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Attic sailors by the Spartans. Thucydides mentions here, incidentally, that the Athenians maintained a fleet to watch the coasts and protect their merchant ships against the enemy's privateers. The third campaign commenced with the investment of the independent town of Platea, whose inhabitants reminded the Lacedemonians of having aided them against the Medes, but were told that they must either fight against the Athenians or remain neutral. Having replied that to agree to such terms was impossible, the siege began, and the details both of the attack and defence are very fully narrated. When provisions were beginning to run short, half the garrison managed, during a stormy night, to scale the fortifications with which the enemy had surrounded the place, and to make their way to Athens. At the end of two years' further blockade, however, the remainder were compelled to surrender at discretion, and, to gratify the vengeance of the Thebans, were massacred in cold blood, the women being sold as slaves, and the town razed to the ground, and, for a time, blotted out of the national family of Greeks. During the same year the Athenians met with a serious reverse in an expedition against the Chalcidians, but gained two brilliant naval victories in the Corinthian Gulf, to retrieve which the confederate admirals resolved to make a sudden dash on the Piræus; but, whilst they stopped to sack Salamis, the Athenians got tidings of their approach, and made such preparations that the enemy had not the spirit to face them. On the other hand, a diversion by the King of Thrace against Macedonia, in favour of the Athenians, being undertaken too late in the season, could not be supported by their fleet, and accomplished nothing.
The following year another raid was made into Attica, and Mitylene, the capital of Lesbos, renounced her allegiance to Athens, and joined the Spartan confederation. The island was blockaded by an Athenian fleet, whilst the Lacedemonians again invaded their rival's territory, headed by Cleomenes. Mitylene, however, was reduced seven days before the confederate galleys despatched to her assistance arrived there, and a thousand of the leading citizens were carried to Athens to be publicly tried. The
popular vote was that not only they, but all who bore arms in the revolt, should be put to death. At a second debate, however, in which Cleon, a violent demagogue, but a powerful speaker, took part, recommending that an unmistakable example should be made to awe their other dependencies, a milder proposal to punish those who were most guilty was carried by a small majority. But the galley conveying the previous order was on her way, and another had, therefore, to be despatched in all haste to overtake her. The Mitylenean delegates supplied the crew with meal and wine, which they mixed with oil, and ate as they sat at their oars, and, by a great effort, they arrived just as the first decree was about to be executed, so narrowly did the inhabitants escape with their lives.
In the fifth year of the war the Corinthians sent back to their homes two hundred and fifty of the principal inhabitants of Corcyra, whom they had held in captivity since the last revolt there, on condition that they should bring over the islanders from their attachment to Athens. In their endeavours, however, to do so, they provoked a general revolution amongst the democracy, and a succession of desperate fights and struggles ensued between the contending factions. Fleets arrived both from Athens and the Peloponnese to watch the turn of events, and for seven days a reign of terror prevailed, during which the populace murdered all whom they considered aristocrats, denounc ing them as conspirators, and inflicting death in the most horrible ways.
Commenting generally upon States which claimed a common origin being thus torn by faction, Thucydides remarks how men changed at will their ordinary ideas and expressions to suit their actions. Daring became bravery, and hesitation cowardice. The man who urged to cruelty was a trusty citizen, while he who dissuaded from it was suspected. A successful plotter was clever, but a denouncer of plots was cleverer still. The ties of blood were less regarded than those of party, and fidelity rested not on principle, but on companionship in crime, whilst oaths were violated without compunction, or any sense of religious obligation. Thus, he says, every species of baseness obtained through
out Greece, and the general habit was for men to stand on their guard against each other, with a feeling of mutual distrust.
Reverting to Corcyra, some five hundred of the aristocracy fortified themselves for two years on a hill, from whence they commanded the country round, and cut off supplies from the town; but at last their stronghold was stormed by an Athenian force, and they surrendered, to abide the judgment of the people of Athens. The democrats, however, enticed some of them to break their parole, and, falling into the snare, they were given up, to be dealt with by their countrymen, who made them pass, by twenty: at a time, through two rows of soldiers, by whom they were brutally stabbed to death. At length the others refused to come out of the building in which they were confined, whereupon their torturers hurled missiles and arrows at them from the roof, until the majority either strangled them-. selves with strips of their clothing, or thrust the discharged arrows into their throats; and thus was the feud terminated by scarcely a remnant of one of the contending parties surviving. An Athenian fleet looked on while the populace glutted their revenge, and then sailed for Sicily.
During the next two years Demosthenes distinguished himself as a commander, both by land and sea, especially in establishing and defending a fort at Pylos, which was blockaded by a Lacedemonian fleet. The Athenian garrison stood so firm that the enemy, although led by Brassidas, were unable to effect a landing, and were at last themselves surrounded in the adjacent island of Sphakteria. An armistice was granted while they sent ambassadors to Athens to negotiate, but the people, led by Cleon, insisted on terms which the Spartans could not accept, and the blockade was renewed. Cleon now demanded why the men were not taken prisoners at once, adding that, were he in command, he would bring them to Athens within. twenty days, or die in the attempt. His challenge was accepted, and, with the help of Demosthenes, he threw a strong force into the island, overpowered the invaders, and. carried home nearly three hundred captives. This surrender of so many Spartan citizens caused a profound sensation
throughout Greece, Pylòs became a permanent outpost of the Athenians, and the island of Cythera was made a base of operations against the Lacedemonian coasts. Fearing that their Helots, or slaves, would desert to the enemy, the Spartans treacherously induced two thousand who were likely to do so to ask for their freedom, and soon afterwards they all mysteriously disappeared. Again proposals of peace were made, but Athens was anxious to push her good fortune to the uttermost, and thus lost the opportunity of terminating the war to her honour and advantage.
The following year the Thracian allies of the Athenians made overtures to the Lacedemonians, and Brasidas was sent thither with some Helots and volunteers. After some
minor successes, he obtained possession, by treachery, of the important town of Amphipolis, during the absence of Thucydides, who was in command of the neighbourhood, and who, to avoid a public sentence for not having prevented him, voluntarily went into exile for twenty years. He records the fact quite incidentally, and without any excuse for his conduct. He admits, however, that the news of the loss of the city was received at Athens with great dismay, and proceeds to give a full account of another disaster which the Athenians suffered at Delium. Brasidas, mean while, was meditating a campaign from his new headquarters, when an armistice for a year was agreed upon. A permanent peace might have followed had not Cleon and Brasidas been strongly opposed to it, the former because he feared detection in his malpractices, and the latter because he owed all his reputation to war. Cleon, accordingly, started at the head of an imposing force to grapple with Brasidas in Thrace; and, after capturing Torone and another town, took up his quarters at Eion, until reinforce: ments should arrive to enable him to seize Amphipolis. Brasidas, however, made a sudden sally, the Athenians were routed, and Cleon slain. Only seven of the Spartans were wounded, but Brasidas was one of them, and, dying soon after, he was carried back to the city, buried with special honours there, and adopted as its founder. A general treaty of peace between the contending states was now nominally concluded, but never carried into effect;
and it was ultimately superseded by a defensive alliance for fifty years between Athens and Sparta, which, however, lasted less than seven.
Argos now became the leader of the other states of the Peloponnese, and, at the instigation of Alcibiades, a treaty was arranged between her and Athens. Whereupon the Lacedemonians, supported by Corinth and other allies, invaded Argolis and gained a position of great advantage; but so little did the Argive army understand their danger, that when, during an armistice, the Spartan king withdrew his forces, they blamed their generals for allowing the enemy to escape. The truce having been annulled, the Argives, reinforced by an Athenian contingent, marched into Arcadia. The Lacedemonians, mustering all their troops, confronted them at Mantinea, and gained a decisive victory, which Thucydides describes as an eyewitness. A regiment composed of the yonng Argive aristocracy having, however, turned the left wing of the enemy, and thus saved the honour of their city, induced their fellow-citizens to renounce democracy and join their conquerors; but, within a few months, the populace re gained their power, and a fresh alliance was entered into with Athens.
The inhabitants of Melos, an island in the Ægean Sea, who had hitherto maintained their independence as a Dorian colony, were now summoned by the Athenians to make terms with them, and in narrating the conference between the Melian authorities and the envoys from Athens, Thucydides records the arguments in detail, the former being told that the weaker always have to give way to the stronger, that even the gods are addicted to using might against right, and that their reliance on the Lacedemonians helping them from a sense of honour is a proof of their innocence rather than of their common sense. But the colonists were obstinate, and decided on resistance to the Athenian demands, the result being that they eventually surrendered, when all the men were slaughtered in cold blood, and the women and children reduced to slavery.
The Dorian and Ionian colonists in Sicily at first evinced their sympathies with Sparta and Athens respectively, and