Meanwhile the Athenians, seeing that the1
Plataeans, who were their friends, had been expelled from Boeotia and had fled to them for refuge, and that the Thespians were beseeching them not to allow them to be left without a city, no longer commended the Thebans, but, on the contrary, while they were partly ashamed to make war upon2
them and partly reckoned it to be inexpedient, they nevertheless refused any longer to take part with them in what they were doing, inasmuch as they saw that they were campaigning against the Phocians, who were old friends of the Athenians, and were annihilating cities which had been faithful in the war against the barbarian3
and were friendly to Athens.
For these reasons the Athenian people voted to make peace, and in the first place sent ambassadors to Thebes to invite the Thebans to go with them to Lacedaemon to treat for peace if they so desired; then they sent ambassadors to Lacedaemon themselves. Among those who were chosen were Callias, the son of Hipponicus; Autocles, the son of Strombichides; Demostratus, the son of Aristophon; Aristocles, Cephisodotus, Melanopus, and Lycaethus.
Callistratus, the popular orator, also went with the embassy; for he had promised Iphicrates that if he would let him go home, he would either send money for the fleet or bring about peace, and consequently he had been at Athens and engaged in efforts to secure peace; and when the ambassadors came before the assembly of the Lacedaemonians and the representatives of their allies, the first of them who spoke was Callias, the torch-bearer.4
He was the sort of man to enjoy no less being praised by himself than by others, and on this occasion he began in about the following words:
“Men of Lacedaemon, as regards the position I hold as your diplomatic agent, I am not the only member of our family who has held it, but my father's father received it from his father and handed5
it on to his descendants; and I also wish to make clear to you how highly esteemed we have been by our own state. For whenever there is war she chooses us as generals, and whenever she becomes desirous of tranquillity she sends us out as peacemakers. I, for example, have twice before now come here to treat for a termination of war, and on both these embassies I succeeded in achieving peace both for you and for ourselves; now for a third time I am come, and it is now, I believe, that with greater justice than ever before I should obtain a reconciliation between us. For
I see that you do not think one way and we another, but that you as well as we are distressed over the destruction of Plataea and Thespiae. How, then, is it not fitting that men who hold the same views should be friends of one another rather than enemies? Again, it is certainly the part of wise men not to undertake war even if they should have differences, if they be slight; but if, in fact, we should actually find ourselves in complete agreement, should we not be astounding fools not to make peace? , while the Dioscuri, Castor and Pollux, were putative sons of Tyndareus of Sparta.
The right course, indeed, would have been for us not to take up arms against one another in the beginning, since the tradition is that the first strangers to whom Triptolemus,6
our ancestor, revealed the mystic rites of Demeter and Core were Heracles, your state's founder, and the Dioscuri, your citizens; and, further, that it was upon Peloponnesus that he first bestowed the seed of Demeter's fruit. How, then, can it be right,7
either that you should ever come to destroy the fruit of those very men from whom you received the seed, or that we should not desire those very men, to whom we gave the seed, to obtain the greatest possible abundance of food? But if it is indeed ordered of the gods that wars should come among men, then we ought to begin war as tardily as we can, and, when it has come, to bring it to an end as speedily as possible.”
After him Autocles, who had the reputation of being a very incisive orator, spoke as follows: “Men of Lacedaemon, that what I am about to say will not be said to your pleasure, I am not unaware; but it seems to me that men who desire the friendship which they may establish to endure for the longest possible time, ought to point out to one another the causes of their wars. Now you always say, `The cities must be independent,' but you are yourselves the greatest obstacle in the way of their independence. For the first stipulation you make with your allied cities is this, that they follow wherever you may lead. And yet how is this consistent with independence?
And you make for yourselves enemies without taking counsel with your allies, and against those enemies you lead them; so that frequently they who are said to be independent are compelled to take the field against men most friendly to themselves. Furthermore — and there can be nothing in the world more opposed to independence — you establish governments of ten here and governments of thirty there; and in the case of these rulers your care is, not that they shall rule according to law, but that they shall be able to hold possession of their cities by force. So that you manifestly take pleasure in despotisms rather8
than in free governments.
Again, when the King directed that the cities be independent, you showed yourselves strongly of the opinion that if the Thebans did not allow each one of their cities, not only to rule itself, but also to live under whatever laws it chose, they would not be acting in accordance with the King's writing; but when you had seized the Cadmea, you did not permit even the Thebans themselves to be independent. The right thing, however, is that those who are going to be friends should not insist upon obtaining their full rights from others, and then show themselves disposed to grasp the most they can.”
By these words he caused silence on the part of all, while at the same time he gave pleasure to those who were angry with the Lacedaemonians. After him Callistratus said: “Men of Lacedaemon, that mistakes have not been made, both on our side and on yours, I for one do not think I could assert; but I do not hold to the opinion that one ought never again to have any dealings with people who make mistakes. For I see that no one in the world remains always free from error. And it seems to me that through making mistakes men sometimes become even easier to deal with, especially if they have incurred punishment in consequence of their mistakes, as we have.
In your own case, also, I see that sometimes many reverses result from the things you have done with too little judgment, among which was, in fact, the seizure of the Cadmea in Thebes; now, at any rate, the cities which you were eager to make independent have all, in consequence of the wrong done to the Thebans, fallen again under their power. Hence I hope that now, when we have been9
taught that to seek selfish advantage is unprofitable, we shall again be reasonable in our friendship with each other.
Now touching the slanderous allegations of certain people who wish to defeat the peace, to the effect that we have come here, not because we desire friendship, but rather because we fear that Antalcidas may arrive with money from the King, consider how foolishly they are talking. For the King directed, as you know, that all the cities in Greece were to be independent; why then should we, who agree with the King in both word and deed, be afraid of him? Or does anyone imagine that the King prefers to spend money and make others great, rather than, without expense, to have those things accomplished for him which he judged to be best?
“So much for that. Why, then, have we come? That it surely is not because we are in straits, you could discover, if you please, by looking at the situation by sea or, if you please, at the situation by land at the present time. What, then, is the reason? Manifestly that some of our allies are doing what is not pleasing to us. And perhaps we also should like to show you the gratitude we rightly conceived toward you because you preserved us.10
Furthermore, to mention also the matter of expediency, there are, of course, among all the cities of Greece, some that take your side and others that take ours, and in each single city some people favour the Lacedaemonians and others the Athenians. If, therefore, we should become friends, from what quarter could11
we with reason expect any trouble? For who could prove strong enough to vex us by land if you were our friends? And who could do you any harm by sea if we were favourably inclined toward you?
Moreover, we all know that wars are forever breaking out and being concluded, and that we — if not now, still at some future time — shall desire peace again. Why, then, should we wait for the time when we shall have become exhausted by a multitude of ills, and not rather conclude peace as quickly as possible before anything irremediable happens?
Again, I for my part do not commend those men who, when they have become competitors in the games and have already been victorious many times and enjoy fame, are so fond of contest that they do not stop until they are defeated and so end their athletic training; nor on the other hand do I commend those dicers who, if they win one success, throw for double stakes, for I see that the majority of such people become utterly impoverished.
We, then, seeing these things, ought never to engage in a contest of such a sort that we shall either win all or lose all, but ought rather to become friends of one another while we are still strong and successful. For thus we through you, and you through us, could play even a greater part in Greece than in times gone by.”
Since these men were adjudged to have spoken rightly, the Lacedaemonians voted to accept the peace, with the provision that all should withdraw their governors from the cities, disband their armaments both on sea and on land, and leave the cities independent. And if any state should act in violation of this agreement, it was provided that any which so desired might aid the injured cities, but that any12
which did not so desire was not under oath to be the ally of those who were injured.
On these terms the Lacedaemonians took the oath for themselves and their allies, while the Athenians and their allies took the oath severally, city by city. The Thebans also signed their names among the cities which had sworn, but on the following day their ambassadors came in again and demanded that the writing be changed to read that “the Boeotians” instead of “the Thebans” had sworn.13
Agesilaus, however, replied that he would change no part of what they had sworn to and signed in the first place; but if they did not wish to be included in the treaty, he said that he would strike out their names if they so directed.
When, accordingly, under these circumstances the others had concluded peace, while the only controversy was with the Thebans, the Athenians were of the opinion that now there was hope that the Thebans would be decimated, as the common saying puts it, and as for the Thebans themselves, they went home utterly despondent.