The Corcyraean revolution began with the
return of the prisoners taken in the sea-fights off Epidamnus.
These the Corinthians had released, nominally upon the security of eight
hundred talents given by their Proxeni but in reality upon their engagement
to bring over Corcyra to Corinth.
These men proceeded to canvass each of the citizens, and to intrigue with
the view of detaching the city from Athens.
Upon the arrival of an Athenian and a Corinthian vessel, with envoys on
board, a conference was held in which the Corcyraeans voted to remain allies
of the Athenians according to their agreement, but to be friends of the
Peloponnesians as they had been formerly.
Meanwhile, the returned prisoners brought Peithias, a volunteer Proxenus of
the Athenians and leader of the commons, to trial, upon the charge of
enslaving Corcyra to Athens.
He, being acquitted, retorted by accusing five of the richest of their
number of cutting stakes in the ground sacred to Zeus and Alcinous; the legal penalty being a stater for each stake.
Upon their conviction, the amount of the penalty being very large, they
seated themselves as suppliants in the temples, to be allowed to pay it by
instalments; but Peithias, who was one of the senate, prevailed upon that body to
enforce the law;
upon which the accused, rendered desperate by the law, and also learning
that Peithias had the intention, while still a member of the senate, to
persuade the people to conclude a defensive and offensive alliance with
Athens, banded together armed with daggers, and suddenly bursting into the
senate killed Peithias and sixty others, senators and private persons; some few only of the party of Peithias taking refuge in the Athenian
trireme , which had not yet departed.
After this outrage, the conspirators summoned
the Corcyraeans to an assembly, and said that this would turn out for the
best, and would save them from being enslaved by Athens: for the future,
they moved to receive neither party unless they came peacefully in a single
ship, treating any larger number as enemies.
This motion made, they compelled it to be adopted,
and instantly sent off envoys to Athens to justify what had been done and
to dissuade the refugees there from any hostile proceedings which might lead
to a reaction.
Upon the arrival of the embassy the Athenians
arrested the envoys and all who listened to them, as revolutionists, and
lodged them in Aegina.
Meanwhile a Corinthian trireme arriving in the island with Lacedaemonian
envoys, the dominant Corcyraean party attacked the commons and defeated them
Night coming on, the commons took refuge in the Acropolis and the higher
parts of the city, and concentrated themselves there, having also possession
of the Hyllaic harbor, their adversaries occupying the market-place, where
most of them lived, and the harbor adjoining, looking towards the mainland.
The next day passed in skirmishes of little
importance, each party sending into the country to offer freedom to the
slaves and to invite them to join them.
The mass of the slaves answered the appeal of the commons; their antagonists being reinforced by eight hundred mercenaries from the
After a day's interval hostilities recommenced, victory remaining with the
commons, who had the advantage in numbers and position, the women also
valiantly assisting them, pelting with tiles from the houses, and supporting
the melee with a fortitude beyond their sex.