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History of The Peloponnesian War - Book VI   


horses which were to be procured upon the spot), and thirty mounted
archers and three hundred talents of silver.
The same spring the Lacedaemonians marched against Argos, and went
as far as Cleonae, when an earthquake occurred and caused them to
return. After this the Argives invaded the Thyreatid, which is on
their border, and took much booty from the Lacedaemonians, which was
sold for no less than twenty-five talents. The same summer, not long
after, the Thespian commons made an attack upon the party in office,
which was not successful, but succours arrived from Thebes, and some
were caught, while others took refuge at Athens.
The same summer the Syracusans learned that the Athenians had been
joined by their cavalry, and were on the point of marching against
them; and seeing that without becoming masters of Epipolae, a
precipitous spot situated exactly over the town, the Athenians could
not, even if victorious in battle, easily invest them, they determined
to guard its approaches, in order that the enemy might not ascend
unobserved by this, the sole way by which ascent was possible, as
the remainder is lofty ground, and falls right down to the city, and
can all be seen from inside; and as it lies above the rest the place
is called by the Syracusans Epipolae or Overtown. They accordingly
went out in mass at daybreak into the meadow along the river Anapus,
their new generals, Hermocrates and his colleagues, having just come
into office, and held a review of their heavy infantry, from whom they
first selected a picked body of six hundred, under the command of
Diomilus, an exile from Andros, to guard Epipolae, and to be ready
to muster at a moment's notice to help wherever help should be
required.
Meanwhile the Athenians, the very same morning, were holding a
review, having already made land unobserved with all the armament from
Catana, opposite a place called Leon, not much more than half a mile
from Epipolae, where they disembarked their army, bringing the fleet
to anchor at Thapsus, a peninsula running out into the sea, with a
narrow isthmus, and not far from the city of Syracuse either by land
or water. While the naval force of the Athenians threw a stockade
across the isthmus and remained quiet at Thapsus, the land army
immediately went on at a run to Epipolae, and succeeded in getting
up by Euryelus before the Syracusans perceived them, or could come
up from the meadow and the review. Diomilus with his six hundred and
the rest advanced as quickly as they could, but they had nearly
three miles to go from the meadow before reaching them. Attacking in
this way in considerable disorder, the Syracusans were defeated in
battle at Epipolae and retired to the town, with a loss of about three
hundred killed, and Diomilus among the number. After this the
Athenians set up a trophy and restored to the Syracusans their dead
under truce, and next day descended to Syracuse itself; and no one
coming out to meet them, reascended and built a fort at Labdalum, upon
the edge of the cliffs of Epipolae, looking towards Megara, to serve
as a magazine for their baggage and money, whenever they advanced to
battle or to work at the lines.
Not long afterwards three hundred cavalry came to them from
Egesta, and about a hundred from the Sicels, Naxians, and others;
and thus, with the two hundred and fifty from Athens, for whom they
had got horses from the Egestaeans and Catanians, besides others
that they bought, they now mustered six hundred and fifty cavalry in
all. After posting a garrison in Labdalum, they advanced to Syca,
where they sat down and quickly built the Circle or centre of their
wall of circumvallation. The Syracusans, appalled at the rapidity with
which the work advanced, determined to go out against them and give
battle and interrupt it; and the two armies were already in battle
array, when the Syracusan generals observed that their troops found
such difficulty in getting into line, and were in such disorder,
that they led them back into the town, except part of the cavalry.
These remained and hindered the Athenians from carrying stones or
dispersing to any great distance, until a tribe of the Athenian

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