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ἀναχωρησάντων δὲ τῶν ἐκ τῆς Ἀττικῆς—this is called a pregnant construction, containing the two ideas ‘when the Peloponnesians in Attica had retired from it’: so ch. 16, 20: 19, 5, ἀνταιτοῦντες τοὺς ἐκ τῆς νήσου ἄνδρας.

οἱ Σπαρτιᾶται—the fully-privileged citizens of Sparta itself, who alone were eligible to public offices: the περίοικοι were the inhabitants of the townships of Laconia, who though free had no voice in the government.

περιήγγελλον...βοηθεῖν—‘and they sent round word also over Peloponnesus to march’: so ii. 10, περιήγγελλον στρατιὰν παρασκευάζεσθαι: also with an accusative of the thing demanded, vii. 18, σίδηρον περιήγγελλον, ‘they sent round orders for iron’: this corresponds to the use of impero with frumentum, pecuniam, obsides, etc.; and the English ‘to order’ supplies, etc.

ὑπερενεχθεῖσαι—‘after being carried over the Leucadian isthmus’: so iii. 81, ὑπερενεγκόντες τὸν Λευκαδίων ίσθμὸν τὰς ναῦς: the same construction, viii. 7. Leucas (now Sauta Maura) was afterwards turned into an island by cutting through the isthmus which connected it with the mainland. In 428 we find the Lacedaemonians preparing machines (ὁλκοί) to transport (ὡς ὑπεροίσοντες) a fleet over the isthmus of Corinth (iii. 15): and in 412 twenty-one ships were conveyed across it (viii. 7, 8).

τὰς ἐν Ζακύνθῳ—so far had the Athenian fleet advanced on the way to Corcyra. Zacynthus (now Zante) was much nearer than Leucas to Pylos. It was faithful to the Athenians throughout the war, and was an important link in the chain of naval stations which enabled the Athenians to command the coast of Peloponnesus (ii. 7, 80).

ὡς τοῦ χωρίου—‘since the place was in danger’; ὡς with the genitive absolute gives the ground on which Demosthenes called for speedy succour, stated as a fact; thus differing from the accusative construction, which expresses belief or opinion: see note on ch. 5, 3.

καὶ αἱ μὲν νῆες. οἰ δέ—note the force of the imperfect tenses: the Athenian ships ‘were on their way’ to obtain help, the Lacedaemonians on their side ‘were engaged in’ preparations for the attack. Classen takes αἱ μεν νῆες to mean the Athenian ships at Zacynthus, which ‘were getting ready for the voyage’ to help Pylos. This perhaps gives a greater force to κατὰ τὰ ἐπεσταλμένα, ‘in accordance with the orders of Demosthenes’, i.e. his urgent demand for speedy aid.

διὰ ταχέων εἰργασμένον—‘a work hastily constructed and occupied by a small force’: after the passive participle agreeing with οἰκοδόμημα comes the genitive absolute with an active participle. For other variations of participial construction see the opening clauses of chs. 28, 29, and 32.

ἐν νῷ εἶχον—‘they purposed’: ch. 22, 7, ἐν νῷ ἔχοντας, ‘intending’: so Hdt. i. 27, ἔχοντες ἐν νῷ στρατεύεσθαι, ‘intending to march’: so in Latin, Liv. vi. 19, nobis in animo est. On the other hand νῷ ἔχειν without ἐν means to remember: Plat. Gorg. 490 A, εἰ νῷ ἔχεις, ‘if you bear in mind’: so Hdt. v. 92 (7), νόῳ ἴσχων.

ἢν ἄρα μή—‘if they should fail to take it’: ἄρα with εἰ and ἤν has the force of if after all, if, which I do not expect.

ὅπως μὴ —‘that it might not be possible for the Athenians to enter and take up a position against them’: ἔστι ‘it is possible’ is most commonly found with a negative: ch. 9, 8, οὐκ ἦν ὅπλα πορίσασθαι. For the meaning of ὁρμίζομαι, and its construction with ἐς, see note on ch. 1, 19: the compound with ἐπί is only found here in Thucydides; it corresponds to the neuter verb ἐφορμέω, ‘to lie at anchor over against, to blockade’, and to the substantives ἐφόρμησις and ἔφορμος.

γὰρ νῆσος Σφακτηρία—the fortress of Pylos was at the northern extremity of the bay, the harbour being the bay itself, which was rendered secure by the island of Sphacteria. The island lay north and south across the bay, leaving two narrow entrances which the Lacedaemonians now proposed to block up. Sphacteria is almost certainly the Sphagia of ancient writers and of modern days: cf. Plat. Menex. 242 c, λαβόντες αὐτῶν τοὺς ἡγέμονας Λακεδαιμονίους ἐν τῇ Σφαγίᾳ. The description given by Thucydides is however not free from topographical difficulties: see note on ch. 3, 14.

παρατείνουσα—‘stretching along’: τείνω and its compounds are sometimes used intransitively of geographical position. ἐγγὺς ἐπικειμένη—‘lying close off’: so ch. 44, 28, ἐς τὰς ἐπικειμένας νήσους.

τῇ μέν...τῇ δέ—‘at one the other’. διάπλουν—‘a passage for two ships (abreast)’; the accusative is in apposition to the preceding ἔσπλους. ἄλλη ἤπειρος is the main land on the south of the harbour, which was now occupied by the Lacedaemonians.

καὶ μέγεθος—‘and in length was about 15 stades pretty nearly’; both περί and μάλιστα are used in the sense of ‘about’ to give dimensions roughly. Fifteen stades would be about 3000 yards, whereas the modern Sphagia is said to be upwards of 2 1/2 miles in length.

ἀντιπρώροις—‘with the prows facing the enemy’: so ch. 14, 4, ἀντιπρώρους: vii. 34, νῆες ἀντἰπρωροι ἐμβαλλόμεναι, ‘ships struck bow to bow’: vii. 36, τὸ ἀντίπρωρον ξυγκροῦσαι, ‘ramming stem-on’: Tac. Hist. ii. 14, conversa et minaci fronte. βύζην—‘closely’ from βύω ‘to stuff full’. The entrances were so narrow that it was possible to close them by placing the ships side by side with their beaks pointing outwards. On the other hand in 413 the Syracusans closed the mouth of their harbour by anchoring their ships cross-ways (πλαγίαις), having a much wider entrance to secure (vii. 59).

οὕτω γάρ—‘for so, they considered, both the island would be hostile to the Athenians and the main land, which did not admit of landing’. ἔσεσθαι, like the subsequent ἕξειν and ἐκπολιορκήσειν, depends on the sense ‘they hoped, they expected’ supplied from the preceding sentence: see note on ἐπὶ τοῦτο γὰρ ξυνεκπλεῦσαι, ch. 3, 10. For ἔχουσαν see note on προσβολὴν ἔχον ch. 1, 7: similarly οὐχ ἕξειν ὅθεν, line 42, means ‘would not present a point from which’.

τὰ γὰρ αὐτῆς τῆς Πύλου—the coast to the north of the bay, facing the main sea. This offered no harbour where the Athenians could establish a naval station, such as was occupied by the English at Balaclava. The island of Sphacteria was held by the enemy's troops, as was also the mainland to the south forming the shore of the bay. Thus the Athenian fleet would be unable to succour their countrymen in Pylos, and the garrison being unprovided must shortly surrender.

ὠφελήσουσι τοὺς αὑτῶν—indic. fut. after ὅθεν: so i. 107, σκέψασθαι ὅτῳ τρόπῳ διαπορεύσονται, ‘in what way they should cross’.

σίτου τε οὐκ ἐνόντος—‘as there was no provision in the place, and it had been occupied with slender preparation’; the gen. abs. is here followed by the participle agreeing with χωρίον; see note on line 21. I follow Classen in reading κατειλημμένον for the MSS. κατειλημμένου, which would be gen. abs. agreeing with χωρίου understood. δι᾽ ὀλίγης παρασκευῆς is one of the many adverbial expressions with διά, like διὰ προφυλακῆς, ch. 30, 5.

ὡς δ᾽ ἐδόκει...καὶ διεβίβαζον—‘as they determined, so they sent the men across, selecting them by lot from all the lochi’, lit. ‘went on to send’. The lochus was one of the larger divisions of the Spartan army: see Arnold's note on v. 68, where a calculation is made of the Lacedaemonian force present at the field of Mantinea in 418, when seven λόχοι were engaged: see also Grote, vol. ii. ch. 8, on the military divisions of Sparta.

οἱ δὲ τελευταῖοι—‘those who crossed last and were caught in the island’, i.e. whose retreat was cut off by the Athenians; or those who were ‘taken in it’ on its capture, in which case the slain are included, cf. ch. 38, 30. ἐγκαταληφθέντες —ch. 116, 5, ὄσους ἐγκατέλαβε, ‘all that he captured in the city’: so iii. 33, (νῆες) ἐγκαταληφθεῖσαι, ‘caught in a place’.

καὶ Εἵλωτες οἱ περὶ αὐτούς—‘besides the Helots attached to their service’, called θεράποντες ch. 16, 11; their number is not stated, possibly each Lacedaemonian had one in attendance on him. The Helots, or country serfs, the main body of whom were Messenian Dorians, were often employed in military service. Thus in 424 they furnished seven hundred heavy-armed men for the expedition led by Brasidas into Thrace (ch. 80).

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hide References (18 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (18):
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.27
    • Herodotus, Histories, 5.92
    • Plato, Gorgias, 490a
    • Plato, Menexenus, 242c
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.107
    • Thucydides, Histories, 2.10
    • Thucydides, Histories, 2.7
    • Thucydides, Histories, 3.15
    • Thucydides, Histories, 3.33
    • Thucydides, Histories, 3.81
    • Thucydides, Histories, 5.68
    • Thucydides, Histories, 7.18
    • Thucydides, Histories, 7.34
    • Thucydides, Histories, 7.36
    • Thucydides, Histories, 7.59
    • Thucydides, Histories, 8.7
    • Tacitus, Historiae, 2.14
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 6, 19
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