(5.82) In the ensuing summer the Dictidians in Mount Athos revolted from the Athenians to the Chalcidians; and the Lacedaemonians resettled the affairs of Achaia upon a footing more favourable to their interests than hitherto. The popular party at Argos, reconstituting themselves by degrees, plucked up courage, and, taking advantage of the festival of the Gymnopaediae at Lacedaemon, attacked the oligarchy. A battle took place in the city: the popular party won, and either killed or expelled their enemies. The oligarchy had sought help from their friends the Lacedaemonians, but they did not come for some time; at last they put off the festival and went to their aid. When they arrived at Tegea they heard that the oligarchs had been defeated. They would proceed no further, but in spite of the entreaties of the fugitives returned home and resumed the celebration of the festival. Not long afterwards envoys came to them both from the party now established in Argos and from those who had been driven out, and in the presence of their allies, after hearing many pleas from both sides, they passed a vote condemning the victorious faction; they then resolved to send an expedition to Argos, but delays occurred and time was lost. Meanwhile the democracy at Argos, fearing the Lacedaemonians, and again courting the Athenian alliance in which their hopes were centred, began building Long Walls to the sea, in order that if they were blockaded by land they might have the advantage, with Athenian help, of introducing provisions by water. Certain other states in Peloponnesus were privy to this project. The whole Argive people, the citizens themselves, their wives, and their slaves, set to work upon the wall, and the Athenians sent them carpenters and masons from Athens. So the summer ended.
(5.83) In the ensuing winter the Lacedaemonians, hearing of the progress of the work, made an expedition to Argos with their allies, all but the Corinthians; there was also a party at Argos itself acting in their interest. Agis the son of Archidamus, king of the Lacedaemonians, led the army. The support which they expected to find at Argos was not forthcoming; the walls however, which were not yet finished, were captured by them and razed to the ground; they also seized Hysiae, a place in the Argive territory, and put to death all the free men whom they caught; they then withdrew, and returned to their several cities. Next the Argives in their turn made an expedition into the territory of Phlius, which they ravaged because the Phliasians had received the Argive refugees, most of whom had settled there; they then returned home.
During the same winter the Athenians blockaded Perdiccas in Macedonia, complaining of the league which he had made with the Argives and Lacedaemonians; and also that he had been false to their alliance when they had prepared to send an army against the Chalcidians and against Amphipolis under the command of Nicias the son of Niceratus. The army was in fact disbanded chiefly owing to his withdrawal. So he became their enemy. Thus the winter ended, and with it the fifteenth year of the war.
(5.84) In the ensuing summer, Alcibiades sailed to Argos with twenty ships, and seized any of the Argives who were still suspected to be of the Lacedaemonian faction, to the number of three hundred; and the Athenians deposited them in the subject islands near at hand. The Athenians next made an expedition against the island of Melos with thirty ships of their own, six Chian, and two Lesbian, twelve hundred hoplites and three hundred archers besides twenty mounted archers of their own, and about fifteen hundred hoplites furnished by their allies in the islands. The Melians are colonists of the Lacedaemonians who would not submit to Athens like the other islanders. At first they were neutral and took no part. But when the Athenians tried to coerce them by ravaging their lands, they were driven into open hostilities.76 The generals, Cleomedes the son of Lycomedes and Tisias the son of Tisimachus, encamped with the Athenian forces on the island. But before they did the country any harm they sent envoys to negotiate with the Melians. Instead of bringing these envoys before the people, the Melians desired them to explain their errand to the magistrates and to the dominant class. They spoke as follows:
(5.85) 'Since we are not allowed to speak to the people, lest, forsooth, a multitude should be deceived by seductive and unanswerable77 arguments which they would hear set forth in a single uninterrupted oration (for we are perfectly aware that this is what you mean in bringing us before a select few), you who are sitting here may as well make assurance yet surer. Let us have no set speeches at all, but do you reply to each several statement of which you disapprove, and criticise it at once. Say first of all how you like this mode of proceeding.'
(5.86) The Melian representatives answered: 'The quiet interchange of explanations is a reasonable thing, and we do not object to that. But your warlike movements, which are present not only to our fears but to our eyes, seem to belie your words. We see that, although you may reason with us, you mean to be our judges; and that at the end of the discussion, if the justice of our cause prevail and we therefore refuse to yield, we may expect war; if we are convinced by you, slavery.'