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Sicilian Expedition 415 – 413 B.C. . The Generals . Nicias ‘cautious’ . Alcibiades ‘ambitious’. Demosthenes ‘to the rescue’. Prelude to Expedition Egesteans ’ Request . Athenian Motives & Influences

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the generals
The Generals

Nicias‘cautious’

Alcibiades‘ambitious’

Demosthenes‘to the rescue’

prelude to expedition egesteans request
Prelude to ExpeditionEgesteans’ Request
  • Athenian Motives & Influences
  • “They were especially incited by envoys from Egesta, who had come to Athens and invoked their aid more urgently than ever.”
  • Egestaeans at war with Selinuntines– who had made an alliance with Syracuse
  • “Egestaeans reminded the Athenians of their alliance made in the time of Laches”
  • “..urged as a capital argument that if the Syracusans were allowed to go unpunished for their depopulation of Leontini, … and to get the whole power of the island into their hands… danger of their one day coming with a large force… as Dorians, to the aid of their Dorian brethern, and as colonists, to the aid of the Peloponnesians who had sent them out and joining these in pulling down the Athenian Empire.”
  • Athenian Decision
  • Voted first to send envoys to Egesta (determine the existence of the 60 talents promised by Egesta)
  • Ascertain the extent of the ‘posture of the war’ with the Selinuntines
prelude to expedition athenian envoys investigate
Prelude to ExpeditionAthenian Envoys Investigate
  • Athenian Envoys Return from Egesta
  • Returned with 60 talents of uncoined silver, for a month’s pay for 60 ships, which the Egestaeans requested
  • Athenians held an assembly and heard from their envoys and Egestaens a report “as attractive as it was untrue” voted for to send 60 ships to Sicily under the command of Alcibiades, Nicias and Lamachus.
  • Objectives of Sicilian Expedition (from Assembly):
  • 1) “Help the Egestaeans against the Selinuntines”
  • 2) “Restore Leontini”
  • 3) “Order all other matters in Sicily as they should deem best for the interests of Athens”
  • 5 days later a 2nd assembly was held: Nicias& Alcibiades Speeches
debate in assembly nicias
Debate in Assembly: Nicias

“Chosen to command against his will”

Strategic Danger & ill-advised Ambitions

“it is only too probable that if they found our power divided, as we are hurrying to divide it, they would attack us vigorously with the Siceliots”

“…of grasping at another empire before we have secured the one we have already”

“..others on the continents yield us but a doubtful obedience”“the Sicilians, even if conquered, are too far off and too numerous to be ruled without difficulty”“The Hellenes in Sicily would fear us most if we never went there at all, and next to this, if after displaying our power we went away again as soon as possible.”

  • “I think, notwithstanding, that we have still this question to examine, whether it be better to send out the ships at all, and that we ought not to give so little consideration to a matter of such moment”
  • “..or let ourselves be persuaded by foreigners into undertaking a war with which we have nothing to do”
  • “I affirm then that you leave many enemies behind you here to go yonder and bring more back with you”
  • “a treaty that will continue to exist nominally, as long as you keep quiet”
nicias charity begins at home
Nicias: Charity begins at Home
  • “instead, however, of being puffed up by the misfortune of your adversaries, you ought to think of breaking their spirit before giving yourselves up to confidence”
  • “how to defend ourselves most effectually against the oligarchical machinations of Lacedaemon”
  • “we are but now enjoying some respite from a great pestilence and from war, to the no small benefit of our estates and persons, and that it is right to employ these at home on our own behalf”
nicias beware the ambitious alcibiades
Nicias: Beware the Ambitious (Alcibiades)
  • “if there be any man here, overjoyed at being chosen to command, who urges you to make the expedition, merely for ends of his own”
  • “….specially if he be still too young to command….”
  • “…who seeks to be admired for his stud of horses…on account of its heavy expenses hopes for some profit from his appointment…”
  • “…to maintain his private splendour at his country’s risk…”
  • “alarm seizes me…summon any of the older men that may have such a person sitting next to them… for fear of being thought a coward if he do not vote for war”
debate in assembly alcibiades
Debate in Assembly: Alcibiades
  • “The position he held among the citizens led him to indulge his tastes beyond what his real means would bear”
  • “the mass of the people set him down as a pretender to the tyranny”
  • “individually, hi
the sicilian expeidition

The Sicilian Expeidition

Alcibiades, Nicias & Lamachusset sail to Sicily