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The History of the Peloponnesian War

Page: 86

Elated at this incident, the Athenians at one word gave a cheer, and dashed at the enemy, who, embarrassed by his mistakes and the disorder in which he found himself, only stood for an instant, and then fled for Panormus, whence he had put out. The Athenians following on his heels took the six vessels nearest them, and recovered those of their own which had been disabled close inshore and taken in tow at the beginning of the action; they killed some of the crews and took some prisoners. On board the Leucadian which went down off the merchantman, was the Lacedaemonian Timocrates, who killed himself when the ship was sunk, and was cast up in the harbour of Naupactus. The Athenians on their return set up a trophy on the spot from which they had put out and turned the day, and picking up the wrecks and dead that were on their shore, gave back to the enemy their dead under truce. The Peloponnesians also set up a trophy as victors for the defeat inflicted upon the ships they had disabled in shore, and dedicated the vessel which they had taken at Achaean Rhium, side by side with the trophy. After this, apprehensive of the reinforcement expected from Athens, all except the Leucadians sailed into the Crissaean Gulf for Corinth. Not long after their retreat, the twenty Athenian ships, which were to have joined Phormio before the battle, arrived at Naupactus.

Thus the summer ended. Winter was now at hand; but dispersing the fleet, which had retired to Corinth and the Crissaean Gulf, Cnemus, Brasidas, and the other Peloponnesian captains allowed themselves to be persuaded by the Megarians to make an attempt upon Piraeus, the port of Athens, which from her decided superiority at sea had been naturally left unguarded and open. Their plan was as follows: The men were each to take their oar, cushion, and rowlock thong, and, going overland from Corinth to the sea on the Athenian side, to get to Megara as quickly as they could, and launching forty vessels, which happened to be in the docks at Nisaea, to sail at once to Piraeus. There was no fleet on the look-out in the harbour, and no one had the least idea of the enemy attempting a surprise; while an open attack would, it was thought, never be deliberately ventured on, or, if in contemplation, would be speedily known at Athens. Their plan formed, the next step was to put it in execution. Arriving by night and launching the vessels from Nisaea, they sailed, not to Piraeus as they had originally intended, being afraid of the risk, besides which there was some talk of a wind having stopped them, but to the point of Salamis that looks towards Megara; where there was a fort and a squadron of three ships to prevent anything sailing in or out of Megara. This fort they assaulted, and towed off the galleys empty, and surprising the inhabitants began to lay waste the rest of the island.


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