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History of The Peloponnesian War - Book II   



Yet this too was now built over in the necessity of the moment. And in
my opinion, if the oracle proved true, it was in the opposite sense to
what was expected. For the misfortunes of the state did not arise from
the unlawful occupation, but the necessity of the occupation from
the war; and though the god did not mention this, he foresaw that it
would be an evil day for Athens in which the plot came to be
inhabited. Many also took up their quarters in the towers of the walls
or wherever else they could. For when they were all come in, the
city proved too small to hold them; though afterwards they divided the
Long Walls and a great part of Piraeus into lots and settled there.
All this while great attention was being given to the war; the
allies were being mustered, and an armament of a hundred ships
equipped for Peloponnese. Such was the state of preparation at Athens.
Meanwhile the army of the Peloponnesians was advancing. The first
town they came to in Attica was Oenoe, where they to enter the
country. Sitting down before it, they prepared to assault the wall
with engines and otherwise. Oenoe, standing upon the Athenian and
Boeotian border, was of course a walled town, and was used as a
fortress by the Athenians in time of war. So the Peloponnesians
prepared for their assault, and wasted some valuable time before the
place. This delay brought the gravest censure upon Archidamus. Even
during the levying of the war he had credit for weakness and
Athenian sympathies by the half measures he had advocated; and after
the army had assembled he had further injured himself in public
estimation by his loitering at the Isthmus and the slowness with which
the rest of the march had been conducted. But all this was as
nothing to the delay at Oenoe. During this interval the Athenians were
carrying in their property; and it was the belief of the
Peloponnesians that a quick advance would have found everything
still out, had it not been for his procrastination. Such was the
feeling of the army towards Archidamus during the siege. But he, it is
said, expected that the Athenians would shrink from letting their land
be wasted, and would make their submission while it was still
uninjured; and this was why he waited.
But after he had assaulted Oenoe, and every possible attempt to take
it had failed, as no herald came from Athens, he at last broke up
his camp and invaded Attica. This was about eighty days after the
Theban attempt upon Plataea, just in the middle of summer, when the
corn was ripe, and Archidamus, son of Zeuxis, king of Lacedaemon,
was in command. Encamping in Eleusis and the Thriasian plain, they
began their ravages, and putting to flight some Athenian horse at a
place called Rheiti, or the Brooks, they then advanced, keeping
Mount Aegaleus on their right, through Cropia, until they reached
Acharnae, the largest of the Athenian demes or townships. Sitting down
before it, they formed a camp there, and continued their ravages for a
long while.
The reason why Archidamus remained in order of battle at Acharnae
during this incursion, instead of descending into the plain, is said
to have been this. He hoped that the Athenians might possibly be
tempted by the multitude of their youth and the unprecedented
efficiency of their service to come out to battle and attempt to
stop the devastation of their lands. Accordingly, as they had met
him at Eleusis or the Thriasian plain, he tried if they could be
provoked to a sally by the spectacle of a camp at Acharnae. He thought
the place itself a good position for encamping; and it seemed likely
that such an important part of the state as the three thousand heavy
infantry of the Acharnians would refuse to submit to the ruin of their
property, and would force a battle on the rest of the citizens. On the
other hand, should the Athenians not take the field during this
incursion, he could then fearlessly ravage the plain in future
invasions, and extend his advance up to the very walls of Athens.
After the Acharnians had lost their own property they would be less
willing to risk themselves for that of their neighbours; and so

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