George Grote.

A history of Greece: from the earliest period to the close of the generation contemporary with Alexander the Great online

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first reached Rhegium. But during the many months of inaction
which he had allowed, the Syracusans hud barred out both these
possibilities, and had greatly augmented the difficulties of his^
intended enterprise. Tiiey had constructed a new wall, covering,
both their inner and their outer city — stretching across the whole
front which faced the slope of Epipolae, from the Great Haibour
to the opposite sea near Santa Bonagia — and expanding westward
so as to include within it the statue and consecrated ground of
Apollo Temenites, with the cliff near adjoining to it known by
the name of the Temenite Cliff. This was done for the express
purpose of lengthening the line indispensable for the besiegers to^
make their wall a good blockade.^ After it was finished, Nikias
could not begin his blockade from the side of the Great Harbour,
since he would have been obstructed by the precipitous southern
cliff of Epipolae. He was under the necessity of beginning his wall-
from a portion of the higher ground of Epipolae, and of carrying it
both along a greater space and higher up on the slope, until he
touched the Great Harbour at a point farther removed from

having thus become assailable only from the side of
le necessity so created for carrying on operations much
on the slope gave to the summit of that eminence
iportance than it had before possessed. Nikias, donbt-
led with good local information by the exiles, seems

rL76. i-rtixt^oy Si KcX oi it i \aa-a-ovot tit m,woTt ixtvro^-

TM x^ifiityi rovry vp6f r« & O' c r, ^v apa o^aAAMrrai, Ac
Ttfitviniv imhi roiifo'a- In Plan L, the letters Q, H, I, Te>

V wmpi wav rh wph% present this additional or adTanoad*

>Aav opitp, ovMc 11^ xortiflcation.

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to have made this discovery earlier than the Syracusan generals,
who (haying been occupied in augmenting their ^,,^,__-^
defences on another point where they were yet more importanoe
Tolnerable) did not make it imtil immediately before ^JSj^ S*^
the opening of the spring campaign. It was at that Epipoin.
critical moment that they proclaimed a full muster, the SyrSca-
for break of day, in the low mead on the left bank JJ^J^^ij^
of the Anapus. After an inspection of arms, and smnmit of
probably final distribution of forces for the approach- p"***"**
ing struggle, a chosen regiment of 600 hoplites was placed under
the orders of an Andrian exile named Diomilus, in order to act
as garrison of Epipoke, as well as to be in constant readiness
wherever they might be wanted.^ These men were intended to
occupy the strong ground on the summit of the hill, and thus
obstruct all the various approaches to it, seemingly not many in
number, and all narrow.

But before they had yet left their muster, to march to the
fiommit, intelligence reached them that the Athenians
were already in possession of it Nikias and la^i^l^
Lamachus, putting their troops on board at Katana, Jj^J^^n,^
bad sailed during the preceding night to a landing-
place not far from a place called Leon or the Lion, which was
only six or seven furlongs from Epipolse, and seems to have lain
between Megara and the peninsula of Thapsus. They here
landed their hoplites, and placed their fleet in safety under cover
of a palisade across the narrow isthmus of Thapsus, before day,
and before the Syracusans had any intimation of their arrival
Their hoplites immediately moved forward with rapid step to
ascend Epipol^e, mounting seemingly from the north-east, by the
ode towards Megara and farthest removed from Syracuse ; so
that they first reached the summit called £ury&luB, near the apex
of the triangle above described. From hence they commanded
the slope of £pipol» beneath them and the town of Syracuse to
the eastward. They were presently attacked by the Syracusans,
who broke up their muster in the mead as soon as they heard the
news. But as the road by which they had to march, approaching
Euryftlus from the south-west, was circuitous, and hardly less
than three "Rrigliftb miles in length, they had the mortification
1 niocyd. tL 90.


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of seeing that the Athenians were already masters of the position ;
and when they hastened up to retake it, the rapid pace had so
disordered their ranks, that the Athenians attacked them at great
advantage, besides having the higher ground. The Syracuaans
were driven back to their city with loss, Diomilus with half his
r^^iment being slain ; while the Athenians remained masters of
the high ground of Euryftlus, as well as of the upper portion of
the slope of Epipolae.^

This was a most important advantage — indeed, seemingly
Thesaooen ^^^^^^ ^^ ^^^ successful prosecution of the sic^e.
of this It was gained by a plan both well laid and well

euS^LItcr executed, groimded upon the omission of the Syra-
SStte**''*^* cusans to occupy a post of which they did not
prosecation at first perceive the importance — and which, in fact,
doge, ^jjy acquired its pre-eminent importance from the
new enlargement made by the Syracusans in their fortifications.
To that extent, therefore, it depended upon a favourable accident
which could not have been reasonably expected to occur. The
capture of Syracuse was certain, upon the supposition that the
attack and siege of the city had been commenced on the first
amval of the Athenians in the island, without giving time for
any improvement in its defensibility. But the moment such
delay was allowed, success ceased to be certain, depending more
or lefis upon this favourable turn of accident The Syracusans
actually did a great deal to create additional difficulty to the
besiegers, and might have done more, especially in regard to the
occupation of the high groimd above Epipol». Had they taken
this precaution, the effective prosecution of the siege would have
been rendered extremely difficult, if not completely frustrated.

On the next morning Nikias and Lamachus marched their
Fin* army down the slope of Epipolse near to the Syracusan

oF^ siege walls, and offered battle, which the enemy did not
work^of^e ^^^^P*"* They then withdrew the Athenian troops ;
Athenians after which their first operation was to construct a
caileSto*' ^^^ ^^ ^^® ^ig^ ground called Labdalum, near the
Circle. western end of the upper northern cliffs bordering

Epipolse, on the brink of the cliff, and looking northward
towards M^;ara. This was intended as a place of aecurity

1 Thucyd. tL 97.

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therein both treasures and stores might be deposited, so as to
leave the army unencumbered in its motions. The Athenian
cavalrj being now completed by the new arrivals from Egesta,
Nikias descended from Labdalum to a new position called Syke,
lower down on Epipolee, seemingly about midway between the
northern and southern clifis. He here constructed, with as much
rapidity as possible, a waUed enclosure, called the Circle, intended
as a centre from whence the projected wall of circumvallation
was to start northward towards the sea at Trogilus, southward
towards the Great Harbour. This circle appears to have covered
a considerable space, and was further protected by an outwork,
the front of which measured one thousand feet^ Astounded at
the rapidity with which the Athenians executed this construc-
tion,* the Syracusans marched their forces out, and prepared to
give battle in order to interrupt it But when the Athenians,
relinquishing the work, drew up on their side in battle order,
the Syracusan generals were so struck with their manifest
superiority in soldier-like array, as compared with the disorderly
trim of their own ranks, that they withdrew their soldiers back
into the city without venturing to engage, merely leaving a
body of horse to harass the operations of the besiegers, and
constrain them to keep in masses. The newly-acquired Athenian
cavalry, however, were here brought for the first time into
effectiye combat With the aid of one tribe of their own hoplites,
they charged the Syracusan horse, drove them off with some
loss, and erected their trophy. This is the only occasion on
which we read of the Athenian cavalry being brought into con-
flict : though Nikdas had made the absence of cavalry the great
reason for his prolonged inaction.

Interruption being thus checked, Nikias continued his block-
ading operations ; first completing the Circle,' then First
b^inning his wall of circumvallation in a northerly ^^^'ihe
direction from the Circle towards Trogilus : for Syracuaana.

iThncyd. tL 08. ix^tpcw vpbv riyr pused all other Greeks in the diligence

2»nir oc 'A9i|p<uoc, irosno Ka0t^6ff voi and skill with whlch they executed

irtiyionv rw jcvkAok Sii raxovf . fortifications : see some examples.

The probable position of this Athe- Thucyd. t. 76— S2 ; Xenoph. Ilellen.

Bian KvkXok or Circle will be foond on ir. 4, 18.

both the Plans in the Appendix, > Dr. Arnold, in his note on Thucyd.

marked by the letter K. ri, 98, says that the Circle is spoken of,

* The Athenians seem to hare sor- in one passage of Thucydid&i, as if is

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which purpose a portion of hlB forces were employed in bringing
stones and wood, and depositing them in proper places along the
intended line. So strongly did Hermokratls feel the inferiority
of the Sjracusan hoplites in the field, that he discouraged any
fresh general action, and proposed to construct a counter- wall or
cross-wall, traversing the space along which the Athenian
circumvallation must necessarily be continued, so as to impede
its further progress. A tenable counter-wall, if they could get
time to carry it sufficiently far to a defensible terminus, would
completely defeat the intent of the besiegers ; but even if Nikias
should interrupt the work by his attacks, the Syracusans calcu-
lated on being able to provide a sufficient force to repel him
during the. short time necessary for hastily constructing the
palisade or front outwork. Such palisade would serve them as a
temporary defence, while they finished the more elaborate cross-
wall behind it ; and would, even at the worst, compel Nikias to
suspend all his proceedings and employ his whole force to dis-
lodge them.*

towi never been completed, I oonstnie explanation is correct He evidently
tbUi one passage differently from him supposes that this first counter- wall of
(tU. 2, 4>— 7^ oAAy Tov KvicAov irpbt rhy the Syracusans was built (as we shall
TpwyiAov iiri rr^v Mpav OaKeuraay : see presently that the second counter-
where I think r^ oXAy rov «cv«eAov is work was) across the marsh, or low
samvalent to rript»9i tov kvkAov— as ground between the southern cliff
plainly appears from the accompanying of Epipohe and the Great Harbour,
mention of Trogilus and the northern " The ground being generally maishy
sea. I am persuaded that the Circle (T€A^T«6e«), there were only a few
WM finished ; and Dr. Arnold himself places where it could be crossed." But
indicates two passages in which it is I conceire this supposition to be
distinctly spoken of as having been erroneous. The first counter-wall of the
completed. See Appendix to this Syracusans was carried, as it seems to
volume. me, up the slope of Epipoln, between
.Thucyd. tL 99. ^woreixiC*^^ *^« Athenian circle and the soathera
o« autiyov iiSxti tXvai, (roU Ivpaxo- cliff: it commenced at the Syraoiiflaa
<rioit) fl Ueiyoi (the Athenians) c/mAAoi^ newly-erected advanced waD, encloaing
o^eiv rh rnixot * xal ct ^<£<r«iav, avo- the Temenitis. This was all hardy firm
icAri<r«(f yCyytvBaHf koX ofia koX iv rovry ground, such as the Athenians could
€4^ «rt^oi)0otcv, fUpoi avTiwijiiretv ovroit march across at any point : there
nis oTpariaf, koX ^$iv«iv avroi vjp o x a- might periiaps be some rougimeeaoe
r^kafifidvoyres rcU aravpon tA« here and there, but they wonldoe mere
* 9.^.o o V V • hceivovt H &v wavoijuitunft exceptions to the gencoal fiharaottw of
TQV fpyov wiinai w vp6« ff^at Tp4m<r0ai. the ground.

—The probable course of this first It appears to me that rius i^6dmft

counter- wall is marked on Plan L by means simply **the attacks of the

the letters N, O. Athenians '^— without intending to de-

The Scholiast here explains rit note any special assailable points: — m>o-

i4t66ov9 to mean rcL BdEoi/uMi— adding KaraKanPavtiv Tcl« i^6iovf means *^to

&Afy« 6i rot iwifi^Biivai flvW^uro, Sta to get beforehand with the attacks " (see

Tf A/utrv^cf eXvai rh YMp^r. Though he Thucyd. I. 67, t. SOX This is in tact

is here foUowed by the best com- tiie more usual meaning of «^o<o<(com«

mentators, I cannot think that his pare viL 6 ; viL iS;LS; t. 36 ; tL eg^

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Accordingly they took their start from the poetem gate near
the gpove of Apollo TemenitSs — a gate in the new jx^^j^
wall erected fonr or five months before to enlarge tion, aonth
the fortified space of the city. From this point, Athenian
which was lower down on the slope of Epipoke than Circle-^ts
the Athenian Circle, they carried their palisade and ^^^ *
coonter^wall np the slope, in a direction calculated to intersect
the intended line of hostile circumvallation southward of the
Circle. The nautical population from Ortygia could be employed
in this enterprise, since the city was still completely imdisturbed
by sea and mistress of the Great Harbour— the Athenian fleet
not having yet moved from Thapsus. Besides this active crowd
of workmen, the sacred olive-trees in the Temenite grove were
cut down to serve as materials ; and by such efforts the work
was presently finished to a sufficient distance for traversing and
intercepting the blockading wall intended to come southward
from the Circle. It seems to have terminated at the brink of
the precipitous southern cliff of Epipolai, which prevented the
Atiienians from turning it and attacking it in flank; while it was
defended in front by a stockade and topped with wooden towers
for discharge of missiles. One tribe of hoplites was left to defend
it, while the crowd of Syracusans who had either been employed
on the work or on guard returned back into the city.

During all this process, Nikias had not thought it prudent to
interrupt theuL^ Employed as he seems to have been
on the Cirde, and on the wall branching out from the ■tormed,
Cirde northward, he was unwilling to march across de^oye^
the slope of Epipolse to attack them with half his 5^*u
forces, leaving his own rear exposed to attack from
the numerous Syracusans in the city, and his own Circle only
partiaUy guarded. Moreover, by such delay he was enabled to
prosecute his own part of the circumvallation without hindrance,
and to watch for an opportunity of assaulting the uew counter-
wall with advantage. Such an opportunity soon occurred, just

** attack, appiYiacfa, rlsit/' Ac There It will be seen that argaments hare

are donbtleM other passagee In which been founded anon the inadmiasible

it means " the way or road through sense which the Scholiast here giyes to

which the attack was made ** : in one the word £^o6oi : see Dr. Anufld,

of these, howerer (vii. 61X all the beet Memoir on the Bflap of Syracuse,
edStoTs now read ividw instead of '— - . - -— - ... —

App. to his ed. of Thuc toL iit p. 871.
f Thucyd. ▼!. 100.

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at the time when lie liad accomplished the further important
object of destroying the aqueducts which supplied the city,
partially at least, with water for drinking. The Syracusane
appear to have been filled with confidence both by the completion
of their counter-wall — which seemed an eflfective bar to the
besiegers — and by his inaction. The tribe left on guard pre-
sently began to relax in their vigilance : instead of occupying the
wall, tents were erected behind it to shelter them from the mid-
day sun ; while some even permitted themselves to take repose
during that hour within ijie city walls. Such negligence did
not escape the Athenian generals, who silently prepared an
assault for midday. Three hundred chosen hoplitcs, with some
light troops clothed in panoplies for the occasion, were instructed
to sally out suddenly and run across straight to attack the
stockade and counter-wall, while the main Athenian force
marched in two divisions under Nikias and Lamachus, half
towards the city walls to prevent any succour from coming out
of the gates — half towards the Temenite postern-gate from
whence the stockade and cross-wall commenced. The rapid
forward movement of the chosen three hundred was crowned
with full success. They captured both the stockade and the
counter-wall, feebly defended by its guards ; who, taken by
surprise, abandoned their post and fled along behind their wall
to enter the city by the Temenite postern-gate. Before all of
them could get in, however, both the pursuing three hundred
and the Athenian division which marched straight to that point,
had partially come up with them : so that some of these assail-
ants even forced their way along with them through the gate
into the interior of the Temenite city-wall. Here, however, the
Syracusan strength within was too much for them : these fore-
most Athenians and Argeians were thrust out again with loss.
it the general movement of the Athenians had been completely
umphant They pulled down the counter-waU, plucked up
i paUsade, and carried the materials away for the use of their
n circumvallation.

A^ the recent Syracusan counter-work had been carried to the
ink of the southern cliff, which rendered it unassailable in flank,
kias was warned of the necessity of becoming master of this
Of, so as to deprive them of the same resource in future.

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Chap. i^tt.



Accordingly, without staying to finish his blockading wall rega-
larlv and continnonsly from the Circle southward,
across the slope of EpipoUe, he left the Circle under copies £
guard and marched across at once to take possession of ^^^
tiie southern clifi^ at the point where the blockading proaecatM
wall was intended to reach it This point of the blockade
southern cliff he immediately fortified as a defensive gJJ^**' **"
position, whereby he accomplished two objects. Firsts
he prevented the Syracusans from again employing the cliff as a
flank defence for a second counter-walL^ Next, he acquired the
means of providing a safe and easy road of communication be-
tween the high ground of EpipolsB and the low marshy ground
beneath, which divided Epipolas frx)m the Great Harbour, and
across which the Athenian wall of drcumvallation must neces-
sarily be presently carried. As his troops would have to carry
on simultaneous operations, partly on the high ground above,
pardy on the low ground beneath, he could not allow them to
be separated from each other by a precipitous cliff which would
prevent ready mutual assistance. The intermediate space be-
tween the Circle and the fortified point of the cliff was for the
time left with an unfinished wall, with the intention of coming
back to it (as was in fiEu^ afterwards done, and this portion of
wall was in the end completed). The Circle, though isolated,

iTIwcyd. Ti 101. if «■ AiTTcpa^

*»o rov KiiKkov fnix^ov oi 'ABif
iwt t4» KpiMftybr t4i» vwip rov ikovt, ht
tm'Bmtwokmv rrnvrji vob«^ rkr iiMyat^
Ai|MrB epf, Kcl ^vfP avTOi« fipaxvra-
T»r iyiyrcro Karafiaat di^ rov hfiakov
Mi Tov cAavc it T^ A4/fctfy« T^ wpvnC'

^ f gtre in the tflort what I heUere
tohe the meaoioff of this Mntence,
womn the words A«6 rov k^kAov are
Mt dear, and have been differently
fwtraed. QOUer in his flnt edition
hid eoQstmed them as if it stood
•PCftfic y o c imh rov ki&kKov I as if tiie
tortttc aaon now begnn on the cliff was
taatbttunM and in actaal junction witii
tiM Cirole. In his second edition he
■sens to xeHnqoish this opinion, and
w ^anslate them in a manner similar
to Dr. Arnold, who considers them as
MlUVolentto amh rov kUkXov boumujtvou

itlbe' •

bfttnotataU imp^ring that

vonE peifonned was continnons with

the Circle, which he beUoTes not to
hare been the fact If thos constmed
the words would imply, ** starting from
the Circle as a base of operations'*.
Agreeing with Dr. Arnold in his con-
ception of the erent signified, I incline,
in constininff the words, to proceed
upon the anuogy of two or three pas-
sages in ThncydT L 7; L 46; L 90; Tl.64
— a* Ik iraAoMU ir6A«ic <icL ^v knvrtiav
foivoAv Arrtorxov<rav Awk •aXdO'O'ij?
ItcAXoi' Mic^o>0i)«'ay . . . Jtrrl
Si Xifiriv, Kou, w6\it virifi ecbtvv icctrai
ivb $akdvo-7it ir rn^EktudnSi riii
Btnrfnan8o9t 'E^vpn. In these pas-
sages aw6 is used in the same sense
as we find avoOtv, !▼. 126, signifying
*' apart from, at some distance from " ;
but not implying any accompanying
idea of motion, or proceeding from,
either literal or metaphorical

** The Athenians began to fortify, at
some distance from their circle, the
cliff aboTO the marsh,** Ac

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work of the

I the

the river

was strong enough for the time to maintain itself against attack,
and was adequately garrisoned.
By this new movement, the Syracusans were debarred from
carrying a second counter-wall on the same side of
EpipolflB, since the enemy were masters of the ter-
minating cliff on the southern side of the slope. They
now turned their operations to the lower ground or
marsh between the southern cliff of Epipolss and the
Qreat Harbour ; being as yet free on that side, since
the Athenian fleet was still at Thapeus. Across that
marsh — and seemingly as far as the river Anapus, to
serve as a flank barrier— they resolved to carry a palisade work
with a ditch, so as to intersect the line which the Athenians must
next pursue in completing the southernmost portion of their
circumvaUation. They so pressed the prosecution of this new
cross palisade, beginning from the lower portion of their own
city-T^ills, and stretching in a south-westerly direction across the
low ground as far as the river Anapus, that by the time the new
Athenian fortification of the cliff was completed, the new Syra-
cusan obstacle was completed also,^ and a stockade with a ditch
seemed to shut out the besiegers from reaching the Great
Lamachus overcame the difficulty before him with ability and
bravery. Descending unexpectedly, one morning
before daybreak, from his fort on the cliff at Epipoke
into the low ground beneath — and providing his
troops with planks and broad gates to bridge over the
marsh where it was scarcely passable — ^he contrived
to reach and surprise the paiUsade with the first dawn
of morning. Orders were at the same time given for
the Athenian fleet to sail round from Thapsus into the Great
Harbour, so as to divert the attention of the enemy, and get on
the rear of the new palisade work. But before the fleet could
arrive, the palisade and ditch had been carried, and its defenders
driven off. A large Syracusan force came out from the city to
sustain them, and retake it ; bringing on general action in the
low ground between the Cliff of Epipolse, the Harbour, and the




and taken







1 The conne and extent (as I con- palisade, and ditch will be found
ceiTO it) of this second counter- work, marked on Plan I., by the letters P, Q.

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riTer Anapua. The superior discipline of the Athenians proved
saccessf ul : the Syracnsans were defeated and driven back on all
sides, so that their right wing fled into the city, and their left
(indnding the larger portion of their best force, the horsemen),
along the banks of the river Anapns, to reach the bridge.
Flushed with victory, the Athenians hoped to cut them off from
this retreat, and a chosen body of 300 hoplites ran fast in hopes
of getting to the bridge first In this hasty movement they fell
into sach disorder that the Syracnsan cavaliy tamed upon
them, pat them to flight, and threw them back npon the Athe-
nian light wing, to which the fugitives communicated their own
panic and disorder. The fate of the battle appeared to be turning

Online LibraryGeorge GroteA history of Greece: from the earliest period to the close of the generation contemporary with Alexander the Great → online text (page 12 of 62)