing, I knew that those who were like him would be fearful, and, being fearful, would be enemies of this government. I also knew, when Niceratus, the son of Nicias, was arrested -a man of wealth who, like his father, had never done anything to curry popular favour- that those who were like him would become hostile to us. And further, when Antiphon, who during the war supplied from his own means two fast-sailing triremes, was put to death by us, I knew that all those who had been zealous in the state's cause would look upon us with suspicion. I objected, also, when they said that each of us must seize one of the resident aliens; for it was entirely clear that if these men were put to death, the whole body of such aliens would become enemies of the government. I objected likewise when they took away from the people their arms, because I thought that we ought not to make the state weak; for I saw that, in preserving us, the purpose of the Lacedaemonians had not been that we might become few in number and unable to do them any service; for if this had been what they desired, it was within their power, by keeping up the pressure of famine a little while longer, to leave not a single man alive. Again, the hiring of guardsmen did not please me, for we might have enlisted in our service an equal number of our own citizens, until we, the rulers, should easily have made ourselves masters of our subjects. And further, when I saw that many in the city were becoming hostile to this government and that many were becoming exiles, it did not seem to me best to banish either Thrasybulus or Anytus or Alcibiades; for I knew that by such measures the opposition would be made strong, if once the commons should acquire capable leaders and if those who wished to be leaders should find a multitude of supporters.
  "Now would the man who offers openly this sort of admonition be fairly regarded as a well-wisher, or as a traitor? It is not, Critias, the men who prevent one's making enemies in abundance nor the men who teach one how to gain allies in the greatest numbers,--it is not these, I say, who make one's enemies strong; but it is much rather those who unjustly rob others of property and put to death people who are guilty of no wrong, who, I say, make their opponents numerous and betray not only their friends but also themselves, and all to satisfy their covetousness. And if it is not evident in any other way that what I say is true, look at the matter in this way: do you suppose that Thrasybulus and Anytus and the other exiles would prefer to have us follow here the policy which I am urging by word, or the policy which these men are carrying out in deed? For my part, I fancy that now they believe every spot is full of allies, while if the best element in the state were friendly to us, they would count it difficult even to set foot anywhere in the land! Again, as to his statement that I have a propensity to be always changing sides, consider these facts also: it was the people itself, as everybody knows, which voted for the government of the Four Hundred, being advised that the Lacedaemonians would trust any form of government sooner than a democracy. But when the Lacedaemonians did not in the least relax their efforts in prosecuting the war, and Aristoteles, Melanthius, Aristarchus, and their fellow-generals were found to be building a fort on the peninsula, into which they proposed to admit the enemy and so bring the state under the control of themselves and their oligarchical associates,--if I perceived this plan and thwarted it, is that being a traitor to one's friends?
  "He dubs me 'Buskin', because, as he says, I try to fit both parties. But for the man who pleases neither party,--what in the name of the gods should we call him? For you in the days of the democracy were regarded as the bitterest of all haters of the commons, and under the aristocracy you have shown yourself the bitterest of all haters of the better classes. But I, Critias, am forever at war with the men who do not think there could be a good democracy until the slaves and those who would sell the state for lack of a shilling should share in the government, and on the other hand I am forever an enemy to those who do not think that a good oligarchy could be established until they should bring the state to the point of being ruled absolutely by a few. But to direct the government in company with those who have the means to be of service, whether with horses or with shields, -this plan I regarded as best in former days and I do not change my opinion now. And if you can mention any instance, Critias, where I joined hands with demagogues or despots and undertook to deprive men of standing of their citizenship, then speak. For if I am found guilty either of doing this thing now or of ever having done it in the past, I admit that I should justly suffer the very uttermost of all penalties and be put to death."
  When with these words he ceased speaking and the Senate had shown its good will by applause, Critias, realizing that if he should allow the Senate to pass judgment on the case, Theramenes would escape, and thinking that this would be unendurable, went and held a brief consultation with the Thirty, and then went out and ordered the men with the daggers to take their stand at the railing in plain sight of the Senate. Then he came in again and said: "Senators, I deem it the duty of a leader who is what he ought to be, in case he sees that his friends are being deceived, not to permit it. I, therefore, shall follow that course. Besides, these men who have taken their stand here say that if we propose to let a man go who is manifestly injuring the oligarchy, they will not suffer us to do so. Now it is provided in the new laws that while no one of those who are on the roll of the Three Thousand may be put to death without your vote, the Thirty shall have power of life or death over those outside the roll. I, therefore", he said, "strike off this man Theramenes from the roll, with the approval of all the Thirty. That being done", he added, "we now condemn him to death".
  When Theramenes heard this, he sprang to the altar and said: "And I, sirs", said he, "beg only bare justice, -that it be not within the power of Critias to strike off either me or whomsoever of you he may wish, but rather that both in your case and in mine the judgment may be rendered strictly in accordance with that law which these men have made regarding those on the roll. To be sure", said he, "I know, I swear by the gods, only too well, that this altar will avail me nothing, but I wish to show that these Thirty are not only most unjust toward men, but also most impious toward the gods. But I am surprised at you", he said, "gentlemen of the aristocracy, that you are not going to defend your own rights, especially when you know that my name is not a whit easier to strike off than the name of each of you". At this moment the herald of the Thirty ordered the Eleven to seize Theramenes; and when they came in, attended by their servants and with Satyrus, the most audacious and shameless of them, at their head, Critias said: "We hand over to you", said he, "this man Theramenes, condemned according to the law. Do you, the Eleven, take him and lead him to the proper place and do that which follows".
  When Critias had spoken these words, Satyrus dragged Theramenes away from the altar, and his servants lent their aid. And Theramenes, as was natural, called upon gods and men to witness what was going on. But the senators kept quiet, seeing that the men at the rail were of the same sort as Satyrus and that the space in front of the senate-house was filled with the guardsmen, and being well aware that the former had come armed with daggers. So they led the man away through the market-place, while he proclaimed in a very loud voice the wrongs he was suffering. One saying of his that is reported was this: when Satyrus told him that if he did not keep quiet, he would suffer for it, he asked: "Then if I do keep quiet, shall I not suffer?" And when, being compelled to die, he had drunk the hemlock, they said that he threw out the last drops, like a man playing kottabos, and exclaimed: "Here's to the health of my beloved Critias". Now I am not unaware of this, that these are not sayings worthy of record; still, I deem it admirable in the man that when death was close at hand, neither self-possession nor the spirit of playfulness departed from his soul.
  So, then, Theramenes died; but the Thirty, thinking that now they could play the tyrant without fear, issued a proclamation forbidding those who were outside the roll to enter the city and evicted them from their estates, in order that they themselves and their friends might have these people's lands. And when they fled to Piraeus, they drove many of them away from there also, and filled both Megara and Thebes with the refugees.
Presently Thrasybulus set out from Thebes with about seventy companions and seized Phyle, a strong fortress. And the Thirty marched out from the city against him with the Three Thousand and the cavalry, the weather being very fine indeed. When they reached Phyle, some of the young men were so bold as to attack the fortress at once, but they accomplished nothing and suffered some wounds themselves before they retired. And while the Thirty were planning to invest the place, so as to force them to surrender by shutting off their avenues for receiving provisions, a very heavy snow storm came on during the night and continued on the following day. So they came back to the city in the snow, after losing a goodly number of their camp-followers by the attacks of the men in Phyle. Then the Thirty, knowing that the enemy would also gather plunder from the farms if there were no force to protect them, sent out all but a few of the Laconian guardsmen and two divisions of the cavalry to the outlying districts about fifteen stadia from Phyle. These troops made their camp in a bushy spot and proceeded to keep guard. Now by this time about seven hundred men were gathered at Phyle, and during the night Thrasybulus marched down with them; and about three or four stadia from the guardsmen he had his troops ground their arms and keep quiet. Then when it was drawing towards day and the enemy were already getting up and going away from their camp whithersoever each one had to go, and the grooms were keeping up a hubbub as they curried their horses, at this moment Thrasybulus and his men picked up their arms and charged on the run. They struck down some of the enemy and turned them all to flight, pursuing them for six or seven stadia; and they killed more than one hundred and twenty of the hoplites, and among the cavalry Nicostratus, nicknamed "the beautiful", and two more besides, catching them while still in their beds. Then after returning from the pursuit and erecting a trophy and packing up all the arms and baggage they had captured, they went back to Phyle. And when the cavalry from the city came to the rescue, there were none of the enemy left to be seen; so after waiting until their relatives had taken up the bodies of the dead, they returned to the city.
  After this the Thirty, deeming their government no longer secure, formed a plan to appropriate Eleusis, so as to have a place of refuge if it should prove necessary. Accordingly Critias and the rest of the Thirty, having issued orders to the cavalry to accompany them, went to Eleusis. There they held a review of the townspeople under guard of the cavalry, pretending that they wanted to know how numerous they were and how large an additional garrison they would require, and then ordered them all to register; and each man when he had registered had to pass out by the gate in the town wall in the direction of the3 sea. Meanwhile they had stationed the cavalry on the shore on either side of the gate, and as each man passed out their servants bound him fast. And when all had thus been seized, they ordered Lysimachus, the cavalry commander, to take them to Athens and turn them over to the Eleven. On the following day they summoned to the Odeum the hoplites who were on the roll and the cavalry also. Then Critias rose and said: "We, gentlemen", said he, "are establishing this government no less for you than for ourselves. Therefore, even as you will share in honours, so also you must share in the dangers. Therefore you must vote condemnation of the Eleusinians who have been seized, that you may have the same hopes and fears as we". Then he showed them a place and bade them cast their ballots therein, in plain sight of everybody. Now the Laconian guardsmen were in one half of the Odeum, fully armed; and these proceedings were pleasing also to such of the citizens as cared only for their own advantage.
  Soon after this Thrasybulus took the men of Phyle, who had now gathered to the number of about one thousand, and came by night to Piraeus. When the Thirty learned of this, they at once set out against him, with the Laconian guardsmen and their own cavalry and hoplites; then they advanced along the carriage road which leads up to Piraeus. And for a time the men from Phyle tried to prevent their coming up, but when they saw that the line of the town wall, extensive as it was, needed a large force for its defence, whereas they were not yet numerous, they gathered in a compact body on the hill of Munichia. And the men from the city, when they came to the market-place of Hippodamus, first formed themselves in line of battle, so that they filled the road which leads to the temple of Artemis of Munichia and the sanctuary of Bendis; and they made a line not less than fifty shields in depth; then, in this formation, they advanced up the hill. As for the men from Phyle, they too filled the road, but they made a line not more than ten hoplites in depth. Behind the hoplites, however, were stationed peltasts and light javelin-men, and behind them the stone-throwers. And of these there were many, for they came from that neighbourhood.
  And now, while the enemy were advancing, Thrasybulus ordered his men to ground their shields and did the same himself, though still keeping the rest of his arms, and then took his stand in the midst of them and spoke as follows: "Fellow-citizens, I wish to inform some of you and to remind others that those who form the right wing of the approaching force are the very men whom you turned to flight and pursued four days ago, but the men upon the extreme lef -they, yes they, are the Thirty, who robbed us of our city when we were guilty of no wrong, and drove us from our homes, and proscribed those who were dearest to us. But now, behold, they have found themselves in a situation in which they never expected to be, but we always prayed that they might be. For with arms in our hands we stand face to face with them; and the gods, because once we were seized while dining or sleeping or8 trading, because some of us also were banished when we were not only guilty of no offence, but were not even in the city, are now manifestly fighting on our side. For in fair weather they send a storm, when it is to our advantage, and when we attack, they grant us, though we are few in number and our enemies are many, to set up trophies of victory; and now in like manner they have brought us to a place where the men before you, because they are marching up hill, cannot throw either spears or javelins over the heads of those in front of them, while we, throwing both spears and javelins and stones down hill, shall reach them and strike down many. And though one would have supposed that we should have to fight with their front ranks at least on even terms, yet in fact, if you let fly your missiles with a will, as you should, no one will miss his man when the road is full of them, and they in their efforts to protect themselves will be continually skulking under their shields. You will therefore be able, just as if they were blind men, to strike them wherever you please and then leap upon them and overthrow them. And now, comrades, we must so act that each man shall feel in his breast that he is chiefly responsible for the victory. For victory, God willing, will now give back to us country and homes, freedom and honours, children, to such as have them, and wives. Happy, indeed, are those of us who shall win the victory and live to behold the gladdest day of all! And happy also he who is slain; for no one, however rich he may be, will gain a monument so glorious. Now, when the right moment comes, I will strike up the paean; and when we call Enyalius to our aid, then let us all, moved by one spirit, take vengeance upon these men for the outrages we have suffered."
  After saying these words and turning about to face the enemy, he kept quiet; for the seer bade them not to attack until one of their own number was either killed or wounded. "But as soon as that happens", he said, "we shall lead on, and to you who follow will come victory, but death, methinks, to me". And his saying did not prove false, for when they had taken up their shields, he, as though led on by a kind of fate, leaped forth first of all, fell upon the enemy, and was slain, and he lies buried at the ford of the Cephisus; but the others were victorious, and pursued the enemy as far as the level ground. In this battle fell two of the Thirty, Critias and Hippomachus, one of the Ten who ruled in Piraeus, Charmides, the son of Glaucon, and about seventy of the others. And the victors took possession of their arms, but they did not strip off the tunic11 of any citizen. When this had been done and while they were giving back the bodies of the dead, many on either side mingled and talked with one another. And Cleocritus, the herald of the initiated, a man with a very fine voice, obtained silence and said: "Fellow citizens, why do you drive us out of the city? why do you wish to kill us? For we never did you any harm, but we have shared with you in the most solemn rites and sacrifices and the most splendid festivals, we have been companions in the dance and schoolmates and comrades in arms, and we have braved many dangers with you both by land and by sea in defense of the common safety and freedom of us both. In the name of the gods of our fathers and mothers, in the name of our ties of kinship and marriage and comradeship,--for all these many of us share with one another,--cease, out of shame before gods and men, to sin against your fatherland, and do not obey those most accursed Thirty, who for the sake of their private gain have killed in eight months more Athenians, almost, than all the Peloponnesians in ten years of war. And when we might live in peace as fellow citizens, these men bring upon us war with one another, a war most utterly shameful and intolerable, utterly unholy and hated by both gods and men. Yet for all that, be well assured that for some of those now slain by our hands not only you, but we also, have wept bitterly".
  Thus he spoke; but the surviving officials of the oligarchy, partly because their followers were hearing such things, led them back to the city. On the following day the Thirty, utterly dejected and with but few adherents left, held their session in the council-chamber; and as for the Three Thousand, wherever their several detachments were stationed, everywhere they began to quarrel with one another. For all those who had done any act of especial violence and were therefore fearful, urged strenuously that they ought not to yield to the men in Piraeus; while those who were confident that they had done no wrong, argued in their own minds and set forth to the others that there was no need of their suffering these evils, and they said that they ought not to obey the Thirty or allow them to ruin the state. In the end they voted to depose the Thirty and choose others. And they chose ten, one from each tribe.
  The Thirty thereupon retired to Eleusis; and the Ten, with the aid of the cavalry commanders, took care of the men in the city, who were in a state of great disquiet and distrust of one another. In fact, even the cavalry did guard duty by night, being quartered in the Odeum and keeping with them both their horses and their shields; and such was the suspicion that prevailed, that they patrolled along the walls from evening onwards with their shields, and toward dawn with their horses, fearing continually that they might be attacked by parties of men from Piraeus. The latter, who were now numerous and included all sorts of people, were engaged in making shields, some of wood, others of wicker-work, and in painting them. And having given pledges that whoever fought with them should be accorded equality in taxation with citizens even if they were foreigners, they marched forth before ten days had passed, a large body of hoplites with numerous light troops; they also got together about seventy horsemen; and they made forays and collected wood and produce, and then came back to spend the night in Piraeus. As for the men in the city, none of them went forth from the walls under arms except the cavalry, who sometimes captured foraging parties made up of the men from Piraeus and inflicted losses upon their main body. They also fell in with some people of Aexone who were going to their own farms after provisions; and Lysimachus, the cavalry commander, put these men to the sword, although they pleaded earnestly and many of the cavalrymen were much opposed to the proceeding. In retaliation, the men in Piraeus killed one of the cavalrymen, Callistratus, of the tribe of Leontis, having captured him in the country. For by this time they were very confident, so that they even made attacks upon the wall of the city. And perhaps it is proper to mention also the following device of the engineer in the city: when he learned that the enemy were intending to bring up their siege-engines by the race-course which leads from the Lyceum, he ordered all his teams to haul stones each large enough to load a wagon and drop them at whatever spot in the course each driver pleased. When this had been done, each single one of the stones caused the enemy a great deal of trouble.
  And now, when the Thirty in Eleusis sent ambassadors to Lacedaemon, and likewise those in the city who were on the roll, and asked for aid on the plea that the commons had revolted from the Lacedaemonians, Lysander, calculating that it was possible to blockade the men in Piraeus both by land and by sea and to force them to a quick surrender if they were cut off from provisions, lent his assistance to the ambassadors, with the result that a hundred talents was loaned to the Athenian oligarchs and that Lysander himself was sent out as governor on land and his brother Libys as admiral of the fleet. Accordingly, Lysander proceeded to Eleusis and busied himself with gathering a large force of Peloponnesian hoplites; meanwhile the admiral kept guard on the sea, to prevent any supplies from coming in by water to the besieged; so that the men in Piraeus were soon in difficulties again, while the men in the city again had their turn of being confident, in reliance upon Lysander. While matters were proceeding in this way, Pausanias the king, seized with envy of Lysander because, by accomplishing this project, he would not only win fame but also make Athens his own, persuaded three of the five ephors and led forth a Lacedaemonian army. And all the allies likewise followed with him, excepting the Boeotians and the Corinthians; and the plea of these was that they did not think they would be true to their oaths if they took the field against the Athenians when the latter were doing nothing in violation of the treaty; in fact, however, they acted as they did because they supposed that the Lacedaemonians wanted to make the territory of the Athenians their own sure possession.
  So Pausanias encamped on the plain which is called Halipedum, near Piraeus, himself commanding the right wing, while Lysander and his mercenaries formed the left. Then, sending ambassadors to the men in Piraeus, Pausanias bade them disperse to their homes; and when they refused to obey, he attacked them, at least so far as to raise the war-cry, in order that it might not be evident that he felt kindly toward them. And when he had retired without accomplishing anything by his attack, on the next day he took two regiments of the Lacedaemonians and three tribes of the Athenian cavalry and proceeded along the shore to the Still Harbour, looking to see where Piraeus could best be shut off by a wall. As he was returning, some of the enemy attacked him and caused him trouble, whereupon, becoming angry, he ordered the cavalry to charge upon them at full speed, and the infantrymen within ten years of military age to follow the cavalry; while he himself with the rest of his troops came along in the rear. And they killed nearly thirty of the enemy's light troops and pursued the rest to the theatre in Piraeus. There, as it chanced, the whole body of the light troops and likewise the hoplites of the men in Piraeus were arming themselves. And the light troops, rushing forth at once, set to throwing javelins, hurling stones, shooting arrows, and discharging slings; then the Lacedaemonians, since many of them were being wounded and they were hard pressed, gave ground, though still facing the enemy; and at this the latter attacked much more vigorously. In this attack Chaeron and Thibrachus, both of them polemarchs, were slain, and Lacrates, the Olympic victor, and other Lacedaemonians who lie buried before the gates of Athens in the Cerameicus. Now Thrasybulus and the rest of his troops--that is, the hoplites--when they saw the situation, came running to lend aid, and quickly formed in line, eight deep, in front of their comrades. And Pausanias, being hard pressed and retreating about four or five stadia to a hill, sent orders to the Lacedaemonians and to the allies to join him. There he formed an extremely deep phalanx and led the charge against the Athenians. The Athenians did indeed accept battle at close quarters; but in the end some of them were pushed into the mire of the marsh of Halae and others gave way; and about one hundred and fifty of them were slain.
  Thereupon Pausanias set up a trophy and returned to his camp; and despite what had happened he was not angry with them, but sent secretly and instructed the men in Piraeus to send ambassadors to him and the ephors who were with him, telling them also what proposals these ambassadors should offer; and they obeyed him. He also set about dividing the men in the city, and gave directions that as many of them as possible should gather together and come to him and the ephors and say that they had no desire to be waging war with the men in Piraeus, but rather to be reconciled with them and in common with them to be friends of the Lacedaemonians. Now Naucleidas also, who was an ephor, was pleased to hear this. For, as it is customary for two of the ephors to be with a king on a campaign, so in this instance Naucleidas and one other were present, and both of them held to the policy of Pausanias rather than to that of Lysander. For this reason they eagerly sent to Lacedaemon both the envoys from Piraeus, having the proposals for peace with the Lacedaemonians, and the envoys from the city party as private individuals, namely, Cephisophon and Meletus. When, however, these men had departed for Lacedaemon, the authorities in the city also proceeded to send ambassadors, with the message that they surrendered both the walls which they possessed and themselves to the Lacedaemonians, to do with them as they wished; and they said they counted it only fair that the men in Piraeus, if they claimed to be friends of the Lacedaemonians, should in like manner surrender Piraeus and Munichia. When the ephors and the members of the Lacedaemonian assembly had heard all the ambassadors, they dispatched fifteen men to Athens and commissioned them, in conjunction with Pausanias, to effect a reconciliation in the best way they could. And they effected a reconciliation on these terms, that the two parties should be at peace with one another and that every man should depart to his home except the members of the Thirty, and of the Eleven, and of the Ten who had ruled in Piraeus. They also decided that if any of the men in the city were afraid, they should settle at Eleusis.
  When these things had been accomplished, Pausanias disbanded his army and the men from Piraeus went up to the Acropolis under arms and offered sacrifice to Athena. When they had come down, the generals convened an Assembly. There Thrasybulus spoke as follows: "I advise you", he said, "men of the city, to 'know yourselves'. And you would best learn to know yourselves were you to consider what grounds you have for arrogance, that you should undertake to rule over us. Are you more just? But the commons, though poorer than you, never did you any wrong for the sake of money; while you, though richer than any of them, have done many disgraceful things for the sake of gain. But since you can lay no claim to justice, consider then whether it is courage that you have a right to pride yourselves upon. And what better test could there be of this than the way we made war upon one another? Well then, would you say that you are superior in intelligence, you who having a wall, arms, money, and the Peloponnesians as allies, have been worsted by men who had none of these? Is it the Lacedaemonians, then, think you, that you may pride yourselves upon? How so? Why, they have delivered you up to this outraged populace, just as men fasten a clog upon the necks of snapping dogs and deliver them up to keepers, and now have gone away and left you. Nevertheless, my comrades, I am not the man to ask you to violate any one of the pledges to which you have sworn, but I ask you rather to show this virtue also, in addition to your other virtues,--that you are true to your oaths and are god-fearing men". When he had said this and more to the same effect, and had told them that there was no need of their being disturbed, but that they had only to live under the laws that had previously been in force, he dismissed the Assembly.
  So at that time they appointed their magistrates and proceeded to carry on their government; but at a later period, on learning that the men at Eleusis were hiring mercenary troops, they took the field with their whole force against them, put to death their generals when they came for a conference, and then, by sending to the others their friends and kinsmen, persuaded them to become reconciled. And, pledged as they were under oath, that in very truth they would not remember past grievances, the two parties even to this day live together as fellow-citizens and the commons abide by their oaths.

This extract is from: Xenophon, Hellenica. Cited Aug 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlink

You are able to search for more information in greater and/or surrounding areas by choosing one of the titles below and clicking on "more".

GTP Headlines

Receive our daily Newsletter with all the latest updates on the Greek Travel industry.

Subscribe now!
Greek Travel Pages: A bible for Tourism professionals. Buy online

Ferry Departures