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History of The Peloponnesian War - Book II   


Paralian region as far as Laurium, where the Athenian silver mines
are, and first laid waste the side looking towards Peloponnese, next
that which faces Euboea and Andros. But Pericles, who was still
general, held the same opinion as in the former invasion, and would
not let the Athenians march out against them.
However, while they were still in the plain, and had not yet entered
the Paralian land, he had prepared an armament of a hundred ships
for Peloponnese, and when all was ready put out to sea. On board the
ships he took four thousand Athenian heavy infantry, and three hundred
cavalry in horse transports, and then for the first time made out of
old galleys; fifty Chian and Lesbian vessels also joining in the
expedition. When this Athenian armament put out to sea, they left
the Peloponnesians in Attica in the Paralian region. Arriving at
Epidaurus in Peloponnese they ravaged most of the territory, and
even had hopes of taking the town by an assault: in this however
they were not successful. Putting out from Epidaurus, they laid
waste the territory of Troezen, Halieis, and Hermione, all towns on
the coast of Peloponnese, and thence sailing to Prasiai, a maritime
town in Laconia, ravaged part of its territory, and took and sacked
the place itself; after which they returned home, but found the
Peloponnesians gone and no longer in Attica.
During the whole time that the Peloponnesians were in Attica and the
Athenians on the expedition in their ships, men kept dying of the
plague both in the armament and in Athens. Indeed it was actually
asserted that the departure of the Peloponnesians was hastened by fear
of the disorder; as they heard from deserters that it was in the city,
and also could see the burials going on. Yet in this invasion they
remained longer than in any other, and ravaged the whole country,
for they were about forty days in Attica.
The same summer Hagnon, son of Nicias, and Cleopompus, son of
Clinias, the colleagues of Pericles, took the armament of which he had
lately made use, and went off upon an expedition against the
Chalcidians in the direction of Thrace and Potidaea, which was still
under siege. As soon as they arrived, they brought up their engines
against Potidaea and tried every means of taking it, but did not
succeed either in capturing the city or in doing anything else
worthy of their preparations. For the plague attacked them here
also, and committed such havoc as to cripple them completely, even the
previously healthy soldiers of the former expedition catching the
infection from Hagnon's troops; while Phormio and the sixteen
hundred men whom he commanded only escaped by being no longer in the
neighbourhood of the Chalcidians. The end of it was that Hagnon
returned with his ships to Athens, having lost one thousand and
fifty out of four thousand heavy infantry in about forty days;
though the soldiers stationed there before remained in the country and
carried on the siege of Potidaea.
After the second invasion of the Peloponnesians a change came over
the spirit of the Athenians. Their land had now been twice laid waste;
and war and pestilence at once pressed heavy upon them. They began
to find fault with Pericles, as the author of the war and the cause of
all their misfortunes, and became eager to come to terms with
Lacedaemon, and actually sent ambassadors thither, who did not however
succeed in their mission. Their despair was now complete and all
vented itself upon Pericles. When he saw them exasperated at the
present turn of affairs and acting exactly as he had anticipated, he
called an assembly, being (it must be remembered) still general,
with the double object of restoring confidence and of leading them
from these angry feelings to a calmer and more hopeful state of
mind. He accordingly came forward and spoke as follows:
"I was not unprepared for the indignation of which I have been the
object, as I know its causes; and I have called an assembly for the
purpose of reminding you upon certain points, and of protesting
against your being unreasonably irritated with me, or cowed by your
sufferings. I am of opinion that national greatness is more for the

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