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rain which fell that night had retarded their march; for the
river Asopus was so much swelled by it that it was not easily
fordable. It was owing to the march in such a rain and the
difficulty of passing this river, that they came not up till their
men were either slain or made prisoners. When the Thebans
were convinced of that event, they cast their attention towards
the Plataeans who were still without ; for the people of Platrea
were scattered about the adjacent country with their imple-
ments of husbandry, because annoyance in time of peace was
quite unexpected. They were desirous to catch some of these
as exchange for their own people within the city, if any were

About seven English miles.


yet living and prisoners there. On this they were fully bent;
but in the midst of their project the Platseans, who suspected
the probability of some such design, and were anxious for
their people yet without, despatched a herald to the Thebans
representing to them "the injustice of the attempt already
made; since, treaties subsisting, they had endeavoured to sur-
prise the city;" and then warned them "to desist from any vio-
lence to those without. If not, they positively declared they
would put all the prisoners yet alive to the sword; whereas,
in case they retired peaceably out of their territory, they would
deliver them up unhurt." This account the Thebans give, and
say farther it was sworn to. The Platseans disown the prom-
ise of an immediate discharge of the prisoners, which was re-
served for terms to be agreed on in a subsequent treaty, and
flatly deny that they swore. The Thebans however retired out
of their territory, without committing any violence. But the
Platseans, when they had with expedition fetched into the city
all their effects of value that were out in the fields, immedi-
ately put all their prisoners to the sword. The number of
those that were taken was one hundred and eighty. Eury-
machus was amongst them, with whom the traitors had con-
certed the surprise. And this done, they despatched a messen-
ger to Athens : and restored to the Thebans their dead under
truce. And then they regulated the affairs of the city in the
manner most suitable to their present situation.

The news of the surprisal of Plataea had soon reached the
Athenians, who immediately apprehended all the Boeotians
then in Attica, and despatched a herald to Plataea with orders
"to proceed no farther against the Theban prisoners, till they
should send their determination about them;" for they were
not yet informed of their having been actually put to death.
The first messenger had been sent away immediately upon the
irruption of the Thebans the second so soon as they were de-
feated and made prisoners as to what happened afterwards,
they were utterly in the dark. Thus ignorant of what had since
been done, the Athenians despatched away their herald, who
upon his arrival found them all destroyed. Yet after this, the
Athenians marching a body of troops to Platsea, carried thither
all necessary provisions, left a garrison in the place, and


brought away all the hands that would be useless in a siege,
with the women and children.


AFTER this business of Plataea, and so manifest a breach of
peace, the Athenians made all necessary preparations for im-
mediate war. The Lacedaemonians also and their confederates
took the same measures. Nay, both sides were intent on de-
spatching embassies to the king [of Persia] 1 and to several
other Barbarian powers, wherever they had hope of forming
some effectual interest for themselves, and spared no pains to
win those states over to their alliance, which had hitherto been
independent. In the Lacedaemonian league, besides the ships
already furnished out for them in Italy and Sicily, the con-
federates there were ordered to prepare a new quota, propor-
tioned to the abilities of the several states, that the whole num-
ber of their shipping might be mounted to five hundred. They
were farther to get a certain sum of money in readiness ; but
in other respects to remain quiet, and till their preparations
could be completed, never to admit more than one Athenian
vessel at a time within their ports. The Athenians made a
careful survey of the strength of their own alliance, and sent
pressing embassies to the places round about Peloponnesus, to
Corcyra, to Cephallene, to the Acarnanians, and to Zacynthus ;
plainly seeing, that if these were in their interest, they might
securely attack Peloponnesus on all sides. The minds of both
parties were not a little elated, but were eager after and big
with war. For it is natural to man in the commencement of
every important enterprise, to be more than usually alert. The
young men, who were at this time numerous in Peloponnesus,
numerous also at Athens, were for want of experience quite
fond of the rupture. And all the rest of Greece stood atten-
tively at gaze on this contention between the two principal
states. Many oracles were tossed about, the soothsayers sung
abundance of predictions, amongst those who were upon the
point to break, and even in the cities that were yet neutral.
Nay, Delos had been lately shook with an earthquake, which it

1 Artaxerxes Longimanus.


had never been before in the memory of the Greeks. It was said,
and indeed believed, that this was a prognostic of something
extraordinary to happen : and all other accidents of an uncom-
mon nature whatever were sure to be wrested to the same

The generality of Greece was indeed at this time much
the best affected to the Lacedaemonians, who gave out the spe-
cious pretence, that "they were going to recover the liberty of
Greece." Every one made it both his private passion and his
public care, to give them all possible succour both in word and
act ; and every one thought that the, business certainly flagged
in those places where he himself was not present in in-
vigorate proceedings. So general an invasion was there at this
time formed against the Athenians, when some were passion-
ately desirous to throw off their yoke, and others apprehensive
of falling under their subjection. With such preparations and
such dispositions did they they run into the war. * * *

The Lacedaemonians, immediately after the attempt on
Plataea, sent circular orders to the states both within and with-
out Peloponnesus, to draw their quotas of aid together, and
get every thing in readiness for a foreign expedition, as intend-
ing to invade Attica. When all was ready, they assembled on
the day appointed, with two-thirds of the force of every state,
at the Isthmus. When the whole army was thus 1 drawn to-
gether, Archidamus king of the Lacedaemonians, who com-
manded in the expedition, convened the commanders from all
the auxiliary states, with all those that were in authority, and
most fitting to be present, and addressed them as follows :

"Peloponnesians and allies, many are the expeditions in
which our fathers have been engaged both within and without
Peloponnesus. Even some of us, who are more advanced in
years, are by no means unexperienced in the business of war.
Yet, never before did we take the field with a force so great as
the present. But, numerous and formidable in arms as we may
now appear, we are however marching against a most powerful
state. Thus it is incumbent upon us to show ourselves not

1 Plutarch informs us that the number amounted to sixty thousand


inferior in valour to our fathers, nor to sink below the expecta-
tions of the world. The eyes of all Greece are fixed attentively
on our motions. Their good will to us, their hatred of the
Athenians, make them wish for our success in all our undertak-
ings. It is therefore our business, without placing too great
confidence in superior numbers, or trusting to the presumption
that our enemies dare not come out and fight us for no rea-
sons like these, to relax our discipline, or break the regularity
of our march but, the commander of every confederate body
and every private soldier ought to keep within himself the con-
stant expectation of being engaged in action. Uncertain are
the turns of war ; great events start up from a small beginning,
and assaults are given from indignation. Nay, frequently an
inferior number engaging with caution hath proved too hard
for a more numerous body, whom contempt of their enemy ex-
poseth to attacks for which they are not prepared. Upon hos-
tile ground, it is always the duty of soldiers to be resolutely
bold, and to keep ready for action with proper circumspection.
Thus will they be always ready to attack with spirit, and be
most firmly secured against a surprise.

"We are not marching against a people who are unable to
defend themselves, but excellently well qualified for it in every
respect ; so that we may certainly depend upon their advancing
against us to give us battle; nor yet perhaps in motion, so
long as no enemy appears ; but most assuredly so when once
they see us in their territory, wasting and destroying their sub-
stance. All men must kindle into wrath, when uncommon in-
juries are unexpectedly done them, when manifest outrage
glares before them. Reflection then may indeed have lost its
power, but resentment most strongly impels them to resistance.
Something like this may more reasonably be looked for from
Athenians than from other people. They esteem themselves
worthy to command others, and their spirit is more turned to
make them to suffer depredations. Against so formidable a
people are we now to march ; and by the event, whatever it be,
shall we acquire the greatest glory or disgrace, for our ances-
tors and ourselves. Let it therefore be the business of every
man to follow his commander, observant in every point of dis-
cipline and the rules of war, and obeying with expedition the


orders you receive. The finest spectacle and the strongest de-
fence is the uniform observation of discipline by a numerous
army." * * *

Whilst the Peloponnesians were yet assembling at the Isth-
mus, or yet on the march, before they had entered Attica, Peri-
cles the son of Xantippus, who with nine others had been ap-
pointed to command the Athenian forces, when he saw an
irruption from the Peloponnesians unavoidable, had conceived
a suspicion that Archidamus, whom the hospitable intercourse
had made his friend, from a principle of good-nature willing
to oblige him, would leave his lands untouched, or, might be
ordered to do so by the policy of the Lacedaemonians, as they
had already demanded an excommunication on his account ; by
which means he must certainly incur the pubic jealousy. He
declared therefore to the Athenians, in a general assembly of
the people that "though Archidamus was his friend, he should
not be so to the prejudice of the state ; and that if the enemy
spared his lands and houses in the general ravage, he made a
free donation of them to the public ; so that for any accident
of that nature he ought not to fall under their censure." He
then exhorted all who were present, as he had done before "to
prepare vigorously for war, and to withdraw all their effects
from out of the country, by no means to march out against
the enemy, but keep within the walls and mind the defence of
the city ; to fit out their navy, in which their strength princi-
pally consisted, and keep a tight rein over all their dependents.
By the large tributes levied upon these, he said, their power was
chiefly to be supported, since success in war was a constant
result from prudent measures and plentiful supplies. * * *

The Athenians heard him with attention, and followed his
advice. They withdrew from the country their children, their
wives, all the furniture of their houses there, pulling down
with their own hands the timber of which they were built.
Their flocks and their labouring-cattle they sent over into
Eubcea and the adjacent islands. But this removal was a very
grievous business to them, since it had been the ancient custom
of many of the Athenians to reside at large in the country. * * *

When they were come into the city, some few had houses
ready for their reception, or sheltered themselves with their


friends and relations. The greater part were forced to settle
in the less frequented quarters of the city, in all the buildings
sacred to the gods and heroes, except those in the citadel, the
Eleusinian, and any other from whence they were excluded by
religious awe. There was indeed a spot of ground below the
citadel, called the Pelasgic, which to turn into a dwelling-place
had not only been thought profaneness, but was expressly for-
bid by the close of a line in a Pythian oracle, which said,

Best is Pelasgic empty.

Yet this sudden urgent necessity constrained them to convert
it to such a use. To me, I own, that oracle seems to have car-
ried a different meaning from what they gave it. For the calami-
ties of Athens did not flow from the profane habitation of this
place, but from the war which laid them under the necessity
of employing it in such a manner. The oracle makes no men-
tion of the war, but only hints that its being some time inhabit-
ed would be attended with public misfortune. Many of them,
further, were forced to lodge themselves within the turrets of
the walls, or wherever they could find a vacant corner. The
city was not able to receive so large a conflux of people. But
afterwards, the long walls, and a great part of the Piraeus,
were portioned out to them for little dwellings. At the same
time they were busied in the military preparations, gathering
together the confederate forces, and fitting out a fleet of one
hundred ships to infest Peloponnesus. In affairs of such great
importance were the Athenians engaged.


THE Peloponnesian army, advancing forwards, came up
first to Oenoe, through which they designed to break into At-
tica. Encamping before it, they made ready their engines, and
all other necessaries for battering the walls. For Oenoe, being
a frontier-town between Attica and Boeotia, was walled about,
since the Athenians were used, upon the breaking out of war,
to throw a garrison into it. * * *

But after this assault on Oenoe, and the successive miscar-
riage of all the methods employed to take it, the Athenians still


resolutely refraining from the least show of submission, they
broke up the siege and marched into Attica, in the height of
summer, when the harvest was ripe, about eighty days after
the Thebans had miscarried in the surprise of Platsea.

* * * *

The Athenians, so long as the enemy remained about Eleu-
sis and the plain of Thriasia, conceived some hopes that they
would advance no farther. * * * But when they saw the
enemy advanced to Acharnse, which was distant but sixty 1 sta-
dia from Athens, they thought their incursions were no longer
to be endured. It appeared, as it reasonably might, a heavy
grievance, to have all their lands thus ravaged within their
sight ; a scene like this the younger sort never had beheld,
nor the elder but once in the Persian war. The bulk of the
people, but especially the younger part, were for sallying out
and fighting, and not to stand tamely looking upon the insult.
Numbers of them assembled together in a tumultuous man-
ner, which was the rise of great confusion, some loudly de-
manding to march out against the enemy, and others restrain-
ing them from it. The soothsayers gave out all manner of
predictions, which every hearer interpreted by the key of his
own passions. The Acharnians, regarding themselves as no
contemptible part of the Athenian body, because their lands
had been wasted, in a most earnest manner insisted upon a
sally. The whole city was in a ferment, and all their resent-
ments centred on Pericles. They quite forgot the prudent con-
duct he had formerly planned out for them. They reproached
him as a general that durst not head them against their ene-
mies, and regarded him as author of all the miseries which
their city endured.

Pericles seeing their minds thus chagrined by the present state
of their affairs, and in consequence of this, intent upon unacl-
visable measures, but assured within himself of the prudence
of his own conduct in thus restraining them from action,
called no general assembly of the people, nor held any public
consultation, lest passion which was more alive than judg-
ment, should throw them into indiscretions. He kept strict

1 About six English miles.


guard in the city, and endeavoured as much as possible to pre-
serve the public quiet. Yet he was always sending out small
parties of horse, to prevent any damage that might be done
near the city, by adventurous stragglers from the army. * * *

The Peloponnesians, when the Athenians made no show
of coming out against them, broke up from Acharnae, and
laid waste some other of the Athenian boroughs, which lay
between the mountains Parnethus and Brilissus.

During the time of these incursions, the Athenians sent
out the hundred ships they had already equipped, and which
had on board a thousand heavy-armed soldiers and four hun-
dred archers, to infest the coast of Peloponnesus. The com-
manders in the expedition were Carcinus son of Xenotimus,
Proteas son of Epicles, and Socrates son of Antigenes. Un-
der their orders, the fleet so furnished out, weighed anchor
and sailed away.

The Peloponnesians, continuing in Attica till provisions
began to fail them, retired not by the same route they came in,
but marched away through Boeotia. And passing by Oropus
they wasted the tract of ground called Piraice, which was
occupied by the Oropians, who were subject to Athens. On
their return into Peloponnesus, the army was dispersed into
their several cities.


AFTER their departure, the Athenians settled the proper sta-
tions for their guards both by land and sea, in the same dis-
position as they were to continue to the end of the war. They
also made a decree, that "a thousand talents should be taken
from the fund of the treasure in the citadel, and laid up by
itself; that this sum should not be touched, but the expense
of the war be defrayed from the remainder and, that if any
one moved or voted for converting this money to any other
use than the necessary defence of the city, in case the enemy
attacked it by sea, he should suffer the penalty of death."
Besides this, they selected constantly every year an hundred
of their best triremes, with the due number of able command-
ers. These also they made it capital to use upon any other


occasion, than that extremity for which the reserve of money
was destined.

The Athenians on board the fleet of one hundred sail on
the coasts of Peloponnesus, being joined by the Corcyreans in
fifty ships and by some other of their confederates in those
parts, hovered for a time and infested the coast, and at length
made a descent and assaulted Methone, a town of Laconia,
whose walls were but weak and poorly manned. It happened
that Brasidas-the son of Tellis a Spartan had then the com-
mand of a garrison somewhere near Methone. He was sensi-
ble of the danger he was in, and set forwards with one hun-
dred heavy-armed to its relief. The Athenian army was then
scattered about the country, and their attention directed only
to the walls ; by which means, making a quick march through
the midst of their quarters, he threw himself into Methone,
and, with the loss of but a few who were intercepted in the
passage, effectually secured the town. For this bold exploit,
he was the first man of all who signalized themselves in this war,
that received the public commendation at Sparta. Upon this
the Athenians re-embarked and sailed away, and coming up
to Pheia, a town of Elis, they ravaged the country for two
days together. A body of picked men of the lower Elis, with
some other Eleans, that were got together from the adjacent
country, endeavoured to stop their devastations, but coming to
a skirmish, were defeated by them. But a storm arising, and
their ships being exposed to danger on the open coast, they
went immediately on board, and sailed round the cape of
Icthys, got into the harbour of Pheia. The Messenians in the
meantime, and some others who. had not been able to gain
their ships, had marched over-land and got possession of the
place. Soon after the ships, being now come about, stood into
the harbour, took them on board, and quitting the place put out
again to sea. By this time a great army of Eleans was drawn
together to succour it, but the Athenians were sailed away to
other parts of the coast, where they carried on their


* * * *

In the autumn of this summer, the Athenians, with all
their forces, citizens and sojourners, made an incursion into


the territories of Megara, under the command of Pericles the
son of Xantippus. Those also who had been cruizing about
Peloponnesus in the fleet of one hundred sail (for they were
now at ygina,) finding upon their return that all their fellow
citizens were marched in the general expedition against Me-
gara, followed them with the fleet and came up to them. By
this means, the army of the Athenians became the largest they
had ever at any time got together, the city being now in its
most flourishing state, and as yet uninfected with the plague :
for there were of Athenian citizens only no less than ten
thousand heavy-armed, exclusive of the three thousand who
were now at Potidaea : the sojourners of Athens who marched
out along with them, were not fewer than three thousand
heavy-armed: they had besides a very large number of light-
armed soldiers. They laid waste the greatest part of the
country, and then returned to Athens. Every succeeding year
of the war the Athenians constantly repeated these incursions
into the territory of Megara, sometimes with their cavalry,
and sometimes with all their united force, till at last they
made themselves masters of Nissea.

In the close also of the summer, Atalante, an island lying
near the Locrians of Opus, till now uninhabited, was fortified
and garrisoned by the Athenians, to prevent the pirates of
Opus, and other parts of Locris, from annoying Euboea.
These were the transactions of the summer, after the depart-
ure of the Peloponnesians out of Attica.


THE winter following, * * * the Athenians in con-
formity to the established custom of their country, solemnized
a public funeral for those who had been first killed in this war,
in the manner as follows :

The bones of the slain are brought to a tabernacle erected
for the purpose three days before, and all are at liberty to
deck out the remains of their friends at their own discretion.
But when the grand procession is made, the cypress coffins are
drawn on carriages, one for every tribe, in each of which are
separately contained the bones of all who belonged to that


tribe. One sumptuous bier is carried along empty for those
that are lost, whose bodies could not be found among the slain.
All who are willing, both citizens and strangers, attend the
solemnity; and the women who were related to the deceased,
stand near the sepulchre groaning and lamenting. They de-
posit the remains in the public sepulchre, which stands in the
finest suburb of the city; for it hath been the constant cus-
tom here to bury all who fell in war, except those at Marathon,
whose extraordinary valour they judged proper to honour with
a sepulchre on the field of battle. As soon as they are in-
terred, some one selected for the office by the public voice, and
ever a person in great esteem for his understanding, and of
high dignity amongst them, pronounces over them the decent
panegyric and this done, they depart. Through all the war,
as the occasions recurred, this method was constantly observed.
But over these, the first victims of it, Pericles the son of
Xantippus was appointed to speak. So, when the proper time
was come, walking from the sepulchre, and mounting a lofty
pulpit erected for the purpose, from whence he might be heard
more distinctly by the company, he thus began :

" Many of those who have spoken before me on these oc-
casions, have commended the author of that law which we are
now obeying, for having instituted an oration to the honour
of those who sacrifice their lives in fighting for their country.
For my part, I think it sufficient, for men who have approved

Online LibraryMarion Mills MillerThe classics, Greek & Latin; the most celebrated works of Hellenic and Roman literatvre, embracing poetry, romance, history, oratory, science, and philosophy (Volume 5) → online text (page 22 of 40)