IT was now that Athens felt the full value of those prisoners whom she had taken at Sphakteria. With those prisoners, as Kleon and his supporters had said truly, she might be sure of making peace whenever she desired it. Having such a certainty to fall back upon, she had played a bold game, and aimed at larger acquisitions during the past year. This speculation, though not in itself unreasonable, had failed: moreover a new phenomenon, alike unexpected by all, had occurred, when Brasidas broke open and cut up her empire in Thrace. Still, so great was the anxiety of the Spartans to regain their captives, who had powerful friends and relatives at home, that they considered the victories of Brasidas chiefly as a stepping-stone towards that object, and as a means of prevailing upon Athens to make peace. To his animated representations sent home from Amphipolis, setting forth the prospects of still farther success and entreating reinforcements - they had returned a discouraging reply, dictated in no small degree by the miserable jealousy of some of their chief men, who, feeling themselves cast into the shade, and looking upon his splendid career as an eccentric movement breaking loose from Spartan routine, were thus on personal as well as political grounds disposed to labour for peace. Such collateral motives, working upon the caution usual with Sparta, determined her to make use of the present fortune and realized conquests of Brasidas, as a basis for negotiation and recovery of the prisoners. The history of the Athenians during the past year might indeed serve as a warning to deter the Spartans from playing an adventurous game.
Ever since the capture of Sphakteria, the Lacedæmonians had been attempting, directly or indirectly, negotiations for peace and the recovery of the prisoners. Their pacific dispositions were especially instigated by King Pleistoanax, whose peculiar circumstances gave him a strong motive to bring the war to a close. He had been banished from Sparta, fourteen years before the commencement of the war, under the charge of having taken bribes from the Athenians on occasion of invading Attica. For more than eighteen years, he lived in banishment close to the temple of Zeus Lykæus in Arcadia. But he