This we should scarcely be able to do, even
if we had plenty of ships to spare, and were freed from our present
necessity of exhausting all our strength upon the blockade.For it is already difficult to carry in supplies past Syracuse; and were we to relax our vigilance in the slightest degree it would become
The losses which our crews have suffered and still continue to suffer arise
from the following causes.Expeditions for fuel and for forage, and the distance from which water has
to be fetched, cause our sailors to be cut off by the Syracusan cavalry; the loss of our previous superiority emboldens our slaves to desert; our foreign seamen are impressed by the unexpected appearance of a navy
against us, and the strength of the enemy's resistance; such of them as were pressed into the service take the first opportunity of
departing to their respective cities; such as were originally seduced by the temptation of high pay, and expected
little fighting and large gains, leave us either by desertion to the enemy
or by availing themselves of one or other of the various facilities of
escape which the magnitude of Sicily affords them.Some even engage in trade themselves and prevail upon the captains to take
Hyccaric slaves on board in their place; thus they have ruined the efficiency of our navy.
Thucydides. The Peloponnesian War. London, J. M. Dent; New York, E. P. Dutton. 1910.
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