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History of The Peloponnesian War - Book IV   


Lacedaemonians made good their escape to the fort, and with the
garrison in it ranged themselves all along its whole extent to repulse
the enemy wherever it was assailable. The Athenians pursuing, unable
to surround and hem them in, owing to the strength of the ground,
attacked them in front and tried to storm the position. For a long
time, indeed for most of the day, both sides held out against all
the torments of the battle, thirst, and sun, the one endeavouring to
drive the enemy from the high ground, the other to maintain himself
upon it, it being now more easy for the Lacedaemonians to defend
themselves than before, as they could not be surrounded on the flanks.
The struggle began to seem endless, when the commander of the
Messenians came to Cleon and Demosthenes, and told them that they were
losing their labour: but if they would give him some archers and light
troops to go round on the enemy's rear by a way he would undertake
to find, he thought he could force the approach. Upon receiving what
he asked for, he started from a point out of sight in order not to
be seen by the enemy, and creeping on wherever the precipices of the
island permitted, and where the Lacedaemonians, trusting to the
strength of the ground, kept no guard, succeeded after the greatest
difficulty in getting round without their seeing him, and suddenly
appeared on the high ground in their rear, to the dismay of the
surprised enemy and the still greater joy of his expectant friends.
The Lacedaemonians thus placed between two fires, and in the same
dilemma, to compare small things with great, as at Thermopylae,
where the defenders were cut off through the Persians getting round by
the path, being now attacked in front and behind, began to give way,
and overcome by the odds against them and exhausted from want of food,
retreated.
The Athenians were already masters of the approaches when Cleon
and Demosthenes perceiving that, if the enemy gave way a single step
further, they would be destroyed by their soldiery, put a stop to
the battle and held their men back; wishing to take the Lacedaemonians
alive to Athens, and hoping that their stubbornness might relax on
hearing the offer of terms, and that they might surrender and yield to
the present overwhelming danger. Proclamation was accordingly made, to
know if they would surrender themselves and their arms to the
Athenians to be dealt at their discretion.
The Lacedaemonians hearing this offer, most of them lowered their
shields and waved their hands to show that they accepted it.
Hostilities now ceased, and a parley was held between Cleon and
Demosthenes and Styphon, son of Pharax, on the other side; since
Epitadas, the first of the previous commanders, had been killed, and
Hippagretas, the next in command, left for dead among the slain,
though still alive, and thus the command had devolved upon Styphon
according to the law, in case of anything happening to his
superiors. Styphon and his companions said they wished to send a
herald to the Lacedaemonians on the mainland, to know what they were
to do. The Athenians would not let any of them go, but themselves
called for heralds from the mainland, and after questions had been
carried backwards and forwards two or three times, the last man that
passed over from the Lacedaemonians on the continent brought this
message: "The Lacedaemonians bid you to decide for yourselves so
long as you do nothing dishonourable"; upon which after consulting
together they surrendered themselves and their arms. The Athenians,
after guarding them that day and night, the next morning set up a
trophy in the island, and got ready to sail, giving their prisoners in
batches to be guarded by the captains of the galleys; and the
Lacedaemonians sent a herald and took up their dead. The number of the
killed and prisoners taken in the island was as follows: four
hundred and twenty heavy infantry had passed over; three hundred all
but eight were taken alive to Athens; the rest were killed. About a
hundred and twenty of the prisoners were Spartans. The Athenian loss
was small, the battle not having been fought at close quarters.
The blockade in all, counting from the fight at sea to the battle in

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