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Now the people at home deposed the above-mentioned generals, with the exception of Conon; and as his colleagues they chose two men, Adeimantus and Philocles. As for those generals who had taken part in the battle, two of them—Protomachus and Aristogenes—did not return to Athens, but when the other six came home— [2] Pericles, Diomedon, Lysias, Aristocrates, Thrasyllus, and Erasinides,—Archedemus, who was at that time a leader of the popular party at Athens and had charge of the two-obol fund,1 brought accusation against Erasinides before a court and urged that a fine be imposed upon him, claiming that he had in his possession money from the Hellespont which belonged to the people; he accused him, further, of misconduct as general. And the court decreed that Erasinides should be imprisoned. [3] After this the generals made a statement before the Senate in regard to the battle and the violence of the storm; and upon motion of2 Timocrates, that the others also should be imprisoned and turned over to the Assembly for trial, the Senate imprisoned them. [4] After this a meeting of the Assembly was called, at which a number of people, and particularly Theramenes, spoke against the generals, saying that they ought to render an account of their conduct in not picking up the shipwrecked. For as proof that the generals fastened the responsibility upon no person apart from themselves, Theramenes showed a letter which they had sent to the Senate and to the Assembly, in which they put the blame upon nothing but the storm. [5] After this the several generals spoke in their own defence (though briefly, for they were not granted the hearing prescribed by the law) and stated what they had done, saying that they themselves undertook to sail against the enemy and that they assigned the duty of recovering the shipwrecked to certain of the captains who were competent men and had been generals in the past,—Theramenes, Thrasybulus, and others of that sort; [6] and if they had to blame any, they could blame no one else in the matter of the recovery except these men, to whom the duty was assigned. “And we shall not,” they added, “just because they accuse us, falsely say that they were to blame, but rather that it was the violence of the storm which prevented the recovery.” [7] They offered as witnesses to the truth of these statements the pilots and many others among their ship-companions. With such arguments they were on the point of persuading the Assembly, and many of the citizens rose and wanted to give bail for them; it was decided, however, that the matter should be postponed to another meeting of the Assembly (for3 by that time it was late in the day and they could not have distinguished the hands in the voting), and that the Senate should draft and bring in a proposal4 regarding the manner in which the men should be tried. [8]

After this the Apaturia5 was celebrated, at which fathers and kinsmen meet together. Accordingly Theramenes and his supporters arranged at this festival with a large number of people, who were clad in mourning garments and had their hair close shaven, to attend the meeting of the Assembly, pretending that they were kinsmen of those who had perished, and they bribed Callixeinus to accuse the generals in the Senate. [9] Then they called an Assembly, at which the Senate brought in its proposal, which Callixeinus had drafted in the following terms: “Resolved, that since the Athenians have heard in the previous meeting of the Assembly both the accusers who brought charges against the generals and the generals speaking in their own defence, they do now one and all cast their votes by tribes; and that two urns be set at the voting-place of each tribe; and that in each tribe a herald proclaim that whoever adjudges the generals guilty, for not picking up the men who won the victory in the naval battle, shall cast his vote in the first urn, and whoever adjudges them not guilty, shall cast his vote in the second; [10] and if they be adjudged guilty, that they be punished with death and handed over to the Eleven,6 and that their property be confiscated and the tenth thereof belong to the goddess.”7 [11] And there came before the8 Assembly a man who said that he had been saved by floating upon a meal-tub, and that those who were perishing charged him to report to the people, if he were saved, that the generals did not pick up the men who had proved themselves most brave in the service of their country. [12] Now Euryptolemus, the son of Peisianax, and some others served a summons upon Callixeinus, alleging that he had made an unconstitutional proposal. And some of the people applauded this act, but the greater number cried out that it was monstrous if the people were to be prevented from doing whatever they wished. [13] Indeed, when Lyciscus thereupon moved that these men also should be judged by the very same vote as the generals, unless they withdrew the summons, the mob broke out again with shouts of approval, and they were compelled to withdraw the summonses. [14] Furthermore, when some of the Prytanes9 refused to put the question to the vote in violation of the law, Callixeinus again mounted the platform10 and urged the same charge against them; and the crowd cried out to summon to court those who refused. [15] Then the Prytanes, stricken with fear, agreed to put the question,—all of them except Socrates,11 the son of Sophroniscus; and he said that in no case would he act except in accordance with the law. [16] After this Euryptolemus mounted the platform and spoke as follows in defence of the generals:

“I have come to the platform, men of Athens, partly to accuse Pericles, though he is my kinsman and intimate, and Diomedon, who is my friend, partly12 to speak in their defence, and partly to advise the measures which seem to me to be best for the state as a whole. [17] I accuse them, because they persuaded their colleagues to change their purpose when they wanted to send a letter to the Senate and to you, in which they stated that they assigned to Theramenes and Thrasybulus, with forty-seven triremes, the duty of picking up the shipwrecked, and that they failed to perform this duty. [18] Such being the case, are these generals to share the blame now with Theramenes and Thrasybulus, although it was those alone who blundered, and are they now, in return for the humanity they showed then, to be put in hazard of their lives through the machinations of those men and certain others? [19] No! at least not if you take my advice and follow the just and righteous course, the course which will best enable you to learn the truth and to avoid finding out hereafter, to your sorrow, that it is you yourselves who have sinned most grievously, not only against the gods, but against yourselves. The advice I give you is such that, it you follow it, you cannot be deceived either by me or by anyone else, and that with full knowledge you will punish the guilty with whatever punishment you may desire, either all of them together or each one separately, namely, by first granting them at least one day, if not more, to speak in their own defence, and by putting your trust, not so much in others, but in yourselves. [20] Now you all know, men of Athens, that the decree of Cannonus is exceedingly severe: it provides that if anyone shall wrong the people of Athens, he shall plead his case in fetters before the people, and if he be adjudged guilty, he shall be put to death by being cast into13 the pit, and his property shall be confiscated and the tenth part thereof shall belong to the goddess. [21] Under this decree I urge you to try the generals, and, by Zeus, if it so please you, Pericles, my kinsman, first of them all; for it would be base for me to think more of him than of the general interests of the state. [22] Or if you do not wish to do this, try them under the following law, which applies to temple-robbers and traitors: namely, if anyone shall be a traitor to the state or shall steal sacred property, he shall be tried before a court, and if he be convicted, he shall not be buried in Attica, and his property shall be confiscated. [23] By whichever of these laws you choose, men of Athens, let the men be tried, each one separately,14 and let the day be divided into three parts, one wherein you shall gather and vote as to whether you judge them guilty or not, another wherein the accusers shall present their case, and another wherein the accused shall make their defence. [24]

“If this is done, the guilty will incur the severest punishment, and the guiltless will be set free by you, men of Athens, and will not be put to death unjustly. [25] As for yourselves, you will be granting a trial in accordance with the law and standing true to religion and your oaths, and you will not be fighting on the side of the Lacedaemonians by putting to death the men who captured seventy ships from them and defeated them,—by putting to death these men, I say, without a trial, in violation of the law. [26] What is it, pray, that you fear, that you are in such15 excessive haste? Do you fear lest you will lose the right to put to death and set free anyone you please if you proceed in accordance with the law, but think that you will retain this right if you proceed in violation of the law, by the method which Callixeinus persuaded the Senate to report to the people, that is, by a single vote? [27] Yes, but you might possibly be putting to death some one who is really innocent; and repentance afterwards—ah, remember how painful and unavailing it always is, and especially when one's error has brought about a man's death. [28] You would do a monstrous thing if, after granting in the past to Aristarchus,16 the destroyer of the democracy and afterwards the betrayer of Oenoe to your enemies the Thebans, a day in which to defend himself as he pleased, and allowing him all his other rights under the law,—if, I say, you shall now deprive the generals, who have done everything to your satisfaction, and have defeated the enemy, of these same rights. [29] Let no such act be yours, men of Athens, but guard the laws, which are your own and above all else have made you supremely great, and do not try to do anything without their sanction.

“And now come back to the actual circumstances under which the mistakes are thought to have been committed by the generals. When, after winning the battle, they sailed in to the shore, Diomedon urged that they should one and all put out to sea in line and pick up the wreckage and the shipwrecked men, while Erasinides proposed that all should sail with the utmost speed against the enemy at Mytilene. But Thrasyllus said that both things17 would be accomplished if they should leave some of the ships there and should sail with the rest against the enemy; [30] and if this plan were decided upon, he advised that each of the generals, who were eight in number, should leave behind three ships from his own division, and that they should also leave the ten ships of the taxiarchs, the ten of the Samians, and the three of the nauarchs. These amount all told to forty-seven ships, four for each one of the lost vessels, which were twelve in number. [31] Among the captains who were left behind were both Thrasybulus and Theramenes, the man who accused the generals at the former meeting of the Assembly. And with the rest of the ships they planned to sail against the enemy's fleet. Now what one of these acts did they not do adequately and well? It is but just, therefore, that those, on the one hand, who were detailed to go against the enemy should be held to account for their lack of success in dealing with the enemy, and that those, on the other hand, who were detailed to recover the shipwrecked, in case they did not do what the generals ordered, should be tried for not recovering them. [32] This much, however, I can say in defence of both parties, that the storm absolutely prevented them from doing any of the things which the generals had planned. And as witnesses to this fact you have those who were saved by mere chance, among whom is one of our generals, who came through safely on a disabled ship, and whom they now bid you judge by the same vote (although at that time he needed to be picked up himself) by which you judge those who did not do what they18 were ordered to do. [33] Do not, then, men of Athens, in the face of your victory and your good fortune, act like men who are beaten and unfortunate, nor, in the face of heaven's visitation, show yourselves unreasonable by giving a verdict of treachery instead of helplessness, since they found themselves unable on account of the storm to do what they had been ordered to do; nay, it would be far more just for you to honour the victors with garlands than, yielding to the persuasions of wicked men, to punish them with death.” [34]

When Euryptolemus had thus spoken, he offered a resolution that the men be tried under the decree of Cannonus, each one separately; whereas the proposal of the Senate was to judge them all by a single vote. The vote being now taken as between these two proposals, they decided at first in favour of the resolution of Euryptolemus; but when Menecles interposed an objection under oath19 and a second vote was taken, they decided in favour of that of the Senate. After this they condemned the generals who took part in the battle, eight in all; and the six who were in Athens were put to death. [35] And not long afterwards the Athenians repented, and they voted that complaints20 be brought against any who had deceived the people, that they furnish bondsmen men until such time as they should be brought to21 trial, and that Callixeinus be included among them. Complaints were brought against four others also, and they were put into confinement by their bondsmen. But when there broke out afterwards a factional disturbance, in the course of which Cleophon22 was put to death, these men escaped, before being brought to trial; Callixeinus indeed returned, at the time when the Piraeus party returned to the city,23 but he was hated by everybody and died of starvation.

1 For the relief of poverty and distress caused by the war, not to be confounded with the theoric fund; see Wilamowitz, Aristoteles und Athen, Vol. II. pp. 212 ff.

2 406 B.C.

3 406 B.C.

4 Athenian procedure required in general that a matter should first be considered by the Senate, whose προβούλεύμα, or preliminary resolution, was then referred to the Assembly for final action.

5 A family festival, at which the members of each Athenian clan gathered together.

6 A Board which had charge of condemned prisoners and of the execution of the death sentence.

7 Athena, the state deity, into whose treasury a tenth part of the revenue derived from confiscations was regularly paid.

8 406 B.C.

9 An executive committee of the Senate, who presided over the meetings of both Senate and Assembly.

10 i.e. the βῆμα.

11 On Socrates' conduct at this time cp. Plato, Apol. 32B and Xen. Mem. I. i. 18.

12 406 B.C.

13 406 B.C.

14 It was a general principle of Athenian law—perhaps specifically stated in the decree of Cannonus (see above)—that each accused person had the right to a separate trial.

15 406 B.C.

16 In 411 B.C. Aristarchus helped to establish the short-lived oligarchical government of the Four Hundred.

17 406 B.C.

18 406 B.C.

19 Apparently questioning the legality of Euryptolemus' proposal. Under the law such an objection should have suspended the consideration of the matter before the Assembly, but in this case it seems to have had no such result.

20 A προβολή was a complaint presented to the Assembly, alleging an offence against the state. The Assembly, acting as a grand jury, might then hold the accused for trial before a court.

21 406 B.C.

22 A popular leader of the democratic party.

23 i.e., in the restoration which followed the overthrow of the Thirty Tyrants (Xen. Hell. 2.4.39-43).

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  • Cross-references to this page (17):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), BARATHRON
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), DE´CUMAE
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), DIO´BOLON
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), ECCLE´SIA
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), EISANGE´LIA
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), E´NGYE
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), EPI´BOLE
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), FUNUS
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), HIEROSY´LIAS GRAPHE
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), PARA´NOMON GRAPHE
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), PRO´BOLE
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), PRODO´SIA
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), PSEPHUS
    • William Watson Goodwin, Syntax of the Moods and Tenses of the Greek Verb, Chapter IV
    • Smith's Bio, Aristo'genes
    • Smith's Bio, Calli'xenus
    • Smith's Bio, Erasi'nides
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