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After the Athenians had accepted the plan of Themistocles, he and the ambassadors set out for Sparta, and the Athenians began with great enthusiasm to build the walls, sparing neither houses nor tombs.1 And everyone joined in the task, both children and women and, in a word, every alien and slave, no one of them showing any lack of zeal. [2] And when the work was being accomplished with amazing speed both because of the many workmen and the enthusiasm of them all, Themistocles was summoned by the chief magistrates2 and upbraided for the building of the walls; but he denied that there was any construction, and urged the magistrates not to believe empty rumours but to dispatch to Athens trustworthy ambassadors, from whom, he assured them, they would learn the truth; and as surety for them he offered himself and the ambassadors who had accompanied him. [3] The Lacedaemonians, following the advice of Themistocles, put him and his companions under guard and dispatched to Athens their most important men who were to spy out whatever matter should arouse their curiosity. But time had passed, and the Athenians had already got so far along with the construction that, when the Lacedaemonian ambassadors arrived in Athens and with denunciations and threats of violence upbraided them, the Athenians took them into custody, saying that they would release them only when the Lacedaemonians in turn should release the ambassadors who accompanied Themistocles. [4] In this manner the Laconians were outgeneralled and compelled to release the Athenian ambassadors in order to get back their own. And Themistocles, having by means of so clever a stratagem fortified his native land speedily and without danger, enjoyed high favour among his fellow citizens. [5]

While the events we have described were taking place, a war broke out between the Romans and the Aequi and the inhabitants of Tusculum, and meeting the Aequi in battle the Romans overcame them and slew many of the enemy, and then they took Tusculum after a siege and occupied the city of the Aequi.

1 i.e. in their search for building material.

2 In Sparta; presumably the ephors.

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