The History of Thucydides. Newly tr. into English...with very copious annotations...Prefixed, is an entirely new life of Thucydides: with a memoir of the state of Greece, civil & military, at the beginning of the Peloponnesian war online

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great port, except a small part next the sea, which they were
now building. At the other part, too, of the circumvallation
towards Trogilus to the other sea, stones were now laid ready
most part of the way, and in some places the wall was half,
and in others entirely finished. Into so imminent a danger
had Syracuse come, and within so little of being enclosed.^

3 They had learnt that he was now near.] It is surprising that the Athe-
nians should not, by this time, have so completed their lines of circumral-
lation 8d to have prevented all communication with the country. Their
industry appears to have been as slender as their vigilance. It is true that
they had many natural impediments to overcome, especially in the marsh
across which they must carry their wall, before all communication with
Epipolae were cut o£ Though, indeed, they seem to have done nothing
there, but to have turned thev attention to carrying the wall down to the
great port.

* legit.] Hobbes and Smith write Jegtu, But that cannot be tolerated;
for there is little doubt but that the 'Ilrcu mentioned by Steph. Byz. as
a fort in ^cily, is the place here meant. Whether 'Uyac or 'Urtig be
the true spelling, cannot be determined ; but as all the MSS. of Thucy*
dides support the y, it should surely be retained ; though Goeller edits 'lirac,
and Bekker, roost uncritically, rira.

I cannot but suspect that Jeg» occupied the site of what was afterwards
called Acne,

It may seem strange that Gonplu s should have stopped to take foiv
tresses. But probably he was obliged to take I^bs, or Acrse, because it was
in bis way to Syracuse, and occupied by the Siculi in the Athenian in*

» Arrives at Epipoke,] Mitford here accuses Nicias of gross neglect in
sufiering Gongylus, with a force of scarcely two thousand heavy-armed, to
ascend Epipolae unopposed. But, in fact, as the Syracusans had advanced
forth to meet Grongvlus. the Athenians were really not strons enough to do
any such thing. ~ rernaps it may be said that they should have posted a
force on Euryelus. But, as there was no fart there, it could not have bin*
dered the ascent of Gonyv lus. sinee it would have to contend with the Sy*
racusan army. And thus the detachment would have been sacrificed, and
for no advantage, since, if Gon gy lus had not ascended by Euryehu^ he
might have entered the place Wsome other way.

Intoso immment a danger, ^.] Such seems to be the full sense of the
words, in which there is a olendinff of two clauses. What was the extent
which remained to be circumvalUted it b not possiUe exactly to deter-
inine ; probably less than a mile, though this would have been the most
difficult part ot the whole^ the ground being mostly a muddy marsh.

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^ III. The Athenians, at Gylippus and the Syracusans sud-*
denly coming upon them, were at first in some consternation,
but soon ranged themselves in order. Gyh'ppus, however,
taking post, immediately sent a herald to them, to say that
** if they are willing to evacuate Sicily within five days, taking
their baggage and property, he is ready to treat for the pur-
pose.'' The Athenians, however, paid no attention to this offer,
and sent the herald away without an answer.' After this
both parties made preparations for battle; however, Gylippus,
perceiving the Syracusans to be in disarray, and not easily to
be put in order ^ withdrew the army more into the open
space. As to Nicias, he did not lead on his troops ^, but lay
quiet at his wall. When Gylippus saw that they were not
advancing, he withdrew his army to the steep called the
Temenites *, and there encamped for the night.

On the following day, he took the greater part of his
forces, and drew them up in order at the walls of the Athenians,
in order that they might not send succours elsewhere; and
sending, meanwhile, a detachment against the fort Lfabdalum,
he took it, putting to the sword all that were found there ; for
the place was not in the view of the Athenians.^ And this

' Without an anstoer,] Plutarch Nic. 19. adds: rwv Sk (rrparwruiv tiviq
jcaraygXwvrjff, iipwrutv, ei Sui nrapovoiav ivbg rpl^utvoQ Kai fiai^rripiac Aojcorvt-
KrJQ ovrtoc Itrxypd rd ^vpcucov^Uav iKaifftvifQ yiyovev, to»c 'A^tivalutv Kara^poviiv,
Indeed, Gylippus seems to have been almost the only Spartan. So Justin. J,
4. says : ^ ab his (scil. Lacedaemoniis) mittitur Gylippus tohs, sed in quo
instar omnium auxiliorum erat."

* In disarray, and not, S^c.^ Almost the very same expression has been
before used; and it does seem that the Syracusans were not only deficient
in discipline and docUitv, but really could not form in line with any preci-
sion, especially on rough or confined ground ; which is the case with all raw
soldiers. Gylippus^ therefore, very judiciously, drew off his forces to the
wider space of lemenites.

3 Did not lead on his troops.] Though it should seem that he might have
done this to advantage.

« Temenites,] This seems to have been the commencement of the high
ground of Epipolce, and which, perhaps, had there a sort of crag abruptly

^ Was not in the view of the Athenians.] Mitford, indeed, narrates that
Gylippus had taken such a position as to cut off the communication of the
Athenians with Labdalum and his northern lines. But that does not appear
from Thucydides, nor is it probable in itself, for Nicins was too wary not to
have suspected his purpose. Besides, as the place was out of sight, such a
precaution was unnecessary,


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same day a trirerae of the Athenians was taken by the Syra-
cusans, as it lay off the portj reconnoitring itJ

IV. After this, the Syracusans and their allies set aboat
building a single wall, commencing from the city, and running
up through Epipolse to the transverse wall ^ in order that the
Athenians (unless they could hinder its erection) might no
longer be able to circumvallate them.

And now the Athenians, having completed the wall to the
sea, proceeded upwards. On which Gylippus, as some part
of their work was but weak, took the army by night, and
went to assault it. But the Athenians (for they happened to
encamp outside) perceiving their approach, advanced against
them. On seeing which, Gylippus withdrew his troops
back. And now the Athenians having built the wall higher,
themselves stood on guard here, stationing the allies at the rest
of the circumvallation, at such posts as each were to occupy. ^
Nicias also thought it expedient to fortify what was called the
Plemmyrium ^ (a promontory opposite to the city, which

^ Of the port, reconnoitring it.] Such seems to be the sense, and not that
which all the translators assign, ** as it was entering the great port ; " for
the Athenian ships had all of them before entered the great port. Thucy-
dides, however, does not say the great port, but the port, by which he
means that part of the great port which the Syracusans occupied near
Ortygia. The trireme had probably ventured too near, and was overtaken
before it could reach the Athenian station ; or, perhaps, on venturing too
near, it might run aground on some shoal.

■ A tingle wally <$-<?.] Such is the sense assigned by Goeller ; and so I
have myself ever understood the passage, which has been strangely misun-
derstood, from its not being perceived that tiIxoq must be taken twice.
The transverse will here mentioned was that of which we read at 6, 101.,
which was double, and had wooden towers, like the wfill at the siege of
Platsea, 1. 2, 21. Whereas, the wall now building was tingle, because, when
it met the transverse wall (which, it seems, the Syracusans still retained), it
would require no defending on more than one side. Or, {>erhaps, the Sy-
racusans ttiought that ir they were strong enough in the field to accomplish
the building and guarding of this wall, the Athenians could not carry
through their circunivallation. Indeed, this wall completely intersected, and
made nugatory the whole of the line of circumvallation.

>•' At such potts at, ^c.] \. e. assigning to each their posts to guard.

^ Plemmyrium,] A promontory and small island at the entrance of the
great port. On which see Goeller de Situ. With respect to the ratio ap*
pe//alumis (on which the commentators sny nothing), it seems to have been
so called as l>eing the place where the li(te{ir\ntivpa) rose and Iteat, making
what is called in Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire an eger. Hence the read-

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jutting out into the great port, makes the entrance narrow),
since it appeared to him that if this were fortified, the in-
troduction of necessaries would be easier ; for they might
blockade the port of the Syracusans at a nearer distance, and
not, as now, have to make their approaches * from the very
farthest recess of the harbour, whenever any movement was to
be made with the naval force.^ Nicias, too, now paid tlie
more attention to the maritime war, as perceiving aflfairs by
land, since the arrival of Gylipp-*^ to be in a less promising
state. He removed, therefore, the army and navy thither ^,
and erected three forts, in which were deposited most of the
baggage and equipments ; and now the larg^ transports lay
at anchor there, as also did the swifl-sailing ships. Hence,
however, chiefly arose ^ first the loss sustained in the
crews. For the sailors used water scanty in quantity, and far
to fetch ; and, moreover, when they went for that, or to
collect fuel, they were many of them ® slain by the Syracusan
horse, who were masters of the fields for a third part of the
Syracusan horse (because of the forces in Plemmyrium, that

ing UXtifivpioVf edited by Bekker but rejected by Goeller, seems to be the
most antiertt and correct orthography.

* Approaches.] Or, advances, attacks, by which, it is plain, are meant the
advances or attacks made by the Athenians on the Syracusan fleet.

> Whenever any movement, 4*c.] Such is the sense which I have ever
supposed to be contained in the words of the original ; and my opinion is
supported by that of Hack and Goeller; though the earlier mterpretert
take Kiv&vrat of the Syraciuans.

As Hack has so cx>rrectly pointed out the sense of ccvtuvrai, it is strange
that he should have misunderstood the expression ^t' iXaoaovo^, which has
no reference to the distance from ///z(y, but to the distance from the Athe-
nian station to that of the Syracusan. The former, it seems, had hitherto
been at the inmost recess of the great port, as being in communication with
their land forces. It was, however, very inconvenient for blockading the
entrance, as the distance the ships had to go to their blockading station was
not small ; and, from few being there at a time, ships sometimes made their
entrance into the port in spite of them, as in the case of Goncylus.

^ Conveyed the army and navy tkUhcr,} Though this stepnad its parti-
cular and immediate advantages, it was, in fact, abandoning the attempt to
circunivallate Syracuse, which, indeed, was now impracticable without a
much larger force. And it must be confessed that the tafeiy of the men
(which Nicias ever kept in view rather than victoryj demanc^d that there
should be a constant and uninterrupted communicaUon with the open sea.

f Hence^ hotuever, espedally arose.] Such seems to be the sense of ui<Tr«,

» Many of them.) Bekker and Goeller insert from two MSS. ol ttoWoL
Poppo, however, wuh reason, objects to the sense thence arising. The true
realding seems to be noXKoi, whicn I have followed.

M 2

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they might not go out to ravage) had been now stationed at
PoUchne^ near Olympieum. Nicias, too, learnt that the rest
of the Corinthian fleet was approaching ; and he despatched
twenty ships to watch them, with orders to Ue in wait for them
about Locri, and Rhegium, and the approach to Sicily.

V. Gylippus, meanwhile, was carrying forward the wall
through Epipolae, using the stones which the Athenians before
laid, there for themselves ; and, moreover, he regularly led
forth and ranged in order the Syracusans and their allies in
front of the wall ^^, on which the Athenians likewise drew up
over against tbem. And when Gylippus judged that a
favourable opportunity presented itself, he commenced an
attack, and the armies came to close fight between die walls **,
wherein the Syracusan cavalry was of no service. And the
Syracusans and their allies being defeated, and having fetched
away their dead tmder treaty, the Athenians erected a trophy.
Gylippus, calling together the army, said that the fault
was not theirs, but his; for by drawing up the line too
much within the walls, he had caused them to be deprived of
all benefit from the cavalry '^ and the darters ; and that now
he meant to lead them on again. He bid them also to con-
ceive of themselves as being a force nothing inferior to the
enemy ; and as to spirit and courage, he said it was a thing
not to be endured, if they^ as being Peloponnesians and

>» PoLichne^ A small town (as, indeed, the name imports) adjacent to,
and probably dependent on, the temple of Jupiter Olympus, having grown
around it, as did the burghs and towns around the abbeys of the middle ages.

Goeller de Situ, p. 86. mentions other towns of the same name.

'0 Ranged in order the, 4-c.] For the purpose of guarding the works. The
&et, it may l>e observed, represents what is regularly and usually done.

This was good policy on the part of Gylippus, smce he thereby not only
defended the works, but trained his men, and habituated them to face the

' • 2%tf ivalJi,] Namely, the Syracusan single wall across to Epipolae, and
the end of the Athenian wall of circumvallation, which was earned down
to the great port.

>» Deprived of all benefit from the cavalry] For cavalry always required
plenty of space, as also did light troops ; since, if brought to ^lose quarters,
they were no match for the heavy-armed,

Nlitford thipks that ** this was not really an oversight of Gylippus, but was
done on purpose to give practice to the Syracusans, with the least possible
risk, and make them experience the necessity of submitting to the severity
of Spartan discipline, if they would hope for the success for which the
Spartan arms were renowned.'*

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Dorians, should not overcome lonians, islanders, and a pro-
miscuous rabble '^ and drive them from the country.

VI. Afler this, when an occasion offered itself, he again led
them forward. And Nicias and the Athenians, conceiving
that if the enemy should not choose to begin the battle, it was
necessary for them not to suffer the counter-wall to be carried
forward (for the enemies' ^ wall had now almost advanced past ^
the end of theirs), and that, if it should be carried further, it
would give them the double advantage ^ of constantly con-
quering whenever they fought, and fighting, or not, at their
pleasure ; for these reasons they advanced against die Syracu-
sans.^ And Gylippus, having led forth his troops somewhat
farther from the walls than before, engaged with the enemy,
after ranging the cavah-y and darters on the flank of the Athe-
nians '*, at the open space, where the works of both walls termi-
nated. In the battle, these cavalry charging the left wing of
the Athenians (which was opposite to them) routed it. ^ And
thereby the rest of the army, being also defeated by the
Syracusans, was hurried precipitately ^ into the fortifica*
tions. ^ And the ne^tt night the Syracusans got before the
Athenians in thejr counter-wall, passing that building by the
Athenians. So that now they could not themselves be

1^ Promiscuous rabdie.] On the sense of KvyXvc I shall have much to
treat in my edition.

I Almost advanced past. "j Mitford paraphrasesy '' it barely did not inter-
sect the line of the Athenian contravallation."

^ Give them the double advantage, <Jv.] Literally, ** made theirs." How
it could ave them the advantage of constantly conquering, I see not. Ni-
cias, in his Epistle, re^rds it as very possible, with a large force, to accom-
plish the circumvallation, after -destroying the cross wall.

3 Advanced against the Sjfracusans.] i. e. thev b^an the battle.

* On the flank of the Athenians.] i. e. at the left dank.

6 These cavalry charging, ^c] It is surprising that Nicias should not have
disposed his own cavalry, about six hundred and fifty in number, as some
check. But, strange to say, no use seems to have been made of the
cavalry ; at least little or nothing is said of it. In fact, from want of forage
and exercising ground, the horses must have been in a most inefficient

Hurried precipitately.] This sense of Karapdeeui may be illustrated by
the following examples: Dionys, Hal 614* /«) raraj4oax^«<^« ^'pic ^vavrk^
. x«p^v. Aman E. A. 5, 17, 5. Karippax^n^av iieirtp ti'c T(Xj(<>e ri ^(Kwv.

7 Fortifications.] i. e. their fortified wall of circumvallation.


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hindered- by them, but they (i. e. the Athenians), eiren if they
should be masters of the field, would be utterly dejirived of
the power of circumvallating them.®

VII. After thi?, the remaining ships of the Corinthians,
Ambraciots, and Leucadians, twelve in number, commanded
by Erasinidas, a Corinthian, having escaped the observation
of the Athenian guard force, made sail into the harbour, and
carried on, jointly with the Syracusans, the remainder of the
wall up to the transverse erection.^

And now Gylippus set out to the rest of Sicily ^, to raise an
army, and collect both sea and land forces, and bring over
such of the cities as had either yet not been hearty in their
cause, or had wholly stood aloof from the contest. Other
ambassadors, too, of the Syracusans and the Corinthians were
despatched to LacedsBmon and Corinth, in order that an
army might yet be transported to Sicily, in whatever manner
(whether in hulks, or barges, or by whatever other way) might
seem most expedient^, since Xh^ Athenians were sending over
for reinforcements.*

Hie Syracusans also manned their navy, and began to

* Wotdd be utterly deprived^ Sfc] I leave it to military men to explain
this ; for certainly 1 do not see why, if the Athenians should be masters of
the fiefd, they might not demolish this counter-wall, and then carry on
their circumvallation as before. Indeed, Nicias, in his Epistle, admits
as much.

« 7%e remainder of the waU^ S^.] By this it seems that the Syracusans
were not content with carrying forward the Mmale counter'Wall past the
Athenian wail of circumvallation^ but carried it so far as to roeetthe former
transverse wall: thus materially strengthening it on that side.

"2 7^ rest of SHalt/,] Namely, such as he had not traversed in his
march across from Himera, especially the southern and western parts of the

s Might seem expedient,] Literally, " might be successful ." Bchsefer would
cancel the words Iv iXxafftv — dXKi^, as not agreeable to Thucydidean bre-
vity. But Thucydides is occasionally profuse of words where there would
seem to be no need of them ; so much so, indeed, as to excite some disgust
to modern ears. Such, however, is, more or less, the characteristic of all the
antient writers (especially Herodotus) as compared with the moderns, and
may be regarded as a vestige of the simple phraseology of the earliest ages.

< Sending over for reinforcements.] The iiri in ItrifurairffiToiikviav sig-
nifies to, thither. ' I prefer taking iirtfUT. as a participle present, because
the Athenians had not yet sent, but were on the point ot dotne so ; and,
probably, the Syracusans had obtained secret intelligence of their inten-

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practise dieir men ^, as meaning to try thfeir endeavcrars in that
branch too ; indeed, in all other respects, they had conceived
much courage.^

VIII. Nicias perceiving this, and seeing the strength of
the enemy and the distresses of his own army every day
becoming greater, sent also himself to Athens, h aving , in deed,
often at other times, as the events occurred, despatched mes?.^
sengers \* but he was now especially induced to do so, con-
ceiving that he was placed in a very perilous situation, and that
unless those at home should either speedily recall the army>
or send off other and not inferior forces, there would be no
chance of preservation. Fearing, too, lest the messengers,
either through inability of speech, or failure in memory ^, or
by speaking to gratify the multitude, should not report things

* Practise their men,] On this sense (which hm not been well under-
stood by some commentators) Goeller refers to Wesseling on Diod. i. 15,
8. and the Lex. Pol) b. He might have added, that it is found in a kindred
passage of Herod. I, 6, 12. Kai Itr^aiveiv oitK i^kX^tncov Iq rdg vio^, oirS' dwt-

^ Had conceived much courage.] Portus, Smith, and Gail assign anothdr
but not so well founded a sense. 'EntfipiitwiT^ai is often so used both br
Thncydides and other wrifrs. And as it is here joined with lc> so it n
with TTpbc in Diod. Sic. t. 5, 293. liripp*>KT^r;<yav irp6c.

• Having, indeed, often at other timet, <J-c.] Mitford remarks, " that
writing was but beginning to come into common use for ordinaiy purposes.
The despatches of generals were mostly, or, it rather appears, universally,
committed to trusty messengers, who delivered them veHwilly.'* And he
adds, that'* Thucydides speaks of Nicias as the first genefal who made it his
practice to transmit hrs reports home constantljr in writing. From his first
appointment, therefore, to a command with which he had always been littlie
satisfied^ and in which complex operations were to be conducted, at a greater
^Hstance from home than had been usual for the Athenian arms, he had
used the precaution of fi*equently sendmg despatches in writing, wHh an
exact account of every transaction." To the latter remark, however, I
must take exception. Thucydides does not say that he was the first to
adopt this practice. Though, indeed, from the expressions, " fearing, too,
)est the messengers should — he wrote an epistle," it would appear that
this was the first epistle he had sent, and that he had before sent verbal
messages. Yet the expression lit TroXXaic <5XXmc teews to prove the contrary.
« Faiture in ntemori/,] Such is the sense, if the reading, edited l)y Bekker
and Goeller, fivnfitic, be the true one ; but I am inclined to suspect it is
merely a gloss, and that the common reading yvufitje should be restored.
I cannot, however, approve of the sense assigned to it by Portus and Smkb,
*• want of judgment ; " for Nicias would not send fools, nor was judgment
(or counsel, as Bauer explains) very necessary in delivering a message, but
rather pretence of mind, lest they should be disconcerted or embarrassed, as
they might well be before such an audience. ^

M 4

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as they were^ he wrote an epistle, conceiving that thus,
especially, his own mind would escape being misunderstood
or misrepresented by the messenger, and that the Athenians
would know the truth, and form their resolves thereby.

Thus the messengers departed, bearing the letter, with in-
structions what they should say.* As for himself^ he now
took care of the affairs of the army by keeping on the de-
* fensive, rather than by encountering voluntary dangers.^

IX. At the close of thb same summer, Euetioki, one of the
Athenian generals S warring against Amphipolis, in con-

3 Should not report things at they were,] To this is applicable the passage
of Homer II. o. 207. Ic^Xbv yAp rirvKrai, '6t dyytXog aiatiia tidy, which is
had in view by Pindar Pyth. 4. 494. Hence nmy be confirmed the emen-
dation of Dr. Blomfield on ^schyl. Choeph. 761. iv dyykXtft yAp Kvirrdg
dp^ovrai XSyoc, where the common reading is Kovirro^,

< fVith initlructions what they thould tayl\ Namely, in explanation of its
contents, or farther particulars of the state of affairs. Thucydides ftieniions
this, because though in general it was permitted to the messengers bearing
letters to give explanations of the letter or the business, or further details
(as Acts 1 5, 27. Kai aitrbe didt \6yov dtrayyiXXovraQ rd avrd), yet sometimes

Online LibraryThucydidesThe History of Thucydides. Newly tr. into English...with very copious annotations...Prefixed, is an entirely new life of Thucydides: with a memoir of the state of Greece, civil & military, at the beginning of the Peloponnesian war → online text (page 21 of 59)