11. The Oligarchy of 411 (Thuc. 8.66-71)

Pisander and his colleagues [from the army on Samos] on the coastal route to Athens abolished the democracies in the cities along the way, as planned, and also enlisted as their allies some heavy infantry [whose natural sympathies might be with the oligarchs]. At Athens they found most of the work already done by their associates. Some of the younger men had banded together, and secretly assassinated one Androcles, the chief leader of the democrats and mainly responsible for the banishment of Alcibiades. Androcles was made an example because he was a popular leader, and because they expected by killing him to ingratiate themselves with Alcibiades--who was supposed to be recalled and would make Tissaphernes [the Persian satrap] their friend. There were also some other troublesome persons whom they secretly removed in the same way. Meanwhile their rallying cry in public was that no pay should be given to any but the men serving in the war, and that not more than five thousand should share in the government, and those participants should be the men most able to serve the state in person and in financial resources.

But this was a mere slogan for the masses; the authors of the revolution were really to govern. However, the Assembly and the Council still met notwithstanding, although they discussed nothing that was not approved of by the conspirators, who both supplied the speakers, and reviewed in advance what they were to say. Fear, and the sight of the numbers of the conspirators, closed the mouths of the rest; or if any ventured to rise in opposition, he was presently put to death in some convenient way, and there was neither search for the murderers nor any prosecution of those suspected. The people remained paralyzed, being so thoroughly intimidated that men thought themselves lucky to escape violence even when they kept quiet. An exaggerated belief in the numbers of the conspirators also demoralised the people, rendered helpless by the size of the city and by their lack of reliable information... For the same reason it was impossible for any one to open his grief to a neighbour or plot to defend himself, since he would have to speak either to one whom he did not know or whom he knew but did not trust. Indeed all the democrats approached each other with suspicion, each thinking his neighbor was involved in what was going on. For he conspirators had in their ranks persons whom no one could ever have believed capable of joining an oligarchy, and these unlikely partisans made the masses all the more suspicious and so shielded the few [real instigators], by making the ordinary citizens suspect each other.

At this point Pisander and his colleagues arrived, and they lost no time in doing the rest. First they assembled the people, and moved to elect ten commissioners with full powers to frame a constitution. These commissioners, on an appointed day, would lay before the people their opinion as to the best mode of governing the city. Afterwards, when the day arrived, the conspirators convened the assembly in Colonus, a temple of Poseidon, a little more than a mile outside the city. At this point the commissioners simply brought forward this single motion, that any Athenian might propose with impunity whatever measure he pleased; heavy penalties were imposed upon any who should indict for illegality or otherwise obstruct their reforms [It was now illegal to invoke the usual democratic safeguards]. The way thus cleared, it was now plainly declared, that all tenure of office and receipt of pay under the existing institutions were at an end, and that five men must be elected as presidents, who should in their turn elect one hundred, and each of the hundred three apiece; and that this body thus made up to four hundred should enter the council chamber with full powers and govern as they judged best, and should convene the five thousand [enfranchised citizens] whenever they pleased.

The man who moved this resolution was Pisander, and throughout the crisis he was the chief ostensible agent in putting down the democracy. But the man who planned the whole affair, and prepared the way for the overthrow and had given the greatest thought to it, was Antiphon, one of the best men of his day in Athens; who, with a head to plot and a tongue to persuade. He did not openly come forward in the assembly or in any public forum, as he was suspect to the common folk because of his notorious talent. And yet he was the one man best able to help his clients in the courts or before the assembly. Indeed, afterwards, when the Four Hundred were overthrown and persecuted by the democrats and Antiphon himself was on trial for his life for conspiring with the oligarchs, he made what would seem to be the best defence of any known in my time.

Phrynichus also went beyond all others in his zeal for the oligarchy. He was afraid of Alcibiades, supposing that Alcibiades knew of his intrigues against him with Astyochus at Samos; and he assumed that no oligarchy would ever actually bring Alcibiades to power. Once he joined in the enterprise, he proved by far the staunchest of them all, wherever danger was to be faced. Theramenes, son of Hagnon, was also one of the foremost of the subverters of the democracy--a man as able in council as in debate. Led by so many and by such cunning protagonists, the enterprise was reasonably successful, ambitious though it was. For it was no easy task to deprive the Athenian people of its freedom, almost a hundred years after the tyrants were driven out, when the people had been not only free of domination during the whole of that period, but accustomed most of the time to have dominion over others.

The assembly ratified the proposed constitution, without a single opposing voice, and was then dissolved; after which the Four Hundred were brought into the council chamber in the following way. On account of the [Spartan garrison nearby] at Decelea, all the Athenians were constantly on the wall or in the ranks at the various military posts. On that day the persons not in the secret were allowed to go home as usual, while orders were given to the accomplices of the conspirators to hang around, without making any demonstration, at some little distance from the posts, and in case of any opposition to what was being done, to seize the arms and put it down. There were also some Andrians and Tenians, three hundred Carystians, and some of the settlers in Aegina [from among the islanders] come with their own arms for this very purpose, who had received similar instructions. These arrangements completed, the Four Hundred went, each with a dagger hidden in his cloak, accompanied by one hundred and twenty Greek youths [presumably outsiders] whom they used whenever violence was needed, and appeared before the Councilors in the council chamber [These were the councilmen elected by regular democratic lottery in the previous year]. The oligarchs told them to take their pay and depart; they were paid for the remaining months of their term as they left the chamber.

Upon the Council withdrawing in this way without venturing any objection, and the rest of the citizens making no movement, the Four Hundred entered the council chamber, and for the present contented themselves with drawing lots for their Prytanes [presiding officers], and making their prayers and sacrifices to the gods upon entering office. Afterwards, however, they made a radical departure from the democratic government, and--except that on account of Alcibiades they did not recall the exiles--they ruled the city by force, putting to death some few men whom they thought it convenient to remove, and imprisoning and banishing others. They also sent to Agis, the Spartan king, at Decelea, to say that they desired to make peace, and that he might reasonably be more disposed to treat now that he had [a sympathetic regime] to deal with instead of the volatile demos. Agis, however, did not believe the city was secure, or that the demos would thus in a moment give up their ancient liberty . . .

[Much of the army on Samos opposed the oligarchy, led by Thrasybulus (later champion of democracy). Within a few months the oligarchy of 400 was overthrown and a more moderate regime, based on a limited citizen body of 5000, took over. Antiphon was tried and put to death. Soon thereafter the full democracy was restored (410). But a second oligarchic regime was installed scarcely six years later, with defeat at the hands of the Spartans.]



12. The Fall of Athens (404 BC); Critias and Theramenes

Xenophon, Hellenica, 2.2. 8ff.

[Much of the Athenian fleet was captured at Aegospotami (405). The brilliant Spartan commander, Lysander then proceeds to advance upon Athens...]

Lysander, upon reaching Aegina, restored the state to the Aeginetans, gathering together as many of them as he could, and he did the same thing for the Melians, and for all the others who had been exiled from their native states. Then, after laying waste Salamis, he anchored at Piraeus [in the very harbor of Athens!] with one hundred and fifty ships and closed the entrance to the harbor against all merchantmen.

Now the Athenians, being thus besieged by land and by sea, knew not what to do, since they had neither ships nor allies nor provisions; and they thought that there was no way out, but they would have to suffer what they themselves had done to others, (for the Athenians had enslaved other peoples) not in retaliation (for some wrong) but in wanton injustice against weaker states, for no other single reason than because they were allied with the Lacedaemonians [Melos, for instance].

In such dire straits, The Athenians gave back their political rights to those who had been disfranchised [to strengthen their ranks], and they held out steadfastly, refusing to plead for peace even though many were dying in the streets from starvation. But when their provisions were entirely exhausted, they sent ambassadors to Agis [the Spartan king at Decelea] declaring their willingness to become allies of the Lacedaemonians while still keeping their walls and Piraeus, hoping on these terms to conclude a treaty. But Agis ordered them go to Lacedaemon, saying that he himself had no authority to negotiate a treaty.

When the ambassadors reported to the Athenian assembly this reply, they sent them to Lacedaemon. But when they were at Sellasia, near Laconia, and the Ephors learned from them what proposals they were bringing--the same ones they had presented to Agis--they directed them to go back again without coming a step farther and, if they really had any desire for peace, to take more serious counsel before they returned. When the ambassadors reached home and reported this to the people, despair descended upon them all; for they expected they would ultimately have to submit to slavery, and while they were sending another set of ambassadors, many would die of the famine. Nevertheless, no one wanted to make any proposal involving the destruction of the walls; for when Archestratus said in the Council that it was best to make peace with the Lacedaemonians on the terms they offered--and the terms were that they should tear down a portion ten stadia long (about a mile and 1/4) of each of the two long walls--he was thrown into prison, and a decree was passed criminalizing any proposal of this sort.

This being the state of affairs in Athens, Theramenes said in the Assembly that if they would send him to Lysander [anchored outside the city], he would not come back before he found out whether the Spartans insisted on breaching the walls because they wished to reduce the city to slavery or as a proof of good faith. Once dispatched, however, he stayed with Lysander three months and more, waiting for the time when the Athenians would have nothing left and would agree to anything and everything which might be proposed. And when he returned in the fourth month, he reported in the Assembly that Lysander had detained him all this time and had then directed him to go to Lacedaemon, saying that he had no authority in the matters concerning which Theramenes asked for information, but only the Ephors. After this Theramenes was chosen ambassador to Lacedaemon with full power, leading an embassy of ten. Lysander meanwhile sent Aristoteles, an Athenian exile, in company with some Spartans to report to the Ephors that the answer he had made to Theramenes was that they [the Ephors] only had authority to negotiate peace and war.

Now when Theramenes and the other ambassadors were at Sellasia and, on being asked with what proposals they had come, replied that they had full power to treat for peace, the Ephors thereupon gave orders to summon them to Lacedaemon. When they arrived, the Ephors called an assembly, at which the Corinthians and Thebans in particular opposed making a treaty with the Athenians and favored destroying their city; many other Greeks agreed with them. The Lacedaemonians, however, said that they would not enslave a Greek city that had done great service amid the greatest perils that had befallen Greece, and they offered to make peace on these conditions: (1) that the Atheninas should destroy the long walls and the walls of Piraeus, (2) surrender all their ships except twelve, (3) allow their exiles to return, (4) count the same people friends and enemies as the Lacedaemonians did, (5) and follow the Lacedaemonians both by land and by sea wherever they should lead the way.

So Theramenes and his fellow-ambassadors brought back this word to Athens. And as they were entering the city, a great crowd gathered around them, fearful that they had returned unsuccessful; for it was no longer possible to delay, on account of the number who were dying of starvation On the next day the ambassadors reported to the Assembly the terms on which the Lacedaemonians offered to make peace; Theramenes acted as spokesman for the embassy, and urged that it was best to obey the Lacedaemonians and tear down the walls. And while some spoke in opposition to him, a far greater number supported him, and it was voted to accept the peace.

Thereafter Lysander sailed into Piraeus, the exiles returned, and the Peloponnesians with great enthusiasm began to tear down the walls to the music of flute-girls, thinking that day was the beginning of freedom for Greece.

So the year ended, in the middle of which Dionysius of Syracuse, the son of Hermocrates, became tyrant, after the Carthaginians had been defeated in battle by the Syracusans, but had captured Acragas by famine, the Sicelians abandoning the city.


3. In the following year ....Endius being now ephor at Sparta and Pythodorus archon at Athens. Since, however, Pythodorus was chosen during the time of the oligarchy, the Athenians do not use his name to mark the year, but call it "the archonless year" (Greek, anarchia)

And this oligarchy came into being in the way hereafter described: --It was voted by the people to choose thirty men to frame the ancient laws into a constitution under which to conduct the government. The following men were chosen: Polychares, Critias, . . . Theramenes, . . . Diocles . . . Peison, Sophocles, Eratosthenes, Charicles, Onomacles, Theognis, Aeschines, Theogenes ..., Erasistratus, Pheidon, Dracontides ...(et al.). When this had been done, Lysander sailed off to Samos, while Agis withdrew the land force from Decelea and dismissed the several contingents to their cities. . . .

Meanwhile the Samians (the last of the major allies of Athens) were being besieged by Lysander on every side, and when, seeing that at first they refused to come to terms, he was on the point of making an attack upon them, they came to an agreement with him that every free person should depart from the city with but one cloak and that all else should be surrendered; and on these terms they withdrew. And Lysander gave over the city and everything therein to the former citizens, and appointed ten rulers to guard it; then he dismissed the naval contingents of the allies to their several cities and sailed home with the Laconian ships to Lacedaemon, taking with him the prows of the captured ships, the triremes from Piraeus except twelve, the crowns which he had received from the cities as gifts to himself individually, four hundred and seventy talents in money, being the balance that remained of the tribute money which [Persian king] Cyrus had assigned to him for the prosecution of the war, and whatever else he had obtained during the course of the war. All these things he delivered over to the Lacedaemonians at the close of the summer--with which ended the twenty-eight years and six months [sic]of the war, during which years the eponymous ephors were the following: Aenesias first, in whose term the war began, in the fifteenth year of the thirty years' truce which followed the conquest of Euboea, and after him the following: Brasidas, ... and Endius; it was in Endius' term that Lysander sailed home after performing the deeds above described.

Now at Athens the Thirty had been chosen as soon as the long walls ... were demolished. Although chosen for the very purpose of framing a constitution by which to conduct the government, they continually delayed framing and publishing this document, but they appointed a Council and the other magistrates as they saw fit. Then, as a first step, (1) they arrested and brought to trial for their lives those persons who, by common knowledge, had made a living in the time of the democracy by acting as informers and had been hostile to the aristocrats; and the Council was glad to pronounce these people guilty, and the rest of the citizens were perfectly happy with such speedy justice--at least all who supposed that they themselves were not of the same sort as the condemned men. When, however, the Thirty began to consider how they might become free to do just as they pleased with the state, their first act was (2) to send Aeschines and Aristoteles to Lacedaemon and persuade Lysander to help them to secure the sending of a Lacedaemonian garrison, to remain in Athens until, as they said, they could put "the trash" out of the way and establish their government; and they promised to maintain this garrison at their own expense. Lysander agreed and helped them to get troops dispatched to Athens, with Callibius as commandant. But when the Thirty had gotten the garrison, they paid court to Callibius obsequiously, to assure that he would approve of everything they did; and as he sent guardsmen to escort them, (3) they arrested the people whom they wished to remove--not just "the trash" and persons of no 'count, but from this time on they persecuted the men who, they thought, were least likely to submit and who were most likely to win the strongest support, if they offered any opposition.

Now in the beginning Critias and Theramenes were agreed in their policy and friendly; but when Critias showed himself eager to put many to death, because, for one thing, he had been banished by the democracy, Theramenes opposed him, saying that it was not reasonable to put a man to death because he was honored by the common people, provided he was doing no harm to the upper class. "For," said he, "you and I also have said and done many things for the sake of winning the favor of the city." Then Critias (for he still treated Theramenes as a friend) replied that it was impossible for people who wanted to gain power not to put out of the way those who were best able to thwart them: "If it is because we are thirty and not one, you imagine that it is any less necessary for us to keep close control, just as if this regime were a tyranny, you are a fool"

But when, on account of the great numbers continually--and unjustly--put to death, it was clear that many were wondering what the government was coming to and beginning to band together against it, Theramenes spoke again, saying that unless they admitted an adequate number of citizens into partnership with them in the management of affairs, it would be impossible for the oligarchy to endure. Accordingly Critias and the rest of the Thirty, who were by this time alarmed and feared above all that the citizens would flock to the support of Theramenes, enrolled a body of three thousand, who were to share, so they said, in the government. Theramenes, however, objected to this move also, saying that, in the first place, it seemed to him absurd that, when they wanted to make the best of the citizens their associates, they should limit themselves to three thousand, as though this number must somehow be good men and true and there could neither be excellent men outside this body nor rascals within it. "Besides," he said, "we are undertaking, in my opinion, two absolutely inconsistent things--to prop up our government by force and at the same time to make it weaker than its subjects."

This was what Theramenes said. (4) But the Thirty held a review: they assembled the Three Thousand in the market-place, and all those who were not registered citizens on "the roll" were summoned to scattered locations; then ...they sent their Lacedaemonian guardsmen and such citizens as were in sympathy with them, seized the arms of all except the Three Thousand, carried them up to the Acropolis and deposited them in the temple. And now, (5) when this had been accomplished, thinking that they were finally free to do whatever they wanted, they put many people to death out of personal grudges, and many others were removed simply in order to steal their property. One measure that they resolved upon, in order to get money to pay their guardsmen, was that each of their number should seize one of the aliens residing in the city, and that they should put these men to death and confiscate their property.

So they ordered Theramenes also to seize anyone he pleased; and he replied: "But it is not honorable, it seems to me," he said, "for people who style themselves the 'best citizens' to commit acts of greater injustice than the informers used to do. For they allowed those from whom they got money, to live; but shall we, in order to get money, put to death men who are guilty of no wrong-doing? Are not such acts altogether more unjust than [the informers] were?"

(6) Then the Thirty, thinking that Theramenes was an obstacle to their doing whatever they pleased, plotted against him, and kept accusing him to individual councilors, one to one man and another to another, of injuring the government. And after passing the word to some bold young fellows to be present with daggers hidden, they convened the Council. Then when Theramenes arrived, Critias arose and spoke as follows:

[ Speech of Critias.]

"Gentlemen of the Council, if anyone among you thinks that too many people are being put to death, let him consider that where governments change these things have to happen. It is inevitable that those who are changing the government here to an oligarchy should have most numerous enemies, both because this city is the most populous of the Greek states and because the common folk have been bred and reared in a condition of freedom for the longest time. Now, believing that for men like ourselves and you, democracy is a burdensome form of government, and convinced that the common folk would never make friends with the Lacedaemonians, our saviors, while the aristocrats would continue ever faithful to them, for these reasons we are establishing, with the approval of the Lacedaemonians, the present form of government. And if we find anyone opposed to the oligarchy, so far as we have the power we put him out of the way. But in particular we consider it to be right that, if any one of our own number is harming this order of things, he too should be punished.

"Now in fact we find this man Theramenes trying, any way he can, to destroy both ourselves [the ruling 30] and you [the appointed council] . As proof that this is true you will discover, if you consider the matter, that no one finds more fault with the present proceedings than Theramenes here, and no one offers more opposition when we wish to put some demagogue out of the way. Now if he had held these views from the beginning, he was, to be sure, an enemy, but not a no-good [traitor]. But in fact, he was the very man who took the initiative in coming to terms with the Lacedaemonians; he was the very man who began the overthrow of the democracy, and who urged you most to inflict punishment upon those who were brought before you for trial; but now, when you and we are obviously hated by the democrats, he no longer approves of what is going on--just so that he may get on the safe side again, and that we may be held accountable for what has been done. So he has to be punished not merely as an enemy, but also as a traitor both to you and to ourselves. And treason is a far more dreadful thing than warfare, inasmuch as it is harder to take precaution against the hidden than against the open threat, and a far more hateful thing, inasmuch as men make peace with enemies and become their trusting friends again, but if they catch a man playing the traitor, they never in any case make peace with that man or trust him thereafter.

"Now to let you know that this man's present doings are nothing new, but that he is, rather, a traitor by nature, I will recall to you his past deeds. This man in the beginning, although he had received honors at the hands of the democracy, was extremely eager, like his father Hagnon, to change the democracy into the oligarchy of the Four Hundred, and he was a leader in that government. When, however, he perceived that some opposition to the oligarchy was gathering, he took the lead again--as champion of the democrats against the oligarchs! That is the reason, you know, why he is nicknamed 'Moccasin' [or 'flip-flop']: for just as a [loose slipper] seems to fit both feet, so he turns either way. But, Theramenes, the man who deserves to live ought not to be clever at leading his comrades into dangerous undertakings and then turn around the instant there is any trouble; he ought to do, as [a good sailor] on shipboard-- hold to his task until there comes a fair wind. Otherwise, how in the world would sailors reach the port for which they are bound, if they should sail in the opposite direction the moment any adversity offered itself? It is true, of course, that all sorts of changes in government are attended by loss of life, but you, thanks to your changing sides so easily, share the responsibility, not merely for the slaughter of a large number of oligarchs by the commons, but also for the slaughter of a large number of democrats by the aristocracy. And this Theramenes, you remember, was the man assigned by the generals to pick up the Athenians shipwrecked at the battle [at Arginusae, 406] off Lesbos, who failed to do his duty but put the blame on the generals and brought about their death, to save his own skin!

"Now when a man clearly shows that he is always looking out for his own advantage and taking no thought for honor or his friends, how in the world can it be right to spare him? Knowing of his previous reversals, shouldn't we take precautions that he not be able to do the same thing to us?

We therefore arraign him on the charge of plotting against us and betraying both ourselves and you. And in proof that what we are thus doing is proper, consider this fact also. The constitution of the Lacedaemonians is, we know, considered the best of all constitutions. Now in Lacedaemon if one of the Ephors should undertake to find fault with the government and to oppose what was being done instead of yielding to the majority, do you not suppose that he would be regarded, not only by the Ephors themselves but also by all the rest of the state, as having merited the severest punishment? So, if you are wise, you will not spare this Theramenes, but rather save yourselves; for to leave him alive would inspire many of your adversaries to think that they may prevail, while to destroy him would cut off the hopes of them all..."

[Speech of Theramenes]

When Critias had said this, he sat down; and Theramenes rose and spoke: "Gentlemen, I want to start with the last thing Critias said against me. He says that I brought about the death of the generals by my accusation [after the battle of Arginusae, 406] . But it was not I, as you know, who began the matter by accusing them; on the contrary, it was they who accused me, by stating that although that duty was assigned to me by them, I failed to pick up the survivors in the battle off Lesbos. I said in my defence that on account of the storm it was not possible even to sail, much less to pick up the men, and it was decided by the state that my plea was a reasonable one, while the generals were clearly incriminating themselves. For though they said it was possible to save the men, they nevertheless sailed away and left them to perish. I do not wonder, however, that Critias has misunderstood the matter for when these events took place, it chanced that he was not here; he was establishing a democracy in Thessaly along with Prometheus, and arming the serfs against their masters. God forbid that any of the things which he was doing there should happen here.

"I quite agree with him, however, on this point, that if anyone is desirous of deposing you from your office and is making strong those who are plotting against you, it is just for that traitor to incur the severest punishment. But I think you can best judge who it is that is doing this, if you will consider the course which each of us two has taken and is now taking. Up to the time when you became members of the Council and magistrates were appointed and the notorious informers were brought to trial, all of us were in agreement; but when these Thirty began to arrest men of worth and standing, then I, for my part, began to oppose their policy. For when Leon the Salaminian was put to death--a man capable of much, both by his deeds and by repute--although he was not guilty of a single act of wrong-doing, I knew that those who were like him would be fearful, and, being fearful, would be enemies of this government. I also knew, when Niceratus, the son of Nicias, was arrested--a man of wealth who, like his father, had never done anything to curry popular favour--that those who were like him would become hostile to us. And further, when Antiphon* who during the war supplied from his own means two fast-sailing triremes, was put to death by us, I knew that all those who had been zealous in the state's cause would look upon us with suspicion. I objected, also, when they said that each of us must seize one of the foreign residents; for it was entirely clear that if these men were put to death, the whole community of foreigners living in Athens would become enemies of the government. I objected likewise when they took away from the people their arms, because I thought that we ought not to make the state weak; for I saw that, in preserving us, the purpose of the Lacedaemonians had not been that we might become few in number and unable to do them any service; for if this had been what they desired, it was within their power, by keeping up the pressure of famine a little while longer, to leave not a single man alive. Again, the hiring of guardsmen did not please me, for we might have enlisted in our service an equal number of our own citizens, until we, the rulers, should easily have made ourselves masters of our subjects. And further, when I saw that many in the city were becoming hostile to this government and that many were becoming exiles, it did not seem to me best to banish either Thrasybulus or Anytus or Alcibiades; for I knew that by such measures the opposition would be made strong, if once the common folk should acquire capable leaders and if those who wished to be leaders should find a throng of supporters.

"Now would the man who offers openly this sort of warning be fairly regarded as a well-wisher, or as a traitor? The traitors are not the men who prevent us from making too many enemies nor the men who teach us how to gain the strongest allies--it is not these, I say, who make one's enemies strong. But it is much rather those who unjustly rob others of property and put to death people who are guilty of no wrong, who, I say, make their opponents numerous and betray not only their friends but also themselves, and all to satisfy their greed. And if it is not evident in any other way that what I say is true, look at the matter in this way: do you suppose that Thrasybulus and Anytus and the other exiles would prefer to have us follow here the policy which these men are carrying out in deed? For my part, I fancy that now they believe every spot is full of allies, while if the best class of people were friendly to us, they would count it difficult even to set foot in Attica! Again, as to his statement that I have a propensity to be always changing sides, consider these facts also: it was the people itself, as everybody knows, which voted for the government of the Four Hundred, being advised that the Lacedaemonians would trust any form of government sooner than a democracy. But when the Lacedaemonians did not in the least relax their efforts in prosecuting the war, and Aristoteles, Melanthius, Aristarchus, and their fellow-generals were found to be building a fort on the peninsula, into which they proposed to admit the enemy and so bring the state under the control of themselves and their oligarchic cronies--if I perceived this plan and thwarted it, is that being a traitor to one's friends?

"He dubs me 'Mocassin,' because, as he says, I try to fit both parties. But for the man who pleases neither party--what in the name of the gods should we call him? For you, Critias, in the days of the democracy were regarded as the bitterest of all haters of the commons, and under the aristocracy you have shown yourself the bitterest of all haters of the upper classes. But I was forever at war with the men who think there could be no good democracy until the slaves and sycophants who would sell the state for a dollar should share in the government. On the other hand I am forever an enemy to those who do not think that a good oligarchy could be established until they should bring the state to the point of being ruled absolutely by a few. But to direct the government in company with those who have the means to be of service, whether with horses or with shields--this plan I regarded as best in former days and I do not change my opinion now. And if you can mention any instance, Critias, where I joined hands with demagogues or despots and undertook to deprive respectable men of their citizenship, then speak. For if I am found guilty either of doing this thing now or of ever having done it in the past, I admit that I should justly suffer the ultimate penalty and be put to death.

" With these words he conclude and the Council showed its good will by applause. But Critias, realizing that, if he should allow the Council to pass judgment on the case, Theramenes would escape, and thinking that this would be unbearable, held a brief conference with the Thirty, and then went out and ordered the men with daggers to take their stand at the railing in plain sight of the Council. Then he came in again and said: "Senators, I consider it the duty of a responsible leader, when he sees that his friends are being deceived, not to allow it. I, therefore, shall follow that course. Besides, [pointing to the armed thugs] these men who have taken their stand here say that if we propose to let a man go who is manifestly injuring the oligarchy, they will not let us do it. Now it is provided in the new laws that while no one of those who are on the roll of the Three Thousand may be put to death without your votes, the Thirty shall have power of life or death over those outside the roll. I, therefore," he said, "with the approval of all the Thirty, strike this man Theramenes from the roll. That being done, we now condemn him to death."

When Theramenes heard this, he sprang to the altar and said: "And I beg only bare justice--that it be not within the power of Critias to strike off either me or whomsoever of you he may wish, but rather that both in your case and in mine the judgment may be rendered strictly in accordance with that law which these men have made regarding those on the roll. To be sure," said he, "as I swear by the gods, I know only too well, that this altar will avail me nothing, but I wish to show that these Thirty are not only most unjust toward men, but also most impious toward the gods. But I am surprised at you," he said [referring to the councilmen], "gentlemen of the aristocracy, that you are not going to defend your own rights, especially when you know that my name is no easier to strike off than the names of any of you." At this moment the herald of the Thirty ordered the Eleven [official jailors] to seize Theramenes; and when they came in, attended by their servants and with Satyrus, the most audacious and shameless of them, at their head, Critias said: "We hand over to you," said he, "this man Theramenes, condemned according to the law. Do you, the Eleven, take him and lead him to the proper place and do that which follows.

" When Critias had spoken these words, Satyrus dragged Theramenes away from the altar, and his servants lent their aid. And Theramenes, as was natural, called upon gods and men to witness what was going on. But the councilmen kept quiet, seeing that the young men at the rail were of the same sort as Satyrus and being well aware that they had come armed with daggers and that the space in front of the Council-house was filled with the guardsmen [more heavily armed]. So they led the man away through the market-place, while he proclaimed in a very loud voice the wrongs he was suffering.

[Sayings of Theramenes on death row:] One saying of his that is reported was this: when Satyrus told him that if he did not keep quiet, he would suffer for it, he asked: "Then if I do keep quiet, shall I suffer not?" And when, being compelled to die, he had drunk the hemlock, they said that he threw out the last drops, like a man playing kottabos, and exclaimed: "Here's to the health of my beloved Critias." Now I am not unaware ... that these are not sayings worthy of [historical] record; still, I think it admirable in the man that when death was close at hand, he lost neither his poise nor his cleverness.

4. So, then, Theramenes died; but the Thirty, thinking that now they could play the tyrant without fear, (7) issued a proclamation forbidding those who were outside the roll to enter the city and evicted them from their suburban estates, in order that they themselves and their friends might have these people's lands. And when they fled to Piraeus, they drove many of them away from there also, and filled both Megara and Thebes with the refugees.

Presently Thrasybulus set out from Thebes with about seventy companions and seized Phyle, a strong fortress [near the old Spartan fort at Decelea]. And the Thirty marched out from the city against him with the Three thousand and the cavalry, setting out in fair weather. When they reached Phyle, some of the young men were so bold as to attack the fortress at once, but they accomplished nothing and suffered some wounds themselves before they retreated. And while the Thirty were planning to besiege the place, so as to force them to surrender by shutting off their supplies, a very heavy snow storm came on during the night and continued on the following day. So they came back to the city in the snow, after losing a goodly number of their camp-followers by the attacks of the men in Phyle. Then the Thirty, knowing that the enemy would also gather plunder from the farms if there were no force to protect them, sent out all but a few of the Laconian guardsmen and two divisions of the cavalry to the outlying districts about fifteen stadia [within 2 miles] from Phyle. These troops made camp ... and proceeded to keep guard. Now by this time about seven hundred men were gathered at Phyle . . . .

[This desperate band, led by Thrasybulus and Anytus, grew to several thousand, ultimately defeated the Thirty at Munichia, and restored democracy in the autumn of 403.]