They determined to go at daybreak and relieve the place. But Phrynichus the Athenian1
general had certain information from Leros of their approach, and, although his colleagues wanted to remain and risk a battle, he refused and declared that he would neither himself fight, nor allow them or any one else to fight if he could help it.
For when they might discover the exact number of the enemy's ships and the proportion which their own bore to them, and, before engaging, make adequate preparations at their leisure, he would not be so foolish as to risk all through fear of disgrace.
There was no dishonour in Athenians retreating before an enemy's fleet when circumstances required. But there would be the deepest dishonour under any circumstances in a defeat; and the city would then not only incur disgrace, but would be in the utmost danger. Even if their preparations were complete and satisfactory, Athens after her recent disasters ought not to take the offensive, or in any case not without absolute necessity;
and now when they were not compelled, why should they go out of their way to court danger? He urged them to put on board their wounded, and their infantry, and all the stores which they had brought with them, but to leave behind the plunder obtained from the enemy's country, that their ships might be lighter;
they should sail back to Samos, and there uniting all their forces, they might go on making attacks upon Miletus when opportunity offered. His advice was followed.23
And not on this occasion only, but quite as much afterwards, whenever Phrynichus had to act, he showed himself to be a man of great sagacity4
.—So the Athenians departed that very evening from Miletus without completing their victory, and the Argives, hurrying away from Samos in a rage after their disaster, went home.