The two parties in the Council.
The Council of the Four Hundred comprised two distinct elements, — those thorough oligarchs who had been the core of the conspiracy; and a number of other men, more or less indifferent to the ideas of oligarchy, who had accepted the Revolution because they believed that it alone could save Athens. Had the new Government been able to conciliate or to frighten the army at Samos, both sorts of men would have been satisfied, and the Council would have gone on working, for a time at least, as a seemingly harmonious whole. But the resolute hostility of the army, which at once
made the case of the Four Hundred really hopeless, brought the discord to light forthwith. The Council was thenceforth divided into an Extreme and a Moderate party. Among the leaders of the Extreme party were Peisandros, Phrynichos, Aristarchos, Archeptolemos, Onomakles and Antiphon. The Moderates were led by Theramenes and Aristokrates. Two chief questions were in dispute between the parties. The Moderates wished to call into political life the nominal civic body of Five Thousand; the ultra-oligarchs objected that it was better, at such a crisis, to avoid all chance of a popular rising. The ultra-oligarchs were fortifying Eëtioneia, alleging the danger of an attack from Samos; the Moderates accused them of wishing to receive Peloponnesian troops.
The Extreme party was soon driven, in May 411 B. C., to the last resource of an embassy to Sparta. Phrynichos, Antiphon, Archeptolemos, Onomakles and eight others1
were sent ‘to make terms with the Lacedaemonians in any way that could at all be borne2
.’ Thucydides does not say what the envoys offered at Sparta or what answer they got; but he states plainly the length which he conceives that their party was ready to go. ‘They wished, if possible, having their oligarchy, at the same time to rule the allies; if that could not be, to keep their ships, their walls, and their
independence; or, if shut out even from this, at all events not to have their own lives taken first and foremost by the people on its restoration; sooner would they bring in the enemy and covenant to keep the city on any terms, without wall or ships, if only their persons should be safe.’ (Thuc. VIII. 91