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History of The Peloponnesian War - Book VI   


Lamachus came to their aid from the Athenian left with a few archers
and with the Argives, and crossing a ditch, was left alone with a
few that had crossed with him, and was killed with five or six of
his men. These the Syracusans managed immediately to snatch up in
haste and get across the river into a place of security, themselves
retreating as the rest of the Athenian army now came up.
Meanwhile those who had at first fled for refuge to the city, seeing
the turn affairs were taking, now rallied from the town and formed
against the Athenians in front of them, sending also a part of their
number to the Circle on Epipolae, which they hoped to take while
denuded of its defenders. These took and destroyed the Athenian
outwork of a thousand feet, the Circle itself being saved by Nicias,
who happened to have been left in it through illness, and who now
ordered the servants to set fire to the engines and timber thrown down
before the wall; want of men, as he was aware, rendering all other
means of escape impossible. This step was justified by the result, the
Syracusans not coming any further on account of the fire, but
retreating. Meanwhile succours were coming up from the Athenians
below, who had put to flight the troops opposed to them; and the fleet
also, according to orders, was sailing from Thapsus into the great
harbour. Seeing this, the troops on the heights retired in haste,
and the whole army of the Syracusans re-entered the city, thinking
that with their present force they would no longer be able to hinder
the wall reaching the sea.
After this the Athenians set up a trophy and restored to the
Syracusans their dead under truce, receiving in return Lamachus and
those who had fallen with him. The whole of their forces, naval and
military, being now with them, they began from Epipolae and the cliffs
and enclosed the Syracusans with a double wall down to the sea.
Provisions were now brought in for the armament from all parts of
Italy; and many of the Sicels, who had hitherto been looking to see
how things went, came as allies to the Athenians: there also arrived
three ships of fifty oars from Tyrrhenia. Meanwhile everything else
progressed favourably for their hopes. The Syracusans began to despair
of finding safety in arms, no relief having reached them from
Peloponnese, and were now proposing terms of capitulation among
themselves and to Nicias, who after the death of Lamachus was left
sole commander. No decision was come to, but, as was natural with
men in difficulties and besieged more straitly than before, there
was much discussion with Nicias and still more in the town. Their
present misfortunes had also made them suspicious of one another;
and the blame of their disasters was thrown upon the ill-fortune or
treachery of the generals under whose command they had happened; and
these were deposed and others, Heraclides, Eucles, and Tellias,
elected in their stead.
Meanwhile the Lacedaemonian, Gylippus, and the ships from Corinth
were now off Leucas, intent upon going with all haste to the relief of
Sicily. The reports that reached them being of an alarming kind, and
all agreeing in the falsehood that Syracuse was already completely
invested, Gylippus abandoned all hope of Sicily, and wishing to save
Italy, rapidly crossed the Ionian Sea to Tarentum with the Corinthian,
Pythen, two Laconian, and two Corinthian vessels, leaving the
Corinthians to follow him after manning, in addition to their own ten,
two Leucadian and two Ambraciot ships. From Tarentum Gylippus first
went on an embassy to Thurii, and claimed anew the rights of
citizenship which his father had enjoyed; failing to bring over the
townspeople, he weighed anchor and coasted along Italy. Opposite the
Terinaean Gulf he was caught by the wind which blows violently and
steadily from the north in that quarter, and was carried out to sea;
and after experiencing very rough weather, remade Tarentum, where he
hauled ashore and refitted such of his ships as had suffered most from
the tempest. Nicias heard of his approach, but, like the Thurians,
despised the scanty number of his ships, and set down piracy as the
only probable object of the voyage, and so took no precautions for the

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