The History of the Peloponnesian War
Page: 121During the same summer different operations were carried on by the different belligerents in Sicily; by the Siceliots themselves against each other, and by the Athenians and their allies: I shall however confine myself to the actions in which the Athenians took part, choosing the most important. The death of the Athenian general Charoeades, killed by the Syracusans in battle, left Laches in the sole command of the fleet, which he now directed in concert with the allies against Mylae, a place belonging to the Messinese. Two Messinese battalions in garrison at Mylae laid an ambush for the party landing from the ships, but were routed with great slaughter by the Athenians and their allies, who thereupon assaulted the fortification and compelled them to surrender the Acropolis and to march with them upon Messina. This town afterwards also submitted upon the approach of the Athenians and their allies, and gave hostages and all other securities required.
The same summer the Athenians sent thirty ships round Peloponnese under Demosthenes, son of Alcisthenes, and Procles, son of Theodorus, and sixty others, with two thousand heavy infantry, against Melos, under Nicias, son of Niceratus; wishing to reduce the Melians, who, although islanders, refused to be subjects of Athens or even to join her confederacy. The devastation of their land not procuring their submission, the fleet, weighing from Melos, sailed to Oropus in the territory of Graea, and landing at nightfall, the heavy infantry started at once from the ships by land for Tanagra in Boeotia, where they were met by the whole levy from Athens, agreeably to a concerted signal, under the command of Hipponicus, son of Callias, and Eurymedon, son of Thucles. They encamped, and passing that day in ravaging the Tanagraean territory, remained there for the night; and next day, after defeating those of the Tanagraeans who sailed out against them and some Thebans who had come up to help the Tanagraeans, took some arms, set up a trophy, and retired, the troops to the city and the others to the ships. Nicias with his sixty ships coasted alongshore and ravaged the Locrian seaboard, and so returned home.
About this time the Lacedaemonians founded their colony of Heraclea in Trachis, their object being the following: the Malians form in all three tribes, the Paralians, the Hiereans, and the Trachinians. The last of these having suffered severely in a war with their neighbours the Oetaeans, at first intended to give themselves up to Athens; but afterwards fearing not to find in her the security that they sought, sent to Lacedaemon, having chosen Tisamenus for their ambassador. In this embassy joined also the Dorians from the mother country of the Lacedaemonians, with the same request, as they themselves also suffered from the same enemy. After hearing them, the Lacedaemonians determined to send out the colony, wishing to assist the Trachinians and Dorians, and also because they thought that the proposed town would lie conveniently for the purposes of the war against the Athenians. A fleet might be got ready there against Euboea, with the advantage of a short passage to the island; and the town would also be useful as a station on the road to Thrace. In short, everything made the Lacedaemonians eager to found the place. After first consulting the god at Delphi and receiving a favourable answer, they sent off the colonists, Spartans, and Perioeci, inviting also any of the rest of the Hellenes who might wish to accompany them, except Ionians, Achaeans, and certain other nationalities; three Lacedaemonians leading as founders of the colony, Leon, Alcidas, and Damagon. The settlement effected, they fortified anew the city, now called Heraclea, distant about four miles and a half from Thermopylae and two miles and a quarter from the sea, and commenced building docks, closing the side towards Thermopylae just by the pass itself, in order that they might be easily defended.