UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.
last. Archidamus began to build a mound outside of the wall, from the
summit of which his soldiers might surmount the barricade. But the
Plataeans built a second wall inside of the first, and at the same time
undermined the mound which was thrown up outside. After three months of
vain endeavor the Lacedaemonians were obliged to adopt the policy of a
mere blockade, which should of necessity reduce the garrison by
starvation. For two years the Plataeans held out, and then when their
provisions were nearly exhausted, two hundred and twelve of their number,
choosing a dark December night, scaled the ramparts which the Spartans
had built around the town, and escaped. The remainder still defended
themselves, but were at last compelled by sheer famine to capitulate.
There remained of the garrison two hundred Plataeans and twenty-five
As soon as all were surrendered they were brought to trial. Each one was
led before the Spartan judges and asked the question whether during the
present war he had rendered any assistance to the Lacedamonians or their
allies? The question was, of course, not even a decent mockery, and was
necessarily answered in the negative. Thereupon without further ceremony
every man of the number was led off and executed. The town of Plataea was
leveled to the earth and the territory given to the Thebans.
During this third year of the war, Sitalces, king of Thrace, acting on
the suggestion of the Athenians, invaded the dominions of Perdiccas of
Macedon; but the expedition was undertaken at so late a season that its
serious consequence was to drive the Macedonians to take refuge in their
towns until the Thracians were withdrawn. About the same time, the
Spartans, using Corinth as a base of operations, prepared a fleet of
forty-seven vessels, and proceeded to make an expedition against
Acarnania. At this time a small Athenian squadron of twenty sail, under
command of Phormio, lay at Naupactus. Notwithstanding the disparity of
the fleets, the Athenian captain attacked the Peloponnesian armament, and
gained a decisive victory. The Lacedaemonians, enraged at this result,
prepared a new fleet of seventy-seven vessels and again started to cross
the gulf; but nothing daunted, Phormio a second time gave battle, and if
not positively victorious, so crippled the enemy's squadron that the
expedition had to be abandoned. As a slight compensation for these
disasters, the Spartans succeeded in surprising Salamis by night and
ravaging a good part of the island before the Athenians could rally and
drive them off.
From this time forth for several seasons the annual invasion of Attica
occurred, with its monotonous repetition of pillage and destruction.
What with perpetual devastation, and what with the wasting plague, Athens
was becoming exhausted; but her spirit rose with the occasion. New levies
were made for the fleet from the upper classes of society. An income tax
was laid upon the people, by which two hundred talents were to be
annually added to the treasury. The Lacedaemonians were surprised by the
appearance of two new squadrons at a time when they were imagining the
maritime strength of the Athenians to be nearly extinct. It was fortunate
for the latter that they were thus able to recuperate, for the fourth
year of the war brought them a serious trial in the revolt of Mitylene.
An armament was, however, immediately sent against the rebellious island,
and the Mityleneans were subjected to a rigorous blockade. Assistance was
promised by the Spartan government, and a squadron was sent out under
Alcidas, but before he arrived off Lesbos the Athenians had compelled the
place to capitulate.
During the debates in the Athenian assembly as to what disposition should
be made of the prisoners, the demagogue Cleon, already mentioned as a
would-be rival of Pericles, appeared as a leader. He had been a leather
seller and had every quality of mind and character requisite in a rabble-
rouser. In the present instance he proposed in the very face of the terms
granted by Paches, the Athenian commander before Mitylene, that not only
the prisoners now in the power of the authorities, but also the whole
adult male _______________________________ 1 See the satire of
Aristophanes, supra, p. 494.