Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Thuc.].
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2.76.3 But the Plataeans fearing that even thus they might not be able to hold out against the superior numbers of the enemy, had yet another invention. They stopped working at the large building in front of the mound, and starting at either end of it inside from the old low wall, built a new one in the form of a crescent running in towards the town in order that in the event of the great wall being taken this might remain, and the enemy have to throw up a fresh mound against it, and as they advanced within might not only have their trouble over again, but also be exposed to missiles on their flanks. 2.76.4 While raising the mound the Peloponnesians also brought up engines against the city, one of which was brought up upon the mound against the great building and shook down a good piece of it, to the no small alarm of the Plataeans. Others were advanced against different parts of the wall but were lassoed and broken by the Plataeans; who also hung up great beams by long iron chains from either extremity of two poles laid on the wall and projecting over it, and drew them up at an angle whenever any point was threatened by the engine, and loosing their hold let the beam go with its chains slack, so that it fell with a run and snapped off the nose of the battering ram.

ch. 77 2.77.1

After this the Peloponnesians, finding that their engines effected nothing, and that their mound was met by the counter-work, concluded that their present means of offence were unequal to the taking of the city, and prepared for its circumvallation. 2.77.2 First, however, they determined to try the effects of fire and see whether they could not, with the help of a wind, burn the town as it was not a large one; indeed they thought of every possible expedient by which the place might be reduced without the expense of a blockade. 2.77.3 They accordingly brought faggots of brushwood and threw them from the mound, first into the space between it and the wall; and this soon becoming full from the number of hands at work, they next heaped the faggots up as far into the town as they could reach from the top, and then lighted the wood by setting fire to it with sulphur and pitch. 2.77.4 The consequence was a fire greater than any one had ever yet seen produced by human agency, though it could not of course be compared to the spontaneous conflagrations sometimes known to occur through the wind rubbing the branches of a mountain forest together. 2.77.5 And this fire was not only remarkable for its magnitude, but was also, at the end of so many perils, within an ace of proving fatal to the Plataeans; a great part of the town became entirely inaccessible, and had a wind blown upon it, in accordance with the hopes of the enemy, nothing could have saved them. 2.77.6 As it was, there is also a story of heavy rain and thunder having come on by which the fire was put out and the danger averted.

ch. 78 2.78.1

Failing in this last attempt the Peloponnesians left a portion of their forces on the spot, dismissing the rest, and built a wall of circumvallation round the town, dividing the ground among the various cities present; a ditch being made within and without the lines, from which they got their bricks. 2.78.2 All being finished by about the rising of Arcturus, they left men enough to man half the wall, the rest being manned by the Boeotians, and drawing off their army dispersed to their several cities. 2.78.3 The Plataeans had before sent off their wives and children and oldest men and the mass of the noncombatants to Athens; so that the number of the besieged left in the place comprised four hundred of their own citizens, eighty Athenians, and a hundred and ten women to bake their bread. 2.78.4 This was the sum total at the commencement of the siege, and there was no one else within the walls, bond or free. Such were the arrangements made for the blockade of Plataea.

ch. 79 2.79.1

The same summer and simultaneously with the expedition against Plataea, the Athenians marched with two thousand heavy infantry and two hundred horse against the Chalcidians in the direction of Thrace and the Bottiaeans, just as the corn was getting ripe, under the command of Xenophon, son of Euripides, with two colleagues.



Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Thuc.].
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