Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Critias, Leader of the Thirty

Finally, there was Critias, leader of the Thirty.  How I wish Plutarch had written his biography!  He might fairly be compared to Sulla.  Both overthrew a democracy and launched a bloody killing of their rivals and potential rivals. In neither case did the government they established last for long. While Sulla appears to have wanted a narrow and tight oligarchy but actually established a dictatorship which he seems to have intended only as a short-term necessity to achieve his goal, Critias established an extremely narrow, extremely tight oligarchy but would almost certainly have preferred a dictatorship if he could have gotten away with it.

Perhaps Plutarch declined to write a biography of Critias because he did not want to write about a straight-up villain.  Yet he included both Sulla and Lysander, who certainly rated as villains in most people's eye.  Maybe he thought that their military achievements made Sulla and Lysander somewhat more than simple villains.  But Critias, too, had his own achievements that mark him as more than a simple villain, although those achievements were more intellectual than military.  My main source on him is the International Encyclopedia of Philosophy,  which calls him a "philosopher, rhetorician, poet, historian, and political leader" and seeks to piece together his views from the few surviving fragments of his work, linked here, and from what other ancient sources have said about him.  I have accessed at least a few of those sources by Perseus and Google.

Critias came from one of Athens' most distinguished families, a descendent of Solon's brother and  of cousin of Plato.*  His father's name was Callaeschrus.  He was a pupil of Socrates, indeed, when Socrates was accused of "corrupting the youth of Athens," it was almost certainly Critias who was at the top of their list,** although Critias would appear to have been only about ten years younger than Socrates.

Critias appears as a character in several of Plato's dialogues.  In Protagoras he speaks only   briefly, urging the principles to continue their discussion and the listeners not to take sides.  He does not appear in the Republic, but in Timaeus, he announces that he was present during the Republic and that the ideal society Plato outlines bears a remarkable resemblance to one that his great-grandfather Dropides told him the Egyptians described to Solon as the most ancient form of government in Athens.  The dialogue then goes on to feature Timaeus giving an account of the creation of the world, with a promise to get back to Critias and his ideal society in the next dialogue.  Indeed, the next dialogue, aptly named Critias, is supposed to be Critias' account of this society, but most of it is lost; it breaks off in the middle of his account of the wealth and splendor of the lost society of Atlantis and does not get to either Athens or any purported social order.  (It should go without saying that this is pure fiction, intended solely to give Plato's imaginary ideal society in the Republic some real-world credibility).

Finally, there is the Charmides, named for Critias' cousin Charmides, who would later serve under the Thirty as one of the Ten in charge of the port.  This dialogue is probably the one that features Critias the most.  We meet Charmides, a youth of such stunning beauty that all present, even Socrates, are stricken with lust for him, and when Socrates catches a glimpse beneath his garments, he nearly loses his self-control.  Everyone assures Socrates that Charmides is as temperate as he is beautiful, so Socrates re-asserts his self-control by beginning a philosophical dialogue on the nature of temperance.  He quickly demolishes the young and inexperienced Charmides' definitions (specifically, that temperance is minding one's own business, an idea he got from Critias).  The more sophisticated Critias therefore steps up and gives Socrates quite a run for his his money. They soon wander off into a discussion of whether there can be knowledge of knowledge itself, and I can only say that the ensuing dialogue may be fascinating to professional philosophers, but to an Enlightened Layperson like me, it is mostly incomprehensible.  Presumably, though, it can be taken to mean that Plato had great regard for Critias as a philosopher and saw him as one of the few who could actually go toe-to-toe with the master and not be completely demolished.

As for his intellectual achievements, the Encyclopedia comments that few other classical Greek writers present such a breadth of literary output.  He wrote poetry, plays, homilies and aphorisms, speeches, and accounts of various city-states in poetry and prose.  The article believes that he was too much of a generalist to be much of an original thinker, but that he made a significant contribution to philosophy in being the first to clearly articulate a distinction between perception by the senses and understanding by the mind.  It speculates that he may have been the first to write philosophical dialogues (a form many of Socrates' pupils did) and that he may have been the first to write a politeia  (combined history, civics and anthropology) of individuals cities.  Certainly he wrote politeias of Sparta, Athens, Thessaly, and probably others.  He was highly admiring of Sparta, although the few  fragments of his work that remain address mostly drinking customs and drinking cups.  As for Athens, he was presumably critical of the democracy.  At least one Athenian politeia that his critical of the democracy survives.  Once attributed to Xenophon, it gives signs of having been written at a time when Xenophon was a mere child.*** One possibility is that it was by Critias.  If so, it may be his sole surviving work.  He also wrote poetry and plays and speeches.  His speeches are described  as not high-flown or ornate, but but concise, vigorous, and appropriate to the occasion.  (The speeches Xenophon attributes to Critias are said to mirror his style well).

It his his moral and social philosophy that are disturbing.  These main surviving example of these are the fragment of his play, Sisyphus.  It dismisses gods as a mere invention to make people believe that their most secret deeds will still be observed.  Of course, since this is a quote from a play, and one about a legendarily impious man, it is fair to ask whether the playwright endorses this view.  The Encyclopedia believes that it is supported by his other fragments, as well as by the conduct in his life. It concludes from this that he believed a wise and learned man could rise above law, religion and morality.

As for Critias' life before joining the Thirty, aside from his intellectual attainments, our knowledge is sparse.  Thucydides never so much as mentions him, nor does Xenophon before his entry as one of the Thirty, which presumably means he never had a military command of any importance.  A Critias is mentioned as a cousin of Andocides, and as being wrongfully arrested in connection with the mutilation of the herms, but released on Andocides' testimony.  All modern historians I have read assume that this was the Critias.  If so, the episode must have strengthened his disdain for the democracy.

His actions during the oligarchy of the 400 are unknown.  A Callaeschrus is tantalizingly named among the 400 and may have been Critias' father, but we have no further information on the subject. But there are two strong clues that he was not among the 400.  First, once they were overthrown it was Critias who made to motion to recall Alcibiades (and commemorated it in a poem).  The fact that he was still in Athens after the 400 were overthrown shows that he was not one of the hard line faction.  Second, the Thirty later passed a law denying citizenship to anyone who acted against the 400 or demolished their fort.  This excluded Theramenes but presumably not Critias and would be incompatible with his belonging to the moderate faction.  Under the restored democracy he posthumously prosecuted Phrynicus, one of the leaders of the 400, for treason.  (Usual caveat about no way to be sure this was the Critias).

Some time between the overthrow of the 400 (411 BC) and the trial of the generals (406 BC), Critias fled to Thessaly under unknown circumstances, probably related to the disgrace of Alcibiades. There, Xenophon says, he "got among men who put lawlessness before justice," and there that he went wrong.  Thermanes added the detail that he spent his time there "establishing a democracy in Thessaly along with Prometheus, and arming the serfs against their masters."  Under the oligarchy of the Thirty, this was a serious accusation.  No details are known.

This then, is what we know or can conjecture about Critias before his return.  I will conclude with a quote from the Cartoon History of the Universe (page 340) in which Socrates tells Critias, "The ideal state, Critias, my boy, is run by philosophers and defended by brainwashed boys trained only to obey."  There is no evidence whatever that Socrates held this view, but it is  not too unfair a caricature of Plato's Republic.  So, when Critias, whose intellectual attainments we have seen, returned backed by a Spartan garrison, the author has Socrates say, "This could be it!" After all, in Critias they appeared to have their philosopher king, and in the Spartan garrison they definitely had their brainwashed boys trained only to obey.

Next we will see how that turned out.

*This information appears to be from Plato who does, indeed, identify Critias as the great-grandson  of  Dropides, a "relative" (not necessarily brother) of Solon, but most people suspect that either he was skipping generations, or that the Critias in question was the Critias' grandfather.
**Alcibiades was a close second.
***It strongly links democracy to naval power and discussed the immense advantage a naval power has in mobility, since a prolonged overland march is impractical.  This dates it to some time before 424, when Brasidas successfully undertook just such a march.  Xenophon is estimated to have been about five years old at the time.

The Thirty Tyrants

Athens' government was then turned over to thirty men.  Many, though not all, had taken part in the coup by the Four Hundred, fled into exile, and been returned as a result of the peace.  Xenophon gives a full list of their names:
Polychares, Critias, Melobius, Hippolochus, Eucleides, Hieron, Mnesilochus, Chremon, Theramenes, Aresias, Diocles, Phaedrias, Chaereleos, Anaetius, Peison, Sophocles, Eratosthenes, Charicles, Onomacles, Theognis, Aeschines, Theogenes, Cleomedes, Erasistratus, Pheidon, Dracontides, Eumathes, Aristoteles, Hippomachus, Mnesitheides.
 One serious classical scholar has apparently written a book on them.  I was not able to access his book.  Doing what research I could as a mere Enlightened Layperson, using the Perseus Digital Library, and accepting guidance from Grote, Kagan, Wikipedia, and Google, I came up with a complete blank for about half of them.  For others, I came up with only the barest minimum of information, discussing their actions under the Thirty, such as Mnesitheides took part in the arrest of Lysias and inspected his shield factory.  Still, a little background information can be gleaned about a few of the Thirty, and at least some conjecture is possible about others.

Clearly at the time they took power, Theramenes would have been the most eminent and the best known to his countrymen.  Theramenes had a distinguished father, Hagnon, founder of the colony of Amphipolis.  Thucydides calls him "a good speaker."  Indeed, he as been described as a distinguished orator and teacher of the later orator Isocrates.  He was one of the Four Hundred who overthrew the democracy, as was his father. His role in overthrowing the oligarchy and restoring the democracy, winning important naval victories, and negotiating the peace with Sparta have already been discussed.  Athenians would probably have assumed that he was the leader of the Thirty.

While most of the Thirty were returning exiles from the hardcore wing of the 400, Theramenes was not the only exception.  Chremon was serving in the Council before Athens surrendered and  arranged to have Cleophon tried by the Council instead of by a jury in the interests of removing an obstacle to peace* and arranging the arrest of Strombichides as another obstacle.  Chremon went on to serve in the Thirty while his colleague in these actions, Satyrus, who Lysias incorrectly names as another of the Thirty, was leader of the Eleven, i.e., the executions of the Thirty.  Xenophon describes him as the "most audacious and shameless" of the executioners.

Aristotle and Lysias both confirm that it was Dracontides who prepared the resolution to the Assembly instituting the Thirty.  Neither says whether he had been in exile before, but it seems unlikely that they would have given a role like this, intended for keeping up appearances, to a newly returned exile.

Once an ardent democrat, Charicles ranked with Peisander as the worst witch hunters when the herms were mutilated, insisting that it was not the work of a small criminal clique, but an attempt to overthrow the democracy.  The two of them were in large part responsible for scope of moral panic that followed and no doubt alienated many from the democracy.  Tantalizingly, Thucydides speaks of a general/admiral by that name soon after Alcibiades defected who was sent to Argos to recruit fighters and who established a base in Laconia and then sailed home, leaving it in the hands of the Argives.  (The base was abandoned as unaffordable after the Syracusan disaster).  Was this the same Charicles?  Given that most leading politicians of the time were also military commanders, it seems most likely.  I found nothing on his role in the Four Hundred or whether he was exiled.

Thucydides mentions a general/admiral by this name.  He was in the force that besieged Miletus, but later withdrew to Samos.  He is last seen sailing against Chios.  We hear nothing further of his career, or whether he took part in the coup.  Certainly the commanders at Samos in general joined the conspiracy, but we do not know if Onomocles was still one of them.  In short, it seems likely but by no means certain that he was among the commanders who staged the 411 BC coup and went into exile afterward.

This was not the tragic playwright, of course, who died shortly before the war ended.  Thucydides mentions a general named Sophocles who served circa 426-424 BC.**  This Sophocles was ordered to Sicily (in 426-425 BC, ten years before the major and disastrous invasion) but was delayed by storm and instead took part in the brilliant capture of Pylos. Sent to Sicily again the next year, he stopped at Corcyra just as the oligarchic faction was defeated and agreed to be taken to Athens. However, they were caught trying to escape, so Sophocles handed them over to the democrats to be slaughtered.  Thucydides blames him for encouraging the democrats by making clear that he did not want to be bothered with transporting the prisoners.  He was sent to Sicily to intervene in a war there.  Wanting to avoid such intervention, the parties ended the war, so there were no grounds for intervention.  Sophocles was put on trial for being bought off and exiled (424 BC).  This could be the Sophocles who was one of the Thirty.  Certainly his exile would not have made him fond of the democracy, and his brutal dealings with the oligarchs on Corcyra would not preclude him later being equally brutal with democrats.  But I am inclined to think that the Sophocles of the Thirty was a different Sophocles simply because this one had been out of action for twenty years by the time the Thirty took over.

A Charmides, son of Aristotles was falsely accused of vandalizing the herms.***  Charmides appears to be the one who convinced Andocides to come clean about what he knew.  We have no way of knowing whether this Aristotles was the father of that same Charmides although, if so, his son's unjust arrest cannot have endeared the democracy to him.  We do know that he was one of the  hard line faction of the 400, who was prepared to build a fort to be turned over to the Spartans in order to preserve their power, and who Theramenes thwarted.  As such, he would necessarily have gone into exile when the 400 were overthrown. Indeed, he was with Lysander when Theramenes attempted to negotiate with him.  It was Aristotles Lysander sent to report on the negotiations to the Ephors.

He was a ship captain in the Hellespont at the time the 400 staged their coup.  Upon learning of the coup he deserted (presumably after he failed to win his crew over to it).  He had been in exile ever since.

Critias, it would soon become apparent, was the real leader of the Thirty.  Our information about him before that is limited, but he was important enough to deserve an entire post of his own.


Aristotle says that when the 400 seized power in 411 B.C., a Melobius was the main speaker on behalf of the resolution that allowed the 400 to draw up their constitution.  Nothing further is known about his role under the 400.  It seems most likely that he was of the hard line faction that went into exile, and most likely that this is the same Melobius who was one of the Thirty.  But it is not certain. When Lysias was arrested, Melobius took part in the inspection of his shield factory.  He even stole the earrings out of the ears of Lysias' brother's wife.

MnesilochusA Mnesilochus served as archon under the 400.  Once again, it seems most likely, though by no means certain, that Mnesilochus the archon went into exile when the 400 were overthrown and was one of the Thirty.

*It is clear from this speech that Cleophon was a highly controversial figure, even among democrats.
**Sophocles son of Sostratides, and thus not the same as the tragic playwright, who was Sophocles son of Sophilus.
***Not the same Charmides who appears in Plato and held office under the Thirty.  That was Charmides son of Glaucon.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Athens: Government Turned Over to the Thirty

What does one call a government which concentrates all power in the hands of thirty men?  It is too small to be an oligarchy, even an extremely narrow and tight one.  But it is too large to be a junta by any reasonable definition.  The juntas that Lysander installed elsewhere consisted of ten men and were called decarchies (governments of ten).  The government he installed in Athens appears to have been essentially the same, except with thirty men instead of ten.  What is Greek for thirty?  According to this link (on modern Greek), the answer is trianda.  So for the lack of a better term, I will refer to the government as a triandarchy (government of thirty).  The ancients called them the Thirty Tyrants, or just the Thirty.  I will probably use those terms, too.

Athenian democracy did not survive defeat for long.  The coup and government of thirty that followed are extremely well documented, perhaps better documented than any other event in Ancient Athens.  As such they require parsing of different and sometimes contradictory sources.  Classical historians emphasize the government as a Spartan imposition, while Athenian speech writers, prosecuting or defending fellow countrymen, emphasize the domestic intrigue that took place.

After Athens surrendered, Lysander sailed into port, the Long Walls were demolished, and the  warships burned, as the Peloponnesians crowned themselves in victor's garlands and female entertainers celebrated with the flute.  He probably then departed for Samos to continue the siege, although some sources seem to imply a single stay.  Either way, the terms of the peace created an intentional ambiguity.  Athens was guaranteed its ancestral government, a term deliberately vague enough that oligarchs and democrats alike could lay claim to it.

The exiles returnedeager for oligarchy and perhaps conspiring in the political "clubs" described   earlier.  Five men, calling themselves the Ephors after the chief executives in Sparta, apparently  directed the conspiracy.  The existence of these "ephors" is attested by witnesses, what they did is less clear.  Aristotle seems to acknowledge some sort of conspiracy, though he denies that Theramenes had any part in it.  

In any event, a meeting of the Assembly was called and Lysander was present under uncertain circumstances.  Xenophon appears to date it before the Sparta forces were withdrawn.  Diodorus and the speechwriter Lysias* say the oligarchs invited him.  Plutarch treats it as a threat when the Athenians delayed in demolishing the walls and the new government was imposed as punishment.  Aristotle merely says that he sided with the oligarchs.

What happened at the meeting is also in uncertain.  Xenonphon simply says that the Assembly  decided to choose thirty men to re-write the laws. He then says that Lysander sailed away to Samos and the king marched the ground forces away, so although he does not directly mention any coercion, coercion can clearly be inferred.  The others are less coy.  Aristotle says that when Lysander backed the oligarchs, the Assembly was intimidated and approved a decree for oligarchy introduced by Dracontides.  Plutarch makes the change part of Lysander's general intimidation and identifies him as responsible for establishing the Thirty and installing a garrison, commanded by the Spartan Callibius.

Diodorus and Lysias give the most detailed accounts.  According to Diodorus, it was Lysander who called the Assembly and "advised" the Athenians to choose thirty men to govern. Theramenes spoke out against him, saying that the Athenians were guaranteed their ancestral government.  Lysander answered that the Athenians had broken the terms of the peace by delaying in demolishing the walls, and threatened Theramenes' life if he did not comply.  Theramenes and the people then yielded, but the people elected Theramenes as one of the Thirty in hopes that he could restrain them.

Lysias' story is different altogether.  He blames Theramenes for not sending for Lysander and keeping the Assembly from meeting until he was present.  The Spartan commanders  then called the Assembly to vote on the change in government, and no one dared oppose them. While it was Drancontides who drew up the new system of government, Theramenes was the one who proposed it to the Assembly.  The Assembly raised an uproar, but Theramenes urged them to accept it, saying that many Athenians supported the new system.  Lysander told the Athenians that they were in breach of the truce, that accepting the new system was the end of their freedom, but refusing it was the end of their lives.  Then no one dared vote no.  Some left and some refrained from voting, but all who voted, voted for the new government.  The Assembly then elected ten men chosen by Theramenes, ten chosen by the ephors, and ten from among those present.

So who are we to believe?  Well, four out of five say that the decision was made under duress, while Xenophon mentions no coercion, but we do not have to read very far between the lines to detect it.  It seems safe to assume that the decision was coerced.  Plutarch, Diodorus, and Lysias all say that Lysander accused the Athenians of breaking the truce by not tearing down the walls in time and threatened them with worse if they did not change their government.  That, too, seems a safe assumption, especially since Aristotle is so sparse as not to give any details at all.

Xenophon appears to indicate that the change in government took place immediately after the surrender.  Plutarch is hopeless jumbled in his chronology here, but his saying that Lysander "sent word to the people" that their time to demolish the walls had expired also seems to imply that he sailed and then returned. Diodorus and Lysias both say that Lysander had gone, the conspiracy had time to ripen, and that he then returned.  Aristotle, again, is hopelessly sparse.  Going with the general rule that the most detailed account is probably most accurate, I would once again lean in favor of saying that he sailed and returned.

Finally, and this will come up a lot, Theramenes' role in the Thirty is extremely controversial.  Lysias' description of him is an obvious hatchet job, designed at least in part to counter some people's  favorable assessment of the man.  Diodorus' account, by contrast, reeks of white wash and is simply not credible in light of Theramenes' previous role in the coup by the 400.  Aristotle does not have such an obvious stench, but he does try to pass Theramenes off as just another conservative politician, no different than Nicias and preferable to demagogues like Cleon and Cleophon, although he does admit that Theramenes was controversial. He does not lavish praise on Theramenes the way Diodorus does, but he misrepresents events under the Thirty to make Theramenes look good, even eliding over the fact that Theramenes was one of the Thirty at all.  Xenophon's account of Theramenes during the trial of the generals is deeply hostile and not plausible.  However, his account of Theramenes' conduct under the Thirty seems reasonably fair and balanced, is the most detailed of any source, and is presumably based on Xenophon's own experience, being in Athens at the time.  I am therefore inclined to go with Xenophon's account of Theramenes under the Thirty more than any other.

However, I am inclined to trust Lysias on this one.  Obviously Lysias would not be privy to the details of the conspiracy, and anything he said about Theramenes' role in it would be pure guess-work.  The meeting of the Assembly is a different matter.  As a non-citizen, he would not have been present, but he presumably heard about it from citizens, and speaking to a jury of citizens, many of whom were no doubt present or had heard accounts from people who were present, he could hardly have misrepresented such public events too egregiously.  His naming of Dracontides as the one who proposed the new system is confirmed by Aristotle. And it seems far more likely that the Thirty had been chosen in advance and the vote for them was a mere facade than, as Diodorus claims, that the people chose Theramenes to be one of the Thirty because they saw him as their champion.

I will concede Diodorus one point here.  The Athenians may have looked to Theramenes for leadership at this time.  It is hard to say.  On the one hand, he took part in the earlier overthrow of the democracy.  On the other hand, he also took part in the restoration and won important battles afterward.  The Athenians' continued ambivalence is revealed in the final year of the war.  After executing six generals and seeing two flee into exile, the Athenians elected Theramenes, then rejected him on examination as politically unreliable.  Certainly he would not have been anybody's first choice.  But with the 406 B.C. batch of generals except Conon executed, with the 405 B.C. batch of general except Conon killed after their defeat, with Conon choosing exile, after the execution of Cleophon and the arrest of Strombichides and Dionysodorus, Athens was seriously short on leadership.  Theramenes had, after all, negotiated the peace -- a peace hardcore nationalists like Cleophon, Strombichides, or Dionysodorus might reject as disgraceful, but one most Athenians must have seen as the only alternative to starvation.  And with the fearsome Lysander threatening worse consequences yet again if the government were not changed and Theramenes saying that there truly was no alternative, maybe most Athenians were prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Next: Critias and the Thirty.

*Lysias was a metic (resident alien), and as such would not have been present at the Assembly, but he might have learned about what happened from citizens who were present.  He was a professional speech writer who wrote many speeches for others to deliver to the Assembly and the jury courts.  Many (though by no means all) of these speeches dealt with events under the Thirty.  As a ghost writer, he is not necessarily expressing his own opinions.  However, the speech these events are drawn from is one that he delivered himself, in prosecuting one of the Thirty for the murder of his brother.  As such, we can fairly assume it expresses his own opinions.

Athens: History Starts to Rhyme

Remember our old friend Isagoras?  No?  Quick reminder, then.  The Spartans had driven out the tyrants, followed by a standoff between the democratic Athenians led by Cleisthenes and the oligarchs led by Isagoras.  Isagoras easily won the support of the Spartan king, Cleomenes, who was having an affair with his wife.  (Herodotus doesn't exactly say that Isagoras pimped his wife to Cleomenes as a bribe, but it is easy to infer).  Cleomenes set up shop with a Spartan garrison.  Isagoras persuaded him to expel Cleisthenes and 700 political rivals, along with their families.  But when Isagoras dissolved the Council and attempted to replace it with 300 cronies, even the oligarchs turned against him.  A general uprising ensued, and the outnumbered Spartans were soon expelled, along with Isagoras.  His followers were massacred.

What about the overthrow of democracy in Argos?  No?  Quick reminder.  The Argives were defeated by Sparta and made peace on what seemed like very reasonable terms. But the terms soon turned out to be a facade, and the Spartans aligned with the elite Argive military forces to establish an oligarchy.  It proved short-lived.

Now, remember the old saying that history doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme?  Well, get ready for some heavy-duty rhyming.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Political and Diplomatic Maneuvering Around Athens' Final Defeat

Athens was still a democracy at the time of its surrender (and shortly after), but confidence in its government had been weakened.  In particular, many aristocrats (the cavalry)* had become disillusioned.  The Athenian aristocracy, like aristocracies everywhere, flattered itself on its moral superiority.  They called themselves "the best citizens," "the good and the true," and so forth, and meant this both in moral terms and in terms of pedigree and wealth.  In fact, they probably conflated those things so far as not to distinguish at all.  And well we can imagine that younger men in particular were disillusioned.  After all, they were not old enough to have seen the democracy's greatest accomplishments -- its victory over the Persians, its liberation of the Asian Greeks, its formation of the Delian League as a mutual defense pact with no imperialist designs.  Even the height of Athens' prosperity before the Peloponnesian War, or its seeming invincibility at sea during the early days of the war would have been, at best, vague childhood memories.  What they would have seen was the democracy committing frightful atrocities at Melos and Scione, the democracy lured into mad imperialist schemes in Sicily, ending in disaster, the democracy descending into moral panic over the mutilated herms and arresting its leading citizens with no end in sight, the democracy turning the tide of the war, only to refuse peace offers that could put an end to it, the democracy executing generals who had won a miraculous victory without any meaningful trial, and finally the democracy utterly defeated.  Many of them must have looked at the mess the democracy had made and concluded that an oligarchy, made up of men like themselves, would do better.  If the uninspiring performance of the Four Hundred was not an encouraging example, well, they had an unfinished war on their hands, which the new oligarchy would not.  Definite oligarchic sympathies were particularly  strong in the Council.

At the same time, there were hardcore populists who could not bring themselves to admit certain cold, hard truths.  That the war was lost no one disputed, although many blamed defeat on betrayal,  for which there is no evidence.  And although the empire was clearly irretrievable, many Athenians vainly hoped to escape any further consequences of defeat and looked with grave suspicion on political maneuvers surrounding the negotiation of terms and later blamed some sort of betrayal there for their later misfortunes.  The professional historians give little attention to the political maneuvering that attended Athens' final surrender, seeing it as insignificant to the outcome, given that their navy was destroyed and the city was under blockade and starving.  In this they are no doubt right, but these maneuverings may have been signs of a nascent plot to establish an oligarchy if the city survived (a matter decidedly in doubt).  They are documented by later speeches eager to find someone to blame and therefore not altogether reliable.  But the speeches do give insight into what was happening in Athens during those desperate days.

At some point the Spartans apparently proposed a peace if Athens would demolish the Long Walls connecting the city to its port for the length of ten stadia (about a mile).  Archestratus proposed to the Council that they accept and was thrown in prison for it, and such proposals forbidden. The leading instigator in the Assembly against acceptance (and presumably for forbidding and further discussion and imprisoning anyone who suggested it) was our old friend Cleophon, who had previous made himself notable by rejecting peace after Athens first major victory (and possibly the second as well). At this point Theramenes asked to be appointed ambassador, possibly offering to secure better terms.  Theramenes remained absent up to three months while conditions in Athens deteriorated, leading many to suspect that he was doing it on purpose to build pressure against Athens, or perhaps conspiring against the democracy.  While they waited, the Council decided that Cleophon was an obstacle to peace and arranged to have him tried on dubious charges of deserting his post.  But the  Council feared a jury would not convict and so Council members Satyrus and Chremon arranged to have him tried by the Council, convicted and executed.

While Theramenes was attempting to negotiate peace with Lysander, the government in Sparta called a meeting of the Peloponnesian League.  The mood was ugly.  Thebes, Corinth, and various smaller cities opposed any peace and favored destroying Athens altogether.  Plutarch adds that the Thebans wanted to sell the entire population as slaves and turn the city into a pasture.**  The Spartans,  however, refused to destroy their faithful ally in the Persian war and instead settled for destruction of the Long Walls and all but twelve ships, return of the exiles (presumably, exiled for their part in the coup by the 400), and subordination in all matters of foreign policy.***  Lysander was besieging Samos during the negotiations.  According to Xenophon, he played no role in determining the terms of peace, other than to send a messenger to the Ephors saying that he deferred to their authority.  This seems a bit out of character for a man of such overweening ambition, one who presumably carried strong influence because of his role in delivering victory, and who was not normally given to letting a little thing like constitutional nicety stand in his way.  Two Roman era sources say that he did, indeed, use his influence in determining the outcome, though in opposite ways.  Pausanias (geographer) says Lysander, together with the King Agis, without seeking the approval of the Assembly, Council or Ephors, were responsible for putting forth the proposal to destroy Athens root and branch.  By contrast Polyaenus (military historian) says that Lysander persuaded the Spartans to spare Athens by arguing that it would be useful as a buffer against the growing power of Thebes, especially if he installed a friendly government.****

Kagan (pp. 402-408) proposes that Theramenes spent the time persuading Lysander that it was to his advantage to spare Athens, and that Lysander was ultimately persuaded and sent a message to that effect to the Spartan government and persuaded them as well.  This is, of course, pure guesswork, so make of it what you will.  Clearly, though, if the guess is true, then because Lysander specifically made the argument to spare Athens if a friendly government were installed, so regime change would appear to be part of the deal.  In that sense, Theramenes could truly be said to have spent his time with Lysander plotting against the democracy.  If Theramenes did cut such a deal, presumably he would have seen himself as a Petain, agreeing to join a collaberationist government only to save his country from a worse fate. Given the alternatives, this is a reasonable assessment.  Then again, Theramenes was clearly among the (not so young) Athenian aristocrats who had long since become disenchanted with the democracy. He had been one of the Four Hundred who had overthrown the democracy before, although he was unwilling to commit treason to uphold the oligarchy.  He had played a major role in restoring the democracy and had given it valuable service.  But democracy had not been his first choice seven years earlier, and presumably he was even less favorably disposed to it now.

When Theramenes returned, he was greeted by large crowds, desperate for any terms.  Xenophon only says that when Theramenes reported the terms to the Assembly, some spoke in opposition, but most agreed to the necessity.

Later speeches cast important light on the "some" who opposed the peace terms, and how their opposition was overcome.  These were "generals and commanders," including Strombichides, a general identified in Thucydides as having responded to the revolt at Chios and been the first to arrive in the Hellespont when the Peloponnesians began stirring up trouble there.  Off in the Hellespont, he does not appear to have had any role in the coup by the 400 or the democratic revolt against it.  The other general named is Dionysodurus.  A Dionysodorus is named in Xenophon and Plato, specifically as a teaching military skills, but both also make clear that this Dionysodorus is a foreign visitor, while the one who spoke against the peace had to have been a citizen. Whoever this Dionysodorus may have been, he and Strombichides denounced the terms as worse than what had been proposed before.

Apparently the peace party saw these men as sufficiently dangerous to peace that, like Cleophon, they would have to be removed.  They persuaded an informant named Theocritus to appear before the Council and say he had discovered a plot against the peace, though without giving names.  He apparently did identify a slave named Agoratus as privy to the plot, so a decree was issued calling for his arrest.  The theory was presumably that, as a slave, Agoratus could be compelled to give names under torture.  The councillors set out to arrest him, but several citizens offered themselves as sureties in his place.  All then fled to sanctuary.  They proposed to flee, but Agoratus, although a slave threatened with torture, refused.  When the councillors reached the sanctuary, Agoratus left with them and went to the Council chamber where he denounced his sureties, generals Strombichides and Dionysodorus, and unidentified others.  He then denounced them before the Assembly as well. (Presumably the Assembly that approved the terms of surrender, to prevent the generals for speaking out against the terms).  The Assembly apparently approved their trial before a jury.  The men were arrested just as Athens' surrender took place.

The incident is genuine.  The speech presents the decree ordering Agoratus' arrestand the decree of the Assembly referring the men to trial.  But it is understandable that Xenophon omits it.  Certainly it did not have any actual effect on the outcome; Athens was helpless and had little choice but to accede to any terms offered.  But after the misfortunes that followed the surrender, it was easy for Athenians to cherish the illusion that if only they had held out a little longer or had a tougher negotiator, they might have gotten more favorable terms.

Those misfortunes will be addressed over the coming series of posts.

*Although all eligible participants had equal rights in most matters, they were divided into four classes based on wealth for tax and military purposes.  The poorest men served in the navy (no gear required), the middle class in the infantry (they could afford a suit of armor), and the rich in the cavalry (they could afford a horse).  The role of the super-rich is a little unclear.  Probably they outfitted and commanded ships.  I stress the young as the main supporters of the Thirty partly because the regime's extreme violence sounds like a government of young men and partly because the young would have seen less of the democracy's achievements and more of its failures.  Still, the regime must have had older supporters as well.  It continued to set an age limit of 30 to serve in the Council.
**He appears to set this council after Athens had surrendered, when they failed to destroy the walls fast enough.
***Plutarch tells a charming but implausible story that the Peloponnesians relented when they heard a chorus by Euripides and could not bring themselves to destroy such a city.
****This account is inconsistent with him being at Samos when the debate took place, although he did sent a  messenger who might have delivered the message, or the debate may have taken place later, as Plutarch says.  Either way, presumably this argument was given in private to his fellow countrymen only, since it seems most unlikely that he would have said so right in the presence of the Thebans!

Contempt for the Working Class: Republican and Democratic Editions

This article by David Frum on Donald Trump's appeal to the white working class has inspired me to write a piece on the general contempt for the white working class by the elite of both parties.

The contempt shown to the white working class by Democratic elites has been much discussed.  It is a cultural contempt, joined with accusations of bigotry, and frustrated anger at the white working class for voting Republican against Democratic elites' perception of its interests.  White working class concerns about cultural cohesion are dismissed as nativism.  White working class concerns about black crime are dismissed as racism.  But at least on these issues Democrats have at least half a point. Black and Hispanic citizens have legitimate interests too, and it would be an injustice to dismiss them in order to pursue the white working class vote.  What is more egregious is the attitude of cultural superiority and contempt that liberal elites exude.  All things white working class -- even something trivial like hunting, country music, line dancing, or non-boutique shopping -- are treated as vulgar and worse than vulgar, badges of a certain moral inferiority.  People who claim to be multiculturalists and to value all cultures equally turn out to have one culture they cannot stand -- Middle American white working class culture.

Still, there is one way in which liberal elites do respect the working class.  They respect the work that it does.  No one on the Democratic side of the divide questions that punching a clock is an honest way to make a living, that physically demanding work deserves all of our respect, and that people who work for wages are productive members of society who contribute.

The opposite attitude prevails on the other side of the aisle.  The white working class are constantly praised for their authenticity.  Red state American is the "real" America.  White working class cultural cues are celebrated as marks of virtue.  But seething below the surface among many Republican  donors is a deep economic contempt for the working class, regardless of race.  Mitt Romney's 47% remark is emblematic of that contempt, although it is actually addressed more to retirees living off Social Security -- ironically, a major part of the Republican base.  The bartender who recorded the comment was actually more incensed by another comment Romney made, his enthusiasm for the very low wages that prevailed in China.  He was also bothered by Romney's lack of respect for the wait staff. 

This contempt was expressed in its most extreme form during the first Obama term.  Most notably, with the auto industry bailout.  The National Review and Wallstreet Journal were incensed that banks and hedge funds who had lent to Chrysler and GM took a hit, while the union workers kept their jobs and some of their benefits.  The banks and hedge funds had poured their life blood into those companies, while the auto workers were simply parasites who never invested anything in the company and were bleeding it dry.  Their articles seemed to suggest that cars would assemble themselves just as well without a workforce as with one!  Certainly they did not believe that giving up to thirty years of one's life to a job, suffering repetitive stress injuries and the like counted as an "investment."  Neither publication exactly said that the loss of our auto industry would be a small price to pay for ending the vile scourge of good-paying blue collar jobs with benefits, but the implication was not far below the surface.

The attitude manifested itself plenty of other times as well.  Honor for business owners who devote 16 hours a week to their business is only a small distance from contempt for a workforce that prefers more leisure than that.  One executive poured scorn on Obama, saying that he "never worked a day in his life."  His definition of work is revealing.  "He never made payroll. He’s never built anything." Of course, by that definition, most of population, working class included, has "never worked."  Or, as another columnist put it:
In Ryan’s intellectual bubble, there are job creators and entrepreneurs on one side and parasites on the other. There is no account of the vast gray expanse of janitors, waitresses, hotel front-desk clerks, nurses, highway maintenance workers, airport baggage handlers, and taxi drivers. They work hard, but at the end of the day, what can they be said to have “built”?
Another blogger at the time (too lazy to find it) commented that Republicans talk as if everyone runs a business.  Don't they know better?  The answer, I believe, is that they were well aware that most people don't actually run businesses, but they assumed that everyone with any sort of ambition or drive aspires to run a business, and that anyone who is content to go through life with someone else signing his or her paycheck is simply worthless, one of Ayn Rand's "moochers and looters."

This attitude proved a political loser in 2012, so Republican elites have backed off from such statements, at least in public.  What they have not backed off from is their determination, not just to repeal Obamacare, a goal shared by the base, but to use that as a mere stepping stone to start phasing out Medicare and Medicaid and ultimately, if possible, to cut Social Security.  To do so will free up immense resources for a cut in taxes, particularly income taxes, which rebound to the benefit of the top.

In 2012, Democrats' focus group research found that arguing that that was the Republican goal was politically unavailing.  Focus groups simply refused to believe that any party would commit political suicide by embracing such an obviously unpopular course of action.  Trump shows that maybe the base were paying more attention than it seemed.

And he ought, once and for all, to destroy the illusion that the Republican donor class are the "moderates" while the base are the hardliners.  Yes, granted, the donors are more polished than the base.  Their cultural cues are more congenial to a liberal elite.  They reject scapegoating immigrants. If they pander on race, they do so subtly, with plausible deniability.  They favor same sex marriage. But dig down a little deeper to look at economic and international issues, and the picture is a different one altogether.  The donors are programmatically opposed to all government spending (except on the military).  The base are only opposed to some government programs.  Both oppose Obamacare, but the donors oppose it out of a general opposition to all government role in healthcare; the base oppose it as a transfer from the "deserving" (us) to the "undeserving" (them).  The donors see the repeal of Obamacare as a first step toward phasing out Medicaid and Medicare and perhaps even the employer healthcare deduction.  The base sees ending Obamacare as a way of shoring these things up.  The donors want to cut Social Security; the base are dead set against it.  The donors' top priority is cutting tax rates at the top; the base don't particularly care.  The donors want more war; the base don't.  Who, then, is the hard liner and who is moderate?

Frum comments, "Against all evidence, both groups [Republican donors and politicians] interpreted the Tea Party as a mass movement in favor of the agenda of the Wall Street Journal editorial page." Although I cannot find the link, I once commented that the Tea Party was a test to see if it was possible to build an populist movement entirely on economic conservatism.  The unsurprising answer would appear to be no.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Donald Trump and the Department of Duh!

Hat tip Kevin Drum: This recent column by Rich Lowery expressing that he is shocked -- shocked -- that the Tea Party's alarm over an out-of-control executive depends on who that executive is -- or aspires to be.

After the compassionate conservatism of George W. Bush and the earmark-happy excesses of congressional Republicans in the Bush years, the tea party rebaptized the GOP in the faith of limited government and constitutional constraints. If you weren’t down with the 10th Amendment, you weren’t down with the tea party. Glenn Beck earnestly explored the Founding Fathers with his audience. It was a time of first principles. 
Rand Paul, who sells autographed copies of the Constitution, is a libertarian distillation of these concerns. He makes constitutional persnicketiness a high art. Obamacare, the National Security Agency surveillance program, the Violence Against Women Act, President Barack Obama’s war in Libya and intervention in Syria are just a few things he considers unconstitutional (and don’t even get him started on Obama’s tax information treaties).
. . . . . . . .
Trump exists in a plane where there isn’t a Congress or a Constitution. There are no trade-offs or limits. There is only his will and his team of experts who will figure out how to do whatever he wants to do, no matter how seemingly impossible. . . . . You can be forgiven for thinking that in Trump’s world, constitutional niceties—indeed any constraints whatsoever—are for losers. It’s only strength that matters. It shouldn’t be a surprise that he expresses admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin, a “powerful leader” who is “highly respected within his own country and beyond.” Trump’s calls to steal Iraq’s oil and kill the families of terrorists are in a Putinesque key. 
For some on the right, clearly, the Constitution was an instrument rather than a principle. It was a means to stop Obama, and has been found lacking.
To which I can only answer, well, duh!  The right's concern about an out-of-control executive (along with its concern about deficits and debt) began some time between November 4, 2008 (the day Obama was elected) and January 20, 2009 (the day Obama was inaugurated).  Before that were the days of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, David Addington, John Yoo, and the "unitary executive." The President had the power to do anything he wanted so long as he said the words "national security."  Neither statutes nor treaties could constrain him.  His warrantless surveillance was in flat violation of federal statute.  (Obama's surveillance was approved by the FISA court and therefore did not technically break the law; it merely stretched it beyond all recognition).

Bush's theories of the "unitary executive" were an extreme example, but they were by no means unique.  What about Reagan's Iran-Contra attempt to circumvent Congress cutting off funding by creating a covert source of funding outside legislative control?  What about Nixon harassing opponents with IRS audits?  Attempted impoundment of Congressional appropriations?  What about Watergate?  Etc. etc etc.

Well, Lowry may say, these are  not uniquely conservative sins.  Such liberal heroes as FDR, Kennedy and Johnson were just as guilty, if not more.  To which I can only say, granted!  Power tends to be abused, and the temptations of abuse transcend ideology.  But there is a significant civil libertarian movement on the left that opposes such things regardless of who holds power.  The ACLU opposed the liberal Woodrow Wilson's infringements on civil liberties during WWI.  It opposed Roosevelt's internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII.  And it stood largely alone in these things.  It has opposed the extensive surveillance by Bush and Obama.  So have liberal Democratic Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall.  So (I admit) have Ron Paul and Rand Paul.  But they are decidedly unusual among Republicans.

Well, Lowry may say, there are libertarians who have opposed such measures regardless of party in charge.  Look at the Cato Institute, the Koch Brothers, etc.  And they define liberty more broadly than liberal civil libertarians, extending to government in its mommy functions as well as its daddy functions.  To which I would say, such concerns had a whole lot less influence on the Republican Party during the Bush years than they have had on the Democrats in the Obama years.  And it isn't just Trump.  Republicans may have been alarmed at the surveillance Obama has been doing, but after a terrorist attack or two they are seeking to expand it.

Besides, there was ample evidence even when Obama was in office that the Tea Party's concern about an out-of-control executive was rather more political than principled.  I refer to the debt ceiling showdowns.  First of all, if Obama had really been the dictator his opponents accused him of being, he would have simply done what many supporters were urging him to do, declared the debt ceiling unconstitutional, and continued spending as before.*  But worse, when Republicans were warned that refusal to raise the debt ceiling would mean cutting spending overnight by a third, and asked what they wanted to cut, many said they would leave that to Obama.  Hot news flash.  If you want to reign in an out-of-control executive, calling on him to cut the budget by a third overnight and then giving him complete discretion as to how to cut is not the way to do it.

And can we face facts?  Very few people have strong procedural principles about government. Procedural arguments are almost always offered opportunistically and inconsistently.  Few people have any real understanding of the limits on the President's power.  At lot of the loss of respect Obama is experiencing among low information voters is not because he seems overbearing and is acting as a dictator, but because of his inability to get anything done in the face of a hostile Congress. (I was surprised   Most people really want a dictator to cut through all that tiresome red tape imposed by the rule of law and get things done.  They just don't want the wrong dictator to cut through the red tape and get the wrong things done.  Democracy, constitutionalism, and separation of powers are just uneasy compromises in which all parties give up the opportunity to have their dictator in power in exchange for the other guys making the same renunciation.

What is so scary today is that that uneasy compromise is breaking down.

*He probably would not have minted the platinum coins, at least if he had been a smart dictator.  Yes, he could have minted trillion dollar platinum coins.  It would probably even have been technically legal.  (Congress had passed a law allowing the executive to mint platinum coins.  It clearly meant commemorative coins rather than legal tender, but it never exactly said so).  But he would never be able to get the financial system to take the US seriously after that, so it is not anything a smart dictator would do.  But a lot of dictators become so arrogantly self-confident as to do really, really stupid things.  

Athens: Defeat and Ruin (405 BC)

The next year of the war would prove to be the last one.  Something had gone wrong with the Athenians.  Their energy and initiative had deserted them.  It is hard to say what.  Maybe the last strain on resources left their ships too sloppily constructed and their crews too untrained to be an effective fighting force.  Maybe killing their top generals left the fleet without effective leadership. Maybe their final resources were simply tapped out.  Be that as it may, the Athenians began the next year of the war (405 BC) with 173 ships, a perfectly respectable fleet, commanded by Conon and Philocles.  According to Diodorus, they Athenians left only 20 ships at their base in Samos and sent the rest of the fleet to the Hellespont.  Splitting of the fleet seems reasonable, since the Athenian strategy would presumably be first, if possible, to keep the Peloponnesians bottled up at their base and second, if that failed, to keep them out of the Hellespont at all costs, since Athens' food was imported by that route. How to split the fleet would be very much a matter of military judgment, but it would be important to establish a system of lookouts and fire signals to allow the two fleets to communicate with each other.

The Spartans, by contrast, had one basic response to their defeat -- bring back Lysander.  Lysander had, after all, defeated the Athenians once, though more due to foolish decisions on their part than and particular skill of his.  But there were strong political reasons for returning him as well.  He was on good terms with the Persian Prince supplying resources, and he had many local supporters.  Still, his ambitions must have been alarming to more traditional Spartans.  Kagan (p. 377) goes so far as to suggest that fear of Lysander's ambitions may have driven the Spartans to seek peace.  But in the end there was little choice.  Spartan law did not allow any man to serve as admiral twice, so they made Lysander vice-admiral with the clear understanding that the official admiral was to follow his commands.*  He began by firmly securing Persian support.  He then apparently slipped his fleet past the Athenians at Samos and set out on the most energetic -- and vicious -- campaign yet.

Recall that he had been conspiring with financial backers to install them as governing juntas in exchange for their support.  It was these men who were clamoring loudest for Lysander's return.  In Miletus the conspirators had apparently changed their minds and reconciled with the democrats.  Lysander pretended to approve, but secretly persuaded the conspirators to attempt their coup.  He then arrived and appeared to suppress the attempt.  But this was merely a trick to lull the leaders of the popular party into a false sense of confidence.  When the time was ripe, the conspirators struck,  killing 300 democratic leaders in the agora and dragging another 40 from their homes.  A thousand  democratic leaders fled and took refuge with the Persians.

He then turned south.  According to Diodorus, he seized the city of Iasos by storm, killed all the men numbering about 800, sold the women and children as slaves, and destroyed the city. Xenophon says that he seized the city of Cedraie after a two-day siege and sold all the inhabitants as slaves.**  The then audaciously crossed the Aegean, laid waste to neighboring islands (probably without capturing them), and visited the Spartan king at Deceleia on the outskirts of Athens.  The Athenians pursued him, but were never able to overtake him or to prevent any of these actions.

Hellespont is the narrow channel depicted
 Most alarmingly from the Athenian perspective, he headed straight for the Hellespont -- the route where their food imports came from.  The Athenians had inexcusably let their guard down on this immensely strategic waterway.  One wonders if Lysanders atrocities were undertaken not just to terrorize other cities into submission, but to provoke the Athenians into letting their guard down.  Lysander quickly raised an army at Abdyos (the only remaining Spartan base in the Hellespont) and attacked Lampsacus.  The city was quickly taken.  Lysander and his army plundered the city (as was routine practice at the time), but spared its inhabitants.

The Athenians arrived in the Hellespont with their full fleet of 180 ships, only to learn that Lampsacus had already fallen.  The Athenians camped at Aegespotomi (Goat River), the beach across the channel from Lampsacus, but without provisions or defense.  Daily, the Athenians  sailed forth to challenge the enemy.  Lysander refused to be challenged, but did send out scouts to see what the Athenians were doing.  Mostly, they were foraging for food, since they were away from their base and supplies.  All sources agree that Alcibiades had been watching this activity from his fortress and now approached to give advice.  Xenophon and Plutarch say that he warned that they were in an exposed position and should withdraw to Sestos, where they would have supplies and fortification.  Diodorus and the Roman Cornelius Nepos say that he offered to bring a Thracian army to fight on their side, if he were given a share of the command.  All agree that they refused, with the insulting remark that they were the generals and he was not.  Diodorus blames their action on selfishness by the generals -- they believes that Alcibiades would get the credit for success and they would be blamed for failure.  Classical historians unanimously see this as a huge mistake, driven mostly by personal vanity.  Kagan sees their decision as defensible.  The danger of Lysander and his fleet slipping out and cutting off their food supply was so great that they had to take the risk of an unsecure and unprovisioned site in order to detect the Peloponnesians' movements and be able to attack immediately if they sailed forth.  As for his promise to bring in Thracian forces, why would anyone believe him, given his past lies about being able to deliver the support of the Persians?  To say nothing of the logistical difficulty in getting them across the strait.

Be that as it may, the Athenians continued to sail forth for five days, vainly attempting to provoke a fight.  Xenonphon and Plutarch say that the Athenians were becoming contemptuous of Lysander and became careless and over-confident as a result.  Diodorus, by contrast, says that they were running out of supplies and becoming desperate.  On the fifth day the stalemate broke dramatically.  After they had returned and were scattered about foraging for food, Lysander's scouts raised a signal.  Or, perhaps the Athenian general Philocles set forth with 30 ships to lure Lysander into a trap, but the others failed to follow through.  The Athenians were taken completely by surprise and were routed  with little resistance.  Of 180 ships, only ten escaped.  These included the ones commanded by Conon, the supreme commander, who made an unsuccessful attempt to rally the forces and, when all was clearly lost, fled to Cyprus instead of returning home.  The flagship Paralus alone returned to Athens with news of the defeat.  About 3000 Athenians, including the admirals Philocles and Adeimantus were captured; the rest fled to Sestos.  Their captors were in no mood to be generous. Philocles on at least two occasions had thrown overboard the crews of captured ships and had persuaded the Assembly to adopt a resolution to cut off the right hands (Xenophon) or right thumbs  (Plutarch) of anyone captured.***  All prisoners were executed except Adeimantus, who had opposed the resolution.  Philocles is said to have died bravely.

With the destruction of the Athenian fleet, Athens' allies except Samos promptly went over to Sparta. Lysander allowed the Athenians in Sestos and everywhere else to depart in peace, provided that they returned to Athens.  If that sounds uncharacteristically generous for this savage man, his motives were not altruistic.  More people in Athens meant more mouths to feed in the upcoming blockade and siege.  This he enforced by threatening to kill any Athenians caught out of the city.  No doubt the other cities had heard enough of his methods not to dare harbor any.  He then proceeded to establish the decarchies, or ten-man juntas in all the cities he passed, backed by a garrison and Spartan commander (harmost).  He imposed these alike on friend and foe, choosing personal cronies without local support, a process that took significant bloodshed to achieve.  In this he was following the classic imperial tactic of deliberately choosing unpopular puppet rulers to ensure that they would be dependent on the imperial power and always obey it.  He did, however, make such amends as he could for past Athenian atrocities and restore the Aegintenians, Scionians and Melians to their homes.****

As for the Athenians, when they learned that their fleet was destroyed, they knew that all was lost.  Xenonphon is none too sympathetic, believing that they feared they would suffer what they had inflicted on others, and that they deserved as much.  Certainly what they had seen of Lysander's methods could not have been reassuring. But they blocked the harbors, repaired the walls, and settled in for a siege.  The two Spartan kings besieged Athens by land and Lysander arrived with 200 ships. The city's fortifications were too strong to take by force, so the Peloponnesians blockaded the city  instead.  The Athenians held out, perhaps as much out of fear as out of courage. Only when their food was gone did they offer terms, proposing to subordinate their foreign policy to Sparta if they could keep their long walls (i.e., the walls connecting the main city to the port).  The Ephors sent the Athenians ambassadors back, telling them to come back with a more serious proposal.  When one Athenian proposed accepting an offer to tear down a portion of the walls, he was thrown in prison and such proposals forbidden.  Theramenes then offered to negotiate what terms he could.  He then stayed away for three months, leading some to believe that he was deliberately delaying to let famine argue on behalf of the Spartan proposals.  He returned from Lysander empty-handed, saying that only the Ephors had authority to set terms.  Theramenes then went to negotiate with the Ephors.  Although the Corinthians and Thebans wanted to destroy Athens and enslave its people, the Spartans eventually agreed to peace on the condition that Athens tear down its long walls altogether, destroy its fleet except for twelve ships, and subordinate its foreign policy to Sparta.  These terms, it must be noted, were no worse than what Athens routinely imposed on rebellious allies before the long and bitter war has brutalized all parties.  The proposal met with some resistance, but was ultimately approved.

Lysander then turned his full might on Samos, which alone held out, with the courage of despair.  In Samos, recall, the democrats had slaughtered (or exiled) all the aristocrats.  So much did they fear the revenge that the aristocratic exiles might have in store that they held out long after all was lost.  In the end, the entire citizen body agreed to go into exile with no more than the clothes on their backs, preferring that to whatever fate the returning exiles might have in store for them.*****  We are not told where the Samians went.  Their alliance with Athens was close enough that normally they could have taken refuge there.  But, as we shall soon see, political developments in Athens would preclude that possibility.

The Peloponnesian War was over, and Athens had lost. Its democracy survived to its surrender, but not long after.  Next:  Diplomacy, intrigue, and the overthrow of the democracy.

*Alexander Hamilton would later cite this as an example why it is dangerous to forbid a government from doing something necessary -- because it will find its way around the law.
**Kagan accepts both atrocities as accurate.  But I don't see how he could have committed the massacre at Iasus, given that the Peloponnesians had cemented their Persian alliance by capturing that city, which was harboring a Persian fugitive, plundering it, and turning the entire population over to the Persians.  How could such a massacre have taken place if Iasus had already been destroyed.  And even in the unlikely event that the Persians released the people of Iasus and let them return to their city, what would be the chances that they would court disaster by returning to the Athenian alliance? I am inclined to think that Diodorus is confusing this with a later atrocity by Lysander at Thasos.  There he assembled the citizens in a sacred temple and promised that no harm would come to the pro-Athenian party.  When the pro-Athenian party took his word for it and came out of hiding, he had them slaughtered.  Kagan prefers Iasos to Thasos for reasons of geography, but the massacre at Thasos appears to have happened later.  
***The right hands would leave the victim unable to fight at all; the thumb would leave them able to row but not to hold a spear.  Some modern historians have doubted either the decree or the massacre.  Xenophon does give reason, which I will discuss later, to distrust the massacre, or at least the scale of it.
****The Aegintenians were longstanding enemies of the Athenians, living on a neighboring island.  The Athenians expelled them at the beginning of the war and made a habit of executing any who fell into their hands afterwards.  Since the non-combatant Scionians had been evacuated, presumably their remnant was significant and well-assembled.  Less clear is where he found the Melian remnant, since the Athenians had killed all their men and sold the women and children as slaves.
*****So much for what I said about the basic asymmetry that allowed the democrats to kill all the oligarchs, but kept the oligarchs from killing all the democrats because they needed their subordinate labor.  Apparently Samos had enough metics and slaves that the oligarchy could dispense with the democratic citizen body altogether.