), the Athenian general and statesman, son of Phocus, was a man of humble origin, and appears to have been born in B. C. 402 (see Clint. F. H.
sub annis 376, 317).
According to Plutarch he studied under Plato and Xenocrates, and if we may believe the statement in Suidas (s. v. Φιλίσκος Αἰγινήτης
), Diogenes also numbered him among his disciples.
He distin. guished himself for the first time under his friend Chabrias, in B. C. 376, at the battle of Naxos, in which he commanded the left wing of the Athenian fleet, and contributed in a great measure to the victory [CHABRIAS].
After the battle Chabrias sent him to the islands to demand their contributions (συντάξεις
), and offered him a squadron of twenty ships for the service; but Phocion refused them, with the remark that they were too few to act against an enemy, and too many to deal with friends; and sailing to the several allies with only one galley, he obtained a large supply by his frank and conciliatory bearing. Plutarch tells us that his skill and gallantry at the battle of Naxos caused his countrymen thenceforth to regard him as one likely to do them good service as a general. Yet for many years, during which Chabrias, Iphicrates, and Timotheus chiefly filled the public eye, we do not find Phocion mentioned as occupied prominently in any capacity.
But we cannot suppose that he held himself aloof all this time from active business, though we know that he was never anxious to be employed by the state, and may well believe that he had imbibed from Plato principles and visions of social polity, which must in a measure have indisposed him for public life, though they did not actually keep him from it. In B. C. 351 he undertook, together with Evagoras, the command of the forces which had been collected by Idrieus, prince of Caria, for the purpose of reducing Cyprus into submission to Artaxerxes III. (Ochus), and they succeeded in conquering the whole island, with the exception of Salamis, where Pnytagoras held out against them until he found means of reconciling himself to the Persian king. [EVAGORAS, No. 2.] To the next year (B. C. 350) Phocion's expedition to Euboea and the battle of Tamynae are referred by Clinton, whom we have followed above in Vol. I. p. 568a; but his grounds for this date are not at all satisfactory, and the events in question should probably be referred to B. C. 354.
The vote for the expedition was passed against the advice of Demosthenes, and in consequence of an application from Plutarchus, tyrant of Eretria, for assistance against CALLIAS. The Athenians, however, appear to have over-rated the strength of their party in the island, and neglected therefore to provide a sufficient force.
The little army of Phocion was still further thinned by desertions, which he made no effort to check, remarking that those who fled were not good soldiers enough to be of use to the enemy, and that for his part he thought himself well rid of them, since their consciousness of their own misconduct would stop their mouths at home, and silence their slanders against him.
In the course of the campaign he was drawn into a position at Tamynae, where defeat would have been fatal, and his danger was moreover increased by the rashness or treachery of his ally Plutarchus : but he gained the day by his skill and coolness after an obstinate engagement, and, dealing thenceforth with Plutarchus as an enemy, drove him from Eretria, and occupied a fortress named Zaretra, conveniently situated between the eastern and western seas, in the narrowest part of the island. All the Greek prisoners who fell into his hands here, he released, lest the Athenians should wreak their vengeance on them; and on his departure, his loss was much felt by the allies of Athens, whose cause declined grievously under his successor, Molossus.
It was perhaps in B. C. 343 that, a conspiracy having been formed by Ptoeodorus and some of the other chief citizens in Megara to betray the town to Philip (Plut. Phoc. 15
; comp. Dem. de Cor.
pp. 242, 324, de Fals. Leq.
pp. 435, 436), the Megarians applied to Athens for aid, and Phocion was sent thither in command of a force with which he fortified the port Nisaea, and joined it by two long walls to the city.
The expedition, if it is to be referred to this occasion, was successful, and the design of the conspirators was baffled. In B. C. 341 Phocion commanded the troops which were despatched to Euboea, on the motion of Demosthenes, to act against the party of Philip, and succeeded in expelling Cleitarchus and Philistides from Eretria and Oreus respectively, and establishing the Athenian ascendancy in the island. [CALLIAS ; CLEITARCHUS.] In B. C. 340, when the Athenians, indignant at the refusal of the Byzantians to receive Chares, who had been sent to their aid against Philip, were disposed to interfere no further in the war, Phocion reminded them that their anger should be directed, not against their allies for their distrust, but against their own generals, whose conduct had excited it.
The people recognised the justice of this, and passed a vote for a fresh force, to the command of which Phocion himself was elected. On his arrival at Byzantium, he did not attempt to enter the city, but encamped outside the walls. Cleon, however, a Byzantian, who had been his friend and fellowpupil in the Academy, pledged himself to his countrymen for his integrity, and the Athenians were admitted into the town. Here they gained the good opinion of all by their orderly and irreproachable conduct, and exhibited the greatest courage and zeal against the besiegers.
The result was that Philip was compelled to abandon his attempts on Perinthus and Byzantium, and to evacuate the Chersonesus, while Phocion took Several of his ships, recovered some of the cities which were garrisoned with Macedonian troops, and made descents on many parts of the coast, over-running and ravaging the enemy's territory.
In the course of these operations, however, he received some severe wounds, and was obliged to sail awav.
According to Plutarch, Phocion, after this success of the Athenian arms, strongly recommended peace with Philip. His opinion we know was over-ruled, and the counsels of Demosthenes prevailed; and the last desperate struggle, which ended in 338 so fatally for Greece at Chaeroneia, was probably regarded by Phocion with little of sympathy, and less of hope. When, however, Philip had summoned all the Greek states to a general congress at Corinth, and Demades proposed that Athens should send deputies thither, Phocion advised his countrymen to pause until it should be ascertained what Philip would demand of the confederates. His counsel was again rejected, but the Athenians afterwards repented that they had not followed it, when they found contributions of ships and cavalry imposed on them by the congress. On the murder of Philip in 336 becoming known at Athens, Demosthenes proposed a public sacrifice of thanksgiving for the tidings, and the establishment of religious honours to the memory of the assassin Pausanias; but Phocion resisted the proposal on the two-fold ground, that such signs of joy betokened a mean spirit, and that, after all, the army which had conquered at Chaeroneia was diminished only by one man.
The second reason he could hardly expect to pass current, so transparent is its fallacy; but it seems that, on the whole, his representations succeeded in checking the unseemly exultation of the people. When, in B. C. 335, Alexander
was marching towards Thebes, Phocion rebuked Demosthenes for his invectives against the king, and complained that he was recklessly endangering Athens, and after the destruction of Thebes, he advised the Athenians to comply with Alexander's
demand for the surrender of Demosthenes and other chief orators of the anti-Macedonian party, urging at the same time on these objects of the conqueror's anger the propriety of devoting themselves for the public good, like those ancient heroines, the daughters of Leos and the Hyacinthides.
This proposal, however, the latter portion of which sounds like sarcastic irony, was clamorously and indignantly rejected by the people, and an embassy was sent to Alexander
, which succeeded in deprecating his resentment [DEMADES].
According to Plutarch, there were two
embassies, the first of which Alexander
refused to receive, but to the second he gave a gracious audience, and granted its prayer, chiehy from regard to Phocion, who was at the head of it. (See Plut. Phoc. 17
23; Arr. Anab. 1.10
; Diod. 17.15
.) From the same author we learn that Alexander
ever continued to treat Phocion with the utmost consideration, and to cultivate his friendship, influenced no doubt, in great measure, by respect for his character, but not without an eye at the same time to his political sentiments, which were favourable to Macedonian ascendancy. Thus he addressed letters to him with a mode of salutation (χαίρειν
), which he adopted to no one else except Antipater.
He also pressed upon him valuable presents, and desired Craterus, whom he sent home with the veterans in B. C. 324, to give him his choice of four Asiatic cities. Phocion, however, persisted in refusing all such offers, begging the king to leave him no less honest than he found him, and only so far availed himself of the royal favour as to request the liberty of certain prisoners at Sardis, which was immediately granted to him. In B. C. 325, when Harpalus fled to Athens for refuge, he endeavoured, but of course in vain, to buy the good offices of Phocion, who moreover refused to support or countenance his own son-in-law, Charicles, when the latter was afterwards brought to trial for having taken bribes from the fugitive. When, however, Antipater and Philoxenus required of the Athenmans the surrender of Harpalus, Phocion joined Demosthenes in advising them to resist the demand; but their efforts were unsuccessful, and the rebel was thrown into prison till Alexander's
pleasure should be known [HARPALUS].
After the death of Harpalus, according to Plutarch, a daughter of his by his mistress Pythionice was taken care of and brought up by Charicles and Phocion.
When the tidings of Alexander's
death reached Athens. in B. C. 323, Phocion fruitlessly attempted to moderate the impatient joy of the people; and the proposal which soon followed for war with Antipater, he opposed vehemently, and with all the caustic bitterness which characterised him. Thus, to Hypereides, who asked him tauntingly when he would advise the Athenians to go to war, he answered, "When I see the young willing to keep their ranks, the rich to contribute of their wealth, and the orators to abstain from pilfering the public money ;" and he rebuked the confidence of the newly-elected general, Leosthenes, with the remark, "Young man, your words are like cypress trees ; stately and high they are, but they bear no fruit."
In the same spirit he received the news of the first successes of the confederate Greeks, exclaiming sarcastically, "When shall we have done conquering?"
It is no wonder then that, on the death of Leosthenes before Lamia, the Athenians shrunk front appointing Phocion to conduct the war, and elected Antiphilus in preference. Shortly after this he restrained his countrymen, with difficulty and at the peril of his life, from a rash expedition they were anxious to make against the Boeotian towns, which sided with Macedonia; and in the same year (323) he defeated Micion, a Macedonian nian officer, who had made a descent on the coast of Attica, and who was slain in the battle. In B. C. 322 the victory gained over the Greeks at Cranon in Thessaly, by the Macedonian forces, placed Athens at the mercy of Antipater; and Phocion, as the most influential man of the anti-national party, was sent, with Demades and others, to the colnqueror, then encamped in the Cadmeia, to obtain the best terms they could. Among these there was one, viz. the admission of a Macedonian garrison into Munychia, which Phocion strove, but to no purpose, to induce Antipater to dispense with.
The garrison, however, was commanded by Menyllus, a good and moderate man, and a friend of Phocion's; and the latter, by his influence with the new rulers of his country, contrived to soften in several respects her hard lot of servitude. Thus he prevailed on Antipater to recall many who had gone into exile, and to grant the Athenians a longer time for the payment of the expenses of the war, to which the terms of the capitulation bound them.
At the same time he preserved, as he had always done, his own personal integrity unshaken.
He refused all the presents offered him by Menyilus, with the remark that Menyllus was not a greater man than Alexander
, whose gifts he had before declined; and he told Antipater, when he required of him some unbefitting action, that he could not have in him at once a friend and a flatterer.
On the death of Antipater in B. C. 319, Cassander, anxious to anticipate his rival Polysperchon in making himself master of Athens, sent Nicanor to supersede Menyllus in Munychia, as if by Antipater's authority, and when the real state of the case became known, Phocion did not escape the suspicion of having been privy to the deceit.
He certainly gave a colour to the charge by his intimacy with Nicanor, with whom however, as before with Menyllus, he used his influence in behalf of his fellow-citizens.
But the discontent which his conduct had excited in them was still further increased by his obstinate refusal to distrust Nicanor or to take any steps against him, when the latter, instead of withdrawing the garrison in obedience to the decree of Polysperchon, continued to delude the Athenians with evasions and pretences, till he at length succeeded in occupying the Peiraeeus as well as Munchyia, and then declared openly that he meant to hold them both for Cassander. Shortly after this, Alexander, the son of Polysperchon, arrived at Athens, with the supposed intention of delivering it from Nicanor, and re-establishing democracy. Many Athenian exiles came with him, as well as a number of strangers and disfranchised citizens, and by the votes of these in the assembly Phocion was deposed from his office.
He then, according to Diodorus, persuaded Alexander that he could not maintain his hold on the city without seizing Munychia and the Peiraeens for himself, a design, however, which Alexander had doubtless already formed before any communication with Phocion.
But the Athenians at any rate regarded the latter as the author of it; and their suspicions being further roused by the private conferences of Alexander with Nicanor, Phocion was accused of treason by Agnonides and fled, with several of his friends, to Alexander, who sent them with letters of recommendation to Polysperchon, then encamped at Pharygae, a village of Phocis. Hither there came also at the same time an Athenian embassy, with Agnonides at the head of it, to accuse Phocion and his adherents. Polysperchon, having donbtless less made up his mind to sacrifice them as a peaceoffering to the Athenians, whom he meant still to, curb with a garrison, listened with favour to the charges, but would not hear the reply of the accused, and Phocion and his friends were sent back in waggons to Athens for the people to deal with them as they would. Here again, in an assembly mainly composed of a mixed mob of disfranchised citizens, and foreigners, and slaves, Phocion strove in vain to obtain a hearing.
By some it was even proposed that he should be tortured; but this was not tolerated even by Agnonides.
The sentence of death, however, was carrie by acclamation, and appears to have been executed forthwith. To the last, Phocion maintained his calm, and dignified and somewhat contemptuous bearing. When some wretched man spat upon him as he passed to the prison, "Will no one," said he," check this fellow's indecency?" To one who asked hint whether he had any message to leave for his son Phocus, he answered, "Only that he bear no grudge against the Athenians." And when the hemlock which had been prepared was found insufficient for all the condemned, and the jailer would not furnish more until he was paid for it, "Give the man his money," said Phocion to one of his friends, "since at Athens one cannot even die for nothing."
He perished in B. C. 317. at the age of 85.
In accordance with the law against traitors, his body was cast out on the conlinles of Attica and Megara (see Dict. of Ant. s. v. Prolosia
), and his friends were obliged to hire a nman, who was in the habit of undertaking such services, to burn it. His bones were reverently gathered up and buried by a woman of Megara; and afterwards, when the people repented of their conduct, were brought back to Athens, and interred at the public expense.
A brazen statue was then raised to his memory, Agnonides was condemned to death, and two more of his accusers, Epicurus and Demophilus, having fled from the city, were overtaken and slain by Phocus.
Phocion was twice married, and his second wife appears to have been as simple and frugal in her habits as himself; but he was less fortunate in his son Phocus, who, in spite of his father's lessons stand example, was a thorough profligate.
As for Phocion himself, our commendation of him must be almost wholly confined to his private qualities.
He is said to have been the last eminent Athenian who united the two characters of general and statesman; but he does not appear to advantage in the latter capacity. Contrasting, it may be, the Platonic ideal of a commonwealth with the actual corruption of his counltrymen, he neither retired, like his master, into his own thoughts, nor did he throw himself, with the noble energy of Demosthenes, into a practical struggle with the evil before him. His fellow-citizens may have been degenerate, but he made no effort to elevate them.
He could do nothing better than despair and rail. We may therefore well believe that his patriotism was not very profound; we may be quite sure that it was not very wise.
As a matter of fact, he mainly contributed to destroy the independence of Athens; and he serves to prove to us that private worth and purity, though essential conditions indeed of public virtue, are no infallible guarantee for it. (Plut. Phocion, Demosthenes, Reg. et Imp. Apoph. ;
C. Nep. Phocion ; Diod. 16.42
, &c.; Ael. VH 1.25
; V. Max. 3.8
. Ext. 2, 5.3. Ext. 3; Ath. iv. p. 168, x. p. 419; Heyne, Opusc.
iii. pp. 346-363; Droysen, Alex. Gesch. der Nachf. Alex. ;
vols. v. vi. vii.)