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The History of the Peloponnesian War

Page: 189

Next winter, however, the ephors under whom the treaty had been made were no longer in office, and some of their successors were directly opposed to it. Embassies now arrived from the Lacedaemonian confederacy, and the Athenians, Boeotians, and Corinthians also presented themselves at Lacedaemon, and after much discussion and no agreement between them, separated for their several homes; when Cleobulus and Xenares, the two ephors who were the most anxious to break off the treaty, took advantage of this opportunity to communicate privately with the Boeotians and Corinthians, and, advising them to act as much as possible together, instructed the former first to enter into alliance with Argos, and then try and bring themselves and the Argives into alliance with Lacedaemon. The Boeotians would so be least likely to be compelled to come into the Attic treaty; and the Lacedaemonians would prefer gaining the friendship and alliance of Argos even at the price of the hostility of Athens and the rupture of the treaty. The Boeotians knew that an honourable friendship with Argos had been long the desire of Lacedaemon; for the Lacedaemonians believed that this would considerably facilitate the conduct of the war outside Peloponnese. Meanwhile they begged the Boeotians to place Panactum in her hands in order that she might, if possible, obtain Pylos in exchange for it, and so be more in a position to resume hostilities with Athens.

After receiving these instructions for their governments from Xenares and Cleobulus and their friends at Lacedaemon, the Boeotians and Corinthians departed. On their way home they were joined by two persons high in office at Argos, who had waited for them on the road, and who now sounded them upon the possibility of the Boeotians joining the Corinthians, Eleans, and Mantineans in becoming the allies of Argos, in the idea that if this could be effected they would be able, thus united, to make peace or war as they pleased either against Lacedaemon or any other power. The Boeotian envoys were were pleased at thus hearing themselves accidentally asked to do what their friends at Lacedaemon had told them; and the two Argives perceiving that their proposal was agreeable, departed with a promise to send ambassadors to the Boeotians. On their arrival the Boeotians reported to the Boeotarchs what had been said to them at Lacedaemon and also by the Argives who had met them, and the Boeotarchs, pleased with the idea, embraced it with the more eagerness from the lucky coincidence of Argos soliciting the very thing wanted by their friends at Lacedaemon. Shortly afterwards ambassadors appeared from Argos with the proposals indicated; and the Boeotarchs approved of the terms and dismissed the ambassadors with a promise to send envoys to Argos to negotiate the alliance.

In the meantime it was decided by the Boeotarchs, the Corinthians, the Megarians, and the envoys from Thrace first to interchange oaths together to give help to each other whenever it was required and not to make war or peace except in common; after which the Boeotians and Megarians, who acted together, should make the alliance with Argos. But before the oaths were taken the Boeotarchs communicated these proposals to the four councils of the Boeotians, in whom the supreme power resides, and advised them to interchange oaths with all such cities as should be willing to enter into a defensive league with the Boeotians. But the members of the Boeotian councils refused their assent to the proposal, being afraid of offending Lacedaemon by entering into a league with the deserter Corinth; the Boeotarchs not having acquainted them with what had passed at Lacedaemon and with the advice given by Cleobulus and Xenares and the Boeotian partisans there, namely, that they should become allies of Corinth and Argos as a preliminary to a junction with Lacedaemon; fancying that, even if they should say nothing about this, the councils would not vote against what had been decided and advised by the Boeotarchs. This difficulty arising, the Corinthians and the envoys from Thrace departed without anything having been concluded; and the Boeotarchs, who had previously intended after carrying this to try and effect the alliance with Argos, now omitted to bring the Argive question before the councils, or to send to Argos the envoys whom they had promised; and a general coldness and delay ensued in the matter.


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