Roman Parallel – Cato the Younger (95–46 BC)
Phocion was three years old when Socrates died in 399 and then lives through the reigns of Philip, Alexander, and dies under Cassander’s takeover of Athens. Though less well-known than his contemporary, Demosthenes, Plutarch wants us to remember him as a political leader who did the best he could with a bad situation.
- Demades – an orator, all talk and no action. Killed viciously by Cassander.
- Antipater – We also remember him from the Life of Alexander. He had been left as regent in Macedonia while Alexander campaigned. He conquered Sparta while Alexander was away and was constantly scheming against Olympias, Alexander’s mother. After Perdiccas is suddenly assassinated near Egypt, Antipater becomes the regent ruling for the king that all these successors are theoretically going to put on the throne. His son Demetrius will be important to the next generation of Successors of Alexander.
- Hyperides – another orator, all talk and no action.
- Xenocrates – A student of Socrates’s whose dialogues do not survive, he also acted as a teacher and friend to Phocion. Normally able to inspire virtue in even the most vicious man, Plutarch points out his failure to inspire any virtue in Antipater, the tyrannical Macedonian regent ruling under and after Alexander.
- Demosthenes – The most famous Greek orator ever, Plutarch wrote his life as well. His primary flaw puts Phocion’s virtues in even sharper relief. Demosthenes was a great speaker but never led on the battlefield. His words did not always win his way and he makes enemies among the Macedonians (for resisting their rule) and the Athenians (for charges of bribery)
- Leosthenes – A general, but a reckless one. He convinces Athens they can beat Antipater and gambles the entire Athenian navy and army on this fight. While he wins at first, he is ultimately killed and Athens has to accept humiliating peace terms, negotiated and even moderated by Phocion
- Philip – Philip also respects Phocion, who is one of the few Athenian generals who manages to outsmart and outmaneuver him before Philip wins completely.
- Alexander the Great – This conqueror respects Phocion and generally grants his requests as he holds him in high regard.
- Harpalus – A childhood friend of Alexander entrusted with money that he runs off with. When he arrives in Athens, the money seems to corrupt all the politicians except Phocion (Demosthenes is tried in relation to these funds not once, but twice, fined 50 talents both times, imprisoned the first time, and exiled the second time!). Harpalus claims to have brought 700 talents to Athens, but causes so many problems with his money that he runs away to Crete where he is murdered, leaving an orphan back in Athens whom Phocion helps to raise.
- Charicles – Phocion’s son-in-law, too closely associated with Harpalus, the embezzler.
- Hagnonides – The speaker who leads the fake trial against Phocion and his friends.
- Polyperchon (in some translations Polysperchon) – After the death of Antipater, this officer from Alexander’s army is named regent for Philip Arrhidaeus and Alexander IV. Antipater’s son, Cassander, is not happy with this arrangement and immediately starts to disrupt Polyperchon’s plans.
- Cassander (355-297) – Son of Antipater, who had served as regent of Macedon during Alexander’s campaigns and later served as regent after the death of Perdiccas, he did not inherit the Macedonian throne from his father but had to fight Polyperchon for it. He conquers Greece as well and, most infamously, ends the charade of the successors serving as satraps to a regent by killing the young Alexander IV and his mother and grandmother, Olympias.
- Nicanor – The general Cassander sends to lead the Macedonian garrison in Athens. Phocion refuses to lead an Athenian army against him at first, angering the Athenian citizens as well as Cassander’s main enemy, Polyperchon.
- Peiraeus – The port of Athens
- Munychia – The fortified hill overlooking the Peiraeus, sacred to Demeter.
- Keramikos district – The area between the walls and the marketplace (agora) in which most artisans have their workshops (hence Keramikos, where we get the word Ceramics because many potters worked there). Themistocles chose to live here to be close to the working class. Phocion is marched through this region to embarrass him in front of the regular citizens as he is brought to “trial.”
Outside of Athens
- Rhamnus – A city in the northeast corner of Attica strategically close to the ocean and Eubeoea. It could provide a Macedonian foothold, but an aging Phocion wins a battle and kills the Macedonian naval captain who lands there.
- Calauria – Demosthenes fled to this island off the coast of Troezen in the Peloponnesus (opposite bank of the Saronic Gulf from Athens). He poisons himself and dies at the altar.
- Celonae – Although Hyperides fled to the island of Aegina, after he was killed he was brought to Celonae, where Antipater was, to prove that he had been captured and killed. His body was later brought back to Athens for burial.
Key Vices and Virtues
- Bravery (ἀνδρεῖος) – Phocion tempers it with caution, but leads in person up to and past the age of 80!
- Justice (δικαιοσύνη) – Phocion’s realism that Athens does not have the power to resist the Macedonians makes him a great, if still ignored, advocate for justice. He wants to preserve the peace and harmony of the city, while receiving as fair a deal as he can for Athens, which will be conquered by an army four times in his life.
- Moderation (σωφροσύνη) – Sometimes also translated as “prudence,” this is not only the virtue that keeps Phocion from accepting any bribes, but also the virtue he tries to give to the Athenian people in their erratic behavior to their Macedonian overlords. His wife also practices this virtue, but his son never learns it from either parent (cf. Plato’s Meno which examines whether or not virtue can be taught and looks at famous leaders whose sons did not have the same virtues as their fathers).
- Austerity (αὐστηρόν) – Not one of Aristotle’s virtues, but one Plutarch takes pains to highlight. Whether it’s walking barefoot, wearing fewer clothes than necessary, or controlling even things like laughter and crying, Phocion struck everyone as toughest first on himself, and then only secondarily hard on others.
- Simplicity (ἀφελείᾳ) – While the ancient Greeks (and Romans) never considered poverty a virtue as the Christians later did, there was a respect for the simplicity of knowing your limits. This knowledge of what is necessary for life makes Phocion (and his wife, see section 19) reliable and incorruptible.
Outline of Plutarch’s Biography of Phocion
C. 1 – Fortune and Virtue
- Demades used to excuse himself for caving to Antipater and the Macedonians by claiming that he was at the helm of a shipwrecked state. Plutarch says this isn’t true of someone who only spoke, but is true of Phocion.
- Demades was, in Antipater’s words, just a sacrifical victim after the sacrifice: tongue and guts. Phocion’s virtue, however, was overshadowed by Greece’s obscurity under the Macedonian shadow.
- So when Fortune conflicts with good men, our opinion of their virtue suffers.
C. 2 – Reasonable Politics in Unreasonable Times
- The citizen body will attack a noble citizen in prosperous times, but also in difficult straits. Calamities make men bitter and little can be said to assuage them, and any difficilt words will be taken as blame.
- True words can sting in a sore plight. False etymology: menoeikes.
- Thus it is most difficult for a city, because the politician who tells her what she wants to hear ruins her and the one who won’t court her favor she attacks.
- The sun, on its ecliptic, finds the mean that allows for flourishing on earth. A politician must find this mean between the popular and the healthy choices.
- This mixture between reasonableness and austerity pays off in the long run with a virtuous citizenry sacrificing for the common good, but it is difficult. It is also the way God rules the universe.
C. 3 – Cato’s Differences and the Shape of Their Characters
- Cato his parallel, Cicero comments he acted like he lived in Plato’s Republic and not among the filth of Romulus (ad. Attic. II, 1, 8), like fruit out of season…
- Admired but not used, the old-fashioned character of Cato appeared among corrupt customs and debased morals.
- Cato’s native city not fully defeated, like Phocion’s, but in the midst of a raging storm and never given a place at the rudder or as pilot. Nonetheless, he fought Fortune hard, but she overthrew the Republic by other means and after Cato came so close to winning.
- Both were good men devoted to the state. And men differ even in their virtues: the bravery of Alcibiades is not the same as that of Epaminondas. Wisdom differe in Themistocles and Aristides. Justice not the same for Numa or Agesilaus.
- But with their different virtues, their natures (Cato’s and Phocion’s) were nonetheless the same general shape: a blend of severity and kindness, caution and bravery, care for others and fearlessness for themselves, eager pursuit of justice and careful avoidance of baseness.
C. 4 – Phocion’s Lineage and Nature
- Phocion’s lineage not base, proved primarily by him being a student of Plato’s and later Xenocrates’s
- Austere in his habits. No outer cloak execpt in the most severe weather, generally no shoes. Rarely laughed or cried.
C. 5 – Phocion’s Dour Approach
- Kind nature hidden under a forbidding face. When someone made fun of his frowning face he reminded them “These frowns have harmed no Athenian, but how many have died because of the laughter of these men?”
- His brevity was too the point, but could sometimes come across as curt, imperious, or abrupt. Phocion’s language has “the most meaning in the fewest words” (GRK: οὕτως ὁ Φωκίωνος λόγος πλεῖστον ἐν ἐλαχίστῃ λέξει νοῦν εἶχε). Someone commented that Demosthenes was the best orator, but Phocion the most fearsome (δεινότατος)
- Just as the most valubale coin contains the most worth in the smallest coin, so should speech mean the most from the least (σημαίνειν ἀπʼ ὀλίγων). When asked what he was thinking about before addressing the assembly, he responded that he was thinking how he could shorten his speech to the Athenians.
- Demosthenes respected him, calling him the “pruning-knife” of his speeches, either because of his words or his character, because a nod from a good man is more powerful than any number of elaborate sentences.
C. 6 – Rising in the Ranks
- A follower of Chabrias, he quickly balanced that general’s uneven and violent temper. He threw away his life by trying to force a landing too quickly against Chios (357 BC), when Chios, Rhodes, and Byzantium revolted against Athens.
- This partnership with Chabrias advanced him through the ranks and he saw action in most Athenian affairs, especially in 376 at Naxos when the Athenians regained control of the sea from the Spartans. Phocion commanded the left wing.
- Nearly 30 years since the end of the Peloponnesian War and they won the victory during the Eleusinian Mysteries.
C. 7 – Reliable in Relationships
- Chabrias sends him to the allies to collect tribute and offers twenty ships. Phocion insists he only needs one to confer with allies (more if he’d be waging war). He treats the allies justly and returns with more ships and money than he left with.
- Phocion acted like a son to Chabrias, taking care of his relatives after Chabrias’s death, especially his son Ctesippus, whom he tried to raise into a good man.
- He noticed the widening gap between speakers and leaders. Some only spoke to the people and other led the wars. He longed to be like Perciles, Aristides, and Solon who commanded in the field and spoke before the Assembly. After all, Athena was a warrior who wielded wisdom as well.
C. 8 – Phocion v. The Athenian People
- He wanted his policies to promote peace for Athens, and he held the office of general more than any other man without every having to canvas for votes, holding the office 45 times.
- Phocion opposed the Athenian people more often than anyone else, because they wanted their most severe and serious citizen to lead in battle, strengthening himself against the desires (βουλήσεσιν) and impulses (ὁρμαῖς) of the people.
- They receive an oracle from Delphi stating that all the Athenians agree but one man. Phocion stands up and identifies himself as that man, who always disliked what they did. Once when everyone seemed to agree with him, he thought he might be wrong.
C. 9 – Quips and Repartee
- Phocion refuses to contribute to a public sacrifice when he has not first paid his own personal debts.
- A couple anecdotes and quips he threw back at the Athenian people.
- A couple more
- He once advised the Athenians to fight the Boeotians with words, in which they were superior, rather than arms, in which they were inferior. When they would barely listen to him, he responded: “You may vote to force me to do something against my will, but you can never force me to speak against my judgement” (GRK: “ἐμέ,” εἶπεν, “ὑμεῖς ἃ μὴ βούλομαι ποιεῖν βιάσασθαι δύνασθε, λέγειν δὲ ἃ μὴ δεῖ παρὰ γνώμην οὐκ ἀναγκάσετε.)
- He made fun of a fat man encouraging them to war by pointing out that this leader could barely get through the speech, how would he act under arms before the enemy?
- Alexander demanded ten Athenian citizens and Phocion encouraged their surrender. He was later harshly criticized for this, but commented that the people never listened to his good advice anyway.
C. 10 – Harsh Before the People, Kind to Every Person
- Another anecdote before the assembly. Alcibiades should have shaved his beard.
- It’s difficult to see in all these harsh instances how Phocion earned the nickname The Good (irony?)
- A man, like wine, can be both pleasant and austere (harsh? GRK: αὐστηρὸν)
- He was harsh, obstinate and inexorable (τραχὺς ὢν καὶ δυσεκβίαστος καὶ ἀπαραίτητος) so that he could struggle FOR his country. Outside of the Assembly he showed himself humane and accessible to all (εὐμενῆ πᾶσι καὶ κοινὸν καὶ φιλάνθρωπον). He even helped his enemies when they fell into distress
- Once his friends told him he was helping a worthless man, he commented that the good didn’t need help (the physician works with the sick).
C. 11 – Athenian Allies Prefer Phocion
- When the allies saw Athenians approaching who were NOT led by Phocion, they were treated as enemies. But they conducted Phocion in to their cities like a hero.
C. 12 – Euboea Asks for Help Against Philip
- Phocion led a small contingent to Euboea hoping to be joined by the islanders themselves in revolting against tyrants Philip had put into place (350 BC).
- The whole island had been corrupted by bribery or full of traitors. So he set himself up in an advantageous position and prepared to fight his way out.
- As some men ran away, Phocion let them go since they’d not help in the battle and back at home their consciences would keep them quiet.
C. 13 – Battle in Euboea? (Zaretra?)
- He sacrificed and told his men to wait until he gave the order to attack. The enemy sallied forth and approached with his mercenaries. The cavalry engage in a skirmish that causes the leader to flee.
- But the infantry fall upon the Athenian camp just as the sacrifice is finished and the Athenians burst out of their camp. Then Phocion orders his phalanx to halt and regroup, while he and a smaller group fall upon the main body of the enemy.
- The battle is fierce, but one soldier manages to call back the cavalry and the Athenians win.
- Phocion expels Plutarch (the tyrant, not the author of this life) and takes the strategic fort at Zaretra, on the narrowest part of Euboea. Then he released the prisoner, afraid of what the orators would convince the Athenian people to do to them.
C. 14 – Phocion v. Philip
- Once Phocion left, everyone realized what a great leader he’d been. Molossus, his replacement, was captured by the enemy.
- By 340 BC (ten years skipped), Philip approaches the Hellespont to wrest this strategic location from Athenian influence. The orators send Chares out as a commander and utterly fails to protect their allies or prosecute the war he’d been ordered into. The allies don’t trust him.
- The Athenians grow angry with the allies, but Phocion points out they should not be angry with those not trusting, but with those causing the distrust. “For these (bad generals) make you feared even by those who can only be saved by your help.” So, they send Phocion with another force and Byzantium is saved… for now.
- A friend of Phocion from his Academy days, Leon, was one of the foremost virtuous men among the Byzantines. Rather than letting the Athenians camp outside the city, they invited them all in.
- Thus, Phocion proved that Philip could be repulsed and even pushed back, as Phocion invaded his territory and harassed his cities until he was wounded and had to sail home.
C. 15 – Help for Megara
- Megara asks to be saved from Philip, as a small political faction is trying to hand the city over to Philip (ca. 343?). Phocion, wanting to beat the Boeotians to the punch, called an early assembly, passed the motion and immediately marched out to the aid of Megara.
- He fortified their port (Nisaea) and even connected it to the city with their own “long walls” protecting them from enemies on land by giving them permanent connection to the sea.
C. 16 – Philip at The Helm
- While Phocion was away with the Athenian allies in 340 BC, the frayed relationship with Philip finally snapped and the Athenians chose generals to engage against Philip directly. Phocion returned and tried to alter the Athenian course to accept Philip’s peace terms.
- A haranguer asked Phocion, “Why dare to change their mind when they’re already in arms?” “I can even though I know that I rule in war and people like you rule in peace” Demosthenes convinced the Athenians to fight and then wanted to ensure the battle be as far from Athens as possible. Phocion said they should focus not on where to fight, but how to win…
- But defeat came at Chaironeia in 338 BC, and people made the demagogue Charidemus general, but finally the Areopagus and the good citizens stepped in to put Phocion in charge once again.
- Phocion again wanted to accept the kind offers of Philip, but Phocion did not favor going to Corinth to join that league until he knew what Philip was going to ask of the Greeks.
- In Corinth, the cities vote to invade Persia with Philip leading, but the Athenians regret it when called upon to donate ships and men to Philip’s army. Phocion reminded them that their ancestors sometimes commanded, and sometimes were under command but performed well in both places to save not only their own city but all the Greeks (see Themistocles, Aristides, and Cimon).
- But Philip was dead just two years later (336 BC) and Phocion tried to prevent the people from sacrificing thank offerings tot he gods, considering ignoble to celebrate when the army that had defeated them at Chaeroneia had lost only one person.
C. 17 – Alexander and Phocion
- Now Demosthenes attacked Alexander, who was already marching on Thebes. Phocion asked him “Why provoke a man so savage who is reaching for great glory? I will not allow my own citizens to die even if they want to.”
- Thebes was destroyed in 335 BC and Alexander summoned the most famous Athenian orators to his presence.
- Phocion recommends they concede because they have enough to mourn in the fate of Thebes without needing to add to it.
- The first decree from the Athenians Alexander rejected, but the second, brought by Phocion, a man Philip had admired, he listened to Phocion’s counsel and took the war from Greece to Persia.
- Alexander advises the Athenians to look out for their own affairs as well because, if Alexander dies, the Athenians will likely have to lead again. Phocion became a personal friend of Alexander.
- Alexander used the standard greeting in letters, “chairein” (joy) only with Phocion after he had conquered Darius. Plutarch lists two sources for this story.
C. 18 – Alexander’s Gift
- Most admit that Alexander gave Phocion 100 talents, which Phocion could not understand how so much money was being given to one man. The bearers of the gift replied “you alone are a man of honor and worth”
- The messengers accompany him home and see his simple life: his own wife kneading their bread, Phocion drawing the water himself to wash his feet, they pressed the money on him telling him it is shameful that a friend of the king live impoverished like this. Phocion pointed to a poor old man walking in a dirty cloak and asked the messengers if they thought Phocion inferior to this man.
- Certainly not, said the messengers, and yet what little he has is sufficient, pointed out Phocion. I can’t use this money, and if I do use it, it will bring calumny upong me and the Athenians. The man who rejects the sum is richer than he who offers it.
- Alexander complains to Phocion that he cannot consider a friend to be someone who won’t accept gifts from him (or who wants nothing from him). In that case, Phocion asked for the release of some Greek prisoners currently imprisoned in Sardis.
- Alexander set these men free, and in 324 when Alexander sent Craterus back with the Macedonian veterans he told Craterus to give Phocion the revenues of one of four Asian cities: Cius, Gergithus, Mylasa, or Elaea. Phocion refused again and Alexander was dead by Summer of 323. In Plutarch’s own day, Phocion’s house is still pointed out to tourists, plain and simple but marked out now with bronze disks.
C. 19 – Phocion’s Wife
- We know little about his first wife, but she had a reputation for prudence (σωφροσύνῃ), simplicity (ἀφελείᾳ) and was equal to Phocion in probity (χρηστότητι). (Cf. Penelope as Odysseus’s equal).
- Once the actor playing a queen in a new tragedy demanded a large number of attendants in expensive array. He held up the production of the show with his demands and the choregus, whose job it was to foot the bill, pushed him out on stage and pointed out that Phocion’s wife was only ever accompanied by one servant. Putting a host of them before the Athenians eyes would be the undoing of the women of Athens.
- The audience heard him and applauded. When a woman was showing off her jewelry, Phocion’s wife replied that her ornament was Phocion, now serving as general for the 20th time.
C. 20 – Phocion’s Son Competes
- His son, Phocus, competed in horse-vaulting in the Pan-Athenaic festival and Phocion encouraged it not from a love of victory but because of the effect bodily training has on young men, his own son being a bit soft and irregular in his habits.
- Seeing the sumptuousness of the victory banquets, Phocion warned his son not to let his friends ruin his victory. Shortly after this, he enrolled him in the Spartan Agogē to make his son tougher. (See Lycurgus, Agesilaus, and Agoge episode)
- This bothered the Athenians who saw it as an insult to Athenian ways of living. One orator (Demades) asked him, “Let’s introduce Spartan laws to the Athenians… I’ll support the motion!” Phocion responded, “Yes, with your perfume and fancy clothes it would look wonderful for you to recommend public mess-halls and praise Lycurgus.”
C. 21 – Harpalus
- When Alexander asks for triremes, the Athenians want to refuse but call on Phocion to advise them. His advice: “Either be superior in arms or be friends with those who are superior” (i.e. don’t make an enemy of Alexander because he can destroy you). When a young, fresh orator stands up to make his speeches, but is already bold (θρασύν) and loquacious (λάλον), Phocion tells him to be silent as he is already a newly-acquired slave of the people.
- When Harpalus absconds from Asia and comes to Attica with tons of talents (cf. Demosthenes 25), many of the orators pick up some petty cash from him. But Harpalus offers Phocion 700 talents and everything else he had at Phocion’s disposal.
- But Phocion told him he would regret trying to corrupt the city in this way, even though this was an unopoular opinion to hold as the Athenians fawned over Harpalus. Later, though, the orators switch sides and attack Harpalus so as not to be under suspicion and Phocion, who had received nothing from him, wants to include him in his calculations about the common good.
- Though Harpalus couldn’t corrupt Phocion directly, he did grow quite close to Phocion’s son-in-law Charicles…bringing some infamy on Phocion’s family.
C. 22 – The End of Harpalus
- When Harpalus’s favorite courtesan dies, he puts Charicles in charge of building an expensive monument to her memory.
- The tomb is still visible today on the road from Athens to Eleusis, not worth the thirty talents Harpalus supposedly paid for it. So, Antipater demands Harpalus be surrendered by the Athenian people. He flees to Crete where he is assassinated. Phocion and Charicles then raise the daughter whose parents now were dead (Harpalus and the courtesan).
- Phocion refused to help Charicles when he was brought to trial for being close with Harpalus, telling him, “I made you my son-in-law for all just purposes.” (i.e. your actions weren’t just so I’m not helping you). With the first rumors of Alexander’s death, Phocion tried to persuade the Athenians against revolution.
- Even if he is dead today, he’ll still be dead tomorrow and the next day, so we should deliberate in peace and safety.
C. 23 – Leosthenes and the Lamian War
- Leosthenes, who dragged the city into the Lamian War (Plutarch’s perspective… others think he could have held off Antipater), asked Phocion what good he had done the city. Phocion points out that the Athenians were buried at home during his generalships.
- As Leosthenes boasts, Phocion calls his speeches towering cypress trees which bear no fruit. Hypereides asked him when he would counsel the Athenians to go to war? Phocion’s response: “When young men hold their ranks, the rich contribute their share, and the orators keep their hands out of the public money.”
- He admired Leosthenes’s preparations as good for a sprint, but not for a long run (which war always is). It was ALL the ships, men, and money Athens had.
- At first, Leosthenes won some battles and even drove Antipater’s forces into Lamia; Phocion still stands by his advice.
C. 24 – Leosthenes Dies
- Leosthenes killed, but the Athenians afraid to put Phocion in charge thinking he would negotiate a truce. Someone pretends to be a close friend of Phocion and says the Athenians should spare him and send another general in his place. Phocion denies ever knowing that person.
- But I’ll befriend you now since you have advised something to my advantage.
- When the Athenians continued to insist that they field an army, Phocion asked everyone under 60 to grab provisions for 5 days and follow him out of the assembly. When they objected, he pointed out that he was 80 years old as their general, so it would make sense to have men so young in his command.
C. 25 – Macedonians Lands in Attica
- A Macedonian naval captain lands at Rhamnus, in Attica, (see important places above) and Phocion leads men out to repulse the Macedonian and mercenary army. As everyone advised Phocion in how to attack or defend, he commented that there were too many generals and not enough soldiers.
- After correcting a soldier who didn’t follow orders, Phocion attacks at defeats Micion (the Macedonian naval captain) soundly, slaying Micion himself.
- The Greeks also won in Thessaly, defeating Antipater’s captain there.
C. 26 – Antipater and Craterus March Down on Athens
- But Craterus crossed over from Asia (no end of Macedonian forces) and the Greeks were defeated at Crannon. With Antipater’s generous peace offers, the army melted away and abandoned their fight for freedom.
- So, Antipater now had only to face Athens, and Demosthenes and Hypereides left the city. Demades, an orator who’d been convicted seven times of introducing illegal measures, and had been deprived of his voting rights and his rights to speak in the Assembly) obtained temporary immunity and offered that ambassadors be sent to Antipater with full powers to ask for peace.
- The people asked Phocion, the only man whom they could trust. “If you’d believed me before, we wouldn’t be in this position” But he was chosen as one of the ambassadors and sent off to Antipater camped in the Cadmeia in Thebes, preparing to march on Athens.
- Phocion offers that the Macedonians remain in Thebes and settle peace there. Craterus vehemently disagrees, but Antipater allows it as a favor to Phocion. But, as Leosthenes had been prideful at Lamia, so Antipater now returns the favor and say that they have to leave the other terms of peace to the conquerors.
C. 27 – Antipater’s Peace Terms
- Xenocrates and Phocion return to the Athenians, the terms are approved, and they go back to Thebes. Xenocrates had a reputation not just for virtue, but for removing vices in those he was around, so noble was his character.
- Antipater, though, was immune in his wickedness (ruthless and hatred of the goodness – ἀγνωμοσύνῃ τινὶ καὶ μισαγαθίᾳ). Antipater greets the other ambassadors, but ignores Xenocrates. Xenocrates interprets this as shame for his plans against Athens. Antipater also would not let him speak, interrupting, contradicting, and finally silencing him.
- Antipater’s terms: give up Demosthenes and Hypereides, go back to requiring property ownership for your democracy, and accept a Macedonian garrison in the Peiraeus. On top of all this, there would be a fine to cover the costs to Macedon for the war.
- The ambassadors accepted these terms, considering them humane, except Xenocrates who said if the Athenians were slaves then Antipater dealt moderately, but if they were in fact free men he dealth harshly. When Phocion requests that they drop the garrison, Antipater says he can only gratify Phocion in the things that will not ruin him (and Athens).
- In another version of the story, Antipater considers it if Phocion will personally guarantee to keep the city quiet and stir up no trouble, but Phocion hesitates…
C. 28 – The Garrison and the Gods
- The Macedonian garrison is led by a friend of Phocion’s but arrives on an inauspicious day—during the Eleusinian Mysteries. Disturbing the sacred rites didn’t bring protection and reaction from the gods.
- Rather, everyone remembering that in Themistocles’s time, the gods had been wiling to help the Athenians. Now, they accepted with indifference the most difficult sorrows inflicted on Athens. An oracle from Dodona had earlier warned them to “guard the summits of Artemis” (the protectress of Munychia, the acropolis of the Periaeus) so that strangers do not sieze them.
- Other omens, everything involved in the mystic rites took on a sallow, deathly color. A man washing a pig for the goddess Demeter was attacked (by a shark) and eaten from the waist down, clearly an omen that the Athenians would lose the lower part of the city…
- The garrison did not harm the inhabitants, but 12,000 citizens lost the vote because they didn’t own property. Some of these were provided a new start in Thrace by Antipater.
C. 29 – The Cost of Peace and Quiet
- Demosthenes dies in Calauria (opposite of the Saronic Gulf?) and Hypereides at Cleonae (LOCATION) (cf. Demosthenes 28-30), the Athenians wished for Philip and Alexander. When Antigonus was killed much later (301 BC), and Lysimachus and Seleucus began to harass Athens again, a peasant digging in Phrygia was asked what he was doing and he said “Digging for Antigonus”
- Antipater actually a tyrant, though he hid it under the guise of a common man in simple mode of life.
- Phocion does receive exemption for some who would have been exiled. He also arranged for the exiled to remain in the Peloponnesus instead of being driven beyond the standard boundaries (Ceraunian Mountains and Promontory of Taenarum)
- Phocion does keept he city in peace and quiet for a time, sending the busybodies home to tend their own fields, and raising up urbane and graceful men leading the Athenians. When Xenocrates pays the tax of a resident alien (i.e. an inhabitant but not a citizen), Phocion offers him citizenship by special decree. Xenocrates refuses since he had voted against this form of government when serving as an ambassador.
C. 30 – Phocion and Demades
- Menyllus offers Phocion money, but he refuses again saying he had no reason to take it from Alexander (cf. C. 18), so he certainly didn’t need it now. When he asked him to take it for his son, Phocion responded that if he lived a life of simplicity (σωφρονῇ) then he already had enough, but as he behaves now, nothing is sufficient. When Antipater asked him to do something unfitting, he repsonded that he could not be both his friend and his flatterer.
- Antipater claimed two friends in Athens: Phocion and Demades. The first he could never persuade to take anything and the other was never satisfied by Antipater’s gifts. Phocion lived in noble poverty (καὶ μέντοι Φωκίων μὲν ὡς ἀρετὴν ἐπεδείκνυτο τὴν πενίαν) even to old age, while Demades paraded around his illegally-gotten gains.
- Chorus-leaders were forbidden from letting foreigners serve in the chorus, the penalty was 1000 drachmas. When Demades presented a chorus of 100 foreigners, he publicly brought the fine for all of them at the same time. He told his son that no one paid attention to his own wedding, but now that his son was getting married kings and other powers took notice.
- Phocion continued to reject the Athenian request to ask for the garrison to be removed. He did persuade Antipater to accept later payment of the fine.
- The Athenians send Demades instead to ask Antipater to take away the garrison. When Demades arrives (with his son), Antipater is on his deathbed and Cassander is already ruling. Cassander had uncovered a letter from Demades inviting Antigonus to come take Greece, now hanging by an “old and rotten thread” as he called Antipater.
- So Cassander arrests Demades, kills his son in front of him, and then turned around and insulted Demades before killing him too.
C. 31 – Antipater Dies; Second War of the Diadochoi
- Antipater dies, Cassander not given power but usurps it anyway and sends Nicanor to replace Menyllus before any Athenians know that Antipater is dead (319 BC).
- The Athenians think Phocion had kept this information from them, but Phocion ignores them. Befriending Nicanor he also cultivated a leader who owas milder and more gracious to the Athenians. He even persuaded him to fund some games and festivals.
C. 32 – Nicanor Attacks from the Peiraeus
- Polysperchon, the one Antipater had actually put in charge, still had Philip Arrhidaeus with him and announced through a letter to the Athenians that the king restored their democracy of universal male citizen suffrage.
- This was a ploy to get rid of Phocion, who had led the polis so quietly, but Polysperchon couldn’t get his way unless Phocion was banished. Bringing back universal male suffrage meant the demagogues had more power now and could sway the people with rewards and promsies.
- Nicanor tries to speak before the assembly, under Phocion’s protection, but one citizen attempt to arrest him. When Phocion is blamed he says he would rather suffer a wrong than inflict one (cf. Socrates).
- Phocion, in Plutarch’s opinion, trusted too much in Nicanor’s good faith. In fact, Nicanor was planning to disrupt the peace in Athens.
- Finally, the people put together an army and put Phocion in charge of it, and then he notices that Nicanor is fortifying his position in the Peiraeus with trenches.
C. 33 – Taking Sides – Polysperchon or Cassander?
- With the city divided in half, Alexander, the son of Polysperchon comes down with an army in theory to help Nicanor but really to take the city himself.
- Phocion was now deposed from his command and other generals chosen. Now the Athenians didn’t just have to fight the Macedonians, but to take sides: Cassander or Polysperchon.
- Phocion takes Polysperchon’s side and sets out from the city with his friends.
- The Athenians try to denouce Phocion to Polysperchon through an embassy and Phocion arrives at Polysperchon at the same time as the Athenian embassy.
- Polysperchon now finds himself in a weird position where friends of Antipater now became enemies of Polysperchon (I don’t understand this…), so Deinarchus, Phocion’s friend and one of Antipater’s most important agents in Greece, approaches Polysperchon and is immediately siezed and put to death.
- Polysperchon wants to listen to the Athenian embassy, but ignores or interrupts Phocion every time he speaks. Phocion gets the message and stops talking.
- Weird drama I don’t understand.
C. 34 – The “Trial” of Phocion and Friends
- A guard placed around Phocion and his remaining friends, and evnetually taken back to Athens for “trial” but really death.
- They were publicly dragged through the Keramikos district on wagons and brought to the theater where they gathered an Assembly not of citizens but of everyone: slaves, foreigners, men and women.
- The letter of the king (Arrhidaeus?) was read aloud in which he had already judged these men to be traitors but that the citizens should give the sentence for this crime. The best citizens wept to see Phocion in such straits. One citizen asked that, since the king entursted this decision to the citizens, the slaves and foreigners should leave (why not mention women? obvious? they’re allowed to watch politics even though they don’t vote?)
- Those gathered would not obey that suggestion and cried out for the prisoners to be stoned, calling them “haters of the people” (μισοδήμους). When no one got up to speak on their behalf, Phocion rose and said “Do you wish to put us to death justly or unjustly?” Someone responds “Justly” and he asks, “How is this posisble unless you hear me?”
- No one wants to listen, but he steps closer and tells them “I admit my guilt and choose death as its penalty, but the men with me are not guilty, so why put them to death?” Response: “Because they’re your friends!” at which Phocion sat down, silent.
C. 35 – The Verdict
- When the edict had been read aloud, some wanted to add that Phocion should be tortured before he was killed and insisted the rack be brought into the theater. Hagnonides, the demagogue leading this proceeding, promised to do this for Callimedon (who?) but refused to do this for Phocion, mostly because Cleitus (who?) disapproved.
- Instead of raising their hands, the entire theater jumped to its feet to approve the proposal of death for these men: Phocion, Nicocles, Thudippus, Hegemon, and Pythocles. Three others were explicitly condemned to death in absentia (including Demetrius of Phalerum).
C. 36 – Phocion’s Execution
- While the other men wept, Phocion’s face looked as it always had when he left the assembly, and many were amazed at his calmness and granduer of spirit (ἐθαύμαζον τὴν ἀπάθειαν καὶ μεγαλοψυχίαν τοῦ ἀνδρός.)
- His enemies continued to taunt him as he was led to prison and spat in his face. Phocion asked the magistrates to stop this indecorous behavior. As they entered, they saw the executioner preparing the hemlock.
- What message did he have for his son? “Cherish no resentment against the Athenians”. Nicocles asks to drink first, and Phocion allows him, though it will cause Phocion more suffering to watch his friend die.
- The drug runs short and the executioner demands another payment of twelve drachmas to make another mixture. In the delay, Phocion asks why he must pay for the privilege of execution and has one of his friends give the executioner the money.
C. 37 – Phocion Buried (Secretly) at His Own Hearth
- Early May 318 BC, Phocion dies and the Athenians fall into further disrespect of the gods since it was sacrilege to execute prisoners on a festival day (cf. Plato’s Crito where Socrates is given the chance to escape because of a holiday).
- Phocion carried beyond the limits of Attica and burned by fires from Megara. Rejected by Athens even in death.
- His wife erected a cenotaph on the spot where he was burned and poured libations there. She cacrried his bones back to her house and buried them by his hearth, hoping they would one day be restored to the sepulchre of his fathers “when the Athenians regain their senses.”
C. 38 – Phocion’s Reinstatement
- When they realized, through later events, what a patron of justice and moderation (ἐπιστάτην καὶ φύλακα σωφροσύνης καὶ δικαιοσύνης) he had been, they build a bronze statue in his honor and give him a public burial. Hagnonides, his main accuser, later put to death. Phocion’s son avenged his father on two other men, Epicurus and Demophilus.
- Phocion’s son did not turn out well: he purchased a prostitute out of a brothel to make her his wife. Phocion reminded all the Greeks of the fate of Socrates. The sin and misfortune of Athens were teh same in both instances (ὡς ὁμοιοτάτης ἐκείνῃ τῆς ἁμαρτίας ταύτης καὶ δυστυχίας τῇ πόλει γενομένης).
- Phocion in Paint
- Dryden’s Translation of Plutarch’s Life of Phocion
- Anne White’s Study Guide for Phocion at Ambleside Online