The Athenians were seriously alarmed at the loss of Amphipolis; the place was very useful to them, and supplied them with a revenue, and with1
timber which they imported for shipbuilding. As far as the Strymon the Lacedaemonians could always have found a way to the allies of Athens, if the Thessalians allowed them to pass; but until they gained possession of the bridge they could proceed no further, because, for a long way above, the river forms a large lake, and below, towards Eion, there were triremes on guard. All difficulty seemed now to be removed, and the Athenians feared that more of their allies would revolt.
For Brasidas in all his actions showed himself reasonable, and whenever he made a speech lost no opportunity of declaring that he was sent to emancipate Hellas.
The cities which were subject to Athens, when they heard of the taking of Amphipolis and of his promises and of his gentleness, were more impatient than ever to rise, and privately sent embassies to him, asking him to come and help them, every one of them wanting to be first.
They thought that there was no danger, for they had under-estimated the Athenian power, which afterwards proved its greatness and the magnitude of their mistake; they judged rather by their own illusive wishes than by the safe rule of prudence. For such is the manner of men; what they like is always seen by them in the light of unreflecting hope, what they dislike they peremptorily set aside by an arbitrary conclusion.
Moreover, the Athenians had lately received a blow in Boeotia, and Brasidas told the allies what was likely to attract them, but untrue, that at Nisaea the Athenians had refused to fight with his unassisted forces2
. And so they grew bold, and were quite confident that no army would ever reach them.
Above all, they were influenced by the pleasurable excitement of the moment; they were now for the first time going to find out of what the Lacedaemonians were capable when in real earnest, and therefore they were willing to risk anything. The Athenians were aware of their disaffection, and as far as they could, at short notice and in winter time, sent garrisons to the different cities. Brasidas also despatched a message to the Lacedaemonians requesting them to let him have additional forces, and he himself began to build triremes on the Strymon.
But they would not second his efforts because their leading men were jealous of him, and also because they preferred to recover the prisoners taken in the island and bring the war to an end.