The same summer, about the same time that the
Athenians were detained at Melos, their fellow-citizens in the thirty ships
cruising round Peloponnese, after cutting off some guards in an ambush at
Ellomenus in Leucadia, subsequently went against Leucas itself with a large
armament, having been reinforced by the whole levy of the Acarnanians except
Oeniadae, and by the Zacynthians and Cephallenans and fifteen ships from
While the Leucadians witnessed the devastation of their land, without and
within the isthmus upon which the town of Leucas and the temple of Apollo
stand, without making any movement on account of the overwhelming numbers of
the enemy, the Acarnanians urged Demosthenes, the Athenian general, to build
a wall so as to cut off the town from the continent, a measure which they
were convinced would secure its capture and rid them once and for all of a
most troublesome enemy.
Demosthenes however had in the meanwhile been
persuaded by the Messenians that it was a fine opportunity for him, having
so large an army assembled, to attack the Aetolians, who were not only the
enemies of Naupactus, but whose reduction would further make it easy to gain
the rest of that part of the continent for the Athenians.
The Aetolian nation, although numerous and warlike, yet dwelt in unwalled
villages scattered far apart, and had nothing but light armour, and might,
according to the Messenians, be subdued without much difficulty before
succors could arrive.
The plan which they recommended was to attack first the Apodotians, next
the Ophionians, and after these the Eurytanians, who are the largest tribe
in Aetolia, and speak, as is said, a language exceedingly difficult to
understand, and eat their flesh raw.These once subdued, the rest would easily come in.
Thucydides. The Peloponnesian War. London, J. M. Dent; New York, E. P. Dutton. 1910.
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