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90. The Lacedaemonians knew what would happen and sent an embassy to Athens. They would1 rather themselves have seen neither the Athenians nor any one else protected by a wall; but their main motive was the importunity of their allies, who dreaded not only the Athenian navy, which had until lately been quite small, but also the spirit which had animated them in the Persian War. [2] So the Lacedaemonians requested them not to restore their walls2, but on the contrary to join with them in razing the fortifications of other towns outside the Peloponnesus which had them standing. They did not reveal their real wishes or the suspicion which they entertained of the Athenians, but argued that the Barbarian, if he again attacked them, would then have no strong place3 which he could make his head-quarters as he had lately made Thebes. Peloponnesus would be a sufficient retreat for all Hellas and a good base of operations. [3] To this the Athenians, by the advice of Themistocles, replied, that they would send an embassy of their own to discuss the matter, and so got rid of the Spartan envoys. He then proposed that he should himself start at once for Sparta, and that they should give him colleagues who were not to go immediately, but were to wait until the wall reached the lowest height which could possibly be defended. The whole people, who were in the city, men, women, and children, should join in the work, and they must spare no building, private or public, which could be of use, but demolish them all. [4] Having given these instructions and intimated that he would manage affairs at Sparta, he departed. [5] On his arrival he did not at once present himself officially to the magistrates, but delayed and made excuses; and when any of them asked him ‘why he did not appear before the assembly,’ he said ‘that he was waiting for his colleagues, who had been detained by some engagement; he was daily expecting them, and wondered that they had not appeared.’

1 The Lacedaemonians at the instigation other allies try to prevent the Athenians from rebuilding their walls.

2 Cp. 1.69 init.

3 B.C. 479–478

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