DURING the same winter the Athenians conceived a desire of sending another expedition to Sicily, larger than those commanded by Laches and Eurymedon.1 They hoped to conquer the island. Of its great size and numerous population, barbarian as well as Hellenic, most of them knew nothing, and they never reflected that they were entering on a struggle almost as arduous as the Peloponnesian War. The voyage in a merchant-vessel round Sicily takes up nearly eight days, and this great island is all but a part of the mainland, being divided from it by a sea not much more than two miles in width.
I will now describe the original settlement of Sicily, and enumerate the nations which it contained. Oldest of all were (1) the Cyclopes and Laestrygones, who are said to have dwelt in a district of the island; but who they were, whence they came, or whither they went, I cannot tell. We must be content with the legends of the poets, and every one must be left to form his own opinion. (2) The Sicanians appear to have succeeded these early races, although according to their own account they were still older; for they profess to have been children of the soil. But the fact proves to be that they were Iberians, and were driven from the river Sicanus in Iberia by the Ligurians. Sicily, which was originally called Trinacria, received from them the name Sicania. To this day the Sicanians inhabit the western parts of the island. (3) After the capture of Troy, some Trojans who had escaped from the Achaeans came in ships to Sicily; they settled near the Sicanians, and took the common name of Elymi but had two separate cities, Eryx and Egesta. (4) These were joined by certain Phocians, who had also fought at Troy, and were driven by a storm first to Libya and thence to Sicily. (5) The Sicels were originally inhabitants of Italy, whence they were driven by the Opici, and passed over into Sicily; according to a probable tradition they crossed upon rafts, taking advantage of the wind blowing from the land, but they may have found other ways of effecting a passage; there are Sicels still in Italy, and the country itself was so called from Italus a Sicel king. They entered Sicily with a large army, and defeating the Sicanians in battle, drove them back to the southern and western parts of the country; from them the island, formerly Sicania, took the name of Sicily. For nearly three hundred years after their arrival until the time when the Hellenes came to Sicily they occupied the most fertile districts, and they still inhabit the central and northern regions. (6) The Phoenicians at one time had settlements all round the island. They fortified headlands on the sea-coast, and settled in the small islands adjacent, for the sake of trading with the Sicels; but when the Hellenes began to find their way by sea to Sicily in greater numbers they withdrew from the larger part of the island, and forming a union established themselves in Motyè, Soloeis, and Panormus, in the neighbourhood of the Elymi, partly trusting to their alliance with them, and partly because this is the point at which the passage from Carthage to Sicily is shortest. Such were the Barbarian nations who inhabited Sicily, and these were their settlements.
7 The first Hellenic colonists sailed from Chalcis in Euboea under the leadership of Thucles, and founded Naxos; there they erected an altar in honour of Apollo the Founder, which is still standing without the city,2 and on this altar religious embassies sacrifice before they sail from Sicily. (8) In the following year Archias, one of the Heraclidae, came from Corinth and founded Syracuse, first driving the Sicels out of the island of Ortygia; in which, though it is no longer surrounded by the sea, the inner city now stands; in process of time the outer city was included within the walls and became populous. (9) In the fifth year after the foundation of Syracuse Thucles and the Chalcidians went forth from Naxos, and driving out the Sicels by force of arms, founded first Leontini, then Catana. The Catanaeans however chose a founder of their own, named Evarchus.
10 About the same time Lamis came from Megara bringing a colony to Sicily, where he occupied a place called Trotilus, upon the river Pantacyas; but he soon afterwards joined the settlement of the Chalcidians at Leontini; with them he dwelt a short time; until he was driven out; he then founded Thapsus, where he died. His followers quitted Thapsus and founded the city which is called the Hyblaean Megara; Hyblon, a Sicel king, had betrayed the place to them and guided them thither. There they remained two hundred and forty-five years, and were then driven out of their town and land by Gelo the tyrant of Syracuse; but before they were driven out, and a hundred years after their own foundation, they sent out Pamillus and founded Selinus; he had come from Megara, their own mother state, to take part in the new colony. (11) In the forty-fifth year after the foundation of Syracuse, Antiphemus of Rhodes and Entimus of Crete came with their followers and together built Gela. The city was named from the river Gela, but the spot which is now the Acropolis and was first fortified is called Lindii. The institutions of the new settlement were Dorian. Exactly a hundred and eight years after their own foundation the inhabitants of Gela founded Agrigentum (Acragas), which they named from the river Acragas; they appointed Aristonous and Pystilus founders of the place, and gave to it their own institutions. (12) Zanclè was originally colonised by pirates who came from Cymè, the Chalcidian city in Opicia; these were followed by a large body of colonists from Chalcis and the rest of Euboea, who shared in the allotment of the soil. The first settlement was led by Perieres of Cymè, the second by Crataemenes of Chalcis. Zanclè was the original name of the place, a name given by the Sicels because the site was in shape like a sickle, for which the Sicel word is zanclon. These earlier settlers were afterwards driven out by the Samians and other Ionians, who when they fled from the Persians found their way to Sicil.3 Not long afterwards Anaxilas, the tyrant of Rhegium, drove out these Samians. He then repeopled their city with a mixed multitude, and called the place Messenè after his native country.
Himera was colonised from Zanclè by Euclides, Simus, and Sacon. Most of the settlers were Chalcidian, but the so-called Myletidae, Syracusan exiles who had been defeated in a civil war, took part in the colony. Their language was a mixture of the Chalcidian and Doric dialects, but their institutions were mainly Chalcidian. (13) Acrae and Casmenae were founded by the Syracusans, Acrae seventy years after Syracuse, and Casmenae nearly twenty years after Acrae. Camarina was originally founded by the Syracusans exactly a hundred and thirty-five years after the foundation of Syracuse; the founders were Dascon and Menecolus. But the Camarinaeans revolted, and as a punishment for their revolt were violently expelled by the Syracusans. After a time Hippocrates the tyrant of Gela, receiving the territory of Camarina4 as the ransom of certain Syracusan prisoners, became the second founder of the place, which he colonised anew. The inhabitants were once more driven out by Gelo, who himself colonised the city for the third time.5
These were the nations, Hellenic or Barbarian, who inhabited Sicily, and such was the great island on which the Athenians were determined to make war. They virtuously professed that they were going to assist their own kinsmen and their newly-acquired allies,6 but the simple truth was that they aspired to the empire of Sicily. They were principally instigated by an embassy which had come from Egesta and was urgent in requesting aid. The Egestaeans had gone to war with the neighbouring city of Selinus about certain questions of marriage and about a disputed piece of land. The Selinuntians summoned the Syracusans to their assistance, and their united forces reduced the Egestaeans to great straits both by sea and land. The Egestaean envoys reminded the Athenians of the alliance which they had made with the Leontines under Laches in the former war,7 and begged them to send ships to their relief. Their chief argument was that, if the Syracusans were not punished for the expulsion of the Leontines, but were allowed to destroy the remaining allies of the Athenians, and to get the whole of Sicily into their own hands, they would one day come with a great army, Dorians assisting Dorians, who were their kinsmen, and colonists assisting their Peloponnesian founders, and would unite in overthrowing Athens herself. Such being the danger, the Athenians would be wise in combining with the allies who were still left to them in Sicily against the Syracusans, especially since the Egestaeans would themselves provide money sufficient for the war. These arguments were constantly repeated in the ears of the Athenian assembly by the Egestaeans and their partisans; at length the people passed a vote that they would at all events send envoys to ascertain on the spot whether the Egestaeans really had the money which they professed to have in their treasury and in their temples, and to report on the state of the war with Selinus. So the Athenian envoys were despatched to Sicily.
During the same winter the Lacedaemonians and their allies, all but the Corinthians, made an expedition into the Argive territory, of which they devastated a small part, and, having brought with them waggons, carried away a few loads of corn. They settled the Argive exiles at Orneae, where they left a small garrison, and having made an agreement that the inhabitants of Orneae and the Argives should not injure one another's land for a given time, returned home with the rest of their army. Soon afterwards the Athenians arrived with thirty ships and six hundred hoplites. They and the people of Argos with their whole power went out and blockaded Orneae for a day, but at night the Argive exiles within the walls got away unobserved by the besiegers, who were encamped at some distance. On the following day the Argives, perceiving what had happened, razed Orneae to the ground and returned. Soon afterwards the Athenian fleet returned likewise.
The Athenians also conveyed by sea cavalry of their own, and some Macedonian exiles who had taken refuge with them, to Methonè on the borders of Macedonia, and ravaged the territory of Perdiccas. Whereupon the Lacedaemonians sent to the Thracian Chalcidians, who were maintaining an armistice terminable at ten days' notice with the Athenians, and commanded them to assist Perdiccas, but they refused. So the winter ended, and with it the sixteenth year in the Peloponnesian War of which Thucydides wrote the history.
Early in the next spring the Athenian envoys returned from Sicily. They were accompanied by Egestaeans who brought sixty talents8 of uncoined silver, being a month's pay for sixty vessels which they hoped to obtain from Athens. The Athenians called an assembly, and when they heard both from their own and from the Egestaean envoys, amongst other inviting but untrue statements, that there was abundance of money lying ready in the temples and in the treasury of Egesta,9 they passed a vote that sixty ships should be sent to Sicily; Alcibiades the son of Cleinias, Nicias the son of Niceratus, and Lamachus the son of Xenophanes were appointed commanders with full powers. They were to assist Egesta against Selinus; if this did not demand all their military strength they were empowered to restore the Leontines, and generally to further in such manner as they deemed best the Athenian interests in Sicily. Five days afterwards another assembly was called to consider what steps should be taken for the immediate equipment of the expedition, and to vote any additional supplies which the generals might require. Nicias, who had been appointed general against his will, thought that the people had come to a wrong conclusion, and that upon slight if specious grounds they were aspiring to the conquest of Sicily, which was no easy task. So, being desirous of diverting the Athenians from their purpose, he came forward and admonished them in the following terms:
'I know that we are assembled here to discuss the preparations which are required for our expedition to Sicily, but in my judgment it is still a question whether we ought to go thither at all; we should not be hasty in determining a matter of so much importance, or allow ourselves to enter into an impolitic war at the instigation of foreigners. Yet to me personally war brings honour; and I am as careless as any man about my own life: not that I think the worse of a citizen who takes a little thought about his life or his property, for I believe that the sense of a man's own interest will quicken his interest in the prosperity of the state. But I have never in my life been induced by the love of reputation to say a single word contrary to what I thought; neither will I now: I will say simply what I believe to be best. If I told you to take care of what you have and not to throw away present advantages in order to gain an uncertain and distant good, my words would be powerless against a temper like yours. I would rather argue that this is not the time for vigorous action, and that your great aims will not be easily realised.
'I tell you that in going to Sicily you are leaving many enemies behind you, and seem to be bent on bringing new ones hither. You are perhaps relying upon the treaty recently made, which if you remain quiet may retain the name of a treaty; for to a mere name the intrigues of certain persons both here and at Lacedaemon have nearly succeeded in reducing it. But if you meet with any serious reverse, your enemies will be upon you in a moment, for the agreement was originally extracted from them by the pressure of misfortune, and the discredit of it was on their side not on ours.10 In the treaty itself there are many disputed points; and, unsatisfactory as it is, to this hour several cities, and very powerful cities too, persist in rejecting it. Some of these are at open war with us already;11 others may declare war at ten days' notice;12 and they only remain at peace because the Lacedaernonians are indisposed to move. And in all probability, if they find our power divided (and such a division is precisely what we are striving to create), they will eagerly join the Sicilians, whose alliance in the war they would long ago have given anything to obtain. These considerations should weigh with us. The state is far from the desired haven, and we should not run into danger and seek to gain a new empire before we have fully secured the old. The Chalcidians in Thrace have been rebels all these years and remain unsubdued, and there are other subjects of ours in various parts of the mainland who are uncertain in their allegiance. And we forsooth cannot lose a moment in avenging the wrongs of our allies the Egestaeans, while we still defer the punishment of our revolted subjects, whose offences are of long standing.
'And yet if we subdue the Chalcidian rebels we may retain our hold on them; but Sicily is a populous and distant country; over which, even if we are victorious, we shall hardly be able to maintain our dominion. And how foolish it is to select for attack a land which no conquest can secure, while he who fails to conquer will not be where he was before!
'I should say that the Sicilian cities are not dangerous to you, certainly not in their present condition, and they would be even so if they were to fall under the sway of the Syracusans (and this is the prospect with which the Egestaeans would fain scare you). At present individuals might cross the sea out of friendship for the Lacedaemonians; but if the states of Sicily were all united in one empire they would not be likely to make war upon another empire. For whatever chance they may have of overthrowing us if they unite with the Peloponnesians, there will be the same chance of their being overthrown themselves if the Peloponnesians and Athenians are ever united against them.13 The Hellenes in Sicily will dread us most if we never come; in a less degree if we display our strength and speedily depart; but if any disaster occur, they will despise us and be ready enough to join the enemies who are attacking us here. We all know that men have the greatest respect for that which is farthest off, and for that of which the reputation has been least tested; and this, Athenians, you may verify by your own experience. There was a time when you feared the Lacedaemonians and their allies, but now you have got the better of them, and because your first fears have not been realised you despise them, and even hope to conquer Sicily. But you ought not to be elated at the chance mishaps of your enemies; before you can be confident you should have gained the mastery over their minds.14 Remember that the Lacedaemonians are sensitive to their disgrace, and that their sole thought is how they may even yet find a way of inflicting a blow upon us which will retrieve their own character; the rather because they have laboured so earnestly and so long to win a name for valour. If we are wise we shall not trouble ourselves about the barbarous Egestaeans in Sicily; the real question is how we can make ourselves secure against the designs of an insidious oligarchy.
'We must remember also that we have only just recovered in some measure from a great plague and a great war, and are beginning to make up our losses in men and money. It is our duty to expend our new resources upon ourselves at home, and not upon begging exiles who have an interest in successful lies; who find it expedient only to contribute words, and let others fight their battles; and who, if saved, prove ungrateful; if they fail, as they very likely may, only involve their friends in a common ruin.
'I dare say there may be some young man here who is delighted at holding a command, and the more so because he is too young for his post;15 and he, regarding only his own interest, may recommend you to sail; he may be one who is much admired for his stud of horses, and wants to make something out of his command which will maintain him in his extravagance. But do not you give him the opportunity of indulging his own magnificent tastes at the expense of the state. Remember that men of this stamp impoverish themselves and defraud the public. An expedition to Sicily is a serious business, and not one which a mere youth can plan and carry into execution off-hand. The youth of whom I am speaking has summoned to his side young men like himself, whom, not without alarm, I see sitting by him in this assembly, and I appeal against them to you elder citizens. If any of you should be placed next one of his supporters, I would not have him ashamed, or afraid, of being thought a coward if he does not vote for war. Do not, like them, entertain a desperate craving for things out of your reach; you know that by prevision many successes are gained, but few or none by mere greed. On behalf of our country, now on the brink of the greatest danger which she has ever known, I entreat you to hold up your hands against them. Do not interfere with the boundaries which divide us from Sicily; I mean the Ionian gulf which parts us if we sail along the coast, the Sicilian sea if we sail through the open water; these are quite satisfactory. The Sicilians have their own country; let them manage their own concerns. And let the Egestaeans in particular be informed that, having originally gone to war with the Selinuntians on their own account, they must make peace on their own account. Let us have no more allies such as ours have too often been, whom we are expected to assist when they are in misfortune, but to whom we ourselves when in need may look in vain.
'And you, Prytanis, as you wish to be a good citizen, and believe that the welfare of the state is entrusted to you, put my proposal to the vote, and lay the question once more before the Athenians. If you hesitate, remember that in the presence of so many witnesses there can be no question of breaking the law, and that you will be the physician of the state at the critical moment. The first duty of the good magistrate is to do the very best which he can for his country, or, at least, to do her no harm which he can avoid.'
Such were the words of Nicias. Most of the Athenians who came forward to speak were in favour of war, and reluctant to rescind the vote which had been already passed, although a few took the other side. The most enthusiastic supporter of the expedition was Alcibiades the son of Cleinias; he was determined to oppose Nicias, who was always his political enemy and had just now spoken of him in disparaging terms; but the desire to command was even a stronger motive with him. He was hoping that he might be the conqueror of Sicily and Carthage; and that success would repair his private fortunes, and gain him money as well as glory. He had a great position among the citizens and was devoted to horse-racing and other pleasures which outran his means. And in the end his wild courses went far to ruin the Athenian state. For the people feared the extremes to which he carried the lawlessness of his personal habits, and the far-reaching purposes which invariably animated him in all his actions. They thought that he was aiming at a tyranny and set themselves against him. And therefore, although his talents as a military commander were unrivalled, they entrusted the administration of the war to others, because they personally objected to his private habits; and so they speedily shipwrecked the state. He now came forward and spoke as follows:
'I have a better right to command, men of Athens, than another; for as Nicias has attacked me, I must begin by praising myself; and I consider that I am worthy. Those doings of mine for which I am so much cried out against are an honour to myself and to my ancestors, and a solid advantage to my country. In consequence of the distinguished manner in which I represented the state at Olympia, the other Hellenes formed an idea of our power which even exceeded the reality, although they had previously imagined that we were exhausted by war. I sent into the lists seven chariots,--no other private man ever did the like; I was victor, and also won the second and fourth prize; and I ordered everything in a style worthy of my victory. Apart from the conventional honour paid to such successes, the energy which is shown by them creates an impression of power. At home, again, whenever I gain distinction by providing choruses or by the performance of some other public duty, although the citizens are naturally jealous of me, to strangers these acts of munificence are a new argument of our strength. There is some use in the folly of a man who at his own cost benefits not only himself, but the state. And where is the injustice, if I or any one who feels his own superiority to another refuses to be on a level with him? The unfortunate keep their misfortunes to themselves. We do not expect to be recognised by our acquaintance when we are down in the world; and on the same principle why should any one complain when treated with disdain by the more fortunate? He who would have proper respect shown to him should himself show it towards others. I know that men of this lofty spirit, and all who have been in any way illustrious, are hated while they are alive, by their equals especially, and in a lesser degree by others who have to do with them; but that they leave behind them to after-ages a reputation which leads even those who are not of their family to claim kindred with them, and that they are the glory of their country, which regards them, not as aliens or as evil-doers, but as her own children, of whose character she is proud. These are my own aspirations, and this is the reason why my private life is assailed; but let me ask you, whether in the management of public affairs any man surpasses me. Did I not, without involving you in any great danger or expense, combine the most powerful states of Peloponnesus against the Lacedaemonians, whom I compelled to stake at Mantinea all that they had upon the fortune of one day? And even to this hour, although they were victorious in the battle, they have hardly recovered courage.
'These were the achievements of my youth, and of what is supposed to be my monstrous folly; thus did I by winning words conciliate the Peloponnesian powers, and my heartiness made them believe in me and follow me. And now do not be afraid16 of me because I am young, but while I am in the flower of my days and Nicias enjoys the reputation of success, use the services of us both.
Having determined to sail, do not change your minds under the impression that Sicily is a great power. For although the Sicilian cities are populous, their inhabitants are a mixed multitude, and they readily give up old forms of government and receive new ones from without. No one really feels that he has a city of his own; and so the individual is ill provided with arms, and the country has no regular means of defence. A man looks only to what he can win from the common stock by arts of speech or by party violence; hoping, if he is overthrown, at any rate to carry off his prize and enjoy it elsewhere. They are a motley crew, who are never of one mind in counsel, and are incapable of any concert in action. Every man is for himself, and will readily come over to anyone who makes an attractive offer; the more readily if, as report says, they are in a state of internal discord. They boast of their hoplites, but, as has proved to be the case in all Hellenic states, the number of them is grossly exaggerated. Hellas has been singularly mistaken about her heavy infantry; and even in this war it was as much as she could do to collect enough of them. The obstacles then which will meet us in Sicily, judging of them from the information which I have received, are not great; indeed, I have overrated them, for there will be many barbarians who, through fear of the Syracusans, will join us in attacking them.17 And at home there is nothing which, viewed rightly, need interfere with the expedition. Our forefathers had the same enemies whom we are now told that we are leaving behind us, and the Persian besides; but their strength lay in the greatness of their navy, and by that and that alone they gained their empire. Never were the Peloponnesians more hopeless of success than at the present moment; and let them be ever so confident, they will only invade us by land, which they can equally do whether we go to Sicily or not. But on the sea they cannot hurt us, for we shall leave behind us a navy equal to theirs.
'What reason can we give to ourselves for hesitation? What excuse can we make to our allies for denying them aid? We have sworn to them, and have no right to argue that they never assisted us.18 In seeking their alliance we did not intend that they should come and help us here, but that the should harass our enemies in Sicily, and prevent them from coming hither. Like all other imperial powers, we have acquired our dominion by our readiness to assist any one, whether Barbarian or Hellene, who may have invoked our aid. If we are all to sit and do nothing, or to draw distinctions of race when our help is requested, we shall add little to our empire, and run a great risk of losing it altogether. For mankind do not await the attack of a superior power, they anticipate it. We cannot cut down an empire as we might a household; but having once gained our present position, we must, while keeping a firm hold upon some, contrive occasion against others; for if we are not rulers we shall be subjects. You cannot afford to regard inaction in the same light as others might, unless you impose a corresponding restriction on your practice. Convinced then that we shall be most likely to increase our power here if we attack our enemies there, let us sail. We shall humble the pride of the Peloponnesians when they see that, scorning the delights of repose, we have attacked Sicily. By the help of our acquisitions there, we shall probably become masters of all Hellas; at any rate we shall injure the Syracusans, and at the same time benefit ourselves and our allies. Whether we succeed and remain, or depart, in either case our navy will ensure our safety; for at sea we shall be more than a match for all Sicily. Nicias must not divert you from your purpose by preaching indolence, and by trying to set the young against the old; rather in your accustomed order, old and young taking counsel together, after the manner of your fathers who raised Athens to this height of greatness, strive to rise yet higher. Consider that youth and age have no power unless united; but that the shallower and the more exact and the middle sort of judgment, when duly attempered, are likely to be most efficient. The state, if at rest, like everything else will wear herself out by internal friction. Every pursuit which requires skill will tend to decay, whereas by conflict the city will always be gaining fresh experience and learning to defend herself, not in theory, but in practice. My opinion in short is, that a state used to activity will quickly be ruined by the change to inaction; and that they of all men enjoy the greatest security who are truest to themselves and their institutions even when they are not the best.'
Such were the words of Alcibiades. After hearing him and the Egestaeans and certain Leontine exiles who came forward and earnestly entreated assistance, reminding the Athenians of the oaths which they had sworn,19 the people were more than ever resolved upon war. Nicias, seeing that his old argument would no longer deter them, but that he might possibly change their minds if he insisted on the magnitude of the force which would be required, came forward again and spoke as follows:
'Men of Athens, as I see that you are thoroughly determined to go to war, I accept the decision, and will advise you according1y, trusting that the event will be such as we all wish. The cities which we are about to attack are, I am informed, powerful, and independent of one another; they are not inhabited by slaves, who would gladly pass out of a harder into an easier condition of life; and they are very unlikely to accept our rule in exchange for their present liberty.20 As regards numbers, although Sicily is but one island, it contains a great many Hellenic states. Not including Naxos and Catana (of which the inhabitants, as I hope, will be our allies because they are the kinsmen of the Leontines), there are seven other cities fully provided with means of warfare similar to our own, above all Selinus and Syracuse, the cities against which our expedition is particularly directed. For they have numerous hoplites, archers, and javelin-men, and they have many triremes which their large population will enable them to man; besides their private wealth, they have the treasures of the Selinuntian temples; and the Syracusans receive a tribute which has been paid them from time immemorial by certain barbarian tribes. Moreover, they have a numerous cavalry, and grow their own corn instead of importing it: in the two last respects they have a great advantage over us.
'Against such a power more is needed than an insignificant force of marines; if we mean to do justice to our design, and not to be kept within our lines by the numbers of their cavalry, we must embark a multitude of infantry. For what if the Sicilians in terror combine against us, and we make no friends except the Egestaeans who can furnish us with horsemen capable of opposing theirs? To be driven from the island or to send for reinforcements, because we were wanting in forethought at first, would be disgraceful. We must take a powerful armament with us from home, in the full knowledge that we are going to a distant land, and that the expedition will be21 of a kind very different from any which you have hitherto made among your subjects against some enemy in this part of the world, yourselves the allies of others. Here a friendly country is always near, and you can easily obtain supplies. There you will be dependent on a country22 which is entirely strange to you, and whence during the four winter months hardly even a message can be sent hither.
'I say, therefore, that we must take with us a large heavy-armed force both of Athenians and of allies, whether our own subjects or any Peloponnesians whom we can persuade23 or attract by pay24 to our service; also plenty of archers and javelin-men to act against the enemy's cavalry. Our naval superiority must be overwhelming, that we may not only be able to fight, but may have no difficulty in bringing in supplies. And there is the food carried from home, such as wheat and parched barley, which will have to be conveyed in merchant-vessels; we must also have bakers, drafted in a certain proportion from each mill, who will receive pay, but will be forced to serve, in order that, if we should be detained by a calm, the army may not want food; for it is not every city that will be able to receive so large a force as ours. We must make our preparations as complete as possible, and not be at the mercy of others; above all, we must take out with us as much money as we can; for as to the supplies of the Egestaeans which are said to be awaiting us, we had better assume that they are imaginary.
'Even supposing we leave Athens with a force of our own, not merely equal to that of the enemy, but in every way superior, except indeed as regards the number of hoplites which they can put into the field, for in that respect equality is impossible, still it will be no easy task to conquer Sicily, or indeed to preserve ourselves. You ought to consider that we are like men going to found a city in a land of strangers and enemies, who on the very day of their disembarkation must have command of the country; for if they meet with a disaster they will have no friends. And this is what I fear. We shall have much need of prudence; still more of good fortune (and who can guarantee this to mortals?). Wherefore I would trust myself and the expedition, as little as possible to accident, and would not sail until I had taken such precautions as will be likely to ensure our safety. This I conceive to be the course which is the most prudent for the whole state, and, for us who are sent upon the expedition, a condition of safety. If any one thinks otherwise, to him I resign the command.'
These were the words of Nicias. He meant either to deter the Athenians by bringing home to them the vastness of the undertaking, or to provide as far as he could for the security of the expedition if he were compelled to proceed. The result disappointed him. Far from losing their enthusiasm at the disagreeable prospect, they were more determined than ever; they approved of his advice, and were confident that every chance of danger was now removed. All alike were seized with a passionate desire to sail, the elder among them convinced that they would achieve the conquest of Sicily,--at any rate such an armament could suffer no disaster; the youth were longing to see with their own eyes the marvels of a distant land, and were confident of a safe return; the main body of the troops expected to receive present pay, and to conquer a country which would be an inexhaustible mine of pay for the future. The enthusiasm of the majority was so overwhelming that, although some disapproved, they were afraid of being thought unpatriotic if they voted on the other side, and therefore held their peace.
At last an Athenian came forward and, calling upon Nicias, said that they would have no more excuses and delays; he must speak out and say what forces the people were to vote him. He replied, with some unwillingness, that he would prefer to consider the matter at leisure with his colleagues, but that, as far as he could see at present, they ought to have at least a hundred triremes of their own; of these a certain number might be used as transports,25 and they must order more triremes from their allies. Of heavy-armed troops they would require in all, including Athenians and allies, not less than five thousand, and more if they could possibly have them; the rest of the armament must be in proportion, and should comprise archers to be procured both at home and from Crete, and slingers. These forces, and whatever else seemed to be required, the generals would make ready before they started.
Upon this the Athenians at once decreed that the generals should be empowered to act as they thought best in the interest of the state respecting the numbers of the army and the whole management of the expedition. Then the preparations began. Lists for service were made up at home and orders given to the allies. The city had newly recovered from the plague and from the constant pressure of war; a new population had grown up; there had been time for the accumulation of money during the peace; so that there was abundance of everything at command.
While they were in the midst of their preparations, the Hermae or square stone figures carved after the ancient Athenian fashion, and standing everywhere at the doorways both of temples and private houses, in one night had nearly all of them throughout the city their faces mutilated. The offenders were not known, but great rewards were publicly offered for their detection, and a decree was passed that any one, whether citizen, stranger, or slave, might without fear of punishment disclose this or any other profanation of which he was cognisant. The Athenians took the matter greatly to heart--it seemed to them ominous of the fate of the expedition; and they ascribed it to conspirators who wanted to effect a revolution and to overthrow the democracy.
Certain metics and servants gave information, not indeed about the Hermae, but about the mutilation of other statues which had shortly before been perpetrated by some young men in a drunken frolic: they also said that the mysteries were repeatedly profaned by the celebration of them in private houses, and of this impiety they accused, among others, Alcibiades. A party who were jealous of his influence over the people, which interfered with the permanent establishment of their own, thinking that if they could get rid of him they would be supreme,26 took up and exaggerated the charges against him, clamorously insisting that both the mutilation of the Hermae and the profanation of the mysteries were part of a conspiracy against the democracy, and that he was at the bottom of the whole affair. In proof they alleged the excesses of his ordinary life, which were unbecoming in the citizen of a free state.
He strove then and there to clear himself of the charges, and also offered to be tried before he sailed (for all was now ready), in order that, if he were guilty, he might be punished, and if acquitted, might retain his command. He adjured his countrymen to listen to no calumnies which might be propagated against him in his absence; and he protested that they would be wiser in not sending a man who had so serious an imputation hanging over him on a command so important. But his enemies feared that if the trial took place at once he would have the support of the army; and that the people would be lenient, and would not forget that27 he had induced the Argives and some Mantineans to join in the expedition. They therefore exerted themselves to postpone the trial. To this end they suborned fresh speakers, who proposed that he should sail now and not delay the expedition, but should return and stand his trial within a certain number of days. Their intention was that he should be recalled and tried when they had stirred up a stronger feeling against him, which they could better do in his absence. So it was decided that Alcibiades should sail.
About the middle of summer the expedition started for Sicily. Orders had been previously given to most of the allies, to the cornships, the smaller craft, and generally to the vessels in attendance on the armament, that they should muster at Corcyra, whence the whole fleet was to strike across the Ionian gulf to the promontory of Iapygia. Early in the morning of the day appointed for their departure, the Athenian forces and such of their allies as had already joined them went down to the Piraeus and began to man the ships. Almost the entire population of Athens accompanied them, citizens and strangers alike. The citizens came to take farewell, one of an acquaintance, another of a kinsman, another of a son, and as they passed along were full of hope and full of tears; hope of conquering Sicily, tears because they doubted whether they would ever see their friends again, when they thought of the long voyage on which they were going away. At the last moment of parting the danger was nearer; and terrors which had never occurred to them when they were voting the expedition now entered into their souls. Nevertheless their spirits revived at the sight of the armament in all its strength and of the abundant provision which they had made. The strangers and the rest of the multitude came out of curiosity, desiring to witness an enterprise of which the greatness exceeded belief.
No armament so magnificent or costly had ever been sent out by any single Hellenic power, though in mere number of ships and hoplites that which sailed to Epidaurus under Pericles and afterwards under Hagnon to Potidaea28 was not inferior. For that expedition consisted of a hundred Athenian and fifty Chian and Lesbian triremes, conveying four thousand hoplites all Athenian citizens, three hundred cavalry, and a multitude of allied troops. Still the voyage was short and the equipments were poor, whereas this expedition was intended to be long absent, and was thoroughly provided both for sea and, land service, wherever its presence might be required. On the fleet the greatest pains and expense had been lavished by the trierarchs and the state. The public treasury gave a drachma29 a day to each sailor, and furnished empty hulls for sixty swift-sailing vessels, and for forty transports carrying hoplites. All these were manned with the best crews which could be obtained. The trierarchs, besides the pay given by the state, added somewhat more out of their own means to the wages of the upper ranks of rowers and of the petty officers.30 The figure-heads and other fittings provided by them were of the most costly description. Every one strove to the utmost that his own ship might excel both in beauty and swiftness. The infantry had been well selected and the lists carefully made up. There was the keenest rivalry among the soldiers in the matter of arms and personal equipment. And while at home the Athenians were thus competing with one another in the performance of their several duties, to the rest of Hellas the expedition seemed to be a grand display of their power and greatness, rather than a preparation for war. If any one had reckoned up the whole expenditure, both of the state and of individual soldiers and others, including in the first not only what the city had already laid out, but what was entrusted to the generals, and in the second what either at the time or afterwards private persons spent upon their outfit, or the trierarchs upon their ships, the provision for the long voyage which every one may be supposed to have carried with him over and above his public pay, and what soldiers or traders may have taken for purposes of exchange, he would have found that altogether an immense sum amounting to many talents was withdrawn from the city. Men were quite amazed at the boldness of the scheme and the magnificence of the spectacle, which were everywhere spoken of, no less than at the great disproportion of the force when compared with that of the enemy against whom it was intended. Never had a greater expedition been sent to a foreign land; never was there an enterprise in which the hope of future success seemed to be better justified by actual power.
When the ships were manned and everything required for the voyage had been placed on board, silence was proclaimed by the sound of the trumpet, and all with one voice before setting sail offered up the customary prayers; these were recited, not in each ship separately, but by a single herald, the whole fleet accompanying him. On every deck both the officers and the marines, mingling wine in bowls, made libations from vessels of gold and silver. The multitude of citizens and other well-wishers who were looking on from the land joined in the prayer. The crews raised the paean and, when the libations were completed, put to sea. After sailing out for some distance in single file, the ships raced with one another as far as Aegina; thence they hastened onwards to Corcyra, where the allies who formed the rest of the army were assembling.
Meanwhile reports of the expedition were coming in to Syracuse from many quarters, but for a long time nobody gave credit to them. At length an assembly was held. Even then different opinions were expressed, some affirming and others denying that the expedition was coming. At last Hermocrates the son of Hermon, believing that he had certain information, came forward, and warned the Syracusans in the following words:
'I dare say that, like others, I shall not be believed when I tell you that the expedition is really coming; and I am well aware that those who are either the authors or reporters of tidings which seem incredible not only fail to convince others, but are thought fools for their pains. Yet, when the city is in danger, fear shall not stop my mouth; for I am convinced in my own mind that I have better information than anybody. The Athenians, wonder as you may, are coming against us with a great fleet and army; they profess to be assisting their Egestaean allies and to be restoring the Leontines. But the truth is that they covet Sicily, and especially our city. They think that, if they can conquer us, they will easily conquer the rest. They will soon be here, and you must consider how with your present resources you can make the most successful defence. You should not let them take you by surprise because you despise them, or neglect the whole matter because you will not believe that they are coming at all. But to him who is not of this unbelieving temper I say- And do not you be dismayed at their audacity and power. They cannot do more harm to us than we can do to them; the very greatness of their armament may be an advantage to us; it will have a good effect on the other Sicilian cities, who will be alarmed, and in their terror will be the more ready to assist us. Then, again, if in the end we overpower them, or at any rate drive them away baffled, for I have not the slightest fear of their accomplishing their purpose, we shall have achieved a noble triumph. And of this I have a good hope. Rarely have great expeditions, whether Hellenic or Barbarian, when sent far from home, met with success. They are not more numerous than the inhabitants and their neighbours, who all combine through fear; and if owing to scarcity of supplies in a foreign land they miscarry, although their ruin may be chiefly due to themselves, they confer glory on those whom they meant to overthrow. The greatness of these very Athenians was based on the utter and unexpected ruin of the Persians,31 who were always supposed to have directed their expedition against Athens. And I think that such a destiny may very likely be reserved for us.
'Let us take courage then, and put ourselves into a state of defence; let us also send envoys to the Sicels, and, while we make sure of our old allies, endeavour to gain new ones. We will despatch envoys to the rest of Sicily, and point out that the danger is common to all; we will also send to the Italian cities in the hope that they may either join us, or at any rate refuse to receive the Athenians. And I think that we should send to the Carthaginians; the idea of an Athenian attack is no novelty to them; they are always living in apprehension of it. They will probably feel that if they leave us to our fate, the trouble may reach themselves, and therefore they may be inclined in some way or other, secretly, if not openly, to assist us. If willing to help, of all existing states they are the best able; for they have abundance of gold and silver, and these make war, like other things, go smoothly. Let us also send to the Lacedaemonians and Corinthians and entreat them to come to our aid speedily, and at the same time to revive the war in Hellas. I have a plan which in my judgment is the best suited to the present emergency, although it is the last which you in your habitual indolence will readily embrace.32 Let me tell you what it is. If all the Sicilian Greeks, or at least if we and as many as will join us, taking two months' provisions, would put out to sea with all our available ships and prepare to meet the Athenians at Tarentum and the promontory of Iapygia, thereby proving to them that before they fight for Sicily they must fight for the passage of the Ionian Sea, we should strike a panic into them. They would then reflect that at Tarentum (which receives us), we, the advanced guard of Sicily, are among friends, and go forth from a friendly country, and that the sea is a large place not easy to traverse with so great an armament as theirs. They would know that after a long voyage their ships will be unable to keep in line, and coming up slowly and few at a time will be at our mercy. On the other hand, if they lighten their vessels and meet us in a compact body with the swifter part of their fleet, they may have to use oars, and then we shall attack them when they are exhausted. Or if we prefer not to fight, we can retire again to Tarentum. Having come over with slender supplies and prepared for a naval engagement, they will not know what to do on these desolate coasts. If they remain they will find themselves blockaded; if they attempt to sail onwards they will cut themselves off from the rest of their armament, and will be discouraged; for they will be far from certain whether the cities of Italy and Sicily will receive them. In my opinion the anticipation of these difficulties will hamper them to such a degree, that they will never leave Corcyra. While they are holding consultations, and sending out spies to discover our number and exact position, they will find themselves driven into winter; or in dismay at the unexpected opposition, they may very likely break up the expedition; especially if, as I am informed, the most experienced of their generals has taken the command against his will, and would gladly make any considerable demonstration on our part an excuse for retreating. I am quite sure that rumour will exaggerate our strength. The minds of men are apt to be swayed by what they hear; and they are most afraid of those who commence an attack, or who at any rate show to the aggressor betimes that he will meet with resistance; for then they reflect that the risk is equally divided. And so it will be with the Athenians. They are now attacking us because they do not believe that we shall defend ourselves, and in this opinion they are justified by our neglect to join with the Lacedaemonians in putting them down. But, if they see that they were mistaken, and that we boldly venture,33 they will be more dismayed at our unexpected resistance than at our real power. Take my advice; if possible, resolve on this bold step, but if not, adopt other measures of defence as quickly as possible. Remember each and all of you that the true contempt of an invader is shown by deeds of valour in the field, and that meanwhile the greatest service which you can render to the state is to act as if you were in the presence of danger, considering that safety depends on anxious preparation.34 The Athenians are coming; I am certain that they are already on the sea and will soon be here.'
Thus spoke Hermocrates. Great was the contention which his words aroused among the Syracusan people, some asserting that the Athenians would never come, and that he was not speaking truth, others asking, 'And if they should come, what harm could they do to us nearly so great as we could do to them?' while others were quite contemptuous, and made a jest of the whole matter. A few only believed Hermocrates and realised the danger. At last Athenagoras, the popular leader, who had at that time the greatest influence with the multitude, came forward and spoke as follows:
'He is either a coward or a traitor who would not rejoice to hear that the Athenians are so mad as to come hither and deliver themselves into our hands. The audacity of the people who are spreading these alarms does not surprise me, but I do wonder at their folly if they cannot see that their motives are transparent. Having private reasons for being afraid, they want to strike terror into the whole city that they may hide themselves35 under the shadow of the common fear. And now, what is the meaning of these rumours? They do not grow of themselves; they have been got up by persons who are the troublers of our state. And you, if you are wise, will not measure probabilities by their reports, but by what we may assume to be the intentions of shrewd and experienced men such as I conceive the Athenians to be. They are not likely to leave behind them a power such as Peloponnesus. The war which they have already on their hands is far from settled, and will they go out of their way to bring upon themselves another as great? In my opinion they are only too glad that we are not attacking them, considering the number and power of our states.
'Even if the rumour of their coming should turn out to be true, I am sure that Sicily is more fit than Peloponnesus to maintain a great war. The whole island is better supplied in every way, and our own city is herself far more than a match for the army which is said to be threatening us; aye, and for another as great. I know that they will not bring cavalry with them, and will find none here, except the few horsemen which they may procure from Egesta. They cannot provide a force of hoplites equal to ours,36 for they have to cross the sea; and to come all this distance, if only with ships and with no troops or lading, would be work enough.37 I know too that an armament which is directed against so great a city as ours will require immense supplies.38 Nay, I venture to assert that if they came hither, having at their command another city close upon our border as large as Syracuse, and could there settle and carry on war against us from thence, they would still be destroyed to a man; how much more when the whole country will be their enemy (for Sicily will unite), and when they must pitch their camp the moment they are out of their ships, and will have nothing but their wretched huts and meagre supplies, being prevented by our cavalry from advancing far beyond their lines? Indeed I hardly think that they will effect a landing at all. So far superior, in my judgment, are our forces to theirs.
'The Athenians, I repeat, know all that I am telling you, and do not mean to throw away what they have got: I am pretty sure of that. But some of our people are fabricating reports which neither are, nor are ever likely to be, true. I know, and have always known, that by words like these, and yet more mischievous, if not by acts, they want to intimidate you, the Syracusan people, and make themselves chiefs of the state. And I am afraid that if they persevere they will succeed at last, and that we shall be delivered into their hands before we have had the sense to take precautions or to detect and punish them. This is the reason why our city is always in a state of unrest and disorganisation, fighting against herself quite as much as against foreign enemies, and from time to time subjected to tyrants and to narrow and wicked oligarchies. If the people will only support me I shall endeavour to prevent any such misfortunes happening in our day. With you I shall use persuasion, but to these conspirators I shall apply force; and I shall not wait until they are detected in the act (for who can catch them?), but I shall punish their intentions and the mischief which they would do if they could. For the thoughts of our enemies must be punished before they have ripened into deeds. If a man does not strike first, he will be the first struck. As to the rest of the oligarchical party, I must expose them and have an eye on their designs; I must also instruct them; that, I think, will be the way by which I can best deter them from their evil courses. Come now, young men, and answer me a question which I have often asked myself. "What can you want?" To hold office already? But the law forbids. And the law was not intended to slight you had you been capable; it was passed because you were incapable. And so you would rather not be on an equality with the many? But when there is no real difference between men, why should there be a privileged class?
'I shall be told that democracy is neither a wise nor a just thing, and that those who have the money are most likely to govern well. To which I answer, first of all, that the people is the name of the whole, the oligarchy of a part; secondly, that the rich are the best guardians of the public purse, the wise the best counsellors, and the many, when they have heard a matter discussed, the best judges;39 and that each and all of these classes have in a democracy equal privileges. Whereas an oligarchy, while giving the people the full share of danger, not merely takes too much of the good things, but absolutely monopolises them. And this is what the powerful among you and the young would like to have, and what in a great city they will never obtain.
'O most senseless of men, for such you are indeed if you do not see the mischief of your own schemes; never in all my experience have I known such blindness among Hellenes, or such wickedness if you have your eyes open to what you are doing. Yet even now learn if you are stupid, repent if you are guilty; and let your aim be the welfare of the whole country. Remember that the good among you will have an equal or larger share in the government of it than the people;40 while if you want more you will most likely lose all. Away with these reports; we know all about them, and are determined to suppress them. Let the Athenians come, and Syracuse will repel her enemies in a manner worthy of herself; we have generals who will look to the matter. But if, as I believe, none of your tales are true, the state is not going to be deceived, and will not in a moment of panic admit you to power, or impose upon her own neck the yoke of slavery. She will take the matter into her own hands, and when she gives judgment will reckon words to be equally criminal with actions. She will not be talked out of her liberty by you, but will do her utmost to preserve it; she will be on her guard, and will put you down with a strong hand.'
Thus spoke Athenagoras. Whereupon one of the generals rose, and suffering no one else to come forward, closed the discussion himself in the following words:
'There is little wisdom in exchanging abuse or in sitting by and listening to it; let us rather, in view of the reported danger, see how the whole city and every man in it may take measures for resisting the invaders worthily. Why should not the city be richly furnished with arms, horses, and all the pride and pomp of war; where is the harm even if they should not be wanted? We, who are generals, will take in hand all these matters and examine into them ourselves; and we will send messengers to the neighbouring cities in order to obtain information, and for any other purpose which may be necessary. Some precautions we have taken already, and whatever comes to our notice we will communicate to you.' When the general had thus spoken, the assembly dispersed.
The Athenians and their allies were by this time gathered at Corcyra. There the generals began by holding a final review of the ships, and disposed them in the order in which they were to anchor at their stations. The fleet was divided into three squadrons, and one of them assigned by lot to each of the three generals, in order to avoid any difficulties which might occur, if they sailed together, in finding water, anchorage, and provisions where they touched; they also thought that the presence of a general with each division would promote good order and discipline throughout the fleet. They then sent before them to Italy and Sicily three ships, which had orders to find out what cities in those regions would receive them, and to meet them again on their way, that they might know before they put in.
At length the great armament proceeded to cross from Corcyra to Sicily. It consisted of a hundred and thirty-four triremes in all, besides two Rhodian vessels of fifty oars. Of these a hundred were Athenian; sixty being swift vessels, and the remaining forty transports: the rest of the fleet was furnished by the Chians and other allies. The hoplites numbered in all five thousand one hundred, of whom fifteen hundred were Athenians taken from the roll, and seven hundred who served as marines were of the fourth and lowest class of Athenian citizens. The remainder of the hoplites were furnished by the allies, mostly by the subject states; but five hundred came from Argos, besides two hundred and fifty Mantinean and other mercenaries. The archers were in all four hundred and eighty, of whom eighty were Cretans. There were seven hundred Rhodian slingers, a hundred and twenty light-armed Megarians who were exiles;41 and one horse transport which conveyed thirty horsemen and horses.
Such were the forces with which the first expedition crossed the sea. For the transport of provisions thirty merchant-ships, which also conveyed bakers, masons, carpenters, and tools such as are required in sieges, were included in the armament. It was likewise attended by a hundred small vessels; these, as well as the merchant-vessels, were pressed into the service. Other merchant-vessels and lesser craft in great numbers followed of their own accord for purposes of trade. The whole fleet now struck across the Ionian sea from Corcyra. They arrived at the promontory of Iapygia and at Tarentum, each ship taking its own course, and passed along the coast of Italy. The Italian cities did not admit them within their walls, or open a market to them, but allowed them water and anchorage; Tarentum and Locri refused even these. At length they reached Rhegium, the extreme point of Italy, where the fleet reunited. As they were not received within the walls they encamped outside the city at the temple of Artemis; there they were provided by the inhabitants with a market, and drawing up their ships on shore they took a rest. They held a conference with the Rhegians, and pressed them, being Chalcidians themselves, to aid their Chalcidian kinsmen the Leontines. But the Rhegians replied that they would be neutral, and would only act in accordance with the decision of all the Italian Greeks. The Athenian commanders now began to consider how they could best commence operations in Sicily. Meanwhile they were expecting the ships which had gone on and were to meet them from Egesta; for they wanted to know whether the Egestaeans really had the money of which the messengers had brought information to Athens.
From many quarters the news began to reach the Syracusans that the Athenian fleet was at Rhegium, and the report was confirmed by their spies. They now no longer doubted, but fell to work heart and soul. To some of the Sicel towns they sent troops, to others envoys; they also garrisoned the forts in the territory of Syracuse, and within the city itself inspected the horses and arms, and saw that they were in good condition. In short, they made every preparation, as for a war which was rapidly approaching, and almost at their gates.
The three ships which had gone forward to Egesta now returned to the Athenians at Rhegium; they reported that of the money which had been promised thirty talents42 only were forthcoming and no more. The spirits of the generals fell at once on receiving this their first discouragement. They were also disappointed at the unfavourable answer of the Rhegians, whom they had asked first, and who might naturally have been expected to join them because they were kinsmen of the Leontines, and had always hitherto been in the Athenian interest. Nicias had expected that the Egestaeans would fail them;43 to the two others their behaviour appeared even more incomprehensible than the defection of the Rhegians. The fact was that when the original envoys came from Athens to inspect the treasure, the Egestaeans had practised a trick upon them. They brought them to the temple of Aphrodite at Eryx, and showed them the offerings deposited there, consisting of bowls, flagons, censers, and a good deal of other plate. Most of the vessels were only of silver, and therefore they made a show quite out of proportion to their value. They also gave private entertainments to the crews of the triremes: on each of these occasions they produced, as their own, drinking-vessels of gold and silver not only collected in Egesta itself, but borrowed from the neighbouring towns, Phoenician as well as Hellenic. All of them exhibiting much the same vessels and making everywhere a great display, the sailors were amazed, and on their arrival at Athens told every one what heaps of wealth they had seen. When the news spread that the Egestaeans had not got the money, great was the unpopularity incurred throughout the army by these men, who having been first imposed upon themselves had been instrumental in imposing upon others.
The generals now held a council of war. Nicias was of opinion that they should sail with the whole fleet against Selinus, which was their main errand: if the Egestaeans provided pay for all their forces, they would shape their course accordingly; if not, they would demand maintenance for sixty ships, the number which the Egestaeans had requested,44 and remain on the spot until they had brought the Selinuntians to terms either by force or by negotiation. They would then pass along the coast before the eyes of the other cities and display the visible power of Athens, while they proved at the same time her zeal in the cause of her friends and allies; after this they would return home, unless a speedy way of relieving the Leontines or obtaining support from some of the other cities should unexpectedly present itself. But they should not throw away their own resources and imperil the safety of Athens.
Alcibiades urged that it would be a disgrace to have gone forth with so great an armament and to return without achieving anything. They should send envoys to every city of Sicily, with the exception of Selinus and Syracuse; they should also negotiate with the Sicels, making friends of the independent tribes, and persuading the rest to revolt from the Syracusans. They would thus obtain supplies and reinforcements. They should first appeal to the Messenians, whose city being on the highway of traffic was the key of Sicily, and possessed a harbour from which the Athenian forces could most conveniently watch the enemy. Finally, when they had brought the cities over to them and knew who would be on their side in the war, they should attack Selinus and Syracuse, unless the Selinuntians would come to terms with the Egestaeans, and the Syracusans would permit the restoration of the Leontines.
Lamachus was of opinion that they ought to sail direct to Syracuse, and fight as soon as possible under the walls of the city, while the inhabitants were unprepared and the consternation was at its height. He argued that all armies are most terrible at first; if the appearance of them is long delayed the spirits of men revive, and, when they actually come, the sight of them only awakens contempt.45 If the Athenians could strike suddenly, while their opponents were still in fear and suspense, that would be the best chance of victory. Not only the sight of the armament which would never seem so numerous again, but the near approach of suffering, and above all the immediate peril of battle, would create a panic among the enemy. Many of the Syracusans would probably be cut off in the country, not believing in the approach of an invader; and while the villagers were trying to convey their property into the city, their own army, which would be encamped close under the walls, would be masters of the field and could have no lack of provisions. In the end, the other Sicilian Greeks, instead of joining the Syracusan alliance, would come over to them, and would no longer hesitate and look about them to see which side would conquer. He was also of opinion that they should make Megara their naval station, the fleet returning thither from Syracuse and anchoring in the harbour.46 The place was deserted, and was not far distant from Syracuse either by land or by sea.
Lamachus having thus spoken nevertheless gave his own voice for the proposal of Alcibiades. Whereupon Alcibiades sailed across in his admiral's ship to Messenè and proposed an alliance to the inhabitants. He failed to convince them, for they refused to receive the Athenians into the city, although they offered to open a market for them outside the walls. So he sailed back to Rhegium. The generals at once manned sixty ships, selecting the crews indifferently out of the entire fleet, and taking the necessary provisions coasted along to Naxos; they left the rest of the armament and one of themselves at Rhegium. The Naxians received them into their city, and they sailed on to Catana; but the Catanaeans, having a Syracusan party within their walls, denied admission to them; so they moved to the river Terias and there encamped. On the following day they went on to Syracuse in long file with all their ships, except ten, which they had sent forward to sail into the Great Harbour and see whether there was any fleet launched. On their approaching the city a herald was to proclaim from the decks that the Athenians had come to restore their allies and kinsmen the Leontines to their homes, and that therefore any Leontines who were in Syracuse should regard the Athenians as their friends and benefactors, and join them without fear. When the proclamation had been made, and the fleet had taken a survey of the city, and harbours, and of the ground which was to be the scene of operations, they sailed back to Catana.
The Catanaeans now held an assembly and, although they still refused to receive the army, they told the generals to come in and say what they had to say. While Alcibiades was speaking and the people of the city had their attention occupied with the assembly, the soldiers broke down unobserved a postern gate which had been badly walled up, and finding their way into the town began to walk about in the market-place. Those of the Catanaeans who were in the Syracusan interest, when they saw that the enemy had entered, took alarm and stole away. They were not numerous, and the other Catanaeans voted the alliance with the Athenians, and told them to bring up the rest of their armament from Rhegium. The Athenians then sailed back to Rhegium, and with their entire force moved to Catana, where on their arrival they began to establish their camp.
But meanwhile news came from Camarina that if they would go thither the Camarinaeans would join them. They also heard that the Syracusans were manning a navy. So they sailed with their whole force first to Syracuse, but they found that there was no fleet in preparation; they then passed on to Camarina, and putting in to the open beach they sent a herald to the city. The citizens would not receive them, declaring that their oath47 bound them not to receive the Athenians if they came with more than one ship, unless they themselves sent for a greater number. So they sailed away without effecting their purpose. They then disembarked on a part of the Syracusan territory, which they ravaged. But a few Syracusan horse coming up killed some of their light-armed troops who were straggling. They then returned to Catana.
There they found that the vessel Salaminia had come from Athens to fetch Alcibiades, who had been put upon his trial by the state and was ordered home to defend himself. With him were summoned certain of the soldiers, who were accused at the same time, some of profaning the mysteries, others of mutilation of the Hermae. For after the departure of the expedition the Athenians prosecuted both enquiries as keenly as ever. They did not investigate the character of the informers, but in their suspicious mood listened to all manner of statements, and seized and imprisoned some of the most respectable citizens on the evidence of wretches; they thought it better to sift the matter and discover the truth; and they would not allow even a man of good character, against whom an accusation was brought, to escape without a thorough investigation, merely because the informer was a rogue. For the people, who had heard by tradition that the tyranny of Pisistratus and his sons ended in great oppression, and knew moreover that their power was overthrown, not by Harmodius or any efforts of their own, but by the Lacedaemonians,48 were in a state of incessant fear and suspicion.
Now the attempt of Aristogiton and Harmodius arose out of a love affair, which I will narrate at length; and the narrative will show that the Athenians themselves give quite an inaccurate account of their own tyrants, and of the incident in question, and know no more than other Hellenes.49 Pisistratus died at an advanced age in possession of the tyranny, and then, not, as is the common opinion, Hipparchus, but Hippias (who was the eldest of his sons) succeeded to his power. Harmodius was in the flower of youth, and Aristogiton, a citizen of the middle class, became his lover. Hipparchus made an attempt to gain the affections of Harmodius, but he would not listen to him, and told Aristogiton. The latter was naturally tormented at the idea, and fearing that Hipparchus who was powerful would resort to violence, at once formed such a plot as a man in his station might for the overthrow of the tyranny. Meanwhile Hipparchus made another attempt; he had no better success, and thereupon he determined, not indeed to take any violent step, but to insult Harmodius in some secret place,50 so that his motive could not be suspected. To use violence would have been at variance with the general character of his rule, which was not unpopular or oppressive to the many; in fact no tyrants ever displayed greater merit or capacity than these. Although the tax on the produce of the soil which they exacted amounted only to five per cent, they improved and adorned the city, and carried on successful wars; they were also in the habit of sacrificing in the temples. The city meanwhile was permitted to retain her ancient laws; but the family of Pisistratus took care that one of their own number should always be in office. Among others who thus held the annual archonship at Athens was Pisistratus, a son of the tyrant Hippias. He was named after his grandfather Pisistratus, and during his term of office he dedicated the altar of the Twelve Gods in the Agora, and another altar in the temple of the Pythian Apollo. The Athenian people afterwards added to one side of the altar in the Agora and so concealed the inscription upon it; but the other inscription on the altar of the Pythian Apollo may still be seen, although the letters are nearly effaced. It runs as follows:
'Pisistratus the son of Hippias dedicated this memorial of his archonship in the sacred precinct of the Pythian Apollo.'
That Hippias was the eldest son of Pisistratus and succeeded to his power I can positively affirm from special information which has been transmitted to me. But there is other evidence. Of the legitimate sons of Pisistratus he alone had children; this is indicated by the altar just mentioned, and by the column which the Athenians set up in the Acropolis to commemorate the oppression of the tyrants. For on that column no son of Thessalus or of Hipparchus is named, but five of Hippias who were born to him of Myrrhinè the daughter of Callias the son of Hyperechides; now there is a presumption that the son who married first would be the eldest. Moreover, his name is inscribed on the same column51 immediately after his father's; this again is a presumption that he was his eldest son and succeeded him. I think too that Hippias would have found a difficulty in seizing the tyranny if Hipparchus had been tyrant at the time of his death and he had tried to step into his place. As it was, owing to the habitual dread which he had inspired in the citizens, and the strict discipline which he maintained among his body-guard, he held the government with the most perfect security and without the least difficulty. Nor did he behave at all like a younger brother, who would not have known what to do because he had not been regularly used to command.52 Yet Hipparchus by reason of his violent end became famous, and obtained in after ages the reputation of having been the tyrant.
When Hipparchus found his advances repelled by Harmodius he carried out his intention of insulting him. There was a young sister of his whom Hipparchus and his friends first invited to come and carry a sacred basket in a procession, and then rejected her, declaring that she had never been invited by them at all because she was unworthy. At this Harmodius was very angry, and Aristogiton, for his sake, more angry still. They and the other conspirators had already laid their preparations, but were waiting for the festival of the great Panathenaea, when the citizens who took part in the procession assembled in arms; for to do so on any other day would have aroused suspicion. Harmodius and Aristogiton were to begin the attack, and the rest were immediately to join in, and engage with the guards. The plot had been communicated to a few only, the better to avoid detection; but they hoped that, however few struck the blow, the crowd who would be armed, although not in the secret, would at once rise and assist in the recovery of their own liberties.
The day of the festival arrived, and Hippias went out of the city to the place called the Ceramicus, where he was occupied with his guards in marshalling the procession. Harmodius and Aristogiton, who were ready with their daggers, stepped forward to do the deed. But seeing one of the conspirators in familiar conversation with Hippias, who was readily accessible to all, they took alarm, and imagined that they had been betrayed and were on the point of being seized. Whereupon they determined to take their revenge first on the man who had outraged them and was the cause of their desperate attempt. So they rushed, just as they were, within the gates. They found Hipparchus near the Leocorium, as it was called, and then and there falling upon him with all the blind fury, one of an injured lover, the other of a man smarting under an insult, they smote and slew him. The crowd ran together, and so Aristogiton for the present escaped the guards; but he was afterwards taken and not very gently handled. Harmodius perished on the spot.
The news was carried to Hippias at the Ceramicus; he went at once, not to the place, but to the armed men who were to march in the procession and, being at a distance, were as yet ignorant of what had happened. Betraying nothing in his looks of the calamity which had befallen him, he bade them leave their arms and go to a certain spot which he pointed out. They, supposing that he had something to say to them, obeyed, and then bidding his guards seize the arms, he at once selected those whom he thought guilty, and all who were found carrying daggers; for the custom was to march in the procession with spear and shield only.
Such was the conspiracy of Harmodius and Aristogiton, which began in the resentment of a lover; the reckless attempt which followed arose out of a sudden fright. To the people at large the tyranny simply became more oppressive, and Hippias, after his brother's death living in great fear, slew many of the citizens; he also began to look abroad in hope of securing an asylum should a revolution occur. Himself an Athenian, he married his daughter Archedicè to a Lampsacene, Aeantides, son of Hippoclus the tyrant of Lampsacus; for he observed that the family of Hippoclus had great influence with King Darius. Her tomb is at Lampsacus, and bears this inscription:
'This earth covers Archedicè the daughter of Hippias,
A man who was great among the Hellenes of his day.
Her father, her husband, her brothers, and her sons were tyrants,
Yet was not her mind lifted up to vanity.'
Hippias ruled three years longer over the Athenians. In the fourth year he was deposed by the Lacedaemonians and the exiled Alcmaeonidae. He retired under an agreement, first to Sigeum, and then to Aeantides at Lampsacus. From him he went to the court of Darius, whence returning twenty years later with the Persian army he took part in the expedition to Marathon, being then an old man.
The Athenian people, recalling these and other traditions of the tyrants which had sunk deep into their minds, were suspicious and savage against the supposed profaners of the mysteries; the whole affair seemed to them to indicate some conspiracy aiming at oligarchy or tyranny. Inflamed by these suspicions they had already imprisoned many men of high character. There was no sign of returning quiet, but day by day the movement became more furious and the number of arrests increased. At last one of the prisoners, who was believed to be deeply implicated, was induced by a fellow-prisoner to make a confession--whether true or false I cannot say; opinions are divided, and no one knew at the time, or to this day knows, who the offenders were. His companion argued that even if he were not guilty he ought to confess and claim a pardon;53 he would thus save his own life, and at the same time deliver Athens from the prevailing state of suspicion. His chance of escaping would be better if he confessed his guilt in the hope of a pardon, than if he denied it and stood his trial. So he gave evidence both against himself and others in the matter of the Hermae. The Athenians were delighted at finding out what they supposed to be the truth; they had been in despair at the thought that the conspirators against the democracy would never be known, and they immediately liberated the informer and all whom he had not denounced. The accused they brought to trial, and executed such of them as could be found. Those who had fled they condemned to death, and promised a reward to any one who would kill them. No one could say whether the sufferers were justly punished; but the beneficial effect on the city at the time was undeniable.
The enemies of Alcibiades, who had attacked him before he sailed, continued their machinations, and popular feeling was deeply stirred against him. The Athenians now thought that they knew the truth about the Hermae, and they were more than ever convinced that the violation of the mysteries which had been laid to his charge was done by him with the same purpose, and was a part of the conspiracy. It so happened that while the city was in this state of excitement a small Lacedaemonian force proceeded as far as the Isthmus, having something to do in Boeotia. They were supposed to have come, not in the interest of the Boeotians, but by a secret understanding with Alcibiades; and the Athenians really believed that but for their own alacrity in arresting the accused persons the city would have been betrayed. For one whole night the people lay in arms in the temple of Theseus which is within the walls. About this time too the friends of Alcibiades at Argos were suspected of conspiring against the Argive democracy, and accordingly the Argive hostages who had been deposited in the islands54 were at once given up by the Athenians to the vengeance of the Argive people. From every quarter suspicion had gathered around Alcibiades, and the Athenian people were determined to have him tried and executed; so they sent the ship Salaminia to Sicily bearing a summons to him and to others against whom information had been given. He was ordered to follow the officers home and defend himself, but they were told not to arrest him; the Athenians, having regard to their interests in Sicily, were anxious not to cause excitement in their own camp or to attract the attention of the enemy, and above all not to lose the Mantineans and Argives, whom they knew to have been induced by his influence to join in the expedition.55 He in his own ship, and those who were accused with him, left Sicily in company with the Salaminia, and sailed for Athens. When they arrived at Thurii they followed no further, but left the ship and disappeared, fearing to return and stand their trial when the prejudice against them was so violent. The crew of the Salaminia searched for them, but after a time, being unable to find them, gave up the search and went home. Alcibiades, now an exile, crossed not long afterwards in a small vessel from Thurii to Peloponnesus, and the Athenians on his non-appearance sentenced him and his companions to death.
The two Athenian generals who remained in Sicily now divided the fleet between them by lot, and sailed towards Selinus and Egesta; they wanted to know whether the Egestaeans would give them the promised money, and also to ascertain the condition of the Selinuntians and the nature of their quarrel with the Egestaeans. Sailing along the north coast of Sicily, which looks towards the Tyrrhenian Gulf, they touched at Himera, the only Hellenic city in this part of the island. But they were not received, and passed on. On their voyage they took Hyccara, a city on the sea-shore which, although of Sicanian origin, was hostile to the Egestaeans.56 They reduced the inhabitants to slavery, and handed the place over to the Egestaeans, whose cavalry had now joined them. The Athenian troops then marched back through the country of the Sicels until they arrived at Catana; the ships which conveyed the prisoners going round the coast to meet them. Nicias had sailed straight from Hyccara to Egesta, where he did his business, and having obtained thirty talents57 of silver, rejoined the army at Catana. The Athenians on their return disposed of their slaves;58 the sum realised by the sale was about a hundred and twenty talents.59 They next sailed round to their Sicel allies and bade them send reinforcements. Then with half of their army they marched against Hybla Geleatis, a hostile town, which they failed to take. And so ended the summer.
Early in the ensuing winter the Athenians made preparations for an attack upon Syracuse; the Syracusans likewise prepared to take the offensive. For when they found that their enemies did not assail them at once, as in their first panic they had expected, day by day their spirits rose. And now the Athenians, after cruising about at the other end of Sicily, where they seemed to be a long way off, had gone to Hybla, and their attack upon it had failed. So the Syracusans despised them more than ever. After the manner of the populace when elated, they insisted that since the Athenians would not come to them, their generals should lead them against Catana. Syracusan horsemen, who were always riding up to the Athenian army and watching their movements, would ask insultingly whether, instead of resettling the Leontines in their old home, they were not themselves going to settle down with their good friends the Syracusans in a new one.
The generals were aware of the state of affairs. They determined to draw the whole Syracusan army as far as possible out of the city, and then in their absence sail thither by night and take up a convenient position unmolested. They knew that they would fail of their purpose60 if they tried to disembark their men in the face of an enemy who was prepared to meet them, or if they marched openly by land and were discovered, for they had no cavalry of their own, and the Syracusan horse which were numerous would do great harm to their light-armed troops and the mass of attendants. Whereas if they sailed thither by night they would be enabled to take up a position in which the cavalry could do them no serious mischief. The exact spot near the temple of Olympian Zeus which they afterwards occupied was indicated by Syracusan exiles who accompanied them. Accordingly the generals devised the following plan; they sent to Syracuse a man of whose fidelity they were assured, but whom the Syracusan leaders believed to be a friend of theirs. He was a Catanaean, and professed to come from adherents of their party whose names were familiar to them, and whom they knew to be still remaining in Catana.61 He told them that the Athenians lay within the city every night away from the camp in which their arms were deposited, and if at dawn on a set day the Syracusans with their whole force would come and attack the troops left in the camp, their partisans in Catana would themselves shut the Athenians up in the town62 and fire their ships; meanwhile the Syracusans might assault the palisade, and easily take the camp--preparations had been made,63 and many of the Catanaeans were in the plot; from them he came.
The Syracusan generals were already in high spirits, and before this proposal reached them had made up their minds to have all things in readiness for a march to Catana. So they trusted the man the more recklessly, and at once fixed the day on which they would arrive. They then sent him back, and issued orders for an expedition to their whole army, including the Selinuntians and the rest of the allies, who had now joined them. When they were ready and the appointed day drew near they marched towards Catana, and encamped by the river Symaethus in the Leontine territory. The Athenians, aware of the approach of the Syracusans, took all their own army and Sicel or other allies on board their ships and smaller craft, and sailed away at nightfall to Syracuse. At dawn they disembarked opposite the temple of Olympian Zeus, intending to seize a place for their camp; almost at the same moment the Syracusan horse who had advanced before the rest to Catana discovered that the whole Athenian army had put out to sea, whereupon they returned and told the infantry: and then all together hurried back to protect the city.
The march from Catana to Syracuse was long, and in the meantime the Athenians had quietly established themselves in an advantageous position, where they could give battle whenever they pleased, and the Syracusan horse were least likely to harass them either before or during the engagement. On one side they were protected by walls, and houses, and trees, and a marsh; on another by a line of cliffs. They felled the trees near, and bringing them down to the sea made a palisade to protect their ships; on the shore of Dascon too they hurriedly raised a fortification of rough stones and logs at a point where the ground was most accessible to the enemy, and broke down the bridge over the river Anapus. No one came out from the walls to hinder them in their work. The first to appear at all were the returning cavalry; after a while the whole body of infantry came up and re-formed. They at once marched right up to the Athenian position, but the Athenians did not come out to meet them; so they retired and encamped on the other side of the Helorine road.
On the next day the Athenians and their allies prepared to give battle. Their order was as follows: The Argives and Mantineans formed the right wing, the Athenians held the centre; on the left wing were the remaining allies. Half of their army which formed the van was ranged eight deep. The other half was drawn up likewise eight deep close to their sleeping-places, in a hollow oblong. The latter were told to watch the engagement, and to move up to the support of any part of the line which might be distressed. In the midst of the reserve thus disposed were placed the baggage-bearers. The Syracusans drew up their heavy-armed sixteen deep; the army consisted of the whole Syracusan people and their allies, chiefly the Selinuntians, who were in the city; they had also two hundred horsemen from Gela, and twenty, with about fifty archers, from Camarina. The cavalry, numbering in all twelve hundred, were placed upon the right wing, and beside them the javelin-men. The Athenians determined to begin the attack. Just before the battle Nicias went up and down, and addressed the following words to all and each of the various peoples who composed the army:
'What need, soldiers, is there of a long exhortation when we are all here united in the same cause?64 The mere sight of this great army is more likely to put courage into you than an eloquent speech and an inferior force.65 We are Argives and Mantineans, and Athenians and the chief of the islanders; and must not the presence of so many brave allies inspire every one of us with a good hope of victory, especially when we reflect that our opponents are not like ourselves picked soldiers, but a whole city which has turned out to meet us? They are Sicilians too, who, although they may despise us, will not stand their ground against us; for their skill is not equal to their courage. Consider again that we are far from home, and that there is no friendly land near but what you can win with your swords.66 The generals of the enemy, as I know well, are appealing to very different motives. They say to them, "you are fighting for your own country," but I say to you that you are fighting in a country which is not your own, and from which, if you do not conquer, retreat will be impossible, for swarms of cavalry will follow at your heels. Remember your own reputation, and charge valiantly, deeming the difficulties and necessities of your position to be more formidable than the enemy.'
Nicias having thus exhorted his men led them at once to the charge. The Syracusans did not expect that they would have to fight just at that moment, and some of them had even gone away into the city, which was close at hand; others came running up as fast as they could, and, although late, joined the main body one by one at the nearest point. For they showed no want of spirit or daring in this or any other engagement; in courage they were not a whit inferior to their enemies, had their skill only been adequate, but when it failed, they could no longer do justice to their good intentions. On this occasion they were compelled to make a hasty defence, for they felt sure that the Athenians would not begin the attack. Nevertheless they took up their arms and immediately went forward to meet them. For a while the throwers of stones, and slingers, and archers skirmished in front of the two armies, driving one another before them after the manner of light-armed troops. Then the soothsayers brought out the customary victims, and the trumpets sounded and called the infantry to the charge. The two armies advanced; the Syracusans to fight for their country, and every man for life now, and liberty hereafter; on the opposite side the Athenians to gain a new country, and to save the old from the disaster of defeat; the Argives and the independent allies eager to share the good things of Sicily, and, if they returned victorious, to see their own homes once more. The courage of the subject allies was chiefly inspired by a lively consciousness that their only chance of life was in victory; they had also a distant hope that, if they assisted the Athenians in overthrowing others, their own yoke might be lightened.
The armies met, and for a long time the issue was doubtful. During the battle there came on thunder and lightning, and a deluge of rain; these added to the terror of the inexperienced who were fighting for the first time, but experienced soldiers ascribed the storm to the time of year, and were much more alarmed at the stubborn resistance of the enemy,67 First the Argives drove back the left wing of the Syracusans; next the Athenians the right wing which was opposed to them. Whereupon the rest of the army began to give way and were soon put to flight. Their opponents did not pursue them far, for the Syracusan horsemen, who were numerous and had not shared in the defeat, interposed, and wherever they saw hoplites advancing from the ranks attacked and drove them back. The Athenians pursued in a body as far as they safely could, and then returned and raised a trophy. The Syracusans rallied on the Helorine road, and did their best to reform after their defeat. They did not neglect to send some of their forces as a guard to the Olympieum, fearing lest the Athenians should plunder the treasures of the temple. The rest of the army returned to the city.
The Athenians, however, did not go to the temple at all, but collecting their dead, and laying them on a pyre, they passed the night where they were. On the following day they gave back the Syracusan dead under a flag of truce, and gathered from the pyre the bones of their own dead. There had fallen of the Syracusans and of their allies about two hundred and sixty; of the Athenians and their allies not more than fifty. The Athenians then taking with them the spoils of their enemies, sailed back to Catana. Winter had now set in, and they thought that before they could do anything more at Syracuse they must send for horsemen from Athens, and collect others from their Sicilian allies; without them they would be at the mercy of the Syracusan cavalry. They also wanted to obtain both in Sicily and from Athens a supply of money, and to gain over some of the Sicilian cities. These would be more willing to listen to them after their victory. They had likewise to provide supplies, and to make the other requisite preparations for attacking Syracuse in the spring. Accordingly they sailed away to Naxos and Catana, intending to winter.
The Syracusans, after burying their dead; called an assembly. Hermocrates the son of Hermon, a man of first-rate ability, of distinguished bravery, and also of great military experience, came forward and encouraged them. He told them not to be disheartened at the result of the battle; for their resolution had not been defeated;68 but they had suffered from want of discipline. Yet they had proved less unequal than might have been expected; and they should remember that they had been contending against the most experienced soldiers of Hellas; they were unskilled workmen, and the Athenians masters in their craft.69 Another great source of weakness had been the number of generals (there were fifteen of them); the division of authority had produced disorganisation and disorder among the troops. If they had a few experienced generals, and during the winter got their hoplites into order, providing arms for those who had none, and so raising the number of their forces to the utmost, while at the same time they insisted on strict drill and discipline, they would have a good chance of victory; for they had courage already, and only wanted steadiness in action. Both qualities would improve together; they would learn steadiness in the school of danger, and their natural courage would be reinforced by the confidence which skill inspires. The generals whom they elected should be few in number and should be entrusted with full power, the people taking a solemn oath to them that they would be allowed to command according to their own judgment. The secrets of the army would then be better kept, and everything would be done in a more orderly and straightforward manner.
The Syracusans listened to him, and voted all that he desired. They chose three generals and no more; Hermocrates himself, Heraclides the son of Lysimachus, and Sicanus the son of Execestus. They also sent ambassadors to Corinth and to Lacedaemon requesting aid as allies, and urged the Lacedaemonians to make war openly and decidedly against the Athenians on their behalf; thus they would either draw them off from Sicily, or at any rate prevent them from sending reinforcements to the army which was there already.
No sooner had the Athenians returned in the fleet to Catana than they sailed to Messenè, expecting that the city would be betrayed to them. But they were disappointed. For Alcibiades, when he was recalled and gave up his command, foreseeing that he would be an exile, communicated to the Syracusan party at Messenè the plot of which he was cognisant.70 They at once put to death the persons whom he indicated; and on the appearance of the Athenians the same party, rising and arming, prevented their admission. The Athenians remained there about thirteen days, but the weather was bad, their provisions failed, and they had no success. So they went to Naxos, and having surrounded their camp with a palisade, proposed to pass the winter there. They also despatched a trireme to Athens for money and cavalry, which were to arrive at the beginning of spring.
The Syracusans employed the winter in various defensive works. Close to the city they built a wall, which took in the shrine of Apollo Temenites and extended all along that side of Syracuse which looks towards Epipolae; they thus enlarged the area of the city, and increased the difficulty of investing it in case of defeat. They fortified and garrisoned Megara, and also raised a fort at the Olympieum,71 besides fixing stockades at all the landing-places along the shore. They knew that the Athenians were wintering at Naxos, and so, marching out with their whole army to Catana, they ravaged the country and burnt the huts and the camp of the Athenians; they then returned home. They heard that the Athenians were sending an embassy to gain over the Camarinaeans on the strength of their former alliance, which had been made under Laches,72 and they despatched a counter embassy of their own. They suspected that the Camarinaeans had not been over-zealous in sending their contingent to the first battle, and would not be willing to assist them any longer now that the Athenians had gained a victory; old feelings of friendship would revive, and they would be induced to join them. Accordingly Hermocrates came with an embassy to Camarina, and Euphemus with another embassy from the Athenians. An assembly of the Camarinaeans was held, at which Hermocrates, hoping to raise a prejudice against the Athenians, spoke as follows:
'We are not here, Camarinaeans, because we suppose that the presence of the Athenian army will dismay you; we are more afraid of their as yet unuttered words, to which you may too readily lend an ear if you hear them without first hearing us. You know the pretext on which they have come to Sicily, but we can all guess their real intentions. If I am not mistaken they want, not to restore the Leontines to their city, but to drive us out of ours. Who can believe that they who desolate the cities of Hellas mean to restore those of Sicily, or that the enslavers and oppressors of the Chalcidians in Euboea have any feeling of kindred towards the colonists of these Chalcidians in Leontini? In their conquests at home, and in their attempt to conquer Sicily, is not the principle upon which they act one and the same? The Ionians and other colonists of theirs who were their allies, wanting to be revenged on the Persian, freely invited them to be their leaders; and they accepted the invitation. But soon they charged them, some with desertion, and some with making war upon each other;73 any plausible accusation which they could bring against any of them became an excuse for their overthrow. It was not for the liberties of Hellas that Athens, or for her own liberty that Hellas, fought against the Persian; they fought, the Athenians that they might enslave Hellas to themselves instead of him, the rest of the Hellenes that they might get a new master, who may be cleverer, but certainly makes a more dishonest use of his wits.
'However, the character of the Athenians is known to you already, and we do not come here to set forth their enormities, which would be an easy task, but rather to accuse ourselves. We have had a warning in the fate of the Hellenes elsewhere; we know that they were reduced to slavery because they would not stand by one another. And when the same tricks are practised upon us,74 and we hear the old tale once more about the restoration of "our kinsmen the Leontines," and the succour of "our allies the Egestaeans," why do we not all rise as one man and show them that here they will find, not Ionians, nor yet Hellespontians, nor islanders, who must always be the slaves, if not of the Persian, of some other master; but Dorians75 and free inhabitants of Sicily, sprung from the independent soil of Peloponnesus? Are we waiting till our cities are taken one by one, when we know that this is the only way in which we can be conquered? We see what their policy is: how in some cases their cunning words sow ill-feeling; in others they stir up war by the offer of alliance; or again, by some well-invented phrase specially agreeable to an individual state they do it all the mischief which they can. And does any one suppose that, if his countryman at a distance perishes, the danger will not reach him, or that he who suffers first will have no companions in ruin?
'If any one fancies that not he, but the Syracusan, is the enemy of the Athenian, and asks indignantly "Why should I risk myself for you?" let him consider that in fighting for my country he will be at the same time fighting in mine for his own.76 And he will fight with less danger, because I shall still be in existence; he will not carry on the struggle alone, for he will have me for an ally.77 Let him consider that the Athenian is not really seeking to chastise the enmity of the Syracusan, but under pretence of attacking me may be quite as desirous of drawing hard and fast the bonds of friendship with him. And if any one from envy, or possibly from fear (for greatness is exposed to both), would have Syracuse suffer that we may receive a lesson, but survive for his own security, he is asking to have a thing which human power cannot compass. For a man may regulate his own desires, but he is not the dispenser of fortune;78 the time may come when he will find himself mistaken, and while mourning over his own ruin he may possibly wish that he could still have my prosperity to envy. But he cannot bring me back again when he has once abandoned me and has refused to take his share in the common danger, which, far from being imaginary, is only too real. For though in name you may be saving me, in reality you will be saving yourselves. And you especially, Camarinaeans, who are our next neighbours, and on whom the danger will fall next, should have anticipated all this, and not be so slack in your alliance. Instead of our coming to you, you should have come to us. Suppose the Athenians had gone to Camarina first, would you not at this moment be begging and praying for assistance? Then why did not you present yourselves at Syracuse, and say to us in our time of danger, "Never yield to the enemy"? But, hitherto, neither you nor any of the Sicilians have shown a spirit like this.
'You may perhaps disguise your cowardice under the pretence of impartiality; you may balance between us and the invaders, and plead that you have an alliance with the Athenians. But that alliance was made on the supposition that you were invaded by an enemy, not against a friend; and you promised to assist the Athenians if they were wronged by others, not when, as now, they are doing wrong themselves. Are the Rhegians who are Chalcidians so very anxious to join in the restoration of their Leontine kinsmen?79 And yet how monstrous that they, suspecting the real meaning of this plausible claim, should display a prudence for which they can give no reason; and that you, who have every reason for a like prudence, should be eager to assist your natural enemies, and to conspire with them for the destruction of those who by a higher law are your still more natural kinsmen. This should not be. You must make a stand against them. And do not be afraid of their armament. There is no danger if we hold together; the danger is in disunion, and they want to disunite us. Even when they engaged with our unaided forces,80 and defeated us in battle, they failed in their main purpose, and quickly retired.
'If then we can once unite, there is no reason for discouragement. But there is every reason why you, who are our allies, should meet us more cordially. We may be sure that help will come to us from Peloponnesus, and the Peloponnesians are far better soldiers than the Athenians. Let no one think that the caution which professes to be in league with both, and therefore gives aid to neither, is just to us or safe for you. Such a policy, though it may pretend to impartiality, is really unjust. For if through your absence the victor overcomes and the vanquished falls, have you not abandoned the one to his fate, and allowed the other to commit a crime? How much nobler would it be to join your injured kinsmen, and thereby maintain the common interest of Sicily and save the Athenians, whom you call your friends, from doing wrong!
'To sum up: We Syracusans are quite aware that there is no use in our dilating to you or to any one else on matters which you know as well as ourselves. But we prefer a prayer to you; and solemnly adjure you to consider, that, if you reject us, we, who are Dorians like yourselves, are betrayed by you to Ionians, our inveterate enemies, who are seeking our ruin. If the Athenians subdue us, your decision will have gained them the day; but the honour will be all their own, and the authors of their victory will be the prize of their victory. If on the other hand we conquer, you who have brought the peril upon us will have to suffer the penalty. Reflect then, and take your choice: will you have present safety and slavery, or the hope of delivering yourselves and us, and thereby escaping the dishonour of submitting to the Athenian yoke, and the danger of our enmity, which will not be short-lived?'
Thus spoke Hermocrates. Euphemus, the Athenian envoy, replied as follows:
'We had come to renew our former alliance, but the attack made upon us by the Syracusan envoy renders it necessary for us to vindicate our title to empire.81 He himself bore the strongest witness in our favour when he said that Dorians and Ionians are inveterate enemies. And so they are. We Ionians dwelling in the neighbourhood of the Peloponnesians (who are Dorians and more numerous than ourselves) have had to consider the best way of securing our independence. After the Persian War we were delivered by the help of our newly-acquired navy from the rule and supremacy of Lacedaemon; they had no more right to domineer over us than we over them, except the right of the stronger, which at the time they possessed. We then assumed the leadership of the King's former subjects, which we still retain; if we were not to be the slaves of the Peloponnesians we thought that we must have the means of self-defence. And what if we did subjugate those kinsmen of ours whom the Syracusans say that we have enslaved, the Ionians and the islanders? On the strictest principles, where was the injustice? For we were their mother-city, and they joined in the Persian invasion. They had not the courage to revolt from him and to destroy their homes, as we did when we left our city. But they chose slavery for their own portion, and would have imposed it upon us.
'We rule then, in the first place, because we deserve to rule; for we provided the largest navy and showed the most patriotic alacrity in the cause of Hellas;82 while those who became our subjects were willing slaves to the Persian, and were doing us mischief. And secondly, we were anxious to gain additional strength against the Peloponnesians. We use no fine words: we do not tell you that we have a right to rule on the ground that we alone overthrew the Barbarians,83 nor do we pretend that we fought for the liberty of our allies, and not equally for the general liberty and for our own.84 Can any man be blamed because he makes the natural provision for his own safety?85 The same care of our safety has brought us hither, and we can see that our presence here is for your benefit as well as for ours. This we will prove to you; and our proofs shall be drawn from the calumnies of our enemies, and from the suspicions and fears which most sway your minds. For we know that those who are timorous and mistrustful may be won for the moment by alluring words, but that when the time of action comes they follow their own interests.
'We have told you already that fear makes us maintain our empire at home; and that a like fear brings us to your shores. For we desire by the help of our friends to secure our position in Sicily. And we have not come to enslave you, but to save you from being enslaved. Let no one imagine that your welfare is no business of ours, for if you are preserved, and are strong enough to hold out against the Syracusans, they will be less likely to aid the Peloponnesians, and so to injure us. Thus you become at once our first concern. And we are quite consistent in restoring the Leontines, not to be subjects, like their kinsmen in Euboea, but to be as strong as ever we can make them, that from their position on the border they may harass the Syracusans and do our work. In Hellas we are a match for our enemies single-handed; and as to our subjection of the Chalcidians at home, which Hermocrates finds so inconsistent with our emancipation of the Chalcidians here, it is for our advantage, on the one hand, that the cities of Euboea should have no armed force and contribute money only, and, on the other hand, that the Leontines and our friends in Sicily should be as independent as possible.
'Now to a tyrant or to an imperial city86 nothing is inconsistent which is expedient, and no man is a kinsman who cannot be trusted. In each case we must make friends or enemies according to circumstances, and here our interest requires, not that we should weaken our friends, but that our friends should be too strong for our enemies. Do not mistrust us. In Hellas we act upon the same principle, managing our allies as our interest requires in their several cases. The Chians and Methymnaeans furnish us with ships, and are their own masters; the majority are less independent, and pay a tribute; others, although they are islanders and might be easily conquered, enjoy complete freedom, because they are situated conveniently for operations about Peloponnesus.87 So that in Sicily too our policy is likely to be determined by our interest, and, as I was saying, by our fear of the Syracusans. For they desire to be your masters, but first they must unite you in a common suspicion of us, and then either by force, or through your isolation, when we have failed and retired, they will dominate Sicily. This is inevitable if you now join them. Your united power will be more than we can manage, and the Syracusans, when we are gone, will be too much for you. He who thinks otherwise is convicted out of his own mouth. For when you originally invited us, the danger which we should incur if we allowed you to fall into the hands of the Syracusans was precisely what you held before our eyes, and now you ought not to distrust the argument which you thought good enough for us. Nor should you suspect us because we bring hither a force larger than before; for we have to contend against the power of Syracuse. Much more to be mistrusted are they. Without your aid we cannot even remain where we are, and if we were so dishonourable as to make conquests we should be unable to retain them,88 for the voyage is long, and it would be a hopeless task to garrison great cities which, though situated on an island, have the resources of a continent. Whereas these men are your nearest neighbours. And they dwell, not in a camp, but in a city far more powerful than the forces which we have brought to Sicily; they are always scheming against you, and never miss a chance, as they have often shown, especially in their conduct towards the Leontines. And now they have the impudence to stir you up against those who resist them, and have thus far saved Sicily from passing under their yoke. As if you had no eyes! Far more real than the security offered by them is that to which we invite you, a security which we and you gain from one another, and we beseech you not to throw it away. Reflect: the Syracusans are so numerous that with or without allies they can always find their way to you, but you will not often have the chance of defending yourself with the aid of an army like ours. And if from any suspicion you allow us to depart unsuccessful, or perhaps defeated, the time may come when you will desire to see but a fraction of that army, although, if it came, it would be too late to save you.
'But we would not have either you, Camarinaeans, or others moved by their calumnies. We have told you the whole truth about the suspicions which are entertained of us; we will now sum up our arguments, and we think that they ought to convince you. We rule over the cities of Hellas in order to maintain our independence, and we emancipate the cities of Sicily that they may not be used against us. And we are compelled to adopt a policy of interference because we have many interests to guard. Lastly, we come now, as we came before, not uninvited, but upon your own invitation to assist those of you who are suffering wrong. Do not sit in judgment upon our actions, or seek to school us into moderation and so divert us from our purpose, (the time for good advice has gone by), but in as far as our busy, meddlesome spirit can be of service to you as well as to ourselves, take and use us, remembering that these qualities, so far from being injurious to all alike, actually benefit great numbers of the Hellenes. For in all places--however remote from our sphere--both he who fears and he who intends injustice, the one because he has a lively hope that from us he will obtain redress, and the other because he may well be alarmed for the consequences if we answer to the call, must both alike submit, the one to learn moderation against his will, the other to receive at our hands a deliverance which costs him nothing. Do not reject the common salvation which is offered to you at this moment, as well as to all who seek it, but following the example of your countrymen join with us and, instead of having always to watch the Syracusans, assert your equality and threaten them as they have long been threatening you.'
Thus spoke Euphemus. Now the Camarinaeans were swayed by opposite feelings; they had a good will to the Athenians, tempered by a suspicion that they might be intending to enslave Sicily, whereas the Syracusans, from their proximity, were always at feud with them. But they were not so much afraid of the Athenians as of their Syracusan neighbours, who, as they thought, might win without their assistance. This was the reason why they sent them the small body of horse which took part in the first battle; and in a like spirit they now determined that for the future they would give real assistance only to the Syracusans, but to a very moderate extent. For the present however, that they might seem to deal equal justice to the Athenians, especially after their recent victory, they resolved to return the same answer to both. Such were the considerations which led them to reply that, as two of their allies were at war with one another, they thought that under the circumstances the best way of observing their oaths would be to assist neither. So the two embassies departed.
The Syracusans proceeded with their own preparations for the war, and the Athenians who were encamped at Naxos tried by negotiation to gain over as many of the Sicels as they could. The dwellers in the plain who were subjects of the Syracusans mostly stood aloof, but the Sicel settlements in the interior (which had always been independent) at once, with a few exceptions, joined the Athenians, and brought down food to the army; in some cases money also. Against those who were recalcitrant troops were despatched by the Athenians; and some of them were forced into submission, but others were protected by the garrisons which the Syracusans sent to their aid. They then transferred their station from Naxos to Catana and, reconstructing the camp which had been burnt by the Syracusans,89 passed the winter there. In the hope of obtaining assistance they sent a trireme to Carthage with a proposal of friendship; likewise to Tyrrhenia, since some of the cities there were offering of themselves to join them in the war: to the various Sicel tribes90 and to the Egestaeans they issued orders that they were to send as many horse as possible. They further prepared bricks, tools, and whatever else was requisite for siege operations, intending, when the spring arrived, to prosecute the war with vigour.
The envoys whom the Syracusans had sent to Corinth and Lacedaemon91 endeavoured on the voyage to persuade the Italian Greeks that they were equally threatened by the Athenian designs, and should take an interest in the war. When they arrived at Corinth they appealed to the Corinthians for aid on the ground of relationship. The Corinthians, taking the lead of all the Hellenic states, voted that they would assist Syracuse with all possible energy. They sent with the Syracusan envoys ambassadors of their own to the Lacedaemonians, bearing a joint request that they would resume open hostilities at home, and unite with them in sending help to Sicily. At Lacedaemon the Corinthian ambassadors met Alcibiades and his fellow exiles. He had sailed at once from Thurii in a trading vessel to Cyllenè in Elis, and thence proceeded to Lacedaemon on the invitation of the Lacedaemonians themselves, first obtaining a safe-conduct; for he was afraid of them after his proceedings in the matter of the Mantinean league.92 And so it came to pass that the Corinthians, the Syracusans, and Alcibiades appeared simultaneously in the Lacedaemonian assembly, and concurred in urging the same request. The ephors and the magistrates were already intending to send envoys to the Syracusans bidding them make no terms with the Athenians, although they were not disposed to assist them actively. But now Alcibiades came forward and stimulated the energies of the Lacedaemonians in the following words:
'I must endeavour first of all to remove a prejudice against myself, lest through suspicion of me you should turn a deaf ear to considerations of public interest. My ancestors in consequence of some misunderstanding renounced the office of Lacedaemonian proxenus; I myself resumed it, and did you many good offices, especially after your misfortune at Pylos. My anxiety to serve you never ceased, but when you were making peace with Athens you negotiated through my enemies, thereby conferring power on them, and bringing dishonour upon me.93 And if I then turned to the Mantineans and Argives and opposed you in that or in any other way, you were rightly served, and any one who while the wound was recent may have been unduly exasperated against me should now take another and a truer view. Or, again, if any one thought the worse of me because I was inclined to the people, let him acknowledge that here too there is no real ground of offence. Any power adverse to despotism is called democracy, and my family have always retained the leadership of the people in their hands because we have been the persistent enemies of tyrants. Living too under a popular government, how could we avoid in a great degree conforming to circumstances? However, we did our best to observe political moderation amid the prevailing licence. But there were demagogues, as there always have been, who led the people into evil ways, and it was they who drove me out.94 Whereas we were the leaders of the state as a whole,95 and not of a part only; it was our view that all ought to combine in maintaining that form of government which had been inherited by us, and under which the city enjoyed the greatest freedom and glory. Of course, like all sensible men, we knew only too well what democracy is, and I better than any one, who have so good a reason for abusing it. The follies of democracy are universally admitted, and there is nothing new to be said about them. But we could not venture to change our form of government when an enemy like yourselves was so near to us.
'Such is the truth about the calumnies under which I labour. And now I will speak to you of the matter which you have in hand, and about which I, in so far as I have better information, am bound to instruct you. We sailed to Sicily hoping in the first place to conquer the Sicilian cities; then to proceed against the Hellenes of Italy; and lastly, to make an attempt on the Carthaginian dominions, and on Carthage itself. If all or most of these enterprises succeeded, we meant finally to attack Peloponnesus, bringing with us the whole Hellenic power which we had gained abroad, besides many barbarians whom we intended to hire--Iberians and the neighbouring tribes, esteemed to be the most warlike barbarians that now are.96 Of the timber which Italy supplies in such abundance we meant to build numerous additional triremes, and with them to blockade Peloponnesus. At the same time making inroads by land with our infantry, we should have stormed some of your cities and invested others. Thus we hoped to crush you easily, and to rule over the Hellenic world. For the better accomplishment of our various aims our newly-acquired territory would supply money and provisions enough, apart from the revenue which we receive in Hellas.
'You have heard the objects of our expedition from him who knows them best; the generals who remain will persevere and carry them out if they can. And now let me prove to you that if you do not come to the rescue Sicily will be lost. If the Greeks would all unite they might even now, notwithstanding their want of military skill, resist with success; but the Syracusans alone, whose whole forces have been already defeated, and who cannot move freely at sea, will be unable to withstand the power which the Athenians already have on the spot. And Syracuse once taken, the whole of Sicily is in their hands; the subjugation of Italy will follow; and the danger which, as I was saying, threatens you from that quarter, will speedily overwhelm you. And therefore remember every one of you that the safety, not of Sicily alone, but of Peloponnesus, is at stake. No time should be lost. You must send to Sicily a force of hoplites who will themselves handle the oars and will take the field immediately on landing. A Spartan commander I conceive to be even more indispensable than an army; his duty will be to organise the troops which are already enlisted, and to press the unwilling into the service. Thus you will inspire confidence in your friends and overcome the fears of the wavering. Here too in Hellas you should make open war. The Syracusans, seeing that you have not forgotten them, will then persevere in their resistance, while the Athenians will have greater difficulty in reinforcing their army. You ought also to fortify Decelea in Attica; the Athenians are always in particular dread of this; to them it seems to be the only peril of which they have not faced the worst in the course of the war. And the way to hurt an enemy most surely is to inform yourself exactly about the weak points of which you see that he is conscious, and strike at them. For every man is likely to know best himself the dangers which he has most to fear. I will sum up briefly the chief though by no means all the advantages which you will gain, and the disadvantages which you will inflict, by the fortification of Decelea. The whole stock of the country will fall into your hands. The slaves will come over to you of their own accord; what there is besides will be seized by you. The Athenians will at once be deprived of the revenues which they obtain from the silver mines of Laurium, and of all the profits which they make by the land or by the law courts: above all, the customary tribute will cease to flow in; for their allies, when they see that you are now carrying on the war in earnest, will not mind them. How far these plans are executed, and with how much speed and energy, Lacedaemonians, depends on you; for I am confident that they are practicable, and I am not likely to be mistaken.
'You ought not in fairness to think the worse of me because, having been once distinguished as a lover of my country, I now cast in my lot with her worst foes and attack her with all my might; or suspect that I speak only with the eagerness of an exile. An exile I am indeed; I have lost an ungrateful country, but I have not lost the power of doing you service, if you will listen to me. The true enemies of my country are not those who, like you, have injured her in open war, but those who have compelled her friends to become her enemies. I love Athens, not in so far as I am wronged by her, but in so far as I once enjoyed the privileges of a citizen. The country which I am attacking is no longer mine, but a lost country which I am seeking to regain. He is the true patriot, not who, when unjustly exiled, abstains from attacking his country, but who in the warmth of his affection seeks to recover her without regard to the means. I desire therefore that you, Lacedaemonians, will use me without scruple in any service however difficult or dangerous, remembering that, according to the familiar saying, "the more harm I did you as an enemy, the more good can I do you as a friend." For I know the secrets of the Athenians, while I could only guess at yours. Remember the immense importance of your present decision, and do not hesitate to send an expedition to Sicily and Attica. By despatching a fraction of your forces to co-operate in Sicily you may save great interests, and may overthrow the Athenian power once and for ever. And so henceforward you may dwell safely yourselves and be leaders of all Hellas, which will follow you, not upon compulsion, but from affection.'
Thus spoke Alcibiades: the Lacedaemonians, who had been intending to send an army against Athens, but were still hesitating and looking about them, were greatly strengthened in their resolution when they heard all these points urged by him who, as they thought, knew best. Accordingly they now turned their thoughts to the fortification of Decelea, and determined to send immediate assistance to the Syracusans. They appointed Gylippus the son of Cleandridas commander of the Syracusan forces, and desired him to co-operate with the Syracusan and Corinthian representatives, and send aid to Sicily in the speediest and most effective manner which the circumstances admitted. Whereupon he told the Corinthians to despatch immediately two ships to him at Asine, and to fit out as many more as they meant to send; the latter were to be ready for sea when the season arrived. Coming to this understanding the envoys departed from Lacedaemon.
About this time the trireme which the Athenian generals had despatched from Sicily for money and cavalry97 arrived at Athens. The Athenians, hearing their request, voted money and a force of cavalry for the army. So the winter ended, and with it the seventeenth year in the Peloponnesian War of which Thucydides wrote the history.
At the very beginning of the following spring the Athenians quitted Catana, and sailed along the coast towards the Sicilian Megara; this place, as I have already mentioned,98 in the days of Gelo the tyrant was depopulated by the Syracusans, who still retain possession of the country. They disembarked, and after ravaging the fields proceeded to attack a small Syracusan fortress,99 but without success; they then moved on some by land and some by sea to the river Terias, and going up the country wasted the plain and burned the corn. They encountered a few Syracusans, some of whom they killed, and setting up a trophy returned to their ships. They then sailed back to Catana, and having taken in provisions marched with their whole force against Centoripa, a Sicel town, which capitulated. Thence they returned, and on their way burned the corn of the Inessians and the Hyblaeans. Arriving at Catana they found that the horsemen, for whom they had sent, to the number of two hundred and fifty had come from Athens, with their equipments, but without horses, which they were expected to procure on the spot. Thirty mounted archers and three hundred talents of silver100 had arrived also.
During the same spring the Lacedaemonians led an army against Argos, and advanced as far as Cleonae, but retired in consequence of an earthquake. The Argives in their turn invaded the neighbouring district of Thyrea, and took a great deal of spoil from the Lacedaemonians, which was sold for no less than twenty-five talents.101 Somewhat later the populace of Thespiae102 made an attack upon the government, but the attempt did not succeed; for the Thebans came to the rescue. Some of the insurgents were apprehended, others fled to Athens.
The Syracusans heard that the Athenians had received their cavalry, and that they would soon be upon them. They considered that, unless the Athenians gained possession of Epipolae (which was a steep place looking down upon Syracuse), the city could not easily be invested, even if they were defeated in battle; they therefore determined to guard the paths leading to the summit that the enemy might not get up by stealth. At all other points the place was secure, as it lies high and slopes right down to the city, from the interior of which it can all be seen; the Syracusans call it Epipolae (or the plateau, because it is above the level of the adjacent country. Hermocrates and his colleagues had now entered upon their command. The whole people went out at break of day to the meadow skirting the river Anapus, and proceeded to hold a review of their forces. A selection was at once made of six hundred hoplites, who were appointed to guard Epipolae, and to run in a body to any point at which they were needed. They were commanded by Diomilus, an Andrian exile.
On the very same morning the Athenians were likewise holding a muster of their army. They had come from Catana with their whole force, and had put in unobserved near a place called Leon, which is distant from Epipolae not quite a mile; there they disembarked their troops. Their ships cast anchor at Thapsus, which is a peninsula with a narrow isthmus, running out into the sea, and not far from Syracuse either by land or water. The Athenian sailors made a stockade across the isthmus and remained at Thapsus, while the troops ran to Epipolae, and gained the summit by the way of the Euryelus before the Syracusans saw them or could come up to them from the meadow where the review was going on. Nevertheless Diomilus with his six hundred hurried to the spot, accompanied by the rest of the army, each man running as fast he could; but the distance from the meadow which they had to traverse before they could engage was not less than three miles; consequently they were in disorder when they closed with the Athenians. They were defeated in the engagement which ensued on Epipolae, and retired into the city. Diomilus and about three hundred others were slain. The Athenians erected a trophy, and gave up to the Syracusans the bodies of the dead under a flag of truce. On the following day they went down to the city itself, but as the Syracusans did not come out against them, they retired and built a fort upon Labdalum, at the edge of the cliffs of Epipolae looking towards Megara, in order that when they advanced either to fight or to construct lines, the place might serve as a depository for their baggage and their property.
Not long afterwards the Athenians were joined by three hundred Egestaean horsemen, and about a hundred more furnished by the Sicels, Naxians, and others. They had two hundred and fifty of their own, for some of whom they received horses from the Egestaeans and Catanaeans; other horses they bought. The whole number of their cavalry was now raised to six hundred and fifty. They placed a garrison in Labdalum and went down to Sycè, where they took up a position and immediately commenced building a wall round the city.103 The Syracusans were amazed at the celerity of the work. They saw that they must interfere, and made up their minds to go out and fight. The two armies were already preparing to engage when the Syracusan generals, seeing that their forces were in disorder and were forming with difficulty, led them back into the city, all but a detachment of the cavalry, who, remaining on the spot, prevented their opponents from gathering stones for the wall, and compelled them to keep together. At length, advancing with one division of their hoplites and all their cavalry, the Athenians attacked the Syracusan horse, whom they put to flight, and killed some of them; they then erected a trophy.
On the following day some of the Athenians proceeded with the construction of that part of the circle which lay towards the north;104 others began to collect wood and stones and lay them along the intended course of the wall towards Trogilus, where the distance was shortest from the Great Harbour to the outer sea. The Syracusans by the advice of their commanders, chiefly of Hermocrates, determined to risk no more general engagements. They thought it better to raise a counter-wall across the line along which the Athenian wall was building. If they were first they would intercept them. They might indeed be attacked by the Athenians while thus engaged, but then they could oppose them with a part of their army; and there would be time to run a stockade across, if not a wall, before any attack took place. The Athenians on the other hand would have to leave their work, and employ their whole army against them. So they came out and drew a cross-wall, beginning at their own city, from a point below the circle of the Athenian wall,105 cutting down the olive-trees in the precinct of Apollo and erecting wooden towers. As yet the Athenian ships had not sailed round from Thapsus into the Great Harbour; the Syracusans were still masters of their own coast, and the Athenians brought their necessaries from Thapsus by land.
The Athenians did not interfere with their work, for they were afraid of dividing and weakening their forces; and they were pressing forward that part of the line on which they were employed. So the Syracusans when they had sufficiently completed a part of their stockade and cross-wall, leaving one division to guard the work, retreated into the city with the rest of their army. The Athenians now destroyed their conduits, which were laid underground to bring drinking-water into the city. Then, choosing their time at noon when the Syracusan guard remained within their tents (some of them had even retired into the city) and when the vigilance of their sentinels at the stockade was relaxed, they took a body of three hundred chosen hoplites of their own and some light-armed troops, picked soldiers, to whom they had given heavy arms, and bade them run quickly to the cross-wall. The rest of the army proceeded in two divisions under the two generals, one towards the city in case the enemy should come to save the wall, the other to that part of the stockade which adjoined the postern-gate of the city. The three hundred attacked and captured the further end of the stockade, from which the guards retired and fled inside the new outer wall which enclosed the shrine of Apollo Temenites.106 The pursuers pressed forward and made their way in after them; but they were forced out again by the Syracusans; and some Argives and a few of the Athenians fell there. Then the whole army, turning back, destroyed the cross-wall, tore up the stockades, carried the stakes to their camp, and raised a trophy.
On the following day the Athenians, beginning at one end of the unfinished circle, began to bring the wall down over107 the cliff which on this side of Epipolae looks across the marsh towards the Great Harbour, intending to carry on the line by the shortest way to the harbour right through the level of the marsh. Meanwhile the Syracusans also came out, and beginning from the city, proceeded to carry another stockade through the middle of the marsh, with a ditch at the side, in order to prevent the Athenians from completing their line to the sea. The latter, having finished their work as far as the cliff, attacked the new Syracusan stockade and ditch. They ordered the ships to sail round from Thapsus into the Great Harbour of the Syracusans; with the first break of day they descended themselves from Epipolae to the level ground; and passing through the marsh where the soil was clay and firmer than the rest, over planks and gates which they laid down, they succeeded at sunrise in taking nearly the whole of the stockade and the ditch, and the remainder not long afterwards. A battle took place in which the Athenians were victorious, and the Syracusans on the right wing fled to the city, those on the left along the river. The three hundred chosen Athenian troops pressed on at full speed towards the bridge, intending to stop their passage, but the Syracusans, fearing that they would be cut off, and having most of their horsemen on the spot, turned upon the three hundred, and putting them to flight, charged the right wing of the Athenians. The panic now extended to the whole division108 at the extremity of the wing. Lamachus saw what had happened, and hastened to the rescue from his own place on the left wing, taking with him a few archers and the Argive troops; but pressing forward across a certain ditch he and a few who had followed him were cut off from the rest, and he fell with five or six others. The Syracusans hastily snatched up their bodies, and carried them across the river out of the reach of the enemy. But when they saw the rest of the Athenian army advancing towards them they retreated.
Meanwhile the Syracusans who fled first into the city, observing the resistance made by the left wing, took courage, and coming out drew up against that part of the Athenian line which was opposed to them. They also sent a detachment against the wall of circumvallation on Epipolae, supposing that it was undefended, and might be taken. They did indeed take and demolish the outwork, which was about a thousand feet in length; but Nicias, who happened to have been left there because he was ill, saved the lines109 themselves. He commanded the attendants of the camp to set fire to the engines and to the timber which had been left lying in front of the wall, for being without troops he knew that there was no other way of escape. The expedient succeeded; and in consequence of the fire the Syracusans gave up the attack. The Athenian army too was now hastening from the plain to the surrounding wall, with the intention of beating off the enemy; while the ships, as they had been ordered, were sailing from Thapsus into the Great Harbour. The Syracusans on the heights, seeing this combined movement, quickly retreated, together with the rest of the army, into the city, thinking that with their present force they were no longer able to prevent the completion of the line of wall towards the sea.
The Athenians then erected a trophy and restored the Syracusan dead under a flag of truce. The Syracusans delivered to them the bodies of Lamachus and his companions. The whole Athenian forces, both naval and military, were now on the spot, and they proceeded to cut off the Syracusans by a double wall, beginning at the southern cliff of Epipolae and extending to the sea. Provisions came to their army in abundance from various parts of Italy. Many of the Sicel tribes who had hitherto been hesitating now joined the Athenians, and three penteconters came from the Tyrrhenians. Everything began to answer to their hopes. The Syracusans despaired of saving the city by arms, for no help reached them even from Peloponnesus. Within the walls they were talking of peace, and they began to enter into communications with Nicias, who, now that Lamachus was dead, had the sole command. But no definite result was attained; although, as might be expected when men began to feel the pressure of the siege and their own helplessness, many proposals were made to him, and many more were discussed in the city. Their calamities even made them suspicious of one another; accordingly they deposed their generals, attributing the misfortunes which had befallen the city since they were appointed either to their ill-luck or to their treachery. In their room they chose Heraclides, Eucles, and Tellias.
Meanwhile Gylippus the Lacedaemonian and the ships from Corinth110 were already at Leucas hastening to their relief. They were alarmed at the reports which were continually pouring in, all false, but all agreeing that the Athenian lines round Syracuse were now complete. Gylippus had no longer any hope of Sicily, but thought that he might save Italy; so he and Pythen the Corinthian sailed across the Ionian Gulf to Tarentum as fast as they could, taking two Laconian and two Corinthian ships. The Corinthians were to man ten ships of their own, two Leucadian, and three Ambracian, and to follow. Gylippus on his arrival at Tarentum went on a mission to Thurii, of which his father had formerly been a citizen; he had hoped to gain over the Thurians, but failed; he then continued his voyage from Tarentum along the coast of Italy. He was caught in the Terinaean gulf111 by a wind which in this region blows violently and steadily from the north, and was carried into the open sea. After experiencing a most violent storm he returned to Tarentum, where he drew up those of his ships which had suffered in the gale and refitted them. Nicias heard of his approach, but despised the small number of his ships; in this respect he was like the Thurians. He thought that he had come on a mere privateering expedition, and for some time set no watch.112
During the same summer, about the same time, the Lacedaemonians and their allies invaded Argolis and wasted most of the Argive territory. The Athenians assisted the Argives with thirty ships. The use which they made of them was a glaring violation of the treaty with the Lacedaemonians. Hitherto they had only gone out on marauding expeditions from Pylos; when they landed, it was not upon the shores of Laconia, but upon other parts of the Peloponnese; and they had merely fought as the allies of the Argives and Mantineans. The Argives had often urged them just to land soldiers on Lacedaemonian ground, and to waste some part of Laconia, however small, without remaining, and they had refused. But now, under the command of Pythodorus, Laespodias, and Demaratus, they landed at Epidaurus Limera, Prasiae, and other places, and wasted the country. Thereby the Athenians at last gave the Lacedaemonians a right to complain of them and completely justified measures of retaliation. After the Athenian fleet had departed from Argos, and the Lacedaemonians had likewise retired, the Argives invaded Phliasia, and having ravaged the country and killed a few of the Phliasians, returned home.
1. Cp. iii. 86, 115.
2. Or, 'which is now outside the city.'
3. Cp. Herod. vi. 22, 23.
4. Cp. Herod. vii. 154.
5. Or, adopting the conjecture Gelôôn: ' and the city was colonised for the third time by the inhabitants of Gela.' This accords with the statement of Diodorus, xi. 76.
6. The Camarinaeans and Agrigentines, v. 4 fin., and some of the Sicels, iii. 103 init., 115 init.
7. Or 'with Egesta under Laches in the former war on behalf of the Leontines: See note. Cp. for either rendering iii. 86.
9. Cp. vi. 46.
10. Cp. v. 46 init.
11. Cp. v. 115 med.
12. Cp. v. 26 med, vi. 7 fin.
13. Cp. viii. 46.
14. Cp. ii. 87 init.; vi. 72 init.
15. Omitting the comma after ekplein.
16. Adopting the conjecture pephobêsthe, and placing a full stop after epeise.
17. Cp. vi. 88 init., 98 init., 103 med.
18. Cp. iv. 61 med.
19. Cp. iii. 86.
20. CP. vii. 55 fin.
21. Reading strateusomenoi and apartêsontes.
22. Or, 'you will be removed to a country'; or, reading with Bekker apartêsantes, 'you will find yourselves dependent on,' or 'will have been removed to a country.'
23. Cp. vi. 29 med.
24. Cp. vi. 43 med.; vii. 57 fin.
25. Cp. ch. 31 init., 43 init.
26. Cp. ii. 65 fin.
27. Or supplying auton with therapeuôn: 'being well disposed to him because' etc.
28. Cp. ii. 56, 58.
30. Others translate 'the crews generally,' or 'the soldiers' servants.'
31. Cp. i. 69 fin.
32. Cp. i. 143 fin.
33. Cp. ii. 89 med.
34. Cp. ii. 11 med.
35. Or, 'that they may hide their own consciousness of guilt.'
36. Cp. vi. 23 init.
37. Placing a colon after elthontas and taking mega gar . . . komisthênai as a parenthesis.
38. Cp. vi. 21 med.
39. Cp. ii. 40 med.
40. Cp. ii. 37 init.
41. Cp. iv. 74.
43. Cp. vi. 22 fin.
44. Cp. vi. 8 init.
45. Cp. vii. 42 med.
46. Reading ephormisthentas, a conjecture of Schaefer's adopted by Poppo; or, following the MSS. and reading ephormêthentas: 'there taking up a secure position and thence attacking Syracuse.'
47. Cp. iv. 65 init.
48. Cp. Herod. v. 65.
49. Cp. i. 20.
50. Reading topô with all the MSS.; or, reading tropô: 'in some underhand manner.'
51. Reading en tê autê stêlê. Or, reading with the MSS. en tê prôtê stêlê: 'on the front part of the column.' But the words can hardly bear this meaning. The word prôtê is probably derived from prôtos which follows.
52. Or, giving a more precise sense to xunechôs: 'because he had succeeded to the command and not been used to it:'
53. Cp. vi. 27.
54. CP. v. 84 init.
55. Cp. vi. 29.
56. Cp. vi. 2 med.
57. Cp. vi. 46 init.
58. Cp. vii, 13 fin.
60. Omitting kai before ei ek tôn neôn.
61. Cp. vi. 51.
62. Reading autous after apoklêsein: or, reading tous instead of autous: 'shut up those of the Athenians who were in the town.'
63. Placing a comma after hêdê.
64. Cp. vii. 61 init.
65. Cp. v. 69 fin.; vii. 61 fin., 77 med.
66. Cp. vii. 77 fin.
67. Or, giving a slightly different meaning to the present: 'at the prospect of the enemy's success.'
68. Cp. ii. 87 init.; vi. 11 fin.
69. Reading cheirotechnais. Or reading cheirotechnas with Bekker and the MSS.; "themselves were untrained handicraftsmen."
70. Cp. vi. 50 init.
71. Cp. vii. 4 fin.
72. Cp. Iii. 86
73. Cp. i. 99.
74. Cp. iv. 61 med.
75. Cp. i. 124 init.; v. 9 init.; vii. 5 fin.; viii. 25 med.
76. Cp. iii. 13 med.
77. Reading erêmos.
78. Cp. iv. 64 init.
79. Cp. vi. 44 fin., 46 init.
80. But cp. vi. 65 init., 67 med.
81. Cp. i. 37 init.; i. 73 init.
82. Cp. i. 74 init.
83. Cp. v. 89 init.
84. Cp. vi. 76 fin.
85. Cp. i. 75 fin.
86. Cp. ii. 63; iii. 37 init.
87. Cp. ii. 7 fin.; vii. 57 med.
88. Cp. vi. 11 init.
89. Cp. vi. 75 med.
90. Cp. vi. 98 init.
91. Cp. vi. 73.
92. Cp. v. 43 ff., 61 ff.
93. Cp. v. 43.
94. Cp. viii. 65 med.
95. Cp. vi. 39 init.
96. Reading machimôtatous and placing a comma after ekei.
97. Cp. vi. 74 fin.
98. Cp. vi. 4 init.
99. Cp. vi. 75 init.
102. Cp. iv. 133 init.
103. Or 'a circular fort.' See note.
104. Or 'that part of their wall which lay to the north of the circle.'
105. Or 'the Athenian circle.'
106. Cp. vi. 75 init.
107. Or, 'along.'
108. Reading phylê.
109. Or 'the circle.'
110. Cp. vi. 93 med.
111. See note.
112. Cp. vii. 1 med.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00