However, this time he had good fortune, served as general most successfully along with Demosthenes, and within the time which he had specified brought home as prisoners of war, their arms surrendered, all the Spartans on Sphacteria who had not fallen in battle. This success of Cleon's brought great discredit on Nicias. He was thought not merely to have cast away his shield, but to have done something far more disgraceful and base in voluntarily throwing up his command out of cowardice, and in abandoning to his enemy the opportunity for so great a success,—actually voting himself out of office.
For this, Aristophanes again scoffs at him in his
,’ in words like these:—
And lo! by Zeus! we can no longer doze about,—1
We have no time,—nor shilly-shally-niciasize;
and in his
,’ where he writes:—
I want to go a-farming.
Pray who hinders you?
You people do. Come! Let me give a thousand drachms
If you'll release me from my offices.
Yours make two thousand, counting those that Nicias gave.
And besides, he wrought no little harm to the city in allowing Cleon to have such an access of reputation and influence that he launched out into offensive pride and ungovernable boldness and inflicted many mischiefs on the city, the bitter fruits of which he himself reaped most abundantly. Worst of all, Cleon stripped the bema of its decorum, setting the fashion of yelling when he harangued the people, of throwing back his robe, slapping his thigh, and running about while speaking. He thus imbued the managers of the city's policies with that levity and contempt for propriety which soon after confounded the whole state.