, the Athenian general, had seventy ships
which he had fitted out with everything necessary for making war at sea more carefully than any
other general had ever done by way of preparation. Now it so happened that he had put out to
sea with all his ships when he went to the aid of Methymne;
but on discovering that it had already fallen, at the time he had bivouacked at one of the
Hundred Isles, as they are called, and at daybreak, when he observed that the enemy's ships
were bearing down on him, he decided that it would be dangerous for him to join battle in that
place with triremes double his in number, but he planned to avoid battle by sailing outside the
Isles and, drawing some of the enemy's triremes after him, to engage them off Mitylene
. For by such tactics, he assumed, in case of victory he
could turn about and pursue and in case of defeat he could withdraw for safety to the harbour.
Consequently, having put his soldiers on board ship, he set
out with the oars at a leisurely stroke in order that the ships of the Peloponnesians might
draw near him. And the Lacedaemonians, as they approached, kept driving their ships faster and
faster in the hope of seizing the hindmost ships of the enemy.
withdrew, the commanders of the best ships
of the Peloponnesians pushed the pursuit hotly, and they wore out the rowers by their continued
exertion at the oars and were themselves separated a long distance from the others. Conon
, noticing this, when his ships were already near
, raised from his flagship a red banner, for
this was a signal for the captains of the triremes.
his ships, even as the enemy was overhauling them, suddenly turned about at the same moment,
and the crews raised the battle-song and the trumpeters sounded the attack. The Peloponnesians,
dismayed at the turn of events, hastily endeavoured to draw up their ships to repel the attack,
but as there was not time for them to turn about they had fallen into great confusion because
the ships coming up after them had left their accustomed position.