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work or that, should they endeavour to prevent it, it would be sufficient for the Syracusans to oppose them with a part of their forces, after having shut up such avenues as were most accessible with strong palisades; and that the Athenians, on the contrary, would be obliged to send for all their forces, and entirely abandon their works.
Accordingly they came out of their city, and working with inexpressible ardour, they began to raise a wall; and, in order to carry it on with less molestation, they covered it with strong palisades, and flanked it with wooden towers, at proper distances, to defend it. The Athenians suffered the Syracusans to carry on their works undisturbed, because, had they marched only part of their troops against them, they would have been too weak; and if they had brought them all, they then must have been obliged to discontinue their works, which they were resolved not to do. The work being completed, the Syracusans left a body of troops to defend the palisade and guard the wall, and then returned into the city.
In the meantime the Athenians cut off the canals by which water was conveyed into the city; and observing that the Syracusan soldiers, who had been left to guard the wall, were very negligent in their duty; some returning at noon either into the city or their tents, and the rest not keeping a proper guard; they detached 300 chosen soldiers, and some light infantry, to attack this post; during which the rest of the army marched towards the city to prevent any succours from coming out of it. Accordingly, the 300 soldiers having forced the palisade, pursued those who guarded it as far as that part of the city wall which covered Temenos, where pouring in indiscriminately with them, they were repulsed by the inhabitants with loss. The whole army afterwards demolished the wall, and pulled up the palisades of the intrenchment, and carried them off.
After this success whereby the Athenians were masters of the northern parts, they began, the very next day, a still more important work, and which would quite finish their inclosure of the city; viz. to carry a wall from the hills of Epipole, westward, through the plain and the fens as far as the great harbour. To prevent this, the besieged, beginning the same kind of work as they had carried on, on the other side, ran a trench, lined with palisades, from the city through the fens, to prevent the Athenians from carrying their contravallation as far as the sea. But the latter, after finishing the first part of the wall on the hills of Epipolæ, resolved to attack this new work. For this purpose they ordered their fleet to sail from Thapsus to the great harbour of Syracuse, as it had hitherto continued in that road; and the besieged.
had always the sea open to them, by which the besiegers were obliged to get their provisions from Thapsus by land. The Athenians came down therefore from Epipolæ into the plain, before daybreak; when throwing planks and beams in that part where the fen was only slimy and more firm than in other places, they immediately carried the greatest part of the fossé lined with palisades, and then the rest, after having beaten the Syracusans, who gave way and retired; such as were on the right, towards the city, and the rest towards the river. Three hundred chosen Athenians having attempted to cut off the passage of the latter, flew towards the bridge; but the enemy's cavalry, the greatest part of which were drawn up in battle, repulsed them; and afterwards charged the right wing of the Athenians, and put the first battalions into disorder. Lamachus perceiving this from the left wing, where he commanded, ran thither with the Argives and some archers; but having passed a trench, and being abandoned by his soldiers, he was killed with five or six who had followlowed him. The enemy immediately passed the river, and seeing the rest of the army come up, they retired.
At the same time their right wing, which had returned towards the city, resumed courage from this success, and drew up in order of battle before the Athenians; after having detached some troops to attack the fort on the hills of Epipola, which served as a magazine, to the enemy, and was thought to be unguarded. They forced an intrenchment that covered the fort, but Nicias saved it. He had remained in this fort in consequence of illness, and was at that time in his bed, with only his domestics about him. Animated by the danger and the presence of the enemy, he struggles with his indisposition; rises up, and commands his servants to set fire immediately to all the timber, lying between the intrenchment and the fort for the military engines, and to the engines themselves. This unexpected conflagration stopped the Syracusans, saved Nicias, the fort, and all the rich effects of the Athenians, who made haste to the relief of that general. At the same time, the fleet was seen sailing into the great harbour, according to the orders given for that purpose. The Syracusans having perceived this from the hill, and fearing they should be attacked from behind, and overpowered by the landforces retired, and returned to the city with all their forces; now no longer expecting, after having lost their fossé lined with palisades, that it would be possible for them to prevent the enemy from carrying on their contravallation as far as
In the meantime the Athenians, who had contented themselves with building a single wall on the hills of Epipola, and through such places as were craggy and of difficult ac
cess, being come down into the plain, began to build, at the foot of the hills, a double wall, intending to carry it as far as the sea: viz. a wall of contravallation against the besieged, and another of circumvallation against those Syracusan troops which were out of the city, and such allies as might come to its aid.
From thenceforth Nicias, who was now sole general, conceived great hopes; for several cities of Sicily, which hitherto had not declared for either side, came and joined him: and there arrived from all quarters vessels laden with provisions for his army, all parties being eager to go over to him, because he had acquired the superiority, and been exceedingly successful in all his undertakings. The Syracusans, seeing themselves blocked up both by sea and land, and losing all hopes of being able to defend their city any longer, already proposed an accommodation. Gylippus, who was coming from Lacedæmon to their assistance, having heard, on his passage, the extremity to which they were reduced, and looking upon the whole island as lost, sailed forward nevertheless; not with the view of defending Sicily, but only of preserving to the nations of Italy such cities as were subject to them in that island, if it were not too late, and if this could be done. For fame had declared, in all places, that the Athenians had already possessed themselves of the whole island; and were headed by a general, whose wisdom and good fortune rendered him invincible. Nicias himself, now (contrary to his natural disposition) confiding in his own strength, and elate from his success; persuaded also by the secret advices which were brought him daily from Syracuse, and the messengers who were sent to him, that the city would immediately capitulate, did not regard Gylippus's approach, and in consequence took no precautions to prevent his landing, especially when he heard that he brought but very few vessels; terming him a trifling pirate, not worthy, in any manner, of his notice. But a general ought to be extremely careful not to abate his cares and vigilance upon account of success, because the least negligence may ruin every thing. Had Nicias sent the smallest detachment to oppose Gylippus's landing, he would have taken Syracuse, and the whole affair had been ended.
The Syracusans resolve to capitulate, but Gylippus's Arrival changes the Face of Affairs. Nicias is forced by his Colleagues to engage in a Sea-fight, and is overcome. His Land-forces are also defeated.
NINETEENTH YEAR OF THE WAR.
a The fortifications of the Ather were now almost completed; and they had drawn a double wall, near half a league in length, along the plain and the fens, towards the great port, and had almost reached it. There now remained, on the side towards Trogilus, only a small part of the wall to be finished. The Syracusans were therefore on the brink of ruin, and had no hopes left, as they were no longer able to defend themselves, and did not expect any succours. For this reason they resolved to surrender. Accordingly, a council was held to settle articles of capitulation, in order to present them to Nicias; and several were of opinion, that it would be proper to capitulate soon, before the city should be entirely invested.
It was at that very instant, and in the most critical juncture, that an officer, Gongyles by name, arrived from Corinth on board a ship with three benches of oars. At his arrival, all the citizens flocked round him. He informed them, that Gylippus would be with them immediately, and was followed by a great many other gallies, which came to their aid. The Syracusans, astonished, or rather stupified, as it were, with this news, could scarce believe what they heard. Whilst they were thus fluctuating and in doubt, a Courier arrived from Gylippus to inform them of his approach, and order them to march out all their troops to meet him. He himself, after having taken a fort in his way, marched in order of battle directly for Epipola; and ascending by Euryelus, as the Athenians had done, he prepared to attack them from without, whilst the Syracusans should charge them, on their side, with the forces of Syracuse and his. The Athenians, exceedingly surprised at his arrival, drew up hastily, and without order, under the walls. With regard to himself, laying down his arms when he approached, he sent word by a herald, that he would allow the Athenians five days to leave Sicily. Nicias did not condescend to make the least answer to this proposal; and some of his soldiers bursting out a laughing, asked the herald, "Whether the presence of a Lacedæmonian cloak,
a A. M. 3591 Ant J. C. 413 Thucyd. 1. vii. p. 485-489. Plut. in Nic. D 535, 539 Died. 1. șiii. p. 138, 139, b Jeges.
"and a trifling wand, could make any change in the present "state of the city." Both sides therefore prepared for battle.
Gylippus stormed the fort of Labdalon, and cut to pieces all who were found in it. The same day an Athenian galley was taken, as it sailed into the harbour. The besieged afterwards drew a wall from the city, towards Epipolæ, in order to cut (about the extremity of it) the single wall of the Athenians; and to deprive them of all communication with the troops that were posted in the intrenchments which surrounded the city on the north side towards Tyche and Trogilus. The Athenians, after having finished the wall, which extended as far as the sea towards the great harbour, were returned to the hills. Gylippus perceiving, in the single wall which the Athenians had built on the hills of Epipolæ, one part that was weaker and lower than the rest, marched thither in the night with his troops; but being discovered by the Athenians, who were encamped without, he was forced to retire, upon seeing them advance directly towards him. They raised the wall higher, and themselves undertook the guard of it; after having fixed their allies in the several posts of the remainder of the intrenchment.
Nicias, on the other side, thought proper to fortify the cape of Plemmyrium, which, by its running into the sea, straitened the mouth of the great harbour; and his design thereby was, to procure provisions, and all other things he might want, the more easily; because the Athenians, by possessing themselves of that post, drew near the little port, wherein lay the chief naval forces of the Syracusans, and were the better able to observe their various motions; and that besides, by having the sea open, they would not be forced to have all their provisions from the bottom of the great harbour; as they must have been, should the enemy, by seizing on the mouth of it, oblige them to keep close in the harbour, in the manner they then did. For Nicias, since the arrival, of Gylippus, had no hopes left but from the side next the sea. Sending therefore his ficet and part of his troops thither, he built three forts, sheltered by which the ships were enabled to lie at anchor; he also secured there a great part of the baggage and ammunition. It was then that the troops on board the fleet suffered very much; for, as they were obliged to go a great way to fetch wood and water, they were surrounded by the enemy's horse, the third part of which were posted at Olympia, to prevent the garrison of Plemmyrium from sallying, and were masters of the open country. Advice being brought to Nicias, that the Corinthian fleet was advancing, he sent 20 gallies against it; ordering them to observe the enemy towards Locris, Rhegium, the rest of the avenues of Sicily.