89.the envoys sent by the Four Hundred to Samos arrived at Athens.Upon their delivering the message from Alcibiades, telling them to hold out
and to show a firm front to the enemy, and saying that he had great hopes of
reconciling them with the army and of overcoming the Peloponnesians, the
majority of the members of the oligarchy, who were already discontented and
only too much inclined to be quit of the business in any safe way that they
could, were at once greatly strengthened in their resolve.
These now banded together and strongly criticised the administration, their
leaders being some of the principal generals and men in office under the
oligarchy, such as Theramenes, son of Hagnon, Aristocrates, son of Scellias,
and others; who, although among the most prominent members of the government
（being afraid, as they said, of the army at Samos, and most
especially of Alcibiades, and also lest the envoys whom they had sent to
Lacedaemon, might do the state some harm without the authority of the
people）, without insisting on objections to the excessive
concentration of power in a few hands, yet urged that the Five Thousand must
be shown to exist not merely in name but in reality, and the constitution
placed upon a fairer basis.
But this was merely their political cry; most of them being driven by private ambition into the line of conduct so
surely fatal to oligarchies that arise out of democracies.For all at once pretend to be not only equals but each the chief and master
of his fellows; while under a democracy a disappointed candidate accepts his defeat more
easily, because he has not the humiliation of being beaten by his equals.
But what most clearly encouraged the malcontents was the power of
Alcibiades at Samos, and their own disbelief in the stability of the
oligarchy; and it was now a race between them as to which should first become the
leader of the commons.
Thucydides. The Peloponnesian War. London, J. M. Dent; New York, E. P. Dutton. 1910.
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