Nicias spoke thus decidedly because he knew exactly how matters stood in Syracuse; he1
was aware of their want of money, and of the secret existence of that party within the walls which wished well to the Athenians, and was continually sending word to him not to depart;
and the confidence in his navy, if not in his army, which now possessed him was greater than ever. But Demosthenes would not hear for an instant of persisting in the siege; if, he said, the army must remain and ought not to be removed without a vote of the assembly, then they should retire to Thapsus or Catana, whence they might overrun the whole country with their land-forces, maintaining themselves at the expense of the enemy and doing him great damage. They would thus fight their battles, not cooped up in the harbour, which gave an advantage to the enemy, but in the open sea, where their skill would be available and their charges and retreats would not be circumscribed by the narrow space which now hampered their movements whenever they had to put in or out.
In a word, he wholly disapproved of the Athenians continuing in their present position; they should with all speed break up the siege and be gone.
Eurymedon took the same side. Still Nicias resisted; there was delay and hesitation, and a suspicion that he might have some ground which they did not know for his unwillingness to yield. And so the Athenians stayed on where they were.