these events were taking place, the Athenians,1
who had suffered a continued series of reverses,
conferred citizenship upon the metics and any other aliens who were willing to fight with them;
and when a great multitude was quickly enrolled among the citizens, the generals kept mustering
for the campaign all who were in fit condition. They made ready sixty ships, and after fitting
them out at great expense they sailed forth to Samos, where they found the other generals who
had assembled eighty triremes from the rest of the islands.
They also had asked the Samians to man and equip ten additional triremes, and with one
hundred and fifty ships in all they set out to sea and put in at the Arginusae Islands, being
eager to raise the siege of Mitylene.
When Callicratidas, the
admiral of the Lacedaemonians, learned of the approach of the ships, he left Eteonicus with the
land troops in charge of the siege, while he himself manned one hundred and forty ships and
hurriedly put out to sea on the other side of the Arginusae. These islands, which were
inhabited at that time and contained a small settlement of Aeolians, lie between Mitylene and
Cyme and are but a very small distance from the mainland and the headland of Canis.
The Athenians learned at once of the
approach of the enemy, since they lay at anchor no small distance away, but refused battle
because of the strong winds and made ready for the conflict on the following day, the
Lacedaemonians also doing likewise, although the seers on both sides forbade it.
For in the case of the Lacedaemonians the head of the victim, which lay
on the beach, was lost to sight when the waves broke on it, and the seer accordingly foretold
that the admiral would die in the fight. At this prophecy Callicratidas, we are told, remarked,
"If I die in the fight, I shall not have lessened the fame of Sparta."
And in the case of the Athenians Thrasybulus2
their general, who held the supreme command
on that day, saw in the night the following vision. He dreamed that he was in Athens and the
theatre was crowded, and that he and six of the other generals were playing the
of Euripides, while their competitors were performing the
; and that it
resulted in a "Cadmean victory"4
for them and they all died, just as did those who waged the campaign against Thebes.
When the seer heard this, he disclosed that seven of the generals would
be slain. Since the omens revealed victory, the generals forbade any word going out to the
others about their own death but they passed the news of the victory disclosed by the omens
throughout the whole army.