The citizens of Athens often had difficult decisions to make. Debates in the government assembly could decide on matters of life and death!
In this story read how they decided to punish the city of Mytilene...and how they realised they'd made a terrible mistake.


The action takes place during the war between Athens and Sparta - the Peloponnesian War. Watch out for these characters clip_image005






A ship leaves Athens on a deadly mission - the people of the city of Mytilene are to be punished. All the men will be killed, and the women and chldren taken as slaves.
But Mytilene used to be a friend of Athens!! What has gone wrong?



It is 428 BC, and Athens is at war with Sparta. On the island of Lesbos the capital city, Mytilene, is on the side of Athens.



Unexpectedly a small group of men take over the city by force, and change sides in the war. Now Mytilene is fighting for Sparta!



Athens sends 40 ships to surround Mytilene, lead by a general called Pakhes with 1000 soldiers. Cut off from the sea no people, or food, can enter or leave the city now!



The Spartans send a man called Salaithos who explains that 40 ships with soldiers weapons and supplies are on their way to help.



Months go by, and there is still no sign of the Spartan ships. Meanwhile the siege continues, and the city cannot last much longer. They must fight the Athenians themselves!



However, instead of attacking the Athenian army the people threaten their selfish leaders.



Pakhes, the Athenian general, sends the leaders to Athens, where Salaithos is executed.



Athens now has control of Mytilene, and must decide on a punishment...


A debate is held by the citizens of Athens. The people vote by a show of hands, and agree to carry out Kleon's punishment on the people of Mytilene.



This is how the ship comes to be on its way to Mytilene, bringing death and slavery to a city that was once Athens' friend.

The sailors row slowly, unhappy at being given such a terrible mission.



Back in Athens some people start having second thoughts...have they been too harsh? Another meeting of the assembly is called.



The people of the assembly have a tough choice to make...


Kleon makes the case for sticking to their decision.



Diodotus wants a fairer punishment.



The debate is the assembly must decide what to do.



Can the second ship catch the first one before it delivers its deadly message? The crew row day and night, taking turns to sleep. They must get there in time!



Days pass by, and after a long journey, the first ship arrives at Mytilene.
General Pakhes reads out the punishment.



Pakhes is giving the orders to his men. Then, speeding into the harbour, the crew rowing with all their strength, comes the second ship!!
Just in time! The people have been saved!



The people of Mytilene were allowed to live in peace. Back in Athens the leaders of the revolt were not so lucky. They were put to death as punishment.

The Athenian government ordered the walls of the city to be destroyed, taking over their navy and all the towns they controlled. This is how the people of Mytilene became subjects of Athens.

The End



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