At the first news of the re-establishment of democracy at Samos, distrust and discord had broken out among the Four Hundred. Antiphon and Phrynichus, at the head of the extreme section of the oligarchical party, were for admitting a Lacedaemonian garrison. But others, discontented with their share of power, began to affect more popular sentiments, among whom were Theramenes and Aristocrates. Meantime Euboea, supported by the Lacedaemonians and Boeotians, revolted from Athens. The loss of this island seemed a death-blow. The Lacedaemonians might now easily blockade the ports of Athens and starve her into surrender; whilst the partisans of the Four Hundred would doubtless co-operate with the enemy. But from this fate they were saved by the characteristic slowness of the Lacedaemonians, who confined themselves to securing the conquest of Euboea. Thus left unmolested, the Athenians convened an assembly in the Pnyx. Votes were passed for deposing the Four Hundred, and placing the government in the hands of the 5000, of whom every citizen who could furnish a panoply might be a member. In short, the old constitution was restored, except that the franchise was restricted to 5000 citizens, and payment for the discharge of civil functions abolished. In subsequent assemblies, the Archons, the Senate, and other institutions were revived; and a vote was passed to recall Alcibiades and some of his friends. The number of the 5000 was never exactly observed, and was soon enlarged into universal citizenship. Thus the Four Hundred were overthrown after a reign of four months, B.C. 411.
While these things were going on at Athens, the war was prosecuted with vigour on the coast of Asia Minor. Mindarus, who now commanded the Peloponnesian fleet, disgusted at length by the often-broken promises of Tissaphernes, and the scanty and irregular pay which he furnished, set sail from Miletus and proceeded to the Hellespont, with the intention of assisting the satrap Pharnabazus, and of effecting, if possible, the revolt of the Athenian dependencies in that quarter. Hither he was pursued by the Athenian fleet under Thrasyllus. In a few days an engagement ensued (in August, 411 B.C.), in the famous straits between Sestos and Abydos, in which the Athenians, though with a smaller force, gained the victory and erected a trophy on the promontory of Cynossema, near the tomb and chapel of the Trojan queen Hecuba. The Athenians followed up their victory by the reduction of Cyzicus, which had revolted from them. A month or two afterwards another obstinate engagement took place between the Peloponnesian and Athenian fleets ness Abydos, which lasted a whole day, and was at length decided in favour of the Athenians by the arrival of Alcibiades with his squadron of eighteen ships from Samos.
Shortly after the battle Tissaphernes arrived at the Hellespont with the view of conciliating the offended Peloponnesians. He was not only jealous of the assistance which the latter were now rendering to Pharnabarzus, but it is also evident that his temporizing policy had displeased the Persian court. This appears from his conduct on the present occasion, as well as from the subsequent appointment of Cyrus to the supreme command on the Asiatic coast as we shall presently have to relate. When Alcibiades, who imagined that Tissaphernes was still favourable to the Athenian cause waited on him with the customary presents, he was arrested by order of the satrap, and sent in custody to Sardis. At the end of a month, however, he contrived to escape to Clazomenae, and again joined the Athenian fleet early in the spring of 410 B.C. Mindaras, with the assistance of Pharnabazas on the land side, was now engaged in the siege of Cyzicus, which the Athenian admirals determined to relieve. Here a battle ensued, in which Mindarus was slain, the Lacedaemonians and Persians routed, and almost the whole Peloponnesian fleet captured. The severity of this blow was pictured in the laconic epistle in which Hippocrates, the second in command, [Called Epistoteus or "Secretary" in the Lacedaemonian fleet. The commander of the fleet had the title of NAVARCHUS.] announced it to the Ephors: "Our good luck is gone; Mindarus is slain; the men are starving; we know not what to do."
The results of this victory were most important. Perinthus and Selymbria, as well as Cyzicus, were recovered; and the Athenians, once more masters of the Propontis, fortified the town of Chrysopolis, over against Byzantium, at the entrance of the Bosporus; re-established their toll of ten per cent, on all vessels passing from the Euxine; and left a squadron to guard the strait and collect the dues. So great was the discouragement of the Lacedaemonians at the loss of their fleet that the Ephor Endius proceeded to Athens to treat for peace on the basis of both parties standing just as they were. The Athenian assembly was at this time led by the demagogue Cleophon, a lamp-maker, known to us by the later comedies of Aristophanes. Cleophon appears to have been a man of considerable ability; but the late victories had inspired him with too sanguine hopes and he advised the Athenians to reject the terms proposed by Endius. Athens thus throw away the golden opportunity of recruiting her shattered forces of which she stood so much in need; and to this unfortunate advice must be ascribed the calamities which subsequently overtook her.
The possession of the Bosporus reopened to the Athenians the trade of the Euxine. From his lofty fortress at Decelea the Spartan king Agris could descry the corn-ships from the Euxine sailing into the Harbour of the Piraeus, and felt how fruitless it was to occupy the fields of Attica whilst such abundant supplies of provisions were continually finding their way to the city.
In B.C. 408 the important towns of Chalcedon, Selymbria, and Byzantium fell into the hands of the Athenians, thus leaving them undisputed masters of the Propontis.
These great achievements of Alcibiades naturally paved the way for his return to Athens. In the spring of 407 B.C. he proceeded with the fleet to Samos, and from thence sailed to Piraeus. His reception was far more favourable than he had ventured to anticipate. The whole population of Athens flocked down to Piraeus to welcome him, and escorted him to the city. He seemed to be in the present juncture the only man capable of restoring the grandeur and the empire of Athens: he was accordingly named general with unlimited powers, and a force of 100 triremes, 1500 hoplites, and 150 cavalry placed at his disposal. Before his departure he took an opportunity to atone for the impiety of which he had been suspected. Although his armament was in perfect readiness, he delayed its sailing till after the celebration of the Eleusinian mysteries at the beginning of September. For seven years the customary procession across the Thriasian plain had been suspended, owing to the occupation of Decelea by the enemy, which compelled the sacred troop to proceed by sea. Alcibiades now escorted them on their progress and return with his forces, and thus succeeded in reconciling himself with the offended goddesses and with their holy priests, the Eumolpidae.
Meanwhile a great change had been going on in the state of affairs in the East. We have already seen that the Great King was displeased with the vacillating policy of Tissaphernes, and had determined to adopt more energetic measures against the Athenians. During the absence of Alcibiades, Cyrus, the younger son of Darius, a prince of a bold and enterprising spirit, and animated with a lively hatred of Athens, had arrived at the coast for the purpose of carrying out the altered policy of the Persian court; and with that view he had been invested with the satrapies of Lydia, the Greater Phrygia, and Cappadocia. The arrival of Cyrus opens the last phase of the Peloponnesian war. Another event, in the highest degree unfavourable to the Athenian cause, was the accession of Lysander, as NAVARCHUS, to the command of the Peloponnesian fleet. Lysander was the third of the remarkable men whom Sparta produced during the war. In ability, energy, and success he may be compared with Brasidas and Gylippus, though immeasurably inferior to the former in every moral quality. He was born of poor parents, and was by descent one of those Lacedaemonians who could never enjoy the full rights of Spartan citizenship. His ambition was boundless, and he was wholly unscrupulous about the means which he employed to gratify it. In pursuit of his objects he hesitated at neither deceit, nor perjury, nor cruelty, and he is reported to have laid it down as one of his maxims in life to avail himself of the fox's skin where the lion's failed.