AT the close of one year after the attempted surprise of Platæa by the Thebans, the belligerent parties in Greece remained in an unaltered position as to relative strength. In spite of mutual damage inflicted - doubtless in the greatest measure upon Attica - no progress was yet made towards the fulfilment of those objects which had induced the Peloponnesians to go to war. Especially the most pressing among all their wishes - the relief of Potidæa - was noway advanced; for the Athenians had not found it necessary to relax the blockade of that city. The result of the first year's operations had thus been to disappoint the hopes of the Corinthians and the other ardent instigators of war, while it justified the anticipations both of Periklês and of Archidamus.
A second devastation of Attica was resolved upon for the commencement of spring. About the end of March, the entire Peloponnesian force (two-thirds from each confederate city as before) was assembled under the command of Archidamus and marched into Attica. This time they carried the work of systematic destruction not merely over the Thriasian plain and the plain immediately near to Athens, as before, but also to the more southerly portions of Attica, down even as far as the mines of Laurium. They found the territory deserted as before, all the population having retired within the walls.
In regard to this second invasion, Periklês recommended the same defensive policy as he had applied to the first. But a new visitation had now occurred, diverting their attention from the invader, though enormously aggravating their sufferings. A few days after Archidamus entered Attica, a pestilence or epidemic sickness broke out unexpectedly at Athens.
It appears that this terrific disorder had been raging for some time throughout the regions round the Mediterranean, having begun, as was believed, in Ethiopia - thence passing into Egypt and Libya, and over-running a considerable portion of Asia under the Persian government. About sixteen years before, too, there had been a similar calamity in Rome and in various parts of