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History of The Peloponnesian War - Book VI   


humour and suspicious of the persons charged in the affair of the
mysteries, and persuaded that all that had taken place was part of
an oligarchical and monarchical conspiracy. In the state of irritation
thus produced, many persons of consideration had been already thrown
into prison, and far from showing any signs of abating, public feeling
grew daily more savage, and more arrests were made; until at last
one of those in custody, thought to be the most guilty of all, was
induced by a fellow prisoner to make a revelation, whether true or not
is a matter on which there are two opinions, no one having been
able, either then or since, to say for certain who did the deed.
However this may be, the other found arguments to persuade him, that
even if he had not done it, he ought to save himself by gaining a
promise of impunity, and free the state of its present suspicions;
as he would be surer of safety if he confessed after promise of
impunity than if he denied and were brought to trial. He accordingly
made a revelation, affecting himself and others in the affair of the
Hermae; and the Athenian people, glad at last, as they supposed, to
get at the truth, and furious until then at not being able to discover
those who had conspired against the commons, at once let go the
informer and all the rest whom he had not denounced, and bringing
the accused to trial executed as many as were apprehended, and
condemned to death such as had fled and set a price upon their
heads. In this it was, after all, not clear whether the sufferers
had been punished unjustly, while in any case the rest of the city
received immediate and manifest relief.
To return to Alcibiades: public feeling was very hostile to him,
being worked on by the same enemies who had attacked him before he
went out; and now that the Athenians fancied that they had got at
the truth of the matter of the Hermae, they believed more firmly
than ever that the affair of the mysteries also, in which he was
implicated, had been contrived by him in the same intention and was
connected with the plot against the democracy. Meanwhile it so
happened that, just at the time of this agitation, a small force of
Lacedaemonians had advanced as far as the Isthmus, in pursuance of
some scheme with the Boeotians. It was now thought that this had
come by appointment, at his instigation, and not on account of the
Boeotians, and that, if the citizens had not acted on the
information received, and forestalled them by arresting the prisoners,
the city would have been betrayed. The citizens went so far as to
sleep one night armed in the temple of Theseus within the walls. The
friends also of Alcibiades at Argos were just at this time suspected
of a design to attack the commons; and the Argive hostages deposited
in the islands were given up by the Athenians to the Argive people
to be put to death upon that account: in short, everywhere something
was found to create suspicion against Alcibiades. It was therefore
decided to bring him to trial and execute him, and the Salaminia was
sent to Sicily for him and the others named in the information, with
instructions to order him to come and answer the charges against
him, but not to arrest him, because they wished to avoid causing any
agitation in the army or among the enemy in Sicily, and above all to
retain the services of the Mantineans and Argives, who, it was
thought, had been induced to join by his influence. Alcibiades, with
his own ship and his fellow accused, accordingly sailed off with the
Salaminia from Sicily, as though to return to Athens, and went with
her as far as Thurii, and there they left the ship and disappeared,
being afraid to go home for trial with such a prejudice existing
against them. The crew of the Salaminia stayed some time looking for
Alcibiades and his companions, and at length, as they were nowhere
to be found, set sail and departed. Alcibiades, now an outlaw, crossed
in a boat not long after from Thurii to Peloponnese; and the Athenians
passed sentence of death by default upon him and those in his company.

CHAPTER XX.

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