When these terms were settled and sworn to, the Peloponnesians quitted Attica; and Thrasybulus and the exiles, marching in solemn procession from Piraeus to Athens, ascended to the Acropolis and offered up a solemn sacrifice and thanksgiving. An assembly of the people was then held, and after Thrasybulus had addressed an animated reproof to the oligarchical party, the democracy was unanimously restored. This important counter- revolution took place in the spring of 403 B.C. The archons, the senate of 500, the public assembly, and the dicasteries seem to have been reconstituted in the same form as before the capture of the city.
Thus was terminated, after a sway of eight months, the despotism of the Thirty. The year which contained their rule was not named after the archon, but was termed "the year of anarchy." The first archon drawn after their fall was Euclides, who gave his name to a year ever afterwards memorable among the Athenians.
For the next few years the only memorable event in the history of Athens is the death of Socrates. This celebrated philosopher was born in the year 468 B.C., in the immediate neighbourhood of Athens. His father, Sophroniscus, was a sculptor, and Socrates was brought up to, and for some time practised, the same profession. He was married to Xanthippe, by whom he had three sons; but her bad temper has rendered her name proverbial for a conjugal scold. His physical constitution was healthy, robust, and wonderfully enduring. Indifferent alike to heat and cold the same scanty and homely clothing sufficed him both in summer and winter; and even in the campaign of Potidaea, amidst the snows of a Thracian winter, he went barefooted. But though thus gifted with strength of body and of mind, he was far from being endowed with personal beauty. His thick lips, flat nose, and prominent eyes, gave him the appearance of a Silenus, or satyr. He served with credit as an hoplite at Potidaea (B.C. 432), Delium (B.C. 424), and Amphipolis (B.C. 422); but it was not till late in life, in the year 406 B.C., that he filled any political office. He was one of the Prytanes when, after the battle of Arginusae, Callixenus submitted his proposition respecting the six generals to the public Assembly, and his refusal on that occasion to put an unconstitutional question to the vote has been already recorded. He had a strong persuasion that he was intrusted with a divine mission, and he believed himself to be attended by a daemon, or genius, whose admonitions he frequently heard, not, however, in the way of excitement, but of restraint. He never WROTE anything, but he made oral instruction the great business of his life. Early in the morning he frequented the public walks, the gymnasia, and the schools; whence he adjourned to the market-place at its most crowded hours, and thus spent the whole day in conversing with young and old, rich and poor,--with all in short who felt any desire for his instructions.
That a reformer and destroyer, like Socrates, of ancient prejudices and fallacies which passed current under the name of wisdom should have raised up a host of enemies is only what might be expected; but in his case this feeling was increased by the manner in which he fulfilled his mission. The oracle of Delphi, in response to a question put by his friend Chaerephon, had affirmed that no man was wiser than Socrates. No one was more perplexed at this declaration than Socrates himself, since he was conscious of possessing no wisdom at all. However, he determined to test the accuracy of the priestess, for, though he had little wisdom, others might have still less. He therefore selected an eminent politician who enjoyed a high reputation for wisdom, and soon elicited by his scrutinising method of cross-examination, that this statesman's reputed wisdom was no wisdom at all. But of this he could not convince the subject of his examination; whence Socrates concluded that he was wiser than this politician, inasmuch as he was conscious of his own ignorance, and therefore exempt from the error of believing himself wise when in reality he was not so. The same experiment was tried with the same result on various classes of men; on poets, mechanics, and especially on the rhetors and sophists, the chief of all the pretenders to wisdom.
The first indication of the unpopularity which he had incurred is the attack made upon him by Aristophanes in the 'Clouds' in the year 423 B.C. That attack, however, seems to have evaporated with the laugh, and for many years Socrates continued his teaching without molestation. It was not till B.C. 399 that the indictment was preferred against him which cost him his life. In that year, Meletus, a leather-seller, seconded by Anytus, a poet, and Lycon, a rhetor, accused him of impiety in not worshipping the gods of the city, and in introducing new deities, and also of being a corrupter of youth. With respect to the latter charge, his former intimacy with Alcibiades and Critias may have, weighed against him. Socrates made no preparations for his defence, and seems, indeed, not to have desired an acquittal. But although he addressed the dicasts in a bold uncompromising tone, he was condemned only by a small majority of five or six in a court composed of between five and six hundred dicasts. After the verdict was pronounced, he was entitled, according to the practice of the Athenian courts, to make some counter-proposition in place of the penalty of death, which the accusers had demanded, and if he had done so with any show of submission it is probable that the sentence would have been mitigated. But his tone after the verdict was higher than before. Instead of a fine, he asserted that he ought to be maintained in the Prytaneum at the public expense, as a public benefactor. This seems to have enraged the dicasts and he was condemned to death.
It happened that the vessel which proceeded to Delos on the annual deputation to the festival had sailed the day before his condemnation; and during its absence it was unlawful to put any one to death. Socrates was thus kept in prison during thirty days, till the return of the vessel. He spent the interval in philosophical conversations with his friends. Crito, one of these, arranged a scheme for his escape by bribing the gaoler; but Socrates, as might be expected from the tone of his defence, resolutely refused to save his life by a breach of the law. His last discourse, on the day of his death, turned on the immortality of the soul. With a firm and cheerful countenance he drank the cup of hemlock amidst his sorrowing and weeping friends. His last words were addressed to Crito:--"Crito, we owe a cock to AEsculapius; discharge the debt, and by no means omit it."
Thus perished the greatest and most original of the Grecian philosophers, whose uninspired wisdom made the nearest approach to the divine morality of the Gospel. His teaching forms an epoch in the history of philosophy. From his school sprang Plato, the founder of the Academic philosophy; Euclides, the founder of the Megaric school; Aristippus, the founder of the Cyrenaic school; and many other philosophers of eminence.
THE EXPEDITION OF THE GREEKS UNDER CYRUS, AND RETREAT OF THE TEN THOUSAND, B.C. 401-400.