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History of The Peloponnesian War - Book VI   


theirs. These accordingly magnified the matter and loudly proclaimed
that the affair of the mysteries and the mutilation of the Hermae were
part and parcel of a scheme to overthrow the democracy, and that
nothing of all this had been done without Alcibiades; the proofs
alleged being the general and undemocratic licence of his life and
habits.
Alcibiades repelled on the spot the charges in question, and also
before going on the expedition, the preparations for which were now
complete, offered to stand his trial, that it might be seen whether he
was guilty of the acts imputed to him; desiring to be punished if
found guilty, but, if acquitted, to take the command. Meanwhile he
protested against their receiving slanders against him in his absence,
and begged them rather to put him to death at once if he were
guilty, and pointed out the imprudence of sending him out at the
head of so large an army, with so serious a charge still undecided.
But his enemies feared that he would have the army for him if he
were tried immediately, and that the people might relent in favour
of the man whom they already caressed as the cause of the Argives
and some of the Mantineans joining in the expedition, and did their
utmost to get this proposition rejected, putting forward other orators
who said that he ought at present to sail and not delay the
departure of the army, and be tried on his return within a fixed
number of days; their plan being to have him sent for and brought home
for trial upon some graver charge, which they would the more easily
get up in his absence. Accordingly it was decreed that he should sail.
After this the departure for Sicily took place, it being now about
midsummer. Most of the allies, with the corn transports and the
smaller craft and the rest of the expedition, had already received
orders to muster at Corcyra, to cross the Ionian Sea from thence in
a body to the Iapygian promontory. But the Athenians themselves, and
such of their allies as happened to be with them, went down to Piraeus
upon a day appointed at daybreak, and began to man the ships for
putting out to sea. With them also went down the whole population, one
may say, of the city, both citizens and foreigners; the inhabitants of
the country each escorting those that belonged to them, their friends,
their relatives, or their sons, with hope and lamentation upon their
way, as they thought of the conquests which they hoped to make, or
of the friends whom they might never see again, considering the long
voyage which they were going to make from their country. Indeed, at
this moment, when they were now upon the point of parting from one
another, the danger came more home to them than when they voted for
the expedition; although the strength of the armament, and the profuse
provision which they remarked in every department, was a sight that
could not but comfort them. As for the foreigners and the rest of
the crowd, they simply went to see a sight worth looking at and
passing all belief.
Indeed this armament that first sailed out was by far the most
costly and splendid Hellenic force that had ever been sent out by a
single city up to that time. In mere number of ships and heavy
infantry that against Epidaurus under Pericles, and the same when
going against Potidaea under Hagnon, was not inferior; containing as
it did four thousand Athenian heavy infantry, three hundred horse, and
one hundred galleys accompanied by fifty Lesbian and Chian vessels and
many allies besides. But these were sent upon a short voyage and
with a scanty equipment. The present expedition was formed in
contemplation of a long term of service by land and sea alike, and was
furnished with ships and troops so as to be ready for either as
required. The fleet had been elaborately equipped at great cost to the
captains and the state; the treasury giving a drachma a day to each
seaman, and providing empty ships, sixty men-of-war and forty
transports, and manning these with the best crews obtainable; while
the captains gave a bounty in addition to the pay from the treasury to
the thranitae and crews generally, besides spending lavishly upon
figure-heads and equipments, and one and all making the utmost

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