‘The Athenians say, Plataeans, that they never hitherto, since we
became their allies, on any occasion abandoned us to an enemy, nor will they
now neglect us, but will help us according to their ability; and they adjure you by the oaths which your fathers swore, to keep the
On the delivery of this message by the
envoys, the Plataeans resolved not to be unfaithful to the Athenians but to
endure, if it must be, seeing their lands laid waste and any other trials
that might come to them, and not to send out again, but to answer from the
wall that it was impossible for them to do as the Lacedaemonians proposed.
As soon as be had received this answer, King Archidamus proceeded first to
make a solemn appeal to the gods and heroes of the country in words
following:—‘Ye gods and heroes of the Plataean
territory, be my witnesses that not as aggressors originally, nor until
these had first departed from the common oath, did we invade this land, in
which our fathers offered you their prayers before defeating the Medes, and
which you made auspicious to the Hellenic arms; nor shall we be aggressors in the measures to which we may now resort,
since we have made many fair proposals but have not been successful.
Graciously accord that those who were the first to offend may be punished
for it, and that vengeance may be attained by those who would righteously
After this appeal to the gods Archidamus put
his army in motion.
First he enclosed the town with a palisade formed of the fruit-trees which
they cut down, to prevent further egress from Plataea; next day they threw up a mound against the city, hoping that the largeness
of the force employed would insure the speedy reduction of the place.
They accordingly cut down timber from Cithaeron, and built it up on either
side, laying it like lattice-work to serve as a wall to keep the mound from
spreading abroad, and carried to it wood and stones and earth and whatever
other material might help to complete it.
They continued to work at the mound for seventy days and nights without
intermission, being divided into relief parties to allow of some being
employed in carrying while others took sleep and refreshment; the Lacedaemonian officer attached to each contingent keeping the men to
But the Plataeans observing the progress of the mound, constructed a wall
of wood and fixed it upon that part of the city wall against which the mound
was being erected, and built up bricks inside it which they took from the
The timbers served to bind the building together, and to prevent its
becoming weak as it advanced in height; it had also a covering of skins and hides, which protected the wood-work
against the attacks of burning missiles and allowed the men to work in
Thus the wall was raised to a great height, and the mound opposite made no
less rapid progress.
The Plataeans also thought of another expedient; they pulled out part of the wall upon which the mound abutted, and carried
the earth into the city.
Discovering this the Peloponnesians twisted
up clay in wattles of reed and threw it into the breach formed in the mound,
in order to give it consistency and prevent its being carried away like the
Stopped in this way the Plataeans changed their mode of operation, and
digging a mine from the town calculated their way under the mound, and began
to carry off its material as before.
This went on for a long while without the enemy outside finding it out, so
that for all they threw on the top their mound made no progress in
proportion, being carried away from beneath and constantly settling down in
But the Plataeans fearing that even thus they might not be able to hold out
against the superior numbers of the enemy, had yet another invention.
They stopped working at the large building in front of the mound, and
starting at either end of it inside from the old low wall, built a new one
in the form of a crescent running in towards the town in order that in the
event of the great wall being taken this might remain, and the enemy have to
throw up a fresh mound against it, and as they advanced within might not
only have their trouble over again, but also be exposed to missiles on their