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The History of the Peloponnesian War

Page: 122

The foundation of this town, evidently meant to annoy Euboea (the passage across to Cenaeum in that island being a short one), at first caused some alarm at Athens, which the event however did nothing to justify, the town never giving them any trouble. The reason of this was as follows. The Thessalians, who were sovereign in those parts, and whose territory was menaced by its foundation, were afraid that it might prove a very powerful neighbour, and accordingly continually harassed and made war upon the new settlers, until they at last wore them out in spite of their originally considerable numbers, people flocking from all quarters to a place founded by the Lacedaemonians, and thus thought secure of prosperity. On the other hand the Lacedaemonians themselves, in the persons of their governors, did their full share towards ruining its prosperity and reducing its population, as they frightened away the greater part of the inhabitants by governing harshly and in some cases not fairly, and thus made it easier for their neighbours to prevail against them.

The same summer, about the same time that the Athenians were detained at Melos, their fellow citizens in the thirty ships cruising round Peloponnese, after cutting off some guards in an ambush at Ellomenus in Leucadia, subsequently went against Leucas itself with a large armament, having been reinforced by the whole levy of the Acarnanians except Oeniadae, and by the Zacynthians and Cephallenians and fifteen ships from Corcyra. While the Leucadians witnessed the devastation of their land, without and within the isthmus upon which the town of Leucas and the temple of Apollo stand, without making any movement on account of the overwhelming numbers of the enemy, the Acarnanians urged Demosthenes, the Athenian general, to build a wall so as to cut off the town from the continent, a measure which they were convinced would secure its capture and rid them once and for all of a most troublesome enemy.

Demosthenes however had in the meanwhile been persuaded by the Messenians that it was a fine opportunity for him, having so large an army assembled, to attack the Aetolians, who were not only the enemies of Naupactus, but whose reduction would further make it easy to gain the rest of that part of the continent for the Athenians. The Aetolian nation, although numerous and warlike, yet dwelt in unwalled villages scattered far apart, and had nothing but light armour, and might, according to the Messenians, be subdued without much difficulty before succours could arrive. The plan which they recommended was to attack first the Apodotians, next the Ophionians, and after these the Eurytanians, who are the largest tribe in Aetolia, and speak, as is said, a language exceedingly difficult to understand, and eat their flesh raw. These once subdued, the rest would easily come in.

To this plan Demosthenes consented, not only to please the Messenians, but also in the belief that by adding the Aetolians to his other continental allies he would be able, without aid from home, to march against the Boeotians by way of Ozolian Locris to Kytinium in Doris, keeping Parnassus on his right until he descended to the Phocians, whom he could force to join him if their ancient friendship for Athens did not, as he anticipated, at once decide them to do so. Arrived in Phocis he was already upon the frontier of Boeotia. He accordingly weighed from Leucas, against the wish of the Acarnanians, and with his whole armament sailed along the coast to Sollium, where he communicated to them his intention; and upon their refusing to agree to it on account of the non-investment of Leucas, himself with the rest of the forces, the Cephallenians, the Messenians, and Zacynthians, and three hundred Athenian marines from his own ships (the fifteen Corcyraean vessels having departed), started on his expedition against the Aetolians. His base he established at Oeneon in Locris, as the Ozolian Locrians were allies of Athens and were to meet him with all their forces in the interior. Being neighbours of the Aetolians and armed in the same way, it was thought that they would be of great service upon the expedition, from their acquaintance with the localities and the warfare of the inhabitants.


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