At Pylos meanwhile the Athenians continued to blockade the Lacedaemonians in the island, and the Peloponnesian forces on the mainland1
remained in their old position.
The watch was harassing to the Athenians, for they were in want both of food and water; there was only one small well, which was in the acropolis, and the soldiers were commonly in the habit of scraping away the shingle on the sea-shore, and drinking such water as they could get. The Athenian garrison was crowded into a narrow space, and, their ships having no regular anchorage, the crews took their meals on land by turns;
one half of the army eating while the other lay at anchor in the open sea. The unexpected length of the siege was a great discouragement to them;
they had hoped to starve their enemies out in a few days, for they were on a desert island, and had only brackish water to drink.
The secret of this protracted resistance was a proclamation issued by the Lacedaemonians offering large fixed prices, and freedom if he were a Helot, to any one who would convey into the island meal, wine, cheese or any other provision suitable for a besieged place. Many braved the danger, especially the Helots;
they started from all points of Peloponnesus, and before daybreak bore down upon the shore of the island looking towards the open sea. They took especial care to have a strong wind in their favour, since they were less likely to be discovered by the triremes when it blew hard from the sea.
The blockade was then impracticable, and the crews of the boats were perfectly reckless in running them aground; for a value had been set upon them, and Lacedaemonian hoplites were waiting to receive them about the landing-places of the island. All however who ventured when the sea was calm were captured.
Some too dived and swam by way of the harbour, drawing after them by a cord skins containing pounded linseed and poppy-seeds mixed with honey. At first they were not found out, but afterwards watches were posted.
The two parties had all sorts of devices, the one determined to send in food, the other to detect them.