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place general, together with Alcibiades and Lamachus,
when they were again assembled, he stood up, dissuaded
them, and protested against the decision, and laid the
blame on ALibiades, charging him with going about to
involve the city in foreign dangers and difficulties, merely
with a view to his own private lucre and ambition. Yet ib
came to nothing. Nicias, because of his experience, was
looked upon as the fitter for the employment, and his wari-
ness with the bravery of Alcibiades, and the easy temper
of Lamachus, all compounded together, promised such
security, that he did but confirm the resolution. Demos-
tratus, who, of the popular leaders, was the one who
chiefly preyed the Athenians to the expedition, stood up
and said he would stop the mouth of Nicias from urging
any more excuses, and moved that the generals should have
absolute power, both at home and abroad, to order and to
act as they thought best ; and this vote the people passed.
The priests, however, are said to have very earnestly
opposed the enterprise. But Alcibiades had his diviners
of another sort, who from some old prophecies announced
that " there shall be great fame of the Athenians in Sicily,"
and messengers came back to him from Jupiter Ammon,
with oracles importing that " the Athenians shall take all
the Syracusanc." Those, meanwhile, who knew anything,
that boded ill concealed it lest they might seem to fore-
speak ill-luck. For even prodigies that were obvious and
plain would not deter them ; not the defacing of the Hermae,
all maimed in one night except one, called the Hermes of
Andocides, erected by the tribe of ^Egeus, placed directly
before the house then occupied by Andocides ; nor what was
perpetrated on the altar of the twelve gods, upon which a



&ICIA& 183

certain man leaped suddenly up, and then turning round
mutilated himself with a stone. Likewise at Delphi, there
stood a golden image of Minerva, set on a palm-tree ot
brass, erected by the city of Athens, from the spoils they
won from the Medes ; this was pecked at several days to-
gether by crows flying upon it, who, also, plucked off and
knocked down the fruit, made of gold, upon the palm-tree.
But the Athenians said these were all but inventions of
the Delphians, corrupted by the men of Syracuse. A certain
oracle bade them bring from ClazomensB the priestess of
Minerva there; they sent for the woman and found her
named Hesychia, Quietness, this being, it would seem, what
the divine powers advised the city at this time, to be quiet.
Whether, therefore, the astrologer Meton feared these pre-
sages, or that from human reason he doubted its success
(for he was appointed to a command in it), feigning himself
mad, he set his house on fire. Others say he did not counter-
feit madness, but set his house on fire in the night, and the
next morning came before the assembly in great distress,
and besought the people, in consideration of the sad disaster,
to release his son from the service, who was about to go
captain of a galley for Sicily. The genius, also, of the
philosopher Socrates, on this occasion, too, gave him intima-
tion by the usual tokens, that the expedition would prove
the ruin of the commonwealth ; this he imparted to his
friends and familiars, and by them it was mentioned to a
number of people. Not a few were troubled because tha
days on which the fleet set sail happened to be the time
when the women celebrated the death of Adonis ; there
being everywhere then exposed to view images of dead
men, carried about with mourning and lamentation, and
women beating their breasts. So that such as laid any
stress on these matters were extremely troubled, and feared
lest that all this warlike preparation, so splendid and so
glorious, should suddenly, in a little time, be blasted in its
very prime of magnificence, and come to nothing.



184 PL UTAKCH ' 8 LIVES.

Nicias, in opposing the voting of this expedition, and
neither being puffed up with hopes, nor transported with
the honor of his high command so as to modify his judg-
ment, showed himself a man of virtue and constancy. But
when his endeavors could not diverge the people from the
war, nor get leave for himself to be discharged of the com-
mand, but the people, as it were, violently took him up and
carried him, and against his will put him in the office of
general, this was no longer now a time for his excessive
caution and his delays, nor was it for him, like a child, to
look back from the ship, often repeating and reconsidering
over and over again how that his advice had not been over-
ruled by fair arguments, thus blunting the courage of
his fellow-commanders and spoiling the season of action,
Whereas, he ought speedily to have closed with the enemy
and brought the matter to an issue, and put fortune imme-
diately to the test in battle. But, on the contrary, when
Lamachus counselled to sail directly to Syracuse, and fight
the enemy under their city walls, and Alcibiades advised
to secure the friendship of the other towns, and then to
march against them, Kicias dissented from them both, and
insisted that they should cruise quietly around the island
and display their armament, and having landed a small
supply of men for the Egesteans, return to Athens, weak-
ening at once the resolution and casting down the spirits
of the men. And when, a little while after, the Athenians
called home Alcibiades in order to his trial, he being,
though joined nominally with another in commission, in
effect the only general, made now no end of loitering, of
cruising, and considering, till their hopes were grown stale,
and all the disorder and consternation which the first
approach and view of their forces had cast amongst the
enemy was worn off, and had left them.

Whilst yet Alcibiades was with the fleet, they went be-
fore Syracuse with a squadron of sixty galleys, fifty of
them lying in array without the harbor, while the other



NICIA8, 185

ten rowed In to reconnoitre, and by a herald called upon
the citizens of Leontini to return to their own country.
These scouts took a galley of the enemy's, in which they
found certain tablets, on which was set down a list of all
the Syracusans, according to their tribes. These were
wont to be laid up at a distance from the city, in the
temple of Jupiter Olympius, but were now brought forth
for examination to furnish a muster-roll of young men for
the war. These being so taken by the Athenians, and
carried to the officers, and the multitude of names appear-
ing, the diviners thought it unpropitious, and were in ap-
prehension lest this should be the only destined fulfilment
of the prophecy, that " the Athenians shall take all the
Syracusans." Yet, indeed, this was said to be accom-
plished by the Athenians at another time, when Callippus
the Athenian, having slain Dion, became master of Syra-
cuse. But when Alcibiades shortly after sailed away from
Sicily, the command fell wholly to Nicias. Lamachus was,
indeed, a brave and honest man, and ready to fight fear-
lessly with his own hand in battle, but so poor and ill-off,
that whenever he was appointed general, he used always,
in accounting for his outlay of public money, to bring some
little reckoning or other of money, for his very clothes and
shoes. On the contrary, Nicias, as on other accounts, so,
also, because of his wealth and station, was very much
thought of. The story is told that once upon a time the
commission of generals being in consultation together in
their public office, he bade Sophocles the poet give his
opinion first, as the senior of the board. "I," replied
Sophocles, " am the older, but you are the senior." And
so now, also, Lamachus, who better understood military
affairs, being quite his subordinate, he himself, evermore
delaying and aToiding risk, and faintly employing his
forces, first by his sailing about Sicily at the greatest dis-
tance aloof from the enemy, gave them confidence, then by
afterwards attacking Hybla, a petty fortress, and drawing



186 PL UTAECU ' S LIVES.

off before he could take it, made himself utterly despised
At the last he retreated to Catana without having achieved
anything, save that he demolished Hyccara, an humble
town of the barbarians, out of which, the story goes, that
Lais the courtesan, yet a mere girl, was sold amongst the
other prisoners, and carried thence away to Peloponnesus.

But when the summer was spent, after reports began to
reach him that the Syracusans were grown so confident
that they would come first to attack him, and troopers
skirmishing to the very camp twitted his soldiers, asking
whether they came to settle with the Catanians, or to put
the Leontines in possession of their city, at last, with much
ado, Nicias resolved to sail against Syracuse. And wishing to
form his camp safely and without molestation, he procured
a man to carry from Catana intelligence to the Syracusans
that they might seize the camp of the Athenians unprotected
and all their arms, if on such a day they should march with
all their forces to Catana ; and that, the Athenians living
mostly in the town, the friends of the Syracnsans had con-
certed, as soon as they should perceive them coming, to
possess themselves of one of the gates, and to fire the
arsenal ; that many now were in the conspiracy and awaited
their arrival. This was the ablest thing Nicias did in the
whole of his conduct of the expedition. For having drawn
out all the strength of the enemy, and made the city des-
titute of men, he set out from Catana, entered the harbor,
and chose a fit place for his camp, where the enemy could
least incommode him with the means in which they were
superior to him, while with the means in which he was
superior to them, he might expect to carry on the war
without impediment.

When the Syracusans returned from Catana, and stood in
battle array before the city gates, he rapidly led up the
Athenians and fell on them and defeated them, but did not
kill many, their horses hindering the pursuit. And his
cutting and breaking down the bridges that lay over the



NICIAS. 187

river gave Hermocrates, when cheering up the Syracusans,
occasion to say, that Nicias was ridiculous, whose great aim
seemed to be to avoid fighting, as if fighting were not the
thing he came for. However, he put the Syracusans into
a very great alarm and consternation, so that instead of
fifteen generals then in service, they chose three others, to
whom the people engaged by oath to allow absolute authority.

There stood near them the temple of Jupiter Olympius,
which the Athenians (there being in it many consecrated
things of gold and silver) were eager to take, but were pur-
posely withheld from it by Nicias, who let the opportunity
slip, and allowed a garrison of the Syracusans to enter it,
judging that if the soldiers should mako booty of that
wealth, it would be no advantage to the public, and he
should bear the guilt of the impiety. Not improving in the
least this success, which was everywhere famous, after a
few days' stay, away he goes to Naxos, and there winters,
spending largely for the maintenance of so great an army,
and not doing anything except some matters of little con-
sequence with some native Sicilians that revolted to him.
Insomuch, that the Syracusans took heart again, made
excursions to Catana, wasted the country, and fired the
camp of the Athenians. For which everybody blamed
Nicias, who, with his long reflection, his deliberateness,
and his caution, had let slip the time for action. None
ever found fault with the man when once at work, for in the
brunt he showed vigor and activity enough, but was slow
and wanted assurance to engage.

When, therefore, he brought again the army to Syra-
cuse, such was his conduct, and with such celerity, and at
the same time security, he came upon them, that nobody
knew of his approach, when already he had come to shore
with his galleys at Thapsus, and had landed his men ; and
before any could help it, he had surprised Epipolse, had
defeated the body of picked men that came to its succor,
took three hundred prisoners, and routed the cavalry of



PL UTAECH 'S LIVES.

the enemy, which had been thought invincible. But what
chiefly astonished the Syracusans, and seemed incredible to
the Greeks, was in so short a space of time the walling
about of Syracuse, a town not less than Athens, and far
more difficult, by the unevenness of the ground, and the
nearness of the sea and the marshes adjacent, to have such
a wall drawn in a circle round it; yet this, all within a
very little, finished by a man that had not even his health
for such weighty cares, but lay ill of the stone, which may
justly bear the blame for what was left undone. I admire
the industry of the general, and the bravery of the soldiers
for what they succeeded in. Euripides, after their ruin
and disaster, writing their funeral elegy, said that

Eight victories over Byraouse they gained,
While equal yet to both the gods remained.

And in truth one shall not find eight, but many more
victories, won by these men against the Syracusans, till
the gods, in real truth, or fortune intervened to check the
Athenians in this advance to the height of power and
greatness.

Kicias, therefore, doing violence to his body, was present
in most actions. But once, when his disease was the
sharpest upon him, he lay in the camp with some few serv-
ants to attend him. And Lamachus having the command
fought the Syracusans, who were bringing a cross- wall
from the city along to that of the Athenians, to hinder them
from carrying it round ; and in the victory, the Athenians
hurrying in some disorder to the pursuit, Lamachus get-
ting separated from his men, had to resist the Syracirsan
horse that came upon him. Before the rest advanced Calli-
crates, a man of good courage and skill in war. Lamachus.
upon a challenge, engaged with him in single combat, and
receiving the first wound, returned it so home to Calli.
crates, that they both fell and died together. The Syra
tusans took away his body and arms, and at full speed



189

advanced to the wall of the Athenians where Mcias lay
without any troops to oppose to them, yet roused by this
necessity, and seeing the danger, he bade those about him
go and set on fire all the wood and materials that lay pro-
vided before the wall for the engines, and the engines
themselves ; this put a stop to the Syracusans, saved
Mcias, saved the walls and all the money of the Athenians.
For when the Syracusans saw such a fire blazing up
between them and the wall, they retired.

Mcias now remained sole general, and with great pros-
pects ; for cities began to come over to alliance with him,
and ships laden with corn from every coast came to the
camp, every one favoring when matters went well. And
some proposals from among the Syracusans despairing to
defend the city, about a capitulation, were already con-
veyed to him. And in fact Gylippus, who was on his way
with a squadron to their aid from Lacedaemon, hearing, on
his voyage, of the wall surrounding them, and of their dis-
tress, only continued his enterprise thenceforth, that, giv-
ing Sicily up for lost, he might, if even that should be pos-
sible, secure the Italians their cities. For a strong report
was everywhere spread about that the Athenians carried
all before them, and had a general alike for conduct and
for fortune invincible.

And Mcias himself, too, now against his nature grown
bold in his present strength and success, especially from
the intelligence he received underhand of the Syracusans,
believing they would almost immediately surrender the
town upon terms, paid no manner of regard to Gylippus
coming to their assistance, nor kept any watch of his ap-
proach, so that, neglected altogether and despised, Gylippus
went in a long- boat ashore without the knowledge of Nicias,
and, having landed in the remotest parts from Syracuse,
mustered up a considerable force, the Syracusans not so
much as knowing of his arrival nor expecting him ; so that
11 11 assembly was summoned to consider the terms to be



PLVTARCH'8 LIVE&.

arranged with Nicias, and some were actually on the way,
thinking it essential to have all despatched before the town
should be quite walled round, for now there remained very
little to be done, and the materials for the building lay all
ready along the line.

In this very nick of time and danger arrived Gongylus in
one galley from Corinth, and every one, as may be imag-
ined, flocking about him, he told them that Gylippus would
be with them speedily, and that other ships were coming
to relieve them. And, ere yet they could perfectly believe
Gongylus, an express was brought from Gylippus, to bid
them go forth to meet him. So now taking good heart,
they armed themselves ; and Gylippus at once led on his
wen from their march in battle array against the Atheni-
ans, as Mcias also embattled these. And Gylippus, piling
his arms in view of the Athenians, sent a herald to tell
them he would give them leave to depart from Sicily with-
out molestation. To this Nicias would not vouchsafe any
answer, but some of his soldiers laughing, asked if with the
sight of one coarse coat and Laconian staff the Syracusan
prospects had become so brilliant that they could despise
the Athenians, who had released to the Lacedaemonians
three hundred, whom they held in chains, bigger men than
Gylippus, and longer-haired? Timseus, also, writes that
even the Syracusans made no account of Gylippus, at the
first sight mocking at his staff and long hair, as afterwards
they found reason to blame his covetousness and meanness.
The same author, however, adds that on Gylippus's first
appearance, as it might have been at the sight of an owl
abroad in the air, there was a general flocking together of
men to serve in the war. And this is the truer saying ot
the two ; for in the staff and the cloak they saw the badge
and authority of Sparta, and crowded to him accordingly,
And not only Thucydides affirms that the whole thing was
done by him alone, but so, also, does Philistus, who was &
Syracusan and an actual witness of what happened



NXCIA&

However, the Athenians had the better in the first en
counter, and slew some few of the Syracusans, and amongst
them Gongylus of Corinth, But on the next day Gylippus
showed what it is to be a man of experience ; for with the
same arms, the same horses, and on the same spot of ground*
only employing them otherwise, he overcame the Atheni-
ans ; and they fleeing to their camp, he set the Syracusans
to work, and with the stone and materials that had been
brought together for finishing the wall of the Athenians,
he built a cross- wall to intercept theirs and break it off, so
that even if they were successful in the field, they would
not be able to do anything, And after this the Syracusans
taking courage manned their galleys, and with their horse
and followers ranging about took a good many prisoners ;
and Gylippus going himself to the cities, called upon them
to join with him, and was listened to and supported vigor-
ously by them. So that Kicias fell back again to his old
views, and, seeing the face of affairs change, desponded,
and wrote to Athens, bidding them either send another
army, or recall this out of Sicily, and that he might, in any
case, be wholly relieved of the command, because of his
disease.

Before this the Athenians had been intending to send
another army to Sicily, but envy of Kicias's early achieve-
ments and high fortune had occasioned, up to this time,
many delays ; but now they were all eager to send off suc-
cors. Eurymedon went before, in midwinter, with money,
and to announce that Euthydemus and Menander were
chosen out of those that served there under Nicias, to be joint
commanders with him. Demosthenes was to go after in the
spring with a great armament. In the mean time Nicias
was briskly attacked, both by sea and land ; in the begin-
ning he had the disadvantage on the water, but in the end
repulsed and sunk many galleys of the enemy. But by
land he conid not provide succor in time, so Gylippus sur
prised and captured Plemmyrium, in which the stores fos



PLVTARCS'8 LIVES.

the navy, and a great sum of money being there kept, all
fell iuto his hands, and many were slain, and many taken
prisoners. And what was of greatest importance, he now
cut off Nicias's supplies, which had been safely and readily
conveyed to him under Plernmyrium, while the Athenians
still held it, but now that they were beaten out, he could
only procure them with great difficulty, and with opposi-
tion from the enemy, who lay in wait with their ships
under that fort. Moreover, it seemed manifest to the Syra-
cusans that their navy had not been beaten by strength,
but by their disorder in the pursuit. Now, therefore, all
hands went to work to prepare for a new attempt, that
should succeed better than the former. Nicias had no wish
for a sea-fight, but said it was mere folly for them, when
I)emosthenes was coming in all haste with so great a fleet
and fresh forces to their succor, to engage the enemy with a
less number of ships and ill provided. But, on the other
hand, Menander and Euthydemus, who were just commenc-
ing their new command, prompted by a feeling of rivalry
and emulation of both the generals, were eager to gam some
great success before Demosthenes came, and to prove them-
selves superior to Nicias. They urged the honor of the
city, which, said they, would be blemished and utterly lost,
if they should decline a challenge from the Syracusans.
Thus they forced Nicias to a sea-fight ; and by the strata,
gem of Ariston, the Corinthian pilot (his trick, described by
Thucydides, about the men's dinners), they were worsted,
and lost many of their men, causing the greatest dejection
to Nicias, who had suffered so much from having the sole
command, and now again miscarried through his colleagues.
But now by this time Demosthenes with his splendid fleet
came in sight outside the harbor, a terror to the enemy. He
brought along, in seventy-three galleys, five thousand men
at arms ; of darters, archers, and slingers, not less than three
thousand ; with the glittering of their armor, the flags wav-
ing from the galleys, the multitude of coxswains and flute



NICIAS 193

players giving time to the rowers, setting off the whole with,
all possible warlike pomp and ostentation to dismay the
enemy. Now one may believe the Syracusans were again
in extreme alarm, seeing no end or prospect of release before
them, toiling, as it seemed, hi vain, and perishing to no pur-
pose. Nicias, however, was not long overjoyed with the
reinforcement, for the first time he conferred with Demos-
thenes, who advised forthwith to attack the Syracusans,
and to put all to the speediest hazard, to win Syracuse, or
else return home, afraid, and wondering at his promptness
and audacity, he besought him to do nothing rashly and
desperately, since delay would be the ruin of the enemy,
whose money would not hold out, nor their confederates
be long kept together; that when once they came to be
pinched with want, they would presently come again to him
for terms, as formerly. For, indeed, many in Syracuse
held secret correspondence with him, and urged him to stay,
declaring that even now the people were quite worn out
with the war, and weary of Gylippus. And if their neces-
sities should the least sharpen upon them they would give
up all.

Nicias glancing darkly at these matters, and unwilling
to speak out plainly, made his colleagues imagine that it
was cowardice which made him talk in this manner. And
saying that this was the old story over again, the well-
known procrastinations and delays and refinements with
which at first he let slip the opportunity in not immediately
falling on the enemy, but suffering the armament to become
a thing of yesterday, that nobody was alarmed with, they
took the side of Demosthenes, and with much ado forced
Nicias to comply. And so Demosthenes, taking the land-
forces, by night made an assault upon Epipolse ; part of the
enemy he slew ere they took the alarm, the rest defending
themselves he put to flight. Nor was he content with this
victory there, but pushed on further, till he met the BOBO*

tians. For these were the first that made head against tli*
U



194 PLUTAECH'S LIVES.

Athenians, and charged them with a shout, spear against
spear, and killed many on the place. And now at once there
ensued a panic and confusion throughout the whole army ;
the victorious portion got infected with the fears of tha



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