Thucydides’ History, Book 6

Chapter 25

And at the end one of the Athenians came forward and called upon Nicias, saying that he must not make excuses nor a mere show of action, but rather, facing everyone there, say what preparation the Athenians should vote for him. And he, although unwilling, said that he would deliberate also with those commanding alongside him during a more peaceful moment, but certainly, as much as it seemed to him right now, that with respect to triremes, not less than one-hundred must sail (as many as they might expect to have for troop-transports of the Athenians themselves, and others of their allies were to be sent), and for all the hoplites altogether, both of the Athenians and of their allies, five thousand and no less, and if they were at all able, even more ; and other preparations just as according to the register, of archers, those from here and from Crete, and of slingers, and if he thought that there was anything else fitting, they should be made ready to bring.

Chapter 26

And having heard, the Athenians voted straightaway that the generals be autonomous concerning the size of the army and for the voyage in general and to act in whatever way seemed to be best for them [for the Athenians]. And after that the preparation began, they sent for their allies and made a register of citizens there. The city had presently recovered from the plague and the continual war both in terms of the number of the generation born after and in terms of wealth, in its accumulation, due to the armistice, such that everything was easily furnished. And they were in readiness.

Chapter 27

At this time, the Herms statues sat in the city of the Athenians (a squared work, they were, according to custom, both in private porches and in the shrines), one night most were vandalised all round their faces. No one saw who did this, but with a large reward for information from the public treasury those men were sought, and they voted besides that if anyone also knew any other impiety that occurred, and wished to, should disclose it without fear, whether of the townsmen, or the foreigners, or of the slaves. They took the matter seriously ; for this seemed to be an omen of the departure and also to have happened according to a sworn conspiracy both of revolution and of breaking up the public.

Chapter 28

There was, however, revealed from some metics and attendants nothing concerning the Herms, but certain earlier vandalisms of other idols that had taken place with childish sport and wine, and mysteries that had been performed in houses, for insolent purpose ; of which they also accused Alcibiades. And those suspecting these things, those most vexed by Alcibiades, being for them an impediment to be put in charge of the public, and believing that, if they could drive him out, they would be foremost, they were shouting and exaggerating, that these mysteries, and also the vandalism of the Hermes occurred for the dissolution of the public, and there was none of these that was done without this man, adding as proof the other un-democratic indecency in his pursuits.

Chapter 29

And amongst all those present, he defended himself against the disclosures, and he was at hand prior to sailing to be judged, if any of these things were his doings (for already the things of the preparation had been procured), and if any of these things had been done, to suffer punishment, but if he were acquitted, to take command. And he appealed that during his absence they not be satisfied concerning slanders against him, but rather they execute him now, if he did any wrong, and that it would be most prudent not to send him on a campaign of such importance with accusation of this sort, before making a determination. And those who hated him, since they feared lest the the expeditionary force would be well-disposed toward him, if he were put to a test, and lest the public be softened, indulging him because the Argives were joining the expedition due to that man, and some of the Mantineans, too, they turned away from this and argued earnestly against it, urging other orators who were saying that he sail now and not hold back putting out to sea, and be judged on the specified days after he left, wanting him to go to trial for worse slanders which they intended to furnish while he was away, and to have him returned under summons. Thus it was decreed that Alcibiades sail.

Chapter 30

After this, since it was already the middle of summer, the departure took place for Sicily. Thus to most of the allies and for the grain-bearing merchantmen and smaller ships and as much other preparation as followed along it had been said earlier to gather together at Corcyra as they would cross over the Ionian sea  from there for the Iapygian headlands as a group ; The Athenians themselves and any of the allies with them, coming down to the Piraeus on the specified day at dawn, they filled the ships for putting out to sea. And a whole other crowd, so to speak, came down with them, any in the city, of townsmen or foreigner both, the natives each escorting their own, companions, kinsmen, children, all were there with hope alongside lamentations, the one for what they might acquire, the other over whether they would ever be seen again, taking to heart how much voyage they were being sent away from their families.

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