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History of The Peloponnesian War - Book VIII   


Decelea, descended to the very walls of Athens; hoping either that
civil disturbances might help to subdue them to his terms, or that, in
the confusion to be expected within and without the city, they might
even surrender without a blow being struck; at all events he thought
he would succeed in seizing the Long Walls, bared of their
defenders. However, the Athenians saw him come close up, without
making the least disturbance within the city; and sending out their
cavalry, and a number of their heavy infantry, light troops, and
archers, shot down some of his soldiers who approached too near, and
got possession of some arms and dead. Upon this Agis, at last
convinced, led his army back again and, remaining with his own
troops in the old position at Decelea, sent the reinforcement back
home, after a few days' stay in Attica. After this the Four Hundred
persevering sent another embassy to Agis, and now meeting with a
better reception, at his suggestion dispatched envoys to Lacedaemon to
negotiate a treaty, being desirous of making peace.
They also sent ten men to Samos to reassure the army, and to explain
that the oligarchy was not established for the hurt of the city or the
citizens, but for the salvation of the country at large; and that
there were five thousand, not four hundred only, concerned;
although, what with their expeditions and employments abroad, the
Athenians had never yet assembled to discuss a question important
enough to bring five thousand of them together. The emissaries were
also told what to say upon all other points, and were so sent off
immediately after the establishment of the new government, which
feared, as it turned out justly, that the mass of seamen would not
be willing to remain under the oligarchical constitution, and, the
evil beginning there, might be the means of their overthrow.
Indeed at Samos the question of the oligarchy had already entered
upon a new phase, the following events having taken place just at
the time that the Four Hundred were conspiring. That part of the
Samian population which has been mentioned as rising against the upper
class, and as being the democratic party, had now turned round, and
yielding to the solicitations of Pisander during his visit, and of the
Athenians in the conspiracy at Samos, had bound themselves by oaths to
the number of three hundred, and were about to fall upon the rest of
their fellow citizens, whom they now in their turn regarded as the
democratic party. Meanwhile they put to death one Hyperbolus, an
Athenian, a pestilent fellow that had been ostracized, not from fear
of his influence or position, but because he was a rascal and a
disgrace to the city; being aided in this by Charminus, one of the
generals, and by some of the Athenians with them, to whom they had
sworn friendship, and with whom they perpetrated other acts of the
kind, and now determined to attack the people. The latter got wind
of what was coming, and told two of the generals, Leon and Diomedon,
who, on account of the credit which they enjoyed with the commons,
were unwilling supporters of the oligarchy; and also Thrasybulus and
Thrasyllus, the former a captain of a galley, the latter serving
with the heavy infantry, besides certain others who had ever been
thought most opposed to the conspirators, entreating them not to
look on and see them destroyed, and Samos, the sole remaining stay
of their empire, lost to the Athenians. Upon hearing this, the persons
whom they addressed now went round the soldiers one by one, and
urged them to resist, especially the crew of the Paralus, which was
made up entirely of Athenians and freemen, and had from time out of
mind been enemies of oligarchy, even when there was no such thing
existing; and Leon and Diomedon left behind some ships for their
protection in case of their sailing away anywhere themselves.
Accordingly, when the Three Hundred attacked the people, all these
came to the rescue, and foremost of all the crew of the Paralus; and
the Samian commons gained the victory, and putting to death some
thirty of the Three Hundred, and banishing three others of the
ringleaders, accorded an amnesty to the rest. and lived together under
a democratic government for the future.

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