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though with more hesitation. They concerned the independence of Megara and Ægina, and, generally, the abdication by Athens of her position as head of the League. The Athenians declared that they would refrain from commencing hostilities, and would make just satisfaction for any infringement on their part of the thirty years' truce; but that they were ready to meet force with force.
B. C. 431.
160. WAR IN BOOTIA. While both parties hesitated to begin the war, the Thebans precipitated matters by a treacherous attack upon the city of Platæa. This city, instead of joining the Boeotian League, had been in friendly alliance with Athens, and was hence regarded with great jealousy by the Thebans. A small oligarchical party in Platæa favored the Thebans, and it was Naucli'des, the head of this party, who, at dead of night, admitted three hundred of them into the town. The Platæans were roused from sleep to find their enemies encamped in their market-place; but though scattered and betrayed, they did not yield. They secretly communicated with each other by breaking through the walls of their houses; and having thus formed a plan for defense, fell upon the enemy a little before daybreak.
The Thebans were exhausted by marching all night in the rain; they were entangled in the narrow, crooked streets of the town; and even women and children fought against them by hurling tiles from the roofs. The reinforcement which they expected was delayed, and before it arrived the three hundred were either slain or captured. The Thebans without the walls now seized whatever persons and property they could lay their hands on, as security for the release of the prisoners. The Platæans sent a herald to declare that the captives would be immediately put to death, unless the ravages should cease; but that, if the Thebans would retire, they should be given up. The marauders withdrew, but the Plateans, instead of keeping their word, gathered their movable property into the town, and then put all their prisoners to death. Fleet-footed messengers had already been sent to Athens with the news. They returned with orders to the Platæans to do nothing of importance without the advice of the Athenians. It was too late, however, to save the lives of the prisoners or the honor of their captors.
In the First Peloponnesian War (B. C. 460-457), Athens was allied with Megara; Sparta and Ægina, with Corinth. At the same time, the Athenians aided a revolt of Egypt against Persia, and built long walls to connect their city with its ports. Sparta, interfering in a war between Phocis and Doris, defeated the Athenians at Tanagra; but the latter gained a more decisive victory at Enophyta, which brought Phocis, Locris, and all Bœotia, except Thebes, into their alliance. Ægina was conquered and made tributary to Athens. Ithome surrendered to Sparta; the Helots were re-enslaved and the Messenians exiled. In a new war, occa
sioned by the interference of Sparta at Delphi, the Athenians, under Tolmides, gained some advantages, but were disastrously defeated at Coronæa, with great loss of influence in central Greece. Assailed at once by rebellions in Euboea and Megaris, and by a Spartan invasion, Pericles defeated the latter by bribes and the former by arms. The peace which followed was concluded on terms unfavorable to Athens. Being called to aid a popular revolution in Samos, the Athenians captured its chief city and re-established their own influence. Epidamnus, in war with her mother city, was aided by Corinth; while Athens, taking the part of Corcyra, defeated the Corinthians at Olynthus, and besieged them two years in Potidea. A more general war was hastened by the mutual treachery of the Thebans and Platæans.
B. C. 431-404.
THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR.
161. All Greece now prepared for war -a war of twenty-seven years, which was to be marked by more calamities and horrors than Hellas had ever yet endured. On the side of Sparta fought all Peloponnesus, except Argos and Achaia, together with Megara, Boeotia, Phocis, Opuntian Locris, Ambracia, Leucadia, and Anactoria. Athens had for allies, on the mainland, Thessaly and Acarnania, with the cities of Naupactus and Platea. There were also her tributaries on the coast of Thrace and Asia Minor, and on the Cyclades, beside her island allies, Chios, Lesbos, Corcyra, Zacynthus, and, later, Cephallenia. 162. Archidamus, king of Sparta, having collected his allies at the isthmus, marched into the Attic territory about the middle of June. The inhabitants quitted their fields, and with all the property they could remove, took refuge within Athens and the Piræus. Every corner and recess of the city walls became a dwelling. In the market-place, the public squares, and the precincts of the temples, temporary habitations arose, and the poorer sort found shelter in tents, huts, and even casks, placed against the Long Walls. Among this crowded population, violent debates arose concerning the conduct of the war. Great indignation was felt against Pericles for the inaction of the army, while Archidamus was ravaging the fields almost under their eyes.
B. C. 431.
But the leader had resolved to carry the war out of Attica. For this purpose a combined fleet of Athenians and Corcyræans sailed around the Peloponnesus, disembarking troops at various points to ravage the country. Two Corinthian settlements in Acarnania were captured, and the island of Cephallenia transferred its allegiance from Sparta to Athens. The Æginetans were expelled, and their island occupied by Athenian settlers. Archidamus, after five or six weeks, marched out of Attica and disbanded his army. The Athenians then put their forces in motion to punish the Megarians, whom they considered as revolted subjects. They laid waste the whole territory to the gates of the capital, and the devastations were renewed every year while the war continued.
B C. 430.
163. The next spring, with a new Spartan invasion, brought a still greater calamity to the Athenians. The plague, originating in Ethiopia, had traveled along the Asiatic coasts of the Mediterranean until it reached their city, where the crowded condition of the people made it spread with frightful rapidity. A terror seized the populace, some of whom believed that their enemies had poisoned the wells, while a greater number ascribed the pestilence to the wrath of Apollo, who was the especial protector of the Dorian race.
164. In their passion of despair the Athenians turned against Pericles, whose cautious policy they considered as the cause of their misfortunes. Though still refusing battle, which, with the reduced numbers and exhausted spirit of the army, would have been almost certain defeat, he actively pushed his operations against the Peloponnesus. To relieve the crowded city of its mischievous elements, he fitted out a fleet and led it in person to ravage the enemy's coasts. On his return he found the opposition stronger than ever, and an embassy had even been sent to Sparta to sue for peace. The suit had been contemptuously rejected, and the rage of the Athenians was only increased. Pericles persuaded them to persevere in the war, but his eloquence was unavailing to silence the fury of his personal enemies. By the influence of Cleon, his chief opponent, he was even accused of embezzling the public funds, and was fined to a large amount.
B. C. 429.
165. But the life and adversities of the great statesman were alike near their end. The plague had robbed him of his nearest relatives. A lingering fever, following an attack of the pestilence, terminated his life. As he lay, seemingly unconscious, the friends surrounding his death-bed were rehearsing his great deeds, when the dying man interrupted them, saying, "All that you are praising was either the result of good fortune, or, in any case, common to me with many other leaders. What I chiefly pride myself upon is, that no Athenian has ever mourned on my account."
B. C. 430.
166. The second Lacedæmonian foray was more destructive than the first, for the ravages extended over all Attica, even to the silver mines of Laurium. The fleet of the Peloponnesians destroyed the fisheries and commerce of Athens, and devastated the island of Zacynthus. During the following winter Potidæa surrendered, after a blockade of two years, and was occupied by a thousand Athenian colonists.
B. C. 429.
The third campaign of the Spartans was directed against Platæa. On the approach of Archidamus, the Platæans sent a solemn remonstrance, reminding him of the oath which Pausanias had sworn on the evening of their great battle, making Platea forever sacred from invasion. The king replied that the Plateans, too, were bound by
oath to labor for the independence of every Grecian state. He reminded them of their heinous crime in the slaughter of the Theban prisoners, but promised that, if they would abandon the cause of Athens and remain neutral during the war, their privileges should be respected. The Platæans refused to forsake their ancient ally, and the siege of their city began.
B. C. 429-427.
167. The garrison which thus defied the whole Peloponnesian army, consisted of only 480 men, but they made up in energy what they lacked in numbers. Archidamus began by shutting up every outlet of the town with a palisade of wood, then erected against this a mound of earth and stone, forming an inclined plane, up which his troops could march. The Platæans undermined the mound, which fell in, and thus defeated seventy days' work of the whole besieging army. They also built a new wall within the old one, so that, if this were taken, the Spartans would still be no nearer the possession of the city,
Seeing that the will of the Platæans could only be subdued by famine, the allies now turned the siege into a blockade. They surrounded the city with a double wall, and roofed the intervening space, so as to afford shelter to the soldiers on duty. The Plateans thus endured a complete separation from the outer world for two years. Provisions began to fail; and, in the second year, nearly half the garrison made their escape, by climbing over the barracks and fortifications of their besiegers in the rain and darkness of a December night. The Platæans, though thus reduced in numbers, came at length to absolute starvation. A herald now appeared from the Spartan commander, requiring their submission, but promising that only the guilty should be punished. They yielded. When brought before the five Spartan judges, every man was found guilty and led to execution. The town and territory of Platea were made over to the Thebans, who destroyed all private dwellings, and with the materials erected a huge barrack, to afford shelter to visitors, and dwellings to the serfs who cultivated the land. The city of Platea was blotted out from the map of Greece.
168. The Athenians, with their ally Sital'ces, a Thracian chief, were warring in the north with little success. Sitalces, with an irregular but powerful host of 150,000 Thracians, invaded Macedonia with the intention of dethroning Perdiccas. The Macedonians, unable to meet him in the open field, withdrew into their fortresses, and Sitalces, who had no means for conducting sieges, retired after thirty days. Phormio, an Athenian captain, gained two victories, meanwhile, in the Corinthian Gulf, over a vastly superior number of Spartans. In the first engagement he had but twenty ships, to the Spartan forty-seven; in the second, without reinforcements, he met a fresh Spartan fleet of seventyseven sail.
B. C. 429.
B. C. 428.
The fourth year of the war was marked by the revolt of Mytilene, capital of Lesbos. Envoys were sent to Sparta to implore assistance, which was willingly granted, and the Mytilenians were received into the Peloponnesian League.
169. In the spring of 427, the Spartan fleet advanced to Mytilene, but it arrived only to find the town in the possession of the Athenians. Nearly reduced by famine, the governor, by the advice of a Spartan envoy, had armed all the men of the lower classes for a last desperate sortie. The result was contrary to his expectations. The mass of the Mytilenian people preferred the Athenian supremacy to that of their own oligarchic government. Emboldened by their arms, they declared that they would treat directly with the Athenians, unless all their demands were granted. The governor had no choice but to open negotiations himself. The city was surrendered, and the fate of its inhabitants was left to be decided by the popular assembly in Athens, whither the ring-leaders of the revolt
170. A thousand Athenians assembled in the Agora to decide the fate of their prisoners. Sala'thus, the Spartan envoy, was instantly put to death. With regard to the rest, a spirited debate ensued. Cleon the tanner, the former opponent of Pericles, took a prominent part; and in spite of more humane and moderate counsels, actually succeeded in carrying his brutal proposition, to put to the sword all the men of Mytilene, and sell the women and children into slavery. Iniquitous as such an order would be in any case, it was the more so in this, because the greater number of the Mytilenians were friendly to Athens, while the revolt had been the act of the oligarchy, who were enemies of the people. So strong had been the opposition, that Cleon feared a reversal of the sentence, and therefore had a galley instantly dispatched to Lesbos, with orders for its immediate execution.
His apprehensions were well founded. A single night's reflection filled the better sort of Athenians with horror at the inhuman decision into which they had been hurried. They demanded a new assembly to reconsider the question; and though this was contrary to law, the strategi consented and convened the citizens. In the second day's debate the atrocious decree was rescinded. Every nerve was now strained to enable the mercy-bearing barque to overtake the messengers of death, who were a whole day's journey in advance. The strongest oarsmen were selected, and urged to their greatest exertion by the promise of large rewards if they should arrive in time. Their food was given them while they plied the oar, and sleep was allowed them only in short intervals, and by turns. The weather proved favorable, and they arrived just as Paches, who had received the first dispatch, was preparing for its execution. The Mytilenians were saved, but the walls of their city were leveled,