The year of Lysander's command expired about the same time as the appointment of Conon to the Athenian fleet. Through the intrigues of Lysander, his successor Callicratidas was received with dissatisfaction both by the Lacedaemonian seamen and by Cyrus. Loud complaints were raised of the impolicy of an annual change of commanders. Lysander threw all sorts of difficulties into the way of his successor, to whom he handed over an empty chest, having first repaid to Cyrus all the money in his possession under the pretence that it was a private loan. The straightforward conduct of Callicratidas, however, who summoned the Lacedaemonian commanders, and after a dignified remonstrance, plainly put the question whether he should return home or remain, silenced all opposition. But he was sorely embarrassed for funds. Cyrus treated him with haughtiness; and when he waited on that prince at Sardis, he was dismissed not only without money, but even without an audience. Callicratidas, however, had too much energy to be daunted by such obstacles. Sailing with his fleet from Ephesus to Miletus, he laid before the assembly of that city, in a spirited address, all the ill they had suffered at the hands of the Persians, and exhorted them to bestir themselves and dispense with the Persian alliance. He succeeded in persuading the Milesians to make him a large grant of money, whilst the leading men even came forward with private subscriptions. By means of this assistance he was enabled to add 50 triremes to the 90 delivered to him by Lysander; and the Chians further provided him with ten days' pay for the seamen.
The fleet of Callicratidas was now double that of Conon. The latter was compelled to run before the superior force of Callicratidas. Both fleets entered the harbour of Mytilene at the same time, where a battle ensued in which Conon lost 30 ships, but he saved the remaining 40 by hauling them ashore under the walls of the town. Callicratidas then blockaded Mytilene both by sea and land; but Conon contrived to despatch a trireme to Athens with the news of his desperate position.
As soon as the Athenians received intelligence of the blockade of Mytilene; vast efforts were made for its relief; and we learn with surprise that in thirty days a fleet of 110 triremes was equipped and despatched from Piraeus. The armament assembled at Samos, where it was reinforced by scattered Athenian ships, and by contingents from the allies, to the extent of 40 vessels. The whole fleet of 150 sail then proceeded to the small islands of Arginusae, near the coast of Asia, and facing Malea, the south- eastern cape of Lesbos. Callicratidas, who went out to meet them, took up his station at the latter point, leaving a squadron of 50 ships to maintain the blockade of Mytilene. He had thus only 120 ships to oppose to the 150 of the Athenians, and his pilot advised him to retire before the superior force of the enemy. But Callicratidas replied that he would not disgrace himself by flight, and that if he should perish Sparta would not feel his loss. The battle was long and obstinate. All order was speedily lost, and the ships fought singly with one another, In one of these contests, Callicratidas, who stood on the prow of his vessel ready to board the enemy, was thrown overboard by the shock of the vessels as they met, and perished. At length victory began to declare for the Athenians. The Lacedaemonians, after losing 77 vessels, retreated with the remainder to Chios and Phocaea. The loss of the Athenians was 25 vessels.
The battle of Arginusae led to a deplorable event, which has for ever sullied the pages of Athenian history. At least a dozen Athenian vessels were left floating about in a disabled condition after the battle; but, owing to a violent storm that ensued, no attempt was made to rescue the survivors, or to collect the bodies of the dead for burial. Eight of the ten generals were summoned home to answer for this conduct; Conon, by his situation at Mytilene, was of course exculpated, and Archestratus had died. Six of the generals obeyed the summons, and were denounced in the Assembly by Theramenes, formerly one of the Four Hundred, for neglect of duty. The generals replied that they had commissioned Theramenes himself and Thrasybulus, each of whom commanded a trireme in the engagement, to undertake the duty, and had assigned 48 ships to them for that purpose. This, however, was denied by Theramenes. There are discrepancies in the evidence, and we have no materials for deciding positively which statement was true; but probability inclines to the side of the generals. Public feeling, however, ran very strongly against them, and was increased by an incident which occurred during their trial. After a day's debate the question was adjourned; and in the interval the festival of the APATURIA was celebrated, in which, according to annual custom, the citizens met together according to their families and phratries. Those who had perished at Arginusae were naturally missed on such an occasion; and the usually cheerful character of the festival was deformed and rendered melancholy by the relatives of the deceased appearing in black clothes and with shaven heads. The passions of the people were violently roused. At the next meeting of the Assembly, Callixenus, a senator, proposed that the people should at once proceed to pass its verdict on the generals, though they had been only partially heard in their defence; and, moreover, that they should all be included in one sentence, though it was contrary to a rule of Attic law, known as the psephisma of Canonus, to indict citizens otherwise than individually. The Prytanes, or senators of the presiding tribe, at first refused to put the question to the Assembly in this illegal way; but their opposition was at length overawed by clamour and violence. There was, however, one honourable exception. The philosopher Socrates, who was one of the Prytanes, refused to withdraw his protest. But his opposition was disregarded, and the proposal of Callixenus was carried, The generals were condemned, delivered over to the Eleven for execution, and compelled to drink the fatal hemlock. Among them was Pericles, the son of the celebrated statesman.
In the following year (B.C. 405), through the influence of Cyrus and the other allies of Sparta, Lysander again obtained the command of the Peloponnesian fleet, though nominally under Aracus as admiral; since it was contrary to Spartan usage that the same man should be twice NAVARCHUS. His return to power was marked by more vigorous measures. He sailed to the Hellespont, and laid siege to Lampsacus. The Athenian fleet arrived too late to save the town, but they proceeded up the strait and took post at AEgospotami, or the "Goat's River;" a place which had nothing to recommend it, except its vicinity to Lampsacus, from which it was separated by a channel somewhat less than two miles broad. It was a mere desolate beach, without houses or inhabitants, so that all the supplies had to be fetched from Sestos, or from the surrounding country, and the seamen were compelled to leave their ships in order to obtain their meals. Under these circumstances the Athenians were very desirous of bringing Lysander to an engagement. But the Spartan commander, who was in a strong position, and abundantly furnished with provisions, was in no hurry to run any risks. In vain did the Athenians sail over several days in succession to offer him battle; they always found his ships ready manned, and drawn up in too strong a position to warrant an attack; nor could they by all their manoeuvres succeed in enticing him out to combat. This cowardice, as they deemed it, on the part of the Lacedaemonians, begat a corresponding negligence on theirs; discipline was neglected and the men allowed to straggle almost at will. It was in vain that Alcibiades, who since his dismissal resided in a fortress in that neighbourhood, remonstrated with the Athenian generals on the exposed nature of the station they had chosen, and advised them to proceed to Sestos. His counsels were received with taunts and insults. At length, on the fifth day, Lysander, having watched an opportunity when the Athenian seamen had gone on shore and were dispersed over the country, rowed swiftly across the strait with all his ships. He found the Athenian fleet, with the exception of 10 or 12 vessels, totally unprepared, and he captured nearly the whole of it, without having occasion to strike a single blow. Of the 180 ships which composed the fleet, only the trireme of Conon himself, the Paralus, and 8 or 10 other vessels succeeded in escaping. Conon was afraid to return to Athens after so signal a disaster, and took refuge with Evagoras, prince of Salamis in Cyprus.
By this momentous victory (September, B.C. 405) the Peloponnesian war was virtually brought to an end. Lysander, secure of an easy triumph, was in no haste to gather it by force. The command of the Euxine enabled him to control the supplies of Athens; and sooner or later, a few weeks of famine must decide her fall. He now sailed forth to take possession of the Athenian towns, which fell one after another into his power as soon as he appeared before them. About November he arrived at AEgina, with an overwhelming fleet of 150 triremes, and proceeded to devastate Salamis and blockade Piraeus. At the same time the whole Peloponnesian army was marched into Attica and encamped in the precincts of the Academus, at the very gates of Athens. Famine soon began to be felt within the walls, and at the end of three months it became so dreadful, that the Athenians saw themselves compelled to submit to the terms of the conqueror. These terms were: That the long walls and the fortifications of Piraeus should be demolished; that the Athenians should give up all their foreign possessions, and confine themselves to their own territory; that they should surrender all their ships of war; that they should readmit all their exiles; and that they should become allies of Sparta.
It was about the middle or end of March, B.C. 404, that Lysander sailed into Piraeus, and took formal possession of Athens; the war, in singular conformity with the prophecies current at the beginning of it, having lasted for a period of thrice nine, or 27 years. The insolence of the victors added another blow to the feelings of the conquered. The work of destruction, at which Lysander presided, was converted into a sort of festival. Female flute-players and wreathed dancers inaugurated the demolition of the strong and proud bulwarks of Athens; and as the massive walls fell piece by piece exclamations arose from the ranks of the Peloponnesians that freedom had at length begun to dawn upon Greece.
THE THIRTY TYRANTS, AND THE DEATH OF SOCRATES, B.C. 404-399.