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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opposite quality ; from inability to get clear of two sentiments
which had become deeply engraven on their minds — ^ideas of
Sicilian conquest, and confidence in Nikias.
A little more of this alleged fickleness— or easy escape from

past associations and impressibility to actual circum-
from SpStBL stances — ^would have been at the present juncture a
iinwdS^ tutelary quality to Athens. She would then have

appreciated more justly the increased hazards thick-
ening around her both in Sicily and at home. War with Sparta,
though not yet actually proclaimed, had become impending and
inevitable. Even in the preceding winter, the Lacedaemonians
had listened favourably to tlie recommendation of Alkibiades^ that
they should establish a fortified post at Dekeleia in Attica. They
had not yet indeed brought themselves to execution of this
1 ThuQ-d. vL 08.

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resolve ; for the peace between them and Athens, though indi-
rectly broken in many ways, still subsisted in name — and they
hesitated to break it openly, partly because they knew that the
breach of peace had been on their side at the beginning of the
Peloponnesian war, attributing to this fault their capital misfor-
tune at Sphakteria.^ Athens on her side had also scrupulously
avoided direct violation of the Lacedsemonian territory, in spite
of much solicitation from her allies at Argos. But her reserve on
this point gave way during the present summer, probably at the
time when her prospect of taking Syracuse appeared certain.
The Lacedaemonians having invaded and plundered the Argeian
territory, thirty Athenian triremes were sent to aid in its defence,
under Pythoddrus with two colleagues. This armament disem-
barked on the eastern coast of Laconia near Prasiss and com-
mitted devastations, which direct act of hostility— coming in
addition to the marauding excursions of the garrison of Pylus,
and to the refusal of pacific redress at Athens — satisfied the
Lacedaemonians that the peace had been now first and undeniably
broken by their enemy, so that they might with a safe conscience
recommence the war.'

Such was the state of feeling between the two great powers of
Central Qreece in November, 414 Ra, when the envoys Beaolntton
arrived from Syracuse — envoys from Nikias on the ofSigutato
one part> from Gylippus and the Syracusans on the Attica
other— each urgently calling for further support The J^d^J^ii
Corinthians and Syracusans vehemently pressed their further re-
claim at Sparta ; Alkibiad^ also renewed his instances iumtB to
for the occupation of Dekeleia. It was in the face of ^^^^'
such impending liability to renewed Peloponnesian invasion
that the Athenians took their resolution, above commented on,
to send a second army to Syracuse and prosecute the siege with
vigour. If there were any hesitation yet remaining on the part
of the Lacedaemonians, it disappeared so soon as they were made
aware of the imprudent resolution of Athens ; which not only
created an imperative necessity for sustaining Syracuse, but
also rendered Athens so much more vulnerable at home, by
removing the better part of her force. Accordingly, very soon
after the vote passed at Athens, an equally decisive resolution for
1 Thacyd. tU. 18. * Thucyd. tI 106 ; Tii. 18.

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direct hostilities was adopted at Sparta. It was determined that
a Peloponnesian allied force should be immediately prepared, to
be sent at the first opening of spring to Syracuse ; and that at
the same time Attica should be invaded, and the post of Dekeleia
fortified. Orders to this effect were immediately transmitted to
the whole body of Peloponnesian allies ; especially requisitions
for implements, materialB, and workmen, towards the construction
of the projected fort at Dekeleia.^


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Thb Syracusan war now no longer stands apart, as an event by
itself, but becomes absorbed in tbe general war re- j^^^,,^,.
kindling thronghont Greece. Never was any winter like m-
80 actively and extensively employed in military pre- ISro^boa*
parations, as the winter of 414 — 413 B.a, the months SJ^Sffth*
immediately preceding that which Thucydid^ terms winter of
the nineteenth spring of the Peloponnedan war, but *^*~^^^"-^
which other historians call the beginning of the Dekeleian war.^
While Eurymeddn went with his ten triremes to Syracuse even
in midwinter, DemosthenSs exerted himself all the winter to get
together the second armament for early spring. Twenty other
Athenian triremes were further sent round Peloponndsua to the
station of Naupaktas — to prevent any Corinthian reinforcements
firom sailing out of the Corinthian Gull Against these latter,
the Corinthians on their side prepared twenty-five fresh triremes,
to serve as a convoy to the transports carrying their hoplites.'
In Corinth, Sikydn, and Boeotia, as weU as at Lacedssmdn, levies
of hoplites were going on for the armament to Syracuse — at the
same time that everything was getting ready for the occupation
of Dekeleia. Lastly, Gylippus was engaged with not less activity
in stirring up all Sicily to take a more decisive part in the coming
yearns struggle.

From Cape Taenarus in Laconia, at the earliest moment of
spring, embarked a force of 600 Lacedaemonian hop-
lites (Helots and Neodamodes) under the Spartan

iDlodftr. xiitS. «Thiicyd.viilT.

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Ekkritus, and 300 BoBOtian hoplites under the Thebans Xen6a
and Nikon, with the Thespian Hegesandrus. They were directed
to cross the sea southward to Kyrene in Libya, and from thence
to make their way along the African coast to Sicily. At the
same time a body of 700 hoplites under Alexarchus — ^partly
Corinthians, partly hired Arcadians, partly Sikyonians, under
constraint from their powerful neighbours ^ — departed from the
north-west of Peloponnesus and the mouth of the Corinthian
Gulf for Sicily — the Corinthian triremes watching them until
they were past the Athenian squadron at Naupaktus.

These were proceedings of importance ; but the most important
Invasion of ^^ *^ ^^ ^® re-invasion of Attica at the same time
Attica hj by the great force of the Peloponnesian alliance, under
tiSpelo- t^e Spartan king Agis, son of Archidamus. Twelve
SrolT^rti. y'^™ ^^ elapsed since Attica last felt the hand of
ficaiioii of the destroyer, a little before the siege of Sphakteria.
***• The plain in the neighbourhood of Athens was now
first laid waste, after which the invaders proceeded to their
special purpose of erecting a fortified post for occupation at
Dekeleia. The work, apportioned among the allies present, who
had come prepared with the means of executing it, was com-
pleted during the present summer, and a garrison was established
there composed of contingents relieving each other at intervals,
under the command of king Agis himself. Dekeleia was situated
on an outlying eminence belonging to the range called Pam^
about fourteen miles to the north of Athens, near the termina-
tion of the plain of Athens, and commanding an extensive view
of that plain as well as of the plain of Eleusis. The hill on
which it stood, if not the fort itself^ was visible even from the
walls of Athens. It was admirably situated both as a central
point for excursions over Attica, and for communication with
Boeotia ; while the road from Athens to Ordpus, the main com-
munication with Euboea, passed through the gorge immediately
imder it'

We read with amazement, and the contemporary world saw
with yet greater amazement, that while this important work
was actually going on, and while the whole Peloponnesian con-

iThncyd. tU. 19-^58. 2ucv«moi SThucyd. viL 1»— 28, with Dr.
ayayxflurrol <rrp«rci;oKrcc. Arnold's note.

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ChaP.LX. spartan invasion of A!l!nGA—DBKXLXIi.VOBTIFI£D. 123

federacy was renewing its pressure with redoubled force upon
Athens, at that very moment,^ the Athenians sent g^eond ex-
oat, not only a fleet of thirty triremes under Chari- sedition
kles to annoy the coasts of Peloponnesus, but also aumus
the great armament which they had resolved upon §^^^
under Demostben^topush offensive operations against ooder De-
Syracuse. The force under the latter general consisted ™^^ ^
of 60 Athenian and 5 Chian triremes ; of 1200 Athenian hoplites
of the best dass, chosen from the citizen muster-roll ; with a
considerable number of hoplites besides, from the subject-allies
and elsewhere. There had been also engaged on hire 1500
peltasts from Thrace, of the tribe called Dii ; but these men did
not arrive in time, so that Demosthenfo set sail without
them.' Charikl^ having gone forward to take aboard a body of
aUies from Aigos, the two fleets joined at ^Egina, inflicted some
devastations on the coasts of Laconia, and established a strong
post on the island of Eyth^a to encourage desertion among the
Helots. From hence Oharikles returned with the Argeians,
while Demosthen^ conducted his armament roimd Pelopon-
nesus to Korkyra.' On the Eleian coast, he destroyed a trans-
port carrying hoplites to Syracuse, though the men escaped
ashore : next he proceeded to Zakynthus and Eephallenia, from
whence he engaged some additional hoplites — and to Anaktorium,
in order to procure darters and slingers from Akamania. It was
here that he was met by £urymed6n with his ten triremes, who
had gone forward to Syracuse in the winter with the pecuniary
remittance urgently required, and was now returning to act as
colleague of Demosthenes in the command.^ The news brought

1 Thacyd. tU. 20. «Ma riff AcxtXciac we read In Mr. Mitford : *' At Anao-

ry rctxi<r/ui^ dtc Compare leokratte, torium Demostbente found Earrmedon

Orat. Tiii De Pace, s. 102, p. 286 Bekk. eolUeting provitiona for Sicily," ^c. Mr.

9 Thucyd. tIL 20—27. Mitford further sayg in a note (quoting

> Thncyd. f\L 2S. ^ the Scholiast-VjTot tA npibs Tpo4»j)v

^Thucyd. Tii. SI. &m T avr$(I>e- yp^o-i^iOficaiTaAois-aovfTtti^Kraavroif,

mosthen^) vcpl ravra (Anaktorium) bchol.): "This is not the only occasion

E^fiviM*»¥ «varr^, ht r&n rov x'^f**»yo^ on which Thucydidte uses the term

▼* Xfi^f'*'^^ «^«r Tig o-Tp«rif xpritiajatoTiuctMoriaingeneral. Smith

iv€v4^l^9^, Kot. ayy^AArt, dtc. has translated accordinfflv; but the

The meaning of this passage appears Latin has pecuniam, which does not

n"» anambiguous, that Eurymedon express the sense intended here" (ch.

been sent to Sicily in the winter xriii. sect ri. voL It. p. lis).
to cany the sum of 120 talents to There cannot be the least doubt

Nikias, and was now on his return that the I^atin is here right. The

(see lliucyd. riL 11). Nevertheless definite article makes the point quite

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by Eurymeddn from Sicily was in every way discouraging. Yet
the two admirals were under the necessity of sparing ten triremes
from their fleet to reinforce Kondn at Naupaktus, who was not
strong enough alone to contend against the Corinthian fleet which
watched him from the opposite coast. To make good this
diminution, Eurymeddn went forward to Korkyra, with the view
of obtaining from the Eorkyrseans fifteen fresh triremes and a
contingent of hoplites, while Demosthen^ was getting together
the Akamanian darters and slingers.^

Eurymeddn not only brought back word of the distressed
condition of the Athenians in the harbour of Syracuse, but had
also learnt, during his way back, their heavy additional loss by
the capture of the fort at Plemmyrium. Gylippus returned to
Openitloiu Syracuse early in the spring, nearly about the time
ofOyiippos when Agis invaded Attica and when Demosthen^
He ^!^n^ quitted Peireeus. He returned with fresh reinforce-
attodc^e ™®°*8 ^^o™ ^® interior, and with redoubled ardour
AtheniaiM for decisive operations against Nikias before aid could
arrive frx)m Athens. It was his first care, in con-
junction with Hermokrat^, to inspire the Syracusans with
courage for fighting the Athenians on shipboard. Such was the
acknowledged superiority of the latter at sea, that this was a
task of some difficulty, calling for all the eloquence and ascen-
dency of the two leaders : " The Athenians (said Hermokratds to
his countrymen) have not been always eminent at sea as they
now are : they were once landsmen like you, and more than you
— ^they were only forced on shipboard by the Persian invasion.
The only way to deal with bold men like them is to show a frt>nt
bolder stilL They have often by their audacity daunted enemies
of greater real force than themselves, and they must now be
taught that others can play the same game with them. Qo right
at them before they expect it ; and you will gain more by thus
surprising and intimidating them, than you will suffer by their
superior science." Such lessons, addressed to men already in the
tide of success, were presently efficacious, and a naval attack was

certain, even if it were tme (which I more whether he erer ases iymv in the

donbt) that Thncydidds sometimes sense of "collecting'*.

nses the word xp^^^a to mean " ne- i Thucyd. vii ai.

-'— in general ". I doubt stOl * Thucyd. tU. 21. Among the topics

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Tbe town of Syracuse had two ports, one on each side of the
island of Ortygia. The lesser port (as it was called i^aval
afterwards, the Portns Lakkius) lay northward of ^harbour
Ortygia, hetween that island and the low ground or of Synunte
Nekropolis near the outer city : the other lay on the Athenians
opposite side of the Isthmus of Ortygia, within the ▼tctorloua.
Great Harbour. Both of them (it appears) were protected
against attack from without by piles and stakes planted in the
bottom in front of them. But the lesser port was the more
secure of the two, and the principal docks of the Syracusans were
situated within it ; the Syracusan fleet, eighty triremes strong,
being distributed between them. The entire Athenian fleet was
stationed under the fort of Plemmyrium, immediately opposite
to the southern point of Ortygia.

Gylippus laid his plan with great ability, so as to take the
Athenians completely by surprise. Having trained and pre-
pared the naval force as tiioroughly as he could, he marched out
his land force secretly by night, over Epipol® and round by the
right bank of the Anapus, to the neighbourhood of the fort of
Plemmyrium. With the first dawn of morning the Syracusan
fleet sailed out, at one and the same signal, from both the ports —
45 triremes out of the lesser port, 36 out of the other. Both
squadrons tried to round the southern point of Ortygia, so a»
to unite and to attack the enemy at Plemmyrium in concert The
Athenians, though unprepared and confused, hastened to man
00 ships ; with 25 of which they met the 35 Syracusans sailing
forth from the Great Harbour — while with the other 35 they
encountered the 45 from the lesser port, immediately outside of
the mouth of the Great Harbour. In the former of these two
actions the Syracusans were at first victors ; in the second, also,
the Syracusans from the outside forced their way into the mouth
of the Great Harbour, and joined their comrades. But being
little accustomed to naval warfare, they presently fell into com-
plete confusion, partly in consequence of their unexpected
success ; so that the Athenians, recovering from the first shock,
attacked them anew, and completely defeated them ; sinking or

of enoooraMDent dwelt apon by Her- of all, the confined mace of the har-

mokiat^ It ii remarkable that he boor, which rendered Athenian ships-

makes no mention of that which the and tactics anarailing.
sequel pro?ed to be the most important

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disabling eleven ships, of three of which the crews were made

prisoners, the rest being mostly slain.^ Three Athenian triremes

were destroyed also.

But this victory, itself not easily won, was more than counter-

OrUppos balanced by the irreparable loss of Plemmyrimn.

soipriMs During the first excitement at the Athenian naval
&nd takes . , i i • 4. » •

Plemmy- Station, when the ships were in course of being

'*'"■• manned to meet the unexpected onset from both

ports at once, the garrison of Plemmyrium went to the water's

edge to watch and encourage their countrymen, leaving their

own walls thinly guarded, and little suspecting the presence of

their enemy on the land side. This was just what Gylippus had

anticipated. He attacked the forts at daybreak, taking the

garrison completely by surprise, and captured them after a

feeble resistance; first the greatest and most important fort,

next the two smaller. The garrison sought safety as they could

on board the transports and vessels of burden at the station, and

rowed across the Great Harbour to the land-camp of Nikias on

the other side. Those who fled from the greater fort, which was

the first taken, ran some risk from the Syracusan triremes,

which were at that moment victorious at sea. But by the time

that the two lesser forts were taken, the Athenian fleet had

regained its superiority, so that there was no danger of similar

pursuit in the crossing of the Great Harbour.

This well -concerted surprise was no less productive to the
Important captors than fatal as a blow to the Athenians. Not
que^M ot ^^y ^^^ many men slain and many made prisoners
the capture, in the assault, but there were vast stores of every
kind, and even a lai^e stock of money found within the fort ;
partly belonging to the military chest, partly the property of
the trierarchs and of private merchants, who had deposited it
there as in the place of greatest security. The sails of not less
than forty triremes were also found there, and three triremes
which had been dragged up ashore. Gylippus caused one of the
three forts to be pulled down, and carefully garrisoned the other

Great as the positive loss was here to the Athenians, at a time

1 Thncyd. tH. 28 ; Dioddr. ziii. 9 ; Plataroh, Nflciaa. e. 80.
« Thncyd. TiL 28, 24.

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Chap. lx. captukb of plkmmyrium. 127

when their ntuation conld ill bear it, the collateral damage and
peril growing out of the capture of Plemmjrrium were yet more
serious, besides the alarm and discouragement which they spread
among the army. The Syracusans were now masters of the
mouth of the harbour on both sides, so that not a single store-
ship could enter without a convoy and a battle. What was of
not less detriment, the Athenian fleet was now forced to take
station under the fortified lines of its own land force, and was
thus cramped up on a small space in the innermost portion of
the Great Harbour, between the city wall and the river Anapus ;
the Syracusans being masters everywhere dse, with full com-
munication between their posts all round, hemming in the
Athenian position both by sea and land.

To the Syracusans, on the contrary, the result of the recent
battle proved every way encouraging ; not merely increased
from the valuable acquisition of Plemmyrium, but J^^ence
even from the sea-fight itself which had, indeed, of the
turned out to be a defeat, but which promised at first erenfo?"**
to be a victory, had they not thrown away the chance ■«*-fl«i»t.
by their own disorder. It removed all superstitious fear of
Athenian nautical superiority ; while their position was so much
improved by having acquired the command of the mouth of the
harbour, that they began even to assume the aggressive at sea.
They deti^ed a squadron of twelve triremes to the coast of
Italy, for the purpose of intercepting some merchant vessels
coming with a supply of money to the Athenians. So little fear
was there of an enemy at sea, that these vessels seem to have
been coming without convoy, and were for the most part
destroyed by the Syracusans, together with a stock of ship-
timber which the Athenians had collected near Eaulonia. In
touching at Lokri on their return, they took aboard a company
of Thespian hoplites who had made their way thither in a
transport They were also fortunate enough to escape the
squadron of twenty triremes which Nikias detached to lie in
wait for them near Megara— with the loss of one ship, however,
including her crew.*

One of this Syracusan squadron had gone forward from Italy
with envoys to Peloponnesus, to communicate the favourable
1 Thucyd- rii, 25.

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news of the capture of Plemmyriam, and to accelerate as much
as possihle the operations against Attica, in order
that no reinforcements might be sent from thence.
At the same time, other envoys went from Syracuse —
not merely Syracusans, but also Coriuthians and
Lacedsomonians — ^to visit the cities in the interior of
Sicily. They made known everywhere the prodigious
improvement in Syracusan affairs arising from the gain of
Plemmyrium, as well as the insignificant character of the recent
naval defeat They strenuously pleaded for farther aid to
Syracuse without delay ; since there were now good hopes of
being able to crush the Athenians in the harbour completely,
before the reinforcements about to be despatched could reach

While these envoys were absent on their mission, the Great
Conflicts Harbour was the scene of much desultory conflict,
Jjl^JJJJ^* though not of any comprehensive single battle. Since
and the loss of Plemmyrium, the Athenian naval station

inSe^SSat was in the north-west interior corner of that harbour,
Harbour. adjoining the fortified lines occupied by their land-
army. It was enclosed and protected by a row of poets or stakes
stuck in the bottom and standing out of the water.^ The
Syracusans on their side had also planted a stockade in front of
the interior port of Ortygia, to defend their ships, their ship-
houses, and their docks within. As the two stations were not
far apart, each party watched for opportunities of occasional
attack or annoyance by missile weapons to the other ; and daily
skirmishes of this sort took place, in which, on the whole, the
Athenians seem to have had the advantage. They even formed
the plan of breaking through the outworks of the Syracusan
dockyard and burning the ships within. They brought up a
ship of the largest size, with wooden towers and side defences,
against the line of posts fronting the dockyard, and tried to force
the entrance, either by means of divers who sawed them through
at the bottom, or by boat-crews who fastened ropes round them,
and thus unfixed or plucked them out All this was done under
cover of the great vessel with its towers manned by light-armed,
who exchanged showers of missiles with the Syracusan bowmen
1 Thaoyd. viL 25. > Tha<7d. tIL 88.

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on the top of the ship-houses, and prevented the latter from
coming near enough to interrupt the operation. The Athenians
contrived thus to remove many of the poets planted — even the
most dangerous among them, those which did not reach to the
surface of the water, and which therefore a ship approaching
could not see. But they gained little by it, since Uie Syracusans
were able to plant others in their room. On the whole, no
serious damage was done either to the dockyard or to the ships
within. And the state of afiEiedrs in the Great Harbour stood
substantially unaltered during all the time that the envoys
were absent on their Sicilian tour — ^probably three weeks or a

These envoys had found themselves almost everywhere well
received. The prospects of Syracuse were now so Defeat of a
triumphant, and those of Nikias with his present ^^^
force so utterly hopeless, that the waverers thought it ment
time to declare themselves ; and all the Greek cities ^«to«*o
in Sicily, except Agrigentum, which still remained Syracuse,
neutral (and of course except Naxos and Eatana), resolved on
aiding the winning cause. From ELamarma came 500 hoplites,
400 darters, and 300 bowmen : from Gela, 5 triremes, 400
darters, and 200 horsemen. Besides these, an additional force
from the other cities was collected, to march to Syracuse in a

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