Callias - The Fall of Athens - Alfred J. Church

Author's Postscript

It is impossible for the writer of historical fiction, especially if he wishes to suggest to his readers as many subjects of interest as possible, to adapt the literary necessities of his work to fit in with the actual course of events. But he is bound to point out such departures from historical accuracy as he feels constrained to make. It is quite possible that a correction may serve to impress the real facts upon his readers more deeply than an originally accurate statement would have done. I therefore append to my tale a list of


1. I was anxious to include the Battle of Arginusæ in my story. It was the first scene in the last act of the great drama of the Peloponnesian War. At the same time I felt bound, having made up my mind to give a description of a Greek comedy, to choose the Frogs. It has a literary interest such as no other Aristophanic play possesses, and it is at once more important and more intelligible to a modern reader. But to bring the two things together it was necessary to ante-date the representation of the play. I have put it in the year 406 B.C. It really took place in 405. I have also made the battle happen somewhat earlier than in all probability, it really did. The festival of the Great Dionysia, at which new plays were produced, was celebrated in March. We do not know precisely the date of Arginusæ, but it is likely that it was later in the year. A similar correction must be made about the embassy of Dionysius. It may have taken place when the play was really produced, but in 406 Dionysius was too busy think of such things.

2. I have ante-dated, this time by several years, the capture of Posidonia by the native Italians. Here again we have no record of the precise time; but it probably happened somewhat later in the century.

3. I do not know whether I am wrong in making Alcibiades escape from his castle in Thrace immediately after the battle Ægos Potami. Plutarch would give one rather to understand that he fled after the capture of Athens. It is quite possible, however, that he recognized the defeat as fatal to Athenian influence of the Thracian coast, and that feeling his own position to be no longer tenable, he retired from it at once.

4. I have taken some liberties with the text of Xenophon's narrative. The trial of the generals by their own soldiers, the athletic sports, and the entertainment described in my story are all taken from the Anabasis, but they do not come so close together as I have found it convenient to put them.

5. It is a moot point among historians whether Xenophon returned to Athens after he had quitted the Ten Thousand. Mr. Grote thinks that he did; and his authority is perhaps sufficient to shelter such a humble person as myself. It has also been debated whether he was banished in 399 or some years later. I am inclined to think that here I am accurate.

6. I need hardly say that the Thracian national song is of my own invention. Xenophon simply says that the Thracian performers went off the stage singing the "Sitalces." That this was a song celebrating the achievement of the king of that name (for which see a classical dictionary) cannot be doubted. But we know nothing more about it, and I have supplied the words.

7. It is not necessary to say that the "diary" of Callias is an invention. To be quite candid I do not think it was at all likely that a young soldier would have kept one, or even been able to write it up daily. But I wanted to give some prominent incidents from Xenophon's story, and had not space for the whole, while a mere epitome would have been tedious.

8. I must caution my readers against supposing my hero to be historical. There was a Callias, son of Hipponicus, at this time, a very different man.

9. I have taken the defence of Socrates from Plato's Apology, not from Xenophon. The former is immeasurably superior.