To this reply the Lacedaemonians said nothing, but only requested that the Athenians would1
appoint commissioners to discuss with them the details of the agreement and quietly arrive at an understanding about them if they could. This proposal was assailed by Cleon in unmeasured language:
he had always known, he said, that they meant no good, and now their designs were unveiled; for they were unwilling to speak a word before the people, but wanted to be closeted with a select few2
; if they had any honesty in them, let them say what they wanted to the whole city.
But the Lacedaemonians knew that, although they might be willing to make concessions under the pressure of their calamities, they could not speak openly before the assembly (for if they spoke and did not succeed, the terms which they offered might injure them in the opinion of their allies); they saw too that the Athenians would not grant what was asked of them on any tolerable conditions. So, after a fruitless negotiation, they returned home.