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eminence of toil and woe; and he deserves the regard of posterity by his character and sufferings, and still more by the melancholy firinness of his conduct. The load of accumulated disasters did not fink him into inactive despondency. Though afflicted with the stone, he moved with a rapid pace around every part of the army, and the ardour of his mind re-animating the languor of his debilitated frame, he exclaimed, with a loud and distinct voice, " Athenians and allies, there is yet rooin " for hope. Many have escaped from still greater evils;
nor ought you rafhly to accuse either fortune or “ yourselves. As to me, who in bodily strength excel
not the weakest among you, and who in the happi“ ness of private life, and the deceitful gifts of prospe“rity, had long been distinguished above the most il“ lustrious of my contemporaries, I am now confound" ed in affliction with the meanest and most worthless. “ Yet am I unconscious of deserving such a fatal re" verse of fortune. For this reason I am still animated " with confidence; calamities, unmerited by guilt, are “ difarmed of their terrors. Our numbers, our refo“ lutions, and even our misfortunes, still render us “ formidable. There is not any ariny ready to inter
cept our course; much less any capable of expelling
“ us from the first friendly territory in which we shall “ fix our camp. If we can secure, therefore, our pre• fent safety, by a prudent, speedy, and courageous
retreat, we may afterwards retrieve our lost honour, * and restore the fallen glory of Athens ; since the chief
ornament of a state consists in brave and virtuous men, “ not in empty ships and undefended walls.”
The actions of Nicias fully corresponded with his words. He neglected none of the duties of a great general. The troops were divided into two bodies. NiCIAS led the van ; DEMOSTHENES conducted the rear ; the baggage occupied the center. : In this order of march they passed the river Anapus, and having proceeded beyond it five miles, they encamped in the evening on a rising ground, after being much harassed during the latter part of the journey by the Syracufan cavalry and archers, who galled them at a distance, intercepted the stragglers, and avoided, by a feasonable retreat, to commit the security of their own fortune with the dangerous despair of the Athenians.
The next day the Athenians had a defile to pass where the Syracufans were posted in great force. In vain the Athenians attempted, on three successive days, to force the paffage. They were repelled with lofs in every new attack, which became more feeble than the preceding. In the first and most desperate, an accidental storm of thunder increased the courage of the Syracufans and the terror of the Athenians. A similar event had, in the first
engagement after the invasion of Sicily, produced an opposite effect on the contending nations. But the hopes and the fears of men change with their fortune.
They gave up at length the hopes of forcing this pafsage, and under the cover of the night they hoped to evade the enemy, and left their encampment in the fame order they had before observed. But they had not proceeded far in this nocturnal expedition, when the obscurity of the skies, the deceitful tracks of an unknown and hostile country, filled the most timid or unfortunate with imaginary terrors, and DEMOSTHENES, with above one half of his division, in this confufion, fatally mistook the road, and quitted, never more to rejoin, the rest
of the army
NICIAs with the rest of the forces reached the banks of the river Asinaros. There Gylippus and the Syra.. cusans assaulted them during the whole day with darts, arrows, and javelins. Their distress was most lamentable and incurable yet hope did not totally forsake them;
for, like men in the oppression and languor of a confuming disease, they still entertained a confused idea, that their sufferings would end, could they but reach the opposite banks of the river. The desire also of affuaging their thirst, encouraged this daring design. They rushed with frantic disorder into the rapidity of the stream; the pursuing Syracufans, who had occupied the rocky banks, destroying them with innumerable volleys of misfile weapons. In the Asinaros they had a new enemy to contend with. The depth and force of the waters triumphed over their single, and shook their implicated strength. Many were borne down the stream. At length the weight of their numbers resisted the violence of the torrent; but a new form of danger presented itself to the eyes of Nicias. His soldiers turned their fury against each other, disputing, with the point of the sword, the fordable parts of this turbid stream. This spectacle melted the firmness of his manly soul. He consented to ask quarter for the miserable remnant of his troops, who had not perished in the Assinaros, or been destroyed by the Syracufan archers and cavalry. His soldiers having laid down their arms were entitled to the pity and protection of GYLIPPUS ; who, after sending proper detachments to intercept and collect the stragglers, returned in triumph to the city with the inestimable trophies of his valour and conduct.
The generals Nicias and DEMOSTHENES were successively brought to Syracuse. GYLIPPUS would have spared their lives, not from any motives of humanity and elteem, but that his joyous return to Sparta might have been graced by their presence. But the resentment of the Syracusans, and above all the suspicious jealousy of those perfidious traitors who had maintained a secret correspondence with Nicias, which they dreaded left the accidents of his future life might discover, loudly demanded the immediate execution of the captive generals. The Athenians justly regretted the loss of DEMOSTHENES, a gallant and enterprising commander; but posterity will for ever lament the fate of Nicias, the most pious, the most virtuous, and the most unfortunate man of the age in which he lived.
The other prisoners were condemned to labour in the mines and quarries of Sicily: their whole sultenance was bread and water : day and night they languished in this dreadful captivity, during which, the diseases incident to this manner of life were rendered infectious by the stench of the dead bodies, which corrupted the purity of the
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