previous next
73. Hermocrates the Syracusan suspected their intention, and dreading what might happen if1 their vast army, retreating by land and settling somewhere in Sicily, should choose to renew the war, he went to the authorities, and represented to them that they ought not to allow the Athenians to withdraw by night (mentioning his own suspicion of their intentions), but that all the Syracusans and their allies should go out in advance, wall up the roads, and occupy the passes with a guard. [2] They thought very much as he did, and wanted to carry out his plan, but doubted whether their men, who were too glad to repose after a great battle, and in time of festival—for there happened on that very day to be a sacrifice to Heracles—could be induced to obey. Most of them, in the exultation of victory, were drinking and keeping holiday, and at such a time how could they ever be expected to take up arms and go forth at the order of the generals? On these grounds the authorities decided that the thing was impossible. [3] Whereupon Hermocrates himself, fearing lest the Athenians should gain a start and quietly pass the most difficult places in the night, contrived the following plan: when it was growing dark he sent certain of his own acquaintance, accompanied by a few horsemen, to the Athenian camp. They rode up within earshot, and pretending to be friends (there were known to be men in the city who gave information to Nicias of what went on)2 called to some of the soldiers, and bade them tell him not to withdraw his army during the night, for the Syracusans were guarding the roads; he should make preparation at leisure and retire by day. [4] Having delivered their message they departed, and those who had heard them informed the Athenian generals.

1 Hermocrates, anticipating their design, wants the Syracusans, who were keeping holiday, who intercept them, but, the magistrates declaring the thing impossible, he persuades the Athenians themselves to delay their march;

2 Cp. 7.48 med.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Notes (E.C. Marchant)
load focus Notes (Charles F. Smith)
load focus English (Thomas Hobbes, 1843)
load focus English (1910)
load focus Greek (1942)
hide References (35 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: