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Marcus Junianus Justinus
Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus.
translated, with notes, by the Rev. John Selby Watson.
London: Henry G. Bohn, York Street, Convent Garden (1853).

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Book V

Alcibiades banished from Athens; joins the Lacedaemonians, I.—Changes sides, defeats the Lacedaemonians, and returns to Athens, II.-IV.—Defeated by Lysander, and goes into voluntary exile, V.—Lysander defeats Conon, VI.—Athens surrenders to Lysander, who appoints the thirty tyrants; death of Alcibiades, VII. VIII.—Theramenes, one of the tyrants, killed; Thrasybulus overthrows the tyrants; his act of oblivion, IX. X.—Death of Darius; Expedition of Cyrus, and his death; Artaxerxes established on the throne, XI.


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

1 WHILST the Athenians, during two years, were carrying on the war in Sicily, with more eagerness than success, Alcibiades, the promoter and leader of it, was accused at Athens in his absence of having divulged the mysteries of Ceres, which were rendered sacred by nothing more than by their secrecy. Being recalled from the war to take his trial, and being unwilling, either from the consciousness of guilt or from the affront put upon him, to obey, he retired, without offering to defend himself, to Elis. From thence, having learned that he was not only condemned, but devoted to destruction with execrations in the religious ceremonies of all the priests, he betook himself to Lacedaemon, where he urged the king1 of the Lacedaemonians to make war on the Athenians in the midst of their distress at the unfortunate result of the struggle in Sicily. This being done, all the powers of Greece conspired against the Athenians, as if to extinguish a common conflagration; such hatred had they brought upon themselves by their desire of too great power. Darius also, the king of Persia, not forgetting his father’s and grandfather's hostility to that city, concluded an alliance with the Lacedaemonians through Tissaphernes, satrap of Lydia, and promised to defray all the expense of the war. Such at least was his pretext for meddling in the affairs of Greece, but in reality he was afraid that the Lacedaemonians, if they conquered the Athenians, should turn their arms against himself. Who then can wonder that the flourishing state of Athens went to ruin, when the whole strength of the east conspired to overwhelm one city? Yet they did not fall with merely a faint struggle, or without bloodshed, but fighting to the last, and sometimes victorious, being rather worn out by changes of fortune than overcome by force of arms. At the commencement of the war, too, all their allies deserted them, according to common practice; for whatever way fortune leans, in the same direction does the favour of mankind turn.

2 Alcibiades also supported the war raised against his country, not with the services of a common soldier, but with the abilities of a general. Having received a squadron of five ships, he sailed directly to Asia, and, by the authority of his name, prevailed on the cities tributary to the Athenians to revolt from them. They knew his eminence at home; nor did they think his influence weakened by his banishment, but looked on him rather as a leader taken from the Athenians,2 than added to the Lacedaemonians, and balanced the command which he had gained against that which he had lost. But among the Lacedaemonians the abilities of Alcibiades had gained him more envy than favour; and the chief men having formed a plot to kill him, as their rival in glory, Alcibiades, receiving intelligence of their design from the wife of Agis, with whom he had an intrigue, fled to Tissaphernes, the satrap of king Darius, with whom he quickly ingratiated himself by his affability and obligingness of manners. He was then in the flower of youth, and distinguished for personal graces, and not less for oratory, even among the Athenians. But he was better fitted to gain the affections of friends than to keep them; because the vices in his character were thrown into the shade by the splendour of his eloquence. He succeeded in persuading Tissaphernes not to furnish such supplies of money for the Lacedaemonian fleet; “for the Ionians,” he said, “should be called upon to pay their share, since it was for their deliverance, when they were paying tribute to the Lacedaemonians, that the war was undertaken. Neither, however,” he added, “should the Lacedaemonians be too greatly assisted; for he should remember that he was preparing a way for the supremacy of others, not for his own; and that the war was only so far to be supported, that it might not be broken off for want of supplies, as the king of Persia, while the Greeks were distracted by dissensions, would be the arbiter of peace and war, and would vanquish with their own arms those whom he could not overcome with his own; but that, if the war were brought to a conclusion, he would immediately have to fight with the conquerors. That Greece, therefore, ought to be reduced by civil wars, so that it might have no opportunity to engage in foreign ones; that the strength of its two parties should be kept equal, the weaker being constantly supported; since the Spartans, who professed themselves the defenders of the liberty of Greece, would not remain quiet after their present elevation.” Such arguments were very agreeable to Tissaphernes; and he accordingly furnished supplies, to the Spartans but sparingly, and did not send the whole of the king’s fleet to assist them, lest he should gain them a complete victory, or bring the other party under the necessity of abandoning the war.

3 Meanwhile Alcibiades boasted of this service to his countrymen; and when deputies from the Athenians came to him, he promised to secure them the king’s friendship, if the government should be transferred from the hands of the people to those of the senate; in hopes, either that, if the citizens could agree, he should be chosen general unanimously, or that, if dissension arose between the two orders, he should be invited by one of the parties to their assistance. The Athenians, as a dangerous war hung over them, were more solicitous about their safety than their dignity.3 The government, accordingly, was transferred, with the consent of the people, to the senate. But as the nobility, with the pride natural to their order, treated the common people cruelly, and each arrogated to himself the exorbitant power of tyranny, the banished Alcibiades was recalled by the army, and appointed to the command of the fleet. Upon this, he at once sent notice to Athens that, “he would instantly march to the city with his army, and recover the rights of the people from the four hundred,4 unless they restored them of themselves.” The aristocracy, alarmed at this denunciation, at first attempted to betray the city to the Lacedaemonians, but being unable to succeed, went into exile. Alcibiades, having delivered his country from this intestine evil, fitted out his fleet with the utmost care, and proceeded to carry forward the war with the Lacedaemonians.

4 Mindarus and Pharnabazus, the leaders of the Lacedaemonians,5 were already waiting at Sestos with their fleet drawn up. A battle being fought, the victory fell to the Athenians. In this engagement, the greater part of the army and almost all the enemy’s officers, were killed, and eighty ships taken. Some days after, the Lacedaemonians, transferring the war from the sea to the land, were defeated a second time. Weakened by these disasters, they sued for peace, but were prevented from obtaining it by the efforts of those to whom the war brought private advantage. In the meantime, too, a war made upon Sicily by the Carthaginians called home the aid sent by the Syracusans; and the Lacedaemonians, in consequence, being wholly unsupported, Alcibiades ravaged the coast of Asia with his victorious fleet, fought several battles, and being every where victorious, recovered the cities which had revolted, took some others, and added them to the dominion of the Athenians. Having thus reestablished their ancient glory by sea, and united to it reputation in war by land, he returned to Athens to gratify the longing of his countrymen to behold him. In all these battles two hundred ships of the enemy, and a vast quantity of spoils, were taken.

Upon this triumphant return of the army, the whole multitude from Athens poured forth to meet them, and gazed with admiration on all the soldiers, but especially on Alcibiades; on him the whole city turned their eyes with looks of wonder; they regarded him as sent down from heaven, and as victory in person; they extolled what he had done for his country, nor did they less admire what he had done against it in his exile, excusing his conduct as the result of anger and provocation. Such power indeed, strange to say, was there6 in that one man, that he was the cause of a great state being subverted and again re-established; victory removed herself to the side on which he stood; and a wonderful change of fortune always attended him. They therefore heaped upon him not only all human, but divine honours; they made it an object of contention, whether the contumely with which they banished him, or the honour with which they recalled him, should he the greater. They, by whose execrations he had been devoted, carried their gods to meet and congratulate him; and him to whom they had lately refused all human aid, they now desired, if they could, to exalt to heaven; they made amends for indignities with praises, for confiscations with gifts, for imprecations with prayers. The unfortunate battle on the coast of Sicily7 was no longer in their mouths, but their success in Greece;8 the fleets which he had lost were no more mentioned, but those which he had taken; they did not speak of Syracuse, but of Ionia and the Hellespont. Thus Alcibiades was never received with moderate feelings on the part of his countrymen, either when they were offended, or when they were pleased with him.

5 During these occurrences at Athens, Lysander was appointed by the Lacedaemonians to the command of their fleet and army; and Darius, king of Persia, made, in the room of Tissaphernes, his son Cyrus governor of Ionia and Lydia; who, by his assistance and support, inspired the Lacedaemonians with hopes of recovering their former position. Their strength being therefore recruited, the Spartans, when their approach was wholly unexpected, surprised Alcibiades, who had gone with a hundred vessels to Asia, while he was laying waste the country, which was in excellent condition from a long continuance of peace, and while, unapprehensive of any attack, he had allowed his soldiers to disperse themselves under the attractions of plunder; and such was the havoc among the scattered troops, that the Athenians received more injury from that single onslaught, than they had caused the enemy in their previous battles with them. Such, too, was the desperation of the Athenians on the occasion, that they immediately deposed Alcibiades to make room for Conon, thinking that they had been defeated, not by the fortune of war, but by the treachery of their general, on whom their former injuries had had more influence than their recent favours, and that he had conquered in the former part of the war, only to show the enemy what a leader they had despised, and to make his countrymen pay so much the dearer for their previous victory; for his vigour of mind and laxity of morals made everything that was said of Alcibiades credible. Fearing therefore the rage of the people, he went again into voluntary exile.

6 Conon, being put in the place of Alcibiades, and seeing to what sort of commander he had succeeded, fitted out his fleet with the utmost exertion; but troops were wanting to man the vessels, as the stoutest men had been cut off in the plundering of Asia. Old men, however, and boys under age, were furnished with arms, and the number of an army was completed, but without the strength. But soldiers of an age so unfit for war could not long protract the contest; they were everywhere cut to pieces, or taken prisoners as they fled; and so great was the loss in slain and captured, that not merely the power of the Athenians, but even their very name, seemed to be extinct. Their affairs being ruined and rendered desperate in the contest, they were reduced to such want of men, all of military age being lost, that they gave the freedom of the city to foreigners, liberty to slaves, and pardon to condemned malefactors. With an army raised from such a mixture of human beings, they who had lately been lords of Greece could scarcely preserve their liberty. Yet they resolved once more to try their fortune at sea; and such was their spirit, that though they had recently despaired of safety, they now did not despair even of victory. But it was not such a soldiery that could support the Athenian name; it was not such troops with which they had been used to conquer; nor were there the requisite military accomplishments in those whom prisons, not camps, had confined. All were in consequence either taken prisoners or slain; and the general Conon alone surviving the battle, and dreading the resentment of his countrymen, went off with eight ships to Evagoras, king of Cyprus.

7 The general of the Lacedaemonians, after managing his affairs so successfully, grew insolent towards his enemies in their evil fortune. He sent the ships which he had taken, laden with spoil, and decorated as in triumph, to Lacedaemon. He received at the same time voluntary tenders of submission from cities which dread of the doubtful fortune of war had kept in allegiance to the Athenians. Nor did he leave anything in possession of the Athenians but their city itself.

When all this was understood at Athens, the inhabitants, leaving their houses, ran up and down the streets in a frantic manner, asking questions of one another, and inquiring for the author of the news. Neither did incapacity keep the children at home, nor infirmity the old men, nor the weakness of their sex the women: so deeply had the feeling of such calamity affected every age. They met together in the forum, where, through the whole night, they bewailed the public distress. Some wept for their lost brothers, or sons, or parents; some for other relatives; others for friends dearer than relatives; all mingling their lamentations for their country with plaints for their private sufferings; sometimes regarding themselves, sometimes their city, as on the brink of ruin; and deeming the fate of those who survived more unhappy than that of the slain. Each represented to himself a siege, a famine, and an enemy overbearing and flushed with victory; sometimes contemplating in imagination the desolation and burning of the city, and sometimes the captivity and wretched slavery of all its inhabitants; and thinking the former destruction of Athens, which was attended only with9 the ruin of their houses, while their children and parents were safe, much less calamitous than what was now to befal them; since there remained no fleet in which, as before, they might find a refuge, and no army by whose valour they might be saved to erect a finer city.

8 While the city was thus wept over and almost brought to nothing, the enemy carne upon it, pressed the inhabitants with a siege, and distressed them with famine. They knew that little remained of the provisions which they had laid up, and had taken care that no new ones should be imported. The Athenians, exhausted by their sufferings, from long endurance of famine, and daily losses of men, sued for peace; but it was long disputed between the Spartans and their allies whether it should be granted or not. Many gave their opinion that the very name of the Athenians should be blotted out, and the city destroyed by fire; but the Spartans refused “to pluck out one of the two eyes of Greece,” and promised the Athenians peace, on condition “that they should demolish the walls10 extending down to the Piraeus, and deliver up the ships which they had left; and that the state should receive from them thirty governors of their own citizens.” The city being surrendered on these terms, the Lacedaemonians committed it to Lysander to model the government of it. This year was rendered remarkable, not only for the reduction of Athens, but for the death of Darius, king of Persia, and the banishment of Dionysius, tyrant of Sicily.

When the form of government at Athens was changed, the condition of the citizens was likewise altered. Thirty governors of the state were appointed, who became absolute tyrants; for, at the very first, they organized for themselves a guard of three thousand men, though, after so much slaughter. scarcely as many citizens survived; and as if this force was too small to overawe the city, they received also seven hundred men from the victorious army. They then began to put to death the citizens, intending to commence with Alcibiades, lest he should again seize the government under pretence of delivering the city; and hearing that he was gone to Artaxerxes king of Persia, they despatched men in haste to stop him on his way. By these deputies he was beset, and, as he could not be killed openly, was burnt alive in the apartment in which he slept.

9 The tyrants, thus freed from the dread of an avenger, wasted the miserable remains of the city with the sword and spoliation; and finding that their proceedings displeased Theramenes, one of their own body, they put him also to death to strike terror into the rest. In consequence a general dispersion of the citizens took place in all directions, and Greece was filled with Athenian fugitives. But the privilege of flight being also taken from them (for the cities were forbidden, by an edict of the Lacedaemonians, to receive the exiles), they all betook themselves to Argos and Thebes11 where they had not only safe places of refuge, but also conceived hopes of repossessing themselves of their country. There was among the refugees a man named Thrasybulus, a person of great bravery and of noble extraction, who, thinking that something should be attempted, even at the utmost hazard, for their country and the common interest, called together the exiles, and took post at Phyle, a fort on the borders of Attica. Some of the cities, pitying the severity of their misfortunes, afforded them countenance; Ismenias, a leading man among the Thebans, though he could not assist them publicly, yet supported them with his private means; and Lycias, the Syracusan orator,12 at that time an exile, sent five hundred soldiers, equipped at his own charge, to the aid of the common country of eloquence. A desperate battle ensued; but as those on the one side fought with their utmost efforts to regain their country, and those on the other, with less eagerness, in support of the power of others, the tyrants were overcome. After their defeat they fled back into the city, which, already exhausted by their slaughters, they despoiled also of its arms. Suspecting all the Athenians, too, of disaffection towards them, they ordered them to remove out of the city, and to take up their abode among the ruins of the walls which had been demolished; supporting their own authority with foreign soldiers. Next they endeavoured to corrupt Thrasybulus, by promising him a share in the government; but, not succeeding, they sought assistance from Lacedaemon, on the arrival of which they took the field again. In this encounter Critias and Hippolochus, the two most cruel of the tyrants, were killed.

10 The others being defeated, and their army, of which the greater part consisted of Athenians, running away; Thrasybulus called out to them with a loud voice, asking, “Why they should flee from him in the midst of victory; rather than join him as the assertor of their common liberty?” adding, that “they should reflect that his army was composed of their countrymen, not of enemies; that he had not armed himself to take any thing away from the conquered, but to restore them what they had lost; and that he was making war, not on the city, but on the thirty tyrants.” He then reminded them of their ties of relationship, their laws, their common religion, and their long service as fellow soldiers in so many wars. He conjured them, that, “if they themselves could submit patiently to the yoke, they should yet take pity on their exiled countrymen;” he urged them “to restore him to his country, and to accept liberty for themselves.” By these exhortations such an effect was produced, that when the army came back into the city, they ordered the thirty tyrants to retire to Eleusis, appointing ten commissioners to govern in their room; who, however, not at all deterred by the fate of the former tyrants, entered on a similar career of cruelty. During the course of these proceedings, news arrived at Lacedaemon that war had broken out at Athens, and king Pausanias was sent to suppress it, who, touched with compassion for the exiled people, restored the unhappy citizens to their country, and ordered the ten tyrants to leave the city, and go to the rest at Eleusis. Peace was restored by these means; but, after an interval of some days, the tyrants, enraged at the recal of the exiles not less than at their own expulsion (as if liberty to others was slavery to themselves), suddenly resumed hostilities against Athens. As they were proceeding however to a conference,13 apparently with the expectation of recovering their power, they were seized by an ambuscade, and offered as sacrifices to peace. The people, whom they had obliged to leave the city, were recalled; and the state, which had been divided into several members, was at length re-united into one body. And that no dissension might arise in consequence of anything that had gone before, the citizens were all bound by an oath that former discords should be forgotten.

Meanwhile the Thebans and Corinthians sent ambassadors to the Lacedaemonians, to demand a share of the spoil acquired by their common exertions in war, and at their common risk. Their demand being refused, they did not indeed openly resolve on war with the Lacedaemonians, but tacitly conceived such resentment towards them, that it might be seen that war was likely to arise.

11 About the same time died Darius, king of Persia, leaving two sons, Artaxerxes and Cyrus. He bequeathed the kingdom to Artaxerxes, and to Cyrus the cities over which he had been satrap. But Cyrus thought the will of his father an injustice, and secretly made preparations for war with his brother. News of his intentions being brought to Artaxerxes, he sent for him, and, when he pretended innocence, and denied all thoughts of war, he bound him with golden fetters,14 and would have put him to death, had not his mother interposed. Cyrus, in consequence of her intercession, being allowed to depart, began to prepare for war, no longer secretly, but publicly, not with dissimulation, but with an open avowal of it, and assembled auxiliary troops from all quarters. The Lacedaemonians, remembering that they had been vigorously aided by him in the war with Athens, and as if in ignorance against whom hostilities were intended, resolved that “assistance should be sent to Cyrus whenever his necessities should require;” hoping thus to secure favour with Cyrus, and a plea for pardon with Artaxerxes if he should have the advantage, because they had decreed nothing openly against him. But when they came to an encounter, fortune throwing the brothers together in the field, Artaxerxes was first wounded by Cyrus, but being rescued from danger by the speed of his horse, Cyrus was overpowered by the king’s battalion, and slain. Thus Artaxerxes being victorious, got possession both of the spoil from the war with his brother, and of his brother’s army. In this battle there were ten thousand Greeks on the side of Cyrus, who had the superiority in the wing on which they had been posted, and, after the death of Cyrus, could neither be reduced forcibly by the vast army of their adversaries, nor captured by stratagem, but, returning through so many wild and barbarous nations, and over such vast tracts of land, defended themselves by their valour till they gained the borders of their country.

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1 Agis.

2 They did not so much regard him as a leader deprived of his command by the Athenians, as one who had been entrusted with a similar command by the Lacedaemonians. “Although he had lost his appointment with the Athenians, they considered that he was advanced to equal dignity among the Lacedaemonians.”—Berneccerus. “The office of general, which he had lost on the one side, he had recovered on the other.”—Graevius.

3 Major salutis, quam dignitatis, cura fuit.] The Athenians submitted to the condition imposed by the king of Persia, viz., that of transferring the government to the senate, though they might lower their dignity by the submission.

4 These four hundred composed the senate. See Thucyd. viii. 67, 68.

5 Lacedaemoniorum duces.] Not strictly; Mindarus was captain of the Lacedaemonians: Pharnabazus, a Persian satrap.

6 Enimvero tantum in uno viro fuisse momenti, ut, &c.] In such constructions, says Wetzel, we must understand mirandum est, or something similar. See ii. 14: Tantam famae velocitatem fuisse; viii. 2, sub fin. ; xiv. 5, med.

7 See iv. 5, init.

8 In Greece, Euboea; Thrace, and Asia Minor.—Wetzel.

9 Taxatae sint.] Was at the expense of.

10 Muri brachia.] The arms of the wall.

11 These cities had not obeyed the edict of the Lacedaemonians, but had resolved to receive the exiles.

12 Lysias Syracusanus orator.] He was born at Athens, but is called a Syracusan, because he was the son of a native of Syracuse. He had left Athens at the age of fifteen, among tile colonists that went to Thurii in Italy, and did not return to Athens till the age of forty-seven, after the defeat of the Athenians in Sicily.

13 The original stands thus: bellum Atheniensibus inferunt; sed ad colloquium, veluti dominationem recepturi, progressi, &c. Justin seems here to have abridged his author a little too much.

14 That proper respect might be paid to him as one of the royal family. So Darius, when seized by Bessus, was bound with golden chains, as is stated by Q. Curtius, v. 12, and by Justin,
xi. 15.—Berneccerus.


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The English translation of Justin's Epitome was entered by David Camden (2003) from Watson's 1853 edition. This text is in the public domain and may be copied and distributed for private and educational use, provided this original notice is kept intact. Any commercial use of this text, including print-publication and inclusion in subscription-based archives, is prohibited.

The Latin text and French translation, along with the secondary material written in French, are copyright © Marie-Pierre Arnaud-Lindet 2003, and are NOT in the public domain.

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