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The History of the Peloponnesian War

Page: 92

When the Athenians sailed in not long after and saw how things stood, the generals delivered their orders, and upon the Mitylenians refusing to obey, commenced hostilities. The Mitylenians, thus compelled to go to war without notice and unprepared, at first sailed out with their fleet and made some show of fighting, a little in front of the harbour; but being driven back by the Athenian ships, immediately offered to treat with the commanders, wishing, if possible, to get the ships away for the present upon any tolerable terms. The Athenian commanders accepted their offers, being themselves fearful that they might not be able to cope with the whole of Lesbos; and an armistice having been concluded, the Mitylenians sent to Athens one of the informers, already repentant of his conduct, and others with him, to try to persuade the Athenians of the innocence of their intentions and to get the fleet recalled. In the meantime, having no great hope of a favourable answer from Athens, they also sent off a galley with envoys to Lacedaemon, unobserved by the Athenian fleet which was anchored at Malea to the north of the town.

While these envoys, reaching Lacedaemon after a difficult journey across the open sea, were negotiating for succours being sent them, the ambassadors from Athens returned without having effected anything; and hostilities were at once begun by the Mitylenians and the rest of Lesbos, with the exception of the Methymnians, who came to the aid of the Athenians with the Imbrians and Lemnians and some few of the other allies. The Mitylenians made a sortie with all their forces against the Athenian camp; and a battle ensued, in which they gained some slight advantage, but retired notwithstanding, not feeling sufficient confidence in themselves to spend the night upon the field. After this they kept quiet, wishing to wait for the chance of reinforcements arriving from Peloponnese before making a second venture, being encouraged by the arrival of Meleas, a Laconian, and Hermaeondas, a Theban, who had been sent off before the insurrection but had been unable to reach Lesbos before the Athenian expedition, and who now stole in in a galley after the battle, and advised them to send another galley and envoys back with them, which the Mitylenians accordingly did.


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