|The Story of Greece|
|by Mary Macgregor|
| Stories from the history of ancient Greece beginning with mythical and legendary stories of gods and heroes and ending with the conquests of Alexander the Great. Gives short accounts of battles and sieges, and of the men who made Greece a great nation. Ages 10-14 |
AMPHIPOLIS SURRENDERS TO BRASIDAS
 AMPHIPOLIS belonged to the Athenians, who had sent Thucydides and
Eucles to guard the city lest it should be attacked by
the Spartans. Thucydides had not only the city but a
large district also to protect, and he was at this time
stationed with his troops at some distance from
Amphipolis, while Eucles was in the city itself.
The bridge over the Strymon, which led to the city, was
carelessly guarded. So when, on a cold and wintry day,
Brasidas reached the river, he took the bridge without
difficulty, making prisoners the few soldiers who held
Messengers were at once sent to Thucydides to tell him
that the Spartans had seized the bridge, and to beg him
to come as quickly as possible to protect the city.
Before the day was over, Thucydides had reached Eion,
at the mouth of the Strymon. But his speed was of no
avail, for Amphipolis had already surrendered, tempted
by the easy terms that Brasidas had offered.
When the Athenians heard that the city was lost, they
were indignant with Thucydides, and chiefly through the
influence of Cleon, who disliked him, he was sent into
The punishment was severe, but Thucydides was not idle
during his banishment. He traveled from place to
place, and everywhere he went he paid great attention
to the ways of the people and to the manner in which
their cities were governed. He himself wrote,
"Associating with both sides, with the Peloponnesians
quite as much as with
 the Athenians, because of my
exile, I was thus enabled to watch quietly the course
After having studied the "course of events," Thucydides
began to write about the Peloponnesian war, and he
became the greatest of all the historians of Greece.
After the surrender of Amphipolis in 424 B.C., city
after city forsook its allegiance to Athens. Scione
did not even wait for the Spartans to demand admission,
they opened their gates and begged Brasidas to enter.
His presence pleased the people well, and when he had
spoken to them their enthusiasm knew no bounds. They
sent for a crown of gold and placed it on his head,
calling him the "liberator of Hellas." Many of the
people, too, cast garlands, over him as they were used
to do to victors at a race.
Until now Brasidas had fought loyally for the sake of
his country, but after the crown of gold had rested on
his head he grew more ambitious to win fame for himself
than glory for his country. It was his ambition that
made him now do all that he could to keep Sparta from
making peace with Athens, as she wished to do.
Cleon, too, was eager that the war should continue, not
in order to win renown for himself, but rather that
Athens might regain the empire that Brasidas was
snatching from her grasp.
Two years after the surrender of Amphipolis, Cleon
urged the Athenians to make an effort to retake the
city. His rough eloquence persuaded them to undertake
the task. He was himself appointed general, and was
sent to Thrace at the head of a large army.
As he marched through the country he took several towns
before he reached Eion, at the mouth of the river
Here he halted, meaning to wait for reinforcements.
But his soldiers had little respect for their general.
Was he not after all only a leather-merchant? What
could he know about war? And they clamoured to be led
 against the enemy. Cleon did not dare to refuse to do
as his army wished, and he ordered his whole force to
march toward Amphipolis to find out the strength of the
Brasidas was encamped with his army on the top of a
hill, near to the city, from which he could watch every
movement of the enemy.
When he saw the Athenians approaching, he ordered his
men to march into the town where the Spartan Clearidas
was now governor.
Cleon at once supposed that Brasidas had taken shelter
within the walls of Amphipolis so as to avoid a battle.
Feeling no longer anxious, he left his army near the
city, but not drawn up ready for battle, and himself
rode carelessly forward to look at the surrounding
Meanwhile some Athenian soldiers heard the restless
movement of men and horses within the walls, others
looking under the gates saw many feet gathering
together. It was clear that preparations were being
made by the Spartans to sally out and attack them.
A messenger was sent in haste to find Cleon. The
general no sooner heard the report than he hurried back
to his army, and commanded it at once to retreat toward
Eion. To do this the Athenians had to march past
Amphipolis with their right sides unprotected, for
their shields were carried always on their left arm,
which was now the farthest from the walls of the city.
The men had no confidence in their general, and they
began to retreat in disorder. From within the city,
Brasidas was watching with keen eyes the movements of
the enemy. Suddenly he cried, "These men will never
withstand our onset. Look at their quivering spears
and nodding heads. Men who are going to fight never
march in such a fashion as this. Open the gates at
once that I may rush on them forthwith."
So the gates of the city were flung open and out dashed
Brasidas followed by his men, as he charged right into
 centre of the Athenian army. The left wing, seized with
panic, fled. Clearidas meanwhile led a body of men
against the right wing, and a fierce struggle followed.
Cleon, less at home on a battlefield than in the
assembly at Athens, grew frightened at the unusual
sights and sounds, and fled, leaving his army without a
leader. As he fled an arrow pierced him and he fell to
the ground, wounded to death.
Brasidas also, as he turned to go to the help of
Clearidas, was wounded. His followers carried him
within the walls of the city. He lived long enough to
know that the Athenians were utterly defeated.
The people of Amphipolis had learned to love Brasidas,
and he was buried with great splendour in the
market-place. A temple was built to his honour, and
every year sacrifices were offered and games were held
in memory of the brave soldier.
So deep was the affection of the people that they
determined to forget that their city had been founded
by an Athenian, and henceforth to count Brasidas the
Spartan the true founder of Amphipolis.
As Cleon and Brasidas were both dead, the peace party,
with Nicias at its head, was able to arrange terms with
the king of Sparta, and in spring, 421 B.C., the Peace
of Nicias was signed. The first part of the
Peloponnesian War, which had begun ten years before,
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