(c. 440—390 bc)

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(c.440–c.390 bc),

a member of an aristocratic family, whose grandfather had been one of the ten Athenian envoys who negotiated the Thirty Years Peace of 446. In 415, shortly before the Sicilian Expedition was due to depart, the Athenians were dismayed to discover that in the night the statues of Hermes around the city (see herms) had been mutilated: Hermes being the god of travellers, this act was presumably intended to affect the progress of the expedition, but it was also taken as a sign that the democracy itself was in danger. In the subsequent accusations the young Andocides and his associates in a club, which was probably suspected of oligarchic tendencies (see hetaireiai), were named as having shared both in the mutilations and in the profanation of the Eleusinian mysteries (see demeter; eleusis), and were arrested. Andocides, to secure immunity and, as he claimed, to save his father, confessed to a share in the mutilations and gave an account of the whole affair, which, though it may have been far from the truth, was readily accepted by the Athenians. This secured his release, but shortly afterwards, when the decree of Isotimides, aimed esp. at him, forbade those who had confessed to an act of impiety to enter temples or the Agora, Andocides preferred to leave the city and began to trade as a merchant, in which role he developed connections all over the Aegean and in Sicily and Italy. In 411, seeking to restore himself to favour at Athens, he provided oars at cost price to the fleet in Samos, and shortly afterwards returned to Athens to plead for the removal of the limitation on his rights. Unfortunately for him, the revolution of the Four Hundred had just installed in power the very class of citizens whom his confession had affected, and he was imprisoned and maltreated. Released, perhaps at the fall of the Four Hundred, he resumed trading. At some time after the restoration of the democracy in 410, he returned to the city to renew his plea, but he was again unsuccessful. Returning finally under the amnesty of 403, he resumed full participation in public life, and in 400 (or 399) successfully defended himself in On the Mysteries against an attempt to have him treated as still subject to the decree of Isotimides: the sixth speech of the Lysian corpus, Against Andocides, was delivered by one of his accusers. In 392/391 he was one of the Athenian envoys sent to Sparta to discuss the making of peace, and on his return in the debate in the assembly he delivered On Peace urging acceptance of the proffered terms, which were in fact very similar to those of the King's Peace of 387/6. The Athenians, however, rejected the peace, and Andocides and the other envoys were prosecuted. Andocides anticipated condemnation by retiring into exile, and we hear no more of him.

Subjects: Classical Studies.

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