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Laispodias Andronymios PAA 600730.

After almost one hundred years of uninterrupted democratic rule the hitherto dormant oligarchic opposition in Athens managed to emerge triumphant in a dramatic series of events culminating in the establishment of the Four Hundred, whose short-lived regime lasted approximately four months, from June to September 411 BC. Twenty years of war, an unprecedented military disaster in Sicily two years earlier, the permanent presence of the enemy in Attica, the systematic ravaging of the Attic countryside, and the subsequent denial of access to their farms and estates in the country had begun to tell on the Athenian folk. The wealthiest strata in Athens felt the pinch to such an extent that they thought airing their grievances and lodging complaints against the ineffective leadership and mainstream politicians would not do anymore. Urgent action needed to be taken and some individuals had concrete ideas of how to overcome the crisis, namely through the abolition of the current constitution and the establishment of an oligarchy. (1) The scope and the magnitude of such an undertaking clearly impressed Thucydides who handsomely appraised the make-up of this group. (2)

Out of the four hundred individuals who got involved in the coup the names of approximately only two dozen have come down to us. (3) Although the leaders of the oligarchic coup are briefly portrayed by Thucydides in the eighth book of his Histories, we would like to know more about the less prominent, but by no means unimportant, figures, to whom only occasional references are made in our sources. Laispodias' case is an interesting one, in that although his family belonged to the Athenian elite and had probably played and important enough role in public life to secure him a place on the board of generals, he himself denounced the established political order and mainstream politics to embark on an ambitious, and at the same time highly risky, enterprise. Perhaps Thucydides had Laispodias in mind as well when he remarked that citizens beyond suspicion took part in the coup, judging from their previous political record. (4)

Name and family history

As we learn from Theognostos' Kanones, Laispodias probably came from a well-established family. (5) His father's name has been the cause of great confusion and bewilderment, especially among earlier scholars. (6) Raubitschek asserted that 'the addition Andronymios means only that Laispodias was a proper name.' (7) However, since the publication of Develin's article, the patronymic [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], genitive of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII];, has been widely accepted. (8) Develin points out that the fact that there is no other individual in Attic prosopography bearing this strange name should not deter us from accepting it as real. Indeed, Attic names beginning with [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], other than [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], are extremely rare. LGPN records only three persons named [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII];, (9) and two persons bearing the name [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]; one lived in the 4th century (10) and the other in the 3rd, in Ramnous. (11)

It has been pointed out that the second part of the name Laispodias may derive from the nouns [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]; (ash), or [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (haste). (12) There are, however, more possibilities. The name could derive from the adjective [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]; which means grey, or the verb [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] which means either to pound, smite, crush or have sexual intercourse. (13) In the passive [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], it denotes women or boys having sex. (14) Finally, it can also mean to eat greedily, devour. (15) The scholiast to Aristophanes' Birds 1569 apparently understood the name Laispodias as having sexual connotations:

As to the first part, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]-, it means 'very', as in the words AmaKanpoc 'very lustful', and [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] 'prostitute' (LSJ).

The statement in Theognostos' [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] that Laispodias belonged to a distinguished Athenian family seems to be corroborated through an inscription with a dedication at the Akropolis, dated about 500 BC. (17) It runs: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. The inscription is written by the artist Kalon and the object of the dedication may have been a bronze utensil, as the word hieron indicates. The name of the dedicator [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]; could be a short form of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], (18) but it is possible that Spoudis may well have been the actual name. (19)

A generation later, another family member makes his appearance in Athenian politics. On an ostrakon found in the Athenian Agora we read: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. Two restorations have been proposed: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. (20) The ostrakon provides us with Laispodias' deme, Coile, of the Hippothontis tribe. Given the rarity of the name, Vanderpool and Avery have rightly assumed that the people involved in the dedication and ostracism belong to the same family, Laispodias being the son of the dedicator Spoudis. (21) Nevertheless, dating the ostrakon has proved more troublesome. Vanderpool has suggested the 480s on grounds of letter forms only. LGPN (s.v. AaianoSia; (3)) is more ambitious, giving a date between 485-80, whereas Lang, more tentatively, believes that 'it belongs by letter shapes to the early part of the 5th century.' (22) In fact, it is questionable whether dating an ostrakon based solely on letter forms can be that accurate. Perhaps it would be more justifiable if we abstained from giving the ostrakon a more precise date than the first half of the 5th century. (23)

In the first half of the 4th century, probably around 370 BC, the name Laispodias occurs in a list of councillors. (24) Vanderpool has suggested that if it is not the same person as the oligarch, then it is probably a descendant of his. (25) The first four letters can be read in the inscription, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], thus rendering Vanderpool's suggestion more plausible, given the rarity of this name. In Meritt and Traill's article he is mentioned as Anaphlystios (Antiochis 10), and the assumption is made that the general in 414/13 also came from the Antiochis tribe, in which case we have an occurrence of double representation in the strategia, the second strategos from Antiochis in that year being Conon Timotheou Anaphlystios (Thuc. 7.31.4). (26) This, however, is not a necessary conclusion since the name could have passed to the deme Anaphlystos through marriage. (27) It is conceivable that a sister of the oligarch, or her daughter, may have been given in marriage to a local family, perhaps of lower social status, so the councillor, who could have been born in the 410s, could have been the oligarch's sister's grandson. Sundwall thought that this person came from the Piraeus, but it is clear that in the inscription the name is inscribed under the demesmen of Anaphlystos. (28)

Laispodias' entry into politics

Laispodias may have launched his political career in the 420s or early 410s. A speech, titled [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], written by Antiphon the orator, is possibly connected with Laispodias' activities as travelling commissioner, appointed by the Athenian state, presumably to ensure that tax contributions were duly paid and confederate regulations and obligations well observed. (29) This speech has been variously dated. Blass opted for 418 BC on the grounds that there is no reference to Laispodias prior to that date. (30) Gilbert related the speech to his generalship in 414, but from Thucydides' narrative it does not follow that the raid involved any adverse military development; it was rather a routine mission with no major engagements, so it is difficult to see how a trial could have arisen from this expedition. (31) Avery dates it to about mid-420s, (32) on the grounds that Harpocration mentions the speech in connection with the [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], delivered in the context of the reassessment of the allies' tribute in 425/4, and that both speeches seem to deal with allied tribute quotas. (33) This is not necessary. Besides, while the title [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is indicative of its content, i.e. disputes over tribute, (34) that of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] does not seem to fall into the same category. It would then be better to assign the speech to the late 420s or early 410s as precision is unattainable.

The crucial piece of information comes from Harpocration, where in the entry [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (cf. s.v. [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) the above-mentioned speech is quoted beside the [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], followed by the comment that in both speeches references were made on the Athenian overseers. Harpocration and the Suda [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] draw a comparison between the Spartan harmosts and the Athenian episkopoi, but it is unlikely that it was in the overseers' power to exercise direct and extensive control over the affairs and administration of a confederate city, as it was at the harmosts' discretion to do so; however, some personal interference should not be ruled out. (35) Indeed, an Athenian decree, formerly thought to have been passed probably in 447 or 446 BC, but now dated to 425/4 BC, stipulates that the episkopos, along with the Athenian council and the magistrates of the confederate cities should be responsible for the due collection of the tribute every year and its safe transfer to Athens. (36) What we can legitimately infer though, given that Laispodias was acting as a travelling commissioner on behalf of Athens in this case, is that at the time the speech was delivered in the court, Laispodias was playing some role in Athenian politics. (37) But Laispodias' post might not have been an elective one, so his appointment cannot possibly tell us much about his outlook, or his importance in the contemporary political scene. (38) In addition, it could be argued that the post itself was quite administrative in nature, and does not reveal much about one's political credos. (39) Nor does Antiphon's involvement in the trial as the accuser's speechwriter offer us an indication as to the exact sentiments or relationship between the two men at the time, that is to say, Antiphon's resentment towards Laispodias because of the latter's democratic outlook. Antiphon's professional expertise must have appealed to a confederate citizen (of oligarchic convictions?) who sued Laispodias, probably for mismanagement or misconduct with regard to the execution of his duties as an episkopos, though the possibility that the trial sprang out of a personal feud between Laispodias and a local resident, somewhere in an allied city, and the suing for misconduct in office were only a pretext should not be ruled out. It is quite conceivable that Laispodias resented Antiphon's involvement in the case; in his eyes this should have been a warning that his prosecutor had formidable connections and was not to be sneezed at. To this we may add the customary mistrust of professional logographers the average Athenian felt. (40) I assume that the two men discussed the incident when Laispodias joined the group which was to become the Four Hundred, and if there was any misunderstanding, it should have been sorted out then.

The next time we hear of Laispodias is in the summer of 414 BC. Leading a naval force comprising thirty ships, he, along with Pythodoros and Demaratos, landed at Epidauros Limera (the Byzantine Monemvasia) and Prasiai, further south of modern Leonidio, and ravaged Spartan territories, a hostile action that blatantly violated the peace of Nicias. (41) Earlier scholars assigned the raid to the year 415/4, (42) but Busolt pointed out that we should date the event to the beginning of the archon year 414/3. (43) A Spartan invasion in the Argolid seems to have taken place approximately when Gylippos set out with four ships from Leukas to Taras, (44) and it is likely that both events occurred within the first half of July 414. (45) The Athenian raid took place while the Spartan one was in progress; in fact, some considerable time had already elapsed. (46) If we consider that the Athenian year in 414 started on July 29, (47) the raid may have started at the very end of July, or early August, although a date in early September is not theoretically impossible. (48)

It is not clear whether Laispodias was a general in this mission, for Thucydides uses the word [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. (49) According to Fornara, (50) the list of generals included thirteen names, Laispodias having been elected as general at the regular elections that year. Euthydemus and Menander had replaced Lamachus and Alcibiades until Demosthenes and Eurymedon arrived in Sicily and assumed office. (51) In his list, Sealey does not mention Laispodias at all, (52) and Develin is sceptical as to whether Laispodias, Pythodorus, Euetion, Conon and Melesander (this is his reading of IG [I.sup.3] 371[3]) were indeed generals that year. (53) On the other hand, Kahrstedt accepts the generalship, (54) and Avery follows suit, (55) while Hornblower underscores the fact that the Athenians had started to appoint supernumeraries with different titles to meet the then current command needs, but is inclined towards accepting the three commanders as generals. (56) In view of Thucydides' inconsistency regarding technical vocabulary indicating military leadership, the designation archon itself should not be a compelling reason to reject Laispodias' generalship.

What were the implications of this mission, and how was it related to the domestic political scene in Athens? Avery perceives it as a decision to settle for good the uneasy peace of Nicias and proceed with the war more vigorously, a decision taken by the radical democrats, forming the majority in the new board of generals for 414/13 (actually this is the main reason Avery assigns the raid to 414/13, the raid signalling a u-turn in Athenian attitudes towards the resumption of hostilities in mainland Greece). (57) Meyer describes the act as, 'ein flagranter Bruch des Friedens von 421, die offene Ankiindigung, dass Athen den Krieg wolle.' (58) Busolt attributes the attack to the pervasive feeling in Athens at the time that the fall of Syracuse was imminent, so much so that the Athenians had no qualms about violating the terms of the peace. (59) Kagan believes that the Athenians were committed to helping the Argives, out of the obligation the latter's presence in Sicily entailed. (60)

At this point it should be noted that we need to be careful not to attribute political responsibility for a change in foreign policy to the persons who had to implement decisions that had been taken by the people in the Assembly. We do not know if the three generals actually supported the mission, or if they actually campaigned openly in favour of it, speaking as rhetores in the Assembly, or simply had to comply with the decision and see to it that the expedition was carried out as efficiently as possible. Nor does their common appointment signify a relationship of whatever sort between them. In addition, the military commanders need not endorse fully, or in part, the Assembly's decision to undertake the campaign and its objectives, both political and geo-strategic. (61) We should not forget that it was the Assembly that appointed certain generals for a given campaign, and decided on the objectives and the size and composition of the expeditionary force. (62) Hamel points out that during their office, Athenian generals would address the Assembly in connection with military issues far more frequently than any other citizen. (63) In addition, the Athenian Assembly would exercise a tight control over the generals while they were on campaign by issuing concrete and explicit instructions beforehand. (64) Consequently, Laispodias' appointment is not necessarily an indication, let alone proof, that he had actually endorsed, campaigned for or exercised any influence over the raid in Laconia; and no conclusions can be drawn either as to his attitude towards the resumption of hostilities and the war in general.

Laispodias and the Four Hundred

Thucydides only incidentally informs us of Laispodias' involvement in the oligarchy of the Four Hundred. Some Argive envoys reached Samos to assure the Athenians of Argos' loyalty. They had been transported, Thucydides tells us, by the crew of the Paralos. These men had previously captured three envoys, en route to Sparta, as they were transporting them on board an Athenian warship, namely Laispodias, Aristophon and Melesias, apparently all members of the Four Hundred. These envoys the crew delivered to Argos, and from there they transported the Argive envoys to Samos:

   The Argives had arrived with the crew of the Paralos, who had then
   been ordered by the Four Hundred to sail around Euboea on a
   troop-carrier. (65) And as they were carrying the Athenian envoys
   to Lacedaimon, members of the Four Hundred, Laispodias, Aristophon
   and Melesias, when they approached Argos they arrested the envoys
   and handed them over to the Argives, since, in their opinion, they
   had played a most important role in the overthrow of the Athenian
   demos. They themselves did not return to Athens, but they
   transported the Argive envoys from Argos and arrived in Samos on
   the warship which they possessed.

Soon after the Four Hundred had usurped power in Athens, they began sending embassies to King Agis in Deceleia with a view to ending the hostilities. They also sent ten envoys to Samos, principally to quell the fears of the navy and prevent a mutiny. These men pleaded the cause of the oligarchic regime, arguing that the oligarchy had been installed not in order to harm the city, but to salvage it. (66) However, developments on Samos had taken an unexpected and unwelcome turn for the oligarchs, since a democratic counter-revolution ousted the recently installed local oligarchic clique. The crew of the Paralos played a prominent role in the Samian civil war on the democrats' side, and distinguished themselves in the struggle against the Three Hundred Samian oligarchy. After the consolidation of the democracy in Samos, it was decided that Chaereas be sent on board the Paralos to the Piraeus to deliver the news to Athens, the Athenian navy on Samos apparently being unaware of the oligarchic coup in Athens. This was done as scheduled, but upon arrival in the Piraeus, the Four Hundred arrested two or three men of the Paralos' crew, while they transferred the rest to another warship, ordering them to patrol off Euboea. (67)

This embassy, of which Laispodias was a member, is not the same as the one in Thucydides 8.71.3, because the Paralos reached the Piraeus in 8.74.2 (that is, at a later time than in 71.3) and then the crew were ordered to patrol off Euboea. (68) Heitsch wonders whether the decision on the part of the Four Hundred to entrust the envoys' mission to the crew of the Paralos, notorious for being fervent supporters of the democracy, was due to the dearth of experienced and able crews, or simply an indication that the oligarchs were already losing control of the situation. But his theory that the envoys were intercepted en route to Sparta by the Parahs' crew, and so, consequently, were travelling on a different ship, is contradicted by Thucydides 8.86.9. (69) We should therefore assume that the three envoys left the Piraeus on board the ship manned by the Paralos' men.

It is probable that the three envoys left Athens after Chaereas' arrival in the Piraeus on board the Paralos and before the news of the mutiny in Samos had become widely spread. (70) The news from Samos could have spread either through Chaereas (he must have met relatives, friends or accomplices who helped him to escape from Attica), or the relatives who must have visited the two or three men of the Paralos' crew who were arrested and imprisoned, or finally, accidentally through a cargo ship travelling from Samos and reaching the Piraeus at about that time.

There is an indication in Thucydides' narrative that the embassy to Sparta was a hasty reaction on the part of the Four Hundred, on receiving the news of the navy's mutiny at Samos. After seizing the Paralos, the oligarchs ordered its crew to board another ship which set out for Euboea. (71) It seems that this order was never implemented because it was decided on the spot that an embassy be sent to Sparta and that the Paralos' crew was to transport the envoys first. One wonders why the oligarchs kept the Paralos grounded while appointing its crew to carry out such an important mission. A probable answer is that the Paralos was too closely associated with democracy for the oligarchs to allow her to carry out important missions under their regime, but at the same time they were short of experienced naval personnel. Did the Four Hundred appoint a trusted captain on board and/or a number of [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], hoplites who acted as marines in naval engagements? If this were the case, there may have been a brawl on board before these persons were overpowered by the crew.

On what grounds were the three men comprising the deputation chosen? Mosley points out that the envoys were usually chosen on the grounds of their popularity in the city they were sent to. (72) It was perhaps for this reason that Melesias was chosen. As far as Laispodias is concerned, perhaps, the choice to send him along could be intelligible because of his prestige as a general and his presumed influence on the crew. The latter, so the oligarchs hoped, would respect and obey a high officer with, until recently, a democratic profile. When the Four Hundred came to power they must have had doubts as to whether Sparta would recognise their authority. Their fears proved to be well founded, since in King Agis' view it was doubtful that the Athenian demos would acknowledge their authority as legitimate, let alone other cities. (73) At this point, in contrast to later embassies led by Antiphon and Phrynichus themselves, the leaders of the Four Hundred may have feared that they might be viewed as revolutionaries by the Spartans and be arrested, so they refrained from taking part themselves. (74) Three was the most usual number sent on a diplomatic mission by the Athenians, so in this respect the oligarchs did not depart from democratic custom. (75) Bearing in mind that the envoys should be of considerable prestige, young individuals were not usually included. (76)

We would wish to know the terms on which the envoys were instructed to negotiate a peace agreement, but Thucydides is silent on this point. Busolt, quoting AP 32.3 and remarking that Aristotle in this passage had probably made an inference from Thucydides 8.91.3, believed that the Athenians would have proposed that the status quo be observed, but that the Lacedaimonians demanded that Athens give up her empire. (77) Perhaps, following the failure of the first deputation (8.71.3), this one was more prepared to show flexibility in the negotiations, but we do not know the details, or to what extent they were willing to make concessions. (78) Nor can we classify the envoys as extremists on the grounds of their participation in the embassy. (79) It seems, indeed, that the Athenians did not bear any grudges against these oligarchic envoys, since Laispodias, at least, was never prosecuted. It was only the last embassy to Sparta that was deemed treacherous, manned by members of the extremist faction within the Four Hundred, participation in which was fatal for Antiphon and Archeptolemus. (80)

Laispodias and Old Comedy

Laispodias was frequently targeted by the comic poets and was their regular butt, an undisputable sign of his popularity and relative prominence in Athenian politics. In Aristophanes' Birds, produced at the city Dionysia in 414 BC, Poseidon addresses the Triballian god and rebukes him (1567-71):

   Here, what are you trying to do? Is this how you drape yourself,
      from right to left?
   You'd better re-drape your cloak from left to right like this.
   What now, you wretched fool? Are you made like Laispodias?
   Oh Democracy, where are you going to lead us to one of these days,
   if the gods can actually vote this fellow into office?'
   (translated by A. Sommerstein).

Poseidon is cross with the Triballian because of the way he has put on his iudxiov. The gentlemanly way was to leave the right arm free. Apparently, the Triballian has done it the other way around (1567-68). When he haphazardly tries to fix it, he lets it hang too low on his legs. That is why Poseidon drops the remark [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], hinting at Laispodias' deformity of his calves which he tried to conceal by having his cloak hang down to his ankles. (81) Other comic poets such as Theopompus in [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] K-A 40, and Strattis in his [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] K-A 19, also mock Laispodias for his deformed legs. (82) Eupolis in his [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] K-A 107, (83) pictured the politician and dithyramb poet Cinesias being followed by two trees:

   Those trees, Laispodias and Damasias, with those shanks are
   following me.

If the piece of information we find in Hesychius the lexicographer is right, (85) then we can imagine the two men in the scene as two trees with bent trunks awkwardly following Cinesias, imitating Laispodias' walk.

Poseidon's above-mentioned scornful comment 'democracy, how far do you mean to carry us, if the gods have elected this man?' should also be read as a criticism of the recent election of Laispodias as general, but it is not clear whether this criticism is levelled at his presumed incompetence as a commander or at his politics, although we should remind ourselves that one need not necessarily be a politician to be mocked and ridiculed by a comic poet. Laispodias' name and his physique were good enough reasons on their own to make him a likely butt. This passage is a stronger indication of his election to the highest military office than the scholium to Aristophanes' Birds 1569, (86) because it is doubtful whether the scholiast had an independent source at hand, or simply inferred Laispodias' generalship from Thucydides' passage (6.105.2). (87)

Laispodias was also mocked as warlike in Phrynichus, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] K-A 17, a play produced at the city Dionysia in 414 BC, at the same festival as the Birds. (88) The date of the production of the play is important, for at that time Athens decided to abandon the peace of Nicias and openly resume hostilities on the mainland as well as in Sicily. This evidence led some scholars to assign Laispodias to the war party, and even aligned with Alcibiades' party, (89) or that he was an enemy of Nicias, an 'Opportunitatsdemokrat'. (90) We have seen that Laispodias' involvement in the raid in the Peloponnese does not necessarily reflect endorsement on his part of Athens' choices concerning the resumption of hostilities in 414. Even if he did espouse ideas about an all-out confrontation with the enemy at that particular time (whether sincerely or not), it does not follow that he was enlisted in Alcibiades' retinue, for a particular policy could be supported and pursued independently by several politicians at a time (nor, of course, was Nicias the only advocate for peace in that period). It is true that we have no information about Laispodias' previous military record to ascertain the truth of Phrynichus' libel, but it is not unlikely that it was the former's recent election to the strategia that prompted the latter's mockery.

Philyllius, in his [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], labels Laispodias as litigious (K-A 8), (91) and Avery thought that this slander may reflect Laispodias' involvement in the trials that followed the fall of the Four Hundred, that is, after the restoration of the democracy, or the fact that in the last decade of the 5th century he was still prominent enough to continue being the poets' target. (92) But [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] was probably produced between 405 and 400, (93) or in 406, (94) too long a time after for Laispodias to be tried for his involvement in the coup. We would naturally expect his presumed trial to have taken place shortly after the restoration (as in Polystratos' case in [Lys.] 20), and not at least five years later. In addition, if this is not a stock charge on the part of the comic poet, [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] would rather denote a person who brought other people to trial, an accuser, and not a defendant, which would be the case of Laispodias being brought to justice for his conduct during the regime of the Four Hundred. (95) Thus, the information given by the scholiast to Aristophanes' Birds 1569 cannot be taken as proof of political persecution inflicted on Laispodias. Rather, it is a slight indication of Laispodias' juridical activity in the closing years of the 5th century; but we completely lack the context in which it was waged as well as its character, that is to say, to what extent it was political or involved personal matters only.


Coming from an old, aristocratic family, with a long involvement in Athenian politics, Laispodias naturally had political aspirations which his background made easier to fulfil. His election to the generalship, at a crucial point in the Peloponnesian War when the Athenians were inclining towards pursuing the war more aggressively, is probably an indication that Laispodias' political profile at the time was compatible with the prevailing mood in Athens, that is, a head-on confrontation with the enemy. His frequent mocking by the comic poets may also be an indication that he did not have a consistently conservative outlook, which would have afforded him some protection against libel and ridicule. (96) On the other hand, his decision to enrol in the oligarchic camp shows that he was prepared to go to any lengths in order to secure a place for himself and his family in the new establishment. It may also be the case that his decision to join the oligarchy sprang out of sincere hopes that a peace agreement could be reached with Sparta. (97) To his good fortune, his involvement in the coup left him relatively unscathed. In the final days of the regime the instinct of survival might have dictated his seeking political alignments with certain oligarchic circles who seemed to have the potential to handle the crisis swiftly and effectively, and try to extricate himself from any unfortunate incidents he may have been involved in. His participation in the embassy to Sparta, at least, did not lead to him becoming entangled in the political trials which were conducted shortly after the downfall of the oligarchy, as it was not considered as treacherous by the victorious faction within the Four Hundred led by Theramenes, who took pains to ensure that his political enemies be eliminated one by one. Nor does he seem to have suffered disfranchisement, or have gone into exile, for there are signs of his presence and activity at Athens in the last decade of the century. This reconstruction of Laispodias' story is admittedly based on scattered and scanty evidence and may not be devoid of error and misinterpretations. At any rate, Laispodias seems to have survived the storm showing that he could easily run with the fox and hunt with the hounds if necessary.


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Nikolaos Karkavelias

University of Vienna

* I remain deeply indebted to Professor Herbert Heftner and Doctor Christos Zapheiropoulos for their insightful comments on earlier drafts of this paper. I would also like to thank the journal's two anonymous referees for their helpful and constructive suggestions. The translations of Greek texts are my own unless stated otherwise.

(1) The scholarship on the oligarchy of the Four Hundred is particularly extended. Some useful contributions are cited here: Busolt 1904:1456-1509; Lenschau 1913:202-16; Hignett 1952:268-80; Sealey 1967:111-32; Flach 1977:7-33; Lintott 1982:135-55; Kagan 1987:106-210; Lehmann 1997; Heftner 2001.

(2) Thuc. 8.68.4: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ('therefore, as it was carried out by many and intelligent men, the venture, though so great, not unreasonably, succeeded').

(3) Ruschenbusch 1979:102-04 raises their number to 29, but he includes supporters as well. Avery 1959 has argued for twenty-two sure members of the Four Hundred and has proposed another twenty-two as probable members.

(4) Thuc. 8.66.5: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ('There were among them some whom no one would ever think would turn to oligarchy').

(5) [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 'Laispodias, son of Andronymis, one of the notables in Athens.' Cf. Cramer 1963:9.22.

(6) Kirchner 1901-1903: PA 8963; Beloch 1884:62 n. 4.

(7) Raubitschek 1949:95.

(8) Develin 1986:184. Earlier, McCoy 1970:102 and n. 70, had proposed Andron as Laispodias' father. The variant [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] which is offered in Traill 2002:12 cannot stand, since the genitive would have been [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], the noun belonging to the second declension including nouns masculine and feminine ending in [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII].

(9) IG [II.sup.2] 10173 undated; IG [II.sup.2] 2988 74-63 BC: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII].

(10) IG [II.sup.2] 6984.2.

(11) SEG 26.304.3.

(12) Avery 1959:199 and n. 3 with further literature.

(13) Ar. Ec. 942, 1016.

(14) Ar. Ec. 908, 113; Th. 492.

(15) Ar. Pax 1306; Pherecr. 55.

(16) 'Demetrios, whom everybody calls Ixion, in the Attic words explains Laispodias as a rare word which means intemperate concerning sexual drive, so much so that one may have sexual intercourse with animals.'

(17) DAAA 87 = IG [I.sup.3] 755. The editors of Inscriptiones Graecae date the inscription to 500-480 BC.

(18) Raubitschek 1949:92, 95.

(19) Develin 1986:184.

(20) Vanderpool 1949:394-412, at 400.

(21) Vanderpool 1949:400; Avery 1959:200, where a family tree is offered in which a Spoudis II is conjectured as the father of Laispodias the oligarch.

(22) Lang 1990:1-161, 163-188, 93.

(23) Thomsen 1972:85; Brenne 2001:207. See also the excellent discussion in Winters 1995:282-88 on the insurmountable difficulties in dating an inscription to within even a decade, based solely on letter forms. His well-founded scepticism will of course apply to ostraka as well, regardless of the fact that the scribe in the case of an ostrakon is not necessarily a professional one. See also Lang 1982:76 on the differences between inscription and ostraka writing.

(24) IG [II.sup.2] 1698, 65.

(25) Vanderpool 1949:400.

(26) Meritt & Traill 1974:420.

(27) Develin 1986:184.

(28) Sundwall:1906:12.

(29) In Ar. Av. 1021 the Athenian episkopos is curious to find out what is going on in Cloudcuckooland, so he asks [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ('where are the proxenoi?'). It may be too extreme to accept that an Athenian aristocrat could serve as a soldier (hoplite) in the operation led by Cleon to subdue Galepsus in 422 (Thuc. 5.6.1). So Dover 1950:54.

(30) Blass 1887:104.

(31) Gilbert 1877:277. Hamel 1998:145 also dated the speech to 414/13 BC and assumed it was an eisangelia, but rightly expressed doubts about any connection with Laispodias' generalship.

(32) Avery 1959:202.

(33) IG [I.sup.3] 71.120 = ML 69; Meritt, Wade-Gery & McGregor 1950 [= ATL]:2.A9; 3.70-89.

(34) See ATL 3.349 on the increase in tribute tax the Lindians had to pay after the reassessment.

(35) Meiggs 1972:212-13, for the early date; Rhodes 2008:502, for the late date.

(36) IG [I.sup.3] 34, 5-11 = ML 46. For the dating, see Meiggs 1972:165. The office of episkopos was one of the [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] mentioned in AP 24.3.

(37) Lehmann 1987:68 labels Laispodias a radical demagogue, alongside Phrynichus and Peisander, but this may be too far-fetched. Bearing in mind the dearth of evidence and the equivocal character of the information we possess about him, Laispodias' known activities do not indicate that he either had a distinguished career in politics, such as that of Peisander and Phrynichus, or pursued radical democratic politics.

(38) In Ar. Av. 1022-23 the episkopos asserts: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ('I have been appointed, by due process of lottery to inspect the affairs of Cloudcuckoobury'; transl. Meiggs).

(39) Meiggs 1972:152-74 maintains that through the building up of a network of Athenian officers, political residents, garrison commanders, and travelling commissioners (episkopoi) Athens was able to maintain control of her empire and effectively tackle the disaffection of the allies, especially expressed in the 440s. In this sense Laispodias must have been regarded as Athens' watchdog by some of the residents of the allied cities he visited as an episkopos, especially if he attended to his duties vigorously.

(40) See the discussion in Dover 1968:156-58.

(41) Thuc. 6.105; cf. 5.18.4: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ('may it not be possible to bear arms with hostile intent'). See also Thuc. 7.18.3 on the raid as a ground for complaints on the part of the Spartans; cf. Andoc. 3.9.

(42) See Avery 1959:202 and n. 10 for references.

(43) Busolt 1904:3.2.1350-51.

(44) Thuc. 6.104.1.

(45) Gomme, Andrewes & Dover 1970:8.

(46) Thuc. 6.105.1: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ('they ravaged the best part of the land'). See Hanson 1998, where the difficulty of destroying olive trees and vines is stressed, especially 185-94 on the exact meaning of the verb [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and other technical terms employed by ancient historians to describe ravaging and devastation of enemy territory.

(47) Meritt 1961:218.

(48) Raid occurs in 414/13: Gomme, Andrewes & Dover 1970:448. See the discussion in Gomme et al. 1970:8 (vol. 4) on the complications the September date entails, most importantly rejection of Lamachus' death in 415/14.

(49) Thuc. 6.105.2.

(50) Fornara 1971:65.

(51) Thuc. 7.16.2.

(52) Sealey 1967:91-94.

(53) Develin 1989:153.

(54) Kahrstedt 1924:517.

(55) Avery 1959:202 and n. 10 with bibliography. Avery notes that it is his participation in the mission that prompted earlier scholars to classify Laispodias as a democrat, Meyer (1952-58:490 n. 2) being the exception in believing that he was only pretending to be one.

(56) Hornblower 2008:537.

(57) Avery 1959:203 and n. 10.

(58) Meyer 1952:493.

(59) Busolt 1904:3.2.1354.

(60) Kagan 1981:269.

(61) Gomme 1962:103-04; De Ste Croix 1972:316.

(62) Fornara 1971:37.

(63) Hamel 1998:14 and n. 24 with further bibliography. She concludes that 'the influence which Athens' generals enjoyed over the formulation of Athenian military policy, while more extensive than that of most politically active Athenians, fell rather far short of effective control.'

(64) Hamel 1998:115 n. 1 with references to primary sources. Sometimes trouble could befall the generals if the assembly thought their conduct and performance was not in keeping with its directives. Characteristic is the example of Xenophon, Hestiodorus and Phanomachus, the Athenian generals who besieged Potidaea in 429 BC, who were accused because they signed a treaty with the Potideans without consulting the sovereign assembly (Thuc. 2.70.4). There were eleven other cases during the Peloponnesian War of Athenian generals who were brought to trial and were convicted on various charges; see Pritchett 1974:6-7.

(65) On troop-carriers and whether they were a special type of ship or just an undermanned trireme, see Gomme, Andrewes & Dover 1970:309, 487; Wallinga 1993:175, who in discussing this passage concludes that 'stratiotis had as much the meaning "trireme with minimal crew" as that of "transport"'; Hornblower 2008:1061-66.

(66) Thuc. 8.70.2-72.

(67) Thuc. 8.73-74.2.

(68) Busolt 1904:3.1491; Gomme, Andrewes & Dover 1981:289. Contra Classen 1878:135; Wilamowitz 1893:101. Welwei 1999:224 believes that King Agis arranged for the three Athenian envoys to be escorted on their way to Sparta. Kruger 1861:163 refrained from reaching a decision on the issue. Hornblower 2008:966 has suggested that the present tense verb [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] at 8.71.3 may be iterative, an indication that there was more than one delegation to Sparta.

(69) Heitsch 1984:117 and n. 311. This view was previously aired by Jordan 1972: 174.

(70) Thuc. 8.74.1.

(71) Thuc. 8.74.2: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ('whereas they ordered the others to patrol off Euboea, after having seized their ship').

(72) Mosley 1973:44 with a list of relevant examples.

(73) Thuc. 8.71.1

(74) Cf. Thuc. 3.72.1: the oligarchic Corcyrean envoys, sent to Athens in 427, were arrested as revolutionaries.

(75) Mosley 1973:45; embassies of two, five and ten men are also attested.

(76) Mosley 1973:46. Cf. Hornblower 2008:1003; Heftner 2001:249 and n. 155 where he additionally points out that there was a tendency among the Four Hundred to appoint rather aged individuals to important missions.

(77) Busolt 1904:3.2.1491.

(78) Munn's contention (2000:145 and n. 36) that the negotiations with the Spartans entailed concrete concessions such as the handing over to the neighbours of Attica the disputed territories, as he calls them, of Oropos, Oenoe and Euboea cannot be supported by the evidence and should meet with scepticism. Nowhere in Book 8 does Thucydides give us any details of the negotiations, save a sense of ever-growing hastiness and desperation as far as the Athenian oligarchs were concerned: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ('after that the Four Hundred were sending embassies to King Agis in earnest', 8.71.3); [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ('and they were sending envoys from among themselves to Lacedaemon and were eager to make peace ... and sent hastily Antiphon and Phrynichus and ten more', 8.90.1-2).

(79) So Gilbert 1887:313, but Heftner 2001:248 rightly remarks 'der von den Paraliern fur die Festnahme der drei Manner angefuhrte Grund, sie seien "nicht zum wenigsten am Sturz der Volksmacht beteiligt gewesen," muss als subjective Meinung dieser radikaldemokratisch gesinnten Seeleute mit Skepsis betrachtet werden.'

(80) Thuc. 8.90.2. On the trial of Antiphon, Onomacles and Archeptolemus, see [Plut.] Life of Antiphon 833E3-F12. I argue elsewhere that there is no compelling evidence that Archeptolemus was an extremist and personally attached to Antiphon.

(81) Dunbar 1995:716. Given Aristophanes' notoriety for jokes with sexual connotations, one cannot help considering the possibility that the actor playing Poseidon makes a movement imitating sexual intercourse when pronouncing [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], and then makes a short pause anticipating an outburst of laughter. The comic effect of the multinuanced name and the visual stimulus is powerful as the audience sees a man dressed like Laispodias and is reminded at the same time what his name means.

(82) Schol. Ar. Av. 1569: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ('for this reason he wore his cloak long covering his legs, as Theopompus says in his Boys'); [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ('some charges are levelled at him concerning his shanks, as reports Strattis in his Kinesias').

(83) Laispodias' featuring in Eupolis is picked up by Plutarch in his Questiones Conviviales (712a6-8) where the question is what sympotic entertainments are most appropriate at a dinner. Old Comedy is rejected because the persons appearing in it are too obscure for the average audience to make sense. They would need a grammarian to explain [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ('who Laispodias in Eupolis, and Cinesias in Platon, and Lampoon in Cratinus are').

(84) Cinesias (450-390 BC) was an important dithyrambic poet, but also a well-known politician of rather conservative convictions. In 400 BC he moved a decree whereby the chorus in the comic plays was to be abolished (Schol. Ar. Ra. 404.154). Probably for this reason he was mocked by Strattis in his [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] produced around that time. Cinesias also moved an honorary decree in 394/93 for Dionysius I, the tyrant of Syracuse, and his brothers Leptines and Thearides (IG II2 18.5-8); Maas 1921:479-81.

(85) [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ('Laispodias: a family name. Some thought that Alkmaion was called like that, others that it was the man with sickle-shaped legs).

(86) [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ('Thucydides in the eighth book says this Laispodias was a general').

(87) Avery 1959:205.

(88) Schol. Ar. Av. 1569: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ('Phrynichus mentions him in his Revellers as having become warlike').

(89) Gilbert 1887:277.

(90) Beloch 1884:62-63.

(91) Schol. Ar. Av. 1569: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ('Philyllius mentions him in his Washerwomen as litigious').

(92) Avery 1959:206.

(93) Geissler 1925:65, 83. Kassel & Austin 1989 have tentatively proposed the year 410 BC for the production of the play, quoting Geissler p. 65 and addenda p. xvii, but Geissler argued that 'vor 405 konnte man das Stuck also nur datieren, wenn zwingende Grunde dafur vorhanden waren.' In his list of lost comic plays of Old Comedy at page 83, he dates Plyntriai to 405-400 BC.

(94) Edmonds 1957:905.

(95) Cf. [Lys.] 10.2; D. 56.14.

(96) Sommerstein 1996:327-56. See, however, Pritchard 2012:14-51, arguing, among others, that Aristophanes was not biased in favour of a certain group of political leaders, and that he subjected all of them to his relentless slander and abuse, irrespective of their social and political standing.

(97) Heftner 2001:248.
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Date:Jan 1, 2013
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