This brief anecdote relates how Eteonikos put down a mutiny of the Spartan fleet at Chios, during the late stages of the Peloponnesian War, circa 405 B.C.E. The text is from Xenophon’s Hellenica, Book 2, Chapter 1, lines 1-5.
Eteonikos and the Revolt at Chios:
Comments on pronunciation appreciated.
1. To return to Eteonicus and his troops in Chios. During summer they
were well able to support themselves on the fruits of the season, or
by labouring for hire in different parts of the island, but with the
approach of winter these means of subsistence began to fail. Ill-clad at
the same time, and ill-shod, they fell to caballing and arranging plans
to attack the city of Chios. It was agreed amongst them, that in order
to gauge their numbers, every member of the conspiracy should carry a
2. Eteonicus got wind of the design, but was at a loss how to deal
with it, considering the number of these reed-bearers. To make an open
attack upon them seemed dangerous. It would probably lead to a rush
to arms, in which the conspirators would seize the city and commence
hostilities, and, in the event of their success, everything hitherto
achieved would be lost. Or again, the destruction on his part of many
fellow-creatures and allies was a terrible alternative, which would
place the Spartans in an unenviable light with regard to the rest of
Hellas, and render the soldiers ill-disposed to the cause in hand.
3. Accordingly he took with him fifteen men, armed with daggers, and
marched through the city. Falling in with one of the reed-bearers, a man
suffering from ophthalmia, who was returning from the surgeon’s house,
he put him to death.
4. This led to some uproar, and people asked why the
man was thus slain. By Eteonicus’s orders the answer was set afloat,
“because he carried a reed.” As the explanation circulated, one
reed-bearer after another threw away the symbol, each one saying to
himself, as he heard the reason given, “I have better not be seen with
5. After a while Eteonicus called a meeting of the Chians, and
imposed upon them a contribution of money, on the ground that with pay
in their pockets the sailors would have no temptation to revolutionary
projects. The Chians acquiesced. Whereupon Eteonicus promptly ordered
his crews to get on board their vessels. He then rowed alongside
each ship in turn, and addressed the men at some length in terms of
encouragement and cheery admonition, just as though he knew nothing of
what had taken place, and so distributed a month’s pay to every man on
 οἱ δ᾽ ἐν τῇ Χίῳ μετὰ τοῦ Ἐτεονίκου στρατιῶται ὄντες, ἕως μὲν θέρος ἦν, ἀπό τε τῆς ὥρας ἐτρέφοντο καὶ ἐργαζόμενοι μισθοῦ κατὰ τὴν χώραν: ἐπεὶ δὲ χειμὼν ἐγένετο καὶ τροφὴν οὐκ εἶχον γυμνοί τε ἦσαν καὶ ἀνυπόδητοι, συνίσταντο ἀλλήλοις καὶ συνετίθεντο ὡς τῇ Χίῳ ἐπιθησόμενοι: οἷς δὲ ταῦτα ἀρέσκοι κάλαμον φέρειν ἐδόκει, ἵνα ἀλλήλους μάθοιεν ὁπόσοι εἴησαν.
 πυθόμενος δὲ τὸ σύνθημα ὁ Ἐτεόνικος, ἀπόρως μὲν εἶχε τί χρῷτο τῷ πράγματι διὰ τὸ πλῆθος τῶν καλαμηφόρων: τό τε γὰρ ἐκ τοῦ ἐμφανοῦς ἐπιχειρῆσαι σφαλερὸν ἐδόκει εἶναι, μὴ εἰς τὰ ὅπλα ὁρμήσωσι καὶ τὴν πόλιν κατασχόντες καὶ πολέμιοι γενόμενοι ἀπολέσωσι πάντα τὰ πράγματα, ἂν κρατήσωσι, τό τ᾽ αὖ ἀπολλύναι ἀνθρώπους συμμάχους πολλοὺς δεινὸν ἐφαίνετο εἶναι, μή τινα καὶ εἰς τοὺς ἄλλους Ἕλληνας διαβολὴν σχοῖεν καὶ οἱ στρατιῶται δύσνοι πρὸς τὰ πράγματα ὦσιν:
 ἀναλαβὼν δὲ μεθ᾽ ἑαυτοῦ ἄνδρας πεντεκαίδεκα ἐγχειρίδια ἔχοντας ἐπορεύετο κατὰ τὴν πόλιν, καὶ ἐντυχών τινι ὀφθαλμιῶντι ἀνθρώπῳ ἀπιόντι ἐξ ἰατρείου, κάλαμον ἔχοντι, ἀπέκτεινε.
 θορύβου δὲ γενομένου καὶ ἐρωτώντων τινῶν διὰ τί ἀπέθανεν ὁ ἄνθρωπος, παραγγέλλειν ἐκέλευεν ὁ Ἐτεόνικος, ὅτι τὸν κάλαμον εἶχε. κατὰ δὲ τὴν παραγγελίαν ἐρρίπτουν πάντες ὅσοι εἶχον τοὺς καλάμους, ἀεὶ ὁ ἀκούων δεδιὼς μὴ ὀφθείη ἔχων.
 μετὰ δὲ ταῦτα ὁ Ἐτεόνικος συγκαλέσας τοὺς Χίους χρήματα ἐκέλευσε συνενεγκεῖν, ὅπως οἱ ναῦται λάβωσι μισθὸν καὶ μὴ νεωτερίσωσί τι: οἱ δὲ εἰσήνεγκαν: ἅμα δὲ εἰς τὰς ναῦς ἐσήμηνεν εἰσβαίνειν: προσιὼν δὲ ἐν μέρει παρ᾽ ἑκάστην ναῦν παρεθάρρυνέ τε καὶ παρῄνει πολλά, ὡς τοῦ γεγενημένου οὐδὲν εἰδώς, καὶ μισθὸν ἑκάστῳ μηνὸς διέδωκε.