36.The Syracusians in the meantime, upon intelligence of their coming on, resolved to try again what they could do with their navy and with their new supply of landmen, which they had gotten together on purpose to fight with the Athenians before Demosthenes and Eurymedon should arrive.
And they furnished their navy, both otherwise and according to the advantages they had learnt in the last battle, and also made shorter the heads of their galleys, and thereby stronger, and made beaks to them of a great thickness, which they also strengthened with rafters fastened to the sides of the galleys, both within and without, of six cubits long, in such manner as the Corinthians had armed their galleys a-head to fight with those before Naupactus.
For the Syracusians made account that against the Athenian galleys not so built, but weak before, as not using so much to meet the enemy a-head as upon the side by fetching a compass, they could not but have the better, and that to fight in the great haven, many galleys in not much room was an advantage to them;for that using the direct encounter, they should break with their firm and thick beaks the hollow and infirm foreparts of the galleys of their enemies;
and that the Athenians, in that narrow room, would want means both to go about and to go through them, which was the point of art they most relied on.For as for their passing through, they would hinder it themselves as much as they could;and for fetching compass, the straitness of the place would not suffer it.
And that fighting a-head, which seemed before to be want of skill in the masters [to do otherwise], was what they would now principally make use of;for in this would be their principal advantage.For the Athenians, if overcome, would have no retiring but to the land, which was but a little way off and little in compass, near their own camp;and of the rest of the haven themselves should be masters.
And the enemy being pressed, could not choose, thronging together into a little room and all into one and the same place, but disorder one another, which was indeed the thing that in all their battles by sea did the Athenians the greatest hurt, having not, as the Syracusians had, the liberty of the whole haven to retire unto.And to go about into a place of more room, they having it in their power to set upon them from the main sea, and to retire again at pleasure, they should never be able, especially having Plemmyrium for enemy, and the haven's mouth not being large.
The English works of Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury. Thucydides. Thomas Hobbes. translator. London. Bohn. 1843.
This text was converted to electronic form by optical character recognition and has been proofread to a high level of accuracy.
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.