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History of The Peloponnesian War - Book VIII   


ruin of the state. At this moment forty-two ships from Peloponnese,
including some Siceliot and Italiot vessels from Locri and Tarentum,
had been invited over by the Euboeans and were already riding off
Las in Laconia preparing for the voyage to Euboea, under the command
of Agesandridas, son of Agesander, a Spartan. Theramenes now
affirmed that this squadron was destined not so much to aid Euboea
as the party fortifying Eetionia, and that unless precautions were
speedily taken the city would be surprised and lost. This was no
mere calumny, there being really some such plan entertained by the
accused. Their first wish was to have the oligarchy without giving
up the empire; failing this to keep their ships and walls and be
independent; while, if this also were denied them, sooner than be
the first victims of the restored democracy, they were resolved to
call in the enemy and make peace, give up their walls and ships, and
at all costs retain possession of the government, if their lives
were only assured to them.
For this reason they pushed forward the construction of their work
with posterns and entrances and means of introducing the enemy,
being eager to have it finished in time. Meanwhile the murmurs against
them were at first confined to a few persons and went on in secret,
until Phrynichus, after his return from the embassy to Lacedaemon, was
laid wait for and stabbed in full market by one of the Peripoli,
falling down dead before he had gone far from the council chamber. The
assassin escaped; but his accomplice, an Argive, was taken and put
to the torture by the Four Hundred, without their being able to
extract from him the name of his employer, or anything further than
that he knew of many men who used to assemble at the house of the
commander of the Peripoli and at other houses. Here the matter was
allowed to drop. This so emboldened Theramenes and Aristocrates and
the rest of their partisans in the Four Hundred and out of doors, that
they now resolved to act. For by this time the ships had sailed
round from Las, and anchoring at Epidaurus had overrun Aegina; and
Theramenes asserted that, being bound for Euboea, they would never
have sailed in to Aegina and come back to anchor at Epidaurus,
unless they had been invited to come to aid in the designs of which he
had always accused the government. Further inaction had therefore
now become impossible. In the end, after a great many seditious
harangues and suspicions, they set to work in real earnest. The
heavy infantry in Piraeus building the wall in Eetionia, among whom
was Aristocrates, a colonel, with his own tribe, laid hands upon
Alexicles, a general under the oligarchy and the devoted adherent of
the cabal, and took him into a house and confined him there. In this
they were assisted by one Hermon, commander of the Peripoli in
Munychia, and others, and above all had with them the great bulk of
the heavy infantry. As soon as the news reached the Four Hundred,
who happened to be sitting in the council chamber, all except the
disaffected wished at once to go to the posts where the arms were, and
menaced Theramenes and his party. Theramenes defended himself, and
said that he was ready immediately to go and help to rescue Alexicles;
and taking with him one of the generals belonging to his party, went
down to Piraeus, followed by Aristarchus and some young men of the
cavalry. All was now panic and confusion. Those in the city imagined
that Piraeus was already taken and the prisoner put to death, while
those in Piraeus expected every moment to be attacked by the party
in the city. The older men, however, stopped the persons running up
and down the town and making for the stands of arms; and Thucydides
the Pharsalian, proxenus of the city, came forward and threw himself
in the way of the rival factions, and appealed to them not to ruin the
state, while the enemy was still at hand waiting for his
opportunity, and so at length succeeded in quieting them and in
keeping their hands off each other. Meanwhile Theramenes came down
to Piraeus, being himself one of the generals, and raged and stormed
against the heavy infantry, while Aristarchus and the adversaries of
the people were angry in right earnest. Most of the heavy infantry,

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