The matter was stirred in the camp first of all, and introduced into the city afterwards. A few persons went over from Samos to Alcibiades, and conferred with him: to them he held out the hope that he would make, first of all Tissaphernes, and secondly the King himself, their friend, if they would put down democracy;1
the King would then be better able to trust them. And so the aristocracy, on whom the heaviest burdens are apt to fall2
, conceived great hopes of getting the government into their own hands, and overcoming their enemies.
Returning to Samos, the envoys drew all such as seemed desirable accomplices into a conspiracy, while the language held in public to the main body of the army was that the King would be their friend and would supply them with money if Alcibiades was restored and democracy given up.
Now the multitude were at first dissatisfied with the scheme, but the prospect of the King's pay was so grateful to them that they offered no opposition; and the authors of the movement, after they had broached the idea to the people, once more considered the proposals of Alcibiades among themselves and the members of their clubs. Most of them thought the matter safe and straightforward enough.
Phrynichus, who was still general, was of another mind. He maintained, and rightly, that Alcibiades cared no more for oligarchy than he did for democracy, and in seeking to change the existing form of government was only considering how he might be recalled and restored to his country at the invitation of the clubs; whereas their one care should be to avoid disunion. Why should the King go out of his way to join the Athenians whom he did not trust, when he would only get into trouble with the Peloponnesians, who were now as great a naval power, and held some of the most important cities in his dominion?—it would be much easier for him to make friends with them, who had never done him any harm.
As to the allies, to whom they had promised the blessings of oligarchy which they were now about to enjoy themselves, he would be bound that the revolted cities would not return to them, and that their old allies would be not a whit more loyal in consequence. The form of government was indifferent to them if they could only be free, but they did not want to be in subjection either to an oligarchy or to a democracy.
And as for the socalled nobility, the allies thought that they would be quite as troublesome as the people; they were the persons who suggested crimes to the popular mind; who provided the means for their execution; and who reaped the fruits themselves. As far as it rested with the oligarchy the punishment of death would be inflicted unscrupulously, and without trial, whereas the people brought the oligarchs to their senses, and were a refuge to which the oppressed might always have recourse.
Experience had taught the cities this lesson, and he was well aware of their feelings. He was therefore himself utterly dissatisfied with the proposals of Alcibiades, and disapproved of the whole affair.