The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.


ing heard that the whole remaining force of Am-bracia was advancing in support, he succeeded further in waylaying and almost exterminating it in the battle of Idomene. The Athenians received a third part of the spoils, and the amount may be estimated from the fact, that the share of Demos­thenes, the only portion that reached Athens in safety, was no less than 300 panoplies. (Thuc. iii. 102, 105—114; Diod. xii. 60.)

Demosthenes might now safely venture home: and in the next year he was allowed, at his own request, though not in office, to accompany Eury-medon and Sophocles, the commanders of a squadron destined for Sicily, and empowered to use their services for any object he chose on the Peloponne-sian coast. They, however, would not hear of any delay, and it was only by the chance of stress of weather, which detained the fleet at Pylos, his choice for his new design, that he was enabled to effect his purpose. The men themselves while waiting, took the fancy to build him his fort; and in it he was left with five ships. Here he was assailed by the Lacedaemonians, whom the news had recalled out of Attica, and from Corcyra, and here with great spirit and success he defeated their at­tempt to carry the place on the sea side. The arrival of forty Athenian ships, for which he had sent, and their success in making their way into the harbour,

•reversed his position. The Lacedaemonians, who

-in their siege of the place had occupied the neigh­bouring island, wore now cut off and blockaded, jiiid Sparta now humbled herself to ask for peace. The arrogance of the people blighted this promise; and as the winter approached it became a question whether the whole advantage was not likely to be lost by the escape of the party. Demosthenes, however, was devising an expedient, when joined or rather, in fact, superseded by Cleon [cleon], who nevertheless was shrewd enough not to inter­fere, possibly had even had intimation of it through­out. His Aetolian disaster had taught him the value of light and the weakness of heavy arms. Land­ing at two points with a force of which one-third only were full-armed, by a judicious distribution of his troops, and chiefly by the aid of his archers and targeteers. he effected the achievement, then almost incredible, of forcing the Spartans to lay down their arms. (Thuc. iv. 2—40 ; Diod. xii. 61—63.)

The glory of this success was with the vulgar given to Cleon, yet Demosthenes must have surely had some proportion of it. He was pro­bably henceforth in general esteem, as in the Knights of Aristophanes, coupled at the head of the list of the city's generals with the high-born and influential Nicias. We find him in the follow­ing year (b. c. 424) commanding with Hippocrates in the operation in the Megarid; possessing him­self by a stratagem of the Long Walls uniting Megara to Nisaea, and receiving shortly the submis­sion of Nisaea itself, though baffled by the advance of Brasidas in the main design on Megara. Soon after, he concerted with the same colleague a grand attempt on Boeotia. On a fixed clay Hippocrates was to lead the whole Athenian force into the south-eastern frontier, and occupy Delium, while Demosthenes was to land at Siphae, and by the aid of the democratic party, possess himself of it and of Chaeroneia. Demosthenes with this view took forty ships to Naupactus, and, having raised forces in Acarnania, sailed for Siphae. But either


he or Hippocrates had mistaken the day; hfs arrival was too early, and the Boeotians, who had moreover received information of the plot, were enabled to bring their whole force against Demos­thenes, and yet be in time to meet his colleague at Delium. The whole design was thus overthrown, and Demosthenes was further disgraced by a re­pulse in a descent on the territory of Sicyon. (Thuc. iv. 66—74, 76, 77, 89, 101; Diod. xii. 66—69.)

He does not reappear in history, except among the signatures to the treaties of the tenth year, b. c. 422 (Thuc. v. 19, 24), till the nineteenth, b. c. 413. On the arrival of the despatch from Nicias giving an ac­count of the relief of Syracuse by Gylippus, he was appointed with Eurymedon to the command of the reinforcements, and, while the latter went at once to Sicily, he remained at home making the needful preparations. Early in the spring he set sail with sixty-five ships; and after some delays, how far avoidable we cannot say, at Aegina and Corcyra, on the coasts of Peloponnesus and of Italy, reached Syracuse a little too late to prevent the first naval victory of the besieged. (Time, vii, 16, 17, 20, 26, 81, 33, 85, 42.)

The details of this concluding portion of the Syracusan expedition cannot be given in a life of Demosthenes. His advice, on his arrival, was to make at once the utmost use of their own present strength and their enemies' consternation, and then at once, if they failed, to return. No imme­diate conclusion of the siege could be expected without the recovery of the high ground command­ing the city, Epipolae. After some unsuccessful attempts by day, Demosthenes devised and put into effect a plan for an attack, with the whole forces, by night. It was at first signally success­ful, but the tide was turned by the resistance of a body of Boeotians, and the victory changed to a disastrous defeat. Demosthenes now counselled an immediate departure, either to Athens, or, if Nicias, whose professions of greater acquaintance, with the internal state of the besieged greatly in­fluenced his brother generals, really had grounds for hope, at any rate from their present unhealthy position to the safe and wholesome situation of Thapsus. Demosthenes reasoned in vain : then ensued the fatal delay, the return of Gylippus wkh fresh reinforcements, the late consent of Nicias to depart, and the infatuated recal of it on the eclipse of the moon, the' first defeat and the second of the all-important ships. In the latter engage­ment Demosthenes had the chief command, and retained even in the hour of disaster sufficient coolness to see that the only course remaining was at once to make a fresh attempt to break through the blockading ships and force their way to sea. And he had now the voice of Nicias with him : the army itself in desperation refused. In the subsequent retreat by the land, Demos­thenes for some time is described simply as co­operating 4\vith Nicias, though with the separate command of the second and rearward division. This, on the sixth day, through its greater expo­sure to the enemy, was unable to keep up with the other; and Demosthenes, as in his position was natural, looked more to defence against the enemy, while Nicias thought only of speedy re­treat. The consequence was that, having fallen about five miles and a half behind, he was sur­rounded and driven into a plot of ground planted.

About | First



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of