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τὰς τριήρεις—three in number, five having been left at first with Demosthenes, two of which he had despatched to Zacynthus. Classen suggests αἳ περιῆσαν αὑτῷ, ‘which he had remaining’, instead of αἵπερ ἦσαν, there being no obvious reason for the use of ὅσπερ in the passage.

ἀνασπάσας ὑπὸ τὸ τείχισμα—‘having dragged up under the fortifications and secured with a stockade’. προσεσταύρωσεν—either ‘put a stockade to’ the ships, or ‘added them by a stockade to’ the line of defence, i.e. included them in an outwork of palisading. Thus the Greeks intrenched their fleet at Troy, and the Persians at Mycale (Hdt. ix. 96, 7). προεσταύρωσε, ‘put palisades before’, has been proposed as a correction: the word is used vi. 75, τὴν θάλασσαν προεσταύρωσαν, of the Syracusans who fringed their shores with stakes, to prevent the Athenians from landing near the city.

ἀσπίσι τε φαύλαις—‘with poor shields and for the most part wicker’. Here we must either regard τε as out of place, τε and καὶ coupling φαύλαις and οἰσυΐναις, or we must consider that the sentence is irregular in construction, beginning as if a second substantive were to be connected with ἀσπίσι. Similar irregularities in the position of τε are common, e.g. ch. 10, 9, ἢν ἐθέλωμέν τε μεῖναι καὶ μὴ...καταπροδοῦναι.

For a full discussion of the usage of τε see Jowett on i. 9, καὶ ναυτικῷ τε ἅμα: also Shilleto on the same passage. Both authorities consider that the word sometimes bears in Thucydides the sense of too, which is found in lyric and dramatic poetry and in Herodotus.

ἐκ λῃστρικῆς—‘from a piratical thirty-oared boat and a pinnace belonging to certain Messenians who happened to have arrived’; doubtless Messenians from Naupactus, who were plundering the Laconian coast. Both λῃστρικῆς and τριακοντόρου are adjectives agreeing with νεώς understood. A κέλης or κελήτιον is mentioned as accompanying a trireme, ch. 120, 10.

ὁπλῖταί τε—‘of these Messenians was made up a force of about forty heavy-armed men’: γίγνομαι is very commonly used of numbers in the sense of amounting to: ch. 23, 18, αι πᾶσαι ἑβδομήκοντα ἐγένοντο: cf. ch. 39, 1.

τοὺς μὲν οὖν πολλούς—‘the greater part both of those without (full) arms and of those who were armed’. By ὅπλα is denoted especially the full equipment of a heavy-armed soldier (ὀπλίτης): so ὅπλα ἔχοντες, ch. 33, 17.

We are not told the total number of the men under Demosthenes, but we can make an approximate calculation. He had forty Messenians, and the crews of three triremes. A trireme was manned by about 170 rowers (ναῦται), some half-dozen officers, and a certain number of ἐπιβάται, heavy-armed men serving as marines. Of these last there were at this time 10 to each ship, according to Arnold's note on iii. 95: Classen says 20: see also Grots, vol. iv. ch. 49. When the two ships were sent to Zacynthus their ἐπιβάται may have been left at Pylos. Thus the whole Athenian force amounted to about 600 men, the greater part hastily and imperfectly armed.

ἀπολεξάμενος—‘having picked out for himself’: the middle participle is similarly used with αὐτός, v. 8.

ἔξω τοῦ τείχους—Demosthenes expected that the descent of the enemy would be made on the point beneath the walls of Pylos, outside the bay on the north and looking toward the main sea.

ἐς χωρία μέν...σφίσι δέ—the two clauses with μέν and δέ give the pros and cons for attacking at the point in question; on the one hand (μέν) landing was difficult, on the other (δέ) the works were here incomplete: the clauses do not however correspond in construction, ἐς χωρία μέν being connected with ἀποβαίνειν, while in the second clause the finite verb ἡγεῖτο is introduced.

σφίσι δὲ τοῦ τείχους—‘as their wall was weakest at this point’: σφίσι corresponds to ἡμῖν in oratio directa, and includes both Demosthenes and his men; σφεῖς and σφέτερος being often thus used in reference to the thought or words of a single person. ‘Our wall is here the weakest’ says Demosthenes: so v. 72, κελεύσαντος αὐτοῦ σφίσι προσμίξαι, ‘when (Agis) had given the order—close up to us’ see note on ch. 36, 3, ἄλλως ἔφη πονεῖν σφᾶς.

ἐπισπάσασθαι αὐτούς—these words present considerable difficulty. We have, dependent on ἡγεῖτο, the aorist middle ἐπισπάσασθαι, followed by the future προθυμηθήσεσθαι. ἐπισπάσασθαι is transitive in sense, meaning ‘to draw to oneself, induce’ with inf., as in v. 111: so ἐπισπᾶσθαι with inf. Xen. Cyr. v. 5. 10. The natural meaning of the construction is, ‘he thought that he had drawn them on so that they would be eager’; but this is not satisfactory in sense. The meaning required is, ‘he considered that it (the weakness of the works) would draw them on to be eager’. Besides the awkwardness thus involved in supplying the subject to ἐπισπάσασθαι from the genitive absolute τοῦ τείχους ὄντος, this necessitates giving a future meaning to the aor. inf. following ἠγεῖτο. Whether it will bear such a meaning is by no means clear. The same question arises on ii. 3, ἐνόμισαν κρατῆσαι: and perhaps on iii. 24, νομίζοντες ὑποτοπῆσαι.

There is no doubt that the aor. inf. is used in reference to future things after phrases denoting expectation, such as ἐλπίζειν, ἐλπίς ἐστιν, εἰκός ἐστιν etc.: but it does not follow that words which express merely a thought or statement, like ἡγεῖτο in this passage, can be used in the same way. Madvig (§ 172 R.) considers that instances of such construction ‘undoubtedly rest upon a false reading, either ἄν having been accidentally omitted, or the aorist written by mistake for the future’. Goodwin however (Greek Moods and Tenses § 32) points out that ‘unless we decide to correct a large number of passages against the authority of the MSS, we must admit even this anomalous construction; although it is to be considered strictly exceptional’.

In the passage before us it is perhaps best to cut the knot by reading the fut. ἐπισπάσεσθαι, passive in sense, with αὐτούς as its subject—‘he considered that they would be led on to be eager’, or possibly ‘would be ready to be led on’. It may be that προθυμήσεσθαι is only an explanation of ἐπισπάσεσθαι, which has found its way into the text: on the other hand a redundancy of almost synonymous infinitives is by no means foreign to the style of Thucydides; while the future inf. is often found after words of thinking, wishing, etc. e.g. i. 27, ἐδεήθησαν ναυσὶ σφᾶς ξυμπροπέμψειν.

οὔτε γὰρ αὐτοί—‘for as they themselves never expected to be overmastered at sea, and therefore had not been building the works with any strength, so if the enemy could force the landing, the place, he felt, was at once within their grasp’. οὔτε...τε—lit. ‘neither...and’: so ἐλπίζοντες—‘looking for, expecting’: ii. 11, ἐλπίζειν δια μαχης ἰεναι αὐτούς.—ἰσχυρόν—predicate agreeing with τεῖχος: after the preceding οὔτε the negative οὐκ is of course redundant. The imperfect ἐτείχιζον means either ‘had been building’, or ‘had been for building’, i.e. thought fit or purposed to do so.

ἐκείνοις τε—dativus commodi after ἁλώσιμον γίγνεσθαι. βιάζεσθαι with accusative, meaning ‘to carry by force’ occurs again ch. 11, 23 and ch. 36, 6: Thucydides uses it also without a case, meaning ‘to act by force, force one's way’, and as a passive. γίγνεσθαι, ‘to come to be’, here denotes what would follow as an immediate and necessary consequence: so ch. 10, 13, ξύμμαχον γίγνεται. The infinitive depends on the sense continued from ἠγεῖτο in the previous sentence.

κατὰ τοῦτο—‘at this point’: so iii. 89, where it is the antecedent to : or possibly ‘on this plan’, i.e. with this view and purpose: like v. 7, κατὰ θέαν τοῦ χωρίου, = ‘to reconnoitre the place’.

παρεκελεύσατο τοιάδε—‘exhorted them to the following effect’: τοιάδε, ‘of this sort’, in relating speeches, means as follows: corresponding to which we have τοσαῦτα ‘so much’ (as in ch. 11, 1) or τοιαῦτα, both equivalent to as aforesaid.

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hide References (14 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (14):
    • Herodotus, Histories, 9.96
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.27
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.9
    • Thucydides, Histories, 2.11
    • Thucydides, Histories, 2.3
    • Thucydides, Histories, 3.24
    • Thucydides, Histories, 3.89
    • Thucydides, Histories, 3.95
    • Thucydides, Histories, 5.111
    • Thucydides, Histories, 5.7
    • Thucydides, Histories, 5.72
    • Thucydides, Histories, 5.8
    • Thucydides, Histories, 6.75
    • Xenophon, Cyropaedia, 5.5.10
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