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History of The Peloponnesian War - Book VIII   


thus in a manner to oblige him to join their side.
While Alcibiades weighed anchor and sailed eastward straight for
Phaselis and Caunus, the envoys sent by the Four Hundred to Samos
arrived at Athens. Upon their delivering the message from
Alcibiades, telling them to hold out and to show a firm front to the
enemy, and saying that he had great hopes of reconciling them with the
army and of overcoming the Peloponnesians, the majority of the members
of the oligarchy, who were already discontented and only too much
inclined to be quit of the business in any safe way that they could,
were at once greatly strengthened in their resolve. These now banded
together and strongly criticized the administration, their leaders
being some of the principal generals and men in office under the
oligarchy, such as Theramenes, son of Hagnon, Aristocrates, son of
Scellias, and others; who, although among the most prominent members
of the government (being afraid, as they said, of the army at Samos,
and most especially of Alcibiades, and also lest the envoys whom
they had sent to Lacedaemon might do the state some harm without the
authority of the people), without insisting on objections to the
excessive concentration of power in a few hands, yet urged that the
Five Thousand must be shown to exist not merely in name but in
reality, and the constitution placed upon a fairer basis. But this was
merely their political cry; most of them being driven by private
ambition into the line of conduct so surely fatal to oligarchies
that arise out of democracies. For all at once pretend to be not
only equals but each the chief and master of his fellows; while
under a democracy a disappointed candidate accepts his defeat more
easily, because he has not the humiliation of being beaten by his
equals. But what most clearly encouraged the malcontents was the power
of Alcibiades at Samos, and their own disbelief in the stability of
the oligarchy; and it was now a race between them as to which should
first become the leader of the commons.
Meanwhile the leaders and members of the Four Hundred most opposed
to a democratic form of government- Phrynichus who had had the
quarrel with Alcibiades during his command at Samos, Aristarchus the
bitter and inveterate enemy of the commons, and Pisander and
Antiphon and others of the chiefs who already as soon as they
entered upon power, and again when the army at Samos seceded from them
and declared for a democracy, had sent envoys from their own body to
Lacedaemon and made every effort for peace, and had built the wall
in Eetionia- now redoubled their exertions when their envoys returned
from Samos, and they saw not only the people but their own most
trusted associates turning against them. Alarmed at the state of
things at Athens as at Samos, they now sent off in haste Antiphon
and Phrynichus and ten others with injunctions to make peace with
Lacedaemon upon any terms, no matter what, that should be at all
tolerable. Meanwhile they pushed on more actively than ever with the
wall in Eetionia. Now the meaning of this wall, according to
Theramenes and his supporters, was not so much to keep out the army of
Samos, in case of its trying to force its way into Piraeus, as to be
able to let in, at pleasure, the fleet and army of the enemy. For
Eetionia is a mole of Piraeus, close alongside of the entrance of
the harbour, and was now fortified in connection with the wall already
existing on the land side, so that a few men placed in it might be
able to command the entrance; the old wall on the land side and the
new one now being built within on the side of the sea, both ending
in one of the two towers standing at the narrow mouth of the
harbour. They also walled off the largest porch in Piraeus which was
in immediate connection with this wall, and kept it in their own
hands, compelling all to unload there the corn that came into the
harbour, and what they had in stock, and to take it out from thence
when they sold it.
These measures had long provoked the murmurs of Theramenes, and when
the envoys returned from Lacedaemon without having effected any
general pacification, he affirmed that this wall was like to prove the

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