69.Nicias, having thus exhorted the army, led it presently to the charge.The Syracusians expected not to have fought at that instant;and the city being near, some of them were gone away;and some for haste came in running;and though late, yet every one, as he came, put himself in where was the greatest number.For they wanted neither willingness nor courage, either in this or any other battle, being no less valiant, so far forth as they had experience, than the Athenians;but the want of this made them, even against their wills, to abate also somewhat of their courage.Nevertheless though they thought not the Athenians would have begun the battle, and were thereby constrained to fight upon a sudden, yet they resumed their arms and came presently forward to the encounter.
And first, the casters of stones and slingers and archers of either side skirmished in the midst between the armies, mutually chasing each other, as amongst the light-armed was not unlikely.After this, the soothsayers brought forth their sacrifices according to the law of the place;and the trumpets instigated the men of arms to the battle.
And they came on to fight, the Syracusians for their country and their lives for the present, and for their liberty in the future;on the other side, the Athenians to win the country of another and make it their own and not to weaken their own by being vanquished;the Argives and other free confederates, to help the Athenians to conquer the country they came against and to return to their own with victory;and their subject confederates came also on with great courage, principally for their better safety, as desperate if they overcame not, and withal upon the by, that by helping the Athenians to subdue the country of another, their own subjection might be the easier.
The English works of Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury. Thucydides. Thomas Hobbes. translator. London. Bohn. 1843.
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