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Demosthenes now led an expedition against Pylos,1 intending to fortify this stronghold as a threat to the Peloponnesus; for it is an exceptionally strong place, situated in Messenia and four hundred stades distant from Sparta. Since he had at the time both many ships and an adequate number of soldiers, in twenty days he threw a wall about Pylos. The Lacedaemonians, when they learned that Pylos had been fortified, gathered together a large force, both infantry and ships. [2] Consequently, when they set sail for Pylos, they not only had a fleet of forty-five fully equipped triremes but also marched with an army of twelve thousand soldiers; for they considered it to be a disgraceful thing that men who were not brave enough to defend Attica while it was being ravaged should fortify and hold a fortress in the Peloponnesus. [3] Now these forces under the command of Thrasymedes pitched their camp in the neighbourhood of Pylos. And since the troops were seized by an eager desire to undergo any and every danger and to take Pylos by storm, the Lacedaemonians stationed the ships with their prows facing the entrance to the harbour in order that they might use them for blocking the enemy's attempt to enter, and assaulting the walls with the infantry in successive waves and displaying all possible rivalry, they put up contests of amazing valour. [4] Also to the island called Sphacteria, which extends lengthwise to the harbour and protects it from the winds, they transported the best troops of the Lacedaemonians and their allies. This they did in their desire to forestall the Athenians in getting control of the island before them, since its situation was especially advantageous to the prosecution of the siege. [5] And though they were engaged every day in the fighting before the fortifications and were suffering wounds because of the superior height of the wall, they did not relax the violence of their fighting; as a consequence, many of them were slain and not a few were wounded as they pressed upon a position which had been fortified. [6] The Athenians, who had secured beforehand a place which was also a natural stronghold and possessed large supplies of missiles and a great abundance of everything else they might need, kept defending their position with spirit; for they hoped that, if they were successful in their design, they could carry the whole war to the Peloponnesus and ravage, bit by bit, the territory of the enemy.

1 The reader may refer to the detailed account of the following campaign in Thuc. 4.3-23, 26-40. In the Bay of Navarino, on which Pylos lies, occurred the famous naval Battle of Navarino between the allied British, Russian, and French fleet and the Turkish. The victory of the allied fleet, 20th October 1827, decided the issue of the Greek war of independence.

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