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The Two Sides Evenly Matched

It is like the case of two boxers, eminent alike for their courage and their physical condition, engaged in a formal contest for the prize. As the match goes on, blow after blow is interchanged without intermission; but to anticipate, or keep account of every feint or every blow delivered is impossible for combatants and spectators alike. Still one may conceive a sufficiently distinct idea of the affair by taking into account the general activity of the men, the ambition actuating each side, and the amount of their experience, strength, and courage. The same may be said of these two generals. No writer could set down, and no reader would endure the wearisome and profitless task of reading, a detailed statement of the transactions of every day; why they were undertaken, and how they were carried out. For every day had its ambuscade on one side or the other, its attack, or assault. A general assertion in regard to the men, combined with the actual result of their mutual determination to conquer, will give a far better idea of the facts. It may be said then, generally, that nothing was left untried,—whether it be stratagems which could be learnt from history, or plans suggested by the necessities of the hour and the immediate circumstances of the case, or undertakings depending upon an adventurous spirit and a reckless daring. The matter, however, for several reasons, could not be brought to a decisive issue. In the first place, the forces on either side were evenly matched: and in the second place, while the camps were in the case of both equally impregnable, the space which separated the two was very small. The result of this was that skirmishes between detached parties on both sides were always going on during the day, and yet nothing decisive occurred. For though the men actually engaged in such skirmishes from time to time were cut to pieces, it did not affect the main body. They had only to wheel round to find themselves out of the reach of danger behind their own defences. Once there, they could face about and again engage the enemy.

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load focus Greek (Theodorus Büttner-Wobst after L. Dindorf, 1893)
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    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), PANORMUS
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