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But in this nick of time and crisis of their peril Gongylus came to them from Corinth with a single trireme. All flocking to meet him, as was natural, he told them that Gylippus would come speedily, and that other ships of war were sailing to their aid. [2] Ere yet they could put implicit faith in what Gongylus told them, there came a messenger from Gylippus bidding them come out to meet him. Then they plucked up heart and donned their arms. No sooner had Gylippus come up than he led his men in battle array against the Athenians. But when Nicias arrayed his men too over against him, Gylippus halted under arms, and sent a herald with the message that he offered the Athenians safe con- duct if they would depart from Sicily. [3]

Nicias deigned no answer to this; but some of his soldiers mocked, and asked the herald if the presence of a single Spartan cloak and staff had made the prospects of the Syracusans on a sudden so secure that they could afford to deride the Athenians, who had restored to the Lacedaemonians, out of prison and fetters, three hundred men1 far sturdier than Gylippus, and longer haired. [4] Timaeus says that the Sicilians also made no account of Gylippus, later on, indeed, because they learned to know his base greed and penuriousness; but as soon as they set eyes upon him they jeered at his cloak and his long hair. Then, however, Timaeus himself says that as soon as Gylippus showed himself, for all the world like an owl among birds, many flocked to him, with ready offers of military service. This latter statement has more truth in it than his first, for in the staff and cloak of Gylippus men beheld the symbols of the majesty of Sparta, and rallied round them. [5] Moreover, that the whole achievement of deliverance was his, is the testimony not only of Thucydides, but also of Philistus, who was a Syracusan, and an eye-witness of the events thereof.

Well, then, in the first battle the Athenians were victors and slew some few of the Syracusans, and also Gongylus the Corinthian; but on the day following, Gylippus showed what a great thing experience is. Although he had the same infantry and the same cavalry and the same localities to deal with he did not do it in the same way as before, but changed his tactics, and thereby conquered the Athenians. [6] And as they fled to their camp, he halted his Syracusans in their pursuit, and with the very stones and timbers which his enemies had brought up for their own use, he carried on the cross wall until it intersected the besiegers' wall of enclosure, so that their superior strength in the field really availed them naught.

After this the Syracusans plucked up heart and went to manning their ships, while their own horsemen and those of their allies would ride about and cut off many of their besiegers. [7] Gylippus also went out in person to the cities of Sicily and roused up and united them all into vigorous and obedient concert with him. Nicias therefore fell back again upon those views of the undertaking which he had held at the outset, and, fully aware of the reversal which it had suffered, became dejected, and wrote a dispatch2 to the Athenians urging them to send out another armament, or else to recall the one already in Sicily, begging them also in any case to relieve him of his command because of his disease.

1 The captives of Sphacteria (;Plut. Nic. 8.1), two hundred and ninety-two in number (;Thuc. 4.38.5).

2 Cf. Thuc. 7.11-15.

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  • Cross-references in notes from this page (3):
    • Thucydides, Histories, 4.38.5
    • Thucydides, Histories, 7.11
    • Plutarch, Nicias, 8.1
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