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History of The Peloponnesian War - Book VI   


In the meantime, while Syracuse pursued her preparations for war,
the Athenians were encamped at Naxos, and tried by negotiation to gain
as many of the Sicels as possible. Those more in the low lands, and
subjects of Syracuse, mostly held aloof; but the peoples of the
interior who had never been otherwise than independent, with few
exceptions, at once joined the Athenians, and brought down corn to the
army, and in some cases even money. The Athenians marched against
those who refused to join, and forced some of them to do so; in the
case of others they were stopped by the Syracusans sending garrisons
and reinforcements. Meanwhile the Athenians moved their winter
quarters from Naxos to Catana, and reconstructed the camp burnt by the
Syracusans, and stayed there the rest of the winter. They also sent
a galley to Carthage, with proffers of friendship, on the chance of
obtaining assistance, and another to Tyrrhenia; some of the cities
there having spontaneously offered to join them in the war. They
also sent round to the Sicels and to Egesta, desiring them to send
them as many horses as possible, and meanwhile prepared bricks,
iron, and all other things necessary for the work of
circumvallation, intending by the spring to begin hostilities.
In the meantime the Syracusan envoys dispatched to Corinth and
Lacedaemon tried as they passed along the coast to persuade the
Italiots to interfere with the proceedings of the Athenians, which
threatened Italy quite as much as Syracuse, and having arrived at
Corinth made a speech calling on the Corinthians to assist them on the
ground of their common origin. The Corinthians voted at once to aid
them heart and soul themselves, and then sent on envoys with them to
Lacedaemon, to help them to persuade her also to prosecute the war
with the Athenians more openly at home and to send succours to Sicily.
The envoys from Corinth having reached Lacedaemon found there
Alcibiades with his fellow refugees, who had at once crossed over in a
trading vessel from Thurii, first to Cyllene in Elis, and afterwards
from thence to Lacedaemon; upon the Lacedaemonians' own invitation,
after first obtaining a safe conduct, as he feared them for the part
he had taken in the affair of Mantinea. The result was that the
Corinthians, Syracusans, and Alcibiades, pressing all the same request
in the assembly of the Lacedaemonians, succeeded in persuading them;
but as the ephors and the authorities, although resolved to send
envoys to Syracuse to prevent their surrendering to the Athenians,
showed no disposition to send them any assistance, Alcibiades now came
forward and inflamed and stirred the Lacedaemonians by speaking as
follows:
"I am forced first to speak to you of the prejudice with which I
am regarded, in order that suspicion may not make you disinclined to
listen to me upon public matters. The connection, with you as your
proxeni, which the ancestors of our family by reason of some
discontent renounced, I personally tried to renew by my good offices
towards you, in particular upon the occasion of the disaster at Pylos.
But although I maintained this friendly attitude, you yet chose to
negotiate the peace with the Athenians through my enemies, and thus to
strengthen them and to discredit me. You had therefore no right to
complain if I turned to the Mantineans and Argives, and seized other
occasions of thwarting and injuring you; and the time has now come
when those among you, who in the bitterness of the moment may have
been then unfairly angry with me, should look at the matter in its
true light, and take a different view. Those again who judged me
unfavourably, because I leaned rather to the side of the commons, must
not think that their dislike is any better founded. We have always
been hostile to tyrants, and all who oppose arbitrary power are called
commons; hence we continued to act as leaders of the multitude;
besides which, as democracy was the government of the city, it was
necessary in most things to conform to established conditions.
However, we endeavoured to be more moderate than the licentious temper
of the times; and while there were others, formerly as now, who
tried to lead the multitude astray- the same who banished me- our

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