Page 0580



In the present emergency the first to revolt was the island of Chios. The

insurrection was instigated by Alcibiades, who, now residing at Sparta,

lost no opportunity to inflict on his country some humiliating injury. He

crossed over in person to the island, and aided the insurgents in

overthrowing the party favorable to Athens. The islands of Zeos and

Lesbos and the city of Miletus followed the example of Chios; and the

Ionian cities on the coast of Asia Minor were given up by a treaty with

Tissaphernes to their masters, the Persians. Samos, however, remained

faithful to the Athenians. The oligarchy in that island was suppressed,

and Samos became a kind of stronghold of Athenian influence in the


In the mean time, Athens began to recover from her overthrow. The reserve

of one thousand talents which had lain undisturbed in the Acropolis since

the administration of Pericles, was now voted by the assembly to be used

in the construction of a fleet. When this was completed, an expedition

was fitted out against Chios, and that island was rapidly overrun and

restored to its former relations. A victory was also gained over the

Lacedaemonian squadron at Miletus, but that city still remained under the

control of the Persians. The Spartans soon prepared another armament so

powerful in numbers and equipment that its ability to overcome all

opposition could not be reasonably questioned.

Alcibiades, in the mean time, from his long continued duplicity, had

gained the distrust and aversion of the Spartan government. The Ephors

first denounced him as a traitor and then condemned him to death, but he

escaped the penalty by fleeing to the court of Tissaphernes. He at once

set about to persuade the satrap to adopt a new line of policy with

regard to the Greek states. The wily Greek soon convinced him that the

interest of Persia required that the Grecian commonwealths should be

allowed to wear each other out in mutual conflicts to the end that the

Great King might absorb the fragments into his empire. It was this

influence aided by bribery that prevented the activity of the Spartan

squadron. Persia was thus won over to favor the Athenian cause. The real

purpose of Alcibiades was to get himself restored to his country. He

communicated with the Athenian generals at Samos, and made it appear that

he was able to secure a Persian alliance and would gladly do soon

condition of his own restoration, and the substitution of an oligarchy

for the democratic form of government in Athens. A proposition to this

effect was brought forward in the assembly by Pisander. The democracy was

furious at the proposal; but the necessity of the state was so great that

a vote was procured in favor of the overthrow of the constitution of

Clisthenes. Pisander was then dispatched at the head of an embassy to

treat with Alcibiades and Tissaphernes with respect to the proposed

alliance; but when the ambassadors were received by the satrap,

Alcibiades, speaking on his behalf and knowing his own inability to

perform what he had promised, made such extravagant demands of his

countrymen that they were obliged to break up the conference.

In the mean time oligarchic clubs were multiplied in Athens, and under

their influence the democracy was subjected to a reign of terror.

Assassination became the order of the day, and it was soon evident that

the revolution in the government would be accomplished. Pisander, on his

return from Asia, proposed a committee of ten to draft a new

constitution. The instrument when produced provided first for the

overthrow of the existing magistrates; secondly, for the abolition of all

official salaries; thirdly, for the appointment of a council of Four

Hundred, with whom the principal functions of government should be

lodged; and fourthly, for the limitation of the right of suffrage to a

body of five thousand citizens. The revolution was completed by force.

The old senate was ejected by the Four Hundred, who were installed in the

ancient seats of authority. Then followed proscription and confiscation.

The principal leaders of the democracy were assassinated. The next

movement was to send an embassy to Sparta with overtures for peace; but

Agis, the king, preferred to compel a settlement on his own terms. He

accordingly made an attempt to capture Athens,