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The History of the Peloponnesian War

Page: 134

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.


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