Meanwhile the Athenian generals who were besieging Chalcedon made peace with Pharnabazus on condition that they receive a sum of money, that Chalcedon be subject again to Athens, that the territories of Pharnabazus be not ravaged, and that the said Pharnabazus furnish safe escort for an Athenian embassy to the King.
Accordingly, when Alcibiades came back from Selymbria, Pharnabazus demanded that he too take oath to the treaty; but Alcibiades refused to do so until Pharnabazus had taken his oath to it.
After the oaths had been taken, he went up against Byzantium, which was in revolt against Athens, and compassed the city with a wall.1
But after Anaxilaus, Lycurgus, and certain men besides had agreed to surrender the city to him on condition that it be not plundered, he spread abroad the story that threatening complications in Ionia called him away. Then he sailed off in broad daylight with all his ships;
but in the night time stealthily returned. He disembarked with the men-at-arms under his own command, and stationed himself quietly within reach of the city's walls. His fleet, meanwhile, sailed to the harbor, and forcing its way in with much shouting and tumult and din, terrified the Byzantians by the unexpectedness of its attack, while it gave the party of Athens in the city a chance to admit Alcibiades in all security, since everybody had hurried off to the harbor and the fleet.
However, the day was not won without a battle. The Peloponnesians, Boeotians and Megarians who were in garrison at Byzantium routed the ships' crews and drove them back on board again. Then, perceiving that the Athenians were inside the city, they formed in battle array and advanced to attack them. A fierce battle followed, but Alcibiades was victorious with the right wing, as well as Theramenes with the left, and they took prisoners no less than three hundred of the enemy who survived.
Not a man of the Byzantians was put to death or sent into exile after the battle, for it was on these conditions that the men who surrendered the city had acted, and this was the agreement with them; they exacted no special grace for themselves. Therefore it was that when Anaxilaus was prosecuted at Sparta for treachery, his words showed clearly that his deeds had not been disgraceful. He said that he was not a Lacedaemonian, but a Byzantian, and it was not Sparta that was in peril. Considering therefore the case of Byzantium, he saw that the city was walled up, that no help could make its way in,
and that the provisions already in the city were being consumed by Peloponnesians and Boeotians, while the Byzantians were starving, together with their wives and children. He had, therefore, not betrayed the city to its enemies, but set it free from war and its horrors, therein imitating the noblest Lacedaemonians, in whose eyes the one unqualifiedly honorable and righteous thing is their country's good. The Lacedaemonians, on hearing this, were moved with sincere respect, and acquitted the men.