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History of The Peloponnesian War - Book IV   


simultaneously assaulted the fortification with their land forces
and with their ships, forty-three in number, under their admiral,
Thrasymelidas, son of Cratesicles, a Spartan, who made his attack just
where Demosthenes expected. The Athenians had thus to defend
themselves on both sides, from the land and from the sea; the enemy
rowing up in small detachments, the one relieving the other- it being
impossible for many to bring to at once- and showing great ardour and
cheering each other on, in the endeavour to force a passage and to
take the fortification. He who most distinguished himself was
Brasidas. Captain of a galley, and seeing that the captains and
steersmen, impressed by the difficulty of the position, hung back even
where a landing might have seemed possible, for fear of wrecking their
vessels, he shouted out to them, that they must never allow the
enemy to fortify himself in their country for the sake of saving
timber, but must shiver their vessels and force a landing; and bade
the allies, instead of hesitating in such a moment to sacrifice
their ships for Lacedaemon in return for her many benefits, to run
them boldly aground, land in one way or another, and make themselves
masters of the place and its garrison.
Not content with this exhortation, he forced his own steersman to
run his ship ashore, and stepping on to the gangway, was
endeavouring to land, when he was cut down by the Athenians, and after
receiving many wounds fainted away. Falling into the bows, his
shield slipped off his arm into the sea, and being thrown ashore was
picked up by the Athenians, and afterwards used for the trophy which
they set up for this attack. The rest also did their best, but were
not able to land, owing to the difficulty of the ground and the
unflinching tenacity of the Athenians. It was a strange reversal of
the order of things for Athenians to be fighting from the land, and
from Laconian land too, against Lacedaemonians coming from the sea;
while Lacedaemonians were trying to land from shipboard in their own
country, now become hostile, to attack Athenians, although the
former were chiefly famous at the time as an inland people and
superior by land, the latter as a maritime people with a navy that had
no equal.
After continuing their attacks during that day and most of the next,
the Peloponnesians desisted, and the day after sent some of their
ships to Asine for timber to make engines, hoping to take by their
aid, in spite of its height, the wall opposite the harbour, where
the landing was easiest. At this moment the Athenian fleet from
Zacynthus arrived, now numbering fifty sail, having been reinforced by
some of the ships on guard at Naupactus and by four Chian vessels.
Seeing the coast and the island both crowded with heavy infantry,
and the hostile ships in harbour showing no signs of sailing out, at a
loss where to anchor, they sailed for the moment to the desert
island of Prote, not far off, where they passed the night. The next
day they got under way in readiness to engage in the open sea if the
enemy chose to put out to meet them, being determined in the event
of his not doing so to sail in and attack him. The Lacedaemonians
did not put out to sea, and having omitted to close the inlets as they
had intended, remained quiet on shore, engaged in manning their
ships and getting ready, in the case of any one sailing in, to fight
in the harbour, which is a fairly large one.
Perceiving this, the Athenians advanced against them by each
inlet, and falling on the enemy's fleet, most of which was by this
time afloat and in line, at once put it to flight, and giving chase as
far as the short distance allowed, disabled a good many vessels and
took five, one with its crew on board; dashing in at the rest that had
taken refuge on shore, and battering some that were still being
manned, before they could put out, and lashing on to their own ships
and towing off empty others whosc crews had fled. At this sight the
Lacedaemonians, maddened by a disaster which cut off their men on
the island, rushed to the rescue, and going into the sea with their
heavy armour, laid hold of the ships and tried to drag them back, each

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