IN the following summer, when the corn was in full ear, the Peloponnesians and their allies, under the command of Archidamus, the son of Zeuxidamus, the Lacedaemonian king, invaded Attica, and encamping wasted the country. The Athenian cavalry as usual attacked them whenever an opportunity offered, and prevented the great body of the light-armed troops from going beyond their lines and injuring the lands near the city. The invaders remained until their supplies were exhausted; they were then disbanded, and returned to their several homes.
No sooner had the Peloponnesians quitted Attica than the whole people of Lesbos, with the exception of the Methymnaeans, revolted from Athens. They had entertained the design before the war began, but the Lacedaemonians gave them no encouragement. And now they were not ready, and were compelled to revolt sooner than they had intended. For they were waiting until they had completed the work of closing their harbours, raising walls, and building ships, and they had not as yet received from Pontus the force of archers, the corn and the other supplies for which they had sent. But the inhabitants of Tenedos, who were not on good terms with them, and the Methymnaeans, and individual citizens who were of the opposite faction and were proxeni of Athens, turned informers and told the Athenians that the Mytilenaeans were forcibly making Mytilenè the centre of government for the whole island; that the preparations which they were pressing forward had been throughout undertaken by them in concert with the Lacedaemonians and with their Boeotian kinsmen, and meant revolt; and that if something were not immediately done, Lesbos would be lost to Athens.
The Athenians, who were suffering severely from the plague and from the war, of which they had begun to feel the full effects, reflected that it was a serious matter to bring upon themselves a second war with a naval power like Lesbos, whose resources were unimpaired; and so, mainly because they wished that the charges might not be true, they at first refused to listen to them. But, when they had sent envoys to Mytilenè and found that the Mytilenaeans, in spite of remonstrances, continued their preparations and persisted in the attempt to concentrate the government in Mytilenè, they took alarm and determined to be beforehand with them. Without losing a moment, they sent to Lesbos, under the command of Cleïppides the son of Deinias, and two others, forty ships which had been intended to cruise about Peloponnesus. They had heard that there was a festival of Apollo Maloeis held outside the walls in which the whole population took part, and that if they made haste they might hope to surprise them. The attempt would very likely succeed; but, if not, they might bid the Mytilenaeans give up their fleet and dismantle their walls, and in case they refused they might go to war with them. So the ships sailed; and as there happened to be at Athens ten Mytilenaean triremes, serving in accordance with the terms of the alliance, the Athenians seized them and threw their crews into prison. But the Mytilenaeans were warned by a messenger from Athens, who crossed to Euboea and went on foot to Geraestus; there he found a merchant vessel just about to sail; he took ship, and arriving at Mytilenè on the third day after he left Athens, announced the coming of the Athenian fleet. Whereupon the Mytilenaeans abstained from going out to the temple of Apollo Maloeis. They also kept good watch about their walls and harbours, and barricaded the unfinished works.
Soon afterwards the Athenians arrived. The commanders of the fleet, seeing that they were foiled, delivered the message entrusted to them; the city refused to yield and they commenced hostilities. Taken by surprise, and unprepared for the war which was forced upon them, the Mytilenaeans came out once and made a show of fighting a little in front of the harbour; but they were soon driven back by the Athenian ships, and then they began to parley with the generals, in the hope of obtaining tolerable terms of some kind, and getting rid of the fleet for the time. The Athenian generals accepted their proposals, they too fearing that they were not strong enough to make war against the whole island. Having got the armistice, the Mytilenaeans sent envoys to Athens; one of them was a person who had given information against his fellow-citizens, but was now repentant. They had a faint hope that the Athenians would be induced to withdraw their ships and believe in their good intentions. But as they did not really expect to succeed in their Athenian mission, they also sent an embassy to Lacedaemon, unperceived by the Athenian fleet, which was stationed at Malea to the north of the city.1 After a troublesome voyage through the open sea, the envoys arrived at Lacedaemon and solicited aid for their countrymen.
The other envoys who had been sent to Athens met with no success. When they returned, the Mytilenaeans and the rest of Lesbos, with the exception of Methymna, commenced hostilities; the Methymnaeans, with the Imbrians, Lemnians, and a few of the allies, had come to the support of the Athenians. The Mytilenaeans with their whole force sallied out against the Athenian camp, and a battle took place, in which they got the better; but they had no confidence in themselves, and, instead of encamping on the field, retired. They then remained quiet, being unwilling to risk an engagement without the additional help which they were expecting from Peloponnesus and elsewhere. For Meleas a Lacedaemonian, and Hermaeondas a Theban, had now arrived at Mytilenè; they had been sent before the revolt, but the Athenian fleet anticipated them, and they sailed in by stealth after the battle in a single trireme. The envoys recommended the Mytilenaeans to send an embassy of their own in another trireme to accompany them on their return to Sparta; which they accordingly did.
The Athenians, greatly encouraged by the inactivity of their adversaries, summoned their allies, who came all the more readily because they saw that the Lesbians displayed no energy. They then anchored the fleet round the south of the city, and having fortified two camps, one on either side of it, they established a blockade of both the harbours. Thus they excluded the Mytilenaeans from the sea. They likewise held the country in the immediate neighbourhood of their two camps; but the Mytilenaeans and the other Lesbians, who had now taken up arms, were masters of the rest of the island. At Malea the Athenians had, not a camp, but a station for their ships and for their market.
Such was the course of the war in Lesbos. In the same summer, and about the same time, the Athenians sent thirty ships to Peloponnesus; they were placed under the command of Asopius, the son of Phormio; for the Acarnanians had desired them to send out a son or relation of Phormio to be their leader. The ships in passing ravaged the coast of Laconia, and then Asopius sent most of them home, but kept twelve, with which he sailed to Naupactus. Next he made a general levy of the Acarnanians and led his forces against Oeniadae, his ships sailing up the river Achelous, while his army ravaged the country by land. As the inhabitants refused to yield, he disbanded his land-forces, but himself sailed to Leucas and made a descent upon Nericus, where he and part of his army in returning to their ships were slain by the inhabitants, assisted by a few Peloponnesian guards. The Athenians then put to sea, and received their dead from the Leucadians under a flag of truce.
The envoys whom the Mytilenaeans had sent out in their first vessel were told by the Lacedaemonians to come to the Olympic festival, in order that the allies, as well as themselves, might hear them and determine what should be done. So they went to Olympia. The Olympiad was that in which the Rhodian Dorieus won his second victory. When the festival was over, the allies met in council, and the ambassadors spoke as follows:
'We know, Lacedaemonians and allies, that all Hellenes entertain a fixed sentiment against those who in time of war revolt and desert an old alliance. Their new allies are delighted with them in as far as they profit by their aid; but they do not respect them, for they deem them traitors to their former friends. And this opinion is reasonable enough; but only when the rebels, and those from whom they sever themselves, are naturally united by the same interests and feelings and equally matched in power and resources, and when there is no reasonable excuse for a revolt. But our relation to the Athenians was of another sort, and no one should be severe upon us for deserting them in the hour of danger although we were honoured by them in time of peace.
'Since an alliance is our object, we will first address ourselves to the question of justice and honour. We know that no friendship between man and man, no league between city and city, can ever be permanent unless the friends or allies have a good opinion of each other's honesty, and are similar in general character. For the diversity in men's minds makes the difference in their actions.
'Now our alliance with the Athenians first began when you ceased to take part in the Persian War, and they remained to complete the work. But we were never the allies of the Athenians in their design of subjugating Hellas; we were really the allies of the Hellenes, whom we sought to liberate from the Persians. And while in the exercise of their command they claimed no supremacy, we were very ready to follow them, But our fears began to be aroused when we saw them relaxing their efforts against the Persians and imposing the yoke of their dominion upon the allies, who could not unite and defend themselves, for their interests were too various. And so they were all enslaved, except ourselves and the Chians. We forsooth were independent allies, free men--that was the word--who fought at their side. But, judging from previous examples, how could we any longer have confidence in our leaders? For they had subjugated others to whom, equally with ourselves, their faith was pledged; and how could we who survived expect to be spared if ever they had the power to destroy us?
'Had all the allies retained their independence,we should have had better assurance that they would leave us as we were; but when the majority had been subjugated by them, they might naturally be expected to take offence at our footing of equality; they would contrast us who alone maintained this equality with the majority who had submitted to them; they would also observe that in proportion as their strength was increasing, our isolation was increasing too. Mutual fear is the only solid basis of alliance; for he who would break faith is deterred from aggression by the consciousness of inferiority. And why were we left independent? Only because they thought that to gain an empire they must use fair words and win their way by policy and not by violence. On the one hand, our position was a witness to their character. For, having an equal vote with them, we could not be supposed to have fought in their wars against our will, but those whom they attacked must have been in the wrong. On the other hand, they were thus enabled to use the powerful against the weak; they thought that they would leave us to the last; when the lesser states were removed, the stronger would fall an easier prey. But if they had begun with us while the power of the allies was still intact, and we might have afforded a rallying-point, they would not so easily have mastered them. Besides, our navy caused them some apprehension; they were afraid that we might join you, or some other great power, and that the union would be dangerous to them. For a time, too, we saved ourselves by paying court to the people and to the popular leaders of the day. But we were not likely to have survived long, judging by the conduct of the Athenians towards others, if this war had not arisen.
'What trust then could we repose in such a friendship or such a freedom as this? The civility which we showed to one another was at variance with our real feelings. They courted us in time of war because they were afraid of us, and we in time of peace paid a like attention to them. And the faith which is generally assured by mutual good-will had with us no other bond but mutual fear; from fear, and not from love, we were constrained to maintain the alliance, and whichever of us first thought that he could safely venture would assuredly have been the first to break it. And therefore if any one imagines that we do wrong in striking first, because they delay the blow which we dread, and thinks that we should wait and make quite sure of their intentions, he is mistaken. If we were really on an equality with them and in a position to counteract their designs and imitate their threatening attitude, how was it consistent with this equality that we had still to be at their mercy? The power of attack is always in their hands, and the power of anticipating attack should always be in ours.
'These were the reasons, Lacedaemonians and allies, and the grievances which led us to revolt. They were clear enough to prove to all hearers the justice of our cause, and strong enough to alarm us and drive us to seek some deliverance. We have acted from no sudden impulse; long ago, before the war began, we sent envoys to you, and proposed to revolt. But we could not, because you refused our request. Now, however, when the Boeotians have invited us, we have at once obeyed the call. We were intending to make a double severance of ourselves, from the Hellenes and from the Athenians; from the guilt, that is, of oppressing the Hellenes, in concert with the Athenians, instead of aiding in their liberation, and from the ruin which the Athenians were sooner or later sure to bring upon us, unless we anticipated them. But the step has been taken hastily and without due preparation; hence you are the more bound to receive us into alliance and to send us speedy help, thereby showing that you are ready to protect those who have claims upon you and to strike a blow at your enemies. Never was there such an opportunity before. The Athenians are exhausted by pestilence and by a costly war; some of their ships are cruising about your shores; the remainder are threatening us; so that they are not likely to have many to spare if you, in the course of this summer, make a second attack upon them by land and by sea. They will not be able to meet you at sea; or, if they do, they will have to withdraw their forces both from Lesbos and from Peloponnesus. And let no one say to himself that he is going to incur a danger which will be his own on behalf of a country which is not his own. He may think that Lesbos is a long way off; but he will find that the help which we bring will be very near him. For the war will not be fought in Attica, as might be imagined; but in those countries by which Attica is supported. The revenues of the Athenians are derived from their allies, and, if they subdue us, will be greater than ever; no one will revolt again, and our resources will be added to theirs; and we shall suffer worse things than those who have been enslaved already. But, if you assist us heartily, you will gain the alliance of a great naval power, and a navy is your chief want; you will draw away the allies of the Athenians, who will fearlessly come over to you; thus you will more easily overthrow the power of Athens. And you will no longer incur, as in times past, the reproach of deserting those who revolt.2 If you come forward as their liberators your final triumph will be assured.
'Do not then for very shame frustrate the hopes which the Hellenes rest on you, or dishonour the name of Olympian Zeus in whose temple we are in a manner suppliants, but be our allies and helpers. Do not betray us; we, the people of Mytilenè, risk our lives alone in the common cause of Hellas: universal will be the benefit which we confer if we succeed, and still more universal the ruin if you are inflexible and we fall. Wherefore prove yourselves worthy of your reputation in Hellas, and be such as we in our fear would have you.'
These were the words of the Mytilenaeans.
The Lacedaemonians and the allies immediately accepted their proposals and took the Lesbians into alliance. The confederates, who were present at Olympia, were told to make ready quickly for another expedition into Attica, and to assemble at the isthmus, bringing the usual contingent of two-thirds. The Lacedaemonians arrived first, and at once set to work making machines for hauling ships over the isthmus, from Corinth to the Saronic Gulf. For they intended to attack the Athenians both by sea and land. But although they were energetic themselves, the other allies assembled slowly; they were gathering in their fruits and in no mood for war.
The Athenians, perceiving that the activity of the Lacedaemonians was due to a conviction of their weakness, determined to show them their mistake, and to prove that, without moving the fleet from Lesbos, they were fully able to repel this new force which threatened them. They manned a hundred ships, in which they embarked, both metics and citizens,3 all but the highest class and the Knights; they then set sail, and, after displaying their strength along the shores of the isthmus, made descents upon the Peloponnesian coast wherever they pleased. The Lacedaemonians were astounded, and thought that the Lesbians had told them what was not true. Their allies too had not yet arrived, and they heard that the Athenians in the thirty ships4 which had been sent to cruise around Peloponnesus were wasting their country districts; and so, not knowing what else to do, they returned home. However, they afterwards prepared a fleet to go to Lesbos, and ordered the allies to equip forty ships: these they placed under the command of Alcidas, who was to take them out. When the Athenians saw that the Peloponnesians had gone home, they and their fleet of a hundred ships did the same.
At the time when the fleet was at sea, the Athenians had the largest number of ships which they ever had all together, effective and in good trim, although the mere number was as large or even larger at the commencement of the war. For then there were a hundred which guarded Attica, Euboea, and Salamis, and another hundred which were cruising off Peloponnesus,5 not including the ships employed in blockading Potidaea and at other places; so that in one and the same summer their fleet in all numbered two hundred and fifty. This and the money spent in the war against Potidaea was the chief call upon their treasury. Every one of the hoplites engaged in the siege received two drachmae6 a day, one for himself, and one for his servant; the original force amounted to three thousand,7 and this number was maintained as long as the siege lasted. Sixteen hundred more came with Phormio, but went away before the end.8 The sailors in the fleet all received the same pay as the soldiers. So great was the drain on the resources of the Athenians in the early part of the war, and such was the largest number of ships which they ever manned.
While the Lacedaemonians were at the isthmus, the Mytilenaeans and their auxiliaries marched against Methymna, which they expected to be betrayed to them, but, making an assault, and finding that they were mistaken, they went off to Antissa, Pyrrha, and Eresus; and, having strengthened the walls of these places and established their interest in them, they hastily returned. As soon as they had retired, the Methymnaeans retaliated by making an expedition against Antissa; but the people of Antissa and their auxiliaries sallied out and defeated them with heavy loss; the survivors made a hasty retreat. The Athenians heard that the Mytilenaeans were masters of the country, and that their own troops in Lesbos were not sufficient to confine them within the walls. So about the beginning of autumn they sent to Mytilenè, under the command of Paches the son of Epicurus, a thousand Athenian hoplites who handled the oars themselves. On arriving, they surrounded the town with a single line of wall; and in some strong places forts were erected which formed part of the wall. Thus Mytilenè was effectually blockaded both by sea and by land. The winter now began to set in.
The Athenians, being in want of money to carry on the siege, raised among themselves for the first time a property-tax of two hundred talents,9 and sent out twelve ships to collect tribute among the allies, under the command of Lysicles and four others. He sailed to various places and exacted tribute; but as he was going up from Myus in Caria, through the plain of the Maeander, he was attacked at the hill of Sandius by the Carians and the Samians of Anaea,10 and, with a great part of his army, perished.
During the same winter the Plataeans, who were still besieged by the Peloponnesians and Boeotians, began to suffer from the failure of provisions. They had no hope of assistance from Athens and no other chance of deliverance. So they and the Athenians who were shut up with them contrived a plan of forcing their way over the enemy's walls. The idea was suggested by Theaenetus the son of Tolmides, a diviner, and Eupompidas, the son of Daïmachus, one of their generals. At first they were all desirous of joining, but afterwards half of them somehow lost heart, thinking the danger too great, and only two hundred and twenty agreed to persevere. They first made ladders equal in length to the height of the enemy's wall, which they calculated by the help of the layers of bricks on the side facing the town, at a place where the wall had accidentally not been plastered. A great many counted at once, and, although some might make mistakes, the calculation would be oftener right than wrong; for they repeated the process again and again, and, the distance not being great, they could see the wall distinctly enough for their purpose. In this manner they ascertained the proper length of the ladders, taking as a measure the thickness of the bricks.
The Peloponnesian wall was double, and consisted of an inner circle looking towards Plataea, and an outer intended to guard against an attack from Athens; they were at a distance of about sixteen feet from one another. This interval of sixteen feet was partitioned off into lodgings for the soldiers, by which the two walls were joined together, so that they appeared to form one thick wall with battlements on both sides. At every tenth battlement there were large towers, filling up the space between the walls, and extending both to the inner and outer face; there was no way at the side of the towers, but only through the middle of them. During the night, whenever there was storm and rain, the soldiers left the battlements and kept guard from the towers, which were not far from each other and were covered overhead. Such was the plan of the wall with which Plataea was invested.
When the Plataeans had completed their preparations they took advantage of a night on which there was a storm of wind and rain and no moon, and sallied forth. They were led by the authors of the attempt. First of all they crossed the ditch which surrounded the town; then they came right up to the wall of the enemy. The guard did not discover them, for the night was so dark that they could not be seen, while the clatter of the storm drowned the noise of their approach. They marched a good way apart from each other, that the clashing of their arms might not betray them; and they were lightly equipped, having the right foot bare that they might be less liable to slip in the mud. They now set about scaling the battlements, which they knew to be deserted, choosing a space between two of the towers. Those who carried the ladders went first and placed them against the wall; they were followed by twelve others, armed only with sword and breastplate, under the command of Ammeas the son of Coroebus: he was the first to mount; after him came the twelve, ascending the wall and proceeding to the towers on the right and left, six to each.11 To these succeeded more men lightly armed with short spears, others following who bore their shields, that they might have less difficulty in mounting the wall; the shields were to be handed to them as soon as they were near the enemy. A considerable number had ascended, when they were discovered by the guards in the towers. One of the Plataeans, taking hold of the battlements, threw down a tile which made a noise in falling: immediately a shout was raised and the army rushed out upon the wall; for in the dark and stormy night they did not know what the alarm meant. At the same time, in order to distract their attention, the Plataeans who were left in the city made a sally against the Peloponnesian wall on the side opposite to the place at which their friends were getting over. The besiegers were in great excitement, but every one remained at his own post, and dared not stir to give assistance, being at a loss to imagine what was happening. The three hundred who were appointed to act in any sudden emergency marched along outside the walls towards the spot from which the cry proceeded; and fire-signals indicating danger were raised towards Thebes. But the Plataeans in the city had numerous counter signals ready on the wall, which they now lighted and held up, thereby hoping to render the signals of the enemy unintelligible, that so the Thebans, misunderstanding the true state of affairs, might not arrive until the men had escaped and were in safety.
Meanwhile the Plataeans were scaling the walls. The first party had mounted, and, killing the sentinels, had gained possession of the towers on either side. Their followers now began to occupy the passages, lest the enemy should come through and fall upon them. Some of them placed ladders upon the wall against the towers, and got up more men. A shower of missiles proceeding both from the upper and lower parts of the towers kept off all assailants. Meanwhile the main body of the Plataeans, who were still below, applied to the wall many ladders at once, and, pushing down the battlements, made their way over through the space between the towers. As each man got to the other side he halted upon the edge of the ditch, whence they shot darts and arrows at any one who came along under the wall and attempted to impede their passage. When they had all passed over, those who had occupied the towers came down, the last of them not without great difficulty, and proceeded towards the ditch. By this time the three hundred were upon them; they had lights, and the Plataeans, standing on the edge of the ditch, saw them all the better out of the darkness, and shot arrows and threw darts at them where their bodies were exposed; they themselves were concealed by the darkness, while the enemy were dazed by their own lights. And so the Plataeans, down to the last man of them all, got safely over the ditch, though with great exertion and only after a hard struggle; for the ice in it was not frozen hard enough to bear, but was half water, as is commonly the case when the wind is from the east and not from the north. And the snow which the east wind brought in the night had greatly swollen the water, so that they could scarcely accomplish the passage.12 It was the violence of the storm, however, which enabled them to escape at all.
From the ditch the Plataeans, leaving on the right hand the shrine of Androcrates, ran all together along the road to Thebes. They made sure that no one would ever suspect them of having fled in the direction of their enemies. On their way they saw the Peloponnesians pursuing them with torches on the road which leads to Athens by Cithaeron and Dryoscephalae. For nearly a mile the Plataeans continued on the Theban road; they then turned off and went by the way up the mountain leading to Erythrae and Hysiae, and so, getting to the hills, they escaped to Athens. Their number was two hundred and twelve,13 though they had been originally more, for some of them went back to the city and never got over the wall; one who was an archer was taken at the outer ditch. The Peloponnesians at length gave up the pursuit and returned to their lines. But the Plataeans in the city, knowing nothing of what had happened, for those who had turned back had informed them that not one was left alive, sent out a herald at daybreak, wanting to make a truce for the burial of the dead; they then discovered the truth and returned. Thus the Plataeans scaled the wall and escaped.
At the end of the same winter Salaethus the Lacedaemonian was despatched in a trireme from Lacedaemon to Mytilenè. He sailed to Pyrrha, and thence, proceeding on foot, made his way, by the channel of a torrent at a place where the line of the Athenian wall could be crossed, undiscovered into Mytilenè. He told the government that there was to be an invasion of Attica, and that simultaneously the forty ships which were coming to their assistance would arrive at Lesbos; he himself had been sent in advance to bring the news and take charge of affairs. Whereupon the Mytilenaeans recovered their spirits, and were less disposed to make terms with the Athenians. So the winter ended, and with it the fourth year in the Peloponnesian War of which Thucydides wrote the history.
With the return of summer the Peloponnesians despatched the two and forty ships which they intended for Mytilenè in charge of Alcidas, the Lacedaemonian admiral. They and their allies then invaded Attica, in order that the Athenians, embarrassed both by sea and land, might have their attention distracted from the ships sailing to Mytilenè. Cleomenes led the invasion. He was acting in the place of his nephew, the king Pausanias, son of Pleistoanax, who was still a minor. All the country which they had previously overrun, wherever anything had grown up again, they ravaged afresh, and devastated even those districts which they had hitherto spared. This invasion caused greater distress to the Athenians than any, except the second. For the Peloponnesians, who were daily expecting to hear from Lesbos of some action on the part of the fleet, which they supposed by this time to have crossed the sea, pursued their ravages far and wide. But when none of their expectations were realised, and their food was exhausted, they retired and dispersed to their several cities.
Meanwhile the Mytilenaeans, finding as time went on that the ships from Peloponnesus never came, and that their provisions had run short, were obliged to make terms with the Athenians. The immediate cause was as follows: Salaethus himself began to despair of the arrival of the ships, and therefore he put into the hands of the common people (who had hitherto been light-armed) shields and spears, intending to lead them out against the Athenians. But, having once received arms, they would no longer obey their leaders; they gathered into knots and insisted that the nobles should bring out the corn and let all share alike; if not, they would themselves negotiate with the Athenians and surrender the city.
The magistrates, knowing that they were helpless, and that they would be in peril of their lives if they were left out of the convention, concluded a general agreement with Paches and his army, stipulating that the fate of the Mytilenaeans should be left in the hands of the Athenians at home. They were to receive him and his forces into the city; but might send an embassy to Athens on their own behalf. Until the envoys returned, Paches was not to bind, enslave, or put to death any Mytilenaean. These were the terms of the capitulation. Nevertheless, when the army entered, those Mytilenaeans who had been principally concerned with the Lacedaemonians were in an agony of fear, and could not be satisfied until they had taken refuge at the altars. Paches raised them up, and promising not to hurt them, deposited them at Tenedos until the Athenians should come to a decision. He also sent triremes to Antissa, of which he gained possession, and took such other military measures as he deemed best.
The forty ships of the Peloponnesians, which should have gone at once to Mytilenè, lost time about the Peloponnese, and proceeded very leisurely on their voyage. They arrived safely at Delos, before they were heard of at Athens; but on touching at Icarus and Myconus they found, too late, that Mytilenè was taken. Wanting to obtain certain information, they sailed to Embatum near Erythrae, which they reached, but not until seven days after the fall of Mytilenè. Having now made sure of the fact, they consulted as to what measures should next be taken, and Teutiaplus, an Elean, addressed them as follows:
'My opinion, Alcidas, and you, my fellow-commanders of the Peloponnesian forces, is that we should attack Mytilenè at once, just as we are, before our arrival is known. In all probability we shall find that men who have recently gained possession of a city will be much off their guard, and entirely so at sea, on which element they do not fear the attack of an enemy, and where at this moment we can strike with effect. Probably too their land forces, in the carelessness of victory, will be scattered up and down among the houses of the city. If we were to fall upon them suddenly by night, with the help of our friends inside, should there be any left, I have no doubt that Mytilenè would be ours. The danger should not deter us; for we should consider that the execution of a military surprise is always dangerous, and that the general who is never taken off his guard himself, and never loses an opportunity of striking at an unguarded foe, will be most likely to succeed in war.'
His words failed to convince Alcidas; whereupon some Ionian exiles and the Lesbians who were on board the fleet14 recommended that, if this enterprise appeared too hazardous, he should occupy one of the Ionian towns or the Aeolian Cymè: having thus established their head-quarters in a city, the Peloponnesians might raise the standard of revolt in Ionia. There was a good chance of success, for every one was glad of his arrival; they might cut off a main source of Athenian revenue; and although they themselves would incur expense, for the Athenians would blockade them,15 the attempt was worth making. Pissuthnes might very likely be persuaded to co-operate. But Alcidas objected to this proposal equally with the last; his only idea was, now that he had failed in saving Mytilenè, to get back as fast as he could to Peloponnesus.
Accordingly he sailed from Embatum along the coast, touching at Myonnesus in the territory of Teos; he there slew most of the captives whom he had taken on his voyage. He then put into harbour at Ephesus, where a deputation from the Samians of Anaea16 came to him. They told him that it was an ill-manner of liberating Hellas, to have put to death men who were not his enemies and were not lifting a hand against him, but were allies of Athens from necessity: if he went on in this way he would convert few of his enemies into friends, and many of his friends into enemies. He was convinced by them, and allowed such of the Chian prisoners as he had not yet put to death and some others to go free. They had been easily taken, because, when people saw the ships, instead of flying, they came close up to them under the idea that they were Athenian; the thought never entered into their minds that while the Athenians were masters of the sea, Peloponnesian ships would find their way across the Aegean to the coast of Ionia.
From Ephesus Alcidas sailed away in haste, or rather fled; for while he was at anchor near Clarus he had been sighted by the Athenian sacred vessels, Paralus and Salaminia, which happened to be on a voyage from Athens. In fear of pursuit he hurried through the open sea, determined to stop nowhere, if he could help it, until he reached Peloponnesus. News of him and his fleet was brought to Paches from the country of Erythrae, and indeed kept coming in from all sides. For Ionia not being fortified, there was great apprehension lest the Peloponnesians, as they sailed along the coast, might fall upon the cities and plunder them, even though they had no intention of remaining. And the Paralus and Salaminia reported that they had themselves seen him at Clarus. Paches eagerly gave chase and pursued him as far as the island of Patmos, but, seeing that he was no longer within reach, he returned. Not having come up with the fleet of the Peloponnesians upon the open sea, he congratulated himself that they had not been overtaken somewhere near land, where they would have been forced to put in and fortify themselves on shore, and the Athenians would have had the trouble of watching and blockading them.
As he was sailing along the coast on his return he touched at Notium, the port of Colophon. Here some inhabitants of the upper town had taken up their abode; for it had been captured by Itamenes and the Barbarians, who had been invited into the city by a certain local faction. The capture took place about the time of the second invasion of Attica. The refugees who settled in Notium again quarrelled among themselves. The one party, having introduced Arcadian and Barbarian auxiliaries whom they had obtained, from Pissuthnes, stationed them in a fortified quarter of the town; the Persian faction from the upper city of Colophon joined them and were living with them. The other party had retired from the city, and being now in exile, called in Paches. He proposed to Hippias, the commander of the Arcadians in the fortress, that they should hold a conference, undertaking, if they could not agree, to put him back in the fort, safe and sound. So he came out, and Paches kept him in custody without fetters. In the meantime he made an attack upon the unsuspecting garrison, took the fortress, and slaughtered all the Arcadians and Barbarians whom he found within. He then conducted Hippias into the fort, according to the agreement, and when he was inside seized him and shot him to death with arrows. He next handed over Notium to the Colophonians, excluding the Persian party. The Athenians afterwards gathered together all the Colophonians who could be found in the neighbouring cities and colonised the place, to which they gave laws like their own, under new founders whom they sent out from Athens.
On returning to Lesbos, Paches reduced Pyrrha and Eresus, and finding Salaethus, the Lacedaemonian governor, concealed in Mytilenè, sent him to Athens. He also sent thither the Mytilenaeans whom he had deposited in Tenedos, and any others who seemed to have been implicated in the revolt. He then dismissed the greater part of his army, and, by the aid of the remainder, settled as seemed best to him the affairs of Mytilenè and Lesbos.
When the captives arrived at Athens the Athenians instantly put Salaethus to death, although he made various offers, and among other things promised to procure the withdrawal of the Peloponnesians from Plataea which was still blockaded. Concerning the other captives a discussion was held, and in their indignation the Athenians determined to put to death not only the men then at Athens, but all the grown-up citizens of Mytilenè, and to enslave the women and children; the act of the Mytilenaeans appeared inexcusable, because they were not subjects like the other states which had revolted, but free. That Peloponnesian ships should have had the audacity to find their way to Ionia and assist the rebels contributed to increase their fury; and the action showed that the revolt was a long premeditated affair.17 So they sent a trireme to Paches announcing their determination, and bidding him put the Mytilenaeans to death at once. But on the following day a kind of remorse seized them; they began to reflect that a decree which doomed to destruction not only the guilty, but a whole city, was cruel and monstrous. The Mytilenaean envoys who were at Athens18 perceived the change of feeling, and they and the Athenians who were in their interest prevailed on the magistrates to bring the question again before the people; this they were the more willing to do, because they saw themselves that the majority of the citizens were anxious to have an opportunity given them of reconsidering their decision. An assembly was again summoned, and different opinions were expressed by different speakers. In the former assembly, Cleon the son of Cleaenetus had carried the decree condemning the Mytilenaeans to death. He was the most violent of the citizens, and at that time exercised by far the greatest influence over the people.19 And now he came forward a second time and spoke as follows:--
'I have remarked again and again that a democracy cannot manage an empire, but never more than now, when I see you regretting your condemnation of the Mytilenaeans. Having no fear or suspicion of one another in daily life,20 you deal with your allies upon the same principle, and you do not consider that whenever you yield to them out of pity or are misled by their specious tales, you are guilty of a weakness dangerous to yourselves, and receive no thanks from them. You should remember that your empire is a despotism21 exercised over unwilling subjects, who are always conspiring against you; they do not obey in return for any kindness which you do them to your own injury, but in so far as you are their masters; they have no love of you, but they are held down by force. Besides, what can be more detestable than to be perpetually changing our minds? We forget that a state in which the laws, though imperfect, are inviolable, is better off than one in which the laws are good but ineffective.22 Dullness and modesty are a more useful combination than cleverness and licence; and the more simple sort generally make better citizens than the more astute. For the latter desire to be thought wiser than the laws;23 they want to be always getting their own way in public discussions; they think that they can nowhere have a finer opportunity of displaying their intelligence,24 and their folly generally ends in the ruin of their country; whereas the others, mistrusting their own capacity, admit that the laws are wiser than themselves: they do not pretend to criticise the arguments of a great speaker; and being impartial judges, not ambitious rivals, they hit the mark. That is the spirit in which we should act; not suffering ourselves to be so excited by our own cleverness in a war of wits as to advise the Athenian people contrary to our own better judgment.
'I myself think as I did before, and I wonder at those who have brought forward the case of the Mytilenaeans again, thus interposing a delay which is in the interest of the evil-doer. For after a time the anger of the sufferer waxes dull, and he pursues the offender with less keenness; but the vengeance which follows closest upon the wrong is most adequate to it and exacts the fullest retribution. And again I wonder who will answer me, and whether he will attempt to show that the crimes of the Mytilenaeans are a benefit to us, or that when we suffer, our allies suffer with us. Clearly he must be some one who has such confidence in his powers of speech as to contend that you never adopted what was most certainly your resolution;25 or else he must be some one who, under the inspiration of a bribe, elaborates a sophistical speech in the hope of diverting you from the point. In such rhetorical contests the city gives away the prizes to others, while she takes the risk upon herself. And you are to blame, for you order these contests amiss. When speeches are to be heard, you are too fond of using your eyes, but, where actions are concerned, you trust your ears; you estimate the possibility of future enterprises from the eloquence of an orator, but as to accomplished facts, instead of accepting ocular demonstration, you believe only what ingenious critics tell you.26 No men are better dupes, sooner deceived by novel notions, or slower to follow approved advice. You despise what is familiar, while you are worshippers of every new extravagance. Not a man of you but would be an orator if he could; when he cannot, he will not yield the palm to a more successful rival: he would fain show that he does not let his wits come limping after, but that he can praise a sharp remark before it is well out of another's mouth; he would like to be as quick in anticipating what is said, as he is slow in foreseeing its consequences. You are always hankering after an ideal state, but you do not give your minds even to what is straight before you. In a word, you are at the mercy of your own ears, and sit like spectators attending a performance of sophists, but very unlike counsellors of a state.
'I want you to put aside this trifling, and therefore I say to you that no single city has ever injured us so deeply as Mytilenè. I can excuse those who find our rule too heavy to bear, or who have revolted because the enemy has compelled them. But islanders who had walls, and were unassailable by our enemies, except at sea, and on that element were sufficiently protected by a fleet of their own, who were independent and treated by us with the highest regard, when they act thus, they have not revolted (that word would imply that they were oppressed), but they have rebelled; and entering the ranks of our bitterest enemies have conspired with them to seek our ruin. And surely this is far more atrocious than if they had been led by motives of ambition to take up arms against us on their own account. They learned nothing from the misfortunes of their neighbours who had already revolted and been subdued by us, nor did the happiness of which they were in the enjoyment make them hesitate to court destruction. They trusted recklessly to the future, and cherishing hopes which, if less than their wishes, were greater than their powers, they went to war, preferring might to right. No sooner did they seem likely to win than they set upon us, although we were doing them no wrong. Too swift and sudden a rise is apt to make cities insolent and, in general, ordinary good-fortune is safer than extraordinary. Mankind apparently find it easier to drive away adversity than to retain prosperity. We should from the first have made no difference between the Mytilenaeans and the rest of our allies, and then their insolence would never have risen to such a height; for men naturally despise those who court them, but respect those who do not give way to them. Yet it is not too late to punish them as their crimes deserve. And do not absolve the people while you throw the blame upon the nobles. For they were all of one mind when we were to be attacked. Had the people deserted the nobles and come over to us, they might at this moment have been reinstated in their city; but they considered that their safety lay in sharing the dangers of the oligarchy, and therefore they joined in the revolt. Reflect: if you impose the same penalty upon those of your allies who wilfully rebel and upon those who are constrained by the enemy, which of them will not revolt upon any pretext however trivial, seeing that, if he succeed, he will be free, and, if he fail, no irreparable evil will follow? We in the meantime shall have to risk our lives and our fortunes against every one in turn. When conquerors we shall recover only a ruined city, and, for the future, the revenues which are our strength will be lost to us.27 But if we fail, the number of our adversaries will be increased. And when we ought to be employed in repelling the enemies with whom we have to do, we shall be wasting time in fighting against our own allies.
'Do not then hold out a hope, which eloquence can secure or money buy, that they are to be excused and that their error is to be deemed human and venial. Their attack was not unpremeditated; that might have been an excuse for them; but they knew what they were doing. This was my original contention, and I still maintain that you should abide by your former decision, and not be misled either by pity, or by the charm of words, or by a too forgiving temper. There are no three things more prejudicial to your power. Mercy should be reserved for the merciful, and not thrown away upon those who will have no compassion on us, and who must by the force of circumstances always be our enemies. And our charming orators will still have an arena,28 but one in which the questions at stake will not be so grave, and the city will not pay so dearly for her brief pleasure in listening to them, while they for a good speech get a good fee. Lastly, forgiveness is naturally shown to those who, being reconciled, will continue friends, and not to those who will always remain what they were, and will abate nothing of their enmity. In one word, if you do as I say, you will do what is just to the Mytilenaeans, and also what is expedient for yourselves; but, if you take the opposite course, they will not be grateful to you, and you will be self-condemned. For, if they were right in revolting, you must be wrong in maintaining your empire. But if, right or wrong, you are resolved to rule, then rightly or wrongly they must be chastised for your good. Otherwise you must give up your empire, and, when virtue is no longer dangerous, you may be as virtuous as you please. Punish them as they would have punished you; let not those who have escaped appear to have less feeling than those who conspired against them. Consider: what might not they have been expected to do if they had conquered?--especially since they were the aggressors. For those who wantonly attack others always rush into extremes, and sometimes, like these Mytilenaeans, to their own destruction. They know the fate which is reserved for them by an enemy who is spared: when a man is injured wantonly he is more dangerous if he escape than the enemy who has only suffered what he has inflicted.29 Be true then to yourselves, and recall as vividly as you can what you felt at the time; think how you would have given the world to crush your enemies, and now take your revenge. Do not be soft-hearted at the sight of their distress, but remember the danger which was once hanging over your heads. Chastise them as they deserve, and prove by an example to your other allies that rebellion will be punished with death. If this is made quite clear to them, your attention will no longer be diverted from your enemies by wars against your own allies.'
Such were the words of Cleon; and after him Diodotus the son of Eucrates, who in the previous assembly had been the chief opponent of the decree which condemned the Mytilenaeans, came forward again and spoke as follows:
'I am far from blaming those who invite us to reconsider our sentence upon the Mytilenaeans, nor do I approve of the censure which has been cast on the practice of deliberating more than once about matters so critical. In my opinion the two things most adverse to good counsel are haste and passion; the former is generally a mark of folly, the latter of vulgarity and narrowness of mind. When a man insists that words ought not to be our guides in action,30 he is either wanting in sense or wanting in honesty: he is wanting in sense if he does not see that there is no other way in which we can throw light on the unknown future; and he is not honest if, seeking to carry a discreditable measure, and knowing that he cannot speak well in a bad cause, he reflects that he can slander well and terrify his opponents and his audience by the audacity of his calumnies. Worst of all are those who, besides other topics of abuse, declare that their opponent is hired to make an eloquent speech. If they accused him of stupidity only, when he failed in producing an impression he might go his way having lost his reputation for sense but not for honesty; whereas he who is accused of dishonesty, even if he succeed, is viewed with suspicion, and, if he fail, is thought to be both fool and rogue. And so the city suffers; for she is robbed of her counsellors by fear. Happy would she be if such citizens could not speak at all, for then the people would not be misled. The good citizen should prove his superiority as a speaker, not by trying to intimidate those who are to follow him in debate, but by fair argument; and the wise city ought not to give increased honour to her best counsellor, any more than she will deprive him of that which he has; while he whose proposal is rejected not only ought to receive no punishment, but should be free from all reproach. Then he who succeeds will not say pleasant things contrary to his better judgment in order to gain a still higher place in popular favour, and he who fails will not be striving to attract the multitude to himself by like compliances.
'But we take an opposite course; and still worse. Even when we know a man to be giving the wisest counsel, a suspicion of corruption is set on foot; and from a jealousy which is perhaps groundless we allow the state to lose an undeniable advantage. It has come to this, that the best advice when offered in plain terms is as much distrusted as the worst; and not only he who wishes to lead the multitude into the most dangerous courses must deceive them, but he who speaks in the cause of right must make himself believed by lying. In this city, and in this city only, to do good openly and without deception is impossible, because you are too clever; and, when a man confers an unmistakeable benefit on you, he is rewarded by a suspicion that, in some underhand manner, he gets more than he gives. But, whatever you may suspect,31 when great interests are at stake, we who advise ought to look further and weigh our words more carefully than you whose vision is limited. And you should remember that we are accountable for our advice to you, but you who listen are accountable to nobody. If he who gave and he who followed evil counsel suffered equally, you would be more reasonable in your ideas; but now, whenever you meet with a reverse, led away by the passion of the moment you punish the individual who is your adviser for his error of judgment, and your own error you condone, if the judgments of many concurred in it.
'I do not come forward either as an advocate of the Mytilenaeans or as their accuser; the question for us rightly considered is not, what are their crimes? but, what is for our interest? If I prove them ever so guilty, I will not on that account bid you put them to death, unless it is expedient. Neither, if perchance there be some degree of excuse for them, would I have you spare them, unless it be clearly for the good of the state. For I conceive that we are now concerned, not with the present, but with the future. When Cleon insists that the infliction of death will be expedient and will secure you against revolt in time to come, I, like him taking the ground of future expediency, stoutly maintain the contrary position; and I would not have you be misled by the apparent fairness of his proposal, and reject the solid advantages of mine. You are angry with the Mytilenaeans, and the superior justice of his argument may for the moment attract you; but we are not at law with them, and do not want to be told what is just; we are considering a question of policy, and desire to know how we can turn them to account.
'To many offences less than theirs states have affixed the punishment of death; nevertheless, excited by hope, men still risk their lives. No one when venturing on a perilous enterprise ever yet passed a sentence of failure on himself. And what city when entering on a revolt ever imagined that the power which she had, whether her own or obtained from her allies, did not justify the attempt? All are by nature prone to err both in public and in private life, and no law will prevent them. Men have gone through the whole catalogue of penalties in the hope that, by increasing their severity, they may suffer less at the hands of evil-doers. In early ages the punishments, even of the worst offences, would naturally be milder; but as time went on and mankind continued to transgress, they seldom stopped short of death. And still there are transgressors. Some greater terror then has yet to be discovered; certainly death is no deterrent. For poverty inspires necessity with daring; and wealth engenders avarice in pride and insolence; and the various conditions of human life, as they severally fall under the sway of some mighty and fatal power, lure men through their passions to destruction. Desire and hope are never wanting, the one leading, the other following, the one devising the enterprise, the other suggesting that fortune will be kind; and they are the most ruinous, for, being unseen, they far outweigh the dangers which are seen. Fortune too assists the illusion, for she often presents herself unexpectedly, and induces states as well as individuals to run into peril, however inadequate their means; and states even more than individuals, because they are throwing for a higher stake, freedom or empire, and because when a man has a whole people acting with him,32 he magnifies himself out of all reason. In a word then, it is impossible and simply absurd to suppose that human nature when bent upon some favourite project can be restrained either by the strength of law or by any other terror.
'We ought not therefore to act hastily out of a mistaken reliance on the security which the penalty of death affords. Nor should we drive our rebellious subjects to despair; they must not think that there is no place for repentance, or that they may not at any moment give up their mistaken policy. Consider: at present, although a city may actually have revolted, when she becomes conscious of her weakness she will capitulate while still able to defray the cost of the war and to pay tribute for the future; but if we are too severe, will not the citizens make better preparations, and, when besieged, resist to the last, knowing that it is all the same whether they come to terms early or late? Shall not we ourselves suffer? For we shall waste our money by sitting down before a city which refuses to surrender; when the place is taken it will be a mere wreck, and we shall in future lose the revenues derived from it;33 and in these revenues lies our military strength. Do not then weigh offences with the severity of a judge, when you will only be injuring yourselves, but have an eye to the future; let the penalties which you impose on rebellious cities be moderate, and then their wealth will be undiminished and at your service. Do not hope to find a safeguard in the severity of your laws, but only in the vigilance of your administration. At present we do just the opposite; a free people under a strong government will always revolt in the hope of independence; and when we have put them down we think that they cannot be punished too severely. But instead of inflicting extreme penalties on free men who revolt, we should practise extreme vigilance before they revolt, and never allow such a thought to enter their minds. When however they have been once put down we ought to extenuate their crimes as much as possible.
'Think of another great error into which you would fall if you listened to Cleon. At present the popular party are everywhere our friends; either they do not join with the oligarchs, or, if compelled to do so, they are always ready to turn against the authors of the revolt; and so in going to war with a rebellious state you have the multitude on your side. But, if you destroy the people of Mytilenè who took no part in the revolt, and who voluntarily surrendered the city as soon as they got arms into their hands; in the first place they were your benefactors, and to slay them would be a crime; in the second place you will play into the hands of the oligarchic parties, who henceforward, in fomenting a revolt, will at once have the people on their side; for you will have proclaimed to all that the innocent and the guilty will share the same fate. Even if they were guilty you should wink at their conduct, and not allow the only friends whom you have left to be converted into enemies. Far more conducive to the maintenance of our empire would it be to suffer wrong willingly, than for the sake of justice to put to death those whom we had better spare. Cleon may speak of a punishment which is just and also expedient, but you will find that, in any proposal like his, the two cannot be combined.
'Assured then that what I advise is for the best, and yielding neither to pity nor to lenity, for I am as unwilling as Cleon can be that you should be influenced by any such motives, but simply weighing the arguments which I have urged, accede to my proposal: Pass sentence at your leisure on the Mytilenaeans whom Paches, deeming them guilty, has sent hither; but leave the rest of the inhabitants where they are. This will be good policy for the future, and will strike present terror into your enemies. For wise counsel is really more formidable to an enemy than the severity of unreasoning violence.'
Thus spoke Diodotus, and such were the proposals on either side which most nearly represented the opposing parties. In spite of the reaction there was a struggle between the two opinions; the show of hands was very near, but the motion of Diodotus prevailed. The Athenians instantly despatched another trireme, hoping that, if the second could overtake the first,34 which had a start of about twenty-four hours, it might be in time to save the city. The Mytilenaean envoys provided wine and barley for the crew, and promised them great rewards if they arrived first. And such was their energy that they continued rowing whilst they ate their barley, kneaded with wine and oil, and slept and rowed by turns. Fortunately no adverse wind sprang up, and, the first of the two ships sailing in no great hurry on her untoward errand, and the second hastening as I have described, the one did indeed arrive sooner than the other, but not much sooner. Paches had read the decree and was about to put it into execution, when the second appeared and arrested the fate of the city.
So near was Mytilenè to destruction.
The captives whom Paches had sent to Athens as being the most guilty numbered about a thousand, or rather more;35 these the Athenians, upon the motion of Cleon, put to death. They razed the walls of the Mytilenaeans and took away their fleet. Then, instead of imposing tribute on them, they divided the whole island, exclusive of the territory of Methymna, into three thousand portions, of which they dedicated three hundred to the Gods; the remainder they let out to cleruchi36 taken from their own citizens, whom they chose by lot and sent to Lesbos. The Lesbians undertook to pay them a yearly rent of two minae37 for each portion and cultivated the land themselves. The Athenians also took possession of the towns on the continent which the Mytilenaeans held,38 and these henceforward were subject to Athens.
Thus ended the revolt of Lesbos.
During the same summer, after the recovery of Lesbos, the Athenians, under the command of Nicias the son of Niceratus, made an expedition against the island of Minoa, which lies in front of Megara; the Megarians had built a fort there and used the island as a military station. But Nicias wanted the Athenians to keep a watch over Megara, not as hitherto from Budorum in Salamis, but from this spot, which was nearer, the Peloponnesians would then be no longer able to send out triremes, as they had already done on one occasion,39 or privateers from the harbour unobserved, and nothing could be brought in by sea to Megara. First of all he took two projecting towers on the side of the island towards Nisaea40 by the help of engines from the sea, and, having thus freed a way into the channel dividing Minoa from the coast of Megara, he fortified the point nearest the mainland, where, by a bridge through a lagoon, aid could be brought by the enemy to the island, lying as it did at that point close to the shore. The work was completed in a few days. Nicias then proceeded to build a fort on the island, and, leaving a garrison, returned with the rest of his army.
In this summer and about the same time the Plataeans, who had exhausted their food and could no longer hold out, capitulated to the Peloponnesians. The enemy had assaulted their wall and they were unable to defend themselves. But the Lacedaemonian commander knew their weakness, and was desirous that the place should be surrendered and not stormed; he had instructions from home to this effect, the intention being that if some day a treaty of peace were concluded, and both parties agreed to give up all the places which they had taken by force of arms,41 Plataea might be excepted on the ground that the inhabitants had come to terms of their own accord. So he sent a herald to enquire whether they would surrender the place to the Lacedaemonians and submit to their decision; the guilty were to be punished, but no one without a just cause. The Plataeans, now in the last stage of weakness, surrendered the city; and for a few days, until the five men who were appointed judges came from Lacedaemon, the Peloponnesians supplied them with food. On the arrival of the judges no accusation was brought against them; they were simply asked one by one, Whether they had done any kind of service to the Lacedaemonians or to their allies in the present war. Before making their reply they requested leave to speak at length, and appointed two of their number, Astymachus the son of Asopolaus, and Lacon the son of Aeimnestus, who was the Lacedaemonian proxenus, to be their advocates. They came forward and spoke as follows:--
'Men of Lacedaemon, we surrendered our city because we had confidence in you; we were under the impression that the trial to which we submitted would be legal, and of a very different kind from this; and when we accepted you and you alone to be our judges, which indeed you are, we thought that at your hands we had the best hope of obtaining justice. But we fear that we are doubly mistaken, having too much reason to suspect that in this trial our lives are at stake, and that you will turn out to be partial judges. So we must infer, because no accusation has been preferred against us calling for a defence, but we speak at our own request; and because your question is a short one, to which the answer, if true, condemns us, and, if false, is exposed at once. In the extremity of our helplessness, our only and our safest course is to say something, whatever may be our fate; for men in our condition are sure to reproach themselves with their silence, and to fancy that the unuttered word, if spoken, would have saved them.
'But by what arguments can we ever convince you? If we were unacquainted with one another we might with advantage adduce in evidence matters of which you were ignorant, but now you know all that we can say; and we are afraid, not that we are criminals in your eyes because you have decided that we fall short of your own standard of virtue,42 but that we are being sacrificed to please others, and that the cause which we plead is already prejudged.
'Still we may urge our claims of justice against our Theban enemies, and our claims of gratitude upon you and the other Hellenes; the recollection of our good deeds may perhaps move you. To your short question, "Whether in this war we have done any service to the Lacedaemonians and their allies," we reply that "if we are enemies you are not wronged, because you have received no good from us; and if you deem us friends, you who have made war upon us, and not we, are to blame." During the late peace and in the Persian War our conduct was irreproachable; we were not the first to violate the peace, and we were the only Boeotians who took part in repelling the Persian invader and in the liberation of Hellas. Although we are an inland city, we joined in the sea-fight off Artemisium; we were at your side when you fought in our land under Pausanias, and, whatever dangers the Hellenes underwent in those days, we took a share beyond our strength in all of them. And you, Lacedaemonians, more especially should remember how at the time when Sparta was panic-stricken by the rebellion of the Helots, who seized Ithomè after the earthquake,43 we sent a third part of our own citizens to your aid; these are things not to be forgotten.
'Such was the spirit which animated us in the great days of old; not until later did we become your enemies, and that was originally your own fault. For when we sought your help against the violence of the Thebans, you had rejected us and had bade us turn to the Athenians, who were near, whereas you were at a distance. Yet even in this war you have neither suffered nor were ever likely to suffer anything very atrocious at our hands. If we refused to revolt from the Athenians at your bidding, we were quite right; for they assisted us against the Thebans when you shrank from the task; and after this it would have been dishonourable to betray them. They had been our benefactors; we had been at our own request admitted to their alliance, and we shared the rights of citizenship with them. How could we refuse to respond loyally to their call? When you or they in the exercise of your supremacy have acted, it may be, wrongly and led your allies into evil courses, the leaders and not the followers are to be blamed.
'The Thebans have inflicted many injuries upon us, and their latest crime, as you are well aware, is the cause of our present misfortunes. They came not only in time of peace, but at a holy season and attempted to seize our city; we righteously and in accordance with univeral law defended ourselves and punished the aggressor; and there is no reason why we should now suffer for their satisfaction. If you take your own present advantage and their present hatred to be the measure of justice, you will prove yourselves, not upright and impartial judges, but the slaves of expediency. The Thebans may appear serviceable now, but of far greater service to you were we and the other Hellenes when you were in far greater danger. For now you invade and menace others, but in those days the Barbarian was threatening to enslave us all, and they were on his side. May we not fairly set our former patriotism against our present offence, if indeed we have offended? You will find that the one more than outweighs the other; for our service to you was performed at a time when very few Hellenes opposed their courage to the power of Xerxes; they were then held in honour, not who, looking to their own advantage, made terms with the invader44 and were safe, but who, in the face of danger, dared the better part. Of that number were we, and there was a time when we received the highest honour at your hands, but now we fear that these same principles, which have led us to prefer a just alliance with the Athenians to an interested alliance with you, will be our destruction. Yet when men have been consistent in their conduct, others should show themselves consistent in their judgment of it.45 For true expediency is only this--to have an enduring sense of gratitude towards good allies for their services, while we46 do not neglect our own immediate interest.
'Consider, before you act, that hitherto you have been generally esteemed among Hellenes to be a pattern of nobility; if you decide unjustly (and this judgment cannot be hidden, for you, the judges, are famous, and we, who are judged by you, are of good repute), mankind will be indignant at the strange and disgraceful sentence which will have been passed against good men by men still better.47 They will not endure to see spoils taken from us, the benefactors of Hellas, dedicated by our enemies in the common temples. Will it not be deemed a monstrous thing that the Lacedaemonians should desolate Plataea; that they, whose fathers inscribed the name of the city on the tripod at Delphi in token of her valour,48 should for the sake of the Thebans blot out the whole people from the Hellenic world? For to this we have come at last. When the Persians conquered our land, we were all but ruined; and now, when we plead before you, who were once our dearest friends, the Thebans have prevailed against us. We have had to meet two terrible trials, the danger first of starvation, if we had not given up the city; and secondly, of condemnation to death. The Plataeans, who were zealous in the cause of Hellas even beyond their strength, are now friendless, spurned and rejected by all. None of our old allies will help us, and we fear that you, O Lacedaemonians, our only hope, are not to be depended upon.
'Yet once more for the sake of those Gods in whose name we made a league of old, and for our services to the cause of Hellas, relent and change your minds, if the Thebans have at all influenced you: in return for the wicked request which they make of you, ask of them the righteous boon that you should not slay us to your own dishonour.49 Do not bring upon yourselves an evil name merely to gratify others. For, although you may quickly take our lives, you will not so easily obliterate the infamy of the deed. We are not enemies whom you might justly punish, but friends who were compelled to go to war with you; and therefore piety demands that you should spare our lives. Before you pass judgment, consider that we surrendered ourselves, and stretched out our hands to you; the custom of Hellas does not allow the suppliant to be put to death. Remember too that we have ever been your benefactors: Cast your eyes upon the sepulchres of your fathers slain by the Persians and buried in our land, whom we have honoured by a yearly public offering of garments, and other customary gifts. We were their friends, and we gave them the first fruits in their season of that friendly land in which they rest; we were their allies too, who in times past had fought at their side; and if you now pass an unjust sentence, will not your conduct strangely contrast with ours? Reflect: when Pausanias buried them here, he thought that he was laying them among friends and in friendly earth. But if you put us to death, and make Plataea one with Thebes, are you not robbing your fathers and kindred of the honour which they enjoy, and leaving them in a hostile land inhabited by their murderers? Nay more, you will enslave the land in which the Hellenes won their liberty; you bring desolation upon the temples in which they prayed when they conquered the Persians; and you will take away the sacrifices which our fathers instituted from the city which ordained and established them.
'These things, O Lacedaemonians, would not be for your honour. They would be an offence against the common feeling of Hellas and against your ancestors. You should be ashamed to put us to death, who are your benefactors and have never done you any wrong, in order that you may gratify the enmity of another. Spare us, and let your heart be softened towards us; be wise, and have mercy upon us, considering not only how terrible will be our fate, but who the sufferers are; think too of the uncertainty of fortune, which may strike any one how ever innocent. We implore you, as is becoming and natural in our hour of need, by the Gods whom the Hellenes worship at common altars, to listen to our prayers. We appeal to the oaths which your fathers swore, and entreat you not to forget them. We kneel at your fathers' tombs, and we call upon the dead not to let us be betrayed into the hands of the Thebans, their dearest friends to their bitterest enemies. We remind you of the day on which we shared in their glorious deeds--we who on this day are in danger of meeting a fearful doom. And now we say no more; to men in our case, though we must, there is nothing harder than to make an end; for with the end comes the decisive hour. Our last word is that we did not surrender Plataea to the Thebans,--far rather would we have perished from hunger, the most miserable of deaths,--but to you, in whom we trusted, and, if you will not listen to us, you ought at least to replace us in the same position, and allow us to choose our destiny, whatever it may be. We adjure you not to deliver us, the Plataeans, who were so loyal to the cause of Hellas, and who are now suppliants to you, O Lacedaemonians, out of your own hands and your own good faith, into the hands of the Thebans, our worst enemies. Be our saviours. You are liberating the other Hellenes; do not destroy us.'
Such were the words of the Plataeans; whereupon the Thebans, fearing that the Lacedaemonians might give way, came forward and said that since, against their judgment, the Plataeans had been allowed, instead of answering the question, to make a long defence, they too wished to speak. Permission was granted, and they spoke as follows:
'We should never have asked to speak, if the Plataeans had briefly answered the question which was put to them,50 and had not turned upon us and arraigned us while they made a long and irrelevant defence of their own doings, excusing themselves from charges which nobody brought against them, and praising what nobody blamed. We must answer their accusations of us, and look a little closely into their glorification of themselves, that neither our baseness nor their superior reputation may benefit them, and that, before you judge, you may hear the truth both about us and them. Our quarrel with them arose thus:--Some time after our first occupation of Boeotia51 we settled Plataea and other places, out of which we drove a mixed multitude. But the Plataeans refused to acknowledge our leadership according to the original agreement, and, separating themselves from the other Boeotians, deserted the traditions of their ancestors. When force was applied to them they went over to the Athenians, and, assisted by them, did us a great deal of mischief; and we retaliated.
'They say that when the Barbarian invaded Hellas they were the only Boeotians who did not join the Persian; and this is their great glory, and our great reproach. But we say that if they did not side with Persians, it was only because the Athenians did not; and on the same principle, they alone of all the Boeotians afterwards sided with the Athenians when the liberties of Hellas were attacked by them. But, consider how different were the circumstances in which we and they acted. In those days our state was not governed by an oligarchy which granted equal justice to all, nor yet by a democracy; the power was in the hands of a small cabal, than which nothing is more opposed to law or to true political order, or more nearly resembles a tyranny. The rulers of the state, hoping to strengthen their private interest if the Persian won, kept the people down and brought him in. The city at large, when she acted thus, was not her own mistress; and she cannot be fairly blamed for an error which she committed when she had no constitution. After the Persian departed and she obtained a constitution, you may see how we fought against the Athenians when they became aggressive and endeavoured to subjugate us as well as the rest of Hellas. Owing to our divisions they actually conquered the greater part of the country; but we defeated them at Coronea, and liberated Boeotia;52 and at this moment we are zealously co-operating in the liberation of Hellas, providing cavalry and munitions of war more largely than any of the allies. Thus much in answer to the charge respecting our Persian tendencies.
'And now we will proceed to show that you, and not we, have done the greater wrong to Hellas, and are deserving of every sort of punishment. You say that you became allies and citizens of Athens in order that you might be protected against us. If so, you ought to have invited their aid only against us, and not to have assisted them in their attacks upon others; such a course was certainly open to you: even if you had been in some degree constrained against your will by the Athenians, you had previously made the alliance with the Lacedaemonians against the Persians, to which you are so fond of appealing. That alliance would at any rate have restrained our hands, and above all would have secured to you freedom of deliberation. But you acted willingly, and were no longer under compulsion when you made common cause with the Athenians. Your allegation is that they were your benefactors and that you could not honourably betray them; but how far more dishonourable and wicked to betray all the Hellenes with whom you had sworn alliance, than the Athenians only, the one the liberators, the other the enslavers of Hellas! The return which you made to them is unequal, nay, infamous; you say that you invited them to assist you because you were wronged, and then you became their accomplices in wronging others. Surely ingratitude is shown in refusing to return an honourable kindness, when it can be done honourably, not in refusing to return a kindness which, however justly due, cannot be repaid without a crime.
'You have thus made it plain that, when you alone among the Boeotians refused to join the Persian cause, this was not out of any love for Hellas, but because the Athenians did not;53 and that you wanted to act with them and not with us; and now you claim the benefit of the virtue which others inspired in you. But this is not reasonable; having once chosen the Athenians, fight on their side, and do not at the last moment be saying that the old alliance ought to save you. For you have abandoned it, and by the violation of it, instead of striving to prevent, have aided in the enslavement of the Aeginetans and of other members of the alliance. And you were not, like us, under compulsion, but free, living under your ancient laws. Moreover, you persisted in refusing that last offer of peace and neutrality which we made to you before the siege began.54 Who more thoroughly than you deserve the hatred of the Hellenes? than you who have only displayed your virtues to their injury? You have given proof that the merit which you claim for your former actions does not properly belong to you! Your true nature and constant desire are now revealed in the light of day; for you have followed the Athenians in the path of injustice. Thus much we have to say as to our involuntary dealings with the Persians, and your voluntary dealings with the Athenians.
'The last offence which you lay to our charge is that we unlawfully assailed your city in time of peace, and at a holy season; even in that affair we do not think ourselves more in fault than you. We do not deny that we were wrong if of our own mere motion we went to your city, fought with you, and ravaged your land. But when certain of the noblest and richest of your citizens, who wished to withdraw you from a foreign alliance and to bring you back to the national institutions of Boeotia, came and invited us, wherein are we to blame? As you say yourselves, the leaders rather than the followers are the transgressors.55 But in our opinion, neither we nor they were really guilty. Like yourselves they were citizens, and they had a greater stake in the country than you have; they opened their own gates and received us into their native city, not as her enemies but as her friends. They desired that the bad among you should not grow worse, and that the good should have their reward. They wanted to reform the principles of your citizens, and not to banish their persons; they would have brought them back into a natural union with their kindred, that Plataea might be at peace with all and the enemy of none.
'And the proof that we acted in no hostile spirit is that we did no harm to any one, but made a proclamation that whoever wished to live under the national institutions of Boeotia should join us. You came to us gladly, and, entering into an agreement, for a time offered no opposition; but afterwards, when you discovered that we were few, you turned upon us. Even allowing that we did act somewhat inconsiderately in entering your town without the consent of your whole people, still how different was your conduct and ours! For if you had followed our example you would have used no violence, but thought only of getting us out by persuasion, whereas you broke the agreement and attacked us. Now we do not so much complain of the fate of those whom you slew in battle--for they indeed suffered by a kind of law --but there were others who stretched out their hands to you; and although you gave them quarter, and then promised to us that you would spare them, in utter defiance of law you took their lives--was not that a cruel act? Here are three crimes which you committed within a few hours; the breach of the agreement, the slaughter of the prisoners which followed, and the lying promise which you made to us that you would not slay them if we did no injury to your property in the fields; and yet you insist that we are the criminals, and that you ought to be acquitted. Not so; if the Lacedaemonians give just judgment: but for all these offences you shall suffer.
'We have entered into particulars, Lacedaemonians, both for your sakes and for our own, that you may know the sentence which you are going to pass on them to be just, and still more righteous the vengeance which we have taken. Do not let your hearts be softened by tales about their ancient virtues, if they had any; such virtues might plead for the injured, but should bring a double penalty56 on the authors of a base deed, because they are false to their own character. Let them gain nothing by their pitiful lamentations, or by appealing to your fathers' tombs and their own desolate condition. We tell you that a far sadder fate was inflicted by them on our murdered youth, of whose fathers some fell at Coronea in the act of bringing Boeotia to join you, while others are left in their old age by their solitary hearths, and entreat you, with far better reason, to punish the Plataeans. Men who suffer an unworthy fate are indeed to be pitied, but there should be joy over those who suffer justly, as these do. For their present desolation they may thank themselves; they might have chosen the worthier alliance, but they wilfully renounced it. They sinned against us though we had never injured them; the spirit of hatred and not of justice possessed them, and even now they are not punished half enough. For they are going to suffer by a lawful sentence, not, as they pretend, stretching out their suppliant hands on the field of battle, but delivering themselves up to justice under the terms of a capitulation. Maintain then, Lacedaemonians, the common Hellenic law which they have outraged, and give to us, who have suffered contrary to law, the just recompense of our zeal in your cause. Do not be moved by their words to spurn and reject us,57 but show Hellas by example that, when a cause is tried at your tribunal, deeds and not words will prevail. If the deeds be good, a brief statement of them is enough; if they be evil, speeches full of fine sentiments do but veil them. If all persons in authority were like you, and would sum up a case in a short question, and pass sentence upon all the offenders at once, men would be less tempted to seek out fair words in order to excuse foul deeds.'
Thus spoke the Thebans. The Lacedaemonian judges thought that no objection could be made to their question, whether the Plataeans had done them any service in the war. For they pretended to have expected neutrality from them in the times before the war, on the strength of the original treaty concluded with Pausanias after the defeat of the Persians. And just before the siege they had made to them a proposal58 of neutrality in accordance with the terms of the same treaty; but the Plataeans had refused. Considering that they had been wronged by them, after their own fair proposals had released them from the obligations of the treaty, they again brought up the Plataeans one after another, and asked each of them separately, Whether he had done any service to the Lacedaemonians and their allies in the war? When he said No, they took him away and slew him; no one was spared. They put to death not less than two hundred Plataeans, as well as twenty-five Athenians who had shared with them in the siege; and made slaves of the women. For about a year the Thebans gave possession of the city to certain Megarians, who had been driven out by a revolution,59 and to any surviving Plataeans who were of their own party; but they afterwards razed the whole place to the very foundations, and built near the precinct of Herè an inn forming a square of two hundred feet; it had two stories, and chambers all round. They used the roofs and the doors of the Plataeans; and of the brass and iron articles of furniture found within the walls they made couches, which they dedicated to Herè; they also built in her honour a stone temple a hundred feet long. The Plataean territory they converted into public land, and let it out for terms of ten years; some of their own citizens occupied it. Throughout the whole affair the severity shown by the Lacedaemonians to the Plataeans was mainly promoted by a desire to gratify the Thebans, who seemed likely to be useful allies to them in the war then just beginning. Such was the fate of Plataea, which was overthrown in the ninety-third year after the Plataeans entered into alliance with Athens.60
The forty Peloponnesian ships which had been sent to the aid of Lesbos, as they fled through the open sea pursued bythe Athenians,61 were caught in a storm near Crete, and, making their way in a straggling condition from Crete to the Peloponnesus, found at Cyllene thirteen Leucadian and Ambraciot triremes, and Brasidas the son of Tellis, who had been sent out as a commissioner to advise Alcidas. The Lacedaemonians at home, after the failure of their attempt on Lesbos, had determined to increase their navy and sail to Corcyra, which was in a state of revolution. The Athenian squadron at Naupactus consisted of twelve ships only, and the Lacedaemonians wanted to reach the island before any more vessels could arrive from Athens. Brasidas and Alcidas made their preparations accordingly.
Now Corcyra had been in an unsettled state ever since the return of the prisoners who were taken at sea in the Epidamnian war,62 and afterwards released by the Corinthians. They were nominally let out on bail for a sum of eight hundred talents63 on the security of their proxeni, but in reality they had been induced to try and gain over Corcyra to the Corinthian interest. They went from one citizen to another, and did their best with them to bring about a revolt from Athens. On the arrival of an Athenian and also of a Corinthian vessel conveying ambassadors, there was a discussion in the assembly, and the Corcyraeans voted that they would continue allies of Athens according to their agreement,64 but would renew their former friendship with the Peloponnesians. A certain Peithias, who voluntarily acted as the proxenus of the Athenians and was the popular leader, was summoned by the partisans of the Peloponnesians to take his trial, they affirming that he wanted to bring Corcyra under the yoke of Athens. He was acquitted, and then he in turn summoned their five richest men, declaring that they were in the habit of cutting poles for vines in the sacred precinct of Zeus and Alcinous; now for each pole the penalty was fixed at a stater.65 They were condemned; but the fine was so excessive that they went and sat as suppliants in the temple of Zeus and Alcinous, begging that they might pay the money by instalments. Peithias, who happened to be a member of the senate as well as the popular leader, persuaded the senators to put the law in execution. The culprits, knowing that the law was against them, and perceiving that Peithias as long as he remained in the senate would try to induce the people66 to make an alliance offensive and defensive with Athens, conspired together, and, rushing into the council chamber with daggers in their hands, slew him and others to the number of sixty, as well private persons as senators. A few who were of the same party with him took refuge in the Athenian trireme, which had not yet left.
The next step taken by the conspirators was to assemble the people and tell them that they had acted for the best, and in order to secure them against the tyranny of Athens. For the future they should receive neither Athenians nor Peloponnesians, unless they came peaceably with one ship; to bring more should be deemed the act of an enemy; and this proposal they compelled the people to ratify. They also sent envoys to Athens, who were to put the most favourable colour on the affair, and to dissuade the refugees who had fled thither from taking any inconvenient step which might lead to a counter-revolution.
When the envoys arrived, the Athenians arrested them as disturbers of the peace, and deposited them in Aegina, together with any of the refugees whom they had gained over. In the meantime, the Corcyraean oligarchs who were now in power, on the arrival of a Corinthian trireme and Lacedaemonian envoys, attacked and defeated the people, who at nightfall took refuge in the Acropolis and the higher parts of the city, and there concentrated their forces. They also held the Hyllaic harbour; the other party seized the Agora, where most of them lived, and the adjacent harbour which looked towards the continent.
On the following day they skirmished a little, and both parties sent messengers round the country inviting the slaves to join them, and promising them liberty; the greater number came to the aid of the people, while the other faction was reinforced by eight hundred auxiliaries from the mainland.
After resting a day they fought again, and the people, who had the advantage in numbers and in the strength of their positions, gained the victory. Their women joined vigorously in the fray, hurling tiles from the housetops, and showing amid the uproar a fortitude beyond their sex. The conflict was decided towards evening; the oligarchy, fearing lest the people should take the arsenal with a sudden rush and so make an end of them, set fire to the private houses which surrounded the Agora, as well as to the larger blocks of buildings, sparing neither their own property nor that of any one else in their determination to stop them. Much merchandise was burnt, and the whole city would have been destroyed if the wind had carried the flame in that direction. Both parties now left off fighting, and kept watch in their own positions during the night. When the popular cause triumphed, the Corinthian vessel stole away and most of the auxiliaries crossed over unobserved to the continent.
On the following day, Nicostratus the son of Diitrephes, an Athenian general, arrived from Naupactus with twelve ships and five hundred Messenian hoplites. He tried to effect a reconciliation between the two parties, and on his suggestion they agreed to bring to trial ten of the most guilty persons, who immediately fled. The rest were to live together, and to make peace with one another, and with Athens an alliance offensive and defensive. Having accomplished his purpose he was about to sail away, when the leaders of the people induced him to leave five of his own vessels, that the enemy might be less inclined to stir, promising to man five ships of their own and send them with him. He agreed, and they selected the crews of the ships out of the opposite faction. But the men were afraid of being sent to Athens, and sat as suppliants in the temple of the Dioscuri. Nicostratus sought to raise them up and reassure them, but they would not trust him; whereupon the people armed themselves, arguing that their mistrust and unwillingness to sail was a proof of their evil designs. They took their enemies' arms out of their houses, and some of them whom they chanced to meet would have been slain if Nicostratus had not interfered. The rest, to the number of about four hundred, when they saw what was going on, took refuge afresh in the temple of Herè. But the people, fearing that they would resort to violence, persuaded them to rise and conveyed them at once to the island that lies in front of the temple of Herè, whither provisions were regularly sent to them.
At this stage of the revolution, on the fourth or fifth day after the suppliants had been conveyed to the island, the Peloponnesian ships from Cyllene, which since the expedition to Ionia had been in harbour there,67 arrived on the scene, fifty-three in number, still under the command of Alcidas. Brasidas his adviser was on board. They anchored for the night at Sybota, a harbour on the mainland, and when the morning broke they sailed upon Corcyra.
The whole place was in an uproar; the people dreaded their enemies within the city no less than the Peloponnesian fleet. They hastened to equip sixty ships, and as fast as they were manned sent them out against the Peloponnesians, although the Athenians entreated to be allowed to sail out first, leaving them to follow as soon as they had got their fleet together. But when in this straggling fashion their ships approached the enemy, two of them at once deserted; in others the crews were fighting with one another, and everything was in disorder. The Peloponnesians, seeing the confusion, employed twenty ships only against the Corcyraeans, and opposed the remainder of their fleet to the twelve Athenian ships, of which two were the Salaminia and Paralus.
The Corcyraeans, coming up few at a time and in this disorderly fashion, had trouble enough among themselves. The Athenians, afraid of being surrounded by superior numbers, did not attack the main body nor the centre of those opposed to them, but fell upon the wings and sank a single ship; then, the enemy forming in a circle, they sailed round them and endeavoured to throw them into confusion. But those who were opposed to the Corcyraeans, seeing this movement and fearing a repetition of what happened at Naupactus,68 came to the rescue, and the united fleet charged the Athenians. Thereupon they rowed astern, hoping that by retreating very leisurely they might give the Corcyraeans time to escape, especially as the attack of the enemy was now directed against themselves. The naval engagement ended at sunset.
The Corcyraeans, who were afraid that the victorious enemy would sail to the city and have recourse to some decisive measure, such as taking on board the prisoners in the island, conveyed them back to the temple of Herè and guarded the city. But the Peloponnesians, although they had won the battle, did not venture to attack the city, but returned to their station on the mainland with thirteen Corcyraean ships which they had taken. On the next day they still hesitated, although there was great panic and confusion among the inhabitants. It is said that Brasidas advised Alcidas to make the attempt, but he had not an equal vote with him. So they only disembarked at the promontory of Leucimnè and ravaged the country.
Meanwhile the people of Corcyra, dreading that the fleet of the Peloponnesians would attack them, held a parley with the other faction, especially with the suppliants, in the hope of saving the city; they even persuaded some of them to go on board the fleet; for the Corcyraeans still contrived to man thirty ships. But the Peloponnesians, after devastating the land till about midday, retired. And at nightfall the approach of sixty Athenian vessels was signalled to them from Leucas. These had been sent by the Athenians under the command of Eurymedon the son of Thucles, when they heard of the revolution and of the intended expedition of Alcidas to Corcyra.
The Peloponnesians set out that very night on their way home, keeping close to the land, and transporting the ships over the Leucadian isthmus, that they might not be seen sailing round.69 When the Corcyraeans perceived that the Athenian fleet was appoaching, while that of the enemy had disappeared, they took the Messenian troops, who had hitherto been outside the walls, into the city, and ordered the ships which they had manned to sail round into the Hyllaic harbour. These proceeded on their way. Meanwhile they killed any of their enemies whom they caught in the city. On the arrival of the ships they disembarked those whom they had induced to go on board, and despatched them;70 they also went to the temple of Herè, and persuading about fifty of the suppliants to stand their trial condemned them all to death. The majority would not come out, and, when they saw what was going on, destroyed one another in the enclosure of the temple where they were, except a few who hung themselves on trees, or put an end to their own lives in any other way which they could. And, during the seven days which Eurymedon after his arrival remained with his sixty ships, the Corcyraeans continued slaughtering those of their fellow-citizens whom they deemed their enemies; they professed to punish them for their designs against the democracy, but in fact some were killed from motives of personal enmity, and some because money was owing to them, by the hands of their debtors. Every form of death was to be seen; and everything, and more than everything, that commonly happens in revolutions, happened then. The father slew the son, and the suppliants were torn from the temples and slain near them; some of them were even walled up in the temple of Dionysus, and there perished. To such extremes of cruelty did revolution go; and this seemed to be the worst of revolutions, because it was the first.
For not long afterwards nearly the whole Hellenic world was in commotion; in every city the chiefs of the democracy and of the oligarchy were struggling, the one to bring in the Athenians, the other the Lacedaemonians. Now in time of peace, men would have had no excuse for introducing either, and no desire to do so; but, when they were at war, the introduction of a foreign alliance on one side or the other to the hurt of their enemies and the advantage of themselves was easily effected by the dissatisfied party.71 And revolution brought upon the cities of Hellas many terrible calamities, such as have been and always will be while human nature remains the same, but which are more or less aggravated and differ in character with every new combination of circumstances. In peace and prosperity both states and individuals are actuated by higher motives, because they do not fall under the dominion of imperious necessities; but war, which takes away the comfortable provision of daily life, is a hard master and tends to assimilate men's characters to their conditions.
When troubles had once begun in the cities, those who followed carried the revolutionary spirit further and further, and determined to outdo the report of all who had preceded them by the ingenuity of their enterprises and the atrocity of their revenges. The meaning of words had no longer the same relation to things, but was changed by them as they thought proper. Reckless daring was held to be loyal courage; prudent delay was the excuse of a coward; moderation was the disguise of unmanly weakness; to know everything was to do nothing. Frantic energy was the true quality of a man. A conspirator who wanted to be safe was a recreant in disguise. The lover of violence was always trusted, and his opponent suspected. He who succeeded in a plot was deemed knowing, but a still greater master in craft was he who detected one. On the other hand, he who plotted from the first to have nothing to do with plots was a breaker up of parties and a poltroon who was afraid of the enemy. In a word, he who could outstrip another in a bad action was applauded, and so was he who encouraged to evil one who had no idea of it. The tie of party was stronger than the tie of blood, because a partisan was more ready to dare without asking why. (For party associations are not based upon any established law, nor do they seek the public good; they are formed in defiance of the laws and from self-interest.) The seal of good faith was not divine law, but fellowship in crime. If an enemy when he was in the ascendant offered fair words, the opposite party received them not in a generous spirit, but by a jealous watchfulness of his actions.72 Revenge was dearer than self-preservation. Any agreements sworn to by either party, when they could do nothing else, were binding as long as both were powerless. But he who on a favourable opportunity first took courage, and struck at his enemy when he saw him off his guard, had greater pleasure in a perfidious than he would have had in an open act of revenge; he congratulated himself that he had taken the safer course, and also that he had overreached his enemy and gained the prize of superior ability. In general the dishonest more easily gain credit for cleverness than the simple for goodness; men take a pride in the one, but are ashamed of the other.
The cause of all these evils was the love of power, originating in avarice and ambition, and the party-spirit which is engendered by them when men are fairly embarked in a contest. For the leaders on either side used specious names, the one party professing to uphold the constitutional equality of the many, the other the wisdom of an aristocracy, while they made the public interests, to which in name they were devoted, in reality their prize. Striving in every way to overcome each other, they committed the most monstrous crimes; yet even these were surpassed by the magnitude of their revenges which they pursued to the very utmost,73 neither party observing any definite limits either of justice or public expediency, but both alike making the caprice of the moment their law. Either by the help of an unrighteous sentence, or grasping power with the strong hand, they were eager to satiate the impatience of party-spirit. Neither faction cared for religion; but any fair pretence which succeeded in effecting some odious purpose was greatly lauded. And the citizens who were of neither party fell a prey to both; either they were disliked because they held aloof, or men were jealous of their surviving.
Thus revolution gave birth to every form of wickedness in Hellas. The simplicity which is so large an element in a noble nature was laughed to scorn and disappeared. An attitude of perfidious antagonism everywhere prevailed; for there was no word binding enough, nor oath terrible enough to reconcile enemies. Each man was strong only in the conviction that nothing was secure; he must look to his own safety, and could not afford to trust others. Inferior intellects generally succeeded best. For, aware of their own deficiencies, and fearing the capacity of their opponents, for whom they were no match in powers of speech, and whose subtle wits were likely to anticipate them in contriving evil, they struck boldly and at once. But the cleverer sort, presuming in their arrogance that they would be aware in time, and disdaining to act when they could think, were taken off their guard and easily destroyed.
Now in Corcyra most of these deeds were perpetrated, and for the first time. There was every crime which men could commit in revenge who had been governed not wisely, but tyrannically, and now had the oppressor at their mercy. There were the dishonest designs of others who were longing to be relieved from their habitual poverty, and were naturally animated by a passionate desire for their neighbour's goods; and there were crimes of another class which men commit, not from covetousness, but from the enmity which equals foster towards one another until they are carried away by their blind rage into the extremes of pitiless cruelty. At such a time the life of the city was all in disorder, and human nature, which is always ready to transgress the laws, having now trampled them underfoot, delighted to show that her passions were ungovernable, that she was stronger than justice, and the enemy of everything above her. If malignity had not exercised a fatal power, how could any one have preferred revenge to piety, and gain to innocence? But, when men are retaliating upon others, they are reckless of the future, and do not hesitate to annul those common laws of humanity to which every individual trusts for his own hope of deliverance should he ever be overtaken by calamity; they forget that in their own hour of need they will look for them in vain.
Such were the passions which the citizens of Corcyra first of all Hellenes displayed towards one another. After the departure of Eurymedon and the Athenian fleet the surviving oligarchs, who to the number of five hundred had escaped, seized certain forts on the mainland, and thus became masters of the territory on the opposite coast which belonged to Corcyra. Thence issuing forth, they plundered the Corcyraeans in the island, and did much harm, so that there was a great famine in the city. They also sent ambassadors to Lacedaemon and Corinth, begging that they might be restored, but, failing of their object, they procured boats and auxiliaries, and passed over to Corcyra about six hundred in all; then, burning their boats, that they might have no hope but in the conquest of the island, they went into Mount Istonè, and building a fort there, became masters of the country to the ruin of the inhabitants of the city.
At the end of the same summer the Athenians sent twenty ships to Sicily under the command of Laches the son of Melanopus, and Charoeades the son of Euphiletus. Syracuse and Leontini were now at war with one another. All the Dorian cities, except Camarina, were in alliance with Syracuse; they were the same which at the beginning of the war were reckoned in the Lacedaemonian confederacy, but they had taken no active part.74 The allies of the Leontines were the Chalcidian cities and Camarina. In Italy the Locrians sided with the Syracusans, and the Rhegians with the Leontines, who were their kinsmen.75 The Leontines and their allies sent to Athens, and on the ground, partly of an old alliance, partly of their Ionian descent, begged the Athenians to send them ships, for they were driven off both sea and land by their Syracusan enemies. The Athenians sent the ships, professedly on the ground of relationship, but in reality because they did not wish the Peloponnesians to obtain corn from Sicily. Moreover they meant to try what prospect they had of getting the affairs of Sicily into their hands. So the commanders of the fleet came to Rhegium in Italy, where they established themselves, and carried on the war in concert with their allies. Thus the summer ended.
In the following winter the plague, which had never entirely disappeared, although abating for a time, again attacked the Athenians. It continued on this second occasion not less than a year, having previously lasted for two years. To the power of Athens certainly nothing was more ruinous; not less than four thousand four hundred Athenian hoplites who were on the roll died, and also three hundred horsemen; how many of the common people could never be ascertained. This too was the time when the frequent earthquakes occurred at Athens, in Euboea, and in Boeotia, especially at Orchomenos.76
During the same winter the Athenians in Sicily and the Rhegians made an expedition with thirty ships against the islands of Aeolus, as they are called, which in summer time cannot be attacked owing to the want of water. These islands belong to the Liparaeans, who are colonists of the Cnidians: they inhabit one of them, which is not large, and is called Lipara; from this they go and cultivate the rest, Didymè, Strongylè, and Hiera. The inhabitants believe that the forge of Hephaestus is in Hiera, because the island sends up a blaze of fire in the night-time and clouds of smoke by day. The Aeolian islands lie off the territory of the Sicels and Messenians; they were in alliance with Syracuse. The Athenians wasted the country, but finding that the inhabitants would not yield, sailed back to Rhegium. And so ended the winter, and with it the fifth year in the Peloponnesian War of which Thucydides wrote the history.
In the ensuing summer the Peloponnesians and their allies, under the command of Agis the son of Archidamus, the Lacedaemonian king, came as far as the isthmus. They intended to invade Attica, but were deterred from proceeding by numerous earthquakes,77 and no invasion took place in this year. About the time when these earthquakes prevailed, the sea at Orobiae in Euboea, retiring from what was then the line of coast and rising in a great wave, overflowed a part of the city; and although it subsided in some places, yet in others the inundation was permanent, and that which was formerly land is now sea. All the people who could not escape to the high ground perished. A similar inundation occurred in the neighbourhood of Atalantè, an island on the coast of the Opuntian Locri, which carried away a part of the Athenian fort,78 and dashed in pieces one of two ships which were drawn up on the beach. At Peparethus also the sea retired, but no inundation followed; an earthquake, however, overthrew a part of the wall, the Prytaneum, and a few houses. I conceive that, where the force of the earthquake was greatest, the sea was driven back, and the suddenness of the recoil made the inundation more violent; and I am of opinion that this was the cause of the phenomenon, which would never have taken place if there had been no earthquake.
During the same summer war was going on in various parts of Sicily, the Hellenes in Sicily fighting against one another, the Athenians helping their own allies. I will mention the chief actions in which the Athenians took part, whether by the help of their allies attacking, or attacked by their enemies. Charoeades, the Athenian general, had been killed in battle by the Syracusans, and, Laches having taken the entire command of the fleet, he and the allies made an expedition against Mylae, a town belonging to Messenè. Two tribes of the Messenians were keeping guard there, and they had set an ambuscade for the force which they were expecting to land; but the Athenians and their allies put to flight with heavy loss the troops which came out of the ambush. Then, attacking the fortress, they compelled its defenders to come to terms, surrender the citadel, and march with them against Messenè. Finally, upon the approach of the Athenians and their allies, the Messenians themselves came to terms, giving hostages and the other pledges which were required of them.
In the same summer the Athenians sent thirty ships round the Peloponnese under the command of Demosthenes the son of Alcisthenes, and Procles the son of Theodorus. They also sent sixty ships and two thousand hoplites to Melos, under the command of Nicias the son of Niceratus, wishing to subdue the Melians, who, although they were islanders, resisted them and would not join their alliance.79 So they ravaged their country, but finding that the Melians would not yield, they sailed away to Oropus, opposite Euboea. There they put in at nightfall, and the hoplites disembarking went at once by land to Tanagra in Boeotia. Meanwhile the entire Athenian force, under the command of Hipponicus the son of Callias, and Eurymedon the son of Thucles, upon a signal given marched to meet them at the same spot. There they encamped, and all together devastated the country, remaining at Tanagra during that day and the following night. On the morrow they defeated the Tanagraeans who sallied out upon them, and also some Thebans who had come to their aid; they then took up the arms of the slain, raised a trophy, and returned, the one part of the forces back again to the city, the other to their ships. Nicias with his sixty ships then sailed to the coast of Locris; after ravaging the country he returned home.
About the same time the Lacedaemonians founded Heraclea, their colony in Trachinia. The intention was as follows: The Trachinians are one of the three Melian tribes; the other two being the Paralians and the Hiereans. These Trachinians, having suffered greatly in war from their neighbours the Oetaeans, at first thought of attaching themselves to the Athenians, but, fearing that they could not trust them,80 sent Tisamenus, whom they appointed their envoy, to Lacedaemon. The Dorians, who were the mother state of Lacedaemon, joined in the embassy and also requested help, for they too were suffering from the Oetaeans. The Lacedaemonians heard their appeal, and, being desirous of assisting both the Trachinians and Dorians, made up their minds to send out a colony. They also thought that the situation of the new city would be convenient for carrying on the war against the Athenians. There a navy could be equipped if they wanted to attack Euboea, which was quite near, and the station would be handy for the conveyance of troops to Chalcidicè. For every reason they were eager to colonise the place. First they enquired of the God at Delphi; he bade them go, and they sent out settlers taken from their own citizens and the Perioeci, announcing that any Hellenes who desired, not being of the Ionian, Achaean, or certain other races, might accompany them. The leaders of the colony were three Lacedaemonians, Leon, Alcidas, and Damagon. They set to work and built afresh the walls of the city, which received the name of Heraclea, and is situated about four miles and a half from Thermopylae and a little more than two from the sea. They also constructed docks,81 beginning the works near Thermopylae, at the pass, that the city might be perfectly defended.
While the new colonists were collecting at Heraclea, the Athenians grew alarmed; the scheme appeared to be aimed at Euboea, for Cape Cenaeum on the opposite coast is within a short sail. But their fears were not realised; no harm whatever ensued. The reasons were these: In the first place the Thessalians are strong in that part of the country, and fearing that Heraclea, which was built to control them, would be a powerful and dangerous neighbour, they carried on uninterrupted war against the young colony until they completely wore the settlers out, although originally they had been very numerous. For every one joined without hesitation, encouraged by the promise of security which a Lacedaemonian colony seemed to offer. But another great cause of the ruin and depopulation of the place was the conduct of the governors sent out from Lacedaemon, who frightened the people away by their severe and often unjust administration.82 Thus the Heracleans fell an easy prey to their neighbours.
During the same summer, and just about the same time when the Athenians were engaged at Melos, the troops which were cruising in the thirty Athenian ships83 about Peloponnesus set an ambuscade at Ellomenus in Leucadia and killed a few of the guards of the country. They next attacked Leucas itself with a larger armament, consisting of the Acarnanians, who followed them with their whole forces, all but the inhabitants of Oeniadae,84 and some Zacynthians and Cephallenians, together with fifteen ships from Corcyra. The Leucadians saw their territory both on the mainland and within the isthmus, where the town of Leucas and the temple of Apollo are situated, ravaged by the enemy; but being powerless against a superior force, they remained inactive. The Acarnanians begged Demosthenes, the Athenian general, to cut Leucas off by a wall, thinking that they could easily take the city and so rid themselves of an old enemy. But just then he was persuaded by the Messenians that, having such an army in the field, it would be a great thing to attack the Aetolians: they were the enemies of Naupactus, and if he defeated them he would easily subjugate the adjoining part of the mainland to the Athenians. The Aetolians, they said, though a large and warlike people, dwelt in unwalled villages, which were widely scattered, and as they had only light-armed soldiers, they would be subdued without difficulty before they could combine. They told him that he should first attack the Apodotians, then the Ophioneans, and after them the Eurytanians, The last are the largest tribe of the Aetolians; they speak a dialect more unintelligible than any of their neighbours, and are believed to eat raw flesh. They said that, if he conquered these, the rest would readily come over to him.
He was influenced by his regard for the Messenians, and still more by the consideration that without reinforcements from Athens, and with no other help than that of the allies on the mainland, to whom he hoped to add the Aetolians, he could make his way by land to attack Boeotia. He might proceed through the Ozolian Locri to the Dorian Cytinium, keeping Mount Parnassus on the right, until he came down upon the Phocians. They would probably be eager to join in the expedition because they had always been friendly to Athens, or, if unwilling, they might be coerced; and once in Phocis he would be on the borders of Boeotia. So he left Leucas with all his army, much against the will of the Acarnanians, and sailed to Sollium. He there communicated his design to them, but they would not accompany him because he had refused to blockade Leucas; so with the remainder of his army, which consisted of Cephallenians, Messenians, Zacynthians, and three hundred marines belonging to the Athenian fleet,85 the fifteen Corcyraean vessels having left, he marched against the Aetolians, starting from Oeneon in Locris. The Ozolian Locrians were allies of the Athenians, and they were to meet him with their whole force in the interior of the country. They dwelt on the border of the Aetolians, and as they were armed in a similar manner and knew their country and ways of fighting, their help in the expedition seemed likely to be very valuable.
He encamped the first night at the temple of Nemean Zeus, where the poet Hesiod is said to have been killed by the inhabitants in fulfilment of an oracle which foretold that he should die at Nemea. Early the next morning he proceeded on his march into Aetolia. On the first day he took Potidania, on the second Crocyleium, on the third Teichium. There he stayed and sent back the spoils to Eupalium in Locris. For he did not intend to attack the Ophioneans yet; when he had subjugated the rest of the country he would return to Naupactus and make a second expedition against them if they continued to resist. The Aetolians were aware of his designs from the very first; and no sooner did he enter their territory than they all collected in great force; even the most distant of the Ophioneans, the Bomieans and Callieans who reach down towards the Malian Gulf, came to the aid of their countrymen.
The Messenians repeated the advice which they had originally given to Demosthenes. They assured him that there would be no difficulty in conquering the Aetolians, and told him to march as quickly as he could against the villages. He should not wait until they could combine and meet him with an army, but should endeavour to take any place which was nearest. He, trusting to their advice, and confident in his good fortune since everything was going favourably, did not wait for the Locrians, who should have supplied his deficiency in javelin-men, but at once marched towards Aegitium, which he attacked, and forced his way in. The inhabitants had stolen away and taken up a position on the top of the hills overhanging the town, which was itself built upon heights at a distance of about nine miles from the sea. The other Aetolians, who had by this time come to the rescue of Aegitium, attacked the Athenians and their allies. Some ran down from one hill and some from another and hurled darts at them; when the Athenian army advanced they retired, and when the Athenians retreated they pressed upon them. The battle, which lasted long, was nothing but a series of pursuits and retreats, and in both the Athenians were at a disadvantage.
While their archers had arrows and were able to use them, the Athenians maintained their ground, for the Aetolians, being light-armed, were driven back by the arrows. But at length the captain of the archers was slain, and the forces under his command no longer kept together. The Athenians themselves grew weary of the long and tedious struggle. The Aetolians came closer and closer, and never ceased hurling darts at them. At last they turned and fled, and falling into ravines, out of which there was no way, or losing themselves in a strange country, they perished. Their guide, Chromon the Messenian, had been killed. The Aetolians, who were light-armed and swift of foot, followed at their heels, hurling darts, and caught and slew many of them in the actual rout. The greater number missed their way and got into the woods, out of which no path led; and their enemies brought fire and burnt the wood about them. So the Athenian army tried every means of escape and perished in all manner of ways. The survivors with difficulty made their way to the sea at Oeneon in Locris, whence they had set out. Many of the allies fell, and of the Athenian heavy-armed about a hundred and twenty, all in the flower of their youth; they were the very finest men whom the city of Athens lost during the war. Procles, one of the two generals, was also killed. When they had received the bodies of their dead under a flag of truce from the Aetolians, they retreated to Naupactus, and returned in their ships to Athens. Demosthenes remained behind in Naupactus and the neighbourhood; for, after what had happened, he feared the anger of the Athenians.
About the same time the Athenian forces engaged in Sicily, sailing to the territory of Locri and there disembarking, defeated the Locrians who came out to meet them, and took a small garrison fort, which was situated upon the river Halex.
During the same summer the Aetolians, who had some time before despatched Tolophus the Ophionean, Boriades the Eurytanian, and Tisander the Apodotian on an embassy to Corinth and Lacedaemon, induced the Lacedaemonians to aid them by sending an army against Naupactus, in order to punish the inhabitants for inviting the Athenian invasion.86 So in the autumn they sent out three thousand hoplites of their allies, including five hundred from Heraclea, the newly-founded city in Trachis. Eurylochus, a Spartan, was general, and with him were associated in the command Macarius and Menedaeus, also Spartans.
When the army was collected at Delphi, Eurylochus sent a herald to the Ozolian Locrians, for he had to pass through their country on the way to Naupactus; and he also wished to detach them from the Athenian alliance. Of the Locrians, the inhabitants of Amphissa were most willing to co-operate with him, being anxious for protection against their enemies the Phocians; they were the first who gave hostages, and by them the other Locrians, who were alarmed at the impending invasion, were persuaded to do the like:--first their neighbours the Myoneans, who commanded the most difficult pass into Locris; then the Ipneans, Messapians, Tritaeeans, Chalaeans, Tolophonians, Hessians, and Oeantheans; all these tribes also joined the expedition. The Olpaeans gave hostages but did not join; the Hyaeans would not give hostages until the Lacedaemonians had taken one of their villages, called Polis.
When everything was ready, and Eurylochus had deposited the hostages at Cytinium of the Dorians, he marched with his army against Naupactus, through the territory of the Locrians. On his march he took Oeneon87 and Eupalium,88 two Locrian towns which refused to come to terms. When they had arrived in the territory of Naupactus and the Aetolians had at length joined them, they devastated the country, and after taking the unwalled suburbs of the town marched against Molycrium, a colony of the Corinthians subject to Athens, which they captured. But Demosthenes the Athenian, who after his misfortune in Aetolia was still in the neighbourhood of Naupactus, having previous intelligence, and fearing for the town, went and persuaded the Acarnanians, much against their will--for they had not forgotten his withdrawal from Leucas--to assist Naupactus. So they sent with him on board the Athenian ships89 a thousand hoplites; these got in and saved the place, which was in danger of having to capitulate, owing to the extent of the wall and the paucity of its defenders. Eurylochus and his soldiers, when they saw that the garrison had been reinforced, and that there was no possibility of taking the city by storm, instead of going back to Peloponnesus, retired into the country of Aeolis, which is now called by the names of the towns Calydon and Pleuron, and to other places in the neighbourhood; also to Proschium in Aetolia. For the Ambraciots sent and persuaded them to take part in an attack on the Amphilochian Argos and the rest of Amphilochia and Acarnania, declaring that, if they gained possession of these places, all the tribes of the mainland would at once come over to the Lacedaemonians. Eurylochus assented and, dismissing the Aetolians, waited with his army in that region until the time for the Ambraciots to make their expedition and for him to join them in the neighbourhood of Argos. Thus the summer ended.
In the following winter the Athenians in Sicily and their Hellenic allies made an attack upon the Sicel fort of Inessa, a Sicel town of which the citadel was held by the Syracusans. They were joined by many of the Sicels, who had formerly been allies to the Syracusans, and, having been held down by them, had now revolted to the Athenians. The attempt failed, and they retreated. But during their retreat the Syracusans sallied out and fell upon the allies who were in the rear of the Athenians, routed them, and put to flight a part of their forces with great loss. Soon afterwards, Laches and the Athenians in the fleet made several descents upon Locris. At the river Caecinus they defeated about three hundred Locrians who came out to meet them under Proxenus the son of Capaton, took arms from the slain, and returned.
In the same winter the Athenians, by command of an oracle, purified the island of Delos. Pisistratus the tyrant had already purified it, but imperfectly, for the purification only extended to that part which was within sight of the temple. The whole island was now purified in the following manner:--The Athenians took away all the coffins of the dead which were in Delos,90 and passed a decree that henceforward no one should die or give birth to a child there, but that the inhabitants when they were near the time of either should be carried across to Rhenea. Now Rhenea is near to Delos, so near indeed that Polycrates the tyrant of Samos, who for a time had a powerful navy, attached this island, which he conquered with the rest of the islands and dedicated to the Delian Apollo, by a chain to Delos. After the purification, the Athenians for the first time celebrated the Delian games, which were held every four years. There had been in ancient days a great gathering of the Ionians and the neighbouring islanders at Delos; whither they brought their wives and children to be present at the Delian games, as the Ionians now frequent the games at Ephesus. Musical and gymnastic contests were held there, and the cities celebrated choral dances. The character of the festival is attested by Homer in the following verses, which are taken from the hymn to Apollo:
'At other times, Phoebus, Delos is dearest to thy heart,
Where are gathered together the Ionians in flowing robes,
With their wives and children in thy street:
There do they delight thee with boxing and dancing and song,
Making mention of thy name when they gather at the assembly.'
And that there were musical contests which attracted competitors is implied in the following words of the same hymn. After commemorating the Delian dance of women, Homer ends their praises with these lines, in which he alludes to himself:
'And now may Apollo and Artemis be gracious,
And to all of you, maidens, I say farewell.
Yet remember me when I am gone;
And if some other toiling pilgrim among the sons of men
Comes and asks: O maidens,
Who is the sweetest minstrel of all who wander hither,
And in whom do you delight most?
Make answer with one voice, in gentle words,
The blind old man of Chios' rocky isle.'
Thus far Homer, who clearly indicates that even in days of old there was a great gathering and festival at Delos. In after ages the islanders and the Athenians led choruses in procession, and sacrificed. But the games and the greater part of the ceremonies naturally fell into disuse, owing to the misfortunes of Ionia. The Athenians now restored the games and for the first time introduced horse-races.
During the same winter the Ambraciots, in fulfilment of the promise by which they had induced Eurylochus and his army to remain,91 made an expedition against the Amphilochian Argos with three thousand hoplites. They invaded the Argive territory and seized Olpae, a strong fort on a hill by the sea-side, which in former days the Acarnanians had fortified and used as a common hall of justice. The place is about three miles from Argos, which is also on the sea-shore. One division of the Acarnanians came to the aid of Argos, while another encamped at a spot called the Wells, where they could lie in wait for Eurylochus and the Peloponnesians, and prevent them from joining the Ambraciots unobserved. They also despatched a messenger to Demosthenes, who had led the Athenian expedition into Aetolia, asking him to be their commander, and sent for twenty Athenian ships which were just then cruising about the Peloponnese under the command of Aristoteles the son of Timocrates, and Hierophon the son of Antimnestus. The Ambraciots sent a messenger from Olpae to their own citizens, bidding them come and help them with their entire force; for they were afraid that Eurylochus and his followers might not be able to make their way through the Acarnanians, and then they would have either to fight alone, or to attempt a hazardous retreat.
Eurylochus and the Peloponnesians, when they heard that the Ambraciots had arrived at Olpae, left Proschium and went with all speed to help, them. Passing over the river Achelous they marched through Acarnania, leaving the city and garrison of Stratus on the right hand, and the rest of Acarnania on their left. The land was deserted, for the inhabitants had gone to the assistance of Argos. Crossing the territory of Stratus they proceeded through Phytia and by the extreme border of Medeon, and so through Limnaea; at last they left Acarnania, and reached the friendly territory of the Agraeans. Then taking to Mount Thyamus, which is open country, they marched on and descended into the plain of Argos after dark. Making their way unobserved between the city of Argos and the Acarnanian force stationed at the Wells, they at length reached the Ambraciots at Olpae.
The two armies having effected this junction moved at break of day to a place called Metropolis, and there encamped. Soon afterwards the Argives received the expected reinforcement of twenty Athenian ships, which arrived in the Ambracian Gulf. With them came Demosthenes, who brought two hundred Messenian hoplites and sixty Athenian archers. The ships anchored about the hill of Olpae, while the Acarnanians and a few of the Amphilochians (the greater part of them were prevented from stirring by the Ambraciots92), having mustered at Argos, were now preparing to give battle. They associated Demosthenes with their own generals in the command of the allied forces. He led them to the neighbourhood of Olpae, and there encamped at a place where they were divided from the enemy by a great ravine. During five days they remained inactive; on the sixth day both armies drew up in battle array. Demosthenes, fearing that he would be surrounded by the Peloponnesians who were more numerous and extended beyond his own line, placed hoplites and light-armed troops, numbering altogether four hundred, in a deep lane overgrown with brushwood, intending them to lie in wait until the moment of conflict, when they were to rush out from the rear on the line of the enemy where it overlapped. The preparations of both armies were now complete and they engaged. Demosthenes led his own right wing, on which were the Messenians and a few Athenians, while the other was held by the Acarnanians, who were disposed according to their cities, and by the Amphilochian javelin-men who were in the battle. The Peloponnesians and Ambraciots were intermingled, with the exception of the Mantineans, who were all collected on the left wing; but the extremity of the wing was occupied by Eurylochus and his division, who were opposed to the Messenians under Demosthenes.
When the two armies were at close quarters, the left wing of the Peloponnesians out-flanked the right wing of their opponents and threatened to surround them; whereupon the Acarnanians, coming upon them from behind out of the ambuscade, charged and turned them. They fled without striking a blow, and their panic caused the greater part of the army to run with them. For, when they saw Eurylochus and their best troops routed, they lost whatever courage they had. The Messenians, who were in this part of the field under the command of Demosthenes, were foremost in the action. The right wing of the enemy, however, and the Ambraciots, who are the most warlike nation in those parts, vanquished their opponents and drove them back to Argos. But, returning, they saw the greater part of the army defeated, and were hard pressed by the victorious division of the Acarnanians, whereupon, escaping with difficulty, they made their way to Olpae. Numbers of the defeated were killed, for they dashed into the fort wildly and in confusion, except the Mantineans, who kept together and retreated in better order than any other part of the army. The battle, which had lasted until evening, now ended.
On the next day Menedaeus took the command, for Eurylochus and Macarius, the two other generals, had been slain.93 He knew not what to do after so serious a defeat. He could not hope, if he remained, to stand a siege, hemmed in as he was by land, and at sea blockaded by the Athenian ships; neither could he safely retire; so entering into a parley with Demosthenes and the Acarnanian generals about the burial of the dead, he tried to negotiate with them at the same time for a retreat. The Athenians gave back to the enemy their dead, erected a trophy, and took up their own dead, in number about three hundred. They would not openly agree to the proposal for a general retreat, but Demosthenes and his Acarnanian colleagues made a secret treaty with the Mantineans, and Menedaeus, and the other Peloponnesian generals and chief persons, allowing their army to depart. He wanted partly to isolate the Ambraciots and their foreign mercenary troops, but much more to take away the character of the Lacedaemonians and Peloponnesians among the Hellenes in those parts and convict them of selfishness and treachery. Accordingly the Peloponnesians took up their dead, and burying them quickly as well as they could, consulted secretly how those who had permission could best depart.
Meanwhile news was brought to Demosthenes and the Acarnanians that the whole remaining force of the Ambraciots, who some time previously had been summoned from the city94 to join the troops in Olpae, were now on their way through the territory of the Amphilochians and were in entire ignorance of what had occurred. Whereupon he at once sent forward a part of his army to lie in ambush in the roads and to occupy the strong places, himself at the same time preparing to support them with the rest of his forces.
In the meantime the Mantineans and the others who were included in the truce went out on pretence of gathering herbs and sticks, and stole away one by one, picking up as they went along what they pretended to be looking for. But, as they got farther away from Olpae, they quickened their steps, and then the Ambraciots and others who happened to collect on the instant, when they saw that they were leaving, ran after them at full speed, wanting to get up with them. The Acarnanians at first thought that none of those who were going away were protected by a truce, and pursued the Peloponnesians. Some of the generals tried to keep them back and explained how matters stood; whereupon a soldier, suspecting that there was treachery, hurled a javelin at them. At length the soldiers understood, and let the Mantineans and other Peloponnesians go, but began to kill the Ambraciots. There was great dispute and uncertainty as to who was an Ambraciot and who a Peloponnesian. Of the former they killed about two hundred; the Peloponnesians escaped into the neighbouring country of Agraea, and were received by king Salynthius who was their friend.
Meanwhile the reinforcement from the city of Ambracia had reached Idomenè, which is the name of two lofty peaks. The higher of the two had been already occupied unobserved at nightfall by the troops which Demosthenes had sent forward; of the lower the Ambraciots first obtained possession and encamped there. As soon as it was dark, after supper, Demosthenes advanced with the rest of his army, himself leading half of them towards the pass between the mountains, while the rest made their way through the Amphilochian hills. At the first dawn of day he fell upon the Ambraciots, who were still half-asleep, and so far from knowing anything of what had happened that they imagined his troops to be their own comrades. For Demosthenes had taken care to place the Messenians in the first rank and desired them to speak to the enemy in their own Doric dialect, thereby putting the sentinels off their guard; and as it was still dark, their appearance could not be distinguished. So they fell upon the Ambraciots and routed them. Most of them were slain on the spot; the remainder fled over the mountains. But the paths were beset; the Amphilochians were lightly-armed, and in their own country which they knew, while their enemies were heavy-armed and the country was strange to them. And so, not knowing which way to turn, they fell into ravines and into ambuscades which had been set for them, and perished. Every means of escape was tried. Some even fled to the sea which was not far distant, and seeing the Athenian ships which were sailing by while the action was taking place, swam out to them, thinking in the terror of the moment that they had better be killed, if die they must, by the Athenians in the ships than by their barbarous and detested enemies the Amphilochians. So the Ambraciots were cut to pieces, and but few out of many returned home to their city. The Acarnanians, having despoiled the dead and raised trophies, returned to Argos.
On the following day there arrived a herald from the Ambraciots who had escaped out of Olpae to the Agraeans. He came to recover the bodies of the dead who had been slain subsequently to the first engagement, when, unprotected by the treaty, they tried to get out of Olpae in company with the Mantineans and others protected by it. The herald saw the arms of the Ambraciot troops from the city and wondered at the number of them; he knew nothing of the later disaster, and he imagined that they belonged to his own division of the army. Some one present thought that the herald had come from the army defeated at Idomenè, and asked why he looked so astonished, and how many of their men had fallen; he replied, 'about two hundred';95 whereupon the other rejoined, 'These which you see are not the arms of two hundred men, but of more than a thousand.' The herald replied, 'Then they cannot be the arms of our men.' The other answered, 'They must be, if you were fighting yesterday at Idomenè' 'But yesterday we did not fight at all; it was the day before, in the retreat.' 'All I know is that we fought yesterday with these men, who were marching to your aid from Ambracia.' When the herald heard these words, and knew that the army coming from the city had perished, he uttered a cry of anguish, and, overwhelmed by the greatness of the blow, went away at once without doing his errand, no longer caring to demand the dead. And indeed in the whole war no such calamity happened within so few days to any Hellenic state.96 I have not ventured to set down the number of those who fell, for the loss would appear incredible when compared with the size of the city. Of this I am certain, that if the Acarnanians had been willing to destroy Ambracia as Demosthenes and the Athenians desired, they might have taken it at the first onset. But they were afraid that the Athenians, if they once got possession of the place, would be more troublesome neighbours than the Ambraciots.97
After assigning a third part of the spoils to the Athenians, the Acarnanians divided the remainder among their cities. The spoils of the Athenians were captured on the voyage. But three hundred panoplies which were allotted to Demosthenes he brought home with him, and they are still preserved in the Athenian temples. This good service of his enabled him to return to Athens with less apprehension after his misfortune in Aetolia. The twenty Athenian ships sailed away to Naupactus. The Acarnanians and Amphilochians, after the Athenians and Demosthenes had left them, granted a truce to the Ambraciots and Peloponnesians who had fled to Salynthius and the Agraeans; they were thus enabled to return home from Oeniadae, whither they had removed from the country of Salynthius. The Acarnanians and Amphilochians now made a treaty of alliance for one hundred years with the Ambraciots, of which the terms were as follows:--'The Ambraciots shall not be required to join the Acarnanians in making war on the Peloponnesians, nor the Acarnanians to join the Ambraciots in making war on the Athenians. But they shall aid in the defence of one another's territory. The Ambraciots shall give up such places or hostages of the Amphilochians as they possess,98 and they shall not assist Anactorium' (which was hostile to the Acarnanians).99 Upon these terms they put an end to the war. Soon afterwards the Corinthians sent a force of their own, consisting of three hundred hoplites under the command of Xenocleidas the son of Euthycles, to guard Ambracia, whither they made their way with some difficulty by land. Such was the end of the Ambracian war.
During the same winter the Athenian fleet in Sicily, sailing to Himera, made a descent upon the country in concert with the Sicels, who had invaded the extreme border of the Himeraeans from the interior; they also attacked the Aeolian Isles. Returning to Rhegium, they found that Pythodorus son of Isolochus, one of the Athenian generals, had superseded Laches in the command of the fleet. The allies of the Athenians in Sicily had sailed to Athens, and persuaded the Athenians to send a larger fleet to their aid; for their territory was in the power of the Syracusans, and they were kept off the sea by a few ships only; so they were preparing to resist, and had begun to collect a navy. The Athenians manned forty ships for their relief, partly hoping to finish the war in Sicily the sooner, partly because they wanted to exercise their fleet. They despatched one of the commanders, Pythodorus, with a few ships, intending to send Sophocles the son of Sostratides, and Eurymedon the son of Thucles, with the larger division of the fleet afterwards. Pythodorus, having now succeeded Laches in the command, sailed at the end of the winter against the Locrian fort which Laches had previously taken,100* but he was defeated by the Locrians and retired.
In the early spring the burning lava, not for the first time, issued from Mount Aetna, which is the highest mountain in Sicily, and devastated a portion of the territory of the Catanaeans who dwell on the skirts of Aetna. The last eruption is said to have taken place fifty years before; and altogether three eruptions are recorded since the Hellenes first settled in Sicily. Such were the events of the winter; and so ended the sixth year in the Peloponnesian War of which Thucydides wrote the history.
1. Or, to avoid the geographical contradiction (see notes), we may take the words with apostellousin: 'they also sent an embassy . . . north ward from the city.'
2. Cp. i. 40 fin.; i. 69.
3. Cp. i. 143 init.
4. Cp. iii. 7 init.
5. Cp. ii. 17 fin.
6. About 1s. 4d
7. Cp. i. 57 fin.; 61 init.
8. Cp. i. 64 med.; ii. 58 med.
10. Cp. iii. 32 init.; iv. 75 med.
11. See note on the passage.
12. Taking hyperechein in the sense of 'superare': or, 'could hardly keep above the surface in crossing.'
13. Cp, iii, 20 med.
14. i. e. the envoys who had been sent to Sparta. Cp. iii. 4 fin., 5 fin.
15. Adopting with Bekker the conjecture ephormousin.
16. Cp. iii. 19 fin.; iv. 75 med.
17. Or, 'was part of an extensive scheme'.
18. Cp. iii. 28 med.
19. Cp. iv. 21 med.
20. Cp. i. 68 init.
21. Cp. ii. 63 med.
22. Cp. vi. 18 fin.
23. Cp. i. 84 med.
24. Cp. iii. 40 init.
25. Or, 'that what all men believe to be true is absolutely false.'
26. Cp. vii. 48 med.
27. Cp. iii. 46 med.
28. Cp. iii. 37 fin.
29. Or, referring the words to the Mytilenaeans: `He who has gone out of his way to bring a calamity upon himself is more dangerous if he be allowed to escape than the enemy who only retaliates.'
30. Cp. ii. 40 med.
31. Reading axiounti.
32. Or, reading autôn, 'he exaggerates the importance of his aims.'
33. Cp. iii. 39 fin.
34. Reading deuteras.
35. See note. The number must be considered doubtful.
36. Cleruchi, literally ' portioners,' Athenians who received land in a conqueredcountry, but remained citizens.
37. £6 13s. 4d.
38. Cp. iv. 52 med.
39. Cp. ii. 93, 94.
40. Or, 'two towers projecting from Nisaea.'
41. Cp. v. 17 med.
42. Cp. iii. 57 init.
43. Cp. i. 101.
44. Or, reading autois, and referring the word to the Persians: 'who, looking to advantage, forwarded the course of the invader.'
45. This may refer to the judgment of the Spartans on the Plataeans, or to the adhesion of the Plataeans to the Athenians; see note.
46. Reading hêmin.
47. Cp. iii. 53 fin.
48. Cp. i. 132 init.
49. Or, 'ask of them the boon that you should not kill those whom you ought not, and receive an honest gratitude from us, instead of a disgraceful gratitude from them.'
50. Cp. i. 37 init. 73; vi. 82.
51. Cp. i. 12.
52. Cp. iv. 92 fin.
53. Or reading oti oud Athênaioi, hêmeis de, but because the Athenians did not and we did.'
54. Cp. ii. 72, 73.
55. Cp. iii. 55 fin.
56. Cp. i. 86 init.
57. Cp. iii. 57 fin.
58. Or, taking hêxioun in a different sense, and repeating it before kai ote hysteron: 'For they had been constantly requesting them, as they said, to remain neutral in the times before the war,.. . and they had repeated the request when just before the siege they had made to them a proposal,' &c.
59. Cp. iv. 66 init.
60. Cp. Herod. vi. 108.
61. Cp. iii. 33.
62. Cp. i. 55 med.
64. Cp. i. 44.
65. If the gold stater, about 16s.; if the silver Athenian stater, about 2s. 8d.; if the silver Corinthian stater (didrachmon) (tetradrachmon), about 1s. 4d.
66. Or, ' before he ceased to be a senator would persuade the people.'
67. Cp. iv. 69.
68. Cp. ii. 84.
69. Cp. iv. 8 init.
70. Reading with a few MSS. apechrônto, (which is quoted from Thucydides by the Lexicographers,) instead of anechôrêsan, which gives no sense.
71. Omitting the comma inserted in Bekker's text after prospoiêsei, or retaining it 'and both sides could easily obtain allies to the hurt of their enemies and the advantage of themselves, the dissatisfied party were only too ready to invoke foreign aid'; see note on the passage.
72. Or, 'but by active precautions.'
73. Placing the comma after meizous instead of after epexêesin te.
74. Cp. ii. 7 med.
75. Cp. vi. 44 fin.
76. Cp. iii.89, and i. 23 med.
77. Cp. iii. 87.
78. Cp. ii. 32.
79. Cp. v. 84.
80. Cp. iii. 113 fin.
81. Or, reading eirxan to--, 'and blockaded the defile at Thermopylae.'
82. Cp. v. 52 init.
83. Cp. iii. 91 init.
84. Cp. ii. 102 init.
85. Cp. iii. 94 init.
86. Cp. iii. 94 med.
87. Cp. iii. 95 fin.
88. Cp. iii. 96 med.
89. Cp. iii. 105 fin.
90. Cp. i. 8 init:; v. 1.
91. Cp. iii. 102 fin.
92. Cp. iii. 114 fin.
93. Cp. iv. 38 init.
94. Cp. iii. 105 fin.
95. Cp. iii. 111 fin.
96. Cp. vii. 30 fin.
97. Cp. iii. 92 init.
98. Cp. iii. 107 init.
99. Cp. i. 55 init.
100. Cp. iii. 99.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:14