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OLYNTHUS was a city of such antiquity, that its foundation was by some ascribed to a mythic son of Hercules, and by others to a son of the Thracian king Strymon (Steph. Byz. s. v.). It lay at the head of the Toronaic bay (now the Gulf of Cassandra), and at the time of the second Persian war was inhabited by the Bottiaei, a tribe removed thither by the Macedonians from the shores of the Thermaic Gulf (now the Gulf of Saloniki), and who had originally, like the Thracians and other neighbouring tribes, furnished a contingent to the army of Xerxes (Herod. vii. 122. 127. 185, and viii. 127). In consequence, however, of their fidelity being suspected after the battle of Salamis, his general Artabazus besieged and took the city, massacred the inhabitants, and replaced them by some of the Chalcidians (rò Xaλkıdıkòv yévos), who from Chalcis in Euboea had settled in the neighbourhood. After the Persian war, these Olynthians appear (Thucyd. v. 18), with several cities of the same district, to have joined the Athenian confederacy; but just before the Peloponnesian war (B.c. 432) they were induced to abandon it by Perdiccas, king of Macedonia, with some reliance also on support from the Lacedaemonians (Thucyd. i. 58). At the same time their city was materially strengthened by the influx and aggregation of the inhabitants of the other Chalcidian towns, whom Perdiccas persuaded to remove thither from the coast, and it thus at once became the head of the Chalcidic population. During the Peloponnesian war we find the Olynthians in hostilities against Athens, and capturing a neighbouring town (Mecyberna) with a view of making it their port (éπívelov) or arsenal (Thucyd. v. 39. Strabo vii. frag. 13. Diod.
Sic. xii. 77). This then was a further step in their progress; and the overthrow of Athens at the close of the war left them at liberty to prosecute their schemes of aggrandisement, till at last they became strong enough to make attempts upon Macedonia, and even induced Pella its greatest city (Xenoph. Hell. v. c. 2. 13) to join them (ἔχουσιν ἤδη ἄλλας τε πολλὰς καὶ Πέλλα). About the same time also (B.c. 383) Amyntas, the king of that country, being assailed by the Illyrians and unable to repel them, abandoned his kingdom, after first making over to the Olynthians a large portion of Lower Macedonia on the Thermaic Gulf (Diod. Sic. xv. 19). Thus was another accession made to their augmented power; but the supremacy which they wished to assert in Chalcidice was not cheerfully accepted by all the Chalcidic towns, and jealousy naturally influenced those who had most pretensions to be considered as rivals. Accordingly, the two greatest of these, Apollonia and Acanthus, refused to join the confederacy of which Olynthus was to be the head, and being consequently threatened with hostilities, they sent (B.C. 382) an embassy to Sparta for assistance. Amyntas had by this time regained his kingdom, and as the Olynthians refused to restore their Macedonian acquisitions, he too made a similar application (Diod. xv. 19). Sparta assented, and immediately dispatched a force which at once succeeded in detaching Potidaea from the confederacy, and prevented other states from joining (Hell. v. 2. 24). An obstinate four years' war followed, during which on one occasion the Olynthians inflicted a terrible defeat on the Lacedaemonians (αμλη0€îs ἀπέκτειναν ἀνθρώπους καὶ ὅτι περ ὄφελος ἦν τοῦ στρατεύματος), and slew their general Teleutias (Hell. v. 3. 6). At last, however (B.c. 379), they were closely besieged by Polybiades till famine compelled them to ask for peace, which was granted on condition of their breaking up their confederacy, and enrolling themselves under the supremacy of Lacedaemon as her dependent allies. Many of the neighbouring Chalcidian cities followed the example, and the Macedonian territory on the seacoast doubtless again passed under the dominion of Amyntas (Diod. xv. 23. Hell. v. 3.26). Thus then were crushed the supremacy and independence of Olynthus, and her progress stopped; but her vitality was not extinguished, and fortune some time afterwards again favoured her. The supremacy of her enemy Sparta was in the next ten years annihilated by land, and the Athenian ascendancy recovered by sea. The Olynthians availed themselves of this state of affairs to regain their old position, and according to Demosthenes (Fal. Leg. § 298) they ultimately managed to unite under their supremacy all the Chalcidians around them (οὔπω Χαλκιδέων πάντων εἰς ἓν συνῳκισμένων), and even gained possession of Amphipolis (c. Aristoc. § 176). He further
states, though probably with much exaggeration but still some truth, that the terms of peace with Sparta (in B.c. 379) were after all not unfavourable (ὅπως ἠβούλοντο, οὕτω τὸν πόλεμον κατέθεντο). But in this revival of her power Olynthus was opposed and resisted by a new enemy. Having re-established their maritime superiority, the Athenians proceeded to make descents upon the coast of Thrace, with the view of recovering the possessions which had formerly belonged to them there, and under Timotheus they succeeded (B.c. 368-363) in taking Methone, Potidaea, Torone, and several other towns of Chalcidice (Isocr. Tepì 'AvTid. c. 115. Philip. i. § 6. Grote x. 412). But Amphipolis was the city which they coveted most; and, according to Aeschines (Fal. Leg. § 35) their claims to it were publicly declared to be well founded by a commissioner of Amyntas, the father of Philip of Macedon, before a congress of the Lacedaemonians and other confederates in B.C. 371. Their subsequent attempts to recover it under Iphicrates, Timotheus, and other generals, brought them into collision with Olynthus, the ally and protector of Amphipolis (c. Aristoc. § 176), and the hostile relations thus established between them continued till the accession of Philip to the throne of Macedon (B.c. 359). This event soon changed the position of affairs. The Athenians at first supported a rival Argaeus in his claims to the throne, with a view of recovering Amphipolis (Diod. xvi. 3), and a portion of their forces, principally mercenaries, actually marched from Methone on the coast for thirty miles inland, where, with Argaeus himself, they were attacked by Philip, and obliged to surrender (c. Aristoc. § 144). But it was not Philip's policy to make enemies, so he allowed them to depart, and sent an embassy to Athens, with proposals of peace and friendship; professing also to give up all claims of his own to Amphipolis (Diod. xvi. 3, 4. Grote xi. 301), which, according to Diodorus, had already been evacuated by the Macedonian troops posted there by Philip's predecessor Perdiccas (Grote x.516), to protect it against the Athenians (B.c.359358). Nevertheless, from whatever cause (Grote xi. 306), the Athenians did not themselves make any attempt to occupy it, and Philip, as soon as he could, resolved to take advantage of their remissness by attacking it himself, while he deluded them with the assurance that he intended to restore it to them after capturing it (c. Arist. § 138. De Halon. § 28). But this promise he did not fulfil, and the Olynthians, alarmed at the conquest and the rapid extension of his power, thereupon sent to Athens to negotiate an alliance (Olyn. ii. § 20), but without success, for the Athenians still trusted the continued assurances of Philip. Repulsed in that quarter, they readily accepted the alliance which that politic monarch offered them, and
received from him the cession of Potidaea, taken from the Athenians (B.c. 357) by their combined forces (Philip. ii. § 22. Grote xi. 335). And even before this he had ceded to them the district and city of Anthemus, so that he effectually secured their friendship to himself and their hostility against Athens, while, without any formal declaration of war, he was commencing that series of aggressions which led to what was called the war of Amphipolis, and continued between the Athenians and himself for twelve years till the peace of B.C. 346 (Fal. Leg. passim). But Philip and the Olynthians were too near neighbours to continue friends, their independence and progress being manifestly inconsistent with his ambitious aggrandisement. As his power and conquests extended, their conviction of this fact appears to have become more decided, for we read (c. Aristoc. § 129) that in B.C. 352-351, probably after Philip's victories in Thessaly, they had again become the friends, though not as yet allies, of Athens. This change in their sentiments Philip appears to have considered, and perhaps with satisfaction, a sufficient reason for hostilities. Accordingly, soon afterwards (Philip. i. § 20) his troops invaded their territory, and in B.C. 350-349 (Grote xi. 449), after recovery from an illness in Thrace, he commenced serious operations against them by marching into Chalcidice. The immediate cause of this attack is stated by Justin (viii. 3) to have been their reception and protection of his two half-brothers, a brother of whom he had already put to death, and who themselves escaped, for a time, the same fate by flight. But this doubtless was only a pretext, not the real cause of his hostility, nor do we even know when it was first put forward. Moreover, somewhat inconsistently with this statement, Demosthenes (Philip. iii. § 16) asserts that Philip had sent special envoys to the Olynthians disclaiming any injurious intentions (Távτα τὸν ἄλλον χρόνον, εἴ τις αὐτὸν αἰτιάσαιτό τι τοιοῦτον, ἀγανακτῶν καὶ πρέσβεις πέμπων τοὺς ἀπολογησομένους) till just before his final attack. Be this as it may this attack was preceded by his previous reduction of several other Chalcidian towns, till the progress of his conquests and their proximity to themselves at last induced the Olynthians to send to Athens with proposals for an alliance, and to solicit its active co-operation against him. This proposition was favourably received as the Olynthians would naturally expect, for not long before the Athenians themselves had expressed a wish that Olynthus might be induced to act against Philip (Olyn. i. § 7). The assembly which was called to consider it was almost unanimous in voting that assistance should be sent, though Demades (Suidas s. v.) opposed it. But the conclusion of an alliance was a very different thing with the Athenians from active co-operation with their allies, and therefore it
was that Demosthenes delivered his three Olynthiac orations one after the other, pressing upon his reluctant fellow-citizens the duty of vigorous action as well as of wise determination. After his second speech, as it would seem, 2000 mercenaries were despatched under the command of Chares (Dionys. Epist. i. ad Amm. ix.), and some successes were achieved by him. The news created much exultation at Athens, and the people began to fancy not only that they had rescued Olynthus, but that there was a fair prospect of punishing and humbling Philip τους λόγους περὶ τοῦ τιμωρήσασθαι Φίλιππον ὁρῶ yiyvoμévovs). To combat this delusion, to exhort his fellow-countrymen to still greater and personal exertions,-possibly, too, in consequence of a second embassy from Olynthus,-Demosthenes delivered his third Olynthiac. One specific measure which he then recommended was an expedition of Athenian citizens instead of foreign mercenaries. This plan, however, was not then adopted, nor do we know for certain whether the oration (delivered towards the end of B.C. 350) was productive of any immediate and practical result, for soon afterwards the Athenian forces were engaged in Euboea in putting down a revolt probably instigated by Philip himself (De Pace, § 5). From there in the first half of B.C. 349 a cavalry force of Athenian citizens crossed over to Olynthus, and Philochorus, an author quoted by Dionysius of Halicarnassus (Epist. i. ad Amm. ix.), states that Chares was despatched with a body of 2000 hoplites and 300 horsemen, all citizens. This force, however, of Athenian citizens, as Mr. Grote suggests (xi. p. 467), was not sent till the latter part of the war, which continued for two years and a half. We are further assured by Demosthenes (Fal. Leg. § 301) that from first to last the Athenians despatched no less than 10,000 mercenaries and 4000 native troops, and fifty triremes to assist their allies. But all to no purpose: their troops were badly commanded, and no really efficient aid was given till it was too late, and Olynthus finally fell by treachery into Philip's hands (B.c. 347). Thus was completed his conquest of Chalcidice, thirty-two cities of which, including Olynthus, he is said to have destroyed so utterly, that five or six years afterwards (Philip. iii. § 34) their sites could hardly be discovered. The Olynthians themselves were sold into slavery, and amongst the captives retained by Philip was a large number of Athenian citizens, who towards the close of the war had served in Olynthus as an auxiliary garrison. Moreover, the possession of Chalcidice, while it augmented his territorial sway, increased his resources and enabled him also to threaten the neighbouring possessions of Athens in the Thracian Chersonese and elsewhere, so that the result was in every way most important to himself and most disastrous to the Athenians.