When they arrived off the coast of Laconia and heard that the Peloponnesian ships were1
already at Corcyra, Eurymedon and Sophocles wanted to hasten thither, but Demosthenes desired them first to put in at Pylos and not to proceed on their voyage until they had done what he wanted. They objected, but it so happened that a storm came on and drove them into Pylos. Instantly Demosthenes urged them to fortify the place;
this being the project which he had in view when he accompanied the fleet2
. He pointed out-to them that there was abundance of timber and stone ready to their hand, and that the position was naturally strong, while both the place itself and the country for a long way round was uninhabited. Pylos is distant about forty-six miles from Sparta, and is situated in the territory which once belonged to the Messenians; by the Lacedaemonians it is called Coryphasium.
The other generals argued that there were plenty of desolate promontories on the coast of Peloponnesus which he might occupy if he wanted to waste the public money. But Demosthenes thought that this particular spot had exceptional advantages. There was a harbour ready at hand; the Messenians, who were the ancient inhabitants of the country and spoke the same language with the Lacedaemonians, would make descents from the fort and do the greatest mischief; and they would be a trusty garrison.