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This webpage reproduces a portion of
The Library of History

Diodorus Siculus

published in Vol. V
of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1950

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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please let me know!


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(Vol. V) Diodorus Siculus
Library of History

 p119  Book XIII (beginning)

The campaign of the Athenians against the Syracusans, with great armaments both land and naval (chaps. 1‑3).

The arrival of the Athenians in Sicily (chap. 4).

The recall of Alcibiades the general his flight to Lacedaemon (chap. 5).

How the Athenians sailed through into the Great Harbour of the Syracusans and seized the regions about the Olympiaeum (chap. 6).

How the Athenians seized Epipolae and, after victories in battle in both areas, laid siege to Syracuse (chap. 7).

How, after the Lacedaemonians and Corinthians had sent them aid, the Syracusans took courage (chap. 8).

The battle between the Athenians and the Syracusans and the great victory of the Athenians (chap. 9).

The battle between the same opponents and the victory of the Syracusans (chap. 10).

How the Syracusans, having gained control of Epipolae, compelled the Athenians to withdraw to the single camp before the Olympiaeum (chaps. 8, 11‑12).

How the Syracusans prepared a naval force and decided to offer battle at sea (chap. 13).

 p121  How the Athenians, after the death of their general Lamachus and the recall of Alcibiades, dispatched in their place as generals Eurymedon and Demosthenes with reinforcements and money (chap. 8).

The termination of the truce by the Lacedaemonians, and the Peloponnesian War, as it is called, against the Athenians (chap. 8).

The sea-battle between the Syracusans and the Athenians and the victory of the Athenians; the capture of the fortresses by the Syracusans and their victory on land (chap. 9).

The sea-battle of all the ships in the Great Harbour and the victory of the Syracusans (chaps. 11‑17).

The arrival from Athens of Demosthenes and Eurymedon with a strong force (chap. 11).

The great battle about Epipolae and the victory of the Syracusans (chap. 8).

The flight of the Athenians and the capture of the entire host (chaps. 18‑19).

How the Syracusans gathered in assembly and considered the question what disposition should be made of the captives (chap. 19).

The speeches which were delivered on both sides of the proposal (chaps. 20‑32).

The decrees which the Syracusans passed regarding the captives (chap. 33).

How, after the failure of the Athenians in Sicily, many of their allies revolted (chap. 34).

How the citizen-body of the Athenians, having lost heart, turned their back upon the democracy and put the government into the hands of four hundred men (chaps. 34, 36).

How the Lacedaemonians defeated the Athenians in sea-battles (chap. 34).

 p123  How the Syracusans honoured with notable gifts the men who had played a brave part in the war (chap. 34).

How Diocles was chosen law-giver and wrote their laws for the Syracusans (chaps. 34‑35).

How the Syracusans sent a notable force to the aid of the Lacedaemonians (chap. 34).

How the Athenians overcame the Lacedaemonian admiral in a sea-fight and captured Cyzicus (chaps. 39‑40).

How, when the Lacedaemonians dispatched fifty ships from Euboea to the aid of the defeated, they together with their crews were all lost in a storm off Athos (chap. 41).

The return of Alcibiades and his election as a general (chaps. 41‑42).

The war between the Aegestaeans and the Selinuntians over the land in dispute (chaps. 43‑44).

The sea-battle between the Athenians and Lacedaemonians off Sigeium and the victory of the Athenians (chaps. 38‑40).

How the Lacedaemonians filled up Euripus with earth and made Euboea a part of the mainland (chap. 47).

On the civil discord and massacre in Corcyra (chap. 48).

How Alcibiades and Theramenes won most notable victories over the Lacedaemonians on both land and sea (chaps. 49‑51).

How the Carthaginians transported great armaments to Sicily and took by storm Selinus and Himera (chaps. 54‑62).

How Alcibiades sailed into the Peiraeus with much booty and was the object of great acclaim (chaps. 68‑69).

 p125  How King Agis with a great army undertook to lay siege to Athens and was unsuccessful (chaps. 72‑73).

The banishment of Alcibiades and the founding of Thermae in Sicily (chaps. 74, 79).

The sea-battle between the Syracusans and the Carthaginians and the victory of the Syracusans (chap. 80).

On the felicity of life in Acragas and the city's buildings (chaps. 81‑84).

How the Carthaginians made war upon Sicily with three hundred thousand soldiers and laid siege to Acragas (chaps. 85‑86).

How the Syracusans gathered their allies and went to the aid of the people of Acragas with ten thousand soldiers (chap. 86).

How, when forty thousand Carthaginians opposed them, the Syracusans gained the victory and slew more than six thousand of them (chap. 87).

How, when the Carthaginians cut off their supplies, the Acragantini were compelled, because of the lack of provisions, to leave their native city (chaps. 88‑89).

How Dionysius, after he was elected general, secured the tyranny over the Syracusans (chaps. 92‑96).

How the Athenians, after winning a most famous sea-battle at Arginusae, unjustly condemned their generals to death (chaps. 97‑104).

How the Athenians, after suffering defeat in a great sea-battle, were forced to conclude peace on the best terms they could secure, and in this manner the Peloponnesian War came to an end (chaps. 104‑107).

How the Carthaginians were struck by a pestilential disease and were compelled to conclude peace with Dionysius the tyrant (chap. 114).

 p127  1 1 If we were composing a history after the manner of the other historians, we should, I suppose, discourse upon certain topics at appropriate length in the introduction to each Book and by this means turn our discussion to the events which follow; surely, if we were picking out a brief period of history for our treatise, we should have the time to enjoy the fruit such introductions yield. 2 But since we engaged ourselves in a few Books not only to set forth, to the best of our ability, the events but also to embrace a period of more than eleven hundred years, we must forgo the long discussion which such introductions would involve and come to the events themselves, with only this word by way of preface, namely, that in the preceding six Books we have set down a record of events from the Trojan War to the war which the Athenians by decree of the people declared against the Syracusans,1 the period to this war from the capture of Troy embracing seven hundred and sixty-eight years; 3 and in this book, as we add to our narrative the period next succeeding, we shall commence with the expedition against the Syracusans and stop with the beginning of the second war between the Carthaginians and Dionysius the tyrant of the Syracusans.2

 p129  2 1 When Chabrias was archon in Athens, the Romans elected in place of consuls three military tribunes, Lucius Sergius, Marcus Papirius, and Marcus Servilius. This year the Athenians, pursuant to their vote of the war against the Syracusans, got ready the ships, collected the money, and proceeded with great zeal to make every preparation for the campaign. They elected three generals, Alcibiades, Nicias, and Lamachus, and gave them full powers over all matters pertaining to the war. 2 Of the private citizens those who had the means, wishing to indulge the enthusiasm of the populace, in some instances fitted out triremes at their own expense and in others engaged to donate money for the maintenance of the forces; and many, not only from among the citizens and aliens of Athens who favoured the democracy but also from among the allies, voluntarily went to the generals and urged that they be enrolled among the soldier. To such a degree were they all buoyed up in their hopes and looking forward forthwith to portioning out Sicily in allotments.

3 And the expedition was already fully prepared when it came to pass that in a single night the statues of Hermes which stood everywhere throughout the city were mutilated.3 At this the people, believing that the deed had not been by ordinary persons but by men who stood in high repute and were bent upon the overthrow of the democracy, were incensed at the sacrilege and undertook a search for the perpetrators, offering large rewards to anyone who  p131 would furnish information against them. 4 And a certain private citizen,4 appearing before the Council, stated that he had seen certain men enter the house of an alien about the middle of the night on the first day of the new moon and that one of them was Alcibiades. When he was questioned by the Council and asked how he could recognize the faces at night, he replied that he had seen them by the light of the moon. Since, then, the man had convicted himself of lying, no credence was given to his story, and of other investigators not a man was able to discover a single clue to the deed.

5 One hundred and forty triremes were equipped, and of transports and ships to carry horses as well as ships to convey food and all other equipment there was a huge number; and there were also hoplites and slingers as well as cavalry, and in addition more than seven thousand men from the allies,5 not including the crews. 6 At this time the generals, sitting in secret session with the Council, discussed what disposition they should make of Sicilian affairs, if they should get control of the island. And it was agreed by them that they would enslave the Selinuntians and Syracusans, but upon the other peoples they would merely lay a tribute severally which they would pay annually to the Athenians.

3 1 On the next day the generals together with the soldiers went down to the Peiraeus, and the entire populace of the city, citizens and aliens thronging together, accompanied them, everyone bidding godspeed to his own kinsmen and friends. 2 The triremes lay at anchor over the whole harbour, embellished  p133 with their insignia on the bows and the gleam of their armour; and the whole circumference of the harbour was filled with censers and silver mixing-bowls, from which the people poured libations with golden cups, paying honour to the gods and beseeching them to grant success to the expedition 3 Now after leaving the Peiraeus they sailed around the Peloponnesus and put in at Corcyra, since they were under orders to wait at that place and add to their forces the allies in that region. And when they had all been assembled, they sailed across the Ionian Strait and came to land on the tip of Iapygia, from where they skirted along the coast of Italy. 4 They were not received by the Tarantini, and they also sailed on past the Metapontines and Heracleians; but when they put in at Thurii they were accorded every kind of courtesy. From there they sailed on to Croton, from whose inhabitants they got a market, and then they sailed on past the temple of Hera Lacinia6 and doubled the promontory known as Dioscurias. 5 After this they passed by Scylletium, as it is called, and Locri, and dropping anchor near Rhegium they endeavoured to persuade the Rhegians to become their allies; but the Rhegians replied that they would consult with the other Greek cities of Italy.

4 1 When the Syracusans heard that the Athenian armaments were at the Strait,7 they appointed three generals with supreme power, Hermocrates, Sicanus, and Heracleides, who enrolled soldiers and dispatched ambassadors to the cities of Sicily, urging them to do their share in the cause of their common liberty;  p135 for the Athenians, they pointed out, while beginning the war, as they alleged, upon the Syracusans, were in fact intent upon subduing the entire island. 2 Now the Acragantini and Naxians declared that they would ally themselves with the Athenians; the Camarinaeans and Messenians gave assurances that they would maintain the peace, while postponing a reply to the request for an alliance; but the Himeraeans, Selinuntians, Geloans, and Catanaeans promised that they would fight at the side of the Syracusans. The cities of the Siceli, while tending to be favourably inclined toward the Syracusans, nevertheless remained neutral, awaiting the outcome.

3 After the Aegestaeans had refused to give more than thirty talents,8 the Athenian generals, having remonstrated with them, put out to sea from Rhegium with their force and sailed to Naxos in Sicily. They were kindly received by the inhabitants of this city and sailed on from there to Catanê. 4 Although the Catanaeans would not receive the soldiers into the city, they allowed the generals to enter and summoned an assembly of the citizens, and the Athenian generals presented their proposal for an alliance. 5 But while Alcibiades was addressing the assembly, some of the soldiers burst open a postern-gate and broke into the city. It was by this cause that the Catanaeans were forced to join in the war against the Syracusans.

5 1 While these events were taking place, those in Athens who hated Alcibiades with a personal enmity, possessing now an excuse in the mutilation of the statues,9 accused him in speeches before the Assembly  p137 of having formed a conspiracy against the democracy. Their charges gained colour from an incident that had taken place among the Argives; for private friends10 of his in that city had agreed together to destroy the democracy in Argos, but they had all been put to death by the citizens. 2 Accordingly the people, having given credence to the accusations and having had their feelings deeply aroused by their demagogues, dispatched their ship, the Salaminia,11 to Sicily with orders for Alcibiades to return with all speed to face trial. When the ship arrived at Catanê and Alcibiades learned of the decision of the people from the ambassadors, he took the others who had been accused together with him aboard his own trireme and sailed away in company with the Salaminia. 3 But when he had put in at Thurii, Alcibiades, either because he was privy to the deed of impiety or because he was alarmed at the seriousness of the danger which threatened him, made his escape together with the other accused men and got away. The ambassadors who had come on the Salaminia at first set up a hunt for Alcibiades, but when they could not find him, they sailed back to Athens and reported to the people what had taken place. 4 Accordingly the Athenians brought the names of Alcibiades and the other fugitives with him before a court of justice and condemned them in default12 to death. And Alcibiades made his way across from Italy to the Peloponnesus, where he took refuge in Sparta and spurred on the Lacedaemonians to attack the Athenians.

6 1 The generals in Sicily sailed on with the armament  p139 of the Athenians to Aegesta and captured Hyccara, a small town of the Siceli, from the booty of which they realized one hundred talents; and after receiving thirty talents in addition from the Aegestaeans they continued their voyage to Catanê 2 And wishing to seize, without risk to themselves, the position13 on the Great Harbour of the Syracusans, they sent a man of Catanê who was loyal to themselves and was also trusted by the Syracusan generals, with instructions to say to the Syracusan commanders that a group of Catanaeans had banded together and were ready to seize unawares a large number of Athenians, who made it their practice to pass the night in the city away from their arms, and set fire to the ships in the harbour; and he was to ask the generals that, in order to effect this, they should appear at the place with troops so that they might not fail in their design. 3 When the Catanaean went to the commanders of the Syracusans and told them what we have stated, the generals, believing his story, decided on the night on which they would lead out their troops and sent the man back to Catanê.

4 Now on the appointed night the Syracusans brought the army to Catanê, whereupon the Athenians, sailing down into the Great Harbour of the Syracusans in dead silence, not only became masters of the Olympiaeum but also, after seizing the entire area about it, constructed a camp. 5 The generals of the Syracusans, however, when they learned of the deceit which had been practised on them, returned speedily and assaulted the Athenian camp. When the enemy came  p141 out to meet them, there ensued a battle, in which the Athenians slew four hundred of their opponents and compelled the Syracusans to take to flight. 6 But the Athenian generals, seeing that the enemy were superior in cavalry and wishing to improve their equipment for the siege of the city, sailed back to Catanê. And they dispatched men to Athens and addressed letters to the people in which they asked them to send cavalry and funds; for they believed that the siege would be a long affair; and the Athenians voted to send three hundred talents and a contingent of cavalry to Sicily.

7 While these events were taking place, Diagoras, who was dubbed "the Atheist,"14 was accused of impiety and, fearing the people, fled from Attica; and the Athenians announced a reward of a talent of silver to the man who should slay Diagoras.

8 In Italy the Romans went to war with the Aequi and reduced Labici by siege.15

These, then, were the events of this year.

7 1 When Tisandrus was archon in Athens, the Romans elected in place of consuls four military tribunes, Publius Lucretius, Gaius Servilius, Agrippa Menenius, and Spurius Veturius. In this year the Syracusans, dispatching ambassadors to both Corinth and Lacedaemon, urged these cities to come to their aid and not to stand idly by when total ruin threatened the Syracusans. 2 Since Alcibiades supported their request, the Lacedaemonians voted to send aid to the Syracusans and chose Gylippus to be general, and  p143 the Corinthians made preparations to send a number of triremes, but at the moment they sent in advance to Sicily, accompanying Gylippus, Pythes with two triremes. 3 And in Catanê Nicias and Lamachus, the Athenian generals, after two hundred and fifty cavalry and three hundred talents of silver had come to them from Athens, took their army aboard and sailed to Syracuse. They arrived at the city by night and unobserved by the Syracusans took possession of Epipolae. When the Syracusans learned of this, they speedily came to its defence, but were chased back into the city with the loss of three hundred soldiers. 4 After this, with the arrival for the Athenians of three hundred horsemen from Aegesta and two hundred and fifty from the Siceli, they mustered in all eight hundred cavalry. Then, having built a fort at Labdalum, they began constructing a wall about the city of the Syracusans and aroused great fear among the populace.16 Therefore they advanced out of the city and endeavoured to hinder the builders of the wall; but a cavalry battle followed in which they suffered heavy losses and were forced to flee. 5 The Athenians with a part of their troops now seized the region lying above the harbour and by fortifying Polichnê,17 as it is called, they not only enclosed the temple of Zeus18 but were also besieging Syracuse from both sides. 6 Now that such reverses as these had befallen the Syracusans, the inhabitants of the city were disheartened; but when they learned that Gylippus had put in at Himera and was gathering  p145 soldiers, they again took heart. 7 For Gylippus, having put in at Himera with four triremes, had hauled his ships up on shore, persuaded the Himeraeans to ally themselves with the Syracusans, and was gathering soldiers from them and the Geloans, as well as from the Selinuntians and the Sicani. And after he had assembled three thousand infantry in all and three hundred cavalry, he led them through the interior of the island to Syracuse.

8 1 After a few days Gylippus led forth his troops together with the Syracusans against the Athenians. A fierce battle took place and Lamachus, the Athenian general, died in the fighting; and although many were slain on both sides, victory lay with the Athenians. 2 After the battle, when thirteen triremes had arrived from Corinth, Gylippus, after taking the crews of the ships, with them and the Syracusans attacked the camp of the enemy and sought to storm Epipolae. When the Athenians came out, they joined battle and the Syracusans, after slaying many Athenians, were victorious and they razed the wall throughout the length of Epipolê; at this the Athenians abandoned the area of Epipolae and withdrew their entire force to the other camp.

3 After these events the Syracusans dispatched ambassadors to Corinth and Lacedaemon to get help; and the Corinthians together with the Boeotians and Sicyonians sent them one thousand men and Spartans six hundred. 4 And Gylippus went about the cities of Sicily and persuaded many peoples to join the alliance, and after gathering three thousand  p147 soldiers from the Himeraeans and Sicani he led them through the interior of the island. When the Athenians learned that these troops were near at hand, they attacked and slew half of them; the survivors, however, got safely to Syracuse.

5 Upon the arrival of the allies the Syracusans, wishing to try their hand also in battles at sea, launched the ships they already possessed and fitted out additional ones, giving them their trials in the small harbour. 6 And Nicias, the Athenian general, dispatched letters to Athens in which he made known that many allies were now with the Syracusans and that they had fitted out no small number of ships and had resolved upon offering battle at sea; he therefore asked them to send speedily both triremes and money and generals to assist him in the conduct of the war, explaining that with the flight of Alcibiades and the death of Lamachus he was the only general left and at that was not in good health. 7 The Athenians dispatched to Sicily ten ships with Eurymedon the general and one hundred and forty talents of silver, at the time of the winter solstice;19 meantime they busied themselves with preparations to dispatch a great fleet in the spring. Consequently they were enrolling soldiers everywhere from their allies and gathering together money.

8 In the Peloponnesus the Lacedaemonians, being spurred on by Alcibiades, broke the truce with the Athenians, and the war which followed continued for twelve years.20

9 1 At the close of this year Cleocritus was archon of the Athenians, and in Rome in place of consuls  p149 there were four military tribunes, Aulus Sempronius, Marcus Papirius, Quintus Fabius, and Spurius Nautius. 2 This year the Lacedaemonians together with their allies invaded Attica, under the leadership of Agis and Alcibiades the Athenian. And seizing the stronghold of Deceleia they made it into a fortress for attacks upon Attica, and this, as it turned out, was why this war came to be called the Deceleian War. The Athenians dispatched thirty triremes to lie off Laconia under Charicles as general and voted to send eighty triremes and five thousand hoplites to Sicily. And the Syracusans, having made up their minds to join battle at sea, fitted out eighty triremes and sailed against the enemy. 3 The Athenians put out against them with sixty ships, and when the battle was at its height, all the Athenians in the fortresses went down to the sea; for some were desirous of watching the battle, while others hoped that, in case of some reverse in the sea-battle, they could be of help to those in flight. 4 But the Syracusan generals, foreseeing what really happened, had dispatched the troops in the city against the strongholds of the Athenians, which were filled with money and naval supplies as well as every other kind of equipment; when the Syracusans found the strongholds guarded by a totally inadequate number, they seized them, and slew many of those who came up from the sea to their defence. 5 And since a great uproar arose about the forts and the camp, the Athenians who were engaged in the sea-battle turned about in dismay and fled toward the last remaining fort. The Syracusans  p151 pursued them without order, but the Athenians, when they saw themselves unable to find safety on land because the Syracusans controlled two forts, were forced to turn about and renew the sea-battle. 6 And since the Syracusans had broken their battle order and had become scattered in the pursuit, the Athenians, attacking with their ships in a body, sank eleven triremes and pursued the rest as far as the island.21 When the fight was ended, each side set up a trophy, the Athenians for the sea-battle and the Syracusans for their successes on land.

10 1 After the sea-battle had ended in the manner we have described, the Athenians, learning that the fleet under Demosthenes would arrive within a few days, decided to run no more risks before that force should join them, whereas the Syracusans, on the contrary, wishing to reach a final decision before the arrival of Demosthenes and his army, kept sailing out every day against the ships of the Athenians and continuing the fight. 2 And when Ariston the Corinthian pilot advised them to make the prows of their ships shorter and lower, the Syracusans followed his advice and for that reason enjoyed great advantage in the fighting which followed. 3 For the Attic triremes were built with weaker and high prows, and for this reason it followed that, when they rammed, they damaged only the parts of a ship that extended above the water, so that the enemy suffered no great damage; whereas the ships of the Syracusans, built as they were with the structure about the prow strong and low, would often, as they delivered their ramming  p153 blows, sink with one shock the triremes of the Athenians.22

4 Now day after day the Syracusans attacked the camp of the enemy both by land and by sea, but to no effect, since the Athenians made no move; but when some of the captains of the triremes, being no longer able to endure the scorn of the Syracusans, put out against the enemy in the Great Harbour. A sea-battle commenced in which all the triremes joined. Now though the Athenians had fast-sailing triremes 5 and enjoyed the advantage from their long experience at sea as well as from the skill of their pilots, yet their superiority in these respects brought them no return since the sea-battle was in a narrow area; and the Syracusans, engaging at close quarters and giving the enemy no opportunity to turn about to ram, not only cast spears at the soldiers on the decks, but also, by hurling stones, forced them to leave the prows, and in many cases simply by ramming a ship that met them and then boarding the enemy vessel they made it a land-battle on the ship's deck. 6 The Athenians, being pressed upon from every quarter, turned to flight; and the Syracusans, pressing in pursuit, not only sank seven triremes but made a large number unfit for use.

11 1 At the moment when the hopes of the Syracusans had raised their spirits high because of their victory over the enemy both by land and by sea, Eurymedon and Demosthenes arrived, having sailed there from Athens with a great force and gathered on the way allied troops from the Thurians and Messapians.  p155 2 They brought more than eighty triremes and five thousand soldiers, excluding the crews; and they also conveyed on merchant vessels arms and money as well as siege machines and every other kind of equipment. As a result the hopes of the Syracusans were dashed again, since they believed that they could not now readily find the means to bring themselves up to equality with the enemy.

3 Demosthenes persuaded his fellow commanders to assault Epipolae, for it was impossible by any other means to wall off the city, and taking ten thousand hoplites and as many more light-armed troops, he attacked the Syracusans by night. Since the assault had not been expected, they overpowered some forts, and breaking into the fortifications of Epipolê threw down a part of the wall. 4 But when the Syracusans ran together to the scene from every quarter and Hermocrates also came to the aid with the picked troops, the Athenians were forced out and, it being night, because of their unfamiliarity with the region were scattered some to one place and others to another. 5 The Syracusans and their allies, pursuing after them, slew two thousand five hundred of the enemy, wounded not a few, and captured much armour. 6 And after the battle the Syracusans dispatched Sicanus, one of their generals, with twelve23 triremes to the other cities, both to announce the victory to the allies and to ask them for aid.

12 1 The Athenians, now that their affairs had taken a turn for the worse and a wave of pestilence had struck the camp because the region round about it was  p157 marshy, counselled together how they should deal with the situation. 2 Demosthenes thought that they should sail back to Athens with all speed, stating that to risk their lives against the Lacedaemonians in defence of their fatherland was preferable to settling down on Sicily and accomplishing nothing worth while; but Nicias said that they ought not to abandon the siege in so disgraceful a fashion, while they were well supplied with triremes, soldiers, and funds; furthermore, he added, if they should make peace with the Syracusans without the approval of the Athenian people and sail back to their country, peril would attend them from the men who make it their practice to bring false charges against their generals. 3 Of the participants in the council some agreed with Demosthenes on putting to sea, but others expressed the same opinion as Nicias; and so they came to no clear decision and took no action. 4 And since help came to the Syracusans from the Siceli, Selinuntians, and Geloans, as well as from the Himeraeans and Camarinaeans, the Syracusans were the more emboldened, but the Athenians became apprehensive. Also, when the epidemic greatly increased, many of the soldiers were dying and all regretted that they had not set out upon their return voyage long since. 5 Consequently, since the multitude was in an uproar and all the others were eager to take to the ships, Nicias found himself compelled to yield on the matter of their returning home. When the generals were agreed, the soldiers began gathering together their equipment, loading the triremes, and raising the yard-arms; and the generals issued orders to the multitude that at the signal not a man in the camp  p159 should be late, for he who lagged would be left behind. 6 But when they were about to sail on the following day, on the night of the day before, the moon was eclipsed.24 Consequently Nicias, who was not only by nature a superstitiously devout man but also cautious because of the epidemic in the camp, summoned the soothsayers. And when they declared that the departure must be postponed for the customary three days,25 Demosthenes and the others were also compelled, out of respect for the deity, to accede.

13 1 When the Syracusans learned from some deserters why the departure had been deferred, they manned all their triremes, seventy-four in number, and leading out their ground forces attacked the enemy both by land and by sea. 2 The Athenians, having manned eighty-six triremes, assigned to Eurymedon, the general, the command of the right wing, opposite to which was stationed the general of the Syracusans, Agatharchus; on the other wing Euthydemus had been stationed and opposite to him was Sicanus commanding the Syracusans; and in command of the centre of the line were Menander for the Athenians and Pythes the Corinthian for the Syracusans. 3 Although the Athenian line was the longer since they were engaging with a superior number of triremes, yet the very factor which they thought would work to their advantage was not the least in their undoing. For Eurymedon endeavoured to outfit the opposing wing; but when he had become detached from his line, the Syracusans turned to face him and he was cut off and forced into a bay  p161 called Dascon which was held by the Syracusans. 4 Being hemmed in as he was into a narrow place, he was forced to run ashore, where some man gave him a mortal wound and he lost his life, and seven of his ships were destroyed in this place. 5 The battle had now spread throughout both fleets, and when the word was passed along that the general had been slain and some ships lost, at first only those ships gave way which were nearest to those which had been destroyed, but later, as the Syracusans pressed forward and pushed the fight boldly because of the success they had won, the whole Athenian force was overpowered and compelled to turn in flight. 6 And since the pursuit turned toward the shallow part of the harbour, not a few triremes ran aground in the shoals. When this took place, Sicanus, the Syracusan general, straightway filling a merchant ship with faggots and pine-wood and pitch, set fire to the ships which were wallowing in the shoals. 7 But although they were put on fire, the Athenians not only quickly extinguished the flames but, finding no other means of safety, also vigorously fought off from their ships the men who were rushing against them; and the land forces ran to their aid along the beach on which with the ships had run ashore. 8 And since they all withstood the attack with vigour, on land the Syracusans were turned back, but at sea they won the decision and sailed back to the city. The losses of the Syracusans were few, but of the Athenians not less than two thousand men and eighteen triremes.

14 1 The Syracusans, believing that the danger no longer was the losing of their city but that, far  p163 more, the contest had become one for the capture of the camp together with the enemy, blocked off the entrance to the harbour by the construction of a barrier. 2 For they moored at anchor both small vessels and triremes as well as merchant-ships, with iron chains between them, and to the vessels they built bridges of boards, completing the undertaking in three days. 3 The Athenians, seeing their hope of deliverance shut off in every direction, decided to man all their triremes and put on them their best land troops, and thus, by means both of the multitude of their ship and of the desperation of the men who would be fighting for their lives, eventually to strike terror into the Syracusans. 4 Consequently they put on board the officers and the choicest troops from the whole army, manning in this way one hundred and fifteen triremes, and the other soldiers they stationed on land along the beach. The Syracusans drew up their infantry before the city, and fully manned seventy-four triremes; and the triremes were attended by free boys on small boats, who were in years below manhood and were fighting at the side of their fathers. 5 And the walls about the harbour and every high place in the city were crowded with people; for wives and maidens and all who, because of age, could not render the service war demands, since the whole war was coming to its decision, were eyeing the battle with the greatest anguish of spirit.

15 1 At this time Nicias, the general of the Athenians, as he surveyed the ships and measured the  p165 magnitude of the struggle, could not remain at his station on shore, but leaving the land troops he boarded a boat and passed along the line of the Athenian triremes. Calling each captain by name and stretching forth his hands, he implored them all, now if ever before, to grasp the only hope left to them, for on the valour of those who were about to join battle at sea depended the preservation both of themselves, every man of them, and of their fatherland. 2 Those who were fathers of children he reminded of their sons; those who were sons of distinguished fathers he exhorted not to bring disgrace ought to the valorous deeds of their ancestors; those who had been honoured by their fellow citizens he urged to show themselves worthy of their crowns; and all of them he reminded of the trophies erected at Salamis and begged them not to bring to disrepute the far-famed glory of their fatherland nor surrender themselves like slaves to the Syracusans.

3 After Nicias had spoken to this effect, he returned to his station, and the men of the fleet advanced singing the paean and broke through the barrier of boats before the enemy could prevent them. But the Syracusans, putting quickly out to sea, formed their triremes in battle order and coming to grips with the enemy forced them to withdraw from the barrier of boats and fight a pitched battle. 4 And as the ships backed water, some toward the beach, others toward the middle of the harbour, and still others in the direction of the walls, all the triremes were quickly separated from each other, and after they had got clear of the boom across its entrance  p167 the harbour was full of ships fighting in small groups. 5 Thereupon both sides fought with abandon for the victory. The Athenians, cheered by the multitude of their ships and seeing no other hope of safety, carried on the fight boldly and faced gallantly their death in battle, and the Syracusans, with their parents and children as spectators of the struggle, vied with one another, each man wishing the victory to come to his country through his own efforts.

16 1 Consequently many leaped on the prows of the hostile ships, when their own had been damaged by another, and were isolated in the midst of their enemies. In some cases they dropped grappling-irons26 and forced their adversaries to fight a land-battle on their ships. 2 Often men whose own ships had been shattered leaped on their opponents' vessels, and by slaying the defenders or pushing them into the sea became masters of their triremes. In a word, over the entire harbour came the crash of ship striking ship and the cry of desperately struggling men slaying and being slain. 3 For when a ship had been intercepted by several triremes and struck by their beaks from every direction, the water would pour in and it would be swallowed together with the entire crew beneath the sea. Some who would be swimming away after their ship had been sunk would be wounded by arrows or slain by the blows of spears. 4 The pilots, as they saw with the confusion of the battle, every spot full of uproar, and often a number of ships converging upon a single one, did not know what signal to give, since the same orders were not suitable to all  p169 situations, nor was it possible, because of the multitude of missiles, for the oarsmen to keep their eyes upon the men who gave them their orders. 5 In short, not a man could hear any of the commands amid the shattering of boats and the sweeping off of oars,27 as well as amid the uproar of the men in combat on the ships and of their zealous comrades on land. 6 For of the entire beach a part was held by the Athenian infantry and a part by the Syracusans, so that at times the men fighting the sea-battle had as helpers, when along the shore, the soldiers lined up on the land. 7 The spectators on the walls, whenever they saw their own fighters winning, would sing songs of victory, but when they saw them being vanquished, they would groan and with tears offer prayers to the gods. For now and then it happened that some Syracusan triremes would be destroyed along the walls and their crews slain before the eyes of their kinsmen, and parents would witness the destruction of their children, sisters and wives the pitiable ends of husbands and brothers.

17 1 For a long time, despite the many who were dying, the battle would not come to an end, since not even the men who were in desperate straits would dare flee to the land. For the Athenians would ask those who were breaking off the battle and turning to the land, "Do you think to sail to Athens by land?" and the Syracusan infantry would inquire of any who were bringing their ships towards them, "Why, when we wanted to go aboard at triremes, did you prevent us from engaging in the battle, if now you are betraying the fatherland?" "Was the reason you blocked the mouth of the harbour that,  p171 after preventing the enemy from getting out, you might yourselves flee to the beach?" "Since it is the lot of all men to die, what fairer death do you seek than dying for the fatherland, which you are disgracefully abandoning though you have it as a witness of your fighting!" 2 When the soldiers on the land hurled such upbraidings at the sailors who drew near, those who were fleeing for refuge to the beach would turn back again, even though their ships were shattered and they themselves were weighed down by their wounds. 3 But when the Athenians who were engaged near the city had been thrust back and began to flee, the Athenians next in line gave way from time to time and gradually the whole host took to flight. 4 Thereupon the Syracusans with great shouting pursued the ships to the land; and those Athenians who had not been slain out at sea, now that they had come to shallow water, leaped from the ships and fled to the land troops. 5 And the harbour was full of arms and wreckage of boats, since of the Attic ships sixty were lost and of the Syracusan eight were completely destroyed and sixteen badly damaged. The Syracusans drew up on the shore as many of their triremes as they could, and taking up the bodies of their citizens and allies who had died, honoured them with a public funeral.

18 1 The Athenians thronged to the tents of their commanders and begged the generals to take thought, not for the ships, but for the safety of themselves. Demosthenes, accordingly, declared that, since the  p173 barrier of boats had been broken, they should straightway man the triremes, and he expressed the belief that, if they delivered an unexpected attack, they would easily succeed in their design.28 2 But Nicias advised that they leave the ships behind and withdraw through the interior to the cities which were their allies. This plan was agreed to by all, and they burned some of the ships and made preparations for the retreat.

3 When it was evident that the Athenians were going to withdraw during the night, Hermocrates advised the Syracusans to lead forth their entire army in the night and seize all the roads beforehand. 4 And when the generals would not agree to this, both because many of the soldiers were wounded and because all of them were worn-out in body from the fighting, he sent some of the horsemen to the camp of the Athenians to tell them that the Syracusans had already dispatched men to seize in advance the roads and the most important positions. 5 It was already night when the horsemen carried out these orders, and the Athenians, believing that it was men from Leontini who out of goodwill had brought them the word, were not a little disturbed and postponed the departure. If they had not been deceived by this trick, they would have got safely away. 6 The Syracusans at daybreak dispatched the soldiers who were to seize in advance the narrow passes in the roads. And the Athenian generals, dividing the soldiers into two bodies, put the pack-animals and the sick and injured in the centre and stationed those who were in condition  p175 to fight in the van and the rear, and then set out for Catane, Demosthenes commanding one group and Nicias the other.

19 1 The Syracusans took in tow the fifty ships left behind29 and brought them to the city, and then, taking off the crew of their triremes and providing them with arms, they followed after the Athenians with their entire armament, harassing them and hindering their forward progress. 2 For three days following close on their heels and encompassing them on all sides they prevented them from taking a direct road toward Catanê, their ally; instead they compelled them to retrace their steps through the plain of Elorium, and surrounding them at the Ainarus River, slew eighteen thousand and took captive seven thousand, among whom were also the generals Demosthenes and Nicias. The remainder were seized as their plunder by the soldiers;30 for the Athenians, since their escape was blocked in every direction, were obliged to surrender their weapons and their persons to the enemy. 3 After this had taken place, the Syracusans set up two trophies, nailing to each of them the arms of a general, and turned back to the city.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 i.e. from 1184 B.C. to 415 B.C.

2 The Book covers the years 415‑404 B.C.

3 The principal sources for this famous incident are Thucydides, 6.27‑29, 53, 60‑61; Plutarch, Alcibiades, 18‑21, and especially Andocides, On the Mysteries. The faces of the statues were mutilated, and perhaps also the genitalsº (Aristophanes, Lysistrata, 1094). Andocides gives the names of those whose goods were confiscated and sold after the mutilation of the Hermae, and many of these are confirmed on a fragmentary inscription (IG I2.327, 332).

4 Probably the Diocleides mentioned by Andocides (l.c. 37 ff.), who gives the story in considerable detail.

5 Or "slingers as well as more than seven thousand cavalry from both the citizens and allies"; see critical note.

The critical note to the Greek text (πρὸς δὲ τούτοις ἱππεῖς καὶ τῶν συμμάχων πλείους τῶν ἑπτακισχιλίων . . .) reads:

Dindorf suggests τῶν τε πολιτῶν after ἱππεῖς.

6 Cape Lacinium is at the extreme western end of the Tarantine Gulf.

7 Of Messina.

8 Cp. Book 12.83.

9 Cp. chap. 2.

10 Cp. Thucydides, 6.61.

11 This was one of the two dispatch boats of the Athenian navy, the other being the Paralus.

12 i.e. in their absence.

13 This was near the Olympiaeum (Thucydides, 6.64.2). The reader is referred to the map at the back of the book, which is based on the account of Thucydides.

14 He is said to have been a dithyrambic poet of Melos who was apparently accused of making blasphemous remarks about Athenian divinities (cp. Lysias, Against Andocides, 17 ff.).

15 Cp. Livy, 4.47.

16 This wall of circumvallation was to run from near Trogilus southward to the Great Harbour; see map.

17 Thucydides (7.4.6) speaks of a polichnê ("hamlet") near the Olympiaeum, which lay west of the centre of the Great Harbour.

18 The Olympiaeum.

19 22nd December.

20 Ten years, 413‑404 B.C. inclusive.

21 i.e. of Ortygia.

22 Thucydides (7.36) describes in considerable detail this strengthening of the bow and its effect upon the tactics of the fighting in the harbour.

23 Thucydides (7.46) says fifteen.

24 27th August, 413 B.C.

25 "Thrice nine days," according to Thucydides, 7.50.4; "another full period of the moon," according to Plutarch, Nicias, 23.6.

26 Thucydides (7.65) states that these were a device of the Athenians, against which the Syracusans covered the decks of their ships with hides so that the grappling-irons would not take hold.

27 As one ship brushed by another.

28 Thucydides (7.72) states that Nicias agreed to this plan, but gave it up when the sailors, after their hard beating, refused to man the ships.

29 By the Athenians.

30 The seven thousand were formally surrendered and became prisoners of the state; the others were taken by the soldiers as their individual captives, either before the formal surrender or after, as they were picked up over the countryside.

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