Accordingly they sailed away to Naxos and Catana, intending to winter.
The Syracusans, after burying their dead, called an assembly.
Hermocrates the son of Hermon, a man of first-rate ability, of distinguished bravery, and also of great military experience, came forward and encouraged them. He told them not to be disheartened at the result of the battle; for their resolution had not been defeated1
; but they had suffered from want of discipline.2
Yet they had proved less unequal than might have been expected; and they should remember that they had been contending against the most experienced soldiers of Hellas;3
they were unskilled workmen, and the Athenians masters in their craft4
Another great source of weakness had been the number of generals (there were fifteen of them); the division of authority had produced disorganisation and disorder among the troops. If they had a few experienced generals, and during the winter got their hoplites into order, providing arms for those who had none, and so raising the number of their forces to the utmost, while at the same time they insisted on strict drill and discipline, they would have a good chance of victory; for they had courage already, and only wanted steadiness in action.
Both qualities would improve together; they would learn steadiness in the school of danger, and their natural courage would be reinforced by the confidence which skill inspires.
The generals whom they elected should be few in number and should be entrusted with full power, the people taking a solemn oath to them that they would be allowed to command according to their own judgment. The secrets of the army would then be better kept, and everything would be done in a more orderly and straightforward manner.