After this the Syracusans and their allies
began to carry a single wall, starting from the city, in a slanting
direction up Epipolae, in order that the Athenians, unless they could hinder
the work, might be no longer able to invest them.
Meanwhile the Athenians, having now finished their wall down to the sea,
had come up to the heights; and part of their wall being weak, Gylippus drew out his army by night and
However, the Athenians who happened to be bivouacking outside took the
alarm and came out to meet him, upon seeing which he quickly led his men
back again.The Athenians now built their wall higher, and in future kept guard at this
point themselves, disposing their confederates along the remainder of the
works, at the stations assigned to them.
Nicias also determined to fortify Plemmyrium, a promontory over against the
city, which juts out and narrows the mouth of the great harbor.He thought that the fortification of this place would make it easier to
bring in supplies, as they would be able to carry on their blockade from a
less distance, near to the port occupied by the Syracusans; instead of being obliged, upon every movement of the enemy's navy, to put
out against them from the bottom of the great harbor.Besides this, he now began to pay more attention to the war by sea, seeing
that the coming of Gylippus had diminished their hopes by land.
Accordingly, he conveyed over his ships and some troops, and built three
forts in which he placed most of his baggage, and moored there for the
future the larger craft and men-of-war.
This was the first and chief occasion of the losses which the crews
experienced.The water which they used was scarce and had to be fetched from far, and
the sailors could not go out for firewood without being cut off by the
Syracusan horse, who were masters of the country; a third of the enemy's cavalry being stationed at the little town of
Olympieum, to prevent plundering incursions on the part of the Athenians at
Meanwhile Nicias learned that the rest of the Corinthian fleet was
approaching, and sent twenty ships to watch for them, with orders to be on
the look-out for them about Locris and Rhegium and the approach to Sicily.
Thucydides. The Peloponnesian War. London, J. M. Dent; New York, E. P. Dutton. 1910.
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