After this address Nicias at once led on the
army.The Syracusans were not at that moment expecting an immediate engagement,
and some had even gone away to the town, which was close by; these now ran up as hard as they could, and though behind time, took their
places here or there in the main body as fast as they joined it.Want of zeal or daring was certainly not the fault of the Syracusans,
either in this or the other battles, but although not inferior in courage,
so far as their military science might carry them, when this failed them
they were compelled to give up their resolution also.On the present occasion, although they had not supposed that the Athenians
would begin the attack, and although constrained to stand upon their defence
at short notice, they at once took up their arms and advanced to meet them.
First, the stone-throwers, slingers, and archers of either army began
skirmishing, and routed or were routed by one another, as might be expected
between light troops; next, soothsayers brought forward the usual victims, and trumpeters urged
on the heavy infantry to the charge;
and thus they advanced, the Syracusans to fight for their country, and each
individual for his safety that day and liberty hereafter; in the enemy's army, the Athenians to make another's country theirs and to
save their own from suffering by their defeat; the Argives and independent allies to help them in getting what they came
for, and to earn by victory another sight of the country they had left
behind; while the subject allies owed most of their ardour to the desire of
self-preservation, which they could only hope for if victorious; next to which, as a secondary motive, came the chance of serving on easier
terms, after helping the Athenians to a fresh conquest.
Thucydides. The Peloponnesian War. London, J. M. Dent; New York, E. P. Dutton. 1910.
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