Abandoning almost everything else, Nicias lay there sacrificing and divining until the enemy came up against him. With their land forces they laid siege to his walls and camp, and with their fleet they took possession of the harbor round about. Not only the men of Syracuse in their triremes, but even the striplings, on board of fishing smacks and skiffs, sailed up from every side with challenges and insults for the Athenians.
To one of these, a boy of noble parentage, Heracleides by name, who had driven his boat well on before the rest, an Attic ship gave chase, and was like to capture him. But the boy's uncle, Pollichus, concerned for his safety, rowed out to his defence with the ten triremes which were under his orders, and then the other commanders, fearing in turn for the safety of Pollichus, likewise put out for the scene of action. A fierce sea fight was thus brought on, in which the Syracusans were victorious, and slew Eurymedon along with many others.
Accordingly the Athenians could no longer endure to remain there, but cried out loudly upon their generals and bade them withdraw by land; for the Syracusans, immediately after their victory, had blocked up and shut off the mouth of the harbor. But Nicias could not consent to this. He said it would be a terrible thing to abandon so many transports, and triremes almost two hundred in number.
So he embarked the best of his infantry and the most efficient of his javelineers to man a hundred and ten triremes; the rest lacked oars. Then he stationed the remainder of his army along the shore of the harbor, abandoning his main camp and the walls which connected it with the Heracleum. And so it was that the Syracusans, who had so long been unable to offer their customary sacrifice to Heracles, offered it then, priests and generals going up to the temple for this purpose while their triremes were a-manning.