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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^^wjofifikvnpa jvoiovr, Ac to negotiate for their release, npon

* The statements respecting the ace priTate contract of a definite sum.

»dlife of Lais appear involTed in Had Thncydidte said iw4Sovro, it

raextneable confusion. See the note would have meant that they were put

ofQoUeradPhiliatiFmffment. V. up to auction for what they would

*IWodAr. xiii S; Thucyd. vL 62. fetch. This distinction is at least

*** "^Vf^^^^ Air^^otf-ttr, KOi iy4- possible— and 0n my judgment) more

•wjTTo i$ crrwv tUoffi itoi itcarhv riXayra. admissible than that proposed in the

m© word atr4loa-ay seems to mean that note of Dr. Arnold.

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and conducted the Athenian land force acroes the centre of the
island, through the territory of the friendly Sikela to Katana ;
making an attack in Mb way upon the hostile Sikel town of
Hybla, in which he was repulsed. At Katana he was rejoined
by his naval force.

It was now seemingly about the middle of October, and three
. . months had elapsed since the arrival of the Athenian

confidence armament at Rhegium ; during which period they
SraSwia at ^^ achieved nothing beyond the acquisition of Nazus
^TOcuae. and Katana as allies, except the insignificant capture
the delays of Hykkara. But Nazus and Katana, as Chalkidic
of kiaa. cities, had been counted upon beforehand even by
Nikias ; together with Rhegium, whidi had been found reluctant,
to his great disappointment. What is still worse in reference
to the character of the general, not only nothing serious had
been achieved, but nothing serious had been attempted.
The precious moment pointed out by Lamachus for action
when the terrific menace of the untried armament was at its
maximum, and preparation as well as confidence was wanting
at Syracuse, had been irreparably wasted. Every day the
preparations of the Syracusans improved and their fears
diminished. The invader, whom they had looked upon as 80
formidable, turned out both hesitating and timorous,^ and when
he disappeared out of their sight to Hykkara and Egesta — still
more when he assailed in vain the insignificant Sikel post of
Hybla — their minds underwent a reaction from dismay to
extreme confidence. The mass of Syracusan citizens, now
reinforced by allies from Selinus and other cities, called upon
their generals to lead them to the attack of the Athenian position
at Katana, since the Athenians did not dare to approach
Syracuse i while Syracusan horsemen even went so feir as to
insult the Athenians in their camp, riding up to ask if they wer«
come to settle as peaceable citizens in the island, instead of
restoring the Leontines. Such unexpected humiliation, acting
probably on the feelings of the soldiers, at length shamed Nikias
out of his inaction, and compelled him to strike a blow for the
maintenance of his own reputation. He devised a stratagem for
approaching Syracuse in such a manner as to elude the opposition;TiL41

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•f the Sjraciuaii cavalry — infonning himself as to the ground
Bear the city through some exiles serving along with him.^

He despatched to Syracuse a Katancean citizen in his heart
attached to Athens, yet apparently neutral and on
good terms with the other side, as bearer of a of NiSas*
pretended message and proposition from the friends ^^ym;_i,e
of Syracuse at Katana. Many of the Athenian lands bis
soldiers (so the message ran) were in the habit of th^OrMt
passing Ae night within the walls apart from their S^^JJ^**'
camp and arms. It would be easy for the Syracusans,
by a vigorous attack at daybreak, to surprise them thus
unprepared and dispersed ; while the philo-Syracusan party at
Katana promised to aid, by closing the gates, assailing the
Athenians within, and setting fire to the ships. A numerous
body of Katanseans (they added) were eager to co-operate in the
plan now proposed.

This communication, reaching the Syracusan generals at a
moment when they were themselves elate and disposed to an aggres-
ave movement, found such incautious credence that they sent back
the messenger to Katana with cordial assent and agreement for a
precise day. Accordingly, a day or two before, the entire Syra-
cusan force was marched out towards Katana, and encamped for
the night on the river Symaethus, in the Leontine territory,
within about eight miles of Katana. But Nikias, with whom
the whole proceeding originated, choosing this same day to put
on shipl oard his army, together with his Sikel allies present,
sailed by night southward idong the coast, rounding the island of
Ortygia into the Great Harbour of Syracuse. Arrived thither
by break of day, he disembarked his troops unopposed south of
the mouth of the An&pus, in the interior of the Great Harbour,
near the hamlet which stretched towards the temple of Zeus
Olympius. Having broken down the neighbouring bridge where
the Heldrine road crossed the Anftpus, he took up a position
protected by various embarrassing obstacles — houses, walls, trees,
and standing water — ^besides the steep ground of the Olympieion
itself on his left wing, so that he could choose his own time for
fighting, and was out of the attack of the Syracusan horse. For
the protection of his ships on the shore he provided a palisade

1 Thncyd. tt 63 ; Diod6r. xiiL 6.

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work bj catting down the neighbouring trees, and even took
precautions for his rear by throwing up a hasty fence of wood
and stones touching the e^ore at the inner bay called Daskon.
He had full leisure for such defensive works, since the enemy
within the walls made no attempt to disturb him, while the
Syracusan horse only discovered his manoeuvre on arriving
before the lines at Eatana ; and though they lost no time in
returning, the march back was a long one.^ Such was the con-
fidence of the Syracusaus, however, that even after so long a
march, they offered battle forthwith ; but as Nikias did not quit
Ids position, they retreated to take up their night-station on the
other side of the HelOrine road— probably a road bordered on
each side by walls.
On the next morning Nikias marched out of his position and

formed his troops in order of battle, in two divisions,
of the each eight deep. His front division was intended to

JjSJ'J^ attack ; his rear division (in hollow square with the
Katiuia to baggage in the middle) was held in reserve near the
Haibour— camp to lend aid where aid might be wanted: cavalry
fionf for ^^^'"^ ^^ none. The Syracusan hoplites, seemingly
<^^ idi more numerous than his, presented the levy in

mass of the city, without any selection ; they were
ranged in the deeper order of sixteen, alongside of their Selinan-
tine allies. On the right wing were posted their horsemen, the
best part of their force, not less than 1200 in number ; together
with 200 horsemen from Qela, 20 from Eamarina, about 50 bow-
men, and a company of darters. The hoplites, though full of
courage, had little training, and their array, never precisely kept,
was on this occasion further disturbed by the immediate vicinity
of the city. Some had gone in to see their families, otheiB,
hurrying out to join, found the battle already begun, and took
rank wherever they could.*

ThucydidSs, in describing this battle, gives us, according to hia
practice, a statement of Uie motives and feelings which ani-
mated the combatants on both sides, and which furnished a

1 Thncyd. ti. 66, 66 ; Dioddr. xiii. 6 ; will oonsolt the plan of Syracoae and

Plutarch. Nikias, c. 18. its neighbourhood, annexed to this

To nnderstand thepositionof NiMas, Tolume.
as well as it can be made out from the , «»u.,^^ ^ mm ^
dewaription of ThucydldAs, the reader ' Thncyd. vL 67-69.

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tibeme for the brief harangue of Nikias. This appears surprising
to one aeeoBtomed to modem warfare, where the j^eiingtof
soldier ib under the influence simply of professional the ancient
honour and disgrace, without any thought of the cause Haranffne
for which he is fighting. In ancient times, such a ®' N*^»«-
motiTe was only one among many others, which, according to tbe
circumstances of the case, contributed to elevate or depress the
soldier's mind at the eve of action. Nikias adverted to ihe recog-
nized military pre-eminence of chosen Argeians, Mantineians,
and Athenians, as compared to the Syracusan levy in mass, who
were ftdl of belief in their own superiority (this Ib a striking con-
fession of the deplorable change which had been wrought by his
own delay), but who would come short in actual conflict from
want of discipline.' Moreover, he reminded them that they were
£ar away from home, and that defeat would render them victims,
one and all, of the Syracusan cavalry. He little thought, nor did
his prophets forewarn him, that such a calamity, serious as it
would have been, was even desirable for Athens, since it would
have saved her from the &r more overwhelming disasters which
will be found to sadden the coming chapters of this history.

While the customary sacrifices were being performed, the
slingers and bowmen on both sides became engaged in
skirmishing. But presently the trumpets sounded, near the
and Nikias ordered his first division of hopHtes to 2?^^^°
eharge at once rapidly, before the Syracusans expected ^»f^j^
it. Judging from his previous backwardness, they
never imagined that he would be the first to give orders for
charging ; nor was it until they saw the Athenian line actually
advancing towards them that they lifted their own arms from
the ground and came forward to give the meeting. The shock
was bravely encountered on both sides, and for some time the
battle continued hand to hand with undecided result There
h^pened to supervene a violent storm of rain, with thunder and
lightnings which alarmed the Syracusans, who construed it as an
nn&vourable augury, while to the more practised Athenian hop-

> Thneyd. tL SB, 60. iXXmt M xol rk rAr imvriiiiiw Tijt rrfAfw^ ^v<rm lx«i'.
wf^ orapoc wwhiiui Tc ^wo/mvov«. This paoage fllnatratea very clearfar

mm* 9VK iwkiienvt &v99p ^fiSa • Mi the meaning of the adverb wayirintl

■jp e rfw XwcAuiraf, oc i^vcp^porov- Ck>mpaxe iray0«fi«t,v«yo/MA«i, AKhy los,

«-« fiip iiliat, vvofMrovo't M ev, Si« Sept. Thsb. S7S.

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lites it seemed a mere phenomenon of the season ; ^ so that they
still farther astonished the Syracosans by the unabated confidence
with which they continued the fight At length the Syracusan
army was broken, dispersed, and fled ; first before the Argeians
on the right) next before the Athenians in the centre. The
victors pursued as Deut as was safe and practicable, without dis-
ordering their ranks ; for the Syracusan cavalry, which had not
yet been engaged, checked all who pressed forward, and enabled
their own infantry to retire in safety behind the Heldrine

So little were the Syracusans dispirited with this defeat, that
Unabated they did not retire within their city until they had

confidence gent an adequate detachment to guard the neighbour-
of the Sjrra- . _*, . <P-i/-ki .«

coHuia— ing temple and sacred precmct of the Olympian Zeus ;

ra^fe^ wherein there was much deposited wealth which they

~5SS«°° feared that the Athenians might seize. Nikias,

re-embarks however, without approaching the sacred ground,

^^T^um9 contented himself with occupying the field of battle,

to Eatana. humt his own dead, and stripped the arms from the

dead of the enemy. The Syracusans and their allies lost 260

men, the Athenians 50.'

On the morrow, having granted to the Syracusans their dead

bodies for bunal and collected the ashes of his own dead, Nikias

re-embarked his troops, put to sea, and sailed back to his former

station at Eatana. He conceived it impossible, without cavalry

and a further stock of money, to maintain his position near

Syracuse or to prosecute immediate operations of siege or block-

1 Thucyd. tL 70. roU f jfiiretport. c 16) states that Nikias refused, from

pots, TO, fuv yiyv6iitva^ koX &p^ «tov( religious scmples, to invade the sacred

v<patVc<r9ai 5ox€tv, roi^c Sk ii^c<rrMra«, preonct, though his soldiers were eager

«t>Ai> ftci^M Ixn-Xif^tf 11^ vucM|A^ov« to seixe its contents.
irap4x9iv. DiodOrus (xiii. d) affirms erroneonslT

The Athenians, nnfortonately for that the Athenians became mastem of

themselves, were not equaJlv unmoved the Olympieion. Fausanias, too, says

by eclipses of the moon. The force of the same thing (x. 28, 8), aading that

this remark will be seen in the next Nikias abstained from disturbing either

chapter but one. At this moment, too, the treasures or the offerings, and left

they were in high spirits and con- them still under the care^ the Syra-

fldenoe, which ffreaUy affected their cusan priests,
interpretation of such sudden weather* Plutarch further states that Nikias

fih8Bnomem^ as will be seen also stayed some days in his position before

lustrated by melancholy contrast in he returned to Katana. But the

that same chapter. laugL .ge of Thucydidds indicates that

s Thucyd. vi. 70. the Athenians returned on the day

s Thuc)'d. vi. 71. Plutarch (Nikias, after the batUe.

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Chap. Lvm. iNAonoN or nikias. 57

ade. And as the winter was now approacliing, he determined to

take np winter quarters at Eatana; though, considering A^^tmrn.

the mild winter at Syracuse, and the danger of marsh mines to

fever near the Qreat Harbour in summer, the change ^tw**^

of season might well be regarded as a questionable ^^uurtersat

gain. But he proposed to emploj the interval in aikfwmls

sending to Athens for cavalry and money, as well as Jj^^^Jf

in procuring the like reinforcements from his Sicilian forcements

allies, whose numbers he calculated now on increasing

by the accession of new cities after his recent victory — ^and to get

togedier maf^azines of every kind for beginning the siege of

Syracuse in the spring. Despatching a trireme to Athens with

these requisitions, he sailed with his forces to MessSn^ within

which there was a favourable party who gave hopes of opening

the gates to him. Such a correspondence had already been

commenced before the departure of Alkibiad^ ; but it was the

first act of revenge which the departing general took on his

conntry, to betray the proceedings to the philo-Syracusan party

in MessSnS. Accordingly these latter, watching their ^g faoare

opportunity, rose in arms before the arrival of Kikias, J* ^^^ffij

put to death their chief antagonists, and held the betrayal by

town by force against the Athenians, who, after a '^^*>*»^^-

fruitless delay of thirteen days, with scanty supplies and under

stormy weather, were forced to return to Naxos, where they

established a palisaded camp and station, and went into winter


The recent stratagem of Nikias, followed by the movement

into the harbour of Syracuse and the battle, had been g. ^^

ably planned and executed. It served to show the lesson to the

courage and discipline of the army, as well as to keep f^^"^"*

up the spirits of the soldiers themselves and to obviate JJf* ^ ^

those feelings of disappointment which the previous defeat—

inefficiency of the armament tended to arouse. But ^ttSf*'*

as to other results, the victory was barren ; we may ^«"i™

. . / . , . "^ ... , , "^ from the

even say, positively mischievous — since it imparted a delay of

momentary stimulus which served as an excuse to ^'^***-

Nikias for the three months of total inaction which followed —

and since it neither weakened nor humiliated the Syracusans,

1 Thucyd. vL 71—74.

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but gave them a salutary leeson which they tamed to account
while Kikias was in his winter quarters. His apathy during
these first eight months after the arrival of the expedition at
Rhegium (from July, 416 b.c., to March, 414 B.a), was the cause
of very deplorable calamities to his army, his country, and him-
self. Abundant proofs of this will be seen in the coming events :
at present we have only to turn back to his own predictions and
recommendations. All the ditiiculties and dangers to be sur-
mounted in Sicily had been foreseen by himself and impressed
upon the Athenians ; in the first instance, as grounds against
undertaking the expedition ; but the Athenians, though un-
fortunately not allowing them to avail in that capacity, fully
admitted their reality, and authorized him to demand whiftever
force was necessary to overcome them.^ He had thus been
allowed to bring with him a force calculated upon his own
ideas, together with supplies and implements for besieging ; yet
when arrived, he seems only anxious to avoid exposing that force
in any serious enterprise, and to find an excuse for conducting it
back to Athens. That Syracuse was the grand enemy, and that
the capital point of the enterprise was the siege of that city, was
a truth familiar to himself as well as to every man at Athens : *
upon the formidable cavalry of the Syracusans, Nikias had him-
self insisted, in the preliminaiy debates. Tet— after four months
of mere trifling, and pretence of action so as to evade dealing
with the real difficulty — the existence of this cavalry is made an
excuse for a further postponement of four months until reinforce-
ments can be obtained from Athens. To all the intrinsic dangers
of the case, predicted by Nikias himself with proper discernment^
was thus superadded the a<;gravated danger of his own &ctitioaa
delay ; frittering away the first impression of his armament —
giving the Syracusans leisure to enlarge their fortifications — and
allowing the Peloponnesians time to interfere against Attica as
well as to succour Sicily. It was the unhappy weakness of this
commander to shrink from decisive resolutions of every kind,
and at any rate to postpone them until the necessity became
imminent ; the consequence of which was (to use an expression of
the Corinthian envoy, before the Peloponnesian war, in censuring
the dilatory policy of SpartaX that never acting, yet always
I Thooyd. tL Sl—as > Thticyd. iL SO.

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Chap. Lvni.



seeming about to act^ he found his enemy in double force instead
of single, at the moment of actual conflict^

Great indeed must have been the disappointment of the Athe-
niins, when, after having sent forth in the month of confidence
June an erpedilion of unparalleled efficiency, they re- jft^ji^n.
ceiye in the month of November a despatch to acquaint
them that the general has accomplished little except
one indecisive victory, and that he has not even
attempted anything serious, nor can do so unless
they send him further cavalry and money. Yet the
only answer which they made was to grant and pro-
vide for Uiis demand without any public expression of discontent
or disappointment against him.' And this is the more to be

at home in
they send
tohhc the

, iThneyd.LSO. ii<rvxiim yif /Ut^

UMi mXki. Tg^ «uAA]§9«( ifivMifMrot, mi
»»•»•* 09K i.fiXJ^|t,€¥^v TTiir av$ri'

*« KATcAvorrcf.

, 'AiffTupbif Hi fiuur$4pTut avcA^ir. 1}

T» wp^Tor «urK^aT«K SovAcvo-ofi^fovf —
"ftta diflgnuMsfol to be driven oat of
SKUr by soperior force, or to tend back
«f» t(/terwmrd» for firt$k rtk^oreewmiU^
t^m^ Mr otm JdnU in making bad
<m^Uatimi atjbrtt " (Thucyd. tL 21X

nds WM a Mui of the hut speech by
NlUas hhnself at Athens, prior to the
apadition. The Athenian people in
m^ had passed a Tote tha!t he and
UseoUeams should fix their own
*y» t of force, and should have
•JwytWng which they asked for.
meoTer, soch was the feeling in the
c^ that erery one hidiTidually was
**xioiis to pot down his name to serve
(Jl- «-ai). Thncydidte can hardly
M words sniBcient to depict the com-
PMsnen, the gnmdeur, the wealth,
pabUc and private, of the armament.
^As this soes to establish what I
m advanced in the text— that the
•fionsof Nikias in SicUy stand most
« an condemned by his own previous
9Mcbes at Athens-«o it seems to
»»• been forgutten by Dr. Arnold
^M he wrote nis note on the remark-
■Me ^asnge, iL 66, of Thucydidte—
«f 4r^aAA« t« voAAi, ak ip /MydUp w6Kti,

j^nXtmtr vAovc • b« oi roeovror yvwfiiK

**f ^*»^«rT«?, ov T« irpd<r^opa
'■•»« •ix*liifot.9 iviyiyviia'-

KO¥T*tt «^<^ *AV«i vdLt t^tttc <t«t^oXar
vf pi r^ Tov 5i|^M»v vpo«TBurtaf , tA rt i¥
rif orparovti^ a^Aifr<p« inotovr, teai
ra vepl Hfv n6\iy irpino¥ iv oAAi^Aoif
irapdj^a-av. — Upon which Dr. Arnold

"Thucydidds here expresses the
opinion, which he repeats in two

other places (vL 81 ; vii. 42), namelv,
that the Athenian power was fully
adequate to the conquest of Syracuse,
had not the txpeditUm been mitmanaged
b]f the gentralt and inMvfieienttv tupplied
bif the ffo nr n m entat home. The words
ov rd irp<S<r^opa rott oixoMt^^^V hnyiyvu-
cicorrcv signify *not voting oftenoardM
ih4 neodfuL tupjUiet to thoir ab$ent
armament*: for Nikias was prevented
from improving bis first vloory over
the Syracnsans by the want of cavalry
and money ; and the whole winter was
lost before be could get supplied from
Athens. And subsequently the arma-
ment was allowed to be reduced to
great distress and weakness, before
the second expedition was sent to
reinforce it"— GoUerand Poppo concur
in this explanation.

Let us ui the first place discuss the
explanation here given of the words
r« vpo<r^pa jffiYiyi<^(ncoKr«c. It ap-
pears to me that these words do not
signify ** voting the nooc^kl tuppUes".

The word cfftytyvwo-ircir cannot be
used in the same sense with «iriW|tvtir
— ropoirycir (vii. 8— 15>—iitJroptf«ir. As
it would not be aamisisible to sa^
hriyiyvma'Ktiv ovAa, r^ac, iinr vf, ypif-
ftArm. Ac., SO neither can it be right to
sav cinyiyvM4ric«tK ri. np6<r^of»a, if this
latter word were used only as a com-
prehensive word for these particulars.

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noted, since the remoyal of Alkibiadte afiforded an inTiting and
even valuable opportunity for proposing to send out a freeh ool-
leagae in his room. If there were no complainta noaed against
Nikias at A thens, so neither are we informed of any such, even
among his own soldiers in Sicily ; though their disappointment
must have been yet greater than that of their countrymen at
home, considering the expectations with which they had come
out We may remember that the delay of a few days at Eion,
under perfecUy justifiable circumstances, and while awaiting the

meudDg"$tippliei'*. The words really
mean ** taking fwrther retoltUUnu (after
the expedition was gone) nntuitadU or
miichi^vout to ihs <Snent amuiment".
wp6a<^opa is used here quite generally
— ««reeing with ^ovAciWra or some
socn word : indeed we find the phmse
ra wp6v^fHi used in the most general
sense, for ** what is suitable"—** what
is advantageous or oonvenient"—
yviufio^ ri. vpiv^pa — wpaavrriu ri
v/MS<r(&opa — tA wp6vi>op ijvf ar' — ra
irp6a^opa iptfuv iv—rh ramrit 9f>6<r-
^p&y. Buripid. HippoL 112 ; Alkestis,
148 ; Iphig. AuL 160 B ; Helen. 1289 ;
Troades, 804.

Thucydidte appears to have in view
the Tiolent party contests which broke
out in reference to the Uerme and the
other irreligious acts at Athens, after
the departure of the armament,
esnedally to the mischief of recalling
AlkibiadSs, which grew out of those
contests. He does not allude to the
withholding of the supplies from the
armament ; nor was it the purpose of
any of the parties at Athens to with-
hold them. The party-acrimony was
directed against Alkibiadds exclusively
—not a^^.nst the expedition.

Next, as to the mahi allegation in
Dr. Arnold's note, that one of the caun*
of the failure of Uie Athenian expedi-
tion in Sicily was that it was "in-
sufficiently supplied by Athens". Of
tho two passages to wmoh he refers in
Thncydidte (fl. 81 ; Til 42), the first
distinctly contradicts this allegation,
by setting forth the prodigious amount
of force sent ; the second says nothing
about it, and indirectly discounte-

Online LibraryGeorge GroteA history of Greece: from the earliest period to the close of the generation contemporary with Alexander the Great → online text (page 9 of 62)