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History of The Peloponnesian War - Book IV   


hundred horse and a force of archers, and became more timid than
ever in military matters, finding themselves involved in a maritime
struggle, which their organization had never contemplated, and that
against Athenians, with whom an enterprise unattempted was always
looked upon as a success sacrificed. Besides this, their late numerous
reverses of fortune, coming close one upon another without any reason,
had thoroughly unnerved them, and they were always afraid of a
second disaster like that on the island, and thus scarcely dared to
take the field, but fancied that they could not stir without a
blunder, for being new to the experience of adversity they had lost
all confidence in themselves.
Accordingly they now allowed the Athenians to ravage their seaboard,
without making any movement, the garrisons in whose neighbourhood
the descents were made always thinking their numbers insufficient, and
sharing the general feeling. A single garrison which ventured to
resist, near Cotyrta and Aphrodisia, struck terror by its charge
into the scattered mob of light troops, but retreated, upon being
received by the heavy infantry, with the loss of a few men and some
arms, for which the Athenians set up a trophy, and then sailed off
to Cythera. From thence they sailed round to Epidaurus Limera, ravaged
part of the country, and so came to Thyrea in the Cynurian
territory, upon the Argive and Laconian border. This district had been
given by its Lacedaemonian owners to the expelled Aeginetans to
inhabit, in return for their good offices at the time of the
earthquake and the rising of the Helots; and also because, although
subjects of Athens, they had always sided with Lacedaemon.
While the Athenians were still at sea, the Aeginetans evacuated a
fort which they were building upon the coast, and retreated into the
upper town where they lived, rather more than a mile from the sea. One
of the Lacedaemonian district garrisons which was helping them in
the work, refused to enter here with them at their entreaty,
thinking it dangerous to shut themselves up within the wall, and
retiring to the high ground remained quiet, not considering themselves
a match for the enemy. Meanwhile the Athenians landed, and instantly
advanced with all their forces and took Thyrea. The town they burnt,
pillaging what was in it; the Aeginetans who were not slain in
action they took with them to Athens, with Tantalus, son of Patrocles,
their Lacedaemonian commander, who had been wounded and taken
prisoner. They also took with them a few men from Cythera whom they
thought it safest to remove. These the Athenians determined to lodge
in the islands: the rest of the Cytherians were to retain their
lands and pay four talents tribute; the Aeginetans captured to be
all put to death, on account of the old inveterate feud; and
Tantalus to share the imprisonment of the Lacedaemonians taken on
the island.
The same summer, the inhabitants of Camarina and Gela in Sicily
first made an armistice with each other, after which embassies from
all the other Sicilian cities assembled at Gela to try to bring
about a pacification. After many expressions of opinion on one side
and the other, according to the griefs and pretensions of the
different parties complaining, Hermocrates, son of Hermon, a
Syracusan, the most influential man among them, addressed the
following words to the assembly:
"If I now address you, Sicilians, it is not because my city is the
least in Sicily or the greatest sufferer by the war, but in order to
state publicly what appears to me to be the best policy for the
whole island. That war is an evil is a proposition so familiar to
every one that it would be tedious to develop it. No one is forced
to engage in it by ignorance, or kept out of it by fear, if he fancies
there is anything to be gained by it. To the former the gain appears
greater than the danger, while the latter would rather stand the
risk than put up with any immediate sacrifice. But if both should
happen to have chosen the wrong moment for acting in this way,
advice to make peace would not be unserviceable; and this, if we did

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