After the sea-battle had ended in the manner we have described, the Athenians,
learning that the fleet under Demosthenes would arrive within a few days, decided to run no
more risks before that force should join them, whereas the Syracusans, on the contrary, wishing
to reach a final decision before the arrival of Demosthenes and his army, kept sailing out
every day against the ships of the Athenians and continuing the fight.
And when Ariston the Corinthian pilot advised them to make the prows of
their ships shorter and lower, the Syracusans followed his advice and for that reason enjoyed
great advantage in the fighting which followed.
For the Attic
triremes were built with weaker and high prows, and for this reason it followed that, when they
rammed, they damaged only the parts of a ship that extended above the water, so that the enemy
suffered no great damage; whereas the ships of the Syracusans, built as they were with the
structure about the prow strong and low, would often, as they delivered their ramming blows,
sink with one shock the triremes of the Athenians.1
Now day after day the
Syracusans attacked the camp of the enemy both by land and by sea, but to no effect, since the
Athenians made no move; but when some of the captains of triremes, being no longer able to
endure the scorn of the Syracusans, put out against the enemy in the Great Harbour, a
sea-battle commenced in which all the triremes joined.
though the Athenians had fast-sailing triremes and enjoyed the advantage from their long
experience at sea as well as from the skill of their pilots, yet their superiority in these
respects brought them no return since the sea-battle was in a narrow area; and the Syracusans,
engaging at close quarters and giving the enemy no opportunity to turn about to ram, not only
cast spears at the soldiers on the decks, but also, by hurling stones, forced them to leave the
prows, and in many cases simply by ramming a ship that met them and then boarding the enemy
vessel they made it a land-battle on the ship's deck.
Athenians, being pressed upon from every quarter, turned to flight; and the Syracusans,
pressing in pursuit, not only sank seven triremes but made a large number unfit for use.