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After this the Athenians dispatched to Argos by sea a thousand picked hoplites and two hundred cavalry, under the command of Laches and Nicostratus; and Alcibiades also accompanied them, although in a private capacity, because of the friendly relations he enjoyed with the Eleians and Mantineians; and when they were all gathered in council, they decided to pay no attention to the truce but to set about making war. [2] Consequently each general urged on his own troops to the conflict, and when they all responded eagerly, they pitched camp outside the city. Now they agreed that they should march first of all against Orchomenus in Arcadia; and so, advancing into Arcadia, they settled down to the siege of the city and made daily assaults upon its walls. [3] And after they had taken the city, they encamped near Tegea, having decided to besiege it also. But when the Tegeatans called upon the Lacedaemonians for immediate aid, the Spartans gathered all their own soldiers and those of their allies and moved on Mantineia, believing that, once Mantineia was attacked in the war, the enemy would raise the siege of Tegea.1 [4] The Mantineians gathered their allies, and marching forth themselves en masse, formed their lines opposite the Lacedaemonians. A sharp battle followed, and the picked troops of the Argives, one thousand in number, who had received excellent training in warfare, were the first to put to flight their opponents and made great slaughter of them in their pursuit. [5] But the Lacedaemonians, after putting to flight the other parts of the army and slaying many, wheeled about to oppose the Argives and by their superior numbers surrounded them, hoping to destroy them to a man. [6] Now although the picked troops of the Argives, though in numbers far inferior, were superior in feats of courage, the king of the Lacedaemonians led the fight and held out firmly against the perils he encountered; and he would have slain all the Argives—for he was resolved to fulfil the promises he had made to his fellow citizens and wipe out, by a great deed, his former ill repute—but he was not allowed to consummate that purpose. For Pharax the Spartan, who was one of the advisers of Agis and enjoyed the highest reputation in Sparta, directed him to leave a way of escape for the picked men and not, by hazarding the issue against men who had given up all hope of life, to learn what valour is when abandoned by Fortune. [7] So the king was compelled, in obedience to the command recently given him,2 to leave a way of escape even as Pharax advised. So the Thousand, having been allowed to pass through in the manner described, made their way to safety, and the Lacedaemonians, having won the victory in a great battle, erected a trophy and returned home.

1 Presumably in order to bring aid to the Mantineians.

2 Cp. chap. 78.6.

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    • Harold North Fowler, Commentary on Thucydides Book 5, 5.61
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