Friday, March 1, 2019

New Article: The Great Athenian Baiting Of Syracuse

(a trireme from a panel of the Temple of Isis, Pompeii; Naples Archaeological Museum, Italy, [Public Domain] via Creative Commons)

In 415 BCE, a fleet of over 130 Athenian and allied trireme ships, accompanied by more than a hundred supply boats, reached the eastern shores of Sicily on the pretext of combating the potential threat posed by Syracuse. While most Sicilian communities on that stretch of coastline wanted nothing to do with the Athenian expedition, the cities of Naxos and Catana allowed the foreigners into their walls, albeit the latter city took some coercion. After expelling the minority pro-Syracusan party in Catana, the Athenians built their camp there, reportedly housing more than 7,000 hoplites, skirmishers and some cavalry in or around the premises.

At least one prominent member of the pro-Syracusan party managed to stay behind in Catana. The unnamed man began taking notes about the Athenian forces, such as repetitious schedules, the locations of armories and even the positioning of their sleeping quarters. After memorizing such details, the man departed from Catana and rushed to Syracuse. As the refugee was a well-known member of the downfallen pro-Syracusan party in Catana, the contacts that he had in Syracuse vouched for his loyalty, and the military leaders of the city took his words with all seriousness. Once allowed to speak, he vividly described to the Syracusans the layout of the Athenian camp, as well as their daily routine. He claimed that the camp became especially lazy at night and that the Athenian warriors would leave their weapons outside the city walls while they slept without their armor in makeshift barracks within Catana. In addition to this, the informant also swore that there was still a spirited pro-Syracuse core of the population in Catana that would betray the Athenians if given a chance.
Read about the intriguing plot twists that occurred in this confrontation between Athens and Syracuse, HERE.

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