), the Spartan, appears to have been one of the ablest politicians ever called forth by the emergencies of his country, an apt pupil of the school of Lysander, and, like him, thoroughly versed in the arts of courtly diplomacy. His father's name, as we learn from Plutarch (Artar.
p. 1022a.), was Leon--the same, possibly, who is recorded by Xenophon (Xenoph. Hell. 2.3.10
) as Ephor ἐπώνυμος
in the fourteenth year of the Peloponnesian war.
At one of the most critical periods for Sparta, when, in addition to a strong confederacy against her of Grecian states assisted by Persian money, the successes of Pharnabazus and Conon and the restoration of the long walls of Athens appeared to threaten the re-establishment of Athenian dominion, Antalcidas was selected as ambassador to Tiribazus, satrap of western Asia, to negotiate through him a peace for Sparta with the Persian king, B. C. 393. (Hell.
4.8.12.) Such a measure would of course deprive Athens and the hostile league of their chief resources, and, under the pretext of general peace and independence, might leave Sparta at liberty to consolidate her precarious supremacy among the Greeks of Europe. The Athenians, alarmed at this step, also despatched an embassy, with Conon at its head, to counteract the efforts of Antalcidas, and deputies for the same purpose accompanied them from Thebes, Argos, and Corinth.
In consequence of the strong opposition made by these states, Tiribazus did not venture to close with Sparta without authority from Artaxerxes, but he secretly furnished Antalcidas with money for a navy, to harass the Athenians and their allies, and drive them into wishing for the peace. Moreover, he seized Conon, on the pretext that he had unduly used the king's forces for the extension of Athenian dominion, and threw him into prison. [CONON.] Tiribazus was detained at court by the king, to whom he had gone to give a report of his measures, and was superseded for a time in his satrapy by Struthas, a warm friend of Athens.
The war therefore continued for some years; but in B. C. 388 the state of affairs appeared to give promise of success if a fresh negotiation with Persia were attempted. Tiribazus had returned to his former government, Pharnabazus, the opponent of Spartan interests, had gone up to the capital to marry Apama, the king's daughter, and had entrusted his government to Ariobarzanes, with whom Antalcidas had a connexion of hospitality (ξένος ἐκ παλαιοῦ
). Under these circumstances, Antalcidas was once more sent to Asia both as commander of the fleet (ναύαρχος
), and ambassador. (Hell.
5.1.6, 28.) On his arrival at Ephesus, he gave the charge of the squadron to Nicolochus, as his lieutenant (ἐπιστολεύς
), and sent him to aid Abydus and keep Iphicrates in check, while he himself went to Tiribazus, and possibly proceeded with him 1
to the court of Artaxerxes on the more important business of his mission.
In this he was completely successful, having prevailed on the king to aid Sparta in forcing, if necessary, the Athenians and their allies to accede to peace on the terms which Persia, acting under Spartan influence, should dictate. On his return however to the seacoast, he received intelligence that Nicolochus was blockaded in the harbour of Abydus by Iphicrates and Diotimus.
He accordingly proceeded by land to Abydus, whence he sailed out with the squadron by night, having spread a report that the Chalcedonians had sent to him for aid. Sailing northward, he stopped at Percope, and when the Athenians had passed that place in fancied pursuit of him, he returned to Abydus, where he hoped to be strengthened by a reinforcement of twenty ships from Syracuse and Italy.
But hearing that Thrasybulus (of Colyttus, not the hero of Phyle) was advancing from Thrace with eight ships to join the Athenian fleet, he put out to sea, and succeeded by a stratagem in capturing the whole squadron. (Hell.
5.1.25-27; Polyaen. 2.4
, and Schneider in loc. Xen.
) He was soon after joined by the expected ships from Sicily and Italy, by the fleet of all the Ionian towns of which Tiribazus was master, and even by some which Ariobarzanes furnished from the satrapy of Pharnabazus. Antalcidas thus commanded the sea, which, together with the annoyance to which Athens was exposed from Aegina (Hell.
5.1. 1-24), made the Athenians desirous of peace.
The same wish being also strongly felt by Sparta and Argos (see the several reasons in Xen. Hell. 5.1.29
), the summons of Tiribazus for a congress of deputies from such states as might be willing to listen to the terms proposed by the king, was gladly obeyed by all, and the satrap then read to them the royal decree.
This famous document, drawn up with a sufficient assumption of imperial majesty, ran thus: "Artaxerxes the king thinks it just that the cities in Asia should belong to himself, as well as the islands Clazomenae and Cyprus; but that the other Grecian cities, both small and great, he should leave independent, except Lemnos and Imbros and Scyros; and that these, as of old, should belong to the Athenians.
But whichever party receives not this peace, against them will I war, with such as accede to these terms, both by land and by sea, both with ships and with money." (Hell.
5.1.31.) To these terms all the parties concerned readily acceded, if we except a brief and ineffectual delay on the part of Thebes and the united government of Argos and Corinth (Hell.
5.1.32-34); and thus was concluded, B. C. 387, the famous peace of Antalcidas, so called as being the fruit of his masterly diplomacy.
That the peace effectually provided for the interests of Sparta, is beyond a doubt (Hell.
5.1.36); that it was cordially cherished by most of the other Grecian states as a sort of bulwark and charter of freedom, is no less certain. (Hell.
6.3. §§ 9, 12,18, 6.5.2; Paus. 9.1
.) On the subject of the peace, see Thirlwall, Gr. Hist.
vol. iv. p. 445; Mitford, ch. 25. sec. 7, ch. 27. sec. 2.
Our notices of the rest of the life of Antalcidas are scattered and doubtful. From a passing allusion in the speech of Callistratus the Athenian (Hell.
6.3. 12), we learn that he was then (B. C. 371) absent on another mission to Persia. Might this have been with a view to the negotiation of peace in Greece (see Hell.
6.3), and likewise have been connected with some alarm at the probable interest of Timotheus, son of Conon, at the Persian court? (See Diod. 15.50
; Dem. c. Timoth.
p. 1191; Thirlwall, vol. v. p. 63.) Plutarch again (Ages.
p. 613e.) mentions, as a statement of some persons, that at the time of the invasion of Laconia by Epaminondas, B. C. 369. Antalcidas was one of the ephors, and that, fearing the capture of Sparta, he conveyed his children for safety to Cythera.
The same author informs us (Artax.
p. 1022d.), that Antalcidas was sent to Persia for supplies after the defeat at Leuctra, B. C. 371, and was coldly and superciliously received by the king. If, considering the general looseness of statement which pervades this portion of Plutarch, it were allowable to set the date of this mission after the invasion of 369, we might possibly connect with it the attempt at pacification on the side of Persia in 368. (Hell.
7.1.27; Diod. 15.70
This would seem indeed to be inconsistent with Plutarch's account of the treatment of Antalcidas by Artaxerxes; but that might perhaps be no overwhelming objection to our hypothesis. (See, however, Thirlwall, vol. v. p. 123, and note.) If the embassy in question took place immediately after the battle of Leuctra, the anecdote (Ages.
613, e.) of the ephoralty of Antalcidas in 369 of course refutes what Plutarch (Plut. Art. 1022
, d.) would have us infer, that Antalcidas was driven to suicide by his failure in Persia and the ridicule of his enemies.
But such a story is on other grounds intrinsically improbable, and savours much of the period at which Plutarch wrote, when the conduct of some later Romans, miscalled Stoics, had served to give suicide the character of a fashionable resource in cases of distress and perplexity.