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several occasions to those who were oppressed by the Syracusans, thus preparing the way for an expedition with a greater force. But Alcibiades was the person who inflamed this desire of theirs to the height, and prevailed with them no longer to proceed by partial measures, and by little and little, in their design, but to sail out with a great fleet, and undertake at once to make themselves masters of the island. He possessed the people with great hopes, and he himself entertained yet greater; and the conquest of Sicily, which was the utmost bound of their ambition, was but the mere outset of his expectation. Nicias endeavoured to divert the people from the enterprise, by representing to them that the taking of Syracuse would be a work of great difficulty; but Alcibiades dreamed of nothing less than the conquest of Carthage and Libya, and by the accession of these conceiving himself at once made master of Italy and of Peloponnesus, seemed to look upon Sicily as little more than a magazine for the war. The young men were soon elevated with these hopes, and listened gladly to those of riper years, who talked wonders of the countries they w re going to; so that you might see great numbers sitting in the wrestlinggrounds and on the public seats, drawing on the ground the figure of the island, and the situation of Libya and Carthage. Socrates the philosopher and Meton the astronomer are said, however, never to have hoped for any good to the commonwealth from this war; the one, it is to be supposed, presaging what would ensue, from signs given him by his attendant Genius; and the other, either upon rational consideration of the project, or by use of some art of divination, conceived fears for
THE SICILIAN EXPEDITION.
its issue, and, feigning madness, caught up a burning torch, and seemed as if he would have set his own house on fire. Others relate, that he did not make any pretence of being mad, but set his house on fire secretly in the night, and the next morning besought the people that for his comfort, after such a calamity, they would spare his son from the expedition. By which artifice he deceived his fellow-citizens, and obtained of them what he desired.
Together with Alcibiades, Nicias, much against his 18 will, was appointed general; and endeavoured to avoid the command, not the less on account of his colleague. But the Athenians thought the war would proceed more prosperously, if they did not send Alcibiades free from all restraint, but tempered his heat with the caution of Nicias. This they chose the rather to do, because Lamachus, the third general, though he was advanced in years, yet in several battles had appeared no less hot and rash than Alcibiades himself. When they began to deliberate as to the amount of the forces and the manner of making the necessary provisions, Nicias made another attempt to oppose the design and to prevent the war; but Alcibiades contradicted him, and carried his point with the people. And one Demostratus, an orator, proposing to give the generals absolute power for the preparations and the whole management of the war, it was presently so decreed. When all things were fitted for the voyage, many unlucky omens appeared. Just at the time fell the feast of Adonis, in which the women used to lay out in many parts of the city images resembling dead men carried out to their burial, and to represent funeral solemnities by beating
Muti- themselves, and singing mournful songs. The muti
lation however of the images of Mercury, most of which
A herma, or statue of Mercury.
in one night had their faces all disfigured, terrified many persons who were wont to disregard most things of that nature. It was given out that it was done by the Corinthians, for the sake of the Syracusans, who were their colony, in hopes that the Athenians by such prodigies might be induced to delay or abandon the war. But this report gained no credit with the people, nor yet the belief of those who would not suppose that there was anything ominous in the matter, but thought it only an extravagant action, committed in that sort of sport which runs into license, by wild young men coming from a debauch. Alike enraged and terrified at the thing, looking upon it to proceed from a conspiracy of persons, who designed some commotions in the state, the council, as well as the assembly of the people, both of which met frequently in a few days' space, examined diligently everything that might administer ground for suspicion.
MUTILATION OF THE HERMÆ.
During this examination, Androcles, one of the dema- 19 gogues, produced certain slaves and strangers before them, who accused Alcibiades and some of his friends of defacing other images in the same manner, and of having profanely acted the sacred Mysteries at a drunken meeting, where one Theodorus represented the Herald, Polytion the Torch-bearer, and Alcibiades the Chief Priest, while the rest of the party appeared as candidates for initiation, and had the style of Initiates. These are the matters contained in the articles of information*, which Thessalus the son of Cimon exhibited against Alcibiades, for his impious mockery of the two goddesses, Ceres and Proserpine. The people were highly exasperated and incensed against Alcibiades upon this accusation, which being aggravated by Androcles, the most malicious of all his enemies, at first disturbed his friends exceedingly. But when they perceived that all the seamen designed for Sicily were for him, and the soldiers also, and when the Argive and Mantinean auxiliaries, a thousand men at arms, openly declared that they had undertaken this distant maritime expedition for the sake of Alcibiades, and that, if he was ill-used, they would all go home, they recovered their courage, and became eager to make use of the present opportunity for justifying him. At this his enemies were again discouraged, fearing lest the people should be more gentle to him in their sentence, because of the occasion they had for his service. Therefore to obviate this, they contrived that some other orators,
* An Eisangélia, the technical term for an indictment before the legislature, for misdemeanours not coming strictly under the letter of any written law.
who did not appear to be enemies to Alcibiades, but really hated him no less than those who avowed it, should stand up in the assembly and say, that it was a very absurd thing that one who was created general of such an army with absolute power, after his troops were assembled, and the confederates were come, should lose the opportunity, delaying here whilst the list of
the jurors should be made up, and a day and hour be - determined for the pleadings: and, therefore, let him sail at once; good fortune attend him ; and when the war should be at an end, he might then in person make his defence according to the laws. Alcibiades perceived the malice of this postponement, and, appearing in the assembly, represented that it was monstrous for him to be sent with the command of so large an army, when he lay under such accusations and calumnies; that he deserved to die if he could not clear himself of the crimes objected to him ; but when he had so done, and had proved his innocence, he should then cheerfully apply himself to the war, as standing no longer in fear
of false accusers. 20 But when he could not prevail with the people, who
commanded him to sail immediately, he set out, and the other generals with him, having under their command near one hundred and forty galleys, five thousand one hundred men at arms, and about one thousand three hundred archers, slingers, and light-armed men, and all the other provisions corresponding. And arriving on the coast of Italy, he occupied Rhegium, and there stated his views of the manner in which they ought to conduct the war. He was opposed by Nicias; but Lamachus being of his opinion, they sailed for