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55. The Lacedaemonians seeing that the Athenians had got possession of Cythera, and anticipating1 similar descents on their own shores, nowhere opposed them with their united forces, but distributed a body of hoplites in garrisons through the country where their presence seemed to be needed. They kept strict watch, fearing lest some domestic revolution should break out. Already a great and unexpected blow had fallen upon them at Sphacteria; Pylos and Cythera were in the hands of the Athenians, and they were beset on every side by an enemy against whose swift attacks precaution was vain. [2] Contrary to their usual custom they raised a force of four hundred cavalry and archers. Never in their history had they shown so much hesitation in their military movements. They were involved in a war at sea, an element to which they were strange, against a power like the Athenians, in whose eyes to miss an opportunity was to lose a victory2. [3] Fortune too was against them, and they were panic-stricken by the many startling reverses which had befallen them within so short a time. They feared lest some new calamity like that of the island might overtake them; [4] and therefore they dared not venture on an engagement, but expected all their undertakings to fail; they had never hitherto known misfortune, and now they lost all confidence in their own powers.

1 The Lacedaemonians lose confidence in themselves. They act on the defensive. Hesitation in their counsels and panic at their reverses.

2 Cp 1.70 med.

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