During the same summer, and just at the time when the Peloponnesians were most offended with Tissaphernes on various grounds, and above all on account of the restoration of Alcibiades, which finally proved him to be a partisan of the Athenians, he, as if he were wanting to clear himself of these suspicions, prepared to go to Aspendus and fetch the Phoenician ships; and he desired Lichas to go with him. He also said1
that he would assign the charge of the army to his lieutenant Tamos, who would provide for them during his absence.
Why he went to Aspendus, and having gone there never brought the ships, is a question not easy to answer, and which has been answered in various ways.
For the Phoenician fleet of a hundred and forty-seven ships came as far as Aspendus—there is no doubt about this; but why they never came further is matter of conjecture. Some think that, in going to Aspendus, Tissaphernes was still pursuing his policy of wearing out the Peloponnesians; at any rate Tamos, who was in charge, supplied them no better, but rather worse. Others are of opinion that he brought up the Phoenician fleet to Aspendus in order to make money by selling the crews their discharge; for he certainly had no idea of using them in actual service. Others think that he was influenced by the outcry against him which had reached Lacedaemon; and that he wanted to create an impression of his honesty: 'Now at any rate he has gone to fetch the ships, and they are really manned.'
I believe beyond all question that he wanted to wear out and to neutralise the Hellenic forces; his object was to damage them both while he was losing time in going to Aspendus, and to paralyse their action, and not strengthen either of them by his alliance. For if he had chosen to finish the war, finished it might have been once for all, as any one may see: he would have brought up the ships, and would in all probability have given the victory to the Lacedaemonians, who lay opposite to the Athenians and were fully a match for them already.
The excuse which he gave for not bringing them is the most conclusive evidence against him; he said that there was not as many collected as the King had commanded. But if so, the King would have been all the better pleased, for his money would have been saved and Tissaphernes would have accomplished the same result at less expense.
Whatever may have been his intention, Tissaphernes came to Aspendus and conferred with the Phoenicians, and the Peloponnesians at his request sent Philip, a Lacedaemonian, with two triremes to fetch the ships.