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The History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides is a historical account of the Peloponnesian War (431–404 BC), which was fought between the Spartan-led Peloponnesian League and the Athenian-led Delian League. Thucydides was an Athenian historian who also happened to serve as an Athenian general during the war. His account of the conflict is widely considered to be a classic and regarded as one of the earliest scholarly works of history. The History is divided into eight books. Considered by many to be the first 'true' historian, or the originator of the scientific study of international relations, Thucydides--according to distinguished historian JB Bury--was "severe in [his] detachment [and wrote] from a purely intellectual point of view, unencumbered with platitudes and moral judgments, cold and critical." Nonetheless, the work is as entertaining as it is instructive: along with philosophic platitudes and political analysis comes a stirring narrative of the heroic deeds of some of history's famous men: the daring Spartan Brasidas, the dashing Athenian Alcibiades; the work is full of memorable characters. Recommended for all libraries.
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First digital edition 2017 by Anna Ruggieri
The State of Greece from the earliest Times to theCommencementof the Peloponnesian War
Thucydides, an Athenian, wrote the history of the war betweenthe Peloponnesians and the Athenians, beginning at the moment thatit broke out, and believing that it would be a great war and moreworthy of relation than any that had preceded it. This belief wasnot without its grounds. The preparations of both the combatantswere in every department in the last state of perfection; and hecould see the rest of the Hellenic race taking sides in thequarrel; those who delayed doing so at once having it incontemplation. Indeed this was the greatest movement yet known inhistory, not only of the Hellenes, but of a large part of thebarbarian world—I had almost said of mankind. For though theevents of remote antiquity, andeven those that more immediatelypreceded the war, could not from lapse of time be clearlyascertained, yet the evidences which an inquiry carried as far backas was practicable leads me to trust, all point to the conclusionthat there was nothing on a great scale, either in war or in othermatters.
For instance, it is evident that the country now called Hellashad in ancient times no settled population; on the contrary,migrations were of frequent occurrence, the several tribes readilyabandoning their homes under the pressure of superior numbers.Without commerce, without freedom of communication either by landor sea, cultivating no more of their territory than the exigenciesof life required, destitute of capital, never planting their land(for they could not tell when an invader might not come and take itall away, and when he did come they had no walls to stop him),thinking that the necessities of daily sustenance could be suppliedat one place as well as another, they cared little for shiftingtheir habitation, and consequently neither built large cities norattained to any other form of greatness. The richest soils werealways most subject to this change of masters; such as the districtnow called Thessaly, Boeotia, most of the Peloponnese, Arcadiaexcepted, and the most fertile parts of the rest of Hellas. Thegoodness of the land favoured the aggrandizement of particularindividuals, and thus created faction which proved a fertile sourceof ruin. It also invited invasion. Accordingly Attica, fromthepoverty of its soil enjoying from a very remote period freedomfrom faction, never changed its inhabitants. And here is noinconsiderable exemplification of my assertion that the migrationswere the cause of there being no correspondent growth in otherparts. The most powerful victims of war or faction from the rest ofHellas took refuge with the Athenians as a safe retreat; and at anearly period, becoming naturalized, swelled the already largepopulation of the city to such a height that Attica became atlasttoo small to hold them, and they had to send out colonies toIonia.
There is also another circumstance that contributes not a littleto my conviction of the weakness of ancient times. Before theTrojan war there is no indication of any common actionin Hellas,nor indeed of the universal prevalence of the name; on thecontrary, before the time of Hellen, son of Deucalion, no suchappellation existed, but the country went by the names of thedifferent tribes, in particular of the Pelasgian. It was nottillHellen and hissons grew strong in Phthiotis, and were invited asallies into the other cities, that one by one they graduallyacquired from the connection the name of Hellenes; though a longtime elapsed before that name could fasten itself upon all.The bestproof of this is furnished by Homer. Born long after the TrojanWar, he nowhere calls all of them by that name, nor indeed any ofthem except the followers of Achilles from Phthiotis, who were theoriginal Hellenes: in his poems they are called Danaans, Argives,and Achaeans. He does not even use the term barbarian, probablybecause the Hellenes had not yet been marked off from the rest ofthe world by one distinctive appellation. It appears therefore thatthe several Hellenic communities, comprising not only those whofirst acquired the name, city by city, as they came to understandeach other, but also those who assumed it afterwards as the name ofthe whole people, were before the Trojan war prevented by theirwant of strength and the absence ofmutual intercourse fromdisplaying any collective action.
Indeed, they could not unite for this expedition till they hadgained increased familiarity with the sea. And the first personknown to us by tradition as having established a navy is Minos.Hemade himself master of what is now called the Hellenic sea, andruled over the Cyclades, into most of which he sent the firstcolonies, expelling the Carians and appointing his own sonsgovernors; and thus did his best to put down piracy in thosewaters, anecessary step to secure the revenues for his own use.
For in early times the Hellenes and the barbarians of the coastand islands, as communication by sea became more common, weretempted to turn pirates, under the conduct of their most powerfulmen; themotives being to serve their own cupidity and to supportthe needy. They would fall upon a town unprotected by walls, andconsisting of a mere collection of villages, and would plunder it;indeed, this came to be the main source of their livelihood, nodisgrace being yet attached to such an achievement, but even someglory. An illustration of this is furnished by the honour withwhich some of the inhabitants of the continent still regard asuccessful marauder, and by the question we find the old poetseverywhere representing the people as asking of voyagers—"Arethey pirates?"—as if those who are asked the question wouldhave no idea of disclaiming the imputation, or their interrogatorsof reproaching them for it. The same rapine prevailed also byland.
Andeven at the present day many of Hellas still follow the oldfashion, the Ozolian Locrians for instance, the Aetolians, theAcarnanians, and that region of the continent; and the custom ofcarrying arms is still kept up among these continentals, from theold piratical habits. The whole of Hellas used once to carry arms,their habitations being unprotected and their communication witheach other unsafe; indeed, to wear arms was as much a part ofeveryday life with them as with the barbarians. And the fact thatthe people in these parts of Hellas are still living in the old waypoints to a time when the same mode of life was once equally commonto all. The Athenians were the first to lay aside their weapons,and to adopt an easier and more luxurious mode of life; indeed, itis only lately that their rich old men left off the luxury ofwearing undergarments of linen, and fastening a knot of their hairwith a tie of golden grasshoppers, a fashion which spread to theirIonian kindred and long prevailed among the old men there. On thecontrary, a modest style of dressing, more in conformity withmodern ideas, was first adopted by the Lacedaemonians, the richdoing their best to assimilate their way of life to that of thecommon people. They also set the example of contending naked,publicly stripping and anointing themselves with oil intheirgymnastic exercises. Formerly, even in the Olympic contests, theathletes who contended wore belts across their middles; and it isbut a few years since that the practice ceased. To this day amongsome of the barbarians, especially in Asia, when prizes for boxingand wrestling are offered, belts are worn by the combatants. Andthere are many other points in which a likeness might be shownbetween the life of the Hellenic world ofold and the barbarian ofto-day.
With respect to their towns, later on, at an era of increasedfacilities of navigation and a greater supply of capital, we findthe shores becoming the site of walled towns, and the isthmusesbeing occupied for the purposes of commerce and defence against aneighbour. But the old towns, on account of the great prevalence ofpiracy, were built away from the sea, whether on the islands or thecontinent, and still remain in their old sites. For the piratesused to plunder oneanother, and indeed all coast populations,whether seafaring or not.
The islanders, too, were great pirates. These islanders wereCarians and Phoenicians, by whom most of the islands werecolonized, as was proved by the following fact. During thepurification of Delos by Athens in this war all the graves in theisland were taken up, and it was found that above half theirinmates were Carians: they were identified by the fashion of thearms buried with them, and by the method of interment, which wasthe sameas the Carians still follow. But as soon as Minos hadformed his navy, communication by sea became easier, as hecolonized most of the islands, and thus expelled the malefactors.The coast population now began to apply themselves more closely tothe acquisition of wealth, and their life became more settled; someeven began to build themselves walls on the strength of their newlyacquired riches. For the love of gain would reconcile the weaker tothe dominion of the stronger, and the possession of capital enabledthe more powerful to reduce the smaller towns to subjection. And itwas at a somewhat later stage of this development that they went onthe expedition against Troy.
What enabled Agamemnon to raise the armament was more, in myopinion, his superiority in strength, than the oaths of Tyndareus,which bound the suitors to follow him. Indeed, the account given bythose Peloponnesians who have been the recipients of the mostcredible tradition is this. First of all Pelops, arriving among aneedy populationfrom Asia with vast wealth, acquired such powerthat, stranger though he was, the country was called after him; andthis power fortune saw fit materially to increase in the hands ofhis descendants. Eurystheus had been killed in Attica by theHeraclids. Atreus was his mother's brother; and to the hands of hisrelation, who had left his father on account of the death ofChrysippus, Eurystheus, when he set out on his expedition, hadcommitted Mycenae and the government. As time went on andEurystheus did notreturn, Atreus complied with the wishes of theMycenaeans, who were influenced by fear of theHeraclids—besides, his power seemed considerable, and he hadnot neglected to court the favour of the populace—and assumedthe sceptre of Mycenae and the rest ofthe dominions of Eurystheus.And so the power of the descendants of Pelops came to be greaterthan that of the descendants of Perseus. To all this Agamemnonsucceeded. He had also a navy far stronger than his contemporaries,so that, in my opinion, fear was quite as strong an element as lovein the formation of the confederate expedition. The strength of hisnavy is shown by the fact that his own was the largest contingent,and that of the Arcadians wasfurnished by him; this at least iswhat Homer says, if his testimony is deemed sufficient. Besides, inhis account of the transmission of the sceptre, he calls him
Of many an isle, and of all Argos king.
Now Agamemnon's was a continental power; and he could not havebeen master of any except the adjacent islands (and these would notbe many), but through the possession of a fleet.
And from this expedition we may infer the character of earlierenterprises. Now Mycenae may have been a small place, and many ofthe towns of that age may appear comparatively insignificant, butno exact observer would therefore feel justified in rejecting theestimate given by the poets and by tradition of the magnitude ofthe armament. For I suppose if Lacedaemon were to become desolate,and the temples and the foundations of the public buildings wereleft, that as time went on there would be a strong disposition withposterity to refuse to accept her fame as a true exponent of herpower. And yet they occupy two-fifths of Peloponnese and lead thewhole, not to speak of their numerous allies without. Still, as thecity is neither built in a compact form nor adorned withmagnificent temples and public edifices, but composed of villagesafter the old fashion of Hellas, there would be an impression ofinadequacy. Whereas, if Athens wereto suffer the same misfortune, Isuppose that any inference from the appearance presented to the eyewould make her power to have been twice as great as it is. We havetherefore no right to be sceptical, nor to content ourselves withan inspection of a town to the exclusion of a consideration of itspower; but we may safely conclude that the armament in questionsurpassed all before it, as it fell short of modern efforts; if wecan here also accept the testimony of Homer's poems, in which,without allowingfor the exaggeration which a poet would feelhimself licensed to employ, we can see that it was far fromequalling ours. He has represented it as consisting of twelvehundred vessels; the Boeotian complement of each ship being ahundred and twenty men, that of the ships of Philoctetes fifty. Bythis, I conceive, he meant to convey the maximum and the minimumcomplement: at any rate, he does not specify the amount of anyothers in his catalogue of the ships. That they were all rowers aswell as warriors we see from his account of the ships ofPhiloctetes, in which all the men at the oar are bowmen. Now it isimprobable that many supernumeraries sailed, if we except the kingsand high officers; especially as they had to cross the open seawith munitions of war, in ships, moreover, that had no decks, butwere equipped in the old piratical fashion. So that if we strikethe average of the largest and smallest ships, the number of thosewho sailed will appear inconsiderable, representing, as they did,the whole force of Hellas. And this was due not so much to scarcityof men as of money. Difficulty of subsistence made the invadersreduce the numbers of the army to a point at which it might live onthe country during the prosecution of the war. Even after thevictorythey obtained on their arrival—and a victory theremust have been, or the fortifications of the naval camp could neverhave been built—there is no indication of their whole forcehaving been employed; on the contrary, they seem to have turned tocultivation of the Chersonese and to piracy from want of supplies.This was what really enabled the Trojans to keep the field for tenyears against them; the dispersion of the enemy making them alwaysa match for the detachment left behind. If they had brought plentyof supplies with them, and had persevered in the war withoutscattering for piracy and agriculture, they would have easilydefeated theTrojans in the field, since they could hold their ownagainst them with the division on service. In short, if they hadstuck to the siege, the capture of Troy would have cost them lesstime and less trouble. But as want of money proved the weakness ofearlier expeditions, so from the same cause even the one inquestion, more famous than its predecessors, may be pronounced onthe evidence of what it effected to have been inferior to itsrenown and to the current opinion about it formed under the tuitionof the poets.
Even after the Trojan War, Hellas was still engaged in removingand settling, and thus could not attain tothe quiet which mustprecede growth. The late return of the Hellenes from Ilium causedmany revolutions, and factions ensued almost everywhere; and it wasthe citizens thus driven into exile who founded the cities. Sixtyyears after the capture of Ilium, the modern Boeotians were drivenout of Arne by the Thessalians, and settled in the present Boeotia,the former Cadmeis; though there was a division of them therebefore, some of whom joined the expedition to Ilium. Twenty yearslater, the Dorians and the Heraclids became masters of Peloponnese;so that much had to be done and many years had to elapse beforeHellas could attain to a durable tranquillity undisturbed byremovals, and could begin to send out colonies, as Athens did toIonia and most of the islands, and the Peloponnesians to most ofItaly and Sicily and some places in the rest of Hellas. All theseplaces were founded subsequently to the war with Troy.
But as the power of Hellas grew, and the acquisition of wealthbecame more an object, the revenues of the states increasing,tyrannies were by their means established almosteverywhere—the old form of government being hereditarymonarchy with definite prerogatives—and Hellas began to fitout fleets and apply herself more closely to the sea. It is saidthat the Corinthians were the first to approach the modern style ofnaval architecture, and that Corinth was the first place in Hellaswhere galleys were built; and we have Ameinocles, a Corinthianshipwright, making four ships for the Samians. Dating from the endof this war, it is nearly three hundred years ago that Ameinocleswent to Samos. Again, the earliest sea-fight in history was betweenthe Corinthians and Corcyraeans; this was about two hundred andsixty years ago, dating from the same time. Planted on an isthmus,Corinth had from time out of mind been a commercial emporium; asformerly almost all communication between the Hellenes within andwithout Peloponnese was carried on overland, and the Corinthianterritory was the highway through which it travelled. She hadconsequently great money resources, as is shown by the epithet"wealthy" bestowed by the old poets on the place, and this enabledher, when traffic by sea became more common, to procure her navyand put down piracy; and as she could offer a mart for bothbranches of the trade, she acquired for herself all the power whicha large revenue affords. Subsequently the Ionians attained to greatnaval strength in the reign of Cyrus, the first king of thePersians, and of his son Cambyses, and while they were at war withthe former commanded for a while the Ionian sea. Polycrates also,the tyrant of Samos, had a powerful navy in the reign of Cambyses,with which he reduced many of the islands, and among them Rhenea,which he consecrated to the Delian Apollo. About this time also thePhocaeans, while they were founding Marseilles, defeated theCarthaginians in a sea-fight. These were the most powerful navies.And even these, although so many generations had elapsed since theTrojan war, seem to have been principally composed of the oldfifty-oars and long-boats, and to have counted few galleys amongtheir ranks. Indeed it was onlyshortly the Persian war, and thedeath of Darius the successor of Cambyses, that the Siciliantyrants and the Corcyraeans acquired any large number of galleys.For after these there were no navies of any account in Hellas tillthe expedition of Xerxes; Aegina, Athens, and others may havepossessed a few vessels, but they were principally fifty-oars. Itwas quite at the endof this period that the war with Aegina and theprospect of the barbarian invasion enabled Themistocles to persuadethe Athenians to build the fleet with which they fought at Salamis;and even these vessels had not complete decks.
The navies, then, of theHellenes during the period we havetraversed were what I have described. All their insignificance didnot prevent their being an element of the greatest power to thosewho cultivated them, alike in revenue and in dominion. They werethe means by which theislands were reached and reduced, those ofthe smallest area falling the easiest prey. Wars by land there werenone, none at least by which power was acquired; we have the usualborder contests, but of distant expeditions with conquest forobject we hear nothing among the Hellenes. There was no union ofsubject cities round a great state, no spontaneous combination ofequals for confederate expeditions; what fighting there wasconsisted merely of local warfare between rival neighbours. Thenearest approachto a coalition took place in the old war betweenChalcis and Eretria; this was a quarrel in which the rest of theHellenic name did to some extent take sides.
Various, too, were the obstacles which the national growthencountered in various localities. Thepower of the Ionians wasadvancing with rapid strides, when it came into collision withPersia, under King Cyrus, who, after having dethroned Croesus andoverrun everything between the Halys and the sea, stopped not tillhe had reduced the cities of the coast; the islands being only leftto be subdued by Darius and the Phoenician navy.
Again, wherever there were tyrants, their habit of providingsimply for themselves, of looking solely to their personal comfortand family aggrandizement, made safety the great aim of theirpolicy, and prevented anything great proceeding from them; thoughthey would each have their affairs with their immediate neighbours.All this is only true of the mother country, for in Sicily theyattained to very great power. Thus for along time everywhere inHellas do we find causes which make the states alike incapable ofcombination for great and national ends, or of any vigorous actionof their own.
But at last a time came when the tyrants of Athens and the farolder tyrannies of therest of Hellas were, with the exception ofthose in Sicily, once and for all put down by Lacedaemon; for thiscity, though after the settlement of the Dorians, its presentinhabitants, it suffered from factions for an unparalleled lengthof time, still ata very early period obtained good laws, andenjoyed a freedom from tyrants which was unbroken; it has possessedthe same form of government for more than four hundred years,reckoning to the end of the late war, and has thus been in aposition to arrangethe affairs of the other states. Not many yearsafter the deposition of the tyrants, the battle of Marathon wasfought between the Medes and the Athenians. Ten years afterwards,the barbarian returned with the armada for the subjugation ofHellas. In the face of this great danger, the command of theconfederate Hellenes was assumed by the Lacedaemonians in virtue oftheir superior power; and the Athenians, having made up their mindsto abandon their city, broke up their homes, threw themselves intotheir ships, and became a naval people. This coalition, afterrepulsing the barbarian, soon afterwards split into two sections,whichincluded the Hellenes who had revolted from the King, as wellas those who had aided him in the war. At the end of the one stoodAthens, at the head of the other Lacedaemon, one the first naval,the other the first military power in Hellas. For a short time theleague held together, till the Lacedaemonians and Atheniansquarrelled and made war upon each other with their allies, a duelinto which all the Hellenes sooner or later were drawn, though somemight at first remain neutral. So that the whole period from theMedian war to this, with some peaceful intervals, was spent by eachpower in war, either with its rival, or with its ownrevoltedallies, and consequently afforded them constant practice inmilitary matters, and that experience which is learnt in the schoolof danger.
The policy of Lacedaemon was not to exact tribute from herallies, but merely to secure their subservience to her interests byestablishing oligarchies among them; Athens, on the contrary, hadby degrees deprived hers of their ships, and imposed insteadcontributions in money on all except Chios and Lesbos. Both foundtheir resources for this war separately to exceed the sum of theirstrength when the alliance flourished intact.
Having now given the result of my inquiries into early times, Igrant that there will be a difficulty in believing every particulardetail. The way that most men deal with traditions, even traditionsof their own country, is to receive them all alike as they aredelivered, without applying any critical test whatever. The generalAthenian public fancy that Hipparchus was tyrant when he fell bythe hands of Harmodius and Aristogiton, not knowing that Hippias,the eldest of the sons of Pisistratus, was really supreme, and thatHipparchus and Thessalus were his brothers; and that Harmodius andAristogiton suspecting, on the very day, nay at the very momentfixed on for the deed, that information had been conveyed toHippias by their accomplices, concluded that he had been warned,and did not attack him, yet, not liking to be apprehended and risktheir lives for nothing, fell upon Hipparchus near the temple ofthe daughters of Leos, and slew himas he was arranging thePanathenaic procession.
There are many other unfounded ideas current among the rest ofthe Hellenes, even on matters of contemporary history, which havenot been obscured by time. For instance, there is the notion thatthe Lacedaemonian kings have two votes each, the fact being thatthey have only one; and that there is a company of Pitane, therebeing simply no such thing. So little pains do the vulgar take inthe investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story thatcomesto hand. On the whole, however, the conclusions I have drawnfrom the proofs quoted may, I believe, safely be relied on.Assuredly they will not be disturbed either by the lays of a poetdisplaying the exaggeration of his craft, or by the compositions ofthe chroniclers that are attractive at truth's expense; thesubjects they treat of being out of the reach of evidence, and timehaving robbed most of them of historical value by enthroning themin the region of legend. Turning from these, we can rest satisfiedwith having proceeded upon the clearest data, and having arrived atconclusions as exact as can be expected in matters of suchantiquity. To come to this war: despite the known disposition ofthe actors in a struggle to overrate its importance, and when it isover to return to their admiration of earlier events, yet anexamination of the facts will show that it was much greater thanthe wars which preceded it.
With reference to the speeches in this history, some weredelivered before the war began, others while it was going on; someI heard myself, others I got from variousquarters; it was in allcases difficult to carry them word for word in one's memory, so myhabit has been to make the speakers say what was in my opiniondemanded of them by the various occasions, of course adhering asclosely as possible to the general sense of what they really said.And with reference to the narrative of events, far from permittingmyself to derive it from the first source that came to hand, I didnot even trust my own impressions, but it rests partly on what Isaw myself, partly on what others saw for me, the accuracy of thereport being always tried by the most severe and detailed testspossible. My conclusions have cost me some labour from the want ofcoincidence between accounts of the same occurrences by differenteye-witnesses, arising sometimes from imperfect memory, sometimesfrom undue partiality for one side or the other. The absence ofromance in my history will, I fear, detract somewhat from itsinterest; but if it be judged useful by those inquirers who desirean exact knowledge of the past as an aid to the interpretation ofthe future, which in the course of human things must resemble if itdoes not reflect it, I shall be content. In fine, I have written mywork, not as an essay which is to win the applause of the moment,but as a possession for all time.
The Median War, the greatest achievement of past times, yetfound a speedy decision in two actions by sea and two by land. ThePeloponnesian War was prolonged to an immense length, and, long asit was, it was short without parallel for the misfortunes that itbrought upon Hellas. Never had so many cities been taken and laiddesolate, here by the barbarians, here by the parties contending(the old inhabitants being sometimes removed to make room forothers); never was there so much banishing and blood-shedding, nowon the field of battle, now in the strife of faction. Old storiesof occurrences handed down by tradition, but scantily confirmed byexperience, suddenly ceased to be incredible; there wereearthquakes of unparalleled extent and violence; eclipses of thesun occurred with a frequency unrecorded in previous history; therewere great droughts in sundry places and consequent famines, andthat most calamitous and awfully fatal visitation, the plague. Allthis came upon them with the late war, which was begun by theAthenians and Peloponnesians by the dissolution of the thirtyyears' truce made after the conquest of Euboea. To the question whythey brokethe treaty, I answer by placing first an account of theirgrounds of complaint and points of difference, that no one may everhave to ask the immediate cause which plunged the Hellenes into awar of such magnitude. The real cause I consider to be the onewhich was formally most kept out of sight. The growth of the powerof Athens, and the alarm which this inspired in Lacedaemon, madewar inevitable. Still it is well to give the grounds alleged byeither side which led to the dissolution of the treaty and thebreaking out of the war.
The city of Epidamnus stands on the right of the entrance of theIonic Gulf. Its vicinity is inhabited by the Taulantians, anIllyrian people.The place is a colony from Corcyra, founded byPhalius, son of Eratocleides, of the family of the Heraclids, whohad according to ancient usage been summoned for the purpose fromCorinth, the mother country. The colonists were joined by someCorinthians, and others of the Dorian race. Now, as time went on,the city of Epidamnus became great and populous; but falling a preyto factions arising, it is said, from a war with her neighbours thebarbarians, she became much enfeebled, and lost a considerableamount of her power. The last act before the war was the expulsionof the nobles by the people. The exiled party joined thebarbarians, and proceeded to plunder those in the city by sea andland; and the Epidamnians, finding themselves hard pressed, sentambassadors to Corcyra beseeching their mother country not to allowthem to perish, but to make up matters between them and the exiles,and to rid them of the war with the barbarians. The ambassadorsseated themselves in the temple of Hera as suppliants, and made theabove requests to the Corcyraeans. But the Corcyraeans refused toaccept their supplication, and they were dismissed without havingeffected anything.
When the Epidamnians found that no help could be expected fromCorcyra, they were in a strait whatto do next. So they sent toDelphi and inquired of the God whether they should deliver theircity to the Corinthians and endeavour to obtain some assistancefrom their founders. The answer he gave them was to deliver thecity and place themselves under Corinthian protection. So theEpidamnians went to Corinth and delivered over the colony inobedience to the commands of the oracle. They showed that theirfounder came from Corinth, and revealed the answer of the god; andthey begged them not to allow them toperish, but to assist them.This the Corinthians consented to do. Believing the colony tobelong as much to themselves as to the Corcyraeans, they felt it tobe a kind of duty to undertake their protection. Besides, theyhated the Corcyraeans for their contempt of the mother country.Instead of meeting with the usual honours accorded to the parentcity by every other colony at public assemblies, such as precedenceat sacrifices, Corinth found herself treated with contempt by apower which in point of wealth could stand comparison with any evenof the richest communities in Hellas, which possessed greatmilitary strength, and which sometimes could not repress a pride inthe high naval position of an island whose nautical renown datedfrom the days of its oldinhabitants, the Phaeacians. This was onereason of the care that they lavished on their fleet, which becamevery efficient; indeed they began the war with a force of a hundredand twenty galleys.
All these grievances made Corinth eager to send the promised aidto Epidamnus. Advertisement was made for volunteer settlers, and aforce of Ambraciots, Leucadians, and Corinthians was dispatched.They marched by land to Apollonia, a Corinthian colony, the routeby sea being avoided from fear of Corcyraean interruption. When theCorcyraeansheard of the arrival of the settlers and troops inEpidamnus, and the surrender of the colony to Corinth, they tookfire. Instantly putting to sea with five-and-twenty ships, whichwere quickly followed by others, they insolently commanded theEpidamnians to receive back the banished nobles—(it must bepremised that the Epidamnian exiles had come to Corcyra and,pointing to the sepulchres of their ancestors, had appealed totheir kindred to restore them)—and to dismiss the Corinthiangarrison and settlers. But to all this the Epidamnians turned adeaf ear. Upon this the Corcyraeans commenced operations againstthem with a fleet of forty sail. They took with them the exiles,with a view to their restoration, and also secured the services ofthe Illyrians. Sitting down before the city, they issued aproclamation to the effect that any of the natives that chose, andthe foreigners, might depart unharmed, with the alternative ofbeing treated as enemies. On their refusal the Corcyraeansproceeded to besiege the city, which stands on an isthmus; and theCorinthians, receiving intelligence of the investment of Epidamnus,got together an armament and proclaimed a colony to Epidamnus,perfect political equality being guaranteed to all whochose to go.Any who were not prepared to sail at once might, by paying down thesum of fifty Corinthian drachmae, have a share in the colonywithout leaving Corinth. Great numbers took advantage of thisproclamation, some being ready to start directly, others paying therequisite forfeit. In case of their passage being disputed by theCorcyraeans, several cities were asked to lend them a convoy.Megara prepared to accompany them with eight ships, Pale inCephallonia with four; Epidaurus furnished five, Hermione one,Troezen two, Leucas ten, and Ambracia eight. The Thebans andPhliasians were asked for money, the Eleans for hulls as well;while Corinth herself furnished thirty ships and three thousandheavy infantry.
When the Corcyraeans heard of their preparations they came toCorinth with envoys from Lacedaemon and Sicyon, whom they persuadedto accompany them, and bade her recall the garrison and settlers,as she had nothing to do with Epidamnus. If, however, she had anyclaims to make, they were willing to submit the matter to thearbitration of such of the cities in Peloponnese as should bechosen by mutual agreement, and that the colony should remain withthe city to whom the arbitrators might assign it. They were alsowilling to refer the matter to theoracle at Delphi. If, in defianceof their protestations, war was appealed to, they should bethemselves compelled by this violence to seek friends in quarterswhere they had no desire to seek them, and to make even old tiesgive way to the necessity of assistance. The answer they got fromCorinth was that, if they would withdraw their fleet and thebarbarians from Epidamnus, negotiation might be possible; but,while the town was still being besieged, going before arbitratorswas out of the question. The Corcyraeans retorted that if Corinthwould withdraw her troops from Epidamnus they would withdrawtheirs, or they were ready to let both parties remain in statu quo,an armistice being concluded till judgment could be given.
Turning a deaf ear to all these proposals, when their ships weremanned and their allies had come in, the Corinthians sent a heraldbefore them to declare war and, getting under way with seventy-fiveships and two thousand heavy infantry, sailed for Epidamnus to givebattle to the Corcyraeans. The fleet was under the command ofAristeus, son of Pellichas, Callicrates, son of Callias, andTimanor, son of Timanthes; the troops under that of Archetimus, sonof Eurytimus, and Isarchidas, son of Isarchus. When they hadreachedActium in the territory of Anactorium, at the mouth of themouth of the Gulf of Ambracia, where the temple of Apollo stands,the Corcyraeans sent on a herald in a light boat to warn them notto sail against them. Meanwhile they proceeded to man their ships,all of which had been equipped for action, the old vessels beingundergirded to make them seaworthy. On the return of the heraldwithout any peaceful answer from the Corinthians, their ships beingnow manned, they put out to sea to meet the enemy with a fleet ofeighty sail (forty were engaged in the siege of Epidamnus), formedline, and went into action, and gained a decisive victory, anddestroyed fifteen of the Corinthian vessels. The same day had seenEpidamnus compelled by its besiegers to capitulate; theconditionsbeing that the foreigners should be sold, and theCorinthians kept as prisoners of war, till their fate should beotherwise decided.
After the engagement the Corcyraeans set up a trophy onLeukimme, a headland of Corcyra, and slew all their captivesexceptthe Corinthians, whom they kept as prisoners of war. Defeatedat sea, the Corinthians and their allies repaired home, and leftthe Corcyraeans masters of all the sea about those parts. Sailingto Leucas, a Corinthian colony, they ravaged their territory,andburnt Cyllene, the harbour of the Eleans, because they hadfurnished ships and money to Corinth. For almost the whole of theperiod that followed the battle they remained masters of the sea,and the allies of Corinth were harassed by Corcyraean cruisers. Atlast Corinth, roused by the sufferings of her allies, sent outships and troops in the fall of the summer, who formed anencampment at Actium and about Chimerium, in Thesprotis, for theprotection of Leucas and the rest of the friendly cities. TheCorcyraeans on their part formed a similar station on Leukimme.Neither party made any movement, but they remained confronting eachother till the end of the summer, and winter was at hand beforeeither of them returned home.
Corinth, exasperated by the warwith the Corcyraeans, spent thewhole of the year after the engagement and that succeeding it inbuilding ships, and in straining every nerve to form an efficientfleet; rowers being drawn from Peloponnese and the rest of Hellasby the inducement of largebounties. The Corcyraeans, alarmed at thenews of their preparations, being without a single ally in Hellas(for they had not enrolled themselves either in the Athenian or inthe Lacedaemonian confederacy), decided to repair to Athens inorder to enter into alliance and to endeavour to procure supportfrom her. Corinth also, hearing of their intentions, sent anembassy to Athens to prevent the Corcyraean navy being joined bythe Athenian, and her prospect of ordering the war according to herwishes being thus impeded. An assembly was convoked, and the rivaladvocates appeared: the Corcyraeans spoke as follows:
"Athenians! when a people that have not rendered any importantservice or support to their neighbours in times past, for whichthey might claim to berepaid, appear before them as we now appearbefore you to solicit their assistance, they may fairly be requiredto satisfy certain preliminary conditions. They should show, first,that it is expedient or at least safe to grant their request; next,that they will retain a lasting sense of the kindness. But if theycannot clearly establish any of these points, they must not beannoyed if they meet with a rebuff. Now the Corcyraeans believethat with their petition for assistance they can also give you asatisfactory answer on these points, and they have thereforedispatched us hither. It has so happened that our policy as regardsyou with respect to this request,turns out to be inconsistent, andas regards our interests, to be at the present crisis inexpedient.We say inconsistent, because a power which has never in the wholeof her past history been willing to ally herself with any of herneighbours, is now found asking them to ally themselves with her.And we say inexpedient, because in our present war withCorinth ithas left us in a position of entire isolation, and what once seemedthe wise precaution of refusing to involve ourselves in allianceswith other powers, lest we should also involve ourselves in risksof their choosing, has now proved to be follyand weakness. It istrue that in the late naval engagement we drove back theCorinthians from our shores single-handed. But they have now gottogether a still larger armament from Peloponnese and the rest ofHellas; and we, seeing our utter inability to cope with themwithout foreign aid, and the magnitude of the danger whichsubjection to them implies, find it necessary to ask help from youand from every other power. And we hope to be excused if weforswear our old principle of complete political isolation, aprinciple which was not adopted with any sinister intention, butwas rather the consequence of an error in judgment.
"Now there are many reasons why in the event of your complianceyou will congratulate yourselves on this request having been madetoyou. First, because your assistance will be rendered to a powerwhich, herself inoffensive, is a victim to the injustice of others.Secondly, because all that we most value is at stake in the presentcontest, and your welcome of us under these circumstances will be aproof of goodwill which will ever keep alive the gratitude you willlay up in our hearts. Thirdly, yourselves excepted, we are thegreatest naval power in Hellas. Moreover, can you conceive a strokeof good fortune more rare in itself, or moredisheartening to yourenemies, than that the power whose adhesion you would have valuedabove much material and moral strength should present herselfself-invited, should deliver herself into your hands without dangerand without expense, and should lastlyput you in the way of gaininga high character in the eyes of the world, the gratitude of thosewhom you shall assist, and a great accession of strength foryourselves? You may search all history without finding manyinstances of a people gaining all these advantages at once, or manyinstances of a power that comes in quest of assistance being in aposition to give to the people whose alliance she solicits as muchsafety and honour as she will receive. But it will be urged that itis only in the case of awar that we shall be found useful. To thiswe answer that if any of you imagine that that war is far off, heis grievously mistaken, and is blind to the fact that Lacedaemonregards you with jealousy and desires war, and that Corinth ispowerful there—thesame, remember, that is your enemy, and iseven now trying to subdue us as a preliminary to attacking you. Andthis she does to prevent our becoming united by a common enmity,and her having us both on her hands, and also to ensure getting thestart of youin one of two ways, either by crippling our power or bymaking its strength her own. Now it is our policy to be beforehandwith her—that is, for Corcyra to make an offer of allianceand for you to accept it; in fact, we ought to form plans againsther instead of waiting to defeat the plans she forms againstus.
"If she asserts that for you to receive a colony of hers intoalliance is not right, let her know that every colony that is welltreated honours its parent state, but becomes estranged from it byinjustice. For colonists are not sent forth on the understandingthat they are to be the slaves of those that remain behind, butthat they are to be their equals. And that Corinth was injuring usis clear. Invited to refer the dispute about Epidamnustoarbitration, they chose to prosecute their complaints war ratherthan by a fair trial. And let their conduct towards us who aretheir kindred be a warning to you not to be misled by their deceit,nor to yield to their direct requests; concessions to adversariesonly end in self-reproach, and the more strictly they are avoidedthe greater will be the chance of security.
"If it be urged that your reception of us will be a breach ofthe treaty existing between you and Lacedaemon, the answer is thatwe are a neutral state, and that one of the express provisions ofthat treaty is that it shall be competent for any Hellenic statethat is neutral to join whichever side it pleases. And it isintolerable for Corinth to be allowed to obtain men for her navynot only fromher allies, but also from the rest of Hellas, no smallnumber being furnished by your own subjects; while we are to beexcluded both from the alliance left open to us by treaty, and fromany assistance that we might get from other quarters, and you aretobe accused of political immorality if you comply with ourrequest. On the other hand, we shall have much greater cause tocomplain of you, if you do not comply with it; if we, who are inperil and are no enemies of yours, meet with a repulse at yourhands,while Corinth, who is the aggressor and your enemy, not onlymeets with no hindrance from you, but is even allowed to drawmaterial for war from your dependencies. This ought not to be, butyou should either forbid her enlisting men in your dominions, oryoushould lend us too what help you may think advisable.
"But your real policy is to afford us avowed countenance andsupport. The advantages of this course, as we premised in thebeginning of our speech, are many. We mention one that is perhapsthe chief. Could there be a clearer guarantee of our good faiththan is offered by the fact that the power which is at enmity withyou is also at enmity with us, and that that power is fully able topunish defection? And there is a wide difference betweendecliningthe alliance of an inland and of a maritime power. Foryour first endeavour should be to prevent, if possible, theexistence of any naval power except your own; failing this, tosecure the friendship of the strongest that does exist. And if anyof you believe that what we urge is expedient, but fear to act uponthis belief, lest it should lead to a breach of the treaty, youmust remember that on the one hand, whatever your fears, yourstrength will be formidable to your antagonists; on the other,whateverthe confidence you derive from refusing to receive us, yourweakness will have no terrors for a strong enemy. You must alsoremember that your decision is for Athens no less than Corcyra, andthat you are not making the best provision for her interests, ifata time when you are anxiously scanning the horizon that you may bein readiness for the breaking out of the war which is all but uponyou, you hesitate to attach to your side a place whose adhesion orestrangement is alike pregnant with the most vitalconsequences. Forit lies conveniently for the coast-navigation in the direction ofItaly and Sicily, being able to bar the passage of navalreinforcements from thence to Peloponnese, and from Peloponnesethither; and it is in other respects a most desirable station. Tosum up as shortly as possible, embracing both general andparticular considerations, let this show you the folly ofsacrificing us. Remember that there are but three considerablenaval powers in Hellas—Athens, Corcyra, and Corinth—andthat if you allow two of these three to become one, and Corinth tosecure us for herself, you will have to hold the sea against theunited fleets of Corcyra and Peloponnese. But if you receive us,you will have our ships to reinforce you in the struggle."
Such were the words of the Corcyraeans. After they had finished,the Corinthians spoke as follows:
"These Corcyraeans in the speech we have just heard do notconfine themselves to the question of their reception into youralliance. They also talk of our being guilty of injustice, andtheir being the victims of an unjustifiable war. It becomesnecessary for us to touch upon both these points before we proceedto the rest of what we have to say, that you may have a morecorrect idea of the grounds of our claim, andhave good cause toreject their petition. According to them, their old policy ofrefusing all offers of alliance was a policy of moderation. It wasin fact adopted for bad ends, not for good; indeed their conduct issuch as to make them by no means desirous of having allies presentto witness it, or of having the shame of asking their concurrence.Besides, their geographical situation makes them independent ofothers, and consequently the decision in cases where they injureany lies not with judges appointed by mutual agreement, but withthemselves, because, while they seldom make voyages to theirneighbours, they are constantly being visited by foreign vesselswhich are compelled to put in to Corcyra. In short, the object thatthey propose to themselves, in their specious policy of completeisolation, is not to avoid sharing in the crimes of others, but tosecure monopoly of crime to themselves—the licence of outragewherever they can compel, of fraud wherever they can elude, and theenjoyment of their gains without shame. And yet if they were thehonest men they pretend to be, the less hold that others had uponthem, the stronger would be the light in which they might have puttheir honesty by giving and taking what was just.
"But such has not been their conduct either towards others ortowards us. The attitude of our colony towards us has always beenone of estrangement and is now one of hostility; for, say they: 'Wewere not sent out to be ill-treated.' We rejoin that we did notfound the colony to be insulted by them, but to be their head andto be regarded with a proper respect. At any rate our othercolonies honour us, and we are much beloved by our colonists; andclearly, if the majority are satisfied with us, these can have nogood reason for a dissatisfaction in which they stand alone, and weare not acting improperly in making war against them, nor are wemaking war against them without having received signal provocation.Besides, if we were in the wrong, it would be honourable in them togive way toour wishes, and disgraceful for us to trample on theirmoderation; but in the pride and licence of wealth they have sinnedagain and again against us, and never more deeply than whenEpidamnus, our dependency, which they took no steps to claim in itsdistress upon our coming to relieve it, was by them seized, and isnow held by force of arms.
"As to their allegation that they wished the question to befirst submitted to arbitration, it is obvious that a challengecoming from the party who is safe in a commanding position cannotgain the credit due only to him who, before appealing to arms, indeeds as well as words, places himself on a level with hisadversary. In their case, it was not before they laid siege to theplace, but after they at length understoodthat we should not tamelysuffer it, that they thought of the specious word arbitration. Andnot satisfied with their own misconduct there, they appear here nowrequiring you to join with them not in alliance but in crime, andto receive them in spite oftheir being at enmity with us. But itwas when they stood firmest that they should have made overtures toyou, and not at a time when we have been wronged and they are inperil; nor yet at a time when you will be admitting to a shareinyour protection those who never admitted you to a share in theirpower, and will be incurring an equal amount of blame from us withthose in whose offences you had no hand. No, they should haveshared their power with you before they asked you to share yourfortunes with them.
"So then the reality of the grievances we come to complain of,and the violence and rapacity of our opponents, have both beenproved. But that you cannot equitably receive them, this you havestill to learn. It may be true that one of the provisions ofthetreaty is that it shall be competent for any state, whose name wasnot down on the list, to join whichever side it pleases. But thisagreement is not meant for those whose object in joining is theinjury of other powers, but for those whose need of support doesnot arise from the fact of defection, and whose adhesion will notbring to the power that is mad enough to receive them war insteadof peace; which will be the case with you, if you refuse to listento us. For you cannot become their auxiliary and remain our friend;if you join in their attack, you must share the punishment whichthe defenders inflict on them. And yet you have the best possibleright to be neutral, or, failing this, you should on the contraryjoin us against them. Corinth is at least in treaty with you; withCorcyra you were never even in truce. But do not lay down theprinciple that defection is to be patronized. Did we on thedefection of the Samians record our vote against you, when the restof the Peloponnesian powers were equally divided on the questionwhether they should assist them? No, we told them to their facethat every power has a right to punish its own allies. Why, if youmake it your policy to receive and assist all offenders, you willfind that just as many of yourdependencies will come over to us,and the principle that you establish will press less heavily on usthan on yourselves.
"This then is what Hellenic law entitles us to demand as aright. But we have also advice to offer and claims on yourgratitude, which, since there is no danger of our injuring you, aswe are not enemies, and since our friendship does not amount tovery frequent intercourse, we say ought to be liquidated at thepresent juncture. When you were in want of ships of war for the waragainst the Aeginetans, before the Persian invasion, Corinthsupplied you with twenty vessels. That good turn, and the line wetook on the Samian question, when we were the cause of thePeloponnesians refusing to assist them, enabled you to conquerAegina and to punish Samos. And we acted thus at crises when, ifever, men are wont in their efforts against their enemies to forgeteverything for the sake of victory, regarding him who assists themthen as a friend, even if thus far he has been a foe, and him whoopposes them then as a foe, even if he has thus far been a friend;indeed they allow their real interests to suffer from theirabsorbing preoccupation in the struggle.
"Weigh well these considerations, and let your youth learn whatthey are from their elders, and let them determine to do unto us aswe have done unto you. And let them not acknowledge the justice ofwhat we say, but dispute its wisdom in the contingency of war. Notonly is the straightest path generally speaking the wisest; but thecoming of the war, which the Corcyraeans have used as a bugbear topersuade you to do wrong, is still uncertain, and it is not worthwhile to be carried away by it into gaining the instant anddeclared enmity of Corinth. It were, rather, wise to try andcounteract the unfavourable impression which your conduct to Megarahas created. For kindness opportunely shown has a greater power ofremoving old grievances than the facts of the case may warrant.Anddo not be seduced by the prospect of a great naval alliance.Abstinencefrom all injustice to other first-rate powers is agreater tower of strength than anything that can be gained by thesacrifice of permanent tranquillity for an apparent temporaryadvantage. It is now our turn to benefit by the principle that welaid downat Lacedaemon, that every power has a right to punish herown allies. We now claim to receive the same from you, and protestagainst your rewarding us for benefiting you by our vote byinjuring us by yours. On the contrary, return us like for like,remembering that this is that very crisis in which he who lends aidis most a friend, and he who opposes is most a foe. And for theseCorcyraeans—neither receive them into alliance in ourdespite, nor be their abettors in crime. So do, and you will act aswe havea right to expect of you, and at the same time best consultyour own interests."
Such were the words of the Corinthians.
When the Athenians had heard both out, two assemblies were held.In the first there was a manifest disposition to listen to therepresentations of Corinth; in the second, public feeling hadchanged and an alliance with Corcyra was decided on, with certainreservations. It was to be a defensive, not an offensive alliance.It did not involve a breach of the treaty with Peloponnese:Athenscould not be required to join Corcyra in any attack uponCorinth. But each of the contracting parties had a right to theother's assistance against invasion, whether of his own territoryor that of an ally. For it began now to be felt that the coming ofthe Peloponnesian war was only a question of time, and no one waswilling to see a naval power of such magnitude as Corcyrasacrificed to Corinth; though if they could let them weaken eachother by mutual conflict, it would be no bad preparation for thestruggle which Athens might one day have to wage with Corinth andthe other naval powers. At the same time the island seemed to lieconveniently on the coasting passage to Italy and Sicily. Withthese views, Athens received Corcyra into alliance and, on thedeparture of the Corinthians not long afterwards, sent ten ships totheir assistance. They were commanded by Lacedaemonius, the son ofCimon, Diotimus, the son of Strombichus, and Proteas, the son ofEpicles. Their instructions were to avoid collision with theCorinthian fleet except under certain circumstances. If it sailedto Corcyra and threatened a landing on her coast, or in any of herpossessions, they were to do their utmost to prevent it. Theseinstructions were prompted by an anxiety to avoid a breach of thetreaty.
Meanwhile the Corinthians completed their preparations, andsailed for Corcyra with a hundred and fifty ships. Of these Elisfurnished ten, Megara twelve, Leucas ten, Ambracia twenty-seven,Anactorium one, and Corinth herself ninety. Eachof thesecontingents had its own admiral, the Corinthian being under thecommand of Xenoclides, son of Euthycles, with four colleagues.Sailing from Leucas, they made land at the part of the continentopposite Corcyra. They anchored in the harbour of Chimerium, in theterritory of Thesprotis, above which, at some distance from thesea, lies the city of Ephyre, in the Elean district. By this citythe Acherusian lake pours its waters into the sea. It gets its namefrom the river Acheron, which flows through Thesprotis and fallsinto the lake. There also the river Thyamis flows, forming theboundary between Thesprotis and Kestrine; and between these riversrises the point of Chimerium. In this part of the continent theCorinthians now came to anchor, and formedan encampment. When theCorcyraeans saw them coming, they manned a hundred and ten ships,commanded by Meikiades, Aisimides, andEurybatus, and stationedthemselves at one of the Sybota isles; the ten Athenian ships beingpresent. On Point Leukimme they posted their land forces, and athousand heavy infantry who had come from Zacynthus to theirassistance. Nor were the Corinthians on the mainland without theirallies. The barbarians flocked in large numbers to theirassistance, the inhabitants of this partof the continent being oldallies of theirs.
When the Corinthian preparations were completed, they took threedays' provisions and put out from Chimerium by night, ready foraction. Sailing with the dawn, they sighted the Corcyraean fleetout at sea and coming towards them. When they perceived each other,both sides formed in order of battle. On the Corcyraean right winglay the Athenian ships, the rest of the line being occupied bytheir own vessels formed in three squadrons, each of which wascommanded by one of the three admirals. Such was the Corcyraeanformation. The Corinthian was as follows: on the right wing lay theMegarian and Ambraciot ships, in the centre the rest of the alliesin order. But the left was composed of the best sailers in theCorinthian navy, to encounter the Athenians and the right wing ofthe Corcyraeans. As soon as the signals were raised on either side,they joined battle. Both sides had a large number of heavy infantryon their decks, and a large number of archers and darters,the oldimperfect armament still prevailing. The sea-fight was an obstinateone, though not remarkable for its science; indeed it was more likea battle by land. Whenever they charged each other, the multitudeand crush of the vessels made it by no means easy to get loose;besides, their hopes of victory lay principally in the heavyinfantry on the decks, who stood and fought in order, the shipsremaining stationary. The manoeuvre of breaking the line was nottried; in short, strength and pluck had more share in the fightthan science. Everywhere tumult reigned, the battle being one sceneof confusion; meanwhile the Athenian ships, by coming up to theCorcyraeans whenever they were pressed, served to alarm the enemy,though their commanders could not join inthe battle from fear oftheir instructions. The right wing of the Corinthians sufferedmost. The Corcyraeans routed it, and chased them in disorder to thecontinent with twenty ships, sailed up to their camp, and burnt thetents which they found empty, and plundered the stuff. So in thisquarter the Corinthians and their allies were defeated, and theCorcyraeans were victorious. But where the Corinthians themselveswere, on the left, they gained a decided success; the scanty forcesof the Corcyraeans beingfurther weakened by the want of the twentyships absent on the pursuit. Seeing the Corcyraeans hard pressed,the Athenians began at length to assist them more unequivocally. Atfirst, it is true, they refrained from charging any ships; but whenthe rout was becoming patent, and the Corinthians were pressing on,the time at last came when every one set to, and all distinctionwas laid aside, and it came to this point, that the Corinthians andAthenians raised their hands against each other.
After the rout,the Corinthians, instead of employing themselvesin lashing fast and hauling after them the hulls of the vesselswhich they had disabled, turned their attention to the men, whomthey butchered as they sailed through, not caring so much to makeprisoners. Some even of their own friends were slain by them, bymistake, in their ignorance of the defeat of the right wing For thenumber of the ships on both sides, and the distance to which theycovered the sea, made it difficult, after they had once joined, todistinguish between the conquering and the conquered; this battleproving far greater than any before it, any at least betweenHellenes, for the number of vessels engaged. After theCorinthianshad chased the Corcyraeans to the land, they turned to the wrecksand their dead, most of whom they succeeded in getting hold of andconveying to Sybota, the rendezvous of the land forces furnished bytheir barbarian allies. Sybota, it must be known, is a desertharbour of Thesprotis. This task over, they mustered anew, andsailed against the Corcyraeans, who on their part advanced to meetthem with all their ships that were fit for service and remainingto them, accompanied by the Athenian vessels, fearing that theymight attempt a landing in their territory. It was bythis timegetting late, and the paean had been sung for the attack, when theCorinthians suddenly began to back water. They had observed twentyAthenian ships sailing up, which had been sent out afterwards toreinforce the ten vessels by the Athenians, who feared, as itturned out justly, the defeat of the Corcyraeans and the inabilityof their handful of ships to protect them. These ships were thusseen by the Corinthians first. They suspected that they were fromAthens, and that those which they saw werenot all, but that therewere more behind; they accordingly began to retire. The Corcyraeansmeanwhile had not sighted them, as they were advancing from a pointwhich they could not so well see, and were wondering why theCorinthians were backing water, when some caught sight of them, andcried out that there were ships in sight ahead. Upon this they alsoretired; for it was now getting dark, and the retreat of theCorinthians had suspended hostilities. Thus they parted from eachother, and the battle ceased with night. The Corcyraeans were intheir camp at Leukimme, when these twenty ships from Athens, underthe command of Glaucon, the son of Leagrus, and Andocides, son ofLeogoras, bore on through the corpses and the wrecks, and sailed upto the camp, notlong after they were sighted. It was now night, andthe Corcyraeans feared that they might be hostile vessels; but theysoon knew them, and the ships came to anchor.
The next day the thirty Athenian vessels put out to sea,accompanied by all the Corcyraeanships that were seaworthy, andsailed to the harbour at Sybota, where the Corinthians lay, to seeif they would engage. The Corinthians put out from the land andformed a line in the open sea, but beyond this made no furthermovement, having no intentionof assuming the offensive. For theysaw reinforcements arrived fresh from Athens, and themselvesconfronted by numerous difficulties, such as the necessity ofguarding the prisoners whom they had on board and the want of allmeans of refitting their shipsin a desert place. What they werethinking more about was how their voyage home was to be effected;they feared that the Athenians might consider that the treaty wasdissolved by the collision which had occurred, and forbid theirdeparture.
Accordingly they resolved to put some men on board a boat, andsend them without a herald's wand to the Athenians, as anexperiment. Having done so, they spoke as follows: "You do wrong,Athenians, to begin war and break the treaty. Engaged in chastisingour enemies, wefind you placing yourselves in our path in armsagainst us. Now if your intentions are to prevent us sailing toCorcyra, or anywhere else that we may wish, and if you are forbreaking the treaty, first take us that are here and treat us asenemies." Such was what they said, and all the Corcyraean armamentthat were within hearing immediately called out to take them andkill them. But the Athenians answered as follows: "Neither are webeginning war, Peloponnesians, nor are we breaking the treaty; butthese Corcyraeans are our allies, and we are come to help them. Soif you want to sail anywhereelse, we place no obstacle in your way;but if you are going to sail against Corcyra, or any of herpossessions, we shall do our best to stop you."
Receiving this answer from the Athenians, the Corinthianscommenced preparations for their voyage home, and set up a trophyin Sybota, on the continent; while the Corcyraeans took up thewrecks and dead that had been carried out to them by the current,and by a wind which rose in the night and scattered them in alldirections, and set up their trophy in Sybota, on the island, asvictors. The reasons each side had for claiming the victory werethese. The Corinthians had been victorious in the sea-fight untilnight; and havingthus been enabled to carry off most wrecks anddead, they were in possession of no fewer than a thousand prisonersof war, and had sunk close upon seventy vessels. The Corcyraeanshad destroyed about thirty ships, and after the arrival of theAthenians hadtaken up the wrecks and dead on their side; they hadbesides seen the Corinthians retire before them, backing water onsight of the Athenian vessels, and upon the arrival of theAthenians refuse to sail out against them from Sybota. Thus bothsides claimed the victory.
The Corinthians on the voyage home took Anactorium, which standsat the mouth of the Ambracian gulf. The place was taken bytreachery, being common ground to the Corcyraeans and Corinthians.After establishing Corinthian settlers there, theyretired home.Eight hundred of the Corcyraeans were slaves; these they sold; twohundred and fifty they retained in captivity, and treated withgreat attention, in the hope that they might bring over theircountry to Corinth on their return; most of thembeing, as ithappened, men of very high position in Corcyra. In this way Corcyramaintained her political existence in the war with Corinth, and theAthenian vessels left the island. This was the first cause of thewar that Corinth had against the Athenians, viz., that they hadfought against them with the Corcyraeans in time of treaty.
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