(2.53) There were other and worse forms of lawlessness which the plague introduced at Athens. Men who had hitherto concealed what they took pleasure in, now grew bolder. For, seeing the sudden change,--how the rich died in a moment, and those who had nothing immediately inherited their property,--they reflected that life and riches were alike transitory, and they resolved to enjoy themselves while they could, and to think only of pleasure. Who would be willing to sacrifice himself to the law of honour when he knew not whether he would ever live to be held in honour? The pleasure of the moment and any sort of thing which conduced to it took the place both of honour and of expediency. No fear of Gods or law of man deterred a criminal. Those who saw all perishing alike, thought that the worship or neglect of the Gods made no difference. For offences against human law no punishment was to be feared; no one would live long enough to be called to account. Already a far heavier sentence had been passed and was hanging over a man's head; before that fell, why should he not take a little pleasure?
(2.54) Such was the grievous calamity which now afflicted the Athenians; within the walls their people were dying, and without, their country was being ravaged. In their troubles they naturally called to mind a verse which the elder men among them declared to have been current long ago:
A Dorian war will come and a plague with it.'
There was a dispute about the precise expression; some saying that limos, a famine, and not loimos, a plague, was the original word. Nevertheless, as might have been expected, for men's memories reflected their sufferings, the argument in favour of loimos prevailed at the time. But if ever in future years another Dorian war arises which happens to be accompanied by a famine, they will probably repeat the verse in the other form. The answer of the oracle to the Lacedaemonians when the God was asked 'whether they should go to war or not,' and he replied 'that if they fought with all their might, they would conquer, and that he himself would take their part,'31 was not forgotten by those who had heard of it, and they quite imagined that they were witnessing the fulfilment of his words. The disease certainly did set in immediately after the invasion of the Peloponnesians, and did not spread into Peloponnesus in any degree worth speaking of, while Athens felt its ravages most severely, and next to Athens the places which were most populous. Such was the history of the plague.32
(2.55) After the Peloponnesians had wasted the plain they entered what are called the coast lands (Paralus) and penetrated as far as Laurium, where are the silver mines belonging to the Athenians. First they ravaged that part of the coast which looks towards Peloponnesus, and afterwards that situated towards Euboea and Andros. But Pericles, who was still general, continued to insist, as in the former invasion, that the Athenians should remain within their walls.
(2.56) Before, however, the Peloponnesians had left the plain and moved forward into the coast lands he had begun to equip an expedition of a hundred ships against Peloponnesus. When all was ready he put to sea, having on board four thousand Athenian hoplites and three hundred cavalry conveyed in horse transports which the Athenians then constructed for the first time out of their old ships. The Chians and Lesbians joined them with fifty vessels. The expedition did not actually put to sea until the Peloponnesians had reached the coast lands. Arriving at Epidaurus in Peloponnesus the Athenians devastated most of the country and attacked the city, which at one time they were in hopes of taking, but did not quite succeed. Setting sail again they ravaged the territory of Troezen, Halieis, and Hermionè, which are all places on the coast of Peloponnesus. Again putting off they came to Prasiae, a small town on the coast of Laconia, ravaged the country, and took and plundered the place. They then returned home and found that the Peloponnesians had also returned and were no longer in Attica.
(2.57) All the time during which the Peloponnesians remained in the country and the armament of the Athenians continued at sea the plague was raging both among the troops and in the city. The fear which it inspired was said to have induced the enemy to leave Attica sooner than they intended; for they heard from deserters that the disease was in the city, and likewise saw the burning of the dead. Still in this invasion the whole country was ravaged by them, and they remained about forty days, which was the longest stay they ever made.