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Now the causes of the Peloponnesian War were in general what I have described, as Ephorus has recorded them. And when the leading states had become embroiled in war in this fashion, the Lacedaemonians, sitting in council with the Peloponnesians, voted to make war upon the Athenians, and dispatching ambassadors to the king of the Persians, urged him to ally himself with them, while they also treated by means of ambassadors with their allies in Sicily and Italy and persuaded them to come to their aid with two hundred triremes; [2] and for their own part they, together with the Peloponnesians, got ready their land forces, made all other preparations for the war, and were the first to commence the conflict. For in Boeotia the city of the Plataeans was an independent state and had an alliance with the Athenians.2 [3] But certain of its citizens, wishing to destroy its independence, had engaged in parleys with the Boeotians, promising that they would range that state under the confederacy3 organized by the Thebans and hand Plataea over to them if they would send soldiers to aid in the undertaking. [4] Consequently, when the Boeotians dispatched by night three hundred picked soldiers, the traitors got them inside the walls and made them masters of the city. [5] The Plataeans, wishing to maintain their alliance with the Athenians, since at first they assumed that the Thebans were present in full force, began negotiations with the captors of the city and urged them to agree to a truce; but as the night wore on and they perceived that the Thebans were few in number, they rallied en masse and began putting up a vigorous struggle for their freedom. [6] The fighting took place in the streets, and at first the Thebans held the upper hand because of their valour and were slaying many of their opponents; but when the slaves and children began pelting the Thebans with tiles from the houses and wounding them, they turned in flight; and some of them escaped from the city to safety, but some who found refuge in a house were forced to give themselves up. [7] When the Thebans learned the outcome of the attempt from the survivors of the battle, they at once marched forth in all haste in full force. And since the Plataeans who dwelt in the rural districts were unprepared because they were not expecting the attack, many of them were slain and not a small number were taken captive alive, and the whole land was filled with tumult and plundering.

1 431 B.C.

2 The fuller account of the following incident is in Thuc. 2.2 ff.

3 The Boeotian League, which had been revived after Athens lost her dominating position in Central Greece in the battle of Coroneia in 447 B.C. (cp. chap. 6).

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