Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Works by Thucydides
Pages of History of The Peloponnesian War - Book VIII

Previous | Next

History of The Peloponnesian War - Book VIII   

The ship Paralus, with Chaereas, son of Archestratus, on board, an
Athenian who had taken an active part in the revolution, was now
without loss of time sent off by the Samians and the army to Athens to
report what had occurred; the fact that the Four Hundred were in power
not being yet known. When they sailed into harbour the Four Hundred
immediately arrested two or three of the Parali and, taking the vessel
from the rest, shifted them into a troopship and set them to keep
guard round Euboea. Chaereas, however, managed to secrete himself as
soon as he saw how things stood, and returning to Samos, drew a
picture to the soldiers of the horrors enacting at Athens, in which
everything was exaggerated; saying that all were punished with
stripes, that no one could say a word against the holders of power,
that the soldiers' wives and children were outraged, and that it was
intended to seize and shut up the relatives of all in the army at
Samos who were not of the government's way of thinking, to be put to
death in case of their disobedience; besides a host of other injurious
On hearing this the first thought of the army was to fall upon the
chief authors of the oligarchy and upon all the rest concerned.
Eventually, however, they desisted from this idea upon the men of
moderate views opposing it and warning them against ruining their
cause, with the enemy close at hand and ready for battle. After
this, Thrasybulus, son of Lycus, and Thrasyllus, the chief leaders
in the revolution, now wishing in the most public manner to change the
government at Samos to a democracy, bound all the soldiers by the most
tremendous oaths, and those of the oligarchical party more than any,
to accept a democratic government, to be united, to prosecute actively
the war with the Peloponnesians, and to be enemies of the Four
Hundred, and to hold no communication with them. The same oath was
also taken by all the Samians of full age; and the soldiers associated
the Samians in all their affairs and in the fruits of their dangers,
having the conviction that there was no way of escape for themselves
or for them, but that the success of the Four Hundred or of the
enemy at Miletus must be their ruin.
The struggle now was between the army trying to force a democracy
upon the city, and the Four Hundred an oligarchy upon the camp.
Meanwhile the soldiers forthwith held an assembly, in which they
deposed the former generals and any of the captains whom they
suspected, and chose new captains and generals to replace them,
besides Thrasybulus and Thrasyllus, whom they had already. They also
stood up and encouraged one another, and among other things urged that
they ought not to lose heart because the city had revolted from
them, as the party seceding was smaller and in every way poorer in
resources than themselves. They had the whole fleet with which to
compel the other cities in their empire to give them money just as
if they had their base in the capital, having a city in Samos which,
so far from wanting strength, had when at war been within an ace of
depriving the Athenians of the command of the sea, while as far as the
enemy was concerned they had the same base of operations as before.
Indeed, with the fleet in their hands, they were better able to
provide themselves with supplies than the government at home. It was
their advanced position at Samos which had throughout enabled the home
authorities to command the entrance into Piraeus; and if they
refused to give them back the constitution, they would now find that
the army was more in a position to exclude them from the sea than they
were to exclude the army. Besides, the city was of little or no use
towards enabling them to overcome the enemy; and they had lost nothing
in losing those who had no longer either money to send them (the
soldiers having to find this for themselves), or good counsel, which
entitles cities to direct armies. On the contrary, even in this the
home government had done wrong in abolishing the institutions of their
ancestors, while the army maintained the said institutions, and
would try to force the home government to do so likewise. So that even
in point of good counsel the camp had as good counsellors as the city.

Previous | Next
Site Search