Imágenes de páginas


, was a colony of Corcyrans, founded by Phalius of Corinth. This city growing, in time, very populous and powerful, divisions arose in it, and the common people expelled the most wealthy inhabitants, who went over to the neighbouring nations, and infested them greatly by their incursions. In this extremity they first had recourse to the Corcyrans, and being refused by them, they addressed the Corinthians, who took them under their protection, sent succours to them, and settled other inhabitants in their city. But they did not continue long unmolested there, the Corcyrans besieging it with a large fleet. The people of Corinth hastened to its aid, but having been defeated at sea, the city surrendered that very day, upon condition that the foreigners should be slaves, and the Corinthians prisoners, till further orders. The Corcyrans erected a trophy, murdered all their prisoners except the Corinthians, and laid waste the whole country:

The year after the battle, the Corinthians raised a greater. army than the former, and fitted out a new fleet. The people of Corcyra, finding it would be impossible for them to make head alone against such powerful enemies, sent to the Athenians to desire their alliance. The treaty of peace, concluded between the states of Greece, left such Grecian cities as had not declared themselves on either side, the liberty of joining whom they pleased, or of standing neuter. This the Corcyrans had hitherto done; judging it their interest not to espouse any party, in consequence of which they had hitherto been without allies. They now sent for this purpose to Athens, which the Corinthians hearing, they also sent deputies thither. The affair was debated with great warmth in presence of the people, who heard the reasons on both sides, and it was twice discussed in the assembly. The Athenians declared the first time in favour of the Corinthians; but afterwards changing their opinion (doubtless on the remonstrances of Pericles) they received the Corcyrans into their alliance. However, they did not go so far as to conclude a league offensive and defensive with them (for they could not declare war against Corinth, without breaking at the same time with all Peloponnesus) but only agreed to succour each other mutually, in case they should be attacked, either in their own person or in that of their allies. Their real design was, to set those two states, which were very powerful by sea, at variance; and after each should have exhausted the other, by a tedious war, to triumph over the weakest ; for at that time there were but three states in Greece, who possessed powerful fleets; and these were Athens, Corinth, and Corcyra. They also had a design on


Italy and Sicily, which their taking the island of Corcyra would very much promote.

On this plan they concluded an alliance with the Corcyrans, and accordingly sent them ten gallies, but with an order for them not to engage the Corinthians, unless they should first invade the island of Corcyra, or some other place belonging to their allies : this precaution was used, in order that the articles of the truce might not be infringed.

But it was very difficult to obey these orders A battle was fought between the Corcyrans and the Corinthians, near the island of Sybota, opposite to Corcyra : it was one of the, most considerable with regard to the number of ships, that was ever fought between the Greeks. The advantage was nearly equal on both sides. About the end of the battle, as night was drawing on, twenty Athenian gallies came up. The Corcyrans, with this reinforcement, sailed next day by day-break towards the port of Sybota, whither the Corinthians had retired, to see if they would venture a second engagement. However, the latter contented themselves with sailing away in order of battle, without fighting. Both parties erected a trophy in the island of Sybota, each ascribing the victory to themselves.

a From this war arose another, which occasioned an open rupture between the Athenians and Corinthians, and afterwards the war of Peloponnesus. Potidæa, a city of Macedonia, was a colony belonging to the Corinthians, who sent magistrates thither annually ; but it was dependent at that time on Athens, and paid tribute to it. The Athenians fearing this city would revolt, and prevail with the rest of the Thracian ailies to join them, commanded the inhabitants to demolish their walls on the side next Pallene; to deliver hostages to them as sureties for their fidelity : and to send back the magistrates which Corinth had given them. Demands of so unjust a nature only hastened their revolt. The Potidæans declared against the Athenians, and several neighbouring cities followed their example. Both Athens and Corinth armed and sent forces thither. The two armies, engaged near Potidæa, and that of the Athenians had the advantage. Alcibiades, who was then very young, and Socrates his master, signalized themselves on this occasion. It is something very singular, to see a philosopher put on his coat of mail; as well as to consider his behaviour and conduct in a battle. There was not a soldier in the whole army who so resolutely supported all the toils and fatigues of the campaign as Socrates. Hunger, thirst, and cold, were enemies he had long accustomed himself to despise and sub

2 Thucyd. 1 i. p. 37–42. Diod 1. xii p. 93, 94.
6 Plat in Conviv. P. 219, 829. Pļat. in Alcib. p. 194.


due with ease. Thrace, the scene of this expedition, was a frozen region. Whilst the other soldiers, covered with thick clothes and warm furs, lay close in their tents, and scarce ever dared to stir out of them ; Socrates used to come into the open air as thinly clad as usual, and bare footed. His gaiety and wit were the life of the table; and induced others to put the glass round cheerfully, though he himself never drank wine to excess.

When the armies engaged, he performed his duty wonderfully well. Alcibiades having been thrown down and wounded, Socrates placed himself before him, defended him valiantly, and, in sight of the whole army, prevented him and his arms from being taken by the enemy. The prize of valour was justly due to Socrates; but as the generals seemed inclined to decree it to Alcibiades, on account of his illustrious birth ; Socrates, who only sought for opportunities to inflame him with desire of true glory, contributed more than any other person, by the noble eulogium he made on his courage, to cause the crown and complete suit of armour (which was the prize of valour) to be adjudgod to Alcibiades.

Notwithstanding the loss which the Corinthians had sustained in the battle, the inhabitants of Potidæa did not change their conduct. The city was therefore besieged. a The Corinthians, fearing to lose a place of so much importance, addressed their allies in the strongest terms; who all, in conjunction with them, sent a deputation to Lacedæmon, to complain of the Athenians, as having infringed the articles of peace. The Lacedæmonians admitted them to audience in one of their ordinary assemblies. The people of Ægina, though very much disgusted at the Athenians, did not send a deputation publicly thither, for fear of giving umbrage to a republic to which they were subject, but they acted in secret as strenuously as the rest. The people of Megara complained vehemently

against the Athenians, that contrary to the law of nations, and in prejudice to the treaty concluded between the Greeks) they had prohibited them

by a public decree, from access to their fairs and markets, and excluded them from all the ports dependent on them. 6 By that decree, according to Plutarch, the Athenians declared an eternal and irreconcileable hatred against Megara ; and ordained that all Megarians should be put to death, 'that set foot in thie decree to be enacted to revenge the private injury done to Aspasia, crem hic According to Plutarch, some persons pretended that Pericles had caused.

nians," reproaches - Perides with this action. But Thucydides, a contempodoes not say a word of limitand he is much more worthy of belier than docere author, who was very well acquainted with all the transactions

of Athens, a poet who was a professed slanderer and satirist.

a Thucyd. I. i. p. 43-59.

. .

whose house the people oi Megara had carried off two courtezans ; and he

“ That

Athens ; and that all the Athenian generals, when they took the usual oath, should swear expressly, that they would send a body of soldiers twice a year, to lay waste the territories of that hostile city.

The chief complaints were made by the Corinthian ambassador, who spoke with the utmost force and freedom. He represented to the Lacedæmonians, that as they themselves never swerved from the most inviolable integrity, either in public or private transactions, they, for that very reason, were less suspicious of the probity of others; and that their own moderation prevented their discovering the ambition of their enemies : that instead of flying, with readiness and activity, to meet dangers and calamities, they never attempted to remedy them, till they were quite crushed by them : that by their indolence and supineness, they had given the Athenians an opportunity of attaining, by insensible degrees, their present height of grandeur and power. That it was quite different with regard to the Athenians, " this active, vigilant, and indefatigable people were never

at rest themselves, nor would suffer any other nation to be

so. Employed, (says he) wholly in their projects, and they “ form none but such as are great and bold, their delibera" tions are speedy, and their execution the same. One en“terprise serves only as a step to a second. Whether they

are successful or unfortunate, they turn every thing to their advantage ; and never stop in their career, nor are discouraged. But you, who are opposed by such formidable

enemies, are lulled asleep in a fatal tranquillity ; and do “not reflect, that a man who desires to live calm and easy,

must not only forbear injuring others, but must also hinder any one from injuring him ; and that justice consists, not

only in forbearing to commit evil ourselves, but in avenging " that done to us by others. Shall I be so free as to say it? “ Your integrity is of too antique a cast for the present state “ of affairs. It is necessary for men, in politics as well as in “ all other things, to conform always to times and circum“ stances. When a people are at peace, they may follow “ their ancient maxims ; but when they are involved in a “ variety of difficulties, they must try new expedients, and “ set every engine at work to extricate themselves. It is by « these arts that the Athenians have increased their power

so much. Had you imitated their activity, they would not “ have dispossessed us of Corcyra, and would not now be

laying siege to Potidæa. Follow, at least on this occasion, “their example, by succouring the Potidæans and the rest

of your allies, as your duty obliges you ; and do not force your friends and neighbours, by forsaking them, to have recourse, through despair, to other powers."

The Athenian ambassador, who was come to Sparta upon other affairs, and was in the assembly, did not think it advisable to let this speech go unanswered : he put the Lacedzemonians in mind of the still recent services that the republic, by which he was sent, had done to all Greece, which, (he said) merited some regard ; and that therefore it ought not to be envied, much less should endeavours be used to lessen its power. That the Athenians could not be charged with having usurped an empire over Greece ; since it was merely at the entreaty of their allies, and in some measure with the consent of Sparta, that they had been forced to take the abandoned helm : that those who murmured, did it without grounds; and only from the aversion which mankind in general have to dependance and subjection, though of the gentlest and most equitable kind : that he exhorted them to employ a sufficient time in deliberating, before they came to a resolution; and not involve themselves and all Greece in a war, which would necessarily be attended with the most fatal consequences. That gentle methods might be found, for terminating the differences of the allies, without breaking at once into open violence. However, that the Athenians, in case of an invasion, were able to oppose force with force ; and would prepare for a vigorous defence, after having invokod, against Sparta, the deities who take vengeance on those that forswear themselves, and violate the faith of treaties.

The ambassadors being withdrawn, and the affair debated, the majority were for war. But before the final resolution was passed, Archidamus king of Sparta, setting himself above those prejudices which so strongly biassed the rest, and directing his views to futurity, made a speech, in which he set forth the dreadful consequences of the war in which they were going to embark ; showed the strength and resources of the Athenians ; exhorted them first to try gentle methods, which they themselves had seemed to approve ; but to make, in the meantime, the necessary preparations for carrying on so important an enterprise, and not to be under any apprehensions, that their moderation and delays would be branded with the name of cowardice, since their past actions secured them from any suspicion of that kind.

But, notwithstanding all these wise expostulations, a war was resolved. The people caused the allies to return into the assembly, and declared to them, that in their opinion the Athenians were the aggressors ; but that it would be expedient first to assemble all who were in the alliance, in order that

peace or war might be agreed upon unanimously. This decret of the Lacedæmonians was made the 14th year of the truce ; and was not owing so much to the complaints of

« AnteriorContinuar »