As for the generals
themselves, they divided the naval force into three squadrons, Alcibiades commanding one,
Theramenes another, and Thrasybulus the third. Now Alcibiades with his own squadron advanced
far ahead of the others, wishing to draw the Lacedaemonians out to a battle, whereas Theramenes
and Thrasybulus planned the manoeuvre of encircling the enemy and, if they sailed out, of
blocking their retreat to the city.
Mindarus, seeing only the
ships of Alcibiades approaching, twenty in number, and having no knowledge of the others, held
them in contempt and boldly set sail from the city with eighty ships to attack him. Then, when
he had come near the ships of Alcibiades, the Athenians, as they had been commanded, pretended
to flee, and the Peloponnesians, in high spirits, pursued after them vigorously in the belief
they were winning the victory.
But after Alcibiades had drawn
them a considerable distance from the city, he raised the signal; and when this was given, the
ships of Alcibiades suddenly at the same time turned about to face the enemy, and Theramenes
and Thrasybulus sailed toward the city and cut off the retreat of the Lacedaemonians.
The troops of Mindarus, when they now observed the multitude
of the enemy ships and realized that they had been outgeneralled, were filled with great fear.
And finally, since the Athenians were appearing from every direction and had shut off the
Peloponnesians from their line of approach to the city, Mindarus was forced to seek safety on
land near Cleri, as it is called, where also Pharnabazus had his army.
Alcibiades, pursuing him vigorously, sank some ships, damaged and
captured others, and the largest number, which were moored on the land itself, he seized and
threw grappling-irons on, endeavouring by this means to drag them from the land.
And when the infantry of Pharnabazus rushed to the aid of the
Lacedaemonians, there was great bloodshed, inasmuch as the Athenians because of the advantage
they had won were fighting with greater boldness than expediency, while the Peloponnesians were
in number far superior; for the army of Pharnabazus was supporting the Lacedaemonians and
fighting as it was from the land the position it had was more secure.
But when Thrasybulus saw the infantry aiding the enemy, he put the rest of his marines
on the land with intent to assist Alcibiades and his men, and he also urged Theramenes to join
up with the land troops of Chaereas and come with all speed, in order to wage a battle on land.