History of the Peloponnesian War

Thucydides

Thucydides. The Peloponnesian War. London, J. M. Dent; New York, E. P. Dutton. 1910.

Such was the nature of the calamity, and heavily did it weigh on the Athenians; death raging within the city and devastation without.

Among other things which they remembered in their distress was, very naturally, the following verse which the old men said had long ago been uttered:

  1. A Dorian war shall come and with it death.

So a dispute arose as to whether dearth and not death had not been the word in the verse; but at the present juncture, it was of course decided in favor of the latter; for the people made their recollection fit in with their sufferings.

I fancy, however, that if another Dorian war should ever afterwards come upon us, and a dearth should happen to accompany it, the verse will probably be read accordingly.

The oracle also which had been given to the Lacedaemonians was now remembered by those who knew of it.

When the God was asked whether they should go to war, he answered that if they put their might into it, victory would be theirs, and that he would himself be with them.

With this oracle events were supposed to tally.

For the plague broke out so soon as the Peloponnesians invaded Attica, and never entering Peloponnese (not at least to an extent worth noticing), committed its worst ravages at Athens, and next to Athens, at the most populous of the other towns.

Such was the history of the plague.