The army having assembled at Delphi, Eurylochus sent a herald to the Ozolian Locrians; the road to Naupactus lying through their territory, and he having besides conceived the idea of detaching them from Athens. His chief abettors in Locris were the Amphissians, who were alarmed at the hostility of the Phocians. These first gave hostages themselves, and induced the rest to do the same for fear of the invading army; first, their neighbours the Myonians, who held the most difficult of the passes, and after them the Ipnians, Messapians, Tritaeans, Chalaeans, Tolophonians, Hessians, and Oeanthians, all of whom joined in the expedition; the Olpaeans contenting themselves with giving hostages, without accompanying the invasion; and the Hyaeans refusing to do either, until the capture of Polis, one of their villages.
His preparations completed, Eurylochus lodged the hostages in Kytinium, in Doris, and advanced upon Naupactus through the country of the Locrians, taking upon his way Oeneon and Eupalium, two of their towns that refused to join him. Arrived in the Naupactian territory, and having been now joined by the Aetolians, the army laid waste the land and took the suburb of the town, which was unfortified; and after this Molycrium also, a Corinthian colony subject to Athens. Meanwhile the Athenian Demosthenes, who since the affair in Aetolia had remained near Naupactus, having had notice of the army and fearing for the town, went and persuaded the Acarnanians, although not without difficulty because of his departure from Leucas, to go to the relief of Naupactus. They accordingly sent with him on board his ships a thousand heavy infantry, who threw themselves into the place and saved it; the extent of its wall and the small number of its defenders otherwise placing it in the greatest danger. Meanwhile Eurylochus and his companions, finding that this force had entered and that it was impossible to storm the town, withdrew, not to Peloponnese, but to the country once called Aeolis, and now Calydon and Pleuron, and to the places in that neighbourhood, and Proschium in Aetolia; the Ambraciots having come and urged them to combine with them in attacking Amphilochian Argos and the rest of Amphilochia and Acarnania; affirming that the conquest of these countries would bring all the continent into alliance with Lacedaemon. To this Eurylochus consented, and dismissing the Aetolians, now remained quiet with his army in those parts, until the time should come for the Ambraciots to take the field, and for him to join them before Argos.
Summer was now over. The winter ensuing, the Athenians in Sicily with their Hellenic allies, and such of the Sicel subjects or allies of Syracuse as had revolted from her and joined their army, marched against the Sicel town Inessa, the acropolis of which was held by the Syracusans, and after attacking it without being able to take it, retired. In the retreat, the allies retreating after the Athenians were attacked by the Syracusans from the fort, and a large part of their army routed with great slaughter. After this, Laches and the Athenians from the ships made some descents in Locris, and defeating the Locrians, who came against them with Proxenus, son of Capaton, upon the river Caicinus, took some arms and departed.
The same winter the Athenians purified Delos, in compliance, it appears, with a certain oracle. It had been purified before by Pisistratus the tyrant; not indeed the whole island, but as much of it as could be seen from the temple. All of it was, however, now purified in the following way. All the sepulchres of those that had died in Delos were taken up, and for the future it was commanded that no one should be allowed either to die or to give birth to a child in the island; but that they should be carried over to Rhenea, which is so near to Delos that Polycrates, tyrant of Samos, having added Rhenea to his other island conquests during his period of naval ascendancy, dedicated it to the Delian Apollo by binding it to Delos with a chain.
The Athenians, after the purification, celebrated, for the first time, the quinquennial festival of the Delian games. Once upon a time, indeed, there was a great assemblage of the Ionians and the neighbouring islanders at Delos, who used to come to the festival, as the Ionians now do to that of Ephesus, and athletic and poetical contests took place there, and the cities brought choirs of dancers. Nothing can be clearer on this point than the following verses of Homer, taken from a hymn to Apollo:
Phoebus, wherever thou strayest, far or near, Delos was still of all thy haunts most dear. Thither the robed Ionians take their way With wife and child to keep thy holiday, Invoke thy favour on each manly game, And dance and sing in honour of thy name.
That there was also a poetical contest in which the Ionians went to contend, again is shown by the following, taken from the same hymn. After celebrating the Delian dance of the women, he ends his song of praise with these verses, in which he also alludes to himself:
Well, may Apollo keep you all! and so, Sweethearts, good-bye—yet tell me not I go Out from your hearts; and if in after hours Some other wanderer in this world of ours Touch at your shores, and ask your maidens here Who sings the songs the sweetest to your ear, Think of me then, and answer with a smile, 'A blind old man of Scio's rocky isle.'
Homer thus attests that there was anciently a great assembly and festival at Delos. In later times, although the islanders and the Athenians continued to send the choirs of dancers with sacrifices, the contests and most of the ceremonies were abolished, probably through adversity, until the Athenians celebrated the games upon this occasion with the novelty of horse-races.
The same winter the Ambraciots, as they had promised Eurylochus when they retained his army, marched out against Amphilochian Argos with three thousand heavy infantry, and invading the Argive territory occupied Olpae, a stronghold on a hill near the sea, which had been formerly fortified by the Acarnanians and used as the place of assizes for their nation, and which is about two miles and three-quarters from the city of Argos upon the sea-coast. Meanwhile the Acarnanians went with a part of their forces to the relief of Argos, and with the rest encamped in Amphilochia at the place called Crenae, or the Wells, to watch for Eurylochus and his Peloponnesians, and to prevent their passing through and effecting their junction with the Ambraciots; while they also sent for Demosthenes, the commander of the Aetolian expedition, to be their leader, and for the twenty Athenian ships that were cruising off Peloponnese under the command of Aristotle, son of Timocrates, and Hierophon, son of Antimnestus. On their part, the Ambraciots at Olpae sent a messenger to their own city, to beg them to come with their whole levy to their assistance, fearing that the army of Eurylochus might not be able to pass through the Acarnanians, and that they might themselves be obliged to fight single-handed, or be unable to retreat, if they wished it, without danger.
Meanwhile Eurylochus and his Peloponnesians, learning that the Ambraciots at Olpae had arrived, set out from Proschium with all haste to join them, and crossing the Achelous advanced through Acarnania, which they found deserted by its population, who had gone to the relief of Argos; keeping on their right the city of the Stratians and its garrison, and on their left the rest of Acarnania. Traversing the territory of the Stratians, they advanced through Phytia, next, skirting Medeon, through Limnaea; after which they left Acarnania behind them and entered a friendly country, that of the Agraeans. From thence they reached and crossed Mount Thymaus, which belongs to the Agraeans, and descended into the Argive territory after nightfall, and passing between the city of Argos and the Acarnanian posts at Crenae, joined the Ambraciots at Olpae.
Uniting here at daybreak, they sat down at the place called Metropolis, and encamped. Not long afterwards the Athenians in the twenty ships came into the Ambracian Gulf to support the Argives, with Demosthenes and two hundred Messenian heavy infantry, and sixty Athenian archers. While the fleet off Olpae blockaded the hill from the sea, the Acarnanians and a few of the Amphilochians, most of whom were kept back by force by the Ambraciots, had already arrived at Argos, and were preparing to give battle to the enemy, having chosen Demosthenes to command the whole of the allied army in concert with their own generals. Demosthenes led them near to Olpae and encamped, a great ravine separating the two armies. During five days they remained inactive; on the sixth both sides formed in order of battle. The army of the Peloponnesians was the largest and outflanked their opponents; and Demosthenes fearing that his right might be surrounded, placed in ambush in a hollow way overgrown with bushes some four hundred heavy infantry and light troops, who were to rise up at the moment of the onset behind the projecting left wing of the enemy, and to take them in the rear. When both sides were ready they joined battle; Demosthenes being on the right wing with the Messenians and a few Athenians, while the rest of the line was made up of the different divisions of the Acarnanians, and of the Amphilochian carters. The Peloponnesians and Ambraciots were drawn up pell-mell together, with the exception of the Mantineans, who were massed on the left, without however reaching to the extremity of the wing, where Eurylochus and his men confronted the Messenians and Demosthenes.
The Peloponnesians were now well engaged and with their outflanking wing were upon the point of turning their enemy's right; when the Acarnanians from the ambuscade set upon them from behind, and broke them at the first attack, without their staying to resist; while the panic into which they fell caused the flight of most of their army, terrified beyond measure at seeing the division of Eurylochus and their best troops cut to pieces. Most of the work was done by Demosthenes and his Messenians, who were posted in this part of the field. Meanwhile the Ambraciots (who are the best soldiers in those countries) and the troops upon the right wing, defeated the division opposed to them and pursued it to Argos. Returning from the pursuit, they found their main body defeated; and hard pressed by the Acarnanians, with difficulty made good their passage to Olpae, suffering heavy loss on the way, as they dashed on without discipline or order, the Mantineans excepted, who kept their ranks best of any in the army during the retreat.
The battle did not end until the evening. The next day Menedaius, who on the death of Eurylochus and Macarius had succeeded to the sole command, being at a loss after so signal a defeat how to stay and sustain a siege, cut off as he was by land and by the Athenian fleet by sea, and equally so how to retreat in safety, opened a parley with Demosthenes and the Acarnanian generals for a truce and permission to retreat, and at the same time for the recovery of the dead. The dead they gave back to him, and setting up a trophy took up their own also to the number of about three hundred. The retreat demanded they refused publicly to the army; but permission to depart without delay was secretly granted to the Mantineans and to Menedaius and the other commanders and principal men of the Peloponnesians by Demosthenes and his Acarnanian colleagues; who desired to strip the Ambraciots and the mercenary host of foreigners of their supporters; and, above all, to discredit the Lacedaemonians and Peloponnesians with the Hellenes in those parts, as traitors and self-seekers.
While the enemy was taking up his dead and hastily burying them as he could, and those who obtained permission were secretly planning their retreat, word was brought to Demosthenes and the Acarnanians that the Ambraciots from the city, in compliance with the first message from Olpae, were on the march with their whole levy through Amphilochia to join their countrymen at Olpae, knowing nothing of what had occurred. Demosthenes prepared to march with his army against them, and meanwhile sent on at once a strong division to beset the roads and occupy the strong positions. In the meantime the Mantineans and others included in the agreement went out under the pretence of gathering herbs and firewood, and stole off by twos and threes, picking on the way the things which they professed to have come out for, until they had gone some distance from Olpae, when they quickened their pace. The Ambraciots and such of the rest as had accompanied them in larger parties, seeing them going on, pushed on in their turn, and began running in order to catch them up. The Acarnanians at first thought that all alike were departing without permission, and began to pursue the Peloponnesians; and believing that they were being betrayed, even threw a dart or two at some of their generals who tried to stop them and told them that leave had been given. Eventually, however, they let pass the Mantineans and Peloponnesians, and slew only the Ambraciots, there being much dispute and difficulty in distinguishing whether a man was an Ambraciot or a Peloponnesian. The number thus slain was about two hundred; the rest escaped into the bordering territory of Agraea, and found refuge with Salynthius, the friendly king of the Agraeans.
Meanwhile the Ambraciots from the city arrived at Idomene. Idomene consists of two lofty hills, the higher of which the troops sent on by Demosthenes succeeded in occupying after nightfall, unobserved by the Ambraciots, who had meanwhile ascended the smaller and bivouacked under it. After supper Demosthenes set out with the rest of the army, as soon as it was evening; himself with half his force making for the pass, and the remainder going by the Amphilochian hills. At dawn he fell upon the Ambraciots while they were still abed, ignorant of what had passed, and fully thinking that it was their own countrymen—Demosthenes having purposely put the Messenians in front with orders to address them in the Doric dialect, and thus to inspire confidence in the sentinels, who would not be able to see them as it was still night. In this way he routed their army as soon as he attacked it, slaying most of them where they were, the rest breaking away in flight over the hills. The roads, however, were already occupied, and while the Amphilochians knew their own country, the Ambraciots were ignorant of it and could not tell which way to turn, and had also heavy armour as against a light-armed enemy, and so fell into ravines and into the ambushes which had been set for them, and perished there. In their manifold efforts to escape some even turned to the sea, which was not far off, and seeing the Athenian ships coasting alongshore just while the action was going on, swam off to them, thinking it better in the panic they were in, to perish, if perish they must, by the hands of the Athenians, than by those of the barbarous and detested Amphilochians. Of the large Ambraciot force destroyed in this manner, a few only reached the city in safety; while the Acarnanians, after stripping the dead and setting up a trophy, returned to Argos.
The next day arrived a herald from the Ambraciots who had fled from Olpae to the Agraeans, to ask leave to take up the dead that had fallen after the first engagement, when they left the camp with the Mantineans and their companions, without, like them, having had permission to do so. At the sight of the arms of the Ambraciots from the city, the herald was astonished at their number, knowing nothing of the disaster and fancying that they were those of their own party. Some one asked him what he was so astonished at, and how many of them had been killed, fancying in his turn that this was the herald from the troops at Idomene. He replied: "About two hundred"; upon which his interrogator took him up, saying: "Why, the arms you see here are of more than a thousand." The herald replied: "Then they are not the arms of those who fought with us?" The other answered: "Yes, they are, if at least you fought at Idomene yesterday." "But we fought with no one yesterday; but the day before in the retreat." "However that may be, we fought yesterday with those who came to reinforce you from the city of the Ambraciots." When the herald heard this and knew that the reinforcement from the city had been destroyed, he broke into wailing and, stunned at the magnitude of the present evils, went away at once without having performed his errand, or again asking for the dead bodies. Indeed, this was by far the greatest disaster that befell any one Hellenic city in an equal number of days during this war; and I have not set down the number of the dead, because the amount stated seems so out of proportion to the size of the city as to be incredible. In any case I know that if the Acarnanians and Amphilochians had wished to take Ambracia as the Athenians and Demosthenes advised, they would have done so without a blow; as it was, they feared that if the Athenians had it they would be worse neighbours to them than the present.
After this the Acarnanians allotted a third of the spoils to the Athenians, and divided the rest among their own different towns. The share of the Athenians was captured on the voyage home; the arms now deposited in the Attic temples are three hundred panoplies, which the Acarnanians set apart for Demosthenes, and which he brought to Athens in person, his return to his country after the Aetolian disaster being rendered less hazardous by this exploit. The Athenians in the twenty ships also went off to Naupactus. The Acarnanians and Amphilochians, after the departure of Demosthenes and the Athenians, granted the Ambraciots and Peloponnesians who had taken refuge with Salynthius and the Agraeans a free retreat from Oeniadae, to which place they had removed from the country of Salynthius, and for the future concluded with the Ambraciots a treaty and alliance for one hundred years, upon the terms following. It was to be a defensive, not an offensive alliance; the Ambraciots could not be required to march with the Acarnanians against the Peloponnesians, nor the Acarnanians with the Ambraciots against the Athenians; for the rest the Ambraciots were to give up the places and hostages that they held of the Amphilochians, and not to give help to Anactorium, which was at enmity with the Acarnanians. With this arrangement they put an end to the war. After this the Corinthians sent a garrison of their own citizens to Ambracia, composed of three hundred heavy infantry, under the command of Xenocleides, son of Euthycles, who reached their destination after a difficult journey across the continent. Such was the history of the affair of Ambracia.
The same winter the Athenians in Sicily made a descent from their ships upon the territory of Himera, in concert with the Sicels, who had invaded its borders from the interior, and also sailed to the islands of Aeolus. Upon their return to Rhegium they found the Athenian general, Pythodorus, son of Isolochus, come to supersede Laches in the command of the fleet. The allies in Sicily had sailed to Athens and induced the Athenians to send out more vessels to their assistance, pointing out that the Syracusans who already commanded their land were making efforts to get together a navy, to avoid being any longer excluded from the sea by a few vessels. The Athenians proceeded to man forty ships to send to them, thinking that the war in Sicily would thus be the sooner ended, and also wishing to exercise their navy. One of the generals, Pythodorus, was accordingly sent out with a few ships; Sophocles, son of Sostratides, and Eurymedon, son of Thucles, being destined to follow with the main body. Meanwhile Pythodorus had taken the command of Laches' ships, and towards the end of winter sailed against the Locrian fort, which Laches had formerly taken, and returned after being defeated in battle by the Locrians.
In the first days of this spring, the stream of fire issued from Etna, as on former occasions, and destroyed some land of the Catanians, who live upon Mount Etna, which is the largest mountain in Sicily. Fifty years, it is said, had elapsed since the last eruption, there having been three in all since the Hellenes have inhabited Sicily. Such were the events of this winter; and with it ended the sixth year of this war, of which Thucydides was the historian.
Seventh Year of the War—Occupation of Pylos—Surrender of the Spartan Army in Sphacteria
Next summer, about the time of the corn's coming into ear, ten Syracusan and as many Locrian vessels sailed to Messina, in Sicily, and occupied the town upon the invitation of the inhabitants; and Messina revolted from the Athenians. The Syracusans contrived this chiefly because they saw that the place afforded an approach to Sicily, and feared that the Athenians might hereafter use it as a base for attacking them with a larger force; the Locrians because they wished to carry on hostilities from both sides of the strait and to reduce their enemies, the people of Rhegium. Meanwhile, the Locrians had invaded the Rhegian territory with all their forces, to prevent their succouring Messina, and also at the instance of some exiles from Rhegium who were with them; the long factions by which that town had been torn rendering it for the moment incapable of resistance, and thus furnishing an additional temptation to the invaders. After devastating the country the Locrian land forces retired, their ships remaining to guard Messina, while others were being manned for the same destination to carry on the war from thence.
About the same time in the spring, before the corn was ripe, the Peloponnesians and their allies invaded Attica under Agis, the son of Archidamus, king of the Lacedaemonians, and sat down and laid waste the country. Meanwhile the Athenians sent off the forty ships which they had been preparing to Sicily, with the remaining generals Eurymedon and Sophocles; their colleague Pythodorus having already preceded them thither. These had also instructions as they sailed by to look to the Corcyraeans in the town, who were being plundered by the exiles in the mountain. To support these exiles sixty Peloponnesian vessels had lately sailed, it being thought that the famine raging in the city would make it easy for them to reduce it. Demosthenes also, who had remained without employment since his return from Acarnania, applied and obtained permission to use the fleet, if he wished it, upon the coast of Peloponnese.
Off Laconia they heard that the Peloponnesian ships were already at Corcyra, upon which Eurymedon and Sophocles wished to hasten to the island, but Demosthenes required them first to touch at Pylos and do what was wanted there, before continuing their voyage. While they were making objections, a squall chanced to come on and carried the fleet into Pylos. Demosthenes at once urged them to fortify the place, it being for this that he had come on the voyage, and made them observe there was plenty of stone and timber on the spot, and that the place was strong by nature, and together with much of the country round unoccupied; Pylos, or Coryphasium, as the Lacedaemonians call it, being about forty-five miles distant from Sparta, and situated in the old country of the Messenians. The commanders told him that there was no lack of desert headlands in Peloponnese if he wished to put the city to expense by occupying them. He, however, thought that this place was distinguished from others of the kind by having a harbour close by; while the Messenians, the old natives of the country, speaking the same dialect as the Lacedaemonians, could do them the greatest mischief by their incursions from it, and would at the same time be a trusty garrison.
After speaking to the captains of companies on the subject, and failing to persuade either the generals or the soldiers, he remained inactive with the rest from stress of weather; until the soldiers themselves wanting occupation were seized with a sudden impulse to go round and fortify the place. Accordingly they set to work in earnest, and having no iron tools, picked up stones, and put them together as they happened to fit, and where mortar was needed, carried it on their backs for want of hods, stooping down to make it stay on, and clasping their hands together behind to prevent it falling off; sparing no effort to be able to complete the most vulnerable points before the arrival of the Lacedaemonians, most of the place being sufficiently strong by nature without further fortifications.
Meanwhile the Lacedaemonians were celebrating a festival, and also at first made light of the news, in the idea that whenever they chose to take the field the place would be immediately evacuated by the enemy or easily taken by force; the absence of their army before Athens having also something to do with their delay. The Athenians fortified the place on the land side, and where it most required it, in six days, and leaving Demosthenes with five ships to garrison it, with the main body of the fleet hastened on their voyage to Corcyra and Sicily.
As soon as the Peloponnesians in Attica heard of the occupation of Pylos, they hurried back home; the Lacedaemonians and their king Agis thinking that the matter touched them nearly. Besides having made their invasion early in the season, and while the corn was still green, most of their troops were short of provisions: the weather also was unusually bad for the time of year, and greatly distressed their army. Many reasons thus combined to hasten their departure and to make this invasion a very short one; indeed they only stayed fifteen days in Attica.
About the same time the Athenian general Simonides getting together a few Athenians from the garrisons, and a number of the allies in those parts, took Eion in Thrace, a Mendaean colony and hostile to Athens, by treachery, but had no sooner done so than the Chalcidians and Bottiaeans came up and beat him out of it, with the loss of many of his soldiers.
On the return of the Peloponnesians from Attica, the Spartans themselves and the nearest of the Perioeci at once set out for Pylos, the other Lacedaemonians following more slowly, as they had just come in from another campaign. Word was also sent round Peloponnese to come up as quickly as possible to Pylos; while the sixty Peloponnesian ships were sent for from Corcyra, and being dragged by their crews across the isthmus of Leucas, passed unperceived by the Athenian squadron at Zacynthus, and reached Pylos, where the land forces had arrived before them. Before the Peloponnesian fleet sailed in, Demosthenes found time to send out unobserved two ships to inform Eurymedon and the Athenians on board the fleet at Zacynthus of the danger of Pylos and to summon them to his assistance. While the ships hastened on their voyage in obedience to the orders of Demosthenes, the Lacedaemonians prepared to assault the fort by land and sea, hoping to capture with ease a work constructed in haste, and held by a feeble garrison. Meanwhile, as they expected the Athenian ships to arrive from Zacynthus, they intended, if they failed to take the place before, to block up the entrances of the harbour to prevent their being able to anchor inside it. For the island of Sphacteria, stretching along in a line close in front of the harbour, at once makes it safe and narrows its entrances, leaving a passage for two ships on the side nearest Pylos and the Athenian fortifications, and for eight or nine on that next the rest of the mainland: for the rest, the island was entirely covered with wood, and without paths through not being inhabited, and about one mile and five furlongs in length. The inlets the Lacedaemonians meant to close with a line of ships placed close together, with their prows turned towards the sea, and, meanwhile, fearing that the enemy might make use of the island to operate against them, carried over some heavy infantry thither, stationing others along the coast. By this means the island and the continent would be alike hostile to the Athenians, as they would be unable to land on either; and the shore of Pylos itself outside the inlet towards the open sea having no harbour, and, therefore, presenting no point which they could use as a base to relieve their countrymen, they, the Lacedaemonians, without sea-fight or risk would in all probability become masters of the place, occupied as it had been on the spur of the moment, and unfurnished with provisions. This being determined, they carried over to the island the heavy infantry, drafted by lot from all the companies. Some others had crossed over before in relief parties, but these last who were left there were four hundred and twenty in number, with their Helot attendants, commanded by Epitadas, son of Molobrus.
Meanwhile Demosthenes, seeing the Lacedaemonians about to attack him by sea and land at once, himself was not idle. He drew up under the fortification and enclosed in a stockade the galleys remaining to him of those which had been left him, arming the sailors taken out of them with poor shields made most of them of osier, it being impossible to procure arms in such a desert place, and even these having been obtained from a thirty-oared Messenian privateer and a boat belonging to some Messenians who happened to have come to them. Among these Messenians were forty heavy infantry, whom he made use of with the rest. Posting most of his men, unarmed and armed, upon the best fortified and strong points of the place towards the interior, with orders to repel any attack of the land forces, he picked sixty heavy infantry and a few archers from his whole force, and with these went outside the wall down to the sea, where he thought that the enemy would most likely attempt to land. Although the ground was difficult and rocky, looking towards the open sea, the fact that this was the weakest part of the wall would, he thought, encourage their ardour, as the Athenians, confident in their naval superiority, had here paid little attention to their defences, and the enemy if he could force a landing might feel secure of taking the place. At this point, accordingly, going down to the water's edge, he posted his heavy infantry to prevent, if possible, a landing, and encouraged them in the following terms:
"Soldiers and comrades in this adventure, I hope that none of you in our present strait will think to show his wit by exactly calculating all the perils that encompass us, but that you will rather hasten to close with the enemy, without staying to count the odds, seeing in this your best chance of safety. In emergencies like ours calculation is out of place; the sooner the danger is faced the better. To my mind also most of the chances are for us, if we will only stand fast and not throw away our advantages, overawed by the numbers of the enemy. One of the points in our favour is the awkwardness of the landing. This, however, only helps us if we stand our ground. If we give way it will be practicable enough, in spite of its natural difficulty, without a defender; and the enemy will instantly become more formidable from the difficulty he will have in retreating, supposing that we succeed in repulsing him, which we shall find it easier to do, while he is on board his ships, than after he has landed and meets us on equal terms. As to his numbers, these need not too much alarm you. Large as they may be he can only engage in small detachments, from the impossibility of bringing to. Besides, the numerical superiority that we have to meet is not that of an army on land with everything else equal, but of troops on board ship, upon an element where many favourable accidents are required to act with effect. I therefore consider that his difficulties may be fairly set against our numerical deficiencies, and at the same time I charge you, as Athenians who know by experience what landing from ships on a hostile territory means, and how impossible it is to drive back an enemy determined enough to stand his ground and not to be frightened away by the surf and the terrors of the ships sailing in, to stand fast in the present emergency, beat back the enemy at the water's edge, and save yourselves and the place."
Thus encouraged by Demosthenes, the Athenians felt more confident, and went down to meet the enemy, posting themselves along the edge of the sea. The Lacedaemonians now put themselves in movement and simultaneously assaulted the fortification with their land forces and with their ships, forty-three in number, under their admiral, Thrasymelidas, son of Cratesicles, a Spartan, who made his attack just where Demosthenes expected. The Athenians had thus to defend themselves on both sides, from the land and from the sea; the enemy rowing up in small detachments, the one relieving the other—it being impossible for many to bring to at once—and showing great ardour and cheering each other on, in the endeavour to force a passage and to take the fortification. He who most distinguished himself was Brasidas. Captain of a galley, and seeing that the captains and steersmen, impressed by the difficulty of the position, hung back even where a landing might have seemed possible, for fear of wrecking their vessels, he shouted out to them, that they must never allow the enemy to fortify himself in their country for the sake of saving timber, but must shiver their vessels and force a landing; and bade the allies, instead of hesitating in such a moment to sacrifice their ships for Lacedaemon in return for her many benefits, to run them boldly aground, land in one way or another, and make themselves masters of the place and its garrison.
Not content with this exhortation, he forced his own steersman to run his ship ashore, and stepping on to the gangway, was endeavouring to land, when he was cut down by the Athenians, and after receiving many wounds fainted away. Falling into the bows, his shield slipped off his arm into the sea, and being thrown ashore was picked up by the Athenians, and afterwards used for the trophy which they set up for this attack. The rest also did their best, but were not able to land, owing to the difficulty of the ground and the unflinching tenacity of the Athenians. It was a strange reversal of the order of things for Athenians to be fighting from the land, and from Laconian land too, against Lacedaemonians coming from the sea; while Lacedaemonians were trying to land from shipboard in their own country, now become hostile, to attack Athenians, although the former were chiefly famous at the time as an inland people and superior by land, the latter as a maritime people with a navy that had no equal.
After continuing their attacks during that day and most of the next, the Peloponnesians desisted, and the day after sent some of their ships to Asine for timber to make engines, hoping to take by their aid, in spite of its height, the wall opposite the harbour, where the landing was easiest. At this moment the Athenian fleet from Zacynthus arrived, now numbering fifty sail, having been reinforced by some of the ships on guard at Naupactus and by four Chian vessels. Seeing the coast and the island both crowded with heavy infantry, and the hostile ships in harbour showing no signs of sailing out, at a loss where to anchor, they sailed for the moment to the desert island of Prote, not far off, where they passed the night. The next day they got under way in readiness to engage in the open sea if the enemy chose to put out to meet them, being determined in the event of his not doing so to sail in and attack him. The Lacedaemonians did not put out to sea, and having omitted to close the inlets as they had intended, remained quiet on shore, engaged in manning their ships and getting ready, in the case of any one sailing in, to fight in the harbour, which is a fairly large one.
Perceiving this, the Athenians advanced against them by each inlet, and falling on the enemy's fleet, most of which was by this time afloat and in line, at once put it to flight, and giving chase as far as the short distance allowed, disabled a good many vessels and took five, one with its crew on board; dashing in at the rest that had taken refuge on shore, and battering some that were still being manned, before they could put out, and lashing on to their own ships and towing off empty others whose crews had fled. At this sight the Lacedaemonians, maddened by a disaster which cut off their men on the island, rushed to the rescue, and going into the sea with their heavy armour, laid hold of the ships and tried to drag them back, each man thinking that success depended on his individual exertions. Great was the melee, and quite in contradiction to the naval tactics usual to the two combatants; the Lacedaemonians in their excitement and dismay being actually engaged in a sea-fight on land, while the victorious Athenians, in their eagerness to push their success as far as possible, were carrying on a land-fight from their ships. After great exertions and numerous wounds on both sides they separated, the Lacedaemonians saving their empty ships, except those first taken; and both parties returning to their camp, the Athenians set up a trophy, gave back the dead, secured the wrecks, and at once began to cruise round and jealously watch the island, with its intercepted garrison, while the Peloponnesians on the mainland, whose contingents had now all come up, stayed where they were before Pylos.
When the news of what had happened at Pylos reached Sparta, the disaster was thought so serious that the Lacedaemonians resolved that the authorities should go down to the camp, and decide on the spot what was best to be done. There, seeing that it was impossible to help their men, and not wishing to risk their being reduced by hunger or overpowered by numbers, they determined, with the consent of the Athenian generals, to conclude an armistice at Pylos and send envoys to Athens to obtain a convention, and to endeavour to get back their men as quickly as possible.
The generals accepting their offers, an armistice was concluded upon the terms following:
That the Lacedaemonians should bring to Pylos and deliver up to the Athenians the ships that had fought in the late engagement, and all in Laconia that were vessels of war, and should make no attack on the fortification either by land or by sea.
That the Athenians should allow the Lacedaemonians on the mainland to send to the men in the island a certain fixed quantity of corn ready kneaded, that is to say, two quarts of barley meal, one pint of wine, and a piece of meat for each man, and half the same quantity for a servant.
That this allowance should be sent in under the eyes of the Athenians, and that no boat should sail to the island except openly.
That the Athenians should continue to the island same as before, without however landing upon it, and should refrain from attacking the Peloponnesian troops either by land or by sea.
That if either party should infringe any of these terms in the slightest particular, the armistice should be at once void.
That the armistice should hold good until the return of the Lacedaemonian envoys from Athens—the Athenians sending them thither in a galley and bringing them back again—and upon the arrival of the envoys should be at an end, and the ships be restored by the Athenians in the same state as they received them.
Such were the terms of the armistice, and the ships were delivered over to the number of sixty, and the envoys sent off accordingly. Arrived at Athens they spoke as follows:
"Athenians, the Lacedaemonians sent us to try to find some way of settling the affair of our men on the island, that shall be at once satisfactory to our interests, and as consistent with our dignity in our misfortune as circumstances permit. We can venture to speak at some length without any departure from the habit of our country. Men of few words where many are not wanted, we can be less brief when there is a matter of importance to be illustrated and an end to be served by its illustration. Meanwhile we beg you to take what we may say, not in a hostile spirit, nor as if we thought you ignorant and wished to lecture you, but rather as a suggestion on the best course to be taken, addressed to intelligent judges. You can now, if you choose, employ your present success to advantage, so as to keep what you have got and gain honour and reputation besides, and you can avoid the mistake of those who meet with an extraordinary piece of good fortune, and are led on by hope to grasp continually at something further, through having already succeeded without expecting it. While those who have known most vicissitudes of good and bad, have also justly least faith in their prosperity; and to teach your city and ours this lesson experience has not been wanting.
"To be convinced of this you have only to look at our present misfortune. What power in Hellas stood higher than we did? and yet we are come to you, although we formerly thought ourselves more able to grant what we are now here to ask. Nevertheless, we have not been brought to this by any decay in our power, or through having our heads turned by aggrandizement; no, our resources are what they have always been, and our error has been an error of judgment, to which all are equally liable. Accordingly, the prosperity which your city now enjoys, and the accession that it has lately received, must not make you fancy that fortune will be always with you. Indeed sensible men are prudent enough to treat their gains as precarious, just as they would also keep a clear head in adversity, and think that war, so far from staying within the limit to which a combatant may wish to confine it, will run the course that its chances prescribe; and thus, not being puffed up by confidence in military success, they are less likely to come to grief, and most ready to make peace, if they can, while their fortune lasts. This, Athenians, you have a good opportunity to do now with us, and thus to escape the possible disasters which may follow upon your refusal, and the consequent imputation of having owed to accident even your present advantages, when you might have left behind you a reputation for power and wisdom which nothing could endanger.
"The Lacedaemonians accordingly invite you to make a treaty and to end the war, and offer peace and alliance and the most friendly and intimate relations in every way and on every occasion between us; and in return ask for the men on the island, thinking it better for both parties not to stand out to the end, on the chance of some favourable accident enabling the men to force their way out, or of their being compelled to succumb under the pressure of blockade. Indeed if great enmities are ever to be really settled, we think it will be, not by the system of revenge and military success, and by forcing an opponent to swear to a treaty to his disadvantage, but when the more fortunate combatant waives these his privileges, to be guided by gentler feelings conquers his rival in generosity, and accords peace on more moderate conditions than he expected. From that moment, instead of the debt of revenge which violence must entail, his adversary owes a debt of generosity to be paid in kind, and is inclined by honour to stand to his agreement. And men oftener act in this manner towards their greatest enemies than where the quarrel is of less importance; they are also by nature as glad to give way to those who first yield to them, as they are apt to be provoked by arrogance to risks condemned by their own judgment.
"To apply this to ourselves: if peace was ever desirable for both parties, it is surely so at the present moment, before anything irremediable befall us and force us to hate you eternally, personally as well as politically, and you to miss the advantages that we now offer you. While the issue is still in doubt, and you have reputation and our friendship in prospect, and we the compromise of our misfortune before anything fatal occur, let us be reconciled, and for ourselves choose peace instead of war, and grant to the rest of the Hellenes a remission from their sufferings, for which be sure they will think they have chiefly you to thank. The war that they labour under they know not which began, but the peace that concludes it, as it depends on your decision, will by their gratitude be laid to your door. By such a decision you can become firm friends with the Lacedaemonians at their own invitation, which you do not force from them, but oblige them by accepting. And from this friendship consider the advantages that are likely to follow: when Attica and Sparta are at one, the rest of Hellas, be sure, will remain in respectful inferiority before its heads."
Such were the words of the Lacedaemonians, their idea being that the Athenians, already desirous of a truce and only kept back by their opposition, would joyfully accept a peace freely offered, and give back the men. The Athenians, however, having the men on the island, thought that the treaty would be ready for them whenever they chose to make it, and grasped at something further. Foremost to encourage them in this policy was Cleon, son of Cleaenetus, a popular leader of the time and very powerful with the multitude, who persuaded them to answer as follows: First, the men in the island must surrender themselves and their arms and be brought to Athens. Next, the Lacedaemonians must restore Nisaea, Pegae, Troezen, and Achaia, all places acquired not by arms, but by the previous convention, under which they had been ceded by Athens herself at a moment of disaster, when a truce was more necessary to her than at present. This done they might take back their men, and make a truce for as long as both parties might agree.
To this answer the envoys made no reply, but asked that commissioners might be chosen with whom they might confer on each point, and quietly talk the matter over and try to come to some agreement. Hereupon Cleon violently assailed them, saying that he knew from the first that they had no right intentions, and that it was clear enough now by their refusing to speak before the people, and wanting to confer in secret with a committee of two or three. No, if they meant anything honest let them say it out before all. The Lacedaemonians, however, seeing that whatever concessions they might be prepared to make in their misfortune, it was impossible for them to speak before the multitude and lose credit with their allies for a negotiation which might after all miscarry, and on the other hand, that the Athenians would never grant what they asked upon moderate terms, returned from Athens without having effected anything.
Their arrival at once put an end to the armistice at Pylos, and the Lacedaemonians asked back their ships according to the convention. The Athenians, however, alleged an attack on the fort in contravention of the truce, and other grievances seemingly not worth mentioning, and refused to give them back, insisting upon the clause by which the slightest infringement made the armistice void. The Lacedaemonians, after denying the contravention and protesting against their bad faith in the matter of the ships, went away and earnestly addressed themselves to the war. Hostilities were now carried on at Pylos upon both sides with vigour. The Athenians cruised round the island all day with two ships going different ways; and by night, except on the seaward side in windy weather, anchored round it with their whole fleet, which, having been reinforced by twenty ships from Athens come to aid in the blockade, now numbered seventy sail; while the Peloponnesians remained encamped on the continent, making attacks on the fort, and on the look-out for any opportunity which might offer itself for the deliverance of their men.
Meanwhile the Syracusans and their allies in Sicily had brought up to the squadron guarding Messina the reinforcement which we left them preparing, and carried on the war from thence, incited chiefly by the Locrians from hatred of the Rhegians, whose territory they had invaded with all their forces. The Syracusans also wished to try their fortune at sea, seeing that the Athenians had only a few ships actually at Rhegium, and hearing that the main fleet destined to join them was engaged in blockading the island. A naval victory, they thought, would enable them to blockade Rhegium by sea and land, and easily to reduce it; a success which would at once place their affairs upon a solid basis, the promontory of Rhegium in Italy and Messina in Sicily being so near each other that it would be impossible for the Athenians to cruise against them and command the strait. The strait in question consists of the sea between Rhegium and Messina, at the point where Sicily approaches nearest to the continent, and is the Charybdis through which the story makes Ulysses sail; and the narrowness of the passage and the strength of the current that pours in from the vast Tyrrhenian and Sicilian mains, have rightly given it a bad reputation.
In this strait the Syracusans and their allies were compelled to fight, late in the day, about the passage of a boat, putting out with rather more than thirty ships against sixteen Athenian and eight Rhegian vessels. Defeated by the Athenians they hastily set off, each for himself, to their own stations at Messina and Rhegium, with the loss of one ship; night coming on before the battle was finished. After this the Locrians retired from the Rhegian territory, and the ships of the Syracusans and their allies united and came to anchor at Cape Pelorus, in the territory of Messina, where their land forces joined them. Here the Athenians and Rhegians sailed up, and seeing the ships unmanned, made an attack, in which they in their turn lost one vessel, which was caught by a grappling iron, the crew saving themselves by swimming. After this the Syracusans got on board their ships, and while they were being towed alongshore to Messina, were again attacked by the Athenians, but suddenly got out to sea and became the assailants, and caused them to lose another vessel. After thus holding their own in the voyage alongshore and in the engagement as above described, the Syracusans sailed on into the harbour of Messina.
Meanwhile the Athenians, having received warning that Camarina was about to be betrayed to the Syracusans by Archias and his party, sailed thither; and the Messinese took this opportunity to attack by sea and land with all their forces their Chalcidian neighbour, Naxos. The first day they forced the Naxians to keep their walls, and laid waste their country; the next they sailed round with their ships, and laid waste their land on the river Akesines, while their land forces menaced the city. Meanwhile the Sicels came down from the high country in great numbers, to aid against the Messinese; and the Naxians, elated at the sight, and animated by a belief that the Leontines and their other Hellenic allies were coming to their support, suddenly sallied out from the town, and attacked and routed the Messinese, killing more than a thousand of them; while the remainder suffered severely in their retreat home, being attacked by the barbarians on the road, and most of them cut off. The ships put in to Messina, and afterwards dispersed for their different homes. The Leontines and their allies, with the Athenians, upon this at once turned their arms against the now weakened Messina, and attacked, the Athenians with their ships on the side of the harbour, and the land forces on that of the town. The Messinese, however, sallying out with Demoteles and some Locrians who had been left to garrison the city after the disaster, suddenly attacked and routed most of the Leontine army, killing a great number; upon seeing which the Athenians landed from their ships, and falling on the Messinese in disorder chased them back into the town, and setting up a trophy retired to Rhegium. After this the Hellenes in Sicily continued to make war on each other by land, without the Athenians.
Meanwhile the Athenians at Pylos were still besieging the Lacedaemonians in the island, the Peloponnesian forces on the continent remaining where they were. The blockade was very laborious for the Athenians from want of food and water; there was no spring except one in the citadel of Pylos itself, and that not a large one, and most of them were obliged to grub up the shingle on the sea beach and drink such water as they could find. They also suffered from want of room, being encamped in a narrow space; and as there was no anchorage for the ships, some took their meals on shore in their turn, while the others were anchored out at sea. But their greatest discouragement arose from the unexpectedly long time which it took to reduce a body of men shut up in a desert island, with only brackish water to drink, a matter which they had imagined would take them only a few days. The fact was that the Lacedaemonians had made advertisement for volunteers to carry into the island ground corn, wine, cheese, and any other food useful in a siege; high prices being offered, and freedom promised to any of the Helots who should succeed in doing so. The Helots accordingly were most forward to engage in this risky traffic, putting off from this or that part of Peloponnese, and running in by night on the seaward side of the island. They were best pleased, however, when they could catch a wind to carry them in. It was more easy to elude the look-out of the galleys, when it blew from the seaward, as it became impossible for them to anchor round the island; while the Helots had their boats rated at their value in money, and ran them ashore, without caring how they landed, being sure to find the soldiers waiting for them at the landing-places. But all who risked it in fair weather were taken. Divers also swam in under water from the harbour, dragging by a cord in skins poppyseed mixed with honey, and bruised linseed; these at first escaped notice, but afterwards a look-out was kept for them. In short, both sides tried every possible contrivance, the one to throw in provisions, and the other to prevent their introduction.
At Athens, meanwhile, the news that the army was in great distress, and that corn found its way in to the men in the island, caused no small perplexity; and the Athenians began to fear that winter might come on and find them still engaged in the blockade. They saw that the convoying of provisions round Peloponnese would be then impossible. The country offered no resources in itself, and even in summer they could not send round enough. The blockade of a place without harbours could no longer be kept up; and the men would either escape by the siege being abandoned, or would watch for bad weather and sail out in the boats that brought in their corn. What caused still more alarm was the attitude of the Lacedaemonians, who must, it was thought by the Athenians, feel themselves on strong ground not to send them any more envoys; and they began to repent having rejected the treaty. Cleon, perceiving the disfavour with which he was regarded for having stood in the way of the convention, now said that their informants did not speak the truth; and upon the messengers recommending them, if they did not believe them, to send some commissioners to see, Cleon himself and Theagenes were chosen by the Athenians as commissioners. Aware that he would now be obliged either to say what had been already said by the men whom he was slandering, or be proved a liar if he said the contrary, he told the Athenians, whom he saw to be not altogether disinclined for a fresh expedition, that instead of sending and wasting their time and opportunities, if they believed what was told them, they ought to sail against the men. And pointing at Nicias, son of Niceratus, then general, whom he hated, he tauntingly said that it would be easy, if they had men for generals, to sail with a force and take those in the island, and that if he had himself been in command, he would have done it.
Nicias, seeing the Athenians murmuring against Cleon for not sailing now if it seemed to him so easy, and further seeing himself the object of attack, told him that for all that the generals cared, he might take what force he chose and make the attempt. At first Cleon fancied that this resignation was merely a figure of speech, and was ready to go, but finding that it was seriously meant, he drew back, and said that Nicias, not he, was general, being now frightened, and having never supposed that Nicias would go so far as to retire in his favour. Nicias, however, repeated his offer, and resigned the command against Pylos, and called the Athenians to witness that he did so. And as the multitude is wont to do, the more Cleon shrank from the expedition and tried to back out of what he had said, the more they encouraged Nicias to hand over his command, and clamoured at Cleon to go. At last, not knowing how to get out of his words, he undertook the expedition, and came forward and said that he was not afraid of the Lacedaemonians, but would sail without taking any one from the city with him, except the Lemnians and Imbrians that were at Athens, with some targeteers that had come up from Aenus, and four hundred archers from other quarters. With these and the soldiers at Pylos, he would within twenty days either bring the Lacedaemonians alive, or kill them on the spot. The Athenians could not help laughing at his fatuity, while sensible men comforted themselves with the reflection that they must gain in either circumstance; either they would be rid of Cleon, which they rather hoped, or if disappointed in this expectation, would reduce the Lacedaemonians.
After he had settled everything in the assembly, and the Athenians had voted him the command of the expedition, he chose as his colleague Demosthenes, one of the generals at Pylos, and pushed forward the preparations for his voyage. His choice fell upon Demosthenes because he heard that he was contemplating a descent on the island; the soldiers distressed by the difficulties of the position, and rather besieged than besiegers, being eager to fight it out, while the firing of the island had increased the confidence of the general. He had been at first afraid, because the island having never been inhabited was almost entirely covered with wood and without paths, thinking this to be in the enemy's favour, as he might land with a large force, and yet might suffer loss by an attack from an unseen position. The mistakes and forces of the enemy the wood would in a great measure conceal from him, while every blunder of his own troops would be at once detected, and they would be thus able to fall upon him unexpectedly just where they pleased, the attack being always in their power. If, on the other hand, he should force them to engage in the thicket, the smaller number who knew the country would, he thought, have the advantage over the larger who were ignorant of it, while his own army might be cut off imperceptibly, in spite of its numbers, as the men would not be able to see where to succour each other.
The Aetolian disaster, which had been mainly caused by the wood, had not a little to do with these reflections. Meanwhile, one of the soldiers who were compelled by want of room to land on the extremities of the island and take their dinners, with outposts fixed to prevent a surprise, set fire to a little of the wood without meaning to do so; and as it came on to blow soon afterwards, almost the whole was consumed before they were aware of it. Demosthenes was now able for the first time to see how numerous the Lacedaemonians really were, having up to this moment been under the impression that they took in provisions for a smaller number; he also saw that the Athenians thought success important and were anxious about it, and that it was now easier to land on the island, and accordingly got ready for the attempt, sent for troops from the allies in the neighbourhood, and pushed forward his other preparations. At this moment Cleon arrived at Pylos with the troops which he had asked for, having sent on word to say that he was coming. The first step taken by the two generals after their meeting was to send a herald to the camp on the mainland, to ask if they were disposed to avoid all risk and to order the men on the island to surrender themselves and their arms, to be kept in gentle custody until some general convention should be concluded.
On the rejection of this proposition the generals let one day pass, and the next, embarking all their heavy infantry on board a few ships, put out by night, and a little before dawn landed on both sides of the island from the open sea and from the harbour, being about eight hundred strong, and advanced with a run against the first post in the island.
The enemy had distributed his force as follows: In this first post there were about thirty heavy infantry; the centre and most level part, where the water was, was held by the main body, and by Epitadas their commander; while a small party guarded the very end of the island, towards Pylos, which was precipitous on the sea-side and very difficult to attack from the land, and where there was also a sort of old fort of stones rudely put together, which they thought might be useful to them, in case they should be forced to retreat. Such was their disposition.
The advanced post thus attacked by the Athenians was at once put to the sword, the men being scarcely out of bed and still arming, the landing having taken them by surprise, as they fancied the ships were only sailing as usual to their stations for the night. As soon as day broke, the rest of the army landed, that is to say, all the crews of rather more than seventy ships, except the lowest rank of oars, with the arms they carried, eight hundred archers, and as many targeteers, the Messenian reinforcements, and all the other troops on duty round Pylos, except the garrison on the fort. The tactics of Demosthenes had divided them into companies of two hundred, more or less, and made them occupy the highest points in order to paralyse the enemy by surrounding him on every side and thus leaving him without any tangible adversary, exposed to the cross-fire of their host; plied by those in his rear if he attacked in front, and by those on one flank if he moved against those on the other. In short, wherever he went he would have the assailants behind him, and these light-armed assailants, the most awkward of all; arrows, darts, stones, and slings making them formidable at a distance, and there being no means of getting at them at close quarters, as they could conquer flying, and the moment their pursuer turned they were upon him. Such was the idea that inspired Demosthenes in his conception of the descent, and presided over its execution.
Meanwhile the main body of the troops in the island (that under Epitadas), seeing their outpost cut off and an army advancing against them, serried their ranks and pressed forward to close with the Athenian heavy infantry in front of them, the light troops being upon their flanks and rear. However, they were not able to engage or to profit by their superior skill, the light troops keeping them in check on either side with their missiles, and the heavy infantry remaining stationary instead of advancing to meet them; and although they routed the light troops wherever they ran up and approached too closely, yet they retreated fighting, being lightly equipped, and easily getting the start in their flight, from the difficult and rugged nature of the ground, in an island hitherto desert, over which the Lacedaemonians could not pursue them with their heavy armour.
After this skirmishing had lasted some little while, the Lacedaemonians became unable to dash out with the same rapidity as before upon the points attacked, and the light troops finding that they now fought with less vigour, became more confident. They could see with their own eyes that they were many times more numerous than the enemy; they were now more familiar with his aspect and found him less terrible, the result not having justified the apprehensions which they had suffered, when they first landed in slavish dismay at the idea of attacking Lacedaemonians; and accordingly their fear changing to disdain, they now rushed all together with loud shouts upon them, and pelted them with stones, darts, and arrows, whichever came first to hand. The shouting accompanying their onset confounded the Lacedaemonians, unaccustomed to this mode of fighting; dust rose from the newly burnt wood, and it was impossible to see in front of one with the arrows and stones flying through clouds of dust from the hands of numerous assailants. The Lacedaemonians had now to sustain a rude conflict; their caps would not keep out the arrows, darts had broken off in the armour of the wounded, while they themselves were helpless for offence, being prevented from using their eyes to see what was before them, and unable to hear the words of command for the hubbub raised by the enemy; danger encompassed them on every side, and there was no hope of any means of defence or safety.
At last, after many had been already wounded in the confined space in which they were fighting, they formed in close order and retired on the fort at the end of the island, which was not far off, and to their friends who held it. The moment they gave way, the light troops became bolder and pressed upon them, shouting louder than ever, and killed as many as they came up with in their retreat, but most of the Lacedaemonians made good their escape to the fort, and with the garrison in it ranged themselves all along its whole extent to repulse the enemy wherever it was assailable. The Athenians pursuing, unable to surround and hem them in, owing to the strength of the ground, attacked them in front and tried to storm the position. For a long time, indeed for most of the day, both sides held out against all the torments of the battle, thirst, and sun, the one endeavouring to drive the enemy from the high ground, the other to maintain himself upon it, it being now more easy for the Lacedaemonians to defend themselves than before, as they could not be surrounded on the flanks.
The struggle began to seem endless, when the commander of the Messenians came to Cleon and Demosthenes, and told them that they were losing their labour: but if they would give him some archers and light troops to go round on the enemy's rear by a way he would undertake to find, he thought he could force the approach. Upon receiving what he asked for, he started from a point out of sight in order not to be seen by the enemy, and creeping on wherever the precipices of the island permitted, and where the Lacedaemonians, trusting to the strength of the ground, kept no guard, succeeded after the greatest difficulty in getting round without their seeing him, and suddenly appeared on the high ground in their rear, to the dismay of the surprised enemy and the still greater joy of his expectant friends. The Lacedaemonians thus placed between two fires, and in the same dilemma, to compare small things with great, as at Thermopylae, where the defenders were cut off through the Persians getting round by the path, being now attacked in front and behind, began to give way, and overcome by the odds against them and exhausted from want of food, retreated.
The Athenians were already masters of the approaches when Cleon and Demosthenes perceiving that, if the enemy gave way a single step further, they would be destroyed by their soldiery, put a stop to the battle and held their men back; wishing to take the Lacedaemonians alive to Athens, and hoping that their stubbornness might relax on hearing the offer of terms, and that they might surrender and yield to the present overwhelming danger. Proclamation was accordingly made, to know if they would surrender themselves and their arms to the Athenians to be dealt at their discretion.
The Lacedaemonians hearing this offer, most of them lowered their shields and waved their hands to show that they accepted it. Hostilities now ceased, and a parley was held between Cleon and Demosthenes and Styphon, son of Pharax, on the other side; since Epitadas, the first of the previous commanders, had been killed, and Hippagretas, the next in command, left for dead among the slain, though still alive, and thus the command had devolved upon Styphon according to the law, in case of anything happening to his superiors. Styphon and his companions said they wished to send a herald to the Lacedaemonians on the mainland, to know what they were to do. The Athenians would not let any of them go, but themselves called for heralds from the mainland, and after questions had been carried backwards and forwards two or three times, the last man that passed over from the Lacedaemonians on the continent brought this message: "The Lacedaemonians bid you to decide for yourselves so long as you do nothing dishonourable"; upon which after consulting together they surrendered themselves and their arms. The Athenians, after guarding them that day and night, the next morning set up a trophy in the island, and got ready to sail, giving their prisoners in batches to be guarded by the captains of the galleys; and the Lacedaemonians sent a herald and took up their dead. The number of the killed and prisoners taken in the island was as follows: four hundred and twenty heavy infantry had passed over; three hundred all but eight were taken alive to Athens; the rest were killed. About a hundred and twenty of the prisoners were Spartans. The Athenian loss was small, the battle not having been fought at close quarters.
The blockade in all, counting from the fight at sea to the battle in the island, had lasted seventy-two days. For twenty of these, during the absence of the envoys sent to treat for peace, the men had provisions given them, for the rest they were fed by the smugglers. Corn and other victual was found in the island; the commander Epitadas having kept the men upon half rations. The Athenians and Peloponnesians now each withdrew their forces from Pylos, and went home, and crazy as Cleon's promise was, he fulfilled it, by bringing the men to Athens within the twenty days as he had pledged himself to do.
Nothing that happened in the war surprised the Hellenes so much as this. It was the opinion that no force or famine could make the Lacedaemonians give up their arms, but that they would fight on as they could, and die with them in their hands: indeed people could scarcely believe that those who had surrendered were of the same stuff as the fallen; and an Athenian ally, who some time after insultingly asked one of the prisoners from the island if those that had fallen were men of honour, received for answer that the atraktos—that is, the arrow—would be worth a great deal if it could tell men of honour from the rest; in allusion to the fact that the killed were those whom the stones and the arrows happened to hit.
Upon the arrival of the men the Athenians determined to keep them in prison until the peace, and if the Peloponnesians invaded their country in the interval, to bring them out and put them to death. Meanwhile the defence of Pylos was not forgotten; the Messenians from Naupactus sent to their old country, to which Pylos formerly belonged, some of the likeliest of their number, and began a series of incursions into Laconia, which their common dialect rendered most destructive. The Lacedaemonians, hitherto without experience of incursions or a warfare of the kind, finding the Helots deserting, and fearing the march of revolution in their country, began to be seriously uneasy, and in spite of their unwillingness to betray this to the Athenians began to send envoys to Athens, and tried to recover Pylos and the prisoners. The Athenians, however, kept grasping at more, and dismissed envoy after envoy without their having effected anything. Such was the history of the affair of Pylos.
Seventh and Eighth Years of the War—End of Corcyraean Revolution— Peace of Gela—Capture of Nisaea
The same summer, directly after these events, the Athenians made an expedition against the territory of Corinth with eighty ships and two thousand Athenian heavy infantry, and two hundred cavalry on board horse transports, accompanied by the Milesians, Andrians, and Carystians from the allies, under the command of Nicias, son of Niceratus, with two colleagues. Putting out to sea they made land at daybreak between Chersonese and Rheitus, at the beach of the country underneath the Solygian hill, upon which the Dorians in old times established themselves and carried on war against the Aeolian inhabitants of Corinth, and where a village now stands called Solygia. The beach where the fleet came to is about a mile and a half from the village, seven miles from Corinth, and two and a quarter from the Isthmus. The Corinthians had heard from Argos of the coming of the Athenian armament, and had all come up to the Isthmus long before, with the exception of those who lived beyond it, and also of five hundred who were away in garrison in Ambracia and Leucadia; and they were there in full force watching for the Athenians to land. These last, however, gave them the slip by coming in the dark; and being informed by signals of the fact the Corinthians left half their number at Cenchreae, in case the Athenians should go against Crommyon, and marched in all haste to the rescue.
Battus, one of the two generals present at the action, went with a company to defend the village of Solygia, which was unfortified; Lycophron remaining to give battle with the rest. The Corinthians first attacked the right wing of the Athenians, which had just landed in front of Chersonese, and afterwards the rest of the army. The battle was an obstinate one, and fought throughout hand to hand. The right wing of the Athenians and Carystians, who had been placed at the end of the line, received and with some difficulty repulsed the Corinthians, who thereupon retreated to a wall upon the rising ground behind, and throwing down the stones upon them, came on again singing the paean, and being received by the Athenians, were again engaged at close quarters. At this moment a Corinthian company having come to the relief of the left wing, routed and pursued the Athenian right to the sea, whence they were in their turn driven back by the Athenians and Carystians from the ships. Meanwhile the rest of the army on either side fought on tenaciously, especially the right wing of the Corinthians, where Lycophron sustained the attack of the Athenian left, which it was feared might attempt the village of Solygia.
After holding on for a long while without either giving way, the Athenians aided by their horse, of which the enemy had none, at length routed the Corinthians, who retired to the hill and, halting, remained quiet there, without coming down again. It was in this rout of the right wing that they had the most killed, Lycophron their general being among the number. The rest of the army, broken and put to flight in this way without being seriously pursued or hurried, retired to the high ground and there took up its position. The Athenians, finding that the enemy no longer offered to engage them, stripped his dead and took up their own and immediately set up a trophy. Meanwhile, the half of the Corinthians left at Cenchreae to guard against the Athenians sailing on Crommyon, although unable to see the battle for Mount Oneion, found out what was going on by the dust, and hurried up to the rescue; as did also the older Corinthians from the town, upon discovering what had occurred. The Athenians seeing them all coming against them, and thinking that they were reinforcements arriving from the neighbouring Peloponnesians, withdrew in haste to their ships with their spoils and their own dead, except two that they left behind, not being able to find them, and going on board crossed over to the islands opposite, and from thence sent a herald, and took up under truce the bodies which they had left behind. Two hundred and twelve Corinthians fell in the battle, and rather less than fifty Athenians.
Weighing from the islands, the Athenians sailed the same day to Crommyon in the Corinthian territory, about thirteen miles from the city, and coming to anchor laid waste the country, and passed the night there. The next day, after first coasting along to the territory of Epidaurus and making a descent there, they came to Methana between Epidaurus and Troezen, and drew a wall across and fortified the isthmus of the peninsula, and left a post there from which incursions were henceforth made upon the country of Troezen, Haliae, and Epidaurus. After walling off this spot, the fleet sailed off home.
While these events were going on, Eurymedon and Sophocles had put to sea with the Athenian fleet from Pylos on their way to Sicily and, arriving at Corcyra, joined the townsmen in an expedition against the party established on Mount Istone, who had crossed over, as I have mentioned, after the revolution and become masters of the country, to the great hurt of the inhabitants. Their stronghold having been taken by an attack, the garrison took refuge in a body upon some high ground and there capitulated, agreeing to give up their mercenary auxiliaries, lay down their arms, and commit themselves to the discretion of the Athenian people. The generals carried them across under truce to the island of Ptychia, to be kept in custody until they could be sent to Athens, upon the understanding that, if any were caught running away, all would lose the benefit of the treaty. Meanwhile the leaders of the Corcyraean commons, afraid that the Athenians might spare the lives of the prisoners, had recourse to the following stratagem. They gained over some few men on the island by secretly sending friends with instructions to provide them with a boat, and to tell them, as if for their own sakes, that they had best escape as quickly as possible, as the Athenian generals were going to give them up to the Corcyraean people.
These representations succeeding, it was so arranged that the men were caught sailing out in the boat that was provided, and the treaty became void accordingly, and the whole body were given up to the Corcyraeans. For this result the Athenian generals were in a great measure responsible; their evident disinclination to sail for Sicily, and thus to leave to others the honour of conducting the men to Athens, encouraged the intriguers in their design and seemed to affirm the truth of their representations. The prisoners thus handed over were shut up by the Corcyraeans in a large building, and afterwards taken out by twenties and led past two lines of heavy infantry, one on each side, being bound together, and beaten and stabbed by the men in the lines whenever any saw pass a personal enemy; while men carrying whips went by their side and hastened on the road those that walked too slowly.
As many as sixty men were taken out and killed in this way without the knowledge of their friends in the building, who fancied they were merely being moved from one prison to another. At last, however, someone opened their eyes to the truth, upon which they called upon the Athenians to kill them themselves, if such was their pleasure, and refused any longer to go out of the building, and said they would do all they could to prevent any one coming in. The Corcyraeans, not liking themselves to force a passage by the doors, got up on the top of the building, and breaking through the roof, threw down the tiles and let fly arrows at them, from which the prisoners sheltered themselves as well as they could. Most of their number, meanwhile, were engaged in dispatching themselves by thrusting into their throats the arrows shot by the enemy, and hanging themselves with the cords taken from some beds that happened to be there, and with strips made from their clothing; adopting, in short, every possible means of self-destruction, and also falling victims to the missiles of their enemies on the roof. Night came on while these horrors were enacting, and most of it had passed before they were concluded. When it was day the Corcyraeans threw them in layers upon wagons and carried them out of the city. All the women taken in the stronghold were sold as slaves. In this way the Corcyraeans of the mountain were destroyed by the commons; and so after terrible excesses the party strife came to an end, at least as far as the period of this war is concerned, for of one party there was practically nothing left. Meanwhile the Athenians sailed off to Sicily, their primary destination, and carried on the war with their allies there.
At the close of the summer, the Athenians at Naupactus and the Acarnanians made an expedition against Anactorium, the Corinthian town lying at the mouth of the Ambracian Gulf, and took it by treachery; and the Acarnanians themselves, sending settlers from all parts of Acarnania, occupied the place.
Summer was now over. During the winter ensuing, Aristides, son of Archippus, one of the commanders of the Athenian ships sent to collect money from the allies, arrested at Eion, on the Strymon, Artaphernes, a Persian, on his way from the King to Lacedaemon. He was conducted to Athens, where the Athenians got his dispatches translated from the Assyrian character and read them. With numerous references to other subjects, they in substance told the Lacedaemonians that the King did not know what they wanted, as of the many ambassadors they had sent him no two ever told the same story; if however they were prepared to speak plainly they might send him some envoys with this Persian. The Athenians afterwards sent back Artaphernes in a galley to Ephesus, and ambassadors with him, who heard there of the death of King Artaxerxes, son of Xerxes, which took place about that time, and so returned home.
The same winter the Chians pulled down their new wall at the command of the Athenians, who suspected them of meditating an insurrection, after first however obtaining pledges from the Athenians, and security as far as this was possible for their continuing to treat them as before. Thus the winter ended, and with it ended the seventh year of this war of which Thucydides is the historian.
In first days of the next summer there was an eclipse of the sun at the time of new moon, and in the early part of the same month an earthquake. Meanwhile, the Mitylenian and other Lesbian exiles set out, for the most part from the continent, with mercenaries hired in Peloponnese, and others levied on the spot, and took Rhoeteum, but restored it without injury on the receipt of two thousand Phocaean staters. After this they marched against Antandrus and took the town by treachery, their plan being to free Antandrus and the rest of the Actaean towns, formerly owned by Mitylene but now held by the Athenians. Once fortified there, they would have every facility for ship-building from the vicinity of Ida and the consequent abundance of timber, and plenty of other supplies, and might from this base easily ravage Lesbos, which was not far off, and make themselves masters of the Aeolian towns on the continent.
While these were the schemes of the exiles, the Athenians in the same summer made an expedition with sixty ships, two thousand heavy infantry, a few cavalry, and some allied troops from Miletus and other parts, against Cythera, under the command of Nicias, son of Niceratus, Nicostratus, son of Diotrephes, and Autocles, son of Tolmaeus. Cythera is an island lying off Laconia, opposite Malea; the inhabitants are Lacedaemonians of the class of the Perioeci; and an officer called the judge of Cythera went over to the place annually from Sparta. A garrison of heavy infantry was also regularly sent there, and great attention paid to the island, as it was the landing-place for the merchantmen from Egypt and Libya, and at the same time secured Laconia from the attacks of privateers from the sea, at the only point where it is assailable, as the whole coast rises abruptly towards the Sicilian and Cretan seas.
Coming to land here with their armament, the Athenians with ten ships and two thousand Milesian heavy infantry took the town of Scandea, on the sea; and with the rest of their forces landing on the side of the island looking towards Malea, went against the lower town of Cythera, where they found all the inhabitants encamped. A battle ensuing, the Cytherians held their ground for some little while, and then turned and fled into the upper town, where they soon afterwards capitulated to Nicias and his colleagues, agreeing to leave their fate to the decision of the Athenians, their lives only being safe. A correspondence had previously been going on between Nicias and certain of the inhabitants, which caused the surrender to be effected more speedily, and upon terms more advantageous, present and future, for the Cytherians; who would otherwise have been expelled by the Athenians on account of their being Lacedaemonians and their island being so near to Laconia. After the capitulation, the Athenians occupied the town of Scandea near the harbour, and appointing a garrison for Cythera, sailed to Asine, Helus, and most of the places on the sea, and making descents and passing the night on shore at such spots as were convenient, continued ravaging the country for about seven days.