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The History of the Peloponnesian War

Page: 98

Starting from the ditch, the Plataeans went all together along the road leading to Thebes, keeping the chapel of the hero Androcrates upon their right; considering that the last road which the Peloponnesians would suspect them of having taken would be that towards their enemies' country. Indeed they could see them pursuing with torches upon the Athens road towards Cithaeron and Druoskephalai or Oakheads. After going for rather more than half a mile upon the road to Thebes, the Plataeans turned off and took that leading to the mountain, to Erythrae and Hysiae, and reaching the hills, made good their escape to Athens, two hundred and twelve men in all; some of their number having turned back into the town before getting over the wall, and one archer having been taken prisoner at the outer ditch. Meanwhile the Peloponnesians gave up the pursuit and returned to their posts; and the Plataeans in the town, knowing nothing of what had passed, and informed by those who had turned back that not a man had escaped, sent out a herald as soon as it was day to make a truce for the recovery of the dead bodies, and then, learning the truth, desisted. In this way the Plataean party got over and were saved.

Towards the close of the same winter, Salaethus, a Lacedaemonian, was sent out in a galley from Lacedaemon to Mitylene. Going by sea to Pyrrha, and from thence overland, he passed along the bed of a torrent, where the line of circumvallation was passable, and thus entering unperceived into Mitylene told the magistrates that Attica would certainly be invaded, and the forty ships destined to relieve them arrive, and that he had been sent on to announce this and to superintend matters generally. The Mitylenians upon this took courage, and laid aside the idea of treating with the Athenians; and now this winter ended, and with it ended the fourth year of the war of which Thucydides was the historian.

The next summer the Peloponnesians sent off the forty-two ships for Mitylene, under Alcidas, their high admiral, and themselves and their allies invaded Attica, their object being to distract the Athenians by a double movement, and thus to make it less easy for them to act against the fleet sailing to Mitylene. The commander in this invasion was Cleomenes, in the place of King Pausanias, son of Pleistoanax, his nephew, who was still a minor. Not content with laying waste whatever had shot up in the parts which they had before devastated, the invaders now extended their ravages to lands passed over in their previous incursions; so that this invasion was more severely felt by the Athenians than any except the second; the enemy staying on and on until they had overrun most of the country, in the expectation of hearing from Lesbos of something having been achieved by their fleet, which they thought must now have got over. However, as they did not obtain any of the results expected, and their provisions began to run short, they retreated and dispersed to their different cities.


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