(7.61) 'Soldiers of Athens and of our allies, we have all the same interest in the coming struggle;71 every one of us as well as of our enemies will now have to fight for his life and for his country, and if only we can win in the impending sea-fight, every one may see his native city and his own home once more. But we must not be faint-hearted, nor behave as if we were mere novices in the art of war, who when defeated in their first battle are full of cowardly apprehensions and continually retain the impress of their disaster. You, Athenians, have had great military experience; and you, allies, are always fighting at our side. Remember the sudden turns of war; let your hope be that fortune herself may yet come over to us; and prepare to retrieve your defeat in a manner worthy of the greatness of your own army which you see before you.72
(7.62) 'We have consulted the pilots about any improvements which seemed likely to avail against the crowding of ships in the narrow harbour, as well as against the force on the enemy's decks, which in previous engagements did us so much harm, and we have adopted them as far as we had the means. Many archers and javelin-men will embark, and a great number of other troops, whom if we were going to fight in the open sea we should not employ because they increase the weight of the ships, and therefore impede our skill; but here, where we are obliged to fight a land-battle on ship-board,73 they will be useful. We have thought of all the changes which are necessary in the construction of our ships, and in order to counteract the thickness of the beams on the enemy's prows, for this did us more mischief than anything else, we have provided iron grapnels, which will prevent any ship striking us from getting off if the marines are quick and do their duty. For, as I tell you, we are positively driven to fight a land-battle on ship-board, and our best plan is neither to back water ourselves nor to allow the enemy to back water after we have once closed with him. Recollect that the shore, except so far as our land-forces extend, is in their hands.
(7.63) 'Knowing all this, you must fight to the last with all your strength, and not be driven ashore. When ship strikes ship, refuse to separate until you have swept the enemy's heavy-armed from their decks. I am speaking to the hoplites rather than to the sailors; for this is the special duty of the men on deck. We may still reckon on the superiority of our infantry. The sailors I would exhort, nay I would implore them, not to be paralysed by their disasters; for they will find the arrangements on deck improved, and the numbers of the fleet increased. Some among you have long been deemed Athenians, though they are not; and to them I say, Consider how precious is that privilege, and how worthy to be defended. You were admired in Hellas because you spoke our language and adopted our manners, and you shared equally with ourselves in the substantial advantages of our empire, while you gained even more than we by the dread which you inspired in subject-states and in your security against wrong. You alone have been free partners in that empire; you ought not to betray it now. And so, despising the Corinthians whom you have beaten again and again, and the Sicilians who never dared to withstand us when our fleet was in its prime, repel your enemies, and show that your skill even amid weakness and disaster is superior to the strength of another in the hour of his success.
(7.64) 'Let me appeal once more to you who are Athenians, and remind you that there are no more ships like these in the dockyards of the Piraeus, and that you have no more young men fit for service. In any event but victory your enemies here will instantly sail against Athens, while our countrymen at home, who are but a remnant, will be unable to defend themselves against the attacks of their former foes reinforced by the new invaders. You who are in Sicily will instantly fall into the hands of the Syracusans (and you know how you meant to deal with them), and your friends at Athens into the hands of the Lacedaemonians. In this one struggle you have to fight for yourselves and them. Stand firm therefore now, if ever, and remember one and all of you who are embarking that you are both the fleet and army of your country, and that on you hangs the whole state and the great name of Athens: for her sake if any man exceed another in skill or courage let him display them now; he will never have a better opportunity of doing good to himself and saving his country.'
(7.69) When Gylippus and the other Syracusan generals had, like Nicias, encouraged their troops, perceiving the Athenians to be manning their ships, they presently did the same. Nicias, overwhelmed by the situation, and seeing how great and how near the peril was (for the ships were on the very point of rowing out), feeling too, as men do on the eve of a great struggle, that all which he had done was nothing, and that he had not said half enough, again addressed the trierarchs, and calling each of them by his father's name, and his own name, and the name of his tribe, he entreated those who had made any reputation for themselves not to be false to it, and those whose ancestors were eminent not to tarnish their hereditary fame. He reminded them that they were the inhabitants of the freest country in the world, and how in Athens there was no interference with the daily life of any man.74 He spoke to them of their wives and children and their fathers' Gods, as men will at such a time; for then they do not care whether their common-place phrases seem to be out of date or not, but loudly reiterate the old appeals, believing that they may be of some service at the awful moment. When he thought that he had exhorted them, not enough, but as much as the scanty time allowed, he retired, and led the land-forces to the shore, extending the line as far as he could, so that they might be of the greatest use in encouraging the combatants on board ship. Demosthenes, Menander, and Euthydemus, who had gone on board the Athenian fleet to take the command, now quitted their own station, and proceeded straight to the closed mouth of the harbour, intending to force their way to the open sea where a passage was still left.