them the semblance of a foe, they fought without concert or subordination; and not unfrequently, amid the deadly chaos, Athenian troops assailed each other. Keeping their ranks close, the Syracusans and their allies prest on against the disorganized masses of the besiegers, and at length drove them, with heavy slaughter, over the cliffs, which an hour or two before they had scaled full of hope, and apparently certain of success.
This defeat was decisive of the event of the siege. The Athenians afterwards struggled only to protect themselves from the vengeance which the Syracusans sought to wreak in the complete destruction of their invaders. Never, however, was vengeance more complete and terrible. A series of sea-fights followed, in which the Athenian galleys were utterly destroyed or captured. The mariners and soldiers who escaped death in disastrous engagements, and a vain attempt to force a retreat into the interior of the island, became prisoners of war; Nicias and Demosthenes were
- Ἠν μὲν γὰρ σελήνη λαμπρὰ, ἑώρων δὲ οὕτως ἀλλήλους, ὡς ἐν σελήνῃ εἰκὸς τὴν μὲν ὄψιν τοῦ σώματος προορᾷν τὴν δὲ γνῶσιν τοῦ οἰκείου ἀπιστεῖσθαι.—Thuc. lib. vii. 44. Compare Tacitus's description of the night engagement in the civil war between Vespasian and Vitellius. "Neutro inclinaverat fortuna, donec adultâ nocte, luna ostenderet acies, falleretque."—Hist. lib. iii. sec. 23.