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The Athenians prepare to set sail. Sinister Omens. The
Statues of Mercury are mutilated. Alcibiades is accused, and insists upon his being tried, but his Request is not granted. Triumphant Departure of the
fleet. . When all things were ready for their departure, and they were preparing to sail, there happened several bad omens, which filled the minds of the people with trouble and disquietude. The b women were at that time celebrating the festival of Adonis, during which the whole city was in mourning, and full of images representing dead persons and funeral processions; and every part echoed with the cries and groans of the women who followed those statues with lamentations. Whence it was feared, that this gay and magnificent armament would soon lose all its splendour, and € wither away like a flower.
The general affliction was increased by another accident. The statues of Mercury which stood at the entrance of private houses and temples, were all mutilated in one night, and particularly in the face; and although a great reward was promised to any person who should discover the authors of so audacious a crime, no one was accused. The citizens could not forbear considering this uncommon event, not only as an unlucky omen, but as a contrivance of some factious men, who harboured very ill designs. Some young people had already been accused of committing a nearly similar crime in the midst of a drunken frolic, and particularly of having wantonly mimicked the ceremonies and mysteries of Ceres and Proserpine; with Alcibiades, who represented the high-priest, at their head d. It highly concerns all those in exalted stations, to be extremely careful of every step they take, and not to give the least opportunity to the most inveterate malice to censure them. They ought to cali to mind, says Plutarch, that the eyes of all men are upon their conduct, and that they are ever eagle-eyed on these occasions; that not only their outward actions pass the most severe scrutiny, but that they penetrate to their most private apartments, and there take the strictest notice of their conversation, their diversions, and the most secret things transa A. M. 3589. Ant. J. C. 415. Thucyd. I. vi. p. 428. Plut. in Alcib. p. 200,
% This superstitious rite had extended even to God's people. And behold therı sat woinen wreping for Tammuz Eztk viii. 14. NB The Latin ver. sion of the Bible, which M. Rollin foliows, says, weeping for Adonis ; which is the same as I ammuz, the Hebrews calling Adonis by that name.
c The historian alludes to the plants and flowers that were carried in that ceremony, and which went by the Dane ot Adonis's gardens.
Plnt. in præc, de rep. p. 800,
acted by them. It was this dread of the piercing eye of the people, that kept Themistocles and Pericles perpetually on their guard, and obliged them to refrain from most of those pleasures in which others indulged themselves.
As for Alcibiades, he did not know what it was to lay himself under any restraints; and accordingly, as his character was so notorious, people were easily persuaded that he very probably had been concerned in what had happened. His luxury, libertinism, and irreligion, gave an air of probability to this charge, and the accuser was not afraid of mentioning his name. This attack staggered the constancy, and resolution of Alcibiades; but hearing the soldiers and sailors declare that they were induced to engage in this distant expedition beyond sea, by no other motive than their affection for Alcibiades; and that, should the least injury be done him, they would all immediately leave the service; he took heart, and appeared at his trial on the day appointed for that purpose. His enemies, upon pretence that it was necessary for the fleet to set sail, got the judgment superseded. It was to no purpose for Alcibiades to insist upon being tried, in case he was guilty, and not be ruined in his absence; and to represent, that it would be the most shocking and barbarous injustice to oblige him to embark for so important an expedition, without first making due inquiry into the accusations, and horrid slanders which were cast upon him, the bare thoughts of which would keep him in perpetual fear and anxiety. However, none of these remonstrances proved effectual, and the fleet was ordered to set out.
a They accordingly prepared to set sail, after having appointed Corcyra as the rendezvous for most of the allies, and such ships as were to carry the provisions and baggage. All the citizens, as well as foreigners in Athens, flocked by daybreak to the port of Piræus. The former attended their children, relations, friends or companions, with a joy overcast with a little sorrow, upon their bidding adieu to persons that were as dear to them as life, who were setting out on a far distant and very dangerous expedition, from which it was uncertain whether they ever would return, though they flattered themselves with the hopes that it would be successful. The foreigners came thither to feed their eyes with a sight which was highly worthy their curiosity; for no single city in the world had ever fitted out so gallant a fleet. Those indeed which had been sent against Epidaurus and Potidiæ, were as considerable with regard to the number of soldiers and ships; but then they were not equipped with so much magnificence, neither was their voyage so long, nor their enterprise so important. Here were seen a land and a naval army, equipped with the utmost care, and at the expense of private individuals as well as of the public, with all things necessary on account of the length of the voyage, and the duration of the war. The city furnished an hundred empty gallies, that is, threescore light ones, and forty to transport the soldiers heavily armed. Every mariner received daily a drachma or tenpence (French) for his pay, exclusively of what the captains
a Thucyd. p. 430-432. Diod ke xiii. p. 135, VOL. III,
of ships gave the a rowers of the first bench. Add to this the me pomp and magnificence that was displayed universally; every one striving to eclipse the rest, and each captain endeavouring to make his ship the lightest, and at the same time the gayest of the whole fleet. I shall not take notice of the choice in the soldiers and seamen, who were the flower of the Athenians; nor of their emulation with regard to the beauty and neatness of their arms and equipage; any more than of their officers, who had laid out considerable sums purely to distinguish themselves, and to give foreigners an advantageous idea of their persons and circumstances ; so that this sight had the air of a tournament, in which the utmost magnificence is displayed, rather than of a warlike i expedition. But the boldness and greatness of the design still exceeded its expense and splendour.
When the ships were loaded, and the troops got on board, the trumpet sounded, and solemn prayers were offered up for the success of the expedition; gold and silver cups were filling every where with wine, and the accustomed libations were poured out: the people who lined the shore shouting at the same time, and lifting up their hands to heaven to wish their fellow-citizens a good voyage and success. And now, the hymn being sung, and the ceremonies ended, the k ships sailed one after another out of the harbour; after? which they strove to outsail one another, till the whole fleet met at Ægina. From thence it made for Corcyra, where the army of the allies was assembling with the rest of the fleet.
Sect. IX. Syracuse is alarmed. The Athenian Fleet arrives in Sicily.
6 Advice of this expedition having been brought to Syracuse from all quarters, it was thought so improbable, that at first nobody would believe it. But as it was more and more confirmed every day, the Syracusans began to think seriously of making the necessary preparations ; and sent deputations to every part of the island, to ask assistance of some,
4. They were called Iparita! They had longer wars than the rest, and como sequently more trouble in rowing:
Thucyd. Io vi p. 437–445. Diod. I. xiii. p. 135, 136,
and send succours to others. They garrisoned all the castles -1 and forts in the country ; reviewed all the soldiers and #horses ; examined the arms in the magazines ; and settled
and prepared all things, as if the enemy had been in their country.
In the mean time the feet sailed in three squadrons, each under the command of its particular general. It consisted of 136 ships, 100 whereof belonged to Athens, and the rest to the allies. On board these ships were 5,000 heavy-armed soldiers, 2,200 of whom were Athenian citizens, viz. 1,500 of those who had estates, and 700 & who had none, but were equally citizens ; the rest consisted of allies. With regard to the light infantry, there were 80 archers of Crete, and 400 of other countries; 700 Rhodian slingers, and 120 exiles
of Megara. There was but one company of horse, consistsing of 30 troopers, who had embarked on board a vessel propter for transporting cavalry.
Both the feet and the forces were afterwards increased considerably. Thirty vessels carried the provisions and cooks, with masons, carpenters, and their several tools ; the whole followed by 100 small vessels for the service, exclusive of merchant ships, of which there were great numbers. All this fleet had sailed together from Corcyra. Having met with but an indifferent reception from the people of Tarentum and Locris, they sailed with a favourable wind for Rhegium, where they made some stay. The Athenians were very urgent with the inhabitants of Rhegium to succour those of Leontium, who came originally from Chalcis as well as themselves : but these answered, that they were determined to stand neuter and to undertake nothing but in concert with the rest of Italy. Here they debated on the manner in which it was necessary to carry on the war, and waited for the coming up of those ships that had been sent out to make discoveries of a proper place for landing, and to inquire whether the citizens of Egesta had got their money ready. Upon their return they brought advice that they had but 30 talents in the treasury. This Nicias had foreseen, but no regard had been paid to his salutary counsels. 6 He did not fail, the instant this news was brought, to
on the counsel he had given in Athens ; to show the wrong step they had taken in engaging in this war; and to exaggerate the fatal consequences which might be ex
pected from it: in all which he acted very imprudently. It was extremely judicious in Nicias to oppose it in the beginning, and to set every engine
at work to crush if possible this ill-fated project. But as the expedition was resolved, and he
a These were called SVTES.
6 Plut. In Nic. p. 53%
himself had accepted of the command, he ought not to have been perpetually looking backward, nor to have repeated incessantly, that this war had been undertaken in opposition to all the maxims of prudence; and, by that means, to cool the ardour of his two colleagues in the command, to dispirit the soldiers, and blunt that edge of confidence and ardour, which assure the success of great enterprises. The Athenians, on the contrary, ought to have advanced boldly towards the enemy; should have attacked them with vigour, and have spread an universal terror, by a sudden and unexpected descent.
But Nicias acted in a quite different manner. His opinion, in the conncil of war, was, that they should sail for Selinus, which had been the first occasion of this expedition ; and then, if the citizens of Egesta performed their promise, and gave a month's pay to the army, to proceed forward ; or otherwise, to oblige them to furnish provisions for the sixty gallies they had demanded, and continue in that road till they should have concluded a peace with the citizens of Selinus either by force of arms or some other way. He said, tha they afterwards should return to Athens, after having tu's made a parade of their forces, and the assistance they gave their allies; unless they should have an opportunity of mak ing some attempt in favour of the Leontines, or of bringing over some city into their alliance.
Alcibiades answered, that it would be inglorious, afte their sailing out with so noble a fleet, to return without doin any thing; and that they should first endeavour to conclud an alliance with the Greeks and Barbarians, in order to de tach them from the Syracusans, and procure troops and pro visions from them; and especially to send a deputation Messina, which was as it were the key of Sicily, and its ha: bour capacious enough to hold all the fleet. He declare farther, that after seeing who were their friends and enemie and strengthening themselves by the addition of a new rei forcement, they then should attack either Selius or Syr cuse; in case the one should refuse to conclude a pe ce wi Egesta, and the other not permit the Leontines to returi) their city:
Lamachus offered a third opinion, which perhaps w the most prudent: that was, to sail lirectly for Syrac 13 before its citizens had time to recover from their surpri: or prepare for their defence. He observed that the sudi arrival of an armed force always strikes the greatest te ror; and that when enemies are allowed tiine to reflect a make preparations, it also revives their courage; where when they are suddenly attacked, and still in confusion, th are generally overcome; that as they would be masters