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History of The Peloponnesian War - Book IV   


in from the vast Tyrrhenian and Sicilian mains, have rightly given
it a bad reputation.
In this strait the Syracusans and their allies were compelled to
fight, late in the day, about the passage of a boat, putting out
with rather more than thirty ships against sixteen Athenian and
eight Rhegian vessels. Defeated by the Athenians they hastily set off,
each for himself, to their own stations at Messina and Rhegium, with
the loss of one ship; night coming on before the battle was
finished. After this the Locrians retired from the Rhegian
territory, and the ships of the Syracusans and their allies united and
came to anchor at Cape Pelorus, in the territory of Messina, where
their land forces joined them. Here the Athenians and Rhegians
sailed up, and seeing the ships unmanned, made an attack, in which
they in their turn lost one vessel, which was caught by a grappling
iron, the crew saving themselves by swimming. After this the
Syracusans got on board their ships, and while they were being towed
alongshore to Messina, were again attacked by the Athenians, but
suddenly got out to sea and became the assailants, and caused them
to lose another vessel. After thus holding their own in the voyage
alongshore and in the engagement as above described, the Syracusans
sailed on into the harbour of Messina.
Meanwhile the Athenians, having received warning that Camarina was
about to be betrayed to the Syracusans by Archias and his party,
sailed thither; and the Messinese took this opportunity to attack by
sea and land with all their forces their Chalcidian neighbour,
Naxos. The first day they forced the Naxians to keep their walls,
and laid waste their country; the next they sailed round with their
ships, and laid waste their land on the river Akesines, while their
land forces menaced the city. Meanwhile the Sicels came down from
the high country in great numbers, to aid against the Messinese; and
the Naxians, elated at the sight, and animated by a belief that the
Leontines and their other Hellenic allies were coming to their
support, suddenly sallied out from the town, and attacked and routed
the Messinese, killing more than a thousand of them; while the
remainder suffered severely in their retreat home, being attacked by
the barbarians on the road, and most of them cut off. The ships put in
to Messina, and afterwards dispersed for their different homes. The
Leontines and their allies, with the Athenians, upon this at once
turned their arms against the now weakened Messina, and attacked,
the Athenians with their ships on the side of the harbour, and the
land forces on that of the town. The Messinese, however, sallying
out with Demoteles and some Locrians who had been left to garrison the
city after the disaster, suddenly attacked and routed most of the
Leontine army, killing a great number; upon seeing which the Athenians
landed from their ships, and falling on the Messinese in disorder
chased them back into the town, and setting up a trophy retired to
Rhegium. After this the Hellenes in Sicily continued to make war on
each other by land, without the Athenians.
Meanwhile the Athenians at Pylos were still besieging the
Lacedaemonians in the island, the Peloponnesian forces on the
continent remaining where they were. The blockade was very laborious
for the Athenians from want of food and water; there was no spring
except one in the citadel of Pylos itself, and that not a large one,
and most of them were obliged to grub up the shingle on the sea
beach and drink such water as they could find. They also suffered from
want of room, being encamped in a narrow space; and as there was no
anchorage for the ships, some took their meals on shore in their turn,
while the others were anchored out at sea. But their greatest
discouragement arose from the unexpectedly long time which it took
to reduce a body of men shut up in a desert island, with only brackish
water to drink, a matter which they had imagined would take them
only a few days. The fact was that the Lacedaemonians had made
advertisement for volunteers to carry into the island ground corn,
wine, cheese, and any other food useful in a siege; high prices

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