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 33 of 59)
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to Swinburne, the river is very deep towards the mouth,

7 The cavalfy, ^c] These bodies usually acted together in harassing the
march of a retreating army.

f* Ona MU.] This may distinctly be fixed by the excellent map of Cap-
tain Smyth.

9 Water.] This, in the fainting heat of a Sicilian autumn, was one of
the most essential necet$arie$,

10 Acraum Lfpat.] i. e. the peak of the heights. 'Axpaiov is merely an
adjective from dxpa : and Xiirae denotes a roughs bare heath. So Hesych. ex-
plains it dKp&rarovt Suidas dxporifpunf, and the Scholiast on Theocritus,
cited by Vales, on Hesych., Axpov rov 5povc* Thb sense Xiirag derives from
Xiiro», to strip bare, peel off. Hence may be seen the sense of the contro-
verted expresnon, virpa Xiirpac, in Theocrit. Idyll. 1, 40. It undoubtedly
signifies a rough rock.

The appellation may, therefore, be compared with that of the Swiss
mountain, the Schriek horn (i. e. cleft horn). Now this Acraeum L^>as,Thu-
cydides says, was difficult of access ; not inaccessAle, as Smith renaers.

1 1 Biding ahngside.] Thus gradually confining the line within narrower
and narrower limits, and consequently disordering the ranks.

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last were obliged to retreat back to the same camp, where
they had no longer an equal supply of provisions'^; for it
was impracticable to go &r from the main body, because of
the cavalry.

LXXIX. Early in the morning they decamped, and again
proceeding, forced their way to the fortified hill.' There they
found in their front, above the embattled wall, the enemy's in-
fantry, ranged many deep, for the place was narrow. And
the Athenians making a charge endeavoured to storm the wall,
but, being assailed with numerous missiles from the hill (which
was steep, and made the weapons sure of their aim), and being
unable to force the work, they again retreated and took some
rest There happened, too, to come on a storm of thunder
and rain, such as at the autumn (which was now coming on)
is usual. At this, however, the Athenians were yet more dispi-
rited, and thought that all these things were in combination
for their destruction.^ While they were resting themselves,
Gylii^us and the Syracusans send a detachment of the army
to again block them up on the r^r and on the road which
they had before come, v But they too made a counter-move-
ment of some forces, and prevented its execution. And
after, the Athenians, retreating with their whole force further
into the plain, there encamped for the night The next day
they went forward, and the Syracusans made attacks on every
side, wounding many; and when the Athenians advanced

13 An eaual ttpply of provitiom.] Smith wrongly renders : ** all further
supplies or provisions were totally cut off."

» The fortified tali,] Mitford makes them now only approach the
Acrseum Lepas, whereas they had attempted it the day before. He also
speaks of " errors of conduct having occurred in^ the opinion of Thu-
cydides." The historian has, however, given no opinion.^ •• By their slow-
ness," Mitford observes, ** the generals lost the opportunity of gaining the
Acrseum Lepas." And, indeed, it does seem that tney lost the only chance
of carrying the hill in question, by not going forward when they had
descended to the plain mentioned. But the stopping there was rather their
misfortune than their fault ; for it seems they were m great want of provi-
uonsy and water it was indispensably necessary to procure here,

« All these things were, 4rc.] Or, were ominous of their destruction. It
b here senubly remarked by Mitford, that •• as constant exertion tends to
maintain the animation which success has raised, so new and unexpected
opposition commonly enhances the depression of the unfortunate**' This
had before happened in the case of the Syracusans. See c. 6, 70.

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upon them, they retreated, but when the other party retreated^
they pressed upon them, especially falling upon the hindmost,
thus trying, by routing them in detail, to throw the whole
army into alarm.^ And for a considerable time the Athenians
held out in this sort of combat, but afler proceeding five or
six stadia, they rested in the plain ; the Syracusans, too, having
retired from them to their own camp.

LXXX. At night, it was determined by Nicias and De-
mosthenes, since the army was now in a wretched condition
for want of provisions, and many were disabled by wounds in
the numerous charges made upon them by the enemy, to draw
off tlie forces, (after kindling numerous fires,) not, indeed,
by the way they had intended to go ^ but the contrary to that
which the Syracusans were guarding, namely, towards the
sea. Now, the whole of that course for the army was not in
the direction of Catana ^, but towards the other side of Sicily,
by Camarina and Gela, and the cities there, both Grecian and
Barbarian. Having therefore lighted numerous fires, they
marched off in the night And (as it is usual for all armies,
especially very large ones, to be seized with affright and panic

^ Tku$ tiying, by, 4t?.] Smith renden, ** if at any time they put small
parties to flight, they struck a consternation into the whole army.'' Such,
nowever, is certainly not the sense ; and though the Latin translators vary,
yet no one of them ^ves the least countenance to this. It can be no other
than that above assigned. On this sense of dimte see Matthise's Greek
Grammar, § 526. and my note on Acts 27, 12., where I render (ttrufc ^^y-
oiyro, ** to try whether they could.** Indeed, some such verb is constantly
to be understood.

1 7%e way they had intended to go.] Namely, to the inland parts occuo
pied by the Sicuh ; for, by the latter part of Nicias's speech, it is plain that
such was their intention.

« Not in the direction of Catana^ This is merely mentioned to instruct the
less-informed reader what was the direction of the course they were now
going to pursue. It was not to Catana, but in the opposite direction. And
as most knew how Catana was situated in respect ot Syracuse, they would
also know what was the course the Athenians were now about to take. Yet
some antients, as Diodorus and Pausanias, and several modems, maintain
from this passa^, that their route had hitherto been in the direction
of Catana ; which is impossible, from what Thucydides has just said.
Their route, he tells us, had been in the opposite direction to the sea-coast:
but such could not take them to Catana. It majr, however, be true, that
their final detonation was Catana : and this deceived the writers in ques-

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terrors % particularly when inarching by night, and through a
hostile country, and with the enemy near at hand), they were
thrown into disorder. The division of Nicias, indeed, as it led
the way, kept more together and was far in advance ; but that
of Demosthenes, which was the half or more, was separated
from * the rest, and marched in disorder.

About daybreak, however, they arrived at the sea-coast, and
entering upon what is called the Helorine road ^ they went
along in order, that when they should be at the river Cacy-
paris, they might pass along its bank upwards, and so to the
inland country ®; for they expected that the Siculi whom they
had sent for would meet them thereabouts. When they had
arrived at the river, they found there likewise a guard of Sy-
racusans blocking up the passage by planting a palisade.
Having, however, forced the guard, they passed the river, and
again marched on to another river, the &ineus ^ ; for that
direction their guides told them to take.

LXXXI. In the meantime the Syracusans and their
allies, when it was day, and they found the Athenians had
decamped, most of them accused Gylippus ^ of having know-
ingly permitted the Athenians to depart. Losing, however,
no time in pursuing, by the course which, it was not difficult
to find, they had gone, they overtook them about dinner-time.
And as soon as they came up with those under Demosthenes,
who were the hindmost, and marching more slowly, and in

3 Pome ferrort.'] The term dtlfutra is a verv strong one, and may be
illostrated by the following passages : Dionys. Hal. 473, 24» rapaxal h4wvK>'
Tov U SuyfiATUfV ^c/ioyiMV. and 688, 8. itifiara trnvnintTO ik role Av^piO'
irlvoi^ XoyioyioTf icoi rd deia dtlfutra irpo<rftv6fUvtu Soph. EL 411. ix iiU
pueroc rov wicrkpov, Si^ient. 17, 8. BtlfuiTa Koi rapaxAe &wsKa6vttv ^jnfxik
voffovirric, Onosand. p. 92. rd d*MI4u»c Siiyfutra irpoifAtrlxrovTa rcut ^^wx^
rapdrrtiy r. a. See also Valckn. on Heroa. 4, 105, 5.

« Was separated /kom,] See my note on Luke, 28, 41. and Hemsterfaus.
on Lucian, 1. 1. 256.

A 7%^ Helorine road,] i. e. the road to Helorus.

Upwards, and to the inland coitntry,] It is plain that they never
intended to proceed along the coast to Camarina, or had abandoned that

7 The Erineus.] Or, fig-tree river. This is a mere rinilet compared with
Ae Cacyparis, and stout three miles fiirther on*

1 Accused GifUppus,] In the usual temper of democratical jealousy.

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less order, as having been thrown into confusion in the night,
they immediately charged and fought them. And the Sy racusan
horse the more closely surrounded them, as being separated
from the rest, and hemmed them up together.^ As to the
division of Nicias, it was distant in advance about five stadia ;
for Nicias led his men more rapidly on'' than Demosthenes,
conceiving that their safety consisted in not remaining, as far
as in them lay, in such a situation, or fighting, but in re-
treating as quickly as possible, ancr fighting only just as far as
they were compelled. Demosthenes, however, was involved
in more frequent, nay, continual toil, because on him, as he
marched on the rear, the enemy chiefly pressed ; and now
when he saw the Syracusans pursuing him, he did not hold
on his way, but ^ ranged his troops in order of battle ^ until,
by the delay arising from that disposition, he was surrounded
by the enemy, and himself and his forces thrown into great
disorder; for being hemmed in at a certain spot which was
encircled by a wall, and ^ had approaches at either end (with

< Hemmed them tip together.] A common expedient to create dis-

9 Nicias led hit men more rapidfy on,] From the first there seems to have
been some difference of opinion, between the Athenian eenerals, coucemuig
the manner of conducting the retreat. Nicias thou^t the safety of the
army depended, above all things, upon the rapidity of its march ; the insult
of assault should, therefore, be borne, and halts made to repel attacks, only
when they threatened very important injury. This evidently was what
Thucydides approved. But Demosthenes was more dboosed, on every
•occasion, to revenge, with the view to deter annoyance. (Mitford.)

4 Did not hold on his way, but, 4<''\ l^i^ ^^ undoubtedly, under all
circumstances, a blunder, thou^ one into which his characteristic bravery
was likely to hurry him. Yet m proportion as he was encompassed with
greater mfficulties, so should his prudence have been the greater.

It may be proper to remark, that the distance at which the divisions were
separated seems partly to have been occasioned b^ the misinformation of
Demosthenes' guides, who took him on to the river Erineus, when ho
should have turned up by the right bank of the Cocyparis. Thucydides, in-
deed, does not say so much, but we are left to infer it.

^ Ranged his troops in order of battle,] Thus changing the order of
march, by column in long, hollow parallelogram, into a regular line, with
the heavy-armed in front, the Ikht-armed and few cavalry on the flanks,
and the baggage-bearers and inemdent multitude in the rear. Now this
disposition must have consumed no little time, which gave the enemy
.leisure to bring round more troops and finally surround him.

^ A certmn spot uMdi was encircled btf a wall, and^ ^.] The sense is not
very clear, but cannot well be that assigned by Smith. Thucydides does
not .say that the olive trees were at the issues or accesses ; and it is very

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abundance of olive trees), they were assailed with missiles from
every quarter.'^ Such sort of attacks, and not close combats,
the Syracusans, with reason, employed ; for to jeopardy their
lives against desperate men ® like the Athenians, was not so
much for their^s as the enemy* s advantage; and moreov^,
each began, upon so decided a success, to feel a sort of parsi-
mony of life, lest he should be destroyed before the end of the
business ; aqd they thought that even thus, they might subdue
the enemy in this way, and take their prisoners.

LXXXII. Whereupon, after they had poured in their
missiles from every quarter on the Athenians and their allies,
throughout the day, and saw that they were now much dis-
tressed from wounds and various hardships, Gylippus and the
Syracusans and their allies first made proclamation, that who-
ever of the islanders chooses to come to them, and depart ^ with

improbable that they should, for the accesses were probably very narrow.
The olive trees, it should seem, were scattered over the whole enclosure,
and were probably the chief produce of the ground ; and the wall was
meant to defend the trees from the browsing of cattle. Now that there
were inclosures, sometimes by walls, and sometimes by deep ditches (see
1. 1, 106.), we know from various authorities. But what, it may be asked,
have the olive trees to do with the matter in question? Probably
nothing; and the circumstance only serves to mark the accurate obser\'ation
of an eye-witness, just as the insertion at St. John, 6, 10. " now there was
much gras$ in the place." But the words seem also to imply that there
was something in the situation which particularly exposed the Athenians to
missiles. Now this could not be, that the place was walled, and had
approaches at either end ; but it must have been (hat the inclosure was a
very long parallelogram, so that they were on both, nay, on all sides
within reach of the missiles.

7 From every quarter,] Literallj^, ** by those who stood around." As the
phrase P^XKup irtpurraSbv is unnoticed by the commentators, the following
illustrations may be not unacceptable : Hesych. iripiffTaB6v, vtourr&vrii,
Arrian. E. A. 5, 17, 4. r4 ^hpui inpiaralbv fioKKovrtQ. Dionys. Hal. Ant. 67,
25. 7ripi9T&uTiQ KaXXov. Herodot. 7, 225. iripuK^ovri^ vtpurradSv, which
last passage shows what the sense of trtpurra^inf properly is.

« To jeopardy their Hves against desperate men, cJJv.] A maxim of the
antients. Thus the diet 9^aXtp%»v wiiirHKitr^at toIq H atrovoiag Ava/iaxO'
fuvoig. And so Xen. Hist. 7, 5, 12. roTc <l7rov€voiy/*ivoic ovSiIq Slv tftroffralri.
Hence is illustrated Joseph, p. 540, 9. M<rac ai)T&v r^v 47rrfyvw<nv wc I^xw.

» Depart.] Not " come over,*' as the translators render ; for iiirdvai can
have no such meaning. Besides, had the persons in question come over to
the Syracusans, they would have been at once deserters, and no condmon
as to retaining their freedom would have been necessary. All that was held
out was, that if they chose to depart, they should retain th«r fr^dom, and
consequently be at liberty to return home, or where they pleased. Yet, as


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the condition of retaining his freedom, may do so. An offer which
was accepted by some few cities ^, then afterwards, a capitula-
tion was concluded for ali those under Demosthenes, the con-
ditions being, **that they should surrender their arms, but that
no one should be put to death, either by violence, or by sever-
ity of bonds, or by want of necessary sustenance." ^ Then ail
surrendered themselves, to thfe number of six thousand, and
the whole of the money in their possession they threw down,
and deposited on shields laid on their backs *, and they filled
four shields.* Then the prisoners were immediately removed to
the city. As to Nicias and those under his command, they
arrived the same day at the river Erineus, and having crossed
it, took post on some high ground.®

LXXXIIL The Syracusans having the next day overtaken
him, told him that those under Demosthenes had surrendered
themselves, and bade him do the same. He, however, dis-
trusting the intelligence, requests a safe conduct for sending a
horseman to ascertain the truth. And on his return with the
the report, that they had surrendered themselves, he sends a
message by herald to Gylippus and the Syracusans, that
<^he is willing to treat on the basi$ of this condition, that the

the words wc <r^ac are subjoined, we must regard ivupai as a verbmn
pr<sgnaru, two clauses beiug here, as often, blended into one.

4 Some few cUiet.] Not many, even in so hopeless a situation, when
all the evils, that the barbarity of antient warfare could inflict, were im-
pending, would forsake their general and their comrades ; an instance of
fidelity deserving notice the more, as the common conduct of the Athenians
woulci not seem to merit such attachment from their subjects ; and while
it does honour to Demosthenes, it certainly reflects some credit on the
government of Athens. (Mitford.)

s Nece$9ary nutenance,] Or, as the superlative is used, ** absolutely
necessary sustenance", *' the common necessaries of life."

4 Shields laid on t/teir bach,] Thus \ifrrui ^f jp signifies the back of the
hand; and bvrTta fUpti the back, as compared with Sie belly. This I men-
tion, because the force of the word seems to have been misunderstood by
the translators.

^ Fi/Ud /oiir skieids,] This, again, is a circumstance which marks the
minute observation of an eye-witness.

Arrived the same dav at the river Erineus, ^c] The following satis-
factory solution is ffiyen by Mitford of a difficulty which will readily occur
to the reader : " Nicias, having ascended some way by the course of the
Cacyparis, crossed to the Erineus, passed that stream, considerably above
the scene of Oemosthenes's (ate, and encamped on some high ground near
the farther bank."

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Athenians shall pay down whatever sum the Syracusans had
expended on the war, and that until the money shall be paid
he will deliver to them certain Athenians as hostages, one
for each talent" ^ But the Syracusans and Gylippus rejected
the proposals, and, proceeding to the attack, they stationed
their troops around, and assailed with missiles these as they had
done the other division, until thie evening. By that time the
Athenians were in a wretched condition, through want of
food and other necessaries. However®, waiting for the dead
of night, they were going to pursue their march, and were
taking up their arms, when the Syracusans perceiving iU
sounded the paean (or alarum). On which the Athenians,
finding that they were discovered, laid down their arms again^
with the exception of three hundred, who, forcing their way
through the guards, marched by night just how and whither
they could.

LXXXIV. When it was day, Nicias led the army for-
ward ; the Syracusans and their allies still pressing upon them
in the same manner, and launching darts and missiles from all
sides. And now the Athenians hastened on to the river
Assinarus ^, partly as being urged on every, side by the attacks
of the numerous horse, and tlie other multitude (of light-armed),
and thinking they should there be more at ease^ ; and partly

7 One for rack taleni.] See note od 1. 3, 70. med. Goeller states from
Oorville on Charito p. 286. that in the time of Hermocrates a talent was a
medium price for a slave of either sex. From Charito 1. 8, 28. and Herod.
]. 6, 79. he infers that the price of captives by the lump was much lower.
Indeed, upon the whole, tne price varied, as in every tning else, according
to the rank or station of the person to be redeemed.

Here Nicias (who all along, indeed, did every thing that man could do)
acted with the greatest prudence imaginable. His oners to treat on any
condition but surrender were, indeed, rejected; but had Demosthenes
occupied a post as strong as himself and made the same proposal, there
would have been a tolerable chance of its being accepted. But, indeed, the.
Syracusans had now fixed their minds on plans of vast extent, and the mm
of Athens was necessary to their accomplishment. It was not likely, there-
fore, that any such proposals would now be accepted.

« However.] i. e. notwithstanding their weakness. One cannot but
wonder at the daring and activity evinced by Nicias, hardly inferior to that
of Demosthenes himself. . i^ .

» The Assinarus.] By no means a petty river, and next to the Mneus.

• ShoM there be more at ease.] literally, « it would be easier for
them," " be better for them."

8 2

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through weariness and desire to drink. When, therefore, they
were at the bank, they rushed on, no longer observant of order,
but every one anxious himself to pass first ; while the enemy
pressing hard upon them, made the passage difficult^ For,
being compelled to march on crowded together in a mass,
they fell upon and trod each * other under foot ; and part
perished on the spot from the spears ^ and utensils ^ while
part, entangled together 7, were hurried down the stream.®
On the other side of the river (whose banks were steep)
were posted the Syracusans, who assailed with missiles from
above the wretched Athenians, most of them, greedily drink-
ing of the stream, and confusedly huddled together in the

9 Made the passage difficuU,] What added to the difficulty wa9 the
extreme steepness of the banks, and the deepness and rockiness of the
channel. ** Indeed, Sicily," to use the words of Mitford, " through the
greatest part of its extent is high land^ intersected with numerous valleys
whose sides are commonly steep, and the banks of the streams flowing
through them often craggy."

-» They fell and trod upon^ 4-c.] So iGschyl. Pers. 512. (mirrov &XXrikourir.
A similar calamity is recorded by Oiod. Sic. t. 7. 190. Bip. See also my
note on St. Luke 11, 17.

4 Perished on the spot front the spears.] The commentators have failed
to remark that vepl toIq oopartoic iuip^tipovro is for JSu^iipovro treipofitvoi,
^tpl roif SopaTtotQi asDiod. Sic. 7, 190. K'^ptet xai \6yxott 'irepiirup6fjuvoi, and
Agath. 100, 9. roTc r«v ^iXraruw (i^e<n ntpiirraiovrtQ,

<i UtensiU.] Partly, I imagine, for cooking, and partly poles, Ac for

7 Entangled together.] Such is the sense of IfixoKaeeSfuvoi, which is so
little understood by the commentators, that the following illustrations may
be not unacceptable :

Now, irdkdeeia and ififraKdeaut were Ionic and old Attic Thus iraXdema
in Hesiod Opp. 733. and Horn. 11. A. 169. and 1. 5, 55.; and lfiiraKdee<if in
Herodotus, Thucydides, and iElius Dionysius an. Eustath. In process of
time was used bv Polybius, iElian, and Plutarch ififrXdeete^oA; as Polyb.
frag. Hist II. Plutarch Symp. Q, 683. A. fud' i^v lfiir\aa96ftiya gai irapa"
fUvovra. Sometimes, however, was used kfi'xXdZte^ai (ee answering to K);
as Plutarch in Oth. 13. and Dio Cass. lOU. Also ifiVfXdJ^tedai, as £ho
Gass. 105,40. We have, too, i/iireX^i^w in Phalar. £p. 34. ifiinXao&tic
Xiov<rtv. and Stob. Ei. Ph. 2, 6ao. Hence in a passage of Democritus ap.
Stob. Ei. Ph. fi, 408. for <l/iireXa^ov9», which is a vox nihili, I conjecture
IfiiriK&i^ovn, or ifitrXd^own,

^ In all these words, irdXdeeia, Ifiirdk&eeUf k/iirXdZta, IfurtXdZv, the ruling
signification is irXiKta and ^/iirXccw. In iraXdaeut the various significations
arose thus : necto, connecto, misceo, commisceo, conspergo, inqumo (and the
tame may be said of irXdeeut, viz. necto, texo, struo, nuichmor,Jingo, conjingo).

* Hurried down the stream,] So Aristoph. Acham. 26. &^poovcaraf>pkov'
rtQ, where the Scholiast remarks that there is a metaphor dirb r&v irora/iiuty

This is elegantly imitated by Liv. 4, 33. ** alios in aquam compulaos
gurgites ferunt."

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hollow of the river. And the Peloponnesians ^ descending,
butchered them, especially those in the river, and the water
was immediately discoloured ; yet it was not the less drunk,

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 33 of 59)