The Library of History

Page 227

Page 227 and most convenient, as soon as it was Day, they should go to the Enemy's Naval Camp, as if they were the Selinutian Confederates; and being receiv'd within the Wall and Fortification, should first kill Amilcar, and then set Fire to the Ships.

He gave moreover in Charge to those that were as Spies upon the next Hills, that as soon as the Horsemen were admitted into the Fortification, they should give notice of it by lifting up the Sign. And he himself at Break of Day (with his Army drawn up) waited when the Sign would be given.

The Horse being come to the Carthaginians Camp about Sun-Rising, they were admitted by the Watch for Confederates; being entered, without delay they make up with a fierce Charge to Amilcar, who was then Sacrificing, and both killed him, and fired the Ships. And presently the Sign being given by the Spies, Gelo with all his Forces in Battalia, fell into the Camp of the Carthaginians. Whereupon the Officers presently drew forth all their Forces out of the Camp to encounter the Sicilians, and with Ensigns advanc'd, fought with great obstinacy. And now the Trumpets in both Armies sounded a Charge, and in Emulation each endeavour'd to exceed the other in Noise and Clamour. In conclusion, great was the Slaughter on both sides, with little or no advantage to either; when presently the Flame mounting up from the Ships, and News brought of the Death of the General, the Grecians (now encouraged) doubled their Shouts, in certain hope, and confidence of Victory; but the Carthaginians altogether discouraged and in Despair, betook themselves to Flight. And because Gelo had commanded that no Prisoners should be taken, the Slaughter in the Pursuit was very grievous; at last no less than an Hundred and Fifty Thousand were Slain. The rest gain'd a Place by Nature Fortify'd, and this gave the first stop to the Fury of the Pursuers: But because they wanted Water (through Extremity of Thirst) they were forced to deliver up themselves to the Conqueror's Mercy.

Gelo's Name was now renown'd upon the account of so great a Victory obtain'd meerly by his own prudent Contrivance; and his Praise was advanc'd to the very Heavens, not only by the Sicilians, but by all others. For I may truly say, that we have no History of any General, that ever before him put in Execution, so prudent and remarkable a Stratagem; or ever slew more of the Barbarians in one Battel, or took so many Prisoners. And therefore some Writers account this Battel nothing inferior to the Fight by the Grecians at Patea, and equal this Project of Gelo to the Contrivances and Intreagues of Themistocles. But the highest Commendations (because they were both so remarkable and eminent) are by some attributed to this, and by others to that. For whereas both the Greeks and Sicilians before Fighting, were terrify'd with the multitude of the Barbarians, the News of Gelo's Victory, (the Sicilians first prevailing) inspired the Grecians with greater Courage. But the Fortune of the Generals on either side was much different; for it's most certain, that the Persian King with many Thousands more escaped; but not only the Generals of the Carthaginians, but even all the whole Army were so slaughtered and destroyed, that (as it is reported) not one escaped to Carthage to carry the News of the Defeat. Add moreover, that the most Noble of the Grecian Commanders, Pausanius and Themistocles, were most unworthily dealt with, even by their own Countrymen; the one for his Covetousness and Treason, was killed by his Fellow Citizens, and the other (Banished Greece) was forc'd to fly to his greatest Enemy Xerxes, and there live in Exile. Gelo, on the contrary (after his Success, advanced to more Honour by the Love and Favour of the Syracusians,) reigned till he was old, and died admired and honoured of all. And such was the Esteem and grateful Remembrance the Citizens had of him, that the entire Government was continued in his Family Three Descents. Those therefore who have thus highly merited, challenge from us likewise their due Honour and Praise. But to return where we left. The same Day that Gelo routed the Carthaginians, Leonidas at Thermopyle with his Grecians, broke into the Camp of Xerxes with more than ordinary Valour; as if the Gods on purpose had contrived and effected at one and the same moment of time, a glorious Victory in one Place, and an honourable Death of the Grecians in another.

Bibliotheca Historica

The first five books