Alcibiades, accordingly, suspecting that some treachery was afoot among them, went away. But on the fifth day, when the Athenians had sailed over to the enemy and back again, as was now their wont, very carelessly and contemptuously, Lysander, as he sent out his reconnoitering ships, ordered their commanders, as soon as they saw that the Athenians had disembarked, to put about and row back with all speed, and when they were half way across, to hoist a brazen shield at the prow, as a signal for the onset.
And he himself sailed round and earnestly exhorted the pilots and trierarchs to keep all their crews at their post, sailors and soldiers alike, and as soon as the signal was given, to row with ardor and vigor against the enemy. When, therefore, the shield was hoisted on the lookout ships, and the trumpet on the admiral's ship signalled the attack, the ships sailed forth, and the land forces ran their fastest along the shore to seize the promontory.
The distance between the two continents at this point is fifteen furlongs, and such was the zealous ardor of the rowers that it was quickly consumed. Canon, the Athenian general, who was the first to see from the land the onset of the fleet, suddenly shouted orders to embark, and deeply stirred by the threatening disaster, called upon some, besought others, and forced others still to man the triremes.
But his eager efforts ware of no avail, since the men were scattered. For just as soon as they had disembarked, since they expected no trouble, some went to market, some walked about the country, some lay down to sleep in their tents, and some began to get their suppers ready, being as far as possible removed from any thought of what was to happen, through the inexperience of their commanders.
The shouts and splashing oars of the oncoming enemy were already heard, when Canon, with eight ships, sailed stealthily away, and making his escape, proceeded to Cyprus, to Evagoras; but the Peloponnesians fell upon the rest of the ships, some of which they took entirely empty, and others they disabled while their crews were still getting aboard. And the men, coming up unarmed and in straggling fashion, perished at their ships, or if they fled by land, their enemies, who had disembarked, slew them.
Lysander took three thousand men prisoners, together with their generals, and captured the whole fleet, excepting the Paralus1
and the ships that had made their escape with Conon. So after plundering his enemy's camp and taking their ships in tow, he sailed back to Lampsacus, to the sound of pipes and hymns of victory. He had wrought a work of the greatest magnitude with the least toil and effort, and had brought to a close in a single hour a war which, in length, and the incredible variety of its incidents and fortunes, surpassed all its predecessors.
Its struggles and issues had assumed ten thousand changing shapes, and it had cost Hellas more generals than all her previous wars together, and yet it was brought to a close by the prudence and ability of one man. Therefore some actually thought the result due to divine intervention.