Thucydides, Comments on the Peloponnesian War

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Thucydides, Comments on The Peloponnesian War

After a hard-fought fight Syracusans took up their wrecks and dead bodies and left. The Athenians were left very discouraged and desired to go back home despite the fact that they still had more ships left than their enemy was. Nicias and Demosthenes, did their best to spur the army on to continue fighting. The Syracusans, however, managed to tow away most of their ships and burn the rest of them. This made it impossible for the Athenians to keep up with their enemy. But the generals did not lose hope. Both of them said speeches to encourage their soldiers and help them believe in the victory.

However, after another disastrous battle the army became totally distressed and tried to escape from the enemy. When Syracusans found that Athenians were gone, they accused Gylippus of intentionally letting them to escape, and hurried after them. They caught up with the troop of Demosthenes very soon and offered them to surrender. A few cities (around 6 000 men) agreed to lay down their arms in case if no one will be put to death or imprisoned.

Nicias, who with his men had already crossed the river Erineus, refused to give in, not believing that the other general had surrendered so quickly. His army escaped by night. Right before the Syracusan army caught up to them, the Nicias' men had got to the river Assinarus and crowded together trying to get some water. A number of them were killed immediately by their own spears, while others were fighting among themselves for the muddy water stained with blood. After seeing the destroyed army, Nicias surrendered himself to Gylippus, telling him to do whatever to him personally, but to stop killing his soldiers. However, they did not have a fixed agreement for the surrender, as in the case of Demosthenes, and a large number of men was enslaved or killed. Many of those enslaved ran away afterwards. The Syracusans took up their spoils and prisoners and went back home. Nicias and...