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In the meantime Gylippus, employing those very stones which the Athenians had got together for their own use, went on with the wall which the Syracusans had begun to carry through Epipolæ ; and drew up daily in battle-array before it, as did the Athenians. When he saw it was a proper time for engaging, he began the battle in the spot lying between the two walls. The narrowness of it having rendered his cavalry and archers useless, he came off with loss, and the Athenians set up a trophy. Gylippus, to reanimate his soldiers, by doing them justice, had the courage to reproach himself for the ill success they had met with; and to declare publicly, that he, not they, had occasioned the late defeat; because he had made them fight in too confined a spot of ground. However he promised to give them soon an opportunity of recovering both their honour and his; and accordingly, the very next day, he led them against the enemy, after having exhorted them, in the strongest terms, to behave in a manner worthy of their ancient glory. Nicias perceiving, that though he should not desire to come to a battle, it would however be absolutely necessary for him to prevent the enemy from extending their line beyond the contravallation, to which they were already very ar; (because otherwise this would be granting them a certain victory) he therefore marched against the Syracusans. Gylippus brought up his troops beyond the spot where the walls terminated on both sides, in order that he might leave the more room to extend his battle; when charging the enemy's left wing with his horse, he put it to flight, and soon after defeated the right. We see here what the experience and abilities of a great captain are capable of producing: for Gylippus, with the same men, the same arms, the same horses, and the same ground, by only changing his order of battle, defeated the Athenians, and beat them quite to their camp. The following night, the victors carried on their wall beyond the contravallation of the Athenians, and thereby deprived them of all hopes of being ever able to surround them.
a After this success, the Syracusans, to whose aid the Corinthian fleet was arrived unperceived by that of the Athenians, resumed courage, armed several gallies; and marching into the plains with their cavalry and other forces, took a great number of prisoners. They sent deputies to Lacedæmonia, and Corinth, to desire å reinforcement; Gylippus went in person through all the cities of Sicily, to solicit them to join him; and brought over the greatest part of them, who accordingly sent him powerful succours. Nicias, finding his troops lessen, and those of the enemy increase daily, a Thucyd. I. vii. p. 490-494. Plut in Nic, p. 536. Dicd. la xlii. p 139.
began to be discouraged; and not only sent expresses to the Athenians, to acquaint them with the situation of affairs, but likewise wrote to them in the strongest terms. I repeat his whole letter, both as it gives a clear and exact account of the state of things at that time in Syracuse, and may serve as a model for such kind of relations.
“ Athenians: I have already informed you, by several
expresses, of what passed here: but it is necessary you “ should know the present situation of affairs, that you may “ resolve accordingly. After we had been victorious in se“ veral engagements, and had almost completed our contra“yallation, Gylippus arrived in Syracuse with a body of
Lacedæmonian and Sicilian troops; and, having been de“ feated the first time, he was victorious the second, by
means of his cavalry and archers. We are in conse
quence shut up in our intrenchments, without daring to “ make any attempt, or complete our works, through the
superiority of the enemy's forces; for part of our soldiers
are employed in guarding our forts, and consequently we “ have not an opportunity of employing all our forces in “ battle. Besides, as the Syracusans have cut our lines, by
a wall, in that part where they were not complete, it will
no longer be possible for us to surround the city, unless we “should force their intrenchments; so that instead of besieg
ing, we ourselves are besieged, and dare not stir out, for * fear of their horse.
“ Not contented with these advantages, they are bringing new succours from Peloponnesus, and have sent Gylippus
to force all the neutral cities of Sicily to declare for them ; " and the rest to furnish them with men and ships, to attack
us both by sea and land. I say by sea, which, though very surprising, is however but too true. For our fleet, which “ before was considerable, from the good condition of the
gallies and mariners, is now very deficient in those very “ circumstances, and prodigiously weakened.
“ Our gallies leak every where ; because we cannot “ draw them on shore to careen them, for fear, lest those “ of the enemy, which are more numerous, and in better “ condition than qurs, should attack us on a sudden, which
they seem to threaten every moment. Besides, we are " under a necessity of sending many backwards and forwards “to guard the convoys which we are forced to fetch from
a great distance, and bring along in sight of the enemy ; so that should we be ever so little negligent in this point, our army would be starved.
“ With regard to the ships' crews, they decrease sensibly "every day ; for as great numbers of them disperse to ma
raude, or to fetch wood and water, they are often cut to
“ pieces by the enemy's horse. Our slaves, allured by the “ neighbourhood of the enemy's camp, desert very fast to it. “ The foreigners whom we forced into the service, diminish
daily ; and such as have been raised with money, who “ came for plunder rather than fighting, finding themselves “ baulked, go over to the enemy, who are so near us, or else “ hide themselves in Sicily, which they may easily do, in so “ large an island. A great number of citizens, though long “ used to, and well skilled in working of ships, by bribing “the captains, have put others in their room, who are whol
ly unexperienced, and incapable of serving, and by that
means have quite subverted all discipline. I am now “ writing to men perfectly well versed in naval affairs; and “ who are very sensible, that, when order is neglected, every
thing grows worse and worse, and a fleet must inevitably “ be ruined.
“But the most unhappy circumstance is, that, though I am invested with the authority of general, I cannot put
a stop to these disorders. For (Athenians) you are very “ sensible, that such is your disposition, that you do not easily “ brook restraint ; besides, I do not know where to furnish “ myself with seamen, whilst the enemy get numbers from
all quarters. It is not in the power of our Sicilian allies “ to aid us ; and should the cities of Italy, from whence we “ have our provisions, (hearing the extremity to which we “are reduced, and that you do not take the least care to send
us any succour) join the Syracusans, we are undone ; and “ the enemy will have no occasion to fight us.
“ I could write of things which would be more agreeable, “ but of none that could be more advantageous to you, nor “ which could give you a more just idea of the subjects on “ which you are to deliberate. I am sensible that you love * to have such advices only sent you as are pleasing ; but “ then I know on the other side, that when affairs turn out “ otherwise than you expected and hoped for, you accuse " those who deceived you ; which has induced me to give
you a sincere and genuine account of things, without concealing a single circumstance. By the way, I am to inform
you, that no complaints can be justly made either against “the officers or common soldiers, both having done their
duty very weil.
“ But now that the Sicilians join all their forces against us, “ and expect a new army from Peloponnesus ; you may lay “ this down as the foundation for your deliberations, that our
present troops are not sufficient; and, therefore, we either
must be recalled, or else a land or naval force, equal to “the first, must be sent us, with money in proportion. You "must also think of appointing a person to succeed me ; it
- with you.”
" being impossible for me, through my nephritic disorder, to
sustain any longer the weight of the command. I imagine " that I deserve this favour at your hands, on account of the * services I have done you, in the several commands confer“red upon me, so long as my health would permit me to " act.
“ To conclude: whatever resolution you may come to, " the request I have to make, is, that you would execute it “speedily, and in the very beginning of the spring. The “ succours which our enemies meet with in Sicily are all rea“ dy ; but those which they expect from Peloponnesus may “ be longer in coming. However, fix this in your minds, * that if you do not exert yourselves, the Lacedæmonians " will not fail, as they have already done, to be before-hand
The Athenians were strongly affected with this letter, which made as great an impression on them as Nicias expected. However, they did not think proper to appoint him a successor; and only nominated two officers who were under him, viz. Menander and Euthydemus, to assist him till other generals should be sent. Eurymedon and Demosthenes were chosen to succeed Lamachus and Alcibiades. The former set out immediately with ten gallies, and some money, about the winter solstice, to assure Nicias that a speedy succour should be sent him ; during which, the latter was raising troops and contributions, in order to set sail early in the spring.
6 The Lacedæmonians, on the other side, being supported by the Corinthians, were very industrious in preparing reinforcements to send into Sicily, and to enter Attica, in order to keep the Athenian fleet from sailing to that Island. Accordingly they entered Attica early, under the command of king Agis, and after having laid waste the country, they fortified Decelia ; having divided the work among all the forces, to make the greater dispatch. This post is about 120 furlongs from Athens, that is about six French leagues, and the same distance from Bæotia. Alcibiades was perpetually soliciting the Lacedæmonians; and could not be easy, till he had prevailed with them to begin that work. This annoyed the Athenians most of all : for as hitherto the enemy had been accustomed to retire after they had laid waste the Athenian territories, the latter were unmolested all the rest of the year; but since the fortifying of Decelia, the garrison left in it was continually making incursions, and alarming the Athenians, Athens being now become a kind of frontier town; for, in 9 120 talents.
A. M. 3591. Ant. J. C. 413. Thucyd. I. viš. po 494-490, and 502-504, Diod. t. iii. p. 140.
the daytime, a guard was mounted at all the gates ; and in the night, all the citizens were either on the walls, or under arins. Such vessels as brought provisions from the island of Eubæa, and which before had a much shorter passage by Decelia, were forced to go round about, in order to double the cape of Sunium; by which means provisions, as well as goods imported, grew much dearer. To heighten the calamity, upwards of 20,000 slaves, the greatest part of whom were artificers, went over to the enemy, to fly from the extreme misery with which the city was afflicted. The cattle of all kinds died. Most of the horses were lamed, being continually upon guard, or upon parties. Every thing being laid waste in this manner, and the Athenians enjoying no longer the revenues which arose from the produce of their lands, there was a prodigious scarcity of money; so that they were forced to take the twentieth part of all the imports, to supply their usual subsidies.
a In the meantime Gylippus, who had made the tour of Sicily, returned with as many men as he could raise in the whole island; and prevailed with the Syracusans to fit out the strongest fleet in their power, and to hazard a battle at sea, upon the presumption that the success would answer the greatness of the enterprise. This advice was strongly enforced by Hermocrates, who exhorted the Syracusans not to abandon to their enemies the empire of the seas. He observed, that the Athenians themselves had not received it from their ancestors, nor been always possessed of it: that the Persian war had in a manner forced them into the knowledge of naval affairs, notwithstanding two great obstacles, their natural disposition, and the situation of their city, which stood at a considerable distance from the sea : that they had made themselves formidable to other nations, not so much hy their real strength, as by their courage and intrepidity : that they ought to copy them ; and since they had to do with enemies who were so enterprising, it was fit they should be equally daring.
This advice was approved, and accordingly a large fleet was equipped. Gylippus led out all his land-forces in the night time, to attack the forts of Plemmyrium. Thirty-five Syracusan gallies which were in the great harbour, and 45 in the lesser, where was an arsenal for ships, were ordered to advance towards Plemmyrium, to amaze the Athenians, who would see themselves attacked both by sea and land at the same time. The Athenians, at this news, went on board also ; and, with 25 ships, sailed to fight the 35 Syracusan vessels which were sailing out against them from the great harbour ; and opposed 35 more to the 45 of the enemy,
a Thucyd. l. vii. p. 497-500. Plut, in Xic. p. 536. Dimil. p. 140,