Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Works by Thucydides
Pages of History of The Peloponnesian War - Book II

Previous | Next

History of The Peloponnesian War - Book II   

truce. The Peloponnesians also set up a trophy as victors for the
defeat inflicted upon the ships they had disabled in shore, and
dedicated the vessel which they had taken at Achaean Rhium, side by
side with the trophy. After this, apprehensive of the reinforcement
expected from Athens, all except the Leucadians sailed into the
Crissaean Gulf for Corinth. Not long after their retreat, the twenty
Athenian ships, which were to have joined Phormio before the battle,
arrived at Naupactus.
Thus the summer ended. Winter was now at hand; but dispersing the
fleet, which had retired to Corinth and the Crissaean Gulf, Cnemus,
Brasidas, and the other Peloponnesian captains allowed themselves to
be persuaded by the Megarians to make an attempt upon Piraeus, the
port of Athens, which from her decided superiority at sea had been
naturally left unguarded and open. Their plan was as follows: The
men were each to take their oar, cushion, and rowlock thong, and,
going overland from Corinth to the sea on the Athenian side, to get to
Megara as quickly as they could, and launching forty vessels, which
happened to be in the docks at Nisaea, to sail at once to Piraeus.
There was no fleet on the look-out in the harbour, and no one had
the least idea of the enemy attempting a surprise; while an open
attack would, it was thought, never be deliberately ventured on, or,
if in contemplation, would be speedily known at Athens. Their plan
formed, the next step was to put it in execution. Arriving by night
and launching the vessels from Nisaea, they sailed, not to Piraeus
as they had originally intended, being afraid of the risk, besides
which there was some talk of a wind having stopped them, but to the
point of Salamis that looks towards Megara; where there was a fort and
a squadron of three ships to prevent anything sailing in or out of
Megara. This fort they assaulted, and towed off the galleys empty, and
surprising the inhabitants began to lay waste the rest of the island.
Meanwhile fire signals were raised to alarm Athens, and a panic
ensued there as serious as any that occurred during the war. The
idea in the city was that the enemy had already sailed into Piraeus:
in Piraeus it was thought that they had taken Salamis and might at any
moment arrive in the port; as indeed might easily have been done if
their hearts had been a little firmer: certainly no wind would have
prevented them. As soon as day broke, the Athenians assembled in
full force, launched their ships, and embarking in haste and uproar
went with the fleet to Salamis, while their soldiery mounted guard
in Piraeus. The Peloponnesians, on becoming aware of the coming
relief, after they had overrun most of Salamis, hastily sailed off
with their plunder and captives and the three ships from Fort
Budorum to Nisaea; the state of their ships also causing them some
anxiety, as it was a long while since they had been launched, and they
were not water-tight. Arrived at Megara, they returned back on foot to
Corinth. The Athenians finding them no longer at Salamis, sailed
back themselves; and after this made arrangements for guarding Piraeus
more diligently in future, by closing the harbours, and by other
suitable precautions.
About the same time, at the beginning of this winter, Sitalces,
son of Teres, the Odrysian king of Thrace, made an expedition
against Perdiccas, son of Alexander, king of Macedonia, and the
Chalcidians in the neighbourhood of Thrace; his object being to
enforce one promise and fulfil another. On the one hand Perdiccas
had made him a promise, when hard pressed at the commencement of the
war, upon condition that Sitalces should reconcile the Athenians to
him and not attempt to restore his brother and enemy, the pretender
Philip, but had not offered to fulfil his engagement; on the other he,
Sitalces, on entering into alliance with the Athenians, had agreed
to put an end to the Chalcidian war in Thrace. These were the two
objects of his invasion. With him he brought Amyntas, the son of
Philip, whom he destined for the throne of Macedonia, and some
Athenian envoys then at his court on this business, and Hagnon as
general; for the Athenians were to join him against the Chalcidians

Previous | Next
Site Search