The Third Book

Chapter IX

Fourth and Fifth Years of the War – Revolt of Mitylene


The next summer, just as the corn was getting ripe, the Peloponnesians

and their allies invaded Attica under the command of Archidamus, son

of Zeuxidamus, king of the Lacedaemonians, and sat down and ravaged

the land; the Athenian horse as usual attacking them, wherever it

was practicable, and preventing the mass of the light troops from

advancing from their camp and wasting the parts near the city. After

staying the time for which they had taken provisions, the invaders

retired and dispersed to their several cities.


Immediately after the invasion of the Peloponnesians all Lesbos, except

Methymna, revolted from the Athenians. The Lesbians had wished to

revolt even before the war, but the Lacedaemonians would not receive

them; and yet now when they did revolt, they were compelled to do

so sooner than they had intended. While they were waiting until the

moles for their harbours and the ships and walls that they had in

building should be finished, and for the arrival of archers and corn

and other things that they were engaged in fetching from the Pontus,

the Tenedians, with whom they were at enmity, and the Methymnians,

and some factious persons in Mitylene itself, who were proxeni of

Athens, informed the Athenians that the Mitylenians were forcibly

uniting the island under their sovereignty, and that the preparations

about which they were so active, were all concerted with the Boeotians

their kindred and the Lacedaemonians with a view to a revolt, and

that, unless they were immediately prevented, Athens would lose Lesbos.


However, the Athenians, distressed by the plague, and by the war that

had recently broken out and was now raging, thought it a serious matter

to add Lesbos with its fleet and untouched resources to the list of

their enemies; and at first would not believe the charge, giving too

much weight to their wish that it might not be true. But when an embassy

which they sent had failed to persuade the Mitylenians to give up

the union and preparations complained of, they became alarmed, and

resolved to strike the first blow. They accordingly suddenly sent

off forty ships that had been got ready to sail round Peloponnese,

under the command of Cleippides, son of Deinias, and two others; word

having been brought them of a festival in honour of the Malean Apollo

outside the town, which is kept by the whole people of Mitylene, and

at which, if haste were made, they might hope to take them by surprise.

If this plan succeeded, well and good; if not, they were to order

the Mitylenians to deliver up their ships and to pull down their walls,

and if they did not obey, to declare war. The ships accordingly set

out; the ten galleys, forming the contingent of the Mitylenians present

with the fleet according to the terms of the alliance, being detained

by the Athenians, and their crews placed in custody. However, the

Mitylenians were informed of the expedition by a man who crossed from

Athens to Euboea, and going overland to Geraestus, sailed from thence

by a merchantman which he found on the point of putting to sea, and

so arrived at Mitylene the third day after leaving Athens. The Mitylenians

accordingly refrained from going out to the temple at Malea, and moreover

barricaded and kept guard round the half-finished parts of their walls

and harbours.


When the Athenians sailed in not long after and saw how things stood,

the generals delivered their orders, and upon the Mitylenians refusing

to obey, commenced hostilities. The Mitylenians, thus compelled to

go to war without notice and unprepared, at first sailed out with

their fleet and made some show of fighting, a little in front of the

harbour; but being driven back by the Athenian ships, immediately

offered to treat with the commanders, wishing, if possible, to get

the ships away for the present upon any tolerable terms. The Athenian

commanders accepted their offers, being themselves fearful that they

might not be able to cope with the whole of Lesbos; and an armistice

having been concluded, the Mitylenians sent to Athens one of the informers,

already repentant of his conduct, and others with him, to try to persuade

the Athenians of the innocence of their intentions and to get the

fleet recalled. In the meantime, having no great hope of a favourable

answer from Athens, they also sent off a galley with envoys to Lacedaemon,

unobserved by the Athenian fleet which was anchored at Malea to the

north of the town.


While these envoys, reaching Lacedaemon after a difficult journey

across the open sea, were negotiating for succours being sent them,

the ambassadors from Athens returned without having effected anything;

and hostilities were at once begun by the Mitylenians and the rest

of Lesbos, with the exception of the Methymnians, who came to the

aid of the Athenians with the Imbrians and Lemnians and some few of

the other allies. The Mitylenians made a sortie with all their forces

against the Athenian camp; and a battle ensued, in which they gained

some slight advantage, but retired notwithstanding, not feeling sufficient

confidence in themselves to spend the night upon the field. After

this they kept quiet, wishing to wait for the chance of reinforcements

arriving from Peloponnese before making a second venture, being encouraged

by the arrival of Meleas, a Laconian, and Hermaeondas, a Theban, who

had been sent off before the insurrection but had been unable to reach

Lesbos before the Athenian expedition, and who now stole in in a galley

after the battle, and advised them to send another galley and envoys

back with them, which the Mitylenians accordingly did.


Meanwhile the Athenians, greatly encouraged by the inaction of the

Mitylenians, summoned allies to their aid, who came in all the quicker

from seeing so little vigour displayed by the Lesbians, and bringing

round their ships to a new station to the south of the town, fortified

two camps, one on each side of the city, and instituted a blockade

of both the harbours. The sea was thus closed against the Mitylenians,

who, however, commanded the whole country, with the rest of the Lesbians

who had now joined them; the Athenians only holding a limited area

round their camps, and using Malea more as the station for their ships

and their market.


While the war went on in this way at Mitylene, the Athenians, about

the same time in this summer, also sent thirty ships to Peloponnese

under Asopius, son of Phormio; the Acarnanians insisting that the

commander sent should be some son or relative of Phormio. As the ships

coasted along shore they ravaged the seaboard of Laconia; after which

Asopius sent most of the fleet home, and himself went on with twelve

vessels to Naupactus, and afterwards raising the whole Acarnanian

population made an expedition against Oeniadae, the fleet sailing

along the Achelous, while the army laid waste the country. The inhabitants,

however, showing no signs of submitting, he dismissed the land forces

and himself sailed to Leucas, and making a descent upon Nericus was

cut off during his retreat, and most of his troops with him, by the

people in those parts aided by some coastguards; after which the Athenians

sailed away, recovering their dead from the Leucadians under truce.


Meanwhile the envoys of the Mitylenians sent out in the first ship

were told by the Lacedaemonians to come to Olympia, in order that

the rest of the allies might hear them and decide upon their matter,

and so they journeyed thither. It was the Olympiad in which the Rhodian

Dorieus gained his second victory, and the envoys having been introduced

to make their speech after the festival, spoke as follows:


«Lacedaemonians and allies, the rule established among the Hellenes

is not unknown to us. Those who revolt in war and forsake their former

confederacy are favourably regarded by those who receive them, in

so far as they are of use to them, but otherwise are thought less

well of, through being considered traitors to their former friends.

Nor is this an unfair way of judging, where the rebels and the power

from whom they secede are at one in policy and sympathy, and a match

for each other in resources and power, and where no reasonable ground

exists for the rebellion. But with us and the Athenians this was not

the case; and no one need think the worse of us for revolting from

them in danger, after having been honoured by them in time of peace.


«Justice and honesty will be the first topics of our speech, especially

as we are asking for alliance; because we know that there can never

be any solid friendship between individuals, or union between communities

that is worth the name, unless the parties be persuaded of each other’s

honesty, and be generally congenial the one to the other; since from

difference in feeling springs also difference in conduct. Between

ourselves and the Athenians alliance began, when you withdrew from

the Median War and they remained to finish the business. But we did

not become allies of the Athenians for the subjugation of the Hellenes,

but allies of the Hellenes for their liberation from the Mede; and

as long as the Athenians led us fairly we followed them loyally; but

when we saw them relax their hostility to the Mede, to try to compass

the subjection of the allies, then our apprehensions began. Unable,

however, to unite and defend themselves, on account of the number

of confederates that had votes, all the allies were enslaved, except

ourselves and the Chians, who continued to send our contingents as

independent and nominally free. Trust in Athens as a leader, however,

we could no longer feel, judging by the examples already given; it

being unlikely that she would reduce our fellow confederates, and

not do the same by us who were left, if ever she had the power.


«Had we all been still independent, we could have had more faith in

their not attempting any change; but the greater number being their

subjects, while they were treating us as equals, they would naturally

chafe under this solitary instance of independence as contrasted with

the submission of the majority; particularly as they daily grew more

powerful, and we more destitute. Now the only sure basis of an alliance

is for each party to be equally afraid of the other; he who would

like to encroach is then deterred by the reflection that he will not

have odds in his favour. Again, if we were left independent, it was

only because they thought they saw their way to empire more clearly

by specious language and by the paths of policy than by those of force.

Not only were we useful as evidence that powers who had votes, like

themselves, would not, surely, join them in their expeditions, against

their will, without the party attacked being in the wrong; but the

same system also enabled them to lead the stronger states against

the weaker first, and so to leave the former to the last, stripped

of their natural allies, and less capable of resistance. But if they

had begun with us, while all the states still had their resources

under their own control, and there was a centre to rally round, the

work of subjugation would have been found less easy. Besides this,

our navy gave them some apprehension: it was always possible that

it might unite with you or with some other power, and become dangerous

to Athens. The court which we paid to their commons and its leaders

for the time being also helped us to maintain our independence. However,

we did not expect to be able to do so much longer, if this war had

not broken out, from the examples that we had had of their conduct

to the rest.


«How then could we put our trust in such friendship or freedom as

we had here? We accepted each other against our inclination; fear

made them court us in war, and us them in peace; sympathy, the ordinary

basis of confidence, had its place supplied by terror, fear having

more share than friendship in detaining us in the alliance; and the

first party that should be encouraged by the hope of impunity was

certain to break faith with the other. So that to condemn us for being

the first to break off, because they delay the blow that we dread,

instead of ourselves delaying to know for certain whether it will

be dealt or not, is to take a false view of the case. For if we were

equally able with them to meet their plots and imitate their delay,

we should be their equals and should be under no necessity of being

their subjects; but the liberty of offence being always theirs, that

of defence ought clearly to be ours.


«Such, Lacedaemonians and allies, are the grounds and the reasons

of our revolt; clear enough to convince our hearers of the fairness

of our conduct, and sufficient to alarm ourselves, and to make us

turn to some means of safety. This we wished to do long ago, when

we sent to you on the subject while the peace yet lasted, but were

balked by your refusing to receive us; and now, upon the Boeotians

inviting us, we at once responded to the call, and decided upon a

twofold revolt, from the Hellenes and from the Athenians, not to aid

the latter in harming the former, but to join in their liberation,

and not to allow the Athenians in the end to destroy us, but to act

in time against them. Our revolt, however, has taken place prematurely

and without preparation- a fact which makes it all the more incumbent

on you to receive us into alliance and to send us speedy relief, in

order to show that you support your friends, and at the same time

do harm to your enemies. You have an opportunity such as you never

had before. Disease and expenditure have wasted the Athenians: their

ships are either cruising round your coasts, or engaged in blockading

us; and it is not probable that they will have any to spare, if you

invade them a second time this summer by sea and land; but they will

either offer no resistance to your vessels, or withdraw from both

our shores. Nor must it be thought that this is a case of putting

yourselves into danger for a country which is not yours. Lesbos may

appear far off, but when help is wanted she will be found near enough.

It is not in Attica that the war will be decided, as some imagine,

but in the countries by which Attica is supported; and the Athenian

revenue is drawn from the allies, and will become still larger if

they reduce us; as not only will no other state revolt, but our resources

will be added to theirs, and we shall be treated worse than those

that were enslaved before. But if you will frankly support us, you

will add to your side a state that has a large navy, which is your

great want; you will smooth the way to the overthrow of the Athenians

by depriving them of their allies, who will be greatly encouraged

to come over; and you will free yourselves from the imputation made

against you, of not supporting insurrection. In short, only show yourselves

as liberators, and you may count upon having the advantage in the



«Respect, therefore, the hopes placed in you by the Hellenes, and

that Olympian Zeus, in whose temple we stand as very suppliants; become

the allies and defenders of the Mitylenians, and do not sacrifice

us, who put our lives upon the hazard, in a cause in which general

good will result to all from our success, and still more general harm

if we fail through your refusing to help us; but be the men that the

Hellenes think you, and our fears desire.»


Such were the words of the Mitylenians. After hearing them out, the

Lacedaemonians and confederates granted what they urged, and took

the Lesbians into alliance, and deciding in favour of the invasion

of Attica, told the allies present to march as quickly as possible

to the Isthmus with two-thirds of their forces; and arriving there

first themselves, got ready hauling machines to carry their ships

across from Corinth to the sea on the side of Athens, in order to

make their attack by sea and land at once. However, the zeal which

they displayed was not imitated by the rest of the confederates, who

came in but slowly, being engaged in harvesting their corn and sick

of making expeditions.


Meanwhile the Athenians, aware that the preparations of the enemy

were due to his conviction of their weakness, and wishing to show

him that he was mistaken, and that they were able, without moving

the Lesbian fleet, to repel with ease that with which they were menaced

from Peloponnese, manned a hundred ships by embarking the citizens

of Athens, except the knights and Pentacosiomedimni, and the resident

aliens; and putting out to the Isthmus, displayed their power, and

made descents upon Peloponnese wherever they pleased. A disappointment

so signal made the Lacedaemonians think that the Lesbians had not

spoken the truth; and embarrassed by the non-appearance of the confederates,

coupled with the news that the thirty ships round Peloponnese were

ravaging the lands near Sparta, they went back home. Afterwards, however,

they got ready a fleet to send to Lesbos, and ordering a total of

forty ships from the different cities in the league, appointed Alcidas

to command the expedition in his capacity of high admiral. Meanwhile

the Athenians in the hundred ships, upon seeing the Lacedaemonians

go home, went home likewise.


If, at the time that this fleet was at sea, Athens had almost the

largest number of first-rate ships in commission that she ever possessed

at any one moment, she had as many or even more when the war began.

At that time one hundred guarded Attica, Euboea, and Salamis; a hundred

more were cruising round Peloponnese, besides those employed at Potidaea

and in other places; making a grand total of two hundred and fifty

vessels employed on active service in a single summer. It was this,

with Potidaea, that most exhausted her revenues- Potidaea being blockaded

by a force of heavy infantry (each drawing two drachmae a day, one

for himself and another for his servant), which amounted to three

thousand at first, and was kept at this number down to the end of

the siege; besides sixteen hundred with Phormio who went away before

it was over; and the ships being all paid at the same rate. In this

way her money was wasted at first; and this was the largest number

of ships ever manned by her.


About the same time that the Lacedaemonians were at the Isthmus, the

Mitylenians marched by land with their mercenaries against Methymna,

which they thought to gain by treachery. After assaulting the town,

and not meeting with the success that they anticipated, they withdrew

to Antissa, Pyrrha, and Eresus; and taking measures for the better

security of these towns and strengthening their walls, hastily returned

home. After their departure the Methymnians marched against Antissa,

but were defeated in a sortie by the Antissians and their mercenaries,

and retreated in haste after losing many of their number. Word of

this reaching Athens, and the Athenians learning that the Mitylenians

were masters of the country and their own soldiers unable to hold

them in check, they sent out about the beginning of autumn Paches,

son of Epicurus, to take the command, and a thousand Athenian heavy

infantry; who worked their own passage and, arriving at Mitylene,

built a single wall all round it, forts being erected at some of the

strongest points. Mitylene was thus blockaded strictly on both sides,

by land and by sea; and winter now drew near.


The Athenians needing money for the siege, although they had for the

first time raised a contribution of two hundred talents from their

own citizens, now sent out twelve ships to levy subsidies from their

allies, with Lysicles and four others in command. After cruising to

different places and laying them under contribution, Lysicles went

up the country from Myus, in Caria, across the plain of the Meander,

as far as the hill of Sandius; and being attacked by the Carians and

the people of Anaia, was slain with many of his soldiers.


The same winter the Plataeans, who were still being besieged by the

Peloponnesians and Boeotians, distressed by the failure of their provisions,

and seeing no hope of relief from Athens, nor any other means of safety,

formed a scheme with the Athenians besieged with them for escaping,

if possible, by forcing their way over the enemy’s walls; the attempt

having been suggested by Theaenetus, son of Tolmides, a soothsayer,

and Eupompides, son of Daimachus, one of their generals. At first

all were to join: afterwards, half hung back, thinking the risk great;

about two hundred and twenty, however, voluntarily persevered in the

attempt, which was carried out in the following way. Ladders were

made to match the height of the enemy’s wall, which they measured

by the layers of bricks, the side turned towards them not being thoroughly

whitewashed. These were counted by many persons at once; and though

some might miss the right calculation, most would hit upon it, particularly

as they counted over and over again, and were no great way from the

wall, but could see it easily enough for their purpose. The length

required for the ladders was thus obtained, being calculated from

the breadth of the brick.


Now the wall of the Peloponnesians was constructed as follows. It

consisted of two lines drawn round the place, one against the Plataeans,

the other against any attack on the outside from Athens, about sixteen

feet apart. The intermediate space of sixteen feet was occupied by

huts portioned out among the soldiers on guard, and built in one block,

so as to give the appearance of a single thick wall with battlements

on either side. At intervals of every ten battlements were towers

of considerable size, and the same breadth as the wall, reaching right

across from its inner to its outer face, with no means of passing

except through the middle. Accordingly on stormy and wet nights the

battlements were deserted, and guard kept from the towers, which were

not far apart and roofed in above.


Such being the structure of the wall by which the Plataeans were blockaded,

when their preparations were completed, they waited for a stormy night

of wind and rain and without any moon, and then set out, guided by

the authors of the enterprise. Crossing first the ditch that ran round

the town, they next gained the wall of the enemy unperceived by the

sentinels, who did not see them in the darkness, or hear them, as

the wind drowned with its roar the noise of their approach; besides

which they kept a good way off from each other, that they might not

be betrayed by the clash of their weapons. They were also lightly

equipped, and had only the left foot shod to preserve them from slipping

in the mire. They came up to the battlements at one of the intermediate

spaces where they knew them to be unguarded: those who carried the

ladders went first and planted them; next twelve light-armed soldiers

with only a dagger and a breastplate mounted, led by Ammias, son of

Coroebus, who was the first on the wall; his followers getting up

after him and going six to each of the towers. After these came another

party of light troops armed with spears, whose shields, that they

might advance the easier, were carried by men behind, who were to

hand them to them when they found themselves in presence of the enemy.

After a good many had mounted they were discovered by the sentinels

in the towers, by the noise made by a tile which was knocked down

by one of the Plataeans as he was laying hold of the battlements.

The alarm was instantly given, and the troops rushed to the wall,

not knowing the nature of the danger, owing to the dark night and

stormy weather; the Plataeans in the town having also chosen that

moment to make a sortie against the wall of the Peloponnesians upon

the side opposite to that on which their men were getting over, in

order to divert the attention of the besiegers. Accordingly they remained

distracted at their several posts, without any venturing to stir to

give help from his own station, and at a loss to guess what was going

  1. Meanwhile the three hundred set aside for service on emergencies

went outside the wall in the direction of the alarm. Fire-signals

of an attack were also raised towards Thebes; but the Plataeans in

the town at once displayed a number of others, prepared beforehand

for this very purpose, in order to render the enemy’s signals unintelligible,

and to prevent his friends getting a true idea of what was passing

and coming to his aid before their comrades who had gone out should

have made good their escape and be in safety.


Meanwhile the first of the scaling party that had got up, after carrying

both the towers and putting the sentinels to the sword, posted themselves

inside to prevent any one coming through against them; and rearing

ladders from the wall, sent several men up on the towers, and from

their summit and base kept in check all of the enemy that came up,

with their missiles, while their main body planted a number of ladders

against the wall, and knocking down the battlements, passed over between

the towers; each as soon as he had got over taking up his station

at the edge of the ditch, and plying from thence with arrows and darts

any who came along the wall to stop the passage of his comrades. When

all were over, the party on the towers came down, the last of them

not without difficulty, and proceeded to the ditch, just as the three

hundred came up carrying torches. The Plataeans, standing on the edge

of the ditch in the dark, had a good view of their opponents, and

discharged their arrows and darts upon the unarmed parts of their

bodies, while they themselves could not be so well seen in the obscurity

for the torches; and thus even the last of them got over the ditch,

though not without effort and difficulty; as ice had formed in it,

not strong enough to walk upon, but of that watery kind which generally

comes with a wind more east than north, and the snow which this wind

had caused to fall during the night had made the water in the ditch

rise, so. that they could scarcely breast it as they crossed. However,

it was mainly the violence of the storm that enabled them to effect

their escape at all.


Starting from the ditch, the Plataeans went all together along the

road leading to Thebes, keeping the chapel of the hero Androcrates

upon their right; considering that the last road which the Peloponnesians

would suspect them of having taken would be that towards their enemies’

country. Indeed they could see them pursuing with torches upon the

Athens road towards Cithaeron and Druoskephalai or Oakheads. After

going for rather more than half a mile upon the road to Thebes, the

Plataeans turned off and took that leading to the mountain, to Erythrae

and Hysiae, and reaching the hills, made good their escape to Athens,

two hundred and twelve men in all; some of their number having turned

back into the town before getting over the wall, and one archer having

been taken prisoner at the outer ditch. Meanwhile the Peloponnesians

gave up the pursuit and returned to their posts; and the Plataeans

in the town, knowing nothing of what had passed, and informed by those

who had turned back that not a man had escaped, sent out a herald

as soon as it was day to make a truce for the recovery of the dead

bodies, and then, learning the truth, desisted. In this way the Plataean

party got over and were saved.


Towards the close of the same winter, Salaethus, a Lacedaemonian,

was sent out in a galley from Lacedaemon to Mitylene. Going by sea

to Pyrrha, and from thence overland, he passed along the bed of a

torrent, where the line of circumvallation was passable, and thus

entering unperceived into Mitylene told the magistrates that Attica

would certainly be invaded, and the forty ships destined to relieve

them arrive, and that he had been sent on to announce this and to

superintend matters generally. The Mitylenians upon this took courage,

and laid aside the idea of treating with the Athenians; and now this

winter ended, and with it ended the fourth year of the war of which

Thucydides was the historian.


The next summer the Peloponnesians sent off the forty-two ships for

Mitylene, under Alcidas, their high admiral, and themselves and their

allies invaded Attica, their object being to distract the Athenians

by a double movement, and thus to make it less easy for them to act

against the fleet sailing to Mitylene. The commander in this invasion

was Cleomenes, in the place of King Pausanias, son of Pleistoanax,

his nephew, who was still a minor. Not content with laying waste whatever

had shot up in the parts which they had before devastated, the invaders

now extended their ravages to lands passed over in their previous

incursions; so that this invasion was more severely felt by the Athenians

than any except the second; the enemy staying on and on until they

had overrun most of the country, in the expectation of hearing from

Lesbos of something having been achieved by their fleet, which they

thought must now have got over. However, as they did not obtain any

of the results expected, and their provisions began to run short,

they retreated and dispersed to their different cities.


In the meantime the Mitylenians, finding their provisions failing,

while the fleet from Peloponnese was loitering on the way instead

of appearing at Mitylene, were compelled to come to terms with the

Athenians in the following manner. Salaethus having himself ceased

to expect the fleet to arrive, now armed the commons with heavy armour,

which they had not before possessed, with the intention of making

a sortie against the Athenians. The commons, however, no sooner found

themselves possessed of arms than they refused any longer to obey

their officers; and forming in knots together, told the authorities

to bring out in public the provisions and divide them amongst them

all, or they would themselves come to terms with the Athenians and

deliver up the city.


The government, aware of their inability to prevent this, and of the

danger they would be in, if left out of the capitulation, publicly

agreed with Paches and the army to surrender Mitylene at discretion

and to admit the troops into the town; upon the understanding that

the Mitylenians should be allowed to send an embassy to Athens to

plead their cause, and that Paches should not imprison, make slaves

of, or put to death any of the citizens until its return. Such were

the terms of the capitulation; in spite of which the chief authors

of the negotiation with Lacedaemon were so completely overcome by

terror when the army entered that they went and seated themselves

by the altars, from which they were raised up by Paches under promise

that he would do them no wrong, and lodged by him in Tenedos, until

he should learn the pleasure of the Athenians concerning them. Paches

also sent some galleys and seized Antissa, and took such other military

measures as he thought advisable.


Meanwhile the Peloponnesians in the forty ships, who ought to have

made all haste to relieve Mitylene, lost time in coming round Peloponnese

itself, and proceeding leisurely on the remainder of the voyage, made

Delos without having been seen by the Athenians at Athens, and from

thence arriving at Icarus and Myconus, there first heard of the fall

of Mitylene. Wishing to know the truth, they put into Embatum, in

the Erythraeid, about seven days after the capture of the town. Here

they learned the truth, and began to consider what they were to do;

and Teutiaplus, an Elean, addressed them as follows:


«Alcidas and Peloponnesians who share with me the command of this

armament, my advice is to sail just as we are to Mitylene, before

we have been heard of. We may expect to find the Athenians as much

off their guard as men generally are who have just taken a city: this

will certainly be so by sea, where they have no idea of any enemy

attacking them, and where our strength, as it happens, mainly lies;

while even their land forces are probably scattered about the houses

in the carelessness of victory. If therefore we were to fall upon

them suddenly and in the night, I have hopes, with the help of the

well-wishers that we may have left inside the town, that we shall

become masters of the place. Let us not shrink from the risk, but

let us remember that this is just the occasion for one of the baseless

panics common in war: and that to be able to guard against these in

one’s own case, and to detect the moment when an attack will find

an enemy at this disadvantage, is what makes a successful general.»


These words of Teutiaplus failing to move Alcidas, some of the Ionian

exiles and the Lesbians with the expedition began to urge him, since

this seemed too dangerous, to seize one of the Ionian cities or the

Aeolic town of Cyme, to use as a base for effecting the revolt of

Ionia. This was by no means a hopeless enterprise, as their coming

was welcome everywhere; their object would be by this move to deprive

Athens of her chief source of revenue, and at the same time to saddle

her with expense, if she chose to blockade them; and they would probably

induce Pissuthnes to join them in the war. However, Alcidas gave this

proposal as bad a reception as the other, being eager, since he had

come too late for Mitylene, to find himself back in Peloponnese as

soon as possible.


Accordingly he put out from Embatum and proceeded along shore; and

touching at the Teian town, Myonnesus, there butchered most of the

prisoners that he had taken on his passage. Upon his coming to anchor

at Ephesus, envoys came to him from the Samians at Anaia, and told

him that he was not going the right way to free Hellas in massacring

men who had never raised a hand against him, and who were not enemies

of his, but allies of Athens against their will, and that if he did

not stop he would turn many more friends into enemies than enemies

into friends. Alcidas agreed to this, and let go all the Chians still

in his hands and some of the others that he had taken; the inhabitants,

instead of flying at the sight of his vessels, rather coming up to

them, taking them for Athenian, having no sort of expectation that

while the Athenians commanded the sea Peloponnesian ships would venture

over to Ionia.


From Ephesus Alcidas set sail in haste and fled. He had been seen

by the Salaminian and Paralian galleys, which happened to be sailing

from Athens, while still at anchor off Clarus; and fearing pursuit

he now made across the open sea, fully determined to touch nowhere,

if he could help it, until he got to Peloponnese. Meanwhile news of

him had come in to Paches from the Erythraeid, and indeed from all

quarters. As Ionia was unfortified, great fears were felt that the

Peloponnesians coasting along shore, even if they did not intend to

stay, might make descents in passing and plunder the towns; and now

the Paralian and Salaminian, having seen him at Clarus, themselves

brought intelligence of the fact. Paches accordingly gave hot chase,

and continued the pursuit as far as the isle of Patmos, and then finding

that Alcidas had got on too far to be overtaken, came back again.

Meanwhile he thought it fortunate that, as he had not fallen in with

them out at sea, he had not overtaken them anywhere where they would

have been forced to encamp, and so give him the trouble of blockading



On his return along shore he touched, among other places, at Notium,

the port of Colophon, where the Colophonians had settled after the

capture of the upper town by Itamenes and the barbarians, who had

been called in by certain individuals in a party quarrel. The capture

of the town took place about the time of the second Peloponnesian

invasion of Attica. However, the refugees, after settling at Notium,

again split up into factions, one of which called in Arcadian and

barbarian mercenaries from Pissuthnes and, entrenching these in a

quarter apart, formed a new community with the Median party of the

Colophonians who joined them from the upper town. Their opponents

had retired into exile, and now called in Paches, who invited Hippias,

the commander of the Arcadians in the fortified quarter, to a parley,

upon condition that, if they could not agree, he was to be put back

safe and sound in the fortification. However, upon his coming out

to him, he put him into custody, though not in chains, and attacked

suddenly and took by surprise the fortification, and putting the Arcadians

and the barbarians found in it to the sword, afterwards took Hippias

into it as he had promised, and, as soon as he was inside, seized

him and shot him down. Paches then gave up Notium to the Colophonians

not of the Median party; and settlers were afterwards sent out from

Athens, and the place colonized according to Athenian laws, after

collecting all the Colophonians found in any of the cities.


Arrived at Mitylene, Paches reduced Pyrrha and Eresus; and finding

the Lacedaemonian, Salaethus, in hiding in the town, sent him off

to Athens, together with the Mitylenians that he had placed in Tenedos,

and any other persons that he thought concerned in the revolt. He

also sent back the greater part of his forces, remaining with the

rest to settle Mitylene and the rest of Lesbos as he thought best.


Upon the arrival of the prisoners with Salaethus, the Athenians at

once put the latter to death, although he offered, among other things,

to procure the withdrawal of the Peloponnesians from Plataea, which

was still under siege; and after deliberating as to what they should

do with the former, in the fury of the moment determined to put to

death not only the prisoners at Athens, but the whole adult male population

of Mitylene, and to make slaves of the women and children. It was

remarked that Mitylene had revolted without being, like the rest,

subjected to the empire; and what above all swelled the wrath of the

Athenians was the fact of the Peloponnesian fleet having ventured

over to Ionia to her support, a fact which was held to argue a long

meditated rebellion. They accordingly sent a galley to communicate

the decree to Paches, commanding him to lose no time in dispatching

the Mitylenians. The morrow brought repentance with it and reflection

on the horrid cruelty of a decree, which condemned a whole city to

the fate merited only by the guilty. This was no sooner perceived

by the Mitylenian ambassadors at Athens and their Athenian supporters,

than they moved the authorities to put the question again to the vote;

which they the more easily consented to do, as they themselves plainly

saw that most of the citizens wished some one to give them an opportunity

for reconsidering the matter. An assembly was therefore at once called,

and after much expression of opinion upon both sides, Cleon, son of

Cleaenetus, the same who had carried the former motion of putting

the Mitylenians to death, the most violent man at Athens, and at that

time by far the most powerful with the commons, came forward again

and spoke as follows:


«I have often before now been convinced that a democracy is incapable

of empire, and never more so than by your present change of mind in

the matter of Mitylene. Fears or plots being unknown to you in your

daily relations with each other, you feel just the same with regard

to your allies, and never reflect that the mistakes into which you

may be led by listening to their appeals, or by giving way to your

own compassion, are full of danger to yourselves, and bring you no

thanks for your weakness from your allies; entirely forgetting that

your empire is a despotism and your subjects disaffected conspirators,

whose obedience is ensured not by your suicidal concessions, but by

the superiority given you by your own strength and not their loyalty.

The most alarming feature in the case is the constant change of measures

with which we appear to be threatened, and our seeming ignorance of

the fact that bad laws which are never changed are better for a city

than good ones that have no authority; that unlearned loyalty is more

serviceable than quick-witted insubordination; and that ordinary men

usually manage public affairs better than their more gifted fellows.

The latter are always wanting to appear wiser than the laws, and to

overrule every proposition brought forward, thinking that they cannot

show their wit in more important matters, and by such behaviour too

often ruin their country; while those who mistrust their own cleverness

are content to be less learned than the laws, and less able to pick

holes in the speech of a good speaker; and being fair judges rather

than rival athletes, generally conduct affairs successfully. These

we ought to imitate, instead of being led on by cleverness and intellectual

rivalry to advise your people against our real opinions.


«For myself, I adhere to my former opinion, and wonder at those who

have proposed to reopen the case of the Mitylenians, and who are thus

causing a delay which is all in favour of the guilty, by making the

sufferer proceed against the offender with the edge of his anger blunted;

although where vengeance follows most closely upon the wrong, it best

equals it and most amply requites it. I wonder also who will be the

man who will maintain the contrary, and will pretend to show that

the crimes of the Mitylenians are of service to us, and our misfortunes

injurious to the allies. Such a man must plainly either have such

confidence in his rhetoric as to adventure to prove that what has

been once for all decided is still undetermined, or be bribed to try

to delude us by elaborate sophisms. In such contests the state gives

the rewards to others, and takes the dangers for herself. The persons

to blame are you who are so foolish as to institute these contests;

who go to see an oration as you would to see a sight, take your facts

on hearsay, judge of the practicability of a project by the wit of

its advocates, and trust for the truth as to past events not to the

fact which you saw more than to the clever strictures which you heard;

the easy victims of new-fangled arguments, unwilling to follow received

conclusions; slaves to every new paradox, despisers of the commonplace;

the first wish of every man being that he could speak himself, the

next to rival those who can speak by seeming to be quite up with their

ideas by applauding every hit almost before it is made, and by being

as quick in catching an argument as you are slow in foreseeing its

consequences; asking, if I may so say, for something different from

the conditions under which we live, and yet comprehending inadequately

those very conditions; very slaves to the pleasure of the ear, and

more like the audience of a rhetorician than the council of a city.


«In order to keep you from this, I proceed to show that no one state

has ever injured you as much as Mitylene. I can make allowance for

those who revolt because they cannot bear our empire, or who have

been forced to do so by the enemy. But for those who possessed an

island with fortifications; who could fear our enemies only by sea,

and there had their own force of galleys to protect them; who were

independent and held in the highest honour by you- to act as these

have done, this is not revolt- revolt implies oppression; it is deliberate

and wanton aggression; an attempt to ruin us by siding with our bitterest

enemies; a worse offence than a war undertaken on their own account

in the acquisition of power. The fate of those of their neighbours

who had already rebelled and had been subdued was no lesson to them;

their own prosperity could not dissuade them from affronting danger;

but blindly confident in the future, and full of hopes beyond their

power though not beyond their ambition, they declared war and made

their decision to prefer might to right, their attack being determined

not by provocation but by the moment which seemed propitious. The

truth is that great good fortune coming suddenly and unexpectedly

tends to make a people insolent; in most cases it is safer for mankind

to have success in reason than out of reason; and it is easier for

them, one may say, to stave off adversity than to preserve prosperity.

Our mistake has been to distinguish the Mitylenians as we have done:

had they been long ago treated like the rest, they never would have

so far forgotten themselves, human nature being as surely made arrogant

by consideration as it is awed by firmness. Let them now therefore

be punished as their crime requires, and do not, while you condemn

the aristocracy, absolve the people. This is certain, that all attacked

you without distinction, although they might have come over to us

and been now again in possession of their city. But no, they thought

it safer to throw in their lot with the aristocracy and so joined

their rebellion! Consider therefore: if you subject to the same punishment

the ally who is forced to rebel by the enemy, and him who does so

by his own free choice, which of them, think you, is there that will

not rebel upon the slightest pretext; when the reward of success is

freedom, and the penalty of failure nothing so very terrible? We meanwhile

shall have to risk our money and our lives against one state after

another; and if successful, shall receive a ruined town from which

we can no longer draw the revenue upon which our strength depends;

while if unsuccessful, we shall have an enemy the more upon our hands,

and shall spend the time that might be employed in combating our existing

foes in warring with our own allies.


«No hope, therefore, that rhetoric may instil or money purchase, of

the mercy due to human infirmity must be held out to the Mitylenians.

Their offence was not involuntary, but of malice and deliberate; and

mercy is only for unwilling offenders. I therefore, now as before,

persist against your reversing your first decision, or giving way

to the three failings most fatal to empire- pity, sentiment, and indulgence.

Compassion is due to those who can reciprocate the feeling, not to

those who will never pity us in return, but are our natural and necessary

foes: the orators who charm us with sentiment may find other less

important arenas for their talents, in the place of one where the

city pays a heavy penalty for a momentary pleasure, themselves receiving

fine acknowledgments for their fine phrases; while indulgence should

be shown towards those who will be our friends in future, instead

of towards men who will remain just what they were, and as much our

enemies as before. To sum up shortly, I say that if you follow my

advice you will do what is just towards the Mitylenians, and at the

same time expedient; while by a different decision you will not oblige

them so much as pass sentence upon yourselves. For if they were right

in rebelling, you must be wrong in ruling. However, if, right or wrong,

you determine to rule, you must carry out your principle and punish

the Mitylenians as your interest requires; or else you must give up

your empire and cultivate honesty without danger. Make up your minds,

therefore, to give them like for like; and do not let the victims

who escaped the plot be more insensible than the conspirators who

hatched it; but reflect what they would have done if victorious over

you, especially they were the aggressors. It is they who wrong their

neighbour without a cause, that pursue their victim to the death,

on account of the danger which they foresee in letting their enemy

survive; since the object of a wanton wrong is more dangerous, if

he escape, than an enemy who has not this to complain of. Do not,

therefore, be traitors to yourselves, but recall as nearly as possible

the moment of suffering and the supreme importance which you then

attached to their reduction; and now pay them back in their turn,

without yielding to present weakness or forgetting the peril that

once hung over you. Punish them as they deserve, and teach your other

allies by a striking example that the penalty of rebellion is death.

Let them once understand this and you will not have so often to neglect

your enemies while you are fighting with your own confederates.»


Such were the words of Cleon. After him Diodotus, son of Eucrates,

who had also in the previous assembly spoken most strongly against

putting the Mitylenians to death, came forward and spoke as follows:


«I do not blame the persons who have reopened the case of the Mitylenians,

nor do I approve the protests which we have heard against important

questions being frequently debated. I think the two things most opposed

to good counsel are haste and passion; haste usually goes hand in

hand with folly, passion with coarseness and narrowness of mind. As

for the argument that speech ought not to be the exponent of action,

the man who uses it must be either senseless or interested: senseless

if he believes it possible to treat of the uncertain future through

any other medium; interested if, wishing to carry a disgraceful measure

and doubting his ability to speak well in a bad cause, he thinks to

frighten opponents and hearers by well-aimed calumny. What is still

more intolerable is to accuse a speaker of making a display in order

to be paid for it. If ignorance only were imputed, an unsuccessful

speaker might retire with a reputation for honesty, if not for wisdom;

while the charge of dishonesty makes him suspected, if successful,

and thought, if defeated, not only a fool but a rogue. The city is

no gainer by such a system, since fear deprives it of its advisers;

although in truth, if our speakers are to make such assertions, it

would be better for the country if they could not speak at all, as

we should then make fewer blunders. The good citizen ought to triumph

not by frightening his opponents but by beating them fairly in argument;

and a wise city, without over-distinguishing its best advisers, will

nevertheless not deprive them of their due, and, far from punishing

an unlucky counsellor, will not even regard him as disgraced. In this

way successful orators would be least tempted to sacrifice their convictions

to popularity, in the hope of still higher honours, and unsuccessful

speakers to resort to the same popular arts in order to win over the



«This is not our way; and, besides, the moment that a man is suspected

of giving advice, however good, from corrupt motives, we feel such

a grudge against him for the gain which after all we are not certain

he will receive, that we deprive the city of its certain benefit.

Plain good advice has thus come to be no less suspected than bad;

and the advocate of the most monstrous measures is not more obliged

to use deceit to gain the people, than the best counsellor is to lie

in order to be believed. The city and the city only, owing to these

refinements, can never be served openly and without disguise; he who

does serve it openly being always suspected of serving himself in

some secret way in return. Still, considering the magnitude of the

interests involved, and the position of affairs, we orators must make

it our business to look a little farther than you who judge offhand;

especially as we, your advisers, are responsible, while you, our audience,

are not so. For if those who gave the advice, and those who took it,

suffered equally, you would judge more calmly; as it is, you visit

the disasters into which the whim of the moment may have led you upon

the single person of your adviser, not upon yourselves, his numerous

companions in error.


«However, I have not come forward either to oppose or to accuse in

the matter of Mitylene; indeed, the question before us as sensible

men is not their guilt, but our interests. Though I prove them ever

so guilty, I shall not, therefore, advise their death, unless it be

expedient; nor though they should have claims to indulgence, shall

I recommend it, unless it be dearly for the good of the country. I

consider that we are deliberating for the future more than for the

present; and where Cleon is so positive as to the useful deterrent

effects that will follow from making rebellion capital, I, who consider

the interests of the future quite as much as he, as positively maintain

the contrary. And I require you not to reject my useful considerations

for his specious ones: his speech may have the attraction of seeming

the more just in your present temper against Mitylene; but we are

not in a court of justice, but in a political assembly; and the question

is not justice, but how to make the Mitylenians useful to Athens.


«Now of course communities have enacted the penalty of death for many

offences far lighter than this: still hope leads men to venture, and

no one ever yet put himself in peril without the inward conviction

that he would succeed in his design. Again, was there ever city rebelling

that did not believe that it possessed either in itself or in its

alliances resources adequate to the enterprise? All, states and individuals,

are alike prone to err, and there is no law that will prevent them;

or why should men have exhausted the list of punishments in search

of enactments to protect them from evildoers? It is probable that

in early times the penalties for the greatest offences were less severe,

and that, as these were disregarded, the penalty of death has been

by degrees in most cases arrived at, which is itself disregarded in

like manner. Either then some means of terror more terrible than this

must be discovered, or it must be owned that this restraint is useless;

and that as long as poverty gives men the courage of necessity, or

plenty fills them with the ambition which belongs to insolence and

pride, and the other conditions of life remain each under the thraldom

of some fatal and master passion, so long will the impulse never be

wanting to drive men into danger. Hope also and cupidity, the one

leading and the other following, the one conceiving the attempt, the

other suggesting the facility of succeeding, cause the widest ruin,

and, although invisible agents, are far stronger than the dangers

that are seen. Fortune, too, powerfully helps the delusion and, by

the unexpected aid that she sometimes lends, tempts men to venture

with inferior means; and this is especially the case with communities,

because the stakes played for are the highest, freedom or empire,

and, when all are acting together, each man irrationally magnifies

his own capacity. In fine, it is impossible to prevent, and only great

simplicity can hope to prevent, human nature doing what it has once

set its mind upon, by force of law or by any other deterrent force



«We must not, therefore, commit ourselves to a false policy through

a belief in the efficacy of the punishment of death, or exclude rebels

from the hope of repentance and an early atonement of their error.

Consider a moment. At present, if a city that has already revolted

perceive that it cannot succeed, it will come to terms while it is

still able to refund expenses, and pay tribute afterwards. In the

other case, what city, think you, would not prepare better than is

now done, and hold out to the last against its besiegers, if it is

all one whether it surrender late or soon? And how can it be otherwise

than hurtful to us to be put to the expense of a siege, because surrender

is out of the question; and if we take the city, to receive a ruined

town from which we can no longer draw the revenue which forms our

real strength against the enemy? We must not, therefore, sit as strict

judges of the offenders to our own prejudice, but rather see how by

moderate chastisements we may be enabled to benefit in future by the

revenue-producing powers of our dependencies; and we must make up

our minds to look for our protection not to legal terrors but to careful

administration. At present we do exactly the opposite. When a free

community, held in subjection by force, rises, as is only natural,

and asserts its independence, it is no sooner reduced than we fancy

ourselves obliged to punish it severely; although the right course

with freemen is not to chastise them rigorously when they do rise,

but rigorously to watch them before they rise, and to prevent their

ever entertaining the idea, and, the insurrection suppressed, to make

as few responsible for it as possible.


«Only consider what a blunder you would commit in doing as Cleon recommends.

As things are at present, in all the cities the people is your friend,

and either does not revolt with the oligarchy, or, if forced to do

so, becomes at once the enemy of the insurgents; so that in the war

with the hostile city you have the masses on your side. But if you

butcher the people of Mitylene, who had nothing to do with the revolt,

and who, as soon as they got arms, of their own motion surrendered

the town, first you will commit the crime of killing your benefactors;

and next you will play directly into the hands of the higher classes,

who when they induce their cities to rise, will immediately have the

people on their side, through your having announced in advance the

same punishment for those who are guilty and for those who are not.

On the contrary, even if they were guilty, you ought to seem not to

notice it, in order to avoid alienating the only class still friendly

to us. In short, I consider it far more useful for the preservation

of our empire voluntarily to put up with injustice, than to put to

death, however justly, those whom it is our interest to keep alive.

As for Cleon’s idea that in punishment the claims of justice and expediency

can both be satisfied, facts do not confirm the possibility of such

a combination.


«Confess, therefore, that this is the wisest course, and without conceding

too much either to pity or to indulgence, by neither of which motives

do I any more than Cleon wish you to be influenced, upon the plain

merits of the case before you, be persuaded by me to try calmly those

of the Mitylenians whom Paches sent off as guilty, and to leave the

rest undisturbed. This is at once best for the future, and most terrible

to your enemies at the present moment; inasmuch as good policy against

an adversary is superior to the blind attacks of brute force.»


Such were the words of Diodotus. The two opinions thus expressed were

the ones that most directly contradicted each other; and the Athenians,

notwithstanding their change of feeling, now proceeded to a division,

in which the show of hands was almost equal, although the motion of

Diodotus carried the day. Another galley was at once sent off in haste,

for fear that the first might reach Lesbos in the interval, and the

city be found destroyed; the first ship having about a day and a night’s

start. Wine and barley-cakes were provided for the vessel by the Mitylenian

ambassadors, and great promises made if they arrived in time; which

caused the men to use such diligence upon the voyage that they took

their meals of barley-cakes kneaded with oil and wine as they rowed,

and only slept by turns while the others were at the oar. Luckily

they met with no contrary wind, and the first ship making no haste

upon so horrid an errand, while the second pressed on in the manner

described, the first arrived so little before them, that Paches had

only just had time to read the decree, and to prepare to execute the

sentence, when the second put into port and prevented the massacre.

The danger of Mitylene had indeed been great.


The other party whom Paches had sent off as the prime movers in the

rebellion, were upon Cleon’s motion put to death by the Athenians,

the number being rather more than a thousand. The Athenians also demolished

the walls of the Mitylenians, and took possession of their ships.

Afterwards tribute was not imposed upon the Lesbians; but all their

land, except that of the Methymnians, was divided into three thousand

allotments, three hundred of which were reserved as sacred for the

gods, and the rest assigned by lot to Athenian shareholders, who were

sent out to the island. With these the Lesbians agreed to pay a rent

of two minae a year for each allotment, and cultivated the land themselves.

The Athenians also took possession of the towns on the continent belonging

to the Mitylenians, which thus became for the future subject to Athens.

Such were the events that took place at Lesbos.


Chapter X


Fifth Year of the War – Trial and Execution of the Plataeans – Corcyraean



During the same summer, after the reduction of Lesbos, the Athenians

under Nicias, son of Niceratus, made an expedition against the island

of Minoa, which lies off Megara and was used as a fortified post by

the Megarians, who had built a tower upon it. Nicias wished to enable

the Athenians to maintain their blockade from this nearer station

instead of from Budorum and Salamis; to stop the Peloponnesian galleys

and privateers sailing out unobserved from the island, as they had

been in the habit of doing; and at the same time prevent anything

from coming into Megara. Accordingly, after taking two towers projecting

on the side of Nisaea, by engines from the sea, and clearing the entrance

into the channel between the island and the shore, he next proceeded

to cut off all communication by building a wall on the mainland at

the point where a bridge across a morass enabled succours to be thrown

into the island, which was not far off from the continent. A few days

sufficing to accomplish this, he afterwards raised some works in the

island also, and leaving a garrison there, departed with his forces.


About the same time in this summer, the Plataeans, being now without

provisions and unable to support the siege, surrendered to the Peloponnesians

in the following manner. An assault had been made upon the wall, which

the Plataeans were unable to repel. The Lacedaemonian commander, perceiving

their weakness, wished to avoid taking the place by storm; his instructions

from Lacedaemon having been so conceived, in order that if at any

future time peace should be made with Athens, and they should agree

each to restore the places that they had taken in the war, Plataea

might be held to have come over voluntarily, and not be included in

the list. He accordingly sent a herald to them to ask if they were

willing voluntarily to surrender the town to the Lacedaemonians, and

accept them as their judges, upon the understanding that the guilty

should be punished, but no one without form of law. The Plataeans

were now in the last state of weakness, and the herald had no sooner

delivered his message than they surrendered the town. The Peloponnesians

fed them for some days until the judges from Lacedaemon, who were

five in number, arrived. Upon their arrival no charge was preferred;

they simply called up the Plataeans, and asked them whether they had

done the Lacedaemonians and allies any service in the war then raging.

The Plataeans asked leave to speak at greater length, and deputed

two of their number to represent them: Astymachus, son of Asopolaus,

and Lacon, son of Aeimnestus, proxenus of the Lacedaemonians, who

came forward and spoke as follows:


«Lacedaemonians, when we surrendered our city we trusted in you, and

looked forward to a trial more agreeable to the forms of law than

the present, to which we had no idea of being subjected; the judges

also in whose hands we consented to place ourselves were you, and

you only (from whom we thought we were most likely to obtain justice),

and not other persons, as is now the case. As matters stand, we are

afraid that we have been doubly deceived. We have good reason to suspect,

not only that the issue to be tried is the most terrible of all, but

that you will not prove impartial; if we may argue from the fact that

no accusation was first brought forward for us to answer, but we had

ourselves to ask leave to speak, and from the question being put so

shortly, that a true answer to it tells against us, while a false

one can be contradicted. In this dilemma, our safest, and indeed our

only course, seems to be to say something at all risks: placed as

we are, we could scarcely be silent without being tormented by the

damning thought that speaking might have saved us. Another difficulty

that we have to encounter is the difficulty of convincing you. Were

we unknown to each other we might profit by bringing forward new matter

with which you were unacquainted: as it is, we can tell you nothing

that you do not know already, and we fear, not that you have condemned

us in your own minds of having failed in our duty towards you, and

make this our crime, but that to please a third party we have to submit

to a trial the result of which is already decided. Nevertheless, we

will place before you what we can justly urge, not only on the question

of the quarrel which the Thebans have against us, but also as addressing

you and the rest of the Hellenes; and we will remind you of our good

services, and endeavour to prevail with you.


«To your short question, whether we have done the Lacedaemonians and

allies any service in this war, we say, if you ask us as enemies,

that to refrain from serving you was not to do you injury; if as friends,

that you are more in fault for having marched against us. During the

peace, and against the Mede, we acted well: we have not now been the

first to break the peace, and we were the only Boeotians who then

joined in defending against the Mede the liberty of Hellas. Although

an inland people, we were present at the action at Artemisium; in

the battle that took place in our territory we fought by the side

of yourselves and Pausanias; and in all the other Hellenic exploits

of the time we took a part quite out of proportion to our strength.

Besides, you, as Lacedaemonians, ought not to forget that at the time

of the great panic at Sparta, after the earthquake, caused by the

secession of the Helots to Ithome, we sent the third part of our citizens

to assist you.


«On these great and historical occasions such was the part that we

chose, although afterwards we became your enemies. For this you were

to blame. When we asked for your alliance against our Theban oppressors,

you rejected our petition, and told us to go to the Athenians who

were our neighbours, as you lived too far off. In the war we never

have done to you, and never should have done to you, anything unreasonable.

If we refused to desert the Athenians when you asked us, we did no

wrong; they had helped us against the Thebans when you drew back,

and we could no longer give them up with honour; especially as we

had obtained their alliance and had been admitted to their citizenship

at our own request, and after receiving benefits at their hands; but

it was plainly our duty loyally to obey their orders. Besides, the

faults that either of you may commit in your supremacy must be laid,

not upon the followers, but on the chiefs that lead them astray.


«With regard to the Thebans, they have wronged us repeatedly, and

their last aggression, which has been the means of bringing us into

our present position, is within your own knowledge. In seizing our

city in time of peace, and what is more at a holy time in the month,

they justly encountered our vengeance, in accordance with the universal

law which sanctions resistance to an invader; and it cannot now be

right that we should suffer on their account. By taking your own immediate

interest and their animosity as the test of justice, you will prove

yourselves to be rather waiters on expediency than judges of right;

although if they seem useful to you now, we and the rest of the Hellenes

gave you much more valuable help at a time of greater need. Now you

are the assailants, and others fear you; but at the crisis to which

we allude, when the barbarian threatened all with slavery, the Thebans

were on his side. It is just, therefore, to put our patriotism then

against our error now, if error there has been; and you will find

the merit outweighing the fault, and displayed at a juncture when

there were few Hellenes who would set their valour against the strength

of Xerxes, and when greater praise was theirs who preferred the dangerous

path of honour to the safe course of consulting their own interest

with respect to the invasion. To these few we belonged, and highly

were we honoured for it; and yet we now fear to perish by having again

acted on the same principles, and chosen to act well with Athens sooner

than wisely with Sparta. Yet in justice the same cases should be decided

in the same way, and policy should not mean anything else than lasting

gratitude for the service of good ally combined with a proper attention

to one’s own immediate interest.


«Consider also that at present the Hellenes generally regard you as

a pattern of worth and honour; and if you pass an unjust sentence

upon us in this which is no obscure cause, but one in which you, the

judges, are as illustrious as we, the prisoners, are blameless, take

care that displeasure be not felt at an unworthy decision in the matter

of honourable men made by men yet more honourable than they, and at

the consecration in the national temples of spoils taken from the

Plataeans, the benefactors of Hellas. Shocking indeed will it seem

for Lacedaemonians to destroy Plataea, and for the city whose name

your fathers inscribed upon the tripod at Delphi for its good service,

to be by you blotted out from the map of Hellas, to please the Thebans.

To such a depth of misfortune have we fallen that, while the Medes’

success had been our ruin, Thebans now supplant us in your once fond

regards; and we have been subjected to two dangers, the greatest of

any- that of dying of starvation then, if we had not surrendered our

town, and now of being tried for our lives. So that we Plataeans,

after exertions beyond our power in the cause of the Hellenes, are

rejected by all, forsaken and unassisted; helped by none of our allies,

and reduced to doubt the stability of our only hope, yourselves.


«Still, in the name of the gods who once presided over our confederacy,

and of our own good service in the Hellenic cause, we adjure you to

relent; to recall the decision which we fear that the Thebans may

have obtained from you; to ask back the gift that you have given them,

that they disgrace not you by slaying us; to gain a pure instead of

a guilty gratitude, and not to gratify others to be yourselves rewarded

with shame. Our lives may be quickly taken, but it will be a heavy

task to wipe away the infamy of the deed; as we are no enemies whom

you might justly punish, but friends forced into taking arms against

you. To grant us our lives would be, therefore, a righteous judgment;

if you consider also that we are prisoners who surrendered of their

own accord, stretching out our hands for quarter, whose slaughter

Hellenic law forbids, and who besides were always your benefactors.

Look at the sepulchres of your fathers, slain by the Medes and buried

in our country, whom year by year we honoured with garments and all

other dues, and the first-fruits of all that our land produced in

their season, as friends from a friendly country and allies to our

old companions in arms. Should you not decide aright, your conduct

would be the very opposite to ours. Consider only: Pausanias buried

them thinking that he was laying them in friendly ground and among

men as friendly; but you, if you kill us and make the Plataean territory

Theban, will leave your fathers and kinsmen in a hostile soil and

among their murderers, deprived of the honours which they now enjoy.

What is more, you will enslave the land in which the freedom of the

Hellenes was won, make desolate the temples of the gods to whom they

prayed before they overcame the Medes, and take away your ancestral

sacrifices from those who founded and instituted them.


«It were not to your glory, Lacedaemonians, either to offend in this

way against the common law of the Hellenes and against your own ancestors,

or to kill us your benefactors to gratify another’s hatred without

having been wronged yourselves: it were more so to spare us and to

yield to the impressions of a reasonable compassion; reflecting not

merely on the awful fate in store for us, but also on the character

of the sufferers, and on the impossibility of predicting how soon

misfortune may fall even upon those who deserve it not. We, as we

have a right to do and as our need impels us, entreat you, calling

aloud upon the gods at whose common altar all the Hellenes worship,

to hear our request, to be not unmindful of the oaths which your fathers

swore, and which we now plead- we supplicate you by the tombs of your

fathers, and appeal to those that are gone to save us from falling

into the hands of the Thebans and their dearest friends from being

given up to their most detested foes. We also remind you of that day

on which we did the most glorious deeds, by your fathers’ sides, we

who now on this are like to suffer the most dreadful fate. Finally,

to do what is necessary and yet most difficult for men in our situation-

that is, to make an end of speaking, since with that ending the peril

of our lives draws near- in conclusion we say that we did not surrender

our city to the Thebans (to that we would have preferred inglorious

starvation), but trusted in and capitulated to you; and it would be

just, if we fail to persuade you, to put us back in the same position

and let us take the chance that falls to us. And at the same time

we adjure you not to give us up- your suppliants, Lacedaemonians,

out of your hands and faith, Plataeans foremost of the Hellenic patriots,

to Thebans, our most hated enemies- but to be our saviours, and not,

while you free the rest of the Hellenes, to bring us to destruction.»


Such were the words of the Plataeans. The Thebans, afraid that the

Lacedaemonians might be moved by what they had heard, came forward

and said that they too desired to address them, since the Plataeans

had, against their wish, been allowed to speak at length instead of

being confined to a simple answer to the question. Leave being granted,

the Thebans spoke as follows:


«We should never have asked to make this speech if the Plataeans on

their side had contented themselves with shortly answering the question,

and had not turned round and made charges against us, coupled with

a long defence of themselves upon matters outside the present inquiry

and not even the subject of accusation, and with praise of what no

one finds fault with. However, since they have done so, we must answer

their charges and refute their self-praise, in order that neither

our bad name nor their good may help them, but that you may hear the

real truth on both points, and so decide.


«The origin of our quarrel was this. We settled Plataea some time

after the rest of Boeotia, together with other places out of which

we had driven the mixed population. The Plataeans not choosing to

recognize our supremacy, as had been first arranged, but separating

themselves from the rest of the Boeotians, and proving traitors to

their nationality, we used compulsion; upon which they went over to

the Athenians, and with them did as much harm, for which we retaliated.


«Next, when the barbarian invaded Hellas, they say that they were

the only Boeotians who did not Medize; and this is where they most

glorify themselves and abuse us. We say that if they did not Medize,

it was because the Athenians did not do so either; just as afterwards

when the Athenians attacked the Hellenes they, the Plataeans, were

again the only Boeotians who Atticized. And yet consider the forms

of our respective governments when we so acted. Our city at that juncture

had neither an oligarchical constitution in which all the nobles enjoyed

equal rights, nor a democracy, but that which is most opposed to law

and good government and nearest a tyranny- the rule of a close cabal.

These, hoping to strengthen their individual power by the success

of the Mede, kept down by force the people, and brought him into the

town. The city as a whole was not its own mistress when it so acted,

and ought not to be reproached for the errors that it committed while

deprived of its constitution. Examine only how we acted after the

departure of the Mede and the recovery of the constitution; when the

Athenians attacked the rest of Hellas and endeavoured to subjugate

our country, of the greater part of which faction had already made

them masters. Did not we fight and conquer at Coronea and liberate

Boeotia, and do we not now actively contribute to the liberation of

the rest, providing horses to the cause and a force unequalled by

that of any other state in the confederacy?


«Let this suffice to excuse us for our Medism. We will now endeavour

to show that you have injured the Hellenes more than we, and are more

deserving of condign punishment. It was in defence against us, say

you, that you became allies and citizens of Athens. If so, you ought

only to have called in the Athenians against us, instead of joining

them in attacking others: it was open to you to do this if you ever

felt that they were leading you where you did not wish to follow,

as Lacedaemon was already your ally against the Mede, as you so much

insist; and this was surely sufficient to keep us off, and above all

to allow you to deliberate in security. Nevertheless, of your own

choice and without compulsion you chose to throw your lot in with

Athens. And you say that it had been base for you to betray your benefactors;

but it was surely far baser and more iniquitous to sacrifice the whole

body of the Hellenes, your fellow confederates, who were liberating

Hellas, than the Athenians only, who were enslaving it. The return

that you made them was therefore neither equal nor honourable, since

you called them in, as you say, because you were being oppressed yourselves,

and then became their accomplices in oppressing others; although baseness

rather consists in not returning like for like than in not returning

what is justly due but must be unjustly paid.


«Meanwhile, after thus plainly showing that it was not for the sake

of the Hellenes that you alone then did not Medize, but because the

Athenians did not do so either, and you wished to side with them and

to be against the rest; you now claim the benefit of good deeds done

to please your neighbours. This cannot be admitted: you chose the

Athenians, and with them you must stand or fall. Nor can you plead

the league then made and claim that it should now protect you. You

abandoned that league, and offended against it by helping instead

of hindering the subjugation of the Aeginetans and others of its members,

and that not under compulsion, but while in enjoyment of the same

institutions that you enjoy to the present hour, and no one forcing

you as in our case. Lastly, an invitation was addressed to you before

you were blockaded to be neutral and join neither party: this you

did not accept. Who then merit the detestation of the Hellenes more

justly than you, you who sought their ruin under the mask of honour?

The former virtues that you allege you now show not to be proper to

your character; the real bent of your nature has been at length damningly

proved: when the Athenians took the path of injustice you followed



«Of our unwilling Medism and your wilful Atticizing this then is our

explanation. The last wrong wrong of which you complain consists in

our having, as you say, lawlessly invaded your town in time of peace

and festival. Here again we cannot think that we were more in fault

than yourselves. If of our own proper motion we made an armed attack

upon your city and ravaged your territory, we are guilty; but if the

first men among you in estate and family, wishing to put an end to

the foreign connection and to restore you to the common Boeotian country,

of their own free will invited us, wherein is our crime? Where wrong

is done, those who lead, as you say, are more to blame than those

who follow. Not that, in our judgment, wrong was done either by them

or by us. Citizens like yourselves, and with more at stake than you,

they opened their own walls and introduced us into their own city,

not as foes but as friends, to prevent the bad among you from becoming

worse; to give honest men their due; to reform principles without

attacking persons, since you were not to be banished from your city,

but brought home to your kindred, nor to be made enemies to any, but

friends alike to all.


«That our intention was not hostile is proved by our behaviour. We

did no harm to any one, but publicly invited those who wished to live

under a national, Boeotian government to come over to us; which as

first you gladly did, and made an agreement with us and remained tranquil,

until you became aware of the smallness of our numbers. Now it is

possible that there may have been something not quite fair in our

entering without the consent of your commons. At any rate you did

not repay us in kind. Instead of refraining, as we had done, from

violence, and inducing us to retire by negotiation, you fell upon

us in violation of your agreement, and slew some of us in fight, of

which we do not so much complain, for in that there was a certain

justice; but others who held out their hands and received quarter,

and whose lives you subsequently promised us, you lawlessly butchered.

If this was not abominable, what is? And after these three crimes

committed one after the other- the violation of your agreement, the

murder of the men afterwards, and the lying breach of your promise

not to kill them, if we refrained from injuring your property in the

country- you still affirm that we are the criminals and yourselves

pretend to escape justice. Not so, if these your judges decide aright,

but you will be punished for all together.


«Such, Lacedaemonians, are the facts. We have gone into them at some

length both on your account and on our own, that you may fed that

you will justly condemn the prisoners, and we, that we have given

an additional sanction to our vengeance. We would also prevent you

from being melted by hearing of their past virtues, if any such they

had: these may be fairly appealed to by the victims of injustice,

but only aggravate the guilt of criminals, since they offend against

their better nature. Nor let them gain anything by crying and wailing,

by calling upon your fathers’ tombs and their own desolate condition.

Against this we point to the far more dreadful fate of our youth,

butchered at their hands; the fathers of whom either fell at Coronea,

bringing Boeotia over to you, or seated, forlorn old men by desolate

hearths, with far more reason implore your justice upon the prisoners.

The pity which they appeal to is rather due to men who suffer unworthily;

those who suffer justly as they do are on the contrary subjects for

triumph. For their present desolate condition they have themselves

to blame, since they wilfully rejected the better alliance. Their

lawless act was not provoked by any action of ours: hate, not justice,

inspired their decision; and even now the satisfaction which they

afford us is not adequate; they will suffer by a legal sentence, not

as they pretend as suppliants asking for quarter in battle, but as

prisoners who have surrendered upon agreement to take their trial.

Vindicate, therefore, Lacedaemonians, the Hellenic law which they

have broken; and to us, the victims of its violation, grant the reward

merited by our zeal. Nor let us be supplanted in your favour by their

harangues, but offer an example to the Hellenes, that the contests

to which you invite them are of deeds, not words: good deeds can be

shortly stated, but where wrong is done a wealth of language is needed

to veil its deformity. However, if leading powers were to do what

you are now doing, and putting one short question to all alike were

to decide accordingly, men would be less tempted to seek fine phrases

to cover bad actions.»


Such were the words of the Thebans. The Lacedaemonian judges decided

that the question whether they had received any service from the Plataeans

in the war, was a fair one for them to put; as they had always invited

them to be neutral, agreeably to the original covenant of Pausanias

after the defeat of the Mede, and had again definitely offered them

the same conditions before the blockade. This offer having been refused,

they were now, they conceived, by the loyalty of their intention released

from their covenant; and having, as they considered, suffered evil

at the hands of the Plataeans, they brought them in again one by one

and asked each of them the same question, that is to say, whether

they had done the Lacedaemonians and allies any service in the war;

and upon their saying that they had not, took them out and slew them,

all without exception. The number of Plataeans thus massacred was

not less than two hundred, with twenty-five Athenians who had shared

in the siege. The women were taken as slaves. The city the Thebans

gave for about a year to some political emigrants from Megara and

to the surviving Plataeans of their own party to inhabit, and afterwards

razed it to the ground from the very foundations, and built on to

the precinct of Hera an inn two hundred feet square, with rooms all

round above and below, making use for this purpose of the roofs and

doors of the Plataeans: of the rest of the materials in the wall,

the brass and the iron, they made couches which they dedicated to

Hera, for whom they also built a stone chapel of a hundred feet square.

The land they confiscated and let out on a ten years’ lease to Theban

occupiers. The adverse attitude of the Lacedaemonians in the whole

Plataean affair was mainly adopted to please the Thebans, who were

thought to be useful in the war at that moment raging. Such was the

end of Plataea, in the ninety-third year after she became the ally

of Athens.


Meanwhile, the forty ships of the Peloponnesians that had gone to

the relief of the Lesbians, and which we left flying across the open

sea, pursued by the Athenians, were caught in a storm off Crete, and

scattering from thence made their way to Peloponnese, where they found

at Cyllene thirteen Leucadian and Ambraciot galleys, with Brasidas,

son of Tellis, lately arrived as counsellor to Alcidas; the Lacedaemonians,

upon the failure of the Lesbian expedition, having resolved to strengthen

their fleet and sail to Corcyra, where a revolution had broken out,

so as to arrive there before the twelve Athenian ships at Naupactus

could be reinforced from Athens. Brasidas and Alcidas began to prepare



The Corcyraean revolution began with the return of the prisoners taken

in the sea-fights off Epidamnus. These the Corinthians had released,

nominally upon the security of eight hundred talents given by their

proxeni, but in reality upon their engagement to bring over Corcyra

to Corinth. These men proceeded to canvass each of the citizens, and

to intrigue with the view of detaching the city from Athens. Upon

the arrival of an Athenian and a Corinthian vessel, with envoys on

board, a conference was held in which the Corcyraeans voted to remain

allies of the Athenians according to their agreement, but to be friends

of the Peloponnesians as they had been formerly. Meanwhile, the returned

prisoners brought Peithias, a volunteer proxenus of the Athenians

and leader of the commons, to trial, upon the charge of enslaving

Corcyra to Athens. He, being acquitted, retorted by accusing five

of the richest of their number of cutting stakes in the ground sacred

to Zeus and Alcinous; the legal penalty being a stater for each stake.

Upon their conviction, the amount of the penalty being very large,

they seated themselves as suppliants in the temples to be allowed

to pay it by instalments; but Peithias, who was one of the senate,

prevailed upon that body to enforce the law; upon which the accused,

rendered desperate by the law, and also learning that Peithias had

the intention, while still a member of the senate, to persuade the

people to conclude a defensive and offensive alliance with Athens,

banded together armed with daggers, and suddenly bursting into the

senate killed Peithias and sixty others, senators and private persons;

some few only of the party of Peithias taking refuge in the Athenian

galley, which had not yet departed.


After this outrage, the conspirators summoned the Corcyraeans to an

assembly, and said that this would turn out for the best, and would

save them from being enslaved by Athens: for the future, they moved

to receive neither party unless they came peacefully in a single ship,

treating any larger number as enemies. This motion made, they compelled

it to be adopted, and instantly sent off envoys to Athens to justify

what had been done and to dissuade the refugees there from any hostile

proceedings which might lead to a reaction.


Upon the arrival of the embassy, the Athenians arrested the envoys

and all who listened to them, as revolutionists, and lodged them in

Aegina. Meanwhile a Corinthian galley arriving in the island with

Lacedaemonian envoys, the dominant Corcyraean party attacked the commons

and defeated them in battle. Night coming on, the commons took refuge

in the Acropolis and the higher parts of the city, and concentrated

themselves there, having also possession of the Hyllaic harbour; their

adversaries occupying the market-place, where most of them lived,

and the harbour adjoining, looking towards the mainland.


The next day passed in skirmishes of little importance, each party

sending into the country to offer freedom to the slaves and to invite

them to join them. The mass of the slaves answered the appeal of the

commons; their antagonists being reinforced by eight hundred mercenaries

from the continent.


After a day’s interval hostilities recommenced, victory remaining

with the commons, who had the advantage in numbers and position, the

women also valiantly assisting them, pelting with tiles from the houses,

and supporting the melee with a fortitude beyond their sex. Towards

dusk, the oligarchs in full rout, fearing that the victorious commons

might assault and carry the arsenal and put them to the sword, fired

the houses round the marketplace and the lodging-houses, in order

to bar their advance; sparing neither their own, nor those of their

neighbours; by which much stuff of the merchants was consumed and

the city risked total destruction, if a wind had come to help the

flame by blowing on it. Hostilities now ceasing, both sides kept quiet,

passing the night on guard, while the Corinthian ship stole out to

sea upon the victory of the commons, and most of the mercenaries passed

over secretly to the continent.


The next day the Athenian general, Nicostratus, son of Diitrephes,

came up from Naupactus with twelve ships and five hundred Messenian

heavy infantry. He at once endeavoured to bring about a settlement,

and persuaded the two parties to agree together to bring to trial

ten of the ringleaders, who presently fled, while the rest were to

live in peace, making terms with each other, and entering into a defensive

and offensive alliance with the Athenians. This arranged, he was about

to sail away, when the leaders of the commons induced him to leave

them five of his ships to make their adversaries less disposed to

move, while they manned and sent with him an equal number of their

own. He had no sooner consented, than they began to enroll their enemies

for the ships; and these, fearing that they might be sent off to Athens,

seated themselves as suppliants in the temple of the Dioscuri. An

attempt on the part of Nicostratus to reassure them and to persuade

them to rise proving unsuccessful, the commons armed upon this pretext,

alleging the refusal of their adversaries to sail with them as a proof

of the hollowness of their intentions, and took their arms out of

their houses, and would have dispatched some whom they fell in with,

if Nicostratus had not prevented it. The rest of the party, seeing

what was going on, seated themselves as suppliants in the temple of

Hera, being not less than four hundred in number; until the commons,

fearing that they might adopt some desperate resolution, induced them

to rise, and conveyed them over to the island in front of the temple,

where provisions were sent across to them.


At this stage in the revolution, on the fourth or fifth day after

the removal of the men to the island, the Peloponnesian ships arrived

from Cyllene where they had been stationed since their return from

Ionia, fifty-three in number, still under the command of Alcidas,

but with Brasidas also on board as his adviser; and dropping anchor

at Sybota, a harbour on the mainland, at daybreak made sail for Corcyra.


The Corcyraeans in great confusion and alarm at the state of things

in the city and at the approach of the invader, at once proceeded

to equip sixty vessels, which they sent out, as fast as they were

manned, against the enemy, in spite of the Athenians recommending

them to let them sail out first, and to follow themselves afterwards

with all their ships to. gether. Upon their vessels coming up to the

enemy in this straggling fashion, two immediately deserted: in others

the crews were fighting among themselves, and there was no order in

anything that was done; so that the Peloponnesians, seeing their confusion,

placed twenty ships to oppose the Corcyraeans, and ranged the rest

against the twelve Athenian ships, amongst which were the two vessels

Salaminia and Paralus.


While the Corcyraeans, attacking without judgment and in small detachments,

were already crippled by their own misconduct, the Athenians, afraid

of the numbers of the enemy and of being surrounded, did not venture

to attack the main body or even the centre of the division opposed

to them, but fell upon its wing and sank one vessel; after which the

Peloponnesians formed in a circle, and the Athenians rowed round them

and tried to throw them into disorder. Perceiving this, the division

opposed to the Corcyraeans, fearing a repetition of the disaster of

Naupactus, came to support their friends, and the whole fleet now

bore down, united, upon the Athenians, who retired before it, backing

water, retiring as leisurely as possible in order to give the Corcyraeans

time to escape, while the enemy was thus kept occupied. Such was the

character of this sea-fight, which lasted until sunset.


The Corcyraeans now feared that the enemy would follow up their victory

and sail against the town and rescue the men in the island, or strike

some other blow equally decisive, and accordingly carried the men

over again to the temple of Hera, and kept guard over the city. The

Peloponnesians, however, although victorious in the sea-fight, did

not venture to attack the town, but took the thirteen Corcyraean vessels

which they had captured, and with them sailed back to the continent

from whence they had put out. The next day equally they refrained

from attacking the city, although the disorder and panic were at their

height, and though Brasidas, it is said, urged Alcidas, his superior

officer, to do so, but they landed upon the promontory of Leukimme

and laid waste the country.


Meanwhile the commons in Corcyra, being still in great fear of the

fleet attacking them, came to a parley with the suppliants and their

friends, in order to save the town; and prevailed upon some of them

to go on board the ships, of which they still manned thirty, against

the expected attack. But the Peloponnesians after ravaging the country

until midday sailed away, and towards nightfall were informed by beacon

signals of the approach of sixty Athenian vessels from Leucas, under

the command of Eurymedon, son of Thucles; which had been sent off

by the Athenians upon the news of the revolution and of the fleet

with Alcidas being about to sail for Corcyra.


The Peloponnesians accordingly at once set off in haste by night for

home, coasting along shore; and hauling their ships across the Isthmus

of Leucas, in order not to be seen doubling it, so departed. The Corcyraeans,

made aware of the approach of the Athenian fleet and of the departure

of the enemy, brought the Messenians from outside the walls into the

town, and ordered the fleet which they had manned to sail round into

the Hyllaic harbour; and while it was so doing, slew such of their

enemies as they laid hands on, dispatching afterwards, as they landed

them, those whom they had persuaded to go on board the ships. Next

they went to the sanctuary of Hera and persuaded about fifty men to

take their trial, and condemned them all to death. The mass of the

suppliants who had refused to do so, on seeing what was taking place,

slew each other there in the consecrated ground; while some hanged

themselves upon the trees, and others destroyed themselves as they

were severally able. During seven days that Eurymedon stayed with

his sixty ships, the Corcyraeans were engaged in butchering those

of their fellow citizens whom they regarded as their enemies: and

although the crime imputed was that of attempting to put down the

democracy, some were slain also for private hatred, others by their

debtors because of the moneys owed to them. Death thus raged in every

shape; and, as usually happens at such times, there was no length

to which violence did not go; sons were killed by their fathers, and

suppliants dragged from the altar or slain upon it; while some were

even walled up in the temple of Dionysus and died there.


So bloody was the march of the revolution, and the impression which

it made was the greater as it was one of the first to occur. Later

on, one may say, the whole Hellenic world was convulsed; struggles

being every, where made by the popular chiefs to bring in the Athenians,

and by the oligarchs to introduce the Lacedaemonians. In peace there

would have been neither the pretext nor the wish to make such an invitation;

but in war, with an alliance always at the command of either faction

for the hurt of their adversaries and their own corresponding advantage,

opportunities for bringing in the foreigner were never wanting to

the revolutionary parties. The sufferings which revolution entailed

upon the cities were many and terrible, such as have occurred and

always will occur, as long as the nature of mankind remains the same;

though in a severer or milder form, and varying in their symptoms,

according to the variety of the particular cases. In peace and prosperity,

states and individuals have better sentiments, because they do not

find themselves suddenly confronted with imperious necessities; but

war takes away the easy supply of daily wants, and so proves a rough

master, that brings most men’s characters to a level with their fortunes.

Revolution thus ran its course from city to city, and the places which

it arrived at last, from having heard what had been done before, carried

to a still greater excess the refinement of their inventions, as manifested

in the cunning of their enterprises and the atrocity of their reprisals.

Words had to change their ordinary meaning and to take that which

was now given them. Reckless audacity came to be considered the courage

of a loyal ally; prudent hesitation, specious cowardice; moderation

was held to be a cloak for unmanliness; ability to see all sides of

a question, inaptness to act on any. Frantic violence became the attribute

of manliness; cautious plotting, a justifiable means of self-defence.

The advocate of extreme measures was always trustworthy; his opponent

a man to be suspected. To succeed in a plot was to have a shrewd head,

to divine a plot a still shrewder; but to try to provide against having

to do either was to break up your party and to be afraid of your adversaries.

In fine, to forestall an intending criminal, or to suggest the idea

of a crime where it was wanting, was equally commended until even

blood became a weaker tie than party, from the superior readiness

of those united by the latter to dare everything without reserve;

for such associations had not in view the blessings derivable from

established institutions but were formed by ambition for their overthrow;

and the confidence of their members in each other rested less on any

religious sanction than upon complicity in crime. The fair proposals

of an adversary were met with jealous precautions by the stronger

of the two, and not with a generous confidence. Revenge also was held

of more account than self-preservation. Oaths of reconciliation, being

only proffered on either side to meet an immediate difficulty, only

held good so long as no other weapon was at hand; but when opportunity

offered, he who first ventured to seize it and to take his enemy off

his guard, thought this perfidious vengeance sweeter than an open

one, since, considerations of safety apart, success by treachery won

him the palm of superior intelligence. Indeed it is generally the

case that men are readier to call rogues clever than simpletons honest,

and are as ashamed of being the second as they are proud of being

the first. The cause of all these evils was the lust for power arising

from greed and ambition; and from these passions proceeded the violence

of parties once engaged in contention. The leaders in the cities,

each provided with the fairest professions, on the one side with the

cry of political equality of the people, on the other of a moderate

aristocracy, sought prizes for themselves in those public interests

which they pretended to cherish, and, recoiling from no means in their

struggles for ascendancy engaged in the direst excesses; in their

acts of vengeance they went to even greater lengths, not stopping

at what justice or the good of the state demanded, but making the

party caprice of the moment their only standard, and invoking with

equal readiness the condemnation of an unjust verdict or the authority

of the strong arm to glut the animosities of the hour. Thus religion

was in honour with neither party; but the use of fair phrases to arrive

at guilty ends was in high reputation. Meanwhile the moderate part

of the citizens perished between the two, either for not joining in

the quarrel, or because envy would not suffer them to escape.


Thus every form of iniquity took root in the Hellenic countries by

reason of the troubles. The ancient simplicity into which honour so

largely entered was laughed down and disappeared; and society became

divided into camps in which no man trusted his fellow. To put an end

to this, there was neither promise to be depended upon, nor oath that

could command respect; but all parties dwelling rather in their calculation

upon the hopelessness of a permanent state of things, were more intent

upon self-defence than capable of confidence. In this contest the

blunter wits were most successful. Apprehensive of their own deficiencies

and of the cleverness of their antagonists, they feared to be worsted

in debate and to be surprised by the combinations of their more versatile

opponents, and so at once boldly had recourse to action: while their

adversaries, arrogantly thinking that they should know in time, and

that it was unnecessary to secure by action what policy afforded,

often fell victims to their want of precaution.


Meanwhile Corcyra gave the first example of most of the crimes alluded

to; of the reprisals exacted by the governed who had never experienced

equitable treatment or indeed aught but insolence from their rulers-

when their hour came; of the iniquitous resolves of those who desired

to get rid of their accustomed poverty, and ardently coveted their

neighbours’ goods; and lastly, of the savage and pitiless excesses

into which men who had begun the struggle, not in a class but in a

party spirit, were hurried by their ungovernable passions. In the

confusion into which life was now thrown in the cities, human nature,

always rebelling against the law and now its master, gladly showed

itself ungoverned in passion, above respect for justice, and the enemy

of all superiority; since revenge would not have been set above religion,

and gain above justice, had it not been for the fatal power of envy.

Indeed men too often take upon themselves in the prosecution of their

revenge to set the example of doing away with those general laws to

which all alike can look for salvation in adversity, instead of allowing

them to subsist against the day of danger when their aid may be required.


While the revolutionary passions thus for the first time displayed

themselves in the factions of Corcyra, Eurymedon and the Athenian

fleet sailed away; after which some five hundred Corcyraean exiles

who had succeeded in escaping, took some forts on the mainland, and

becoming masters of the Corcyraean territory over the water, made

this their base to Plunder their countrymen in the island, and did

so much damage as to cause a severe famine in the town. They also

sent envoys to Lacedaemon and Corinth to negotiate their restoration;

but meeting with no success, afterwards got together boats and mercenaries

and crossed over to the island, being about six hundred in all; and

burning their boats so as to have no hope except in becoming masters

of the country, went up to Mount Istone, and fortifying themselves

there, began to annoy those in the city and obtained command of the



At the close of the same summer the Athenians sent twenty ships under

the command of Laches, son of Melanopus, and Charoeades, son of Euphiletus,

to Sicily, where the Syracusans and Leontines were at war. The Syracusans

had for allies all the Dorian cities except Camarina- these had been

included in the Lacedaemonian confederacy from the commencement of

the war, though they had not taken any active part in it- the Leontines

had Camarina and the Chalcidian cities. In Italy the Locrians were

for the Syracusans, the Rhegians for their Leontine kinsmen. The allies

of the Leontines now sent to Athens and appealed to their ancient

alliance and to their Ionian origin, to persuade the Athenians to

send them a fleet, as the Syracusans were blockading them by land

and sea. The Athenians sent it upon the plea of their common descent,

but in reality to prevent the exportation of Sicilian corn to Peloponnese

and to test the possibility of bringing Sicily into subjection. Accordingly

they established themselves at Rhegium in Italy, and from thence carried

on the war in concert with their allies.


Chapter XI


Year of the War – Campaigns of Demosthenes in Western Greece – Ruin

of Ambracia


Summer was now over. The winter following, the plague a second time

attacked the Athenians; for although it had never entirely left them,

still there had been a notable abatement in its ravages. The second

visit lasted no less than a year, the first having lasted two; and

nothing distressed the Athenians and reduced their power more than

this. No less than four thousand four hundred heavy infantry in the

ranks died of it and three hundred cavalry, besides a number of the

multitude that was never ascertained. At the same time took place

the numerous earthquakes in Athens, Euboea, and Boeotia, particularly

at Orchomenus in the last-named country.


The same winter the Athenians in Sicily and the Rhegians, with thirty

ships, made an expedition against the islands of Aeolus; it being

impossible to invade them in summer, owing to the want of water. These

islands are occupied by the Liparaeans, a Cnidian colony, who live

in one of them of no great size called Lipara; and from this as their

headquarters cultivate the rest, Didyme, Strongyle, and Hiera. In

Hiera the people in those parts believe that Hephaestus has his forge,

from the quantity of flame which they see it send out by night, and

of smoke by day. These islands lie off the coast of the Sicels and

Messinese, and were allies of the Syracusans. The Athenians laid waste

their land, and as the inhabitants did not submit, sailed back to

Rhegium. Thus the winter ended, and with it ended the fifth year of

this war, of which Thucydides was the historian.


The next summer the Peloponnesians and their allies set out to invade

Attica under the command of Agis, son of Archidamus, and went as far

as the Isthmus, but numerous earthquakes occurring, turned back again

without the invasion taking place. About the same time that these

earthquakes were so common, the sea at Orobiae, in Euboea, retiring

from the then line of coast, returned in a huge wave and invaded a

great part of the town, and retreated leaving some of it still under

water; so that what was once land is now sea; such of the inhabitants

perishing as could not run up to the higher ground in time. A similar

inundation also occurred at Atalanta, the island off the Opuntian

Locrian coast, carrying away part of the Athenian fort and wrecking

one of two ships which were drawn up on the beach. At Peparethus also

the sea retreated a little, without however any inundation following;

and an earthquake threw down part of the wall, the town hall, and

a few other buildings. The cause, in my opinion, of this phenomenon

must be sought in the earthquake. At the point where its shock has

been the most violent, the sea is driven back and, suddenly recoiling

with redoubled force, causes the inundation. Without an earthquake

I do not see how such an accident could happen.


During the same summer different operations were carried on by the

different beligerents in Sicily; by the Siceliots themselves against

each other, and by the Athenians and their allies: I shall however

confine myself to the actions in which the Athenians took part, choosing

the most important. The death of the Athenian general Charoeades,

killed by the Syracusans in battle, left Laches in the sole command

of the fleet, which he now directed in concert with the allies against

Mylae, a place belonging to the Messinese. Two Messinese battalions

in garrison at Mylae laid an ambush for the party landing from the

ships, but were routed with great slaughter by the Athenians and their

allies, who thereupon assaulted the fortification and compelled them

to surrender the Acropolis and to march with them upon Messina. This

town afterwards also submitted upon the approach of the Athenians

and their allies, and gave hostages and all other securities required.


The same summer the Athenians sent thirty ships round Peloponnese

under Demosthenes, son of Alcisthenes, and Procles, son of Theodorus,

and sixty others, with two thousand heavy infantry, against Melos,

under Nicias, son of Niceratus; wishing to reduce the Melians, who,

although islanders, refused to be subjects of Athens or even to join

her confederacy. The devastation of their land not procuring their

submission, the fleet, weighing from Melos, sailed to Oropus in the

territory of Graea, and landing at nightfall, the heavy infantry started

at once from the ships by land for Tanagra in Boeotia, where they

were met by the whole levy from Athens, agreeably to a concerted signal,

under the command of Hipponicus, son of Callias, and Eurymedon, son

of Thucles. They encamped, and passing that day in ravaging the Tanagraean

territory, remained there for the night; and next day, after defeating

those of the Tanagraeans who sailed out against them and some Thebans

who had come up to help the Tanagraeans, took some arms, set up a

trophy, and retired, the troops to the city and the others to the

ships. Nicias with his sixty ships coasted alongshore and ravaged

the Locrian seaboard, and so returned home.


About this time the Lacedaemonians founded their colony of Heraclea

in Trachis, their object being the following: the Malians form in

all three tribes, the Paralians, the Hiereans, and the Trachinians.

The last of these having suffered severely in a war with their neighbours

the Oetaeans, at first intended to give themselves up to Athens; but

afterwards fearing not to find in her the security that they sought,

sent to Lacedaemon, having chosen Tisamenus for their ambassador.

In this embassy joined also the Dorians from the mother country of

the Lacedaemonians, with the same request, as they themselves also

suffered from the same enemy. After hearing them, the Lacedaemonians

determined to send out the colony, wishing to assist the Trachinians

and Dorians, and also because they thought that the proposed town

would lie conveniently for the purposes of the war against the Athenians.

A fleet might be got ready there against Euboea, with the advantage

of a short passage to the island; and the town would also be useful

as a station on the road to Thrace. In short, everything made the

Lacedaemonians eager to found the place. After first consulting the

god at Delphi and receiving a favourable answer, they sent off the

colonists, Spartans, and Perioeci, inviting also any of the rest of

the Hellenes who might wish to accompany them, except Ionians, Achaeans,

and certain other nationalities; three Lacedaemonians leading as founders

of the colony, Leon, Alcidas, and Damagon. The settlement effected,

they fortified anew the city, now called Heraclea, distant about four

miles and a half from Thermopylae and two miles and a quarter from

the sea, and commenced building docks, closing the side towards Thermopylae

just by the pass itself, in order that they might be easily defended.


The foundation of this town, evidently meant to annoy Euboea (the

passage across to Cenaeum in that island being a short one), at first

caused some alarm at Athens, which the event however did nothing to

justify, the town never giving them any trouble. The reason of this

was as follows. The Thessalians, who were sovereign in those parts,

and whose territory was menaced by its foundation, were afraid that

it might prove a very powerful neighbour, and accordingly continually

harassed and made war upon the new settlers, until they at last wore

them out in spite of their originally considerable numbers, people

flocking from all quarters to a place founded by the Lacedaemonians,

and thus thought secure of prosperity. On the other hand the Lacedaemonians

themselves, in the persons of their governors, did their full share

towards ruining its prosperity and reducing its population, as they

frightened away the greater part of the inhabitants by governing harshly

and in some cases not fairly, and thus made it easier for their neighbours

to prevail against them.


The same summer, about the same time that the Athenians were detained

at Melos, their fellow citizens in the thirty ships cruising round

Peloponnese, after cutting off some guards in an ambush at Ellomenus

in Leucadia, subsequently went against Leucas itself with a large

armament, having been reinforced by the whole levy of the Acarnanians

except Oeniadae, and by the Zacynthians and Cephallenians and fifteen

ships from Corcyra. While the Leucadians witnessed the devastation

of their land, without and within the isthmus upon which the town

of Leucas and the temple of Apollo stand, without making any movement

on account of the overwhelming numbers of the enemy, the Acarnanians

urged Demosthenes, the Athenian general, to build a wall so as to

cut off the town from the continent, a measure which they were convinced

would secure its capture and rid them once and for all of a most troublesome



Demosthenes however had in the meanwhile been persuaded by the Messenians

that it was a fine opportunity for him, having so large an army assembled,

to attack the Aetolians, who were not only the enemies of Naupactus,

but whose reduction would further make it easy to gain the rest of

that part of the continent for the Athenians. The Aetolian nation,

although numerous and warlike, yet dwelt in unwalled villages scattered

far apart, and had nothing but light armour, and might, according

to the Messenians, be subdued without much difficulty before succours

could arrive. The plan which they recommended was to attack first

the Apodotians, next the Ophionians, and after these the Eurytanians,

who are the largest tribe in Aetolia, and speak, as is said, a language

exceedingly difficult to understand, and eat their flesh raw. These

once subdued, the rest would easily come in.


To this plan Demosthenes consented, not only to please the Messenians,

but also in the belief that by adding the Aetolians to his other continental

allies he would be able, without aid from home, to march against the

Boeotians by way of Ozolian Locris to Kytinium in Doris, keeping Parnassus

on his right until he descended to the Phocians, whom he could force

to join him if their ancient friendship for Athens did not, as he

anticipated, at once decide them to do so. Arrived in Phocis he was

already upon the frontier of Boeotia. He accordingly weighed from

Leucas, against the wish of the Acarnanians, and with his whole armament

sailed along the coast to Sollium, where he communicated to them his

intention; and upon their refusing to agree to it on account of the

non-investment of Leucas, himself with the rest of the forces, the

Cephallenians, the Messenians, and Zacynthians, and three hundred

Athenian marines from his own ships (the fifteen Corcyraean vessels

having departed), started on his expedition against the Aetolians.

His base he established at Oeneon in Locris, as the Ozolian Locrians

were allies of Athens and were to meet him with all their forces in

the interior. Being neighbours of the Aetolians and armed in the same

way, it was thought that they would be of great service upon the expedition,

from their acquaintance with the localities and the warfare of the



After bivouacking with the army in the precinct of Nemean Zeus, in

which the poet Hesiod is said to have been killed by the people of

the country, according to an oracle which had foretold that he should

die in Nemea, Demosthenes set out at daybreak to invade Aetolia. The

first day he took Potidania, the next Krokyle, and the third Tichium,

where he halted and sent back the booty to Eupalium in Locris, having

determined to pursue his conquests as far as the Ophionians, and,

in the event of their refusing to submit, to return to Naupactus and

make them the objects of a second expedition. Meanwhile the Aetolians

had been aware of his design from the moment of its formation, and

as soon as the army invaded their country came up in great force with

all their tribes; even the most remote Ophionians, the Bomiensians,

and Calliensians, who extend towards the Malian Gulf, being among

the number.


The Messenians, however, adhered to their original advice. Assuring

Demosthenes that the Aetolians were an easy conquest, they urged him

to push on as rapidly as possible, and to try to take the villages

as fast as he came up to them, without waiting until the whole nation

should be in arms against him. Led on by his advisers and trusting

in his fortune, as he had met with no opposition, without waiting

for his Locrian reinforcements, who were to have supplied him with

the light-armed darters in which he was most deficient, he advanced

and stormed Aegitium, the inhabitants flying before him and posting

themselves upon the hills above the town, which stood on high ground

about nine miles from the sea. Meanwhile the Aetolians had gathered

to the rescue, and now attacked the Athenians and their allies, running

down from the hills on every side and darting their javelins, falling

back when the Athenian army advanced, and coming on as it retired;

and for a long while the battle was of this character, alternate advance

and retreat, in both which operations the Athenians had the worst.


Still as long as their archers had arrows left and were able to use

them, they held out, the light-armed Aetolians retiring before the

arrows; but after the captain of the archers had been killed and his

men scattered, the soldiers, wearied out with the constant repetition

of the same exertions and hard pressed by the Aetolians with their

javelins, at last turned and fled, and falling into pathless gullies

and places that they were unacquainted with, thus perished, the Messenian

Chromon, their guide, having also unfortunately been killed. A great

many were overtaken in the pursuit by the swift-footed and light-armed

Aetolians, and fell beneath their javelins; the greater number however

missed their road and rushed into the wood, which had no ways out,

and which was soon fired and burnt round them by the enemy. Indeed

the Athenian army fell victims to death in every form, and suffered

all the vicissitudes of flight; the survivors escaped with difficulty

to the sea and Oeneon in Locris, whence they had set out. Many of

the allies were killed, and about one hundred and twenty Athenian

heavy infantry, not a man less, and all in the prime of life. These

were by far the best men in the city of Athens that fell during this

war. Among the slain was also Procles, the colleague of Demosthenes.

Meanwhile the Athenians took up their dead under truce from the Aetolians,

and retired to Naupactus, and from thence went in their ships to Athens;

Demosthenes staying behind in Naupactus and in the neighbourhood,

being afraid to face the Athenians after the disaster.


About the same time the Athenians on the coast of Sicily sailed to

Locris, and in a descent which they made from the ships defeated the

Locrians who came against them, and took a fort upon the river Halex.


The same summer the Aetolians, who before the Athenian expedition

had sent an embassy to Corinth and Lacedaemon, composed of Tolophus,

an Ophionian, Boriades, an Eurytanian, and Tisander, an Apodotian,

obtained that an army should be sent them against Naupactus, which

had invited the Athenian invasion. The Lacedaemonians accordingly

sent off towards autumn three thousand heavy infantry of the allies,

five hundred of whom were from Heraclea, the newly founded city in

Trachis, under the command of Eurylochus, a Spartan, accompanied by

Macarius and Menedaius, also Spartans.


The army having assembled at Delphi, Eurylochus sent a herald to the

Ozolian Locrians; the road to Naupactus lying through their territory,

and he having besides conceived the idea of detaching them from Athens.

His chief abettors in Locris were the Amphissians, who were alarmed

at the hostility of the Phocians. These first gave hostages themselves,

and induced the rest to do the same for fear of the invading army;

first, their neighbours the Myonians, who held the most difficult

of the passes, and after them the Ipnians, Messapians, Tritaeans,

Chalaeans, Tolophonians, Hessians, and Oeanthians, all of whom joined

in the expedition; the Olpaeans contenting themselves with giving

hostages, without accompanying the invasion; and the Hyaeans refusing

to do either, until the capture of Polis, one of their villages.


His preparations completed, Eurylochus lodged the hostages in Kytinium,

in Doris, and advanced upon Naupactus through the country of the Locrians,

taking upon his way Oeneon and Eupalium, two of their towns that refused

to join him. Arrived in the Naupactian territory, and having been

now joined by the Aetolians, the army laid waste the land and took

the suburb of the town, which was unfortified; and after this Molycrium

also, a Corinthian colony subject to Athens. Meanwhile the Athenian

Demosthenes, who since the affair in Aetolia had remained near Naupactus,

having had notice of the army and fearing for the town, went and persuaded

the Acarnanians, although not without difficulty because of his departure

from Leucas, to go to the relief of Naupactus. They accordingly sent

with him on board his ships a thousand heavy infantry, who threw themselves

into the place and saved it; the extent of its wall and the small

number of its defenders otherwise placing it in the greatest danger.

Meanwhile Eurylochus and his companions, finding that this force had

entered and that it was impossible to storm the town, withdrew, not

to Peloponnese, but to the country once called Aeolis, and now Calydon

and Pleuron, and to the places in that neighbourhood, and Proschium

in Aetolia; the Ambraciots having come and urged them to combine with

them in attacking Amphilochian Argos and the rest of Amphilochia and

Acarnania; affirming that the conquest of these countries would bring

all the continent into alliance with Lacedaemon. To this Eurylochus

consented, and dismissing the Aetolians, now remained quiet with his

army in those parts, until the time should come for the Ambraciots

to take the field, and for him to join them before Argos.


Summer was now over. The winter ensuing, the Athenians in Sicily with

their Hellenic allies, and such of the Sicel subjects or allies of

Syracuse as had revolted from her and joined their army, marched against

the Sicel town Inessa, the acropolis of which was held by the Syracusans,

and after attacking it without being able to take it, retired. In

the retreat, the allies retreating after the Athenians were attacked

by the Syracusans from the fort, and a large part of their army routed

with great slaughter. After this, Laches and the Athenians from the

ships made some descents in Locris, and defeating the Locrians, who

came against them with Proxenus, son of Capaton, upon the river Caicinus,

took some arms and departed.


The same winter the Athenians purified Delos, in compliance, it appears,

with a certain oracle. It had been purified before by Pisistratus

the tyrant; not indeed the whole island, but as much of it as could

be seen from the temple. All of it was, however, now purified in the

following way. All the sepulchres of those that had died in Delos

were taken up, and for the future it was commanded that no one should

be allowed either to die or to give birth to a child in the island;

but that they should be carried over to Rhenea, which is so near to

Delos that Polycrates, tyrant of Samos, having added Rhenea to his

other island conquests during his period of naval ascendancy, dedicated

it to the Delian Apollo by binding it to Delos with a chain.


The Athenians, after the purification, celebrated, for the first time,

the quinquennial festival of the Delian games. Once upon a time, indeed,

there was a great assemblage of the Ionians and the neighbouring islanders

at Delos, who used to come to the festival, as the Ionians now do

to that of Ephesus, and athletic and poetical contests took place

there, and the cities brought choirs of dancers. Nothing can be clearer

on this point than the following verses of Homer, taken from a hymn

to Apollo:


Phoebus, wherever thou strayest, far or near,

Delos was still of all thy haunts most dear.

Thither the robed Ionians take their way

With wife and child to keep thy holiday,

Invoke thy favour on each manly game,

And dance and sing in honour of thy name.


That there was also a poetical contest in which the Ionians went to

contend, again is shown by the following, taken from the same hymn.

After celebrating the Delian dance of the women, he ends his song

of praise with these verses, in which he also alludes to himself:


Well, may Apollo keep you all! and so,

Sweethearts, good-bye- yet tell me not I go

Out from your hearts; and if in after hours

Some other wanderer in this world of ours

Touch at your shores, and ask your maidens here

Who sings the songs the sweetest to your ear,

Think of me then, and answer with a smile,

‘A blind old man of Scio’s rocky isle.’


Homer thus attests that there was anciently a great assembly and festival

at Delos. In later times, although the islanders and the Athenians

continued to send the choirs of dancers with sacrifices, the contests

and most of the ceremonies were abolished, probably through adversity,

until the Athenians celebrated the games upon this occasion with the

novelty of horse-races.


The same winter the Ambraciots, as they had promised Eurylochus when

they retained his army, marched out against Amphilochian Argos with

three thousand heavy infantry, and invading the Argive territory occupied

Olpae, a stronghold on a hill near the sea, which had been formerly

fortified by the Acarnanians and used as the place of assizes for

their nation, and which is about two miles and three-quarters from

the city of Argos upon the sea-coast. Meanwhile the Acarnanians went

with a part of their forces to the relief of Argos, and with the rest

encamped in Amphilochia at the place called Crenae, or the Wells,

to watch for Eurylochus and his Peloponnesians, and to prevent their

passing through and effecting their junction with the Ambraciots;

while they also sent for Demosthenes, the commander of the Aetolian

expedition, to be their leader, and for the twenty Athenian ships

that were cruising off Peloponnese under the command of Aristotle,

son of Timocrates, and Hierophon, son of Antimnestus. On their part,

the Ambraciots at Olpae sent a messenger to their own city, to beg

them to come with their whole levy to their assistance, fearing that

the army of Eurylochus might not be able to pass through the Acarnanians,

and that they might themselves be obliged to fight single-handed,

or be unable to retreat, if they wished it, without danger.


Meanwhile Eurylochus and his Peloponnesians, learning that the Ambraciots

at Olpae had arrived, set out from Proschium with all haste to join

them, and crossing the Achelous advanced through Acarnania, which

they found deserted by its population, who had gone to the relief

of Argos; keeping on their right the city of the Stratians and its

garrison, and on their left the rest of Acarnania. Traversing the

territory of the Stratians, they advanced through Phytia, next, skirting

Medeon, through Limnaea; after which they left Acarnania behind them

and entered a friendly country, that of the Agraeans. From thence

they reached and crossed Mount Thymaus, which belongs to the Agraeans,

and descended into the Argive territory after nightfall, and passing

between the city of Argos and the Acarnanian posts at Crenae, joined

the Ambraciots at Olpae.


Uniting here at daybreak, they sat down at the place called Metropolis,

and encamped. Not long afterwards the Athenians in the twenty ships

came into the Ambracian Gulf to support the Argives, with Demosthenes

and two hundred Messenian heavy infantry, and sixty Athenian archers.

While the fleet off Olpae blockaded the hill from the sea, the Acarnanians

and a few of the Amphilochians, most of whom were kept back by force

by the Ambraciots, had already arrived at Argos, and were preparing

to give battle to the enemy, having chosen Demosthenes to command

the whole of the allied army in concert with their own generals. Demosthenes

led them near to Olpae and encamped, a great ravine separating the

two armies. During five days they remained inactive; on the sixth

both sides formed in order of battle. The army of the Peloponnesians

was the largest and outflanked their opponents; and Demosthenes fearing

that his right might be surrounded, placed in ambush in a hollow way

overgrown with bushes some four hundred heavy infantry and light troops,

who were to rise up at the moment of the onset behind the projecting

left wing of the enemy, and to take them in the rear. When both sides

were ready they joined battle; Demosthenes being on the right wing

with the Messenians and a few Athenians, while the rest of the line

was made up of the different divisions of the Acarnanians, and of

the Amphilochian carters. The Peloponnesians and Ambraciots were drawn

up pell-mell together, with the exception of the Mantineans, who were

massed on the left, without however reaching to the extremity of the

wing, where Eurylochus and his men confronted the Messenians and Demosthenes.


The Peloponnesians were now well engaged and with their outflanking

wing were upon the point of turning their enemy’s right; when the

Acarnanians from the ambuscade set upon them from behind, and broke

them at the first attack, without their staying to resist; while the

panic into which they fell caused the flight of most of their army,

terrified beyond measure at seeing the division of Eurylochus and

their best troops cut to pieces. Most of the work was done by Demosthenes

and his Messenians, who were posted in this part of the field. Meanwhile

the Ambraciots (who are the best soldiers in those countries) and

the troops upon the right wing, defeated the division opposed to them

and pursued it to Argos. Returning from the pursuit, they found their

main body defeated; and hard pressed by the Acarnanians, with difficulty

made good their passage to Olpae, suffering heavy loss on the way,

as they dashed on without discipline or order, the Mantineans excepted,

who kept their ranks best of any in the army during the retreat.


The battle did not end until the evening. The next day Menedaius,

who on the death of Eurylochus and Macarius had succeeded to the sole

command, being at a loss after so signal a defeat how to stay and

sustain a siege, cut off as he was by land and by the Athenian fleet

by sea, and equally so how to retreat in safety, opened a parley with

Demosthenes and the Acarnanian generals for a truce and permission

to retreat, and at the same time for the recovery of the dead. The

dead they gave back to him, and setting up a trophy took up their

own also to the number of about three hundred. The retreat demanded

they refused publicly to the army; but permission to depart without

delay was secretly granted to the Mantineans and to Menedaius and

the other commanders and principal men of the Peloponnesians by Demosthenes

and his Acarnanian colleagues; who desired to strip the Ambraciots

and the mercenary host of foreigners of their supporters; and, above

all, to discredit the Lacedaemonians and Peloponnesians with the Hellenes

in those parts, as traitors and self-seekers.


While the enemy was taking up his dead and hastily burying them as

he could, and those who obtained permission were secretly planning

their retreat, word was brought to Demosthenes and the Acarnanians

that the Ambraciots from the city, in compliance with the first message

from Olpae, were on the march with their whole levy through Amphilochia

to join their countrymen at Olpae, knowing nothing of what had occurred.

Demosthenes prepared to march with his army against them, and meanwhile

sent on at once a strong division to beset the roads and occupy the

strong positions. In the meantime the Mantineans and others included

in the agreement went out under the pretence of gathering herbs and

firewood, and stole off by twos and threes, picking on the way the

things which they professed to have come out for, until they had gone

some distance from Olpae, when they quickened their pace. The Ambraciots

and such of the rest as had accompanied them in larger parties, seeing

them going on, pushed on in their turn, and began running in order

to catch them up. The Acarnanians at first thought that all alike

were departing without permission, and began to pursue the Peloponnesians;

and believing that they were being betrayed, even threw a dart or

two at some of their generals who tried to stop them and told them

that leave had been given. Eventually, however, they let pass the

Mantineans and Peloponnesians, and slew only the Ambraciots, there

being much dispute and difficulty in distinguishing whether a man

was an Ambraciot or a Peloponnesian. The number thus slain was about

two hundred; the rest escaped into the bordering territory of Agraea,

and found refuge with Salynthius, the friendly king of the Agraeans.


Meanwhile the Ambraciots from the city arrived at Idomene. Idomene

consists of two lofty hills, the higher of which the troops sent on

by Demosthenes succeeded in occupying after nightfall, unobserved

by the Ambraciots, who had meanwhile ascended the smaller and bivouacked

under it. After supper Demosthenes set out with the rest of the army,

as soon as it was evening; himself with half his force making for

the pass, and the remainder going by the Amphilochian hills. At dawn

he fell upon the Ambraciots while they were still abed, ignorant of

what had passed, and fully thinking that it was their own countrymen-

Demosthenes having purposely put the Messenians in front with orders

to address them in the Doric dialect, and thus to inspire confidence

in the sentinels, who would not be able to see them as it was still

night. In this way he routed their army as soon as he attacked it,

slaying most of them where they were, the rest breaking away in flight

over the hills. The roads, however, were already occupied, and while

the Amphilochians knew their own country, the Ambraciots were ignorant

of it and could not tell which way to turn, and had also heavy armour

as against a light-armed enemy, and so fell into ravines and into

the ambushes which had been set for them, and perished there. In their

manifold efforts to escape some even turned to the sea, which was

not far off, and seeing the Athenian ships coasting alongshore just

while the action was going on, swam off to them, thinking it better

in the panic they were in, to perish, if perish they must, by the

hands of the Athenians, than by those of the barbarous and detested

Amphilochians. Of the large Ambraciot force destroyed in this manner,

a few only reached the city in safety; while the Acarnanians, after

stripping the dead and setting up a trophy, returned to Argos.


The next day arrived a herald from the Ambraciots who had fled from

Olpae to the Agraeans, to ask leave to take up the dead that had fallen

after the first engagement, when they left the camp with the Mantineans

and their companions, without, like them, having had permission to

do so. At the sight of the arms of the Ambraciots from the city, the

herald was astonished at their number, knowing nothing of the disaster

and fancying that they were those of their own party. Some one asked

him what he was so astonished at, and how many of them had been killed,

fancying in his turn that this was the herald from the troops at Idomene.

He replied: «About two hundred»; upon which his interrogator took

him up, saying: «Why, the arms you see here are of more than a thousand.»

The herald replied: «Then they are not the arms of those who fought

with us?» The other answered: «Yes, they are, if at least you fought

at Idomene yesterday.» «But we fought with no one yesterday; but the

day before in the retreat.» «However that may be, we fought yesterday

with those who came to reinforce you from the city of the Ambraciots.»

When the herald heard this and knew that the reinforcement from the

city had been destroyed, he broke into wailing and, stunned at the

magnitude of the present evils, went away at once without having performed

his errand, or again asking for the dead bodies. Indeed, this was

by far the greatest disaster that befell any one Hellenic city in

an equal number of days during this war; and I have not set down the

number of the dead, because the amount stated seems so out of proportion

to the size of the city as to be incredible. In any case I know that

if the Acarnanians and Amphilochians had wished to take Ambracia as

the Athenians and Demosthenes advised, they would have done so without

a blow; as it was, they feared that if the Athenians had it they would

be worse neighbours to them than the present.


After this the Acarnanians allotted a third of the spoils to the Athenians,

and divided the rest among their own different towns. The share of

the Athenians was captured on the voyage home; the arms now deposited

in the Attic temples are three hundred panoplies, which the Acarnanians

set apart for Demosthenes, and which he brought to Athens in person,

his return to his country after the Aetolian disaster being rendered

less hazardous by this exploit. The Athenians in the twenty ships

also went off to Naupactus. The Acarnanians and Amphilochians, after

the departure of Demosthenes and the Athenians, granted the Ambraciots

and Peloponnesians who had taken refuge with Salynthius and the Agraeans

a free retreat from Oeniadae, to which place they had removed from

the country of Salynthius, and for the future concluded with the Ambraciots

a treaty and alliance for one hundred years, upon the terms following.

It was to be a defensive, not an offensive alliance; the Ambraciots

could not be required to march with the Acarnanians against the Peloponnesians,

nor the Acarnanians with the Ambraciots against the Athenians; for

the rest the Ambraciots were to give up the places and hostages that

they held of the Amphilochians, and not to give help to Anactorium,

which was at enmity with the Acarnanians. With this arrangement they

put an end to the war. After this the Corinthians sent a garrison

of their own citizens to Ambracia, composed of three hundred heavy

infantry, under the command of Xenocleides, son of Euthycles, who

reached their destination after a difficult journey across the continent.

Such was the history of the affair of Ambracia.


The same winter the Athenians in Sicily made a descent from their

ships upon the territory of Himera, in concert with the Sicels, who

had invaded its borders from the interior, and also sailed to the

islands of Aeolus. Upon their return to Rhegium they found the Athenian

general, Pythodorus, son of Isolochus, come to supersede Laches in

the command of the fleet. The allies in Sicily had sailed to Athens

and induced the Athenians to send out more vessels to their assistance,

pointing out that the Syracusans who already commanded their land

were making efforts to get together a navy, to avoid being any longer

excluded from the sea by a few vessels. The Athenians proceeded to

man forty ships to send to them, thinking that the war in Sicily would

thus be the sooner ended, and also wishing to exercise their navy.

One of the generals, Pythodorus, was accordingly sent out with a few

ships; Sophocles, son of Sostratides, and Eurymedon, son of Thucles,

being destined to follow with the main body. Meanwhile Pythodorus

had taken the command of Laches’ ships, and towards the end of winter

sailed against the Locrian fort, which Laches had formerly taken,

and returned after being defeated in battle by the Locrians.


In the first days of this spring, the stream of fire issued from Etna,

as on former occasions, and destroyed some land of the Catanians,

who live upon Mount Etna, which is the largest mountain in Sicily.

Fifty years, it is said, had elapsed since the last eruption, there

having been three in all since the Hellenes have inhabited Sicily.

Such were the events of this winter; and with it ended the sixth year

of this war, of which Thucydides was the historian.