The Second Book

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

  1. 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

  1. 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

  1. 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

  1. 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

  1. 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.