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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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 26 of 59)
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considerable amount,] Plutarch has preserved the exact number, namely,
''not fewer than three thousand." A particular which, it is certain, he derived
from some other historian, and not Thucydides; probabljr from Philistus.
Plutarch moreover adds that the^ were also provided with pipers, for a
sort of theatrical pomp, and to stnke terror into the enemy. For the very
same reason, probably, Sir Francis Drake and most of our early navigators
were (as we find from Hackluyt and others) well provided with trumpeters
and other musicians.

6 If there were to be, /j^c,"] It should seem that in the original there is a
blen dins of two constructions ; though Matthise, in his Greek Grammar,
321., adiduces this passage as an example of the use of the genitive for
illustration of a word or preposition. There is here, also, an ellipsis of
davfjidZut, which is not unfrequent in the best writers.

7 Asit were a strengthening out of weakness and calamity.] An expresdon
of almost lyric boldness, for " it seemed that, from being weak, they had
been made strong." So St. Paul (between whom and our author there is
much resemblance) savs, Hebr. 1 1, 34. IvtSwafuSxr^tieav awb dv^iveiag.

8 Ihllj/, nor fall into the error which Nicias had comntitted.] So Uesych.
McXXovuc^v. ImtfM^ifc Kai fuWrjrtic 6 Nuc/ac ^ytro. I conjecture 6n
Ppaivc, K, r, X.

9 For whereas, /jtc] Here we have, I think, dearljr the opinion of Thu-
cydides (and not that of Demosthenes only), that a spirited attack on Syra-
cuse, at the outset of the business, would have very probably led to the
Bubjugatioti of that power. Had not a year been wasted in pettv enter-
prise, the Athenians could scarcely have missed of success. And here we
fnay remark on the want of Judgment shown by the Athenians in not at

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comiog he had been an object of fear, when he did not im-
mediately attack Syracuse, but wintered at Catana, he fell into
contempt, and was prevented by the coming of Gylippus with
an army out of Peloponnesus, which, if he had mimediately
attacked Syracuse, would not have been sent for ; as the
Syracusans, supposing themselves to be a match for the enemy,
would have learnt their inability to compete with them, and at
the same time been completely blocked up, so that even though
they had sent for any aid, it conld have been of no adequate
benefit Considering, I say, this, and knowing that he himself
would be on the first day the greatest object of fear to the
enemy, Demosthenes was desirous, as speedily as possible, to
profit by the present awe inspired by his force. And seeing
the cross wall of the Syracusans, by which they hindered the
Athenians firom circumvallating them, to be but single, and
considering that if the Athenians could again be masters of
the ascent to Epipolse, and get possession of the camp there,
it would easily be taken (as the enemy would not withstand
them), he was in haste to set about the attempt* To him it
seemed to be the shortest 3¥ay of despatching the war ; for
either, if successful, he should have Syracuse in his power, or
else he would draw ofi* the forces, and not have both the
Athenians at home, and those in the expedition, nay, indeed,
the whole state, consumed to no purpose.

first selecting Demosthenes for the commander-in-chief. He, with Alcibi-
ades and Lamachus, would, no doubt, have accomplished the conauest of
Syracuse. As things now were, there was, even untk this powerful rein-
forcement, far less chance of success ; and so Demosthenes must himself
have thought, otherwise he would not have been so anxious to take advan*
tage of the first terror of the Syracusans. ** In his younger days (says Mit-
ford) he had been enterprising, even to rashness. Now, in mature age,
undazzled by the near view of glorious conquest, unawed by the apprehen-
sion of popular rage, neither the hope of profit, nor the prospect of rame, nor
the fear ot a tvrannical multitude, could move hira from what he thought
the welfare of his country required. The safety of the Sicilian army was
not to be staked against any hope of conquest : the gain would be a preca-
rious advantage to the commonwealth ; the loss, fdmost certain ruin. His
first resolution, therefore, was to avoid the error of Nicias, losing opportu-
nity by delay ; his next, to fix upon some one undertaking in which success
might be in some degree decisive, and failure not fatal ; and, finally, he de«
termined that, should such a first attempt be defeated, it would be improper
to risk farther so large a portion of the strength of the commonwealth,
and, whatever indignation he might incur from the Athenian people, he
would lead the armament home."

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Firsts therdbre, the Athenians went forth and ravaged ^^ the
territory of the Sjracusans about the Anapus, and were
masters, as at first, both by sea and land. For the Syraetisans
went not forth in either way, except with some cavalry and
darters from Olympieum.

XLIIL After this it was thought proper by Demosthenes
to make an attempt on the cross wall.' But when, on his ap-
proaching it, the battering engines were burnt by the enemy
defending the wall, and when, after making assaults on various
quarters, they were repulsed, bethought they ought no longer
to delay, but (having prevailed upon Nicias and his other
colleagues) to make the attempt on Epipolae which he had

And now by daytime, indeed, it seemed impossible to go
forth and secure the ascent unobserved. Having, therefore,
ordered the troops to take five days' provisions, and all the
stone-masons and carpenters to be ready, and a store of
arrows and whatever necessaries (at building^ they would
requhre on securing this purpose, he himself and Eurymedon
and Menander, about the time of the first sleep ^, went with
all the forces, and marched towards Epipobs ; Nicias being
left bdiind in the fortifications*

Having come to Epipolae, at Euryalus ^ (where the fcMrmer

10 JFlrtt, therefore, the Athemant wentf9rth and ravaged, 4v.l Thus they
recommenced oneosive operaliont ; yet not m the way which Demosthenes
recommencledy narady, by an attack on Epipolae. It should seem, there*
fore (though such is not expressly mentioned by our author), that the pro-
posal was neglected by Nicias and Eurymedon, as too bold. Cautious mea-
sares, then, were pursued, which were, however, not ill judged; for, as
Mitford observes, ^ a double object seems to have been proposed. Pos-
sibly, the enemy might be provoked to risk a battle; of all things, perhaps,
for the Athenians the most desirable. Should the^^ avoid it, the Athenian
army, besides being gratified with booty, would derive encouragement from
the experienced acknowledgment of their superiority."

I Crou waU,] I here read (with Bekker and Goeller) irapariix^tf^^rott
from almost all the MSS. The common reading, dworHxi<ffMrot, yields no
tolerable tense.

« Stunc'VUttonM aad carpenters, 4^.] He had in view the erection of
tk/ortrets on Epipolse

3 Fint sieep.] Or, first watch, as Goeller explains.

« Httvmg came to EpipoUg at Euryalus.] Mitford inaccurately renders,
^ ascending by the way of Euryalus, deceived, it should seem, by the ver-
fion of Smith. On inspection of the plan it will appear that the Athenian^

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anny had first ascended )» tbey gained the ascent unobserved
by the watch, and carried the Syracusan port there, killing
some of the garrison, the greater part, however, escaping to
the camps (of which there were three on Epipohe, one of the
Syracusans, one of the other Siceliots, and one of the allies),
carried thither tidings of the attack, as also to the six hundred
Syracusans who had at first been appointed as guards at this
quarter o( Epipolae. These immediately gave their aid ; but
Demosthenes and the Athenians met with and routed them^
after they had made a brave stand. They then immediately
rushed forward, in order that by improving the present
ardour to accomplish what they came for, they might not be
too late.^ Meanwhile, others carried, at the first assault ^ (the
garrison abandoning, its defence), the cross wall of the Syra^
cusans, and threw down the battlements. But the Syracusans
and their allies, with Gylippus and his corps, brought up aid
from the foreguard (or outworks) ; yet this daring attack being
made upon them in the night, and unexpectedly, they charged
the Athenians in some trepidation, and, unable to withstand
the shock, at first retreated. While, however, the Athenians
were proceeding (as victors) in somewhat of disorder, being
desirous to pass as quickly as possible through that part of the
enemy's forces, that they had not yet engaged with (lest, by
any remissness of ardour, they should rally) the Boeotians ^
first made a stand, and charging home, routed and put diem

situated as they then were, could not ascend Epipolse by the way of Eury-
alus. The sense simply is, that being arrived at the Highest part of Epi-
polae, and close by the hill of Euryalus, &c.

* Bjf improving the preterU ardour, ^c] I agree with Goeller that the
genitive, tov iripaivtff^ai, belongs to 6pfiy rather than to ppaStis, with
which the Scholiast and most interpreters connect it.

Here we may recall to mind the words of Shakspeare, that " there b a
tide in the affairs of men,** &c,

6 Ai the firtt assauU ] At irpwrifc, as Goeller observes, roust be suj)-
plied opfific, from the preceding. I agree with him that the true reading is
Airb Tfjg irpwTfig rb vapardxi^f^a I for otherwise the r^ can hardly be taken
with trapanixifrfia.

7 The Bceotiaru,] It is remarkable that some of the rudest shocks the
Athenians sustained came firom their bitter and irreconcileable enemies the

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XLIV* And here the Athenians were now in much dis-
order and perplexity, insomuch that ^ it was not possible to
learn from either party in what manner each of the cir-
cumstances occurred. For in the daj/y indeed, things are
clearer, but not even then do those who are present know allf
nay, scarcely what passes immediately before them ; while in
a nocturnal rencounter ^ (which this, alone of all the contests
of great armies in the war, was), how could any one have
aught of distinct knowledge ? For though the moon shone
bright, they only saw each other (as it was likely they should
by the moon) just so as that the appearance of a body might
be discerned; but to recognise friend or foe, was an un-
certainty. Moreover, there was no small immber of heavy-
armed on both sides engaged in a narrow space. And now of •
the Athenians some were already defeated, while others were
marching onward, in their first impetus, unvanquished. A con-
siderable part of the army had now ascended, and some were
yet mounting the hill, so that they knew not what point to
make for, for the front rank being routedf all was one medley
of confusion, and it was difficult to distinguish any orders for
the shouting. For the Syracusans and their allies, as they
gained any advantage, were animating each other by a vast
shouting (indeed, it was impossible in the night to signify their
meaning any other way), and they stood to] receive the charge
from all that advanced upon them. As to the Athenians,
they were prying about for each other, and accounted all such
as came in the opposite direction ^, if even they were friends,

1 Insomuch that,] If the common reading ijp be correct, it must be
taken for ko^' ip\ But as the sense thus proceeds but lamely, I would con-
jecture j, which reading I have ventured to follow.

* A nocturnal rencounter,] This passage is had in view by Plutarch, t. 2.
998. olov li rig iv yvKTOfiaxtaiQ vrpaTonUufv, where read vavfiaxi^ orparo^
viSiav, the c having arisen from the following a. Also Gregor. Naz. t. 1 .
34. A,i>civ vvKTOfiaxUf, Kai <Tt\fiktiQ aavlpaiQ c^yyitrtv, lx^O*»»v h ^tK*»fv o^fi£
oif iiayivkHTKovris. See also Herod. 1. 1, 74. and Polysn. 1. 6, 5.

The result of this night encounter was the greatest calamitpr that had yet
befallen the Athenians. And many afterwardd, languishing m the caverns
of the Latomie, or wearing out their best days in hopeless slavery, would
probably often think of the words of Eurip. Phoen. 738. 'Et(okK 'Ivov
^pit v^* roTf dk ToKfiSnny irXkov, Kp, 'Evdvtrrvxri^at dtivbv iir^SvriQ

3 AU such as came in the opposite direction^^ I can hardly asree with
Bekker and Goellcr, who edit to H IvavriaQ for rb ivavriov. The new

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(of those who had turned and fled backwards) as enemies :
also, by frequent iterations of " the watchvoordy^ (for there
was no other means of recognition) they occasioned much
mutual confusion, by all at once asking it, and thereby made it
known to the enemy.* While that of the Syracusans they had
not equal means of discovering, because they, being victorious
and unbroken, were better recognised.* So that if any fell in
with a party of the enemy, and had the superiority in number,
yet they escaped them^ by knowing the watchword, while
they themselves, if they could not answer, were slain. But
what did them the greatest injury was the perpetual pseonizing ;
since, being much alike from both parties, it occasioned
great perplexity. For when the Argives and /'Corcyreans,
and whatever others of the Doric race were o^ the side of
the Athenians, sounded the paeon, they thrdw the Athe-
nians into a terror equal to that inspired by the epemy. So
that, at last, falling upon each other, in various quarters' of
the army, when they were once thrown into utter disorder,
friends not only inspired fear into friends, and citizens into
citizens, but even coming to blows with each other, they were
with difficult parted. And now the pursuit having begun,
and the descent from Epipolae being narrow, many ^ rushed
headlong down the precipices and perished ; while those that
escaped from the height, when they got down to the plain,
many of them, and such as were of the first aimy, by their
better knowledge of the country, arrived in safety at the camp;
but of those that came last, some missing their way, wandered

reading seems to be a mere gloss ; for though that be the primitive sense of
IvavTioi^ yet it is rare. To the examples of it in Steph. Thes. I add thd
following: Sappho frag. 2, 2. (Nfus. Crit. 1 . p. 7.) ^mc ivavrioc roi *I(FMvti,
The common reading may also be defended by the following imitations in
Joseph, p. 205, 43. nav rb irpotrrvx^v ivfipovv, vofiiZovrte dvai ff-oXi/iiov. and
857, 25. iroXtfAioi riyoiffitvoi irav ri, k, r. X,

-> Made it known to the enemy,] And consequently useless, or even pre<>
judicial to themselves. (Mitford.)

5 Better recognised.] f\(f(fov Ayvoiie^ai is here used by a common

« Escaped them,] Smith absurdly renders^ " they judged it best to fly ;
because they were sensible that their own word was divulged."

7 Many,] For ol noXkoi I read, from conjecture, TroXXoi. The common
reading cannot be correct, since it is inconsistent with what follows.



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over the country; and theM, when it was day, the Syracusan
horse rode about and cut down.®

XLV. On the day following, the Syracusans erected two
trophies, one at Epipolas, where the ascent is, tne other at
the place where the, Boeotians made the first stand. As to the
Athenians, they fetched away their dead under truce. And
no small number * was there of themselves and their allies
that were slain. Arms, however, yet more than in propor-
tion to the slain were taken ; for those light-armed who were
forced to leap down the precipices were obliged to abandon
their shields ; and of these some perished, others escaped with
their lives.^

XL VI. Afterwards the Syracusans, on this unexpected
success, recovering their former courage, sent Sicanus with
fifteen ships to Acragas, which was now labouring under in-
testine commotions, in order, if possible, to bring it over to
the Syracusan interest. Gylippus, too, went again a land
journey over Sicily, in order to collect yet other forces, as
being in hopes, since things bad taken this turn in Epipolas,
that he should even carry by storm the walls of the Athe-

XLVII. In the meantime^ the Athenian commanders
consulted on the calamity which had befallen them, and on
the present reduced state of things ** in the army. For they

' Tkeset when if woiday, the Syracman hone, 4^c.] This passage is imi-
tated by Plutarch Camill. 33. rovrovg ftc^ rifUpav triropddac iv ry x**i^ ^^'^^
^tpoftkvovg iirtXavvovTtQ <A iTwug Sii^iipop.

UtjMtkdffae^ai (Wke perequUare in Latin) signifies tfljride about fiill speed.
SeeLivy,!. 3, 61. and Herod. 1.4,7. '

> No small number.] Plutarch sa^s two thousand, and Diodorus two
thousand five hundred, besides a conuderable number wounded.

« For the iight-armed, ^c] Such is the real sense, though not the
literal version, of the oddly-phrased passase of the original.

3 Reduced state qfthingsJ] *Pwfiri is elsewhere used in the same metaphor.
Goeller here cites (as 1 had myself also done) Justin 4, 5. who sayf, in the
narration of the affairs in question, ** esse domi graviora, et forbitan infe-
liciora, bella, in quae serrare hos urbis apparatus oporteat;*' where I
conjecture yWSctoro. The tn seems to have ariseo from the tm preceding. ^

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both perceiTed themselves unsuccessAil in their attempts, and
the soldiery wearied with staying, — afflicted as they were with
disease, and that from a twofold cause, the season of the year *
being that in which men are especially liable to sickness, and
the situation where they were encamped being marshy and pea^
tilential, — and also that every other circumstance of their
afiairs seemed to them such as to warrant no hope. It was,
therefore, the opinion of Demosthenes, that ^ they ought no
longer to remain, but, as he had intended when he ventured
on the enterprise against Epipolse, that attempt having mis«
carried, he gave his vote to depart without delay, while the
sea was yet practicable to be crossed, and they could accom-
plish the expedition ^ by means, at least, of the fresh accession
of naval force. It was also, he said, more serviceable to the
state to carry the war against those who were erecting for-
tresses in the country, than against the Syracusans, whom it
was no longer easy to subdue ; nor did he think they ought to
expend large sums on a fruitless siege. Such were the senti-
ments of Demosthenes.

XL VIII. As for Nicias, though he thought their afiairs
were bad, yet he was not willing in words to expose their
weakness, nor, by a departure being determined on ^ by vote of a

4 7%e season of the year,] Namely, the month of August.

^ The opimon of jSemosthenety ^c] It may s^era strange that Niciat,
as being the commander-in-chief, should not have spoken Jirst ; but this
may be accounted for from the temper and disposition of Nicias, who
was not forward to speak himself, but wished rather to hear others offer
their sentiments first. So Aristoph. Eq. 13. where we have the following
dialogue between Nicias and Demosthenes : Nur. T/c olv yivoiT* hv (sciu
(fioTfipia) ; Xkyt <rv. Ai7fi. 2^ fikv o^ fiot Xfyc, "Iva fir) fidxtofiai, Nuc. Ma rbv
'Air6XXa> 'yut fikv ohx. *AXK' c/tI daf^ffdv, iXra K^yw <roi ^pdina,

CoM accompRih the expedition.] Such is, I conceive, the sense of the
perplexing phrase rov frrpartirfiaroc Kpartiy. Almost all commentators, in-
deed, refer rov erpaTtOfutrof to the Syracusan forces. But that would in-
volve an ellipsis of unprecedented harshness. It is better to ti»ke crpaTtvfAa
as here used for orpartla, though the signification in question may be rare.
Or, we may take rov vrpanviiaroQ to mean the armament of the Athenians.
The construction and sense will thus be as follows : l^ri^iltto lldvat — roc,
Kpariiv (scil. roiirov^ i. e. Ito^ov) rate yovv lirtX^oiKratQ vavvif ** to carrj' this
into effect, at least with the assistance of the recently-arrived ships of the
armament." .

« By departure being detentiined on by vote qfa public council.] It seems
to have been usual on debating so important a measure as a total retreat


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public council, to have their situation disclosed to the enemy ;
as by so doing they would be far less able to avoid observ-
ation, when they chose to carry the counsel into execution*
Besides*^, the afiairs of the enemy, from what he knew of
them, with better information than the rest, yet afforded some
hope that they would be in a worse condition than their own,
should they persevere in the siege |for they would wear them
out by want of money), and especially as they were, by the
ships now witli them, decidedly masters at sea. There was,
indeed, a party in Syracuse which was desirous of delivering
the city up to the Athenians, and had sent a message to him
on the subject, and would not allow him to abandon the
siege. Conscious of which ^, his mind was, in fact, held in
doubt, and he kept deliberating, though he then, avowedly in
words, said that ^^ he would not withdraw the army, for he well
knew that the Athenians would never approve * of their depart-
ing without a decree authorizing it." Besides, those, he said,
who were to sit in judgment on their conduct would not be
such as could speak from actual observation of what was done,
but from the invectives of others, nay, would be swayed by the
calumnies of some eloquent accuser.* He moreover remarked,
that many, nay, most of the soldiers who were now bawling
out ^^ things are in a perilous state," would, on arriving home,
change their note, and raise outcries that the commanders had
betrayed the interests of the country, and taken bribes to de-
part. Therefore, knowing, as he did, the Athenian temper,

and abandonment of an expedition, to desire the opinions of a general
council of officers, by whicn the responsibility of the generals was much
lessened: and to this ic was that Nicias here objected. It is clear that the
present was only a council of the commanders, namely, Nicias, Demos-
thenes, Eurymedon, Menander, and Euthydemus.

^ Beiides] Or, partly also. See I. I, 107.

3 Conscious of which.] Though, as it seems, he did not inform his col-

* The Athenians would never approve, <$c«] Mitford thus paraphrases :
** The temper of the Athenian people is well known to me; warm in ex-
pectation, and jealous of their autnority, they will highly resent a mea^
sure so disappouiting to their hopes, unauthorized by their decree."

* Those who were to sit in judgment on their conduct y ^c] Mitford well
paraphrases thus : " Our conduct, then, let it be recollected, must be sub-
mitted to the judgment, and our fate must be decided ly the vote, not of
those who have seen and who know what we know, but of those who will
be persuaded of any thing by any eloquent accuser/'

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he for his part would wish not so much to be put to death on
a base though unjust chargei as to encounter the hazard of
suffering death, if it must be so, at the hands of the enemy.^

The affairs of the Syracusans, he said, were in a worse con*
dition than theirs; for, what with the expences of paying
foreign troops, and the charges of maintaining fortresses, and
those of supporting a large navy now for a year, they were
reduced to great straits, and knew not which way to t^rn them-^
selves; for they had already expended two'^8L(we^taten!s,
and incurred a debt for a yet greater sum ; and if they should
fail ever so little of their punctuality in paying their present
forces, their affairs were ruined, being maintained rather by
auxiliary troops, who might serve or not, than (as in the case
of the Athenians) troops who must serve.

They ought, therefore, he said, to wait a while ^ and per-
severe in the siege, and not to go off beaten in funds, wherein
they are much superior.

XLIX. In saying this Nicias had chiefly relied on the
exact information he had received of the state of affairs a^t
Syracuse, of their extreme want of money, and because there
was there a party desirous to put the state into the hands of
the Athenians, and who were sending messages to him, not

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 26 of 59)