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About the same time as the troubles of Corcyra occurred, Nicias the Athenian general conducted an armament against the rocky island of Minoa, which lay at the mouth of the harbor of Megara, and was occupied by a Megarian fort and garrison. The narrow channel, which separated it from the Megarian port of Nisaea and formed the entrance of the harbor, was defended by two towers projecting out from Nisaea, which Nicias attacked and destroyed by means of battering machines from his ships. He thus cut off Minoa from communication on that side with the Megarians, and fortified it 011 the other side, where it communicated with the mainland by a lagoon bridged over with a causeway. Minoa, thus becoming thoroughly insulated, was more completely fortified and made an Athenian possession; since it was eminently convenient to keep up an effective blockade against the Megarian harbor, which the Athenians had hitherto done only from the opposite shore of Salamis.

Though Nicias, son of Nikeratus, had been for some time conspicuous in public life, and is said to have been more than once Strategus along with Perikles, this is the first occasion on which Thucydides introduces him to our notice. He was now one of the Strategi or generals of the commonwealth, and appears to have enjoyed on the whole, a greater and more constant personal esteem than any citizen of Athens, from the present time down to his death. In wealth and in family, he ranked among the first class of Athenians; in political character, Aristotle placed him, together with Thucydides son of Melesias and Theramenes, above all other names in Athenian history—seemingly even above Perikles. Such a criticism, from Aristotle, deserves respectful attention, though the facts before us completely belie so lofty an estimate. It marks, however, the position occupied by Nicias in Athenian politics, as the principal person of what may be called the oligarchical party, succeeding Cimon and Thucydides, and preceding Theramenes. In looking to the conditions under which this party continued to subsist, we shall see that during the interval between Thucydides (son of Melesias) and Nicias, the democratical forms had acquired such confirmed ascendency that it would not have suited the purpose of any politician to betray evidence of positive hostility to them, prior to the Silician expedition and the great embarrassment in the foreign relations of Athens which arose out of that disaster. After that change, the Athenian oligarchs became emboldened and aggressive, so that we shall find Theramenes among the chief conspirators in the revolution of the Four Hundred. But Nicias represents the oligarchical party in its previous state of quiescence and torpidity, accommodating itself to a sovereign democracy, and existing in the form of common sentiment rather than of common purposes. And it is a remarkable illustration of the real temper of the Athenian people, that a man of this character, known as an oligarch but not feared as such, and doing his duty sincerely to the democracy, should have remained until his death the most esteemed and influential man in the city. Nicias was a man of even mediocrity, in intellect, in education, and in oratory: forward in his military duties, and not only personally courageous in the field, but hitherto found competent as a general under ordinary circumstances: assiduous, too, in the discharge of all political duties at home, especially in the post of Strategus or one of the ten generals of the state, to which he was frequently chosen and rechosen. Of the many valuable qualities combined in his predecessor Perikles, the recollection of whom was yet fresh in the Athenian mind, Nicias possessed two, on which, most of all, his influence rested—though, properly speaking, that influence belongs to the sum total of his character, and not to any special attributes in it. First, he was thoroughly incorruptible as to pecuniary gains—a quality so rare in Grecian public men of all the cities, that when a man once became notorious for possessing it, he acquired a greater degree of trust than any superiority of intellect could have bestowed upon him: next, he adopted the Periclean view as to the necessity of a conservative or stationary foreign policy for Athens, avoiding new acquisitions at a distance, adventurous risks, or provocation to fresh enemies. With this important point of analogy there were at the same time material differences between them even in regard to foreign policy. Perikles was a conservative, resolute against submitting loss or abstraction of empire, but at the same time refraining from aggrandizement. Nicias was in policy faint-hearted, averse to energetic effort for any purpose whatever, and disposed not only to maintain peace, but even to purchase it by considerable sacrifices. Nevertheless, he was the leading champion of the conservative party of his day, always powerful at Athens: and as he was constantly familiar with the details and actual course of public affairs, capable of giving full effect to the cautious and prudential point of view, and enjoying unqualified credit for honest purposes—his value as a permanent counsellor was steadily recognized, even though in particular cases his counsel might not be followed.

Besides these two main points, which Nicias had in common with Perikles, he was perfect in the use of minor and collateral modes of standing well with the people, which that great man had taken but little pains to practice. While Pericles attached himself to Aspasia, whose splendid qualities did not redeem, in the eyes of the public, either her foreign origin or her unchastity, the domestic habits of Nicias appear to have been strictly conformable to the rules of Athenian decorum. Pericles was surrounded by philosophers, Nicias by prophets—whose advice was necessary both as a consolation to his temperament and as a guide to his intelligence under difficulties. One of them was constantly in his service and confidence, and his conduct appears to have been sensibly affected by the difference of character between one prophet and another, just as the government of Louis XIV and other Catholic princes has been modified by the change of confessors. To a life thus rigidly decorous and ultrareligious—both eminently acceptable to the Athenians—Nicias added the judicious employment of a large fortune with a view to popularity. Those liturgies (or expensive public duties undertaken by rich men, each in his turn, throughout other cities of Greece as well as in Athens) which fell to his lot were performed with such splendour, munificence, and good taste, as to procure for him universal encomiums; and so much above his predecessors as to be long remembered and extolled. Most of these liturgies were connected with the religious service of the state, so that Nicias, by his manner of performing them, displayed his zeal for the honour of the gods at the same time that he laid up for himself a store of popularity. Moreover, the remarkable caution and timidity—not before an enemy, but in reference to his own fellow-citizens—which marked his character, rendered him pre-eminently scrupulous as to giving offense or making personal enemies. While his demeanour toward the poorer citizens generally was equal and conciliating, the presents which he made were numerous, both to gain friends and to silence assailants. We are not surprised to hear that various bullies, whom the comic writers turn to scorn, made their profit out of this susceptibility. But most assuredly Nicias as a public man, though he might occasionally be cheated out of money, profited greatly by reputation thus acquired.

The expenses unavoidable in such a career, combined with strict personal honesty, could not have been defrayed except by another quality, which ought not to count as discreditable to Nicias, though in this, too, he stood distinguished from Perikles. He was a careful and diligent money-getter; a speculator in the silver mines of Laurium, and proprietor of one thousand slaves, whom he let out for work in them, receiving a fixed sum per head for each. The superintending slaves who managed the details of this business were men of great ability and high pecuniary value. Most of the wealth of Nicias was held in this form, and not in landed property. Judging by what remains to us of the comic authors, this must have been considered as a perfectly gentlemanlike way of making money: for while they abound with derision of the leather-dresser Cleon, the lamp-maker Hyperbolus, and the vegetable-selling mother to whom Euripides owes his birth, we hear nothing from them in disparagement of the slave-letter Nicias. The degree to which the latter was thus occupied with the care of his private fortune, together with the general moderation of his temper, made him often wish to abstract himself from public duty. But such unambitious reluctance, rare among the public men of the day, rather made the Athenians more anxious to put him forward and retain his services. In the eyes of the Pentakosiomedimni and the Hippeis, the two richest classes in Athens, he was one of themselves—and, on the whole, the best man, as being so little open to reproach or calumny, whom they could oppose to the leather-dressers and lamp-makers, who often out-talked them in the public assembly. The hoplites, who despised Kleon—and did not much regard even the brave, hardy, and soldierlike Lamachus, because he happened to be poor—respected in Nicias the union of wealth and family with honesty, courage, and carefulness in command. The maritime and trading multitude esteemed him as a decorous, honest, religious gentleman, who gave splendid choregies, treated the poorest men with consideration, and never turned the public service into a job for his own profit—who, moreover, if he possessed no commanding qualities, so as to give to his advice imperative and irresistible authority, was yet always worthy of being consulted, and a steady safeguard against public mischief. Before the fatal Sicilian expedition, he had never commanded on any very serious or difficult enterprise; but what he had done had been accomplished successfully; so that he enjoyed the reputation of a fortunate as well as a prudent commander. He appears to have acted as proxenus to the Lacedaemonians at Athens; probably by his own choice, and among several others.

The first half of the political life of Nicias—after the time when he rose to enjoy full consideration in Athens, being already of mature age—was in opposition to Cleon; the last half, in opposition to Alcibiades. To employ terms which are not suitable to the Athenian democracy, but which yet bring to view the difference intended to be noted better than any others, Nicias was a minister or ministerial man, often actually exercising, and always likely to exercise, official functions—Cleon was a man of the opposition, whose province it was to supervise and censure official men for their public conduct. We must divest these words of that accompaniment which they are understood to carry in English political life—a standing parliamentary majority in favor of one party: Cleon would often carry in the public assembly resolutions, which his opponents Nicias and others of like rank and position—who served in the posts of Strategus, ambassador, and other important offices designated by the general vote—were obliged against their will to execute. In attaining such offices they were assisted by the political clubs, or established conspiracies (to translate the original literally) among the leading Athenians to stand by each other both for acquisition of office and for mutual insurance under judicial trial. These clubs, or Hetaeries, must have played an important part in the practical working of Athenian politics, and it is much to be regretted that we are possessed of no details respecting them. We know that in Athens they were thoroughly oligarchical in disposition—while equality, or something near to it, in rank and position, must have been essential to the social harmony of the members. In some towns, it appears that such political associations existed under the form of gymnasia for the mutual exercise of the members, or of syssitia for joint banquets. At Athens they were numerous, and doubtless not habitually in friendship with each other; since the antipathies among different oligarchical men were exceedingly strong, and the union brought about between them at the time of the Four Hundred, arising only out of common desire to put down the democracy, lasted but a little while. But the designation of persons to serve in the capacity of Strategus and other principal offices greatly depended upon them—as well as the facility of passing through that trial of accountability to which every man was liable after his year of office. Nicias, and men generally of his rank and fortune, helped by these clubs and lending help in their turn, composed what may be called the ministers, or executive individual functionaries of Athens: the men who acted, gave orders as to specific acts, and saw to the execution of that which the senate and the public assembly resolved. Especially in regard to the military and naval force of the city, so large and so actively employed at this time, the powers of detail possessed by the Strategi must have been very great, and essential to the safety of the state.

While Nicias was thus in what may be called ministerial function, Kleon was not of sufficient importance to attain the same, but was confined to the inferior function of opposition. We shall see in the coming chapter how he became as it were promoted, partly by his own superior penetration, partly by the dishonest artifice and misjudgement of Nicias and other opponents, in the affair of Sphacteria. But his vocation was now to find fault, to censure, to denounce; his theatre of action was the senate, the public assembly, the dikasteries; his principal talent was that of speech, in which he must unquestionably have surpassed all his contemporaries. The two gifts which had been united in Pericles—superior capacity for speech, as well as for action—were now severed, and had fallen, though both in greatly inferior degree, the one to Nicias, the other to Cleon. As an opposition-man, fierce and violent in temper, Cleon was extremely formidable to all acting functionaries; and from his influence in the public assembly, he was doubtless the author of many important positive measures, thus going beyond the functions belonging to what is called opposition. But though the most effective speaker in the public assembly, he was not for that reason the most influential person in the democracy. His powers of speech in fact stood out the more prominently, because they were found apart from that station and those qualities which were considered, even at Athens, all but essential to make a man a leader in political life. To understand the political condition of Athens at this time, it has been necessary to take this comparison between Nicias and Cleon, and to remark, that though the latter might be a more victorious speaker, the former was the more guiding and influential leader. The points gained by Cleon were all noisy and palpable, sometimes, however, without doubt, of considerable moment—but the course of affairs was much more under the direction of Nicias.

It was during the summer of this year (the fifth of the war—B.C. 427) that the Athenians began operations on a small scale in Sicily; probably contrary to the advice both of Nicias and Kleon, neither of them seemingly favourable to these distant undertakings. I reserve, however, the series of Athenian measures in Sicily—which afterward became the turning-point of the fortunes of the state—for a department by themselves. I shall take them up separately, and bring them down to the Athenian expedition against Syracuse, when I reach the date of that important event. During the autumn of the same year, the epidemic disorder, after having intermitted for some time, resumed its ravages at Athens, and continued for one whole year longer, to the sad ruin both of the strength and the comfort of the city. And it seems that this autumn, as well as the ensuing summer, were distinguished by violent atmospheric and terrestrial disturbance. Numerous earthquakes were experienced at Athens, in Euboea, in Boeotia, especially near Orchomenus. Sudden waves of the sea and unexampled tides were also felt on the coast of Euboea and Locris, and the islands of Atalante and Peparethus: the Athenian fort and one of the two guardships at Atalante were partially destroyed. The earthquakes produced one effect favourable to Athens. They deterred the Lacedaemonians from invading Attica. Agis, king of Sparta, had already reached the isthmus for that purpose; but repeated earthquakes were looked upon as an unfavourable portent, and the scheme was abandoned. These earthquakes, however, were not considered sufficient to deter the Lacedaemonians from the foundation of Herakleia, a new colony near the strait of Thermopylae. On this occasion, we hear of a branch of the Greek population not before mentioned during the war. The coast north-west of the strait of Thermopylae was occupied by the three subdivisions of the Malians—Paralii, Hieres, and Trachinians. These latter, immediately adjoining Mount Oeta on its north side—as well as the Dorians (the little tribe properly so called, which was accounted the primitive hearth of the Dorians generally) who joined the same mountain range on the south—were both of them harassed and plundered by the predatory mountaineers, probably Aetolians, on the high lands between them. At first the Trachinians were disposed to throw themselves on the protection of Athens. But not feeling sufficiently assured as to the way in which she would deal with them, they joined with the Dorians in claiming aid from Sparta: in fact, it does not appear that Athens, possessing naval superiority only and being inferior on land, could have given them effective aid. The Lacedaemonians, eagerly embracing the opportunity, determined to plant a strong colony in this tempting situation. There was wood in the neighbouring regions for ship-building, so that they might hope to acquire a naval position for attacking the neighbouring island of Euboea, while the passage of troops against the subject-allies of Athens in Thrace would also be facilitated; the impracticability of such passage had forced them, three years before, to leave Potidaea to its fate. A considerable body of colonists, Spartans and Lacedaemonian Perioeki, was assembled under the conduct of three Spartan oekists—Leon, Damagon, and Alkidas; the latter (we are to presume, though Thucydides does not say so) the same admiral who had met with such little success in Ionia and at Corcyra. Proclamation was further made to invite the junction of all other Greeks as colonists, excepting by name Ionians, Achaeans, and some other tribes not here specified. Probably the distinct exclusion of the Achaeans must have been rather the continuance of ancient sentiment than dictated by any present reasons; since the Achaeans were not now pronounced enemies of Sparta. A number of colonists, stated as not less than 10,000, flocked to the place, having confidence in the stability of the colony under the powerful protection of Sparta. The new town, of large circuit, was built and fortified under the name of Herakleia; not far from the site of Trachis, about two miles and a quarter from the nearest point of the Maliac Gulf, and about double that distance from the strait of Thermopylae. Near to the latter, and for the purpose of keeping effective possession of it, a port with dock and accommodation for shipping was constructed.

A populous city, established under Lacedaemonian protection in this important post, alarmed the Athenians, and created much expectation in every part of Greece. But the Lacedaemonian oekists were harsh and unskilful in their management; while the Thessalonians, to whom the Trachinian territory was tributary, considered the colony as an encroachment upon their soil. Anxious to prevent its increase, they harassed it with hostilities from the first moment. The Oetaean assailants were also active enemies; so that Herakleia, thus pressed from without and misgoverned within, dwindled down from its orig­inal numbers and promise, barely maintaining its existence. We shall find it in later times, however, revived, and becoming a place of considerable importance.

The main Athenian armament of this summer, consisting of sixty triremes under Nicias, undertook an expedition against the island of Melos. Melos and Thera, both inhabited by ancient colonists from Lacedaemon, had never been from the beginning, and still refused to be, members of the Athenian alliance or subjects of the Athenian empire. They thus stood out as exceptions to all the other islands in the Aegean, and the Athenians thought themselves authorized to resort to constraint and conquest; believing themselves entitled to command over all the islands. They might indeed urge, and with considerable plausibility, that the Melians now enjoyed their share of the protection of the Aegean from piracy, without contributing to the cost of it: but considering the obstinate reluctance and strong philo-Laconian prepossessions of the Melians, who had taken no part in the war and given no ground of offense to Athens, the attempt to conquer them by force could hardly be justified even as a calculation of gain and loss, and was a mere gratification to the pride of power in carrying out what, in modern days, we should call the principle of maritime empire. Melos and Thera formed awkward corners, which defaced the symmetry of a great proprietor’s field; and the former ultimately entailed upon Athens the heaviest of all losses—a deed of blood which deeply dishonoured her annals. On this occasion, Nicias visited the island with his fleet, and after vainly summoning the inhabitants, ravaged the lands, but retired without undertaking a siege. He then sailed away, and came to Oropus, on the north-east frontier of Attica bordering on Boeotia. The hoplites on board his ships, landing in the night, marched into the interior of Boeotia to the vicinity of Tanagra. They were here met, according to signal raised, by a military force from Athens which marched thither by land; and the joint Athenian army ravaged the Tanagraean territory, gaining an insignificant advantage over its defenders. On retiring, Nicias reassembled his armament, sailed northward along the coast of Locris with the usual ravages, and returned home without effecting anything further.

About the same time that he started, thirty other Athenian triremes, under Demosthenes and Prokles, had been sent round Peloponnesus to act upon the coast of Akarnania. In conjunction with the whole Acarnanian force, except the men of Oeniadae—with fifteen triremes from Corcyra and some troops from Cephalonia and Zakynthos—they ravaged the whole territory of Leukas, both within and without the isthmus, and confined the inhabitants to their town, which was too strong to be taken by anything but a wall of circumvallation and a tedious blockade. And the Acarnanians, to whom the city was especially hostile, were urgent with Demosthenes to undertake this measure forthwith, since the opportunity might not again recur, and success was nearly certain.

But this enterprising officer committed the grave imprudence of offending them on a matter of great importance, in order to attack a country of all others the most impracticable—the interior of Aetolia. The Messenians of Naupactus, who suffered from the depredations of the neighbouring Aetolian tribes, inflamed his imagination by suggesting to him a grand scheme of operations, more worthy of the large force which he commanded than the mere reduction of Leukas. The various tribes of Aetolians—rude, brave, active, predatory, and unrivalled in the use of the javelin, which they rarely laid out of their hands—stretched across the country from between Parnassus and Oeta to the eastern bank of the Achelous. The scheme suggested by the Messenians was that Demosthenes should attack the great central Aetolian tribes—the Apodoti, Ophioneis, and Eurytanes:—if they were conquered, all the remaining continental tribes between the Ambracian Gulf and Mount Parnassus might be invited or forced into the alliance of Athens—the Acarnanians being already included in it. Having thus got the command of a large continental force, Demosthenes contemplated the ulterior scheme of marching at the head of it on the west of Parnassus through the territory of the Ozolian Locrians—inhabiting the north of the Corinthian Gulf, friendly to Athens, and enemies to the Aetolians, whom they resembled both in their habits and in their fighting—until he arrived at Kitynium in Doris, in the upper portion of the valley of the river Kephisus. He would then easily descend that valley into the territory of the Phocians, who were likely to join the Athenians if a favourable opportunity occurred, but who might at any rate be constrained to do so. From Phocis the scheme was to invade from the northward the conterminous territory of Boeotia, the great enemy of Athens; which might thus perhaps be completely subdued, if assailed at the same time from Attica. Any Athenian general who could have executed this comprehensive scheme would have acquired at home a high and well-merited celebrity. But Demosthenes had been ill-informed both as to the invincible barbarians and the pathless country comprehended under the name of Aetolia. Some of the tribes spoke a language scarcely intelligible to Greeks, and even ate their meat raw; while the country has even down to the present time remained not only unconquered, but untraversed; by an enemy in arms.

Demosthenes accordingly retired from Leukas, in spite of the remonstrance of the Acarnanians, who not only could not be induced to accompany him, but went home in visible disgust. He then sailed with his other forces—Messenians, Kephallenians, and Zakynthians —to Oeneon in the territory of the Ozolian Locrians, a maritime township on the Corinthian Gulf, not far eastward of Naupactus—where his army was disembarked, together with 300 epibatae (or marines) from the triremes—including on this occasion, what was not commonly the case on shipboard, some of the choice hoplites, selected all from young men of the same age, on the Athenian muster-roll. Having passed the night in the sacred precinct of Zeus Nemeus at Oeneon, memorable as the spot where the poet Hesiod was said to have been slain, he marched early in the morning, under the guidance of the Messenian Chromon, into Aetolia. On the first day he took Potidania, on the second Krokyleium, on the third Teichium—all of them villages unfortified and undefended, for the inhabitants abandoned them and fled to the mountains above. He was here inclined to halt and await the junction of the Ozolian Locrians, who had engaged to invade Aetolia at the same time, and were almost indispensable to his success, from their familiarity with Aetolian warfare, and their similarity of weapons. But the Messenians again persuaded him to advance without delay into the interior, in order that the villages might be separately attacked and taken before any collective force could be gathered together: and Demosthenes was so encouraged by having as yet encountered no resistance, that he advanced to Aegitium, which he also found deserted, and captured without opposition.

Here, however, was the term of his good fortune. The mountains round Aegitium were occupied not only by the inhabitants of that village, but also by the entire force of Aetolia, collected even from the distant tribes Bomies and Kallies, who bordered on the Maliac Gulf. The invasion of Demosthenes had become known beforehand to the Aetolians, who not only forewarned all their own tribes of the approaching enemy, but also sent ambassadors to Sparta and Corinth to ask for aid. However, they showed themselves fully capable of defending their own territory without foreign aid. Demosthenes found himself assailed in his position at Aegitium, on all sides at once by these active highlanders armed with javelins, pouring down from the neighbouring hills. Not engaging in any close combat, they retreated when the Athenians advanced forward to charge them—resuming their aggression the moment that the pursuers, who could never advance far in consequence of the ruggedness of the ground, began to return to the main body. The small number of bowmen along with Demosthenes for some time kept their unshielded assailants at bay. But the officer commanding the bowmen was presently slain; the stock of arrows became nearly exhausted; and what was still worse, Chromon the Messenian, the only man who knew the country and could serve as guide, was slain also. The bowmen became thus either ineffective or dispersed; while the hoplites exhausted themselves in vain attempts to pursue and beat off an active enemy, who always returned upon them and in every successive onset thinned and distressed them more and more. At length the force of Demosthenes was completely broken and compelled to take flight; without beaten roads, without guides, and in a country not only strange to them, but impervious, from continual mountain, rock, and forest. Many of them were slain in the flight by pursuers, superior not less in rapidity of movement than in knowledge of the country: some even lost themselves in the forest, and perished miserably in flames kindled around them by the Aetolians. The fugitives were at length reassembled at Oeneon near the sea, with the loss of Perikles, the colleague of Demosthenes in command, as well as of 120 hoplites, among the best-armed and most vigorous in the Athenian muster-roll. The remaining force was soon transported back from Naupaktus to Athens, but Demosthenes remained behind, being too much afraid of the displeasure of his countrymen to return at such a moment. It is certain that his conduct was such as justly to incur their displeasure; and that the expedition against Aetolia, alienating an established ally and provoking a new enemy, had been conceived with a degree of rashness which nothing but the unexpected favor of fortune could have counterbalanced.


The force of the new enemy, whom his unsuccessful attack had raised into activity, soon ade itself felt. The Aetolians envoys, who had been dispatched to Sparta and Corinth, found it easy to obtain the promise of a considerable force to join them in an expedition against Naupactus. About the month of September, a body of 3,000 Peloponnesian hoplites, including 500 from the newly founded colony of Herakleia, was assembled at Delphi, under the command of Eurylochus, Makarius, and Menedemus. Their road of march to Naupactus lay through the territory of the Ozolian Locrians, whom they proposed either to gain over or to subdue. With Amphissa, the largest Locrian township and in the immediate neighbourhood of Delphi, they had little difficulty—for the Amphissians were in a state of feud with their neighbours on the other side of Parnassus, and were afraid that the new armament might become the instrument of Phocian antipathy against them. On the first application they joined the Spartan alliance, and gave hostages for their fidelity to it : moreover, they persuaded many other Locrian petty villages—among others the Myoneis, who were masters of the most difficult pass on the road—to do the same. Eurylochus received from these various townships reinforcements for his army, as well as hostages for their fidelity, whom he deposited at Kytinium in Doris: and he was thus enabled to march through all the territory of the Ozolian Locrians without resistance; except from Oeneon and Eupalion, both which places he took by force. Having arrived in the territory of Naupaklas, he was there joined by the full force of the Aetolians. Their joint efforts, after laying waste all the neighbourhood, captured the Corinthian colony of Molykreion, which had become subject to the Athenian empire.

Naupactus, with a large circuit of wall and thinly defended, was in the greatest danger, and would certainly have been taken, had it not been saved by the efforts of the Athenian Demosthenes, who had remained there since the unfortunate Aetolian expedition. Apprised of the coming march of Eurylochus, he went personally to the Acarnanians, and persuaded them to send a force to aid in the defense of Naupactus. For a long time they turned a deaf ear to his solicitations in consequence of the refusal to blockade Leukas—but they were at length induced to consent. At the head of 1000 Acarnanian hoplites, Demosthenes threw himself into Naupactus, and Eurylochus, seeing that the town had been thus placed out of the reach of attack, abandoned all his designs upon it—marching farther westward to the neighbouring territories of Aetolia—Kalydon, Pleuron, and Proschium, near the Achelous and the borders of Akarnania. The Aetolians, who had come down to join him for the common purpose of attacking Naupactus, here abandoned him and retired to their respective homes. But the Ambrocio’s, rejoiced to find so considerable a Peloponnesian force in their neighbourhood, prevailed upon him to assist them in attacking the Amphilochian Argos as well as Akarnania; assuring him that there was now a fair prospect of bringing the whole of the population of the mainland, between the Ambracian and Corinthian Gulfs, under the supremacy of Lacedaemon. Having persuaded Eurylochus thus to keep his forces together and ready, they themselves, with 8,000 Ambraciot hoplites, invaded the territory of the Amphilochian Argos, and captured the fortified hill of Olpae, immediately bordering on the Ambracian Gulf, about three miles from Argos itself; a hill employed in former days by the Acarnanians as a place for public judicial congress of the whole nation.

This enterprise, communicated forthwith to Eurylochus, was the signal for movement on both sides. The Acarnanians, marching with their whole force to the protection of Argos, occupied a post called Krenae in the Amphilochian territory, to prevent Eurylochus from effecting his junction with the Ambraciots at Olpae. They at the same time sent urgent messages to Demosthenes at Naupactus, and to the Athenian guard-squadron of twenty triremes under Aristotle and Hierophon, entreating their aid in the present need, and inviting Demosthenes to act as their commander. They had forgotten their displeasure against him, arising out of his recent refusal to blockade at Leukas—for which they probably thought that he had been sufficiently punished by his disgrace at Aetolia; while they knew and esteemed his military capacity. In fact, the accident whereby he had been detained at Naupactus now worked fortunately for them as well as for him. It secured to them a commander whom all of them respected, obviating the jealousies among their own numerous petty townships—it procured for him the means of retrieving his own reputation at Athens. Demosthenes, not backward in seizing this golden opportunity, came speedily into the Ambracian Gulf with the twenty triremes, conducting 200 Messenian hoplites and sixty Athenian bowmen. Finding the whole Acarnanian force concentrated at the Amphilochian Argos, he was named general, nominally along with the Acarnanian generals, but in reality enjoying the whole direction of operations.

He found also the whole of the enemy’s force, both the 3,000 Ambraciot hoplites and the Peloponnesian division under Eurylochus, already united and in position at Olpae, about three miles off. For Eurylochus, as soon as he was apprised that the Ambraciots had reached Olpae, broke up forthwith his camp at Proschium in Aetolia, knowing that his best chance of traversing the hostile territory of Akarnania consisted in celerity: the whole Acarnanian force, however, had already gone to Argos, so that his march was unopposed through that country. He crossed the Achelous, marched westward of Stratus, through the Acarnanian townships of Phytia, Medeon, and Limnaea, then quitting both Akarnania and the direct road from Akarnania to Argos, he struck rather eastward into the mountainous district of Thyamus in the territory of the Agraeans, who were enemies of the Acarnanians. From hence he descended at night into the territory of Argos, and passed unobserved, under cover of the darkness, between Argos itself and the Acarnanian force at Krenae, so as to join in safety the 8,000 Ambraciots at Olpae, to their great joy. They had feared that the enemy at Argos and Krenae would have arrested his passage; and believing their force inadequate to contend alone, they had sent pressing messages home to demand large reinforcements for themselves and their own protection.

Demosthenes, thus finding a united and formidable enemy, superior in number to himself, at Olpae, conducted his troops from Argos and Krenae to attack them. The ground was rugged and mountainous, and between the two armies lay a steep ravine, which neither liked to be the first to pass; so that they lay for five days inactive. If Herodotus had been our historian, he would probably have ascribed this delay to unfavourable sacrifices (which may indeed have been the case), and would have given us interesting anecdotes respecting the prophets on both sides, but the more positive practical genius of Thucydides merely acquaints us, that on the sixth day both armies put themselves in order of battle—both probably tired of waiting. The ground being favourable for ambuscade, Demosthenes hid in a bushy dell 400 hoplites and light-armed, so that they might spring up suddenly in the midst of the action upon the Peloponnesian left, which outflanked his right. He was himself on the right with the Messenians and some Athenians, opposed to Eurylochus on the left of the enemy; the Acarnanians with the Amphilochian akontists, or darters, occupied his left, opposed to the Ambraciot hoplites; Ambraciots and Peloponnesians were, however, intermixed in the line of Eurylochus, and it was only the Mantineans who maintained a separate station of their own toward the left centre. The battle accordingly began, and Eurylochus, with his superior numbers, was proceeding to surround Demosthenes, when on a sudden the men in ambush rose up and set upon his rear. A panic seized his men, who made no resistance worthy of their Peloponnesian reputation: they broke and fled, while Eurylochus, doubtless exposing himself with peculiar bravery in order to restore the battle, was early slain. Demosthenes, having near him his best troops, pressed them vigorously, and their panic communicated itself to the troops in the centre, so that all were put to flight and pursued to Olpae. On the right of the line of Eurylochus, the Ambraciots, the most warlike Greeks in the Epirotic regions, completely defeated the Acarnanians opposed to them, and carried their pursuit even as far as Argos. So complete, however, was the victory gained by Demosthenes over the remaining troops, that these Ambraciots had great difficulty in fighting their way back to Olpae, which was not accomplished without severe loss, and late in the evening. Among all the beaten troops, the Mantineans were those who best maintained their retreating order. The loss in the army of Demosthenes was about 300; that of the opponents much greater, but the number is not specified.

Of the three Spartan commanders, two, Eurylochus and Makarius, had been slain: the third, Menedaeus, found himself beleaguered both by sea and land—the Athenian squadron being on guard along the coast. It would seem, indeed, that he might have fought his way to Ambracia, especially as he would have met the Ambraciot re-enforcement coming from the city. But whether this were possible or not, the commander, too much dispirited to attempt it, took advan­tage of the customary truce granted for burying the dead, to open negotiations with Demosthenes and the Acarnanian generals, for the purpose of obtaining an unmolested retreat. This was peremptorily refused: but Demosthenes (with the consent of the Acarnanian leaders) secretly intimated to the Spartan commander and those immediately around him, together with the Mantineans and other Peloponnesian troops—that if they chose to make a separate and surreptitious retreat, abandoning their comrades, no opposition would be offered. He designed by this means not merely to isolate the Ambraciots, the great enemies of Argos and Akarnania, along with the body of miscellaneous mercenaries who had come under Euryl­ochus—but also to obtain the more permanent advantage of disgracing the Spartans and Peloponnesians in the eyes of the Epirotic Greeks, as cowards and traitors to military fellowship. The very reason which prompted Demosthenes to grant a separate facility of escape, ought to have been imperative with Menedaeus and the Peloponne­sians around him, to make them spurn it with indignation. Yet such was their anxiety for personal safety, that this disgraceful convention was accepted, ratified, and carried into effect forthwith. It stands alone in Grecian history as an example of separate treason in officers to purchase safety for themselves and their immediate comrades, by abandoning the general body under their command. Had the officers been Athenian, it would have been doubtless quoted as evidence of the pretended faithlessness of democracy. But as it was the act of a Spartan commander in conjunction with many leading Peloponnesians, we will only venture to remark upon it as a further manifestation of that intra-Peloponnesian selfishness, and carelessness of obligation toward extra-Peloponnesian Greeks, which we found so lamentably prevalent during the invasion of Xerxes; in this case, indeed, heightened by the fact, that the men deserted were fellow-Dorians and fellow-soldiers who had just fought in the same ranks.

As soon as the ceremony of burying the dead had been completed, Menedaeus, and the Peloponnesians who were protected by this secret convention, stole away slyly and in small bands under pretence of collecting wood and vegetables. On getting to a little distance, they quickened their pace and made off—much to the dismay of the Ambraciots, who ran after them trying to overtake them. The Acarnanians pursued, and their leaders had much difficulty in explaining to them the secret convention just concluded. It was not without some suspicions of treachery, and even personal hazard from their own troops, that they at length caused the fugitive Peloponne­sians to be respected; while the Ambraciots, the most obnoxious of the two to Acarnanian feeling, were pursued without any reserve, and 200 of them were slain before they could escape into the friendly territory of the Agraeans. To distinguish Ambraciots from Peloponnesians, similar in race and dialect, was however no easy task. Much dispute arose in individual cases.

Unfairly as this loss fell upon Ambracia, a far more severe calamity was yet in store for her. The large re-enforcement from the city, which had been urgently invoked by the detachment at Olpae, started in due course as soon as they could be got ready, and entered the ter­ritory of Amphilochia about the time when the battle of 01 pa! was fought; but ignorant of that misfortune, and hoping to arrive soon enough to stand by their friends. Their march was made known to Demosthenes, 011 the day after the battle, by the Amphilochians, who at the same time indicated to him the best way of surprising them in the rugged and mountainous road along which they had to march, at the two conspicuous peaks called Idomene, immediately above a narrow pass leading farther on to Olpae. It was known beforehand, by the line of march of the Ambraciots, that they would rest for the night at the lower of these two peaks, ready to march through the pass on the next morning. On that same night a detach­ment of Amphilochians, under direction from Demosthenes, seized the higher of the two peaks; while that commander himself, dividing his forces into two divisions, started from his position at Olpae in the evening after supper. One of these divisions, having the advantage of Amphilochian guides in their own country, marched by an unfrequented mountain road to Idomene; the other, under Demosthenes himself, went directly through the pass leading from Idomene to Olpae. After marching all night they reached the camp of the Ambraciots a little before daybreak—Demosthenes himself with his Messenians in the van. The surprise was complete. The Ambraciots were found still lying down and asleep, while even the sentinels, uninformed of the recent battle—hearing themselves accosted in the Doric dialect by the Messenians, whom Demosthenes had placed in front for that express purpose—and not seeing very clearly in the morning twilight—mistook them for some of their own fellow-citizens coming back from the other camp. The Acarnanians and Messenians thus fell among the Ambraciots sleeping and unarmed, and without any possibility of resistance. Large numbers of them were destroyed on the spot, and the remainder fled in all directions among the neighbouring mountains, none knowing the roads and the country. It was the country of the Amphilochians—subjects of Ambracia, but subjects averse to their condition, and now making use of their perfect local knowledge and light-armed equipment, to inflict a terrible revenge on their masters. Some of the Ambraciots became entangled in ravines—others fell into ambuscades laid by the Amphilochians. Others again, dreading most of all to fall into the hands of the Amphilochians—barbaric in race as well as intensely hostile in feeling—and seeing no other possibility of escaping them, swam off to the Athenian ships cruising along the shore. There were but a small proportion of them who survived to return to Ambracia.

The complete victory of Idomene, admirably prepared by Demosthenes, was achieved with scarce any loss. The Acarnanians, after erecting their trophy and despoiling the enemy’s dead, prepared to carry off the arms thus taken to Argos.

On the morrow, however, before this was done, they were visited by a herald, coming from those Ambraciots who had fled into the Agraean territory after the battle of Olpae and the subsequent pursuit. He came with the customary request from defeated soldiers, for permission to bury their dead who had fallen in that pursuit. Neither he, nor those from whom he came knew anything of the destruction of their brethren at Idomene—just as these latter had been ignorant of the defeat at Olpae; while, on the other hand, the Acarnanians in the camp, whose minds were full of the more recent and capital advantage at Idomene, supposed that the message referred to the men slain in that engagement. The numerous panoplies just acquired at Idomene lay piled up in the camp, and the herald, on seeing them, was struck with amazement at the size of the heap, so much exceed­ing the number of those who were missing in his own detachment. An Acarnanian present asked the reason of his surprise, and inquired how many of his comrades had been slain—meaning to refer to the slain at Idomene. “About two hundred,” the herald replied. “Yet these arms here show, not that number, but more than a thousand men.”—“Then they are not the arms of those who fought with us.” —“ Nay—but they are—if ye were the persons who fought yesterday at Idomene.”—“We fought with no one yesterday: it was the day before yesterday, in the retreat”.—“O, then—ye have to learn, that we were engaged yesterday with these others, who were on their march as re-enforcement from the city of Ambracia.”

The unfortunate herald now learnt for the first time that the large re-enforcement from his city had been cut to pieces. So acute was his feeling of mingled anguish and surprise that he raised a loud cry of woe, and hurried away at once, without saying another word; not even prosecuting his request about the burial of the dead bodies—which appears on this fatal occasion to have been neglected.

His grief was justified by the prodigious magnitude of the calamity, which Thucydides considers to have been the greatest that afflicted any Grecian city during the whole war prior to the peace of Nikias; so incredibly great, indeed, that though he had learnt the number slain, he declines to set it down, from fear of not being believed—a scruple which we his readers have much reason to regret. It appears that nearly the whole adult military population of Ambracia was destroyed, and Demosthenes was urgent with the Acarnanians to march thither at once. Had they consented, Thucydides tells us positively that the city would have surrendered without a blow. But they refused to undertake the enterprise, fearing (according to the historian) that the Athenians at Ambracia would be more troublesome neighbours to them than the Ambraciots. That this reason was operative we need not doubt, but it can hardly have been either the single, or even the chief reason; for had it been so, they would have been equally afraid of Athenian co-operation in the blockade of Leukas, which they had strenuously solicited from Demosthenes, and had quarrelled with him for refusing. Ambracia was less near to them than Leukas—and in its present exhausted state, inspired less fear: but the displeasure arising from the former refusal of Demosthenes had probably never been altogether appeased, nor were they sorry to find an opportunity of mortifying him in a similar manner.

In the distribution of the spoil, 300 panoplies were first set apart as the perquisite of Demosthenes: the remainder were then distributed, one-third for the Athenians, the other two-thirds among the Acarnanian townships. The immense reserve personally appropriated to Demosthenes enables us to make some vague conjecture as to the total loss of Ambraciots. The fraction of one-third, assigned to the Athenian people, must have been, we may imagine, six times as great, and perhaps even in larger proportion, than the reserve of the general. For the latter was at that time under the displeasure of the people, and anxious above all things to regain their favor—an object which would be frustrated rather than promoted, if his personal share of the arms were, not greatly disproportionate to the collective claim of the city. Reasoning upon this supposition, the panoplies assigned to Athens would be 1800, and the total of Ambraciot slain whose arms became public property would be 5,400. To which must be added some Ambraciots killed in their flight from Idomene by the Amphilochians, in dells, ravines, and by-places: probably those Amphilochians, who slew them, would appropriate the arms privately, without bringing them into the general stock. Upon this calculation, the total number of Ambraciots slain in both battles and both pursuits, would be about 6,000; a number suitable to the grave expressions of Thucydides, as well as to his statements, that the first detachment which marched to Olpae was 3,000 strong— and that the message sent home invoked as reenforcement the total force of the city. How totally helpless Ambracia had become, is still more conclusively proved by the fact that the Corinthians were obliged shortly afterward to send by land a detachment of 300 hop­lites for its defence.

The Athenian triremes soon returned to their station at Naupactus, after which a convention was concluded between the Acarnanians and Amphilochians on the one side, and the Ambraciots and Peloponnesians (who had fled after the battle of Olpae into the territory of Salynthius and the Agraei) on the other—insuring a safe and unmolested egress to both of the latter. With the Ambraciots a more permanent pacification was effected: the Acarnanians and Amphilochians concluded with them a peace and alliance for 100 years, on condition that they should surrender all the Amphilochian territory and hostages in their possession, and should bind themselves to furnish no aid to Anactorium, then in hostility to the Acarnanians. Each party, however, maintained its separate alliance—the Ambraciots with the Peloponnesian confederacy, the Acarnanians with Athens. It was stipulated that the Acarnanians should not be required to assist the Ambraciots against Athens, nor the Ambraciots to assist the Acarnanians against the Peloponnesian league; but against all other enemies, each engaged to lend aid to the other.

To Demosthenes personally, the events on the coast of the Ambracian Gulf proved a signal good fortune, well-earned indeed by the skill which he had displayed. He was enabled to atone for his imprudence in the Aetolian expedition, and to reestablish himself in the favor of the Athenian people. He sailed home in triumph to Athens, during the course of the winter, with his reserved present of 300 panoplies, which acquired additional value from the accident, that the larger number of panoplies, reserved out of the spoil for the Athenian people, were captured at sea and never reached Athens. Accordingly, those brought by Demosthenes were the only trophy of the victory, and as such were deposited in the Athenian temples, where Thucydides mentions them as still existing at the time when he wrote.

It was in this same autumn that the Athenians were induced by an oracle to undertake the more complete purification of the sacred island of Delos. This step was probably taken to propitiate Apollo, since they were under the persuasion that the terrible visitation of the epidemic was owing to his wrath. And as it was about this period that the second attack of the epidemic, after having lasted a year, disappeared—many of them probably ascribed this relief to the effect of their pious cares at Delos. All the tombs in the island were opened; the dead bodies were then exhumed and re-interred in the neighbouring island of Rheneia: and orders were given that for the future neither deaths nor births should take place in the sacred island. Moreover, the ancient Delian festival—once the common point of meeting and solemnity for the whole Ionic race, and celebrated for its musical contests, before the Lydian and Persian conquests had subverted the freedom and prosperity of Ionia—was now renewed. The Athenians celebrated the festival with its accompanying matches, even the chariot race, in a manner more splendid than had ever been known in former times. They appointed a similar festival to be celebrated every fourth year. At this period they were excluded both from the Olympic and the Pythian games, which probably made the revival of the Delian festival more gratifying to them. The religious zeal and munificence of Nicias were strikingly displayed at Delos.