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77. At length the Peloponnesians, finding that their engines were useless, and that the new wall1 was rising opposite to the mound, and perceiving that they could not without more formidable means of attack hope to take the city, made preparations for a blockade. [2] But first of all they resolved to try whether, the wind favouring, the place, which was but small, could not be set on fire; they were anxious not to incur the expense of a regular siege, and devised all sorts of plans in order to avoid it. [3] So they brought faggots and threw them down from the mound along the space between it and the wall, which was soon filled up when so many hands were at work; then they threw more faggots one upon another into the city as far as they could reach from the top of the mound, and casting in lighted brands with brimstone and pitch, set them all on fire. [4] A flame arose of which the like had never before been made by the hand of man; I am not speaking of fires in the mountains, when the forest has spontaneously blazed up from the action of the wind and mutual attrition. [5] There was a great conflagration, and the Plataeans, who had thus far escaped, were all but destroyed; a considerable part of the town was unapproachable, and if a wind had come on and carried the flame that way, as the enemy hoped, they could not have been saved. [6] It is said that there was also a violent storm of thunder and rain, which quenched the flames and put an end to the danger.

1 The Peloponnesians nearly succeed in setting the city on fire.

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