The Lacedaemonians were the more willing to let the Chalcidians have an army from Peloponnesus owing to the unfortunate state of their affairs. For now that the Athenians were infesting Peloponnesus, and especially
Laconia, they thought that a diversion would be best effected if they could retaliate on them1
by sending troops to help their dissatisfied allies, who moreover were offering to maintain them, and had asked for assistance from Sparta with the intention of revolting.
They were also glad of a pretext for sending out of the way some of the Helots, fearing that they would take the opportunity of rising afforded by the occupation of Pylos.
Most of the Lacedaemonian institutions were specially intended to secure them against this source of danger. Once, when they were afraid of the number and vigour2
of the Helot youth, this was what they did:—They proclaimed that a selection would be made of those Helots who claimed to have rendered the best service to the Lacedaemonians in war, and promised them liberty. The announcement was intended to test them; it was thought that those among them who were foremost in asserting their freedom would be most high-spirited, and most likely to rise against their masters.
So they selected about two thousand, who were crowned with garlands and went in procession round the temples; they were supposed to have received their liberty; but not long afterwards the Spartans put them all out of the way, and no man knew how any one of them came by his end.—And so they were only too glad to send with Brasidas seven hundred Helots as hoplites.
The rest of his army he hired from Peloponnesus3
. He himself was even more willing to go than they were to send him.