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History of The Peloponnesian War - Book II   


from the severity of the season, he listened to the advice of Seuthes,
son of Spardacus, his nephew and highest officer, and decided to
retreat without delay. This Seuthes had been secretly gained by
Perdiccas by the promise of his sister in marriage with a rich
dowry. In accordance with this advice, and after a stay of thirty days
in all, eight of which were spent in Chalcidice, he retired home as
quickly as he could; and Perdiccas afterwards gave his sister
Stratonice to Seuthes as he had promised. Such was the history of
the expedition of Sitalces.
In the course of this winter, after the dispersion of the
Peloponnesian fleet, the Athenians in Naupactus, under Phormio,
coasted along to Astacus and disembarked, and marched into the
interior of Acarnania with four hundred Athenian heavy infantry and
four hundred Messenians. After expelling some suspected persons from
Stratus, Coronta, and other places, and restoring Cynes, son of
Theolytus, to Coronta, they returned to their ships, deciding that
it was impossible in the winter season to march against Oeniadae, a
place which, unlike the rest of Acarnania, had been always hostile
to them; for the river Achelous flowing from Mount Pindus through
Dolopia and the country of the Agraeans and Amphilochians and the
plain of Acarnania, past the town of Stratus in the upper part of
its course, forms lakes where it falls into the sea round Oeniadae,
and thus makes it impracticable for an army in winter by reason of the
water. Opposite to Oeniadae lie most of the islands called
Echinades, so close to the mouths of the Achelous that that powerful
stream is constantly forming deposits against them, and has already
joined some of the islands to the continent, and seems likely in no
long while to do the same with the rest. For the current is strong,
deep, and turbid, and the islands are so thick together that they
serve to imprison the alluvial deposit and prevent its dispersing,
lying, as they do, not in one line, but irregularly, so as to leave no
direct passage for the water into the open sea. The islands in
question are uninhabited and of no great size. There is also a story
that Alcmaeon, son of Amphiraus, during his wanderings after the
murder of his mother was bidden by Apollo to inhabit this spot,
through an oracle which intimated that he would have no release from
his terrors until he should find a country to dwell in which had not
been seen by the sun, or existed as land at the time he slew his
mother; all else being to him polluted ground. Perplexed at this,
the story goes on to say, he at last observed this deposit of the
Achelous, and considered that a place sufficient to support life upon,
might have been thrown up during the long interval that had elapsed
since the death of his mother and the beginning of his wanderings.
Settling, therefore, in the district round Oeniadae, he founded a
dominion, and left the country its name from his son Acarnan. Such
is the story we have received concerning Alcmaeon.
The Athenians and Phormio putting back from Acarnania and arriving
at Naupactus, sailed home to Athens in the spring, taking with them
the ships that they had captured, and such of the prisoners made in
the late actions as were freemen; who were exchanged, man for man. And
so ended this winter, and the third year of this war, of which
Thucydides was the historian.

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