Among those thus held in bonds and imprisonment for trial was Andocides the orator, whom Hellanicus the historian included among the descendants of Odysseus. He was held to be a foe to popular government, and an oligarch, but what most made him suspected of the mutilation of the Hermae, was the tall Hermes which stood near his house, a dedication of the Aegeid tribe.
This was almost the only one among the very few statues of like prominence to remain unharmed. For this reason it is called to this day the Hermes of Andocides. Everybody gives it that name, in spite of the adverse testimony of its inscription.
Now it happened that, of all those lying in prison with him under the same charge, Andocides became most intimate and friendly with a man named Timaeus, of less repute than himself, it is true, but of great sagacity and daring.
This man persuaded Andocides to turn state's evidence against himself and a few others. If he confessed,—so the man argued,—he would have immunity from punishment by decree of the people; whereas the result of the trial, while uncertain in all cases, was most to be dreaded in that of influential men like himself. It was better to save his life by a false confession of crime, than to die a shameful death under a false charge of that crime. One who had an eye to the general welfare of the community might well abandon to their fate a few dubious characters, if he could thereby save a multitude of good men from the wrath of the people.
By such arguments of Timaeus, Andocides was at last persuaded to bear witness against himself and others. He himself received the immunity from punishment which had been decreed; but all those whom he named, excepting such as took to flight, were put to death, and Andocides added to their number some of his own household servants, that he might the better be believed.
Still, the people did not lay aside all their wrath at this point, but rather, now that they were done with the Hermae-defacers, as if their passion had all the more opportunity to vent itself, they dashed like a torrent against Alcibiades, and finally dispatched the Salaminian state-galley to fetch him home. They shrewdly gave its officers explicit command not to use violence, nor to seize his person, but with all moderation of speech to bid him accompany them home to stand his trial and satisfy the people.
For they were afraid that their army, in an enemy's land, would be full of tumult and mutiny at the summons. And Alcibiades might easily have effected this had he wished. For the men were cast down at his departure, and expected that the war, under the conduct of Nicias, would be drawn out to a great length by delays and inactivity, now that their goad to action had been taken away. Lamachus, it is true, was a good soldier and a brave man; but he lacked authority and prestige because he was poor.