Page images

and it was the sentiment of Nikias himself,-that at the moment of concluding the peace which bears his name, the position of Sparta was one of disadvantage and dishonour in reference to Athens'. He alludes chiefly to the captives in the hands of the latter for as to other matters, the defeats of Delium and Amphipolis, with the serious losses in Thrace, would more than countervail the acquisitions of Nisæa, Pylus, Kythêra, and Mêthonê. Yet so inconsiderate and short-sighted were the philoLaconian leanings of Nikias and the men who now commanded confidence at Athens, that they threw away this advantage-suffered Athens to be cheated of all those hopes which they had themselves held out as the inducement for peace and nevertheless yielded gratuitously to Sparta all the main points which she desired. Most certainly, there was never any public recommendation of Kleon (as far as our information goes) so ruinously impolitic as this alliance with Sparta and surrender of the captives, wherein both Nikias and Alkibiadês concurred. Probably the Spartan Ephors amused Nikias, and he amused the Athenian assembly, with fallacious assurances of certain obedience in Thrace, under alleged peremptory orders given to Klearidas. And now that the vehement leather-dresser, with his criminative eloquence, had passed away,-replaced only by an inferior successor the lamp-maker 2

1 Thucyd. v. 28. κατὰ γὰρ τὸν χρόνον τοῦτον ἥ τε Λακεδαίμων μάλιστα δὴ κακῶς ἤκουε καὶ ὑπερώφθη διὰ τὰς ξυμφοράς.-(Νικίας) λέγων ἐν μὲν τῷ σφετέρῳ καλῷ (Athenian) ἐν δὲ τῷ ἐκείνων ἀπρεπεῖ (Lacedamonian) τὸν πόλεμον ἀναβάλλεσθαι, &c. (v. 46).-Οἷς πρῶτον μὲν (to the Lacedæmonians) διὰ ξυμφορῶν ἡ ξύμβασις, &c.

Aristophan. Pac. 665-887.

By the

terms of the


Athens re

nounced all

the advantages of her

position in the Lacedæ

reference to


she gained

none of

those con


upon which

she calcu

lated, while

they gained


-they repent of

having given up the captives

Hyperbolus and leaving the Athenian public under
the undisputed guidance of citizens eminent for
birth and station, descended from gods and heroes—
there remained no one to expose effectively the
futility of such assurances, or to enforce the lesson
of simple and obvious prudence—“Wait, as you
are entitled to wait, until the Spartans have per-
formed the onerous part of their bargain, before
you perform the onerous part of yours.
Or if you
choose to relax in regard to some of the conces-
sions which they have sworn to make, at any rate
stick to the capital point of all, and lay before
them the peremptory alternative-Amphipolis in
exchange for the captives."

and remon-

the Athe


against Sparta in



quence of

the non


The Athenians were not long in finding out how strances of completely they had forfeited the advantage of their position, and their chief means of enforcement, by giving up the captives; which imparted a freedom of action to Sparta such as she had never enjoyed since the first blockade of Sphakteria. Yet ance of the it seems that under the present Ephors Sparta was not guilty of any deliberate or positive act which could be called a breach of faith. She gave orders to Klearidas to surrender Amphipolis if he could; if not, to evacuate it, and bring the Peloponnesian troops home. Of course the place was not surrendered to the Athenians, but evacuated; and she then considered that she had discharged her duty to Athens, as far as Amphipolis was concerned, though she had sworn to restore it, and her oath remained unperformed'. The other Thracian towns were equally deaf to her persuasions, and equally Thucyd. v. 21-35.


of Sparta.


obstinate in their hostility to Athens. So also were the Boeotians, Corinthians, Megarians, and Eleians : but the Boeotians, while refusing to become parties to the truce along with Sparta, concluded for themselves a separate convention or armistice with Athens, terminable at ten days' notice on either side'.

In this state of things, though ostensible relations of peace and free reciprocity of intercourse between Athens and Peloponnesus were established-the discontent of the Athenians, and the remonstrances of their envoys at Sparta, soon became serious. The Lacedæmonians had sworn for themselves and their allies—yet the most powerful among these allies, and those whose enmity was most important to Athens, continued still recusant. Neither Panaktum, nor the Athenian prisoners in Boeotia, were yet restored to Athens; nor had the Thracian cities yet submitted to the peace. In reply to the remonstrances of the Athenian envoys, the Lacedæmonians affirmed that they had already surrendered all the Athenian prisoners in their own hands, and had withdrawn their troops from Thrace, which was (they said) all the intervention in their power, since they were not masters of Amphipolis, nor capable of constraining the Thracian cities against their will. As to the Boeotians and Corinthians, the Lacedæmonians went so far as to profess readiness to take arms along with Athens, for the purpose of con

1 Thucyd. v. 32.

2 Thucyd. v. 35. λέγοντες ἀεὶ ὡς μετ ̓ ̓Αθηναίων τούτους, ἢν μὴ θέλωσι, κοινῇ ἀναγκάσουσι· χρόνους δὲ προὔθεντο ἄνευ ξυγγραφῆς, ἐν οἷς χρῆν τοὺς μὴ ἐσιόντας ἀμφοτέροις πολεμίους εἶναι.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

straining them to accept the peace, and even spoke about naming a day, after which these recusant states should be proclaimed as joint enemies, both by Sparta and Athens. But their propositions were always confined to vague words, nor would they consent to bind themselves by any written or peremptory instrument. Nevertheless, so great was their confidence either in the sufficiency of these assurances, or in the facility of Nikias, that they ventured to require from Athens the surrender of Pylus or at least the withdrawal of the Messenian garrison with the Helot deserters from that placeleaving in it none but native Athenian soldiers, until farther progress should be made in the peace. But the feeling of the Athenians was now seriously altered, and they received this demand with marked coldness. None of the stipulations of the treaty in their favour had yet been performed-none even seemed in course of being performed; so that they now began to suspect Sparta of dishonesty and deceit, and deeply regretted their inconsiderate surrender of the captives'. Their remonstrances at Sparta, often repeated during the course of the summer, produced no positive effect: nevertheless, they suffered themselves to be persuaded to remove the Messenians and Helots from Pylus to Kephallenia, replacing them by an Athenian garrison2.

The Athenians had doubtless good reason to com

1 Thucyd. v. 35. τούτων οὖν ὁρῶντες οἱ ̓Αθηναῖοι οὐδὲν ἔργῳ γιγνόμενον, ὑπετόπευον τοὺς Λακεδαιμονίους μηδὲν δίκαιον διανοεῖσθαι, ὥστε οὔτε Πύλον ἀπαιτούντων αὐτῶν ἀπεδίδοσαν, ἀλλὰ καὶ τοὺς ἐκ τῆς νήσου ἄνδρας μετεμέλοντο ἀποδεδωκότες, &c.

2 Thucyd. v. 35. πολλάκις δὲ καὶ πολλῶν λόγων γενομένων ἐν τῷ θέρει τούτῳ, &c.

plain of Sparta. But the persons of whom they had still better reason to complain, were Nikias and their own philo-Laconian leaders; who had first accepted from Sparta promises doubtful as to execution, and next-though favoured by the lot in regard to priority of cession, and thus acquiring proof that Sparta either would not or could not perform her promises-renounced all these advantages, and procured for Sparta almost gratuitously the only boon for which she seriously cared. The many critics on Grecian history who think no term too harsh for the demagogue Kleon, ought in fairness to contrast his political counsel with that of his rivals, and see which of the two betokens greater forethought in the management of the foreign relations of Athens. Amphipolis had been once lost by the improvident watch of Thucydidês and Euklês: it was now again lost by the improvident concessions of Nikias.

New com


in Pelopon


of concert

Sparta and

So much was the Peloponnesian alliance unhinged by the number of states which had refused the peace, and so greatly was the ascendency of Sparta for the neus time impaired, that new combinations were now entertained springing up in the peninsula. It has already been between mentioned that the truce between Argos and Sparta Athenswas just now expiring: Argos therefore was free, stands prowith her old pretensions to the headship of Pelopon- forwardnesus, backed by an undiminished fulness of wealth, power, and population. Having taken no direct aristocra part in the late exhausting war, she had even earned ment of money by lending occasional aid on both sides';

state of


tical regi


formed in

that city.

1 Thucyd. v. 28. Aristophan. Pac. 467. about the Argeians-dixolev μισθοφοροῦντες ἄλφιτα.

He characterises the Argeians as anxious for this reason to prolong

« PreviousContinue »