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History of The Peloponnesian War - Book VI   

exertions to enable their own ships to excel in beauty and fast
sailing. Meanwhile the land forces had been picked from the best
muster-rolls, and vied with each other in paying great attention to
their arms and personal accoutrements. From this resulted not only a
rivalry among themselves in their different departments, but an idea
among the rest of the Hellenes that it was more a display of power and
resources than an armament against an enemy. For if any one had
counted up the public expenditure of the state, and the private outlay
of individuals- that is to say, the sums which the state had already
spent upon the expedition and was sending out in the hands of the
generals, and those which individuals had expended upon their personal
outfit, or as captains of galleys had laid out and were still to lay
out upon their vessels; and if he had added to this the journey
money which each was likely to have provided himself with,
independently of the pay from the treasury, for a voyage of such
length, and what the soldiers or traders took with them for the
purpose of exchange- it would have been found that many talents in
all were being taken out of the city. Indeed the expedition became not
less famous for its wonderful boldness and for the splendour of its
appearance, than for its overwhelming strength as compared with the
peoples against whom it was directed, and for the fact that this was
the longest passage from home hitherto attempted, and the most
ambitious in its objects considering the resources of those who
undertook it.
The ships being now manned, and everything put on board with which
they meant to sail, the trumpet commanded silence, and the prayers
customary before putting out to sea were offered, not in each ship
by itself, but by all together to the voice of a herald; and bowls
of wine were mixed through all the armament, and libations made by the
soldiers and their officers in gold and silver goblets. In their
prayers joined also the crowds on shore, the citizens and all others
that wished them well. The hymn sung and the libations finished,
they put out to sea, and first out in column then raced each other
as far as Aegina, and so hastened to reach Corcyra, where the rest
of the allied forces were also assembling.


Seventeenth Year of the War - Parties at Syracuse
- Story of Harmodius and Aristogiton -
Disgrace of Alcibiades

MEANWHILE at Syracuse news came in from many quarters of the
expedition, but for a long while met with no credence whatever.
Indeed, an assembly was held in which speeches, as will be seen,
were delivered by different orators, believing or contradicting the
report of the Athenian expedition; among whom Hermocrates, son of
Hermon, came forward, being persuaded that he knew the truth of the
matter, and gave the following counsel:
"Although I shall perhaps be no better believed than others have
been when I speak upon the reality of the expedition, and although I
know that those who either make or repeat statements thought not
worthy of belief not only gain no converts but are thought fools for
their pains, I shall certainly not be frightened into holding my
tongue when the state is in danger, and when I am persuaded that I can
speak with more authority on the matter than other persons. Much as
you wonder at it, the Athenians nevertheless have set out against us
with a large force, naval and military, professedly to help the
Egestaeans and to restore Leontini, but really to conquer Sicily,
and above all our city, which once gained, the rest, they think,
will easily follow. Make up your minds, therefore, to see them
speedily here, and see how you can best repel them with the means
under your hand, and do be taken off your guard through despising
the news, or neglect the common weal through disbelieving it.

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