History of the Peloponnesian War

Thucydides

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

Off Laconia they heard that the Peloponnesian ships were already at Corcyra, upon which Eurymedon and Sophocles wished to hasten to the island, but Demosthenes required them first to touch at Pylos and do what was wanted there, before continuing their voyage.

While they were making objections, a squall chanced to come on and carried the fleet into Pylos.

Demosthenes at once urged them to fortify the place, it being for this that he had come on the voyage, and made them observe there was plenty of stone and timber on the spot, and that the place was strong by nature, and together with much of the country round unoccupied; Pylos, or Coryphasium, as the Lacedaemonians call it, being about forty-five miles distant from Sparta, and situated in the old country of the Messenians.

The commanders told him that there was no lack of desert headlands in Peloponnese if he wished to put the city to expense by occupying them.

He, however, thought that this place was distinguished from others of the kind by having a harbour close by; while the Messenians, the old natives of the country, speaking the same dialect as the Lacedaemonians, could do them the greatest mischief by their incursions from it, and would at the same time be a trusty garrison.

After speaking to the captains of companies on the subject, and failing to persuade either the generals or the soldiers, he remained inactive with the rest from stress of weather; until the soldiers themselves wanting occupation were seized with a sudden impulse to go round and fortify the place.