After the lapse of thirty days Alcibiades ran away from his guards, got a horse from some one or other, and made his escape to Clazomenae. To repay Tissaphernes, he alleged that he had escaped with that satrap's connivance, and so brought additional calumny upon him. He himself sailed to the camp of the Athenians,1
where he learned that Mindarus, along with Pharnabazus, was in Cyzicus.
Thereupon he roused the spirits of the soldiers, declaring that they must now do sea-fighting and land-fighting and even siege-fighting, too, against their enemies, for poverty stared them in the face unless they were victorious in every way. He then manned his ships and made his way to Proconnesus, giving orders at once to seize all small trading craft and keep them under guard, that the enemy might get no warning of his approach from any source so ever.
Now it chanced that copious rain fell all of a sudden, and thunder-peals and darkness cooperated with him in concealing his design. Indeed, not only did he elude the enemy, but even the Athenians themselves had already given up all expectation of fighting, when he suddenly ordered them aboard ship and put out to sea. After a little the darkness cleared away, and the Peloponnesian ships were seen hovering off the harbor of Cyzicus.
Fearing then lest they catch sight of the full extent of his array and take refuge ashore, he ordered his fellow-commanders to sail slowly and so remain in the rear, while he himself, with only forty ships, hove in sight and challenged the foe to battle. The Peloponnesians were utterly deceived, and scorning what they deemed the small numbers of their enemy, put out to meet them, and closed at once with them in a grappling fight. Presently, while the battle was raging, the Athenian reserves bore down upon their foe, who were panic stricken and took to flight.
Then Alcibiades with twenty of his best ships broke though their line, put to shore, and disembarking his crews, attacked his enemy as they fled from their ships, and slew many of them. Mindarus and Pharnabazus, who came to their aid, he overwhelmed; Mindarus was slain fighting sturdily, but Pharnabazus made his escape.
Many were the dead bodies and the arms of which the Athenians became masters, and they captured all their enemy's ships. Then they also stormed Cyzicus, which Pharnabazus abandoned to its fate, and the Peloponnesians in it were annihilated. Thus the Athenians not only had the Hellespont under their sure control, but even drove the Lacedaemonians at a stroke from the rest of the sea. A dispatch was captured announcing the disaster to the ephors in true laconic style:
‘Our ships are lost; Mindarus is gone; our men are starving; we know not what to do.’