Diodorus Siculus

BOOK XIV - The Library of History

Page 358


A Peace between the Athenians and Lacedaemonians. The Athenians disagree about the Manner of their Government. The Government by Thirty. The Cruelty of the Thirty Tyrants, and especially towards Theramenes.

BY the Dissolution of the Government at Athens (which happen'd the Seven hundred and Eightieth year current from the Destruction of Troy) the City was involv'd in an Anarchy; at that time werefour Military Tribunes appointed at Rome to execute the Consular Dignity, Caius Furius, Caius Servilius, Caius Valerius, and Numerius Fabius. And this Year was celebrated the Ninety Fourth Olympiad, in which Cocynas of Larissa was Victor. About this time the Athenians (their Power being broken) obtain'd a Peace with the Lacedaemonians, and liberty to govern according to their own Laws, upon Condition they demolish'd their Walls, which they pull'd down accordingly, but could not agree among themselves about the Form of their Government. For they that were for an Oligarchy gave their Votes for the restoring that ancient Government. But the greatest part who stood up for the Democracy, preferr'd the Government by the Senators, declaring that to be the truest Democracy.

When this banding one against another had continu'd some days; they for the Oligarchy sent to Lysander the Spartan, hoping thereby to gain the Point, in regard he was order'd (now the War was at an End) to settle the Government of the Cities, and in every Place he set up an Oligarchy. To this end they sail'd to him to Samos, where he then was, having lately taken the City. When they arriv'd and had crav'd his assistance he promis'd them his Aid; and thereupon (after he had made Thorax Governor of Samos) pass'd over to the Pireum with an hundred Sail. Then calling a General Assembly, he advis'd them to chuse Thirty Men, who should Govern the Common-wealth, and Manage all the Affairs of the City. Theramenes oppos'd this Proposal, repeating the Articles of the Peace, whereby it was agreed, That they should be govern'd according to the Laws of their own Country; and declar'd it would be a most intolerable piece of Injustice, if (against the Sacred Ties of an Oath) their Liberties must be thus ravish'd from them. Lysander answer'd, That the Athenians had first broken the League themselves, because they did not pull down their Walls within the time agreed, and grievously threaten'd Theramenes, and told him, That unless he desisted from his Oppositions against the Lacedaemonians, he would put him to Death.

Upon this, both Theramenes and the People, being in a great Fright, were forc'd by a general suffrage to abolish the Democracy: and Thirty Men were forthwith chosen to be Governors of the Common-Wealth, in Name call'd Fit Magistrates, but in Deed and in Truth nothing but Tyrants. But because the Justice and Moderation of Theramene was evidently discern'd by the People, they judg'd he would be a Bridle to the Covetousness of the rest of those plac'd over them, and thefore chose him to be one of the Thirty.

The Duty and Office of these Men was to chuse the Members of the Senate; to create Magistrates, and to make Laws for the Government of the City. But they forbore to make any Laws upon many specious pretences. Yet they fill'd the Senate and all the Places in the Magistracy with their own Creatures; who were call'd Pretors, but in truth, were meerly the Tyrants Tools.

At first they executed Justice upon Malefactors with great Severity, to the putting of them to Death: So that as yet they were well spoken of, and commended by every honest Citizen. But not long after, when they resolv'd to be Lawless, and set up an Arbitrary Power: they sent for a Garison from the Lacedaemonians, upon pretence that they would mould all things in the Government to the advantage of their Interest. For they knew very well that without a Foreign Force, they could not execute those Slaughters and Butcheries they design'd, for that all would as one Man rise up against them in their own defence.

When the Garison from Lacedaemon was come, they presently gain'd the Governor Callibius, with Bribes and other fawning and flattering Addresses. Then they singled out some of the richest Citizens, such as they thought fit, and charging them as Innovators, and Plotters against the Government, put them to Death, and consiscated their Estates. But when Theramenes oppos'd his Collegues, and others (who were Zealous for the Common-Wealth) stood up for the Defence of their Liberties; the Thirty call'd a Senate, in

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