CHAPTER XXI. FROM THE DEATH OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT TO THE CONQUEST OF GREECE BY THE ROMANS, B.C. 323-146.
The vast empire of Alexander the Great was divided, at his death, among his generals; but, before relating their history, it is necessary to take a brief retrospective glance at the affairs of Greece. Three years after Alexander had quitted Europe the Spartans made a vigorous effort to throw off the Macedonian yoke. They were joined by most of the Peloponnesian states; but though they met with some success at first, they were finally defeated with great slaughter by Antipater near Megalopolis. Agis fell in the battle, and the chains of Greece were riveted more firmly than ever. This victory, and the successes of Alexander in the East, encouraged the Macedonian party in Athens to take active measures against Demosthenes; and AEschines revived an old charge against him which had lain dormant for several years. Soon after the battle of Chaeronea, Ctesiphon had proposed that Demosthenes should be presented with a golden crown in the theatre during the great Dionysiac festival, on account of the services he had conferred upon his country. For proposing this decree AEschines indicted Ctesiphon; but though the latter was the nominal defendant, it was Demosthenes who was really put upon his trial. The case was decided in 330 B.C., and has been immortalised by the memorable and still extant speeches of AEschines 'Against Ctesiphon' and of Demosthenes 'On the Crown.' AEschines, who did not obtain a fifth part of the votes, and consequently became himself liable to a penalty, was so chagrined at his defeat that he retired to Rhodes.
In B.C. 325 Harpalus arrived in Athens. He had been left by Alexander at Ecbatana in charge of the royal treasures, and appears also to have held the important satrapy of Babylon. During the absence of Alexander in India he gave himself up to the most extravagant luxury and profusion, squandering the treasures intrusted to him, at the same time that he alienated the people subject to his rule by his lustful excesses and extortions. He had probably thought that Alexander would never return from the remote regions of the East into which he had penetrated; but when he at length learnt that the king was on his march back to Susa, and had visited with unsparing rigour those of his officers who had been guilty of any excesses during his absence, he at once saw that his only resource was in flight. Collecting together all the treasures which he could, and assembling a body of 6000 mercenaries, he hastened to the coast of Asia, and from thence crossed over to Attica, At first the Athenians refused to receive him; but bribes administered to some of the principal orators induced them to alter their determination. Such a step was tantamount to an act of hostility against Macedonia itself; and accordingly Antipater called upon the Athenians to deliver up Harpalus, and to bring to trial those who had accepted his bribes. The Athenians did not venture to disobey these demands. Harpalus was put into confinement, but succeeded in making his escape from prison. Demosthenes was among the orators who were brought to trial for corruption. He was declared to be guilty, and was condemned to pay a fine of 50 talents. Not being able to raise that sum, he was thrown into prison; but he contrived to make his escape, and went into exile. There are, however, good grounds for doubting his guilt; and it is more probable that he fell a victim to the implacable hatred of the Macedonian party. Upon quitting Athens Demosthenes resided chiefly at AEgina or Troezen, in sight of his native land, and whenever he looked towards her shores it was observed that he shed tears.
When the news of Alexander's death reached Athens, the anti- Macedonian party, which, since the exile of Demosthenes, was led by Hyperides, carried all before it. The people in a decree declared their determination to support the liberty of Greece. Envoys were despatched to all the Grecian states to announce the determination of Athens, and to exhort them to struggle with her for their independence. This call was responded to in the Peloponnesus only by the smaller states, whilst Sparta, Arcadia, and Achaia kept aloof. In northern Greece the confederacy was joined by most of the states except the Boaotians; and Leosthenes was appointed commander-in-chief of the allied forces.
The allied army assembled in the neighbourhood of Thermopylae. Antipater now advanced from the north, and offered battle in the vale of the Spercheus; but being deserted by his Thessalian cavalry, who went over to his opponents during the heat of the engagement, he was obliged to retreat and threw himself into Lamia, a strong fortress on the Malian gulf. Leosthenes, desirous to finish the war at a blow, pressed the siege with the utmost vigour; but his assaults were repulsed, and he was compelled to resort to the slower method of a blockade. From this town the contest between Antipater and the allied Greeks has been called the Lamian War.
The novelty of a victory over the Macedonian arms was received with boundless exultation at Athens, and this feeling was raised to a still higher pitch by the arrival of an embassy from Antipater to sue for peace. But the Athenians were so elated with their good fortune, that they would listen to no terms but the unconditional surrender of Antipater. Meantime Demosthenes, though still an exile, exerted himself in various parts of the Peloponnesus in counteracting the envoys of Antipater, and in endeavouring to gain adherents to the cause of Athens and the allies. The Athenians in return invited Demosthenes back to his native country, and a ship was sent to convey him to Piraeus, where he was received with extraordinary honours.