previous next

In Greece the Lesbians revolted from the Athenians; for they harboured against them the complaint that, when they wished to merge all the cities of Lesbos with the city of the Mytilenaeans,1 the Athenians had prevented it. [2] Consequently, after dispatching ambassadors to the Peloponnesians and concluding an alliance with them, they advised the Spartans to make an attempt to seize the supremacy at sea, and toward this design they promised to supply many triremes for the war. [3] The Lacedaemonians were glad to accept this offer, but while they were busied with the building of the triremes, the Athenians forestalled their completion by sending forthwith a force against Lesbos, having manned forty ships and chosen Cleinippides as their commander, He gathered reinforcements from the allies and put in at Mytilene. [4] In a naval battle which followed the Mytilenaeans were defeated and enclosed within a siege of their city. Meanwhile the Lacedaemonians had voted to send aid to the Mytilenaeans and were making ready a strong fleet, but the Athenians forestalled them by sending to Lesbos additional ships along with a thousand hoplites. [5] Their commander, Paches the son of Epiclerus, upon arriving at Mytilene, took over the force already there, threw a wall about the city, and kept launching continuous assaults upon it not only by land but by sea as well. [6]

The Lacedaemonians sent forty-five triremes to Mytilene under the command of Alcidas, and they also invaded Attica together with their allies; here they visited the districts of Attica which they had passed by before, ravaged the countryside, and then returned home. [7] And the Mytilenaeans, who were distressed by lack of food and the war and were also quarrelling among themselves, formally surrendered the city to the besiegers. [8] While in Athens the people were deliberating on what action they should take against the Mytilenaeans, Cleon, the leader of the populace and a man of cruel and violent nature, spurred on the people, declaring that they should slay all the male Mytilenaeans from the youth upward and sell into slavery the children and women. [9] In the end the Athenians were won over and voted as Cleon had proposed, and messengers were dispatched to Mytilene to make known to the general the measures decreed by the popular assembly. [10] Even as Paches had finished reading the decree a second decree arrived, the opposite of the first. Paches was glad when he learned that the Athenians had changed their minds, and gathering the Mytilenaeans in assembly he declared them free of the charges as well as of the greatest fears. The Athenians pulled down the walls of Mytilene and portioned out in allotments2 the entire island of Lesbos with the exception of the territory of the Methymnaeans.

Such, then, was the end of the revolt of the Lesbians from the Athenians.

1 By this union of the island (sunoikismos) the separate governments of the different cities would have been dissolved and the inhabitants would all have become citizens of Mitylene, the capital and seat of rule; just as, traditionally under Theseus, the governments of the several cities of Attica were put down and Athens became the city-state of the entire area.

2 Among Athenian colonists. Thuc. 3.50.2 states that the Lesbians arranged to work the allotments as renters, paying the colonists a fixed rental.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (1989)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Mytilene (Greece) (5)
Lesbos (Greece) (4)
Attica (Greece) (3)
Athens (Greece) (2)
Greece (Greece) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (2 total)
  • Cross-references to this page (1):
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (1):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: