44.And here the Athenians were mightily in disorder and perplexed, so that it hath been very hard to be informed of any side in what manner each thing passed.For if in the day time, when things are better seen, yet they that are present cannot tell how all things go, save only what every man with much ado seeth near unto himself, how then in a battle by night (the only one that happened between great armies in all this war) can a man know anything for certain?
For though the moon shined bright, yet they saw one another no otherwise than as by the moonlight was likely, so as to see a body, but not be sure whether it were a friend or not.
And the men of arms on both sides, being not a few in number, had but little ground to turn in.Of the Athenians, some were already overcome, others went on in their first way.Also a great part of the rest of the army was already part gotten up and part ascending, and knew not which way to march.For after the Athenians once turned their backs, all before them was in confusion;
and it was hard to distinguish of anything for the noise.For the Syracusians and their confederates prevailing encouraged each other and received the assailants with exceeding great shouts (for they had no other means in the night to express themselves);and the Athenians sought each other and took for enemies all before them, though friends and of the number of those that fled, and by often asking the word, there being no other means of distinction, all asking at once they both made a great deal of stir amongst themselves and revealed the word to the enemy.But they did not in like manner know the word of the Syracusians, because these, being victorious and undistracted, knew one another better;
so that when they lighted on any number of the enemy, though they themselves were more, yet the enemy escaped as knowing the watchword;but they, when they could not answer, were slain.
But that which hurt them most was the tune of the Paean, which being in both armies the same, drave them to their wits' end.For the Argives and Corcyraeans and all other of the Doric race on the Athenians' part, when they sounded the Paean, terrified the Athenians on one side;and the enemy terrified them with the like on the other side.
Wherefore at the last, falling one upon another in divers parts of the army, friends against friends, and countrymen against countrymen, they not only terrified each other, but came to handstrokes and could hardly again be parted.
As they fled before the enemy, the way of the descent from Epipolae by which they were to go back being but strait, many of them threw themselves down from the rocks, and died so.And of the rest that gat down safely into the plain, though the greatest part, and all that were of the old army by their knowledge of the country, escaped into the camp;yet of these that came last, some lost their way, and straying in the fields, when the day came on were cut off by the Syracusian horsemen that ranged the country about.
The English works of Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury. Thucydides. Thomas Hobbes. translator. London. Bohn. 1843.
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