A History of Greece: From the Time of Solon to 403 B.C

By George Grote; J. M. Mitchell et al. | Go to book overview

35 [LXV]

FROM THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSÆ TO THE RESTORATION OF THE DEMOCRACY AT ATHENS, AFTER THE EXPULSION OF THE THIRTY

THE victory of Arginusæ gave for the time decisive mastery of the Asiatic seas to the Athenian fleet; and is even said to have so discouraged the Lacedæmonians, as to induce them to send propositions of peace to Athens. But this statement is open to much doubt, and I think it most probable that no such propositions were made. 1 Great as the victory was, we look in vain for any positive results accruing to Athens. After an unsuccessful attempt on Chios, the victorious fleet went to Samos, where it seems to have remained

1 The statement rests on the authority of Aristotle, as referred to by the Scholiast on the last verse of the Frogs of Aristophanês. And this, so far as I know, is the only authority: for when Mr. Fynes Clinton (Fast. Hellen., ad ann. 406) says that Æschinês (De Fals. Legat., p. 38, c. 24) mentions the overtures of peace - I think that no one who looks at that passage will be inclined to found any inference upon it.

Against it we may observe -

1. Xenophon does not mention it. This is something, though far from being conclusive when standing alone.

2. Diodorus does not mention it.

3. The terms alleged to have been proposed by the Lacedæmonians are exactly the same as those said to have been proposed by them after the death of Mindarus at Kyzikus, viz. -

To evacuate Dekeleia - and each party to stand as they were. Not only the terms are the same - but also the person who stood prominent in opposition is in both cases the same - Kleophon. The overtures after Arginusæ are in fact a second edition of those after the battle of Kyzikus.

[On the other hand, the statement in Ath. Pol., c. 34, is explicit enough as to the peace proposals, and as it probably has its source in an Atthidographer drawing upon official documents, it weighs heavily against the silence of Xenophon and Diodorus.

The sameness of the terms in 410 and 406 is not surprising, the offer of the status quo being most simple and equitable. Again, Kleophon at this time was still more influential than in 410, and would be the natural person to move the rejection of the proposals. The reiteration of the peace proposals on the side of Sparta, and their successive defeat by the Athenian democrats, is paralleled by the negotiations of 425-424, when at least three offers were made. - ED.]

-919-

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