« PreviousContinue »
Terms of the alliance.
Separate alliance for
The Spartans were now in serious embarrassment. mutual de- Not having executed their portion of the treaty, they could not demand that Athens should execute hers and they were threatened with the double misfortune of forfeiting the confidence of their allies without acquiring any of the advantages of the treaty. In this dilemma they determined to enter into closer relations, and separate relations, with Athens, at all hazard of offending their allies. Of the enmity of Argos, if unaided by Athens, they had little apprehension; while the moment was now favourable for alliance with Athens, from the decided pacific tendencies reigning on both sides, as well as from the known philo-Laconian sentiment of the leaders Nikias and Lachês. The Athenian envoys had remained at Sparta ever since the swearing of the peace-awaiting the fulfilment of the conditions; Nikias or Lachês, one or both, being very probably among them. When they saw that Sparta was unable to fulfill her bond, so that the treaty seemed likely to be cancelled, they would doubtless encourage, and perhaps may even have suggested, the idea of a separate alliance between Sparta and Athens, as the only expedient for covering the deficiency; promising that under that alliance the Spartan captives should be restored. Accordingly a treaty was concluded between the two, for fifty years--not merely of peace, but of defensive alliance. Each party pledged itself to assist in repelling any invaders of the territory of the other, Thucyd. v. 21, 22.
peace, so that all the efforts of the Spartans to bring them to compliance were fruitless'.
to treat them as enemies, and not to conclude peace with them without the consent of the other. This was the single provision of the alliance,-with one addition, however, of no mean importance, for the security of Lacedæmon. The Athenians engaged to lend their best and most energetic aid in putting down any rising of the Helots which might occur in Laconia. Such a provision indicates powerfully the uneasiness felt by the Lacedæmonians respecting their serf-population. But at the present moment it was of peculiar value to them, since it bound the Athenians to restrain, if not to withdraw, the Messenian garrison of Pylus, planted there by themselves for the express purpose of provoking the Helots to revolt.
An alliance with stipulations so few and simple took no long time to discuss. It was concluded very speedily after the return of the envoys from Amphipolis-probably not more than a month or two after the former peace. It was sworn to by the same individuals on both sides; with similar declaration that the oath should be annually renewed, and also with similar proviso that Sparta and Athens might by mutual consent either enlarge or contract the terms, without violating the oath'. Moreover the treaty was directed to be inscribed on two columns; one to be set up in the temple of
Thucyd. v. 23. The treaty of alliance seems to have been drawn up at Sparta, and approved or concerted with the Athenian envoys; then sent to Athens, and there adopted by the people; then sworn to on both sides. The interval between this second treaty and the first (oỶ Tоλλ vσTepov, v. 24) may have been more than a month; for it comprised the visit of the Lacedæmonian envoys to Amphipolis and the other towns of Thrace-the manifestation of resistance in those towns, and the return of Klearidas to Sparta to give an account of his conduct.
Athens restores the Spartan captives.
Apollo at Amykla, the other in the temple of
The most important result of this new alliance was something not specified in its provisions, but understood, we may be well assured, between the Spartan Ephors and Nikias at the time when it was concluded. All the Spartan captives at Athens were forthwith restored'.
Nothing can demonstrate more powerfully the
ests of Athens by
the peace party.
of the poli- pacific and acquiescent feeling now reigning at Athens, as well as the strong philo-Laconian incliNikias and nations of her leading men, (at this moment Alkibiadês was competing with Nikias for the favour of Sparta, as will be stated presently,) than the terms of this alliance, which bound Athens to assist in keeping down the Helots-and the still more important after-proceeding, of restoring the Spartan captives. Athens thus parted irrevocably with her best card, and promised to renounce her second best-without obtaining the smallest equivalent beyond what was contained in the oath of Sparta to become her ally. For the last three years and a half, ever since the capture of Sphakteria, the possession of these captives had placed her in a position of decided advantage in regard to her chief enemy-advantage, however, which had to a certain extent been countervailed by subsequent losses. This state of things was fairly enough represented by the treaty of peace deliberately discussed during the winter, and sworn to at the commencement of spring; whereby a string of concessions, reciprocal and balancing, had been imposed on both parties. 1 Thucyd. v. 24.
Moreover, Athens had been lucky enough in drawing lots to find herself enabled to wait for the actual fulfilment of such concessions by the Spartans, before she consummated her own. Now the Spartans had not as yet realized any one of their promised concessions: nay more-in trying to do so, they had displayed such a want either of power or of will, as made it plain, that nothing short of the most stringent necessity would convert their promises into realities. Yet under these marked indications, Nikias persuades his countrymen to conclude a second treaty which practically annuls the first, and which ensures to the Spartans gratuitously all the main benefits of the first, with little or none of the correlative sacrifices. The alliance of Sparta could hardly be said to count as a consideration: for such alliance was at this moment (under the uncertain relations with Argos) not less valuable to Sparta herself than to Athens. There can be little doubt that if the game of Athens had now been played with prudence, she might have recovered Amphipolis in exchange for the captives: for the inability of Klearidas to make over the place, even if we grant it to have been a real fact and not merely simulated, might have been removed by decisive co-operation on the part of Sparta with an Athenian armament sent to occupy the place. In fact, that which Athens was now induced to grant was precisely the original proposition transmitted to her by the Lacedæmonians four years before, when the hoplites were first enclosed in Sphakteria, but before the actual capture. They then tendered no equivalent,
but merely said, through their envoys, the men in the island, and accept, in exchange, peace, together with our alliance'." At that moment there were some plausible reasons in favour of granting the proposition: but even then, the case of Kleon against it was also plausible and powerful, when he contended that Athens was entitled to make a better bargain. But now, there were no reasons in its favour, and a strong concurrence of reasons against it. Alliance with the Spartans was of no great value to Athens: peace was of material importance to her-but peace had been already sworn to on both sides, after deliberate discussion, and required now only to be carried into execution. That equal reciprocity of concession, which presented the best chance of permanent result, had been agreed on; and fortune had procured for her the privilege of receiving the purchase-money before she handed over the goods. Why renounce so advantageous a position, accepting in exchange a hollow and barren alliance, under the obligation. of handing over her most precious merchandise upon credit-and upon credit as delusive in promise as it afterwards proved unproductive in reality? The alliance in fact prevented the peace from being fulfilled: it became (as Thucydidês himself 2 admits) no peace, but a simple suspension of direct hostilities. Thucydidês states on more than one occasion,
Thucyd. iv. 19. Λακεδαιμόνιοι δὲ ὑμᾶς προκαλοῦνται ἐς σπονδὰς καὶ διάλυσιν πολέμου, διδόντες μὲν εἰρήνην καὶ ξυμμαχίαν καὶ ἄλλην φιλίαν πολλὴν καὶ οἰκειότητα ἐς ἀλλήλους ὑπάρχειν, ἀνταιτοῦντες δὲ τοὺς ἐκ τῆς νήσου ἄνδρας.
a Thucyd. v. 26. οὐκ εἰκὸς ὂν εἰρήνην αὐτὴν κριθῆναι, &c.