Syracuse-Peloponnesian War

Great article about the part of the war in Athens and the politics, and military thought at the time. This ties back to our examination of the Battle of Akragas and the end of the Tyrant era.

Thanks to Doric Webdesign :

SYRACUSE: PLEMMYRIUM (413) Peloponnesian War

The Spartan general Gylippus commanding the Syracusans had been touring the various cities of Sicily soliciting reinforcements. He returned to Syracuse with his recruits and encouraged the Syracusans to try their fortune in a sea battle. When the fleet was ready, Gylippus led out all his infantry by night with the intention of attacking the three Athenian-held forts on Plemmyrium. This was a headland which projected northward to form the southern jaw of the mouth of the Great Harbour. The Athenians had fortified it and had a mooring at its base. The citadel was on the northern promontory which formed the opposite jaw. While Gylippus was marching to the forts, the 35 Syracusan triremes stationed in the harbour were sailing up against the Athenians, while another 45 from the smaller harbour, which was on the seaside of the city, were sailing round to threaten Plemmyrium from the open sea. The Athenians manned 60 ships. They sent 25 into the Great Harbour and 35 to the harbour mouth to deal with the ‘outsiders’. Meanwhile the Athenians in Plemmyrium were distracted by the naval battle and were taken off guard by Gylippus, who attacked in the early morning and seized all three forts. The Syracusans did not fare so well at sea. The ‘outsiders’ forced the Athenians back and then entered the harbour but in an undisciplined manner. Without any order they presented an easy prey to the Athenians, who proceeded to worst both them and the hitherto successful ‘insiders’. They sank 11 Syracusan ships and lost 3 of their own. Against that, the loss of the forts was a major disaster because they were used as depots and were full of stores of every kind. In addition, they had provided protection for incoming convoys. In the opinion of Thucydides, this loss was the principal cause of the impending deterioration of the Athenian army.

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