The History of Peloponnesian War

/The History of Peloponnesian War
The History of Peloponnesian War 2014-01-10T06:39:22+00:00

The History of Peloponnesian War

By Thucydides



Chapter I


The State of Greece from the earliest Times to the Commencement of

the Peloponnesian War


Thucydides, an Athenian, wrote the history of the war between the

Peloponnesians and the Athenians, beginning at the moment that it

broke out, and believing that it would be a great war and more worthy

of relation than any that had preceded it. This belief was not without

its grounds. The preparations of both the combatants were in every

department in the last state of perfection; and he could see the rest

of the Hellenic race taking sides in the quarrel; those who delayed

doing so at once having it in contemplation. Indeed this was the greatest

movement yet known in history, not only of the Hellenes, but of a

large part of the barbarian world- I had almost said of mankind. For

though the events of remote antiquity, and even those that more immediately

preceded the war, could not from lapse of time be clearly ascertained,

yet the evidences which an inquiry carried as far back as was practicable

leads me to trust, all point to the conclusion that there was nothing

on a great scale, either in war or in other matters.


For instance, it is evident that the country now called Hellas had

in ancient times no settled population; on the contrary, migrations

were of frequent occurrence, the several tribes readily abandoning

their homes under the pressure of superior numbers. Without commerce,

without freedom of communication either by land or sea, cultivating

no more of their territory than the exigencies of life required, destitute

of capital, never planting their land (for they could not tell when

an invader might not come and take it all away, and when he did come

they had no walls to stop him), thinking that the necessities of daily

sustenance could be supplied at one place as well as another, they

cared little for shifting their habitation, and consequently neither

built large cities nor attained to any other form of greatness. The

richest soils were always most subject to this change of masters;

such as the district now called Thessaly, Boeotia, most of the Peloponnese,

Arcadia excepted, and the most fertile parts of the rest of Hellas.

The goodness of the land favoured the aggrandizement of particular

individuals, and thus created faction which proved a fertile source

of ruin. It also invited invasion. Accordingly Attica, from the poverty

of its soil enjoying from a very remote period freedom from faction,

never changed its inhabitants. And here is no inconsiderable exemplification

of my assertion that the migrations were the cause of there being

no correspondent growth in other parts. The most powerful victims

of war or faction from the rest of Hellas took refuge with the Athenians

as a safe retreat; and at an early period, becoming naturalized, swelled

the already large population of the city to such a height that Attica

became at last too small to hold them, and they had to send out colonies

to Ionia.


There is also another circumstance that contributes not a little to

my conviction of the weakness of ancient times. Before the Trojan

war there is no indication of any common action in Hellas, nor indeed

of the universal prevalence of the name; on the contrary, before the

time of Hellen, son of Deucalion, no such appellation existed, but

the country went by the names of the different tribes, in particular

of the Pelasgian. It was not till Hellen and his sons grew strong

in Phthiotis, and were invited as allies into the other cities, that

one by one they gradually acquired from the connection the name of

Hellenes; though a long time elapsed before that name could fasten

itself upon all. The best proof of this is furnished by Homer. Born

long after the Trojan War, he nowhere calls all of them by that name,

nor indeed any of them except the followers of Achilles from Phthiotis,

who were the original Hellenes: in his poems they are called Danaans,

Argives, and Achaeans. He does not even use the term barbarian, probably

because the Hellenes had not yet been marked off from the rest of

the world by one distinctive appellation. It appears therefore that

the several Hellenic communities, comprising not only those who first

acquired the name, city by city, as they came to understand each other,

but also those who assumed it afterwards as the name of the whole

people, were before the Trojan war prevented by their want of strength

and the absence of mutual intercourse from displaying any collective



Indeed, they could not unite for this expedition till they had gained

increased familiarity with the sea. And the first person known to

us by tradition as having established a navy is Minos. He made himself

master of what is now called the Hellenic sea, and ruled over the

Cyclades, into most of which he sent the first colonies, expelling

the Carians and appointing his own sons governors; and thus did his

best to put down piracy in those waters, a necessary step to secure

the revenues for his own use.


For in early times the Hellenes and the barbarians of the coast and

islands, as communication by sea became more common, were tempted

to turn pirates, under the conduct of their most powerful men; the

motives being to serve their own cupidity and to support the needy.

They would fall upon a town unprotected by walls, and consisting of

a mere collection of villages, and would plunder it; indeed, this

came to be the main source of their livelihood, no disgrace being

yet attached to such an achievement, but even some glory. An illustration

of this is furnished by the honour with which some of the inhabitants

of the continent still regard a successful marauder, and by the question

we find the old poets everywhere representing the people as asking

of voyagers- “Are they pirates?”- as if those who are asked the question

would have no idea of disclaiming the imputation, or their interrogators

of reproaching them for it. The same rapine prevailed also by land.


And even at the present day many of Hellas still follow the old fashion,

the Ozolian Locrians for instance, the Aetolians, the Acarnanians,

and that region of the continent; and the custom of carrying arms

is still kept up among these continentals, from the old piratical

habits. The whole of Hellas used once to carry arms, their habitations

being unprotected and their communication with each other unsafe;

indeed, to wear arms was as much a part of everyday life with them

as with the barbarians. And the fact that the people in these parts

of Hellas are still living in the old way points to a time when the

same mode of life was once equally common to all. The Athenians were

the first to lay aside their weapons, and to adopt an easier and more

luxurious mode of life; indeed, it is only lately that their rich

old men left off the luxury of wearing undergarments of linen, and

fastening a knot of their hair with a tie of golden grasshoppers,

a fashion which spread to their Ionian kindred and long prevailed

among the old men there. On the contrary, a modest style of dressing,

more in conformity with modern ideas, was first adopted by the Lacedaemonians,

the rich doing their best to assimilate their way of life to that

of the common people. They also set the example of contending naked,

publicly stripping and anointing themselves with oil in their gymnastic

exercises. Formerly, even in the Olympic contests, the athletes who

contended wore belts across their middles; and it is but a few years

since that the practice ceased. To this day among some of the barbarians,

especially in Asia, when prizes for boxing and wrestling are offered,

belts are worn by the combatants. And there are many other points

in which a likeness might be shown between the life of the Hellenic

world of old and the barbarian of to-day.


With respect to their towns, later on, at an era of increased facilities

of navigation and a greater supply of capital, we find the shores

becoming the site of walled towns, and the isthmuses being occupied

for the purposes of commerce and defence against a neighbour. But

the old towns, on account of the great prevalence of piracy, were

built away from the sea, whether on the islands or the continent,

and still remain in their old sites. For the pirates used to plunder

one another, and indeed all coast populations, whether seafaring or



The islanders, too, were great pirates. These islanders were Carians

and Phoenicians, by whom most of the islands were colonized, as was

proved by the following fact. During the purification of Delos by

Athens in this war all the graves in the island were taken up, and

it was found that above half their inmates were Carians: they were

identified by the fashion of the arms buried with them, and by the

method of interment, which was the same as the Carians still follow.

But as soon as Minos had formed his navy, communication by sea became

easier, as he colonized most of the islands, and thus expelled the

malefactors. The coast population now began to apply themselves more

closely to the acquisition of wealth, and their life became more settled;

some even began to build themselves walls on the strength of their

newly acquired riches. For the love of gain would reconcile the weaker

to the dominion of the stronger, and the possession of capital enabled

the more powerful to reduce the smaller towns to subjection. And it

was at a somewhat later stage of this development that they went on

the expedition against Troy.


What enabled Agamemnon to raise the armament was more, in my opinion,

his superiority in strength, than the oaths of Tyndareus, which bound

the suitors to follow him. Indeed, the account given by those Peloponnesians

who have been the recipients of the most credible tradition is this.

First of all Pelops, arriving among a needy population from Asia with

vast wealth, acquired such power that, stranger though he was, the

country was called after him; and this power fortune saw fit materially

to increase in the hands of his descendants. Eurystheus had been killed

in Attica by the Heraclids. Atreus was his mother’s brother; and to

the hands of his relation, who had left his father on account of the

death of Chrysippus, Eurystheus, when he set out on his expedition,

had committed Mycenae and the government. As time went on and Eurystheus

did not return, Atreus complied with the wishes of the Mycenaeans,

who were influenced by fear of the Heraclids- besides, his power seemed

considerable, and he had not neglected to court the favour of the

populace- and assumed the sceptre of Mycenae and the rest of the dominions

of Eurystheus. And so the power of the descendants of Pelops came

to be greater than that of the descendants of Perseus. To all this

Agamemnon succeeded. He had also a navy far stronger than his contemporaries,

so that, in my opinion, fear was quite as strong an element as love

in the formation of the confederate expedition. The strength of his

navy is shown by the fact that his own was the largest contingent,

and that of the Arcadians was furnished by him; this at least is what

Homer says, if his testimony is deemed sufficient. Besides, in his

account of the transmission of the sceptre, he calls him “Of many

an isle, and of all Argos king.” Now Agamemnon’s was a continental

power; and he could not have been master of any except the adjacent

islands (and these would not be many), but through the possession

of a fleet.


And from this expedition we may infer the character of earlier enterprises.

Now Mycenae may have been a small place, and many of the towns of

that age may appear comparatively insignificant, but no exact observer

would therefore feel justified in rejecting the estimate given by

the poets and by tradition of the magnitude of the armament. For I

suppose if Lacedaemon were to become desolate, and the temples and

the foundations of the public buildings were left, that as time went

on there would be a strong disposition with posterity to refuse to

accept her fame as a true exponent of her power. And yet they occupy

two-fifths of Peloponnese and lead the whole, not to speak of their

numerous allies without. Still, as the city is neither built in a

compact form nor adorned with magnificent temples and public edifices,

but composed of villages after the old fashion of Hellas, there would

be an impression of inadequacy. Whereas, if Athens were to suffer

the same misfortune, I suppose that any inference from the appearance

presented to the eye would make her power to have been twice as great

as it is. We have therefore no right to be sceptical, nor to content

ourselves with an inspection of a town to the exclusion of a consideration

of its power; but we may safely conclude that the armament in question

surpassed all before it, as it fell short of modern efforts; if we

can here also accept the testimony of Homer’s poems, in which, without

allowing for the exaggeration which a poet would feel himself licensed

to employ, we can see that it was far from equalling ours. He has

represented it as consisting of twelve hundred vessels; the Boeotian

complement of each ship being a hundred and twenty men, that of the

ships of Philoctetes fifty. By this, I conceive, he meant to convey

the maximum and the minimum complement: at any rate, he does not specify

the amount of any others in his catalogue of the ships. That they

were all rowers as well as warriors we see from his account of the

ships of Philoctetes, in which all the men at the oar are bowmen.

Now it is improbable that many supernumeraries sailed, if we except

the kings and high officers; especially as they had to cross the open

sea with munitions of war, in ships, moreover, that had no decks,

but were equipped in the old piratical fashion. So that if we strike

the average of the largest and smallest ships, the number of those

who sailed will appear inconsiderable, representing, as they did,

the whole force of Hellas. And this was due not so much to scarcity

of men as of money. Difficulty of subsistence made the invaders reduce

the numbers of the army to a point at which it might live on the country

during the prosecution of the war. Even after the victory they obtained

on their arrival- and a victory there must have been, or the fortifications

of the naval camp could never have been built- there is no indication

of their whole force having been employed; on the contrary, they seem

to have turned to cultivation of the Chersonese and to piracy from

want of supplies. This was what really enabled the Trojans to keep

the field for ten years against them; the dispersion of the enemy

making them always a match for the detachment left behind. If they

had brought plenty of supplies with them, and had persevered in the

war without scattering for piracy and agriculture, they would have

easily defeated the Trojans in the field, since they could hold their

own against them with the division on service. In short, if they had

stuck to the siege, the capture of Troy would have cost them less

time and less trouble. But as want of money proved the weakness of

earlier expeditions, so from the same cause even the one in question,

more famous than its predecessors, may be pronounced on the evidence

of what it effected to have been inferior to its renown and to the

current opinion about it formed under the tuition of the poets.


Even after the Trojan War, Hellas was still engaged in removing and

settling, and thus could not attain to the quiet which must precede

growth. The late return of the Hellenes from Ilium caused many revolutions,

and factions ensued almost everywhere; and it was the citizens thus

driven into exile who founded the cities. Sixty years after the capture

of Ilium, the modern Boeotians were driven out of Arne by the Thessalians,

and settled in the present Boeotia, the former Cadmeis; though there

was a division of them there before, some of whom joined the expedition

to Ilium. Twenty years later, the Dorians and the Heraclids became

masters of Peloponnese; so that much had to be done and many years

had to elapse before Hellas could attain to a durable tranquillity

undisturbed by removals, and could begin to send out colonies, as

Athens did to Ionia and most of the islands, and the Peloponnesians

to most of Italy and Sicily and some places in the rest of Hellas.

All these places were founded subsequently to the war with Troy.


But as the power of Hellas grew, and the acquisition of wealth became

more an object, the revenues of the states increasing, tyrannies were

by their means established almost everywhere- the old form of government

being hereditary monarchy with definite prerogatives- and Hellas began

to fit out fleets and apply herself more closely to the sea. It is

said that the Corinthians were the first to approach the modern style

of naval architecture, and that Corinth was the first place in Hellas

where galleys were built; and we have Ameinocles, a Corinthian shipwright,

making four ships for the Samians. Dating from the end of this war,

it is nearly three hundred years ago that Ameinocles went to Samos.

Again, the earliest sea-fight in history was between the Corinthians

and Corcyraeans; this was about two hundred and sixty years ago, dating

from the same time. Planted on an isthmus, Corinth had from time out

of mind been a commercial emporium; as formerly almost all communication

between the Hellenes within and without Peloponnese was carried on

overland, and the Corinthian territory was the highway through which

it travelled. She had consequently great money resources, as is shown

by the epithet “wealthy” bestowed by the old poets on the place, and

this enabled her, when traffic by sea became more common, to procure

her navy and put down piracy; and as she could offer a mart for both

branches of the trade, she acquired for herself all the power which

a large revenue affords. Subsequently the Ionians attained to great

naval strength in the reign of Cyrus, the first king of the Persians,

and of his son Cambyses, and while they were at war with the former

commanded for a while the Ionian sea. Polycrates also, the tyrant

of Samos, had a powerful navy in the reign of Cambyses, with which

he reduced many of the islands, and among them Rhenea, which he consecrated

to the Delian Apollo. About this time also the Phocaeans, while they

were founding Marseilles, defeated the Carthaginians in a sea-fight.

These were the most powerful navies. And even these, although so many

generations had elapsed since the Trojan war, seem to have been principally

composed of the old fifty-oars and long-boats, and to have counted

few galleys among their ranks. Indeed it was only shortly the Persian

war, and the death of Darius the successor of Cambyses, that the Sicilian

tyrants and the Corcyraeans acquired any large number of galleys.

For after these there were no navies of any account in Hellas till

the expedition of Xerxes; Aegina, Athens, and others may have possessed

a few vessels, but they were principally fifty-oars. It was quite

at the end of this period that the war with Aegina and the prospect

of the barbarian invasion enabled Themistocles to persuade the Athenians

to build the fleet with which they fought at Salamis; and even these

vessels had not complete decks.


The navies, then, of the Hellenes during the period we have traversed

were what I have described. All their insignificance did not prevent

their being an element of the greatest power to those who cultivated

them, alike in revenue and in dominion. They were the means by which

the islands were reached and reduced, those of the smallest area falling

the easiest prey. Wars by land there were none, none at least by which

power was acquired; we have the usual border contests, but of distant

expeditions with conquest for object we hear nothing among the Hellenes.

There was no union of subject cities round a great state, no spontaneous

combination of equals for confederate expeditions; what fighting there

was consisted merely of local warfare between rival neighbours. The

nearest approach to a coalition took place in the old war between

Chalcis and Eretria; this was a quarrel in which the rest of the Hellenic

name did to some extent take sides.


Various, too, were the obstacles which the national growth encountered

in various localities. The power of the Ionians was advancing with

rapid strides, when it came into collision with Persia, under King

Cyrus, who, after having dethroned Croesus and overrun everything

between the Halys and the sea, stopped not till he had reduced the

cities of the coast; the islands being only left to be subdued by

Darius and the Phoenician navy.


Again, wherever there were tyrants, their habit of providing simply

for themselves, of looking solely to their personal comfort and family

aggrandizement, made safety the great aim of their policy, and prevented

anything great proceeding from them; though they would each have their

affairs with their immediate neighbours. All this is only true of

the mother country, for in Sicily they attained to very great power.

Thus for a long time everywhere in Hellas do we find causes which

make the states alike incapable of combination for great and national

ends, or of any vigorous action of their own.


But at last a time came when the tyrants of Athens and the far older

tyrannies of the rest of Hellas were, with the exception of those

in Sicily, once and for all put down by Lacedaemon; for this city,

though after the settlement of the Dorians, its present inhabitants,

it suffered from factions for an unparalleled length of time, still

at a very early period obtained good laws, and enjoyed a freedom from

tyrants which was unbroken; it has possessed the same form of government

for more than four hundred years, reckoning to the end of the late

war, and has thus been in a position to arrange the affairs of the

other states. Not many years after the deposition of the tyrants,

the battle of Marathon was fought between the Medes and the Athenians.

Ten years afterwards, the barbarian returned with the armada for the

subjugation of Hellas. In the face of this great danger, the command

of the confederate Hellenes was assumed by the Lacedaemonians in virtue

of their superior power; and the Athenians, having made up their minds

to abandon their city, broke up their homes, threw themselves into

their ships, and became a naval people. This coalition, after repulsing

the barbarian, soon afterwards split into two sections, which included

the Hellenes who had revolted from the King, as well as those who

had aided him in the war. At the end of the one stood Athens, at the

head of the other Lacedaemon, one the first naval, the other the first

military power in Hellas. For a short time the league held together,

till the Lacedaemonians and Athenians quarrelled and made war upon

each other with their allies, a duel into which all the Hellenes sooner

or later were drawn, though some might at first remain neutral. So

that the whole period from the Median war to this, with some peaceful

intervals, was spent by each power in war, either with its rival,

or with its own revolted allies, and consequently afforded them constant

practice in military matters, and that experience which is learnt

in the school of danger.


The policy of Lacedaemon was not to exact tribute from her allies,

but merely to secure their subservience to her interests by establishing

oligarchies among them; Athens, on the contrary, had by degrees deprived

hers of their ships, and imposed instead contributions in money on

all except Chios and Lesbos. Both found their resources for this war

separately to exceed the sum of their strength when the alliance flourished



Having now given the result of my inquiries into early times, I grant

that there will be a difficulty in believing every particular detail.

The way that most men deal with traditions, even traditions of their

own country, is to receive them all alike as they are delivered, without

applying any critical test whatever. The general Athenian public fancy

that Hipparchus was tyrant when he fell by the hands of Harmodius

and Aristogiton, not knowing that Hippias, the eldest of the sons

of Pisistratus, was really supreme, and that Hipparchus and Thessalus

were his brothers; and that Harmodius and Aristogiton suspecting,

on the very day, nay at the very moment fixed on for the deed, that

information had been conveyed to Hippias by their accomplices, concluded

that he had been warned, and did not attack him, yet, not liking to

be apprehended and risk their lives for nothing, fell upon Hipparchus

near the temple of the daughters of Leos, and slew him as he was arranging

the Panathenaic procession.


There are many other unfounded ideas current among the rest of the

Hellenes, even on matters of contemporary history, which have not

been obscured by time. For instance, there is the notion that the

Lacedaemonian kings have two votes each, the fact being that they

have only one; and that there is a company of Pitane, there being

simply no such thing. So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation

of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand. On

the whole, however, the conclusions I have drawn from the proofs quoted

may, I believe, safely be relied on. Assuredly they will not be disturbed

either by the lays of a poet displaying the exaggeration of his craft,

or by the compositions of the chroniclers that are attractive at truth’s

expense; the subjects they treat of being out of the reach of evidence,

and time having robbed most of them of historical value by enthroning

them in the region of legend. Turning from these, we can rest satisfied

with having proceeded upon the clearest data, and having arrived at

conclusions as exact as can be expected in matters of such antiquity.

To come to this war: despite the known disposition of the actors in

a struggle to overrate its importance, and when it is over to return

to their admiration of earlier events, yet an examination of the facts

will show that it was much greater than the wars which preceded it.


With reference to the speeches in this history, some were delivered

before the war began, others while it was going on; some I heard myself,

others I got from various quarters; it was in all cases difficult

to carry them word for word in one’s memory, so my habit has been

to make the speakers say what was in my opinion demanded of them by

the various occasions, of course adhering as closely as possible to

the general sense of what they really said. And with reference to

the narrative of events, far from permitting myself to derive it from

the first source that came to hand, I did not even trust my own impressions,

but it rests partly on what I saw myself, partly on what others saw

for me, the accuracy of the report being always tried by the most

severe and detailed tests possible. My conclusions have cost me some

labour from the want of coincidence between accounts of the same occurrences

by different eye-witnesses, arising sometimes from imperfect memory,

sometimes from undue partiality for one side or the other. The absence

of romance in my history will, I fear, detract somewhat from its interest;

but if it be judged useful by those inquirers who desire an exact

knowledge of the past as an aid to the interpretation of the future,

which in the course of human things must resemble if it does not reflect

it, I shall be content. In fine, I have written my work, not as an

essay which is to win the applause of the moment, but as a possession

for all time.


The Median War, the greatest achievement of past times, yet found

a speedy decision in two actions by sea and two by land. The Peloponnesian

War was prolonged to an immense length, and, long as it was, it was

short without parallel for the misfortunes that it brought upon Hellas.

Never had so many cities been taken and laid desolate, here by the

barbarians, here by the parties contending (the old inhabitants being

sometimes removed to make room for others); never was there so much

banishing and blood-shedding, now on the field of battle, now in the

strife of faction. Old stories of occurrences handed down by tradition,

but scantily confirmed by experience, suddenly ceased to be incredible;

there were earthquakes of unparalleled extent and violence; eclipses

of the sun occurred with a frequency unrecorded in previous history;

there were great droughts in sundry places and consequent famines,

and that most calamitous and awfully fatal visitation, the plague.

All this came upon them with the late war, which was begun by the

Athenians and Peloponnesians by the dissolution of the thirty years’

truce made after the conquest of Euboea. To the question why they

broke the treaty, I answer by placing first an account of their grounds

of complaint and points of difference, that no one may ever have to

ask the immediate cause which plunged the Hellenes into a war of such

magnitude. The real cause I consider to be the one which was formally

most kept out of sight. The growth of the power of Athens, and the

alarm which this inspired in Lacedaemon, made war inevitable. Still

it is well to give the grounds alleged by either side which led to

the dissolution of the treaty and the breaking out of the war.


Chapter II


Causes of the War – The Affair of Epidamnus – The Affair of Potidaea


The city of Epidamnus stands on the right of the entrance of the Ionic

Gulf. Its vicinity is inhabited by the Taulantians, an Illyrian people.

The place is a colony from Corcyra, founded by Phalius, son of Eratocleides,

of the family of the Heraclids, who had according to ancient usage

been summoned for the purpose from Corinth, the mother country. The

colonists were joined by some Corinthians, and others of the Dorian

race. Now, as time went on, the city of Epidamnus became great and

populous; but falling a prey to factions arising, it is said, from

a war with her neighbours the barbarians, she became much enfeebled,

and lost a considerable amount of her power. The last act before the

war was the expulsion of the nobles by the people. The exiled party

joined the barbarians, and proceeded to plunder those in the city

by sea and land; and the Epidamnians, finding themselves hard pressed,

sent ambassadors to Corcyra beseeching their mother country not to

allow them to perish, but to make up matters between them and the

exiles, and to rid them of the war with the barbarians. The ambassadors

seated themselves in the temple of Hera as suppliants, and made the

above requests to the Corcyraeans. But the Corcyraeans refused to

accept their supplication, and they were dismissed without having

effected anything.


When the Epidamnians found that no help could be expected from Corcyra,

they were in a strait what to do next. So they sent to Delphi and

inquired of the God whether they should deliver their city to the

Corinthians and endeavour to obtain some assistance from their founders.

The answer he gave them was to deliver the city and place themselves

under Corinthian protection. So the Epidamnians went to Corinth and

delivered over the colony in obedience to the commands of the oracle.

They showed that their founder came from Corinth, and revealed the

answer of the god; and they begged them not to allow them to perish,

but to assist them. This the Corinthians consented to do. Believing

the colony to belong as much to themselves as to the Corcyraeans,

they felt it to be a kind of duty to undertake their protection. Besides,

they hated the Corcyraeans for their contempt of the mother country.

Instead of meeting with the usual honours accorded to the parent city

by every other colony at public assemblies, such as precedence at

sacrifices, Corinth found herself treated with contempt by a power

which in point of wealth could stand comparison with any even of the

richest communities in Hellas, which possessed great military strength,

and which sometimes could not repress a pride in the high naval position

of an, island whose nautical renown dated from the days of its old

inhabitants, the Phaeacians. This was one reason of the care that

they lavished on their fleet, which became very efficient; indeed

they began the war with a force of a hundred and twenty galleys.


All these grievances made Corinth eager to send the promised aid to

Epidamnus. Advertisement was made for volunteer settlers, and a force

of Ambraciots, Leucadians, and Corinthians was dispatched. They marched

by land to Apollonia, a Corinthian colony, the route by sea being

avoided from fear of Corcyraean interruption. When the Corcyraeans

heard of the arrival of the settlers and troops in Epidamnus, and

the surrender of the colony to Corinth, they took fire. Instantly

putting to sea with five-and-twenty ships, which were quickly followed

by others, they insolently commanded the Epidamnians to receive back

the banished nobles- (it must be premised that the Epidamnian exiles

had come to Corcyra and, pointing to the sepulchres of their ancestors,

had appealed to their kindred to restore them)- and to dismiss the

Corinthian garrison and settlers. But to all this the Epidamnians

turned a deaf ear. Upon this the Corcyraeans commenced operations

against them with a fleet of forty sail. They took with them the exiles,

with a view to their restoration, and also secured the services of

the Illyrians. Sitting down before the city, they issued a proclamation

to the effect that any of the natives that chose, and the foreigners,

might depart unharmed, with the alternative of being treated as enemies.

On their refusal the Corcyraeans proceeded to besiege the city, which

stands on an isthmus; and the Corinthians, receiving intelligence

of the investment of Epidamnus, got together an armament and proclaimed

a colony to Epidamnus, perfect political equality being guaranteed

to all who chose to go. Any who were not prepared to sail at once

might, by paying down the sum of fifty Corinthian drachmae, have a

share in the colony without leaving Corinth. Great numbers took advantage

of this proclamation, some being ready to start directly, others paying

the requisite forfeit. In case of their passage being disputed by

the Corcyraeans, several cities were asked to lend them a convoy.

Megara prepared to accompany them with eight ships, Pale in Cephallonia

with four; Epidaurus furnished five, Hermione one, Troezen two, Leucas

ten, and Ambracia eight. The Thebans and Phliasians were asked for

money, the Eleans for hulls as well; while Corinth herself furnished

thirty ships and three thousand heavy infantry.


When the Corcyraeans heard of their preparations they came to Corinth

with envoys from Lacedaemon and Sicyon, whom they persuaded to accompany

them, and bade her recall the garrison and settlers, as she had nothing

to do with Epidamnus. If, however, she had any claims to make, they

were willing to submit the matter to the arbitration of such of the

cities in Peloponnese as should be chosen by mutual agreement, and

that the colony should remain with the city to whom the arbitrators

might assign it. They were also willing to refer the matter to the

oracle at Delphi. If, in defiance of their protestations, war was

appealed to, they should be themselves compelled by this violence

to seek friends in quarters where they had no desire to seek them,

and to make even old ties give way to the necessity of assistance.

The answer they got from Corinth was that, if they would withdraw

their fleet and the barbarians from Epidamnus, negotiation might be

possible; but, while the town was still being besieged, going before

arbitrators was out of the question. The Corcyraeans retorted that

if Corinth would withdraw her troops from Epidamnus they would withdraw

theirs, or they were ready to let both parties remain in statu quo,

an armistice being concluded till judgment could be given.


Turning a deaf ear to all these proposals, when their ships were manned

and their allies had come in, the Corinthians sent a herald before

them to declare war and, getting under way with seventy-five ships

and two thousand heavy infantry, sailed for Epidamnus to give battle

to the Corcyraeans. The fleet was under the command of Aristeus, son

of Pellichas, Callicrates, son of Callias, and Timanor, son of Timanthes;

the troops under that of Archetimus, son of Eurytimus, and Isarchidas,

son of Isarchus. When they had reached Actium in the territory of

Anactorium, at the mouth of the mouth of the Gulf of Ambracia, where

the temple of Apollo stands, the Corcyraeans sent on a herald in a

light boat to warn them not to sail against them. Meanwhile they proceeded

to man their ships, all of which had been equipped for action, the

old vessels being undergirded to make them seaworthy. On the return

of the herald without any peaceful answer from the Corinthians, their

ships being now manned, they put out to sea to meet the enemy with

a fleet of eighty sail (forty were engaged in the siege of Epidamnus),

formed line, and went into action, and gained a decisive victory,

and destroyed fifteen of the Corinthian vessels. The same day had

seen Epidamnus compelled by its besiegers to capitulate; the conditions

being that the foreigners should be sold, and the Corinthians kept

as prisoners of war, till their fate should be otherwise decided.


After the engagement the Corcyraeans set up a trophy on Leukimme,

a headland of Corcyra, and slew all their captives except the Corinthians,

whom they kept as prisoners of war. Defeated at sea, the Corinthians

and their allies repaired home, and left the Corcyraeans masters of

all the sea about those parts. Sailing to Leucas, a Corinthian colony,

they ravaged their territory, and burnt Cyllene, the harbour of the

Eleans, because they had furnished ships and money to Corinth. For

almost the whole of the period that followed the battle they remained

masters of the sea, and the allies of Corinth were harassed by Corcyraean

cruisers. At last Corinth, roused by the sufferings of her allies,

sent out ships and troops in the fall of the summer, who formed an

encampment at Actium and about Chimerium, in Thesprotis, for the protection

of Leucas and the rest of the friendly cities. The Corcyraeans on

their part formed a similar station on Leukimme. Neither party made

any movement, but they remained confronting each other till the end

of the summer, and winter was at hand before either of them returned



Corinth, exasperated by the war with the Corcyraeans, spent the whole

of the year after the engagement and that succeeding it in building

ships, and in straining every nerve to form an efficient fleet; rowers

being drawn from Peloponnese and the rest of Hellas by the inducement

of large bounties. The Corcyraeans, alarmed at the news of their preparations,

being without a single ally in Hellas (for they had not enrolled themselves

either in the Athenian or in the Lacedaemonian confederacy), decided

to repair to Athens in order to enter into alliance and to endeavour

to procure support from her. Corinth also, hearing of their intentions,

sent an embassy to Athens to prevent the Corcyraean navy being joined

by the Athenian, and her prospect of ordering the war according to

her wishes being thus impeded. An assembly was convoked, and the rival

advocates appeared: the Corcyraeans spoke as follows:


“Athenians! when a people that have not rendered any important service

or support to their neighbours in times past, for which they might

claim to be repaid, appear before them as we now appear before you

to solicit their assistance, they may fairly be required to satisfy

certain preliminary conditions. They should show, first, that it is

expedient or at least safe to grant their request; next, that they

will retain a lasting sense of the kindness. But if they cannot clearly

establish any of these points, they must not be annoyed if they meet

with a rebuff. Now the Corcyraeans believe that with their petition

for assistance they can also give you a satisfactory answer on these

points, and they have therefore dispatched us hither. It has so happened

that our policy as regards you with respect to this request, turns

out to be inconsistent, and as regards our interests, to be at the

present crisis inexpedient. We say inconsistent, because a power which

has never in the whole of her past history been willing to ally herself

with any of her neighbours, is now found asking them to ally themselves

with her. And we say inexpedient, because in our present war with

Corinth it has left us in a position of entire isolation, and what

once seemed the wise precaution of refusing to involve ourselves in

alliances with other powers, lest we should also involve ourselves

in risks of their choosing, has now proved to be folly and weakness.

It is true that in the late naval engagement we drove back the Corinthians

from our shores single-handed. But they have now got together a still

larger armament from Peloponnese and the rest of Hellas; and we, seeing

our utter inability to cope with them without foreign aid, and the

magnitude of the danger which subjection to them implies, find it

necessary to ask help from you and from every other power. And we

hope to be excused if we forswear our old principle of complete political

isolation, a principle which was not adopted with any sinister intention,

but was rather the consequence of an error in judgment.


“Now there are many reasons why in the event of your compliance you

will congratulate yourselves on this request having been made to you.

First, because your assistance will be rendered to a power which,

herself inoffensive, is a victim to the injustice of others. Secondly,

because all that we most value is at stake in the present contest,

and your welcome of us under these circumstances will be a proof of

goodwill which will ever keep alive the gratitude you will lay up

in our hearts. Thirdly, yourselves excepted, we are the greatest naval

power in Hellas. Moreover, can you conceive a stroke of good fortune

more rare in itself, or more disheartening to your enemies, than that

the power whose adhesion you would have valued above much material

and moral strength should present herself self-invited, should deliver

herself into your hands without danger and without expense, and should

lastly put you in the way of gaining a high character in the eyes

of the world, the gratitude of those whom you shall assist, and a

great accession of strength for yourselves? You may search all history

without finding many instances of a people gaining all these advantages

at once, or many instances of a power that comes in quest of assistance

being in a position to give to the people whose alliance she solicits

as much safety and honour as she will receive. But it will be urged

that it is only in the case of a war that we shall be found useful.

To this we answer that if any of you imagine that that war is far

off, he is grievously mistaken, and is blind to the fact that Lacedaemon

regards you with jealousy and desires war, and that Corinth is powerful

there- the same, remember, that is your enemy, and is even now trying

to subdue us as a preliminary to attacking you. And this she does

to prevent our becoming united by a common enmity, and her having

us both on her hands, and also to ensure getting the start of you

in one of two ways, either by crippling our power or by making its

strength her own. Now it is our policy to be beforehand with her-

that is, for Corcyra to make an offer of alliance and for you to accept

it; in fact, we ought to form plans against her instead of waiting

to defeat the plans she forms against us.


“If she asserts that for you to receive a colony of hers into alliance

is not right, let her know that every colony that is well treated

honours its parent state, but becomes estranged from it by injustice.

For colonists are not sent forth on the understanding that they are

to be the slaves of those that remain behind, but that they are to

be their equals. And that Corinth was injuring us is clear. Invited

to refer the dispute about Epidamnus to arbitration, they chose to

prosecute their complaints war rather than by a fair trial. And let

their conduct towards us who are their kindred be a warning to you

not to be misled by their deceit, nor to yield to their direct requests;

concessions to adversaries only end in self-reproach, and the more

strictly they are avoided the greater will be the chance of security.


“If it be urged that your reception of us will be a breach of the

treaty existing between you and Lacedaemon, the answer is that we

are a neutral state, and that one of the express provisions of that

treaty is that it shall be competent for any Hellenic state that is

neutral to join whichever side it pleases. And it is intolerable for

Corinth to be allowed to obtain men for her navy not only from her

allies, but also from the rest of Hellas, no small number being furnished

by your own subjects; while we are to be excluded both from the alliance

left open to us by treaty, and from any assistance that we might get

from other quarters, and you are to be accused of political immorality

if you comply with our request. On the other hand, we shall have much

greater cause to complain of you, if you do not comply with it; if

we, who are in peril and are no enemies of yours, meet with a repulse

at your hands, while Corinth, who is the aggressor and your enemy,

not only meets with no hindrance from you, but is even allowed to

draw material for war from your dependencies. This ought not to be,

but you should either forbid her enlisting men in your dominions,

or you should lend us too what help you may think advisable.


“But your real policy is to afford us avowed countenance and support.

The advantages of this course, as we premised in the beginning of

our speech, are many. We mention one that is perhaps the chief. Could

there be a clearer guarantee of our good faith than is offered by

the fact that the power which is at enmity with you is also at enmity

with us, and that that power is fully able to punish defection? And

there is a wide difference between declining the alliance of an inland

and of a maritime power. For your first endeavour should be to prevent,

if possible, the existence of any naval power except your own; failing

this, to secure the friendship of the strongest that does exist. And

if any of you believe that what we urge is expedient, but fear to

act upon this belief, lest it should lead to a breach of the treaty,

you must remember that on the one hand, whatever your fears, your

strength will be formidable to your antagonists; on the other, whatever

the confidence you derive from refusing to receive us, your weakness

will have no terrors for a strong enemy. You must also remember that

your decision is for Athens no less than Corcyra, and that you are

not making the best provision for her interests, if at a time when

you are anxiously scanning the horizon that you may be in readiness

for the breaking out of the war which is all but upon you, you hesitate

to attach to your side a place whose adhesion or estrangement is alike

pregnant with the most vital consequences. For it lies conveniently

for the coast- navigation in the direction of Italy and Sicily, being

able to bar the passage of naval reinforcements from thence to Peloponnese,

and from Peloponnese thither; and it is in other respects a most desirable

station. To sum up as shortly as possible, embracing both general

and particular considerations, let this show you the folly of sacrificing

us. Remember that there are but three considerable naval powers in

Hellas- Athens, Corcyra, and Corinth- and that if you allow two of

these three to become one, and Corinth to secure us for herself, you

will have to hold the sea against the united fleets of Corcyra and

Peloponnese. But if you receive us, you will have our ships to reinforce

you in the struggle.”


Such were the words of the Corcyraeans. After they had finished, the

Corinthians spoke as follows:


“These Corcyraeans in the speech we have just heard do not confine

themselves to the question of their reception into your alliance.

They also talk of our being guilty of injustice, and their being the

victims of an unjustifiable war. It becomes necessary for us to touch

upon both these points before we proceed to the rest of what we have

to say, that you may have a more correct idea of the grounds of our

claim, and have good cause to reject their petition. According to

them, their old policy of refusing all offers of alliance was a policy

of moderation. It was in fact adopted for bad ends, not for good;

indeed their conduct is such as to make them by no means desirous

of having allies present to witness it, or of having the shame of

asking their concurrence. Besides, their geographical situation makes

them independent of others, and consequently the decision in cases

where they injure any lies not with judges appointed by mutual agreement,

but with themselves, because, while they seldom make voyages to their

neighbours, they are constantly being visited by foreign vessels which

are compelled to put in to Corcyra. In short, the object that they

propose to themselves, in their specious policy of complete isolation,

is not to avoid sharing in the crimes of others, but to secure monopoly

of crime to themselves- the licence of outrage wherever they can compel,

of fraud wherever they can elude, and the enjoyment of their gains

without shame. And yet if they were the honest men they pretend to

be, the less hold that others had upon them, the stronger would be

the light in which they might have put their honesty by giving and

taking what was just.


“But such has not been their conduct either towards others or towards

us. The attitude of our colony towards us has always been one of estrangement

and is now one of hostility; for, say they: ‘We were not sent out

to be ill-treated.’ We rejoin that we did not found the colony to

be insulted by them, but to be their head and to be regarded with

a proper respect. At any rate our other colonies honour us, and we

are much beloved by our colonists; and clearly, if the majority are

satisfied with us, these can have no good reason for a dissatisfaction

in which they stand alone, and we are not acting improperly in making

war against them, nor are we making war against them without having

received signal provocation. Besides, if we were in the wrong, it

would be honourable in them to give way to our wishes, and disgraceful

for us to trample on their moderation; but in the pride and licence

of wealth they have sinned again and again against us, and never more

deeply than when Epidamnus, our dependency, which they took no steps

to claim in its distress upon our coming to relieve it, was by them

seized, and is now held by force of arms.


“As to their allegation that they wished the question to be first

submitted to arbitration, it is obvious that a challenge coming from

the party who is safe in a commanding position cannot gain the credit

due only to him who, before appealing to arms, in deeds as well as

words, places himself on a level with his adversary. In their case,

it was not before they laid siege to the place, but after they at

length understood that we should not tamely suffer it, that they thought

of the specious word arbitration. And not satisfied with their own

misconduct there, they appear here now requiring you to join with

them not in alliance but in crime, and to receive them in spite of

their being at enmity with us. But it was when they stood firmest

that they should have made overtures to you, and not at a time when

we have been wronged and they are in peril; nor yet at a time when

you will be admitting to a share in your protection those who never

admitted you to a share in their power, and will be incurring an equal

amount of blame from us with those in whose offences you had no hand.

No, they should have shared their power with you before they asked

you to share your fortunes with them.


“So then the reality of the grievances we come to complain of, and

the violence and rapacity of our opponents, have both been proved.

But that you cannot equitably receive them, this you have still to

learn. It may be true that one of the provisions of the treaty is

that it shall be competent for any state, whose name was not down

on the list, to join whichever side it pleases. But this agreement

is not meant for those whose object in joining is the injury of other

powers, but for those whose need of support does not arise from the

fact of defection, and whose adhesion will not bring to the power

that is mad enough to receive them war instead of peace; which will

be the case with you, if you refuse to listen to us. For you cannot

become their auxiliary and remain our friend; if you join in their

attack, you must share the punishment which the defenders inflict

on them. And yet you have the best possible right to be neutral, or,

failing this, you should on the contrary join us against them. Corinth

is at least in treaty with you; with Corcyra you were never even in

truce. But do not lay down the principle that defection is to be patronized.

Did we on the defection of the Samians record our vote against you,

when the rest of the Peloponnesian powers were equally divided on

the question whether they should assist them? No, we told them to

their face that every power has a right to punish its own allies.

Why, if you make it your policy to receive and assist all offenders,

you will find that just as many of your dependencies will come over

to us, and the principle that you establish will press less heavily

on us than on yourselves.


“This then is what Hellenic law entitles us to demand as a right.

But we have also advice to offer and claims on your gratitude, which,

since there is no danger of our injuring you, as we are not enemies,

and since our friendship does not amount to very frequent intercourse,

we say ought to be liquidated at the present juncture. When you were

in want of ships of war for the war against the Aeginetans, before

the Persian invasion, Corinth supplied you with twenty vessels. That

good turn, and the line we took on the Samian question, when we were

the cause of the Peloponnesians refusing to assist them, enabled you

to conquer Aegina and to punish Samos. And we acted thus at crises

when, if ever, men are wont in their efforts against their enemies

to forget everything for the sake of victory, regarding him who assists

them then as a friend, even if thus far he has been a foe, and him

who opposes them then as a foe, even if he has thus far been a friend;

indeed they allow their real interests to suffer from their absorbing

preoccupation in the struggle.


“Weigh well these considerations, and let your youth learn what they

are from their elders, and let them determine to do unto us as we

have done unto you. And let them not acknowledge the justice of what

we say, but dispute its wisdom in the contingency of war. Not only

is the straightest path generally speaking the wisest; but the coming

of the war, which the Corcyraeans have used as a bugbear to persuade

you to do wrong, is still uncertain, and it is not worth while to

be carried away by it into gaining the instant and declared enmity

of Corinth. It were, rather, wise to try and counteract the unfavourable

impression which your conduct to Megara has created. For kindness

opportunely shown has a greater power of removing old grievances than

the facts of the case may warrant. And do not be seduced by the prospect

of a great naval alliance. Abstinence from all injustice to other

first-rate powers is a greater tower of strength than anything that

can be gained by the sacrifice of permanent tranquillity for an apparent

temporary advantage. It is now our turn to benefit by the principle

that we laid down at Lacedaemon, that every power has a right to punish

her own allies. We now claim to receive the same from you, and protest

against your rewarding us for benefiting you by our vote by injuring

us by yours. On the contrary, return us like for like, remembering

that this is that very crisis in which he who lends aid is most a

friend, and he who opposes is most a foe. And for these Corcyraeans-

neither receive them into alliance in our despite, nor be their abettors

in crime. So do, and you will act as we have a right to expect of

you, and at the same time best consult your own interests.”


Such were the words of the Corinthians.


When the Athenians had heard both out, two assemblies were held. In

the first there was a manifest disposition to listen to the representations

of Corinth; in the second, public feeling had changed and an alliance

with Corcyra was decided on, with certain reservations. It was to

be a defensive, not an offensive alliance. It did not involve a breach

of the treaty with Peloponnese: Athens could not be required to join

Corcyra in any attack upon Corinth. But each of the contracting parties

had a right to the other’s assistance against invasion, whether of

his own territory or that of an ally. For it began now to be felt

that the coming of the Peloponnesian war was only a question of time,

and no one was willing to see a naval power of such magnitude as Corcyra

sacrificed to Corinth; though if they could let them weaken each other

by mutual conflict, it would be no bad preparation for the struggle

which Athens might one day have to wage with Corinth and the other

naval powers. At the same time the island seemed to lie conveniently

on the coasting passage to Italy and Sicily. With these views, Athens

received Corcyra into alliance and, on the departure of the Corinthians

not long afterwards, sent ten ships to their assistance. They were

commanded by Lacedaemonius, the son of Cimon, Diotimus, the son of

Strombichus, and Proteas, the son of Epicles. Their instructions were

to avoid collision with the Corinthian fleet except under certain

circumstances. If it sailed to Corcyra and threatened a landing on

her coast, or in any of her possessions, they were to do their utmost

to prevent it. These instructions were prompted by an anxiety to avoid

a breach of the treaty.


Meanwhile the Corinthians completed their preparations, and sailed

for Corcyra with a hundred and fifty ships. Of these Elis furnished

ten, Megara twelve, Leucas ten, Ambracia twenty-seven, Anactorium

one, and Corinth herself ninety. Each of these contingents had its

own admiral, the Corinthian being under the command of Xenoclides,

son of Euthycles, with four colleagues. Sailing from Leucas, they

made land at the part of the continent opposite Corcyra. They anchored

in the harbour of Chimerium, in the territory of Thesprotis, above

which, at some distance from the sea, lies the city of Ephyre, in

the Elean district. By this city the Acherusian lake pours its waters

into the sea. It gets its name from the river Acheron, which flows

through Thesprotis and falls into the lake. There also the river Thyamis

flows, forming the boundary between Thesprotis and Kestrine; and between

these rivers rises the point of Chimerium. In this part of the continent

the Corinthians now came to anchor, and formed an encampment. When

the Corcyraeans saw them coming, they manned a hundred and ten ships,

commanded by Meikiades, Aisimides, and Eurybatus, and stationed themselves

at one of the Sybota isles; the ten Athenian ships being present.

On Point Leukimme they posted their land forces, and a thousand heavy

infantry who had come from Zacynthus to their assistance. Nor were

the Corinthians on the mainland without their allies. The barbarians

flocked in large numbers to their assistance, the inhabitants of this

part of the continent being old allies of theirs.


When the Corinthian preparations were completed, they took three days’

provisions and put out from Chimerium by night, ready for action.

Sailing with the dawn, they sighted the Corcyraean fleet out at sea

and coming towards them. When they perceived each other, both sides

formed in order of battle. On the Corcyraean right wing lay the Athenian

ships, the rest of the line being occupied by their own vessels formed

in three squadrons, each of which was commanded by one of the three

admirals. Such was the Corcyraean formation. The Corinthian was as

follows: on the right wing lay the Megarian and Ambraciot ships, in

the centre the rest of the allies in order. But the left was composed

of the best sailers in the Corinthian navy, to encounter the Athenians

and the right wing of the Corcyraeans. As soon as the signals were

raised on either side, they joined battle. Both sides had a large

number of heavy infantry on their decks, and a large number of archers

and darters, the old imperfect armament still prevailing. The sea-fight

was an obstinate one, though not remarkable for its science; indeed

it was more like a battle by land. Whenever they charged each other,

the multitude and crush of the vessels made it by no means easy to

get loose; besides, their hopes of victory lay principally in the

heavy infantry on the decks, who stood and fought in order, the ships

remaining stationary. The manoeuvre of breaking the line was not tried;

in short, strength and pluck had more share in the fight than science.

Everywhere tumult reigned, the battle being one scene of confusion;

meanwhile the Athenian ships, by coming up to the Corcyraeans whenever

they were pressed, served to alarm the enemy, though their commanders

could not join in the battle from fear of their instructions. The

right wing of the Corinthians suffered most. The Corcyraeans routed

it, and chased them in disorder to the continent with twenty ships,

sailed up to their camp, and burnt the tents which they found empty,

and plundered the stuff. So in this quarter the Corinthians and their

allies were defeated, and the Corcyraeans were victorious. But where

the Corinthians themselves were, on the left, they gained a decided

success; the scanty forces of the Corcyraeans being further weakened

by the want of the twenty ships absent on the pursuit. Seeing the

Corcyraeans hard pressed, the Athenians began at length to assist

them more unequivocally. At first, it is true, they refrained from

charging any ships; but when the rout was becoming patent, and the

Corinthians were pressing on, the time at last came when every one

set to, and all distinction was laid aside, and it came to this point,

that the Corinthians and Athenians raised their hands against each



After the rout, the Corinthians, instead of employing themselves in

lashing fast and hauling after them the hulls of the vessels which

they had disabled, turned their attention to the men, whom they butchered

as they sailed through, not caring so much to make prisoners. Some

even of their own friends were slain by them, by mistake, in their

ignorance of the defeat of the right wing For the number of the ships

on both sides, and the distance to which they covered the sea, made

it difficult, after they had once joined, to distinguish between the

conquering and the conquered; this battle proving far greater than

any before it, any at least between Hellenes, for the number of vessels

engaged. After the Corinthians had chased the Corcyraeans to the land,

they turned to the wrecks and their dead, most of whom they succeeded

in getting hold of and conveying to Sybota, the rendezvous of the

land forces furnished by their barbarian allies. Sybota, it must be

known, is a desert harbour of Thesprotis. This task over, they mustered

anew, and sailed against the Corcyraeans, who on their part advanced

to meet them with all their ships that were fit for service and remaining

to them, accompanied by the Athenian vessels, fearing that they might

attempt a landing in their territory. It was by this time getting

late, and the paean had been sung for the attack, when the Corinthians

suddenly began to back water. They had observed twenty Athenian ships

sailing up, which had been sent out afterwards to reinforce the ten

vessels by the Athenians, who feared, as it turned out justly, the

defeat of the Corcyraeans and the inability of their handful of ships

to protect them. These ships were thus seen by the Corinthians first.

They suspected that they were from Athens, and that those which they

saw were not all, but that there were more behind; they accordingly

began to retire. The Corcyraeans meanwhile had not sighted them, as

they were advancing from a point which they could not so well see,

and were wondering why the Corinthians were backing water, when some

caught sight of them, and cried out that there were ships in sight

ahead. Upon this they also retired; for it was now getting dark, and

the retreat of the Corinthians had suspended hostilities. Thus they

parted from each other, and the battle ceased with night. The Corcyraeans

were in their camp at Leukimme, when these twenty ships from Athens,

under the command of Glaucon, the son of Leagrus, and Andocides, son

of Leogoras, bore on through the corpses and the wrecks, and sailed

up to the camp, not long after they were sighted. It was now night,

and the Corcyraeans feared that they might be hostile vessels; but

they soon knew them, and the ships came to anchor.


The next day the thirty Athenian vessels put out to sea, accompanied

by all the Corcyraean ships that were seaworthy, and sailed to the

harbour at Sybota, where the Corinthians lay, to see if they would

engage. The Corinthians put out from the land and formed a line in

the open sea, but beyond this made no further movement, having no

intention of assuming the offensive. For they saw reinforcements arrived

fresh from Athens, and themselves confronted by numerous difficulties,

such as the necessity of guarding the prisoners whom they had on board

and the want of all means of refitting their ships in a desert place.

What they were thinking more about was how their voyage home was to

be effected; they feared that the Athenians might consider that the

treaty was dissolved by the collision which had occurred, and forbid

their departure.


Accordingly they resolved to put some men on board a boat, and send

them without a herald’s wand to the Athenians, as an experiment. Having

done so, they spoke as follows: “You do wrong, Athenians, to begin

war and break the treaty. Engaged in chastising our enemies, we find

you placing yourselves in our path in arms against us. Now if your

intentions are to prevent us sailing to Corcyra, or anywhere else

that we may wish, and if you are for breaking the treaty, first take

us that are here and treat us as enemies.” Such was what they said,

and all the Corcyraean armament that were within hearing immediately

called out to take them and kill them. But the Athenians answered

as follows: “Neither are we beginning war, Peloponnesians, nor are

we breaking the treaty; but these Corcyraeans are our allies, and

we are come to help them. So if you want to sail anywhere else, we

place no obstacle in your way; but if you are going to sail against

Corcyra, or any of her possessions, we shall do our best to stop you.”


Receiving this answer from the Athenians, the Corinthians commenced

preparations for their voyage home, and set up a trophy in Sybota,

on the continent; while the Corcyraeans took up the wrecks and dead

that had been carried out to them by the current, and by a wind which

rose in the night and scattered them in all directions, and set up

their trophy in Sybota, on the island, as victors. The reasons each

side had for claiming the victory were these. The Corinthians had

been victorious in the sea-fight until night; and having thus been

enabled to carry off most wrecks and dead, they were in possession

of no fewer than a thousand prisoners of war, and had sunk close upon

seventy vessels. The Corcyraeans had destroyed about thirty ships,

and after the arrival of the Athenians had taken up the wrecks and

dead on their side; they had besides seen the Corinthians retire before

them, backing water on sight of the Athenian vessels, and upon the

arrival of the Athenians refuse to sail out against them from Sybota.

Thus both sides claimed the victory.


The Corinthians on the voyage home took Anactorium, which stands at

the mouth of the Ambracian gulf. The place was taken by treachery,

being common ground to the Corcyraeans and Corinthians. After establishing

Corinthian settlers there, they retired home. Eight hundred of the

Corcyraeans were slaves; these they sold; two hundred and fifty they

retained in captivity, and treated with great attention, in the hope

that they might bring over their country to Corinth on their return;

most of them being, as it happened, men of very high position in Corcyra.

In this way Corcyra maintained her political existence in the war

with Corinth, and the Athenian vessels left the island. This was the

first cause of the war that Corinth had against the Athenians, viz.,

that they had fought against them with the Corcyraeans in time of



Almost immediately after this, fresh differences arose between the

Athenians and Peloponnesians, and contributed their share to the war.

Corinth was forming schemes for retaliation, and Athens suspected

her hostility. The Potidaeans, who inhabit the isthmus of Pallene,

being a Corinthian colony, but tributary allies of Athens, were ordered

to raze the wall looking towards Pallene, to give hostages, to dismiss

the Corinthian magistrates, and in future not to receive the persons

sent from Corinth annually to succeed them. It was feared that they

might be persuaded by Perdiccas and the Corinthians to revolt, and

might draw the rest of the allies in the direction of Thrace to revolt

with them. These precautions against the Potidaeans were taken by

the Athenians immediately after the battle at Corcyra. Not only was

Corinth at length openly hostile, but Perdiccas, son of Alexander,

king of the Macedonians, had from an old friend and ally been made

an enemy. He had been made an enemy by the Athenians entering into

alliance with his brother Philip and Derdas, who were in league against

him. In his alarm he had sent to Lacedaemon to try and involve the

Athenians in a war with the Peloponnesians, and was endeavouring to

win over Corinth in order to bring about the revolt of Potidaea. He

also made overtures to the Chalcidians in the direction of Thrace,

and to the Bottiaeans, to persuade them to join in the revolt; for

he thought that if these places on the border could be made his allies,

it would be easier to carry on the war with their co-operation. Alive

to all this, and wishing to anticipate the revolt of the cities, the

Athenians acted as follows. They were just then sending off thirty

ships and a thousand heavy infantry for his country under the command

of Archestratus, son of Lycomedes, with four colleagues. They instructed

the captains to take hostages of the Potidaeans, to raze the wall,

and to be on their guard against the revolt of the neighbouring cities.


Meanwhile the Potidaeans sent envoys to Athens on the chance of persuading

them to take no new steps in their matters; they also went to Lacedaemon

with the Corinthians to secure support in case of need. Failing after

prolonged negotiation to obtain anything satisfactory from the Athenians;

being unable, for all they could say, to prevent the vessels that

were destined for Macedonia from also sailing against them; and receiving

from the Lacedaemonian government a promise to invade Attica, if the

Athenians should attack Potidaea, the Potidaeans, thus favoured by

the moment, at last entered into league with the Chalcidians and Bottiaeans,

and revolted. And Perdiccas induced the Chalcidians to abandon and

demolish their towns on the seaboard and, settling inland at Olynthus,

to make that one city a strong place: meanwhile to those who followed

his advice he gave a part of his territory in Mygdonia round Lake

Bolbe as a place of abode while the war against the Athenians should

last. They accordingly demolished their towns, removed inland and

prepared for war. The thirty ships of the Athenians, arriving before

the Thracian places, found Potidaea and the rest in revolt. Their

commanders, considering it to be quite impossible with their present

force to carry on war with Perdiccas and with the confederate towns

as well turned to Macedonia, their original destination, and, having

established themselves there, carried on war in co-operation with

Philip, and the brothers of Derdas, who had invaded the country from

the interior.


Meanwhile the Corinthians, with Potidaea in revolt and the Athenian

ships on the coast of Macedonia, alarmed for the safety of the place

and thinking its danger theirs, sent volunteers from Corinth, and

mercenaries from the rest of Peloponnese, to the number of sixteen

hundred heavy infantry in all, and four hundred light troops. Aristeus,

son of Adimantus, who was always a steady friend to the Potidaeans,

took command of the expedition, and it was principally for love of

him that most of the men from Corinth volunteered. They arrived in

Thrace forty days after the revolt of Potidaea.


The Athenians also immediately received the news of the revolt of

the cities. On being informed that Aristeus and his reinforcements

were on their way, they sent two thousand heavy infantry of their

own citizens and forty ships against the places in revolt, under the

command of Callias, son of Calliades, and four colleagues. They arrived

in Macedonia first, and found the force of a thousand men that had

been first sent out, just become masters of Therme and besieging Pydna.

Accordingly they also joined in the investment, and besieged Pydna

for a while. Subsequently they came to terms and concluded a forced

alliance with Perdiccas, hastened by the calls of Potidaea and by

the arrival of Aristeus at that place. They withdrew from Macedonia,

going to Beroea and thence to Strepsa, and, after a futile attempt

on the latter place, they pursued by land their march to Potidaea

with three thousand heavy infantry of their own citizens, besides

a number of their allies, and six hundred Macedonian horsemen, the

followers of Philip and Pausanias. With these sailed seventy ships

along the coast. Advancing by short marches, on the third day they

arrived at Gigonus, where they encamped.


Meanwhile the Potidaeans and the Peloponnesians with Aristeus were

encamped on the side looking towards Olynthus on the isthmus, in expectation

of the Athenians, and had established their market outside the city.

The allies had chosen Aristeus general of all the infantry; while

the command of the cavalry was given to Perdiccas, who had at once

left the alliance of the Athenians and gone back to that of the Potidaeans,

having deputed Iolaus as his general: The plan of Aristeus was to

keep his own force on the isthmus, and await the attack of the Athenians;

leaving the Chalcidians and the allies outside the isthmus, and the

two hundred cavalry from Perdiccas in Olynthus to act upon the Athenian

rear, on the occasion of their advancing against him; and thus to

place the enemy between two fires. While Callias the Athenian general

and his colleagues dispatched the Macedonian horse and a few of the

allies to Olynthus, to prevent any movement being made from that quarter,

the Athenians themselves broke up their camp and marched against Potidaea.

After they had arrived at the isthmus, and saw the enemy preparing

for battle, they formed against him, and soon afterwards engaged.

The wing of Aristeus, with the Corinthians and other picked troops

round him, routed the wing opposed to it, and followed for a considerable

distance in pursuit. But the rest of the army of the Potidaeans and

of the Peloponnesians was defeated by the Athenians, and took refuge

within the fortifications. Returning from the pursuit, Aristeus perceived

the defeat of the rest of the army. Being at a loss which of the two

risks to choose, whether to go to Olynthus or to Potidaea, he at last

determined to draw his men into as small a space as possible, and

force his way with a run into Potidaea. Not without difficulty, through

a storm of missiles, he passed along by the breakwater through the

sea, and brought off most of his men safe, though a few were lost.

Meanwhile the auxiliaries of the Potidaeans from Olynthus, which is

about seven miles off and in sight of Potidaea, when the battle began

and the signals were raised, advanced a little way to render assistance;

and the Macedonian horse formed against them to prevent it. But on

victory speedily declaring for the Athenians and the signals being

taken down, they retired back within the wall; and the Macedonians

returned to the Athenians. Thus there were no cavalry present on either

side. After the battle the Athenians set up a trophy, and gave back

their dead to the Potidaeans under truce. The Potidaeans and their

allies had close upon three hundred killed; the Athenians a hundred

and fifty of their own citizens, and Callias their general.


The wall on the side of the isthmus had now works at once raised against

it, and manned by the Athenians. That on the side of Pallene had no

works raised against it. They did not think themselves strong enough

at once to keep a garrison in the isthmus and to cross over to Pallene

and raise works there; they were afraid that the Potidaeans and their

allies might take advantage of their division to attack them. Meanwhile

the Athenians at home learning that there were no works at Pallene,

some time afterwards sent off sixteen hundred heavy infantry of their

own citizens under the command of Phormio, son of Asopius. Arrived

at Pallene, he fixed his headquarters at Aphytis, and led his army

against Potidaea by short marches, ravaging the country as he advanced.

No one venturing to meet him in the field, he raised works against

the wall on the side of Pallene. So at length Potidaea was strongly

invested on either side, and from the sea by the ships co-operating

in the blockade. Aristeus, seeing its investment complete, and having

no hope of its salvation, except in the event of some movement from

the Peloponnese, or of some other improbable contingency, advised

all except five hundred to watch for a wind and sail out of the place,

in order that their provisions might last the longer. He was willing

to be himself one of those who remained. Unable to persuade them,

and desirous of acting on the next alternative, and of having things

outside in the best posture possible, he eluded the guardships of

the Athenians and sailed out. Remaining among the Chalcidians, he

continued to carry on the war; in particular he laid an ambuscade

near the city of the Sermylians, and cut off many of them; he also

communicated with Peloponnese, and tried to contrive some method by

which help might be brought. Meanwhile, after the completion of the

investment of Potidaea, Phormio next employed his sixteen hundred

men in ravaging Chalcidice and Bottica: some of the towns also were

taken by him.


Chapter III


Congress of the Peloponnesian Confederacy at Lacedaemon


The Athenians and Peloponnesians had these antecedent grounds of complaint

against each other: the complaint of Corinth was that her colony of

Potidaea, and Corinthian and Peloponnesian citizens within it, were

being besieged; that of Athens against the Peloponnesians that they

had incited a town of hers, a member of her alliance and a contributor

to her revenue, to revolt, and had come and were openly fighting against

her on the side of the Potidaeans. For all this, war had not yet broken

out: there was still truce for a while; for this was a private enterprise

on the part of Corinth.


But the siege of Potidaea put an end to her inaction; she had men

inside it: besides, she feared for the place. Immediately summoning

the allies to Lacedaemon, she came and loudly accused Athens of breach

of the treaty and aggression on the rights of Peloponnese. With her,

the Aeginetans, formally unrepresented from fear of Athens, in secret

proved not the least urgent of the advocates for war, asserting that

they had not the independence guaranteed to them by the treaty. After

extending the summons to any of their allies and others who might

have complaints to make of Athenian aggression, the Lacedaemonians

held their ordinary assembly, and invited them to speak. There were

many who came forward and made their several accusations; among them

the Megarians, in a long list of grievances, called special attention

to the fact of their exclusion from the ports of the Athenian empire

and the market of Athens, in defiance of the treaty. Last of all the

Corinthians came forward, and having let those who preceded them inflame

the Lacedaemonians, now followed with a speech to this effect:


“Lacedaemonians! the confidence which you feel in your constitution

and social order, inclines you to receive any reflections of ours

on other powers with a certain scepticism. Hence springs your moderation,

but hence also the rather limited knowledge which you betray in dealing

with foreign politics. Time after time was our voice raised to warn

you of the blows about to be dealt us by Athens, and time after time,

instead of taking the trouble to ascertain the worth of our communications,

you contented yourselves with suspecting the speakers of being inspired

by private interest. And so, instead of calling these allies together

before the blow fell, you have delayed to do so till we are smarting

under it; allies among whom we have not the worst title to speak,

as having the greatest complaints to make, complaints of Athenian

outrage and Lacedaemonian neglect. Now if these assaults on the rights

of Hellas had been made in the dark, you might be unacquainted with

the facts, and it would be our duty to enlighten you. As it is, long

speeches are not needed where you see servitude accomplished for some

of us, meditated for others- in particular for our allies- and prolonged

preparations in the aggressor against the hour of war. Or what, pray,

is the meaning of their reception of Corcyra by fraud, and their holding

it against us by force? what of the siege of Potidaea?- places one

of which lies most conveniently for any action against the Thracian

towns; while the other would have contributed a very large navy to

the Peloponnesians?


“For all this you are responsible. You it was who first allowed them

to fortify their city after the Median war, and afterwards to erect

the long walls- you who, then and now, are always depriving of freedom

not only those whom they have enslaved, but also those who have as

yet been your allies. For the true author of the subjugation of a

people is not so much the immediate agent, as the power which permits

it having the means to prevent it; particularly if that power aspires

to the glory of being the liberator of Hellas. We are at last assembled.

It has not been easy to assemble, nor even now are our objects defined.

We ought not to be still inquiring into the fact of our wrongs, but

into the means of our defence. For the aggressors with matured plans

to oppose to our indecision have cast threats aside and betaken themselves

to action. And we know what are the paths by which Athenian aggression

travels, and how insidious is its progress. A degree of confidence

she may feel from the idea that your bluntness of perception prevents

your noticing her; but it is nothing to the impulse which her advance

will receive from the knowledge that you see, but do not care to interfere.

You, Lacedaemonians, of all the Hellenes are alone inactive, and defend

yourselves not by doing anything but by looking as if you would do

something; you alone wait till the power of an enemy is becoming twice

its original size, instead of crushing it in its infancy. And yet

the world used to say that you were to be depended upon; but in your

case, we fear, it said more than the truth. The Mede, we ourselves

know, had time to come from the ends of the earth to Peloponnese,

without any force of yours worthy of the name advancing to meet him.

But this was a distant enemy. Well, Athens at all events is a near

neighbour, and yet Athens you utterly disregard; against Athens you

prefer to act on the defensive instead of on the offensive, and to

make it an affair of chances by deferring the struggle till she has

grown far stronger than at first. And yet you know that on the whole

the rock on which the barbarian was wrecked was himself, and that

if our present enemy Athens has not again and again annihilated us,

we owe it more to her blunders than to your protection; Indeed, expectations

from you have before now been the ruin of some, whose faith induced

them to omit preparation.


“We hope that none of you will consider these words of remonstrance

to be rather words of hostility; men remonstrate with friends who

are in error, accusations they reserve for enemies who have wronged

them. Besides, we consider that we have as good a right as any one

to point out a neighbour’s faults, particularly when we contemplate

the great contrast between the two national characters; a contrast

of which, as far as we can see, you have little perception, having

never yet considered what sort of antagonists you will encounter in

the Athenians, how widely, how absolutely different from yourselves.

The Athenians are addicted to innovation, and their designs are characterized

by swiftness alike in conception and execution; you have a genius

for keeping what you have got, accompanied by a total want of invention,

and when forced to act you never go far enough. Again, they are adventurous

beyond their power, and daring beyond their judgment, and in danger

they are sanguine; your wont is to attempt less than is justified

by your power, to mistrust even what is sanctioned by your judgment,

and to fancy that from danger there is no release. Further, there

is promptitude on their side against procrastination on yours; they

are never at home, you are never from it: for they hope by their absence

to extend their acquisitions, you fear by your advance to endanger

what you have left behind. They are swift to follow up a success,

and slow to recoil from a reverse. Their bodies they spend ungrudgingly

in their country’s cause; their intellect they jealously husband to

be employed in her service. A scheme unexecuted is with them a positive

loss, a successful enterprise a comparative failure. The deficiency

created by the miscarriage of an undertaking is soon filled up by

fresh hopes; for they alone are enabled to call a thing hoped for

a thing got, by the speed with which they act upon their resolutions.

Thus they toil on in trouble and danger all the days of their life,

with little opportunity for enjoying, being ever engaged in getting:

their only idea of a holiday is to do what the occasion demands, and

to them laborious occupation is less of a misfortune than the peace

of a quiet life. To describe their character in a word, one might

truly say that they were born into the world to take no rest themselves

and to give none to others.


“Such is Athens, your antagonist. And yet, Lacedaemonians, you still

delay, and fail to see that peace stays longest with those, who are

not more careful to use their power justly than to show their determination

not to submit to injustice. On the contrary, your ideal of fair dealing

is based on the principle that, if you do not injure others, you need

not risk your own fortunes in preventing others from injuring you.

Now you could scarcely have succeeded in such a policy even with a

neighbour like yourselves; but in the present instance, as we have

just shown, your habits are old-fashioned as compared with theirs.

It is the law as in art, so in politics, that improvements ever prevail;

and though fixed usages may be best for undisturbed communities, constant

necessities of action must be accompanied by the constant improvement

of methods. Thus it happens that the vast experience of Athens has

carried her further than you on the path of innovation.


“Here, at least, let your procrastination end. For the present, assist

your allies and Potidaea in particular, as you promised, by a speedy

invasion of Attica, and do not sacrifice friends and kindred to their

bitterest enemies, and drive the rest of us in despair to some other

alliance. Such a step would not be condemned either by the Gods who

received our oaths, or by the men who witnessed them. The breach of

a treaty cannot be laid to the people whom desertion compels to seek

new relations, but to the power that fails to assist its confederate.

But if you will only act, we will stand by you; it would be unnatural

for us to change, and never should we meet with such a congenial ally.

For these reasons choose the right course, and endeavour not to let

Peloponnese under your supremacy degenerate from the prestige that

it enjoyed under that of your ancestors.”


Such were the words of the Corinthians. There happened to be Athenian

envoys present at Lacedaemon on other business. On hearing the speeches

they thought themselves called upon to come before the Lacedaemonians.

Their intention was not to offer a defence on any of the charges which

the cities brought against them, but to show on a comprehensive view

that it was not a matter to be hastily decided on, but one that demanded

further consideration. There was also a wish to call attention to

the great power of Athens, and to refresh the memory of the old and

enlighten the ignorance of the young, from a notion that their words

might have the effect of inducing them to prefer tranquillity to war.

So they came to the Lacedaemonians and said that they too, if there

was no objection, wished to speak to their assembly. They replied

by inviting them to come forward. The Athenians advanced, and spoke

as follows:


“The object of our mission here was not to argue with your allies,

but to attend to the matters on which our state dispatched us. However,

the vehemence of the outcry that we hear against us has prevailed

on us to come forward. It is not to combat the accusations of the

cities (indeed you are not the judges before whom either we or they

can plead), but to prevent your taking the wrong course on matters

of great importance by yielding too readily to the persuasions of

your allies. We also wish to show on a review of the whole indictment

that we have a fair title to our possessions, and that our country

has claims to consideration. We need not refer to remote antiquity:

there we could appeal to the voice of tradition, but not to the experience

of our audience. But to the Median War and contemporary history we

must refer, although we are rather tired of continually bringing this

subject forward. In our action during that war we ran great risk to

obtain certain advantages: you had your share in the solid results,

do not try to rob us of all share in the good that the glory may do

us. However, the story shall be told not so much to deprecate hostility

as to testify against it, and to show, if you are so ill advised as

to enter into a struggle with Athens, what sort of an antagonist she

is likely to prove. We assert that at Marathon we were at the front,

and faced the barbarian single-handed. That when he came the second

time, unable to cope with him by land we went on board our ships with

all our people, and joined in the action at Salamis. This prevented

his taking the Peloponnesian states in detail, and ravaging them with

his fleet; when the multitude of his vessels would have made any combination

for self-defence impossible. The best proof of this was furnished

by the invader himself. Defeated at sea, he considered his power to

be no longer what it had been, and retired as speedily as possible

with the greater part of his army.


“Such, then, was the result of the matter, and it was clearly proved

that it was on the fleet of Hellas that her cause depended. Well,

to this result we contributed three very useful elements, viz., the

largest number of ships, the ablest commander, and the most unhesitating

patriotism. Our contingent of ships was little less than two-thirds

of the whole four hundred; the commander was Themistocles, through

whom chiefly it was that the battle took place in the straits, the

acknowledged salvation of our cause. Indeed, this was the reason of

your receiving him with honours such as had never been accorded to

any foreign visitor. While for daring patriotism we had no competitors.

Receiving no reinforcements from behind, seeing everything in front

of us already subjugated, we had the spirit, after abandoning our

city, after sacrificing our property (instead of deserting the remainder

of the league or depriving them of our services by dispersing), to

throw ourselves into our ships and meet the danger, without a thought

of resenting your neglect to assist us. We assert, therefore, that

we conferred on you quite as much as we received. For you had a stake

to fight for; the cities which you had left were still filled with

your homes, and you had the prospect of enjoying them again; and your

coming was prompted quite as much by fear for yourselves as for us;

at all events, you never appeared till we had nothing left to lose.

But we left behind us a city that was a city no longer, and staked

our lives for a city that had an existence only in desperate hope,

and so bore our full share in your deliverance and in ours. But if

we had copied others, and allowed fears for our territory to make

us give in our adhesion to the Mede before you came, or if we had

suffered our ruin to break our spirit and prevent us embarking in

our ships, your naval inferiority would have made a sea-fight unnecessary,

and his objects would have been peaceably attained.


“Surely, Lacedaemonians, neither by the patriotism that we displayed

at that crisis, nor by the wisdom of our counsels, do we merit our

extreme unpopularity with the Hellenes, not at least unpopularity

for our empire. That empire we acquired by no violent means, but because

you were unwilling to prosecute to its conclusion the war against

the barbarian, and because the allies attached themselves to us and

spontaneously asked us to assume the command. And the nature of the

case first compelled us to advance our empire to its present height;

fear being our principal motive, though honour and interest afterwards

came in. And at last, when almost all hated us, when some had already

revolted and had been subdued, when you had ceased to be the friends

that you once were, and had become objects of suspicion and dislike,

it appeared no longer safe to give up our empire; especially as all

who left us would fall to you. And no one can quarrel with a people

for making, in matters of tremendous risk, the best provision that

it can for its interest.


“You, at all events, Lacedaemonians, have used your supremacy to settle

the states in Peloponnese as is agreeable to you. And if at the period

of which we were speaking you had persevered to the end of the matter,

and had incurred hatred in your command, we are sure that you would

have made yourselves just as galling to the allies, and would have

been forced to choose between a strong government and danger to yourselves.

It follows that it was not a very wonderful action, or contrary to

the common practice of mankind, if we did accept an empire that was

offered to us, and refused to give it up under the pressure of three

of the strongest motives, fear, honour, and interest. And it was not

we who set the example, for it has always been law that the weaker

should be subject to the stronger. Besides, we believed ourselves

to be worthy of our position, and so you thought us till now, when

calculations of interest have made you take up the cry of justice-

a consideration which no one ever yet brought forward to hinder his

ambition when he had a chance of gaining anything by might. And praise

is due to all who, if not so superior to human nature as to refuse

dominion, yet respect justice more than their position compels them

to do.


“We imagine that our moderation would be best demonstrated by the

conduct of others who should be placed in our position; but even our

equity has very unreasonably subjected us to condemnation instead

of approval. Our abatement of our rights in the contract trials with

our allies, and our causing them to be decided by impartial laws at

Athens, have gained us the character of being litigious. And none

care to inquire why this reproach is not brought against other imperial

powers, who treat their subjects with less moderation than we do;

the secret being that where force can be used, law is not needed.

But our subjects are so habituated to associate with us as equals

that any defeat whatever that clashes with their notions of justice,

whether it proceeds from a legal judgment or from the power which

our empire gives us, makes them forget to be grateful for being allowed

to retain most of their possessions, and more vexed at a part being

taken, than if we had from the first cast law aside and openly gratified

our covetousness. If we had done so, not even would they have disputed

that the weaker must give way to the stronger. Men’s indignation,

it seems, is more excited by legal wrong than by violent wrong; the

first looks like being cheated by an equal, the second like being

compelled by a superior. At all events they contrived to put up with

much worse treatment than this from the Mede, yet they think our rule

severe, and this is to be expected, for the present always weighs

heavy on the conquered. This at least is certain. If you were to succeed

in overthrowing us and in taking our place, you would speedily lose

the popularity with which fear of us has invested you, if your policy

of to-day is at all to tally with the sample that you gave of it during

the brief period of your command against the Mede. Not only is your

life at home regulated by rules and institutions incompatible with

those of others, but your citizens abroad act neither on these rules

nor on those which are recognized by the rest of Hellas.


“Take time then in forming your resolution, as the matter is of great

importance; and do not be persuaded by the opinions and complaints

of others to bring trouble on yourselves, but consider the vast influence

of accident in war, before you are engaged in it. As it continues,

it generally becomes an affair of chances, chances from which neither

of us is exempt, and whose event we must risk in the dark. It is a

common mistake in going to war to begin at the wrong end, to act first,

and wait for disaster to discuss the matter. But we are not yet by

any means so misguided, nor, so far as we can see, are you; accordingly,

while it is still open to us both to choose aright, we bid you not

to dissolve the treaty, or to break your oaths, but to have our differences

settled by arbitration according to our agreement. Or else we take

the gods who heard the oaths to witness, and if you begin hostilities,

whatever line of action you choose, we will try not to be behindhand

in repelling you.”


Such were the words of the Athenians. After the Lacedaemonians had

heard the complaints of the allies against the Athenians, and the

observations of the latter, they made all withdraw, and consulted

by themselves on the question before them. The opinions of the majority

all led to the same conclusion; the Athenians were open aggressors,

and war must be declared at once. But Archidamus, the Lacedaemonian

king, came forward, who had the reputation of being at once a wise

and a moderate man, and made the following speech:


“I have not lived so long, Lacedaemonians, without having had the

experience of many wars, and I see those among you of the same age

as myself, who will not fall into the common misfortune of longing

for war from inexperience or from a belief in its advantage and its

safety. This, the war on which you are now debating, would be one

of the greatest magnitude, on a sober consideration of the matter.

In a struggle with Peloponnesians and neighbours our strength is of

the same character, and it is possible to move swiftly on the different

points. But a struggle with a people who live in a distant land, who

have also an extraordinary familiarity with the sea, and who are in

the highest state of preparation in every other department; with wealth

private and public, with ships, and horses, and heavy infantry, and

a population such as no one other Hellenic place can equal, and lastly

a number of tributary allies- what can justify us in rashly beginning

such a struggle? wherein is our trust that we should rush on it unprepared?

Is it in our ships? There we are inferior; while if we are to practise

and become a match for them, time must intervene. Is it in our money?

There we have a far greater deficiency. We neither have it in our

treasury, nor are we ready to contribute it from our private funds.

Confidence might possibly be felt in our superiority in heavy infantry

and population, which will enable us to invade and devastate their

lands. But the Athenians have plenty of other land in their empire,

and can import what they want by sea. Again, if we are to attempt

an insurrection of their allies, these will have to be supported with

a fleet, most of them being islanders. What then is to be our war?

For unless we can either beat them at sea, or deprive them of the

revenues which feed their navy, we shall meet with little but disaster.

Meanwhile our honour will be pledged to keeping on, particularly if

it be the opinion that we began the quarrel. For let us never be elated

by the fatal hope of the war being quickly ended by the devastation

of their lands. I fear rather that we may leave it as a legacy to

our children; so improbable is it that the Athenian spirit will be

the slave of their land, or Athenian experience be cowed by war.


“Not that I would bid you be so unfeeling as to suffer them to injure

your allies, and to refrain from unmasking their intrigues; but I

do bid you not to take up arms at once, but to send and remonstrate

with them in a tone not too suggestive of war, nor again too suggestive

of submission, and to employ the interval in perfecting our own preparations.

The means will be, first, the acquisition of allies, Hellenic or barbarian

it matters not, so long as they are an accession to our strength naval

or pecuniary- I say Hellenic or barbarian, because the odium of such

an accession to all who like us are the objects of the designs of

the Athenians is taken away by the law of self-preservation- and secondly

the development of our home resources. If they listen to our embassy,

so much the better; but if not, after the lapse of two or three years

our position will have become materially strengthened, and we can

then attack them if we think proper. Perhaps by that time the sight

of our preparations, backed by language equally significant, will

have disposed them to submission, while their land is still untouched,

and while their counsels may be directed to the retention of advantages

as yet undestroyed. For the only light in which you can view their

land is that of a hostage in your hands, a hostage the more valuable

the better it is cultivated. This you ought to spare as long as possible,

and not make them desperate, and so increase the difficulty of dealing

with them. For if while still unprepared, hurried away by the complaints

of our allies, we are induced to lay it waste, have a care that we

do not bring deep disgrace and deep perplexity upon Peloponnese. Complaints,

whether of communities or individuals, it is possible to adjust; but

war undertaken by a coalition for sectional interests, whose progress

there is no means of foreseeing, does not easily admit of creditable



“And none need think it cowardice for a number of confederates to

pause before they attack a single city. The Athenians have allies

as numerous as our own, and allies that pay tribute, and war is a

matter not so much of arms as of money, which makes arms of use. And

this is more than ever true in a struggle between a continental and

a maritime power. First, then, let us provide money, and not allow

ourselves to be carried away by the talk of our allies before we have

done so: as we shall have the largest share of responsibility for

the consequences be they good or bad, we have also a right to a tranquil

inquiry respecting them.


“And the slowness and procrastination, the parts of our character

that are most assailed by their criticism, need not make you blush.

If we undertake the war without preparation, we should by hastening

its commencement only delay its conclusion: further, a free and a

famous city has through all time been ours. The quality which they

condemn is really nothing but a wise moderation; thanks to its possession,

we alone do not become insolent in success and give way less than

others in misfortune; we are not carried away by the pleasure of hearing

ourselves cheered on to risks which our judgment condemns; nor, if

annoyed, are we any the more convinced by attempts to exasperate us

by accusation. We are both warlike and wise, and it is our sense of

order that makes us so. We are warlike, because self-control contains

honour as a chief constituent, and honour bravery. And we are wise,

because we are educated with too little learning to despise the laws,

and with too severe a self-control to disobey them, and are brought

up not to be too knowing in useless matters- such as the knowledge

which can give a specious criticism of an enemy’s plans in theory,

but fails to assail them with equal success in practice- but are taught

to consider that the schemes of our enemies are not dissimilar to

our own, and that the freaks of chance are not determinable by calculation.

In practice we always base our preparations against an enemy on the

assumption that his plans are good; indeed, it is right to rest our

hopes not on a belief in his blunders, but on the soundness of our

provisions. Nor ought we to believe that there is much difference

between man and man, but to think that the superiority lies with him

who is reared in the severest school. These practices, then, which

our ancestors have delivered to us, and by whose maintenance we have

always profited, must not be given up. And we must not be hurried

into deciding in a day’s brief space a question which concerns many

lives and fortunes and many cities, and in which honour is deeply

involved- but we must decide calmly. This our strength peculiarly

enables us to do. As for the Athenians, send to them on the matter

of Potidaea, send on the matter of the alleged wrongs of the allies,

particularly as they are prepared with legal satisfaction; and to

proceed against one who offers arbitration as against a wrongdoer,

law forbids. Meanwhile do not omit preparation for war. This decision

will be the best for yourselves, the most terrible to your opponents.”


Such were the words of Archidamus. Last came forward Sthenelaidas,

one of the ephors for that year, and spoke to the Lacedaemonians as



“The long speech of the Athenians I do not pretend to understand.

They said a good deal in praise of themselves, but nowhere denied

that they are injuring our allies and Peloponnese. And yet if they

behaved well against the Mede then, but ill towards us now, they deserve

double punishment for having ceased to be good and for having become

bad. We meanwhile are the same then and now, and shall not, if we

are wise, disregard the wrongs of our allies, or put off till to-morrow

the duty of assisting those who must suffer to-day. Others have much

money and ships and horses, but we have good allies whom we must not

give up to the Athenians, nor by lawsuits and words decide the matter,

as it is anything but in word that we are harmed, but render instant

and powerful help. And let us not be told that it is fitting for us

to deliberate under injustice; long deliberation is rather fitting

for those who have injustice in contemplation. Vote therefore, Lacedaemonians,

for war, as the honour of Sparta demands, and neither allow the further

aggrandizement of Athens, nor betray our allies to ruin, but with

the gods let us advance against the aggressors.”


With these words he, as ephor, himself put the question to the assembly

of the Lacedaemonians. He said that he could not determine which was

the loudest acclamation (their mode of decision is by acclamation

not by voting); the fact being that he wished to make them declare

their opinion openly and thus to increase their ardour for war. Accordingly

he said: “All Lacedaemonians who are of opinion that the treaty has

been broken, and that Athens is guilty, leave your seats and go there,”

pointing out a certain place; “all who are of the opposite opinion,

there.” They accordingly stood up and divided; and those who held

that the treaty had been broken were in a decided majority. Summoning

the allies, they told them that their opinion was that Athens had

been guilty of injustice, but that they wished to convoke all the

allies and put it to the vote; in order that they might make war,

if they decided to do so, on a common resolution. Having thus gained

their point, the delegates returned home at once; the Athenian envoys

a little later, when they had dispatched the objects of their mission.

This decision of the assembly, judging that the treaty had been broken,

was made in the fourteenth year of the thirty years’ truce, which

was entered into after the affair of Euboea.


The Lacedaemonians voted that the treaty had been broken, and that

the war must be declared, not so much because they were persuaded

by the arguments of the allies, as because they feared the growth

of the power of the Athenians, seeing most of Hellas already subject

to them.


Chapter IV


From the end of the Persian to the beginning of the Peloponnesian

War – The Progress from Supremacy to Empire


The way in which Athens came to be placed in the circumstances under

which her power grew was this. After the Medes had returned from Europe,

defeated by sea and land by the Hellenes, and after those of them

who had fled with their ships to Mycale had been destroyed, Leotychides,

king of the Lacedaemonians, the commander of the Hellenes at Mycale,

departed home with the allies from Peloponnese. But the Athenians

and the allies from Ionia and Hellespont, who had now revolted from

the King, remained and laid siege to Sestos, which was still held

by the Medes. After wintering before it, they became masters of the

place on its evacuation by the barbarians; and after this they sailed

away from Hellespont to their respective cities. Meanwhile the Athenian

people, after the departure of the barbarian from their country, at

once proceeded to carry over their children and wives, and such property

as they had left, from the places where they had deposited them, and

prepared to rebuild their city and their walls. For only isolated

portions of the circumference had been left standing, and most of

the houses were in ruins; though a few remained, in which the Persian

grandees had taken up their quarters.


Perceiving what they were going to do, the Lacedaemonians sent an

embassy to Athens. They would have themselves preferred to see neither

her nor any other city in possession of a wall; though here they acted

principally at the instigation of their allies, who were alarmed at

the strength of her newly acquired navy and the valour which she had

displayed in the war with the Medes. They begged her not only to abstain

from building walls for herself, but also to join them in throwing

down the walls that still held together of the ultra-Peloponnesian

cities. The real meaning of their advice, the suspicion that it contained

against the Athenians, was not proclaimed; it was urged that so the

barbarian, in the event of a third invasion, would not have any strong

place, such as he now had in Thebes, for his base of operations; and

that Peloponnese would suffice for all as a base both for retreat

and offence. After the Lacedaemonians had thus spoken, they were,

on the advice of Themistocles, immediately dismissed by the Athenians,

with the answer that ambassadors should be sent to Sparta to discuss

the question. Themistocles told the Athenians to send him off with

all speed to Lacedaemon, but not to dispatch his colleagues as soon

as they had selected them, but to wait until they had raised their

wall to the height from which defence was possible. Meanwhile the

whole population in the city was to labour at the wall, the Athenians,

their wives, and their children, sparing no edifice, private or public,

which might be of any use to the work, but throwing all down. After

giving these instructions, and adding that he would be responsible

for all other matters there, he departed. Arrived at Lacedaemon he

did not seek an audience with the authorities, but tried to gain time

and made excuses. When any of the government asked him why he did

not appear in the assembly, he would say that he was waiting for his

colleagues, who had been detained in Athens by some engagement; however,

that he expected their speedy arrival, and wondered that they were

not yet there. At first the Lacedaemonians trusted the words of Themistocles,

through their friendship for him; but when others arrived, all distinctly

declaring that the work was going on and already attaining some elevation,

they did not know how to disbelieve it. Aware of this, he told them

that rumours are deceptive, and should not be trusted; they should

send some reputable persons from Sparta to inspect, whose report might

be trusted. They dispatched them accordingly. Concerning these Themistocles

secretly sent word to the Athenians to detain them as far as possible

without putting them under open constraint, and not to let them go

until they had themselves returned. For his colleagues had now joined

him, Abronichus, son of Lysicles, and Aristides, son of Lysimachus,

with the news that the wall was sufficiently advanced; and he feared

that when the Lacedaemonians heard the facts, they might refuse to

let them go. So the Athenians detained the envoys according to his

message, and Themistocles had an audience with the Lacedaemonians,

and at last openly told them that Athens was now fortified sufficiently

to protect its inhabitants; that any embassy which the Lacedaemonians

or their allies might wish to send to them should in future proceed

on the assumption that the people to whom they were going was able

to distinguish both its own and the general interests. That when the

Athenians thought fit to abandon their city and to embark in their

ships, they ventured on that perilous step without consulting them;

and that on the other hand, wherever they had deliberated with the

Lacedaemonians, they had proved themselves to be in judgment second

to none. That they now thought it fit that their city should have

a wall, and that this would be more for the advantage of both the

citizens of Athens and the Hellenic confederacy; for without equal

military strength it was impossible to contribute equal or fair counsel

to the common interest. It followed, he observed, either that all

the members of the confederacy should be without walls, or that the

present step should be considered a right one.


The Lacedaemonians did not betray any open signs of anger against

the Athenians at what they heard. The embassy, it seems, was prompted

not by a desire to obstruct, but to guide the counsels of their government:

besides, Spartan feeling was at that time very friendly towards Athens

on account of the patriotism which she had displayed in the struggle

with the Mede. Still the defeat of their wishes could not but cause

them secret annoyance. The envoys of each state departed home without



In this way the Athenians walled their city in a little while. To

this day the building shows signs of the haste of its execution; the

foundations are laid of stones of all kinds, and in some places not

wrought or fitted, but placed just in the order in which they were

brought by the different hands; and many columns, too, from tombs,

and sculptured stones were put in with the rest. For the bounds of

the city were extended at every point of the circumference; and so

they laid hands on everything without exception in their haste. Themistocles

also persuaded them to finish the walls of Piraeus, which had been

begun before, in his year of office as archon; being influenced alike

by the fineness of a locality that has three natural harbours, and

by the great start which the Athenians would gain in the acquisition

of power by becoming a naval people. For he first ventured to tell

them to stick to the sea and forthwith began to lay the foundations

of the empire. It was by his advice, too, that they built the walls

of that thickness which can still be discerned round Piraeus, the

stones being brought up by two wagons meeting each other. Between

the walls thus formed there was neither rubble nor mortar, but great

stones hewn square and fitted together, cramped to each other on the

outside with iron and lead. About half the height that he intended

was finished. His idea was by their size and thickness to keep off

the attacks of an enemy; he thought that they might be adequately

defended by a small garrison of invalids, and the rest be freed for

service in the fleet. For the fleet claimed most of his attention.

He saw, as I think, that the approach by sea was easier for the king’s

army than that by land: he also thought Piraeus more valuable than

the upper city; indeed, he was always advising the Athenians, if a

day should come when they were hard pressed by land, to go down into

Piraeus, and defy the world with their fleet. Thus, therefore, the

Athenians completed their wall, and commenced their other buildings

immediately after the retreat of the Mede.


Meanwhile Pausanias, son of Cleombrotus, was sent out from Lacedaemon

as commander-in-chief of the Hellenes, with twenty ships from Peloponnese.

With him sailed the Athenians with thirty ships, and a number of the

other allies. They made an expedition against Cyprus and subdued most

of the island, and afterwards against Byzantium, which was in the

hands of the Medes, and compelled it to surrender. This event took

place while the Spartans were still supreme. But the violence of Pausanias

had already begun to be disagreeable to the Hellenes, particularly

to the Ionians and the newly liberated populations. These resorted

to the Athenians and requested them as their kinsmen to become their

leaders, and to stop any attempt at violence on the part of Pausanias.

The Athenians accepted their overtures, and determined to put down

any attempt of the kind and to settle everything else as their interests

might seem to demand. In the meantime the Lacedaemonians recalled

Pausanias for an investigation of the reports which had reached them.

Manifold and grave accusations had been brought against him by Hellenes

arriving in Sparta; and, to all appearance, there had been in him

more of the mimicry of a despot than of the attitude of a general.

As it happened, his recall came just at the time when the hatred which

he had inspired had induced the allies to desert him, the soldiers

from Peloponnese excepted, and to range themselves by the side of

the Athenians. On his arrival at Lacedaemon, he was censured for his

private acts of oppression, but was acquitted on the heaviest counts

and pronounced not guilty; it must be known that the charge of Medism

formed one of the principal, and to all appearance one of the best

founded, articles against him. The Lacedaemonians did not, however,

restore him to his command, but sent out Dorkis and certain others

with a small force; who found the allies no longer inclined to concede

to them the supremacy. Perceiving this they departed, and the Lacedaemonians

did not send out any to succeed them. They feared for those who went

out a deterioration similar to that observable in Pausanias; besides,

they desired to be rid of the Median War, and were satisfied of the

competency of the Athenians for the position, and of their friendship

at the time towards themselves.


The Athenians, having thus succeeded to the supremacy by the voluntary

act of the allies through their hatred of Pausanias, fixed which cities

were to contribute money against the barbarian, which ships; their

professed object being to retaliate for their sufferings by ravaging

the King’s country. Now was the time that the office of “Treasurers

for Hellas” was first instituted by the Athenians. These officers

received the tribute, as the money contributed was called. The tribute

was first fixed at four hundred and sixty talents. The common treasury

was at Delos, and the congresses were held in the temple. Their supremacy

commenced with independent allies who acted on the resolutions of

a common congress. It was marked by the following undertakings in

war and in administration during the interval between the Median and

the present war, against the barbarian, against their own rebel allies,

and against the Peloponnesian powers which would come in contact with

them on various occasions. My excuse for relating these events, and

for venturing on this digression, is that this passage of history

has been omitted by all my predecessors, who have confined themselves

either to Hellenic history before the Median War, or the Median War

itself. Hellanicus, it is true, did touch on these events in his Athenian

history; but he is somewhat concise and not accurate in his dates.

Besides, the history of these events contains an explanation of the

growth of the Athenian empire.


First the Athenians besieged and captured Eion on the Strymon from

the Medes, and made slaves of the inhabitants, being under the command

of Cimon, son of Miltiades. Next they enslaved Scyros, the island

in the Aegean, containing a Dolopian population, and colonized it

themselves. This was followed by a war against Carystus, in which

the rest of Euboea remained neutral, and which was ended by surrender

on conditions. After this Naxos left the confederacy, and a war ensued,

and she had to return after a siege; this was the first instance of

the engagement being broken by the subjugation of an allied city,

a precedent which was followed by that of the rest in the order which

circumstances prescribed. Of all the causes of defection, that connected

with arrears of tribute and vessels, and with failure of service,

was the chief; for the Athenians were very severe and exacting, and

made themselves offensive by applying the screw of necessity to men

who were not used to and in fact not disposed for any continuous labour.

In some other respects the Athenians were not the old popular rulers

they had been at first; and if they had more than their fair share

of service, it was correspondingly easy for them to reduce any that

tried to leave the confederacy. For this the allies had themselves

to blame; the wish to get off service making most of them arrange

to pay their share of the expense in money instead of in ships, and

so to avoid having to leave their homes. Thus while Athens was increasing

her navy with the funds which they contributed, a revolt always found

them without resources or experience for war.


Next we come to the actions by land and by sea at the river Eurymedon,

between the Athenians with their allies, and the Medes, when the Athenians

won both battles on the same day under the conduct of Cimon, son of

Miltiades, and captured and destroyed the whole Phoenician fleet,

consisting of two hundred vessels. Some time afterwards occurred the

defection of the Thasians, caused by disagreements about the marts

on the opposite coast of Thrace, and about the mine in their possession.

Sailing with a fleet to Thasos, the Athenians defeated them at sea

and effected a landing on the island. About the same time they sent

ten thousand settlers of their own citizens and the allies to settle

the place then called Ennea Hodoi or Nine Ways, now Amphipolis. They

succeeded in gaining possession of Ennea Hodoi from the Edonians,

but on advancing into the interior of Thrace were cut off in Drabescus,

a town of the Edonians, by the assembled Thracians, who regarded the

settlement of the place Ennea Hodoi as an act of hostility. Meanwhile

the Thasians being defeated in the field and suffering siege, appealed

to Lacedaemon, and desired her to assist them by an invasion of Attica.

Without informing Athens, she promised and intended to do so, but

was prevented by the occurrence of the earthquake, accompanied by

the secession of the Helots and the Thuriats and Aethaeans of the

Perioeci to Ithome. Most of the Helots were the descendants of the

old Messenians that were enslaved in the famous war; and so all of

them came to be called Messenians. So the Lacedaemonians being engaged

in a war with the rebels in Ithome, the Thasians in the third year

of the siege obtained terms from the Athenians by razing their walls,

delivering up their ships, and arranging to pay the moneys demanded

at once, and tribute in future; giving up their possessions on the

continent together with the mine.


The Lacedaemonians, meanwhile, finding the war against the rebels

in Ithome likely to last, invoked the aid of their allies, and especially

of the Athenians, who came in some force under the command of Cimon.

The reason for this pressing summons lay in their reputed skill in

siege operations; a long siege had taught the Lacedaemonians their

own deficiency in this art, else they would have taken the place by

assault. The first open quarrel between the Lacedaemonians and Athenians

arose out of this expedition. The Lacedaemonians, when assault failed

to take the place, apprehensive of the enterprising and revolutionary

character of the Athenians, and further looking upon them as of alien

extraction, began to fear that, if they remained, they might be tempted

by the besieged in Ithome to attempt some political changes. They

accordingly dismissed them alone of the allies, without declaring

their suspicions, but merely saying that they had now no need of them.

But the Athenians, aware that their dismissal did not proceed from

the more honourable reason of the two, but from suspicions which had

been conceived, went away deeply offended, and conscious of having

done nothing to merit such treatment from the Lacedaemonians; and

the instant that they returned home they broke off the alliance which

had been made against the Mede, and allied themselves with Sparta’s

enemy Argos; each of the contracting parties taking the same oaths

and making the same alliance with the Thessalians.


Meanwhile the rebels in Ithome, unable to prolong further a ten years’

resistance, surrendered to Lacedaemon; the conditions being that they

should depart from Peloponnese under safe conduct, and should never

set foot in it again: any one who might hereafter be found there was

to be the slave of his captor. It must be known that the Lacedaemonians

had an old oracle from Delphi, to the effect that they should let

go the suppliant of Zeus at Ithome. So they went forth with their

children and their wives, and being received by Athens from the hatred

that she now felt for the Lacedaemonians, were located at Naupactus,

which she had lately taken from the Ozolian Locrians. The Athenians

received another addition to their confederacy in the Megarians; who

left the Lacedaemonian alliance, annoyed by a war about boundaries

forced on them by Corinth. The Athenians occupied Megara and Pegae,

and built the Megarians their long walls from the city to Nisaea,

in which they placed an Athenian garrison. This was the principal

cause of the Corinthians conceiving such a deadly hatred against Athens.


Meanwhile Inaros, son of Psammetichus, a Libyan king of the Libyans

on the Egyptian border, having his headquarters at Marea, the town

above Pharos, caused a revolt of almost the whole of Egypt from King

Artaxerxes and, placing himself at its head, invited the Athenians

to his assistance. Abandoning a Cyprian expedition upon which they

happened to be engaged with two hundred ships of their own and their

allies, they arrived in Egypt and sailed from the sea into the Nile,

and making themselves masters of the river and two-thirds of Memphis,

addressed themselves to the attack of the remaining third, which is

called White Castle. Within it were Persians and Medes who had taken

refuge there, and Egyptians who had not joined the rebellion.


Meanwhile the Athenians, making a descent from their fleet upon Haliae,

were engaged by a force of Corinthians and Epidaurians; and the Corinthians

were victorious. Afterwards the Athenians engaged the Peloponnesian

fleet off Cecruphalia; and the Athenians were victorious. Subsequently

war broke out between Aegina and Athens, and there was a great battle

at sea off Aegina between the Athenians and Aeginetans, each being

aided by their allies; in which victory remained with the Athenians,

who took seventy of the enemy’s ships, and landed in the country and

commenced a siege under the command of Leocrates, son of Stroebus.

Upon this the Peloponnesians, desirous of aiding the Aeginetans, threw

into Aegina a force of three hundred heavy infantry, who had before

been serving with the Corinthians and Epidaurians. Meanwhile the Corinthians

and their allies occupied the heights of Geraneia, and marched down

into the Megarid, in the belief that, with a large force absent in

Aegina and Egypt, Athens would be unable to help the Megarians without

raising the siege of Aegina. But the Athenians, instead of moving

the army of Aegina, raised a force of the old and young men that had

been left in the city, and marched into the Megarid under the command

of Myronides. After a drawn battle with the Corinthians, the rival

hosts parted, each with the impression that they had gained the victory.

The Athenians, however, if anything, had rather the advantage, and

on the departure of the Corinthians set up a trophy. Urged by the

taunts of the elders in their city, the Corinthians made their preparations,

and about twelve days afterwards came and set up their trophy as victors.

Sallying out from Megara, the Athenians cut off the party that was

employed in erecting the trophy, and engaged and defeated the rest.

In the retreat of the vanquished army, a considerable division, pressed

by the pursuers and mistaking the road, dashed into a field on some

private property, with a deep trench all round it, and no way out.

Being acquainted with the place, the Athenians hemmed their front

with heavy infantry and, placing the light troops round in a circle,

stoned all who had gone in. Corinth here suffered a severe blow. The

bulk of her army continued its retreat home.


About this time the Athenians began to build the long walls to the

sea, that towards Phalerum and that towards Piraeus. Meanwhile the

Phocians made an expedition against Doris, the old home of the Lacedaemonians,

containing the towns of Boeum, Kitinium, and Erineum. They had taken

one of these towns, when the Lacedaemonians under Nicomedes, son of

Cleombrotus, commanding for King Pleistoanax, son of Pausanias, who

was still a minor, came to the aid of the Dorians with fifteen hundred

heavy infantry of their own, and ten thousand of their allies. After

compelling the Phocians to restore the town on conditions, they began

their retreat. The route by sea, across the Crissaean Gulf, exposed

them to the risk of being stopped by the Athenian fleet; that across

Geraneia seemed scarcely safe, the Athenians holding Megara and Pegae.

For the pass was a difficult one, and was always guarded by the Athenians;

and, in the present instance, the Lacedaemonians had information that

they meant to dispute their passage. So they resolved to remain in

Boeotia, and to consider which would be the safest line of march.

They had also another reason for this resolve. Secret encouragement

had been given them by a party in Athens, who hoped to put an end

to the reign of democracy and the building of the Long Walls. Meanwhile

the Athenians marched against them with their whole levy and a thousand

Argives and the respective contingents of the rest of their allies.

Altogether they were fourteen thousand strong. The march was prompted

by the notion that the Lacedaemonians were at a loss how to effect

their passage, and also by suspicions of an attempt to overthrow the

democracy. Some cavalry also joined the Athenians from their Thessalian

allies; but these went over to the Lacedaemonians during the battle.


The battle was fought at Tanagra in Boeotia. After heavy loss on both

sides, victory declared for the Lacedaemonians and their allies. After

entering the Megarid and cutting down the fruit trees, the Lacedaemonians

returned home across Geraneia and the isthmus. Sixty-two days after

the battle the Athenians marched into Boeotia under the command of

Myronides, defeated the Boeotians in battle at Oenophyta, and became

masters of Boeotia and Phocis. They dismantled the walls of the Tanagraeans,

took a hundred of the richest men of the Opuntian Locrians as hostages,

and finished their own long walls. This was followed by the surrender

of the Aeginetans to Athens on conditions; they pulled down their

walls, gave up their ships, and agreed to pay tribute in future. The

Athenians sailed round Peloponnese under Tolmides, son of Tolmaeus,

burnt the arsenal of Lacedaemon, took Chalcis, a town of the Corinthians,

and in a descent upon Sicyon defeated the Sicyonians in battle.


Meanwhile the Athenians in Egypt and their allies were still there,

and encountered all the vicissitudes of war. First the Athenians were

masters of Egypt, and the King sent Megabazus a Persian to Lacedaemon

with money to bribe the Peloponnesians to invade Attica and so draw

off the Athenians from Egypt. Finding that the matter made no progress,

and that the money was only being wasted, he recalled Megabazus with

the remainder of the money, and sent Megabuzus, son of Zopyrus, a

Persian, with a large army to Egypt. Arriving by land he defeated

the Egyptians and their allies in a battle, and drove the Hellenes

out of Memphis, and at length shut them up in the island of Prosopitis,

where he besieged them for a year and six months. At last, draining

the canal of its waters, which he diverted into another channel, he

left their ships high and dry and joined most of the island to the

mainland, and then marched over on foot and captured it. Thus the

enterprise of the Hellenes came to ruin after six years of war. Of

all that large host a few travelling through Libya reached Cyrene

in safety, but most of them perished. And thus Egypt returned to its

subjection to the King, except Amyrtaeus, the king in the marshes,

whom they were unable to capture from the extent of the marsh; the

marshmen being also the most warlike of the Egyptians. Inaros, the

Libyan king, the sole author of the Egyptian revolt, was betrayed,

taken, and crucified. Meanwhile a relieving squadron of fifty vessels

had sailed from Athens and the rest of the confederacy for Egypt.

They put in to shore at the Mendesian mouth of the Nile, in total

ignorance of what had occurred. Attacked on the land side by the troops,

and from the sea by the Phoenician navy, most of the ships were destroyed;

the few remaining being saved by retreat. Such was the end of the

great expedition of the Athenians and their allies to Egypt.


Meanwhile Orestes, son of Echecratidas, the Thessalian king, being

an exile from Thessaly, persuaded the Athenians to restore him. Taking

with them the Boeotians and Phocians their allies, the Athenians marched

to Pharsalus in Thessaly. They became masters of the country, though

only in the immediate vicinity of the camp; beyond which they could

not go for fear of the Thessalian cavalry. But they failed to take

the city or to attain any of the other objects of their expedition,

and returned home with Orestes without having effected anything. Not

long after this a thousand of the Athenians embarked in the vessels

that were at Pegae (Pegae, it must be remembered, was now theirs),

and sailed along the coast to Sicyon under the command of Pericles,

son of Xanthippus. Landing in Sicyon and defeating the Sicyonians

who engaged them, they immediately took with them the Achaeans and,

sailing across, marched against and laid siege to Oeniadae in Acarnania.

Failing however to take it, they returned home.


Three years afterwards a truce was made between the Peloponnesians

and Athenians for five years. Released from Hellenic war, the Athenians

made an expedition to Cyprus with two hundred vessels of their own

and their allies, under the command of Cimon. Sixty of these were

detached to Egypt at the instance of Amyrtaeus, the king in the marshes;

the rest laid siege to Kitium, from which, however, they were compelled

to retire by the death of Cimon and by scarcity of provisions. Sailing

off Salamis in Cyprus, they fought with the Phoenicians, Cyprians,

and Cilicians by land and sea, and, being victorious on both elements

departed home, and with them the returned squadron from Egypt. After

this the Lacedaemonians marched out on a sacred war, and, becoming

masters of the temple at Delphi, it in the hands of the Delphians.

Immediately after their retreat, the Athenians marched out, became

masters of the temple, and placed it in the hands of the Phocians.


Some time after this, Orchomenus, Chaeronea, and some other places

in Boeotia being in the hands of the Boeotian exiles, the Athenians

marched against the above-mentioned hostile places with a thousand

Athenian heavy infantry and the allied contingents, under the command

of Tolmides, son of Tolmaeus. They took Chaeronea, and made slaves

of the inhabitants, and, leaving a garrison, commenced their return.

On their road they were attacked at Coronea by the Boeotian exiles

from Orchomenus, with some Locrians and Euboean exiles, and others

who were of the same way of thinking, were defeated in battle, and

some killed, others taken captive. The Athenians evacuated all Boeotia

by a treaty providing for the recovery of the men; and the exiled

Boeotians returned, and with all the rest regained their independence.


This was soon afterwards followed by the revolt of Euboea from Athens.

Pericles had already crossed over with an army of Athenians to the

island, when news was brought to him that Megara had revolted, that

the Peloponnesians were on the point of invading Attica, and that

the Athenian garrison had been cut off by the Megarians, with the

exception of a few who had taken refuge in Nisaea. The Megarians had

introduced the Corinthians, Sicyonians, and Epidaurians into the town

before they revolted. Meanwhile Pericles brought his army back in

all haste from Euboea. After this the Peloponnesians marched into

Attica as far as Eleusis and Thrius, ravaging the country under the

conduct of King Pleistoanax, the son of Pausanias, and without advancing

further returned home. The Athenians then crossed over again to Euboea

under the command of Pericles, and subdued the whole of the island:

all but Histiaea was settled by convention; the Histiaeans they expelled

from their homes, and occupied their territory themselves.


Not long after their return from Euboea, they made a truce with the

Lacedaemonians and their allies for thirty years, giving up the posts

which they occupied in Peloponnese- Nisaea, Pegae, Troezen, and Achaia.

In the sixth year of the truce, war broke out between the Samians

and Milesians about Priene. Worsted in the war, the Milesians came

to Athens with loud complaints against the Samians. In this they were

joined by certain private persons from Samos itself, who wished to

revolutionize the government. Accordingly the Athenians sailed to

Samos with forty ships and set up a democracy; took hostages from

the Samians, fifty boys and as many men, lodged them in Lemnos, and

after leaving a garrison in the island returned home. But some of

the Samians had not remained in the island, but had fled to the continent.

Making an agreement with the most powerful of those in the city, and

an alliance with Pissuthnes, son of Hystaspes, the then satrap of

Sardis, they got together a force of seven hundred mercenaries, and

under cover of night crossed over to Samos. Their first step was to

rise on the commons, most of whom they secured; their next to steal

their hostages from Lemnos; after which they revolted, gave up the

Athenian garrison left with them and its commanders to Pissuthnes,

and instantly prepared for an expedition against Miletus. The Byzantines

also revolted with them.


As soon as the Athenians heard the news, they sailed with sixty ships

against Samos. Sixteen of these went to Caria to look out for the

Phoenician fleet, and to Chios and Lesbos carrying round orders for

reinforcements, and so never engaged; but forty-four ships under the

command of Pericles with nine colleagues gave battle, off the island

of Tragia, to seventy Samian vessels, of which twenty were transports,

as they were sailing from Miletus. Victory remained with the Athenians.

Reinforced afterwards by forty ships from Athens, and twenty-five

Chian and Lesbian vessels, the Athenians landed, and having the superiority

by land invested the city with three walls; it was also invested from

the sea. Meanwhile Pericles took sixty ships from the blockading squadron,

and departed in haste for Caunus and Caria, intelligence having been

brought in of the approach of the Phoenician fleet to the aid of the

Samians; indeed Stesagoras and others had left the island with five

ships to bring them. But in the meantime the Samians made a sudden

sally, and fell on the camp, which they found unfortified. Destroying

the look-out vessels, and engaging and defeating such as were being

launched to meet them, they remained masters of their own seas for

fourteen days, and carried in and carried out what they pleased. But

on the arrival of Pericles, they were once more shut up. Fresh reinforcements

afterwards arrived- forty ships from Athens with Thucydides, Hagnon,

and Phormio; twenty with Tlepolemus and Anticles, and thirty vessels

from Chios and Lesbos. After a brief attempt at fighting, the Samians,

unable to hold out, were reduced after a nine months’ siege and surrendered

on conditions; they razed their walls, gave hostages, delivered up

their ships, and arranged to pay the expenses of the war by instalments.

The Byzantines also agreed to be subject as before.


Chapter V


Second Congress at Lacedaemon – Preparations for War and Diplomatic

Skirmishes – Cylon – Pausanias – Themistocles


After this, though not many years later, we at length come to what

has been already related, the affairs of Corcyra and Potidaea, and

the events that served as a pretext for the present war. All these

actions of the Hellenes against each other and the barbarian occurred

in the fifty years’ interval between the retreat of Xerxes and the

beginning of the present war. During this interval the Athenians succeeded

in placing their empire on a firmer basis, and advanced their own

home power to a very great height. The Lacedaemonians, though fully

aware of it, opposed it only for a little while, but remained inactive

during most of the period, being of old slow to go to war except under

the pressure of necessity, and in the present instance being hampered

by wars at home; until the growth of the Athenian power could be no

longer ignored, and their own confederacy became the object of its

encroachments. They then felt that they could endure it no longer,

but that the time had come for them to throw themselves heart and

soul upon the hostile power, and break it, if they could, by commencing

the present war. And though the Lacedaemonians had made up their own

minds on the fact of the breach of the treaty and the guilt of the

Athenians, yet they sent to Delphi and inquired of the God whether

it would be well with them if they went to war; and, as it is reported,

received from him the answer that if they put their whole strength

into the war, victory would be theirs, and the promise that he himself

would be with them, whether invoked or uninvoked. Still they wished

to summon their allies again, and to take their vote on the propriety

of making war. After the ambassadors from the confederates had arrived

and a congress had been convened, they all spoke their minds, most

of them denouncing the Athenians and demanding that the war should

begin. In particular the Corinthians. They had before on their own

account canvassed the cities in detail to induce them to vote for

the war, in the fear that it might come too late to save Potidaea;

they were present also on this occasion, and came forward the last,

and made the following speech:


“Fellow allies, we can no longer accuse the Lacedaemonians of having

failed in their duty: they have not only voted for war themselves,

but have assembled us here for that purpose. We say their duty, for

supremacy has its duties. Besides equitably administering private

interests, leaders are required to show a special care for the common

welfare in return for the special honours accorded to them by all

in other ways. For ourselves, all who have already had dealings with

the Athenians require no warning to be on their guard against them.

The states more inland and out of the highway of communication should

understand that, if they omit to support the coast powers, the result

will be to injure the transit of their produce for exportation and

the reception in exchange of their imports from the sea; and they

must not be careless judges of what is now said, as if it had nothing

to do with them, but must expect that the sacrifice of the powers

on the coast will one day be followed by the extension of the danger

to the interior, and must recognize that their own interests are deeply

involved in this discussion. For these reasons they should not hesitate

to exchange peace for war. If wise men remain quiet, while they are

not injured, brave men abandon peace for war when they are injured,

returning to an understanding on a favourable opportunity: in fact,

they are neither intoxicated by their success in war, nor disposed

to take an injury for the sake of the delightful tranquillity of peace.

Indeed, to falter for the sake of such delights is, if you remain

inactive, the quickest way of losing the sweets of repose to which

you cling; while to conceive extravagant pretensions from success

in war is to forget how hollow is the confidence by which you are

elated. For if many ill-conceived plans have succeeded through the

still greater fatuity of an opponent, many more, apparently well laid,

have on the contrary ended in disgrace. The confidence with which

we form our schemes is never completely justified in their execution;

speculation is carried on in safety, but, when it comes to action,

fear causes failure.


“To apply these rules to ourselves, if we are now kindling war it

is under the pressure of injury, with adequate grounds of complaint;

and after we have chastised the Athenians we will in season desist.

We have many reasons to expect success- first, superiority in numbers

and in military experience, and secondly our general and unvarying

obedience in the execution of orders. The naval strength which they

possess shall be raised by us from our respective antecedent resources,

and from the moneys at Olympia and Delphi. A loan from these enables

us to seduce their foreign sailors by the offer of higher pay. For

the power of Athens is more mercenary than national; while ours will

not be exposed to the same risk, as its strength lies more in men

than in money. A single defeat at sea is in all likelihood their ruin:

should they hold out, in that case there will be the more time for

us to exercise ourselves in naval matters; and as soon as we have

arrived at an equality in science, we need scarcely ask whether we

shall be their superiors in courage. For the advantages that we have

by nature they cannot acquire by education; while their superiority

in science must be removed by our practice. The money required for

these objects shall be provided by our contributions: nothing indeed

could be more monstrous than the suggestion that, while their allies

never tire of contributing for their own servitude, we should refuse

to spend for vengeance and self-preservation the treasure which by

such refusal we shall forfeit to Athenian rapacity and see employed

for our own ruin.


“We have also other ways of carrying on the war, such as revolt of

their allies, the surest method of depriving them of their revenues,

which are the source of their strength, and establishment of fortified

positions in their country, and various operations which cannot be

foreseen at present. For war of all things proceeds least upon definite

rules, but draws principally upon itself for contrivances to meet

an emergency; and in such cases the party who faces the struggle and

keeps his temper best meets with most security, and he who loses his

temper about it with correspondent disaster. Let us also reflect that

if it was merely a number of disputes of territory between rival neighbours,

it might be borne; but here we have an enemy in Athens that is a match

for our whole coalition, and more than a match for any of its members;

so that unless as a body and as individual nationalities and individual

cities we make an unanimous stand against her, she will easily conquer

us divided and in detail. That conquest, terrible as it may sound,

would, it must be known, have no other end than slavery pure and simple;

a word which Peloponnese cannot even hear whispered without disgrace,

or without disgrace see so many states abused by one. Meanwhile the

opinion would be either that we were justly so used, or that we put

up with it from cowardice, and were proving degenerate sons in not

even securing for ourselves the freedom which our fathers gave to

Hellas; and in allowing the establishment in Hellas of a tyrant state,

though in individual states we think it our duty to put down sole

rulers. And we do not know how this conduct can be held free from

three of the gravest failings, want of sense, of courage, or of vigilance.

For we do not suppose that you have taken refuge in that contempt

of an enemy which has proved so fatal in so many instances- a feeling

which from the numbers that it has ruined has come to be called not

contemptuous but contemptible.


“There is, however, no advantage in reflections on the past further

than may be of service to the present. For the future we must provide

by maintaining what the present gives us and redoubling our efforts;

it is hereditary to us to win virtue as the fruit of labour, and you

must not change the habit, even though you should have a slight advantage

in wealth and resources; for it is not right that what was won in

want should be lost in plenty; no, we must boldly advance to the war

for many reasons; the god has commanded it and promised to be with

us, and the rest of Hellas will all join in the struggle, part from

fear, part from interest. You will be the first to break a treaty

which the god, in advising us to go to war, judges to be violated

already, but rather to support a treaty that has been outraged: indeed,

treaties are broken not by resistance but by aggression.


“Your position, therefore, from whatever quarter you may view it,

will amply justify you in going to war; and this step we recommend

in the interests of all, bearing in mind that identity of interest

you have taken refuge in that contempt of an enemy which has proved

so fatal in so many instances- a feeling which from the numbers that

it has ruined has come to be called not contemptuous but contemptible.


“There is, however, no advantage in reflections on the past further

than may be of service to the present. For the future we must provide

by maintaining what the present gives us and redoubling our efforts;

it is hereditary to us to win virtue as the fruit of labour, and you

must not change the habit, even though you should have a slight advantage

in wealth and resources; for it is not right that what was won in

want should be lost in plenty; no, we must boldly advance to the war

for many reasons; the god has commanded it and promised to be with

us, and the rest of Hellas will all join in the struggle, part from

fear, part from interest. You will be the first to break a treaty

which the god, in advising us to go to war, judges to be violated

already, but rather to support a treaty that has been outraged: indeed,

treaties are broken not by resistance but by aggression.


“Your position, therefore, from whatever quarter you may view it,

will amply justify you in going to war; and this step we recommend

in the interests of all, bearing in mind that identity of interest

you have taken refuge in that contempt of an enemy which has proved

so fatal in so many instances- a feeling which from the numbers that

it has ruined has come to be called not contemptuous but contemptible.


“There is, however, no advantage in reflections on the past further

than may be of service to the present. For the future we must provide

by maintaining what the present gives us and redoubling our efforts;

it is hereditary to us to win virtue as the fruit of labour, and you

must not change the habit, even though you should have a slight advantage

in wealth and resources; for it is not right that what was won in

want should be lost in plenty; no, we must boldly advance to the war

for many reasons; the god has commanded it and promised to be with

us, and the rest of Hellas will all join in the struggle, part from

fear, part from interest. You will be the first to break a treaty

which the god, in advising us to go to war, judges to be violated

already, but rather to support a treaty that has been outraged: indeed,

treaties are broken not by resistance but by aggression.


“Your position, therefore, from whatever quarter you may view it,

will amply justify you in going to war; and this step we recommend

in the interests of all, bearing in mind that identity of interest

is the surest of bonds, whether between states or individuals. Delay

not, therefore, to assist Potidaea, a Dorian city besieged by Ionians,

which is quite a reversal of the order of things; nor to assert the

freedom of the rest. It is impossible for us to wait any longer when

waiting can only mean immediate disaster for some of us, and, if it

comes to be known that we have conferred but do not venture to protect

ourselves, like disaster in the near future for the rest. Delay not,

fellow allies, but, convinced of the necessity of the crisis and the

wisdom of this counsel, vote for the war, undeterred by its immediate

terrors, but looking beyond to the lasting peace by which it will

be succeeded. Out of war peace gains fresh stability, but to refuse

to abandon repose for war is not so sure a method of avoiding danger.

We must believe that the tyrant city that has been established in

Hellas has been established against all alike, with a programme of

universal empire, part fulfilled, part in contemplation; let us then

attack and reduce it, and win future security for ourselves and freedom

for the Hellenes who are now enslaved.”


Such were the words of the Corinthians. The Lacedaemonians, having

now heard all, give their opinion, took the vote of all the allied

states present in order, great and small alike; and the majority voted

for war. This decided, it was still impossible for them to commence

at once, from their want of preparation; but it was resolved that

the means requisite were to be procured by the different states, and

that there was to be no delay. And indeed, in spite of the time occupied

with the necessary arrangements, less than a year elapsed before Attica

was invaded, and the war openly begun.


This interval was spent in sending embassies to Athens charged with

complaints, in order to obtain as good a pretext for war as possible,

in the event of her paying no attention to them. The first Lacedaemonian

embassy was to order the Athenians to drive out the curse of the goddess;

the history of which is as follows. In former generations there was

an Athenian of the name of Cylon, a victor at the Olympic games, of

good birth and powerful position, who had married a daughter of Theagenes,

a Megarian, at that time tyrant of Megara. Now this Cylon was inquiring

at Delphi; when he was told by the god to seize the Acropolis of Athens

on the grand festival of Zeus. Accordingly, procuring a force from

Theagenes and persuading his friends to join him, when the Olympic

festival in Peloponnese came, he seized the Acropolis, with the intention

of making himself tyrant, thinking that this was the grand festival

of Zeus, and also an occasion appropriate for a victor at the Olympic

games. Whether the grand festival that was meant was in Attica or

elsewhere was a question which he never thought of, and which the

oracle did not offer to solve. For the Athenians also have a festival

which is called the grand festival of Zeus Meilichios or Gracious,

viz., the Diasia. It is celebrated outside the city, and the whole

people sacrifice not real victims but a number of bloodless offerings

peculiar to the country. However, fancying he had chosen the right

time, he made the attempt. As soon as the Athenians perceived it,

they flocked in, one and all, from the country, and sat down, and

laid siege to the citadel. But as time went on, weary of the labour

of blockade, most of them departed; the responsibility of keeping

guard being left to the nine archons, with plenary powers to arrange

everything according to their good judgment. It must be known that

at that time most political functions were discharged by the nine

archons. Meanwhile Cylon and his besieged companions were distressed

for want of food and water. Accordingly Cylon and his brother made

their escape; but the rest being hard pressed, and some even dying

of famine, seated themselves as suppliants at the altar in the Acropolis.

The Athenians who were charged with the duty of keeping guard, when

they saw them at the point of death in the temple, raised them up

on the understanding that no harm should be done to them, led them

out, and slew them. Some who as they passed by took refuge at the

altars of the awful goddesses were dispatched on the spot. From this

deed the men who killed them were called accursed and guilty against

the goddess, they and their descendants. Accordingly these cursed

ones were driven out by the Athenians, driven out again by Cleomenes

of Lacedaemon and an Athenian faction; the living were driven out,

and the bones of the dead were taken up; thus they were cast out.

For all that, they came back afterwards, and their descendants are

still in the city.


This, then was the curse that the Lacedaemonians ordered them to drive

out. They were actuated primarily, as they pretended, by a care for

the honour of the gods; but they also know that Pericles, son of Xanthippus,

was connected with the curse on his mother’s side, and they thought

that his banishment would materially advance their designs on Athens.

Not that they really hoped to succeed in procuring this; they rather

thought to create a prejudice against him in the eyes of his countrymen

from the feeling that the war would be partly caused by his misfortune.

For being the most powerful man of his time, and the leading Athenian

statesman, he opposed the Lacedaemonians in everything, and would

have no concessions, but ever urged the Athenians on to war.


The Athenians retorted by ordering the Lacedaemonians to drive out

the curse of Taenarus. The Lacedaemonians had once raised up some

Helot suppliants from the temple of Poseidon at Taenarus, led them

away and slain them; for which they believe the great earthquake at

Sparta to have been a retribution. The Athenians also ordered them

to drive out the curse of the goddess of the Brazen House; the history

of which is as follows. After Pausanias the Lacedaemonian had been

recalled by the Spartans from his command in the Hellespont (this

is his first recall), and had been tried by them and acquitted, not

being again sent out in a public capacity, he took a galley of Hermione

on his own responsibility, without the authority of the Lacedaemonians,

and arrived as a private person in the Hellespont. He came ostensibly

for the Hellenic war, really to carry on his intrigues with the King,

which he had begun before his recall, being ambitious of reigning

over Hellas. The circumstance which first enabled him to lay the King

under an obligation, and to make a beginning of the whole design,

was this. Some connections and kinsmen of the King had been taken

in Byzantium, on its capture from the Medes, when he was first there,

after the return from Cyprus. These captives he sent off to the King

without the knowledge of the rest of the allies, the account being

that they had escaped from him. He managed this with the help of Gongylus,

an Eretrian, whom he had placed in charge of Byzantium and the prisoners.

He also gave Gongylus a letter for the King, the contents of which

were as follows, as was afterwards discovered: “Pausanias, the general

of Sparta, anxious to do you a favour, sends you these his prisoners

of war. I propose also, with your approval, to marry your daughter,

and to make Sparta and the rest of Hellas subject to you. I may say

that I think I am able to do this, with your co-operation. Accordingly

if any of this please you, send a safe man to the sea through whom

we may in future conduct our correspondence.”


This was all that was revealed in the writing, and Xerxes was pleased

with the letter. He sent off Artabazus, son of Pharnaces, to the sea

with orders to supersede Megabates, the previous governor in the satrapy

of Daskylion, and to send over as quickly as possible to Pausanias

at Byzantium a letter which he entrusted to him; to show him the royal

signet, and to execute any commission which he might receive from

Pausanias on the King’s matters with all care and fidelity. Artabazus

on his arrival carried the King’s orders into effect, and sent over

the letter, which contained the following answer: “Thus saith King

Xerxes to Pausanias. For the men whom you have saved for me across

sea from Byzantium, an obligation is laid up for you in our house,

recorded for ever; and with your proposals I am well pleased. Let

neither night nor day stop you from diligently performing any of your

promises to me; neither for cost of gold nor of silver let them be

hindered, nor yet for number of troops, wherever it may be that their

presence is needed; but with Artabazus, an honourable man whom I send

you, boldly advance my objects and yours, as may be most for the honour

and interest of us both.”


Before held in high honour by the Hellenes as the hero of Plataea,

Pausanias, after the receipt of this letter, became prouder than ever,

and could no longer live in the usual style, but went out of Byzantium

in a Median dress, was attended on his march through Thrace by a bodyguard

of Medes and Egyptians, kept a Persian table, and was quite unable

to contain his intentions, but betrayed by his conduct in trifles

what his ambition looked one day to enact on a grander scale. He also

made himself difficult of access, and displayed so violent a temper

to every one without exception that no one could come near him. Indeed,

this was the principal reason why the confederacy went over to the



The above-mentioned conduct, coming to the ears of the Lacedaemonians,

occasioned his first recall. And after his second voyage out in the

ship of Hermione, without their orders, he gave proofs of similar

behaviour. Besieged and expelled from Byzantium by the Athenians,

he did not return to Sparta; but news came that he had settled at

Colonae in the Troad, and was intriguing with the barbarians, and

that his stay there was for no good purpose; and the ephors, now no

longer hesitating, sent him a herald and a scytale with orders to

accompany the herald or be declared a public enemy. Anxious above

everything to avoid suspicion, and confident that he could quash the

charge by means of money, he returned a second time to Sparta. At

first thrown into prison by the ephors (whose powers enable them to

do this to the King), soon compromised the matter and came out again,

and offered himself for trial to any who wished to institute an inquiry

concerning him.


Now the Spartans had no tangible proof against him- neither his enemies

nor the nation- of that indubitable kind required for the punishment

of a member of the royal family, and at that moment in high office;

he being regent for his first cousin King Pleistarchus, Leonidas’s

son, who was still a minor. But by his contempt of the laws and imitation

of the barbarians, he gave grounds for much suspicion of his being

discontented with things established; all the occasions on which he

had in any way departed from the regular customs were passed in review,

and it was remembered that he had taken upon himself to have inscribed

on the tripod at Delphi, which was dedicated by the Hellenes as the

first-fruits of the spoil of the Medes, the following couplet:


The Mede defeated, great Pausanias raised

This monument, that Phoebus might be praised.


At the time the Lacedaemonians had at once erased the couplet, and

inscribed the names of the cities that had aided in the overthrow

of the barbarian and dedicated the offering. Yet it was considered

that Pausanias had here been guilty of a grave offence, which, interpreted

by the light of the attitude which he had since assumed, gained a

new significance, and seemed to be quite in keeping with his present

schemes. Besides, they were informed that he was even intriguing with

the Helots; and such indeed was the fact, for he promised them freedom

and citizenship if they would join him in insurrection and would help

him to carry out his plans to the end. Even now, mistrusting the evidence

even of the Helots themselves, the ephors would not consent to take

any decided step against him; in accordance with their regular custom

towards themselves, namely, to be slow in taking any irrevocable resolve

in the matter of a Spartan citizen without indisputable proof. At

last, it is said, the person who was going to carry to Artabazus the

last letter for the King, a man of Argilus, once the favourite and

most trusty servant of Pausanias, turned informer. Alarmed by the

reflection that none of the previous messengers had ever returned,

having counterfeited the seal, in order that, if he found himself

mistaken in his surmises, or if Pausanias should ask to make some

correction, he might not be discovered, he undid the letter, and found

the postscript that he had suspected, viz., an order to put him to



On being shown the letter, the ephors now felt more certain. Still,

they wished to hear Pausanias commit himself with their own ears.

Accordingly the man went by appointment to Taenarus as a suppliant,

and there built himself a hut divided into two by a partition; within

which he concealed some of the ephors and let them hear the whole

matter plainly. For Pausanias came to him and asked him the reason

of his suppliant position; and the man reproached him with the order

that he had written concerning him, and one by one declared all the

rest of the circumstances, how he who had never yet brought him into

any danger, while employed as agent between him and the King, was

yet just like the mass of his servants to be rewarded with death.

Admitting all this, and telling him not to be angry about the matter,

Pausanias gave him the pledge of raising him up from the temple, and

begged him to set off as quickly as possible, and not to hinder the

business in hand.


The ephors listened carefully, and then departed, taking no action

for the moment, but, having at last attained to certainty, were preparing

to arrest him in the city. It is reported that, as he was about to

be arrested in the street, he saw from the face of one of the ephors

what he was coming for; another, too, made him a secret signal, and

betrayed it to him from kindness. Setting off with a run for the temple

of the goddess of the Brazen House, the enclosure of which was near

at hand, he succeeded in taking sanctuary before they took him, and

entering into a small chamber, which formed part of the temple, to

avoid being exposed to the weather, lay still there. The ephors, for

the moment distanced in the pursuit, afterwards took off the roof

of the chamber, and having made sure that he was inside, shut him

in, barricaded the doors, and staying before the place, reduced him

by starvation. When they found that he was on the point of expiring,

just as he was, in the chamber, they brought him out of the temple,

while the breath was still in him, and as soon as he was brought out

he died. They were going to throw him into the Kaiadas, where they

cast criminals, but finally decided to inter him somewhere near. But

the god at Delphi afterwards ordered the Lacedaemonians to remove

the tomb to the place of his death- where he now lies in the consecrated

ground, as an inscription on a monument declares- and, as what had

been done was a curse to them, to give back two bodies instead of

one to the goddess of the Brazen House. So they had two brazen statues

made, and dedicated them as a substitute for Pausanias. the Athenians

retorted by telling the Lacedaemonians to drive out what the god himself

had pronounced to be a curse.


To return to the Medism of Pausanias. Matter was found in the course

of the inquiry to implicate Themistocles; and the Lacedaemonians accordingly

sent envoys to the Athenians and required them to punish him as they

had punished Pausanias. The Athenians consented to do so. But he had,

as it happened, been ostracized, and, with a residence at Argos, was

in the habit of visiting other parts of Peloponnese. So they sent

with the Lacedaemonians, who were ready to join in the pursuit, persons

with instructions to take him wherever they found him. But Themistocles

got scent of their intentions, and fled from Peloponnese to Corcyra,

which was under obligations towards him. But the Corcyraeans alleged

that they could not venture to shelter him at the cost of offending

Athens and Lacedaemon, and they conveyed him over to the continent

opposite. Pursued by the officers who hung on the report of his movements,

at a loss where to turn, he was compelled to stop at the house of

Admetus, the Molossian king, though they were not on friendly terms.

Admetus happened not to be indoors, but his wife, to whom he made

himself a suppliant, instructed him to take their child in his arms

and sit down by the hearth. Soon afterwards Admetus came in, and Themistocles

told him who he was, and begged him not to revenge on Themistocles

in exile any opposition which his requests might have experienced

from Themistocles at Athens. Indeed, he was now far too low for his

revenge; retaliation was only honourable between equals. Besides,

his opposition to the king had only affected the success of a request,

not the safety of his person; if the king were to give him up to the

pursuers that he mentioned, and the fate which they intended for him,

he would just be consigning him to certain death.


The King listened to him and raised him up with his son, as he was

sitting with him in his arms after the most effectual method of supplication,

and on the arrival of the Lacedaemonians not long afterwards, refused

to give him up for anything they could say, but sent him off by land

to the other sea to Pydna in Alexander’s dominions, as he wished to

go to the Persian king. There he met with a merchantman on the point

of starting for Ionia. Going on board, he was carried by a storm to

the Athenian squadron which was blockading Naxos. In his alarm- he

was luckily unknown to the people in the vessel- he told the master

who he was and what he was flying for, and said that, if he refused

to save him, he would declare that he was taking him for a bribe.

Meanwhile their safety consisted in letting no one leave the ship

until a favourable time for sailing should arise. If he complied with

his wishes, he promised him a proper recompense. The master acted

as he desired, and, after lying to for a day and a night out of reach

of the squadron, at length arrived at Ephesus.


After having rewarded him with a present of money, as soon as he received

some from his friends at Athens and from his secret hoards at Argos,

Themistocles started inland with one of the coast Persians, and sent

a letter to King Artaxerxes, Xerxes’s son, who had just come to the

throne. Its contents were as follows: “I, Themistocles, am come to

you, who did your house more harm than any of the Hellenes, when I

was compelled to defend myself against your father’s invasion- harm,

however, far surpassed by the good that I did him during his retreat,

which brought no danger for me but much for him. For the past, you

are a good turn in my debt”- here he mentioned the warning sent to

Xerxes from Salamis to retreat, as well as his finding the bridges

unbroken, which, as he falsely pretended, was due to him- “for the

present, able to do you great service, I am here, pursued by the Hellenes

for my friendship for you. However, I desire a year’s grace, when

I shall be able to declare in person the objects of my coming.”


It is said that the King approved his intention, and told him to do

as he said. He employed the interval in making what progress he could

in the study of the Persian tongue, and of the customs of the country.

Arrived at court at the end of the year, he attained to very high

consideration there, such as no Hellene has ever possessed before

or since; partly from his splendid antecedents, partly from the hopes

which he held out of effecting for him the subjugation of Hellas,

but principally by the proof which experience daily gave of his capacity.

For Themistocles was a man who exhibited the most indubitable signs

of genius; indeed, in this particular he has a claim on our admiration

quite extraordinary and unparalleled. By his own native capacity,

alike unformed and unsupplemented by study, he was at once the best

judge in those sudden crises which admit of little or of no deliberation,

and the best prophet of the future, even to its most distant possibilities.

An able theoretical expositor of all that came within the sphere of

his practice, he was not without the power of passing an adequate

judgment in matters in which he had no experience. He could also excellently

divine the good and evil which lay hid in the unseen future. In fine,

whether we consider the extent of his natural powers, or the slightness

of his application, this extraordinary man must be allowed to have

surpassed all others in the faculty of intuitively meeting an emergency.

Disease was the real cause of his death; though there is a story of

his having ended his life by poison, on finding himself unable to

fulfil his promises to the king. However this may be, there is a monument

to him in the marketplace of Asiatic Magnesia. He was governor of

the district, the King having given him Magnesia, which brought in

fifty talents a year, for bread, Lampsacus, which was considered to

be the richest wine country, for wine, and Myos for other provisions.

His bones, it is said, were conveyed home by his relatives in accordance

with his wishes, and interred in Attic ground. This was done without

the knowledge of the Athenians; as it is against the law to bury in

Attica an outlaw for treason. So ends the history of Pausanias and

Themistocles, the Lacedaemonian and the Athenian, the most famous

men of their time in Hellas.


To return to the Lacedaemonians. The history of their first embassy,

the injunctions which it conveyed, and the rejoinder which it provoked,

concerning the expulsion of the accursed persons, have been related

already. It was followed by a second, which ordered Athens to raise

the siege of Potidaea, and to respect the independence of Aegina.

Above all, it gave her most distinctly to understand that war might

be prevented by the revocation of the Megara decree, excluding the

Megarians from the use of Athenian harbours and of the market of Athens.

But Athens was not inclined either to revoke the decree, or to entertain

their other proposals; she accused the Megarians of pushing their

cultivation into the consecrated ground and the unenclosed land on

the border, and of harbouring her runaway slaves. At last an embassy

arrived with the Lacedaemonian ultimatum. The ambassadors were Ramphias,

Melesippus, and Agesander. Not a word was said on any of the old subjects;

there was simply this: “Lacedaemon wishes the peace to continue, and

there is no reason why it should not, if you would leave the Hellenes

independent.” Upon this the Athenians held an assembly, and laid the

matter before their consideration. It was resolved to deliberate once

for all on all their demands, and to give them an answer. There were

many speakers who came forward and gave their support to one side

or the other, urging the necessity of war, or the revocation of the

decree and the folly of allowing it to stand in the way of peace.

Among them came forward Pericles, son of Xanthippus, the first man

of his time at Athens, ablest alike in counsel and in action, and

gave the following advice:


“There is one principle, Athenians, which I hold to through everything,

and that is the principle of no concession to the Peloponnesians.

I know that the spirit which inspires men while they are being persuaded

to make war is not always retained in action; that as circumstances

change, resolutions change. Yet I see that now as before the same,

almost literally the same, counsel is demanded of me; and I put it

to those of you who are allowing yourselves to be persuaded, to support

the national resolves even in the case of reverses, or to forfeit

all credit for their wisdom in the event of success. For sometimes

the course of things is as arbitrary as the plans of man; indeed this

is why we usually blame chance for whatever does not happen as we

expected. Now it was clear before that Lacedaemon entertained designs

against us; it is still more clear now. The treaty provides that we

shall mutually submit our differences to legal settlement, and that

we shall meanwhile each keep what we have. Yet the Lacedaemonians

never yet made us any such offer, never yet would accept from us any

such offer; on the contrary, they wish complaints to be settled by

war instead of by negotiation; and in the end we find them here dropping

the tone of expostulation and adopting that of command. They order

us to raise the siege of Potidaea, to let Aegina be independent, to

revoke the Megara decree; and they conclude with an ultimatum warning

us to leave the Hellenes independent. I hope that you will none of

you think that we shall be going to war for a trifle if we refuse

to revoke the Megara decree, which appears in front of their complaints,

and the revocation of which is to save us from war, or let any feeling

of self-reproach linger in your minds, as if you went to war for slight

cause. Why, this trifle contains the whole seal and trial of your

resolution. If you give way, you will instantly have to meet some

greater demand, as having been frightened into obedience in the first

instance; while a firm refusal will make them clearly understand that

they must treat you more as equals. Make your decision therefore at

once, either to submit before you are harmed, or if we are to go to

war, as I for one think we ought, to do so without caring whether

the ostensible cause be great or small, resolved against making concessions

or consenting to a precarious tenure of our possessions. For all claims

from an equal, urged upon a neighbour as commands before any attempt

at legal settlement, be they great or be they small, have only one

meaning, and that is slavery.


“As to the war and the resources of either party, a detailed comparison

will not show you the inferiority of Athens. Personally engaged in

the cultivation of their land, without funds either private or public,

the Peloponnesians are also without experience in long wars across

sea, from the strict limit which poverty imposes on their attacks

upon each other. Powers of this description are quite incapable of

often manning a fleet or often sending out an army: they cannot afford

the absence from their homes, the expenditure from their own funds;

and besides, they have not command of the sea. Capital, it must be

remembered, maintains a war more than forced contributions. Farmers

are a class of men that are always more ready to serve in person than

in purse. Confident that the former will survive the dangers, they

are by no means so sure that the latter will not be prematurely exhausted,

especially if the war last longer than they expect, which it very

likely will. In a single battle the Peloponnesians and their allies

may be able to defy all Hellas, but they are incapacitated from carrying

on a war against a power different in character from their own, by

the want of the single council-chamber requisite to prompt and vigorous

action, and the substitution of a diet composed of various races,

in which every state possesses an equal vote, and each presses its

own ends, a condition of things which generally results in no action

at all. The great wish of some is to avenge themselves on some particular

enemy, the great wish of others to save their own pocket. Slow in

assembling, they devote a very small fraction of the time to the consideration

of any public object, most of it to the prosecution of their own objects.

Meanwhile each fancies that no harm will come of his neglect, that

it is the business of somebody else to look after this or that for

him; and so, by the same notion being entertained by all separately,

the common cause imperceptibly decays.


“But the principal point is the hindrance that they will experience

from want of money. The slowness with which it comes in will cause

delay; but the opportunities of war wait for no man. Again, we need

not be alarmed either at the possibility of their raising fortifications

in Attica, or at their navy. It would be difficult for any system

of fortifications to establish a rival city, even in time of peace,

much more, surely, in an enemy’s country, with Athens just as much

fortified against it as it against Athens; while a mere post might

be able to do some harm to the country by incursions and by the facilities

which it would afford for desertion, but can never prevent our sailing

into their country and raising fortifications there, and making reprisals

with our powerful fleet. For our naval skill is of more use to us

for service on land, than their military skill for service at sea.

Familiarity with the sea they will not find an easy acquisition. If

you who have been practising at it ever since the Median invasion

have not yet brought it to perfection, is there any chance of anything

considerable being effected by an agricultural, unseafaring population,

who will besides be prevented from practising by the constant presence

of strong squadrons of observation from Athens? With a small squadron

they might hazard an engagement, encouraging their ignorance by numbers;

but the restraint of a strong force will prevent their moving, and

through want of practice they will grow more clumsy, and consequently

more timid. It must be kept in mind that seamanship, just like anything

else, is a matter of art, and will not admit of being taken up occasionally

as an occupation for times of leisure; on the contrary, it is so exacting

as to leave leisure for nothing else.


“Even if they were to touch the moneys at Olympia or Delphi, and try

to seduce our foreign sailors by the temptation of higher pay, that

would only be a serious danger if we could not still be a match for

them by embarking our own citizens and the aliens resident among us.

But in fact by this means we are always a match for them; and, best

of all, we have a larger and higher class of native coxswains and

sailors among our own citizens than all the rest of Hellas. And to

say nothing of the danger of such a step, none of our foreign sailors

would consent to become an outlaw from his country, and to take service

with them and their hopes, for the sake of a few days’ high pay.


“This, I think, is a tolerably fair account of the position of the

Peloponnesians; that of Athens is free from the defects that I have

criticized in them, and has other advantages of its own, which they

can show nothing to equal. If they march against our country we will

sail against theirs, and it will then be found that the desolation

of the whole of Attica is not the same as that of even a fraction

of Peloponnese; for they will not be able to supply the deficiency

except by a battle, while we have plenty of land both on the islands

and the continent. The rule of the sea is indeed a great matter. Consider

for a moment. Suppose that we were islanders; can you conceive a more

impregnable position? Well, this in future should, as far as possible,

be our conception of our position. Dismissing all thought of our land

and houses, we must vigilantly guard the sea and the city. No irritation

that we may feel for the former must provoke us to a battle with the

numerical superiority of the Peloponnesians. A victory would only

be succeeded by another battle against the same superiority: a reverse

involves the loss of our allies, the source of our strength, who will

not remain quiet a day after we become unable to march against them.

We must cry not over the loss of houses and land but of men’s lives;

since houses and land do not gain men, but men them. And if I had

thought that I could persuade you, I would have bid you go out and

lay them waste with your own hands, and show the Peloponnesians that

this at any rate will not make you submit.


“I have many other reasons to hope for a favourable issue, if you

can consent not to combine schemes of fresh conquest with the conduct

of the war, and will abstain from wilfully involving yourselves in

other dangers; indeed, I am more afraid of our own blunders than of

the enemy’s devices. But these matters shall be explained in another

speech, as events require; for the present dismiss these men with

the answer that we will allow Megara the use of our market and harbours,

when the Lacedaemonians suspend their alien acts in favour of us and

our allies, there being nothing in the treaty to prevent either one

or the other: that we will leave the cities independent, if independent

we found them when we made the treaty, and when the Lacedaemonians

grant to their cities an independence not involving subservience to

Lacedaemonian interests, but such as each severally may desire: that

we are willing to give the legal satisfaction which our agreements

specify, and that we shall not commence hostilities, but shall resist

those who do commence them. This is an answer agreeable at once to

the rights and the dignity of Athens. It must be thoroughly understood

that war is a necessity; but that the more readily we accept it, the

less will be the ardour of our opponents, and that out of the greatest

dangers communities and individuals acquire the greatest glory. Did

not our fathers resist the Medes not only with resources far different

from ours, but even when those resources had been abandoned; and more

by wisdom than by fortune, more by daring than by strength, did not

they beat off the barbarian and advance their affairs to their present

height? We must not fall behind them, but must resist our enemies

in any way and in every way, and attempt to hand down our power to

our posterity unimpaired.”


Such were the words of Pericles. The Athenians, persuaded of the wisdom

of his advice, voted as he desired, and answered the Lacedaemonians

as he recommended, both on the separate points and in the general;

they would do nothing on dictation, but were ready to have the complaints

settled in a fair and impartial manner by the legal method, which

the terms of the truce prescribed. So the envoys departed home and

did not return again.


These were the charges and differences existing between the rival

powers before the war, arising immediately from the affair at Epidamnus

and Corcyra. Still intercourse continued in spite of them, and mutual

communication. It was carried on without heralds, but not without

suspicion, as events were occurring which were equivalent to a breach

of the treaty and matter for war.






Chapter VI


Beginning of the Peloponnesian War – First Invasion of Attica – Funeral

Oration of Pericles


The war between the Athenians and Peloponnesians and the allies on

either side now really begins. For now all intercourse except through

the medium of heralds ceased, and hostilities were commenced and prosecuted

without intermission. The history follows the chronological order

of events by summers and winters.


The thirty years’ truce which was entered into after the conquest

of Euboea lasted fourteen years. In the fifteenth, in the forty-eighth

year of the priestess-ship of Chrysis at Argos, in the ephorate of

Aenesias at Sparta, in the last month but two of the archonship of

Pythodorus at Athens, and six months after the battle of Potidaea,

just at the beginning of spring, a Theban force a little over three

hundred strong, under the command of their Boeotarchs, Pythangelus,

son of Phyleides, and Diemporus, son of Onetorides, about the first

watch of the night, made an armed entry into Plataea, a town of Boeotia

in alliance with Athens. The gates were opened to them by a Plataean

called Naucleides, who, with his party, had invited them in, meaning

to put to death the citizens of the opposite party, bring over the

city to Thebes, and thus obtain power for themselves. This was arranged

through Eurymachus, son of Leontiades, a person of great influence

at Thebes. For Plataea had always been at variance with Thebes; and

the latter, foreseeing that war was at hand, wished to surprise her

old enemy in time of peace, before hostilities had actually broken

out. Indeed this was how they got in so easily without being observed,

as no guard had been posted. After the soldiers had grounded arms

in the market-place, those who had invited them in wished them to

set to work at once and go to their enemies’ houses. This, however,

the Thebans refused to do, but determined to make a conciliatory proclamation,

and if possible to come to a friendly understanding with the citizens.

Their herald accordingly invited any who wished to resume their old

place in the confederacy of their countrymen to ground arms with them,

for they thought that in this way the city would readily join them.


On becoming aware of the presence of the Thebans within their gates,

and of the sudden occupation of the town, the Plataeans concluded

in their alarm that more had entered than was really the case, the

night preventing their seeing them. They accordingly came to terms

and, accepting the proposal, made no movement; especially as the Thebans

offered none of them any violence. But somehow or other, during the

negotiations, they discovered the scanty numbers of the Thebans, and

decided that they could easily attack and overpower them; the mass

of the Plataeans being averse to revolting from Athens. At all events

they resolved to attempt it. Digging through the party walls of the

houses, they thus managed to join each other without being seen going

through the streets, in which they placed wagons without the beasts

in them, to serve as a barricade, and arranged everything else as

seemed convenient for the occasion. When everything had been done

that circumstances permitted, they watched their opportunity and went

out of their houses against the enemy. It was still night, though

daybreak was at hand: in daylight it was thought that their attack

would be met by men full of courage and on equal terms with their

assailants, while in darkness it would fall upon panic-stricken troops,

who would also be at a disadvantage from their enemy’s knowledge of

the locality. So they made their assault at once, and came to close

quarters as quickly as they could.


The Thebans, finding themselves outwitted, immediately closed up to

repel all attacks made upon them. Twice or thrice they beat back their

assailants. But the men shouted and charged them, the women and slaves

screamed and yelled from the houses and pelted them with stones and

tiles; besides, it had been raining hard all night; and so at last

their courage gave way, and they turned and fled through the town.

Most of the fugitives were quite ignorant of the right ways out, and

this, with the mud, and the darkness caused by the moon being in her

last quarter, and the fact that their pursuers knew their way about

and could easily stop their escape, proved fatal to many. The only

gate open was the one by which they had entered, and this was shut

by one of the Plataeans driving the spike of a javelin into the bar

instead of the bolt; so that even here there was no longer any means

of exit. They were now chased all over the town. Some got on the wall

and threw themselves over, in most cases with a fatal result. One

party managed to find a deserted gate, and obtaining an axe from a

woman, cut through the bar; but as they were soon observed only a

few succeeded in getting out. Others were cut off in detail in different

parts of the city. The most numerous and compact body rushed into

a large building next to the city wall: the doors on the side of the

street happened to be open, and the Thebans fancied that they were

the gates of the town, and that there was a passage right through

to the outside. The Plataeans, seeing their enemies in a trap, now

consulted whether they should set fire to the building and burn them

just as they were, or whether there was anything else that they could

do with them; until at length these and the rest of the Theban survivors

found wandering about the town agreed to an unconditional surrender

of themselves and their arms to the Plataeans.


While such was the fate of the party in Plataea, the rest of the Thebans

who were to have joined them with all their forces before daybreak,

in case of anything miscarrying with the body that had entered, received

the news of the affair on the road, and pressed forward to their succour.

Now Plataea is nearly eight miles from Thebes, and their march delayed

by the rain that had fallen in the night, for the river Asopus had

risen and was not easy of passage; and so, having to march in the

rain, and being hindered in crossing the river, they arrived too late,

and found the whole party either slain or captive. When they learned

what had happened, they at once formed a design against the Plataeans

outside the city. As the attack had been made in time of peace, and

was perfectly unexpected, there were of course men and stock in the

fields; and the Thebans wished if possible to have some prisoners

to exchange against their countrymen in the town, should any chance

to have been taken alive. Such was their plan. But the Plataeans suspected

their intention almost before it was formed, and becoming alarmed

for their fellow citizens outside the town, sent a herald to the Thebans,

reproaching them for their unscrupulous attempt to seize their city

in time of peace, and warning them against any outrage on those outside.

Should the warning be disregarded, they threatened to put to death

the men they had in their hands, but added that, on the Thebans retiring

from their territory, they would surrender the prisoners to their

friends. This is the Theban account of the matter, and they say that

they had an oath given them. The Plataeans, on the other hand, do

not admit any promise of an immediate surrender, but make it contingent

upon subsequent negotiation: the oath they deny altogether. Be this

as it may, upon the Thebans retiring from their territory without

committing any injury, the Plataeans hastily got in whatever they

had in the country and immediately put the men to death. The prisoners

were a hundred and eighty in number; Eurymachus, the person with whom

the traitors had negotiated, being one.


This done, the Plataeans sent a messenger to Athens, gave back the

dead to the Thebans under a truce, and arranged things in the city

as seemed best to meet the present emergency. The Athenians meanwhile,

having had word of the affair sent them immediately after its occurrence,

had instantly seized all the Boeotians in Attica, and sent a herald

to the Plataeans to forbid their proceeding to extremities with their

Theban prisoners without instructions from Athens. The news of the

men’s death had of course not arrived; the first messenger having

left Plataea just when the Thebans entered it, the second just after

their defeat and capture; so there was no later news. Thus the Athenians

sent orders in ignorance of the facts; and the herald on his arrival

found the men slain. After this the Athenians marched to Plataea and

brought in provisions, and left a garrison in the place, also taking

away the women and children and such of the men as were least efficient.


After the affair at Plataea, the treaty had been broken by an overt

act, and Athens at once prepared for war, as did also Lacedaemon and

her allies. They resolved to send embassies to the King and to such

other of the barbarian powers as either party could look to for assistance,

and tried to ally themselves with the independent states at home.

Lacedaemon, in addition to the existing marine, gave orders to the

states that had declared for her in Italy and Sicily to build vessels

up to a grand total of five hundred, the quota of each city being

determined by its size, and also to provide a specified sum of money.

Till these were ready they were to remain neutral and to admit single

Athenian ships into their harbours. Athens on her part reviewed her

existing confederacy, and sent embassies to the places more immediately

round Peloponnese- Corcyra, Cephallenia, Acarnania, and Zacynthus-

perceiving that if these could be relied on she could carry the war

all round Peloponnese.


And if both sides nourished the boldest hopes and put forth their

utmost strength for the war, this was only natural. Zeal is always

at its height at the commencement of an undertaking; and on this particular

occasion Peloponnese and Athens were both full of young men whose

inexperience made them eager to take up arms, while the rest of Hellas

stood straining with excitement at the conflict of its leading cities.

Everywhere predictions were being recited and oracles being chanted

by such persons as collect them, and this not only in the contending

cities. Further, some while before this, there was an earthquake at

Delos, for the first time in the memory of the Hellenes. This was

said and thought to be ominous of the events impending; indeed, nothing

of the kind that happened was allowed to pass without remark. The

good wishes of men made greatly for the Lacedaemonians, especially

as they proclaimed themselves the liberators of Hellas. No private

or public effort that could help them in speech or action was omitted;

each thinking that the cause suffered wherever he could not himself

see to it. So general was the indignation felt against Athens, whether

by those who wished to escape from her empire, or were apprehensive

of being absorbed by it. Such were the preparations and such the feelings

with which the contest opened.


The allies of the two belligerents were the following. These were

the allies of Lacedaemon: all the Peloponnesians within the Isthmus

except the Argives and Achaeans, who were neutral; Pellene being the

only Achaean city that first joined in the war, though her example

was afterwards followed by the rest. Outside Peloponnese the Megarians,

Locrians, Boeotians, Phocians, Ambraciots, Leucadians, and Anactorians.

Of these, ships were furnished by the Corinthians, Megarians, Sicyonians,

Pellenians, Eleans, Ambraciots, and Leucadians; and cavalry by the

Boeotians, Phocians, and Locrians. The other states sent infantry.

This was the Lacedaemonian confederacy. That of Athens comprised the

Chians, Lesbians, Plataeans, the Messenians in Naupactus, most of

the Acarnanians, the Corcyraeans, Zacynthians, and some tributary

cities in the following countries, viz., Caria upon the sea with her

Dorian neighbours, Ionia, the Hellespont, the Thracian towns, the

islands lying between Peloponnese and Crete towards the east, and

all the Cyclades except Melos and Thera. Of these, ships were furnished

by Chios, Lesbos, and Corcyra, infantry and money by the rest. Such

were the allies of either party and their resources for the war.


Immediately after the affair at Plataea, Lacedaemon sent round orders

to the cities in Peloponnese and the rest of her confederacy to prepare

troops and the provisions requisite for a foreign campaign, in order

to invade Attica. The several states were ready at the time appointed

and assembled at the Isthmus: the contingent of each city being two-thirds

of its whole force. After the whole army had mustered, the Lacedaemonian

king, Archidamus, the leader of the expedition, called together the

generals of all the states and the principal persons and officers,

and exhorted them as follows:


“Peloponnesians and allies, our fathers made many campaigns both within

and without Peloponnese, and the elder men among us here are not without

experience in war. Yet we have never set out with a larger force than

the present; and if our numbers and efficiency are remarkable, so

also is the power of the state against which we march. We ought not

then to show ourselves inferior to our ancestors, or unequal to our

own reputation. For the hopes and attention of all Hellas are bent

upon the present effort, and its sympathy is with the enemy of the

hated Athens. Therefore, numerous as the invading army may appear

to be, and certain as some may think it that our adversary will not

meet us in the field, this is no sort of justification for the least

negligence upon the march; but the officers and men of each particular

city should always be prepared for the advent of danger in their own

quarters. The course of war cannot be foreseen, and its attacks are

generally dictated by the impulse of the moment; and where overweening

self-confidence has despised preparation, a wise apprehension often

been able to make head against superior numbers. Not that confidence

is out of place in an army of invasion, but in an enemy’s country

it should also be accompanied by the precautions of apprehension:

troops will by this combination be best inspired for dealing a blow,

and best secured against receiving one. In the present instance, the

city against which we are going, far from being so impotent for defence,

is on the contrary most excellently equipped at all points; so that

we have every reason to expect that they will take the field against

us, and that if they have not set out already before we are there,

they will certainly do so when they see us in their territory wasting

and destroying their property. For men are always exasperated at suffering

injuries to which they are not accustomed, and on seeing them inflicted

before their very eyes; and where least inclined for reflection, rush

with the greatest heat to action. The Athenians are the very people

of all others to do this, as they aspire to rule the rest of the world,

and are more in the habit of invading and ravaging their neighbours’

territory, than of seeing their own treated in the like fashion. Considering,

therefore, the power of the state against which we are marching, and

the greatness of the reputation which, according to the event, we

shall win or lose for our ancestors and ourselves, remember as you

follow where you may be led to regard discipline and vigilance as

of the first importance, and to obey with alacrity the orders transmitted

to you; as nothing contributes so much to the credit and safety of

an army as the union of large bodies by a single discipline.”


With this brief speech dismissing the assembly, Archidamus first sent

off Melesippus, son of Diacritus, a Spartan, to Athens, in case she

should be more inclined to submit on seeing the Peloponnesians actually

on the march. But the Athenians did not admit into the city or to

their assembly, Pericles having already carried a motion against admitting

either herald or embassy from the Lacedaemonians after they had once

marched out.


The herald was accordingly sent away without an audience, and ordered

to be beyond the frontier that same day; in future, if those who sent

him had a proposition to make, they must retire to their own territory

before they dispatched embassies to Athens. An escort was sent with

Melesippus to prevent his holding communication with any one. When

he reached the frontier and was just going to be dismissed, he departed

with these words: “This day will be the beginning of great misfortunes

to the Hellenes.” As soon as he arrived at the camp, and Archidamus

learnt that the Athenians had still no thoughts of submitting, he

at length began his march, and advanced with his army into their territory.

Meanwhile the Boeotians, sending their contingent and cavalry to join

the Peloponnesian expedition, went to Plataea with the remainder and

laid waste the country.


While the Peloponnesians were still mustering at the Isthmus, or on

the march before they invaded Attica, Pericles, son of Xanthippus,

one of the ten generals of the Athenians, finding that the invasion

was to take place, conceived the idea that Archidamus, who happened

to be his friend, might possibly pass by his estate without ravaging

it. This he might do, either from a personal wish to oblige him, or

acting under instructions from Lacedaemon for the purpose of creating

a prejudice against him, as had been before attempted in the demand

for the expulsion of the accursed family. He accordingly took the

precaution of announcing to the Athenians in the assembly that, although

Archidamus was his friend, yet this friendship should not extend to

the detriment of the state, and that in case the enemy should make

his houses and lands an exception to the rest and not pillage them,

he at once gave them up to be public property, so that they should

not bring him into suspicion. He also gave the citizens some advice

on their present affairs in the same strain as before. They were to

prepare for the war, and to carry in their property from the country.

They were not to go out to battle, but to come into the city and guard

it, and get ready their fleet, in which their real strength lay. They

were also to keep a tight rein on their allies- the strength of Athens

being derived from the money brought in by their payments, and success

in war depending principally upon conduct and capital. had no reason

to despond. Apart from other sources of income, an average revenue

of six hundred talents of silver was drawn from the tribute of the

allies; and there were still six thousand talents of coined silver

in the Acropolis, out of nine thousand seven hundred that had once

been there, from which the money had been taken for the porch of the

Acropolis, the other public buildings, and for Potidaea. This did

not include the uncoined gold and silver in public and private offerings,

the sacred vessels for the processions and games, the Median spoils,

and similar resources to the amount of five hundred talents. To this

he added the treasures of the other temples. These were by no means

inconsiderable, and might fairly be used. Nay, if they were ever absolutely

driven to it, they might take even the gold ornaments of Athene herself;

for the statue contained forty talents of pure gold and it was all

removable. This might be used for self-preservation, and must every

penny of it be restored. Such was their financial position- surely

a satisfactory one. Then they had an army of thirteen thousand heavy

infantry, besides sixteen thousand more in the garrisons and on home

duty at Athens. This was at first the number of men on guard in the

event of an invasion: it was composed of the oldest and youngest levies

and the resident aliens who had heavy armour. The Phaleric wall ran

for four miles, before it joined that round the city; and of this

last nearly five had a guard, although part of it was left without

one, viz., that between the Long Wall and the Phaleric. Then there

were the Long Walls to Piraeus, a distance of some four miles and

a half, the outer of which was manned. Lastly, the circumference of

Piraeus with Munychia was nearly seven miles and a half; only half

of this, however, was guarded. Pericles also showed them that they

had twelve hundred horse including mounted archers, with sixteen hundred

archers unmounted, and three hundred galleys fit for service. Such

were the resources of Athens in the different departments when the

Peloponnesian invasion was impending and hostilities were being commenced.

Pericles also urged his usual arguments for expecting a favourable

issue to the war.


The Athenians listened to his advice, and began to carry in their

wives and children from the country, and all their household furniture,

even to the woodwork of their houses which they took down. Their sheep

and cattle they sent over to Euboea and the adjacent islands. But

they found it hard to move, as most of them had been always used to

live in the country.


From very early times this had been more the case with the Athenians

than with others. Under Cecrops and the first kings, down to the reign

of Theseus, Attica had always consisted of a number of independent

townships, each with its own town hall and magistrates. Except in

times of danger the king at Athens was not consulted; in ordinary

seasons they carried on their government and settled their affairs

without his interference; sometimes even they waged war against him,

as in the case of the Eleusinians with Eumolpus against Erechtheus.

In Theseus, however, they had a king of equal intelligence and power;

and one of the chief features in his organization of the country was

to abolish the council-chambers and magistrates of the petty cities,

and to merge them in the single council-chamber and town hall of the

present capital. Individuals might still enjoy their private property

just as before, but they were henceforth compelled to have only one

political centre, viz., Athens; which thus counted all the inhabitants

of Attica among her citizens, so that when Theseus died he left a

great state behind him. Indeed, from him dates the Synoecia, or Feast

of Union; which is paid for by the state, and which the Athenians

still keep in honour of the goddess. Before this the city consisted

of the present citadel and the district beneath it looking rather

towards the south. This is shown by the fact that the temples of the

other deities, besides that of Athene, are in the citadel; and even

those that are outside it are mostly situated in this quarter of the

city, as that of the Olympian Zeus, of the Pythian Apollo, of Earth,

and of Dionysus in the Marshes, the same in whose honour the older

Dionysia are to this day celebrated in the month of Anthesterion not

only by the Athenians but also by their Ionian descendants. There

are also other ancient temples in this quarter. The fountain too,

which, since the alteration made by the tyrants, has been called Enneacrounos,

or Nine Pipes, but which, when the spring was open, went by the name

of Callirhoe, or Fairwater, was in those days, from being so near,

used for the most important offices. Indeed, the old fashion of using

the water before marriage and for other sacred purposes is still kept

up. Again, from their old residence in that quarter, the citadel is

still known among Athenians as the city.


The Athenians thus long lived scattered over Attica in independent

townships. Even after the centralization of Theseus, old habit still

prevailed; and from the early times down to the present war most Athenians

still lived in the country with their families and households, and

were consequently not at all inclined to move now, especially as they

had only just restored their establishments after the Median invasion.

Deep was their trouble and discontent at abandoning their houses and

the hereditary temples of the ancient constitution, and at having

to change their habits of life and to bid farewell to what each regarded

as his native city.


When they arrived at Athens, though a few had houses of their own

to go to, or could find an asylum with friends or relatives, by far

the greater number had to take up their dwelling in the parts of the

city that were not built over and in the temples and chapels of the

heroes, except the Acropolis and the temple of the Eleusinian Demeter

and such other Places as were always kept closed. The occupation of

the plot of ground lying below the citadel called the Pelasgian had

been forbidden by a curse; and there was also an ominous fragment

of a Pythian oracle which said:


Leave the Pelasgian parcel desolate,

Woe worth the day that men inhabit it! Yet this too was now built

over in the necessity of the moment. And in my opinion, if the oracle

proved true, it was in the opposite sense to what was expected. For

the misfortunes of the state did not arise from the unlawful occupation,

but the necessity of the occupation from the war; and though the god

did not mention this, he foresaw that it would be an evil day for

Athens in which the plot came to be inhabited. Many also took up their

quarters in the towers of the walls or wherever else they could. For

when they were all come in, the city proved too small to hold them;

though afterwards they divided the Long Walls and a great part of

Piraeus into lots and settled there. All this while great attention

was being given to the war; the allies were being mustered, and an

armament of a hundred ships equipped for Peloponnese. Such was the

state of preparation at Athens.


Meanwhile the army of the Peloponnesians was advancing. The first

town they came to in Attica was Oenoe, where they to enter the country.

Sitting down before it, they prepared to assault the wall with engines

and otherwise. Oenoe, standing upon the Athenian and Boeotian border,

was of course a walled town, and was used as a fortress by the Athenians

in time of war. So the Peloponnesians prepared for their assault,

and wasted some valuable time before the place. This delay brought

the gravest censure upon Archidamus. Even during the levying of the

war he had credit for weakness and Athenian sympathies by the half

measures he had advocated; and after the army had assembled he had

further injured himself in public estimation by his loitering at the

Isthmus and the slowness with which the rest of the march had been

conducted. But all this was as nothing to the delay at Oenoe. During

this interval the Athenians were carrying in their property; and it

was the belief of the Peloponnesians that a quick advance would have

found everything still out, had it not been for his procrastination.

Such was the feeling of the army towards Archidamus during the siege.

But he, it is said, expected that the Athenians would shrink from

letting their land be wasted, and would make their submission while

it was still uninjured; and this was why he waited.


But after he had assaulted Oenoe, and every possible attempt to take

it had failed, as no herald came from Athens, he at last broke up

his camp and invaded Attica. This was about eighty days after the

Theban attempt upon Plataea, just in the middle of summer, when the

corn was ripe, and Archidamus, son of Zeuxis, king of Lacedaemon,

was in command. Encamping in Eleusis and the Thriasian plain, they

began their ravages, and putting to flight some Athenian horse at

a place called Rheiti, or the Brooks, they then advanced, keeping

Mount Aegaleus on their right, through Cropia, until they reached

Acharnae, the largest of the Athenian demes or townships. Sitting

down before it, they formed a camp there, and continued their ravages

for a long while.


The reason why Archidamus remained in order of battle at Acharnae

during this incursion, instead of descending into the plain, is said

to have been this. He hoped that the Athenians might possibly be tempted

by the multitude of their youth and the unprecedented efficiency of

their service to come out to battle and attempt to stop the devastation

of their lands. Accordingly, as they had met him at Eleusis or the

Thriasian plain, he tried if they could be provoked to a sally by

the spectacle of a camp at Acharnae. He thought the place itself a

good position for encamping; and it seemed likely that such an important

part of the state as the three thousand heavy infantry of the Acharnians

would refuse to submit to the ruin of their property, and would force

a battle on the rest of the citizens. On the other hand, should the

Athenians not take the field during this incursion, he could then

fearlessly ravage the plain in future invasions, and extend his advance

up to the very walls of Athens. After the Acharnians had lost their

own property they would be less willing to risk themselves for that

of their neighbours; and so there would be division in the Athenian

counsels. These were the motives of Archidamus for remaining at Acharnae.


In the meanwhile, as long as the army was at Eleusis and the Thriasian

plain, hopes were still entertained of its not advancing any nearer.

It was remembered that Pleistoanax, son of Pausanias, king of Lacedaemon,

had invaded Attica with a Peloponnesian army fourteen years before,

but had retreated without advancing farther than Eleusis and Thria,

which indeed proved the cause of his exile from Sparta, as it was

thought he had been bribed to retreat. But when they saw the army

at Acharnae, barely seven miles from Athens, they lost all patience.

The territory of Athens was being ravaged before the very eyes of

the Athenians, a sight which the young men had never seen before and

the old only in the Median wars; and it was naturally thought a grievous

insult, and the determination was universal, especially among the

young men, to sally forth and stop it. Knots were formed in the streets

and engaged in hot discussion; for if the proposed sally was warmly

recommended, it was also in some cases opposed. Oracles of the most

various import were recited by the collectors, and found eager listeners

in one or other of the disputants. Foremost in pressing for the sally

were the Acharnians, as constituting no small part of the army of

the state, and as it was their land that was being ravaged. In short,

the whole city was in a most excited state; Pericles was the object

of general indignation; his previous counsels were totally forgotten;

he was abused for not leading out the army which he commanded, and

was made responsible for the whole of the public suffering.


He, meanwhile, seeing anger and infatuation just now in the ascendant,

and of his wisdom in refusing a sally, would not call either assembly

or meeting of the people, fearing the fatal results of a debate inspired

by passion and not by prudence. Accordingly he addressed himself to

the defence of the city, and kept it as quiet as possible, though

he constantly sent out cavalry to prevent raids on the lands near

the city from flying parties of the enemy. There was a trifling affair

at Phrygia between a squadron of the Athenian horse with the Thessalians

and the Boeotian cavalry; in which the former had rather the best

of it, until the heavy infantry advanced to the support of the Boeotians,

when the Thessalians and Athenians were routed and lost a few men,

whose bodies, however, were recovered the same day without a truce.

The next day the Peloponnesians set up a trophy. Ancient alliance

brought the Thessalians to the aid of Athens; those who came being

the Larisaeans, Pharsalians, Cranonians, Pyrasians, Gyrtonians, and

Pheraeans. The Larisaean commanders were Polymedes and Aristonus,

two party leaders in Larisa; the Pharsalian general was Menon; each

of the other cities had also its own commander.


In the meantime the Peloponnesians, as the Athenians did not come

out to engage them, broke up from Acharnae and ravaged some of the

demes between Mount Parnes and Brilessus. While they were in Attica

the Athenians sent off the hundred ships which they had been preparing

round Peloponnese, with a thousand heavy infantry and four hundred

archers on board, under the command of Carcinus, son of Xenotimus,

Proteas, son of Epicles, and Socrates, son of Antigenes. This armament

weighed anchor and started on its cruise, and the Peloponnesians,

after remaining in Attica as long as their provisions lasted, retired

through Boeotia by a different road to that by which they had entered.

As they passed Oropus they ravaged the territory of Graea, which is

held by the Oropians from Athens, and reaching Peloponnese broke up

to their respective cities.


After they had retired the Athenians set guards by land and sea at

the points at which they intended to have regular stations during

the war. They also resolved to set apart a special fund of a thousand

talents from the moneys in the Acropolis. This was not to be spent,

but the current expenses of the war were to be otherwise provided

for. If any one should move or put to the vote a proposition for using

the money for any purpose whatever except that of defending the city

in the event of the enemy bringing a fleet to make an attack by sea,

it should be a capital offence. With this sum of money they also set

aside a special fleet of one hundred galleys, the best ships of each

year, with their captains. None of these were to be used except with

the money and against the same peril, should such peril arise.


Meanwhile the Athenians in the hundred ships round Peloponnese, reinforced

by a Corcyraean squadron of fifty vessels and some others of the allies

in those parts, cruised about the coasts and ravaged the country.

Among other places they landed in Laconia and made an assault upon

Methone; there being no garrison in the place, and the wall being

weak. But it so happened that Brasidas, son of Tellis, a Spartan,

was in command of a guard for the defence of the district. Hearing

of the attack, he hurried with a hundred heavy infantry to the assistance

of the besieged, and dashing through the army of the Athenians, which

was scattered over the country and had its attention turned to the

wall, threw himself into Methone. He lost a few men in making good

his entrance, but saved the place and won the thanks of Sparta by

his exploit, being thus the first officer who obtained this notice

during the war. The Athenians at once weighed anchor and continued

their cruise. Touching at Pheia in Elis, they ravaged the country

for two days and defeated a picked force of three hundred men that

had come from the vale of Elis and the immediate neighbourhood to

the rescue. But a stiff squall came down upon them, and, not liking

to face it in a place where there was no harbour, most of them got

on board their ships, and doubling Point Ichthys sailed into the port

of Pheia. In the meantime the Messenians, and some others who could

not get on board, marched over by land and took Pheia. The fleet afterwards

sailed round and picked them up and then put to sea; Pheia being evacuated,

as the main army of the Eleans had now come up. The Athenians continued

their cruise, and ravaged other places on the coast.


About the same time the Athenians sent thirty ships to cruise round

Locris and also to guard Euboea; Cleopompus, son of Clinias, being

in command. Making descents from the fleet he ravaged certain places

on the sea-coast, and captured Thronium and took hostages from it.

He also defeated at Alope the Locrians that had assembled to resist



During the summer the Athenians also expelled the Aeginetans with

their wives and children from Aegina, on the ground of their having

been the chief agents in bringing the war upon them. Besides, Aegina

lies so near Peloponnese that it seemed safer to send colonists of

their own to hold it, and shortly afterwards the settlers were sent

out. The banished Aeginetans found an asylum in Thyrea, which was

given to them by Lacedaemon, not only on account of her quarrel with

Athens, but also because the Aeginetans had laid her under obligations

at the time of the earthquake and the revolt of the Helots. The territory

of Thyrea is on the frontier of Argolis and Laconia, reaching down

to the sea. Those of the Aeginetans who did not settle here were scattered

over the rest of Hellas.


The same summer, at the beginning of a new lunar month, the only time

by the way at which it appears possible, the sun was eclipsed after

noon. After it had assumed the form of a crescent and some of the

stars had come out, it returned to its natural shape.


During the same summer Nymphodorus, son of Pythes, an Abderite, whose

sister Sitalces had married, was made their proxenus by the Athenians

and sent for to Athens. They had hitherto considered him their enemy;

but he had great influence with Sitalces, and they wished this prince

to become their ally. Sitalces was the son of Teres and King of the

Thracians. Teres, the father of Sitalces, was the first to establish

the great kingdom of the Odrysians on a scale quite unknown to the

rest of Thrace, a large portion of the Thracians being independent.

This Teres is in no way related to Tereus who married Pandion’s daughter

Procne from Athens; nor indeed did they belong to the same part of

Thrace. Tereus lived in Daulis, part of what is now called Phocis,

but which at that time was inhabited by Thracians. It was in this

land that the women perpetrated the outrage upon Itys; and many of

the poets when they mention the nightingale call it the Daulian bird.

Besides, Pandion in contracting an alliance for his daughter would

consider the advantages of mutual assistance, and would naturally

prefer a match at the above moderate distance to the journey of many

days which separates Athens from the Odrysians. Again the names are

different; and this Teres was king of the Odrysians, the first by

the way who attained to any power. Sitalces, his son, was now sought

as an ally by the Athenians, who desired his aid in the reduction

of the Thracian towns and of Perdiccas. Coming to Athens, Nymphodorus

concluded the alliance with Sitalces and made his son Sadocus an Athenian

citizen, and promised to finish the war in Thrace by persuading Sitalces

to send the Athenians a force of Thracian horse and targeteers. He

also reconciled them with Perdiccas, and induced them to restore Therme

to him; upon which Perdiccas at once joined the Athenians and Phormio

in an expedition against the Chalcidians. Thus Sitalces, son of Teres,

King of the Thracians, and Perdiccas, son of Alexander, King of the

Macedonians, became allies of Athens.


Meanwhile the Athenians in the hundred vessels were still cruising

round Peloponnese. After taking Sollium, a town belonging to Corinth,

and presenting the city and territory to the Acarnanians of Palaira,

they stormed Astacus, expelled its tyrant Evarchus, and gained the

place for their confederacy. Next they sailed to the island of Cephallenia

and brought it over without using force. Cephallenia lies off Acarnania

and Leucas, and consists of four states, the Paleans, Cranians, Samaeans,

and Pronaeans. Not long afterwards the fleet returned to Athens. Towards

the autumn of this year the Athenians invaded the Megarid with their

whole levy, resident aliens included, under the command of Pericles,

son of Xanthippus. The Athenians in the hundred ships round Peloponnese

on their journey home had just reached Aegina, and hearing that the

citizens at home were in full force at Megara, now sailed over and

joined them. This was without doubt the largest army of Athenians

ever assembled, the state being still in the flower of her strength

and yet unvisited by the plague. Full ten thousand heavy infantry

were in the field, all Athenian citizens, besides the three thousand

before Potidaea. Then the resident aliens who joined in the incursion

were at least three thousand strong; besides which there was a multitude

of light troops. They ravaged the greater part of the territory, and

then retired. Other incursions into the Megarid were afterwards made

by the Athenians annually during the war, sometimes only with cavalry,

sometimes with all their forces. This went on until the capture of

Nisaea. Atalanta also, the desert island off the Opuntian coast, was

towards the end of this summer converted into a fortified post by

the Athenians, in order to prevent privateers issuing from Opus and

the rest of Locris and plundering Euboea. Such were the events of

this summer after the return of the Peloponnesians from Attica.


In the ensuing winter the Acarnanian Evarchus, wishing to return to

Astacus, persuaded the Corinthians to sail over with forty ships and

fifteen hundred heavy infantry and restore him; himself also hiring

some mercenaries. In command of the force were Euphamidas, son of

Aristonymus, Timoxenus, son of Timocrates, and Eumachus, son of Chrysis,

who sailed over and restored him and, after failing in an attempt

on some places on the Acarnanian coast which they were desirous of

gaining, began their voyage home. Coasting along shore they touched

at Cephallenia and made a descent on the Cranian territory, and losing

some men by the treachery of the Cranians, who fell suddenly upon

them after having agreed to treat, put to sea somewhat hurriedly and

returned home.


In the same winter the Athenians gave a funeral at the public cost

to those who had first fallen in this war. It was a custom of their

ancestors, and the manner of it is as follows. Three days before the

ceremony, the bones of the dead are laid out in a tent which has been

erected; and their friends bring to their relatives such offerings

as they please. In the funeral procession cypress coffins are borne

in cars, one for each tribe; the bones of the deceased being placed

in the coffin of their tribe. Among these is carried one empty bier

decked for the missing, that is, for those whose bodies could not

be recovered. Any citizen or stranger who pleases, joins in the procession:

and the female relatives are there to wail at the burial. The dead

are laid in the public sepulchre in the Beautiful suburb of the city,

in which those who fall in war are always buried; with the exception

of those slain at Marathon, who for their singular and extraordinary

valour were interred on the spot where they fell. After the bodies

have been laid in the earth, a man chosen by the state, of approved

wisdom and eminent reputation, pronounces over them an appropriate

panegyric; after which all retire. Such is the manner of the burying;

and throughout the whole of the war, whenever the occasion arose,

the established custom was observed. Meanwhile these were the first

that had fallen, and Pericles, son of Xanthippus, was chosen to pronounce

their eulogium. When the proper time arrived, he advanced from the

sepulchre to an elevated platform in order to be heard by as many

of the crowd as possible, and spoke as follows:


“Most of my predecessors in this place have commended him who made

this speech part of the law, telling us that it is well that it should

be delivered at the burial of those who fall in battle. For myself,

I should have thought that the worth which had displayed itself in

deeds would be sufficiently rewarded by honours also shown by deeds;

such as you now see in this funeral prepared at the people’s cost.

And I could have wished that the reputations of many brave men were

not to be imperilled in the mouth of a single individual, to stand

or fall according as he spoke well or ill. For it is hard to speak

properly upon a subject where it is even difficult to convince your

hearers that you are speaking the truth. On the one hand, the friend

who is familiar with every fact of the story may think that some point

has not been set forth with that fullness which he wishes and knows

it to deserve; on the other, he who is a stranger to the matter may

be led by envy to suspect exaggeration if he hears anything above

his own nature. For men can endure to hear others praised only so

long as they can severally persuade themselves of their own ability

to equal the actions recounted: when this point is passed, envy comes

in and with it incredulity. However, since our ancestors have stamped

this custom with their approval, it becomes my duty to obey the law

and to try to satisfy your several wishes and opinions as best I may.


“I shall begin with our ancestors: it is both just and proper that

they should have the honour of the first mention on an occasion like

the present. They dwelt in the country without break in the succession

from generation to generation, and handed it down free to the present

time by their valour. And if our more remote ancestors deserve praise,

much more do our own fathers, who added to their inheritance the empire

which we now possess, and spared no pains to be able to leave their

acquisitions to us of the present generation. Lastly, there are few

parts of our dominions that have not been augmented by those of us

here, who are still more or less in the vigour of life; while the

mother country has been furnished by us with everything that can enable

her to depend on her own resources whether for war or for peace. That

part of our history which tells of the military achievements which

gave us our several possessions, or of the ready valour with which

either we or our fathers stemmed the tide of Hellenic or foreign aggression,

is a theme too familiar to my hearers for me to dilate on, and I shall

therefore pass it by. But what was the road by which we reached our

position, what the form of government under which our greatness grew,

what the national habits out of which it sprang; these are questions

which I may try to solve before I proceed to my panegyric upon these

men; since I think this to be a subject upon which on the present

occasion a speaker may properly dwell, and to which the whole assemblage,

whether citizens or foreigners, may listen with advantage.


“Our constitution does not copy the laws of neighbouring states; we

are rather a pattern to others than imitators ourselves. Its administration

favours the many instead of the few; this is why it is called a democracy.

If we look to the laws, they afford equal justice to all in their

private differences; if no social standing, advancement in public

life falls to reputation for capacity, class considerations not being

allowed to interfere with merit; nor again does poverty bar the way,

if a man is able to serve the state, he is not hindered by the obscurity

of his condition. The freedom which we enjoy in our government extends

also to our ordinary life. There, far from exercising a jealous surveillance

over each other, we do not feel called upon to be angry with our neighbour

for doing what he likes, or even to indulge in those injurious looks

which cannot fail to be offensive, although they inflict no positive

penalty. But all this ease in our private relations does not make

us lawless as citizens. Against this fear is our chief safeguard,

teaching us to obey the magistrates and the laws, particularly such

as regard the protection of the injured, whether they are actually

on the statute book, or belong to that code which, although unwritten,

yet cannot be broken without acknowledged disgrace.


“Further, we provide plenty of means for the mind to refresh itself

from business. We celebrate games and sacrifices all the year round,

and the elegance of our private establishments forms a daily source

of pleasure and helps to banish the spleen; while the magnitude of

our city draws the produce of the world into our harbour, so that

to the Athenian the fruits of other countries are as familiar a luxury

as those of his own.


“If we turn to our military policy, there also we differ from our

antagonists. We throw open our city to the world, and never by alien

acts exclude foreigners from any opportunity of learning or observing,

although the eyes of an enemy may occasionally profit by our liberality;

trusting less in system and policy than to the native spirit of our

citizens; while in education, where our rivals from their very cradles

by a painful discipline seek after manliness, at Athens we live exactly

as we please, and yet are just as ready to encounter every legitimate

danger. In proof of this it may be noticed that the Lacedaemonians

do not invade our country alone, but bring with them all their confederates;

while we Athenians advance unsupported into the territory of a neighbour,

and fighting upon a foreign soil usually vanquish with ease men who

are defending their homes. Our united force was never yet encountered

by any enemy, because we have at once to attend to our marine and

to dispatch our citizens by land upon a hundred different services;

so that, wherever they engage with some such fraction of our strength,

a success against a detachment is magnified into a victory over the

nation, and a defeat into a reverse suffered at the hands of our entire

people. And yet if with habits not of labour but of ease, and courage

not of art but of nature, we are still willing to encounter danger,

we have the double advantage of escaping the experience of hardships

in anticipation and of facing them in the hour of need as fearlessly

as those who are never free from them.


“Nor are these the only points in which our city is worthy of admiration.

We cultivate refinement without extravagance and knowledge without

effeminacy; wealth we employ more for use than for show, and place

the real disgrace of poverty not in owning to the fact but in declining

the struggle against it. Our public men have, besides politics, their

private affairs to attend to, and our ordinary citizens, though occupied

with the pursuits of industry, are still fair judges of public matters;

for, unlike any other nation, regarding him who takes no part in these

duties not as unambitious but as useless, we Athenians are able to

judge at all events if we cannot originate, and, instead of looking

on discussion as a stumbling-block in the way of action, we think

it an indispensable preliminary to any wise action at all. Again,

in our enterprises we present the singular spectacle of daring and

deliberation, each carried to its highest point, and both united in

the same persons; although usually decision is the fruit of ignorance,

hesitation of reflection. But the palm of courage will surely be adjudged

most justly to those, who best know the difference between hardship

and pleasure and yet are never tempted to shrink from danger. In generosity

we are equally singular, acquiring our friends by conferring, not

by receiving, favours. Yet, of course, the doer of the favour is the

firmer friend of the two, in order by continued kindness to keep the

recipient in his debt; while the debtor feels less keenly from the

very consciousness that the return he makes will be a payment, not

a free gift. And it is only the Athenians, who, fearless of consequences,

confer their benefits not from calculations of expediency, but in

the confidence of liberality.


“In short, I say that as a city we are the school of Hellas, while

I doubt if the world can produce a man who, where he has only himself

to depend upon, is equal to so many emergencies, and graced by so

happy a versatility, as the Athenian. And that this is no mere boast

thrown out for the occasion, but plain matter of fact, the power of

the state acquired by these habits proves. For Athens alone of her

contemporaries is found when tested to be greater than her reputation,

and alone gives no occasion to her assailants to blush at the antagonist

by whom they have been worsted, or to her subjects to question her

title by merit to rule. Rather, the admiration of the present and

succeeding ages will be ours, since we have not left our power without

witness, but have shown it by mighty proofs; and far from needing

a Homer for our panegyrist, or other of his craft whose verses might

charm for the moment only for the impression which they gave to melt

at the touch of fact, we have forced every sea and land to be the

highway of our daring, and everywhere, whether for evil or for good,

have left imperishable monuments behind us. Such is the Athens for

which these men, in the assertion of their resolve not to lose her,

nobly fought and died; and well may every one of their survivors be

ready to suffer in her cause.


“Indeed if I have dwelt at some length upon the character of our country,

it has been to show that our stake in the struggle is not the same

as theirs who have no such blessings to lose, and also that the panegyric

of the men over whom I am now speaking might be by definite proofs

established. That panegyric is now in a great measure complete; for

the Athens that I have celebrated is only what the heroism of these

and their like have made her, men whose fame, unlike that of most

Hellenes, will be found to be only commensurate with their deserts.

And if a test of worth be wanted, it is to be found in their closing

scene, and this not only in cases in which it set the final seal upon

their merit, but also in those in which it gave the first intimation

of their having any. For there is justice in the claim that steadfastness

in his country’s battles should be as a cloak to cover a man’s other

imperfections; since the good action has blotted out the bad, and

his merit as a citizen more than outweighed his demerits as an individual.

But none of these allowed either wealth with its prospect of future

enjoyment to unnerve his spirit, or poverty with its hope of a day

of freedom and riches to tempt him to shrink from danger. No, holding

that vengeance upon their enemies was more to be desired than any

personal blessings, and reckoning this to be the most glorious of

hazards, they joyfully determined to accept the risk, to make sure

of their vengeance, and to let their wishes wait; and while committing

to hope the uncertainty of final success, in the business before them

they thought fit to act boldly and trust in themselves. Thus choosing

to die resisting, rather than to live submitting, they fled only from

dishonour, but met danger face to face, and after one brief moment,

while at the summit of their fortune, escaped, not from their fear,

but from their glory.


“So died these men as became Athenians. You, their survivors, must

determine to have as unfaltering a resolution in the field, though

you may pray that it may have a happier issue. And not contented with

ideas derived only from words of the advantages which are bound up

with the defence of your country, though these would furnish a valuable

text to a speaker even before an audience so alive to them as the

present, you must yourselves realize the power of Athens, and feed

your eyes upon her from day to day, till love of her fills your hearts;

and then, when all her greatness shall break upon you, you must reflect

that it was by courage, sense of duty, and a keen feeling of honour

in action that men were enabled to win all this, and that no personal

failure in an enterprise could make them consent to deprive their

country of their valour, but they laid it at her feet as the most

glorious contribution that they could offer. For this offering of

their lives made in common by them all they each of them individually

received that renown which never grows old, and for a sepulchre, not

so much that in which their bones have been deposited, but that noblest

of shrines wherein their glory is laid up to be eternally remembered

upon every occasion on which deed or story shall call for its commemoration.

For heroes have the whole earth for their tomb; and in lands far from

their own, where the column with its epitaph declares it, there is

enshrined in every breast a record unwritten with no tablet to preserve

it, except that of the heart. These take as your model and, judging

happiness to be the fruit of freedom and freedom of valour, never

decline the dangers of war. For it is not the miserable that would

most justly be unsparing of their lives; these have nothing to hope

for: it is rather they to whom continued life may bring reverses as

yet unknown, and to whom a fall, if it came, would be most tremendous

in its consequences. And surely, to a man of spirit, the degradation

of cowardice must be immeasurably more grievous than the unfelt death

which strikes him in the midst of his strength and patriotism!


“Comfort, therefore, not condolence, is what I have to offer to the

parents of the dead who may be here. Numberless are the chances to

which, as they know, the life of man is subject; but fortunate indeed

are they who draw for their lot a death so glorious as that which

has caused your mourning, and to whom life has been so exactly measured

as to terminate in the happiness in which it has been passed. Still

I know that this is a hard saying, especially when those are in question

of whom you will constantly be reminded by seeing in the homes of

others blessings of which once you also boasted: for grief is felt

not so much for the want of what we have never known, as for the loss

of that to which we have been long accustomed. Yet you who are still

of an age to beget children must bear up in the hope of having others

in their stead; not only will they help you to forget those whom you

have lost, but will be to the state at once a reinforcement and a

security; for never can a fair or just policy be expected of the citizen

who does not, like his fellows, bring to the decision the interests

and apprehensions of a father. While those of you who have passed

your prime must congratulate yourselves with the thought that the

best part of your life was fortunate, and that the brief span that

remains will be cheered by the fame of the departed. For it is only

the love of honour that never grows old; and honour it is, not gain,

as some would have it, that rejoices the heart of age and helplessness.


“Turning to the sons or brothers of the dead, I see an arduous struggle

before you. When a man is gone, all are wont to praise him, and should

your merit be ever so transcendent, you will still find it difficult

not merely to overtake, but even to approach their renown. The living

have envy to contend with, while those who are no longer in our path

are honoured with a goodwill into which rivalry does not enter. On

the other hand, if I must say anything on the subject of female excellence

to those of you who will now be in widowhood, it will be all comprised

in this brief exhortation. Great will be your glory in not falling

short of your natural character; and greatest will be hers who is

least talked of among the men, whether for good or for bad.


“My task is now finished. I have performed it to the best of my ability,

and in word, at least, the requirements of the law are now satisfied.

If deeds be in question, those who are here interred have received

part of their honours already, and for the rest, their children will

be brought up till manhood at the public expense: the state thus offers

a valuable prize, as the garland of victory in this race of valour,

for the reward both of those who have fallen and their survivors.

And where the rewards for merit are greatest, there are found the

best citizens.


“And now that you have brought to a close your lamentations for your

relatives, you may depart.”


Chapter VII


Second Year of the War – The Plague of Athens – Position and Policy

of Pericles – Fall of Potidaea


Such was the funeral that took place during this winter, with which

the first year of the war came to an end. In the first days of summer

the Lacedaemonians and their allies, with two-thirds of their forces

as before, invaded Attica, under the command of Archidamus, son of

Zeuxidamus, King of Lacedaemon, and sat down and laid waste the country.

Not many days after their arrival in Attica the plague first began

to show itself among the Athenians. It was said that it had broken

out in many places previously in the neighbourhood of Lemnos and elsewhere;

but a pestilence of such extent and mortality was nowhere remembered.

Neither were the physicians at first of any service, ignorant as they

were of the proper way to treat it, but they died themselves the most

thickly, as they visited the sick most often; nor did any human art

succeed any better. Supplications in the temples, divinations, and

so forth were found equally futile, till the overwhelming nature of

the disaster at last put a stop to them altogether.


It first began, it is said, in the parts of Ethiopia above Egypt,

and thence descended into Egypt and Libya and into most of the King’s

country. Suddenly falling upon Athens, it first attacked the population

in Piraeus- which was the occasion of their saying that the Peloponnesians

had poisoned the reservoirs, there being as yet no wells there- and

afterwards appeared in the upper city, when the deaths became much

more frequent. All speculation as to its origin and its causes, if

causes can be found adequate to produce so great a disturbance, I

leave to other writers, whether lay or professional; for myself, I

shall simply set down its nature, and explain the symptoms by which

perhaps it may be recognized by the student, if it should ever break

out again. This I can the better do, as I had the disease myself,

and watched its operation in the case of others.


That year then is admitted to have been otherwise unprecedentedly

free from sickness; and such few cases as occurred all determined

in this. As a rule, however, there was no ostensible cause; but people

in good health were all of a sudden attacked by violent heats in the

head, and redness and inflammation in the eyes, the inward parts,

such as the throat or tongue, becoming bloody and emitting an unnatural

and fetid breath. These symptoms were followed by sneezing and hoarseness,

after which the pain soon reached the chest, and produced a hard cough.

When it fixed in the stomach, it upset it; and discharges of bile

of every kind named by physicians ensued, accompanied by very great

distress. In most cases also an ineffectual retching followed, producing

violent spasms, which in some cases ceased soon after, in others much

later. Externally the body was not very hot to the touch, nor pale

in its appearance, but reddish, livid, and breaking out into small

pustules and ulcers. But internally it burned so that the patient

could not bear to have on him clothing or linen even of the very lightest

description; or indeed to be otherwise than stark naked. What they

would have liked best would have been to throw themselves into cold

water; as indeed was done by some of the neglected sick, who plunged

into the rain-tanks in their agonies of unquenchable thirst; though

it made no difference whether they drank little or much. Besides this,

the miserable feeling of not being able to rest or sleep never ceased

to torment them. The body meanwhile did not waste away so long as

the distemper was at its height, but held out to a marvel against

its ravages; so that when they succumbed, as in most cases, on the

seventh or eighth day to the internal inflammation, they had still

some strength in them. But if they passed this stage, and the disease

descended further into the bowels, inducing a violent ulceration there

accompanied by severe diarrhoea, this brought on a weakness which

was generally fatal. For the disorder first settled in the head, ran

its course from thence through the whole of the body, and, even where

it did not prove mortal, it still left its mark on the extremities;

for it settled in the privy parts, the fingers and the toes, and many

escaped with the loss of these, some too with that of their eyes.

Others again were seized with an entire loss of memory on their first

recovery, and did not know either themselves or their friends.


But while the nature of the distemper was such as to baffle all description,

and its attacks almost too grievous for human nature to endure, it

was still in the following circumstance that its difference from all

ordinary disorders was most clearly shown. All the birds and beasts

that prey upon human bodies, either abstained from touching them (though

there were many lying unburied), or died after tasting them. In proof

of this, it was noticed that birds of this kind actually disappeared;

they were not about the bodies, or indeed to be seen at all. But of

course the effects which I have mentioned could best be studied in

a domestic animal like the dog.


Such then, if we pass over the varieties of particular cases which

were many and peculiar, were the general features of the distemper.

Meanwhile the town enjoyed an immunity from all the ordinary disorders;

or if any case occurred, it ended in this. Some died in neglect, others

in the midst of every attention. No remedy was found that could be

used as a specific; for what did good in one case, did harm in another.

Strong and weak constitutions proved equally incapable of resistance,

all alike being swept away, although dieted with the utmost precaution.

By far the most terrible feature in the malady was the dejection which

ensued when any one felt himself sickening, for the despair into which

they instantly fell took away their power of resistance, and left

them a much easier prey to the disorder; besides which, there was

the awful spectacle of men dying like sheep, through having caught

the infection in nursing each other. This caused the greatest mortality.

On the one hand, if they were afraid to visit each other, they perished

from neglect; indeed many houses were emptied of their inmates for

want of a nurse: on the other, if they ventured to do so, death was

the consequence. This was especially the case with such as made any

pretensions to goodness: honour made them unsparing of themselves

in their attendance in their friends’ houses, where even the members

of the family were at last worn out by the moans of the dying, and

succumbed to the force of the disaster. Yet it was with those who

had recovered from the disease that the sick and the dying found most

compassion. These knew what it was from experience, and had now no

fear for themselves; for the same man was never attacked twice- never

at least fatally. And such persons not only received the congratulations

of others, but themselves also, in the elation of the moment, half

entertained the vain hope that they were for the future safe from

any disease whatsoever.


An aggravation of the existing calamity was the influx from the country

into the city, and this was especially felt by the new arrivals. As

there were no houses to receive them, they had to be lodged at the

hot season of the year in stifling cabins, where the mortality raged

without restraint. The bodies of dying men lay one upon another, and

half-dead creatures reeled about the streets and gathered round all

the fountains in their longing for water. The sacred places also in

which they had quartered themselves were full of corpses of persons

that had died there, just as they were; for as the disaster passed

all bounds, men, not knowing what was to become of them, became utterly

careless of everything, whether sacred or profane. All the burial

rites before in use were entirely upset, and they buried the bodies

as best they could. Many from want of the proper appliances, through

so many of their friends having died already, had recourse to the

most shameless sepultures: sometimes getting the start of those who

had raised a pile, they threw their own dead body upon the stranger’s

pyre and ignited it; sometimes they tossed the corpse which they were

carrying on the top of another that was burning, and so went off.


Nor was this the only form of lawless extravagance which owed its

origin to the plague. Men now coolly ventured on what they had formerly

done in a corner, and not just as they pleased, seeing the rapid transitions

produced by persons in prosperity suddenly dying and those who before

had nothing succeeding to their property. So they resolved to spend

quickly and enjoy themselves, regarding their lives and riches as

alike things of a day. Perseverance in what men called honour was

popular with none, it was so uncertain whether they would be spared

to attain the object; but it was settled that present enjoyment, and

all that contributed to it, was both honourable and useful. Fear of

gods or law of man there was none to restrain them. As for the first,

they judged it to be just the same whether they worshipped them or

not, as they saw all alike perishing; and for the last, no one expected

to live to be brought to trial for his offences, but each felt that

a far severer sentence had been already passed upon them all and hung

ever over their heads, and before this fell it was only reasonable

to enjoy life a little.


Such was the nature of the calamity, and heavily did it weigh on the

Athenians; death raging within the city and devastation without. Among

other things which they remembered in their distress was, very naturally,

the following verse which the old men said had long ago been uttered:


A Dorian war shall come and with it death. So a dispute arose as to

whether dearth and not death had not been the word in the verse; but

at the present juncture, it was of course decided in favour of the

latter; for the people made their recollection fit in with their sufferings.

I fancy, however, that if another Dorian war should ever afterwards

come upon us, and a dearth should happen to accompany it, the verse

will probably be read accordingly. The oracle also which had been

given to the Lacedaemonians was now remembered by those who knew of

it. When the god was asked whether they should go to war, he answered

that if they put their might into it, victory would be theirs, and

that he would himself be with them. With this oracle events were supposed

to tally. For the plague broke out as soon as the Peloponnesians invaded

Attica, and never entering Peloponnese (not at least to an extent

worth noticing), committed its worst ravages at Athens, and next to

Athens, at the most populous of the other towns. Such was the history

of the plague.


After ravaging the plain, the Peloponnesians advanced into the Paralian

region as far as Laurium, where the Athenian silver mines are, and

first laid waste the side looking towards Peloponnese, next that which

faces Euboea and Andros. But Pericles, who was still general, held

the same opinion as in the former invasion, and would not let the

Athenians march out against them.


However, while they were still in the plain, and had not yet entered

the Paralian land, he had prepared an armament of a hundred ships

for Peloponnese, and when all was ready put out to sea. On board the

ships he took four thousand Athenian heavy infantry, and three hundred

cavalry in horse transports, and then for the first time made out

of old galleys; fifty Chian and Lesbian vessels also joining in the

expedition. When this Athenian armament put out to sea, they left

the Peloponnesians in Attica in the Paralian region. Arriving at Epidaurus

in Peloponnese they ravaged most of the territory, and even had hopes

of taking the town by an assault: in this however they were not successful.

Putting out from Epidaurus, they laid waste the territory of Troezen,

Halieis, and Hermione, all towns on the coast of Peloponnese, and

thence sailing to Prasiai, a maritime town in Laconia, ravaged part

of its territory, and took and sacked the place itself; after which

they returned home, but found the Peloponnesians gone and no longer

in Attica.


During the whole time that the Peloponnesians were in Attica and the

Athenians on the expedition in their ships, men kept dying of the

plague both in the armament and in Athens. Indeed it was actually

asserted that the departure of the Peloponnesians was hastened by

fear of the disorder; as they heard from deserters that it was in

the city, and also could see the burials going on. Yet in this invasion

they remained longer than in any other, and ravaged the whole country,

for they were about forty days in Attica.


The same summer Hagnon, son of Nicias, and Cleopompus, son of Clinias,

the colleagues of Pericles, took the armament of which he had lately

made use, and went off upon an expedition against the Chalcidians

in the direction of Thrace and Potidaea, which was still under siege.

As soon as they arrived, they brought up their engines against Potidaea

and tried every means of taking it, but did not succeed either in

capturing the city or in doing anything else worthy of their preparations.

For the plague attacked them here also, and committed such havoc as

to cripple them completely, even the previously healthy soldiers of

the former expedition catching the infection from Hagnon’s troops;

while Phormio and the sixteen hundred men whom he commanded only escaped

by being no longer in the neighbourhood of the Chalcidians. The end

of it was that Hagnon returned with his ships to Athens, having lost

one thousand and fifty out of four thousand heavy infantry in about

forty days; though the soldiers stationed there before remained in

the country and carried on the siege of Potidaea.


After the second invasion of the Peloponnesians a change came over

the spirit of the Athenians. Their land had now been twice laid waste;

and war and pestilence at once pressed heavy upon them. They began

to find fault with Pericles, as the author of the war and the cause

of all their misfortunes, and became eager to come to terms with Lacedaemon,

and actually sent ambassadors thither, who did not however succeed

in their mission. Their despair was now complete and all vented itself

upon Pericles. When he saw them exasperated at the present turn of

affairs and acting exactly as he had anticipated, he called an assembly,

being (it must be remembered) still general, with the double object

of restoring confidence and of leading them from these angry feelings

to a calmer and more hopeful state of mind. He accordingly came forward

and spoke as follows:


“I was not unprepared for the indignation of which I have been the

object, as I know its causes; and I have called an assembly for the

purpose of reminding you upon certain points, and of protesting against

your being unreasonably irritated with me, or cowed by your sufferings.

I am of opinion that national greatness is more for the advantage

of private citizens, than any individual well-being coupled with public

humiliation. A man may be personally ever so well off, and yet if

his country be ruined he must be ruined with it; whereas a flourishing

commonwealth always affords chances of salvation to unfortunate individuals.

Since then a state can support the misfortunes of private citizens,

while they cannot support hers, it is surely the duty of every one

to be forward in her defence, and not like you to be so confounded

with your domestic afflictions as to give up all thoughts of the common

safety, and to blame me for having counselled war and yourselves for

having voted it. And yet if you are angry with me, it is with one

who, as I believe, is second to no man either in knowledge of the

proper policy, or in the ability to expound it, and who is moreover

not only a patriot but an honest one. A man possessing that knowledge

without that faculty of exposition might as well have no idea at all

on the matter: if he had both these gifts, but no love for his country,

he would be but a cold advocate for her interests; while were his

patriotism not proof against bribery, everything would go for a price.

So that if you thought that I was even moderately distinguished for

these qualities when you took my advice and went to war, there is

certainly no reason now why I should be charged with having done wrong.


“For those of course who have a free choice in the matter and whose

fortunes are not at stake, war is the greatest of follies. But if

the only choice was between submission with loss of independence,

and danger with the hope of preserving that independence, in such

a case it is he who will not accept the risk that deserves blame,

not he who will. I am the same man and do not alter, it is you who

change, since in fact you took my advice while unhurt, and waited

for misfortune to repent of it; and the apparent error of my policy

lies in the infirmity of your resolution, since the suffering that

it entails is being felt by every one among you, while its advantage

is still remote and obscure to all, and a great and sudden reverse

having befallen you, your mind is too much depressed to persevere

in your resolves. For before what is sudden, unexpected, and least

within calculation, the spirit quails; and putting all else aside,

the plague has certainly been an emergency of this kind. Born, however,

as you are, citizens of a great state, and brought up, as you have

been, with habits equal to your birth, you should be ready to face

the greatest disasters and still to keep unimpaired the lustre of

your name. For the judgment of mankind is as relentless to the weakness

that falls short of a recognized renown, as it is jealous of the arrogance

that aspires higher than its due. Cease then to grieve for your private

afflictions, and address yourselves instead to the safety of the commonwealth.


“If you shrink before the exertions which the war makes necessary,

and fear that after all they may not have a happy result, you know

the reasons by which I have often demonstrated to you the groundlessness

of your apprehensions. If those are not enough, I will now reveal

an advantage arising from the greatness of your dominion, which I

think has never yet suggested itself to you, which I never mentioned

in my previous speeches, and which has so bold a sound that I should

scarce adventure it now, were it not for the unnatural depression

which I see around me. You perhaps think that your empire extends

only over your allies; I will declare to you the truth. The visible

field of action has two parts, land and sea. In the whole of one of

these you are completely supreme, not merely as far as you use it

at present, but also to what further extent you may think fit: in

fine, your naval resources are such that your vessels may go where

they please, without the King or any other nation on earth being able

to stop them. So that although you may think it a great privation

to lose the use of your land and houses, still you must see that this

power is something widely different; and instead of fretting on their

account, you should really regard them in the light of the gardens

and other accessories that embellish a great fortune, and as, in comparison,

of little moment. You should know too that liberty preserved by your

efforts will easily recover for us what we have lost, while, the knee

once bowed, even what you have will pass from you. Your fathers receiving

these possessions not from others, but from themselves, did not let

slip what their labour had acquired, but delivered them safe to you;

and in this respect at least you must prove yourselves their equals,

remembering that to lose what one has got is more disgraceful than

to be balked in getting, and you must confront your enemies not merely

with spirit but with disdain. Confidence indeed a blissful ignorance

can impart, ay, even to a coward’s breast, but disdain is the privilege

of those who, like us, have been assured by reflection of their superiority

to their adversary. And where the chances are the same, knowledge

fortifies courage by the contempt which is its consequence, its trust

being placed, not in hope, which is the prop of the desperate, but

in a judgment grounded upon existing resources, whose anticipations

are more to be depended upon.


“Again, your country has a right to your services in sustaining the

glories of her position. These are a common source of pride to you

all, and you cannot decline the burdens of empire and still expect

to share its honours. You should remember also that what you are fighting

against is not merely slavery as an exchange for independence, but

also loss of empire and danger from the animosities incurred in its

exercise. Besides, to recede is no longer possible, if indeed any

of you in the alarm of the moment has become enamoured of the honesty

of such an unambitious part. For what you hold is, to speak somewhat

plainly, a tyranny; to take it perhaps was wrong, but to let it go

is unsafe. And men of these retiring views, making converts of others,

would quickly ruin a state; indeed the result would be the same if

they could live independent by themselves; for the retiring and unambitious

are never secure without vigorous protectors at their side; in fine,

such qualities are useless to an imperial city, though they may help

a dependency to an unmolested servitude.


“But you must not be seduced by citizens like these or angry with

me- who, if I voted for war, only did as you did yourselves- in spite

of the enemy having invaded your country and done what you could be

certain that he would do, if you refused to comply with his demands;

and although besides what we counted for, the plague has come upon

us- the only point indeed at which our calculation has been at fault.

It is this, I know, that has had a large share in making me more unpopular

than I should otherwise have been- quite undeservedly, unless you

are also prepared to give me the credit of any success with which

chance may present you. Besides, the hand of heaven must be borne

with resignation, that of the enemy with fortitude; this was the old

way at Athens, and do not you prevent it being so still. Remember,

too, that if your country has the greatest name in all the world,

it is because she never bent before disaster; because she has expended

more life and effort in war than any other city, and has won for herself

a power greater than any hitherto known, the memory of which will

descend to the latest posterity; even if now, in obedience to the

general law of decay, we should ever be forced to yield, still it

will be remembered that we held rule over more Hellenes than any other

Hellenic state, that we sustained the greatest wars against their

united or separate powers, and inhabited a city unrivalled by any

other in resources or magnitude. These glories may incur the censure

of the slow and unambitious; but in the breast of energy they will

awake emulation, and in those who must remain without them an envious

regret. Hatred and unpopularity at the moment have fallen to the lot

of all who have aspired to rule others; but where odium must be incurred,

true wisdom incurs it for the highest objects. Hatred also is short-lived;

but that which makes the splendour of the present and the glory of

the future remains for ever unforgotten. Make your decision, therefore,

for glory then and honour now, and attain both objects by instant

and zealous effort: do not send heralds to Lacedaemon, and do not

betray any sign of being oppressed by your present sufferings, since

they whose minds are least sensitive to calamity, and whose hands

are most quick to meet it, are the greatest men and the greatest communities.”


Such were the arguments by which Pericles tried to cure the Athenians

of their anger against him and to divert their thoughts from their

immediate afflictions. As a community he succeeded in convincing them;

they not only gave up all idea of sending to Lacedaemon, but applied

themselves with increased energy to the war; still as private individuals

they could not help smarting under their sufferings, the common people

having been deprived of the little that they were possessed, while

the higher orders had lost fine properties with costly establishments

and buildings in the country, and, worst of all, had war instead of

peace. In fact, the public feeling against him did not subside until

he had been fined. Not long afterwards, however, according to the

way of the multitude, they again elected him general and committed

all their affairs to his hands, having now become less sensitive to

their private and domestic afflictions, and understanding that he

was the best man of all for the public necessities. For as long as

he was at the head of the state during the peace, he pursued a moderate

and conservative policy; and in his time its greatness was at its

height. When the war broke out, here also he seems to have rightly

gauged the power of his country. He outlived its commencement two

years and six months, and the correctness of his previsions respecting

it became better known by his death. He told them to wait quietly,

to pay attention to their marine, to attempt no new conquests, and

to expose the city to no hazards during the war, and doing this, promised

them a favourable result. What they did was the very contrary, allowing

private ambitions and private interests, in matters apparently quite

foreign to the war, to lead them into projects unjust both to themselves

and to their allies- projects whose success would only conduce to

the honour and advantage of private persons, and whose failure entailed

certain disaster on the country in the war. The causes of this are

not far to seek. Pericles indeed, by his rank, ability, and known

integrity, was enabled to exercise an independent control over the

multitude- in short, to lead them instead of being led by them; for

as he never sought power by improper means, he was never compelled

to flatter them, but, on the contrary, enjoyed so high an estimation

that he could afford to anger them by contradiction. Whenever he saw

them unseasonably and insolently elated, he would with a word reduce

them to alarm; on the other hand, if they fell victims to a panic,

he could at once restore them to confidence. In short, what was nominally

a democracy became in his hands government by the first citizen. With

his successors it was different. More on a level with one another,

and each grasping at supremacy, they ended by committing even the

conduct of state affairs to the whims of the multitude. This, as might

have been expected in a great and sovereign state, produced a host

of blunders, and amongst them the Sicilian expedition; though this

failed not so much through a miscalculation of the power of those

against whom it was sent, as through a fault in the senders in not

taking the best measures afterwards to assist those who had gone out,

but choosing rather to occupy themselves with private cabals for the

leadership of the commons, by which they not only paralysed operations

in the field, but also first introduced civil discord at home. Yet

after losing most of their fleet besides other forces in Sicily, and

with faction already dominant in the city, they could still for three

years make head against their original adversaries, joined not only

by the Sicilians, but also by their own allies nearly all in revolt,

and at last by the King’s son, Cyrus, who furnished the funds for

the Peloponnesian navy. Nor did they finally succumb till they fell

the victims of their own intestine disorders. So superfluously abundant

were the resources from which the genius of Pericles foresaw an easy

triumph in the war over the unaided forces of the Peloponnesians.


During the same summer the Lacedaemonians and their allies made an

expedition with a hundred ships against Zacynthus, an island lying

off the coast of Elis, peopled by a colony of Achaeans from Peloponnese,

and in alliance with Athens. There were a thousand Lacedaemonian heavy

infantry on board, and Cnemus, a Spartan, as admiral. They made a

descent from their ships, and ravaged most of the country; but as

the inhabitants would not submit, they sailed back home.


At the end of the same summer the Corinthian Aristeus, Aneristus,

Nicolaus, and Stratodemus, envoys from Lacedaemon, Timagoras, a Tegean,

and a private individual named Pollis from Argos, on their way to

Asia to persuade the King to supply funds and join in the war, came

to Sitalces, son of Teres in Thrace, with the idea of inducing him,

if possible, to forsake the alliance of Athens and to march on Potidaea

then besieged by an Athenian force, and also of getting conveyed by

his means to their destination across the Hellespont to Pharnabazus,

who was to send them up the country to the King. But there chanced

to be with Sitalces some Athenian ambassadors- Learchus, son of Callimachus,

and Ameiniades, son of Philemon- who persuaded Sitalces’ son, Sadocus,

the new Athenian citizen, to put the men into their hands and thus

prevent their crossing over to the King and doing their part to injure

the country of his choice. He accordingly had them seized, as they

were travelling through Thrace to the vessel in which they were to

cross the Hellespont, by a party whom he had sent on with Learchus

and Ameiniades, and gave orders for their delivery to the Athenian

ambassadors, by whom they were brought to Athens. On their arrival,

the Athenians, afraid that Aristeus, who had been notably the prime

mover in the previous affairs of Potidaea and their Thracian possessions,

might live to do them still more mischief if he escaped, slew them

all the same day, without giving them a trial or hearing the defence

which they wished to offer, and cast their bodies into a pit; thinking

themselves justified in using in retaliation the same mode of warfare

which the Lacedaemonians had begun, when they slew and cast into pits

all the Athenian and allied traders whom they caught on board the

merchantmen round Peloponnese. Indeed, at the outset of the war, the

Lacedaemonians butchered as enemies all whom they took on the sea,

whether allies of Athens or neutrals.


About the same time towards the close of the summer, the Ambraciot

forces, with a number of barbarians that they had raised, marched

against the Amphilochian Argos and the rest of that country. The origin

of their enmity against the Argives was this. This Argos and the rest

of Amphilochia were colonized by Amphilochus, son of Amphiaraus. Dissatisfied

with the state of affairs at home on his return thither after the

Trojan War, he built this city in the Ambracian Gulf, and named it

Argos after his own country. This was the largest town in Amphilochia,

and its inhabitants the most powerful. Under the pressure of misfortune

many generations afterwards, they called in the Ambraciots, their

neighbours on the Amphilochian border, to join their colony; and it

was by this union with the Ambraciots that they learnt their present

Hellenic speech, the rest of the Amphilochians being barbarians. After

a time the Ambraciots expelled the Argives and held the city themselves.

Upon this the Amphilochians gave themselves over to the Acarnanians;

and the two together called the Athenians, who sent them Phormio as

general and thirty ships; upon whose arrival they took Argos by storm,

and made slaves of the Ambraciots; and the Amphilochians and Acarnanians

inhabited the town in common. After this began the alliance between

the Athenians and Acarnanians. The enmity of the Ambraciots against

the Argives thus commenced with the enslavement of their citizens;

and afterwards during the war they collected this armament among themselves

and the Chaonians, and other of the neighbouring barbarians. Arrived

before Argos, they became masters of the country; but not being successful

in their attacks upon the town, returned home and dispersed among

their different peoples.


Such were the events of the summer. The ensuing winter the Athenians

sent twenty ships round Peloponnese, under the command of Phormio,

who stationed himself at Naupactus and kept watch against any one

sailing in or out of Corinth and the Crissaean Gulf. Six others went

to Caria and Lycia under Melesander, to collect tribute in those parts,

and also to prevent the Peloponnesian privateers from taking up their

station in those waters and molesting the passage of the merchantmen

from Phaselis and Phoenicia and the adjoining continent. However,

Melesander, going up the country into Lycia with a force of Athenians

from the ships and the allies, was defeated and killed in battle,

with the loss of a number of his troops.


The same winter the Potidaeans at length found themselves no longer

able to hold out against their besiegers. The inroads of the Peloponnesians

into Attica had not had the desired effect of making the Athenians

raise the siege. Provisions there were none left; and so far had distress

for food gone in Potidaea that, besides a number of other horrors,

instances had even occurred of the people having eaten one another.

in this extremity they at last made proposals for capitulating to

the Athenian generals in command against them- Xenophon, son of Euripides,

Hestiodorus, son of Aristocleides, and Phanomachus, son of Callimachus.

The generals accepted their proposals, seeing the sufferings of the

army in so exposed a position; besides which the state had already

spent two thousand talents upon the siege. The terms of the capitulation

were as follows: a free passage out for themselves, their children,

wives and auxiliaries, with one garment apiece, the women with two,

and a fixed sum of money for their journey. Under this treaty they

went out to Chalcidice and other places, according as was their power.

The Athenians, however, blamed the generals for granting terms without

instructions from home, being of opinion that the place would have

had to surrender at discretion. They afterwards sent settlers of their

own to Potidaea, and colonized it. Such were the events of the winter,

and so ended the second year of this war of which Thucydides was the



Chapter VIII


Third Year of the War – Investment of Plataea – Naval Victories of

Phormio – Thracian Irruption into Macedonia under Sitalces


The next summer the Peloponnesians and their allies, instead of invading

Attica, marched against Plataea, under the command of Archidamus,

son of Zeuxidamus, king of the Lacedaemonians. He had encamped his

army and was about to lay waste the country, when the Plataeans hastened

to send envoys to him, and spoke as follows: “Archidamus and Lacedaemonians,

in invading the Plataean territory, you do what is wrong in itself,

and worthy neither of yourselves nor of the fathers who begot you.

Pausanias, son of Cleombrotus, your countryman, after freeing Hellas

from the Medes with the help of those Hellenes who were willing to

undertake the risk of the battle fought near our city, offered sacrifice

to Zeus the Liberator in the marketplace of Plataea, and calling all

the allies together restored to the Plataeans their city and territory,

and declared it independent and inviolate against aggression or conquest.

Should any such be attempted, the allies present were to help according

to their power. Your fathers rewarded us thus for the courage and

patriotism that we displayed at that perilous epoch; but you do just

the contrary, coming with our bitterest enemies, the Thebans, to enslave

us. We appeal, therefore, to the gods to whom the oaths were then

made, to the gods of your ancestors, and lastly to those of our country,

and call upon you to refrain from violating our territory or transgressing

the oaths, and to let us live independent, as Pausanias decreed.”


The Plataeans had got thus far when they were cut short by Archidamus

saying: “There is justice, Plataeans, in what you say, if you act

up to your words. According, to the grant of Pausanias, continue to

be independent yourselves, and join in freeing those of your fellow

countrymen who, after sharing in the perils of that period, joined

in the oaths to you, and are now subject to the Athenians; for it

is to free them and the rest that all this provision and war has been

made. I could wish that you would share our labours and abide by the

oaths yourselves; if this is impossible, do what we have already required

of you- remain neutral, enjoying your own; join neither side, but

receive both as friends, neither as allies for the war. With this

we shall be satisfied.” Such were the words of Archidamus. The Plataeans,

after hearing what he had to say, went into the city and acquainted

the people with what had passed, and presently returned for answer

that it was impossible for them to do what he proposed without consulting

the Athenians, with whom their children and wives now were; besides

which they had their fears for the town. After his departure, what

was to prevent the Athenians from coming and taking it out of their

hands, or the Thebans, who would be included in the oaths, from taking

advantage of the proposed neutrality to make a second attempt to seize

the city? Upon these points he tried to reassure them by saying: “You

have only to deliver over the city and houses to us Lacedaemonians,

to point out the boundaries of your land, the number of your fruit-trees,

and whatever else can be numerically stated, and yourselves to withdraw

wherever you like as long as the war shall last. When it is over we

will restore to you whatever we received, and in the interim hold

it in trust and keep it in cultivation, paying you a sufficient allowance.”


When they had heard what he had to say, they re-entered the city,

and after consulting with the people said that they wished first to

acquaint the Athenians with this proposal, and in the event of their

approving to accede to it; in the meantime they asked him to grant

them a truce and not to lay waste their territory. He accordingly

granted a truce for the number of days requisite for the journey,

and meanwhile abstained from ravaging their territory. The Plataean

envoys went to Athens, and consulted with the Athenians, and returned

with the following message to those in the city: “The Athenians say,

Plataeans, that they never hitherto, since we became their allies,

on any occasion abandoned us to an enemy, nor will they now neglect

us, but will help us according to their ability; and they adjure you

by the oaths which your fathers swore, to keep the alliance unaltered.”


On the delivery of this message by the envoys, the Plataeans resolved

not to be unfaithful to the Athenians but to endure, if it must be,

seeing their lands laid waste and any other trials that might come

to them, and not to send out again, but to answer from the wall that

it was impossible for them to do as the Lacedaemonians proposed. As

soon as he had received this answer, King Archidamus proceeded first

to make a solemn appeal to the gods and heroes of the country in words

following: “Ye gods and heroes of the Plataean territory, be my witnesses

that not as aggressors originally, nor until these had first departed

from the common oath, did we invade this land, in which our fathers

offered you their prayers before defeating the Medes, and which you

made auspicious to the Hellenic arms; nor shall we be aggressors in

the measures to which we may now resort, since we have made many fair

proposals but have not been successful. Graciously accord that those

who were the first to offend may be punished for it, and that vengeance

may be attained by those who would righteously inflict it.”


After this appeal to the gods Archidamus put his army in motion. First

he enclosed the town with a palisade formed of the fruit-trees which

they cut down, to prevent further egress from Plataea; next they threw

up a mound against the city, hoping that the largeness of the force

employed would ensure the speedy reduction of the place. They accordingly

cut down timber from Cithaeron, and built it up on either side, laying

it like lattice-work to serve as a wall to keep the mound from spreading

abroad, and carried to it wood and stones and earth and whatever other

material might help to complete it. They continued to work at the

mound for seventy days and nights without intermission, being divided

into relief parties to allow of some being employed in carrying while

others took sleep and refreshment; the Lacedaemonian officer attached

to each contingent keeping the men to the work. But the Plataeans,

observing the progress of the mound, constructed a wall of wood and

fixed it upon that part of the city wall against which the mound was

being erected, and built up bricks inside it which they took from

the neighbouring houses. The timbers served to bind the building together,

and to prevent its becoming weak as it advanced in height; it had

also a covering of skins and hides, which protected the woodwork against

the attacks of burning missiles and allowed the men to work in safety.

Thus the wall was raised to a great height, and the mound opposite

made no less rapid progress. The Plataeans also thought of another

expedient; they pulled out part of the wall upon which the mound abutted,

and carried the earth into the city.


Discovering this the Peloponnesians twisted up clay in wattles of

reed and threw it into the breach formed in the mound, in order to

give it consistency and prevent its being carried away like the soil.

Stopped in this way the Plataeans changed their mode of operation,

and digging a mine from the town calculated their way under the mound,

and began to carry off its material as before. This went on for a

long while without the enemy outside finding it out, so that for all

they threw on the top their mound made no progress in proportion,

being carried away from beneath and constantly settling down in the

vacuum. But the Plataeans, fearing that even thus they might not be

able to hold out against the superior numbers of the enemy, had yet

another invention. They stopped working at the large building in front

of the mound, and starting at either end of it inside from the old

low wall, built a new one in the form of a crescent running in towards

the town; in order that in the event of the great wall being taken

this might remain, and the enemy have to throw up a fresh mound against

it, and as they advanced within might not only have their trouble

over again, but also be exposed to missiles on their flanks. While

raising the mound the Peloponnesians also brought up engines against

the city, one of which was brought up upon the mound against the great

building and shook down a good piece of it, to the no small alarm

of the Plataeans. Others were advanced against different parts of

the wall but were lassoed and broken by the Plataeans; who also hung

up great beams by long iron chains from either extremity of two poles

laid on the wall and projecting over it, and drew them up at an angle

whenever any point was threatened by the engine, and loosing their

hold let the beam go with its chains slack, so that it fell with a

run and snapped off the nose of the battering ram.


After this the Peloponnesians, finding that their engines effected

nothing, and that their mound was met by the counterwork, concluded

that their present means of offence were unequal to the taking of

the city, and prepared for its circumvallation. First, however, they

determined to try the effects of fire and see whether they could not,

with the help of a wind, burn the town, as it was not a large one;

indeed they thought of every possible expedient by which the place

might be reduced without the expense of a blockade. They accordingly

brought faggots of brushwood and threw them from the mound, first

into the space between it and the wall; and this soon becoming full

from the number of hands at work, they next heaped the faggots up

as far into the town as they could reach from the top, and then lighted

the wood by setting fire to it with sulphur and pitch. The consequence

was a fire greater than any one had ever yet seen produced by human

agency, though it could not of course be compared to the spontaneous

conflagrations sometimes known to occur through the wind rubbing the

branches of a mountain forest together. And this fire was not only

remarkable for its magnitude, but was also, at the end of so many

perils, within an ace of proving fatal to the Plataeans; a great part

of the town became entirely inaccessible, and had a wind blown upon

it, in accordance with the hopes of the enemy, nothing could have

saved them. As it was, there is also a story of heavy rain and thunder

having come on by which the fire was put out and the danger averted.


Failing in this last attempt the Peloponnesians left a portion of

their forces on the spot, dismissing the rest, and built a wall of

circumvallation round the town, dividing the ground among the various

cities present; a ditch being made within and without the lines, from

which they got their bricks. All being finished by about the rising

of Arcturus, they left men enough to man half the wall, the rest being

manned by the Boeotians, and drawing off their army dispersed to their

several cities. The Plataeans had before sent off their wives and

children and oldest men and the mass of the non-combatants to Athens;

so that the number of the besieged left in the place comprised four

hundred of their own citizens, eighty Athenians, and a hundred and

ten women to bake their bread. This was the sum total at the commencement

of the siege, and there was no one else within the walls, bond or

free. Such were the arrangements made for the blockade of Plataea.


The same summer and simultaneously with the expedition against Plataea,

the Athenians marched with two thousand heavy infantry and two hundred

horse against the Chalcidians in the direction of Thrace and the Bottiaeans,

just as the corn was getting ripe, under the command of Xenophon,

son of Euripides, with two colleagues. Arriving before Spartolus in

Bottiaea, they destroyed the corn and had some hopes of the city coming

over through the intrigues of a faction within. But those of a different

way of thinking had sent to Olynthus; and a garrison of heavy infantry

and other troops arrived accordingly. These issuing from Spartolus

were engaged by the Athenians in front of the town: the Chalcidian

heavy infantry, and some auxiliaries with them, were beaten and retreated

into Spartolus; but the Chalcidian horse and light troops defeated

the horse and light troops of the Athenians. The Chalcidians had already

a few targeteers from Crusis, and presently after the battle were

joined by some others from Olynthus; upon seeing whom the light troops

from Spartolus, emboldened by this accession and by their previous

success, with the help of the Chalcidian horse and the reinforcement

just arrived again attacked the Athenians, who retired upon the two

divisions which they had left with their baggage. Whenever the Athenians

advanced, their adversary gave way, pressing them with missiles the

instant they began to retire. The Chalcidian horse also, riding up

and charging them just as they pleased, at last caused a panic amongst

them and routed and pursued them to a great distance. The Athenians

took refuge in Potidaea, and afterwards recovered their dead under

truce, and returned to Athens with the remnant of their army; four

hundred and thirty men and all the generals having fallen. The Chalcidians

and Bottiaeans set up a trophy, took up their dead, and dispersed

to their several cities.


The same summer, not long after this, the Ambraciots and Chaonians,

being desirous of reducing the whole of Acarnania and detaching it

from Athens, persuaded the Lacedaemonians to equip a fleet from their

confederacy and send a thousand heavy infantry to Acarnania, representing

that, if a combined movement were made by land and sea, the coast

Acarnanians would be unable to march, and the conquest of Zacynthus

and Cephallenia easily following on the possession of Acarnania, the

cruise round Peloponnese would be no longer so convenient for the

Athenians. Besides which there was a hope of taking Naupactus. The

Lacedaemonians accordingly at once sent off a few vessels with Cnemus,

who was still high admiral, and the heavy infantry on board; and sent

round orders for the fleet to equip as quickly as possible and sail

to Leucas. The Corinthians were the most forward in the business;

the Ambraciots being a colony of theirs. While the ships from Corinth,

Sicyon, and the neighbourhood were getting ready, and those from Leucas,

Anactorium, and Ambracia, which had arrived before, were walting for

them at Leucas, Cnemus and his thousand heavy infantry had run into

the gulf, giving the slip to Phormio, the commander of the Athenian

squadron stationed off Naupactus, and began at once to prepare for

the land expedition. The Hellenic troops with him consisted of the

Ambraciots, Leucadians, and Anactorians, and the thousand Peloponnesians

with whom he came; the barbarian of a thousand Chaonians, who, belonging

to a nation that has no king, were led by Photys and Nicanor, the

two members of the royal family to whom the chieftainship for that

year had been confided. With the Chaonians came also some Thesprotians,

like them without a king, some Molossians and Atintanians led by Sabylinthus,

the guardian of King Tharyps who was still a minor, and some Paravaeans,

under their king Oroedus, accompanied by a thousand Orestians, subjects

of King Antichus and placed by him under the command of Oroedus. There

were also a thousand Macedonians sent by Perdiccas without the knowledge

of the Athenians, but they arrived too late. With this force Cnemus

set out, without waiting for the fleet from Corinth. Passing through

the territory of Amphilochian Argos, and sacking the open village

of Limnaea, they advanced to Stratus the Acarnanian capital; this

once taken, the rest of the country, they felt convinced, would speedily



The Acarnanians, finding themselves invaded by a large army by land,

and from the sea threatened by a hostile fleet, made no combined attempt

at resistance, but remained to defend their homes, and sent for help

to Phormio, who replied that, when a fleet was on the point of sailing

from Corinth, it was impossible for him to leave Naupactus unprotected.

The Peloponnesians meanwhile and their allies advanced upon Stratus

in three divisions, with the intention of encamping near it and attempting

the wall by force if they failed to succeed by negotiation. The order

of march was as follows: the centre was occupied by the Chaonians

and the rest of the barbarians, with the Leucadians and Anactorians

and their followers on the right, and Cnemus with the Peloponnesians

and Ambraciots on the left; each division being a long way off from,

and sometimes even out of sight of, the others. The Hellenes advanced

in good order, keeping a look-out till they encamped in a good position;

but the Chaonians, filled with self-confidence, and having the highest

character for courage among the tribes of that part of the continent,

without waiting to occupy their camp, rushed on with the rest of the

barbarians, in the idea that they should take the town by assault

and obtain the sole glory of the enterprise. While they were coming

on, the Stratians, becoming aware how things stood, and thinking that

the defeat of this division would considerably dishearten the Hellenes

behind it, occupied the environs of the town with ambuscades, and

as soon as they approached engaged them at close quarters from the

city and the ambuscades. A panic seizing the Chaonians, great numbers

of them were slain; and as soon as they were seen to give way the

rest of the barbarians turned and fled. Owing to the distance by which

their allies had preceded them, neither of the Hellenic divisions

knew anything of the battle, but fancied they were hastening on to

encamp. However, when the flying barbarians broke in upon them, they

opened their ranks to receive them, brought their divisions together,

and stopped quiet where they were for the day; the Stratians not offering

to engage them, as the rest of the Acarnanians had not yet arrived,

but contenting themselves with slinging at them from a distance, which

distressed them greatly, as there was no stirring without their armour.

The Acarnanians would seem to excel in this mode of warfare.


As soon as night fell, Cnemus hastily drew off his army to the river

Anapus, about nine miles from Stratus, recovering his dead next day

under truce, and being there joined by the friendly Oeniadae, fell

back upon their city before the enemy’s reinforcements came up. From

hence each returned home; and the Stratians set up a trophy for the

battle with the barbarians.


Meanwhile the fleet from Corinth and the rest of the confederates

in the Crissaean Gulf, which was to have co-operated with Cnemus and

prevented the coast Acarnanians from joining their countrymen in the

interior, was disabled from doing so by being compelled about the

same time as the battle at Stratus to fight with Phormio and the twenty

Athenian vessels stationed at Naupactus. For they were watched, as

they coasted along out of the gulf, by Phormio, who wished to attack

in the open sea. But the Corinthians and allies had started for Acarnania

without any idea of fighting at sea, and with vessels more like transports

for carrying soldiers; besides which, they never dreamed of the twenty

Athenian ships venturing to engage their forty-seven. However, while

they were coasting along their own shore, there were the Athenians

sailing along in line with them; and when they tried to cross over

from Patrae in Achaea to the mainland on the other side, on their

way to Acarnania, they saw them again coming out from Chalcis and

the river Evenus to meet them. They slipped from their moorings in

the night, but were observed, and were at length compelled to fight

in mid passage. Each state that contributed to the armament had its

own general; the Corinthian commanders were Machaon, Isocrates, and

Agatharchidas. The Peloponnesians ranged their vessels in as large

a circle as possible without leaving an opening, with the prows outside

and the sterns in; and placed within all the small craft in company,

and their five best sailers to issue out at a moment’s notice and

strengthen any point threatened by the enemy.


The Athenians, formed in line, sailed round and round them, and forced

them to contract their circle, by continually brushing past and making

as though they would attack at once, having been previously cautioned

by Phormio not to do so till he gave the signal. His hope was that

the Peloponnesians would not retain their order like a force on shore,

but that the ships would fall foul of one another and the small craft

cause confusion; and if the wind should blow from the gulf (in expectation

of which he kept sailing round them, and which usually rose towards

morning), they would not, he felt sure, remain steady an instant.

He also thought that it rested with him to attack when he pleased,

as his ships were better sailers, and that an attack timed by the

coming of the wind would tell best. When the wind came down, the enemy’s

ships were now in a narrow space, and what with the wind and the small

craft dashing against them, at once fell into confusion: ship fell

foul of ship, while the crews were pushing them off with poles, and

by their shouting, swearing, and struggling with one another, made

captains’ orders and boatswains’ cries alike inaudible, and through

being unable for want of practice to clear their oars in the rough

water, prevented the vessels from obeying their helmsmen properly.

At this moment Phormio gave the signal, and the Athenians attacked.

Sinking first one of the admirals, they then disabled all they came

across, so that no one thought of resistance for the confusion, but

fled for Patrae and Dyme in Achaea. The Athenians gave chase and captured

twelve ships, and taking most of the men out of them sailed to Molycrium,

and after setting up a trophy on the promontory of Rhium and dedicating

a ship to Poseidon, returned to Naupactus. As for the Peloponnesians,

they at once sailed with their remaining ships along the coast from

Dyme and Patrae to Cyllene, the Eleian arsenal; where Cnemus, and

the ships from Leucas that were to have joined them, also arrived

after the battle at Stratus.


The Lacedaemonians now sent to the fleet to Cnemus three commissioners-

Timocrates, Bradidas, and Lycophron- with orders to prepare to engage

again with better fortune, and not to be driven from the sea by a

few vessels; for they could not at all account for their discomfiture,

the less so as it was their first attempt at sea; and they fancied

that it was not that their marine was so inferior, but that there

had been misconduct somewhere, not considering the long experience

of the Athenians as compared with the little practice which they had

had themselves. The commissioners were accordingly sent in anger.

As soon as they arrived they set to work with Cnemus to order ships

from the different states, and to put those which they already had

in fighting order. Meanwhile Phormio sent word to Athens of their

preparations and his own victory, and desired as many ships as possible

to be speedily sent to him, as he stood in daily expectation of a

battle. Twenty were accordingly sent, but instructions were given

to their commander to go first to Crete. For Nicias, a Cretan of Gortys,

who was proxenus of the Athenians, had persuaded them to sail against

Cydonia, promising to procure the reduction of that hostile town;

his real wish being to oblige the Polichnitans, neighbours of the

Cydonians. He accordingly went with the ships to Crete, and, accompanied

by the Polichnitans, laid waste the lands of the Cydonians; and, what

with adverse winds and stress of weather wasted no little time there.


While the Athenians were thus detained in Crete, the Peloponnesians

in Cyllene got ready for battle, and coasted along to Panormus in

Achaea, where their land army had come to support them. Phormio also

coasted along to Molycrian Rhium, and anchored outside it with twenty

ships, the same as he had fought with before. This Rhium was friendly

to the Athenians. The other, in Peloponnese, lies opposite to it;

the sea between them is about three-quarters of a mile broad, and

forms the mouth of the Crissaean gulf. At this, the Achaean Rhium,

not far off Panormus, where their army lay, the Peloponnesians now

cast anchor with seventy-seven ships, when they saw the Athenians

do so. For six or seven days they remained opposite each other, practising

and preparing for the battle; the one resolved not to sail out of

the Rhia into the open sea, for fear of the disaster which had already

happened to them, the other not to sail into the straits, thinking

it advantageous to the enemy, to fight in the narrows. At last Cnemus

and Brasidas and the rest of the Peloponnesian commanders, being desirous

of bringing on a battle as soon as possible, before reinforcements

should arrive from Athens, and noticing that the men were most of

them cowed by the previous defeat and out of heart for the business,

first called them together and encouraged them as follows:


“Peloponnesians, the late engagement, which may have made some of

you afraid of the one now in prospect, really gives no just ground

for apprehension. Preparation for it, as you know, there was little

enough; and the object of our voyage was not so much to fight at sea

as an expedition by land. Besides this, the chances of war were largely

against us; and perhaps also inexperience had something to do with

our failure in our first naval action. It was not, therefore, cowardice

that produced our defeat, nor ought the determination which force

has not quelled, but which still has a word to say with its adversary,

to lose its edge from the result of an accident; but admitting the

possibility of a chance miscarriage, we should know that brave hearts

must be always brave, and while they remain so can never put forward

inexperience as an excuse for misconduct. Nor are you so behind the

enemy in experience as you are ahead of him in courage; and although

the science of your opponents would, if valour accompanied it, have

also the presence of mind to carry out at in emergency the lesson

it has learnt, yet a faint heart will make all art powerless in the

face of danger. For fear takes away presence of mind, and without

valour art is useless. Against their superior experience set your

superior daring, and against the fear induced by defeat the fact of

your having been then unprepared; remember, too, that you have always

the advantage of superior numbers, and of engaging off your own coast,

supported by your heavy infantry; and as a rule, numbers and equipment

give victory. At no point, therefore, is defeat likely; and as for

our previous mistakes, the very fact of their occurrence will teach

us better for the future. Steersmen and sailors may, therefore, confidently

attend to their several duties, none quitting the station assigned

to them: as for ourselves, we promise to prepare for the engagement

at least as well as your previous commanders, and to give no excuse

for any one misconducting himself. Should any insist on doing so,

he shall meet with the punishment he deserves, while the brave shall

be honoured with the appropriate rewards of valour.”


The Peloponnesian commanders encouraged their men after this fashion.

Phormio, meanwhile, being himself not without fears for the courage

of his men, and noticing that they were forming in groups among themselves

and were alarmed at the odds against them, desired to call them together

and give them confidence and counsel in the present emergency. He

had before continually told them, and had accustomed their minds to

the idea, that there was no numerical superiority that they could

not face; and the men themselves had long been persuaded that Athenians

need never retire before any quantity of Peloponnesian vessels. At

the moment, however, he saw that they were dispirited by the sight

before them, and wishing to refresh their confidence, called them

together and spoke as follows:


“I see, my men, that you are frightened by the number of the enemy,

and I have accordingly called you together, not liking you to be afraid

of what is not really terrible. In the first place, the Peloponnesians,

already defeated, and not even themselves thinking that they are a

match for us, have not ventured to meet us on equal terms, but have

equipped this multitude of ships against us. Next, as to that upon

which they most rely, the courage which they suppose constitutional

to them, their confidence here only arises from the success which

their experience in land service usually gives them, and which they

fancy will do the same for them at sea. But this advantage will in

all justice belong to us on this element, if to them on that; as they

are not superior to us in courage, but we are each of us more confident,

according to our experience in our particular department. Besides,

as the Lacedaemonians use their supremacy over their allies to promote

their own glory, they are most of them being brought into danger against

their will, or they would never, after such a decided defeat, have

ventured upon a fresh engagement. You need not, therefore, be afraid

of their dash. You, on the contrary, inspire a much greater and better

founded alarm, both because of your late victory and also of their

belief that we should not face them unless about to do something worthy

of a success so signal. An adversary numerically superior, like the

one before us, comes into action trusting more to strength than to

resolution; while he who voluntarily confronts tremendous odds must

have very great internal resources to draw upon. For these reasons

the Peloponnesians fear our irrational audacity more than they would

ever have done a more commensurate preparation. Besides, many armaments

have before now succumbed to an inferior through want of skill or

sometimes of courage; neither of which defects certainly are ours.

As to the battle, it shall not be, if I can help it, in the strait,

nor will I sail in there at all; seeing that in a contest between

a number of clumsily managed vessels and a small, fast, well-handled

squadron, want of sea room is an undoubted disadvantage. One cannot

run down an enemy properly without having a sight of him a good way

off, nor can one retire at need when pressed; one can neither break

the line nor return upon his rear, the proper tactics for a fast sailer;

but the naval action necessarily becomes a land one, in which numbers

must decide the matter. For all this I will provide as far as can

be. Do you stay at your posts by your ships, and be sharp at catching

the word of command, the more so as we are observing one another from

so short a distance; and in action think order and silence all-important-

qualities useful in war generally, and in naval engagements in particular;

and behave before the enemy in a manner worthy of your past exploits.

The issues you will fight for are great- to destroy the naval hopes

of the Peloponnesians or to bring nearer to the Athenians their fears

for the sea. And I may once more remind you that you have defeated

most of them already; and beaten men do not face a danger twice with

the same determination.”


Such was the exhortation of Phormio. The Peloponnesians finding that

the Athenians did not sail into the gulf and the narrows, in order

to lead them in whether they wished it or not, put out at dawn, and

forming four abreast, sailed inside the gulf in the direction of their

own country, the right wing leading as they had lain at anchor. In

this wing were placed twenty of their best sailers; so that in the

event of Phormio thinking that their object was Naupactus, and coasting

along thither to save the place, the Athenians might not be able to

escape their onset by getting outside their wing, but might be cut

off by the vessels in question. As they expected, Phormio, in alarm

for the place at that moment emptied of its garrison, as soon as he

saw them put out, reluctantly and hurriedly embarked and sailed along

shore; the Messenian land forces moving along also to support him.

The Peloponnesians seeing him coasting along with his ships in single

file, and by this inside the gulf and close inshore as they so much

wished, at one signal tacked suddenly and bore down in line at their

best speed on the Athenians, hoping to cut off the whole squadron.

The eleven leading vessels, however, escaped the Peloponnesian wing

and its sudden movement, and reached the more open water; but the

rest were overtaken as they tried to run through, driven ashore and

disabled; such of the crews being slain as had not swum out of them.

Some of the ships the Peloponnesians lashed to their own, and towed

off empty; one they took with the men in it; others were just being

towed off, when they were saved by the Messenians dashing into the

sea with their armour and fighting from the decks that they had boarded.


Thus far victory was with the Peloponnesians, and the Athenian fleet

destroyed; the twenty ships in the right wing being meanwhile in chase

of the eleven Athenian vessels that had escaped their sudden movement

and reached the more open water. These, with the exception of one

ship, all outsailed them and got safe into Naupactus, and forming

close inshore opposite the temple of Apollo, with their prows facing

the enemy, prepared to defend themselves in case the Peloponnesians

should sail inshore against them. After a while the Peloponnesians

came up, chanting the paean for their victory as they sailed on; the

single Athenian ship remaining being chased by a Leucadian far ahead

of the rest. But there happened to be a merchantman lying at anchor

in the roadstead, which the Athenian ship found time to sail round,

and struck the Leucadian in chase amidships and sank her. An exploit

so sudden and unexpected produced a panic among the Peloponnesians;

and having fallen out of order in the excitement of victory, some

of them dropped their oars and stopped their way in order to let the

main body come up- an unsafe thing to do considering how near they

were to the enemy’s prows; while others ran aground in the shallows,

in their ignorance of the localities.


Elated at this incident, the Athenians at one word gave a cheer, and

dashed at the enemy, who, embarrassed by his mistakes and the disorder

in which he found himself, only stood for an instant, and then fled

for Panormus, whence he had put out. The Athenians following on his

heels took the six vessels nearest them, and recovered those of their

own which had been disabled close inshore and taken in tow at the

beginning of the action; they killed some of the crews and took some

prisoners. On board the Leucadian which went down off the merchantman,

was the Lacedaemonian Timocrates, who killed himself when the ship

was sunk, and was cast up in the harbour of Naupactus. The Athenians

on their return set up a trophy on the spot from which they had put

out and turned the day, and picking up the wrecks and dead that were

on their shore, gave back to the enemy their dead under truce. The

Peloponnesians also set up a trophy as victors for the defeat inflicted

upon the ships they had disabled in shore, and dedicated the vessel

which they had taken at Achaean Rhium, side by side with the trophy.

After this, apprehensive of the reinforcement expected from Athens,

all except the Leucadians sailed into the Crissaean Gulf for Corinth.

Not long after their retreat, the twenty Athenian ships, which were

to have joined Phormio before the battle, arrived at Naupactus.


Thus the summer ended. Winter was now at hand; but dispersing the

fleet, which had retired to Corinth and the Crissaean Gulf, Cnemus,

Brasidas, and the other Peloponnesian captains allowed themselves

to be persuaded by the Megarians to make an attempt upon Piraeus,

the port of Athens, which from her decided superiority at sea had

been naturally left unguarded and open. Their plan was as follows:

The men were each to take their oar, cushion, and rowlock thong, and,

going overland from Corinth to the sea on the Athenian side, to get

to Megara as quickly as they could, and launching forty vessels, which

happened to be in the docks at Nisaea, to sail at once to Piraeus.

There was no fleet on the look-out in the harbour, and no one had

the least idea of the enemy attempting a surprise; while an open attack

would, it was thought, never be deliberately ventured on, or, if in

contemplation, would be speedily known at Athens. Their plan formed,

the next step was to put it in execution. Arriving by night and launching

the vessels from Nisaea, they sailed, not to Piraeus as they had originally

intended, being afraid of the risk, besides which there was some talk

of a wind having stopped them, but to the point of Salamis that looks

towards Megara; where there was a fort and a squadron of three ships

to prevent anything sailing in or out of Megara. This fort they assaulted,

and towed off the galleys empty, and surprising the inhabitants began

to lay waste the rest of the island.


Meanwhile fire signals were raised to alarm Athens, and a panic ensued

there as serious as any that occurred during the war. The idea in

the city was that the enemy had already sailed into Piraeus: in Piraeus

it was thought that they had taken Salamis and might at any moment

arrive in the port; as indeed might easily have been done if their

hearts had been a little firmer: certainly no wind would have prevented

them. As soon as day broke, the Athenians assembled in full force,

launched their ships, and embarking in haste and uproar went with

the fleet to Salamis, while their soldiery mounted guard in Piraeus.

The Peloponnesians, on becoming aware of the coming relief, after

they had overrun most of Salamis, hastily sailed off with their plunder

and captives and the three ships from Fort Budorum to Nisaea; the

state of their ships also causing them some anxiety, as it was a long

while since they had been launched, and they were not water-tight.

Arrived at Megara, they returned back on foot to Corinth. The Athenians

finding them no longer at Salamis, sailed back themselves; and after

this made arrangements for guarding Piraeus more diligently in future,

by closing the harbours, and by other suitable precautions.


About the same time, at the beginning of this winter, Sitalces, son

of Teres, the Odrysian king of Thrace, made an expedition against

Perdiccas, son of Alexander, king of Macedonia, and the Chalcidians

in the neighbourhood of Thrace; his object being to enforce one promise

and fulfil another. On the one hand Perdiccas had made him a promise,

when hard pressed at the commencement of the war, upon condition that

Sitalces should reconcile the Athenians to him and not attempt to

restore his brother and enemy, the pretender Philip, but had not offered

to fulfil his engagement; on the other he, Sitalces, on entering into

alliance with the Athenians, had agreed to put an end to the Chalcidian

war in Thrace. These were the two objects of his invasion. With him

he brought Amyntas, the son of Philip, whom he destined for the throne

of Macedonia, and some Athenian envoys then at his court on this business,

and Hagnon as general; for the Athenians were to join him against

the Chalcidians with a fleet and as many soldiers as they could get



Beginning with the Odrysians, he first called out the Thracian tribes

subject to him between Mounts Haemus and Rhodope and the Euxine and

Hellespont; next the Getae beyond Haemus, and the other hordes settled

south of the Danube in the neighbourhood of the Euxine, who, like

the Getae, border on the Scythians and are armed in the same manner,

being all mounted archers. Besides these he summoned many of the hill

Thracian independent swordsmen, called Dii and mostly inhabiting Mount

Rhodope, some of whom came as mercenaries, others as volunteers; also

the Agrianes and Laeaeans, and the rest of the Paeonian tribes in

his empire, at the confines of which these lay, extending up to the

Laeaean Paeonians and the river Strymon, which flows from Mount Scombrus

through the country of the Agrianes and Laeaeans; there the empire

of Sitalces ends and the territory of the independent Paeonians begins.

Bordering on the Triballi, also independent, were the Treres and Tilataeans,

who dwell to the north of Mount Scombrus and extend towards the setting

sun as far as the river Oskius. This river rises in the same mountains

as the Nestus and Hebrus, a wild and extensive range connected with



The empire of the Odrysians extended along the seaboard from Abdera

to the mouth of the Danube in the Euxine. The navigation of this coast

by the shortest route takes a merchantman four days and four nights

with a wind astern the whole way: by land an active man, travelling

by the shortest road, can get from Abdera to the Danube in eleven

days. Such was the length of its coast line. Inland from Byzantium

to the Laeaeans and the Strymon, the farthest limit of its extension

into the interior, it is a journey of thirteen days for an active

man. The tribute from all the barbarian districts and the Hellenic

cities, taking what they brought in under Seuthes, the successor of

Sitalces, who raised it to its greatest height, amounted to about

four hundred talents in gold and silver. There were also presents

in gold and silver to a no less amount, besides stuff, plain and embroidered,

and other articles, made not only for the king, but also for the Odrysian

lords and nobles. For there was here established a custom opposite

to that prevailing in the Persian kingdom, namely, of taking rather

than giving; more disgrace being attached to not giving when asked

than to asking and being refused; and although this prevailed elsewhere

in Thrace, it was practised most extensively among the powerful Odrysians,

it being impossible to get anything done without a present. It was

thus a very powerful kingdom; in revenue and general prosperity surpassing

all in Europe between the Ionian Gulf and the Euxine, and in numbers

and military resources coming decidedly next to the Scythians, with

whom indeed no people in Europe can bear comparison, there not being

even in Asia any nation singly a match for them if unanimous, though

of course they are not on a level with other races in general intelligence

and the arts of civilized life.


It was the master of this empire that now prepared to take the field.

When everything was ready, he set out on his march for Macedonia,

first through his own dominions, next over the desolate range of Cercine

that divides the Sintians and Paeonians, crossing by a road which

he had made by felling the timber on a former campaign against the

latter people. Passing over these mountains, with the Paeonians on

his right and the Sintians and Maedians on the left, he finally arrived

at Doberus, in Paeonia, losing none of his army on the march, except

perhaps by sickness, but receiving some augmentations, many of the

independent Thracians volunteering to join him in the hope of plunder;

so that the whole is said to have formed a grand total of a hundred

and fifty thousand. Most of this was infantry, though there was about

a third cavalry, furnished principally by the Odrysians themselves

and next to them by the Getae. The most warlike of the infantry were

the independent swordsmen who came down from Rhodope; the rest of

the mixed multitude that followed him being chiefly formidable by

their numbers.


Assembling in Doberus, they prepared for descending from the heights

upon Lower Macedonia, where the dominions of Perdiccas lay; for the

Lyncestae, Elimiots, and other tribes more inland, though Macedonians

by blood, and allies and dependants of their kindred, still have their

own separate governments. The country on the sea coast, now called

Macedonia, was first acquired by Alexander, the father of Perdiccas,

and his ancestors, originally Temenids from Argos. This was effected

by the expulsion from Pieria of the Pierians, who afterwards inhabited

Phagres and other places under Mount Pangaeus, beyond the Strymon

(indeed the country between Pangaeus and the sea is still called the

Pierian Gulf); of the Bottiaeans, at present neighbours of the Chalcidians,

from Bottia, and by the acquisition in Paeonia of a narrow strip along

the river Axius extending to Pella and the sea; the district of Mygdonia,

between the Axius and the Strymon, being also added by the expulsion

of the Edonians. From Eordia also were driven the Eordians, most of

whom perished, though a few of them still live round Physca, and the

Almopians from Almopia. These Macedonians also conquered places belonging

to the other tribes, which are still theirs- Anthemus, Crestonia,

Bisaltia, and much of Macedonia proper. The whole is now called Macedonia,

and at the time of the invasion of Sitalces, Perdiccas, Alexander’s

son, was the reigning king.


These Macedonians, unable to take the field against so numerous an

invader, shut themselves up in such strong places and fortresses as

the country possessed. Of these there was no great number, most of

those now found in the country having been erected subsequently by

Archelaus, the son of Perdiccas, on his accession, who also cut straight

roads, and otherwise put the kingdom on a better footing as regards

horses, heavy infantry, and other war material than had been done

by all the eight kings that preceded him. Advancing from Doberus,

the Thracian host first invaded what had been once Philip’s government,

and took Idomene by assault, Gortynia, Atalanta, and some other places

by negotiation, these last coming over for love of Philip’s son, Amyntas,

then with Sitalces. Laying siege to Europus, and failing to take it,

he next advanced into the rest of Macedonia to the left of Pella and

Cyrrhus, not proceeding beyond this into Bottiaea and Pieria, but

staying to lay waste Mygdonia, Crestonia, and Anthemus.


The Macedonians never even thought of meeting him with infantry; but

the Thracian host was, as opportunity offered, attacked by handfuls

of their horse, which had been reinforced from their allies in the

interior. Armed with cuirasses, and excellent horsemen, wherever these

charged they overthrew all before them, but ran considerable risk

in entangling themselves in the masses of the enemy, and so finally

desisted from these efforts, deciding that they were not strong enough

to venture against numbers so superior.


Meanwhile Sitalces opened negotiations with Perdiccas on the objects

of his expedition; and finding that the Athenians, not believing that

he would come, did not appear with their fleet, though they sent presents

and envoys, dispatched a large part of his army against the Chalcidians

and Bottiaeans, and shutting them up inside their walls laid waste

their country. While he remained in these parts, the people farther

south, such as the Thessalians, Magnetes, and the other tribes subject

to the Thessalians, and the Hellenes as far as Thermopylae, all feared

that the army might advance against them, and prepared accordingly.

These fears were shared by the Thracians beyond the Strymon to the

north, who inhabited the plains, such as the Panaeans, the Odomanti,

the Droi, and the Dersaeans, all of whom are independent. It was even

matter of conversation among the Hellenes who were enemies of Athens

whether he might not be invited by his ally to advance also against

them. Meanwhile he held Chalcidice and Bottice and Macedonia, and

was ravaging them all; but finding that he was not succeeding in any

of the objects of his invasion, and that his army was without provisions

and was suffering from the severity of the season, he listened to

the advice of Seuthes, son of Spardacus, his nephew and highest officer,

and decided to retreat without delay. This Seuthes had been secretly

gained by Perdiccas by the promise of his sister in marriage with

a rich dowry. In accordance with this advice, and after a stay of

thirty days in all, eight of which were spent in Chalcidice, he retired

home as quickly as he could; and Perdiccas afterwards gave his sister

Stratonice to Seuthes as he had promised. Such was the history of

the expedition of Sitalces.


In the course of this winter, after the dispersion of the Peloponnesian

fleet, the Athenians in Naupactus, under Phormio, coasted along to

Astacus and disembarked, and marched into the interior of Acarnania

with four hundred Athenian heavy infantry and four hundred Messenians.

After expelling some suspected persons from Stratus, Coronta, and

other places, and restoring Cynes, son of Theolytus, to Coronta, they

returned to their ships, deciding that it was impossible in the winter

season to march against Oeniadae, a place which, unlike the rest of

Acarnania, had been always hostile to them; for the river Achelous

flowing from Mount Pindus through Dolopia and the country of the Agraeans

and Amphilochians and the plain of Acarnania, past the town of Stratus

in the upper part of its course, forms lakes where it falls into the

sea round Oeniadae, and thus makes it impracticable for an army in

winter by reason of the water. Opposite to Oeniadae lie most of the

islands called Echinades, so close to the mouths of the Achelous that

that powerful stream is constantly forming deposits against them,

and has already joined some of the islands to the continent, and seems

likely in no long while to do the same with the rest. For the current

is strong, deep, and turbid, and the islands are so thick together

that they serve to imprison the alluvial deposit and prevent its dispersing,

lying, as they do, not in one line, but irregularly, so as to leave

no direct passage for the water into the open sea. The islands in

question are uninhabited and of no great size. There is also a story

that Alcmaeon, son of Amphiraus, during his wanderings after the murder

of his mother was bidden by Apollo to inhabit this spot, through an

oracle which intimated that he would have no release from his terrors

until he should find a country to dwell in which had not been seen

by the sun, or existed as land at the time he slew his mother; all

else being to him polluted ground. Perplexed at this, the story goes

on to say, he at last observed this deposit of the Achelous, and considered

that a place sufficient to support life upon, might have been thrown

up during the long interval that had elapsed since the death of his

mother and the beginning of his wanderings. Settling, therefore, in

the district round Oeniadae, he founded a dominion, and left the country

its name from his son Acarnan. Such is the story we have received

concerning Alcmaeon.


The Athenians and Phormio putting back from Acarnania and arriving

at Naupactus, sailed home to Athens in the spring, taking with them

the ships that they had captured, and such of the prisoners made in

the late actions as were freemen; who were exchanged, man for man.

And so ended this winter, and the third year of this war, of which

Thucydides was the historian.






Chapter IX


Fourth and Fifth Years of the War – Revolt of Mitylene


The next summer, just as the corn was getting ripe, the Peloponnesians

and their allies invaded Attica under the command of Archidamus, son

of Zeuxidamus, king of the Lacedaemonians, and sat down and ravaged

the land; the Athenian horse as usual attacking them, wherever it

was practicable, and preventing the mass of the light troops from

advancing from their camp and wasting the parts near the city. After

staying the time for which they had taken provisions, the invaders

retired and dispersed to their several cities.


Immediately after the invasion of the Peloponnesians all Lesbos, except

Methymna, revolted from the Athenians. The Lesbians had wished to

revolt even before the war, but the Lacedaemonians would not receive

them; and yet now when they did revolt, they were compelled to do

so sooner than they had intended. While they were waiting until the

moles for their harbours and the ships and walls that they had in

building should be finished, and for the arrival of archers and corn

and other things that they were engaged in fetching from the Pontus,

the Tenedians, with whom they were at enmity, and the Methymnians,

and some factious persons in Mitylene itself, who were proxeni of

Athens, informed the Athenians that the Mitylenians were forcibly

uniting the island under their sovereignty, and that the preparations

about which they were so active, were all concerted with the Boeotians

their kindred and the Lacedaemonians with a view to a revolt, and

that, unless they were immediately prevented, Athens would lose Lesbos.


However, the Athenians, distressed by the plague, and by the war that

had recently broken out and was now raging, thought it a serious matter

to add Lesbos with its fleet and untouched resources to the list of

their enemies; and at first would not believe the charge, giving too

much weight to their wish that it might not be true. But when an embassy

which they sent had failed to persuade the Mitylenians to give up

the union and preparations complained of, they became alarmed, and

resolved to strike the first blow. They accordingly suddenly sent

off forty ships that had been got ready to sail round Peloponnese,

under the command of Cleippides, son of Deinias, and two others; word

having been brought them of a festival in honour of the Malean Apollo

outside the town, which is kept by the whole people of Mitylene, and

at which, if haste were made, they might hope to take them by surprise.

If this plan succeeded, well and good; if not, they were to order

the Mitylenians to deliver up their ships and to pull down their walls,

and if they did not obey, to declare war. The ships accordingly set

out; the ten galleys, forming the contingent of the Mitylenians present

with the fleet according to the terms of the alliance, being detained

by the Athenians, and their crews placed in custody. However, the

Mitylenians were informed of the expedition by a man who crossed from

Athens to Euboea, and going overland to Geraestus, sailed from thence

by a merchantman which he found on the point of putting to sea, and

so arrived at Mitylene the third day after leaving Athens. The Mitylenians

accordingly refrained from going out to the temple at Malea, and moreover

barricaded and kept guard round the half-finished parts of their walls

and harbours.


When the Athenians sailed in not long after and saw how things stood,

the generals delivered their orders, and upon the Mitylenians refusing

to obey, commenced hostilities. The Mitylenians, thus compelled to

go to war without notice and unprepared, at first sailed out with

their fleet and made some show of fighting, a little in front of the

harbour; but being driven back by the Athenian ships, immediately

offered to treat with the commanders, wishing, if possible, to get

the ships away for the present upon any tolerable terms. The Athenian

commanders accepted their offers, being themselves fearful that they

might not be able to cope with the whole of Lesbos; and an armistice

having been concluded, the Mitylenians sent to Athens one of the informers,

already repentant of his conduct, and others with him, to try to persuade

the Athenians of the innocence of their intentions and to get the

fleet recalled. In the meantime, having no great hope of a favourable

answer from Athens, they also sent off a galley with envoys to Lacedaemon,

unobserved by the Athenian fleet which was anchored at Malea to the

north of the town.


While these envoys, reaching Lacedaemon after a difficult journey

across the open sea, were negotiating for succours being sent them,

the ambassadors from Athens returned without having effected anything;

and hostilities were at once begun by the Mitylenians and the rest

of Lesbos, with the exception of the Methymnians, who came to the

aid of the Athenians with the Imbrians and Lemnians and some few of

the other allies. The Mitylenians made a sortie with all their forces

against the Athenian camp; and a battle ensued, in which they gained

some slight advantage, but retired notwithstanding, not feeling sufficient

confidence in themselves to spend the night upon the field. After

this they kept quiet, wishing to wait for the chance of reinforcements

arriving from Peloponnese before making a second venture, being encouraged

by the arrival of Meleas, a Laconian, and Hermaeondas, a Theban, who

had been sent off before the insurrection but had been unable to reach

Lesbos before the Athenian expedition, and who now stole in in a galley

after the battle, and advised them to send another galley and envoys

back with them, which the Mitylenians accordingly did.


Meanwhile the Athenians, greatly encouraged by the inaction of the

Mitylenians, summoned allies to their aid, who came in all the quicker

from seeing so little vigour displayed by the Lesbians, and bringing

round their ships to a new station to the south of the town, fortified

two camps, one on each side of the city, and instituted a blockade

of both the harbours. The sea was thus closed against the Mitylenians,

who, however, commanded the whole country, with the rest of the Lesbians

who had now joined them; the Athenians only holding a limited area

round their camps, and using Malea more as the station for their ships

and their market.


While the war went on in this way at Mitylene, the Athenians, about

the same time in this summer, also sent thirty ships to Peloponnese

under Asopius, son of Phormio; the Acarnanians insisting that the

commander sent should be some son or relative of Phormio. As the ships

coasted along shore they ravaged the seaboard of Laconia; after which

Asopius sent most of the fleet home, and himself went on with twelve

vessels to Naupactus, and afterwards raising the whole Acarnanian

population made an expedition against Oeniadae, the fleet sailing

along the Achelous, while the army laid waste the country. The inhabitants,

however, showing no signs of submitting, he dismissed the land forces

and himself sailed to Leucas, and making a descent upon Nericus was

cut off during his retreat, and most of his troops with him, by the

people in those parts aided by some coastguards; after which the Athenians

sailed away, recovering their dead from the Leucadians under truce.


Meanwhile the envoys of the Mitylenians sent out in the first ship

were told by the Lacedaemonians to come to Olympia, in order that

the rest of the allies might hear them and decide upon their matter,

and so they journeyed thither. It was the Olympiad in which the Rhodian

Dorieus gained his second victory, and the envoys having been introduced

to make their speech after the festival, spoke as follows:


“Lacedaemonians and allies, the rule established among the Hellenes

is not unknown to us. Those who revolt in war and forsake their former

confederacy are favourably regarded by those who receive them, in

so far as they are of use to them, but otherwise are thought less

well of, through being considered traitors to their former friends.

Nor is this an unfair way of judging, where the rebels and the power

from whom they secede are at one in policy and sympathy, and a match

for each other in resources and power, and where no reasonable ground

exists for the rebellion. But with us and the Athenians this was not

the case; and no one need think the worse of us for revolting from

them in danger, after having been honoured by them in time of peace.


“Justice and honesty will be the first topics of our speech, especially

as we are asking for alliance; because we know that there can never

be any solid friendship between individuals, or union between communities

that is worth the name, unless the parties be persuaded of each other’s

honesty, and be generally congenial the one to the other; since from

difference in feeling springs also difference in conduct. Between

ourselves and the Athenians alliance began, when you withdrew from

the Median War and they remained to finish the business. But we did

not become allies of the Athenians for the subjugation of the Hellenes,

but allies of the Hellenes for their liberation from the Mede; and

as long as the Athenians led us fairly we followed them loyally; but

when we saw them relax their hostility to the Mede, to try to compass

the subjection of the allies, then our apprehensions began. Unable,

however, to unite and defend themselves, on account of the number

of confederates that had votes, all the allies were enslaved, except

ourselves and the Chians, who continued to send our contingents as

independent and nominally free. Trust in Athens as a leader, however,

we could no longer feel, judging by the examples already given; it

being unlikely that she would reduce our fellow confederates, and

not do the same by us who were left, if ever she had the power.


“Had we all been still independent, we could have had more faith in

their not attempting any change; but the greater number being their

subjects, while they were treating us as equals, they would naturally

chafe under this solitary instance of independence as contrasted with

the submission of the majority; particularly as they daily grew more

powerful, and we more destitute. Now the only sure basis of an alliance

is for each party to be equally afraid of the other; he who would

like to encroach is then deterred by the reflection that he will not

have odds in his favour. Again, if we were left independent, it was

only because they thought they saw their way to empire more clearly

by specious language and by the paths of policy than by those of force.

Not only were we useful as evidence that powers who had votes, like

themselves, would not, surely, join them in their expeditions, against

their will, without the party attacked being in the wrong; but the

same system also enabled them to lead the stronger states against

the weaker first, and so to leave the former to the last, stripped

of their natural allies, and less capable of resistance. But if they

had begun with us, while all the states still had their resources

under their own control, and there was a centre to rally round, the

work of subjugation would have been found less easy. Besides this,

our navy gave them some apprehension: it was always possible that

it might unite with you or with some other power, and become dangerous

to Athens. The court which we paid to their commons and its leaders

for the time being also helped us to maintain our independence. However,

we did not expect to be able to do so much longer, if this war had

not broken out, from the examples that we had had of their conduct

to the rest.


“How then could we put our trust in such friendship or freedom as

we had here? We accepted each other against our inclination; fear

made them court us in war, and us them in peace; sympathy, the ordinary

basis of confidence, had its place supplied by terror, fear having

more share than friendship in detaining us in the alliance; and the

first party that should be encouraged by the hope of impunity was

certain to break faith with the other. So that to condemn us for being

the first to break off, because they delay the blow that we dread,

instead of ourselves delaying to know for certain whether it will

be dealt or not, is to take a false view of the case. For if we were

equally able with them to meet their plots and imitate their delay,

we should be their equals and should be under no necessity of being

their subjects; but the liberty of offence being always theirs, that

of defence ought clearly to be ours.


“Such, Lacedaemonians and allies, are the grounds and the reasons

of our revolt; clear enough to convince our hearers of the fairness

of our conduct, and sufficient to alarm ourselves, and to make us

turn to some means of safety. This we wished to do long ago, when

we sent to you on the subject while the peace yet lasted, but were

balked by your refusing to receive us; and now, upon the Boeotians

inviting us, we at once responded to the call, and decided upon a

twofold revolt, from the Hellenes and from the Athenians, not to aid

the latter in harming the former, but to join in their liberation,

and not to allow the Athenians in the end to destroy us, but to act

in time against them. Our revolt, however, has taken place prematurely

and without preparation- a fact which makes it all the more incumbent

on you to receive us into alliance and to send us speedy relief, in

order to show that you support your friends, and at the same time

do harm to your enemies. You have an opportunity such as you never

had before. Disease and expenditure have wasted the Athenians: their

ships are either cruising round your coasts, or engaged in blockading

us; and it is not probable that they will have any to spare, if you

invade them a second time this summer by sea and land; but they will

either offer no resistance to your vessels, or withdraw from both

our shores. Nor must it be thought that this is a case of putting

yourselves into danger for a country which is not yours. Lesbos may

appear far off, but when help is wanted she will be found near enough.

It is not in Attica that the war will be decided, as some imagine,

but in the countries by which Attica is supported; and the Athenian

revenue is drawn from the allies, and will become still larger if

they reduce us; as not only will no other state revolt, but our resources

will be added to theirs, and we shall be treated worse than those

that were enslaved before. But if you will frankly support us, you

will add to your side a state that has a large navy, which is your

great want; you will smooth the way to the overthrow of the Athenians

by depriving them of their allies, who will be greatly encouraged

to come over; and you will free yourselves from the imputation made

against you, of not supporting insurrection. In short, only show yourselves

as liberators, and you may count upon having the advantage in the



“Respect, therefore, the hopes placed in you by the Hellenes, and

that Olympian Zeus, in whose temple we stand as very suppliants; become

the allies and defenders of the Mitylenians, and do not sacrifice

us, who put our lives upon the hazard, in a cause in which general

good will result to all from our success, and still more general harm

if we fail through your refusing to help us; but be the men that the

Hellenes think you, and our fears desire.”


Such were the words of the Mitylenians. After hearing them out, the

Lacedaemonians and confederates granted what they urged, and took

the Lesbians into alliance, and deciding in favour of the invasion

of Attica, told the allies present to march as quickly as possible

to the Isthmus with two-thirds of their forces; and arriving there

first themselves, got ready hauling machines to carry their ships

across from Corinth to the sea on the side of Athens, in order to

make their attack by sea and land at once. However, the zeal which

they displayed was not imitated by the rest of the confederates, who

came in but slowly, being engaged in harvesting their corn and sick

of making expeditions.


Meanwhile the Athenians, aware that the preparations of the enemy

were due to his conviction of their weakness, and wishing to show

him that he was mistaken, and that they were able, without moving

the Lesbian fleet, to repel with ease that with which they were menaced

from Peloponnese, manned a hundred ships by embarking the citizens

of Athens, except the knights and Pentacosiomedimni, and the resident

aliens; and putting out to the Isthmus, displayed their power, and

made descents upon Peloponnese wherever they pleased. A disappointment

so signal made the Lacedaemonians think that the Lesbians had not

spoken the truth; and embarrassed by the non-appearance of the confederates,

coupled with the news that the thirty ships round Peloponnese were

ravaging the lands near Sparta, they went back home. Afterwards, however,

they got ready a fleet to send to Lesbos, and ordering a total of

forty ships from the different cities in the league, appointed Alcidas

to command the expedition in his capacity of high admiral. Meanwhile

the Athenians in the hundred ships, upon seeing the Lacedaemonians

go home, went home likewise.


If, at the time that this fleet was at sea, Athens had almost the

largest number of first-rate ships in commission that she ever possessed

at any one moment, she had as many or even more when the war began.

At that time one hundred guarded Attica, Euboea, and Salamis; a hundred

more were cruising round Peloponnese, besides those employed at Potidaea

and in other places; making a grand total of two hundred and fifty

vessels employed on active service in a single summer. It was this,

with Potidaea, that most exhausted her revenues- Potidaea being blockaded

by a force of heavy infantry (each drawing two drachmae a day, one

for himself and another for his servant), which amounted to three

thousand at first, and was kept at this number down to the end of

the siege; besides sixteen hundred with Phormio who went away before

it was over; and the ships being all paid at the same rate. In this

way her money was wasted at first; and this was the largest number

of ships ever manned by her.


About the same time that the Lacedaemonians were at the Isthmus, the

Mitylenians marched by land with their mercenaries against Methymna,

which they thought to gain by treachery. After assaulting the town,

and not meeting with the success that they anticipated, they withdrew

to Antissa, Pyrrha, and Eresus; and taking measures for the better

security of these towns and strengthening their walls, hastily returned

home. After their departure the Methymnians marched against Antissa,

but were defeated in a sortie by the Antissians and their mercenaries,

and retreated in haste after losing many of their number. Word of

this reaching Athens, and the Athenians learning that the Mitylenians

were masters of the country and their own soldiers unable to hold

them in check, they sent out about the beginning of autumn Paches,

son of Epicurus, to take the command, and a thousand Athenian heavy

infantry; who worked their own passage and, arriving at Mitylene,

built a single wall all round it, forts being erected at some of the

strongest points. Mitylene was thus blockaded strictly on both sides,

by land and by sea; and winter now drew near.


The Athenians needing money for the siege, although they had for the

first time raised a contribution of two hundred talents from their

own citizens, now sent out twelve ships to levy subsidies from their

allies, with Lysicles and four others in command. After cruising to

different places and laying them under contribution, Lysicles went

up the country from Myus, in Caria, across the plain of the Meander,

as far as the hill of Sandius; and being attacked by the Carians and

the people of Anaia, was slain with many of his soldiers.


The same winter the Plataeans, who were still being besieged by the

Peloponnesians and Boeotians, distressed by the failure of their provisions,

and seeing no hope of relief from Athens, nor any other means of safety,

formed a scheme with the Athenians besieged with them for escaping,

if possible, by forcing their way over the enemy’s walls; the attempt

having been suggested by Theaenetus, son of Tolmides, a soothsayer,

and Eupompides, son of Daimachus, one of their generals. At first

all were to join: afterwards, half hung back, thinking the risk great;

about two hundred and twenty, however, voluntarily persevered in the

attempt, which was carried out in the following way. Ladders were

made to match the height of the enemy’s wall, which they measured

by the layers of bricks, the side turned towards them not being thoroughly

whitewashed. These were counted by many persons at once; and though

some might miss the right calculation, most would hit upon it, particularly

as they counted over and over again, and were no great way from the

wall, but could see it easily enough for their purpose. The length

required for the ladders was thus obtained, being calculated from

the breadth of the brick.


Now the wall of the Peloponnesians was constructed as follows. It

consisted of two lines drawn round the place, one against the Plataeans,

the other against any attack on the outside from Athens, about sixteen

feet apart. The intermediate space of sixteen feet was occupied by

huts portioned out among the soldiers on guard, and built in one block,

so as to give the appearance of a single thick wall with battlements

on either side. At intervals of every ten battlements were towers

of considerable size, and the same breadth as the wall, reaching right

across from its inner to its outer face, with no means of passing

except through the middle. Accordingly on stormy and wet nights the

battlements were deserted, and guard kept from the towers, which were

not far apart and roofed in above.


Such being the structure of the wall by which the Plataeans were blockaded,

when their preparations were completed, they waited for a stormy night

of wind and rain and without any moon, and then set out, guided by

the authors of the enterprise. Crossing first the ditch that ran round

the town, they next gained the wall of the enemy unperceived by the

sentinels, who did not see them in the darkness, or hear them, as

the wind drowned with its roar the noise of their approach; besides

which they kept a good way off from each other, that they might not

be betrayed by the clash of their weapons. They were also lightly

equipped, and had only the left foot shod to preserve them from slipping

in the mire. They came up to the battlements at one of the intermediate

spaces where they knew them to be unguarded: those who carried the

ladders went first and planted them; next twelve light-armed soldiers

with only a dagger and a breastplate mounted, led by Ammias, son of

Coroebus, who was the first on the wall; his followers getting up

after him and going six to each of the towers. After these came another

party of light troops armed with spears, whose shields, that they

might advance the easier, were carried by men behind, who were to

hand them to them when they found themselves in presence of the enemy.

After a good many had mounted they were discovered by the sentinels

in the towers, by the noise made by a tile which was knocked down

by one of the Plataeans as he was laying hold of the battlements.

The alarm was instantly given, and the troops rushed to the wall,

not knowing the nature of the danger, owing to the dark night and

stormy weather; the Plataeans in the town having also chosen that

moment to make a sortie against the wall of the Peloponnesians upon

the side opposite to that on which their men were getting over, in

order to divert the attention of the besiegers. Accordingly they remained

distracted at their several posts, without any venturing to stir to

give help from his own station, and at a loss to guess what was going

on. Meanwhile the three hundred set aside for service on emergencies

went outside the wall in the direction of the alarm. Fire-signals

of an attack were also raised towards Thebes; but the Plataeans in

the town at once displayed a number of others, prepared beforehand

for this very purpose, in order to render the enemy’s signals unintelligible,

and to prevent his friends getting a true idea of what was passing

and coming to his aid before their comrades who had gone out should

have made good their escape and be in safety.


Meanwhile the first of the scaling party that had got up, after carrying

both the towers and putting the sentinels to the sword, posted themselves

inside to prevent any one coming through against them; and rearing

ladders from the wall, sent several men up on the towers, and from

their summit and base kept in check all of the enemy that came up,

with their missiles, while their main body planted a number of ladders

against the wall, and knocking down the battlements, passed over between

the towers; each as soon as he had got over taking up his station

at the edge of the ditch, and plying from thence with arrows and darts

any who came along the wall to stop the passage of his comrades. When

all were over, the party on the towers came down, the last of them

not without difficulty, and proceeded to the ditch, just as the three

hundred came up carrying torches. The Plataeans, standing on the edge

of the ditch in the dark, had a good view of their opponents, and

discharged their arrows and darts upon the unarmed parts of their

bodies, while they themselves could not be so well seen in the obscurity

for the torches; and thus even the last of them got over the ditch,

though not without effort and difficulty; as ice had formed in it,

not strong enough to walk upon, but of that watery kind which generally

comes with a wind more east than north, and the snow which this wind

had caused to fall during the night had made the water in the ditch

rise, so. that they could scarcely breast it as they crossed. However,

it was mainly the violence of the storm that enabled them to effect

their escape at all.


Starting from the ditch, the Plataeans went all together along the

road leading to Thebes, keeping the chapel of the hero Androcrates

upon their right; considering that the last road which the Peloponnesians

would suspect them of having taken would be that towards their enemies’

country. Indeed they could see them pursuing with torches upon the

Athens road towards Cithaeron and Druoskephalai or Oakheads. After

going for rather more than half a mile upon the road to Thebes, the

Plataeans turned off and took that leading to the mountain, to Erythrae

and Hysiae, and reaching the hills, made good their escape to Athens,

two hundred and twelve men in all; some of their number having turned

back into the town before getting over the wall, and one archer having

been taken prisoner at the outer ditch. Meanwhile the Peloponnesians

gave up the pursuit and returned to their posts; and the Plataeans

in the town, knowing nothing of what had passed, and informed by those

who had turned back that not a man had escaped, sent out a herald

as soon as it was day to make a truce for the recovery of the dead

bodies, and then, learning the truth, desisted. In this way the Plataean

party got over and were saved.


Towards the close of the same winter, Salaethus, a Lacedaemonian,

was sent out in a galley from Lacedaemon to Mitylene. Going by sea

to Pyrrha, and from thence overland, he passed along the bed of a

torrent, where the line of circumvallation was passable, and thus

entering unperceived into Mitylene told the magistrates that Attica

would certainly be invaded, and the forty ships destined to relieve

them arrive, and that he had been sent on to announce this and to

superintend matters generally. The Mitylenians upon this took courage,

and laid aside the idea of treating with the Athenians; and now this

winter ended, and with it ended the fourth year of the war of which

Thucydides was the historian.


The next summer the Peloponnesians sent off the forty-two ships for

Mitylene, under Alcidas, their high admiral, and themselves and their

allies invaded Attica, their object being to distract the Athenians

by a double movement, and thus to make it less easy for them to act

against the fleet sailing to Mitylene. The commander in this invasion

was Cleomenes, in the place of King Pausanias, son of Pleistoanax,

his nephew, who was still a minor. Not content with laying waste whatever

had shot up in the parts which they had before devastated, the invaders

now extended their ravages to lands passed over in their previous

incursions; so that this invasion was more severely felt by the Athenians

than any except the second; the enemy staying on and on until they

had overrun most of the country, in the expectation of hearing from

Lesbos of something having been achieved by their fleet, which they

thought must now have got over. However, as they did not obtain any

of the results expected, and their provisions began to run short,

they retreated and dispersed to their different cities.


In the meantime the Mitylenians, finding their provisions failing,

while the fleet from Peloponnese was loitering on the way instead

of appearing at Mitylene, were compelled to come to terms with the

Athenians in the following manner. Salaethus having himself ceased

to expect the fleet to arrive, now armed the commons with heavy armour,

which they had not before possessed, with the intention of making

a sortie against the Athenians. The commons, however, no sooner found

themselves possessed of arms than they refused any longer to obey

their officers; and forming in knots together, told the authorities

to bring out in public the provisions and divide them amongst them

all, or they would themselves come to terms with the Athenians and

deliver up the city.


The government, aware of their inability to prevent this, and of the

danger they would be in, if left out of the capitulation, publicly

agreed with Paches and the army to surrender Mitylene at discretion

and to admit the troops into the town; upon the understanding that

the Mitylenians should be allowed to send an embassy to Athens to

plead their cause, and that Paches should not imprison, make slaves

of, or put to death any of the citizens until its return. Such were

the terms of the capitulation; in spite of which the chief authors

of the negotiation with Lacedaemon were so completely overcome by

terror when the army entered that they went and seated themselves

by the altars, from which they were raised up by Paches under promise

that he would do them no wrong, and lodged by him in Tenedos, until

he should learn the pleasure of the Athenians concerning them. Paches

also sent some galleys and seized Antissa, and took such other military

measures as he thought advisable.


Meanwhile the Peloponnesians in the forty ships, who ought to have

made all haste to relieve Mitylene, lost time in coming round Peloponnese

itself, and proceeding leisurely on the remainder of the voyage, made

Delos without having been seen by the Athenians at Athens, and from

thence arriving at Icarus and Myconus, there first heard of the fall

of Mitylene. Wishing to know the truth, they put into Embatum, in

the Erythraeid, about seven days after the capture of the town. Here

they learned the truth, and began to consider what they were to do;

and Teutiaplus, an Elean, addressed them as follows:


“Alcidas and Peloponnesians who share with me the command of this

armament, my advice is to sail just as we are to Mitylene, before

we have been heard of. We may expect to find the Athenians as much

off their guard as men generally are who have just taken a city: this

will certainly be so by sea, where they have no idea of any enemy

attacking them, and where our strength, as it happens, mainly lies;

while even their land forces are probably scattered about the houses

in the carelessness of victory. If therefore we were to fall upon

them suddenly and in the night, I have hopes, with the help of the

well-wishers that we may have left inside the town, that we shall

become masters of the place. Let us not shrink from the risk, but

let us remember that this is just the occasion for one of the baseless

panics common in war: and that to be able to guard against these in

one’s own case, and to detect the moment when an attack will find

an enemy at this disadvantage, is what makes a successful general.”


These words of Teutiaplus failing to move Alcidas, some of the Ionian

exiles and the Lesbians with the expedition began to urge him, since

this seemed too dangerous, to seize one of the Ionian cities or the

Aeolic town of Cyme, to use as a base for effecting the revolt of

Ionia. This was by no means a hopeless enterprise, as their coming

was welcome everywhere; their object would be by this move to deprive

Athens of her chief source of revenue, and at the same time to saddle

her with expense, if she chose to blockade them; and they would probably

induce Pissuthnes to join them in the war. However, Alcidas gave this

proposal as bad a reception as the other, being eager, since he had

come too late for Mitylene, to find himself back in Peloponnese as

soon as possible.


Accordingly he put out from Embatum and proceeded along shore; and

touching at the Teian town, Myonnesus, there butchered most of the

prisoners that he had taken on his passage. Upon his coming to anchor

at Ephesus, envoys came to him from the Samians at Anaia, and told

him that he was not going the right way to free Hellas in massacring

men who had never raised a hand against him, and who were not enemies

of his, but allies of Athens against their will, and that if he did

not stop he would turn many more friends into enemies than enemies

into friends. Alcidas agreed to this, and let go all the Chians still

in his hands and some of the others that he had taken; the inhabitants,

instead of flying at the sight of his vessels, rather coming up to

them, taking them for Athenian, having no sort of expectation that

while the Athenians commanded the sea Peloponnesian ships would venture

over to Ionia.


From Ephesus Alcidas set sail in haste and fled. He had been seen

by the Salaminian and Paralian galleys, which happened to be sailing

from Athens, while still at anchor off Clarus; and fearing pursuit

he now made across the open sea, fully determined to touch nowhere,

if he could help it, until he got to Peloponnese. Meanwhile news of

him had come in to Paches from the Erythraeid, and indeed from all

quarters. As Ionia was unfortified, great fears were felt that the

Peloponnesians coasting along shore, even if they did not intend to

stay, might make descents in passing and plunder the towns; and now

the Paralian and Salaminian, having seen him at Clarus, themselves

brought intelligence of the fact. Paches accordingly gave hot chase,

and continued the pursuit as far as the isle of Patmos, and then finding

that Alcidas had got on too far to be overtaken, came back again.

Meanwhile he thought it fortunate that, as he had not fallen in with

them out at sea, he had not overtaken them anywhere where they would

have been forced to encamp, and so give him the trouble of blockading



On his return along shore he touched, among other places, at Notium,

the port of Colophon, where the Colophonians had settled after the

capture of the upper town by Itamenes and the barbarians, who had

been called in by certain individuals in a party quarrel. The capture

of the town took place about the time of the second Peloponnesian

invasion of Attica. However, the refugees, after settling at Notium,

again split up into factions, one of which called in Arcadian and

barbarian mercenaries from Pissuthnes and, entrenching these in a

quarter apart, formed a new community with the Median party of the

Colophonians who joined them from the upper town. Their opponents

had retired into exile, and now called in Paches, who invited Hippias,

the commander of the Arcadians in the fortified quarter, to a parley,

upon condition that, if they could not agree, he was to be put back

safe and sound in the fortification. However, upon his coming out

to him, he put him into custody, though not in chains, and attacked

suddenly and took by surprise the fortification, and putting the Arcadians

and the barbarians found in it to the sword, afterwards took Hippias

into it as he had promised, and, as soon as he was inside, seized

him and shot him down. Paches then gave up Notium to the Colophonians

not of the Median party; and settlers were afterwards sent out from

Athens, and the place colonized according to Athenian laws, after

collecting all the Colophonians found in any of the cities.


Arrived at Mitylene, Paches reduced Pyrrha and Eresus; and finding

the Lacedaemonian, Salaethus, in hiding in the town, sent him off

to Athens, together with the Mitylenians that he had placed in Tenedos,

and any other persons that he thought concerned in the revolt. He

also sent back the greater part of his forces, remaining with the

rest to settle Mitylene and the rest of Lesbos as he thought best.


Upon the arrival of the prisoners with Salaethus, the Athenians at

once put the latter to death, although he offered, among other things,

to procure the withdrawal of the Peloponnesians from Plataea, which

was still under siege; and after deliberating as to what they should

do with the former, in the fury of the moment determined to put to

death not only the prisoners at Athens, but the whole adult male population

of Mitylene, and to make slaves of the women and children. It was

remarked that Mitylene had revolted without being, like the rest,

subjected to the empire; and what above all swelled the wrath of the

Athenians was the fact of the Peloponnesian fleet having ventured

over to Ionia to her support, a fact which was held to argue a long

meditated rebellion. They accordingly sent a galley to communicate

the decree to Paches, commanding him to lose no time in dispatching

the Mitylenians. The morrow brought repentance with it and reflection

on the horrid cruelty of a decree, which condemned a whole city to

the fate merited only by the guilty. This was no sooner perceived

by the Mitylenian ambassadors at Athens and their Athenian supporters,

than they moved the authorities to put the question again to the vote;

which they the more easily consented to do, as they themselves plainly

saw that most of the citizens wished some one to give them an opportunity

for reconsidering the matter. An assembly was therefore at once called,

and after much expression of opinion upon both sides, Cleon, son of

Cleaenetus, the same who had carried the former motion of putting

the Mitylenians to death, the most violent man at Athens, and at that

time by far the most powerful with the commons, came forward again

and spoke as follows:


“I have often before now been convinced that a democracy is incapable

of empire, and never more so than by your present change of mind in

the matter of Mitylene. Fears or plots being unknown to you in your

daily relations with each other, you feel just the same with regard

to your allies, and never reflect that the mistakes into which you

may be led by listening to their appeals, or by giving way to your

own compassion, are full of danger to yourselves, and bring you no

thanks for your weakness from your allies; entirely forgetting that

your empire is a despotism and your subjects disaffected conspirators,

whose obedience is ensured not by your suicidal concessions, but by

the superiority given you by your own strength and not their loyalty.

The most alarming feature in the case is the constant change of measures

with which we appear to be threatened, and our seeming ignorance of

the fact that bad laws which are never changed are better for a city

than good ones that have no authority; that unlearned loyalty is more

serviceable than quick-witted insubordination; and that ordinary men

usually manage public affairs better than their more gifted fellows.

The latter are always wanting to appear wiser than the laws, and to

overrule every proposition brought forward, thinking that they cannot

show their wit in more important matters, and by such behaviour too

often ruin their country; while those who mistrust their own cleverness

are content to be less learned than the laws, and less able to pick

holes in the speech of a good speaker; and being fair judges rather

than rival athletes, generally conduct affairs successfully. These

we ought to imitate, instead of being led on by cleverness and intellectual

rivalry to advise your people against our real opinions.


“For myself, I adhere to my former opinion, and wonder at those who

have proposed to reopen the case of the Mitylenians, and who are thus

causing a delay which is all in favour of the guilty, by making the

sufferer proceed against the offender with the edge of his anger blunted;

although where vengeance follows most closely upon the wrong, it best

equals it and most amply requites it. I wonder also who will be the

man who will maintain the contrary, and will pretend to show that

the crimes of the Mitylenians are of service to us, and our misfortunes

injurious to the allies. Such a man must plainly either have such

confidence in his rhetoric as to adventure to prove that what has

been once for all decided is still undetermined, or be bribed to try

to delude us by elaborate sophisms. In such contests the state gives

the rewards to others, and takes the dangers for herself. The persons

to blame are you who are so foolish as to institute these contests;

who go to see an oration as you would to see a sight, take your facts

on hearsay, judge of the practicability of a project by the wit of

its advocates, and trust for the truth as to past events not to the

fact which you saw more than to the clever strictures which you heard;

the easy victims of new-fangled arguments, unwilling to follow received

conclusions; slaves to every new paradox, despisers of the commonplace;

the first wish of every man being that he could speak himself, the

next to rival those who can speak by seeming to be quite up with their

ideas by applauding every hit almost before it is made, and by being

as quick in catching an argument as you are slow in foreseeing its

consequences; asking, if I may so say, for something different from

the conditions under which we live, and yet comprehending inadequately

those very conditions; very slaves to the pleasure of the ear, and

more like the audience of a rhetorician than the council of a city.


“In order to keep you from this, I proceed to show that no one state

has ever injured you as much as Mitylene. I can make allowance for

those who revolt because they cannot bear our empire, or who have

been forced to do so by the enemy. But for those who possessed an

island with fortifications; who could fear our enemies only by sea,

and there had their own force of galleys to protect them; who were

independent and held in the highest honour by you- to act as these

have done, this is not revolt- revolt implies oppression; it is deliberate

and wanton aggression; an attempt to ruin us by siding with our bitterest

enemies; a worse offence than a war undertaken on their own account

in the acquisition of power. The fate of those of their neighbours

who had already rebelled and had been subdued was no lesson to them;

their own prosperity could not dissuade them from affronting danger;

but blindly confident in the future, and full of hopes beyond their

power though not beyond their ambition, they declared war and made

their decision to prefer might to right, their attack being determined

not by provocation but by the moment which seemed propitious. The

truth is that great good fortune coming suddenly and unexpectedly

tends to make a people insolent; in most cases it is safer for mankind

to have success in reason than out of reason; and it is easier for

them, one may say, to stave off adversity than to preserve prosperity.

Our mistake has been to distinguish the Mitylenians as we have done:

had they been long ago treated like the rest, they never would have

so far forgotten themselves, human nature being as surely made arrogant

by consideration as it is awed by firmness. Let them now therefore

be punished as their crime requires, and do not, while you condemn

the aristocracy, absolve the people. This is certain, that all attacked

you without distinction, although they might have come over to us

and been now again in possession of their city. But no, they thought

it safer to throw in their lot with the aristocracy and so joined

their rebellion! Consider therefore: if you subject to the same punishment

the ally who is forced to rebel by the enemy, and him who does so

by his own free choice, which of them, think you, is there that will

not rebel upon the slightest pretext; when the reward of success is

freedom, and the penalty of failure nothing so very terrible? We meanwhile

shall have to risk our money and our lives against one state after

another; and if successful, shall receive a ruined town from which

we can no longer draw the revenue upon which our strength depends;

while if unsuccessful, we shall have an enemy the more upon our hands,

and shall spend the time that might be employed in combating our existing

foes in warring with our own allies.


“No hope, therefore, that rhetoric may instil or money purchase, of

the mercy due to human infirmity must be held out to the Mitylenians.

Their offence was not involuntary, but of malice and deliberate; and

mercy is only for unwilling offenders. I therefore, now as before,

persist against your reversing your first decision, or giving way

to the three failings most fatal to empire- pity, sentiment, and indulgence.

Compassion is due to those who can reciprocate the feeling, not to

those who will never pity us in return, but are our natural and necessary

foes: the orators who charm us with sentiment may find other less

important arenas for their talents, in the place of one where the

city pays a heavy penalty for a momentary pleasure, themselves receiving

fine acknowledgments for their fine phrases; while indulgence should

be shown towards those who will be our friends in future, instead

of towards men who will remain just what they were, and as much our

enemies as before. To sum up shortly, I say that if you follow my

advice you will do what is just towards the Mitylenians, and at the

same time expedient; while by a different decision you will not oblige

them so much as pass sentence upon yourselves. For if they were right

in rebelling, you must be wrong in ruling. However, if, right or wrong,

you determine to rule, you must carry out your principle and punish

the Mitylenians as your interest requires; or else you must give up

your empire and cultivate honesty without danger. Make up your minds,

therefore, to give them like for like; and do not let the victims

who escaped the plot be more insensible than the conspirators who

hatched it; but reflect what they would have done if victorious over

you, especially they were the aggressors. It is they who wrong their

neighbour without a cause, that pursue their victim to the death,

on account of the danger which they foresee in letting their enemy

survive; since the object of a wanton wrong is more dangerous, if

he escape, than an enemy who has not this to complain of. Do not,

therefore, be traitors to yourselves, but recall as nearly as possible

the moment of suffering and the supreme importance which you then

attached to their reduction; and now pay them back in their turn,

without yielding to present weakness or forgetting the peril that

once hung over you. Punish them as they deserve, and teach your other

allies by a striking example that the penalty of rebellion is death.

Let them once understand this and you will not have so often to neglect

your enemies while you are fighting with your own confederates.”


Such were the words of Cleon. After him Diodotus, son of Eucrates,

who had also in the previous assembly spoken most strongly against

putting the Mitylenians to death, came forward and spoke as follows:


“I do not blame the persons who have reopened the case of the Mitylenians,

nor do I approve the protests which we have heard against important

questions being frequently debated. I think the two things most opposed

to good counsel are haste and passion; haste usually goes hand in

hand with folly, passion with coarseness and narrowness of mind. As

for the argument that speech ought not to be the exponent of action,

the man who uses it must be either senseless or interested: senseless

if he believes it possible to treat of the uncertain future through

any other medium; interested if, wishing to carry a disgraceful measure

and doubting his ability to speak well in a bad cause, he thinks to

frighten opponents and hearers by well-aimed calumny. What is still

more intolerable is to accuse a speaker of making a display in order

to be paid for it. If ignorance only were imputed, an unsuccessful

speaker might retire with a reputation for honesty, if not for wisdom;

while the charge of dishonesty makes him suspected, if successful,

and thought, if defeated, not only a fool but a rogue. The city is

no gainer by such a system, since fear deprives it of its advisers;

although in truth, if our speakers are to make such assertions, it

would be better for the country if they could not speak at all, as

we should then make fewer blunders. The good citizen ought to triumph

not by frightening his opponents but by beating them fairly in argument;

and a wise city, without over-distinguishing its best advisers, will

nevertheless not deprive them of their due, and, far from punishing

an unlucky counsellor, will not even regard him as disgraced. In this

way successful orators would be least tempted to sacrifice their convictions

to popularity, in the hope of still higher honours, and unsuccessful

speakers to resort to the same popular arts in order to win over the



“This is not our way; and, besides, the moment that a man is suspected

of giving advice, however good, from corrupt motives, we feel such

a grudge against him for the gain which after all we are not certain

he will receive, that we deprive the city of its certain benefit.

Plain good advice has thus come to be no less suspected than bad;

and the advocate of the most monstrous measures is not more obliged

to use deceit to gain the people, than the best counsellor is to lie

in order to be believed. The city and the city only, owing to these

refinements, can never be served openly and without disguise; he who

does serve it openly being always suspected of serving himself in

some secret way in return. Still, considering the magnitude of the

interests involved, and the position of affairs, we orators must make

it our business to look a little farther than you who judge offhand;

especially as we, your advisers, are responsible, while you, our audience,

are not so. For if those who gave the advice, and those who took it,

suffered equally, you would judge more calmly; as it is, you visit

the disasters into which the whim of the moment may have led you upon

the single person of your adviser, not upon yourselves, his numerous

companions in error.


“However, I have not come forward either to oppose or to accuse in

the matter of Mitylene; indeed, the question before us as sensible

men is not their guilt, but our interests. Though I prove them ever

so guilty, I shall not, therefore, advise their death, unless it be

expedient; nor though they should have claims to indulgence, shall

I recommend it, unless it be dearly for the good of the country. I

consider that we are deliberating for the future more than for the

present; and where Cleon is so positive as to the useful deterrent

effects that will follow from making rebellion capital, I, who consider

the interests of the future quite as much as he, as positively maintain

the contrary. And I require you not to reject my useful considerations

for his specious ones: his speech may have the attraction of seeming

the more just in your present temper against Mitylene; but we are

not in a court of justice, but in a political assembly; and the question

is not justice, but how to make the Mitylenians useful to Athens.


“Now of course communities have enacted the penalty of death for many

offences far lighter than this: still hope leads men to venture, and

no one ever yet put himself in peril without the inward conviction

that he would succeed in his design. Again, was there ever city rebelling

that did not believe that it possessed either in itself or in its

alliances resources adequate to the enterprise? All, states and individuals,

are alike prone to err, and there is no law that will prevent them;

or why should men have exhausted the list of punishments in search

of enactments to protect them from evildoers? It is probable that

in early times the penalties for the greatest offences were less severe,

and that, as these were disregarded, the penalty of death has been

by degrees in most cases arrived at, which is itself disregarded in

like manner. Either then some means of terror more terrible than this

must be discovered, or it must be owned that this restraint is useless;

and that as long as poverty gives men the courage of necessity, or

plenty fills them with the ambition which belongs to insolence and

pride, and the other conditions of life remain each under the thraldom

of some fatal and master passion, so long will the impulse never be

wanting to drive men into danger. Hope also and cupidity, the one

leading and the other following, the one conceiving the attempt, the

other suggesting the facility of succeeding, cause the widest ruin,

and, although invisible agents, are far stronger than the dangers

that are seen. Fortune, too, powerfully helps the delusion and, by

the unexpected aid that she sometimes lends, tempts men to venture

with inferior means; and this is especially the case with communities,

because the stakes played for are the highest, freedom or empire,

and, when all are acting together, each man irrationally magnifies

his own capacity. In fine, it is impossible to prevent, and only great

simplicity can hope to prevent, human nature doing what it has once

set its mind upon, by force of law or by any other deterrent force



“We must not, therefore, commit ourselves to a false policy through

a belief in the efficacy of the punishment of death, or exclude rebels

from the hope of repentance and an early atonement of their error.

Consider a moment. At present, if a city that has already revolted

perceive that it cannot succeed, it will come to terms while it is

still able to refund expenses, and pay tribute afterwards. In the

other case, what city, think you, would not prepare better than is

now done, and hold out to the last against its besiegers, if it is

all one whether it surrender late or soon? And how can it be otherwise

than hurtful to us to be put to the expense of a siege, because surrender

is out of the question; and if we take the city, to receive a ruined

town from which we can no longer draw the revenue which forms our

real strength against the enemy? We must not, therefore, sit as strict

judges of the offenders to our own prejudice, but rather see how by

moderate chastisements we may be enabled to benefit in future by the

revenue-producing powers of our dependencies; and we must make up

our minds to look for our protection not to legal terrors but to careful

administration. At present we do exactly the opposite. When a free

community, held in subjection by force, rises, as is only natural,

and asserts its independence, it is no sooner reduced than we fancy

ourselves obliged to punish it severely; although the right course

with freemen is not to chastise them rigorously when they do rise,

but rigorously to watch them before they rise, and to prevent their

ever entertaining the idea, and, the insurrection suppressed, to make

as few responsible for it as possible.


“Only consider what a blunder you would commit in doing as Cleon recommends.

As things are at present, in all the cities the people is your friend,

and either does not revolt with the oligarchy, or, if forced to do

so, becomes at once the enemy of the insurgents; so that in the war

with the hostile city you have the masses on your side. But if you

butcher the people of Mitylene, who had nothing to do with the revolt,

and who, as soon as they got arms, of their own motion surrendered

the town, first you will commit the crime of killing your benefactors;

and next you will play directly into the hands of the higher classes,

who when they induce their cities to rise, will immediately have the

people on their side, through your having announced in advance the

same punishment for those who are guilty and for those who are not.

On the contrary, even if they were guilty, you ought to seem not to

notice it, in order to avoid alienating the only class still friendly

to us. In short, I consider it far more useful for the preservation

of our empire voluntarily to put up with injustice, than to put to

death, however justly, those whom it is our interest to keep alive.

As for Cleon’s idea that in punishment the claims of justice and expediency

can both be satisfied, facts do not confirm the possibility of such

a combination.


“Confess, therefore, that this is the wisest course, and without conceding

too much either to pity or to indulgence, by neither of which motives

do I any more than Cleon wish you to be influenced, upon the plain

merits of the case before you, be persuaded by me to try calmly those

of the Mitylenians whom Paches sent off as guilty, and to leave the

rest undisturbed. This is at once best for the future, and most terrible

to your enemies at the present moment; inasmuch as good policy against

an adversary is superior to the blind attacks of brute force.”


Such were the words of Diodotus. The two opinions thus expressed were

the ones that most directly contradicted each other; and the Athenians,

notwithstanding their change of feeling, now proceeded to a division,

in which the show of hands was almost equal, although the motion of

Diodotus carried the day. Another galley was at once sent off in haste,

for fear that the first might reach Lesbos in the interval, and the

city be found destroyed; the first ship having about a day and a night’s

start. Wine and barley-cakes were provided for the vessel by the Mitylenian

ambassadors, and great promises made if they arrived in time; which

caused the men to use such diligence upon the voyage that they took

their meals of barley-cakes kneaded with oil and wine as they rowed,

and only slept by turns while the others were at the oar. Luckily

they met with no contrary wind, and the first ship making no haste

upon so horrid an errand, while the second pressed on in the manner

described, the first arrived so little before them, that Paches had

only just had time to read the decree, and to prepare to execute the

sentence, when the second put into port and prevented the massacre.

The danger of Mitylene had indeed been great.


The other party whom Paches had sent off as the prime movers in the

rebellion, were upon Cleon’s motion put to death by the Athenians,

the number being rather more than a thousand. The Athenians also demolished

the walls of the Mitylenians, and took possession of their ships.

Afterwards tribute was not imposed upon the Lesbians; but all their

land, except that of the Methymnians, was divided into three thousand

allotments, three hundred of which were reserved as sacred for the

gods, and the rest assigned by lot to Athenian shareholders, who were

sent out to the island. With these the Lesbians agreed to pay a rent

of two minae a year for each allotment, and cultivated the land themselves.

The Athenians also took possession of the towns on the continent belonging

to the Mitylenians, which thus became for the future subject to Athens.

Such were the events that took place at Lesbos.


Chapter X


Fifth Year of the War – Trial and Execution of the Plataeans – Corcyraean



During the same summer, after the reduction of Lesbos, the Athenians

under Nicias, son of Niceratus, made an expedition against the island

of Minoa, which lies off Megara and was used as a fortified post by

the Megarians, who had built a tower upon it. Nicias wished to enable

the Athenians to maintain their blockade from this nearer station

instead of from Budorum and Salamis; to stop the Peloponnesian galleys

and privateers sailing out unobserved from the island, as they had

been in the habit of doing; and at the same time prevent anything

from coming into Megara. Accordingly, after taking two towers projecting

on the side of Nisaea, by engines from the sea, and clearing the entrance

into the channel between the island and the shore, he next proceeded

to cut off all communication by building a wall on the mainland at

the point where a bridge across a morass enabled succours to be thrown

into the island, which was not far off from the continent. A few days

sufficing to accomplish this, he afterwards raised some works in the

island also, and leaving a garrison there, departed with his forces.


About the same time in this summer, the Plataeans, being now without

provisions and unable to support the siege, surrendered to the Peloponnesians

in the following manner. An assault had been made upon the wall, which

the Plataeans were unable to repel. The Lacedaemonian commander, perceiving

their weakness, wished to avoid taking the place by storm; his instructions

from Lacedaemon having been so conceived, in order that if at any

future time peace should be made with Athens, and they should agree

each to restore the places that they had taken in the war, Plataea

might be held to have come over voluntarily, and not be included in

the list. He accordingly sent a herald to them to ask if they were

willing voluntarily to surrender the town to the Lacedaemonians, and

accept them as their judges, upon the understanding that the guilty

should be punished, but no one without form of law. The Plataeans

were now in the last state of weakness, and the herald had no sooner

delivered his message than they surrendered the town. The Peloponnesians

fed them for some days until the judges from Lacedaemon, who were

five in number, arrived. Upon their arrival no charge was preferred;

they simply called up the Plataeans, and asked them whether they had

done the Lacedaemonians and allies any service in the war then raging.

The Plataeans asked leave to speak at greater length, and deputed

two of their number to represent them: Astymachus, son of Asopolaus,

and Lacon, son of Aeimnestus, proxenus of the Lacedaemonians, who

came forward and spoke as follows:


“Lacedaemonians, when we surrendered our city we trusted in you, and

looked forward to a trial more agreeable to the forms of law than

the present, to which we had no idea of being subjected; the judges

also in whose hands we consented to place ourselves were you, and

you only (from whom we thought we were most likely to obtain justice),

and not other persons, as is now the case. As matters stand, we are

afraid that we have been doubly deceived. We have good reason to suspect,

not only that the issue to be tried is the most terrible of all, but

that you will not prove impartial; if we may argue from the fact that

no accusation was first brought forward for us to answer, but we had

ourselves to ask leave to speak, and from the question being put so

shortly, that a true answer to it tells against us, while a false

one can be contradicted. In this dilemma, our safest, and indeed our

only course, seems to be to say something at all risks: placed as

we are, we could scarcely be silent without being tormented by the

damning thought that speaking might have saved us. Another difficulty

that we have to encounter is the difficulty of convincing you. Were

we unknown to each other we might profit by bringing forward new matter

with which you were unacquainted: as it is, we can tell you nothing

that you do not know already, and we fear, not that you have condemned

us in your own minds of having failed in our duty towards you, and

make this our crime, but that to please a third party we have to submit

to a trial the result of which is already decided. Nevertheless, we

will place before you what we can justly urge, not only on the question

of the quarrel which the Thebans have against us, but also as addressing

you and the rest of the Hellenes; and we will remind you of our good

services, and endeavour to prevail with you.


“To your short question, whether we have done the Lacedaemonians and

allies any service in this war, we say, if you ask us as enemies,

that to refrain from serving you was not to do you injury; if as friends,

that you are more in fault for having marched against us. During the

peace, and against the Mede, we acted well: we have not now been the

first to break the peace, and we were the only Boeotians who then

joined in defending against the Mede the liberty of Hellas. Although

an inland people, we were present at the action at Artemisium; in

the battle that took place in our territory we fought by the side

of yourselves and Pausanias; and in all the other Hellenic exploits

of the time we took a part quite out of proportion to our strength.

Besides, you, as Lacedaemonians, ought not to forget that at the time

of the great panic at Sparta, after the earthquake, caused by the

secession of the Helots to Ithome, we sent the third part of our citizens

to assist you.


“On these great and historical occasions such was the part that we

chose, although afterwards we became your enemies. For this you were

to blame. When we asked for your alliance against our Theban oppressors,

you rejected our petition, and told us to go to the Athenians who

were our neighbours, as you lived too far off. In the war we never

have done to you, and never should have done to you, anything unreasonable.

If we refused to desert the Athenians when you asked us, we did no

wrong; they had helped us against the Thebans when you drew back,

and we could no longer give them up with honour; especially as we

had obtained their alliance and had been admitted to their citizenship

at our own request, and after receiving benefits at their hands; but

it was plainly our duty loyally to obey their orders. Besides, the

faults that either of you may commit in your supremacy must be laid,

not upon the followers, but on the chiefs that lead them astray.


“With regard to the Thebans, they have wronged us repeatedly, and

their last aggression, which has been the means of bringing us into

our present position, is within your own knowledge. In seizing our

city in time of peace, and what is more at a holy time in the month,

they justly encountered our vengeance, in accordance with the universal

law which sanctions resistance to an invader; and it cannot now be

right that we should suffer on their account. By taking your own immediate

interest and their animosity as the test of justice, you will prove

yourselves to be rather waiters on expediency than judges of right;

although if they seem useful to you now, we and the rest of the Hellenes

gave you much more valuable help at a time of greater need. Now you

are the assailants, and others fear you; but at the crisis to which

we allude, when the barbarian threatened all with slavery, the Thebans

were on his side. It is just, therefore, to put our patriotism then

against our error now, if error there has been; and you will find

the merit outweighing the fault, and displayed at a juncture when

there were few Hellenes who would set their valour against the strength

of Xerxes, and when greater praise was theirs who preferred the dangerous

path of honour to the safe course of consulting their own interest

with respect to the invasion. To these few we belonged, and highly

were we honoured for it; and yet we now fear to perish by having again

acted on the same principles, and chosen to act well with Athens sooner

than wisely with Sparta. Yet in justice the same cases should be decided

in the same way, and policy should not mean anything else than lasting

gratitude for the service of good ally combined with a proper attention

to one’s own immediate interest.


“Consider also that at present the Hellenes generally regard you as

a pattern of worth and honour; and if you pass an unjust sentence

upon us in this which is no obscure cause, but one in which you, the

judges, are as illustrious as we, the prisoners, are blameless, take

care that displeasure be not felt at an unworthy decision in the matter

of honourable men made by men yet more honourable than they, and at

the consecration in the national temples of spoils taken from the

Plataeans, the benefactors of Hellas. Shocking indeed will it seem

for Lacedaemonians to destroy Plataea, and for the city whose name

your fathers inscribed upon the tripod at Delphi for its good service,

to be by you blotted out from the map of Hellas, to please the Thebans.

To such a depth of misfortune have we fallen that, while the Medes’

success had been our ruin, Thebans now supplant us in your once fond

regards; and we have been subjected to two dangers, the greatest of

any- that of dying of starvation then, if we had not surrendered our

town, and now of being tried for our lives. So that we Plataeans,

after exertions beyond our power in the cause of the Hellenes, are

rejected by all, forsaken and unassisted; helped by none of our allies,

and reduced to doubt the stability of our only hope, yourselves.


“Still, in the name of the gods who once presided over our confederacy,

and of our own good service in the Hellenic cause, we adjure you to

relent; to recall the decision which we fear that the Thebans may

have obtained from you; to ask back the gift that you have given them,

that they disgrace not you by slaying us; to gain a pure instead of

a guilty gratitude, and not to gratify others to be yourselves rewarded

with shame. Our lives may be quickly taken, but it will be a heavy

task to wipe away the infamy of the deed; as we are no enemies whom

you might justly punish, but friends forced into taking arms against

you. To grant us our lives would be, therefore, a righteous judgment;

if you consider also that we are prisoners who surrendered of their

own accord, stretching out our hands for quarter, whose slaughter

Hellenic law forbids, and who besides were always your benefactors.

Look at the sepulchres of your fathers, slain by the Medes and buried

in our country, whom year by year we honoured with garments and all

other dues, and the first-fruits of all that our land produced in

their season, as friends from a friendly country and allies to our

old companions in arms. Should you not decide aright, your conduct

would be the very opposite to ours. Consider only: Pausanias buried

them thinking that he was laying them in friendly ground and among

men as friendly; but you, if you kill us and make the Plataean territory

Theban, will leave your fathers and kinsmen in a hostile soil and

among their murderers, deprived of the honours which they now enjoy.

What is more, you will enslave the land in which the freedom of the

Hellenes was won, make desolate the temples of the gods to whom they

prayed before they overcame the Medes, and take away your ancestral

sacrifices from those who founded and instituted them.


“It were not to your glory, Lacedaemonians, either to offend in this

way against the common law of the Hellenes and against your own ancestors,

or to kill us your benefactors to gratify another’s hatred without

having been wronged yourselves: it were more so to spare us and to

yield to the impressions of a reasonable compassion; reflecting not

merely on the awful fate in store for us, but also on the character

of the sufferers, and on the impossibility of predicting how soon

misfortune may fall even upon those who deserve it not. We, as we

have a right to do and as our need impels us, entreat you, calling

aloud upon the gods at whose common altar all the Hellenes worship,

to hear our request, to be not unmindful of the oaths which your fathers

swore, and which we now plead- we supplicate you by the tombs of your

fathers, and appeal to those that are gone to save us from falling

into the hands of the Thebans and their dearest friends from being

given up to their most detested foes. We also remind you of that day

on which we did the most glorious deeds, by your fathers’ sides, we

who now on this are like to suffer the most dreadful fate. Finally,

to do what is necessary and yet most difficult for men in our situation-

that is, to make an end of speaking, since with that ending the peril

of our lives draws near- in conclusion we say that we did not surrender

our city to the Thebans (to that we would have preferred inglorious

starvation), but trusted in and capitulated to you; and it would be

just, if we fail to persuade you, to put us back in the same position

and let us take the chance that falls to us. And at the same time

we adjure you not to give us up- your suppliants, Lacedaemonians,

out of your hands and faith, Plataeans foremost of the Hellenic patriots,

to Thebans, our most hated enemies- but to be our saviours, and not,

while you free the rest of the Hellenes, to bring us to destruction.”


Such were the words of the Plataeans. The Thebans, afraid that the

Lacedaemonians might be moved by what they had heard, came forward

and said that they too desired to address them, since the Plataeans

had, against their wish, been allowed to speak at length instead of

being confined to a simple answer to the question. Leave being granted,

the Thebans spoke as follows:


“We should never have asked to make this speech if the Plataeans on

their side had contented themselves with shortly answering the question,

and had not turned round and made charges against us, coupled with

a long defence of themselves upon matters outside the present inquiry

and not even the subject of accusation, and with praise of what no

one finds fault with. However, since they have done so, we must answer

their charges and refute their self-praise, in order that neither

our bad name nor their good may help them, but that you may hear the

real truth on both points, and so decide.


“The origin of our quarrel was this. We settled Plataea some time

after the rest of Boeotia, together with other places out of which

we had driven the mixed population. The Plataeans not choosing to

recognize our supremacy, as had been first arranged, but separating

themselves from the rest of the Boeotians, and proving traitors to

their nationality, we used compulsion; upon which they went over to

the Athenians, and with them did as much harm, for which we retaliated.


“Next, when the barbarian invaded Hellas, they say that they were

the only Boeotians who did not Medize; and this is where they most

glorify themselves and abuse us. We say that if they did not Medize,

it was because the Athenians did not do so either; just as afterwards

when the Athenians attacked the Hellenes they, the Plataeans, were

again the only Boeotians who Atticized. And yet consider the forms

of our respective governments when we so acted. Our city at that juncture

had neither an oligarchical constitution in which all the nobles enjoyed

equal rights, nor a democracy, but that which is most opposed to law

and good government and nearest a tyranny- the rule of a close cabal.

These, hoping to strengthen their individual power by the success

of the Mede, kept down by force the people, and brought him into the

town. The city as a whole was not its own mistress when it so acted,

and ought not to be reproached for the errors that it committed while

deprived of its constitution. Examine only how we acted after the

departure of the Mede and the recovery of the constitution; when the

Athenians attacked the rest of Hellas and endeavoured to subjugate

our country, of the greater part of which faction had already made

them masters. Did not we fight and conquer at Coronea and liberate

Boeotia, and do we not now actively contribute to the liberation of

the rest, providing horses to the cause and a force unequalled by

that of any other state in the confederacy?


“Let this suffice to excuse us for our Medism. We will now endeavour

to show that you have injured the Hellenes more than we, and are more

deserving of condign punishment. It was in defence against us, say

you, that you became allies and citizens of Athens. If so, you ought

only to have called in the Athenians against us, instead of joining

them in attacking others: it was open to you to do this if you ever

felt that they were leading you where you did not wish to follow,

as Lacedaemon was already your ally against the Mede, as you so much

insist; and this was surely sufficient to keep us off, and above all

to allow you to deliberate in security. Nevertheless, of your own

choice and without compulsion you chose to throw your lot in with

Athens. And you say that it had been base for you to betray your benefactors;

but it was surely far baser and more iniquitous to sacrifice the whole

body of the Hellenes, your fellow confederates, who were liberating

Hellas, than the Athenians only, who were enslaving it. The return

that you made them was therefore neither equal nor honourable, since

you called them in, as you say, because you were being oppressed yourselves,

and then became their accomplices in oppressing others; although baseness

rather consists in not returning like for like than in not returning

what is justly due but must be unjustly paid.


“Meanwhile, after thus plainly showing that it was not for the sake

of the Hellenes that you alone then did not Medize, but because the

Athenians did not do so either, and you wished to side with them and

to be against the rest; you now claim the benefit of good deeds done

to please your neighbours. This cannot be admitted: you chose the

Athenians, and with them you must stand or fall. Nor can you plead

the league then made and claim that it should now protect you. You

abandoned that league, and offended against it by helping instead

of hindering the subjugation of the Aeginetans and others of its members,

and that not under compulsion, but while in enjoyment of the same

institutions that you enjoy to the present hour, and no one forcing

you as in our case. Lastly, an invitation was addressed to you before

you were blockaded to be neutral and join neither party: this you

did not accept. Who then merit the detestation of the Hellenes more

justly than you, you who sought their ruin under the mask of honour?

The former virtues that you allege you now show not to be proper to

your character; the real bent of your nature has been at length damningly

proved: when the Athenians took the path of injustice you followed



“Of our unwilling Medism and your wilful Atticizing this then is our

explanation. The last wrong wrong of which you complain consists in

our having, as you say, lawlessly invaded your town in time of peace

and festival. Here again we cannot think that we were more in fault

than yourselves. If of our own proper motion we made an armed attack

upon your city and ravaged your territory, we are guilty; but if the

first men among you in estate and family, wishing to put an end to

the foreign connection and to restore you to the common Boeotian country,

of their own free will invited us, wherein is our crime? Where wrong

is done, those who lead, as you say, are more to blame than those

who follow. Not that, in our judgment, wrong was done either by them

or by us. Citizens like yourselves, and with more at stake than you,

they opened their own walls and introduced us into their own city,

not as foes but as friends, to prevent the bad among you from becoming

worse; to give honest men their due; to reform principles without

attacking persons, since you were not to be banished from your city,

but brought home to your kindred, nor to be made enemies to any, but

friends alike to all.


“That our intention was not hostile is proved by our behaviour. We

did no harm to any one, but publicly invited those who wished to live

under a national, Boeotian government to come over to us; which as

first you gladly did, and made an agreement with us and remained tranquil,

until you became aware of the smallness of our numbers. Now it is

possible that there may have been something not quite fair in our

entering without the consent of your commons. At any rate you did

not repay us in kind. Instead of refraining, as we had done, from

violence, and inducing us to retire by negotiation, you fell upon

us in violation of your agreement, and slew some of us in fight, of

which we do not so much complain, for in that there was a certain

justice; but others who held out their hands and received quarter,

and whose lives you subsequently promised us, you lawlessly butchered.

If this was not abominable, what is? And after these three crimes

committed one after the other- the violation of your agreement, the

murder of the men afterwards, and the lying breach of your promise

not to kill them, if we refrained from injuring your property in the

country- you still affirm that we are the criminals and yourselves

pretend to escape justice. Not so, if these your judges decide aright,

but you will be punished for all together.


“Such, Lacedaemonians, are the facts. We have gone into them at some

length both on your account and on our own, that you may fed that

you will justly condemn the prisoners, and we, that we have given

an additional sanction to our vengeance. We would also prevent you

from being melted by hearing of their past virtues, if any such they

had: these may be fairly appealed to by the victims of injustice,

but only aggravate the guilt of criminals, since they offend against

their better nature. Nor let them gain anything by crying and wailing,

by calling upon your fathers’ tombs and their own desolate condition.

Against this we point to the far more dreadful fate of our youth,

butchered at their hands; the fathers of whom either fell at Coronea,

bringing Boeotia over to you, or seated, forlorn old men by desolate

hearths, with far more reason implore your justice upon the prisoners.

The pity which they appeal to is rather due to men who suffer unworthily;

those who suffer justly as they do are on the contrary subjects for

triumph. For their present desolate condition they have themselves

to blame, since they wilfully rejected the better alliance. Their

lawless act was not provoked by any action of ours: hate, not justice,

inspired their decision; and even now the satisfaction which they

afford us is not adequate; they will suffer by a legal sentence, not

as they pretend as suppliants asking for quarter in battle, but as

prisoners who have surrendered upon agreement to take their trial.

Vindicate, therefore, Lacedaemonians, the Hellenic law which they

have broken; and to us, the victims of its violation, grant the reward

merited by our zeal. Nor let us be supplanted in your favour by their

harangues, but offer an example to the Hellenes, that the contests

to which you invite them are of deeds, not words: good deeds can be

shortly stated, but where wrong is done a wealth of language is needed

to veil its deformity. However, if leading powers were to do what

you are now doing, and putting one short question to all alike were

to decide accordingly, men would be less tempted to seek fine phrases

to cover bad actions.”


Such were the words of the Thebans. The Lacedaemonian judges decided

that the question whether they had received any service from the Plataeans

in the war, was a fair one for them to put; as they had always invited

them to be neutral, agreeably to the original covenant of Pausanias

after the defeat of the Mede, and had again definitely offered them

the same conditions before the blockade. This offer having been refused,

they were now, they conceived, by the loyalty of their intention released

from their covenant; and having, as they considered, suffered evil

at the hands of the Plataeans, they brought them in again one by one

and asked each of them the same question, that is to say, whether

they had done the Lacedaemonians and allies any service in the war;

and upon their saying that they had not, took them out and slew them,

all without exception. The number of Plataeans thus massacred was

not less than two hundred, with twenty-five Athenians who had shared

in the siege. The women were taken as slaves. The city the Thebans

gave for about a year to some political emigrants from Megara and

to the surviving Plataeans of their own party to inhabit, and afterwards

razed it to the ground from the very foundations, and built on to

the precinct of Hera an inn two hundred feet square, with rooms all

round above and below, making use for this purpose of the roofs and

doors of the Plataeans: of the rest of the materials in the wall,

the brass and the iron, they made couches which they dedicated to

Hera, for whom they also built a stone chapel of a hundred feet square.

The land they confiscated and let out on a ten years’ lease to Theban

occupiers. The adverse attitude of the Lacedaemonians in the whole

Plataean affair was mainly adopted to please the Thebans, who were

thought to be useful in the war at that moment raging. Such was the

end of Plataea, in the ninety-third year after she became the ally

of Athens.


Meanwhile, the forty ships of the Peloponnesians that had gone to

the relief of the Lesbians, and which we left flying across the open

sea, pursued by the Athenians, were caught in a storm off Crete, and

scattering from thence made their way to Peloponnese, where they found

at Cyllene thirteen Leucadian and Ambraciot galleys, with Brasidas,

son of Tellis, lately arrived as counsellor to Alcidas; the Lacedaemonians,

upon the failure of the Lesbian expedition, having resolved to strengthen

their fleet and sail to Corcyra, where a revolution had broken out,

so as to arrive there before the twelve Athenian ships at Naupactus

could be reinforced from Athens. Brasidas and Alcidas began to prepare



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

galley, 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 galley arriving in the island with

Lacedaemonian envoys, the dominant Corcyraean party attacked the commons

and defeated them in battle. 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 harbour; their

adversaries occupying the market-place, where most of them lived,

and the harbour 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 continent.


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. Towards

dusk, the oligarchs in full rout, fearing that the victorious commons

might assault and carry the arsenal and put them to the sword, fired

the houses round the marketplace and the lodging-houses, in order

to bar their advance; sparing neither their own, nor those of their

neighbours; by which much stuff of the merchants was consumed and

the city risked total destruction, if a wind had come to help the

flame by blowing on it. Hostilities now ceasing, both sides kept quiet,

passing the night on guard, while the Corinthian ship stole out to

sea upon the victory of the commons, and most of the mercenaries passed

over secretly to the continent.


The next day the Athenian general, Nicostratus, son of Diitrephes,

came up from Naupactus with twelve ships and five hundred Messenian

heavy infantry. He at once endeavoured to bring about a settlement,

and persuaded the two parties to agree together to bring to trial

ten of the ringleaders, who presently fled, while the rest were to

live in peace, making terms with each other, and entering into a defensive

and offensive alliance with the Athenians. This arranged, he was about

to sail away, when the leaders of the commons induced him to leave

them five of his ships to make their adversaries less disposed to

move, while they manned and sent with him an equal number of their

own. He had no sooner consented, than they began to enroll their enemies

for the ships; and these, fearing that they might be sent off to Athens,

seated themselves as suppliants in the temple of the Dioscuri. An

attempt on the part of Nicostratus to reassure them and to persuade

them to rise proving unsuccessful, the commons armed upon this pretext,

alleging the refusal of their adversaries to sail with them as a proof

of the hollowness of their intentions, and took their arms out of

their houses, and would have dispatched some whom they fell in with,

if Nicostratus had not prevented it. The rest of the party, seeing

what was going on, seated themselves as suppliants in the temple of

Hera, being not less than four hundred in number; until the commons,

fearing that they might adopt some desperate resolution, induced them

to rise, and conveyed them over to the island in front of the temple,

where provisions were sent across to them.


At this stage in the revolution, on the fourth or fifth day after

the removal of the men to the island, the Peloponnesian ships arrived

from Cyllene where they had been stationed since their return from

Ionia, fifty-three in number, still under the command of Alcidas,

but with Brasidas also on board as his adviser; and dropping anchor

at Sybota, a harbour on the mainland, at daybreak made sail for Corcyra.


The Corcyraeans in great confusion and alarm at the state of things

in the city and at the approach of the invader, at once proceeded

to equip sixty vessels, which they sent out, as fast as they were

manned, against the enemy, in spite of the Athenians recommending

them to let them sail out first, and to follow themselves afterwards

with all their ships to. gether. Upon their vessels coming up to the

enemy in this straggling fashion, two immediately deserted: in others

the crews were fighting among themselves, and there was no order in

anything that was done; so that the Peloponnesians, seeing their confusion,

placed twenty ships to oppose the Corcyraeans, and ranged the rest

against the twelve Athenian ships, amongst which were the two vessels

Salaminia and Paralus.


While the Corcyraeans, attacking without judgment and in small detachments,

were already crippled by their own misconduct, the Athenians, afraid

of the numbers of the enemy and of being surrounded, did not venture

to attack the main body or even the centre of the division opposed

to them, but fell upon its wing and sank one vessel; after which the

Peloponnesians formed in a circle, and the Athenians rowed round them

and tried to throw them into disorder. Perceiving this, the division

opposed to the Corcyraeans, fearing a repetition of the disaster of

Naupactus, came to support their friends, and the whole fleet now

bore down, united, upon the Athenians, who retired before it, backing

water, retiring as leisurely as possible in order to give the Corcyraeans

time to escape, while the enemy was thus kept occupied. Such was the

character of this sea-fight, which lasted until sunset.


The Corcyraeans now feared that the enemy would follow up their victory

and sail against the town and rescue the men in the island, or strike

some other blow equally decisive, and accordingly carried the men

over again to the temple of Hera, and kept guard over the city. The

Peloponnesians, however, although victorious in the sea-fight, did

not venture to attack the town, but took the thirteen Corcyraean vessels

which they had captured, and with them sailed back to the continent

from whence they had put out. The next day equally they refrained

from attacking the city, although the disorder and panic were at their

height, and though Brasidas, it is said, urged Alcidas, his superior

officer, to do so, but they landed upon the promontory of Leukimme

and laid waste the country.


Meanwhile the commons in Corcyra, being still in great fear of the

fleet attacking them, came to a parley with the suppliants and their

friends, in order to save the town; and prevailed upon some of them

to go on board the ships, of which they still manned thirty, against

the expected attack. But the Peloponnesians after ravaging the country

until midday sailed away, and towards nightfall were informed by beacon

signals of the approach of sixty Athenian vessels from Leucas, under

the command of Eurymedon, son of Thucles; which had been sent off

by the Athenians upon the news of the revolution and of the fleet

with Alcidas being about to sail for Corcyra.


The Peloponnesians accordingly at once set off in haste by night for

home, coasting along shore; and hauling their ships across the Isthmus

of Leucas, in order not to be seen doubling it, so departed. The Corcyraeans,

made aware of the approach of the Athenian fleet and of the departure

of the enemy, brought the Messenians from outside the walls into the

town, and ordered the fleet which they had manned to sail round into

the Hyllaic harbour; and while it was so doing, slew such of their

enemies as they laid hands on, dispatching afterwards, as they landed

them, those whom they had persuaded to go on board the ships. Next

they went to the sanctuary of Hera and persuaded about fifty men to

take their trial, and condemned them all to death. The mass of the

suppliants who had refused to do so, on seeing what was taking place,

slew each other there in the consecrated ground; while some hanged

themselves upon the trees, and others destroyed themselves as they

were severally able. During seven days that Eurymedon stayed with

his sixty ships, the Corcyraeans were engaged in butchering those

of their fellow citizens whom they regarded as their enemies: and

although the crime imputed was that of attempting to put down the

democracy, some were slain also for private hatred, others by their

debtors because of the moneys owed to them. Death thus raged in every

shape; and, as usually happens at such times, there was no length

to which violence did not go; sons were killed by their fathers, and

suppliants dragged from the altar or slain upon it; while some were

even walled up in the temple of Dionysus and died there.


So bloody was the march of the revolution, and the impression which

it made was the greater as it was one of the first to occur. Later

on, one may say, the whole Hellenic world was convulsed; struggles

being every, where made by the popular chiefs to bring in the Athenians,

and by the oligarchs to introduce the Lacedaemonians. In peace there

would have been neither the pretext nor the wish to make such an invitation;

but in war, with an alliance always at the command of either faction

for the hurt of their adversaries and their own corresponding advantage,

opportunities for bringing in the foreigner were never wanting to

the revolutionary parties. The sufferings which revolution entailed

upon the cities were many and terrible, such as have occurred and

always will occur, as long as the nature of mankind remains the same;

though in a severer or milder form, and varying in their symptoms,

according to the variety of the particular cases. In peace and prosperity,

states and individuals have better sentiments, because they do not

find themselves suddenly confronted with imperious necessities; but

war takes away the easy supply of daily wants, and so proves a rough

master, that brings most men’s characters to a level with their fortunes.

Revolution thus ran its course from city to city, and the places which

it arrived at last, from having heard what had been done before, carried

to a still greater excess the refinement of their inventions, as manifested

in the cunning of their enterprises and the atrocity of their reprisals.

Words had to change their ordinary meaning and to take that which

was now given them. Reckless audacity came to be considered the courage

of a loyal ally; prudent hesitation, specious cowardice; moderation

was held to be a cloak for unmanliness; ability to see all sides of

a question, inaptness to act on any. Frantic violence became the attribute

of manliness; cautious plotting, a justifiable means of self-defence.

The advocate of extreme measures was always trustworthy; his opponent

a man to be suspected. To succeed in a plot was to have a shrewd head,

to divine a plot a still shrewder; but to try to provide against having

to do either was to break up your party and to be afraid of your adversaries.

In fine, to forestall an intending criminal, or to suggest the idea

of a crime where it was wanting, was equally commended until even

blood became a weaker tie than party, from the superior readiness

of those united by the latter to dare everything without reserve;

for such associations had not in view the blessings derivable from

established institutions but were formed by ambition for their overthrow;

and the confidence of their members in each other rested less on any

religious sanction than upon complicity in crime. The fair proposals

of an adversary were met with jealous precautions by the stronger

of the two, and not with a generous confidence. Revenge also was held

of more account than self-preservation. Oaths of reconciliation, being

only proffered on either side to meet an immediate difficulty, only

held good so long as no other weapon was at hand; but when opportunity

offered, he who first ventured to seize it and to take his enemy off

his guard, thought this perfidious vengeance sweeter than an open

one, since, considerations of safety apart, success by treachery won

him the palm of superior intelligence. Indeed it is generally the

case that men are readier to call rogues clever than simpletons honest,

and are as ashamed of being the second as they are proud of being

the first. The cause of all these evils was the lust for power arising

from greed and ambition; and from these passions proceeded the violence

of parties once engaged in contention. The leaders in the cities,

each provided with the fairest professions, on the one side with the

cry of political equality of the people, on the other of a moderate

aristocracy, sought prizes for themselves in those public interests

which they pretended to cherish, and, recoiling from no means in their

struggles for ascendancy engaged in the direst excesses; in their

acts of vengeance they went to even greater lengths, not stopping

at what justice or the good of the state demanded, but making the

party caprice of the moment their only standard, and invoking with

equal readiness the condemnation of an unjust verdict or the authority

of the strong arm to glut the animosities of the hour. Thus religion

was in honour with neither party; but the use of fair phrases to arrive

at guilty ends was in high reputation. Meanwhile the moderate part

of the citizens perished between the two, either for not joining in

the quarrel, or because envy would not suffer them to escape.


Thus every form of iniquity took root in the Hellenic countries by

reason of the troubles. The ancient simplicity into which honour so

largely entered was laughed down and disappeared; and society became

divided into camps in which no man trusted his fellow. To put an end

to this, there was neither promise to be depended upon, nor oath that

could command respect; but all parties dwelling rather in their calculation

upon the hopelessness of a permanent state of things, were more intent

upon self-defence than capable of confidence. In this contest the

blunter wits were most successful. Apprehensive of their own deficiencies

and of the cleverness of their antagonists, they feared to be worsted

in debate and to be surprised by the combinations of their more versatile

opponents, and so at once boldly had recourse to action: while their

adversaries, arrogantly thinking that they should know in time, and

that it was unnecessary to secure by action what policy afforded,

often fell victims to their want of precaution.


Meanwhile Corcyra gave the first example of most of the crimes alluded

to; of the reprisals exacted by the governed who had never experienced

equitable treatment or indeed aught but insolence from their rulers-

when their hour came; of the iniquitous resolves of those who desired

to get rid of their accustomed poverty, and ardently coveted their

neighbours’ goods; and lastly, of the savage and pitiless excesses

into which men who had begun the struggle, not in a class but in a

party spirit, were hurried by their ungovernable passions. In the

confusion into which life was now thrown in the cities, human nature,

always rebelling against the law and now its master, gladly showed

itself ungoverned in passion, above respect for justice, and the enemy

of all superiority; since revenge would not have been set above religion,

and gain above justice, had it not been for the fatal power of envy.

Indeed men too often take upon themselves in the prosecution of their

revenge to set the example of doing away with those general laws to

which all alike can look for salvation in adversity, instead of allowing

them to subsist against the day of danger when their aid may be required.


While the revolutionary passions thus for the first time displayed

themselves in the factions of Corcyra, Eurymedon and the Athenian

fleet sailed away; after which some five hundred Corcyraean exiles

who had succeeded in escaping, took some forts on the mainland, and

becoming masters of the Corcyraean territory over the water, made

this their base to Plunder their countrymen in the island, and did

so much damage as to cause a severe famine in the town. They also

sent envoys to Lacedaemon and Corinth to negotiate their restoration;

but meeting with no success, afterwards got together boats and mercenaries

and crossed over to the island, being about six hundred in all; and

burning their boats so as to have no hope except in becoming masters

of the country, went up to Mount Istone, and fortifying themselves

there, began to annoy those in the city and obtained command of the



At the close of the same summer the Athenians sent twenty ships under

the command of Laches, son of Melanopus, and Charoeades, son of Euphiletus,

to Sicily, where the Syracusans and Leontines were at war. The Syracusans

had for allies all the Dorian cities except Camarina- these had been

included in the Lacedaemonian confederacy from the commencement of

the war, though they had not taken any active part in it- the Leontines

had Camarina and the Chalcidian cities. In Italy the Locrians were

for the Syracusans, the Rhegians for their Leontine kinsmen. The allies

of the Leontines now sent to Athens and appealed to their ancient

alliance and to their Ionian origin, to persuade the Athenians to

send them a fleet, as the Syracusans were blockading them by land

and sea. The Athenians sent it upon the plea of their common descent,

but in reality to prevent the exportation of Sicilian corn to Peloponnese

and to test the possibility of bringing Sicily into subjection. Accordingly

they established themselves at Rhegium in Italy, and from thence carried

on the war in concert with their allies.


Chapter XI


Year of the War – Campaigns of Demosthenes in Western Greece – Ruin

of Ambracia


Summer was now over. The winter following, the plague a second time

attacked the Athenians; for although it had never entirely left them,

still there had been a notable abatement in its ravages. The second

visit lasted no less than a year, the first having lasted two; and

nothing distressed the Athenians and reduced their power more than

this. No less than four thousand four hundred heavy infantry in the

ranks died of it and three hundred cavalry, besides a number of the

multitude that was never ascertained. At the same time took place

the numerous earthquakes in Athens, Euboea, and Boeotia, particularly

at Orchomenus in the last-named country.


The same winter the Athenians in Sicily and the Rhegians, with thirty

ships, made an expedition against the islands of Aeolus; it being

impossible to invade them in summer, owing to the want of water. These

islands are occupied by the Liparaeans, a Cnidian colony, who live

in one of them of no great size called Lipara; and from this as their

headquarters cultivate the rest, Didyme, Strongyle, and Hiera. In

Hiera the people in those parts believe that Hephaestus has his forge,

from the quantity of flame which they see it send out by night, and

of smoke by day. These islands lie off the coast of the Sicels and

Messinese, and were allies of the Syracusans. The Athenians laid waste

their land, and as the inhabitants did not submit, sailed back to

Rhegium. Thus the winter ended, and with it ended the fifth year of

this war, of which Thucydides was the historian.


The next summer the Peloponnesians and their allies set out to invade

Attica under the command of Agis, son of Archidamus, and went as far

as the Isthmus, but numerous earthquakes occurring, turned back again

without the invasion taking place. About the same time that these

earthquakes were so common, the sea at Orobiae, in Euboea, retiring

from the then line of coast, returned in a huge wave and invaded a

great part of the town, and retreated leaving some of it still under

water; so that what was once land is now sea; such of the inhabitants

perishing as could not run up to the higher ground in time. A similar

inundation also occurred at Atalanta, the island off the Opuntian

Locrian coast, carrying away part of the Athenian fort and wrecking

one of two ships which were drawn up on the beach. At Peparethus also

the sea retreated a little, without however any inundation following;

and an earthquake threw down part of the wall, the town hall, and

a few other buildings. The cause, in my opinion, of this phenomenon

must be sought in the earthquake. At the point where its shock has

been the most violent, the sea is driven back and, suddenly recoiling

with redoubled force, causes the inundation. Without an earthquake

I do not see how such an accident could happen.


During the same summer different operations were carried on by the

different beligerents in Sicily; by the Siceliots themselves against

each other, and by the Athenians and their allies: I shall however

confine myself to the actions in which the Athenians took part, choosing

the most important. The death of the Athenian general Charoeades,

killed by the Syracusans in battle, left Laches in the sole command

of the fleet, which he now directed in concert with the allies against

Mylae, a place belonging to the Messinese. Two Messinese battalions

in garrison at Mylae laid an ambush for the party landing from the

ships, but were routed with great slaughter by the Athenians and their

allies, who thereupon assaulted the fortification and compelled them

to surrender the Acropolis and to march with them upon Messina. This

town afterwards also submitted upon the approach of the Athenians

and their allies, and gave hostages and all other securities required.


The same summer the Athenians sent thirty ships round Peloponnese

under Demosthenes, son of Alcisthenes, and Procles, son of Theodorus,

and sixty others, with two thousand heavy infantry, against Melos,

under Nicias, son of Niceratus; wishing to reduce the Melians, who,

although islanders, refused to be subjects of Athens or even to join

her confederacy. The devastation of their land not procuring their

submission, the fleet, weighing from Melos, sailed to Oropus in the

territory of Graea, and landing at nightfall, the heavy infantry started

at once from the ships by land for Tanagra in Boeotia, where they

were met by the whole levy from Athens, agreeably to a concerted signal,

under the command of Hipponicus, son of Callias, and Eurymedon, son

of Thucles. They encamped, and passing that day in ravaging the Tanagraean

territory, remained there for the night; and next day, after defeating

those of the Tanagraeans who sailed out against them and some Thebans

who had come up to help the Tanagraeans, took some arms, set up a

trophy, and retired, the troops to the city and the others to the

ships. Nicias with his sixty ships coasted alongshore and ravaged

the Locrian seaboard, and so returned home.


About this time the Lacedaemonians founded their colony of Heraclea

in Trachis, their object being the following: the Malians form in

all three tribes, the Paralians, the Hiereans, and the Trachinians.

The last of these having suffered severely in a war with their neighbours

the Oetaeans, at first intended to give themselves up to Athens; but

afterwards fearing not to find in her the security that they sought,

sent to Lacedaemon, having chosen Tisamenus for their ambassador.

In this embassy joined also the Dorians from the mother country of

the Lacedaemonians, with the same request, as they themselves also

suffered from the same enemy. After hearing them, the Lacedaemonians

determined to send out the colony, wishing to assist the Trachinians

and Dorians, and also because they thought that the proposed town

would lie conveniently for the purposes of the war against the Athenians.

A fleet might be got ready there against Euboea, with the advantage

of a short passage to the island; and the town would also be useful

as a station on the road to Thrace. In short, everything made the

Lacedaemonians eager to found the place. After first consulting the

god at Delphi and receiving a favourable answer, they sent off the

colonists, Spartans, and Perioeci, inviting also any of the rest of

the Hellenes who might wish to accompany them, except Ionians, Achaeans,

and certain other nationalities; three Lacedaemonians leading as founders

of the colony, Leon, Alcidas, and Damagon. The settlement effected,

they fortified anew the city, now called Heraclea, distant about four

miles and a half from Thermopylae and two miles and a quarter from

the sea, and commenced building docks, closing the side towards Thermopylae

just by the pass itself, in order that they might be easily defended.


The foundation of this town, evidently meant to annoy Euboea (the

passage across to Cenaeum in that island being a short one), at first

caused some alarm at Athens, which the event however did nothing to

justify, the town never giving them any trouble. The reason of this

was as follows. The Thessalians, who were sovereign in those parts,

and whose territory was menaced by its foundation, were afraid that

it might prove a very powerful neighbour, and accordingly continually

harassed and made war upon the new settlers, until they at last wore

them out in spite of their originally considerable numbers, people

flocking from all quarters to a place founded by the Lacedaemonians,

and thus thought secure of prosperity. On the other hand the Lacedaemonians

themselves, in the persons of their governors, did their full share

towards ruining its prosperity and reducing its population, as they

frightened away the greater part of the inhabitants by governing harshly

and in some cases not fairly, and thus made it easier for their neighbours

to prevail against them.


The same summer, about the same time that the Athenians were detained

at Melos, their fellow citizens in the thirty ships cruising round

Peloponnese, after cutting off some guards in an ambush at Ellomenus

in Leucadia, subsequently went against Leucas itself with a large

armament, having been reinforced by the whole levy of the Acarnanians

except Oeniadae, and by the Zacynthians and Cephallenians and fifteen

ships from Corcyra. While the Leucadians witnessed the devastation

of their land, without and within the isthmus upon which the town

of Leucas and the temple of Apollo stand, without making any movement

on account of the overwhelming numbers of the enemy, the Acarnanians

urged Demosthenes, the Athenian general, to build a wall so as to

cut off the town from the continent, a measure which they were convinced

would secure its capture and rid them once and for all of a most troublesome



Demosthenes however had in the meanwhile been persuaded by the Messenians

that it was a fine opportunity for him, having so large an army assembled,

to attack the Aetolians, who were not only the enemies of Naupactus,

but whose reduction would further make it easy to gain the rest of

that part of the continent for the Athenians. The Aetolian nation,

although numerous and warlike, yet dwelt in unwalled villages scattered

far apart, and had nothing but light armour, and might, according

to the Messenians, be subdued without much difficulty before succours

could arrive. The plan which they recommended was to attack first

the Apodotians, next the Ophionians, and after these the Eurytanians,

who are the largest tribe in Aetolia, and speak, as is said, a language

exceedingly difficult to understand, and eat their flesh raw. These

once subdued, the rest would easily come in.


To this plan Demosthenes consented, not only to please the Messenians,

but also in the belief that by adding the Aetolians to his other continental

allies he would be able, without aid from home, to march against the

Boeotians by way of Ozolian Locris to Kytinium in Doris, keeping Parnassus

on his right until he descended to the Phocians, whom he could force

to join him if their ancient friendship for Athens did not, as he

anticipated, at once decide them to do so. Arrived in Phocis he was

already upon the frontier of Boeotia. He accordingly weighed from

Leucas, against the wish of the Acarnanians, and with his whole armament

sailed along the coast to Sollium, where he communicated to them his

intention; and upon their refusing to agree to it on account of the

non-investment of Leucas, himself with the rest of the forces, the

Cephallenians, the Messenians, and Zacynthians, and three hundred

Athenian marines from his own ships (the fifteen Corcyraean vessels

having departed), started on his expedition against the Aetolians.

His base he established at Oeneon in Locris, as the Ozolian Locrians

were allies of Athens and were to meet him with all their forces in

the interior. Being neighbours of the Aetolians and armed in the same

way, it was thought that they would be of great service upon the expedition,

from their acquaintance with the localities and the warfare of the



After bivouacking with the army in the precinct of Nemean Zeus, in

which the poet Hesiod is said to have been killed by the people of

the country, according to an oracle which had foretold that he should

die in Nemea, Demosthenes set out at daybreak to invade Aetolia. The

first day he took Potidania, the next Krokyle, and the third Tichium,

where he halted and sent back the booty to Eupalium in Locris, having

determined to pursue his conquests as far as the Ophionians, and,

in the event of their refusing to submit, to return to Naupactus and

make them the objects of a second expedition. Meanwhile the Aetolians

had been aware of his design from the moment of its formation, and

as soon as the army invaded their country came up in great force with

all their tribes; even the most remote Ophionians, the Bomiensians,

and Calliensians, who extend towards the Malian Gulf, being among

the number.


The Messenians, however, adhered to their original advice. Assuring

Demosthenes that the Aetolians were an easy conquest, they urged him

to push on as rapidly as possible, and to try to take the villages

as fast as he came up to them, without waiting until the whole nation

should be in arms against him. Led on by his advisers and trusting

in his fortune, as he had met with no opposition, without waiting

for his Locrian reinforcements, who were to have supplied him with

the light-armed darters in which he was most deficient, he advanced

and stormed Aegitium, the inhabitants flying before him and posting

themselves upon the hills above the town, which stood on high ground

about nine miles from the sea. Meanwhile the Aetolians had gathered

to the rescue, and now attacked the Athenians and their allies, running

down from the hills on every side and darting their javelins, falling

back when the Athenian army advanced, and coming on as it retired;

and for a long while the battle was of this character, alternate advance

and retreat, in both which operations the Athenians had the worst.


Still as long as their archers had arrows left and were able to use

them, they held out, the light-armed Aetolians retiring before the

arrows; but after the captain of the archers had been killed and his

men scattered, the soldiers, wearied out with the constant repetition

of the same exertions and hard pressed by the Aetolians with their

javelins, at last turned and fled, and falling into pathless gullies

and places that they were unacquainted with, thus perished, the Messenian

Chromon, their guide, having also unfortunately been killed. A great

many were overtaken in the pursuit by the swift-footed and light-armed

Aetolians, and fell beneath their javelins; the greater number however

missed their road and rushed into the wood, which had no ways out,

and which was soon fired and burnt round them by the enemy. Indeed

the Athenian army fell victims to death in every form, and suffered

all the vicissitudes of flight; the survivors escaped with difficulty

to the sea and Oeneon in Locris, whence they had set out. Many of

the allies were killed, and about one hundred and twenty Athenian

heavy infantry, not a man less, and all in the prime of life. These

were by far the best men in the city of Athens that fell during this

war. Among the slain was also Procles, the colleague of Demosthenes.

Meanwhile the Athenians took up their dead under truce from the Aetolians,

and retired to Naupactus, and from thence went in their ships to Athens;

Demosthenes staying behind in Naupactus and in the neighbourhood,

being afraid to face the Athenians after the disaster.


About the same time the Athenians on the coast of Sicily sailed to

Locris, and in a descent which they made from the ships defeated the

Locrians who came against them, and took a fort upon the river Halex.


The same summer the Aetolians, who before the Athenian expedition

had sent an embassy to Corinth and Lacedaemon, composed of Tolophus,

an Ophionian, Boriades, an Eurytanian, and Tisander, an Apodotian,

obtained that an army should be sent them against Naupactus, which

had invited the Athenian invasion. The Lacedaemonians accordingly

sent off towards autumn three thousand heavy infantry of the allies,

five hundred of whom were from Heraclea, the newly founded city in

Trachis, under the command of Eurylochus, a Spartan, accompanied by

Macarius and Menedaius, also Spartans.


The army having assembled at Delphi, Eurylochus sent a herald to the

Ozolian Locrians; the road to Naupactus lying through their territory,

and he having besides conceived the idea of detaching them from Athens.

His chief abettors in Locris were the Amphissians, who were alarmed

at the hostility of the Phocians. These first gave hostages themselves,

and induced the rest to do the same for fear of the invading army;

first, their neighbours the Myonians, who held the most difficult

of the passes, and after them the Ipnians, Messapians, Tritaeans,

Chalaeans, Tolophonians, Hessians, and Oeanthians, all of whom joined

in the expedition; the Olpaeans contenting themselves with giving

hostages, without accompanying the invasion; and the Hyaeans refusing

to do either, until the capture of Polis, one of their villages.


His preparations completed, Eurylochus lodged the hostages in Kytinium,

in Doris, and advanced upon Naupactus through the country of the Locrians,

taking upon his way Oeneon and Eupalium, two of their towns that refused

to join him. Arrived in the Naupactian territory, and having been

now joined by the Aetolians, the army laid waste the land and took

the suburb of the town, which was unfortified; and after this Molycrium

also, a Corinthian colony subject to Athens. Meanwhile the Athenian

Demosthenes, who since the affair in Aetolia had remained near Naupactus,

having had notice of the army and fearing for the town, went and persuaded

the Acarnanians, although not without difficulty because of his departure

from Leucas, to go to the relief of Naupactus. They accordingly sent

with him on board his ships a thousand heavy infantry, who threw themselves

into the place and saved it; the extent of its wall and the small

number of its defenders otherwise placing it in the greatest danger.

Meanwhile Eurylochus and his companions, finding that this force had

entered and that it was impossible to storm the town, withdrew, not

to Peloponnese, but to the country once called Aeolis, and now Calydon

and Pleuron, and to the places in that neighbourhood, and Proschium

in Aetolia; the Ambraciots having come and urged them to combine with

them in attacking Amphilochian Argos and the rest of Amphilochia and

Acarnania; affirming that the conquest of these countries would bring

all the continent into alliance with Lacedaemon. To this Eurylochus

consented, and dismissing the Aetolians, now remained quiet with his

army in those parts, until the time should come for the Ambraciots

to take the field, and for him to join them before Argos.


Summer was now over. The winter ensuing, the Athenians in Sicily with

their Hellenic allies, and such of the Sicel subjects or allies of

Syracuse as had revolted from her and joined their army, marched against

the Sicel town Inessa, the acropolis of which was held by the Syracusans,

and after attacking it without being able to take it, retired. In

the retreat, the allies retreating after the Athenians were attacked

by the Syracusans from the fort, and a large part of their army routed

with great slaughter. After this, Laches and the Athenians from the

ships made some descents in Locris, and defeating the Locrians, who

came against them with Proxenus, son of Capaton, upon the river Caicinus,

took some arms and departed.


The same winter the Athenians purified Delos, in compliance, it appears,

with a certain oracle. It had been purified before by Pisistratus

the tyrant; not indeed the whole island, but as much of it as could

be seen from the temple. All of it was, however, now purified in the

following way. All the sepulchres of those that had died in Delos

were taken up, and for the future it was commanded that no one should

be allowed either to die or to give birth to a child in the island;

but that they should be carried over to Rhenea, which is so near to

Delos that Polycrates, tyrant of Samos, having added Rhenea to his

other island conquests during his period of naval ascendancy, dedicated

it to the Delian Apollo by binding it to Delos with a chain.


The Athenians, after the purification, celebrated, for the first time,

the quinquennial festival of the Delian games. Once upon a time, indeed,

there was a great assemblage of the Ionians and the neighbouring islanders

at Delos, who used to come to the festival, as the Ionians now do

to that of Ephesus, and athletic and poetical contests took place

there, and the cities brought choirs of dancers. Nothing can be clearer

on this point than the following verses of Homer, taken from a hymn

to Apollo:


Phoebus, wherever thou strayest, far or near,

Delos was still of all thy haunts most dear.

Thither the robed Ionians take their way

With wife and child to keep thy holiday,

Invoke thy favour on each manly game,

And dance and sing in honour of thy name.


That there was also a poetical contest in which the Ionians went to

contend, again is shown by the following, taken from the same hymn.

After celebrating the Delian dance of the women, he ends his song

of praise with these verses, in which he also alludes to himself:


Well, may Apollo keep you all! and so,

Sweethearts, good-bye- yet tell me not I go

Out from your hearts; and if in after hours

Some other wanderer in this world of ours

Touch at your shores, and ask your maidens here

Who sings the songs the sweetest to your ear,

Think of me then, and answer with a smile,

‘A blind old man of Scio’s rocky isle.’


Homer thus attests that there was anciently a great assembly and festival

at Delos. In later times, although the islanders and the Athenians

continued to send the choirs of dancers with sacrifices, the contests

and most of the ceremonies were abolished, probably through adversity,

until the Athenians celebrated the games upon this occasion with the

novelty of horse-races.


The same winter the Ambraciots, as they had promised Eurylochus when

they retained his army, marched out against Amphilochian Argos with

three thousand heavy infantry, and invading the Argive territory occupied

Olpae, a stronghold on a hill near the sea, which had been formerly

fortified by the Acarnanians and used as the place of assizes for

their nation, and which is about two miles and three-quarters from

the city of Argos upon the sea-coast. Meanwhile the Acarnanians went

with a part of their forces to the relief of Argos, and with the rest

encamped in Amphilochia at the place called Crenae, or the Wells,

to watch for Eurylochus and his Peloponnesians, and to prevent their

passing through and effecting their junction with the Ambraciots;

while they also sent for Demosthenes, the commander of the Aetolian

expedition, to be their leader, and for the twenty Athenian ships

that were cruising off Peloponnese under the command of Aristotle,

son of Timocrates, and Hierophon, son of Antimnestus. On their part,

the Ambraciots at Olpae sent a messenger to their own city, to beg

them to come with their whole levy to their assistance, fearing that

the army of Eurylochus might not be able to pass through the Acarnanians,

and that they might themselves be obliged to fight single-handed,

or be unable to retreat, if they wished it, without danger.


Meanwhile Eurylochus and his Peloponnesians, learning that the Ambraciots

at Olpae had arrived, set out from Proschium with all haste to join

them, and crossing the Achelous advanced through Acarnania, which

they found deserted by its population, who had gone to the relief

of Argos; keeping on their right the city of the Stratians and its

garrison, and on their left the rest of Acarnania. Traversing the

territory of the Stratians, they advanced through Phytia, next, skirting

Medeon, through Limnaea; after which they left Acarnania behind them

and entered a friendly country, that of the Agraeans. From thence

they reached and crossed Mount Thymaus, which belongs to the Agraeans,

and descended into the Argive territory after nightfall, and passing

between the city of Argos and the Acarnanian posts at Crenae, joined

the Ambraciots at Olpae.


Uniting here at daybreak, they sat down at the place called Metropolis,

and encamped. Not long afterwards the Athenians in the twenty ships

came into the Ambracian Gulf to support the Argives, with Demosthenes

and two hundred Messenian heavy infantry, and sixty Athenian archers.

While the fleet off Olpae blockaded the hill from the sea, the Acarnanians

and a few of the Amphilochians, most of whom were kept back by force

by the Ambraciots, had already arrived at Argos, and were preparing

to give battle to the enemy, having chosen Demosthenes to command

the whole of the allied army in concert with their own generals. Demosthenes

led them near to Olpae and encamped, a great ravine separating the

two armies. During five days they remained inactive; on the sixth

both sides formed in order of battle. The army of the Peloponnesians

was the largest and outflanked their opponents; and Demosthenes fearing

that his right might be surrounded, placed in ambush in a hollow way

overgrown with bushes some four hundred heavy infantry and light troops,

who were to rise up at the moment of the onset behind the projecting

left wing of the enemy, and to take them in the rear. When both sides

were ready they joined battle; Demosthenes being on the right wing

with the Messenians and a few Athenians, while the rest of the line

was made up of the different divisions of the Acarnanians, and of

the Amphilochian carters. The Peloponnesians and Ambraciots were drawn

up pell-mell together, with the exception of the Mantineans, who were

massed on the left, without however reaching to the extremity of the

wing, where Eurylochus and his men confronted the Messenians and Demosthenes.


The Peloponnesians were now well engaged and with their outflanking

wing were upon the point of turning their enemy’s right; when the

Acarnanians from the ambuscade set upon them from behind, and broke

them at the first attack, without their staying to resist; while the

panic into which they fell caused the flight of most of their army,

terrified beyond measure at seeing the division of Eurylochus and

their best troops cut to pieces. Most of the work was done by Demosthenes

and his Messenians, who were posted in this part of the field. Meanwhile

the Ambraciots (who are the best soldiers in those countries) and

the troops upon the right wing, defeated the division opposed to them

and pursued it to Argos. Returning from the pursuit, they found their

main body defeated; and hard pressed by the Acarnanians, with difficulty

made good their passage to Olpae, suffering heavy loss on the way,

as they dashed on without discipline or order, the Mantineans excepted,

who kept their ranks best of any in the army during the retreat.


The battle did not end until the evening. The next day Menedaius,

who on the death of Eurylochus and Macarius had succeeded to the sole

command, being at a loss after so signal a defeat how to stay and

sustain a siege, cut off as he was by land and by the Athenian fleet

by sea, and equally so how to retreat in safety, opened a parley with

Demosthenes and the Acarnanian generals for a truce and permission

to retreat, and at the same time for the recovery of the dead. The

dead they gave back to him, and setting up a trophy took up their

own also to the number of about three hundred. The retreat demanded

they refused publicly to the army; but permission to depart without

delay was secretly granted to the Mantineans and to Menedaius and

the other commanders and principal men of the Peloponnesians by Demosthenes

and his Acarnanian colleagues; who desired to strip the Ambraciots

and the mercenary host of foreigners of their supporters; and, above

all, to discredit the Lacedaemonians and Peloponnesians with the Hellenes

in those parts, as traitors and self-seekers.


While the enemy was taking up his dead and hastily burying them as

he could, and those who obtained permission were secretly planning

their retreat, word was brought to Demosthenes and the Acarnanians

that the Ambraciots from the city, in compliance with the first message

from Olpae, were on the march with their whole levy through Amphilochia

to join their countrymen at Olpae, knowing nothing of what had occurred.

Demosthenes prepared to march with his army against them, and meanwhile

sent on at once a strong division to beset the roads and occupy the

strong positions. In the meantime the Mantineans and others included

in the agreement went out under the pretence of gathering herbs and

firewood, and stole off by twos and threes, picking on the way the

things which they professed to have come out for, until they had gone

some distance from Olpae, when they quickened their pace. The Ambraciots

and such of the rest as had accompanied them in larger parties, seeing

them going on, pushed on in their turn, and began running in order

to catch them up. The Acarnanians at first thought that all alike

were departing without permission, and began to pursue the Peloponnesians;

and believing that they were being betrayed, even threw a dart or

two at some of their generals who tried to stop them and told them

that leave had been given. Eventually, however, they let pass the

Mantineans and Peloponnesians, and slew only the Ambraciots, there

being much dispute and difficulty in distinguishing whether a man

was an Ambraciot or a Peloponnesian. The number thus slain was about

two hundred; the rest escaped into the bordering territory of Agraea,

and found refuge with Salynthius, the friendly king of the Agraeans.


Meanwhile the Ambraciots from the city arrived at Idomene. Idomene

consists of two lofty hills, the higher of which the troops sent on

by Demosthenes succeeded in occupying after nightfall, unobserved

by the Ambraciots, who had meanwhile ascended the smaller and bivouacked

under it. After supper Demosthenes set out with the rest of the army,

as soon as it was evening; himself with half his force making for

the pass, and the remainder going by the Amphilochian hills. At dawn

he fell upon the Ambraciots while they were still abed, ignorant of

what had passed, and fully thinking that it was their own countrymen-

Demosthenes having purposely put the Messenians in front with orders

to address them in the Doric dialect, and thus to inspire confidence

in the sentinels, who would not be able to see them as it was still

night. In this way he routed their army as soon as he attacked it,

slaying most of them where they were, the rest breaking away in flight

over the hills. The roads, however, were already occupied, and while

the Amphilochians knew their own country, the Ambraciots were ignorant

of it and could not tell which way to turn, and had also heavy armour

as against a light-armed enemy, and so fell into ravines and into

the ambushes which had been set for them, and perished there. In their

manifold efforts to escape some even turned to the sea, which was

not far off, and seeing the Athenian ships coasting alongshore just

while the action was going on, swam off to them, thinking it better

in the panic they were in, to perish, if perish they must, by the

hands of the Athenians, than by those of the barbarous and detested

Amphilochians. Of the large Ambraciot force destroyed in this manner,

a few only reached the city in safety; while the Acarnanians, after

stripping the dead and setting up a trophy, returned to Argos.


The next day arrived a herald from the Ambraciots who had fled from

Olpae to the Agraeans, to ask leave to take up the dead that had fallen

after the first engagement, when they left the camp with the Mantineans

and their companions, without, like them, having had permission to

do so. At the sight of the arms of the Ambraciots from the city, the

herald was astonished at their number, knowing nothing of the disaster

and fancying that they were those of their own party. Some one asked

him what he was so astonished at, and how many of them had been killed,

fancying in his turn that this was the herald from the troops at Idomene.

He replied: “About two hundred”; upon which his interrogator took

him up, saying: “Why, the arms you see here are of more than a thousand.”

The herald replied: “Then they are not the arms of those who fought

with us?” The other answered: “Yes, they are, if at least you fought

at Idomene yesterday.” “But we fought with no one yesterday; but the

day before in the retreat.” “However that may be, we fought yesterday

with those who came to reinforce you from the city of the Ambraciots.”

When the herald heard this and knew that the reinforcement from the

city had been destroyed, he broke into wailing and, stunned at the

magnitude of the present evils, went away at once without having performed

his errand, or again asking for the dead bodies. Indeed, this was

by far the greatest disaster that befell any one Hellenic city in

an equal number of days during this war; and I have not set down the

number of the dead, because the amount stated seems so out of proportion

to the size of the city as to be incredible. In any case I know that

if the Acarnanians and Amphilochians had wished to take Ambracia as

the Athenians and Demosthenes advised, they would have done so without

a blow; as it was, they feared that if the Athenians had it they would

be worse neighbours to them than the present.


After this the Acarnanians allotted a third of the spoils to the Athenians,

and divided the rest among their own different towns. The share of

the Athenians was captured on the voyage home; the arms now deposited

in the Attic temples are three hundred panoplies, which the Acarnanians

set apart for Demosthenes, and which he brought to Athens in person,

his return to his country after the Aetolian disaster being rendered

less hazardous by this exploit. The Athenians in the twenty ships

also went off to Naupactus. The Acarnanians and Amphilochians, after

the departure of Demosthenes and the Athenians, granted the Ambraciots

and Peloponnesians who had taken refuge with Salynthius and the Agraeans

a free retreat from Oeniadae, to which place they had removed from

the country of Salynthius, and for the future concluded with the Ambraciots

a treaty and alliance for one hundred years, upon the terms following.

It was to be a defensive, not an offensive alliance; the Ambraciots

could not be required to march with the Acarnanians against the Peloponnesians,

nor the Acarnanians with the Ambraciots against the Athenians; for

the rest the Ambraciots were to give up the places and hostages that

they held of the Amphilochians, and not to give help to Anactorium,

which was at enmity with the Acarnanians. With this arrangement they

put an end to the war. After this the Corinthians sent a garrison

of their own citizens to Ambracia, composed of three hundred heavy

infantry, under the command of Xenocleides, son of Euthycles, who

reached their destination after a difficult journey across the continent.

Such was the history of the affair of Ambracia.


The same winter the Athenians in Sicily made a descent from their

ships upon the territory of Himera, in concert with the Sicels, who

had invaded its borders from the interior, and also sailed to the

islands of Aeolus. Upon their return to Rhegium they found the Athenian

general, Pythodorus, son of Isolochus, come to supersede Laches in

the command of the fleet. The allies in Sicily had sailed to Athens

and induced the Athenians to send out more vessels to their assistance,

pointing out that the Syracusans who already commanded their land

were making efforts to get together a navy, to avoid being any longer

excluded from the sea by a few vessels. The Athenians proceeded to

man forty ships to send to them, thinking that the war in Sicily would

thus be the sooner ended, and also wishing to exercise their navy.

One of the generals, Pythodorus, was accordingly sent out with a few

ships; Sophocles, son of Sostratides, and Eurymedon, son of Thucles,

being destined to follow with the main body. Meanwhile Pythodorus

had taken the command of Laches’ ships, and towards the end of winter

sailed against the Locrian fort, which Laches had formerly taken,

and returned after being defeated in battle by the Locrians.


In the first days of this spring, the stream of fire issued from Etna,

as on former occasions, and destroyed some land of the Catanians,

who live upon Mount Etna, which is the largest mountain in Sicily.

Fifty years, it is said, had elapsed since the last eruption, there

having been three in all since the Hellenes have inhabited Sicily.

Such were the events of this winter; and with it ended the sixth year

of this war, of which Thucydides was the historian.






Chapter XII


Seventh Year of the War – Occupation of Pylos – Surrender of the Spartan

Army in Sphacteria


Next summer, about the time of the corn’s coming into ear, ten Syracusan

and as many Locrian vessels sailed to Messina, in Sicily, and occupied

the town upon the invitation of the inhabitants; and Messina revolted

from the Athenians. The Syracusans contrived this chiefly because

they saw that the place afforded an approach to Sicily, and feared

that the Athenians might hereafter use it as a base for attacking

them with a larger force; the Locrians because they wished to carry

on hostilities from both sides of the strait and to reduce their enemies,

the people of Rhegium. Meanwhile, the Locrians had invaded the Rhegian

territory with all their forces, to prevent their succouring Messina,

and also at the instance of some exiles from Rhegium who were with

them; the long factions by which that town had been torn rendering

it for the moment incapable of resistance, and thus furnishing an

additional temptation to the invaders. After devastating the country

the Locrian land forces retired, their ships remaining to guard Messina,

while others were being manned for the same destination to carry on

the war from thence.


About the same time in the spring, before the corn was ripe, the Peloponnesians

and their allies invaded Attica under Agis, the son of Archidamus,

king of the Lacedaemonians, and sat down and laid waste the country.

Meanwhile the Athenians sent off the forty ships which they had been

preparing to Sicily, with the remaining generals Eurymedon and Sophocles;

their colleague Pythodorus having already preceded them thither. These

had also instructions as they sailed by to look to the Corcyraeans

in the town, who were being plundered by the exiles in the mountain.

To support these exiles sixty Peloponnesian vessels had lately sailed,

it being thought that the famine raging in the city would make it

easy for them to reduce it. Demosthenes also, who had remained without

employment since his return from Acarnania, applied and obtained permission

to use the fleet, if he wished it, upon the coast of Peloponnese.


Off Laconia they heard that the Peloponnesian ships were already at

Corcyra, upon which Eurymedon and Sophocles wished to hasten to the

island, but Demosthenes required them first to touch at Pylos and

do what was wanted there, before continuing their voyage. While they

were making objections, a squall chanced to come on and carried the

fleet into Pylos. Demosthenes at once urged them to fortify the place,

it being for this that he had come on the voyage, and made them observe

there was plenty of stone and timber on the spot, and that the place

was strong by nature, and together with much of the country round

unoccupied; Pylos, or Coryphasium, as the Lacedaemonians call it,

being about forty-five miles distant from Sparta, and situated in

the old country of the Messenians. The commanders told him that there

was no lack of desert headlands in Peloponnese if he wished to put

the city to expense by occupying them. He, however, thought that this

place was distinguished from others of the kind by having a harbour

close by; while the Messenians, the old natives of the country, speaking

the same dialect as the Lacedaemonians, could do them the greatest

mischief by their incursions from it, and would at the same time be

a trusty garrison.


After speaking to the captains of companies on the subject, and failing

to persuade either the generals or the soldiers, he remained inactive

with the rest from stress of weather; until the soldiers themselves

wanting occupation were seized with a sudden impulse to go round and

fortify the place. Accordingly they set to work in earnest, and having

no iron tools, picked up stones, and put them together as they happened

to fit, and where mortar was needed, carried it on their backs for

want of hods, stooping down to make it stay on, and clasping their

hands together behind to prevent it falling off; sparing no effort

to be able to complete the most vulnerable points before the arrival

of the Lacedaemonians, most of the place being sufficiently strong

by nature without further fortifications.


Meanwhile the Lacedaemonians were celebrating a festival, and also

at first made light of the news, in the idea that whenever they chose

to take the field the place would be immediately evacuated by the

enemy or easily taken by force; the absence of their army before Athens

having also something to do with their delay. The Athenians fortified

the place on the land side, and where it most required it, in six

days, and leaving Demosthenes with five ships to garrison it, with

the main body of the fleet hastened on their voyage to Corcyra and



As soon as the Peloponnesians in Attica heard of the occupation of

Pylos, they hurried back home; the Lacedaemonians and their king Agis

thinking that the matter touched them nearly. Besides having made

their invasion early in the season, and while the corn was still green,

most of their troops were short of provisions: the weather also was

unusually bad for the time of year, and greatly distressed their army.

Many reasons thus combined to hasten their departure and to make this

invasion a very short one; indeed they only stayed fifteen days in



About the same time the Athenian general Simonides getting together

a few Athenians from the garrisons, and a number of the allies in

those parts, took Eion in Thrace, a Mendaean colony and hostile to

Athens, by treachery, but had no sooner done so than the Chalcidians

and Bottiaeans came up and beat him out of it, with the loss of many

of his soldiers.


On the return of the Peloponnesians from Attica, the Spartans themselves

and the nearest of the Perioeci at once set out for Pylos, the other

Lacedaemonians following more slowly, as they had just come in from

another campaign. Word was also sent round Peloponnese to come up

as quickly as possible to Pylos; while the sixty Peloponnesian ships

were sent for from Corcyra, and being dragged by their crews across

the isthmus of Leucas, passed unperceived by the Athenian squadron

at Zacynthus, and reached Pylos, where the land forces had arrived

before them. Before the Peloponnesian fleet sailed in, Demosthenes

found time to send out unobserved two ships to inform Eurymedon and

the Athenians on board the fleet at Zacynthus of the danger of Pylos

and to summon them to his assistance. While the ships hastened on

their voyage in obedience to the orders of Demosthenes, the Lacedaemonians

prepared to assault the fort by land and sea, hoping to capture with

ease a work constructed in haste, and held by a feeble garrison. Meanwhile,

as they expected the Athenian ships to arrive from Zacynthus, they

intended, if they failed to take the place before, to block up the

entrances of the harbour to prevent their being able to anchor inside

it. For the island of Sphacteria, stretching along in a line close

in front of the harbour, at once makes it safe and narrows its entrances,

leaving a passage for two ships on the side nearest Pylos and the

Athenian fortifications, and for eight or nine on that next the rest

of the mainland: for the rest, the island was entirely covered with

wood, and without paths through not being inhabited, and about one

mile and five furlongs in length. The inlets the Lacedaemonians meant

to close with a line of ships placed close together, with their prows

turned towards the sea, and, meanwhile, fearing that the enemy might

make use of the island to operate against them, carried over some

heavy infantry thither, stationing others along the coast. By this

means the island and the continent would be alike hostile to the Athenians,

as they would be unable to land on either; and the shore of Pylos

itself outside the inlet towards the open sea having no harbour, and,

therefore, presenting no point which they could use as a base to relieve

their countrymen, they, the Lacedaemonians, without sea-fight or risk

would in all probability become masters of the place, occupied as

it had been on the spur of the moment, and unfurnished with provisions.

This being determined, they carried over to the island the heavy infantry,

drafted by lot from all the companies. Some others had crossed over

before in relief parties, but these last who were left there were

four hundred and twenty in number, with their Helot attendants, commanded

by Epitadas, son of Molobrus.


Meanwhile Demosthenes, seeing the Lacedaemonians about to attack him

by sea and land at once, himself was not idle. He drew up under the

fortification and enclosed in a stockade the galleys remaining to

him of those which had been left him, arming the sailors taken out

of them with poor shields made most of them of osier, it being impossible

to procure arms in such a desert place, and even these having been

obtained from a thirty-oared Messenian privateer and a boat belonging

to some Messenians who happened to have come to them. Among these

Messenians were forty heavy infantry, whom he made use of with the

rest. Posting most of his men, unarmed and armed, upon the best fortified

and strong points of the place towards the interior, with orders to

repel any attack of the land forces, he picked sixty heavy infantry

and a few archers from his whole force, and with these went outside

the wall down to the sea, where he thought that the enemy would most

likely attempt to land. Although the ground was difficult and rocky,

looking towards the open sea, the fact that this was the weakest part

of the wall would, he thought, encourage their ardour, as the Athenians,

confident in their naval superiority, had here paid little attention

to their defences, and the enemy if he could force a landing might

feel secure of taking the place. At this point, accordingly, going

down to the water’s edge, he posted his heavy infantry to prevent,

if possible, a landing, and encouraged them in the following terms:


“Soldiers and comrades in this adventure, I hope that none of you

in our present strait will think to show his wit by exactly calculating

all the perils that encompass us, but that you will rather hasten

to close with the enemy, without staying to count the odds, seeing

in this your best chance of safety. In emergencies like ours calculation

is out of place; the sooner the danger is faced the better. To my

mind also most of the chances are for us, if we will only stand fast

and not throw away our advantages, overawed by the numbers of the

enemy. One of the points in our favour is the awkwardness of the landing.

This, however, only helps us if we stand our ground. If we give way

it will be practicable enough, in spite of its natural difficulty,

without a defender; and the enemy will instantly become more formidable

from the difficulty he will have in retreating, supposing that we

succeed in repulsing him, which we shall find it easier to do, while

he is on board his ships, than after he has landed and meets us on

equal terms. As to his numbers, these need not too much alarm you.

Large as they may be he can only engage in small detachments, from

the impossibility of bringing to. Besides, the numerical superiority

that we have to meet is not that of an army on land with everything

else equal, but of troops on board ship, upon an element where many

favourable accidents are required to act with effect. I therefore

consider that his difficulties may be fairly set against our numerical

deficiencies, and at the same time I charge you, as Athenians who

know by experience what landing from ships on a hostile territory

means, and how impossible it is to drive back an enemy determined

enough to stand his ground and not to be frightened away by the surf

and the terrors of the ships sailing in, to stand fast in the present

emergency, beat back the enemy at the water’s edge, and save yourselves

and the place.”


Thus encouraged by Demosthenes, the Athenians felt more confident,

and went down to meet the enemy, posting themselves along the edge

of the sea. The Lacedaemonians now put themselves in movement and

simultaneously assaulted the fortification with their land forces

and with their ships, forty-three in number, under their admiral,

Thrasymelidas, son of Cratesicles, a Spartan, who made his attack

just where Demosthenes expected. The Athenians had thus to defend

themselves on both sides, from the land and from the sea; the enemy

rowing up in small detachments, the one relieving the other- it being

impossible for many to bring to at once- and showing great ardour

and cheering each other on, in the endeavour to force a passage and

to take the fortification. He who most distinguished himself was Brasidas.

Captain of a galley, and seeing that the captains and steersmen, impressed

by the difficulty of the position, hung back even where a landing

might have seemed possible, for fear of wrecking their vessels, he

shouted out to them, that they must never allow the enemy to fortify

himself in their country for the sake of saving timber, but must shiver

their vessels and force a landing; and bade the allies, instead of

hesitating in such a moment to sacrifice their ships for Lacedaemon

in return for her many benefits, to run them boldly aground, land

in one way or another, and make themselves masters of the place and

its garrison.


Not content with this exhortation, he forced his own steersman to

run his ship ashore, and stepping on to the gangway, was endeavouring

to land, when he was cut down by the Athenians, and after receiving

many wounds fainted away. Falling into the bows, his shield slipped

off his arm into the sea, and being thrown ashore was picked up by

the Athenians, and afterwards used for the trophy which they set up

for this attack. The rest also did their best, but were not able to

land, owing to the difficulty of the ground and the unflinching tenacity

of the Athenians. It was a strange reversal of the order of things

for Athenians to be fighting from the land, and from Laconian land

too, against Lacedaemonians coming from the sea; while Lacedaemonians

were trying to land from shipboard in their own country, now become

hostile, to attack Athenians, although the former were chiefly famous

at the time as an inland people and superior by land, the latter as

a maritime people with a navy that had no equal.


After continuing their attacks during that day and most of the next,

the Peloponnesians desisted, and the day after sent some of their

ships to Asine for timber to make engines, hoping to take by their

aid, in spite of its height, the wall opposite the harbour, where

the landing was easiest. At this moment the Athenian fleet from Zacynthus

arrived, now numbering fifty sail, having been reinforced by some

of the ships on guard at Naupactus and by four Chian vessels. Seeing

the coast and the island both crowded with heavy infantry, and the

hostile ships in harbour showing no signs of sailing out, at a loss

where to anchor, they sailed for the moment to the desert island of

Prote, not far off, where they passed the night. The next day they

got under way in readiness to engage in the open sea if the enemy

chose to put out to meet them, being determined in the event of his

not doing so to sail in and attack him. The Lacedaemonians did not

put out to sea, and having omitted to close the inlets as they had

intended, remained quiet on shore, engaged in manning their ships

and getting ready, in the case of any one sailing in, to fight in

the harbour, which is a fairly large one.


Perceiving this, the Athenians advanced against them by each inlet,

and falling on the enemy’s fleet, most of which was by this time afloat

and in line, at once put it to flight, and giving chase as far as

the short distance allowed, disabled a good many vessels and took

five, one with its crew on board; dashing in at the rest that had

taken refuge on shore, and battering some that were still being manned,

before they could put out, and lashing on to their own ships and towing

off empty others whosc crews had fled. At this sight the Lacedaemonians,

maddened by a disaster which cut off their men on the island, rushed

to the rescue, and going into the sea with their heavy armour, laid

hold of the ships and tried to drag them back, each man thinking that

success depended on his individual exertions. Great was the melee,

and quite in contradiction to the naval tactics usual to the two combatants;

the Lacedaemonians in their excitement and dismay being actually engaged

in a sea-fight on land, while the victorious Athenians, in their eagerness

to push their success as far as possible, were carrying on a land-fight

from their ships. After great exertions and numerous wounds on both

sides they separated, the Lacedaemonians saving their empty ships,

except those first taken; and both parties returning to their camp,

the Athenians set up a trophy, gave back the dead, secured the wrecks,

and at once began to cruise round and jealously watch the island,

with its intercepted garrison, while the Peloponnesians on the mainland,

whose contingents had now all come up, stayed where they were before



When the news of what had happened at Pylos reached Sparta, the disaster

was thought so serious that the Lacedaemonians resolved that the authorities

should go down to the camp, and decide on the spot what was best to

be done. There, seeing that it was impossible to help their men, and

not wishing to risk their being reduced by hunger or overpowered by

numbers, they determined, with the consent of the Athenian generals,

to conclude an armistice at Pylos and send envoys to Athens to obtain

a convention, and to endeavour to get back their men as quickly as



The generals accepting their offers, an armistice was concluded upon

the terms following:


That the Lacedaemonians should bring to Pylos and deliver up to the

Athenians the ships that had fought in the late engagement, and all

in Laconia that were vessels of war, and should make no attack on

the fortification either by land or by sea.


That the Athenians should allow the Lacedaemonians on the mainland

to send to the men in the island a certain fixed quantity of corn

ready kneaded, that is to say, two quarts of barley meal, one pint

of wine, and a piece of meat for each man, and half the same quantity

for a servant.


That this allowance should be sent in under the eyes of the Athenians,

and that no boat should sail to the island except openly.


That the Athenians should continue to the island same as before, without

however landing upon it, and should refrain from attacking the Peloponnesian

troops either by land or by sea.


That if either party should infringe any of these terms in the slightest

particular, the armistice should be at once void.


That the armistice should hold good until the return of the Lacedaemonian

envoys from Athens- the Athenians sending them thither in a galley

and bringing them back again- and upon the arrival of the envoys should

be at an end, and the ships be restored by the Athenians in the same

state as they received them.


Such were the terms of the armistice, and the ships were delivered

over to the number of sixty, and the envoys sent off accordingly.

Arrived at Athens they spoke as follows:


“Athenians, the Lacedaemonians sent us to try to find some way of

settling the affair of our men on the island, that shall be at once

satisfactory to our interests, and as consistent with our dignity

in our misfortune as circumstances permit. We can venture to speak

at some length without any departure from the habit of our country.

Men of few words where many are not wanted, we can be less brief when

there is a matter of importance to be illustrated and an end to be

served by its illustration. Meanwhile we beg you to take what we may

say, not in a hostile spirit, nor as if we thought you ignorant and

wished to lecture you, but rather as a suggestion on the best course

to be taken, addressed to intelligent judges. You can now, if you

choose, employ your present success to advantage, so as to keep what

you have got and gain honour and reputation besides, and you can avoid

the mistake of those who meet with an extraordinary piece of good

fortune, and are led on by hope to grasp continually at something

further, through having already succeeded without expecting it. While

those who have known most vicissitudes of good and bad, have also

justly least faith in their prosperity; and to teach your city and

ours this lesson experience has not been wanting.


“To be convinced of this you have only to look at our present misfortune.

What power in Hellas stood higher than we did? and yet we are come

to you, although we formerly thought ourselves more able to grant

what we are now here to ask. Nevertheless, we have not been brought

to this by any decay in our power, or through having our heads turned

by aggrandizement; no, our resources are what they have always been,

and our error has been an error of judgment, to which all are equally

liable. Accordingly, the prosperity which your city now enjoys, and

the accession that it has lately received, must not make you fancy

that fortune will be always with you. Indeed sensible men are prudent

enough to treat their gains as precarious, just as they would also

keep a clear head in adversity, and think that war, so far from staying

within the limit to which a combatant may wish to confine it, will

run the course that its chances prescribe; and thus, not being puffed

up by confidence in military success, they are less likely to come

to grief, and most ready to make peace, if they can, while their fortune

lasts. This, Athenians, you have a good opportunity to do now with

us, and thus to escape the possible disasters which may follow upon

your refusal, and the consequent imputation of having owed to accident

even your present advantages, when you might have left behind you

a reputation for power and wisdom which nothing could endanger.


“The Lacedaemonians accordingly invite you to make a treaty and to

end the war, and offer peace and alliance and the most friendly and

intimate relations in every way and on every occasion between us;

and in return ask for the men on the island, thinking it better for

both parties not to stand out to the end, on the chance of some favourable

accident enabling the men to force their way out, or of their being

compelled to succumb under the pressure of blockade. Indeed if great

enmities are ever to be really settled, we think it will be, not by

the system of revenge and military success, and by forcing an opponent

to swear to a treaty to his disadvantage, but when the more fortunate

combatant waives these his privileges, to be guided by gentler feelings

conquers his rival in generosity, and accords peace on more moderate

conditions than he expected. From that moment, instead of the debt

of revenge which violence must entail, his adversary owes a debt of

generosity to be paid in kind, and is inclined by honour to stand

to his agreement. And men oftener act in this manner towards their

greatest enemies than where the quarrel is of less importance; they

are also by nature as glad to give way to those who first yield to

them, as they are apt to be provoked by arrogance to risks condemned

by their own judgment.


“To apply this to ourselves: if peace was ever desirable for both

parties, it is surely so at the present moment, before anything irremediable

befall us and force us to hate you eternally, personally as well as

politically, and you to miss the advantages that we now offer you.

While the issue is still in doubt, and you have reputation and our

friendship in prospect, and we the compromise of our misfortune before

anything fatal occur, let us be reconciled, and for ourselves choose

peace instead of war, and grant to the rest of the Hellenes a remission

from their sufferings, for which be sure they will think they have

chiefly you to thank. The war that they labour under they know not

which began, but the peace that concludes it, as it depends on your

decision, will by their gratitude be laid to your door. By such a

decision you can become firm friends with the Lacedaemonians at their

own invitation, which you do not force from them, but oblige them

by accepting. And from this friendship consider the advantages that

are likely to follow: when Attica and Sparta are at one, the rest

of Hellas, be sure, will remain in respectful inferiority before its



Such were the words of the Lacedaemonians, their idea being that the

Athenians, already desirous of a truce and only kept back by their

opposition, would joyfully accept a peace freely offered, and give

back the men. The Athenians, however, having the men on the island,

thought that the treaty would be ready for them whenever they chose

to make it, and grasped at something further. Foremost to encourage

them in this policy was Cleon, son of Cleaenetus, a popular leader

of the time and very powerful with the multitude, who persuaded them

to answer as follows: First, the men in the island must surrender

themselves and their arms and be brought to Athens. Next, the Lacedaemonians

must restore Nisaea, Pegae, Troezen, and Achaia, all places acquired

not by arms, but by the previous convention, under which they had

been ceded by Athens herself at a moment of disaster, when a truce

was more necessary to her than at present. This done they might take

back their men, and make a truce for as long as both parties might



To this answer the envoys made no reply, but asked that commissioners

might be chosen with whom they might confer on each point, and quietly

talk the matter over and try to come to some agreement. Hereupon Cleon

violently assailed them, saying that he knew from the first that they

had no right intentions, and that it was clear enough now by their

refusing to speak before the people, and wanting to confer in secret

with a committee of two or three. No, if they meant anything honest

let them say it out before all. The Lacedaemonians, however, seeing

that whatever concessions they might be prepared to make in their

misfortune, it was impossible for them to speak before the multitude

and lose credit with their allies for a negotiation which might after

all miscarry, and on the other hand, that the Athenians would never

grant what they asked upon moderate terms, returned from Athens without

having effected anything.


Their arrival at once put an end to the armistice at Pylos, and the

Lacedaemonians asked back their ships according to the convention.

The Athenians, however, alleged an attack on the fort in contravention

of the truce, and other grievances seemingly not worth mentioning,

and refused to give them back, insisting upon the clause by which

the slightest infringement made the armistice void. The Lacedaemonians,

after denying the contravention and protesting against their bad faith

in the matter of the ships, went away and earnestly addressed themselves

to the war. Hostilities were now carried on at Pylos upon both sides

with vigour. The Athenians cruised round the island all day with two

ships going different ways; and by night, except on the seaward side

in windy weather, anchored round it with their whole fleet, which,

having been reinforced by twenty ships from Athens come to aid in

the blockade, now numbered seventy sail; while the Peloponnesians

remained encamped on the continent, making attacks on the fort, and

on the look-out for any opportunity which might offer itself for the

deliverance of their men.


Meanwhile the Syracusans and their allies in Sicily had brought up

to the squadron guarding Messina the reinforcement which we left them

preparing, and carried on the war from thence, incited chiefly by

the Locrians from hatred of the Rhegians, whose territory they had

invaded with all their forces. The Syracusans also wished to try their

fortune at sea, seeing that the Athenians had only a few ships actually

at Rhegium, and hearing that the main fleet destined to join them

was engaged in blockading the island. A naval victory, they thought,

would enable them to blockade Rhegium by sea and land, and easily

to reduce it; a success which would at once place their affairs upon

a solid basis, the promontory of Rhegium in Italy and Messina in Sicily

being so near each other that it would be impossible for the Athenians

to cruise against them and command the strait. The strait in question

consists of the sea between Rhegium and Messina, at the point where

Sicily approaches nearest to the continent, and is the Charybdis through

which the story makes Ulysses sail; and the narrowness of the passage

and the strength of the current that pours in from the vast Tyrrhenian

and Sicilian mains, have rightly given it a bad reputation.


In this strait the Syracusans and their allies were compelled to fight,

late in the day, about the passage of a boat, putting out with rather

more than thirty ships against sixteen Athenian and eight Rhegian

vessels. Defeated by the Athenians they hastily set off, each for

himself, to their own stations at Messina and Rhegium, with the loss

of one ship; night coming on before the battle was finished. After

this the Locrians retired from the Rhegian territory, and the ships

of the Syracusans and their allies united and came to anchor at Cape

Pelorus, in the territory of Messina, where their land forces joined

them. Here the Athenians and Rhegians sailed up, and seeing the ships

unmanned, made an attack, in which they in their turn lost one vessel,

which was caught by a grappling iron, the crew saving themselves by

swimming. After this the Syracusans got on board their ships, and

while they were being towed alongshore to Messina, were again attacked

by the Athenians, but suddenly got out to sea and became the assailants,

and caused them to lose another vessel. After thus holding their own

in the voyage alongshore and in the engagement as above described,

the Syracusans sailed on into the harbour of Messina.


Meanwhile the Athenians, having received warning that Camarina was

about to be betrayed to the Syracusans by Archias and his party, sailed

thither; and the Messinese took this opportunity to attack by sea

and land with all their forces their Chalcidian neighbour, Naxos.

The first day they forced the Naxians to keep their walls, and laid

waste their country; the next they sailed round with their ships,

and laid waste their land on the river Akesines, while their land

forces menaced the city. Meanwhile the Sicels came down from the high

country in great numbers, to aid against the Messinese; and the Naxians,

elated at the sight, and animated by a belief that the Leontines and

their other Hellenic allies were coming to their support, suddenly

sallied out from the town, and attacked and routed the Messinese,

killing more than a thousand of them; while the remainder suffered

severely in their retreat home, being attacked by the barbarians on

the road, and most of them cut off. The ships put in to Messina, and

afterwards dispersed for their different homes. The Leontines and

their allies, with the Athenians, upon this at once turned their arms

against the now weakened Messina, and attacked, the Athenians with

their ships on the side of the harbour, and the land forces on that

of the town. The Messinese, however, sallying out with Demoteles and

some Locrians who had been left to garrison the city after the disaster,

suddenly attacked and routed most of the Leontine army, killing a

great number; upon seeing which the Athenians landed from their ships,

and falling on the Messinese in disorder chased them back into the

town, and setting up a trophy retired to Rhegium. After this the Hellenes

in Sicily continued to make war on each other by land, without the



Meanwhile the Athenians at Pylos were still besieging the Lacedaemonians

in the island, the Peloponnesian forces on the continent remaining

where they were. The blockade was very laborious for the Athenians

from want of food and water; there was no spring except one in the

citadel of Pylos itself, and that not a large one, and most of them

were obliged to grub up the shingle on the sea beach and drink such

water as they could find. They also suffered from want of room, being

encamped in a narrow space; and as there was no anchorage for the

ships, some took their meals on shore in their turn, while the others

were anchored out at sea. But their greatest discouragement arose

from the unexpectedly long time which it took to reduce a body of

men shut up in a desert island, with only brackish water to drink,

a matter which they had imagined would take them only a few days.

The fact was that the Lacedaemonians had made advertisement for volunteers

to carry into the island ground corn, wine, cheese, and any other

food useful in a siege; high prices being offered, and freedom promised

to any of the Helots who should succeed in doing so. The Helots accordingly

were most forward to engage in this risky traffic, putting off from

this or that part of Peloponnese, and running in by night on the seaward

side of the island. They were best pleased, however, when they could

catch a wind to carry them in. It was more easy to elude the look-out

of the galleys, when it blew from the seaward, as it became impossible

for them to anchor round the island; while the Helots had their boats

rated at their value in money, and ran them ashore, without caring

how they landed, being sure to find the soldiers waiting for them

at the landing-places. But all who risked it in fair weather were

taken. Divers also swam in under water from the harbour, dragging

by a cord in skins poppyseed mixed with honey, and bruised linseed;

these at first escaped notice, but afterwards a look-out was kept

for them. In short, both sides tried every possible contrivance, the

one to throw in provisions, and the other to prevent their introduction.


At Athens, meanwhile, the news that the army was in great distress,

and that corn found its way in to the men in the island, caused no

small perplexity; and the Athenians began to fear that winter might

come on and find them still engaged in the blockade. They saw that

the convoying of provisions round Peloponnese would be then impossible.

The country offered no resources in itself, and even in summer they

could not send round enough. The blockade of a place without harbours

could no longer be kept up; and the men would either escape by the

siege being abandoned, or would watch for bad weather and sail out

in the boats that brought in their corn. What caused still more alarm

was the attitude of the Lacedaemonians, who must, it was thought by

the Athenians, feel themselves on strong ground not to send them any

more envoys; and they began to repent having rejected the treaty.

Cleon, perceiving the disfavour with which he was regarded for having

stood in the way of the convention, now said that their informants

did not speak the truth; and upon the messengers recommending them,

if they did not believe them, to send some commissioners to see, Cleon

himself and Theagenes were chosen by the Athenians as commissioners.

Aware that he would now be obliged either to say what had been already

said by the men whom he was slandering, or be proved a liar if he

said the contrary, he told the Athenians, whom he saw to be not altogether

disinclined for a fresh expedition, that instead of sending and wasting

their time and opportunities, if they believed what was told them,

they ought to sail against the men. And pointing at Nicias, son of

Niceratus, then general, whom he hated, he tauntingly said that it

would be easy, if they had men for generals, to sail with a force

and take those in the island, and that if he had himself been in command,

he would have done it.


Nicias, seeing the Athenians murmuring against Cleon for not sailing

now if it seemed to him so easy, and further seeing himself the object

of attack, told him that for all that the generals cared, he might

take what force he chose and make the attempt. At first Cleon fancied

that this resignation was merely a figure of speech, and was ready

to go, but finding that it was seriously meant, he drew back, and

said that Nicias, not he, was general, being now frightened, and having

never supposed that Nicias would go so far as to retire in his favour.

Nicias, however, repeated his offer, and resigned the command against

Pylos, and called the Athenians to witness that he did so. And as

the multitude is wont to do, the more Cleon shrank from the expedition

and tried to back out of what he had said, the more they encouraged

Nicias to hand over his command, and clamoured at Cleon to go. At

last, not knowing how to get out of his words, he undertook the expedition,

and came forward and said that he was not afraid of the Lacedaemonians,

but would sail without taking any one from the city with him, except

the Lemnians and Imbrians that were at Athens, with some targeteers

that had come up from Aenus, and four hundred archers from other quarters.

With these and the soldiers at Pylos, he would within twenty days

either bring the Lacedaemonians alive, or kill them on the spot. The

Athenians could not help laughing at his fatuity, while sensible men

comforted themselves with the reflection that they must gain in either

circumstance; either they would be rid of Cleon, which they rather

hoped, or if disappointed in this expectation, would reduce the Lacedaemonians.


After he had settled everything in the assembly, and the Athenians

had voted him the command of the expedition, he chose as his colleague

Demosthenes, one of the generals at Pylos, and pushed forward the

preparations for his voyage. His choice fell upon Demosthenes because

he heard that he was contemplating a descent on the island; the soldiers

distressed by the difficulties of the position, and rather besieged

than besiegers, being eager to fight it out, while the firing of the

island had increased the confidence of the general. He had been at

first afraid, because the island having never been inhabited was almost

entirely covered with wood and without paths, thinking this to be

in the enemy’s favour, as he might land with a large force, and yet

might suffer loss by an attack from an unseen position. The mistakes

and forces of the enemy the wood would in a great measure conceal

from him, while every blunder of his own troops would be at once detected,

and they would be thus able to fall upon him unexpectedly just where

they pleased, the attack being always in their power. If, on the other

hand, he should force them to engage in the thicket, the smaller number

who knew the country would, he thought, have the advantage over the

larger who were ignorant of it, while his own army might be cut off

imperceptibly, in spite of its numbers, as the men would not be able

to see where to succour each other.


The Aetolian disaster, which had been mainly caused by the wood, had

not a little to do with these reflections. Meanwhile, one of the soldiers

who were compelled by want of room to land on the extremities of the

island and take their dinners, with outposts fixed to prevent a surprise,

set fire to a little of the wood without meaning to do so; and as

it came on to blow soon afterwards, almost the whole was consumed

before they were aware of it. Demosthenes was now able for the first

time to see how numerous the Lacedaemonians really were, having up

to this moment been under the impression that they took in provisions

for a smaller number; he also saw that the Athenians thought success

important and were anxious about it, and that it was now easier to

land on the island, and accordingly got ready for the attempt, sent

for troops from the allies in the neighbourhood, and pushed forward

his other preparations. At this moment Cleon arrived at Pylos with

the troops which he had asked for, having sent on word to say that

he was coming. The first step taken by the two generals after their

meeting was to send a herald to the camp on the mainland, to ask if

they were disposed to avoid all risk and to order the men on the island

to surrender themselves and their arms, to be kept in gentle custody

until some general convention should be concluded.


On the rejection of this proposition the generals let one day pass,

and the next, embarking all their heavy infantry on board a few ships,

put out by night, and a little before dawn landed on both sides of

the island from the open sea and from the harbour, being about eight

hundred strong, and advanced with a run against the first post in

the island.


The enemy had distributed his force as follows: In this first post

there were about thirty heavy infantry; the centre and most level

part, where the water was, was held by the main body, and by Epitadas

their commander; while a small party guarded the very end of the island,

towards Pylos, which was precipitous on the sea-side and very difficult

to attack from the land, and where there was also a sort of old fort

of stones rudely put together, which they thought might be useful

to them, in case they should be forced to retreat. Such was their



The advanced post thus attacked by the Athenians was at once put to

the sword, the men being scarcely out of bed and still arming, the

landing having taken them by surprise, as they fancied the ships were

only sailing as usual to their stations for the night. As soon as

day broke, the rest of the army landed, that is to say, all the crews

of rather more than seventy ships, except the lowest rank of oars,

with the arms they carried, eight hundred archers, and as many targeteers,

the Messenian reinforcements, and all the other troops on duty round

Pylos, except the garrison on the fort. The tactics of Demosthenes

had divided them into companies of two hundred, more or less, and

made them occupy the highest points in order to paralyse the enemy

by surrounding him on every side and thus leaving him without any

tangible adversary, exposed to the cross-fire of their host; plied

by those in his rear if he attacked in front, and by those on one

flank if he moved against those on the other. In short, wherever he

went he would have the assailants behind him, and these light-armed

assailants, the most awkward of all; arrows, darts, stones, and slings

making them formidable at a distance, and there being no means of

getting at them at close quarters, as they could conquer flying, and

the moment their pursuer turned they were upon him. Such was the idea

that inspired Demosthenes in his conception of the descent, and presided

over its execution.


Meanwhile the main body of the troops in the island (that under Epitadas),

seeing their outpost cut off and an army advancing against them, serried

their ranks and pressed forward to close with the Athenian heavy infantry

in front of them, the light troops being upon their flanks and rear.

However, they were not able to engage or to profit by their superior

skill, the light troops keeping them in check on either side with

their missiles, and the heavy infantry remaining stationary instead

of advancing to meet them; and although they routed the light troops

wherever they ran up and approached too closely, yet they retreated

fighting, being lightly equipped, and easily getting the start in

their flight, from the difficult and rugged nature of the ground,

in an island hitherto desert, over which the Lacedaemonians could

not pursue them with their heavy armour.


After this skirmishing had lasted some little while, the Lacedaemonians

became unable to dash out with the same rapidity as before upon the

points attacked, and the light troops finding that they now fought

with less vigour, became more confident. They could see with their

own eyes that they were many times more numerous than the enemy; they

were now more familiar with his aspect and found him less terrible,

the result not having justified the apprehensions which they had suffered,

when they first landed in slavish dismay at the idea of attacking

Lacedaemonians; and accordingly their fear changing to disdain, they

now rushed all together with loud shouts upon them, and pelted them

with stones, darts, and arrows, whichever came first to hand. The

shouting accompanying their onset confounded the Lacedaemonians, unaccustomed

to this mode of fighting; dust rose from the newly burnt wood, and

it was impossible to see in front of one with the arrows and stones

flying through clouds of dust from the hands of numerous assailants.

The Lacedaemonians had now to sustain a rude conflict; their caps

would not keep out the arrows, darts had broken off in the armour

of the wounded, while they themselves were helpless for offence, being

prevented from using their eyes to see what was before them, and unable

to hear the words of command for the hubbub raised by the enemy; danger

encompassed them on every side, and there was no hope of any means

of defence or safety.


At last, after many had been already wounded in the confined space

in which they were fighting, they formed in close order and retired

on the fort at the end of the island, which was not far off, and to

their friends who held it. The moment they gave way, the light troops

became bolder and pressed upon them, shouting louder than ever, and

killed as many as they came up with in their retreat, but most of

the Lacedaemonians made good their escape to the fort, and with the

garrison in it ranged themselves all along its whole extent to repulse

the enemy wherever it was assailable. The Athenians pursuing, unable

to surround and hem them in, owing to the strength of the ground,

attacked them in front and tried to storm the position. For a long

time, indeed for most of the day, both sides held out against all

the torments of the battle, thirst, and sun, the one endeavouring

to drive the enemy from the high ground, the other to maintain himself

upon it, it being now more easy for the Lacedaemonians to defend themselves

than before, as they could not be surrounded on the flanks.


The struggle began to seem endless, when the commander of the Messenians

came to Cleon and Demosthenes, and told them that they were losing

their labour: but if they would give him some archers and light troops

to go round on the enemy’s rear by a way he would undertake to find,

he thought he could force the approach. Upon receiving what he asked

for, he started from a point out of sight in order not to be seen

by the enemy, and creeping on wherever the precipices of the island

permitted, and where the Lacedaemonians, trusting to the strength

of the ground, kept no guard, succeeded after the greatest difficulty

in getting round without their seeing him, and suddenly appeared on

the high ground in their rear, to the dismay of the surprised enemy

and the still greater joy of his expectant friends. The Lacedaemonians

thus placed between two fires, and in the same dilemma, to compare

small things with great, as at Thermopylae, where the defenders were

cut off through the Persians getting round by the path, being now

attacked in front and behind, began to give way, and overcome by the

odds against them and exhausted from want of food, retreated.


The Athenians were already masters of the approaches when Cleon and

Demosthenes perceiving that, if the enemy gave way a single step further,

they would be destroyed by their soldiery, put a stop to the battle

and held their men back; wishing to take the Lacedaemonians alive

to Athens, and hoping that their stubbornness might relax on hearing

the offer of terms, and that they might surrender and yield to the

present overwhelming danger. Proclamation was accordingly made, to

know if they would surrender themselves and their arms to the Athenians

to be dealt at their discretion.


The Lacedaemonians hearing this offer, most of them lowered their

shields and waved their hands to show that they accepted it. Hostilities

now ceased, and a parley was held between Cleon and Demosthenes and

Styphon, son of Pharax, on the other side; since Epitadas, the first

of the previous commanders, had been killed, and Hippagretas, the

next in command, left for dead among the slain, though still alive,

and thus the command had devolved upon Styphon according to the law,

in case of anything happening to his superiors. Styphon and his companions

said they wished to send a herald to the Lacedaemonians on the mainland,

to know what they were to do. The Athenians would not let any of them

go, but themselves called for heralds from the mainland, and after

questions had been carried backwards and forwards two or three times,

the last man that passed over from the Lacedaemonians on the continent

brought this message: “The Lacedaemonians bid you to decide for yourselves

so long as you do nothing dishonourable”; upon which after consulting

together they surrendered themselves and their arms. The Athenians,

after guarding them that day and night, the next morning set up a

trophy in the island, and got ready to sail, giving their prisoners

in batches to be guarded by the captains of the galleys; and the Lacedaemonians

sent a herald and took up their dead. The number of the killed and

prisoners taken in the island was as follows: four hundred and twenty

heavy infantry had passed over; three hundred all but eight were taken

alive to Athens; the rest were killed. About a hundred and twenty

of the prisoners were Spartans. The Athenian loss was small, the battle

not having been fought at close quarters.


The blockade in all, counting from the fight at sea to the battle

in the island, had lasted seventy-two days. For twenty of these, during

the absence of the envoys sent to treat for peace, the men had provisions

given them, for the rest they were fed by the smugglers. Corn and

other victual was found in the island; the commander Epitadas having

kept the men upon half rations. The Athenians and Peloponnesians now

each withdrew their forces from Pylos, and went home, and crazy as

Cleon’s promise was, he fulfilled it, by bringing the men to Athens

within the twenty days as he had pledged himself to do.


Nothing that happened in the war surprised the Hellenes so much as

this. It was the opinion that no force or famine could make the Lacedaemonians

give up their arms, but that they would fight on as they could, and

die with them in their hands: indeed people could scarcely believe

that those who had surrendered were of the same stuff as the fallen;

and an Athenian ally, who some time after insultingly asked one of

the prisoners from the island if those that had fallen were men of

honour, received for answer that the atraktos- that is, the arrow-

would be worth a great deal if it could tell men of honour from the

rest; in allusion to the fact that the killed were those whom the

stones and the arrows happened to hit.


Upon the arrival of the men the Athenians determined to keep them

in prison until the peace, and if the Peloponnesians invaded their

country in the interval, to bring them out and put them to death.

Meanwhile the defence of Pylos was not forgotten; the Messenians from

Naupactus sent to their old country, to which Pylos formerly belonged,

some of the likeliest of their number, and began a series of incursions

into Laconia, which their common dialect rendered most destructive.

The Lacedaemonians, hitherto without experience of incursions or a

warfare of the kind, finding the Helots deserting, and fearing the

march of revolution in their country, began to be seriously uneasy,

and in spite of their unwillingness to betray this to the Athenians

began to send envoys to Athens, and tried to recover Pylos and the

prisoners. The Athenians, however, kept grasping at more, and dismissed

envoy after envoy without their having effected anything. Such was

the history of the affair of Pylos.


Chapter XIII


Seventh and Eighth Years of the War – End of Corcyraean Revolution

– Peace of Gela – Capture of Nisaea


The same summer, directly after these events, the Athenians made an

expedition against the territory of Corinth with eighty ships and

two thousand Athenian heavy infantry, and two hundred cavalry on board

horse transports, accompanied by the Milesians, Andrians, and Carystians

from the allies, under the command of Nicias, son of Niceratus, with

two colleagues. Putting out to sea they made land at daybreak between

Chersonese and Rheitus, at the beach of the country underneath the

Solygian hill, upon which the Dorians in old times established themselves

and carried on war against the Aeolian inhabitants of Corinth, and

where a village now stands called Solygia. The beach where the fleet

came to is about a mile and a half from the village, seven miles from

Corinth, and two and a quarter from the Isthmus. The Corinthians had

heard from Argos of the coming of the Athenian armament, and had all

come up to the Isthmus long before, with the exception of those who

lived beyond it, and also of five hundred who were away in garrison

in Ambracia and Leucadia; and they were there in full force watching

for the Athenians to land. These last, however, gave them the slip

by coming in the dark; and being informed by signals of the fact the

Corinthians left half their number at Cenchreae, in case the Athenians

should go against Crommyon, and marched in all haste to the rescue.


Battus, one of the two generals present at the action, went with a

company to defend the village of Solygia, which was unfortified; Lycophron

remaining to give battle with the rest. The Corinthians first attacked

the right wing of the Athenians, which had just landed in front of

Chersonese, and afterwards the rest of the army. The battle was an

obstinate one, and fought throughout hand to hand. The right wing

of the Athenians and Carystians, who had been placed at the end of

the line, received and with some difficulty repulsed the Corinthians,

who thereupon retreated to a wall upon the rising ground behind, and

throwing down the stones upon them, came on again singing the paean,

and being received by the Athenians, were again engaged at close quarters.

At this moment a Corinthian company having come to the relief of the

left wing, routed and pursued the Athenian right to the sea, whence

they were in their turn driven back by the Athenians and Carystians

from the ships. Meanwhile the rest of the army on either side fought

on tenaciously, especially the right wing of the Corinthians, where

Lycophron sustained the attack of the Athenian left, which it was

feared might attempt the village of Solygia.


After holding on for a long while without either giving way, the Athenians

aided by their horse, of which the enemy had none, at length routed

the Corinthians, who retired to the hill and, halting, remained quiet

there, without coming down again. It was in this rout of the right

wing that they had the most killed, Lycophron their general being

among the number. The rest of the army, broken and put to flight in

this way without being seriously pursued or hurried, retired to the

high ground and there took up its position. The Athenians, finding

that the enemy no longer offered to engage them, stripped his dead

and took up their own and immediately set up a trophy. Meanwhile,

the half of the Corinthians left at Cenchreae to guard against the

Athenians sailing on Crommyon, although unable to see the battle for

Mount Oneion, found out what was going on by the dust, and hurried

up to the rescue; as did also the older Corinthians from the town,

upon discovering what had occurred. The Athenians seeing them all

coming against them, and thinking that they were reinforcements arriving

from the neighbouring Peloponnesians, withdrew in haste to their ships

with their spoils and their own dead, except two that they left behind,

not being able to find them, and going on board crossed over to the

islands opposite, and from thence sent a herald, and took up under

truce the bodies which they had left behind. Two hundred and twelve

Corinthians fell in the battle, and rather less than fifty Athenians.


Weighing from the islands, the Athenians sailed the same day to Crommyon

in the Corinthian territory, about thirteen miles from the city, and

coming to anchor laid waste the country, and passed the night there.

The next day, after first coasting along to the territory of Epidaurus

and making a descent there, they came to Methana between Epidaurus

and Troezen, and drew a wall across and fortified the isthmus of the

peninsula, and left a post there from which incursions were henceforth

made upon the country of Troezen, Haliae, and Epidaurus. After walling

off this spot, the fleet sailed off home.


While these events were going on, Eurymedon and Sophocles had put

to sea with the Athenian fleet from Pylos on their way to Sicily and,

arriving at Corcyra, joined the townsmen in an expedition against

the party established on Mount Istone, who had crossed over, as I

have mentioned, after the revolution and become masters of the country,

to the great hurt of the inhabitants. Their stronghold having been

taken by an attack, the garrison took refuge in a body upon some high

ground and there capitulated, agreeing to give up their mercenary

auxiliaries, lay down their arms, and commit themselves to the discretion

of the Athenian people. The generals carried them across under truce

to the island of Ptychia, to be kept in custody until they could be

sent to Athens, upon the understanding that, if any were caught running

away, all would lose the benefit of the treaty. Meanwhile the leaders

of the Corcyraean commons, afraid that the Athenians might spare the

lives of the prisoners, had recourse to the following stratagem. They

gained over some few men on the island by secretly sending friends

with instructions to provide them with a boat, and to tell them, as

if for their own sakes, that they had best escape as quickly as possible,

as the Athenian generals were going to give them up to the Corcyraean



These representations succeeding, it was so arranged that the men

were caught sailing out in the boat that was provided, and the treaty

became void accordingly, and the whole body were given up to the Corcyraeans.

For this result the Athenian generals were in a great measure responsible;

their evident disinclination to sail for Sicily, and thus to leave

to others the honour of conducting the men to Athens, encouraged the

intriguers in their design and seemed to affirm the truth of their

representations. The prisoners thus handed over were shut up by the

Corcyraeans in a large building, and afterwards taken out by twenties

and led past two lines of heavy infantry, one on each side, being

bound together, and beaten and stabbed by the men in the lines whenever

any saw pass a personal enemy; while men carrying whips went by their

side and hastened on the road those that walked too slowly.


As many as sixty men were taken out and killed in this way without

the knowledge of their friends in the building, who fancied they were

merely being moved from one prison to another. At last, however, someone

opened their eyes to the truth, upon which they called upon the Athenians

to kill them themselves, if such was their pleasure, and refused any

longer to go out of the building, and said they would do all they

could to prevent any one coming in. The Corcyraeans, not liking themselves

to force a passage by the doors, got up on the top of the building,

and breaking through the roof, threw down the tiles and let fly arrows

at them, from which the prisoners sheltered themselves as well as

they could. Most of their number, meanwhile, were engaged in dispatching

themselves by thrusting into their throats the arrows shot by the

enemy, and hanging themselves with the cords taken from some beds

that happened to be there, and with strips made from their clothing;

adopting, in short, every possible means of self-destruction, and

also falling victims to the missiles of their enemies on the roof.

Night came on while these horrors were enacting, and most of it had

passed before they were concluded. When it was day the Corcyraeans

threw them in layers upon wagons and carried them out of the city.

All the women taken in the stronghold were sold as slaves. In this

way the Corcyraeans of the mountain were destroyed by the commons;

and so after terrible excesses the party strife came to an end, at

least as far as the period of this war is concerned, for of one party

there was practically nothing left. Meanwhile the Athenians sailed

off to Sicily, their primary destination, and carried on the war with

their allies there.


At the close of the summer, the Athenians at Naupactus and the Acarnanians

made an expedition against Anactorium, the Corinthian town lying at

the mouth of the Ambracian Gulf, and took it by treachery; and the

Acarnanians themselves, sending settlers from all parts of Acarnania,

occupied the place.


Summer was now over. During the winter ensuing, Aristides, son of

Archippus, one of the commanders of the Athenian ships sent to collect

money from the allies, arrested at Eion, on the Strymon, Artaphernes,

a Persian, on his way from the King to Lacedaemon. He was conducted

to Athens, where the Athenians got his dispatches translated from

the Assyrian character and read them. With numerous references to

other subjects, they in substance told the Lacedaemonians that the

King did not know what they wanted, as of the many ambassadors they

had sent him no two ever told the same story; if however they were

prepared to speak plainly they might send him some envoys with this

Persian. The Athenians afterwards sent back Artaphernes in a galley

to Ephesus, and ambassadors with him, who heard there of the death

of King Artaxerxes, son of Xerxes, which took place about that time,

and so returned home.


The same winter the Chians pulled down their new wall at the command

of the Athenians, who suspected them of meditating an insurrection,

after first however obtaining pledges from the Athenians, and security

as far as this was possible for their continuing to treat them as

before. Thus the winter ended, and with it ended the seventh year

of this war of which Thucydides is the historian.


In first days of the next summer there was an eclipse of the sun at

the time of new moon, and in the early part of the same month an earthquake.

Meanwhile, the Mitylenian and other Lesbian exiles set out, for the

most part from the continent, with mercenaries hired in Peloponnese,

and others levied on the spot, and took Rhoeteum, but restored it

without injury on the receipt of two thousand Phocaean staters. After

this they marched against Antandrus and took the town by treachery,

their plan being to free Antandrus and the rest of the Actaean towns,

formerly owned by Mitylene but now held by the Athenians. Once fortified

there, they would have every facility for ship-building from the vicinity

of Ida and the consequent abundance of timber, and plenty of other

supplies, and might from this base easily ravage Lesbos, which was

not far off, and make themselves masters of the Aeolian towns on the



While these were the schemes of the exiles, the Athenians in the same

summer made an expedition with sixty ships, two thousand heavy infantry,

a few cavalry, and some allied troops from Miletus and other parts,

against Cythera, under the command of Nicias, son of Niceratus, Nicostratus,

son of Diotrephes, and Autocles, son of Tolmaeus. Cythera is an island

lying off Laconia, opposite Malea; the inhabitants are Lacedaemonians

of the class of the Perioeci; and an officer called the judge of Cythera

went over to the place annually from Sparta. A garrison of heavy infantry

was also regularly sent there, and great attention paid to the island,

as it was the landing-place for the merchantmen from Egypt and Libya,

and at the same time secured Laconia from the attacks of privateers

from the sea, at the only point where it is assailable, as the whole

coast rises abruptly towards the Sicilian and Cretan seas.


Coming to land here with their armament, the Athenians with ten ships

and two thousand Milesian heavy infantry took the town of Scandea,

on the sea; and with the rest of their forces landing on the side

of the island looking towards Malea, went against the lower town of

Cythera, where they found all the inhabitants encamped. A battle ensuing,

the Cytherians held their ground for some little while, and then turned

and fled into the upper town, where they soon afterwards capitulated

to Nicias and his colleagues, agreeing to leave their fate to the

decision of the Athenians, their lives only being safe. A correspondence

had previously been going on between Nicias and certain of the inhabitants,

which caused the surrender to be effected more speedily, and upon

terms more advantageous, present and future, for the Cytherians; who

would otherwise have been expelled by the Athenians on account of

their being Lacedaemonians and their island being so near to Laconia.

After the capitulation, the Athenians occupied the town of Scandea

near the harbour, and appointing a garrison for Cythera, sailed to

Asine, Helus, and most of the places on the sea, and making descents

and passing the night on shore at such spots as were convenient, continued

ravaging the country for about seven days.


The Lacedaemonians seeing the Athenians masters of Cythera, and expecting

descents of the kind upon their coasts, nowhere opposed them in force,

but sent garrisons here and there through the country, consisting

of as many heavy infantry as the points menaced seemed to require,

and generally stood very much upon the defensive. After the severe

and unexpected blow that had befallen them in the island, the occupation

of Pylos and Cythera, and the apparition on every side of a war whose

rapidity defied precaution, they lived in constant fear of internal

revolution, and now took the unusual step of raising four hundred

horse and a force of archers, and became more timid than ever in military

matters, finding themselves involved in a maritime struggle, which

their organization had never contemplated, and that against Athenians,

with whom an enterprise unattempted was always looked upon as a success

sacrificed. Besides this, their late numerous reverses of fortune,

coming close one upon another without any reason, had thoroughly unnerved

them, and they were always afraid of a second disaster like that on

the island, and thus scarcely dared to take the field, but fancied

that they could not stir without a blunder, for being new to the experience

of adversity they had lost all confidence in themselves.


Accordingly they now allowed the Athenians to ravage their seaboard,

without making any movement, the garrisons in whose neighbourhood

the descents were made always thinking their numbers insufficient,

and sharing the general feeling. A single garrison which ventured

to resist, near Cotyrta and Aphrodisia, struck terror by its charge

into the scattered mob of light troops, but retreated, upon being

received by the heavy infantry, with the loss of a few men and some

arms, for which the Athenians set up a trophy, and then sailed off

to Cythera. From thence they sailed round to Epidaurus Limera, ravaged

part of the country, and so came to Thyrea in the Cynurian territory,

upon the Argive and Laconian border. This district had been given

by its Lacedaemonian owners to the expelled Aeginetans to inhabit,

in return for their good offices at the time of the earthquake and

the rising of the Helots; and also because, although subjects of Athens,

they had always sided with Lacedaemon.


While the Athenians were still at sea, the Aeginetans evacuated a

fort which they were building upon the coast, and retreated into the

upper town where they lived, rather more than a mile from the sea.

One of the Lacedaemonian district garrisons which was helping them

in the work, refused to enter here with them at their entreaty, thinking

it dangerous to shut themselves up within the wall, and retiring to

the high ground remained quiet, not considering themselves a match

for the enemy. Meanwhile the Athenians landed, and instantly advanced

with all their forces and took Thyrea. The town they burnt, pillaging

what was in it; the Aeginetans who were not slain in action they took

with them to Athens, with Tantalus, son of Patrocles, their Lacedaemonian

commander, who had been wounded and taken prisoner. They also took

with them a few men from Cythera whom they thought it safest to remove.

These the Athenians determined to lodge in the islands: the rest of

the Cytherians were to retain their lands and pay four talents tribute;

the Aeginetans captured to be all put to death, on account of the

old inveterate feud; and Tantalus to share the imprisonment of the

Lacedaemonians taken on the island.


The same summer, the inhabitants of Camarina and Gela in Sicily first

made an armistice with each other, after which embassies from all

the other Sicilian cities assembled at Gela to try to bring about

a pacification. After many expressions of opinion on one side and

the other, according to the griefs and pretensions of the different

parties complaining, Hermocrates, son of Hermon, a Syracusan, the

most influential man among them, addressed the following words to

the assembly:


“If I now address you, Sicilians, it is not because my city is the

least in Sicily or the greatest sufferer by the war, but in order

to state publicly what appears to me to be the best policy for the

whole island. That war is an evil is a proposition so familiar to

every one that it would be tedious to develop it. No one is forced

to engage in it by ignorance, or kept out of it by fear, if he fancies

there is anything to be gained by it. To the former the gain appears

greater than the danger, while the latter would rather stand the risk

than put up with any immediate sacrifice. But if both should happen

to have chosen the wrong moment for acting in this way, advice to

make peace would not be unserviceable; and this, if we did but see

it, is just what we stand most in need of at the present juncture.


“I suppose that no one will dispute that we went to war at first in

order to serve our own several interests, that we are now, in view

of the same interests, debating how we can make peace; and that if

we separate without having as we think our rights, we shall go to

war again. And yet, as men of sense, we ought to see that our separate

interests are not alone at stake in the present congress: there is

also the question whether we have still time to save Sicily, the whole

of which in my opinion is menaced by Athenian ambition; and we ought

to find in the name of that people more imperious arguments for peace

than any which I can advance, when we see the first power in Hellas

watching our mistakes with the few ships that she has at present in

our waters, and under the fair name of alliance speciously seeking

to turn to account the natural hostility that exists between us. If

we go to war, and call in to help us a people that are ready enough

to carry their arms even where they are not invited; and if we injure

ourselves at our own expense, and at the same time serve as the pioneers

of their dominion, we may expect, when they see us worn out, that

they will one day come with a larger armament, and seek to bring all

of us into subjection.


“And yet as sensible men, if we call in allies and court danger, it

should be in order to enrich our different countries with new acquisitions,

and not to ruin what they possess already; and we should understand

that the intestine discords which are so fatal to communities generally,

will be equally so to Sicily, if we, its inhabitants, absorbed in

our local quarrels, neglect the common enemy. These considerations

should reconcile individual with individual, and city with city, and

unite us in a common effort to save the whole of Sicily. Nor should

any one imagine that the Dorians only are enemies of Athens, while

the Chalcidian race is secured by its Ionian blood; the attack in

question is not inspired by hatred of one of two nationalities, but

by a desire for the good things in Sicily, the common property of

us all. This is proved by the Athenian reception of the Chalcidian

invitation: an ally who has never given them any assistance whatever,

at once receives from them almost more than the treaty entitles him

to. That the Athenians should cherish this ambition and practise this

policy is very excusable; and I do not blame those who wish to rule,

but those who are over-ready to serve. It is just as much in men’s

nature to rule those who submit to them, as it is to resist those

who molest them; one is not less invariable than the other. Meanwhile

all who see these dangers and refuse to provide for them properly,

or who have come here without having made up their minds that our

first duty is to unite to get rid of the common peril, are mistaken.

The quickest way to be rid of it is to make peace with each other;

since the Athenians menace us not from their own country, but from

that of those who invited them here. In this way instead of war issuing

in war, peace quietly ends our quarrels; and the guests who come hither

under fair pretences for bad ends, will have good reason for going

away without having attained them.


“So far as regards the Athenians, such are the great advantages proved

inherent in a wise policy. Independently of this, in the face of the

universal consent, that peace is the first of blessings, how can we

refuse to make it amongst ourselves; or do you not think that the

good which you have, and the ills that you complain of, would be better

preserved and cured by quiet than by war; that peace has its honours

and splendours of a less perilous kind, not to mention the numerous

other blessings that one might dilate on, with the not less numerous

miseries of war? These considerations should teach you not to disregard

my words, but rather to look in them every one for his own safety.

If there be any here who feels certain either by right or might to

effect his object, let not this surprise be to him too severe a disappointment.

Let him remember that many before now have tried to chastise a wrongdoer,

and failing to punish their enemy have not even saved themselves;

while many who have trusted in force to gain an advantage, instead

of gaining anything more, have been doomed to lose what they had.

Vengeance is not necessarily successful because wrong has been done,

or strength sure because it is confident; but the incalculable element

in the future exercises the widest influence, and is the most treacherous,

and yet in fact the most useful of all things, as it frightens us

all equally, and thus makes us consider before attacking each other.


“Let us therefore now allow the undefined fear of this unknown future,

and the immediate terror of the Athenians’ presence, to produce their

natural impression, and let us consider any failure to carry out the

programmes that we may each have sketched out for ourselves as sufficiently

accounted for by these obstacles, and send away the intruder from

the country; and if everlasting peace be impossible between us, let

us at all events make a treaty for as long a term as possible, and

put off our private differences to another day. In fine, let us recognize

that the adoption of my advice will leave us each citizens of a free

state, and as such arbiters of our own destiny, able to return good

or bad offices with equal effect; while its rejection will make us

dependent on others, and thus not only impotent to repel an insult,

but on the most favourable supposition, friends to our direst enemies,

and at feud with our natural friends.


“For myself, though, as I said at first, the representative of a great

city, and able to think less of defending myself than of attacking

others, I am prepared to concede something in prevision of these dangers.

I am not inclined to ruin myself for the sake of hurting my enemies,

or so blinded by animosity as to think myself equally master of my

own plans and of fortune which I cannot command; but I am ready to

give up anything in reason. I call upon the rest of you to imitate

my conduct of your own free will, without being forced to do so by

the enemy. There is no disgrace in connections giving way to one another,

a Dorian to a Dorian, or a Chalcidian to his brethren; above and beyond

this we are neighbours, live in the same country, are girt by the

same sea, and go by the same name of Sicilians. We shall go to war

again, I suppose, when the time comes, and again make peace among

ourselves by means of future congresses; but the foreign invader,

if we are wise, will always find us united against him, since the

hurt of one is the danger of all; and we shall never, in future, invite

into the island either allies or mediators. By so acting we shall

at the present moment do for Sicily a double service, ridding her

at once of the Athenians, and of civil war, and in future shall live

in freedom at home, and be less menaced from abroad.”


Such were the words of Hermocrates. The Sicilians took his advice,

and came to an understanding among themselves to end the war, each

keeping what they had- the Camarinaeans taking Morgantina at a price

fixed to be paid to the Syracusans- and the allies of the Athenians

called the officers in command, and told them that they were going

to make peace and that they would be included in the treaty. The generals

assenting, the peace was concluded, and the Athenian fleet afterwards

sailed away from Sicily. Upon their arrival at Athens, the Athenians

banished Pythodorus and Sophocles, and fined Eurymedon for having

taken bribes to depart when they might have subdued Sicily. So thoroughly

had the present prosperity persuaded the citizens that nothing could

withstand them, and that they could achieve what was possible and

impracticable alike, with means ample or inadequate it mattered not.

The secret of this was their general extraordinary success, which

made them confuse their strength with their hopes.


The same summer the Megarians in the city, pressed by the hostilities

of the Athenians, who invaded their country twice every year with

all their forces, and harassed by the incursions of their own exiles

at Pegae, who had been expelled in a revolution by the popular party,

began to ask each other whether it would not be better to receive

back their exiles, and free the town from one of its two scourges.

The friends of the emigrants, perceiving the agitation, now more openly

than before demanded the adoption of this proposition; and the leaders

of the commons, seeing that the sufferings of the times had tired

out the constancy of their supporters, entered in their alarm into

correspondence with the Athenian generals, Hippocrates, son of Ariphron,

and Demosthenes, son of Alcisthenes, and resolved to betray the town,

thinking this less dangerous to themselves than the return of the

party which they had banished. It was accordingly arranged that the

Athenians should first take the long walls extending for nearly a

mile from the city to the port of Nisaea, to prevent the Peloponnesians

coming to the rescue from that place, where they formed the sole garrison

to secure the fidelity of Megara; and that after this the attempt

should be made to put into their hands the upper town, which it was

thought would then come over with less difficulty.


The Athenians, after plans had been arranged between themselves and

their correspondents both as to words and actions, sailed by night

to Minoa, the island off Megara, with six hundred heavy infantry under

the command of Hippocrates, and took post in a quarry not far off,

out of which bricks used to be taken for the walls; while Demosthenes,

the other commander, with a detachment of Plataean light troops and

another of Peripoli, placed himself in ambush in the precinct of Enyalius,

which was still nearer. No one knew of it, except those whose business

it was to know that night. A little before daybreak, the traitors

in Megara began to act. Every night for a long time back, under pretence

of marauding, in order to have a means of opening the gates, they

had been used, with the consent of the officer in command, to carry

by night a sculling boat upon a cart along the ditch to the sea, and

so to sail out, bringing it back again before day upon the cart, and

taking it within the wall through the gates, in order, as they pretended,

to baffle the Athenian blockade at Minoa, there being no boat to be

seen in the harbour. On the present occasion the cart was already

at the gates, which had been opened in the usual way for the boat,

when the Athenians, with whom this had been concerted, saw it, and

ran at the top of their speed from the ambush in order to reach the

gates before they were shut again, and while the cart was still there

to prevent their being closed; their Megarian accomplices at the same

moment killing the guard at the gates. The first to run in was Demosthenes

with his Plataeans and Peripoli, just where the trophy now stands;

and he was no sooner within the gates than the Plataeans engaged and

defeated the nearest party of Peloponnesians who had taken the alarm

and come to the rescue, and secured the gates for the approaching

Athenian heavy infantry.


After this, each of the Athenians as fast as they entered went against

the wall. A few of the Peloponnesian garrison stood their ground at

first, and tried to repel the assault, and some of them were killed;

but the main body took fright and fled; the night attack and the sight

of the Megarian traitors in arms against them making them think that

all Megara had gone over to the enemy. It so happened also that the

Athenian herald of his own idea called out and invited any of the

Megarians that wished, to join the Athenian ranks; and this was no

sooner heard by the garrison than they gave way, and, convinced that

they were the victims of a concerted attack, took refuge in Nisaea.

By daybreak, the walls being now taken and the Megarians in the city

in great agitation, the persons who had negotiated with the Athenians,

supported by the rest of the popular party which was privy to the

plot, said that they ought to open the gates and march out to battle.

It had been concerted between them that the Athenians should rush

in, the moment that the gates were opened, while the conspirators

were to be distinguished from the rest by being anointed with oil,

and so to avoid being hurt. They could open the gates with more security,

as four thousand Athenian heavy infantry from Eleusis, and six hundred

horse, had marched all night, according to agreement, and were now

close at hand. The conspirators were all ready anointed and at their

posts by the gates, when one of their accomplices denounced the plot

to the opposite party, who gathered together and came in a body, and

roundly said that they must not march out- a thing they had never

yet ventured on even when in greater force than at present- or wantonly

compromise the safety of the town, and that if what they said was

not attended to, the battle would have to be fought in Megara. For

the rest, they gave no signs of their knowledge of the intrigue, but

stoutly maintained that their advice was the best, and meanwhile kept

close by and watched the gates, making it impossible for the conspirators

to effect their purpose.


The Athenian generals seeing that some obstacle had arisen, and that

the capture of the town by force was no longer practicable, at once

proceeded to invest Nisaea, thinking that, if they could take it before

relief arrived, the surrender of Megara would soon follow. Iron, stone-masons,

and everything else required quickly coming up from Athens, the Athenians

started from the wall which they occupied, and from this point built

a cross wall looking towards Megara down to the sea on either side

of Nisaea; the ditch and the walls being divided among the army, stones

and bricks taken from the suburb, and the fruit-trees and timber cut

down to make a palisade wherever this seemed necessary; the houses

also in the suburb with the addition of battlements sometimes entering

into the fortification. The whole of this day the work continued,

and by the afternoon of the next the wall was all but completed, when

the garrison in Nisaea, alarmed by the absolute want of provisions,

which they used to take in for the day from the upper town, not anticipating

any speedy relief from the Peloponnesians, and supposing Megara to

be hostile, capitulated to the Athenians on condition that they should

give up their arms, and should each be ransomed for a stipulated sum;

their Lacedaemonian commander, and any others of his countrymen in

the place, being left to the discretion of the Athenians. On these

conditions they surrendered and came out, and the Athenians broke

down the long walls at their point of junction with Megara, took possession

of Nisaea, and went on with their other preparations.


Just at this time the Lacedaemonian Brasidas, son of Tellis, happened

to be in the neighbourhood of Sicyon and Corinth, getting ready an

army for Thrace. As soon as he heard of the capture of the walls,

fearing for the Peloponnesians in Nisaea and the safety of Megara,

he sent to the Boeotians to meet him as quickly as possible at Tripodiscus,

a village so called of the Megarid, under Mount Geraneia, and went

himself, with two thousand seven hundred Corinthian heavy infantry,

four hundred Phliasians, six hundred Sicyonians, and such troops of

his own as he had already levied, expecting to find Nisaea not yet

taken. Hearing of its fall (he had marched out by night to Tripodiscus),

he took three hundred picked men from the army, without waiting till

his coming should be known, and came up to Megara unobserved by the

Athenians, who were down by the sea, ostensibly, and really if possible,

to attempt Nisaea, but above all to get into Megara and secure the

town. He accordingly invited the townspeople to admit his party, saying

that he had hopes of recovering Nisaea.


However, one of the Megarian factions feared that he might expel them

and restore the exiles; the other that the commons, apprehensive of

this very danger, might set upon them, and the city be thus destroyed

by a battle within its gates under the eyes of the ambushed Athenians.

He was accordingly refused admittance, both parties electing to remain

quiet and await the event; each expecting a battle between the Athenians

and the relieving army, and thinking it safer to see their friends

victorious before declaring in their favour.


Unable to carry his point, Brasidas went back to the rest of the army.

At daybreak the Boeotians joined him. Having determined to relieve

Megara, whose danger they considered their own, even before hearing

from Brasidas, they were already in full force at Plataea, when his

messenger arrived to add spurs to their resolution; and they at once

sent on to him two thousand two hundred heavy infantry, and six hundred

horse, returning home with the main body. The whole army thus assembled

numbered six thousand heavy infantry. The Athenian heavy infantry

were drawn up by Nisaea and the sea; but the light troops being scattered

over the plain were attacked by the Boeotian horse and driven to the

sea, being taken entirely by surprise, as on previous occasions no

relief had ever come to the Megarians from any quarter. Here the Boeotians

were in their turn charged and engaged by the Athenian horse, and

a cavalry action ensued which lasted a long time, and in which both

parties claimed the victory. The Athenians killed and stripped the

leader of the Boeotian horse and some few of his comrades who had

charged right up to Nisaea, and remaining masters of the bodies gave

them back under truce, and set up a trophy; but regarding the action

as a whole the forces separated without either side having gained

a decisive advantage, the Boeotians returning to their army and the

Athenians to Nisaea.


After this Brasidas and the army came nearer to the sea and to Megara,

and taking up a convenient position, remained quiet in order of battle,

expecting to be attacked by the Athenians and knowing that the Megarians

were waiting to see which would be the victor. This attitude seemed

to present two advantages. Without taking the offensive or willingly

provoking the hazards of a battle, they openly showed their readiness

to fight, and thus without bearing the burden of the day would fairly

reap its honours; while at the same time they effectually served their

interests at Megara. For if they had failed to show themselves they

would not have had a chance, but would have certainly been considered

vanquished, and have lost the town. As it was, the Athenians might

possibly not be inclined to accept their challenge, and their object

would be attained without fighting. And so it turned out. The Athenians

formed outside the long walls and, the enemy not attacking, there

remained motionless; their generals having decided that the risk was

too unequal. In fact most of their objects had been already attained;

and they would have to begin a battle against superior numbers, and

if victorious could only gain Megara, while a defeat would destroy

the flower of their heavy soldiery. For the enemy it was different;

as even the states actually represented in his army risked each only

a part of its entire force, he might well be more audacious. Accordingly,

after waiting for some time without either side attacking, the Athenians

withdrew to Nisaea, and the Peloponnesians after them to the point

from which they had set out. The friends of the Megarian exiles now

threw aside their hesitation, and opened the gates to Brasidas and

the commanders from the different states- looking upon him as the

victor and upon the Athenians as having declined the battle- and receiving

them into the town proceeded to discuss matters with them; the party

in correspondence with the Athenians being paralysed by the turn things

had taken.


Afterwards Brasidas let the allies go home, and himself went back

to Corinth, to prepare for his expedition to Thrace, his original

destination. The Athenians also returning home, the Megarians in the

city most implicated in the Athenian negotiation, knowing that they

had been detected, presently disappeared; while the rest conferred

with the friends of the exiles, and restored the party at Pegae, after

binding them under solemn oaths to take no vengeance for the past,

and only to consult the real interests of the town. However, as soon

as they were in office, they held a review of the heavy infantry,

and separating the battalions, picked out about a hundred of their

enemies, and of those who were thought to be most involved in the

correspondence with the Athenians, brought them before the people,

and compelling the vote to be given openly, had them condemned and

executed, and established a close oligarchy in the town- a revolution

which lasted a very long while, although effected by a very few partisans.


Chapter XIV


Eighth and Ninth Years of the War – Invasion of Boeotia – Fall of

Amphipolis – Brilliant Successes of Brasidas


The same summer the Mitylenians were about to fortify Antandrus, as

they had intended, when Demodocus and Aristides, the commanders of

the Athenian squadron engaged in levying subsidies, heard on the Hellespont

of what was being done to the place (Lamachus their colleague having

sailed with ten ships into the Pontus) and conceived fears of its

becoming a second Anaia-the place in which the Samian exiles had established

themselves to annoy Samos, helping the Peloponnesians by sending pilots

to their navy, and keeping the city in agitation and receiving all

its outlaws. They accordingly got together a force from the allies

and set sail, defeated in battle the troops that met them from Antandrus,

and retook the place. Not long after, Lamachus, who had sailed into

the Pontus, lost his ships at anchor in the river Calex, in the territory

of Heraclea, rain having fallen in the interior and the flood coming

suddenly down upon them; and himself and his troops passed by land

through the Bithynian Thracians on the Asiatic side, and arrived at

Chalcedon, the Megarian colony at the mouth of the Pontus.


The same summer the Athenian general, Demosthenes, arrived at Naupactus

with forty ships immediately after the return from the Megarid. Hippocrates

and himself had had overtures made to them by certain men in the cities

in Boeotia, who wished to change the constitution and introduce a

democracy as at Athens; Ptoeodorus, a Theban exile, being the chief

mover in this intrigue. The seaport town of Siphae, in the bay of

Crisae, in the Thespian territory, was to be betrayed to them by one

party; Chaeronea (a dependency of what was formerly called the Minyan,

now the Boeotian, Orchomenus) to be put into their hands by another

from that town, whose exiles were very active in the business, hiring

men in Peloponnese. Some Phocians also were in the plot, Chaeronea

being the frontier town of Boeotia and close to Phanotis in Phocia.

Meanwhile the Athenians were to seize Delium, the sanctuary of Apollo,

in the territory of Tanagra looking towards Euboea; and all these

events were to take place simultaneously upon a day appointed, in

order that the Boeotians might be unable to unite to oppose them at

Delium, being everywhere detained by disturbances at home. Should

the enterprise succeed, and Delium be fortified, its authors confidently

expected that even if no revolution should immediately follow in Boeotia,

yet with these places in their hands, and the country being harassed

by incursions, and a refuge in each instance near for the partisans

engaged in them, things would not remain as they were, but that the

rebels being supported by the Athenians and the forces of the oligarchs

divided, it would be possible after a while to settle matters according

to their wishes.


Such was the plot in contemplation. Hippocrates with a force raised

at home awaited the proper moment to take the field against the Boeotians;

while he sent on Demosthenes with the forty ships above mentioned

to Naupactus, to raise in those parts an army of Acarnanians and of

the other allies, and sail and receive Siphae from the conspirators;

a day having been agreed on for the simultaneous execution of both

these operations. Demosthenes on his arrival found Oeniadae already

compelled by the united Acarnanians to join the Athenian confederacy,

and himself raising all the allies in those countries marched against

and subdued Salynthius and the Agraeans; after which he devoted himself

to the preparations necessary to enable him to be at Siphae by the

time appointed.


About the same time in the summer, Brasidas set out on his march for

the Thracian places with seventeen hundred heavy infantry, and arriving

at Heraclea in Trachis, from thence sent on a messenger to his friends

at Pharsalus, to ask them to conduct himself and his army through

the country. Accordingly there came to Melitia in Achaia Panaerus,

Dorus, Hippolochidas, Torylaus, and Strophacus, the Chalcidian proxenus,

under whose escort he resumed his march, being accompanied also by

other Thessalians, among whom was Niconidas from Larissa, a friend

of Perdiccas. It was never very easy to traverse Thessaly without

an escort; and throughout all Hellas for an armed force to pass without

leave through a neighbour’s country was a delicate step to take. Besides

this the Thessalian people had always sympathized with the Athenians.

Indeed if instead of the customary dose oligarchy there had been a

constitutional government in Thessaly, he would never have been able

to proceed; since even as it was, he was met on his march at the river

Enipeus by certain of the opposite party who forbade his further progress,

and complained of his making the attempt without the consent of the

nation. To this his escort answered that they had no intention of

taking him through against their will; they were only friends in attendance

on an unexpected visitor. Brasidas himself added that he came as a

friend to Thessaly and its inhabitants, his arms not being directed

against them but against the Athenians, with whom he was at war, and

that although he knew of no quarrel between the Thessalians and Lacedaemonians

to prevent the two nations having access to each other’s territory,

he neither would nor could proceed against their wishes; he could

only beg them not to stop him. With this answer they went away, and

he took the advice of his escort, and pushed on without halting, before

a greater force might gather to prevent him. Thus in the day that

he set out from Melitia he performed the whole distance to Pharsalus,

and encamped on the river Apidanus; and so to Phacium and from thence

to Perrhaebia. Here his Thessalian escort went back, and the Perrhaebians,

who are subjects of Thessaly, set him down at Dium in the dominions

of Perdiccas, a Macedonian town under Mount Olympus, looking towards



In this way Brasidas hurried through Thessaly before any one could

be got ready to stop him, and reached Perdiccas and Chalcidice. The

departure of the army from Peloponnese had been procured by the Thracian

towns in revolt against Athens and by Perdiccas, alarmed at the successes

of the Athenians. The Chalcidians thought that they would be the first

objects of an Athenian expedition, not that the neighbouring towns

which had not yet revolted did not also secretly join in the invitation;

and Perdiccas also had his apprehensions on account of his old quarrels

with the Athenians, although not openly at war with them, and above

all wished to reduce Arrhabaeus, king of the Lyncestians. It had been

less difficult for them to get an army to leave Peloponnese, because

of the ill fortune of the Lacedaemonians at the present moment. The

attacks of the Athenians upon Peloponnese, and in particular upon

Laconia, might, it was hoped, be diverted most effectually by annoying

them in return, and by sending an army to their allies, especially

as they were willing to maintain it and asked for it to aid them in

revolting. The Lacedaemonians were also glad to have an excuse for

sending some of the Helots out of the country, for fear that the present

aspect of affairs and the occupation of Pylos might encourage them

to move. Indeed fear of their numbers and obstinacy even persuaded

the Lacedaemonians to the action which I shall now relate, their policy

at all times having been governed by the necessity of taking precautions

against them. The Helots were invited by a proclamation to pick out

those of their number who claimed to have most distinguished themselves

against the enemy, in order that they might receive their freedom;

the object being to test them, as it was thought that the first to

claim their freedom would be the most high-spirited and the most apt

to rebel. As many as two thousand were selected accordingly, who crowned

themselves and went round the temples, rejoicing in their new freedom.

The Spartans, however, soon afterwards did away with them, and no

one ever knew how each of them perished. The Spartans now therefore

gladly sent seven hundred as heavy infantry with Brasidas, who recruited

the rest of his force by means of money in Peloponnese.


Brasidas himself was sent out by the Lacedaemonians mainly at his

own desire, although the Chalcidians also were eager to have a man

so thorough as he had shown himself whenever there was anything to

be done at Sparta, and whose after-service abroad proved of the utmost

use to his country. At the present moment his just and moderate conduct

towards the towns generally succeeded in procuring their revolt, besides

the places which he managed to take by treachery; and thus when the

Lacedaemonians desired to treat, as they ultimately did, they had

places to offer in exchange, and the burden of war meanwhile shifted

from Peloponnese. Later on in the war, after the events in Sicily,

the present valour and conduct of Brasidas, known by experience to

some, by hearsay to others, was what mainly created in the allies

of Athens a feeling for the Lacedaemonians. He was the first who went

out and showed himself so good a man at all points as to leave behind

him the conviction that the rest were like him.


Meanwhile his arrival in the Thracian country no sooner became known

to the Athenians than they declared war against Perdiccas, whom they

regarded as the author of the expedition, and kept a closer watch

on their allies in that quarter.


Upon the arrival of Brasidas and his army, Perdiccas immediately started

with them and with his own forces against Arrhabaeus, son of Bromerus,

king of the Lyncestian Macedonians, his neighbour, with whom he had

a quarrel and whom he wished to subdue. However, when he arrived with

his army and Brasidas at the pass leading into Lyncus, Brasidas told

him that before commencing hostilities he wished to go and try to

persuade Arrhabaeus to become the ally of Lacedaemon, this latter

having already made overtures intimating his willingness to make Brasidas

arbitrator between them, and the Chalcidian envoys accompanying him

having warned him not to remove the apprehensions of Perdiccas, in

order to ensure his greater zeal in their cause. Besides, the envoys

of Perdiccas had talked at Lacedaemon about his bringing many of the

places round him into alliance with them; and thus Brasidas thought

he might take a larger view of the question of Arrhabaeus. Perdiccas

however retorted that he had not brought him with him to arbitrate

in their quarrel, but to put down the enemies whom he might point

out to him; and that while he, Perdiccas, maintained half his army

it was a breach of faith for Brasidas to parley with Arrhabaeus. Nevertheless

Brasidas disregarded the wishes of Perdiccas and held the parley in

spite of him, and suffered himself to be persuaded to lead off the

army without invading the country of Arrhabaeus; after which Perdiccas,

holding that faith had not been kept with him, contributed only a

third instead of half of the support of the army.


The same summer, without loss of time, Brasidas marched with the Chalcidians

against Acanthus, a colony of the Andrians, a little before vintage.

The inhabitants were divided into two parties on the question of receiving

him; those who had joined the Chalcidians in inviting him, and the

popular party. However, fear for their fruit, which was still out,

enabled Brasidas to persuade the multitude to admit him alone, and

to hear what he had to say before making a decision; and he was admitted

accordingly and appeared before the people, and not being a bad speaker

for a Lacedaemonian, addressed them as follows:


“Acanthians, the Lacedaemonians have sent out me and my army to make

good the reason that we gave for the war when we began it, viz., that

we were going to war with the Athenians in order to free Hellas. Our

delay in coming has been caused by mistaken expectations as to the

war at home, which led us to hope, by our own unassisted efforts and

without your risking anything, to effect the speedy downfall of the

Athenians; and you must not blame us for this, as we are now come

the moment that we were able, prepared with your aid to do our best

to subdue them. Meanwhile I am astonished at finding your gates shut

against me, and at not meeting with a better welcome. We Lacedaemonians

thought of you as allies eager to have us, to whom we should come

in spirit even before we were with you in body; and in this expectation

undertook all the risks of a march of many days through a strange

country, so far did our zeal carry us. It will be a terrible thing

if after this you have other intentions, and mean to stand in the

way of your own and Hellenic freedom. It is not merely that you oppose

me yourselves; but wherever I may go people will be less inclined

to join me, on the score that you, to whom I first came- an important

town like Acanthus, and prudent men like the Acanthians- refused to

admit me. I shall have nothing to prove that the reason which I advance

is the true one; it will be said either that there is something unfair

in the freedom which I offer, or that I am in insufficient force and

unable to protect you against an attack from Athens. Yet when I went

with the army which I now have to the relief of Nisaea, the Athenians

did not venture to engage me although in greater force than I; and

it is not likely they will ever send across sea against you an army

as numerous as they had at Nisaea. And for myself, I have come here

not to hurt but to free the Hellenes, witness the solemn oaths by

which I have bound my government that the allies that I may bring

over shall be independent; and besides my object in coming is not

by force or fraud to obtain your alliance, but to offer you mine to

help you against your Athenian masters. I protest, therefore, against

any suspicions of my intentions after the guarantees which I offer,

and equally so against doubts of my ability to protect you, and I

invite you to join me without hesitation.


“Some of you may hang back because they have private enemies, and

fear that I may put the city into the hands of a party: none need

be more tranquil than they. I am not come here to help this party

or that; and I do not consider that I should be bringing you freedom

in any real sense, if I should disregard your constitution, and enslave

the many to the few or the few to the many. This would be heavier

than a foreign yoke; and we Lacedaemonians, instead of being thanked

for our pains, should get neither honour nor glory, but, contrariwise,

reproaches. The charges which strengthen our hands in the war against

the Athenians would on our own showing be merited by ourselves, and

more hateful in us than in those who make no pretensions to honesty;

as it is more disgraceful for persons of character to take what they

covet by fair-seeming fraud than by open force; the one aggression

having for its justification the might which fortune gives, the other

being simply a piece of clever roguery. A matter which concerns us

thus nearly we naturally look to most jealously; and over and above

the oaths that I have mentioned, what stronger assurance can you have,

when you see that our words, compared with the actual facts, produce

the necessary conviction that it is our interest to act as we say?


“If to these considerations of mine you put in the plea of inability,

and claim that your friendly feeling should save you from being hurt

by your refusal; if you say that freedom, in your opinion, is not

without its dangers, and that it is right to offer it to those who

can accept it, but not to force it on any against their will, then

I shall take the gods and heroes of your country to witness that I

came for your good and was rejected, and shall do my best to compel

you by laying waste your land. I shall do so without scruple, being

justified by the necessity which constrains me, first, to prevent

the Lacedaemonians from being damaged by you, their friends, in the

event of your nonadhesion, through the moneys that you pay to the

Athenians; and secondly, to prevent the Hellenes from being hindered

by you in shaking off their servitude. Otherwise indeed we should

have no right to act as we propose; except in the name of some public

interest, what call should we Lacedaemonians have to free those who

do not wish it? Empire we do not aspire to: it is what we are labouring

to put down; and we should wrong the greater number if we allowed

you to stand in the way of the independence that we offer to all.

Endeavour, therefore, to decide wisely, and strive to begin the work

of liberation for the Hellenes, and lay up for yourselves endless

renown, while you escape private loss, and cover your commonwealth

with glory.”


Such were the words of Brasidas. The Acanthians, after much had been

said on both sides of the question, gave their votes in secret, and

the majority, influenced by the seductive arguments of Brasidas and

by fear for their fruit, decided to revolt from Athens; not however

admitting the army until they had taken his personal security for

the oaths sworn by his government before they sent him out, assuring

the independence of the allies whom he might bring over. Not long

after, Stagirus, a colony of the Andrians, followed their example

and revolted.


Such were the events of this summer. It was in the first days of the

winter following that the places in Boeotia were to be put into the

hands of the Athenian generals, Hippocrates and Demosthenes, the latter

of whom was to go with his ships to Siphae, the former to Delium.

A mistake, however, was made in the days on which they were each to

start; and Demosthenes, sailing first to Siphae, with the Acarnanians

and many of the allies from those parts on board, failed to effect

anything, through the plot having been betrayed by Nicomachus, a Phocian

from Phanotis, who told the Lacedaemonians, and they the Boeotians.

Succours accordingly flocked in from all parts of Boeotia, Hippocrates

not being yet there to make his diversion, and Siphae and Chaeronea

were promptly secured, and the conspirators, informed of the mistake,

did not venture on any movement in the towns.


Meanwhile Hippocrates made a levy in mass of the citizens, resident

aliens, and foreigners in Athens, and arrived at his destination after

the Boeotians had already come back from Siphae, and encamping his

army began to fortify Delium, the sanctuary of Apollo, in the following

manner. A trench was dug all round the temple and the consecrated

ground, and the earth thrown up from the excavation was made to do

duty as a wall, in which stakes were also planted, the vines round

the sanctuary being cut down and thrown in, together with stones and

bricks pulled down from the houses near; every means, in short, being

used to run up the rampart. Wooden towers were also erected where

they were wanted, and where there was no part of the temple buildings

left standing, as on the side where the gallery once existing had

fallen in. The work was begun on the third day after leaving home,

and continued during the fourth, and till dinnertime on the fifth,

when most of it being now finished the army removed from Delium about

a mile and a quarter on its way home. From this point most of the

light troops went straight on, while the heavy infantry halted and

remained where they were; Hippocrates having stayed behind at Delium

to arrange the posts, and to give directions for the completion of

such part of the outworks as had been left unfinished.


During the days thus employed the Boeotians were mustering at Tanagra,

and by the time that they had come in from all the towns, found the

Athenians already on their way home. The rest of the eleven Boeotarchs

were against giving battle, as the enemy was no longer in Boeotia,

the Athenians being just over the Oropian border, when they halted;

but Pagondas, son of Aeolidas, one of the Boeotarchs of Thebes (Arianthides,

son of Lysimachidas, being the other), and then commander-in-chief,

thought it best to hazard a battle. He accordingly called the men

to him, company after company, to prevent their all leaving their

arms at once, and urged them to attack the Athenians, and stand the

issue of a battle, speaking as follows:


“Boeotians, the idea that we ought not to give battle to the Athenians,

unless we came up with them in Boeotia, is one which should never

have entered into the head of any of us, your generals. It was to

annoy Boeotia that they crossed the frontier and built a fort in our

country; and they are therefore, I imagine, our enemies wherever we

may come up with them, and from wheresoever they may have come to

act as enemies do. And if any one has taken up with the idea in question

for reasons of safety, it is high time for him to change his mind.

The party attacked, whose own country is in danger, can scarcely discuss

what is prudent with the calmness of men who are in full enjoyment

of what they have got, and are thinking of attacking a neighbour in

order to get more. It is your national habit, in your country or out

of it, to oppose the same resistance to a foreign invader; and when

that invader is Athenian, and lives upon your frontier besides, it

is doubly imperative to do so. As between neighbours generally, freedom

means simply a determination to hold one’s own; and with neighbours

like these, who are trying to enslave near and far alike, there is

nothing for it but to fight it out to the last. Look at the condition

of the Euboeans and of most of the rest of Hellas, and be convinced

that others have to fight with their neighbours for this frontier

or that, but that for us conquest means one frontier for the whole

country, about which no dispute can be made, for they will simply

come and take by force what we have. So much more have we to fear

from this neighbour than from another. Besides, people who, like the

Athenians in the present instance, are tempted by pride of strength

to attack their neighbours, usually march most confidently against

those who keep still, and only defend themselves in their own country,

but think twice before they grapple with those who meet them outside

their frontier and strike the first blow if opportunity offers. The

Athenians have shown us this themselves; the defeat which we inflicted

upon them at Coronea, at the time when our quarrels had allowed them

to occupy the country, has given great security to Boeotia until the

present day. Remembering this, the old must equal their ancient exploits,

and the young, the sons of the heroes of that time, must endeavour

not to disgrace their native valour; and trusting in the help of the

god whose temple has been sacrilegiously fortified, and in the victims

which in our sacrifices have proved propitious, we must march against

the enemy, and teach him that he must go and get what he wants by

attacking someone who will not resist him, but that men whose glory

it is to be always ready to give battle for the liberty of their own

country, and never unjustly to enslave that of others, will not let

him go without a struggle.”


By these arguments Pagondas persuaded the Boeotians to attack the

Athenians, and quickly breaking up his camp led his army forward,

it being now late in the day. On nearing the enemy, he halted in a

position where a hill intervening prevented the two armies from seeing

each other, and then formed and prepared for action. Meanwhile Hippocrates

at Delium, informed of the approach of the Boeotians, sent orders

to his troops to throw themselves into line, and himself joined them

not long afterwards, leaving about three hundred horse behind him

at Delium, at once to guard the place in case of attack, and to watch

their opportunity and fall upon the Boeotians during the battle. The

Boeotians placed a detachment to deal with these, and when everything

was arranged to their satisfaction appeared over the hill, and halted

in the order which they had determined on, to the number of seven

thousand heavy infantry, more than ten thousand light troops, one

thousand horse, and five hundred targeteers. On their right were the

Thebans and those of their province, in the centre the Haliartians,

Coronaeans, Copaeans, and the other people around the lake, and on

the left the Thespians, Tanagraeans, and Orchomenians, the cavalry

and the light troops being at the extremity of each wing. The Thebans

formed twenty-five shields deep, the rest as they pleased. Such was

the strength and disposition of the Boeotian army.


On the side of the Athenians, the heavy infantry throughout the whole

army formed eight deep, being in numbers equal to the enemy, with

the cavalry upon the two wings. Light troops regularly armed there

were none in the army, nor had there ever been any at Athens. Those

who had joined in the invasion, though many times more numerous than

those of the enemy, had mostly followed unarmed, as part of the levy

in mass of the citizens and foreigners at Athens, and having started

first on their way home were not present in any number. The armies

being now in line and upon the point of engaging, Hippocrates, the

general, passed along the Athenian ranks, and encouraged them as follows:


“Athenians, I shall only say a few words to you, but brave men require

no more, and they are addressed more to your understanding than to

your courage. None of you must fancy that we are going out of our

way to run this risk in the country of another. Fought in their territory

the battle will be for ours: if we conquer, the Peloponnesians will

never invade your country without the Boeotian horse, and in one battle

you will win Boeotia and in a manner free Attica. Advance to meet

them then like citizens of a country in which you all glory as the

first in Hellas, and like sons of the fathers who beat them at Oenophyta

with Myronides and thus gained possession of Boeotia.”


Hippocrates had got half through the army with his exhortation, when

the Boeotians, after a few more hasty words from Pagondas, struck

up the paean, and came against them from the hill; the Athenians advancing

to meet them, and closing at a run. The extreme wing of neither army

came into action, one like the other being stopped by the water-courses

in the way; the rest engaged with the utmost obstinacy, shield against

shield. The Boeotian left, as far as the centre, was worsted by the

Athenians. The Thespians in that part of the field suffered most severely.

The troops alongside them having given way, they were surrounded in

a narrow space and cut down fighting hand to hand; some of the Athenians

also fell into confusion in surrounding the enemy and mistook and

so killed each other. In this part of the field the Boeotians were

beaten, and retreated upon the troops still fighting; but the right,

where the Thebans were, got the better of the Athenians and shoved

them further and further back, though gradually at first. It so happened

also that Pagondas, seeing the distress of his left, had sent two

squadrons of horse, where they could not be seen, round the hill,

and their sudden appearance struck a panic into the victorious wing

of the Athenians, who thought that it was another army coming against

them. At length in both parts of the field, disturbed by this panic,

and with their line broken by the advancing Thebans, the whole Athenian

army took to flight. Some made for Delium and the sea, some for Oropus,

others for Mount Parnes, or wherever they had hopes of safety, pursued

and cut down by the Boeotians, and in particular by the cavalry, composed

partly of Boeotians and partly of Locrians, who had come up just as

the rout began. Night however coming on to interrupt the pursuit,

the mass of the fugitives escaped more easily than they would otherwise

have done. The next day the troops at Oropus and Delium returned home

by sea, after leaving a garrison in the latter place, which they continued

to hold notwithstanding the defeat.


The Boeotians set up a trophy, took up their own dead, and stripped

those of the enemy, and leaving a guard over them retired to Tanagra,

there to take measures for attacking Delium. Meanwhile a herald came

from the Athenians to ask for the dead, but was met and turned back

by a Boeotian herald, who told him that he would effect nothing until

the return of himself the Boeotian herald, and who then went on to

the Athenians, and told them on the part of the Boeotians that they

had done wrong in transgressing the law of the Hellenes. Of what use

was the universal custom protecting the temples in an invaded country,

if the Athenians were to fortify Delium and live there, acting exactly

as if they were on unconsecrated ground, and drawing and using for

their purposes the water which they, the Boeotians, never touched

except for sacred uses? Accordingly for the god as well as for themselves,

in the name of the deities concerned, and of Apollo, the Boeotians

invited them first to evacuate the temple, if they wished to take

up the dead that belonged to them.


After these words from the herald, the Athenians sent their own herald

to the Boeotians to say that they had not done any wrong to the temple,

and for the future would do it no more harm than they could help;

not having occupied it originally in any such design, but to defend

themselves from it against those who were really wronging them. The

law of the Hellenes was that conquest of a country, whether more or

less extensive, carried with it possession of the temples in that

country, with the obligation to keep up the usual ceremonies, at least

as far as possible. The Boeotians and most other people who had turned

out the owners of a country, and put themselves in their places by

force, now held as of right the temples which they originally entered

as usurpers. If the Athenians could have conquered more of Boeotia

this would have been the case with them: as things stood, the piece

of it which they had got they should treat as their own, and not quit

unless obliged. The water they had disturbed under the impulsion of

a necessity which they had not wantonly incurred, having been forced

to use it in defending themselves against the Boeotians who first

invaded Attica. Besides, anything done under the pressure of war and

danger might reasonably claim indulgence even in the eye of the god;

or why, pray, were the altars the asylum for involuntary offences?

Transgression also was a term applied to presumptuous offenders, not

to the victims of adverse circumstances. In short, which were most

impious- the Boeotians who wished to barter dead bodies for holy places,

or the Athenians who refused to give up holy places to obtain what

was theirs by right? The condition of evacuating Boeotia must therefore

be withdrawn. They were no longer in Boeotia. They stood where they

stood by the right of the sword. All that the Boeotians had to do

was to tell them to take up their dead under a truce according to

the national custom.


The Boeotians replied that if they were in Boeotia, they must evacuate

that country before taking up their dead; if they were in their own

territory, they could do as they pleased: for they knew that, although

the Oropid where the bodies as it chanced were lying (the battle having

been fought on the borders) was subject to Athens, yet the Athenians

could not get them without their leave. Besides, why should they grant

a truce for Athenian ground? And what could be fairer than to tell

them to evacuate Boeotia if they wished to get what they asked? The

Athenian herald accordingly returned with this answer, without having

accomplished his object.


Meanwhile the Boeotians at once sent for darters and slingers from

the Malian Gulf, and with two thousand Corinthian heavy infantry who

had joined them after the battle, the Peloponnesian garrison which

had evacuated Nisaea, and some Megarians with them, marched against

Delium, and attacked the fort, and after divers efforts finally succeeded

in taking it by an engine of the following description. They sawed

in two and scooped out a great beam from end to end, and fitting it

nicely together again like a pipe, hung by chains a cauldron at one

extremity, with which communicated an iron tube projecting from the

beam, which was itself in great part plated with iron. This they brought

up from a distance upon carts to the part of the wall principally

composed of vines and timber, and when it was near, inserted huge

bellows into their end of the beam and blew with them. The blast passing

closely confined into the cauldron, which was filled with lighted

coals, sulphur and pitch, made a great blaze, and set fire to the

wall, which soon became untenable for its defenders, who left it and

fled; and in this way the fort was taken. Of the garrison some were

killed and two hundred made prisoners; most of the rest got on board

their ships and returned home.


Soon after the fall of Delium, which took place seventeen days after

the battle, the Athenian herald, without knowing what had happened,

came again for the dead, which were now restored by the Boeotians,

who no longer answered as at first. Not quite five hundred Boeotians

fell in the battle, and nearly one thousand Athenians, including Hippocrates

the general, besides a great number of light troops and camp followers.


Soon after this battle Demosthenes, after the failure of his voyage

to Siphae and of the plot on the town, availed himself of the Acarnanian

and Agraean troops and of the four hundred Athenian heavy infantry

which he had on board, to make a descent on the Sicyonian coast. Before

however all his ships had come to shore, the Sicyonians came up and

routed and chased to their ships those that had landed, killing some

and taking others prisoners; after which they set up a trophy, and

gave back the dead under truce.


About the same time with the affair of Delium took place the death

of Sitalces, king of the Odrysians, who was defeated in battle, in

a campaign against the Triballi; Seuthes, son of Sparadocus, his nephew,

succeeding to the kingdom of the Odrysians, and of the rest of Thrace

ruled by Sitalces.


The same winter Brasidas, with his allies in the Thracian places,

marched against Amphipolis, the Athenian colony on the river Strymon.

A settlement upon the spot on which the city now stands was before

attempted by Aristagoras, the Milesian (when he fled from King Darius),

who was however dislodged by the Edonians; and thirty-two years later

by the Athenians, who sent thither ten thousand settlers of their

own citizens, and whoever else chose to go. These were cut off at

Drabescus by the Thracians. Twenty-nine years after, the Athenians

returned (Hagnon, son of Nicias, being sent out as leader of the colony)

and drove out the Edonians, and founded a town on the spot, formerly

called Ennea Hodoi or Nine Ways. The base from which they started

was Eion, their commercial seaport at the mouth of the river, not

more than three miles from the present town, which Hagnon named Amphipolis,

because the Strymon flows round it on two sides, and he built it so

as to be conspicuous from the sea and land alike, running a long wall

across from river to river, to complete the circumference.


Brasidas now marched against this town, starting from Arne in Chalcidice.

Arriving about dusk at Aulon and Bromiscus, where the lake of Bolbe

runs into the sea, he supped there, and went on during the night.

The weather was stormy and it was snowing a little, which encouraged

him to hurry on, in order, if possible, to take every one at Amphipolis

by surprise, except the party who were to betray it. The plot was

carried on by some natives of Argilus, an Andrian colony, residing

in Amphipolis, where they had also other accomplices gained over by

Perdiccas or the Chalcidians. But the most active in the matter were

the inhabitants of Argilus itself, which is close by, who had always

been suspected by the Athenians, and had had designs on the place.

These men now saw their opportunity arrive with Brasidas, and having

for some time been in correspondence with their countrymen in Amphipolis

for the betrayal of the town, at once received him into Argilus, and

revolted from the Athenians, and that same night took him on to the

bridge over the river; where he found only a small guard to oppose

him, the town being at some distance from the passage, and the walls

not reaching down to it as at present. This guard he easily drove

in, partly through there being treason in their ranks, partly from

the stormy state of the weather and the suddenness of his attack,

and so got across the bridge, and immediately became master of all

the property outside; the Amphipolitans having houses all over the



The passage of Brasidas was a complete surprise to the people in the

town; and the capture of many of those outside, and the flight of

the rest within the wall, combined to produce great confusion among

the citizens; especially as they did not trust one another. It is

even said that if Brasidas, instead of stopping to pillage, had advanced

straight against the town, he would probably have taken it. In fact,

however, he established himself where he was and overran the country

outside, and for the present remained inactive, vainly awaiting a

demonstration on the part of his friends within. Meanwhile the party

opposed to the traitors proved numerous enough to prevent the gates

being immediately thrown open, and in concert with Eucles, the general,

who had come from Athens to defend the place, sent to the other commander

in Thrace, Thucydides, son of Olorus, the author of this history,

who was at the isle of Thasos, a Parian colony, half a day’s sail

from Amphipolis, to tell him to come to their relief. On receipt of

this message he at once set sail with seven ships which he had with

him, in order, if possible, to reach Amphipolis in time to prevent

its capitulation, or in any case to save Eion.


Meanwhile Brasidas, afraid of succours arriving by sea from Thasos,

and learning that Thucydides possessed the right of working the gold

mines in that part of Thrace, and had thus great influence with the

inhabitants of the continent, hastened to gain the town, if possible,

before the people of Amphipolis should be encouraged by his arrival

to hope that he could save them by getting together a force of allies

from the sea and from Thrace, and so refuse to surrender. He accordingly

offered moderate terms, proclaiming that any of the Amphipolitans

and Athenians who chose, might continue to enjoy their property with

full rights of citizenship; while those who did not wish to stay had

five days to depart, taking their property with them.


The bulk of the inhabitants, upon hearing this, began to change their

minds, especially as only a small number of the citizens were Athenians,

the majority having come from different quarters, and many of the

prisoners outside had relations within the walls. They found the proclamation

a fair one in comparison of what their fear had suggested; the Athenians

being glad to go out, as they thought they ran more risk than the

rest, and further, did not expect any speedy relief, and the multitude

generally being content at being left in possession of their civic

rights, and at such an unexpected reprieve from danger. The partisans

of Brasidas now openly advocated this course, seeing that the feeling

of the people had changed, and that they no longer gave ear to the

Athenian general present; and thus the surrender was made and Brasidas

was admitted by them on the terms of his proclamation. In this way

they gave up the city, and late in the same day Thucydides and his

ships entered the harbour of Eion, Brasidas having just got hold of

Amphipolis, and having been within a night of taking Eion: had the

ships been less prompt in relieving it, in the morning it would have

been his.


After this Thucydides put all in order at Eion to secure it against

any present or future attack of Brasidas, and received such as had

elected to come there from the interior according to the terms agreed

on. Meanwhile Brasidas suddenly sailed with a number of boats down

the river to Eion to see if he could not seize the point running out

from the wall, and so command the entrance; at the same time he attempted

it by land, but was beaten off on both sides and had to content himself

with arranging matters at Amphipolis and in the neighbourhood. Myrcinus,

an Edonian town, also came over to him; the Edonian king Pittacus

having been killed by the sons of Goaxis and his own wife Brauro;

and Galepsus and Oesime, which are Thasian colonies, not long after

followed its example. Perdiccas too came up immediately after the

capture and joined in these arrangements.


The news that Amphipolis was in the hands of the enemy caused great

alarm at Athens. Not only was the town valuable for the timber it

afforded for shipbuilding, and the money that it brought in; but also,

although the escort of the Thessalians gave the Lacedaemonians a means

of reaching the allies of Athens as far as the Strymon, yet as long

as they were not masters of the bridge but were watched on the side

of Eion by the Athenian galleys, and on the land side impeded by a

large and extensive lake formed by the waters of the river, it was

impossible for them to go any further. Now, on the contrary, the path

seemed open. There was also the fear of the allies revolting, owing

to the moderation displayed by Brasidas in all his conduct, and to

the declarations which he was everywhere making that he sent out to

free Hellas. The towns subject to the Athenians, hearing of the capture

of Amphipolis and of the terms accorded to it, and of the gentleness

of Brasidas, felt most strongly encouraged to change their condition,

and sent secret messages to him, begging him to come on to them; each

wishing to be the first to revolt. Indeed there seemed to be no danger

in so doing; their mistake in their estimate of the Athenian power

was as great as that power afterwards turned out to be, and their

judgment was based more upon blind wishing than upon any sound prevision;

for it is a habit of mankind to entrust to careless hope what they

long for, and to use sovereign reason to thrust aside what they do

not fancy. Besides the late severe blow which the Athenians had met

with in Boeotia, joined to the seductive, though untrue, statements

of Brasidas, about the Athenians not having ventured to engage his

single army at Nisaea, made the allies confident, and caused them

to believe that no Athenian force would be sent against them. Above

all the wish to do what was agreeable at the moment, and the likelihood

that they should find the Lacedaemonians full of zeal at starting,

made them eager to venture. Observing this, the Athenians sent garrisons

to the different towns, as far as was possible at such short notice

and in winter; while Brasidas sent dispatches to Lacedaemon asking

for reinforcements, and himself made preparations for building galleys

in the Strymon. The Lacedaemonians however did not send him any, partly

through envy on the part of their chief men, partly because they were

more bent on recovering the prisoners of the island and ending the



The same winter the Megarians took and razed to the foundations the

long walls which had been occupied by the Athenians; and Brasidas

after the capture of Amphipolis marched with his allies against Acte,

a promontory running out from the King’s dike with an inward curve,

and ending in Athos, a lofty mountain looking towards the Aegean Sea.

In it are various towns, Sane, an Andrian colony, close to the canal,

and facing the sea in the direction of Euboea; the others being Thyssus,

Cleone, Acrothoi, Olophyxus, and Dium, inhabited by mixed barbarian

races speaking the two languages. There is also a small Chalcidian

element; but the greater number are Tyrrheno-Pelasgians once settled

in Lemnos and Athens, and Bisaltians, Crestonians, and Edonians; the

towns being all small ones. Most of these came over to Brasidas; but

Sane and Dium held out and saw their land ravaged by him and his army.


Upon their not submitting, he at once marched against Torone in Chalcidice,

which was held by an Athenian garrison, having been invited by a few

persons who were prepared to hand over the town. Arriving in the dark

a little before daybreak, he sat down with his army near the temple

of the Dioscuri, rather more than a quarter of a mile from the city.

The rest of the town of Torone and the Athenians in garrison did not

perceive his approach; but his partisans knowing that he was coming

(a few of them had secretly gone out to meet him) were on the watch

for his arrival, and were no sooner aware of it than they took it

to them seven light-armed men with daggers, who alone of twenty men

ordered on this service dared to enter, commanded by Lysistratus an

Olynthian. These passed through the sea wall, and without being seen

went up and put to the sword the garrison of the highest post in the

town, which stands on a hill, and broke open the postern on the side

of Canastraeum.


Brasidas meanwhile came a little nearer and then halted with his main

body, sending on one hundred targeteers to be ready to rush in first,

the moment that a gate should be thrown open and the beacon lighted

as agreed. After some time passed in waiting and wondering at the

delay, the targeteers by degrees got up close to the town. The Toronaeans

inside at work with the party that had entered had by this time broken

down the postern and opened the gates leading to the market-place

by cutting through the bar, and first brought some men round and let

them in by the postern, in order to strike a panic into the surprised

townsmen by suddenly attacking them from behind and on both sides

at once; after which they raised the fire-signal as had been agreed,

and took in by the market gates the rest of the targeteers.


Brasidas seeing the signal told the troops to rise, and dashed forward

amid the loud hurrahs of his men, which carried dismay among the astonished

townspeople. Some burst in straight by the gate, others over some

square pieces of timber placed against the wall (which has fallen

down and was being rebuilt) to draw up stones; Brasidas and the greater

number making straight uphill for the higher part of the town, in

order to take it from top to bottom, and once for all, while the rest

of the multitude spread in all directions.


The capture of the town was effected before the great body of the

Toronaeans had recovered from their surprise and confusion; but the

conspirators and the citizens of their party at once joined the invaders.

About fifty of the Athenian heavy infantry happened to be sleeping

in the market-place when the alarm reached them. A few of these were

killed fighting; the rest escaped, some by land, others to the two

ships on the station, and took refuge in Lecythus, a fort garrisoned

by their own men in the corner of the town running out into the sea

and cut off by a narrow isthmus; where they were joined by the Toronaeans

of their party.


Day now arrived, and the town being secured, Brasidas made a proclamation

to the Toronaeans who had taken refuge with the Athenians, to come

out, as many as chose, to their homes without fearing for their rights

or persons, and sent a herald to invite the Athenians to accept a

truce, and to evacuate Lecythus with their property, as being Chalcidian

ground. The Athenians refused this offer, but asked for a truce for

a day to take up their dead. Brasidas granted it for two days, which

he employed in fortifying the houses near, and the Athenians in doing

the same to their positions. Meanwhile he called a meeting of the

Toronaeans, and said very much what he had said at Acanthus, namely,

that they must not look upon those who had negotiated with him for

the capture of the town as bad men or as traitors, as they had not

acted as they had done from corrupt motives or in order to enslave

the city, but for the good and freedom of Torone; nor again must those

who had not shared in the enterprise fancy that they would not equally

reap its fruits, as he had not come to destroy either city or individual.

This was the reason of his proclamation to those that had fled for

refuge to the Athenians: he thought none the worse of them for their

friendship for the Athenians; he believed that they had only to make

trial of the Lacedaemonians to like them as well, or even much better,

as acting much more justly: it was for want of such a trial that they

were now afraid of them. Meanwhile he warned all of them to prepare

to be staunch allies, and for being held responsible for all faults

in future: for the past, they had not wronged the Lacedaemonians but

had been wronged by others who were too strong for them, and any opposition

that they might have offered him could be excused.


Having encouraged them with this address, as soon as the truce expired

he made his attack upon Lecythus; the Athenians defending themselves

from a poor wall and from some houses with parapets. One day they

beat him off; the next the enemy were preparing to bring up an engine

against them from which they meant to throw fire upon the wooden defences,

and the troops were already coming up to the point where they fancied

they could best bring up the engine, and where place was most assailable;

meanwhile the Athenians put a wooden tower upon a house opposite,

and carried up a quantity of jars and casks of water and big stones,

and a large number of men also climbed up. The house thus laden too

heavily suddenly broke down with a loud crash; at which the men who

were near and saw it were more vexed than frightened; but those not

so near, and still more those furthest off, thought that the place

was already taken at that point, and fled in haste to the sea and

the ships.


Brasidas, perceiving that they were deserting the parapet, and seeing

what was going on, dashed forward with his troops, and immediately

took the fort, and put to the sword all whom he found in it. In this

way the place was evacuated by the Athenians, who went across in their

boats and ships to Pallene. Now there is a temple of Athene in Lecythus,

and Brasidas had proclaimed in the moment of making the assault that

he would give thirty silver minae to the man first on the wall. Being

now of opinion that the capture was scarcely due to human means, he

gave the thirty minae to the goddess for her temple, and razed and

cleared Lecythus, and made the whole of it consecrated ground. The

rest of the winter he spent in settling the places in his hands, and

in making designs upon the rest; and with the expiration of the winter

the eighth year of this war ended.


In the spring of the summer following, the Lacedaemonians and Athenians

made an armistice for a year; the Athenians thinking that they would

thus have full leisure to take their precautions before Brasidas could

procure the revolt of any more of their towns, and might also, if

it suited them, conclude a general peace; the Lacedaemonians divining

the actual fears of the Athenians, and thinking that after once tasting

a respite from trouble and misery they would be more disposed to consent

to a reconciliation, and to give back the prisoners, and make a treaty

for the longer period. The great idea of the Lacedaemonians was to

get back their men while Brasidas’s good fortune lasted: further successes

might make the struggle a less unequal one in Chalcidice, but would

leave them still deprived of their men, and even in Chalcidice not

more than a match for the Athenians and by no means certain of victory.

An armistice was accordingly concluded by Lacedaemon and her allies

upon the terms following:


1. As to the temple and oracle of the Pythian Apollo, we are agreed

that whosoever will shall have access to it, without fraud or fear,

according to the usages of his forefathers. The Lacedaemonians and

the allies present agree to this, and promise to send heralds to the

Boeotians and Phocians, and to do their best to persuade them to agree



2. As to the treasure of the god, we agree to exert ourselves to detect

all malversators, truly and honestly following the customs of our

forefathers, we and you and all others willing to do so, all following

the customs of our forefathers. As to these points the Lacedaemonians

and the other allies are agreed as has been said.


3. As to what follows, the Lacedaemonians and the other allies agree,

if the Athenians conclude a treaty, to remain, each of us in our own

territory, retaining our respective acquisitions: the garrison in

Coryphasium keeping within Buphras and Tomeus: that in Cythera attempting

no communication with the Peloponnesian confederacy, neither we with

them, nor they with us: that in Nisaea and Minoa not crossing the

road leading from the gates of the temple of Nisus to that of Poseidon

and from thence straight to the bridge at Minoa: the Megarians and

the allies being equally bound not to cross this road, and the Athenians

retaining the island they have taken, without any communication on

either side: as to Troezen, each side retaining what it has, and as

was arranged with the Athenians.


4. As to the use of the sea, so far as refers to their own coast and

to that of their confederacy, that the Lacedaemonians and their allies

may voyage upon it in any vessel rowed by oars and of not more than

five hundred talents tonnage, not a vessel of war.


5. That all heralds and embassies, with as many attendants as they

please, for concluding the war and adjusting claims, shall have free

passage, going and coming, to Peloponnese or Athens by land and by



6. That during the truce, deserters whether bond or free shall be

received neither by you, nor by us.


7. Further, that satisfaction shall be given by you to us and by us

to you according to the public law of our several countries, all disputes

being settled by law without recourse to hostilities.


The Lacedaemonians and allies agree to these articles; but if you

have anything fairer or juster to suggest, come to Lacedaemon and

let us know: whatever shall be just will meet with no objection either

from the Lacedaemonians or from the allies. Only let those who come

come with full powers, as you desire us. The truce shall be for one



Approved by the people.

The tribe of Acamantis had the prytany, Phoenippus was secretary,

Niciades chairman. Laches moved, in the name of the good luck of the

Athenians, that they should conclude the armistice upon the terms

agreed upon by the Lacedaemonians and the allies. It was agreed accordingly

in the popular assembly that the armistice should be for one year,

beginning that very day, the fourteenth of the month of Elaphebolion;

during which time ambassadors and heralds should go and come between

the two countries to discuss the bases of a pacification. That the

generals and prytanes should call an assembly of the people, in which

the Athenians should first consult on the peace, and on the mode in

which the embassy for putting an end to the war should be admitted.

That the embassy now present should at once take the engagement before

the people to keep well and truly this truce for one year.


On these terms the Lacedaemonians concluded with the Athenians and

their allies on the twelfth day of the Spartan month Gerastius; the

allies also taking the oaths. Those who concluded and poured the libation

were Taurus, son of Echetimides, Athenaeus, son of Pericleidas, and

Philocharidas, son of Eryxidaidas, Lacedaemonians; Aeneas, son of

Ocytus, and Euphamidas, son of Aristonymus, Corinthians; Damotimus,

son of Naucrates, and Onasimus, son of Megacles, Sicyonians; Nicasus,

son of Cecalus, and Menecrates, son of Amphidorus, Megarians; and

Amphias, son of Eupaidas, an Epidaurian; and the Athenian generals

Nicostratus, son of Diitrephes, Nicias, son of Niceratus, and Autocles,

son of Tolmaeus. Such was the armistice, and during the whole of it

conferences went on on the subject of a pacification.


In the days in which they were going backwards and forwards to these

conferences, Scione, a town in Pallene, revolted from Athens, and

went over to Brasidas. The Scionaeans say that they are Pallenians

from Peloponnese, and that their first founders on their voyage from

Troy were carried in to this spot by the storm which the Achaeans

were caught in, and there settled. The Scionaeans had no sooner revolted

than Brasidas crossed over by night to Scione, with a friendly galley

ahead and himself in a small boat some way behind; his idea being

that if he fell in with a vessel larger than the boat he would have

the galley to defend him, while a ship that was a match for the galley

would probably neglect the small vessel to attack the large one, and

thus leave him time to escape. His passage effected, he called a meeting

of the Scionaeans and spoke to the same effect as at Acanthus and

Torone, adding that they merited the utmost commendation, in that,

in spite of Pallene within the isthmus being cut off by the Athenian

occupation of Potidaea and of their own practically insular position,

they had of their own free will gone forward to meet their liberty

instead of timorously waiting until they had been by force compelled

to their own manifest good. This was a sign that they would valiantly

undergo any trial, however great; and if he should order affairs as

he intended, he should count them among the truest and sincerest friends

of the Lacedaemonians, and would in every other way honour them.


The Scionaeans were elated by his language, and even those who had

at first disapproved of what was being done catching the general confidence,

they determined on a vigorous conduct of the war, and welcomed Brasidas

with all possible honours, publicly crowning him with a crown of gold

as the liberator of Hellas; while private persons crowded round him

and decked him with garlands as though he had been an athlete. Meanwhile

Brasidas left them a small garrison for the present and crossed back

again, and not long afterwards sent over a larger force, intending

with the help of the Scionaeans to attempt Mende and Potidaea before

the Athenians should arrive; Scione, he felt, being too like an island

for them not to relieve it. He had besides intelligence in the above

towns about their betrayal.


In the midst of his designs upon the towns in question, a galley arrived

with the commissioners carrying round the news of the armistice, Aristonymus

for the Athenians and Athenaeus for the Lacedaemonians. The troops

now crossed back to Torone, and the commissioners gave Brasidas notice

of the convention. All the Lacedaemonian allies in Thrace accepted

what had been done; and Aristonymus made no difficulty about the rest,

but finding, on counting the days, that the Scionaeans had revolted

after the date of the convention, refused to include them in it. To

this Brasidas earnestly objected, asserting that the revolt took place

before, and would not give up the town. Upon Aristonymus reporting

the case to Athens, the people at once prepared to send an expedition

to Scione. Upon this, envoys arrived from Lacedaemon, alleging that

this would be a breach of the truce, and laying claim to the town

upon the faith of the assertion of Brasidas, and meanwhile offering

to submit the question to arbitration. Arbitration, however, was what

the Athenians did not choose to risk; being determined to send troops

at once to the place, and furious at the idea of even the islanders

now daring to revolt, in a vain reliance upon the power of the Lacedaemonians

by land. Besides the facts of the revolt were rather as the Athenians

contended, the Scionaeans having revolted two days after the convention.

Cleon accordingly succeeded in carrying a decree to reduce and put

to death the Scionaeans; and the Athenians employed the leisure which

they now enjoyed in preparing for the expedition. Meanwhile Mende

revolted, a town in Pallene and a colony of the Eretrians, and was

received without scruple by Brasidas, in spite of its having evidently

come over during the armistice, on account of certain infringements

of the truce alleged by him against the Athenians. This audacity of

Mende was partly caused by seeing Brasidas forward in the matter and

by the conclusions drawn from his refusal to betray Scione; and besides,

the conspirators in Mende were few, and, as I have already intimated,

had carried on their practices too long not to fear detection for

themselves, and not to wish to force the inclination of the multitude.

This news made the Athenians more furious than ever, and they at once

prepared against both towns. Brasidas, expecting their arrival, conveyed

away to Olynthus in Chalcidice the women and children of the Scionaeans

and Mendaeans, and sent over to them five hundred Peloponnesian heavy

infantry and three hundred Chalcidian targeteers, all under the command

of Polydamidas.


Leaving these two towns to prepare together against the speedy arrival

of the Athenians, Brasidas and Perdiccas started on a second joint

expedition into Lyncus against Arrhabaeus; the latter with the forces

of his Macedonian subjects, and a corps of heavy infantry composed

of Hellenes domiciled in the country; the former with the Peloponnesians

whom he still had with him and the Chalcidians, Acanthians, and the

rest in such force as they were able. In all there were about three

thousand Hellenic heavy infantry, accompanied by all the Macedonian

cavalry with the Chalcidians, near one thousand strong, besides an

immense crowd of barbarians. On entering the country of Arrhabaeus,

they found the Lyncestians encamped awaiting them, and themselves

took up a position opposite. The infantry on either side were upon

a hill, with a plain between them, into which the horse of both armies

first galloped down and engaged a cavalry action. After this the Lyncestian

heavy infantry advanced from their hill to join their cavalry and

offered battle; upon which Brasidas and Perdiccas also came down to

meet them, and engaged and routed them with heavy loss; the survivors

taking refuge upon the heights and there remaining inactive. The victors

now set up a trophy and waited two or three days for the Illyrian

mercenaries who were to join Perdiccas. Perdiccas then wished to go

on and attack the villages of Arrhabaeus, and to sit still no longer;

but Brasidas, afraid that the Athenians might sail up during his absence,

and of something happening to Mende, and seeing besides that the Illyrians

did not appear, far from seconding this wish was anxious to return.


While they were thus disputing, the news arrived that the Illyrians

had actually betrayed Perdiccas and had joined Arrhabaeus; and the

fear inspired by their warlike character made both parties now think

it best to retreat. However, owing to the dispute, nothing had been

settled as to when they should start; and night coming on, the Macedonians

and the barbarian crowd took fright in a moment in one of those mysterious

panics to which great armies are liable; and persuaded that an army

many times more numerous than that which had really arrived was advancing

and all but upon them, suddenly broke and fled in the direction of

home, and thus compelled Perdiccas, who at first did not perceive

what had occurred, to depart without seeing Brasidas, the two armies

being encamped at a considerable distance from each other. At daybreak

Brasidas, perceiving that the Macedonians had gone on, and that the

Illyrians and Arrhabaeus were on the point of attacking him, formed

his heavy infantry into a square, with the light troops in the centre,

and himself also prepared to retreat. Posting his youngest soldiers

to dash out wherever the enemy should attack them, he himself with

three hundred picked men in the rear intended to face about during

the retreat and beat off the most forward of their assailants, Meanwhile,

before the enemy approached, he sought to sustain the courage of his

soldiers with the following hasty exhortation:


“Peloponnesians, if I did not suspect you of being dismayed at being

left alone to sustain the attack of a numerous and barbarian enemy,

I should just have said a few words to you as usual without further

explanation. As it is, in the face of the desertion of our friends

and the numbers of the enemy, I have some advice and information to

offer, which, brief as they must be, will, I hope, suffice for the

more important points. The bravery that you habitually display in

war does not depend on your having allies at your side in this or

that encounter, but on your native courage; nor have numbers any terrors

for citizens of states like yours, in which the many do not rule the

few, but rather the few the many, owing their position to nothing

else than to superiority in the field. Inexperience now makes you

afraid of barbarians; and yet the trial of strength which you had

with the Macedonians among them, and my own judgment, confirmed by

what I hear from others, should be enough to satisfy you that they

will not prove formidable. Where an enemy seems strong but is really

weak, a true knowledge of the facts makes his adversary the bolder,

just as a serious antagonist is encountered most confidently by those

who do not know him. Thus the present enemy might terrify an inexperienced

imagination; they are formidable in outward bulk, their loud yelling

is unbearable, and the brandishing of their weapons in the air has

a threatening appearance. But when it comes to real fighting with

an opponent who stands his ground, they are not what they seemed;

they have no regular order that they should be ashamed of deserting

their positions when hard pressed; flight and attack are with them

equally honourable, and afford no test of courage; their independent

mode of fighting never leaving any one who wants to run away without

a fair excuse for so doing. In short, they think frightening you at

a secure distance a surer game than meeting you hand to hand; otherwise

they would have done the one and not the other. You can thus plainly

see that the terrors with which they were at first invested are in

fact trifling enough, though to the eye and ear very prominent. Stand

your ground therefore when they advance, and again wait your opportunity

to retire in good order, and you will reach a place of safety all

the sooner, and will know for ever afterwards that rabble such as

these, to those who sustain their first attack, do but show off their

courage by threats of the terrible things that they are going to do,

at a distance, but with those who give way to them are quick enough

to display their heroism in pursuit when they can do so without danger.”


With this brief address Brasidas began to lead off his army. Seeing

this, the barbarians came on with much shouting and hubbub, thinking

that he was flying and that they would overtake him and cut him off.

But wherever they charged they found the young men ready to dash out

against them, while Brasidas with his picked company sustained their

onset. Thus the Peloponnesians withstood the first attack, to the

surprise of the enemy, and afterwards received and repulsed them as

fast as they came on, retiring as soon as their opponents became quiet.

The main body of the barbarians ceased therefore to molest the Hellenes

with Brasidas in the open country, and leaving behind a certain number

to harass their march, the rest went on after the flying Macedonians,

slaying those with whom they came up, and so arrived in time to occupy

the narrow pass between two hills that leads into the country of Arrhabaeus.

They knew that this was the only way by which Brasidas could retreat,

and now proceeded to surround him just as he entered the most impracticable

part of the road, in order to cut him off.


Brasidas, perceiving their intention, told his three hundred to run

on without order, each as quickly as he could, to the hill which seemed

easiest to take, and to try to dislodge the barbarians already there,

before they should be joined by the main body closing round him. These

attacked and overpowered the party upon the hill, and the main army

of the Hellenes now advanced with less difficulty towards it- the

barbarians being terrified at seeing their men on that side driven

from the height and no longer following the main body, who, they considered,

had gained the frontier and made good their escape. The heights once

gained, Brasidas now proceeded more securely, and the same day arrived

at Arnisa, the first town in the dominions of Perdiccas. The soldiers,

enraged at the desertion of the Macedonians, vented their rage on

all their yokes of oxen which they found on the road, and on any baggage

which had tumbled off (as might easily happen in the panic of a night

retreat), by unyoking and cutting down the cattle and taking the baggage

for themselves. From this moment Perdiccas began to regard Brasidas

as an enemy and to feel against the Peloponnesians a hatred which

could not be congenial to the adversary of the Athenians. However,

he departed from his natural interests and made it his endeavour to

come to terms with the latter and to get rid of the former.


On his return from Macedonia to Torone, Brasidas found the Athenians

already masters of Mende, and remained quiet where he was, thinking

it now out of his power to cross over into Pallene and assist the

Mendaeans, but he kept good watch over Torone. For about the same

time as the campaign in Lyncus, the Athenians sailed upon the expedition

which we left them preparing against Mende and Scione, with fifty

ships, ten of which were Chians, one thousand Athenian heavy infantry

and six hundred archers, one hundred Thracian mercenaries and some

targeteers drawn from their allies in the neighbourhood, under the

command of Nicias, son of Niceratus, and Nicostratus, son of Diitrephes.

Weighing from Potidaea, the fleet came to land opposite the temple

of Poseidon, and proceeded against Mende; the men of which town, reinforced

by three hundred Scionaeans, with their Peloponnesian auxiliaries,

seven hundred heavy infantry in all, under Polydamidas, they found

encamped upon a strong hill outside the city. These Nicias, with one

hundred and twenty light-armed Methonaeans, sixty picked men from

the Athenian heavy infantry, and all the archers, tried to reach by

a path running up the hill, but received a wound and found himself

unable to force the position; while Nicostratus, with all the rest

of the army, advancing upon the hill, which was naturally difficult,

by a different approach further off, was thrown into utter disorder;

and the whole Athenian army narrowly escaped being defeated. For that

day, as the Mendaeans and their allies showed no signs of yielding,

the Athenians retreated and encamped, and the Mendaeans at nightfall

returned into the town.


The next day the Athenians sailed round to the Scione side, and took

the suburb, and all day plundered the country, without any one coming

out against them, partly because of intestine disturbances in the

town; and the following night the three hundred Scionaeans returned

home. On the morrow Nicias advanced with half the army to the frontier

of Scione and laid waste the country; while Nicostratus with the remainder

sat down before the town near the upper gate on the road to Potidaea.

The arms of the Mendaeans and of their Peloponnesian auxiliaries within

the wall happened to be piled in that quarter, where Polydamidas accordingly

began to draw them up for battle, encouraging the Mendaeans to make

a sortie. At this moment one of the popular party answered him factiously

that they would not go out and did not want a war, and for thus answering

was dragged by the arm and knocked about by Polydamidas. Hereupon

the infuriated commons at once seized their arms and rushed at the

Peloponnesians and at their allies of the opposite faction. The troops

thus assaulted were at once routed, partly from the suddenness of

the conflict and partly through fear of the gates being opened to

the Athenians, with whom they imagined that the attack had been concerted.

As many as were not killed on the spot took refuge in the citadel,

which they had held from the first; and the whole, Athenian army,

Nicias having by this time returned and being close to the city, now

burst into Mende, which had opened its gates without any convention,

and sacked it just as if they had taken it by storm, the generals

even finding some difficulty in restraining them from also massacring

the inhabitants. After this the Athenians told the Mendaeans that

they might retain their civil rights, and themselves judge the supposed

authors of the revolt; and cut off the party in the citadel by a wall

built down to the sea on either side, appointing troops to maintain

the blockade. Having thus secured Mende, they proceeded against Scione.


The Scionaeans and Peloponnesians marched out against them, occupying

a strong hill in front of the town, which had to be captured by the

enemy before they could invest the place. The Athenians stormed the

hill, defeated and dislodged its occupants, and, having encamped and

set up a trophy, prepared for the work of circumvallation. Not long

after they had begun their operations, the auxiliaries besieged in

the citadel of Mende forced the guard by the sea-side and arrived

by night at Scione, into which most of them succeeded in entering,

passing through the besieging army.


While the investment of Scione was in progress, Perdiccas sent a herald

to the Athenian generals and made peace with the Athenians, through

spite against Brasidas for the retreat from Lyncus, from which moment

indeed he had begun to negotiate. The Lacedaemonian Ischagoras was

just then upon the point of starting with an army overland to join

Brasidas; and Perdiccas, being now required by Nicias to give some

proof of the sincerity of his reconciliation to the Athenians, and

being himself no longer disposed to let the Peloponnesians into his

country, put in motion his friends in Thessaly, with whose chief men

he always took care to have relations, and so effectually stopped

the army and its preparation that they did not even try the Thessalians.

Ischagoras himself, however, with Ameinias and Aristeus, succeeded

in reaching Brasidas; they had been commissioned by the Lacedaemonians

to inspect the state of affairs, and brought out from Sparta (in violation

of all precedent) some of their young men to put in command of the

towns, to guard against their being entrusted to the persons upon

the spot. Brasidas accordingly placed Clearidas, son of Cleonymus,

in Amphipolis, and Pasitelidas, son of Hegesander, in Torone.


The same summer the Thebans dismantled the wall of the Thespians on

the charge of Atticism, having always wished to do so, and now finding

it an easy matter, as the flower of the Thespian youth had perished

in the battle with the Athenians. The same summer also the temple

of Hera at Argos was burnt down, through Chrysis, the priestess, placing

a lighted torch near the garlands and then falling asleep, so that

they all caught fire and were in a blaze before she observed it. Chrysis

that very night fled to Phlius for fear of the Argives, who, agreeably

to the law in such a case, appointed another priestess named Phaeinis.

Chrysis at the time of her flight had been priestess for eight years

of the present war and half the ninth. At the close of the summer

the investment of Scione was completed, and the Athenians, leaving

a detachment to maintain the blockade, returned with the rest of their



During the winter following, the Athenians and Lacedaemonians were

kept quiet by the armistice; but the Mantineans and Tegeans, and their

respective allies, fought a battle at Laodicium, in the Oresthid.

The victory remained doubtful, as each side routed one of the wings

opposed to them, and both set up trophies and sent spoils to Delphi.

After heavy loss on both sides the battle was undecided, and night

interrupted the action; yet the Tegeans passed the night on the field

and set up a trophy at once, while the Mantineans withdrew to Bucolion

and set up theirs afterwards.


At the close of the same winter, in fact almost in spring, Brasidas

made an attempt upon Potidaea. He arrived by night, and succeeded

in planting a ladder against the wall without being discovered, the

ladder being planted just in the interval between the passing round

of the bell and the return of the man who brought it back. Upon the

garrison, however, taking the alarm immediately afterwards, before

his men came up, he quickly led off his troops, without waiting until

it was day. So ended the winter and the ninth year of this war of

which Thucydides is the historian.






Chapter XV


Tenth Year of the War – Death of Cleon and Brasidas – Peace of Nicias


The next summer the truce for a year ended, after lasting until the

Pythian games. During the armistice the Athenians expelled the Delians

from Delos, concluding that they must have been polluted by some old

offence at the time of their consecration, and that this had been

the omission in the previous purification of the island, which, as

I have related, had been thought to have been duly accomplished by

the removal of the graves of the dead. The Delians had Atramyttium

in Asia given them by Pharnaces, and settled there as they removed

from Delos.


Meanwhile Cleon prevailed on the Athenians to let him set sail at

the expiration of the armistice for the towns in the direction of

Thrace with twelve hundred heavy infantry and three hundred horse

from Athens, a large force of the allies, and thirty ships. First

touching at the still besieged Scione, and taking some heavy infantry

from the army there, he next sailed into Cophos, a harbour in the

territory of Torone, which is not far from the town. From thence,

having learnt from deserters that Brasidas was not in Torone, and

that its garrison was not strong enough to give him battle, he advanced

with his army against the town, sending ten ships to sail round into

the harbour. He first came to the fortification lately thrown up in

front of the town by Brasidas in order to take in the suburb, to do

which he had pulled down part of the original wall and made it all

one city. To this point Pasitelidas, the Lacedaemonian commander,

with such garrison as there was in the place, hurried to repel the

Athenian assault; but finding himself hard pressed, and seeing the

ships that had been sent round sailing into the harbour, Pasitelidas

began to be afraid that they might get up to the city before its defenders

were there and, the fortification being also carried, he might be

taken prisoner, and so abandoned the outwork and ran into the town.

But the Athenians from the ships had already taken Torone, and their

land forces following at his heels burst in with him with a rush over

the part of the old wall that had been pulled down, killing some of

the Peloponnesians and Toronaeans in the melee, and making prisoners

of the rest, and Pasitelidas their commander amongst them. Brasidas

meanwhile had advanced to relieve Torone, and had only about four

miles more to go when he heard of its fall on the road, and turned

back again. Cleon and the Athenians set up two trophies, one by the

harbour, the other by the fortification and, making slaves of the

wives and children of the Toronaeans, sent the men with the Peloponnesians

and any Chalcidians that were there, to the number of seven hundred,

to Athens; whence, however, they all came home afterwards, the Peloponnesians

on the conclusion of peace, and the rest by being exchanged against

other prisoners with the Olynthians. About the same time Panactum,

a fortress on the Athenian border, was taken by treachery by the Boeotians.

Meanwhile Cleon, after placing a garrison in Torone, weighed anchor

and sailed around Athos on his way to Amphipolis.


About the same time Phaeax, son of Erasistratus, set sail with two

colleagues as ambassador from Athens to Italy and Sicily. The Leontines,

upon the departure of the Athenians from Sicily after the pacification,

had placed a number of new citizens upon the roll, and the commons

had a design for redividing the land; but the upper classes, aware

of their intention, called in the Syracusans and expelled the commons.

These last were scattered in various directions; but the upper classes

came to an agreement with the Syracusans, abandoned and laid waste

their city, and went and lived at Syracuse, where they were made citizens.

Afterwards some of them were dissatisfied, and leaving Syracuse occupied

Phocaeae, a quarter of the town of Leontini, and Bricinniae, a strong

place in the Leontine country, and being there joined by most of the

exiled commons carried on war from the fortifications. The Athenians

hearing this, sent Phaeax to see if they could not by some means so

convince their allies there and the rest of the Sicilians of the ambitious

designs of Syracuse as to induce them to form a general coalition

against her, and thus save the commons of Leontini. Arrived in Sicily,

Phaeax succeeded at Camarina and Agrigentum, but meeting with a repulse

at Gela did not go on to the rest, as he saw that he should not succeed

with them, but returned through the country of the Sicels to Catana,

and after visiting Bricinniae as he passed, and encouraging its inhabitants,

sailed back to Athens.


During his voyage along the coast to and from Sicily, he treated with

some cities in Italy on the subject of friendship with Athens, and

also fell in with some Locrian settlers exiled from Messina, who had

been sent thither when the Locrians were called in by one of the factions

that divided Messina after the pacification of Sicily, and Messina

came for a time into the hands of the Locrians. These being met by

Phaeax on their return home received no injury at his hands, as the

Locrians had agreed with him for a treaty with Athens. They were the

only people of the allies who, when the reconciliation between the

Sicilians took place, had not made peace with her; nor indeed would

they have done so now, if they had not been pressed by a war with

the Hipponians and Medmaeans who lived on their border, and were colonists

of theirs. Phaeax meanwhile proceeded on his voyage, and at length

arrived at Athens.


Cleon, whom we left on his voyage from Torone to Amphipolis, made

Eion his base, and after an unsuccessful assault upon the Andrian

colony of Stagirus, took Galepsus, a colony of Thasos, by storm. He

now sent envoys to Perdiccas to command his attendance with an army,

as provided by the alliance; and others to Thrace, to Polles, king

of the Odomantians, who was to bring as many Thracian mercenaries

as possible; and himself remained inactive in Eion, awaiting their

arrival. Informed of this, Brasidas on his part took up a position

of observation upon Cerdylium, a place situated in the Argilian country

on high ground across the river, not far from Amphipolis, and commanding

a view on all sides, and thus made it impossible for Cleon’s army

to move without his seeing it; for he fully expected that Cleon, despising

the scanty numbers of his opponent, would march against Amphipolis

with the force that he had got with him. At the same time Brasidas

made his preparations, calling to his standard fifteen hundred Thracian

mercenaries and all the Edonians, horse and targeteers; he also had

a thousand Myrcinian and Chalcidian targeteers, besides those in Amphipolis,

and a force of heavy infantry numbering altogether about two thousand,

and three hundred Hellenic horse. Fifteen hundred of these he had

with him upon Cerdylium; the rest were stationed with Clearidas in



After remaining quiet for some time, Cleon was at length obliged to

do as Brasidas expected. His soldiers, tired of their inactivity,

began also seriously to reflect on the weakness and incompetence of

their commander, and the skill and valour that would be opposed to

him, and on their own original unwillingness to accompany him. These

murmurs coming to the ears of Cleon, he resolved not to disgust the

army by keeping it in the same place, and broke up his camp and advanced.

The temper of the general was what it had been at Pylos, his success

on that occasion having given him confidence in his capacity. He never

dreamed of any one coming out to fight him, but said that he was rather

going up to view the place; and if he waited for his reinforcements,

it was not in order to make victory secure in case he should be compelled

to engage, but to be enabled to surround and storm the city. He accordingly

came and posted his army upon a strong hill in front of Amphipolis,

and proceeded to examine the lake formed by the Strymon, and how the

town lay on the side of Thrace. He thought to retire at pleasure without

fighting, as there was no one to be seen upon the wall or coming out

of the gates, all of which were shut. Indeed, it seemed a mistake

not to have brought down engines with him; he could then have taken

the town, there being no one to defend it.


As soon as Brasidas saw the Athenians in motion he descended himself

from Cerdylium and entered Amphipolis. He did not venture to go out

in regular order against the Athenians: he mistrusted his strength,

and thought it inadequate to the attempt; not in numbers- these were

not so unequal- but in quality, the flower of the Athenian army being

in the field, with the best of the Lemnians and Imbrians. He therefore

prepared to assail them by stratagem. By showing the enemy the number

of his troops, and the shifts which he had been put to to to arm them,

he thought that he should have less chance of beating him than by

not letting him have a sight of them, and thus learn how good a right

he had to despise them. He accordingly picked out a hundred and fifty

heavy infantry and, putting the rest under Clearidas, determined to

attack suddenly before the Athenians retired; thinking that he should

not have again such a chance of catching them alone, if their reinforcements

were once allowed to come up; and so calling all his soldiers together

in order to encourage them and explain his intention, spoke as follows:


“Peloponnesians, the character of the country from which we have come,

one which has always owed its freedom to valour, and the fact that

you are Dorians and the enemy you are about to fight Ionians, whom

you are accustomed to beat, are things that do not need further comment.

But the plan of attack that I propose to pursue, this it is as well

to explain, in order that the fact of our adventuring with a part

instead of with the whole of our forces may not damp your courage

by the apparent disadvantage at which it places you. I imagine it

is the poor opinion that he has of us, and the fact that he has no

idea of any one coming out to engage him, that has made the enemy

march up to the place and carelessly look about him as he is doing,

without noticing us. But the most successful soldier will always be

the man who most happily detects a blunder like this, and who carefully

consulting his own means makes his attack not so much by open and

regular approaches, as by seizing the opportunity of the moment; and

these stratagems, which do the greatest service to our friends by

most completely deceiving our enemies, have the most brilliant name

in war. Therefore, while their careless confidence continues, and

they are still thinking, as in my judgment they are now doing, more

of retreat than of maintaining their position, while their spirit

is slack and not high-strung with expectation, I with the men under

my command will, if possible, take them by surprise and fall with

a run upon their centre; and do you, Clearidas, afterwards, when you

see me already upon them, and, as is likely, dealing terror among

them, take with you the Amphipolitans, and the rest of the allies,

and suddenly open the gates and dash at them, and hasten to engage

as quickly as you can. That is our best chance of establishing a panic

among them, as a fresh assailant has always more terrors for an enemy

than the one he is immediately engaged with. Show yourself a brave

man, as a Spartan should; and do you, allies, follow him like men,

and remember that zeal, honour, and obedience mark the good soldier,

and that this day will make you either free men and allies of Lacedaemon,

or slaves of Athens; even if you escape without personal loss of liberty

or life, your bondage will be on harsher terms than before, and you

will also hinder the liberation of the rest of the Hellenes. No cowardice

then on your part, seeing the greatness of the issues at stake, and

I will show that what I preach to others I can practise myself.”


After this brief speech Brasidas himself prepared for the sally, and

placed the rest with Clearidas at the Thracian gates to support him

as had been agreed. Meanwhile he had been seen coming down from Cerdylium

and then in the city, which is overlooked from the outside, sacrificing

near the temple of Athene; in short, all his movements had been observed,

and word was brought to Cleon, who had at the moment gone on to look

about him, that the whole of the enemy’s force could be seen in the

town, and that the feet of horses and men in great numbers were visible

under the gates, as if a sally were intended. Upon hearing this he

went up to look, and having done so, being unwilling to venture upon

the decisive step of a battle before his reinforcements came up, and

fancying that he would have time to retire, bid the retreat be sounded

and sent orders to the men to effect it by moving on the left wing

in the direction of Eion, which was indeed the only way practicable.

This however not being quick enough for him, he joined the retreat

in person and made the right wing wheel round, thus turning its unarmed

side to the enemy. It was then that Brasidas, seeing the Athenian

force in motion and his opportunity come, said to the men with him

and the rest: “Those fellows will never stand before us, one can see

that by the way their spears and heads are going. Troops which do

as they do seldom stand a charge. Quick, someone, and open the gates

I spoke of, and let us be out and at them with no fears for the result.”

Accordingly issuing out by the palisade gate and by the first in the

long wall then existing, he ran at the top of his speed along the

straight road, where the trophy now stands as you go by the steepest

part of the hill, and fell upon and routed the centre of the Athenians,

panic-stricken by their own disorder and astounded at his audacity.

At the same moment Clearidas in execution of his orders issued out

from the Thracian gates to support him, and also attacked the enemy.

The result was that the Athenians, suddenly and unexpectedly attacked

on both sides, fell into confusion; and their left towards Eion, which

had already got on some distance, at once broke and fled. Just as

it was in full retreat and Brasidas was passing on to attack the right,

he received a wound; but his fall was not perceived by the Athenians,

as he was taken up by those near him and carried off the field. The

Athenian right made a better stand, and though Cleon, who from the

first had no thought of fighting, at once fled and was overtaken and

slain by a Myrcinian targeteer, his infantry forming in close order

upon the hill twice or thrice repulsed the attacks of Clearidas, and

did not finally give way until they were surrounded and routed by

the missiles of the Myrcinian and Chalcidian horse and the targeteers.

Thus the Athenian army was all now in flight; and such as escaped

being killed in the battle, or by the Chalcidian horse and the targeteers,

dispersed among the hills, and with difficulty made their way to Eion.

The men who had taken up and rescued Brasidas, brought him into the

town with the breath still in him: he lived to hear of the victory

of his troops, and not long after expired. The rest of the army returning

with Clearidas from the pursuit stripped the dead and set up a trophy.

After this all the allies attended in arms and buried Brasidas at

the public expense in the city, in front of what is now the marketplace,

and the Amphipolitans, having enclosed his tomb, ever afterwards sacrifice

to him as a hero and have given to him the honour of games and annual

offerings. They constituted him the founder of their colony, and pulled

down the Hagnonic erections, and obliterated everything that could

be interpreted as a memorial of his having founded the place; for

they considered that Brasidas had been their preserver, and courting

as they did the alliance of Lacedaemon for fear of Athens, in their

present hostile relations with the latter they could no longer with

the same advantage or satisfaction pay Hagnon his honours. They also

gave the Athenians back their dead. About six hundred of the latter

had fallen and only seven of the enemy, owing to there having been

no regular engagement, but the affair of accident and panic that I

have described. After taking up their dead the Athenians sailed off

home, while Clearidas and his troops remained to arrange matters at



About the same time three Lacedaemonians- Ramphias, Autocharidas,

and Epicydidas- led a reinforcement of nine hundred heavy infantry

to the towns in the direction of Thrace, and arriving at Heraclea

in Trachis reformed matters there as seemed good to them. While they

delayed there, this battle took place and so the summer ended.


With the beginning of the winter following, Ramphias and his companions

penetrated as far as Pierium in Thessaly; but as the Thessalians opposed

their further advance, and Brasidas whom they came to reinforce was

dead, they turned back home, thinking that the moment had gone by,

the Athenians being defeated and gone, and themselves not equal to

the execution of Brasidas’s designs. The main cause however of their

return was because they knew that when they set out Lacedaemonian

opinion was really in favour of peace.


Indeed it so happened that directly after the battle of Amphipolis

and the retreat of Ramphias from Thessaly, both sides ceased to prosecute

the war and turned their attention to peace. Athens had suffered severely

at Delium, and again shortly afterwards at Amphipolis, and had no

longer that confidence in her strength which had made her before refuse

to treat, in the belief of ultimate victory which her success at the

moment had inspired; besides, she was afraid of her allies being tempted

by her reverses to rebel more generally, and repented having let go

the splendid opportunity for peace which the affair of Pylos had offered.

Lacedaemon, on the other hand, found the event of the war to falsify

her notion that a few years would suffice for the overthrow of the

power of the Athenians by the devastation of their land. She had suffered

on the island a disaster hitherto unknown at Sparta; she saw her country

plundered from Pylos and Cythera; the Helots were deserting, and she

was in constant apprehension that those who remained in Peloponnese

would rely upon those outside and take advantage of the situation

to renew their old attempts at revolution. Besides this, as chance

would have it, her thirty years’ truce with the Argives was upon the

point of expiring; and they refused to renew it unless Cynuria were

restored to them; so that it seemed impossible to fight Argos and

Athens at once. She also suspected some of the cities in Peloponnese

of intending to go over to the endeed was indeed the case.


These considerations made both sides disposed for an accommodation;

the Lacedaemonians being probably the most eager, as they ardently

desired to recover the men taken upon the island, the Spartans among

whom belonged to the first families and were accordingly related to

the governing body in Lacedaemon. Negotiations had been begun directly

after their capture, but the Athenians in their hour of triumph would

not consent to any reasonable terms; though after their defeat at

Delium, Lacedaemon, knowing that they would be now more inclined to

listen, at once concluded the armistice for a year, during which they

were to confer together and see if a longer period could not be agreed



Now, however, after the Athenian defeat at Amphipolis, and the death

of Cleon and Brasidas, who had been the two principal opponents of

peace on either side- the latter from the success and honour which

war gave him, the former because he thought that, if tranquillity

were restored, his crimes would be more open to detection and his

slanders less credited- the foremost candidates for power in either

city, Pleistoanax, son of Pausanias, king of Lacedaemon, and Nicias,

son of Niceratus, the most fortunate general of his time, each desired

peace more ardently than ever. Nicias, while still happy and honoured,

wished to secure his good fortune, to obtain a present release from

trouble for himself and his countrymen, and hand down to posterity

a name as an ever-successful statesman, and thought the way to do

this was to keep out of danger and commit himself as little as possible

to fortune, and that peace alone made this keeping out of danger possible.

Pleistoanax, again, was assailed by his enemies for his restoration,

and regularly held up by them to the prejudice of his countrymen,

upon every reverse that befell them, as though his unjust restoration

were the cause; the accusation being that he and his brother Aristocles

had bribed the prophetess of Delphi to tell the Lacedaemonian deputations

which successively arrived at the temple to bring home the seed of

the demigod son of Zeus from abroad, else they would have to plough

with a silver share. In this way, it was insisted, in time he had

induced the Lacedaemonians in the nineteenth year of his exile to

Lycaeum (whither he had gone when banished on suspicion of having

been bribed to retreat from Attica, and had built half his house within

the consecrated precinct of Zeus for fear of the Lacedaemonians),

to restore him with the same dances and sacrifices with which they

had instituted their kings upon the first settlement of Lacedaemon.

The smart of this accusation, and the reflection that in peace no

disaster could occur, and that when Lacedaemon had recovered her men

there would be nothing for his enemies to take hold of (whereas, while

war lasted, the highest station must always bear the scandal of everything

that went wrong), made him ardently desire a settlement. Accordingly

this winter was employed in conferences; and as spring rapidly approached,

the Lacedaemonians sent round orders to the cities to prepare for

a fortified occupation of Attica, and held this as a sword over the

heads of the Athenians to induce them to listen to their overtures;

and at last, after many claims had been urged on either side at the

conferences a peace was agreed on upon the following basis. Each party

was to restore its conquests, but Athens was to keep Nisaea; her demand

for Plataea being met by the Thebans asserting that they had acquired

the place not by force or treachery, but by the voluntary adhesion

upon agreement of its citizens; and the same, according to the Athenian

account, being the history of her acquisition of Nisaea. This arranged,

the Lacedaemonians summoned their allies, and all voting for peace

except the Boeotians, Corinthians, Eleans, and Megarians, who did

not approve of these proceedings, they concluded the treaty and made

peace, each of the contracting parties swearing to the following articles:


The Athenians and Lacedaemonians and their allies made a treaty, and

swore to it, city by city, as follows;


1. Touching the national temples, there shall be a free passage by

land and by sea to all who wish it, to sacrifice, travel, consult,

and attend the oracle or games, according to the customs of their



2. The temple and shrine of Apollo at Delphi and the Delphians shall

be governed by their own laws, taxed by their own state, and judged

by their own judges, the land and the people, according to the custom

of their country.


3. The treaty shall be binding for fifty years upon the Athenians

and the allies of the Athenians, and upon the Lacedaemonians and the

allies of the Lacedaemonians, without fraud or hurt by land or by



4. It shall not be lawful to take up arms, with intent to do hurt,

either for the Lacedaemonians and their allies against the Athenians

and their allies, or for the Athenians and their allies against the

Lacedaemonians and their allies, in any way or means whatsoever. But

should any difference arise between them they are to have recourse

to law and oaths, according as may be agreed between the parties.


5. The Lacedaemonians and their allies shall give back Amphipolis

to the Athenians. Nevertheless, in the case of cities given up by

the Lacedaemonians to the Athenians, the inhabitants shall be allowed

to go where they please and to take their property with them: and

the cities shall be independent, paying only the tribute of Aristides.

And it shall not be lawful for the Athenians or their allies to carry

on war against them after the treaty has been concluded, so long as

the tribute is paid. The cities referred to are Argilus, Stagirus,

Acanthus, Scolus, Olynthus, and Spartolus. These cities shall be neutral,

allies neither of the Lacedaemonians nor of the Athenians: but if

the cities consent, it shall be lawful for the Athenians to make them

their allies, provided always that the cities wish it. The Mecybernaeans,

Sanaeans, and Singaeans shall inhabit their own cities, as also the

Olynthians and Acanthians: but the Lacedaemonians and their allies

shall give back Panactum to the Athenians.


6. The Athenians shall give back Coryphasium, Cythera, Methana, Pteleum,

and Atalanta to the Lacedaemonians, and also all Lacedaemonians that

are in the prison at Athens or elsewhere in the Athenian dominions,

and shall let go the Peloponnesians besieged in Scione, and all others

in Scione that are allies of the Lacedaemonians, and all whom Brasidas

sent in there, and any others of the allies of the Lacedaemonians

that may be in the prison at Athens or elsewhere in the Athenian dominions.


7. The Lacedaemonians and their allies shall in like manner give back

any of the Athenians or their allies that they may have in their hands.


8. In the case of Scione, Torone, and Sermylium, and any other cities

that the Athenians may have, the Athenians may adopt such measures

as they please.


9. The Athenians shall take an oath to the Lacedaemonians and their

allies, city by city. Every man shall swear by the most binding oath

of his country, seventeen from each city. The oath shall be as follows;

“I will abide by this agreement and treaty honestly and without deceit.”

In the same way an oath shall be taken by the Lacedaemonians and their

allies to the Athenians: and the oath shall be renewed annually by

both parties. Pillars shall be erected at Olympia, Pythia, the Isthmus,

at Athens in the Acropolis, and at Lacedaemon in the temple at Amyclae.


10. If anything be forgotten, whatever it be, and on whatever point,

it shall be consistent with their oath for both parties, the Athenians

and Lacedaemonians, to alter it, according to their discretion.


The treaty begins from the ephoralty of Pleistolas in Lacedaemon,

on the 27th day of the month of Artemisium, and from the archonship,

of Alcaeus at Athens, on the 25th day of the month of Elaphebolion.

Those who took the oath and poured the libations for the Lacedaemonians

were Pleistoanax, Agis, Pleistolas, Damagetis, Chionis, Metagenes,

Acanthus, Daithus, Ischagoras, Philocharidas, Zeuxidas, Antippus,

Tellis, Alcinadas, Empedias, Menas, and Laphilus: for the Athenians,

Lampon, Isthmonicus, Nicias, Laches, Euthydemus, Procles, Pythodorus,

Hagnon, Myrtilus, Thrasycles, Theagenes, Aristocrates, Iolcius, Timocrates,

Leon, Lamachus, and Demosthenes.


This treaty was made in the spring, just at the end of winter, directly

after the city festival of Dionysus, just ten years, with the difference

of a few days, from the first invasion of Attica and the commencement

of this war. This must be calculated by the seasons rather than by

trusting to the enumeration of the names of the several magistrates

or offices of honour that are used to mark past events. Accuracy is

impossible where an event may have occurred in the beginning, or middle,

or at any period in their tenure of office. But by computing by summers

and winters, the method adopted in this history, it will be found

that, each of these amounting to half a year, there were ten summers

and as many winters contained in this first war.


Meanwhile the Lacedaemonians, to whose lot it fell to begin the work

of restitution, immediately set free all the prisoners of war in their

possession, and sent Ischagoras, Menas, and Philocharidas as envoys

to the towns in the direction of Thrace, to order Clearidas to hand

over Amphipolis to the Athenians, and the rest of their allies each

to accept the treaty as it affected them. They, however, did not like

its terms, and refused to accept it; Clearidas also, willing to oblige

the Chalcidians, would not hand over the town, averring his inability

to do so against their will. Meanwhile he hastened in person to Lacedaemon

with envoys from the place, to defend his disobedience against the

possible accusations of Ischagoras and his companions, and also to

see whether it was too late for the agreement to be altered; and on

finding the Lacedaemonians were bound, quickly set out back again

with instructions from them to hand over the place, if possible, or

at all events to bring out the Peloponnesians that were in it.


The allies happened to be present in person at Lacedaemon, and those

who had not accepted the treaty were now asked by the Lacedaemonians

to adopt it. This, however, they refused to do, for the same reasons

as before, unless a fairer one than the present were agreed upon;

and remaining firm in their determination were dismissed by the Lacedaemonians,

who now decided on forming an alliance with the Athenians, thinking

that Argos, who had refused the application of Ampelidas and Lichas

for a renewal of the treaty, would without Athens be no longer formidable,

and that the rest of the Peloponnese would be most likely to keep

quiet, if the coveted alliance of Athens were shut against them. Accordingly,

after conference with the Athenian ambassadors, an alliance was agreed

upon and oaths were exchanged, upon the terms following:


1. The Lacedaemonians shall be allies of the Athenians for fifty years.


2. Should any enemy invade the territory of Lacedaemon and injure

the Lacedaemonians, the Athenians shall help in such way as they most

effectively can, according to their power. But if the invader be gone

after plundering the country, that city shall be the enemy of Lacedaemon

and Athens, and shall be chastised by both, and one shall not make

peace without the other. This to be honestly, loyally, and without



3. Should any enemy invade the territory of Athens and injure the

Athenians, the Lacedaemonians shall help them in such way as they

most effectively can, according to their power. But if the invader

be gone after plundering the country, that city shall be the enemy

of Lacedaemon and Athens, and shall be chastised by both, and one

shall not make peace without the other. This to be honestly, loyally,

and without fraud.


4. Should the slave population rise, the Athenians shall help the

Lacedaemonians with all their might, according to their power.


5. This treaty shall be sworn to by the same persons on either side

that swore to the other. It shall be renewed annually by the Lacedaemonians

going to Athens for the Dionysia, and the Athenians to Lacedaemon

for the Hyacinthia, and a pillar shall be set up by either party:

at Lacedaemon near the statue of Apollo at Amyclae, and at Athens

on the Acropolis near the statue of Athene. Should the Lacedaemonians

and Athenians see to add to or take away from the alliance in any

particular, it shall be consistent with their oaths for both parties

to do so, according to their discretion.


Those who took the oath for the Lacedaemonians were Pleistoanax, Agis,

Pleistolas, Damagetus, Chionis, Metagenes, Acanthus, Daithus, Ischagoras,

Philocharidas, Zeuxidas, Antippus, Alcinadas, Tellis, Empedias, Menas,

and Laphilus; for the Athenians, Lampon, Isthmionicus, Laches, Nicias,

Euthydemus, Procles, Pythodorus, Hagnon, Myrtilus, Thrasycles, Theagenes,

Aristocrates, Iolcius, Timocrates, Leon, Lamachus, and Demosthenes.


This alliance was made not long after the treaty; and the Athenians

gave back the men from the island to the Lacedaemonians, and the summer

of the eleventh year began. This completes the history of the first

war, which occupied the whole of the ten years previously.


Chapter XVI


Feeling against Sparta in Peloponnese – League of the Mantineans,

Eleans, Argives, and Athenians – Battle of Mantinea and breaking up

of the League


After the treaty and the alliance between the Lacedaemonians and Athenians,

concluded after the ten years’ war, in the ephorate of Pleistolas

at Lacedaemon, and the archonship of Alcaeus at Athens, the states

which had accepted them were at peace; but the Corinthians and some

of the cities in Peloponnese trying to disturb the settlement, a fresh

agitation was instantly commenced by the allies against Lacedaemon.

Further, the Lacedaemonians, as time went on, became suspected by

the Athenians through their not performing some of the provisions

in the treaty; and though for six years and ten months they abstained

from invasion of each other’s territory, yet abroad an unstable armistice

did not prevent either party doing the other the most effectual injury,

until they were finally obliged to break the treaty made after the

ten years’ war and to have recourse to open hostilities.


The history of this period has been also written by the same Thucydides,

an Athenian, in the chronological order of events by summers and winters,

to the time when the Lacedaemonians and their allies put an end to

the Athenian empire, and took the Long Walls and Piraeus. The war

had then lasted for twenty-seven years in all. Only a mistaken judgment

can object to including the interval of treaty in the war. Looked

at by the light of facts it cannot, it will be found, be rationally

considered a state of peace, where neither party either gave or got

back all that they had agreed, apart from the violations of it which

occurred on both sides in the Mantinean and Epidaurian wars and other

instances, and the fact that the allies in the direction of Thrace

were in as open hostility as ever, while the Boeotians had only a

truce renewed every ten days. So that the first ten years’ war, the

treacherous armistice that followed it, and the subsequent war will,

calculating by the seasons, be found to make up the number of years

which I have mentioned, with the difference of a few days, and to

afford an instance of faith in oracles being for once justified by

the event. I certainly all along remember from the beginning to the

end of the war its being commonly declared that it would last thrice

nine years. I lived through the whole of it, being of an age to comprehend

events, and giving my attention to them in order to know the exact

truth about them. It was also my fate to be an exile from my country

for twenty years after my command at Amphipolis; and being present

with both parties, and more especially with the Peloponnesians by

reason of my exile, I had leisure to observe affairs somewhat particularly.

I will accordingly now relate the differences that arose after the

ten years’ war, the breach of the treaty, and the hostilities that



After the conclusion of the fifty years’ truce and of the subsequent

alliance, the embassies from Peloponnese which had been summoned for

this business returned from Lacedaemon. The rest went straight home,

but the Corinthians first turned aside to Argos and opened negotiations

with some of the men in office there, pointing out that Lacedaemon

could have no good end in view, but only the subjugation of Peloponnese,

or she would never have entered into treaty and alliance with the

once detested Athenians, and that the duty of consulting for the safety

of Peloponnese had now fallen upon Argos, who should immediately pass

a decree inviting any Hellenic state that chose, such state being

independent and accustomed to meet fellow powers upon the fair and

equal ground of law and justice, to make a defensive alliance with

the Argives; appointing a few individuals with plenipotentiary powers,

instead of making the people the medium of negotiation, in order that,

in the case of an applicant being rejected, the fact of his overtures

might not be made public. They said that many would come over from

hatred of the Lacedaemonians. After this explanation of their views,

the Corinthians returned home.


The persons with whom they had communicated reported the proposal

to their government and people, and the Argives passed the decree

and chose twelve men to negotiate an alliance for any Hellenic state

that wished it, except Athens and Lacedaemon, neither of which should

be able to join without reference to the Argive people. Argos came

into the plan the more readily because she saw that war with Lacedaemon

was inevitable, the truce being on the point of expiring; and also

because she hoped to gain the supremacy of Peloponnese. For at this

time Lacedaemon had sunk very low in public estimation because of

her disasters, while the Argives were in a most flourishing condition,

having taken no part in the Attic war, but having on the contrary

profited largely by their neutrality. The Argives accordingly prepared

to receive into alliance any of the Hellenes that desired it.


The Mantineans and their allies were the first to come over through

fear of the Lacedaemonians. Having taken advantage of the war against

Athens to reduce a large part of Arcadia into subjection, they thought

that Lacedaemon would not leave them undisturbed in their conquests,

now that she had leisure to interfere, and consequently gladly turned

to a powerful city like Argos, the historical enemy of the Lacedaemonians,

and a sister democracy. Upon the defection of Mantinea, the rest of

Peloponnese at once began to agitate the propriety of following her

example, conceiving that the Mantineans not have changed sides without

good reason; besides which they were angry with Lacedaemon among other

reasons for having inserted in the treaty with Athens that it should

be consistent with their oaths for both parties, Lacedaemonians and

Athenians, to add to or take away from it according to their discretion.

It was this clause that was the real origin of the panic in Peloponnese,

by exciting suspicions of a Lacedaemonian and Athenian combination

against their liberties: any alteration should properly have been

made conditional upon the consent of the whole body of the allies.

With these apprehensions there was a very general desire in each state

to place itself in alliance with Argos.


In the meantime the Lacedaemonians perceiving the agitation going

on in Peloponnese, and that Corinth was the author of it and was herself

about to enter into alliance with the Argives, sent ambassadors thither

in the hope of preventing what was in contemplation. They accused

her of having brought it all about, and told her that she could not

desert Lacedaemon and become the ally of Argos, without adding violation

of her oaths to the crime which she had already committed in not accepting

the treaty with Athens, when it had been expressly agreed that the

decision of the majority of the allies should be binding, unless the

gods or heroes stood in the way. Corinth in her answer, delivered

before those of her allies who had like her refused to accept the

treaty, and whom she had previously invited to attend, refrained from

openly stating the injuries she complained of, such as the non-recovery

of Sollium or Anactorium from the Athenians, or any other point in

which she thought she had been prejudiced, but took shelter under

the pretext that she could not give up her Thracian allies, to whom

her separate individual security had been given, when they first rebelled

with Potidaea, as well as upon subsequent occasions. She denied, therefore,

that she committed any violation of her oaths to the allies in not

entering into the treaty with Athens; having sworn upon the faith

of the gods to her Thracian friends, she could not honestly give them

up. Besides, the expression was, “unless the gods or heroes stand

in the way.” Now here, as it appeared to her, the gods stood in the

way. This was what she said on the subject of her former oaths. As

to the Argive alliance, she would confer with her friends and do whatever

was right. The Lacedaemonian envoys returning home, some Argive ambassadors

who happened to be in Corinth pressed her to conclude the alliance

without further delay, but were told to attend at the next congress

to be held at Corinth.


Immediately afterwards an Elean embassy arrived, and first making

an alliance with Corinth went on from thence to Argos, according to

their instructions, and became allies of the Argives, their country

being just then at enmity with Lacedaemon and Lepreum. Some time back

there had been a war between the Lepreans and some of the Arcadians;

and the Eleans being called in by the former with the offer of half

their lands, had put an end to the war, and leaving the land in the

hands of its Leprean occupiers had imposed upon them the tribute of

a talent to the Olympian Zeus. Till the Attic war this tribute was

paid by the Lepreans, who then took the war as an excuse for no longer

doing so, and upon the Eleans using force appealed to Lacedaemon.

The case was thus submitted to her arbitrament; but the Eleans, suspecting

the fairness of the tribunal, renounced the reference and laid waste

the Leprean territory. The Lacedaemonians nevertheless decided that

the Lepreans were independent and the Eleans aggressors, and as the

latter did not abide by the arbitration, sent a garrison of heavy

infantry into Lepreum. Upon this the Eleans, holding that Lacedaemon

had received one of their rebel subjects, put forward the convention

providing that each confederate should come out of the Attic war in

possession of what he had when he went into it, and considering that

justice had not been done them went over to the Argives, and now made

the alliance through their ambassadors, who had been instructed for

that purpose. Immediately after them the Corinthians and the Thracian

Chalcidians became allies of Argos. Meanwhile the Boeotians and Megarians,

who acted together, remained quiet, being left to do as they pleased

by Lacedaemon, and thinking that the Argive democracy would not suit

so well with their aristocratic government as the Lacedaemonian constitution.


About the same time in this summer Athens succeeded in reducing Scione,

put the adult males to death, and, making slaves of the women and

children, gave the land for the Plataeans to live in. She also brought

back the Delians to Delos, moved by her misfortunes in the field and

by the commands of the god at Delphi. Meanwhile the Phocians and Locrians

commenced hostilities. The Corinthians and Argives, being now in alliance,

went to Tegea to bring about its defection from Lacedaemon, seeing

that, if so considerable a state could be persuaded to join, all Peloponnese

would be with them. But when the Tegeans said that they would do nothing

against Lacedaemon, the hitherto zealous Corinthians relaxed their

activity, and began to fear that none of the rest would now come over.

Still they went to the Boeotians and tried to persuade them to alliance

and a common action generally with Argos and themselves, and also

begged them to go with them to Athens and obtain for them a ten days’

truce similar to that made between the Athenians and Boeotians not

long after the fifty years’ treaty, and, in the event of the Athenians

refusing, to throw up the armistice, and not make any truce in future

without Corinth. These were the requests of the Corinthians. The Boeotians

stopped them on the subject of the Argive alliance, but went with

them to Athens, where however they failed to obtain the ten days’

truce; the Athenian answer being that the Corinthians had truce already,

as being allies of Lacedaemon. Nevertheless the Boeotians did not

throw up their ten days’ truce, in spite of the prayers and reproaches

of the Corinthians for their breach of faith; and these last had to

content themselves with a de facto armistice with Athens.


The same summer the Lacedaemonians marched into Arcadia with their

whole levy under Pleistoanax, son of Pausanias, king of Lacedaemon,

against the Parrhasians, who were subjects of Mantinea, and a faction

of whom had invited their aid. They also meant to demolish, if possible,

the fort of Cypsela which the Mantineans had built and garrisoned

in the Parrhasian territory, to annoy the district of Sciritis in

Laconia. The Lacedaemonians accordingly laid waste the Parrhasian

country, and the Mantineans, placing their town in the hands of an

Argive garrison, addressed themselves to the defence of their confederacy,

but being unable to save Cypsela or the Parrhasian towns went back

to Mantinea. Meanwhile the Lacedaemonians made the Parrhasians independent,

razed the fortress, and returned home.


The same summer the soldiers from Thrace who had gone out with Brasidas

came back, having been brought from thence after the treaty by Clearidas;

and the Lacedaemonians decreed that the Helots who had fought with

Brasidas should be free and allowed to live where they liked, and

not long afterwards settled them with the Neodamodes at Lepreum, which

is situated on the Laconian and Elean border; Lacedaemon being at

this time at enmity with Elis. Those however of the Spartans who had

been taken prisoners on the island and had surrendered their arms

might, it was feared, suppose that they were to be subjected to some

degradation in consequence of their misfortune, and so make some attempt

at revolution, if left in possession of their franchise. These were

therefore at once disfranchised, although some of them were in office

at the time, and thus placed under a disability to take office, or

buy and sell anything. After some time, however, the franchise was

restored to them.


The same summer the Dians took Thyssus, a town on Acte by Athos in

alliance with Athens. During the whole of this summer intercourse

between the Athenians and Peloponnesians continued, although each

party began to suspect the other directly after the treaty, because

of the places specified in it not being restored. Lacedaemon, to whose

lot it had fallen to begin by restoring Amphipolis and the other towns,

had not done so. She had equally failed to get the treaty accepted

by her Thracian allies, or by the Boeotians or the Corinthians; although

she was continually promising to unite with Athens in compelling their

compliance, if it were longer refused. She also kept fixing a time

at which those who still refused to come in were to be declared enemies

to both parties, but took care not to bind herself by any written

agreement. Meanwhile the Athenians, seeing none of these professions

performed in fact, began to suspect the honesty of her intentions,

and consequently not only refused to comply with her demands for Pylos,

but also repented having given up the prisoners from the island, and

kept tight hold of the other places, until Lacedaemon’s part of the

treaty should be fulfilled. Lacedaemon, on the other hand, said she

had done what she could, having given up the Athenian prisoners of

war in her possession, evacuated Thrace, and performed everything

else in her power. Amphipolis it was out of her ability to restore;

but she would endeavour to bring the Boeotians and Corinthians into

the treaty, to recover Panactum, and send home all the Athenian prisoners

of war in Boeotia. Meanwhile she required that Pylos should be restored,

or at all events that the Messenians and Helots should be withdrawn,

as her troops had been from Thrace, and the place garrisoned, if necessary,

by the Athenians themselves. After a number of different conferences

held during the summer, she succeeded in persuading Athens to withdraw

from Pylos the Messenians and the rest of the Helots and deserters

from Laconia, who were accordingly settled by her at Cranii in Cephallenia.

Thus during this summer there was peace and intercourse between the

two peoples.


Next winter, however, the ephors under whom the treaty had been made

were no longer in office, and some of their successors were directly

opposed to it. Embassies now arrived from the Lacedaemonian confederacy,

and the Athenians, Boeotians, and Corinthians also presented themselves

at Lacedaemon, and after much discussion and no agreement between

them, separated for their several homes; when Cleobulus and Xenares,

the two ephors who were the most anxious to break off the treaty,

took advantage of this opportunity to communicate privately with the

Boeotians and Corinthians, and, advising them to act as much as possible

together, instructed the former first to enter into alliance with

Argos, and then try and bring themselves and the Argives into alliance

with Lacedaemon. The Boeotians would so be least likely to be compelled

to come into the Attic treaty; and the Lacedaemonians would prefer

gaining the friendship and alliance of Argos even at the price of

the hostility of Athens and the rupture of the treaty. The Boeotians

knew that an honourable friendship with Argos had been long the desire

of Lacedaemon; for the Lacedaemonians believed that this would considerably

facilitate the conduct of the war outside Peloponnese. Meanwhile they

begged the Boeotians to place Panactum in her hands in order that

she might, if possible, obtain Pylos in exchange for it, and so be

more in a position to resume hostilities with Athens.


After receiving these instructions for their governments from Xenares

and Cleobulus and their friends at Lacedaemon, the Boeotians and Corinthians

departed. On their way home they were joined by two persons high in

office at Argos, who had waited for them on the road, and who now

sounded them upon the possibility of the Boeotians joining the Corinthians,

Eleans, and Mantineans in becoming the allies of Argos, in the idea

that if this could be effected they would be able, thus united, to

make peace or war as they pleased either against Lacedaemon or any

other power. The Boeotian envoys were were pleased at thus hearing

themselves accidentally asked to do what their friends at Lacedaemon

had told them; and the two Argives perceiving that their proposal

was agreeable, departed with a promise to send ambassadors to the

Boeotians. On their arrival the Boeotians reported to the Boeotarchs

what had been said to them at Lacedaemon and also by the Argives who

had met them, and the Boeotarchs, pleased with the idea, embraced

it with the more eagerness from the lucky coincidence of Argos soliciting

the very thing wanted by their friends at Lacedaemon. Shortly afterwards

ambassadors appeared from Argos with the proposals indicated; and

the Boeotarchs approved of the terms and dismissed the ambassadors

with a promise to send envoys to Argos to negotiate the alliance.


In the meantime it was decided by the Boeotarchs, the Corinthians,

the Megarians, and the envoys from Thrace first to interchange oaths

together to give help to each other whenever it was required and not

to make war or peace except in common; after which the Boeotians and

Megarians, who acted together, should make the alliance with Argos.

But before the oaths were taken the Boeotarchs communicated these

proposals to the four councils of the Boeotians, in whom the supreme

power resides, and advised them to interchange oaths with all such

cities as should be willing to enter into a defensive league with

the Boeotians. But the members of the Boeotian councils refused their

assent to the proposal, being afraid of offending Lacedaemon by entering

into a league with the deserter Corinth; the Boeotarchs not having

acquainted them with what had passed at Lacedaemon and with the advice

given by Cleobulus and Xenares and the Boeotian partisans there, namely,

that they should become allies of Corinth and Argos as a preliminary

to a junction with Lacedaemon; fancying that, even if they should

say nothing about this, the councils would not vote against what had

been decided and advised by the Boeotarchs. This difficulty arising,

the Corinthians and the envoys from Thrace departed without anything

having been concluded; and the Boeotarchs, who had previously intended

after carrying this to try and effect the alliance with Argos, now

omitted to bring the Argive question before the councils, or to send

to Argos the envoys whom they had promised; and a general coldness

and delay ensued in the matter.


In this same winter Mecyberna was assaulted and taken by the Olynthians,

having an Athenian garrison inside it.


All this while negotiations had been going on between the Athenians

and Lacedaemonians about the conquests still retained by each, and

Lacedaemon, hoping that if Athens were to get back Panactum from the

Boeotians she might herself recover Pylos, now sent an embassy to

the Boeotians, and begged them to place Panactum and their Athenian

prisoners in her hands, in order that she might exchange them for

Pylos. This the Boeotians refused to do, unless Lacedaemon made a

separate alliance with them as she had done with Athens. Lacedaemon

knew that this would be a breach of faith to Athens, as it had been

agreed that neither of them should make peace or war without the other;

yet wishing to obtain Panactum which she hoped to exchange for Pylos,

and the party who pressed for the dissolution of the treaty strongly

affecting the Boeotian connection, she at length concluded the alliance

just as winter gave way to spring; and Panactum was instantly razed.

And so the eleventh year of the war ended.


In the first days of the summer following, the Argives, seeing that

the promised ambassadors from Boeotia did not arrive, and that Panactum

was being demolished, and that a separate alliance had been concluded

between the Boeotians and Lacedaemonians, began to be afraid that

Argos might be left alone, and all the confederacy go over to Lacedaemon.

They fancied that the Boeotians had been persuaded by the Lacedaemonians

to raze Panactum and to enter into the treaty with the Athenians,

and that Athens was privy to this arrangement, and even her alliance,

therefore, no longer open to them- a resource which they had always

counted upon, by reason of the dissensions existing, in the event

of the noncontinuance of their treaty with Lacedaemon. In this strait

the Argives, afraid that, as the result of refusing to renew the treaty

with Lacedaemon and of aspiring to the supremacy in Peloponnese, they

would have the Lacedaemonians, Tegeans, Boeotians, and Athenians on

their hands all at once, now hastily sent off Eustrophus and Aeson,

who seemed the persons most likely to be acceptable, as envoys to

Lacedaemon, with the view of making as good a treaty as they could

with the Lacedaemonians, upon such terms as could be got, and being

left in peace.


Having reached Lacedaemon, their ambassadors proceeded to negotiate

the terms of the proposed treaty. What the Argives first demanded

was that they might be allowed to refer to the arbitration of some

state or private person the question of the Cynurian land, a piece

of frontier territory about which they have always been disputing,

and which contains the towns of Thyrea and Anthene, and is occupied

by the Lacedaemonians. The Lacedaemonians at first said that they

could not allow this point to be discussed, but were ready to conclude

upon the old terms. Eventually, however, the Argive ambassadors succeeded

in obtaining from them this concession: For the present there was

to be a truce for fifty years, but it should be competent for either

party, there being neither plague nor war in Lacedaemon or Argos,

to give a formal challenge and decide the question of this territory

by battle, as on a former occasion, when both sides claimed the victory;

pursuit not being allowed beyond the frontier of Argos or Lacedaemon.

The Lacedaemonians at first thought this mere folly; but at last,

anxious at any cost to have the friendship of Argos they agreed to

the terms demanded, and reduced them to writing. However, before any

of this should become binding, the ambassadors were to return to Argos

and communicate with their people and, in the event of their approval,

to come at the feast of the Hyacinthia and take the oaths.


The envoys returned accordingly. In the meantime, while the Argives

were engaged in these negotiations, the Lacedaemonian ambassadors-

Andromedes, Phaedimus, and Antimenidas- who were to receive the prisoners

from the Boeotians and restore them and Panactum to the Athenians,

found that the Boeotians had themselves razed Panactum, upon the plea

that oaths had been anciently exchanged between their people and the

Athenians, after a dispute on the subject to the effect that neither

should inhabit the place, but that they should graze it in common.

As for the Athenian prisoners of war in the hands of the Boeotians,

these were delivered over to Andromedes and his colleagues, and by

them conveyed to Athens and given back. The envoys at the same time

announced the razing of Panactum, which to them seemed as good as

its restitution, as it would no longer lodge an enemy of Athens. This

announcement was received with great indignation by the Athenians,

who thought that the Lacedaemonians had played them false, both in

the matter of the demolition of Panactum, which ought to have been

restored to them standing, and in having, as they now heard, made

a separate alliance with the Boeotians, in spite of their previous

promise to join Athens in compelling the adhesion of those who refused

to accede to the treaty. The Athenians also considered the other points

in which Lacedaemon had failed in her compact, and thinking that they

had been overreached, gave an angry answer to the ambassadors and

sent them away.


The breach between the Lacedaemonians and Athenians having gone thus

far, the party at Athens, also, who wished to cancel the treaty, immediately

put themselves in motion. Foremost amongst these was Alcibiades, son

of Clinias, a man yet young in years for any other Hellenic city,

but distinguished by the splendour of his ancestry. Alcibiades thought

the Argive alliance really preferable, not that personal pique had

not also a great deal to do with his opposition; he being offended

with the Lacedaemonians for having negotiated the treaty through Nicias

and Laches, and having overlooked him on account of his youth, and

also for not having shown him the respect due to the ancient connection

of his family with them as their proxeni, which, renounced by his

grandfather, he had lately himself thought to renew by his attentions

to their prisoners taken in the island. Being thus, as he thought,

slighted on all hands, he had in the first instance spoken against

the treaty, saying that the Lacedaemonians were not to be trusted,

but that they only treated, in order to be enabled by this means to

crush Argos, and afterwards to attack Athens alone; and now, immediately

upon the above occurring, he sent privately to the Argives, telling

them to come as quickly as possible to Athens, accompanied by the

Mantineans and Eleans, with proposals of alliance; as the moment was

propitious and he himself would do all he could to help them.


Upon receiving this message and discovering that the Athenians, far

from being privy to the Boeotian alliance, were involved in a serious

quarrel with the Lacedaemonians, the Argives paid no further attention

to the embassy which they had just sent to Lacedaemon on the subject

of the treaty, and began to incline rather towards the Athenians,

reflecting that, in the event of war, they would thus have on their

side a city that was not only an ancient ally of Argos, but a sister

democracy and very powerful at sea. They accordingly at once sent

ambassadors to Athens to treat for an alliance, accompanied by others

from Elis and Mantinea.


At the same time arrived in haste from Lacedaemon an embassy consisting

of persons reputed well disposed towards the Athenians- Philocharidas,

Leon, and Endius- for fear that the Athenians in their irritation

might conclude alliance with the Argives, and also to ask back Pylos

in exchange for Panactum, and in defence of the alliance with the

Boeotians to plead that it had not been made to hurt the Athenians.

Upon the envoys speaking in the senate upon these points, and stating

that they had come with full powers to settle all others at issue

between them, Alcibiades became afraid that, if they were to repeat

these statements to the popular assembly, they might gain the multitude,

and the Argive alliance might be rejected, and accordingly had recourse

to the following stratagem. He persuaded the Lacedaemonians by a solemn

assurance that if they would say nothing of their full powers in the

assembly, he would give back Pylos to them (himself, the present opponent

of its restitution, engaging to obtain this from the Athenians), and

would settle the other points at issue. His plan was to detach them

from Nicias and to disgrace them before the people, as being without

sincerity in their intentions, or even common consistency in their

language, and so to get the Argives, Eleans, and Mantineans taken

into alliance. This plan proved successful. When the envoys appeared

before the people, and upon the question being put to them, did not

say as they had said in the senate, that they had come with full powers,

the Athenians lost all patience, and carried away by Alcibiades, who

thundered more loudly than ever against the Lacedaemonians, were ready

instantly to introduce the Argives and their companions and to take

them into alliance. An earthquake, however, occurring, before anything

definite had been done, this assembly was adjourned.


In the assembly held the next day, Nicias, in spite of the Lacedaemonians

having been deceived themselves, and having allowed him to be deceived

also in not admitting that they had come with full powers, still maintained

that it was best to be friends with the Lacedaemonians, and, letting

the Argive proposals stand over, to send once more to Lacedaemon and

learn her intentions. The adjournment of the war could only increase

their own prestige and injure that of their rivals; the excellent

state of their affairs making it their interest to preserve this prosperity

as long as possible, while those of Lacedaemon were so desperate that

the sooner she could try her fortune again the better. He succeeded

accordingly in persuading them to send ambassadors, himself being

among the number, to invite the Lacedaemonians, if they were really

sincere, to restore Panactum intact with Amphipolis, and to abandon

their alliance with the Boeotians (unless they consented to accede

to the treaty), agreeably to the stipulation which forbade either

to treat without the other. The ambassadors were also directed to

say that the Athenians, had they wished to play false, might already

have made alliance with the Argives, who were indeed come to Athens

for that very purpose, and went off furnished with instructions as

to any other complaints that the Athenians had to make. Having reached

Lacedaemon, they communicated their instructions, and concluded by

telling the Lacedaemonians that unless they gave up their alliance

with the Boeotians, in the event of their not acceding to the treaty,

the Athenians for their part would ally themselves with the Argives

and their friends. The Lacedaemonians, however, refused to give up

the Boeotian alliance- the party of Xenares the ephor, and such as

shared their view, carrying the day upon this point- but renewed the

oaths at the request of Nicias, who feared to return without having

accomplished anything and to be disgraced; as was indeed his fate,

he being held the author of the treaty with Lacedaemon. When he returned,

and the Athenians heard that nothing had been done at Lacedaemon,

they flew into a passion, and deciding that faith had not been kept

with them, took advantage of the presence of the Argives and their

allies, who had been introduced by Alcibiades, and made a treaty and

alliance with them upon the terms following:


The Athenians, Argives, Mantineans, and Eleans, acting for themselves

and the allies in their respective empires, made a treaty for a hundred

years, to be without fraud or hurt by land and by sea.


1. It shall not be lawful to carry on war, either for the Argives,

Eleans, Mantineans, and their allies, against the Athenians, or the

allies in the Athenian empire: or for the Athenians and their allies

against the Argives, Eleans, Mantineans, or their allies, in any way

or means whatsoever. The Athenians, Argives, Eleans, and Mantineans

shall be allies for a hundred years upon the terms following:


2. If an enemy invade the country of the Athenians, the Argives, Eleans,

and Mantineans shall go to the relief of Athens, according as the

Athenians may require by message, in such way as they most effectually

can, to the best of their power. But if the invader be gone after

plundering the territory, the offending state shall be the enemy of

the Argives, Mantineans, Eleans, and Athenians, and war shall be made

against it by all these cities: and no one of the cities shall be

able to make peace with that state, except all the above cities agree

to do so.


3. Likewise the Athenians shall go to the relief of Argos, Mantinea,

and Elis, if an enemy invade the country of Elis, Mantinea, or Argos,

according as the above cities may require by message, in such way

as they most effectually can, to the best of their power. But if the

invader be gone after plundering the territory, the state offending

shall be the enemy of the Athenians, Argives, Mantineans, and Eleans,

and war shall be made against it by all these cities, and peace may

not be made with that state except all the above cities agree to it.


4. No armed force shall be allowed to pass for hostile purposes through

the country of the powers contracting, or of the allies in their respective

empires, or to go by sea, except all the cities- that is to say, Athens,

Argos, Mantinea, and Elis- vote for such passage.


5. The relieving troops shall be maintained by the city sending them

for thirty days from their arrival in the city that has required them,

and upon their return in the same way: if their services be desired

for a longer period, the city that sent for them shall maintain them,

at the rate of three Aeginetan obols per day for a heavy-armed soldier,

archer, or light soldier, and an Aeginetan drachma for a trooper.


6. The city sending for the troops shall have the command when the

war is in its own country: but in case of the cities resolving upon

a joint expedition the command shall be equally divided among all

the cities.


7. The treaty shall be sworn to by the Athenians for themselves and

their allies, by the Argives, Mantineans, Eleans, and their allies,

by each state individually. Each shall swear the oath most binding

in his country over full-grown victims: the oath being as follows:




Whatsoever.” The oath shall taken at Athens by the Senate and the

magistrates, the Prytanes administering it: as by the Senate, the

Eighty, and the Artynae, the Eighty administering it: at Mantinea

by the Demiurgi, the Senate, and the other magistrates, the Theori

and Polemarchs administering it: at Elis by the Demiurgi, the magistrates,

and the Six Hundred, the Demiurgi and the Thesmophylaces administering

it. The oaths shall be renewed by the Athenians going to Elis, Mantinea,

and Argos thirty days before the Olympic games: by the Argives, Mantineans,

and Eleans going to Athens ten days before the great feast of the

Panathenaea. The articles of the treaty, the oaths, and the alliance

shall be inscribed on a stone pillar by the Athenians in the citadel,

by the Argives in the market-place, in the temple of Apollo: by the

Mantineans in the temple of Zeus, in the market-place: and a brazen

pillar shall be erected jointly by them at the Olympic games now at

hand. Should the above cities see good to make any addition in these

articies, whatever all the above cities shall agree upon, after consulting

together, shall be binding.


Although the treaty and alliances were thus concluded, still the treaty

between the Lacedaemonians and Athenians was not renounced by either

party. Meanwhile Corinth, although the ally of the Argives, did not

accede to the new treaty, any more than she had done to the alliance,

defensive and offensive, formed before this between the Eleans, Argives,

and Mantineans, when she declared herself content with the first alliance,

which was defensive only, and which bound them to help each other,

but not to join in attacking any. The Corinthians thus stood aloof

from their allies, and again turned their thoughts towards Lacedaemon.


At the Olympic games which were held this summer, and in which the

Arcadian Androsthenes was victor the first time in the wrestling and

boxing, the Lacedaemonians were excluded from the temple by the Eleans,

and thus prevented from sacrificing or contending, for having refused

to pay the fine specified in the Olympic law imposed upon them by

the Eleans, who alleged that they had attacked Fort Phyrcus, and sent

heavy infantry of theirs into Lepreum during the Olympic truce. The

amount of the fine was two thousand minae, two for each heavy-armed

soldier, as the law prescribes. The Lacedaemonians sent envoys, and

pleaded that the imposition was unjust; saying that the truce had

not yet been proclaimed at Lacedaemon when the heavy infantry were

sent off. But the Eleans affirmed that the armistice with them had

already begun (they proclaim it first among themselves), and that

the aggression of the Lacedaemonians had taken them by surprise while

they were living quietly as in time of peace, and not expecting anything.

Upon this the Lacedaemonians submitted, that if the Eleans really

believed that they had committed an aggression, it was useless after

that to proclaim the truce at Lacedaemon; but they had proclaimed

it notwithstanding, as believing nothing of the kind, and from that

moment the Lacedaemonians had made no attack upon their country. Nevertheless

the Eleans adhered to what they had said, that nothing would persuade

them that an aggression had not been committed; if, however, the Lacedaemonians

would restore Lepreum, they would give up their own share of the money

and pay that of the god for them.


As this proposal was not accepted, the Eleans tried a second. Instead

of restoring Lepreum, if this was objected to, the Lacedaemonians

should ascend the altar of the Olympian Zeus, as they were so anxious

to have access to the temple, and swear before the Hellenes that they

would surely pay the fine at a later day. This being also refused,

the Lacedaemonians were excluded from the temple, the sacrifice, and

the games, and sacrificed at home; the Lepreans being the only other

Hellenes who did not attend. Still the Eleans were afraid of the Lacedaemonians

sacrificing by force, and kept guard with a heavy-armed company of

their young men; being also joined by a thousand Argives, the same

number of Mantineans, and by some Athenian cavalry who stayed at Harpina

during the feast. Great fears were felt in the assembly of the Lacedaemonians

coming in arms, especially after Lichas, son of Arcesilaus, a Lacedaemonian,

had been scourged on the course by the umpires; because, upon his

horses being the winners, and the Boeotian people being proclaimed

the victor on account of his having no right to enter, he came forward

on the course and crowned the charioteer, in order to show that the

chariot was his. After this incident all were more afraid than ever,

and firmly looked for a disturbance: the Lacedaemonians, however,

kept quiet, and let the feast pass by, as we have seen. After the

Olympic games, the Argives and the allies repaired to Corinth to invite

her to come over to them. There they found some Lacedaemonian envoys;

and a long discussion ensued, which after all ended in nothing, as

an earthquake occurred, and they dispersed to their different homes.


Summer was now over. The winter following a battle took place between

the Heracleots in Trachinia and the Aenianians, Dolopians, Malians,

and certain of the Thessalians, all tribes bordering on and hostile

to the town, which directly menaced their country. Accordingly, after

having opposed and harassed it from its very foundation by every means

in their power, they now in this battle defeated the Heracleots, Xenares,

son of Cnidis, their Lacedaemonian commander, being among the slain.

Thus the winter ended and the twelfth year of this war ended also.

After the battle, Heraclea was so terribly reduced that in the first

days of the summer following the Boeotians occupied the place and

sent away the Lacedaemonian Agesippidas for misgovernment, fearing

that the town might be taken by the Athenians while the Lacedaemonians

were distracted with the affairs of Peloponnese. The Lacedaemonians,

nevertheless, were offended with them for what they had done.


The same summer Alcibiades, son of Clinias, now one of the generals

at Athens, in concert with the Argives and the allies, went into Peloponnese

with a few Athenian heavy infantry and archers and some of the allies

in those parts whom he took up as he passed, and with this army marched

here and there through Peloponnese, and settled various matters connected

with the alliance, and among other things induced the Patrians to

carry their walls down to the sea, intending himself also to build

a fort near the Achaean Rhium. However, the Corinthians and Sicyonians,

and all others who would have suffered by its being built, came up

and hindered him.


The same summer war broke out between the Epidaurians and Argives.

The pretext was that the Epidaurians did not send an offering for

their pasture-land to Apollo Pythaeus, as they were bound to do, the

Argives having the chief management of the temple; but, apart from

this pretext, Alcibiades and the Argives were determined, if possible,

to gain possession of Epidaurus, and thus to ensure the neutrality

of Corinth and give the Athenians a shorter passage for their reinforcements

from Aegina than if they had to sail round Scyllaeum. The Argives

accordingly prepared to invade Epidaurus by themselves, to exact the



About the same time the Lacedaemonians marched out with all their

people to Leuctra upon their frontier, opposite to Mount Lycaeum,

under the command of Agis, son of Archidamus, without any one knowing

their destination, not even the cities that sent the contingents.

The sacrifices, however, for crossing the frontier not proving propitious,

the Lacedaemonians returned home themselves, and sent word to the

allies to be ready to march after the month ensuing, which happened

to be the month of Carneus, a holy time for the Dorians. Upon the

retreat of the Lacedaemonians the Argives marched out on the last

day but three of the month before Carneus, and keeping this as the

day during the whole time that they were out, invaded and plundered

Epidaurus. The Epidaurians summoned their allies to their aid, some

of whom pleaded the month as an excuse; others came as far as the

frontier of Epidaurus and there remained inactive.


While the Argives were in Epidaurus embassies from the cities assembled

at Mantinea, upon the invitation of the Athenians. The conference

having begun, the Corinthian Euphamidas said that their actions did

not agree with their words; while they were sitting deliberating about

peace, the Epidaurians and their allies and the Argives were arrayed

against each other in arms; deputies from each party should first

go and separate the armies, and then the talk about peace might be

resumed. In compliance with this suggestion, they went and brought

back the Argives from Epidaurus, and afterwards reassembled, but without

succeeding any better in coming to a conclusion; and the Argives a

second time invaded Epidaurus and plundered the country. The Lacedaemonians

also marched out to Caryae; but the frontier sacrifices again proving

unfavourable, they went back again, and the Argives, after ravaging

about a third of the Epidaurian territory, returned home. Meanwhile

a thousand Athenian heavy infantry had come to their aid under the

command of Alcibiades, but finding that the Lacedaemonian expedition

was at an end, and that they were no longer wanted, went back again.


So passed the summer. The next winter the Lacedaemonians managed to

elude the vigilance of the Athenians, and sent in a garrison of three

hundred men to Epidaurus, under the command of Agesippidas. Upon this

the Argives went to the Athenians and complained of their having allowed

an enemy to pass by sea, in spite of the clause in the treaty by which

the allies were not to allow an enemy to pass through their country.

Unless, therefore, they now put the Messenians and Helots in Pylos

to annoy the Lacedaemonians, they, the Argives, should consider that

faith had not been kept with them. The Athenians were persuaded by

Alcibiades to inscribe at the bottom of the Laconian pillar that the

Lacedaemonians had not kept their oaths, and to convey the Helots

at Cranii to Pylos to plunder the country; but for the rest they remained

quiet as before. During this winter hostilities went on between the

Argives and Epidaurians, without any pitched battle taking place,

but only forays and ambuscades, in which the losses were small and

fell now on one side and now on the other. At the close of the winter,

towards the beginning of spring, the Argives went with scaling ladders

to Epidaurus, expecting to find it left unguarded on account of the

war and to be able to take it by assault, but returned unsuccessful.

And the winter ended, and with it the thirteenth year of the war ended



In the middle of the next summer the Lacedaemonians, seeing the Epidaurians,

their allies, in distress, and the rest of Peloponnese either in revolt

or disaffected, concluded that it was high time for them to interfere

if they wished to stop the progress of the evil, and accordingly with

their full force, the Helots included, took the field against Argos,

under the command of Agis, son of Archidamus, king of the Lacedaemonians.

The Tegeans and the other Arcadian allies of Lacedaemon joined in

the expedition. The allies from the rest of Peloponnese and from outside

mustered at Phlius; the Boeotians with five thousand heavy infantry

and as many light troops, and five hundred horse and the same number

of dismounted troopers; the Corinthians with two thousand heavy infantry;

the rest more or less as might happen; and the Phliasians with all

their forces, the army being in their country.


The preparations of the Lacedaemonians from the first had been known

to the Argives, who did not, however, take the field until the enemy

was on his road to join the rest at Phlius. Reinforced by the Mantineans

with their allies, and by three thousand Elean heavy infantry, they

advanced and fell in with the Lacedaemonians at Methydrium in Arcadia.

Each party took up its position upon a hill, and the Argives prepared

to engage the Lacedaemonians while they were alone; but Agis eluded

them by breaking up his camp in the night, and proceeded to join the

rest of the allies at Phlius. The Argives discovering this at daybreak,

marched first to Argos and then to the Nemean road, by which they

expected the Lacedaemonians and their allies would come down. However,

Agis, instead of taking this road as they expected, gave the Lacedaemonians,

Arcadians, and Epidaurians their orders, and went along another difficult

road, and descended into the plain of Argos. The Corinthians, Pellenians,

and Phliasians marched by another steep road; while the Boeotians,

Megarians, and Sicyonians had instructions to come down by the Nemean

road where the Argives were posted, in order that, if the enemy advanced

into the plain against the troops of Agis, they might fall upon his

rear with their cavalry. These dispositions concluded, Agis invaded

the plain and began to ravage Saminthus and other places.


Discovering this, the Argives came up from Nemea, day having now dawned.

On their way they fell in with the troops of the Phliasians and Corinthians,

and killed a few of the Phliasians and had perhaps a few more of their

own men killed by the Corinthians. Meanwhile the Boeotians, Megarians,

and Sicyonians, advancing upon Nemea according to their instructions,

found the Argives no longer there, as they had gone down on seeing

their property ravaged, and were now forming for battle, the Lacedaemonians

imitating their example. The Argives were now completely surrounded;

from the plain the Lacedaemonians and their allies shut them off from

their city; above them were the Corinthians, Phliasians, and Pellenians;

and on the side of Nemea the Boeotians, Sicyonians, and Megarians.

Meanwhile their army was without cavalry, the Athenians alone among

the allies not having yet arrived. Now the bulk of the Argives and

their allies did not see the danger of their position, but thought

that they could not have a fairer field, having intercepted the Lacedaemonians

in their own country and close to the city. Two men, however, in the

Argive army, Thrasylus, one of the five generals, and Alciphron, the

Lacedaemonian proxenus, just as the armies were upon the point of

engaging, went and held a parley with Agis and urged him not to bring

on a battle, as the Argives were ready to refer to fair and equal

arbitration whatever complaints the Lacedaemonians might have against

them, and to make a treaty and live in peace in future.


The Argives who made these statements did so upon their own authority,

not by order of the people, and Agis on his accepted their proposals,

and without himself either consulting the majority, simply communicated

the matter to a single individual, one of the high officers accompanying

the expedition, and granted the Argives a truce for four months, in

which to fulfil their promises; after which he immediately led off

the army without giving any explanation to any of the other allies.

The Lacedaemonians and allies followed their general out of respect

for the law, but amongst themselves loudly blamed Agis for going away

from so fair a field (the enemy being hemmed in on every side by infantry

and cavalry) without having done anything worthy of their strength.

Indeed this was by far the finest Hellenic army ever yet brought together;

and it should have been seen while it was still united at Nemea, with

the Lacedaemonians in full force, the Arcadians, Boeotians, Corinthians,

Sicyonians, Pellenians, Phliasians and Megarians, and all these the

flower of their respective populations, thinking themselves a match

not merely for the Argive confederacy, but for another such added

to it. The army thus retired blaming Agis, and returned every man

to his home. The Argives however blamed still more loudly the persons

who had concluded the truce without consulting the people, themselves

thinking that they had let escape with the Lacedaemonians an opportunity

such as they should never see again; as the struggle would have been

under the walls of their city, and by the side of many and brave allies.

On their return accordingly they began to stone Thrasylus in the bed

of the Charadrus, where they try all military causes before entering

the city. Thrasylus fled to the altar, and so saved his life; his

property however they confiscated.


After this arrived a thousand Athenian heavy infantry and three hundred

horse, under the command of Laches and Nicostratus; whom the Argives,

being nevertheless loath to break the truce with the Lacedaemonians,

begged to depart, and refused to bring before the people, to whom

they had a communication to make, until compelled to do so by the

entreaties of the Mantineans and Eleans, who were still at Argos.

The Athenians, by the mouth of Alcibiades their ambassador there present,

told the Argives and the allies that they had no right to make a truce

at all without the consent of their fellow confederates, and now that

the Athenians had arrived so opportunely the war ought to be resumed.

These arguments proving successful with the allies, they immediately

marched upon Orchomenos, all except the Argives, who, although they

had consented like the rest, stayed behind at first, but eventually

joined the others. They now all sat down and besieged Orchomenos,

and made assaults upon it; one of their reasons for desiring to gain

this place being that hostages from Arcadia had been lodged there

by the Lacedaemonians. The Orchomenians, alarmed at the weakness of

their wall and the numbers of the enemy, and at the risk they ran

of perishing before relief arrived, capitulated upon condition of

joining the league, of giving hostages of their own to the Mantineans,

and giving up those lodged with them by the Lacedaemonians. Orchomenos

thus secured, the allies now consulted as to which of the remaining

places they should attack next. The Eleans were urgent for Lepreum;

the Mantineans for Tegea; and the Argives and Athenians giving their

support to the Mantineans, the Eleans went home in a rage at their

not having voted for Lepreum; while the rest of the allies made ready

at Mantinea for going against Tegea, which a party inside had arranged

to put into their hands.


Meanwhile the Lacedaemonians, upon their return from Argos after concluding

the four months’ truce, vehemently blamed Agis for not having subdued

Argos, after an opportunity such as they thought they had never had

before; for it was no easy matter to bring so many and so good allies

together. But when the news arrived of the capture of Orchomenos,

they became more angry than ever, and, departing from all precedent,

in the heat of the moment had almost decided to raze his house, and

to fine him ten thousand drachmae. Agis however entreated them to

do none of these things, promising to atone for his fault by good

service in the field, failing which they might then do to him whatever

they pleased; and they accordingly abstained from razing his house

or fining him as they had threatened to do, and now made a law, hitherto

unknown at Lacedaemon, attaching to him ten Spartans as counsellors,

without whose consent he should have no power to lead an army out

of the city.


At this juncture arrived word from their friends in Tegea that, unless

they speedily appeared, Tegea would go over from them to the Argives

and their allies, if it had not gone over already. Upon this news

a force marched out from Lacedaemon, of the Spartans and Helots and

all their people, and that instantly and upon a scale never before

witnessed. Advancing to Orestheum in Maenalia, they directed the Arcadians

in their league to follow close after them to Tegea, and, going on

themselves as far as Orestheum, from thence sent back the sixth part

of the Spartans, consisting of the oldest and youngest men, to guard

their homes, and with the rest of their army arrived at Tegea; where

their Arcadian allies soon after joined them. Meanwhile they sent

to Corinth, to the Boeotians, the Phocians, and Locrians, with orders

to come up as quickly as possible to Mantinea. These had but short

notice; and it was not easy except all together, and after waiting

for each other, to pass through the enemy’s country, which lay right

across and blocked up the line of communication. Nevertheless they

made what haste they could. Meanwhile the Lacedaemonians with the

Arcadian allies that had joined them, entered the territory of Mantinea,

and encamping near the temple of Heracles began to plunder the country.


Here they were seen by the Argives and their allies, who immediately

took up a strong and difficult position, and formed in order of battle.

The Lacedaemonians at once advanced against them, and came on within

a stone’s throw or javelin’s cast, when one of the older men, seeing

the enemy’s position to be a strong one, hallooed to Agis that he

was minded to cure one evil with another; meaning that he wished to

make amends for his retreat, which had been so much blamed, from Argos,

by his present untimely precipitation. Meanwhile Agis, whether in

consequence of this halloo or of some sudden new idea of his own,

quickly led back his army without engaging, and entering the Tegean

territory, began to turn off into that of Mantinea the water about

which the Mantineans and Tegeans are always fighting, on account of

the extensive damage it does to whichever of the two countries it

falls into. His object in this was to make the Argives and their allies

come down from the hill, to resist the diversion of the water, as

they would be sure to do when they knew of it, and thus to fight the

battle in the plain. He accordingly stayed that day where he was,

engaged in turning off the water. The Argives and their allies were

at first amazed at the sudden retreat of the enemy after advancing

so near, and did not know what to make of it; but when he had gone

away and disappeared, without their having stirred to pursue him,

they began anew to find fault with their generals, who had not only

let the Lacedaemonians get off before, when they were so happily intercepted

before Argos, but who now again allowed them to run away, without

any one pursuing them, and to escape at their leisure while the Argive

army was leisurely betrayed.


The generals, half-stunned for the moment, afterwards led them down

from the hill, and went forward and encamped in the plain, with the

intention of attacking the enemy.


The next day the Argives and their allies formed in the order in which

they meant to fight, if they chanced to encounter the enemy; and the

Lacedaemonians returning from the water to their old encampment by

the temple of Heracles, suddenly saw their adversaries close in front

of them, all in complete order, and advanced from the hill. A shock

like that of the present moment the Lacedaemonians do not ever remember

to have experienced: there was scant time for preparation, as they

instantly and hastily fell into their ranks, Agis, their king, directing

everything, agreeably to the law. For when a king is in the field

all commands proceed from him: he gives the word to the Polemarchs;

they to the Lochages; these to the Pentecostyes; these again to the

Enomotarchs, and these last to the Enomoties. In short all orders

required pass in the same way and quickly reach the troops; as almost

the whole Lacedaemonian army, save for a small part, consists of officers

under officers, and the care of what is to be done falls upon many.


In this battle the left wing was composed of the Sciritae, who in

a Lacedaemonian army have always that post to themselves alone; next

to these were the soldiers of Brasidas from Thrace, and the Neodamodes

with them; then came the Lacedaemonians themselves, company after

company, with the Arcadians of Heraea at their side. After these were

the Maenalians, and on the right wing the Tegeans with a few of the

Lacedaemonians at the extremity; their cavalry being posted upon the

two wings. Such was the Lacedaemonian formation. That of their opponents

was as follows: On the right were the Mantineans, the action taking

place in their country; next to them the allies from Arcadia; after

whom came the thousand picked men of the Argives, to whom the state

had given a long course of military training at the public expense;

next to them the rest of the Argives, and after them their allies,

the Cleonaeans and Orneans, and lastly the Athenians on the extreme

left, and lastly the Athenians on the extreme left, and their own

cavalry with them.


Such were the order and the forces of the two combatants. The Lacedaemonian

army looked the largest; though as to putting down the numbers of

either host, or of the contingents composing it, I could not do so

with any accuracy. Owing to the secrecy of their government the number

of the Lacedaemonians was not known, and men are so apt to brag about

the forces of their country that the estimate of their opponents was

not trusted. The following calculation, however, makes it possible

to estimate the numbers of the Lacedaemonians present upon this occasion.

There were seven companies in the field without counting the Sciritae,

who numbered six hundred men: in each company there were four Pentecostyes,

and in the Pentecosty four Enomoties. The first rank of the Enomoty

was composed of four soldiers: as to the depth, although they had

not been all drawn up alike, but as each captain chose, they were

generally ranged eight deep; the first rank along the whole line,

exclusive of the Sciritae, consisted of four hundred and forty-eight



The armies being now on the eve of engaging, each contingent received

some words of encouragement from its own commander. The Mantineans

were, reminded that they were going to fight for their country and

to avoid returning to the experience of servitude after having tasted

that of empire; the Argives, that they would contend for their ancient

supremacy, to regain their once equal share of Peloponnese of which

they had been so long deprived, and to punish an enemy and a neighbour

for a thousand wrongs; the Athenians, of the glory of gaining the

honours of the day with so many and brave allies in arms, and that

a victory over the Lacedaemonians in Peloponnese would cement and

extend their empire, and would besides preserve Attica from all invasions

in future. These were the incitements addressed to the Argives and

their allies. The Lacedaemonians meanwhile, man to man, and with their

war-songs in the ranks, exhorted each brave comrade to remember what

he had learnt before; well aware that the long training of action

was of more saving virtue than any brief verbal exhortation, though

never so well delivered.


After this they joined battle, the Argives and their allies advancing

with haste and fury, the Lacedaemonians slowly and to the music of

many flute-players- a standing institution in their army, that has

nothing to do with religion, but is meant to make them advance evenly,

stepping in time, without break their order, as large armies are apt

to do in the moment of engaging.


Just before the battle joined, King Agis resolved upon the following

manoeuvre. All armies are alike in this: on going into action they

get forced out rather on their right wing, and one and the other overlap

with this adversary’s left; because fear makes each man do his best

to shelter his unarmed side with the shield of the man next him on

the right, thinking that the closer the shields are locked together

the better will he be protected. The man primarily responsible for

this is the first upon the right wing, who is always striving to withdraw

from the enemy his unarmed side; and the same apprehension makes the

rest follow him. On the present occasion the Mantineans reached with

their wing far beyond the Sciritae, and the Lacedaemonians and Tegeans

still farther beyond the Athenians, as their army was the largest.

Agis, afraid of his left being surrounded, and thinking that the Mantineans

outflanked it too far, ordered the Sciritae and Brasideans to move

out from their place in the ranks and make the line even with the

Mantineans, and told the Polemarchs Hipponoidas and Aristocles to

fill up the gap thus formed, by throwing themselves into it with two

companies taken from the right wing; thinking that his right would

still be strong enough and to spare, and that the line fronting the

Mantineans would gain in solidity.


However, as he gave these orders in the moment of the onset, and at

short notice, it so happened that Aristocles and Hipponoidas would

not move over, for which offence they were afterwards banished from

Sparta, as having been guilty of cowardice; and the enemy meanwhile

closed before the Sciritae (whom Agis on seeing that the two companies

did not move over ordered to return to their place) had time to fill

up the breach in question. Now it was, however, that the Lacedaemonians,

utterly worsted in respect of skill, showed themselves as superior

in point of courage. As soon as they came to close quarters with the

enemy, the Mantinean right broke their Sciritae and Brasideans, and,

bursting in with their allies and the thousand picked Argives into

the unclosed breach in their line, cut up and surrounded the Lacedaemonians,

and drove them in full rout to the wagons, slaying some of the older

men on guard there. But the Lacedaemonians, worsted in this part of

the field, with the rest of their army, and especially the centre,

where the three hundred knights, as they are called, fought round

King Agis, fell on the older men of the Argives and the five companies

so named, and on the Cleonaeans, the Orneans, and the Athenians next

them, and instantly routed them; the greater number not even waiting

to strike a blow, but giving way the moment that they came on, some

even being trodden under foot, in their fear of being overtaken by

their assailants.


The army of the Argives and their allies, having given way in this

quarter, was now completely cut in two, and the Lacedaemonian and

Tegean right simultaneously closing round the Athenians with the troops

that outflanked them, these last found themselves placed between two

fires, being surrounded on one side and already defeated on the other.

Indeed they would have suffered more severely than any other part

of the army, but for the services of the cavalry which they had with

them. Agis also on perceiving the distress of his left opposed to

the Mantineans and the thousand Argives, ordered all the army to advance

to the support of the defeated wing; and while this took place, as

the enemy moved past and slanted away from them, the Athenians escaped

at their leisure, and with them the beaten Argive division. Meanwhile

the Mantineans and their allies and the picked body of the Argives

ceased to press the enemy, and seeing their friends defeated and the

Lacedaemonians in full advance upon them, took to flight. Many of

the Mantineans perished; but the bulk of the picked body of the Argives

made good their escape. The flight and retreat, however, were neither

hurried nor long; the Lacedaemonians fighting long and stubbornly

until the rout of their enemy, but that once effected, pursuing for

a short time and not far.


Such was the battle, as nearly as possible as I have described it;

the greatest that had occurred for a very long while among the Hellenes,

and joined by the most considerable states. The Lacedaemonians took

up a position in front of the enemy’s dead, and immediately set up

a trophy and stripped the slain; they took up their own dead and carried

them back to Tegea, where they buried them, and restored those of

the enemy under truce. The Argives, Orneans, and Cleonaeans had seven

hundred killed; the Mantineans two hundred, and the Athenians and

Aeginetans also two hundred, with both their generals. On the side

of the Lacedaemonians, the allies did not suffer any loss worth speaking

of: as to the Lacedaemonians themselves it was difficult to learn

the truth; it is said, however, that there were slain about three

hundred of them.


While the battle was impending, Pleistoanax, the other king, set out

with a reinforcement composed of the oldest and youngest men, and

got as far as Tegea, where he heard of the victory and went back again.

The Lacedaemonians also sent and turned back the allies from Corinth

and from beyond the Isthmus, and returning themselves dismissed their

allies, and kept the Carnean holidays, which happened to be at that

time. The imputations cast upon them by the Hellenes at the time,

whether of cowardice on account of the disaster in the island, or

of mismanagement and slowness generally, were all wiped out by this

single action: fortune, it was thought, might have humbled them, but

the men themselves were the same as ever.


The day before this battle, the Epidaurians with all their forces

invaded the deserted Argive territory, and cut off many of the guards

left there in the absence of the Argive army. After the battle three

thousand Elean heavy infantry arriving to aid the Mantineans, and

a reinforcement of one thousand Athenians, all these allies marched

at once against Epidaurus, while the Lacedaemonians were keeping the

Carnea, and dividing the work among them began to build a wall round

the city. The rest left off; but the Athenians finished at once the

part assigned to them round Cape Heraeum; and having all joined in

leaving a garrison in the fortification in question, they returned

to their respective cities.


Summer now came to an end. In the first days of the next winter, when

the Carnean holidays were over, the Lacedaemonians took the field,

and arriving at Tegea sent on to Argos proposals of accommodation.

They had before had a party in the town desirous of overthrowing the

democracy; and after the battle that had been fought, these were now

far more in a position to persuade the people to listen to terms.

Their plan was first to make a treaty with the Lacedaemonians, to

be followed by an alliance, and after this to fall upon the commons.

Lichas, son of Arcesilaus, the Argive proxenus, accordingly arrived

at Argos with two proposals from Lacedaemon, to regulate the conditions

of war or peace, according as they preferred the one or the other.

After much discussion, Alcibiades happening to be in the town, the

Lacedaemonian party, who now ventured to act openly, persuaded the

Argives to accept the proposal for accommodation; which ran as follows:


The assembly of the Lacedaemonians agrees to treat with the Argives

upon the terms following:


1. The Argives shall restore to the Orchomenians their children, and

to the Maenalians their men, and shall restore the men they have in

Mantinea to the Lacedaemonians.


2. They shall evacuate Epidaurus, and raze the fortification there.

If the Athenians refuse to withdraw from Epidaurus, they shall be

declared enemies of the Argives and of the Lacedaemonians, and of

the allies of the Lacedaemonians and the allies of the Argives.


3. If the Lacedaemonians have any children in their custody, they

shall restore them every one to his city.


4. As to the offering to the god, the Argives, if they wish, shall

impose an oath upon the Epidaurians, but, if not, they shall swear

it themselves.


5. All the cities in Peloponnese, both small and great, shall be independent

according to the customs of their country.


6. If any of the powers outside Peloponnese invade Peloponnesian territory,

the parties contracting shall unite to repel them, on such terms as

they may agree upon, as being most fair for the Peloponnesians.


7. All allies of the Lacedaemonians outside Peloponnese shall be on

the same footing as the Lacedaemonians, and the allies of the Argives

shall be on the same footing as the Argives, being left in enjoyment

of their own possessions.


8. This treaty shall be shown to the allies, and shall be concluded,

if they approve; if the allies think fit, they may send the treaty

to be considered at home.


The Argives began by accepting this proposal, and the Lacedaemonian

army returned home from Tegea. After this intercourse was renewed

between them, and not long afterwards the same party contrived that

the Argives should give up the league with the Mantineans, Eleans,

and Athenians, and should make a treaty and alliance with the Lacedaemonians;

which was consequently done upon the terms following:


The Lacedaemonians and Argives agree to a treaty and alliance for

fifty years upon the terms following:


1. All disputes shall be decided by fair and impartial arbitration,

agreeably to the customs of the two countries.


2. The rest of the cities in Peloponnese may be included in this treaty

and alliance, as independent and sovereign, in full enjoyment of what

they possess, all disputes being decided by fair and impartial arbitration,

agreeably to the customs of the said cities.


3. All allies of the Lacedaemonians outside Peloponnese shall be upon

the same footing as the Lacedaemonians themselves, and the allies

of the Argives shall be upon the same footing as the Argives themselves,

continuing to enjoy what they possess.


4. If it shall be anywhere necessary to make an expedition in common,

the Lacedaemonians and Argives shall consult upon it and decide, as

may be most fair for the allies.


5. If any of the cities, whether inside or outside Peloponnese, have

a question whether of frontiers or otherwise, it must be settled,

but if one allied city should have a quarrel with another allied city,

it must be referred to some third city thought impartial by both parties.

Private citizens shall have their disputes decided according to the

laws of their several countries.


The treaty and above alliance concluded, each party at once released

everything whether acquired by war or otherwise, and thenceforth acting

in common voted to receive neither herald nor embassy from the Athenians

unless they evacuated their forts and withdrew from Peloponnese, and

also to make neither peace nor war with any, except jointly. Zeal

was not wanting: both parties sent envoys to the Thracian places and

to Perdiccas, and persuaded the latter to join their league. Still

he did not at once break off from Athens, although minded to do so

upon seeing the way shown him by Argos, the original home of his family.

They also renewed their old oaths with the Chalcidians and took new

ones: the Argives, besides, sent ambassadors to the Athenians, bidding

them evacuate the fort at Epidaurus. The Athenians, seeing their own

men outnumbered by the rest of the garrison, sent Demosthenes to bring

them out. This general, under colour of a gymnastic contest which

he arranged on his arrival, got the rest of the garrison out of the

place, and shut the gates behind them. Afterwards the Athenians renewed

their treaty with the Epidaurians, and by themselves gave up the fortress.


After the defection of Argos from the league, the Mantineans, though

they held out at first, in the end finding themselves powerless without

the Argives, themselves too came to terms with Lacedaemon, and gave

up their sovereignty over the towns. The Lacedaemonians and Argives,

each a thousand strong, now took the field together, and the former

first went by themselves to Sicyon and made the government there more

oligarchical than before, and then both, uniting, put down the democracy

at Argos and set up an oligarchy favourable to Lacedaemon. These events

occurred at the close of the winter, just before spring; and the fourteenth

year of the war ended. The next summer the people of Dium, in Athos,

revolted from the Athenians to the Chalcidians, and the Lacedaemonians

settled affairs in Achaea in a way more agreeable to the interests

of their country. Meanwhile the popular party at Argos little by little

gathered new consistency and courage, and waited for the moment of

the Gymnopaedic festival at Lacedaemon, and then fell upon the oligarchs.

After a fight in the city, victory declared for the commons, who slew

some of their opponents and banished others. The Lacedaemonians for

a long while let the messages of their friends at Argos remain without

effect. At last they put off the Gymnopaediae and marched to their

succour, but learning at Tegea the defeat of the oligarchs, refused

to go any further in spite of the entreaties of those who had escaped,

and returned home and kept the festival. Later on, envoys arrived

with messages from the Argives in the town and from the exiles, when

the allies were also at Sparta; and after much had been said on both

sides, the Lacedaemonians decided that the party in the town had done

wrong, and resolved to march against Argos, but kept delaying and

putting off the matter. Meanwhile the commons at Argos, in fear of

the Lacedaemonians, began again to court the Athenian alliance, which

they were convinced would be of the greatest service to them; and

accordingly proceeded to build long walls to the sea, in order that

in case of a blockade by land; with the help of the Athenians they

might have the advantage of importing what they wanted by sea. Some

of the cities in Peloponnese were also privy to the building of these

walls; and the Argives with all their people, women and slaves not

excepted, addressed themselves to the work, while carpenters and masons

came to them from Athens.


Summer was now over. The winter following the Lacedaemonians, hearing

of the walls that were building, marched against Argos with their

allies, the Corinthians excepted, being also not without intelligence

in the city itself; Agis, son of Archidamus, their king, was in command.

The intelligence which they counted upon within the town came to nothing;

they however took and razed the walls which were being built, and

after capturing the Argive town Hysiae and killing all the freemen

that fell into their hands, went back and dispersed every man to his

city. After this the Argives marched into Phlius and plundered it

for harbouring their exiles, most of whom had settled there, and so

returned home. The same winter the Athenians blockaded Macedonia,

on the score of the league entered into by Perdiccas with the Argives

and Lacedaemonians, and also of his breach of his engagements on the

occasion of the expedition prepared by Athens against the Chalcidians

in the direction of Thrace and against Amphipolis, under the command

of Nicias, son of Niceratus, which had to be broken up mainly because

of his desertion. He was therefore proclaimed an enemy. And thus the

winter ended, and the fifteenth year of the war ended with it.


Chapter XVII


Sixteenth Year of the War – The Melian Conference – Fate of Melos


The next summer Alcibiades sailed with twenty ships to Argos and seized

the suspected persons still left of the Lacedaemonian faction to the

number of three hundred, whom the Athenians forthwith lodged in the

neighbouring islands of their empire. The Athenians also made an expedition

against the isle of Melos with thirty ships of their own, six Chian,

and two Lesbian vessels, sixteen hundred heavy infantry, three hundred

archers, and twenty mounted archers from Athens, and about fifteen

hundred heavy infantry from the allies and the islanders. The Melians

are a colony of Lacedaemon that would not submit to the Athenians

like the other islanders, and at first remained neutral and took no

part in the struggle, but afterwards upon the Athenians using violence

and plundering their territory, assumed an attitude of open hostility.

Cleomedes, son of Lycomedes, and Tisias, son of Tisimachus, the generals,

encamping in their territory with the above armament, before doing

any harm to their land, sent envoys to negotiate. These the Melians

did not bring before the people, but bade them state the object of

their mission to the magistrates and the few; upon which the Athenian

envoys spoke as follows:


Athenians. Since the negotiations are not to go on before the people,

in order that we may not be able to speak straight on without interruption,

and deceive the ears of the multitude by seductive arguments which

would pass without refutation (for we know that this is the meaning

of our being brought before the few), what if you who sit there were

to pursue a method more cautious still? Make no set speech yourselves,

but take us up at whatever you do not like, and settle that before

going any farther. And first tell us if this proposition of ours suits



The Melian commissioners answered:

Melians. To the fairness of quietly instructing each other as you

propose there is nothing to object; but your military preparations

are too far advanced to agree with what you say, as we see you are

come to be judges in your own cause, and that all we can reasonably

expect from this negotiation is war, if we prove to have right on

our side and refuse to submit, and in the contrary case, slavery.


Athenians. If you have met to reason about presentiments of the future,

or for anything else than to consult for the safety of your state

upon the facts that you see before you, we will give over; otherwise

we will go on.


Melians. It is natural and excusable for men in our position to turn

more ways than one both in thought and utterance. However, the question

in this conference is, as you say, the safety of our country; and

the discussion, if you please, can proceed in the way which you propose.


Athenians. For ourselves, we shall not trouble you with specious pretences-

either of how we have a right to our empire because we overthrew the

Mede, or are now attacking you because of wrong that you have done

us- and make a long speech which would not be believed; and in return

we hope that you, instead of thinking to influence us by saying that

you did not join the Lacedaemonians, although their colonists, or

that you have done us no wrong, will aim at what is feasible, holding

in view the real sentiments of us both; since you know as well as

we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals

in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what

they must.


Melians. As we think, at any rate, it is expedient- we speak as we

are obliged, since you enjoin us to let right alone and talk only

of interest- that you should not destroy what is our common protection,

the privilege of being allowed in danger to invoke what is fair and

right, and even to profit by arguments not strictly valid if they

can be got to pass current. And you are as much interested in this

as any, as your fall would be a signal for the heaviest vengeance

and an example for the world to meditate upon.


Athenians. The end of our empire, if end it should, does not frighten

us: a rival empire like Lacedaemon, even if Lacedaemon was our real

antagonist, is not so terrible to the vanquished as subjects who by

themselves attack and overpower their rulers. This, however, is a

risk that we are content to take. We will now proceed to show you

that we are come here in the interest of our empire, and that we shall

say what we are now going to say, for the preservation of your country;

as we would fain exercise that empire over you without trouble, and

see you preserved for the good of us both.


Melians. And how, pray, could it turn out as good for us to serve

as for you to rule?


Athenians. Because you would have the advantage of submitting before

suffering the worst, and we should gain by not destroying you.


Melians. So that you would not consent to our being neutral, friends

instead of enemies, but allies of neither side.


Athenians. No; for your hostility cannot so much hurt us as your friendship

will be an argument to our subjects of our weakness, and your enmity

of our power.


Melians. Is that your subjects’ idea of equity, to put those who have

nothing to do with you in the same category with peoples that are

most of them your own colonists, and some conquered rebels?


Athenians. As far as right goes they think one has as much of it as

the other, and that if any maintain their independence it is because

they are strong, and that if we do not molest them it is because we

are afraid; so that besides extending our empire we should gain in

security by your subjection; the fact that you are islanders and weaker

than others rendering it all the more important that you should not

succeed in baffling the masters of the sea.


Melians. But do you consider that there is no security in the policy

which we indicate? For here again if you debar us from talking about

justice and invite us to obey your interest, we also must explain

ours, and try to persuade you, if the two happen to coincide. How

can you avoid making enemies of all existing neutrals who shall look

at case from it that one day or another you will attack them? And

what is this but to make greater the enemies that you have already,

and to force others to become so who would otherwise have never thought

of it?


Athenians. Why, the fact is that continentals generally give us but

little alarm; the liberty which they enjoy will long prevent their

taking precautions against us; it is rather islanders like yourselves,

outside our empire, and subjects smarting under the yoke, who would

be the most likely to take a rash step and lead themselves and us

into obvious danger.


Melians. Well then, if you risk so much to retain your empire, and

your subjects to get rid of it, it were surely great baseness and

cowardice in us who are still free not to try everything that can

be tried, before submitting to your yoke.


Athenians. Not if you are well advised, the contest not being an equal

one, with honour as the prize and shame as the penalty, but a question

of self-preservation and of not resisting those who are far stronger

than you are.


Melians. But we know that the fortune of war is sometimes more impartial

than the disproportion of numbers might lead one to suppose; to submit

is to give ourselves over to despair, while action still preserves

for us a hope that we may stand erect.


Athenians. Hope, danger’s comforter, may be indulged in by those who

have abundant resources, if not without loss at all events without

ruin; but its nature is to be extravagant, and those who go so far

as to put their all upon the venture see it in its true colours only

when they are ruined; but so long as the discovery would enable them

to guard against it, it is never found wanting. Let not this be the

case with you, who are weak and hang on a single turn of the scale;

nor be like the vulgar, who, abandoning such security as human means

may still afford, when visible hopes fail them in extremity, turn

to invisible, to prophecies and oracles, and other such inventions

that delude men with hopes to their destruction.


Melians. You may be sure that we are as well aware as you of the difficulty

of contending against your power and fortune, unless the terms be

equal. But we trust that the gods may grant us fortune as good as

yours, since we are just men fighting against unjust, and that what

we want in power will be made up by the alliance of the Lacedaemonians,

who are bound, if only for very shame, to come to the aid of their

kindred. Our confidence, therefore, after all is not so utterly irrational.


Athenians. When you speak of the favour of the gods, we may as fairly

hope for that as yourselves; neither our pretensions nor our conduct

being in any way contrary to what men believe of the gods, or practise

among themselves. Of the gods we believe, and of men we know, that

by a necessary law of their nature they rule wherever they can. And

it is not as if we were the first to make this law, or to act upon

it when made: we found it existing before us, and shall leave it to

exist for ever after us; all we do is to make use of it, knowing that

you and everybody else, having the same power as we have, would do

the same as we do. Thus, as far as the gods are concerned, we have

no fear and no reason to fear that we shall be at a disadvantage.

But when we come to your notion about the Lacedaemonians, which leads

you to believe that shame will make them help you, here we bless your

simplicity but do not envy your folly. The Lacedaemonians, when their

own interests or their country’s laws are in question, are the worthiest

men alive; of their conduct towards others much might be said, but

no clearer idea of it could be given than by shortly saying that of

all the men we know they are most conspicuous in considering what

is agreeable honourable, and what is expedient just. Such a way of

thinking does not promise much for the safety which you now unreasonably

count upon.


Melians. But it is for this very reason that we now trust to their

respect for expediency to prevent them from betraying the Melians,

their colonists, and thereby losing the confidence of their friends

in Hellas and helping their enemies.


Athenians. Then you do not adopt the view that expediency goes with

security, while justice and honour cannot be followed without danger;

and danger the Lacedaemonians generally court as little as possible.


Melians. But we believe that they would be more likely to face even

danger for our sake, and with more confidence than for others, as

our nearness to Peloponnese makes it easier for them to act, and our

common blood ensures our fidelity.


Athenians. Yes, but what an intending ally trusts to is not the goodwill

of those who ask his aid, but a decided superiority of power for action;

and the Lacedaemonians look to this even more than others. At least,

such is their distrust of their home resources that it is only with

numerous allies that they attack a neighbour; now is it likely that

while we are masters of the sea they will cross over to an island?


Melians. But they would have others to send. The Cretan Sea is a wide

one, and it is more difficult for those who command it to intercept

others, than for those who wish to elude them to do so safely. And

should the Lacedaemonians miscarry in this, they would fall upon your

land, and upon those left of your allies whom Brasidas did not reach;

and instead of places which are not yours, you will have to fight

for your own country and your own confederacy.


Athenians. Some diversion of the kind you speak of you may one day

experience, only to learn, as others have done, that the Athenians

never once yet withdrew from a siege for fear of any. But we are struck

by the fact that, after saying you would consult for the safety of

your country, in all this discussion you have mentioned nothing which

men might trust in and think to be saved by. Your strongest arguments

depend upon hope and the future, and your actual resources are too

scanty, as compared with those arrayed against you, for you to come

out victorious. You will therefore show great blindness of judgment,

unless, after allowing us to retire, you can find some counsel more

prudent than this. You will surely not be caught by that idea of disgrace,

which in dangers that are disgraceful, and at the same time too plain

to be mistaken, proves so fatal to mankind; since in too many cases

the very men that have their eyes perfectly open to what they are

rushing into, let the thing called disgrace, by the mere influence

of a seductive name, lead them on to a point at which they become

so enslaved by the phrase as in fact to fall wilfully into hopeless

disaster, and incur disgrace more disgraceful as the companion of

error, than when it comes as the result of misfortune. This, if you

are well advised, you will guard against; and you will not think it

dishonourable to submit to the greatest city in Hellas, when it makes

you the moderate offer of becoming its tributary ally, without ceasing

to enjoy the country that belongs to you; nor when you have the choice

given you between war and security, will you be so blinded as to choose

the worse. And it is certain that those who do not yield to their

equals, who keep terms with their superiors, and are moderate towards

their inferiors, on the whole succeed best. Think over the matter,

therefore, after our withdrawal, and reflect once and again that it

is for your country that you are consulting, that you have not more

than one, and that upon this one deliberation depends its prosperity

or ruin.


The Athenians now withdrew from the conference; and the Melians, left

to themselves, came to a decision corresponding with what they had

maintained in the discussion, and answered: “Our resolution, Athenians,

is the same as it was at first. We will not in a moment deprive of

freedom a city that has been inhabited these seven hundred years;

but we put our trust in the fortune by which the gods have preserved

it until now, and in the help of men, that is, of the Lacedaemonians;

and so we will try and save ourselves. Meanwhile we invite you to

allow us to be friends to you and foes to neither party, and to retire

from our country after making such a treaty as shall seem fit to us



Such was the answer of the Melians. The Athenians now departing from

the conference said: “Well, you alone, as it seems to us, judging

from these resolutions, regard what is future as more certain than

what is before your eyes, and what is out of sight, in your eagerness,

as already coming to pass; and as you have staked most on, and trusted

most in, the Lacedaemonians, your fortune, and your hopes, so will

you be most completely deceived.”


The Athenian envoys now returned to the army; and the Melians showing

no signs of yielding, the generals at once betook themselves to hostilities,

and drew a line of circumvallation round the Melians, dividing the

work among the different states. Subsequently the Athenians returned

with most of their army, leaving behind them a certain number of their

own citizens and of the allies to keep guard by land and sea. The

force thus left stayed on and besieged the place.


About the same time the Argives invaded the territory of Phlius and

lost eighty men cut off in an ambush by the Phliasians and Argive

exiles. Meanwhile the Athenians at Pylos took so much plunder from

the Lacedaemonians that the latter, although they still refrained

from breaking off the treaty and going to war with Athens, yet proclaimed

that any of their people that chose might plunder the Athenians. The

Corinthians also commenced hostilities with the Athenians for private

quarrels of their own; but the rest of the Peloponnesians stayed quiet.

Meanwhile the Melians attacked by night and took the part of the Athenian

lines over against the market, and killed some of the men, and brought

in corn and all else that they could find useful to them, and so returned

and kept quiet, while the Athenians took measures to keep better guard

in future.


Summer was now over. The next winter the Lacedaemonians intended to

invade the Argive territory, but arriving at the frontier found the

sacrifices for crossing unfavourable, and went back again. This intention

of theirs gave the Argives suspicions of certain of their fellow citizens,

some of whom they arrested; others, however, escaped them. About the

same time the Melians again took another part of the Athenian lines

which were but feebly garrisoned. Reinforcements afterwards arriving

from Athens in consequence, under the command of Philocrates, son

of Demeas, the siege was now pressed vigorously; and some treachery

taking place inside, the Melians surrendered at discretion to the

Athenians, who put to death all the grown men whom they took, and

sold the women and children for slaves, and subsequently sent out

five hundred colonists and inhabited the place themselves.






Chapter XVIII


Seventeenth Year of the War – The Sicilian Campaign – Affair of the

Hermae – Departure of the Expedition


The same winter the Athenians resolved to sail again to Sicily, with

a greater armament than that under Laches and Eurymedon, and, if possible,

to conquer the island; most of them being ignorant of its size and

of the number of its inhabitants, Hellenic and barbarian, and of the

fact that they were undertaking a war not much inferior to that against

the Peloponnesians. For the voyage round Sicily in a merchantman is

not far short of eight days; and yet, large as the island is, there

are only two miles of sea to prevent its being mainland.


It was settled originally as follows, and the peoples that occupied

it are these. The earliest inhabitants spoken of in any part of the

country are the Cyclopes and Laestrygones; but I cannot tell of what

race they were, or whence they came or whither they went, and must

leave my readers to what the poets have said of them and to what may

be generally known concerning them. The Sicanians appear to have been

the next settlers, although they pretend to have been the first of

all and aborigines; but the facts show that they were Iberians, driven

by the Ligurians from the river Sicanus in Iberia. It was from them

that the island, before called Trinacria, took its name of Sicania,

and to the present day they inhabit the west of Sicily. On the fall

of Ilium, some of the Trojans escaped from the Achaeans, came in ships

to Sicily, and settled next to the Sicanians under the general name

of Elymi; their towns being called Eryx and Egesta. With them settled

some of the Phocians carried on their way from Troy by a storm, first

to Libya, and afterwards from thence to Sicily. The Sicels crossed

over to Sicily from their first home Italy, flying from the Opicans,

as tradition says and as seems not unlikely, upon rafts, having watched

till the wind set down the strait to effect the passage; although

perhaps they may have sailed over in some other way. Even at the present

day there are still Sicels in Italy; and the country got its name

of Italy from Italus, a king of the Sicels, so called. These went

with a great host to Sicily, defeated the Sicanians in battle and

forced them to remove to the south and west of the island, which thus

came to be called Sicily instead of Sicania, and after they crossed

over continued to enjoy the richest parts of the country for near

three hundred years before any Hellenes came to Sicily; indeed they

still hold the centre and north of the island. There were also Phoenicians

living all round Sicily, who had occupied promontories upon the sea

coasts and the islets adjacent for the purpose of trading with the

Sicels. But when the Hellenes began to arrive in considerable numbers

by sea, the Phoenicians abandoned most of their stations, and drawing

together took up their abode in Motye, Soloeis, and Panormus, near

the Elymi, partly because they confided in their alliance, and also

because these are the nearest points for the voyage between Carthage

and Sicily.


These were the barbarians in Sicily, settled as I have said. Of the

Hellenes, the first to arrive were Chalcidians from Euboea with Thucles,

their founder. They founded Naxos and built the altar to Apollo Archegetes,

which now stands outside the town, and upon which the deputies for

the games sacrifice before sailing from Sicily. Syracuse was founded

the year afterwards by Archias, one of the Heraclids from Corinth,

who began by driving out the Sicels from the island upon which the

inner city now stands, though it is no longer surrounded by water:

in process of time the outer town also was taken within the walls

and became populous. Meanwhile Thucles and the Chalcidians set out

from Naxos in the fifth year after the foundation of Syracuse, and

drove out the Sicels by arms and founded Leontini and afterwards Catana;

the Catanians themselves choosing Evarchus as their founder.


About the same time Lamis arrived in Sicily with a colony from Megara,

and after founding a place called Trotilus beyond the river Pantacyas,

and afterwards leaving it and for a short while joining the Chalcidians

at Leontini, was driven out by them and founded Thapsus. After his

death his companions were driven out of Thapsus, and founded a place

called the Hyblaean Megara; Hyblon, a Sicel king, having given up

the place and inviting them thither. Here they lived two hundred and

forty-five years; after which they were expelled from the city and

the country by the Syracusan tyrant Gelo. Before their expulsion,

however, a hundred years after they had settled there, they sent out

Pamillus and founded Selinus; he having come from their mother country

Megara to join them in its foundation. Gela was founded by Antiphemus

from Rhodes and Entimus from Crete, who joined in leading a colony

thither, in the forty-fifth year after the foundation of Syracuse.

The town took its name from the river Gelas, the place where the citadel

now stands, and which was first fortified, being called Lindii. The

institutions which they adopted were Dorian. Near one hundred and

eight years after the foundation of Gela, the Geloans founded Acragas

(Agrigentum), so called from the river of that name, and made Aristonous

and Pystilus their founders; giving their own institutions to the

colony. Zancle was originally founded by pirates from Cuma, the Chalcidian

town in the country of the Opicans: afterwards, however, large numbers

came from Chalcis and the rest of Euboea, and helped to people the

place; the founders being Perieres and Crataemenes from Cuma and Chalcis

respectively. It first had the name of Zancle given it by the Sicels,

because the place is shaped like a sickle, which the Sicels call zanclon;

but upon the original settlers being afterwards expelled by some Samians

and other Ionians who landed in Sicily flying from the Medes, and

the Samians in their turn not long afterwards by Anaxilas, tyrant

of Rhegium, the town was by him colonized with a mixed population,

and its name changed to Messina, after his old country.


Himera was founded from Zancle by Euclides, Simus, and Sacon, most

of those who went to the colony being Chalcidians; though they were

joined by some exiles from Syracuse, defeated in a civil war, called

the Myletidae. The language was a mixture of Chalcidian and Doric,

but the institutions which prevailed were the Chalcidian. Acrae and

Casmenae were founded by the Syracusans; Acrae seventy years after

Syracuse, Casmenae nearly twenty after Acrae. Camarina was first founded

by the Syracusans, close upon a hundred and thirty-five years after

the building of Syracuse; its founders being Daxon and Menecolus.

But the Camarinaeans being expelled by arms by the Syracusans for

having revolted, Hippocrates, tyrant of Gela, some time later receiving

their land in ransom for some Syracusan prisoners, resettled Camarina,

himself acting as its founder. Lastly, it was again depopulated by

Gelo, and settled once more for the third time by the Geloans.


Such is the list of the peoples, Hellenic and barbarian, inhabiting

Sicily, and such the magnitude of the island which the Athenians were

now bent upon invading; being ambitious in real truth of conquering

the whole, although they had also the specious design of succouring

their kindred and other allies in the island. But they were especially

incited by envoys from Egesta, who had come to Athens and invoked

their aid more urgently than ever. The Egestaeans had gone to war

with their neighbours the Selinuntines upon questions of marriage

and disputed territory, and the Selinuntines had procured the alliance

of the Syracusans, and pressed Egesta hard by land and sea. The Egestaeans

now reminded the Athenians of the alliance made in the time of Laches,

during the former Leontine war, and begged them to send a fleet to

their aid, and among a number of other considerations urged as a capital

argument that if the Syracusans were allowed to go unpunished for

their depopulation of Leontini, to ruin the allies still left to Athens

in Sicily, and to get the whole power of the island into their hands,

there would be a danger of their one day coming with a large force,

as Dorians, to the aid of their Dorian brethren, and as colonists,

to the aid of the Peloponnesians who had sent them out, and joining

these in pulling down the Athenian empire. The Athenians would, therefore,

do well to unite with the allies still left to them, and to make a

stand against the Syracusans; especially as they, the Egestaeans,

were prepared to furnish money sufficient for the war. The Athenians,

hearing these arguments constantly repeated in their assemblies by

the Egestaeans and their supporters, voted first to send envoys to

Egesta, to see if there was really the money that they talked of in

the treasury and temples, and at the same time to ascertain in what

posture was the war with the Selinuntines.


The envoys of the Athenians were accordingly dispatched to Sicily.

The same winter the Lacedaemonians and their allies, the Corinthians

excepted, marched into the Argive territory, and ravaged a small part

of the land, and took some yokes of oxen and carried off some corn.

They also settled the Argive exiles at Orneae, and left them a few

soldiers taken from the rest of the army; and after making a truce

for a certain while, according to which neither Orneatae nor Argives

were to injure each other’s territory, returned home with the army.

Not long afterwards the Athenians came with thirty ships and six hundred

heavy infantry, and the Argives joining them with all their forces,

marched out and besieged the men in Orneae for one day; but the garrison

escaped by night, the besiegers having bivouacked some way off. The

next day the Argives, discovering it, razed Orneae to the ground,

and went back again; after which the Athenians went home in their

ships. Meanwhile the Athenians took by sea to Methone on the Macedonian

border some cavalry of their own and the Macedonian exiles that were

at Athens, and plundered the country of Perdiccas. Upon this the Lacedaemonians

sent to the Thracian Chalcidians, who had a truce with Athens from

one ten days to another, urging them to join Perdiccas in the war,

which they refused to do. And the winter ended, and with it ended

the sixteenth year of this war of which Thucydides is the historian.


Early in the spring of the following summer the Athenian envoys arrived

from Sicily, and the Egestaeans with them, bringing sixty talents

of uncoined silver, as a month’s pay for sixty ships, which they were

to ask to have sent them. The Athenians held an assembly and, after

hearing from the Egestaeans and their own envoys a report, as attractive

as it was untrue, upon the state of affairs generally, and in particular

as to the money, of which, it was said, there was abundance in the

temples and the treasury, voted to send sixty ships to Sicily, under

the command of Alcibiades, son of Clinias, Nicias, son of Niceratus,

and Lamachus, son of Xenophanes, who were appointed with full powers;

they were to help the Egestaeans against the Selinuntines, to restore

Leontini upon gaining any advantage in the war, and to order all other

matters in Sicily as they should deem best for the interests of Athens.

Five days after this a second assembly was held, to consider the speediest

means of equipping the ships, and to vote whatever else might be required

by the generals for the expedition; and Nicias, who had been chosen

to the command against his will, and who thought that the state was

not well advised, but upon a slight aid specious pretext was aspiring

to the conquest of the whole of Sicily, a great matter to achieve,

came forward in the hope of diverting the Athenians from the enterprise,

and gave them the following counsel:


“Although this assembly was convened to consider the preparations

to be made for sailing to Sicily, I think, notwithstanding, that we

have still this question to examine, whether it be better to send

out the ships at all, and that we ought not to give so little consideration

to a matter of such moment, or let ourselves be persuaded by foreigners

into undertaking a war with which we have nothing to do. And yet,

individually, I gain in honour by such a course, and fear as little

as other men for my person- not that I think a man need be any the

worse citizen for taking some thought for his person and estate; on

the contrary, such a man would for his own sake desire the prosperity

of his country more than others- nevertheless, as I have never spoken

against my convictions to gain honour, I shall not begin to do so

now, but shall say what I think best. Against your character any words

of mine would be weak enough, if I were to advise your keeping what

you have got and not risking what is actually yours for advantages

which are dubious in themselves, and which you may or may not attain.

I will, therefore, content myself with showing that your ardour is

out of season, and your ambition not easy of accomplishment.


“I affirm, then, that you leave many enemies behind you here to go

yonder and bring more back with you. You imagine, perhaps, that the

treaty which you have made can be trusted; a treaty that will continue

to exist nominally, as long as you keep quiet- for nominal it has

become, owing to the practices of certain men here and at Sparta-

but which in the event of a serious reverse in any quarter would not

delay our enemies a moment in attacking us; first, because the convention

was forced upon them by disaster and was less honourable to them than

to us; and secondly, because in this very convention there are many

points that are still disputed. Again, some of the most powerful states

have never yet accepted the arrangement at all. Some of these are

at open war with us; others (as the Lacedaemonians do not yet move)

are restrained by truces renewed every ten days, and it is only too

probable that if they found our power divided, as we are hurrying

to divide it, they would attack us vigorously with the Siceliots,

whose alliance they would have in the past valued as they would that

of few others. A man ought, therefore, to consider these points, and

not to think of running risks with a country placed so critically,

or of grasping at another empire before we have secured the one we

have already; for in fact the Thracian Chalcidians have been all these

years in revolt from us without being yet subdued, and others on the

continents yield us but a doubtful obedience. Meanwhile the Egestaeans,

our allies, have been wronged, and we run to help them, while the

rebels who have so long wronged us still wait for punishment.


“And yet the latter, if brought under, might be kept under; while

the Sicilians, even if conquered, are too far off and too numerous

to be ruled without difficulty. Now it is folly to go against men

who could not be kept under even if conquered, while failure would

leave us in a very different position from that which we occupied

before the enterprise. The Siceliots, again, to take them as they

are at present, in the event of a Syracusan conquest (the favourite

bugbear of the Egestaeans), would to my thinking be even less dangerous

to us than before. At present they might possibly come here as separate

states for love of Lacedaemon; in the other case one empire would

scarcely attack another; for after joining the Peloponnesians to overthrow

ours, they could only expect to see the same hands overthrow their

own in the same way. The Hellenes in Sicily would fear us most if

we never went there at all, and next to this, if after displaying

our power we went away again as soon as possible. We all know that

that which is farthest off, and the reputation of which can least

be tested, is the object of admiration; at the least reverse they

would at once begin to look down upon us, and would join our enemies

here against us. You have yourselves experienced this with regard

to the Lacedaemonians and their allies, whom your unexpected success,

as compared with what you feared at first, has made you suddenly despise,

tempting you further to aspire to the conquest of Sicily. Instead,

however, of being puffed up by the misfortunes of your adversaries,

you ought to think of breaking their spirit before giving yourselves

up to confidence, and to understand that the one thought awakened

in the Lacedaemonians by their disgrace is how they may even now,

if possible, overthrow us and repair their dishonour; inasmuch as

military reputation is their oldest and chiefest study. Our struggle,

therefore, if we are wise, will not be for the barbarian Egestaeans

in Sicily, but how to defend ourselves most effectually against the

oligarchical machinations of Lacedaemon.


“We should also remember that we are but now enjoying some respite

from a great pestilence and from war, to the no small benefit of our

estates and persons, and that it is right to employ these at home

on our own behalf, instead of using them on behalf of these exiles

whose interest it is to lie as fairly as they can, who do nothing

but talk themselves and leave the danger to others, and who if they

succeed will show no proper gratitude, and if they fail will drag

down their friends with them. And if there be any man here, overjoyed

at being chosen to command, who urges you to make the expedition,

merely for ends of his own- specially if he be still too young to

command- who seeks to be admired for his stud of horses, but on account

of its heavy expenses hopes for some profit from his appointment,

do not allow such a one to maintain his private splendour at his country’s

risk, but remember that such persons injure the public fortune while

they squander their own, and that this is a matter of importance,

and not for a young man to decide or hastily to take in hand.


“When I see such persons now sitting here at the side of that same

individual and summoned by him, alarm seizes me; and I, in my turn,

summon any of the older men that may have such a person sitting next

him not to let himself be shamed down, for fear of being thought a

coward if he do not vote for war, but, remembering how rarely success

is got by wishing and how often by forecast, to leave to them the

mad dream of conquest, and as a true lover of his country, now threatened

by the greatest danger in its history, to hold up his hand on the

other side; to vote that the Siceliots be left in the limits now existing

between us, limits of which no one can complain (the Ionian sea for

the coasting voyage, and the Sicilian across the open main), to enjoy

their own possessions and to settle their own quarrels; that the Egestaeans,

for their part, be told to end by themselves with the Selinuntines

the war which they began without consulting the Athenians; and that

for the future we do not enter into alliance, as we have been used

to do, with people whom we must help in their need, and who can never

help us in ours.


“And you, Prytanis, if you think it your duty to care for the commonwealth,

and if you wish to show yourself a good citizen, put the question

to the vote, and take a second time the opinions of the Athenians.

If you are afraid to move the question again, consider that a violation

of the law cannot carry any prejudice with so many abettors, that

you will be the physician of your misguided city, and that the virtue

of men in office is briefly this, to do their country as much good

as they can, or in any case no harm that they can avoid.”


Such were the words of Nicias. Most of the Athenians that came forward

spoke in favour of the expedition, and of not annulling what had been

voted, although some spoke on the other side. By far the warmest advocate

of the expedition was, however, Alcibiades, son of Clinias, who wished

to thwart Nicias both as his political opponent and also because of

the attack he had made upon him in his speech, and who was, besides,

exceedingly ambitious of a command by which he hoped to reduce Sicily

and Carthage, and personally to gain in wealth and reputation by means

of his successes. For the position he held among the citizens led

him to indulge his tastes beyond what his real means would bear, both

in keeping horses and in the rest of his expenditure; and this later

on had not a little to do with the ruin of the Athenian state. Alarmed

at the greatness of his licence in his own life and habits, and of

the ambition which he showed in all things soever that he undertook,

the mass of the people set him down as a pretender to the tyranny,

and became his enemies; and although publicly his conduct of the war

was as good as could be desired, individually, his habits gave offence

to every one, and caused them to commit affairs to other hands, and

thus before long to ruin the city. Meanwhile he now came forward and

gave the following advice to the Athenians:


“Athenians, I have a better right to command than others- I must begin

with this as Nicias has attacked me- and at the same time I believe

myself to be worthy of it. The things for which I am abused, bring

fame to my ancestors and to myself, and to the country profit besides.

The Hellenes, after expecting to see our city ruined by the war, concluded

it to be even greater than it really is, by reason of the magnificence

with which I represented it at the Olympic games, when I sent into

the lists seven chariots, a number never before entered by any private

person, and won the first prize, and was second and fourth, and took

care to have everything else in a style worthy of my victory. Custom

regards such displays as honourable, and they cannot be made without

leaving behind them an impression of power. Again, any splendour that

I may have exhibited at home in providing choruses or otherwise, is

naturally envied by my fellow citizens, but in the eyes of foreigners

has an air of strength as in the other instance. And this is no useless

folly, when a man at his own private cost benefits not himself only,

but his city: nor is it unfair that he who prides himself on his position

should refuse to be upon an equality with the rest. He who is badly

off has his misfortunes all to himself, and as we do not see men courted

in adversity, on the like principle a man ought to accept the insolence

of prosperity; or else, let him first mete out equal measure to all,

and then demand to have it meted out to him. What I know is that persons

of this kind and all others that have attained to any distinction,

although they may be unpopular in their lifetime in their relations

with their fellow-men and especially with their equals, leave to posterity

the desire of claiming connection with them even without any ground,

and are vaunted by the country to which they belonged, not as strangers

or ill-doers, but as fellow-countrymen and heroes. Such are my aspirations,

and however I am abused for them in private, the question is whether

any one manages public affairs better than I do. Having united the

most powerful states of Peloponnese, without great danger or expense

to you, I compelled the Lacedaemonians to stake their all upon the

issue of a single day at Mantinea; and although victorious in the

battle, they have never since fully recovered confidence.


“Thus did my youth and so-called monstrous folly find fitting arguments

to deal with the power of the Peloponnesians, and by its ardour win

their confidence and prevail. And do not be afraid of my youth now,

but while I am still in its flower, and Nicias appears fortunate,

avail yourselves to the utmost of the services of us both. Neither

rescind your resolution to sail to Sicily, on the ground that you

would be going to attack a great power. The cities in Sicily are peopled

by motley rabbles, and easily change their institutions and adopt

new ones in their stead; and consequently the inhabitants, being without

any feeling of patriotism, are not provided with arms for their persons,

and have not regularly established themselves on the land; every man

thinks that either by fair words or by party strife he can obtain

something at the public expense, and then in the event of a catastrophe

settle in some other country, and makes his preparations accordingly.

From a mob like this you need not look for either unanimity in counsel

or concert in action; but they will probably one by one come in as

they get a fair offer, especially if they are torn by civil strife

as we are told. Moreover, the Siceliots have not so many heavy infantry

as they boast; just as the Hellenes generally did not prove so numerous

as each state reckoned itself, but Hellas greatly over-estimated their

numbers, and has hardly had an adequate force of heavy infantry throughout

this war. The states in Sicily, therefore, from all that I can hear,

will be found as I say, and I have not pointed out all our advantages,

for we shall have the help of many barbarians, who from their hatred

of the Syracusans will join us in attacking them; nor will the powers

at home prove any hindrance, if you judge rightly. Our fathers with

these very adversaries, which it is said we shall now leave behind

us when we sail, and the Mede as their enemy as well, were able to

win the empire, depending solely on their superiority at sea. The

Peloponnesians had never so little hope against us as at present;

and let them be ever so sanguine, although strong enough to invade

our country even if we stay at home, they can never hurt us with their

navy, as we leave one of our own behind us that is a match for them.


“In this state of things what reason can we give to ourselves for

holding back, or what excuse can we offer to our allies in Sicily

for not helping them? They are our confederates, and we are bound

to assist them, without objecting that they have not assisted us.

We did not take them into alliance to have them to help us in Hellas,

but that they might so annoy our enemies in Sicily as to prevent them

from coming over here and attacking us. It is thus that empire has

been won, both by us and by all others that have held it, by a constant

readiness to support all, whether barbarians or Hellenes, that invite

assistance; since if all were to keep quiet or to pick and choose

whom they ought to assist, we should make but few new conquests, and

should imperil those we have already won. Men do not rest content

with parrying the attacks of a superior, but often strike the first

blow to prevent the attack being made. And we cannot fix the exact

point at which our empire shall stop; we have reached a position in

which we must not be content with retaining but must scheme to extend

it, for, if we cease to rule others, we are in danger of being ruled

ourselves. Nor can you look at inaction from the same point of view

as others, unless you are prepared to change your habits and make

them like theirs.


“Be convinced, then, that we shall augment our power at home by this

adventure abroad, and let us make the expedition, and so humble the

pride of the Peloponnesians by sailing off to Sicily, and letting

them see how little we care for the peace that we are now enjoying;

and at the same time we shall either become masters, as we very easily

may, of the whole of Hellas through the accession of the Sicilian

Hellenes, or in any case ruin the Syracusans, to the no small advantage

of ourselves and our allies. The faculty of staying if successful,

or of returning, will be secured to us by our navy, as we shall be

superior at sea to all the Siceliots put together. And do not let

the do-nothing policy which Nicias advocates, or his setting of the

young against the old, turn you from your purpose, but in the good

old fashion by which our fathers, old and young together, by their

united counsels brought our affairs to their present height, do you

endeavour still to advance them; understanding that neither youth

nor old age can do anything the one without the other, but that levity,

sobriety, and deliberate judgment are strongest when united, and that,

by sinking into inaction, the city, like everything else, will wear

itself out, and its skill in everything decay; while each fresh struggle

will give it fresh experience, and make it more used to defend itself

not in word but in deed. In short, my conviction is that a city not

inactive by nature could not choose a quicker way to ruin itself than

by suddenly adopting such a policy, and that the safest rule of life

is to take one’s character and institutions for better and for worse,

and to live up to them as closely as one can.”


Such were the words of Alcibiades. After hearing him and the Egestaeans

and some Leontine exiles, who came forward reminding them of their

oaths and imploring their assistance, the Athenians became more eager

for the expedition than before. Nicias, perceiving that it would be

now useless to try to deter them by the old line of argument, but

thinking that he might perhaps alter their resolution by the extravagance

of his estimates, came forward a second time and spoke as follows:


“I see, Athenians, that you are thoroughly bent upon the expedition,

and therefore hope that all will turn out as we wish, and proceed

to give you my opinion at the present juncture. From all that I hear

we are going against cities that are great and not subject to one

another, or in need of change, so as to be glad to pass from enforced

servitude to an easier condition, or in the least likely to accept

our rule in exchange for freedom; and, to take only the Hellenic towns,

they are very numerous for one island. Besides Naxos and Catana, which

I expect to join us from their connection with Leontini, there are

seven others armed at all points just like our own power, particularly

Selinus and Syracuse, the chief objects of our expedition. These are

full of heavy infantry, archers, and darters, have galleys in abundance

and crowds to man them; they have also money, partly in the hands

of private persons, partly in the temples at Selinus, and at Syracuse

first-fruits from some of the barbarians as well. But their chief

advantage over us lies in the number of their horses, and in the fact

that they grow their corn at home instead of importing it.


“Against a power of this kind it will not do to have merely a weak

naval armament, but we shall want also a large land army to sail with

us, if we are to do anything worthy of our ambition, and are not to

be shut out from the country by a numerous cavalry; especially if

the cities should take alarm and combine, and we should be left without

friends (except the Egestaeans) to furnish us with horse to defend

ourselves with. It would be disgraceful to have to retire under compulsion,

or to send back for reinforcements, owing to want of reflection at

first: we must therefore start from home with a competent force, seeing

that we are going to sail far from our country, and upon an expedition

not like any which you may undertaken undertaken the quality of allies,

among your subject states here in Hellas, where any additional supplies

needed were easily drawn from the friendly territory; but we are cutting

ourselves off, and going to a land entirely strange, from which during

four months in winter it is not even easy for a messenger get to Athens.


“I think, therefore, that we ought to take great numbers of heavy

infantry, both from Athens and from our allies, and not merely from

our subjects, but also any we may be able to get for love or for money

in Peloponnese, and great numbers also of archers and slingers, to

make head against the Sicilian horse. Meanwhile we must have an overwhelming

superiority at sea, to enable us the more easily to carry in what

we want; and we must take our own corn in merchant vessels, that is

to say, wheat and parched barley, and bakers from the mills compelled

to serve for pay in the proper proportion; in order that in case of

our being weather-bound the armament may not want provisions, as it

is not every city that will be able to entertain numbers like ours.

We must also provide ourselves with everything else as far as we can,

so as not to be dependent upon others; and above all we must take

with us from home as much money as possible, as the sums talked of

as ready at Egesta are readier, you may be sure, in talk than in any

other way.


“Indeed, even if we leave Athens with a force not only equal to that

of the enemy except in the number of heavy infantry in the field,

but even at all points superior to him, we shall still find it difficult

to conquer Sicily or save ourselves. We must not disguise from ourselves

that we go to found a city among strangers and enemies, and that he

who undertakes such an enterprise should be prepared to become master

of the country the first day he lands, or failing in this to find

everything hostile to him. Fearing this, and knowing that we shall

have need of much good counsel and more good fortune- a hard matter

for mortal man to aspire to- I wish as far as may be to make myself

independent of fortune before sailing, and when I do sail, to be as

safe as a strong force can make me. This I believe to be surest for

the country at large, and safest for us who are to go on the expedition.

If any one thinks differently I resign to him my command.”


With this Nicias concluded, thinking that he should either disgust

the Athenians by the magnitude of the undertaking, or, if obliged

to sail on the expedition, would thus do so in the safest way possible.

The Athenians, however, far from having their taste for the voyage

taken away by the burdensomeness of the preparations, became more

eager for it than ever; and just the contrary took place of what Nicias

had thought, as it was held that he had given good advice, and that

the expedition would be the safest in the world. All alike fell in

love with the enterprise. The older men thought that they would either

subdue the places against which they were to sail, or at all events,

with so large a force, meet with no disaster; those in the prime of

life felt a longing for foreign sights and spectacles, and had no

doubt that they should come safe home again; while the idea of the

common people and the soldiery was to earn wages at the moment, and

make conquests that would supply a never-ending fund of pay for the

future. With this enthusiasm of the majority, the few that liked it

not, feared to appear unpatriotic by holding up their hands against

it, and so kept quiet.


At last one of the Athenians came forward and called upon Nicias and

told him that he ought not to make excuses or put them off, but say

at once before them all what forces the Athenians should vote him.

Upon this he said, not without reluctance, that he would advise upon

that matter more at leisure with his colleagues; as far however as

he could see at present, they must sail with at least one hundred

galleys- the Athenians providing as many transports as they might

determine, and sending for others from the allies- not less than five

thousand heavy infantry in all, Athenian and allied, and if possible

more; and the rest of the armament in proportion; archers from home

and from Crete, and slingers, and whatever else might seem desirable,

being got ready by the generals and taken with them.


Upon hearing this the Athenians at once voted that the generals should

have full powers in the matter of the numbers of the army and of the

expedition generally, to do as they judged best for the interests

of Athens. After this the preparations began; messages being sent

to the allies and the rolls drawn up at home. And as the city had

just recovered from the plague and the long war, and a number of young

men had grown up and capital had accumulated by reason of the truce,

everything was the more easily provided.


In the midst of these preparations all the stone Hermae in the city

of Athens, that is to say the customary square figures, so common

in the doorways of private houses and temples, had in one night most

of them their fares mutilated. No one knew who had done it, but large

public rewards were offered to find the authors; and it was further

voted that any one who knew of any other act of impiety having been

committed should come and give information without fear of consequences,

whether he were citizen, alien, or slave. The matter was taken up

the more seriously, as it was thought to be ominous for the expedition,

and part of a conspiracy to bring about a revolution and to upset

the democracy.


Information was given accordingly by some resident aliens and body

servants, not about the Hermae but about some previous mutilations

of other images perpetrated by young men in a drunken frolic, and

of mock celebrations of the mysteries, averred to take place in private

houses. Alcibiades being implicated in this charge, it was taken hold

of by those who could least endure him, because he stood in the way

of their obtaining the undisturbed direction of the people, and who

thought that if he were once removed the first place would be theirs.

These accordingly magnified the matter and loudly proclaimed that

the affair of the mysteries and the mutilation of the Hermae were

part and parcel of a scheme to overthrow the democracy, and that nothing

of all this had been done without Alcibiades; the proofs alleged being

the general and undemocratic licence of his life and habits.


Alcibiades repelled on the spot the charges in question, and also

before going on the expedition, the preparations for which were now

complete, offered to stand his trial, that it might be seen whether

he was guilty of the acts imputed to him; desiring to be punished

if found guilty, but, if acquitted, to take the command. Meanwhile

he protested against their receiving slanders against him in his absence,

and begged them rather to put him to death at once if he were guilty,

and pointed out the imprudence of sending him out at the head of so

large an army, with so serious a charge still undecided. But his enemies

feared that he would have the army for him if he were tried immediately,

and that the people might relent in favour of the man whom they already

caressed as the cause of the Argives and some of the Mantineans joining

in the expedition, and did their utmost to get this proposition rejected,

putting forward other orators who said that he ought at present to

sail and not delay the departure of the army, and be tried on his

return within a fixed number of days; their plan being to have him

sent for and brought home for trial upon some graver charge, which

they would the more easily get up in his absence. Accordingly it was

decreed that he should sail.


After this the departure for Sicily took place, it being now about

midsummer. Most of the allies, with the corn transports and the smaller

craft and the rest of the expedition, had already received orders

to muster at Corcyra, to cross the Ionian Sea from thence in a body

to the Iapygian promontory. But the Athenians themselves, and such

of their allies as happened to be with them, went down to Piraeus

upon a day appointed at daybreak, and began to man the ships for putting

out to sea. With them also went down the whole population, one may

say, of the city, both citizens and foreigners; the inhabitants of

the country each escorting those that belonged to them, their friends,

their relatives, or their sons, with hope and lamentation upon their

way, as they thought of the conquests which they hoped to make, or

of the friends whom they might never see again, considering the long

voyage which they were going to make from their country. Indeed, at

this moment, when they were now upon the point of parting from one

another, the danger came more home to them than when they voted for

the expedition; although the strength of the armament, and the profuse

provision which they remarked in every department, was a sight that

could not but comfort them. As for the foreigners and the rest of

the crowd, they simply went to see a sight worth looking at and passing

all belief.


Indeed this armament that first sailed out was by far the most costly

and splendid Hellenic force that had ever been sent out by a single

city up to that time. In mere number of ships and heavy infantry that

against Epidaurus under Pericles, and the same when going against

Potidaea under Hagnon, was not inferior; containing as it did four

thousand Athenian heavy infantry, three hundred horse, and one hundred

galleys accompanied by fifty Lesbian and Chian vessels and many allies

besides. But these were sent upon a short voyage and with a scanty

equipment. The present expedition was formed in contemplation of a

long term of service by land and sea alike, and was furnished with

ships and troops so as to be ready for either as required. The fleet

had been elaborately equipped at great cost to the captains and the

state; the treasury giving a drachma a day to each seaman, and providing

empty ships, sixty men-of-war and forty transports, and manning these

with the best crews obtainable; while the captains gave a bounty in

addition to the pay from the treasury to the thranitae and crews generally,

besides spending lavishly upon figure-heads and equipments, and one

and all making the utmost exertions to enable their own ships to excel

in beauty and fast sailing. Meanwhile the land forces had been picked

from the best muster-rolls, and vied with each other in paying great

attention to their arms and personal accoutrements. From this resulted

not only a rivalry among themselves in their different departments,

but an idea among the rest of the Hellenes that it was more a display

of power and resources than an armament against an enemy. For if any

one had counted up the public expenditure of the state, and the private

outlay of individuals- that is to say, the sums which the state had

already spent upon the expedition and was sending out in the hands

of the generals, and those which individuals had expended upon their

personal outfit, or as captains of galleys had laid out and were still

to lay out upon their vessels; and if he had added to this the journey

money which each was likely to have provided himself with, independently

of the pay from the treasury, for a voyage of such length, and what

the soldiers or traders took with them for the purpose of exchange-

it would have been found that many talents in all were being taken

out of the city. Indeed the expedition became not less famous for

its wonderful boldness and for the splendour of its appearance, than

for its overwhelming strength as compared with the peoples against

whom it was directed, and for the fact that this was the longest passage

from home hitherto attempted, and the most ambitious in its objects

considering the resources of those who undertook it.


The ships being now manned, and everything put on board with which

they meant to sail, the trumpet commanded silence, and the prayers

customary before putting out to sea were offered, not in each ship

by itself, but by all together to the voice of a herald; and bowls

of wine were mixed through all the armament, and libations made by

the soldiers and their officers in gold and silver goblets. In their

prayers joined also the crowds on shore, the citizens and all others

that wished them well. The hymn sung and the libations finished, they

put out to sea, and first out in column then raced each other as far

as Aegina, and so hastened to reach Corcyra, where the rest of the

allied forces were also assembling.


Chapter XIX


Seventeenth Year of the War – Parties at Syracuse – Story of Harmodius

and Aristogiton – Disgrace of Alcibiades


Meanwhile at Syracuse news came in from many quarters of the expedition,

but for a long while met with no credence whatever. Indeed, an assembly

was held in which speeches, as will be seen, were delivered by different

orators, believing or contradicting the report of the Athenian expedition;

among whom Hermocrates, son of Hermon, came forward, being persuaded

that he knew the truth of the matter, and gave the following counsel:


“Although I shall perhaps be no better believed than others have been

when I speak upon the reality of the expedition, and although I know

that those who either make or repeat statements thought not worthy

of belief not only gain no converts but are thought fools for their

pains, I shall certainly not be frightened into holding my tongue

when the state is in danger, and when I am persuaded that I can speak

with more authority on the matter than other persons. Much as you

wonder at it, the Athenians nevertheless have set out against us with

a large force, naval and military, professedly to help the Egestaeans

and to restore Leontini, but really to conquer Sicily, and above all

our city, which once gained, the rest, they think, will easily follow.

Make up your minds, therefore, to see them speedily here, and see

how you can best repel them with the means under your hand, and do

be taken off your guard through despising the news, or neglect the

common weal through disbelieving it. Meanwhile those who believe me

need not be dismayed at the force or daring of the enemy. They will

not be able to do us more hurt than we shall do them; nor is the greatness

of their armament altogether without advantage to us. Indeed, the

greater it is the better, with regard to the rest of the Siceliots,

whom dismay will make more ready to join us; and if we defeat or drive

them away, disappointed of the objects of their ambition (for I do

not fear for a moment that they will get what they want), it will

be a most glorious exploit for us, and in my judgment by no means

an unlikely one. Few indeed have been the large armaments, either

Hellenic or barbarian, that have gone far from home and been successful.

They cannot be more numerous than the people of the country and their

neighbours, all of whom fear leagues together; and if they miscarry

for want of supplies in a foreign land, to those against whom their

plans were laid none the less they leave renown, although they may

themselves have been the main cause of their own discomfort. Thus

these very Athenians rose by the defeat of the Mede, in a great measure

due to accidental causes, from the mere fact that Athens had been

the object of his attack; and this may very well be the case with

us also.


“Let us, therefore, confidently begin preparations here; let us send

and confirm some of the Sicels, and obtain the friendship and alliance

of others, and dispatch envoys to the rest of Sicily to show that

the danger is common to all, and to Italy to get them to become our

allies, or at all events to refuse to receive the Athenians. I also

think that it would be best to send to Carthage as well; they are

by no means there without apprehension, but it is their constant fear

that the Athenians may one day attack their city, and they may perhaps

think that they might themselves suffer by letting Sicily be sacrificed,

and be willing to help us secretly if not openly, in one way if not

in another. They are the best able to do so, if they will, of any

of the present day, as they possess most gold and silver, by which

war, like everything else, flourishes. Let us also send to Lacedaemon

and Corinth, and ask them to come here and help us as soon as possible,

and to keep alive the war in Hellas. But the true thing of all others,

in my opinion, to do at the present moment, is what you, with your

constitutional love of quiet, will be slow to see, and what I must

nevertheless mention. If we Siceliots, all together, or at least as

many as possible besides ourselves, would only launch the whole of

our actual navy with two months’ provisions, and meet the Athenians

at Tarentum and the Iapygian promontory, and show them that before

fighting for Sicily they must first fight for their passage across

the Ionian Sea, we should strike dismay into their army, and set them

on thinking that we have a base for our defensive- for Tarentum is

ready to receive us- while they have a wide sea to cross with all

their armament, which could with difficulty keep its order through

so long a voyage, and would be easy for us to attack as it came on

slowly and in small detachments. On the other hand, if they were to

lighten their vessels, and draw together their fast sailers and with

these attack us, we could either fall upon them when they were wearied

with rowing, or if we did not choose to do so, we could retire to

Tarentum; while they, having crossed with few provisions just to give

battle, would be hard put to it in desolate places, and would either

have to remain and be blockaded, or to try to sail along the coast,

abandoning the rest of their armament, and being further discouraged

by not knowing for certain whether the cities would receive them.

In my opinion this consideration alone would be sufficient to deter

them from putting out from Corcyra; and what with deliberating and

reconnoitring our numbers and whereabouts, they would let the season

go on until winter was upon them, or, confounded by so unexpected

a circumstance, would break up the expedition, especially as their

most experienced general has, as I hear, taken the command against

his will, and would grasp at the first excuse offered by any serious

demonstration of ours. We should also be reported, I am certain, as

more numerous than we really are, and men’s minds are affected by

what they hear, and besides the first to attack, or to show that they

mean to defend themselves against an attack, inspire greater fear

because men see that they are ready for the emergency. This would

just be the case with the Athenians at present. They are now attacking

us in the belief that we shall not resist, having a right to judge

us severely because we did not help the Lacedaemonians in crushing

them; but if they were to see us showing a courage for which they

are not prepared, they would be more dismayed by the surprise than

they could ever be by our actual power. I could wish to persuade you

to show this courage; but if this cannot be, at all events lose not

a moment in preparing generally for the war; and remember all of you

that contempt for an assailant is best shown by bravery in action,

but that for the present the best course is to accept the preparations

which fear inspires as giving the surest promise of safety, and to

act as if the danger was real. That the Athenians are coming to attack

us, and are already upon the voyage, and all but here- this is what

I am sure of.”


Thus far spoke Hermocrates. Meanwhile the people of Syracuse were

at great strife among themselves; some contending that the Athenians

had no idea of coming and that there was no truth in what he said;

some asking if they did come what harm they could do that would not

be repaid them tenfold in return; while others made light of the whole

affair and turned it into ridicule. In short, there were few that

believed Hermocrates and feared for the future. Meanwhile Athenagoras,

the leader of the people and very powerful at that time with the masses,

came forward and spoke as follows:


“For the Athenians, he who does not wish that they may be as misguided

as they are supposed to be, and that they may come here to become

our subjects, is either a coward or a traitor to his country; while

as for those who carry such tidings and fill you with so much alarm,

I wonder less at their audacity than at their folly if they flatter

themselves that we do not see through them. The fact is that they

have their private reasons to be afraid, and wish to throw the city

into consternation to have their own terrors cast into the shade by

the public alarm. In short, this is what these reports are worth;

they do not arise of themselves, but are concocted by men who are

always causing agitation here in Sicily. However, if you are well

advised, you will not be guided in your calculation of probabilities

by what these persons tell you, but by what shrewd men and of large

experience, as I esteem the Athenians to be, would be likely to do.

Now it is not likely that they would leave the Peloponnesians behind

them, and before they have well ended the war in Hellas wantonly come

in quest of a new war quite as arduous in Sicily; indeed, in my judgment,

they are only too glad that we do not go and attack them, being so

many and so great cities as we are.


“However, if they should come as is reported, I consider Sicily better

able to go through with the war than Peloponnese, as being at all

points better prepared, and our city by itself far more than a match

for this pretended army of invasion, even were it twice as large again.

I know that they will not have horses with them, or get any here,

except a few perhaps from the Egestaeans; or be able to bring a force

of heavy infantry equal in number to our own, in ships which will

already have enough to do to come all this distance, however lightly

laden, not to speak of the transport of the other stores required

against a city of this magnitude, which will be no slight quantity.

In fact, so strong is my opinion upon the subject, that I do not well

see how they could avoid annihilation if they brought with them another

city as large as Syracuse, and settled down and carried on war from

our frontier; much less can they hope to succeed with all Sicily hostile

to them, as all Sicily will be, and with only a camp pitched from

the ships, and composed of tents and bare necessaries, from which

they would not be able to stir far for fear of our cavalry.


“But the Athenians see this as I tell you, and as I have reason to

know are looking after their possessions at home, while persons here

invent stories that neither are true nor ever will be. Nor is this

the first time that I see these persons, when they cannot resort to

deeds, trying by such stories and by others even more abominable to

frighten your people and get into their hands the government: it is

what I see always. And I cannot help fearing that trying so often

they may one day succeed, and that we, as long as we do not feel the

smart, may prove too weak for the task of prevention, or, when the

offenders are known, of pursuit. The result is that our city is rarely

at rest, but is subject to constant troubles and to contests as frequent

against herself as against the enemy, not to speak of occasional tyrannies

and infamous cabals. However, I will try, if you will support me,

to let nothing of this happen in our time, by gaining you, the many,

and by chastising the authors of such machinations, not merely when

they are caught in the act- a difficult feat to accomplish- but also

for what they have the wish though not the power to do; as it is necessary

to punish an enemy not only for what he does, but also beforehand

for what he intends to do, if the first to relax precaution would

not be also the first to suffer. I shall also reprove, watch, and

on occasion warn the few- the most effectual way, in my opinion, of

turning them from their evil courses. And after all, as I have often

asked, what would you have, young men? Would you hold office at once?

The law forbids it, a law enacted rather because you are not competent

than to disgrace you when competent. Meanwhile you would not be on

a legal equality with the many! But how can it be right that citizens

of the same state should be held unworthy of the same privileges?

“It will be said, perhaps, that democracy is neither wise nor equitable,

but that the holders of property are also the best fitted to rule.

I say, on the contrary, first, that the word demos, or people, includes

the whole state, oligarchy only a part; next, that if the best guardians

of property are the rich, and the best counsellors the wise, none

can hear and decide so well as the many; and that all these talents,

severally and collectively, have their just place in a democracy.

But an oligarchy gives the many their share of the danger, and not

content with the largest part takes and keeps the whole of the profit;

and this is what the powerful and young among you aspire to, but in

a great city cannot possibly obtain.


“But even now, foolish men, most senseless of all the Hellenes that

I know, if you have no sense of the wickedness of your designs, or

most criminal if you have that sense and still dare to pursue them-

even now, if it is not a case for repentance, you may still learn

wisdom, and thus advance the interest of the country, the common interest

of us all. Reflect that in the country’s prosperity the men of merit

in your ranks will have a share and a larger share than the great

mass of your fellow countrymen, but that if you have other designs

you run a risk of being deprived of all; and desist from reports like

these, as the people know your object and will not put up with it.

If the Athenians arrive, this city will repulse them in a manner worthy

of itself; we have moreover, generals who will see to this matter.

And if nothing of this be true, as I incline to believe, the city

will not be thrown into a panic by your intelligence, or impose upon

itself a self-chosen servitude by choosing you for its rulers; the

city itself will look into the matter, and will judge your words as

if they were acts, and, instead of allowing itself to be deprived

of its liberty by listening to you, will strive to preserve that liberty,

by taking care to have always at hand the means of making itself respected.”


Such were the words of Athenagoras. One of the generals now stood

up and stopped any other speakers coming forward, adding these words

of his own with reference to the matter in hand: “It is not well for

speakers to utter calumnies against one another, or for their hearers

to entertain them; we ought rather to look to the intelligence that

we have received, and see how each man by himself and the city as

a whole may best prepare to repel the invaders. Even if there be no

need, there is no harm in the state being furnished with horses and

arms and all other insignia of war; and we will undertake to see to

and order this, and to send round to the cities to reconnoitre and

do all else that may appear desirable. Part of this we have seen to

already, and whatever we discover shall be laid before you.” After

these words from the general, the Syracusans departed from the assembly.


In the meantime the Athenians with all their allies had now arrived

at Corcyra. Here the generals began by again reviewing the armament,

and made arrangements as to the order in which they were to anchor

and encamp, and dividing the whole fleet into three divisions, allotted

one to each of their number, to avoid sailing all together and being

thus embarrassed for water, harbourage, or provisions at the stations

which they might touch at, and at the same time to be generally better

ordered and easier to handle, by each squadron having its own commander.

Next they sent on three ships to Italy and Sicily to find out which

of the cities would receive them, with instructions to meet them on

the way and let them know before they put in to land.


After this the Athenians weighed from Corcyra, and proceeded to cross

to Sicily with an armament now consisting of one hundred and thirty-four

galleys in all (besides two Rhodian fifty-oars), of which one hundred

were Athenian vessels- sixty men-of-war, and forty troopships- and

the remainder from Chios and the other allies; five thousand and one

hundred heavy infantry in all, that is to say, fifteen hundred Athenian

citizens from the rolls at Athens and seven hundred Thetes shipped

as marines, and the rest allied troops, some of them Athenian subjects,

and besides these five hundred Argives, and two hundred and fifty

Mantineans serving for hire; four hundred and eighty archers in all,

eighty of whom were Cretans, seven hundred slingers from Rhodes, one

hundred and twenty light-armed exiles from Megara, and one horse-transport

carrying thirty horses.


Such was the strength of the first armament that sailed over for the

war. The supplies for this force were carried by thirty ships of burden

laden with corn, which conveyed the bakers, stone-masons, and carpenters,

and the tools for raising fortifications, accompanied by one hundred

boats, like the former pressed into the service, besides many other

boats and ships of burden which followed the armament voluntarily

for purposes of trade; all of which now left Corcyra and struck across

the Ionian Sea together. The whole force making land at the Iapygian

promontory and Tarentum, with more or less good fortune, coasted along

the shores of Italy, the cities shutting their markets and gates against

them, and according them nothing but water and liberty to anchor,

and Tarentum and Locri not even that, until they arrived at Rhegium,

the extreme point of Italy. Here at length they reunited, and not

gaining admission within the walls pitched a camp outside the city

in the precinct of Artemis, where a market was also provided for them,

and drew their ships on shore and kept quiet. Meanwhile they opened

negotiations with the Rhegians, and called upon them as Chalcidians

to assist their Leontine kinsmen; to which the Rhegians replied that

they would not side with either party, but should await the decision

of the rest of the Italiots, and do as they did. Upon this the Athenians

now began to consider what would be the best action to take in the

affairs of Sicily, and meanwhile waited for the ships sent on to come

back from Egesta, in order to know whether there was really there

the money mentioned by the messengers at Athens.


In the meantime came in from all quarters to the Syracusans, as well

as from their own officers sent to reconnoitre, the positive tidings

that the fleet was at Rhegium; upon which they laid aside their incredulity

and threw themselves heart and soul into the work of preparation.

Guards or envoys, as the case might be, were sent round to the Sicels,

garrisons put into the posts of the Peripoli in the country, horses

and arms reviewed in the city to see that nothing was wanting, and

all other steps taken to prepare for a war which might be upon them

at any moment.


Meanwhile the three ships that had been sent on came from Egesta to

the Athenians at Rhegium, with the news that so far from there being

the sums promised, all that could be produced was thirty talents.

The generals were not a little disheartened at being thus disappointed

at the outset, and by the refusal to join in the expedition of the

Rhegians, the people they had first tried to gain and had had had

most reason to count upon, from their relationship to the Leontines

and constant friendship for Athens. If Nicias was prepared for the

news from Egesta, his two colleagues were taken completely by surprise.

The Egestaeans had had recourse to the following stratagem, when the

first envoys from Athens came to inspect their resources. They took

the envoys in question to the temple of Aphrodite at Eryx and showed

them the treasures deposited there: bowls, wine-ladles, censers, and

a large number of other pieces of plate, which from being in silver

gave an impression of wealth quite out of proportion to their really

small value. They also privately entertained the ships’ crews, and

collected all the cups of gold and silver that they could find in

Egesta itself or could borrow in the neighbouring Phoenician and Hellenic

towns, and each brought them to the banquets as their own; and as

all used pretty nearly the same, and everywhere a great quantity of

plate was shown, the effect was most dazzling upon the Athenian sailors,

and made them talk loudly of the riches they had seen when they got

back to Athens. The dupes in question- who had in their turn persuaded

the rest- when the news got abroad that there was not the money supposed

at Egesta, were much blamed by the soldiers.


Meanwhile the generals consulted upon what was to be done. The opinion

of Nicias was to sail with all the armament to Selinus, the main object

of the expedition, and if the Egestaeans could provide money for the

whole force, to advise accordingly; but if they could not, to require

them to supply provisions for the sixty ships that they had asked

for, to stay and settle matters between them and the Selinuntines

either by force or by agreement, and then to coast past the other

cities, and after displaying the power of Athens and proving their

zeal for their friends and allies, to sail home again (unless they

should have some sudden and unexpected opportunity of serving the

Leontines, or of bringing over some of the other cities), and not

to endanger the state by wasting its home resources.


Alcibiades said that a great expedition like the present must not

disgrace itself by going away without having done anything; heralds

must be sent to all the cities except Selinus and Syracuse, and efforts

be made to make some of the Sicels revolt from the Syracusans, and

to obtain the friendship of others, in order to have corn and troops;

and first of all to gain the Messinese, who lay right in the passage

and entrance to Sicily, and would afford an excellent harbour and

base for the army. Thus, after bringing over the towns and knowing

who would be their allies in the war, they might at length attack

Syracuse and Selinus; unless the latter came to terms with Egesta

and the former ceased to oppose the restoration of Leontini.


Lamachus, on the other hand, said that they ought to sail straight

to Syracuse, and fight their battle at once under the walls of the

town while the people were still unprepared, and the panic at its

height. Every armament was most terrible at first; if it allowed time

to run on without showing itself, men’s courage revived, and they

saw it appear at last almost with indifference. By attacking suddenly,

while Syracuse still trembled at their coming, they would have the

best chance of gaining a victory for themselves and of striking a

complete panic into the enemy by the aspect of their numbers- which

would never appear so considerable as at present- by the anticipation

of coming disaster, and above all by the immediate danger of the engagement.

They might also count upon surprising many in the fields outside,

incredulous of their coming; and at the moment that the enemy was

carrying in his property the army would not want for booty if it sat

down in force before the city. The rest of the Siceliots would thus

be immediately less disposed to enter into alliance with the Syracusans,

and would join the Athenians, without waiting to see which were the

strongest. They must make Megara their naval station as a place to

retreat to and a base from which to attack: it was an uninhabited

place at no great distance from Syracuse either by land or by sea.


After speaking to this effect, Lamachus nevertheless gave his support

to the opinion of Alcibiades. After this Alcibiades sailed in his

own vessel across to Messina with proposals of alliance, but met with

no success, the inhabitants answering that they could not receive

him within their walls, though they would provide him with a market

outside. Upon this he sailed back to Rhegium. Immediately upon his

return the generals manned and victualled sixty ships out of the whole

fleet and coasted along to Naxos, leaving the rest of the armament

behind them at Rhegium with one of their number. Received by the Naxians,

they then coasted on to Catana, and being refused admittance by the

inhabitants, there being a Syracusan party in the town, went on to

the river Terias. Here they bivouacked, and the next day sailed in

single file to Syracuse with all their ships except ten which they

sent on in front to sail into the great harbour and see if there was

any fleet launched, and to proclaim by herald from shipboard that

the Athenians were come to restore the Leontines to their country,

as being their allies and kinsmen, and that such of them, therefore,

as were in Syracuse should leave it without fear and join their friends

and benefactors the Athenians. After making this proclamation and

reconnoitring the city and the harbours, and the features of the country

which they would have to make their base of operations in the war,

they sailed back to Catana.


An assembly being held here, the inhabitants refused to receive the

armament, but invited the generals to come in and say what they desired;

and while Alcibiades was speaking and the citizens were intent on

the assembly, the soldiers broke down an ill-walled-up postern gate

without being observed, and getting inside the town, flocked into

the marketplace. The Syracusan party in the town no sooner saw the

army inside than they became frightened and withdrew, not being at

all numerous; while the rest voted for an alliance with the Athenians

and invited them to fetch the rest of their forces from Rhegium. After

this the Athenians sailed to Rhegium, and put off, this time with

all the armament, for Catana, and fell to work at their camp immediately

upon their arrival.


Meanwhile word was brought them from Camarina that if they went there

the town would go over to them, and also that the Syracusans were

manning a fleet. The Athenians accordingly sailed alongshore with

all their armament, first to Syracuse, where they found no fleet manning,

and so always along the coast to Camarina, where they brought to at

the beach, and sent a herald to the people, who, however, refused

to receive them, saying that their oaths bound them to receive the

Athenians only with a single vessel, unless they themselves sent for

more. Disappointed here, the Athenians now sailed back again, and

after landing and plundering on Syracusan territory and losing some

stragglers from their light infantry through the coming up of the

Syracusan horse, so got back to Catana.


There they found the Salaminia come from Athens for Alcibiades, with

orders for him to sail home to answer the charges which the state

brought against him, and for certain others of the soldiers who with

him were accused of sacrilege in the matter of the mysteries and of

the Hermae. For the Athenians, after the departure of the expedition,

had continued as active as ever in investigating the facts of the

mysteries and of the Hermae, and, instead of testing the informers,

in their suspicious temper welcomed all indifferently, arresting and

imprisoning the best citizens upon the evidence of rascals, and preferring

to sift the matter to the bottom sooner than to let an accused person

of good character pass unquestioned, owing to the rascality of the

informer. The commons had heard how oppressive the tyranny of Pisistratus

and his sons had become before it ended, and further that that had

been put down at last, not by themselves and Harmodius, but by the

Lacedaemonians, and so were always in fear and took everything suspiciously.


Indeed, the daring action of Aristogiton and Harmodius was undertaken

in consequence of a love affair, which I shall relate at some length,

to show that the Athenians are not more accurate than the rest of

the world in their accounts of their own tyrants and of the facts

of their own history. Pisistratus dying at an advanced age in possession

of the tyranny, was succeeded by his eldest son, Hippias, and not

Hipparchus, as is vulgarly believed. Harmodius was then in the flower

of youthful beauty, and Aristogiton, a citizen in the middle rank

of life, was his lover and possessed him. Solicited without success

by Hipparchus, son of Pisistratus, Harmodius told Aristogiton, and

the enraged lover, afraid that the powerful Hipparchus might take

Harmodius by force, immediately formed a design, such as his condition

in life permitted, for overthrowing the tyranny. In the meantime Hipparchus,

after a second solicitation of Harmodius, attended with no better

success, unwilling to use violence, arranged to insult him in some

covert way. Indeed, generally their government was not grievous to

the multitude, or in any way odious in practice; and these tyrants

cultivated wisdom and virtue as much as any, and without exacting

from the Athenians more than a twentieth of their income, splendidly

adorned their city, and carried on their wars, and provided sacrifices

for the temples. For the rest, the city was left in full enjoyment

of its existing laws, except that care was always taken to have the

offices in the hands of some one of the family. Among those of them

that held the yearly archonship at Athens was Pisistratus, son of

the tyrant Hippias, and named after his grandfather, who dedicated

during his term of office the altar to the twelve gods in the market-place,

and that of Apollo in the Pythian precinct. The Athenian people afterwards

built on to and lengthened the altar in the market-place, and obliterated

the inscription; but that in the Pythian precinct can still be seen,

though in faded letters, and is to the following effect:


Pisistratus, the son of Hippias,

Sent up this record of his archonship

In precinct of Apollo Pythias.


That Hippias was the eldest son and succeeded to the government, is

what I positively assert as a fact upon which I have had more exact

accounts than others, and may be also ascertained by the following

circumstance. He is the only one of the legitimate brothers that appears

to have had children; as the altar shows, and the pillar placed in

the Athenian Acropolis, commemorating the crime of the tyrants, which

mentions no child of Thessalus or of Hipparchus, but five of Hippias,

which he had by Myrrhine, daughter of Callias, son of Hyperechides;

and naturally the eldest would have married first. Again, his name

comes first on the pillar after that of his father; and this too is

quite natural, as he was the eldest after him, and the reigning tyrant.

Nor can I ever believe that Hippias would have obtained the tyranny

so easily, if Hipparchus had been in power when he was killed, and

he, Hippias, had had to establish himself upon the same day; but he

had no doubt been long accustomed to overawe the citizens, and to

be obeyed by his mercenaries, and thus not only conquered, but conquered

with ease, without experiencing any of the embarrassment of a younger

brother unused to the exercise of authority. It was the sad fate which

made Hipparchus famous that got him also the credit with posterity

of having been tyrant.


To return to Harmodius; Hipparchus having been repulsed in his solicitations

insulted him as he had resolved, by first inviting a sister of his,

a young girl, to come and bear a basket in a certain procession, and

then rejecting her, on the plea that she had never been invited at

all owing to her unworthiness. If Harmodius was indignant at this,

Aristogiton for his sake now became more exasperated than ever; and

having arranged everything with those who were to join them in the

enterprise, they only waited for the great feast of the Panathenaea,

the sole day upon which the citizens forming part of the procession

could meet together in arms without suspicion. Aristogiton and Harmodius

were to begin, but were to be supported immediately by their accomplices

against the bodyguard. The conspirators were not many, for better

security, besides which they hoped that those not in the plot would

be carried away by the example of a few daring spirits, and use the

arms in their hands to recover their liberty.


At last the festival arrived; and Hippias with his bodyguard was outside

the city in the Ceramicus, arranging how the different parts of the

procession were to proceed. Harmodius and Aristogiton had already

their daggers and were getting ready to act, when seeing one of their

accomplices talking familiarly with Hippias, who was easy of access

to every one, they took fright, and concluded that they were discovered

and on the point of being taken; and eager if possible to be revenged

first upon the man who had wronged them and for whom they had undertaken

all this risk, they rushed, as they were, within the gates, and meeting

with Hipparchus by the Leocorium recklessly fell upon him at once,

infuriated, Aristogiton by love, and Harmodius by insult, and smote

him and slew him. Aristogiton escaped the guards at the moment, through

the crowd running up, but was afterwards taken and dispatched in no

merciful way: Harmodius was killed on the spot.


When the news was brought to Hippias in the Ceramicus, he at once

proceeded not to the scene of action, but to the armed men in the

procession, before they, being some distance away, knew anything of

the matter, and composing his features for the occasion, so as not

to betray himself, pointed to a certain spot, and bade them repair

thither without their arms. They withdrew accordingly, fancying he

had something to say; upon which he told the mercenaries to remove

the arms, and there and then picked out the men he thought guilty

and all found with daggers, the shield and spear being the usual weapons

for a procession.


In this way offended love first led Harmodius and Aristogiton to conspire,

and the alarm of the moment to commit the rash action recounted. After

this the tyranny pressed harder on the Athenians, and Hippias, now

grown more fearful, put to death many of the citizens, and at the

same time began to turn his eyes abroad for a refuge in case of revolution.

Thus, although an Athenian, he gave his daughter, Archedice, to a

Lampsacene, Aeantides, son of the tyrant of Lampsacus, seeing that

they had great influence with Darius. And there is her tomb in Lampsacus

with this inscription:


Archedice lies buried in this earth,

Hippias her sire, and Athens gave her birth;

Unto her bosom pride was never known,

Though daughter, wife, and sister to the throne. Hippias, after reigning

three years longer over the Athenians, was deposed in the fourth by

the Lacedaemonians and the banished Alcmaeonidae, and went with a

safe conduct to Sigeum, and to Aeantides at Lampsacus, and from thence

to King Darius; from whose court he set out twenty years after, in

his old age, and came with the Medes to Marathon.


With these events in their minds, and recalling everything they knew

by hearsay on the subject, the Athenian people grow difficult of humour

and suspicious of the persons charged in the affair of the mysteries,

and persuaded that all that had taken place was part of an oligarchical

and monarchical conspiracy. In the state of irritation thus produced,

many persons of consideration had been already thrown into prison,

and far from showing any signs of abating, public feeling grew daily

more savage, and more arrests were made; until at last one of those

in custody, thought to be the most guilty of all, was induced by a

fellow prisoner to make a revelation, whether true or not is a matter

on which there are two opinions, no one having been able, either then

or since, to say for certain who did the deed. However this may be,

the other found arguments to persuade him, that even if he had not

done it, he ought to save himself by gaining a promise of impunity,

and free the state of its present suspicions; as he would be surer

of safety if he confessed after promise of impunity than if he denied

and were brought to trial. He accordingly made a revelation, affecting

himself and others in the affair of the Hermae; and the Athenian people,

glad at last, as they supposed, to get at the truth, and furious until

then at not being able to discover those who had conspired against

the commons, at once let go the informer and all the rest whom he

had not denounced, and bringing the accused to trial executed as many

as were apprehended, and condemned to death such as had fled and set

a price upon their heads. In this it was, after all, not clear whether

the sufferers had been punished unjustly, while in any case the rest

of the city received immediate and manifest relief.


To return to Alcibiades: public feeling was very hostile to him, being

worked on by the same enemies who had attacked him before he went

out; and now that the Athenians fancied that they had got at the truth

of the matter of the Hermae, they believed more firmly than ever that

the affair of the mysteries also, in which he was implicated, had

been contrived by him in the same intention and was connected with

the plot against the democracy. Meanwhile it so happened that, just

at the time of this agitation, a small force of Lacedaemonians had

advanced as far as the Isthmus, in pursuance of some scheme with the

Boeotians. It was now thought that this had come by appointment, at

his instigation, and not on account of the Boeotians, and that, if

the citizens had not acted on the information received, and forestalled

them by arresting the prisoners, the city would have been betrayed.

The citizens went so far as to sleep one night armed in the temple

of Theseus within the walls. The friends also of Alcibiades at Argos

were just at this time suspected of a design to attack the commons;

and the Argive hostages deposited in the islands were given up by

the Athenians to the Argive people to be put to death upon that account:

in short, everywhere something was found to create suspicion against

Alcibiades. It was therefore decided to bring him to trial and execute

him, and the Salaminia was sent to Sicily for him and the others named

in the information, with instructions to order him to come and answer

the charges against him, but not to arrest him, because they wished

to avoid causing any agitation in the army or among the enemy in Sicily,

and above all to retain the services of the Mantineans and Argives,

who, it was thought, had been induced to join by his influence. Alcibiades,

with his own ship and his fellow accused, accordingly sailed off with

the Salaminia from Sicily, as though to return to Athens, and went

with her as far as Thurii, and there they left the ship and disappeared,

being afraid to go home for trial with such a prejudice existing against

them. The crew of the Salaminia stayed some time looking for Alcibiades

and his companions, and at length, as they were nowhere to be found,

set sail and departed. Alcibiades, now an outlaw, crossed in a boat

not long after from Thurii to Peloponnese; and the Athenians passed

sentence of death by default upon him and those in his company.


Chapter XX


Seventeenth and Eighteenth Years of the War – Inaction of the Athenian

Army – Alcibiades at Sparta – Investment of Syracuse


The Athenian generals left in Sicily now divided the armament into

two parts, and, each taking one by lot, sailed with the whole for

Selinus and Egesta, wishing to know whether the Egestaeans would give

the money, and to look into the question of Selinus and ascertain

the state of the quarrel between her and Egesta. Coasting along Sicily,

with the shore on their left, on the side towards the Tyrrhene Gulf

they touched at Himera, the only Hellenic city in that part of the

island, and being refused admission resumed their voyage. On their

way they took Hyccara, a petty Sicanian seaport, nevertheless at war

with Egesta, and making slaves of the inhabitants gave up the town

to the Egestaeans, some of whose horse had joined them; after which

the army proceeded through the territory of the Sicels until it reached

Catana, while the fleet sailed along the coast with the slaves on

board. Meanwhile Nicias sailed straight from Hyccara along the coast

and went to Egesta and, after transacting his other business and receiving

thirty talents, rejoined the forces. They now sold their slaves for

the sum of one hundred and twenty talents, and sailed round to their

Sicel allies to urge them to send troops; and meanwhile went with

half their own force to the hostile town of Hybla in the territory

of Gela, but did not succeed in taking it.


Summer was now over. The winter following, the Athenians at once began

to prepare for moving on Syracuse, and the Syracusans on their side

for marching against them. From the moment when the Athenians failed

to attack them instantly as they at first feared and expected, every

day that passed did something to revive their courage; and when they

saw them sailing far away from them on the other side of Sicily, and

going to Hybla only to fail in their attempts to storm it, they thought

less of them than ever, and called upon their generals, as the multitude

is apt to do in its moments of confidence, to lead them to Catana,

since the enemy would not come to them. Parties also of the Syracusan

horse employed in reconnoitring constantly rode up to the Athenian

armament, and among other insults asked them whether they had not

really come to settle with the Syracusans in a foreign country rather

than to resettle the Leontines in their own.


Aware of this, the Athenian generals determined to draw them out in

mass as far as possible from the city, and themselves in the meantime

to sail by night alongshore, and take up at their leisure a convenient

position. This they knew they could not so well do, if they had to

disembark from their ships in front of a force prepared for them,

or to go by land openly. The numerous cavalry of the Syracusans (a

force which they were themselves without) would then be able to do

the greatest mischief to their light troops and the crowd that followed

them; but this plan would enable them to take up a position in which

the horse could do them no hurt worth speaking of, some Syracusan

exiles with the army having told them of the spot near the Olympieum,

which they afterwards occupied. In pursuance of their idea, the generals

imagined the following stratagem. They sent to Syracuse a man devoted

to them, and by the Syracusan generals thought to be no less in their

interest; he was a native of Catana, and said he came from persons

in that place, whose names the Syracusan generals were acquainted

with, and whom they knew to be among the members of their party still

left in the city. He told them that the Athenians passed the night

in the town, at some distance from their arms, and that if the Syracusans

would name a day and come with all their people at daybreak to attack

the armament, they, their friends, would close the gates upon the

troops in the city, and set fire to the vessels, while the Syracusans

would easily take the camp by an attack upon the stockade. In this

they would be aided by many of the Catanians, who were already prepared

to act, and from whom he himself came.


The generals of the Syracusans, who did not want confidence, and who

had intended even without this to march on Catana, believed the man

without any sufficient inquiry, fixed at once a day upon which they

would be there, and dismissed him, and the Selinuntines and others

of their allies having now arrived, gave orders for all the Syracusans

to march out in mass. Their preparations completed, and the time fixed

for their arrival being at hand, they set out for Catana, and passed

the night upon the river Symaethus, in the Leontine territory. Meanwhile

the Athenians no sooner knew of their approach than they took all

their forces and such of the Sicels or others as had joined them,

put them on board their ships and boats, and sailed by night to Syracuse.

Thus, when morning broke the Athenians were landing opposite the Olympieum

ready to seize their camping ground, and the Syracusan horse having

ridden up first to Catana and found that all the armament had put

to sea, turned back and told the infantry, and then all turned back

together, and went to the relief of the city.


In the meantime, as the march before the Syracusans was a long one,

the Athenians quietly sat down their army in a convenient position,

where they could begin an engagement when they pleased, and where

the Syracusan cavalry would have least opportunity of annoying them,

either before or during the action, being fenced off on one side by

walls, houses, trees, and by a marsh, and on the other by cliffs.

They also felled the neighbouring trees and carried them down to the

sea, and formed a palisade alongside of their ships, and with stones

which they picked up and wood hastily raised a fort at Daskon, the

most vulnerable point of their position, and broke down the bridge

over the Anapus. These preparations were allowed to go on without

any interruption from the city, the first hostile force to appear

being the Syracusan cavalry, followed afterwards by all the foot together.

At first they came close up to the Athenian army, and then, finding

that they did not offer to engage, crossed the Helorine road and encamped

for the night.


The next day the Athenians and their allies prepared for battle, their

dispositions being as follows: Their right wing was occupied by the

Argives and Mantineans, the centre by the Athenians, and the rest

of the field by the other allies. Half their army was drawn up eight

deep in advance, half close to their tents in a hollow square, formed

also eight deep, which had orders to look out and be ready to go to

the support of the troops hardest pressed. The camp followers were

placed inside this reserve. The Syracusans, meanwhile, formed their

heavy infantry sixteen deep, consisting of the mass levy of their

own people, and such allies as had joined them, the strongest contingent

being that of the Selinuntines; next to them the cavalry of the Geloans,

numbering two hundred in all, with about twenty horse and fifty archers

from Camarina. The cavalry was posted on their right, full twelve

hundred strong, and next to it the darters. As the Athenians were

about to begin the attack, Nicias went along the lines, and addressed

these words of encouragement to the army and the nations composing



“Soldiers, a long exhortation is little needed by men like ourselves,

who are here to fight in the same battle, the force itself being,

to my thinking, more fit to inspire confidence than a fine speech

with a weak army. Where we have Argives, Mantineans, Athenians, and

the first of the islanders in the ranks together, it were strange

indeed, with so many and so brave companions in arms, if we did not

feel confident of victory; especially when we have mass levies opposed

to our picked troops, and what is more, Siceliots, who may disdain

us but will not stand against us, their skill not being at all commensurate

to their rashness. You may also remember that we are far from home

and have no friendly land near, except what your own swords shall

win you; and here I put before you a motive just the reverse of that

which the enemy are appealing to; their cry being that they shall

fight for their country, mine that we shall fight for a country that

is not ours, where we must conquer or hardly get away, as we shall

have their horse upon us in great numbers. Remember, therefore, your

renown, and go boldly against the enemy, thinking the present strait

and necessity more terrible than they.”


After this address Nicias at once led on the army. The Syracusans

were not at that moment expecting an immediate engagement, and some

had even gone away to the town, which was close by; these now ran

up as hard as they could and, though behind time, took their places

here or there in the main body as fast as they joined it. Want of

zeal or daring was certainly not the fault of the Syracusans, either

in this or the other battles, but although not inferior in courage,

so far as their military science might carry them, when this failed

them they were compelled to give up their resolution also. On the

present occasion, although they had not supposed that the Athenians

would begin the attack, and although constrained to stand upon their

defence at short notice, they at once took up their arms and advanced

to meet them. First, the stone-throwers, slingers, and archers of

either army began skirmishing, and routed or were routed by one another,

as might be expected between light troops; next, soothsayers brought

forward the usual victims, and trumpeters urged on the heavy infantry

to the charge; and thus they advanced, the Syracusans to fight for

their country, and each individual for his safety that day and liberty

hereafter; in the enemy’s army, the Athenians to make another’s country

theirs and to save their own from suffering by their defeat; the Argives

and independent allies to help them in getting what they came for,

and to earn by victory another sight of the country they had left

behind; while the subject allies owed most of their ardour to the

desire of self-preservation, which they could only hope for if victorious;

next to which, as a secondary motive, came the chance of serving on

easier terms, after helping the Athenians to a fresh conquest.


The armies now came to close quarters, and for a long while fought

without either giving ground. Meanwhile there occurred some claps

of thunder with lightning and heavy rain, which did not fail to add

to the fears of the party fighting for the first time, and very little

acquainted with war; while to their more experienced adversaries these

phenomena appeared to be produced by the time of year, and much more

alarm was felt at the continued resistance of the enemy. At last the

Argives drove in the Syracusan left, and after them the Athenians

routed the troops opposed to them, and the Syracusan army was thus

cut in two and betook itself to flight. The Athenians did not pursue

far, being held in check by the numerous and undefeated Syracusan

horse, who attacked and drove back any of their heavy infantry whom

they saw pursuing in advance of the rest; in spite of which the victors

followed so far as was safe in a body, and then went back and set

up a trophy. Meanwhile the Syracusans rallied at the Helorine road,

where they re-formed as well as they could under the circumstances,

and even sent a garrison of their own citizens to the Olympieum, fearing

that the Athenians might lay hands on some of the treasures there.

The rest returned to the town.


The Athenians, however, did not go to the temple, but collected their

dead and laid them upon a pyre, and passed the night upon the field.

The next day they gave the enemy back their dead under truce, to the

number of about two hundred and sixty, Syracusans and allies, and

gathered together the bones of their own, some fifty, Athenians and

allies, and taking the spoils of the enemy, sailed back to Catana.

It was now winter; and it did not seem possible for the moment to

carry on the war before Syracuse, until horse should have been sent

for from Athens and levied among the allies in Sicily- to do away

with their utter inferiority in cavalry- and money should have been

collected in the country and received from Athens, and until some

of the cities, which they hoped would be now more disposed to listen

to them after the battle, should have been brought over, and corn

and all other necessaries provided, for a campaign in the spring against



With this intention they sailed off to Naxos and Catana for the winter.

Meanwhile the Syracusans burned their dead and then held an assembly,

in which Hermocrates, son of Hermon, a man who with a general ability

of the first order had given proofs of military capacity and brilliant

courage in the war, came forward and encouraged them, and told them

not to let what had occurred make them give way, since their spirit

had not been conquered, but their want of discipline had done the

mischief. Still they had not been beaten by so much as might have

been expected, especially as they were, one might say, novices in

the art of war, an army of artisans opposed to the most practised

soldiers in Hellas. What had also done great mischief was the number

of the generals (there were fifteen of them) and the quantity of orders

given, combined with the disorder and insubordination of the troops.

But if they were to have a few skilful generals, and used this winter

in preparing their heavy infantry, finding arms for such as had not

got any, so as to make them as numerous as possible, and forcing them

to attend to their training generally, they would have every chance

of beating their adversaries, courage being already theirs and discipline

in the field having thus been added to it. Indeed, both these qualities

would improve, since danger would exercise them in discipline, while

their courage would be led to surpass itself by the confidence which

skill inspires. The generals should be few and elected with full powers,

and an oath should be taken to leave them entire discretion in their

command: if they adopted this plan, their secrets would be better

kept, all preparations would be properly made, and there would be

no room for excuses.


The Syracusans heard him, and voted everything as he advised, and

elected three generals, Hermocrates himself, Heraclides, son of Lysimachus,

and Sicanus, son of Execestes. They also sent envoys to Corinth and

Lacedaemon to procure a force of allies to join them, and to induce

the Lacedaemonians for their sakes openly to address themselves in

real earnest to the war against the Athenians, that they might either

have to leave Sicily or be less able to send reinforcements to their

army there.


The Athenian forces at Catana now at once sailed against Messina,

in the expectation of its being betrayed to them. The intrigue, however,

after all came to nothing: Alcibiades, who was in the secret, when

he left his command upon the summons from home, foreseeing that he

would be outlawed, gave information of the plot to the friends of

the Syracusans in Messina, who had at once put to death its authors,

and now rose in arms against the opposite faction with those of their

way of thinking, and succeeded in preventing the admission of the

Athenians. The latter waited for thirteen days, and then, as they

were exposed to the weather and without provisions, and met with no

success, went back to Naxos, where they made places for their ships

to lie in, erected a palisade round their camp, and retired into winter

quarters; meanwhile they sent a galley to Athens for money and cavalry

to join them in the spring. During the winter the Syracusans built

a wall on to the city, so as to take in the statue of Apollo Temenites,

all along the side looking towards Epipolae, to make the task of circumvallation

longer and more difficult, in case of their being defeated, and also

erected a fort at Megara and another in the Olympieum, and stuck palisades

along the sea wherever there was a landing Place. Meanwhile, as they

knew that the Athenians were wintering at Naxos, they marched with

all their people to Catana, and ravaged the land and set fire to the

tents and encampment of the Athenians, and so returned home. Learning

also that the Athenians were sending an embassy to Camarina, on the

strength of the alliance concluded in the time of Laches, to gain,

if possible, that city, they sent another from Syracuse to oppose

them. They had a shrewd suspicion that the Camarinaeans had not sent

what they did send for the first battle very willingly; and they now

feared that they would refuse to assist them at all in future, after

seeing the success of the Athenians in the action, and would join

the latter on the strength of their old friendship. Hermocrates, with

some others, accordingly arrived at Camarina from Syracuse, and Euphemus

and others from the Athenians; and an assembly of the Camarinaeans

having been convened, Hermocrates spoke as follows, in the hope of

prejudicing them against the Athenians:


“Camarinaeans, we did not come on this embassy because we were afraid

of your being frightened by the actual forces of the Athenians, but

rather of your being gained by what they would say to you before you

heard anything from us. They are come to Sicily with the pretext that

you know, and the intention which we all suspect, in my opinion less

to restore the Leontines to their homes than to oust us from ours;

as it is out of all reason that they should restore in Sicily the

cities that they lay waste in Hellas, or should cherish the Leontine

Chalcidians because of their Ionian blood and keep in servitude the

Euboean Chalcidians, of whom the Leontines are a colony. No; but the

same policy which has proved so successful in Hellas is now being

tried in Sicily. After being chosen as the leaders of the Ionians

and of the other allies of Athenian origin, to punish the Mede, the

Athenians accused some of failure in military service, some of fighting

against each other, and others, as the case might be, upon any colourable

pretext that could be found, until they thus subdued them all. In

fine, in the struggle against the Medes, the Athenians did not fight

for the liberty of the Hellenes, or the Hellenes for their own liberty,

but the former to make their countrymen serve them instead of him,

the latter to change one master for another, wiser indeed than the

first, but wiser for evil.


“But we are not now come to declare to an audience familiar with them

the misdeeds of a state so open to accusation as is the Athenian,

but much rather to blame ourselves, who, with the warnings we possess

in the Hellenes in those parts that have been enslaved through not

supporting each other, and seeing the same sophisms being now tried

upon ourselves- such as restorations of Leontine kinsfolk and support

of Egestaean allies- do not stand together and resolutely show them

that here are no Ionians, or Hellespontines, or islanders, who change

continually, but always serve a master, sometimes the Mede and sometimes

some other, but free Dorians from independent Peloponnese, dwelling

in Sicily. Or, are we waiting until we be taken in detail, one city

after another; knowing as we do that in no other way can we be conquered,

and seeing that they turn to this plan, so as to divide some of us

by words, to draw some by the bait of an alliance into open war with

each other, and to ruin others by such flattery as different circumstances

may render acceptable? And do we fancy when destruction first overtakes

a distant fellow countryman that the danger will not come to each

of us also, or that he who suffers before us will suffer in himself



“As for the Camarinaean who says that it is the Syracusan, not he,

that is the enemy of the Athenian, and who thinks it hard to have

to encounter risk in behalf of my country, I would have him bear in

mind that he will fight in my country, not more for mine than for

his own, and by so much the more safely in that he will enter on the

struggle not alone, after the way has been cleared by my ruin, but

with me as his ally, and that the object of the Athenian is not so

much to punish the enmity of the Syracusan as to use me as a blind

to secure the friendship of the Camarinaean. As for him who envies

or even fears us (and envied and feared great powers must always be),

and who on this account wishes Syracuse to be humbled to teach us

a lesson, but would still have her survive, in the interest of his

own security the wish that he indulges is not humanly possible. A

man can control his own desires, but he cannot likewise control circumstances;

and in the event of his calculations proving mistaken, he may live

to bewail his own misfortune, and wish to be again envying my prosperity.

An idle wish, if he now sacrifice us and refuse to take his share

of perils which are the same, in reality though not in name, for him

as for us; what is nominally the preservation of our power being really

his own salvation. It was to be expected that you, of all people in

the world, Camarinaeans, being our immediate neighbours and the next

in danger, would have foreseen this, and instead of supporting us

in the lukewarm way that you are now doing, would rather come to us

of your own accord, and be now offering at Syracuse the aid which

you would have asked for at Camarina, if to Camarina the Athenians

had first come, to encourage us to resist the invader. Neither you,

however, nor the rest have as yet bestirred yourselves in this direction.


“Fear perhaps will make you study to do right both by us and by the

invaders, and plead that you have an alliance with the Athenians.

But you made that alliance, not against your friends, but against

the enemies that might attack you, and to help the Athenians when

they were wronged by others, not when as now they are wronging their

neighbours. Even the Rhegians, Chalcidians though they be, refuse

to help to restore the Chalcidian Leontines; and it would be strange

if, while they suspect the gist of this fine pretence and are wise

without reason, you, with every reason on your side, should yet choose

to assist your natural enemies, and should join with their direst

foes in undoing those whom nature has made your own kinsfolk. This

is not to do right; but you should help us without fear of their armament,

which has no terrors if we hold together, but only if we let them

succeed in their endeavours to separate us; since even after attacking

us by ourselves and being victorious in battle, they had to go off

without effecting their purpose.


“United, therefore, we have no cause to despair, but rather new encouragement

to league together; especially as succour will come to us from the

Peloponnesians, in military matters the undoubted superiors of the

Athenians. And you need not think that your prudent policy of taking

sides with neither, because allies of both, is either safe for you

or fair to us. Practically it is not as fair as it pretends to be.

If the vanquished be defeated, and the victor conquer, through your

refusing to join, what is the effect of your abstention but to leave

the former to perish unaided, and to allow the latter to offend unhindered?

And yet it were more honourable to join those who are not only the

injured party, but your own kindred, and by so doing to defend the

common interests of Sicily and save your friends the Athenians from

doing wrong.


“In conclusion, we Syracusans say that it is useless for us to demonstrate

either to you or to the rest what you know already as well as we do;

but we entreat, and if our entreaty fail, we protest that we are menaced

by our eternal enemies the Ionians, and are betrayed by you our fellow

Dorians. If the Athenians reduce us, they will owe their victory to

your decision, but in their own name will reap the honour, and will

receive as the prize of their triumph the very men who enabled them

to gain it. On the other hand, if we are the conquerors, you will

have to pay for having been the cause of our danger. Consider, therefore;

and now make your choice between the security which present servitude

offers and the prospect of conquering with us and so escaping disgraceful

submission to an Athenian master and avoiding the lasting enmity of



Such were the words of Hermocrates; after whom Euphemus, the Athenian

ambassador, spoke as follows:


“Although we came here only to renew the former alliance, the attack

of the Syracusans compels us to speak of our empire and of the good

right we have to it. The best proof of this the speaker himself furnished,

when he called the Ionians eternal enemies of the Dorians. It is the

fact; and the Peloponnesian Dorians being our superiors in numbers

and next neighbours, we Ionians looked out for the best means of escaping

their domination. After the Median War we had a fleet, and so got

rid of the empire and supremacy of the Lacedaemonians, who had no

right to give orders to us more than we to them, except that of being

the strongest at that moment; and being appointed leaders of the King’s

former subjects, we continue to be so, thinking that we are least

likely to fall under the dominion of the Peloponnesians, if we have

a force to defend ourselves with, and in strict truth having done

nothing unfair in reducing to subjection the Ionians and islanders,

the kinsfolk whom the Syracusans say we have enslaved. They, our kinsfolk,

came against their mother country, that is to say against us, together

with the Mede, and, instead of having the courage to revolt and sacrifice

their property as we did when we abandoned our city, chose to be slaves

themselves, and to try to make us so.


“We, therefore, deserve to rule because we placed the largest fleet

and an unflinching patriotism at the service of the Hellenes, and

because these, our subjects, did us mischief by their ready subservience

to the Medes; and, desert apart, we seek to strengthen ourselves against

the Peloponnesians. We make no fine profession of having a right to

rule because we overthrew the barbarian single-handed, or because

we risked what we did risk for the freedom of the subjects in question

any more than for that of all, and for our own: no one can be quarrelled

with for providing for his proper safety. If we are now here in Sicily,

it is equally in the interest of our security, with which we perceive

that your interest also coincides. We prove this from the conduct

which the Syracusans cast against us and which you somewhat too timorously

suspect; knowing that those whom fear has made suspicious may be carried

away by the charm of eloquence for the moment, but when they come

to act follow their interests.


“Now, as we have said, fear makes us hold our empire in Hellas, and

fear makes us now come, with the help of our friends, to order safely

matters in Sicily, and not to enslave any but rather to prevent any

from being enslaved. Meanwhile, let no one imagine that we are interesting

ourselves in you without your having anything to do with us, seeing

that, if you are preserved and able to make head against the Syracusans,

they will be less likely to harm us by sending troops to the Peloponnesians.

In this way you have everything to do with us, and on this account

it is perfectly reasonable for us to restore the Leontines, and to

make them, not subjects like their kinsmen in Euboea, but as powerful

as possible, to help us by annoying the Syracusans from their frontier.

In Hellas we are alone a match for our enemies; and as for the assertion

that it is out of all reason that we should free the Sicilian, while

we enslave the Chalcidian, the fact is that the latter is useful to

us by being without arms and contributing money only; while the former,

the Leontines and our other friends, cannot be too independent.


“Besides, for tyrants and imperial cities nothing is unreasonable

if expedient, no one a kinsman unless sure; but friendship or enmity

is everywhere an affair of time and circumstance. Here, in Sicily,

our interest is not to weaken our friends, but by means of their strength

to cripple our enemies. Why doubt this? In Hellas we treat our allies

as we find them useful. The Chians and Methymnians govern themselves

and furnish ships; most of the rest have harder terms and pay tribute

in money; while others, although islanders and easy for us to take,

are free altogether, because they occupy convenient positions round

Peloponnese. In our settlement of the states here in Sicily, we should

therefore; naturally be guided by our interest, and by fear, as we

say, of the Syracusans. Their ambition is to rule you, their object

to use the suspicions that we excite to unite you, and then, when

we have gone away without effecting anything, by force or through

your isolation, to become the masters of Sicily. And masters they

must become, if you unite with them; as a force of that magnitude

would be no longer easy for us to deal with united, and they would

be more than a match for you as soon as we were away.


“Any other view of the case is condemned by the facts. When you first

asked us over, the fear which you held out was that of danger to Athens

if we let you come under the dominion of Syracuse; and it is not right

now to mistrust the very same argument by which you claimed to convince

us, or to give way to suspicion because we are come with a larger

force against the power of that city. Those whom you should really

distrust are the Syracusans. We are not able to stay here without

you, and if we proved perfidious enough to bring you into subjection,

we should be unable to keep you in bondage, owing to the length of

the voyage and the difficulty of guarding large, and in a military

sense continental, towns: they, the Syracusans, live close to you,

not in a camp, but in a city greater than the force we have with us,

plot always against you, never let slip an opportunity once offered,

as they have shown in the case of the Leontines and others, and now

have the face, just as if you were fools, to invite you to aid them

against the power that hinders this, and that has thus far maintained

Sicily independent. We, as against them, invite you to a much more

real safety, when we beg you not to betray that common safety which

we each have in the other, and to reflect that they, even without

allies, will, by their numbers, have always the way open to you, while

you will not often have the opportunity of defending yourselves with

such numerous auxiliaries; if, through your suspicions, you once let

these go away unsuccessful or defeated, you will wish to see if only

a handful of them back again, when the day is past in which their

presence could do anything for you.


“But we hope, Camarinaeans, that the calumnies of the Syracusans will

not be allowed to succeed either with you or with the rest: we have

told you the whole truth upon the things we are suspected of, and

will now briefly recapitulate, in the hope of convincing you. We assert

that we are rulers in Hellas in order not to be subjects; liberators

in Sicily that we may not be harmed by the Sicilians; that we are

compelled to interfere in many things, because we have many things

to guard against; and that now, as before, we are come as allies to

those of you who suffer wrong in this island, not without invitation

but upon invitation. Accordingly, instead of making yourselves judges

or censors of our conduct, and trying to turn us, which it were now

difficult to do, so far as there is anything in our interfering policy

or in our character that chimes in with your interest, this take and

make use of; and be sure that, far from being injurious to all alike,

to most of the Hellenes that policy is even beneficial. Thanks to

it, all men in all places, even where we are not, who either apprehend

or meditate aggression, from the near prospect before them, in the

one case, of obtaining our intervention in their favour, in the other,

of our arrival making the venture dangerous, find themselves constrained,

respectively, to be moderate against their will, and to be preserved

without trouble of their own. Do not you reject this security that

is open to all who desire it, and is now offered to you; but do like

others, and instead of being always on the defensive against the Syracusans,

unite with us, and in your turn at last threaten them.”


Such were the words of Euphemus. What the Camarinaeans felt was this.

Sympathizing with the Athenians, except in so far as they might be

afraid of their subjugating Sicily, they had always been at enmity

with their neighbour Syracuse. From the very fact, however, that they

were their neighbours, they feared the Syracusans most of the two,

and being apprehensive of their conquering even without them, both

sent them in the first instance the few horsemen mentioned, and for

the future determined to support them most in fact, although as sparingly

as possible; but for the moment in order not to seem to slight the

Athenians, especially as they had been successful in the engagement,

to answer both alike. Agreeably to this resolution they answered that

as both the contending parties happened to be allies of theirs, they

thought it most consistent with their oaths at present to side with

neither; with which answer the ambassadors of either party departed.


In the meantime, while Syracuse pursued her preparations for war,

the Athenians were encamped at Naxos, and tried by negotiation to

gain as many of the Sicels as possible. Those more in the low lands,

and subjects of Syracuse, mostly held aloof; but the peoples of the

interior who had never been otherwise than independent, with few exceptions,

at once joined the Athenians, and brought down corn to the army, and

in some cases even money. The Athenians marched against those who

refused to join, and forced some of them to do so; in the case of

others they were stopped by the Syracusans sending garrisons and reinforcements.

Meanwhile the Athenians moved their winter quarters from Naxos to

Catana, and reconstructed the camp burnt by the Syracusans, and stayed

there the rest of the winter. They also sent a galley to Carthage,

with proffers of friendship, on the chance of obtaining assistance,

and another to Tyrrhenia; some of the cities there having spontaneously

offered to join them in the war. They also sent round to the Sicels

and to Egesta, desiring them to send them as many horses as possible,

and meanwhile prepared bricks, iron, and all other things necessary

for the work of circumvallation, intending by the spring to begin



In the meantime the Syracusan envoys dispatched to Corinth and Lacedaemon

tried as they passed along the coast to persuade the Italiots to interfere

with the proceedings of the Athenians, which threatened Italy quite

as much as Syracuse, and having arrived at Corinth made a speech calling

on the Corinthians to assist them on the ground of their common origin.

The Corinthians voted at once to aid them heart and soul themselves,

and then sent on envoys with them to Lacedaemon, to help them to persuade

her also to prosecute the war with the Athenians more openly at home

and to send succours to Sicily. The envoys from Corinth having reached

Lacedaemon found there Alcibiades with his fellow refugees, who had

at once crossed over in a trading vessel from Thurii, first to Cyllene

in Elis, and afterwards from thence to Lacedaemon; upon the Lacedaemonians’

own invitation, after first obtaining a safe conduct, as he feared

them for the part he had taken in the affair of Mantinea. The result

was that the Corinthians, Syracusans, and Alcibiades, pressing all

the same request in the assembly of the Lacedaemonians, succeeded

in persuading them; but as the ephors and the authorities, although

resolved to send envoys to Syracuse to prevent their surrendering

to the Athenians, showed no disposition to send them any assistance,

Alcibiades now came forward and inflamed and stirred the Lacedaemonians

by speaking as follows:


“I am forced first to speak to you of the prejudice with which I am

regarded, in order that suspicion may not make you disinclined to

listen to me upon public matters. The connection, with you as your

proxeni, which the ancestors of our family by reason of some discontent

renounced, I personally tried to renew by my good offices towards

you, in particular upon the occasion of the disaster at Pylos. But

although I maintained this friendly attitude, you yet chose to negotiate

the peace with the Athenians through my enemies, and thus to strengthen

them and to discredit me. You had therefore no right to complain if

I turned to the Mantineans and Argives, and seized other occasions

of thwarting and injuring you; and the time has now come when those

among you, who in the bitterness of the moment may have been then

unfairly angry with me, should look at the matter in its true light,

and take a different view. Those again who judged me unfavourably,

because I leaned rather to the side of the commons, must not think

that their dislike is any better founded. We have always been hostile

to tyrants, and all who oppose arbitrary power are called commons;

hence we continued to act as leaders of the multitude; besides which,

as democracy was the government of the city, it was necessary in most

things to conform to established conditions. However, we endeavoured

to be more moderate than the licentious temper of the times; and while

there were others, formerly as now, who tried to lead the multitude

astray- the same who banished me- our party was that of the whole

people, our creed being to do our part in preserving the form of government

under which the city enjoyed the utmost greatness and freedom, and

which we had found existing. As for democracy, the men of sense among

us knew what it was, and I perhaps as well as any, as I have the more

cause to complain of it; but there is nothing new to be said of a

patent absurdity; meanwhile we did not think it safe to alter it under

the pressure of your hostility.


“So much then for the prejudices with which I am regarded: I now can

call your attention to the questions you must consider, and upon which

superior knowledge perhaps permits me to speak. We sailed to Sicily

first to conquer, if possible, the Siceliots, and after them the Italiots

also, and finally to assail the empire and city of Carthage. In the

event of all or most of these schemes succeeding, we were then to

attack Peloponnese, bringing with us the entire force of the Hellenes

lately acquired in those parts, and taking a number of barbarians

into our pay, such as the Iberians and others in those countries,

confessedly the most warlike known, and building numerous galleys

in addition to those which we had already, timber being plentiful

in Italy; and with this fleet blockading Peloponnese from the sea

and assailing it with our armies by land, taking some of the cities

by storm, drawing works of circumvallation round others, we hoped

without difficulty to effect its reduction, and after this to rule

the whole of the Hellenic name. Money and corn meanwhile for the better

execution of these plans were to be supplied in sufficient quantities

by the newly acquired places in those countries, independently of

our revenues here at home.


“You have thus heard the history of the present expedition from the

man who most exactly knows what our objects were; and the remaining

generals will, if they can, carry these out just the same. But that

the states in Sicily must succumb if you do not help them, I will

now show. Although the Siceliots, with all their inexperience, might

even now be saved if their forces were united, the Syracusans alone,

beaten already in one battle with all their people and blockaded from

the sea, will be unable to withstand the Athenian armament that is

now there. But if Syracuse falls, all Sicily falls also, and Italy

immediately afterwards; and the danger which I just now spoke of from

that quarter will before long be upon you. None need therefore fancy

that Sicily only is in question; Peloponnese will be so also, unless

you speedily do as I tell you, and send on board ship to Syracuse

troops that shall able to row their ships themselves, and serve as

heavy infantry the moment that they land; and what I consider even

more important than the troops, a Spartan as commanding officer to

discipline the forces already on foot and to compel recusants to serve.

The friends that you have already will thus become more confident,

and the waverers will be encouraged to join you. Meanwhile you must

carry on the war here more openly, that the Syracusans, seeing that

you do not forget them, may put heart into their resistance, and that

the Athenians may be less able to reinforce their armament. You must

fortify Decelea in Attica, the blow of which the Athenians are always

most afraid and the only one that they think they have not experienced

in the present war; the surest method of harming an enemy being to

find out what he most fears, and to choose this means of attacking

him, since every one naturally knows best his own weak points and

fears accordingly. The fortification in question, while it benefits

you, will create difficulties for your adversaries, of which I shall

pass over many, and shall only mention the chief. Whatever property

there is in the country will most of it become yours, either by capture

or surrender; and the Athenians will at once be deprived of their

revenues from the silver mines at Laurium, of their present gains

from their land and from the law courts, and above all of the revenue

from their allies, which will be paid less regularly, as they lose

their awe of Athens and see you addressing yourselves with vigour

to the war. The zeal and speed with which all this shall be done depends,

Lacedaemonians, upon yourselves; as to its possibility, I am quite

confident, and I have little fear of being mistaken.


“Meanwhile I hope that none of you will think any the worse of me

if, after having hitherto passed as a lover of my country, I now actively

join its worst enemies in attacking it, or will suspect what I say

as the fruit of an outlaw’s enthusiasm. I am an outlaw from the iniquity

of those who drove me forth, not, if you will be guided by me, from

your service; my worst enemies are not you who only harmed your foes,

but they who forced their friends to become enemies; and love of country

is what I do not feel when I am wronged, but what I felt when secure

in my rights as a citizen. Indeed I do not consider that I am now

attacking a country that is still mine; I am rather trying to recover

one that is mine no longer; and the true lover of his country is not

he who consents to lose it unjustly rather than attack it, but he

who longs for it so much that he will go all lengths to recover it.

For myself, therefore, Lacedaemonians, I beg you to use me without

scruple for danger and trouble of every kind, and to remember the

argument in every one’s mouth, that if I did you great harm as an

enemy, I could likewise do you good service as a friend, inasmuch

as I know the plans of the Athenians, while I only guessed yours.

For yourselves I entreat you to believe that your most capital interests

are now under deliberation; and I urge you to send without hesitation

the expeditions to Sicily and Attica; by the presence of a small part

of your forces you will save important cities in that island, and

you will destroy the power of Athens both present and prospective;

after this you will dwell in security and enjoy the supremacy over

all Hellas, resting not on force but upon consent and affection.”


Such were the words of Alcibiades. The Lacedaemonians, who had themselves

before intended to march against Athens, but were still waiting and

looking about them, at once became much more in earnest when they

received this particular information from Alcibiades, and considered

that they had heard it from the man who best knew the truth of the

matter. Accordingly they now turned their attention to the fortifying

of Decelea and sending immediate aid to the Sicilians; and naming

Gylippus, son of Cleandridas, to the command of the Syracusans, bade

him consult with that people and with the Corinthians and arrange

for succours reaching the island, in the best and speediest way possible

under the circumstances. Gylippus desired the Corinthians to send

him at once two ships to Asine, and to prepare the rest that they

intended to send, and to have them ready to sail at the proper time.

Having settled this, the envoys departed from Lacedaemon.


In the meantime arrived the Athenian galley from Sicily sent by the

generals for money and cavalry; and the Athenians, after hearing what

they wanted, voted to send the supplies for the armament and the cavalry.

And the winter ended, and with it ended the seventeenth year of the

present war of which Thucydides is the historian.


The next summer, at the very beginning of the season, the Athenians

in Sicily put out from Catana, and sailed along shore to Megara in

Sicily, from which, as I have mentioned above, the Syracusans expelled

the inhabitants in the time of their tyrant Gelo, themselves occupying

the territory. Here the Athenians landed and laid waste the country,

and after an unsuccessful attack upon a fort of the Syracusans, went

on with the fleet and army to the river Terias, and advancing inland

laid waste the plain and set fire to the corn; and after killing some

of a small Syracusan party which they encountered, and setting up

a trophy, went back again to their ships. They now sailed to Catana

and took in provisions there, and going with their whole force against

Centoripa, a town of the Sicels, acquired it by capitulation, and

departed, after also burning the corn of the Inessaeans and Hybleans.

Upon their return to Catana they found the horsemen arrived from Athens,

to the number of two hundred and fifty (with their equipments, but

without their horses which were to be procured upon the spot), and

thirty mounted archers and three hundred talents of silver.


The same spring the Lacedaemonians marched against Argos, and went

as far as Cleonae, when an earthquake occurred and caused them to

return. After this the Argives invaded the Thyreatid, which is on

their border, and took much booty from the Lacedaemonians, which was

sold for no less than twenty-five talents. The same summer, not long

after, the Thespian commons made an attack upon the party in office,

which was not successful, but succours arrived from Thebes, and some

were caught, while others took refuge at Athens.


The same summer the Syracusans learned that the Athenians had been

joined by their cavalry, and were on the point of marching against

them; and seeing that without becoming masters of Epipolae, a precipitous

spot situated exactly over the town, the Athenians could not, even

if victorious in battle, easily invest them, they determined to guard

its approaches, in order that the enemy might not ascend unobserved

by this, the sole way by which ascent was possible, as the remainder

is lofty ground, and falls right down to the city, and can all be

seen from inside; and as it lies above the rest the place is called

by the Syracusans Epipolae or Overtown. They accordingly went out

in mass at daybreak into the meadow along the river Anapus, their

new generals, Hermocrates and his colleagues, having just come into

office, and held a review of their heavy infantry, from whom they

first selected a picked body of six hundred, under the command of

Diomilus, an exile from Andros, to guard Epipolae, and to be ready

to muster at a moment’s notice to help wherever help should be required.


Meanwhile the Athenians, the very same morning, were holding a review,

having already made land unobserved with all the armament from Catana,

opposite a place called Leon, not much more than half a mile from

Epipolae, where they disembarked their army, bringing the fleet to

anchor at Thapsus, a peninsula running out into the sea, with a narrow

isthmus, and not far from the city of Syracuse either by land or water.

While the naval force of the Athenians threw a stockade across the

isthmus and remained quiet at Thapsus, the land army immediately went

on at a run to Epipolae, and succeeded in getting up by Euryelus before

the Syracusans perceived them, or could come up from the meadow and

the review. Diomilus with his six hundred and the rest advanced as

quickly as they could, but they had nearly three miles to go from

the meadow before reaching them. Attacking in this way in considerable

disorder, the Syracusans were defeated in battle at Epipolae and retired

to the town, with a loss of about three hundred killed, and Diomilus

among the number. After this the Athenians set up a trophy and restored

to the Syracusans their dead under truce, and next day descended to

Syracuse itself; and no one coming out to meet them, reascended and

built a fort at Labdalum, upon the edge of the cliffs of Epipolae,

looking towards Megara, to serve as a magazine for their baggage and

money, whenever they advanced to battle or to work at the lines.


Not long afterwards three hundred cavalry came to them from Egesta,

and about a hundred from the Sicels, Naxians, and others; and thus,

with the two hundred and fifty from Athens, for whom they had got

horses from the Egestaeans and Catanians, besides others that they

bought, they now mustered six hundred and fifty cavalry in all. After

posting a garrison in Labdalum, they advanced to Syca, where they

sat down and quickly built the Circle or centre of their wall of circumvallation.

The Syracusans, appalled at the rapidity with which the work advanced,

determined to go out against them and give battle and interrupt it;

and the two armies were already in battle array, when the Syracusan

generals observed that their troops found such difficulty in getting

into line, and were in such disorder, that they led them back into

the town, except part of the cavalry. These remained and hindered

the Athenians from carrying stones or dispersing to any great distance,

until a tribe of the Athenian heavy infantry, with all the cavalry,

charged and routed the Syracusan horse with some loss; after which

they set up a trophy for the cavalry action.


The next day the Athenians began building the wall to the north of

the Circle, at the same time collecting stone and timber, which they

kept laying down towards Trogilus along the shortest line for their

works from the great harbour to the sea; while the Syracusans, guided

by their generals, and above all by Hermocrates, instead of risking

any more general engagements, determined to build a counterwork in

the direction in which the Athenians were going to carry their wall.

If this could be completed in time, the enemy’s lines would be cut;

and meanwhile, if he were to attempt to interrupt them by an attack,

they would send a part of their forces against him, and would secure

the approaches beforehand with their stockade, while the Athenians

would have to leave off working with their whole force in order to

attend to them. They accordingly sallied forth and began to build,

starting from their city, running a cross wall below the Athenian

Circle, cutting down the olives and erecting wooden towers. As the

Athenian fleet had not yet sailed round into the great harbour, the

Syracusans still commanded the seacoast, and the Athenians brought

their provisions by land from Thapsus.


The Syracusans now thought the stockades and stonework of their counterwall

sufficiently far advanced; and as the Athenians, afraid of being divided

and so fighting at a disadvantage, and intent upon their own wall,

did not come out to interrupt them, they left one tribe to guard the

new work and went back into the city. Meanwhile the Athenians destroyed

their pipes of drinking-water carried underground into the city; and

watching until the rest of the Syracusans were in their tents at midday,

and some even gone away into the city, and those in the stockade keeping

but indifferent guard, appointed three hundred picked men of their

own, and some men picked from the light troops and armed for the purpose,

to run suddenly as fast as they could to the counterwork, while the

rest of the army advanced in two divisions, the one with one of the

generals to the city in case of a sortie, the other with the other

general to the stockade by the postern gate. The three hundred attacked

and took the stockade, abandoned by its garrison, who took refuge

in the outworks round the statue of Apollo Temenites. Here the pursuers

burst in with them, and after getting in were beaten out by the Syracusans,

and some few of the Argives and Athenians slain; after which the whole

army retired, and having demolished the counterwork and pulled up

the stockade, carried away the stakes to their own lines, and set

up a trophy.


The next day the Athenians from the Circle proceeded to fortify the

cliff above the marsh which on this side of Epipolae looks towards

the great harbour; this being also the shortest line for their work

to go down across the plain and the marsh to the harbour. Meanwhile

the Syracusans marched out and began a second stockade, starting from

the city, across the middle of the marsh, digging a trench alongside

to make it impossible for the Athenians to carry their wall down to

the sea. As soon as the Athenians had finished their work at the cliff

they again attacked the stockade and ditch of the Syracusans. Ordering

the fleet to sail round from Thapsus into the great harbour of Syracuse,

they descended at about dawn from Epipolae into the plain, and laying

doors and planks over the marsh, where it was muddy and firmest, crossed

over on these, and by daybreak took the ditch and the stockade, except

a small portion which they captured afterwards. A battle now ensued,

in which the Athenians were victorious, the right wing of the Syracusans

flying to the town and the left to the river. The three hundred picked

Athenians, wishing to cut off their passage, pressed on at a run to

the bridge, when the alarmed Syracusans, who had with them most of

their cavalry, closed and routed them, hurling them back upon the

Athenian right wing, the first tribe of which was thrown into a panic

by the shock. Seeing this, Lamachus came to their aid from the Athenian

left with a few archers and with the Argives, and crossing a ditch,

was left alone with a few that had crossed with him, and was killed

with five or six of his men. These the Syracusans managed immediately

to snatch up in haste and get across the river into a place of security,

themselves retreating as the rest of the Athenian army now came up.


Meanwhile those who had at first fled for refuge to the city, seeing

the turn affairs were taking, now rallied from the town and formed

against the Athenians in front of them, sending also a part of their

number to the Circle on Epipolae, which they hoped to take while denuded

of its defenders. These took and destroyed the Athenian outwork of

a thousand feet, the Circle itself being saved by Nicias, who happened

to have been left in it through illness, and who now ordered the servants

to set fire to the engines and timber thrown down before the wall;

want of men, as he was aware, rendering all other means of escape

impossible. This step was justified by the result, the Syracusans

not coming any further on account of the fire, but retreating. Meanwhile

succours were coming up from the Athenians below, who had put to flight

the troops opposed to them; and the fleet also, according to orders,

was sailing from Thapsus into the great harbour. Seeing this, the

troops on the heights retired in haste, and the whole army of the

Syracusans re-entered the city, thinking that with their present force

they would no longer be able to hinder the wall reaching the sea.


After this the Athenians set up a trophy and restored to the Syracusans

their dead under truce, receiving in return Lamachus and those who

had fallen with him. The whole of their forces, naval and military,

being now with them, they began from Epipolae and the cliffs and enclosed

the Syracusans with a double wall down to the sea. Provisions were

now brought in for the armament from all parts of Italy; and many

of the Sicels, who had hitherto been looking to see how things went,

came as allies to the Athenians: there also arrived three ships of

fifty oars from Tyrrhenia. Meanwhile everything else progressed favourably

for their hopes. The Syracusans began to despair of finding safety

in arms, no relief having reached them from Peloponnese, and were

now proposing terms of capitulation among themselves and to Nicias,

who after the death of Lamachus was left sole commander. No decision

was come to, but, as was natural with men in difficulties and besieged

more straitly than before, there was much discussion with Nicias and

still more in the town. Their present misfortunes had also made them

suspicious of one another; and the blame of their disasters was thrown

upon the ill-fortune or treachery of the generals under whose command

they had happened; and these were deposed and others, Heraclides,

Eucles, and Tellias, elected in their stead.


Meanwhile the Lacedaemonian, Gylippus, and the ships from Corinth

were now off Leucas, intent upon going with all haste to the relief

of Sicily. The reports that reached them being of an alarming kind,

and all agreeing in the falsehood that Syracuse was already completely

invested, Gylippus abandoned all hope of Sicily, and wishing to save

Italy, rapidly crossed the Ionian Sea to Tarentum with the Corinthian,

Pythen, two Laconian, and two Corinthian vessels, leaving the Corinthians

to follow him after manning, in addition to their own ten, two Leucadian

and two Ambraciot ships. From Tarentum Gylippus first went on an embassy

to Thurii, and claimed anew the rights of citizenship which his father

had enjoyed; failing to bring over the townspeople, he weighed anchor

and coasted along Italy. Opposite the Terinaean Gulf he was caught

by the wind which blows violently and steadily from the north in that

quarter, and was carried out to sea; and after experiencing very rough

weather, remade Tarentum, where he hauled ashore and refitted such

of his ships as had suffered most from the tempest. Nicias heard of

his approach, but, like the Thurians, despised the scanty number of

his ships, and set down piracy as the only probable object of the

voyage, and so took no precautions for the present.


About the same time in this summer, the Lacedaemonians invaded Argos

with their allies, and laid waste most of the country. The Athenians

went with thirty ships to the relief of the Argives, thus breaking

their treaty with the Lacedaemonians in the most overt manner. Up

to this time incursions from Pylos, descents on the coast of the rest

of Peloponnese, instead of on the Laconian, had been the extent of

their co-operation with the Argives and Mantineans; and although the

Argives had often begged them to land, if only for a moment, with

their heavy infantry in Laconia, lay waste ever so little of it with

them, and depart, they had always refused to do so. Now, however,

under the command of Phytodorus, Laespodius, and Demaratus, they landed

at Epidaurus Limera, Prasiae, and other places, and plundered the

country; and thus furnished the Lacedaemonians with a better pretext

for hostilities against Athens. After the Athenians had retired from

Argos with their fleet, and the Lacedaemonians also, the Argives made

an incursion into the Phlisaid, and returned home after ravaging their

land and killing some of the inhabitants.






Chapter XXI


Eighteenth and Nineteenth Years of the War – Arrival of Gylippus at

Syracuse – Fortification of Decelea – Successes of the Syracusans


After refitting their ships, Gylippus and Pythen coasted along from

Tarentum to Epizephyrian Locris. They now received the more correct

information that Syracuse was not yet completely invested, but that

it was still possible for an army arriving at Epipolae to effect an

entrance; and they consulted, accordingly, whether they should keep

Sicily on their right and risk sailing in by sea, or, leaving it on

their left, should first sail to Himera and, taking with them the

Himeraeans and any others that might agree to join them, go to Syracuse

by land. Finally they determined to sail for Himera, especially as

the four Athenian ships which Nicias had at length sent off, on hearing

that they were at Locris, had not yet arrived at Rhegium. Accordingly,

before these reached their post, the Peloponnesians crossed the strait

and, after touching at Rhegium and Messina, came to Himera. Arrived

there, they persuaded the Himeraeans to join in the war, and not only

to go with them themselves but to provide arms for the seamen from

their vessels which they had drawn ashore at Himera; and they sent

and appointed a place for the Selinuntines to meet them with all their

forces. A few troops were also promised by the Geloans and some of

the Sicels, who were now ready to join them with much greater alacrity,

owing to the recent death of Archonidas, a powerful Sicel king in

that neighbourhood and friendly to Athens, and owing also to the vigour

shown by Gylippus in coming from Lacedaemon. Gylippus now took with

him about seven hundred of his sailors and marines, that number only

having arms, a thousand heavy infantry and light troops from Himera

with a body of a hundred horse, some light troops and cavalry from

Selinus, a few Geloans, and Sicels numbering a thousand in all, and

set out on his march for Syracuse.


Meanwhile the Corinthian fleet from Leucas made all haste to arrive;

and one of their commanders, Gongylus, starting last with a single

ship, was the first to reach Syracuse, a little before Gylippus. Gongylus

found the Syracusans on the point of holding an assembly to consider

whether they should put an end to the war. This he prevented, and

reassured them by telling them that more vessels were still to arrive,

and that Gylippus, son of Cleandridas, had been dispatched by the

Lacedaemonians to take the command. Upon this the Syracusans took

courage, and immediately marched out with all their forces to meet

Gylippus, who they found was now close at hand. Meanwhile Gylippus,

after taking Ietae, a fort of the Sicels, on his way, formed his army

in order of battle, and so arrived at Epipolae, and ascending by Euryelus,

as the Athenians had done at first, now advanced with the Syracusans

against the Athenian lines. His arrival chanced at a critical moment.

The Athenians had already finished a double wall of six or seven furlongs

to the great harbour, with the exception of a small portion next the

sea, which they were still engaged upon; and in the remainder of the

circle towards Trogilus on the other sea, stones had been laid ready

for building for the greater part of the distance, and some points

had been left half finished, while others were entirely completed.

The danger of Syracuse had indeed been great.


Meanwhile the Athenians, recovering from the confusion into which

they had been first thrown by the sudden approach of Gylippus and

the Syracusans, formed in order of battle. Gylippus halted at a short

distance off and sent on a herald to tell them that, if they would

evacuate Sicily with bag and baggage within five days’ time, he was

willing to make a truce accordingly. The Athenians treated this proposition

with contempt, and dismissed the herald without an answer. After this

both sides began to prepare for action. Gylippus, observing that the

Syracusans were in disorder and did not easily fall into line, drew

off his troops more into the open ground, while Nicias did not lead

on the Athenians but lay still by his own wall. When Gylippus saw

that they did not come on, he led off his army to the citadel of the

quarter of Apollo Temenites, and passed the night there. On the following

day he led out the main body of his army, and, drawing them up in

order of battle before the walls of the Athenians to prevent their

going to the relief of any other quarter, dispatched a strong force

against Fort Labdalum, and took it, and put all whom he found in it

to the sword, the place not being within sight of the Athenians. On

the same day an Athenian galley that lay moored off the harbour was

captured by the Syracusans.


After this the Syracusans and their allies began to carry a single

wall, starting from the city, in a slanting direction up Epipolae,

in order that the Athenians, unless they could hinder the work, might

be no longer able to invest them. Meanwhile the Athenians, having

now finished their wall down to the sea, had come up to the heights;

and part of their wall being weak, Gylippus drew out his army by night

and attacked it. However, the Athenians who happened to be bivouacking

outside took the alarm and came out to meet him, upon seeing which

he quickly led his men back again. The Athenians now built their wall

higher, and in future kept guard at this point themselves, disposing

their confederates along the remainder of the works, at the stations

assigned to them. Nicias also determined to fortify Plemmyrium, a

promontory over against the city, which juts out and narrows the mouth

of the Great Harbour. He thought that the fortification of this place

would make it easier to bring in supplies, as they would be able to

carry on their blockade from a less distance, near to the port occupied

by the Syracusans; instead of being obliged, upon every movement of

the enemy’s navy, to put out against them from the bottom of the great

harbour. Besides this, he now began to pay more attention to the war

by sea, seeing that the coming of Gylippus had diminished their hopes

by land. Accordingly, he conveyed over his ships and some troops,

and built three forts in which he placed most of his baggage, and

moored there for the future the larger craft and men-of-war. This

was the first and chief occasion of the losses which the crews experienced.

The water which they used was scarce and had to be fetched from far,

and the sailors could not go out for firewood without being cut off

by the Syracusan horse, who were masters of the country; a third of

the enemy’s cavalry being stationed at the little town of Olympieum,

to prevent plundering incursions on the part of the Athenians at Plemmyrium.

Meanwhile Nicias learned that the rest of the Corinthian fleet was

approaching, and sent twenty ships to watch for them, with orders

to be on the look-out for them about Locris and Rhegium and the approach

to Sicily.


Gylippus, meanwhile, went on with the wall across Epipolae, using

the stones which the Athenians had laid down for their own wall, and

at the same time constantly led out the Syracusans and their allies,

and formed them in order of battle in front of the lines, the Athenians

forming against him. At last he thought that the moment was come,

and began the attack; and a hand-to-hand fight ensued between the

lines, where the Syracusan cavalry could be of no use; and the Syracusans

and their allies were defeated and took up their dead under truce,

while the Athenians erected a trophy. After this Gylippus called the

soldiers together, and said that the fault was not theirs but his;

he had kept their lines too much within the works, and had thus deprived

them of the services of their cavalry and darters. He would now, therefore,

lead them on a second time. He begged them to remember that in material

force they would be fully a match for their opponents, while, with

respect to moral advantages, it were intolerable if Peloponnesians

and Dorians should not feel confident of overcoming Ionians and islanders

with the motley rabble that accompanied them, and of driving them

out of the country.


After this he embraced the first opportunity that offered of again

leading them against the enemy. Now Nicias and the Athenians held

the opinion that even if the Syracusans should not wish to offer battle,

it was necessary for them to prevent the building of the cross wall,

as it already almost overlapped the extreme point of their own, and

if it went any further it would from that moment make no difference

whether they fought ever so many successful actions, or never fought

at all. They accordingly came out to meet the Syracusans. Gylippus

led out his heavy infantry further from the fortifications than on

the former occasion, and so joined battle; posting his horse and darters

upon the flank of the Athenians in the open space, where the works

of the two walls terminated. During the engagement the cavalry attacked

and routed the left wing of the Athenians, which was opposed to them;

and the rest of the Athenian army was in consequence defeated by the

Syracusans and driven headlong within their lines. The night following

the Syracusans carried their wall up to the At