Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Works by Thucydides
Pages of History of The Peloponnesian War - Book IV

Previous | Next

History of The Peloponnesian War - Book IV   

hearing from Brasidas, they were already in full force at Plataea,
when his messenger arrived to add spurs to their resolution; and
they at once sent on to him two thousand two hundred heavy infantry,
and six hundred horse, returning home with the main body. The whole
army thus assembled numbered six thousand heavy infantry. The Athenian
heavy infantry were drawn up by Nisaea and the sea; but the light
troops being scattered over the plain were attacked by the Boeotian
horse and driven to the sea, being taken entirely by surprise, as on
previous occasions no relief had ever come to the Megarians from any
quarter. Here the Boeotians were in their turn charged and engaged
by the Athenian horse, and a cavalry action ensued which lasted a long
time, and in which both parties claimed the victory. The Athenians
killed and stripped the leader of the Boeotian horse and some few of
his comrades who had charged right up to Nisaea, and remaining masters
of the bodies gave them back under truce, and set up a trophy; but
regarding the action as a whole the forces separated without either
side having gained a decisive advantage, the Boeotians returning to
their army and the Athenians to Nisaea.
After this Brasidas and the army came nearer to the sea and to
Megara, and taking up a convenient position, remained quiet in order
of battle, expecting to be attacked by the Athenians and knowing
that the Megarians were waiting to see which would be the victor. This
attitude seemed to present two advantages. Without taking the
offensive or willingly provoking the hazards of a battle, they
openly showed their readiness to fight, and thus without bearing the
burden of the day would fairly reap its honours; while at the same
time they effectually served their interests at Megara. For if they
had failed to show themselves they would not have had a chance, but
would have certainly been considered vanquished, and have lost the
town. As it was, the Athenians might possibly not be inclined to
accept their challenge, and their object would be attained without
fighting. And so it turned out. The Athenians formed outside the
long walls and, the enemy not attacking, there remained motionless;
their generals having decided that the risk was too unequal. In fact
most of their objects had been already attained; and they would have
to begin a battle against superior numbers, and if victorious could
only gain Megara, while a defeat would destroy the flower of their
heavy soldiery. For the enemy it was different; as even the states
actually represented in his army risked each only a part of its entire
force, he might well be more audacious. Accordingly, after waiting for
some time without either side attacking, the Athenians withdrew to
Nisaea, and the Peloponnesians after them to the point from which they
had set out. The friends of the Megarian exiles now threw aside
their hesitation, and opened the gates to Brasidas and the
commanders from the different states- looking upon him as the victor
and upon the Athenians as having declined the battle- and receiving
them into the town proceeded to discuss matters with them; the party
in correspondence with the Athenians being paralysed by the turn
things had taken.
Afterwards Brasidas let the allies go home, and himself went back to
Corinth, to prepare for his expedition to Thrace, his original
destination. The Athenians also returning home, the Megarians in the
city most implicated in the Athenian negotiation, knowing that they
had been detected, presently disappeared; while the rest conferred
with the friends of the exiles, and restored the party at Pegae, after
binding them under solemn oaths to take no vengeance for the past, and
only to consult the real interests of the town. However, as soon as
they were in office, they held a review of the heavy infantry, and
separating the battalions, picked out about a hundred of their
enemies, and of those who were thought to be most involved in the
correspondence with the Athenians, brought them before the people, and
compelling the vote to be given openly, had them condemned and
executed, and established a close oligarchy in the town- a revolution
which lasted a very long while, although effected by a very few

Previous | Next
Site Search