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History of The Peloponnesian War - Book II   


their assailants. But the men shouted and charged them, the women
and slaves screamed and yelled from the houses and pelted them with
stones and tiles; besides, it had been raining hard all night; and
so at last their courage gave way, and they turned and fled through
the town. Most of the fugitives were quite ignorant of the right
ways out, and this, with the mud, and the darkness caused by the
moon being in her last quarter, and the fact that their pursuers
knew their way about and could easily stop their escape, proved
fatal to many. The only gate open was the one by which they had
entered, and this was shut by one of the Plataeans driving the spike
of a javelin into the bar instead of the bolt; so that even here there
was no longer any means of exit. They were now chased all over the
town. Some got on the wall and threw themselves over, in most cases
with a fatal result. One party managed to find a deserted gate, and
obtaining an axe from a woman, cut through the bar; but as they were
soon observed only a few succeeded in getting out. Others were cut off
in detail in different parts of the city. The most numerous and
compact body rushed into a large building next to the city wall: the
doors on the side of the street happened to be open, and the Thebans
fancied that they were the gates of the town, and that there was a
passage right through to the outside. The Plataeans, seeing their
enemies in a trap, now consulted whether they should set fire to the
building and burn them just as they were, or whether there was
anything else that they could do with them; until at length these
and the rest of the Theban survivors found wandering about the town
agreed to an unconditional surrender of themselves and their arms to
the Plataeans.
While such was the fate of the party in Plataea, the rest of the
Thebans who were to have joined them with all their forces before
daybreak, in case of anything miscarrying with the body that had
entered, received the news of the affair on the road, and pressed
forward to their succour. Now Plataea is nearly eight miles from
Thebes, and their march delayed by the rain that had fallen in the
night, for the river Asopus had risen and was not easy of passage; and
so, having to march in the rain, and being hindered in crossing the
river, they arrived too late, and found the whole party either slain
or captive. When they learned what had happened, they at once formed a
design against the Plataeans outside the city. As the attack had
been made in time of peace, and was perfectly unexpected, there were
of course men and stock in the fields; and the Thebans wished if
possible to have some prisoners to exchange against their countrymen
in the town, should any chance to have been taken alive. Such was
their plan. But the Plataeans suspected their intention almost
before it was formed, and becoming alarmed for their fellow citizens
outside the town, sent a herald to the Thebans, reproaching them for
their unscrupulous attempt to seize their city in time of peace, and
warning them against any outrage on those outside. Should the
warning be disregarded, they threatened to put to death the men they
had in their hands, but added that, on the Thebans retiring from their
territory, they would surrender the prisoners to their friends. This
is the Theban account of the matter, and they say that they had an
oath given them. The Plataeans, on the other hand, do not admit any
promise of an immediate surrender, but make it contingent upon
subsequent negotiation: the oath they deny altogether. Be this as it
may, upon the Thebans retiring from their territory without committing
any injury, the Plataeans hastily got in whatever they had in the
country and immediately put the men to death. The prisoners were a
hundred and eighty in number; Eurymachus, the person with whom the
traitors had negotiated, being one.
This done, the Plataeans sent a messenger to Athens, gave back the
dead to the Thebans under a truce, and arranged things in the city
as seemed best to meet the present emergency. The Athenians meanwhile,
having had word of the affair sent them immediately after its
occurrence, had instantly seized all the Boeotians in Attica, and sent

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