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Affair of the Hermae.

The only glimpse of the life of Andokides before 415 B. C. is afforded by himself. He belonged to a set or club, of which one Euphiletos was a leading member1, and with which his address ‘To His Associates’ (πρὸς τοὺς ἑταίρους), mentioned by Plutarch, has sometimes been connected2. It was in May, 415, when he was about twenty-five, when the Peiraeus was alive with preparations for the sailing of the fleet to Sicily, and all men were full of dreams of a new empire opening to the city, that Athens was astonished by a sacrilege, of which it is hard now to realise the precise effect upon the Athenian mind. When it appeared that the images of Hermes throughout the town—in the marketplace, before the doors of houses, before the temples—had been mutilated in the night, the sense of a horrible impiety was joined to a sense of helplessness against revolution3; for to an Athenian it would occur instinctively that the motive of the mutilators had been not simply to insult, but to estrange, the tutelar gods of the city. This terror, while still fresh, was intensified by the rumoured travesties in private houses of the innermost sacrament of Greek religion, the Mysteries of Eleusis. In order to understand the position of Andokides, it is necessary to keep these two affairs distinct. There is nothing to shew that he was in any way concerned, as accomplice or as informer, with the profanation of the Mysteries. As a matter of course, the author of the speech against him asserts it4; but his own denial is emphatic and clear5, and agrees with what is known from other sources. It was in the affair of the Hermae alone that he was implicated. The first important evidence in this matter was given by Teukros, a resident-alien, who had fled to Megara, and who was brought back to give information under a promise of impunity. This man denounced twelve persons as guilty in regard to the Mysteries, and eighteen as mutilators of the Hermae. Among the eighteen were Euphiletos and other members of the club to which Andokides belonged; of whom some were at once put to death, and others fled6.

But there was a very general belief that the bottom of the matter had not been reached, and that the conspiracy had been far more widely spread; a belief which the commissioners of enquiry, especially Peisandros, seem to have encouraged. As usual in such cases, the demand for discoveries created the supply. Diokleides, the Titus Oates of this plot, came forward to state that the conspiracy included no less than three hundred persons. Fortytwo of these were denounced, among whom were Andokides, his father, his brother-in-law and ten other of his relatives. They were imprisoned at once; Diokleides was feasted as a public benefactor at the Prytaneion; and the whole town spent the night under arms, panic-stricken by the extent of the conspiracy,—not knowing whence, when, or in what strength they might be attacked by the enemies of gods and men7. Andokides has described the first night in prison. Wives, sisters, children, who had been allowed to come to their friends, joined in their tears and cries of despair. Then it was that Charmides, one of his cousins, besought him to tell all that he knew, and to save his father, his relations and all the innocent citizens who were threatened with an infamous death. Andokides yielded. He was brought before the Council, and stated that the story of Teukros was true. The eighteen who had died or fled were indeed guilty. But there were four more whom Teukros had left out, and whom Andokides now named. These four fled8.

1 De Myst. §§ 61—63. Euphiletos is there described as proposing the sacrilege at a convivial meeting of the club (εἰσηγἠσατο... πινόντων ἡμῶν § 61). Its members were intimate associates (ἐπιτήδειοι § 63: cf. οἷς ἐχρῶ καὶ οἷς συνῆσθα § 49). There is nothing to show that this club of young men was anything so serious as a political ἑταιρεία.

2 Plut. Them. c. 32. See ch. VI. ad fin.

3 Thuc. VI. 27 καὶ τὸ πρᾶγμα μειζόνως ἐλάμβανον: τοῦ τε γὰρ ἔκπλου οἰωνὸς ἐδόκει εἶναι καὶ ἐπὶ ξυνωμοσίᾳ ἅμα νεωτέρων πραγμάτων καὶ δήμου καταλύσεως γεγενῆσθαι. Cf. Isokr. de Bigis § 6.

4 [Lys.] in Andok. § 51 μιμούμενος τὰ ἱερὰ ἐπεδείκνυε τοῖς ἀμυήτοις, κ.τ.λ.

5 Andok. de Myst. § 29 περὶ μὲν τῶν μυστηρίων...ἀποδέδεικταί μοι ὡς οὔτε ἠσέβηκα οὔτε μεμήνυκα, κ.τ.λ.

6 De Myst. § 35.

7 De Myst. § 45.

8 De Myst. § 68.

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