History of The Peloponnesian War - Book IV
man thinking that success depended on his individual exertions.
Great was the melee, and quite in contradiction to the naval tactics
usual to the two combatants; the Lacedaemonians in their excitement
and dismay being actually engaged in a sea-fight on land, while the
victorious Athenians, in their eagerness to push their success as
far as possible, were carrying on a land-fight from their ships. After
great exertions and numerous wounds on both sides they separated,
the Lacedaemonians saving their empty ships, except those first taken;
and both parties returning to their camp, the Athenians set up a
trophy, gave back the dead, secured the wrecks, and at once began to
cruise round and jealously watch the island, with its intercepted
garrison, while the Peloponnesians on the mainland, whose
contingents had now all come up, stayed where they were before Pylos.
When the news of what had happened at Pylos reached Sparta, the
disaster was thought so serious that the Lacedaemonians resolved
that the authorities should go down to the camp, and decide on the
spot what was best to be done. There, seeing that it was impossible to
help their men, and not wishing to risk their being reduced by
hunger or overpowered by numbers, they determined, with the consent of
the Athenian generals, to conclude an armistice at Pylos and send
envoys to Athens to obtain a convention, and to endeavour to get
back their men as quickly as possible.
The generals accepting their offers, an armistice was concluded upon
the terms following:
That the Lacedaemonians should bring to Pylos and deliver up to
the Athenians the ships that had fought in the late engagement, and
all in Laconia that were vessels of war, and should make no attack
on the fortification either by land or by sea.
That the Athenians should allow the Lacedaemonians on the mainland
to send to the men in the island a certain fixed quantity of corn
ready kneaded, that is to say, two quarts of barley meal, one pint
of wine, and a piece of meat for each man, and half the same
quantity for a servant.
That this allowance should be sent in under the eyes of the
Athenians, and that no boat should sail to the island except openly.
That the Athenians should continue to the island same as before,
without however landing upon it, and should refrain from attacking the
Peloponnesian troops either by land or by sea.
That if either party should infringe any of these terms in the
slightest particular, the armistice should be at once void.
That the armistice should hold good until the return of the
Lacedaemonian envoys from Athens- the Athenians sending them thither
in a galley and bringing them back again- and upon the arrival of the
envoys should be at an end, and the ships be restored by the Athenians
in the same state as they received them.
Such were the terms of the armistice, and the ships were delivered
over to the number of sixty, and the envoys sent off accordingly.
Arrived at Athens they spoke as follows:
"Athenians, the Lacedaemonians sent us to try to find some way of
settling the affair of our men on the island, that shall be at once
satisfactory to our interests, and as consistent with our dignity in
our misfortune as circumstances permit. We can venture to speak at
some length without any departure from the habit of our country. Men
of few words where many are not wanted, we can be less brief when
there is a matter of importance to be illustrated and an end to be
served by its illustration. Meanwhile we beg you to take what we may
say, not in a hostile spirit, nor as if we thought you ignorant and
wished to lecture you, but rather as a suggestion on the best course
to be taken, addressed to intelligent judges. You can now, if you
choose, employ your present success to advantage, so as to keep what
you have got and gain honour and reputation besides, and you can avoid
the mistake of those who meet with an extraordinary piece of good
fortune, and are led on by hope to grasp continually at something
further, through having already succeeded without expecting it.