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ἀπὸ δὲ τοῦ Αἰτωλικοῦ—the disaster which Demosthenes sustained the year before, as related iii. 97, 98. The Athenians were deficient in light-armed troops, and after holding out for some time against an enemy who could not be brought to close quarters, but harassed them at every point, they finally took to flight. Many lost their way in a wood, and were destroyed by fire. The Athenians lost many of their allies, and 120 of their best heavy-armed men. It is not a little remarkable that Cleon (ch. 28) at once announced his intention to bring troops of the very kind which Demosthenes had lacked in Aetolia, and which had operated against him with fatal effect. This certainly suggests the probability of some understanding between the two commanders.

μέρος τι—‘in a great measure’, an adverbial use of the determinant accusative: cf. ch. 16, 17, note. οὐχ ἥκιστα— ‘mainly’. These are instances of μείωσις: cf. ch. 13, 22.

ἐσῄει—‘occurred to him’: vi. 30, μᾶλλον αὐτοὺς ἐσῄει τὰ δεινά.

τῆς νήσου τοῖς ἐσχάτοις—‘on the edges of the island after προσίσχοντας.

διὰ προφυλακῆς—‘with a guard posted in advance’: ii. 81, διὰ φυλακῆς ἔχοντες.

κατὰ μικρὸν τῆς ὕλης—these words are the object of ἐμπρήσαντος, κατὰ μικρόν forming as it were a single word: cf. note on ch. 3, 13, ἐπὶ πολύ.

ἄκοντος—‘unintentionally’, ἄκων implying sometimes the absence of will, sometimes its contravention: Plat. Rep. 520 B, of philosophers, αὐτόματοι ἐμφύονται ἀκούσης τῆς πολιτείας. ἀπὸ τούτου, if the text be right, goes with ἐπιγενομένου, meaning ‘after this’ or ‘thereupon’. It usually means ‘from this cause’. Classen therefore omits καί, and takes ἀπὸ τούτου with ἔλαθε κατακαυθέν. ἐπιγενομένου—‘having sprung up after’, see note on ch. 26. 14. ἔλαθε κατακαυθέν=‘got burnt down accidentally’.

οὕτω δή—this sentence extends to ἑτοιμάζων, line 15. As it stands in the text there is one principal verb, παρεσκευάζετο, line 13; the participle κατιδών, in agreement with the subject of this verb, governing the two clauses τούς τε Λακεδαιμονίους...ὄντας, and τήν τε νῆσον...οὖσαν. The clause ὑπονοῶν... ἐσπέμπειν is parenthetical.

πλείους ὅντας—‘to be more numerous’ than he had thought.

ὑπονοῶν πρότερον—this refers to the arrangements for provisioning the island in the truce, ch. 16. ἐλάσσοσι—for a smaller number than was stated, or than now appeared. Demosthenes had been under the impression that the enemy had overstated their numbers in order to get a store of provisions. ὑπονοῶν and ἐσπέμπειν are imperfect.

αὐτοῦ—the invariable MSS reading. Professor Kennedy considers it to be the genitive, referring to τὸν σῖτον and governed by ἐλάσσοσι, and translates ‘suspecting that he (Dem.) was sending in the corn for a smaller number than the corn itself’, i.e. smaller than corresponded to the rations imported according to the terms of the armistice. It is true that in ch. 16, lines 9 and 13, the words ἐκπέμπειν and ἐσπέμπειν are used of the Lacedaemonians, which is an argument in favour of their being here also the subject of ἐσπέμπειν. The Spartans however would not be allowed by Demosthenes to convey the corn into Sphacteria themselves, and so to have constant intercommunication with their men on the island. Whatever the particular arrangements were, the rations would be delivered by the agency of the Athenians, and therefore ἐσπέμπειν is here used of Demosthenes, who actually ‘sent in’ the corn.

It has also been proposed to take αὐτοῦ with ἐσπέμπειν as equivalent to αὐτόσε, but this seems impossible, the occurrence of such words as ἐνταῦθα and ἐκεῖ with verbs of motion (e.g. ἵνα περ μ̔́ρμηντο, ch. 48, 31), being no warrant for such a use of αὐτοῦ, which as an adverb means ‘on the spot’.

αὐτόσε, αὐτοῖς, αὐτούς, and αὐτοὺς πέμπειν have been suggested as emendations. Of these αὐτούς, which is read by Classen, gives the best sense and supplies a subject to ἐσπέμπειν: though it is open to the objection that its meaning must be gathered from the context, those who sent in the corn not being identical with τοὺς Λακεδαιμονίους, line 9. (See Appendix.)

τήν τε νῆσον—I have adopted the transposition of the clauses την τε νῆσον...οῦσαν and τότε...ποιεῖσθαι, which is approved by Krüger and followed by Classen. It has the advantage of avoiding grammatical difficulty, and greatly improving the sense. The fire disclosed the number of the enemy, and made landing easier. Demosthenes then saw the prospect of effecting a capture, which was in truth worth a struggle, and accordingly prepared for the attempt.

It must however be noted that according to manuscript authority the clause τότε...ποιεῖσθαι follows ἐσπέμπειν. If this order be retained, the inf. ποιεῖσθαι depends on ὑπονοῶν or the sense of thinking implied therein and it is necessary to insert δέ after τότε (Poppo). We thus get the meaning, ‘thinking that the Athenians were now the more eager, as for a prize worthy of their efforts’. Arnold reads τό τε...ποιεῖσθαι dependent on κατιδών, but the arrangement is extremely awkward.

εὐαποβατωτέραν—the island was ‘easier to land on’ because the fire had destroyed the cover in which the enemy could have posted themselves.

τότε ὡς ἐπ᾽ ἀξιόχρεων—following τὴν ἐπιχείρησιν παρεσκευάζετο, ‘as for a prize worthy of a more earnest effort on the part of the Athenians’, or perhaps ‘a risk which called for’ such an effort. ἀξιόχρεων, ‘worthy, adequate’, is here followed by an infinitive clause. We have, v. 13, ἀξιόχρεων ὄντων δρᾶν, in the sense of ‘competent’: also Hdt. iv. 126.

μεταπέμπων—‘sending for’. In this sense the middle would be expected; Thucydides however uses active and middle indifferently: cf. ch. 15, 4, note on βουλεύειν.

προκαλούμενοι εἰ βούλοιντο—‘proposing, if they would, etc.’ sc. that they should agree to these terms: the force of βούλοιντο extends to the end of the sentence, which is partly elliptical: cf. ch. 37, 8, ἐκήρυξάν τε εἰ βουλοίντο.

σφίσι—the Athenians, referring to subject of πέμπουσι, = ‘to us’. σφᾶς αὐτούς—i.e. τοὺς ἐν τῇ νήσῳ.

ἐφ᾽ ...τηρήσονται—‘on condition that they shall be kept’: i. 113, ἐφ᾽ τοὺς ἄνδρας κομιοῦνται, ‘on condition that they shall have their men restored’: so i. 103, ἐφ᾽ τε ἐξίασιν. For this use of ἐπί cf. ch. 16, 24, αἱ σπονδαὶ ἐπὶ τούτοις ἐγένοντο: it gives the ground or understanding on which the truce was based. For fut. indic. see Goodwin, § 65, especially beginning and note 5.

φυλακῇ μετρίᾳ—an order not uncommon in Thuc.; cf. ch. 10, 8, κινδύνου τοῦ ταχίστου. The definite article here seems to imply a particular kind of imprisonment, which would be called μετρία, the conditions of which were supposed to be known to the Lacedaemonians.

ἕως ἂν...ξυμβαθῇ—‘till terms should be arranged concerning the general issue’. τοῦ πλέονος—the question of the war in general, as opposed to the smaller part of it which concerned Pylos in particular: so ch. 117, 7, ξυμβῆναι τὰ πλείω, ‘to make general terms’, as opposed to a temporary truce: cf. note on ch. 17, 17, τοῦ πλέονος. ξυμβαθῇ—aor. pass. of ξυμβαίνω (so ch. 23, 8, παραβαθῇ): the perf. pass. inf. ξυμβεβάσθαι occurs viii. 98.

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hide References (9 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (9):
    • Herodotus, Histories, 4.126
    • Plato, Republic, 7.520b
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.103
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.113
    • Thucydides, Histories, 2.81
    • Thucydides, Histories, 3.97
    • Thucydides, Histories, 5.13
    • Thucydides, Histories, 6.30
    • Thucydides, Histories, 8.98
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