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History of The Peloponnesian War - Book VIII   


however, went on with the business without faltering, and asked
Theramenes if he thought the wall had been constructed for any good
purpose, and whether it would not be better that it should be pulled
down. To this he answered that if they thought it best to pull it
down, he for his part agreed with them. Upon this the heavy infantry
and a number of the people in Piraeus immediately got up on the
fortification and began to demolish it. Now their cry to the multitude
was that all should join in the work who wished the Five Thousand to
govern instead of the Four Hundred. For instead of saying in so many
words "all who wished the commons to govern," they still disguised
themselves under the name of the Five Thousand; being afraid that
these might really exist, and that they might be speaking to one of
their number and get into trouble through ignorance. Indeed this was
why the Four Hundred neither wished the Five Thousand to exist, nor to
have it known that they did not exist; being of opinion that to give
themselves so many partners in empire would be downright democracy,
while the mystery in question would make the people afraid of one
another.
The next day the Four Hundred, although alarmed, nevertheless
assembled in the council chamber, while the heavy infantry in Piraeus,
after having released their prisoner Alexicles and pulled down the
fortification, went with their arms to the theatre of Dionysus,
close to Munychia, and there held an assembly in which they decided to
march into the city, and setting forth accordingly halted in the
Anaceum. Here they were joined by some delegates from the Four
Hundred, who reasoned with them one by one, and persuaded those whom
they saw to be the most moderate to remain quiet themselves, and to
keep in the rest; saying that they would make known the Five Thousand,
and have the Four Hundred chosen from them in rotation, as should be
decided by the Five Thousand, and meanwhile entreated them not to ruin
the state or drive it into the arms of the enemy. After a great many
had spoken and had been spoken to, the whole body of heavy infantry
became calmer than before, absorbed by their fears for the country
at large, and now agreed to hold upon an appointed day an assembly
in the theatre of Dionysus for the restoration of concord.
When the day came for the assembly in the theatre, and they were
upon the point of assembling, news arrived that the forty-two ships
under Agesandridas were sailing from Megara along the coast of
Salamis. The people to a man now thought that it was just what
Theramenes and his party had so often said, that the ships were
sailing to the fortification, and concluded that they had done well to
demolish it. But though it may possibly have been by appointment
that Agesandridas hovered about Epidaurus and the neighbourhood, he
would also naturally be kept there by the hope of an opportunity
arising out of the troubles in the town. In any case the Athenians, on
receipt of the news immediately ran down in mass to Piraeus, seeing
themselves threatened by the enemy with a worse war than their war
among themselves, not at a distance, but close to the harbour of
Athens. Some went on board the ships already afloat, while others
launched fresh vessels, or ran to defend the walls and the mouth of
the harbour.
Meanwhile the Peloponnesian vessels sailed by, and rounding Sunium
anchored between Thoricus and Prasiae, and afterwards arrived at
Oropus. The Athenians, with revolution in the city, and unwilling to
lose a moment in going to the relief of their most important
possession (for Euboea was everything to them now that they were
shut out from Attica), were compelled to put to sea in haste and
with untrained crews, and sent Thymochares with some vessels to
Eretria. These upon their arrival, with the ships already in Euboea,
made up a total of thirty-six vessels, and were immediately forced
to engage. For Agesandridas, after his crews had dined, put out from
Oropus, which is about seven miles from Eretria by sea; and the
Athenians, seeing him sailing up, immediately began to man their
vessels. The sailors, however, instead of being by their ships, as

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