History of the Peloponnesian War


Thucydides. The Peloponnesian War. London, J. M. Dent; New York, E. P. Dutton. 1910.

Alcibiades further advised Tissaphernes not to be in too great a hurry to end the war, or to let himself be persuaded to bring up the Phoenician fleet which he was equipping, or to provide pay for more Hellenes, and thus put the power by land and sea into the same hands; but to leave each of the contending parties in possession of one element, thus enabling the king when he found one troublesome to call in the other.

For if the command of the sea and land were united in one hand, he would not know where to turn for help to overthrow the dominant power; unless he at last chose to stand up himself, and go through with the struggle at great expense and hazard.

The cheapest plan was to let the Hellenes wear each other out, at a small share of the expense and without risk to himself.

Besides, he would find the Athenians the most convenient partners in empire as they did not aim at conquests on shore, and carried on the war upon principles and with a practice most advantageous to the king; being prepared to combine to conquer the sea for Athens, and for the king all the Hellenes inhabiting his country, whom the Peloponnesians, on the contrary, had come to liberate.

Now it was not likely that the Lacedaemonians would free the Hellenes from the Hellenic Athenians, without freeing them also from the barbarian Mede, unless overthrown by him in the meanwhile.

Alcibiades therefore urged him to wear them both out at first, and after docking the Athenian power as much as he could, forthwith to rid the country of the Peloponnesians.

In the main Tissaphernes approved of this policy, so far at least as could be conjectured from his behaviour; since he now gave his confidence to Alcibiades in recognition of his good advice, and kept the Peloponnesians short of money, and would not let them fight at sea, but ruined their cause by pretending that the Phoenician fleet would arrive, and that they would thus be enabled to contend with the odds in their favour, and so made their navy lose its efficiency, which had been very remarkable, and generally betrayed a coolness in the war that was too plain to be mistaken.