At the end of August 413 BC, the Athenian army under the command of General Nicias was seriously bogged down in the Syracuse battlefield. Initially, the Athens army attacked Syracuse to cut off the state's aid to Starta, a rival that was at war with Athens.
The operation went smoothly for the first 2 months until Nicias's army suffered significant losses after the failed attacks. They lost 7 large ships and died hundreds of soldiers. But more seriously, the deadlock of two roads made the Athenian army in a dilemma.
Disaster of the Athenian army in Syracuse
Now, Nicias's army is forced to camp next to a wet swamp rife with mosquitoes and poisonous insects. The bad living environment quickly eroded the physical strength of the soldiers. Even General Nicias got sick and lay sick in bed. The bad news continued until a Spartan army arrived just in time to support the ally Syracuse.
Despite facing a trial and a humiliating defeat, General Nicias admitted it was time for the troops to withdraw. Quickly and quietly, the Athenians packed their luggage to prepare to retreat in secret before their enemies realized it.
But right on the night of August 28, 413 BC, the moon in the sky of Syracuse suddenly turned red like blood. This is essentially the total lunar eclipse phenomenon, which occurs when the Earth completely covers the light from the Sun to the Moon. However, people from the perspective of superstition in ancient times were often afraid and regarded it as ominous.
Looking up at the bloody moon, General Nicias was terrified. He frantically consulted his priests and was advised not to sail under the moon like that. Better yet, Athenians should wait another 27 days.
People in ancient times were often afraid of the Lunar Eclipse and the Eclipse, considering it an omen of impending disaster.
General Nicias immediately followed the advice of the priests. It was clearly a bad decision. First, the Syracuse people in the moonlight realized the withdrawal of the Athenians. Second, the Athens army is still stuck at the harbor in a poorly guarded state. There was a third evil when the Syracuse people with the blood moon sign considered it a bad omen for the enemy and even more encouraging. They organized a large-scale attack with 72 ships.
Working with Sparta infantry, the Syracuse army pushed most of the Athenian warships to the beach. Soldiers under Nicias died countless lives by drowning and were killed by enemy troops. An outside force sought to rescue the army stuck in the harbor but they themselves were eventually surrounded by the Syracuse-Spartan coalition.
After a few days of despair, the Athenians ignored the advice of the general and the priests. They rushed out to break the siege but failed miserably. More than 10,000 soldiers fell while General Nicias was captured alive and executed at the riverbank.
About 7000 Athen prisoners survived the siege but died out over the next few weeks. Most of them became infected during their encampment in the swamp and succumbed to forced labor in quarries in Syracuse. Only a few escaped to bring the story of Athens, where they recount the phenomenon of the Moon suddenly turned into blood color, leading to the deaths of thousands of soldiers.
With the knowledge of today's world, the total lunar eclipse has become a phenomenon within the understanding of man. However, in ancient times, this phenomenon has indirectly caused many terrible consequences stemming from human fear for it.