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The History of the Peloponnesian War

Page: 155

After this Brasidas and the army came nearer to the sea and to Megara, and taking up a convenient position, remained quiet in order of battle, expecting to be attacked by the Athenians and knowing that the Megarians were waiting to see which would be the victor. This attitude seemed to present two advantages. Without taking the offensive or willingly provoking the hazards of a battle, they openly showed their readiness to fight, and thus without bearing the burden of the day would fairly reap its honours; while at the same time they effectually served their interests at Megara. For if they had failed to show themselves they would not have had a chance, but would have certainly been considered vanquished, and have lost the town. As it was, the Athenians might possibly not be inclined to accept their challenge, and their object would be attained without fighting. And so it turned out. The Athenians formed outside the long walls and, the enemy not attacking, there remained motionless; their generals having decided that the risk was too unequal. In fact most of their objects had been already attained; and they would have to begin a battle against superior numbers, and if victorious could only gain Megara, while a defeat would destroy the flower of their heavy soldiery. For the enemy it was different; as even the states actually represented in his army risked each only a part of its entire force, he might well be more audacious. Accordingly, after waiting for some time without either side attacking, the Athenians withdrew to Nisaea, and the Peloponnesians after them to the point from which they had set out. The friends of the Megarian exiles now threw aside their hesitation, and opened the gates to Brasidas and the commanders from the different states—looking upon him as the victor and upon the Athenians as having declined the battle—and receiving them into the town proceeded to discuss matters with them; the party in correspondence with the Athenians being paralysed by the turn things had taken.

Afterwards Brasidas let the allies go home, and himself went back to Corinth, to prepare for his expedition to Thrace, his original destination. The Athenians also returning home, the Megarians in the city most implicated in the Athenian negotiation, knowing that they had been detected, presently disappeared; while the rest conferred with the friends of the exiles, and restored the party at Pegae, after binding them under solemn oaths to take no vengeance for the past, and only to consult the real interests of the town. However, as soon as they were in office, they held a review of the heavy infantry, and separating the battalions, picked out about a hundred of their enemies, and of those who were thought to be most involved in the correspondence with the Athenians, brought them before the people, and compelling the vote to be given openly, had them condemned and executed, and established a close oligarchy in the town—a revolution which lasted a very long while, although effected by a very few partisans.


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