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History of The Peloponnesian War - Book VI   


heavy infantry, with all the cavalry, charged and routed the Syracusan
horse with some loss; after which they set up a trophy for the cavalry
action.
The next day the Athenians began building the wall to the north of
the Circle, at the same time collecting stone and timber, which they
kept laying down towards Trogilus along the shortest line for their
works from the great harbour to the sea; while the Syracusans,
guided by their generals, and above all by Hermocrates, instead of
risking any more general engagements, determined to build a
counterwork in the direction in which the Athenians were going to
carry their wall. If this could be completed in time, the enemy's
lines would be cut; and meanwhile, if he were to attempt to
interrupt them by an attack, they would send a part of their forces
against him, and would secure the approaches beforehand with their
stockade, while the Athenians would have to leave off working with
their whole force in order to attend to them. They accordingly sallied
forth and began to build, starting from their city, running a cross
wall below the Athenian Circle, cutting down the olives and erecting
wooden towers. As the Athenian fleet had not yet sailed round into the
great harbour, the Syracusans still commanded the seacoast, and the
Athenians brought their provisions by land from Thapsus.
The Syracusans now thought the stockades and stonework of their
counterwall sufficiently far advanced; and as the Athenians, afraid of
being divided and so fighting at a disadvantage, and intent upon their
own wall, did not come out to interrupt them, they left one tribe to
guard the new work and went back into the city. Meanwhile the
Athenians destroyed their pipes of drinking-water carried
underground into the city; and watching until the rest of the
Syracusans were in their tents at midday, and some even gone away into
the city, and those in the stockade keeping but indifferent guard,
appointed three hundred picked men of their own, and some men picked
from the light troops and armed for the purpose, to run suddenly as
fast as they could to the counterwork, while the rest of the army
advanced in two divisions, the one with one of the generals to the
city in case of a sortie, the other with the other general to the
stockade by the postern gate. The three hundred attacked and took
the stockade, abandoned by its garrison, who took refuge in the
outworks round the statue of Apollo Temenites. Here the pursuers burst
in with them, and after getting in were beaten out by the
Syracusans, and some few of the Argives and Athenians slain; after
which the whole army retired, and having demolished the counterwork
and pulled up the stockade, carried away the stakes to their own
lines, and set up a trophy.
The next day the Athenians from the Circle proceeded to fortify
the cliff above the marsh which on this side of Epipolae looks towards
the great harbour; this being also the shortest line for their work to
go down across the plain and the marsh to the harbour. Meanwhile the
Syracusans marched out and began a second stockade, starting from
the city, across the middle of the marsh, digging a trench alongside
to make it impossible for the Athenians to carry their wall down to
the sea. As soon as the Athenians had finished their work at the cliff
they again attacked the stockade and ditch of the Syracusans. Ordering
the fleet to sail round from Thapsus into the great harbour of
Syracuse, they descended at about dawn from Epipolae into the plain,
and laying doors and planks over the marsh, where it was muddy and
firmest, crossed over on these, and by daybreak took the ditch and the
stockade, except a small portion which they captured afterwards. A
battle now ensued, in which the Athenians were victorious, the right
wing of the Syracusans flying to the town and the left to the river.
The three hundred picked Athenians, wishing to cut off their
passage, pressed on at a run to the bridge, when the alarmed
Syracusans, who had with them most of their cavalry, closed and routed
them, hurling them back upon the Athenian right wing, the first
tribe of which was thrown into a panic by the shock. Seeing this,

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