126.In the meantime they sent ambassadors to the Athenians with certain criminations to the end that if they would give ear to nothing, they might have all the pretext that could be for raising of the war.
And first the Lacedaemonians, by their ambassadors to the Athenians, required them to banish such as were under curse of the goddess Minerva for pollution of sanctuary.Which pollution was thus.
There had been one Cylon an Athenian, a man that had been victor in the Olympian exercises, of much nobility and power amongst those of old time, and that had married the daughter of Theagenes, a Megarean, in those days tyrant of Megara.
To this Cylon asking counsel at Delphi the God answered that on the greatest festival day he should seize the citadel of Athens.
He therefore, having gotten forces of Theagenes and persuaded his friends to the enterprise, seized on the citadel at the time of the Olympic holidays in Peloponnesus with intention to take upon him the tyranny, esteeming the feast of Jupiter to be the greatest and to touch withal on his particular in that he had been victor in the Olympian exercises.
But whether the feast spoken of were meant to be the greatest in Attica or in some other place, neither did he himself consider nor the oracle make manifest.For there is also amongst the Athenians the Diasia, which is called the greatest feast of Jupiter Meilichius and is celebrated without the city, wherein in the confluence of the whole people many men offered sacrifices not of living creatures but such as was the fashion of the natives of the place.
But he, supposing he had rightly understood the oracle, laid hand to the enterprise.
And when the Athenians heard of it, they came with all their forces out of the fields and lying before the citadel besieged it.But the time growing long, the Athenians, wearied with the siege, went most of them away, and left both the guard of the citadel and the whole business to the nine archontes with absolute authority to order the same as to them it should seem good.
For at that time, most of the affairs of the commonweal were administered by those nine archontes.
Now those that were besieged with Cylon were for want of both victual and water in very evil estate, and therefore Cylon and a brother of his fled privily out;
but the rest, when they were pressed and some of them dead with famine, sat down as suppliants by the altar that is in the citadel.And the Athenians, to whose charge was committed the guard of the place, raising them upon promise to do them no harm, put them all to the sword.Also they had put to death some of those that had taken sanctuary at the altars of the severe goddesses as they were going away.And from this the Athenians, both themselves and their posterity, were called accursed and sacrilegious persons.
Hereupon the Athenians banished those that were under the curse;and Cleomenes, a Lacedaemonian, together with the Athenians in a sedition, banished them afterwards again, and not only so but disinterred and cast forth the bodies of such of them as were dead.Nevertheless there returned of them afterwards again, and there are of their race in the city unto this day.
The English works of Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury. Thucydides. Thomas Hobbes. translator. London. Bohn. 1843.
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