Nothing that happened in the war surprised
the Hellenes so much as this.It was the opinion that no force or famine could make the Lacedaemonians
give up their arms, but that they would fight on as they could, and die with
them in their hands:
indeed people could scarcely believe that those who had surrendered were of
the same stuff as the fallen; and an Athenian ally, who some time after insultingly asked one of the
prisoners from the island if those that had fallen were men of honor,
received for answer that the atraktos—that is, the
arrow—would be worth a great deal if it could tell men of honor
from the rest; in allusion to the fact that the killed were those whom the stones and the
arrow happened to hit.
Thucydides. The Peloponnesian War. London, J. M. Dent; New York, E. P. Dutton. 1910.
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