86.After his return the envoys of the Four Hundred sent, as has been mentioned
above, to pacify and explain matters to the forces at Samos, arrived from
Delos; and an assembly was held in which they attempted to speak.
The soldiers at first would not hear them, and cried out to put to death
the subverters of the democracy, but at last, after some difficulty, calmed
down and gave them a hearing.
Upon this the envoys proceeded to inform them that the recent change had
been made to save the city, and not to ruin it or to deliver it over to the
enemy, for they had already had an opportunity of doing this when he invaded
the country during their government; that all the Five Thousand would have their proper share in the government; and that their hearers' relatives had neither outrage, as Chaereas had
slanderously reported, nor other ill-treatment to complain of, but were all
in undisturbed enjoyment of their property just as they had left them.
Besides these they made a number of other statements which had no better
success with their angry auditors; and amid a host of different opinions the one which found most favour was
that of sailing to Piraeus.Now it was that Alcibiades for the first time did the state a service, and
one of the most signal kind.For when the Athenians at Samos were bent upon sailing against their
countrymen, in which case Ionia and the Hellespont would most certainly at
once have passed into possession of the enemy, Alcibiades it was who
At that moment, when no other man would have been able to hold back the
multitude, he put a stop to the intended expedition, and rebuked and turned
aside the resentment felt, on personal grounds, against the envoys;
he dismissed them with an answer from himself, to the effect that he did
not object to the government of the Five Thousand, but insisted that the
Four Hundred should be deposed and the Council of Five Hundred reinstated in
power: meanwhile any retrenchments for economy, by which pay might be better
found for the armament, met with his entire approval.
Generally, he bade them hold out and show a bold face to the enemy, since
if the city were saved there was good hope that the two parties might some
day be reconciled, whereas if either were once destroyed, that at Samos, or
that at Athens, there would no longer be any one to be reconciled to.
Meanwhile arrived envoys from the Argives, with offers of support to the
Athenian commons at Samos: these were thanked by Alcibiades, and dismissed
with a request to come when called upon.
The Argives were accompanied by the crew of the Paralus, whom we left
placed in a troopship by the Four Hundred with orders to cruise round
Euboea, and who being employed to carry to Lacedaemon some Athenian envoys
sent by the Four Hundred, Laespodias, Aristophon, and Melesias, as they
sailed by Argos laid hands upon the envoys, and delivering them over to the
Argives as the chief subverters of the democracy, themselves, instead of
returning to Athens, took the Argive envoys on board, and came to Samos in
the galley which had been confided to them.
Thucydides. The Peloponnesian War. London, J. M. Dent; New York, E. P. Dutton. 1910.
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