Imágenes de páginas

throwing his robe behind him, to give him the more liberty to display his arms; of striking his thigh ; and of running up and down the hustings whilst he was making his speech. In a word, he first introduced among the orators, and all those who were in public employments, an ungovernable licentiousness, and a contempt of decency; a licentiousness and contempt, which soon introduced terrible irregularities and confusion in public affairs.

Thus two men, each on his own side, opposed the tranqu'llity of Greece, and raised, but in a very different way, an invincible obstacle to its peace. These were Cleon and Brasidas. The former, because the war screened his vices and malversations; and the latter, because it added a new lustre to his virtues. And indeed, it gave Cleon an opportunity of committing enormous oppressions, and Brasidas of performing great and noble actions. But their death, which ħappened about the same time, made way for a new accommodation.

6 The Athenians had appointed Cleon to command the troops which were to oppose Brasidas, and reduce those cities that had revolted from their allegiance. They were solicitous for none of them so much as Amphipolis; and Brasidas threw himself into that city, in order to defend it. Cleon had written to Perdiccas king of Macedonia, and to the king of the Odamantes, to furnish him with as many troops as possible, and with the utmost expedition. He waited for them, and had resolved not to march immediately towards the enemy: but finding his soldiers, who had followed him involuntarily and with regret, grow weary of continuing so long inactive, and begin to compare his cowardice and inexperience with the ability and valour of Brasidas, he could no longer bear their contempt and murmurs; and imagining himself a great captain by his capture of Sphacteria, he now fancied the same good fortune would attend him at Amphipolis. He therefore approached it, merely as he said, to take a view of the place, and till such time as all his forces should be come up; not that he thought he wanted them for carrying that city, or that he entertained any doubt of his success (for he was persuaded that no one would dare to oppose him) but only to enable him to invest the place on all sides, and afterwards to take it by storm. Accordingly he encamped before Amphipolis; viewing very leisurely its situation, and fondly supposing that it would be in his power to retire whenever he pleased, without drawing the sword; for not a man came out or appeared on the the walls; and all the gates of the city were kept shut, sa a Plut in vit. Niciæ, p. 528.

6 A. M. 3582. Ant. J. C. 42% Thucyd. 1. iii. p. 343–351. Diad. l. xii. p. 121, 122,

that Cleon began to repent his not having brought the engines, imagining that he wanted only these to make himself master of the city. Brasidas, who was perfectly well acquainted with Cleon's disposition and character, studiously affected an air of fear and reserve, as a bait to his temerity, and to increase the good opinion he had of himself: besides, he knew that Cleon had brought with him the ftower of the Athenian forces, and the choicest troops of Lemnos and of Imbrus. Accordingly Cleon, despising an enemy who did hot dare to appear before him, but shut himself up in a cowardly manner in the city, went boldly from place to place, without precaution or observing any discipline among his soldiers. Brasidas, whose intention was to attack him on a sudden before all his forces should be come up, thought this the critical juncture. He had concerted proper measures, and given the orders necessary. Accordingly he made a sudden sally on the Athenians, which surprised and disconcerted them exceedingly. Immediately the left wing drew off from the main body and fled. Brasidas then turned the whole force of his arms against the right wing, which gave him a warm reception. Here he was wounded and disabled, upon which his soldiers carried him off, unperceived by the Athenians. As for Cleon, not having resolved to fight, he ded, and was killed by a soldier who happened to meet him. The

troops he commanded defended themselves for some time, and sustained two or three attacks without giving ground, but at last they were universally broken and routed. Brasidas was then carried into the city, where he survived his victory but a few moments.

The whole army being returned from the pursuit, stripped the dead, and afterwards set up a trophy. After which all the allies under arms solemnized the funeral obsequies of Brasidas, in a public manner; and the inhabitants of Amphipolis celebrated funeral honours every year to his memo, ly, as to a hero, with games, combats, and sacrifices. They considered him as their founder; and to secure this title the better to him, they demolished all the monuments of him a who had really been so; in order that they might not appear to owe their establishment to an Athenian, and at the same time make their court to the Lacedæmonians, on whom they depended wholly for their security. The Athenians, after having carried off, with the consent of the victors, their dead, returned to Athens, during which the Lacedæmonians settled the affairs of Amphipolis. 6 A saying is ascribed to the mother of Brasidas, which strongly indicates the Spartan character. As some persons dvere applauding in her presence the fine qualities and ex4 Agaon the Athenjan,

b Diod. do xii. p. 128. T?


alted actions of her son, and declaring him superior to all other generals: “ You are mistaken,” says she, my son “ was a valiant man, but Sparta has many citizens braver “ than he.” A mother's generosity, in thus preferring the glory of the state to that of her son, was admired, and did not go unrewarded; for the Ephori paid her public ho

a After this last engagement, in which the two persons who were the greatest obstacles to the peace lost their lives, both nations seemed more inclined to an accommodation, and the war was suspended in a manner on both sides. The Athenians since the loss of the battles of Delium and Amphipolis, which had very much brought down their haughtiness, were undeceived with regard to the high opinion they had hitherto entertained of their own strength, that had made them refuse the advantageous offers of their enemies, Besides, they were apprehensive of the revolt of their allies who, being discouraged by their losses, might thereby be induced to abandon them, as several had already done. These reflections made them strongly repent their not having concluded a treaty, after the advantages they had gained at Pylus. The Lacedæmonians, on the other side, no longer flattered themselves with the hopes of being able to ruin the Athenians by laying waste their country; and were besides dejected and terrified by their loss in the island, the greatest they had ever sustained. They also considered that their country was depopulated by the garrison of Pylus and Cythera ; that their slaves deserted; that they had reason to dread a more considerable revolt; and that as the truce they had concluded with the inhabitants of Argos was near expiring, they had reason to be apprehensive of being abandoned by some of their allies of Peloponnesus, as in fact they were. These several motives, enforced by the desire they had of recovering the prisoners, the greatest part of whom were the most considerable citizens of Sparta, made them desire a peace.

Those who were most solicitous for having it concluded, and whose interest it was chiefly to wish it, were the chiefs of the two states, viz. Plistonax king of Lacedæmonia, and Nicias general of the Athenians. The former was lately returned from banishment, to which he had been sentenced, on account of his being suspected to have received a bribe, in order to draw off his troops from the Athenian territories; and to this precipitate retreat were ascribed several misfortunes which followed after it. He also was charged with having corrupted by gifts the priestess of Delphos, who had commanded the Spartans, in the name of the god, to recal him from his exile. Plistonax was therefore desirous of peace, in order to put an end to the reproaches, which, on account of the perpetual calamities of the war, were daily revived. As for Nicias, the most fortunate general of his age, he was afraid lest some unhappy accident should sully his glory; and he wished to enjoy the fruits of peace in ease and tranquillity, and to insure the same happiness to his country:

a Thucyd. 1. v. p. 351-354,

a Both states began by agreeing to a suspension of arms for twelve months, during which, being every day together, and tasting the sweets of security and repose, and the pleasure of corresponding with their friends and with foreigners, they grew passionately desirous of leading an easy, undisturbed life, remote from the alarms of war, and the horrors of blood and slaughter. They heard with the utmost demonstrations of joy the chorusses of their tragedies sing, May “ spiders henceforward weave their cobwebs on our lances " and shields!” and they remembered with pleasure him who said, “Those who sleep in the arms of peace, do not start from “ them at the sound of the trumpet; and nothing interrupts “ their slumbers but the peaceful crowing of the cock.”

6 The whole winter was spent in conferences and interviews, in which each party proposed their rights and pretensions. c At last a peace was concluded and ratified for fifty years; one of the chief articles of which was, that they should reciprocally restore the prisoners on each side. This treaty was concluded ten years and some days from the first declaration of the war. The Bæotians and Corinthians were exceedingly disgusted at it, and for that reason used their utmost endeavours to excite fresh troubles. d But Nicias persuaded the Athenians and Lacedæmonians to give the last hand to this peace, by concluding an alliance offensive and defensive, which would render them more formidable to those who should desire to break with them, and more assured with regard to each other. The Athenians, in consequence of this treaty, at last restored the prisoners they had taken in the island of Sphacteria.

Sect. IV. Alcibiades begins to appear in public. His Character. He

opposes Nicias in every thing, and breaks the Treaty he had concluded. The Banishment of Hyperbolus puts an end to the Ostracism.

TWELFTH YEAR OF THE WAR. e Alcibiades began now to advance himself in the state, and appear in the public assemblies. Socrates had attached him.

a Thucyd. I. v p. 354. Plut. in Nic. p. 528, 529. b Dioul. I. xij. p. 122. & A. M. 3583, Ant. J. C. 421, :d Thucyd. l. v. p. 358,359. c Plu t. in Alcib. p. 192, 194.


self to him for many years, and adorned his mind with a great variety of the noblest erudition.

The strict intimacy between Alcibiades and Socrates is one of the most remarkable circumstances in his life. This philosopher observing excellent natural qualities in him, which were greatly heightened by the beauty of his person, bestowed incredible pains in cultivating so valuable a plant, lest, being neglected it should wither as it grew, and absolutely degenerate. And indeed, Alcibiades was exposed to numberless dangers; the nobility of his birth, his vast riches, the authority of his family, the influence of his guardians, his personal talents, his exquisite beauty, and, still more than these, the flattery and complaisance of all who approached him. One would have concluded says Plutarch, that fortune had surrounded and invested him with all these pretended advantages, as with so many ramparts and bulwarks, to render him inaccessible and invulnerable to all the darts of philosophy; those salutary darts which strike to the very heart and leave in it the strongest inticements to virtue and solid glory. But those very obstacles redoubled the zeal of So

Notwithstanding the strong endeavours that were used to divert this young Athenian from an intercourse which alone was capable of securing him from so many snares, he devoted himself entirely to it. As he had abundance of wit, he was fully sensible of Socrates's extraordinary merit, and could not resist the charms of his sweet and insinuating eloquence, which at that time had a greater ascendant over him than the allurements of pleasure. He was so zealous a disciple of that great master, that he followed him wherever he went, took the utmost delight in his conversation, was extremely well pleased with his principles, received his instructions and even his reprimands with wonderful docility, and would be so moved with his discourses, as even to shed tears and abhor himself; so weighty was the force of truth in the mouth of Socrates, and in so glaring a light did he expose the hideousness and deformity of the vices to which Alcibiades abandoned himself.

Alcibiades, in those moments when he listened to Socrates, differed so much from himself, that he appeared quite another man. However, his headstrong, fiery temper, and his natural fondness for pleasure, which was heightened and inflamed by the conversation and advice of young people soon plunged him into his former irregularities, and tore him as it were, from his master; who was obliged to run after him as ofter a runaway slave. This vicissitude of flights and returns, of virtuous resolutions and relapses into vice, continued a long time; but still Socrates was not disheartened by his

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »