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The story of the Phliasians, then, how they proved themselves faithful to their friends and continued valiant in the war, and how, though in wqnt of everything, they remained steadfast in their alliance,1 has been told. At about this time Aeneas the Stymphalian, who had become general of the Arcadians, thinking that conditions in Sicyon were not to be endured, went up to the Acropolis with his own army, called together the aristocrats among the Sicyonians who were in the city, and sent after those who had been exiled therefrom without a decree of the people. [2] And Euphron, seized with fear at these proceedings, fled for refuge to the port of the Sicyonians, and after summoning Pasimelus to come from Corinth, through him handed over the port to the Lacedaemonians and appeared once more in their alliance, saying that he had all the time remained faithful to the Lacedaemonians. For he said that at the same time when a vote was taken in the city as to whether the Sicyonians should decide to revolt from them, he, with a few others, voted against it; [3] and that afterwards he had set up a democracy out of his desire to avenge himself on those who had betrayed him. “And at this moment,” he said, “all who were traitors to you are in exile by my act. Now if I had found myself able, I should have gone over to you with the entire city. As it is, I have given over to you the port, over which alone I had gained control.” Those who heard him say these words were many, but how many believed him is by no means clear. [4]

However, since I have begun it, I desire to finish the story of Euphron. When the aristocrats and the commons at Sicyon had fallen into strife, Euphron obtained a force of mercenaries from Athens and came back again. And with the help of the commons he was master of the town; a Theban governor,2 however, held the Acropolis, and since Euphron realized that with the Thebans holding the Acropolis he could not possibly be master of the state, he got together money and set out with the intention of persuading the Thebans, by means of this money, to banish the aristocrats and give the state over to him again. [5] When, however, the former exiles learned of his journey and his plans, they likewise proceeded to Thebes. And as they saw him in familiar association with the Theban officials, they were seized with fear that he might accomplish what he wanted, and some of them took the risk and slew Euphron upon the Acropolis while the0officials and the senate were in session there. But the officials brought those who had done the deed before the senate and spoke as follows: [6]

”Fellow citizens, we arraign on the sapital charge these men who have slain Euphron, seeing, as we do, that while right-minded men commit no unjust or unrighteous deed, and the wicked, although they commit them, strive to do them in secret, these persons have so far surpassed all mankind in hardihood and villainy that in the presence of the very magistrates and in the presence of you, who alone have authority to decide who shall die and who shall not, they took decision into their own hands and slew the man. Therefore if these men do not suffer the extreme penalty, who will ever have the courage to visit our city? And what will become of the city if any one who so desires is to be allowed to slay a man before he has made known for what purpose he has come here? We, then, arraign these men as utterly unrighteous, unjust, and lawless, and as3 having shown the utmost contempt for our city. It is for you, after you have heard, to inflict upon them such penalty as they seem to you to deserve.” [7]

Such were the words of the officials; as for those who had slain Euphron, all except one denied that they had been the perpetrators of the deed; but one had admitted it, and began his defence in some such words as these: ”Surely, Thebans, to feel contempt for you is not possible for a man if he knows that you have authority to do with him as you will; in what, then, did I trust when I here slew the man? Be well assured that it was first of all in the belief that I was doing a just deed, and secondly in the thought that you would decide rightly; for I knew that you likewise, in dealing with the party of Archias and Hypates,4 whom you found to have performed acts like those of Euphron, did not wait for a vote, but punished them as soon as you found yourselves able to do so, believing that those who are manifestly unrighteous and those who are plainly traitors and attempting to be tyrants are already condemned to death by all mankind. [8] Was not Euphron also, I ask, guilty under all these heads? In the first place, he found the shrines full of offerings both of silver and of gold, and left them empty of all these treasures. Again, who could be more manifestly a traitor than Euphron, who was the closest of friends to the Lacedaemonians and then chose you in their stead, and after he had given you pledges and received pledges from you, betrayed you again and handed over the port to your adversaries? Once again, was he not beyond question a tyrant, when he made slaves not only free me~5 but even citizens, and put to death and banished and robbed of property, not the people who were guilty of wrong-doing, but those whom it suited him to treat thus? And these were the better classes. [9] Then after he had returned again to the city in company with your bitter adversaries, the Athenians, he set himself in arms against your governor; but since he found himself unable to expel him from the Acropolis, he got together money and came hither. Now if he had been shown to have gathered armed forces with which to attack you, you would even feel grateful to me for slaying him; but0when he provided himself with money instead, and came with the purpose of corrupting you by means of this money and persuading you to make him lord of the city again, how can I justly be put to death by you for inflicting upon the man his due punishment? For whereas those who are constrained by arms suffer damage, yet they are not thereby shown to be wicked at any rate; but those who are corrupted by money in violation of the right not only suffer damage, but at the same time incur shame. [10] To be sure, if he had been an enemy of mine but a friend of yours, I admit myself that it would not have been seemly for me to slay this man in your city; but wherein was he, who was a0traitor to you, more of an enemy to me than to you? `But, by Zeus,' someone might say, `he came of his own free will.' So, then, if anyone had slain him while he was keeping away from your city, he would have obtained praise; but as it is, when he came again to do you more wrong in addition to what he had done before, does one say that he has not been slain justly? Where can such a one show that a truce6 exists between Greeks and traitors, or double-deserters, or tyrants? [11] Besides all this, remember also that you voted, and properly, that exiles should be subject to extradition from all the cities of the alliance. But as for an exile who returns without a general resolution of the allies, can anyone explain why it is unjust for such a one to be put to death? I maintain, gentlemen, that if you put me to death, you will have avenged a man who was the worst of all your enemies, but if you decide that I have done what was right, you will be found to have taken vengeance both for your own selves and for all the allies.” [12]

The Thebans, after hearing these words, decided that Euphron had met his deserts; his own citizens, however, esteeming him a good man, brought him home, buried him in their market-place, and pay him pious honours as the founder of their city. So true it is, as it seems, that most people define as good men their own benefactors.

1 366 B.C.

2 366 B.C.

3 366 B.C.

4 See v. iv. 2-12.

5 366 B.C.

6 366 B.C.

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • R. J. Cholmeley, M.A., The Idylls of Theocritus, 21
  • Cross-references to this page (6):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), BOEOTARCHES
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), EXE´RCITUS
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), STRATE´GUS
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), SI´CYON
    • William Watson Goodwin, Syntax of the Moods and Tenses of the Greek Verb, Chapter IV
    • Smith's Bio, Euphron
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